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Title: The Affair at the Inn
Author: Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith, 1856-1923, Findlater, Mary, 1865-1963, Findlater, Jane Helen, 1866-1946, McAulay, Allan, 1863-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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     Affair at the Inn

     Kate Douglas Wiggin
     Mary Findlater
     Jane Findlater
     Allan McAulay

     Gay and Hancock, Ltd.
     12 and 13 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden

     _All rights reserved_

An account of certain events which are supposed to have occurred in
the month of May 19--, at a quiet inn on Dartmoor, in Devonshire; the
events being recorded by the persons most interested in the unfolding
of the little international comedy.

The story is written by four authors, each author being responsible
for one character, as follows:--

     MISS VIRGINIA POMEROY, of Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A., _by
     Kate Douglas Wiggin_, Author of 'Penelope's Experiences,'

     MRS. MACGILL, of Tunbridge Wells, _by Mary Findlater_,
     Author of 'The Rose of Joy,' etc.

     MISS CECILIA EVESHAM, Mrs. MacGill's companion, _by Jane
     Findlater_, Author of 'The Green Graves of Balgowrie,' etc.

     SIR ARCHIBALD MAXWELL MACKENZIE, of Kindarroch, N.B., _by
     Allan McAulay_, Author of 'The Rhymer,' etc.




     _Tuesday, May 18th, 19--_

When my poor father died five years ago, the doctor told my mother
that she must have an entire change. We left America at once, and we
have been travelling ever since, always in the British Isles, as the
sound of foreign languages makes mamma more nervous. As a matter of
fact, the doctor did not advise eternal change, but that is the
interpretation mamma has placed upon his command, and so we are for
ever moving on, like What's-his-name in _Bleak House_. It is not so
extraordinary, then, that we are in the Devonshire moorlands, because
one cannot travel incessantly for four years in the British Isles
without being everywhere, in course of time. That is what I said to a
disagreeable, frumpy Englishwoman in the railway carriage yesterday.

'I have no fault to find with Great Britain,' I said, 'except that it
is so circumscribed! I have outgrown my first feeling, which was a
fear of falling off the edge; but I still have a sensation of being
cabined, cribbed, confined.'

She remarked that she had always preferred a small, perfectly
finished, and well-managed estate to a large, rank, wild, and
overgrown one, and I am bound to say that I think the retort was a
good one. It must have been, for it silenced me.

We have done Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and having begun at the top
of the map, have gone as far as Devon in England. We have been
travelling by counties during the last year, because it seemed tidier
and more thorough and businesslike; less confusing too, for the
places look so alike after a while that I can never remember where we
have been without looking in my diary. I don't know what will come
after England,--perhaps Australia and New Zealand. I suppose they
speak English there, of a sort.

If complete ignorance of a place, combined with great power of
appreciation when one is introduced to it,--if these constitute a
favourable mental attitude, then I have achieved it. That Devonshire
produces Lanes, Dumplings, Cider, Monoliths, Clouted Cream, and Moors
I know, but all else in the way of knowledge or experience is to be
the captive of my bow and spear.

It is one of the accidents of travel that one can never explain, our
being here on this desolate moor, caged, with half a dozen strange
people, in a little inn at the world's end.

In the hotel at Exeter mamma met in the drawing-room a certain Mrs.
MacGill, who like herself was just recovering from the influenza. Our
paths have crossed before; I hope they'll not do so too often. Huddled
in their shawls, and seated as near to the chilling hotel fire as was
possible, they discussed their symptoms, while I read _Lorna Doone_.
Mrs. MacGill slept ill at night and found a glass of milk-arrowroot
with a teaspoon of brandy and a Bath Oliver biscuit a panacea; mamma
would not allow that any one could sleep worse than she, but
recommended a peppermint lozenge, as being simple, convenient, and
efficacious. Mrs. MacGill had a slight cough, so had mamma; Mrs.
MacGill's chest was naturally weak, so was mamma's. Startlingly
similar as were the paths by which they were travelling to the grave,
they both looked in average health, mamma being only prettily delicate
and Mrs. MacGill being fat and dumpy, with cap ribbons and shoulder
capes and bugles and brooches that bespoke at least a languid interest
in life. The nice English girl who was Mrs. MacGill's companion in the
railway train, sat in the background knitting and reading,--the kind
of girl who ought to look young and doesn't, because her youth has
been feeding somebody's selfish old age. I could see her quiet history
written all over her face,--her aged father, vicar of some remote
parish; her weary mother, harassed with the cares of a large family;
and the dull little vicarage from whose windows she had taken her
narrow peeps at life. We exchanged glances at some of Mrs. MacGill's
reminiscences, and I was grateful to see that she has a sense of
humour. That will help her considerably if she is a paid companion, as
I judge she is; one would hardly travel with Mrs. MacGill for
pleasure. This lady at length crowded mamma to the wall and began on
the details of an attack of brain fever from which she had suffered at
the Bridge of Allan thirty years ago, and I left the room to seek a
breath of fresh air.

There is never anything amusing going on in an English hotel. When I
remember the life one lives during a week at the Waldorf-Astoria or
the Holland House in New York, it fairly makes me yearn with
homesickness. It goes like this with a girl whose friends are all
anxious to make the time pass merrily.

_Monday noon._--Luncheon at the University Club with H. L. and mamma.

_Monday afternoon._--Drive with G. P. in a hansom. Tea at Maillard's.
Violets from A. B., American Beauty roses from C. D. waiting in my
room. Dinner and the play arranged for me by E. F.

_Tuesday._--One love-letter and one proposal by the morning mail; the
proposal from a Harvard Freshman who wishes me to wait until he
finishes his course. No one but a Freshman would ever have thought of
that! G. H. from Chicago and B. C. from Richmond arrive early and join
us at breakfast. B. C. thinks G. H. might have remained at home to
good advantage. G. H. wonders why B. C. couldn't have stayed where he
was less in the way. Luncheon party given by G. H. at one. Dinner by
B. C. at seven.

_Wednesday._--Last fitting for three lovely dresses.

_Thursday._--Wear them all. The result of one of them attention with
intention from the fastidious A. B.

And so on. It would doubtless spoil one in time, but I have only had
two weeks of it, all put together.

The hall of the hotel at Exeter was like all other English hotel
halls; so damp, dismal, dull, and dreary, that it is a wonder English
travellers are not all sleeping in suicides' graves. Were my eyes
deceiving me or was there a motor at the door, and still more
wonderful, was there a young, good-looking man directly in my path,--a
healthy young man with no symptoms, a well-to-do young man with a
perfectly appointed motor, a well-bred, presentable young man with an
air of the world about him? How my heart, starving for amusement,
rushed out to him after these last weary months of nursing at
Leamington! I didn't want to marry him, of course, but I wanted to
talk to him, to ride in his motor, to have him, in short, for a
masculine safety valve. He showed no symptom of requiring me for any
purpose whatever. That is the trouble with the men over here,--so
oblivious, so rigid, so frigid, so conventional; so afraid of being
chloroformed and led unconscious to the altar! He was smoking a pipe,
and he looked at me in a vague sort of way. I confess I don't like to
be looked at vaguely, and I am not accustomed to it. He couldn't know
that, of course, but I should like to teach him if only I had the
chance and time. I don't suppose he knew that I was wearing a Redfern
gown and hat, but the consciousness supported me in the casual
encounter. Naturally he could not seek an introduction to me in a
hotel hall, nor could we speak to each other without one.

His chauffeur went up to him presently, touched his hat, and I thought
he said, 'Quite ready, Sir--Something'; I didn't catch the name.

Well, he bowled off, and I comforted myself with the thought that
mamma and I were at least on our way to pastures new, if they were
only Dawlish or Torquay pastures; or perhaps something bracing in the
shape of Dartmoor forests, if mamma listens to Mrs. MacGill.

The owner of the motor appeared again at our dinner-table, a long
affair set in the middle of the room, all the small tables being
occupied by uninteresting nobodies who ate and drank as much, and took
up as much room, as if they had been somebodies.

It is needless to say that the young Britisher did not, like the busy
bee, improve the shining hour--that sort of bee doesn't know honey
when he sees it. He didn't even pass me the salt, which in a Christian
country is not considered a compromising attention. I think that too
many of Great Britain's young men must have been killed off in South
Africa, and those remaining have risen to an altogether fictitious
value. I suppose this Sir Somebody thinks my eyes are fixed on his
coronet, if he has one rusting in his upper drawer awaiting its
supreme moment of presentation. He is mistaken; I am thinking only of
his motor. Heigh ho! If marriage as an institution could be retained,
and all thought of marriage banished from the minds of the young of
both sexes, how delightful society could be made for all parties! I
can see that such a state of things would be quite impossible, but it
presents many advantages.


     _Sunday, May 16th, 19--_

I have made out my journey from Tunbridge wells in safety, although
there has been a breakdown upon the Scotch Express, which is a cause
of thankfulness. There were two American women in the same carriage
part of the time. The mother was, like myself, an invalid, and the
daughter I suppose would be considered pretty. She was not exactly
painted, but must have done something to her skin, I think, probably
prejudicial like the advertisements; it was really waxen, and her hair
decidedly dark--and such a veil! It reminded me of the expression
about 'power on the head' in Corinthians--not that she seemed to
require it, for she rang no less than eight times for the guard, each
time about some different whimsey. The boy only grinned, yet he was
quite rude to me when I asked him, only for the second time, where we
changed carriages next. Cecilia spoke a good deal to the girl, who
made her laugh constantly, in spite of her neuralgia, which was very
inconsistent and provoking to me, as she had not uttered a word for
hours after we left Tunbridge Wells. The mother seemed a very
delicate, sensible person, suffering from exactly the same form of
influenza as myself--indeed many of our symptoms are identical. They
happened to be going to this hotel, too, so we met again in the
afternoon. I had a bad night. Exeter is small, but the Cathedral
chimes are very tiresome; they kept me awake as if on purpose; Cecilia
slept, as neuralgic people seem often able to do.

Somehow I do not fancy the idea of Dartmoor at all. It may brace
Cecilia, but it will be too cold for me, I'm sure. I must send for my
black velvet mantle--the one with the beads at the neck, as it will be
the very thing for the moor. At present I have nothing quite suitable
to wear. There is a great deal of skirt about Americans, I see. Even
the mother rustled; all silk, yet the dresses on the top were plain
enough. As I had nothing to read in the train, I bought a sixpenny
copy of a book called _The Forest Lovers_, but could not get on with
it at all, and what I did make out seemed scarcely proper, so I took
up a novel which Mrs. Pomeroy (the American) lent me, by a man with a
curious Scriptural name--something like Phillpotts. It was entirely
about Dartmoor, and gave a most alarming account of the scenery and
inhabitants. I'm sure I hope we shall be safe at Grey Tor Inn. Some of
the wilder parts must be quite dangerous--storms--wild cattle roaming
about, and Tors everywhere.

       *       *       *       *       *


     _Tuesday, May 18th, 19--_

I wish I had brought winter flannels with me. It is all very well to
call it the middle of May on Dartmoor, but it is as cold as the middle
of winter in Aberdeen. There may be something odd about the red soil
that accounts for flowers coming out in spite of it, for certainly
there are primroses and violets on the banks, a good many,--very like
flowers in a hat.

We met Miss Pomeroy, the American girl, in the lobby of the hotel. She
said that her mother was resting in the drawing-room. Like me, she
seems to suffer from shivering fits. 'I can't imagine,' I said, 'why
any doctor should have ordered me to such a place as this to recover
from influenza, which is just another form of cold.' The windows look
straight out on Grey Tor. It is, of course, as the guide-books say, 'a
scene of great sublimity and grandeur,' but very dreary; it is not
mountain, and not what we would call moor, either, in Scotland--just a
crumpled country, with boulders here and there. Grey Tor is the
highest point we can see--not very lonely, I am glad to say, for
little black people are always walking up and down it, like flies on a
confectioner's window, and there is a railing on the top.

There is a young man here, who, I was surprised to find, is a nephew
of the uncle of my poor brother-in-law, Colonel Forsyth, who died in a
moment at Agra. Sir William Maxwell Mackenzie used to be often at the
Forsyths, before his death. This young man's name is Archibald, and he
drives a motor. I sat next him at dinner, and we had quite a pleasant
little chat about my poor brother-in-law's sudden death and funeral.
Miss Pomeroy ate everything on the table and talked a great deal.
Cecilia said she wasn't able to come down to dinner, but, as usual,
ate more than I could, upstairs. Like me, Mrs. Pomeroy finds the
Devonshire cream very heavy. The daughter and Sir Archibald finished
nearly the whole dish, although it was a large china basin.



I must get away from these women at all costs. People may say what
they like, but there's no question that nothing is more destructive to
comfort than the society of ladies. A man cannot smoke, nor wear the
clothes nor use the language that he wants to when they are
present,--so what is the use of pretending, as some fellows do, that
they add to the pleasantness of life? I certainly thought that by
coming to these out-of-the-way parts in the motor, with no one but my
servant, I should be free of the women; but no such luck! In the hotel
at Exeter there was a batch of them,--some Americans, of course,
particularly a girl, so deuced lively she could not be ignored. I
dislike the whole girl-tribe with all my heart, and I dislike the
kittenish ones most: they're a positive pest.

This is a rum sort of country,--a sort of inferior Scotland, I should
call it; but if you were to say that to the artist chaps and writing
fellows you meet about here, they would murder you. There is a lot of
rot talked about everything in this world, but there's more and worse
rot talked about scenery than anything else. For instance, people will
yarn away about 'the blue Mediterranean,' but it's not a bit bluer
than any other sea,--the English Channel, for example; any sea will be
blue if the sky is blue. I suppose it earns somebody's living to talk
and write all this sort of stuff, and get idiots to believe it. Here
they are always jawing away about 'giant monoliths' and wonderful
colossal stone-formations on the moor, till you really think there's
something rather fine to be seen. And what are the giant monoliths?
Two or three ordinary sorts of stones set up on end on a mound! What

This is a goodish hotel, and the roads so far have been all right for
the motor; we have come along fairly well; Johnson can drive a bit
now, and understands the machine.

The country was pretty decent for a while, before reaching this;
plenty of trees, no good for timber, though, and there was a lot of
that rotten holly--I'd have it all up if it grew on Kindarroch. And
the gorse, too, was very bad. There was a fellow at Exeter--a sort of
artist, I conclude, from the nonsense he talked--who said he was
coming up here to see the gorse,--came every year, he said. To see the
gorse! To see a lot of dirty weeds that every sensible man wants to
root up and burn! O Lord!

This morning it was rather fine, and I was having a smoke after
breakfast in the hall, when that American girl--the one I saw at
Exeter--came down the staircase, singing at the top of her voice. I
knew she was here, with a mother in the background; she had been
fooling around the motor already, asking a lot of silly questions,
and touching the handles and the wheels--a thing I can't bear--so we
had made acquaintance in a kind of way. The artist at Exeter, I
remember, asked me if I didn't think this girl remarkably pretty, and
I told him I hadn't looked to see, which was perfectly true. But you
can't help seeing a girl if she's standing plump in front of you. Of
course these Americans dress well--no end of money to do it on. This
one had a sort of Tam o' Shanter thing on her head, and a lot of dark
hair came out under it, falling over her ears, and almost over her
cheeks--untidy, I call it. She wore a grey dress, with a bit of
scarlet near her neck, and a knot to match it under the brim of her
cap. I can notice these things when I like. She has black eyes, and
knows how to use them. I don't like dark women; if you must have a
woman about, I prefer pink and white--it looks clean, at any rate. The
name of these people is Pomeroy, Johnson told me; they appear to have
got the hang of mine at Exeter; trust women for that sort of thing.

'Good morning, Sir Archibald,' said Miss Pomeroy now, as pat as you
please. 'It's a mighty pretty morning, isn't it? Don't you long for a
walk? I do! I'm going right up to that stone on the slope there. Won't
you come along too?' A man can hardly refuse outright, I suppose, when
a thing is put to him point blank like this, and we started together,
I pretty glum, for I made up my mind I must give up my after-breakfast
pipe, a thing which puts me out of temper for the day. However, Miss
Pomeroy said she liked smoke, so there was a kind of mitigation in the
boredom which I felt was before me.

Grey Tor, as the guide-books call it, is just above the hotel, a sort
of knob of rock that is thought a lot of in these parts. (We make road
metal of the same kind of thing in Scotland; I'd like to tell the
chaps that who write all the drivel about Dartmoor.) There's an iron
railing round the top of this Tor, to keep the tourists from falling
off, though they'd be no loss if they did. Coach loads of them come
every day, and sit on the top and eat sandwiches, and leave the paper
about, along with orange and banana skins--same as they do at the
Trossachs at home. There's a grassy track up to this blessed Tor, and
Miss Pomeroy and I followed it; American women are no good at walking,
and, in spite of her slight figure, she was puffing like a grampus in
no time, and begging me to stop. We sat down on a rock, and soon she
had breath enough to talk. The subject of names came up, I forget for
what reason.

'I like your kind of name,' Miss Pomeroy was good enough to say. 'I
call it downright sensible and clear, for it tells what you're called,
and gives your background immediately, don't you see? Now, you
couldn't tell what my Christian name is without asking--could you?'

'No, I couldn't,' I agreed, and was silent. I am no hand at small
talk. She gave me rather a funny look out of her black eyes, but I
took no notice. She seemed to want to laugh--I don't know why; there's
nothing funny on Dartmoor that _I_ can see. We got on to the Tor
presently, and nothing would satisfy a woman, naturally, but climbing
all over the beastly thing. She had to be helped up and down, of
course. Her hands are very white and slim; they were not at all hot, I
am glad to say, as she wore no gloves, and I had to clutch them so
often. There was a very high wind up there, and I'm blessed if her
hair didn't come down and blow about. It only made her laugh, but I
considered it would be indecent to walk back to the hotel with a woman
in such a dishevelled state.

'I will pick up the hairpins,' I said seriously, 'if you will--will do
the rest.' She laughed and put up her arms to her head, but brought
them down with a flop.

'I'm afraid my waist is too tight in the sleeves for me to do my hair
up here; it'll have to wait till I get down to the hotel,' she said
gaily. I suppose she meant that she tight-laced, though I couldn't see
how her waist could be tight in the sleeves. I was quite determined
she should not walk to the hotel in my company with her hair in that

'I will stick these in,' I said firmly, indicating the hairpins, of
which I had picked up about a bushel, 'if you will do the rolling up.'
It got done somehow, and I stuck in the pins. I never touched a
woman's hair before; how beastly it must be to have all that on one's
head--unhealthy, too. I dare say it accounts for the feebleness of
women's brains. Miss Pomeroy's cheeks got pinker and pinker during
this operation--a sort of rush of blood, I suppose; it is all right as
long as it does not go to the nose. She is not a bad-looking girl,

We got back to the hotel without any further disagreeables.



If a policeman's 'lot is not a happy one,' neither is a companion's: I
lay this down as an axiom. I have lived now for two years with Mrs.
MacGill, and know her every frailty of character only too well. She
has not a bad temper; but oh! she is a terrible, terrible bore! Not
content with being stupid herself, she desires to make me stupid along
with her, and has well-nigh succeeded, for life with her in furnished
apartments at Tunbridge Wells would dull a more brilliant woman than I
have ever been.

Mrs. MacGill has lately had the influenza; it came almost as a
providential sending, for it meant change of air. We were ordered to
Dartmoor, and to Dartmoor we have come. Now I have become interested
in three new people; and that, after the life I have lived of late in
Mrs. MacGill's sickroom, is like a draught of nectar to my tired
fancy. We met these three persons for the first time in the train, and
at the hotel at Exeter where we stopped for the night; or rather, I
should say that we met two of them and sighted the third. The two were
a mother and her daughter, Mrs. Pomeroy and Virginia Pomeroy by name,
and Americans by nation; the third person was a young man, Sir
Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie, of Kindarroch, N.B. The Americans were
extremely friendly, after the manner of their nation; the young man
extremely unfriendly, after the manner of his. We found that the
Pomeroys were coming on to this inn, but the Scotchman whizzed off in
his motor car, giving us no hint of where he intended to go. I thought
we had seen the last of him, but it was to be otherwise.

