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Title: Derrick Vaughan, Novelist
Author: Lyall, Edna
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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By Edna Lyall

     ‘It is only through deep sympathy that a man can become a
     great artist.’--Lewes’s Life of Goethe.

     ‘Sympathy is feeling related to an object, whilst sentiment
     is the same feeling seeking itself alone.’--Arnold Toynbee.

Chapter I.

‘Nothing fills a child’s mind like a large old mansion; better if un- or
partially occupied; peopled with the spirits of deceased members of the
county and Justices of the Quorum. Would I were buried in the peopled
solitude of one, with my feelings at seven years old!’--From Letters of
Charles Lamb.

To attempt a formal biography of Derrick Vaughan would be out of the
question, even though he and I have been more or less thrown together
since we were both in the nursery. But I have an odd sort of wish to
note down roughly just a few of my recollections of him, and to show how
his fortunes gradually developed, being perhaps stimulated to make the
attempt by certain irritating remarks which one overhears now often
enough at clubs or in drawing-rooms, or indeed wherever one goes.
“Derrick Vaughan,” say these authorities of the world of small-talk,
with that delightful air of omniscience which invariably characterises
them, “why, he simply leapt into fame. He is one of the favourites of
fortune. Like Byron, he woke one morning and found himself famous.”

Now this sounds well enough, but it is a long way from the truth, and
I--Sydney Wharncliffe, of the Inner Temple, Barrister-at-law--desire,
while the past few years are fresh in my mind, to write a true version
of my friend’s career.

Everyone knows his face. Has it not appeared in ‘Noted Men,’
and--gradually deteriorating according to the price of the paper and
the quality of the engraving--in many another illustrated journal? Yet
somehow these works of art don’t satisfy me, and, as I write, I see
before me something very different from the latest photograph by Messrs.
Paul and Reynard.

I see a large-featured, broad-browed English face, a trifle
heavy-looking when in repose, yet a thorough, honest, manly face, with
a complexion neither dark nor fair, with brown hair and moustache, and
with light hazel eyes that look out on the world quietly enough. You
might talk to him for long in an ordinary way and never suspect that he
was a genius; but when you have him to yourself, when some consciousness
of sympathy rouses him, he all at once becomes a different being. His
quiet eyes kindle, his face becomes full of life--you wonder that you
ever thought it heavy or commonplace. Then the world interrupts in some
way, and, just as a hermit-crab draws down its shell with a comically
rapid movement, so Derrick suddenly retires into himself.

Thus much for his outer man.

For the rest, there are of course the neat little accounts of his
birthplace, his parentage, his education, etc., etc., published with the
list of his works in due order, with the engravings in the illustrated
papers. But these tell us little of the real life of the man.

Carlyle, in one of his finest passages, says that ‘A true delineation of
the smallest man and his scene of pilgrimage through life is capable of
interesting the greatest men; that all men are to an unspeakable degree
brothers, each man’s life a strange emblem of every man’s; and that
human portraits faithfully drawn are of all pictures the welcomest on
human walls.’ And though I don’t profess to give a portrait, but merely
a sketch, I will endeavour to sketch faithfully, and possibly in the
future my work may fall into the hands of some of those worthy people
who imagine that my friend leapt into fame at a bound, or of those
comfortable mortals who seem to think that a novel is turned out as
easily as water from a tap.

There is, however, one thing I can never do:--I am quite unable to
put into words my friend’s intensely strong feeling with regard to the
sacredness of his profession. It seemed to me not unlike the feeling
of Isaiah when, in the vision, his mouth had been touched with the
celestial fire. And I can only hope that something of this may be read
between my very inadequate lines.

Looking back, I fancy Derrick must have been a clever child. But he was
not precocious, and in some respects was even decidedly backward. I can
see him now--it is my first clear recollection of him--leaning back
in the corner of my father’s carriage as we drove from the Newmarket
station to our summer home at Mondisfield. He and I were small boys of
eight, and Derrick had been invited for the holidays, while his twin
brother--if I remember right--indulged in typhoid fever at Kensington.
He was shy and silent, and the ice was not broken until we passed
Silvery Steeple.

“That,” said my father, “is a ruined church; it was destroyed by
Cromwell in the Civil Wars.”

In an instant the small quiet boy sitting beside me was transformed. His
eyes shone; he sprang forward and thrust his head far out of the window,
gazing at the old ivy-covered tower as long as it remained in sight.

“Was Cromwell really once there?” he asked with breathless interest.

“So they say,” replied my father, looking with an amused smile at the
face of the questioner, in which eagerness, delight, and reverence were
mingled. “Are you an admirer of the Lord Protector?”

“He is my greatest hero of all,” said Derrick fervently. “Do you
think--oh, do you think he possibly can ever have come to Mondisfield?”

My father thought not, but said there was an old tradition that the
Hall had been attacked by the Royalists, and the bridge over the moat
defended by the owner of the house; but he had no great belief in the
story, for which, indeed, there seemed no evidence.

Derrick’s eyes during this conversation were something wonderful to see,
and long after, when we were not actually playing at anything, I used
often to notice the same expression stealing over him, and would cry
out, “There is the man defending the bridge again; I can see him in your
eyes! Tell me what happened to him next!”

Then, generally pacing to and fro in the apple walk, or sitting astride
the bridge itself, Derrick would tell me of the adventures of my
ancestor, Paul Wharncliffe, who performed incredible feats of valour,
and who was to both of us a most real person. On wet days he wrote
his story in a copy-book, and would have worked at it for hours had my
mother allowed him, though of the manual part of the work he had, and
has always retained, the greatest dislike. I remember well the comical
ending of this first story of his. He skipped over an interval of ten
years, represented on the page by ten laboriously made stars, and did
for his hero in the following lines:

“And now, reader, let us come into Mondisfield churchyard. There are
three tombstones. On one is written, ‘Mr. Paul Wharncliffe.’”

The story was no better than the productions of most eight-year-old
children, the written story at least. But, curiously enough, it proved
to be the germ of the celebrated romance, ‘At Strife,’ which Derrick
wrote in after years; and he himself maintains that his picture of life
during the Civil War would have been much less graphic had he not lived
so much in the past during his various visits to Mondisfield.

It was at his second visit, when we were nine, that I remember his
announcing his intention of being an author when he was grown up. My
mother still delights in telling the story. She was sitting at work in
the south parlour one day, when I dashed into the room calling out:

“Derrick’s head is stuck between the banisters in the gallery; come
quick, mother, come quick!”

She ran up the little winding staircase, and there, sure enough, in
the musician’s gallery, was poor Derrick, his manuscript and pen on the
floor and his head in durance vile.

“You silly boy!” said my mother, a little frightened when she found that
to get the head back was no easy matter, “What made you put it through?”

“You look like King Charles at Carisbrooke,” I cried, forgetting how
much Derrick would resent the speech.

And being released at that moment he took me by the shoulders and gave
me an angry shake or two, as he said vehemently, “I’m not like King
Charles! King Charles was a liar.”

I saw my mother smile a little as she separated us.

“Come, boys, don’t quarrel,” she said. “And Derrick will tell me the
truth, for indeed I am curious to know why he thrust his head in such a

“I wanted to make sure,” said Derrick, “whether Paul Wharncliffe could
see Lady Lettice, when she took the falcon on her wrist below in the
passage. I mustn’t say he saw her if it’s impossible, you know. Authors
have to be quite true in little things, and I mean to be an author.”

“But,” said my mother, laughing at the great earnestness of the hazel
eyes, “could not your hero look over the top of the rail?”

“Well, yes,” said Derrick. “He would have done that, but you see it’s
so dreadfully high and I couldn’t get up. But I tell you what, Mrs.
Wharncliffe, if it wouldn’t be giving you a great deal of trouble--I’m
sorry you were troubled to get my head back again--but if you would
just look over, since you are so tall, and I’ll run down and act Lady

“Why couldn’t Paul go downstairs and look at the lady in comfort?” asked
my mother.

Derrick mused a little.

“He might look at her through a crack in the door at the foot of the
stairs, perhaps, but that would seem mean, somehow. It would be a pity,
too, not to use the gallery; galleries are uncommon, you see, and you
can get cracked doors anywhere. And, you know, he was obliged to look at
her when she couldn’t see him, because their fathers were on different
sides in the war, and dreadful enemies.”

When school-days came, matters went on much in the same way; there was
always an abominably scribbled tale stowed away in Derrick’s desk, and
he worked infinitely harder than I did, because there was always before
him this determination to be an author and to prepare himself for
the life. But he wrote merely from love of it, and with no idea of
publication until the beginning of our last year at Oxford, when,
having reached the ripe age of one-and-twenty, he determined to delay no
longer, but to plunge boldly into his first novel.

He was seldom able to get more than six or eight hours a week for it,
because he was reading rather hard, so that the novel progressed but
slowly. Finally, to my astonishment, it came to a dead stand-still.

I have never made out exactly what was wrong with Derrick then, though
I know that he passed through a terrible time of doubt and despair. I
spent part of the Long with him down at Ventnor, where his mother had
been ordered for her health. She was devoted to Derrick, and as far as
I can understand, he was her chief comfort in life. Major Vaughan, the
husband, had been out in India for years; the only daughter was married
to a rich manufacturer at Birmingham, who had a constitutional dislike
to mothers-in-law, and as far as possible eschewed their company; while
Lawrence, Derrick’s twin brother, was for ever getting into scrapes, and
was into the bargain the most unblushingly selfish fellow I ever had the
pleasure of meeting.

“Sydney,” said Mrs. Vaughan to me one afternoon when we were in the
garden, “Derrick seems to me unlike himself, there is a division between
us which I never felt before. Can you tell me what is troubling him?”

She was not at all a good-looking woman, but she had a very sweet,
wistful face, and I never looked at her sad eyes without feeling ready
to go through fire and water for her. I tried now to make light of
Derrick’s depression.

“He is only going through what we all of us go through,” I said,
assuming a cheerful tone. “He has suddenly discovered that life is a
great riddle, and that the things he has accepted in blind faith are,
after all, not so sure.”

She sighed.

“Do all go through it?” she said thoughtfully. “And how many, I wonder,
get beyond?”

“Few enough,” I replied moodily. Then, remembering my role,--“But
Derrick will get through; he has a thousand things to help him which
others have not,--you, for instance. And then I fancy he has a sort of
insight which most of us are without.”

“Possibly,” she said. “As for me, it is little that I can do for him.
Perhaps you are right, and it is true that once in a life at any rate we
all have to go into the wilderness alone.”

That was the last summer I ever saw Derrick’s mother; she took a chill
the following Christmas and died after a few days’ illness. But I have
always thought her death helped Derrick in a way that her life might
have failed to do. For although he never, I fancy, quite recovered from
the blow, and to this day cannot speak of her without tears in his eyes,
yet when he came back to Oxford he seemed to have found the answer to
the riddle, and though older, sadder and graver than before, had quite
lost the restless dissatisfaction that for some time had clouded his
life. In a few months, moreover, I noticed a fresh sign that he was out
of the wood. Coming into his rooms one day I found him sitting in the
cushioned window-seat, reading over and correcting some sheets of blue

“At it again?” I asked.

He nodded.

“I mean to finish the first volume here. For the rest I must be in

“Why?” I asked, a little curious as to this unknown art of novel-making.

“Because,” he replied, “one must be in the heart of things to understand
how Lynwood was affected by them.”

“Lynwood! I believe you are always thinking of him!” (Lynwood was the
hero of his novel.)

“Well, so I am nearly--so I must be, if the book is to be any good.”

“Read me what you have written,” I said, throwing myself back in a
rickety but tolerably comfortable arm-chair which Derrick had inherited
with the rooms.

He hesitated a moment, being always very diffident about his own work;
but presently, having provided me with a cigar and made a good deal of
unnecessary work in arranging the sheets of the manuscript, he began to
read aloud, rather nervously, the opening chapters of the book now so
well known under the title of ‘Lynwood’s Heritage.’

I had heard nothing of his for the last four years, and was amazed at
the gigantic stride he had made in the interval. For, spite of a certain
crudeness, it seemed to me a most powerful story; it rushed straight to
the point with no wavering, no beating about the bush; it flung itself
into the problems of the day with a sort of sublime audacity; it took
hold of one; it whirled one along with its own inherent force, and drew
forth both laughter and tears, for Derrick’s power of pathos had always
been his strongest point.

All at once he stopped reading.

“Go on!” I cried impatiently.

“That is all,” he said, gathering the sheets together.

“You stopped in the middle of a sentence!” I cried in exasperation.

“Yes,” he said quietly, “for six months.”

“You provoking fellow! why, I wonder?”

“Because I didn’t know the end.”

“Good heavens! And do you know it now?”

He looked me full in the face, and there was an expression in his eyes
which puzzled me.

“I believe I do,” he said; and, getting up, he crossed the room, put the
manuscript away in a drawer, and returning, sat down in the window-seat
again, looking out on the narrow, paved street below, and at the grey
buildings opposite.

I knew very well that he would never ask me what I thought of the
story--that was not his way.

“Derrick!” I exclaimed, watching his impassive face, “I believe after
all you are a genius.”

I hardly know why I said “after all,” but till that moment it had
never struck me that Derrick was particularly gifted. He had so far got
through his Oxford career creditably, but then he had worked hard; his
talents were not of a showy order. I had never expected that he would
set the Thames on fire. Even now it seemed to me that he was too dreamy,
too quiet, too devoid of the pushing faculty to succeed in the world.

My remark made him laugh incredulously.

“Define a genius,” he said.

For answer I pulled down his beloved Imperial Dictionary and read
him the following quotation from De Quincey: ‘Genius is that mode of
intellectual power which moves in alliance with the genial nature, i.e.,
with the capacities of pleasure and pain; whereas talent has no
vestige of such an alliance, and is perfectly independent of all human

“Let me think! You can certainly enjoy things a hundred times more than
I can--and as for suffering, why you were always a great hand at that.
Now listen to the great Dr. Johnson and see if the cap fits, ‘The true
genius is a mind of large general powers accidentally determined in some
particular direction.’

“‘Large general powers’!--yes, I believe after all you have them with,
alas, poor Derrick! one notable exception--the mathematical faculty. You
were always bad at figures. We will stick to De Quincey’s definition,
and for heaven’s sake, my dear fellow, do get Lynwood out of that awful
plight! No wonder you were depressed when you lived all this age with
such a sentence unfinished!”

“For the matter of that,” said Derrick, “he can’t get out till the end
of the book; but I can begin to go on with him now.”

“And when you leave Oxford?”

“Then I mean to settle down in London--to write leisurely--and possibly
to read for the Bar.”

“We might be together,” I suggested. And Derrick took to this idea,
being a man who detested solitude and crowds about equally. Since his
mother’s death he had been very much alone in the world. To Lawrence he
was always loyal, but the two had nothing in common, and though fond
of his sister he could not get on at all with the manufacturer, his
brother-in-law. But this prospect of life together in London pleased him
amazingly; he began to recover his spirits to a great extent and to look
much more like himself.

It must have been just as he had taken his degree that he received a
telegram to announce that Major Vaughan had been invalided home, and
would arrive at Southampton in three weeks’ time. Derrick knew very
little of his father, but apparently Mrs. Vaughan had done her best to
keep up a sort of memory of his childish days at Aldershot, and in
these the part that his father played was always pleasant. So he looked
forward to the meeting not a little, while I, from the first, had my
doubts as to the felicity it was likely to bring him.

However, it was ordained that before the Major’s ship arrived, his son’s
whole life should change. Even Lynwood was thrust into the background.
As for me, I was nowhere. For Derrick, the quiet, the self-contained,
had fallen passionately in love with a certain Freda Merrifield.

Chapter II.

     ‘Infancy?  What if the rose-streak of morning
      Pale and depart in a passion of tears?
      Once to have hoped is no matter for scorning:
      Love once:  e’en love’s disappointment endears;
      A moment’s success pays the failure of years.’
                                               R. Browning.

