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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: Marriage
Author: Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Marriage" ***

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



  |=================================================|
  | MR. WELLS HAS ALSO WRITTEN                      |
  | The following Novels:                           |
  |                                                 |
  | TONO BUNGAY                                     |
  | LOVE AND MR. LEWISHAM                           |
  | KIPPS     ANN VERONICA                          |
  | THE HISTORY OF MR. POLLY                        |
  | and THE NEW MACHIAVELLI                         |
  |                                                 |
  | Numerous short stories now published            |
  | in a single volume under the title.             |
  |     THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND                    |
  |                                                 |
  | The following fantastic Romances:               |
  |                                                 |
  | THE TIME MACHINE                                |
  | THE WONDERFUL VISIT                             |
  | THE INVISIBLE MAN                               |
  | THE WAR OF THE WORLDS                           |
  | THE SEA LADY                                    |
  | IN THE DAYS OF THE COMET                        |
  | THE SLEEPER AWAKES                              |
  | THE FOOD OF THE GODS                            |
  | THE WAR IN THE AIR                              |
  | THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON                       |
  | and THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU                 |
  |                                                 |
  | And a series of books upon social and political |
  | questions of which                              |
  |                                                 |
  | A MODERN UTOPIA                                 |
  | FIRST AND LAST THINGS (RELIGION)                |
  | NEW WORLDS FOR OLD                              |
  | THE FUTURE IN AMERICA                           |
  | and ANTICIPATIONS                               |
  | are the chief.                                  |
  |=================================================|



  MARRIAGE

  BY

  H. G. WELLS

  "And the Poor Dears haven't the shadow of a doubt they will live
  happily ever afterwards."--_From a Private Letter_.

  [Illustration]

  NEW YORK
  DUFFIELD & COMPANY
  1912



  COPYRIGHT, 1912
  DUFFIELD & COMPANY



  _FRATERNALLY
       TO
  ARNOLD BENNETT_



    BOOK THE FIRST
    MARJORIE MARRIES



MARRIAGE

CHAPTER THE FIRST

A DAY WITH THE POPES


§ 1

An extremely pretty girl occupied a second-class compartment in one of
those trains which percolate through the rural tranquillities of middle
England from Ganford in Oxfordshire to Rumbold Junction in Kent. She was
going to join her family at Buryhamstreet after a visit to some
Gloucestershire friends. Her father, Mr. Pope, once a leader in the
coach-building world and now by retirement a gentleman, had taken the
Buryhamstreet vicarage furnished for two months (beginning on the
fifteenth of July) at his maximum summer rental of seven guineas a week.
His daughter was on her way to this retreat.

At first she had been an animated traveller, erect and keenly regardful
of every detail upon the platforms of the stations at which her
conveyance lingered, but the tedium of the journey and the warmth of the
sunny afternoon had relaxed her pose by imperceptible degrees, and she
sat now comfortably in the corner, with her neat toes upon the seat
before her, ready to drop them primly at the first sign of a
fellow-traveller. Her expression lapsed more and more towards an almost
somnolent reverie. She wished she had not taken a second-class ticket,
because then she might have afforded a cup of tea at Reading, and so
fortified herself against this insinuating indolence.

She was travelling second class, instead of third as she ought to have
done, through one of those lapses so inevitable to young people in her
position. The two Carmel boys and a cousin, two greyhounds and a chow
had come to see her off; they had made a brilliant and prosperous group
on the platform and extorted the manifest admiration of two youthful
porters, and it had been altogether too much for Marjorie Pope to admit
it was the family custom--except when her father's nerves had to be
considered--to go third class. So she had made a hasty calculation--she
knew her balance to a penny because of the recent tipping--and found it
would just run to it. Fourpence remained,--and there would be a porter
at Buryhamstreet!

Her mother had said: "You will have Ample." Well, opinions of amplitude
vary. With numerous details fresh in her mind, Marjorie decided it would
be wiser to avoid financial discussion during her first few days at
Buryhamstreet.

There was much in Marjorie's equipment in the key of travelling second
class at the sacrifice of afternoon tea. There was, for example, a
certain quiet goodness of style about her clothes, though the skirt
betrayed age, and an entire absence of style about her luggage, which
was all in the compartment with her, and which consisted of a distended
hold-all, a very good tennis racquet in a stretcher, a portmanteau of
cheap white basketwork held together by straps, and a very new,
expensive-looking and meretricious dressing-bag of imitation morocco,
which had been one of her chief financial errors at Oxbridge. The
collection was eloquent indeed of incompatible standards....

Marjorie had a chin that was small in size if resolute in form, and a
mouth that was not noticeably soft and weak because it was conspicuously
soft and pretty. Her nose was delicately aquiline and very subtly and
finely modelled, and she looked out upon the world with steady,
grey-blue eyes beneath broad, level brows that contradicted in a large
measure the hint of weakness below. She had an abundance of copper-red
hair, which flowed back very prettily from her broad, low forehead and
over her delicate ears, and she had that warm-tinted clear skin that
goes so well with reddish hair. She had a very dainty neck, and the long
slender lines of her body were full of the promise of a riper beauty.
She had the good open shoulders of a tennis-player and a swimmer. Some
day she was to be a tall, ruddy, beautiful woman. She wore simple
clothes of silvery grey and soft green, and about her waist was a belt
of grey leather in which there now wilted two creamy-petalled roses.

That was the visible Marjorie. Somewhere out of time and space was an
invisible Marjorie who looked out on the world with those steady eyes,
and smiled or drooped with the soft red lips, and dreamt, and wondered,
and desired.


§ 2

What a queer thing the invisible human being would appear if, by some
discovery as yet inconceivable, some spiritual X-ray photography, we
could flash it into sight! Long ago I read a book called "Soul Shapes"
that was full of ingenious ideas, but I doubt very much if the thing so
revealed would have any shape, any abiding solid outline at all. It is
something more fluctuating and discursive than that--at any rate, for
every one young enough not to have set and hardened. Things come into
it and become it, things drift out of it and cease to be it, things turn
upside down in it and change and colour and dissolve, and grow and eddy
about and blend into each other. One might figure it, I suppose, as a
preposterous jumble animated by a will; a floundering disconnectedness
through which an old hump of impulse rises and thrusts unaccountably; a
river beast of purpose wallowing in a back eddy of mud and weeds and
floating objects and creatures drowned. Now the sunshine of gladness
makes it all vivid, now it is sombre and grimly insistent under the sky
of some darkling mood, now an emotional gale sweeps across it and it is
one confused agitation....

And surely these invisible selves of men were never so jumbled, so
crowded, complicated, and stirred about as they are at the present time.
Once I am told they had a sort of order, were sphered in religious
beliefs, crystal clear, were arranged in a cosmogony that fitted them as
hand fits glove, were separated by definite standards of right and wrong
which presented life as planned in all its essential aspects from the
cradle to the grave. Things are so no longer. That sphere is broken for
most of us; even if it is tied about and mended again, it is burst like
a seed case; things have fallen out and things have fallen in....

Can I convey in any measure how it was with Marjorie?

What was her religion?

In college forms and returns, and suchlike documents, she would describe
herself as "Church of England." She had been baptized according to the
usages of that body, but she had hitherto evaded confirmation into it,
and although it is a large, wealthy, and powerful organization with
many minds to serve it, it had never succeeded in getting into her quick
and apprehensive intelligence any lucid and persuasive conception of
what it considered God and the universe were up to with her. It had
failed to catch her attention and state itself to her. A number of
humorous and other writers and the general trend of talk around her, and
perhaps her own shrewd little observation of superficial things, had, on
the other hand, created a fairly definite belief in her that it wasn't
as a matter of fact up to very much at all, that what it said wasn't
said with that absolute honesty which is a logical necessity in every
religious authority, and that its hierarchy had all sorts of political
and social considerations confusing its treatment of her immortal
soul....

Marjorie followed her father in abstaining from church. He too professed
himself "Church of England," but he was, if we are to set aside merely
superficial classifications, an irascible atheist with a respect for
usage and Good Taste, and an abject fear of the disapproval of other
gentlemen of his class. For the rest he secretly disliked clergymen on
account of the peculiarity of their collars, and a certain influence
they had with women. When Marjorie at the age of fourteen had displayed
a hankering after ecclesiastical ceremony and emotional religion, he had
declared: "We don't want any of _that_ nonsense," and sent her into the
country to a farm where there were young calves and a bottle-fed lamb
and kittens. At times her mother went to church and displayed
considerable orthodoxy and punctilio, at times the good lady didn't, and
at times she thought in a broad-minded way that there was a Lot in
Christian Science, and subjected herself to the ministrations of an
American named Silas Root. But his ministrations were too expensive for
continuous use, and so the old faith did not lose its hold upon the
family altogether.

       *       *       *       *       *

At school Marjorie had been taught what I may best describe as Muffled
Christianity--a temperate and discreet system designed primarily not to
irritate parents, in which the painful symbol of the crucifixion and the
riddle of what Salvation was to save her from, and, indeed, the coarser
aspects of religion generally, were entirely subordinate to images of
amiable perambulations, and a rich mist of finer feelings. She had been
shielded, not only from arguments against her religion, but from
arguments for it--the two things go together--and I do not think it was
particularly her fault if she was now growing up like the great majority
of respectable English people, with her religious faculty as it were,
artificially faded, and an acquired disposition to regard any
speculation of why she was, and whence and whither, as rather foolish,
not very important, and in the very worst possible taste.

And so, the crystal globe being broken which once held souls together,
you may expect to find her a little dispersed and inconsistent in her
motives, and with none of that assurance a simpler age possessed of the
exact specification of goodness or badness, the exact delimitation of
right and wrong. Indeed, she did not live in a world of right and wrong,
or anything so stern; "horrid" and "jolly" had replaced these archaic
orientations. In a world where a mercantile gentility has conquered
passion and God is neither blasphemed nor adored, there necessarily
arises this generation of young people, a little perplexed, indeed, and
with a sense of something missing, but feeling their way inevitably at
last to the great releasing question, "Then why shouldn't we have a
good time?"

Yet there was something in Marjorie, as in most human beings, that
demanded some general idea, some aim, to hold her life together. A girl
upon the borders of her set at college was fond of the phrase "living
for the moment," and Marjorie associated with it the speaker's lax
mouth, sloe-like eyes, soft, quick-flushing, boneless face, and a habit
of squawking and bouncing in a forced and graceless manner. Marjorie's
natural disposition was to deal with life in a steadier spirit than
that. Yet all sorts of powers and forces were at work in her, some
exalted, some elvish, some vulgar, some subtle. She felt keenly and
desired strongly, and in effect she came perhaps nearer the realization
of that offending phrase than its original exponent. She had a clean
intensity of feeling that made her delight in a thousand various things,
in sunlight and textures, and the vividly quick acts of animals, in
landscape, and the beauty of other girls, in wit, and people's voices,
and good strong reasoning, and the desire and skill of art. She had a
clear, rapid memory that made her excel perhaps a little too easily at
school and college, an eagerness of sympathetic interest that won people
very quickly and led to disappointments, and a very strong sense of the
primary importance of Miss Marjorie Pope in the world. And when any very
definite dream of what she would like to be and what she would like to
do, such as being the principal of a ladies' college, or the first woman
member of Parliament, or the wife of a barbaric chief in Borneo, or a
great explorer, or the wife of a millionaire and a great social leader,
or George Sand, or Saint Teresa, had had possession of her imagination
for a few weeks, an entirely contrasted and equally attractive dream
would presently arise beside it and compete with it and replace it. It
wasn't so much that she turned against the old one as that she was
attracted by the new, and she forgot the old dream rather than abandoned
it, simply because she was only one person, and hadn't therefore the
possibility of realizing both.

In certain types Marjorie's impressionability aroused a passion of
proselytism. People of the most diverse kinds sought to influence her,
and they invariably did so. Quite a number of people, including her
mother and the principal of her college, believed themselves to be the
leading influence in her life. And this was particularly the case with
her aunt Plessington. Her aunt Plessington was devoted to social and
political work of an austere and aggressive sort (in which Mr.
Plessington participated); she was childless, and had a Movement of her
own, the Good Habits Movement, a progressive movement of the utmost
scope and benevolence which aimed at extensive interferences with the
food and domestic intimacies of the more defenceless lower classes by
means ultimately of legislation, and she had Marjorie up to see her,
took her for long walks while she influenced with earnestness and
vigour, and at times had an air of bequeathing her mantle, movement and
everything, quite definitely to her "little Madge." She spoke of
training her niece to succeed her, and bought all the novels of Mrs.
Humphry Ward for her as they appeared, in the hope of quickening in her
that flame of politico-social ambition, that insatiable craving for
dinner-parties with important guests, which is so distinctive of the
more influential variety of English womanhood. It was due rather to her
own habit of monologue than to any reserve on the part of Marjorie that
she entertained the belief that her niece was entirely acquiescent in
these projects. They went into Marjorie's mind and passed. For nearly a
week, it is true, she had dramatized herself as the angel and
inspiration of some great modern statesman, but this had been ousted by
a far more insistent dream, begotten by a picture she had seen in some
exhibition, of a life of careless savagery, whose central and constantly
recurrent incident was the riding of barebacked horses out of
deep-shadowed forest into a foamy sunlit sea--in a costume that would
certainly have struck Aunt Plessington as a mistake.

If you could have seen Marjorie in her railway compartment, with the
sunshine, sunshine mottled by the dirty window, tangled in her hair and
creeping to and fro over her face as the train followed the curves of
the line, you would certainly have agreed with me that she was pretty,
and you might even have thought her beautiful. But it was necessary to
fall in love with Marjorie before you could find her absolutely
beautiful. You might have speculated just what business was going on
behind those drowsily thoughtful eyes. If you are--as people
say--"Victorian," you might even have whispered "Day Dreams," at the
sight of her....

She _was_ dreaming, and in a sense she was thinking of beautiful things.
But only mediately. She was thinking how very much she would enjoy
spending freely and vigorously, quite a considerable amount of
money,--heaps of money.

You see, the Carmels, with whom she had just been staying, were
shockingly well off. They had two motor cars with them in the country,
and the boys had the use of the second one as though it was just an old
bicycle. Marjorie had had a cheap white dinner-dress, made the year
before by a Chelsea French girl, a happy find of her mother's, and it
was shapely and simple and not at all bad, and she had worn her green
beads and her Egyptian necklace of jade; but Kitty Carmel and her sister
had had a new costume nearly every night, and pretty bracelets, and
rubies, big pearls, and woven gold, and half a score of delightful and
precious things for neck and hair. Everything in the place was bright
and good and abundant, the servants were easy and well-mannered, without
a trace of hurry or resentment, and one didn't have to be sharp about
the eggs and things at breakfast in the morning, or go without. All
through the day, and even when they had gone to bathe from the smart
little white and green shed on the upper lake, Marjorie had been made to
feel the insufficiency of her equipment. Kitty Carmel, being twenty-one,
possessed her own cheque-book and had accounts running at half a dozen
West-end shops; and both sisters had furnished their own rooms according
to their taste, with a sense of obvious effect that had set Marjorie
speculating just how a room might be done by a girl with a real eye for
colour and a real brain behind it....

The train slowed down for the seventeenth time. Marjorie looked up and
read "Buryhamstreet."


§ 3

Her reverie vanished, and by a complex but almost instantaneous movement
she had her basket off the rack and the carriage door open. She became
teeming anticipations. There, advancing in a string, were Daffy, her
elder sister, Theodore, her younger brother, and the dog Toupee. Sydney
and Rom hadn't come. Daffy was not copper red like her sister, but
really quite coarsely red-haired; she was bigger than Marjorie, and with
irregular teeth instead of Marjorie's neat row; she confessed them in a
broad simple smile of welcome. Theodore was hatless, rustily
fuzzy-headed, and now a wealth of quasi-humorous gesture. The dog Toupee
was straining at a leash, and doing its best in a yapping, confused
manner, to welcome the wrong people by getting its lead round their
legs.

"Toupee!" cried Marjorie, waving the basket. "Toupee!"

They all called it Toupee because it was like one, but the name was
forbidden in her father's hearing. Her father had decided that the
proper name for a family dog in England is Towser, and did his utmost to
suppress a sobriquet that was at once unprecedented and not in the best
possible taste. Which was why the whole family, with the exception of
Mrs. Pope, of course, stuck to Toupee....

Marjorie flashed a second's contrast with the Carmel splendours.

"Hullo, old Daffy. What's it like?" she asked, handing out the basket as
her sister came up.

"It's a lark," said Daffy. "Where's the dressing-bag?"

"Thoddy," said Marjorie, following up the dressing-bag with the
hold-all. "Lend a hand."

"Stow it, Toupee," said Theodore, and caught the hold-all in time.

In another moment Marjorie was out of the train, had done the swift
kissing proper to the occasion, and rolled a hand over Toupee's
head--Toupee, who, after a passionate lunge at a particularly savoury
drover from the next compartment, was now frantically trying to indicate
that Marjorie was the one human being he had ever cared for. Brother and
sister were both sketching out the state of affairs at Buryhamstreet
Vicarage in rapid competitive jerks, each eager to tell things
first--and the whole party moved confusedly towards the station exit.
Things pelted into Marjorie's mind.

"We've got an old donkey-cart. I thought we shouldn't get here--ever....
Madge, we can go up the church tower whenever we like, only old Daffy
won't let me shin up the flagstaff. It's _perfectly_ safe--you couldn't
fall off if you tried.... Had positively to get out at the level
crossing and _pull_ him over.... There's a sort of moat in the
garden.... You never saw such furniture, Madge! And the study! It's hung
with texts, and stuffed with books about the Scarlet Woman.... Piano's
rather good, it's a Broadwood.... The Dad's got a war on about the
tennis net. Oh, frightful! You'll see. It won't keep up. He's had a
letter kept waiting by the _Times_ for a fortnight, and it's a terror at
breakfast. Says the motor people have used influence to silence him.
Says that's a game two can play at.... Old Sid got herself upset
stuffing windfalls. Rather a sell for old Sid, considering how refined
she's getting...."

There was a brief lull as the party got into the waiting governess cart.
Toupee, after a preliminary refusal to enter, made a determined attempt
on the best seat, from which he would be able to bark in a persistent,
official manner at anything that passed. That suppressed, and Theodore's
proposal to drive refused, they were able to start, and attention was
concentrated upon Daffy's negotiation of the station approach. Marjorie
turned on her brother with a smile of warm affection.

"How are you, old Theodore?"

"I'm all right, old Madge."

"Mummy?"

"Every one's all right," said Theodore; "if it wasn't for that damned
infernal net----"

"Ssssh!" cried both sisters together.

"_He_ says it," said Theodore.

Both sisters conveyed a grave and relentless disapproval.

"Pretty bit of road," said Marjorie. "I like that little house at the
corner."

A pause and the eyes of the sisters met.

"_He's_ here," said Daffy.

Marjorie affected ignorance.

"Who's here?"

"_Il vostro senior Miraculoso_."

"Just as though a fellow couldn't understand your kiddy little Italian,"
said Theodore, pulling Toupee's ear.

"Oh well, I thought he might be," said Marjorie, regardless of her
brother.

"Oh!" said Daffy. "I didn't know----"

Both sisters looked at each other, and then both glanced at Theodore. He
met Marjorie's eyes with a grimace of profound solemnity.

"Little brothers," he said, "shouldn't know. Just as though they didn't!
Rot! But let's change the subject, my dears, all the same. Lemme see.
There are a new sort of flea on Toupee, Madge, that he gets from the
hens."

"_Is_ a new sort," corrected Daffy. "He's horrider than ever, Madge. He
leaves his soap in soak now to make us think he has used it. This is the
village High Street. Isn't it jolly?"

"Corners don't _bite_ people," said Theodore, with a critical eye to the
driving.

Marjorie surveyed the High Street, while Daffy devoted a few moments to
Theodore.

The particular success of the village was its brace of chestnut trees
which, with that noble disregard of triteness which is one of the charms
of villages the whole world over, shadowed the village smithy. On either
side of the roadway between it and the paths was a careless width of
vivid grass protected by white posts, which gave way to admit a generous
access on either hand to a jolly public house, leering over red blinds,
and swinging a painted sign against its competitor. Several of the
cottages had real thatch and most had porches; they had creepers nailed
to their faces, and their gardens, crowded now with flowers, marigolds,
begonias, snapdragon, delphiniums, white foxgloves, and monkshood,
seemed almost too good to be true. The doctor's house was pleasantly
Georgian, and the village shop, which was also a post and telegraph
office, lay back with a slight air of repletion, keeping its bulging
double shop-windows wide open in a manifest attempt not to fall asleep.
Two score of shock-headed boys and pinafored girls were drilling upon a
bald space of ground before the village school, and near by, the
national emotion at the ever-memorable Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria
had evoked an artistic drinking-fountain of grey stone. Beyond the
subsequent green--there were the correctest geese thereon--the village
narrowed almost to a normal road again, and then, recalling itself with
a start, lifted a little to the churchyard wall about the grey and ample
church. "It's just like all the villages that ever were," said Marjorie,
and gave a cry of delight when Daffy, pointing to the white gate between
two elm trees that led to the vicarage, remarked: "That's us."

In confirmation of which statement, Sydney and Rom, the two sisters next
in succession to Marjorie, and with a strong tendency to be twins in
spite of the year between them, appeared in a state of vociferous
incivility opening the way for the donkey-carriage. Sydney was Sydney,
and Rom was just short for Romola--one of her mother's favourite
heroines in fiction.

"Old Madge," they said; and then throwing respect to the winds, "Old
Gargoo!" which was Marjorie's forbidden nickname, and short for gargoyle
(though surely only Victorian Gothic, ever produced a gargoyle that had
the remotest right to be associated with the neat brightness of
Marjorie's face).

She overlooked the offence, and the pseudo-twins boarded the cart from
behind, whereupon the already overburthened donkey, being old and in a
manner wise, quickened his pace for the house to get the whole thing
over.

"It's really an avenue," said Daffy; but Marjorie, with her mind strung
up to the Carmel standards, couldn't agree. It was like calling a row of
boy-scouts Potsdam grenadiers. The trees were at irregular distances, of
various ages, and mostly on one side. Still it was a shady, pleasant
approach.

And the vicarage was truly very interesting and amusing. To these
Londoners accustomed to live in a state of compression, elbows
practically touching, in a tall, narrow fore-and-aft stucco house, all
window and staircase, in a despondent Brompton square, there was an
effect of maundering freedom about the place, of enlargement almost to
the pitch of adventure and sunlight to the pitch of intoxication. The
house itself was long and low, as if a London house holidaying in the
country had flung itself asprawl; it had two disconnected and roomy
staircases, and when it had exhausted itself completely as a house, it
turned to the right and began again as rambling, empty stables, coach
house, cart sheds, men's bedrooms up ladders, and outhouses of the most
various kinds. On one hand was a neglected orchard, in the front of the
house was a bald, worried-looking lawn area capable of simultaneous
tennis and croquet, and at the other side a copious and confused
vegetable and flower garden full of roses, honesty, hollyhocks, and
suchlike herbaceous biennials and perennials, lapsed at last into
shrubbery, where a sickle-shaped, weedy lagoon of uncertain aims, which
had evidently, as a rustic bridge and a weeping willow confessed,
aspired to be an "ornamental water," declined at last to ducks. And
there was access to the church, and the key of the church tower, and one
went across the corner of the lawn, and by a little iron gate into the
churchyard to decipher inscriptions, as if the tombs of all
Buryhamstreet were no more than a part of the accommodation relinquished
by the vicar's household.

Marjorie was hurried over the chief points of all this at a breakneck
pace by Sydney and Rom, and when Sydney was called away to the horrors
of practice--for Sydney in spite of considerable reluctance was destined
by her father to be "the musical one"--Rom developed a copious
affection, due apparently to some occult æsthetic influence in
Marjorie's silvery-grey and green, and led her into the unlocked vestry,
and there prayed in a whisper that she might be given "one good hug,
just _one_"--and so they came out with their arms about each other very
affectionately to visit the lagoon again. And then Rom remembered that
Marjorie hadn't seen either the walnut-tree in the orchard, or the hen
with nine chicks....

Somewhere among all these interests came tea and Mrs. Pope.

Mrs. Pope kissed her daughter with an air of having really wanted to
kiss her half an hour ago, but of having been distracted since. She was
a fine-featured, anxious-looking little woman, with a close resemblance
to all her children, in spite of the fact that they were markedly
dissimilar one to the other, except only that they took their ruddy
colourings from their father. She was dressed in a neat blue dress that
had perhaps been hurriedly chosen, and her method of doing her hair was
a manifest compromise between duty and pleasure. She embarked at once
upon an exposition of the bedroom arrangements, which evidently involved
difficult issues. Marjorie was to share a room with Daffy--that was the
gist of it--as the only other available apartment, originally promised
to Marjorie, had been secured by Mr. Pope for what he called his
"matutinal ablutions, _videlicet_ tub."

"Then, when your Aunt Plessington comes, you won't have to move," said
Mrs. Pope with an air of a special concession. "Your father's looking
forward to seeing you, but he mustn't be disturbed just yet. He's in the
vicar's study. He's had his tea in there. He's writing a letter to the
_Times_ answering something they said in a leader, and also a private
note calling attention to their delay in printing his previous
communication, and he wants to be delicately ironical without being in
any way offensive. He wants to hint without actually threatening that
very probably he will go over to the _Spectator_ altogether if they do
not become more attentive. The _Times_ used to print his letters
punctually, but latterly these automobile people seem to have got hold
of it.... He has the window on the lawn open, so that I think, perhaps,
we'd better not stay out here--for fear our voices might disturb him."

"Better get right round the other side of the church," said Daffy.

"He'd hear far less of us if we went indoors," said Mrs. Pope.


§ 4

The vicarage seemed tight packed with human interest for Marjorie and
her mother and sisters. Going over houses is one of the amusements
proper to her sex, and she and all three sisters and her mother, as soon
as they had finished an inaudible tea, went to see the bedroom she was
to share with Daffy, and then examined, carefully and in order, the
furniture and decoration of the other bedrooms, went through the rooms
downstairs, always excepting and avoiding very carefully and closing as
many doors as possible on, and hushing their voices whenever they
approached the study in which her father was being delicately ironical
without being offensive to the _Times_. None of them had seen any of the
vicarage people at all--Mr. Pope had come on a bicycle and managed all
the negotiations--and it was curious to speculate about the individuals
whose personalities pervaded the worn and faded furnishings of the
place.

The Popes' keen-eyed inspection came at times, I think, dangerously near
prying. The ideals of decoration and interests of the vanished family
were so absolutely dissimilar to the London standards as to arouse a
sort of astonished wonder in their minds. Some of the things they
decided were perfectly hideous, some quaint, some were simply and weakly
silly. Everything was different from Hartstone Square. Daffy was perhaps
more inclined to contempt, and Mrs. Pope to refined amusement and witty
appreciation than Marjorie. Marjorie felt there was something in these
people that she didn't begin to understand, she needed some missing
clue that would unlock the secret of their confused peculiarity. She was
one of those people who have an almost instinctive turn for decoration
in costume and furniture; she had already had a taste of how to do
things in arranging her rooms at Bennett College, Oxbridge, where also
she was in great demand among the richer girls as an adviser. She knew
what it was to try and fail as well as to try and succeed, and these
people, she felt, hadn't tried for anything she comprehended. She
couldn't quite see why it was that there was at the same time an attempt
at ornament and a disregard of beauty, she couldn't quite do as her
mother did and dismiss it as an absurdity and have done with it. She
couldn't understand, too, why everything should be as if it were faded
and weakened from something originally bright and clear.

All the rooms were thick with queer little objects that indicated a
quite beaver-like industry in the production of "work." There were
embroidered covers for nearly every article on the wash-hand-stand, and
mats of wool and crochet wherever anything stood on anything; there were
"tidies" everywhere, and odd little brackets covered with gilded and
varnished fir cones and bearing framed photographs and little jars and
all sorts of colourless, dusty little objects, and everywhere on the
walls tacks sustained crossed fans with badly painted flowers or
transfer pictures. There was a jar on the bedroom mantel covered with
varnished postage stamps and containing grey-haired dried grasses. There
seemed to be a moral element in all this, for in the room Sydney shared
with Rom there was a decorative piece of lettering which declared that--

    "Something attempted, something done,
    Has earned a night's repose."

There were a great number of texts that set Marjorie's mind stirring
dimly with intimations of a missed significance. Over her own bed,
within the lattice of an Oxford frame, was the photograph of a picture
of an extremely composed young woman in a trailing robe, clinging to the
Rock of Ages in the midst of histrionically aggressive waves, and she
had a feeling, rather than a thought, that perhaps for all the oddity of
the presentation it did convey something acutely desirable, that she
herself had had moods when she would have found something very
comforting in just such an impassioned grip. And on a framed,
floriferous card, these incomprehensible words:

    |================================|
    |THY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR ME. |
    |================================|

seemed to be saying something to her tantalizingly just outside her
range of apprehension.

Did all these things light up somehow to those dispossessed people--from
some angle she didn't attain? Were they living and moving realities when
those others were at home again?

The drawing-room had no texts; it was altogether more pretentious and
less haunted by the faint and faded flavour of religion that pervaded
the bedrooms. It had, however, evidences of travel in Switzerland and
the Mediterranean. There was a piano in black and gold, a little out of
tune, and surmounted by a Benares brass jar, enveloping a scarlet
geranium in a pot. There was a Japanese screen of gold wrought upon
black, that screened nothing. There was a framed chromo-lithograph of
Jerusalem hot in the sunset, and another of Jerusalem cold under a
sub-tropical moon, and there were gourds, roses of Jericho, sandalwood
rosaries and kindred trash from the Holy Land in no little profusion
upon a what-not. Such books as the room had contained had been arranged
as symmetrically as possible about a large, pink-shaded lamp upon the
claret-coloured cloth of a round table, and were to be replaced, Mrs.
Pope said, at their departure. At present they were piled on a
side-table. The girls had been through them all, and were ready with the
choicer morsels for Marjorie's amusement. There was "Black Beauty," the
sympathetic story of a soundly Anglican horse, and a large Bible
extra-illustrated with photographs of every well-known scriptural
picture from Michael Angelo to Doré, and a book of injunctions to young
ladies upon their behaviour and deportment that Rom and Sydney found
particularly entertaining. Marjorie discovered that Sydney had picked up
a new favourite phrase. "I'm afraid we're all dreadfully cynical," said
Sydney, several times.

A more advanced note was struck by a copy of "Aurora Leigh," richly
underlined in pencil, but with exclamation marks at some of the bolder
passages....

And presently, still avoiding the open study window very elaborately,
this little group of twentieth century people went again into the
church--the church whose foundations were laid in A.D. 912--foundations
of rubble and cement that included flat Roman bricks from a still
remoter basilica. Their voices dropped instinctively, as they came into
its shaded quiet from the exterior sunshine. Marjorie went a little
apart and sat in a pew that gave her a glimpse of the one good
stained-glass window. Rom followed her, and perceiving her mood to be
restful, sat a yard away. Syd began a whispered dispute with her mother
whether it wasn't possible to try the organ, and whether Theodore might
not be bribed to blow. Daffy discovered relics of a lepers' squint and a
holy-water stoup, and then went to scrutinize the lettering of the ten
commandments of the Mosaic law that shone black and red on gold on
either side of the I.H.S. monogram behind the white-clothed communion
table that had once been the altar. Upon a notice board hung about the
waist of the portly pulpit were the numbers of hymns that had been sung
three days ago. The sound Protestantism of the vicar had banished
superfluous crosses from the building; the Bible reposed upon the wings
of a great brass eagle; shining blue and crimson in the window, Saint
Christopher carried his Lord. What a harmonized synthesis of conflicts a
country church presents! What invisible mysteries of filiation spread
between these ancient ornaments and symbols and the new young minds from
the whirlpool of the town that looked upon them now with such bright,
keen eyes, wondering a little, feeling a little, missing so much?

It was all so very cool and quiet now--with something of the immobile
serenity of death.


§ 5

When Mr. Pope had finished his letter to the _Times_, he got out of the
window of the study, treading on a flower-bed as he did so--he was the
sort of man who treads on flower-beds--partly with the purpose of
reading his composition aloud to as many members of his family as he
could assemble for the purpose, and so giving them a chance of
appreciating the nuances of his irony more fully than if they saw it
just in cold print without the advantage of his intonation, and partly
with the belated idea of welcoming Marjorie. The law presented a rather
discouraging desolation. Then he became aware that the church tower
frothed with his daughters. In view of his need of an audience, he
decided after a brief doubt that their presence there was
unobjectionable, and waved his MS. amiably. Marjorie flapped a
handkerchief in reply....

The subsequent hour was just the sort of hour that gave Mr. Pope an
almost meteorological importance to his family. He began with an
amiability that had no fault, except, perhaps, that it was a little
forced after the epistolary strain in the study, and his welcome to
Marjorie was more than cordial. "Well, little Madge-cat!" he said,
giving her an affectionate but sound and heavy thump on the left
shoulder-blade, "got a kiss for the old daddy?"

Marjorie submitted a cheek.

"That's right," said Mr. Pope; "and now I just want you all to advise
me----"

He led the way to a group of wicker garden chairs. "You're coming,
mummy?" he said, and seated himself comfortably and drew out a spectacle
case, while his family grouped itself dutifully. It made a charming
little picture of a Man and his Womankind. "I don't often flatter
myself," he said, "but this time I think I've been neat--neat's the word
for it."

He cleared his throat, put on his spectacles, and emitted a long, flat
preliminary note, rather like the sound of a child's trumpet. "Er--'Dear
Sir!'"

"Rom," said Mrs. Pope, "don't creak your chair."

"It's Daffy, mother," said Rom.

"Oh, _Rom!_" said Daffy.

Mr. Pope paused, and looked with a warning eye over his left
spectacle-glass at Rom.

"Don't creak your chair, Rom," he said, "when your mother tells you."

"I was _not_ creaking my chair," said Rom.

"I heard it," said Mr. Pope, suavely.

"It was Daffy."

"Your mother does not think so," said Mr. Pope.

"Oh, all right! I'll sit on the ground," said Rom, crimson to the roots
of her hair.

"Me too," said Daffy. "I'd rather."

Mr. Pope watched the transfer gravely. Then he readjusted his glasses,
cleared his throat again, trumpeted, and began. "Er--'Dear Sir,'"

"Oughtn't it to be simply 'Sir,' father, for an editor?" said Marjorie.

"Perhaps I didn't explain, Marjorie," said her father, with the calm of
great self-restraint, and dabbing his left hand on the manuscript in his
right, "that this is a _private_ letter--a private letter."

"I didn't understand," said Marjorie.

"It would have been evident as I went on," said Mr. Pope, and prepared
to read again.

This time he was allowed to proceed, but the interruptions had ruffled
him, and the gentle stresses that should have lifted the subtleties of
his irony into prominence missed the words, and he had to go back and do
his sentences again. Then Rom suddenly, horribly, uncontrollably, was
seized with hiccups. At the second hiccup Mr. Pope paused, and looked
very hard at his daughter with magnified eyes; as he was about to
resume, the third burst its way through the unhappy child's utmost
effort.

Mr. Pope rose with an awful resignation. "That's enough," he said. He
regarded the pseudo-twin vindictively. "You haven't the self-control of
a child of six," he said. Then very touchingly to Mrs. Pope: "Mummy,
shall we try a game of tennis with the New Generation?"

"Can't you read it after supper?" asked Mrs. Pope.

"It must go by the eight o'clock post," said Mr. Pope, putting the
masterpiece into his breast pocket, the little masterpiece that would
now perhaps never be read aloud to any human being. "Daffy, dear, do you
mind going in for the racquets and balls?"

The social atmosphere was now sultry, and overcast, and Mr. Pope's
decision to spend the interval before Daffy returned in seeing whether
he couldn't do something to the net, which was certainly very
unsatisfactory, did not improve matters. Then, unhappily, Marjorie, who
had got rather keen upon tennis at the Carmels', claimed her father's
first two services as faults, contrary to the etiquette of the family.
It happened that Mr. Pope had a really very good, hard, difficult,
smart-looking serve, whose only defect was that it always went either
too far or else into the net, and so a feeling had been fostered and
established by his wife that, on the whole, it was advisable to regard
the former variety as a legitimate extension of a father's authority.
Naturally, therefore, Mr. Pope was nettled at Marjorie's ruling, and his
irritation increased when his next two services to Daffy perished in the
net. ("Damn that net! Puts one's eye out.") Then Marjorie gave him an
unexpected soft return which he somehow muffed, and then Daffy just
dropped a return over the top of the net. (Love-game.) It was then
Marjorie's turn to serve, which she did with a new twist acquired from
the eldest Carmel boy that struck Mr. Pope as un-English. "Go on," he
said concisely. "Fifteen love."

She was gentle with her mother and they got their first rally, and when
it was over Mr. Pope had to explain to Marjorie that if she returned
right up into his corner of the court he would have to run backwards
very fast and might fall over down the silly slope at that end. She
would have to consider him and the court. One didn't get everything out
of a game by playing merely to win. She said "All right, Daddy," rather
off-handedly, and immediately served to him again, and he, taken a
little unawares, hit the ball with the edge of his racquet and sent it
out, and then he changed racquets with Daffy--it seemed he had known all
along she had taken his, but he had preferred to say nothing--uttered a
word of advice to his wife just on her stroke, and she, failing to grasp
his intention as quickly as she ought to have done, left the score
forty-fifteen. He felt better when he returned Marjorie's serve, and
then before she could control herself she repeated her new unpleasant
trick of playing into the corner again, whereupon, leaping back with an
agility that would have shamed many a younger man, Mr. Pope came upon
disaster. He went spinning down the treacherous slope behind, twisted
his ankle painfully and collapsed against the iron railings of the
shrubbery. It was too much, and he lost control of himself. His
daughters had one instant's glimpse of the linguistic possibilities of a
strong man's agony. "I told her," he went on as if he had said nothing.
"_Tennis!_"

For a second perhaps he seemed to hesitate upon a course of action. Then
as if by a great effort he took his coat from the net post and addressed
himself houseward, incarnate Grand Dudgeon--limping.

"Had enough of it, Mummy," he said, and added some happily inaudible
comment on Marjorie's new style of play.

The evening's exercise was at an end.

The three ladies regarded one another in silence for some moments.

"I will take in the racquets, dear," said Mrs. Pope.

"I think the other ball is at your end," said Daffy....

The apparatus put away, Marjorie and her sister strolled thoughtfully
away from the house.

"There's croquet here too," said Daffy. "We've not had the things out
yet!"....

"He'll play, I suppose."

"He wants to play."...

"Of course," said Marjorie after a long pause, "there's no _reasoning_
with Dad!"


§ 6

Character is one of England's noblest and most deliberate products, but
some Englishmen have it to excess. Mr. Pope had.

He was one of that large and representative class which imparts a
dignity to national commerce by inheriting big businesses from its
ancestors. He was a coach-builder by birth, and a gentleman by education
and training. He had been to City Merchant's and Cambridge.

Throughout the earlier half of the nineteenth century the Popes had been
the princes of the coach-building world. Mr. Pope's great-grandfather
had been a North London wheelwright of conspicuous dexterity and
integrity, who had founded the family business; his son, Mr. Pope's
grandfather, had made that business the occupation of his life and
brought it to the pinnacle of pre-eminence; his son, who was Marjorie's
grandfather, had displayed a lesser enthusiasm, left the house at the
works for a home ten miles away and sent a second son into the Church.
It was in the days of the third Pope that the business ceased to expand,
and began to suffer severely from the competition of an enterprising
person who had originally supplied the firm with varnish, gradually
picked up the trade in most other materials and accessories needed in
coach-building, and passed on by almost imperceptible stages to
delivering the article complete--dispensing at last altogether with the
intervention of Pope and Son--to the customer. Marjorie's father had
succeeded in the fulness of time to the inheritance this insurgent had
damaged.

Mr. Pope was a man of firm and resentful temper, with an admiration for
Cato, Brutus, Cincinnatus, Cromwell, Washington, and the sterner heroes
generally, and by nature a little ill-used and offended at things. He
suffered from indigestion and extreme irritability. He found himself in
control of a business where more flexible virtues were needed. The Popes
based their fame on a heavy, proud type of vehicle, which the increasing
luxury and triviality of the age tended to replace by lighter forms of
carriage, carriages with diminutive and apologetic names. As these
lighter forms were not only lighter but less expensive, Mr. Pope with a
pathetic confidence in the loyalty of the better class of West End
customer, determined to "make a stand" against them. He was the sort of
man to whom making a stand is in itself a sombre joy. If he had had to
choose his pose for a portrait, he would certainly have decided to have
one foot advanced, the other planted like a British oak behind, the arms
folded and the brows corrugated,--making a stand.

Unhappily the stars in their courses and the general improvement of
roads throughout the country fought against him. The lighter carriages,
and especially the lighter carriages of that varnish-selling firm, which
was now absorbing businesses right and left, prevailed over Mr. Pope's
resistance. For crossing a mountain pass or fording a river, for driving
over the scene of a recent earthquake or following a retreating army,
for being run away with by frantic horses or crushing a personal enemy,
there can be no doubt the Pope carriages remained to the very last the
best possible ones and fully worth the inflexible price demanded.
Unhappily all carriages in a civilization essentially decadent are not
subjected to these tests, and the manufactures of his rivals were not
only much cheaper, but had a sort of meretricious smartness, a
disingenuous elasticity, above all a levity, hateful indeed to the
spirit of Mr. Pope yet attractive to the wanton customer. Business
dwindled. Nevertheless the habitual element in the good class customer
did keep things going, albeit on a shrinking scale, until Mr. Pope came
to the unfortunate decision that he would make a stand against
automobiles. He regarded them as an intrusive nuisance which had to be
seen only to be disowned by the landed gentry of England. Rather than
build a car he said he would go out of business. He went out of
business. Within five years of this determination he sold out the name,
good will, and other vestiges of his concern to a mysterious buyer who
turned out to be no more than an agent for these persistently expanding
varnish makers, and he retired with a genuine grievance upon the family
accumulations--chiefly in Consols and Home Railways.

He refused however to regard his defeat as final, put great faith in the
approaching exhaustion of the petrol supply, and talked in a manner that
should have made the Automobile Association uneasy, of devoting the
rest of his days to the purification of England from these aggressive
mechanisms. "It was a mistake," he said, "to let them in." He became
more frequent at his excellent West End club, and directed a certain
portion of his capital to largely indecisive but on the whole
unprofitable speculations in South African and South American
enterprises. He mingled a little in affairs. He was a tough conventional
speaker, rich in established phrases and never abashed by hearing
himself say commonplace things, and in addition to his campaign against
automobiles he found time to engage also in quasi-political activities,
taking chairs, saying a few words and so on, cherishing a fluctuating
hope that his eloquence might ultimately win him an invitation to
contest a constituency in the interests of reaction and the sounder
elements in the Liberal party.

He had a public-spirited side, and he was particularly attracted by that
mass of modern legislative proposals which aims at a more systematic
control of the lives of lower class persons for their own good by their
betters. Indeed, in the first enthusiasm of his proprietorship of the
Pope works at East Purblow, he had organized one of those benevolent
industrial experiments that are now so common. He felt strongly against
the drink evil, that is to say, the unrestricted liberty of common
people to drink what they prefer, and he was acutely impressed by the
fact that working-class families do not spend their money in the way
that seems most desirable to upper middle-class critics. Accordingly he
did his best to replace the dangerous freedoms of money by that ideal of
the social reformer, Payment in Kind. To use his invariable phrase, the
East Purblow experiment did "no mean service" to the cause of social
reform. Unhappily it came to an end through a prosecution under the
Truck Act, that blot upon the Statute Book, designed, it would appear,
even deliberately to vitiate man's benevolent control of his fellow man.
The lessons to be drawn from that experience, however, grew if anything
with the years. He rarely spoke without an allusion to it, and it was
quite remarkable how readily it could be adapted to illuminate a hundred
different issues in the hospitable columns of the _Spectator_....


§ 7

At seven o'clock Marjorie found herself upstairs changing into her
apple-green frock. She had had a good refreshing wash in cold soft
water, and it was pleasant to change into thinner silk stockings and
dainty satin slippers and let down and at last brush her hair and dress
loiteringly after the fatigues of her journey and the activities of her
arrival. She looked out on the big church and the big trees behind it
against the golden quiet of a summer evening with extreme approval.

"I suppose those birds are rooks," she said.

But Daffy had gone to see that the pseudo-twins had done themselves
justice in their muslin frocks and pink sashes; they were apt to be a
little sketchy with their less accessible buttons.

Marjorie became aware of two gentlemen with her mother on the lawn
below.

One was her almost affianced lover, Will Magnet, the humorous writer.
She had been doing her best not to think about him all day, but now he
became an unavoidable central fact. She regarded him with an almost
perplexed scrutiny, and wondered vividly why she had been so excited and
pleased by his attentions during the previous summer.

Mr. Magnet was one of those quiet, deliberately unassuming people who do
not even attempt to be beautiful. Not for him was it to pretend, but to
prick the bladder of pretence. He was a fairish man of forty, pale, with
a large protuberant, observant grey eye--I speak particularly of the
left--and a face of quiet animation warily alert for the wit's
opportunity. His nose and chin were pointed, and his lips thin and
quaintly pressed together. He was dressed in grey, with a low-collared
silken shirt showing a thin neck, and a flowing black tie, and he
carried a grey felt hat in his joined hands behind his back. She could
hear the insinuating cadences of his voice as he talked in her mother's
ear. The other gentleman, silent on her mother's right, must, she knew,
be Mr. Wintersloan, whom Mr. Magnet had proposed to bring over. His
dress betrayed that modest gaiety of disposition becoming in an artist,
and indeed he was one of Mr. Magnet's favourite illustrators. He was in
a dark bluish-grey suit; a black tie that was quite unusually broad went
twice around his neck before succumbing to the bow, and his waistcoat
appeared to be of some gaily-patterned orange silk. Marjorie's eyes
returned to Mr. Magnet. Hitherto she had never had an opportunity of
remarking that his hair was more than a little attenuated towards the
crown. It was funny how his tie came out under his chin to the right.

What an odd thing men's dress had become, she thought. Why did they wear
those ridiculous collars and ties? Why didn't they always dress in
flannels and look as fine and slender and active as the elder Carmel boy
for example? Mr. Magnet couldn't be such an ill-shaped man. Why didn't
every one dress to be just as beautiful and splendid as
possible?--instead of wearing queer things!

"Coming down?" said Daffy, a vision of sulphur-yellow, appearing in the
doorway.

"Let _them_ go first," said Marjorie, with a finer sense of effect. "And
Theodore. We don't want to make part of a comic entry with Theodore,
Daffy."

Accordingly, the two sisters watched discreetly--they had to be wary on
account of Mr. Magnet's increasingly frequent glances at the
windows--and when at last all the rest of the family had appeared below,
they decided their cue had come. Mr. Pope strolled into the group, with
no trace of his recent debacle except a slight limp. He was wearing a
jacket of damson-coloured velvet, which he affected in the country, and
all traces of his Grand Dudgeon were gone. But then he rarely had Grand
Dudgeon except in the sanctities of family life, and hardly ever when
any other man was about.

"Well," his daughters heard him say, with a witty allusiveness that was
difficult to follow, "so the Magnet has come to the Mountain again--eh?"

"Come on, Madge," said Daffy, and the two sisters emerged harmoniously
together from the house.

It would have been manifest to a meaner capacity than any present that
evening that Mr. Magnet regarded Marjorie with a distinguished
significance. He had two eyes, but he had that mysterious quality so
frequently associated with a bluish-grey iris which gives the effect of
looking hard with one large orb, a sort of grey searchlight effect, and
he used this eye ray now to convey a respectful but firm admiration in
the most unequivocal manner. He saluted Daffy courteously, and then
allowed himself to retain Marjorie's hand for just a second longer than
was necessary as he said--very simply--"I am very pleased indeed to meet
you again--very."

A slight embarrassment fell between them.

"You are staying near here, Mr. Magnet?"

"At the inn," said Mr. Magnet, and then, "I chose it because it would be
near you."

His eye pressed upon her again for a moment.

"Is it comfortable?" said Marjorie.

"So charmingly simple," said Mr. Magnet. "I love it."

A tinkling bell announced the preparedness of supper, and roused the
others to the consciousness that they were silently watching Mr. Magnet
and Marjorie.

"It's quite a simple farmhouse supper," said Mrs. Pope.


§ 8

There were ducks, green peas, and adolescent new potatoes for supper,
and afterwards stewed fruit and cream and junket and cheese, bottled
beer, Gilbey's Burgundy, and home-made lemonade. Mrs. Pope carved,
because Mr. Pope splashed too much, and bones upset him and made him
want to show up chicken in the _Times_. So he sat at the other end and
rallied his guests while Mrs. Pope distributed the viands. He showed not
a trace of his recent umbrage. Theodore sat between Daffy and his mother
because of his table manners, and Marjorie was on her father's right
hand and next to Mr. Wintersloan, while Mr. Magnet was in the middle of
the table on the opposite side in a position convenient for looking at
her. Both maids waited.

The presence of Magnet invariably stirred the latent humorist in Mr.
Pope. He felt that he who talks to humorists should himself be humorous,
and it was his private persuasion that with more attention he might have
been, to use a favourite form of expression, "no mean jester." Quite a
lot of little things of his were cherished as "Good" both by himself
and, with occasional inaccuracies, by Mrs. Pope. He opened out now in a
strain of rich allusiveness.

"What will you drink, Mr. Wintersloan?" he said. "Wine of the country,
yclept beer, red wine from France, or my wife's potent brew from the
golden lemon?"

Mr. Wintersloan thought he would take Burgundy. Mr. Magnet preferred
beer.

    "I've heard there's iron in the Beer,
    And I believe it,"

misquoted Mr. Pope, and nodded as it were to the marker to score. "Daffy
and Marjorie are still in the lemonade stage. Will you take a little
Burgundy to-night, Mummy?"

Mrs. Pope decided she would, and was inspired to ask Mr. Wintersloan if
he had been in that part of the country before. Topography ensued. Mr.
Wintersloan had a style of his own, and spoke of the Buryhamstreet
district as a "pooty little country--pooty little hills, with a swirl in
them."

This pleased Daffy and Marjorie, and their eyes met for a moment.

Then Mr. Magnet, with a ray full on Marjorie, said he had always been
fond of Surrey. "I think if ever I made a home in the country I should
like it to be here."

Mr. Wintersloan said Surrey would tire him, it was too bossy and curly,
too flocculent; he would prefer to look on broader, simpler lines, with
just a sudden catch in the breath in them--if you understand me?

Marjorie did, and said so.

"A sob--such as you get at the break of a pinewood on a hill."

This baffled Mr. Pope, but Marjorie took it. "Or the short dry cough of
a cliff," she said.

"Exactly," said Mr. Wintersloan, and having turned a little deliberate
close-lipped smile on her for a moment, resumed his wing.

"So long as a landscape doesn't _sneeze_" said Mr. Magnet, in that
irresistible dry way of his, and Rom and Sydney, at any rate, choked.

"Now is the hour when Landscapes yawn," mused Mr. Pope, coming in all
right at the end.

Then Mrs. Pope asked Mr. Wintersloan, about his route to Buryhamstreet,
and then Mr. Pope asked Mr. Magnet whether he was playing at a new work
or working at a new play.

Mr. Magnet said he was dreaming over a play. He wanted to bring out the
more serious side of his humour, go a little deeper into things than he
had hitherto done.

"Mingling smiles and tears," said Mr. Pope approvingly.

Mr. Magnet said very quietly that all true humour did that.

Then Mrs. Pope asked what the play was to be about, and Mr. Magnet, who
seemed disinclined to give an answer, turned the subject by saying he
had to prepare an address on humour for the next dinner of the
_Literati_. "It's to be a humourist's dinner, and they've made me the
guest of the evening--by way of a joke to begin with," he said with that
dry smile again.

Mrs. Pope said he shouldn't say things like that. She then said "Syd!"
quietly but sharply to Sydney, who was making a disdainful, squinting
face at Theodore, and told the parlourmaid to clear the plates for
sweets. Mr. Magnet professed great horror of public speaking. He said
that whenever he rose to make an after-dinner speech all the ices he had
ever eaten seemed to come out of the past, and sit on his backbone.

The talk centered for awhile on Mr. Magnet's address, and apropos of
Tests of Humour Mr. Pope, who in his way was "no mean raconteur,"
related the story of the man who took the salad dressing with his hand,
and when his host asked why he did that, replied: "Oh! I thought it was
spinach!"

"Many people," added Mr. Pope, "wouldn't see the point of that. And if
they don't see the point they can't--and the more they try the less they
do."

All four girls hoped secretly and not too confidently that their
laughter had not sounded hollow.

And then for a time the men told stories as they came into their heads
in an easy, irresponsible way. Mr. Magnet spoke of the humour of the
omnibus-driver who always dangled and twiddled his badge "by way of a
joke" when he passed the conductor whose father had been hanged, and Mr.
Pope, perhaps, a little irrelevantly, told the story of the little boy
who was asked his father's last words, and said "mother was with him to
the end," which particularly amused Mrs. Pope. Mr. Wintersloan gave the
story of the woman who was taking her son to the hospital with his head
jammed into a saucepan, and explained to the other people in the
omnibus: "You see, what makes it so annoying, it's me only saucepan!"
Then they came back to the Sense of Humour with the dentist who shouted
with laughter, and when asked the reason by his patient, choked out:
"Wrong tooth!" and then Mr. Pope reminded them of the heartless husband
who, suddenly informed that his mother-in-law was dead, exclaimed "Oh,
don't make me laugh, please, I've got a split lip...."


§ 9

The conversation assumed a less anecdotal quality with the removal to
the drawing-room. On Mr. Magnet's initiative the gentlemen followed the
ladies almost immediately, and it was Mr. Magnet who remembered that
Marjorie could sing.

Both the elder sisters indeed had sweet clear voices, and they had
learnt a number of those jolly songs the English made before the dull
Hanoverians came. Syd accompanied, and Rom sat back in the low chair in
the corner and fell deeply in love with Mr. Wintersloan. The three
musicians in their green and sulphur-yellow and white made a pretty
group in the light of the shaded lamp against the black and gold
Broadwood, the tawdry screen, its pattern thin glittering upon darkness,
and the deep shadows behind. Marjorie loved singing, and forgot herself
as she sang.

    "I love, and he loves me again,
      Yet dare I not tell who;
    For if the nymphs should know my swain,
      I fear they'd love him too,"

she sang, and Mr. Magnet could not conceal the intensity of his
admiration.

Mr. Pope had fallen into a pleasant musing; several other ripe old
yarns, dear delicious old things, had come into his mind that he felt he
might presently recall when this unavoidable display of accomplishments
was overpast, and it was with one of them almost on his lips that he
glanced across at his guest. He was surprised to see Mr. Magnet's face
transfigured. He was sitting forward, looking up at Marjorie, and he had
caught something of the expression of those blessed boys who froth at
the feet of an Assumption. For an instant Mr. Pope did not understand.

Then he understood. It was Marjorie! He had a twinge of surprise, and
glanced at his own daughter as though he had never seen her before. He
perceived in a flash for the first time that this troublesome, clever,
disrespectful child was tall and shapely and sweet, and indeed quite a
beautiful young woman. He forgot his anecdotes. His being was suffused
with pride and responsibility and the sense of virtue rewarded. He did
not reflect for a moment that Marjorie embodied in almost equal
proportions the very best points in his mother and his mother-in-law,
and avoided his own more salient characteristics with so neat a
dexterity that from top to toe, except for the one matter of colour, not
only did she not resemble him but she scarcely even alluded to him. He
thought simply that she was his daughter, that she derived from him,
that her beauty was his. She was the outcome of his meritorious
preparations. He recalled all the moments when he had been kind and
indulgent to her, all the bills he had paid for her; all the stresses
and trials of the coach-building collapse, all the fluctuations of his
speculative adventures, became things he had faced patiently and
valiantly for her sake. He forgot the endless times when he had been
viciously cross with her, all the times when he had pished and tushed
and sworn in her hearing. He had on provocation and in spite of her
mother's protests slapped her pretty vigorously, but such things are
better forgotten; nor did he recall how bitterly he had opposed the
college education which had made her now so clear in eye and thought,
nor the frightful shindy, only three months since, about that identical
green dress in which she now stood delightful. He forgot these petty
details, as an idealist should. There she was, his daughter. An immense
benevolence irradiated his soul--for Marjorie--for Magnet. His eyes were
suffused with a not ignoble tenderness. The man, he knew, was worth at
least thirty-five thousand pounds, a discussion of investments had made
that clear, and he must be making at least five thousand a year! A
beautiful girl, a worthy man! A good fellow, a sound good fellow, a
careful fellow too--as these fellows went!

Old Daddy would lose his treasure of course.

Well, a father must learn resignation, and he for one would not stand in
the way of his girl's happiness. A day would come when, very beautifully
and tenderly, he would hand her over to Magnet, his favourite daughter
to his trusted friend. "Well, my boy, there's no one in all the
world----" he would begin.

It would be a touching parting. "Don't forget your old father, Maggots,"
he would say. At such a moment that quaint nickname would surely not be
resented....

He reflected how much he had always preferred Marjorie to Daffy. She was
brighter--more like him. Daffy was unresponsive, with a touch of
bitterness under her tongue....

He was already dreaming he was a widower, rather infirm, the object of
Magnet's and Marjorie's devoted care, when the song ceased, and the wife
he had for the purpose of reveries just consigned so carelessly to the
cemetery proposed that they should have a little game that every one
could play at. A number of pencils and slips of paper appeared in her
hands. She did not want the girls to exhaust their repertory on this
first occasion--and besides, Mr. Pope liked games in which one did
things with pencils and strips of paper. Mr. Magnet wished the singing
to go on, he said, but he was overruled.

So for a time every one played a little game in which Mr. Pope was
particularly proficient. Indeed, it was rare that any one won but Mr.
Pope. It was called "The Great Departed," and it had such considerable
educational value that all the children had to play at it whenever he
wished.

It was played in this manner; one of the pseudo twins opened a book and
dabbed a finger on the page, and read out the letter immediately at the
tip of her finger, then all of them began to write as hard as they
could, writing down the names of every great person they could think of,
whose name began with that letter. At the end of five minutes Mr. Pope
said Stop! and then began to read his list out, beginning with the first
name. Everybody who had that name crossed it out and scored one, and
after his list was exhausted all the surviving names on the next list
were read over in the same way, and so on. The names had to be the names
of dead celebrated people, only one monarch of the same name of the same
dynasty was allowed, and Mr. Pope adjudicated on all doubtful cases. It
was great fun.

The first two games were won as usual by Mr. Pope, and then Mr.
Wintersloan, who had been a little distraught in his manner, brightened
up and scribbled furiously.

The letter was _D_, and after Mr. Pope had rehearsed a tale of nine and
twenty names, Mr. Wintersloan read out his list in that curious voice of
his which suggested nothing so much as some mobile drink glucking out of
the neck of a bottle held upside down.

"Dahl," he began.

"Who was Dahl?" asked Mr. Pope.

"'Vented dahlias," said Mr. Wintersloan, with a sigh. "Danton."

"Forgot him," said Mr. Pope.

"Davis."

"Davis?"

"Davis Straits. Doe."

"Who?"

"John Doe, Richard Roe."

"Legal fiction, I'm afraid," said Mr. Pope.

"Dam," said Mr. Wintersloan, and added after a slight pause: "Anthony
van."

Mr. Pope made an interrogative noise.

"Painter--eighteenth century--Dutch. Dam, Jan van, his son. Dam,
Frederich van. Dam, Wilhelm van. Dam, Diedrich van. Dam, Wilhelmina,
wood engraver, gifted woman. Diehl."

"Who?"

"Painter--dead--famous. See Düsseldorf. It's all painters now--all
guaranteed dead, all good men. Deeds of Norfolk, the aquarellist,
Denton, Dibbs."

"Er?" said Mr. Pope.

"The Warwick Claude, _you_ know. Died 1823."

"Dickson, Dunting, John Dickery. Peter Dickery, William Dock--I beg your
pardon?"

Mr. Pope was making a protesting gesture, but Mr. Wintersloan's bearing
was invincible, and he proceeded.

In the end he emerged triumphant with forty-nine names, mostly painters
for whose fame he answered, but whose reputations were certainly new to
every one else present. "I can go on like that," said Mr. Wintersloan,
"with any letter," and turned that hard little smile full on Marjorie.
"I didn't see how to do it at first. I just cast about. But I know a
frightful lot of painters. No end. Shall we try again?"

Marjorie glanced at her father. Mr. Wintersloan's methods were all too
evident to her. A curious feeling pervaded the room that Mr. Pope didn't
think Mr. Wintersloan's conduct honourable, and that he might even go
some way towards saying so.

So Mrs. Pope became very brisk and stirring, and said she thought that
now perhaps a charade would be more amusing. It didn't do to keep on at
a game too long. She asked Rom and Daphne and Theodore and Mr.
Wintersloan to go out, and they all agreed readily, particularly Rom.
"Come on!" said Rom to Mr. Wintersloan. Everybody else shifted into an
audience-like group between the piano and the what-not. Mr. Magnet sat
at Marjorie's feet, while Syd played a kind of voluntary, and Mr. Pope
leant back in his chair, with his brows knit and lips moving, trying to
remember something.

The charade _was_ very amusing. The word was Catarrh, and Mr.
Wintersloan, as the patient in the last act being given gruel, surpassed
even the children's very high expectations. Rom, as his nurse, couldn't
keep her hands off him. Then the younger people kissed round and were
packed off to bed, and the rest of the party went to the door upon the
lawn and admired the night. It was a glorious summer night, deep blue,
and rimmed warmly by the afterglow, moonless, and with a few big
lamp-like stars above the black still shapes of trees.

Mrs. Pope said they would all accompany their guests to the gate at the
end of the avenue--in spite of the cockchafers.

Mr. Pope's ankle, however, excused him; the cordiality of his parting
from Mr. Wintersloan seemed a trifle forced, and he limped thoughtfully
and a little sombrely towards the study to see if he could find an
Encyclopædia or some such book of reference that would give the names of
the lesser lights of Dutch, Italian, and English painting during the
last two centuries.

He felt that Mr. Wintersloan had established an extraordinarily bad
precedent.


§ 10

Marjorie discovered that she and Mr. Magnet had fallen a little behind
the others. She would have quickened her pace, but Mr. Magnet stopped
short and said: "Marjorie!"

"When I saw you standing there and singing," said Mr. Magnet, and was
short of breath for a moment.

Marjorie's natural gift for interruption failed her altogether.

"I felt I would rather be able to call you mine--than win an empire."

The pause seemed to lengthen, between them, and Marjorie's remark when
she made it at last struck her even as she made it as being but poorly
conceived. She had some weak idea of being self-depreciatory.

"I think you had better win an empire, Mr. Magnet," she said meekly.

Then, before anything more was possible, they had come up to Daffy and
Mr. Wintersloan and her mother at the gate....

As they returned Mrs. Pope was loud in the praises of Will Magnet. She
had a little clear-cut voice, very carefully and very skilfully
controlled, and she dilated on his modesty, his quiet helpfulness at
table, his ready presence of mind. She pointed out instances of those
admirable traits, incidents small in themselves but charming in their
implications. When somebody wanted junket, he had made no fuss, he had
just helped them to junket. "So modest and unassuming," sang Mrs. Pope.
"You'd never dream he was quite rich and famous. Yet every book he
writes is translated into Russian and German and all sorts of languages.
I suppose he's almost the greatest humorist we have. That play of his;
what is it called?--_Our Owd Woman_--has been performed nearly twelve
hundred times! I think that is the most wonderful of gifts. Think of the
people it has made happy."

The conversation was mainly monologue. Both Marjorie and Daffy were
unusually thoughtful.


§ 11

Marjorie ended the long day in a worldly mood.

"Penny for your thoughts," said Daffy abruptly, brushing the long
firelit rapids of her hair.

"Not for sale," said Marjorie, and roused herself. "I've had a long
day."

"It's always just the time I particularly wish I was a man," she
remarked after a brief return to meditation. "Fancy, no hair-pins, no
brushing, no tie-up to get lost about, no strings. I suppose they
haven't strings?"

"They haven't," said Daffy with conviction.

She met Marjorie's interrogative eye. "Father would swear at them," she
explained. "He'd naturally tie himself up--and we should hear of it."

"I didn't think of that," said Marjorie, and stuck out her chin upon her
fists. "Sound induction."

She forgot this transitory curiosity.

"Suppose one had a maid, Daffy--a real maid ... a maid who mended your
things ... did your hair while you read...."

"Oh! here goes," and she stood up and grappled with the task of
undressing.



CHAPTER THE SECOND

THE TWO PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET


§ 1

It was presently quite evident to Marjorie that Mr. Magnet intended to
propose marriage to her, and she did not even know whether she wanted
him to do so.

She had met him first the previous summer while she had been staying
with the Petley-Cresthams at High Windower, and it had been evident that
he found her extremely attractive. She had never had a real grown man at
her feet before, and she had found it amazingly entertaining. She had
gone for a walk with him the morning before she came away--a frank and
ingenuous proceeding that made Mrs. Petley-Crestham say the girl knew
what she was about, and she had certainly coquetted with him in an
extraordinary manner at golf-croquet. After that Oxbridge had swallowed
her up, and though he had called once on her mother while Marjorie was
in London during the Christmas vacation, he hadn't seen her again. He
had written--which was exciting--a long friendly humorous letter about
nothing in particular, with an air of its being quite the correct thing
for him to do, and she had answered, and there had been other exchanges.
But all sorts of things had happened in the interval, and Marjorie had
let him get into quite a back place in her thoughts--the fact that he
was a member of her father's club had seemed somehow to remove him from
a great range of possibilities--until a drift in her mother's talk
towards him and a letter from him with an indefinable change in tone
towards intimacy, had restored him to importance. Now here he was in the
foreground of her world again, evidently more ardent than ever, and with
a portentous air of being about to do something decisive at the very
first opportunity. What was he going to do? What had her mother been
hinting at? And what, in fact, did the whole thing amount to?

Marjorie was beginning to realize that this was going to be a very
serious affair indeed for her--and that she was totally unprepared to
meet it.

It had been very amusing, very amusing indeed, at the Petley-Cresthams',
but there were moments now when she felt towards Mr. Magnet exactly as
she would have felt if he had been one of the Oxbridge tradesmen
hovering about her with a "little account," full of apparently
exaggerated items....

Her thoughts and feelings were all in confusion about this business. Her
mind was full of scraps, every sort of idea, every sort of attitude
contributed something to that Twentieth Century jumble. For example, and
so far as its value went among motives, it was by no means a trivial
consideration; she wanted a proposal for its own sake. Daffy had had a
proposal last year, and although it wasn't any sort of eligible
proposal, still there it was, and she had given herself tremendous airs.
But Marjorie would certainly have preferred some lighter kind of
proposal than that which now threatened her. She felt that behind Mr.
Magnet were sanctions; that she wasn't free to deal with this proposal
as she liked. He was at Buryhamstreet almost with the air of being her
parents' guest.

Less clear and more instinctive than her desire for a proposal was her
inclination to see just all that Mr. Magnet was disposed to do, and hear
all that he was disposed to say. She was curious. He didn't behave in
the least as she had expected a lover to behave. But then none of the
boys, the "others" with whom she had at times stretched a hand towards
the hem of emotion, had ever done that. She had an obscure feeling that
perhaps presently Mr. Magnet must light up, be stirred and stirring.
Even now his voice changed very interestingly when he was alone with
her. His breath seemed to go--as though something had pricked his lung.
If it hadn't been for that new, disconcerting realization of an official
pressure behind him, I think she would have been quite ready to
experiment extensively with his emotions....

But she perceived as she lay awake next morning that she wasn't free for
experiments any longer. What she might say or do now would be taken up
very conclusively. And she had no idea what she wanted to say or do.

Marriage regarded in the abstract--that is to say, with Mr. Magnet out
of focus--was by no means an unattractive proposal to her. It was very
much at the back of Marjorie's mind that after Oxbridge, unless she was
prepared to face a very serious row indeed and go to teach in a
school--and she didn't feel any call whatever to teach in a school--she
would probably have to return to Hartstone Square and share Daffy's room
again, and assist in the old collective, wearisome task of propitiating
her father. The freedoms of Oxbridge had enlarged her imagination until
that seemed an almost unendurably irksome prospect. She had tasted life
as it could be in her father's absence, and she was beginning to realize
just what an impossible person he was. Marriage was escape from all
that; it meant not only respectful parents but a house of her very own,
furniture of her choice, great freedom of movement, an authority, an
importance. She had seen what it meant to be a prosperously married
young woman in the person of one or two resplendent old girls revisiting
Bennett College, scattering invitations, offering protections and
opportunities....

Of course there is love.

Marjorie told herself, as she had been trained to tell herself, to be
sensible, but something within her repeated: _there is love_.

Of course she liked Mr. Magnet. She really did like Mr. Magnet very
much. She had had her girlish dreams, had fallen in love with pictures
of men and actors and a music master and a man who used to ride by as
she went to school; but wasn't this desolating desire for
self-abandonment rather silly?--something that one left behind with much
else when it came to putting up one's hair and sensible living,
something to blush secretly about and hide from every eye?

Among other discrepant views that lived together in her mind as cats and
rats and parrots and squirrels and so forth used to live together in
those Happy Family cages unseemly men in less well-regulated days were
wont to steer about our streets, was one instilled by quite a large
proportion of the novels she had read, that a girl was a sort of
self-giving prize for high moral worth. Mr. Magnet she knew was good,
was kind, was brave with that truer courage, moral courage, which goes
with his type of physique; he was modest, unassuming, well off and
famous, and very much in love with her. His True Self, as Mrs. Pope had
pointed out several times, must be really very beautiful, and in some
odd way a line of Shakespeare had washed up in her consciousness as
being somehow effectual on his behalf:

    "Love looks not with the eye but with the mind."

She felt she ought to look with the mind. Nice people surely never
looked in any other way. It seemed from this angle almost her duty to
love him....

Perhaps she did love him, and mistook the symptoms. She did her best to
mistake the symptoms. But if she did truly love him, would it seem so
queer and important and antagonistic as it did that his hair was rather
thin upon the crown of his head?

She wished she hadn't looked down on him....

Poor Marjorie! She was doing her best to be sensible, and she felt
herself adrift above a clamorous abyss of feared and forbidden thoughts.
Down there she knew well enough it wasn't thus that love must come. Deep
in her soul, the richest thing in her life indeed and the best thing she
had to give humanity, was a craving for beauty that at times became
almost intolerable, a craving for something other than beauty and yet
inseparably allied with it, a craving for deep excitement, for a sort of
glory in adventure, for passion--for things akin to great music and
heroic poems and bannered traditions of romance. She had hidden away in
her an immense tumultuous appetite for life, an immense tumultuous
capacity for living. To be loved beautifully was surely the crown and
climax of her being.

She did not dare to listen to these deeps, yet these insurgent voices
filled her. Even while she drove her little crocodile of primly sensible
thoughts to their sane appointed conclusion, her blood and nerves and
all her being were protesting that Mr. Magnet would not do, that
whatever other worthiness was in him, regarded as a lover he was
preposterous and flat and foolish and middle-aged, and that it were
better never to have lived than to put the treasure of her life to his
meagre lips and into his hungry, unattractive arms. "The ugliness of
it! The spiritless horror of it!" so dumbly and formlessly the rebel
voices urged.

"One has to be sensible," said Marjorie to herself, suddenly putting
down Shaw's book on Municipal Trading, which she imagined she had been
reading....

(Perhaps all marriage was horrid, and one had to get over it.)

That was rather what her mother had conveyed to her.


§ 2

Mr. Magnet made his first proposal in form three days later, after
coming twice to tea and staying on to supper. He had played croquet with
Mr. Pope, he had been beaten twelve times in spite of twinges in the
sprained ankle--heroically borne--had had three victories lucidly
explained away, and heard all the particulars of the East Purblow
experiment three times over, first in relation to the new Labour
Exchanges, then regarded at rather a different angle in relation to
female betting, tally-men, and the sanctities of the home generally, and
finally in a more exhaustive style, to show its full importance from
every side and more particularly as demonstrating the gross injustice
done to Mr. Pope by the neglect of its lessons, a neglect too systematic
to be accidental, in the social reform literature of the time. Moreover,
Mr. Magnet had been made to understand thoroughly how several later
quasi-charitable attempts of a similar character had already become, or
must inevitably become, unsatisfactory through their failure to follow
exactly in the lines laid down by Mr. Pope.

Mr. Pope was really very anxious to be pleasant and agreeable to Mr.
Magnet, and he could think of no surer way of doing so than by giving
him an unrestrained intimacy of conversation that prevented anything
more than momentary intercourse between his daughter and her admirer.
And not only did Mr. Magnet find it difficult to get away from Mr. Pope
without offence, but whenever by any chance Mr. Pope was detached for a
moment Mr. Magnet discovered that Marjorie either wasn't to be seen, or
if she was she wasn't to be isolated by any device he could contrive,
before the unappeasable return of Mr. Pope.

Mr. Magnet did not get his chance therefore until Lady Petchworth's
little gathering at Summerhay Park.

Lady Petchworth was Mrs. Pope's oldest friend, and one of those brighter
influences which save our English country-side from lassitude. She had
been more fortunate than Mrs. Pope, for while Mr. Pope with that
aptitude for disadvantage natural to his temperament had, he said, been
tied to a business that never gave him a chance, Lady Petchworth's
husband had been a reckless investor of exceptional good-luck. In
particular, led by a dream, he had put most of his money into a series
of nitrate deposits in caves in Saghalien haunted by benevolent
penguins, and had been rewarded beyond the dreams of avarice. His
foresight had received the fitting reward of a knighthood, and Sir
Thomas, after restoring the Parish Church at Summerhay in a costly and
destructive manner, spent his declining years in an enviable contentment
with Lady Petchworth and the world at large, and died long before
infirmity made him really troublesome.

Good fortune had brought out Lady Petchworth's social aptitudes.
Summerhay Park was everything that a clever woman, inspired by that
gardening literature which has been so abundant in the opening years of
the twentieth century, could make it. It had rosaries and rock gardens,
sundials and yew hedges, pools and ponds, lead figures and stone urns,
box borderings and wilderness corners and hundreds and hundreds of feet
of prematurely-aged red-brick wall with broad herbaceous borders; the
walks had primroses, primulas and cowslips in a quite disingenuous
abundance, and in spring the whole extent of the park was gay, here with
thousands of this sort of daffodil just bursting out and here with
thousands of that sort of narcissus just past its prime, and every patch
ready to pass itself off in its naturalized way as the accidental native
flower of the field, if only it hadn't been for all the other different
varieties coming on or wilting-off in adjacent patches....

Her garden was only the beginning of Lady Petchworth's activities. She
had a model dairy, and all her poultry was white, and so far as she was
able to manage it she made Summerhay a model village. She overflowed
with activities, it was astonishing in one so plump and blonde, and
meeting followed meeting in the artistic little red-brick and
green-stained timber village hall she had erected. Now it was the
National Theatre and now it was the National Mourning; now it was the
Break Up of the Poor Law, and now the Majority Report, now the Mothers'
Union, and now Socialism, and now Individualism, but always something
progressive and beneficial. She did her best to revive the old village
life, and brought her very considerable powers of compulsion to make the
men dance in simple old Morris dances, dressed up in costumes they
secretly abominated, and to induce the mothers to dress their children
in art-coloured smocks instead of the prints and blue serge frocks they
preferred. She did not despair, she said, of creating a spontaneous
peasant art movement in the district, springing from the people and
expressing the people, but so far it had been necessary to import not
only instructors and material, but workers to keep the thing going, so
sluggish had the spontaneity of our English countryside become.

Her little gatherings were quite distinctive of her. They were a sort of
garden party extending from mid-day to six or seven; there would be a
nucleus of house guests, and the highways and byeways on every hand
would be raided to supply persons and interests. She had told her friend
to "bring the girls over for the day," and flung an invitation to Mr.
Pope, who had at once excused himself on the score of his ankle. Mr.
Pope was one of those men who shun social gatherings--ostensibly because
of a sterling simplicity of taste, but really because his intolerable
egotism made him feel slighted and neglected on these occasions. He told
his wife he would be far happier with a book at home, exhorted her not
to be late, and was seen composing himself to read the "Vicar of
Wakefield"--whenever they published a new book Mr. Pope pretended to
read an old one--as the hired waggonette took the rest of his
family--Theodore very unhappy in buff silk and a wide Stuart
collar--down the avenue.

They found a long lunch table laid on the lawn beneath the chestnuts,
and in full view of the poppies and forget-me-nots around the stone
obelisk, a butler and three men servants with brass buttons and red and
white striped waistcoats gave dignity to the scene, and beyond, on the
terrace amidst abundance of deckchairs, cane chairs, rugs, and cushions,
a miscellaneous and increasing company seethed under Lady Petchworth's
plump but entertaining hand. There were, of course, Mr. Magnet, and his
friend Mr. Wintersloan--Lady Petchworth had been given to understand
how the land lay; and there was Mr. Bunford Paradise the musician, who
was doing his best to teach a sullen holiday class in the village
schoolroom to sing the artless old folk songs of Surrey again, in spite
of the invincible persuasion of everybody in the class that the songs
were rather indelicate and extremely silly; there were the Rev. Jopling
Baynes, and two Cambridge undergraduates in flannels, and a Doctor
something or other from London. There was also the Hon. Charles Muskett,
Lord Pottinger's cousin and estate agent, in tweeds and very helpful.
The ladies included Mrs. Raff, the well-known fashion writer, in a
wonderful costume, the anonymous doctor's wife, three or four
neighbouring mothers with an undistinguished daughter or so, and two
quiet-mannered middle-aged ladies, whose names Marjorie could not catch,
and whom Lady Petchworth, in that well-controlled voice of hers,
addressed as Kate and Julia, and seemed on the whole disposed to treat
as humorous. There was also Fraulein Schmidt in charge of Lady
Petchworth's three tall and already abundant children, Prunella,
Prudence, and Mary, and a young, newly-married couple of cousins, who
addressed each other in soft undertones and sat apart. These were the
chief items that became distinctive in Marjorie's survey; but there were
a number of other people who seemed to come and go, split up, fuse,
change their appearance slightly, and behave in the way inadequately
apprehended people do behave on these occasions.

Marjorie very speedily found her disposition to take a detached and
amused view of the entertainment in conflict with more urgent demands.
From the outset Mr. Magnet loomed upon her--he loomed nearer and nearer.
He turned his eye upon her as she came up to the wealthy expanse of
Lady Petchworth's presence, like some sort of obsolescent iron-clad
turning a dull-grey, respectful, loving searchlight upon a fugitive
torpedo boat, and thereafter he seemed to her to be looking at her
without intermission, relentlessly, and urging himself towards her. She
wished he wouldn't. She hadn't at all thought he would on this occasion.

At first she relied upon her natural powers of evasion, and the presence
of a large company. Then gradually it became apparent that Lady
Petchworth and her mother, yes--and the party generally, and the gardens
and the weather and the stars in their courses were of a mind to
co-operate in giving opportunity for Mr. Magnet's unmistakable
intentions.

And Marjorie with that instability of her sex which has been a theme for
masculine humour in all ages, suddenly and with an extraordinary
violence didn't want to make up her mind about Mr. Magnet. She didn't
want to accept him; and as distinctly she didn't want to refuse him. She
didn't even want to be thought about as making up her mind about
him--which was, so to speak, an enlargement of her previous
indisposition. She didn't even want to seem to avoid him, or to be
thinking about him, or aware of his existence.

After the greeting of Lady Petchworth she had succeeded very clumsily in
not seeing Mr. Magnet, and had addressed herself to Mr. Wintersloan, who
was standing a little apart, looking under his hand, with one eye shut,
at the view between the tree stems towards Buryhamstreet. He told her
that he thought he had found something "pooty" that hadn't been done,
and she did her best to share his artistic interests with a vivid sense
of Mr. Magnet's tentative incessant approach behind her.

He joined them, and she made a desperate attempt to entangle Mr.
Wintersloan in a three-cornered talk in vain. He turned away at the
first possible opportunity, and left her to an embarrassed and
eloquently silent _tête-à-tête_. Mr. Magnet's professional wit had
deserted him. "It's nice to see you again," he said after an immense
interval. "Shall we go and look at the aviary?"

"I hate to see birds in cages," said Marjorie, "and it's frightfully
jolly just here. Do you think Mr. Wintersloan will paint this? He does
paint, doesn't he?"

"I know him best in black and white," said Mr. Magnet.

Marjorie embarked on entirely insincere praises of Mr. Wintersloan's
manner and personal effect; Magnet replied tepidly, with an air of
reserving himself to grapple with the first conversational opportunity.

"It's a splendid day for tennis," said Marjorie. "I think I shall play
tennis all the afternoon."

"I don't play well enough for this publicity."

"It's glorious exercise," said Marjorie. "Almost as good as dancing,"
and she decided to stick to that resolution. "I never lose a chance of
tennis if I can help it."

She glanced round and detected a widening space between themselves and
the next adjacent group.

"They're looking at the goldfish," she said. "Let us join them."

Everyone moved away as they came up to the little round pond, but then
Marjorie had luck, and captured Prunella, and got her to hold hands and
talk, until Fraulein Schmidt called the child away. And then Marjorie
forced Mr. Magnet to introduce her to Mr. Bunford Paradise. She had a
bright idea of sitting between Prunella and Mary at the lunch table,
but a higher providence had assigned her to a seat at the end between
Julia--or was it Kate?--and Mr. Magnet. However, one of the
undergraduates was opposite, and she saved herself from undertones by
talking across to him boldly about Newnham, though she hadn't an idea of
his name or college. From that she came to tennis. To her inflamed
imagination he behaved as if she was under a Taboo, but she was
desperate, and had pledged him and his friend to a foursome before the
meal was over.

"Don't _you_ play?" said the undergraduate to Mr. Magnet.

"Very little," said Mr. Magnet. "Very little--"

At the end of an hour she was conspicuously and publicly shepherded from
the tennis court by Mrs. Pope.

"Other people want to play," said her mother in a clear little
undertone.

Mr. Magnet fielded her neatly as she came off the court.

"You play tennis like--a wild bird," he said, taking possession of her.

Only Marjorie's entire freedom from Irish blood saved him from a
vindictive repartee.


§ 3

"Shall we go and look at the aviary?" said Mr. Magnet, reverting to a
favourite idea of his, and then remembered she did not like to see caged
birds.

"Perhaps we might see the Water Garden?" he said. "The Water Garden is
really very delightful indeed--anyhow. You ought to see that."

On the spur of the moment, Marjorie could think of no objection to the
Water Garden, and he led her off.

"I often think of that jolly walk we had last summer," said Mr. Magnet,
"and how you talked about your work at Oxbridge."

Marjorie fell into a sudden rapture of admiration for a butterfly.

Twice more was Mr. Magnet baffled, and then they came to the little pool
of water lilies with its miniature cascade of escape at the head and
source of the Water Garden. "One of Lady Petchworth's great successes,"
said Mr. Magnet.

"I suppose the lotus is like the water-lily," said Marjorie, with no
hope of staving off the inevitable----

She stood very still by the little pool, and in spite of her pensive
regard of the floating blossoms, stiffly and intensely aware of his
relentless regard.

"Marjorie," came his voice at last, strangely softened. "There is
something I want to say to you."

She made no reply.

"Ever since we met last summer----"

A clear cold little resolution not to stand this, had established itself
in Marjorie's mind. If she must decide, she _would_ decide. He had
brought it upon himself.

"Marjorie," said Mr. Magnet, "I love you."

She lifted a clear unhesitating eye to his face. "I'm sorry, Mr.
Magnet," she said.

"I wanted to ask you to marry me," he said.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Magnet," she repeated.

They looked at one another. She felt a sort of scared exultation at
having done it; her mother might say what she liked.

"I love you very much," he said, at a loss.

"I'm sorry," she repeated obstinately.

"I thought you cared for me a little."

She left that unanswered. She had a curious feeling that there was no
getting away from this splashing, babbling pool, that she was fixed
there until Mr. Magnet chose to release her, and that he didn't mean to
release her yet. In which case she would go on refusing.

"I'm disappointed," he said.

Marjorie could only think that she was sorry again, but as she had
already said that three times, she remained awkwardly silent.

"Is it because----" he began and stopped.

"It isn't because of anything. Please let's go back to the others, Mr.
Magnet. I'm sorry if I'm disappointing."

And by a great effort she turned about.

Mr. Magnet remained regarding her--I can only compare it to the
searching preliminary gaze of an artistic photographer. For a crucial
minute in his life Marjorie hated him. "I don't understand," he said at
last.

Then with a sort of naturalness that ought to have touched her he said:
"Is it possible, Marjorie--that I might hope?--that I have been
inopportune?"

She answered at once with absolute conviction.

"I don't think so, Mr. Magnet."

"I'm sorry," he said, "to have bothered you."

"_I'm_ sorry," said Marjorie.

A long silence followed.

"I'm sorry too," he said.

They said no more, but began to retrace their steps. It was over.
Abruptly, Mr. Magnet's bearing had become despondent--conspicuously
despondent. "I had hoped," he said, and sighed.

With a thrill of horror Marjorie perceived he meant to _look_ rejected,
let every one see he had been rejected--after encouragement.

What would they think? How would they look? What conceivably might they
not say? Something of the importance of the thing she had done, became
manifest to her. She felt first intimations of regret. They would all be
watching, Mother, Daffy, Lady Petchworth. She would reappear with this
victim visibly suffering beside her. What could she say to straighten
his back and lift his chin? She could think of nothing. Ahead at the end
of the shaded path she could see the copious white form, the agitated
fair wig and red sunshade of Lady Petchworth----


§ 4

Mrs. Pope's eye was relentless; nothing seemed hidden from it; nothing
indeed was hidden from it; Mr. Magnet's back was diagrammatic. Marjorie
was a little flushed and bright-eyed, and professed herself eager, with
an unnatural enthusiasm, to play golf-croquet. It was eloquently
significant that Mr. Magnet did not share her eagerness, declined to
play, and yet when she had started with the Rev. Jopling Baynes as
partner, stood regarding the game with a sort of tender melancholy from
the shade of the big chestnut-tree.

Mrs. Pope joined him unobtrusively.

"You're not playing, Mr. Magnet," she remarked.

"I'm a looker-on, this time," he said with a sigh.

"Marjorie's winning, I think," said Mrs. Pope.

He made no answer for some seconds.

"She looks so charming in that blue dress," he remarked at last, and
sighed from the lowest deeps.

"That bird's-egg blue suits her," said Mrs. Pope, ignoring the sigh.
"She's clever in her girlish way, she chooses all her own
dresses,--colours, material, everything."

(And also, though Mrs. Pope had not remarked it, she concealed her
bills.)

There came a still longer interval, which Mrs. Pope ended with the
slightest of shivers. She perceived Mr. Magnet was heavy for sympathy
and ripe to confide. "I think," she said, "it's a little cool here.
Shall we walk to the Water Garden, and see if there are any white
lilies?"

"There are," said Mr. Magnet sorrowfully, "and they are very
beautiful--_quite_ beautiful."

He turned to the path along which he had so recently led Marjorie.

He glanced back as they went along between Lady Petchworth's herbaceous
border and the poppy beds. "She's so full of life," he said, with a sigh
in his voice.

Mrs. Pope knew she must keep silent.

"I asked her to marry me this afternoon," Mr. Magnet blurted out. "I
couldn't help it."

Mrs. Pope made her silence very impressive.

"I know I ought not to have done so without consulting you"--he went on
lamely; "I'm very much in love with her. It's----It's done no harm."

Mrs. Pope's voice was soft and low. "I had no idea, Mr. Magnet.... You
know she is very young. Twenty. A mother----"

"I know," said Magnet. "I can quite understand. But I've done no harm.
She refused me. I shall go away to-morrow. Go right away for ever....
I'm sorry."

Another long silence.

"To me, of course, she's just a child," Mrs. Pope said at last. "She
_is_ only a child, Mr. Magnet. She could have had no idea that anything
of the sort was in your mind----"

Her words floated away into the stillness.

For a time they said no more. The lilies came into sight, dreaming under
a rich green shade on a limpid pool of brown water, water that slept and
brimmed over as it were, unconsciously into a cool splash and ripple of
escape. "How beautiful!" cried Mrs. Pope, for a moment genuine.

"I spoke to her here," said Mr. Magnet.

The fountains of his confidence were unloosed.

