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Title: Mendel - A Story of Youth
Author: Cannan, Gilbert
Language: English
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of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Hathi Trust Digital
Library, the University of California, and the Internet
Archive.



MENDEL



_BY THE SAME AUTHOR_
    ROUND THE CORNER
    OLD MOLE
    YOUNG EARNEST
_LONDON, T. FISHER UNWIN LTD._

    PETER HOMUNCULUS
    LITTLE BROTHER
    THREE PRETTY MEN
    SAMUEL BUTLER
    WINDMILLS
    SATIRE
    THE JOY OF THE THEATRE
    FOUR PLAYS
    ADVENTUROUS LOVE (POEMS)



MENDEL

A STORY OF YOUTH
BY GILBERT CANNAN


LONDON
T. FISHER UNWIN LTD
ADELPHI TERRACE



_First published in 1916_

(_All rights reserved_)



_To D. C._

_Shall tears be shed because the blossoms fall,
 Because the cloudy cherry slips away,
 And leaves its branches in a leafy thrall
 Till ruddy fruits do hang upon the spray?_

_Shall tears be shed because the youthful bloom
 And all th'excess of early life must fade
 For larger wealth of joy in smaller room
 To dwell contained in love of man and maid?_

_Nay, rather leap, O heart, to see fulfilled
 In certain joy th'uncertain promised glee,
 To have so many mountain torrents spilled
 For one fair river moving to the sea._



CONTENTS

BOOK I: EAST

                                   PAGE
I.    LONDON WHERE THE KING LIVES    11
II.   POVERTY                        21
III.  PRISON                         34
IV.   FIRST LOVE                     52
V.    A TURNING-POINT                63
VI.   EDGAR FROITZHEIM AND OTHERS    74
VII.  THE DETMOLD                    83
VIII. HETTY FINCH                    96
IX.   THE QUINTETTE                 109
X.    MORRISON                      134

BOOK II: BOHEMIA

I.    THE POT-AU-FEU                145
II.   LOGAN                         156
III.  LOGAN SETS TO WORK            167
IV.   BURNHAM BEECHES               183
V.    HAPPY HAMPSTEAD               196
VI.   CAMDEN TOWN                   209
VII.  MR. TILNEY TYSOE              221
VIII. THE MERLIN'S CAVE             235
IX.   "GOOD-BYE"                    247
X.    PARIS                         259

BOOK III: THE PASSING OF YOUTH

I.    EDWARD TUFNELL                283
II.   THE CAMPAIGN OPENS            295
III.  SUCCESS                       306
IV.   REACTION                      320
V.    LOGAN GIVES A PARTY           331
VI.   REVELATION                    346
VII.  CONFLICT                      364
VIII. OLIVER                        382
IX.   LOGAN MAKES AN END            404
X.    PASSOVER                      415



BOOK ONE

EAST



I

LONDON WHERE THE KING LIVES

THE boat-train had disgorged its passengers, who had huddled together
in a crowd round the luggage as it was dragged out of the vans, and
then had jostled their way out into the London they had been so long
approaching. When the crowd scattered it left like a deposit a little
knot of strange-looking people in brilliant clothes who stared about
them pathetically and helplessly. There were three old men who seemed
to be strangers to each other and a handsome Jewess with her
family--two girls and three boys. The two elder boys carried on their
backs the family bedding, and the youngest clung to his mother's
skirts and was frightened by the noise, the hurrying crowds of people,
the vastness and the ugly, complicated angular lines of the station.
The woman looked disappointed and hurt. Her eyes searched through the
crowds, through every fresh stream of people. She was baffled and
anxious. Once or twice she was accosted, but she could not understand
a word of what was said to her. At last she produced a piece of paper
and showed it to a railway official, who came up thinking it was time
these outlandish folk moved on. He could not read what was written on
it, for the paper was very dirty and the characters were crabbed and
awkwardly written. He turned to the old men, one of whom said
excitedly the only English words he knew--"London--Jewish--Society."
The official looked relieved. These people did not look like Jews, and
the eldest girl and the little boy were lovely. He went away, and the
woman, whose hopes had risen, once more looked disconsolate. The
little boy buried his face in her apron and wept.

A suburban train came wheezing into the platform, which was at once
alive with hurrying men in silk hats and tail-coats. Catching sight of
the brilliantly attired group, the handsome woman and the lovely girl,
the boys with their heads bowed beneath the billowing piles of feather
bedding, some of them stopped. The little boy looked up with tears in
his eyes. One man put his hand in his pocket and threw down a few
coppers. Others followed his example, and the little boy ran after the
showering pennies as they bounced in the air, and rolled, span, and
settled. He danced from penny to penny and a crowd gathered; for, in
his bright jerkin and breeches and little top-boots, dancing like a
sprite, gay and wild, he was an astonishing figure to find in the
grime and ugliness of the station. Silver was thrown among the pennies
to keep him dancing, but at last he was exhausted and ran to his
mother with his fists full of money, and the men hurried on to their
offices.

The official returned with an interpreter, who discovered that the
woman's name was Kühler, that she had expected to be met by her
husband, that she had come from Austrian Poland, and that the address
written on the piece of paper was Gun Street. The number was
indecipherable.

The three old men were given instructions and they went away. The
interpreter took charge of the family and led them to a refuge, where
he left them, saying that he would go and find Mr. Kühler. With a roof
over her head and food provided for her children, Mrs. Kühler sat
stoically to wait for the husband she had not seen for two years. She
had no preconceived idea of London, and this bleak, bare room was
London to her, quite acceptable. The stress and the anxiety of the
detestable journey were over. This was peace and good. Her husband
would find her. He had come to make a home in London. He had sent for
her. He would come.

Hours passed. They slept, ate, talked, walked about the room, and
still Mr. Kühler did not come. The peace of the refuge was invaded
with memories of the journey, the rattle, rattle, rattle of the
train-wheels, the brusque officials who treated the poor travellers
like parcels, the soldiers at the frontiers, the wet, bare quay in
Holland, the first sight of the sea, immense, ominous, heaving,
heaving up to the sky; the stinking ship that heaved like the sea and
made the brain oscillate like milk in a pan; the solidity of the
English quay, wet and bare, and of the English train, astonishingly
comfortable. . . . And still Mr. Kühler did not come.

The girls were cold and miserable. The boys wrestled and practised
feats of strength with each other to keep warm, and looked to their
mother for applause. She gave it them mechanically as she sat by the
little boy, whom she had laid to sleep on the bedding. He would be
hungry, she thought, when he woke up, and she must get him food. There
was the money which had been thrown to him, but she did not know its
value. People do not throw much money away. At home people do not
throw even small money away. There such a thing could not happen.
There money, like everything else, avoids the poor. But this was rich
England, where it rained money.

When the boy woke up she would go out and buy him something good to
eat, and if Mr. Kühler did not come to-morrow she would find some work
and a room, or a corner of a room, to live in. Perhaps Jacob had gone
to America again. He had been there twice, and both times suddenly.
People always went to America suddenly. He went out and bought a clean
collar, and said he was going and would send money for her as soon as
he had enough. . . . Poor Jacob, he could not endure their poverty and
he would not steal, but he would always fight the soldiers and the
bailiffs when they came to take the bedding. . . . The sea heaved, and
it rained money. The two boys began to fight, a sudden fury in both of
them. Their sisters rushed to part them and Mrs. Kühler rose.

At the end of the long room she saw Jacob peering from group to group.
He looked white and ill, as he had done when he came again and again
to implore her to marry him, and she felt half afraid of him, as she
had done when the violent fury of love in him had broken down her
resistance and dragged her from her comfortable home to the bare life
he had to offer her. He came to her now with the same ungraciousness
that had marked his wooing, explained to her that he had just got a
job and could not get away to meet her, and turned from her to the
children. The boys were grown big and strong, and the eldest girl was
a beauty. He was satisfied, stooped and picked up little Mendel in his
strong arms. The child woke up, gave a little grunt of pleasure as he
recognized the familiar smell of his father, and went to sleep again.

"He's heavy," said Mrs. Kühler. "You cannot carry him all the way."

"His face is like a flower," said Jacob.

He went first, carrying the boy, and his family followed him into the
roaring streets. The lamps were lit and the shops were dazzling. There
were barrows of fruit, fish, old iron, books, cheap jewellery, all lit
up with naphtha flares. The children were half frightened, half
delighted. The smells and the noise of the streets excited them. Every
now and then they heard snatches of their own language and were
comforted. They came to shops bearing Yiddish characters and London no
longer seemed to them forbiddingly foreign, though they began to feel
conscious of their clothes, which made them conspicuous. The boys
cursed and growled under the bedding and began to complain that they
had so far to go. Mr. Kühler found the child too heavy and had to put
him down. Mendel took his mother's hand and trotted along by her side.

They turned into a darkish street which ran for some length between
very tall houses. It was obscure enough to allow the clear sky to be
seen, patched with cloud and deep blue, starry spaces. At the end of
it was a building covered with lights and illuminated signs. They
shone golden and splendid. Never had Mendel seen anything so glorious,
so rich, so dream-like, so clearly corresponding to that marvellous
region where all his thoughts ended, passed out of his reach, and took
on a brilliant and mighty life of their own, a glory greater than that
of the Emperor at home. But this was England and had only a King.

"Does the King live there?" he asked his mother.

"No; that is a shop."

"Has father got a shop like that?"

"Not yet."

"Will he soon have a shop like that?"

"Very soon."

Mendel would have liked to have stood and gazed at the glorious,
glittering shop. He felt sure the King must buy his boots there, and
he thought that if he stayed long enough he would see the King drive
up in his crystal coach, with his crown on his head, and go into the
shop. But his father led the way out of the darkish street into
another that was still darker, very narrow, and flanked with little
low houses. One of these they entered, and in a small, almost
unfurnished room they had supper, and Mendel went to sleep hearing his
father say to his mother, "Thirteen shillings." Just before that his
father had held his hands out under the candle, and they were raw and
bleeding.

* * * * *

One room was luxury to them. At home in Austria they had had a corner
of a room, and the three other corners were occupied by the carpenter,
the stableman, and the potter. In the centre of the room stood the
common water-bucket and the common refuse-tub. London had showered
money on them and provided them with a whole room. They felt hopeful.

Mr. Kühler made thirteen shillings a week polishing walking-sticks,
and when that trade was bad he could sometimes get work as a furrier.
He had intended to take his family over to America, but finding work
in London, he thought it better to stay there. Besides, he had a
grudge against America, for while there he had invented a device for
twisting tails of fur, but his invention had been stolen from him and
he had missed his chance of making a fortune. America was evil and
living was very dear. London was the more comfortable place for the
struggle. And in London he had found Abramovich, the friend of his
boyhood, the one creature in the world upon whom he relied. He had no
reason for his faith. Abramovich had never done him any good, but he
was not of those who pass. He might disappear for years, but he always
came back again, and time made no difference. He was always the same.
If help was needed he gave it, and if he needed help he asked for it.
Abramovich was a very strong reason for staying in London. . . . The
boys would soon be working and the eldest girl was a beauty. The
match-makers would be busy with her. Another two years, and the
match-makers would find her a rich man who would help them all and put
money into a business. That was Jacob's desire, to have a business of
his own, for he loathed working for another man. He could not do it
for long. Always he ended with a quarrel, perhaps with blows, or he
simply walked out and would not return.

He was a devout Jew and despised Christians, as he despised luxury,
pleasure, comfort, not actively nor with any hatred. He simply did not
need them. He had lived without them, and he asked nothing of life. He
was alive; that was enough. Passions seized him and he followed them.
Without passion he never moved, never stirred a finger except to keep
himself alive. Passion had chosen his wife for him. Golda, the
beautiful, was his wife. In her he was bound more firmly to his race
and his faith, and there was no need to look beyond. He was rooted.
She had borne him children, but he had no more ambition for them than
for himself. Leah, the beauty, should wed a rich man, not for
ambitious reasons, but because, in life, beauty and riches were proper
mates. There is a certain orderliness about life, and certain things
can only be prevented by an irruption of passion. If that happens,
then life takes its revenge and becomes hard and bleak, but it is
still life, and only a fool will complain. Jacob never complained, and
he took his Golda's reproaches in silence, unless she became unjust,
and then he silenced her brutally and callously. She bore with him,
because she prized his honesty, his steadfast simplicity, and because
she knew that his passion had never wakened a profound answer in
herself. She had very slowly been roused to love, which had flowered
in her with the birth of her youngest child, in whom she had learned a
power of acceptance almost equal to her husband's. Like him, she clung
to her race and her faith and never looked beyond.

In London she found that she was left alone and her life was no longer
hemmed in by a menacing world of soldiers and police and peasants, who
swore the Jews cheated them and spread terrifying tales of Jewish
practices upon Christian children. Christian London was indifferent to
the Jews, and she could be indifferent to Christian London. She had no
curiosity about it and never went above a mile from her house. She
made no attempt to learn English, but could not help gleaning a few
words from her children as they picked it up at school. The synagogue
was the centre of her life, and from it came all the life she cared to
have outside her family. She was absorbed in little Mendel, by whom
her world was coloured. If he was happy, that was sunshine to her. If
he was oppressed and tearful, her sky was overcast. If he was ill, it
seemed to her a menace of the end.

He was a strange child and very slow in growing into a boy. The other
children had seemed to shoot into independence almost as soon as they
could walk. But Mendel clung to her, would not learn to feed himself,
and would not go to sleep at night unless she sang to him and rocked
him in the cradle, in which he slept even after he went to school. As
long as he could curl up in it he slept in his cradle, and he made her
learn as much as she could of an English song which had caught his
fancy. It was the only English song she ever knew, and night after
night she had to sing it over and over again as she rocked the heavy
cradle:--

    Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do;
    I'm half crazy, all for the love of you.

She had no idea what the words meant, but the boy loved the tune and
her funny accent and intonation, and even when she was ill and tired
she would sing him to sleep, and then sit brooding over him with her
fingers just touching his curly hair. And in her complete absorption
in his odd, unchildlike childhood she was perfectly content, and
entirely indifferent to all that happened outside him. Brutal things,
terrible things happened, but they never touched the child, and if she
could, she hid the knowledge of them from him.

Abramovich collected a little capital and persuaded Mr. Kühler to join
him in a furrier's business. They were not altogether unsuccessful,
and Mr. Kühler took a whole house in Gun Street and bought a piano,
but soon their capital was exhausted and they had given more credit
than they were accorded and the business trickled through their
fingers. Mr. Kühler took to his bed, for he could sleep at will and
almost indefinitely, and so could avoid seeing poverty once more
creeping up like a muddy sea round his wife and children. It had been
bad enough when that happened at home, where at the worst there were
his relations to help, and there were the potato fields to be
despoiled, and, at least, the children could be happy playing in the
roads or by the river, or on the sides of the mountain. But here in
London poverty was black indeed, and there was no one but Abramovich
to help, and he was in almost as bad case as himself. Yet
astonishingly Abramovich came again and again to the rescue. He was a
little squat, ugly man, the stunted product of some obscure Russian
ghetto, and he seemed to live by and for his enthusiasm for the Kühler
family. In their presence he glowed, greedily drank in every word that
Jacob or Golda said, and was always loud in his praises of the
beautiful children. . . . "The sky is dark now," he used to say, "but
they will be rich, and they will give you horses and carriages, and
Turkey carpets, and footmen, and flowers in the winter, and they will
bring English gentlemen to the house and what you want, that you shall
have. . . ." "I want nothing," Jacob would say. "I want nothing. I
will work and be my own master. I will not steal or help other men to
steal." "You wait," Abramovich would reply. "These children have only
to go out into London and all will be given to them."

Only the eldest girl listened to these conversations, and she used to
hold her head high, and her face would go pale as ferociously she
followed up the ideas they suggested to her.

But Abramovich could bring no consolation. Jacob would not go back to
the stick-polishing, and at last he could bear it no longer, went out
and bought a clean collar, clipped his beard, and without a word of
farewell, went to America.



II

POVERTY

THEN followed, for Golda, the blackest years of her life. She removed
once more to one room in Gun Street, and she and the two boys earned
enough to keep body and soul together. She found work in other
people's houses, helped at parties, and when nothing else was
available she went to a little restaurant to assist as scullery-maid,
and stayed after closing-time to scrub the tables and sweep the floor.
For this she was given crusts of bread and scraps from the plates. She
never had a word from her husband, and she knew she would not hear
unless he made money. If he failed again, as of course he would, he
would live in silence, solitary, proud, avoiding his fellow-men, who
would have nothing to do with him except he made the surrender of
dignity which it was impossible for him to make. She would not hear
from him, and he would return one day unannounced, without a word, as
though he had come from the next street; and as likely as not he would
have given the coat off his back to some one poorer than himself.
. . . Jacob was like that. He would give away on an impulse things
that it had cost him weeks of saving to acquire. Low as he stood in
the world, he seemed always to be looking downwards, as though he
could believe in what came up from the depths but not in anything that
went beyond him. Golda could not understand him, but she believed in
him absolutely. She knew that he suffered even more than she, and she
had learned from him not to complain. The Jews had always suffered.
That was made clear in the synagogue, where, in wailing over the
captivity in Babylon, Golda found a vent for her own sorrows. She
would weep over the sufferings of her race as she wept for those who
were dead, her father and her mother, and her father's father and her
little brother, on the anniversary of their death. However poor she
might be she had money to buy candles for them, and whatever the cost
she kept the observances of her religion.

So she lived isolated and proud, untouched by the excitements her
children found in the houses of their friends and in the streets.

Very wild was the life in the neighbourhood of Gun Street. There were
constant feuds between Jews and Christians, battles with fists and
sticks and stones. Old Jews were insulted and pelted by Christian
youths, and the young Jews would take up their cause. There were
violent disputes between landlords and tenants, husbands and wives,
prostitutes and their bullies. Any evening, walking along Gun Street,
you might hear screaming and growling in one of the little houses.
Louder and louder it would grow. Suddenly the male voice would be
silent, the female would rise to a shriek, the door would open, and
out into the street would be propelled a half-naked woman. She would
wail and batter on the door, and, if that were of no avail, she would
go to the house of a friend and silence would come again. . . . Or
sometimes a door would open and a man would be shot out to lie limp
and flabby in the gutter.

Harry, the second boy, took to this wild life like a duck to water. He
practised with dumb-bells and learned the art of boxing, and so
excited Mendel with his feats of strength that he too practised
exercises and learned to stand on his hands, and cheerfully allowed
his brother to knock him down over and over again in his ambition to
learn the elements of defence and the use of the straight left. In
vain: his brain was not quick enough, or was too quick. His hands
would never obey him in time, but he dreamed of being a strong man,
the strongest man in the world, who by sheer muscle should compel
universal admiration and assume authority.

In the family the child's superiority was acknowledged tacitly. He had
his way in everything. He wanted such strange things, and was adamant
in his whims. If he were not allowed to do as he wished, he lay on the
ground and roared until he was humoured; or he would refuse to eat; or
he would go out of the house with the intention of losing himself. As
he was known all through the neighbourhood for his beauty that was
impossible. He was an object of pride to the neighbours, and whenever
he was found far from home, there was always some one who knew him to
take him back. But Golda could not realize this, and she suffered
tortures.

The boy loved the streets and the shops, the markets with their
fruit-stalls and fish-barrows, the brilliant colours in Petticoat
Lane. He would wander drinking in with his eyes colour and beauty,
shaking with emotion at the sight of the pretty little girls with
their little round faces, their ivory skins, and their brilliant black
eyes. Ugliness hurt him not at all. It was the condition of things,
the dark chaos out of which flashed beauty. But cruelty could drive
him nearly mad, and he would tremble with rage and terror at the sight
of a woman with a bloody face or a man kicking a horse.

He had a friend, a Christian boy, named Artie Beech, who adored him
even as Abramovich adored his father. Golda was alarmed by this
friendship, thinking no good could come out of the Christians, and she
tried to forbid it, but the boy had his way, and he loved Artie Beech
as a child loves a doll or a king his favourite. Together the two boys
used to creep home from school gazing into the shop windows. One day
they saw a brightly coloured advertisement of a beef extract: a
picture of a man rending a lion. "It will make you stronger than a
lion," said Mendel. "Yes," said Artie, "one drop on the tip of your
tongue." "I would be stronger than Harry if I ate a whole bottle,"
replied Mendel, and they decided to save up to buy the strength-giving
elixir. It took them seven weeks to save the price of it. Then with
immense excitement they bought the treasure, took it home, and,
loathing the taste of it, gulped it down and tossed a button for the
right to lick the cork. Feeling rather sick, they gazed at each other
with frightened eyes, half expecting to swell so that they would burst
their clothes. But nothing happened. Mendel took off his coat and felt
his biceps and swore that they had grown. Artie took off his coat:
yes, his biceps had grown too.

They went through the streets with growing confidence, and at school
they were not afraid. Mendel's new arrogance led him into the only
fight he ever had and he was laid low. Aching with humiliation, he
shunned Artie Beech and went alone to gaze at the picture of the man
rending the lion. It took him a week of hard concentrated thought to
realize that the picture and its legend were not to be taken
literally, and his close study led him to another and a strangely
emotional interest in the picture. His eyes would travel up the line
of the man's body along his arms to the lion's jaws, and then down its
taut back to its paws clutching the ground. The two lines springing
together, the two forms locked, gave an impression of strength, of
tremendous impact, which, as the boy gazed, became so violent as to
make his head ache. At the same time he began to develop an appetite
for this shock, and unconsciously used his eyes so as to obtain it. It
would sometimes spring up in him suddenly, without his knowing the
cause of it, when he watched his mother sitting with her hands folded
on her stomach, or cooking with her hand--her big, strong, working
hand--on a fish or a loaf of bread.

One day in Bishopsgate, that lordly and splendid thoroughfare which
led from the dark streets to the glittering world, he came on a man
kneeling on the pavement with coloured chalks. First of all the man
dusted the stones with his cap, and then he laid another cap full of
little pieces of chalk by his side, and then he drew and smudged and
smudged and drew until a slice of salmon appeared. By the side of the
salmon he drew a glass of beer with a curl of froth on it and a little
bunch of flowers. On another stone he drew a ship at sea in a storm, a
black and green sea, and a brown and black sky. Mendel watched him
enthralled. What a life! What a career! To go out into the streets and
make the dull stones lovely with colour! He saw the man look up and
down and then lay a penny on the salmon. A fine gentleman passed by
and threw down another penny. . . . Oh, certainly, a career! To make
the streets lovely, and immediately to be rewarded!

From school Mendel stole some chalk and decorated the stones in the
yard at Gun Street. He drew a bottle and an onion and a fish, though
this he rather despised, because it was so easy. Always he had amused
himself with drawing. As a tiny child, the first time his father went
to America, he drew a picture of a watch to ask for that to be sent
him, and this picture had been kept by his mother. And after that he
often drew, but chiefly because it made his father and mother proud of
him, and they laughed happily at everything he did. The pavement
artist filled him with pride and pleasure in the doing of it: and
every minute out of school and away from the Rabbi he devoted to
drawing. His brothers bought him a box of colours, and he painted
imaginary landscapes of rivers and swans and cows and castles. Every
picture he made was treasured by his mother. They seemed to her, as
they did to himself, perfectly beautiful. He used his water-colours as
though they were oils, and laid them on thick, to get as near the
pavement artist's colours as possible. At school there were
drawing-lessons, but they seemed to have no relation to this keen
private pleasure of his.

In the evenings he would lie on the ground in the kitchen and paint
until his eyes and his head ached. Sometimes his perpetual, silent
absorption would so exasperate his brothers that they would kick his
paints away and make him get up and talk to them. Then he would curse
them with all the rich curses of the Yiddish language, and rush away
and hide himself; for days he would live in a state of gloom and dark
oppression, feeling dimly aware of a difference between him and them
which it was beyond his power to explain. He would try to tell his
mother what was the matter with him, but she could not understand. His
happiness in painting, the keen delight that used to fill him, were to
her compensation enough for her anxiety and the stress and strain of
her poverty.

His little local fame procured her some relief. At school he won a
prize accorded by vote for the most popular boy. This had amazed him,
for he had very little traffic with the others, and during playtime
used to stand with his back to the wall and his arms folded, staring
with unseeing eyes. When his sister asked one of the boys why Mendel
had won the vote, the answer she received was: "He _can_ draw." As a
result his brothers were helped and his mother was able to get work as
a sempstress. They were relieved from the poverty that paralyses. They
could go from day to day and carry their deficit from week to week.
They could afford friends, and the visits of friends on a ceremonious
basis, and Abramovich was always trying to interest rich men in the
wonderful family.

It was Abramovich who bought Mendel his first box of oil-paints, not
so much to give the boy pleasure as with the idea that he might learn
to paint portraits from photographs. That, however, was not in the
boy's idea. He abandoned his imaginary landscapes and began to paint
objects, still in the manner of the pavement artist, thrilled with the
discovery that he could more and more exactly reproduce what he saw.
He painted a loaf of bread and a cucumber so like the originals that
Abramovich was wildly excited and rushed off to bring Mr. Jacobson, a
Polish Jew, a timber-merchant and very rich, to see the marvel.

Mendel was unprepared. He sat painting in the kitchen with his mother
and Lotte, his younger sister. Abramovich and Mr. Jacobson came in.
Jacobson was ruddy, red-haired, with a strange broad face and a flat
nose, almost negroid about the nostrils. He wore a frock-coat, a white
waistcoat with a cable-chain across it, and rings upon his fingers.
Mendel had a horror of him, and was overcome with shyness. Mr.
Jacobson put on his spectacles, stared at the picture. "Ye-es," he
said. "That bread could be eaten. That cucumber could be cut and put
into the soup. The boy is all right. Eh? Ye-es, and a beautiful boy,
too." Mendel writhed. Golda was almost as overcome with shyness as he.
In silence she produced all the boy's drawings and pictures and laid
them before the visitors. Abramovich was loud in his praises, but not
too loud, for he knew that Mr. Jacobson loved to talk. And indeed it
seemed that Mr. Jacobson would never stop. He stood in the middle of
the room and wagged his fat, stumpy hands and held forth:--

"In my country, Mrs. Kühler, there was once a poor boy. He was always
drawing. Give him a piece of paper and a pencil and he would draw
anything in the world. The teacher at school had to forbid him to
draw, for he would learn nothing at all. So one day the teacher could
not find that boy. And where do you think they find him? Under the
table. The teacher pulled him out and found in his hand a piece of
paper--a piece of paper. The teacher looked down at the piece of paper
and fainted away. The boy had drawn a picture of the teacher so like
that he fainted away. Well, when the teacher came to himself, he said:
'Boy, did you do that?' 'Yes,' said the boy, 'I did that.' 'Then, said
the teacher, 'I will tell you what you must do. You must paint a
portrait of the King and take it to the King, and he will give you
money, and carriages, and houses, and rings, and watches, for you and
your father, and your uncles and all your family. Ahin and aher. The
boy did that. He painted a portrait of the King and he took it to the
palace. He went to the front door and knock, knock, knock. A lady
opened the door and she said: 'What do you want, little boy?' 'I want
to see the King. I have something to show him.' 'I am the Queen,' said
the lady. 'You can show it to me.' The boy showed the picture and the
Queen fainted away. The servants and the King came running in to see
what had happened, and they stood like stone. 'Who did that?' said the
King. 'I did,' said the boy. 'I don't believe him,' said the King.
'Shut him up for a day and a night, give him paint and brushes, and we
will see what he can do.' Well, they shut the boy up for a day and a
night, and in the morning the door was opened and the King and the
Queen came in. The King took off his hat and put it on the table and
it fell to the ground. That boy had painted a picture of a table so
like that the King thought it was a real table and tried to put his
hat on it. It is true, and the boy painted the King's portrait every
Saturday until he died, and he had houses and money and footmen and
statues in his garden, and his father and mother drove in their
carriages and wore sables even in the summer. And some day, Mrs.
Kühler, we shall see you in your carriage and this boy painting the
portrait of the King."

The story was received in silence. The emotions it aroused in Golda
and her son were so profound, so violent that they were dazed. The
tension was relieved by a giggle from Lotte, who knew that kings do
not wear hats. Mendel sat staring at his picture, which, try as he
would, he could not connect with the story.

Abramovich said: "I told you so, Mrs. Kühler. I told you something
would come of it." Already he was convinced that Mendel only had to go
out into London to make the family's fortune.