The wonder would have been if he had not fallen in love with her, for
a more fascinating girl I never saw. She had only just returned from
school at Compiegne, and was not yet out; her charming freshness
was unsullied; she had all the simplicity and straightforwardness of
unspoilt, unsophisticated girlhood. I well remember our first sight
of her. We had been invited for a fortnight’s yachting by Calverley of
Exeter. His father, Sir John Calverley, had a sailing yacht, and some
guests having disappointed him at the last minute, he gave his son carte
blanche as to who he should bring to fill the vacant berths.

So we three travelled down to Southampton together one hot summer day,
and were rowed out to the Aurora, an uncommonly neat little schooner
which lay in that over-rated and frequently odoriferous roadstead,
Southampton Water. However, I admit that on that evening--the tide being
high--the place looked remarkably pretty; the level rays of the setting
sun turned the water to gold; a soft luminous haze hung over the town
and the shipping, and by a stretch of imagination one might have thought
the view almost Venetian. Derrick’s perfect content was only marred
by his shyness. I knew that he dreaded reaching the Aurora; and sure
enough, as we stepped on to the exquisitely white deck and caught sight
of the little group of guests, I saw him retreat into his crab-shell of
silent reserve. Sir John, who made a very pleasant host, introduced us
to the other visitors--Lord Probyn and his wife and their niece, Miss
Freda Merrifield. Lady Probyn was Sir John’s sister, and also the sister
of Miss Merrifield’s mother; so that it was almost a family party,
and by no means a formidable gathering. Lady Probyn played the part of
hostess and chaperoned her pretty niece; but she was not in the least
like the aunt of fiction--on the contrary, she was comparatively young
in years and almost comically young in mind; her niece was devoted to
her, and the moment I saw her I knew that our cruise could not possibly
be dull.

As to Miss Freda, when we first caught sight of her she was standing
near the companion, dressed in a daintily made yachting costume of blue
serge and white braid, and round her white sailor hat she wore the
name of the yacht stamped on a white ribbon; in her waist-band she
had fastened two deep crimson roses, and she looked at us with frank,
girlish curiosity, no doubt wondering whether we should add to or
detract from the enjoyment of the expedition. She was rather tall,
and there was an air of strength and energy about her which was most
refreshing. Her skin was singularly white, but there was a healthy glow
of colour in her cheeks; while her large, grey eyes, shaded by long
lashes, were full of life and brightness. As to her features, they
were perhaps a trifle irregular, and her elder sisters were supposed to
eclipse her altogether; but to my mind she was far the most taking of
the three.

I was not in the least surprised that Derrick should fall head over ears
in love with her; she was exactly the sort of girl that would infallibly
attract him. Her absence of shyness; her straightforward, easy way of
talking; her genuine goodheartedness; her devotion to animals--one of
his own pet hobbies--and finally her exquisite playing, made the
result a foregone conclusion. And then, moreover, they were perpetually
together. He would hang over the piano in the saloon for hours while she
played, the rest of us lazily enjoying the easy chairs and the fresh air
on deck; and whenever we landed, these two were sure in the end to be
just a little apart from the rest of us.

It was an eminently successful cruise. We all liked each other; the sea
was calm, the sunshine constant, the wind as a rule favourable, and I
think I never in a single fortnight heard so many good stories, or had
such a good time. We seemed to get right out of the world and its narrow
restrictions, away from all that was hollow and base and depressing,
only landing now and then at quaint little quiet places for some merry
excursion on shore. Freda was in the highest spirits; and as to Derrick,
he was a different creature. She seemed to have the power of drawing him
out in a marvellous degree, and she took the greatest interest in his
work--a sure way to every author’s heart.

But it was not till one day, when we landed at Tresco, that I felt
certain she genuinely loved him--there in one glance the truth flashed
upon me. I was walking with one of the gardeners down one of the long
shady paths of that lovely little island, with its curiously foreign
look, when we suddenly came face to face with Derrick and Freda. They
were talking earnestly, and I could see her great grey eyes as they were
lifted to his--perhaps they were more expressive than she knew--I cannot
say. They both started a little as we confronted them, and the colour
deepened in Freda’s face. The gardener, with what photographers usually
ask for--‘just the faint beginning of a smile,’--turned and gathered a
bit of white heather growing near.

“They say it brings good luck, miss,” he remarked, handing it to Freda.

“Thank you,” she said, laughing, “I hope it will bring it to me. At
any rate it will remind me of this beautiful island. Isn’t it just like
Paradise, Mr. Wharncliffe?”

“For me it is like Paradise before Eve was created,” I replied, rather
wickedly. “By the bye, are you going to keep all the good luck to

“I don’t know,” she said laughing. “Perhaps I shall; but you have only
to ask the gardener, he will gather you another piece directly.”

I took good care to drop behind, having no taste for the third-fiddle
business; but I noticed when we were in the gig once more, rowing back
to the yacht, that the white heather had been equally divided--one half
was in the waist-band of the blue serge dress, the other half in the
button-hole of Derrick’s blazer.

So the fortnight slipped by, and at length one afternoon we found
ourselves once more in Southampton Water; then came the bustle of
packing and the hurry of departure, and the merry party dispersed.
Derrick and I saw them all off at the station, for, as his father’s ship
did not arrive till the following day, I made up my mind to stay on with
him at Southampton.

“You will come and see us in town,” said Lady Probyn, kindly. And Lord
Probyn invited us both for the shooting at Blachington in September. “We
will have the same party on shore, and see if we can’t enjoy ourselves
almost as well,” he said in his hearty way; “the novel will go all the
better for it, eh, Vaughan?”

Derrick brightened visibly at the suggestion. I heard him talking to
Freda all the time that Sir John stood laughing and joking as to the
comparative pleasures of yachting and shooting.

“You will be there too?” Derrick asked.

“I can’t tell,” said Freda, and there was a shade of sadness in her
tone. Her voice was deeper than most women’s voices--a rich contralto
with something striking and individual about it. I could hear her quite
plainly; but Derrick spoke less distinctly--he always had a bad trick of

“You see I am the youngest,” she said, “and I am not really ‘out.’
Perhaps my mother will wish one of the elder ones to go; but I half
think they are already engaged for September, so after all I may have a

Inaudible remark from my friend.

“Yes, I came here because my sisters did not care to leave London till
the end of the season,” replied the clear contralto. “It has been a
perfect cruise. I shall remember it all my life.”

After that, nothing more was audible; but I imagine Derrick must have
hazarded a more personal question, and that Freda had admitted that it
was not only the actual sailing she should remember. At any rate her
face when I caught sight of it again made me think of the girl described
in the ‘Biglow Papers’:

     “‘’Twas kin’ o’ kingdom come to look
        On sech a blessed creatur.
        A dogrose blushin’ to a brook
        Ain’t modester nor sweeter.’”

So the train went off, and Derrick and I were left to idle about
Southampton and kill time as best we might. Derrick seemed to walk the
streets in a sort of dream--he was perfectly well aware that he had met
his fate, and at that time no thought of difficulties in the way had
arisen either in his mind or in my own. We were both of us young and
inexperienced; we were both of us in love, and we had the usual lover’s
notion that everything in heaven and earth is prepared to favour the
course of his particular passion.

I remember that we soon found the town intolerable, and, crossing by the
ferry, walked over to Netley Abbey, and lay down idly in the shade of
the old grey walls. Not a breath of wind stirred the great masses of
ivy which were wreathed about the ruined church, and the place looked so
lovely in its decay, that we felt disposed to judge the dissolute
monks very leniently for having behaved so badly that their church and
monastery had to be opened to the four winds of heaven. After all, when
is a church so beautiful as when it has the green grass for its floor
and the sky for its roof?

I could show you the very spot near the East window where Derrick told
me the whole truth, and where we talked over Freda’s perfections and the
probability of frequent meetings in London. He had listened so often and
so patiently to my affairs, that it seemed an odd reversal to have to
play the confidant; and if now and then my thoughts wandered off to the
coming month at Mondisfield, and pictured violet eyes while he talked of
grey, it was not from any lack of sympathy with my friend.

Derrick was not of a self-tormenting nature, and though I knew he was
amazed at the thought that such a girl as Freda could possibly care for
him, yet he believed most implicitly that this wonderful thing had come
to pass; and, remembering her face as we had last seen it, and the look
in her eyes at Tresco, I, too, had not a shadow of a doubt that she
really loved him. She was not the least bit of a flirt, and society
had not had a chance yet of moulding her into the ordinary girl of the
nineteenth century.

Perhaps it was the sudden and unexpected change of the next day that
makes me remember Derrick’s face so distinctly as he lay back on the
smooth turf that afternoon in Netley Abbey. As it looked then, full of
youth and hope, full of that dream of cloudless love, I never saw it

Chapter III.

     “Religion in him never died, but became a habit--a habit of
     enduring hardness, and cleaving to the steadfast performance
     of duty in the face of the strongest allurements to the
     pleasanter and easier course.” Life of Charles Lamb, by A.

Derrick was in good spirits the next day. He talked much of Major
Vaughan, wondered whether the voyage home had restored his health,
discussed the probable length of his leave, and speculated as to the
nature of his illness; the telegram had of course given no details.

“There has not been even a photograph for the last five years,” he
remarked, as we walked down to the quay together. “Yet I think I should
know him anywhere, if it is only by his height. He used to look so well
on horseback. I remember as a child seeing him in a sham fight charging
up Caesar’s Camp.”

“How old were you when he went out?”

“Oh, quite a small boy,” replied Derrick. “It was just before I first
stayed with you. However, he has had a regular succession of photographs
sent out to him, and will know me easily enough.”

Poor Derrick! I can’t think of that day even now without a kind of
mental shiver. We watched the great steamer as it glided up to the quay,
and Derrick scanned the crowded deck with eager eyes, but could nowhere
see the tall, soldierly figure that had lingered so long in his memory.
He stood with his hand resting on the rail of the gangway, and when
presently it was raised to the side of the steamer, he still kept his
position, so that he could instantly catch sight of his father as he
passed down. I stood close behind him, and watched the motley procession
of passengers; most of them had the dull colourless skin which bespeaks
long residence in India, and a particularly yellow and peevish-looking
old man was grumbling loudly as he slowly made his way down the gangway.

“The most disgraceful scene!” he remarked. “The fellow was as drunk as
he could be.”

“Who was it?” asked his companion.

“Why, Major Vaughan, to be sure. The only wonder is that he hasn’t drunk
himself to death by this time--been at it years enough!”

Derrick turned, as though to shelter himself from the curious eyes of
the travellers; but everywhere the quay was crowded. It seemed to me not
unlike the life that lay before him, with this new shame which could not
be hid, and I shall never forget the look of misery in his face.

“Most likely a great exaggeration of that spiteful old fogey’s,” I said.
“Never believe anything that you hear, is a sound axiom. Had you not
better try to get on board?”

“Yes; and for heaven’s sake come with me, Wharncliffe!” he said. “It
can’t be true! It is, as you say, that man’s spite, or else there is
someone else of the name on board. That must be it--someone else of the

I don’t know whether he managed to deceive himself. We made our way
on board, and he spoke to one of the stewards, who conducted us to the
saloon. I knew from the expression of the man’s face that the words we
had overheard were but too true; it was a mere glance that he gave
us, yet if he had said aloud, “They belong to that old drunkard! Thank
heaven I’m not in their shoes!” I could not have better understood what
was in his mind.

There were three persons only in the great saloon: an officer’s servant,
whose appearance did not please me; a fine looking old man with grey
hair and whiskers, and a rough-hewn honest face, apparently the ship’s
doctor; and a tall grizzled man in whom I at once saw a sort of horrible
likeness to Derrick--horrible because this face was wicked and degraded,
and because its owner was drunk--noisily drunk. Derrick paused for a
minute, looking at his father; then, deadly pale, he turned to the old
doctor. “I am Major Vaughan’s son,” he said.

The doctor grasped his hand, and there was something in the old man’s
kindly, chivalrous manner which brought a sort of light into the gloom.

“I am very glad to see you!” he exclaimed. “Is the Major’s luggage
ready?” he inquired turning to the servant. Then, as the man replied
in the affirmative, “How would it be, Mr. Vaughan, if your father’s man
just saw the things into a cab? and then I’ll come on shore with you and
see my patient safely settled in.”

Derrick acquiesced, and the doctor turned to the Major, who was leaning
up against one of the pillars of the saloon and shouting out “‘Twas in
Trafalgar Bay,” in a way which, under other circumstances, would have
been highly comic. The doctor interrupted him, as with much feeling he
sang how:

     “England declared that every man
      That day had done his duty.”

“Look, Major,” he said; “here is your son come to meet you.”

“Glad to see you, my boy,” said the Major, reeling forward and running
all his words together. “How’s your mother? Is this Lawrence? Glad to
see both of you! Why, you’r’s like’s two peas! Not Lawrence, do you say?
Confound it, doctor, how the ship rolls to-day!”

And the old wretch staggered and would have fallen, had not Derrick
supported him and landed him safely on one of the fixed ottomans.

“Yes, yes, you’re the son for me,” he went on, with a bland smile, which
made his face all the more hideous. “You’re not so rough and clumsy as
that confounded John Thomas, whose hands are like brickbats. I’m a mere
wreck, as you see; it’s the accursed climate! But your mother will soon
nurse me into health again; she was always a good nurse, poor soul!
it was her best point. What with you and your mother, I shall soon be
myself again.”

Here the doctor interposed, and Derrick made desperately for a porthole
and gulped down mouthfuls of fresh air: but he was not allowed much of a
respite, for the servant returned to say that he had procured a cab, and
the Major called loudly for his son’s arm.

“I’ll not have you,” he said, pushing the servant violently away. “Come,
Derrick, help me! you are worth two of that blockhead.”

And Derrick came quickly forward, his face still very pale, but with a
dignity about it which I had never before seen; and, giving his arm
to his drunken father, he piloted him across the saloon, through the
staring ranks of stewards, officials, and tardy passengers outside,
down the gangway, and over the crowded quay to the cab. I knew that each
derisive glance of the spectators was to him like a sword-thrust, and
longed to throttle the Major, who seemed to enjoy himself amazingly on
terra firma, and sang at the top of his voice as we drove through
the streets of Southampton. The old doctor kept up a cheery flow of
small-talk with me, thinking, no doubt, that this would be a kindness to
Derrick: and at last that purgatorial drive ended, and somehow Derrick
and the doctor between them got the Major safely into his room at
Radley’s Hotel.

We had ordered lunch in a private sitting-room, thinking that the Major
would prefer it to the coffee-room; but, as it turned out, he was in no
state to appear. They left him asleep, and the ship’s doctor sat in
the seat that had been prepared for his patient, and made the meal
as tolerable to us both as it could be. He was an odd, old-fashioned
fellow, but as true a gentleman as ever breathed.

“Now,” he said, when lunch was over, “you and I must have a talk
together, Mr. Vaughan, and I will help you to understand your father’s

I made a movement to go, but sat down again at Derrick’s request. I
think, poor old fellow, he dreaded being alone, and knowing that I
had seen his father at the worst, thought I might as well hear all

“Major Vaughan,” continued the doctor, “has now been under my care for
some weeks, and I had some communication with the regimental surgeon
about his case before he sailed. He is suffering from an enlarged
liver, and the disease has been brought on by his unfortunate habit
of over-indulgence in stimulants.” I could almost have smiled, so very
gently and considerately did the good old man veil in long words
the shameful fact. “It is a habit sadly prevalent among our
fellow-countrymen in India; the climate aggravates the mischief, and
very many lives are in this way ruined. Then your father was also
unfortunate enough to contract rheumatism when he was camping out in the
jungle last year, and this is increasing on him very much, so that his
life is almost intolerable to him, and he naturally flies for relief to
his greatest enemy, drink. At all costs, however, you must keep him from
stimulants; they will only intensify the disease and the sufferings, in
fact they are poison to a man in such a state. Don’t think I am a bigot
in these matters; but I say that for a man in such a condition as this,
there is nothing for it but total abstinence, and at all costs your
father must be guarded from the possibility of procuring any sort of
intoxicating drink. Throughout the voyage I have done my best to
shield him, but it was a difficult matter. His servant, too, is not
trustworthy, and should be dismissed if possible.”