"Now I've spoken to you about it, Mrs. Pope," he said, "I can tell you
just how I--oh, it's the only word--adore her. She seems so sweet and
easy--so graceful----"

Mrs. Pope turned on him abruptly, and grasped his hands; she was deeply
moved. "I can't tell you," she said, "what it means to a mother to hear
such things----"

Words failed her, and for some moments they engaged in a mutual
pressure.

"Ah!" said Mr. Magnet, and had a queer wish it was the mother he had to
deal with.

"Are you sure, Mr. Magnet," Mrs. Pope went on as their emotions
subsided, "that she really meant what she said? Girls are very strange
creatures----"

"She seems so clear and positive."

"Her manner is always clear and positive."

"Yes. I know."

"I know she _has_ cared for you."

"No!"

"A mother sees. When your name used to be mentioned----. But these are
not things to talk about. There is something--something sacred----"

"Yes," he said. "Yes. Only----Of course, one thing----"

Mrs. Pope seemed lost in the contemplation of water-lilies.

"I wondered," said Mr. Magnet, and paused again.

Then, almost breathlessly, "I wondered if there should be perhaps--some
one else?"

She shook her head slowly. "I should know," she said.

"Are you sure?"

"I know I should know."

"Perhaps recently?"

"I am sure I should know. A mother's intuition----"

Memories possessed her for awhile. "A girl of twenty is a mass of
contradictions. I can remember myself as if it was yesterday. Often one
says no, or yes--out of sheer nervousness.... I am sure there is no
other attachment----"

It occurred to her that she had said enough. "What a dignity that old
gold-fish has!" she remarked. "He waves his tail--as if he were a beadle
waving little boys out of church."


§ 5

Mrs. Pope astonished Marjorie by saying nothing about the all too
obvious event of the day for some time, but her manner to her second
daughter on their way home was strangely gentle. It was as if she had
realized for the first time that regret and unhappiness might come into
that young life. After supper, however, she spoke. They had all gone out
just before the children went to bed to look for the new moon; Daffy was
showing the pseudo-twins the old moon in the new moon's arms, and
Marjorie found herself standing by her mother's side. "I hope dear,"
said Mrs. Pope, "that it's all for the best--and that you've done
wisely, dear."

Marjorie was astonished and moved by her mother's tone.

"It's so difficult to know what _is_ for the best," Mrs. Pope went on.

"I had to do--as I did," said Marjorie.

"I only hope you may never find you have made a Great Mistake, dear. He
cares for you very, very much."

"Oh! we see it now!" cried Rom, "we see it now! Mummy, have you seen it?
Like a little old round ghost being nursed!"

When Marjorie said "Good-night," Mrs. Pope kissed her with an
unaccustomed effusion.

It occurred to Marjorie that after all her mother had no selfish end to
serve in this affair.


§ 6

The idea that perhaps after all she had made a Great Mistake, the
Mistake of her Life it might be, was quite firmly established in its
place among all the other ideas in Marjorie's mind by the time she had
dressed next morning. Subsequent events greatly intensified this
persuasion. A pair of new stockings she had trusted sprang a bad hole as
she put them on. She found two unmistakable bills from Oxbridge beside
her plate, and her father was "horrid" at breakfast.

Her father, it appeared, had bought the ordinary shares of a Cuban
railway very extensively, on the distinct understanding that they would
improve. In a decent universe, with a proper respect for meritorious
gentlemen, these shares would have improved accordingly, but the weather
had seen fit to shatter the wisdom of Mr. Pope altogether. The sugar
crop had collapsed, the bears were at work, and every morning now saw
his nominal capital diminished by a dozen pounds or so. I do not know
what Mr. Pope would have done if he had not had his family to help him
bear his trouble. As it was he relieved his tension by sending Theodore
from the table for dropping a knife, telling Rom when she turned the
plate round to pick the largest banana that she hadn't the self-respect
of a child of five, and remarking sharply from behind the _Times_ when
Daffy asked Marjorie if she was going to sketch: "Oh, for God's sake
don't _whisper!_" Then when Mrs. Pope came round the table and tried to
take his coffee cup softly to refill it without troubling him, he
snatched at it, wrenched it roughly out of her hand, and said with his
mouth full, and strangely in the manner of a snarling beast: "No' ready
yet. Half foo'."

Marjorie wanted to know why every one didn't get up and leave the room.
She glanced at her mother and came near to speaking.

And very soon she would have to come home and live in the midst of this
again--indefinitely!

After breakfast she went to the tumbledown summer-house by the duckpond,
and contemplated the bills she had not dared to open at table. One was
boots, nearly three pounds, the other books, over seven. "I _know_
that's wrong," said Marjorie, and rested her chin on her hand, knitted
her brows and tried to remember the details of orders and deliveries....

Marjorie had fallen into the net prepared for our sons and daughters by
the delicate modesty of the Oxbridge authorities in money matters, and
she was, for her circumstances, rather heavily in debt. But I must admit
that in Marjorie's nature the Oxbridge conditions had found an eager and
adventurous streak that rendered her particularly apt to these
temptations.

I doubt if reticence is really a virtue in a teacher. But this is a
fearful world, and the majority of those who instruct our youth have the
painful sensitiveness of the cloistered soul to this spirit of terror in
things. The young need particularly to be told truthfully and fully all
we know of three fundamental things: the first of which is God, the
next their duty towards their neighbours in the matter of work and
money, and the third Sex. These things, and the adequate why of them,
and some sort of adequate how, make all that matters in education. But
all three are obscure and deeply moving topics, topics for which the
donnish mind has a kind of special ineptitude, and which it evades with
the utmost skill and delicacy. The middle part of this evaded triad was
now being taken up in Marjorie's case by the Oxbridge tradespeople.

The Oxbridge shopkeeper is peculiar among shopkeepers in the fact that
he has to do very largely with shy and immature customers with an
extreme and distinctive ignorance of most commercial things. They are
for the most part short of cash, but with vague and often large
probabilities of credit behind them, for most people, even quite
straitened people, will pull their sons and daughters out of altogether
unreasonable debts at the end of their university career; and so the
Oxbridge shopkeeper becomes a sort of propagandist of the charms and
advantages of insolvency. Alone among retailers he dislikes the sight of
cash, declines it, affects to regard it as a coarse ignorant truncation
of a budding relationship, begs to be permitted to wait. So the
youngster just up from home discovers that money may stay in the pocket,
be used for cab and train fares and light refreshments; all the rest may
be had for the asking. Marjorie, with her innate hunger for good fine
things, with her quite insufficient pocket-money, and the irregular
habits of expenditure a spasmodically financed, hard-up home is apt to
engender, fell very readily into this new, delightful custom of having
it put down (whatever it happened to be). She had all sorts of things
put down. She and the elder Carmel girl used to go shopping together,
having things put down. She brightened her rooms with colour-prints and
engravings, got herself pretty and becoming clothes, acquired a fitted
dressing-bag already noted in this story, and one or two other trifles
of the sort, revised her foot-wear, created a very nice little
bookshelf, and although at times she felt a little astonished and scared
at herself, resolutely refused to estimate the total of accumulated debt
she had attained. Indeed until the bills came in it was impossible to do
that, because, following the splendid example of the Carmel girl, she
hadn't even inquired the price of quite a number of things....

She didn't dare think now of the total. She lied even to herself about
that. She had fixed on fifty pounds as the unendurable maximum. "It is
less than fifty pounds," she said, and added: "_must_ be." But something
in her below the threshold of consciousness knew that it was more.

And now she was in her third year, and the Oxbridge tradesman, generally
satisfied with the dimensions of her account, and no longer anxious to
see it grow, was displaying the less obsequious side of his character.
He wrote remarks at the bottom of his account, remarks about settlement,
about having a bill to meet, about having something to go on with. He
asked her to give the matter her "early attention." She had a
disagreeable persuasion that if she wanted many more things anywhere she
would have to pay ready money for them. She was particularly short of
stockings. She had overlooked stockings recently.

Daffy, unfortunately, was also short of stockings.

And now, back with her family again, everything conspired to remind
Marjorie of the old stringent habits from which she had had so
delightful an interlude. She saw Daffy eye her possessions, reflect.
This morning something of the awfulness of her position came to her....

At Oxbridge she had made rather a joke of her debts.

"I'd _swear_ I haven't had three pairs of house shoes," said Marjorie.
"But what can one do?"

And about the whole position the question was, "what can one do?"

She proceeded with tense nervous movements to tear these two distasteful
demands into very minute pieces. Then she collected them all together in
the hollow of her hand, and buried them in the loose mould in a corner
of the summer-house.

"Madge," said Theodore, appearing in the sunshine of the doorway. "Aunt
Plessington's coming! She's sent a wire. Someone's got to meet her by
the twelve-forty train."


§ 7

Aunt Plessington's descent was due to her sudden discovery that
Buryhamstreet was in close proximity to Summerhay Park, indeed only
three miles away. She had promised a lecture on her movement for Lady
Petchworth's village room in Summerhay, and she found that with a slight
readjustment of dates she could combine this engagement with her
promised visit to her husband's sister, and an evening or so of
influence for her little Madge. So she had sent Hubert to telegraph at
once, and "here," she said triumphantly on the platform, after a hard
kiss at Marjorie's cheek, "we are again."

There, at any rate, she was, and Uncle Hubert was up the platform seeing
after the luggage, in his small anxious way.

Aunt Plessington was a tall lean woman, with firm features, a high
colour and a bright eye, who wore hats to show she despised them, and
carefully dishevelled hair. Her dress was always good, but extremely old
and grubby, and she commanded respect chiefly by her voice. Her voice
was the true governing-class voice, a strangulated contralto, abundant
and authoritative; it made everything she said clear and important, so
that if she said it was a fine morning it was like leaded print in the
_Times_, and she had over her large front teeth lips that closed quietly
and with a slight effort after her speeches, as if the words she spoke
tasted well and left a peaceful, secure sensation in the mouth.

Uncle Hubert was a less distinguished figure, and just a little
reminiscent of the small attached husbands one finds among the lower
crustacea: he was much shorter and rounder than his wife, and if he had
been left to himself, he would probably have been comfortably fat in his
quiet little way. But Aunt Plessington had made him a Haigite, which is
one of the fiercer kinds of hygienist, just in the nick of time. He had
round shoulders, a large nose, and glasses that made him look
astonished--and she said he had a great gift for practical things, and
made him see after everything in that line while she did the lecturing.
His directions to the porter finished, he came up to his niece. "Hello,
Marjorie!" he said, in a peculiar voice that sounded as though his mouth
was full (though of course, poor dear, it wasn't), "how's the First
Class?"

"A second's good enough for me, Uncle Hubert," said Marjorie, and asked
if they would rather walk or go in the donkey cart, which was waiting
outside with Daffy. Aunt Plessington, with an air of great _bonhomie_
said she'd ride in the donkey cart, and they did. But no pseudo-twins or
Theodore came to meet this arrival, as both uncle and aunt had a way of
asking how the lessons were getting on that they found extremely
disagreeable. Also, their aunt measured them, and incited them with loud
encouraging noises to grow one against the other in an urgent,
disturbing fashion.

Aunt Plessington's being was consumed by thoughts of getting on. She was
like Bernard Shaw's life force, and she really did not seem to think
there was anything in existence but shoving. She had no idea what a lark
life can be, and occasionally how beautiful it can be when you do not
shove, if only, which becomes increasingly hard each year, you can get
away from the shovers. She was one of an energetic family of eight
sisters who had maintained themselves against a mutual pressure by the
use of their elbows from the cradle. They had all married against each
other, all sorts of people; two had driven their husbands into
bishoprics and made quite typical bishop's wives, one got a leading
barrister, one a high war-office official, and one a rich Jew, and Aunt
Plessington, after spending some years in just missing a rich and only
slightly demented baronet, had pounced--it's the only word for it--on
Uncle Hubert. "A woman is nothing without a husband," she said, and took
him. He was a fairly comfortable Oxford don in his furtive way, and
bringing him out and using him as a basis, she specialized in
intellectual philanthropy and evolved her Movement. It was quite
remarkable how rapidly she overhauled her sisters again.

What the Movement was, varied considerably from time to time, but it was
always aggressively beneficial towards the lower strata of the
community. Among its central ideas was her belief that these lower
strata can no more be trusted to eat than they can to drink, and that
the licensing monopoly which has made the poor man's beer thick,
lukewarm and discreditable, and so greatly minimized its consumption,
should be extended to the solid side of his dietary. She wanted to place
considerable restrictions upon the sale of all sorts of meat, upon
groceries and the less hygienic and more palatable forms of bread (which
do not sufficiently stimulate the coatings of the stomach), to increase
the present difficulties in the way of tobacco purchasers, and to put an
end to that wanton and deleterious consumption of sweets which has so
bad an effect upon the enamel of the teeth of the younger generation.
Closely interwoven with these proposals was an adoption of the principle
of the East Purblow Experiment, the principle of Payment in Kind. She
was quite in agreement with Mr. Pope that poor people, when they had
money, frittered it away, and so she proposed very extensive changes in
the Truck Act, which could enable employers, under suitable safeguards,
and with the advice of a small body of spinster inspectors, to supply
hygienic housing, approved clothing of moral and wholesome sort, various
forms of insurance, edifying rations, cuisine, medical aid and
educational facilities as circumstances seemed to justify, in lieu of
the wages the employees handled so ill....

As no people in England will ever admit they belong to the lower strata
of society, Aunt Plessington's Movement attracted adherents from every
class in the community.

She now, as they drove slowly to the vicarage, recounted to
Marjorie--she had the utmost contempt for Daffy because of her irregular
teeth and a general lack of progressive activity--the steady growth of
the Movement, and the increasing respect shown for her and Hubert in the
world of politico-social reform. Some of the meetings she had addressed
had been quite full, various people had made various remarks about her,
hostile for the most part and yet insidiously flattering, and everybody
seemed quite glad to come to the little dinners she gave in order, she
said, to gather social support for her reforms. She had been staying
with the Mastersteins, who were keenly interested, and after she had
polished off Lady Petchworth she was to visit Lady Rosenbaum. It was all
going on swimmingly, these newer English gentry were eager to learn all
she had to teach in the art of breaking in the Anglo-Saxon villagers,
and now, how was Marjorie going on, and what was _she_ going to do in
the world?

Marjorie said she was working for her final.

"And what then?" asked Aunt Plessington.

"Not very clear, Aunt, yet."

"Looking around for something to take up?"

"Yes, Aunt."

"Well, you've time yet. And it's just as well to see how the land lies
before you begin. It saves going back. You'll have to come up to London
with me for a little while, and see things, and be seen a little."

"I should love to."

"I'll give you a good time," said Aunt Plessington, nodding promisingly.
"Theodore getting on in school?"

"He's had his remove."

"And how's Sydney getting on with the music?"

"Excellently."

"And Rom. Rom getting on?"

Marjorie indicated a more restrained success.

"And what's Daffy doing?"

"Oh! _get_ on!" said Daffy and suddenly whacked the donkey rather hard.
"I beg your pardon, Aunt?"

"I asked what _you_ were up to, Daffy?"

"Dusting, Aunt--and the virtues," said Daffy.

"You ought to find something better than that."

"Father tells me a lot about the East Purblow Experiment," said Daffy
after a perceptible interval.

"Ah!" cried Aunt Plessington with a loud encouraging note, but evidently
making the best of it, "_that's_ better. Sociological observation."

"Yes, Aunt," said Daffy, and negotiated a corner with exceptional care.


§ 8

Mrs. Pope, who had an instinctive disposition to pad when Aunt
Plessington was about, had secured the presence at lunch of Mr. Magnet
(who was after all staying on in Buryhamstreet) and the Rev. Jopling
Baynes. Aunt Plessington liked to meet the clergy, and would always if
she could win them over to an interest in the Movement. She opened the
meal with a brisk attack upon him. "Come, Mr. Baynes," she said, "what
do your people eat here? Hubert and I are making a study of the
gluttonous side of village life, and we find that no one knows so much
of that as the vicar--not even the doctor."

The Reverend Jopling Baynes was a clergyman of the evasive type with a
quite distinguished voice. He pursed his lips and made his eyes round.
"Well, Mrs. Plessington," he said and fingered his glass, "it's the
usual dietary. The usual dietary."

"Too much and too rich, badly cooked and eaten too fast," said Aunt
Plessington. "And what do you think is the remedy?"

"We make an Effort," said the Rev. Jopling Baynes, "we make an Effort. A
Hint here, a Word there."

"Nothing organized?"

"No," said the Rev. Jopling Baynes, and shook his head with a kind of
resignation.

"We are going to alter all that," said Aunt Plessington briskly, and
went on to expound the Movement and the diverse way in which it might be
possible to control and improve the domestic expenditure of the working
classes.

The Rev. Jopling Baynes listened sympathetically across the table and
tried to satisfy a healthy appetite with as abstemious an air as
possible while he did so. Aunt Plessington passed rapidly from general
principles, to a sketch of the success of the movement, and Hubert, who
had hitherto been busy with his lunch, became audible from behind the
exceptionally large floral trophy that concealed him from his wife,
bubbling confirmatory details. She was very bright and convincing as she
told of this prominent man met and subdued, that leading antagonist
confuted, and how the Bishops were coming in. She made it clear in her
swift way that an intelligent cleric resolved to get on in this world
_en route_ for a better one hereafter, might do worse than take up her
Movement. And this touched in, she turned her mind to Mr. Magnet.

(That floral trophy, I should explain, by the by, was exceptionally
large because of Mrs. Pope's firm conviction that Aunt Plessington
starved her husband. Accordingly, she masked him, and so was able to
heap second and third helpings upon his plate without Aunt Plessington
discovering his lapse. The avidity with which Hubert ate confirmed her
worst suspicions and evinced, so far as anything ever did evince, his
gratitude.)

"Well, Mr. Magnet," she said, "I wish I had your sense of humour."

"I wish you had," said Mr. Magnet.

"I should write tracts," said Aunt Plessington.

"I knew it was good for something," said Mr. Magnet, and Daffy laughed
in a tentative way.

"I mean it," said Aunt Plessington brightly. "Think if we had a
Dickens--and you are the nearest man alive to Dickens--on the side of
social reform to-day!"

Mr. Magnet's light manner deserted him. "We do what we can, Mrs.
Plessington," he said.

"How much more might be done," said Aunt Plessington, "if humour could
be organized."

"Hear, hear!" said Mr. Pope.

"If all the humorists of England could be induced to laugh at something
together."

"They do--at times," said Mr. Magnet, but the atmosphere was too serious
for his light touch.

"They could laugh it out of existence," said Aunt Plessington.

It was evident Mr. Magnet was struck by the idea.

"Of course," he said, "in _Punch_, to which I happen to be an obscure
occasional contributor----"

Mrs. Pope was understood to protest that he should not say such things.

"We _do_ remember just what we can do either in the way of advertising
or injury. I don't think you'll find us up against any really _solid_
institutions."

"But do you think, Mr. Magnet, you are sufficiently kind to the New?"
Aunt Plessington persisted.

"I think we are all grateful to _Punch_," said the Rev. Jopling Baynes
suddenly and sonorously, "for its steady determination to direct our
mirth into the proper channels. I do not think that any one can accuse
its editor of being unmindful of his great responsibilities----"

Marjorie found it a very interesting conversation.

She always met her aunt again with a renewal of a kind of admiration.
That loud authoritative rudeness, that bold thrusting forward of the
Movement until it became the sole criterion of worth or success, this
annihilation by disregard of all that Aunt Plessington wasn't and didn't
and couldn't, always in the intervals seemed too good to be true. Of
course this really was the way people got on and made a mark, but she
felt it must be almost as trying to the nerves as aeronautics. Suppose,
somewhere up there your engine stopped! How Aunt Plessington dominated
the table! Marjorie tried not to catch Daffy's eye. Daffy was
unostentatiously keeping things going, watching the mustard, rescuing
the butter, restraining Theodore, and I am afraid not listening very
carefully to Aunt Plessington. The children were marvellously silent and
jumpily well-behaved, and Mr. Pope, in a very unusual state of subdued
amiability, sat at the end of the table with the East Purblow experiment
on the tip of his tongue. He liked Aunt Plessington, and she was good
for him. They had the same inherent distrust of the intelligence and
good intentions of their fellow creatures, and she had the knack of
making him feel that he too was getting on, that she was saying things
on his behalf in influential quarters, and in spite of the almost
universal conspiracy (based on jealousy) to ignore his stern old-world
virtues, he might still be able to battle his way to the floor of the
House of Commons and there deliver himself before he died of a few
sorely needed home-truths about motor cars, decadence and frivolity
generally....


§ 9

After lunch Aunt Plessington took her little Madge for an energetic
walk, and showed herself far more observant than the egotism of her
conversation at that meal might have led one to suppose. Or perhaps she
was only better informed. Aunt Plessington loved a good hard walk in the
afternoon; and if she could get any one else to accompany her, then
Hubert stayed at home, and curled up into a ball on a sofa somewhere,
and took a little siesta that made him all the brighter for the
intellectual activities of the evening. The thought of a young life,
new, untarnished, just at the outset, just addressing itself to the task
of getting on, always stimulated her mind extremely, and she talked to
Marjorie with a very real and effectual desire to help her to the utmost
of her ability.

She talked of a start in life, and the sort of start she had had. She
showed how many people who began with great advantages did not shove
sufficiently, and so dropped out of things and weren't seen and
mentioned. She defended herself for marrying Hubert, and showed what a
clever shoving thing it had been to do. It startled people a little, and
made them realize that here was a woman who wanted something more in a
man than a handsome organ-grinder. She made it clear that she thought a
clever marriage, if not a startlingly brilliant one, the first duty of a
girl. It was a girl's normal gambit. She branched off to the things
single women might do, in order to justify this view. She did not think
single women could do very much. They might perhaps shove as
suffragettes, but even there a husband helped tremendously--if only by
refusing to bail you out. She ran over the cases of a number of
prominent single women.

"And what," said Aunt Plessington, "do they all amount to? A girl is so
hampered and an old maid is so neglected," said Aunt Plessington.

She paused.

"Why don't you up and marry Mr. Magnet, Marjorie?" she said, with her
most brilliant flash.

"It takes two to make a marriage, aunt," said Marjorie after a slight
hesitation.

"My dear child! he worships the ground you tread on!" said Aunt
Plessington.

"He's rather--grown up," said Marjorie.

"Not a bit of it. He's not forty. He's just the age."

"I'm afraid it's a little impossible."

"Impossible?"

"You see I've refused him, aunt."

"Naturally--the first time! But I wouldn't send him packing the second."

There was an interval.

Marjorie decided on a blunt question. "Do you really think, aunt, I
should do well to marry Mr. Magnet?"

"He'd give you everything a clever woman needs," said Aunt Plessington.
"Everything."

With swift capable touches she indicated the sort of life the future
Mrs. Magnet might enjoy. "He's evidently a man who wants helping to a
position," she said. "Of course his farces and things, I'm told, make no
end of money, but he's just a crude gift by himself. Money like that is
nothing. With a clever wife he might be all sorts of things. Without one
he'll just subside--you know the sort of thing this sort of man does. A
rather eccentric humorous house in the country, golf, croquet,
horse-riding, rose-growing, queer hats."

"Isn't that rather what he would like to do, aunt?" said Marjorie.

"That's not _our_ business, Madge," said Aunt Plessington with humorous
emphasis.

She began to sketch out a different and altogether smarter future for
the fortunate humorist. There would be a house in a good central
position in London where Marjorie would have bright successful lunches
and dinners, very unpretending and very good, and tempt the clever smart
with the lure of the interestingly clever; there would be a bright
little country cottage in some pretty accessible place to which Aunt and
Uncle Plessington and able and influential people generally could be
invited for gaily recreative and yet extremely talkative and helpful
week-ends. Both places could be made centres of intrigue; conspiracies
for getting on and helping and exchanging help could be organized,
people could be warned against people whose getting-on was undesirable.
In the midst of it all, dressed with all the natural wit she had and an
enlarging experience, would be Marjorie, shining like a rising planet.
It wouldn't be long, if she did things well, before she had permanent
officials and young cabinet ministers mingling with her salad of writers
and humorists and the Plessington connexion.

"Then," said Aunt Plessington with a joyous lift in her voice, "you'll
begin to _weed_ a little."

For a time the girl's mind resisted her.

But Marjorie was of the impressionable sex at an impressionable age, and
there was something overwhelming in the undeviating conviction of her
aunt, in the clear assurance of her voice, that this life which
interested her was the real life, the only possible successful life. The
world reformed itself in Marjorie's fluent mind, until it was all a
scheme of influence and effort and ambition and triumphs. Dinner-parties
and receptions, men wearing orders, cabinet ministers more than a little
in love asking her advice, beautiful robes, a great blaze of lights;
why! she might be, said Aunt Plessington rising to enthusiasm, "another
Marcella." The life was not without its adventurous side; it wasn't in
any way dull. Aunt Plessington to illustrate that point told amusing
anecdotes of how two almost impudent invitations on her part had
succeeded, and how she had once scored off her elder sister by getting a
coveted celebrity through their close family resemblance. "After
accepting he couldn't very well refuse because I wasn't somebody else,"
she ended gleefully. "So he came--and stayed as long as anybody."

What else was there for Marjorie to contemplate? If she didn't take this
by no means unattractive line, what was the alternative? Some sort of
employment after a battle with her father, a parsimonious life, and even
then the Oxbridge tradesmen and their immortal bills....

Aunt Plessington was so intent upon her theme that she heeded nothing of
the delightful little flowers she trampled under foot across the down,
nor the jolly squirrel with an artistic temperament who saw fit to give
an uninvited opinion upon her personal appearance from the security of a
beech-tree in the wood. But Marjorie, noting quite a number of such
things with the corner of her mind, and being now well under the
Plessington sway, wished she had more concentration....

In the evening after supper the customary games were suspended, and Mr.
and Mrs. Plessington talked about getting on, and work and efficiency
generally, and explained how so-and-so had spoilt his chances in life,
and why so-and-so was sure to achieve nothing, and how this man ate too
much and that man drank too much, and on the contrary what promising and
capable people the latest adherents of and subscribers to the Movement
were, until two glasses of hot water came--Aunt Plessington had been
told it was good for her digestion and she thought it just as well that
Hubert should have some too--and it was time for every one to go to bed.


§ 10

Next morning an atmosphere of getting on and strenuosity generally
prevailed throughout the vicarage. The Plessingtons were preparing a
memorandum on their movement for the "Reformer's Year Book," every word
was of importance and might win or lose adherents and subscribers, and
they secured the undisturbed possession of the drawing-room, from which
the higher notes of Aunt Plessington's voice explaining the whole thing
to Hubert, who had to write it out, reached, a spur to effort, into
every part of the house.

Their influence touched every one.

Marjorie, struck by the idea that she was not perhaps getting on at
Oxbridge so fast as she ought to do, went into the summer-house with
Marshall's "Principles of Economics," read for two hours, and did not
think about her bills for more than a quarter of the time. Rom, who had
already got up early and read through about a third of "Aurora Leigh,"
now set herself with dogged determination to finish that great poem. Syd
practised an extra ten minutes--for Aunt Plessington didn't mind
practice so long as there wasn't a tune. Mrs. Pope went into the kitchen
and made a long-needed fuss about the waste of rice. Mr. Pope began the
pamphlet he had had in contemplation for some time upon the advantages
to public order of Payment in Kind. Theodore, who had washed behind his
ears and laced his boots in all the holes, went into the yard before
breakfast and hit a tennis ball against the wall and back, five hundred
and twenty-two times--a record. He would have resumed this after
breakfast, but his father came round the corner of the house with a pen
in his mouth, and asked him indistinctly, but fiercely, what the _devil_
he was doing. So he went away, and after a fretful interval set himself
to revise his Latin irregular verbs. By twelve he had done wonders.

Later in the day the widening circle of aggressive urgency reached the
kitchen, and at two the cook gave notice in order, she said, to better
herself.

Lunch, unconscious of this impending shadow, was characterized by a
virtuous cheerfulness, and Aunt Plessington told in detail how her seven
and twenty nephews and nieces, the children of her various sisters, were
all getting on. On the whole, they were not getting on so brilliantly as
they might have done (which indeed is apt to be the case with the
children of people who have loved not well but too wisely), and it was
borne in upon the mind of the respectfully listening Marjorie that, to
borrow an easy colloquialism of her aunt's, she might "take the shine
out of the lot of them" with a very little zeal and effort--and of
course Mr. Magnet.

The lecture in the evening at Summerhay was a great success.

The chair was taken by the Rev. Jopling Baynes, Lady Petchworth was
enthroned behind the table, Hubert was in charge of his wife's notes--if
notes should be needed--and Mr. Pope, expectant of an invitation at the
end to say a few words about the East Purblow experiment, also occupied
a chair on the platform. Lady Petchworth, with her abundant soft blond
hair, brightly blond still in spite of her fifty-five years, her
delicate features, her plump hands, her numerous chins and her entirely
inaudible voice, made a pleasing contrast with Aunt Plessington's
resolute personality. She had perhaps an even greater assurance of
authority, but it was a quiet assurance; you felt that she knew that if
she spoke in her sleep she would be obeyed, that it was quite
unnecessary to make herself heard. The two women, indeed, the one so
assertive, the other so established, were at the opposite poles of
authoritative British womanhood, and harmonized charmingly. The little
room struck the note of a well-regulated brightness at every point, it
had been decorated in a Keltic but entirely respectful style by one of
Lady Petchworth's artistic discoveries, it was lit by paraffin lamps
that smelt hardly at all, and it was gay with colour prints illustrating
the growth of the British Empire from the battle of Ethandune to the
surrender of Cronje. The hall was fairly full. Few could afford to
absent themselves from these brightening occasions, but there was a
tendency on the part of the younger and the less thoughtful section of
the village manhood to accumulate at the extreme back and rumble in what
appeared to be a slightly ironical spirit, so far as it had any spirit,
with its feet.

The Rev. Jopling Baynes opened proceedings with a few well-chosen
remarks, in which he complimented every one present either singly or
collectively according to their rank and importance, and then Aunt
Plessington came forward to the centre of the platform amidst a hectic
flush of applause, and said "Haw!" in a loud clear ringing tone.

She spoke without resorting to the notes in Hubert's little fist, very
freely and easily. Her strangulated contralto went into every corner of
the room and positively seemed to look for and challenge inattentive
auditors. She had come over, she said, and she had been very glad to
come over and talk to them that night, because it meant not only seeing
them but meeting her very dear delightful friend Lady Petchworth (loud
applause) and staying for a day or so with her brother-in-law Mr. Pope
(unsupported outburst of applause from Mr. Magnet), to whom she and
social reform generally owed so much. She had come to talk to them that
night about the National Good Habits Movement, which was attracting so
much attention and which bore so closely on our National Life and
Character; she happened to be--here Aunt Plessington smiled as she
spoke--a humble person connected with that movement, just a mere woman
connected with it; she was going to explain to them as well as she could
in her womanly way and in the time at her disposal just what it was and
just what it was for, and just what means it adopted and just what ends
it had in view. Well, they all knew what Habits were, and that there
were Good Habits and Bad Habits, and she supposed that the difference
between a good man and a bad man was just that the good man had good
habits and the bad one had bad habits. Everybody she supposed wanted to
get on. If a man had good habits he got on, and if he had bad habits he
didn't get on, and she supposed it was the same with a country, if its
people had good habits they got on, and if its people had bad habits
they didn't get on. For her own part she and her husband (Hubert gave a
little self-conscious jump) had always cultivated good habits, and she
had to thank him with all her heart for his help in doing so. (Applause
from the front seats.) Now, the whole idea of her movement was to ask,
how can we raise the standard of the national habits? how can we get rid
of bad habits and cultivate good ones?... (Here there was a slight
interruption due to some one being suddenly pushed off the end of a form
at the back, and coming to the floor with audible violence, after which
a choked and obstructed tittering continued intermittently for some
time.)

Some of her audience, she remarked, had not yet acquired the habit of
sitting still.

(Laughter, and a coarse vulgar voice: "Good old Billy Punt!")

Well, to resume, she and her husband had made a special and careful
study of habits; they had consulted all sorts of people and collected
all sorts of statistics, in fact they had devoted themselves to this
question, and the conclusion to which they came was this, that Good
Habits were acquired by Training and Bad Habits came from neglect and
carelessness and leaving people, who weren't fit for such freedom, to
run about and do just whatever they liked. And so, she went on with a
note of complete demonstration, the problem resolved itself into the
question of how far they could get more Training into the national life,
and how they could check extravagant and unruly and wasteful and unwise
ways of living. (Hear, hear! from Mr. Pope.) And this was the problem
she and her husband had set themselves to solve.

(Scuffle, and a boy's voice at the back, saying: "Oh, _shut_ it, Nuts!
SHUT it!")

Well, she and her husband had worked the thing out, and they had come to
the conclusion that what was the matter with the great mass of English
people was first that they had rather too much loose money, and secondly
that they had rather too much loose time. (A voice: "What O!" and the
Rev. Jopling Baynes suddenly extended his neck, knitted his brows, and
became observant of the interrupter.) She did not say they had too much
money (a second voice: "Not Arf!"), but too much _loose_ money. She did
not say they had too much time but too much loose time, that is to say,
they had money and time they did not know how to spend properly. And so
they got into mischief. A great number of people in this country, she
maintained, and this was especially true of the lower classes, did not
know how to spend either money or time; they bought themselves wasteful
things and injurious things, and they frittered away their hours in all
sorts of foolish, unprofitable ways. And, after the most careful and
scientific study of this problem, she and her husband had come to the
conclusion that two main principles must underlie any remedial measures
that were attempted, the first of which was the Principle of Payment in
Kind, which had already had so interesting a trial at the great carriage
works of East Purblow, and the second, the Principle of Continuous
Occupation, which had been recognized long ago in popular wisdom by that
admirable proverb--or rather quotation--she believed it was a quotation,
though she gave, she feared, very little time to poetry ("Better
employed," from Mr. Pope)--

    "Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do."

(Irrepressible outbreak of wild and sustained applause from the back
seats, and in a sudden lull a female voice asking in a flattened,
thwarted tone: "Ain't there to be no lantern then?")

The lecturer went on to explain what was meant by either member of what
perhaps they would permit her to call this double-barrelled social
remedy.

It was an admirable piece of lucid exposition. Slowly the picture of a
better, happier, more disciplined England grew upon the minds of the
meeting. First she showed the new sort of employer her movement would
evoke, an employer paternal, philanthropic, vaguely responsible for the
social order of all his dependants. (Lady Petchworth was seen to nod her
head slowly at this.) Only in the last resort, and when he was satisfied
that his worker and his worker's family were properly housed,
hygienically clothed and fed, attending suitable courses of instruction
and free from any vicious inclinations, would he pay wages in cash. In
the discharge of the duties of payment he would have the assistance of
expert advice, and the stimulus of voluntary inspectors of his own
class. He would be the natural clan-master, the captain and leader,
adviser and caretaker of his banded employees. Responsibility would
stimulate him, and if responsibility did not stimulate him, inspectors
(both men and women inspectors) would. The worker, on the other hand,
would be enormously more healthy and efficient under the new régime. His
home, designed by qualified and officially recognized architects, would
be prettier as well as more convenient and elevating to his taste, his
children admirably trained and dressed in the new and more beautiful
clothing with which Lady Petchworth (applause) had done so much to make
them familiar, his vital statistics compared with current results would
be astonishingly good, his mind free from any anxiety but the proper
anxiety of a man in his position, to get his work done properly and earn
recognition from those competent and duly authorized to judge it. Of all
this she spoke with the inspiring note of absolute conviction. All this
would follow Payment in Kind and Continuous Occupation as days follow
sunrise. And there would always,--and here Aunt Plessington's voice
seemed to brighten--be something for the worker to get on with,
something for him to do; lectures, classes, reading-rooms, improving
entertainments. His time would be filled. The proper authorities would
see that it was filled--and filled in the right way. Never for a moment
need he be bored. He would never have an excuse for being bored. That
was the second great idea, the complementary idea to the first. "And
here it is," she said, turning a large encouraging smile on Lady
Petchworth, "that the work of a National Theatre, instructive,
stimulating, well regulated, and morally sustaining, would come in." He
wouldn't, of course, be _compelled_ to go, but there would be his seat,
part of his payment in kind, and the public-house would be shut, most
other temptations would be removed....

The lecture reached its end at last with only one other interruption.
Some would-be humorist suddenly inquired, _à propos_ of nothing: "What's
the fare to America, Billy?" and a voice, presumably Billy's, answered
him: "Mor'n _you'll_ ev 'av in _you'_ pocket."

The Rev. Jopling Baynes, before he called upon Mr. Pope for his promised
utterance about East Purblow, could not refrain from pointing out how
silly "in every sense of the word" these wanton interruptions were.
What, he asked, had English social reform to do with the fare to
America?--and having roused the meeting to an alert silence by the
length of his pause, answered in a voice of ringing contempt:
"Nothing--_whatsoever_." Then Mr. Pope made his few remarks about East
Purblow with the ease and finish that comes from long practice; much, he
said, had to be omitted "in view of" the restricted time at his
disposal, but he did not grudge that, the time had been better filled.
("No, no," from Aunt Plessington.) Yes, yes,--by the lucid and
delightful lecture they had all enjoyed, and he not least among them.
(Applause.)...


§ 11

They came out into a luminous blue night, with a crescent young moon
high overhead. It was so fine that the Popes and the Plessingtons and
Mr. Magnet declined Lady Petchworth's proffered car, and walked back to
Buryhamstreet across the park through a sleeping pallid cornfield, and
along by the edge of the pine woods. Mr. Pope would have liked to walk
with Mr. Magnet and explain all that the pressure on his time had caused
him to omit from his speech, and why it was he had seen fit to omit this
part and include that. Some occult power, however, baffled this
intention, and he found himself going home in the company of his
brother-in-law and Daffy, with Aunt Plessington and his wife like a
barrier between him and his desire. Marjorie, on the other hand, found
Mr. Magnet's proximity inevitable. They fell a little behind and were
together again for the first time since her refusal.

He behaved, she thought, with very great restraint, and indeed he left
her a little doubtful on that occasion whether he had not decided to
take her decision as final. He talked chiefly about the lecture, which
had impressed him very deeply. Mrs. Plessington, he said, was so
splendid--made him feel trivial. He felt stirred up by her, wanted to
help in this social work, this picking up of helpless people from the
muddle in which they wallowed.

He seemed not only extraordinarily modest but extraordinarily gentle
that night, and the warm moonshine gave his face a shadowed earnestness
it lacked in more emphatic lights. She felt the profound change in her
feelings towards him that had followed her rejection of him. It had
cleared away his effect of oppression upon her. She had no longer any
sense of entanglement and pursuit, and all the virtues his courtship had
obscured shone clear again. He was kindly, he was patient--and she felt
something about him a woman is said always to respect, he gave her an
impression of ability. After all, he could banish the trouble that
crushed and overwhelmed her with a movement of his little finger. Of all
her load of debt he could earn the payment in a day.

"Your aunt goes to-morrow?" he said.

Marjorie admitted it.

"I wish I could talk to her more. She's so inspiring."

"You know of our little excursion for Friday?" he asked after a pause.

She had not heard. Friday was Theodore's birthday; she knew it only too
well because she had had to part with her stamp collection--which very
luckily had chanced to get packed and come to Buryhamstreet--to meet its
demand. Mr. Magnet explained he had thought it might be fun to give a
picnic in honour of the anniversary.

"How jolly of you!" said Marjorie.

"There's a pretty bit of river between Wamping and Friston Hanger--I've
wanted you to see it for a long time, and Friston Hanger church has the
prettiest view. The tower gets the bend of the river."

He told her all he meant to do as if he submitted his plans for her
approval. They would drive to Wamping and get a very comfortable little
steam launch one could hire there. Wintersloan was coming down again; an
idle day of this kind just suited his temperament. Theodore would like
it, wouldn't he?

"Theodore will think he is King of Surrey!"

"I'll have a rod and line if he wants to fish. I don't want to forget
anything. I want it to be _his_ day really and truly."

The slightest touch upon the pathetic note? She could not tell.

But that evening brought Marjorie nearer to loving Magnet than she had
ever been. Before she went to sleep that night she had decided he was
quite a tolerable person again; she had been too nervous and unjust with
him. After all, his urgency and awkwardness had been just a part of his
sincerity. Perhaps the faint doubt whether he would make his request
again gave the zest of uncertainty to his devotion. Of course, she told
herself, he would ask again. And then the blissful air of limitless
means she might breathe. The blessed release....

She was suddenly fast asleep.


§ 12

Friday was after all not so much Theodore's day as Mr. Magnet's.

Until she found herself committed there was no shadow of doubt in
Marjorie's mind of what she meant to do. "Before I see you again," said
Aunt Plessington at the parting kiss, "I hope you'll have something to
tell me." She might have been Hymen thinly disguised as an aunt, waving
from the departing train. She continued by vigorous gestures and
unstinted display of teeth and a fluttering handkerchief to encourage
Marjorie to marry Mr. Magnet, until the curve of the cutting hid her
from view....

Fortune favoured Mr. Magnet with a beautiful day, and the excursion was
bright and successful from the outset. It was done well, and what
perhaps was more calculated to impress Marjorie, it was done with lavish
generosity. From the outset she turned a smiling countenance upon her
host. She did her utmost to suppress a reviving irrational qualm in her
being, to maintain clearly and simply her overnight decision, that he
should propose again and that she should accept him.

Yet the festival was just a little dreamlike in its quality to her
perceptions. She found she could not focus clearly on its details.

Two waggonettes came from Wamping; there was room for everybody and to
spare, and Wamping revealed itself a pleasant small country town with
stocks under the market hall, and just that tint of green paint and that
loafing touch the presence of a boating river gives.

The launch was brilliantly smart with abundant crimson cushions and a
tasselled awning, and away to the left was a fine old bridge that dated
in its essentials from Plantagenet times.

They started with much whistling and circling, and went away up river
under overhanging trees that sometimes swished the funnel, splashing the
meadow path and making the reeds and bulrushes dance with their wash.
They went through a reluctant lock, steamed up a long reach, they passed
the queerly painted Potwell Inn with its picturesque group of poplars
and its absurd new notice-board of "Omlets." ... Theodore was five stone
of active happiness; he and the pseudo-twins, strictly under his orders
as the universal etiquette of birthdays prescribes, clambered round and
round the boat, clutching the awning rail and hanging over the water in
an entirely secure and perilous looking manner. No one, unless his
father happened to be upset by something, would check him, he knew, on
this auspicious day. Mr. Magnet sat with the grey eye on Marjorie and
listened a little abstractedly to Mr. Pope, who was telling very fully
what he would say if the Liberal party were to ask his advice at the
present juncture. Mrs. Pope attended discreetly, and Daffy and Marjorie
with a less restrained interest, to Mr. Wintersloan, who showed them how
to make faces out of a fist tied up in a pocket-handkerchief, how to
ventriloquize, how to conjure with halfpence--which he did very
amusingly--and what the buttons on a man's sleeve were for; Theodore
clambering at his back discovered what he was at, and by right of
birthday made him do all the faces and tricks over again. Then Mr.
Wintersloan told stories of all the rivers along which, he said, he had
travelled in steamboats; the Rhine, the Danube, the Hoogly and the Fall
River, and particularly how he had been bitten by a very young
crocodile. "It's the smell of the oil brings it all back to me," he
said. "And the kind of sway it gives you."

He made sinuous movements of his hand, and looked at Marjorie with that
wooden yet expressive smile.

Friston Hanger proved to be even better than Wamping. It had a character
of its own because it was built very largely of a warm buff coloured
local rock instead of the usual brick, and the outhouses at least of the
little inn at which they landed were thatched. Most of the cottages had
casement windows with diamond panes, and the streets were cobbled and
very up-and-down hill. The place ran to high walls richly suggestive of
hidden gardens, overhung by big trees and pierced by secretive important
looking doors. And over it all rose an unusually big church, with a tall
buttressed tower surmounted by a lantern of pierced stone.

"We'll go through the town and look at the ruins of the old castle
beyond the church," said Mr. Magnet to Marjorie, "and then I want you to
see the view from the church tower."

And as they went through the street, he called her attention again to
the church tower in a voice that seemed to her to be inexplicably
charged with significance. "I want you to go up there," he said.

"How about something to eat, Mr. Magnet?" remarked Theodore suddenly,
and everybody felt a little surprised when Mr. Magnet answered: "Who
wants things to eat on your birthday, Theodore?"

But they saw the joke of that when they reached the castle ruins and
found in the old tilting yard, with its ivy-covered arch framing a view
of the town and stream, a table spread with a white cloth that shone in
the sunshine, glittering with glass and silver and gay with a bowl of
salad and flowers and cold pies and a jug of claret-cup and an ice
pail--a silver pail! containing two promising looking bottles, in the
charge of two real live waiters, in evening dress as waiters should be,
but with straw hats to protect them from the sun and weather. "Oh!"
cried Mrs. Pope, "what a _splendid_ idea, Mr. Magnet," when the
destination of the feast was perfectly clear, and even Theodore seemed a
little overawed--almost as if he felt his birthday was being carried too
far and might provoke a judgment later. Manifestly Mr. Magnet must have
ordered this in London, and have had it sent down, waiters and all!
Theodore knew he was a very wonderful little boy in spite of the acute
criticism of four devoted sisters, and Mr. Magnet had noticed him before
at times, but this was, well, rather immense! "Look at the pie-crusts,
old man!" And on the pie-crusts, and on the icing of the cake, their
munificent host had caused to be done in little raised letters of dough
and chocolate the word "Theodore."

"Oh, _Mr._ Magnet!" said Marjorie--his eye so obviously invited her to
say something. Mr. Pope tried a nebulous joke about "groaning boards of
Frisky Hanger," and only Mr. Wintersloan restrained his astonishment and
admiration. "You could have got those chaps in livery," he
said--unheeded. The lunch was as a matter of fact his idea; he had
refused to come unless it was provided, and he had somehow counted on
blue coats, brass buttons, and yellow waistcoats--but everybody else of
course ascribed the whole invention to Mr. Magnet.

"Well," said Mr. Pope with a fine air of epigram, "the only thing I can
say is--to eat it," and prepared to sit down.

"Melon," cried Mr. Magnet to the waiters, "we'll begin with the melon.
Have you ever tried melon with pepper and salt, Mrs. Pope?"

"You put salt in everything," admired Mr. Pope. "Salt from those attics
of yours--Attic salt."

"Or there's ginger!" said Mr. Magnet, after a whisper from the waiter.

Mr. Pope said something classical about "ginger hot in the mouth."

"Some of these days," said Mr. Wintersloan, "when I have exhausted all
other sensations, I mean to try melon and mustard."

Rom made a wonderful face at him.

"I can think of worse things than that," said Mr. Wintersloan with a
hard brightness.

"Not till after lunch, Mr. Wintersloan!" said Rom heartily.

"The claret cup's all right for Theodore, Mrs. Pope," said Magnet. "It's
a special twelve year old brand." (He thought of everything!)

"Mummy," said Mr. Pope. "You'd better carve this pie, I think."

"I want very much," said Mr. Magnet in Marjorie's ear and very
confidentially, "to show you the view from the church tower. I think--it
will appeal to you."

"Rom!" said Theodore, uncontrollably, in a tremendous stage whisper.
"There's peaches!... _There!_ on the hamper!"

"Champagne, m'am?" said the waiter suddenly in Mrs. Pope's ear, wiping
ice-water from the bottle.

(But what could it have cost him?)


§ 13

Marjorie would have preferred that Mr. Magnet should not have decided
with such relentless determination to make his second proposal on the
church tower. His purpose was luminously clear to her from the
beginning of lunch onward, and she could feel her nerves going under the
strain of that long expectation. She tried to pull herself together,
tried not to think about it, tried to be amused by the high spirits and
nonsense of Mr. Wintersloan and Syd and Rom and Theodore; but Mr. Magnet
was very pervasive, and her mother didn't ever look at her, looked past
her and away from her and all round her, in a profoundly observant
manner. Marjorie felt chiefly anxious to get to the top of that
predestinate tower and have the whole thing over, and it was with a
start that she was just able to prevent one of the assiduous waiters
filling her glass with champagne for the third time.

There was a little awkwardness in dispersing after lunch. Mr. Pope, his
heart warmed by the champagne and mellowed by a subsequent excellent
cigar, wanted very much to crack what he called a "postprandial jest" or
so with the great humorist, while Theodore also, deeply impressed with
the discovery that there was more in Mr. Magnet than he had supposed,
displayed a strong disposition to attach himself more closely than he
had hitherto done to this remarkable person, and study his quiet but
enormous possibilities with greater attention. Mrs. Pope with a still
alertness did her best to get people adjusted, but Syd and Rom had
conceived a base and unnatural desire to subjugate the affections of the
youngest waiter, and wouldn't listen to her proposal that they should
take Theodore away into the town; Mr. Wintersloan displayed
extraordinary cunning and resource in evading a _tête-à-tête_ with Mr.
Pope that would have released Mr. Magnet. Now Mrs. Pope came to think of
it, Mr. Wintersloan never had had the delights of a good talk with Mr.
Pope, he knew practically nothing about the East Purblow experiment
except for what Mr. Magnet might have retailed to him, and she was very
greatly puzzled to account for his almost manifest reluctance to go into
things thoroughly. Daffy remained on hand, available but useless, and
Mrs. Pope, smiling at the landscape and a prey to Management within, was
suddenly inspired to take her eldest daughter into her confidence.
"Daffy," she said, with a guileful finger extended and pointing to the
lower sky as though she was pointing out the less obvious and more
atmospheric beauties of Surrey, "get Theodore away from Mr. Magnet if
you can. He wants to talk to Marjorie."

Daffy looked round. "Shall I call him?" she said.

"No," said Mrs. Pope, "do it--just--quietly."

"I'll try," said Daffy and stared at her task, and Mrs. Pope, feeling
that this might or might not succeed but that anyhow she had done what
she could, strolled across to her husband and laid a connubial touch
upon his shoulder. "All the young people," she said, "are burning to
climb the church tower. I never _can_ understand this activity after
lunch."

"Not me," said Mr. Pope. "Eh, Magnet?"

"_I'm_ game," said Theodore. "Come along, Mr. Magnet."

"I think," said Mr. Magnet looking at Marjorie, "I shall go up. I want
to show Marjorie the view."

"We'll stay here, Mummy, eh?" said Mr. Pope, with a quite unusual
geniality, and suddenly put his arm round Mrs. Pope's waist. Her
motherly eye sought Daffy's, and indicated her mission. "I'll come with
you, Theodore," said Daffy. "There isn't room for everyone at once up
that tower."

"I'll go with Mr. Magnet," said Theodore, relying firmly on the
privileges of the day....

For a time they played for position, with the intentions of Mr. Magnet
showing more and more starkly through the moves of the game. At last
Theodore was lured down a side street by the sight of a huge dummy fish
dangling outside a tackle and bait shop, and Mr. Magnet and Marjorie,
already with a dreadful feeling of complicity, made a movement so rapid
it seemed to her almost a bolt for the church tower. Whatever Mr. Magnet
desired to say, and whatever elasticity his mind had once possessed with
regard to it, there can be no doubt that it had now become so rigid as
to be sayable only in that one precise position, and in the exact order
he had determined upon. But when at last they got to that high serenity,
Mr. Magnet was far too hot and far too much out of breath to say
anything at all for a time except an almost explosive gust or so of
approbation of the scenery. "Shor' breath!" he said, "win'ey stairs
always--that 'fect on me--buful sceny--Suwy--like it always."

Marjorie found herself violently disposed to laugh; indeed she had never
before been so near the verge of hysterics.

"It's a perfectly lovely view," she said. "No wonder you wanted me to
see it."

"Naturally," said Mr. Magnet, "wanted you to see it."

Marjorie, with a skill her mother might have envied, wriggled into a
half-sitting position in an embrasure and concentrated herself upon the
broad wooded undulations that went about the horizon, and Mr. Magnet
mopped his face with surreptitious gestures, and took deep restoring
breaths.

"I've always wanted to bring you here," he said, "ever since I found it
in the spring."

"It was very kind of you, Mr. Magnet," said Marjorie.

"You see," he explained, "whenever I see anything fine or rich or
splendid or beautiful now, I seem to want it for you." His voice
quickened as though he were repeating something that had been long in
his mind. "I wish I could give you all this country. I wish I could put
all that is beautiful in the world at your feet."

He watched the effect of this upon her for a moment.

"Marjorie," he said, "did you really mean what you told me the other
day, that there was indeed no hope for me? I have a sort of feeling I
bothered you that day, that perhaps you didn't mean all----"

He stopped short.

"I don't think I knew what I meant," said Marjorie, and Magnet gave a
queer sound of relief at her words. "I don't think I know what I mean
now. I don't think I can say I love you, Mr. Magnet. I would if I could.
I like you very much indeed, I think you are awfully kind, you're more
kind and generous than anyone I have ever known...."

Saying he was kind and generous made her through some obscure
association of ideas feel that he must have understanding. She had an
impulse to put her whole case before him frankly. "I wonder," she said,
"if you can understand what it is to be a girl."

Then she saw the absurdity of her idea, of any such miracle of sympathy.
He was entirely concentrated upon the appeal he had come prepared to
make.

"Marjorie," he said, "I don't ask you to love me yet. All I ask is that
you shouldn't decide _not_ to love me."

Marjorie became aware of Theodore, hotly followed by Daffy, in the
churchyard below. "I _know_ he's up there," Theodore was manifestly
saying.

Marjorie faced her lover gravely.

"Mr. Magnet," she said, "I will certainly promise you that."

"I would rather be your servant, rather live for your happiness, than do
anything else in all the world," said Mr. Magnet. "If you would trust
your life to me, if you would deign--." He paused to recover his thread.
"If you would deign to let me make life what it should be for you, take
every care from your shoulders, face every responsibility----"

Marjorie felt she had to hurry. She could almost feel the feet of
Theodore coming up that tower.

"Mr. Magnet," she said, "you don't understand. You don't realize what I
am. You don't know how unworthy I am--what a mere ignorant child----"

"Let me be judge of that!" cried Mr. Magnet.

They paused almost like two actors who listen for the prompter. It was
only too obvious that both were aware of a little medley of imperfectly
subdued noises below. Theodore had got to the ladder that made the last
part of the ascent, and there Daffy had collared him. "_My_ birthday,"
said Theodore. "Come down! You _shan't_ go up there!" said Daffy. "You
_mustn't_, Theodore!" "Why not?" There was something like a scuffle, and
whispers. Then it would seem Theodore went--reluctantly and with
protests. But the conflict receded.

"Marjorie!" said Mr. Magnet, as though there had been no pause, "if you
would consent only to make an experiment, if you would try to love me.
Suppose you _tried_ an engagement. I do not care how long I waited...."

He paused. "Will you try?" he urged upon her distressed silence.

She felt as though she forced the word. "_Yes!_" she said in a very low
voice.

Then it seemed to her that Mr. Magnet leapt upon her. She felt herself
pulled almost roughly from the embrasure, and he had kissed her. She
struggled in his embrace. "Mr. Magnet!" she said. He lifted her face and
kissed her lips. "Marjorie!" he said, and she had partly released
herself.

"Oh _don't_ kiss me," she cried, "don't kiss me yet!"

"But a kiss!"

"I don't like it."

"I beg your pardon!" he said. "I forgot----. But you.... You.... I
couldn't help it."

She was suddenly wildly sorry for what she had done. She felt she was
going to cry, to behave absurdly.

"I want to go down," she said.

"Marjorie, you have made me the happiest of men! All my life, all my
strength I will spend in showing you that you have made no mistake in
trusting me----"

"Yes," she said, "yes," and wondered what she could say or do. It seemed
to him that her shrinking pose was the most tenderly modest thing he had
ever seen.

"Oh my dear!" he said, and restrained himself and took her passive hand
and kissed it.

"I want to go down to them!" she insisted.

He paused on the topmost rungs of the ladder, looking unspeakable things
at her. Then he turned to go down, and for the second time in her life
she saw that incipient thinness....

"I am sure you will never be sorry," he said....

They found Mr. and Mrs. Pope in the churchyard. Mr. Pope was reading
with amusement for the third time an epitaph that had caught his fancy--

    "Lands ever bright, days ever fair,
    And yet we weep that _he_ is there."

he read. "You know that's really Good. That ought to be printed
somewhere."

Mrs. Pope glanced sharply at her daughter's white face, and found an
enigma. Then she looked at Mr. Magnet.

There was no mistake about Mr. Magnet. Marjorie had accepted him,
whatever else she had felt or done.


§ 14

Marjorie's feelings for the rest of the day are only to be accounted for
on the supposition that she was overwrought. She had a preposterous
reaction. She had done this thing with her eyes open after days of
deliberation, and now she felt as though she was caught in a trap. The
clearest thing in her mind was that Mr. Magnet had taken hold of her and
kissed her, kissed her on the lips, and that presently he would do it
again. And also she was asking herself with futile reiteration why she
had got into debt at Oxbridge? Why she had got into debt? For such silly
little things too!

Nothing definite was said in her hearing about the engagement, but
everybody seemed to understand. Mr. Pope was the most demonstrative, he
took occasion to rap her hard upon the back, his face crinkled with a
resolute kindliness. "Ah!" he said, "Sly Maggots!"

He also administered several resounding blows to Magnet's shoulder
blades, and irradiated the party with a glow of benevolent waggery.
Marjorie submitted without an answer to these paternal intimations. Mrs.
Pope did no more than watch her daughter. Invisible but overwhelming
forces were busy in bringing Marjorie and her glowing lover alone
together again. It happened at last, as he was departing; she was almost
to her inflamed imagination thrust out upon him, had to take him to the
gate; and there in the shadows of the trees he kissed her "good night"
with passionate effusion.

"Madge," he said, "Madge!"

She made no answer. She submitted passively to his embrace, and then
suddenly and dexterously disengaged herself from him, ran in, and
without saying good-night to anyone went to her room to bed.

Mr. Pope was greatly amused by this departure from the customary routine
of life, and noted it archly.

When Daffy came up Marjorie was ostentatiously going to sleep....

As she herself was dropping off Daffy became aware of an odd sound,
somehow familiar, and yet surprising and disconcerting.

Suddenly wide awake again, she started up. Yes there was no mistake
about it! And yet it was very odd.

"Madge, what's up?"

No answer.

"I say! you aren't crying, Madge, are you?"

Then after a long interval: "_Madge!_"

An answer came in a muffled voice, almost as if Marjorie had something
in her mouth. "Oh shut it, old Daffy."

"But Madge?" said Daffy after reflection.

"Shut it. _Do_ shut it! Leave me alone, I say! Can't you leave me alone?
Oh!"--and for a moment she let her sobs have way with her--"Daffy, don't
worry me. Old Daffy! _Please!_"

Daffy sat up for a long time in the stifled silence that ensued, and
then like a sensible sister gave it up, and composed herself again to
slumber....

Outside watching the window in a state of nebulous ecstasy, was Mr.
Magnet, moonlit and dewy. It was a high serene night with a growing moon
and a scattered company of major stars, and if no choir of nightingales
sang there was at least a very active nightjar. "More than I hoped,"
whispered Mr. Magnet, "more than I dared to hope." He was very sleepy,
but it seemed to him improper to go to bed on such a night--on such an
occasion.



CHAPTER THE THIRD

THE MAN WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY


§ 1

For the next week Marjorie became more nearly introspective than she had
ever been in her life before. She began to doubt her hitherto unshaken
conviction that she was a single, consistent human being. She found such
discords and discrepancies between mood and mood, between the conviction
of this hour and the feeling of that, that it seemed to her she was
rather a collection of samples of emotion and attitude than anything so
simple as an individual.

For example, there can be no denying there was one Marjorie in the
bundle who was immensely set up by the fact that she was engaged, and
going to be at no very remote date mistress of a London house. She was
profoundly Plessingtonian, and quite the vulgarest of the lot. The new
status she had attained and the possibly beautiful house and the
probably successful dinner-parties and the arrangements and the
importance of such a life was the substance of this creature's thought.
She designed some queenly dresses. This was the Marjorie most in
evidence when it came to talking with her mother and Daphne. I am afraid
she patronized Daphne, and ignored the fact that Daphne, who had begun
with a resolute magnanimity, was becoming annoyed and resentful.

And she thought of things she might buy, and the jolly feeling of
putting them about and making fine effects with them. One thing she told
Daphne, she had clearly resolved upon; the house should be always full
and brimming over with beautiful flowers. "I've always wished mother
would have more flowers--and not keep them so long when she has
them...."

Another Marjorie in the confusion of her mind was doing her sincerest,
narrow best to appreciate and feel grateful for and return the devotion
of Mr. Magnet. This Marjorie accepted and even elaborated his views,
laid stress on his voluntary subjection, harped upon his goodness,
brought her to kiss him.

"I don't deserve all this love," this side of Marjorie told Magnet. "But
I mean to learn to love you----"

"My dear one!" cried Magnet, and pressed her hand....

A third Marjorie among the many was an altogether acuter and less
agreeable person. She was a sprite of pure criticism, and in spite of
the utmost efforts to suppress her, she declared night and day in the
inner confidences of Marjorie's soul that she did not believe in Mr.
Magnet's old devotion at all. She was anti-Magnet, a persistent
insurgent. She was dreadfully unsettling. It was surely this Marjorie
that wouldn't let the fact of his baldness alone, and who discovered and
insisted upon a curious unbeautiful flatness in his voice whenever he
was doing his best to speak from the heart. And as for this devotion,
what did it amount to? A persistent unimaginative besetting of Marjorie,
a growing air of ownership, an expansive, indulgent, smiling disposition
to thwart and control. And he was always touching her! Whenever he came
near her she would wince at the freedoms a large, kind hand might take
with her elbow or wrist, at a possible sudden, clumsy pat at some erring
strand of hair.

Then there was an appraising satisfaction in his eye.

On the third day of their engagement he began, quite abruptly, to call
her "Magsy." "We'll end this scandal of a Girl Pope," he said. "Magsy
Magnet, you'll be--M.M. No women M.P.'s for _us_, Magsy...."

She became acutely critical of his intellectual quality. She listened
with a new alertness to the conversations at the dinner-table, the bouts
of wit with her father. She carried off utterances and witticism for
maturer reflection. She was amazed to find how little they could
withstand the tests and acids of her mind. So many things, such wide and
interesting fields, he did not so much think about as cover with a large
enveloping shallowness....

He came strolling around the vicarage into the garden one morning about
eleven, though she had not expected him until lunch-time; and she was
sitting with her feet tucked up on the aged but still practicable
garden-seat reading Shaw's "Common Sense of Municipal Trading." He came
and leant over the back of the seat, and she looked up, said "Good
morning. Isn't it perfectly lovely?" and indicated by a book still open
that her interest in it remained alive.

"What's the book, Magsy?" he asked, took it out of her slightly
resisting hand, closed it and read the title. "Um," he said; "Isn't this
a bit stiff for little women's brains?"

All the rebel Marjories were up in arms at that.

"Dreadful word, 'Municipal.' I _don't_ like it." He shook his head with
a grimace of humorous distaste.

"I suppose women have as good brains as men," said Marjorie, "if it
comes to that."

"Better," said Magnet. "That's why they shouldn't trouble about horrid
things like Municipal and Trading.... On a day like this!"

"Don't you think this sort of thing is interesting?"

"Oh!" he said, and flourished the book. "Come! And besides--_Shaw!_"

"He makes a very good case."

"But he's such a--mountebank."

"Does that matter? He isn't a mountebank there."

"He's not sincere. I doubt if you had a serious book on Municipal
Trading, Magsy, whether you'd make head or tail of it. It's a stiff
subject. Shaw just gets his chance for a smart thing or so.... I'd
rather you read a good novel."

He really had the air of taking her reading in hand.

"You think I ought not to read an intelligent book."

"I think we ought to leave those things to the people who understand."

"But we ought to understand."

He smiled wisely. "There's a lot of things _you_ have to understand," he
said, "nearer home than this."

Marjorie was ablaze now. "What a silly thing to say!" she cried, with an
undergraduate's freedom. "Really, you are talking nonsense! I read that
book because it interests me. If I didn't, I should read something else.
Do you mean to suggest that I'm reading like a child, who holds a book
upside down?"

She was so plainly angry that he was taken aback. "I don't mean to
suggest--" he began, and turned to greet the welcome presence, the
interrogative eye of Mrs. Pope.

"Here we are!" he said, "having a quarrel!"

"Marjorie!" said Mrs. Pope.

"Oh, it's serious!" said Mr. Magnet, and added with a gleam: "It's about
Municipal Trading!"

Mrs. Pope knew the wicked little flicker in Marjorie's eye better than
Mr. Magnet. She had known it from the nursery, and yet she had never
quite mastered its meaning. She had never yet realized it was Marjorie,
she had always regarded it as something Marjorie, some other Marjorie,
ought to keep under control. So now she adopted a pacificatory tone.

"Oh! lovers' quarrels," she said, floating over the occasion. "Lovers'
quarrels. You mustn't ask _me_ to interfere!"

Marjorie, already a little ashamed of her heat, thought for an instant
she ought to stand that, and then decided abruptly with a return to
choler that she would not do so. She stood up, and held out her hand for
her book.

"Mr. Magnet," she said to her mother with remarkable force and freedom
as she took it, "has been talking unutterable nonsense. I don't call
that a lovers' quarrel--anyhow."

Then, confronted with a double astonishment, and having no more to say,
she picked up her skirt quite unnecessarily, and walked with a
heavenward chin indoors.

"I'm afraid," explained Mr. Magnet, "I was a little too free with one of
Magsy's favourite authors."

"Which is the favourite author now?" asked Mrs. Pope, after a reflective
pause, with a mother's indulgent smile.

"Shaw." He raised amused eyebrows. "It's just the age, I suppose."

"She's frightfully loyal while it lasts," said Mrs. Pope. "No one dare
say a word against them."

"I think it's adorable of her," said Mr. Magnet--with an answering
loyalty and gusto.


§ 2

The aviation accident occurred while Mrs. Pope, her two eldest
daughters, and Mr. Magnet were playing golf-croquet upon the vicarage
lawn. It was a serene, hot afternoon, a little too hot to take a game
seriously, and the four little figures moved slowly over the green and
grouped and dispersed as the game required. Mr. Magnet was very fond of
golf-croquet, he displayed a whimsical humour and much invention at this
game, it was not too exacting physically; and he could make his ball
jump into the air in the absurdest manner. Occasionally he won a laugh
from Marjorie or Daffy. No one else was in sight; the pseudo-twins and
Theodore and Toupee were in the barn, and Mr. Pope was six miles away at
Wamping, lying prone, nibbling grass blades and watching a county
cricket match, as every good Englishman, who knows what is expected of
him, loves to do.... Click went ball and mallet, and then after a long
interval, click. It seemed incredible that anything could possibly
happen before tea.

But this is no longer the world it was. Suddenly this tranquil scene was
slashed and rent by the sound and vision of a monoplane tearing across
the heavens.

A purring and popping arrested Mr. Magnet in mid jest, and the monster
came sliding up the sky over the trees beside the church to the east,
already near enough to look big, a great stiff shape, big buff sails
stayed with glittering wire, and with two odd little wheels beneath its
body. It drove up the sky, rising with a sort of upward heaving, until
the croquet players could see the driver and a passenger perched behind
him quite clearly. It passed a little to the right of the church tower
and only a few yards above the level of the flagstaff, there wasn't
fifty feet of clearance altogether, and as it did so Marjorie could see
both driver and passenger making hasty movements. It became immense and
over-shadowing, and every one stood rigid as it swept across the sun
above the vicarage chimneys. Then it seemed to drop twenty feet or so
abruptly, and then both the men cried out as it drove straight for the
line of poplars between the shrubbery and the meadow. "Oh, oh, OH!"
cried Mrs. Pope and Daffy. Evidently the aviator was trying to turn
sharply; the huge thing banked, but not enough, and came about and
slipped away until its wing was slashing into the tree tops with a
thrilling swish of leaves and the snapping of branches and stays.

"Run!" cried Magnet, and danced about the lawn, and the three ladies
rushed sideways as the whole affair slouched down on them. It came on
its edge, hesitated whether to turn over as a whole, then crumpled, and
amidst a volley of smashing and snapping came to rest amidst ploughed-up
turf, a clamorous stench of petrol, and a cloud of dust and blue smoke
within twenty yards of them. The two men had jumped to clear the engine,
had fallen headlong, and were now both covered by the fabric of the
shattered wing.

It was all too spectacular for word or speech until the thing lay still.
Even then the croquet players stood passive for awhile waiting for
something to happen. It took some seconds to reconcile their minds to
this sudden loss of initiative in a monster that had been so recently
and threateningly full of go. It seemed quite a long time before it came
into Marjorie's head that she ought perhaps to act in some way. She saw
a tall young man wriggling on all fours from underneath the wreckage of
fabric. He stared at her rather blankly. She went forward with a vague
idea of helping him. He stood up, swayed doubtfully on his legs, turned,
and became energetic, struggling mysteriously with the edge of the left
wing. He gasped and turned fierce blue eyes over his shoulder.

"Help me to hold the confounded thing up!" he cried, with a touch of
irritation in his voice at her attitude.

Marjorie at once seized the edge of the plane and pushed. The second
man, in a peculiar button-shaped head-dress, was lying crumpled up
underneath, his ear and cheek were bright with blood, and there was a
streak of blood on the ground near his head.

"That's right. Can you hold it if I use only one hand?"

Marjorie gasped "Yes," with a terrific weight as it seemed suddenly on
her wrists.

"Right O," and the tall young man had thrust himself backwards under the
plane until it rested on his back, and collared the prostrate man. "Keep
it up!" he said fiercely when Marjorie threatened to give way. He seemed
to assume that she was there to obey orders, and with much grunting and
effort he had dragged his companion clear of the wreckage.

The man's face was a mass of blood, and he was sickeningly inert to his
companion's lugging.

"Let it go," said the tall young man, and Marjorie thanked heaven as the
broken wing flapped down again.

She came helpfully to his side, and became aware of Daffy and her mother
a few paces off. Magnet--it astonished her--was retreating hastily. But
he had to go away because the sight of blood upset him--so much that it
was always wiser for him to go away.

"Is he hurt?" cried Mrs. Pope.

"We both are," said the tall young man, and then as though these other
people didn't matter and he and Marjorie were old friends, he said: "Can
we turn him over?"

"I think so." Marjorie grasped the damaged man's shoulder and got him
over skilfully.

"Will you get some water?" said the tall young man to Daffy and Mrs.
Pope, in a way that sent Daffy off at once for a pail.

"He wants water," she said to the parlourmaid who was hurrying out of
the house.

The tall young man had gone down on his knees by his companion,
releasing his neck, and making a hasty first examination of his
condition. "The pneumatic cap must have saved his head," he said,
throwing the thing aside. "Lucky he had it. He can't be badly hurt. Just
rubbed his face along the ground. Silly thing to have come as we did."

He felt the heart, and tried the flexibility of an arm.

"_That's_ all right," he said.

He became judicial and absorbed over the problems of his friend's side.
"Um," he remarked. He knelt back and regarded Marjorie for the first
time. "Thundering smash," he said. His face relaxed into an agreeable
smile. "He only bought it last week."

"Is he hurt?"

"Rib, I think--or two ribs perhaps. Stunned rather. All _this_--just his
nose."

He regarded Marjorie and Marjorie him for a brief space. He became aware
of Mrs. Pope on his right hand. Then at a clank behind, he turned round
to see Daphne advancing with a pail of water. The two servants were now
on the spot, and the odd-job man, and the old lady who did out the
church, and Magnet hovered doubtfully in the distance. Suddenly with
shouts and barks of sympathetic glee the pseudo-twins, Theodore and
Toupee shot out of the house. New thoughts were stirring in the young
aviator. He rose, wincing a little as he did so. "I'm afraid I'm a
little rude," he said.

"I do hope your friend isn't hurt," said Mrs. Pope, feeling the duty of
a hostess.

"He's not hurt _much_--so far as I can see. Haven't we made rather a
mess of your lawn?"

"Oh, not at all!" said Mrs. Pope.

"We have. If that is your gardener over there, it would be nice if he
kept back the people who seem to be hesitating beyond those trees. There
will be more presently. I'm afraid I must throw myself on your hands."
He broke into a chuckle for a moment. "I have, you know. Is it possible
to get a doctor? My friend's not hurt so very much, but still he wants
expert handling. He's Sir Rupert Solomonson, from"--he jerked his head
back--"over beyond Tunbridge Wells. My name's Trafford."

"I'm Mrs. Pope and these are my daughters."

Trafford bowed. "We just took the thing out for a lark," he said.

Marjorie had been regarding the prostrate man. His mouth was a little
open, and he showed beautiful teeth. Apart from the dry blood upon him
he was not an ill-looking man. He was manifestly a Jew, a square-rigged
Jew (you have remarked of course that there are square-rigged Jews,
whose noses are within bounds, and fore-and-aft Jews, whose noses
aren't), with not so much a bullet-head as a round-shot, cropped like
the head of a Capuchin monkey. Suddenly she was down and had his head on
her knee, with a quick movement that caught Trafford's eye. "He's
better," she said. "His eyelids flickered. Daffy, bring the water."

She had felt a queer little repugnance at first with this helpless man,
but now that professional nurse who lurks in the composition of so many
women, was uppermost. "Give me your handkerchief," she said to Trafford,
and with Daffy kneeling beside her and also interested, and Mrs. Pope a
belated but more experienced and authoritative third, Sir Rupert was
soon getting the best of attention.

"Wathall ..." said Sir Rupert suddenly, and tried again: "Wathall." A
third effort gave "Wathall about, eh?"

"If we could get him into the shade," said Marjorie.

"Woosh," cried Sir Rupert. "Weeeooo!"

"That's all right," said Trafford. "It's only a rib or two."

"Eeeeeyoooo!" said Sir Rupert.

"Exactly. We're going to carry you out of the glare."

"Don't touch me," said Sir Rupert. "Gooo."

It took some little persuasion before Sir Rupert would consent to be
moved, and even then he was for a time--oh! crusty. But presently
Trafford and the two girls had got him into the shade of a large bush
close to where in a circle of rugs and cushions the tea things lay
prepared. There they camped. The helpful odd-job man was ordered to
stave off intruders from the village; water, towels, pillows were
forthcoming. Mr. Magnet reappeared as tentative assistance, and
Solomonson became articulate and brave and said he'd nothing but a
stitch in his side. In his present position he wasn't at all
uncomfortable. Only he didn't want any one near him. He enforced that by
an appealing smile. The twins, invited to fetch the doctor, declined,
proffering Theodore. They had conceived juvenile passions for the tall
young man, and did not want to leave him. He certainly had a very nice
face. So Theodore after walking twice round the wreckage, tore himself
away and departed on Rom's bicycle. Enquiry centred on Solomonson for a
time. His face, hair and neck were wet but no longer bloody, and he
professed perfect comfort so long as he wasn't moved, and no one came
too near him. He was very clear about that though perfectly polite, and
scrutinized their faces to see if they were equally clear. Satisfied
upon this point he closed his eyes and spoke no more. He looked then
like a Capuchin monkey lost in pride. There came a pause. Every one was
conscious of having risen to an emergency and behaved well under unusual
circumstances. The young man's eye rested on the adjacent tea-things,
lacking nothing but the coronation of the teapot.

"Why not," he remarked, "have tea?"

"If you think your friend----" began Mrs. Pope.

"Oh! _he's_ all right. Aren't you, Solomonson? There's nothing more now
until the doctor."

"Only want to be left alone," said Solomonson, and closed his heavy
eyelids again.

Mrs. Pope told the maids, with an air of dismissal, to get tea.

"We can keep an eye on him," said Trafford.

Marjorie surveyed her first patient with a pretty unconscious mixture of
maternal gravity and girlish interest, and the twins to avoid too openly
gloating upon the good looks of Trafford, chose places and secured
cushions round the tea-things, calculating to the best of their ability
how they might secure the closest proximity to him. Mr. Magnet and
Toupee had gone to stare at the monoplane; they were presently joined by
the odd-job man in an interrogative mood. "Pretty complete smash, sir!"
said the odd-job man, and then perceiving heads over the hedge by the
churchyard, turned back to his duty of sentinel. Daffy thought of the
need of more cups and plates and went in to get them, and Mrs. Pope
remarked that she did hope Sir Rupert was not badly hurt....

"Extraordinary all this is," remarked Mr. Trafford. "Now, here we were
after lunch, twenty miles away--smoking cigars and with no more idea of
having tea with you than--I was going to say--flying. But that's out of
date now. Then we just thought we'd try the thing.... Like a dream."

He addressed himself to Marjorie: "I never feel that life is quite real
until about three days after things have happened. Never. Two hours ago
I had not the slightest intention of ever flying again."

"But haven't you flown before?" asked Mrs. Pope.

"Not much. I did a little at Sheppey, but it's so hard for a poor man to
get his hands on a machine. And here was Solomonson, with this thing in
his hangar, eating its head off. Let's take it out," I said, "and go
once round the park. And here we are.... I thought it wasn't wise for
him to come...."

Sir Rupert, without opening his eyes, was understood to assent.

"Do you know," said Trafford, "The sight of your tea makes me feel
frightfully hungry."

"I don't think the engine's damaged?" he said cheerfully, "do you?" as
Magnet joined them. "The ailerons are in splinters, and the left wing's
not much better. But that's about all except the wheels. One falls so
much lighter than you might suppose--from the smash.... Lucky it didn't
turn over. Then, you know, the engine comes on the top of you, and
you're done."


§ 3

The doctor arrived after tea, with a bag and a stethoscope in a small
coffin-like box, and the Popes and Mr. Magnet withdrew while Sir Rupert
was carefully sounded, tested, scrutinized, questioned, watched and
examined in every way known to medical science. The outcome of the
conference was presently communicated to the Popes by Mr. Trafford and
the doctor. Sir Rupert was not very seriously injured, but he was
suffering from concussion and shock, two of his ribs were broken and his
wrist sprained, unless perhaps one of the small bones was displaced. He
ought to be bandaged up and put to bed....

"Couldn't we--" said Mrs. Pope, but the doctor assured her his own house
was quite the best place. There Sir Rupert could stay for some days. At
present the cross-country journey over the Downs or by the South Eastern
Railway would be needlessly trying and painful. He would with the Popes'
permission lie quietly where he was for an hour or so, and then the
doctor would come with a couple of men and a carrying bed he had, and
take him off to his own house. There he would be, as Mr. Trafford said,
"as right as ninepence," and Mr. Trafford could put up either at the Red
Lion with Mr. Magnet or in the little cottage next door to the doctor.
(Mr. Trafford elected for the latter as closer to his friend.) As for
the smashed aeroplane, telegrams would be sent at once to Sir Rupert's
engineers at Chesilbury, and they would have all that cleared away by
mid-day to-morrow....

The doctor departed; Sir Rupert, after stimulants, closed his eyes, and
Mr. Trafford seated himself at the tea-things for some more cake, as
though introduction by aeroplane was the most regular thing in the
world.

He had very pleasant and easy manners, an entire absence of
self-consciousness, and a quick talkative disposition that made him very
rapidly at home with everybody. He described all the sensations of
flight, his early lessons and experiments, and in the utmost detail the
events of the afternoon that had led to this disastrous adventure. He
made his suggestion of "trying the thing" seem the most natural impulse
in the world. The bulk of the conversation fell on him; Mr. Magnet, save
for the intervention of one or two jests, was quietly observant; the
rest were well disposed to listen. And as Mr. Trafford talked his eye
rested ever and again on Marjorie with the faintest touch of scrutiny
and perplexity, and she, too, found a curious little persuasion growing
up in her mind that somewhere, somehow, she and he had met and had
talked rather earnestly. But how and where eluded her altogether....

They had sat for an hour--the men from the doctor's seemed never
coming--when Mr. Pope returned unexpectedly from his cricket match,
which had ended a little prematurely in a rot on an over-dry wicket. He
was full of particulars of the day's play, and how Wiper had got a most
amazing catch and held it, though he fell; how Jenks had deliberately
bowled at a man's head, he believed, and little Gibbs thrown a man out
from slip. He was burning to tell all this in the utmost detail to
Magnet and his family, so that they might at least share the retrospect
of his pleasure. He had thought out rather a good pun on Wiper, and he
was naturally a little thwarted to find all this good, rich talk
crowded out by a more engrossing topic.

At the sight of a stranger grouped in a popular manner beside the
tea-things, he displayed a slight acerbity, which was if anything
increased by the discovery of a prostrate person with large brown eyes
and an expression of Oriental patience and disdain, in the shade of a
bush near by. At first he seemed scarcely to grasp Mrs. Pope's
explanations, and regarded Sir Rupert with an expression that bordered
on malevolence. Then, when his attention was directed to the smashed
machine upon the lawn, he broke out into a loud indignant: "Good God!
What next?"

He walked towards the wreckage, disregarding Mr. Trafford beside him. "A
man can't go away from his house for an hour!" he complained.

"I can assure you we did all we could to prevent it," said Trafford.

"Ought never to have had it to prevent," said Mr. Pope. "Is your friend
hurt?"

"A rib--and shock," said Trafford.

"Well--he deserves it," said Mr. Pope. "Rather than launch myself into
the air in one of those infernal things, I'd be stood against a wall and
shot."

"Tastes differ, of course," said Trafford, with unruffled urbanity.

"You'll have all this cleared away," said Mr. Pope.

"Mechanics--oh! a complete break-down party--are speeding to us in fast
motors," said Trafford. "Thanks to the kindness of your domestic in
taking a telegram for me."

"Hope they won't kill any one," said Mr. Pope, and just for a moment the
conversation hung fire. "And your friend?" he asked.

"He goes in the next ten minutes--well, whenever the litter comes from
the doctor's. Poor old Solomonson!"

"Solomonson?"

"Sir Rupert."

"Oh!" said Mr. Pope. "Is that the Pigmentation Solomonson?"

"I believe he does do some beastly company of that sort," said Trafford.
"Isn't it amazing we didn't smash our engine?"

Sir Rupert Solomonson was indeed a familiar name to Mr. Pope. He had
organized the exploitation of a number of pigment and bye-product
patents, and the ordinary and deferred shares of his syndicate has risen
to so high a price as to fill Mr. Pope with the utmost confidence in
their future; indeed he had bought considerably, withdrawing capital to
do so from an Argentine railway whose stock had awakened his distaste
and a sort of moral aversion by slumping heavily after a bad wheat and
linseed harvest. This discovery did much to mitigate his first asperity,
his next remark to Trafford was almost neutral, and he was even asking
Sir Rupert whether he could do anything to make him comfortable, when
the doctor returned with a litter, borne by four hastily compiled
bearers.


§ 4

Some brightness seemed to vanish when the buoyant Mr. Trafford, still
undauntedly cheerful, limped off after his more injured friend, and
disappeared through the gate. Marjorie found herself in a world whose
remaining manhood declined to see anything but extreme annoyance in this
gay, exciting rupture of the afternoon. "Good God!" said Mr. Pope. "What
next? What next?"

"Registration, I hope," said Mr. Magnet,--"and relegation to the desert
of Sahara."

"One good thing about it," said Mr. Pope--"it all wastes petrol. And
when the petrol supply gives out--they're done."

"Certainly we might all have been killed!" said Mrs. Pope, feeling she
had to bear her witness against their visitors, and added: "If we hadn't
moved out of the way, that is."

There was a simultaneous movement towards the shattered apparatus, about
which a small contingent of villagers, who had availed themselves of the
withdrawal of the sentinel, had now assembled.

"Look at it!" said Mr. Pope, with bitter hostility. "Look at it!"

Everyone had anticipated his command.

"They'll never come to anything," said Mr. Pope, after a pause of silent
hatred.

"But they _have_ to come to something," said Marjorie.

"They've come to smash!" said Mr. Magnet, with the true humorist's air.

"But consider the impudence of this invasion, the
wild--objectionableness of it!"

"They're nasty things," said Mr. Magnet. "Nasty things!"

A curious spirit of opposition stirred in Marjorie. It seemed to her
that men who play golf-croquet and watch cricket matches have no
business to contemn men who risk their lives in the air. She sought for
some controversial opening.

"Isn't the engine rather wonderful?" she remarked.

Mr. Magnet regarded the engine with his head a little on one side. "It's
the usual sort," he said.

"There weren't engines like that twenty years ago."

"There weren't people like _you_ twenty years ago," said Mr. Magnet,
smiling wisely and kindly, and turned his back on the thing.

Mr. Pope followed suit. He was filled with the bitter thought that he
would never now be able to tell the history of the remarkable match he
had witnessed. It was all spoilt for him--spoilt for ever. Everything
was disturbed and put out.

"They've left us our tennis lawn," he said, with a not unnatural
resentment passing to invitation. "What do you say, Magnet? Now you've
begun the game you must keep it up?"

"If Marjorie, or Mrs. Pope, or Daffy...?" said Magnet.

Mrs. Pope declared the house required her. And so with the gravest
apprehensions, and an insincere compliment to their father's energy,
Daffy and Marjorie made up a foursome for that healthy and invigorating
game. But that evening Mr. Pope got his serve well into the bay of the
sagging net almost at once, and with Marjorie in the background taking
anything he left her, he won quite easily, and everything became
pleasant again. Magnet gloated upon Marjorie and served her like a
missionary giving Bibles to heathen children, he seemed always looking
at her instead of the ball, and except for a slight disposition on the
part of Daffy to slash, nothing could have been more delightful. And at
supper Mr. Pope, rather crushing his wife's attempt to recapitulate the
more characteristic sayings and doings of Sir Rupert and his friend, did
after all succeed in giving every one a very good idea indeed of the
more remarkable incidents of the cricket match at Wamping, and made the
pun he had been accustomed to use upon the name of Wiper in a new and
improved form. A general talk about cricket and the Immense Good of
cricket followed. Mr. Pope said he would make cricket-playing compulsory
for every English boy.

Everyone it seemed to Marjorie was forgetting that dark shape athwart
the lawn, and all the immense implication of its presence, with a
deliberate and irrational skill, and she noted that the usual move
towards the garden at the end of the evening was not made.


§ 5

In the night time Marjorie had a dream that she was flying about in the
world on a monoplane with Mr. Trafford as a passenger.

Then Mr. Trafford disappeared, and she was flying about alone with a
curious uneasy feeling that in a minute or so she would be unable any
longer to manage the machine.

Then her father and Mr. Magnet appeared very far below, walking about
and disapproving of her. Mr. Magnet was shaking his head very, very
sagely, and saying: "Rather a stiff job for little Marjorie," and her
father was saying she would be steadier when she married. And then, she
wasn't clear how, the engine refused to work until her bills were paid,
and she began to fall, and fall, and fall towards Mr. Magnet. She tried
frantically to pay her bills. She was falling down the fronts of
skyscrapers and precipices--and Mr. Magnet was waiting for her below
with a quiet kindly smile that grew wider and wider and wider....

She woke up palpitating.


§ 6

Next morning a curious restlessness came upon Marjorie. Conceivably it
was due to the absence of Magnet, who had gone to London to deliver his
long promised address on The Characteristics of English Humour to the
_Literati_ Club. Conceivably she missed his attentions. But it
crystallized out in the early afternoon into the oddest form, a powerful
craving to go to the little town of Pensting, five miles off, on the
other side of Buryhamstreet, to buy silk shoelaces.

She decided to go in the donkey cart. She communicated her intention to
her mother, but she did not communicate an equally definite intention to
be reminded suddenly of Sir Rupert Solomonson as she was passing the
surgery, and make an inquiry on the spur of the moment--it wouldn't
surely be anything but a kindly and justifiable impulse to do that. She
might see Mr. Trafford perhaps, but there was no particular harm in
that.

It is also to be remarked that finding Theodore a little disposed to
encumber her vehicle with his presence she expressed her delight at
being released from the need of going, and abandoned the whole
expedition to him--knowing as she did perfectly well that if Theodore
hated anything more than navigating the donkey cart alone, it was going
unprotected into a shop to buy articles of feminine apparel--until he
chucked the whole project and went fishing--if one can call it fishing
when there are no fish and the fisherman knows it--in the decadent
ornamental water.

And it is also to be remarked that as Marjorie approached the surgery
she was seized with an absurd and powerful shyness, so that not only did
she not call at the surgery, she did not even look at the surgery, she
gazed almost rigidly straight ahead, telling herself, however, that she
merely deferred that kindly impulse until she had bought her laces. And
so it happened that about half a mile beyond the end of Buryhamstreet
she came round a corner upon Trafford, and by a singular fatality he
also was driving a donkey, or, rather, was tracing a fan-like pattern on
the road with a donkey's hoofs. It was a very similar donkey to
Marjorie's, but the vehicle was a governess cart, and much smarter than
Marjorie's turn-out. His ingenuous face displayed great animation at the
sight of her, and as she drew alongside he hailed her with an almost
unnatural ease of manner.