The morning after our arrival at the Grey Tor Inn Mrs. MacGill assumed
a Shetland shawl, closed the window of the sitting-room, and sat down
to do a bit of knitting. I sat by the window answering her little
vapid remarks and looking out. As I sat thus, I heard a puffing noise
and saw a scarlet motor steam up to the door of the inn. It was, of
course, Sir Archibald.

'What is that noise, Cecilia?' asked Mrs. MacGill.

'It's a motor car,' I replied.

'Oh, how curious! I never can understand how they are worked,' said

I was beginning to try to explain some of the mysteries of motoring
when the door of the sitting-room opened, and Miss Virginia Pomeroy
came in. Her appearance was a delight to the eyes; tall and full
grown, yet graceful, and dressed to perfection. She had none of that
meek look that even the prettiest English girls are getting nowadays,
as if they would say, 'I'm pretty, but I know I'm a drug in the
market, though I can't help it!' No, no, Virginia Pomeroy came into
the room with an air of possession, mastery, conquest, that no English
girl can assume. She walked straight up to the window and threw it
open. 'How perfectly lovely!' she exclaimed. 'Why, there's a motor; I
must have a ride in it before very long.' She turned pleasantly to me
as she spoke, and asked me if I didn't adore motoring.

'I've never tried,' I said.

'Well, the sooner you begin the better,' she said. 'Never miss a joy
in a world of trouble; that's my theory.'

I smiled, but if she had known it, I more nearly cried at her words;
she didn't know how many joys _I_ had missed in life!

'I'll go right downstairs and make love to the chauffeur,' she went
on, and at this Mrs. MacGill coughed, moved the fire-irons, and told
me to close the window. Miss Pomeroy turned to her with a laugh.

'Why!' she said, 'are you two going to sit in this hotel parlour all
the morning? You won't have much of a time if you do!'

'I have had the influenza, like Mrs. Pomeroy,' announced Mrs. MacGill
solemnly, 'but if Miss Evesham wishes some fresh air she can go out at
any time. I'm sure I never object to anything that you choose to do,
Cecilia, do I?'

I hastened to assure her that she did not, while the American girl
stood looking from one of us to the other with her bright, clever

'Suppose you come down to the hall door with me then, Miss Evesham,'
Miss Pomeroy suggested, 'and we'll taste the air.'

'Shall I, Mrs. MacGill?' I asked, for a companion must always ask
leave even to breathe. Mrs. MacGill answered petulantly that of course
I might do as I liked.

The motor stood alone and unattended by the front door, both owner and
chauffeur having deserted it. It rested there like a redhot panting
monster fatigued by climbing the long hill that leads up to Grey Tor

'Isn't it out of breath?' cried Virginia. 'I want to pat it and give
it a drink of water.' The next minute she skipped into the car and
laid her white hand on the steering-wheel.

'Oh, don't! Do take care!' I cried. The thing may run away with you or
burst, or something, and the owner may come out at any moment--it
belongs to that young man who was at Exeter, Sir Archibald Maxwell

'I should like it very much if he did come out,' said Virginia,
looking over her shoulder at me with the most bewitching ogle I ever
saw, and I soon saw that she intended to conquer Sir Archibald as she
had conquered many another man, and meant to drive all over Dartmoor
in his motor. Well, youth and high spirits are two good things. Let
her do what she likes with the young man, so long as she enjoys
herself; they will both be old soon enough!




The plot thickens; well, goodness knows it was thin enough before, and
it is now only of the innocent consistency of cream sauce. For myself
I like a plot that will stand quite stiff and firm; still the Exeter
motor is here and the Exeter motor-man is here. I don't mean the
chauffeur, but the owner. He doesn't intend staying more than a day or
two, but he may like it better as time goes on,--they often do, even
these British icebergs. It is, however, a poor climate for thawing
purposes. There are only six people in the inn all told, and two, we
hear, are leaving to-night.

I was glad to see the English girl standing at the window when we
arrived. She brightened, as much as to say that we two might make life
more cheerful by putting our heads together. Mrs. MacGill is a good
companion for mamma, but could not otherwise be endured for a moment.
I find it very difficult to account for her on any ordinary basis; I
mean of climate or nationality or the like. The only way I can explain
her to my satisfaction is, that some sixty years ago her father, a
very dull gentleman, met her mother, a lady of feeble mind and waspish
disposition; met her, loved her, married her,--and Mrs. MacGill is the
result of the union.

Her conversation at table is aimless beyond description, often causing
Miss Evesham to blush, and Sir Archibald to raise his eyebrows. It
doesn't take much to produce this effect on Sir Archibald's part; when
he was born they must have been slightly lifted.

Mrs. MacGill asked me, at dinner, my Christian name, not having heard
it, as mamma often calls me 'Jinny.' Here is the colloquy.

_Jinny._ My name is Virginia; it is one of the Southern States, you

_Mrs. Mac._ Oh, I see! how curious! Is that a common habit of naming
children in America?

_Jinny._ Oh yes; you see it is such an enormous country, and there are
such a number of children to be named that we simply had to extend the
supply of names in some way. My mother's middle name, which is my own
also, is something really quaint--'Secessia.'

_Mrs. Mac._ Secessia! What an extraordinary name! Has it any

_Jinny._ Yes, indeedy! My mother was born in the early days of the
Civil War, at the time of the secession, and her father, an ardent
Southerner, named her Gloria Secessia.

_Mrs. Mac._ Let me see, I don't seem to remember any secession; were
we mixed up in what you call your Civil War?

(Here Sir Archibald caught my eye and smiled, almost a human smile it

_Jinny._ No, but you had a good deal to do with the War of
Independence. That was nearly a century before. (Sir Archibald was
honestly amused here. He must know American history.)

_Mrs. Mac._ I thought your last war was called the War of
Independence, because it made the negroes independent, but I must have
got the two confused; and you've just had another small one, haven't
you, though now I remember that we were engaged in only one of them,
and that was before my time. It seems strange we should have gone
across the ocean to help a younger country to fight its battles, but
after all, blood is thicker than water. I had a nephew who went to
America--Brazil, I think, was the name of the town--a barrister, Mr.
George Forsyth; you may have met him?

_Jinny._ I think not; I seldom go so far from home.

_Mrs. Mac._ But you live in South America, do you not?

_Jinny._ I live in the south, but that is merely to say in the
southern part of the United States.

_Mrs. Mac._ How confusing! I fear I can't make it out without the
globes; I was always very good at the globes when I was a child.
Cecilia, suppose after dinner you see if there is a globe in the inn.

Poor Miss Evesham! She is so pale, so likeable, so downtrodden, and
she has been so pretty! Think of what is involved when one uses the
past tense with a woman of thirty. She has fine hair and eyes and a
sweet manner. As to the rest, she is about my height, and she is not
dressed; she is simply clothed. Height is her only visible dimension,
the village mantua-maker having shrouded the others in hopeless
ambiguity. She has confessed to me that she dresses on fifteen pounds
a year! If she had told me that her father was dead, her mother a
kleptomaniac, and she the sole support of a large family, I should
have pitied her, but a dress allowance of fifteen pounds a year calls
for more than pity; it belongs to the realm of tragedy. She looks at
thirty as if she never had had, nor ever expected to have, a good
time. How I should like to brighten her up a bit, and get her into my
room to try on Paris hats!

She and I, aided by Sir Archibald, have been to Stoke Babbage to try
to secure a pony, sound, kind, and fleet, that will drag Mrs. MacGill
up and down the hills. She refused the steeds proffered by the Grey
Tor stables, and sent Miss Evesham to procure something so hopelessly
ideal in the shape of horseflesh that I confess we had no expectation
of ever finding it.

The groom at the Unicorn produced a nice pony chaise, well padded and
well braked, with small low wheels, and a pony originally black, but
worn grey by age, as well as by battling with the elements in this
region of bare hills and bleak winds. Miss Evesham liked its looks
particularly. I, too, was pleased by its sturdy build, and remarked
that its somewhat wild eye might be only a sign of ambition. Sir
Archibald took an entirely humorous view of the animal, and indeed, as
compared with a motor, the little creature seemed somewhat inadequate.
We agreed that for Mrs. MacGill (and here we exchanged wicked glances)
it would do admirably, and we all became better acquainted in
discussing its points.

Miss Evesham and I offered to drive the pony back to Grey Tor, and Sir
Archibald saw us depart with something that approached hilarity. He is
awfully nice when he unbends in this way, and quite makes one wish to
see him do it oftener. From all our previous conversations I have come
away with the sort of feeling you have when you visit the grave of
your grandmother on a Sunday afternoon.

I don't know the number of miles between Stoke Babbage and Grey Tor.
The distance covered cuts no actual figure in describing the time
required for a drive with the new pony, whom I have christened
Greytoria. The word 'drive' is not altogether descriptive, since we
walked most of the way home. I hardly think this method of progression
would have occurred to us, but it did occur to Greytoria, and she
communicated the idea by stopping short at the slightest elevation,
and turning her head in a manner which could only mean, 'Suppose you
get out, if you don't mind!'

Having walked up all the hills, we imagined we could perhaps drive
down. Not at all. Greytoria dislikes holding back more, if anything,
than climbing up. We kept our seats at first, applied the brake, and
attempted a very gentle trot. 'Don't let us spoil the pony,' I said.
'We must begin as we mean to go on.' Miss Evesham agreed, but in a
moment or two each issued from her side of the chaise, and that
without argument. Greytoria's supports are both stiff and weak--groggy
is Sir Archibald's word. She takes trembling little steps with her
forelegs, while the hind ones slide automatically down any declivity.
The hills between Stoke Babbage and Grey Tor being particularly long
and steep, we found that I was obliged to lead Greytoria by the
bridle, while Miss Evesham held the chaise by the back of the seat,
and attempted to keep it from falling on the pony's legs; the thing,
we finally discovered, that was the ruling terror of her life.

Naturally we were late at luncheon, but we did not describe our drive
in detail. The groom at the stables says that the pony can drag Mrs.
MacGill quite safely, if Miss Evesham is firm in her management. Of
course she will have to walk up and down all the hills, but she
doesn't mind that, and Mrs. MacGill will love it. It is bliss to her
to lie in slippered ease, so to speak, and see all the people in her
vicinity working like galley slaves. We shall be delightfully situated
now, with Greytoria, Sir Archibald's motor, and an occasional trap
from the stables, if we need other vehicles.

Sir Archibald as yet does not look upon a motor as a philanthropic
institution. There are moments when he seems simply to regard it as a
means of selfish pleasure, but that must be changed.

Item. Miss Evesham looked only twenty-nine at luncheon.


Last night I slept so badly that I could not go down to the
dining-room this morning. Cecilia, in spite of her neuralgia yesterday
seemed well and bright. I asked her to send me up some breakfast, but
could scarcely eat it when it came; the tea was cold, the bread damp
and tough, and the egg fresh enough, but curious. Cecilia never came
near me after breakfast. When I came down about eleven o'clock, very
cold, I found no one in the sitting-rooms. Hearing voices, I went to
the door and found Cecilia talking to the American girl, who had a
great deal of colour for that hour in the morning. Sir Archibald came
up, grinding round the drive in his motor. It is quite unnecessary to
have brought a motor here at all, for I observe that the hillsides are
covered with ponies. There must have been a herd of twenty-five of
them outside my window this morning, so a motor is quite out of place.
The doctor here recommends me to try driving exercise, but some of the
animals are so very small that I scarcely think they could pull me up
these hills. Cecilia says the smaller ones are foals. Many of them
kick, I see, so we must select with care. I wish we could procure a
donkey. The feeling of confidence I have when in a donkey-chair more
than makes up for the slowness of motion.

Like me, Mrs. Pomeroy was kept awake by the wind--it never stops here.
When I remarked on this, Cecilia said in her patronising way, 'Don't
you remember Borrow's famous line,--

     'There's always the wind on the heath'?

'I see nothing clever in that,' I said; 'there _is_ always wind on the
heath here, and I particularly dislike it.'

When we came into the drawing-room Miss Pomeroy was saying, 'I've
discovered a piano!' The piano, to my mind, was the largest object in
the room, so she must be short-sighted, if she had not seen it before;
pride probably prevents her wearing glasses. She sat there singing for
quite a long time. She wouldn't finish her songs, but just sang scraps
of a number of things. Sir Archibald came into the room and stood
about for some time. I asked him several questions about his father's
sister, whom I used to know. He replied so absently that I could make
nothing of it. Miss Pomeroy has a clear voice. She sang what I suppose
were translations of negro songs--very noisy. When she afterwards
tried one of Moore's exquisite melodies, I confess to admiring it. It
was a great favourite with Mr. MacGill, who used to sing it with much

     'Around the dear ruin, each wish of my heart.'

What a touching expression that is for a middle-aged woman--'the dear

Grey Tor is certainly very bleak. The guide-books speak of 'huge
monoliths' (I suppose they mean the rocks on the moor), 'seeming to
have been reared by some awful cataclysm of nature in primordial
times.' I hope there will be no cataclysms during our stay on the
moor; the accounts of tempests of which I read in some of the novels
quite frighten me, yet I can scarcely think there is much danger about
this tor--'a giant, the biggest tor of all,' the guide-books say. It
is so fully peopled by tourists with luncheon-baskets that one loses
the feeling of desolation. Miss Pomeroy has been up to the top
already--twice, once alone. Cecilia means to go too, though nothing
can be worse for neuralgia than cold wind. She will always say that
nothing hurts her like sitting in hot rooms. I should be very glad to
have a hot room to sit in! She has got a nice, quiet-looking animal at
last, and a low pony chaise, so I hope to have some drives.

Neuralgia is one of those things one cannot calculate on. Cecilia will
be ill all day, and then suddenly able to come down to dinner. I have
suffered a good deal from tic douloureux myself, but was never able to
eat during the paroxysms, as Cecilia seems to be. After having five
teeth pulled, I once lived exclusively on soup for three days.

Miss Pomeroy, I suppose, is what most people would call a pretty girl.
Hot bread and dyspepsia will soon do for her, though, as for all
American women. The bread here is tough and very damp. She is dark,
very dark in hair and eyes, in spite of her white skin, and she
describes herself as a 'Southerner.' I should be inclined to suspect a
strain of negro or Indian blood. I heard her discussing what she
called 'the colour problem' with Cecilia, and she seemed to speak with
a good deal of bitterness. Yet Mrs. Pomeroy is evidently a lady. The
girl dresses well in the American style, which I never attempt. She
has, I suppose, what would be called a fine figure, though the waist
seems of no importance just now. Her feet, in shoes, look small
enough, though the heels she wears astonish me; it is years since I
have worn anything but a simple cloth boot, neat but roomy. I have
seen her glance at my feet several times, as if she observed something
odd about them.



Isn't it a most extraordinary thing that when people are in a
comfortable house, with a good roof over their heads, solid meals
served at regular intervals three or four times a day, and every
possible comfort, they instantly want to go outside and make
themselves not only thoroughly uncomfortable, but generally ill
besides, by having a picnic in the open? Ever since I had that walk
with Miss Pomeroy, she has done nothing but talk about a picnic at
some beastly little village in the vicinity where there is a church
that the guide-books tell the usual lies about. As to churches--a
church to my mind is a place to go to on Sundays with the rest of the
congregation. It is plainly not constructed for week-days, when it is
empty, cold, and damp, and you have to take your hat off in the
draughts all the same, and talk in whispers. As to picnics--there's a
kind of folly about _them_ that it is altogether beyond me to
understand. Why such things ever take place outside the grounds of a
lunatic asylum, goodness only knows; they ought to be forbidden by
law, and the people who organise them shut up as dangerous. However, I
see I am in for this one. Miss Pomeroy wants the motor, but she won't
get the motor without me. Heaven be praised, the weather has broken up
in the meantime, which is the reason I am staying on here. Motoring on
Dartmoor in a tearing nor'easter is no catch. My quarters are
comfortable, and but for the women I should be doing very well.

The worst of it is, there is a whole batch of them now. A Mrs. MacGill
and her companion are here, and these two and the Americans seem to
have met before. The two old women are as thick as thieves, and the
fair Virginia (she told me her name, though she might have seen, I am
sure, that I was simply dying not to know it) seems to have a good
deal to say to the companion, though the latter doesn't appear to me
much in the line of such a lively young person. There's no rule, of
course, for women's likes and dislikes, any more than for anything
else that has to do with them. The unlucky part of it is that Mrs.
MacGill seemed to spot me the moment she heard my name. She says my
father was her brother-in-law's first cousin, and her brother-in-law
died in Agra in a fit; though what that has to do with it, goodness
knows. It means I have got to be civil and to get mixed up with the
rest of the party. A man can never be as rude as he feels, which is
one of the drawbacks of civilisation. So I have to sit at their table
now, and talk the whole time--can't even have a meal in peace. The old
woman MacGill is on one side, the American girl on the other. The
companion sits opposite. _She_ keeps quiet, which is one mercy;
generally has neuralgia,--a pale, rather lady-like young woman with a
seen-better-days-and-once-was-decidedly-pretty air about her. The
American girl's clothes take the cake, of course--a new frock every
night and such ribbons and laces--my stars! I'd rather not be the man
who has to pay for them. I'm surprised at her talking so much to the
humble companion--thought this sort of girl never found it worth while
to be civil to her own sex; but I conclude this is not invariably the

'I'm afraid your neuralgia is very bad up here,' I heard her say to
Miss Evesham (that's the companion's name) after dinner last night.
'You come right along to my room, and I'll rub menthol on your poor
temples.' And they went off together and disappeared for the night.

The weather has cleared up to-day, though it is still too cold and
windy, thank the Lord, for the picnic to Widdington-in-the-Wolds. I
took the motor to a little town about four miles off, and overtook
the fair Virginia and Miss Evesham, footing it there on some errand of
Mrs. MacGill's. I slowed down as I got near, but I soon saw Miss
Pomeroy intended me to stop; there's no uncertainty about any of _her_

'Now, Sir Archibald,' said she with a straight look which made me
understand that obedience was my _rôle_, 'I know what you're going to
do this very minute. Miss Evesham's neuralgia is so bad that she can
scarcely see, and you've got to take her right along in your motor to
the Unicorn Inn, and help choose a pony for Mrs. MacGill. Just a man's
job--you'd love doing it, I should think.'

I wanted to hum and haw a bit, but she didn't give me the chance. She
pulled open the door behind. 'Get in quick!' she said to the
companion. 'Quick, quick! a motor puff-puffing this way always makes
me think it's in a desperate hurry and won't wait!'

_I_, however, was not in such a hurry this time, though there's
nothing I hate more, as a rule, than wasting motor power standing

'What are _you_ going to do, Miss Pomeroy?' I shouted above the
throbbing and shaking of the machine.

'Going right home to my mother,' she replied. 'It's about time, too.'

'No, you don't,' thought I, 'and leave me saddled with the companion.'
For if you _must_ have female society, you may as well have it
good-looking when you are about it.

'Won't you do me the pleasure of taking a ride too?' I asked politely.
I knew perfectly well she was dying for a ride in the motor, and I had
turned a deaf ear to dozens of hints. But now that she wanted to do
the other woman a good turn and walk home herself, nothing would
content me but to have her in the motor. I know how inconvenient it is
to be good-natured and unselfish. I am obliged to be both so often,
against my natural inclinations.