“Had he spoken at all of his plans?” asked Derrick, and his voice
sounded strangely unlike itself.

“He asked me what place in England he had better settle down in,” said
the doctor, “and I strongly recommended him to try Bath. This seemed to
please him, and if he is well enough he had better go there to-morrow.
He mentioned your mother this morning; no doubt she will know how to
manage him.”

“My mother died six months ago,” said Derrick, pushing back his chair
and beginning to pace the room. The doctor made kindly apologies.

“Perhaps you have a sister, who could go to him?”

“No,” replied Derrick. “My only sister is married, and her husband would
never allow it.”

“Or a cousin or an aunt?” suggested the old man, naively unconscious
that the words sounded like a quotation.

I saw the ghost of a smile flit over Derrick’s harassed face as he shook
his head.

“I suggested that he should go into some Home for--cases of the kind,”
 resumed the doctor, “or place himself under the charge of some medical
man; however, he won’t hear of such a thing. But if he is left to
himself--well, it is all up with him. He will drink himself to death in
a few months.”

“He shall not be left alone,” said Derrick; “I will live with him. Do
you think I should do? It seems to be Hobson’s choice.”

I looked up in amazement--for here was Derrick calmly giving himself up
to a life that must crush every plan for the future he had made. Did men
make such a choice as that while they took two or three turns in a room?
Did they speak so composedly after a struggle that must have been so
bitter? Thinking it over now, I feel sure it was his extraordinary gift
of insight and his clear judgment which made him behave in this way. He
instantly perceived and promptly acted; the worst of the suffering came
long after.

“Why, of course you are the very best person in the world for him,”
 said the doctor. “He has taken a fancy to you, and evidently you have a
certain influence with him. If any one can save him it will be you.”

But the thought of allowing Derrick to be sacrificed to that old brute
of a Major was more than I could bear calmly.

“A more mad scheme was never proposed,” I cried. “Why, doctor, it will
be utter ruin to my friend’s career; he will lose years that no one can
ever make up. And besides, he is unfit for such a strain, he will never
stand it.”

My heart felt hot as I thought of Derrick, with his highly-strung,
sensitive nature, his refinement, his gentleness, in constant
companionship with such a man as Major Vaughan.

“My dear sir,” said the old doctor, with a gleam in his eye, “I
understand your feeling well enough. But depend upon it, your friend has
made the right choice, and there is no doubt that he’ll be strong enough
to do his duty.”

The word reminded me of the Major’s song, and my voice was abominably
sarcastic in tone as I said to Derrick, “You no longer consider writing
your duty then?”

“Yes,” he said, “but it must stand second to this. Don’t be vexed,
Sydney; our plans are knocked on the head, but it is not so bad as you
make out. I have at any rate enough to live on, and can afford to wait.”

There was no more to be said, and the next day I saw that strange trio
set out on their road to Bath. The Major looking more wicked when sober
than he had done when drunk; the old doctor kindly and considerate as
ever; and Derrick, with an air of resolution about that English face of
his and a dauntless expression in his eyes which impressed me curiously.

These quiet, reserved fellows are always giving one odd surprises.
He had astonished me by the vigour and depth of the first volume of
‘Lynwood’s Heritage.’ He astonished me now by a new phase in his own
character. Apparently he who had always been content to follow where I
led, and to watch life rather than to take an active share in it, now
intended to strike out a very decided line of his own.

Chapter IV.

     “Both Goethe and Schiller were profoundly convinced that Art
     was no luxury of leisure, no mere amusement to charm the
     idle, or relax the careworn; but a mighty influence, serious
     in its aims although pleasureable in its means; a sister of
     Religion, by whose aid the great world-scheme was wrought
     into reality.”  Lewes’s Life of Goethe.

Man is a selfish being, and I am a particularly fine specimen of the
race as far as that characteristic goes. If I had had a dozen drunken
parents I should never have danced attendance on one of them; yet in my
secret soul I admired Derrick for the line he had taken, for we mostly
do admire what is unlike ourselves and really noble, though it is the
fashion to seem totally indifferent to everything in heaven and earth.
But all the same I felt annoyed about the whole business, and was glad
to forget it in my own affairs at Mondisfield.

Weeks passed by. I lived through a midsummer dream of happiness, and a
hard awaking. That, however, has nothing to do with Derrick’s story,
and may be passed over. In October I settled down in Montague Street,
Bloomsbury, and began to read for the Bar, in about as disagreeable a
frame of mind as can be conceived. One morning I found on my breakfast
table a letter in Derrick’s handwriting. Like most men, we hardly ever
corresponded--what women say in the eternal letters they send to each
other I can’t conceive--but it struck me that under the circumstances
I ought to have sent him a line to ask how he was getting on, and my
conscience pricked me as I remembered that I had hardly thought of him
since we parted, being absorbed in my own matters. The letter was not
very long, but when one read between the lines it somehow told a good
deal. I have it lying by me, and this is a copy of it:

“Dear Sydney,--Do like a good fellow go to North Audley Street for me,
to the house which I described to you as the one where Lynwood lodged,
and tell me what he would see besides the church from his window--if
shops, what kind? Also if any glimpse of Oxford Street would be visible.
Then if you’ll add to your favours by getting me a second-hand copy of
Laveleye’s ‘Socialisme Contemporain,’ I should be for ever grateful. We
are settled in here all right. Bath is empty, but I people it as far as
I can with the folk out of ‘Evelina’ and ‘Persuasion.’ How did you get
on at Blachington? and which of the Misses Merrifield went in the end?
Don’t bother about the commissions. Any time will do.

“Ever yours,

“Derrick Vaughan.”

Poor old fellow! all the spirit seemed knocked out of him. There was not
one word about the Major, and who could say what wretchedness was veiled
in that curt phrase, “we are settled in all right”? All right! it was
all as wrong as it could be! My blood began to boil at the thought of
Derrick, with his great powers--his wonderful gift--cooped up in a place
where the study of life was so limited and so dull. Then there was his
hunger for news of Freda, and his silence as to what had kept him away
from Blachington, and about all a sort of proud humility which prevented
him from saying much that I should have expected him to say under the

It was Saturday, and my time was my own. I went out, got his book
for him; interviewed North Audley Street; spent a bad five minutes in
company with that villain ‘Bradshaw,’ who is responsible for so much of
the brain and eye disease of the nineteenth century, and finally left
Paddington in the Flying Dutchman, which landed me at Bath early in the
afternoon. I left my portmanteau at the station, and walked through the
city till I reached Gay Street. Like most of the streets of Bath, it
was broad, and had on either hand dull, well-built, dark grey, eminently
respectable, unutterably dreary-looking houses. I rang, and the door
was opened to me by a most quaint old woman, evidently the landlady. An
odour of curry pervaded the passage, and became more oppressive as the
door of the sitting-room was opened, and I was ushered in upon the Major
and his son, who had just finished lunch.

“Hullo!” cried Derrick, springing up, his face full of delight which
touched me, while at the same time it filled me with envy.

Even the Major thought fit to give me a hearty welcome.

“Glad to see you again,” he said pleasantly enough. “It’s a relief to
have a fresh face to look at. We have a room which is quite at your
disposal, and I hope you’ll stay with us. Brought your portmanteau, eh?”

“It is at the station,” I replied.

“See that it is sent for,” he said to Derrick; “and show Mr. Wharncliffe
all that is to be seen in this cursed hole of a place.” Then, turning
again to me, “Have you lunched? Very well, then, don’t waste this fine
afternoon in an invalid’s room, but be off and enjoy yourself.”

So cordial was the old man, that I should have thought him already a
reformed character, had I not found that he kept the rough side of his
tongue for home use. Derrick placed a novel and a small handbell within
his reach, and we were just going, when we were checked by a volley
of oaths from the Major; then a book came flying across the room, well
aimed at Derrick’s head. He stepped aside, and let it fall with a crash
on the sideboard.

“What do you mean by giving me the second volume when you know I am in
the third?” fumed the invalid.

He apologised quietly, fetched the third volume, straightened the
disordered leaves of the discarded second, and with the air of one well
accustomed to such little domestic scenes, took up his hat and came out
with me.

“How long do you intend to go on playing David to the Major’s Saul?”
 I asked, marvelling at the way in which he endured the humours of his

“As long as I have the chance,” he replied. “I say, are you sure you
won’t mind staying with us? It can’t be a very comfortable household for
an outsider.”

“Much better than for an insider, to all appearance,” I replied. “I’m
only too delighted to stay. And now, old fellow, tell me the honest
truth--you didn’t, you know, in your letter--how have you been getting

Derrick launched into an account of his father’s ailments.

“Oh, hang the Major! I don’t care about him, I want to know about you,”
 I cried.

“About me?” said Derrick doubtfully. “Oh, I’m right enough.”

“What do you do with yourself? How on earth do you kill time?” I asked.
“Come, give me a full, true, and particular account of it all.”

“We have tried three other servants,” said Derrick; “but the plan
doesn’t answer. They either won’t stand it, or else they are bribed
into smuggling brandy into the house. I find I can do most things for my
father, and in the morning he has an attendant from the hospital who is
trustworthy, and who does what is necessary for him. At ten we breakfast
together, then there are the morning papers, which he likes to have read
to him. After that I go round to the Pump Room with him--odd contrast
now to what it must have been when Bath was the rage. Then we have
lunch. In the afternoon, if he is well enough, we drive; if not he
sleeps, and I get a walk. Later on an old Indian friend of his will
sometimes drop in; if not he likes to be read to until dinner. After
dinner we play chess--he is a first-rate player. At ten I help him to
bed; from eleven to twelve I smoke and study Socialism and all the rest
of it that Lynwood is at present floundering in.”

“Why don’t you write, then?”

“I tried it, but it didn’t answer. I couldn’t sleep after it, and was,
in fact, too tired; seems absurd to be tired after such a day as that,
but somehow it takes it out of one more than the hardest reading; I
don’t know why.”

“Why,” I said angrily, “it’s because it is work to which you are quite
unsuited--work for a thick-skinned, hard-hearted, uncultivated and
well-paid attendant, not for the novelist who is to be the chief light
of our generation.”

He laughed at this estimate of his powers.

“Novelists, like other cattle, have to obey their owner,” he said

I thought for a moment that he meant the Major, and was breaking into an
angry remonstrance, when I saw that he meant something quite different.
It was always his strongest point, this extraordinary consciousness of
right, this unwavering belief that he had to do and therefore could do
certain things. Without this, I know that he never wrote a line, and in
my heart I believe this was the cause of his success.

“Then you are not writing at all?” I asked.

“Yes, I write generally for a couple of hours before breakfast,” he

And that evening we sat by his gas stove and he read me the next four
chapters of ‘Lynwood.’ He had rather a dismal lodging-house bedroom,
with faded wall-paper and a prosaic snuff-coloured carpet. On a rickety
table in the window was his desk, and a portfolio full of blue foolscap,
but he had done what he could to make the place habitable; his Oxford
pictures were on the walls--Hoffman’s ‘Christ speaking to the Woman
taken in Adultery,’ hanging over the mantelpiece--it had always been a
favourite of his. I remember that, as he read the description of Lynwood
and his wife, I kept looking from him to the Christ in the picture till
I could almost have fancied that each face bore the same expression. Had
this strange monotonous life with that old brute of a Major brought him
some new perception of those words, “Neither do I condemn thee”? But
when he stopped reading, I, true to my character, forgot his affairs in
my own, as we sat talking far into the night--talking of that luckless
month at Mondisfield, of all the problems it had opened up, and of my

“You were in town all September?” he asked; “you gave up Blachington?”

“Yes,” I replied. “What did I care for country houses in such a mood as

He acquiesced, and I went on talking of my grievances, and it was not
till I was in the train on my way back to London that I remembered how
a look of disappointment had passed over his face just at the moment.
Evidently he had counted on learning something about Freda from me, and
I--well, I had clean forgotten both her existence and his passionate

Something, probably self-interest, the desire for my friend’s company,
and so forth, took me down to Bath pretty frequently in those days;
luckily the Major had a sort of liking for me, and was always polite
enough; and dear old Derrick--well, I believe my visits really helped
to brighten him up. At any rate he said he couldn’t have borne his life
without them, and for a sceptical, dismal, cynical fellow like me to
hear that was somehow flattering. The mere force of contrast did me
good. I used to come back on the Monday wondering that Derrick didn’t
cut his throat, and realising that, after all, it was something to be
a free agent, and to have comfortable rooms in Montague Street, with
no old bear of a drunkard to disturb my peace. And then a sort of
admiration sprang up in my heart, and the cynicism bred of melancholy
broodings over solitary pipes was less rampant than usual.

It was, I think, early in the new year that I met Lawrence Vaughan in
Bath. He was not staying at Gay Street, so I could still have the vacant
room next to Derrick’s. Lawrence put up at the York House Hotel.

“For you know,” he informed me, “I really can’t stand the governor for
more than an hour or two at a time.”

“Derrick manages to do it,” I said.

“Oh, Derrick, yes,” he replied, “it’s his metier, and he is well
accustomed to the life. Besides, you know, he is such a dreamy, quiet
sort of fellow; he lives all the time in a world of his own creation,
and bears the discomforts of this world with great philosophy. Actually
he has turned teetotaller! It would kill me in a week.”

I make a point of never arguing with a fellow like that, but I think I
had a vindictive longing, as I looked at him, to shut him up with the
Major for a month, and see what would happen.

These twin brothers were curiously alike in face and curiously unlike in
nature. So much for the great science of physiognomy! It often seemed to
me that they were the complement of each other. For instance, Derrick in
society was extremely silent, Lawrence was a rattling talker; Derrick,
when alone with you, would now and then reveal unsuspected depths of
thought and expression; Lawrence, when alone with you, very frequently
showed himself to be a cad. The elder twin was modest and diffident, the
younger inclined to brag; the one had a strong tendency to melancholy,
the other was blest or cursed with the sort of temperament which has
been said to accompany “a hard heart and a good digestion.”

I was not surprised to find that the son who could not tolerate the
governor’s presence for more than an hour or two, was a prime favourite
with the old man; that was just the way of the world. Of course, the
Major was as polite as possible to him; Derrick got the kicks and
Lawrence the half-pence.

In the evenings we played whist, Lawrence coming in after dinner, “For,
you know,” he explained to me, “I really couldn’t get through a meal
with nothing but those infernal mineral waters to wash it down.”

And here I must own that at my first visit I had sailed rather close to
the wind; for when the Major, like the Hatter in ‘Alice,’ pressed me
to take wine, I--not seeing any--had answered that I did not take it;
mentally adding the words, “in your house, you brute!”

The two brothers were fond of each other after a fashion. But Derrick
was human, and had his faults like the rest of us; and I am pretty sure
he did not much enjoy the sight of his father’s foolish and unreasonable
devotion to Lawrence. If you come to think of it, he would have been a
full-fledged angel if no jealous pang, no reflection that it was rather
rough on him, had crossed his mind, when he saw his younger brother
treated with every mark of respect and liking, and knew that Lawrence
would never stir a finger really to help the poor fractious invalid.
Unluckily they happened one night to get on the subject of professions.

“It’s a comfort,” said the Major, in his sarcastic way, “to have a
fellow-soldier to talk to instead of a quill-driver, who as yet is not
even a penny-a-liner. Eh, Derrick? Don’t you feel inclined to regret
your fool’s choice now? You might have been starting off for the war
with Lawrence next week, if you hadn’t chosen what you’re pleased to
call a literary life. Literary life, indeed! I little thought a son of
mine would ever have been so wanting in spirit as to prefer dabbling in
ink to a life of action--to be the scribbler of mere words, rather than
an officer of dragoons.”