"Hullo!" he cried. "I'm taking the air. You seem to be able to drive
donkeys forward. How do you do it? I can't. Never done anything so
dangerous in my life before. I've just been missed by two motor cars,
and hung for a terrible minute with my left wheel on the very verge of
an unfathomable ditch. I could hear the little ducklings far, far below,
and bits of mould dropping. I tried to count before the splash. Aren't
you--_white?_"

"But why are you doing it?"

"One must do something. I'm bandaged up and can't walk. It hurt my leg
more than I knew--your doctor says. Solomonson won't talk of anything
but how he feels, and _I_ don't care a rap how he feels. So I got this
thing and came out with it."

Marjorie made her inquiries. There came a little pause.

"Some day no one will believe that men were ever so foolish as to trust
themselves to draught animals," he remarked. "Hullo! Look out! The
horror of it!"

A large oil van--a huge drum on wheels--motor-driven, had come round the
corner, and after a preliminary and quite insufficient hoot, bore down
upon them, and missing Trafford as it seemed by a miracle, swept past.
Both drivers did wonderful things with whips and reins, and found
themselves alone in the road again, with their wheels locked and an
indefinite future.

"I leave the situation to you," said Trafford. "Or shall we just sit and
talk until the next motor car kills us?"

"We ought to make an effort," said Marjorie, cheerfully, and descended
to lead the two beasts.

Assisted by an elderly hedger, who had been taking a disregarded
interest in them for some time, she separated the wheels and got the two
donkeys abreast. The old hedger's opinion of their safety on the king's
highway was expressed by his action rather than his words; he directed
the beasts towards a shady lane that opened at right angles to the road.
He stood by their bridles while Marjorie resumed her seat.

"It seems to me clearly a case for compromise," said Trafford. "You want
to go that way, I want to go that way. Let us both go _this_ way. It is
by such arrangements that civilization becomes possible."

He dismissed the hedger generously and resumed his reins.

"Shall we race?" he asked.

"With your leg?" she inquired.

"No; with the donkeys. I say, this _is_ rather a lark. At first I
thought it was both dangerous and dull. But things have changed. I am in
beastly high spirits. I feel there will be a cry before night; but
still, I am----I wanted the companionship of an unbroken person. It's
so jolly to meet you again."

"Again?"

"After the year before last."

"After the year before last?"

"You didn't know," said Trafford, "I had met you before? How aggressive
I must have seemed! Well, _I_ wasn't quite clear. I spent the greater
part of last night--my ankle being foolish in the small hours--in
trying to remember how and where."

"I don't remember," said Marjorie.

"I remembered you very distinctly, and some things I thought about you,
but not where it had happened. Then in the night I got it. It _is_ a
puzzle, isn't it? You see, I was wearing a black gown, and I had been
out of the sunlight for some months--and my eye, I remember it acutely,
was bandaged. I'm usually bandaged somewhere.

    'I was a King in Babylon
    And you were a Christian slave'

--I mean a candidate."

Marjorie remembered suddenly. "You're Professor Trafford."

"Not in this atmosphere. But I am at the Romeike College. And as soon as
I recalled examining you I remembered it--minutely. You were
intelligent, though unsound--about cryo-hydrates it was. Ah, you
remember me now. As most young women are correct by rote and
unintelligent in such questions, and as it doesn't matter a rap about
anything of that sort, whether you are correct or not, as long as the
mental gesture is right----" He paused for a moment, as though tired of
his sentence. "I remembered you."

He proceeded in his easy and detached manner, that seemed to make every
topic possible, to tell her his first impressions of her, and show how
very distinctly indeed he remembered her.

"You set me philosophizing. I'd never examined a girls' school before,
and I was suddenly struck by the spectacle of the fifty of you. What's
going to become of them all?"

"I thought," he went on, "how bright you were, and how keen and eager
you were--_you_, I mean, in particular--and just how certain it was
your brightness and eagerness would be swallowed up by some silly
ordinariness or other--stuffy marriage or stuffy domestic duties. The
old, old story--done over again with a sort of threadbare badness.
(Nothing to say against it if it's done well.) I got quite sentimental
and pathetic about life's breach of faith with women. Odd, isn't it, how
one's mind runs on. But that's what I thought. It's all come back to
me."

Marjorie's bright, clear eye came round to him. "I don't see very much
wrong with the lot of women," she reflected. "Things are different
nowadays. Anyhow----"

She paused.

"You don't want to be a man?"

"_No!_"

She was emphatic.

"Some of us cut more sharply at life than you think," he said, plumbing
her unspoken sense.

She had never met a man before who understood just how a girl can feel
the slow obtuseness of his sex. It was almost as if he had found her out
at something.

"Oh," she said, "perhaps you do," and looked at him with an increased
interest.

"I'm half-feminine, I believe," he said. "For instance, I've got just a
woman's joy in textures and little significant shapes. I know how you
feel about that. I can spend hours, even now, in crystal gazing--I don't
mean to see some silly revelation of some silly person's proceedings
somewhere, but just for the things themselves. I wonder if you have ever
been in the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, and looked at
Ruskin's crystal collection? I saw it when I was a boy, and it became--I
can't help the word--an obsession. The inclusions like moss and like
trees, and all sorts of fantastic things, and the cleavages and
enclosures with little bubbles, and the lights and shimmer--What were we
talking about? Oh, about the keen way your feminine perceptions cut into
things. And yet somehow I was throwing contempt on the feminine
intelligence. I don't do justice to the order of my thoughts. Never
mind. We've lost the thread. But I wish you knew my mother."

He went on while Marjorie was still considering the proper response to
this.

"You see, I'm her only son and she brought me up, and we know each
other--oh! very well. She helps with my work. She understands nearly all
of it. She makes suggestions. And to this day I don't know if she's the
most original or the most parasitic of creatures. And that's the way
with all women and girls, it seems to me. You're as critical as light,
and as undiscriminating.... I say, do I strike you as talking nonsense?"

"Not a bit," said Marjorie. "But you do go rather fast."

"I know," he admitted. "But somehow you excite me. I've been with
Solomonson a week, and he's dull at all times. It was that made me take
out that monoplane of his. But it did him no good."

He paused.

"They told me after the exam.," said Marjorie, "you knew more about
crystallography--than anyone."

"Does that strike you as a dull subject?"

"No," said Marjorie, in a tone that invited justifications.

"It isn't. I think--naturally, that the world one goes into when one
studies molecular physics is quite the most beautiful of Wonderlands....
I can assure you I work sometimes like a man who is exploring a magic
palace.... Do you know anything of molecular physics?"

"You examined me," said Marjorie.

"The sense one has of exquisite and wonderful rhythms--just beyond sound
and sight! And there's a taunting suggestion of its being all there,
displayed and confessed, if only one were quick enough to see it. Why,
for instance, when you change the composition of a felspar almost
imperceptibly, do the angles change? What's the correspondence between
the altered angle and the substituted atom? Why does this bit of clear
stuff swing the ray of light so much out of its path, and that swing it
more? Then what happens when crystals gutter down, and go into solution.
The endless launching of innumerable little craft. Think what a clear
solution must be if only one had ultra-microscopic eyes and could see
into it, see the extraordinary patternings, the swimming circling
constellations. And then the path of a ray of polarized light beating
through it! It takes me like music. Do you know anything of the effects
of polarized light, the sight of a slice of olivine-gabbro for instance
between crossed Nicols?"

"I've seen some rock sections," said Marjorie. "I forget the names of
the rocks."

"The colours?"

"Oh yes, the colours."

"Is there anything else so rich and beautiful in all the world? And
every different mineral and every variety of that mineral has a
different palette of colours, a different scheme of harmonies--and is
telling you something."

"If only you understood."

"Exactly. All the ordinary stuff of life--you know--the carts and motor
cars and dusty roads and--cinder sifting, seems so blank to me--with
that persuasion of swing and subtlety beneath it all. As if the whole
world was fire and crystal and aquiver--with some sort of cotton
wrappers thrown over it...."

"Dust sheets," said Marjorie. "I know."

"Or like a diamond painted over!"

"With that sort of grey paint, very full of body--that lasts."

"Yes." He smiled at her. "I can't help apologetics. Most people think a
professor of science is just----"

"A professor of science."

"Yes. Something all pedantries and phrases. I want to clear my
character. As though it is foolish to follow a vortex ring into a
vacuum, and wise to whack at a dirty golf ball on a suburban railway
bank. Oh, their golf! Under high heaven!... You don't play golf, do you,
by any chance?"

"Only the woman's part," said Marjorie.

"And they despise us," he said. "Solomonson can hardly hide how he
despises us. Nothing is more wonderful than the way these people go on
despising us who do research, who have this fever of curiosity, who
won't be content with--what did you call those wrappers?"

"Dust sheets."

"Yes, dust sheets. What a life! Swaddling bands, dust sheets and a
shroud! You know, research and discovery aren't nearly so difficult as
people think--if only you have the courage to say a thing or try a thing
now and then that it isn't usual to say or try. And after all----" he
went off at a tangent, "these confounded ordinary people aren't
justified in their contempt. We keep on throwing them things over our
shoulders, electric bells, telephones, Marconigrams. Look at the
beautiful electric trains that come towering down the London streets at
nightfall, ships of light in full sail! Twenty years ago they were as
impossible as immortality. We conquer the seas for these--golfers, puts
arms in their hands that will certainly blow them all to bits if ever
the idiots go to war with them, come sailing out of the air on them----"

He caught Marjorie's eye and stopped.

"_Falling_ out of the air on them," corrected Marjorie very softly.

"That was only an accident," said Mr. Trafford....

So they began a conversation in the lane where the trees met overhead
that went on and went on like a devious path in a shady wood, and
touched upon all manner of things....


§ 7

In the end quite a number of people were aggrieved by this dialogue, in
the lane that led nowhither....

Sir Rupert Solomonson was the first to complain. Trafford had been away
"three mortal hours." No one had come near him, not a soul, and there
hadn't been even a passing car to cheer his ear.

Sir Rupert admitted he had to be quiet. "But not so _damned_ quiet."

"I'd have been glad," said Sir Rupert, "if a hen had laid an egg and
clucked a bit. You might have thought there had been a Resurrection or
somethin', and cleared off everybody. Lord! it was deadly. I'd have sung
out myself if it hadn't been for these infernal ribs...."

Mrs. Pope came upon the affair quite by accident.

"Well, Marjorie," she said as she poured tea for the family, "did you
get your laces?"

"Never got there, Mummy," said Marjorie, and paused fatally.

"Didn't get there!" said Mrs. Pope. "That's worse than Theodore!
Wouldn't the donkey go, poor dear?"

There was nothing to colour about, and yet Marjorie felt the warm flow
in neck and cheek and brow. She threw extraordinary quantities of
candour into her manner. "I had a romantic adventure," she said rather
quietly. "I was going to tell you."

(Sensation.)

"You see it was like this," said Marjorie. "I ran against Mr.
Trafford...."

She drank tea, and pulled herself together for a lively description of
the wheel-locking and the subsequent conversation, a bright ridiculous
account which made the affair happen by implication on the high road and
not in a byeway, and was adorned with every facetious ornament that
seemed likely to get a laugh from the children. But she talked rather
fast, and she felt she forced the fun a little. However, it amused the
children all right, and Theodore created a diversion by choking with his
tea. From first to last Marjorie was extremely careful to avoid the
affectionate scrutiny of her mother's eye. And had this lasted the
_whole_ afternoon? asked Mrs. Pope. "Oh, they'd talked for
half-an-hour," said Marjorie, or more, and had driven back very slowly
together. "He did all the talking. You saw what he was yesterday. And
the donkeys seemed too happy together to tear them away."

"But what was it all about?" asked Daffy curious.

"He asked after you, Daffy, most affectionately," said Marjorie, and
added, "several times." (Though Trafford had as a matter of fact
displayed a quite remarkable disregard of all her family.)

"And," she went on, getting a plausible idea at last, "he explained all
about aeroplanes. And all that sort of thing. Has Daddy gone to Wamping
for some more cricket?..."

(But none of this was lost on Mrs. Pope.)


§ 8

Mr. Magnet's return next day was heralded by nearly two-thirds of a
column in the _Times_.

The Lecture on the Characteristics of Humour had evidently been quite a
serious affair, and a very imposing list of humorists and of prominent
people associated with their industry had accepted the hospitality of
the _Literati_.

Marjorie ran her eyes over the Chairman's flattering introduction, then
with a queer faint flavour of hostility she reached her destined
husband's utterance. She seemed to hear the flat full tones of his voice
as she read, and automatically the desiccated sentences of the reporter
filled out again into those rich quietly deliberate unfoldings of sound
that were already too familiar to her ear.

Mr. Magnet had begun with modest disavowals. "There was a story, he
said,"--so the report began--"whose hallowed antiquity ought to protect
it from further exploitation, but he was tempted to repeat it because it
offered certain analogies to the present situation. There were three
characters in the story, a bluebottle and two Scotsmen. (Laughter.) The
bluebottle buzzed on the pane, otherwise a profound silence reigned.
This was broken by one of the Scotsmen trying to locate the bluebottle
with zoölogical exactitude. Said this Scotsman: 'Sandy, I am thinking if
yon fly is a birdie or a beastie.' The other replied: 'Man, don't spoil
good whiskey with religious conversation.' (Laughter.) He was tempted,
Mr. Magnet resumed, to ask himself and them why it was that they should
spoil the aftereffects of a most excellent and admirably served dinner
by an academic discussion on British humour. At first he was pained by
the thought that they proposed to temper their hospitality with a demand
for a speech. A closer inspection showed that he was to introduce a
debate and that others were to speak, and that was a new element in
their hospitality. Further, he was permitted to choose the subject so
that he could bring their speeches within the range of his
comprehension. (Laughter.) His was an easy task. He could make it
easier; the best thing to do would be to say nothing at all.
(Laughter.)"

For a space the reporter seemed to have omitted largely--perhaps he was
changing places with his relief--and the next sentence showed Mr. Magnet
engaged as it were in revising a _hortus siccus_ of jokes. "There was
the humour of facts and situations," he was saying, "or that humour of
expression for which there was no human responsibility, as in the case
of Irish humour; he spoke of the humour of the soil which found its
noblest utterance in the bull. Humour depended largely on contrast.
There was a humour of form and expression which had many local
varieties. American humour had been characterized by exaggeration, the
suppression of some link in the chain of argument or narrative, and a
wealth of simile and metaphor which had been justly defined as the
poetry of a pioneer race."...

Marjorie's attention slipped its anchor, and caught lower down upon: "In
England there was a near kinship between laughter and tears; their
mental relations were as close as their physical. Abroad this did not
appear to be the case. It was different in France. But perhaps on the
whole it would be better to leave the humour of France and what some
people still unhappily chose to regard as matters open to
controversy--he referred to choice of subject--out of their discussion
altogether. ('Hear, hear,' and cheers.)"...

Attention wandered again. Then she remarked:--it reminded her in some
mysterious way of a dropped hairpin--"It was noticeable that the pun to
a great extent had become démodé...."

At this point the flight of Marjorie's eyes down the column was arrested
by her father's hand gently but firmly taking possession of the _Times_.
She yielded it without reluctance, turned to the breakfast table, and
never resumed her study of the social relaxations of humorists....

Indeed she forgot it. Her mind was in a state of extreme perplexity. She
didn't know what to make of herself or anything or anybody. Her mind was
full of Trafford and all that he had said and done and all that he might
have said and done, and it was entirely characteristic that she could
not think of Magnet in any way at all except as a bar-like shadow that
lay across all her memories and all the bright possibilities of this
engaging person.

She thought particularly of the mobile animation of his face, the keen
flash of enthusiasm in his thoughts and expressions....

It was perhaps more characteristic of her time than of her that she did
not think she was dealing so much with a moral problem as an
embarrassment, and that she hadn't as yet felt the first stirrings of
self-reproach for the series of disingenuous proceedings that had
rendered the yesterday's encounter possible. But she was restless,
wildly restless as a bird whose nest is taken. She could abide nowhere.
She fretted through the morning, avoided Daffy in a marked manner, and
inflicted a stinging and only partially merited rebuke upon Theodore for
slouching, humping and--of all trite grievances!--not washing behind his
ears. As if any chap washed behind his ears! She thought tennis with the
pseudo-twins might assuage her, but she broke off after losing two sets;
and then she went into the garden to get fresh flowers, and picked a
large bunch and left them on the piano until her mother reminded her of
them. She tried a little Shaw. She struggled with an insane wish to walk
through the wood behind the village and have an accidental meeting with
someone who couldn't possibly appear but whom it would be quite adorable
to meet. Anyhow she conquered that.

She had a curious and rather morbid indisposition to go after lunch to
the station and meet Mr. Magnet as her mother wished her to do, in order
to bring him straight to the vicarage to early tea, but here again
reason prevailed and she went.

Mr. Magnet arrived by the 2.27, and to Marjorie's eye his alighting
presence had an effect of being not so much covered with laurels as
distended by them. His face seemed whiter and larger than ever. He waved
a great handful of newspapers.

"Hullo, Magsy!" he said. "They've given me a thumping Press. I'm nearer
swelled head than I've ever been, so mind how you touch me!"

"We'll take it down at croquet," said Marjorie.

"They've cleared that thing away?"

"And made up the lawn like a billiard table," she said.

"That makes for skill," he said waggishly. "I shall save my head after
all."

For a moment he seemed to loom towards kissing her, but she averted
this danger by a business-like concern for his bag. He entrusted this to
a porter, and reverted to the triumph of overnight so soon as they were
clear of the station. He was overflowing with kindliness towards his
fellow humorists, who had appeared in force and very generously at the
banquet, and had said the most charming things--some of which were in
one report and some in another, and some the reporters had missed
altogether--some of the kindliest.

"It's a pleasant feeling to think that a lot of good fellows think you
are a good fellow," said Mr. Magnet.

He became solicitous for her. How had she got on while he was away? She
asked him how one was likely to get on at Buryhamstreet; monoplanes
didn't fall every day, and as she said that it occurred to her she was
behaving meanly. But he was going on to his next topic before she could
qualify.

"I've got something in my pocket," he remarked, and playfully: "Guess."

She did, but she wouldn't. She had a curious sinking of the heart.

"I want you to see it before anyone else," he said. "Then if you don't
like it, it can go back. It's a sapphire."

He was feeling nervously in his pockets and then the little box was in
her hand.

She hesitated to open it. It made everything so dreadfully concrete. And
this time the sense of meanness was altogether acuter. He'd bought this
in London; he'd brought it down, hoping for her approval. Yes, it
was--horrid. But what was she to do?

"It's--awfully pretty," she said with the glittering symbol in her hand,
and indeed he had gone to one of those artistic women who are reviving
and improving upon the rich old Roman designs. "It's so beautifully
made."

"I'm so glad you like it. You really _do_ like it?"

"I don't deserve it."

"Oh! But you _do_ like it?"

"Enormously."

"Ah! I spent an hour in choosing it."

She could see him. She felt as though she had picked his pocket.

"Only I don't deserve it, Mr. Magnet. Indeed I don't. I feel I am taking
it on false pretences."

"Nonsense, Magsy. Nonsense! Slip it on your finger, girl."

"But I don't," she insisted.

He took the box from her, pocketed it and seized her hand. She drew it
away from him.

"No!" she said. "I feel like a cheat. You know, I don't--I'm sure I
don't love----"

"I'll love enough for two," he said, and got her hand again. "No!" he
said at her gesture, "you'll wear it. Why shouldn't you?"

And so Marjorie came back along the vicarage avenue with his ring upon
her hand. And Mr. Pope was evidently very glad to see him....

The family was still seated at tea upon rugs and wraps, and still
discussing humorists at play, when Professor Trafford appeared, leaning
on a large stick and limping, but resolute, by the church gate. "Pish!"
said Mr. Pope. Marjorie tried not to reveal a certain dismay, there was
dumb, rich approval in Daphne's eyes, and the pleasure of Theodore and
the pseudo-twins was only too scandalously evident. "Hoo-Ray!" said
Theodore, with ill-concealed relief.

Mrs. Pope was the incarnate invocation of tact as Trafford drew near.

"I hope," he said, with obvious insincerity, "I don't invade you. But
Solomonson is frightfully concerned and anxious about your lawn, and
whether his men cleared it up properly and put things right." His eye
went about the party and rested on Marjorie. "How are you?" he said, in
a friendly voice.

"Well, we seem to have got our croquet lawn back," said Mr. Pope. "And
our nerves are recovering. How is Sir Rupert?"

"A little fractious," said Trafford, with the ghost of a smile.

"You'll take some tea?" said Mrs. Pope in the pause that followed.

"Thank you," said Trafford and sat down instantly.

"I saw your jolly address in the _Standard_," he said to Magnet. "I
haven't read anything so amusing for some time."

"Rom dear," said Mrs. Pope, "will you take the pot in and get some fresh
tea?"

Mr. Trafford addressed himself to the flattery of Magnet with
considerable skill. He had detected a lurking hostility in the eyes of
the two gentlemen that counselled him to propitiate them if he meant to
maintain his footing in the vicarage, and now he talked to them almost
exclusively and ignored the ladies modestly but politely in the way that
seems natural and proper in a British middle-class house of the better
sort. But as he talked chiefly of the improvement of motor machinery
that had recently been shown at the Engineering Exhibition, he did not
make that headway with Marjorie's father that he had perhaps
anticipated. Mr. Pope fumed quietly for a time, and then suddenly spoke
out.

"I'm no lover of machines," he said abruptly, slashing across Mr.
Trafford's description. "All our troubles began with villainous
saltpetre. I'm an old-fashioned man with a nose--and a neck, and I don't
want the one offended or the other broken. No, don't ask me to be
interested in your valves and cylinders. What do you say, Magnet? It
starts machinery in my head to hear about them...."

On such occasions as this when Mr. Pope spoke out, his horror of an
anti-climax or any sort of contradiction was apt to bring the utterance
to a culmination not always to be distinguished from a flight. And now
he rose to his feet as he delivered himself.

"Who's for a game of tennis?" he said, "in this last uncontaminated
patch of air? I and Marjorie will give you a match, Daffy--if Magnet
isn't too tired to join you."

Daffy looked at Marjorie for an instant.

"We'll want you, Theodore, to look after the balls in the potatoes,"
said Mr. Pope lest that ingenuous mind should be corrupted behind his
back....

Mrs. Pope found herself left to entertain a slightly disgruntled
Trafford. Rom and Syd hovered on the off chance of notice, at the corner
of the croquet lawn nearest the tea things. Mrs. Pope had already
determined to make certain little matters clearer than they appeared to
be to this agreeable but superfluous person, and she was greatly
assisted by his opening upon the subject of her daughters. "Jolly tennis
looks," he said.

"Don't they?" said Mrs. Pope. "I think it is such a graceful game for a
girl."

Mr. Trafford glanced at Mrs. Pope's face, but her expression was
impenetrable.

"They both like it and play it so well," she said. "Their father is so
skillful and interested in games. Marjorie tells me you were her
examiner a year or so ago."

"Yes. She struck my memory--her work stood out."

"Of course she is clever," said Mrs. Pope. "Or we shouldn't have sent
her to Oxbridge. There she's doing quite well--quite well. Everyone says
so. I don't know, of course, if Mr. Magnet will let her finish there."

"Mr. Magnet?"

"She's just engaged to him. Of course she's frightfully excited about
it, and naturally he wants her to come away and marry. There's very
little excuse for a long engagement. No."

Her voice died in a musical little note, and she seemed to be
scrutinizing the tennis with an absorbed interest. "They've got new
balls," she said, as if to herself.

Trafford had rolled over, and she fancied she detected a change in his
voice when it came. "Isn't it rather a waste not to finish a university
career?" he said.

"Oh, it wouldn't be wasted. Of course a girl like that will be hand and
glove with her husband. She'll be able to help him with the scientific
side of his jokes and all that. I sometimes wish it had been Daffy who
had gone to college though. I sometimes think we've sacrificed Daffy a
little. She's not the bright quickness of Marjorie, but there's
something quietly solid about her mind--something _stable_. Perhaps I
didn't want her to go away from me.... Mr. Magnet is doing wonders at
the net. He's just begun to play--to please Marjorie. Don't you think
he's a dreadfully amusing man, Mr. Trafford? He says such _quiet_
things."


§ 9

The effect of this _éclaircissement_ upon Mr. Trafford was not what it
should have been. Properly he ought to have realized at once that
Marjorie was for ever beyond his aspirations, and if he found it too
difficult to regard her with equanimity, then he ought to have shunned
her presence. But instead, after his first shock of incredulous
astonishment, his spirit rose in a rebellion against arranged facts that
was as un-English as it was ungentlemanly. He went back to Solomonson
with a mood of thoughtful depression giving place to a growing passion
of indignation. He presented it to himself in a generalized and
altruistic form. "What the deuce is the good of all this talk of
Eugenics," he asked himself aloud, "if they are going to hand over that
shining girl to that beastly little area sneak?"

He called Mr. Magnet a "beastly little area sneak!"

Nothing could show more clearly just how much he had contrived to fall
in love with Marjorie during his brief sojourn in Buryhamstreet and the
acuteness of his disappointment, and nothing could be more eloquent of
his forcible and undisciplined temperament. And out of ten thousand
possible abusive epithets with which his mind was no doubt stored, this
one, I think, had come into his head because of the alert watchfulness
with which Mr. Magnet followed a conversation, as he waited his chance
for some neat but brilliant flash of comment....

Trafford, like Marjorie, was another of those undisciplined young people
our age has produced in such significant quantity. He was just
six-and-twenty, but the facts that he was big of build, had as an only
child associated much with grown-up people, and was already a
conspicuous success in the world of micro-chemical research, had given
him the self-reliance and assurance of a much older man. He had still to
come his croppers and learn most of the important lessons in life, and,
so far, he wasn't aware of it. He was naturally clean-minded, very busy
and interested in his work, and on remarkably friendly and confidential
terms with his mother who kept house for him, and though he had had
several small love disturbances, this was the first occasion that
anything of the kind had ploughed deep into his feelings and desires.

Trafford's father had died early in life. He had been a brilliant
pathologist, one of that splendid group of scientific investigators in
the middle Victorian period which shines ever more brightly as our
criticism dims their associated splendours, and he had died before he
was thirty through a momentary slip of the scalpel. His wife--she had
been his wife for five years--found his child and his memory and the
quality of the life he had made about her too satisfying for the risks
of a second marriage, and she had brought up her son with a passionate
belief in the high mission of research and the supreme duty of seeking
out and expressing truth finely. And here he was, calling Mr. Magnet a
"beastly little area sneak."

The situation perplexed him. Marjorie perplexed him. It was, had he
known it, the beginning for him of a lifetime of problems and
perplexities. He was absolutely certain she didn't love Magnet. Why,
then, had she agreed to marry him? Such pressures and temptations as he
could see about her seemed light to him in comparison with such an
undertaking.

Were they greater than he supposed?

His method of coming to the issue of that problem was entirely original.
He presented himself next afternoon with the air of an invited guest,
drove Mr. Pope who was suffering from liver, to expostulatory sulking in
the study, and expressed a passionate craving for golf-croquet, in spite
of Mrs. Pope's extreme solicitude for his still bandaged ankle. He was
partnered with Daffy, and for a long time he sought speech with Marjorie
in vain. At last he was isolated in a corner of the lawn, and with the
thinnest pretence of inadvertence, in spite of Daffy's despairing cry of
"She plays next!" he laid up within two yards of her. He walked across
to her as she addressed herself to her ball, and speaking in an
incredulous tone and with the air of a comment on the game, he said: "I
say, are you engaged to that chap Magnet?"

Marjorie was amazed, but remarkably not offended. Something in his tone
set her trembling. She forgot to play, and stood with her mallet hanging
in her hand.

"Punish him!" came the voice of Magnet from afar.

"Yes," she said faintly.

His remark came low and clear. It had a note of angry protest. "_Why?_"

Marjorie, by the way of answer, hit her ball so that it jumped and
missed his, ricochetted across the lawn and out of the ground on the
further side.

"I'm sorry if I've annoyed you," said Trafford, as Marjorie went after
her ball, and Daffy thanked heaven aloud for the respite.

They came together no more for a time, and Trafford, observant with
every sense, found no clue to the riddle of her grave, intent bearing.
She played very badly, and with unusual care and deliberation. He felt
he had made a mess of things altogether, and suddenly found his leg was
too painful to go on. "Partner," he asked, "will you play out my ball
for me? I can't go on. I shall have to go."

Marjorie surveyed him, while Daffy and Magnet expressed solicitude. He
turned to go, mallet in hand, and found Marjorie following him.

"Is that the heavier mallet?" she asked, and stood before him looking
into his eyes and weighing a mallet in either hand.

"Mr. Trafford, you're one of the worst examiners I've ever met," she
said.

He looked puzzled.

"I don't know _why_," said Marjorie, "I wonder as much as you. But I
am"; and seeing the light dawning in his eyes, she turned about, and
went back to the debacle of her game.


§ 10

After that Mr. Trafford had one clear desire in his being which ruled
all his other desires. He wanted a long, frank, unembarrassed and
uninterrupted conversation with Marjorie. He had a very strong
impression that Marjorie wanted exactly the same thing. For a week he
besieged the situation in vain. After the fourth day Solomonson was only
kept in Buryhamstreet by sheer will-power, exerted with a brutality that
threatened to end that friendship abruptly. He went home on the sixth
day in his largest car, but Trafford stayed on beyond the limits of
decency to perform some incomprehensible service that he spoke of as
"clearing up."

"I want," he said, "to clear up."

"But what _is_ there to clear up, my dear boy?"

"Solomonson, you're a pampered plutocrat," said Trafford, as though
everything was explained.

"I don't see any sense in it at all," said Solomonson, and regarded his
friend aslant with thick, black eyebrows raised.

"I'm going to stay," said Trafford.

And Solomonson said one of those unhappy and entirely disregarded things
that ought never to be said.

"There's some girl in this," said Solomonson.

"Your bedroom's always waiting for you at Riplings," he said, when at
last he was going off....

Trafford's conviction that Marjorie also wanted, with an almost equal
eagerness, the same opportunity for speech and explanations that he
desired, sustained him in a series of unjustifiable intrusions upon the
seclusion of the Popes. But although the manner of Mr. and Mrs. Pope did
change considerably for the better after his next visit, it was
extraordinary how impossible it seemed for him and Marjorie to achieve
their common end of an encounter.

Always something intervened.

In the first place, Mrs. Pope's disposition to optimism had got the
better of her earlier discretions, and a casual glance at Daphne's face
when their visitor reappeared started quite a new thread of
interpretations in her mind. She had taken the opportunity of hinting at
this when Mr. Pope asked over his shirt-stud that night, "What the devil
that--that chauffeur chap meant by always calling in the afternoon."

"Now that Will Magnet monopolizes Marjorie," she said, after a little
pause and a rustle or so, "I don't see why Daffy shouldn't have a little
company of her own age."

Mr. Pope turned round and stared at her. "I didn't think of that," he
said. "But, anyhow, I don't like the fellow."

"He seems to be rather clever," said Mrs. Pope, "though he certainly
talks too much. And after all it was Sir Rupert's aeroplane. _He_ was
only driving it to oblige."

"He'll think twice before he drives another," said Mr. Pope, wrenching
off his collar....

Once Mrs. Pope had turned her imagination in this more and more
agreeable direction, she was rather disposed, I am afraid, to let it
bolt with her. And it was a deflection that certainly fell in very
harmoniously with certain secret speculations of Daphne's. Trafford,
too, being quite unused to any sort of social furtiveness, did perhaps,
in order to divert attention from his preoccupation with Marjorie,
attend more markedly to Daphne than he would otherwise have done. And so
presently he found Daphne almost continuously on his hands. So far as
she was concerned, he might have told her the entire history of his
life, and every secret he had in the world, without let or hindrance.
Mrs. Pope, too, showed a growing appreciation of his company, became
sympathetic and confidential in a way that invited confidence, and threw
a lot of light on her family history and Daffy's character. She had
found Daffy a wonderful study, she said. Mr. Pope, too, seemed partly
reconciled to him. The idea that, after all, both motor cars and
monoplane were Sir Rupert's, and not Trafford's, had produced a reaction
in the latter gentleman's favour. Moreover, it had occurred to him that
Trafford's accident had perhaps disposed him towards a more thoughtful
view of mechanical traction, and that this tendency would be greatly
helped by a little genial chaff. So that he ceased to go indoors when
Trafford was there, and hung about, meditating and delivering sly digs
at this new victim of his ripe, old-fashioned humour.

Nor did it help Trafford in his quest for Marjorie and a free, outspoken
delivery that the pseudo-twins considered him a person of very
considerable charm, and that Theodore, though indisposed to "suck up" to
him publicly--I write here in Theodorese--did so desire intimate and
solitary communion with him, more particularly in view of the chances of
an adventitious aeroplane ride that seemed to hang about him--as to
stalk him persistently--hovering on the verge of groups, playing a
waiting game with a tennis ball and an old racquet, strolling artlessly
towards the gate of the avenue when the time seemed ripening for his
appearance or departure.

On the other hand, Marjorie was greatly entangled by Magnet.

Magnet was naturally an attentive lover; he was full of small
encumbering services, and it made him none the less assiduous to
perceive that Marjorie seemed to find no sort of pleasure in all the
little things he did. He seemed to think that if picking the very best
rose he could find for her did not cause a very perceptible brightening
in her, then it was all the more necessary quietly to force her racquet
from her hand and carry it for her, or help her ineffectually to cross a
foot-wide ditch, or offer to read her in a rich, abundant, well
modulated voice, some choice passage from "The Forest Lovers" of Mr.
Maurice Hewlett. And behind these devotions there was a streak of
jealousy. He knew as if by instinct that it was not wise to leave these
two handsome young people together; he had a queer little disagreeable
sensation whenever they spoke to one another or looked at one another.
Whenever Trafford and Marjorie found themselves in a group, there was
Magnet in the midst of them. He knew the value of his Marjorie, and did
not mean to lose her....

Being jointly baffled in this way was oddly stimulating to Marjorie's
and Trafford's mutual predisposition. If you really want to throw people
together, the thing to do--thank God for Ireland!--is to keep them
apart. By the fourth day of this emotional incubation, Marjorie was
thinking of Trafford to the exclusion of all her reading; and Trafford
was lying awake at nights--oh, for half an hour and more--thinking of
bold, decisive ways of getting at Marjorie, and bold, decisive things to
say to her when he did.

(But why she should be engaged to Magnet continued, nevertheless, to
puzzle him extremely. It was a puzzle to which no complete solution was
ever to be forthcoming....)


§ 11

At last that opportunity came. Marjorie had come with her mother into
the village, and while Mrs. Pope made some purchases at the general shop
she walked on to speak to Mrs. Blythe the washerwoman. Trafford suddenly
emerged from the Red Lion with a soda syphon under each arm. She came
forward smiling.

"I say," he said forthwith, "I want to talk with you--badly."

"And I," she said unhesitatingly, "with you."

"How can we?"

"There's always people about. It's absurd."

"We'll have to meet."

"Yes."

"I have to go away to-morrow. I ought to have gone two days ago. Where
_can_ we meet?"

She had it all prepared.

"Listen," she said. "There is a path runs from our shrubbery through a
little wood to a stile on the main road." He nodded. "Either I will be
there at three or about half-past five or--there's one more chance.
While father and Mr. Magnet are smoking at nine.... I might get away."

"Couldn't I write?"

"No. Impossible."

"I've no end of things to say...."

Mrs. Pope appeared outside her shop, and Trafford gesticulated a
greeting with the syphons. "All right," he said to Marjorie. "I'm
shopping," he cried as Mrs. Pope approached.


§ 12

All through the day Marjorie desired to go to Trafford and could not do
so. It was some minutes past nine when at last with a swift rustle of
skirts that sounded louder than all the world to her, she crossed the
dimly lit hall between dining-room and drawing-room and came into the
dreamland of moonlight upon the lawn. She had told her mother she was
going upstairs; at any moment she might be missed, but she would have
fled now to Trafford if an army pursued her. Her heart seemed beating in
her throat, and every fibre of her being was aquiver. She flitted past
the dining-room window like a ghost, she did not dare to glance aside at
the smokers within, and round the lawn to the shrubbery, and so under a
blackness of trees to the gate where he stood waiting. And there he was,
dim and mysterious and wonderful, holding the gate open for her, and she
was breathless, and speechless, and near sobbing. She stood before him
for a moment, her face moonlit and laced with the shadows of little
twigs, and then his arms came out to her.

"My darling," he said, "Oh, my darling!"

They had no doubt of one another or of anything in the world. They clung
together; their lips came together fresh and untainted as those first
lovers' in the garden.

"I will die for you," he said, "I will give all the world for you...."

They had thought all through the day of a hundred statements and
explanations they would make when this moment came, and never a word of
it all was uttered. All their anticipations of a highly strung eventful
conversation vanished, phrases of the most striking sort went like
phantom leaves before a gale. He held her and she clung to him between
laughing and sobbing, and both were swiftly and conclusively assured
their lives must never separate again.


§ 13

Marjorie never knew whether it was a moment or an age before her father
came upon them. He had decided to take a turn in the garden when Magnet
could no longer restrain himself from joining the ladies, and he chanced
to be stick in hand because that was his habit after twilight. So it was
he found them. She heard his voice falling through love and moonlight
like something that comes out of an immense distance.

"Good God!" he cried, "what next!"

But he still hadn't realized the worst.

"Daffy," he said, "what in the name of goodness----?"

Marjorie put her hands before her face too late.

"Good Lord!" he cried with a rising inflection, "it's Madge!"

Trafford found the situation difficult. "I should explain----"

But Mr. Pope was giving himself up to a towering rage. "You damned
scoundrel!" he said. "What the devil are you doing?" He seized Marjorie
by the arm and drew her towards him. "My poor misguided girl!" he said,
and suddenly she was tensely alive, a little cry of horror in her
throat, for her father, at a loss for words and full of heroic rage, had
suddenly swung his stick with passionate force, and struck at Trafford's
face. She heard the thud, saw Trafford wince and stiffen. For a
perfectly horrible moment it seemed to her these men, their faces
queerly distorted by the shadows of the branches in the slanting
moonlight, might fight. Then she heard Trafford's voice, sounding cool
and hard, and she knew that he would do nothing of the kind. In that
instant if there had remained anything to win in Marjorie it was
altogether won. "I asked your daughter to meet me here," he said.

"Be off with you, sir!" cried Mr. Pope. "Don't tempt me further, sir,"
and swung his stick again. But now the force had gone out of him.
Trafford stood with a hand out ready for him, and watched his face.

"I asked your daughter to meet me here, and she came. I am prepared to
give you any explanation----"

"If you come near this place again----"

For some moments Marjorie's heart had been held still, now it was
beating violently. She felt this scene must end. "Mr. Trafford," she
said, "will you go. Go now. Nothing shall keep us apart!"

Mr. Pope turned on her. "Silence, girl!" he said.

"I shall come to you to-morrow," said Trafford.

"Yes," said Marjorie, "to-morrow."

"Marjorie!" said Mr. Pope, "_will_ you go indoors."

"I have done nothing----"

"Be off, sir."

"I have done nothing----"

"Will you be off, sir? And you, Marjorie--will you go indoors?"

He came round upon her, and after one still moment of regard for
Trafford--and she looked very beautiful in the moonlight with her hair a
little disordered and her face alight--she turned to precede her father
through the shrubbery.

Mr. Pope hesitated whether he should remain with Trafford.

A perfectly motionless man is very disconcerting.

"Be off, sir," he said over his shoulder, lowered through a threatening
second, and followed her.

But Trafford remained stiffly with a tingling temple down which a little
thread of blood was running, until their retreating footsteps had died
down into that confused stirring of little sounds which makes the
stillness of an English wood at night.

Then he roused himself with a profound sigh, and put a hand to his cut
and bruised cheek.

"_Well!_" he said.



CHAPTER THE FOURTH

CRISIS


§ 1

Crisis prevailed in Buryhamstreet that night. On half a dozen sleepless
pillows souls communed with the darkness, and two at least of those
pillows were wet with tears.

Not one of those wakeful heads was perfectly clear about the origins and
bearings of the trouble; not even Mr. Pope felt absolutely sure of
himself. It had come as things come to people nowadays, because they
will not think things out, much less talk things out, and are therefore
in a hopeless tangle of values that tightens sooner or later to a
knot....

What an uncharted perplexity, for example, was the mind of that
excellent woman Mrs. Pope!

Poor lady! she hadn't a stable thing in her head. It is remarkable that
some queer streak in her composition sympathized with Marjorie's passion
for Trafford. But she thought it such a pity! She fought that sympathy
down as if it were a wicked thing. And she fought too against other
ideas that rose out of the deeps and did not so much come into her mind
as cluster at the threshold, the idea that Marjorie was in effect grown
up, a dozen queer criticisms of Magnet, and a dozen subtle doubts
whether after all Marjorie was going to be happy with him as she assured
herself the girl would be. (So far as any one knew Trafford might be an
excellent match!) And behind these would-be invaders of her guarded mind
prowled even worse ones, doubts, horrible disloyal doubts, about the
wisdom and kindness of Mr. Pope.

Quite early in life Mrs. Pope had realized that it is necessary to be
very careful with one's thoughts. They lead to trouble. She had clipped
the wings of her own mind therefore so successfully that all her
conclusions had become evasions, all her decisions compromises. Her
profoundest working conviction was a belief that nothing in the world
was of value but "tact," and that the art of living was to "tide things
over." But here it seemed almost beyond her strength to achieve any sort
of tiding over....

(Why _couldn't_ Mr. Pope lie quiet?)

Whatever she said or did had to be fitted to the exigencies of Mr. Pope.

Availing himself of the privileges of matrimony, her husband so soon as
Mr. Magnet had gone and they were upstairs together, had explained the
situation with vivid simplicity, and had gone on at considerable length
and with great vivacity to enlarge upon his daughter's behaviour. He
ascribed this moral disaster,--he presented it as a moral disaster of
absolutely calamitous dimensions--entirely to Mrs. Pope's faults and
negligences. Warming with his theme he had employed a number of homely
expressions rarely heard by decent women except in these sacred
intimacies, to express the deep indignation of a strong man moved to
unbridled speech by the wickedness of those near and dear to him. Still
warming, he raised his voice and at last shouted out his more forcible
meanings, until she feared the servants and children might hear, waved a
clenched fist at imaginary Traffords and scoundrels generally, and
giving way completely to his outraged virtue, smote and kicked blameless
articles of furniture in a manner deeply impressive to the feminine
intelligence.

Finally he sat down in the little arm-chair between her and the cupboard
where she was accustomed to hang up her clothes, stuck out his legs very
stiffly across the room, and despaired of his family in an obtrusive and
impregnable silence for an enormous time.

All of which awakened a deep sense of guilt and unworthiness in Mrs.
Pope's mind, and prevented her going to bed, but did not help her in the
slightest degree to grasp the difficulties of the situation....

She would have lain awake anyhow, but she was greatly helped in this by
Mr. Pope's restlessness. He was now turning over from left to right or
from right to left at intervals of from four to seven minutes, and such
remarks as "Damned scoundrel! Get out of this!" or "_My_ daughter and
degrade yourself in this way!" or "Never let me see your face again!"
"Plight your troth to one man, and fling yourself shamelessly--I repeat
it, Marjorie, shamelessly--into the arms of another!" kept Mrs. Pope
closely in touch with the general trend of his thoughts.

She tried to get together her plans and perceptions rather as though she
swept up dead leaves on a gusty day. She knew that the management of the
whole situation rested finally on her, and that whatever she did or did
not do, or whatever arose to thwart her arrangements, its entire tale of
responsibility would ultimately fall upon her shoulders. She wondered
what was to be done with Marjorie, with Mr. Magnet? Need he know? Could
that situation be saved? Everything at present was raw in her mind.
Except for her husband's informal communications she did not even know
what had appeared, what Daffy had seen, what Magnet thought of
Marjorie's failure to bid him good-night. For example, had Mr. Magnet
noticed Mr. Pope's profound disturbance? She had to be ready to put a
face on things before morning, and it seemed impossible she could do so.
In times of crisis, as every woman knows, it is always necessary to
misrepresent everything to everybody, but how she was to dovetail her
misrepresentations, get the best effect from them, extract a working
system of rights and wrongs from them, she could not imagine....

(Oh! she did so wish Mr. Pope would lie quiet.)

But he had no doubts of what became _him_. He had to maintain a splendid
and irrational rage--at any cost--to anybody.


§ 2

A few yards away, a wakeful Marjorie confronted a joyless universe. She
had a baffling realization that her life was in a hopeless mess, that
she really had behaved disgracefully, and that she couldn't for a moment
understand how it had happened. She had intended to make quite sure of
Trafford--and then put things straight.

Only her father had spoilt everything.

She regarded her father that night with a want of natural affection
terrible to record. Why had he come just when he had, just as he had?
Why had he been so violent, so impossible?

Of course, she had no business to be there....

She examined her character with a new unprecedented detachment. Wasn't
she, after all, rather a mean human being? It had never occurred to her
before to ask such a question. Now she asked it with only too clear a
sense of the answer. She tried to trace how these multiplying threads of
meanness had first come into the fabric of a life she had supposed
herself to be weaving in extremely bright, honourable, and adventurous
colours. She ought, of course, never to have accepted Magnet....

She faced the disagreeable word; was she a liar?

At any rate, she told lies.

And she'd behaved with extraordinary meanness to Daphne. She realized
that now. She had known, as precisely as if she had been told, how
Daphne felt about Trafford, and she'd never given her an inkling of her
own relations. She hadn't for a moment thought of Daphne. No wonder
Daffy was sombre and bitter. Whatever she knew, she knew enough. She had
heard Trafford's name in urgent whispers on the landing. "I suppose you
couldn't leave him alone," Daffy had said, after a long hostile silence.
That was all. Just a sentence without prelude or answer flung across the
bedroom, revealing a perfect understanding--deeps of angry
disillusionment. Marjorie had stared and gasped, and made no answer.

Would she ever see him again? After this horror of rowdy intervention?
She didn't deserve to; she didn't deserve anything.... Oh, the tangle of
it all! The tangle of it all! And those bills at Oxbridge! She was just
dragging Trafford down into her own miserable morass of a life.

Her thoughts would take a new turn. "I love him," she whispered
soundlessly. "I would die for him. I would like to lie under his
feet--and him not know it."

Her mind hung on that for a long time. "Not know it until afterwards,"
she corrected.

She liked to be exact, even in despair....

And then in her memory he was struck again, and stood stiff and still.
She wanted to kneel to him, imagined herself kneeling....

And so on, quite inconclusively, round and round through the
interminable night hours.


§ 3

The young man in the village was, if possible, more perplexed,
round-eyed and generally inconclusive than anyone else in this series of
nocturnal disturbances. He spent long intervals sitting on his
window-sill regarding a world that was scented with nightstock, and
seemed to be woven of moonshine and gossamer. Being an inexpert and
infrequent soliloquist, his only audible comment on his difficulties was
the repetition in varying intonations of his fervent, unalterable
conviction that he was damned. But behind this simple verbal mask was a
great fury of mental activity.

He had something of Marjorie's amazement at the position of affairs.

He had never properly realized that it was possible for any one to
regard Marjorie as a daughter, to order her about and resent the
research for her society as criminal. It was a new light in his world.
Some day he was to learn the meaning of fatherhood, but in these night
watches he regarded it as a hideous survival of mediæval darknesses.

"Of course," he said, entirely ignoring the actual quality of their
conversation, "she had to explain about the Magnet affair. Can't
one--converse?"

He reflected through great intervals.

"I _will_ see her! Why on earth shouldn't I see her?"

"I suppose they can't lock her up!"

For a time he contemplated a writ of Habeas Corpus. He saw reason to
regret the gaps in his legal knowledge.

"Can any one get a writ of Habeas Corpus for any one--it doesn't matter
whom"--more especially if you are a young man of six-and-twenty,
anxious to exchange a few richly charged words with a girl of twenty
who is engaged to someone else?

The night had no answer.

It was nearly dawn when he came to the entirely inadvisable
conclusion--I use his own word's--to go and have it out with the old
ruffian. He would sit down and ask him what he meant by it all--and
reason with him. If he started flourishing that stick again, it would
have to be taken away.

And having composed a peroration upon the institution of the family of a
character which he fondly supposed to be extraordinarily tolerant,
reasonable and convincing, but which was indeed calculated to madden Mr.
Pope to frenzy, Mr. Trafford went very peacefully to sleep.


§ 4

Came dawn, with a noise of birds and afterwards a little sleep, and then
day, and heavy eyes opened again, and the sound of frying and the smell
of coffee recalled our actors to the stage. Mrs. Pope was past her worst
despair; always the morning brings courage and a clearer grasp of
things, and she could face the world with plans shaped subconsciously
during those last healing moments of slumber.

Breakfast was difficult, but not impossible. Mr. Pope loomed like a
thundercloud, but Marjorie pleaded a headache very wisely, and was taken
a sympathetic cup of tea. The pseudo-twins scented trouble, but Theodore
was heedless and over-full of an entertaining noise made by a moorhen as
it dived in the ornamental water that morning. You could make it
practically _sotto voce_, and it amused Syd. He seemed to think the
_Times_ opaque to such small sounds, and learnt better only to be
dismissed underfed and ignominiously from the table to meditate upon the
imperfections of his soul in the schoolroom. There for a time he was
silent, and then presently became audible again, playing with a ball
and, presumably, Marjorie's tennis racquet.

Directly she could disentangle herself from breakfast Mrs. Pope, with
all her plans acute, went up to the girls' room. She found her daughter
dressing in a leisurely and meditative manner. She shut the door almost
confidentially. "Marjorie," she said, "I want you to tell me all about
this."

"I thought I heard father telling you," said Marjorie.

"He was too indignant," said Mrs. Pope, "to explain clearly. You see,
Marjorie"--she paused before her effort--"he knows things--about this
Professor Trafford."

"What things?" asked Marjorie, turning sharply.

"I don't know, my dear--and I can't imagine."

She looked out of the window, aware of Marjorie's entirely distrustful
scrutiny.

"I don't believe it," said Marjorie.

"Don't believe what, dear?"

"Whatever he says."

"I wish I didn't," said Mrs. Pope, and turned. "Oh, Madge," she cried,
"you cannot imagine how all this distresses me! I cannot--I cannot
conceive how you came to be in such a position! Surely honour----! Think
of Mr. Magnet, how good and patient he has been! You don't know that
man. You don't know all he is, and all that it means to a girl. He is
good and honourable and--pure. He is kindness itself. It seemed to me
that you were to be so happy--rich, honoured."

She was overcome by a rush of emotion; she turned to the bed and sat
down.

"_There!_" she said desolately. "It's all ruined, shattered, gone."

Marjorie tried not to feel that her mother was right.

"If father hadn't interfered," she said weakly.

"Oh, don't, my dear, speak so coldly of your father! You don't know what
he has to put up with. You don't know his troubles and anxieties--all
this wretched business." She paused, and her face became portentous.
"Marjorie, do you know if these railways go on as they are going he may
have to _eat into his capital_ this year. Just think of that, and the
worry he has! And this last shame and anxiety!"

Her voice broke again. Marjorie listened with an expression that was
almost sullen.

"But what is it," she asked, "that father knows about Mr. Trafford?"

"I don't know, dear. I don't know. But it's something that matters--that
makes it all different."

"Well, may I speak to Mr. Trafford before he leaves Buryhamstreet?"

"My dear! Never see him, dear--never think of him again! Your father
would not dream----Some day, Marjorie, you will rejoice--you will want
to thank your father on your bended knees that he saved you from the
clutches of this man...."

"I won't believe anything about Mr. Trafford," she said slowly, "until I
know----"

She left the sentence incomplete.

She made her declaration abruptly. "I love Mr. Trafford," she said, with
a catch in her voice, "and I don't love Mr. Magnet."

Mrs. Pope received this like one who is suddenly stabbed. She sat still
as if overwhelmed, one hand pressed to her side and her eyes closed.
Then she said, as if she gasped involuntarily--

"It's too dreadful! Marjorie," she said, "I want to ask you to do
something. After all, a mother has _some_ claim. Will you wait just a
little. Will you promise me to do nothing--nothing, I mean, to commit
you--until your father has been able to make inquiries. Don't _see_ him
for a little while. Very soon you'll be one-and-twenty, and then perhaps
things may be different. If he cares for you, and you for him, a little
separation won't matter.... Until your father has inquired...."

"Mother," said Marjorie, "I can't----"

Mrs. Pope drew in the air sharply between her teeth, as if in agony.

"But, mother----Mother, I _must_ let Mr. Trafford know that I'm not to
see him. I _can't_ suddenly cease.... If I could see him once----"

"Don't!" said Mrs. Pope, in a hollow voice.

Marjorie began weeping. "He'd not understand," she said. "If I might
just speak to him!"

"Not alone, Marjorie."

Marjorie stood still. "Well--before you."

Mrs. Pope conceded the point. "And then, Marjorie----" she said.

"I'd keep my word, mother," said Marjorie, and began to sob in a manner
she felt to be absurdly childish--"until--until I am one-and-twenty. I'd
promise that."

Mrs. Pope did a brief calculation. "Marjorie," she said, "it's only your
happiness I think of."

"I know," said Marjorie, and added in a low voice, "and father."

"My dear, you don't understand your father.... I believe--I do firmly
believe--if anything happened to any of you girls--anything bad--he
would kill himself.... And I know he means that you aren't to go about
so much as you used to do, unless we have the most definite promises. Of
course, your father's ideas aren't always my ideas, Marjorie; but it's
your duty--You know how hasty he is and--quick. Just as you know how
good and generous and kind he is"--she caught Marjorie's eye, and added
a little lamely--"at bottom." ... She thought. "I think I could get him
to let you say just one word with Mr. Trafford. It would be very
difficult, but----"

She paused for a few seconds, and seemed to be thinking deeply.

"Marjorie," she said, "Mr. Magnet must never know anything of this."

"But, mother----!"

"Nothing!"

"I can't go on with my engagement!"

Mrs. Pope shook her head inscrutably.

"But how _can_ I, mother?"

"You need not tell him _why_, Marjorie."

"But----"

"Just think how it would humiliate and distress him! You _can't_,
Marjorie. You must find some excuse--oh, any excuse! But not the
truth--not the truth, Marjorie. It would be too dreadful."

Marjorie thought. "Look here, mother, I _may_ see Mr. Trafford again? I
_may_ really speak to him?"

"Haven't I promised?"

"Then, I'll do as you say," said Marjorie.


§ 5

Mrs. Pope found her husband seated at the desk in the ultra-Protestant
study, meditating gloomily.

"I've been talking to her," she said, "She's in a state of terrible
distress."

"She ought to be," said Mr. Pope.

"Philip, you don't understand Marjorie."

"I don't."

"You think she was kissing that man."

"Well, she was."

"You can think _that_ of her!"

Mr. Pope turned his chair to her. "But I _saw!_"

Mrs. Pope shook her head. "She wasn't; she was struggling to get away
from him. She told me so herself. I've been into it with her. You don't
understand, Philip. A man like that has a sort of fascination for a
girl. He dazzles her. It's the way with girls. But you're quite
mistaken.... Quite. It's a sort of hypnotism. She'll grow out of it. Of
course, she _loves_ Mr. Magnet. She does indeed. I've not a doubt of it.
But----"

"You're _sure_ she wasn't kissing him?"

"Positive."

"Then why didn't you say so?"

"A girl's so complex. You didn't give her a chance. She's fearfully
ashamed of herself--fearfully! but it's just because she _is_ ashamed
that she won't admit it."

"I'll make her admit it."

"You ought to have had all boys," said Mrs. Pope. "Oh! she'll admit it
some day--readily enough. But I believe a girl of her spirit would
rather _die_ than begin explaining. You can't expect it of her. Really
you can't."

He grunted and shook his head slowly from side to side.

She sat down in the arm-chair beside the desk.

"I want to know just exactly what we are to do about the girl, Philip. I
can't bear to think of her--up there."

"How?" he asked. "Up there?"

"Yes," she answered with that skilful inconsecutiveness of hers, and let
a brief silence touch his imagination. "Do you think that man means to
come here again?" she asked.

"Chuck him out if he does," said Mr. Pope, grimly.

She pressed her lips together firmly. She seemed to be weighing things
painfully. "I wouldn't," she said at last.

"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Pope.

"I do not want you to make an open quarrel with Mr. Trafford."

"_Not_ quarrel!"

"Not an open one," said Mrs. Pope. "Of course I know how nice it would
be if you _could_ use a horsewhip, dear. There's such a lot of
things--if we only just slash. But--it won't help. Get him to go away.
She's consented never to see him again--practically. She's ready to tell
him so herself. Part them against their will--oh! and the thing may go
on for no end of time. But treat it as it ought to be treated--She'll be
very tragic for a week or so, and then she'll forget him like a dream.
He _is_ a dream--a girl's dream.... If only we leave it alone, she'll
leave it alone."


§ 6

Things were getting straight, Mrs. Pope felt. She had now merely to add
a few touches to the tranquillization of Daphne, and the misdirection of
the twin's curiosity. These touches accomplished, it seemed that
everything was done. After a brief reflection, she dismissed the idea of
putting things to Theodore. She ran over the possibilities of the
servants eavesdropping, and found them negligible. Yes, everything was
done--everything. And yet....

The queer string in her nature between religiosity and superstition
began to vibrate. She hesitated. Then she slipped upstairs, fastened the
door, fell on her knees beside the bed and put the whole thing as
acceptably as possible to Heaven in a silent, simple, but lucidly
explanatory prayer....

She came out of her chamber brighter and braver than she had been for
eighteen long hours. She could now, she felt, await the developments
that threatened with the serenity of one who is prepared at every point.
She went almost happily to the kitchen, only about forty-five minutes
behind her usual time, to order the day's meals and see with her own
eyes that economies prevailed. And it seemed to her, on the whole,
consoling, and at any rate a distraction, when the cook informed her
that after all she _had_ meant to give notice on the day of aunt
Plessington's visit.


§ 7

The unsuspecting Magnet, fatigued but happy--for three hours of solid
humorous writing (omitting every unpleasant suggestion and mingling in
the most acceptable and saleable proportions smiles and tears) had added
its quota to the intellectual heritage of England, made a simple light
lunch cooked in homely village-inn fashion, lit a well merited cigar,
and turned his steps towards the vicarage. He was preceded at some
distance along the avenuesque drive by the back of Mr. Trafford, which
he made no attempt to overtake.

Mr. Trafford was admitted and disappeared, and a minute afterwards
Magnet reached the door.

Mrs. Pope appeared radiant--about the weather. A rather tiresome man had
just called upon Mr. Pope about business matters, she said, and he
might be detained five or ten minutes. Marjorie and Daffy were
upstairs--resting. They had been disturbed by bats in the night.

"Isn't it charmingly rural?" said Mrs. Pope. "_Bats!_"

She talked about bats and the fear she had of their getting in her hair,
and as she talked she led the way brightly but firmly as far as possible
out of earshot of the windows of the ultra Protestant study in which Mr.
Pope was now (she did so hope temperately) interviewing Mr. Trafford.


§ 8

Directly Mr. Trafford had reached the front door it had opened for him,
and closed behind him at once. He had found himself with Mrs. Pope. "You
wish to see my husband?" she had said, and had led him to the study
forthwith. She had returned at once to intercept Mr. Magnet....

Trafford found Mr. Pope seated sternly at the centre of the writing
desk, regarding him with a threatening brow.

"Well, sir," said Mr. Pope breaking the silence, "you have come to offer
some explanation----"

While awaiting this encounter Mr. Pope had not been insensitive to the
tactical and scenic possibilities of the occasion. In fact, he had spent
the latter half of the morning in intermittent preparations, arranging
desks, books, hassocks in advantageous positions, and not even
neglecting such small details as the stamp tray, the articles of
interest from Jerusalem, and the rock-crystal cenotaph, which he had
exhibited in such a manner as was most calculated to damp, chill and
subjugate an antagonist in the exposed area towards the window. He had
also arranged the chairs in a highly favourable pattern.

Mr. Trafford was greatly taken aback by Mr. Pope's juridical manner and
by this form of address, and he was further put out by Mr. Pope saying
with a regal gesture to the best illuminated and most isolated chair:
"Be seated, sir."

Mr. Trafford's exordium vanished from his mind, he was at a loss for
words until spurred to speech by Mr. Pope's almost truculent: "Well?"

"I am in love sir, with your daughter."

"I am not aware of it," said Mr. Pope, and lifted and dropped the
paper-weight. "My daughter, sir, is engaged to marry Mr. Magnet. If you
had approached me in a proper fashion before presuming to attempt--to
attempt----" His voice thickened with indignation,--"Liberties with her,
you would have been duly informed of her position--and everyone would
have been saved"--he lifted the paper-weight. "Everything that has
happened." (Bump.)

Mr. Trafford had to adjust himself to the unexpected elements in this
encounter. "Oh!" he said.

"Yes," said Mr. Pope, and there was a distinct interval.

"Is your daughter in love with Mr. Magnet?" asked Mr. Trafford in an
almost colloquial tone.

Mr. Pope smiled gravely. "I presume so, sir."

"She never gave me that impression, anyhow," said the young man.

"It was neither her duty to give nor yours to receive that impression,"
said Mr. Pope.

Again Mr. Trafford was at a loss.

"Have you come here, sir, merely to bandy words?" asked Mr. Pope,
drumming with ten fingers on the table.

Mr. Trafford thrust his hands into his pockets and assumed a fictitious
pose of ease. He had never found any one in his life before quite so
provocative of colloquialism as Mr. Pope.

"Look here, sir, this is all very well," he began, "but why can't I fall
in love with your daughter? I'm a Doctor of Science and all that sort of
thing. I've a perfectly decent outlook. My father was rather a swell in
his science. I'm an entirely decent and respectable person."

"I beg to differ," said Mr. Pope.

"But I am."

"Again," said Mr. Pope, with great patience, and a slight forward bowing
of the head, "I beg to differ."

"Well--differ. But all the same----"

He paused and began again, and for a time they argued to no purpose.
They generalized about the position of an engaged girl and the rights
and privileges of a father. Then Mr. Pope, "to cut all this short," told
him frankly he wasn't wanted, his daughter did not want him, nobody
wanted him; he was an invader, he had to be got rid of--"if possible by
peaceful means." Trafford disputed these propositions, and asked to see
Marjorie. Mr. Pope had been leading up to this, and at once closed with
that request.

"She is as anxious as any one to end this intolerable siege," he said.
He went to the door and called for Marjorie, who appeared with
conspicuous promptitude. She was in a dress of green linen that made her
seem very cool as well as very dignified to Trafford; she was tense with
restrained excitement, and either--for these things shade into each
other--entirely without a disposition to act her part or acting with
consummate ability. Trafford rose at the sight of her, and remained
standing. Mr. Pope closed the door and walked back to the desk. "Mr.
Trafford has to be told," he said, "that you don't want him in
Buryhamstreet." He arrested Marjorie's forward movement towards Trafford
by a gesture of the hand, seated himself, and resumed his drumming on
the table. "Well?" he said.

"I don't think you ought to stay in Buryhamstreet, Mr. Trafford," said
Marjorie.

"You don't want me to?"

"It will only cause trouble--and scenes."

"You want me to go?"

"Away from here."

"You really mean that?"

Marjorie did not answer for a little time; she seemed to be weighing the
exact force of all she was going to say.

"Mr. Trafford," she answered, "everything I've ever said to
you--everything--I've _meant_, more than I've ever meant anything.
Everything!"

A little flush of colour came into Trafford's cheeks. He regarded
Marjorie with a brightening eye.

"Oh well," he said, "I don't understand. But I'm entirely in your hands,
of course."

Marjorie's pose and expression altered. For an instant she was a miracle
of instinctive expression, she shone at him, she conveyed herself to
him, she assured him. Her eyes met his, she stood warmly flushed and
quite unconquered--visibly, magnificently _his_. She poured into him
just that riotous pride and admiration that gives a man altogether to a
woman.... Then it seemed as if a light passed, and she was just an
everyday Marjorie standing there.

"I'll do anything you want me to," said Trafford.

"Then I want you to go."

"Ah!" said Mr. Pope.

"Yes," said Trafford, with his eyes on her self-possession.

"I've promised not to write or send to you, or--think more than I can
help of you, until I'm twenty-one--nearly two months from now."

"And then?"

"I don't know. How can I?"

"You hear, sir?" from Mr. Pope, in the pause of mutual scrutiny that
followed.

"One question," said Mr. Trafford.

"You've surely asked enough, sir," said Mr. Pope.

"Are you still engaged to Magnet?"

"Sir!"

"Please, father;" said Marjorie, with unusual daring and in her mother's
voice. "Mr. Trafford, after what I've told you--you must leave that to
me."

"She _is_ engaged to Mr. Magnet," said Mr. Pope. "Tell him outright,
Marjorie. Make it clear."

"I think I understand," said Trafford, with his eyes on Marjorie.

"I've not seen Mr. Magnet since last night," said Marjorie. "And
so--naturally--I'm still engaged to him."

"Precisely!" said Mr. Pope, and turned with a face of harsh
interrogation to his importunate caller. Mr. Trafford seemed disposed
for further questions. "I don't think we need detain you, Madge," said
Mr. Pope, over his shoulder.

The two young people stood facing one another for a moment, and I am
afraid that they were both extremely happy and satisfied with each
other. It was all right, they were quite sure--all right. Their lips
were almost smiling. Then Marjorie made an entirely dignified exit. She
closed the door very softly, and Mr. Pope turned to his visitor again
with a bleak politeness. "I hope that satisfies you," he said.

"There is nothing more to be said at present, I admit," said Mr.
Trafford.

"Nothing," said Mr. Pope.

Both gentlemen bowed. Mr. Pope rose ceremoniously, and Mr. Trafford
walked doorward. He had a sense of latent absurdities in these
tremendous attitudes. They passed through the hall--processionally. But
just at the end some lower strain in Mr. Trafford's nature touched the
fine dignity of the occasion with an inappropriate remark.

"Good-bye, sir," said Mr. Pope, holding the housedoor wide.

"Good-bye, sir," said Mr. Trafford, and then added with a note of
untimely intimacy in his voice, with an inexcusable levity upon his
lips: "You know--there's nobody--no man in the world--I'd sooner have
for a father-in-law than you."

Mr. Pope, caught unprepared on the spur of the moment, bowed in a cold
and distant manner, and then almost immediately closed the door to save
himself from violence....

From first to last neither gentleman had made the slightest allusion to
a considerable bruise upon Mr. Trafford's left cheek, and a large
abrasion above his ear.


§ 9

That afternoon Marjorie began her difficult task of getting disengaged
from Mr. Magnet. It was difficult because she was pledged not to tell
him of the one thing that made this line of action not only explicable,
but necessary. Magnet, perplexed, and disconcerted, and secretly
sustained by her mother's glancing sidelights on the feminine character
and the instability of "girlish whims," remained at Buryhamstreet until
the family returned to Hartstone Square. The engagement was
ended--formally--but in such a manner that Magnet was left a rather
pathetic and invincibly assiduous besieger. He lavished little presents
upon both sisters, he devised little treats for the entire family, he
enriched Theodore beyond the dreams of avarice, and he discussed his
love and admiration for Marjorie, and the perplexities and delicacies of
the situation not only with Mrs. Pope, but with Daphne. At first he had
thought very little of Daphne, but now he was beginning to experience
the subtle pleasures of a confidential friendship. She understood, he
felt; it was quite wonderful how she understood. He found Daffy much
richer in response than Marjorie, and far less disconcerting in
reply....

Mr. Pope, for all Marjorie's submission to his wishes, developed a Grand
Dudgeon of exceptionally fine proportions when he heard of the breach of
the engagement. He ceased to speak to his daughter or admit himself
aware of her existence, and the Grand Dudgeon's blighting shadow threw a
chill over the life of every one in the house. He made it clear that the
Grand Dudgeon would only be lifted by Marjorie's re-engagement to
Magnet, and that whatever blight or inconvenience fell on the others was
due entirely to Marjorie's wicked obstinacy. Using Mrs. Pope as an
intermediary, he also conveyed to Marjorie his decision to be no longer
burthened with the charges of her education at Oxbridge, and he made it
seem extremely doubtful whether he should remember her approaching
twenty-first birthday.

Marjorie received the news of her severance from Oxbridge, Mrs. Pope
thought, with a certain hardness.

"I thought he would do that," said Marjorie. "He's always wanted to do
that," and said no more.



CHAPTER THE FIFTH

A TELEPHONE CALL


§ 1

Trafford went back to Solomonson for a day or so, and then to London, to
resume the experimental work of the research he had in hand. But he was
so much in love with Marjorie that for some days it was a very dazed
mind that fumbled with the apparatus--arranged it and rearranged it, and
fell into daydreams that gave the utmost concern to Durgan the
bottle-washer.

"He's not going straight at things," said Durgan the bottle-washer to
his wife. "He usually goes so straight at things it's a pleasure to
watch it. He told me he was going down into Kent to think everything
out." Mr. Durgan paused impressively, and spoke with a sigh of
perplexity. "He hasn't...."

But later Durgan was able to report that Trafford had pulled himself
together. The work was moving.

"I was worried for a bit," said Mr. Durgan. "But I _think_ it's all
right again. I _believe_ it's all right again."


§ 2

Trafford was one of those rare scientific men who really ought to be
engaged in scientific research.

He could never leave an accepted formula alone. His mind was like some
insatiable corrosive, that ate into all the hidden inequalities and
plastered weaknesses of accepted theories, and bit its way through
every plausibility of appearance. He was extraordinarily fertile in
exasperating alternative hypotheses. His invention of destructive test
experiments was as happy as the respectful irony with which he brought
them into contact with the generalizations they doomed. He was already,
at six-and-twenty, hated, abused, obstructed, and respected. He was
still outside the Royal Society, of course, and the editors of the
scientific periodicals admired his papers greatly, and delayed
publication; but it was fairly certain that that pressure of foreign
criticism and competition which prevents English scientific men of good
family and social position from maintaining any such national standards
as we are able to do in art, literature, and politics, would finally
carry him in. And since he had a small professorship worth three hundred
a year, which gave him the command of a sufficient research laboratory
and the services of Mr. Durgan, a private income of nearly three hundred
more, a devoted mother to keep house for him, and an invincible faith in
Truth, he had every prospect of winning in his particular struggle to
inflict more Truth, new lucidities, and fresh powers upon this fractious
and unreasonable universe.

In the world of science now, even more than in the world of literature
and political thought, the thing that is alive struggles,
half-suffocated, amidst a copious production of things born dead. The
endowment of research, the organization of scientific progress, the
creation of salaried posts, and the assignment of honours, has attracted
to this field just that type of man which is least gifted to penetrate
and discover, and least able to admit its own defect or the quality of a
superior. Such men are producing great, bulky masses of imitative
research, futile inquiries, and monstrous entanglements of technicality
about their subjects; and it is to their instinctive antagonism to the
idea of a "gift" in such things that we owe the preposterous conception
of a training for research, the manufacture of mental blinkers that is
to say, to avoid what is the very soul of brilliant inquiry--applicable
discursiveness. The trained investigator is quite the absurdest figure
in the farce of contemporary intellectual life; he is like a bath-chair
perpetually starting to cross the Himalayas by virtue of a licence to do
so. For such enterprises one must have wings. Organization and genius
are antipathetic. The vivid and creative mind, by virtue of its
qualities, is a spasmodic and adventurous mind; it resents blinkers, and
the mere implication that it can be driven in harness to the unexpected.
It demands freedom. It resents regular attendance from ten to four and
punctualities in general and all those paralyzing minor tests of conduct
that are vitally important to the imagination of the authoritative dull.
Consequently, it is being eliminated from its legitimate field, and it
is only here and there among the younger men that such a figure as
Trafford gives any promise of a renewal of that enthusiasm, that
intellectual enterprise, which were distinctive of the great age of
scientific advance.

Trafford was the only son of his parents. His father had been a young
surgeon, more attracted by knowledge than practice, who had been killed
by a scratch of the scalpel in an investigation upon ulcerative
processes, at the age of twenty-nine. Trafford at that time was three
years old, so that he had not the least memory of his father; but his
mother, by a thousand almost unpremeditated touches, had built up a
figure for him and a tradition that was shaping his life. She had loved
her husband passionately, and when he died her love burnt up like a
flame released, and made a god of the good she had known with him. She
was then a very beautiful and active-minded woman of thirty, and she did
her best to reconstruct her life; but she could find nothing so living
in the world as the clear courage, the essential simplicity, and tender
memories of the man she had lost. And she was the more devoted to him
that he had had little weaknesses of temper and bearing, and that an
outrageous campaign had been waged against him that did not cease with
his death. He had, in some medical periodical, published drawings of a
dead dog clamped to display a deformity, and these had been seized upon
by a group of anti-vivisection fanatics as the representation of a
vivisection. A libel action had been pending when he died; but there is
no protection of the dead from libel. That monstrous lie met her on
pamphlet cover, on hoardings, in sensational appeals; it seemed
immortal, and she would have suffered the pains of a dozen suttees if
she could have done so, to show the world how the power and tenderness
of this alleged tormentor of helpless beasts had gripped one woman's
heart. It counted enormously in her decision to remain a widow and
concentrate her life upon her son.

She watched his growth with a care and passionate subtlety that even at
six-and-twenty he was still far from suspecting. She dreaded his
becoming a mother's pet, she sent him away to school and fretted through
long terms alone, that he might be made into a man. She interested
herself in literary work and social affairs lest she should press upon
him unduly. She listened for the crude expression of growing thought in
him with an intensity that was almost anguish. She was too intelligent
to dream of forming his mind, he browsed on every doctrine to find his
own, but she did desire most passionately, she prayed, she prayed in
the darkness of sleepless nights, that the views, the breadths, the
spacious emotions which had ennobled her husband in her eyes should rise
again in him.

There were years of doubt and waiting. He was a good boy and a bad boy,
now brilliant, now touching, now disappointing, now gloriously
reassuring, and now heart-rending as only the children of our blood can
be. He had errors and bad moments, lapses into sheer naughtiness, phases
of indolence, attacks of contagious vulgarity. But more and more surely
she saw him for his father's son; she traced the same great curiosities,
the same keen dauntless questioning; whatever incidents might disturb
and perplex her, his intellectual growth went on strong and clear and
increasing like some sacred flame that is carried in procession, halting
perhaps and swaying a little but keeping on, over the heads of a
tumultuous crowd.

He went from his school to the Royal College of Science, thence to
successes at Cambridge, and thence to Berlin. He travelled a little in
Asia Minor and Persia, had a journey to America, and then came back to
her and London, sunburnt, moustached, manly, and a little strange. When
he had been a boy she had thought his very soul pellucid; it had clouded
opaquely against her scrutiny as he passed into adolescence. Then
through the period of visits and departures, travel together,
separations, he grew into something detached and admirable, a man
curiously reminiscent of his father, unexpectedly different. She ceased
to feel what he was feeling in his mind, had to watch him, infer, guess,
speculate about him. She desired for him and dreaded for him with an
undying tenderness, but she no longer had any assurance that she could
interfere to help him. He had his father's trick of falling into
thought. Her brown eyes would watch him across the flowers and delicate
glass and silver of her dinner table when he dined at home with her.
Sometimes he seemed to forget she existed, sometimes he delighted in
her, talked to amuse her, petted her; sometimes, and then it was she was
happiest, he talked of plays and books with her, discussed general
questions, spoke even of that broadly conceived scheme of work which
engaged so much of his imagination. She knew that it was distinguished
and powerful work. Old friends of her husband spoke of it to her,
praised its inspired directness, its beautiful simplicity. Since the
days of Wollaston, they said, no one had been so witty an experimenter,
no one had got more out of mere scraps of apparatus or contrived more
ingenious simplifications.

When he had accepted the minor Professorship which gave him a footing in
the world of responsible scientific men, she had taken a house in a
quiet street in Chelsea which necessitated a daily walk to his
laboratory. It was a little old Georgian house with worn and graceful
rooms, a dignified front door and a fine gateway of Sussex ironwork much
painted and eaten away. She arranged it with great care; she had kept
most of her furniture, and his study had his father's bureau, and the
selfsame agate paper-weight that had pressed the unfinished paper he
left when he died. She was a woman of persistent friendships, and there
came to her, old connections of those early times trailing fresher and
younger people in their wake, sons, daughters, nephews, disciples; her
son brought home all sorts of interesting men, and it was remarkable to
her that amidst the talk and discussion at her table, she discovered
aspects of her son and often quite intimate aspects she would never have
seen with him alone.

She would not let herself believe that this Indian summer of her life
could last for ever. He was no passionless devotee of research, for all
his silence and restraints. She had seen him kindle with anger at
obstacles and absurdities, and quicken in the presence of beauty. She
knew how readily and richly he responded to beauty. Things happened to
have run smoothly with him so far, that was all. "Of course," she said,
"he must fall in love. It cannot be long before he falls in love."

Once or twice that had seemed to happen, and then it had come to
nothing....

She knew that sooner or later this completion of his possibilities must
come, that the present steadfastness of purpose was a phase in which
forces gathered, that love must sweep into his life as a deep and
passionate disturbance. She wondered where it would take him, whether it
would leave him enriched or devastated. She saw at times how young he
was; she had, as I suppose most older people have about their juniors,
the profoundest doubt whether he was wise enough yet to be trusted with
a thing so good as himself. He had flashes of high-spirited
indiscretion, and at times a wildfire of humour flared in his talk. So
far that had done no worse for him than make an enemy or so in
scientific circles. But she had no idea of the limits of his
excitability. She would watch him and fear for him--she knew the
wreckage love can make--and also she desired that he should lose nothing
that life and his nature could give him.


§ 3

In the two months of separation that ensued before Marjorie was
one-and-twenty, Trafford's mind went through some remarkable phases. At
first the excitement of his passion for Marjorie obscured everything
else, then with his return to London and his laboratory the immense
inertia of habit and slowly developed purposes, the complex yet
convergent system of ideas and problems to which so much of his life had
been given, began to reassert itself. His love was vivid and intense, a
light in his imagination, a fever in his blood; but it was a new thing;
it had not crept into the flesh and bones of his being, it was away
there in Surrey; the streets of London, his home, the white-walled
chamber with its skylight and high windows and charts of constants, in
which his apparatus was arranged, had no suggestion of her. She was
outside--an adventure--a perplexing incommensurable with all these
things.

He had left Buryhamstreet with Marjorie riotously in possession of his
mind. He could think of nothing but Marjorie in the train, and how she
had shone at him in the study, and how her voice had sounded when she
spoke, and how she stood and moved, and the shape and sensation of her
hands, and how it had felt to hold her for those brief moments in the
wood and press lips and body to his, and how her face had gleamed in the
laced shadows of the moonlight, soft and wonderful.

In fact, he thought of Marjorie.

He thought she was splendid, courageous, wise by instinct. He had no
doubt of her or that she was to be his--when the weeks of waiting had
passed by. She was his, and he was Marjorie's; that had been settled
from the beginning of the world. It didn't occur to him that anything
had happened to alter his life or any of his arrangements in any way,
except that they were altogether altered--as the world is altered
without displacement when the sun pours up in the east. He was
glorified--and everything was glorified.

He wondered how they would meet again, and dreamt a thousand impossible
and stirring dreams, but he dreamt them as dreams.

At first, to Durgan's infinite distress, he thought of her all day, and
then, as the old familiar interests grappled him again, he thought of
her in the morning and the evening and as he walked between his home and
the laboratory and at all sorts of incidental times--and even when the
close-locked riddles of his research held the foreground and focus of
his thoughts, he still seemed to be thinking of her as a radiant
background to ions and molecules and atoms and interwoven systems of
eddies and quivering oscillations deep down in the very heart of matter.

And always he thought of her as something of the summer. The rich decays
of autumn came, the Chelsea roads were littered with variegated leaves
that were presently wet and dirty and slippery, the twilight crept down
into the day towards five o'clock and four, but in his memory of her the
leaves were green, the evenings were long, the warm quiet of rural
Surrey in high August filled the air. So that it was with a kind of
amazement he found her in London and in November close at hand. He was
called to the college telephone one day from a conversation with a
proposed research student. It was a middle-aged woman bachelor anxious
for the D.Sc., who wished to occupy the further bench in the laboratory;
but she had no mental fire, and his mind was busy with excuses and
discouragements.

He had no thought of Marjorie when she answered, and for an instant he
did not recognize her voice.

"Yes, I'm Mr. Trafford."...

"Who is it?" he reiterated with a note of irascibility. "_Who?_"

The little voice laughed. "Why! I'm Marjorie!" it said.

Then she was back in his life like a lantern suddenly become visible in
a wood at midnight.

It was like meeting her as a china figure, neat and perfect and two
inches high. It was her voice, very clear and very bright, and quite
characteristic, as though he was hearing it through the wrong end of a
telescope. It was her voice, clear as a bell; confident without a
shadow.

"It's _me!_ Marjorie! I'm twenty-one to-day!"

It was like a little arrow of exquisite light shot into the very heart
of his life.

He laughed back. "Are you for meeting me then, Marjorie?"


§ 4

They met in Kensington Gardens with an air of being clandestine and
defiant. It was one of those days of amber sunlight, soft air, and
tender beauty with which London relieves the tragic glooms of the year's
decline. There were still a residue of warm-tinted leaves in puffs and
clusters upon the tree branches, a boat or two ruffled the blue
Serpentine, and the waterfowl gave colour and animation to the selvage
of the water. The sedges were still a greenish yellow.

The two met shyly. They were both a little unfamiliar to each other.
Trafford was black-coated, silk-hatted, umbrella-d, a decorous young
professor in the place of the cheerful aeronaut who had fallen so gaily
out of the sky. Marjorie had a new tailor-made dress of russet-green,
and a little cloth toque ruled and disciplined the hair he had known as
a ruddy confusion.... They had dreamt, I think, of extended arms and a
wild rush to embrace one another. Instead, they shook hands.

"And so," said Trafford, "we meet again!"

"I don't see why we shouldn't meet!" said Marjorie.

There was a slight pause.

"Let's have two of those jolly little green chairs," said Trafford....

They walked across the grass towards the chairs he had indicated, and
both were full of the momentous things they were finding it impossible
to say.

"There ought to be squirrels here, as there are in New York," he said at
last.

They sat down. There was a moment's silence, and then Trafford's spirit
rose in rebellion and he plunged at this--this stranger beside him.

"Look here," he said, "do you still love me, Marjorie?"

She looked up into his face with eyes in which surprise and scrutiny
passed into something altogether beautiful. "I love you--altogether,"
she said in a steady, low voice.

And suddenly she was no longer a stranger, but the girl who had flitted
to his arms breathless, unhesitating, through the dusk. His blood
quickened. He made an awkward gesture as though he arrested an impulse
to touch her. "My sweetheart," he said. "My dear one!"

Marjorie's face flashed responses. "It's you," he said.

"Me," she answered.

"Do you remember?"

"Everything!"

"My dear!"

"I want to tell you things," said Marjorie. "What are we to do?"....

He tried afterwards to retrace that conversation. He was chiefly
ashamed of his scientific preoccupations during that London interval. He
had thought of a thousand things; Marjorie had thought of nothing else
but love and him. Her happy assurance, her absolute confidence that his
desires would march with hers, reproached and confuted every adverse
thought in him as though it was a treachery to love. He had that sense
which I suppose comes at times to every man, of entire unworthiness for
the straight, unhesitating decision, the clear simplicity of a woman's
passion. He had dreamt vaguely, unsubstantially, the while he had
arranged his pressures and temperatures and infinitesimal ingredients,
and worked with goniometer and trial models and the new calculating
machine he had contrived for his research. But she had thought clearly,
definitely, fully--of nothing but coming to him. She had thought out
everything that bore upon that; reasons for preciptance, reasons for
delay, she had weighed the rewards of conformity against the glamour of
romance. It became more and more clear to him as they talked, that she
was determined to elope with him, to go to Italy, and there have an
extraordinarily picturesque and beautiful time. Her definiteness shamed
his poverty of anticipation. Her enthusiasm carried him with her. Of
course it was so that things must be done....

When at last they parted under the multiplying lamps of the November
twilight, he turned his face eastward. He was afraid of his mother's
eyes--he scarcely knew why. He walked along Kensington Gore, and the
clustering confused lights of street and house, white and golden and
orange and pale lilac, the moving lamps and shining glitter of the
traffic, the luminous interiors of omnibuses, the reflection of carriage
and hoarding, the fading daylight overhead, the phantom trees to the
left, the deepening shadows and blacknesses among the houses on his
right, the bobbing heads of wayfarers, were just for him the stir and
hue and texture of fairyland. All the world was fairyland. He went to
his club and dined there, and divided the evening between geography, as
it is condensed in Baedeker and Murray on North Italy, Italian
Switzerland and the Italian Riviera, and a study of the marriage laws as
they are expounded in "Whitaker's Almanac," the "Encyclopædia
Britannica," and other convenient works of reference. He replaced the
books as he used them, and went at last from the library into the
smoking-room, but seeing a man who might talk to him there, he went out
at once into the streets, and fetched a wide compass by Baker Street,
Oxford Street, and Hyde Park, home.

He was a little astonished at himself and everything.

But it was going to be--splendid.

(What poor things words can be!)


§ 5

He found his mother still up. She had been re-reading "The Old Wives'
Tale," and she sat before a ruddy fire in the shadow beyond the lit
circle of a green-shaded electric light thinking, with the book put
aside. In the dimness above was his father's portrait. "Time you were in
bed, mother," he said reprovingly, and kissed her eyebrow and stood
above her. "What's the book?" he asked, and picked it up and put it
down, forgotten. Their eyes met. She perceived he had something to say;
she did not know what. "Where have you been?" she asked.

He told her, and they lapsed into silence. She asked another question
and he answered her, and the indifferent conversation ended again. The
silence lengthened. Then he plunged: "I wonder, mother, if it would put
you out very much if I brought home a wife to you?"

So it had come to this--and she had not seen it coming. She looked into
the glowing recesses of the fire before her and controlled her voice by
an effort. "I'd be glad for you to do it, dear--if you loved her," she
said very quietly. He stared down at her for a moment; then he knelt
down beside her and took her hand and kissed it. "_My dear_," she
whispered softly, stroking his head, and her tears came streaming. For a
time they said no more.

Presently he put coal on the fire, and then sitting on the hearthrug at
her feet and looking away from her into the flames--in an attitude that
took her back to his boyhood--he began to tell her brokenly and
awkwardly of Marjorie.

"It's so hard, mother, to explain these things," he began. "One doesn't
half understand the things that are happening to one. I want to make you
in love with her, dear, just as I am. And I don't see how I can."

"Perhaps I shall understand, my dear. Perhaps I shall understand better
than you think."

"She's such a beautiful thing--with something about her----. You know
those steel blades you can bend back to the hilt--and they're steel! And
she's tender. It's as if someone had taken tears, mother, and made a
spirit out of them----"

She caressed and stroked his hand. "My dear," she said, "I know."

"And a sort of dancing daring in her eyes."

"Yes," she said. "But tell me where she comes from, and how you met
her--and all the circumstantial things that a sensible old woman can
understand."

He kissed her hand and sat down beside her, with his shoulder against
the arm of her chair, his fingers interlaced about his knee. She could
not keep her touch from his hair, and she tried to force back the
thought in her mind that all these talks must end, that very soon indeed
they would end. And she was glad, full of pride and joy too that her son
was a lover after her heart, a clean and simple lover as his father had
been before him. He loved this unknown Marjorie, finely, sweetly,
bravely, even as she herself could have desired to have been loved. She
told herself she did not care very greatly even if this Marjorie should
prove unworthy. So long as her son was not unworthy.

He pieced his story together. He gave her a picture of the Popes,
Marjorie in her family like a jewel in an ugly setting, so it seemed to
him, and the queer dull rage of her father and all that they meant to
do. She tried to grasp his perplexities and advise, but chiefly she was
filled with the thought that he was in love. If he wanted a girl he
should have her, and if he had to take her by force, well, wasn't it his
right? She set small store upon the Popes that night--or any
circumstances. And since she herself had married on the slightest of
security, she was concerned very little that this great adventure was to
be attempted on an income of a few hundreds a year. It was outside her
philosophy that a wife should be anything but glad to tramp the roads if
need be with the man who loved her. He sketched out valiant plans, was
for taking Marjorie away in the teeth of all opposition and bringing her
back to London. It would have to be done decently, of course, but it
would have, he thought, to be done. Mrs. Trafford found the prospect
perfect; never before had he sounded and looked so like that dim figure
which hung still and sympathetic above them. Ever and again she glanced
up at her husband's quiet face....