Miss Virginia's eyes gave a sparkle, but she hesitated a moment.

'The front seat's much the jolliest,' I remarked, 'and it's very good
going--no end of a surface.' She gave a jump and was up beside me in
half a second, and we were off.

By Jove--that was a good bit of going! The road was clear, the surface
like velvet. I took every bit out of the motor that was in it, and we
went the pace and no mistake. Miss Virginia was as pleased as Punch, I
could see. She had to hold on her hat with both hands, and her cheeks
and lips were as red as roses; the ribbons flew out from her neck, and
flapped across my face, which was a nuisance, of course; they had the
faint scent of some flower or other; I hate smells, as a rule, but
this was not strong enough to be bad. We got down at the Unicorn, and
though I said I knew nothing whatever about ponies, I had to look
through the stables with the hostler, and choose a beast and a trap
for Mrs. MacGill. There was only one of each, so the choice was not
difficult. The two girls drove home in the turnout. I thought it was
time to disappear.



I have had a miserable thirty-six hours. Mrs. MacGill has been ill
again--or has believed that she is ill again. I do not think there is
much wrong with her, but the over-sympathetic Mrs. Pomeroy went on
describing symptoms to her till she became quite nervous and went to
bed, demanding that a doctor be sent for. This was no easy matter, but
at last a callow medical fledgling was dug out somewhere, who was
ready to agree with all I said to him.

'Suggest fresh air and exercise to Mrs. MacGill,' I said, 'for she
considers the one poisonous, the other almost a crime, and knitting
the only legitimate form of amusement.'

So he recommended air and exercise--driving exercise by preference.

'I used to like the donkey-chairs at Tunbridge Wells,' Mrs. MacGill
responded, 'but horses go so rapidly.'

However, after the doctor had gone she began to consider his advice.

'Shall I go to the stables and arrange for you to have a drive this
afternoon?' I asked.

She demurred, for she never can make up her mind about anything.

'I can't decide just now,' she hesitated. 'I'll think it over.'

I took up the guide-book, and was allowed to read its thrilling pages
for some ten minutes. Then Mrs. MacGill called me again.

'Perhaps if you go and select a _very_ quiet horse we might have a
drive in the afternoon,' she said.

I went and saw the horse, and arranged for the drive, then returned to
tell Mrs. MacGill of the arrangement. She was not pleased. Had I said
that _perhaps_ we would drive out at three o'clock, it would have been
more to her mind.

'Go back and tell the man that perhaps we'll go,' she said.

'But perhaps some one else will take out the horse, in that case,' I
suggested, cross and weary with her fidgeting. All the rest of the
forenoon was one long vacillation: she would go, or she would not go;
it would rain, or it would not rain; she would countermand the
carriage or she would order it. But by three o'clock the sun was
shining, so I got her bonneted and cloaked and led her down to the
hall. The motor had come round at the same moment with our carriage.
Its owner was looking it over before he made a start, and I was not
surprised to see that Miss Virginia Pomeroy was also at the door, and
that she showed great interest in the tires of the motor. Had I been
that young man I must have asked her to drive with me there and then,
she looked so delightful; but he is rather a phlegmatic creature,
surely, for he didn't seem to think of it. Just as we were preparing
to step into the carriage, the motor gave out a great puff of steam,
and the horse in our vehicle sprang up in the shafts and took a shy to
one side. It was easily quieted down, but of course the incident was
more than enough for Mrs. MacGill.

'Take it away,' she said to the driver. 'I won't endanger my life with
such an animal--brown horses are always wild, and so are black ones.'

It was vain for me to argue; she just turned away and walked upstairs
again, I following to take off her bonnet and cloak, and supply her
again with her knitting. So there was an end of the carriage exercise,
it seemed.

But there's a curious boring pertinacity in the creature, for after we
had sat in silence for about ten minutes she remarked:--

'Cecilia, the doctor _said_ I was to have carriage exercise--Don't you
think I could get a donkey-chair?'

'No,' I replied quite curtly. 'Donkey-chairs do not grow on Dartmoor.'

She never saw that I was provoked, and perhaps it was just as well.

'No,' she said after a pause for reflection. 'No, I dare say they do
not, but don't you think if you walked to Stoke Babbage you might be
able to get one for me?'

'I might be able to get a pony chaise and a quiet pony,' I answered,
scenting the possibility of a five-mile walk that would give me an
hour or two of peace.

'Well, will you go and try if you can get one?' she asked.

'If you don't mind being left alone for a few hours, I'll do what I
can,' I said. She was beginning to object, when Virginia appeared,
leading in her mother.

'Here's my mother come to keep you company, Mrs. MacGill,' she
explained. 'She wishes to hear all about your chill, from the first
shiver right on to the last cough.' She placed Mrs. Pomeroy in an
armchair, and fairly drove me out of the room before her, pushing me
with both hands.

'Come! Run! Fly! Escape!' she cried. 'You are as white as butter with
waiting on that woman's fads. I won't let you come in again under
three hours. My mother's symptoms are good to last for two and a half
hours, and then Mrs. MacGill can fill up the rest of the time with

Gaiety like Virginia's is infectious. I ran, yes, really ran
downstairs along with her, quite forgetting my headache and weariness.
I almost turned traitor to Mrs. MacGill, and was ready to laugh at her
with this girl.

'She wants a pony chaise, and I'm to go down to Stoke Babbage to
choose it,' I said.

'Why, that's five miles away, isn't it?' she asked. 'You're not half
equal to a walk like that.'

'Anything--anything for a respite from Mrs. MacGill!' I cried.

'Well, if you are fit for it, I reckon I am,' Virginia said, and with
that we set off together down the road....




'The inn at the world's end. The inn at the world's end.' These words
come into my mind every morning when I look out of my window at the
barren moor with its clumps of blazing whin, the misty distance, and
the outline of Grey Tor against the sky. That 'giant among rocks
rising in sombre and sinister majesty athwart the blue' looks to my
eye like an interesting stone on a nice, middle-sized hill. If only
they would dwell more upon the strange sense of desolation and mystery
it seems to put into the landscape, instead of being awed by its
so-called size! I am fascinated by it, but refuse to be astounded.

This naughty conception of the colossus of the moor is the one link
between Sir Archibald and me, for he has seen Ben Nevis and I the
Yosemite crags. Geologically speaking, I admit that these moor rocks
must be fascinating to the student, and certainly we at home are
painfully destitute of 'clapper-bridges,' 'hut-circles,' and
'monoliths'; although I heard an imaginative fellow-countryman declare
yesterday to a party of English trippers that we had so many we became
tired to death of the sight of them, and the government ordered
hundreds of them to be pulled down.

Every inn, even one at the world's end, is a little picture of life,
and we have under our roof all sorts of dramas in process of

Shall I always be travelling, I wonder, picking up acquaintances here
and there, sometimes friends, now and then a lover perhaps! Imagine a
hotel lover, a lodging-house suitor, a husband, whom one would
remember afterwards was rented with an apartment! But if I had found
only Cecilia Evesham in this bleak spot I could be thankful for
coming. She is like a white thornbush in a barren field, and she is
not plain either, as they all persist in thinking her. Life, Mrs.
MacGill, and the village dressmaker have for the moment placed her
under a total eclipse; but she will shine yet, this poor little sunny
beam, all put out of countenance by fierce lights and heavy shadows.
To-day is her birthday, and mamma, who has taken a great fancy to her,
gave her a long, wide scarf of creamy tambour lace. I presented a
little violet brooch and belt-buckle of purple enamel, and by hard
labour extracted from Mrs. MacGill a hideous little jug of Aller Vale
pottery with 'Think of Me' printed on it. Think of her, indeed! One
can always do that without having one's memory jogged, or jugged. Sir
Archibald joined in the affair most amiably, and offered a red-bound
Dartmoor Guide which he chanced to have with him. When we made our
little gifts and I draped Miss Evesham in her tambour scarf, she
looked only twenty-seven and a half by the clock! I wanted to put a
flower in her hair, but she shook her head, saying, 'Roses are for
young and lovely people like you, Virginia, who have other roses to
match in their cheeks.' I was pleased that Sir Archibald was so
friendly about the simple birthday festivities. I can forgive being
snubbed a little myself, or if not exactly snubbed, treated as a
mysterious (and inferior) being from another planet; but if he had
been condescending or disagreeable with Miss Evesham I should have
hated him. As it is I am quite grateful for him as a distinct addition
to our dull feminine party. He is a new type to me, I confess it, and
I had not till to-day made much headway in understanding him. When a
man has positively no shallows one always credits him (I dare say
falsely) with immeasurable depths. His unlikeness to all the men I've
known increases his charm. He seems to attach such undue importance to
small attentions, as if they meant not only a loss of dignity to the
man, but an unwise feeding of the woman's vanity as well. He gave me
the Black Watch ribbon for my banjo with as much inward hesitation and
fear as Breck Calhoun would feel in asking me to share his future on
nothing a year. He didn't grudge the ribbon, not he! but he was
awfully afraid it might prove too encouraging a symptom for me to bear
humbly and modestly.

Then that little affair of yesterday--was there ever anything more
characteristic or more unexpected! I am certain he followed me into
the lane for a walk, and would have joined me if Madam Spoil-Sport had
not been my companion. Then came the stampede of the hill ponies,
which may or may not have been a frightful and dangerous episode. I
can only say it seemed so terrifying that I should have fainted if I
hadn't been so surprised at Sir Archibald's behaviour; and I'm not at
all a fainting sort of person, either.

Mrs. MacGill never looked more shapeless and stupid, and having been
uncommonly selfish and peevish that day, was even less worth
preserving than usual. I don't know what the etiquette is in regard to
life-saving. No doubt the (worthy) aged should always have the first
chance, but in any event I should think a man would evince some slight
regret at seeing a young and lovely creature, just on the threshold of
life, stamped into jelly by a herd of snorting ponies! But Sir
Archibald apparently did not care what happened to me so long as he
could rescue his countrywoman. I waited quite still in that awful
moment when the clattering herd was charging down upon us, confident
that a man of his strength and coolness would look out for us both.
But he snatched the sacred person of the Killjoy, threw her against a
gate, stood in front of her, and with out-stretched arms defied the
oncoming foe. His gesture, his courage, the look in his eye, would
have made the wildest pony quail. It did more,--it made me quail; but
in the same instant he shouted to me, 'Look out for yourself and be
sharp! Shin up that bank! Look alive!'

Shinning was not my customary attitude, but it was not mine 'to make
reply.' I shinned; that is all there is to say about the matter. I
_was_ 'sharp' and I _did_ 'look alive,' being deserted by my natural
protector. I, Virginia Pomeroy, aged twenty-two, native of Richmond,
U.S.A., clambered up one of those steep banks found only in Devonshire
lanes,--a ten or twelve foot bank, crowned with a straggling, ragged
hedge of thorn. I dug my fingers and toes into the earth and clutched
at grass tufts, roots, or anything clutchable, and ended by tumbling
into a thicket of freshly cut beechen twigs. I was as angry as I had
breath to be, but somehow I was awed by the situation: by Mrs.
MacGill's trembling gratitude; by Sir Archibald's presence of mind; by
his imperious suggestion as to my way of escape, for I could never
have climbed that sheer wall of earth unless I had been ordered to in
good set terms. Coming down from my heights a few minutes later,
looking like an intoxicated lady who has resisted the well-meant
advice of a policeman, I put Mrs. MacGill together and shook Sir
Archibald's hand. I am sure I don't know why; he did precious little
for me, but he had been something of a hero, nevertheless.

'_Shin up that bank and look alive!_' I was never spoken to in that
way before, in all my life. I wish Breck Calhoun could have heard him!

       *       *       *       *       *


     _Saturday afternoon_

I have had a terrible experience, which has upset me completely and
damaged my right knee, besides agitating me so much that I can
scarcely remember how it happened. I have read that a drowning man
sees his whole life before him in a flash of time. It is different
with women perhaps. I saw no flash of anything, and thought only of
myself,--remembering a horrible story I read somewhere about a horse
in the Crimea that bit the faces of the enemy. Sir Archibald _flung_
me against a gate. The intention was kind, I dare say, but even then I
could just hear the beads ripping off my mantle as I fell against the
bars. The lane seemed full of ponies, all screaming, as I didn't know
horses could scream, and kicking like so many grasshoppers.

'It's all right! Nothing has happened!' he called to the girl, when
the herd receded.

'I don't know what you two call happened,' I said, as soon as I could
speak. 'We have been nearly killed--all of us, especially me.'

I looked at Miss Pomeroy; so did Sir Archibald. She is an active girl,
and at the first suggestion of danger she had scrambled headlong up a
steep bank, where she clung to the roots of the hedge, entirely
forgetting all about me. She now came down, and required some
assistance in descending, although she had climbed up, which is more
difficult, all in a moment. She was certainly pale--really pale for
the first time since she came here, and did not seem to think about
her hat, which was hanging half-way down her back by this time. Poor
Mr. MacGill used always to say that when a pretty girl forgot her
appearance there was something really serious in the air. She seemed
to have forgotten, but I dare say she really was thinking that she
looked nicer that way. She came up to the young man, and held out her
hand to him, saying, 'Thank you, Sir Archibald.' Americans are very
forward, certainly. If I had said 'Thank you,' and offered to shake
hands with him, there might have been some reason for it, although I
never thought of doing so; it was decidedly Me that Sir Archibald had
rescued. This did not seem to make a bit of difference to them,
however. He took her hand and shook it, and then I must say had the
civility to give Me his arm, and we all walked back to the hotel. I
felt so shattered that I went to bed for the rest of the afternoon.



Mrs. MacGill is not the kind of person you'd associate with
danger,--being an armchair-and-feather-bed sort of character,--yet, by
Jingo, the old girl has had a narrow squeak to-day. She and Miss
Virginia went out for a walk together, the companion being invisible
with the usual headache. I thought I would follow them a little way.
Mrs. MacGill is an interfering old person, and I have noticed of late
that she scents a flirtation between the fair American and me. Whether
there is a flirtation or not, I don't know (_I_ am not learned in such
things); but if there were, she is not the person to stop it, nor any
other old cat on earth. She has merely succeeded--I wish she knew--in
putting it into my head that American girls are apt to be exceedingly
attractive as well as eligible in the matrimonial market. I should
think Miss Virginia was as eligible as any of them, and better looking
than most.

I kept the pair in sight, and it was lucky that I did. A tremendous
explosion from a quarry where some men are blasting made me stop
short, and as to the old girl in front, she leaped about a foot into
the air, and I could hear Miss Virginia laugh and say something funny
about ankles and white stockings. Just then a most extraordinary noise
began at the top of the lane, a pounding of hoofs and grinding of
gravel and flying of stones; and in another minute, round the corner
of this lane, which was of the narrowest sort and nearly roofed in
with trees and banks, as these beastly Devonshire lanes always are,
came a herd of moor ponies--about twenty or thirty of them--squeaking
and biting and kicking, in a regular stampede. The report of the
blasting had startled them, I don't doubt, and part terror, part
vice, made them kick up a shindy and set off at full gallop. There
wasn't a moment to lose. I ran for the women, with a shout, thinking
only of the young one, of course. But when I saw the two together,
there wasn't a question of which I must help. Miss Virginia had legs
of her own; if Mrs. MacGill had any, they were past helping her now.
There was a sort of hurdle to the right; I managed to jam the old
woman against it and shout to the girl, 'Shin up that bank! Look
alive!' while I stood in front, waving my arms and carrying on like a
madman to frighten the ponies. They bore down on us in a swelter of
dust; but just when they were within about a yard of our position they
swerved to the left, stopped half a second, looking at us out of the
corners of their eyes, snuffed the air, snorted, gave a squeal or two
more, and galloped off down the lane. It was a pretty narrow
shave,--nothing, of course, if the women hadn't been there. Miss
Virginia and I shook hands over it, and between us we got the old lady
back to the hotel, nearly melted with fright.

That night after dinner I was smoking on the verandah in front of the
hotel. I heard Miss Virginia singing as she crossed the hall, and
looked in.

'It's rather a jolly night, Miss Pomeroy,' I said, 'not at all cold.'

'Isn't it?' she asked, and came to the door.

'There's a comfortable seat here,' I added, 'and the verandah keeps
off the wind from the moor.'

She came out. It was quite dark, for the sky was cloudy and there was
no moon, but there was a splash of light where we sat, from the hall
window, so that I could see Miss Virginia and she could see me. She
was dressed in a very pretty frock, all pink and white, and I have
certainly now come round to the artist's opinion that she is an
uncommonly pretty girl; not that I care for pretty girls,--of course
they are the worst kind, and I have always avoided them so far.

'Well,' said Miss Virginia, 'you've done a fairly good day's work, I
should think, and can go to bed with an easy conscience and sleep the
sleep of the just!'

'Why, particularly?' I inquired bashfully.

'Why?' cried Miss Virginia. 'Haven't you rescued Age and Scotland from
a cruel death? I suppose it didn't matter to you what became of Youth
and America. But I forgive you, you managed the other so well.'

I couldn't help laughing and getting rather red, and Miss Virginia
gave me a wicked look out of her black eyes.

'Why, Miss Pomeroy,' I said in a confused way, 'don't you see how it
was? I argued to myself you had your own legs to save yourself on,

But here Miss Virginia jumped up with a little scream.

'We don't talk about legs that way, where I come from!' she said, but
I saw she was not really shocked, only laughing, with the rum little
dimples coming out in her cheeks.

'Won't you shake hands again,' I suggested, 'to show you have quite
forgiven me?'

Miss Virginia's hand was in mine, I was holding it, when who should
come to the door and look out but Mrs. MacGill.

'I think it is very cold and damp for you to be out at this hour, Miss
Pomeroy,' she remarked pointedly.

'Well, I suppose it is, Mrs. MacGill,' said Miss Virginia, as cool as
you please, lifting up the long tail of her dress and making a little
face at me over her shoulder.

Mrs. MacGill gave a loud sniff and never budged till Miss Virginia was
safely inside. The old harridan--I'll teach her a lesson if she
doesn't mend her manners!


     _Friday evening_

Here I was interrupted, and now something new has happened that
requires telling, so I'll skip our adventures of Thursday afternoon,
and go on to Friday....

Well, this morning I came down to breakfast, almost blind with
neuralgia. I struggled on till luncheon, when it became unbearable.
Virginia (I call her that already) looked at me in the kindest way
during the meal.

'You're ill,' she said. 'You need putting to bed.'

Mrs. MacGill looked surprised. 'Cecilia is never very ill,' she
observed tepidly.

'She's ill now, no mistake,' Virginia persisted, and rose and came
round to my side of the table. 'Come and let me help you upstairs and
put you to bed.'

I was too ill to resist, and she led me to my room and tucked me up

'Now,' she said, 'this headache wants peace of mind to cure it; I know
the kind. You can't get peace for thinking about Mrs. MacGill. I'm
going to take her off your mind for the afternoon--it's time I tried
companioning--no girl knows when she may need to earn a living. You
won't know your Mrs. MacGill when you get her again! I'll dress her up
and walk her out, and humour her.'

She bent down and kissed me as she spoke. It was the sweetest kiss!
Her face is like a peach to feel, and her clothes have a delicious
scent of violets. Somehow all my troubles seemed to smooth out. She
rustled away in her silk-lined skirts, and I fell into a much-needed
sleep, feeling that all would be well.

I was mistaken, however. All did not go well, but on the contrary
something very unfortunate happened while I was sleeping so quietly.
It must have been about four o'clock when I was wakened by Virginia
coming into my room again. She looked a little ruffled and pale.

'I've brought Mrs. MacGill back to you, Miss Evesham,' she said, 'but
it's thanks to Sir Archibald, not to me. She will tell you all about
it.' With that Mrs. MacGill came tottering into the room, plumped down
upon the edge of my bed, and began a breathless, incoherent story in
which wild ponies, stampedes, lanes, Sir Archibald, and herself were
all mixed up together.