Then to my astonishment Derrick sprang to his feet in hot indignation.
I never saw him look so handsome, before or since; for his anger was
not the distorting, devilish anger that the Major gave way to, but real
downright wrath.

“You speak contemptuously of mere novels,” he said in a low voice, yet
more clearly than usual, and as if the words were wrung out of him.
“What right have you to look down on one of the greatest weapons of the
day? and why is a writer to submit to scoffs and insults and tamely to
hear his profession reviled? I have chosen to write the message that
has been given me, and I don’t regret the choice. Should I have shown
greater spirit if I had sold my freedom and right of judgment to be one
of the national killing machines?”

With that he threw down his cards and strode out of the room in a white
heat of anger. It was a pity he made that last remark, for it put him
in the wrong and needlessly annoyed Lawrence and the Major. But an angry
man has no time to weigh his words, and, as I said, poor old Derrick
was very human, and when wounded too intolerably could on occasion

The Major uttered an oath and looked in astonishment at the retreating
figure. Derrick was such an extraordinarily quiet, respectful,
long-suffering son as a rule, that this outburst was startling in the
extreme. Moreover, it spoilt the game, and the old man, chafed by the
result of his own ill-nature, and helpless to bring back his partner,
was forced to betake himself to chess. I left him grumbling away to
Lawrence about the vanity of authors, and went out in the hope of
finding Derrick. As I left the house I saw someone turn the corner into
the Circus, and starting in pursuit, overtook the tall, dark figure
where Bennett Street opens on to the Lansdowne Hill.

“I’m glad you spoke up, old fellow,” I said, taking his arm.

He modified his pace a little. “Why is it,” he exclaimed, “that every
other profession can be taken seriously, but that a novelist’s work is
supposed to be mere play? Good God! don’t we suffer enough? Have we
not hard brain work and drudgery of desk work and tedious gathering of
statistics and troublesome search into details? Have we not an appalling
weight of responsibility on us?--and are we not at the mercy of a
thousand capricious chances?”

“Come now,” I exclaimed, “you know that you are never so happy as when
you are writing.”

“Of course,” he replied; “but that doesn’t make me resent such an attack
the less. Besides, you don’t know what it is to have to write in such an
atmosphere as ours; it’s like a weight on one’s pen. This life here is
not life at all--it’s a daily death, and it’s killing the book too; the
last chapters are wretched--I’m utterly dissatisfied with them.”

“As for that,” I said calmly, “you are no judge at all. You can never
tell the worth of your own work; the last bit is splendid.”

“I could have done it better,” he groaned. “But there is always a
ghastly depression dragging one back here--and then the time is so
short; just as one gets into the swing of it the breakfast bell rings,
and then comes--” He broke off.

I could well supply the end of the sentence, however, for I knew that
then came the slow torture of a tete-a-tete day with the Major, stinging
sarcasms, humiliating scoldings, vexations and difficulties innumerable.

I drew him to the left, having no mind to go to the top of the hill.
We slackened our pace again and walked to and fro along the broad level
pavement of Lansdowne Crescent. We had it entirely to ourselves--not
another creature was in sight.

“I could bear it all,” he burst forth, “if only there was a chance of
seeing Freda. Oh, you are better off than I am--at least, you know the
worst. Your hope is killed, but mine lives on a tortured, starved life!
Would to God I had never seen her!”

Certainly before that night I had never quite realised the
irrevocableness of poor Derrick’s passion. I had half hoped that time
and separation would gradually efface Freda Merrifield from his memory;
and I listened with a dire foreboding to the flood of wretchedness
which he poured forth as we paced up and down, thinking now and then how
little people guessed at the tremendous powers hidden under his usually
quiet exterior.

At length he paused, but his last heart-broken words seemed to vibrate
in the air and to force me to speak some kind of comfort.

“Derrick,” I said, “come back with me to London--give up this miserable

I felt him start a little; evidently no thought of yielding had come
to him before. We were passing the house that used to belong to that
strange book-lover and recluse, Beckford. I looked up at the blank
windows, and thought of that curious, self-centred life in the past,
surrounded by every luxury, able to indulge every whim; and then I
looked at my companion’s pale, tortured face, and thought of the life
he had elected to lead in the hope of saving one whom duty bound him to
honour. After all, which life was the most worth living--which was the
most to be admired?

We walked on; down below us and up on the farther hill we could see the
lights of Bath; the place so beautiful by day looked now like a fairy
city, and the Abbey, looming up against the moon-lit sky, seemed like
some great giant keeping watch over the clustering roofs below. The
well-known chimes rang out into the night and the clock struck ten.

“I must go back,” said Derrick, quietly. “My father will want to get to

I couldn’t say a word; we turned, passed Beckford’s house once more,
walked briskly down the hill, and reached the Gay Street lodging-house.
I remember the stifling heat of the room as we entered it, and its
contrast to the cool, dark, winter’s night outside. I can vividly
recall, too, the old Major’s face as he looked up with a sarcastic
remark, but with a shade of anxiety in his bloodshot eyes. He was
leaning back in a green-cushioned chair, and his ghastly yellow
complexion seemed to me more noticeable than usual--his scanty grey
hair and whiskers, the lines of pain so plainly visible in his face,
impressed me curiously. I think I had never before realised what a wreck
of a man he was--how utterly dependent on others.

Lawrence, who, to do him justice, had a good deal of tact, and who, I
believe, cared for his brother as much as he was capable of caring
for any one but himself, repeated a good story with which he had been
enlivening the Major, and I did what I could to keep up the talk.
Derrick meanwhile put away the chessmen, and lighted the Major’s candle.
He even managed to force up a laugh at Lawrence’s story, and, as he
helped his father out of the room, I think I was the only one who
noticed the look of tired endurance in his eyes.

Chapter V.

                                     “I know
      How far high failure overtops the bounds
      Of low successes.  Only suffering draws
      The inner heart of song, and can elicit
      The perfumes of the soul.”
                                 Epic of Hades.

Next week, Lawrence went off like a hero to the war; and my friend--also
I think like a hero--stayed on at Bath, enduring as best he could the
worst form of loneliness; for undoubtedly there is no loneliness so
frightful as constant companionship with an uncongenial person. He had,
however, one consolation: the Major’s health steadily improved, under
the joint influence of total abstinence and Bath water, and, with the
improvement, his temper became a little better.

But one Saturday, when I had run down to Bath without writing
beforehand, I suddenly found a different state of things. In Orange
Grove I met Dr. Mackrill, the Major’s medical man; he used now and then
to play whist with us on Saturday nights, and I stopped to speak to him.

“Oh! you’ve come down again. That’s all right!” he said. “Your friend
wants someone to cheer him up. He’s got his arm broken.”

“How on earth did he manage that?” I asked.

“Well, that’s more than I can tell you,” said the Doctor, with an odd
look in his eyes, as if he guessed more than he would put into words.
“All that I could get out of him was that it was done accidentally. The
Major is not so well--no whist for us to-night, I’m afraid.”

He passed on, and I made my way to Gay Street. There was an air of
mystery about the quaint old landlady; she looked brimful of news when
she opened the door to me, but she managed to ‘keep herself to herself,’
and showed me in upon the Major and Derrick, rather triumphantly I
thought. The Major looked terribly ill--worse than I had ever seen
him, and as for Derrick, he had the strangest look of shrinking and
shame-facedness you ever saw. He said he was glad to see me, but I knew
that he lied. He would have given anything to have kept me away.

“Broken your arm?” I exclaimed, feeling bound to take some notice of the

“Yes,” he replied; “met with an accident to it. But luckily it’s only
the left one, so it doesn’t hinder me much! I have finished seven
chapters of the last volume of ‘Lynwood,’ and was just wanting to ask
you a legal question.”

All this time his eyes bore my scrutiny defiantly; they seemed to dare
me to say one other word about the broken arm. I didn’t dare--indeed to
this day I have never mentioned the subject to him.

But that evening, while he was helping the Major to bed, the old
landlady made some pretext for toiling up to the top of the house, where
I sat smoking in Derrick’s room.

“You’ll excuse my making bold to speak to you, sir,” she said. I threw
down my newspaper, and, looking up, saw that she was bubbling over with
some story.

“Well?” I said, encouragingly.

“It’s about Mr. Vaughan, sir, I wanted to speak to you. I really do
think, sir, it’s not safe he should be left alone with his father, sir,
any longer. Such doings as we had here the other day, sir! Somehow or
other--and none of us can’t think how--the Major had managed to get hold
of a bottle of brandy. How he had it I don’t know; but we none of us
suspected him, and in the afternoon he says he was too poorly to go for
a drive or to go out in his chair, and settles off on the parlour sofa
for a nap while Mr. Vaughan goes out for a walk. Mr. Vaughan was out a
couple of hours. I heard him come in and go into the sitting-room;
then there came sounds of voices, and a scuffling of feet and moving of
chairs, and I knew something was wrong and hurried up to the door--and
just then came a crash like fire-irons, and I could hear the Major
a-swearing fearful. Not hearing a sound from Mr. Vaughan, I got scared,
sir, and opened the door, and there I saw the Major a leaning up against
the mantelpiece as drunk as a lord, and his son seemed to have got the
bottle from him; it was half empty, and when he saw me he just handed it
to me and ordered me to take it away. Then between us we got the Major
to lie down on the sofa and left him there. When we got out into the
passage Mr. Vaughan he leant against the wall for a minute, looking as
white as a sheet, and then I noticed for the first time that his left
arm was hanging down at his side. ‘Lord! sir,’ I cried, ‘your arm’s
broken.’ And he went all at once as red as he had been pale just before,
and said he had got it done accidentally, and bade me say nothing about
it, and walked off there and then to the doctor’s, and had it set. But
sir, given a man drunk as the Major was, and given a scuffle to get away
the drink that was poisoning him, and given a crash such as I heard,
and given a poker a-lying in the middle of the room where it stands to
reason no poker could get unless it was thrown--why, sir, no sensible
woman who can put two and two together can doubt that it was all the
Major’s doing.”

“Yes,” I said, “that is clear enough; but for Mr. Vaughan’s sake we must
hush it up; and, as for safety, why, the Major is hardly strong enough
to do him any worse damage than that.”

The good old thing wiped away a tear from her eyes. She was very fond of
Derrick, and it went to her heart that he should lead such a dog’s life.

I said what I could to comfort her, and she went down again, fearful
lest he should discover her upstairs and guess that she had opened her
heart to me.

Poor Derrick! That he of all people on earth should be mixed up with
such a police court story--with drunkard, and violence, and pokers
figuring in it! I lay back in the camp chair and looked at Hoffman’s
‘Christ,’ and thought of all the extraordinary problems that one is for
ever coming across in life. And I wondered whether the people of Bath
who saw the tall, impassive-looking, hazel-eyed son and the invalid
father in their daily pilgrimages to the Pump Room, or in church on
Sunday, or in the Park on sunny afternoons had the least notion of
the tragedy that was going on. My reflections were interrupted by his
entrance. He had forced up a cheerfulness that I am sure he didn’t
really feel, and seemed afraid of letting our talk flag for a moment. I
remember, too, that for the first time he offered to read me his novel,
instead of as usual waiting for me to ask to hear it. I can see him
now, fetching the untidy portfolio and turning over the pages, adroitly
enough, as though anxious to show how immaterial was the loss of a left
arm. That night I listened to the first half of the third volume of
‘Lynwood’s Heritage,’ and couldn’t help reflecting that its author
seemed to thrive on misery; and yet how I grudged him to this
deadly-lively place, and this monotonous, cooped-up life.

“How do you manage to write one-handed?” I asked.

And he sat down to his desk, put a letter-weight on the left-hand corner
of the sheet of foolscap, and wrote that comical first paragraph of the
eighth chapter over which we have all laughed. I suppose few readers
guessed the author’s state of mind when he wrote it. I looked over his
shoulder to see what he had written, and couldn’t help laughing aloud--I
verily believe that it was his way of turning off attention from his
arm, and leading me safely from the region of awkward questions.

“By-the-by,” I exclaimed, “your writing of garden-parties reminds me. I
went to one at Campden Hill the other day, and had the good fortune to
meet Miss Freda Merrifield.”

How his face lighted up, poor fellow, and what a flood of questions he
poured out. “She looked very well and very pretty,” I replied. “I played
two sets of tennis with her. She asked after you directly she saw me,
seeming to think that we always hunted in couples. I told her you were
living here, taking care of an invalid father; but just then up came
the others to arrange the game. She and I got the best courts, and as we
crossed over to them she told me she had met your brother several times
last autumn, when she had been staying near Aldershot. Odd that he never
mentioned her here; but I don’t suppose she made much impression on him.
She is not at all his style.”

“Did you have much more talk with her?” he asked.

“No, nothing to be called talk. She told me they were leaving London
next week, and she was longing to get back to the country to her beloved
animals--rabbits, poultry, an aviary, and all that kind of thing. I
should gather that they had kept her rather in the background this
season, but I understand that the eldest sister is to be married in the
winter, and then no doubt Miss Freda will be brought forward.”

He seemed wonderfully cheered by this opportune meeting, and though
there was so little to tell he appeared to be quite content. I left him
on Monday in fairly good spirits, and did not come across him again till
September, when his arm was well, and his novel finished and revised. He
never made two copies of his work, and I fancy this was perhaps because
he spent so short a time each day in actual writing, and lived so
continually in his work; moreover, as I said before, he detested

The last part of ‘Lynwood’ far exceeded my expectations; perhaps--yet I
don’t really think so--I viewed it too favourably. But I owed the book
a debt of gratitude, since it certainly helped me through the worst part
of my life.

“Don’t you feel flat now it is finished?” I asked.

“I felt so miserable that I had to plunge into another story three days
after,” he replied; and then and there he gave me the sketch of his
second novel, ‘At Strife,’ and told me how he meant to weave in his
childish fancies about the defence of the bridge in the Civil Wars.

“And about ‘Lynwood?’ Are you coming up to town to hawk him round?” I

“I can’t do that,” he said; “you see I am tied here. No, I must send him
off by rail, and let him take his chance.”

“No such thing!” I cried. “If you can’t leave Bath I will take him round
for you.”

And Derrick, who with the oddest inconsistency would let his MS. lie
about anyhow at home, but hated the thought of sending it out alone on
its travels, gladly accepted my offer. So next week I set off with the
huge brown paper parcel; few, however, will appreciate my good nature,
for no one but an author or a publisher knows the fearful weight of a
three volume novel in MS.! To my intense satisfaction I soon got rid of
it, for the first good firm to which I took it received it with great
politeness, to be handed over to their ‘reader’ for an opinion; and
apparently the ‘reader’s’ opinion coincided with mine, for a month
later Derrick received an offer for it with which he at once closed--not
because it was a good one, but because the firm was well thought of,
and because he wished to lose no time, but to have the book published at
once. I happened to be there when his first ‘proofs’ arrived. The Major
had had an attack of jaundice, and was in a fiendish humour. We had
a miserable time of it at dinner, for he badgered Derrick almost past
bearing, and I think the poor old fellow minded it more when there was
a third person present. Somehow through all he managed to keep his
extraordinary capacity for reverencing mere age--even this degraded and
detestable old age of the Major’s. I often thought that in this he
was like my own ancestor, Hugo Wharncliffe, whose deference and
respectfulness and patience had not descended to me, while unfortunately
the effects of his physical infirmities had. I sometimes used to
reflect bitterly enough on the truth of Herbert Spencer’s teaching as to
heredity, so clearly shown in my own case. In the year 1683, through
the abominable cruelty and harshness of his brother Randolph, this Hugo
Wharncliffe, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, was immured
in Newgate, and his constitution was thereby so much impaired and
enfeebled that, two hundred years after, my constitution is paying the
penalty, and my whole life is thereby changed and thwarted. Hence this
childless Randolph is affecting the course of several lives in the 19th
century to their grievous hurt.