On one point she was very clear with him.

"You'll live with us, mother?" he said abruptly.

"Not with you. As near as you like. But one house, one woman.... I'll
have a little flat of my own--for you both to come to me."

"Oh, nonsense, mother! You'll have to be with us. Living alone, indeed!"

"My dear, I'd _prefer_ a flat of my own. You don't
understand--everything. It will be better for all of us like that."

There came a little pause between them, and then her hand was on his
head again. "Oh, my dear," she said, "I want you to be happy. And life
can be difficult. I won't give a chance--for things to go wrong. You're
hers, dear, and you've got to be hers--be each other's altogether. I've
watched so many people. And that's the best, the very best you can have.
There's just the lovers--the real enduring lovers; and the uncompleted
people who've failed to find it."...


§ 6

Trafford's second meeting with Marjorie, which, by the by, happened on
the afternoon of the following day, brought them near to conclusive
decisions. The stiffness of their first encounter in London had
altogether vanished. She was at her prettiest and in the highest
spirits--and she didn't care for anything else in the world. A gauzy
silk scarf which she had bought and not paid for that day floated
atmospherically about her straight trim body; her hair had caught the
infection of insurrection and was waving rebelliously about her ears. As
he drew near her his grave discretion passed from him as clouds pass
from a hillside. She smiled radiantly. He held out both his hands for
both of hers, and never did a maiden come so near and yet not get a
public and shameless kissing.

One could as soon describe music as tell their conversation. It was a
matter of tones and feelings. But the idea of flight together, of the
bright awakening in unfamiliar sunshine with none to come between them,
had gripped them both. A certain sober gravity of discussion only masked
that deeper inebriety. It would be easy for them to get away; he had no
lectures until February; he could, he said, make arrangements, leave his
research. She dreaded disputation. She was for a simple disappearance,
notes on pincushions and defiantly apologetic letters from Boulogne, but
his mother's atmosphere had been a gentler one than her home's, with a
more powerful disposition to dignity. He still couldn't understand that
the cantankerous egotism of Pope was indeed the essential man; it seemed
to him a crust of bad manners that reason ought to pierce.

The difference in their atmospheres came out in their talk--in his
desire for a handsome and dignified wedding--though the very heavens
protested--and her resolve to cut clear of every one, to achieve a sort
of gaol delivery of her life, make a new beginning altogether, with the
minimum of friction and the maximum of surprise. Unused to fighting, he
was magnificently prepared to fight; she, with her intimate knowledge of
chronic domestic conflict, was for the evasion of all the bickerings,
scoldings, and misrepresentations his challenge would occasion. He
thought in his innocence a case could be stated and discussed; but no
family discussion she had ever heard had even touched the realities of
the issue that occasioned it.

"I don't like this underhand preparation," he said.

"Nor I," she echoed. "But what can one do?"

"Well, oughtn't I to go to your father and give him a chance? Why
shouldn't I? It's--the dignified way."

"It won't be dignified for father," said Marjorie, "anyhow."

"But what right has he to object?"

"He isn't going to discuss his rights with you. He _will_ object."

"But _why?_"

"Oh! because he's started that way. He hit you. I haven't forgotten it.
Well, if he goes back on that now----He'd rather die than go back on it.
You see, he's ashamed in his heart. It would be like confessing himself
wrong not to keep it up that you're the sort of man one hits. He just
hates you because he hit you. I haven't been his daughter for twenty-one
years for nothing."

"I'm thinking of us," said Trafford. "I don't see we oughtn't to go to
him just because he's likely to be--unreasonable."

"My dear, do as you please. He'll forbid and shout, and hit tables until
things break. Suppose he locks me up!"

"Oh, Habeas Corpus, and my strong right arm! He's much more likely to
turn you out-of-doors."

"Not if he thinks the other will annoy you more. I'll have to bear a
storm."

"Not for long."

"He'll bully mother till she cries over me. But do as you please. She'll
come and she'll beg me----Do as you please. Perhaps I'm a coward. I'd
far rather I could slip away."

Trafford thought for a moment. "I'd far rather you could," he answered,
in a voice that spoke of inflexible determinations.

They turned to the things they meant to do. "_Italy!_" she whispered,
"_Italy!_" Her face was alight with her burning expectation of beauty,
of love, of the new heaven and the new earth that lay before them. The
intensity of that desire blazing through her seemed to shame his dull
discretions. He had to cling to his resolution, lest it should vanish in
that contagious intoxication.

"You understand I shall come to your father," he said, as they drew near
the gate where it seemed discreet for them to part.

"It will make it harder to get away," she said, with no apparent
despondency. "It won't stop us. Oh! do as you please."

She seemed to dismiss the question, and stood hand-in-hand with him in a
state of glowing gravity. She wouldn't see him again for four-and-twenty
hours. Then a thought came into her head--a point of great practical
moment.

"Oh!" she said, "of course, you won't tell father you've seen me."

She met his eye. "Really you mustn't," she said. "You see--he'll make a
row with mother for not having watched me better. I don't know what he
isn't likely to do. It isn't myself----This is a confidential
communication--all this. No one in this world knows I am meeting you. If
you _must_ go to him, go to him."

"For myself?"

She nodded, with her open eyes on his--eyes that looked now very blue
and very grave, and her lips a little apart.

She surprised him a little, but even this sudden weakness seemed
adorable.

"All right," he said.

"You don't think that I'm shirking----?" she asked, a little too
eagerly.

"You know your father best," he answered. "I'll tell you all he says and
all the terror of him here to-morrow afternoon."


§ 7

In the stillness of the night Trafford found himself thinking over
Marjorie; it was a new form of mental exercise, which was destined to
play a large part in his existence for many subsequent years. There had
come a shadow on his confidence in her. She was a glorious person; she
had a kind of fire behind her and in her--shining through her, like the
lights in a fire-opal, but----He wished she had not made him promise to
conceal their meeting and their close co-operation from her father. Why
did she do that? It would spoil his case with her father, and it could
forward things for them in no conceivable way. And from that, in some
manner too subtle to trace, he found his mind wandering to another
problem, which was destined to reappear with a slowly dwindling
importance very often in this procedure of thinking over Marjorie in the
small hours. It was the riddle--it never came to him in the daytime, but
only in those intercalary and detachedly critical periods of
thought--why exactly had she engaged herself to Magnet? Why had she? He
couldn't imagine himself, in Marjorie's position, doing anything of the
sort. Marjorie had ways of her own; she was different.... Well, anyhow,
she was splendid and loving and full of courage.... He had got no
further than this when at last he fell asleep.


§ 8

Trafford's little attempt to regularise his position was as creditable
to him as it was inevitably futile. He sought out 29, Hartstone Square
in the morning on his way to his laboratory, and he found it one of a
great row of stucco houses each with a portico and a dining-room window
on the ground floor, and each with a railed area from which troglodytic
servants peeped. Collectively the terrace might claim a certain ugly
dignity of restraint, there was none of your Queen Anne nonsense of art
or beauty about it, and the narrow height, the subterranean kitchens of
each constituent house, told of a steep relentless staircase and the
days before the pampering of the lower classes began. The houses formed
a square, as if the British square so famous at Waterloo for its dogged
resistance to all the forces of the universe had immortalized itself in
buildings, and they stared upon a severely railed garden of hardy shrubs
and gravel to which the tenants had the inestimable privilege of access.
They did not use it much, that was their affair, but at any rate they
had keys and a nice sense of rights assured, and at least it kept other
people out.

Trafford turned out of a busy high road full of the mixed exhilarating
traffic of our time, and came along a quiet street into this place, and
it seemed to him he had come into a corner of defence and retreat, into
an atmosphere of obstinate and unteachable resistances. But this
illusion of conservativism in its last ditch was dispelled altogether in
Mr. Pope's portico. Youth flashed out of these solemnities like a dart
shot from a cave. Trafford was raising his hand to the solid brass
knocker when abruptly it was snatched from his fingers, the door was
flung open and a small boy with a number of dirty books in a strap flew
out and hit him with projectile violence.

"Blow!" said the young gentleman recoiling, and Trafford recovering
said: "Hullo, Theodore!"

"Lord!" said Theodore breathless, "It's you! _What_ a lark! Your name's
never mentioned--no how. What _did_ you do?... Wish I could stop and see
it! I'm ten minutes late. _Ave atque vale_. So long!"

He vanished with incredible velocity. And Mr. Trafford was alone in
possession of the open doorway except for Toupee, who after a violent
outbreak of hostility altered his mind and cringed to his feet in abject
and affectionate propitiation. A pseudo-twin appeared, said "Hello!" and
vanished, and then he had an instant's vision of Mr. Pope, newspaper in
hand, appearing from the dining-room. His expression of surprise changed
to malevolence, and he darted back into the room from which he had
emerged. Trafford decided to take the advice of a small brass plate on
his left hand, and "ring also."

A housemaid came out of the bowels of the earth very promptly and
ushered him up two flights of stairs into what was manifestly Mr. Pope's
study.

It was a narrow, rather dark room lit by two crimson-curtained windows,
and with a gas fire before which Mr. Pope's walking boots were warming
for the day. The apartment revealed to Trafford's cursory inspection
many of the stigmata of an Englishman of active intelligence and
literary tastes. There in the bookcase were the collected works of
Scott, a good large illustrated Shakespeare in numerous volumes, and a
complete set of bound _Punches_ from the beginning. A pile of back
numbers of the _Times_ stood on a cane stool in a corner, and in a
little bookcase handy for the occupier of the desk were Whitaker,
Wisden and an old peerage. The desk bore traces of recent epistolary
activity, and was littered with the printed matter of Aunt Plessington's
movements. Two or three recent issues of _The Financial Review of
Reviews_ were also visible. About the room hung steel engravings
apparently of defunct judges or at any rate of exceedingly grim
individuals, and over the mantel were trophies of athletic prowess, a
bat witnessing that Mr. Pope had once captained the second eleven at
Harrogby.

Mr. Pope entered with a stern expression and a sentence prepared. "Well,
sir," he said with a note of ironical affability, "to what may I ascribe
this--intrusion?"

Mr. Trafford was about to reply when Mr. Pope interrupted. "Will you be
seated," he said, and turned his desk chair about for himself, and
occupying it, crossed his legs and pressed the finger tips of his two
hands together. "Well, sir?" he said.

Trafford remained standing astraddle over the boots before the gas fire.

"Look here, sir," he said; "I am in love with your daughter. She's one
and twenty, and I want to see her--and in fact----" He found it hard to
express himself. He could think only of a phrase that sounded
ridiculous. "I want--in fact--to pay my addresses to her."

"Well, sir, I don't want you to do so. That is too mild. I object
strongly--very strongly. My daughter has been engaged to a very
distinguished and able man, and I hope very shortly to hear that that
engagement----Practically it is still going on. I don't want you to
intrude upon my daughter further."

"But look here, sir. There's a certain justice--I mean a certain
reasonableness----"

Mr. Pope held out an arresting hand. "I don't wish it. Let that be
enough."

"Of course it isn't enough. I'm in love with her--and she with me. I'm
an entirely reputable and decent person----"

"May I be allowed to judge what is or is not suitable companionship for
my daughter--and what may or may not be the present state of her
affections?"

"Well, that's rather the point we are discussing. After all, Marjorie
isn't a baby. I want to do all this--this affair, openly and properly if
I can, but, you know, I mean to marry Marjorie--anyhow."

"There are two people to consult in that matter."

"I'll take the risk of that."

"Permit me to differ."

A feeling of helplessness came over Trafford. The curious irritation Mr.
Pope always roused in him began to get the better of him. His face
flushed hotly. "Oh really! really! this is--this is nonsense!" he cried.
"I never heard anything so childish and pointless as your objection----"

"Be careful, sir!" cried Mr. Pope, "be careful!"

"I'm going to marry Marjorie."

"If she marries you, sir, she shall never darken my doors again!"

"If you had a thing against me!"

"_Haven't_ I!"

"What have you?"

There was a quite perceptible pause before Pope fired his shot.

"Does any decent man want the name of Trafford associated with his
daughter. Trafford! Look at the hoardings, sir!"

A sudden blaze of anger lit Trafford. "My God!" he cried and clenched
his fists and seemed for a moment ready to fall upon the man before
him. Then he controlled himself by a violent effort. "You believe in
that libel on my dead father?" he said, with white lips.

"Has it ever been answered?"

"A hundred times. And anyhow!--Confound it! I don't believe--_you_
believe it. You've raked it up--as an excuse! You want an excuse for
your infernal domestic tyranny! That's the truth of it. You can't bear a
creature in your household to have a will or preference of her own. I
tell you, sir, you are intolerable--intolerable!"

He was shouting, and Pope was standing now and shouting too. "Leave my
house, sir. Get out of my house, sir. You come here to insult me, sir!"

A sudden horror of himself and Pope seized the younger man. He stiffened
and became silent. Never in his life before had he been in a bawling
quarrel. He was amazed and ashamed.

"Leave my house!" cried Pope with an imperious gesture towards the door.

Trafford made an absurd effort to save the situation. "I am sorry, sir,
I lost my temper. I had no business to abuse you----"

"You've said enough."

"I apologise for that. I've done what I could to manage things
decently."

"Will you go, sir?" threatened Mr. Pope.

"I'm sorry I came," said Trafford.

Mr. Pope took his stand with folded arms and an expression of weary
patience.

"I did what I could," said Trafford at the door.

The staircase and passage were deserted. The whole house seemed to have
caught from Mr. Pope that same quality of seeing him out....

"Confound it!" said Trafford in the street. "How on earth did all this
happen?"...

He turned eastward, and then realized that work would be impossible that
day. He changed his direction for Kensington Gardens, and in the
flower-bordered walk near the Albert Memorial he sat down on a chair,
and lugged at his moustache and wondered. He was extraordinarily
perplexed, as well as ashamed and enraged by this uproar. How had it
begun? Of course, he had been stupidly abusive, but the insult to his
father had been unendurable. Did a man of Pope's sort quite honestly
believe that stuff? If he didn't, he deserved kicking. If he did, of
course he was entitled to have it cleared up. But then he wouldn't
listen! Was there any case for the man at all? Had he, Trafford, really
put the thing so that Pope would listen? He couldn't remember. What was
it he had said in reply to Pope? What was it exactly that Pope had said?

It was already vague; it was a confused memory of headlong words and
answers; what wasn't vague, what rang in his ears still, was the hoarse
discord of two shouting voices.

Could Marjorie have heard?


§ 9

So Marjorie carried her point. She wasn't to be married tamely after the
common fashion which trails home and all one's beginnings into the new
life. She was to be eloped with, romantically and splendidly, into a
glorious new world. She walked on shining clouds, and if she felt some
remorse, it was a very tender and satisfactory remorse, and with a clear
conviction below it that in the end she would be forgiven.

They made all their arrangements elaborately and carefully. Trafford got
a license to marry her; she was to have a new outfit from top to toe to
go away with on that eventful day. It accumulated in the shop, and they
marked the clothes _M.T._ She was watched, she imagined, but as her
father did not know she had seen Trafford, nothing had been said to her,
and no attempt was made to prohibit her going out and coming in.
Trafford entered into the conspiracy with a keen interest, a certain
amusement, and a queer little feeling of distaste. He hated to hide any
act of his from any human being. The very soul of scientific work, you
see, is publication. But Marjorie seemed to justify all things, and when
his soul turned against furtiveness, he reminded it that the alternative
was bawling.

One eventful afternoon he went to the college, and Marjorie slipped
round by his arrangement to have tea with Mrs. Trafford....

He returned about seven in a state of nervous apprehension; came
upstairs two steps at a time, and stopped breathless on the landing. He
gulped as he came in, and his eyes were painfully eager. "She's been?"
he asked.

But Marjorie had won Mrs. Trafford.

"She's been," she answered. "Yes, she's all right, my dear."

"Oh, mother!" he said.

"She's a beautiful creature, dear--and such a child! Oh! such a child!
And God bless you, dear, God bless you....

"I think all young people are children. I want to take you both in my
arms and save you.... I'm talking nonsense, dear."

He kissed her, and she clung to him as if he were something too precious
to release.


§ 10

The elopement was a little complicated by a surprise manoeuvre of Mrs.
Pope's. She was more alive to the quality of the situation, poor lady!
than her daughter suspected; she was watching, dreading, perhaps even
furtively sympathizing and trying to arrange--oh! trying dreadfully to
arrange. She had an instinctive understanding of the deep blue quiet in
Marjorie's eyes, and the girl's unusual tenderness with Daffy and the
children. She peeped under the blind as Marjorie went out, noted the
care in her dress, watched her face as she returned, never plumbed her
with a question for fear of the answer. She did not dare to breathe a
hint of her suspicions to her husband, but she felt things were adrift
in swift, smooth water, and all her soul cried out for delay. So
presently there came a letter from Cousin Susan Pendexter at Plymouth.
The weather was beautiful, Marjorie must come at once, pack up and come
and snatch the last best glow of the dying autumn away there in the
west. Marjorie's jerry-built excuses, her manifest chagrin and
reluctance, confirmed her mother's worst suspicions.

She submitted and went, and Mrs. Pope and Syd saw her off.

I do not like to tell how a week later Marjorie explained herself and
her dressing-bag and a few small articles back to London from Plymouth.
Suffice it that she lied desperately and elaborately. Her mother had
never achieved such miracles of mis-statement, and she added a vigour
that was all her own. It is easier to sympathize with her than exonerate
her. She was in a state of intense impatience, and--what is
strange--extraordinarily afraid that something would separate her from
her lover if she did not secure him. She was in a fever of
determination. She could not eat or sleep or attend to anything
whatever; she was occupied altogether with the thought of assuring
herself to Trafford. He towered in her waking vision over town and land
and sea.

He didn't hear the lies she told; he only knew she was magnificently
coming back to him. He met her at Paddington, a white-faced, tired,
splendidly resolute girl, and they went to the waiting registrar's
forthwith.

She bore herself with the intentness and dignity of one who is taking
the cardinal step in life. They kissed as though it was a symbol, and
were keenly business-like about cabs and luggage and trains. At last
they were alone in the train together. They stared at one another.

"We've done it, Mrs. Trafford!" said Trafford.

She snapped like an over-taut string, crumpled, clung to him, and
without a word was weeping passionately in his arms.

It surprised him that she could weep as she did, and still more to see
her as she walked by his side along the Folkestone pier, altogether
recovered, erect, a little flushed and excited like a child. She seemed
to miss nothing. "Oh, smell the sea!" she said, "Look at the lights!
Listen to the swish of the water below." She watched the luggage
spinning on the wire rope of the giant crane, and he watched her face
and thought how beautiful she was. He wondered why her eyes could
sometimes be so blue and sometimes dark as night.

The boat cleared the pier and turned about and headed for France. They
walked the upper deck together and stood side by side, she very close to
him.

"I've never crossed the sea before," she said.

"Old England," she whispered. "It's like leaving a nest. A little row
of lights and that's all the world I've ever known, shrunken to that
already."

Presently they went forward and peered into the night.

"Look!" she said. "_Italy!_ There's sunshine and all sorts of beautiful
things ahead. Warm sunshine, wonderful old ruins, green lizards...." She
paused and whispered almost noiselessly: "_love_----"

They pressed against each other.

"And yet isn't it strange? All you can see is darkness, and clouds--and
big waves that hiss as they come near...."


§ 11

Italy gave all her best to welcome them. It was a late year, a golden
autumn, with skies of such blue as Marjorie had never seen before. They
stayed at first in a pretty little Italian hotel with a garden on the
lake, and later they walked over Salvator to Morcote and by boat to
Ponte Tresa, and thence they had the most wonderful and beautiful tramp
in the world to Luino, over the hills by Castelrotto. To the left of
them all day was a broad valley with low-lying villages swimming in a
luminous mist, to the right were purple mountains. They passed through
paved streets with houses the colour of flesh and ivory, with balconies
hung with corn and gourds, with tall church campaniles rising high, and
great archways giving upon the blue lowlands; they tramped along avenues
of sweet chestnut and between stretches of exuberant vineyard, in which
men and women were gathering grapes--purple grapes, a hatful for a
soldo, that rasped the tongue. Everything was strange and wonderful to
Marjorie's eyes; now it would be a wayside shrine and now a yoke of
soft-going, dewlapped oxen, now a chapel hung about with _ex votos_, and
now some unfamiliar cultivation--or a gipsy-eyed child--or a scorpion
that scuttled in the dust. The very names of the villages were like
jewels to her, Varasca, Croglio, Ronca, Sesia, Monteggio. They walked,
or sat by the wayside and talked, or rested at the friendly table of
some kindly albergo. A woman as beautiful as Ceres, with a white neck
all open, made them an omelette, and then fetched her baby from its
cradle to nurse it while she talked to them as they made their meal. And
afterwards she filled their pockets with roasted chestnuts, and sent
them with melodious good wishes upon their way. And always high over all
against the translucent blue hung the white shape of Monte Rosa, that
warmed in colour as the evening came.

Marjorie's head was swimming with happiness and beauty, and with every
fresh delight she recurred again to the crowning marvel of this
clean-limbed man beside her, who smiled and carried all her luggage in a
huge rucksack that did not seem to exist for him, and watched her and
caressed her--and was hers, _hers!_

At Baveno there were letters. They sat at a little table outside a café
and read them, suddenly mindful of England again. Incipient forgiveness
showed through Mrs. Pope's reproaches, and there was also a simple,
tender love-letter (there is no other word for it) from old Mrs.
Trafford to her son.

From Baveno they set off up Monte Mottarone--whence one may see the Alps
from Visto to Ortler Spitz--trusting to find the inn still open, and if
it was closed to get down to Orta somehow before night. Or at the worst
sleep upon the mountain side.

(Monte Mottarone! Just for a moment taste the sweet Italian name upon
your lips.) These were the days before the funicular from Stresa, when
one trudged up a rude path through the chestnuts and walnuts.

As they ascended the long windings through the woods, they met an old
poet and his wife, coming down from sunset and sunrise. There was a word
or two about the inn, and they went upon their way. The old man turned
ever and again to look at them.

"Adorable young people," he said. "Adorable happy young people....

"Did you notice, dear, how she held that dainty little chin of hers?...

"Pride is such a good thing, my dear, clear, straight pride like
theirs--and they were both so proud!...

"Isn't it good, dear, to think that once you and I may have looked like
that to some passer-by. I wish I could bless them--sweet, swift young
things! I wish, dear, it was possible for old men to bless young people
without seeming to set up for saints...."



    BOOK THE SECOND
    MARJORIE MARRIED



CHAPTER THE FIRST

SETTLING DOWN


§ 1

It was in a boat among reeds upon the lake of Orta that Trafford first
became familiarized with the idea that Marjorie was capable of debt.

"Oh, I ought to have told you," she began, apropos of nothing.

Her explanation was airy; she had let the thing slip out of her mind for
a time. But there were various debts to Oxbridge tradespeople. How much?
Well, rather a lot. Of course, the tradespeople were rather enticing
when first one went up----How much, anyhow?

"Oh, about fifty pounds," said Marjorie, after her manner. "Not _more_.
I've not kept all the bills; and some haven't come in. You know how slow
they are."

"These things _will_ happen," said Trafford, though, as a matter of
fact, nothing of the sort had happened in his case. "However, you'll be
able to pay as soon as you get home, and get them all off your mind."

"I think fifty pounds will clear me," said Marjorie, clinging to her
long-established total, "if you'll let me have that."

"Oh, we don't do things like that," said Trafford. "I'm arranging that
my current account will be a sort of joint account, and your signature
will be as good as mine--for the purpose of drawing, at least. You'll
have your own cheque-book----"

"I don't understand, quite," said Marjorie.

"You'll have your own cheque-book and write cheques as you want them.
That seems the simplest way to me."

"Of course," said Marjorie. "But isn't this--rather unusual? Father
always used to allowance mother."

"It's the only decent way according to my ideas," said Trafford. "A man
shouldn't marry when he can't trust."

"Of course not," said Marjorie. Something between fear and compunction
wrung her. "Do you think you'd better?" she asked, very earnestly.

"Better?"

"Do this."

"Why not?"

"It's--it's so generous."

He didn't answer. He took up an oar and began to push out from among the
reeds with something of the shy awkwardness of a boy who becomes
apprehensive of thanks. He stole a glance at her presently and caught
her expression--there was something very solemn and intent in her
eyes--and he thought what a grave, fine thing his Marjorie could be.

But, indeed, her state of mind was quite exceptionally confused. She was
disconcerted--and horribly afraid of herself.

"Do you mean that I can spend what I like?" asked Marjorie.

"Just as I may," he said.

"I wonder," said Marjorie again, "if I'd better."

She was tingling with delight at this freedom, and she knew she was not
fit for its responsibility. She just came short of a passionate refusal
of his proposal. He was still so new to her, and things were so
wonderful, or I think she would have made that refusal.

"You've got to," said Trafford, and ended the matter.

So Marjorie was silent--making good resolutions.


§ 2

Perhaps some day it may be possible to tell in English again, in the
language of Shakspeare and Herrick, of the passion, the tenderness, the
beauty, and the delightful familiarizations of a happy honeymoon;
suffice it now, in this delicate period, to record only how our two
young lovers found one day that neither had a name for the other. He
said she could be nothing better than Marjorie to him; and she, after a
number of unsuccessful experiments, settled down to the old school-boy
nickname made out of his initials, R. A. G.

"Dick," she said, "is too bird-like and boy-like. Andrew I can't abide.
Goodwin gives one no chances for current use. Rag you must be. Mag and
Rag--poor innocents! Old rag!"

"Mag," he said, "has its drawbacks! The street-boy in London says, 'Shut
your mag.' No, I think I shall stick to Marjorie...."

All honeymoons must end at last, so back they came to London, still very
bright and happy. And then, Marjorie, whose eyes had changed from
flashing stones to darkly shining pools of blue, but whose soul had
still perhaps to finds its depths, set herself to the business of
decorating and furnishing the little house Mrs. Trafford had found for
them within ten minutes of her own. Meanwhile they lived in lodgings.

There can be no denying that Marjorie began her furnishing with severely
virtuous intentions. She was very particular to ask Trafford several
times what he thought she might spend upon the enterprise. He had
already a bedroom and a study equipped, and he threw out three hundred
pounds as his conception of an acceptable figure. "Very well," said
Marjorie, with a note of great precision, "now I shall know," and
straightway that sum took a place in her imagination that was at once
definitive and protective, just as her estimate of fifty pounds for her
Oxbridge debts had always been. She assured herself she was going to do
things, and she assured herself she was doing things, on three hundred
pounds. At times the astonishment of two or three school friends, who
joined her in her shopping, stirred her to a momentary surprise at the
way she was managing to keep things within that limit, and following a
financial method that had, after all, in spite of some momentary and
already nearly forgotten distresses, worked very well at Oxbridge, she
refrained from any additions until all the accounts had come to hand.

It was an immense excitement shopping to make a home. There was in her
composition a strain of constructive artistry with such concrete things,
a strain that had hitherto famished. She was making a beautiful, secure
little home for Trafford, for herself, for possibilities--remote
perhaps, but already touching her imagination with the anticipation of
warm, new, wonderful delights. There should be simplicity indeed in this
home, but no bareness, no harshness, never an ugliness nor a discord.
She had always loved colour in the skies, in the landscapes, in the
texture of stuffs and garments; now out of the chaotic skein of
countless shops she could choose and pick and mingle her threads in a
glow of feminine self-expression.

On three hundred pounds, that is to say--as a maximum.

The house she had to deal with was, like Mrs. Trafford's, old and rather
small; it was partly to its lack of bedroom accommodation, but much more
to the invasion of the street by the back premises of Messrs. Siddons &
Thrale, the great Chelsea outfitters, that the lowness of the rent was
due, a lowness which brought it within the means of Trafford. Marjorie
knew very clearly that her father would say her husband had taken her to
live in a noisy slum, and that made her all the keener to ensure that
every good point in the interior told to its utmost, and that whatever
was to be accessible to her family should glow with a refined but warm
prosperity. The room downstairs was shapely, and by ripping off the
papered canvas of the previous occupier, some very dilapidated but
admirably proportioned panelling was brought to light. The dining-room
and study door on the ground floor, by a happy accident, were of
mahogany, with really very beautiful brass furnishings; and the
dining-room window upon the minute but by no means offensive paved
garden behind, was curved and had a little shallow balcony of ironwork,
half covered by a devitalized but leafy grapevine. Moreover, the
previous occupier had equipped the place with electric light and a
bathroom of almost American splendour on the landing, glass-shelved,
white-tiled, and white painted, so that it was a delight to go into.

Marjorie's mind leapt very rapidly to the possibilities of this little
establishment. The panelling must be done and done well, anyhow; that
would be no more than a wise economy, seeing it might at any time help
them to re-let; it would be painted white, of course, and thus set the
key for a clean brightness of colour throughout. The furniture would
stand out against the softly shining white, and its line and
proportions must be therefore the primary qualities to consider as she
bought it. The study was much narrower than the dining-room, and so the
passage, which the agent called the hall, was much broader and more
commodious behind the happily wide staircase than in front, and she was
able to banish out of the sight of the chance visitor all that litter of
hat-stand and umbrella-stand, letters, boxes arriving and parcels to
post, which had always offended her eye at home. At home there had been
often the most unsightly things visible, one of Theo's awful caps, or
his school books, and not infrequently her father's well-worn and all
too fatally comfortable house slippers. A good effect at first is half
the victory of a well done house, and Marjorie accomplished another of
her real economies here by carpeting hall and staircase with a
fine-toned, rich-feeling and rather high-priced blue carpet, held down
by very thick brass stair-rods. She hung up four well-chosen steel
engravings, put a single Chippendale chair in the hall, and a dark old
Dutch clock that had turned out to be only five pounds when she had
expected the shopman to say eleven or twelve, on the half-landing. That
was all. Round the corner by the study door was a mahogany slab, and the
litter all went upon a capacious but very simple dark-stained hat-stand
and table that were out of the picture entirely until you reached the
stairs.

Her dining-room was difficult for some time. She had equipped that with
a dark oak Welsh dresser made very bright with a dessert service that
was, in view of its extremely decorative quality, remarkably cheap, and
with some very pretty silver-topped glass bottles and flasks. This
dresser and a number of simple but shapely facsimiles of old chairs,
stood out against a nearly primrose paper, very faintly patterned, and a
dark blue carpet with a margin of dead black-stained wood. Over the
mantel was a German colour-print of waves full of sunlight breaking
under cliffs, and between this and the window were dark bookshelves and
a few bright-coloured books. On the wall, black-framed, were four very
good Japanese prints, rich in greenish-blues and blueish-greys that
answered the floor, and the window curtains took up some of the colours
of the German print. But something was needed towards the window, she
felt, to balance the warmly shining plates upon the dresser. The deep
rose-red of the cherries that adorned them was too isolated, usurped too
dominating a value. And while this was weighing upon her mind she saw in
a window in Regent Street a number of Bokhara hangings very nobly
displayed. They were splendid pieces of needlework, particularly
glorious in their crimsons and reds, and suddenly it came to her that it
was just one of these, one that had great ruby flowers upon it with
dead-blue interlacings, that was needed to weld her gay-coloured scheme
together. She hesitated, went half-way to Piccadilly Circus, turned
back and asked the prices. The prices were towering prices, ten,
fifteen, eighteen guineas, and when at last the shopman produced one
with all the charm of colour she sought at eight, it seemed like ten
guineas snatched back as they dropped from her hands. And still
hesitating, she had three that pleased her most sent home, "on
approval," before she decided finally to purchase one of them. But the
trial was conclusive. And then, struck with a sudden idea, she carried
off a long narrow one she had had no idea of buying before into the
little study behind. Suppose, she thought, instead of hanging two
curtains as anybody else would do in that window, she ran this glory of
rich colour across from one side on a great rod of brass.

She was giving the study the very best of her attention. After she had
lapsed in some other part of the house from the standards of rigid
economy she had set up, she would as it were restore the balance by
adding something to the gracefully dignified arrangement of this den he
was to use. And the brass rod of the Bokhara hanging that was to do
instead of curtains released her mind somehow to the purchase of certain
old candlesticks she had hitherto resisted. They were to stand, bored to
carry candle electric lights, on either corner of the low bookcase that
faced the window. They were very heavy, very shapely candlesticks, and
they cost thirty-five shillings. They looked remarkably well when they
were put up, except that a sort of hollowness appeared between them and
clamoured for a delightful old brass-footed workbox she had seen in a
shop in Baker Street. Enquiry confirmed her quick impression that this
was a genuine piece (of quite exceptional genuineness) and that the
price--they asked five pounds ten and came down to five guineas--was in
accordance with this. It was a little difficult (in spite of the silent
hunger between the candlesticks) to reconcile this particular article
with her dominating idea of an austerely restrained expenditure, until
she hit upon the device of calling it a _hors d'oeuvre_, and regarding
it not as furniture but as a present from herself to Trafford that
happened to fall in very agreeably with the process of house furnishing.
She decided she would some day economise its cost out of her dress
allowance. The bookcase on which it stood was a happy discovery in
Kensington, just five feet high, and with beautiful oval glass fronts,
and its capacity was supplemented and any excess in its price at least
morally compensated by a very tall, narrow, distinguished-looking set of
open shelves that had been made for some special corner in another
house, and which anyhow were really and truly dirt cheap. The desk
combined grace and good proportions to an admirable extent, the fender
of pierced brass looked as if it had always lived in immediate contact
with the shapely old white marble fireplace, and the two arm-chairs were
marvels of dignified comfort. By the fireplace were a banner-shaped
needlework firescreen, a white sheepskin hearthrug, a little patch and
powder table adapted to carry books, and a green-shaded lamp, grouped in
a common inaudible demand for a reader in slippers. Trafford, when at
last the apartment was ready for his inspection, surveyed these
arrangements with a kind of dazzled admiration.

"By Jove!" he said. "How little people know of the homes of the Poor!"

Marjorie was so delighted with his approval that she determined to show
Mrs. Trafford next day how prettily at least her son was going to live.
The good lady came and admired everything, and particularly the Bokhara
hangings. She did not seem to appraise, but something set Marjorie
talking rather nervously of a bargain-hunter's good fortune. Mrs.
Trafford glanced at the candlesticks and the low bookcase, and returned
to the glowing piece of needlework that formed the symmetrical window
curtain in the study. She took it in her hand, and whispered,
"beautiful!"

"But aren't these rather good?" asked Mrs. Trafford.

Marjorie answered, after a little pause. "They're not too good for
_him_," she said.


§ 3

And now these young people had to resume life in London in earnest. The
orchestral accompaniment of the world at large began to mingle with
their hitherto unsustained duet. It had been inaudible in Italy. In
Chelsea it had sounded, faintly perhaps but distinctly, from their very
first inspection of the little house. A drawing-room speaks of callers,
a dining-room of lunch-parties and dinners. It had swayed Marjorie from
the front door inward.

During their honeymoon they had been gloriously unconscious of comment.
Now Marjorie began to show herself keenly sensitive to the advent of a
score of personalities, and very anxious to show just how completely
successful in every sense her romantic disobedience had been. She knew
she had been approved of, admired, condemned, sneered at, thoroughly
discussed. She felt it her first duty to Trafford, to all who had
approved of her flight, to every one, herself included, to make this
marriage obviously, indisputably, a success, a success not only by her
own standards but by the standards of anyonesoever who chose to sit in
judgment on her.

There was Trafford. She felt she had to extort the admission from every
one that he was the handsomest, finest, ablest, most promising and most
delightful man a prominent humorist was ever jilted for. She wanted them
to understand clearly just all that Trafford was--and that involved, she
speedily found in practice, making them believe a very great deal that
as yet Trafford wasn't. She found it practically impossible not to
anticipate his election to the Royal Society and the probability of a
more important professorship. She felt that anyhow he was an F.R.S. in
the sight of God....

It was almost equally difficult not to indicate a larger income than
facts justified.

It was entirely in Marjorie's vein in those early days that she would
want to win on every score and by every standard of reckoning. If
Marjorie had been a general she would have counted no victory complete
if the struggle was not sustained and desperate, and if it left the
enemy with a single gun or flag, or herself with so much as a man killed
or wounded. The people she wanted to impress varied very widely. She
wanted to impress the Carmel girls, and the Carmel girls, she knew, with
their racial trick of acute appraisement, were only to be won by the
very highest quality all round. They had, she knew, two standards of
quality, cost and distinction. As far as possible, she would give them
distinction. But whenever she hesitated over something on the verge of
cheapness the thought of those impending judgments tipped the balance.
The Carmel girls were just two influential representatives of a host.
She wanted to impress quite a number of other school and college
friends. There were various shy, plastic-spirited, emotional creatures,
of course, for the most part with no confidence in their own appearance,
who would be impressed quite adequately enough by Trafford's good looks
and witty manner and easy temper. They might perhaps fall in love with
him and become slavish to her after the way of their kind, and anyhow
they would be provided for, but there were plenty of others of a harder
texture whose tests would be more difficult to satisfy. There were girls
who were the daughters of prominent men, who must be made to understand
that Trafford was prominent, girls who were well connected, who must be
made to realize the subtle excellence of Trafford's blood. As she
thought of Constance Graham, for example, or Ottiline Winchelsea, she
felt the strongest disposition to thicken the by no means well
authenticated strands that linked Trafford with the Traffords of
Trafford-over-Lea. She went about the house dreaming a little
apprehensively of these coming calls, and the pitiless light of
criticism they would bring to bear, not indeed upon her happiness--that
was assured--but upon her success.

The social side of the position would have to be strained to the
utmost, Marjorie felt, with Aunt Plessington. The thought of Aunt
Plessington made her peculiarly apprehensive. Aunt Plessington had to
the fullest extent that contempt for merely artistic or scientific
people which sits so gracefully upon the administrative English. You
see people of that sort do not get on in the sense that a young lawyer
or barrister gets on. They do not make steps; they boast and quarrel
and are jealous perhaps, but that steady patient shove upward seems
beyond their intelligence. The energies God manifestly gave them for
shoving, they dissipate in the creation of weak beautiful things and
unremunerative theories, or in the establishment of views sometimes
diametrically opposed to the ideas of influential people. And they are
"queer"--socially. They just moon about doing this so-called "work" of
theirs, and even when the judgment of eccentric people forces a kind
of reputation upon them--Heaven knows why?--they make no public or
social use of it. It seemed to Aunt Plessington that the artist and
the scientific man were dealt with very neatly and justly in the
Parable of the Buried Talent. Moreover their private lives were often
scandalous, they married for love instead of interest, often quite
disadvantageously, and their relationships had all the instability
that is natural upon such a foundation. And, after all, what good were
they? She had never met an artist or a prominent imaginative writer or
scientific man that she had not been able to subdue in a minute or so
by flat contradiction, and if necessary slightly raising her voice.
They had little or no influence even upon their own public
appointments....

The thought of the invasion of her agreeable little back street
establishment by this Britannic system of judgments filled Marjorie's
heart with secret terrors. She felt she had to grapple with and overcome
Aunt Plessington, or be for ever fallen--at least, so far as that
amiable lady's report went, and she knew it went pretty far. She
wandered about the house trying to imagine herself Aunt Plessington.

Immediately she felt the gravest doubts whether the whole thing wasn't
too graceful and pretty. A rich and rather massive ugliness, of course,
would have been the thing to fetch Aunt Plessington. Happily, it was
Aunt Plessington's habit to veil her eyes with her voice. She might not
see very much.

The subjugation of Aunt Plessington was difficult, but not altogether
hopeless, Marjorie felt, provided her rejection of Magnet had not been
taken as an act of personal ingratitude. There was a case on her side.
She was discovering, for example, that Trafford had a really very
considerable range of acquaintance among quite distinguished people; big
figures like Evesham and MacHaldo, for example, were intelligently
interested in the trend of his work. She felt this gave her a basis for
Plessingtonian justifications. She could produce those people--as one
shows one's loot. She could imply, "Oh, Love and all that nonsense!
Certainly not! _This_ is what I did it for." With skill and care and
good luck, and a word here and there in edgeways, she believed she might
be able to represent the whole adventure as the well-calculated opening
of a campaign on soundly Plessingtonian lines. Her marriage to Trafford,
she tried to persuade herself, might be presented as something almost
as brilliant and startling as her aunt's swoop upon her undistinguished
uncle.

She might pretend that all along she had seen her way to things, to
coveted dinner-tables and the familiarity of coveted guests, to bringing
people together and contriving arrangements, to influence and
prominence, to culminations and intrigues impossible in the
comparatively specialized world of a successful humorist and playwright,
and so at last to those high freedoms of authoritative and if necessary
offensive utterance in a strangulated contralto, and from a position of
secure eminence, which is the goal of all virtuously ambitious
Englishwomen of the governing classes--that is to say, of all virtuously
ambitious Englishwomen....


§ 4

And while such turbid solicitudes as these were flowing in again from
the London world to which she had returned, and fouling the bright,
romantic clearness of Marjorie's life, Trafford, in his ampler, less
detailed way was also troubled about their coming re-entry into society.
He, too, had his old associations.

For example, he was by no means confident of the favourable judgments of
his mother upon Marjorie's circle of school and college friends, whom he
gathered from Marjorie's talk were destined to play a large part in this
new phase of his life. She had given him very ample particulars of some
of them; and he found them interesting rather than richly attractive
personalities. It is to be noted that while he thought always of
Marjorie as a beautiful, grown-up woman, and his mate and equal, he was
still disposed to regard her intimate friends as schoolgirls of an
advanced and aggressive type....

Then that large circle of distinguished acquaintances which Marjorie saw
so easily and amply utilized for the subjugation of Aunt Plessington
didn't present itself quite in that service to Trafford's private
thoughts. He hadn't that certitude of command over them, nor that
confidence in their unhesitating approval of all he said and did. Just
as Marjorie wished him to shine in the heavens over all her people, so,
in regard to his associates, he was extraordinarily anxious that they
should realize, and realize from the outset without qualification or
hesitation, how beautiful, brave and delightful she was. And you know he
had already begun to be aware of an evasive feeling in his mind that at
times she did not altogether do herself justice--he scarcely knew as yet
how or why....

She was very young....

One or two individuals stood out in his imagination, representatives and
symbols of the rest. Particularly there was that old giant, Sir Roderick
Dover, who had been, until recently, the Professor of Physics in the
great Oxford laboratories. Dover and Trafford had one of those warm
friendships which spring up at times between a rich-minded man whose
greatness is assured and a young man of brilliant promise. It was all
the more affectionate because Dover had been a friend of Trafford's
father. These two and a group of other careless-minded, able,
distinguished, and uninfluential men at the Winton Club affected the end
of the smoking-room near the conservatory in the hours after lunch, and
shared the joys of good talk and fine jesting about the big fireplace
there. Under Dover's broad influence they talked more ideas and less
gossip than is usual with English club men. Twaddle about appointments,
about reputations, topics from the morning's papers, London
architecture, and the commerce in "good stories" took refuge at the
other end in the window bays or by the further fireplace. Trafford only
began to realize on his return to London how large a share this
intermittent perennial conversation had contributed to the atmosphere of
his existence. Amidst the romantic circumstances of his flight with
Marjorie he had forgotten the part these men played in his life and
thoughts. Now he was enormously exercised in the search for a
reconciliation between these, he felt, incommensurable factors.

He was afraid of what might be Sir Roderick's unspoken judgment on
Marjorie and the house she had made--though what was there to be afraid
of? He was still more afraid--and this was even more remarkable--of the
clear little judgments--hard as loose, small diamonds in a bed--that he
thought Marjorie might pronounce on Sir Roderick. He had never disguised
from himself that Sir Roderick was fat--nobody who came within a hundred
yards of him could be under any illusion about that--and that he drank a
good deal, ate with a cosmic spaciousness, loved a cigar, and talked and
laughed with a freedom that sometimes drove delicate-minded new members
into the corners remotest from the historical fireplace. Trafford knew
himself quite definitely that there was a joy in Dover's laugh and
voice, a beauty in his face (that was somehow mixed up with his healthy
corpulence), and a breadth, a charity, a leonine courage in his mind
(that was somehow mixed up with his careless freedom of speech) that
made him an altogether satisfactory person.

But supposing Marjorie didn't see any of that!

Still, he was on the verge of bringing Sir Roderick home when a talk at
the club one day postponed that introduction of the two extremes of
Trafford's existence for quite a considerable time.

Those were the days of the first enthusiasms of the militant suffrage
movement, and the occasional smashing of a Downing Street window or an
assault upon a minister kept the question of woman's distinctive
intelligence and character persistently before the public. Godley
Buzard, the feminist novelist, had been the guest of some member to
lunch, and the occasion was too provocative for any one about Dover's
fireplace to avoid the topic. Buzard's presence, perhaps, drove Dover
into an extreme position on the other side; he forgot Trafford's
new-wedded condition, and handled this great argument, an argument which
has scarcely progressed since its beginning in the days of Plato and
Aristophanes, with the freedoms of an ancient Greek and the explicitness
of a modern scientific man.

He opened almost apropos of nothing. "Women," he said, "are
inferior--and you can't get away from it."

"You can deny it," said Buzard.

"In the face of the facts," said Sir Roderick. "To begin with, they're
several inches shorter, several pounds lighter; they've less physical
strength in footpounds."

"More endurance," said Buzard.

"Less sensitiveness merely. All those are demonstrable things--amenable
to figures and apparatus. Then they stand nervous tensions worse, the
breaking-point comes sooner. They have weaker inhibitions, and
inhibition is the test of a creature's position in the mental scale."

He maintained that in the face of Buzard's animated protest. Buzard
glanced at their moral qualities. "More moral!" cried Dover, "more
self-restraint! Not a bit of it! Their desires and passions are weaker
even than their controls; that's all. Weaken restraints and they show
their quality. A drunken woman is far worse than a drunken man. And as
for their biological significance----"

"They are the species," said Buzard, "and we are the accidents."

"They are the stolon and we are the individualized branches. They are
the stem and we are the fruits. Surely it's better to exist than just
transmit existence. And that's a woman's business, though we've fooled
and petted most of 'em into forgetting it...."

He proceeded to an attack on the intellectual quality of women. He
scoffed at the woman artist, at feminine research, at what he called the
joke of feminine philosophy. Buzard broke in with some sentences of
reply. He alleged the lack of feminine opportunity, inferior education.

"You don't or won't understand me," said Dover. "It isn't a matter of
education or opportunity, or simply that they're of inferior capacity;
it lies deeper than that. They don't _want_ to do these things. They're
different."

"Precisely," ejaculated Buzard, as if he claimed a score.

"They don't care for these things. They don't care for art or
philosophy, or literature or anything except the things that touch them
directly. That's their peculiar difference. Hunger they understand, and
comfort, and personal vanity and desire, furs and chocolate and
husbands, and the extreme importance conferred upon them by having
babies at infrequent intervals. But philosophy or beauty for its own
sake, or dreams! Lord! no! The Mahometans know they haven't souls, and
they say it. We know, and keep it up that they have. Haven't all we
scientific men had 'em in our laboratories working; don't we know the
papers they turn out? Every sane man of five and forty knows something
of the disillusionment of the feminine dream, but we who've had the
beautiful creatures under us, weighing rather badly, handling rather
weakly, invariably missing every fine detail and all the implications of
our researches, never flashing, never leaping, never being even
thoroughly bad,--we're specialists in the subject. At the present time
there are far more educated young women than educated young men
available for research work--and who wants them? Oh, the young
professors who've still got ideals perhaps. And in they come, and if
they're dull, they just voluminously do nothing, and if they're bright,
they either marry your demonstrator or get him into a mess. And the
work----? It's nothing to them. No woman ever painted for the love of
painting, or sang for the sounds she made, or philosophized for the sake
of wisdom as men do----"

Buzard intervened with instances. Dover would have none of them. He
displayed astonishing and distinctive knowledge. "Madame Curie,"
clamoured Buzard, "Madame Curie."

"There was Curie," said Dover. "No woman alone has done such things. I
don't say women aren't clever," he insisted. "They're too clever. Give
them a man's track or a man's intention marked and defined, they'll ape
him to the life----"

Buzard renewed his protests, talking at the same time as Dover, and was
understood to say that women had to care for something greater than art
or philosophy. They were custodians of life, the future of the race----

"And that's my crowning disappointment," cried Dover. "If there was one
thing in which you might think women would show a sense of some divine
purpose in life, it is in the matter of children--and they show about
as much care in that matter, oh!--as rabbits. Yes, rabbits! I stick to
it. Look at the things a nice girl will marry; look at the men's
children she'll consent to bring into the world. Cheerfully! Proudly!
For the sake of the home and the clothes. Nasty little beasts they'll
breed without turning a hair. All about us we see girls and women
marrying ugly men, dull and stupid men, ill-tempered dyspeptic wrecks,
sickly young fools, human rats--_rats!_"

"No, no!" cried Trafford to Dover.

Buzard's voice clamoured that all would be different when women had the
vote.

"If ever we get a decent care for Eugenics, it will come from men," said
a white-faced little man on the sofa beside Trafford, in the
confidential tone of one who tells a secret.

"Doing it cheerfully!" insisted Dover.

Trafford in mid-protest was suddenly stricken into silence by a memory.
It was as if the past had thrown a stone at the back of his head and hit
it smartly. He nipped his sentence in the bud. He left the case for
women to Buzard....

He revived that memory again on his way home. It had been in his mind
overlaid by a multitude of newer, fresher things, but now he took it out
and looked at it. It was queer, it was really very queer, to think that
once upon a time, not so very long ago, Marjorie had been prepared to
marry Magnet. Of course she had hated it, but still----....

There is much to be discovered about life, even by a brilliant and
rising young Professor of Physics....

Presently Dover, fingering the little glass of yellow chartreuse he had
hitherto forgotten in the heat of controversy, took a more personal
turn.

"Don't we know," he said, and made the limpid amber vanish in his pause.
"Don't we know we've got to manage and control 'em--just as we've got to
keep 'em and stand the racket of their misbehaviour? Don't our instincts
tell us? Doesn't something tell us all that if we let a woman loose with
our honour and trust, some other man will get hold of her? We've tried
it long enough now, this theory that a woman's a partner and an equal;
we've tried it long enough to see some of the results, and does it work?
Does it? A woman's a prize, a possession, a responsibility, something to
take care of and be careful about.... You chaps, if you'll forgive me,
you advanced chaps, seem to want to have the women take care of you. You
seem always to want to force decisions on them, make them answerable for
things that you ought to decide and answer for.... If one could, if one
could! If!... But they're not helps--that's a dream--they're
distractions, gratifications, anxieties, dangers, undertakings...."

Buzard got in his one effective blow at this point. "That's why you've
never married, Sir Roderick?" he threw out.

The big man was checked for a moment. Trafford wondered what memory lit
that instant's pause. "I've had my science," said Dover.


§ 5

Mrs. Pope was of course among the first to visit the new home so soon as
it was open to inspection. She arrived, looking very bright and neat in
a new bonnet and some new black furs that suited her, bearing up bravely
but obviously in a state of dispersed and miscellaneous emotion....

In many ways Marjorie's marriage had been a great relief to her mother.
Particularly it had been a financial relief. Marjorie had been the most
expensive child of her family, and her cessation had led to increments
both of Mrs. Pope's and Daphne's all too restricted allowances. Mrs.
Pope had been able therefore to relapse from the orthodox Anglicanism
into which poverty had driven her, and indulge for an hour weekly in the
consolations of Higher Thought. These exercises in emancipated
religiosity occurred at the house of Mr. Silas Root, and were greatly
valued by a large circle of clients. Essentially they were orgies of
vacuity, and they cost six guineas for seven hours. They did her no end
of good. All through the precious weekly hour she sat with him in a
silent twilight, very, very still and feeling--oh! "higher" than
anything, and when she came out she wore an inane smile on her face and
was prepared not to worry, to lie with facility, and to take the easiest
way in every eventuality in an entirely satisfactory and exalted manner.
Moreover he was "treating" her investments. Acting upon his advice, and
doing the whole thing quietly with the idea of preparing a pleasant
surprise for her husband, she had sold out of certain Home Railway
debentures and invested in a company for working the auriferous waste
which is so abundant in the drainage of Philadelphia, a company whose
shareholders were chiefly higher thought disciples and whose profits
therefore would inevitably be greatly enhanced by their concerted mental
action. It was to the prospective profits in this that she owed the new
black furs she was wearing.

The furs and the bonnet and the previous day's treatment she had had,
all helped to brace her up on Marjorie's doorstep for a complex and
difficult situation, and to carry her through the first tensions of her
call. She was so much to pieces as it was that she could not help
feeling how much more to pieces she might have been--but for the grace
of Silas Root. She knew she ought to have very strong feelings about
Trafford, though it was not really clear to her what feelings she ought
to have. On the whole she was inclined to believe she was experiencing
moral disapproval mixed up with a pathetic and rather hopeless appeal
for the welfare of the tender life that had entrusted itself so
recklessly to these brutal and discreditable hands, though indeed if she
had really dared to look inside her mind her chief discovery would have
been a keenly jealous appreciation of Trafford's good looks and generous
temper, and a feeling of injustice as between her own lot and
Marjorie's. However, going on her assumed basis she managed to be very
pale, concise and tight-lipped at any mention of her son-in-law, and to
put a fervour of helpless devotion into her embraces of her daughter.
She surveyed the house with a pained constrained expression, as though
she tried in vain to conceal from herself that it was all slightly
improper, and even such objects as the Bokhara hangings failed to extort
more than an insincere, "Oh, very nice, dear--_very_ nice."

In the bedroom, she spoke about Mr. Pope. "He was dreadfully upset," she
said. "His first thought was to come after you both with a pistol.
If--if _he_ hadn't married you----"

"But dear Mummy, of _course_ we meant to marry! We married right away."

"Yes, dear, of course. But if he hadn't----"

She paused, and Marjorie, with a momentary flush of indignation in her
cheeks, did not urge her to conclude her explanation.

"He's _wounded_," said Mrs. Pope. "Some day perhaps he'll come
round--you were always his favourite daughter."

"I know," said Marjorie concisely, with a faint flavour of cynicism in
her voice.

"I'm afraid dear, at present--he will do nothing for you."

"I don't think Rag would like him to," said Marjorie with an unreal
serenity; "_ever_."

"For a time I'm afraid he'll refuse to see you. He just wants to
forget----. Everything."

"Poor old Dad! I wish he wouldn't put himself out like this. Still, I
won't bother him, Mummy, if you mean that."

Then suddenly into Mrs. Pope's unsystematic, unstable mind, started
perhaps by the ring in her daughter's voice, there came a wave of
affectionate feeling. That she had somehow to be hostile and
unsympathetic to Marjorie, that she had to pretend that Trafford was
wicked and disgusting, and not be happy in the jolly hope and happiness
of this bright little house, cut her with a keen swift pain. She didn't
know clearly why she was taking this coldly hostile attitude, or why she
went on doing so, but the sense of that necessity hurt her none the
less. She put out her hands upon her daughter's shoulders and whimpered:
"Oh my dear! I do wish things weren't so difficult--so very difficult."

The whimper changed by some inner force of its own to honest sobs and
tears.

Marjorie passed through a flash of amazement to a sudden understanding
of her mother's case. "Poor dear Mummy," she said. "Oh! poor dear Mummy.
It's a shame of us!"

She put her arms about her mother and held her for awhile.

"It _is_ a shame," said her mother in a muffled voice, trying to keep
hold of this elusive thing that had somehow both wounded her and won her
daughter back. But her poor grasp slipped again. "I knew you'd come to
see it," she said, dabbing with her handkerchief at her eyes. "I knew
you would." And then with the habitual loyalty of years resuming its
sway: "He's always been so good to you."...

But Mrs. Pope had something more definite to say to Marjorie, and came
to it at last with a tactful offhandedness. Marjorie communicated it to
Trafford about an hour later on his return from the laboratory. "I say,"
she said, "old Daffy's engaged to Magnet!"

She paused, and added with just the faintest trace of resentment in her
voice: "She can have him, as far as I'm concerned."

"He didn't wait long," said Trafford tactlessly.

"No," said Marjorie; "he didn't wait long.... Of course she got him on
the rebound."...


§ 6

Mrs. Pope was only a day or so ahead of a cloud of callers. The Carmel
girls followed close upon her, tall figures of black fur, with
costly-looking muffs and a rich glitter at neck and wrist. Marjorie
displayed her house, talking fluently about other things, and watching
for effects. The Carmel girls ran their swift dark eyes over her
appointments, glanced quickly from side to side of her rooms, saw only
too certainly that the house was narrow and small----. But did they see
that it was clever? They saw at any rate that she meant it to be clever,
and with true Oriental politeness said as much urgently and
extravagantly. Then there were the Rambord girls and their mother, an
unobservant lot who chattered about the ice at Prince's; then Constance
Graham came with a thoroughbred but very dirty aunt, and then Ottiline
Winchelsea with an American minor poet, who wanted a view of mountains
from the windows at the back, and said the bathroom ought to be done in
pink. Then Lady Solomonson came; an extremely expensive-looking fair
lady with an affectation of cynicism, a keen intelligence, acutely apt
conversation, and a queer effect of thinking of something else all the
time she was talking. She missed nothing....

Hardly anybody failed to appreciate the charm and decision of Marjorie's
use of those Bokhara embroideries.

They would have been cheap at double the price.


§ 7

And then our two young people went out to their first dinner-parties
together. They began with Trafford's rich friend Solomonson, who had
played so large and so passive a part in their first meeting. He had
behaved with a sort of magnanimous triumph over the marriage. He made it
almost his personal affair, as though he had brought it about. "I knew
there was a girl in it," he insisted, "and you told me there wasn't.
O-a-ah! And you kept me in that smell of disinfectant and things--what a
chap that doctor was for spilling stuff!--for six blessed days!..."

Marjorie achieved a dress at once simple and good with great facility by
not asking the price until it was all over. (There is no half-success
with dinner-dresses, either the thing is a success and inestimable, or
not worth having at any price at all.) It was blue with a thread of
gold, and she had a necklace of blueish moonstones, gold-set, and her
hair ceased to be copper and became golden, and her eyes unfathomable
blue. She was radiant with health and happiness, no one else there had
her clear freshness, and her manner was as restrained and dignified and
ready as a proud young wife's can be. Everyone seemed to like her and
respect her and be interested in her, and Trafford kissed her flushed
cheek in the hansom as they came home again and crowned her happiness.
It had been quite a large party, and really much more splendid and
brilliant than anything she had ever seen before. There had been one old
gentleman with a coloured button and another with a ribbon; there had
been a countess with historical pearls, and half-a-dozen other people
one might fairly call distinguished. The house was tremendous in its
way, spacious, rich, glowing with lights, abounding in vistas and fine
remote backgrounds. In the midst of it all she had a sudden thrill at
the memory that less than a year ago she had been ignominiously
dismissed from the dinner-table by her father for a hiccup....

A few days after Aunt Plessington suddenly asked the Traffords to one of
her less important but still interesting gatherings; not one of those
that swayed the world perhaps, but one which Marjorie was given to
understand achieved important subordinate wagging. Aunt Plessington had
not called, she explained in her note, because of the urgent demands the
Movement made upon her time; it was her wonderful hard-breathing way
never to call on anyone, and it added tremendously to her reputation;
none the less it appeared--though here the scrawl became illegible--she
meant to shove and steer her dear niece upward at a tremendous pace.
They were even asked to come a little early so that she might make
Trafford's acquaintance.

The dress was duly admired, and then Aunt Plessington--assuming the
hearthrug and forgetting the little matter of their career--explained
quite Napoleonic and wonderful things she was going to do with her
Movement, fresh principles, fresh applications, a big committee of all
the "names"--they were easy to get if you didn't bother them to do
things--a new and more attractive title, "Payment in Kind" was to give
way to "Reality of Reward," and she herself was going to have her hair
bleached bright white (which would set off her eyes and colour and the
general geniality of appearance due to her projecting teeth), and so
greatly increase her "platform efficiency." Hubert, she said, was
toiling away hard at the detail of these new endeavours. He would be
down in a few minutes' time. Marjorie, she said, ought to speak at their
meetings. It would help both the Traffords to get on if Marjorie cut a
dash at the outset, and there was no such dash to be cut as speaking at
Aunt Plessington's meetings. It was catching on; all next season it was
sure to be the thing. So many promising girls allowed themselves to be
submerged altogether in marriage for a time, and when they emerged
everyone had forgotten the promise of their début. She had an air of
rescuing Marjorie from an impending fate by disabusing Trafford from
injurious prepossessions....

Presently the guests began to drop in, a vegetarian health specialist, a
rising young woman factory inspector, a phrenologist who was being
induced to put great talents to better uses under Aunt Plessington's
influence, his dumb, obscure, but inevitable wife, a colonial bishop, a
baroness with a taste rather than a capacity for intellectual society, a
wealthy jam and pickle manufacturer and his wife, who had subscribed
largely to the funds of the Movement and wanted to meet the lady of
title, and the editor of the Movement's organ, _Upward and On_, a young
gentleman of abundant hair and cadaverous silences, whom Aunt
Plessington patted on the shoulder and spoke of as "one of our
discoveries." And then Uncle Hubert came down, looking ruffled and
overworked, with his ready-made dress-tie--he was one of those men who
can never master the art of tying a bow--very much askew. The
conversation turned chiefly on the Movement; if it strayed Aunt
Plessington reached out her voice after it and brought it back in a
masterful manner.

Through soup and fish Marjorie occupied herself with the inflexible
rigour of the young editor, who had brought her down. When she could
give her attention to the general conversation she discovered her
husband a little flushed and tackling her aunt with an expression of
quiet determination. The phrenologist and the vegetarian health
specialist were regarding him with amazement, the jam and pickle
manufacturer's wife was evidently deeply shocked. He was refusing to
believe in the value of the Movement, and Aunt Plessington was
manifestly losing her temper.

"I don't see, Mrs. Plessington," he was saying, "that all this amounts
to more than a kind of Glorious District Visiting. That is how I see it.
You want to attack people in their homes--before they cry out to you.
You want to compel them by this Payment in Kind of yours to do what you
want them to do instead of trying to make them want to do it. Now, I
think your business is to make them want to do it. You may perhaps
increase the amount of milk in babies, and the amount of whitewash in
cottages and slums by your methods--I don't dispute the promise of your
statistics--but you're going to do it at a cost of human self-respect
that's out of all proportion----"

Uncle Hubert's voice, with that thick utterance that always suggested a
mouthful of plums, came booming down the table. "All these arguments,"
he said, "have been answered long ago."

"No doubt," said Trafford with a faint asperity. "But tell me the
answers."

"It's ridiculous," said Aunt Plessington, "to talk of the self-respect
of the kind of people--oh! the very dregs!"

"It's just because the plant is delicate that you've got to handle it
carefully," said Trafford.

"Here's Miss Gant," said Aunt Plessington, "_she_ knows the strata we
are discussing. She'll tell you they have positively _no_
self-respect--none at all."

"_My_ people," said Miss Gant, as if in conclusive testimony, "actually
conspire with their employers to defeat me."

"I don't see the absence of self-respect in that," said Trafford.

"But all their interests----"

"I'm thinking of their pride."...

The discussion lasted to the end of dinner and made no headway. As soon
as the ladies were in the drawing-room, Aunt Plessington, a little
flushed from the conflict, turned on Marjorie and said, "I _like_ your
husband. He's wrong-headed, but he's young, and he's certainly spirited.
He _ought_ to get on if he wants to. Does he do nothing but his
researches?"

"He lectures in the spring term," said Marjorie.

"Ah!" said Aunt Plessington with a triumphant note, "you must alter all
that. You must interest him in wider things. You must bring him out of
his shell, and let him see what it is to deal with Affairs. Then he
wouldn't talk such nonsense about our Work."

Marjory was at a momentary loss for a reply, and in the instant's
respite Aunt Plessington turned to the jam and pickle lady and asked in
a bright, encouraging note: "Well! And how's the Village Club getting
on?"...

She had another lunge at Trafford as he took his leave. "You must come
again soon," she said. "I _love_ a good wrangle, and Hubert and I never
want to talk about our Movement to any one but unbelievers. You don't
know the beginnings of it yet. Only I warn you they have a way of
getting converted. I warn you."...

On this occasion there was no kissing in the cab. Trafford was
exasperated.

"Of all the intolerable women!" he said, and was silent for a time.

"The astounding part of it is," he burst out, "that this sort of thing,
this Movement and all the rest of it, does really give the quality of
English public affairs. It's like a sample--dredged. The--the
_cheapness_ of it! Raised voices, rash assertions, sham investigations,
meetings and committees and meetings, that's the stuff of it, and
politicians really have to attend to it, and silly, ineffective,
irritating bills really get drafted and messed about with and passed on
the strength of it. Public affairs are still in the Dark Ages. Nobody
now would think of getting together a scratch committee of rich old
women and miscellaneous conspicuous people to design an electric tram,
and jabbering and jabbering and jabbering, and if any one objects"--a
note of personal bitterness came into his voice--"jabbering faster; but
nobody thinks it ridiculous to attempt the organization of poor people's
affairs in that sort of way. This project of the supersession of Wages
by Payment in Kind--oh! it's childish. If it wasn't it would be
outrageous and indecent. Your uncle and aunt haven't thought for a
moment of any single one of the necessary consequences of these things
they say their confounded Movement aims at, effects upon the race, upon
public spirit, upon people's habits and motives. They've just a queer
craving to feel powerful and influential, which they think they can best
satisfy by upsetting the lives of no end of harmless poor people--the
only people they dare upset--and that's about as far as they go.... Your
aunt's detestable, Marjorie."

Marjorie had never seen him so deeply affected by anything but herself.
It seemed to her he was needlessly disturbed by a trivial matter. He
sulked for a space, and then broke out again.

"That confounded woman talks of my physical science," he said, "as if
research were an amiable weakness, like collecting postage stamps. And
it's changed human conditions more in the last ten years than all the
parliamentary wire-pullers and legislators and administrative experts
have done in two centuries. And for all that, there's more clerks in
Whitehall than professors of physics in the whole of England."...

"I suppose it's the way that sort of thing gets done," said Marjorie,
after an interval.

"That sort of thing doesn't get done," snapped Trafford. "All these
people burble about with their movements and jobs, and lectures and
stuff--and _things happen_. Like some one getting squashed to death in a
crowd. Nobody did it, but anybody in the muddle can claim to have done
it--if only they've got the cheek of your Aunt Plessington."

He seemed to have finished.

"_Done!_" he suddenly broke out again. "Why! people like your Aunt
Plessington don't even know where the handle is. If they ventured to
look for it, they'd give the whole show away! Done, indeed!"

"Here we are!" said Marjorie, a little relieved to find the hansom
turning out of King's Road into their own side street....

And then Marjorie wore the blue dress with great success at the
Carmels'. The girls came and looked at it and admired it--it was no mere
politeness. They admitted there was style about it, a quality--there was
no explaining. "You're _wonderful_, Madge!" cried the younger Carmel
girl.

The Carmel boy, seizing the opportunity of a momentary seclusion in a
corner, ended a short but rather portentous silence with "I say, you
_do_ look ripping," in a voice that implied the keenest regret for the
slacknesses of a summer that was now infinitely remote to Marjorie. It
was ridiculous that the Carmel boy should have such emotions--he was six
years younger than Trafford and only a year older than Marjorie, and yet
she was pleased by his manifest wound....

There was only one little thing at the back of her mind that alloyed her
sense of happy and complete living that night, and that was the ghost of
an addition sum. At home, in her pretty bureau, a little gathering pile
of bills, as yet unpaid, and an empty cheque-book with appealing
counterfoils, awaited her attention.

Marjorie had still to master the fact that all the fine braveries and
interests and delights of life that offer themselves so amply to the
favoured children of civilization, trail and, since the fall of man at
any rate, have trailed after them something--something, the
justification of morality, the despair of all easy, happy souls, the
unavoidable drop of bitterness in the cup of pleasure--the Reckoning.



CHAPTER THE SECOND

THE CHILD OF THE AGES


§ 1

When the intellectual history of this time comes to be written, nothing
I think will stand out more strikingly than the empty gulf in quality
between the superb and richly fruitful scientific investigations that
are going on and the general thought of other educated sections of the
community. I do not mean that the scientific men are as a whole a class
of supermen, dealing with and thinking about everything in a way
altogether better than the common run of humanity, but that in their own
field, they think and work with an intensity, an integrity, a breadth,
boldness, patience, thoroughness and faithfulness that (excepting only a
few artists) puts their work out of all comparison with any other human
activity. Often the field in which the work is done is very narrow, and
almost universally the underlying philosophy is felt rather than
apprehended. A scientific man may be large and deep-minded, deliberate
and personally detached in his work, and hasty, commonplace and
superficial in every other relation of life. Nevertheless it is true
that in these particular directions the human mind has achieved a new
and higher quality of attitude and gesture, a veracity, self-detachment
and self-abnegating vigour of criticism that tend to spread out and must
ultimately spread out to every other human affair. In these
uncontroversial issues at least mankind has learnt the rich rewards that
ensue from patience and infinite pains.

The peculiar circumstances of Trafford's birth and upbringing had
accentuated his natural disposition toward this new thoroughness of
intellectual treatment which has always distinguished the great artist,
and which to-day is also the essential quality of the scientific method.
He had lived apart from any urgency to produce and compete in the common
business of the world; his natural curiosities, fed and encouraged by
his natural gifts, had grown into a steady passion for clarity and
knowledge. But with him there was no specialization. He brought out from
his laboratory into the everyday affairs of the world the same sceptical
restraint of judgment which is the touchstone of scientific truth. This
made him a tepid and indeed rather a scornful spectator of political and
social life. Party formulae, international rivalries, social customs,
and very much of the ordinary law of our state impressed him as a kind
of fungoid growth out of a fundamental intellectual muddle. It all
maintained itself hazardously, changing and adapting itself
unintelligently to unseen conditions. He saw no ultimate truth in this
seething welter of human efforts, no tragedy as yet in its defeats, no
value in its victories. It had to go on, he believed, until the
spreading certitudes of the scientific method pierced its unsubstantial
thickets, burst its delusive films, drained away its folly. Aunt
Plessington's talk of order and progress and the influence of her
Movement impressed his mind very much as the cackle of some larger kind
of hen--which cackles because it must. Only Aunt Plessington being human
simply imagined the egg. She laid--on the plane of the ideal. When the
great nonsensical issues between liberal and conservative, between
socialist and individualist, between "Anglo-Saxon" and "Teuton," between
the "white race" and the "yellow race" arose in Trafford's company, he
would if he felt cheerful take one side or the other as chance or his
amusement with his interlocutors determined, and jest and gibe at the
opponent's inconsistencies, and if on the other hand he chanced to be
irritable he would lose his temper at this "chewing of mesembryanthemum"
and sulk into silence. "Chewing mesembryanthemum" was one of Trafford's
favourite images,--no doubt the reader knows that abundant fleshy
Mediterranean weed and the weakly unpleasant wateriness of its
substance. He went back to his laboratory and his proper work after such
discussions with a feeling of escape, as if he shut a door upon a dirty
and undisciplined market-place crowded with mental defectives. Yet even
before he met and married Marjorie, there was a queer little undertow of
thought in his mind which insisted that this business could not end with
door-slamming, that he didn't altogether leave the social confusion
outside his panels when he stood alone before his apparatus, and that
sooner or later that babble of voices would force his defences and
overcome his disdain.

His particular work upon the intimate constitution of matter had
broadened very rapidly in his hands. The drift of his work had been to
identify all colloids as liquid solutions of variable degrees of
viscosity, and to treat crystalline bodies as the only solids. He had
dealt with oscillating processes in colloid bodies with especial
reference to living matter. He had passed from a study of the melting
and toughening of glass to the molecular structure of a number of
elastic bodies, and so, by a characteristic leap into botanical
physiology, to the states of resinous and gummy substances at the moment
of secretion. He worked at first upon a false start, and then resumed to
discover a growing illumination. He found himself in the presence of
phenomena that seemed to him to lie near the still undiscovered
threshold to the secret processes of living protoplasm. He was, as it
were, breaking into biology by way of molecular physics. He spent many
long nights of deep excitement, calculating and arranging the
development of these seductive intimations. It was this work which his
marriage had interrupted, and to which he was now returning.

He was surprised to find how difficult it was to take it up again. He
had been only two months away from it, and yet already it had not a
little of the feeling of a relic taken from a drawer. Something had
faded. It was at first as if a film had come over his eyes, so that he
could no longer see these things clearly and subtly and closely. His
senses, his emotions, had been living in a stirring and vivid
illumination. Now in this cool quietude bright clouds of coloured
memory-stuff swam distractingly before his eyes. Phantom kisses on his
lips, the memory of touches and the echoing vibrations of an adorable
voice, the thought of a gay delightful fireside and the fresh
recollection of a companion intensely felt beside him, effaced the
delicate profundities of this dim place. Durgan hovered about him,
helpful and a mute reproach. Trafford had to force his attention daily
for the better part of two weeks before he had fully recovered the fine
enchanting interest of that suspended work.


§ 2

At last one day he had the happiness of possession again. He had exactly
the sensation one gets when some hitherto intractable piece of a machine
one is putting together, clicks neatly and beyond all hoping, into its
place. He found himself working in the old style, with the hours
slipping by disregarded. He sent out Durgan to get him tobacco and tea
and smoked-salmon sandwiches, and he stayed in the laboratory all night.
He went home about half-past five, and found a white-faced, red-eyed
Marjorie still dressed, wrapped in a travelling-rug, and crumpled and
asleep in his study arm-chair beside the grey ashes of an extinct fire.

In the instant before she awoke he could see what a fragile and pitiful
being a healthy and happy young wife can appear. Her pose revealed an
unsuspected slender weakness of body, her face something infantile and
wistful he had still to reckon with. She awoke with a start and stared
at him for a moment, and at the room about her. "Oh, where have you
been?" she asked almost querulously. "Where _have_ you been?"

"But my dear!" he said, as one might speak to a child, "why aren't you
in bed? It's just dawn."

"Oh," she said, "I waited and I waited. It seemed you _must_ come. I
read a book. And then I fell asleep." And then with a sob of feeble
self-pity, "And here I am!" She rubbed the back of her hand into one eye
and shivered. "I'm cold," she said, "and I want some tea."

"Let's make some," said Trafford.

"It's been horrible waiting," said Marjorie without moving; "horrible!
Where have you been?"

"I've been working. I got excited by my work. I've been at the
laboratory. I've had the best spell of work I've ever had since our
marriage."

"But I have been up all night!" she cried with her face and voice
softening to tears. "How _could_ you? How _could_ you?"

He was surprised by her weeping. He was still more surprised by the
self-abandonment that allowed her to continue. "I've been working," he
repeated, and then looked about with a man's helplessness for the tea
apparatus. One must have hot water and a teapot and a kettle; he would
find those in the kitchen. He strolled thoughtfully out of the room,
thinking out the further details of tea-making all mixed up with
amazement at Marjorie, while she sat wiping her eyes with a crumpled
pocket-handkerchief. Presently she followed him down with the rug about
her like a shawl, and stood watching him as he lit a fire of wood and
paper among the ashes in the kitchen fireplace. "It's been dreadful,"
she said, not offering to help.

"You see," he said, on his knees, "I'd really got hold of my work at
last."

"But you should have sent----"

"I was thinking of my work. I clean forgot."

"Forgot?"

"Absolutely."

"Forgot--_me!_"

"Of course," said Trafford, with a slightly puzzled air, "you don't see
it as I do."

The kettle engaged him for a time. Then he threw out a suggestion.
"We'll have to have a telephone."

"I couldn't imagine where you were. I thought of all sorts of things. I
almost came round--but I was so horribly afraid I mightn't find you."

He renewed his suggestion of a telephone.

"So that if I really want you----" said Marjorie. "Or if I just want to
feel you're there."

"Yes," said Trafford slowly, jabbing a piece of firewood into the glow;
but it was chiefly present in his mind that much of that elaborate
experimenting of his wasn't at all a thing to be cut athwart by the
exasperating gusts of a telephone bell clamouring for attention.
Hitherto the laboratory telephone had been in the habit of disconnecting
itself early in the afternoon.

And yet after all it was this instrument, the same twisted wire and
little quivering tympanum, that had brought back Marjorie into his life.


§ 3

And now Trafford fell into a great perplexity of mind. His banker had
called his attention to the fact that his account was overdrawn to the
extent of three hundred and thirteen pounds, and he had been under that
vague sort of impression one always has about one's current account that
he was a hundred and fifty or so to the good. His first impression was
that those hitherto infallible beings, those unseen gnomes of the
pass-book whose lucid figures, neat tickings, and unrelenting additions
constituted banks to his imagination, must have made a mistake; his
second that some one had tampered with a cheque. His third thought
pointed to Marjorie and the easy circumstances of his home. For a
fortnight now she had been obviously ailing, oddly irritable; he did not
understand the change in her, but it sufficed to prevent his taking the
thing to her at once and going into it with her as he would have done
earlier. Instead he had sent for his pass-book, and in the presence of
its neat columns realized for the first time the meaning of Marjorie's
"three hundred pounds." Including half-a-dozen cheques to Oxbridge
tradesmen for her old debts, she had spent, he discovered, nearly seven
hundred and fifty.

He sat before the little bundle of crumpled strips of pink and white,
perforated, purple stamped and effaced, in a state of extreme
astonishment. It was no small factor in his amazement to note how very
carelessly some of those cheques of Marjorie's had been written. Several
she had not even crossed. The effect of it all was that she'd just spent
his money--freely--with an utter disregard of the consequences.

Up to that moment it had never occurred to Trafford that anybody one
really cared for, could be anything but punctilious about money. Now
here, with an arithmetical exactitude of demonstration, he perceived
that Marjorie wasn't.

It was so tremendous a discovery for him, so disconcerting and
startling, that he didn't for two days say a word to her about it. He
couldn't think of a word to say. He felt that even to put these facts
before her amounted to an accusation of disloyalty and selfishness that
he hadn't the courage to make. His work stopped altogether. He struggled
hourly with that accusation. Did she realize----? There seemed no escape
from his dilemma; either she didn't care or she didn't understand!

His thoughts went back to the lake of Orta, when he had put all his
money at her disposal. She had been surprised, and now he perceived she
had also been a little frightened. The chief excuse he could find for
her was that she was inexperienced--absolutely inexperienced.

Even now, of course, she was drawing fresh cheques....

He would have to pull himself together, and go into the whole thing--for
all its infinite disagreeableness--with her....

But it was Marjorie who broached the subject.

He had found work at the laboratory unsatisfactory, and after lunching
at his club he had come home and gone to his study in order to think out
the discussion he contemplated with her. She came in to him as he sat
at his desk. "Busy?" she said. "Not very," he answered, and she came up
to him, kissed his head, and stood beside him with her hand on his
shoulder.

"Pass-book?" she asked.

He nodded.

"I've been overrunning."

"No end."

The matter was opened. What would she say?

She bent to his ear and whispered. "I'm going to overrun some more."

His voice was resentful. "You _can't_," he said compactly without
looking at her. "You've spent--enough."

"There's--things."

"What things?"

Her answer took some time in coming. "We'll have to give a wedding
present to Daffy.... I shall want--some more furniture."

Well, he had to go into it now. "I don't think you can have it," he
said, and then as she remained silent, "Marjorie, do you know how much
money I've got?"

"Six thousand."

"I _had_. But we've spent nearly a thousand pounds. Yes--one thousand
pounds--over and above income. We meant to spend four hundred. And now,
we've got--hardly anything over five."

"Five thousand," said Marjorie.

"Five thousand."

"And there's your salary."

"Yes, but at this pace----"

"Dear," said Marjorie, and her hands came about his neck, "dear--there's
something----"

She broke off. An unfamiliar quality in her voice struck into him. He
turned his head to see her face, rose to his feet staring at her.

This remarkable young woman had become soft and wonderful as April hills
across which clouds are sweeping. Her face was as if he had never seen
it before; her eyes bright with tears.

"Oh! don't let's spoil things by thinking of money," she said. "I've got
something----" Her voice fell to a whisper. "Don't let's spoil things by
thinking of money.... It's too good, dear, to be true. It's too good to
be true. It makes everything perfect.... We'll have to furnish that
little room. I didn't dare to hope it--somehow. I've been so excited and
afraid. But we've got to furnish that little room there--that empty
little room upstairs, dear, that we left over.... Oh my _dear!_ my
_dear!_"


§ 4

The world of Trafford and Marjorie was filled and transfigured by the
advent of their child.

For two days of abundant silences he had been preparing a statement of
his case for her, he had been full of the danger to his research and all
the waste of his life that her extravagance threatened. He wanted to
tell her just all that his science meant to him, explain how his income
and life had all been arranged to leave him, mind and time and energy,
free for these commanding investigations. His life was to him the
service of knowledge--or futility. He had perceived that she did not
understand this in him; that for her, life was a blaze of eagerly sought
experiences and gratifications. So far he had thought out things and had
them ready for her. But now all this impending discussion vanished out
of his world. Their love was to be crowned by the miracle of parentage.
This fact flooded his outlook and submerged every other consideration.

This manifest probability came to him as if it were an unforeseen
marvel. It was as if he had never thought of such a thing before, as
though a fact entirely novel in the order of the universe had come into
existence. Marjorie became again magical and wonderful for him, but in a
manner new and strange, she was grave, solemn, significant. He was
filled with a passionate solicitude for her welfare, and a passionate
desire to serve her. It seemed impossible to him that only a day or so
ago he should have been accusing her in his heart of disloyalty, and
searching for excuses and mitigations....

All the freshness of his first love for Marjorie returned, his keen
sense of the sweet gallantry of her voice and bearing, his admiration
for the swift, falconlike swoop of her decisions, for the grace and
poise of her body, and the steady frankness of her eyes; but now it was
all charged with his sense of this new joint life germinating at the
heart of her slender vigour, spreading throughout her being to change it
altogether into womanhood for ever. In this new light his passion for
research and all the scheme of his life appeared faded and unworthy, as
much egotism as if he had been devoted to hunting or golf or any such
aimless preoccupation. Fatherhood gripped him and faced him about. It
was manifestly a monstrous thing that he should ever have expected
Marjorie to become a mere undisturbing accessory to the selfish
intellectualism of his career, to shave and limit herself to a mere
bachelor income, and play no part of her own in the movement of the
world. He knew better now. Research must fall into its proper place,
and for his immediate business he must set to work to supplement his
manifestly inadequate resources.

At first he could form no plan at all for doing that. He determined that
research must still have his morning hours until lunch-time, and, he
privately resolved, some part of the night. The rest of his day, he
thought, he would set aside for a time to money-making. But he was
altogether inexperienced in the methods of money-making; it was a new
problem, and a new sort of problem to him altogether. He discovered
himself helpless and rather silly in the matter. The more obvious
possibilities seemed to be that he might lecture upon his science or
write. He communicated with a couple of lecture agencies, and was amazed
at their scepticism; no doubt he knew his science, on that point they
were complimentary in a profuse, unconvincing manner, but could he
interest like X--and here they named a notorious quack--could he _draw_?
He offered Science Notes to a weekly periodical; the editor answered
that for the purposes of his publication he preferred, as between
professors and journalists, journalists. "You real scientific men," he
said, "are no doubt a thousand times more accurate and novel and all
that, but as no one seems able to understand you----" He went to his old
fellow-student, Gwenn, who was editing _The Scientific Review_, and
through him he secured some semi-popular lectures, which involved, he
found, travelling about twenty-nine miles weekly at the rate of
four-and-sixpence a mile--counting nothing for the lectures. Afterwards
Gwenn arranged for some regular notes on physics and micro-chemistry.
Trafford made out a weekly time-table, on whose white of dignity,
leisure, and the honourable pursuit of knowledge, a diaper of red marked
the claims of domestic necessity.


§ 5

It was astonishing how completely this coming child dominated the whole
atmosphere and all the circumstances of the Traffords. It became their
central fact, to which everything else turned and pointed. Its effect on
Marjorie's circle of school and college friends was prodigious. She was
the first of their company to cross the mysterious boundaries of a
woman's life. She became to them a heroine mingled with something of the
priestess. They called upon her more abundantly and sat with her, noted
the change in her eyes and voice and bearing, talking with a kind of awe
and a faint diffidence of the promised new life.

Many of them had been deeply tinged by the women's suffrage movement,
the feminist note was strong among them, and when one afternoon Ottiline
Winchelsea brought round Agatha Alimony, the novelist, and Agatha said
in that deep-ringing voice of hers: "I hope it will be a girl, so that
presently she may fight the battle of her sex," there was the
profoundest emotion. But when Marjorie conveyed that to Trafford he was
lacking in response.

"I want a boy," he said, and, being pressed for a reason, explained:
"Oh, one likes to have a boy. I want him with just your quick eyes and
ears, my dear, and just my own safe and certain hands."

Mrs. Pope received the news with that depth and aimless complexity of
emotion which had now become her habitual method with Marjorie. She
kissed and clasped her daughter, and thought confusedly over her
shoulder, and said: "Of course, dear----. Oh, I _do_ so hope it won't
annoy your father." Daffy was "nice," but vague, and sufficiently
feminist to wish it a daughter, and the pseudo-twins said "_Hoo_-ray!"
and changed the subject at the earliest possible opportunity. But
Theodore was deeply moved at the prospect of becoming an uncle, and went
apart and mused deeply and darkly thereon for some time. It was
difficult to tell just what Trafford's mother thought, she was complex
and subtle, and evidently did not show Marjorie all that was in her
mind; but at any rate it was clear the prospect of a grandchild pleased
and interested her. And about Aunt Plessington's views there was no
manner of doubt at all. She thought, and remarked judicially, as one
might criticize a game of billiards, that on the whole it was just a
little bit too soon.


§ 6

Marjorie kept well throughout March and April, and then suddenly she
grew unutterably weary and uncomfortable in London. The end of April
came hot and close and dry--it might have been July for the heat--the
scrap of garden wilted, and the streets were irritating with fine dust
and blown scraps of paper and drifting straws. She could think of
nothing but the shade of trees, and cornfields under sunlight and the
shadows of passing clouds. So Trafford took out an old bicycle and
wandered over the home counties for three days, and at last hit upon a
little country cottage near Great Missenden, a cottage a couple of girl
artists had furnished and now wanted to let. It had a long, untidy
vegetable garden and a small orchard and drying-ground, with an old,
superannuated humbug of a pear-tree near the centre surrounded by a
green seat, and high hedges with the promise of honeysuckle and
dog-roses, and gaps that opened into hospitable beechwoods--woods not
so thick but that there were glades of bluebells, bracken and, to be
exact, in places embattled stinging-nettles. He took it and engaged a
minute, active, interested, philoprogenitive servant girl for it, and
took Marjorie thither in a taxi-cab. She went out, wrapped in a shawl,
and sat under the pear-tree and cried quietly with weakness and
sentiment and the tenderness of afternoon sunshine, and forthwith began
to pick up wonderfully, and was presently writing to Trafford to buy her
a dog to go for walks with, while he was away in London.

Trafford was still struggling along with his research in spite of a
constant gravitation to the cottage and Marjorie's side, but he was also
doing his best to grapple with the difficulties of his financial
situation. His science notes, which were very uncongenial and difficult
to do, and his lecturing, still left his income far behind his
expenditure, and the problem of minimising the inevitable fresh inroads
on his capital was insistent and distracting. He discovered that he
could manage his notes more easily and write a more popular article if
he dictated to a typist instead of writing out the stuff in his own
manuscript. Dictating made his sentences more copious and open, and the
effect of the young lady's by no means acquiescent back was to make him
far more explicit than he tended to be pen in hand. With a pen and alone
he felt the boredom of the job unendurably, and, to be through with it,
became more and more terse, allusive, and compactly technical, after the
style of his original papers. One or two articles by him were accepted
and published by the monthly magazines, but as he took what the editors
sent him, he did not find this led to any excessive opulence....

But his heart was very much with Marjorie through all this time.
Hitherto he had taken her health and vigour and companionship for
granted, and it changed his attitudes profoundly to find her now an
ailing thing, making an invincible appeal for restraint and
consideration and help. She changed marvellously, she gained a new
dignity, and her complexion took upon itself a fresh, soft beauty. He
would spend three or four days out of a week at the cottage, and long
hours of that would be at her side, paper and notes of some forthcoming
lecture at hand neglected, talking to her consolingly and dreamingly.
His thoughts were full of ideas about education; he was obsessed, as are
most intelligent young parents of the modern type, by the enormous
possibilities of human improvement that might be achieved--if only one
could begin with a baby from the outset, on the best lines, with the
best methods, training and preparing it--presumably for a cleaned and
chastened world. Indeed he made all the usual discoveries of intelligent
modern young parents very rapidly, fully and completely, and overlooked
most of those practical difficulties that finally reduce them to human
dimensions again in quite the normal fashion.