But Golda replied: "There's time enough for that, and don't go putting
ideas into the boy's head."

There was no danger of that. Mendel's was not the kind of head into
which ideas are easily put. He was slow of comprehension, powerful in
his instincts, and everything he perceived had to be referred to them.
School was to him a perfectly extraneous experience. What he learned
there was of so little use to any purpose of which he was conscious,
and it could not be shared with his mother. To her schooling was the
law of the land. A strange force took her boy from her every day and,
as it were, imprisoned him. When he was fourteen he would be free. She
must endure his captivity as she had learned to endure so much else.

When Mr. Jacobson had gone she said: "There have been boys like that,
and a good boy never forgets his father and mother."

Mendel looked puzzled and said: "When _I_ drew a picture of teacher he
caned me."

"Caned you?" cried Golda, horrified.

"He often does."

"Thrashed you!" cried Golda; "on the hands?"

"No," replied Mendel, "on the seat and the back."

Golda made him undress, and she gave a gasp of anger when she saw the
weals and bruises on his back. "But what did you do?" she cried.

"I don't know," answered Mendel. This was true. At school he would
suddenly find the teacher towering over him in a fury; he would be
told to stay behind, and then he would be flogged. He had suffered
more from the humiliation than from the pain inflicted. He could never
understand why this fury should descend upon him out of his happy
dreams. And now as his mother wept over the marks upon his body the
suffering in him was released. All the feeling suppressed in him by
his inability to understand came tearing out of him and he shook with
rage. He could find no words to express these new emotions, which were
terrible and frightened him.

Lotte came up and felt the weals on his back with her fingers, and she
said: "They don't do that to girls."

"Be quiet, Lotte," said Golda. "Don't touch him. You will hurt him."
And she stood staring in amazement at the boy's back. "That's an awful
mess," she said to herself, and her thoughts flew back to men who had
been flogged by the soldiers in Austria. But this was England, where
everybody was left alone. She could not understand it. She did not
know what to do. The boy could not be kept from school, for they would
come and drag him to it. There were often dreadful scenes in Gun
Street when children were dragged off to school. She made Lotte sit at
the table and write: "Please, teacher, you must not beat my son. His
back is like a railway-line, and it is not good to beat children." She
could think of no threat which could intimidate the teacher, no power
she could invoke to her aid. Her powerlessness appalled her. She
signed the letter and thought she would go to the Rabbi and ask him
what she must do. "Yes," she said, "the Rabbi will tell me, and
perhaps the Rabbi will write to the teacher also." She could feel the
torture in the boy, and she knew that it must be stopped. It was all
very well to knock Harry or Issy about. They could put up with any
amount of violence. But Mendel was different. With him pain went so
deep. That was what made it horrible. He was like a very little child.
It was wicked to hurt him. His silence now was almost more than she
could bear.

There came a knock at the door. Lotte went to open it and gave a
little scream. It was her father come back from America. He came into
the room, not different by a hair from when he went away; thinner,
perhaps, a little more haggard and hollow under the eyes, so that the
slight squint in his right eye, injured to avoid conscription, was
more pronounced. He came in as though he had returned from his day's
work, nodded to his wife, and looked at the boy's back.

"Who has done that?" he asked.

"At school," replied Golda. "The teacher."

Jacob took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, picked up a chair and
smashed it on the floor. Mendel put on his shirt and coat again and
said: "It is like when you knocked the soldier over with the glass."

Jacob gave a roar: "Ah, you remember that? Ah! yes. That was when I
had the inn near the barracks. He was an officer. Two of them came in.
They were drunk, the swine! The man made for your mother and the
officer for your sister. The glasses were big, with a heavy base. I
took one of them . . ."

"And the man spun round three times and fell flat on the floor," said
Mendel.

"Ah! you remember that? Yes. And I lifted him out into the street and
left him there in the snow. I was a strong man then. I wanted nothing
from them, but if they touch what is mine . . . !" He seized Mendel
and lifted him high over his head. He was tremendously excited and
could not be got to sit down or to talk of his doings in America or of
his voyage. That was his way. He would talk in his own time. His
doings would come out piecemeal, over years and years. Now he was
entirely absorbed with his fury. He was nearly ill with it and could
not eat. Up and down the room he walked, lashing up his rage. Mendel
was sent to bed, and until he went to sleep he could hear his father
pacing up and down and his mother talking, explaining, entreating.

Next morning Mendel had almost forgotten the excitement and went to
school as usual. In the middle of an arithmetic lesson in walked
Jacob, very white, with his head down. He went quickly up to the
teacher and spoke to him quietly. The class was stunned into silence.
Jacob raised his fist and the teacher went down. Jacob picked him up,
shook him, and threw him into a corner. Then he shouted: "You won't
touch my boy again!" shook himself like a dog, and walked out, closing
the door very quietly. The teacher hurried out and did not return. The
class slowly recovered from its astonishment, shrill voices grew out
of the silence like a strong wind, and books and inkpots began to fly.
Soon the walls were streaked and spattered with ink and when it became
known that it was Kühler's father who had done it, Mendel found
himself a hero. But he took no pride in it. He was haunted by the
teacher's white, terrified face. He had always thought of the teacher
as a nice man. The thrashings inflicted on him had always seemed to
him impersonal and outside humanity altogether. Yet because it was his
father who had thrashed the teacher he accepted it as right. At home
his father, even in his absence, was the law, and could do no wrong.
The violent scene seemed to Mendel to have nothing to do with himself,
and he resented having become the centre of attention.

The head master hurried in, quelled the class, went on with the lesson
where it had been interrupted. Mendel could not attend. He was
bewildered by a sudden realization of life outside himself. It was no
longer a procession of events, figures, scenes, colours, shapes, light
and darkness passing before his eyes, always charming, sometimes
terrifying, but something violent which met another something in
himself with a fearful impact. It could hurt him, and he knew that it
was merciless, for the thing in himself that answered to it and rushed
out to meet it was wild and knew no mercy either. He had heard of a
thing called the maelstrom in the sea, a kind of spout, with whirling
sides, down which great ships were sucked. And he felt that he was
being sucked down such a spout, in which he could see all that he had
ever known, the mountain and the river in Austria, the train, the
telegraph wires, towns, buses, faces, the street, the school, Artie
Beech, Abramovich, his father. . . . Only his mother stood firm, and
from her came a force to counteract that other force which was
dragging him towards the whirlpool.

He became conscious of the discomfort in which he lived and was
acutely aware of the people by whom he was surrounded.



III

PRISON

THIS time in America Jacob had fared better, and by dint of
half-starving himself and sleeping when he had nothing to do, he had
managed to save over fifty pounds. Abramovich borrowed another fifty,
and once again they set up in business as furriers. They took one of
the old Georgian houses off Bishopsgate, started a workshop in the top
rooms, and in the lower rooms the Kühler family lived, with Abramovich
in lodgings round the corner. They were only twenty yards from the
synagogue and Golda was happy; Jacob too, for in such a house he felt
a solid man. And, indeed, amid the extreme poverty with which they
were surrounded he could pass for wealthy. He had his name on a brass
plate on the door and was always proud when he wrote it on a cheque.
He took his eldest son into his workshop to rescue him from the fate
of working for another master, and he assumed a patriarchal authority
over his family. His sons were never allowed out after half-past nine,
and, tall youths though they were, if they crossed his will he
thrashed them. The girls were forbidden to go out alone. They were
kept at home to await their fate.

The eldest boy flung all his ardour into dancing, and was the champion
slow waltzer of the neighbourhood. With egg-shells on his heels to
show that he never brought them to the ground, he could keep it up for
hours and won many prizes. Harry scorned this polite prowess. For him
the romance of the streets was irresistible: easy amorous conquests,
battles of tongues and fists, visits to the prize-ring, upon which his
young ambition centred. A bout between a Jew and a Christian would
lead to a free-fight in the audience, for the Jews yelled in Yiddish
to their champion, and the British would suspect insults to them or
vile instructions, and would try to enforce silence . . . And Harry
would bring gruff young men to the house, youths with puffy eyes and
swollen or crooked or broken noses, and he would treat them with an
enthusiastic deference which found no echo in any member of the family
save Mendel, who found the world opened up to him by Harry large and
adventurous, like the open sea stretching away and away from the
whirlpool.

There was one extraordinarily nice man whom Harry brought to the
house. His name was Kuit, and he had failed as a boxer and had become
a thief, a trade in which he was an expert. His talk fascinated
Mendel, and indeed the whole family. None could fail to listen when he
told of his adventures and his skill. He had begun as a pickpocket,
plying his trade in Bishopsgate or the Mile End Road, and to show his
expertise he would run his hands over Jacob's pockets without his
feeling it, and tell him what they contained. Or he would ask Golda to
let him see her purse, and she would grope for it only to find that he
had already taken it. He had advanced from picking pockets to the
higher forms of theft: plundering hotels or dogging diamond merchants,
and he was keenly interested in America. It was through him that the
family knew the little that was ever revealed to them of Jacob's
doings there.

Kuit said he would go to America and not return until he had ten
thousand pounds, all made by honest theft, for he would only rob the
rich, and, indeed, he was most generous with his earnings, and gave
Golda many handsome pieces of jewellery, and he lent Jacob money when
he badly needed it. That, however, was not Jacob's reason for
admitting Kuit to his family circle. He liked the man, was fascinated
by him, and thought his morals were his own affair. He knew his race
and the poor too well to be squeamish, and never dreamed of extending
his authority beyond his family. He warned Harry that if he took to
Kuit's practices he would no longer be a son of his, and as the
accounts of prison given to Harry by some of his acquaintances were
not cheering, Harry preferred not to run any risks. Instead, he
devoted himself to training for the glory of the prize-ring.

For Mendel the moral aspect of Kuit's profession had been settled once
and for all by his seeing the Rabbi with his face turned to the wall,
in the middle of the most terrible of prayers, filch some pennies from
an overcoat. Religion therefore was one thing, life was another, and
life included theft. Kuit was the only man who could think of painting
apart from money, and it was Kuit who gave him a new box of oil
colours, stolen from a studio which he broke into on purpose, and _en
passant_ from one rich house in Kensington to another. Kuit used to
say: "One thing is true for one man and another for another. And what
is true for a man is what he does best. For Harry it is boxing, for
Issy it is women and dancing, and for Mr. Kühler it is being honest.
For me it is showing the business thieves that they cannot have things
all their own way, and outwitting the police. Oh yes! They know me and
I know them, but they will never catch me."

So charming was Mr. Kuit that Jacob could not object to taking care
from time to time of the property that passed through his hands, and
the kitchen was often splendid with marble clocks and Oriental china
and Sheffield plate, which never looked anything but out of place
among the cheap oleographs and the sideboard with its green paper
frills round the flashing gilt china that was never used. The kitchen
was the living-room of the house, for Jacob only ate when he was
hungry, and it was rarely that two sat down to a meal together.

As often as not Mendel had his paints on the table, and the objects he
was painting were not to be moved. He clung to his painting as the
only comfort in his distress, and he would frequently work away with
his brushes though he could hardly see what he was at, and knew that
he was entirely devoid of the feeling that until the discomfort broke
out in his soul had never failed him. He dared not look outside his
circumstances for comfort, and within them was the most absolute
denial of that cherished feeling for loveliness and colour. Beyond
certain streets he never ventured. He felt lost outside the immediate
neighbourhood of his home, and only Mr. Kuit reassured him with the
confidence with which he spoke of such remote regions as Kensington
and Bayswater and Mayfair. The rest clung to the little district where
the shops and the language and the smells were Jewish. Yet there, too,
Mendel felt lost, though he had an immense reverence for the old Jews,
for the Rabbis who pored all day long over their books, and the
ancient bearded men who, like his mother, could sit for hours together
doing nothing at all. He loved their tragic, wrinkled faces and their
steadfast peace, so stark a contrast to the chatter and the wrangling
and the harshness that filled his home.

There were constant rows. Harry upset the household for weeks after
his father forbade him to pursue his prize-fighting ambitions. Jacob
would not have a son of his making a public show of himself. To that
disturbance was added another when Issy began to court, or was courted
by, a girl who was thought too poor and base-born. If he was out a
minute later than half-past nine Jacob would go out and find him at
the corner of the street with the girl in his arms. Issy would be
dragged away. Then he would sulk or shout that he was a man, and Jacob
would tell him in a cold, furious voice that he could go if he liked,
but, if he went, he must never show his face there again. For a time
Issy would submit. Poor though the home was, he could not think of
leaving it except to make another for himself. But there was no
keeping the girl away, and he would be for ever peeping into the
street to see if she were there, and if she were he could not keep
away from her.

Leah, the eldest girl, had her courtships too. The match-makers were
busy with her, and a number of men, young and old, were brought to
view her. She was dressed up to look fine, and Jacob and Golda would
sit together to inspect the suitors, and at last they chose a huge,
ugly Russian Jew, named Moscowitsch--Abraham Moscowitsch, a
timber-merchant, who had pulled himself up out of the East End and had
a house at Hackney. He was a friend of Kuit's and was willing to take
the girl without a dowry. Leah hid herself away and wept. It was in
vain that Golda, primed by Jacob, told her that she would be rich, and
would have servants and carriages, and could buy at the great shops:
she could not forget the Russian's bristling hair and thick lips and
coarse, splayed nostrils. The tears were of no avail; the marriage had
been offered and accepted. The wedding was fixed, and nothing was
spared to make it a social triumph. The bride was decked out in
conventional English white, with a heavy veil and a bouquet: and very
lovely she looked. Jacob wore his first frock-coat and a white linen
collar, Golda had a dress made of mauve cashmere, with a bodice
heavily adorned with shining beads, and Mendel had a new sailor suit
with a mortar-board cap. There were three carriages to drive the party
the twenty yards to the synagogue. The wedding group was photographed,
and a hall was taken for the feast and the dance in the evening. The
wedding cost Jacob the savings of many years and more, but he grudged
not a penny of it, because he had a rich son-in-law and wished it to
be known. There were over fifty guests at the feast.

Within a week Leah came home again, pale, thin, and shrunken.
Moscowitsch had been arrested. He had gone bankrupt and had done
"something with his books."

"Bankrupt!" said Jacob; "bankrupt!"

He stood in front of his weeping daughter and beat against the air
with his clenched fists. She moaned and protested that she would never
go back to him. Jacob shook her till her teeth chattered together.

"You dare talk like that! He is your husband. You are his wife. It is
a misfortune. You should be with the lawyers to find out when you can
see him. I am to lose everything because he is unfortunate! A dog will
not turn from a man in his misery, and must a woman learn from a dog?
You are a soft girl! Go, I say, and find out when you can see him. Was
ever a man so crossed by Fate! Where I go, there luck takes wings."

His violence shook Leah out of the dazed misery in which she had come
home, having no other idea, no other place to which to go. Jacob was
at first for making his daughter wait in her new home until her
husband was returned to her. His simple imagination seized on the idea
and visualized it. It seemed to him admirable, and Golda had hard work
to shake it out of his head. As a piece of unnecessary cruelty he
could not realize it, but when it was brought home to him that he
would have to pay the rent of the house in Hackney, he yielded and
allowed the girl to stay at home.

Moscowitsch was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, and a gloom,
such as not the darkest days of poverty had been able to create,
descended upon the house. Jacob was ashamed and irritable. He insisted
upon the most scrupulous observance of all the rites of his religion,
and he forbade Mendel to paint. Painting had nothing to do with
religion and he would have none of it. He trampled on Mendel's
friendship with Artie Beech. The Christian world of police and judges
and the law had destroyed his happiness, and not the faintest smell of
Christendom should cross his door. Friction between the father and his
two sons was exasperated, and it seemed to Mendel that Hell was let
loose. He was nearly of an age to leave school, and he dreamed by the
hour of the freedom he would have when he went to work. He would go
out early in the morning and come home late in the evening. He would
stay in the streets and look at the shops and watch the girls go by.
He would go one day out beyond London to see what the world was like
there. He would find a place where there were pictures, and he would
feast on them: for when he went to work he would paint no more, since
painting would be shed with the miserable childhood that was so fast
slipping away from him.

Yet a worse calamity was to happen. Once again the Christian world of
police, law, and judges was to invade the home of the Kühlers, and
this time it was Jacob himself who was taken. He was charged with
receiving stolen goods. A detective-inspector and two constables
invaded the house and took possession of an ormolu clock, a number of
silver knives, and a brooch which Mr. Kuit had given to Golda. Five of
Mr. Kuit's friends had been arrested, but Mr. Kuit himself was not
implicated. He paid for the defence of the prisoners and took charge
of the Kühler family, transferred the business into Issy's name, and
advanced money to keep it going. He spared neither time nor trouble to
try to establish Jacob's innocence, but it looked almost as though
some one else was taking an equal amount of trouble to prove his
guilt, for every move of Mr. Kuit's was countered, and Jacob himself
was so bewildered and enraged that he could not give a coherent answer
to the questions put to him. He babbled and raved of an enemy who had
done this thing, of a rival who had plotted his ruin, but as he could
not give a satisfactory account of the articles found in his
possession, his passionate protestations and his fanatical belief in
his own honesty were of no avail. From the dock in which he was placed
with Mr. Kuit's other friends he delivered a vehement harangue in
broken English, not more than ten words of which were intelligible to
the judge and jury. The judge was kindly, the jury somnolent. Jacob
was the only member of the party with a clean record, and he received
the light sentence of eighteen months; the rest had double that term
and more. In the Sunday papers they were described as a dangerous
gang, and their portraits were drawn like profiles on a coin by an
artist whose business it was to make villains look villainous for the
delectation of the sober millions who tasted the joys of wickedness
only in print. Golda was staggered by the blank indifference of the
world to her husband's honesty. His word to her was law, but the judge
and the newspapers swept it aside, and he was regarded as one with the
wicked men whose crooked dealings had involved the innocent. This was
the worst disaster that had ever broken upon her: husband and
son-in-law both swept away from her, as it seemed now, in one moment.
The sympathy she received from the neighbours touched her profoundly,
and she accepted their view that the sudden abstraction of male
relatives was a natural calamity, like sickness or fire. Thanks to Mr.
Kuit the business would be kept together, and thanks to Abramovich she
never lacked company. That faithful friend would come in in the
evenings and go over the trial, every moment of which he had heard,
and recount every word of Jacob's speech, which to him was a piece of
magnificent oratory. "Not a tear was left in my eyes," he said. "Not a
throb was left in my heart, and the judge was moved, for his face sank
into his hands and I could see that he knew how unjust he must be."
And he spent many days ferreting out a villain to be the cause of it
all, some inveterate, implacable enemy who had plotted the downfall of
the most honest man in London. He fixed on a certain Mr. Rosenthal,
who years ago had tried to sell them machines for the business when
they had already bought all that were necessary. He was quite sure it
was Mr. Rosenthal who had bribed the thieves to hold their tongues,
when any one of them could have cleared Jacob in a moment. And Golda
believed that it was Mr. Rosenthal and dreamed of unattainable acts of
revenge.

Mendel used to listen to them talking, and their voices seemed to him
to come from very far away. The upheaval had stunned him, had
destroyed his volition and paralysed his dreams. He felt as though a
tight band were fixed round his head. He had neither desire nor will.
The world could do as it liked with him. If the world could suddenly
invade his home and brand its head and lawgiver as thief, then the
world was empty and foolish and it did not matter what happened. It
amazed him that his brothers and sisters could go about as usual: that
Harry could come home and talk of prize-fighters and sit writing to
girls, and that Issy could go out to meet his Rosa at the corner of
the street. It was astonishing that his mother could still cook and
they could still eat, and that every morning Harry could go down and
open the door to let in the workpeople to clatter up the stairs. . . .
And Harry disliked getting out of bed in the morning. In his father's
absence he ventured to apply his considerable ingenuity to the
problem, and rigged up a wire from his bed to the knob of the
front-door. Nor was this the only sign of the removal of the centre of
authority from the family, for Issy actually brought his girl Rosa to
the house and made his mother be pleasant to her. . . . Golda felt
that her children were growing beyond her, and she thought it was time
Issy was thinking of getting married, though not to Rosa, whose father
was a poor cobbler and could give her no money.

At regular intervals. Golda swallowed down her dread of the busy
streets and went to Pentonville, where through the bars of the
visitors'-room Jacob received her report and gave his instructions. He
decreed against Rosa, who accordingly was forbidden to enter the house
again. He had orders for every one of his children except Mendel, as
to whom Golda did not consult him. Deep in her inmost heart she was in
revolt against her husband, for she had begun to see that he had
carried pride to the point of folly, and all her hopes, all her
dreams, all her ambitions were centred upon her darling boy. Her
ambitions were not worldly. She knew nothing at all about the world,
and did not believe three parts of what she heard of it. Only she
longed for him to escape the bitterness and bareness that had been her
portion. The boy was so beautiful and could be so gay and could dance
so lightly, and would sometimes be so tempestuous and masterful. It
would be a sin if he were to be cramped over a board or were sent to
work in a tailoring shop. She herself had a love of flowers and of
moonlight and the stars shining through the smoky sky, and she would
sometimes find herself being urged to the use of strange words, which
would make Mendel raise his head and cock his ears as though he were
listening to the very beat of her heart. To that no one in the world
had ever listened, and her life seemed very full and worthy when
Mendel in his childish fashion was awake to it. . . . Pentonville
seemed to suit Jacob. He looked almost fat and said the cocoa was very
good.

The time came for Mendel to leave school and Issy said he had better
be taken into the workshop. Harry wanted him in the timber-yard in
which he loafed away his days. Abramovich was for getting Mr. Jacobson
to take him into his office, for Mr. Jacobson never failed to ask
after the boy who painted the pictures. Now it so happened that Mendel
had found a bookshop, outside which he had discovered a life of W. P.
Frith, R.A. In daily visits over a period of three weeks he had read
it from cover to cover, the story of a poor boy who had become an
artist, rising to such fame that he had painted the portrait of the
Queen. There it was in print, and must be true. Mr. Jacobson's boy was
only in a story, but here it was set down in a book, with
reproductions of the artist's wonderful pictures--"The Railway
Station," "Derby Day." The book said they were wonderful. The book
spoke with reverence and enthusiasm of pictures and the men who
painted them.

With tremulous excitement he secretly produced his box of paints
again, and squeezed out the colours on to the plate he used for a
palette. He adored the colours and amused himself with painting smooth
strips of blue, yellow, green, red, orange, grey, for the sheer
delight of handling the delicious stuff. It was a new pleasure, the
joy of colours in themselves without reference to any object, or any
feeling inside himself except this simple thrilling delight. He could
forget everything in it, for it was his first taste of childish glee.
Nothing would ever be the same again. Nothing could ever again so
oppress and overwhelm him as distasteful and even pleasant things had
done in the past. He would be an artist, a wonderful artist, like W.
P. Frith, R.A.

So when he was called into the kitchen one night and they told him he
was to go into Mr. Jacobson's office, he looked as though their words
had no meaning for him, and he said:--

"I want to be an artist."

An artist? Nobody knew quite what that meant. Golda thought it meant
painting pictures, but she could not imagine a man devoting all his
time to it--a child's pastime.

"He means the drawing!" said Abramovich. "I had a friend at home who
used to paint the flowers on the cups."

"I'm going to be an artist," said Mendel.

"But you've got to make your money like everybody else," replied Issy.

Mendel retorted with details of what he could remember of the career
of his idol. Issy said that was a _Christlicher kop._ There weren't
such things as Jewish artists; whereon Harry threw in the word
"Rubinstein." Asked to explain what he meant, he did not know, but had
just remembered the name.

Abramovich said he thought Rubinstein was a conductor at the Opera,
and there were Jewish singers and actors.

"My father," said Harry, "won't hear of that. He won't have a son of
his making a public show of himself."

Mendel by this time was white in the face, and his eyes were glaring
out of his head. He knew that not one of them had understood his
meaning, and he felt that Issy was bent on having his way with him. He
was in despair at his helplessness, and at last, when he could endure
no more, he flung himself down on the floor and howled. Issy lost his
temper with him, picked him up, and carried him, kicking and biting,
upstairs, and flung him on his bed.

The subject was dropped for a time, but Mendel refused to eat, or to
sleep, or to leave the house. He was afraid that if he put his nose
outside the door Abramovich would pounce on him and drag him off to
Mr. Jacobson's office.

However, the matter could not be postponed for long, because money was
very scarce and the boy must be put into the way of providing for
himself. Golda asked Abramovich to find out what an artist was and how
much a week could be made at the trade. Abramovich came in one evening
with a note-book full of facts and figures. He had read of a picture
being sold for tens of thousands of pounds, and this had made a great
impression on him. Mendel was called down from the room in which he
had exiled himself.

"Well?" said Abramovich kindly. "So you want to be an artist? But
how?"

"I don't know. I shall paint pictures."

"But who will feed you? Who will buy you paints, brushes?"

"I shall sell my pictures."

"Where, then? How?"

"To the shops."

"Where are the shops? Tell me of any shop near here, for I don't know
a single one."

Again Mendel felt that they were too clever for him, and he was on the
brink of another fit of despair when, fortunately for him, Mr.
Macalister, a commercial traveller in furs, came in. When he was in
London he made a point of calling on the Kühlers, whom he liked, much
as he liked strong drink. He was a man of some attainments, a student
of Edinburgh, who had found the ordinary walks and the ordinary people
of life too tame for his chaotic and vigorous temper, and he went from
place to place collecting just such strange people as these Polacks,
as he used to call them. He looked for passion in men and women, and
accepted it gratefully and even greedily wherever he found it. . . .
He had red hair and a complexion like a white-heart cherry, with
little twinkling eyes as blue as forget-me-nots.

He kindled at once to the passion with which Mendel was bursting,
stooped over Golda's hand and kissed it--for he knew that was how
foreigners greeted a lady--and then he sat heavily waiting for the
situation to be explained to him. Mendel instinctively appealed to
him. . . . Oh yes! he knew what an artist was, and some painters had
made tidy fortunes, though they were not the best of them. There were
Reynolds, and Lawrence, and Raeburn, and Landseer, and some young
fellows at Glasgow, and Michael Angelo--a tidy lot, indeed. Never a
Jew, that he had heard of.

"I told you so!" said Abramovich.

Golda showed Mr. Macalister the boy's pictures, and he was genuinely
impressed, especially by a picture of three oranges in a basket.

"It's not," he said, "that they make you want to eat them, as that
they make you look at them as you look at oranges. I'll look closer at
every orange I see now. That's talent. Yes. That's talent. Aye."

Mendel was so grateful to him that he forgot the others and began to
point out to him how well the oranges were painted, with all their
fleshiness and rotundity brought out. And very soon they were all
laughing at him, and that made the meeting happier.

Mr. Macalister explained that in old days artists used to take boys
into their studios, but that now there were Schools of Art where only
very talented people could survive. He certainly thought that Mendel
ought to be given a chance, and if it were a question of money, he,
poor though he was, would be only too glad to help. Golda would not
hear of that, and Abramovich protested that, in an unhappy time like
this, he regarded himself as the representative of his unfortunate
friend.

The corner was turned. Feeling was now all with Mendel, and he went to
bed singing in head and heart: "I'm an artist! I'm an artist! I'm an
artist!"

* * * * *

So the ball was set rolling. Jacob, seen behind the bars, raised no
objection. He had had time to think, and, to the extent of his
capacity, availed himself of it. When he was told that his youngest
son wanted to be an artist and wept at the suggestion of anything
else, he thought: "Who am I to say 'Yea' or 'Nay'?" and he said "Yea."
"Let the boy have a little happiness while he may, for the Christians
are very powerful and will take all that he cherishes from him."

The question of ways and means was considered, and here Abe
Moscowitsch took charge. His business had prospered during his
enforced absence, and his bankruptcy had been very profitable. He was
a decent man, and anxious to make amends to his young wife and her
family for the trouble his adventurousness had brought on them. To
please her he took a new house with bow-windows and a garage, and to
please them he jumped at the opportunity of helping Mendel, and
offered to pay his fees at a School of Art. When the boy heard this he
ran to his brother-in-law's office and, before all his workmen, flung
his arms round his neck and embraced him.

"That'll do. That'll do," said Moscowitsch. "Don't forget us if you're
a rich man before I am."

"I shall never leave home," said Mendel. "I shall never marry. I shall
live all my days with my mother, painting."