But revenons a nos moutons--that is to say, to our lion and lamb--the
old brute of a Major and his long-suffering son.

While the table was being cleared, the Major took forty winks on the
sofa, and we two beat a retreat, lit up our pipes in the passage, and
were just turning out when the postman’s double knock came, but no
showers of letters in the box. Derrick threw open the door, and the man
handed him a fat, stumpy-looking roll in a pink wrapper.

“I say!” he exclaimed, “PROOFS!”

And, in hot haste, he began tearing away the pink paper, till out came
the clean, folded bits of printing and the dirty and dishevelled blue
foolscap, the look of which I knew so well. It is an odd feeling, that
first seeing one’s self in print, and I could guess, even then, what a
thrill shot through Derrick as he turned over the pages. But he would
not take them into the sitting-room, no doubt dreading another diatribe
against his profession; and we solemnly played euchre, and patiently
endured the Major’s withering sarcasms till ten o’clock sounded our
happy release.

However, to make a long story short, a month later--that is, at the end
of November--‘Lynwood’s Heritage’ was published in three volumes with
maroon cloth and gilt lettering. Derrick had distributed among his
friends the publishers’ announcement of the day of publication; and when
it was out I besieged the libraries for it, always expressing surprise
if I did not find it in their lists. Then began the time of reviews. As
I had expected, they were extremely favourable, with the exception of
the Herald, the Stroller, and the Hour, which made it rather hot for
him, the latter in particular pitching into his views and assuring
its readers that the book was ‘dangerous,’ and its author a believer
in--various thing especially repugnant to Derrick, at it happened.

I was with him when he read these reviews. Over the cleverness of the
satirical attack in the Weekly Herald he laughed heartily, though
the laugh was against himself; and as to the critic who wrote in the
Stroller it was apparent to all who knew ‘Lynwood’ that he had not read
much of the book; but over this review in the Hour he was genuinely
angry--it hurt him personally, and, as it afterwards turned out, played
no small part in the story of his life. The good reviews, however, were
many, and their recommendation of the book hearty; they all prophesied
that it would be a great success. Yet, spite of this, ‘Lynwood’s
Heritage’ didn’t sell. Was it, as I had feared, that Derrick was too
devoid of the pushing faculty ever to make a successful writer? Or was
it that he was handicapped by being down in the provinces playing keeper
to that abominable old bear? Anyhow, the book was well received, read
with enthusiasm by an extremely small circle, and then it dropped down
to the bottom among the mass of overlooked literature, and its career
seemed to be over. I can recall the look in Derrick’s face when one day
he glanced through the new Mudie and Smith lists and found ‘Lynwood’s
Heritage’ no longer down. I had been trying to cheer him up about the
book and quoting all the favourable remarks I had heard about it. But
unluckily this was damning evidence against my optimist view.

He sighed heavily and put down the lists.

“It’s no use to deceive one’s self,” he said, drearily, “‘Lynwood’ has

Something in the deep depression of look and tone gave me a momentary
insight into the author’s heart. He thought, I know, of the agony of
mind this book had cost him; of those long months of waiting and their
deadly struggle, of the hopes which had made all he passed through seem
so well worth while; and the bitterness of the disappointment was no
doubt intensified by the knowledge that the Major would rejoice over it.

We walked that afternoon along the Bradford Valley, a road which Derrick
was specially fond of. He loved the thickly-wooded hills, and the
glimpses of the Avon, which, flanked by the canal and the railway, runs
parallel with the high road; he always admired, too, a certain little
village with grey stone cottages which lay in this direction, and liked
to look at the site of the old hall near the road: nothing remained of
it but the tall gate posts and rusty iron gates looking strangely dreary
and deserted, and within one could see, between some dark yew trees,
an old terrace walk with stone steps and balustrades--the most
ghostly-looking place you can conceive.

“I know you’ll put this into a book some day,” I said, laughing.

“Yes,” he said, “it is already beginning to simmer in my brain.”
 Apparently his deep disappointment as to his first venture had in no way
affected his perfectly clear consciousness that, come what would, he had
to write.

As we walked back to Bath he told me his ‘Ruined Hall’ story as far as
it had yet evolved itself in his brain, and we were still discussing it
when in Milsom Street we met a boy crying evening papers, and details of
the last great battle at Saspataras Hill.

Derrick broke off hastily, everything but anxiety for Lawrence driven
from his mind.

Chapter VI.

     “Say not, O Soul, thou art defeated,
        Because thou art distressed;
      If thou of better thing art cheated,
        Thou canst not be of best.”
                               T. T. Lynch.

“Good heavens, Sydney!” he exclaimed in great excitement and with his
whole face aglow with pleasure, “look here!”

He pointed to a few lines in the paper which mentioned the heroic
conduct of Lieutenant L. Vaughan, who at the risk of his life had
rescued a brother officer when surrounded by the enemy and completely
disabled. Lieutenant Vaughan had managed to mount the wounded man on his
own horse and had miraculously escaped himself with nothing worse than a
sword-thrust in the left arm.

We went home in triumph to the Major, and Derrick read the whole account
aloud. With all his detestation of war, he was nevertheless greatly
stirred by the description of the gallant defence of the attacked
position--and for a time we were all at one, and could talk of nothing
but Lawrence’s heroism, and Victoria Crosses, and the prospects of
peace. However, all too soon, the Major’s fiendish temper returned,
and he began to use the event of the day as a weapon against Derrick,
continually taunting him with the contrast between his stay-at-home life
of scribbling and Lawrence’s life of heroic adventure. I could never
make out whether he wanted to goad his son into leaving him, in order
that he might drink himself to death in peace, or whether he merely
indulged in his natural love of tormenting, valuing Derrick’s devotion
as conducive to his own comfort, and knowing that hard words would not
drive him from what he deemed to be his duty. I rather incline to the
latter view, but the old Major was always an enigma to me; nor can I
to this day make out his raison-d’etre, except on the theory that the
training of a novelist required a course of slow torture, and that the
old man was sent into the world to be a sort of thorn in the flesh of

What with the disappointment about his first book, and the difficulty
of writing his second, the fierce craving for Freda’s presence, the
struggle not to allow his admiration for Lawrence’s bravery to become
poisoned by envy under the influence of the Major’s incessant attacks,
Derrick had just then a hard time of it. He never complained, but I
noticed a great change in him; his melancholy increased, his flashes of
humour and merriment became fewer and fewer--I began to be afraid that
he would break down.

“For God’s sake!” I exclaimed one evening when left alone with the
Doctor after an evening of whist, “do order the Major to London. Derrick
has been mewed up here with him for nearly two years, and I don’t think
he can stand it much longer.”

So the Doctor kindly contrived to advise the Major to consult a
well-known London physician, and to spend a fortnight in town, further
suggesting that a month at Ben Rhydding might be enjoyable before
settling down at Bath again for the winter. Luckily the Major took to
the idea, and just as Lawrence returned from the war Derrick and his
father arrived in town. The change seemed likely to work well, and I was
able now and then to release my friend and play cribbage with the old
man for an hour or two while Derrick tore about London, interviewed his
publisher, made researches into seventeenth century documents at the
British Museum, and somehow managed in his rapid way to acquire those
glimpses of life and character which he afterwards turned to such good
account. All was grist that came to his mill, and at first the mere
sight of his old home, London, seemed to revive him. Of course at the
very first opportunity he called at the Probyns’, and we both of us had
an invitation to go there on the following Wednesday to see the march
past of the troops and to lunch. Derrick was nearly beside himself at
the prospect, for he knew that he should certainly meet Freda at last,
and the mingled pain and bliss of being actually in the same place with
her, yet as completely separated as if seas rolled between them, was
beginning to try him terribly.

Meantime Lawrence had turned up again, greatly improved in every way by
all that he had lived through, but rather too ready to fall in with
his father’s tone towards Derrick. The relations between the two
brothers--always a little peculiar--became more and more difficult, and
the Major seemed to enjoy pitting them against each other.

At length the day of the review arrived. Derrick was not looking well,
his eyes were heavy with sleeplessness, and the Major had been unusually
exasperating at breakfast that morning, so that he started with a jaded,
worn-out feeling that would not wholly yield even to the excitement
of this long-expected meeting with Freda. When he found himself in the
great drawing-room at Lord Probyn’s house, amid a buzz of talk and a
crowd of strange faces, he was seized with one of those sudden attacks
of shyness to which he was always liable. In fact, he had been so long
alone with the old Major that this plunge into society was too great a
reaction, and the very thing he had longed for became a torture to him.

Freda was at the other end of the room talking to Keith Collins, the
well-known member for Codrington, whose curious but attractive face was
known to all the world through the caricatures of it in ‘Punch.’ I knew
that she saw Derrick, and that he instantly perceived her, and that a
miserable sense of separation, of distance, of hopelessness overwhelmed
him as he looked. After all, it was natural enough. For two years he
had thought of Freda night and day; in his unutterably dreary life her
memory had been his refreshment, his solace, his companion. Now he was
suddenly brought face to face, not with the Freda of his dreams, but
with a fashionable, beautifully dressed, much-sought girl, and he felt
that a gulf lay between them; it was the gulf of experience. Freda’s
life in society, the whirl of gaiety, the excitement and success which
she had been enjoying throughout the season, and his miserable monotony
of companionship with his invalid father, of hard work and weary
disappointment, had broken down the bond of union that had once existed
between them. From either side they looked at each other--Freda with a
wondering perplexity, Derrick with a dull grinding pain at his heart.

Of course they spoke to each other; but I fancy the merest platitudes
passed between them. Somehow they had lost touch, and a crowded London
drawing-room was hardly the place to regain it.

“So your novel is really out,” I heard her say to him in that deep,
clear voice of hers. “I like the design on the cover.”

“Oh, have you read the book?” said Derrick, colouring.

“Well, no,” she said truthfully. “I wanted to read it, but my father
wouldn’t let me--he is very particular about what we read.”

That frank but not very happily worded answer was like a stab to poor
Derrick. He had given to the world then a book that was not fit for her
to read! This ‘Lynwood,’ which had been written with his own heart’s
blood, was counted a dangerous, poisonous thing, from which she must be

Freda must have seen that she had hurt him, for she tried hard to
retrieve her words.

“It was tantalising to have it actually in the house, wasn’t it? I have
a grudge against the Hour, for it was the review in that which set
my father against it.” Then rather anxious to leave the difficult
subject--“And has your brother quite recovered from his wound?”

I think she was a little vexed that Derrick did not show more animation
in his replies about Lawrence’s adventures during the war; the less he
responded the more enthusiastic she became, and I am perfectly sure that
in her heart she was thinking:

“He is jealous of his brother’s fame--I am disappointed in him. He has
grown dull, and absent, and stupid, and he is dreadfully wanting in
small-talk. I fear that his life down in the provinces is turning him
into a bear.”

She brought the conversation back to his book; but there was a little
touch of scorn in her voice, as if she thought to herself, “I suppose
he is one of those people who can only talk on one subject--his own
doings.” Her manner was almost brusque.

“Your novel has had a great success, has it not?” she asked.

He instantly perceived her thought, and replied with a touch of dignity
and a proud smile:

“On the contrary, it has been a great failure; only three hundred and
nine copies have been sold.”

“I wonder at that,” said Freda, “for one so often heard it talked of.”

He promptly changed the topic, and began to speak of the march past. “I
want to see Lord Starcross,” he added. “I have no idea what a hero is

Just then Lady Probyn came up, followed by an elderly harpy in
spectacles and false, much-frizzed fringe.

“Mrs. Carsteen wishes to be introduced to you, Mr. Vaughan; she is a
great admirer of your writings.”

And poor Derrick, who was then quite unused to the species, had to
stand and receive a flood of the most fulsome flattery, delivered in
a strident voice, and to bear the critical and prolonged stare of the
spectacled eyes. Nor would the harpy easily release her prey. She kept
him much against his will, and I saw him looking wistfully now and then
towards Freda.

“It amuses me,” I said to her, “that Derrick Vaughan should be so
anxious to see Lord Starcross. It reminds me of Charles Lamb’s anxiety
to see Kosciusko, ‘for,’ said he, ‘I have never seen a hero; I wonder
how they look,’ while all the time he himself was living a life of
heroic self-sacrifice.”

“Mr. Vaughan, I should think, need only look at his own brother,” said
Freda, missing the drift of my speech.

I longed to tell her what it was possible to tell of Derrick’s life, but
at that moment Sir Richard Merrifield introduced to his daughter a girl
in a huge hat and great flopping sleeves, Miss Isaacson, whose picture
at the Grosvenor had been so much talked of. Now the little artist knew
no one in the room, and Freda saw fit to be extremely friendly to her.
She was introduced to me, and I did my best to talk to her and set Freda
at liberty as soon as the harpy had released Derrick; but my endeavours
were frustrated, for Miss Isaacson, having looked me well over, decided
that I was not at all intense, but a mere commonplace, slightly cynical
worldling, and having exchanged a few lukewarm remarks with me, she
returned to Freda, and stuck to her like a bur for the rest of the time.

We stood out on the balcony to see the troops go by. It was a fine
sight, and we all became highly enthusiastic. Freda enjoyed the mere
pageant like a child, and was delighted with the horses. She looked now
more like the Freda of the yacht, and I wished that Derrick could be
near her; but, as ill-luck would have it, he was at some distance,
hemmed in by an impassable barrier of eager spectators.

Lawrence Vaughan rode past, looking wonderfully well in his uniform. He
was riding a spirited bay, which took Freda’s fancy amazingly, though
she reserved her chief enthusiasm for Lord Starcross and his steed. It
was not until all was over, and we had returned to the drawing-room,
that Derrick managed to get the talk with Freda for which I knew he
was longing, and then they were fated, apparently, to disagree. I was
standing near and overheard the close of their talk.

“I do believe you must be a member of the Peace Society!” said Freda
impatiently. “Or perhaps you have turned Quaker. But I want to introduce
you to my god-father, Mr. Fleming; you know it was his son whom your
brother saved.”

And I heard Derrick being introduced as the brother of the hero of
Saspataras Hill; and the next day he received a card for one of Mrs.
Fleming’s receptions, Lawrence having previously been invited to dine
there on the same night.

What happened at that party I never exactly understood. All I could
gather was that Lawrence had been tremendously feted, that Freda had
been present, and that poor old Derrick was as miserable as he could be
when I next saw him. Putting two and two together, I guessed that he had
been tantalised by a mere sight of her, possibly tortured by watching
more favoured men enjoying long tete-a-tetes; but he would say little or
nothing about it, and when, soon after, he and the Major left London, I
feared that the fortnight had done my friend harm instead of good.

Chapter VII.

     “Then in that hour rejoice, since only thus
      Can thy proud heart grow wholly piteous.
      Thus only to the world thy speech can flow
      Charged with the sad authority of woe.
      Since no man nurtured in the shade can sing
      To a true note one psalm of conquering;
      Warriors must chant it whom our own eyes see
      Red from the battle and more bruised than we,
      Men who have borne the worst, have known the whole,
      Have felt the last abeyance of the soul.”
                                      F. W. H. Myers.

About the beginning of August, I rejoined him at Ben Rhydding. The place
suited the Major admirably, and his various baths took up so great a
part of each day, that Derrick had more time to himself than usual, and
‘At Strife’ got on rapidly. He much enjoyed, too, the beautiful country
round, while the hotel itself, with its huge gathering of all sorts and
conditions of people, afforded him endless studies of character. The
Major breakfasted in his own room, and, being so much engrossed with his
baths, did not generally appear till twelve. Derrick and I breakfasted
in the great dining-hall; and one morning, when the meal was over,
we, as usual, strolled into the drawing-room to see if there were any
letters awaiting us.

“One for you,” I remarked, handing him a thick envelope.

“From Lawrence!” he exclaimed.

“Well, don’t read it in here; the Doctor will be coming to read prayers.
Come out in the garden,” I said.