"I sit and muse sometimes when I ought to be computing," he said. "Old
Durgan watches me and grunts. But think, if we take reasonable care,
watch its phases, stand ready with a kindergarten toy directly it
stretches out its hand--think what we can make of it!"...

"We will make it the most wonderful child in the world," said Marjorie.
"Indeed! what else can it be?"

"Your eyes," said Trafford, "and my hands."

"A girl."

"A boy."

He kissed her white and passive wrist.


§ 7

The child was born a little before expectation at the cottage throughout
a long summer's night and day in early September. Its coming into the
world was a long and painful struggle; the general practitioner who had
seemed two days before a competent and worthy person enough, revealed
himself as hesitating, old-fashioned, and ill-equipped. He had a
lingering theological objection to the use of chloroform, and the nurse
from London sulked under his directions and came and discussed his
methods scornfully with Trafford. From sundown until daylight Trafford
chafed in the little sitting-room and tried to sleep, and hovered
listening at the foot of the narrow staircase to the room above. He
lived through interminable hours of moaning and suspense....

The dawn and sunrise came with a quality of beautiful horror. For years
afterwards that memory stood out among other memories as something
peculiarly strange and dreadful. Day followed an interminable night and
broke slowly. Things crept out of darkness, awoke as it were out of
mysteries and reclothed themselves in unsubstantial shadows and
faint-hued forms. All through that slow infiltration of the world with
light and then with colour, the universe it seemed was moaning and
endeavouring, and a weak and terrible struggle went on and kept on in
that forbidden room whose windows opened upon the lightening world,
dying to a sobbing silence, rising again to agonizing cries,
fluctuating, a perpetual obstinate failure to achieve a tormenting end.
He went out, and behold the sky was a wonder of pink flushed level
clouds and golden hope, and nearly every star except the morning star
had gone, the supine moon was pale and half-dissolved in blue, and the
grass which had been grey and wet, was green again, and the bushes and
trees were green. He returned and hovered in the passage, washed his
face, listened outside the door for age-long moments, and then went out
again to listen under the window....

He went to his room and shaved, sat for a long time thinking, and then
suddenly knelt by his bed and prayed. He had never prayed before in all
his life....

He returned to the garden, and there neglected and wet with dew was the
camp chair Marjorie had sat on the evening before, the shawl she had
been wearing, the novel she had been reading. He brought these things in
as if they were precious treasures....

Light was pouring into the world again now. He noticed with an extreme
particularity the detailed dewy delicacy of grass and twig, the silver
edges to the leaves of briar and nettle, the soft clearness of the moss
on bank and wall. He noted the woods with the first warmth of autumn
tinting their green, the clear, calm sky, with just a wisp or so of
purple cloud waning to a luminous pink on the brightening east, the
exquisite freshness of the air. And still through the open window,
incessant, unbearable, came this sound of Marjorie moaning, now dying
away, now reviving, now weakening again....

Was she dying? Were they murdering her? It was incredible this torture
could go on. Somehow it must end. Chiefly he wanted to go in and kill
the doctor. But it would do no good to kill the doctor!

At last the nurse came out, looking a little scared, to ask him to cycle
three miles away and borrow some special sort of needle that the fool of
a doctor had forgotten. He went, outwardly meek, and returning was met
by the little interested servant, very alert and excited and rather
superior--for here was something no man can do--with the news that he
had a beautiful little daughter, and that all was well with Marjorie.

He said "Thank God, thank God!" several times, and then went out into
the kitchen and began to eat some flabby toast and drink some lukewarm
tea he found there. He was horribly fatigued. "Is she all right?" he
asked over his shoulder, hearing the doctor's footsteps on the
stairs....

They were very pontifical and official with him.

Presently they brought out a strange, wizened little animal, wailing
very stoutly, with a face like a very, very old woman, and reddish skin
and hair--it had quite a lot of wet blackish hair of an incredible
delicacy of texture. It kicked with a stumpy monkey's legs and inturned
feet. He held it: his heart went out to it. He pitied it beyond measure,
it was so weak and ugly. He was astonished and distressed by the fact of
its extreme endearing ugliness. He had expected something strikingly
pretty. It clenched a fist, and he perceived it had all its complement
of fingers and ridiculous, pretentious little finger nails. Inside that
fist it squeezed his heart.... He did not want to give it back to them.
He wanted to protect it. He felt they could not understand it or
forgive, as he could forgive, its unjustifiable feebleness....

Later, for just a little while, he was permitted to see
Marjorie--Marjorie so spent, so unspeakably weary, and yet so
reassuringly vital and living, so full of gentle pride and gentler
courage amidst the litter of surgical precaution, that the tears came
streaming down his face and he sobbed shamelessly as he kissed her.
"Little daughter," she whispered and smiled--just as she had always
smiled--that sweet, dear smile of hers!--and closed her eyes and said
no more....

Afterwards as he walked up and down the garden he remembered their
former dispute and thought how characteristic of Marjorie it was to have
a daughter in spite of all his wishes.


§ 8

For weeks and weeks this astonishing and unprecedented being filled the
Traffords' earth and sky. Very speedily its minute quaintness passed,
and it became a vigorous delightful baby that was, as the nurse
explained repeatedly and very explicitly, not only quite exceptional and
distinguished, but exactly everything that a baby should be. Its weight
became of supreme importance; there was a splendid week when it put on
nine ounces, and an indifferent one when it added only one. And then
came a terrible crisis. It was ill; some sort of infection had reached
it, an infantile cholera. Its temperature mounted to a hundred and three
and a half. It became a flushed misery, wailing with a pathetic feeble
voice. Then it ceased to wail. Marjorie became white-lipped and
heavy-eyed from want of sleep, and it seemed to Trafford that perhaps
his child might die. It seemed to him that the spirit of the universe
must be a monstrous calivan since children had to die. He went for a
long walk through the October beechwoods, under a windy sky, and in a
drift of falling leaves, wondering with a renewed freshness at the
haunting futilities of life.... Life was not futile--anything but that,
but futility seemed to be stalking it, waiting for it.... When he
returned the child was already better, and in a few days it was well
again--but very light and thin.

When they were sure of its safety, Marjorie and he confessed the
extremity of their fears to one another. They had not dared to speak
before, and even now they spoke in undertones of the shadow that had
hovered and passed over the dearest thing in their lives.



CHAPTER THE THIRD

THE NEW PHASE


§ 1

In the course of the next six months the child of the ages became an
almost ordinary healthy baby, and Trafford began to think consecutively
about his scientific work again--in the intervals of effort of a more
immediately practical sort.

The recall of molecular physics and particularly of the internal
condition of colloids to something like their old importance in his life
was greatly accelerated by the fact that a young Oxford don named
Behrens was showing extraordinary energy in what had been for a time
Trafford's distinctive and undisputed field. Behrens was one of those
vividly clever energetic people who are the despair of originative men.
He had begun as Trafford's pupil and sedulous ape; he had gone on to
work that imitated Trafford's in everything except its continual
freshness, and now he was ransacking every scrap of suggestion to be
found in Trafford's work, and developing it with an intensity of
uninspired intelligence that most marvellously simulated originality. He
was already being noted as an authority; sometimes in an article his
name would be quoted and Trafford's omitted in relation to Trafford's
ideas, and in every way his emergence and the manner of his emergence
threatened and stimulated his model and master. A great effort had to be
made. Trafford revived the drooping spirits of Durgan by a renewed
punctuality in the laboratory. He began to stay away from home at night
and work late again, now, however, under no imperative inspiration, but
simply because it was only by such an invasion of the evening and night
that it would be possible to make headway against Behren's unremitting
industry. And this new demand upon Trafford's already strained mental
and nervous equipment began very speedily to have its effect upon his
domestic life.

It is only in romantic fiction that a man can work strenuously to the
limit of his power and come home to be sweet, sunny and entertaining.
Trafford's preoccupation involved a certain negligence of Marjorie, a
certain indisposition to be amused or interested by trifling things, a
certain irritability....


§ 2

And now, indeed, the Traffords were coming to the most difficult and
fatal phase in marriage. They had had that taste of defiant adventure
which is the crown of a spirited love affair, they had known the
sweetness of a maiden passion for a maid, and they had felt all those
rich and solemn emotions, those splendid fears and terrible hopes that
weave themselves about the great partnership in parentage. And now, so
far as sex was concerned, there might be much joy and delight still, but
no more wonder, no fresh discoveries of incredible new worlds and
unsuspected stars. Love, which had been a new garden, an unknown land, a
sunlit sea to launch upon, was now a rich treasure-house of memories.
And memories, although they afford a perpetually increasing enrichment
to emotion, are not sufficient in themselves for the daily needs of
life.

For this, indeed, is the truth of passionate love, that it works outs
its purpose and comes to an end. A day arrives in every marriage when
the lovers must face each other, disillusioned, stripped of the last
shred of excitement--undisguisedly themselves. And our two were married;
they had bound themselves together under a penalty of scandalous
disgrace, to take the life-long consequences of their passionate
association.

It was upon Trafford that this exhaustion of the sustaining magic of
love pressed most severely, because it was he who had made the greatest
adaptations to the exigencies of their union. He had crippled, he
perceived more and more clearly, the research work upon which his whole
being had once been set, and his hours were full of tiresome and trivial
duties and his mind engaged and worried by growing financial anxieties.
He had made these abandonments in a phase of exalted passion for the one
woman in the world and her unprecedented child, and now he saw, in spite
of all his desire not to see, that she was just a weak human being among
human beings, and neither she nor little Margharita so very marvellous.

But while Marjorie shrank to the dimensions of reality, research
remained still a luminous and commanding dream. In love one fails or one
wins home, but the lure of research is for ever beyond the hills, every
victory is a new desire. Science has inexhaustibly fresh worlds to
conquer....

He was beginning now to realize the dilemma of his life, the reality of
the opposition between Marjorie and child and home on the one hand and
on the other this big wider thing, this remoter, severer demand upon his
being. He had long perceived these were distinct and different things,
but now it appeared more and more inevitable that they should be
antagonistic and mutually disregardful things. Each claimed him
altogether, it seemed, and suffered compromise impatiently. And this is
where the particular stress of his situation came in. Hitherto he had
believed that nothing of any importance was secret or inexplicable
between himself and Marjorie. His ideal of his relationship had assumed
a complete sympathy of feeling, an almost instinctive identity of
outlook. And now it was manifest they were living in a state of
inadequate understanding, that she knew only in the most general and
opaque forms, the things that interested him so profoundly, and had but
the most superficial interest in his impassioned curiosities. And
missing as she did the strength of his intellectual purpose she missed
too, she had no inkling of, the way in which her careless expansiveness
pressed upon him. She was unaware that she was destroying an essential
thing in his life.

He could not tell how far this antagonism was due to inalterable
discords of character, how far it might not be an ineradicable sex
difference, a necessary aspect of marriage. The talk of old Sir Roderick
Dover at the Winton Club germinated in his mind, a branching and
permeating suggestion. And then would come a phase of keen sympathy with
Marjorie; she would say brilliant and penetrating things, display a
swift cleverness that drove all these intimations of incurable
divergence clean out of his head again. Then he would find explanations
in the differences between his and Marjorie's training and early
associations. He perceived his own upbringing had had a steadfastness
and consistency that had been altogether lacking in hers. He had had the
rare advantage of perfect honesty in the teaching and tradition of his
home. There had never been any shams or sentimentalities for him to find
out and abandon. From boyhood his mother's hand had pointed steadily to
the search for truth as the supreme ennobling fact in life. She had
never preached this to him, never delivered discourses upon his father's
virtues, but all her conversation and life was saturated with this idea.
Compared with this atmosphere of high and sustained direction, the
intellectual and moral quality of the Popes, he saw, was the quality of
an agitated rag bag. They had thought nothing out, joined nothing
together, they seemed to believe everything and nothing, they were
neither religious nor irreligious, neither moral nor adventurous. In the
place of a religion, and tainting their entire atmosphere, they had the
decaying remains of a dead Anglicanism; it was clear they did not
believe in its creed, and as clear that they did not want to get rid of
it; it afforded them no guidance, but only vague pretensions, and the
dismal exercises of Silas Root flourished in its shadows, a fungus, a
post-mortem activity of the soul. None of them had any idea of what they
were for or what their lives as a whole might mean; they had no
standards, but only instincts and an instinctive fear of instincts; Pope
wanted to be tremendously respected and complimented by everybody and
get six per cent. for his money; Mrs. Pope wanted things to go smoothly;
the young people had a general indisposition to do anything that might
"look bad," and otherwise "have a good time." But neither Marjorie nor
any of them had any test for a good time, and so they fluctuated in
their conceptions of what they wanted from day to day. Now it was
Plessingtonian standards, now Carmel standards, now the standards of
Agatha Alimony; now it was a stimulating novel, now a gleam of æsthetic
imaginativeness come, Heaven knows whence, that dominated her mood. He
was beginning to understand all this at last, and to see the need of
coherence in Marjorie's mood.

He realized the unfairness of keeping his thoughts to himself, the need
of putting his case before her, and making her realize their fatal and
widening divergence. He wanted to infect her with his scientific
passion, to give her his sense of the gravity of their practical
difficulties. He would sit amidst his neglected work in his laboratory
framing explanatory phrases. He would prepare the most lucid and
complete statements, and go about with these in his mind for days
waiting for an opportunity of saying what he felt so urgently had to be
said.

But the things that seemed so luminous and effective in the laboratory
had a curious way of fading and shrinking beside the bright colours of
Marjorie's Bokhara hangings, in the presence of little Margharita pink
and warm and entertaining in her bath, or amidst the fluttering rustle
of the afternoon tea-parties that were now becoming frequent in his
house. And when he was alone with her he discovered they didn't talk now
any more--except in terms of a constrained and formal affection.

What had happened to them? What was the matter between himself and
Marjorie that he couldn't even intimate his sense of their divergence?
He would have liked to discuss the whole thing with his mother, but
somehow that seemed disloyal to Marjorie....

One day they quarrelled.

He came in about six in the afternoon, jaded from the delivery of a
suburban lecture, and the consequent tedium of suburban travel, and
discovered Marjorie examining the effect of a new picture which had
replaced the German print of sunlit waves over the dining-room
mantelpiece. It was a painting in the post-impressionist manner, and it
had arrived after the close of the exhibition in Weldon Street, at
which Marjorie had bought it. She had bought it in obedience to a sudden
impulse, and its imminence had long weighed upon her conscience. She had
gone to the show with Sydney Flor and old Mrs. Flor, Sydney's mother,
and a kind of excitement had come upon them at the idea of possessing
this particular picture. Mrs. Flor had already bought three Herbins, and
her daughter wanted to dissuade her from more. "But they're so
delightful," said Mrs. Flor. "You're overrunning your allowance," said
Sydney. Disputing the point, they made inquiries for the price, and
learnt that this bright epigram in colour was going begging--was even
offered at a reduction from the catalogue price. A reduced price always
had a strong appeal nowadays to Marjorie's mind. "If you don't get it,"
she said abruptly, "I shall."

The transition from that attitude to ownership was amazingly rapid. Then
nothing remained but to wait for the picture. She had dreaded a mistake,
a blundering discord, but now with the thing hung she could see her
quick eye had not betrayed her. It was a mass of reds, browns, purples,
and vivid greens and greys; an effect of roof and brick house facing
upon a Dutch canal, and it lit up the room and was echoed and reflected
by all the rest of her courageous colour scheme, like a coal-fire amidst
mahogany and metal. It justified itself to her completely, and she faced
her husband with a certain confidence.

"Hullo!" he cried.

"A new picture," she said. "What do you think of it?"

"What is it?"

"A town or something--never mind. Look at the colour. It heartens
everything."

Trafford looked at the painting with a reluctant admiration.

"It's brilliant--and impudent. He's an artist--whoever he is. He hits
the thing. But--I say--how did you get it?"

"I bought it."

"Bought it! Good Lord! How much?"

"Oh! ten guineas," said Marjorie, with an affectation of ease; "it will
be worth thirty in ten years' time."

Trafford's reply was to repeat: "Ten guineas!"

Their eyes met, and there was singularly little tenderness in their
eyes.

"It was priced at thirteen," said Marjorie, ending a pause, and with a
sinking heart.

Trafford had left her side. He walked to the window and sat down in a
chair.

"I think this is too much," he said, and his voice had disagreeable
notes in it she had never heard before. "I have just been earning two
guineas at Croydon, of all places, administering comminuted science to
fools--and here I find--this exploit! Ten guineas' worth of picture. To
say we can't afford it is just to waste a mild expression. It's--mad
extravagance. It's waste of money--it's--oh!--monstrous disloyalty.
Disloyalty!" He stared resentful at the cheerful, unhesitating daubs of
the picture for a moment. Its affected carelessness goaded him to fresh
words. He spoke in a tone of absolute hostility. "I think this winds me
up to something," he said. "You'll have to give up your cheque-book,
Marjorie."

"Give up my cheque-book!"

He looked up at her and nodded. There was a warm flush in her cheeks,
her lips panted apart, and tears of disappointment and vexation were
shining beautifully in her eyes. She mingled the quality of an
indignant woman with the distress and unreasonable resentment of a
child.

"Because I've bought this picture?"

"Can we go on like this?" he asked, and felt how miserably he had
bungled in opening this question that had been in his mind so long.

"But it's _beautiful!_" she said.

He disregarded that. He felt now that he had to go on with these
long-premeditated expostulations. He was tired and dusty from his
third-class carriage, his spirit was tired and dusty, and he said what
he had to say without either breadth or power, an undignified statement
of personal grievances, a mere complaint of the burthen of work that
falls upon a man. That she missed the high aim in him, and all sense of
the greatness they were losing had vanished from his thoughts. He had
too heavy a share of the common burthen, and she pressed upon him
unthinkingly; that was all he could say. He girded at her with a bitter
and loveless truth; it was none the less cruel that in her heart she
knew these things he said were true. But he went beyond justice--as
every quarrelling human being does; he called the things she had bought
and the harmonies she had created, "this litter and rubbish for which I
am wasting my life." That stabbed into her pride acutely and deeply. She
knew anyhow that it wasn't so simple and crude as that. It was not mere
witlessness she contributed to their trouble. She tried to indicate her
sense of that. But she had no power of ordered reasoning, she made
futile interruptions, she was inexpressive of anything but emotion, she
felt gagged against his flow of indignant, hostile words. They blistered
her.

Suddenly she went to her little desk in the corner, unlocked it with
trembling hands, snatched her cheque-book out of a heap of still
unsettled bills, and having locked that anti-climax safe away again,
turned upon him. "Here it is," she said, and stood poised for a moment.
Then she flung down the little narrow grey cover--nearly empty, it was,
of cheques, on the floor before him.

"Take it," she cried, "take it. I never asked you to give it me."

A memory of Orta and its reeds and sunshine and love rose like a
luminous mist between them....

She ran weeping from the room.

He leapt to his feet as the door closed. "Marjorie!" he cried.

But she did not hear him....


§ 3

The disillusionment about marriage which had discovered Trafford a
thwarted, overworked, and worried man, had revealed Marjorie with time
on her hands, superabundant imaginative energy, and no clear intimation
of any occupation. With them, as with thousands of young couples in
London to-day, the breadwinner was overworked, and the spending
partner's duty was chiefly the negative one of not spending. You cannot
consume your energies merely in not spending money. Do what she could,
Marjorie could not contrive to make house and child fill the waking
hours. She was far too active and irritable a being to be beneficial
company all day for genial, bubble-blowing little Margharita; she could
play with that young lady and lead her into ecstasies of excitement and
delight, and she could see with an almost instinctive certainty when
anything was going wrong; but for the rest that little life reposed far
more beneficially upon the passive acquiescence of May, her pink and
wholesome nurse. And the household generally was in the hands of a
trustworthy cook-general, who maintained a tolerable routine. Marjorie
did not dare to have an idea about food or domestic arrangements; if she
touched that routine so much as with her little finger it sent up the
bills. She could knock off butcher and greengrocer and do every scrap of
household work that she could touch, in a couple of hours a day. She
tried to find some work to fill her leisure; she suggested to Trafford
that she might help him by writing up his Science Notes from rough
pencil memoranda, but when it became clear that the first step to her
doing this would be the purchase of a Remington typewriter and a special
low table to carry it, he became bluntly discouraging. She thought of
literary work, and sat down one day to write a short story and earn
guineas, and was surprised to find that she knew nothing of any sort of
human being about whom she could invent a story. She tried a cheap
subscription at Mudie's and novels, and they filled her with a thirst
for events; she tried needlework, and found her best efforts
aesthetically feeble and despicable, and that her mind prowled above the
silks and colours like a hungry wolf.

The early afternoons were the worst time, from two to four, before
calling began. The devil was given great power over Marjorie's early
afternoon. She could even envy her former home life then, and reflect
that there, at any rate, one had a chance of a game or a quarrel with
Daffy or Syd or Rom or Theodore. She would pull herself together and go
out for a walk, and whichever way she went there were shops and shops
and shops, a glittering array of tempting opportunities for spending
money. Sometimes she would give way to spending exactly as a struggling
drunkard decides to tipple. She would fix on some object, some object
trivial and a little rare and not too costly, as being needed--when she
knew perfectly well it wasn't needed--and choose the most remotest shops
and display the exactest insistence upon her requirements. Sometimes she
would get home from these raids without buying at all. After four the
worst of the day was over; one could call on people or people might
telephone and follow up with a call; and there was a chance of Trafford
coming home....

One day at the Carmels' she found herself engaged in a vigorous
flirtation with young Carmel. She hadn't noticed it coming on, but there
she was in a windowseat talking quite closely to him. He said he was
writing a play, a wonderful passionate play about St. Francis, and only
she could inspire and advise him. Wasn't there some afternoon in the
week when she sat and sewed, so that he might come and sit by her and
read to her and talk to her? He made his request with a certain
confidence, but it filled her with a righteous panic; she pulled him up
with an abruptness that was almost inartistic. On her way home she was
acutely ashamed of herself; this was the first time she had let any man
but Trafford think he might be interesting to her, but once or twice on
former occasions she had been on the verge of such provocative
intimations. This sort of thing anyhow mustn't happen.

But if she didn't dress with any distinction--because of the cost--and
didn't flirt and trail men in her wake, what was she to do at the
afternoon gatherings which were now her chief form of social contact?
What was going to bring people to her house? She knew that she was more
than ordinarily beautiful and that she could talk well, but that does
not count for much if you are rather dowdy, and quite uneventfully
virtuous.

It became the refrain of all her thoughts that she must find something
to do.

There remained "Movements."

She might take up a movement. She was a rather exceptionally good public
speaker. Only her elopement and marriage had prevented her being
president of her college Debating Society. If she devoted herself to
some movement she would be free to devise an ostentatiously simple dress
for herself and stick to it, and she would be able to give her little
house a significance of her own, and present herself publicly against
what is perhaps quite the best of all backgrounds for a good-looking,
clear-voiced, self-possessed woman, a platform. Yes; she had to go in
for a Movement.

She reviewed the chief contemporary Movements much as she might have
turned over dress fabrics in a draper's shop, weighing the advantages
and disadvantages of each....

London, of course, is always full of Movements. Essentially they are
absorbents of superfluous feminine energy. They have a common flavour of
progress and revolutionary purpose, and common features in abundant
meetings, officials, and organization generally. Few are expensive, and
still fewer produce any tangible results in the world. They direct
themselves at the most various ends; the Poor, that favourite butt,
either as a whole or in such typical sections as the indigent invalid or
the indigent aged, the young, public health, the woman's cause, the
prevention of animal food, anti-vivisection, the gratuitous
advertisement of Shakespear (that neglected poet), novel but genteel
modifications of medical or religious practice, dress reform, the
politer aspects of socialism, the encouragement of æronautics, universal
military service, garden suburbs, domestic arts, proportional
representation, duodecimal arithmetic, and the liberation of the drama.
They range in size and importance from campaigns on a Plessingtonian
scale to sober little intellectual Beckingham things that arrange to
meet half-yearly, and die quietly before the second assembly. If Heaven
by some miracle suddenly gave every Movement in London all it professed
to want, our world would be standing on its head and everything would be
extremely unfamiliar and disconcerting. But, as Mr. Roosevelt once
remarked, the justifying thing about life is the effort and not the
goal, and few Movements involve any real and impassioned struggle to get
to the ostensible object. They exist as an occupation; they exercise the
intellectual and moral activities without undue disturbance of the
normal routines of life. In the days when everybody was bicycling an
ingenious mechanism called Hacker's Home Bicycle used to be advertised.
Hacker's Home Bicycle was a stand bearing small rubber wheels upon which
one placed one's bicycle (properly equipped with a cyclometer) in such a
way that it could be mounted and ridden without any sensible forward
movement whatever. In bad weather, or when the state of the roads made
cycling abroad disagreeable Hacker's Home Bicycle could be placed in
front of an open window and ridden furiously for any length of time.
Whenever the rider tired, he could descend--comfortably at home
again--and examine the cyclometer to see how far he had been. In exactly
the same way the ordinary London Movement gives scope for the restless
and progressive impulse in human nature without the risk of personal
entanglements or any inconvenient disturbance of the milieu.

Marjorie considered the Movements about her. She surveyed the accessible
aspects of socialism, but that old treasure-house of constructive
suggestion had an effect like a rich château which had been stormed and
looted by a mob. For a time the proposition that "we are all Socialists
nowadays" had prevailed. The blackened and discredited frame remained,
the contents were scattered; Aunt Plessington had a few pieces, the Tory
Democrats had taken freely, the Liberals were in possession of a hastily
compiled collection. There wasn't, she perceived, and there never had
been a Socialist Movement; the socialist idea which had now become part
of the general consciousness, had always been too big for polite
domestication. She weighed Aunt Plessington, too, in the balance, and
found her not so much wanting indeed as excessive. She felt that a
Movement with Aunt Plessington in it couldn't possibly offer even
elbow-room for anybody else. Philanthropy generally she shunned. The
movements that aim at getting poor people into rooms and shouting at
them in an improving, authoritative way, aroused an instinctive dislike
in her. Her sense of humour, again, would not let her patronize
Shakespear or the stage, or raise the artistic level of the country by
means of green-dyed deal, and the influence of Trafford on her mind
debarred her from attempting the physical and moral regeneration of
humanity by means of beans and nut butter. It was indeed rather by the
elimination of competing movements than by any positive preference that
she found herself declining at last towards Agatha Alimony's section of
the suffrage movement.... It was one of the less militant sections, but
it held more meetings and passed more resolutions than any two others.

One day Trafford, returning from an afternoon of forced and
disappointing work in his laboratory,--his mind had been steadfastly
sluggish and inelastic,--discovered Marjorie's dining room crowded with
hats and all the rustle and colour which plays so large a part in
constituting contemporary feminine personality. Buzard, the feminist
writer, and a young man just down from Cambridge who had written a
decadent poem, were the only men present. The chairs were arranged
meeting-fashion, but a little irregularly to suggest informality; the
post-impressionist picture was a rosy benediction on the gathering, and
at a table in the window sat Mrs. Pope in the chair, looking quietly
tactful in an unusually becoming bonnet, supported by her daughter and
Agatha Alimony. Marjorie was in a simple gown of blueish-grey, hatless
amidst a froth of foolish bows and feathers, and she looked not only
beautiful and dignified but deliberately and conscientiously patient
until she perceived the new arrival. Then he noted she was a little
concerned for him, and made some futile sign he did not comprehend. The
meeting was debating the behaviour of women at the approaching census,
and a small, earnest, pale-faced lady with glasses was standing against
the fireplace with a crumpled envelope covered with pencil notes in her
hand, and making a speech. Trafford wanted his tea badly, but he had not
the wit to realize that his study had been converted into a refreshment
room for the occasion; he hesitated, and seated himself near the
doorway, and so he was caught; he couldn't, he felt, get away and seem
to slight a woman who was giving herself the pains of addressing him.

The small lady in glasses was giving a fancy picture of the mind of Mr.
Asquith and its attitude to the suffrage movement, and telling with a
sort of inspired intimacy just how Mr. Asquith had hoped to "bully women
down," and just how their various attempts to bring home to him the
eminent reasonableness of their sex by breaking his windows,
interrupting his meetings, booing at him in the streets and threatening
his life, had time after time baffled this arrogant hope. There had been
many signs lately that Mr. Asquith's heart was failing him. Now here was
a new thing to fill him with despair. When Mr. Asquith learnt that women
refused to be counted in the census, then at least she was convinced he
must give in. When he gave in it would not be long--she had her
information upon good authority--before they got the Vote. So what they
had to do was not to be counted in the census. That was their paramount
duty at the present time. The women of England had to say quietly but
firmly to the census man when he came round: "No, we don't count in an
election, and we won't count now. Thank you." No one could force a woman
to fill in a census paper she didn't want to, and for her own part, said
the little woman with the glasses, she'd starve first. (Applause.) For
her own part she was a householder with a census paper of her own, and
across that she was going to write quite plainly and simply what she
thought of Mr. Asquith. Some of those present wouldn't have census
papers to fill up; they would be sent to the man, the so-called Head of
the House. But the W.S.P.U. had foreseen that. Each householder had to
write down the particulars of the people who slept in his house on
Sunday night, or who arrived home before mid-day on Monday; the reply of
the women of England must be not to sleep in a house that night where
census papers were properly filled, and not to go home until the
following afternoon. All through that night the women of England must be
abroad. She herself was prepared, and her house would be ready. There
would be coffee and refreshments enough for an unlimited number of
refugees, there would be twenty or thirty sofas and mattresses and piles
of blankets for those who chose to sleep safe from all counting. In
every quarter of London there would be houses of refuge like hers. And
so they would make Mr. Asquith's census fail, as it deserved to fail, as
every census would fail until women managed these affairs in a sensible
way. For she supposed they were all agreed that only women could manage
these things in a sensible way. That was _her_ contribution to this
great and important question. (Applause, amidst which the small lady
with the glasses resumed her seat.)

Trafford glanced doorward, but before he could move another speaker was
in possession of the room. This was a very young, tall, fair,
round-shouldered girl who held herself with an unnatural rigidity, fixed
her eyes on the floor just in front of the chairwoman, and spoke with
knitted brows and an effect of extreme strain. She remarked that some
people did not approve of this proposed boycott of the census. She hung
silent for a moment, as if ransacking her mind for something mislaid,
and then proceeded to remark that she proposed to occupy a few moments
in answering that objection--if it could be called an objection. They
said that spoiling the census was an illegitimate extension of the woman
movement. Well, she objected--she objected fiercely--to every word of
that phrase. Nothing was an illegitimate extension of the woman
movement. Nothing could be. (Applause.) That was the very principle
they had been fighting for all along. So that, examined in this way,
this so-called objection resolved itself into a mere question begging
phrase. Nothing more. And her reply therefore to those who made it was
that they were begging the question, and however well that might do for
men, it would certainly not do, they would find, for women. (Applause.)
For the freshly awakened consciousness of women. (Further applause.)
This was a war in which quarter was neither asked nor given; if it were
not so things might be different. She remained silent after that for the
space of twenty seconds perhaps, and then remarked that that seemed to
be all she had to say, and sat down amidst loud encouragement.

Then with a certain dismay Trafford saw his wife upon her feet. He was
afraid of the effect upon himself of what she was going to say, but he
need have had no reason for his fear. Marjorie was a seasoned debater,
self-possessed, with a voice very well controlled and a complete mastery
of that elaborate appearance of reasonableness which is so essential to
good public speaking. She could speak far better than she could talk.
And she startled the meeting in her opening sentence by declaring that
she meant to stay at home on the census night, and supply her husband
with every scrap of information he hadn't got already that might be
needed to make the return an entirely perfect return. (Marked absence of
applause.)

She proceeded to avow her passionate interest in the feminist movement
of which this agitation for the vote was merely the symbol. (A voice:
"No!") No one could be more aware of the falsity of woman's position at
the present time than she was--she seemed to be speaking right across
the room to Trafford--they were neither pets nor partners, but
something between the two; now indulged like spoilt children, now
blamed like defaulting partners; constantly provoked to use the arts of
their sex, constantly mischievous because of that provocation. She
caught her breath and stopped for a moment, as if she had suddenly
remembered the meeting intervening between herself and Trafford. No, she
said, there was no more ardent feminist and suffragist than herself in
the room. She wanted the vote and everything it implied with all her
heart. With all her heart. But every way to get a thing wasn't the right
way, and she felt with every fibre of her being that this petulant
hostility to the census was a wrong way and an inconsistent way, and
likely to be an unsuccessful way--one that would lose them the sympathy
and help of just that class of men they should look to for support, the
cultivated and scientific men. (A voice: "_Do_ we want them?") What was
the commonest charge made by the man in the street against women?--that
they were unreasonable and unmanageable, that it was their way to get
things by crying and making an irrelevant fuss. And here they were, as a
body, doing that very thing! Let them think what the census and all that
modern organization of vital statistics of which it was the central
feature stood for. It stood for order, for the replacement of guesses
and emotional generalization by a clear knowledge of facts, for the
replacement of instinctive and violent methods, by which women had
everything to lose (a voice: "No!") by reason and knowledge and
self-restraint, by which women had everything to gain. To her the
advancement of science, the progress of civilization, and the
emancipation of womanhood were nearly synonymous terms. At any rate,
they were different phases of one thing. They were different aspects of
one wider purpose. When they struck at the census, she felt, they
struck at themselves. She glanced at Trafford as if she would convince
him that this was the real voice of the suffrage movement, and sat down
amidst a brief, polite applause, that warmed to rapture as Agatha
Alimony, the deep-voiced, stirring Agatha, rose to reply.

Miss Alimony, who was wearing an enormous hat with three nodding ostrich
feathers, a purple bow, a gold buckle and numerous minor ornaments of
various origin and substance, said they had all of them listened with
the greatest appreciation and sympathy to the speech of their hostess.
Their hostess was a newcomer to the movement, she knew she might say
this without offence, and was passing through a phase, an early phase,
through which many of them had passed. This was the phase of trying to
take a reasonable view of an unreasonable situation. (Applause.) Their
hostess had spoken of science, and no doubt science was a great thing;
but there was something greater than science, and that was the ideal. It
was woman's place to idealize. Sooner or later their hostess would
discover, as they had all discovered, that it was not to science but the
ideal that women must look for freedom. Consider, she said, the
scientific men of to-day. Consider, for example, Sir James
Crichton-Browne, the physiologist. Was he on their side? On the
contrary, he said the most unpleasant things about them on every
occasion. He went out of his way to say them. Or consider Sir Almroth
Wright, did he speak well of women? Or Sir Ray Lankester, the biologist,
who was the chief ornament of the Anti-Suffrage Society. Or Sir Roderick
Dover, the physicist, who--forgetting Madame Curie, a far more
celebrated physicist than himself, she ventured to say (Applause.) had
recently gone outside his province altogether to abuse feminine
research. There were your scientific men. Mrs. Trafford had said their
anti-census campaign would annoy scientific men; well, under the
circumstances, she wanted to annoy scientific men. (Applause.) She
wanted to annoy everybody. Until women got the vote (loud applause) the
more annoying they were the better. When the whole world was impressed
by the idea that voteless women were an intolerable nuisance, then there
would cease to be voteless women. (Enthusiasm.) Mr. Asquith had said--

And so on for quite a long time....

Buzard rose out of waves of subsiding emotion. Buzard was a slender,
long-necked, stalk-shaped man with gilt glasses, uneasy movements and a
hypersensitive manner. He didn't so much speak as thrill with thought
vibrations; he spoke like an entranced but still quite gentlemanly
sibyl. After Agatha's deep trumpet calls, he sounded like a solo on the
piccolo. He picked out all his more important words with a little stress
as though he gave them capitals. He said their hostess's remarks had set
him thinking. He thought it was possible to stew the Scientific Argument
in its own Juice. There was something he might call the Factuarial
Estimate of Values. Well, it was a High Factuarial Value on their side,
in his opinion at any rate, when Anthropologists came and told him that
the Primitive Human Society was a Matriarchate. ("But it wasn't!" said
Trafford to himself.) It had a High Factuarial Value when they assured
him that Every One of the Great Primitive Inventions was made by a
Woman, and that it was to Women they owed Fire and the early Epics and
Sagas. ("Good Lord!" said Trafford.) It had a High Factuarial Value when
they not only asserted but proved that for Thousands of Years, and
perhaps for Hundreds of Thousands of Years, Women had been in possession
of Articulate Speech before men rose to that Level of Intelligence....

It occurred suddenly to Trafford that he could go now; that it would be
better to go; that indeed he _must_ go; it was no doubt necessary that
his mind should have to work in the same world as Buzard's mental
processes, but at any rate those two sets of unsympathetic functions
need not go on in the same room. Something might give way. He got up,
and with those elaborate efforts to be silent that lead to the violent
upsetting of chairs, got himself out of the room and into the passage,
and was at once rescued by the sympathetic cook-general, in her most
generalized form, and given fresh tea in his study--which impressed him
as being catastrophically disarranged....


§ 4

When Marjorie was at last alone with him she found him in a state of
extreme mental stimulation. "Your speech," he said, "was all right. I
didn't know you could speak like that, Marjorie. But it soared like the
dove above the waters. Waters! I never heard such a flood of rubbish....
You know, it's a mistake to _mass_ women. It brings out something
silly.... It affected Buzard as badly as any one. The extraordinary
thing is they have a case, if only they'd be quiet. Why did you get them
together?"

"It's our local branch."

"Yes, but _why?_"

"Well, if they talk about things--Discussions like this clear up their
minds."

"Discussion! It wasn't discussion."

"Oh! it was a beginning."

"Chatter of that sort isn't the beginning of discussion, it's the end.
It's the death-rattle. Nobody was meeting the thoughts of any one. I
admit Buzard, who's a man, talked the worst rubbish of all. That
Primitive Matriarchate of his! So it isn't sex. I've noticed before that
the men in this movement of yours are worse than the women. It isn't
sex. It's something else. It's a foolishness. It's a sort of
irresponsible looseness." He turned on her gravely. "You ought not to
get all these people here. It's contagious. Before you know it you'll
find your own mind liquefy and become enthusiastic and slop about.
You'll begin to talk monomania about Mr. Asquith."

"But it's a great movement, Rag, even if incidentally they say and do
silly things!"

"My dear! aren't I feminist? Don't I want women fine and sane and
responsible? Don't I want them to have education, to handle things, to
vote like men and bear themselves with the gravity of men? And these
meetings--all hat and flutter! These displays of weak, untrained,
hysterical vehemence! These gatherings of open-mouthed impressionable
young girls to be trained in incoherence! You can't go on with it!"

Marjorie regarded him quietly for a moment. "I must go on with
something," she said.

"Well, not this."

"Then _what?_"

"Something sane."

"Tell me what."

"It must come out of yourself."

Marjorie thought sullenly for a moment. "Nothing comes out of myself,"
she said.

"I don't think you realize a bit what my life has become," she went on;
"how much I'm like some one who's been put in a pleasant, high-class
prison."

"This house! It's your own!"

"It doesn't give me an hour's mental occupation in the day. It's all
very well to say I might do more in it. I can't--without absurdity. Or
expenditure. I can't send the girl away and start scrubbing. I can't
make jam or do ornamental needlework. The shops do it better and
cheaper, and I haven't been trained to it. I've been trained _not_ to do
it. I've been brought up on games and school-books, and fed on mixed
ideas. I can't sit down and pacify myself with a needle as women used to
do. Besides, I not only detest doing needlework but I hate it--the sort
of thing a woman of my kind does anyhow--when it's done. I'm no artist.
I'm not sufficiently interested in outside things to spend my time in
serious systematic reading, and after four or five novels--oh, these
meetings are better than that! You see, you've got a life--too much of
it--_I_ haven't got enough. I wish almost I could sleep away half the
day. Oh! I want something _real_, Rag; something more than I've got." A
sudden inspiration came to her. "Will you let me come to your laboratory
and work with you?"

She stopped abruptly. She caught up her own chance question and pointed
it at him, a vitally important challenge. "Will you let me come to your
laboratory and work?" she repeated.

Trafford thought. "No," he said.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm in love with you. I can't think of my work when you're
about.... And you're too much behind. Oh my dear! don't you see how
you're behind?" He paused. "I've been soaking in this stuff of mine for
ten long years."

"Yes," assented Marjorie flatly.

He watched her downcast face, and then it lifted to him with a helpless
appeal in her eyes, and lift in her voice. "But look here, Rag!" she
cried--"what on earth am I to _DO?_"


§ 5

At least there came out of these discussions one thing, a phrase, a
purpose, which was to rule the lives of the Traffords for some years. It
expressed their realization that instinct and impulse had so far played
them false, that life for all its rich gifts of mutual happiness wasn't
adjusted between them. "We've got," they said, "to talk all this out
between us. We've got to work this out." They didn't mean to leave
things at a misfit, and that was certainly their present relation. They
were already at the problem of their joint lives, like a tailor with his
pins and chalk. Marjorie hadn't rejected a humorist and all his works in
order to decline at last to the humorous view of life, that rather
stupid, rather pathetic, grin-and-bear-it attitude compounded in
incalculable proportions of goodwill, evasion, indolence, slovenliness,
and (nevertheless) spite (masquerading indeed as jesting comment), which
supplies the fabric of everyday life for untold thousands of educated
middle-class people. She hated the misfit. She didn't for a moment
propose to pretend that the ungainly twisted sleeve, the puckered back,
was extremely jolly and funny. She had married with a passionate
anticipation of things fitting and fine, and it was her nature, in great
matters as in small, to get what she wanted strenuously before she
counted the cost. About both their minds there was something sharp and
unrelenting, and if Marjorie had been disposed to take refuge from facts
in swathings of aesthetic romanticism, whatever covering she contrived
would have been torn to rags very speedily by that fierce and steely
veracity which swung down out of the laboratory into her home.

One may want to talk things out long before one hits upon the phrases
that will open up the matter.

There were two chief facts in the case between them and so far they had
looked only one in the face, the fact that Marjorie was unemployed to a
troublesome and distressing extent, and that there was nothing in her
nature or training to supply, and something in their circumstances and
relations to prevent any adequate use of her energies. With the second
fact neither of them cared to come to close quarters as yet, and neither
as yet saw very distinctly how it was linked to the first, and that was
the steady excess of her expenditure over their restricted means. She
was secretly surprised at her own weakness. Week by week and month by
month, they were spending all his income and eating into that little
accumulation of capital that had once seemed so sufficient against the
world....

And here it has to be told that although Trafford knew that Marjorie had
been spending too much money, he still had no idea of just how much
money she had spent. She was doing her utmost to come to an
understanding with him, and at the same time--I don't explain it, I
don't excuse it--she was keeping back her bills from him, keeping back
urgent second and third and fourth demands, that she had no cheque-book
now to stave off even by the most partial satisfaction. It kept her
awake at nights, that catastrophic explanation, that all unsuspected by
Trafford hung over their attempts at mutual elucidation; it kept her
awake but she could not bring it to the speaking point, and she clung,
in spite of her own intelligence, to a persuasion that _after_ they had
got something really settled and defined then it would be time enough
to broach the particulars of this second divergence....

Talking one's relations over isn't particularly easy between husband and
wife at any time; we are none of us so sure of one another as to risk
loose phrases or make experiments in expression in matters so vital;
there is inevitably an excessive caution on the one hand and an abnormal
sensitiveness to hints and implications on the other. Marjorie's bills
were only an extreme instance of these unavoidable suppressions that
always occur. Moreover, when two people are continuously together, it is
amazingly hard to know when and where to begin; where intercourse is
unbroken it is as a matter of routine being constantly interrupted. You
cannot broach these broad personalities while you are getting up in the
morning, or over the breakfast-table while you make the coffee, or when
you meet again after a multitude of small events at tea, or in the
evening when one is rather tired and trivial after the work of the day.
Then Miss Margharita Trafford permitted no sustained analysis of life in
her presence. She synthesized things fallaciously, but for the time
convincingly; she insisted that life wasn't a thing you discussed, but
pink and soft and jolly, which you crowed at and laughed at and
addressed as "Goo." Even without Margharita there were occasions when
the Traffords were a forgetfulness to one another. After an ear has been
pinched or a hand has been run through a man's hair, or a pretty bare
shoulder kissed, all sorts of broader interests lapse into a temporary
oblivion. They found discussion much more possible when they walked
together. A walk seemed to take them out of the everyday sequence,
isolate them from their household, abstract them a little from one
another. They set out one extravagant spring Sunday to Great Missenden,
and once in spring also they discovered the Waterlow Park. On each
occasion they seemed to get through an enormous amount of talking. But
the Great Missenden walk was all mixed up with a sweet keen wind, and
beechwoods just shot with spring green and bursting hedges and the
extreme earliness of honeysuckle, which Trafford noted for the first
time, and a clamorous rejoicing of birds. And in the Waterlow Park there
was a great discussion of why the yellow crocus comes before white and
purple, and the closest examination of the manner in which daffodils and
narcissi thrust their green noses out of the garden beds. Also they
found the ugly, ill-served, aggressively propagandist non-alcoholic
refreshment-room in that gracious old house a scandal and
disappointment, and Trafford scolded at the stupidity of officialdom
that can control so fine a thing so ill.

Though they talked on these walks they were still curiously evasive.
Indeed, they were afraid of each other. They kept falling away from
their private thoughts and intentions. They generalized, they discussed
Marriage and George Gissing and Bernard Shaw and the suffrage movement
and the agitation for the reform of the divorce laws. They pursued
imaginary cases into distant thickets of contingency remotely far from
the personal issues between them....


§ 6

One day came an incident that Marjorie found wonderfully illuminating.
Trafford had a fit of rage. Stung by an unexpected irritation, he forgot
himself, as people say, and swore, and was almost physically violent,
and the curious thing was that so he lit up things for her as no
premeditated attempt of his had ever done.

A copy of the _Scientific Bulletin_ fired the explosion. He sat down at
the breakfast-table with the heaviness of a rather overworked and
worried man, tasted his coffee, tore open a letter and crumpled it with
his hand, turned to the _Bulletin_, regarded its list of contents with a
start, opened it, read for a minute, and expressed himself with an
extraordinary heat of manner in these amazing and unprecedented words:

"Oh! Damnation and damnation!"

Then he shied the paper into the corner of the room and pushed his plate
from him.

"Damn the whole scheme of things!" he said, and met the blank amazement
of Marjorie's eye.

"Behrens!" he said with an air of explanation.

"Behrens?" she echoed with a note of inquiry.

"He's doing my stuff!"

He sat darkling for a time and then hit the table with his fist so hard
that the breakfast things seemed to jump together--to Marjorie's
infinite amazement. "I can't _stand_ it!" he said.

She waited some moments. "I don't understand," she began. "What has he
done?"

"Oh!" was Trafford's answer. He got up, recovered the crumpled paper and
stood reading. "Fool and thief," he said.

Marjorie was amazed beyond measure. She felt as though she had been
effaced from Trafford's life. "Ugh!" he cried and slapped back the
_Bulletin_ into the corner with quite needless violence. He became aware
of Marjorie again.

"He's doing my work," he said.

And then as if he completed the explanation: "And I've got to be in
Croydon by half-past ten to lecture to a pack of spinsters and duffers,
because they're too stupid to get the stuff from books. It's all in
books,--every bit of it."

He paused and went on in tones of unendurable wrong. "It isn't as though
he was doing it right. He isn't. He can't. He's a fool. He's a clever,
greedy, dishonest fool with a twist. Oh! the pile, the big Pile of silly
muddled technicalities he's invented already! The solemn mess he's
making of it! And there he is, I can't get ahead of him, I can't get at
him. I've got no time. I've got no room or leisure to swing my mind in!
Oh, curse these engagements, curse all these silly fretting
entanglements of lecture and article! I never get the time, I can't get
the time, I can't get my mind clear! I'm worried! I'm badgered! And
meanwhile Behrens----!"

"Is he discovering what you want to discover?"

"Behrens! _No!_ He's going through the breaches I made. He's guessing
out what I meant to do. And he's getting it set out all
wrong,--misleading terminology,--distinctions made in the wrong place.
Oh, the fool he is!"

"But afterwards----"

"Afterwards I may spend my life--removing the obstacles he's made. He'll
be established and I shan't. You don't know anything of these things.
You don't understand."

She didn't. Her next question showed as much. "Will it affect your
F.R.S.?" she asked.

"Oh! _that's_ safe enough, and it doesn't matter anyhow. The F.R.S.!
Confound the silly little F.R.S.! As if that mattered. It's seeing all
my great openings--misused. It's seeing all I might be doing. This
brings it all home to me. Don't you understand, Marjorie? Will you
never understand? I'm getting away from all _that!_ I'm being hustled
away by all this work, this silly everyday work to get money. Don't you
see that unless I can have time for thought and research, life is just
darkness to me? I've made myself master of that stuff. I had at any
rate. No one can do what I can do there. And when I find myself--oh,
shut out, shut out! I come near raving. As I think of it I want to rave
again." He paused. Then with a swift transition: "I suppose I'd better
eat some breakfast. Is that egg boiled?"

She gave him an egg, brought his coffee, put things before him, seated
herself at the table. For a little while he ate in silence. Then he
cursed Behrens.

"Look here!" she said. "Bad as I am, you've got to reason with me, Rag.
I didn't know all this. I didn't understand ... I don't know what to do."

"What _is_ there to do?"

"I've got to do something. I'm beginning to see things. It's just as
though everything had become clear suddenly." She was weeping. "Oh, my
dear! I want to help you. I have so wanted to help you. Always. And it's
come to this!"

"But it's not _your_ fault. I didn't mean that. It's--it's in the nature
of things."

"It's my fault."

"It's not your fault."

"It is."

"Confound it, Marjorie. When I swear at Behrens I'm not swearing at
you."

"It's my fault. All this is my fault. I'm eating you up. What's the good
of your pretending, Rag. You know it is. Oh! When I married you I meant
to make you happy, I had no thought but to make you happy, to give
myself to you, my body, my brains, everything, to make life beautiful
for you----"

"Well, _haven't_ you?" He thrust out a hand she did not take.

"I've broken your back," she said.

An unwonted resolution came into her face. Her lips whitened. "Don't you
know, Rag," she said, forcing herself to speak----"Don't you guess? You
don't know half! In that bureau there----In there! It's stuffed with
bills. Unpaid bills."

She was weeping, with no attempt to wipe the streaming tears away;
terror made the expression of her wet face almost fierce. "Bills," she
repeated. "More than a hundred pounds still. Yes! Now. _Now!_"

He drew back, stared at her and with no trace of personal animus, like
one who hears of a common disaster, remarked with a quiet emphasis: "Oh,
_damn!_"

"I know," she said, "Damn!" and met his eyes. There was a long silence
between them. She produced a handkerchief and wiped her eyes. "That's
what I amount to," she said.

"It's your silly upbringing," he said after a long pause.

"And my silly self."

She stood up, unlocked and opened her littered desk, turned and held out
the key to him.

"Why?" he asked.

"Take it. You gave me a cheque-book of my own and a corner of my own,
and they--they are just ambushes--against you."

He shook his head.

"Take it," said Marjorie with quiet insistence.

He obeyed. She stood with her eyes on the crumpled heap of bills. They
were not even tidily arranged. That seemed to her now an extreme
aggravation of her offence.

"I ought to be sent to the chemist's," she remarked, "as one sends a
worthless cat."

Trafford weighed this proposition soberly for some moments. "You're a
bother, Marjorie," he said with his eyes on the desk; "no end of a
bother. I'd better have those bills."

He looked at her, stood up, put his hands on her shoulders, drew her to
him and kissed her forehead. He did it without passion, without
tenderness, with something like resignation in his manner. She clung to
him tightly, as though by clinging she could warm and soften him.

"Rag," she whispered; "all my heart is yours.... I want to help you....
And this is what I have done."

"I know," he said--almost grimly.

He repeated his kiss.

Then he seemed to explode again. "Gods!" he cried, "look at the clock. I
shall miss that Croydon lecture!" He pushed her from him. "Where are my
boots?..."


§ 7

Marjorie spent the forenoon and the earlier part of the afternoon
repeating and reviewing this conversation. Her mind was full of the long
disregarded problem of her husband's state of mind. She thought with a
sympathetic astonishment of his swearing, of his startling blow upon the
table. She hadn't so far known he could swear. But this was the real
thing, the relief of vehement and destructive words. His voice, saying
"damnation and damnation," echoed and re-echoed in her ears. Somehow she
understood that as she had never understood any sober statement of his
case. Such women as Marjorie, I think, have an altogether keener
understanding of people who have lost control of themselves than they
have of reasoned cases. Perhaps that is because they themselves always
reserve something when they state a reasoned case.

She went on to the apprehension of a change in him that hitherto she had
not permitted herself to see--a change in his attitude to her. There had
been a time when she had seemed able without an effort to nestle inside
his heart. Now she felt distinctly for the first time that that hadn't
happened. She had instead a sense of her embrace sliding over a rather
deliberately contracted exterior.... Of course he had been in a
hurry....

She tried to follow him on his journey to Croydon. Now he'd have just
passed out of London Bridge. What was he thinking and feeling about her
in the train? Now he would be going into the place, wherever it was,
where he gave his lecture. Did he think of Behrens and curse her under
his breath as he entered that tiresome room?...

It seemed part of the prevailing inconvenience of life that Daffy should
see fit to pay an afternoon call.

Marjorie heard the sobs and uproar of an arrested motor, and glanced
discreetly from the window to discover the dark green car with its
green-clad chauffeur which now adorned her sister's life, and which
might under different circumstances, have adorned her own. Wilkins--his
name was Wilkins, his hair was sandy and his expression discreet, and he
afforded material for much quiet humorous observation--descended smartly
and opened the door. Daffy appeared in black velvet, with a huge black
fur muff, and an air of being unaware that there were such things as
windows in the world.

It was just four, and the cook-general, who ought to have been now in
her housemaid's phase, was still upstairs divesting herself of her more
culinary characteristics. Marjorie opened the door.

"Hullo, old Daffy!" she said.

"Hullo, old Madge!" and there was an exchange of sisterly kisses and a
mutual inspection.

"Nothing wrong?" asked Daffy, surveying her.

"_Wrong?_"

"You look pale and--tired about the eyes," said Daffy, leading the way
into the drawing-room. "Thought you might be a bit off it, that's all.
No offence, Madge."

"I'm all right," said Marjorie, getting her back to the light. "Want a
holiday, perhaps. How's every one?"

"All right. _We're_ off to Lake Garda next week. This new play has taken
it out of Will tremendously. He wants a rest and fresh surroundings.
It's to be the biggest piece of work he's done--so far, and it's
straining him. And people worry him here; receptions, first nights,
dinners, speeches. He's so neat, you know, in his speeches.... But it
wastes him. He wants to get away. How's Rag?"

"Busy."

"Lecturing?"

"And his Research of course."

"Oh! of course. How's the Babe?"

"Just in. Come up and see the little beast, Daffy! It is getting so
pretty, and it talks----"

Margharita dominated intercourse for a time. She was one of those
tactful infants who exactly resemble their fathers and exactly resemble
their mothers, and have a charm and individuality quite distinctly their
own, and she was now beginning to converse with startling enterprise and
intelligence.

"Big, big, bog," she said at the sight of Daffy.

"Remembers you," said Marjorie.

"Bog! Go ta-ta!" said Margharita.

"There!" said Marjorie, and May, the nurse in the background, smiled
unlimited appreciation.

"Bably," said Margharita.

"That's herself!" said Marjorie, falling on her knees. "She talks like
this all day. Oh de sweetums, den!" _Was_ it?

Daffy made amiable gestures and canary-like noises with her lips, and
Margharita responded jovially.

"You darling!" cried Marjorie, "you delight of life," kneeling by the
cot and giving the crowing, healthy little mite a passionate hug.

"It's really the nicest of babies," Daffy conceded, and reflected....

"I don't know what I should do with a kiddy," said Daffy, as the infant
worship came to an end; "I'm really glad we haven't one--yet. He'd love
it, I know. But it would be a burthen in some ways. They _are_ a tie. As
he says, the next few years means so much for him. Of course, here his
reputation is immense, and he's known in Germany, and there are
translations into Russian; but he's still got to conquer America, and he
isn't really well known yet in France. They read him, of course, and buy
him in America, but they're--_restive_. Oh! I do so wish they'd give him
the Nobel prize, Madge, and have done with it! It would settle
everything. Still, as he says, we mustn't think of that--yet, anyhow. He
isn't venerable enough. It's doubtful, he thinks, that they would give
the Nobel prize to any humorist now that Mark Twain is dead. Mark Twain
was different, you see, because of the German Emperor and all that white
hair and everything."

At this point Margharita discovered that the conversation had drifted
away from herself, and it was only when they got downstairs again that
Daffy could resume the thread of Magnet's career, which had evidently
become the predominant interest in her life. She brought out all the
worst elements of Marjorie's nature and their sisterly relationship.
There were moments when it became nakedly apparent that she was
magnifying Magnet to belittle Trafford. Marjorie did her best to
counter-brag. She played her chief card in the F. R. S.

"They always ask Will to the Royal Society Dinner," threw out Daffy;
"but of course he can't always go. He's asked to so many things."

Five years earlier Marjorie would have kicked her shins for that.

Instead she asked pointedly, offensively, if Magnet was any balder.

"He's not really bald," said Daffy unruffled, and went on to discuss the
advisability of a second motor car--purely for town use. "I tell him I
don't want it," said Daffy, "but he's frightfully keen upon getting
one."


§ 8

When Daffy had at last gone Marjorie went back into Trafford's study and
stood on the hearthrug regarding its appointments, with something of the
air of one who awakens from a dream. She had developed a new, appalling
thought. Was Daffy really a better wife than herself? It was dawning
upon Marjorie that she hadn't been doing the right thing by her husband,
and she was as surprised as if it had been suddenly brought home to her
that she was neglecting Margharita. This was her husband's study--and it
showed just a little dusty in the afternoon sunshine, and everything
about it denied the pretensions of serene sustained work that she had
always made to herself. Here were the crumpled galley proofs of his
science notes; here were unanswered letters. There, she dare not touch
them, were computations, under a glass paper-weight. What did they
amount to now? On the table under the window were back numbers of the
_Scientific Bulletin_ in a rather untidy pile, and on the footstool by
the arm-chair she had been accustomed to sit at his feet when he stayed
at home to work, and look into the fire, and watch him furtively, and
sometimes give way to an overmastering tenderness and make love to him.
The thought of Magnet, pampered, fenced around, revered in his
industrious tiresome repetitions, variations, dramatizations and so
forth of the half-dozen dry little old jokes which the British public
accepted as his characteristic offering and rewarded him for so highly,
contrasted vividly with her new realization of Trafford's thankless work
and worried face.

And she loved him, she loved him--_so_. She told herself in the presence
of all these facts, and without a shadow of doubt in her mind that all
she wanted in the world was to make him happy.

It occurred to her as a rather drastic means to this end that she might
commit suicide.

She had already gone some way in the composition of a touching letter of
farewell to him, containing a luminous analysis of her own defects,
before her common-sense swept away this imaginative exercise.

Meanwhile, as if it had been working at her problem all the time that
this exciting farewell epistle had occupied the foreground of her
thoughts, her natural lucidity emerged with the manifest conclusion that
she had to alter her way of living. She had been extraordinarily
regardless of him, she only began to see that, and now she had to take
up the problem of his necessities. Her self-examination now that it had
begun was thorough. She had always told herself before that she had made
a most wonderful and beautiful little home for him. But had she made it
for him? Had he as a matter of fact ever wanted it, except that he was
glad to have it through her? No doubt it had given him delight and
happiness, it had been a marvellous little casket of love for them, but
how far did that outweigh the burthen and limitation it had imposed upon
him? She had always assumed he was beyond measure grateful to her for
his home, in spite of all her bills, but was he? It was like sticking a
knife into herself to ask that, but she was now in a phase heroic enough
for the task--was he? She had always seen herself as the giver of
bounties; greatest bounty of all was Margharita. She had faced pains and
terrors and the shadow of death to give him Margharita. Now with Daffy's
illuminating conversation in her mind, she could turn the light upon a
haunting doubt that had been lurking in the darkness for a long time.
Had he really so greatly wanted Margharita? Had she ever troubled to get
to the bottom of that before? Hadn't she as a matter of fact wanted
Margharita ten thousand times more than he had done? Hadn't she in
effect imposed Margharita upon him, as she had imposed her distinctive
and delightful home upon him, regardlessly, because these things were
the natural and legitimate developments of herself?

These things were not his ends.

Had she hitherto ever really cared what his ends might be?

A phrase she had heard abundantly enough in current feminist discussion
recurred to her mind, "the economic dependence of women," and now for
the first time it was charged with meaning. She had imposed these things
upon him not because she loved him, but because these things that were
the expansions and consequences of her love for him were only obtainable
through him. A woman gives herself to a man out of love, and remains
clinging parasitically to him out of necessity. Was there no way of
evading that necessity?

For a time she entertained dreams of marvellous social reconstructions.
Suppose the community kept all its women, suppose all property in homes
and furnishings and children vested in them! That was Marjorie's version
of that idea of the Endowment of Womanhood which has been creeping into
contemporary thought during the last two decades. Then every woman would
be a Princess to the man she loved.... He became more definitely
personal. Suppose she herself was rich, then she could play the Princess
to Trafford; she could have him free, unencumbered, happy and her lover!
Then, indeed, her gifts would be gifts, and all her instincts and
motives would but crown his unhampered life! She could not go on from
that idea, she lapsed into a golden reverie, from which she was roused
by the clock striking five.

In half an hour perhaps Trafford would be home again. She could at least
be so much of a princess as to make his home sweet for his home-coming.
There should be tea in here, where callers did not trouble. She glanced
at an empty copper vase. It ached. There was no light in the room. There
would be just time to dash out into High Street and buy some flowers for
it before he came....


§ 9

Spring and a renewed and deepened love for her husband were in
Marjorie's blood. Her mind worked rapidly during the next few days, and
presently she found herself clearly decided upon her course of action.
She had to pull herself together and help him, and if that meant a
Spartan and strenuous way of living, then manifestly she must be Spartan
and strenuous. She must put an end once for all to her recurrent
domestic deficits, and since this could only be done by getting rid of
May, she must get rid of May and mind the child herself. (Every day,
thank Heaven! Margharita became more intelligent, more manageable, and
more interesting.) Then she must also make a far more systematic and
thorough study of domestic economy than she had hitherto done, and run
the shopping and housekeeping on severer lines; she bought fruit
carelessly, they had far too many joints; she never seemed able to
restrain herself when it came to flowers. And in the evenings, which
would necessarily be very frequently lonely evenings if Trafford's
researches were to go on, she would typewrite, and either acquire great
speed at that or learn shorthand, and so save Trafford's present
expenditure on a typist. That unfortunately would mean buying a
typewriter.

She found one afternoon in a twopenny book-box, with which she was
trying to allay her craving for purchases, a tattered little pamphlet
entitled: "Proposals for the Establishment of an Order of Samurai,"
which fell in very exactly with her mood. The title "dated"; it carried
her mind back to her middle girlhood and the defeats of Kuropatki and
the futile earnest phase in English thought which followed the Boer War.
The order was to be a sort of self-appointed nobility serving the world.
It shone with the light of a generous dawn, but cast, I fear, the shadow
of the prig. Its end was the Agenda Club.... She read and ceased to
read--and dreamt.

The project unfolded the picture of a new method of conduct to her,
austere, yet picturesque and richly noble. These Samurai, it was
intimated, were to lead lives of hard discipline and high effort, under
self-imposed rule and restraint. They were to stand a little apart from
the excitements and temptations of everyday life, to eat sparingly,
drink water, resort greatly to self-criticism and self-examination, and
harden their spirits by severe and dangerous exercises. They were to
dress simply, work hard, and be the conscious and deliberate salt of the
world. They were to walk among mountains. Incidentally, great power was
to be given them. Such systematic effort and self-control as this,
seemed to Marjorie to give just all she wasn't and needed to be, to save
her life and Trafford's from a common disaster....

It particularly appealed to her that they were to walk among
mountains....

But it is hard to make a change in the colour of one's life amidst the
routine one has already established about oneself, in the house that is
grooved by one's weaknesses, amidst hangings and ornaments living and
breathing with the life of an antagonistic and yet insidiously congenial
ideal. A great desire came upon Marjorie to go away with Trafford for a
time, out of their everyday life into strange and cool and spacious
surroundings. She wanted to leave London and its shops, and the home and
the movements and the callers and rivalries, and even dimpled little
Margharita's insistent claims, and get free and think. It was the first
invasion of their lives by this conception, a conception that was ever
afterwards to leave them altogether, of retreat and reconstruction. She
knelt upon the white sheepskin hearthrug at Trafford's feet one night,
and told him of her desire. He, too, was tired of his work and his
vexations, and ripe for this suggestion of an altered life. The Easter
holiday was approaching, and nearly twenty unencumbered days. Mrs.
Trafford, they knew, would come into the house, meanwhile, and care for
Margharita. They would go away somewhere together and walk, no luggage
but a couple of knapsacks, no hotel but some homely village inn. They
would be in the air all day, until they were saturated with sweet air
and spirit of clean restraints. They would plan out their new rule,
concentrate their aims. "And I could think," said Trafford, "of this new
work I can't begin here. I might make some notes." Presently came the
question of where the great walk should be. Manifestly, it must be among
mountains, manifestly, and Marjorie's eye saw those mountains with snow
upon their summits and cold glaciers on their flanks. Could they get to
Switzerland? If they travelled second class throughout, and took the
cheaper way, as Samurai should?...


§ 10

That holiday seemed to Marjorie as if they had found a lost and
forgotten piece of honeymoon. She had that same sense of fresh
beginnings that had made their first walk in Italian Switzerland so
unforgettable. She was filled with the happiness of recovering Trafford
when he had seemed to be slipping from her. All day they talked of their
outlook, and how they might economise away the need of his extra work,
and so release him for his search again. For the first time he talked of
his work to her, and gave her some intimation of its scope and quality.
He became enthusiastic with the sudden invention of experimental
devices, so that it seemed to her almost worth while if instead of going
on they bolted back, he to his laboratory and she to her nursery, and
so at once inaugurated the new régime. But they went on, to finish the
holiday out. And the delight of being together again with unfettered
hours of association! They rediscovered each other, the same--and a
little changed. If their emotions were less bright and intense, their
interest was far wider and deeper.

The season was too early for high passes, and the weather was
changeable. They started from Fribourg and walked to Thun and then back
to Bulle, and so to Bultigen, Saanen, Montbovon and the Lake of Geneva.
They had rain several days, the sweet, soft, windless mountain rain that
seemed so tolerable to those who are accustomed to the hard and driven
downpours of England, and in places they found mud and receding snow;
the inns were at their homeliest, and none the worse for that, and there
were days of spring sunshine when a multitude of minute and delightful
flowers came out as it seemed to meet them--it was impossible to suppose
so great a concourse universal--and spread in a scented carpet before
their straying feet. The fruit trees in the valleys were powdered with
blossom, and the new grass seemed rather green-tinted sunlight than
merely green. And they walked with a sort of stout leisureliness,
knapsacks well-hung and cloaks about them, with their faces fresh and
bright under the bracing weather, and their lungs deep charged with
mountain air, talking of the new austerer life that was now beginning.
With great snow-capped mountains in the background, streaming precipices
overhead, and a sward of flowers to go upon, that strenuous prospect was
altogether delightful. They went as it pleased them, making detours into
valleys, coming back upon their steps. The interludes of hot, bright
April sunshine made them indolent, and they would loiter and halt where
some rock or wall invited, and sit basking like happy, animals, talking
very little, for long hours together. Trafford seemed to have forgotten
all the strain and disappointment of the past two years, to be amazed
but in no wise incredulous at this enormous change in her and in their
outlook; it filled her with a passion of pride and high resolve to think
that so she could recover and uplift him.

He was now very deeply in love with her again. He talked indeed of his
research, but so that it might interest her, and when he thought alone,
he thought, not of it, but of her, making again the old discoveries, his
intense delight in the quality of her voice, his joy in a certain
indescribable gallantry in her bearing. He pitied all men whose wives
could not carry themselves, and whose voices failed and broke under the
things they had to say. And then again there was the way she moved her
arms, the way her hands took hold of things, the alert lucidity of her
eyes, and then that faint, soft shadow of a smile upon her lips when she
walked thinking or observant, all unaware that he was watching her.

It rained in the morning of their eleventh day and then gave way to
warmth and sunshine, so that they arrived at Les Avants in the afternoon
a little muddy and rather hot. At one of the tables under the trees
outside the Grand Hotel was a small group of people dressed in the
remarkable and imposing costume which still in those days distinguished
the motorist. They turned from their tea to a more or less frank
inspection of the Traffords, and suddenly broke out into cries of
recognition and welcome. Solomonson--for the most part brown
leather--emerged with extended hands, and behind him, nestling in the
midst of immense and costly furs, appeared the kindly salience and
brightness of his Lady's face. "Good luck!" cried Solomonson. "Good
luck! Come and have tea with us! But this is a happy encounter!"

"We're dirty--but so healthy!" cried Marjorie, saluting Lady Solomonson.

"You look, oh!--splendidly well," that Lady responded.

"We've been walking."

"With just that knapsack!"

"It's been glorious."

"But the courage!" said Lady Solomonson, and did not add, "the tragic
hardship!" though her tone conveyed it. She had all the unquestioning
belief of her race in the sanity of comfort. She had ingrained in her
the most definite ideas of man's position and woman's, and that any one,
man or woman, should walk in mud except under dire necessity, was
outside the range of her philosophy. She thought Marjorie's thick boots
and short skirts quite the most appalling feminine costume she had ever
seen. She saw only a ruined complexion and damaged womanhood in
Marjorie's rain-washed, sun-bit cheek. Her benevolent heart rebelled at
the spectacle. It was dreadful, she thought, that nice young people like
the Traffords should have come to this.

The rest of the party were now informally introduced. They were all very
splendid and disconcertingly free from mud. One was Christabel Morrison,
the actress, a graceful figure in a green baize coat and brown fur, who
looked ever so much more charming than her innumerable postcards and
illustrated-paper portraits would have led one to expect; her neighbour
was Solomonson's cousin Lee, the organizer of the Theatre Syndicate, a
brown-eyed, attenuated, quick-minded little man with an accent that
struck Trafford as being on the whole rather Dutch, and the third lady
was Lady Solomonson's sister, Mrs. Lee. It appeared they were all
staying at Lee's villa above Vevey, part of an amusing assembly of
people who were either vividly rich or even more vividly clever, an
accumulation which the Traffords in the course of the next twenty
minutes were three times invited, with an increasing appreciation and
earnestness, to join.

From the first our two young people were not indisposed to do so. For
eleven days they had maintained their duologue at the very highest
level; seven days remained to them before they must go back to begin the
hard new life in England, and there was something very attractive--they
did not for a moment seek to discover the elements of that
attractiveness--in this proposal of five or six days of luxurious
indolence above the lake, a sort of farewell to the worldly side of
worldly things, before they set forth upon the high and narrow path they
had resolved to tread.

"But we've got no clothes," cried Marjorie, "no clothes at all! We've
these hobnail boots and a pair each of heelless slippers."

"My dear!" cried Lady Solomonson in real distress, and as much aside as
circumstances permitted, "my dear! My sister can manage all that!" Her
voice fell to earnest undertones. "We can really manage all that. The
house is packed with things. We'll come to dinner in fancy dress. And
Scott, my maid, is so clever."

"But really!" said Marjorie.

"My dear!" said Lady Solomonson. "Everything." And she changed places
with Lee in order to be perfectly confidential and explicit. "Rachel!"
she cried, and summoned her sister for confirmatory assurances....

"But my husband!" Marjorie became audible.

"We've long Persian robes," said Mrs. Lee, with a glance of undisguised
appraisement. "He'll be splendid. He'll look like a Soldan...."

The rest of the company forced a hectic conversation in order not to
seem to listen, and presently Lady Solomonson and her sister were
triumphant. They packed Marjorie into the motor car, and Trafford and
Solomonson returned to Vevey by train and thence up to the villa by a
hired automobile.


§ 11

They didn't go outside the magic confines of the Lees' villa for three
days, and when they did they were still surrounded by their host's
service and possessions; they made an excursion to Chillon in his
motor-cars, and went in his motor-boat to lunch with the Maynards in
their lake-side villa close to Geneva. During all that time they seemed
lifted off the common earth into a world of fine fabrics, agreeable
sounds, noiseless unlimited service, and ample untroubled living. It had
an effect of enchantment, and the long healthy arduous journey thither
seemed a tale of incredible effort amidst these sunny excesses. The
weather had the whim to be serenely fine, sunshine like summer and the
bluest of skies shone above the white wall and the ilex thickets and
cypresses that bounded them in from the great world of crowded homes and
sous and small necessities. And through the texture of it all for
Trafford ran a thread of curious new suggestion. An intermittent
discussion of economics and socialism was going on between himself and
Solomonson and an agreeable little stammering man in brown named Minter,
who walked up in the afternoon from Vevey,--he professed to be writing a
novel--during the earlier half of the day. Minter displayed the keenest
appreciation of everything in his entertainment, and blinked cheerfully
and expressed opinions of the extremest socialistic and anarchistic
flavour to an accompaniment of grateful self-indulgence. "Your port-wine
is wonderful, Lee," he would say, sipping it. "A terrible retribution
will fall upon you some day for all this."

The villa had been designed by Lee to please his wife, and if it was
neither very beautiful nor very dignified, it was at any rate very
pretty and amusing. It might have been built by a Parisian
dressmaker--in the châteauesque style. It was of greyish-white stone,
with a roof of tiles. It had little balconies and acutely roofed
turrets, and almost burlesque buttresses, pierced by doors and gates;
and sun-trap loggias, as pleasantly casual as the bows and embroideries
of a woman's dress; and its central hall, with an impluvium that had
nothing to do with rain-water, and its dining-room, to which one
ascended from this hall between pillars up five broad steps, were
entirely irrelevant to all its exterior features. Unobtrusive
men-servants in grey with scarlet facings hovered serviceably.

From the little terrace, all set with orange-trees in tubs, one could
see, through the branches and stems of evergreens and over a foreground
of budding, starting vineyard, the clustering roofs of Vevey below, an
agglomeration veiled ever so thinly in the morning by a cobweb of wood
smoke, against the blue background of lake with its winged
sailing-boats, and sombre Alpine distances. Minter made it all
significant by a wave of the hand. "All this," he said, and of the
crowded work-a-day life below, "all that."

"All this," with its rich litter of stuffs and ornaments, its fine
profusion, its delicacies of flower and food and furniture, its frequent
inconsecutive pleasures, its noiseless, ready service, was remarkably
novel and yet remarkably familiar to Trafford. For a time he could not
understand this undertone of familiarity, and then a sunlit group of
hangings in one of the small rooms that looked out upon the lake took
his mind back to his own dining-room, and the little inadequate, but
decidedly good, Bokhara embroidery that dominated it like a flag, that
lit it, and now lit his understanding, like a confessed desire. Of
course, Mrs. Lee--happy woman!--was doing just everything that Marjorie
would have loved to do. Marjorie had never confessed as much, perhaps
she had never understood as much, but now in the presence of Mrs. Lee's
æsthetic exuberances, Trafford at least understood. He surveyed the
little room, whose harmonies he had at first simply taken for granted,
noted the lustre-ware that answered to the gleaming Persian tiles, the
inspiration of a metallic thread in the hangings, and the exquisite
choice of the deadened paint upon the woodwork, and realized for the
first time how little aimless extravagance can be, and all the timid,
obstinately insurgent artistry that troubled his wife. He stepped
through the open window into a little loggia, and stared unseeingly over
glittering, dark-green leaves to the mysteries of distance in the great
masses above St. Gingolph, and it seemed for the first time that perhaps
in his thoughts he had done his wife a wrong. He had judged her fickle,
impulsive, erratic, perhaps merely because her mind followed a different
process from his, because while he went upon the lines of constructive
truth, her guide was a more immediate and instinctive sense of beauty.

He was very much alive to her now, and deeply in love with her. He had
reached Les Avants with all his sense of their discordance clean washed
and walked out of his mind, by rain and sun and a flow of high
resolutions, and the brotherly swing of their strides together. They had
come to the Lee's villa, mud-splashed, air-sweet comrades, all unaware
of the subtle differences of atmosphere they had to encounter. They had
no suspicion that it was only about half of each other that had
fraternized. Now here they were in a company that was not only
altogether alien to their former mood, but extremely interesting and
exciting and closely akin to the latent factors in Marjorie's
composition. Their hostess and her sister had the keen, quick æsthetic
sensibilities of their race, with all that freedom of reading and
enfranchisement of mind which is the lot of the Western women. Lee had
an immense indulgent affection for his wife, he regarded her
arrangements and exploits with an admiration that was almost American.
And Mrs. Lee's imagination had run loose in pursuit of beautiful and
remarkable people and splendours rather than harmonies of line and
colour. Lee, like Solomonson, had that inexplicable alchemy of mind
which distils gold from the commerce of the world ("All this," said
Minter to Trafford, "is an exhalation from all that"); he accumulated
wealth as one grows a beard, and found his interest in his uxorious
satisfactions, and so Mrs. Lee, with her bright watchful eyes, quick
impulsive movements and instinctive command had the utmost freedom to
realize her ideals.

In the world at large Lee and Solomonson seemed both a little short and
a little stout, and a little too black and bright for their entirely
conventional clothing, but for the dinner and evening of the villa they
were now, out of consideration for Trafford, at their ease, and far more
dignified in Oriental robes. Trafford was accommodated with a long,
black, delicately embroidered garment that reached to his feet, and
suited something upstanding and fine in his bearing; Minter, who had
stayed on from an afternoon call, was gorgeous in Chinese embroidery.
The rest of the men clung boldly or bashfully to evening dress....

On the evening of his arrival Trafford, bathed and robed, found the rest
of the men assembling about an open wood fire in the smaller hall at the
foot of the main staircase. Lee was still upstairs, and Solomonson, with
a new grace of gesture begotten by his costume, made the necessary
introductions; a little man with fine-cut features and a Galway accent
was Rex the playwright; a tall, grey-haired, clean-shaven man was Bright
from the New York Central Museum; and a bearded giant with a roof of red
hair and a remote eye was Radlett Barns, the great portrait-painter, who
consents to paint your portrait for posterity as the King confers a
knighthood. These were presently joined by Lee and Pacey, the
blond-haired musician, and Mottersham, whose patents and inventions
control electric lighting and heating all over the world, and then, with
the men duly gathered and expectant, the women came down the wide
staircase.

The staircase had been planned and lit for these effects, and Mrs. Lee
meant to make the most of her new discovery. Her voice could be heard in
the unseen corridor above arranging the descent: "You go first, dear.
Will you go with Christabel?" The conversation about the fire checked
and ceased with the sound of voices above and the faint rustle of
skirts. Then came Christabel Morrison, her slender grace beautifully
contrasted with the fuller beauties of that great lady of the stage,
Marion Rufus. Lady Solomonson descended confidently in a group of three,
with Lady Mottersham and sharp-tongued little Mrs. Rex, all very rich
and splendid. After a brief interval their hostess preceded Marjorie,
and was so much of an artist that she had dressed herself merely as a
foil to this new creation. She wore black and scarlet, that made the
white face and bright eyes under her sombre hair seem the face of an
inspiring spirit. A step behind her and to the right of her came
Marjorie, tall and wonderful, as if she were the queen of earth and
sunshine, swathed barbarically in gold and ruddy brown, and with her
abundant hair bound back by a fillet of bloodstones and gold. Radlett
Barns exclaimed at the sight of her. She was full of the manifest
consciousness of dignity as she descended, quite conscious and quite
unembarrassed; two borrowed golden circlets glittered on her shining
arm, and a thin chain of gold and garnets broke the contrast of the
warm, sun-touched neck above, with the unsullied skin below.

She sought and met her husband's astonishment with the faintest,
remotest of smiles. It seemed to him that never before had he
appreciated her beauty. His daily companion had become this splendour in
the sky. She came close by him with hand extended to greet Sir Philip
Mottersham. He was sensible of the glow of her, as it were of a scented
aura about her. He had a first full intimation of the cult and worship
of woman and the magnificence of women, old as the Mediterranean and its
goddesses, and altogether novel to his mind....

Christabel Morrison found him a pleasant but not very entertaining or
exciting neighbor at the dinner-table, and was relieved when the time
came for her to turn an ear to the artistic compliments of Radlett
Barns. But Trafford was too interested and amused by the general effect
of the dinner to devote himself to the rather heavy business of really
exhilarating Christabel. He didn't give his mind to her. He found the
transformation of Sir Rupert into a turbanned Oriental who might have
come out of a picture by Carpaccio, gently stimulating and altogether
delightful. His attention returned again and again to that genial
swarthiness. Mrs. Lee on his left lived in her eyes, and didn't so much
talk to him as rattle her mind at him almost absent-mindedly, as one
might dangle keys at a baby while one talked to its mother. Yet it was
evident she liked the look of him. Her glance went from his face to his
robe, and up and down the table, at the bright dresses, the shining
arms, the glass and light and silver. She asked him to tell her just
where he had tramped and just what he had seen, and he had scarcely
begun answering her question before her thoughts flew off to three
trophies of china and silver, struggling groups of china boys bearing up
great silver shells of fruit and flowers that stood down the centre of
the table. "What do you think of my chubby boys?" she asked. "They're
German work. They came from a show at Düsseldorf last week. Ben saw I
liked them, and sent back for them secretly, and here they, are! I
thought they might be too colourless. But are they?"

"No," said Trafford, "they're just cool. Under that glow of fruit. Is
this salt-cellar English cut glass?"

"Old Dutch," said Mrs. Lee. "Isn't it jolly?" She embarked with a roving
eye upon the story of her Dutch glass, which was abundant and admirable,
and broke off abruptly to say, "Your wife is wonderful."

"Her hair goes back," she said, "like music. You know what I mean--a
sort of easy rhythm. You don't mind my praising your wife?"

Trafford said he didn't.

"And there's a sort of dignity about her. All my life, Mr. Trafford,
I've wanted to be tall. It stopped my growth."

She glanced off at a tangent. "Tell me, Mr. Trafford," she asked, "was
your wife beautiful like this when you married her? I mean--of course
she was a beautiful girl and adorable and all that; but wasn't she just
a slender thing?"

She paused, but if she had a habit of asking disconcerting questions she
did not at any rate insist upon answers, and she went on to confess that
she believed she would be a happier woman poor than rich--"not that Ben
isn't all he should be"--but that then she would have been a fashionable
dressmaker. "People want help," she said, "so much more help than they
get. They go about with themselves--what was it Mr. Radlett Barns said
the other night--oh!--like people leading horses they daren't ride. I
think he says such good things at times, don't you? So wonderful to be
clever in two ways like that. Just look _now_ at your wife--now I mean,
that they've drawn that peacock-coloured curtain behind her. My
brother-in-law has been telling me you keep the most wonderful and
precious secrets locked up in your breast, that you know how to make
gold and diamonds and all sorts of things. If I did,--I should make
them."

She pounced suddenly upon Rex at her left with questions about the
Keltic Renascence, was it still going on--or what? and Trafford was at
liberty for a time to enjoy the bright effects about him, the shadowed
profile and black hair of Christabel to the right of him, and the
coruscating refractions and reflections of Lady Solomonson across the
white and silver and ivory and blossom of the table. Then Mrs. Lee
dragged him into a sudden conflict with Rex, by saying abruptly--

"Of course, Mr. Trafford wouldn't believe that."

He looked perhaps a little lost.

"I was telling Mrs. Lee," said Rex, "that I don't believe there's any
economy of human toil in machinery whatever. I mean that the machine
itself really embodies all the toil it seems to save, toil that went to
the making of it and preparing it and getting coal for it...."


§ 12

Next morning they found their hostess at breakfast in the dining-room
and now the sun was streaming through a high triple window that had been
curtained overnight, and they looked out through clean, bright
plate-glass upon mountains half-dissolved in a luminous mist, and a
mist-veiled lake below. Great stone jars upon the terrace bore a blaze
of urged and early blossom, and beyond were cypresses. Their hostess
presided at one of two round tables, at a side table various breakfast
dishes kept warm over spirit lamps, and two men servants dispensed tea
and coffee. In the bay of the window was a fruit table, with piled
fruit-plates and finger-bowls.

Mrs. Lee waved a welcoming hand, and drew Marjorie to a seat beside her.
Rex was consuming trout and Christabel peaches, and Solomonson, all his
overnight Orientalism abandoned, was in outspoken tweeds and quite under
the impression that he was interested in golf. Trafford got frizzled
bacon for Marjorie and himself, and dropped into a desultory
conversation, chiefly sustained by Christabel, about the peculiarly
exalting effect of beautiful scenery on Christabel's mind. Mrs. Lee was
as usual distraught, and kept glancing towards the steps that led up
from the hall. Lady Solomonson appeared with a rustle in a wrapper of
pink Chinese silk. "I came down after all," she said. "I lay in bed
weighing rolls and coffee and relaxed muscles against your English
breakfast downstairs. And suddenly I remembered your little sausages!"

She sat down with a distribution of handkerchief, bag, letters, a gold
fountain pen and suchlike equipments, and Trafford got her some of the
coveted delicacies. Mrs. Lee suddenly cried out, "_Here_ they come!
_Here_ they come!" and simultaneously the hall resonated with children's
voices and the yapping of a Skye terrier.

Then a gay little procession appeared ascending the steps. First came a
small but princely little boy of three, with a ruddy face and curly
black hair, behind him was a slender, rather awkward girl of perhaps
eleven, and a sturdier daughter of Israel of nine. A nurse in artistic
purple followed, listening inattentively to some private whisperings of
a knickerbockered young man of five, and then came another purple-robed
nurse against contingencies, and then a nurse of a different,
white-clad, and more elaborately costumed sort, carrying a sumptuous
baby of eight or nine months. "Ah! the _darlings!_" cried Christabel,
springing up quite beautifully, and Lady Solomonson echoed the cry. The
procession broke against the tables and split about the breakfast party.
The small boy in petticoats made a confident rush for Marjorie,
Christabel set herself to fascinate his elder brother, the young woman
of eleven scrutinized Trafford with speculative interest and edged
towards him coyly, and Mrs. Lee interviewed her youngest born. The
amiable inanities suitable to the occasion had scarcely begun before a
violent clapping of hands announced the appearance of Lee.

It was Lee's custom, Mrs. Lee told Marjorie over her massively robed
baby, to get up very early and work on rolls and coffee; he never
breakfasted nor joined them until the children came. All of them rushed
to him for their morning kiss, and it seemed to Trafford that Lee at
least was an altogether happy creature as he accepted the demonstrative
salutations of this struggling, elbowing armful of offspring, and
emerged at last like a man from a dive, flushed and ruffled and smiling,
to wish his adult guests good morning.

"Come upstairs with us, daddy," cried the children, tugging at him.
"Come upstairs!"

Mrs. Lee ran her eye about her table and rose. "It's the children's
hour," she said to Marjorie. "You don't I hope, mind children?"

"But," said Trafford incredulous, and with a friendly arm about his
admirer, "is this tall young woman yours?"

The child shot him a glance of passionate appreciation for this scrap of
flattery.

"We began young," said Mrs. Lee, with eyes of uncritical pride for the
ungainly one, and smiled at her husband.

"Upstairs," cried the boy of five and the girl of nine. "Upstairs."

"May we come?" asked Marjorie.

"May we all come?" asked Christabel, determined to be in the movement.

Rex strolled towards the cigars, with disentanglement obviously in his
mind.

"Do you really care?" asked Mrs. Lee. "You know, I'm so proud of their
nursery. Would you care----? Always I go up at this time."

"I've my little nursery, too," said Marjorie.

"Of course!" cried Mrs. Lee, "I forgot. Of course;" and overwhelmed
Marjorie with inquiries as she followed her husband. Every one joined
the nurseryward procession except Rex, who left himself behind with an
air of inadvertency, and escaped to the terrace and a cigar....

It was a wonderful nursery, a suite of three bedrooms, a green and
white, well-lit schoolroom and a vast playroom, and hovering about the
passage Trafford remarked a third purple nurse and a very efficient and
serious-looking Swiss governess. The schoolroom and the nursery
displayed a triumph of judicious shopping and arrangement, the best of
German and French and English things had been blended into a harmony at
once hygienic and pedagogic and humanly charming. For once Marjorie had
to admire the spending of another woman, and admit to herself that even
she could not have done better with the money.