There arose the difficulty that no one had ever heard of a School of
Art. Mr. Macalister was deputed to look into the matter. He inquired,
and was recommended to the Polytechnic as being cheap and good, and
the Polytechnic was decided on.

Mr. Kuit came in at the tail of all this excitement, and added to it
by saying that he was just off to America, first-class by the Cunard
Line, for he was going to start in style, live in style, and come back
in style. He was delighted to hear of the brilliant future opening up
before Mendel, and told wonderful stories of famous pictures that had
been stolen, cut out of their frames and taken away under the very
noses of the owners. He was wonderfully overdressed, not loudly or
vulgarly, but through his eagerness to be and to look first-class. He
produced a pack of cards and showed how he could shuffle them to suit
himself, and three times out of five, through the fineness of the
touch, he could "spot" a card. He was a wonderful man. The Kühlers
gaped at him, and Moscowitsch, in emulation, was led on to brag of his
smartness in business, and how he had thrice burned down his
timber-yard and made the insurance people pay up. Yet, though he
warmed up as he boasted, he lacked the magic of Mr. Kuit and could not
conceal the meanness of his deeds behind their glamour. He lumbered
along like a great bear behind Mr. Kuit, and was vexed because he
could not overtake him, and when the glittering little Jew, who seemed
more magician than thief, said he would give Mendel a new suit of
clothes for his entry into the world of art, Moscowitsch promised to
provide a new pair of boots. Mr. Kuit countered with two new hats,
Moscowitsch with underclothes. On they went in competition until
Mendel was magnificently equipped, and at last Moscowitsch laid two
new sovereigns on the table and said they were for the boy's
pocket-money. Not to be outdone, Mr. Kuit produced a five-pound note
and gave it to Golda to be put into the Post Office Savings Bank.

In her inmost heart Golda was alarmed. For the first time she began to
realize the vast powerful London with which she was surrounded. At
home, in Austria, people stole because they were poor, because they
were starving. She herself had often sent Harry and Issy out into the
market with a sack and a spiked stick with which to pick up potatoes
and cabbages and bread, but here the old simplicity was lacking. The
swagger and the magnitude of Mr. Kuit's operations and her
son-in-law's frauds alarmed her, and she felt that no good could come
of it. They belonged to some power which moved too fast for her, and
it was being invoked for Mendel, her youngest-born, her treasure.
Truly it was a black day that took Jacob from her. Where he was, there
was simplicity. Everything was kept in its place when he was in
authority. Everything was kept down on the earth. There was the good
smell of the earth in all his dealings, all his emotions. Never in him
was the easy fantastic excitement of Kuit and Moscowitsch . . . They
were mad. Surely they were mad. Their excitement infected everybody.
Golda could feel it creeping in her veins like a poison. It came from
the world to which these men belonged, the world of prison. That one
word expressed it all for Golda. She had only been out into it to go
to the prison, and to her that seemed to be the cold empty centre of
it all. The bustle and glitter of the streets led to the prison, and
she had always to fight to get back into her own life, where things
were simple and definite--ugly, maybe--but clear and actual. . . . And
now into that world of hectic excitement playing about the prison and
about Mendel was to go, to be she knew not what, to learn to play with
brushes and colours, to practise tricks which seemed to her not
essentially different from Mr. Kuit's sleight with the cards. She was
sure no good could come of it; but for the present the boy had his
happiness, and to that she yielded.



IV

FIRST LOVE

FOR Mendel every day became romantic, though he suffered tortures of
shyness and used to bolt like a rabbit through the doors of the
Polytechnic, rush upstairs to his easel, and never raise his eyes from
it except to gaze at the objects placed before him. He worked in a
frenzy, convinced that it was his business to translate the object on
to the canvas. When he had done that he felt that the object had no
further existence. It ought to vanish as completely as his consuming
interest in it. As a matter of fact, it never did vanish, but it was
lost in the praises of Mr. Sivwright, and the young women and old
ladies who attended the class. The first task set the class after he
joined it was a ginger-beer bottle, of which his rendering was
declared to be a marvel, even to the high light on the marble in the
neck of the bottle.

He was rather small for his age and was almost absurdly beautiful,
with his curly hair, round Austrian head, and amusing pricked ears.
His eyes were set very wide apart. They were blue. His nose was
straight, and very slightly tip-tilted, and his lips were as
delicately modelled as the petals of a rose. They were always
tremulous as he shrank under the vivid impressions that poured in on
him in bewildering profusion. He began to grow physically and
spiritually, though not at all mentally, and he lived in a state of
bewilderment, retaining shrewdness enough to cling to the necessary
plain fact that he was at the school to be a success, for if he failed
he would sink back into the already detestable world inhabited by Issy
and Harry.

He created quite a stir at the school. Mr. Sivwright, a Lancashire
Scotsman, whose youthful revolt against commerce and grime had carried
him in the direction of art only so far as the municipal school, said
he was an infant prodigy and made a show of him. To Mendel's disgust
Mr. Sivwright assured the other pupils that he was a Pole. This was
his first intimation that there was, in the splendid free Christian
world, a prejudice against Jews. He was rather shocked and disgusted,
for never in his life had he found occasion to call anything by other
than its right name. It took him weeks to conquer his shyness
sufficiently to protest.

"I am a Jew," he said to Mr. Sivwright. "Why do you call me a Pole?"

"Well," said Mr. Sivwright, "there's Chopin, you know, and Paderewski,
don't you know, and Kosciusko, and the Jews don't stand for anything
but money. And, after all, you do come from Poland."

"But I am a Jew."

"You don't look it, and there's some swing about being a Pole. There's
no swing about being a Jew. It stops dead, you know. I don't know why
it is, but it stops dead."

The words frightened Mendel. How awful it would be if he were to stop
dead, to reach the Polytechnic and to go no further!

He was soon taken beyond the Polytechnic, for Mr. Sivwright led him to
the National Gallery and showed him the treasures there. The boy was
at once prostrate before Greuze. Ah! there were softness, tenderness,
charm: all that he had lacked and longed for. It was in vain that Mr.
Sivwright took him to the Van Eycks and the Teniers and the Franz
Hals, striking an attitude and saying: "Fine! Dramatic! That's the
real stuff!" The boy would return to his Greuze and pour out on the
pretty maidens all the longings for emotion with which he was filled,
and the yearning seemed to him to be the irresistible torrent of art
which carried those who felt it to the pinnacles of fame. . . . Yet he
knew that Mr. Sivwright was a shoddy failure of a man, and he knew
that Mr. Sivwright's ecstasies were forced and had small connection
with the pictures before him. He also knew that he had not the least
desire to paint like Greuze, but he could not resist the fascination
of the pretty maidens and the gush of feeling he had in front of them.
The Italians he did not understand and Velasquez and El Greco repelled
him. Also, the pictures as a whole excited him so that they ran into
each other and he could not extricate them, and Greuze became his
stand-by. He felt safe with Greuze.

Every day he used to go home and tell his mother of the day's doings,
from the moment when he mounted the bus in the morning to the time
when he walked home in the evening. He gave her minute accounts of all
the people in the class, of the cheap restaurant where he had lunch,
of the marvels of the streets: the old women selling flowers at Oxford
Circus; the gorgeous shop-windows; the illuminated signs and
advertisements, green, red, and yellow; the theatres; the posters of
the comic men outside the music-halls; the rich people in their
motor-cars; the marvellous ladies in their silks and their furs; the
poor men selling matches; the scarlet soldiers and blue sailors; the
big policemen who stopped the traffic with their white hands; the
awful, endless desolation of Portland Place, with trees--actually
trees--at the end of it; the whirl, the glitter, the roar, the
splendour of London. And he used to mimic for her the strange people
he saw, the mincing ladies and the lordly shopwalkers, the tittering
girls and the men working in the streets. The more excited he was the
more depressed was Golda. What was it all for? Why could not people
live a decent quiet life? Why was all this whirligig revolving round
the prison? . . . But she smiled and laughed and applauded him, and
believed him when he said none of the Christians could draw as well as
he.

He began to win prizes. It became his whole object to beat the
Christians. What they told him to paint he would paint better than any
of them. And by sheer will and concentration he succeeded.

Mr. Sivwright said there was no holding him, and very soon declared he
had nothing more to learn.

This was taken by Mendel and his family to mean that he was now an
artist. In all good faith he established himself in a room below the
workshop at home, called it his studio, and set to work. For a few
months he painted apples, fish, oranges, portraits of his mother,
brothers, and sisters, and for a time was able to sell them among his
acquaintance. He had one or two commissions for portraits and could
always make a few shillings by painting from photographs. But
appreciation of art among his own people was limited; he soon came to
an end of it, and there was that other world calling to him. Art lay
beyond that other world. He felt sure of that. It lay beyond Mr.
Sivwright. If he stayed among his own people he would stop dead; for
he knew now that it was true that the Jews stopped dead.

And then to his horror he stopped. For no reason at all his skill, his
enthusiasm, his eagerness left him. He forced himself to paint,
transferred innumerable idiotic faces from photographs to cigar-box
lids, made his mother neglect her work to sit to him, bribed Lotte to
be his model, but hated and loathed everything that he did. He was
listless, sometimes feverish, sometimes leaden and cold. Often he
thought he was going to die--to die before anything had happened,
before anything had emerged from the chaos of his painful vivid
impressions.

To make things worse, his father came home and said that he would give
him six months in which to make his living, and at the end of that
time, if he had failed, he would have to go into the workshop.

He felt hopeless. He went to see Mr. Sivwright and poured out his woes
to him, who wrote a letter to Jacob saying that his son was a genius
and would be one of the greatest of painters. Jacob said: "What is a
genius? I do not know. I know what a man is, and a man works for his
living. In six months, if you can make fifteen shillings a week I will
believe in this painting. If not, what is there to believe? What will
you do when you are to marry, heh? Tell me that. Will your little
tubes of paint keep a wife, heh? Tell me that."

Mendel could say nothing. He could do nothing. He gave up even trying
to paint, for he might as well have played with mud-pies. He borrowed
money from his brothers and prowled about the streets, and went to the
National Gallery. Greuze meant nothing to him now. He began to feel,
very faintly, the force of Michael Angelo, but the rest only filled
him with despair. He knew nothing--nothing at all. He could not even
begin to see how the pictures were painted. They were miraculous and
detestable. . . . He went home and comforted himself with a little
picture of some apples on a plate. He had painted it two years before
in an ecstasy--a thrilling love for the form, the colour, the texture
of the fruit and the china. It was good. He knew it was good, but he
knew he could do nothing like it now--never again, perhaps.

And how disgusting the streets had become! Such a litter, such a
noise, such aimless, ugly people! He could understand his mother's
horror of them. Ah! she never failed him. To her his words were always
music, his presence was always light. Half-dead and miserable as he
was, she could know and love the aching heart of him that lived so
furiously behind all the death and the misery and the ashes of young
hopes that crusted him. She was like the sky and the trees. She was
like the young grass springing and waving so delicately in the wind.
She was like the water and the rolling hills. . . . He had discovered
these things at Hampstead, whither he had gone out of sheer
aimlessness. He had never been in the Tube, and one day, with a
shilling borrowed from Harry, it seemed appropriate to him to plunge
into the bowels of the earth. The oppression of the air, the roar of
the train, the flash of the stations as he moved through them, suited
his mood, fantastic and futile. He got out at Hampstead.

It was his first sight of the country. He could hardly move at first
for emotion. He found himself laughing, and he stooped and touched the
grass tenderly, almost timidly, as though he were afraid of hurting
it. He was fearful at first of walking on it, but that seemed to him
childish, and he strode along with his quick, light-footed stride and
lost himself in the willow groves. He made a posy of wild-flowers and
took them back to his mother, carrying them unashamedly in his hand,
entirely oblivious of the smiles of the passers-by. He knew he could
not tell his mother of the happiness of that day, and the flowers
could say more than any words.

Yet the happiness only made his misery more acute. He suffered
terribly from the pious narrowness of his home, the restricted,
cramped life of his brothers and sisters, who seemed to him to be
stealing such life as they had from the religious observances to which
they were bound by their father's rigid will. Prayers at home, prayers
in the synagogue: the dreadful monotony of the home, of the talk, of
the squabbles: human life forced to be as dull as that of the God who
no longer interfered in human life. . . . There was a tragedy in the
street. There had been a scandal. A young Rabbi, a gloriously handsome
creature, who sang in the synagogue, had fallen in love with a little
girl of fourteen who lived opposite the Kühlers. Golda had watched the
intrigue from her windows, and she said it was the girl's fault. The
Rabbi used to go every day when her father was out and she used to let
him in. Jacob wrote to the girl's father, and the Rabbi left his
lodgings and took a room over a little restaurant round the corner. He
had his dinner and went upstairs and sat up all night singing, in his
lovely tenor voice, love songs and religious chants, so sweetly that
the neighbours threw their windows open and there was a little crowd
of people in the street listening. And in the morning they found him
with his throat cut.

"It was the girl's fault," said Golda, but Jacob said: "A man should
know better than to melt when a little girl practises her eyes on
him."

This tragedy relaxed the nervous strain which had been set up in
Mendel by his troubles. New forces stirred in him which often made him
hectic and light-headed. Women changed their character for him. They
were no longer soothing ministrants, but creatures charged with a
mysterious, a maddening charm. He trembled at the rustle of their
skirts and his eyes were held riveted by their movements. He was
suffocated by his new curiosity about them.

Sometimes, in his despair over his painting and the apparently
complete disappearance of his talent, he would fill in the day in his
father's workshop, stretching rabbit-skins on a board. Girls and men
worked together, busily, quietly, dexterously, for the most part in
silence, for they were paid by the piece and were unwilling to waste
time. There was a girl who had just been taken into the workshop to
learn the trade. She was small and plump and swarthy, but her face was
beautiful, the colour of rich old ivory. Her eyes were black and
golden from a ruddy tinge in her eyelashes. Her lips were full and
pouting, and she had long blue-black hair, which she was always
tossing back over her shoulder. When Mendel was there she rarely took
her eyes off him, and even when her head was bent he could feel that
she was watching him.

He waited for her one evening, and with his knees almost knocking
together he asked if she would come to his studio and let him draw
her. With a silly giggle she said she would come, and she ran away
before he could get out another word.

The next evening he waited in his studio for her, but she did not
come. So again the next and the next, and it was a whole week before
she knocked at the door. He pulled her in. Neither could speak a word.
At last he stammered out:

"I--I haven't got my drawing things ready."

"I don't mind," she said, and she gave a little shiver.

"Are you cold?" he asked, and he touched her neck.

She threw up her head, seemed to fall towards him, and their lips met.

Thrilling and sweet were the hours they spent, lost in the miracle of
desire, finding themselves again, laughing happily, weeping happily,
breaking through into the enchanted world, where the few words that
either knew had lost their meaning. They were hardly conscious of each
other. They knew nothing of each other, and wished to know nothing
except the lovely mystery they shared. It was some time before he even
knew her name, or where she lived, or what her people were. She
existed for him only in the enchantment she brought into his life, in
the release from his burden, in the marvellous free life of the body.
Royal he felt, like a king, like a master, and she was a willing
slave. From home she would steal good things to eat, and she would sit
with shining eyes watching him eat; and then she would wait until he
had need of her. . . . Strange, silent, happy hours they spent, free
together in the dark little room, free as birds in their nest, happy
in warm contact, utterly quiescent, utterly oblivious. . . .

Soon their silence became oppressive to them, but neither could break
it, so far beyond their years and their childish minds was the
experience in which they were joined. When the first ecstasy passed
and they became conscious and deliberate in their delight, they had
unhappy moments, to escape from which he began to draw her. Into this
work poured a strong cool passion altogether new to him, a joy so
magnificent that he would forget her altogether. He was tyrannical,
and kept her so still that she would almost weep from fatigue and
boredom. But he was not satisfied until he had drawn every line of
her, and had translated her from the world of the body to the world of
vision and the spirit. He knew nothing of that. He was only concerned
to draw her as he had drawn the ginger-beer bottle at the Polytechnic.
Certain parts of her body--her little budding breasts and her round
arms--especially delighted him, and he drew them over and over again.
Her head he drew twenty times, and he found a shop in the West End
where he could sell every one. And each time he bought her a little
present.

She was not satisfied with that. She wanted to display him to her
friends. She wanted him to take her to music-halls and to join the
parade of boys and girls. He refused. That would be profanation. He
and she had nothing to do with the world. He and she were the world.
Outside it was only his drawing. He could not see that she was unable
to share it. Did he not draw her? Did he dream of drawing anything but
her? . . . . To go from that to restaurants, the lascivious
pleasantries of the streets, the garish music-halls, was to him
unthinkable.

She said he cared more for his drawing than for her, and indeed he
would sometimes draw for a couple of hours and then kiss her almost
absent-mindedly, just as she was going. He was so happy and satisfied
and could not imagine her being anything less, or that she might wish
to express in music-halls and "fun" what he expressed in his work.

He felt gloriously confident, and naïvely told his mother how happy he
was. Everything had come back. He could draw better than ever. He
would be a great artist.

Once more he took to painting in the kitchen. The studio was dedicated
to the girl, Sara, who came to him in spite of her disappointment. He
had spoiled her for other boys.

He painted all day long in the kitchen, and his life became ordered
and regular. He went for a walk in the morning, then worked all day
long until the workpeople began to clatter downstairs, when he would
pack up his paint-box and run up to the studio to wait for Sara to
come tapping softly at his door.

Golda was overjoyed at his new happiness and the budding manhood in
him, but she knew that this springtime of his youth could not be
without a cause. She knew that he was in love and was fearful of
consequences, and dreaded his being fatally entangled. She kept watch
and saw Sara stealthily leave the house hours after the other
workpeople had gone. She told Jacob, and Sara was dismissed and
forbidden ever to come near the house again.



V

A TURNING-POINT

AT first Mendel hardly noticed the passing of Sara. He waited
anxiously for her to come, but when she never appeared he went on
working, only gradually to discover that the first glorious impulse
had faded away. However, the habit of regular work was strong with
him, and he could go on like a carpenter or a mason or any other good
journeyman. But there was no one to buy what he produced, and his
father began to talk gloomily and ominously of the workshop.

"Never!" said Mendel. "If I am not a great artist by the time I am
twenty-three I will come and work. If I have done nothing by the time
I am twenty-three I shall know that I am no good."

"I can see no reason," said Jacob, "why you should not work like any
other man and paint in your spare time. Issy is a good dancer in his
spare time, and Harry is good at the boxing. Why should you not paint
in your spare time and work like an honest man?"

Mendel turned on his father and rent him.

"You do not know what work is. You work with your hands. Yes. But do
you ever work till your head swims, and your eyes ache because they
can see more inside than they can outside? If I cannot paint I shall
die. I shall be like a bird that cannot sing, like a woman that has no
child, like a man that has no strength. I tell you I shall die if I
cannot paint."

"Yes, he will die," said Golda. "He will surely die."

"He will die of starvation if he goes on painting," replied Jacob.

"And if you had not been able to sleep you would have died of
starvation for all that work ever did for you," cried Golda, convinced
that Mendel was speaking the truth.

Shortly before this crisis Mendel had discovered a further aspect of
the Christian world. A good young man from an Oxford settlement had
heard of him and had sought him out. This young man's name was Edward
Tufnell. He was the son of a rich Northern manufacturer, and he
believed that the cultured classes owed something to the masses. He
believed there must be mute, inglorious Miltons in the slums, and that
they only needed fertilization. When, therefore, he heard of the poor
boy who sat in his mother's kitchen painting oranges and fish and
onions, he was excited to bring the prodigy within reach of culture.
He made him attend lectures on poetry and French classes. These duties
gave Mendel a good excuse for escaping from home in the evenings, and
he attended the classes, but hardly understood a word of what was
said. He liked and admired Edward Tufnell, who was very nearly what he
imagined a gentleman to be--generous and kind, and quick to appreciate
the human quality of any fellow-creature, no matter what his outward
aspect might be. Edward Tufnell treated Golda exactly as he would have
treated an elderly duchess.

To Edward Tufnell, therefore, Mendel bore his difficulty, and Edward
took infinite pains and at last, through his interest with the Bishop
of Stepney, procured him a situation in a stained-glass factory, where
he was set to trace cartoons of the Virgin Mary and S. John the
Baptist and other figures of whom he had never heard. But, though he
had never heard of them, yet he understood that they were figures
worthy of respect, and it shocked him to hear the workmen say: "Billy,
chuck us down another Mary," or "Jack, heave up that there J. C.
. . ." He was acutely miserable. To draw without impulse or delight
was torture to him, and he could not put pencil to paper without a
thrill of eagerness and desire, which was immediately baffled when his
pencil had to follow out the conventional lines of the stained-glass
windows. And the draughtsmen with whom he worked were empty,
foul-mouthed men, who seemed to strive to give the impression that
they lived only for the mean pleasures of the flesh. They knew
nothing, nothing at all, and he hated them.

He was paid five shillings a week, and was told that if he behaved
himself, by the time he was twenty or twenty-one he would be making
thirty shillings a week. Jacob was very pleased with this prospect,
and told his unhappy son that he would soon settle down to it, and he
even began to upbraid him for not painting in the evenings. Mendel
could not touch his brushes. He tried hard to think of himself as an
ordinary working boy, and he endeavoured to pursue the pleasures of
his kind. He went with Harry to boxing matches and joined him in the
raffish pleasures of the streets, which, however, left him weary and
disgusted. He had known something truer and finer, and he could not
help a little despising Harry, who pursued girls as game, and directly
they were kindled and moved towards him he lost interest in them, and,
indeed, was rather horrified by them.

Strange in contrast was Mendel's relation with Edward Tufnell, who was
entirely innocent and could see nothing in his protégé but a touching
sensitiveness to beauty. The urchin with his complete and unoffended
knowledge of the life of the gutter was hidden from him. Edward found,
and was rejoiced to find, that the boy was sensitive to intellectual
beauty and to ideas. He gave him poetry to read--Keats and the odes of
Milton--and was very happy to explain to him the outlines of
Christianity and the difference that the coming of Christ had made to
the world. He did not aim at making a convert, but only at feeding the
boy's appetite for tenderness and kindness and all fair things. Mendel
was striving most loyally to be resigned to his horrible fate, and the
teachings of Christ seemed to fortify his endeavour. When, therefore,
he asked if he might read the New Testament, Edward lent it to him
without misgiving.

The result was disastrous. Mendel pored over the book and it seemed to
let light into his darkness. He read of the conversion of S. Paul and
his own illumination was apparently no less complete. The notion of
holding out the other cheek appealed to him, for he felt that the
whole world was his enemy. It had insulted him with five shillings a
week, and if he were meek it would presently add another five. . . .
And then what a prospect it opened up of a world where people loved
each other and treated each other kindly and lived without the rasping
anger and suspicion and jealousy that filled his home.

He went to the National Gallery and began to understand the Italians.
He would become a Christian and paint Madonnas, mothers suckling their
children, with kindly saints like Edward Tufnell looking on. Yet the
new spirituality jarred with his life at home and was not strong
enough to combat it. That life contained a quality as essential to him
as air. It stank in his nostrils, but it was the food of his spirit
and he could not, though his new enthusiasm bade him do it,
sentimentalize his relation with his mother. Her relation with his
father forbade it, and his father cast a shadow over the greater life
illuminated by the figure of Christ. Yet because of the pictures he
could not abandon the struggle, and he tried to find support by
proselytizing Harry. That roisterer had begun to find his life very
unsatisfying, and he gulped down the new idea simply because it was
new. He got drunk on it, refused to go to the synagogue, and performed
a number of acts that he thought Christian, as wasting his money on
useless and hideous presents for his mother and sisters. Also he took
a delight in talking of the Messiah, and ascribed all the misfortunes
of the family to its adherence to an exploded faith.

Jacob was furious. This soft Christian nonsense was revolting to him.

"Say another word," he shouted, "say another word and I turn you out
of the house. Jeshua! I will tell you. In America it has been proved,
absolutely proved in a court of law, that this Jeshua was nothing
better than a pimp. It was proved by a very learned Rabbi before a
Christian judge, and when the judge saw that it was proved he broke
down and wept like a woman."

"I've only your word for it," said Harry, already rather dashed.

"I tell you I've seen it in print. If you like I will send for the
book to America."

Harry held his peace. That settled it for him, and even Mendel was
shaken by the storm his Christian inclinations had let loose.

"The Christians are liars," said Jacob. "Every one of them is a liar,
and they eat filth."

There was a passion of belief in his father which Mendel could not but
honour, and that other faith, so far as he knew, was held but mildly.
It was charming in its results, but its spirit was unsatisfying to him
who had been bred on stronger fare. All the same, his attitude towards
his father's authority was changed. His simple acceptance was shaken,
and he was in revolt against the repression of his dearest desires
enjoined by it. His tongue was loosed and he began to talk
enthusiastically to Edward Tufnell about his ambitions.

"I beat them all at the school," he used to say, "and I would never
let anybody beat me. I can see more clearly than anybody. I can see
colour where they can see none, and shadows where they can see none.
And when I have painted them, then they can see them."

He was entirely unconscious in his egoism, and Edward was so generous
a creature that he was not shocked or offended by it. He was a Quaker
and as simple in his faith as a peasant, and he was young enough to
know how difficult it was for the boy to expose his thoughts. After he
had listened to his outpourings he would lead the boy on to talk of
his experiences at the stained-glass factory. Mendel had a wonderful
gift of vivid narration. Everything was so real to him, he had no
reason to respect anything in the outside world unless it compelled
the homage of his instinct, and in his broken Cockney English he could
give the most dramatic descriptions of everything he saw and did. When
he was engaged upon such tales, helping them out with wonderful
mimicry, he had no shyness and laid bare his feelings as though they
were also a part of the external scene.

Edward knew nothing at all about painting, but he could respond to
quality in a human being, and he recognized that here was no ordinary
boy. His first impulse was to rescue him from his surroundings,
support him, send him to school. But what a Hell that would be for the
sensitive foreigner brought face to face with the ruthless force of an
ancient tradition! Edward himself had suffered enough from being such
an oddity as a Quaker, but to send this Jew, who had learned nothing
and had none but his natural manners, to a Public School would be an
act of cruelty. Besides, the boy would not hear of being parted from
his mother, whom he was never tired of praising. He told Edward quite
solemnly that his mother had said things far more beautiful than
anything in Keats or Milton and that no book could ever have held
anything more moving than her descriptions of the life at home in
Austria, with the Jews in their gaberdines with their long curls
hanging by their ears, and the foolish peasants in their bright
clothes, and the splendid officers who clapped children into prison if
they splashed their great shining boots with mud. . . . As he listened
Edward felt more and more convinced that it was his duty not to allow
this rich nature to be swallowed up in the grey squalor of the slums.
He had begun his philanthropic work believing that Oxford had much to
give to the poor, and he had come in time to realize that the world of
which Oxford was the romantic symbol stood sorely in need of much that
the poor had to give. Mendel confirmed and strengthened an impression
which had for some time been disturbing Edward's peace of mind. He
felt that if he could help the boy he would be translating his
perception into action.

He discussed the matter with his friends, who smiled at his solemnity.
"Dear old Edward" was always a joke to them, so seriously did he take
the problems with which he was faced. They said that, of course, if
the boy was a genius he would find his way out and would be all the
greater for the struggle. Edward protested that young talent was
easily snuffed out, but again they laughed and said that if it were so
then it was no great loss. Edward then said that the boy had a fine
nature which might easily be crippled by evil circumstances. That they
refused to believe either, and Edward made no progress until he told
his tale to a rich young Jew who had lately come to the settlement.
This young man, Maurice Birnbaum, was at once fired. His father was a
member of a committee for aiding young Jews of talent. With Edward he
swooped down on the Kühlers in his motor-car, and Golda showed him all
her son's work, from the watch he drew at the age of three to a study
of Sara's breasts. Birnbaum knew no Yiddish, and Golda scorned a Jew
who could not speak the language of his race. He was also extremely
gauche and talked to her rather in the manner of a parliamentary
candidate canvassing for votes. He patronized her and told her that
her son had talent, but that she must not expect Fortune to wait on
him immediately. "A Christian Jew!" said Golda scornfully when he had
gone. "He stinks of money and shell-fish. If you are going to eat
pork, eat till the grease runs down your chin." And she had a sudden
horror that Mendel might grow like that, all flesh and withered,
uneasy spirit. She felt inclined to destroy all the pictures, and when
Mendel came in she told him of her visitor and of her alarm, and he
reassured her, saying: "What I am I will always be, for without you I
am nothing. . . ." It was only from Mendel that Golda had such
sayings. No one else ever acknowledged in words her quality or her
power for sweetness in their lives, and she was terrified at the
thought of his going. The big motor-car would come and take him and
all his pictures away, she imagined, and he would be swept up into
glittering circles of which alone he was worthy, though they were
quite unworthy of him. And some rich woman would be enraptured with
him, and she would take him to her arms and her bed, and he would be
lost for ever. Mendel told her it meant nothing, that such people
forgot those who were poor and never really helped them, because they
could never know what it was like to need help: but he had a
premonition that he had done with the stained-glass factory. He took
up his brushes again and cleaned them, and chattered gaily of the
things he would do when the motor-car fetched him and he was asked to
paint the portraits of lords and millionaires.