We went out into the beautiful grounds, and he tore open the envelope
and began to read his letter as we walked. All at once I felt the
arm which was linked in mine give a quick, involuntary movement, and,
looking up, saw that Derrick had turned deadly pale.

“What’s up?” I said. But he read on without replying; and, when I paused
and sat down on a sheltered rustic seat, he unconsciously followed my
example, looking more like a sleep-walker than a man in the possession
of all his faculties. At last he finished the letter, and looked up in a
dazed, miserable way, letting his eyes wander over the fir-trees and the
fragrant shrubs and the flowers by the path.

“Dear old fellow, what is the matter?” I asked.

The words seemed to rouse him.

A dreadful look passed over his face--the look of one stricken to
the heart. But his voice was perfectly calm, and full of a ghastly

“Freda will be my sister-in-law,” he said, rather as if stating the fact
to himself than answering my question.

“Impossible!” I said. “What do you mean? How could--”

As if to silence me he thrust the letter into my hand. It ran as

“Dear Derrick,--For the last few days I have been down in the Flemings’
place in Derbyshire, and fortune has favoured me, for the Merrifields
are here too. Now prepare yourself for a surprise. Break the news to the
governor, and send me your heartiest congratulations by return of post.
I am engaged to Freda Merrifield, and am the happiest fellow in the
world. They are awfully fastidious sort of people, and I do not believe
Sir Richard would have consented to such a match had it not been for
that lucky impulse which made me rescue Dick Fleming. It has all been
arranged very quickly, as these things should be, but we have seen a
good deal of each other--first at Aldershot the year before last, and
just lately in town, and now these four days down here--and days in a
country house are equal to weeks elsewhere. I enclose a letter to my
father--give it to him at a suitable moment--but, after all, he’s sure
to approve of a daughter-in-law with such a dowry as Miss Merrifield is
likely to have.

“Yours affly.,

“Lawrence Vaughan.”

I gave him back the letter without a word. In dead silence we moved on,
took a turning which led to a little narrow gate, and passed out of the
grounds to the wild moorland country beyond.

After all, Freda was in no way to blame. As a mere girl she had allowed
Derrick to see that she cared for him; then circumstances had entirely
separated them; she saw more of the world, met Lawrence, was perhaps
first attracted to him by his very likeness to Derrick, and finally fell
in love with the hero of the season, whom every one delighted to honour.
Nor could one blame Lawrence, who had no notion that he had supplanted
his brother. All the blame lay with the Major’s slavery to drink, for
if only he had remained out in India I feel sure that matters would have
gone quite differently.

We tramped on over heather and ling and springy turf till we reached the
old ruin known as the Hunting Tower; then Derrick seemed to awake to the
recollection of present things. He looked at his watch.

“I must go back to my father,” he said, for the first time breaking the

“You shall do no such thing!” I cried. “Stay out here and I will see to
the Major, and give him the letter too if you like.”

He caught at the suggestion, and as he thanked me I think there were
tears in his eyes. So I took the letter and set off for Ben Rhydding,
leaving him to get what relief he could from solitude, space, and
absolute quiet. Once I just glanced back, and somehow the scene has
always lingered in my memory--the great stretch of desolate moor, the
dull crimson of the heather, the lowering grey clouds, the Hunting Tower
a patch of deeper gloom against the gloomy sky, and Derrick’s figure
prostrate, on the turf, the face hidden, the hands grasping at the
sprigs of heather growing near.

The Major was just ready to be helped into the garden when I reached
the hotel. We sat down in the very same place where Derrick had read
the news, and, when I judged it politic, I suddenly remembered with
apologies the letter that had been entrusted to me. The old man received
it with satisfaction, for he was fond of Lawrence and proud of him, and
the news of the engagement pleased him greatly. He was still discussing
it when, two hours later, Derrick returned.

“Here’s good news!” said the Major, glancing up as his son approached.
“Trust Lawrence to fall on his feet! He tells me the girl will have a
thousand a year. You know her, don’t you? What’s she like?”

“I have met her,” replied Derrick, with forced composure. “She is very

“Lawrence has all his wits about him,” growled the Major. “Whereas
you--” (several oaths interjected). “It will be a long while before any
girl with a dowry will look at you! What women like is a bold man of
action; what they despise, mere dabblers in pen and ink, writers
of poisonous sensational tales such as yours! I’m quoting your own
reviewers, so you needn’t contradict me!”

Of course no one had dreamt of contradicting; it would have been the
worst possible policy.

“Shall I help you in?” said Derrick. “It is just dinner time.”

And as I walked beside them to the hotel, listening to the Major’s
flood of irritating words, and glancing now and then at Derrick’s
grave, resolute face, which successfully masked such bitter suffering, I
couldn’t help reflecting that here was courage infinitely more deserving
of the Victoria Cross than Lawrence’s impulsive rescue. Very patiently
he sat through the long dinner. I doubt if any but an acute observer
could have told that he was in trouble; and, luckily, the world in
general observes hardly at all. He endured the Major till it was time
for him to take a Turkish bath, and then having two hours’ freedom,
climbed with me up the rock-covered hill at the back of the hotel. He
was very silent. But I remember that, as we watched the sun go down--a
glowing crimson ball, half veiled in grey mist--he said abruptly, “If
Lawrence makes her happy I can bear it. And of course I always knew that
I was not worthy of her.”

Derrick’s room was a large, gaunt, ghostly place in one of the towers
of the hotel, and in one corner of it was a winding stair leading to the
roof. When I went in next morning I found him writing away at his novel
just as usual, but when I looked at him it seemed to me that the night
had aged him fearfully. As a rule, he took interruptions as a matter
of course, and with perfect sweetness of temper; but to-day he seemed
unable to drag himself back to the outer world. He was writing at a
desperate pace too, and frowned when I spoke to him. I took up the sheet
of foolscap which he had just finished and glanced at the number of the
page--evidently he had written an immense quantity since the previous

“You will knock yourself up if you go on at this rate!” I exclaimed.

“Nonsense!” he said sharply. “You know it never tires me.”

Yet, all the same, he passed his hand very wearily over his forehead,
and stretched himself with the air of one who had been in a cramping
position for many hours.

“You have broken your vow!” I cried. “You have been writing at night.”

“No,” he said; “it was morning when I began--three o’clock. And it pays
better to get up and write than to lie awake thinking.”

Judging by the speed with which the novel grew in the next few weeks, I
could tell that Derrick’s nights were of the worst.

He began, too, to look very thin and haggard, and I more than once
noticed that curious ‘sleep-walking’ expression in his eyes; he seemed
to me just like a man who has received his death-blow, yet still
lingers--half alive, half dead. I had an odd feeling that it was his
novel which kept him going, and I began to wonder what would happen when
it was finished.

A month later, when I met him again at Bath, he had written the last
chapter of ‘At Strife,’ and we read it over the sitting-room fire on
Saturday evening. I was very much struck with the book; it seemed to
me a great advance on ‘Lynwood’s Heritage,’ and the part which he had
written since that day at Ben Rhydding was full of an indescribable
power, as if the life of which he had been robbed had flowed into his
work. When he had done, he tied up the MS. in his usual prosaic fashion,
just as if it had been a bundle of clothes, and put it on a side table.

It was arranged that I should take it to Davison--the publisher of
‘Lynwood’s Heritage’--on Monday, and see what offer he would make for
it. Just at that time I felt so sorry for Derrick that if he had asked
me to hawk round fifty novels I would have done it.

Sunday morning proved wet and dismal; as a rule the Major, who was fond
of music, attended service at the Abbey, but the weather forced him now
to stay at home. I myself was at that time no church-goer, but Derrick
would, I verily believe, as soon have fasted a week as have given up
a Sunday morning service; and having no mind to be left to the Major’s
company, and a sort of wish to be near my friend, I went with him. I
believe it is not correct to admire Bath Abbey, but for all that ‘the
lantern of the west’ has always seemed to me a grand place; as for
Derrick, he had a horror of a ‘dim religious light,’ and always stuck
up for his huge windows, and I believe he loved the Abbey with all his
heart. Indeed, taking it only from a sensuous point of view, I could
quite imagine what a relief he found his weekly attendance here; by
contrast with his home the place was Heaven itself.

As we walked back, I asked a question that had long been in my mind:
“Have you seen anything of Lawrence?”

“He saw us across London on our way from Ben Rhydding,” said Derrick,
steadily. “Freda came with him, and my father was delighted with her.”

I wondered how they had got through the meeting, but of course my
curiosity had to go unsatisfied. Of one thing I might be certain,
namely, that Derrick had gone through with it like a Trojan, that he
had smiled and congratulated in his quiet way, and had done the best to
efface himself and think only of Freda. But as everyone knows:

     “Face joy’s a costly mask to wear,
      ‘Tis bought with pangs long nourished
      And rounded to despair;”

and he looked now even more worn and old than he had done at Ben
Rhydding in the first days of his trouble.

However, he turned resolutely away from the subject I had introduced and
began to discuss titles for his novel.

“It’s impossible to find anything new,” he said, “absolutely impossible.
I declare I shall take to numbers.”

I laughed at this prosaic notion, and we were still discussing the title
when we reached home.

“Don’t say anything about it at lunch,” he said as we entered. “My
father detests my writing.”

I nodded assent and opened the sitting-room door--a strong smell of
brandy instantly became apparent; the Major sat in the green velvet
chair, which had been wheeled close to the hearth. He was drunk.

Derrick gave an ejaculation of utter hopelessness.

“This will undo all the good of Ben Rhydding!” he said. “How on earth
has he managed to get it?”

The Major, however, was not so far gone as he looked; he caught up the
remark and turned towards us with a hideous laugh.

“Ah, yes,” he said, “that’s the question. But the old man has still some
brains, you see. I’ll be even with you yet, Derrick. You needn’t think
you’re to have it all your own way. It’s my turn now. You’ve deprived me
all this time of the only thing I care for in life, and now I turn the
tables on you. Tit for tat. Oh! yes, I’ve turned your d----d scribblings
to a useful purpose, so you needn’t complain!”

All this had been shouted out at the top of his voice and freely
interlarded with expressions which I will not repeat; at the end he
broke again into a laugh, and with a look, half idiotic, half devilish,
pointed towards the grate.

“Good Heavens!” I said, “what have you done?”

By the side of the chair I saw a piece of brown paper, and, catching
it up, read the address--“Messrs. Davison, Paternoster Row”; in the
fireplace was a huge charred mass. Derrick caught his breath; he stooped
down and snatched from the fender a fragment of paper slightly burned,
but still not charred beyond recognition like the rest. The writing was
quite legible--it was his own writing--the description of the Royalists’
attack and Paul Wharncliffe’s defence of the bridge. I looked from the
half-burnt scrap of paper to the side table where, only the previous
night, we had placed the novel, and then, realising as far as any but an
author could realise the frightful thing that had happened, I looked in
Derrick’s face. Its white fury appalled me. What he had borne hitherto
from the Major, God only knows, but this was the last drop in the cup.
Daily insults, ceaseless provocation, even the humiliations of personal
violence he had borne with superhuman patience; but this last injury,
this wantonly cruel outrage, this deliberate destruction of an amount of
thought, and labour, and suffering which only the writer himself could
fully estimate--this was intolerable.

What might have happened had the Major been sober and in the possession
of ordinary physical strength I hardly care to think. As it was, his
weakness protected him. Derrick’s wrath was speechless; with one look
of loathing and contempt at the drunken man, he strode out of the room,
caught up his hat, and hurried from the house.

The Major sat chuckling to himself for a minute or two, but soon he grew
drowsy, and before long was snoring like a grampus. The old landlady
brought in lunch, saw the state of things pretty quickly, shook her head
and commiserated Derrick. Then, when she had left the room, seeing no
prospect that either of my companions would be in a fit state for lunch,
I made a solitary meal, and had just finished when a cab stopped at the
door and out sprang Derrick. I went into the passage to meet him.

“The Major is asleep,” I remarked.

He took no more notice than if I had spoken of the cat.

“I’m going to London,” he said, making for the stairs. “Can you get your
bag ready? There’s a train at 2.5.”

Somehow the suddenness and the self-control with which he made this
announcement carried me back to the hotel at Southampton, where, after
listening to the account of the ship’s doctor, he had announced his
intention of living with his father. For more than two years he had
borne this awful life; he had lost pretty nearly all that there was
to be lost and he had gained the Major’s vindictive hatred. Now, half
maddened by pain, and having, as he thought, so hopelessly failed, he
saw nothing for it but to go--and that at once.

I packed my bag, and then went to help him. He was cramming all his
possessions into portmanteaux and boxes; the Hoffman was already packed,
and the wall looked curiously bare without it. Clearly this was no visit
to London--he was leaving Bath for good, and who could wonder at it?

“I have arranged for the attendant from the hospital to come in at night
as well as in the morning,” he said, as he locked a portmanteau that was
stuffed almost to bursting. “What’s the time? We must make haste or we
shall lose the train. Do, like a good fellow, cram that heap of things
into the carpet-bag while I speak to the landlady.”

At last we were off, rattling through the quiet streets of Bath, and
reaching the station barely in time to rush up the long flight of stairs
and spring into an empty carriage. Never shall I forget that journey.
The train stopped at every single station, and sometimes in between; we
were five mortal hours on the road, and more than once I thought Derrick
would have fainted. However, he was not of the fainting order, he only
grew more and more ghastly in colour and rigid in expression.

I felt very anxious about him, for the shock and the sudden anger
following on the trouble about Freda seemed to me enough to unhinge even
a less sensitive nature. ‘At Strife’ was the novel which had, I firmly
believe, kept him alive through that awful time at Ben Rhydding, and
I began to fear that the Major’s fit of drunken malice might prove the
destruction of the author as well as of the book. Everything had, as it
were, come at once on poor Derrick; yet I don’t know that he fared worse
than other people in this respect.

Life, unfortunately, is for most of us no well-arranged story with a
happy termination; it is a chequered affair of shade and sun, and for
one beam of light there come very often wide patches of shadow. Men
seem to have known this so far back as Shakespeare’s time, and to have
observed that one woe trod on another’s heels, to have battled not with
a single wave, but with a ‘sea of troubles,’ and to have remarked that
‘sorrows come not singly, but in battalions.’

However, owing I believe chiefly to his own self-command, and to his
untiring faculty for taking infinite pains over his work, Derrick did
not break down, but pleasantly cheated my expectations. I was not called
on to nurse him through a fever, and consumption did not mark him
for her own. In fact, in the matter of illness, he was always a most
prosaic, unromantic fellow, and never indulged in any of the euphonious
and interesting ailments. In all his life, I believe, he never went
in for anything but the mumps--of all complaints the least
interesting--and, may be, an occasional headache.

However, all this is a digression. We at length reached London,
and Derrick took a room above mine, now and then disturbing me with
nocturnal pacings over the creaking boards, but, on the whole, proving
himself the best of companions.

If I wrote till Doomsday, I could never make you understand how the
burning of his novel affected him--to this day it is a subject I
instinctively avoid with him--though the re-written ‘At Strife’ has been
such a grand success. For he did re-write the story, and that at once.
He said little; but the very next morning, in one of the windows of
our quiet sitting-room, often enough looking despairingly at the grey
monotony of Montague Street, he began at ‘Page I, Chapter I,’ and so
worked patiently on for many months to re-make as far as he could
what his drunken father had maliciously destroyed. Beyond the unburnt
paragraph about the attack on Mondisfield, he had nothing except a
few hastily scribbled ideas in his note-book, and of course the very
elaborate and careful historical notes which he had made on the Civil
War during many years of reading and research--for this period had
always been a favourite study with him.

But, as any author will understand, the effort of re-writing was
immense, and this, combined with all the other troubles, tried Derrick
to the utmost. However, he toiled on, and I have always thought that his
resolute, unyielding conduct with regard to that book proved what a man
he was.

Chapter VIII.

     “How oft Fate’s sharpest blow shall leave thee strong,
      With some re-risen ecstacy of song.”
                                          F. W. H. Myers.