There were clever little desks for the elder children to work at,
adjustable desks scientifically lit so that they benefited hands and
shoulders and eyes; there were artistically coloured and artistically
arranged pictures, and a little library held all the best of Lang and
Lucas, rare good things like "Uncle Lubin," Maurice Baring's story of
"Forget-me-not," "Johnny Crow's Garden," "The Bad Child's Book of
Beasts," animal books and bird books, costume books and story books,
colour books and rhyme books, abundant, yet every one intelligently
chosen, no costly meretricious printed rubbish such as silly Gentile
mothers buy. Then in the great nursery, with its cork carpet on which
any toy would stand or run, was an abundance of admirable possessions
and shelving for everything, and great fat cloth elephants to ride, and
go-carts, and hooks for a swing. Marjorie's quick eye saw, and she
admired effusively and envied secretly, and Mrs. Lee appreciated her
appreciation. A skirmishing romp of the middle children and Lee went on
about the two of them, and Trafford was led off by his admirer into a
cubby-house in one corner (with real glass windows made to open) and the
muslin curtains were drawn while he was shown a secret under vows. Lady
Solomonson discovered some soldiers, and was presently on her knees in a
corner with the five-year old boy.

"These are like my Teddy's," she was saying. "My Billy has some of
these."

Trafford emerged from the cubby-house, which was perhaps a little
cramped for him, and surveyed the room, with his admirer lugging at his
arm unheeded, and whispering: "Come back with me."

Of course this was the clue to Lee and Solomonson. How extremely happy
Lee appeared to be! Enormous vistas of dark philoprogenitive parents and
healthy little Jews and Jewesses seemed to open out to Trafford,
hygienically reared, exquisitely trained and educated. And he and
Marjorie had just one little daughter--with a much poorer educational
outlook. She had no cloth elephant to ride, no elaborate cubby-house to
get into, only a half-dozen picture books or so, and later she wouldn't
when she needed it get that linguistic Swiss.

He wasn't above the normal human vanity of esteeming his own race and
type the best, and certain vulgar aspects of what nowadays one calls
Eugenics crossed his mind.


§ 13

During those few crowded days of unfamiliar living Trafford accumulated
a vast confused mass of thoughts and impressions. He realized acutely
the enormous gulf between his attitudes towards women and those of his
host and Solomonson--and indeed of all the other men. It had never
occurred to him before that there was any other relationship possible
between a modern woman and a modern man but a frank comradeship and
perfect knowledge, helpfulness, and honesty. That had been the continual
implication of his mother's life, and of all that he had respected in
the thought and writing of his time. But not one of these men in their
place--with the possible exception of Minter, who remained brilliant but
ambiguous--believed anything of the sort. It necessarily involved in
practice a share of hardship for women, and it seemed fundamental to
them that women should have no hardship. He sought for a word, and hung
between chivalry and orientalism. He inclined towards chivalry. Their
women were lifted a little off the cold ground of responsibility. Charm
was their obligation. "A beautiful woman should be beautifully dressed,"
said Radlett Barns in the course of the discussion of a contemporary
portrait painter. Lee nodded to endorse an obvious truth. "But she ought
to dress herself," said Barns. "It ought to be herself to the points of
the old lace--chosen and assimilated. It's just through not being that,
that so many rich women are--detestable. Heaps of acquisition.
Caddis-women...."

Trafford ceased to listen, he helped himself to a cigar and pinched its
end and lit it, while his mind went off to gnaw at: "A beautiful woman
should be beautifully dressed," as a dog retires with a bone. He
couldn't escape from its shining truth, and withal it was devastating to
all the purposes of his life.

He rejected the word orientalism; what he was dealing with here was
chivalry. "All this," was indeed, under the thinnest of disguises, the
castle and the pavilion, and Lee and Solomonson were valiant knights,
who entered the lists not indeed with spear and shield but with
prospectus and ingenious enterprise, who drew cheques instead of swords
for their ladies' honour, who held "all that" in fee and subjection that
these exquisite and wonderful beings should flower in rich perfection.
All these women lived in a magic security and abundance, far above the
mire and adventure of the world; their knights went upon quests for them
and returned with villas and pictures and diamonds and historical
pearls. And not one of them all was so beautiful a being as his
Marjorie, whom he made his squaw, whom he expected to aid and follow
him, and suffer uncomplainingly the rough services of the common life.
Not one was half so beautiful as Marjorie, nor half so sweet and
wonderful....

If such thoughts came in Lee's villa, they returned with redoubled force
when Trafford found himself packed painfully with Marjorie in the night
train to Paris. His head ached with the rattle and suffocation of the
train, and he knew hers must ache more. The windows of the compartment
and the door were all closed, the litigious little commercial traveller
in shiny grey had insisted upon that, there was no corner seat either
for Marjorie or himself, the dim big package over her head swayed
threateningly. The green shade over the light kept opening with the
vibration of the train, the pallid old gentleman with the beard had
twisted himself into a ghastly resemblance to a broken-necked corpse,
and pressed his knees hard and stiffly against Trafford, and the small,
sniffing, bow-legged little boy beside the rusty widow woman in the
corner smelt mysteriously and penetratingly of Roquefort cheese. For the
seventeenth time the little commercial traveller jumped up with an
unbecoming expletive, and pulled the shade over the light, and the
silent young man in the fourth corner stirred and readjusted his legs.

For a time until the crack of light overhead had widened again every one
became a dark head-dangling outline....

He watched the dim shape before him and noted the weary droop of her
pose. He wished he had brought water. He was intolerably thirsty, and
his thirst gave him the measure of hers. This jolting foetid
compartment was a horrible place for her, an intolerably horrible place.
And she was standing it, for all her manifest suffering, with infinite
gallantry and patience. What a gallant soul indeed she was! Whatever
else she did she never failed to rise to a challenge. Her very
extravagance that had tried their lives so sorely was perhaps just one
aspect of that same quality. It is so easy to be saving if one is timid;
so hard if one is unaccustomed to fear. How beautiful she had shone at
times in the lights and glitter of that house behind there, and now she
was back in her weather-stained tweeds again, like a shining sword
thrust back into a rusty old sheath.

Was it fair that she should come back into the sheath because of this
passion of his for a vast inexhaustible research?

He had never asked himself before if it was fair to assume she would
follow his purpose and his fortunes. He had taken that for granted. And
she too had taken that for granted, which was so generously splendid of
her. All her disloyalties had been unintentional, indeed almost
instinctive, breaches of her subordination to this aim which was his
alone. These breaches he realized had been the reality of her nature
fighting against her profoundest resolutions.

He wondered what Lee must think of this sort of married life. How ugly
and selfish it must seem from that point of view.

He perceived for the first time the fundamental incongruity of
Marjorie's position, she was made to shine, elaborately prepared and
trained to shine, desiring keenly to shine, and then imprisoned and
hidden in the faded obscurity of a small, poor home. How conspicuously,
how extremely he must be wanting in just that sort of chivalry in which
Lee excelled! Those business men lived for their women to an extent he
had hitherto scarcely dreamt of doing....

His want of chivalry was beyond dispute. And was there not also an
extraordinary egotism in this concentration upon his own purposes, a
self-esteem, a vanity? Had her life no rights? Suppose now he were to
give her--two years, three years perhaps of his life--altogether. Or
even four. Was it too much to grudge her four? Solomonson had been at
his old theme with him, a theme the little man had never relinquished
since their friendship first began years ago, possibilities of a
business alliance and the application of a mind of exceptional freshness
and penetration to industrial development. Why shouldn't that be tried?
Why not "make money" for a brief strenuous time, and then come back,
when Marjorie's pride and comfort were secure?...

(Poor dear, how weary she looked!)

He wondered how much more remained of this appalling night. It would
have made so little difference if they had taken the day train and
travelled first-class. Wasn't she indeed entitled to travel first-class?
Pictures of the immense spaciousness, the softness, cleanliness and
dignity of first-class compartments appeared in his mind....

He would have looked at his watch, but to get at it would mean
disturbing the silent young man on his left.

Outside in the corridor there broke out a noisy dispute about a missing
coupon, a dispute in that wonderful language that is known to the
facetious as _entente cordiale_, between an Englishman and the conductor
of the train....


§ 14

In Paris there was a dispute with an extortionate cabman, and the
crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven was rough and bitterly cold. They were
both ill. They reached home very dirty and weary, and among the pile of
letters and papers on Trafford's desk was a big bundle of Science Note
proofs, and two letters from Croydon and Pinner to alter the hours of
his lectures for various plausible and irritating reasons.

The little passage looked very small and rather bare as the door shut
behind them, and the worn places that had begun to be conspicuous during
the last six months, and which they had forgotten during the Swiss
holiday, reasserted themselves. The dining-room, after spacious rooms
flooded with sunshine, betrayed how dark it was, and how small. Those
Bokhara embroideries that had once shone so splendid, now, after Mrs.
Lee's rich and unlimited harmonies, seemed skimpy and insufficient, mere
loin-cloths for the artistic nakedness of the home. They felt, too, they
were beginning to find out their post-impressionist picture. They had
not remembered it as nearly so crude as it now appeared. The hole a
flying coal had burnt in the unevenly faded dark-blue carpet looked
larger than it had ever done before, and was indeed the only thing that
didn't appear faded and shrunken.


§ 15

The atmosphere of the Lees' villa had disturbed Marjorie's feelings and
ideas even more than it had Trafford's. She came back struggling to
recover those high resolves that had seemed so secure when they had
walked down to Les Avantes. There was a curiously tormenting memory of
that vast, admirable nursery, and the princely procession of children
that would not leave her mind. No effort of her reason could reconcile
her to the inferiority of Margharita's equipment. She had a detestable
craving for a uniform for May. But May was going....

But indeed she was not so sure that May was going.

She was no longer buoyantly well, she was full of indefinable
apprehensions of weakness and failure. She struggled to control an
insurgence of emotions that rose out of the deeps of her being. She had
now, she knew, to take on her share of the burden, to become one of the
Samurai, to show her love no longer as a demand but as a service. Yet
from day to day she procrastinated under the shadow of apprehended
things; she forebore to dismiss May, to buy that second-hand typewriter
she needed, to take any irrevocable step towards the realization of the
new way of living. She tried to think away her fears, but they would not
leave her. She felt that Trafford watched her pale face with a furtive
solicitude and wondered at her hesitations; she tried in vain to seem
cheerful and careless in his presence, with an anxiety, with
premonitions that grew daily.

There was no need to worry him unduly....

But soon the matter was beyond all doubting. One night she gathered her
courage together suddenly and came down into his study in her
dressing-gown with her hair about her shoulders. She opened the door
and her heart failed her.

"Rag," she whispered.

"Yes," he said busily from his desk, without looking round.

"I want to speak to you," she answered, and came slowly, and stood
beside him silently.

"Well, old Marjorie?" he said presently, drawing a little intricate
pattern in the corner of his blotting paper, and wondering whether this
was a matter of five pounds or ten.

"I meant so well," she said and caught herself back into silence again.

He started at the thought, at a depth and meaning in her voice, turned
his chair about to look at her, and discovered she was weeping and
choking noiselessly. He stood up close to her, moving very slowly and
silently, his eyes full of this new surmise, and now without word or
gesture from her he knew his thought was right. "My dear," he whispered.

She turned her face from him. "I meant so well," she sobbed. "My dear! I
meant so well." Still with an averted face her arms came out to him in a
desperate, unreasoning appeal for love. He took her and held her close
to him. "Never mind, dear," he said. "Don't mind." Her passion now was
unconstrained. "I thought--" he began, and left the thing unsaid.

"But your work," she said; "your research?"

"I must give up research," he said.

"Oh, my dearest!"

"I must give up research," he repeated. "I've been seeing it for days.
Clearer and clearer. _This_ dear, just settles things. Even--as we were
coming home in the train--I was making up my mind. At Vevey I was
talking to Solomonson."

"My dear," she whispered, clinging to him.

"I talked to Solomonson. He had ideas--a proposal."

"No," she said.

"Yes," he said. "I've left the thing too long."

He repeated. "I must give up research--for years. I ought to have done
it long before."

"I had meant so well," she said. "I meant to work. I meant to deny
myself...."

"I'm glad," he whispered. "Glad! Why should you weep?" It seemed nothing
to him then, that so he should take a long farewell to the rare, sweet
air of that wonderland his mind had loved so dearly. All he remembered
was that Marjorie was very dear to him, very dear to him, and that all
her being was now calling out for him and his strength. "I had thought
anyhow of giving up research," he repeated. "This merely decides. It
happens to decide. I love you, dear. I put my research at your feet.
Gladly. This is the end, and I do not care, my dear, at all. I do not
care at all--seeing I have you...."

He stood beside her for a moment, and then sat down again, sideways,
upon his chair.

"It isn't you, my dear, or me," he said, "but life that beats us--that
beautiful, irrational mother.... Life does not care for research or
knowledge, but only for life. Oh! the world has to go on yet for tens of
thousands of years before--before we are free for that. I've got to
fight--as other men fight...."

He thought in silence for a time, oddly regardless of her. "But if it
was not you," he said, staring at the fireplace with knitted brows, "if
I did not love you.... Thank God, I love you, dear! Thank God, our
children are love children! I want to live--to my finger-tips, but if I
didn't love you--oh! love you! then I think now--I'd be glad--I'd be
glad, I think, to cheat life of her victory."

"Oh, my dear!" she cried, and clung weeping to him, and caught at him
and sat herself upon his knees, and put her arms about his head, and
kissed him passionately with tear-salt lips, with her hair falling upon
his face.

"My dear," she whispered....


§ 16

So soon as Trafford could spare an afternoon amidst his crowded
engagements he went to talk to Solomonson, who was now back in London.
"Solomonson," he said, "you were talking about rubber at Vevey."

"I remember," said Solomonson with a note of welcome.

"I've thought it over."

"I _thought_ you would."

"I've thought things over. I'm going to give up my professorship--and
science generally, and come into business--if that is what you are
meaning."

Solomonson turned his paper-weight round very carefully before replying.
Then he said: "You mustn't give up your professorship yet, Trafford. For
the rest--I'm glad."

He reflected, and then his bright eyes glanced up at Trafford. "I knew,"
he said, "you would."

"I didn't," said Trafford. "Things have happened since."

"Something was bound to happen. You're too good--for what it gave you. I
didn't talk to you out there for nothing. I saw things.... Let's go
into the other room, and smoke and talk it over." He stood up as he
spoke.

"I thought you would," he repeated, leading the way. "I knew you would.
You see,--one _has_ to. You can't get out of it."

"It was all very well before you were married," said Solomonson,
stopping short to say it, "but when a man's married he's got to think.
He can't go on devoting himself to his art and his science and all
that--not if he's married anything worth having. No. Oh, I understand.
He's got to look about him, and forget the distant prospect for a bit. I
saw you'd come to it. _I_ came to it. Had to. I had ambitions--just as
you have. I've always had an inclination to do a bit of research on my
own. I _like_ it, you know. Oh! I could have done things. I'm sure I
could have done things. I'm not a born money-maker. But----." He became
very close and confidential. "It's----_them_. You said good-bye to
science for a bit when you flopped me down on that old croquet-lawn,
Trafford." He went off to reminiscences. "Lord, how we went over! No
more aviation for me, Trafford!"

He arranged chairs, and produced cigars. "After all--this of
course--it's interesting. Once you get into the movement of it, it takes
hold of you. It's a game."

"I've thought over all you said," Trafford began, using premeditated
phrases. "Bluntly--I want three thousand a year, and I don't make eight
hundred. It's come home to me. I'm going to have another child."

Solomonson gesticulated a congratulation.

"All the same, I hate dropping research. It's stuff I'm made to do.
About that, Solomonson, I'm almost superstitious. I could say I had a
call.... It's the maddest state of affairs! Now that I'm doing
absolutely my best work for mankind, work I firmly believe no one else
can do, I just manage to get six hundred--nearly two hundred of my eight
hundred is my own. What does the world think I could do better--that
would be worth four times as much."

"The world doesn't think anything at all about it," said Solomonson.

"Suppose it did!"

The thought struck Sir Rupert. He knitted his brows and looked hard
obliquely at the smoke of his cigar. "Oh, it won't," he said, rejecting
a disagreeable idea. "There isn't any world--not in that sense. That's
the mistake you make, Trafford."

"It's not what your work is worth," he explained. "It's what your
advantages can get for you. People are always going about
supposing--just what you suppose--that people ought to get paid in
proportion to the good they do. It's forgetting what the world is, to do
that. Very likely some day civilization will get to that, but it hasn't
got to it yet. It isn't going to get to it for hundreds and hundreds of
years."

His manner became confidential. "Civilization's just a fight,
Trafford--just as savagery is a fight, and being a wild beast is a
fight,--only you have paddeder gloves on and there's more rules. We
aren't out for everybody, we're out for ourselves--and a few friends
perhaps--within limits. It's no good hurrying ahead and pretending
civilization's something else, when it isn't. That's where all these
socialists and people come a howler. Oh, _I_ know the Socialists. I see
'em at my wife's At Homes. They come along with the literary people and
the artists' wives and the actors and actresses, and none of them take
much account of me because I'm just a business man and rather dark and
short, and so I get a chance of looking at them from the side that isn't
on show while the other's turned to the women, and they're just as
fighting as the rest of us, only they humbug more and they don't seem to
me to have a decent respect for any of the common rules. And that's
about what it all comes to, Trafford."

Sir Rupert paused, and Trafford was about to speak when the former
resumed again, his voice very earnest, his eyes shining with purpose. He
liked Trafford, and he was doing his utmost to make a convincing
confession of the faith that was in him. "It's when it comes to the
women," said Sir Rupert, "that one finds it out. That's where _you've_
found it out. You say, I'm going to devote my life to the service of
Humanity in general. You'll find Humanity in particular, in the shape of
all the fine, beautiful, delightful and desirable women you come across,
preferring a narrower turn of devotion. See? That's all. _Caeteris
paribus_, of course. That's what I found out, and that's what you've
found out, and that's what everybody with any sense in his head finds
out, and there you are."

"You put it--graphically," said Trafford.

"I feel it graphically. I may be all sorts of things, but I do know a
fact when I see it. I'm here with a few things I want and a woman or so
I have and want to keep, and the kids upstairs, bless 'em! and I'm in
league with all the others who want the same sort of things. Against any
one or anything that upsets us. We stand by the law and each other, and
that's what it all amounts to. That's as far as my patch of Humanity
goes. Humanity at large! Humanity be blowed! _Look_ at it! It isn't that
I'm hostile to Humanity, mind you, but that I'm not disposed to go
under as I should do if I didn't say that. So I say it. And that's about
all it is, and there you are."

He regarded Trafford over his cigar, drawing fiercely at it for some
moments. Then seeing Trafford on the point of speaking, he snatched it
from his lips, demanded silence by waving it at his hearer, and went on.

"I say all this in order to dispose of any idea that you can keep up the
open-minded tell-everybody-every-thing scientific attitude if you come
into business. You can't. Put business in two words and what is it?
Keeping something from somebody else, and making him pay for it--"

"Oh, look here!" protested Trafford. "That's not the whole of business."

"There's making him want it, of course, advertisement and all that, but
that falls under making him pay for it, really."

"But a business man organizes public services, consolidates,
economizes."

Sir Rupert made his mouth look very wide by sucking in the corners.
"Incidentally," he said, and added after a judicious pause:
"Sometimes ... I thought we were talking of making money."

"Go on," said Trafford.

"You set me thinking," said Solomonson. "It's the thing I always like
about you. I tell you, Trafford, I don't believe that the majority of
people who make money help civilization forward any more than the smoke
that comes out of the engine helps the train forward. If you put it to
me, I don't. I've got no illusions of that sort. They're about as much
help as--fat. They accumulate because things happen to be arranged so."

"Things will be arranged better some day."

"They aren't arranged better now. Grip that! _Now_, it's a sort of
paradox. If you've got big gifts and you choose to help forward the
world, if you choose to tell all you know and give away everything you
can do in the way of work, you've got to give up the ideas of wealth and
security, and that means fine women and children. You've got to be a
_deprived_ sort of man. 'All right,' you say, 'That's me!' But how about
your wife being a deprived sort of woman? Eh? That's where it gets you!
And meanwhile, you know, while _you_ make your sacrifices and do your
researches, there'll be little mean sharp active beasts making money all
over you like maggots on a cheese. And if everybody who'd got gifts and
altruistic ideas gave themselves up to it, then evidently only the mean
and greedy lot would breed and have the glory. They'd get everything.
Every blessed thing. There wouldn't be an option they didn't hold. And
the other chaps would produce the art and the science and the
literature, as far as the men who'd got hold of things would let 'em,
and perish out of the earth altogether.... There you are! Still, that's
how things are made...."

"But it isn't worth it. It isn't worth extinguishing oneself in order to
make a world for those others, anyhow. Them and their children. Is it?
Eh? It's like building a temple for flies to buzz in.... There is such a
thing as a personal side to Eugenics, you know."

Solomonson reflected over the end of his cigar. "It isn't good enough,"
he concluded.

"You're infernally right," said Trafford.

"Very well," said Solomonson, "and now we can get to business."


§ 17

The immediate business was the systematic exploitation of the fact that
Trafford had worked out the problem of synthesizing indiarubber. He had
done so with an entire indifference to the commercial possibilities of
the case, because he had been irritated by the enormous publicity given
to Behrens' assertion that he had achieved this long-sought end. Of
course the production of artificial rubbers and rubber-like substances
had been one of the activities of the synthetic chemist for many years,
from the appearance of Tilden's isoprene rubber onward, and there was
already a formidable list of collaterals, dimethybutadiene, and so
forth, by which the coveted goal could be approached. Behrens had boldly
added to this list as his own a number of variations upon a theme of
Trafford's, originally designed to settle certain curiosities about
elasticity. Behrens' products were not only more massively rubber-like
than anything that had gone before them, but also extremely cheap to
produce, and his bold announcement of success had produced a check in
rubber sales and widespread depression in the quiveringly sensitive
market of plantation shares. Solomonson had consulted Trafford about
this matter at Vevey, and had heard with infinite astonishment that
Trafford had already roughly prepared and was proposing to complete and
publish, unpatented and absolutely unprotected, first a smashing
demonstration of the unsoundness of Behrens' claim and then a lucid
exposition of just what had to be done and what could be done to make an
indiarubber absolutely indistinguishable from the natural product. The
business man could not believe his ears.

"My dear chap, positively--you mustn't," Solomonson had screamed, and
he had opened his fingers and humped his shoulders and for all his
public school and university training lapsed undisguisedly into the
Oriental. "Don't you _see_ all you are throwing away?" he squealed.

"I suppose it's our quality to throw such things away," said Trafford,
when at last Solomonson's point of view became clear to him. They had
embarked upon a long rambling discussion of that issue of publication, a
discussion they were now taking up again. "When men dropped that idea of
concealing knowledge, alchemist gave place to chemist," said Trafford,
"and all that is worth having in modern life, all that makes it better
and safer and more hopeful than the ancient life, began."

"My dear fellow," said Solomonson, "I know, I know. But to give away the
synthesis of rubber! To just shove it out of the window into the street!
_Gare l'eau!_ O! And when you could do with so much too!"....

Now they resumed the divergent threads of that Vevey talk.

Solomonson had always entertained the warmest friendship and admiration
for Trafford, and it was no new thing that he should desire a business
co-operation. He had been working for that in the old days at Riplings;
he had never altogether let the possibility drop out of sight between
them in spite of Trafford's repudiations. He believed himself to be a
scientific man turned to business, but indeed his whole passion was for
organization and finance. He knew he could do everything but originate,
and in Trafford he recognized just that rare combination of an obstinate
and penetrating simplicity with constructive power which is the
essential blend in the making of great intellectual initiatives. To
Trafford belonged the secret of novel and unsuspected solutions; what
were fixed barriers and unsurmountable conditions to trained
investigators and commonplace minds, would yield to his gift of magic
inquiry. He could startle the accepted error into self-betrayal. Other
men might play the game of business infinitely better than
he--Solomonson knew, indeed, quite well that he himself could play the
game infinitely better than Trafford--but it rested with Trafford by
right divine of genius to alter the rules. If only he could be induced
to alter the rules secretly, unostentatiously, on a business footing,
instead of making catastrophic plunges into publicity! And everything
that had made Trafford up to the day of his marriage was antagonistic to
such strategic reservations. The servant of science has as such no
concern with personal consequences; his business is the steady,
relentless clarification of knowledge. The human affairs he changes, the
wealth he makes or destroys, are no concern of his; once these things
weigh with him, become primary, he has lost his honour as a scientific
man.

"But you _must_ think of consequences," Solomonson had cried during
those intermittent talks at Vevey. "Here you are, shying this cheap
synthetic rubber of yours into the world--for it's bound to be cheap!
any one can see that--like a bomb into a market-place. What's the good
of saying you don't care about the market-place, that _your_ business is
just to make bombs and drop them out of the window? You smash up things
just the same. Why! you'll ruin hundreds and thousands of people, people
living on rubber shares, people working in plantations, old, inadaptable
workers in rubber works...."

Sir Rupert was now still a little incredulous of Trafford's change of
purpose, and for a time argued conceded points. Then slowly he came to
the conditions and methods of the new relationship. He sketched out a
scheme of co-operation and understandings between his firm and Trafford,
between them both and his associated group in the city.

Behrens was to have rope and produce his slump in plantation shares,
then Trafford was to publish his criticism of Behrens, reserving only
that catalytic process which was his own originality, the process that
was to convert the inert, theoretically correct synthetic rubber, with a
mysterious difference in the quality of its phases, into the real right
thing. With Behrens exploded, plantation shares would recover, and while
their friends in the city manipulated that, Trafford would resign his
professorship and engage himself to an ostentatious promotion syndicate
for the investigation of synthetic rubber. His discovery would follow
immediately the group had cleared itself of plantation shares; indeed he
could begin planning the necessary works forthwith; the large scale
operations in the process were to be protected as far as possible by
patents, but its essential feature, the addition of a specific catalytic
agent, could be safely dealt with as a secret process.

"I hate secrecy," said Trafford.

"Business," interjected Solomonson, and went on with his exposition of
the relative advantages of secrecy and patent rights. It was all a
matter of just how many people you had to trust. As that number
increased, the more and more advisable did it become to put your cards
on the table and risk the complex uncertain protection of the patent
law. They went into elaborate calculations, clerks were called upon to
hunt up facts and prices, and the table was presently littered with
waste arithmetic.

"I believe we can do the stuff at tenpence a pound," said Solomonson,
leaning back in his chair at last, and rattling his fountain pen between
his teeth, "so soon, that is, as we deal in quantity. Tenpence! We can
lower the price and spread the market, sixpence by sixpence. In the
end--there won't be any more plantations. Have to grow tea.... I say,
let's have an invalid dinner of chicken and champagne, and go on with
this. It's fascinating. You can telephone."

They dined together, and Solomonson on champagne rather than chicken.
His mind, which had never shown an instant's fatigue, began to glow and
sparkle. This enterprise, he declared, was to be only the first of a
series of vigorous exploitations. The whole thing warmed him. He would
rather make ten thousand by such developments, than a hundred thousand
by mere speculation. Trafford had but scratched the surface of his mine
of knowledge. "Let's think of other things," said Sir Rupert Solomonson.
"Diamonds! No! They've got too many tons stowed away already. A diamond
now--it's an absolutely artificial value. At any time a new discovery
and one wild proprietor might bust that show. Lord!--diamonds! Metals?
Of course you've worked the colloids chiefly. I suppose there's been
more done in metals and alloys than anywhere. There's a lot of other
substances. Business has hardly begun to touch substances yet, you know,
Trafford--flexible glass, for example, and things like that. So far
we've always taken substances for granted. On our side, I mean. It's
extraordinary how narrow the outlook of business and finance is--still.
It never seems to lead to things, never thinks ahead. In this case of
rubber, for example----"

"When men fight for their own hands and for profit and position in the
next ten years or so, I suppose they tend to become narrow."

"I suppose they must." Sir Rupert's face glowed with a new idea, and his
voice dropped a little lower. "But what a pull they get, Trafford, if
perhaps--they don't, eh?"

"No," said Trafford with a smile and a sigh, "the other sort gets the
pull."

"Not _this_ time," said Solomonson; "not with you to spot processes and
me to figure out the cost--" he waved his hands to the litter that had
been removed to a side table--"and generally see how the business end of
things is going...."



    BOOK THE THIRD
    MARJORIE AT LONELY HUT



CHAPTER THE FIRST

SUCCESSES


§ 1

I find it hard to trace the accumulation of moods and feelings that led
Trafford and Marjorie at last to make their extraordinary raid upon
Labrador. In a week more things happen in the thoughts of such a man as
Trafford, changes, revocations, deflections, than one can chronicle in
the longest of novels. I have already in an earlier passage of this
story sought to give an image of the confused content of a modern human
mind, but that pool was to represent a girl of twenty, and Trafford now
was a man of nearly thirty-five, and touching life at a hundred points
for one of the undergraduate Marjorie's. Perhaps that made him less
confused, but it certainly made him fuller. Let me attempt therefore
only the broad outline of his changes of purpose and activity until I
come to the crucial mood that made these two lives a little worth
telling about, amidst the many thousands of such lives that people are
living to-day....

It took him seven years from his conclusive agreement with Solomonson to
become a rich and influential man. It took him only seven years, because
already by the mere accidents of intellectual interest he was in
possession of knowledge of the very greatest economic importance, and
because Solomonson was full of that practical loyalty and honesty that
distinguishes his race. I think that in any case Trafford's vigor and
subtlety of mind would have achieved the prosperity he had found
necessary to himself, but it might have been, under less favorable
auspices, a much longer and more tortuous struggle. Success and security
were never so abundant nor so easily attained by men with capacity and a
sense of proportion as they are in the varied and flexible world of
to-day. We live in an affluent age with a nearly incredible continuous
fresh increment of power pouring in from mechanical invention, and
compared with our own, most other periods have been meagre and anxious
and hard-up times. Our problems are constantly less the problems of
submission and consolation and continually more problems of
opportunity....

Trafford found the opening campaign, the operation with the plantation
shares and his explosion of Behrens' pretensions extremely uncongenial.
It left upon his mind a confused series of memories of interviews and
talks in offices for the most part dingy and slovenly, of bales of
press-cuttings and blue-pencilled financial publications, of unpleasing
encounters with a number of bright-eyed, flushed, excitable and
extremely cunning men, of having to be reserved and limited in his talk
upon all occasions, and of all the worst aspects of Solomonson. All that
part of the new treatment of life that was to make him rich gave him
sensations as though he had ceased to wash himself mentally, until he
regretted his old life in his laboratory as a traveller in a crowded
night train among filthy people might regret the bathroom he had left
behind him....

But the development of his manufacture of rubber was an entirely
different business, and for a time profoundly interesting. It took him
into a new astonishing world, the world of large-scale manufacture and
industrial organization. The actual planning of the works was not in
itself anything essentially new to him. So far as all that went it was
scarcely more than the problem of arranging an experiment upon a huge
and permanent scale, and all that quick ingenuity, that freshness and
directness of mind that had made his purely scientific work so admirable
had ample and agreeable scope. Even the importance of cost and economy
at every point in the process involved no system of considerations that
was altogether novel to him. The British investigator knows only too
well the necessity for husbanded material and inexpensive substitutes.
But strange factors came in, a new region of interest was opened with
the fact that instead of one experimenter working with the alert
responsive assistance of Durgan, a multitude of human beings--even in
the first drafts of his project they numbered already two hundred,
before the handling and packing could be considered--had to watch,
control, assist or perform every stage in a long elaborate synthesis.
For the first time in his life Trafford encountered the reality of
Labour, as it is known to the modern producer.

It will be difficult in the future, when things now subtly or widely
separated have been brought together by the receding perspectives of
time, for the historian to realize just how completely out of the
thoughts of such a young man as Trafford the millions of people who live
and die in organized productive industry had been. That vast world of
toil and weekly anxiety, ill-trained and stupidly directed effort and
mental and moral feebleness, had been as much beyond the living circle
of his experience as the hosts of Genghis Khan or the social life of the
Forbidden City. Consider the limitations of his world. In all his life
hitherto he had never been beyond a certain prescribed area of London's
immensities, except by the most casual and uninstructive straying. He
knew Chelsea and Kensington and the north bank and (as a boy) Battersea
Park, and all the strip between Kensington and Charing Cross, with some
scraps of the Strand as far as the Law Courts, a shop or so in Tottenham
Court Road and fragments about the British Museum and Holborn and
Regent's Park, a range up Edgware Road to Maida Vale, the routes west
and south-west through Uxbridge and Putney to the country, and Wimbledon
Common and Putney Heath. He had never been on Hampstead Heath nor
visited the Botanical Gardens nor gone down the Thames below London
Bridge, nor seen Sydenham nor Epping Forest nor the Victoria Park. Take
a map and blot all he knew and see how vast is the area left untouched.
All industrial London, all wholesale London, great oceans of human
beings fall into that excluded area. The homes he knew were comfortable
homes, the poor he knew were the parasitic and dependent poor of the
West, the shops, good retail shops, the factories for the most part
engaged in dressmaking.

Of course he had been informed about this vast rest of London. He knew
that as a matter of fact it existed, was populous, portentous, puzzling.
He had heard of "slums," read "Tales of Mean Streets," and marvelled in
a shallow transitory way at such wide wildernesses of life, apparently
supported by nothing at all in a state of grey, darkling but prolific
discomfort. Like the princess who wondered why the people having no
bread did not eat cake, he could never clearly understand why the
population remained there, did not migrate to more attractive
surroundings. He had discussed the problems of those wildernesses as
young men do, rather confidently, very ignorantly, had dismissed them,
recurred to them, and forgotten them amidst a press of other interests,
but now it all suddenly became real to him with the intensity of a
startling and intimate contact. He discovered this limitless, unknown,
greater London, this London of the majority, as if he had never thought
of it before. He went out to inspect favourable sites in regions whose
very names were unfamiliar to him, travelled on dirty little intraurban
railway lines to hitherto unimagined railway stations, found parks,
churches, workhouses, institutions, public-houses, canals, factories,
gas-works, warehouses, foundries and sidings, amidst a multitudinous
dinginess of mean houses, shabby back-yards, and ill-kept streets. There
seemed to be no limits to this thread-bare side of London, it went on
northward, eastward, and over the Thames southward, for mile after
mile--endlessly. The factories and so forth clustered in lines and banks
upon the means of communication, the homes stretched between, and
infinitude of parallelograms of grimy boxes with public-houses at the
corners and churches and chapels in odd places, towering over which rose
the council schools, big, blunt, truncated-looking masses, the means to
an education as blunt and truncated, born of tradition and confused
purposes, achieving by accident what they achieve at all.

And about this sordid-looking wilderness went a population that seemed
at first as sordid. It was in no sense a tragic population. But it saw
little of the sun, felt the wind but rarely, and so had a white, dull
skin that looked degenerate and ominous to a West-end eye. It was not
naked nor barefooted, but it wore cheap clothes that were tawdry when
new, and speedily became faded, discoloured, dusty, and draggled. It was
slovenly and almost wilfully ugly in its speech and gestures. And the
food it ate was rough and coarse if abundant, the eggs it consumed
"tasted"--everything "tasted"; its milk, its beer, its bread was
degraded by base adulterations, its meat was hacked red stuff that hung
in the dusty air until it was sold; east of the city Trafford could find
no place where by his standards he could get a tolerable meal tolerably
served. The entertainment of this eastern London was jingle, its
religion clap-trap, its reading feeble and sensational rubbish without
kindliness or breadth. And if this great industrial multitude was
neither tortured nor driven nor cruelly treated--as the slaves and
common people of other days have been--yet it was universally anxious,
perpetually anxious about urgent small necessities and petty
dissatisfying things....

That was the general effect of this new region in which he had sought
out and found the fortunate site for his manufacture of rubber, and
against this background it was that he had now to encounter a crowd of
selected individuals, and weld them into a harmonious and successful
"process." They came out from their millions to him, dingy, clumsy, and
at first it seemed without any individuality. Insensibly they took on
character, rounded off by unaccustomed methods into persons as marked
and distinctive as any he had known.

There was Dowd, for instance, the technical assistant, whom he came to
call in his private thoughts Dowd the Disinherited. Dowd had seemed a
rather awkward, potentially insubordinate young man of unaccountably
extensive and curiously limited attainments. He had begun his career in
a crowded home behind and above a baker's shop in Hoxton, he had gone as
a boy into the works of a Clerkenwell electric engineer, and there he
had developed that craving for knowledge which is so common in poor men
of the energetic type. He had gone to classes, read with a sort of
fury, feeding his mind on the cheap and adulterated instruction of
grant-earning crammers and on stale, meretricious and ill-chosen books;
his mental food indeed was the exact parallel of the rough, abundant,
cheap and nasty groceries and meat that gave the East-ender his spots
and dyspeptic complexion, the cheap text-books were like canned meat and
dangerous with intellectual ptomaines, the rascally encyclopædias like
weak and whitened bread, and Dowd's mental complexion, too, was leaden
and spotted. Yet essentially he wasn't, Trafford found, by any means bad
stuff; where his knowledge had had a chance of touching reality it
became admirable, and he was full of energy in his work and a sort of
honest zeal about the things of the mind. The two men grew from an acute
mutual criticism into a mutual respect.

At first it seemed to Trafford that when he met Dowd he was only meeting
Dowd, but a time came when it seemed to him that in meeting Dowd he was
meeting all that vast new England outside the range of ruling-class
dreams, that multitudinous greater England, cheaply treated, rather out
of health, angry, energetic and now becoming intelligent and critical,
that England which organized industrialism has created. There were
nights when he thought for hours about Dowd. Other figures grouped
themselves round him--Markham, the head clerk, the quintessence of
East-end respectability, who saw to the packing; Miss Peckover, an
ex-telegraph operator, a woman so entirely reliable and unobservant that
the most betraying phase of the secret process could be confidently
entrusted to her hands. Behind them were clerks, workmen, motor-van men,
work-girls, a crowd of wage-earners, from amidst which some individual
would assume temporary importance and interest by doing something
wrong, getting into trouble, becoming insubordinate, and having
contributed a little vivid story to Trafford's gathering impressions of
life, drop back again into undistinguished subordination.

Dowd became at last entirely representative.

When first Trafford looked Dowd in the eye, he met something of the
hostile interest one might encounter in a swordsman ready to begin a
duel. There was a watchfulness, an immense reserve. They discussed the
work and the terms of their relationship, and all the while Trafford
felt there was something almost threateningly not mentioned.

Presently he learnt from a Silvertown employer what that concealed
aspect was. Dowd was "that sort of man who makes trouble," disposed to
strike rather than not upon a grievance, with a taste for open-air
meetings, a member, obstinately adherent in spite of friendly
remonstrance, of the Social Democratic Party. This in spite of his clear
duty to a wife and two small white knobby children. For a time he would
not talk to Trafford of anything but business--Trafford was so
manifestly the enemy, not to be trusted, the adventurous plutocrat, the
exploiter--when at last Dowd did open out he did so defiantly, throwing
opinions at Trafford as a mob might hurl bricks at windows. At last they
achieved a sort of friendship and understanding, an amiability as it
were, in hostility, but never from first to last would he talk to
Trafford as one gentleman to another; between them, and crossed only by
flimsy, temporary bridges, was his sense of incurable grievances and
fundamental injustice. He seemed incapable of forgetting the
disadvantages of his birth and upbringing, the inferiority and disorder
of the house that sheltered him, the poor food that nourished him, the
deadened air he breathed, the limited leisure, the inadequate books.
Implicit in his every word and act was the assurance that but for this
handicap he could have filled Trafford's place, while Trafford would
certainly have failed in his.

For all these things Dowd made Trafford responsible; he held him to that
inexorably.

"_You_ sweat us," he said, speaking between his teeth; "_you_ limit us,
_you_ stifle us, and away there in the West-end, _you_ and the women you
keep waste the plunder."

Trafford attempted palliation. "After all," he said, "it's not me so
particularly----"

"But it is," said Dowd.

"It's the system things go upon."

"You're the responsible part of it. _You_ have freedom, _you_ have power
and endless opportunity--"

Trafford shrugged his shoulders.

"It's because your sort wants too much," said Dowd, "that my sort hasn't
enough."

"Tell me how to organize things better."

"Much you'd care. They'll organize themselves. Everything is drifting to
class separation, the growing discontent, the growing hardship of the
masses.... Then you'll see."

"Then what's going to happen?"

"Overthrow. And social democracy."

"How is that going to work?"

Dowd had been cornered by that before. "I don't care if it _doesn't_
work," he snarled, "so long as we smash up this. We're getting too sick
to care what comes after."

"Dowd," said Trafford abruptly, "_I'm_ not so satisfied with things."

Dowd looked at him askance. "You'll get reconciled to it," he said. "It's
ugly here--but it's all right there--at the spending end.... Your sort
has got to grab, your sort has got to spend--until the thing works out
and the social revolution makes an end of you."

"And then?"

Dowd became busy with his work.

Trafford stuck his hands in his pockets and stared out of the dingy
factory window.

"I don't object so much to your diagnosis," he said, "as to your remedy.
It doesn't strike me as a remedy."

"It's an end," said Dowd, "anyhow. My God! When I think of all the women
and shirkers flaunting and frittering away there in the West, while here
men and women toil and worry and starve...." He stopped short like one
who feels too full for controlled speech.

"Dowd," said Trafford after a fair pause, "What would you do if you were
me?"

"Do?" said Dowd.

"Yes," said Trafford as one who reconsiders it, "what would you do?"

"Now that's a curious question, Mr. Trafford," said Dowd, turning to
regard him. "Meaning--if I were in your place?"

"Yes," said Trafford. "What would you do in my place?"

"I should sell out of this place jolly quick," he said.

"_Sell!_" said Trafford softly.

"Yes--sell. And start a socialist daily right off. An absolutely
independent, unbiassed socialist daily."

"And what would that do?"

"It would stir people up. Every day it would stir people up."

"But you see I can't edit. I haven't the money for half a year of a
socialist daily.... And meanwhile people want rubber."

Dowd shook his head. "You mean that you and your wife want to have the
spending of six or eight thousand a year," he said.

"I don't make half of that," said Trafford.

"Well--half of that," pressed Dowd. "It's all the same to me."

Trafford reflected. "The point where I don't agree with you," he said,
"is in supposing that my scale of living--over there, is directly
connected with the scale of living--about here."

"Well, isn't it?"

"'Directly,' I said. No. If we just stopped it--over there--there'd be
no improvement here. In fact, for a time it would mean dislocations. It
might mean permanent, hopeless, catastrophic dislocation. You know that
as well as I do. Suppose the West-end became--Tolstoyan; the East would
become chaos."

"Not much likelihood," sneered Dowd.

"That's another question. That we earn together here and that I spend
alone over there, it's unjust and bad, but it isn't a thing that admits
of any simple remedy. Where we differ, Dowd, is about that remedy. I
admit the disease as fully as you do. I, as much as you, want to see the
dawn of a great change in the ways of human living. But I don't think
the diagnosis is complete and satisfactory; our problem is an intricate
muddle of disorders, not one simple disorder, and I don't see what
treatment is indicated."

"Socialism," said Dowd, "is indicated."

"You might as well say that health is indicated," said Trafford with a
note of impatience in his voice. "Does any one question that if we
could have this socialist state in which every one is devoted and every
one is free, in which there is no waste and no want, and beauty and
brotherhood prevail universally, we wouldn't? But----. You socialists
have no scheme of government, no scheme of economic organization, no
intelligible guarantees of personal liberty, no method of progress, no
ideas about marriage, no plan--except those little pickpocket plans of
the Fabians that you despise as much as I do--for making this order into
that other order you've never yet taken the trouble to work out even in
principle. Really you know, Dowd, what is the good of pointing at my
wife's dresses and waving the red flag at me, and talking of human
miseries----"

"It seems to wake you up a bit," said Dowd with characteristic
irrelevance.


§ 2

The accusing finger of Dowd followed Trafford into his dreams.

Behind it was his grey-toned, intelligent, resentful face, his
smouldering eyes, his slightly frayed collar and vivid, ill-chosen tie.
At times Trafford could almost hear his flat insistent voice, his
measured h-less speech. Dowd was so penetratingly right,--and so
ignorant of certain essentials, so wrong in his forecasts and ultimates.
It was true beyond disputing that Trafford as compared with Dowd had
opportunity, power of a sort, the prospect and possibility of leisure.
He admitted the liability that followed on that advantage. It expressed
so entirely the spirit of his training that with Trafford the noble
maxim of the older socialists; "from each according to his ability, to
each according to his need," received an intuitive acquiescence. He had
no more doubt than Dowd that Dowd was the victim of a subtle evasive
injustice, innocently and helplessly underbred, underfed, cramped and
crippled, and that all his own surplus made him in a sense Dowd's
debtor.

But Dowd's remedies!

Trafford made himself familiar with the socialist and labor newspapers,
and he was as much impressed by their honest resentments and their
enthusiastic hopefulness as he was repelled by their haste and
ignorance, their cocksure confidence in untried reforms and impudent
teachers, their indiscriminating progressiveness, their impulsive lapses
into hatred, misrepresentation and vehement personal abuse. He was in no
mood for the humours of human character, and he found the ill-masked
feuds and jealousies of the leaders, the sham statecraft of G. B.
Magdeberg, M.P., the sham Machiavellism of Dorvil, the sham persistent
good-heartedness of Will Pipes, discouraging and irritating. Altogether
it seemed to him the conscious popular movement in politics, both in and
out of Parliament, was a mere formless and indeterminate aspiration. It
was a confused part of the general confusion, symptomatic perhaps, but
exercising no controls and no direction.

His attention passed from the consideration of this completely
revolutionary party to the general field of social reform. With the
naïve directness of a scientific man, he got together the published
literature of half a dozen flourishing agitations and philanthropies,
interviewed prominent and rather embarrassed personages, attended
meetings, and when he found the speeches too tiresome to follow watched
the audience about him. He even looked up Aunt Plessington's Movement,
and filled her with wild hopes and premature boastings about a
promising convert. "Marjorie's brought him round at last!" said Aunt
Plessington. "I knew I could trust my little Madge!" His impression was
not the cynic's impression of these wide shallows of activity. Progress
and social reform are not, he saw, mere cloaks of hypocrisy; a wealth of
good intention lies behind them in spite of their manifest futility.
There is much dishonesty due to the blundering desire for consistency in
people of hasty intention, much artless and a little calculated
self-seeking, but far more vanity and amiable feebleness of mind in
their general attainment of failure. The Plessingtons struck him as
being after all very typical of the publicist at large, quite devoted,
very industrious, extremely presumptuous and essentially thin-witted.
They would cheat like ill-bred children for example, on some petty point
of reputation, but they could be trusted to expend, ineffectually
indeed, but with the extremest technical integrity, whatever sums of
money their adherents could get together....

He emerged from this inquiry into the proposed remedies and palliatives
for Dowd's wrongs with a better opinion of people's hearts and a worse
one of their heads than he had hitherto entertained.

Pursuing this line of thought he passed from the politicians and
practical workers to the economists and sociologists. He spent the
entire leisure of the second summer after the establishment of the
factory upon sociological and economic literature. At the end of that
bout of reading he attained a vivid realization of the garrulous badness
that rules in this field of work, and the prevailing slovenliness and
negligence in regard to it. He chanced one day to look up the article on
Socialism in the new Encyclopædia Britannica, and found in its entire
failure to state the case for or against modern Socialism, to trace its
origins, or to indicate any rational development in the movement, a
symptom of the universal laxity of interest in these matters. Indeed,
the writer did not appear to have heard of modern Socialism at all; he
discussed collective and individualist methods very much as a rather
ill-read schoolgirl in a hurry for her college debating society might
have done. Compared with the treatment of engineering or biological
science in the same compilation, this article became almost symbolical
of the prevailing habitual incompetence with which all this system of
questions is still handled. The sciences were done scantily and
carelessly enough, but they admitted at any rate the possibility of
completeness; this did not even pretend to thoroughness.

One might think such things had no practical significance. And at the
back of it all was Dowd, remarkably more impatient each year, confessing
the failure of parliamentary methods, of trades unionism, hinting more
and more plainly at the advent of a permanent guerilla war against
capital, at the general strike and sabotage.

"It's coming to that," said Dowd; "it's coming to that."

"_What's the good of it?_" he said, echoing Trafford's words. "It's a
sort of relief to the feelings. Why shouldn't we?"


§ 3

But you must not suppose that at any time these huge grey problems of
our social foundations and the riddle of intellectual confusion one
reaches through them, and the yet broader riddles of human purpose that
open beyond, constitute the whole of Trafford's life during this time.
When he came back to Marjorie and his home, a curtain of unreality fell
between him and all these things. It was as if he stepped through such
boundaries as Alice passed to reach her Wonderland; the other world
became a dream again; as if he closed the pages of a vivid book and
turned to things about him. Or again it was as if he drew down the blind
of a window that gave upon a landscape, grave, darkling, ominous, and
faced the warm realities of a brightly illuminated room....

In a year or so he had the works so smoothly organized and Dowd so
reconciled, trained and encouraged that his own daily presence was
unnecessary, and he would go only three and then only two mornings a
week to conduct those secret phases in the preparation of his catalytic
that even Dowd could not be trusted to know. He reverted more and more
completely to his own proper world.

And the first shock of discovering that greater London which "isn't in
it" passed away by imperceptible degrees. Things that had been as vivid
and startling as new wounds became unstimulating and ineffective with
repetition. He got used to the change from Belgravia to East Ham, from
East Ham to Belgravia. He fell in with the unusual persuasion in
Belgravia, that, given a firm and prompt Home Secretary, East Ham could
be trusted to go on--for quite a long time anyhow. One cannot sit down
for all one's life in the face of insoluble problems. He had a motor-car
now that far outshone Magnet's, and he made the transit from west to
east in the minimum of time and with the minimum of friction. It ceased
to be more disconcerting that he should have workers whom he could
dismiss at a week's notice to want or prostitution than that he should
have a servant waiting behind his chair. Things were so. The main
current of his life--and the main current of his life flowed through
Marjorie and his home--carried him on. Rubber was his, but there were
still limitless worlds to conquer. He began to take up, working under
circumstances of considerable secrecy at Solomonson's laboratories at
Riplings, to which he would now go by motor-car for two or three days at
a time, the possibility of a cheap, resilient and very tough substance,
rubber glass, that was to be, Solomonson was assured, the road surface
of the future.


§ 4

The confidence of Solomonson had made it impossible for Trafford to
alter his style of living almost directly upon the conclusion of their
agreement. He went back to Marjorie to broach a financially emancipated
phase. They took a furnished house at Shackleford, near Godalming in
Surrey, and there they lived for nearly a year--using their Chelsea home
only as a town apartment for Trafford when business held him in London.
And there it was, in the pretty Surrey country, with the sweet air of
pine and heather in Marjorie's blood, that their second child was born.
It was a sturdy little boy, whose only danger in life seemed to be the
superfluous energy with which he resented its slightest disrespect of
his small but important requirements.

When it was time for Marjorie to return to London, spring had come round
again, and Trafford's conceptions of life were adapting themselves to
the new scale upon which they were now to do things. While he was busy
creating his factory in the East End, Marjorie was displaying an equal
if a less original constructive energy in Sussex Square, near Lancaster
Gate, for there it was the new home was to be established. She set
herself to furnish and arrange it so as to produce the maximum of
surprise and chagrin in Daphne, and she succeeded admirably. The Magnets
now occupied a flat in Whitehall Court, the furniture Magnet had
insisted upon buying himself with all the occult cunning of the humorist
in these matters, and not even Daphne could blind herself to the
superiority both in arrangement and detail of Marjorie's home. That was
very satisfactory, and so too was the inevitable exaggeration of
Trafford's financial importance. "He can do what he likes in the rubber
world," said Marjorie. "In Mincing Lane, where they deal in rubber
shares, they used to call him and Sir Rupert the invaders; now they call
them the Conquering Heroes.... Of course, it's mere child's play to
Godwin, but, as he said, 'We want money.' It won't really interfere with
his more important interests...."

I do not know why both those sisters were more vulgarly competitive with
each other than with any one else; I have merely to record the fact that
they were so.

The effect upon the rest of Marjorie's family was equally gratifying.
Mr. Pope came to the house-warming as though he had never had the
slightest objection to Trafford's antecedents, and told him casually
after dinner that Marjorie had always been his favourite daughter, and
that from the first he had expected great things of her. He told Magnet,
who was the third man of the party, that he only hoped Syd and Rom would
do as well as their elder sisters. Afterwards, in the drawing-room, he
whacked Marjorie suddenly and very startlingly on the shoulder-blade--it
was the first bruise he had given her since Buryhamstreet days. "You've
made a man of him, Maggots," he said.

The quiet smile of the Christian Scientist was becoming now the fixed
expression of Mrs. Pope's face, and it scarcely relaxed for a moment as
she surveyed her daughter's splendours. She had triumphantly refused to
worry over a rather serious speculative disappointment, but her faith in
her prophet's spiritual power had been strengthened rather than weakened
by the manifest insufficiency of his financial prestidigitations, and
she was getting through life quite radiantly now, smiling at (but not,
of course, giving way to) beggars, smiling at toothaches and headaches,
both her own and other people's, smiling away doubts, smiling away
everything that bows the spirit of those who are still in the bonds of
the flesh....

Afterwards the children came round, Syd and Rom now with skirts down and
hair up, and rather stiff in the fine big rooms, and Theodore in a high
collar and very anxious to get Trafford on his side in his ambition to
chuck a proposed bank clerkship and go in for professional aviation....

It was pleasant to be respected by her family again, but the mind of
Marjorie was soon reaching out to the more novel possibilities of her
changed position. She need no longer confine herself to teas and
afternoons. She could now, delightful thought! give dinners. Dinners are
mere vulgarities for the vulgar, but in the measure of your brains does
a dinner become a work of art. There is the happy blending of a modern
and distinguished simplicity with a choice of items essentially good and
delightful and just a little bit not what was expected. There is the
still more interesting and difficult blending and arrangement of the
diners. From the first Marjorie resolved on a round table, and the
achievement of that rare and wonderful thing, general conversation. She
had a clear centre, with a circle of silver bowls filled with short cut
flowers and low shaded, old silver candlesticks adapted to the electric
light. The first dinner was a nervous experience for her, but happily
Trafford seemed unconscious of the importance of the occasion and talked
very easily and well; at last she attained her old ambition to see Sir
Roderick Dover in her house, and there was Remington, the editor of the
_Blue Weekly_ and his silent gracious wife; Edward Crampton, the
historian, full of surprising new facts about Kosciusko; the Solomonsons
and Mrs. Millingham, and Mary Gasthorne the novelist. It was a good
talking lot. Remington sparred agreeably with the old Toryism of Dover,
flank attacks upon them both were delivered by Mrs. Millingham and
Trafford, Crampton instanced Hungarian parallels, and was happily
averted by Mary Gasthorne with travel experiences in the Carpathians;
the diamonds of Lady Solomonson and Mrs. Remington flashed and winked
across the shining table, as their wearers listened with unmistakable
intelligence, and when the ladies had gone upstairs Sir Rupert
Solomonson told all the men exactly what he thought of the policy of the
_Blue Weekly_, a balanced, common-sense judgment. Upstairs Lady
Solomonson betrayed a passion of admiration for Mrs. Remington, and Mrs.
Millingham mumbled depreciation of the same lady's intelligence in Mary
Gasthorne's unwilling ear. "She's _passive_," said Mrs. Millingham. "She
bores him...."

For a time Marjorie found dinner-giving delightful--it is like picking
and arranging posies of human flowers--and fruits--and perhaps a little
dried grass, and it was not long before she learnt that she was esteemed
a success as a hostess. She gathered her earlier bunches in the Carmel
and Solomonson circle, with a stiffening from among the literary and
scientific friends of Trafford and his mother, and one or two casual and
undervalued blossoms from Aunt Plessington's active promiscuities. She
had soon a gaily flowering garden of her own to pick from. Its strength
and finest display lay in its increasing proportion of political
intellectuals, men in and about the House who relaxed their minds from
the tense detailed alertness needed in political intrigues by
conversation that rose at times to the level of the smarter sort of
article in the half-crown reviews. The women were more difficult than
the men, and Marjorie found herself wishing at times that girl novelists
and playwrights were more abundant, or women writers on the average
younger. These talked generally well, and one or two capable women of
her own type talked and listened with an effect of talking; so many
other women either chattered disturbingly, or else did not listen, with
an effect of not talking at all, and so made gaps about the table. Many
of these latter had to be asked because they belonged to the class of
inevitable wives, _sine-qua-nons_, and through them she learnt the value
of that priceless variety of kindly unselfish men who can create the
illusion of attentive conversation in the most uncomfortable and
suspicious natures without producing backwater and eddy in the general
flow of talk.

Indisputably Marjorie's dinners were successful. Of course, the
abundance and æsthetic achievements of Mrs. Lee still seemed to her
immeasurably out of reach, but it was already possible to show Aunt
Plessington how the thing ought really to be done, Aunt Plessington with
her narrow, lank, austerely served table, with a sort of quarter-deck at
her own end and a subjugated forecastle round Hubert. And accordingly
the Plessingtons were invited and shown, and to a party, too, that
restrained Aunt Plessington from her usual conversational prominence....

These opening years of Trafford's commercial phase were full of an
engaging activity for Marjorie as for him, and for her far more
completely than for him were the profounder solicitudes of life lost
sight of in the bright succession of immediate events.

Marjorie did not let her social development interfere with her duty to
society in the larger sense. Two years after the vigorous and resentful
Godwin came a second son, and a year and a half later a third. "That's
enough," said Marjorie, "now we've got to rear them." The nursery at
Sussex Square had always been a show part of the house, but it became
her crowning achievement. She had never forgotten the Lee display at
Vevey, the shining splendours of modern maternity, the books, the
apparatus, the space and light and air. The whole second floor was
altered to accommodate these four triumphant beings, who absorbed the
services of two nurses, a Swiss nursery governess and two
housemaids--not to mention those several hundred obscure individuals who
were yielding a sustaining profit in the East End. At any rate, they
were very handsome and promising children, and little Margharita could
talk three languages with a childish fluency, and invent and write a
short fable in either French or German--with only as much misspelling as
any child of eight may be permitted....

Then there sprang up a competition between Marjorie and the able, pretty
wife of Halford Wallace, most promising of under-secretaries. They gave
dinners against each other, they discovered young artists against each
other, they went to first-nights and dressed against each other.
Marjorie was ruddy and tall, Mrs. Halford Wallace dark and animated;
Halford Wallace admired Marjorie, Trafford was insensible to Mrs.
Halford Wallace. They played for points so vague that it was impossible
for any one to say which was winning, but none the less they played like
artists, for all they were worth....

Trafford's rapid prosperity and his implicit promise of still wider
activities and successes brought him innumerable acquaintances and many
friends. He joined two or three distinguished clubs, he derived an
uncertain interest from a series of week-end visits to ample,
good-mannered households, and for a time he found a distraction in
little flashes of travel to countries that caught at his imagination,
Morocco, Montenegro, Southern Russia.

I do not know whether Marjorie might not have been altogether happy
during this early Sussex Square period, if it had not been for an
unconquerable uncertainty about Trafford. But ever and again she became
vaguely apprehensive of some perplexing unreality in her position. She
had never had any such profundity of discontent as he experienced. It
was nothing clear, nothing that actually penetrated, distressing her. It
was at most an uneasiness. For him the whole fabric of life was, as it
were, torn and pieced by a provocative sense of depths unplumbed that
robbed it of all its satisfactions. For her these glimpses were as yet
rare, mere moments of doubt that passed again and left her active and
assured.


§ 5

It was only after they had been married six or seven years that Trafford
began to realize how widely his attitudes to Marjorie varied. He emerged
slowly from a naïve unconsciousness of his fluctuations,--a naïve
unconsciousness of inconsistency that for most men and women remains
throughout life. His ruling idea that she and he were friends, equals,
confederates, knowing everything about each other, co-operating in
everything, was very fixed and firm. But indeed that had become the
remotest rendering of their relationship. Their lives were lives of
intimate disengagement. They came nearest to fellowship in relation to
their children; there they shared an immense common pride. Beyond that
was a less confident appreciation of their common house and their joint
effect. And then they liked and loved each other tremendously. They
could play upon each other and please each other in a hundred different
ways, and they did so, quite consciously, observing each other with the
completest externality. She was still in many ways for him the bright
girl he had admired in the examination, still the mysterious dignified
transfiguration of that delightful creature on the tragically tender
verge of motherhood; these memories were of more power with him than the
present realities of her full-grown strength and capacity. He petted and
played with the girl still; he was still tender and solicitous for that
early woman. He admired and co-operated also with the capable, narrowly
ambitious, beautiful lady into which Marjorie had developed, but those
remoter experiences it was that gave the deeper emotions to their
relationship.

The conflict of aims that had at last brought Trafford from scientific
investigation into business, had left behind it a little scar of
hostility. He felt his sacrifice. He felt that he had given something
for her that she had had no right to exact, that he had gone beyond the
free mutualities of honest love and paid a price for her; he had
deflected the whole course of his life for her and he was entitled to
repayments. Unconsciously he had become a slightly jealous husband. He
resented inattentions and absences. He felt she ought to be with him and
orient all her proceedings towards him. He did not like other people to
show too marked an appreciation of her. She had a healthy love of
admiration, and in addition her social ambitions made it almost
inevitable that at times she should use her great personal charm to
secure and retain adherents. He was ashamed to betray the resentments
thus occasioned, and his silence widened the separation more than any
protest could have done....

For his own part he gave her no cause for a reciprocal jealousy. Other
women did not excite his imagination very greatly, and he had none of
the ready disposition to lapse to other comforters which is so frequent
a characteristic of the husband out of touch with his life's companion.
He was perhaps an exceptional man in his steadfast loyalty to his wife.
He had come to her as new to love as she had been. He had never in his
life taken that one decisive illicit step which changes all the aspects
of sexual life for a man even more than for a woman. Love for him was a
thing solemn, simple, and unspoilt. He perceived that it was not so for
most other men, but that did little to modify his own private attitude.
In his curious scrutiny of the people about him, he did not fail to note
the drift of adventures and infidelities that glimmers along beneath the
even surface of our social life. One or two of his intimate friends,
Solomonson was one of them, passed through "affairs." Once or twice
those dim proceedings splashed upward to the surface in an open scandal.
There came Remington's startling elopement with Isabel Rivers, the
writer, which took two brilliant and inspiring contemporaries suddenly
and distressingly out of Trafford's world. Trafford felt none of that
rage and forced and jealous contempt for the delinquents in these
matters which is common in the ill-regulated, virtuous mind. Indeed, he
was far more sympathetic with than hostile to the offenders. He had
brains and imagination to appreciate the grim pathos of a process that
begins as a hopeful quest, full of the suggestion of noble
possibilities, full of the craving for missed intensities of fellowship
and realization, that loiters involuntarily towards beauties and
delights, and ends at last too often after gratification of an appetite,
in artificially hideous exposures, and the pelting misrepresentations of
the timidly well-behaved vile. But the general effect of pitiful
evasions, of unavoidable meannesses, of draggled heroics and tortuously
insincere explanations confirmed him in his aversion from this
labyrinthine trouble of extraneous love....

But if Trafford was a faithful husband, he ceased to be a happy and
confident one. There grew up in him a vast hinterland of thoughts and
feelings, an accumulation of unspoken and largely of unformulated things
in which his wife had no share. And it was in that hinterland that his
essential self had its abiding place....

It came as a discovery; it remained for ever after a profoundly
disturbing perplexity that he had talked to Marjorie most carelessly,
easily and seriously, during their courtship and their honeymoon. He
remembered their early intercourse now as an immense happy freedom in
love. Then afterwards a curtain had fallen. That almost delirious sense
of escaping from oneself, of having at last found some one from whom
there need be no concealment, some one before whom one could stand
naked-souled and assured of love as one stands before one's God, faded
so that he scarce observed its passing, but only discovered at last
that it had gone. He misunderstood and met misunderstanding. He found he
could hurt her by the things he said, and be exquisitely hurt by her
failure to apprehend the spirit of some ill-expressed intention. And it
was so vitally important not to hurt, not to be hurt. At first he only
perceived that he reserved himself; then there came the intimation of
the question, was she also perhaps in such another hinterland as his,
keeping herself from him?

He had perceived the cessation of that first bright outbreak of
self-revelation, this relapse into the secrecies of individuality, quite
early in their married life. I have already told of his first efforts to
bridge their widening separation by walks and talks in the country, and
by the long pilgrimage among the Alps that had ended so unexpectedly at
Vevey. In the retrospect the years seemed punctuated with phases when
"we must talk" dominated their intercourse, and each time the impulse of
that recognized need passed away by insensible degrees again--with
nothing said.


§ 6

Marjorie cherished an obstinate hope that Trafford would take up
political questions and go into Parliament. It seemed to her that there
was something about him altogether graver and wider than most of the
active politicians she knew. She liked to think of those gravities
assuming a practical form, of Trafford very rapidly and easily coming
forward into a position of cardinal significance. It gave her general
expenditure a quality of concentration without involving any uncongenial
limitation to suppose it aimed at the preparation of a statesman's
circle whenever Trafford chose to adopt that assumption. Little men in
great positions came to her house and talked with opaque
self-confidence at her table; she measured them against her husband
while she played the admiring female disciple to their half-confidential
talk. She felt that he could take up these questions and measures that
they reduced to trite twaddle, open the wide relevancies behind them,
and make them magically significant, sweep away the encrusting
pettiness, the personalities and arbitrary prejudices. But why didn't he
begin to do it? She threw out hints he seemed blind towards, she
exercised miracles of patience while he ignored her baits. She came near
intrigue in her endeavor to entangle him in political affairs. For a
time it seemed to her that she was succeeding--I have already told of
his phase of inquiry and interest in socio-political work--and then he
relapsed into a scornful restlessness, and her hopes weakened again.

But he could not concentrate his mind, he could not think where to
begin. Day followed day, each with its attacks upon his intention, its
petty just claims, its attractive novelties of aspect. The telephone
bell rang, the letters flopped into the hall, Malcom the butler seemed
always at hand with some distracting oblong on his salver. Dowd was
developing ideas for a reconstructed organization of the factory,
Solomonson growing enthusiastic about rubber-glass, his house seemed
full of women, Marjorie had an engagement for him to keep or the
children were coming in to say good-night. To his irritated brain the
whole scheme of his life presented itself at last as a tissue of
interruptions which prevented his looking clearly at reality. More and
more definitely he realized he wanted to get away and think. His former
life of research became invested with an effect of immense dignity and
of a steadfast singleness of purpose....

But Trafford was following his own lights, upon his own lines. He was
returning to that faith in the supreme importance of thought and
knowledge, upon which he had turned his back when he left pure research
behind him. To that familiar end he came by an unfamiliar route, after
his long, unsatisfying examination of social reform movements and social
and political theories. Immaturity, haste and presumption vitiated all
that region, and it seemed to him less and less disputable that the only
escape for mankind from a continuing extravagant futility lay through
the attainment of a quite unprecedented starkness and thoroughness of
thinking about all these questions. This conception of a needed
Renascence obsessed him more and more, and the persuasion, deeply felt
if indistinctly apprehended, that somewhere in such an effort there was
a part for him to play....

Life is too great for us or too petty. It gives us no tolerable middle
way between baseness and greatness. We must die daily on the levels of
ignoble compromise or perish tragically among the precipices. On the one
hand is a life--unsatisfying and secure, a plane of dulled
gratifications, mean advantages, petty triumphs, adaptations,
acquiescences and submissions, and on the other a steep and terrible
climb, set with sharp stones and bramble thickets and the possibilities
of grotesque dislocations, and the snares of such temptation as comes
only to those whose minds have been quickened by high desire, and the
challenge of insoluble problems and the intimations of issues so complex
and great, demanding such a nobility of purpose, such a steadfastness,
alertness and openness of mind, that they fill the heart of man with
despair....

There were moods when Trafford would, as people say, pull himself
together, and struggle with his gnawing discontent. He would compare his
lot with that of other men, reproach himself for a monstrous greed and
ingratitude. He remonstrated with himself as one might remonstrate with
a pampered child refusing to be entertained by a whole handsome nursery
full of toys. Other men did their work in the world methodically and
decently, did their duty by their friends and belongings, were
manifestly patient through dullness, steadfastly cheerful, ready to meet
vexations with a humorous smile, and grateful for orderly pleasures. Was
he abnormal? Or was he in some unsuspected way unhealthy? Trafford
neglected no possible explanations. Did he want this great Renascence of
the human mind because he was suffering from some subtle form of
indigestion? He invoked, independently of each other, the aid of two
distinguished specialists. They both told him in exactly the same voice
and with exactly the same air of guineas well earned: "What you want,
Mr. Trafford, is a change."

Trafford brought his mind to bear upon the instances of contentment
about him. He developed an opinion that all men and many women were
potentially at least as restless as himself. A huge proportion of the
usage and education in modern life struck upon him now as being a
training in contentment. Or rather in keeping quiet and not upsetting
things. The serious and responsible life of an ordinary prosperous man
fulfilling the requirements of our social organization fatigues and
neither completely satisfies nor completely occupies. Still less does
the responsible part of the life of a woman of the prosperous classes
engage all her energies or hold her imagination. And there has grown up
a great informal organization of employments, games, ceremonies, social
routines, travel, to consume these surplus powers and excessive
cravings, which might otherwise change or shatter the whole order of
human living. He began to understand the forced preoccupation with
cricket and golf, the shooting, visiting, and so forth, to which the
young people of the economically free classes in the community are
trained. He discovered a theory for hobbies and specialized interests.
He began to see why people go to Scotland to get away from London, and
come to London to get away from Scotland, why they crowd to and fro
along the Riviera, swarm over Switzerland, shoot, yacht, hunt, and
maintain an immense apparatus of racing and motoring. Because so they
are able to remain reasonably contented with the world as it is. He
perceived, too, that a man who has missed or broken through the training
to this kind of life, does not again very readily subdue himself to the
security of these systematized distractions. His own upbringing had been
antipathetic to any such adaptations; his years of research had given
him the habit of naked intimacy with truth, filled him with a craving
for reality and the destructive acids of a relentless critical method.

He began to understand something of the psychology of vice, to
comprehend how small a part mere sensuality, how large a part the spirit
of adventure and the craving for illegality, may play, in the career of
those who are called evil livers. Mere animal impulses and curiosities
it had always seemed possible to him to control, but now he was
beginning to apprehend the power of that passion for escape, at any
cost, in any way, from the petty, weakly stimulating, competitive
motives of low-grade and law-abiding prosperity....

For a time Trafford made an earnest effort to adjust himself to the
position in which he found himself, and make a working compromise with
his disturbing forces. He tried to pick up the scientific preoccupation
of his earlier years. He made extensive schemes, to Solomonson's great
concern, whereby he might to a large extent disentangle himself from
business. He began to hunt out forgotten note-books and yellowing sheets
of memoranda. He found the resumption of research much more difficult
than he had ever supposed possible. He went so far as to plan a
laboratory, and to make some inquiries as to site and the cost of
building, to the great satisfaction not only of Marjorie but of his
mother. Old Mrs. Trafford had never expressed her concern at his
abandonment of molecular physics for money-making, but now in her
appreciation of his return to pure investigation she betrayed her sense
of his departure.

But in his heart he felt that this methodical establishment of virtue by
limitation would not suffice for him. He said no word of this scepticism
as it grew in his mind. Marjorie was still under the impression that he
was returning to research, and that she was free to contrive the steady
preparation for that happier day when he should assume his political
inheritance. And then presently a queer little dispute sprang up between
them. Suddenly, for the first time since he took to business, Trafford
found himself limiting her again. She was disposed, partly through the
natural growth of her circle and her setting and partly through a
movement on the part of Mrs. Halford Wallace, to move from Sussex Square
into a larger, more picturesquely built house in a more central
position. She particularly desired a good staircase. He met her
intimations of this development with a curious and unusual irritation.
The idea of moving bothered him. He felt that exaggerated annoyance
which is so often a concomitant of overwrought nerves. They had a
dispute that was almost a quarrel, and though Marjorie dropped the
matter for a time, he could feel she was still at work upon it.



CHAPTER THE SECOND

TRAFFORD DECIDES TO GO


§ 1

A haunting desire to go away into solitude grew upon Trafford very
steadily. He wanted intensely to think, and London and Marjorie would
not let him think. He wanted therefore to go away out of London and
Marjorie's world. He wanted, he felt, to go away alone and face God, and
clear things up in his mind. By imperceptible degrees this desire
anticipated its realization. His activities were affected more and more
by intimations of a determined crisis. One eventful day it seemed to him
that his mind passed quite suddenly from desire to resolve. He found
himself with a project, already broadly definite. Hitherto he hadn't
been at all clear where he could go. From the first almost he had felt
that this change he needed, the change by which he was to get out of the
thickets of work and perplexity and distraction that held him captive,
must be a physical as well as a mental removal; he must go somewhere,
still and isolated, where sustained detached thinking was possible....
His preference, if he had one, inclined him to some solitude among the
Himalaya Mountains. That came perhaps from Kim and the precedent of the
Hindoo's religious retreat from the world. But this retreat he
contemplated was a retreat that aimed at a return, a clarified and
strengthened resumption of the world. And then suddenly, as if he had
always intended it, Labrador flashed through his thoughts, like a
familiar name that had been for a time quite unaccountably forgotten.

The word "Labrador" drifted to him one day from an adjacent table as he
sat alone at lunch in the Liberal Union Club. Some bore was reciting the
substance of a lecture to a fellow-member. "Seems to be a remarkable
country," said the speaker. "Mineral wealth hardly glanced at, you know.
Furs and a few score Indians. And at our doors. Practically--at our
doors."

Trafford ceased to listen. His mind was taking up this idea of Labrador.
He wondered why he had not thought of Labrador before.

He had two or three streams of thought flowing in his mind, as a man who
muses alone is apt to do. Marjorie's desire to move had reappeared; a
particular group of houses between Berkeley Square and Park Lane had
taken hold of her fancy, she had urged the acquisition of one upon him
that morning, and this kept coming up into consciousness like a wrong
thread in a tapestry. Moreover, he was watching his fellow-members with
a critical rather than a friendly eye. A half-speculative, half-hostile
contemplation of his habitual associates was one of the queer aspects of
this period of unsettlement. They exasperated him by their massive
contentment with the surface of things. They came in one after another
patting their ties, or pulling at the lapels of their coats, and looked
about them for vacant places with a conscious ease of manner that
irritated his nerves. No doubt they were all more or less successful and
distinguished men, matter for conversation and food for anecdotes, but
why did they trouble to give themselves the air of it? They halted or
sat down by friends, enunciated vapid remarks in sonorous voices, and
opened conversations in trite phrases, about London architecture, about
the political situation or the morning's newspaper, conversations that
ought, he felt, to have been thrown away unopened, so stale and needless
they seemed to him. They were judges, lawyers of all sorts, bankers,
company promoters, railway managers, stockbrokers, pressmen,
politicians, men of leisure. He wondered if indeed they were as opaque
as they seemed, wondered with the helpless wonder of a man of
exceptional mental gifts whether any of them at any stage had had such
thoughts as his, had wanted as acutely as he did now to get right out of
the world. Did old Booch over there, for example, guzzling oysters, cry
at times upon the unknown God in the vast silences of the night? But
Booch, of course, was a member or something of the House of Laymen, and
very sound on the thirty-nine articles--a man who ate oysters like that
could swallow anything--and in the vast silences of the night he was
probably heavily and noisily asleep....

Blenkins, the gentlemanly colleague of Denton in the control of the _Old
Country Gazette_, appeared on his way to the pay-desk, gesticulating
amiably _en-route_ to any possible friend. Trafford returned his
salutation, and pulled himself together immediately after in fear that
he had scowled, for he hated to be churlish to any human being.
Blenkins, too, it might be, had sorrow and remorse and periods of
passionate self-distrust and self-examination; maybe Blenkins could weep
salt tears, as Blenkins no doubt under suitable sword-play would reveal
heart and viscera as quivering and oozy as any man's.

But to Trafford's jaundiced eyes just then, it seemed that if you
slashed Blenkins across he would probably cut like a cheese....

Now, in Labrador----....

So soon as Blenkins had cleared, Trafford followed him to the pay-desk,
and went on upstairs to the smoking-room, thinking of Labrador. Long
ago he had read the story of Wallace and Hubbard in that wilderness.

There was much to be said for a winter in Labrador. It was cold, it was
clear, infinitely lonely, with a keen edge of danger and hardship and
never a letter or a paper.

One could provision a hut and sit wrapped in fur, watching the Northern
Lights....

"I'm off to Labrador," said Trafford, and entered the smoking-room.

It was, after all, perfectly easy to go to Labrador. One had just to
go....

As he pinched the end of his cigar, he became aware of Blenkins, with a
gleam of golden glasses and a flapping white cuff, beckoning across the
room to him. With that probable scowl on his conscience Trafford was
moved to respond with an unreal warmth, and strolled across to Blenkins
and a group of three or four other people, including that vigorous young
politician, Weston Massinghay, and Hart, K.C., about the further
fireplace. "We were talking of you," said Blenkins. "Come and sit down
with us. Why don't you come into Parliament?"

"I've just arranged to go for some months to Labrador."

"Industrial development?" asked Blenkins, all alive.

"No. Holiday."

No Blenkins believes that sort of thing, but of course, if Trafford
chose to keep his own counsel----

"Well, come into Parliament as soon as you get back."

Trafford had had that old conversation before. He pretended
insensibility when Blenkins gestured to a vacant chair. "No," he said,
still standing, "we settled all that. And now I'm up to my neck
in--detail about Labrador. I shall be starting--before the month is
out."

Blenkins and Hart simulated interest. "It's immoral," said Blenkins,
"for a man of your standing to keep out of politics."

"It's more than immoral," said Hart; "it's American."

"Solomonson comes in to represent the firm," smiled Trafford, signalled
the waiter for coffee, and presently disentangled himself from their
company.

For Blenkins Trafford concealed an exquisite dislike and contempt; and
Blenkins had a considerable admiration for Trafford, based on extensive
misunderstandings. Blenkins admired Trafford because he was good-looking
and well-dressed, with a beautiful and successful wife, because he had
become reasonably rich very quickly and easily, was young and a Fellow
of the Royal Society with a reputation that echoed in Berlin, and very
perceptibly did not return Blenkins' admiration. All these things filled
Blenkins with a desire for Trafford's intimacy, and to become the
associate of the very promising political career that it seemed to him,
in spite of Trafford's repudiations, was the natural next step in a
deliberately and honourably planned life. He mistook Trafford's silences
and detachment for the marks of a strong, silent man, who was scheming
the immense, vulgar, distinguished-looking achievements that appeal to
the Blenkins mind. Blenkins was a sentimentally loyal party Liberal, and
as he said at times to Hart and Weston Massinghay: "If those other
fellows get hold of him----!"

Blenkins was the fine flower of Oxford Liberalism and the Tennysonian
days. He wanted to be like King Arthur and Sir Galahad, with the merest
touch of Launcelot, and to be perfectly upright and splendid and very,
very successful. He was a fair, tenoring sort of person with an
Arthurian moustache and a disposition to long frock coats. It had been
said of him that he didn't dress like a gentleman, but that he dressed
more like a gentleman than a gentleman ought to dress. It might have
been added that he didn't behave like a gentleman, but that he behaved
more like a gentleman than a gentleman ought to behave. He didn't think,
but he talked and he wrote more thoughtfully in his leaders, and in the
little dialogues he wrote in imitation of Sir Arthur Helps, than any
other person who didn't think could possibly do. He was an orthodox
Churchman, but very, very broad; he held all the doctrines, a
distinguished sort of thing to do in an age of doubt, but there was a
quality about them as he held them--as though they had been run over by
something rather heavy. It was a flattened and slightly obliterated
breadth--nothing was assertive, but nothing, under examination, proved
to be altogether gone. His profuse thoughtfulness was not confined to
his journalistic and literary work, it overflowed into Talks. He was a
man for Great Talks, interminable rambling floods of boyish observation,
emotional appreciation, and silly, sapient comment. He loved to discuss
"Who are the Best Talkers now Alive?" He had written an essay, _Talk in
the Past_. He boasted of week-ends when the Talk had gone on from the
moment of meeting in the train to the moment of parting at Euston, or
Paddington, or Waterloo; and one or two hostesses with embittered
memories could verify his boasting. He did his best to make the club a
Talking Club, and loved to summon men to a growing circle of chairs....

Trafford had been involved in Talks on one or two occasions, and now, as
he sat alone in the corridor and smoked and drank his coffee, he could
imagine the Talk he had escaped, the Talk that was going on in the
smoking room--the platitudes, the sagacities, the digressions, the
sudden revelation of deep, irrational convictions. He reflected upon the
various Talks at which he had assisted. His chief impression of them all
was of an intolerable fluidity. Never once had he known a Talk thicken
to adequate discussion; never had a new idea or a new view come to him
in a Talk. He wondered why Blenkins and his like talked at all.
Essentially they lived for pose, not for expression; they did not
greatly desire to discover, make, or be; they wanted to seem and
succeed. Talking perhaps was part of their pose of great intellectual
activity, and Blenkins was fortunate to have an easy, unforced running
of mind....

Over his cigar Trafford became profoundly philosophical about Talk. And
after the manner of those who become profoundly philosophical he spread
out the word beyond its original and proper intentions to all sorts of
kindred and parallel things. Blenkins and his miscellany of friends in
their circle of chairs were, after all, only a crude rendering of very
much of intellectual activity of mankind. Men talked so often as dogs
bark. Those Talkers never came to grips, fell away from topic to topic,
pretended depth and evaded the devastating horrors of sincerity.
Listening was a politeness amongst them that was presently rewarded with
utterance. Tremendously like dogs they were, in a dog-fancying
neighborhood on a summer week-day afternoon. Fluidity, excessive
abundance, inconsecutiveness; these were the things that made Talk
hateful to Trafford.

Wasn't most literature in the same class? Wasn't nearly all present
philosophical and sociological discussion in the world merely a Blenkins
circle on a colossal scale, with every one looming forward to get in a
deeply thoughtful word edgeways at the first opportunity? Imagine any
one in distress about his soul or about mankind, going to a professor of
economics or sociology or philosophy! He thought of the endless, big,
expensive, fruitless books, the windy expansions of industrious pedantry
that mocked the spirit of inquiry. The fields of physical and biological
science alone had been partially rescued from the floods of human
inconsecutiveness. There at least a man must, on the whole, join on to
the work of other men, stand a searching criticism, justify himself.
Philosophically this was an age of relaxed schoolmen. He thought of
Doctor Codger at Cambridge, bubbling away with his iridescent
Hegelianism like a salted snail; of Doctor Quiller at Oxford, ignoring
Bergson and fulminating a preposterous insular Pragmatism. Each
contradicted the other fundamentally upon matters of universal concern;
neither ever joined issue with the other. Why in the name of humanity
didn't some one take hold of those two excellent gentlemen, and bang
their busy heads together hard and frequently until they either
compromised or cracked?


§ 2

He forgot these rambling speculations as he came out into the spring
sunshine of Pall Mall, and halting for a moment on the topmost step,
regarded the tidy pavements, the rare dignified shops, the waiting
taxicabs, the pleasant, prosperous passers-by. His mind lapsed back to
the thought that he meant to leave all this and go to Labrador. His mind
went a step further, and reflected that he would not only go to
Labrador, but--it was highly probable--come back again.

And then?

Why, after all, should he go to Labrador at all? Why shouldn't he make a
supreme effort here?

Something entirely irrational within him told him with conclusive
emphasis that he had to go to Labrador....

He remembered there was this confounded business of the proposed house
in Mayfair to consider....


§ 3

It occurred to him that he would go a little out of his way, and look at
the new great laboratories at the Romeike College, of which his old
bottle-washer Durgan was, he knew, extravagantly proud. Romeike's widow
was dead now and her will executed, and her substance half turned
already to bricks and stone and glazed tiles and all those excesses of
space and appliance which the rich and authoritative imagine must needs
give us Science, however ill-selected and underpaid and slighted the
users of those opportunities may be. The architects had had great fun
with the bequest; a quarter of the site was devoted to a huge square
surrounded by dignified, if functionless, colonnades, and adorned with
those stone seats of honour which are always so chill and unsatisfactory
as resting places in our island climate. The Laboratories, except that
they were a little shaded by the colonnades, were everything a
laboratory should be; the benches were miracles of convenience, there
wasn't anything the industrious investigator might want, steam, high
pressures, electric power, that he couldn't get by pressing a button or
turning a switch, unless perhaps it was inspiring ideas. And the new
library at the end, with its greys and greens, its logarithmic
computators at every table, was a miracle of mental convenience.

Durgan showed his old professor the marvels.

"If he _chooses_ to do something here," said Durgan not too hopefully,
"a man can...."

"What's become of the little old room where we two used to work?" asked
Trafford.

"They'll turn 'em all out presently," said Durgan, "when this part is
ready, but just at present it's very much as you left it. There's been
precious little research done there since you went away--not what _I_
call research. Females chiefly--and boys. Playing at it. Making
themselves into D.Sc.'s by a baby research instead of a man's
examination. It's like broaching a thirty-two gallon cask full of Pap to
think of it. Lord, sir, the swill! Research! Counting and weighing
things! Professor Lake's all right, I suppose, but his work was mostly
mathematical; he didn't do much of it here. No, the old days ended, sir,
when you...."

He arrested himself, and obviously changed his words. "Got busy with
other things."

Trafford surveyed the place; it seemed to him to have shrunken a little
in the course of the three years that had intervened since he resigned
his position. On the wall at the back there still hung, fly-blown and a
little crumpled, an old table of constants he had made for his
elasticity researches. Lake had kept it there, for Lake was a man of
generous appreciations, and rather proud to follow in the footsteps of
an investigator of Trafford's subtlety and vigor. The old sink in the
corner where Trafford had once swilled his watch glasses and filled his
beakers had been replaced by one of a more modern construction, and the
combustion cupboard was unfamiliar, until Durgan pointed out that it had
been enlarged. The ground-glass window at the east end showed still the
marks of an explosion that had banished a clumsy student from this
sanctuary at the very beginning of Trafford's career.

"By Jove!" he said after a silence, "but I did some good work here."

"You did, sir," said Durgan.

"I wonder--I may take it up again presently."

"I doubt it, sir," said Durgan.

"Oh! But suppose I come back?"

"I don't think you would find yourself coming back, sir," said Durgan
after judicious consideration.

He adduced no shadow of a reason for his doubt, but some mysterious
quality in his words carried conviction to Trafford's mind. He knew that
he would never do anything worth doing in molecular physics again. He
knew it now conclusively for the first time.


§ 4

He found himself presently in Bond Street. The bright May day had
brought out great quantities of people, so that he had to come down from
altitudes of abstraction to pick his way among them.

He was struck by the prevailing interest and contentment in the faces he
passed. There was no sense of insecurity betrayed, no sense of the deeps
and mysteries upon which our being floats like a film. They looked
solid, they looked satisfied; surely never before in the history of the
world has there been so great a multitude of secure-feeling,
satisfied-looking, uninquiring people as there is to-day. All the tragic
great things of life seem stupendously remote from them; pain is rare,
death is out of sight, religion has shrunken to an inconsiderable,
comfortable, reassuring appendage of the daily life. And with the
bright small things of immediacy they are so active and alert. Never
before has the world seen such multitudes, and a day must come when it
will cease to see them for evermore.

As he shouldered his way through the throng before the Oxford Street
shop windows he appreciated a queer effect, almost as it were of
insanity, about all this rich and abundant and ultimately aimless life,
this tremendous spawning and proliferation of uneventful humanity. These
individual lives signified no doubt enormously to the individuals, but
did all the shining, reflecting, changing existence that went by like
bubbles in a stream, signify collectively anything more than the
leaping, glittering confusion of shoaling mackerel on a sunlit
afternoon? The pretty girl looking into the window schemed picturesque
achievements with lace and ribbon, the beggar at the curb was alert for
any sympathetic eye, the chauffeur on the waiting taxi-cab watched the
twopences ticking on with a quiet satisfaction; each followed a keenly
sought immediate end, but altogether? Where were they going altogether?
Until he knew that, where was the sanity of statecraft, the excuse of
any impersonal effort, the significance of anything beyond a life of
appetites and self-seeking instincts?