Edward inquired further of Birnbaum, and he brought Mendel a paper to
fill up, stating his age, circumstances, parentage, etc., etc. He was
to send this, with a letter, to Sir Julius Fleischmann, who was a
famous financier and connoisseur. Edward drafted a letter, but Mendel
found it servile, and wrote as follows:--

DEAR SIR,--
    I send you my paper filled up. My father is a poor man and I wish
to be a painter. I have won prizes at a school, but I cannot make my
living by my art. I am not asking for charity. I am only asking that
my work shall be judged. If it is good painting, then let me paint.
Give me my opportunity, please. If it is bad painting, then it is no
great matter, and I will go on until I can paint well, and then I will
show you my work again. If money is given me I will pay every penny of
it back when I am as successful as I shall be. I am sending three
drawings and two paintings.
    Yours faithfully,
        MENDEL KÜHLER.

This letter was sent enclosed in a parcel made up with trembling
hands. He knew that the great moment had come, that at last he had
attained the desired contact with the outside world. He was wildly
elated, and had fantastic and absurd visions of Sir Julius himself
driving down at once in his motor-car, knocking at the door and
saying: "Does Mr. Mendel Kühler live here?" Then he would enter and
embrace him and cry: "You are a great artist." And he would turn to
Golda and say: "You are the mother of a great artist. You shall no
longer live in poverty." And he would sit down and write a cheque for
a hundred pounds. The story swelled and swelled like a balloon. It
rose and soared aloft with Mendel clinging desperately to it. But
every now and then it came swooping down to earth again, and then
Mendel would imagine his drawings and pictures being sent back without
a word. Elated or despondent, he passed through life in a dream, and
was hardly conscious of his surroundings either at the factory or at
home.

This went on for weeks, during which he composed letters of savage
insult to Sir Julius, to Birnbaum, and even to Edward Tufnell, telling
them that he needed no help, that he was a Jewish artist and would
stay among the Jews, the real Jews, those who kept themselves to
themselves and to the faith of their fathers, and had no truck with
the light and frivolous world outside. But he tore all these letters
up, for he knew that the answer he desired would come.

At last one morning there was a note for him. The secretary of the
committee wrote asking him to take more specimens of his work to Mr.
Edgar Froitzheim, the famous artist, at his studio in Hampstead.
Mendel had never heard of Froitzheim, but it seemed to him an enormous
step towards fame to be going to see a real artist in a real studio.
He felt happier, too, at having this intermediary appointed, for he
knew that artists always knew each other by instinct and helped each
other for the sake of the work they loved.

Golda made him put on his best clothes, and washed him and brushed his
hair. He packed up half a dozen drawings and his picture of the
apples, which had been too precious to trust to the post or to Sir
Julius, and he set out for Hampstead. To cool his excitement he walked
across the Heath, remembering vividly the day when he had first seen
it, and again it seemed to him a place of freedom and surpassing
loveliness, the sweet, comfortable quality of the grass only
accentuated by the bare patches of ground, which were here and there
of an amazing colour, purple and brown. A rain-cloud came up on the
gusty wind and shed its slanting shower, and its shadow fell on the
rounding slopes. He became aware of the form of the Heath beneath its
verdure and colour. Between himself and the scene he felt an intimacy,
as though he had known it always and would always know it. It amused
him and filled him with a pleasant glee, which, when it passed, left
him shy for the encounter with the famous Froitzheim, the arbiter of
his immediate fortunes.



VI

EDGAR FROITZHEIM AND OTHERS

VERY bright was the brass on Mr. Froitzheim's front door, very bright
the face of the smiling maid who opened it. Mendel blushed and
stammered inaudibly.

"Will you come in?" said the maid, "and I will ask Mr. Froitzheim."

She left Mendel in the hall and disappeared. This was a very large
house, marvellously clean and light and airy. The wallpaper and the
woodwork were white. On the stairs was a brilliant blue carpet.
Through the window at the end of the passage were seen trees and a
vast panorama of London--roofs, chimneys, steeples, domes--under a
shifting pall of blue smoke.

The maid went into the studio and told Mr. Froitzheim that a boy was
waiting for him--a boy who looked like an Italian. She thought he
might be selling images, and he had a package under his arm. Mr.
Froitzheim told her to bring the visitor in. He was arranging
draperies, Persian and Indian coats, yellow and red and blue, and he
did not look up when Mendel was shown in. He was a little dark Jew,
neat and dapper in figure and very sprucely dressed, but so Oriental
that he looked out of place in Western clothes. But that impression
was soon lost in Mendel's awe of the studio. Here was a place where
real pictures were painted. There were easels, a table full of paints,
an etching plant, a model's throne, a lay figure, pictures on the
walls, stacks of pictures behind the door, and the little man standing
there, fingering the silks, was a real artist.

"Hullo, boy!" said Mr. Froitzheim.

"M-Mendel Kühler."

"Something to show me, eh?"

"Ye-yes. Pictures."

"What did you say your name was?"

"Kühler. Mendel Kühler."

"Oh yes. I remember. You know Maurice Birnbaum?"

"No."

"Eh? . . . What do you think of these? Lovely, eh? Bought them in
India. You should go there. You don't know what sunlight is until
you've been there--to the East. Ah, the East! Fills you with sunlight,
opens your eyes to colour. . . . Persian prints! What do you think of
these?"

He showed Mendel a whole series of exquisite things which moved him so
profoundly that he forgot altogether why he had come and began to
stammer out his rapture, a condition of delight to which Mr.
Froitzheim was so unaccustomed that he stepped back and stared at his
visitor. There was a glow in the boy's face which gave it a seraphic
expression. Mr. Froitzheim tiptoed to the door and called, "Edith!
Edith!" And his wife came rustling in. She was a thin little woman
with a friendly smile and an air of being only too amiable for a world
that needed sadly little of the kindness with which she was bursting.
They stood by the door and talked in whispers, and Mendel was brought
back to earth by hearing her say, "Poor child!" He knew she meant
himself, and his inclination was to fly from the room, but they barred
the door. She came undulating towards him, and she seemed to him
terrifyingly beautiful, the most lovely lady he had ever seen. He
thought Mr. Froitzheim must be a very wonderful artist to have such a
studio, such a house, and such a woman to live with him.

Mrs. Froitzheim made him sit down and drew his attention to a bowl of
flowers--tulips and daffodils. Mendel touched them with his fingers,
lovingly caressed the fleshy petals of a tulip. Mrs. Froitzheim went
over to her husband and whispered to him, who said:--

"Yes. Yes. It is true. He responds to beauty like a flower to the
sun."

In the centre of the studio was a large picture nearly finished of
three children and a rocking-horse, cleverly and realistically
painted. Mendel looked at it enviously, with a sinking in the pit of
his stomach, partly because he could not like it, and partly because
he felt how impossible it would be for him to cover so vast a canvas.

"Like it?" said Mr. Froitzheim, wheeling it about to catch the best
light.

"Yes," said Mendel, horrified at his own insincerity and unhappy at
the vague notion possessing him that the picture was too large for
him, whose notion of art was concentration upon an object until by
some inexplicable process it had yielded up its beauty in paint.
Composing and making pictures he could not understand.

"Well, well," said Mr. Froitzheim. "So you want to be an artist? Art,
as Michael Angelo said, is a music and mystery that very few are
privileged to understand. I have been asked by the committee to give
my opinion, and I feel that it is a serious responsibility. It is no
light thing to advise a young man to take up an artistic career."

"Yes, Edgar, that is very true," said his wife, with a wide reassuring
smile at Mendel, whom she thought a very charming, very touching
little figure, standing there drinking in the words as they fell from
Edgar's lips.

Mr. Froitzheim produced a pair of spectacles and balanced them on his
nose.

"It is a serious thing, not only for the sake of the young man but
also for Art's sake. The sense of beauty is a dangerous possession. It
is like a razor, safe enough when it is sharp, injurious when it is
blunted. Your future, it seems, depends upon my word. I am to say
whether I think your work promising enough to justify your being sent
to a school. I asked you to bring more of your work to confirm the
impression made by what I have already seen."

He spoke in an alert, sibilant voice so quickly that his words whirled
through Mendel's mind and conveyed very little meaning. Only the words
"a music and mystery" lingered and grew. They were such lovely words,
and expressed for him something very living in his experience,
something that lay, as he would have said, below his heart. He
loosened the string of his untidy parcel and took out the picture of
the apples. There were music and mystery in it, and he held it very
lovingly as he offered it to Mrs. Froitzheim, much as she had just
offered him the bowl of flowers.

"Very well painted indeed," said she, and Mendel winced. He turned to
the artist as to an equal, expecting not so much praise as
recognition. Mr. Froitzheim took the picture from him and went near
the window. He became more solemn than ever.

"This is much better than the drawings. Have you always painted
still-life?"

"I painted what there was at home."

"Have you studied the still-life in the galleries? Do you know
Fantin-Latour's work?"

"No," said Mendel blankly.

"Of course, there is no doubt that you must go on."

Mendel had never had any doubt of it, and he began to feel more at his
ease. That was settled then. There would be no more factory for him.
He was to be an artist, a great artist. He knew that Mr. Froitzheim
was more excited than he let himself appear. The apples could no more
be denied than the sun outside or the flowers on the table. . . . He
looked with more interest at Mr. Froitzheim's picture. It amused him,
much as the drawings in the illustrated papers amused him, and he was
pleased with the quality of the paint. He was still alarmed by the
hugeness of it. His eyes could not focus it, nor could his mind grasp
the conception.

Mrs. Froitzheim asked him to stay to tea and encouraged him to talk,
and he told her in his vivid childish way about Golda and Issy and
Harry and Leah and Lotte. She found him delightfully romantic and told
him that he must not be afraid to come again, and that they would be
only too glad to help him. Mr. Froitzheim said:--

"I will write to the committee. There is only one school in London,
the Detmold. You should begin there next term, six weeks from now.
Don't be afraid, work hard, and we will make an artist of you. In time
to come we shall be proud of you. I will write to your mother, and one
of these days I will give myself the pleasure of calling on her. . . .
You must come and see me again, and I will take you to see pictures."

Mendel was in too much of a whirl to remember to say "Thank you." He
had an enormous reverence for Mr. Froitzheim as a real artist, but as
a man he instinctively distrusted him. It takes a Jew to catch a Jew,
and Mendel scented in Mr. Froitzheim the Jew turned Englishman and
prosperous gentleman. And in his childish confidence he was aware of
uneasiness in his host, but of course Mr. Froitzheim could easily bear
down that impression, though he could not obliterate it. He was an
advanced artist and was just settling down after an audacious youth.
He had been one of a band of pioneers who had defied the Royal
Academy, and he had reached the awkward age in a pioneer's life when
he is forced to realize that there are people younger than himself. He
believed in his "movement," and wished it to continue on the lines
laid down by himself and his friends. To achieve this he deemed it his
business to be an influence among the young people and to see that
they were properly shepherded into the Detmold, there to learn the
gospel according to S. Ingres. He had suffered so much from being a
Jew, had been tortured with doubts as to whether he were not a mere
calculating fantastic, and here in this boy's work he had found a
quality which took his mind back to his own early enthusiasm. That
seemed so long ago that he was shocked and unhappy, and hid his
feelings behind the solemnity which he had developed to overawe the
easy, comfortable, and well-mannered Englishmen among whom he worked
for the cause of art.

He was the first self-deceiver Mendel had met, and the encounter
disturbed him greatly and depressed him not a little, so that he was
rather overawed than elated by the prospect in front of him. He felt
strangely flung back upon himself, and that this help given to him was
not really help. He was still, as always, utterly alone with his
obscure desperate purpose for sole companion. Nobody knew about that
purpose, since he could never define it except in his work, and that
to other people was simply something to be looked at with pleasure or
indifference, as it happened. He used to try and explain it to his
mother, and she used to nod her head and say: "Yes. Yes. I understand.
That is God. He is behind everybody, though it is given to few to know
it. It is given to you, and God has chosen you, as He chose Samuel.
. . . Yes. Yes. God has chosen you." And he found it a relief
sometimes to think that God had chosen him, though he was disturbed to
find Golda much less moved by that idea than by the letter which Mr.
Froitzheim wrote to her, in which he said that her son had a very rare
talent, a very beautiful nature, and that a day would come when she
would be proud of his fame.

Yet there were unhappy days of waiting. Jacob would not hear of his
leaving the factory until everything was settled, and when Mendel told
the foreman he was probably going to leave to be an artist, that
worthy drew the most horrible picture of the artist's life as a
mixture of debauchery and starvation, and told a story of a friend of
his, a marvellous sculptor, who had come down to carving urns for
graves--all through the drink and the models; much better, he said, to
stick to a certain income and the saints.

At last Maurice Birnbaum came in his motor-car. Everything was
settled. The fees at the Detmold would be paid as long as the reports
were satisfactory, and Mendel would be allowed five shillings a week
pocket-money, but he must be well-behaved and clean, and he must read
good literature and learn to write good English. "I will see to that,"
said Maurice. "I am to take him now with some of his work to see Sir
Julius. His fortune is made, Mrs. Kühler. Isn't it wonderful? He is a
genius. He has the world at his feet. Everything is open to him. I
have been to Oxford, Mrs. Kühler, but I shall never have anything like
the opportunities that he will have. It is marvellous to think of his
drawing like that in your kitchen." Maurice was really excited. His
heart was as full of kindness as a honeycomb of honey, but he had no
tact. His words fell on Golda and Mendel like hailstones. They nipped
and stung and chilled. Golda looked at Mendel, he at her, and they
stood ashamed. "We must hurry," said Maurice. "Sir Julius must not be
kept waiting. He is a stickler for punctuality."

As a matter of fact, Maurice only knew Sir Julius officially. His
family had never been admitted to the society in which Sir Julius was
a power and a light. The entrance to the house of the millionaire was
a far greater event to him than it was to Mendel.

The splendid motor-car rolled through the wonderful crowded streets,
Maurice fussing and telling Mendel to take care his parcel did not
scratch the paint, and swung up past the Polytechnic into the
desolation of Portland Place. At a corner house they stopped. The
double door was swung open by two powdered footmen, and by the inner
door stood a bald, rubicund butler. Maurice gave his name, told Mendel
to wait, and followed the butler up a magnificent marble staircase
with an ormolu balustrade. Mendel was left standing with his parcel,
while one of the footmen mounted guard over him. He stood there for a
long time, still ashamed, bewildered, smelling money, money, money,
until he reeled. It made him think of Mr. Kuit, who alone of his
acquaintance could have been at his ease in such splendour. He felt
beggarly, but he was stiffened in his pride.

The butler appeared presently and conducted him upstairs to a vast
apartment all crystal and cloth of gold. In the far corner sat a group
of people, among whom, in his confusion, Mendel could only distinguish
Maurice Birnbaum and a small, wrinkled, bald old man with a beard,
whose eyes were quick and black, peering out from under the yellow
skull, peering out and taking nothing in. For the purposes of taking
in his nose seemed more than sufficient. It was like a beak, like an
inverted scoop. And yet his features were not so very different from
those of the old men at home whom Mendel reverenced. There was a
strange dignity in them, yet not a trace of the fine quality of the
old faces he loved that looked so sorrowfully out on the world, and
through their eyes and through every line seemed to absorb from the
world all its suffering, all its vileness, and to transmute it into
strong human beauty. There were some women present, but they made no
impression whatever on Mendel, who was entirely occupied with Sir
Julius and with resisting the feeling of helplessness with which he
was inspired in his presence. He heard Maurice Birnbaum talking about
him, describing his life, his mother's kitchen, the street where he
lived, and then he was told to exhibit his pictures. A footman
appeared and put out a chair for him, and on this, one after another,
he placed his drawings and pictures. Not a word was said. Even the
apples were received in silence. Sir Julius gave a grunt and began to
talk to one of the women. Maurice gave Mendel to understand that the
interview was over, and the poor boy was conducted downstairs by the
butler. He had not a penny in his pocket and had to walk all the way
home with his parcel, which his arms were hardly long enough to hold.



VII

THE DETMOLD

FLUNG into the art school, he was like a leggy colt in a new field,
very shy of it at first, of the trees in the hedges, of the shadows
cast by the trees. This place was very different from the Polytechnic.
There were fewer old ladies, and more boys of his own age. The
teachers were Professors, and the pupils held them in awe and respect.
There were real models in the life-class, male and female, and the
students, male and female, worked together. No ginger-beer bottles
here, where art was a practical business. The school existed for the
purpose of teaching the craft of making pictures, and its law was that
the basis of the mystery was drawing.

Mendel's first attitude towards the other students was that he was
there to beat them all. He would swell with eagerness and enthusiasm,
and tell himself that he had something that they all lacked. He would
watch their movements, their heads bending over their work, their
hands scratching away at the paper, and he could see that they had
none of them the vigour that was in himself. And by way of showing how
much stronger he was he would use his pencil almost as though it were
a chisel and his paper a block of stone out of which he was to carve
the likeness of the model. He was rudely taken down when the Professor
stood and stared with his melancholy eyes at his production and
said:--

"Is that the best you can do?"

"Yes."

"Why do it?"

This was a stock phrase of the Professor's, but Mendel did not know
that, and he was ashamed and outraged when the class tittered.

"No," said the Professor. "I don't know what that is. It certainly
isn't drawing." And with his pencil he made a lovely easy sketch of
the model, alongside Mendel's black, forbidding scrawl. It was a
masterly thing and it baffled him, and humiliated him because the
Professor moved on to the next pupil without another word. Not another
line could Mendel draw that day. He sat staring at the Professor's
sketch and at his own drawing, which, while he had been doing it, had
meant so much to him, and he still preferred his own. The Professor's
drawing had no meaning for him. He could not understand it, except
that it was accurate. That he could see, but then his own was accurate
too, and true to what he had seen. The light gave the model a
distorted shoulder, and he had laboured to render that distortion,
which the Professor had either ignored or had corrected.

Mendel cut out the Professor's drawing and took it home and copied it
over and over again, but still he could not understand it. He was in
despair and told Golda he would never learn.

"I shall never learn to draw, and the Christian kops will all beat
me," he said.

"But they sent you to the school because you can draw. Didn't Mr.
Froitzheim say that you could draw!"

"The Professor looks at me with his gloomy face, like an undertaker
asking for the body, and he says: 'I mean to say, that isn't drawing.
It isn't impressionism. I don't know what it is.'"

"It can't be a very good school," said Golda.

"But it is. It is the only school. All the best painters have been
there, and Mr. Froitzheim sent his own brother to it. The Professor
says I shall never paint a picture if I don't learn to draw, and I
can't do it, I can't do it!"

To console himself he painted hard every evening and regarded the
Detmold entirely as a place to which his duty condemned him--a place
where he had to learn this strange wizardry called drawing, which he
did not understand. He went there every day and never spoke to a soul,
because he realized that his speech was different from that of the
others, and he would not open his mouth until he could speak without
betraying himself. He listened carefully to their pronunciation and
intonation, and practised to himself in bed and as he walked through
the streets.

So woeful were his attempts to emulate the Detmold style of drawing,
that at last the Professor asked him if he was doing any work at home.
To this Mendel replied eagerly that he was painting a portrait of his
mother.

"Hum," said the Professor. "May I see it?"

So Mendel brought the picture, and the Professor said:--

"I mean to say, young man, that it wouldn't be a bad thing if you gave
up work a little. I don't want to have to send in a bad report, but
what can I do? There's something in you, plenty of grit and all that,
but you're young, and, I mean to say, you're here to learn what we can
teach you. When we've done with you, you can go your own way and be
hanged to you. If you want to smudge about with paint and fake what
you can't draw, there's the Academy."

At this awful suggestion Mendel shuddered. He was imbued enough with
the Detmold tradition to regard the Academy as Limbo.

He gave up painting at home, and hurled himself desperately at the
task of producing a drawing that should satisfy the Professor. Towards
the end of his first term he succeeded, and had his reward in words of
praise in front of the class.

The Professor had meanwhile taken one of the pupils aside and asked
him not to leave the poor little devil so utterly alone. "After all,"
he said, "the school doesn't exist only for drawing. It has its social
side as well, and I don't like to see any one cold-shouldered unless
he deserves it. I mean to say, you other fellows have advantages which
don't necessarily entitle you to mop up all the good things and leave
none for your fellow-creatures."

Mitchell, the pupil, took his homily awkwardly enough, but promised
that he would do what he could. He seized his opportunity one day when
Mendel at lunch had horrified the company by picking up a chicken bone
and tearing at it with his teeth. Mitchell took him aside and said:--

"I say, Kühler, old man, you'll excuse my mentioning it, you know, but
it isn't done. I mean, we eat our food with forks."

Mendel knew what was meant, for at lunch he had been conscious of
horrified eyes staring at him and had wished the floor would open and
swallow him up. He muttered incoherent words of thanks and wanted to
rush away, but Mitchell caught him by the arm and said:--

"I say, we artists must hang together. There aren't many of this crowd
who will come to anything, and the Pro thinks no end of you. Won't you
come along and have tea with me and some of the other fellows?"

Mendel went with him, delighting in the young man's easy,
condescending Public School manner and pleasant, crisp voice, in which
he spoke with an exaggerated emphasis.

"Gawd!" he said. "It makes me sick to see all the fools and the women
wasting their time there, scratching away, while those of us who have
any talent and could learn anything are left to flounder along as best
we may. Do you smoke?"

Mendel had never smoked, but he did not like to refuse. He took a
cigarette, which very soon made him feel sick and giddy. He lurched
along with Mitchell until they came to a tea-shop, where they found
two other young men whose faces were familiar.

"I've brought Kühler," said Mitchell. "He's a genius. This is Weldon,
who is also a genius, and Kessler, who can't paint for nuts, and I'm a
blame fool, though it's not my fault. My father's a great man. Gawd!
what can you do when your own father takes the shine out of you at
every turn?"

They began to talk of pictures and of one Calthrop, who was apparently
the greatest painter the world had ever seen and a product of the
Detmold.

"Sells everything he puts his name to," said Kessler.

"What a man!" said Weldon. "Goes his own way, absolutely believing in
his art. If they like it, well and good. If they don't like it, let
'em lump it. He's as often drunk as not, and as for women . . . !"

Weldon and Kessler deserted pictures for women. Mitchell grew more and
more glum, while Mendel was still feeling the effects of the cigarette
too strongly to be able to take in a word.

"Gawd!" said Mitchell. "There they go, talking away, absolutely
incapable of keeping anything clear of women. I can't stand it."

He dragged Mendel away, leaving his friends to pay the bill; and, as
they walked, he explained that he was in love, and could not stand all
that bawdy rubbish, and he elaborated a theory that an artist needed
to be in love to keep himself alive to the sanctity of the human body,
familiarity with which was apt to breed contempt or an excessive
curiosity. Mendel said that he also had been in love, and he gave a
vivid account of his raptures with Sara.

"My God!" cried Mitchell; "you don't mean to say that she came to
you--a girl like that?"

"Yes," said Mendel; "I was never so happy."

"But, I say, weren't you afraid?"

"She was very beautiful."

Mitchell pondered this for a long time. He seemed to be profoundly
shaken. At last he said:--

"But with a girl you _loved?_"

"I loved her when she was there."

"But when she wasn't there?"

"I was busy painting."

"I say, you are a corker! If it were Weldon or Kessler I should say
you were lying."

"I do not lie," replied Mendel with some heat. "It may have been
wrong, but it was good, and I was happier after it. I think I should
have gone mad without it, for everything had
disappeared--everything--everything; and without painting you do not
understand how terrible and empty life is to me. I have nothing, you
see. I am poor, and my father and mother will always be poor. Their
life is hard and beastly, but they do not complain, and I should not
complain if I did not have this other thing that I must do."

"Well, I'm jolly glad to know you," said Mitchell. "I'm not much of a
fellow, but I'd like you to know my people. My father's a great man.
He'll stir you up. And you must come along with me and Weldon and
Kessler and see life while you're young. Good-bye."

He shook hands vigorously with Mendel and strode off with his long,
raking stride, while Mendel stood glowing with the happiness of having
found a friend, some one to whom he could talk almost as he talked to
Golda: a fine young Englishman, pink and oozing robustious health,
ease, refinement, and comfort. He thought with a devoted tenderness of
Mitchell's rather absurd round face, with its tip-tilted nose and
blinking eyes, its little rosebud of a mouth and plump round chin, on
which there was hardly a trace of a beard. . . . "My friend!" thought
Mendel, "my friend!" And he gave a leap of joy. It meant for him the
end of his loneliness. No longer was he to be the poor, isolated
Yiddisher, but he was to move and have his being with these fine young
men who were the leading spirits of the school, the guardians of the
tradition bequeathed to it by the great Calthrop. . . . Oh! he would
learn their way of drawing, he would do it better than any of them. He
would be gay with them and wild and merry and young. And all the while
secretly he would be working and working, following up that inner
purpose until one day he appeared with a picture so wonderful that the
Professor would say, like Mr. Sivwright, that he had nothing more to
learn. And because of his wonderful work, everybody would forget that
he was a Jew, and he would move freely and easily in that wonderful
England which he had begun to perceive behind the fresh young men like
Mitchell and the cool, pretty girls at the school. That England was
their inheritance and they seemed hardly aware of it. He would win it
by work and by dint of the power that was in him.

Of the girls at the school he was afraid. He blushed and trembled when
any one of them spoke to him, and he never noticed them enough to
distinguish one from another, so that they existed only as a vague
nuisance and a menace to his happiness. Before Mitchell he was
prostrate. He bewildered and confounded that young man with his
outpourings, both by word of mouth and by letter. He had absolutely no
reserve, and poured out his thoughts and feelings, his experiences,
and Mitchell at last took up a protective attitude towards him and
defended him from the detestation which he aroused in the majority of
his fellow-students. At the same time Mitchell often felt that of the
two he was the greater child, and he would look back upon the years he
had spent at school in a rueful and puzzled state of mind, half
realizing that he had been shoved aside while the stream of life went
on, and that now he had to fight his way back into it. While Mendel
had been wrestling and struggling, he had been put away in
cotton-wool, every difficulty that had cropped up had been met, every
deep desire had found its outlet in convention. And now that he had
set out to be an artist, here was this Jew with years of hard work
behind him, and such a familiarity with his medium that he could do
more or less as he liked without being held up by shyness or
awkwardness. And it was the same in life. Mendel was abashed by
nothing, was ashamed of nothing. Life had many faces. He was prepared
to regard them all, and to fit his conduct to every one of them. He
was critical, not because he wished to reject anything, but because he
must know the nature of everything before he accepted it. He hated and
loved simply and passionately, and if he felt no emotion he never
disguised the fact. Whereas Mitchell and the others were so eager to
feel the emotions which their upbringing had denied that they leaped
before they looked and fabricated what they did not feel. Mendel
learned from them that life could be pleasant, and they became aware
that there were regions of life beyond the fringes of pleasantness.
They softened him and he hardened them. They were always together,
Mendel, Mitchell, Weldon and Kessler, working steadily enough, but out
of working hours kicking up their heels and stampeding through the
pleasures of London. . . . Calthrop was the divinity they served. He
was a man of genius and had made the Detmold famous. Those, therefore,
who came after him at the school must support him in everything. That
was Mitchell's contention, who was by now in full swing of revolt
against his Public School training, and in his adoration Mendel
followed him, and the others were dragged in their train. Calthrop
dressed extravagantly: so did the four. Calthrop smashed furniture: so
did the four. And as Calthrop drank, embraced women, and sometimes
painted outrageously, the four did all these things.