As the autumn wore on, we heard now and then from old Mackrill the
doctor. His reports of the Major were pretty uniform. Derrick used to
hand them over to me when he had read them; but, by tacit consent, the
Major’s name was never mentioned.

Meantime, besides re-writing ‘At Strife,’ he was accumulating material
for his next book and working to very good purpose. Not a minute of his
day was idle; he read much, saw various phases of life hitherto unknown
to him, studied, observed, gained experience, and contrived, I believe,
to think very little and very guardedly of Freda.

But, on Christmas Eve, I noticed a change in him--and that very night
he spoke to me. For such an impressionable fellow, he had really
extraordinary tenacity, and, spite of the course of Herbert Spencer that
I had put him through, he retained his unshaken faith in many things
which to me were at that time the merest legends. I remember very well
the arguments we used to have on the vexed question of ‘Free-will,’
and being myself more or less of a fatalist, it annoyed me that I never
could in the very slightest degree shake his convictions on that point.
Moreover, when I plagued him too much with Herbert Spencer, he had a way
of retaliating, and would foist upon me his favourite authors. He was
never a worshipper of any one writer, but always had at least a dozen
prophets in whose praise he was enthusiastic.

Well, on this Christmas Eve, we had been to see dear old Ravenscroft and
his grand-daughter, and we were walking back through the quiet precincts
of the Temple, when he said abruptly:

“I have decided to go back to Bath to-morrow.”

“Have you had a worse account?” I asked, much startled at this sudden

“No,” he replied, “but the one I had a week ago was far from good if you
remember, and I have a feeling that I ought to be there.”

At that moment we emerged into the confusion of Fleet Street; but when
we had crossed the road I began to remonstrate with him, and argued the
folly of the idea all the way down Chancery Lane.

However, there was no shaking his purpose; Christmas and its
associations had made his life in town no longer possible for him.

“I must at any rate try it again and see how it works,” he said.

And all I could do was to persuade him to leave the bulk of his
possessions in London, “in case,” as he remarked, “the Major would not
have him.”

So the next day I was left to myself again with nothing to remind me
of Derrick’s stay but his pictures which still hung on the wall of our
sitting-room. I made him promise to write a full, true, and particular
account of his return, a bona-fide old-fashioned letter, not the
half-dozen lines of these degenerate days; and about a week later I
received the following budget:

“Dear Sydney,--I got down to Bath all right, and, thanks to your ‘Study
of Sociology,’ endured a slow, and cold, and dull, and depressing
journey with the thermometer down to zero, and spirits to correspond,
with the country a monotonous white, and the sky a monotonous grey,
and a companion who smoked the vilest tobacco you can conceive. The old
place looks as beautiful as ever, and to my great satisfaction the hills
round about are green. Snow, save in pictures, is an abomination.
Milsom Street looked asleep, and Gay Street decidedly dreary, but the
inhabitants were roused by my knock, and the old landlady nearly shook
my hand off. My father has an attack of jaundice and is in a miserable
state. He was asleep when I got here, and the good old landlady,
thinking the front sitting-room would be free, had invited ‘company,’
i.e., two or three married daughters and their belongings; one of the
children beats Magnay’s ‘Carina’ as to beauty--he ought to paint her.
Happy thought, send him and pretty Mrs. Esperance down here on spec. He
can paint the child for the next Academy, and meantime I could enjoy his
company. Well, all these good folks being just set-to at roast beef, I
naturally wouldn’t hear of disturbing them, and in the end was obliged
to sit down too and eat at that hour of the day the hugest dinner
you ever saw--anything but voracious appetites offended the hostess.
Magnay’s future model, for all its angelic face, ‘ate to repletion,’
like the fair American in the story. Then I went into my father’s
room, and shortly after he woke up and asked me to give him some
Friedrichshall water, making no comment at all on my return, but just
behaving as though I had been here all the autumn, so that I felt as if
the whole affair were a dream. Except for this attack of jaundice, he
has been much as usual, and when you next come down you will find
us settled into our old groove. The quiet of it after London is
extraordinary. But I believe it suits the book, which gets on pretty
fast. This afternoon I went up Lansdowne and right on past the
Grand Stand to Prospect Stile, which is at the edge of a high bit
of tableland, and looks over a splendid stretch of country, with the
Bristol Channel and the Welsh hills in the distance. While I was there
the sun most considerately set in gorgeous array. You never saw anything
like it. It was worth the journey from London to Bath, I can assure
you. Tell Magnay, and may it lure him down; also name the model

“How is the old Q.C. and his pretty grandchild? That quaint old room of
theirs in the Temple somehow took my fancy, and the child was divine. Do
you remember my showing you, in a gloomy narrow street here, a jolly old
watchmaker who sits in his shop-window and is for ever bending over sick
clocks and watches? Well, he’s still sitting there, as if he had never
moved since we saw him that Saturday months ago. I mean to study him for
a portrait; his sallow, clean-shaved, wrinkled face has a whole story
in it. I believe he is married to a Xantippe who throws cold water over
him, both literally and metaphorically; but he is a philosopher--I’ll
stake my reputation as an observer on that--he just shrugs his sturdy
old shoulders, and goes on mending clocks and watches. On dark days he
works by a gas jet--and then Rembrandt would enjoy painting him. I
look at him whenever my world is particularly awry, and find him highly
beneficial. Davison has forwarded me to-day two letters from readers of
‘Lynwood.’ The first is from an irate female who takes me to task for
the dangerous tendency of the story, and insists that I have drawn
impossible circumstances and impossible characters. The second is from
an old clergyman, who writes a pathetic letter of thanks, and tells me
that it is almost word for word the story of a son of his who died five
years ago. Query: shall I send the irate female the old man’s letter,
and save myself the trouble of writing? But on the whole I think not;
it would be pearls before swine. I will write to her myself. Glad to see
you whenever you can run down.

“Yours ever,

“D. V.”

(“Never struck me before what pious initials mine are.”)

The very evening I received this letter I happened to be dining at the
Probyn’s. As luck would have it, pretty Miss Freda was staying in the
house, and she fell to my share. I always liked her, though of late I
had felt rather angry with her for being carried away by the general
storm of admiration and swept by it into an engagement with Lawrence
Vaughan. She was a very pleasant, natural sort of talker, and she always
treated me as an old friend. But she seemed to me, that night, a little
less satisfied than usual with life. Perhaps it was merely the effect
of the black lace dress which she wore, but I fancied her paler and
thinner, and somehow she seemed all eyes.

“Where is Lawrence now?” I asked, as we went down to the dining-room.

“He is stationed at Dover,” she replied. “He was up here for a few hours
yesterday; he came to say good-bye to me, for I am going to Bath next
Monday with my father, who has been very rheumatic lately--and you know
Bath is coming into fashion again, all the doctors recommend it.”

“Major Vaughan is there,” I said, “and has found the waters very good, I
believe; any day, at twelve o’clock, you may see him getting out of his
chair and going into the Pump Room on Derrick’s arm. I often wonder
what outsiders think of them. It isn’t often, is it, that one sees a son
absolutely giving up his life to his invalid father?”

She looked a little startled.

“I wish Lawrence could be more with Major Vaughan,” she said; “for he
is his father’s favourite. You see he is such a good talker, and
Derrick--well, he is absorbed in his books; and then he has such
extravagant notions about war, he must be a very uncongenial companion
to the poor Major.”

I devoured turbot in wrathful silence. Freda glanced at me.

“It is true, isn’t it, that he has quite given up his life to writing,
and cares for nothing else?”

“Well, he has deliberately sacrificed his best chance of success by
leaving London and burying himself in the provinces,” I replied drily;
“and as to caring for nothing but writing, why he never gets more than
two or three hours a day for it.” And then I gave her a minute account
of his daily routine.

She began to look troubled.

“I have been misled,” she said; “I had gained quite a wrong impression
of him.”

“Very few people know anything at all about him,” I said warmly; “you
are not alone in that.”

“I suppose his next novel is finished now?” said Freda; “he told me he
had only one or two more chapters to write when I saw him a few months
ago on his way from Ben Rhydding. What is he writing now?”

“He is writing that novel over again,” I replied.

“Over again? What fearful waste of time!”

“Yes, it has cost him hundreds of hours’ work; it just shows what a man
he is, that he has gone through with it so bravely.”

“But how do you mean? Didn’t it do?”

Rashly, perhaps, yet I think unavoidably, I told her the truth.

“It was the best thing he had ever written, but unfortunately it was
destroyed, burnt to a cinder. That was not very pleasant, was it, for a
man who never makes two copies of his work?”

“It was frightful!” said Freda, her eyes dilating. “I never heard a word
about it. Does Lawrence know?”

“No, he does not; and perhaps I ought not to have told you, but I was
annoyed at your so misunderstanding Derrick. Pray never mention the
affair; he would wish it kept perfectly quiet.”

“Why?” asked Freda, turning her clear eyes full upon mine.

“Because,” I said, lowering my voice, “because his father burnt it.”

She almost gasped.


“Yes, deliberately,” I replied. “His illness has affected his temper,
and he is sometimes hardly responsible for his actions.”

“Oh, I knew that he was irritable and hasty, and that Derrick annoyed
him. Lawrence told me that, long ago,” said Freda. “But that he should
have done such a thing as that! It is horrible! Poor Derrick, how sorry
I am for him. I hope we shall see something of them at Bath. Do you know
how the Major is?”

“I had a letter about him from Derrick only this evening,” I replied;
“if you care to see it, I will show it you later on.”

And by-and-by, in the drawing-room, I put Derrick’s letter into her
hands, and explained to her how for a few months he had given up his
life at Bath, in despair, but now had returned.

“I don’t think Lawrence can understand the state of things,” she said
wistfully. “And yet he has been down there.”

I made no reply, and Freda, with a sigh, turned away.

A month later I went down to Bath and found, as my friend foretold,
everything going on in the old groove, except that Derrick himself had
an odd, strained look about him, as if he were fighting a foe beyond
his strength. Freda’s arrival at Bath had been very hard on him, it
was almost more than he could endure. Sir Richard, blind as a bat, of
course, to anything below the surface, made a point of seeing something
of Lawrence’s brother. And on the day of my arrival Derrick and I had
hardly set out for a walk, when we ran across the old man.

Sir Richard, though rheumatic in the wrists, was nimble of foot and an
inveterate walker. He was going with his daughter to see over Beckford’s
Tower, and invited us to accompany him. Derrick, much against the grain,
I fancy, had to talk to Freda, who, in her winter furs and close-fitting
velvet hat, looked more fascinating than ever, while the old man
descanted to me on Bath waters, antiquities, etc., in a long-winded
way that lasted all up the hill. We made our way into the cemetery and
mounted the tower stairs, thinking of the past when this dreary place
had been so gorgeously furnished. Here Derrick contrived to get ahead
with Sir Richard, and Freda lingered in a sort of alcove with me.

“I have been so wanting to see you,” she said, in an agitated voice.
“Oh, Mr. Wharncliffe, is it true what I have heard about the Major? Does
he drink?”

“Who told you?” I said, a little embarrassed.

“It was our landlady,” said Freda; “she is the daughter of the Major’s
landlady. And you should hear what she says of Derrick! Why, he must
be a downright hero! All the time I have been half despising him”--she
choked back a sob--“he has been trying to save his father from what was
certain death to him--so they told me. Do you think it is true?”

“I know it is,” I replied gravely.

“And about his arm--was that true?”

I signed an assent.

Her grey eyes grew moist.

“Oh,” she cried, “how I have been deceived and how little Lawrence
appreciates him! I think he must know that I’ve misjudged him, for he
seems so odd and shy, and I don’t think he likes to talk to me.”

I looked searchingly into her truthful grey eyes, thinking of poor
Derrick’s unlucky love-story.

“You do not understand him,” I said; “and perhaps it is best so.”

But the words and the look were rash, for all at once the colour flooded
her face. She turned quickly away, conscious at last that the midsummer
dream of those yachting days had to Derrick been no dream at all, but a
life-long reality.

I felt very sorry for Freda, for she was not at all the sort of girl who
would glory in having a fellow hopelessly in love with her. I knew that
the discovery she had made would be nothing but a sorrow to her, and
could guess how she would reproach herself for that innocent past fancy,
which, till now, had seemed to her so faint and far-away--almost as
something belonging to another life. All at once we heard the others
descending, and she turned to me with such a frightened, appealing look,
that I could not possibly have helped going to the rescue. I plunged
abruptly into a discourse on Beckford, and told her how he used to keep
diamonds in a tea-cup, and amused himself by arranging them on a piece
of velvet. Sir Richard fled from the sound of my prosy voice, and,
needless to say, Derrick followed him. We let them get well in advance
and then followed, Freda silent and distraite, but every now and then
asking a question about the Major.

As for Derrick, evidently he was on guard. He saw a good deal of the
Merrifields and was sedulously attentive to them in many small ways;
but with Freda he was curiously reserved, and if by chance they did
talk together, he took good care to bring Lawrence’s name into the
conversation. On the whole, I believe loyalty was his strongest
characteristic, and want of loyalty in others tried him more severely
than anything in the world.

As the spring wore on, it became evident to everyone that the Major
could not last long. His son’s watchfulness and the enforced temperance
which the doctors insisted on had prolonged his life to a certain
extent, but gradually his sufferings increased and his strength
diminished. At last he kept his bed altogether.

What Derrick bore at this time no one can ever know. When, one bright
sunshiny Saturday, I went down to see how he was getting on, I found him
worn and haggard, too evidently paying the penalty of sleepless nights
and thankless care. I was a little shocked to hear that Lawrence had
been summoned, but when I was taken into the sick room I realised that
they had done wisely to send for the favourite son.

The Major was evidently dying.

Never can I forget the cruelty and malevolence with which his bloodshot
eyes rested on Derrick, or the patience with which the dear old fellow
bore his father’s scathing sarcasms. It was while I was sitting by
the bed that the landlady entered with a telegram, which she put into
Derrick’s hand.

“From Lawrence!” said the dying man triumphantly, “to say by what train
we may expect him. Well?” as Derrick still read the message to himself,
“can’t you speak, you d--d idiot? Have you lost your d--d tongue? What
does he say?”

“I am afraid he cannot be here just yet,” said Derrick, trying to tone
down the curt message; “it seems he cannot get leave.”

“Not get leave to see his dying father? What confounded nonsense. Give
me the thing here;” and he snatched the telegram from Derrick and read
it in a quavering, hoarse voice:

“Impossible to get away. Am hopelessly tied here. Love to my father.
Greatly regret to hear such bad news of him.”

I think that message made the old man realise the worth of Lawrence’s
often expressed affection for him. Clearly it was a great blow to him.
He threw down the paper without a word and closed his eyes. For half an
hour he lay like that, and we did not disturb him. At last he looked up;
his voice was fainter and his manner more gentle.

“Derrick,” he said, “I believe I’ve done you an injustice; it is you
who cared for me, not Lawrence, and I’ve struck your name out of my
will--have left all to him. After all, though you are one of those
confounded novelists, you’ve done what you could for me. Let some one
fetch a solicitor--I’ll alter it--I’ll alter it!”

I instantly hurried out to fetch a lawyer, but it was Saturday
afternoon, the offices were closed, and some time passed before I had
caught my man. I told him as we hastened back some of the facts of the
case, and he brought his writing materials into the sick room and took
down from the Major’s own lips the words which would have the effect of
dividing the old man’s possessions between his two sons. Dr. Mackrill
was now present; he stood on one side of the bed, his fingers on the
dying man’s pulse. On the other side stood Derrick, a degree paler and
graver than usual, but revealing little of his real feelings.

“Word it as briefly as you can,” said the doctor.