'Did he really save you from a bad accident?' I asked Virginia, for it
was impossible to make out anything from Mrs. MacGill.

Virginia nodded. 'He did, Cecilia, and I like him,' she said.

'Oh ho!' I thought. 'Is it possible that I am going to be mixed up in
a romance? She likes him, does she? Very good; we shall see.'

And then, because the world always appears a neutral-tinted place to
me, without high lights of any kind, I rebuked myself for imagining
that anything lively could ever come my way. 'I couldn't even look on
at anything romantic nowadays,' I thought, 'I doubt if there _is_ such
a thing as romance; it's just a figment of youth. Come, Mrs. MacGill,
I'll find your knitting for you,' I said; 'that will compose you
better than anything else.'




We had rather a nice half-hour at Little Widger to-day, Sir Archibald
and I. Of course we were walking. It is still incomprehensible to me,
the comfort, the pleasure even, these people get out of the simple use
of their legs. We passed Wishtcot and Wildycombe and then came upon
Little Widger, not having known of its existence. The tiny hamlet
straggles down a side hill and turns a corner, to terminate in the
village inn, quaintly named 'The Mug o' Cider.' An acacia laden with
yellow tassels hangs over the stone gate, purple and white lilacs
burst through the hedges, and there is a cob-and-thatch cottage, with
a dazzling white hawthorn in front of it and a black pig nosing at
the gate.

O the loveliness of that May noon, a sunny noon for once; the
freshness of the beeches; the golden brown of the oaks; above all, the
shimmering beauty of the young birches! It was as if the sap had just
brimmed and trembled into leaves; as if each drop had thinned itself
into a transparent oval of liquid green.

The sight of Mrs. MacGill being dragged by Greytoria over a very
distant hill was soothing in itself, or it would have been if I hadn't
known Miss Evesham was toiling up beside her. We were hungry and
certain of being late to luncheon, so Sir Archibald proposed food of
some sort at the inn. He had cold meat, bread and cheese, and a
tankard of Devonshire cider, while I had delicious junket, clouted
cream, and stewed apple. Before starting on our long homeward stroll
we had a cosy chat, the accessories being a fire, a black cat, and a
pipe, with occasional incursions by a small maid-servant who looked
exactly like a Devonshire hill pony,--strong, sturdy, stocky,
heavy-footed, and tangled as to mane.

We were discussing our common lack of relatives. 'I have no one but my
mother and two distant cousins,' I said.

The sympathetic man would have murmured, 'Poor little soul!' and the
too sentimental one would have seized the opportunity to exclaim,
'Then let me be all in all to you!' But Sir Archibald removed his pipe
and remarked, 'Good thing too, I dare say'; and then in a moment
continued with graceful tact and frankness, 'They say you can't tell
anything about an American family by seeing one of 'em.'

Upon my word, the hopeless candour of these our brethren of the
British Isles is astonishing. Sometimes after a prolonged conversation
with two or three of them I feel like going about the drawing-room
with a small broom and dust-pan and sweeping up the home truths that
should lie in scattered profusion on the floor; and which do, no
doubt, were my eyes as keen in seeing as my ears in hearing.

However, I responded meekly, 'I suppose that is true; but I doubt if
the peculiarity is our exclusive possession. None of my relatives
belonged to the criminal classes, and they could all read and write,
but I dare say some of them were more desirable than others from a
social point of view. It must be so delicious to belong to an order of
things that never questions itself! Breckenridge Calhoun says that is
the one reason he can never quite get on with the men over here at
first; which always makes me laugh, for in his way, as a rabid
Southerner, he is just as bad.'

There was quite an interval here in which the fire crackled, the black
cat purred, and the pipe puffed. Sir Archibald broke the cosy silence
by asking, 'Who is this Mr. Calhoun whom you and your mother mention
so often?'

The conversation that ensued was quite a lengthy one, but I will
report as much of it as I can remember. It was like this:--

_Jinny._ Breckenridge Calhoun is my 'childhood's friend,' the kind of
man whose estates join yours, who has known you ever since you were
born; liked you, quarrelled with you, forgotten you, and been sweet
upon you by turns; and who finally marries you, when you have both
given up hope of finding anybody more original and startling.--By the
way, am I the first American girl you've met?

_Sir A._ Not the first I've met, but the first I've known. There was a
jolly sort of schoolgirl from Indiana whom I saw at my old aunt's
house in Edinburgh. There were half a dozen elderly tabbies pressing
tea and scones on her, and she cried, just as I was coming in at the
door, 'Oh, no more tea, please! I could hear my last scone splash!'

_Jinny (shaking with laughter)._ Oh, how lovely! I am so glad you had
such a picturesque and fearless young person as a first experience;
but as she has been your only instructress, you have much to learn,
and I might as well begin my duty to you at once.

_Sir A._ You're taking a deal of trouble.

_Jinny._ Oh, it's no trouble, but a pleasure rather, to put a
fellow-being on the right track. You must first disabuse your mind of
the American girl as you find her in books.

_Sir A._ Don't have to; never read 'em.

_Jinny._ Very well, then,--the American girl of the drama and casual
conversation; that's worse. You must forget her supposed freedom of
thought and speech, her rustling silk skirts, her jingling side bag or
chatelaine, her middle initial, her small feet and hands, her high
heels, her extravagant dress, her fortune,--which only one in ten
thousand possesses,--her overworked father and weakly indulgent
mother, called respectively poppa and momma. These are but
accessories,--the frame, not the picture. They exist, that is quite
true, but no girl has the whole list, thank goodness! I, for example,
have only one or two of the entire lot.

_Sir A._ Which ones? I was just thinking you had 'em all.

_Jinny._ You must find out something for yourself! The foundation idea
of modern education is to make the pupil the discoverer of his own
knowledge. As I was saying when interrupted, if you remove these
occasional accompaniments of the American girl you find simply the
same old 'eternal feminine.' Of course there is a wide range of
choice. You seem to think over here that there is only one kind of
American girl; but if you would only go into the subject deeply you
would find fat and lean, bright and dull, pert and meek, some that
could only have been discovered by Columbus, others that might have
been brought up in the rocky fastnesses of a pious Scottish home.

_Sir A._ I don't get on with girls particularly well.

_Jinny._ I can quite fancy that! Not one American girl in a hundred
would take the trouble to understand you. You need such a lot of
understanding that an indolent girl or a reserved one or a spoiled one
or a busy one would keep thinking, 'Does it pay?'

_Sir A. (reddening and removing his pipe thoughtfully, pressing down
the tobacco in the bowl)._ Hullo, you can hit out when you like.

_Jinny._ I am not 'hitting out'; I get on delightfully well with you
because I have lots of leisure just now to devote to your case. Of
course it would be a great economy of time and strength if you chose
to meet people half-way, or perhaps an eighth! It's only the amenities
of the public street, after all, that casual acquaintances need, in
order to have a pleasant time along the way. The private path is quite
another thing; even I put out the sign, 'No thoroughfare,' over that;
but I don't see why you need build bramble hedges across the common
roads of travel.--Do you know what a 'scare-cat' is?

_Sir A._ Can't say I do.

_Jinny._ It's a nice expressive word belonging to the infants'
vocabulary of slang. I think you are regular 'scare-cats' over here,
when it comes to the treatment of casual acquaintances. You must be
clever enough to know a lady or a gentleman when you see one, and you
don't take such frightful risks with ladies and gentlemen.

During this entire colloquy Sir Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie, Baronet,
of Kindarroch, eyed me precisely as if he had been a dignified mastiff
observing the incomprehensible friskings of a playful, foolish puppy
of quite another species. 'Good Heavens,' thinks the mastiff, raising
his eyes in devout astonishment, 'can I ever at any age have disported
myself like that? The creature seems to have positively none of my
qualities; I wonder if it really _is_ a dog?'

'Do you approve of marriage,--go in for it?' queried Sir Archibald in
a somewhat startling manner, after a long pause, and puffing steadily
the while.

'I approve of it entirely,' I answered, 'especially for men; women are
terribly hampered by it, to be sure.'

'I should have put that in exactly the opposite way,' he said

'I know you would,' I retorted, 'and that's precisely the reason I
phrased it as I did. One must keep your attention alive by some means
or other, else it would go on strike and quit work altogether.'

Sir Archibald threw back his head and broke into an unexpected peal of
laughter at this. 'Come along out of doors, Miss Virginia Pomeroy,' he
said, standing up and putting his pipe in his pocket. 'You're an
awfully good chap, American or not!'


     _Sunday evening_

This day has been very wet. I had fully intended to go to church,
because I always make a point of doing so unless too ill to move, as I
consider it fully more a duty than a privilege, and example is
everything. However, after the fright I had yesterday, and the
shaking, I had such a pain in my right knee that devotion was out of
the question, even had my mantle been fit to put on (which it won't be
until Cecilia has mended all the trimming), so I resolved to stay
quietly in bed. After luncheon I could get no sleep, for Miss Pomeroy
was singing things which Cecilia says are camp meeting hymns. They
sounded to me like a circus, but they may introduce dance music at
church services in New York, and make horses dance to it, too.
Anything is possible to a people that can produce girls like Virginia
Pomeroy. One can hardly believe in looking at her that she belongs to
the nation of Longfellow, who wrote that lovely poem on 'Maidenhood.'
Poor Mr. MacGill used to be very fond of it:--

     'Standing, with reluctant feet,
     Where the brook and river meet.'

Even if there were a river here (we can see nothing of the Dart from
this hotel), one could never connect Miss Pomeroy with 'reluctant
feet' in any way. She has quite got hold of that unfortunate young
man. With my poor health, and sleeping so badly, it is very difficult
for me to interfere, but justice to the son of my old friend will make
me do what I can.

About half-past five I came down and could see nobody. Mrs. Pomeroy
suffers from the same tickling cough as I do, after drinking tea, and
had gone to her own room. Cecilia was nowhere to be seen. I asked the
waiter, who is red-faced, but a Methodist, to tell me where she was,
and he told me in the Billiard Room. Of course I didn't know where I
was going, or I should never have entered it, especially on a wet
Sunday afternoon; but when I opened the door I stood horrified by what
I saw.

Miss Pomeroy may be accustomed to such a place (I have read that they
are called 'brandy saloons' in America), but I never saw anything like
it. There was a great deal of tobacco, which at once set up my
tickling cough. Sir Archibald was holding what gamblers call a cue,
and rubbing it with chalk, I suppose to deaden the sound. On a
table--there were several chairs in the room, so it cannot have been
by mistake--sat Miss Pomeroy and Cecilia. The American was strumming
on a be-ribboned banjo.

'O Mrs. MacGill, I thought you were asleep,' said Cecilia.

'I wish I were; but I fear that what I see is only too true. Pray,
Cecilia, come away with me at once,' I exclaimed.

Sir Archibald had placed a chair for me, but I took no notice of it,
except to say, 'I'm surprised that you don't offer _me_ a seat on the

We left the room at once, and I spoke to Cecilia with some severity,
saying that I could never countenance such on-goings, and that Miss
Pomeroy was leading her all wrong. 'If she is determined to marry a
baronet,' I said, 'let her do it; but even an American might think it
more necessary that a baronet should be determined to marry her, and
might shrink from such a form of pursuit. Well, if you are determined
to laugh at me,' I went on, 'there must be some other arrangement
between us, but you cannot leave me at present, alone on a hillside
like this, just after influenza, amongst herds of wild ponies.'

Cecilia cried at last, and upset me so much that I had another bad
night, suffering much from my knee, and obliged to have a cup of cocoa
at 2.30 A.M. Cecilia appeared half asleep as she made it, although
the day before she could spring out of bed the moment the light came
in, to look at the sunrise. These so-called poetic natures are very
puzzling and inconsistent.


There is no doubt, alas! that the weather is improving and that we
shall soon be in for that picnic. I have promised the motor and
promised my society. There is something about that girl which makes me
feel and act in a way I hardly think is quite normal. She forces me to
do things I don't want to do, and the things don't seem so bad in
themselves, at least as long as she is there. The artist I saw at
Exeter has turned up here, the one who comes to look at the gorse; at
any rate he makes a man to speak to, which is a merciful variety. He
talks a lot of rot of course,--raves about the 'blue distance' here,
as if it mattered what colour the distance is. But I think he is off
his chump in other ways besides; for instance, he was saying to-day he
was sick of landscape and pining to try his hand at a portrait.

'There's your model quite ready,' said I, indicating Miss Virginia,
all in white, with a scarlet parasol, looking as pretty as a rose.

'Bah!' said the artist, 'who wants to paint "the young person" whose
eyes show you a blank past, a delightful present, and a prosperous
future! Eyes that have cried are the only ones to paint. I should
prefer the old lady's companion.'

I felt positively disgusted at this, but of course there is no
accounting for tastes, and if a man is as blind as a bat, he can't
help it; only I wonder he elects to gain his livelihood as an artist.

I walked with Miss Virginia to-day down to the little village about a
mile away. It was all through the lanes, and I could hardly get her
along because of the flowers. The banks were certainly quite blue with
violets, and Miss Virginia would pick them, though I explained it was
waste of time, for they would all be dead in half an hour and have to
be thrown away.

'But if I make up a nice little bunch for your buttonhole,' said she,
'will that be waste of time?' Of course I was obliged to say
'No,'--you have to tell such lies to women, one of the reasons I
dislike their society.

'But of course you will throw them away as soon as they are faded,
poor dears!' continued Miss Virginia.

I didn't see what else a sensible man could do with decaying
vegetation, though it was plain that this was not what she expected me
to say. Luckily, the village came in sight at this moment, so I was
able to change the subject.

Miss Virginia seems very keen on villages, and went on about the
thatched cottages and the church tower and the lych-gate in such a way
that I conclude they don't have these things in America, where people
are really up to date. It was in vain for me to tell her that thatch
is earwiggy, as well as damp, and that every sensible landowner is
substituting slate roofs as fast as he can. We went into the church,
which was as cold and dark as a vault, and Miss Virginia was intensely
pleased with that too, and I could hardly get her away. In the
meantime, the sun had come out tremendously strong, and as it had
rained for some days previously, the whole place was steaming like a
caldron, and we both suddenly felt most awfully slack.

'Let's take a bite here,' I suggested. 'There is sure to be a pothouse
of sorts, and we shall be late for the hotel luncheon anyway.'

The idea seemed to please Miss Virginia, and we hunted for the
pothouse and found it in a corner.

'Oh, what a dear little inn!' cried she. 'I shall love anything they
serve here!'

I was thinking of the luncheon, not the inn, myself, and did not
expect great things from the look of the place, which was low and
poky, with thatched eaves and windows all buried in clematis and ivy.
A little cobbled path led up to the door, with lots of wallflower
growing in the crannies of the wall on each side. There was nobody but
a lass to attend to us, and she gave us bread and cheese, and clouted
cream and plum jam. It wasn't bad. Virginia talked ten to the dozen
all the time, and the funny thing was, she made me talk too. For the
first time in my life I felt that it might not be a bad thing to be
friends with a girl as you can be with a man, but such a thing is not
possible, of course. After a while Virginia went off to make friends
with the landlady and pick flowers in the garden. How beastly dingy
and dark the inn parlour seemed then, when I had time to look about! I
felt, all of a sudden, most tremendously down on my luck. Why? I have
had these fits of the blues lately; I think it must be the Devonshire
cream; I must stop it.

We got home all right. I carried all Miss Virginia's flowers which the
old woman had given her,--about a stack of daffodils, lilies, and


     _Sunday evening_

I begin to think I am what is called a psychical person, for I woke
this morning with a strong presentiment of things happening or about
to happen. The day did not seem to lend itself to events; it had
broken with rain lashing the window panes and a gale of wind blowing
through every crevice of the hotel. Mrs. MacGill did not feel able to
rise for breakfast. As a matter of fact she was more able to do so
than I was, but she didn't think so, which settled the matter.
Therefore I went down to the breakfast-room alone.

If the outer air was dreary, the scene indoors was very cheerful. A
large fire blazed in the grate, and in front of the rain-lashed
windows a table was laid for three. Virginia and Sir Archibald were
already seated at it, and he rose, as I came in, and showed me that my
place was with them.

'We felt sure that Mrs. MacGill would not appear this morning,' he
said, 'so we thought we might all breakfast together.'

What a gay little meal that was! Virginia was at her brightest; she
would have made an owl laugh. I found myself forgetting headache and
unhappiness, as I listened to her; and as for Sir Archibald, he seemed
another man altogether from the rigid young Scotchman of our first

'Well, now, Sir Archibald,' said Virginia, as she rose from the table,
'the question is what a well-brought-up young man like you is going to
do with himself all this wet day. I know what we are to be about, Miss
Evesham and I,--we are going to look at all my new Paris gowns, and
try on all my best hats.'

'There's always the motor,' he said.

Virginia had none of that way of hanging about with young men that
English girls have. There could be no doubt that she was interested in
Sir Archibald, and wished him to be interested in her, but apparently
for that very reason she would not let him see too much of her that
morning. She carried me off to her room, and kept me there so long,
looking at her clothes, that Mrs. MacGill found sharp fault with me
when at last I returned to her. What had I been doing? I might have
known that she would want me, etc.; she had decided not to get up
until tea-time. 'It is impossible to go to church, and it is much
easier to employ one's time well in bed,' she said. So in bed she
remained, and I in attendance upon her until it was time for luncheon.

When I went downstairs, Virginia had also appeared again, and I saw
the wisdom and skill of her tactics; she was far more pleasing to the
young man now, because he had seen nothing of her all morning, and she
knew it. Sir Archibald, it appeared, had passed his time in the
motor-shed, presumably either examining the machinery of the motor or
polishing it up. Virginia seemed to have been writing letters; she
brought a bundle of them down with her, and laid one, address
uppermost, on the table beside her. It was addressed to 'Breckenridge
Calhoun, Esq., Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A.'

I saw Sir Archibald's eyes rest on it for a second, but the moment he
realised the name he almost consciously averted his glance from the
envelope for the remainder of the meal.

Virginia was very lively.

'Well, now, Sir Archibald, I'm going to hear your catechism after
lunch; it's a good occupation for Sunday afternoon,' she said. 'You'll
come right into the coffee-room, and recite it to me, and Miss Evesham
shall correct your mistakes.'

'I'll try to acquit myself well,' he answered, following her meekly
into the coffee-room.

'What is your name?' she began.

'Archibald George,' he replied, and Virginia went on:--

'I'll invent the rest of the questions, I think, so please answer
them well. How old are you?'

'Thirty-one years and two months.'

'Have you any profession?'




'Name these.'

'Motoring, bicycling, shooting, fishing.'

'That will do; you may sit down,' observed Virginia gravely, and then,
turning to me, 'I think the young man has acquitted himself very
creditably in this difficult exam. Miss Evesham, shall we give him a

'Yes,' I replied, laughing at her nonsense. Virginia wrote out on a
sheet of paper:--

     This is to certify that Sir Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie
     passed a creditable examination in Pedigree and Pursuits.

     (Signed) VIRGINIA S. POMEROY.

'Here,' she said, folding it up and giving it to the young man, 'you
should keep this among the proudest archives of your house.'

Sir Archibald put it into his pocket with a funny little smile. 'It
shall have the greatest care always,' he assured her. 'And now, Miss
Pomeroy, won't you and Miss Evesham come and have a game of billiards
with me? I must relax my mind after all this effort.'

I knew that I should not consent to this proposition; Virginia knew
that she should not; we both hesitated for a moment, and then
Virginia, with a glance at the storm outside, made a compromise in
favour of decorum.