To Mendel it was Life--something new, rich, splendid, and thrilling.
He had lived so long cramped over his work that it was almost agony to
him to move in this swift stream of incessant excitement. There was no
spirit of revolt in him. He could shed some of the outward forms of
his religion, as to Golda's great distress he did, but against its
spirit he could not rebel. That he carried with him everywhere: the
bare stubborn faith in man, ground down by life and living in sorrow
all his days. Happy he was not, nor did he expect to be so. He might
be happy one day, but he would be miserable the next. Life in him was
not greatly concerned with either, but only to have both happiness and
misery in full measure. His deepest feelings arose out of his work,
the first condition of his existence; they arose out of it and sank
back into it again. His work was the visible and tangible form of his
being, which he hated and loved as it approached or receded from the
terrible power that was both beautiful and ugly, and yet something
transcending either. . . . And away there in London was the Christian
world of shows. What he was seeking lay beyond that, and not in the
dark Jewishness of his home. There lay the spirit, but the outward and
visible form was to be sought yonder, where the lights flared and the
women smiled at themselves in mirrors. He hurled himself into the
shows of the Christian world in a blind desire to break through them,
but always he was flung back, bruised, aching, and weary.

Day after day he would spend listlessly at home or at the school until
seven o'clock came and it was time to go to the Paris Café, to sit
among the painters and listen to violent talk, talk, talk--abuse of
successful men, derision of the great masters, mysterious and awful
whispers of what men were doing in Paris, terrible denunciations of
dealers, critics, and the public.

The café was a kind of temple and had its ritual. It was the aim of
the painters to "put some life into dear old London." Calthrop had
given a lead. He had determined that London should be awakened to art,
as the writing folk of a past generation had aroused the swollen
metropolis to literature and poetry. London should be made aware of
its painters as Paris was aware of the Quartier Latin. Bohemia should
no longer be the territory of actresses, horse-copers, and betting
touts. The Paris Café therefore became the shrine of Calthrop's
personality, and thither every night repaired the artists and their
parasites, who saw in the place an avenue to liberty and fame. In the
glitter and the excitement, the brilliance, the colour, the women with
their painted faces, the white marble-topped tables, the mirrors along
the walls, the blue wreathing tobacco-smoke, Calthrop's personality
was magnified and concentrated as in a theatre. The café without him
was Denmark without the Prince, and Mendel found the hours before he
came or the evenings when he did not come almost insupportable. Yet it
was not the man's success or his fame or his notoriety that fascinated
the boy, whose instinct went straight to the immense vitality which
was the cause of all. Calthrop was a huge man, dark and glowering. To
Mendel he was like a figure out of the Bible--like King Saul, in his
black moods and the inarticulate fury that possessed him sometimes;
and when he picked up and hurled a glass at some artist whose face or
whose work had offended him, he was very like King Saul hurling the
javelin.

There was always a thrill when he entered the café. The buzz would die
down. Where would he sit and whom would he speak to? . . . It was one
of the greatest moments in Mendel's life when one evening Calthrop
came sweeping in with his cloak flung round his shoulders and sat
opposite him and his three companions and raised a finger and
beckoned.

"He wants you," said Mitchell, pushing Mendel forward.

"Come here, boy," growled Calthrop, stabbing with his pipe-stem in the
direction of the seat by his side. "Come here and bring your friends.
Bought a drawing of yours this morning. Damn good."

Mitchell, Kessler, and Weldon came and sat at the table, all too
overawed to speak.

"What's your drink, heh?"

Drinks were ordered.

"Rotten trade, art," said Calthrop. "Dangerous trade. Drink, women,
flattery. Don't drink. Marry, settle down, and your wife'll hate you
because you're always about the place. . . . God! I wish I could be a
Catholic. I'd be a monk. . . . My boy, don't get into the habit of
doing drawings. They won't look at your pictures if you do, and we
want pictures--my God, we do! Everybody paints pictures as though they
were for a competition. You've got life to draw from--real, stinking
life. That's why I have hopes of you."

Mendel was so fluttered and flattered that he could only gulp down his
drink and blink round the café, feeling that all eyes were upon him;
and indeed he was attracting such attention as had never before been
bestowed on him. A girl at the next table ogled him and smiled. She
was with a young man whom the four detested and despised. This young
man reached over to take a bowl of sugar from their table. To take
anything from the great man's table without so much as "By your leave"
was sacrilege and was very properly resented. There was a scuffle, the
sugar was scattered on the floor, glasses fell crashing down, Mitchell
and Weldon hurled themselves on the young man, and the manager came
bustling up, crying: "If-a-you-pleess-a-gentlemen." But there was no
breaking the mêlée. A waiter was sent out for the police, and three
constables came filing in. One of them seized Mitchell, and Mendel,
half mad with drink and excitement, seeing his beloved friend, as he
thought, being taken off to prison, leaped on the policeman's back and
brought him down. In the confusion Calthrop and the others slipped
away and Mendel was arrested, still fighting like a wild cat, and led
off to the police-station, the constable whispering kindly in his ear:
"Steady, my boy, steady. A youngster like you should keep clear of the
drink."

The inspector smiled at the extreme youthfulness of the offender, but
decided that a taste of the cells would do no harm and that the boy
had better be sober before he was sent home. So Mendel had four hours
on a hard bench until a constable came in and asked him if he wanted
bail. He said "Yes," and, when asked for a name, gave Calthrop's, who
presently arrived and saw him liberated, after being told to appear in
court next morning at ten o'clock.

When he reached home he found his mother waiting up for him with wet
cloths in case his head should be bad.

"What now? What now?" she asked.

"I've been in prison."

"Prison!" Golda flung up her hands and sat down heavily. For her all
was lost. It was true then, that, outside in the world, at the other
end of it, was always prison, for the just and for the unjust, for the
old and for the young, for the innocent and for the guilty.

He tried to make light of it. For him, too, it was a serious matter.
He saw himself figuring in the Sunday papers: "Famous Artist in the
Police Court," with his portrait in profile as on a medallion.
Birnbaum and Sir Julius would read it. He would be taken away from the
Detmold and Edward Tufnell would never speak to him again. He
astonished, embarrassed, and delighted Golda by flinging himself in
her arms and sobbing out his grief.



VIII

HETTY FINCH

GOLDA was passing through a very difficult time. Rosa was hotter on
the pursuit of Issy than ever. Harry had had a violent quarrel
consequent on his reiterated demand for proof of the judicial
destruction of Christianity in America, and at last, like his father,
he went out and bought a clean collar and announced his departure for
Paris. He went away and not a word had been heard from him. Lotte
refused to look at any of the young men brought by the match-makers,
and Leah was the only comfortable member of the family, and she made
no attempt to conceal her unhappiness with Moscowitsch. She would come
on Saturday evenings and go up to her mother's room and fling herself
on the bed and cry her heart out, until late in the evening
Moscowitsch came to fetch her, when she would go meekly and apparently
happily enough. . . . And on the top of all these troubles, here was
Mendel going to the devil at a gallop.

Leah's trouble with Moscowitsch was that he would never let her go out
without him, and he could very rarely be persuaded to go out at all.
As for going away in the summer, he could see no sense in it. He gave
his wife a fine house. What more did she want? She had her children to
look after. What greater pleasure could she desire? His life was
entirely filled with his business and his home, and he would not look
beyond them. The neighbours went to the seaside? The neighbours were
fools who lived for ostentation and display. They did not know when
they were well off. . . . Moscowitsch had a great admiration for his
father-in-law as a man who knew what life was and refused to dilute
its savour with folly, and he regarded Golda as a perfect type of
woman, one who left the management of life to her husband and allowed
herself to be absorbed in her duties as a wife and mother.

But Leah longed to go to the seaside. It became an obsession with her,
and, because she could never talk of it, she thought of nothing else.
She was sick with envy when she saw the neighbours going off with the
children carrying buckets and spades. Secretly she bought her own
children buckets and spades, though they were much too small to use
them.

At last, when her worries began to tell on Golda, Leah declared that
what she needed was sea air, and offered to take her for a fortnight
to Margate, and Golda, anxious to escape from the horror of Mendel's
coming home night after night drawn and white with dissipation, and
from the dread of an explosion from Jacob, consented, and asked if
Issy might go, as that Rosa of his was making him quite ill.

For Golda, Leah knew that Moscowitsch would do anything in the world,
and so she procured his consent on condition that he was not expected
to accompany them, for he hated the sea, which had made him very ill
when he came to England, and he never wished to set eyes on it again.

Leah already had the address of some lodgings recommended to her by a
neighbour. She engaged them, and on a fine July day went down to
Margate by the express with her children, Golda, and Issy.

The lodgings were let by a handsome, florid woman with masses of
bleached golden hair, a ruddled complexion, fat hands covered with
cheap rings, plump wrists rattling with bracelets, and a full bosom on
which brooches gleamed. Leah thought her a very fine woman, and was so
fascinated by her that she stayed indoors day after day, helping with
the housework and gossiping, so that she never once saw the sea,
except from the train as she was leaving. Mrs. Finch was a lady, by
birth, but she had been unfortunate. She had an uncle in the Army and
a cousin in the War Office, and she had lived in London, in the best
part of the town, where, in her best days, she had had her flat. Also
she had travelled and had been to Paris and Vienna. But she had been
unfortunate in her friends. Leah commiserated her, and, open-mouthed,
gulped down all her tales of the gentlemen she had known, while Golda,
eager for more information of the glittering world which had swallowed
up her Mendel, listened too, fascinated and shuddering. And Leah, to
show that she also was a person of some consequence, began to talk of
her wonderful brother. She told of the motor-car which had come and
whirled him away, of his visit to the millionaire's house, of the fine
friends he was making, of the men and women he knew whose names were
in the papers.

"Every day," she said, "he is out to tea, and every evening he is out
at theatres and music-halls and parties and flats and hotels, and his
friends are so rich that they pour money into his pockets. He just
makes a few lines on a piece of paper and they give him twenty pounds,
or he makes up some paint to look like a face or a pineapple and his
pockets are full of money."

"Yes," said Golda uneasily. "He will be very rich."

"Then next time you come to Margate," said Mrs. Finch, "it will be the
Cliftonville, and you'll despise my poor lodgings."

"Oh no," cried Leah, "for it is like staying with a friend."

Every day Leah added something to the legend of Mendel, Mrs. Finch
urging her on with romances of her own splendid days. But the most
eager listener was Hetty, the girl who did the rough work of the house
and was never properly dressed until the evening, because, from the
moment when she woke up in the morning until after supper, she was
kept running hither and thither at Mrs. Finch's commands. She was
sufficiently like Mrs. Finch to justify Golda in her supposition that
she was that fine woman's daughter, but nothing was ever said in the
matter. Hetty did not have her meals with them, and, indeed, there was
no evidence that she had any meals. In the evenings she was allowed to
go out, and she would come back at half-past ten or so with her big
eyes shining and a flush fading from her cheeks and leaving them
whiter than ever. Very big were her eyes, very big and pathetic, and
her face was a perfect oval. She had rather full lips, always moist
and red. During the whole fortnight she never spoke a word except to
Issy. Indeed, she avoided Golda and Leah, and she alarmed Issy by what
he took to be her forwardness, when she asked him to take her to the
theatre. He complied with her request, but he was much too frightened
of her to speak, and he could think of nothing to say except to offer
to buy her chocolates and cigarettes, which she accepted as though it
was the natural thing for him to give her presents. She talked to him
about Mendel, and wanted to know if it was true that he knew lords and
had real gentlemen to tea with him in his studio.

"There's more goes on in his studio than I could tell you," said Issy
with a dry, uncomfortable laugh. "Artists, you know!"

"Oh yes! Artists!" said Hetty with a dreamy, wistful look in her eyes
as she drew in her lower lip with a slight sucking noise. "I wish I
lived in London, I do. Ma used to live in London, but she's too old
now to find any one to take her back there. It's dull here. Does your
brother ever come to Margate?"

"No," said Issy. "He'd go to Brighton if he went anywhere. I've got
another brother who's gone to Paris."

"O-oh! Paris! Is he rich too?"

"No."

Issy shut up like an oyster. He could feel the girl probing into him,
and he was sorry he had brought her. She was spoiling his fun, the
adventures he had promised himself during his holiday from Rosa's
indefatigable attentions. Hetty was too dangerous. He knew that if she
got hold of him she would not let go.

He took her home and never spoke another word to her during the
remainder of his visit, and he said to his mother once:--

"That's an awful girl."

"Worse than Rosa?" asked Golda.

"Rosa would stay. That girl would be off like a cat on the tiles."

Golda retorted with a description of Rosa of the same kind, but of a
more offensive degree.

Declaring that they were better for the sea air, and warmly enjoining
Mrs. Finch to visit then if ever she should come to London, the party
left Margate with shells and toffee and painted china for their
friends and relations, conspicuous among their luggage being the
buckets and spades which had never been used.

As Issy and his mother reached their front-door, he saw Rosa at the
corner of the street, and bolted after her, leaving Golda to enter the
house and give an account of her doings. Mendel, for once in a way,
was at home. He was at work on a picture for a prize competition at
the Detmold, as also were Mitchell and Weldon, so that they were
living quietly for the time being. Golda gave a glowing description of
the beauties of Margate and of Mrs. Finch and her jewellery. She began
to talk of Hetty, but for some reason unknown to herself, with a
glance at Mendel she stopped, and went off into a vague, dreamy
rhapsody concerning Margate streets.

"The streets are so clean, so nice, and the air is so strong, and the
sky is so clear, with the clouds tumbling across it, little clouds
like cotton-wool and grey clouds like blankets, almost as it was in
Austria, and I was so happy my heart was full of flowers, almost as it
was in Austria."

"What's the good of talking of Austria?" growled Jacob. "There you had
a corner. Here you have a whole house."

"But I was happy there."

Issy came in on that and announced that he was going to be married to
Rosa. There was half a house vacant in the next street, and he
proposed to take it.

"You shall not," said Jacob. "I will not have that slut in the house.
What sort of children will she give you? Squat-browed and bow-legged
they will be. How will she look after them? A woman that cannot
contain her love for her man will have none for the children. She is a
dirty girl, I tell you, and so is her mother and her father's mother,
and her father's father's mother."

"I don't know who we are, to hold up our heads so high. You are my
father, but in some things I cannot obey you. The business is mine
. . ."

"It is not. It is mine!" said Jacob. "It is in your name, but it is
mine. It is in your name, but your name is my name, and you shall not
give it to a woman like that, who goes smelling about street corners
like a dog. Her father has no money, and he never goes to the
synagogue."

"I am not marrying her father. I shall go out of the business, then,
and I shall start for myself. Rosa will kill herself if I do not marry
her, and I must do it."

"It is true," said Golda quietly. "I think she will kill herself."

Jacob stormed on and Issy blustered, until at last he confessed that
Rosa had caught him, and that he had to marry her. Jacob threw up his
hands and in a shrill voice of icy contempt told Issy exactly what he
thought of such marriages; they were nothing but dirt. . . . "Because
you have a little dirt on you, must you roll in the mud? You are like
dirty dogs, all of you. You, and Harry, and Mendel. I don't know what
has come to you in this London. God gave me one woman, and I have
asked for nothing else."

"You would not let me marry Rosa when I was young."

Words and feeling ran so high that Mendel, aghast, fled away to his
studio, where the sound of the storm reached him. It raged for hours,
and ended in Issy flinging himself out of the house and slamming the
door.

A week later Rosa was brought to see Golda, and she fawned on her like
a dog that has been whipped, sat gazing at her with her stupid brown
eyes, and whimpered: "I should have killed myself. Yes, I should have
killed myself."

"You would not have been so wicked," said Golda. "It is sinful to
throw good fish after bad. Can you cook?"

"Yes," said Rosa. "I can make cucumber soup. I could do anything for
Issy, he is so strong and handsome."

And Golda said to Mendel after the interview: "A woman like that is
like a steam bath for a man."

* * * * *

A few days later Issy and Rosa were married, without ceremony, without
carriages, or photographs, or guests, or feast. It was a wedding to be
ashamed of, but Jacob would not, and Rosa's father could not, lay out
a penny on it. The couple took half the house in the next street, and
Issy discovered at once that he hated his wife, and was at no pains to
conceal it either from her or from his family.

Mendel was profoundly depressed by this disturbance and plunge
downwards, for he still half expected his family to rise with him. He
was to make all their fortunes, but, with the rest of the family, he
detested the unhappy Rosa and regarded her as little short of a
criminal. He was depressed, too, because the summer holidays were
approaching and he would be bereft of his beloved Mitchell, who was
going away for three months to the country. He would be left with his
family, in whom there was no peace. Why could they not be like the
Mitchells and the Weldons, who could live together without quarrels,
and could take a happy, humorous interest in each other's doings
without these devastating passions and cursings and denunciations? And
yet when he thought of the Mitchells and the Weldons and the
Froitzheims, in their charming, comfortable houses, there was
something soft and foolish about them all--something savouring of
idolatry, for instance, in the homage Mitchell paid his father, in the
assumption that Mrs. Mitchell was a very remarkable woman, whose
children could not be expected to be ordinary. More and more did
Mendel value his mother, who was content to be just a woman and to
live without flattery of any kind, and to accept everyone whom she met
and to value them as human beings, without regard to their rank,
station, possessions, or achievements. Himself she esteemed no more
because he was an artist, though he had tried hard to make her give
her tribute to that side of his nature. She loved him simply, neither
more for his attainments nor less for his doings, that pained her
deeply. And that direct human contact he obtained nowhere else, and in
no one else could he find it existing so openly and frankly. Yet he
loved the follies and pretences of the outside world. He adored
theatricality, and among his polite friends there was always some
drama towards. It was never drowned in incoherent passions, and he
himself, among the nice cultured folk, was always a startling dramatic
figure. Sometimes they seemed to him all slyness and insincerity, and
then he loathed them; but that was generally when he had aimed at and
failed in some dramatic coup, or when they had encouraged him to talk
about himself until he bored them. On the whole, he was successful
with them, as he wished to be, easily and without calculation. It was
when they made calculation necessary, by feigning an interest that
they did not feel, that he was shocked and angry. If anywhere the
atmosphere was such that he could not be frank, then he avoided that
place and those people.

Now he was bored, bored to think of the hot stewing months with no
relief except such as he could find in vagrom adventures from the
harsh rigidity of life among his own people. And he was in a strange
condition of physical lassitude. Even his ambition was stagnant. In
his work he had only the pleasure of dexterity. It had no meaning, and
contained no delight. When he painted apples or a dead bird or a
woman, the result was just apples or a dead bird or a woman. The paint
made no difference and the subject was still better than his rendering
of it. He was only concerned with technical problems. Fascinated by a
gradated sky in a picture in the National Gallery, he practised
gradated skies until he could have done them in his sleep.

And he was tired, tired in body and in soul. Both in his life and in
his work he had had to conquer a convention in order to keep his
footing in the world of his desire. Just as he had only learned the
Detmold style of drawing by a supreme effort of will, so also by a
tremendous effort he had learned the rudiments of manners and polite
conversation. He had had to overcome his tendency to fall violently in
love with every charming person, male or female, he met, and to regard
with an aversion equally violent those in whom he found no charm. Such
charm must for him be genuine and not a matter of tricks, and for this
reason he had regarded every person whom he thought of as old with
dislike. For him anybody above twenty-five was "old." He still thought
he would be made or marred by the time he was twenty-three, but that
age seemed immeasurably far off. Long before then, like a thunderbolt,
his full genius would descend upon him and all the world would know
his name. He was almost innocent of conceit in this. Such, he
believed, was the history of genius, and so far nothing had happened
to deny his inward consciousness of his rarity. Relieve the pressure
of circumstance and he soared upwards. . . . There was a queer,
uncomfortable pleasure in such thoughts and dreams and in imagining a
fatality that should drag him down and down to Issy's level and lower.
There was a sickening fascination in picturing to himself a descent as
swift and irresistible as his upward flight. Yet dreary were the hours
of waiting for the impetus that had once or twice so freely and so
strongly moved in him. Sick with waiting, he would work in a fury to
master trick after trick and difficulty after difficulty in painting,
so as to be ready when the time came. All the cunning and wariness of
his race welled up in him as he prepared deliberately, slowly,
patiently for his opportunity.

* * * * *

One afternoon, as Golda was sleeping in her kitchen, she was awakened
by a knock at the door. Going to open it, she found Hetty Finch
waiting there, neatly clad in a brown tailor-made coat and skirt, very
smart, with a trim little feathered hat on her head. Golda's thoughts
flew to Mendel, and her first inclination was to slam the door in
Hetty's face, but, remembering that the boy was out, she admitted her.

Hetty followed Golda into the kitchen and stood looking round it with
obvious disappointment. She had not imagined the Kühlers to be so
poor.

"I promised Ma I would call," she said, taking the chair which Golda
dusted for her.

"And how is your Ma?" asked Golda.

"She's given up the house and gone into a hotel as manageress,"
replied Hetty, lying as usual, for her mother had been sold up and had
taken a place as barmaid in a tavern. "And I've come to London to earn
my living. Ma gave me fourteen shillings, and that was all she could
do for me. Still, I'm off her hands now."

Golda asked her what she was going to do, and she said she thought of
going into service until she had had a look round. Where was she
living? She had taken a room with some friends, lodgers of Ma's, off
Stepney Green.

Conversation was lifeless and desultory until Issy came into the room,
when she brightened up, but he was overcome with his old terror of the
girl and soon hurried away. Then she noticed the pictures on the wall
and asked if they were Mendel's. Golda refused flatly to talk about
them, but Hetty persisted and would talk of nothing else. Jacob came
in and she made him talk about Mendel, and she made herself so
charming to him and flattered his simple vanity so grossly that
presently Golda was staggered by the sight of him making tea with his
own hands and pouring it out for the visitor.

"Yes," said Jacob, "the boy did all those before he was fourteen. He
will get on, that boy. He is bound to get on, but I shall not live to
see him in his glory."

"I think they're lovely," said Hetty, sipping her tea. And she went on
chattering vivaciously until Jacob was called away to the workshop,
when once again conversation became lifeless and desultory. Golda made
one excuse after another to try to get rid of her, but Hetty would not
budge. At last there came the sound of Mendel's key in the door. Golda
bustled out of the room and whispered to him:--

"You must not come in. I have visitors and there are letters waiting
for you upstairs."

But Mendel had seen a girl sitting in the kitchen and he wanted to
know whether she was pretty or not. She turned and he saw that she was
charmingly pretty. He brushed by his mother. He felt at once that he
had made a good impression, and, indeed, all Hetty's dreams and
fancies were more than realized, though she was a little affronted and
disappointed by the poorness of his clothes.

"It is Hetty Finch," said Golda, "from Margate."

Mendel had had Issy's account of Hetty and he was on his guard at
once.

"Yes. I've come to live in London," said she.

"I've never lived out of it," he answered.

"I thought perhaps, as you know so many people, you could help me to
find some work. There must be room somewhere in London for poor little
me."

"I'll see about it," said Mendel, taking note of her features and
figure, and rather upset to find himself so little excited by her.
Issy had given him to imagine a dashing, overwhelming woman. He only
felt vaguely sorry for Hetty and a desire to stroke her, though he
knew her at once for what she was, and how she was drinking in the
strongly developed male in him. For the first time he felt cool and
detached in the presence of a woman: a deliciously grown-up sensation,
and he wanted more of it.

She soon said she must go, and in Golda's hearing he promised to write
to her, but when he took her to the door he asked her to come to his
studio, and she said she would come the next day.



IX

THE QUINTETTE

HE had more of the deliciously grown-up sensation the next day, when
Hetty came to see him. She was something new. The girls of the streets
he knew, and unattainably above them were the girls at the school and
his friends' sisters, whom he called "top-knots," because of the way
they did their hair. The "top-knots" were hardly female at all to him,
so remote were they, so entirely unapproachable; utterly different
from the girls of the streets, who were so accessible that he had but
to hold out his arms to find one of them, as if by magic, in his
grasp. And now Hetty was different again.

"You are cosy up here," she said, moving at once to the only
comfortable chair and curling up in it. "Your sister told me about
you."

"Leah? What lies did she tell you?"

"Well, I knew it wasn't _all_ true, about the money you were making,
because you wouldn't live here if it was true, would you? But I
suppose some of your friends make a lot of money."

"They're rich, some of them," replied Mendel, aghast to find himself
thinking coldly of his friends in terms of money, his mind rushing
swiftly between the two poles of his father and Sir Julius. "Yes.
There's plenty of money in London."

"That's what Ma said when she gave me the fourteen shillings. She said
a girl with eyes like mine had no need to go short in London." Hetty
raised her eyes and looked full at him, who met her stare boldly and
yet with some alarm, finding himself acting a part.

Hetty was flattering him by regarding him as the possessor of a key to
the wealth of London, and in spite of himself he could not help
accepting the rôle. She had touched an element of his character of
which till then he had been unconscious. The knave in him sprang into
being and thrust all his other qualities aside. He began to boast of
his success and to swagger about the luxury and immorality of London
life, though it was not all braggadocio, but also a kindly desire to
make Hetty happy by talking to her of the things that interested her.

He told her about Calthrop and the Paris Café, and Maurice Birnbaum
and his motor-car and richly furnished flat in Westminster, and a
Lord's son who was at the Detmold, and Mitchell, whose father was a
great man. And all the time, as he talked, he was astonished at the
sound of his own voice, so different did it sound.

Hetty wriggled with pleasure in her chair and pouted up her lips.
Presently she said her hat made her head ache, and she took it off and
stretched out her arms and said:--

"No more pots and pans for me! I do think you're lovely. It's just
like a story. I call that real fun. Not like Margate. . . . Do you
think I could get work as a model, or do you have to be slap-up?"

Mendel thought of the drabs who posed and he could not help smiling.

"I could only tell by your figure, though your face is all right."

"Do you think I'm pretty?" she asked.

"Very."

"I'll show you my figure, if you like."

"All right, I'll light the gas-stove in the bedroom. It's a little
cold in here."

He showed her into the bedroom, and when she was ready she called to
him.

She was beautifully made, but she looked so foolish with her anxiety
to please him that he could take hardly any interest in her, and he
was distressed, too, because the only background he could give her
consisted of his new knavish thoughts of the wealth of London. Yet
nothing could disturb it, for the background was suitable. Her white
body was her offering.

"How much would I be paid?"

"A shilling an hour."

"Do you pay that?"

"Yes."

"If you could get me work I would sit to you for nothing."

"I'd pay you," he said. His generous qualities strove hard to reassert
themselves, but there was something about this girl that compelled
just what he was giving her--hardness for hardness, value for value.
Yet she was certainly beautiful, and it was strange to him to be
unable to give her the warm homage that within himself he could not
help feeling.

She sat on the bed, making no move to cover herself, and said:--

"Artists _are_ different. There was an artist once at Margate. It was
him put the idea into my head. But he was very poor and not a
gentleman."

And now to Mendel she was an object of sheer astonishment. He stood
and warmed his legs by the gas stove and gaped at her, sitting on his
bed and chattering in her clear, hard voice of her ambitions, her
dreams, the drudgery at home, while in everything she said was a
flattery which he could not resist. Worst of all, he felt that he was
one of a pair with her. His talent, her body, were shining offerings
with which they both emerged from the depths of the despised. Entering
into her spirit, he too was filled with a desire for revenge. Yet in
him this desire was charged with passion, which made their present
situation ridiculous. He thought of the poverty and the obscure
suffering downstairs, the dragging penury to which, but for his
talent, he would have been condemned. Then he imagined her as Issy had
described her at Margate, lurking in the kitchen, listening behind the
door as Leah spun her yarns. He could sympathize with her, and she
seemed to him almost gallant.

He got out a piece of mill-board and began to draw her, but to his
annoyance could not get interested in what he was doing. He wanted to
know more about her, could not rest content that a human being should
be so reduced to a cold purpose. Yet, though she talked freely enough,
nothing fell from her lips to meet his desire. She had no people, no
class, no tradition, but still she was a person. He could not dismiss
her as he dismissed so many, as "nonsensical."

"I can't make much of you now," he said, almost wailing. "I believe
I'm tired."