And the lawyer scribbled away as though for his life, while the rest
of us waited in a wretched hushed state of tension. In the room itself
there was no sound save the scratching of the pen and the laboured
breathing of the old man; but in the next house we could hear someone
playing a waltz. Somehow it did not seem to me incongruous, for it was
‘Sweethearts,’ and that had been the favourite waltz of Ben Rhydding,
so that I always connected it with Derrick and his trouble, and now the
words rang in my ears:

     “Oh, love for a year, a week, a day,
      But alas! for the love that loves alway.”

If it had not been for the Major’s return from India, I firmly believed
that Derrick and Freda would by this time have been betrothed. Derrick
had taken a line which necessarily divided them, had done what he saw to
be his duty; yet what were the results? He had lost Freda, he had lost
his book, he had damaged his chance of success as a writer, he had been
struck out of his father’s will, and he had suffered unspeakably. Had
anything whatever been gained? The Major was dying unrepentant to all
appearance, as hard and cynical an old worldling as I ever saw. The only
spark of grace he showed was that tardy endeavour to make a fresh will.
What good had it all been? What good?

I could not answer the question then, could only cry out in a sort of
indignation, “What profit is there in his blood?” But looking at it
now, I have a sort of perception that the very lack of apparent
profitableness was part of Derrick’s training, while if, as I now
incline to think, there is a hereafter where the training begun here is
continued, the old Major in the hell he most richly deserved would have
the remembrance of his son’s patience and constancy and devotion to
serve as a guiding light in the outer darkness.

The lawyer no longer wrote at railroad speed; he pushed back his chair,
brought the will to the bed, and placed the pen in the trembling yellow
hand of the invalid.

“You must sign your name here,” he said, pointing with his finger; and
the Major raised himself a little, and brought the pen quaveringly
down towards the paper. With a sort of fascination I watched the
finely-pointed steel nib; it trembled for an instant or two, then the
pen dropped from the convulsed fingers, and with a cry of intolerable
anguish the Major fell back.

For some minutes there was a painful struggle; presently we caught a
word or two between the groans of the dying man.

“Too late!” he gasped, “too late!” And then a dreadful vision of horrors
seemed to rise before him, and with a terror that I can never forget
he turned to his son and clutched fast hold of his hands: “Derrick!” he

Derrick could not speak, but he bent low over the bed as though to
screen the dying eyes from those horrible visions, and with an odd sort
of thrill I saw him embrace his father.

When he raised his head the terror had died out of the Major’s face; all
was over.

Chapter IX.

     “To duty firm, to conscience true,
        However tried and pressed,
      In God’s clear sight high work we do,
        If we but do out best.”

Lawrence came down to the funeral, and I took good care that he should
hear all about his father’s last hours, and I made the solicitor show
him the unsigned will. He made hardly any comment on it till we three
were alone together. Then with a sort of kindly patronage he turned to
his brother--Derrick, it must be remembered, was the elder twin--and
said pityingly, “Poor old fellow! it was rather rough on you that the
governor couldn’t sign this; but never mind, you’ll soon, no doubt, be
earning a fortune by your books; and besides, what does a bachelor want
with more than you’ve already inherited from our mother? Whereas, an
officer just going to be married, and with this confounded reputation of
hero to keep up, why, I can tell you it needs every penny of it!”

Derrick looked at his brother searchingly. I honestly believe that he
didn’t very much care about the money, but it cut him to the heart that
Lawrence should treat him so shabbily. The soul of generosity himself,
he could not understand how anyone could frame a speech so infernally

“Of course,” I broke in, “if Derrick liked to go to law he could no
doubt get his rights, there are three witnesses who can prove what was
the Major’s real wish.”

“I shall not go to law,” said Derrick, with a dignity of which I had
hardly imagined him capable. “You spoke of your marriage, Lawrence; is
it to be soon?”

“This autumn, I hope,” said Lawrence; “at least, if I can overcome Sir
Richard’s ridiculous notion that a girl ought not to marry till she’s
twenty-one. He’s a most crotchety old fellow, that future father-in-law
of mine.”

When Lawrence had first come back from the war I had thought him
wonderfully improved, but a long course of spoiling and flattery had
done him a world of harm. He liked very much to be lionised, and to see
him now posing in drawing-rooms, surrounded by a worshipping throng of
women, was enough to sicken any sensible being.

As for Derrick, though he could not be expected to feel his bereavement
in the ordinary way, yet his father’s death had been a great shock to
him. It was arranged that after settling various matters in Bath
he should go down to stay with his sister for a time, joining me in
Montague Street later on. While he was away in Birmingham, however, an
extraordinary change came into my humdrum life, and when he rejoined me
a few weeks later, I--selfish brute--was so overwhelmed with the trouble
that had befallen me that I thought very little indeed of his affairs.
He took this quite as a matter of course, and what I should have done
without him I can’t conceive. However, this story concerns him and has
nothing to do with my extraordinary dilemma; I merely mention it as a
fact which brought additional cares into his life. All the time he was
doing what could be done to help me he was also going through a most
baffling and miserable time among the publishers; for ‘At Strife,’
unlike its predecessor, was rejected by Davison and by five other
houses. Think of this, you comfortable readers, as you lie back in your
easy chairs and leisurely turn the pages of that popular story. The book
which represented years of study and long hours of hard work was first
burnt to a cinder. It was re-written with what infinite pains and toil
few can understand. It was then six times tied up and carried with
anxiety and hope to a publisher’s office, only to re-appear six times in
Montague Street, an unwelcome visitor, bringing with it depression and

Derrick said little, but suffered much. However, nothing daunted him.
When it came back from the sixth publisher he took it to a seventh, then
returned and wrote away like a Trojan at his third book. The one thing
that never failed him was that curious consciousness that he HAD to
write; like the prophets of old, the ‘burden’ came to him, and speak it
he must.

The seventh publisher wrote a somewhat dubious letter: the book, he
thought, had great merit, but unluckily people were prejudiced, and
historical novels rarely met with success. However, he was willing to
take the story, and offered half profits, candidly admitting that he
had no great hopes of a large sale. Derrick instantly closed with this
offer, proofs came in, the book appeared, was well received like its
predecessor, fell into the hands of one of the leaders of Society, and,
to the intense surprise of the publisher, proved to be the novel of
the year. Speedily a second edition was called for; then, after a brief
interval, a third edition--this time a rational one-volume affair; and
the whole lot--6,000 I believe--went off on the day of publication.
Derrick was amazed; but he enjoyed his success very heartily, and I
think no one could say that he had leapt into fame at a bound.

Having devoured ‘At Strife,’ people began to discover the merits of
‘Lynwood’s Heritage;’ the libraries were besieged for it, and a cheap
edition was hastily published, and another and another, till the book,
which at first had been such a dead failure, rivalled ‘At Strife.’ Truly
an author’s career is a curious thing; and precisely why the first book
failed, and the second succeeded, no one could explain.

It amused me very much to see Derrick turned into a lion--he was so
essentially un-lion-like. People were for ever asking him how he
worked, and I remember a very pretty girl setting upon him once at a
dinner-party with the embarrassing request:

“Now, do tell me, Mr. Vaughan, how do you write stories? I wish you
would give me a good receipt for a novel.”

Derrick hesitated uneasily for a minute; finally, with a humorous smile,
he said:

“Well, I can’t exactly tell you, because, more or less, novels grow;
but if you want a receipt, you might perhaps try after this
fashion:--Conceive your hero, add a sprinkling of friends and relatives,
flavour with whatever scenery or local colour you please, carefully
consider what circumstances are most likely to develop your man into the
best he is capable of, allow the whole to simmer in your brain as long
as you can, and then serve, while hot, with ink upon white or blue
foolscap, according to taste.”

The young lady applauded the receipt, but she sighed a little, and
probably relinquished all hope of concocting a novel herself; on the
whole, it seemed to involve incessant taking of trouble.

About this time I remember, too, another little scene, which I enjoyed
amazingly. I laugh now when I think of it. I happened to be at a huge
evening crush, and rather to my surprise, came across Lawrence Vaughan.
We were talking together, when up came Connington of the Foreign Office.
“I say, Vaughan,” he said, “Lord Remington wishes to be introduced
to you.” I watched the old statesman a little curiously as he greeted
Lawrence, and listened to his first words: “Very glad to make your
acquaintance, Captain Vaughan; I understand that the author of that
grand novel, ‘At Strife,’ is a brother of yours.” And poor Lawrence
spent a mauvais quart d’heure, inwardly fuming, I know, at the idea that
he, the hero of Saspataras Hill, should be considered merely as ‘the
brother of Vaughan, the novelist.’

Fate, or perhaps I should say the effect of his own pernicious actions,
did not deal kindly just now with Lawrence. Somehow Freda learnt about
that will, and, being no bread-and-butter miss, content meekly to adore
her fiance and deem him faultless, she ‘up and spake’ on the subject,
and I fancy poor Lawrence must have had another mauvais quart d’heure.
It was not this, however, which led to a final breach between them; it
was something which Sir Richard discovered with regard to Lawrence’s
life at Dover. The engagement was instantly broken off, and Freda, I am
sure, felt nothing but relief. She went abroad for some time, however,
and we did not see her till long after Lawrence had been comfortably
married to 1,500 pounds a year and a middle-aged widow, who had long
been a hero-worshipper, and who, I am told, never allowed any visitor to
leave the house without making some allusion to the memorable battle of
Saspataras Hill and her Lawrence’s gallant action.

For the two years following after the Major’s death, Derrick and I, as I
mentioned before, shared the rooms in Montague Street. For me, owing to
the trouble I spoke of, they were years of maddening suspense and
pain; but what pleasure I did manage to enjoy came entirely through the
success of my friend’s books and from his companionship. It was odd that
from the care of his father he should immediately pass on to the care of
one who had made such a disastrous mistake as I had made. But I feel the
less compunction at the thought of the amount of sympathy I called
for at that time, because I notice that the giving of sympathy is a
necessity for Derrick, and that when the troubles of other folk do not
immediately thrust themselves into his life he carefully hunts them
up. During these two years he was reading for the Bar--not that he ever
expected to do very much as a barrister, but he thought it well to have
something to fall back on, and declared that the drudgery of the reading
would do him good. He was also writing as usual, and he used to spend
two evenings a week at Whitechapel, where he taught one of the classes
in connection with Toynbee Hall, and where he gained that knowledge
of East-end life which is conspicuous in his third book--‘Dick Carew.’
This, with an ever increasing and often very burdensome correspondence,
brought to him by his books, and with a fair share of dinners, ‘At
Homes,’ and so forth, made his life a full one. In a quiet sort of way I
believe he was happy during this time. But later on, when, my trouble
at an end, I had migrated to a house of my own, and he was left alone in
the Montague Street rooms, his spirits somehow flagged.

Fame is, after all, a hollow, unsatisfying thing to a man of his nature.
He heartily enjoyed his success, he delighted in hearing that his books
had given pleasure or had been of use to anyone, but no public victory
could in the least make up to him for the loss he had suffered in his
private life; indeed, I almost think there were times when his triumphs
as an author seemed to him utterly worthless--days of depression when
the congratulations of his friends were nothing but a mockery. He had
gained a striking success, it is true, but he had lost Freda; he was in
the position of the starving man who has received a gift of bon-bons,
but so craves for bread that they half sicken him. I used now and
then to watch his face when, as often happened, someone said: “What
an enviable fellow you are, Vaughan, to get on like this!” or, “What
wouldn’t I give to change places with you!” He would invariably smile
and turn the conversation; but there was a look in his eyes at such
times that I hated to see--it always made me think of Mrs. Browning’s
poem, ‘The Mask’:

     “Behind no prison-grate, she said,
        Which slurs the sunshine half a mile,
      Live captives so uncomforted
        As souls behind a smile.”

As to the Merrifields, there was no chance of seeing them, for Sir
Richard had gone to India in some official capacity, and no doubt,
as everyone said, they would take good care to marry Freda out there.
Derrick had not seen her since that trying February at Bath, long ago.
Yet I fancy she was never out of his thoughts.

And so the years rolled on, and Derrick worked away steadily, giving
his books to the world, accepting the comforts and discomforts of
an author’s life, laughing at the outrageous reports that were in
circulation about him, yet occasionally, I think, inwardly wincing at
them, and learning from the number of begging letters which he received,
and into which he usually caused searching inquiry to be made, that
there are in the world a vast number of undeserving poor.

One day I happened to meet Lady Probyn at a garden-party; it was at the
same house on Campden Hill where I had once met Freda, and perhaps it
was the recollection of this which prompted me to enquire after her.

“She has not been well,” said Lady Probyn, “and they are sending her
back to England; the climate doesn’t suit her. She is to make her home
with us for the present, so I am the gainer. Freda has always been my
favourite niece. I don’t know what it is about her that is so taking;
she is not half so pretty as the others.”

“But so much more charming,” I said. “I wonder she has not married out
in India, as everyone prophesied.”

“And so do I,” said her aunt. “However, poor child, no doubt, after
having been two years engaged to that very disappointing hero of
Saspataras Hill, she will be shy of venturing to trust anyone again.”

“Do you think that affair ever went very deep?” I ventured to ask. “It
seemed to me that she looked miserable during her engagement, and happy
when it was broken off.”

“Quite so,” said Lady Probyn; “I noticed the same thing. It was
nothing but a mistake. They were not in the least suited to each other.
By-the-by, I hear that Derrick Vaughan is married.”

“Derrick?” I exclaimed; “oh, no, that is a mistake. It is merely one
of the hundred and one reports that are for ever being set afloat about

“But I saw it in a paper, I assure you,” said Lady Probyn, by no means

“Ah, that may very well be; they were hard up for a paragraph, no doubt,
and inserted it. But, as for Derrick, why, how should he marry? He has
been madly in love with Miss Merrifield ever since our cruise in the

Lady Probyn made an inarticulate exclamation.

“Poor fellow!” she said, after a minute’s thought; “that explains much
to me.”

She did not explain her rather ambiguous remark, and before long our
tete-a-tete was interrupted.

Now that my friend was a full-fledged barrister, he and I shared
chambers, and one morning about a month after this garden party, Derrick
came in with a face of such radiant happiness that I couldn’t imagine
what good luck had befallen him.

“What do you think?” he exclaimed; “here’s an invitation for a cruise in
the Aurora at the end of August--to be nearly the same party that we had
years ago,” and he threw down the letter for me to read.

Of course there was special mention of “my niece, Miss Merrifield, who
has just returned from India, and is ordered plenty of sea-air.” I could
have told that without reading the letter, for it was written quite
clearly in Derrick’s face. He looked ten years younger, and if any of
his adoring readers could have seen the pranks he was up to that morning
in our staid and respectable chambers, I am afraid they would no longer
have spoken of him “with ‘bated breath and whispering humbleness.”

As it happened, I, too, was able to leave home for a fortnight at the
end of August; and so our party in the Aurora really was the same,
except that we were all several years older, and let us hope wiser, than
on the previous occasion. Considering all that had intervened, I was
surprised that Derrick was not more altered; as for Freda, she was
decidedly paler than when we first met her, but before long sea-air and
happiness wrought a wonderful transformation in her.

In spite of the pessimists who are for ever writing books, even writing
novels (more shame to them), to prove that there is no such thing as
happiness in the world, we managed every one of us heartily to enjoy our
cruise. It seemed indeed true that:

     “Green leaves and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
      And singing and loving all come back together.”

Something, at any rate, of the glamour of those past days came back to
us all, I fancy, as we laughed and dozed and idled and talked beneath
the snowy wings of the Aurora, and I cannot say I was in the least
surprised when, on roaming through the pleasant garden walks in that
unique little island of Tresco, I came once more upon Derrick and Freda,
with, if you will believe it, another handful of white heather given
to them by that discerning gardener! Freda once more reminded me of the
girl in the ‘Biglow Papers,’ and Derrick’s face was full of such bliss
as one seldom sees.

He had always had to wait for his good things, but in the end they came
to him. However, you may depend upon it, he didn’t say much. That was
never his way. He only gripped my hand, and, with his eyes all aglow
with happiness, exclaimed “Congratulate me, old fellow!”

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