'Well, there doesn't seem to be much else to do this wet afternoon,'
she said. 'I don't care if I do come and see how well you play, Sir
Archibald, and perhaps Miss Evesham will come and applaud also.'

I didn't see much difference between playing ourselves and seeing him
play, but perhaps there was a little.

'I'll fetch my banjo,' proposed Virginia, 'and I can sing while you
have your game.'

So to the billiard-room we went, and Virginia perched herself in a
window niche. From this point of vantage she watched Sir Archibald's
strokes, while she strummed away on the instrument, and sang delicious
little songs in her clear, bird-like voice. I watched them both
closely. Sir Archibald was not attending to his play; I saw that he
was thinking far more about her.

'Won't you even chalk my cue for me?' he asked her, holding out the

She received it daintily between her finger and thumb. He stood beside
us, looking down at her in the unmistakable way; he was falling in
love, but he scarcely knew it.

'There's your nasty chalk! See, I've whited all my sleeve,' she said,
making a distracting little grimace. She held out her sleeve for him
to see, and of course he brushed the chalk gently off it, and looked
into her eyes for a moment. I almost felt myself in the way, but I knew
that I was necessary to them just then. They had not advanced far
enough in their flirtation to be left alone yet, so I contented
myself. They both, I thought, were taking me into their confidence.
'You understand--you won't betray us--we mean no harm,' they seemed to
say to me; and I determined that this should be my attitude. I would
play gooseberry obligingly for just so long as I was wanted, and when
the right moment came, would equally obligingly leave them.

The afternoon went merrily on. Sir Archibald sent for a whisky and
soda, and Virginia fetched a huge box of French bonbons, and we
refreshed ourselves according to our tastes. Virginia had just slipped
a very large piece of nougat into her mouth, and I was just going to
put a bit into mine, but happily hadn't done so, when the door opened,
and Mrs. MacGill came walking in, with an air of angry bewilderment
on her face. A billiard cue to her means nothing but dissipation, a
whisky and soda nothing short of sodden drunkenness, so the whole
scene appeared to her a sort of wild orgy. If she had only known how
innocent it all was!

'Cecilia,' she exclaimed, 'the waiter told me that you were here, but
I could scarcely believe him!'

I affected not to see that she was shocked.

'I dare say it is nearly tea-time,' I said. 'Shall we go into the

Mrs. MacGill had a right to be angry with me, but I do not think any
indiscretion could deserve the torrent of stupid upbraiding that fell
upon me now. Many of her reproaches were deserved. I was too old to
have given countenance to this afternoon in the billiard-room; I
should have known better.

But when all is said and done, life is short; short, and for most of
us disappointing. We cannot afford to put a bar across the difficult
road to happiness. I saw two young creatures, who seemed very well
suited to each other, in need of my friendly countenance, and I
determined to give it. Was I altogether wrong? Well, Mrs. MacGill
thought so at any rate, and told me so with wearisome iteration. I
shrugged my shoulders, and took the scolding as a necessary corrective
to a very happy afternoon.



     _Monday, May_--

Mrs. MacGill, inspired by the zeal with which the rest are re-reading
Hardy, Blackmore, Baring-Gould, and Phillpotts, has finished a book of
each of these novelists who play the 'pipes of the misty moorlands.'
She dislikes them all, but her liveliest disapproval is reserved for
the first and last named. She finds them most immoral, and says that
if she could have believed that such ill-conducted persons resided in
Dartmoor or anywhere in Devonshire, she would not have encouraged the
Grey Tor Inn by her presence. As to the language spoken by some of the
characters, she is inclined to think no one could ever have heard it.
'There would be no sense in their using such words,' she explains
triumphantly, 'for no one would understand them'; continuing the
argument by stating that she once heard the Duke of Devonshire open a
public meeting and he spoke in exceptionally good English.

All this makes me rather wicked, so when I went down to breakfast
to-day I said cheerfully, 'Good marnin' to you! Marnin', Mrs. MacGill!
How do 'e like my new gown, Cecilia?--it's flam-new! Marnin', Sir
Archibald! I didn't know 'e in the dimpsey light; bide where you be,
I'll take this seat.... Will I have bacon and eggs? Ess fay; there'll
be nought else, us all knows that. There's many matters I want to put
afore 'e to-day.... Do 'e see thickly li'l piece of bread 'pon the
plate, Cecilia? Pass it to me, will 'e? I know I be chitterin' like a
guinea-fowl, but I be a sort o' public merryman bringin' folks the
blessing o' honest laughter.... Can us have blind up if 'tis all the
same to you, Mrs. MacGill? I doan't like eatin' in the dark.'

Then when mamma said, '_Jinny!_' in italics, and looked at me
beseechingly, I exclaimed, 'Gaw your ways, mother! I ban't feared o'
you, an' I doan't mind tellin' 'e 't is so.' When Sir Archibald,
bursting with laughter, remarked it was a fine day, I replied, 'You'm
right theer; did 'e ever see ought like un? Theer's been a wonnerful
change in the weather; us be called 'pon to go downlong to
Widdington-in-the-Wolds to-day to see the roundy poundies.

     "Along by the river we'll ram'le about
     A-drowin' th' line and a-ketchin' o' trout;
     An' when we've got plenty we'll start ver our huomes,
     An' tull all our doings while pickin' ther buones."'

By this time Mrs. MacGill, thoroughly incensed, remarked that there
was no accounting for taste in jokes, whereupon I responded genially,
'You'm right theer! it's a wonnerful coorious rackety world; in fact,
in the language of Eden, 'I'll be gormed if it ban't a 'mazin' world!'

Mamma at this juncture said, with some heat, that if this were the
language of Eden she judged it was after the advent of the serpent; at
which Sir Archibald and Miss Evesham and I screamed with laughter and
explained that I meant Eden Phillpotts, not the garden of Eden.

The day was heavenly, as I said, and seemed intended by Providence for
our long-deferred picnic to Widdington-in-the-Wolds. Mamma and Mrs.
MacGill wanted to see the church, Cecilia and I wanted any sort of
outing. Sir Archibald had not viewed the plan with any warmth from the
first, but I was determined that he should go, for I thought he needed
chastening. Goodness knows he got it, and for that matter so did I,
which was not in the bargain.

I refuse to dwell on the minor incidents of that interminable day.
Mrs. MacGill, for general troublesomeness, outdid her proudest
previous record; no picnic polluted by her presence could be an
enjoyable occasion, but this one was frowned upon by all the Fates.
There is a Dartmoor saying that 'God looks arter his own chosen
fules,' which proves only that we were 'fules,' but not chosen ones.
The luncheon was eaten in a sort of grassy gutter, the only place the
party could agree upon. It was begun in attempted jocularity and
finished in unconcealed gloom. Mrs. MacGill, on perceiving that we
were eating American tongue, declined it, saying she had no confidence
in American foods. I buried my face in my napkin and wept
ostentatiously. She became frightened and apologised, whereupon I said
I would willingly concede that we were not always poetic and were
sometimes too rich, but that when it came to tinning meats it was
cruel to deny our superiority. This delightful repast over and its
remains packed in our baskets, we sought the inn.

Mrs. MacGill sank upon a feather-bed in one of the upstairs rooms,
and my mother extended herself on two chairs in the same apartment,
adding to my depression by the remark she reserves for her most
melancholy moments: 'If your poor father had lived, he would never
have allowed me to undertake this.'

I didn't dare face Sir Archibald until he had digested his
indigestible meal, so Miss Evesham and I went for a walk. Naturally it
rained before we had been out a half-hour, and unnaturally we met Mr.
Willoughby, the artist, again. I ran back to the inn while they took
shelter under a sycamore. I said I didn't want my dress spoiled, and I
spoke the truth, but I did also want to give Miss Evesham the tonic of
male society and conversation, of which she stands in abject need. By
the time she is forty, if this sort of conventual life goes on, she
will be as timorous as the lady in Captain Marryat's novel who,
whenever a gentleman shook hands with her, felt cold chills running up
and down her back.

I took a wrong turning and arrived at the inn soaked as to outer
garments. After a minute or two in the motor-shed with Sir Archibald,
I had a fire kindled in the bedroom; but before I could fully dry
myself they were clamouring for me to come down and add my cheerful
note to the general cackle, for mamma and Mrs. MacGill had ordered
early tea. There was a cosy time for a few minutes when Miss Evesham
gaily toasted bread on a fork and Mr. Willoughby buttered it, and Sir
Archibald opened a quaint instrument in a corner by the fire. I struck
the yellow keys of the thing absently. It was a tiny Broadwood of a
bygone century, fashioned like a writing-desk with a sort of bookcase
top to it. I tried 'Loch Lomond' for Mr. Willoughby, and then, as a
surprise to Cecilia, sang my little setting of the verses she gave me
the other day. The words brought tears to her eyes, and Sir Archibald
came closer. 'More, more!' he pleaded, but I said, 'I don't feel a bit
like it, Sir Archibald; if you'll let me off now I'll sing nicely for
you when they've gone.' He looked unmistakably pleased. 'That's good
of you,' he whispered, 'and I've ordered fresh tea made after the mob

'Don't forget that my mother is one of your so-called "mob,"' I said

'Oh, you know what I mean,' he responded (he always blushes when he is
chaffed). 'I get on famously with your mother, but three or four women
in a little low-ceiled room like this always look like such a bunch,
you know!'

Then there was a dreadful interval of planning, in which Mrs. MacGill,
who appeared to think it necessary that she should be returned to the
Grey Tor Inn in safety whatever happened to anybody else, was finally
despatched in the motor with mamma, Miss Evesham, and Johnson; while
Sir Archibald and I confronted, with such courage as we might, the
dismal prospect of a three hours' tussle with Greytoria.


This has been a terrible day of fatigue and discomfort. I was a woman
of sixty in the morning, but I felt like a woman of eighty-six by
night. Danger, especially when combined with want of proper food, ages
one in a short time. My sister Isabella, who knew Baden-Powell,
declares that she would scarcely have recognised him to be the same
man after as before the siege of Mafeking, particularly about the

My velvet mantle, after all it has suffered, will never be as good
again, and I have reason to be thankful if I escape a severe illness
on my own account after the mad rashness of this day's proceedings.

The young people (I include Cecilia, though considerably over thirty)
had been talking a great deal about an expedition to a distant hamlet
called Widdington-in-the-Wolds. Miss Pomeroy had, of course,
persuaded that misguided young man to take her in the motor, although
there can be little conversation of a tender nature in a machine that
makes such awful noises; still young people now can doubtless shout
anything. Poor Mr. MacGill used always to say that he could scarcely
catch _my_ replies.

Cecilia assured me that it was a short drive, so I consented to allow
her to take me in a pony chaise. Certainly I never saw a
quieter-looking animal than that pony at first sight; she had, indeed,
an air of extreme gentleness. People say that is frequently combined
with great strength--at least in dogs, and I think in men too; in
horses it does not seem to be the case, for this poor animal had a
very dangerous habit of putting her hind feet together and sliding
down a descent. Several times at small declivities she seemed to slide
forwards, and the carriage slid after her, so that I thought we should
both be thrown out. At last, having driven many miles, meeting
several droves of the wild ponies, which happily did us no harm, we
came to the top of a quite precipitous hill, which Cecilia declared we
must descend before we could arrive at Widdington.

I had already warned her that I felt no confidence in her driving, but
she is sadly obstinate, and made some almost impertinent retort, so we
began to descend the hill. We had gone only a short distance, however,
when the pony, curiously enough, sat down.

'Is this a common action with horses, Cecilia?' I gasped.

Then came a cracking noise. 'It's the shafts breaking, I'm afraid,'
she said quite coolly, and jumped out. I got out too, of course, as
fast as I could, and Cecilia began to undo the straps of the animal's
harness. Again I felt I had had a narrow escape. I am not able now for
these nervous shocks--they take too much out of me. I had been reading
some of those alarming books about the neighbourhood, and felt I
should be quite afraid to ask for assistance from any passer-by.
There were none, as we had seen nothing but ponies since we left Grey
Tor, but in several books the violent passions of the natives had been

Cecilia said that she would lead the animal, so we started to go down
the long hill, which was so very steep I thought I should never reach
the bottom. Cecilia seemed to think nothing of it. 'You can do it
quite well, Mrs. MacGill,' she said. 'Well,' I replied, 'if a creature
with four feet, like that pony, can tumble so, how do you suppose that
I, on two, can do it easily?' My velvet mantle, though warm, is very
heavy, and my right knee was still extremely painful. It now began to
rain a little, and the sky got very dark, which, I remember, the books
say is always a prelude to one of those terrific storms which
apparently sweep across Dartmoor in a moment. 'If it rains,' I said,
'the river always rises. "Dart is up," as they say, and we shall
never reach home alive.' Cecilia declared in her stupid way that we
were nowhere near the Dart. 'Why are we on Dartmoor, then?' I asked.
'I have read everywhere that the river runs with appalling velocity,
and sweeps on in an angry torrent, carrying away trees and houses like
straw; there are no trees, but those small houses down there would be
swept away in no time. If we can only get down to the village, and get
something to eat, and a carriage to take us home in, I shall be

Cecilia appeared uncertain as to whether we could get any means of
conveyance at the inn, so I suggested that we should just walk on.
'Nothing,' I said,'shall make me try to go back with that animal. Our
lives were in danger when she sat down. I am sure that they must have
a quieter horse of some kind, in such a lonely place.'

Somehow or other we did get down, and were standing by the wayside
when Sir Archibald's motor drove towards us, seeming to have descended
the hills in perfect safety. Miss Pomeroy, of course, was on the box.
She _looked_ rouged. I cannot be quite certain, as I am unaware of
ever having seen any one whom I absolutely knew to be addicted to the
habit, but Mr. MacGill had a cousin whom he used to speak of with
considerable asperity, who used to be known as 'the damask rose,' and
that was because she painted, I am sure. Miss Pomeroy's cheeks were
startling. Her poor mother looked like leather, but was calm enough,
in the back seat. She is a sensible woman, and when the young people
(I include Cecilia for convenience) all began to exclaim in their
silly way about Widdington, calling it 'lovely' and 'picturesque' (I
must say that Sir Archibald had too much good sense to join in this),
she remarked aside to me with a quiet smile, 'You and I, Mrs. MacGill,
are too old to care about the picturesque upon an empty stomach.' To
stand in a damp church with a stiff knee is even worse, as I told
Cecilia, when she had insisted on dragging me into the building,
which smells of mildew. The sacred edifice should always, I hope,
suggest thoughts of death to all of us, but Miss Pomeroy appeared more
cheerful than usual, and stood talking with Cecilia about pillars till
I was chilled through. The cold is more penetrating in these old
churches than anywhere else--I suppose because so many people used to
be buried there. It seems hideous to relate that on coming out we sat
down to lunch in a ditch.

Mrs. Pomeroy is so infatuated about her daughter that she would do
anything to please her. I insisted at first that Cecilia was to
accompany me into the inn, but Mrs. Pomeroy gave me such an account of
the scene of carousal going on there that, rather than sit in the bar,
I consented to eat out of doors.

The others called it a fine day, and even spoke of enjoyment. It
showed good sense on the part of our cavalier that he, at least,
never made any pretence of enjoying himself. He is thoroughly sick of
that girl, but she will run after him. It makes me ashamed of my sex.
When I was a girl I always affected not to see Mr. MacGill until he
absolutely spoke to me; and even when he had made me a distinct
offer--which girls like Virginia Pomeroy do not seem to consider
necessary--I appeared to hesitate, and told him to ask papa. Of course
if Mr. Pomeroy is dead (and her mother always wears black, though not
the full costume--she may be only divorced, one hears such things
about Americans), why then one can't expect her to do _that_, but I
very much doubt if she will ever consult Mrs. Pomeroy for a
moment--that is to say, if she can squeeze anything at all like a
proposal from Sir Archibald.

I have tried in vain to put the young man upon his guard. Give them
hair and complexion, and they are deaf adders all; yet what is that
compared to principle, and some notion of cooking? Miss Pomeroy asks
for nothing if she has a box of sweets; yet only the other day I heard
her confess to eating bread and cheese in an inn, along with that
unfortunate young man, who probably considered it a proof of
simplicity. He is sadly mistaken. Ten courses at dinner is the
ordinary thing in New York, I believe, one of them canvas-back ducks
upon ice!

By three o'clock, when this horrid meal was over, Mrs. Pomeroy and I
were both so chilled and fatigued that I sent Cecilia to entreat that
the woman of the inn would allow us to rest for an hour in a room
where there were no drunkards. We were conducted to a small
bedchamber, where I lay down on the bed, while Mrs. Pomeroy had a nap
upon two chairs. Like myself, she is always troubled by a tendency to
breathlessness after eating--and even lunch in a ditch is a meal, of
course. She also talked a little about her daughter in perhaps a
pardonable strain for a mother, who can scarcely be expected to
realise what the girl really is.

A Mr. Calhoun of Richmond, a suburb of New York, appears to have paid
her some attentions. She must have greatly exaggerated them to her
mother, for Mrs. Pomeroy evidently believes that it is fully in her
power to marry the young man if she likes. It will be a merciful
escape for Sir Archibald for a while, even though they can be divorced
so easily in New York.


I knew the moment I opened my eyes that morning that the day of the
picnic had come. The sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing.
Even before breakfast there were tourists sitting on Grey Tor and
holding on to the rails. I could see them against the sky. When we
were all at breakfast, even the old women were excited about the
picnic, and as to Miss Virginia, there was no holding her at all. She
pointed out that she had dressed for the picnic in a brand-new frock
especially built by one of the smart court dressmakers for such
occasions, for which it was about as well suited (I pointed out) as a
ball-dress would have been. It was no good my saying anything, that
these brilliant mornings were not to be trusted, that the road to
Widdington-in-the-Wolds was the worst in the country, that there was
nothing to do or see when you got there; I was overruled on every
point, and all the arrangements were made. I must own I was not in a
good temper anyway. A man has his ups and downs; I had had a worrying
letter from the steward at Kindarroch. My tobacco was done and the
fresh packet hadn't arrived with the morning post, so that my pouch
was filled with a filthy weed from the hotel. Had our party been
composed of only Miss Virginia and her mother, it would not have been
so bad, for then I should have insisted on giving them lunch at a
pothouse, and all the horrors of an _al fresco_ entertainment would
have been avoided. But Mrs. MacGill and her companion were a part of
the show, and the old woman actually hinted that I was to drive her in
the pony-shay, while Johnson conducted the rest of the party in the
motor! I showed her her mistake both clearly and promptly, and had her
packed off about an hour before we started; except for the companion,
who is a decent sort of girl, I could have wished her to capsize on
the way.

We got off in the motor all right--Miss Virginia on the box seat with
me, and the mother behind with Johnson. The going was all right for
the first few miles. Virginia did most of the talking, which was
lucky, for I was not brilliant. It seems odd how a fellow's mood can
be stronger than circumstances. Here was I, on a lovely day, with a
pretty girl on the box beside me, nothing so very much as yet to have
put me out, as black as a thundercloud. Of course the idiocy of a
picnic (on which I have dwelt before) always puts my back up; I didn't
want to come, and yet on this occasion, for some reason or other, I
could not stay away. I really think that feeling more than anything
else made me so devilish ill-tempered. I had soon good cause enough
for ill temper, however. The road was all right at first, as I said,
but presently it gave a dip, and then without the slightest warning we
found ourselves on a hill as steep as the sides of a well, and about
as comfortable for a motor as the precipices of Mont Blanc. It was
dangerous. I hate being in unnecessary danger myself--it is silly; and
as to being in danger with women in charge, it is the very devil. I
jammed on the brakes, and we went skidding and scraping down, showers
of grit and gravel being thrown up in our faces, the whole machine
shaking to bits with the strain. It was a miracle nothing happened
worse than the loss of my temper. The hill got easier after about a
mile. Miss Virginia, who had been frightened to death but had kept
quiet and held on tight, began to laugh and talk again; but I showed
pretty plainly I was in no laughing or talking mood. I kept a grim
silence and looked ahead. I saw her turn and look at me, once or
twice, in a surprised way, and then she suddenly became quite quiet
too. In this significant silence, we drew up at the village inn, where
Mrs. MacGill and Miss Evesham had already arrived.