He found that perplexing suspicion of priggishness affecting him again.
Why couldn't he take the gift of life as it seemed these people took it?
Why was he continually lapsing into these sombre, dimly religious
questionings and doubts? Why after all should he concern himself with
these riddles of some collective and ultimate meaning in things? Was he
for all his ability and security so afraid of the accidents of life that
on that account he clung to this conception of a larger impersonal issue
which the world in general seemed to have abandoned so cheerfully? At
any rate he did cling to it--and his sense of it made the abounding
active life of this stirring, bristling thoroughfare an almost
unendurable perplexity....

By the Marble Arch a little crowd had gathered at the pavement edge. He
remarked other little knots towards Paddington, and then still others,
and inquiring, found the King was presently to pass. They promised
themselves the gratification of seeing the King go by. They would see a
carriage, they would see horses and coachmen, perhaps even they might
catch sight of a raised hat and a bowing figure. And this would be a
gratification to them, it would irradiate the day with a sense of
experiences, exceptional and precious. For that some of them had already
been standing about for two or three hours.

He thought of these waiting people for a time, and then he fell into a
speculation about the King. He wondered if the King ever lay awake at
three o'clock in the morning and faced the riddle of the eternities or
whether he did really take himself seriously and contentedly as being in
himself the vital function of the State, performed his ceremonies, went
hither and thither through a wilderness of gaping watchers, slept well
on it. Was the man satisfied? Was he satisfied with his empire as it was
and himself as he was, or did some vision, some high, ironical
intimation of the latent and lost possibilities of his empire and of the
world of Things Conceivable that lies beyond the poor tawdry splendours
of our present loyalties, ever dawn upon him?

Trafford's imagination conjured up a sleepless King Emperor agonizing
for humanity....

He turned to his right out of Lancaster Gate into Sussex Square, and
came to a stop at the pavement edge.

From across the road he surveyed the wide white front and portals of the
house that wasn't big enough for Marjorie.


§ 5

He let himself in with his latchkey.

Malcolm, his man, hovered at the foot of the staircase, and came forward
for his hat and gloves and stick.

"Mrs. Trafford in?" asked Trafford.

"She said she would be in by four, sir."

Trafford glanced at his watch and went slowly upstairs.

On the landing there had been a rearrangement of the furniture, and he
paused to survey it. The alterations had been made to accommodate a big
cloisonné jar, that now glowed a wonder of white and tinted whites and
luminous blues upon a dark, deep-shining stand. He noted now the curtain
of the window had been changed from something--surely it had been a
reddish curtain!--to a sharp clear blue with a black border, that
reflected upon and sustained and encouraged the jar tremendously. And
the wall behind--? Yes. Its deep brown was darkened to an absolute black
behind the jar, and shaded up between the lacquer cabinets on either
hand by insensible degrees to the general hue. It was wonderful,
perfectly harmonious, and so subtly planned that it seemed it all might
have grown, as flowers grow....

He entered the drawing-room and surveyed its long and handsome spaces.
Post-impressionism was over and gone; three long pictures by young
Rogerson and one of Redwood's gallant bronzes faced the tall windows
between the white marble fireplaces at either end. There were two lean
jars from India, a young boy's head from Florence, and in a great bowl
in the remotest corner a radiant mass of azaleas....

His mood of wondering at familiar things was still upon him. It came to
him as a thing absurd and incongruous that this should be his home. It
was all wonderfully arranged into one dignified harmony, but he felt now
that at a touch of social earthquake, with a mere momentary lapse
towards disorder, it would degenerate altogether into litter, lie heaped
together confessed the loot it was. He came to a stop opposite one of
the Rogersons, a stiffly self-conscious shop girl in her Sunday clothes,
a not unsuccessful emulation of Nicholson's wonderful Mrs. Stafford of
Paradise Row. Regarded as so much brown and grey and amber-gold, it was
coherent in Marjorie's design, but regarded as a work of art, as a piece
of expression, how madly irrelevant was its humour and implications to
that room and the purposes of that room! Rogerson wasn't perhaps trying
to say much, but at any rate he was trying to say something, and Redwood
too was asserting freedom and adventure, and the thought of that
Florentine of the bust, and the patient, careful Indian potter, and
every maker of all the little casual articles about him, produced an
effect of muffled, stifled assertions. Against this subdued and
disciplined background of muted, inarticulate cries,--cries for beauty,
for delight, for freedom, Marjorie and her world moved and rustled and
chattered and competed--wearing the skins of beasts, the love-plumage of
birds, the woven cocoon cases of little silkworms....

"Preposterous," he whispered.

He went to the window and stared out; turned about and regarded the
gracious variety of that long, well-lit room again, then strolled
thoughtfully upstairs. He reached the door of his study, and a sound of
voices from the schoolroom--it had recently been promoted from the rank
of day nursery to this level--caught his mood. He changed his mind,
crossed the landing, and was welcomed with shouts.

The rogues had been dressing up. Margharita, that child of the dreadful
dawn, was now a sturdy and domineering girl of eight, and she was
attired in a gilt paper mitre and her governess's white muslin blouse so
tied at the wrists as to suggest long sleeves, a broad crimson band
doing duty as a stole. She was Becket prepared for martyrdom at the foot
of the altar. Godwin, his eldest son, was a hot-tempered,
pretty-featured pleasantly self-conscious boy of nearly seven and very
happy now in a white dragoon's helmet and rude but effective brown paper
breastplate and greaves, as the party of assassin knights. A small
acolyte in what was in all human probably one of the governess's more
intimate linen garments assisted Becket, while the general congregation
of Canterbury was represented by Edward, aged two, and the governess,
disguised with a Union Jack tied over her head after the well-known
fashion of the middle ages. After the children had welcomed their father
and explained the bloody work in hand, they returned to it with solemn
earnestness, while Trafford surveyed the tragedy. Godwin slew with
admirable gusto, and I doubt if the actual Thomas of Canterbury showed
half the stately dignity of Margharita.

The scene finished, they went on to the penance of Henry the Second; and
there was a tremendous readjustment of costumes, with much consultation
and secrecy. Trafford's eyes went from his offspring to the long,
white-painted room, with its gay frieze of ships and gulls and its
rug-variegated cork carpet of plain brick red. Everywhere it showed his
wife's quick cleverness, the clean serviceable decorativeness of it
all, the pretty patterned window curtains, the writing desks, the little
library of books, the flowers and bulbs in glasses, the counting blocks
and bricks and jolly toys, the blackboard on which the children learnt
to draw in bold wide strokes, the big, well-chosen German colour prints
upon the walls. And the children did credit to their casket; they were
not only full of vitality but full of ideas, even Edward was already a
person of conversation. They were good stuff anyhow....

It was fine in a sense, Trafford thought, to have given up his own
motives and curiosities to afford this airy pleasantness of upbringing
for them, and then came a qualifying thought. Would they in their turn
for the sake of another generation have to give up fine occupations for
mean occupations, deep thoughts for shallow? Would the world get them in
turn? Would the girls be hustled and flattered into advantageous
marriages, that dinners and drawing-rooms might still prevail? Would the
boys, after this gracious beginning, presently have to swim submerged in
another generation of Blenkinses and their Talk, toil in arduous
self-seeking, observe, respect and manipulate shams, succeed or fail,
and succeeding, beget amidst hope and beautiful emotions yet another
generation doomed to insincerities and accommodations, and so die at
last--as he must die?...

He heard his wife's clear voice in the hall below, and went down to meet
her. She had gone into the drawing-room, and he followed her in and
through the folding doors to the hinder part of the room, where she
stood ready to open a small bureau. She turned at his approach, and
smiled a pleasant, habitual smile....

She was no longer the slim, quick-moving girl who had come out of the
world to him when he crawled from beneath the wreckage of Solomonson's
plane, no longer the half-barbaric young beauty who had been revealed to
him on the staircase of the Vevey villa. She was now a dignified,
self-possessed woman, controlling her house and her life with a skilful,
subtle appreciation of her every point and possibility. She was wearing
now a simple walking dress of brownish fawn colour, and her hat was
touched with a steely blue that made her blue eyes seem handsome and
hard, and toned her hair to a merely warm brown. She had, as it were,
subdued her fine colours into a sheath in order that she might presently
draw them again with more effect.

"Hullo, old man!" she said, "you home?"

He nodded. "The club bored me--and I couldn't work."

Her voice had something of a challenge and defiance in it. "I've been
looking at a house," she said. "Alice Carmel told me of it. It isn't in
Berkeley Square, but it's near it. It's rather good."

He met her eye. "That's--premature," he said.

"We can't go on living in this one."

"I won't go to another."

"But why?"

"I just won't."

"It isn't the money?"

"No," said Trafford, with sudden fierce resentment. "I've overtaken you
and beaten you there, Marjorie."

She stared at the harsh bitterness of his voice. She was about to speak
when the door opened, and Malcom ushered in Aunt Plessington and Uncle
Hubert. Husband and wife hung for a moment, and then realized their talk
was at an end....

Marjorie went forward to greet her aunt, careless now of all that once
stupendous Influence might think of her. She had long ceased to feel
even the triumph of victory in her big house, her costly, dignified
clothes, her assured and growing social importance. For five years Aunt
Plessington had not even ventured to advise; had once or twice admired.
All that business of Magnet was--even elaborately--forgotten....

Seven years of feverish self-assertion had left their mark upon both the
Plessingtons. She was leaner, more gauntly untidy, more aggressively
ill-dressed. She no longer dressed carelessly, she defied the world with
her clothes, waved her tattered and dingy banners in its face. Uncle
Hubert was no fatter, but in some queer way he had ceased to be thin.
Like so many people whose peripheries defy the manifest quaint purpose
of Providence, he was in a state of thwarted adiposity, and with all the
disconnectedness and weak irritability characteristic of his condition.
He had developed a number of nervous movements, chin-strokings,
cheek-scratchings, and incredulous pawings at his more salient features.

"Isn't it a lark?" began Aunt Plessington, with something like a note of
apprehension in her highpitched voice, and speaking almost from the
doorway, "we're making a call together. I and Hubert! It's an attack in
force."

Uncle Hubert goggled in the rear and stroked his chin, and tried to get
together a sort of facial expression.

The Traffords made welcoming noises, and Marjorie advanced to meet her
aunt.

"We want you to do something for us," said Aunt Plessington, taking two
hands with two hands....

In the intervening years the Movement had had ups and downs; it had had
a boom, which had ended abruptly in a complete loss of voice for Aunt
Plessington--she had tried to run it on a patent non-stimulating food,
and then it had entangled itself with a new cult of philanthropic
theosophy from which it had been extracted with difficulty and in a
damaged condition. It had never completely recovered from that unhappy
association. Latterly Aunt Plessington had lost her nerve, and she had
taken to making calls upon people with considerable and sometimes
embarrassing demand for support, urging them to join committees, take
chairs, stake reputations, speak and act as foils for her. If they
refused she lost her temper very openly and frankly, and became
industriously vindictive. She circulated scandals or created them. Her
old assurance had deserted her; the strangulated contralto was losing
its magic power, she felt, in this degenerating England it had ruled so
long. In the last year or so she had become extremely snappy with Uncle
Hubert. She ascribed much of the Movement's futility to the decline of
his administrative powers and the increasing awkwardness of his
gestures, and she did her utmost to keep him up to the mark. Her only
method of keeping him up to the mark was to jerk the bit. She had now
come to compel Marjorie to address a meeting that was to inaugurate a
new phase in the Movement's history, and she wanted Marjorie because she
particularly wanted a daring, liberal, and spiritually amorous bishop,
who had once told her with a note of profound conviction that Marjorie
was a very beautiful woman. She was so intent upon her purpose that she
scarcely noticed Trafford. He slipped from the room unobserved under
cover of her playful preliminaries, and went to the untidy little
apartment overhead which served in that house as his study. He sat down
at the big desk, pushed his methodically arranged papers back, and
drummed on the edge with his fingers.

"I'm damned if we have that bigger house," said Trafford.


§ 6

He felt he wanted to confirm and establish this new resolution, to go
right away to Labrador for a year. He wanted to tell someone the thing
definitely. He would have gone downstairs again to Marjorie, but she was
submerged and swimming desperately against the voluble rapids of Aunt
Plessington's purpose. It might be an hour before that attack withdrew.
Presently there would be other callers. He decided to have tea with his
mother and talk to her about this new break in the course of his life.

Except that her hair was now grey and her brown eyes by so much contrast
brighter, Mrs. Trafford's appearance had altered very little in the ten
years of her only son's marriage. Whatever fresh realizations of the
inevitably widening separation between parent and child these years had
brought her, she had kept to herself. She had watched her
daughter-in-law sometimes with sympathy, sometimes with perplexity,
always with a jealous resolve to let no shadow of jealousy fall between
them. Marjorie had been sweet and friendly to her, but after the first
outburst of enthusiastic affection, she had neither offered nor invited
confidences. Old Mrs. Trafford had talked of Marjorie to her son
guardedly, and had marked and respected a growing indisposition on his
part to discuss his wife. For a year or so after his marriage she had
ached at times with a sense of nearly intolerable loneliness, and then
the new interests she had found for herself had won their way against
this depression. The new insurrectionary movement of women that had
distinguished those years had attacked her by its emotion and repelled
her by its crudity, and she had resolved, quite in the spirit of the
man who had shaped her life, to make a systematic study of all the
contributory strands that met in this difficult tangle. She tried to
write, but she found that the poetic gift, the gift of the creative and
illuminating phrase which alone justifies writing, was denied to her,
and so she sought to make herself wise, to read and hear, and discuss
and think over these things, and perhaps at last inspire and encourage
writing in others.

Her circle of intimates grew, and she presently remarked with a curious
interest that while she had lost the confidences of her own son and his
wife, she was becoming the confidant of an increasing number of other
people. They came to her, she perceived, because she was receptive and
sympathetic and without a claim upon them or any interest to complicate
the freedoms of their speech with her. They came to her, because she did
not belong to them nor they to her. It is, indeed, the defect of all
formal and established relationship, that it embarrasses speech, and
taints each phase in intercourse with the flavour of diplomacy. One can
be far more easily outspoken to a casual stranger one may never see
again than to that inseparable other, who may misinterpret, who may
disapprove or misunderstand, and who will certainly in the measure of
that discord remember....

It became at last a matter of rejoicing to Mrs. Trafford that the ties
of the old instinctive tenderness between herself and her son, the
memories of pain and tears and the passionate conflict of childhood,
were growing so thin and lax and inconsiderable, that she could even
hope some day to talk to him again--almost as she talked to the young
men and young women who drifted out of the unknown to her and sat in
her little room and sought to express their perplexities and listened to
her advice....

It seemed to her that afternoon the wished-for day had come.

Trafford found her just returned from a walk in Kensington Gardens and
writing a note at her desk under the narrow sunlit window that looked
upon the High Street. "Finish your letter, little mother," he said, and
took possession of the hearthrug.

When she had sealed and addressed her letter, she turned her head and
found him looking at his father's portrait.

"Done?" he asked, becoming aware of her eyes.

She took her letter into the hall and returned to him, closing the door
behind her.

"I'm going away, little mother," he said with an unconvincing
off-handedness. "I'm going to take a holiday."

"Alone?"

"Yes. I want a change. I'm going off somewhere--untrodden ground as near
as one can get it nowadays--Labrador."

Their eyes met for a moment.

"Is it for long?"

"The best part of a year."

"I thought you were going on with your research work again."

"No." He paused. "I'm going to Labrador."

"Why?" she asked.

"I'm going to think."

She found nothing to say for a moment. "It's good," she remarked, "to
think." Then, lest she herself should seem to be thinking too
enormously, she rang the bell to order the tea that was already on its
way.

"It surprises a mother," she said, when the maid had come and gone,
"when her son surprises her."

"You see," he repeated, as though it explained everything, "I want to
think."

Then after a pause she asked some questions about Labrador; wasn't it
very cold, very desert, very dangerous and bitter, and he answered
informingly. How was he going to stay there? He would go up the country
with an expedition, build a hut and remain behind. Alone? Yes--thinking.
Her eyes rested on his face for a time. "It will be--lonely," she said
after a pause.

She saw him as a little still speck against immense backgrounds of snowy
wilderness.

The tea-things came before mother and son were back at essentials again.
Then she asked abruptly: "Why are you going away like this?"

"I'm tired of all this business and finance," he said after a pause.

"I thought you would be," she answered as deliberately.

"Yes. I've had enough of things. I want to get clear. And begin again
somehow."

She felt they both hung away from the essential aspect. Either he or she
must approach it. She decided that she would, that it was a less
difficult thing for her than for him.

"And Marjorie?" she asked.

He looked into his mother's eyes very quietly. "You see," he went on
deliberately disregarding her question, "I'm beached. I'm aground. I'm
spoilt now for the old researches--spoilt altogether. And I don't like
this life I'm leading. I detest it. While I was struggling it had a kind
of interest. There was an excitement in piling up the first twenty
thousand. But _now_--! It's empty, it's aimless, it's incessant...."

He paused. She turned to the tea-things, and lit the spirit lamp under
the kettle. It seemed a little difficult to do, and her hand trembled.
When she turned on him again it was with an effort.

"Does Marjorie like the life you are leading?" she asked, and pressed
her lips together tightly.

He spoke with a bitterness in his voice that astonished her. "Oh, _she_
likes it."

"Are you sure?"

He nodded.

"She won't like it without you."

"Oh, that's too much! It's her world. It's what she's done--what she's
made. She can have it; she can keep it. I've played my part and got it
for her. But now--now I'm free to go. I will go. She's got everything
else. I've done my half of the bargain. But my soul's my own. If I want
to go away and think, I will. Not even Marjorie shall stand in the way
of that."

She made no answer to this outburst for a couple of seconds. Then she
threw out, "Why shouldn't Marjorie think, too?"

He considered that for some moments. "She doesn't," he said, as though
the words came from the roots of his being.

"But you two----"

"We don't talk. It's astonishing--how we don't. We don't. We can't. We
try to, and we can't. And she goes her way, and now--I will go mine."

"And leave her?"

He nodded.

"In London?"

"With all the things she cares for."

"Except yourself."

"I'm only a means----"

She turned her quiet face to him. "You know," she said, "that isn't
true."...

"No," she repeated, to his silent contradiction.

"I've watched her," she went on. "You're _not_ a means. I'd have spoken
long ago if I had thought that. Haven't I watched? Haven't I lain awake
through long nights thinking about her and you, thinking over every
casual mood, every little sign--longing to help--helpless." ... She
struggled with herself, for she was weeping. "_It has come to this_,"
she said in a whisper, and choked back a flood of tears.

Trafford stood motionless, watching her. She became active. She moved
round the table. She looked at the kettle, moved the cups needlessly,
made tea, and stood waiting for a moment before she poured it out. "It's
so hard to talk to you," she said, "and about all this.... I care so
much. For her. And for you.... Words don't come, dear.... One says
stupid things."

She poured out the tea, and left the cups steaming, and came and stood
before him.

"You see," she said, "you're ill. You aren't just. You've come to an
end. You don't know where you are and what you want to do. Neither does
she, my dear. She's as aimless as you--and less able to help it. Ever so
much less able."

"But she doesn't show it. She goes on. She wants things and wants
things----"

"And you want to go away. It's the same thing. It's exactly the same
thing. It's dissatisfaction. Life leaves you empty and craving--leaves
you with nothing to do but little immediate things that turn to dust as
you do them. It's her trouble, just as it's your trouble."

"But she doesn't show it."

"Women don't. Not so much. Perhaps even she doesn't know it. Half the
women in our world don't know--and for a woman it's so much easier to go
on--so many little things."...

Trafford tried to grasp the intention of this. "Mother," he said, "I
mean to go away."

"But think of her!"

"I've thought. Now I've got to think of myself."

"You can't--without her."

"I will. It's what I'm resolved to do."

"Go right away?"

"Right away."

"And think?"

He nodded.

"Find out--what it all means, my boy?"

"Yes. So far as I'm concerned."

"And then----?"

"Come back, I suppose. I haven't thought."

"To her?"

He didn't answer. She went and stood beside him, leaning upon the
mantel. "Godwin," she said, "she'd only be further behind.... You've got
to take her with you."

He stood still and silent.

"You've got to think things out with her. If you don't----"

"I can't."

"Then you ought to go away with her----" She stopped.

"For good?" he asked.

"Yes."

They were both silent for a space. Then Mrs. Trafford gave her mind to
the tea that was cooling in the cups, and added milk and sugar. She
spoke again with the table between them.

"I've thought so much of these things," she said with the milk-jug in
her hand. "It's not only you two, but others. And all the movement about
us.... Marriage isn't what it was. It's become a different thing because
women have become human beings. Only----You know, Godwin, all these
things are so difficult to express. Woman's come out of being a slave,
and yet she isn't an equal.... We've had a sort of sham emancipation,
and we haven't yet come to the real one."

She put down the milk-jug on the tray with an air of grave deliberation.
"If you go away from her and make the most wonderful discoveries about
life and yourself, it's no good--unless she makes them too. It's no good
at all.... You can't live without her in the end, any more than she can
live without you. You may think you can, but I've watched you. You don't
want to go away from her, you want to go away from the world that's got
hold of her, from the dresses and parties and the competition and all
this complicated flatness we have to live in.... It wouldn't worry you a
bit, if it hadn't got hold of her. You don't want to get out of it for
your own sake. You _are_ out of it. You are as much out of it as any one
can be. Only she holds you in it, because she isn't out of it. Your
going away will do nothing. She'll still be in it--and still have her
hold on you.... You've got to take her away. Or else--if you go away--in
the end it will be just like a ship, Godwin, coming back to its
moorings."

She watched his thoughtful face for some moments, then arrested herself
just in time in the act of putting a second portion of sugar into each
of the cups. She handed her son his tea, and he took it mechanically.
"You're a wise little mother," he said. "I didn't see things in that
light.... I wonder if you're right."

"I know I am," she said.

"I've thought more and more,--it was Marjorie."

"It's the world."

"Women made the world. All the dress and display and competition."

Mrs. Trafford thought. "Sex made the world. Neither men nor women. But
the world has got hold of the women tighter than it has the men. They're
deeper in." She looked up into his face. "Take her with you," she said,
simply.

"She won't come," said Trafford, after considering it.

Mrs. Trafford reflected. "She'll come--if you make her," she said.

"She'll want to bring two housemaids."

"I don't think you know Marjorie as well as I do."

"But she can't----"

"She can. It's you--you'll want to take two housemaids for her. Even
you.... Men are not fair to women."

Trafford put his untasted tea upon the mantelshelf, and confronted his
mother with a question point blank. "Does Marjorie care for me?" he
asked.

"You're the sun of her world."

"But she goes her way."

"She's clever, she's full of life, full of activities, eager to make and
arrange and order; but there's nothing she is, nothing she makes, that
doesn't centre on you."

"But if she cared, she'd understand!"

"My dear, do _you_ understand?"

He stood musing. "I had everything clear," he said. "I saw my way to
Labrador...."

Her little clock pinged the hour. "Good God!" he said, "I'm to be at
dinner somewhere at seven. We're going to a first night. With the
Bernards, I think. Then I suppose we'll have a supper. Always life is
being slashed to tatters by these things. Always. One thinks in snatches
of fifty minutes. It's dementia...."


§ 7

They dined at the Loretto Restaurant with the Bernards and Richard
Hampden and Mrs. Godwin Capes, the dark-eyed, quiet-mannered wife of the
dramatist, a woman of impulsive speech and long silences, who had
subsided from an early romance (Capes had been divorced for her while
she was still a mere girl) into a markedly correct and exclusive mother
of daughters. Through the dinner Marjorie was watching Trafford and
noting the deep preoccupation of his manner. He talked a little to Mrs.
Bernard until it was time for Hampden to entertain her, then finding
Mrs. Capes was interested in Bernard, he lapsed into thought. Presently
Marjorie discovered his eyes scrutinizing herself.

She hoped the play would catch his mind, but the play seemed devised to
intensify his sense of the tawdry unreality of contemporary life.
Bernard filled the intervals with a conventional enthusiasm. Capes
didn't appear.

"He doesn't seem to care to see his things," his wife explained.

"It's so brilliant," said Bernard.

"He has to do it," said Mrs. Capes slowly, her sombre eyes estimating
the crowded stalls below. "It isn't what he cares to do."

The play was in fact an admirable piece of English stagecraft, and it
dealt exclusively with that unreal other world of beings the English
theatre has for its own purposes developed. Just as Greece through the
ages evolved and polished and perfected the idealized life of its
Homeric poems, so the British mind has evolved their Stage Land to
embody its more honourable dreams, full of heroic virtues, incredible
honour, genial worldliness, childish villainies, profound but amiable
waiters and domestics, pathetic shepherds and preposterous crimes.
Capes, needing an income, had mastered the habits and customs of this
imagined world as one learns a language; success endorsed his mastery;
he knew exactly how deeply to underline an irony and just when it is fit
and proper for a good man to call upon "God!" or cry out "Damn!" In this
play he had invented a situation in which a charming and sympathetic
lady had killed a gross and drunken husband in self-defence, almost but
not quite accidentally, and had then appealed to the prodigious hero for
assistance in the resulting complications. At a great cost of mental
suffering to himself he had told his First and Only Lie to shield her.
Then years after he had returned to England--the first act happened, of
course in India--to find her on the eve of marrying, without any of the
preliminary confidences common among human beings, an old school friend
of his. (In plays all Gentlemen have been at school together, and one
has been the other's fag.) The audience had to be interested in the
problem of what the prodigious hero was to do in this prodigious
situation. Should he maintain a colossal silence, continue his
shielding, and let his friend marry the murderess saved by his perjury,
or----?... The dreadful quandary! Indeed, the absolute--inconvenience!

Marjorie watched Trafford in the corner of the box, as he listened
rather contemptuously to the statement of the evening's Problem and then
lapsed again into a brooding quiet. She wished she understood his moods
better. She felt there was more in this than a mere resentment at her
persistence about the new house....

Why didn't he go on with things?...

This darkling mood of his had only become manifest to her during the
last three or four years of their life. Previously, of course, he had
been irritable at times.

Were they less happy now than they had been in the little house in
Chelsea? It had really been a horrible little house. And yet there had
been a brightness then--a nearness....

She found her mind wandering away upon a sort of stock-taking
expedition. How much of real happiness had she and Trafford had
together? They ought by every standard to be so happy....

She declined the Bernard's invitation to a chafing-dish supper, and
began to talk so soon as she and Trafford had settled into the car.

"Rag," she said, "something's the matter?"

"Well--yes."

"The house?"

"Yes--the house."

Marjorie considered through a little interval.

"Old man, why are you so prejudiced against a bigger house?"

"Oh, because the one we have bores me, and the next one will bore me
more."

"But try it."

"I don't want to."

"Well," she said and lapsed into silence.

"And then," he asked, "what are we going to do?"

"Going to do--when?"

"After the new house----"

"I'm going to open out," she said.

He made no answer.

"I want to open out. I want you to take your place in the world, the
place you deserve."

"A four-footman place?"

"Oh! the house is only a means."

He thought upon that. "A means," he asked, "to what? Look here,
Marjorie, what do you think you are up to with me and yourself? What do
you see me doing--in the years ahead?"

She gave him a silent and thoughtful profile for a second or so.

"At first I suppose you are going on with your researches."

"Well?"

"Then----I must tell you what I think of you, Rag. Politics----"

"Good Lord!"

"You've a sort of power. You could make things noble."

"And then? Office?"

"Why not? Look at the little men they are."

"And then perhaps a still bigger house?"

"You're not fair to me."

He pulled up the bearskin over his knees.

"Marjorie!" he said. "You see----We aren't going to do any of those
things at all.... _No!_..."

"I can't go on with my researches," he explained. "That's what you don't
understand. I'm not able to get back to work. I shall never do any good
research again. That's the real trouble, Marjorie, and it makes all the
difference. As for politics----I can't touch politics. I despise
politics. I think this empire and the monarchy and Lords and Commons and
patriotism and social reform and all the rest of it, silly, _silly_
beyond words; temporary, accidental, foolish, a mere stop-gap--like a
gipsey's roundabout in a place where one will presently build a
house.... You don't help make the house by riding on the roundabout....
There's no clear knowledge--no clear purpose.... Only research
matters--and expression perhaps--I suppose expression is a sort of
research--until we get that--that sufficient knowledge. And you see, I
can't take up my work again. I've lost something...."

She waited.

"I've got into this stupid struggle for winning money," he went on, "and
I feel like a woman must feel who's made a success of prostitution. I've
been prostituted. I feel like some one fallen and diseased.... Business
and prostitution; they're the same thing. All business is a sort of
prostitution, all prostitution is a sort of business. Why should one
sell one's brains any more than one sells one's body?... It's so easy to
succeed if one has good brains and cares to do it, and doesn't let one's
attention or imagination wander--and it's so degrading. Hopelessly
degrading.... I'm sick of this life, Marjorie. _I_ don't want to buy
things. I'm sick of buying. I'm at an end. I'm clean at an end. It's
exactly as though suddenly in walking through a great house one came on
a passage that ended abruptly in a door, which opened--on nothing!
Nothing!"

"This is a mood," she whispered to his pause.

"It isn't a mood, it's a fact.... I've got nothing ahead, and I don't
know how to get back. My life's no good to me any more. I've spent
myself."

She looked at him with dismayed eyes. "But," she said, "this _is_ a
mood."

"No," he said, "no mood, but conviction. I _know_...."

He started. The car had stopped at their house, and Malcolm was opening
the door of the car. They descended silently, and went upstairs in
silence.

He came into her room presently and sat down by her fireside. She had
gone to her dressing-table and unfastened a necklace; now with this
winking and glittering in her hand she came and stood beside him.

"Rag," she said, "I don't know what to say. This isn't so much of a
surprise.... I _felt_ that somehow life was disappointing you, that I
was disappointing you. I've felt it endless times, but more so lately. I
haven't perhaps dared to let myself know just how much.... But isn't it
what life is? Doesn't every wife disappoint her husband? We're none of
us inexhaustible. After all, we've had a good time; isn't it a little
ungrateful to forget?..."

"Look here, Rag," she said. "I don't know what to do. If I did know, I
would do it.... What are we to do?"

"Think," he suggested.

"We've got to live as well as think."

"It's the immense troublesome futility of--everything," he said.

"Well--let us cease to be futile. Let us _do_. You say there is no grip
for you in research, that you despise politics.... There's no end of
trouble and suffering. Cannot we do social work, social reform, change
the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves...."

"Who are we that we should tamper with the lives of others?"

"But one must do something."

He thought that over.

"No," he said "that's the universal blunder nowadays. One must do the
right thing. And we don't know the right thing, Marjorie. That's the
very heart of the trouble.... Does this life satisfy _you?_ If it did
would you always be so restless?..."

"But," she said, "think of the good things in life?"

"It's just the good, the exquisite things in life, that make me rebel
against this life we are leading. It's because I've seen the streaks of
gold that I know the rest for dirt. When I go cheating and scheming to
my office, and come back to find you squandering yourself upon a horde
of chattering, overdressed women, when I think that that is our
substance and everyday and what we are, then it is I remember most the
deep and beautiful things.... It is impossible, dear, it is intolerable
that life was made beautiful for us--just for these vulgarities."

"Isn't there----" She hesitated. "Love--still?"

"But----Has it been love? Love is a thing that grows. But we took it--as
people take flowers out of a garden, cut them off, put them in water....
How much of our daily life has been love? How much of it mere
consequences of the love we've left behind us?... We've just cohabited
and 'made love'--you and I--and thought of a thousand other things...."

He looked up at her. "Oh, I love a thousand things about you," he said.
"But do I love _you_, Marjorie? Have I got you? Haven't I lost
you--haven't we both lost something, the very heart of it all? Do you
think that we were just cheated by instinct, that there wasn't something
in it we felt and thought was there? And where is it now? Where is that
brightness and wonder, Marjorie, and the pride and the immense unlimited
hope?"

She was still for a moment, then knelt very swiftly before him and held
out her arms.

"Oh Rag!" she said, with a face of tender beauty. He took her finger
tips in his, dropped them and stood up above her.

"My dear," he cried, "my dear! why do you always want to turn love
into--touches?... Stand up again. Stand up there, my dear; don't think
I've ceased to love you, but stand up there and let me talk to you as
one man to another. If we let this occasion slide to embraces...."

He stopped short.

She crouched before the fire at his feet. "Go on," she said, "go on."

"I feel now that all our lives now, Marjorie----We have come to a
crisis. I feel that now----_now_ is the time. Either we shall save
ourselves now or we shall never save ourselves. It is as if something
had gathered and accumulated and could wait no longer. If we do not
seize this opportunity----Then our lives will go on as they have gone
on, will become more and more a matter of small excitements and
elaborate comforts and distraction...."

He stopped this halting speech and then broke out again.

"Oh! why _should_ the life of every day conquer us? Why should
generation after generation of men have these fine beginnings, these
splendid dreams of youth, attempt so much, achieve so much and then,
then become--_this!_ Look at this room, this litter of little
satisfactions! Look at your pretty books there, a hundred minds you have
pecked at, bright things of the spirit that attracted you as jewels
attract a jackdaw. Look at the glass and silver, and that silk from
China! And we are in the full tide of our years, Marjorie. Now is the
very crown and best of our lives. And this is what we do, we sample, we
accumulate. For this we loved, for this we hoped. Do you remember when
we were young--that life seemed so splendid--it was intolerable we
should ever die?... The splendid dream! The intimations of greatness!...
The miserable failure!"

He raised clenched fists. "I won't stand it, Marjorie. I won't endure
it. Somehow, in some way, I will get out of this life--and you with me.
I have been brooding upon this and brooding, but now I know...."

"But how?" asked Marjorie, with her bare arms about her knees, staring
into the fire. "_How?_"

"We must get out of its constant interruptions, its incessant vivid,
petty appeals...."

"We might go away--to Switzerland."

"We _went_ to Switzerland. Didn't we agree--it was our second honeymoon.
It isn't a honeymoon we need. No, we'll have to go further than that."

A sudden light broke upon Marjorie's mind. She realized he had a plan.
She lifted a fire-lit face to him and looked at him with steady eyes and
asked----

"Where?"

"Ever so much further."

"Where?"

"I don't know."

"You do. You've planned something."

"I don't know, Marjorie. At least--I haven't made up my mind. Where it
is very lonely. Cold and remote. Away from all this----" His mind
stopped short, and he ended with a cry: "Oh! God! how I want to get out
of all this!"

He sat down in her arm-chair, and bowed his face on his hands.

Then abruptly he stood up and went out of the room.


§ 8

When in five minutes' time he came back into her room she was still upon
her hearthrug before the fire, with her necklace in her hand, the red
reflections of the flames glowing and winking in her jewels and in her
eyes. He came and sat again in her chair.

"I have been ranting," he said. "I feel I've been--eloquent. You make me
feel like an actor-manager, in a play by Capes.... You are the most
difficult person for me to talk to in all the world--because you mean so
much to me."

She moved impulsively and checked herself and crouched away from him. "I
mustn't touch your hand," she whispered.

"I want to explain."

"You've got to explain."

"I've got quite a definite plan.... But a sort of terror seized me. It
was like--shyness."

"I know. I knew you had a plan."

"You see.... I mean to go to Labrador."

He leant forward with his elbows on his knees and his hands extended,
explanatory. He wanted intensely that she should understand and agree
and his desire made him clumsy, now slow and awkward, now glibly and
unsatisfyingly eloquent. But she comprehended his quality better than he
knew. They were to go away to Labrador, this snowy desert of which she
had scarcely heard, to camp in the very heart of the wilderness, two
hundred miles or more from any human habitation----

"But how long?" she asked abruptly.

"The better part of a year."

"And we are to talk?"

"Yes," he said, "talk and think ourselves together--oh!--the old phrases
carry it all--find God...."

"It is what I dreamt of, Rag, years ago."

"Will you come," he cried, "out of all this?"

She leant across the hearthrug, and seized and kissed his hand....

Then, with one of those swift changes of hers, she was in revolt. "But,
Rag," she exclaimed, "this is dreaming. We are not free. There are the
children! Rag! We cannot leave the children!"

"We can," he said. "We must."

"But, my dear!--our duty!"

"_Is_ it a mother's duty always to keep with her children? They will be
looked after, their lives are organized, there is my mother close at
hand.... What is the good of having children at all--unless their world
is to be better than our world?... What are we doing to save them from
the same bathos as this--to which we have come? We give them food and
health and pictures and lessons, that's all very well while they are
just little children; but we've got no religion to give them, no aim, no
sense of a general purpose. What is the good of bread and health--and no
worship?... What can we say to them when they ask us why we brought them
into the world?--_We_ happened--_you_ happened. What are we to tell them
when they demand the purpose of all this training, all these lessons?
When they ask what we are preparing them for? Just that _you_, too, may
have children! Is that any answer? Marjorie, it's common-sense to try
this over--to make this last supreme effort--just as it will be
common-sense to separate if we can't get the puzzle solved together."

"Separate!"

"Separate. Why not? We can afford it. Of course, we shall separate."

"But Rag!--separate!"

He faced her protest squarely. "Life is not worth living," he said,
"unless it has more to hold it together than ours has now. If we cannot
escape together, then--_I will go alone_."...


§ 9

They parted that night resolved to go to Labrador together, with the
broad outline of their subsequent journey already drawn. Each lay awake
far into the small hours thinking of this purpose and of one another,
with a strange sense of renewed association. Each woke to a morning of
sunshine heavy-eyed. Each found that overnight decision remote and
incredible. It was like something in a book or a play that had moved
them very deeply. They came down to breakfast, and helped themselves
after the wonted fashion of several years, Marjorie with a skilful eye
to the large order of her household; the _Times_ had one or two
characteristic letters which interested them both; there was the usual
picturesque irruption of the children and a distribution of early
strawberries among them. Trafford had two notes in his correspondence
which threw a new light upon the reconstruction of the Norton-Batsford
company in which he was interested; he formed a definite conclusion upon
the situation, and went quite normally to his study and the telephone to
act upon that.

It was only as the morning wore on that it became real to him that he
and Marjorie had decided to leave the world. Then, with the
Norton-Batsford business settled, he sat at his desk and mused. His
apathy passed. His imagination began to present first one picture and
then another of his retreat. He walked along Oxford Street to his Club
thinking--"soon we shall be out of all this." By the time he was at
lunch in his Club, Labrador had become again the magic refuge it had
seemed the day before. After lunch he went to work in the library,
finding out books about Labrador, and looking up the details of the
journey.

But his sense of futility and hopeless oppression had vanished. He
walked along the corridor and down the great staircase, and without a
trace of the despairful hostility of the previous day, passed Blenkins,
talking grey bosh with infinite thoughtfulness. He nodded easily to
Blenkins. He was going out of it all, as a man might do who discovers
after years of weary incarceration that the walls of his cell are made
of thin paper. The time when Blenkins seemed part of a prison-house of
routine and invincible stupidity seemed ten ages ago.

In Pall Mall Trafford remarked Lady Grampians and the Countess of
Claridge, two women of great influence, in a big green car, on the way
no doubt to create or sustain or destroy; and it seemed to him that it
was limitless ages since these poor old dears with their ridiculous hats
and their ridiculous airs, their luncheons and dinners and dirty
aggressive old minds, had sent tidal waves of competitive anxiety into
his home....

He found himself jostling through the shopping crowd on the sunny side
of Regent Street. He felt now that he looked over the swarming,
preoccupied heads at distant things. He and Marjorie were going out of
it all, going clean out of it all. They were going to escape from
society and shopping, and petty engagements and incessant triviality--as
a bird flies up out of weeds.


§ 10

But Marjorie fluctuated more than he did.

There were times when the expedition for which he was now preparing
rapidly and methodically seemed to her the most adventurously-beautiful
thing that had ever come to her, and times when it seemed the maddest
and most hopeless of eccentricities. There were times when she had
devastating premonitions of filth, hunger, strain and fatigue, damp and
cold, when her whole being recoiled from the project, when she could
even think of staying secure in London and letting him go alone. She
developed complicated anxieties for the children; she found reasons for
further inquiries, for delay. "Why not," she suggested, "wait a year?"

"No," he said, "I won't. I mean we are to do this, and do it now, and
nothing but sheer physical inability to do it will prevent my carrying
it out.... And you? Of course you are to come. I can't drag you
shrieking all the way to Labrador; short of that I'm going to _make_ you
come with me."

She sat and looked up at him with dark lights in her upturned eyes, and
a little added warmth in her cheek. "You've never forced my will like
this before," she said, in a low voice. "Never."

He was too intent upon his own resolve to heed her tones.

"It hasn't seemed necessary somehow," he said, considering her
statement. "Now it does."

"This is something final," she said.

"It is final."

She found an old familiar phrasing running through her head, as she sat
crouched together, looking up at his rather gaunt, very intent face, the
speech of another woman echoing to her across a vast space of years:
"Whither thou goest I will go----"

"In Labrador," he began....



CHAPTER THE THIRD

THE PILGRIMAGE TO LONELY HUT


§ 1

Marjorie was surprised to find how easy it was at last to part from her
children and go with Trafford.

"I am not sorry," she said, "not a bit sorry--but I am fearfully afraid.
I shall dream they are ill.... Apart from that, it's strange how you
grip me and they don't...."

In the train to Liverpool she watched Trafford with the queer feeling
which comes to all husbands and wives at times that that other partner
is indeed an undiscovered stranger, just beginning to show perplexing
traits,--full of inconceivable possibilities.

For some reason his tearing her up by the roots in this fashion had
fascinated her imagination. She felt a strange new wonder at him that
had in it just a pleasant faint flavour of fear. Always before she had
felt a curious aversion and contempt for those servile women who are
said to seek a master, to want to be mastered, to be eager even for the
physical subjugations of brute force. Now she could at least understand,
sympathize even with them. Not only Trafford surprised her but herself.
She found she was in an unwonted perplexing series of moods. All her
feelings struck her now as being incorrect as well as unexpected; not
only had life become suddenly full of novelty but she was making novel
responses. She felt that she ought to be resentful and tragically sorry
for her home and children. She felt this departure ought to have the
quality of an immense sacrifice, a desperate and heroic undertaking for
Trafford's sake. Instead she could detect little beyond an adventurous
exhilaration when presently she walked the deck of the steamer that was
to take her to St. John's. She had visited her cabin, seen her luggage
stowed away, and now she surveyed the Mersey and its shipping with a
renewed freshness of mind. She was reminded of the day, now nearly nine
years ago, when she had crossed the sea for the first time--to Italy.
Then, too, Trafford had seemed a being of infinitely wonderful
possibilities.... What were the children doing?--that ought to have been
her preoccupation. She didn't know; she didn't care! Trafford came and
stood beside her, pointed out this and that upon the landing stage, no
longer heavily sullen, but alert, interested, almost gay....

Neither of them could find any way to the great discussion they had set
out upon, in this voyage to St. John's. But there was plenty of time
before them. Plenty of time! They were both the prey of that uneasy
distraction which seems the inevitable quality of a passenger steamship.
They surveyed and criticized their fellow travellers, and prowled up and
down through the long swaying days and the cold dark nights. They slept
uneasily amidst fog-horn hootings and the startling sounds of waves
swirling against the ports. Marjorie had never had a long sea voyage
before; for the first time in her life she saw all the world, through a
succession of days, as a circle of endless blue waters, with the stars
and planets and sun and moon rising sharply from its rim. Until one has
had a voyage no one really understands that old Earth is a watery
globe.... They ran into thirty hours of storm, which subsided, and then
came a slow time among icebergs, and a hooting, dreary passage through
fog. The first three icebergs were marvels, the rest bores; a passing
collier out of her course and pitching heavily, a lonely black and dirty
ship with a manner almost derelict, filled their thoughts for half a
day. Their minds were in a state of tedious inactivity, eager for such
small interests and only capable of such small interests. There was no
hurry to talk, they agreed, no hurry at all, until they were settled
away ahead there among the snows. "There we shall have plenty of time
for everything...."

Came the landfall and then St. John's, and they found themselves side by
side watching the town draw near. The thought of landing and
transference to another ship refreshed them both....

They were going, Trafford said, in search of God, but it was far more
like two children starting out upon a holiday.


§ 2

There was trouble and procrastination about the half-breed guides that
Trafford had arranged should meet them at St. John's, and it was three
weeks from their reaching Newfoundland before they got themselves and
their guides and equipment and general stores aboard the boat for Port
Dupré. Thence he had planned they should go in the Gibson schooner to
Manivikovik, the Marconi station at the mouth of the Green River, and
thence past the new pulp-mills up river to the wilderness. There were
delays and a few trivial, troublesome complications in carrying out this
scheme, but at last a day came when Trafford could wave good-bye to the
seven people and eleven dogs which constituted the population of Peter
Hammond's, that last rude outpost of civilization twenty miles above the
pulp-mill, and turn his face in good earnest towards the wilderness.

Neither he nor Marjorie looked back at the headland for a last glimpse
of the little settlement they were leaving. Each stared ahead over the
broad, smooth sweep of water, broken by one transverse bar of foaming
shallows, and scanned the low, tree-clad hills beyond that drew together
at last in the distant gorge out of which the river came. The morning
was warm and full of the promise of a hot noon, so that the veils they
wore against the assaults of sand-flies and mosquitoes were already a
little inconvenient. It seemed incredible in this morning glow that the
wooded slopes along the shore of the lake were the border of a land in
which nearly half the inhabitants die of starvation. The deep-laden
canoes swept almost noiselessly through the water with a rhythmic
alternation of rush and pause as the dripping paddles drove and
returned. Altogether there were four long canoes and five Indian breeds
in their party, and when they came to pass through shallows both
Marjorie and Trafford took a paddle.

They came to the throat of the gorge towards noon, and found strong
flowing deep water between its high purple cliffs. All hands had to
paddle again, and it was only when they came to rest in a pool to eat a
mid-day meal and afterwards to land upon a mossy corner for a stretch and
a smoke, that Marjorie discovered the peculiar beauty of the rock about
them. On the dull purplish-grey surfaces played the most extraordinary
mist of luminous iridescence. It fascinated her. Here was a land whose
common substance had this gemlike opalescence. But her attention was
very soon withdrawn from these glancing splendours.

She had had to put aside her veil to eat, and presently she felt the
vividly painful stabs of the black-fly and discovered blood upon her
face. A bigger fly, the size and something of the appearance of a small
wasp, with an evil buzz, also assailed her and Trafford. It was a bad
corner for flies; the breeds even were slapping their wrists and
swearing under the torment, and every one was glad to embark and push on
up the winding gorge. It opened out for a time, and then the wooded
shores crept in again, and in another half-hour they saw ahead of them a
long rush of foaming waters among tumbled rocks that poured down from a
brimming, splashing line of light against the sky. They crossed the
river, ran the canoes into an eddy under the shelter of a big stone and
began to unload. They had reached their first portage.

The rest of the first day was spent in packing and lugging first the
cargoes and then the canoes up through thickets and over boulders and
across stretches of reindeer moss for the better part of two miles to a
camping ground about half-way up the rapids. Marjorie and Trafford tried
to help with the carrying, but this evidently shocked and distressed the
men too much, so they desisted and set to work cutting wood and
gathering moss for the fires and bedding for the camp. When the iron
stove was brought up the man who had carried it showed them how to put
it up on stakes and start a fire in it, and then Trafford went to the
river to get water, and Marjorie made a kind of flour cake in the
frying-pan in the manner an American woman from the wilderness had once
shown her, and boiled water for tea. The twilight had deepened to night
while the men were still stumbling up the trail with the last two
canoes.

It gave Marjorie a curiously homeless feeling to stand there in the open
with the sunset dying away below the black scrubby outlines of the
treetops uphill to the northwest, and to realize the nearest roof was
already a day's toilsome journey away. The cool night breeze blew upon
her bare face and arms--for now the insects had ceased from troubling
and she had cast aside gloves and veil and turned up her sleeves to
cook--and the air was full of the tumult of the rapids tearing seaward
over the rocks below. Struggling through the bushes towards her was an
immense, headless quadruped with unsteady legs and hesitating paces, two
of the men carrying the last canoe. Two others were now assisting
Trafford to put up the little tent that was to shelter her, and the
fifth was kneeling beside her very solemnly and respectfully cutting
slices of bacon for her to fry. The air was very sweet, and she wished
she could sleep not in the tent but under the open sky.

It was queer, she thought, how much of the wrappings of civilization had
slipped from them already. Every day of the journey from London had
released them or deprived them--she hardly knew which--of a multitude of
petty comforts and easy accessibilities. The afternoon toil uphill
intensified the effect of having clambered up out of things--to this
loneliness, this twilight openness, this simplicity.

The men ate apart at a fire they made for themselves, and after Trafford
and Marjorie had supped on damper, bacon and tea, he smoked. They were
both too healthily tired to talk very much. There was no moon but a
frosty brilliance of stars, the air which had been hot and sultry at
mid-day grew keen and penetrating, and after she had made him tell her
the names of constellations she had forgotten, she suddenly perceived
the wisdom of the tent, went into it--it was sweet and wonderful with
sprigs of the Labrador tea-shrub--undressed, and had hardly rolled
herself up into a cocoon of blankets before she was fast asleep.

She was awakened by a blaze of sunshine pouring into the tent, a smell
of fried bacon and Trafford's voice telling her to get up. "They've gone
on with the first loads," he said. "Get up, wrap yourself in a blanket,
and come and bathe in the river. It's as cold as ice."

She blinked at him. "Aren't you stiff?" she asked.

"I was stiffer before I bathed," he said.

She took the tin he offered her. (They weren't to see china cups again
for a year.) "It's woman's work getting tea," she said as she drank.

"You can't be a squaw all at once," said Trafford.


§ 3

After Marjorie had taken her dip, dried roughly behind a bush, twisted
her hair into a pigtail and coiled it under her hat, she amused herself
and Trafford as they clambered up through rocks and willows to the tent
again by cataloguing her apparatus of bath and toilette at Sussex Square
and tracing just when and how she had parted from each item on the way
to this place.

"But I _say!_" she cried, with a sudden, sharp note of dismay, "we
haven't soap! This is our last cake almost. I never thought of soap."

"Nor I," said Trafford.

He spoke again presently. "We don't turn back for soap," he said.

"We don't turn back for anything," said Marjorie. "Still--I didn't count
on a soapless winter."

"I'll manage something," said Trafford, a little doubtfully. "Trust a
chemist...."

That day they finished the portage and came out upon a wide lake with
sloping shores and a distant view of snow-topped mountains, a lake so
shallow that at times their loaded canoes scraped on the glaciated rock
below and they had to alter their course. They camped in a lurid sunset;
the night was warm and mosquitoes were troublesome, and towards morning
came a thunderstorm and wind and rain.

The dawn broke upon a tearing race of waves and a wild drift of slanting
rain sweeping across the lake before a gale. Marjorie peered out at this
as one peers out under the edge of an umbrella. It was manifestly
impossible to go on, and they did nothing that day but run up a canvas
shelter for the men and shift the tent behind a thicket of trees out of
the full force of the wind. The men squatted stoically, and smoked and
yarned. Everything got coldly wet, and for the most part the Traffords
sat under the tent and stared blankly at this summer day in Labrador.

"Now," said Trafford, "we ought to begin talking."

"There's nothing much to do else," said Marjorie.

"Only one can't begin," said Trafford.

He was silent for a time. "We're getting out of things," he said....

The next day began with a fine drizzle through which the sun broke
suddenly about ten o'clock. They made a start at once, and got a good
dozen miles up the lake before it was necessary to camp again. Both
Marjorie and Trafford felt stiff and weary and uncomfortable all day,
and secretly a little doubtful now of their own endurance. They camped
on an island on turf amidst slippery rocks, and the next day were in a
foaming difficult river again, with glittering shallows that obliged
every one to get out at times to wade and push. All through the
afternoon they were greatly beset by flies. And so they worked their
way on through a third days' journey towards the silent inland of
Labrador.

Day followed day of toilsome and often tedious travel; they fought
rapids, they waited while the men stumbled up long portages under vast
loads, going and returning, they camped and discussed difficulties and
alternatives. The flies sustained an unrelenting persecution, until
faces were scarred in spite of veils and smoke fires, until wrists and
necks were swollen and the blood in a fever. As they got higher and
higher towards the central plateau, the mid-day heat increased and the
nights grew colder, until they would find themselves toiling, wet with
perspiration, over rocks that sheltered a fringe of ice beneath their
shadows. The first fatigues and lassitudes, the shrinking from cold
water, the ache of muscular effort, gave place to a tougher and tougher
endurance; skin seemed to have lost half its capacity for pain without
losing a tithe of its discrimination, muscles attained a steely
resilience; they were getting seasoned. "I don't feel philosophical,"
said Trafford, "but I feel well."

"We're getting out of things."

"Suppose we are getting out of our problems!..."

One day as they paddled across a mile-long pool, they saw three bears
prowling in single file high up on the hillside. "Look," said the man,
and pointed with his paddle at the big, soft, furry black shapes,
magnified and startling in the clear air. All the canoes rippled to a
stop, the men, at first still, whispered softly. One passed a gun to
Trafford, who hesitated and looked at Marjorie.

The air of tranquil assurance about these three huge loafing monsters
had a queer effect on Marjorie's mind. They made her feel that they were
at home and that she was an intruder. She had never in her life seen
any big wild animals except in a menagerie. She had developed a sort of
unconscious belief that all big wild animals were in menageries
nowadays, and this spectacle of beasts entirely at large startled her.
There was never a bar between these creatures, she felt, and her
sleeping self. They might, she thought, do any desperate thing to feeble
men and women who came their way.

"Shall I take a shot?" asked Trafford.

"No," said Marjorie, pervaded by the desire for mutual toleration. "Let
them be."

The big brutes disappeared in a gully, reappeared, came out against the
skyline one by one and vanished.

"Too long a shot," said Trafford, handing back the gun....

Their journey lasted altogether a month. Never once did they come upon
any human being save themselves, though in one place they passed the
poles--for the most part overthrown--of an old Indian encampment. But
this desolation was by no means lifeless. They saw great quantities of
waterbirds, geese, divers, Arctic partridge and the like, they became
familiar with the banshee cry of the loon. They lived very largely on
geese and partridge. Then for a time about a string of lakes, the
country was alive with migrating deer going south, and the men found
traces of a wolf. They killed six caribou, and stayed to skin and cut
them up and dry the meat to replace the bacon they had consumed, caught,
fried and ate great quantities of trout, and became accustomed to the
mysterious dance of the northern lights as the sunset afterglow faded.

Everywhere, except in the river gorges, the country displayed the low
hummocky lines and tarn-like pools of intensely glaciated land;
everywhere it was carpeted with reindeer moss growing upon peat and
variegated by bushes of flowering, sweet-smelling Labrador tea. In
places this was starred with little harebells and diversified by
tussocks of heather and rough grass, and over the rocks trailed delicate
dwarf shrubs and a very pretty and fragrant pink-flowered plant of which
neither she nor Trafford knew the name. There was an astonishing amount
of wild fruit, raspberries, cranberries, and a white kind of strawberry
that was very delightful. The weather, after its first outbreak,
remained brightly serene....

And at last it seemed fit to Trafford to halt and choose his winter
quarters. He chose a place on the side of a low, razor-hacked rocky
mountain ridge, about fifty feet above the river--which had now dwindled
to a thirty-foot stream. His site was near a tributary rivulet that gave
convenient water, in a kind of lap that sheltered between two rocky
knees, each bearing thickets of willow and balsam. Not a dozen miles
away from them now they reckoned was the Height of Land, the low
watershed between the waters that go to the Atlantic and those that go
to Hudson's Bay. Close beside the site he had chosen a shelf of rock ran
out and gave a glimpse up the narrow rocky valley of the Green River's
upper waters and a broad prospect of hill and tarn towards the
south-east. North and north-east of them the country rose to a line of
low crests, with here and there a yellowing patch of last year's snow,
and across the valley were slopes covered in places by woods of stunted
pine. It had an empty spaciousness of effect; the one continually living
thing seemed to be the Green River, hurrying headlong, noisily,
perpetually, in an eternal flight from this high desolation. Birds were
rare here, and the insects that buzzed and shrilled and tormented among
the rocks and willows in the gorge came but sparingly up the slopes to
them.

"Here presently," said Trafford, "we shall be in peace."

"It is very lonely," said Marjorie.

"The nearer to God."

"Think! Not one of these hills has ever had a name."

"Well?"

"It might be in some other planet."

"Oh!--we'll christen them. That shall be Marjorie Ridge, and that Rag
Valley. This space shall be--oh! Bayswater! Before we've done with it,
this place and every feature of it will be as familiar as Sussex Square.
More so,--for half the houses there would be stranger to us, if we could
see inside them, than anything in this wilderness.... As familiar,
say--as your drawing-room. That's better."

Marjorie made no answer, but her eyes went from the reindeer moss and
scrub and thickets of the foreground to the low rocky ridges that
bounded the view north and east of them. The scattered boulders, the
tangles of wood, the barren upper slopes, the dust-soiled survivals of
the winter's snowfall, all contributed to an effect at once carelessly
desert and hopelessly untidy. She looked westward, and her memory was
full of interminable streaming rapids, wastes of ice-striated rocks,
tiresome struggles through woods and wild, wide stretches of tundra and
tarn, trackless and treeless, infinitely desolate. It seemed to her that
the sea coast was but a step from London and ten thousand miles away
from her.


§ 4

The men had engaged to build the framework of hut and store shed before
returning, and to this under Trafford's direction they now set
themselves. They were all half-breeds, mingling with Indian with
Scottish or French blood, sober and experienced men. Three were named
Mackenzie, two brothers and a cousin, and another, Raymond Noyes, was a
relation and acquaintance of that George Elson who was with Wallace and
Leonidas Hubbard, and afterwards guided Mrs. Hubbard in her crossing of
Labrador. The fifth was a boy of eighteen named Lean. They were all
familiar with the idea of summer travel in this country; quite a number,
a score or so that is to say, of adventurous people, including three or
four women, had ventured far in the wake of the Hubbards into these
great wildernesses during the decade that followed that first tragic
experiment in which Hubbard died. But that any one not of Indian or
Esquimaux blood should propose to face out the Labrador winter was a new
thing to them. They were really very sceptical at the outset whether
these two highly civilized-looking people would ever get up to the
Height of Land at all, and it was still with manifest incredulity that
they set about the building of the hut and the construction of the
sleeping bunks for which they had brought up planking. A stream of
speculative talk had flowed along beside Marjorie and Trafford ever
since they had entered the Green River; and it didn't so much come to an
end as get cut off at last by the necessity of their departure.

Noyes would stand, holding a hammer and staring at the narrow little
berth he was fixing together.

"You'll not sleep in this," he said.

"I will," replied Marjorie.

"You'll come back with us."

"Not me."

"There'll be wolves come and howl."

"Let 'em."

"They'll come right up to the door here. Winter makes 'em hidjus bold."

Marjorie shrugged her shoulders.

"It's that cold I've known a man have his nose froze while he lay in
bed," said Noyes.

"Up here?"

"Down the coast. But they say it's 'most as cold up here. Many's the man
it's starved and froze."...

He and his companions told stories,--very circumstantial and pitiful
stories, of Indian disasters. They were all tales of weariness and
starvation, of the cessation of food, because the fishing gave out,
because the caribou did not migrate by the customary route, because the
man of a family group broke his wrist, and then of the start of all or
some of the party to the coast to get help and provisions, of the
straining, starving fugitives caught by blizzards, losing the track,
devouring small vermin raw, gnawing their own skin garments until they
toiled half-naked in the snow,--becoming cannibals, becoming delirious,
lying down to die. Once there was an epidemic of influenza, and three
families of seven and twenty people just gave up and starved and died in
their lodges, and were found, still partly frozen, a patient, pitiful
company, by trappers in the spring....

Such they said, were the common things that happened in a Labrador
winter. Did the Traffords wish to run such risks?

A sort of propagandist enthusiasm grew up in the men. They felt it
incumbent upon them to persuade the Traffords to return. They reasoned
with them rather as one does with wilful children. They tried to remind
them of the delights and securities of the world they were deserting.
Noyes drew fancy pictures of the pleasures of London by way of contrast
to the bitter days before them. "You've got everything there,
everything. Suppose you feel a bit ill, you go out, and every block
there's a drug store got everything--all the new rem'dies--p'raps
twenty, thirty sorts of rem'dy. Lit up, nice. And chaps in collars--like
gentlemen. Or you feel a bit dully and you go into the streets and
there's people. Why! when I was in New York I used to spend hours
looking at the people. Hours! And everything lit up, too. Sky signs!
Readin' everywhere. You can spend hours and hours in New York----"

"London," said Marjorie.

"Well, London--just going about and reading the things they stick up.
Every blamed sort of thing. Or you say, let's go somewhere. Let's go out
and be a bit lively. See? Up you get on a car and there you are! Great
big restaurants, blazing with lights, and you can't think of a thing to
eat they haven't got. Waiters all round you, dressed tremendous, fair
asking you to have more. Or you say, let's go to a theatre. Very
likely," said Noyes, letting his imagination soar, "you order up one of
these automobillies."

"By telephone," helped Trafford.

"By telephone," confirmed Noyes. "When I was in New York there was a
telephone in each room in the hotel. Each room. I didn't use it ever,
except once when they didn't answer--but there it was. I know about
telephones all right...."

Why had they come here? None of the men were clear about that. Marjorie
and Trafford would overhear them discussing this question at their fire
night after night; they seemed to talk of nothing else. They indulged in
the boldest hypotheses, even in the theory that Trafford knew of
deposits of diamonds and gold, and would trust no one but his wife with
the secret. They seemed also attracted by the idea that our two young
people had "done something." Lean, with memories of some tattered
sixpenny novel that had drifted into his hands from England, had even
some notion of an elopement, of a pursuing husband or a vindictive wife.
He was young and romantic, but it seemed incredible he should suggest
that Marjorie was a royal princess. Yet there were moments when his
manner betrayed a more than personal respect....

One night after a hard day's portage Mackenzie was inspired by a
brilliant idea. "They got no children," he said, in a hoarse,
exceptionally audible whisper. "It worries them. Them as is Catholics
goes pilgrimages, but these ain't Catholics. See?"

"I can't stand that," said Marjorie. "It touches my pride. I've stood a
good deal. Mr. Mackenzie!... Mr.... Mackenzie."

The voice at the men's fire stopped and a black head turned around.
"What is it, Mrs. Trafford?" asked Mackenzie.

She held up four fingers. "Four!" she said.

"Eh?"

"Three sons and a daughter," said Marjorie.

Mackenzie did not take it in until his younger brother had repeated her
words.

"And you've come from them to _this_.... Sir, what _have_ you come for?"

"We want to be here," shouted Trafford to their listening pause. Their
silence was incredulous.

"We wanted to be alone together. There was too much--over there--too
much everything."

Mackenzie, in silhouette against the fire, shook his head, entirely
dissatisfied. He could not understand how there could be too much of
anything. It was beyond a trapper's philosophy.

"Come back with us sir," said Noyes. "You'll weary of it...."

Noyes clung to the idea of dissuasion to the end. "I don't care to leave
ye," he said, and made a sort of byword of it that served when there was
nothing else to say.

He made it almost his last words. He turned back for another handclasp
as the others under their light returning packs were filing down the
hill.

"I don't care to leave ye," he said.

"Good luck!" said Trafford.

"You'll need it," said Noyes, and looked at Marjorie very gravely and
intently before he turned about and marched off after his fellows....

Both Marjorie and Trafford felt a queer emotion, a sense of loss and
desertion, a swelling in the throat, as that file of men receded over
the rocky slopes, went down into a dip, reappeared presently small and
remote cresting another spur, going on towards the little wood that hid
the head of the rapids. They halted for a moment on the edge of the wood
and looked back, then turned again one by one and melted stride by
stride into the trees. Noyes was the last to go. He stood, in an
attitude that spoke as plainly as words, "I don't care to leave ye."
Something white waved and flickered; he had whipped out the letters they
had given him for England, and he was waving them. Then, as if by an
effort, he set himself to follow the others, and the two still watchers
on the height above saw him no more.



CHAPTER THE FOURTH

LONELY HUT


§ 1

Marjorie and Trafford walked slowly back to the hut. "There is much to
do before the weather breaks," he said, ending a thoughtful silence.
"Then we can sit inside there and talk about the things we need to talk
about."

He added awkwardly: "Since we started, there has been so much to hold
the attention. I remember a mood--an immense despair. I feel it's still
somewhere at the back of things, waiting to be dealt with. It's our
essential fact. But meanwhile we've been busy, looking at fresh things."

He paused. "Now it will be different perhaps...."

For nearly four weeks indeed they were occupied very closely, and crept
into their bunks at night as tired as wholesome animals who drop to
sleep. At any time the weather might break; already there had been two
overcast days and a frowning conference of clouds in the north. When at
last storms began they knew there would be nothing for it but to keep in
the hut until the world froze up.

There was much to do to the hut. The absence of anything but stunted and
impoverished timber and the limitation of time, had forbidden a log hut,
and their home was really only a double framework, rammed tight between
inner and outer frame with a mixture of earth and boughs and twigs of
willow, pine and balsam. The floor was hammered earth carpeted with
balsam twigs and a caribou skin. Outside and within wall and roof were
faced with coarse canvas--that was Trafford's idea--and their bunks
occupied two sides of the hut. Heating was done by the sheet-iron stove
they had brought with them, and the smoke was carried out to the roof by
a thin sheet-iron pipe which had come up outside a roll of canvas. They
had made the roof with about the pitch of a Swiss châlet, and it was
covered with nailed waterproof canvas, held down by a large number of
big lumps of stone. Much of the canvassing still remained to do when the
men went down, and then the Traffords used every scrap of packing-paper
and newspaper that had come up with them and was not needed for lining
the bunks in covering any crack or join in the canvas wall.

Two decadent luxuries, a rubber bath and two rubber hot-water bottles,
hung behind the door. They were almost the only luxuries. Kettles and
pans and some provisions stood on a shelf over the stove; there was also
a sort of recess cupboard in the opposite corner, reserve clothes were
in canvas trunks under the bunks, they kept their immediate supply of
wood under the eaves just outside the door, and there was a big can of
water between stove and door. When the winter came they would have to
bring in ice from the stream.

This was their home. The tent that had sheltered Marjorie on the way up
was erected close to this hut to serve as a rude scullery and outhouse,
and they also made a long, roughly thatched roof with a canvas cover,
supported on stakes, to shelter the rest of the stores. The stuff in
tins and cases and jars they left on the ground under this; the
rest--the flour, candles, bacon, dried caribou beef, and so forth, they
hung, as they hoped, out of the reach of any prowling beast. And finally
and most important was the wood pile. This they accumulated to the
north and east of the hut, and all day long with a sort of ant-like
perseverance Trafford added to it from the thickets below. Once or
twice, however, tempted by the appearance of birds, he went shooting,
and one day he got five geese that they spent a day upon, plucking,
cleaning, boiling and putting up in all their store of empty cans,
letting the fat float and solidify on the top to preserve this addition
to their provision until the advent of the frost rendered all other
preservatives unnecessary. They also tried to catch trout down in the
river below, but though they saw many fish the catch was less than a
dozen.

It was a discovery to both of them to find how companionable these
occupations were, how much more side by side they could be amateurishly
cleaning out a goose and disputing about its cooking, than they had ever
contrived to be in Sussex Square.

"These things are so infernally interesting," said Trafford, surveying
the row of miscellaneous cans upon the stove he had packed with
disarticulated goose. "But we didn't come here to picnic. All this is
eating us up. I have a memory of some immense tragic purpose----"

"That tin's _boiling!_" screamed Marjorie sharply.

He resumed his thread after an active interlude.

"We'll keep the wolf from the door," he said.

"Don't talk of wolves!" said Marjorie.

"It is only when men have driven away the wolf from the door--oh!
altogether away, that they find despair in the sky? I wonder----"

"What?" asked Marjorie in his pause.

"I wonder if there is nothing really in life but this, the food hunt and
the love hunt. Is life just all hunger and need, and are we left with
nothing--nothing at all--when these things are done?... We're
infernally uncomfortable here."

"Oh, nonsense!" cried Marjorie.

"Think of your carpets at home! Think of the great, warm, beautiful
house that wasn't big enough!--And yet here, we're happy."

"We _are_ happy," said Marjorie, struck by the thought. "Only----"

"Yes."

"I'm afraid. And I long for the children. And the wind _nips_."

"It may be those are good things for us. No! This is just a lark as yet,
Marjorie. It's still fresh and full of distractions. The discomforts are
amusing. Presently we'll get used to it. Then we'll talk out--what we
have to talk out.... I say, wouldn't it keep and improve this goose of
ours if we put in a little brandy?"


§ 2

The weather broke at last. One might say it smashed itself over their
heads. There came an afternoon darkness swift and sudden, a wild gale
and an icy sleet that gave place in the night to snow, so that Trafford
looked out next morning to see a maddening chaos of small white flakes,
incredibly swift, against something that was neither darkness nor light.
Even with the door but partly ajar a cruelty of cold put its claw
within, set everything that was moveable swaying and clattering, and
made Marjorie hasten shuddering to heap fresh logs upon the fire. Once
or twice Trafford went out to inspect tent and roof and store-shed,
several times wrapped to the nose he battled his way for fresh wood, and
for the rest of the blizzard they kept to the hut. It was slumberously
stuffy, but comfortingly full of flavours of tobacco and food. There
were two days of intermission and a day of gusts and icy sleet again,
turning with one extraordinary clap of thunder to a wild downpour of
dancing lumps of ice, and then a night when it seemed all Labrador,
earth and sky together, was in hysterical protest against inconceivable
wrongs.

And then the break was over; the annual freezing-up was accomplished,
winter had established itself, the snowfall moderated and ceased, and an
ice-bound world shone white and sunlit under a cloudless sky.


§ 3

Through all that time they got no further with the great discussion for
which they had faced that solitude. They attempted beginnings.

"Where had we got to when we left England?" cried Marjorie. "You
couldn't work, you couldn't rest--you hated our life."

"Yes, I know. I had a violent hatred of the lives we were leading. I
thought--we had to get away. To think.... But things don't leave us
alone here."

He covered his face with his hands.

"Why did we come here?" he asked.

"You wanted--to get out of things."

"Yes. But with you.... Have we, after all, got out of things at all? I
said coming up, perhaps we were leaving our own problem behind. In
exchange for other problems--old problems men have had before. We've got
nearer necessity; that's all. Things press on us just as much. There's
nothing more fundamental in wild nature, nothing profounder--only
something earlier. One doesn't get out of life by going here or
there.... But I wanted to get you away--from all things that had such a
hold on you....

"When one lies awake at nights, then one seems to get down into
things...."

He went to the door, opened it, and stood looking out. Against a wan
daylight the snow was falling noiselessly and steadily.

"Everything goes on," he said.... "Relentlessly...."


§ 4

That was as far as they had got when the storms ceased and they came out
again into an air inexpressibly fresh and sharp and sweet, and into a
world blindingly clean and golden white under the rays of the morning
sun.

"We will build a fire out here," said Marjorie; "make a great pile.
There is no reason at all why we shouldn't live outside all through the
day in such weather as this."


§ 5

One morning Trafford found the footmarks of some catlike creature in the
snow near the bushes where he was accustomed to get firewood; they led
away very plainly up the hill, and after breakfast he took his knife and
rifle and snowshoes and went after the lynx--for that he decided the
animal must be. There was no urgent reason why he should want to kill a
lynx, unless perhaps that killing it made the store shed a trifle safer;
but it was the first trail of any living thing for many days; it
promised excitement; some primordial instinct perhaps urged him.

The morning was a little overcast, and very cold between the gleams of
wintry sunshine. "Good-bye, dear wife!" he said, and then as she
remembered afterwards came back a dozen yards to kiss her. "I'll not be
long," he said. "The beast's prowling, and if it doesn't get wind of me
I ought to find it in an hour." He hesitated for a moment. "I'll not be
long," he repeated, and she had an instant's wonder whether he hid from
her the same dread of loneliness that she concealed. Or perhaps he only
knew her secret. Up among the tumbled rocks he turned, and she was still
watching him. "Good-bye!" he cried and waved, and the willow thickets
closed about him.

She forced herself to the petty duties of the day, made up the fire from
the pile he had left for her, set water to boil, put the hut in order,
brought out sheets and blankets to air and set herself to wash up. She
wished she had been able to go with him. The sky cleared presently, and
the low December sun lit all the world about her, but it left her spirit
desolate.

She did not expect him to return until mid-day, and she sat herself down
on a log before the fire to darn a pair of socks as well as she could.
For a time this unusual occupation held her attention and then her hands
became slow and at last inactive, and she fell into reverie. She thought
at first of her children and what they might be doing, in England across
there to the east it would be about five hours later, four o'clock in
the afternoon, and the children would be coming home through the warm
muggy London sunshine with Fraulein Otto to tea. She wondered if they
had the proper clothes, if they were well; were they perhaps quarrelling
or being naughty or skylarking gaily across the Park. Of course Fraulein
Otto was all right, quite to be trusted, absolutely trustworthy, and
their grandmother would watch for a flushed face or an irrational
petulance or any of the little signs that herald trouble with more than
a mother's instinctive alertness. No need to worry about the children,
no need whatever.... The world of London opened out behind these
thoughts; it was so queer to think that she was in almost the same
latitude as the busy bright traffic of the autumn season in Kensington
Gore; that away there in ten thousand cleverly furnished drawing-rooms
the ringing tea things were being set out for the rustling advent of
smart callers and the quick leaping gossip. And there would be all sorts
of cakes and little things; for a while her mind ran on cakes and little
things, and she thought in particular whether it wasn't time to begin
cooking.... Not yet. What was it she had been thinking about? Ah! the
Solomonsons and the Capeses and the Bernards and the Carmels and the
Lees. Would they talk of her and Trafford? It would be strange to go
back to it all. Would they go back to it all? She found herself thinking
intently of Trafford.

What a fine human being he was! And how touchingly human! The thoughts
of his moments of irritation, his baffled silences, filled her with a
wild passion of tenderness. She had disappointed him; all that life
failed to satisfy him. Dear master of her life! what was it he needed?
She too wasn't satisfied with life, but while she had been able to
assuage herself with a perpetual series of petty excitements, theatres,
new books and new people, meetings, movements, dinners, shows, he had
grown to an immense discontent. He had most of the things men sought,
wealth, respect, love, children.... So many men might have blunted their
heart-ache with--adventures. There were pretty women, clever women,
unoccupied women. She felt she wouldn't have minded--_much_--if it made
him happy.... It was so wonderful he loved her still.... It wasn't that
he lacked occupation; on the whole he overworked. His business
interests were big and wide. Ought he to go into politics? Why was it
that the researches that had held him once, could hold him now no more?
That was the real pity of it. Was she to blame for that? She couldn't
state a case against herself, and yet she felt she was to blame. She had
taken him away from those things, forced him to make money....

She sat chin on hand staring into the fire, the sock forgotten on her
knee.

She could not weigh justice between herself and him. If he was unhappy
it was her fault. She knew if he was unhappy it was no excuse that she
had not known, had been misled, had a right to her own instincts and
purposes. She had got to make him happy. But what was she to do, what
was there for her to do?...

Only he could work out his own salvation, and until he had light, all
she could do was to stand by him, help him, cease to irritate him,
watch, wait. Anyhow she could at least mend his socks as well as
possible, so that the threads would not chafe him....

She flashed to her feet. What was that?

It seemed to her she had heard the sound of a shot, and a quick brief
wake of echoes. She looked across the icy waste of the river, and then
up the tangled slopes of the mountain. Her heart was beating very fast.
It must have been up there, and no doubt he had killed his beast. Some
shadow of doubt she would not admit crossed that obvious suggestion.

This wilderness was making her as nervously responsive as a creature of
the wild.

Came a second shot; this time there was no doubt of it. Then the
desolate silence closed about her again.

She stood for a long time staring at the shrubby slopes that rose to the
barren rock wilderness of the purple mountain crest. She sighed deeply
at last, and set herself to make up the fire and prepare for the mid-day
meal. Once far away across the river she heard the howl of a wolf.

Time seemed to pass very slowly that day. She found herself going
repeatedly to the space between the day tent and the sleeping hut from
which she could see the stunted wood that had swallowed him up, and
after what seemed a long hour her watch told her it was still only
half-past twelve. And the fourth or fifth time that she went to look out
she was set atremble again by the sound of a third shot. And then at
regular intervals out of that distant brown purple jumble of thickets
against the snow came two more shots. "Something has happened," she
said, "something has happened," and stood rigid. Then she became active,
seized the rifle that was always at hand when she was alone, fired into
the sky and stood listening.

Prompt come an answering shot.

"He wants me," said Marjorie. "Something----Perhaps he has killed
something too big to bring!"

She was for starting at once, and then remembered this was not the way
of the wilderness.

She thought and moved very rapidly. Her mind catalogued possible
requirements, rifle, hunting knife, the oilskin bag with matches, and
some chunks of dry paper, the rucksack--and he would be hungry. She took
a saucepan and a huge chunk of cheese and biscuit. Then a brandy flask
is sometimes handy--one never knows. Though nothing was wrong, of
course. Needles and stout thread, and some cord. Snowshoes. A waterproof
cloak could be easily carried. Her light hatchet for wood. She cast
about to see if there was anything else. She had almost forgotten
cartridges--and a revolver. Nothing more. She kicked a stray brand or so
into the fire, put on some more wood, damped the fire with an armful of
snow to make it last longer, and set out towards the willows into which
he had vanished.

There was a rustling and snapping of branches as she pushed her way
through the bushes, a little stir that died insensibly into quiet again;
and then the camping place became very still....

Scarcely a sound occurred, except for the little shuddering and stirring
of the fire, and the reluctant, infrequent drip from the icicles along
the sunny edge of the log hut roof. About one o'clock the amber sunshine
faded out altogether, a veil of clouds thickened and became greyly
ominous, and a little after two the first flakes of a snowstorm fell
hissing into the fire. A wind rose and drove the multiplying snowflakes
in whirls and eddies before it. The icicles ceased to drip, but one or
two broke and fell with a weak tinkling. A deep soughing, a shuddering
groaning of trees and shrubs, came ever and again out of the ravine, and
the powdery snow blew like puffs of smoke from the branches.

By four the fire was out, and the snow was piling high in the darkling
twilight against tent and hut....


§ 6

Trafford's trail led Marjorie through the thicket of dwarf willows and
down to the gully of the rivulet which they had called Marjorie Trickle;
it had long since become a trough of snow-covered rotten ice; the trail
crossed this and, turning sharply uphill, went on until it was clear of
shrubs and trees, and in the windy open of the upper slopes it crossed a
ridge and came over the lip of a large desolate valley with slopes of
ice and icy snow. Here she spent some time in following his loops back
on the homeward trail before she saw what was manifestly the final trail
running far away out across the snow, with the spoor of the lynx, a
lightly-dotted line, to the right of it. She followed this suggestion of
the trail, put on her snowshoes, and shuffled her way across this
valley, which opened as she proceeded. She hoped that over the ridge she
would find Trafford, and scanned the sky for the faintest discolouration
of a fire, but there was none. That seemed odd to her, but the wind was
in her face, and perhaps it beat the smoke down. Then as her eyes
scanned the hummocky ridge ahead, she saw something, something very
intent and still, that brought her heart into her mouth. It was a big,
grey wolf, standing with back haunched and head down, watching and
winding something beyond there, out of sight.

Marjorie had an instinctive fear of wild animals, and it still seemed
dreadful to her that they should go at large, uncaged. She suddenly
wanted Trafford violently, wanted him by her side. Also she thought of
leaving the trail, going back to the bushes. She had to take herself in
hand. In the wastes one did not fear wild beasts. One had no fear of
them. But why not fire a shot to let him know she was near?

The beast flashed round with an animal's instantaneous change of pose,
and looked at her. For a couple of seconds, perhaps, woman and brute
regarded one another across a quarter of a mile of snowy desolation.

Suppose it came towards her!

She would fire--and she would fire at it. She made a guess at the range
and aimed very carefully. She saw the snow fly two yards ahead of the
grisly shape, and then in an instant it had vanished over the crest.

She reloaded, and stood for a moment waiting for Trafford's answer. No
answer came. "Queer!" she whispered, "queer!"--and suddenly such a
horror of anticipation assailed her that she started running and
floundering through the snow to escape it. Twice she called his name,
and once she just stopped herself from firing a shot.

Over the ridge she would find him. Surely she would find him over the
ridge.

She found herself among rocks, and there was a beaten and trampled place
where Trafford must have waited and crouched. Then on and down a slope
of tumbled boulders. There came a patch where he had either thrown
himself down or fallen.

It seemed to her he must have been running....

Suddenly, a hundred feet or so away, she saw a patch of violently
disturbed snow--snow stained a dreadful colour, a snow of scarlet
crystals! Three strides and Trafford was in sight.

She had a swift conviction he was dead. He was lying in a crumpled
attitude on a patch of snow between convergent rocks, and the lynx, a
mass of blood smeared silvery fur, was in some way mixed up with him.
She saw as she came nearer that the snow was disturbed round about them,
and discoloured copiously, yellow widely, and in places bright red, with
congealed and frozen blood. She felt no fear now, and no emotion; all
her mind was engaged with the clear, bleak perception of the fact before
her. She did not care to call to him again. His head was hidden by the
lynx's body, it was as if he was burrowing underneath the creature; his
legs were twisted about each other in a queer, unnatural attitude.

Then, as she dropped off a boulder, and came nearer, Trafford moved. A
hand came out and gripped the rifle beside him; he suddenly lifted a
dreadful face, horribly scarred and torn, and crimson with frozen blood;
he pushed the grey beast aside, rose on an elbow, wiped his sleeve
across his eyes, stared at her, grunted, and flopped forward. He had
fainted.

She was now as clear-minded and as self-possessed as a woman in a shop.
In another moment she was kneeling by his side. She saw, by the position
of his knife and the huge rip in the beast's body, that he had stabbed
the lynx to death as it clawed his head; he must have shot and wounded
it and then fallen upon it. His knitted cap was torn to ribbons, and
hung upon his neck. Also his leg was manifestly injured; how, she could
not tell. It was chiefly evident he must freeze if he lay here. It
seemed to her that perhaps he had pulled the dead brute over him to
protect his torn skin from the extremity of cold. The lynx was already
rigid, its clumsy paws asprawl--the torn skin and clot upon Trafford's
face was stiff as she put her hands about his head to raise him. She
turned him over on his back--how heavy he seemed!--and forced brandy
between his teeth. Then, after a moment's hesitation, she poured a
little brandy on his wounds.

She glanced at his leg, which was surely broken, and back at his face.
Then she gave him more brandy and his eyelids flickered. He moved his
hand weakly. "The blood," he said, "kept getting in my eyes."

She gave him brandy once again, wiped his face and glanced at his leg.
Something ought to be done to that she thought. But things must be done
in order.

She stared up at the darkling sky with its grey promise of snow, and
down the slopes of the mountain. Clearly they must stay the night here.
They were too high for wood among these rocks, but three or four
hundred yards below there were a number of dwarfed fir trees. She had
brought an axe, so that a fire was possible. Should she go back to camp
and get the tent?

Trafford was trying to speak again. "I got----" he said.

"Yes?"

"Got my leg in that crack. Damn--damned nuisance."

Was he able to advise her? She looked at him, and then perceived she
must bind up his head and face. She knelt behind him and raised his head
on her knee. She had a thick silk neck muffler, and this she
supplemented by a band she cut and tore from her inner vest. She bound
this, still warm from her body, about him, wrapped her cloak round him.
The next thing was a fire. Five yards away, perhaps, a great mass of
purple gabbro hung over a patch of nearly snowless moss. A hummock to
the westward offered shelter from the weakly bitter wind, the icy
draught, that was soughing down the valley. Always in Labrador, if you
can, you camp against a rock surface; it shelters you from the wind,
reflects your fire, guards your back.

"Rag!" she said.

"Rotten hole," said Trafford.

"What?" she cried sharply.

"Got you in a rotten hole," he said. "Eh?"

"Listen," she said, and shook his shoulder. "Look! I want to get you up
against that rock."

"Won't make much difference," said Trafford, and opened his eyes.
"Where?" he asked.

"There."

He remained quite quiet for a second perhaps. "Listen to me," he said.
"Go back to camp."

"Yes," she said.

"Go back to camp. Make a pack of all the strongest
food--strenthin'--strengthrin' food--you know?" He seemed troubled to
express himself.

"Yes," she said.

"Down the river. Down--down. Till you meet help."

"Leave you?"

He nodded his head and winced.

"You're always plucky," he said. "Look facts in the face. Kiddies.
Thought it over while you were coming." A tear oozed from his eye. "Not
be a fool, Madge. Kiss me good-bye. Not be a fool. I'm done. Kids."

She stared at him and her spirit was a luminous mist of tears. "You old
_coward_," she said in his ear, and kissed the little patch of rough and
bloody cheek beneath his eye. Then she knelt up beside him. "_I'm_ boss
now, old man," she said. "I want to get you to that place there under
the rock. If I drag, can you help?"

He answered obstinately: "You'd better go."

"I'll make you comfortable first," she answered, "anyhow."

He made an enormous effort, and then with her quick help and with his
back to her knee, had raised himself on his elbows.

"And afterwards?" he asked.

"Build a fire."

"Wood?"

"Down there."

"Two bits of wood tied on my leg--splints. Then I can drag myself. See?
Like a blessed old walrus."

He smiled, and she kissed his bandaged face again.

"Else it hurts," he apologized, "more than I can stand."

She stood up again, thought, put his rifle and knife to his hand for
fear of that lurking wolf, abandoning her own rifle with an effort, and
went striding and leaping from rock to rock towards the trees below. She
made the chips fly, and was presently towing three venerable pine
dwarfs, bumping over rock and crevice, back to Trafford. She flung them
down, stood for a moment bright and breathless, then set herself to hack
off the splints he needed from the biggest stem. "Now," she said, coming
to him.

"A fool," he remarked, "would have made the splints down there.
You're--_good_, Marjorie."

She lugged his leg out straight, put it into the natural and least
painful pose, padded it with moss and her torn handkerchief, and bound
it up. As she did so a handful of snowflakes came whirling about them.
She was now braced up to every possibility. "It never rains," she said
grimly, "but it pours," and went on with her bone-setting. He was badly
weakened by pain and shock, and once he swore at her sharply. "Sorry,"
he said.

She rolled him over on his chest, and left him to struggle to the
shelter of the rock while she went for more wood.

The sky alarmed her. The mountains up the valley were already hidden by
driven rags of slaty snowstorms. This time she found a longer but easier
path for dragging her boughs and trees; she determined she would not
start the fire until nightfall, nor waste any time in preparing food
until then. There were dead boughs for kindling--more than enough. It
was snowing quite fast by the time she got up to him with her second
load, and a premature twilight already obscured and exaggerated the
rocks and mounds about her. She gave some of her cheese to Trafford, and
gnawed some herself on her way down to the wood again. She regretted
that she had brought neither candles nor lantern, because then she might
have kept on until the cold of night stopped her, and she reproached
herself bitterly because she had brought no tea. She could forgive
herself the lantern, she had never expected to be out after dark, but
the tea was inexcusable. She muttered self-reproaches while she worked
like two men among the trees, panting puffs of mist that froze upon her
lips and iced the knitted wool that covered her chin. Why don't they
teach a girl to handle an axe?...

When at last the wolfish cold of the Labrador night had come, it found
Trafford and Marjorie seated almost warmly on a bed of pine boughs
between the sheltering dark rock behind and a big but well husbanded
fire in front, drinking a queer-tasting but not unsavory soup of
lynx-flesh, that she had fortified with the remainder of the brandy.
Then they tried roast lynx and ate a little, and finished with some
scraps of cheese and deep draughts of hot water. Then--oh Tyburnia and
Chelsea and all that is becoming!--they smoked Trafford's pipe for
alternate minutes, and Marjorie found great comfort in it.

The snowstorm poured incessantly out of the darkness to become flakes of
burning fire in the light of the flames, flakes that vanished magically,
but it only reached them and wetted them in occasional gusts. What did
it matter for the moment if the dim snow-heaps rose and rose about them?
A glorious fatigue, an immense self-satisfaction possessed Marjorie; she
felt that they had both done well.

"I am not afraid of to-morrow now," she said at last--a thought matured.
"_No!_"

Trafford had the pipe and did not speak for a moment. "Nor I," he said
at last. "Very likely we'll get through with it." He added after a
pause: "I thought I was done for. A man--loses heart. After a loss of
blood."

"The leg's better?"

"Hot as fire." His humour hadn't left him. "It's a treat," he said. "The
hottest thing in Labrador."

"I've been a good squaw this time, old man?" she asked suddenly.