And suddenly he hurled away his drawing and rushed at her and kissed
her. She clung to him and he yielded to her will, seeing clearly that
this was her purpose, this her desire, this her ambition, her all.

He knew that she was using him, was making certain of being able to
use him. The newly discovered knave in him insisted on having his
existence, and through it he enjoyed a certain defiant happiness.

Happiness! To be happy! That had seemed impossible. His first year at
the Detmold had been miserable. He had been discouraged and almost
listless. Often he would go to his mother and say: "I shall never be
an artist."

"Not all at once," Golda would say. "Take a boy who is apprenticed to
a bootmaker. He cannot all at once make good boots. He must spoil a
deal of leather first. Or a tailor-boy: he must spoil cloth. A trade
must be learned, and you can learn this, for you work hard enough at
it."

For a moment or two he would see through her clear eyes and that was
enough to set him working again, half believing that he would soon
master his craft. But there had been the struggle to master what at
the Detmold, with such unquestionable authority, they called
"drawing."

This now, with Hetty, was in its way happiness, though he detested it
and her. It was an escape. It was easy. It made no demands on him,
save the small effort to achieve self-forgetfulness, and in that she
aided him, for she seemed superior to himself and enviable in the
clearness of her purpose. She offered herself and made no demands upon
him except of what could cost him nothing: just a few words to his
friends, a start in her chosen profession.

All the same, he was horrified at himself. Every other crisis and
sudden change in his life had been attended with violent suffering, an
eruption within himself, profound depression, almost a collapse. This
had been as easy as walking through a door, a slipping from one part
of his being to another. . . . Here suddenly was happiness, a queer
detached, almost indifferent condition, full of pleasure, and he
rejoiced in the novelty of it. He watched Hetty draw on her clothes
again and was sickened by the sensual languor of her movements. She
was drowsy, like a cat before a fire.

"No, I certainly shan't draw you to-day."

"What about to-morrow?"

"I shall be painting to-morrow."

"I do think you're a devil sometimes."

"I'll take you to the Paris Café, if you like."

"Will you?"

She perked up on that. She had not expected so soon to gain her
desire.

"Yes. If you've got to earn your living you should meet people, and
the sooner you get going the better."

Hetty sat with her chin in her hands, crouched in elation. Everything
had turned out as she had hoped and planned, as she had willed that it
should, and she regarded him with some contempt because he had been so
easy and because he was so young. She was the same age as he, but she
thought him a little vain boy. Yet when he looked at her she was
afraid of him, for he knew so much and guessed so much more. To defend
herself, her instinct drove through to his vanity and flattered it to
blind him. She feigned an animation she was incapable of feeling to
make herself more beautiful in his eyes, and he thought of his
friends, Mitchell and Weldon, and how they would be stirred with her.
He thought how she would please Calthrop, and he was lured into
believing that he would gain in importance through her.

"You've come at a very bad time," he said. "They'll all be going away
for the summer."

"Oh!" she looked dashed, hating to be caught out in a mistake. "Do
they go away for long?"

"Three months."

"Oh, well!" she drawled. "I can get a place if nothing turns up. But
something always does turn up. I'm one of the lucky ones, you know."

"I don't believe in luck," said he, with a sudden irruption of the old
self that seemed to have been left so far behind.

"I must go now," she said.

They groped their way down the dark stairs, and he went out with her,
feeling that he could not face his family, from whom he knew now that
his face was turned. In the street a mood of freedom and adventure
came over him, and for this mood she was a fitting mate. He took her
on the top of a bus to the West End, among the promenading crowds, and
she drank it all in with a kind of exaltation, her big eyes glowing,
her body trembling with excitement. Into one café after another he led
her, completely absorbed as he was in her purpose, and at last, when
they mounted the eastward bus, she leaned her head on his shoulder,
and he could hear her murmuring to herself: "London . . . London . . .
London."

He too was thrilled as he had never been before by London. He had
never so strongly realized it before. The great city had thrilled him
with its beauty and had stirred him with its business, but never
before had its spirit crept into his blood to send it whirling and
singing through his veins. He hardly slept at all that night, and the
next morning it was a long time before he could begin to work, which
then seemed far removed from the effort and almost anguish it used to
cost him. The still-life with which he had been wrestling became quite
easy to do, and very soothing was the handling of brushes and paint.
Every touch was like a caress upon his aching soul.

So began a period of real happiness. The pieces he painted with such
soothing ease were generally admired and readily bought. The dealer to
whom he took them was also a colourman and gave him apparently
unlimited credit; and he laid in an immense stock of colours and
amused himself with experiments. It seemed that his career was to be
successful without a struggle. His patrons were delighted to find him
so soon making money, and the Birnbaums and the Fleischmanns invited
him down into the country, but as he found that they put him up in a
servant's bedroom or a gardener's cottage he refused to go more than
once, or to any more of their kind who were not prepared to forget his
poverty.

He would rather stay in London with Hetty, whom he had begun to regard
as a mascot. With her coming everything had changed. She had made
everything easy and happy and delightful. He had no love for her, but
he could not help feeling grateful. She had turned work into a
pleasure, pleasure into a riot of ecstasy.

Alone with her in the evenings or with some chance acquaintance,
during the holidays he roamed through London, basking in the summer
evenings, discovering unimagined splendours, the Parks, the river, the
Zoo, boating on the Serpentine, the promenade on the romantic
Spaniard's Road at Hampstead. Nearly every night he wrote to Mitchell
in the country, describing his new easy happiness in his work and his
discovery of the charm of nights in London. And once a week Mitchell
would write to him and give him a delightful account of English
country life in a valley, shut in by rolling hills between which
wandered a slow, pleasant stream. Here Mitchell was painting, boating,
playing tennis, making love.

"There's a Detmold girl lives near here with her people--Greta
Morrison. You may remember her--glorious chestnut hair, big blue eyes,
but as shy as a little mouse. I couldn't get a word out of her until I
began to talk about you, and there's no end to her appetite for that.
I don't mince matters. I tell her exactly what you are, exactly what
you come from, and what a wild beast you are. She has seen you throw
things about at the Detmold, and she seems absolutely to like it. Yet
she is not a fool, and I like her enormously. She makes me feel what a
rotter I am, but I can't get on with her unless I talk about you. I
_have_ heard that her work is good, but she won't show me a thing."

Mendel was pleased that a "top-knot" should be interested in him, but
beyond the flicker of delight he gave no thought to the idea of Greta
Morrison. The "top-knots" belonged to the world which he was going to
despoil with Hetty Finch. That world must disgorge. It had condemned,
and still condemned, his father and mother to bitter poverty, and he
remembered how on their first coming to London the whole family had
slept in one room, and how he had sat up in the middle of the night
and looked at the recumbent bodies and suffered under the indignity of
it. And his brothers had grown from ruddy, bronzed boys into
pale-faced, worn young men. And behind Hetty was the dirty
lodging-house and her Ma, of whom he had a very clear idea. He used to
wax violent, and his imagination would run riot with the fantastic
visions of success he conjured up.

Who were the "top-knots" that they should have an easy, pleasant time
in the country while he was left to stew in London?

Hetty began genuinely to admire him, and her flattery was no longer
empty. There was some sustenance in it.

"O--oh!" she used to say. "You'll get on. There's no doubt about that.
You'll have a big stoodio and the nobs will come up in their
motor-cars, and you'll be able to paint what you like then."

"You're a liar," he would reply. "I shall always paint what I like. I
never do anything else, and never will. Once paint for the fools and
you have to do it always, because you become a fool yourself."

* * * * *

Golda once met Hetty coming down the stairs. She told her she was a
dirty slut and was not to show her face inside the house again. A few
days later she saw her open the front door and slip out. In her anger
she informed Jacob of the danger to Mendel, and Jacob went up to the
studio.

"I will not have that harlot in my house," he said.

"She is not a harlot," replied Mendel rather shakily, for, though his
father's power had dwindled, yet he was still a figure of authority.

"She is a harlot and a daughter of a harlot, and I will not have her
in my house."

"She is a model, and I must have models, as I have tried to explain to
you again and again. I am allowed money for models. I must have
models, just as you must have skins."

"Then there are other models. I know this girl, what she is after, and
she will ruin you."

"Neither she nor anyone else in the whole world could ruin me," said
Mendel, "for I am an artist, and while I have my art I ask nothing
outside it."

"Don't argue with me!" shouted Jacob. "I will not have that drab in my
house."

Mendel had a great respect and regard for his father. He was silent,
and Jacob went downstairs, satisfied that he had asserted himself.

He said to Golda:--

"They will blow the boy's head off his shoulder with the fuss they
make of him. I know how to take him down a peg or two."

"Don't go too far," said Golda. "It would be a black day for me if he
went away and was ashamed of us."

"If I saw that he was ashamed of you," replied Jacob, "I would thrash
him within an inch of his life. Ashamed of you, among all the dirt and
trumped-up people he goes among!"

However, Hetty still came to the studio and there were frequent
explosions, until at last Mendel, intent on the new independence he
had won, declared that he could bear it no longer, and he arranged
with Issy to take the top floor of his house and to turn that into a
studio. This compromise was successful, and pleased both parties:
Golda was happy to be relieved from further friction and Mendel was
glad to be away, for he knew that his doings must hurt her, and that
he hated. Yet he could see no way out of it. He was done for ever with
the old simplicity of his untutored painting in her kitchen. Art was
no longer a pure and hardly-won joy. It was a trade, like any other,
and, like any other, it had its sordid aspect, and, to compensate for
that, it was a career and could also be a triumph. These things he did
not expect his mother to understand. He had Mitchell to talk to now,
Mitchell to whom to impart the burden upon his soul, and Mitchell and
he were to work together and to give to the world such art as it had
never seen since the primitives.

Mitchell and he! That friendship was the source of his new confidence.
Golda had been and still was much to him, but when it came to painting
she knew nothing at all, and painting was the important thing. Through
painting lay not only satisfied ambitions and fame and riches, but
life itself, and of that what could Golda know?

It was a great thing, therefore, to be established away from home when
Mitchell returned from the country. And Mitchell approved. He had
suffered from being under his father's shadow, and with Weldon and
Kessler he had taken a studio near Fitzroy Square. He said:--

"A time will come when you will have to leave the East End."

"I shall never leave them," replied Mendel. "What I want to paint is
there. They are my people, and all that I have belongs to them."

"Rubbish. You'll soon be getting commissions, and you can't ask people
who can afford to pay for portraits to a hole like that."

"They will come to my studio," said Mendel, "or I will not take their
commissions."

Though Mitchell was rather shocked by his frank conceit, he could not
but admire and envy the way his impulses came rushing to the surface
and were never deterred by considerations as to the impression he
might be making. Mendel trusted Mitchell absolutely and hid nothing
from him, neither the most scabrous of his deeds nor the most childish
of his desires. He made no secret of the new manly feeling that had
come to him through Hetty, the conviction that he could meet the West
End on its own terms.

When he showed Mitchell the work he had done during the holidays, his
friend said:--

"Gawd! The difference is absolutely startling. There's charm in every
one of them, and they're not fakes either."

With Hetty he was enraptured.

"Gawd!" he said; "I'll give ten years to painting her, as Leonardo did
to Monna Lisa, and then it would not be finished. Came from a Margate
lodging-house, did she? Mark my words: she'll marry a successful
artist and queen it among the best."

With Mitchell, Hetty put forth all her cajolery when she found that he
knew what she thought good people. She could look very pathetic and
delicate, and middle-aged artists were sorry for her, and thought
being a model a perilous profession for her. One of them warned her of
the dangers she must run, and especially mentioned Mitchell and Kühler
as young men to be avoided. They roared with laughter when she told
them.

The Paris Café was Paradise to her, and she made friends with all its
habitués and attracted the attention of Calthrop, who became Mendel's
enemy for life when she told him that the youngster had said of him
that he had been a good artist once, but was now only repeating
himself.

With marvellous rapidity she picked up the jargon of the place, and
could quite easily have taken her career in her own hands, but she
would not surrender Mendel, who could no more do without her than he
could without Mitchell. She clung to him and kept him a happy slave to
his three friends, to whom she devoted herself as though her existence
depended on the solidarity of the group. From morning to night she was
with one or other of them, and every evening with the four of them at
the Paris, or making a row at a music-hall and getting themselves
kicked out.

She was learning her trade as they were learning theirs, and she was
delighted with the ease with which Mendel picked up what she called
"sense"; that is to say, he became much more like the others, affected
their speech, grew his hair long, wore corduroys, a black shirt, and a
red sash, and talked blatantly and with a slight contempt of great
painters. But even so, he was disturbing, for he did all these things
with passion, so that they tinged his soul, and were not as a mere
garment upon it. Even in falsehood he was sincere.

When Hetty found Calthrop painting a self-portrait, she set her four
boys painting self-portraits, and when she found the older men talking
about the beauty of roofs and chimneys, the four were soon ecstatic
about roofs and chimneys, and painting them without knowing how it had
come about. She could feel what was in the air, and had no difficulty
in making them conform to it, so that they were successful even while
they were students, and were talked of and discussed and approached by
dealers as though they were persons of consequence. Their life was one
long intoxication: money, praise, wine, and debauchery went to their
heads, and of all these excitants Mendel had the largest share, and
found himself the equal even of Kessler, whose father was a
millionaire soap-boiler. He attained an extraordinary skill at doing
what was expected of him, and developed an instinct as sharp as
Hetty's for the success of the moment after next.

He won scholarships at the Detmold and, carefully adapting his style,
an open prize at the Royal Academy. His patrons were excited and
delighted. He was interviewed by the Yiddish papers and photographed,
palette and brushes in hand, in a dashing attitude. He said many
foolish things to the reporters, but the printed version made him
blush. He was represented as saying that art had been reborn during
the last ten years, that the Royal Academy was exploded and would soon
close its doors, that there was no art criticism in England, that
there had never been a great Jewish artist, and that this deficiency
in the most vital and enduring race in the world would now be
repaired.

He thanked his stars that his friends could not read Yiddish. Two
well-known Jewish painters wrote to the paper to say that they existed
and to trounce his "bumptious and ignorant dismissal of respected and
respectable art." And he heartily agreed with them. He was shaken out
of the hectic dreams of months, yet could not feel or see clearly. His
way was with Mitchell, and Mitchell was generously rejoicing in it all
as though it had happened to himself, while Hetty was going from
studio to studio spreading the news and declaring the arrival of a
genius.

He wanted to go and hide his face in his mother's skirts, but she was
so happy and elated with the congratulations of the neighbours and
visits from the Rabbis of the synagogue that he could not but keep up
his part before her. For her and for all his family he bought
extravagant presents, and he went out and sought Artie Beech, whom he
had not seen for years, and gave him a box of cigars. He had a
melancholy idea that he was doing them all an injury and that he must
somehow repair it. The exact nature of the injury he did not know, but
his instinct was very sure that the whole business was false. Yet it
was so actual that he could not help believing in it. He was
hypnotized into accepting it. There seemed no reason why it should not
go on for ever. Here, apparently, was what he had always striven
for--art and homage--and the idea that they could go on for ever was
terrible and paralysing. But there was not a soul in the world with
whom he could share his feeling. If he showed the least hesitation
they would accuse him of ingratitude.

He was filled with a smouldering rage against them all which found no
vent until Maurice Birnbaum came in his motor-car and asked him to
bring some of his things to show Sir William Hunslet, R.A., who had
been much impressed with his prize picture. Once again Mendel climbed
into the motor-car, and once again he was told not to let his parcel
scratch the paint.

"Now," said Maurice, "you have the world at your feet, and I feel
proud to have had my share in bringing it about. You can have
everything you want, and if you don't grow into something really big
it won't be our fault. Everything that money can do it shall do."

The car rolled through the streets which had been the scene of
Mendel's happy rambles, but being carried through them in such
magnificence made him feel helpless, a victim to something stronger
than his own will and that he had always detested. He was being taken
away from his mother and from Mitchell, and he knew whither motor-cars
were driven. All roads ended in Sir Julius, who could sit and look at
pictures without a word. Everything went spinning past him. This was
going too fast, too fast, and he would be exhausted before he had
really known his purpose. Maurice Birnbaum's exciting, patronizing
tones, chattering on exasperatingly, infuriated him, until he felt
like stabbing him in his already dropping stomach. What could a fat
man like that have to do with art? How could so fat a man drive down
to the wretched poverty in Whitechapel and not feel ashamed?

But in spite of himself and his confused emotions Mendel enjoyed the
drive, which showed him more of London than the narrowed area he
frequented: more to conquer, more to know; shops, strange ugly
buildings, polite, mincing people, women like dolls, men like
marionettes, wide streets and plane-trees, the gardens and squares of
the polite Southwest. Often there were Georgian houses like that in
which his family lived, but so neat and trim and newly painted that
they looked like doll's-houses, proper places for the dolls and the
marionettes. . . . And it was exhilarating to be in the heart of the
roaring traffic, bearing down upon scarlet buses, and swift darting
taxi-cabs and motor-cars as rich as Maurice Birnbaum's. Out of the
traffic they turned suddenly into a quiet street of dead houses and
vast gloomy piles of flats. Outside a house more gloomy than the rest
they stopped. Maurice got out fussily, told Mendel to be careful how
he lifted his parcel out, fussed his way into the house through a
dark, luxuriously furnished hall, and into a vast studio where there
was a group of fashionably dressed women taking tea with Sir William
and exclaiming about the beauties of a portrait that stood on the
easel.

Maurice stood awkwardly outside the circle and muttered apologies,
while Mendel felt utterly and crushingly foreign to the atmosphere of
the place. He knew how these people would regard him. They would stare
at him with a cold interest not unmingled with horror, and he would be
conscious of bearing the marks of the place he came from, of smelling
of the gutter. Against that separation even art was powerless. And
what had his work to do with this huge, hard, brilliant portrait on
the easel? If they admired that they would never look at his dark
little pictures.

Sir William introduced Maurice to the ladies, but did not so much as
look at the boy, whom his mind had at once ticked off as a "student,"
and therefore to be kept in his place. Maurice explained spluttering:
words like "scholarship," "prize," "genius," "instinct," fell in a
shower from his lips, and one of the ladies put up her lorgnette and
stared at Mendel as though he were a picture or a wax model.

At last he was told to untie his parcel, and one by one he showed his
pictures. Sir William blew out his chest and his cheeks, and with a
wave of his hand blurted out one word:--

"Italy."

"That's what I say," said Maurice.

Mendel scented danger. They seemed to him to be conspiring together.

"Italy!" ejaculated Sir William. "Italy! Blue skies, the sun, the
light. Give him light and landscape with form in it."

"Am I ill?" thought Mendel with some alarm, for Sir William sounded to
him more like a doctor than a painter. And he decided that the
Academician was not a real artist because he showed no sign of the
fellow-feeling which had been so strong in Mr. Froitzheim.

Before the ladies he could say nothing. He put his pictures back in
the parcel and heard Maurice and Sir William still conspiring together
to send him to Italy. He was tired of being swung from one idea to
another. At the Polytechnic they had told him that the essential thing
in a picture was "tone," that he must remember the existence of the
atmosphere between himself and the object he was painting, and that
there were no bright colours in nature. At the Detmold little was said
about "tone," but he was told that the essence of a picture was
drawing, "the expression of form." . . . What next? He had a
foreboding that Italy was only another name for another essence of a
picture. Besides, he wanted to live. Though he adored art, yet it did
not contain all that was precious to him--liberty and gaiety,
friendship and affection. Always until the Detmold his life had been
weighed down with poverty and with terrible obsessions like that of
his dread of the fat, curly-headed boy who, during the six long years
of his schooling, had waited for him outside the school-gates every
day to give him a coward's blow and to challenge him to fight and to
jeer at him if he refused. There had been furious, passionate loves to
set him reeling, gusts of inexplicable desires and ambitions which had
often made him weep with pain. And now, just as the world was opening
out before him and he was warm with the friendship of an Englishman
(for he was proud of Mitchell's Public School training), they wished
to take him away and send him to a far country.

He had had enough of being a foreigner in England, and he loathed the
idea of travel. His father had told him that England was the best
country in the world, and, if he had suffered so much there, what
would it be in others? Italy? He wanted to paint what he had always
painted, fish and onions in a London kitchen. How could Italy help him
to do that?

He would not go. He would refuse to go. These Birnbaums and
Fleischmanns had had their way with him for long enough.

So lost was he in this growing revolt that he was already some
distance away from Sir William's studio before he was aware of having
left it.

"Our greatest painter," said Maurice. "The greatest since Whistler."

"Yes," said Mendel, aghast at the supersession of Calthrop and the
idols of the Detmold. If Maurice could be so ignorant there was
nothing to be said and argument was vain.

"He really appreciated your work," Maurice added.

"He never looked at it!" cried Mendel, enraged. "I put them in front
of him one by one, but he always looked at the fat lady in blue."

"He could tell with one glance," protested Maurice, who had been
mightily impressed.

Mendel saw that it was useless to talk, and shut his lips tight while
Maurice chattered to him of his extraordinary good fortune in being
able to go to Italy, to live among the orange groves and with the
greatest galleries of the world to roam in, the most beautiful scenery
and the most delightful food.

The mention of food made Mendel think of his mother's unsavoury dishes
and sluttish table, the most distasteful feature of his existence, but
he preferred even that to the Italy of Maurice Birnbaum and Sir
William. Through such people, he knew, lay nothing that he could ever
desire.

As soon as he reached home he told his mother that they wanted to send
him abroad to study. He strode about the kitchen and waved his arms,
growling:--

"Study? Study? I want to be an artist, not a student. I _am_ an
artist. I know art students when I see them--the Academy, South
Kensington, the Detmold--they are all the same. Let them go abroad and
never come back. No one will miss them, not even their fathers and
mothers, if they have anything so natural. I will not go--I will not
go!"

"But if the Maurice Birnbaum thinks you must go, then you must," said
Golda. "It is their money that has been spent on you."

"They've spent enough," cried Mendel, "without that. I don't want
their money any more. They know that. They want to keep me in their
hands and to say that they made me. They? People like that! God made
me, and they want to keep me all my life saying how grateful I am to
them. Grateful? I am not."

"But you could go for a little while."

"I will not go at all."

He sat down and wrote to Maurice Birnbaum saying that he would not go
to Italy, that he did not want any more of his commissions, and that
he would not be interfered with any more. He would shortly repay every
penny he had had, and he asked only to be allowed to know best what he
wanted to do.

"Everything that I love is here in London, and I can only learn from
what I love. I am one kind of artist and you want to turn me into
another kind. You will only waste your money, and I will not let you
do it."

Maurice never answered this letter and patronage and that of his
friends was withdrawn.

Mendel plunged more ardently than ever into his career with Mitchell
and the others, but found that they were not prepared to share or to
admit the new freedom which he had begun to enjoy. The Birnbaum
patronage had always to a certain extent restrained him, but now that
it was shaken off he plunged madly and wildly into every kind of
extravagance. He was no longer content to be the equal of the others.
He wanted to lead them. He was the most successful of them all, and he
wanted them all to join him in forcing art upon London. Calthrop had
shown them the way, but he had unaccountably stopped short. He had
many imitators, and there were even women who looked like his type,
but it all ended in his personality. . . . Art was something else:
something outside that, an impersonal thing, which London should be
made to recognize. The pictures of Kühler, Mitchell, Weldon, and
Kessler should be, as it were, only forerunners of the mighty pictures
that should be painted. . . .

He was just as extreme and violent in his vices as he was in his
idealism, and even Mitchell was rather upset by his pranks and
caprices. It was one thing to take a shy tame genius among your
acquaintance, quite another when the genius ran wild and dragged you
hither and thither and with breathless haste from the vilest human
company to the most dizzily soaring ideas. Weldon, who was uncommonly
shrewd, had begun to see the danger of allowing Hetty Finch to arrange
their affairs, and when on top of that Mendel, drunk with freedom and
success, began to take charge, he thought it time to secure himself
and began to withdraw from their undertakings and adventures.

At last Kessler struck, and told Mendel that he might be the greatest
genius that was ever born, but should sometimes try to remember that
his friends were gentlemen and could not always be making allowances
for his birth and upbringing. This happened in the Paris Café. Mendel
fell like a shot bird, like a stone. The eager words froze on his
lips, his face visibly contracted and became haggard, his eyes blinked
for a moment, then stared glassily. He sat so for some minutes, then
rose from the table and walked quickly out of the café.

He did not appear for a week, nor was anything heard of him. He sat at
home working furiously. Hetty Finch went to see him, but he turned her
out, telling her that she was a hateful, cold-hearted woman and that
he would never see her again.

At last he wrote to Mitchell, a letter of agony, for Mitchell, his
friend, seemed to him the worst offender, by not having warned him of
what was in the air:--

"You are my friend," he wrote, "my only friend. It is no more to you
what I am, where or how I was born, than it is to me what you are. The
soul of a man chooses his friend, and I trusted you even in my folly.
You could have defended me and our friendship. You have not done so
and I must live miserably without you. Good-bye. I shall not attempt
again to enter a life in which my work is not sufficient
recommendation. I was happy. I was not happy before. I am not happy
now. I have been foolish, but I was your friend."

Mitchell was irritated by this letter, but he was also moved. He
valued Mendel's sincerity, which had continually jolted him out of his
natural indolence. And, as he had a fine talent and a fairly strong
desire to use it to the full, the friendship had profited him. It had
also helped him to come to reasonable terms with that great man, his
father.

On the other hand he was in this difficulty, that he too had been
slipping out of the quintette through his new friendship with Miss
Greta Morrison and her friend, Miss Edith Clowes. Knowing Mendel's
contempt for the "top-knots," he had said nothing of this matter, and
had found it sometimes difficult to account for the afternoons and
evenings given to the dilemma of discovering whether Miss Morrison or
Miss Clowes were the love of his life. Mendel was an exacting friend,
and, as he concealed nothing, expected no concealment.

Mitchell, like the true Englishman he was, deplored the unpleasant
complication, but left it to time, impulse, or inspiration to unravel.
Impulse, in due course, came to his aid and he invented a plan. First
of all he wrote a manly note to Mendel, confessing his inability to
understand why he should suffer for Kessler's caddishness, and
declaring that friendship could not be so lightly broken. He received
no reply to this, and proceeded by taking Morrison and Clowes (as in
the fashion of the Detmold they were called) to see the docks at
Rotherhithe. While there he gazed from Morrison to Clowes and from
Clowes to Morrison, unable to decide which he loved, for both gave him
an equal contraction of the heart, and then he told them that ships
had never been properly painted, never _expressed_ in form and colour;
and then he added that it was clearly a man's job, and then he
informed them that only a short distance away lived Mendel Kühler.

"Would you like to go and see him?" he asked. "It is the queerest
thing to go and see him. A filthy street, a dark house, a ramshackle
staircase, and there you are--absolutely one of the finest painters
the Detmold has ever turned out."

"Do let us go and see him!" said Clowes, who had decided in her own
mind that she was the third of the party and in the way. Morrison said
nothing, and looked very solemn, as though she regarded the visit as
an event--something to be half dreaded. She had a very charming air of
diffidence, as though she were very happy and knew this to be an
unusual and peculiar condition. Often she smiled to herself, and then
seemed to shake the smile away, feeling perhaps that she, a slip of a
girl, had no right to be amused by a world so vast and so varied.

She had enjoyed herself. The ships had stirred her romantically, and
she could not at all agree with Mitchell about painting them, for were
they not works of art in themselves? They moved her in the same way,
arresting her eyes and delighting them, and touching her emotions so
that they began to creep and tickle their way through her whole being.
. . . O wonderful world to contain so much delight! And it pleased her
that the ships should start out of the squalor of the docks like
lilies out of a dark pond.

She smiled and shook the smile away when Mitchell spoke of Mendel
Kühler. She remembered once meeting Mendel on the stairs at the
Detmold. She had often noticed him--strange-looking, white-faced,
romantic, with a look of suffering in his eyes that marked him out
from all the other young men. . . . After she had passed him on the
stairs she turned to look at him, and at the same moment he turned and
she trembled and blushed, and her eyes shone as she hurried on her
way.

Mitchell had told her a great deal about him, and she had heard other
people say that he was detestable, an ill-mannered egoist. She
supposed he was so, for she rarely questioned what other people said,
but he remained a clear figure for her, the romantic-looking young man
who had looked back on the stairs.