Guide-books and artists talk yards about this place,
Widdington-in-the-Wolds, but as usual there is nothing to see but a
church, a particularly insanitary churchyard, a few thatched cottages,
two or three big sycamore trees, and an inn, so very small as to be
hardly visible to the naked eye.

We found the Exeter artist here before us, and I walked off with him
at once, leaving the women to themselves. Otherwise I should certainly
have burst, I believe; it is not healthy to refrain from bad language
too long. However, all the agonies of picnic had to be gone
through,--lunch in a ditch, cold, clammy food, forced conversation,
and all the rest of it. Certainly that picnic was a failure; even Miss
Virginia was subdued. When the feeding was done, I went off with
Willoughby, the artist, again. I don't know what the women did with
themselves, I am sure. As I had foretold, the weather had changed;
there had been one cold shower already, and the clouds were piling up
in the sky, threatening a wet, bleak, and windy afternoon. I knew how
it would be, perfectly well, before we started, but no one would heed


     _Tuesday evening_

This will be a long story to tell. On Monday morning Mrs. MacGill was
very lively, perhaps wakened up by the explosion of the previous
night. She came down to breakfast, and was persuaded by the Pomeroys
to undertake an expedition to Widdington-in-the-Wolds, an outlying
hamlet famous for an old church.

'It is long since I have lunched out of doors, Mrs. Pomeroy,' she
said, 'but the doctor has so strongly recommended carriage exercise
and fresh air to me, that I dare say on such a very fine morning I
might make the attempt, if you are thinking of it.'

Mrs. Pomeroy had been made to think of it by the fair Virginia, as I
well knew; for the expedition was to be carried out in Sir Archibald's

'One should always make an effort to see all places of interest in a
neighbourhood,' Mrs. Pomeroy observed, with the sigh of the
conscientious American sightseer, and Mrs. MacGill assented. My heart
sank. Fancy visiting places of interest in the company of Mrs.
MacGill! But, as Browning has it, 'Never the hour and the place and
the loved one all together!' I have noticed the curious, indomitable
tendency of tiresome people to collect and reappear in these exquisite
places most favoured by nature; more suited, it would seem, for angel
visitants than for the flat-footed multitude: but I digress.

The fact remained that it was in close company with Mrs. MacGill that
I was to visit the solitudes of Dartmoor,--Mrs. MacGill in a
bead-trimmed mantle, a bonnet ornamented with purple velvet pansies,
and an eis-wool shawl tied round her throat.

I was to drive her in the pony cart; even her fears were not aroused
by the dejected appearance of Greytoria as that noble animal was led
up to the door.

'I am glad to see that the horse does not look spirited,' she said;
'for though you say you are so well accustomed to driving, I always
prefer a coachman.'

With a quick twitch of the reins I raised Greytoria's drooping nose
from the dust. She seemed surprised, but ambled off in the indicated

'The road'--to quote Christina Rossetti--'wound uphill all the way,'
and a long way it was. We crawled along at about the rate of a mile an
hour over that rough and stony track. The lines I have just quoted
haunted my memory with their dismal significance--Life, life! your
long uphill road has little promise of rest for me.

We toiled on. Then the summit was gained at last, and down below us,
in a little nest-like green valley, huddled between the swelling brown
moors, lay Widdington-in-the-Wolds, the Mecca of our pilgrimage.

'There it is at last!' I cried. 'See the quaint old church tower!' I
actually appealed to Mrs. MacGill for sympathy, so great was my
enthusiasm. It was a mistake.

'I see little to admire, Cecilia,' she said, 'and do look after the

Her admonition was not unnecessary. In my delight I had risen in my
seat and let the reins slip out of my inattentive fingers. Greytoria,
in a manner peculiar to herself, had begun the descent of the
terrifying hill which leads down to Widdington. Clapping her heels
together like a bowing Frenchman, she let herself slide down the
decline. I realised this in a moment, but it was rather too late.
There was a long, scraping slither; I put on the drag hard, and tried
to hold up Greytoria's head. The attempt was vain; she turned round
and looked at me, and then, without making any farther effort, quite
simply sat down in the traces, the chaise resting gracefully on her

Mrs. MacGill cried out with terror, and, indeed, I felt ready to do
the same. Not a soul was anywhere in sight. Only far down below us,
at the foot of the terrible Widdington hill, could help be procured.

'O Cecilia, this is what comes of trusting you to drive,' cried Mrs.

This stiffened me up a little, and I determined to unharness

'Come and sit by the roadside,' I said. 'I'll get her unharnessed, and
once on her legs again there won't be any harm done; it's not as if
she had broken her knees.'

'I didn't know that horses _could_ sit down,' wailed Mrs. MacGill.

'Well, it is an uncommon accomplishment,' I admitted, tugging at the
harness buckles.

Greytoria turned a mild old eye upon me; she seemed accustomed to the
process of being unharnessed, but did not make any attempt to rise.

I thought as I tugged at that buckle that the whole thing was
symbolical of life for me. Wasn't I for ever tugging at obstinate
buckles of one sort or another? I dare say such morbid thoughts should
have had no place in my fancy at a moment of practical difficulty, but
there are some people made in this way; their thoughts flow on in an
undercurrent to events. So I tugged away, and my thoughts worked on

It was no easy task, this, of getting Greytoria on her legs again; but
I achieved it at last, and she stood up, abject, trembling, with
drooping head and bowed knees, regarding the hill before her.

'We must walk down to the Inn, I'm afraid, Mrs. MacGill,' I said.
'I've got Greytoria into the chaise again, but if we add our weight to
it she will just sit down a second time.'

'Oh, what a hill to go down on foot!' cried Mrs. MacGill, but she saw
that it was inevitable, so we began the long descent, I leading
Greytoria, Mrs. MacGill trailing behind. Down below us the green
valley smiled and beckoned us forward, yet like every peaceful oasis,
it had to be gained with toil and difficulty. As we plodded down that
weary hill, shall I confess that my thoughts turned a little bitterly
to Virginia's side of the day's pleasuring? Why should she, young,
rich, and beautiful, have the pleasant half of the expedition,--a ride
in a motor with a nice young man who was falling in love with her,
while I was doomed to trail along with Mrs. MacGill? Why did some
women get everything? Surely I needed amusement and relaxation more
than Virginia did, but it isn't those who need relaxation who ever get
it; 'to him that hath shall be given,' as the Bible cynically and
truly observes.

Every few yards Mrs. MacGill would call out to me to stop: she was
getting too tired; it was so cold; the road was so rough. But at last
the foot of the hill was gained, and with a sigh of relief she bundled
into the chaise again. She had, however, no eyes for the interest or
beauty of the place we had reached with such difficulty. All her
faculties, such as they are, were concentrated on wondering where and
when we would get some food. As we passed the church, she looked the
other way. I was almost glad. I flicked Greytoria, her flagging pace
quickened, and attempting a trot, we drove up to the inn door.

'I suppose we must wait for the others,' Mrs. MacGill sighed
peevishly, 'but really after all I have gone through, I feel much in
want of food.'

'They will soon be here,' I said, 'and on the way home Greytoria will
go better.'

'Well, as she goes badly up hill, and won't go down at all, I scarcely
see how we are to get home so well,' she retorted, with a measure of

As I looked at the hill that we should need to reclimb before we
reached home, my heart misgave me too; but just then the motor hove in
sight, a scarlet blot at the top of the hill, and we became
interested in watching its descent. How it spun down! Almost before we
could believe it possible, it dashed up to the inn door, and Virginia
jumped out. She was in exuberant spirits. The drive had been just
lovely; she adored Widdington; the hill only gave her delicious
creeps; she wasn't a bit tired or cold.

'Yes,' thought I, 'it's easy to be neither cold nor tired when you are
happy and amused and young and rich! Try to drive with Mrs. MacGill
when you are feeling ill, and can't afford to buy warm clothes, and
see how you like it!'

Mrs. Pomeroy was less enthusiastic, and Sir Archibald was dumbly
regarding the tires of the motor, which had suffered strange things.

'Hello,' he said, as he glanced up at the window of the inn, 'there's
that artist fellow who was at Exeter. Suppose he's come to "see the

He nodded up at the window, took out his pipe, and began to fill it,
directing Johnson to take the luncheon-basket out of the motor.

Then the artist, Mr. Willoughby, came sauntering out of the door. I
dare say he had had enough of gorse and solitude, for he seemed glad
to greet even a casual acquaintance like Sir Archibald. The position
of being the one man in a party of women had palled upon Sir Archibald
only too apparently, for he met Mr. Willoughby with--for him--quite
unwonted geniality, and they strolled off together down the road.
Virginia put her hand through my arm, and drew me in the direction of
the church.

'We're not going on very well this morning, Cecilia,' she confided to
me. 'He's so Scotch, Sir Archibald is, what they call "canny," and
I've made him very cross by dragging him off on this expedition. All
the tires of the motor are cut, and he hates eating out of doors. I
can see that I've vexed him to madness.'

I laughed, and so did she.

'Why did you make him do it?' I asked.

'I wanted to put him to some sort of test,' she replied. 'Unless a man
will do what he dislikes for you, he isn't worth much.'

'I'm afraid you are going to play with this young man's affections,' I
said very severely, for her tone was frivolous.

'Am I?' she murmured. 'I wonder!'

There was a moment of silence between us. I felt all manner of thrills
of interest and sympathy. If you can't be happy yourself, the next
best thing is to see other people happy. If, as I now suspected,
Virginia was not playing with Sir Archibald's affections, then I was
eagerly on her side. Words are not necessary, however, and Virginia
must have divined my sympathy.

We had reached the lych-gate, and there, under the solemn little roof
that had sheltered so many a coffin on its way to the grave, Virginia
turned and gave me a kiss.

'You dear!' she said. That was all.




Here beginneth the chronicle of the dreadfullest drive that ever was
driven. I pitied Sir Archibald with my whole heart to be left behind
with Greytoria and me, but what else could be done? There was a mist
when we started which degenerated after a bit into an intermittent
drizzle, and at intervals the wind blew a young tornado. The road was
dreary, but fascinating in its broad stretches of loneliness. We
passed green field and brown moor in turn, with all the trees looking
grey in the mist, and here and there the brawling of a stream to break
the silence. Sometimes there was a woodman working in a roadside
copse, sometimes a goggled stone-breaker pursuing his monotonous
task, sometimes a carrier bending beneath his weight of faggots. If it
had not been for the flaming gorse and the groups of red cattle, there
would have been no colour in the landscape. My spirits kept their
normal height for the first six or eight miles, but they sank little
by little as the hills grew in number and increased in height. Sir
Archibald refused to let me walk, and it made me wretched to see him
stalking beside the pony chaise, appealing to Greytoria's pride,
courage, conscience, ambition, and sense of decency, in turn, and
mostly without avail. We kept the best-travelled road, but it seemed
to lead us farther and farther from Grey Tor, which had quite
disappeared from the horizon and could not be used as a landmark.
There could be no conversation either going up or down hill, as Sir
Archibald was too breathless and busy. I, sitting in state, punctuated
the ascents and descents, as long as I had strength, with agreeable
persiflage something in this wise:--

'The guide-book says, "Pedestrianism is doubtless the ideal manner of
touring in Devonshire. Only on foot is it possible to view the more
romantic scenery. Motors are not advised and bicycles discouraged."'

Sir Archibald would smile, say something under his breath, and whack

'Sir Archibald, there is a place in these parts where the devil is
said to have died of cold; it must be just here.'

'Sir Archibald, do 'e knaw I think we'm pixy-led? When Devonshire folk
miss the path home at night and go astray, they'm "pixy-led."'

If we two poor wayfarers could have sat quietly beside each other and
chatted in 'e dimpsey light, it would not have been a bit bad, but
there was something eternally doing. When the drag wasn't being put on
or off, the whip was being agitated, or Sir Archibald was looking for
a house to ask the way. Never was there such a route from one spot to
another as the one we took from Widdington-in-the-Wolds to the Grey
Tor Inn. If it was seven miles as the swallow flies, it was
twenty-seven as Greytoria flew. The dinner-hour passed, and the
luncheon baskets, with all other luggage, were in the motor. Sir
Archibald's last information, obtained from an unintelligible boy
driving a cow, was to the effect that we were only two miles from

'She may manage it and she may not,' said my squire, looking savagely
at Greytoria. 'If I only knew whether she can't or she won't, I should
deal with her differently.'

The rain now came down in earnest. Part of my mind was for ever
toiling up or creeping down a hill with the pony, and another part was
spent in keeping my umbrella away from Sir Archibald's hat, on those
rare occasions when he was by my side. A woman may have the charms of
Cleopatra or Helen of Troy, but if she cannot keep her parasol or
umbrella away from a man's hat, her doom is sealed.

How I hate this British climate! How I hate to wear always and always
stout shoes, sensible clothes, serviceable hats, short skirts, looking
like a frump in the intervals of sunshine, that I may be properly
attired when it rains! I shed a few secret tears now and then for
sheer down-heartedness and discouragement. I was desperately cold, and
my wetting had given me a feverish, teeth-chattering sort of feeling.
Hungry I was, too, and in such a rage with the beastly pony that I
wished she had been eaten in the French Revolution; she was too old to
be tender, even then.

Now ensued a brief, all too brief, season of content on a fairly level
bit of road. It was not over an eighth of a mile in length, and must
have been an accident on the part of Nature. I was so numb and so
sleepy that I just heard Sir Archibald's sigh of gratitude as he took
his seat for a moment beside me, and then I subsided into a
semi-comatose state, too tired to make even one more expiring effort
to be agreeable. I am not clear as to the next few moments, in which I
felt a sudden sense of warmth and well-being and companionship. I must
have dropped off into a sort of dream, and in the dream I felt the
merest touch, just the brush of something on my cheek, or I thought I
did. Slight as it was, there was something unaccustomed about it that
made me come hastily into the conscious world, and my waking was made
the more speedy by a sudden stir and noise and ejaculation. We had
come to another hill, and Sir Archibald had evidently wished for once
to omit the walking-up process. Greytoria, outraged in her deepest
sensibilities by the unwonted addition of Sir Archibald's weight to
her burdens, braced her hind legs firmly and proceeded to achieve the
impossible by slithering backward down the hill. Sir Archibald leaped
out on the one side; I put the drag on, or off, whichever is wrong,
and leaped out on the other.

He adjusted the drag and gave Greytoria a clip that she will describe
to her grandchildren on future winter evenings. I, with matchless
presence of mind, got behind the pony chaise and put my shoulder under
the back to break its descent. And so we wound wearily up the hill,
and on reaching the top saw the lighted hotel just ahead of us.

In silence we traversed the few remaining yards, each busy with his
own thought. Silently we entered the gate and gave Greytoria to the
waiting groom. Silently and stiffly I alighted from the chaise, helped
by Sir Archibald's supporting arm. He held my hand a second longer
than was necessary; held it, half dropped it, and held it again; or
did something unusual with it that was widely separated from an
ordinary good-night 'shake.'

There was no harm in that, for the most unsentimental man feels a sort
of brotherly sympathy for a damp, cold, hungry, tired, nice girl.

But about that other--episode?... Of course if he did, I should
resent it bitterly; but if it were only a dream I must not blame him
even in thought.... There is always the risk that a man might
misunderstand the frank good-fellowship in which we American girls are
brought up, and fail to realise that with all our nonsense we draw the
line just as heavily, and in precisely the same place as our British
cousins.... But why do I think about it any more?... It wouldn't be a
bit like him, so probably he didn't.... In fact it is so entirely out
of character that he simply couldn't.... And yet I suppose the number
of men who actually couldn't is comparatively small.


Well, we spent the day till five o'clock in that dreary spot, cold and
wretched. Then Sir Archibald proposed that I should go home with Mrs.
Pomeroy in the motor; they said we should get there quicker that way!
He meant to drive Miss Pomeroy in the pony chaise, not being at all
afraid, he said, of any pony, however spirited. Of course nothing
would induce me to enter a pony carriage drawn by that animal again. A
motor is more dangerous in some ways, but at any rate it cannot sit
down like that pony, and they all assured us that it was both safe and
speedy. Mrs. Pomeroy had been quite at ease in it, she said, so at
last I consented to go. Cecilia tied on my bonnet with my grey wool
shawl, and we set out. It surprises me that motoring should have
become a favourite pastime with so-called fashionable people, for
certainly one does not appear to advantage in motoring garments. The
cold was intense, and at first everything whizzed past me at such a
rate that I could remember nothing except two lines that Cecilia read
to me last evening, about 'the void car hurled abroad by reinless

There were no steeds, of course, nor reins, and the car was not void,
but that was quite the motion. My bonnet, in spite of the shawl and
string, was instantly torn from my head. I begged Johnson, a very
civil Scotchman who could understand what I said, to stop the machine
for a few moments and let me breathe. Cecilia advised me to remove the
bonnet and trust wholly to the shawl. My hair is not thick, especially
on the top, and I soon had all the sensation of the head being padded
in ice, which we read of as a treatment for brain fever.

It was now beginning to get dark. Johnson drew up suddenly, and
declared that he must have taken the wrong road. There were no
sign-posts anywhere, and it had begun to rain heavily. We were
standing just at the foot of a steep hill where the road lay through a
thick wood. Above us was a tower of rock,--another 'tor,' I suppose,
if not a 'monolith.'

Johnson proposed to drive the machine on into the wood, and leave us
under shelter whilst he went to a cottage that we saw farther up, to
inquire about the road. This I decidedly objected to. Mrs. Pomeroy and
Cecilia seemed to think me foolish, and could not understand my being

'But,' I said, 'I have good reason to refuse to enter that wood.
Indeed it will not be safe for Johnson to leave us there alone: I
recognise the place perfectly. In one of the books by that Mr.
Phillpotts, who, you have all told me, is most accurate in his
descriptions, I read about this place, and he said, 'The Wolf suckled
her young there yesterday.' Yes, Cecilia, laugh if you like; those
were the very words, and I examined the date of the publication, which
was not a year ago. _Yesterday_ was the word used.'

'Then the cubs will still be too small to attack us,' observed
Cecilia, who has no tact and is constantly trying to be facetious when
she should be endeavouring to allay my nervous terrors.

'He would be meaning foxes, ma'am,' said Johnson, who had been
listening whilst fright compelled me to quote the exact expression I
had read.

'It is possible that he meant foxes, Johnson,' allowed I, 'but three
ladies alone in a motor, in the dark, attacked even by wild foxes,
would be in some danger; so I hope that you will drive on directly,
and get us out of this horrid place as soon as possible.'

They tried to smooth over the situation, but I would listen to none of
them, and Johnson at last drove on. Half-way up the hill the motor
stuck. Something had gone wrong with it inside, and I felt that we
might stay there in the wilderness all night, which would have been
impossible, as I had taken very few remedies of any kind with me, and
cannot sleep sitting up. These stoppages occurred several times. How
we at length got home I scarcely remember. My velvet mantle was like a
sponge, my feet so cold that it was all I could do to dismount from
the motor when it ground up to the hotel door. There was Sir Archibald
standing smoking as if nothing extraordinary had occurred.

'Why, Mrs. MacGill,' he cried, 'you are even later than we were, and I
thought that blessed pony was going to her own funeral.'

I thought that in spite of his tone he looked rather pale and
agitated; he was of course anxious, and rightly so, about my safety.