He seemed not to hear her; then his lips twitched and he made a feeble
movement for her hand. "I cursed you," he said....

She slept, but on a spring as it were, lest the fire should fall. She
replenished it with boughs, tucked in the half-burnt logs, and went to
sleep again. Then it seemed to her that some invisible hand was pouring
a thin spirit on the flames that made them leap and crackle and spread
north and south until they filled the heavens. Her eyes were open and
the snowstorm overpast, leaving the sky clear, and all the westward
heaven alight with the trailing, crackling, leaping curtains of the
Aurora, brighter than she had ever seen them before. Quite clearly
visible beyond the smoulder of the fire, a wintry waste of rock and
snow, boulder beyond boulder, passed into a dun obscurity. The mountain
to the right of them lay long and white and stiff, a shrouded death. All
earth was dead and waste and nothing, and the sky alive and coldly
marvellous, signalling and astir. She watched the changing, shifting
colours, and they made her think of the gathering banners of inhuman
hosts, the stir and marshalling of icy giants for ends stupendous and
indifferent to all the trivial impertinence of man's existence....

That night the whole world of man seemed small and shallow and insecure
to her, beyond comparison. One came, she thought, but just a little way
out of its warm and sociable cities hither, and found this homeless
wilderness; one pricked the thin appearances of life with microscope or
telescope and came to an equal strangeness. All the pride and hope of
human life goes to and fro in a little shell of air between this ancient
globe of rusty nickel-steel and the void of space; faint specks we are
within a film; we quiver between the atom and the infinite, being hardly
more substantial than the glow within an oily skin that drifts upon the
water. The wonder and the riddle of it! Here she and Trafford were!
Phantasmal shapes of unsubstantial fluid thinly skinned against
evaporation and wrapped about with woven wool and the skins of beasts,
that yet reflected and perceived, suffered and sought to understand;
that held a million memories, framed thoughts that plumbed the deeps of
space and time,--and another day of snow or icy wind might leave them
just scattered bones and torn rags gnawed by a famishing wolf!...

She felt a passionate desire to pray....

She glanced at Trafford beside her, and found him awake and staring. His
face was very pale and strange in that livid, flickering light. She
would have spoken, and then she saw his lips were moving, and something,
something she did not understand, held her back from doing so.


§ 7

The bleak, slow dawn found Marjorie intently busy. She had made up the
fire, boiled water and washed and dressed Trafford's wounds, and made
another soup of lynx. But Trafford had weakened in the night, the stuff
nauseated him, he refused it and tried to smoke and was sick, and then
sat back rather despairfully after a second attempt to persuade her to
leave him there to die. This failure of his spirit distressed her and a
little astonished her, but it only made her more resolute to go through
with her work. She had awakened cold, stiff and weary, but her fatigue
vanished with movement; she toiled for an hour replenishing her pile of
fuel, made up the fire, put his gun ready to his hand, kissed him,
abused him lovingly for the trouble he gave her until his poor torn face
lit in response, and then parting on a note of cheerful confidence set
out to return to the hut. She found the way not altogether easy to make
out, wind and snow had left scarcely a trace of their tracks, and her
mind was full of the stores she must bring and the possibility of moving
him nearer to the hut. She was startled to see by the fresh, deep spoor
along the ridge how near the wolf had dared approach them in the
darkness....

Ever and again Marjorie had to halt and look back to get her direction
right. As it was she came through the willow scrub nearly half a mile
above the hut, and had to follow the steep bank of the frozen river
down. At one place she nearly slipped upon an icy slope of rock.

One possibility she did not dare to think of during that time; a
blizzard now would cut her off absolutely from any return to Trafford.
Short of that she believed she could get through.

Her quick mind was full of all she had to do. At first she had thought
chiefly of his immediate necessities, of food and some sort of shelter.
She had got a list of things in her head--meat extract, bandages,
corrosive sublimate by way of antiseptic, brandy, a tin of beef, some
bread and so forth; she went over that several times to be sure of it,
and then for a time she puzzled about a tent. She thought she could
manage a bale of blankets on her back, and that she could rig a sleeping
tent for herself and Trafford with one and some bent sticks. The big
tent would be too much to strike and shift. And then her mind went on to
a bolder enterprise, which was to get him home. The nearer she could
bring him to the log hut, the nearer they would be to supplies. She cast
about for some sort of sledge. The snow was too soft and broken for
runners, especially among the trees, but if she could get a flat of
smooth wood she thought she might be able to drag him. She decided to
try the side of her bunk. She could easily get that off. She would have,
of course, to run it edgewise through the thickets and across the
ravine, but after that she would have almost clear going until she
reached the steep place of broken rocks within two hundred yards of him.
The idea of a sledge grew upon her, and she planned to nail a rope along
the edge and make a kind of harness for herself.

She found the camping-place piled high with drifted snow, which had
invaded tent and hut, and that some beast, a wolverine she guessed, had
been into the hut, devoured every candle-end and the uppers of
Trafford's well-greased second boots, and had then gone to the corner of
the store shed and clambered up to the stores. She made no account of
its depredations there, but set herself to make a sledge and get her
supplies together. There was a gleam of sunshine, but she did not like
the look of the sky, and she was horribly afraid of what might be
happening to Trafford. She carried her stuff through the wood and across
the ravine, and returned for her improvised sledge. She was still
struggling with that among the trees when it began to snow again.

It was hard then not to be frantic in her efforts. As it was, she packed
her stuff so loosely on the planking that she had to repack it, and she
started without putting on her snowshoes, and floundered fifty yards
before she discovered that omission. The snow was now falling fast,
darkling the sky and hiding everything but objects close at hand, and
she had to use all her wits to determine her direction; she knew she
must go down a long slope and then up to the ridge, and it came to her
as a happy inspiration that if she bore to the left she might strike
some recognizable vestige of her morning's trail. She had read of people
walking in circles when they have no light or guidance, and that
troubled her until she bethought herself of the little compass on her
watch chain. By that she kept her direction. She wished very much she
had timed herself across the waste, so that she could tell when she
approached the ridge.

Soon her back and shoulders were aching violently, and the rope across
her chest was tugging like some evil-tempered thing. But she did not
dare to rest. The snow was now falling thick and fast, the flakes traced
white spirals and made her head spin, so that she was constantly falling
away to the south-westward and then correcting herself by the compass.
She tried to think how this zig-zagging might affect her course, but the
snow whirls confused her mind and a growing anxiety would not let her
pause to think. She felt blinded; it seemed to be snowing inside her
eyes so that she wanted to rub them. Soon the ground must rise to the
ridge, she told herself; it must surely rise. Then the sledge came
bumping at her heels and she perceived she was going down hill. She
consulted the compass, and she found she was facing south. She turned
sharply to the right again. The snowfall became a noiseless, pitiless
torture to sight and mind.

The sledge behind her struggled to hold her back, and the snow balled
under her snowshoes. She wanted to stop and rest, take thought, sit for
a moment. She struggled with herself and kept on. She tried walking
with shut eyes, and tripped and came near sprawling. "Oh God!" she
cried, "oh God!" too stupefied for more articulate prayers.

Would the rise of the ground to the ribs of rock never come?

A figure, black and erect, stood in front of her suddenly, and beyond
appeared a group of black, straight antagonists. She staggered on
towards them, gripping her rifle with some muddled idea of defence, and
in another moment she was brushing against the branches of a stunted
fir, which shed thick lumps of snow upon her feet. What trees were
these? Had she ever passed any trees? No! There were no trees on her way
to Trafford....

She began whimpering like a tormented child. But even as she wept she
turned her sledge about to follow the edge of the wood. She was too much
downhill, she thought and she must bear up again.

She left the trees behind, made an angle uphill to the right, and was
presently among trees again. Again she left them and again came back to
them. She screamed with anger at them and twitched her sledge away. She
wiped at the snowstorm with her arm as though she would wipe it away.
She wanted to stamp on the universe....

And she ached, she ached....

Something caught her eye ahead, something that gleamed; it was exactly
like a long, bare rather pinkish bone standing erect on the ground. Just
because it was strange and queer she ran forward to it. Then as she came
nearer she perceived it was a streak of barked trunk; a branch had been
torn off a pine tree and the bark stripped down to the root. And then
her foot hit against a freshly hewn stump, and then came another, poking
its pinkish wounds above the snow. And there were chips! This filled
her with wonder. Some one had been cutting wood! There must be Indians
or trappers near, she thought, and then realized the wood-cutter could
be none other than herself.

She turned to the right and saw the rocks rising steeply close at hand.
"Oh Rag!" she cried, and fired her rifle in the air.

Ten seconds, twenty seconds, and then so loud and near it amazed her,
came his answering shot. It sounded like the hillside bursting.

In another moment she had discovered the trail she had made overnight
and that morning by dragging firewood. It was now a shallow soft white
trench. Instantly her despair and fatigue had gone from her. Should she
take a load of wood with her? she asked herself, in addition to the
weight behind her, and had a better idea. She would unload and pile her
stuff here, and bring him down on the sledge closer to the wood. She
looked about and saw two rocks that diverged with a space between. She
flashed schemes. She would trample the snow hard and flat, put her
sledge on it, pile boughs and make a canopy of blanket overhead and
behind. Then a fire in front.

She saw her camp admirable. She tossed her provisions down and ran up
the broad windings of her pine-tree trail to Trafford, with the unloaded
sledge bumping behind her. She ran as lightly as though she had done
nothing that day.

She found him markedly recovered, weak and quiet, with snow drifting
over his feet, his rifle across his knees, and his pipe alight. "Back
already," he said, "but----"

He hesitated. "No grub?"

She knelt over him, gave his rough unshaven cheek a swift kiss, and very
rapidly explained her plan.


§ 8

In three days' time they were back at the hut, and the last two days
they wore blue spectacles because of the mid-day glare of the sunlit
snow.

It amazed Marjorie to discover as she lay awake in the camp on the edge
of the ravine close to the hut to which she had lugged Trafford during
the second day, that she was deeply happy. It was preposterous that she
should be so, but those days of almost despairful stress were irradiated
now by a new courage. She was doing this thing, against all Labrador and
the snow-driving wind that blew from the polar wilderness, she was
winning. It was a great discovery to her that hardship and effort almost
to the breaking-point could ensue in so deep a satisfaction. She lay and
thought how deep and rich life had become for her, as though in all this
effort and struggle some unsuspected veil had been torn away. She
perceived again, but now with no sense of desolation, that same infinite
fragility of life which she had first perceived when she had watched the
Aurora Borealis flickering up the sky. Beneath that realization and
carrying it, as a river flood may carry scum, was a sense of herself as
something deeper, greater, more enduring than mountain or wilderness or
sky, or any of those monstrous forms of nature that had dwarfed her
physical self to nothingness.

She had a persuasion of self detachment and illumination, and withal of
self-discovery. She saw her life of time and space for what it was. Away
in London the children, with the coldest of noses and the gayest of
spirits, would be scampering about their bedrooms in the mild morning
sunlight of a London winter; Elsie, the parlourmaid, would be whisking
dexterous about the dining-room, the bacon would be cooking and the
coffee-mill at work, the letters of the morning delivery perhaps just
pattering into the letter-box, and all the bright little household she
had made, with all the furniture she had arranged, all the
characteristic decoration she had given it, all the clever convenient
arrangements, would be getting itself into action for another day--and
_it wasn't herself!_ It was the extremest of her superficiality.

She had come out of all that, and even so it seemed she had come out of
herself; this weary woman lying awake on the balsam boughs with a brain
cleared by underfeeding and this continuous arduous bath of toil in
snow-washed, frost cleansed, starry air, this, too, was no more than a
momentarily clarified window for her unknown and indefinable reality.
What was that reality? what was she herself? She became interested in
framing an answer to that, and slipped down from the peace of soul she
had attained. Her serenity gave way to a reiteration of this question,
reiterations increasing and at last oppressing like the snowflakes of a
storm, perpetual whirling repetitions that at last confused her and hid
the sky....

She fell asleep....


§ 9

With their return to the hut, Marjorie had found herself encountering a
new set of urgencies. In their absence that wretched little wolverine
had found great plenty and happiness in the tent and store-shed; its
traces were manifest nearly everywhere, and it had particularly assailed
the candles, after a destructive time among the frozen caribou beef. It
had clambered up on the packages of sardines and jumped thence on to a
sloping pole that it could claw along into the frame of the roof. She
rearranged the packages, but that was no good. She could not leave
Trafford in order to track the brute down, and for a night or so she
could not think of any way of checking its depredations. It came each
night.... Trafford kept her close at home. She had expected that when he
was back in his bunk, secure and warm, he would heal rapidly, but
instead he suddenly developed all the symptoms of a severe feverish
cold, and his scars, which had seemed healing, became flushed and
ugly-looking. Moreover, there was something wrong with his leg, an
ominous ache that troubled her mind. Every woman, she decided, ought to
know how to set a bone. He was unable to sleep by reason of these
miseries, though very desirous of doing so. He became distressingly weak
and inert, he ceased to care for food, and presently he began ta talk to
himself with a complete disregard of her presence. Hourly she regretted
her ignorance of medicine that left her with no conceivable remedy for
all the aching and gnawing that worried and weakened him, except bathing
with antiseptics and a liberal use of quinine.

And his face became strange to her, for over his flushed and sunken
cheeks, under the raw spaces of the scar a blond beard bristled and
grew. Presently, Trafford was a bearded man.

Incidentally, however, she killed the wolverine by means of a trap of
her own contrivance, a loaded rifle with a bait of what was nearly her
last candles, rigged to the trigger.

But this loss of the candles brought home to them the steady lengthening
of the nights. Scarcely seven hours of day remained now in the black,
cold grip of the darkness. And through those seventeen hours of chill
aggression they had no light but the red glow of the stove. She had to
close the door of the hut and bar every chink and cranny against the icy
air, that became at last a murderous, freezing wind. Not only did she
line the hut with every scrap of skin and paper she could obtain, but
she went out with the spade toiling for three laborious afternoons in
piling and beating snow against the outer frame. And now it was that
Trafford talked at last, talked with something of the persistence of
delirium, and she sat and listened hour by hour, silently, for he gave
no heed to her or to anything she might say. He talked, it seemed, to
God....


§ 10

Darkness about a sullen glow of red, and a voice speaking.

The voice of a man, fevered and in pain, wounded and amidst hardship and
danger, struggling with the unrelenting riddle of his being. Ever and
again when a flame leapt she would see his face, haggard, bearded,
changed, and yet infinitely familiar.

His voice varied, now high and clear, now mumbling, now vexed and
expostulating, now rich with deep feeling, now fagged and slow; his
matter varied, too; now he talked like one who is inspired, and now like
one lost and confused, stupidly repeating phrases, going back upon a
misleading argument, painfully, laboriously beginning over and over
again. Marjorie sat before the stove watching it burn and sink,
replenishing it, preparing food, and outside the bitter wind moaned and
blew the powdery snow before it, and the shortening interludes of
pallid, diffused daylight which pass for days in such weather, came and
went. Intense cold had come now with leaden snowy days and starless
nights.

Sometimes his speech filled her mind, seemed to fill all her world;
sometimes she ceased to listen, following thoughts of her own.
Sometimes she dozed; sometimes she awakened from sleep to find him
talking. But slowly she realized a thread in his discourse, a progress
and development.

Sometimes he talked of his early researches, and then he would trace
computations with his hands as if he were using a blackboard, and became
distressed to remember what he had written. Sometimes he would be under
the claws of the lynx again, and fighting for his eyes. "Ugh!" he said,
"keep those hind legs still. Keep your hind legs still! Knife? Knife?
Ah! got it. Gu--u--u, you _Beast!_"

But the gist of his speech was determined by the purpose of his journey
to Labrador. At last he was reviewing his life and hers, and all that
their life might signify, even as he determined to do. She began to
perceive that whatever else drifted into his mind and talk, this
recurred and grew, that he returned to the conclusion he had reached,
and not to the beginning of the matter, and went on from that....

"You see," he said, "our lives are nothing--nothing in themselves. I
know that; I've never had any doubts of that. We individuals just pick
up a mixed lot of things out of the powers that begat us, and lay them
down again presently a little altered, that's all--heredities,
traditions, the finger nails of my grandfather, a great-aunt's lips, the
faith of a sect, the ideas of one's time. We live and then we die, and
the threads run, dispersing this way and that. To make other people
again. Whatever's immortal isn't that, our looks or our habits, our
thoughts or our memories--just the shapes, these are, of one immortal
stuff.... One immortal stuff."...

The voice died away as if he was baffled. Then it resumed.

"But we ought to _partake_ of immortality; that's my point. We ought to
partake of immortality.

"I mean we're like the little elements in a magnet; ought not to lie
higgledy-piggledy, ought to point the same way, bepolarized----Something
microcosmic, you know, ought to be found in a man.

"Analogies run away with one. Suppose the bar isn't magnetized yet!
Suppose purpose has to come; suppose the immortal stuff isn't yet, isn't
being but struggling to be. Struggling to be.... Gods! that morning! When
the child was born! And afterwards she was there--with a smile on her
lips, and a little flushed and proud--as if nothing had happened so very
much out of the way. Nothing so wonderful. And we had another life
besides our own!..."

Afterwards he came back to that. "That was a good image," he said,
"something trying to exist, which isn't substance, doesn't belong to
space or time, something stifled and enclosed, struggling to get
through. Just confused birth cries, eyes that hardly see, deaf ears,
poor little thrusting hands. A thing altogether blind at first, a
twitching and thrusting of protoplasm under the waters, and then the
plants creeping up the beaches, the insects and reptiles on the margins
of the rivers, beasts with a flicker of light in their eyes answering
the sun. And at last, out of the long interplay of desire and fear, an
ape, an ape that stared and wondered, and scratched queer pictures on a
bone...."

He lapsed into silent thought for a time, and Marjorie glanced at his
dim face in the shadows.

"I say nothing of ultimates," he said at last.

He repeated that twice before his thoughts would flow again.

"This is as much as I see, in time as I know it and space as I know
it--_something struggling to exist_. It's true to the end of my limits.
What can I say beyond that? It struggles to exist, becomes conscious,
becomes now conscious of itself. That is where I come in, as a part of
it. Above the beast in me is that--the desire to know better, to
know--beautifully, and to transmit my knowledge. That's all there is in
life for me beyond food and shelter and tidying up. This Being--opening
its eyes, listening, trying to comprehend. Every good thing in man is
that;--looking and making pictures, listening and making songs, making
philosophies and sciences, trying new powers, bridge and engine, spark
and gun. At the bottom of my soul, _that_. We began with
bone-scratching. We're still--near it. I am just a part of this
beginning--mixed with other things. Every book, every art, every
religion is that, the attempt to understand and express--mixed with
other things. Nothing else matters, nothing whatever. I tell
you----Nothing whatever!

"I've always believed that. All my life I've believed that.

"Only I've forgotten."

"Every man with any brains believes that at the bottom of his heart.
Only he gets busy and forgets. He goes shooting lynxes and breaks his
leg. Odd, instinctive, brutal thing to do--to go tracking down a lynx to
kill it! I grant you that, Marjorie. I grant you that."

"Grant me what?" she cried, startled beyond measure to hear herself
addressed.

"Grant you that it is rather absurd to go hunting a lynx. And what big
paws it has--disproportionately big! I wonder if that's an adaptation to
snow. Tremendous paws they are.... But the real thing, I was saying, the
real thing is to get knowledge, and express it. All things lead up to
that. Civilization, social order, just for that. Except for that, all
the life of man, all his affairs, his laws and police, his morals and
manners--nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. Lynx hunts! Just ways of getting
themselves mauled and clawed perhaps--into a state of understanding. Who
knows?..."

His voice became low and clear.

"Understanding spreading like a dawn....

"Logic and language, clumsy implements, but rising to our needs, rising
to our needs, thought clarified, enriched, reaching out to every man
alive--some day--presently--touching every man alive, harmonizing acts
and plans, drawing men into gigantic co-operations, tremendous
co-operations....

"Until man shall stand upon this earth as upon a footstool and reach out
his hand among the stars....

"And then I went into the rubber market, and spent seven years of my
life driving shares up and down and into a net!... Queer game indeed!
Stupid ass Behrens was--at bottom....

"There's a flaw in it somewhere...."

He came back to that several times before he seemed able to go on from
it.

"There _is_ a collective mind," he said, "a growing general
consciousness--growing clearer. Something put me away from that, but I
know it. My work, my thinking, was a part of it. That's why I was so mad
about Behrens."

"Behrens?"

"Of course. He'd got a twist, a wrong twist. It makes me angry now. It
will take years, it will eat up some brilliant man to clean up after
Behrens----"

"Yes, but the point is"--his voice became acute--"why did I go making
money and let Behrens in? Why generally and in all sorts of things does
Behrens come in?..."

He was silent for a long time, and then he began to answer himself. "Of
course," he said, "I said it--or somebody said it--about this collective
mind being mixed with other things. It's something arising out of
life--not the common stuff of life. An exhalation.... It's like the
little tongues of fire that came at Pentecost.... Queer how one comes
drifting back to these images. Perhaps I shall die a Christian yet....
The other Christians won't like me if I do. What was I saying?... It's
what I reach up to, what I desire shall pervade me, not what I am. Just
as far as I give myself purely to knowledge, to making feeling and
thought clear in my mind and words, to the understanding and expression
of the realities and relations of life, just so far do I achieve
Salvation.... Salvation!...

"I wonder, is Salvation the same for every one? Perhaps for one man
Salvation is research and thought, and for another expression in art,
and for another nursing lepers. Provided he does it in the spirit. He
has to do it in the spirit...."

There came a silence as though some difficulty baffled him, and he was
feeling back to get his argument again.

"This flame that arises out of life, that redeems life from purposeless
triviality, _isn't_ life. Let me get hold of that. That's a point.
That's a very important point."

Something had come to him.

"I've never talked of this to Marjorie. I've lived with her nine years
and more, and never talked of religion. Not once. That's so queer of us.
Any other couple in any other time would have talked religion no end....
People ought to."

Then he stuck out an argumentative hand. "You see, Marjorie _is_ life,"
he said.

"She took me."

He spoke slowly, as though he traced things carefully. "Before I met her
I suppose I wasn't half alive. No! Yet I don't remember I felt
particularly incomplete. Women were interesting, of course; they excited
me at times, that girl at Yonkers!--H'm. I stuck to my work. It was fine
work, I forget half of it now, the half-concealed intimations I
mean--queer how one forgets!--but I know I felt my way to wide, deep
things. It was like exploring caves--monstrous, limitless caves. Such
caves!... Very still--underground. Wonderful and beautiful.... They're
lying there now for other men to seek. Other men will find them.... Then
_she_ came, as though she was taking possession. The beauty of her, oh!
the life and bright eagerness, and the incompatibility! That's the
riddle! I've loved her always. When she came to my arms it seemed to me
the crown of life. Caves indeed! Old caves! Nothing else seemed to
matter. But something did. All sorts of things did. I found that out
soon enough. And when that first child was born. That for a time was
supreme.... Yes--she's the quintessence of life, the dear greed of her,
the appetite, the clever appetite for things. She grabs. She's so damned
clever! The light in her eyes! Her quick sure hands!... Only my work was
crowded out of my life and ended, and she didn't seem to feel it, she
didn't seem to mind it. There was a sort of disregard. Disregard. As
though all that didn't really matter...."

"_My dear!_" whispered Marjorie unheeded. She wanted to tell him it
mattered now, mattered supremely, but she knew he had no ears for her.

His voice flattened. "It's perplexing," he said. "The two different
things."

Then suddenly he cried out harshly: "I ought never to have married
her--never, never! I had my task. I gave myself to her. Oh! the high
immensities, the great and terrible things open to the mind of man! And
we breed children and live in littered houses and play with our food and
chatter, chatter, chatter. Oh, the chatter of my life! The folly! The
women with their clothes. I can hear them rustle now, whiff the scent of
it! The scandals--as though the things they did with themselves and each
other mattered a rap; the little sham impromptu clever things, the
trying to keep young--and underneath it all that continual cheating,
cheating, cheating, damning struggle for money!...

"Marjorie, Marjorie, Marjorie! Why is she so good and no better! Why
wasn't she worth it altogether?...

"No! I don't want to go on with it any more--ever. I want to go back.

"I want my life over again, and to go back.

"I want research, and the spirit of research that has died in me, and
that still, silent room of mine again, that room, as quiet as a cell,
and the toil that led to light. Oh! the coming of that light, the uprush
of discovery, the solemn joy as the generalization rises like a sun upon
the facts--floods them with a common meaning. That is what I want. That
is what I have always wanted....

"Give me my time oh God! again; I am sick of this life I have chosen. I
am sick of it! This--busy death! Give me my time again.... Why did you
make me, and then waste me like this? Why are we made for folly upon
folly? Folly! and brains made to scale high heaven, smeared into the
dust! Into the dust, into the dust. Dust!..."

He passed into weak, wandering repetitions of disconnected sentences,
that died into whispers and silence, and Marjorie watched him and
listened to him, and waited with a noiseless dexterity upon his every
need.


§ 11

One day, she did not know what day, for she had lost count of the days,
Marjorie set the kettle to boil and opened the door of the hut to look
out, and the snow was ablaze with diamonds, and the air was sweet and
still. It occurred to her that it would be well to take Trafford out
into that brief brightness. She looked at him and found his eyes upon
the sunlight quiet and rather wondering eyes.

"Would you like to get out into that?" she asked abruptly.

"Yes," he said, and seemed disposed to get up.

"You've got a broken leg," she cried, to arrest his movement, and he
looked at her and answered: "Of course--I forgot."

She was all atremble that he should recognize her and speak to her. She
pulled her rude old sledge alongside his bunk, and kissed him, and
showed him how to shift and drop himself upon the plank. She took him in
her arms and lowered him. He helped weakly but understandingly, and she
wrapped him up warmly on the planks and lugged him out and built up a
big fire at his feet, wondering, but as yet too fearful to rejoice, at
the change that had come to him.

He said no more, but his eyes watched her move about with a kind of
tired curiosity. He smiled for a time at the sun, and shut his eyes, and
still faintly smiling, lay still. She had a curious fear that if she
tried to talk to him this new lucidity would vanish again. She went
about the business of the morning, glancing at him ever and again, until
suddenly the calm of his upturned face smote her, and she ran to him
and crouched down to him between hope and a terrible fear, and found
that he was sleeping, and breathing very lightly, sleeping with the deep
unconsciousness of a child....

When he awakened the sun was red in the west. His eyes met hers, and he
seemed a little puzzled.

"I've been sleeping, Madge?" he said.

She nodded.

"And dreaming? I've a vague sort of memory of preaching and preaching in
a kind of black, empty place, where there wasn't anything.... A fury of
exposition ... a kind of argument.... I say!--Is there such a thing in
the world as a new-laid egg--and some bread-and-butter?"

He seemed to reflect. "Of course," he said, "I broke my leg. Gollys! I
thought that beast was going to claw my eyes out. Lucky, Madge, it
didn't get my eyes. It was just a chance it didn't."

He stared at her.

"I say," he said, "you've had a pretty rough time! How long has this
been going on?"

He amazed her by rising himself on his elbow and sitting up.

"Your leg!" she cried.

He put his hand down and felt it. "Pretty stiff," he said. "You get me
some food--there _were_ some eggs, Madge, frozen new-laid, anyhow--and
then we'll take these splints off and feel about a bit. Eh! why not? How
did you get me out of that scrape, Madge? I thought I'd got to be froze
as safe as eggs. (Those eggs ought to be all right, you know. If you put
them on in a saucepan and wait until they boil.) I've a sort of muddled
impression.... By Jove, Madge, you've had a time! I say you _have_ had a
time!"

His eyes, full of a warmth of kindliness she had not seen for long
weeks, scrutinized her face. "I say!" he repeated, very softly.

All her strength went from her at his tenderness. "Oh, my dear," she
wailed, kneeling at his side, "my dear, dear!" and still regardful of
his leg, she yet contrived to get herself weeping into his coveted arms.

He regarded her, he held her, he patted her back! The infinite luxury to
her! He'd come back. He'd come back to her.

"How long has it been?" he asked. "Poor dear! Poor dear! How long can it
have been?"


§ 12

From that hour Trafford mended. He remained clear-minded, helpful,
sustaining. His face healed daily. Marjorie had had to cut away great
fragments of gangrenous frozen flesh, and he was clearly destined to
have a huge scar over forehead and cheek, but in that pure, clear air,
once the healing had begun it progressed swiftly. His leg had set, a
little shorter than its fellow and with a lump in the middle of the
shin, but it promised to be a good serviceable leg none the less. They
examined it by the light of the stove with their heads together, and
discussed when it would be wise to try it. How do doctors tell when a
man may stand on his broken leg? She had a vague impression you must
wait six weeks, but she could not remember why she fixed upon that time.

"It seems a decent interval," said Trafford. "We'll try it."

She had contrived a crutch for him against that momentous experiment,
and he sat up in his bunk, pillowed up by a sack and her rugs, and
whittled it smooth, and padded the fork with the skin of that
slaughtered wolverine, poor victim of hunger!--while she knelt by the
stove feeding it with logs, and gave him an account of their position.

"We're somewhere in the middle of December," she said, "somewhere
between the twelfth and the fourteenth,--yes! I'm as out as that!--and
I've handled the stores pretty freely. So did that little beast until I
got him." She nodded at the skin in his hand. "I don't see myself
shooting much now, and so far I've not been able to break the ice to
fish. It's too much for me. Even if it isn't too late to fish. This book
we've got describes barks and mosses, and that will help, but if we
stick here until the birds and things come, we're going to be precious
short. We may have to last right into July. I've plans--but it may come
to that. We ought to ration all the regular stuff, and trust to luck for
a feast. The rations!--I don't know what they'll come to."

"Right O," said Trafford admiring her capable gravity. "Let's ration."

"Marjorie," he asked abruptly, "are you sorry we came?"

Her answer came unhesitatingly. "_No!_"

"Nor I."

He paused. "I've found you out," he said. "Dear dirty living thing!...
You _are_ dirty, you know."

"I've found myself," she answered, thinking. "I feel as if I've never
loved you until this hut. I suppose I have in my way----"

"Lugano," he suggested. "Don't let's forget good things, Marjorie. Oh!
And endless times!"

"Oh, of course! As for _that_----! But now--now you're in my bones. We
were just two shallow, pretty, young things--loving. It was sweet,
dear--sweet as youth--but not this. Unkempt and weary--then one
understands love. I suppose I _am_ dirty. Think of it! I've lugged you
through the snow till my shoulders chafed and bled. I cried with pain,
and kept on lugging----Oh, my dear! my dear!" He kissed her hair. "I've
held you in my arms to keep you from freezing. (I'd have frozen myself
first.) We've got to starve together perhaps before the end.... Dear, if
I could make you, you should eat me.... I'm--I'm beginning to
understand. I've had a light. I've begun to understand. I've begun to
see what life has been for you, and how I've wasted--wasted."

"_We've_ wasted!"

"No," she said, "it was I."

She sat back on the floor and regarded him. "You don't remember things
you said--when you were delirious?"

"No," he answered. "What did I say?"

"Nothing?"

"Nothing clearly. What did I say?"

"It doesn't matter. No, indeed. Only you made me understand. You'd never
have told me. You've always been a little weak with me there. But it's
plain to me why we didn't keep our happiness, why we were estranged. If
we go back alive, we go back--all that settled for good and all."

"What?"

"That discord. My dear, I've been a fool, selfish, ill-trained and
greedy. We've both been floundering about, but I've been the mischief of
it. Yes, I've been the trouble. Oh, it's had to be so. What are we
women--half savages, half pets, unemployed things of greed and
desire--and suddenly we want all the rights and respect of souls! I've
had your life in my hands from the moment we met together. If I had
known.... It isn't that we can make you or guide you--I'm not pretending
to be an inspiration--but--but we can release you. We needn't press upon
you; we can save you from the instincts and passions that try to waste
you altogether on us.... Yes, I'm beginning to understand. Oh, my child,
my husband, my man! You talked of your wasted life!... I've been
thinking--since first we left the Mersey. I've begun to see what it is
to be a woman. For the first time in my life. We're the responsible sex.
And we've forgotten it. We think we've done a wonder if we've borne men
into the world and smiled a little, but indeed we've got to bear them
all our lives.... A woman has to be steadier than a man and more
self-sacrificing than a man, because when she plunges she does more harm
than a man.... And what does she achieve if she does plunge?
Nothing--nothing worth counting. Dresses and carpets and hangings and
pretty arrangements, excitements and satisfactions and competition and
more excitements. We can't _do_ things. We don't bring things off! And
you, you Monster! you Dream! you want to stick your hand out of all that
is and make something that isn't, begin to be! That's the man----"

"Dear old Madge!" he said, "there's all sorts of women and all sorts of
men."

"Well, our sort of women, then, and our sort of men."

"I doubt even that."

"I don't. I've found my place. I've been making my master my servant. We
women--we've been looting all the good things in the world, and helping
nothing. You've carried me on your back until you are loathing life.
I've been making you fetch and carry for me, love me, dress me, keep me
and my children, minister to my vanities and greeds.... No; let me go
on. I'm so penitent, my dear, so penitent I want to kneel down here and
marry you all over again, heal up your broken life and begin again."...

She paused.

"One doesn't begin again," she said. "But I want to take a new turn.
Dear, you're still only a young man; we've thirty or forty years before
us--forty years perhaps or more.... What shall we do with our years?
We've loved, we've got children. What remains? Here we can plan it out,
work it out, day after day. What shall we do with our lives and life?
Tell me, make me your partner; it's you who know, what are we doing with
life?"


§ 13

What are we doing with life?

That question overtakes a reluctant and fugitive humanity. The Traffords
were but two of a great scattered host of people, who, obeying all the
urgencies of need and desire, struggling, loving, begetting, enjoying,
do nevertheless find themselves at last unsatisfied. They have lived the
round of experience, achieved all that living creatures have sought
since the beginning of the world--security and gratification and
offspring--and they find themselves still strong, unsatiated, with power
in their hands and years before them, empty of purpose. What are they to
do?

The world presents such a spectacle of evasion as it has never seen
before. Never was there such a boiling over and waste of vital energy.
The Sphinx of our opportunity calls for the uttermost powers of heart
and brain to read its riddle--the new, astonishing riddle of excessive
power. A few give themselves to those honourable adventures that extend
the range of man, they explore untravelled countries, climb remote
mountains, conduct researches, risk life and limb in the fantastic
experiments of flight, and a monstrous outpouring of labour and material
goes on in the strenuous preparation for needless and improbable wars.
The rest divert themselves with the dwarfish satisfactions of recognized
vice, the meagre routine of pleasure, or still more timidly with sport
and games--those new unscheduled perversions of the soul.

We are afraid of our new selves. The dawn of human opportunity appals
us. Few of us dare look upon this strange light of freedom and limitless
resources that breaks upon our world.

"Think," said Trafford, "while we sit here in this dark hut--think of
the surplus life that wastes itself in the world for sheer lack of
direction. Away there in England--I suppose that is westward"--he
pointed--"there are thousands of men going out to-day to shoot. Think of
the beautifully made guns, the perfected ammunition, the excellent
clothes, the army of beaters, the carefully preserved woodland, the
admirable science of it--all for that idiot massacre of half-tame birds!
Just because man once had need to be a hunter! Think of the others
again--golfing. Think of the big, elaborate houses from which they come,
the furnishings, the service. And the women--dressing! Perpetually
dressing. _You_, Marjorie--you've done nothing but dress since we
married. No, let me abuse you, dear! It's insane, you know! You dress
your minds a little to talk amusingly, you spread your minds out to
backgrounds, to households, picturesque and delightful gardens,
nurseries. Those nurseries! Think of our tremendously cherished and
educated children! And when they grow up, what have we got for them? A
feast of futility...."


§ 14

On the evening of the day when Trafford first tried to stand upon his
leg, they talked far into the night. It had been a great and eventful
day for them, full of laughter and exultation. He had been at first
ridiculously afraid; he had clung to her almost childishly, and she had
held him about the body with his weight on her strong right arm and his
right arm in her left hand, concealing her own dread of a collapse under
a mask of taunting courage. The crutch had proved admirable. "It's my
silly knees!" Trafford kept on saying. "The leg's all right, but I get
put out by my silly knees."

They made the day a feast, a dinner of two whole day's rations and a
special soup instead of supper. "The birds will come," they explained to
each other, "ducks and geese, long before May. May, you know, is the
latest."

Marjorie confessed the habit of sharing his pipe was growing on her.
"What shall we do in Tyburnia!" she said, and left it to the
imagination.

"If ever we get back there," he said.

"I don't much fancy kicking a skirt before my shins again--and I'll be a
black, coarse woman down to my neck at dinner for years to come!..."

Then, as he lay back in his bunk and she crammed the stove with fresh
boughs and twigs of balsam that filled the little space about them with
warmth and with a faint, sweet smell of burning and with flitting red
reflections, he took up a talk about religion they had begun some days
before.

"You see," he said, "I've always believed in Salvation. I suppose a
man's shy of saying so--even to his wife. But I've always believed more
or less distinctly that there was something up to which a life
worked--always. It's been rather vague, I'll admit. I don't think I've
ever believed in individual salvation. You see, I feel these are deep
things, and the deeper one gets the less individual one becomes. That's
why one thinks of those things in darkness and loneliness--and finds
them hard to tell. One has an individual voice, or an individual
birthmark, or an individualized old hat, but the soul--the soul's
different.... It isn't me talking to you when it comes to that.... This
question of what we are doing with life isn't a question to begin with
for you and me as ourselves, but for you and me as mankind. Am I
spinning it too fine, Madge?"

"No," she said, intent; "go on."

"You see, when we talk rations here, Marjorie, it's ourselves, but when
we talk religion--it's mankind. You've either got to be Everyman in
religion or leave it alone. That's my idea. It's no more presumptuous to
think for the race than it is for a beggar to pray--though that means
going right up to God and talking to Him. Salvation's a collective thing
and a mystical thing--or there isn't any. Fancy the Almighty and me
sitting up and keeping Eternity together! God and R. A. G. Trafford,
F.R.S.--that's silly. Fancy a man in number seven boots, and a
tailor-made suit in the nineteen-fourteen fashion, sitting before God!
That's caricature. But God and Man! That's sense, Marjorie."...

He stopped and stared at her.

Marjorie sat red-lit, regarding him. "Queer things you say!" she said.
"So much of this I've never thought out. I wonder why I've never done
so.... Too busy with many things, I suppose. But go on and tell me more
of these secrets you've kept from me!"

"Well, we've got to talk of these things as mankind--or just leave them
alone, and shoot pheasants."...

"If I could shoot a pheasant now!" whispered Marjorie, involuntarily.

"And where do we stand? What do we need--I mean the whole race of
us--kings and beggars together? You know, Marjorie, it's this,--it's
Understanding. That's what mankind has got to, the realization that it
doesn't understand, that it can't express, that it's purblind. We
haven't got eyes for those greater things, but we've got the
promise--the intimation of eyes. We've come out of an unsuspecting
darkness, brute animal darkness, not into sight, that's been the
mistake, but into a feeling of illumination, into a feeling of light
shining through our opacity....

"I feel that man has now before all things to know. That's his supreme
duty, to feel, realize, see, understand, express himself to the utmost
limits of his power."

He sat up, speaking very earnestly to her, and in that flickering light
she realized for the first time how thin he had become, how bright and
hollow his eyes, his hair was long over his eyes, and a rough beard
flowed down to his chest. "All the religions," he said, "all the
philosophies, have pretended to achieve too much. We've no language yet
for religious truth or metaphysical truth; we've no basis yet broad
enough and strong enough on which to build. Religion and philosophy have
been impudent and quackish--quackish! They've been like the doctors, who
have always pretended they could cure since the beginning of things,
cure everything, and to this day even they haven't got more than the
beginnings of knowledge on which to base a cure. They've lacked
humility, they've lacked the honour to say they didn't know; the
priests took things of wood and stone, the philosophers took little odd
arrangements of poor battered words, metaphors, analogies, abstractions,
and said: "That's it! Think of their silly old Absolute,--ab-solutus, an
untied parcel. I heard Haldane at the Aristotelian once, go on for an
hour--no! it was longer than an hour--as glib and slick as a well-oiled
sausage-machine, about the different sorts of Absolute, and not a soul
of us laughed out at him! The vanity of such profundities! They've no
faith, faith in patience, faith to wait for the coming of God. And since
we don't know God, since we don't know His will with us, isn't it plain
that all our lives should be a search for Him and it? Can anything else
matter,--after we are free from necessity? That is the work now that is
before all mankind, to attempt understanding--by the perpetual finding
of thought and the means of expression, by perpetual extension and
refinement of science, by the research that every artist makes for
beauty and significance in his art, by the perpetual testing and
destruction and rebirth under criticism of all these things, and by a
perpetual extension of this intensifying wisdom to more minds and more
minds and more, till all men share in it, and share in the making of
it.... There you have my creed, Marjorie; there you have the very marrow
of me."...

He became silent.

"Will you go back to your work?" she said, abruptly. "Go back to your
laboratory?"

He stared at her for a moment without speaking. "Never," he said at
last.

"But," she said, and the word dropped from her like a stone that falls
down a well....

"My dear," he said, at last, "I've thought of that. But since I left
that dear, dusty little laboratory, and all those exquisite subtle
things--I've lived. I've left that man seven long years behind me. Some
other man must go on--I think some younger man--with the riddles I found
to work on then. I've grown--into something different. It isn't how
atoms swing with one another, or why they build themselves up so and not
so, that matters any more to me. I've got you and all the world in which
we live, and a new set of riddles filling my mind, how thought swings
about thought, how one man attracts his fellows, how the waves of motive
and conviction sweep through a crowd and all the little drifting
crystallizations of spirit with spirit and all the repulsions and eddies
and difficulties, that one can catch in that turbulent confusion. I want
to do a new sort of work now altogether.... Life has swamped me once,
but I don't think it will get me under again;--I want to study men."

He paused and she waited, with a face aglow.

"I want to go back to watch and think--and I suppose write. I believe I
shall write criticism. But everything that matters is criticism!... I
want to get into contact with the men who are thinking. I don't mean to
meet them necessarily, but to get into the souls of their books. Every
writer who has anything to say, every artist who matters, is the
stronger for every man or woman who responds to him. That's the great
work--the Reality. I want to become a part of this stuttering attempt to
express, I want at least to resonate, even if I do not help.... And you
with me, Marjorie--you with me! Everything I write I want you to see and
think about. I want you to read as I read.... Now after so long, now
that, now that we've begun to talk, you know, talk again----"

Something stopped his voice. Something choked them both into silence. He
held out a lean hand, and she shuffled on her knees to take it....

"Don't please make me," she stumbled through her thoughts, "one of those
little parasitic, parroting wives--don't pretend too much about
me--because you want me with you----. Don't forget a woman isn't a man."

"Old Madge," he said, "you and I have got to march together. Didn't I
love you from the first, from that time when I was a boy examiner and
you were a candidate girl--because your mind was clear?"

"And we will go back," she whispered, "with a work----"

"With a purpose," he said.

She disengaged herself from his arm, and sat close to him upon the
floor. "I think I can see what you will do," she said. She mused. "For
the first time I begin to see things as they may be for us. I begin to
see a life ahead. For the very first time."

Queer ideas came drifting into her head. Suddenly she cried out sharply
in that high note he loved. "Good heavens!" she said. "The absurdity!
The infinite absurdity!"

"But what?"

"I might have married Will Magnet----. That's all."

She sprang to her feet. There came a sound of wind outside, a shifting
of snow on the roof, and the door creaked. "Half-past eleven," she
exclaimed looking at the watch that hung in the light of the stove door.
"I don't want to sleep yet; do you? I'm going to brew some tea--make a
convivial drink. And then we will go on talking. It's so good talking to
you. So good!... I've an idea! Don't you think on this special day, it
might run to a biscuit?" Her face was keenly anxious. He nodded. "One
biscuit each," she said, trying to rob her voice of any note of
criminality. "Just one, you know, won't matter."

She hovered for some moments close to the stove before she went into the
arctic corner that contained the tin of tea. "If we can really live like
that!" she said. "When we are home again."

"Why not?" he answered.

She made no answer, but went across for the tea....

He turned his head at the sound of the biscuit tin and watched her put
out the precious discs.

"I shall have another pipe," he proclaimed, with an agreeable note of
excess. "Thank heaven for unstinted tobacco...."

And now Marjorie's mind was teaming with thoughts of this new conception
of a life lived for understanding. As she went about the preparation of
the tea, her vividly concrete imagination was active with the
realization of the life they would lead on their return. She could not
see it otherwise than framed in a tall, fine room, a study, a study in
sombre tones, with high, narrow, tall, dignified bookshelves and rich
deep green curtains veiling its windows. There should be a fireplace of
white marble, very plain and well proportioned, with furnishings of old
brass, and a big desk towards the window beautifully lit by electric
light, with abundant space for papers to lie. And she wanted some touch
of the wilderness about it; a skin perhaps....

The tea was still infusing when she had determined upon an enormous
paper-weight of that iridescent Labradorite that had been so astonishing
a feature of the Green River Valley. She would have it polished on one
side only--the other should be rough to show the felspar in its natural
state....

It wasn't that she didn't feel and understand quite fully the intention
and significance of all he had said, but that in these symbols of
texture and equipment her mind quite naturally clothed itself. And
while this room was coming into anticipatory being in her mind, she was
making the tea very deftly and listening to Trafford's every word.


§ 15

That talk marked an epoch to Marjorie. From that day forth her
imagination began to shape a new, ordered and purposeful life for
Trafford and herself in London, a life not altogether divorced from
their former life, but with a faith sustaining it and aims controlling
it. She had always known of the breadth and power of his mind, but now
as he talked of what he might do, what interests might converge and give
results through him, it seemed she really knew him for the first time.
In his former researches, so technical and withdrawn, she had seen
little of his mind in action: now he was dealing in his own fashion with
things she could clearly understand. There were times when his talk
affected her like that joy of light one has in emerging into sunshine
from a long and tedious cave. He swept things together, flashed
unsuspected correlations upon her intelligence, smashed and scattered
absurd yet venerated conventions of thought, made undreamt-of courses of
action visible in a flare of luminous necessity. And she could follow
him and help him. Just as she had hampered him and crippled him, so now
she could release him--she fondled that word. She found a preposterous
image in her mind that she hid like a disgraceful secret, that she tried
to forget, and yet its stupendous, its dreamlike absurdity had something
in it that shaped her delight as nothing else could do; she was, she
told herself--hawking with an archangel!...

These were her moods of exaltation. And she was sure she had never loved
her man before, that this was indeed her beginning. It was as if she had
just found him....

Perhaps, she thought, true lovers keep on finding each other all through
their lives.

And he too had discovered her. All the host of Marjories he had known,
the shining, delightful, seductive, wilful, perplexing aspects that had
so filled her life, gave place altogether for a time to this steady-eyed
woman, lean and warm-wrapped with the valiant heart and the
frost-roughened skin. What a fine, strong, ruddy thing she was! How glad
he was for this wild adventure in the wilderness, if only because it had
made him lie among the rocks and think of her and wait for her and
despair of her life and God, and at last see her coming back to him,
flushed with effort and calling his name to him out of that whirlwind of
snow.... And there was at least one old memory mixed up with all these
new and overmastering impressions, the memory of her clear unhesitating
voice as it had stabbed into his life again long years ago, minute and
bright in the telephone: "_It's me, you know. It's Marjorie!_"

Perhaps after all she had not wasted a moment of his life, perhaps every
issue between them had been necessary, and it was good altogether to be
turned from the study of crystals to the study of men and women....

And now both their minds were Londonward, where all the tides and
driftage and currents of human thought still meet and swirl together.
They were full of what they would do when they got back. Marjorie
sketched that study to him--in general terms and without the
paper-weight--and began to shape the world she would have about it. She
meant to be his squaw and body-servant first of all, and then--a
mother. Children, she said, are none the worse for being kept a little
out of focus. And he was rapidly planning out his approach to the new
questions to which he was now to devote his life. "One wants something
to hold the work together," he said, and projected a book. "One cannot
struggle at large for plain statement and copious and free and
courageous statement, one needs a positive attack."

He designed a book, which he might write if only for the definition it
would give him and with no ultimate publication, which was to be called:
"The Limits of Language as a Means of Expression." ... It was to be a
pragmatist essay, a sustained attempt to undermine the confidence of all
that scholasticism and logic chopping which still lingers like the
_sequelæ_ of a disease in our University philosophy. "Those duffers sit
in their studies and make a sort of tea of dry old words--and think
they're distilling the spirit of wisdom," he said.

He proliferated titles for a time, and settled at last on "From Realism
to Reality." He wanted to get at that at once; it fretted him to have to
hang in the air, day by day, for want of books to quote and opponents to
lance and confute. And he wanted to see pictures, too and plays, read
novels he had heard of and never read, in order to verify or correct the
ideas that were seething in his mind about the qualities of artistic
expression. His thought had come out to a conviction that the line to
wider human understandings lies through a huge criticism and cleaning up
of the existing methods of formulation, as a preliminary to the wider
and freer discussion of those religious and social issues our generation
still shrinks from. "It's grotesque," he said, "and utterly true that
the sanity and happiness of all the world lies in its habits of
generalization." There was not even paper for him to make notes or
provisional drafts of the new work. He hobbled about the camp fretting
at these deprivations.

"Marjorie," he said, "we've done our job. Why should we wait here on
this frosty shelf outside the world? My leg's getting sounder--if it
wasn't for that feeling of ice in it. Why shouldn't we make another
sledge from the other bunk and start down--"

"To Hammond?"

"Why not?"

"But the way?"

"The valley would guide us. We could do four hours a day before we had
to camp. I'm not sure we couldn't try the river. We could drag and carry
all our food...."

She looked down the wide stretches of the valley. There was the hill
they had christened Marjorie Ridge. At least it was familiar. Every
night before nightfall if they started there would be a fresh camping
place to seek among the snow-drifts, a great heap of wood to cut to last
the night. Suppose his leg gave out--when they were already some days
away, so that he could no longer go on or she drag him back to the
stores. Plainly there would be nothing for it then but to lie down and
die together....

And a sort of weariness had come to her as a consequence of two months
of half-starved days, not perhaps a failure so much as a reluctance of
spirit.

"Of course," she said, with a new aspect drifting before her mind,
"then--we _could_ eat. We _could_ feed up before we started. We could
feast almost!"


§ 16

"While you were asleep the other night," Trafford began one day as they
sat spinning out their mid-day meal, "I was thinking how badly I had
expressed myself when I talked to you the other day, and what a queer,
thin affair I made of the plans I wanted to carry out. As a matter of
fact, they're neither queer nor thin, but they are unreal in comparison
with the common things of everyday life, hunger, anger, all the
immediate desires. They must be. They only begin when those others are
at peace. It's hard to set out these things; they're complicated and
subtle, and one cannot simplify without falsehood. I don't want to
simplify. The world has gone out of its way time after time through
simplifications and short cuts. Save us from epigrams! And when one
thinks over what one has said, at a little distance,--one wants to go
back to it, and say it all again. I seem to be not so much thinking
things out as reviving and developing things I've had growing in my mind
ever since we met. It's as though an immense reservoir of thought had
filled up in my mind at last and was beginning to trickle over and break
down the embankment between us. This conflict that has been going on
between our life together and my--my intellectual life; it's only just
growing clear in my own mind. Yet it's just as if one turned up a light
on something that had always been there....

"It's a most extraordinary thing to think out, Marjorie, that
antagonism. Our love has kept us so close together and always our
purposes have been--like that." He spread divergent hands. "I've
speculated again and again whether there isn't something incurably
antagonistic between women (that's _you_ generalized, Marjorie) and men
(that's me) directly we pass beyond the conditions of the
individualistic struggle. I believe every couple of lovers who've ever
married have felt that strain. Yet it's not a difference in kind between
us but degree. The big conflict between us has a parallel in a little
internal conflict that goes on; there's something of man in every woman
and a touch of the feminine in every man. But you're nearer as woman to
the immediate personal life of sense and reality than I am as man. It's
been so ever since the men went hunting and fighting and the women kept
hut, tended the children and gathered roots in the little cultivation
close at hand. It's been so perhaps since the female carried and suckled
her child and distinguished one male from another. It may be it will
always be so. Men were released from that close, continuous touch with
physical necessities long before women were. It's only now that women
begin to be released. For ages now men have been wandering from field
and home and city, over the hills and far away, in search of adventures
and fresh ideas and the wells of mystery beyond the edge of the world,
but it's only now that the woman comes with them too. Our difference
isn't a difference in kind, old Marjorie; it's the difference between
the old adventurer and the new feet upon the trail."

"We've got to come," said Marjorie.

"Oh! you've got to come. No good to be pioneers if the race does not
follow. The women are the backbone of the race; the men are just the
individuals. Into this Labrador and into all the wild and desolate
places of thought and desire, if men come you women have to come
too--and bring the race with you. Some day."

"A long day, mate of my heart."

"Who knows how long or how far? Aren't you at any rate here, dear woman
of mine.... (_Surely you are here_)."

He went off at a tangent. "There's all those words that seem to mean
something and then don't seem to mean anything, that keep shifting to
and fro from the deepest significance to the shallowest of claptrap,
Socialism, Christianity.... You know,--they aren't anything really, as
yet; they are something trying to be.... Haven't I said that before,
Marjorie?"

She looked round at him. "You said something like that when you were
delirious," she answered, after a little pause. "It's one of the ideas
that you're struggling with. You go on, old man, and _talk_. We've
months--for repetitions."

"Well, I mean that all these things are seeking after a sort of
co-operation that's greater than our power even of imaginative
realization; that's what I mean. The kingdom of Heaven, the communion of
saints, the fellowship of men; these are things like high peaks far out
of the common life of every day, shining things that madden certain
sorts of men to climb. Certain sorts of us! I'm a religious man, I'm a
socialistic man. These calls are more to me than my daily bread. I've
got something in me more generalizing than most men. I'm more so than
many other men and most other women, I'm more socialistic than you...."

"You know, Marjorie, I've always felt you're a finer individual than me,
I've never had a doubt of it. You're more beautiful by far than I, woman
for my man. You've a keener appetite for things, a firmer grip on the
substance of life. I love to see you do things, love to see you move,
love to watch your hands; you've cleverer hands than mine by far.... And
yet--I'm a deeper and bigger thing than you. I reach up to something you
don't reach up to.... You're in life--and I'm a little out of it, I'm
like one of those fish that began to be amphibian, I go out into
something where you don't follow--where you hardly begin to follow.

"That's the real perplexity between thousands of men and women....

"It seems to me that the primitive socialism of Christianity and all the
stuff of modern socialism that matters is really aiming--almost
unconsciously, I admit at times--at one simple end, at the release of
the human spirit from the individualistic struggle----

"You used 'release' the other day, Marjorie? Of course, I remember. It's
queer how I go on talking after you have understood."

"It was just a flash," said Marjorie. "We have intimations. Neither of
us really understands. We're like people climbing a mountain in a mist,
that thins out for a moment and shows valleys and cities, and then
closes in again, before we can recognize them or make out where we are."

Trafford thought. "When I talk to you, I've always felt I mustn't be too
vague. And the very essence of all this is a vague thing, something we
shall never come nearer to it in all our lives than to see it as a
shadow and a glittering that escapes again into a mist.... And yet it's
everything that matters, everything, the only thing that matters truly
and for ever through the whole range of life. And we have to serve it
with the keenest thought, the utmost patience, inordinate veracity....

"The practical trouble between your sort and my sort, Marjorie, is the
trouble between faith and realization. You demand the outcome. Oh! and I
hate to turn aside and realize. I've had to do it for seven years.
Damnable years! Men of my sort want to understand. We want to
understand, and you ask us to make. We want to understand atoms, ions,
molecules, refractions. You ask us to make rubber and diamonds. I
suppose it's right that incidentally we should make rubber and
diamonds. Finally, I warn you, we will make rubber unnecessary and
diamonds valueless. And again we want to understand how people react
upon one another to produce social consequences, and you ask us to put
it at once into a draft bill for the reform of something or other. I
suppose life lies between us somewhere, we're the two poles of truth
seeking and truth getting; with me alone it would be nothing but a
luminous dream, with you nothing but a scramble in which sooner or later
all the lamps would be upset.... But it's ever too much of a scramble
yet, and ever too little of a dream. All our world over there is full of
the confusion and wreckage of premature realizations. There's no real
faith in thought and knowledge yet. Old necessity has driven men so hard
that they still rush with a wild urgency--though she goads no more.
Greed and haste, and if, indeed, we seem to have a moment's breathing
space, then the Gawdsaker tramples us under."

"My dear!" cried Marjorie, with a sharp note of amusement. "What _is_ a
Gawdsaker?"

"Oh," said Trafford, "haven't you heard that before? He's the person who
gets excited by any deliberate discussion and gets up wringing his hands
and screaming, 'For Gawd's sake, let's _do_ something _now!_' I think
they used it first for Pethick Lawrence, that man who did so much to run
the old militant suffragettes and burke the proper discussion of woman's
future. You know. You used to have 'em in Chelsea--with their hats. Oh!
'Gawdsaking' is the curse of all progress, the hectic consumption that
kills a thousand good beginnings. You see it in small things and in
great. You see it in my life; Gawdsaking turned my life-work to cash and
promotions, Gawdsaking----Look at the way the aviators took to flying
for prizes and gate-money, the way pure research is swamped by
endowments for technical applications! Then that poor ghost-giant of an
idea the socialists have;--it's been treated like one of those unborn
lambs they kill for the fine skin of it, made into results before ever
it was alive. Was there anything more pitiful? The first great dream and
then the last phase! when your Aunt Plessington and the district
visitors took and used it as a synonym for Payment in Kind.... It's
natural, I suppose, for people to be eager for results, personal and
immediate results--the last lesson of life is patience. Naturally they
want reality, naturally! They want the individual life, something to
handle and feel and use and live by, something of their very own before
they die, and they want it now. But the thing that matters for the race,
Marjorie, is a very different thing; it is to get the emerging thought
process clear and to keep it clear--and to let those other hungers go.
We've got to go back to England on the side of that delay, that arrest
of interruption, that detached, observant, synthesizing process of the
mind, that solvent of difficulties and obsolescent institutions, which
is the reality of collective human life. We've got to go back on the
side of pure science--literature untrammeled by the preconceptions of
the social schemers--art free from the urgency of immediate utility--and
a new, a regal, a god-like sincerity in philosophy. And, above all,
we've got to stop this Jackdaw buying of yours, my dear, which is the
essence of all that is wrong with the world, this snatching at
everything, which loses everything worth having in life, this greedy
confused realization of our accumulated resources! You're going to be a
non-shopping woman now. You're to come out of Bond Street, you and your
kind, like Israel leaving the Egyptian flesh-pots. You're going to be
my wife and my mate.... Less of this service of things. Investments in
comfort, in security, in experience, yes; but not just spending any
more...."

He broke off abruptly with: "I want to go back and begin."

"Yes," said Marjorie, "we will go back," and saw minutely and distantly,
and yet as clearly and brightly as if she looked into a concave mirror,
that tall and dignified study, a very high room indeed, with a man
writing before a fine, long-curtained window and a great lump of
rich-glowing Labradorite upon his desk before him holding together an
accumulation of written sheets....

She knew exactly the shop in Oxford Street where the stuff for the
curtains might be best obtained.


§ 17

One night Marjorie had been sitting musing before the stove for a long
time, and suddenly she said: "I wonder if we shall fail. I wonder if we
shall get into a mess again when we are back in London.... As big a mess
and as utter a discontent as sent us here...."

Trafford was scraping out his pipe, and did not answer for some moments.
Then he remarked: "What nonsense!"

"But we shall," she said. "Everybody fails. To some extent, we are bound
to fail. Because indeed nothing is clear; nothing is a clear issue....
You know--I'm just the old Marjorie really in spite of all these
resolutions--the spendthrift, the restless, the eager. I'm a born
snatcher and shopper. We're just the same people really."

"No," he said, after thought. "You're all Labrador older."

"I always _have_ failed," she considered, "when it came to any special
temptations, Rag. I can't _stand_ not having a thing!"

He made no answer.

"And you're still the same old Rag, you know," she went on. "Who weakens
into kindness if I cry. Who likes me well-dressed. Who couldn't endure
to see me poor."

"Not a bit of it. No! I'm a very different Rag with a very different
Marjorie. Yes indeed! Things--are graver. Why!--I'm lame for life--and
I've a scar. The very _look_ of things is changed...." He stared at her
face and said: "You've hidden the looking-glass and you think I haven't
noted it----"

"It keeps on healing," she interrupted. "And if it comes to
that--where's my complexion?" She laughed. "These are just the
superficial aspects of the case."

"Nothing ever heals completely," he said, answering her first sentence,
"and nothing ever goes back to the exact place it held before. We _are_
different, you sun-bitten, frost-bitten wife of mine."...

"Character is character," said Marjorie, coming back to her point.
"Don't exaggerate conversion, dear. It's not a bit of good pretending we
shan't fall away, both of us. Each in our own manner. We shall. We
shall, old man. London is still a tempting and confusing place, and you
can't alter people fundamentally, not even by half-freezing and
half-starving them. You only alter people fundamentally by killing them
and replacing them. I shall be extravagant again and forget again, try
as I may, and you will work again and fall away again and forgive me
again. You know----It's just as though we were each of us not one
person, but a lot of persons, who sometimes meet and shout all together,
and then disperse and forget and plot against each other...."

"Oh, things will happen again," said Trafford, in her pause. "But they
will happen again with a difference--after this. With a difference.
That's the good of it all.... We've found something here--that makes
everything different.... We've found each other, too, dear wife."

She thought intently.

"I am afraid," she whispered.

"But what is there to be afraid of?"

"_Myself_."

She spoke after a little pause that seemed to hesitate. "At times I
wish--oh, passionately!--that I could pray."

"Why don't you?"

"I don't believe enough--in that. I wish I did."

Trafford thought. "People are always so exacting about prayer," he said.

"Exacting."

"You want to pray--and you can't make terms for a thing you want. I used
to think I could. I wanted God to come and demonstrate a bit.... It's no
good, Madge.... If God chooses to be silent--you must pray to the
silence. If he chooses to live in darkness, you must pray to the
night...."

"Yes," said Marjorie, "I suppose one must."

She thought. "I suppose in the end one does," she said....


§ 18

Mixed up with this entirely characteristic theology of theirs and their
elaborate planning-out of a new life in London were other strands of
thought. Queer memories of London and old times together would flash
with a peculiar brightness across their contemplation of the infinities
and the needs of mankind. Out of nowhere, quite disconnectedly, would
come the human, finite: "Do you remember----?"

Two things particularly pressed into their minds. One was the thought of
their children, and I do not care to tell how often in the day now they
calculated the time in England, and tried to guess to a half mile or
so where those young people might be and what they might be doing. "The
shops are bright for Christmas now," said Marjorie. "This year Dick was
to have had his first fireworks. I wonder if he did. I wonder if he
burnt his dear little funny stumps of fingers. I hope not."

"Oh, just a little," said Trafford. "I remember how a squib made my
glove smoulder and singed me, and how my mother kissed me for taking it
like a man. It was the best part of the adventure."

"Dick shall burn his fingers when his mother's home to kiss him. But
spare his fingers now, Dadda...."

The other topic was food.

It was only after they had been doing it for a week or so that they
remarked how steadily they gravitated to reminiscences, suggestions,
descriptions and long discussions of eatables--sound, solid eatables.
They told over the particulars of dinners they had imagined altogether
forgotten; neither hosts nor conversations seemed to matter now in the
slightest degree, but every item in the menu had its place. They nearly
quarrelled one day about _hors-d'oeuvre_. Trafford wanted to dwell on
them when Marjorie was eager for the soup.

"It's niggling with food," said Marjorie.

"Oh, but there's no reason," said Trafford, "why you shouldn't take a
lot of _hors-d'oeuvre_. Three or four sardines, and potato salad and
a big piece of smoked salmon, and some of that Norwegian herring, and so
on, and keep the olives by you to pick at. It's a beginning."

"It's--it's immoral," said Marjorie, "that's what I feel. If one needs a
whet to eat, one shouldn't eat. The proper beginning of a dinner is
soup--good, hot, _rich_ soup. Thick soup--with things in it, vegetables
and meat and things. Bits of oxtail."

"Not peas."

"No, not peas. Pea-soup is tiresome. I never knew anything one tired of
so soon. I wish we hadn't relied on it so much."

"Thick soup's all very well," said Trafford, "but how about that clear
stuff they give you in the little pavement restaurants in Paris. You
know--_Croûte-au-pot_, with lovely great crusts and big leeks and
lettuce leaves and so on! Tremendous aroma of onions, and beautiful
little beads of fat! And being a clear soup, you see what there is.
That's--interesting. Twenty-five centimes, Marjorie. Lord! I'd give a
guinea a plate for it. I'd give five pounds for one of those jolly
white-metal tureens full--you know, _full_, with little drops all over
the outside of it, and the ladle sticking out under the lid."

"Have you ever tasted turtle soup?"

"Rather. They give it you in the City. The fat's--ripping. But they're
rather precious with it, you know. For my own part, I don't think soup
should be _doled_ out. I always liked the soup we used to get at the
Harts'; but then they never give you enough, you know--not nearly
enough."

"About a tablespoonful," said Marjorie. "It's mocking an appetite."

"Still there's things to follow," said Trafford....

They discussed the proper order of a dinner very carefully. They
decided that sorbets and ices were not only unwholesome, but nasty. "In
London," said Trafford, "one's taste gets--vitiated."...

They weighed the merits of French cookery, modern international cookery,
and produced alternatives. Trafford became very eloquent about old
English food. "Dinners," said Trafford, "should be feasting, not the
mere satisfaction of a necessity. There should be--_amplitude_. I
remember a recipe for a pie; I think it was in one of those books that
man Lucas used to compile. If I remember rightly, it began with: 'Take a
swine and hew it into gobbets.' Gobbets! That's something like a
beginning. It was a big pie with tiers and tiers of things, and it kept
it up all the way in that key.... And then what could be better than
prime British-fed roast beef, reddish, just a shade on the side of
underdone, and not too finely cut. Mutton can't touch it."

"Beef is the best," she said.

"Then our English cold meat again. What can equal it? Such stuff as they
give in a good country inn, a huge joint of beef--you cut from it
yourself, you know as much as you like--with mustard, pickles, celery, a
tankard of stout, let us say. Pressed beef, such as they'll give you at
the Reform, too, that's good eating for a man. With chutney, and then
old cheese to follow. And boiled beef, with little carrots and turnips
and a dumpling or so. Eh?"

"Of course," said Marjorie, "one must do justice to a well-chosen
turkey, a _fat_ turkey."

"Or a good goose, for the matter of that--with honest, well-thought-out
stuffing. I like the little sausages round the dish of a turkey, too;
like cherubs they are, round the feet of a Madonna.... There's much to
be said for sausage, Marjorie. It concentrates."

Sausage led to Germany. "I'm not one of those patriots," he was saying
presently, "who run down other countries by way of glorifying their own.
While I was in Germany I tasted many good things. There's their
Leberwurst; it's never bad, and, at its best, it's splendid. It's only a
fool would reproach Germany with sausage. Devonshire black-pudding, of
course, is the master of any Blutwurst, but there's all those others on
the German side, Frankfurter, big reddish sausage stuff again with great
crystalline lumps of white fat. And how well they cook their rich
hashes, and the thick gravies they make. Curious, how much better the
cooking of Teutonic peoples is than the cooking of the South Europeans!
It's as if one needed a colder climate to brace a cook to his business.
The Frenchman and the Italian trifle and stimulate. It's as if they'd
never met a hungry man. No German would have thought of _soufflé_. Ugh!
it's vicious eating. There's much that's fine, though, in Austria and
Hungary. I wish I had travelled in Hungary. Do you remember how once or
twice we've lunched at that Viennese place in Regent Street, and how
they've given us stuffed Paprika, eh?"

"That was a good place. I remember there was stewed beef once with a lot
of barley--such _good_ barley!"

"Every country has its glories. One talks of the cookery of northern
countries and then suddenly one thinks of curry, with lots of rice."

"And lots of chicken!"

"And lots of hot curry powder, _very_ hot. And look at America! Here's a
people who haven't any of them been out of Europe for centuries, and yet
they have as different a table as you could well imagine. There's a kind
of fish, planked shad, that they cook on resinous wood--roast it, I
suppose. It's substantial, like nothing else in the world. And how
good, too, with turkey are sweet potatoes. Then they have such a
multitude of cereal things; stuff like their buckwheat cakes, all
swimming in golden syrup. And Indian corn, again!"

"Of course, corn is being anglicized. I've often given you
corn--latterly, before we came away."

"That sort of separated grain--out of tins. Like chicken's food! It's
not the real thing. You should eat corn on the cob--American fashion!
It's fine. I had it when I was in the States. You know, you take it up
in your hands by both ends--you've seen the cobs?--and gnaw."

The craving air of Labrador at a temperature of -20° Fahrenheit, and
methodically stinted rations, make great changes in the outward
qualities of the mind. "_I'd_ like to do that," said Marjorie.

Her face flushed a little at a guilty thought, her eyes sparkled. She
leant forward and spoke in a confidential undertone.

"_I'd--I'd like to eat a mutton chop like that_," said Marjorie.


§ 20

One morning Marjorie broached something she had had on her mind for
several days.

"Old man," she said, "I can't stand it any longer. I'm going to thaw my
scissors and cut your hair.... And then you'll have to trim that beard
of yours."

"You'll have to dig out that looking-glass."

"I know," said Marjorie. She looked at him. "You'll never be a pretty
man again," she said. "But there's a sort of wild splendour.... And I
love every inch and scrap of you...."

Their eyes met. "We're a thousand deeps now below the look of things,"
said Trafford. "We'd love each other minced."

She broke into that smiling laugh of hers. "Oh! it won't come to
_that_," she said. "Trust my housekeeping!"



CHAPTER THE FIFTH

THE TRAIL TO THE SEA


§ 1

One astonishing afternoon in January a man came out of the wilderness to
Lonely Hut. He was a French-Indian half-breed, a trapper up and down the
Green River and across the Height of Land to Sea Lake. He arrived in a
sort of shy silence, and squatted amiably on a log to thaw. "Much snow,"
he said, "and little fur."

After he had sat at their fire for an hour and eaten and drunk, his
purpose in coming thawed out. He explained he had just come on to them
to see how they were. He was, he said, a planter furring; he had a line
of traps, about a hundred and twenty miles in length. The nearest trap
in his path before he turned northward over the divide was a good forty
miles down the river. He had come on from there. Just to have a look.
His name, he said, was Louis Napoleon Partington. He had carried a big
pack, a rifle and a dead marten,--they lay beside him--and out of his
shapeless mass of caribou skins and woolen clothing and wrappings,
peeped a genial, oily, brown face, very dirty, with a strand of
blue-black hair across one eye, irregular teeth in its friendly smile,
and little, squeezed-up eyes.

Conversation developed. There had been doubts of his linguistic range at
first, but he had an understanding expression, and his English seemed
guttural rather than really bad.

He was told the tremendous story of Trafford's leg; was shown it, and
felt it; he interpolated thick and whistling noises to show how
completely he followed their explanations, and then suddenly he began a
speech that made all his earlier taciturnity seem but the dam of a great
reservoir of mixed and partly incomprehensible English. He complimented
Marjorie so effusively and relentlessly and shamelessly as to produce a
pause when he had done. "Yes," he said, and nodded to button up the
whole. He sucked his pipe, well satisfied with his eloquence. Trafford
spoke in his silence. "We are coming down," he said.

("I thought, perhaps----" whispered Louis Napoleon.)

"Yes," said Trafford, "we are coming down with you. Why not? We can get
a sledge over the snow now? It's hard? I mean a flat sledge--like
_this_. See? Like this." He got up and dragged Marjorie's old
arrangement into view. "We shall bring all the stuff we can down with
us, grub, blankets--not the tent, it's too bulky; we'll leave a lot of
the heavy gear."

"You'd have to leave the tent," said Louis Napoleon.

"I _said_ leave the tent."

"And you'd have to leave ... some of those tins."

"Nearly all of them."

"And the ammunition, there;--except just a little."

"Just enough for the journey down."

"Perhaps a gun?"

"No, not a gun. Though, after all,--well, we'd return one of the guns.
Give it you to bring back here."

"Bring back here?"

"If you liked."

For some moments Louis Napoleon was intently silent. When he spoke his
voice was guttural with emotion. "After," he said thoughtfully and
paused, and then resolved to have it over forthwith, "all you leave will
be mine? Eh?"

Trafford said that was the idea.

Louis Napoleon's eye brightened, but his face preserved its Indian calm.

"I will take you right to Hammond's," he said, "Where they have dogs.
And then I can come back here...."


§ 2

They had talked out nearly every particular of their return before they
slept that night; they yarned away three hours over the first generous
meal that any one of them had eaten for many weeks. Louis Napoleon
stayed in the hut as a matter of course, and reposed with snores and
choking upon Marjorie's sledge and within a yard of her. It struck her
as she lay awake and listened that the housemaids in Sussex Square would
have thought things a little congested for a lady's bedroom, and then
she reflected that after all it wasn't much worse than a crowded
carriage in an all-night train from Switzerland. She tried to count how
many people there had been in that compartment, and failed. How stuffy
that had been--the smell of cheese and all! And with that, after a dream
that she was whaling and had harpooned a particularly short-winded whale
she fell very peacefully into oblivion.

Next day was spent in the careful preparation of the two sledges. They
intended to take a full provision for six weeks, although they reckoned
that with good weather they ought to be down at Hammond's in four.

The day after was Sunday, and Louis Napoleon would not look at the
sledges or packing. Instead he held a kind of religious service which
consisted partly in making Trafford read aloud out of a very oily old
New Testament he produced, a selected passage from the book of
Corinthians, and partly in moaning rather than singing several hymns. He
was rather disappointed that they did not join in with him. In the
afternoon he heated some water, went into the tent with it and it would
appear partially washed his face. In the evening, after they had supped,
he discussed religion, being curious by this time about their beliefs
and procedure.

He spread his mental and spiritual equipment before them very artlessly.
Their isolation and their immense concentration on each other had made
them sensitive to personal quality, and they listened to the broken
English and the queer tangential starts into new topics of this dirty
mongrel creature with the keenest appreciation of its quality. It was
inconsistent, miscellaneous, simple, honest, and human. It was as
touching as the medley in the pocket of a dead schoolboy. He was
superstitious and sceptical and sensual and spiritual, and very, very
earnest. The things he believed, even if they were just beliefs about
the weather or drying venison or filling pipes, he believed with
emotion. He flushed as he told them. For all his intellectual muddle
they felt he knew how to live honestly and die if need be very finely.

He was more than a little distressed at their apparent ignorance of the
truths of revealed religion as it is taught in the Moravian schools upon
the coast, and indeed it was manifest that he had had far more careful
and infinitely more sincere religious teaching than either Trafford or
Marjorie. For a time the missionary spirit inspired him, and then he
quite forgot his solicitude for their conversion in a number of
increasingly tall anecdotes about hunters and fishermen, illustrating at
first the extreme dangers of any departure from a rigid Sabbatarianism,
but presently becoming just stories illustrating the uncertainty of
life. Thence he branched off to the general topic of life upon the coast
and the relative advantages of "planter" and fisherman.

And then with a kindling eye he spoke of women, and how that some day he
would marry. His voice softened, and he addressed himself more
particularly to Marjorie. He didn't so much introduce the topic of the
lady as allow the destined young woman suddenly to pervade his
discourse. She was, it seemed, a servant, an Esquimaux girl at the
Moravian Mission station at Manivikovik. He had been plighted to her for
nine years. He described a gramophone he had purchased down at Port
Dupré and brought back to her three hundred miles up the coast--it
seemed to Marjorie an odd gift for an Esquimaux maiden--and he gave his
views upon its mechanism. He said God was with the man who invented the
gramophone "truly." They would have found one a very great relief to the
tediums of their sojourn at Lonely Hut. The gramophone he had given his
betrothed possessed records of the Rev. Capel Gumm's preaching and of
Madame Melba's singing, a revival hymn called "Sowing the Seed," and a
comic song--they could not make out his pronunciation of the title--that
made you die with laughter. "It goes gobble, gobble, gobble," he said,
with a solemn appreciative reflection of those distant joys.

"It's good to be jolly at times," he said with his bright eyes scanning
Marjorie's face a little doubtfully, as if such ideas were better left
for week-day expression.


§ 3

Their return was a very different journey from the toilsome ascent of
the summer. An immense abundance of snow masked the world, snow that
made them regret acutely they had not equipped themselves with ski. With
ski and a good circulation, a man may go about Labrador in winter, six
times more easily than by the canoes and slow trudging of summer travel.
As it was they were glad of their Canadian snow shoes. One needs only
shelters after the Alpine Club hut fashion, and all that vast solitary
country would be open in the wintertime. Its shortest day is no shorter
than the shortest day in Cumberland or Dublin.

This is no place to tell of the beauty and wonder of snow and ice, the
soft contours of gentle slopes, the rippling of fine snow under a steady
wind, the long shadow ridges of shining powder on the lee of trees and
stones and rocks, the delicate wind streaks over broad surfaces like the
marks of a chisel in marble, the crests and cornices, the vivid
brightness of edges in the sun, the glowing yellowish light on sunlit
surfaces, the long blue shadows, the flush of sunset and sunrise and the
pallid unearthly desolation of snow beneath the moon. Nor need the
broken snow in woods and amidst tumbled stony slopes be described, nor
the vast soft overhanging crests on every outstanding rock beside the
icebound river, nor the huge stalactites and stalagmites of green-blue
ice below the cliffs, nor trees burdened and broken by frost and snow,
nor snow upon ice, nor the blue pools at mid-day upon the surface of the
ice-stream. Across the smooth wind-swept ice of the open tarns they
would find a growth of ice flowers, six-rayed and complicated, more
abundant and more beautiful than the Alpine summer flowers.

But the wind was very bitter, and the sun had scarcely passed its zenith
before the thought of fuel and shelter came back into their minds.

As they approached Partington's tilt, at the point where his trapping
ground turned out of the Green River gorge, he became greatly obsessed
by the thought of his traps. He began to talk of all that he might find
in them, all he hoped to find, and the "dallars" that might ensue. They
slept the third night, Marjorie within and the two men under the lee of
the little cabin, and Partington was up and away before dawn to a trap
towards the ridge. He had infected Marjorie and Trafford with a
sympathetic keenness, but when they saw his killing of a marten that was
still alive in its trap, they suddenly conceived a distaste for
trapping.

They insisted they must witness no more. They would wait while he went
to a trap....

"Think what he's doing!" said Trafford, as they sat together under the
lee of a rock waiting for him. "We imagined this was a free,
simple-souled man leading an unsophisticated life on the very edge of
humanity, and really he is as much a dependant of your woman's world,
Marjorie, as any sweated seamstress in a Marylebone slum. Lord! how far
those pretty wasteful hands of women reach! All these poor broken and
starving beasts he finds and slaughters are, from the point of view of
our world, just furs. Furs! Poor little snarling unfortunates! Their
pelts will be dressed and prepared because women who have never dreamt
of this bleak wilderness desire them. They will get at last into Regent
Street shops, and Bond Street shops, and shops in Fifth Avenue and in
Paris and Berlin, they will make delightful deep muffs, with scent and
little bags and powder puffs and all sorts of things tucked away inside,
and long wraps for tall women, and jolly little frames of soft fur for
pretty faces, and dainty coats and rugs for expensive little babies in
Kensington Gardens."...

"I wonder," reflected Marjorie, "if I could buy one perhaps. As a
memento."

He looked at her with eyes of quiet amusement.

"Oh!" she cried, "I didn't mean to! The old Eve!"

"The old Adam is with her," said Trafford. "He's wanting to give it
her.... We don't cease to be human, Madge, you know, because we've got
an idea now of just where we are. I wonder, which would you like? I dare
say we could arrange it."

"No," said Marjorie, and thought. "It would be jolly," she said. "All
the same, you know--and just to show you--I'm not going to let you buy
me that fur."

"I'd like to," said Trafford.

"No," said Marjorie, with a decision that was almost fierce. "I mean it.
I've got more to do than you in the way of reforming. It's just because
always I've let my life be made up of such little things that I mustn't.
Indeed I mustn't. Don't make things hard for me."

He looked at her for a moment. "Very well," he said. "But I'd have liked
to."...

"You're right," he added, five seconds later.

"Oh! I'm right."


§ 4

One day Louis Napoleon sent them on along the trail while he went up the
mountain to a trap among the trees. He rejoined them--not as his custom
was, shouting inaudible conversation for the last hundred yards or so,
but in silence. They wondered at that, and at the one clumsy gesture
that flourished something darkly grey at them. What had happened
to the man? Whatever he had caught he was hugging it as one
hugs a cat, and stroking it. "Ugh!" he said deeply, drawing near. "Oh!"
A solemn joy irradiated his face, and almost religious ecstasy found
expression.

He had got a silver fox, a beautifully marked silver fox, the best luck
of Labrador! One goes for years without one, in hope, and when it comes,
it pays the trapper's debts, it clears his life--for years!

They tried poor inadequate congratulation....

As they sat about the fire that night a silence came upon Louis
Napoleon. It was manifest that his mind was preoccupied. He got up,
walked about, inspected the miracle of fur that had happened to him,
returned, regarded them. "'M'm," he said, and stroked his chin with his
forefinger. A certain diffidence and yet a certain dignity of assurance
mingled in his manner. It wasn't so much a doubt of his own correctness
as of some possible ignorance of the finer shades on their part that
might embarrass him. He coughed a curt preface, and intimated he had a
request to make. Behind the Indian calm of his face glowed tremendous
feeling, like the light of a foundry furnace shining through chinks in
the door. He spoke in a small flat voice, exercising great self-control.
His wish, he said, in view of all that had happened, was a little
thing.... This was nearly a perfect day for him, and one thing only
remained.... "Well," he said, and hung. "Well," said Trafford. He
plunged. Just simply this. Would they give him the brandy bottle and let
him get drunk? Mr. Grenfell was a good man, a very good man, but he had
made brandy dear--dear beyond the reach of common men altogether--along
the coast....

He explained, dear bundle of clothes and dirt! that he was always
perfectly respectable when he was drunk.


§ 5

It seemed strange to Trafford that now that Marjorie was going home, a
wild impatience to see her children should possess her. So long as it
had been probable that they would stay out their year in Labrador, that
separation had seemed mainly a sentimental trouble; now at times it was
like an animal craving. She would talk of them for hours at a stretch,
and when she was not talking he could see her eyes fixed ahead, and knew
that she was anticipating a meeting. And for the first time it seemed
the idea of possible misadventure troubled her....

They reached Hammond's in one and twenty days from Lonely Hut, three
days they had been forced to camp because of a blizzard, and three
because Louis Napoleon was rigidly Sabbatarian. They parted from him
reluctantly, and the next day Hammond's produced its dogs, twelve stout
but extremely hungry dogs, and sent the Traffords on to the Green River
pulp-mills, where there were good beds and a copious supply of hot
water. Thence they went to Manivikovik, and thence the new Marconi
station sent their inquiries home, inquiries that were answered next day
with matter-of-fact brevity: "Everyone well, love from all."

When the operator hurried with that to Marjorie she received it
off-handedly, glanced at it carelessly, asked him to smoke, remarked
that wireless telegraphy was a wonderful thing, and then, in the midst
of some unfinished commonplace about the temperature, broke down and
wept wildly and uncontrollably....


§ 6

Then came the long, wonderful ride southward day after day along the
coast to Port Dupré, a ride from headland to headland across the frozen
bays behind long teams of straining, furry dogs, that leapt and yelped
as they ran. Sometimes over the land the brutes shirked and loitered and
called for the whip; they were a quarrelsome crew to keep waiting; but
across the sea-ice they went like the wind, and downhill the komatic
chased their waving tails. The sledges swayed and leapt depressions, and
shot athwart icy stretches. The Traffords, spectacled and wrapped to
their noses, had all the sensations then of hunting an unknown quarry
behind a pack of wolves. The snow blazed under the sun, out to sea
beyond the ice the water glittered, and it wasn't so much air they
breathed as a sort of joyous hunger.

One day their teams insisted upon racing.

Marjorie's team was the heavier, her driver more skillful, and her
sledge the lighter, and she led in that wild chase from start to finish,
but ever and again Trafford made wild spurts that brought him almost
level. Once, as he came alongside, she heard him laughing joyously.

"Marjorie," he shouted, "d'you remember? Old donkey cart?"

Her team yawed away, and as he swept near again, behind his pack of
whimpering, straining, furious dogs, she heard him shouting, "You know,
that old cart! Under the overhanging trees! So thick and green they met
overhead! You know! When you and I had our first talk together! In the
lane. It wasn't so fast as this, eh?"...


§ 7

At Port Dupré they stayed ten days--days that Marjorie could only make
tolerable by knitting absurd garments for the children (her knitting was
atrocious), and then one afternoon they heard the gun of the _Grenfell_,
the new winter steamer from St. John's, signalling as it came in through
the fog, very slowly, from that great wasteful world of men and women
beyond the seaward grey.


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation and hyphenation inconsistencies have been silently
repaired. Words with variable spelling have been retained. The following
spelling and typographical emendations have been made:

  p. 22: broken text "were they living and moving realities" was
  completed to "were they living and moving realities when those others
  were at home again?"
  p. 34: protruberant replaced with protuberant ("large protuberant")
  p. 38: pay replaced with play ("what the play was")
  p. 40: Majorie replaced with Marjorie ("Marjorie loved singing")
  p. 40: feut replaced with felt ("that he felt")
  p. 60: téte-à-tête replaced with tête-à-tête ("silent tête-à-tête")
  p. 70: foundamental replaced with fundamental ("three fundamental
  things")
  p. 76: fina replaced with final ("working for her final")
  p. 88: challenege replaced with challenge ("challenge inattentive
  auditors")
  p. 92: presumbly replaced with presumably ("presumably Billy's")
  p. 115: ino replaced with into ("into the air")
  p. 141: himse_f replaced with himself ("ask himself")
  p. 147: contradication replaced with contradiction ("any sort of
  contradiction")
  p. 167: calcalculated replaced with calculated ("indeed calculated")
  p. 223: hestitated replaced with hesitated ("She hesitated")
  p. 230: intriques replaced with intrigues ("culminations and intrigues")
  p. 242: America replaced with American ("American minor poet")
  p. 265: acquiscent replaced with acquiescent ("by no means acquiescent")
  p. 313: It's replaced with Its ("Its end was the Agenda Club")
  p. 316: regime replaced with régime ("the new régime")
  p. 341: number of section 15 replaced with 16
  p. 342: gestulated replaced with gesticulated ("Solomonson
  gesticulated")
  p. 342: The paragraphs starting with: "It was all" and "You said
  good-bye" were merged
  p. 346: The paragraphs starting with: "They aren't arranged" and "They'd
  get everything" were merged
  p. 349: devine replaced with divine ("by right divine of genius")
  p. 368: presumptious replaced with presumptuous ("extremely
  presumptuous")
  p. 376: mispelling replaced with misspelling ("as much misspelling as")
  p. 376: The replaced with They ("They gave dinners")
  p. 378: The replaced with They ("They could play")
  p. 395: Docter replaced with Doctor ("Doctor Codger")
  p. 396: authoritive replaced with authoritative ("authoritative
  imagine")
  p. 399: shuldered replaced with shouldered ("As he shouldered")
  p. 403: wet replaced with went ("Trafford's eyes went from")
  p. 405: subthe replaced with subtle ("skilful, subtle appreciation")
  p. 426: fine replaced with find ("find God")
  p. 427: chidren replaced with children ("of having children at all")
  p. 441: serere replaced with serene ("brightly serene")
  p. 442: tundura replaced with tundra ("wide stretches of tundra")
  p. 457: rucksac replaced with rucksack ("chunks of dry paper,
  the rucksack")
  p. 481: realties replaced with realities ("expression of the realities")
  p. 485: the duplicate phrase "He stared at her" was removed
  p. 493: think replaced with thing ("salvation is a collective thing")
  p. 504: realty replaced with reality ("of sense and reality")
  p. 509: greal replaced with great ("a great lump")
  p. 512: caluclated replaced with calculated ("now they calculated")
  p. 515: travellel replaced with travelled ("I had travelled")
  p. 518: gutteral replaced with guttural ("seemed guttural")
  p. 520: gutteral replaced with guttural ("his voice was guttural")
  p. 524: slaughers replaced with slaughters ("he finds and slaughters")





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Marriage" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home