"We'll take him by surprise," said Mitchell, with a sudden qualm lest
they should break in upon Mendel and Hetty Finch together. "If we told
him he would hide all his work away and put on a white shirt and have
flowers on the table, for he is terrified of ladies. He says they
don't look like women to him."

"I'm sure," said Clowes, "I don't want to look like a woman to any
man."

This was the most encouraging remark Mitchell had had from either
during the day, and he decided that he was in love with Clowes.

A brisk walk through narrow dingy streets brought them, with some help
from the police, to the door of Issy's house. Mitchell knocked and a
grimy little Jewess opened to them.

"Mr. Mendel Kühler?" said Mitchell.

"Upstairs to the top," replied the Jewess as she hurried away. They
climbed the shabbily carpeted stairs and knocked at the door of the
studio. Mendel opened it. He stood with a brush in his hand, blinking.
He stared at Mitchell and then beyond him at Morrison.

"Come in," he said. "I'd just finished. I've been working rather hard
and haven't spoken to a soul for three days. You must forgive me if I
don't seem very intelligent."

They went in and he made tea for them, hardly ever taking his eyes off
Morrison. He said pointedly to Mitchell:--

"So you came down to the East End to find me."

Clowes explained:--

"I'm a stranger to London and had never seen the docks, you know."

"I have never seen the docks either, though I live so near," said he.
Then, catching Morrison glancing in the direction of his easel, he
turned his work for her to see, almost ignoring the others. Afterwards
he produced drawings for her to see, and he seemed entirely bent on
pleasing her, which so embarrassed her that, when she could escape his
gaze, she looked imploringly over at the others. They could not help
her, and he went on until he had shown her every piece of work in the
studio. Whenever she spoke, shyly and diffidently, as though she knew
her opinion was of no value, he gave a queer little grunt of triumph,
and his eyes glittered as he looked over at Mitchell, as though to say
that he too knew how to treat the "top-knots" and to please them.



X

MORRISON

A FEW days later he wired to Morrison at the Detmold to ask her to sit
for him. She made no reply and did not come.

Very well then: he would not budge. He would only approach Mitchell
again through the "top-knots," who lived in a portion of Mitchell's
world that had hitherto been closed to him. It promised new adventure,
and he was so eager for it that he would not enter upon any other
outside his work.

The days went by and he began a portrait of his mother, with which he
intended to make his first appearance at an important exhibition.
Golda sat dressed in her best on the throne, and tried vainly to
soothe him as he cursed and stamped and wept over his difficulties:

"I can't do it! I can't do it!" he wailed. "I'm a fool, a blockhead, a
pig! If I could only do one little thing more to it I could make it a
great picture."

"You are always the same," said Golda. "In Austria, when you were a
little boy, the soldiers made you a uniform like their own. They used
to call you the Captain, and they saluted you in the street, only they
forgot to give you any boots, and when the soldiers marched by, you
stamped and roared because you were not allowed to go with them, and I
could not make you understand that you were not a real captain."

"But I am a real artist," he growled. "You'll never make me understand
that I am not a real artist."

"Nothing good was ever done in a hurry," said she. "If you run so fast
you will break your head against a wall."

"I shall paint many portraits of you, for I shall never be satisfied.
You may as well sit here with your hands folded as over there in the
kitchen. If I'm not careful your hands will grow all over the picture.
I have put such a lot of work into them."

Then for a long time he was silent, and both were lost in a dreamlike
happiness--to be together, alone with his work, bound together in his
delight as they used to be when he was a child before the invasion of
their peace.

He went to the door in answer to a knock and found Morrison standing
there with some flowers in her hands.

"Oh!" he said awkwardly, holding the door. "Won't you come in? Please.
I am painting my mother."

Golda's eyes lighted with pleasure on the fresh-looking girl and her
flowers.

"She is like a flower herself," she thought, and indeed the girl
looked as though she were fresh from the country.

She held out her hand to Golda, who stood up on the throne and bobbed
to her, then folded her hands on her stomach and waited patiently for
the lady to break the awkwardness that had sprung up between the three
of them. Mendel could do nothing. He looked from one to the other and
felt, with a little tremor of horror, the gulf that separated the two.

At last Morrison said to Golda:--

"I am very glad to see you, though I feel I know you quite well from
the drawings he has done of you."

Golda broke into inarticulate expressions of the delight it was to her
to see any of her son's friends, and saying that she would have a
special tea sent up, she edged towards the door and slipped out.

"Why didn't you come before?" asked Mendel, when he had heard the door
bang. "I sent you a telegram. I wanted to paint your portrait, and now
I have begun something else."

"I didn't want to come," replied she, "but something Mitchell said
made me want to come."

"What did he say?"

"He told me about Kessler, and I thought it was a shame. I thought it
was a horrible shame that you should be treated like that, as if
anything mattered but your work."

Her voice rather irritated him. Her accent was rather mincing and
precise, and between her sentences she gave a little gasp which he
took for an affectation.

"Why did Mitchell tell you that?"

"He tells me a great deal about you, and he was really upset by your
letter."

"Was he? Was he?"

Mendel had no thought but for Mitchell. He longed to go to him, to
embrace him, to tell him that all was different now. He blurted it all
out to the girl.

"We were so happy, the four of us together. Every evening we met and
we were like kings. Everything that we wanted to do we did. We had
money and success and all such foolish things, and we worked hard, all
of us. There were not in London four young men like us, and I was free
of the terrible people who wanted to turn me into an ordinary
successful painter--a portrait painter. I tell you, I have never had a
commission in my life that was not a failure. I only wanted to be
young and to work, for I had never been young before. And then
suddenly, out of nothing, my friends turned on me and told me I was a
Jew and uneducated, and ought to treat them with more respect. Why?
The Jews are good people, and what do I want with education? Can books
teach me how to paint? I tell you the Jews are good people."

Tea was brought up on a lacquer tray--bread, jam, and cake. They were
both hungry and fell to with a will, hardly speaking at all.

When they had finished they began to talk of pictures and of the lives
of the painters, and he told her stories of Michael Angelo and
Rembrandt: how Michael Angelo never took his boots off, and was never
in love in his life; and how Rembrandt was practically starved to
death. Then he showed her reproductions of Cranach and Dürer, whom at
the time he adored, and they bent over them, the chestnut head and the
curly black together. Gradually she led him on to tell of his own
life, and he began at the beginning in Austria, holding her
spell-bound with his vivid, picturesque talk.

"It makes me feel very quiet and dull," she said. "I don't think I
ever regarded places outside England as real, somehow. There was just
home and London, and London seemed to be the end of everything. All
the trains stop there, you know."

"Where is your home?" he asked.

"In Sussex. It is very beautiful country."

"How did you come to the Detmold?"

"A girl at home had been there, and at school they said I was no good
at anything but drawing. Indeed, I was sent away from two schools, and
at home I was such a trouble that mother decided I must do something
to earn my living. So I was sent up to the Detmold. I had my hair down
my back then."

"I remember," said he. "In a plait."

She smiled with pleasure at that.

"Yes," she said. "In a plait. I lived in a hostel, where they bullied
me because I was so untidy and was always being late for meals. At
home, you know, there were only my brothers, and my mother could never
keep them in order, and I was always treated as if I was a boy too.
. . . And I think that's all."

She ended so lamely that his irritation got the better of him, and he
jumped to his feet. It seemed to him that his view of the "top-knots"
was confirmed. They were simply negligible. He was baffled, and stood
staring down at her. Was she no more interested in herself than that?
Comparing the smooth monotony of her life with his, he waxed
impatient, and told himself he was a fool to have invited her to come
to him.

He began to study her face with a view to painting it, and he was
absorbed and fascinated by it. The lines of her cheek and of her neck
made him itch to draw them.

"Yes," he said, "I must paint you. I can do something good. I'm sure I
can."

"I wanted to ask if you would mind my painting you," she said.

He was aghast at her impudence. She, a slip of a girl, a "top-knot,"
paint the great Kühler!

She saw how horrified he was and added hastily:--

"Of course, I won't insist if you don't like sitting."

She rose to go and he begged her to stay.

"Don't go yet," he said with sudden emotion. "I don't want you to go.
Somehow I feel as if you had been sitting there always and I don't
want you to go. If you don't want to talk you needn't, but you must
stay. I could see that my mother liked you at once, and she always
knows good people. You made her happy about me. It was like sunshine
to her when you came in, and I shall be wretched if you go, for I
don't know what to think about you."

"I know what I think about you."

"What do you think?"

"You have made me feel that London isn't just a place where the trains
stop."

And she began to tell him about her home and the river where she
bathed with her brothers, the woods where in spring there were
primroses and daffodils, and in summer bluebells.

"Opposite the house," she said, "is a hill which is a common, all
covered with gorse in the summer, and the hot, nutty smell of it comes
up and seems to burn your face. There are snakes on the common--vipers
and adders and grass-snakes. From the top you can see the downs, and
beyond them, you know, is the sea. On moonlight nights it is glorious,
and I nearly go mad sometimes with running in and out of the shadows.
I believe I did go mad once, for I sat up on the top of the hill and
sang and shouted and cried, all by myself, and I felt that my heart
would break if I did not kiss something. The gorse was out, and I
buried my face in the dewy yellow flowers. . . . I often think the
woods are like churches on Easter Day. . . . And then when I get home
and it is just a house and I am just a girl living in it, you know, it
all seems wrong somehow."

Mendel sat on the floor trying to puzzle out this mysterious rapture
of hers. He had never heard of gorse or of downs, but he could
recognize her emotion. He had had something like it the first time he
saw a may-tree in blossom, and he had hardly been able to bear it. He
had rather resented it, for it had interfered with his work for a day
or two, and he could not help feeling that there was something
indecent about an emotion with which he could do nothing.

"Yes," he said heavily; "it must be very pretty."

She shivered at the grotesqueness of his words as she sank back into
her normal mood of happy diffidence. His face wore an expression of
black anger as he darted quick, furious glances at her. Here was
something that he did not understand, something that defied his
mastery, and when she smiled he thought it was at himself, and this
strange power that had been behind her appeared to him as a mocking,
teasing spirit. Let it mock, let it tease! He was strong enough to
defy it. Sweep through a green girl it might, but he was not to be
caught by it. He knew better. In him it had tough simplicity to deal
with and a will that had broken the confinement of Fate, the limits of
a meagre religion, to bend before no authority but that of art. . . .
He was rather contemptuous, too. Nothing as yet had resisted his
genius, and he felt it within him stronger than ever, a river with a
thousand sources. Block one channel and it would find another. Stop
that and it would find yet another.

Yet here he knew was no direct, no open menace, only the intolerable
suggestion that there were other streams, other sources, and the
suggestion had come from this foolish, empty girl.

"I will not have it," he said half aloud.

"What did you say?" she asked.

"Nothing. I was thinking--I was thinking that there is nothing so good
as London. They tried to send me to Italy, but I know that there is
nothing so good as London for life, and where life is, there is art. I
don't want your pretty places and your pretty feelings. I want to go
through the streets and to see the girls in the evening leaving the
shops, and the men in their bowler-hats looking at the girls and
wanting them, and the fat men in their motor-cars, and the bookstalls
on the railway stations, and the public-houses with their rows of
bottles and the white handles of the beer machines, and the plump
barmaids, and the long, straight streets going on for ever with the
flat houses on either side of them, and the markets and the
timber-yards and the tall chimneys. It all fills your mind and makes
patterns and whirling thoughts that take a spiral shape, going up and
up to mysterious heights. I want all that, and nothing shall take it
from me, do you hear?"

He turned on her ferociously, as though she were trying to rob him.

"And inside it all is something solid," he went on. "Do you know that
my father never loved but one woman in all his life? That's what Jews
are. They know what's solid. If they have to stay in the filth to keep
it, then they'll stay in the filth. And because I'm a Jew I'm not to
be caught with your pretty things and your little fancies. I shall
paint the things I understand, and I'll leave the clouds and the
rainbows and the roofs and chimneys to fools like Mitchell."

Morrison sat very meekly while he talked. She hung her head and
twitched her fingers nervously. She was elated by his passion, but she
too had her dreams and was not going to surrender them. His strength
had given her confidence in them and in herself, and she was filled
with a teasing spirit.

"Jews aren't the only people who are solid," she said. "You see men in
buses and trains whom an earthquake wouldn't move, and I'm sure, if an
earthquake happened, my mother would be left where she was, reading
the Bible."

Mendel replied:--

"In a thousand years my mother will be just as she is now."

Morrison stared at him and began to wonder if he was not a little mad.
He added simply:--

"I feel like that."

And she was relieved and thought he was the only sane person she had
ever met in her life.

"Will you let me come again?" she asked.

"I am going to paint you," he said; "I am going to paint you as you
are. You won't like it."

"I shall if you make me solid," she answered. "And you need flowers in
this dark room. You must let me send you some."



BOOK TWO

BOHEMIA



I

THE POT-AU-FEU

AT the exhibition, the portrait of Golda created no small stir. The
critics, who, since Whistler, had been chary of denouncing new-comers,
had swung to the opposite extravagance and were excessively eager to
discover new masters. The youth of this Kühler made him fair game, for
it supplied them with a proviso. They could hail his talent as that of
a prodigy without committing themselves.

"The portrait of the artist's mother," wrote one of them, "has all the
essentials of great art, as the early compositions of Mozart had all
the essentials of great music. Here is real achievement, a work of art
instinct with racial feeling, and therefore of true originality. No
trace here of Parisian experiments. This picture is in the direct line
from Holbein and Dürer."

Mendel took this to mean that he was as good as Holbein and Dürer, and
accepted it not as praise but as a statement of fact. The picture was
bought by a well-known connoisseur, who wrote that he was proud to
have such a picture in his collection.

"Now," thought the proud painter, "my career has really begun."

For once in a way he regarded his success with his father's eyes and
much as Moscowitsch would have regarded the successful coup in
business for which he was always vainly striving. The hectic gambling
spirit introduced by Hetty Finch had disappeared, and though he still
devoted his leisure to Mitchell, their adventurousness was tempered by
the tantalization of the "top-knots," Morrison and Clowes. To
counteract the disturbing effect of their coolness, Mendel became very
Jewish and hugged his success, gloating over it rather like a cat over
a stolen piece of fish.

Morrison's indifference to the buzz about his name was especially
maddening, because he wished to prove to her that in painting dwelt a
joy beside which her trumpery little ecstasy in woods and flowers was
nothing, nothing at all. He wished to convince himself that he had not
been really disturbed by her first visit to his studio. Only the shock
of novelty he had felt, and by his success, by his triumphant work, he
had obliterated it. . . . She was nothing, he told himself, only a raw
girl, smooth and polished by her easy life, good for nothing except to
be made love to by such as Mitchell.

Love? They called it love when a young man clasped a maiden's hand, or
when they kissed and rode together on the tops of buses! These
Christians were rather disgusting with all their talk of love. He had
heard more talk of it in three years of contact with them than in all
his life before, and Weldon and others had talked of love in
connection with Hetty Finch.

Disgusting!

And now here was Mitchell babbling of his love for Morrison. When
Mendel wanted to talk of pictures and art and the old painters who had
worked simply without reference to success, Mitchell kept dragging him
back to Morrison, her simplicity, her extraordinary childlike
innocence, her love of beauty, her generous trustfulness, her queer
sudden impulses.

"What has such a girl as that to do with art or with artists?" said
Mendel furiously. "An artist wants women as he wants his food, when he
has time for them."

"Gawd!" says Mitchell, trotting along by his side; "you don't know
what you are talking about. I tell you I never believed all that trash
about a young man being redeemed by a virtuous girl until now."

"It's nonsense!" shouted Mendel; "nonsense, I tell you. It must be
nonsense, because it didn't matter to you whether it was Clowes or
Morrison, and for all I know, it may be both."

"Clowes is a jolly nice girl too," replied Mitchell, "but she's more
ordinary. I never met anyone like Morrison before. I can't make her
out, but she does make me feel that I am an absolute rotter. It is her
fresh enjoyment of simple things that disturbs me and makes me see
what a mess I've made of my life. Once an artist loses that, he is
finished."

They had been reading Tolstoi on "What is Art?" and their young
conceit had been put out by it. Must their extraordinary powers
produce work accessible to the smallest intelligence? Mendel had been
greatly influenced by that theory in his portrait of his mother, while
Mitchell's energy had been paralysed so that he could produce nothing
at all.

"Yes," Mitchell went on, "I know now what Tolstoi means. He means that
love can speak direct to love, and, by Jove! it is absolutely true.
Brains are only a nuisance to an artist. Look at Calthrop! He hasn't
got the brains of a louse. Of course, that is why painters are such an
ignorant lot. I must tell my father that when he goes for me for not
reading."

"But Tolstoi liked bad artists!" grumbled Mendel. "And my mother does
not like some of my best things. As for my father, he wants a painted
bread to look as if he could eat it: never is he satisfied just to
look at it. His love and my love are not the same and cannot speak to
each other."

"You should see more of Morrison, and then you would understand,"
rejoined Mitchell.

Mendel felt that Mitchell was slipping away from him, and all this
Christian talk of love was to him a corrosion upon his imagination and
his nervous energy, blurring and distorting everything that he valued.
There were many things that he hated, and yet because he hated them
their interest for him was consuming. Issy's wife, for instance, and
her squalling children; his father's bitter tongue; and Mitchell's odd
self-importance.

He repeated:--

"Tolstoi liked bad artists."

"You can't settle a big man like Tolstoi just by repeating phrases
about him."

"I can settle him by painting good pictures," retorted Mendel. "I
don't paint pictures to please people."

"Then why do you paint?"

"I don't know. To be an artist. Because there is a thing called art
which matters to me more than all the love and all the women and all
the little girls in the world."

"Ah!" sighed Mitchell. "You'll soon think differently. I shall never
do another stroke of work without thinking of Greta standing on Kew
Bridge and looking up the river at the boats with their white sails."

"Will you be quiet?" cried Mendel; "will you be quiet with your little
girls and white sails?"

Mitchell seemed to be slipping away from him, and he dreaded the
thought of being left alone with his success, which was blowing a bulb
of glass round him, so that he felt imprisoned in it, and wherever he
looked could see nothing but reflections of himself, Mendel Kühler,
painting his mother, and his father, and old Jews and loaves and
fishes for ever and ever. While he clung to Mitchell he knew that he
could not be so encased, but Mitchell demanded that he should go out
with him into a world all glowing with love, with rivers of milk and
honey and meadows pied with buttercups and daisies; to stand on airy
bridges and gaze at innocent little girls and white sails. The
contemplation of this world revolted him, and he stiffened himself
against it. Better the smells and the dirt than such fantastical
stuff. His gorge rose against it.

To wean Mitchell from his amorous fancies he pretended that he was
tired and wanted a holiday, and together they went down to a village
on the South Coast near Brighton. There it was almost as it had been
in the beginning. For a fortnight they were never out of each other's
company. They slept in one bed and shared each other's clothes,
paints, and money. They sketched the same subjects, took tremendous
walks, and in the evening they talked as though there were no London,
no Paris Café, no exhibitions, no dealers, no critics, nothing but
themselves and their friendship and their artistic projects. Mendel
was supremely happy. Never had he known such intimacy since the days
of Artie Beech.

But Mitchell was often depressed and moody. He had letters every day,
and every evening he wrote at great length.

One morning he had a letter which he crumpled up dramatically and
thrust into his trousers pocket.

"Gawd!" he said. "That's put the lid on it. I'm done for."

"What is it?" asked Mendel, aghast.

"I'll tell you when we get back to London. We must go back this
afternoon. Eight o'clock in the Pot-au-Feu."

The Pot-au-Feu was a little restaurant in Soho which Mitchell, Weldon,
and some others had endeavoured to render immortal by decorating it
with panels. In a room above it lived Hetty Finch.

Mendel's thoughts flew to her, a figure of ill omen. He had not seen
her for some time, and had imagined that she had so successfully got
all she wanted and was so thoroughly established in her composite
profession that she had no time for the younger artists. He had heard
tales about her, and fancied she would succeed in hooking one of the
older men for a husband.

He said:--

"Why do you want to go back to that beastly place? Here it is good. I
could stay here for six months."

"Gawd!" said Mitchell dismally. "'Tis life. There's absolutely no
getting away from it. Everything is swallowed up and nothing is left."

He became very solemn and added:--

"If anything happens to me, Kühler, I want you to go to Greta Morrison
and tell her that through everything I never forgot my happiness with
her."

"Happen!" cried Mendel. "What can happen?"

"I'll tell you to-night," replied Mitchell gloomily, "at the
Pot-au-Feu."

And not another word did he say, neither during their morning's work,
nor during lunch, nor in the train, nor in the taxi-cab that took them
to Soho.

"You wait outside," said Mitchell mysteriously.

Mendel waited outside and paced up and down, oppressed with the idea
that his friendship with Mitchell was at an end. He was left helpless
and exposed, for all that had been built on the friendship had come
toppling down, and with it came the extra personality he had developed
for dealing with the Detmold and the polite world--the Kühler who had
assiduously learned manners and phrases, vices and enthusiasms, as a
part to be played at the Paris Café and in the drawing-rooms of the
languid ladies who were interested in art and artists. Hetty Finch
went with it, for she had been an adjunct of that personality. . . .
He was glad to be rid of her, and shook her off, plucked her out of
his mind like a burr that was stuck upon it.

After a quarter of an hour or so Mitchell came out more mysterious
than ever, took his arm and led him into the restaurant, which was
hardly bigger than an ordinary room. Full of vigour and health as he
was, Mendel felt an enormous size in it, as though he must knock over
the tables and thrust his elbows through the painted panels. Madame
Feydeau, the proprietress, greeted him with a wide smile and said she
had missed him lately. At his table was the goggle-eyed man who dined
there every night with his newspaper open in front of him. Weldon and
a girl with short hair were sitting in uncomfortable silence, both
with the air of doing a secret thing. Near the counter, with its
dishes of fruit and coffee-glasses, was Hetty Finch, rather drawn and
pinched in the face and very dark under the eyes.

Mendel was filled with impatience. She had no business to be sitting
there, for he had disposed of her, and she made everything seem
fantastic and unreal. He shook hands with her and sat at the table.
Mitchell took the chair next to Hetty and talked to her in an
undertone, while her eyes turned on Mendel with a frightened,
inquiring expression.

"All right," he said, as though he had understood her question. "I
know when to hold my tongue."

Mitchell went on whispering, and every now and then he bowed his head
and clenched his fists, as though he were racked with inexpressible
emotions. He too had become fantastic. Mendel knew that he was
play-acting, and with a sickening dread he went back over all he knew
of Mitchell, recognizing this same play-acting in much that he had
accepted as genuine. Yet he would not believe it, for Mitchell was his
friend, and therefore never to be criticized.

Would neither of them speak? Food was laid before him, and he ate it
without tasting it. Mitchell led Hetty away to another table and
talked to her impressively there. Then he brought her back and went on
with his whispering.

Coffee was laid before Mendel, and he drank it without tasting it.

At last Hetty said, in a loud voice that rang through the room:--

"No. I will take nothing from you. I ask nothing from you, not a
penny."

"By God," said Mitchell, hanging his head, "I deserve it."

Hetty turned to Mendel and asked him sweetly to buy her a bottle of
wine, as she needed something to pick her up.

"You are a devil," she said, "sitting there as though nothing had
happened. But I always said you were a devil and no good. I always
said so, but I have my friends and can be independent."

"Don't be a fool," said he roughly. "You'll have a short run, and
you'd better find something to fall back on while you can."

"Get your hair cut!" she replied. "I know which side my bread's
buttered, and the old men aren't so sharp as the young ones. You've
got a fool's tongue in your clever head, Kühler, and a fool's tongue
makes enemies."

"Shut up!" he said. "And you leave Mitchell alone. He hasn't done you
any harm."

"Ho! Hasn't he?" she cried.

Mitchell groaned, and, giving a withering glance at the two of them,
Hetty gathered up her vanity-bag and gloves and walked out of the
restaurant.

"She's a slut!" said Mendel. "She always was a slut and always will
be."

"Gawd!" cried Mitchell. "It was you let her loose on the town, and I
shall never hold up my head again. I shall never be able to face my
people. I shall just let myself be swallowed up in London. . . . But I
shan't trouble any of my friends. When I'm a pimp I shan't mind if you
look the other way. After all, it isn't so far to fall. There's not
much difference between the ordinary artist and a pimp."

"What has she done to you?" cried Mendel furiously. "Why do you let
yourself be put down by a drab like that?"

"She's not a drab," said Mitchell, in a curious thin of protest. "She
is the mother of my child."

Mendel brought his fist down on the table with a thump, so that the
cups jumped from their saucers.

"She is what?"

"The mother of my child," said Mitchell, burying his face in his
hands. "I have offered to marry her, to make an honest woman of her,
but she refuses, and she will take nothing from me. Gawd! How can I
ever face Morrison again? How can I face my mother?"

"Rubbish! Rubbish! Rubbish!" cried Mendel. "Why you? Why not
Weldon--why not Calthrop?" He saw the goggle-eyed man listening
eagerly and lowered his voice. "A drab like that deserves all she
gets. She takes her risks, and I'll say this for her, that she does
not complain. She's clever enough to know how to deal with it. . . ."

He wanted to say a great deal more, but realized that Mitchell, intent
upon his own emotions, was not listening to him. Also, through the
fantastic atmosphere, he began to be aware of a reality powerful and
horrible. Against it Hetty seemed to be of no account, and Mitchell's
excitement was palpably false.

This reality had been called into being by no one's will, and
therefore it was horrible.

"I shall have to disappear," said Mitchell.

Mendel did not hear him speak. His own will was aroused by the
devastating reality. Because it was physical he exulted in it, and his
will struggled to master it. He could not endure his friend's
helplessness and he wanted above all to help him, to make him see that
this thing was at least powerful; evil and ugly, perhaps, but much too
vital to be subdued or conquered by fantasy and theatrical emotions.
He found Mitchell bewildering. Sentimentality always baffled him, for
it seemed to him so superficial as to be not worth bothering about and
so complicated as to defy unravelling. He knew that Mitchell was
horrified and afraid, and that it was natural enough, but fear was not
a thing to be encouraged.

He said:--

"Hetty knows perfectly well that she can manage it better without
you."

"I know," replied Mitchell. "That's what makes me feel such an awful
worm."

Mendel lost all patience. If a man was going to take pleasure in
feeling a worm, there was nothing to be done with him. He called the
waiter, paid the bill, and stumped out of the Pot-au-Feu leaving
Mitchell staring blankly at the goggle-eyed man.

* * * * *

A few days later he met Edgar Froitzheim leaving the National Gallery
as he entered it.

"Oh! Kühler," said Froitzheim. "The very man I wanted to see. I am
very proud about the picture--very proud. But I wanted to see you
about young Mitchell. He is a friend of yours, isn't he? He is
behaving very badly to a young model. Such a pretty girl. Hetty Finch.
You know her? She is in trouble through him, and he refuses to do
anything for her. I'm told he has Nietzschean ideas. I sent for the
girl. It is a very sad story and I have raised a subscription for her:
fifty pounds to see her through. . . . Do try and bring Mitchell to
reason."

"I'll do what I can," replied Mendel, and he walked on to pay his
daily homage to Van Eyck and Chardin, who were his heroes at the time.

That evening at the Paris Café he heard of another subscription having
been raised for Hetty, and Calthrop growled and grumbled and said he
had given her twenty pounds.

Mendel reckoned it up and he found that she was being paid for her
delinquency more than he could hope to receive for many months of
painful work.

As he finished his calculation he was amazed to see Mitchell come in
with Morrison, whom he had declared he could never face again, and
when Mendel rose to go over and join them she gave him only a curt
little nod which told him plainly that he was not wanted.



II

LOGAN

ONCE again Mendel decided that Mitchell, and with him London life, had
fallen away from him. The Paris Café could never be the same again,
and he plunged into despair, and thought seriously of accepting a
Jewish girl with four hundred pounds whom a match-maker offered to
him. Four hundred pounds was not to be sneezed at. It would keep him
going for some years, so that he need not think of selling his
pictures, which he always hated to part with. And the girl was just
bearable.

The figure delighted his father and mother, for it showed them the
high opinion of their wonder-son held among their own people.