'Sir Archibald,' I said, as soon as I could speak,'I trust that I
never again may have to enter one of those motors. Human life,
especially mine, is too precious to be thrown away in such a fashion.
Another half-hour of it would have killed me outright. Had Mr. MacGill
been alive he would never have consented to my going into it for a
moment. As it is, I can scarcely hear or see owing to the frightful
noises and the rain lashing on my face; every hair on my head feels
pulled the wrong way, and I'm sure I shall have another bad relapse of
influenza by to-morrow morning. Your uncle was a friend of my poor
brother-in-law who died at Agra in a moment, and unless you take a
warning you will have an end quite as sudden and much more frightful,
for his was heart complaint, and you will be smashed to pieces by the
wheels of that hideous machine.'

I left them downstairs and went to bed. Cecilia tried to make me
believe there was nothing wrong with me, as she always does when she
has neuralgia, or _says_ she has neuralgia, herself, but I know that
there is. What is the matter I can't exactly say, only I am certain
that I am going to suffer in some way from this horrible expedition.


There is something soothing even in hotel tobacco, I suppose, so I was
better, though still feeling decidedly blue, later in the day at
Widdington, when I came up to the inn door and began overhauling the
motor as it stood in the yard. There was nothing particularly cheering
in finding several long cuts in the tires, and I was probing them to
get the grit out, when I heard a little cough behind me. I turned to
see Miss Virginia standing in the doorway, looking at me rather
doubtfully. Now of course I had been rather short, not to say nasty,
but somehow it's a fact that you cannot be sharp with a woman without
at once being put in the wrong, though she may really have been the
sinner all the time. It was Miss Virginia who had brought me out on
this show, who had cost me about forty pounds in tires, and Heaven
knows how much in other ways, but it was I who felt a beast now. Yet
she looked at me in a way which seemed to say she was sorry I was
vexed. She was rubbing her hands together and shivering a little. Of
course she was cold in that ridiculous dress.

'A nice day it has turned out, hasn't it!' I said rather spitefully.

'Oh, I'll never, never ask for a picnic again!' cried she, with a
comical look. She came and began to look at the cuts in the tires

'Oh, they _are_ bad,' she exclaimed, 'and I suppose you love that old
motor better than anything on earth, don't you?' she inquired.

'I get a good deal more pleasure out of it,' I truthfully replied,
'than I do out of the society of most human beings.' She gave a little

'I expect I had better go inside after that!' she said, and of course
I felt rather a brute. I hadn't really meant to be rude or send her
away. I hunted under the tarpaulin that covered the motor for my
fur-lined coat, and then I followed her into the inn.

'Look here,' I said, 'better put this on; you're horribly cold.' She
seemed half inclined to refuse, but finally let me put the coat over
her shoulders and run her arms into the sleeves.

'You're pretty damp,' I observed.

''Deed I am!' she shivered. 'Miss Evesham and I went for a walk and
got caught in the rain as usual. My hair's all wet too!'

'Better dry it,' I suggested.

She ran off to some room or other, and when she reappeared she had two
plaits of dark hair, as thick as bellropes, hanging down her back.
With that and my motor coat, Miss Virginia cut a pretty queer figure.
I cannot say she looked plain, however; her spirits had come back, and
so had mine, strange to say, for the day was far from finished.

There was a parlour in the inn, so low in the ceiling that I could
not stand up straight in it, and was for ever knocking my head against
the rafters. When we went in, this place was as full of women as it
could hold, all fighting like cats,--Mrs. MacGill, Mrs. Pomeroy, Miss
Evesham,--and all wondering how they were to get home. The place was
simply steaming with tea.

Mrs. MacGill, it appeared, utterly refused to go home in the pony trap
unless it were driven by me. Needless to say I declined this honour
with a firmness equal to hers. Finally it was arranged, chiefly by
Miss Evesham's management, that the two old ladies and herself were to
go home in the motor with Johnson, while Miss Virginia and I
negotiated the pony and trap. This was pretty thick, considering I had
refused point-blank to drive Mrs. MacGill, but Miss Evesham seemed to
make it sound all right,--clever sort of young woman in her way. As
the weather threatened to get worse immediately, the motor party was
packed off without loss of time, and Miss Virginia and I had a
comfortable tea by ourselves before starting for home.

It was not late in the afternoon, but the little inn parlour was
almost dark, chiefly because the church tower overshadowed the house,
and the window was so small. Presently the bells began ringing (it was
a saint's day, Miss Virginia said), and my word, what a din they made!
The whole house shook and the very teacups rattled. Miss Virginia
seemed to like it, however, and sat listening with her chin on her
hand. She had been strumming on an old spinet sort of thing that stood
in the corner of the room, and I asked her if she would sing a little
before we set off.

'I will,' said she, 'if you'll smoke a little,' an invitation I
accepted with alacrity.

'You deserve something,' she remarked, 'to make up for the wretched
time you've been having to-day. It was partly my fault. I am sorry.'

'Oh, don't mention it!' was all I could say, of course, and Miss
Virginia began to sing before I could speak another word.

There is a tremendous charm in her singing: her style is so simple;
her voice is so fresh; you can hear every word she says, and she
always sings the right songs. How this sort of singing makes a man
think! I can't describe the effect it had upon me. As Miss Virginia
touched the tinny, stringy old notes and went from song to song,--now
an Irish melody, now a nigger one, now an English ballad,--I forgot
all about the day's worries; I forgot the motor and the cut tires and
the bad weather and the beastly picnic--it was a kind of heaven. If I
marry, it must be some one who can sing like this. I have been
changing my preferences for blonde women lately. No doubt they look
very nice when young, but they don't wear well, I feel sure, and get
purple and chilblainy in cold weather. Of course the dark ones are apt
to turn drab and mottled, but not when they have as much colour as
Miss Virginia. All sorts of scraps of thoughts and ideas chased each
other through my mind as she sang. She had got on to a thing she had
sung in the hotel several times,--a plantation Christmas carol she
called it, the sort of thing you cannot forget once you have heard it,
either the words or the music.

     'Oh, dat star's still shinin' dis Chrismus Day,
               Rise, O sinner, and foller!
     Wid an eye o' faith you c'n see its ray,
               Rise, O sinner, and foller!
                   Leave yo' fader,
                   Leave yo' mudder,
                   Leave yo' sister,
                   Leave yo' brudder,
               An' rise, O sinner, and foller!'

And there was a bit about a shepherd too:--

     'Leave yo' sheep, an'
     Leave yo' lamb, an'
     Leave yo' ewe, an'
     Leave yo' ram, an'
     Rise up, shepherd, and foller!'

I asked her to sing it over again. I had forgotten all about the time
and the drive home and the beastly weather. Luckily I happened to
look at my watch. It was nearly six o'clock!

'We've got to look sharp,' I said, 'if we want any dinner at the

Look sharp, indeed! The woman at the inn must have been mad or drunk
when she told us that the low road home was only two miles longer than
the way we came. We may have missed the right turning, for Miss
Virginia was talking and laughing at such a rate when we began the
drive, that I confess I hadn't much attention to spare. We gradually
emerged from the valley where the village lay, and were soon on the
open moor and fairly lost on it before you could say Jack Robinson.

I never saw such a dismal, howling, God-forsaken country, without a
house or a hut or so much as a heap of stones to mark the way,--a
wilderness of stubby heath and endless, endless roads, crossing and
recrossing in a way that is simply maddening and perfectly senseless,
for they lead to nowhere. We were three mortal hours crawling along on
those confounded roads. It rained, of course, and a wind got up, and
at the end of that time we were apparently no nearer Grey Tor than
when we left Widdington.

Miss Virginia kept up very pluckily for a long time, but she was dead
tired and very cold and became more and more silent. It was about the
most uncomfortable predicament I ever was in,--and with a girl on my
hands, too, a thing I have hitherto always managed to avoid.

And then a thing happened that really I can't account for, and yet I
suppose it has changed the whole affair, as far as I am concerned. I
feel a perfect beast whenever I think of it, and I hope to goodness
Miss Virginia knows nothing about it. We had come to an interminable
hill, and I had been walking for about half an hour. Miss Virginia was
totally silent now, and suddenly I saw that the reins had slipped from
her hands. She was actually asleep, huddled up in my coat against the
back of the chaise. It was beginning to rain again, and the incline
being very gentle at that point, I felt I had to get in and hold an
umbrella over the girl. I did, and a sudden jerk of the wheels sent
her almost into my arms without waking her. Her head was on my
shoulder, her cheek so close to mine. Of course I have heard fellows
talk about kissing: I have always thought it a disgusting habit
myself, and discouraged it, even in near relations. But now--now it
seemed suddenly different--she seemed meant to be kissed--and by
me--and well, I kissed her--that's the naked truth, and the moment I
had done it I would have given worlds not to have done it, or else to
have the right to do it again. A man is a man firstly, I suppose; but
secondly, at least, he ought to be a gentleman. That's the thought
that has been spinning in my head all night. Does Virginia suspect? I
hope not--and yet I don't know.

We got home, of course, all right in the end, for the hotel turned up
quite unexpectedly round a corner, with all the lights shining out
across the moor.

_N.B._--There has been the devil to pay with the motor and the old


I have always had an idea that events need a propelling hand every now
and then. Somehow it seemed to me that afternoon at Widdington that
Virginia and Sir Archibald were in need of my assistance, and I took a
desperate resolution and helped them to the best of my power. This is
what I did: I undertook to look after Mrs. MacGill and Mrs. Pomeroy in
the motor if Sir Archibald drove Virginia home in the pony chaise; but
not content with this, I deliberately sent them round by a road some
five miles longer than the one we had come by. I happened to be
speaking with the landlady about the roads, and she told me that there
was another way back to Grey Tor, only that it was longer. The idea
struck me, as the saying goes, 'all of a heap.'

'Sir Archibald,' I said, returning to the parlour, where they all sat,
'if you had seen the business I had to get Greytoria _down_ that
hill, you would hesitate more about getting her up it. But the
landlady here tells us that if you go round by the lower road you
avoid the hill, and it is only a little longer.'

'I don't believe in country people's distances,' he said, 'but I'll

I turned back, as if by accident, into the bar, and leaned across the
counter towards the landlady. She was a genial-looking old woman with
a rollicking eye.

'The young people wish to go round by the low road,' I said, 'but I'm
afraid there may be some difficulties made about it.' I hesitated and
smiled at her, adding, 'It's not _much_ farther, is it?'

'Happen four mile or so, ma'am,' she said, looking hard at me.

'Four? As much as that?' I asked.

'Happen three mile, maybe,' she corrected; 'no, two and a half.'

Here Sir Archibald came out to inquire about the distance. He looked
up at the grey skies first, and seemed uncertain.

'How much farther do you call it by the low road to Grey Tor?' he

'Close on two mile, sir,' she mumbled shamelessly, and Sir Archibald
hesitated no longer.

'Two miles of level are better than half a mile of precipice. I vote
for the longer road, Miss Pomeroy,' he said, on going back into the

Virginia nodded and smiled. She was sitting at the old, tinny-sounding
spinet, singing the most beautiful little wandering airs that might
have been learned in fairyland.

Suddenly she drifted into a plaintive melody we had not heard before,
and when we had succumbed to its spell she began singing some words I
had found in my dear mother's diary. I had given the verses to
Virginia, and she had set them to an air of her own. It is a part of
her charm that she sings sad songs as if she had never felt joy, and
gay ones as if she had never known care or sorrow.

     ''Tis I am a lady, now that I'm old;
     I'm sheltered from hunger and want and cold,
     In a wonderful country that's rich in gold,
           (And life to the last is sweet).
     Now in the doorway I sit at my ease,
     And my son's son he plays at my knees
           On little stumbling feet.
     But my heart goes back to the days of old,
     To a barren country where gorse is gold,
     For oh! it was there that my love was told,
           'Twas there we used to meet!

     'They may think I've forgotten the land forlorn,
     In the happy valleys covered with corn;
     They may lay me down with my face to the morn,
           A stone at my head and feet;
     But I know that before the break o' the day
     My soul will arise and be far away
           (The spirits travel fleet),--
     Away from the valleys covered with corn,
     Back again to the land forlorn,
     For oh! it was there that my Love was born,
           'Twas there we used to meet!'[1]

Sir Archibald, Mr. Willoughby, and I could have listened for an hour,
but I felt that it was time to hurry off the elders of the party, so
made dark allusions to the weather. These were sufficient to rouse
Mrs. MacGill and Mrs. Pomeroy, who were in a semi-comatose condition
induced by copious draughts of tea.

We all went to the door of the inn, and Mr. Willoughby came and helped
me to my seat in the motor.

'I am coming across to Grey Tor on Saturday,' he said. 'I have some
sketches to take over that way. Shall you still be at the inn?'

'Probably,' I answered evasively.

'I hope so,' said he; 'perhaps we may have another talk such as we
have had this afternoon.'

'Who knows? Talk is a fugitive pleasure,' I replied. 'Some days it
will be good, and others it can't be captured at any price.'

'I'll come in the chance of catching some,' he whispered. And at this
moment Mrs. MacGill interrupted us and insisted that I should tie on
her shawl. The homeward drive was begun, but it would be too long a
story to describe its miseries. Imagination must do its work here.


[1] Mary Findlater.



I woke this morning neither rested nor refreshed. I was determined not
to stay in bed, for I wanted to show Sir Archibald by my calm and
natural demeanour that I was unconscious of anything embarrassing in
our relations. For that matter I am not sure that there is. I wore my
pink linen, and looked paler instead of gayer, as I intended.
Breakfast was quiet, though mamma had borne the picnic wonderfully and
Miss Evesham was brighter than usual. Sir Archibald was baffling. He
met my eye as seldom as possible, but I am glad to say, though he was
absent-minded, he was not grumpy. Why do I care whether he is grumpy
or not? Why do I like to see him come out sunny and warm and genial,
and relax his severe face into an unexpected laugh? And why do I feel
pleased when he melts under my particular coaxing? I have deliberately
tried to disparage him to myself and compare him with other men,
especially with Breck Calhoun, always to his disadvantage. He is not a
bit handsomer than Breck, though mere beauty after all counts for
almost nothing in a man. He hasn't, on the whole, as good manners as
Breck, and doesn't begin to understand me as well. He is an ordinary,
straight, simple, intelligent but not intellectual Anglo-Saxon. I have
assured myself of this dozens of times, and having treated him as a
kind of snow image, merely for the satisfaction of throwing
disparaging epithets at him, and demolishing his outline, I look at
him next morning only to find that he has put himself together again
and made himself, somehow, into the semblance of the man I love.

There are plenty of men who can manage their own moods, without a
woman's kind offices, so why should I bother about his? If it were
Breck Calhoun, now, he would be bothering about mine! It is just the
time of year when dear old Breck makes the annual offer of his heart
and hand--more, as he says, as a matter of habit than anything else,
and simply to remind me that there is an excellent husband waiting for
me at home when I cease running after strange hearts. That is his

I think some of the marriages between persons of different nationality
must come off because of the fascination and mystery that each has for
the other,--the same sort of fascination, but a still stronger one,
that is exerted by an opposite temperament. In the friendship of a man
of Sir Archibald's type I feel a sense of being steadied and
strengthened, simplified and balanced. And there ought to be something
in the vivacity of the American girl--the result of climate and
circumstances and condition, I suppose--which should enliven and
stimulate these grave 'children of the mist.' The feeling I have
lately had for Archibald Mackenzie (he would frown if he could hear me
leave out the Maxwell and the Kindarroch) is just the basis I need for
love, but my liking would never go so far as that, unless it were
compelled by a still stronger feeling on the man's part. I am not
going to do any of the wooing, that is certain. If a man chose to give
me his very best I would try to deserve it and keep it and cherish it,
but I have no desire to fan his inward fires beforehand. After he is
once kindled, if he hasn't heat enough to burn of his own free will,
then let him go out! Sir Archibald is afraid of himself and afraid of
love. Well, he need not worry about me! I might like to see the
delightfully incongruous spectacle of a man of his type honestly and
heartily in love, and (in passing) it would be of inestimable benefit
to his character; but I want no panic-stricken lovers in my company.
Haven't I enough fears of my own, about wet climates and cold houses
and monarchical governments and tin bath-tubs and porridge and my
mother's preference for American husbands? But I should despise myself
if I didn't feel capable of throwing all these, and more, overboard if
the right time ever comes.

       *       *       *       *       *

I haven't been downstairs either to luncheon or tea, but I looked from
mamma's window and chanced to see Johnson putting Sir Archibald's
portmanteau into the motor. I thought this morning that he intended to
run away. And that is the stuff they make soldiers of in Scotland!
Afraid of love! Fie! Sir Archibald!

I cannot succeed in feeling like the 'maiden all forlorn.' It
impresses me somehow that he has gone away to think it over. Well,
that is reasonable; I don't suppose to a man of Sir Archibald's
temperament two weeks seems an extreme length of time in which to
choose a wife; and as I need considerable reflection on my part I'll
go away too, presently, and take mamma to Torquay, as was our original
intention. Torquay is relaxing, and I think I have been a trifle too
much stimulated by this bracing moorland air. I hope for his own
comfort that Sir Archibald will do his thinking in a warmer clime; and
when (or if) he returns to acquaint Virginia with the result of his
meditations, he will learn that she also is thinking--but in a place


It is just as I feared. The trouble is in my right knee, so stiff that
I can scarcely bend it, and exceedingly painful. Cecilia calls it 'a
touch of rheumatism.'

'Indeed,' I said, 'it's a pretty secure grasp, not a touch; were I
what is called a _danseuse_, my livelihood would be gone, but
mercifully I don't need to dance.'

Cecilia laughed; she thinks nothing of any illness but neuralgia.

'We must leave this place very soon,' said I, 'and return to Tunbridge
Wells; life here is fit only for cannibals.'

In the morning it was impossible for me to come down to breakfast, but
with great difficulty I dragged myself downstairs about eleven. I felt
it my duty to the son of an old friend to seek an opportunity for
quietly speaking my mind to Sir Archibald about Miss Pomeroy, so
decided to do it at once. I found them together, as usual, in the
coffee-room. The girl was looking pale; she is beginning to be afraid
that her arts are in vain.

Sir Archibald was standing beside her, looking very much bored. She
made some excuse, and left the room soon after I had come in.

'I hope you are not the worse of your adventure in the motor, Mrs.
MacGill,' Sir Archibald began.

'Thank you,' said I, sitting down close to him. 'I am, a good deal. My
right knee is excessively painful, and I have a very strange buzzing
in the head.'

'Ah, you are not accustomed to the motor; it's all habit.'

'I am _not_ accustomed to a motor, Sir Archibald,' said I, 'nor am I
accustomed to the ways of young women nowadays,--_young ladies_ we
used to be called when I was a girl, but I feel that the phrase is
quite inapplicable to a person like Miss Pomeroy.'

'"Young woman" is better, perhaps,' he said, I thought with a smile.

'No lady,' I continued, 'when _I_ was young, would talk like that or
act like that.' 'A sweet face shrinking under a cottage bonnet' (as
Mr. MacGill used to say) 'is better than any tulip.'

Sir Archibald smiled again, and seemed about to leave the room, but I
asked him to be so good as to hold a skein of wool for me. I had
brought down my knitting, so he sat down to hold it, looking rather

I continued firmly, 'There is a freedom--I should almost say a
licence--about American women and their ways--'

'You have dropped your ball,' he said; and when he had returned it to
me, he began to try to change the subject by remarking about the

'It is,' I said, 'extremely cold, as it has always been ever since I
came here, but, as I was saying, there is something about Miss
Pomeroy's singing--'

Here he bent his head so low that I was unable to see his face, and
stretched my wool so tight that I fear my next socks will be spoiled;
it was three-ply merino, and very soft.

'She sings,' I went on without taking any notice of the wool, 'in a
way that I feel sure poor Mr. MacGill would have considered
indecorous. I was a musician myself as a girl, and used to sing with
much expression. "She Wore a Wreath of Roses" was a great favourite. I
always expected to be asked to repeat it. I remember on one occasion
when I came to--

     "A sombre widow's cap adorns
     Her once luxuriant hair,"

a gentleman who stood by the piano--he was a widower--was obliged to
turn away. But that was quite a different matter from the kind of
expression that Miss Pomeroy puts into things. It's not proper. I
must speak plainly to you, and say it is almost passionate, though I
dislike to use the word.

     "When I am dead, my dearest--"

Are these words for the drawing-room? You are pulling my skein rather
tight, Sir Archibald. It stretches so easily, and these light wools
require such care.

     "And dreaming through the twilight
     Haply I may remember, and haply may forget."

Remember _what_? forget _what_? The inquiry rises unbidden. Just ask
yourself if these are words for the lips of any young woman--far less
a young _lady_.'

Here Sir Archibald coughed so violently that he had to let go my wool
(which got all tangled) and stand up.

'Excuse me,' he interrupted, 'but I have promised to speak with
Johnson about something--'

'I won't detain you more than a minute,' I interrupted, 'only just to
say a word of warning to the son of an old friend. Foreigners who
speak our own language are the worst of all. O Sir Archibald, your
grandmother was Scotch, your mother was Scotch before you were born,
and all your good aunts too. I must warn you that if you let this
American girl, this Miss Pomeroy, succeed in her attempt--'

'Mrs. MacGill,' he exclaimed, 'I cannot allow you to use Miss
Pomeroy's name to me in this way.'

'Very well,' said I, 'but if you do not take my advice and beware,
Miss Pomeroy will have no name to mention, for she will be Lady
Maxwell Mackenzie, and you will be a miserable man with an American

He muttered something, I couldn't say what; the word 'Jove' was
mentioned, and there was some allusion to 'an old cat.' I failed to
see the connection, for no one could call Miss Pomeroy 'old,' whatever
she is; then without a word of apology he left the room. Young men,
even baronets, have no manners nowadays. Mr. MacGill's were courtly;
he never used one word where two would do, and bowed frequently to
every lady, often apologising most profusely when there was no
occasion for it.



I came down late, the morning after that drive, having spent a bad
night. In spite of the fact that Johnson had been out with the motor
and the old ladies till nearly midnight, I never thought of going down
to look at the car. It had lost interest in a way I didn't like. To
tell the truth, I was thinking of nothing at all except of that girl.
I had made up my mind that this was not to be endured. Since I kissed
her--it is awful to confess it--I have wished for nothing so much as
to kiss her again, and before I become the sort of blithering idiot
that a man is when in love, I must and shall be off. It is not the
girl I funk; she is a nice girl; I never wish to see a nicer, and I
know I never shall. It is the feeling I am beginning to have about
her. When she is not there I feel as if something necessary to my
existence were wanting,--as if I had come off without a
pocket-handkerchief or gone out in a top-hat and frock-coat without an
umbrella on a showery day in town. When a man gets to feel this about
another human being it is time he was off. I have sent orders to
Johnson to be ready to start at any moment.

I wish I had not seen Miss Virginia, though, before going. She looked
so pale and done up. Mrs. MacGill came into the room before I had time
to speak to her, even to tell her I was going away, though I somehow
think she guessed it. As to that old frump, that harpy in black velvet
and beads, Mrs. MacGill, I will not write down the things she elected
to say to me about Virginia, when she had got me tied to her
apron-string with her confounded skein of wool. I wish I had chucked
it in her face and told her to go to the devil. If I'd had the spirit
of half a man, I would have done it, and gone straight to Virginia.
Virginia! This gave me a feeling about her that I can't
describe,--much, much worse than the handkerchief-and-umbrella
feeling,--a feeling that seemed to tweak and pull at something inside
me that I had never been conscious of before. But I had an obstinate
fit on, that I'm subject to, like other men, I suppose. I had said I
would go, and I have gone, leaving a card of good-bye for the
Pomeroys, and making straight for town.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is no use; for after a few days of struggle and doubt and misery, I
have got to go back to that girl--if I can find her. What a wretched
time I have had! If this is being in love I hope it won't last. I'm
told it doesn't usually, after marriage. Perhaps it settles down into
something more comfortable, that does not interfere with a man's meals
or destroy his sleep. It is awful to think that your whole life may or
may not be changed, according to the fancy of a girl whose existence
you weren't aware of a fortnight ago! I have told Johnson we are going
straight back to Dartmoor, and he grinned--the wretch! Of course he
knows why.


     _Thursday morning_

Ended the Dartmoor drama! Gone Sir Archibald! Vanished the motor! Gone
too, dear Virginia and Mrs. Pomeroy! only Mrs. MacGill and I are left!
He went on Wednesday, the Pomeroys on Thursday, and I now await
events. Virginia tells me she has taken her mother to Torquay, but
that is a wide word!


I thought it would be so: a week without her was enough. Yesterday Sir
Archibald, or what used to be Sir Archibald, appeared at the inn

But what a change was here! Shall I put down our conversation without

_Cecilia._ So you have come back, Sir Archibald?

_Sir A._ Yes.

_Cecilia._ I hope you had a pleasant run to town, or wherever you

_Sir A._ Beastly.

_Cecilia._ What? Did the motor break down, or the weather?

_Sir A._ Neither.

_Cecilia._ What was wrong, then?

_Sir A._ Everything. (Then suddenly) Where have the Pomeroys gone to,
Miss Evesham?

_Cecilia._ To Torquay, I understand.

_Sir A._ Do you know their address?

_Cecilia._ I do not. I suppose they will be at one of the hotels.

_Sir A._ You are making fun of me. Tell me where they are. I am in

_Cecilia._ So am I. I do not know their address.

He started up, wrung my hand without a word, and hurried out of the
room. I looked after him in the hall, but he was so intent on the
Torquay Guide that he never noticed me.

He steamed off Torquay-wards half an hour later.

I have had a pleasant chat with Mr. Willoughby, who appeared this
afternoon. He looks at life and all things much as I do. He is a
distinct relief from Mrs. MacGill, a distinct relief; and though he
has made no special reputation as yet, he is bound to succeed, for he
has decided talent.



My words have taken effect; it is often disagreeable to have to give
unasked advice, but one should always do it. Sir Archibald has gone.
It is a pleasant thought that any simple words of mine may have been
the means of saving the young man from that designing person.

She conceals her disappointment as well as she can, and is doing her
best to look as if nothing had happened in one way or another; but I
can see below the surface of that new hat. She has taken her mother
off to Torquay for a few days. It is a large town seemingly, though I
have heard that there are no men there; but as the guide-book says the
population is twenty-five thousand, that is probably an exaggeration.
However, Miss Pomeroy won't stay long in Torquay in that case, but
will return to New York, where she would fain make us believe they are
as plentiful as in a harem. They cannot all be millionaires at least,
for she says that many American writers live on what they make by
their books.

Cecilia would like to stay on here, I think. She has been up to the
top of a quarry looking at gorse along with that so-called artist, Mr.

Miss Pomeroy has infected her, I am afraid, and the bad example is
telling, even at that age.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have had several nice quiet days here alone since the Pomeroys
left. There has scarcely been a sound in the hotel, except when the
wind pounces upon the window-frames in the sudden, annoying way that
it has here. Twice I have got up, to endeavour to fasten the window,
and each time have lost a toothbrush. It shakes my nerves completely
when the windows clatter suddenly through the night. Yesterday as we
sat in the dining-room I heard a crunching noise.

'Can that be another motor?' I exclaimed. 'I hope not. It is a class
of people I do not wish to associate with any further.'

'It is a motor,' called Cecilia, who sat next the window. 'A scarlet
motor, too.'

In another moment the door opened, and Sir Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie
came in.

'Dear me, Sir Archibald,' said I, 'what has brought you back again so
soon? You will have a nice quiet time here now, for we are the only
people in the hotel.'

He seemed strangely put out and unlike himself, and passed my chair
without even replying to my speech. I could see that he was thoroughly
unnerved, very much in the same state that I was when we came back
from that terrible drive. It is no wonder; motoring must tell on the
strongest nerves in time.

Later in the day Cecilia came in smiling. 'Sir Archibald has gone away
again,' she said. 'He has not made a long stay this time!'

'No,' I observed, 'that sort of nervous excitement grows on people. I
know myself that if I once begin to get excited over a bazaar, for
instance, I get off my sleep, and worn out in no time. I suppose he
has rushed off farther into the moor.'

'He has gone to Torquay,' remarked Cecilia, 'quite an easy run from

I was much annoyed. It seemed probable that he would meet Miss Pomeroy
again there, though possible that among twenty-five thousand women he
might fail to recognise her. I think Cecilia and I must take a day or
two at Torquay on our way home. It would soothe me after this mountain
air and the desolation of Grey Tor, and I could get some fresh bead
trimming for my velvet mantle, which has been much destroyed by all
that I have come through in this place. Our packing will be very
easily done. Poor Mr. MacGill used always to say, in his playful
manner, that he could stand anything except a woman's luggage, which
is the reason that I always try to travel with as little as possible.
So there will be only our two large boxes and the holdall and my black
bag and the split cane basket and the Holland umbrella-case, with two
straps of rugs and the small brown box, and the two hat-boxes, and a
basket with some food. Miss Pomeroy's boxes were like arks. I'm sure
if she succeeds in her design, I pity the man that has to take them
back to Scotland; they would never go in the motor. I think Greytoria
and the pony chaise will manage all our little things quite nicely.
She seems the quietest animal in the stables, so I must just trust
myself in it once more.

There goes Cecilia again, walking on the gravel at the door with that
Mr. Willoughby. We must certainly leave to-morrow morning.

One affair such as that of Miss Pomeroy and Sir Archibald is enough
for me to endure without being witness of another.

One would suppose common modesty would prevent a young gentleman and
lady from indulging in a love-affair whilst inhabiting an ordinary
country inn; but there is no limit to the boldness of these Americans.
I sometimes think it is a pity that they were discovered, for they
have been a bad example to more retiring and respectable nations.



That dreary week of uncertainty in London seemed more foolish than
ever, when Johnson and I struck the familiar road from Stoke Babbage
to the moor. What a silly ass I was, I thought, to kick my heels at
the Carleton all those tiresome days when I might have been with

It all looked exactly the same as we came up the hill from the little
town,--the bare walls of the hotel, Grey Tor with a row of tourists on
the top, moor ponies feeding all over the place, with their tiny foals
running after them. It was a lovely, cloudless day, with 'blue
distances' enough to please all the artists in creation, and the hot
air quivered over the heath as I've seen it do at home on an August
afternoon. I seemed to hear Virginia's voice already, to see her
standing on the step in one of her pretty new frocks, and my spirits
went up with a bound. But when I got to the door there was no one
there. I went into the dining-room; the tables were changed; the one
at which we all used to sit together in the window was pushed into the
middle of the room. At a small table on the side were seated Mrs.
MacGill and Miss Evesham, while the Exeter artist was at another one
not far off. Miss Evesham and he seemed to be having a pretty lively
conversation, while Mrs. MacGill looked thoroughly out of it and
decidedly sulky.

'What!' cried Miss Evesham, seeing me, 'you are back, Sir Archibald!
Had London no attractions?'

'I hate town in the heat,' I replied.

Of course I wanted to ask where the Pomeroys were, but couldn't bring
myself to do it,--especially before Mrs. MacGill. I had pointedly
ignored her, and had every intention of continuing to do so. After
lunch, at the bureau, I found that the Pomeroys had left some days
ago. I couldn't bring myself to ask for their address, with about a
dozen people listening, so I had to hang about and wait for a chance
of seeing Miss Evesham alone. It was after dinner before I got it. I
could see that she was laughing at me, under the rose--confound her
impudence!--and that she seemed to take a kind of pleasure in keeping
me waiting. She and the artist chap appeared to be as thick as
thieves, but at last she sent him off and began teasing me in her
quiet way.

'Are you a good sailor, Sir Archibald?' she asked irrelevantly.

'Not particularly. Why?' was my reply.

'The Atlantic is a wide ocean, and generally very rough, I have
heard,' said she, with a queer look at my face.

'Oh!' cried I involuntarily. 'Have they crossed?'

She burst out laughing.

'You're fairly caught!' she said. 'Am I supposed to know who "they"

Then of course I had to let on. I could see Miss Evesham knew all
about it, though she did not say much, being more inclined to laugh;
I'm sure I don't know why. The Pomeroys had gone to Torquay, but she
either could not or would not tell me their address, or how long they
were going to stay, or where they were going next.

'Torquay is a big place,' I said, discouraged, 'all hotels and
lodgings. How the deuce shall I find them?'

'Oh,' she replied coolly, 'people generally find what they want very
much--if they are really in earnest.'

With that she nodded me good night, still laughing. I did not see her
again, for of course I made an early morning start for Torquay next

And the devil of a hunt I had, when I got there! What silly idiots
women are! (Of course I mean Miss Evesham.) There are about one
hundred hotels, three hundred boarding-houses, and one thousand
furnished apartments in Torquay, and search as I might, I could not
find the Pomeroys' name on any of their lists, or discover a trace of
them anywhere. It was a broiling hot day, the sun beat down without
mercy, and the glare beat up from the beastly white roads and
pavements till I was nearly blind. I was never so nearly used up in my
life as at the end of that day, and it was not only with bodily
fatigue, but with utter and most cruel disappointment; for I was
convinced that the Pomeroys had left Torquay, and that, like an utter
fool, I had missed my only chance of being happy with a woman.

At last between six and seven of the evening, I found myself sitting
on the edge of a little sort of wood, below a garden overhanging the
sea. The trees were cut away, here and there, to show the view, and to
the right you looked along the coast and saw some red rocks and a
green headland jutting out into the water. It was sunset; I was
watching a little yawl in fall sail slipping round the headland, and
when it was out of sight, I looked at the headland itself. There was
one figure on the piece of green downs at the top,--a tall, slight
figure, a woman's, all in white, with a red parasol.

My heart jumped into my throat. I knew it was Virginia. There was a
piece of white scarf or veil floating out behind her as she walked,
and there is no woman in the world but Virginia who stands like that
or wears a scarf like that!--O Virginia, so dear and so distant, how,
how could I reach her, not having the wings of a bird? Long before I
could get there she would be gone,--lost again in that howling
wilderness of hotels and lodging-houses.

A man came along the path where I was standing.

'How do you get to that place?' I inquired, pointing to the headland,
'and what is it called?'

'It's called Daddy Hole Plain,' said the man, 'and you get there by
the road. I can't direct you from here; you must inquire as you go

'Is there no short cut?' I inquired impatiently.

'Not unless you can swim or fly!' said the man, with a grin.

I never wished before to be a bird or a fish; mere feet seemed a most
inadequate means of getting me to Virginia. But I set off, very nearly
at a run. The wrong turns that I took, the hills that I went up, the
hills that I went down, the people that I asked, the wrong directions
they gave me,--they seemed quite innumerable. Daddy Hole Plain was
about as difficult to get to as heaven, and when I got there the angel
would be flown!

But she wasn't.... For when at last I saw before me the bit of green
downs with the seats facing the bay, the white figure was there.
Virginia was sitting looking out to sea where the sun was setting,
making a red path on the water, and the white-sailed yawl was drifting
to the west!... I was so hot and tired, so travel-stained and dusty!
Virginia looked so cool and sweet!... To see her there after all my
wandering and disappointment was too much.... I could not speak. She
heard my step, looked up and saw me coming--looked glad, I think....
Her little feet were crossed in front of her upon the turf, and I just
flung myself beside them, and something--so like a lump of ice, that I
had always carried in my breast until I saw Virginia--melted entirely
at that moment, and began to beat.


     _June 19--_

If he had come the next day, or even the same week, he would have had
a cold welcome, for on the whole I did not understand, nor did I
fancy, his methods.

But I had had time to think, time to talk it over with mamma, time to
write Breck Calhoun that there was no use in our discussing the old
subject, for I feared, though I was not absolutely sure, that there
was 'some one else.' Always dear old Breck has finished by saying,
'Jinny, there is no one else?' And there never was till now.

Now there is not only some one else, but there is also in very truth
'no one else' who counts! All is absolutely different from, and yet
precisely like, everything that I have imagined ever since the
foundation of the earth. In love, he is, what all good men and good
women ought to be, something quite unlike his former self, or the
outer self he shows to the world. He has lost himself and found
himself again in me, and I have gone through the same mysterious
operation. He has place for no troublesome uncertainty of mind now,
although mamma and I have decreed a year of waiting, in which we shall
have ample time to change if we choose. But we shall not choose; we
were made for each other, as we have both known ever since the day we
had luncheon together at the Mug o' Cider in Little Widger.

What chapters, what books, we talked sitting in the gorse bushes on
Daddy Hole Plain! In the evening of my days I shall doubtless be glad
that I climbed those heights, remembering that Archibald had to exert
himself somewhat arduously in order to ask me to marry him. I wanted
to be alone and feast my eyes on the dazzling blue of the sea, one
broad expanse of sapphire, stretching off, off, into eternity; a blue
all be-diamonded with sunlit sparkles; a blue touched with foam-flecks
wherever it broke on the rocks or the islets. Granted that any view
has charms when one is young and in love, the view from Daddy Hole
Plain would inspire an octogenarian, or even a misogynist.

'It was in Exeter we really met, you remember,' I reminded Archibald.

'I am not likely to forget it.'

'Do you chance to know the motto that your virgin queen, Elizabeth,
bestowed upon Exeter? It was _Semper fidelis_.'

'That's a good omen, isn't it,' he said. 'You always do find out the
cleverest things, Virginia! How am I ever to keep up with you?'

'Don't try!' I answered, quite too happy to be anything but
vainglorious. 'Gaze at me on my superior intellectual height, and when
I meet your admiring eyes you can trust me to remember that though you
are voluntarily standing on a step below, your head is higher than
mine after all! Archibald, do you know what I am to give you for a
wedding present?'

'No,' he answered gravely; 'is it your mother?'

'No, I am going to lend mamma to Miss Evesham for a little, until her
turn comes,--dear old Cecilia!'

'Do you think it will ever come?'

'It's only just round the corner; Cupid is even now sharpening his
arrows and painting little pictures on the shafts.'

'Oh, I see! Well, is it Greytoria? for I don't mind saying that I'm
quite ready to give her a stall in my stables at Kindarroch; though of
all the ill-conducted and lazy little brutes--'

'Be careful, Archibald,' I exclaimed warningly; 'you owe some few
hours of martyrdom, but many a debt of gratitude, to that same

'I remember only one,' he said, looking at me in a very embarrassing
way, 'and by George, she cut that one short! But I give it up--the
wedding present; I can't guess, and I don't care specially, so long as
you come along with it.'

'I shall come with it, and in it, if the faithful Johnson will steer
me,--it's going to be a new motor!'

'Well, you owe it to me, Virginia,' he cried with enthusiasm, 'for
mine isn't worth a brass farthing at this moment. I knew before I had
been at Grey Tor twenty-four hours that it was going to be knocked
into smithereens, but I hadn't the pluck to take it or myself out of
harm's way. Now we are both done for!'

'Which do you prefer?' I asked,'your old motor or me?'

'You, with a new one,' he answered unblushingly. 'We'll take our
wedding journey in it, shall we? Early this autumn would be a good

'And mamma and Cecilia and Mrs. MacGill can follow behind with

'I don't mind their trying to follow,' Archibald responded genially,
as he lighted his pipe, 'so long as they never catch up; and they
never will--not with that little brute!'

     Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
     at the Edinburgh University Press

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