It was terrible to him to find that he had very little pleasure in his
work, which very often gave him excruciating pain. He took it to mean
that he was coming to an end of his talent. Night after night he sat
on his bed feeling that he must make an end of his life, but always
there was some piece of painting that he must do in the morning,
painful though it might be.

He had letters from Mitchell, but did not answer them, and at last
"the schoolboy," as Golda called him, turned up, gay and smiling and
rather elated.

"I've discovered a great man," he said with the awkward, jerky gesture
he used in his more eloquent moments. "Absolutely a great man. Reminds
me of Napoleon. Wonderful head, wonderful! His name is Logan--James
Logan--and he wants to know you. He is a painter, and absolutely
independent. He comes from the North--Liverpool or one of those
places. I haven't seen his work, but I met him at the Pot-au-Feu the
other night. He asked me if I was not a friend of yours, as he thought
he had seen me with you. He said: 'Kühler is the only painter of
genius we have.' I spent the evening with him. I never heard such
talk. It made the old Detmold seem like a girls' school. . . . Hallo!
Still-life again? What a rum old stick you are for never going outside
your four walls!"

"What I paint is inside me, not outside," said Mendel, trembling with
rage at Mitchell looking at his work before he had offered to show it.

"Will you come and see Logan?"

"No. I am sick of painters. I want to know decent people."

"But I promised I would bring you, and he admires your work. He is
poor too, as poor as you are."

"Can't he sell?"

"It isn't that so much as that he doesn't try. He says he had almost
despaired of English painting until he saw your work."

"How old is he?"

"A good deal older than us. Twenty-six, I should think."

"Why don't you just stick to me?" asked Mendel. "What more do you
want? Why must you always go off on a new track? First it's Hetty
Finch, then it's Morrison, and now it's this new man. We were happy
enough by ourselves. Why do you want anything more? I don't."

"You're used to living on dry bread. I'm not. I want butter with mine,
and jam, if I can get it."

"Then get it and don't bother me to go chasing after it. I want to
work."

"Oh, rot! All that stuff about artists starving in garrets is out of
date. It only happened because they couldn't find patrons, but
nowadays there are dealers and buyers. . . . Just look at the money
you are making."

"Then why is this Logan poor?"

"He isn't known yet. He doesn't know the artists because he never went
to a London school. He was doing quite well in the North, but threw it
all up because he couldn't stand living in such a filthy town. He had
a teaching job somewhere in Hammersmith, but he threw that up because
he wanted his time to himself."

"That sounds as if painting means something to him."

"Do come and see him."

"Oh! very well."

"I'll send him a wire and we'll go to-night."

They dined at the Pot-au-Feu, and later made the expedition to
Hammersmith, where they came to a block of studios surrounded by a
scrubby garden. These studios were large and well-kept and did not
tally with the description of Logan's poverty. Still less did the
inside give any sign of it. There was a huge red-brick fireplace,
surmounted by old brass and blue china, with great arm-chairs on
either side of it: there were Persian rugs on the floor; two little
windows were filled in with good stained glass, which Mendel knew to
be costly; there were two or three large easels; and the walls were
hung with tapestry. The whole effect was deliberately and preciously
rich.

Logan, who had admitted them to this vast apartment, rushed back at
once to a very large easel on which he had a very small canvas, and
fell to work on it with a furious energy, darting to and fro and
stamping his right foot rather like the big trumpet man in a German
band. He was a medium-sized, plumpish man, with a big, strongly
featured face, big chin, and compressed lips, and long black hair
brushed back from a round, well-shaped brow. He frowned and scowled at
his work. A woman came out of a door and crossed the studio behind
him. He hurled his palette into the air so that it sailed up and fell
with a crash among the brass pots, and barked:--

"How can I work with these constant interruptions? Damn it all, an
artist must have peace!"

He flung his arms behind his back and paced moodily to and fro, with
his head down and his lips pursed up _à la_ Beethoven. He extended the
sphere of his pacing gradually so that he came nearer and nearer to
Mendel, yet without noticing him. Mendel was tremendously excited and
impressed with the man's air of mystery and force. It was like
Calthrop, but without his awkwardness. Mitchell in comparison looked
puny and absurdly young.

Nearer and nearer came Logan, and at last he stopped and fixed Mendel
with a baleful stare, and swung his head up and down three times.

"So you are Kühler?" he said.

Mendel opened his lips, but to his astonishment no sound came out of
them. So desperately anxious was he not to cut a poor figure before
this remarkable man, and not to seem, like Mitchell, pathetically
young.

"Good!" said Logan. "Shake hands." And he crushed Mendel's thin
fingers together. "What I like about you," he went on, "is your sense
of form. Design is all very well in its way, but quite worthless
without form."

Mendel, whose work was still three parts instinctive, could not attach
any precise meaning to these expressions, but he was well up in the
jargon of his craft and could make a good show.

"Art," said Logan, "is an exacting mistress. Shall we go and have a
drink?"

He put on his hat and led the two marvelling youngsters to a
public-house, where he became a different man altogether. The
compression of his lips relaxed, his eyes twinkled and his face shone
with good humour, and he made them and the barmaid and the two or
three men who were shyly taking their beer roar with laughter. He had
an extraordinary gift of mimicry, and told story after story, many of
them against himself, most of them without point, but in the telling
exceedingly comic. Mendel sat up and bristled. It was to him half
shocking, half enviable, that a man, and an artist, should be able to
laugh at himself.

"If you'll give me free drinks for a month," said Logan to the elderly
barmaid, "I'll paint your portrait. Are you married? . . . No? I'll
paint you such a beautiful portrait that it will get you a husband
inside a week."

"I'm not on the marrying lay," said the barmaid.

"Terrible thing, this revolt against marriage," replied Logan, "and
bad luck on us artists. I'm always getting babies left on my
doorstep."

"What do you do with them?" said Mendel, believing him, and astonished
when the others roared with laughter.

"I keep the pretty ones and sell them to childless mothers. Ah! Many's
the time I've gone through the snow, like the heroine in a melodrama
taking her child to the workhouse."

"Oh! go on," tittered the barmaid.

"Certainly," said Logan. "Come along."

As they left the public-house he took Mendel's arm and said:--

"You have to talk to people in their own language, you know."

"Yes," replied Mendel, though this was precisely what he knew least of
all.

"Why don't you go on the stage?" asked Mitchell.

"I have thought of it. I think I might do well on the halls. There's a
life for you! On at eight in Bethnal Green:--

    My old woman's got a wart on her nose;
    How she got it I will now disclose.

Off again in a motor-car to the Oxford:--

    My old woman's got a wart on her nose.

Off again to Hammersmith or Kensal Rise:--

    My old woman's got a wart on her nose.

My God! What a life! But I love the halls. They are all that is left
of old England!"

His parody of the low comedian was so apt and his voice had such a
delicious roll that Mendel could not help laughing, and he began to
feel very happy with the man.

Logan swung back to his serious mood and gripped Mendel's arm tighter
as he said:--

"You have a big future before you. Only stick to it. Don't listen to
the fools who want you to paint the same picture over and over again
with a different subject. There's more stuff in that one little
picture of yours than in all the rest of the exhibition put together."

"Do you think so?" said Mendel, fluttering with excitement.

"I was amazed when I heard you had been to the Detmold with its
Calthrop and all the little Calthrops."

Both the youngsters were silent on that. They had often abused the
Detmold, but with a profound respect in their hearts, and both had
done their full share of imitating Calthrop.

When they reached the studio Mitchell suggested going, but Logan would
not hear of it. He dragged them in and produced whisky and soda, and
kept them talking far into the small hours. His bouncing energy kept
Mendel awake and alert, but Mitchell was soon exhausted and fell
asleep.

"Shall we put him out of the way?" said Logan suddenly. "No one would
know, and the river is handy. He is too clean, too soft, and there are
too many like him. They are in the way of real men like you and me."

Mendel was appalled to find that he could not defend his friend. All
the discontents of his waning friendship came rushing up in him and he
began to babble violently.

"He is a liar and a coward, and he will never be an artist because he
is too weak. He is not true. He is not good. I have trusted him with
my secrets and he tells. He is always ashamed of me because of my
clothes and because I have not been to Public School, and he is
jealous because when we meet women they like me. He is soft and
deceitful with them, but I am honest, and they like that. I wanted him
to be my friend, but it is impossible."

"He is an Englishman," said Logan sepulchrally, with the air of a
Grand Inquisitor.

"Aren't you an Englishman?"

"No, Scotch and French. These Englishmen have no passions, unless they
are mad like Blake. . . . No, no. We'll drop Mitchell overboard. We'll
make him walk the plank, and fishes in the caverns of the sea shall
eat his eyes."

Logan was beginning to assume enormous proportions in Mendel's eyes.
It seemed that there was nothing the tremendous fellow did not know.
He began to talk of genius and the stirring of the creative impulse,
and he gave so powerful an account of Blake that Mendel began to see
visions of heaven and hell. Here was something which he could
acknowledge as larger than himself without self-humiliation, and,
indeed, the larger it loomed the more swiftly did he himself seem to
grow. It was such a sensation as he had not known since the days
before his rapture with Sara. All that had intervened fell away. That
purity of passion returned to him and, choosing Logan for its object,
rushed upon him and endowed him with its own power and beauty. Logan
talking of Blake was to Mendel's innocence as rare as Blake, and he
adored him.

"I had almost given up art," said Logan; "I had almost given it up as
hopeless. How can there be art in a despiritualized country like this,
that lets all its traditions rot away? I was just on the point of
tossing up whether I should go on the stage or take to spouting at the
street corners; for when a country is in such a condition that its
artists are stifled, then it is ripe for revolution. I am instinctive,
you know, like Napoleon. I feel that we are on the threshold of
something big, and that I am to have my share in it. I used to think
it would happen in art, but I despaired of that. It seemed to me that
art in this country could go doddering on for generations, and then I
thought it needed a political upheaval to push it into its grave. But
when I saw your work, I said to myself: Here is the real thing, alive,
personal, profound, skilled. I began to hope again. And now that I
have met you I feel more hopeful still, and, let me tell you, like
most painters, I don't find it easy to like another man's work."

Mendel was fired. Trembling in every limb, he said:--

"It has been the dream of my life to find a friend who would work with
me, think with me, go with me, share with me, not quarrelling with me
because I am not this, that, and the other, but accepting me as I
am--a man who has no country, no home, no love but art."

"That," said Logan, with a portentous scowl and a downward jab of his
thumb, "is what I have been looking for--some one, like yourself, who
was absolutely sincere, absolutely single-minded and resolute. The
spirit of art has brought us together. We will serve it together."

They shook hands like young men on the stage, and Logan fetched a deep
sigh of relief.

Mitchell woke up, saying:--

"Gawd! I've been asleep. Have you two been talking? Gawd! It's two
o'clock."

"I'll walk home with you," said Logan. "We can keep to the river
nearly the whole way by going from side to side."

So they walked while the tide came up, sucking and lapping, while the
red dragons' eyes of the barges came swinging up on it, moving up and
down in a slow, irregular rhythm. It was very cold and the sky was
thickly powdered with stars, whose pin-prick lights were reflected in
the smooth water.

Upon the dome of the young artist's vision that had before been black
with infinite space, stars shone with a tender light. He was in
ecstasy, and seemed to be skimming above the ground, hardly touching
it with his feet. This long walk was like an exquisite dance, while
Logan's rollings were like a pipe. . . . Often he sank into a dream
that he was upon a grassy hill in a mountainy place, he and his
friend, who played upon a pipe so mournfully yet gaily while he
danced, and from the trees fell silvery dewdrops and the songs of
birds, which turned into pennies as they reached the ground and rolled
away down the hill.

Both he and Logan were relieved when Mitchell, who had interrupted
them with inappropriate remarks, turned aside at Vauxhall and vanished
into London.

"So much for Mitchell," said Logan. "You and I need sterner stuff. You
and I are sprung from those among whom life is lived bravely and
bitterly, and we have no use for its parasites. You and I will only
emerge from the bitterness on condition that we can make of life a
spiritual thing, for we are of those who seek authority. Life has none
to offer us now, for all the forms of life are broken. Neither above
us nor below is there authority, neither in heaven nor in hell. We
must seek authority within ourselves, in the marriage of heaven and
hell, in the consummation of good and evil, the two poles of our
nature. It is for us, the artists, to bring them together, to liberate
good and evil in ourselves, that they may rush to the consummation. We
are the priests and the prophets, and we must in no wise be false to
our vision."

Mendel could not fit all this in with his mood and his delicious
dreams, and when it brought him back to his sober senses, he could not
see what it had to do with painting. However, Logan put things right
by saying:--

"You are a poet. You are like Heine. I can see you with your little
Josepha the pale, the executioner's daughter. God rot my soul! It is
years since I had such inspiration as you have given me. I think there
must be Jewish blood in me, for I can certainly understand you through
and through, and you have waked something in me that has always been
asleep. Oh! we shall paint bonny pictures--bonny, bonny pictures."

"You must come to see me every day," said Mendel, "and every night we
will go out together, and I must introduce you to my mother, for she
too has good words."

Logan smacked his lips as they entered the grimy streets near
Spitalfields.

"Pah!" he said; "that's life, that is, good dirty life. I was littered
in a farm-yard myself and I like a good smell. . . . Can you put me up
to-night? I don't mind sleeping on the floor."

"You can have my bed," said Mendel, "and I will sleep downstairs on my
brother's sofa. Please--please. Do sleep in my bed."

Logan accepted the offer and asked Mendel to stay with him while he
undressed. He was unpleasantly fat, but strong and well-built.

He stayed for a long time in front of the mirror.

"See that bulge on the side of my head?" he said as he turned.

Mendel looked, and sure enough his head had a curious bulge on its
right side.

"I had rickets when I was young," said Logan, "and my skull must have
got pushed over. I expect that's what makes me what I am--lop-sided. I
need you to balance me."

He got into bed, and Mendel, reluctant to leave him, sat at his feet
and devoured him with his eyes.

"Surely, surely, now," he thought, "all is perfect now. No more
disturbances, no more Mitchells, no more Hettys, and I shall do only
what I really wish to do."

He stole out into his studio, which was faintly lit from the street
below, and it was as though it were filled with some vast spiritual
presence, and he imagined how he would work, urged on by this new
energy that came welling up through all that he could see, all that he
could know, all that he could remember.



III

LOGAN SETS TO WORK

IN the morning he was awakened by his sister-in-law, Rosa, shaking him
and saying:--

"Mendel! Mendel! What are you doing on the sofa? Wake up! Wake up!
There is some one in your studio."

The house was ringing with Logan's voice chanting the _Magnificat._
Mendel ran upstairs and found him in bed with a box of cigarettes and
the New Testament, that fatal book, on his knees.

"Hello!" he said. "I hope I didn't wake you up. I have been awake for
a couple of hours looking at your work. I hope you don't mind. There's
a still-life there that's a gem, as good as Chardin, and even better,
for there's always something sentimental about Chardin--always the
suggestion of the old folks at home, the false dramatic touch, the
idea of the hard-working French peasant coming in presently to eat the
bread and drink the wine. I think it's time you were written up in the
papers. It's absurd for a man like you to have to wait for success.
There's no artistic public in England, so you can't be successful in
your own way. The British public must have its touch of melodrama. To
accept a man's work it must first have him shrouded in legend. He must
be a myth. His work must seem to come from some supernatural source."

"I'll just run over and tell my mother you are here," said Mendel. "I
always have breakfast there, and then go for a walk while the studio
is dusted."

"Right you are! I'll be up in half a jiffy. Can I have a bath?"

"No. There's no bath."

"Very well; I can do without for once."

Mendel ran round to Golda and told her of the wonderful man who was in
his studio, and he described the adventure of the previous evening.
Golda looked scared and said:--

"What next? What next? Good people sleep in their own beds."

"But this man is an artist and he talks like a book."

"Talk is easy," said Golda. "But it takes years to make a friend."

However, when Logan was brought to her she was polite to him and
rather shy. He told her that fame was coming to her son faster than
the wind.

"Too fast," said she.

"It can never come too fast," replied Logan. "The thirst for fame is a
curse to an artist. Let it be satisfied and he is free for his work. I
know, for I was very famous in my own town. I sickened of it and ran
away. . . . I must congratulate you on letting your son follow his
bent. I had to quarrel with my own people to get my way. I haven't
seen them since I was fourteen."

"Not your mother?" said Golda, greatly upset.

Logan saw that he had made an awkward impression and hastened to put
it right by saying lugubriously:--

"My mother is dead. She forgave me."

He allowed that to sink in and was silent for a minute or two. Then he
chattered on gaily and asked Golda to come and see him, and bragged
about his studio and his work and his friends, and of a commission he
had to decorate a large house in a West End square. He talked so fast
that Golda understood very little of what he said, but she never took
her eyes off him, and when he said good-bye, Mendel noticed that she
did not bob to him as she did to Mitchell and Morrison and his other
polite friends. He took that to mean that she accepted Logan as a
person above these formalities.

For an hour they walked through the streets and squares of the East
End, Mendel proud to display the vivid scenes he intended later on to
make into pictures.

When they returned to the studio Logan insisted on seeing all the
pictures and drawings again.

"Are you in touch with any dealer?" he asked.

"Cluny has a few pictures and a dozen drawings. He never does anything
with them."

"Hum!" said Logan. "Dealers are mysterious people. They can only sell
things that sell themselves. By the way, I am giving up my studio in
Hammersmith. It is too far away. I shall come nearer in. Hammersmith
was all very well while I needed isolation, but that is all over now."

"Where shall you go to?"

"Bloomsbury, I think. I like to be near the British Museum. Do you go
to the British Museum? I must show you round. It is no good going
there unless you know what to look for. By the way, I came out without
any money last night. Can you lend me five pounds?"

Mendel wrote a cheque and handed it to him shamefacedly.

"I want to pay a bill on my way home," said Logan. "I hate being in
debt, especially for colours."

"I get my colours from Cluny," said Mendel, "and he sets them against
anything he may sell."

The irruption of money had depressed him, and he began to realize that
he was very tired. The springs of Rosa's sofa had bored into him and
prevented his getting any real sleep.

He was not sorry when Logan went, after making him promise to meet him
at the Pot-au-Feu for dinner.

* * * * *

He had a model coming at eleven, but when she arrived he sent her
away. He was sore and dissatisfied. The studio seemed dark and dismal,
and he could not get enough light on to his work. He took it right up
to the window, but still there was not enough light, and his picture
looked dull and dingy. His nerves throbbed and he was troubled in
spirit, for now his old dreams of painting quietly among his own
people while fame gathered about his name had suddenly become childish
and pathetic. He was ignorant, futile, conceited, a pigmy by the side
of the gigantic Logan, who would not wait upon the world, but would
compel its attention and shape it to his will. What had he said
artists were? Priests and prophets? . . . How could a man prophesy
with a painting of a fish?

Downstairs he heard Issy come in for his dinner, and there was the
usual snarling row because Rosa cooked so vilely. Mendel compared
Issy's life and his own: Issy working day in, day out, earning just
enough to keep himself alive. Why did he go on with it? Why did he
keep himself alive? Why did he not clear out, like Harry? There was no
pleasure in his life, neither the time nor the money for it. . . . A
wretched business.

But was it less wretched than this business of painting? There was
more money in painting, and that was all anybody seemed to think of.
People wanted the same picture over and over again, and if he
consented to please them, his life would be just as poor a thing as
Issy's, except that he would have pleasure, and, through his friends,
an occasional taste of luxury. At best he could be polite and
gentlemanly, like Mitchell, bringing no more to art and getting no
more out of it than a boyish excitement, as though art were a game and
could give no more than a sensation of cleanliness, like a hot bath.

No, it would not do. It would not do.

It was a lie, too, to say that the Jews only cared about money. When
they were overfed, like Maurice Birnbaum, they were like all the other
overfed people, but when they were simple and normal they were better
than the others, because they had always a sense of mystery and did
not waste themselves in foolish laughter.

That was where Logan was true. He could laugh, because all the
Christians laugh, but when it came to solemn things he could talk
about them as though he were not half ashamed. Mitchell, for instance,
always shied away from the truth. Why was he afraid of it? The truth,
good or bad, was always somehow beautiful, invigorating, and
releasing. All the pleasant things that Mitchell cared about Mendel
found stifling. Nothing, he knew, could make life altogether pleasant,
and all the falsehoods which were used in that attempt were
contemptible. They strangled impulse and frankness, and without these
how could there be art?

In his unhappy dreams Logan appeared like a figure of Blake, immense,
looming prophetic, beckoning to achievement and away from the chatter
and fuss of the world of artists.

Yet behind Logan there was still the figure of Mitchell, young and
gay, and the idea of Mitchell led to the idea of Morrison.

There were some withered flowers on his painting-table, the last she
had sent him. None had come since that evening in the Paris Café when
she had nodded curtly to show him that he was not wanted.

He would not be thrust aside like that. He knew himself to be worth a
thousand Mitchells. Logan had said that Mitchell was rubbish, and not
even in the eyes of a slip of a girl would Mendel have Mitchell set
above himself. Not for one moment was it tolerable. He would keep
Morrison to her promises and make her come to have her portrait
painted, and he would find out what there was in her that made him
remember her so distinctly and so clearly separate her from all other
girls. Somehow the thought of her cooled the intoxication in which he
had been left by Logan. She offered, perhaps, another way out of his
present state of congestion and dissatisfaction. Very clearly she
brought back to his mind the thrilling delight with which he had
worked as a boy, and that was true, truer than anything else he had
ever known. . . . Ah! If he could only get back to that, with all the
tricks and cunning he had learned.

He would get back to it some day, but he must fight for it; with Logan
he would learn how to fight. Logan would lay his immense store of
knowledge before him, and give him books to read, and teach him how to
be so easy and familiar with ideas, which at present only frothed in
his mind like waves thinning themselves out on the sea-shore.

He wrote an impassioned and insolent letter to Morrison commanding her
presence at his studio and informing her that he was worth a thousand
of her ordinary associates, and that she had hurt him, and that girls
ought not to hurt men of acknowledged talent. This letter cost him a
great deal of pain and time, because he was careful not to make any
slip in spelling or grammar. It was more a manifesto than a letter,
and he wished to do nothing to impair its dignity.

And all the time he was puzzled to know why he should care about her
at all. He was prepared to throw everything--his success, the Detmold,
his friends--to the winds to follow Logan, but Morrison he could not
throw away.

He decided at last not to send the letter but to go himself, and he
went to the Detmold just as the light was fading and he knew she would
be leaving.

She had gone already, but he met Clowes, who, he knew, lived with her.
He pounced on her and said:--

"You must come to tea with me."

"I'm afraid I . . ."

"You must! You must!"

She saw he was very excited and she had heard stories of his bursting
into tears when he was thwarted. In some alarm she consented to go
with him.

He led her to a teashop, a horrible place that smelt of dishwater and
melted butter, made her sit at a table, and burst at once into a
tirade:--

"You are Morrison's friend. Will you tell me why she has avoided me?
She came to my studio once and she said she would come again. She sent
me flowers for three weeks, but she has sent no more."

"She--she is very forgetful," said Clowes, who was longing for tea but
did not dare to tell him to turn to the waitress, who was hovering
behind him.

"But she nodded to me as if she had hardly met me before," said
Mendel.

"She is very shy," said Clowes, framing the word "Tea" with her lips
and nodding brightly to the waitress. She added kindly:--

"I don't think sending flowers means much with her. She gives flowers
to heaps of people. She is a very odd girl."

"Does she give flowers to Mitchell?" he asked furiously, coming at
last with great relief to the consuming thought in his mind.

"Yes," said Clowes. "She is very unhappy about Mitchell and that Hetty
Finch affair."

"Has he told her then?"

"Yes."

"Why did he tell her?"

"I'm sure I don't know."

"I'll tell you," cried Mendel. "I'll tell you. To make himself
interesting to her, because he is not interesting. He is nothing. And
I will tell you something more. He has been telling her things about
me to excuse himself. Now, hasn't he? . . . I can see by your face
that he has."

Clowes could not deny it, and she found it hard to conceal her
distress. She was unused to intimate affairs being dragged out into
the open like this, and her modesty was shocked. She had a pretty,
intelligent face, and she looked for the moment like a startled hare,
the more so when she put her handkerchief up to her nose with a
gesture like that of a hare brushing its whiskers.

"Very well, then," Mendel continued; "you can tell her you have seen
me, and you can tell her that I shall come to explain myself. I hide
nothing, for I am ashamed of nothing that I do. I have no need to
excuse myself. I am not a gentleman one moment and a cad the next. And
you can tell Morrison that if I see her with Mitchell again I shall
knock him down."

"Do please drink your tea," said Clowes. "It is getting cold."

Mendel gulped down his tea and hastened to add:--

"I am not boasting. He is bigger than I am, but I know something about
boxing. My brother was nearly a prizefighter."

Clowes began to recover from her alarm, and his immense seriousness
struck her as very comic.

"Did you know that Greta has cut her hair short?"

"Her hair?" cried Mendel. "Her beautiful hair?"

"Yes. She looks so sweet, but the boys call after her in the streets.
All the girls are wild to do it."

"Her hair? Her beautiful hair? Why?"

"Oh! she got sick of putting it up. She is like that. She suddenly
does something you don't expect."

"But she must look terrible!"

"Oh no. She looks too sweet. And if all the boys at the Detmold wear
their hair long, I don't see why the girls shouldn't wear theirs
short."

"My mother had her head shaved when she married," said he, "and she
wore a wig."

"Why did she do that?"

"It is the custom. The woman shows that she belongs wholly to her
husband and makes herself unattractive to all other men."

"What a horrible idea!"

"It is a beautiful idea. It is the idea of love independent of
everything else. That is why I thought Morrison must have some reason
for cutting her hair."

"When you know Greta, you will know that she doesn't wait for
reasons."

"Why does she like Mitchell?"

"She likes nearly everybody."

"But she writes to him."

"Of course she does," said Clowes, rather bored with his persistence.

"But she doesn't write to me."

"You don't write to her. You can't expect her to fall at your feet."

As she said this Clowes realized his extraordinary Orientalism. She
could see him holding up his finger and expecting a woman to come at
his bidding, and for a moment she was repelled by him. But she was a
kind-hearted creature and felt very sorry for him, for he seemed so
utterly at sea and was obviously full of genuine and painful emotion.

He detected her repulsion at once and perceived the effort she made to
conquer it, and was at once grateful to her, for, as a rule, when that
happened, people let it swamp everything else.

She said:--

"I'll tell Greta what you have said to me, and I am sure she will be
very sorry to have hurt you."

"I only want her to come and sit for her portrait. It is very
important to me, because I want to try new subjects and there is some
lovely drawing in her face."

"But you mustn't knock Mitchell down. He is quite a nice boy, really,
only a little wild."

"He is rotten," said Mendel dogmatically.

* * * * *

He felt better, and until dinner-time he prowled about Tottenham Court
Road and Soho, a region of London that he particularly loved--a
vibrant, nondescript region where innumerable streams of vitality met
and fused, or clashed together to make a froth and a spume. It was
like himself, chaotic and rawly alive, compounded of elements that
knew no tradition or had escaped from it. He felt at home in it, and
elated because he was also conscious of being superior to it, yet
without the dizzy sense of superiority that assailed him among his own
people, while he was never shocked and humiliated, as he was sometimes
in sedate and prosperous London, by being made suddenly to realize his
external inferiority. He loved the shop-girls hurrying excitedly from
their work to their pleasure, and he sometimes spoke to them in their
own slang, sometimes went home with them. . . . They always liked him
because he never wasted time over silly flirtatious jokes or pretended
to be in love with them. His interest and curiosity, like theirs, were
purely physical, and his passion gave them a delicious sense of
danger.

* * * * *

Logan was waiting for him at the Pot-au-Feu. There was no one else in
the restaurant but the goggle-eyed man in his corner. Logan was
sitting Napoleonically with his arms on the table and his chin sunk on
his chest, with his lips compressed.

He nodded, but did not get up.

"Sorry if I'm late," said Mendel. "I went for a walk. I couldn't work
to-day. My sister-in-law's sofa--I feel as if I had been beaten all
over."

"That's the walk home," said Logan. "I'm used to it. The hours I've
spent walking about this infernal London! I've slept on the
Embankment, you know."

"No?"

"Yes. I've been as far down as that, though I'm not the sort of man
who can be kept down. Did you know that Napoleon was out-at-elbows for
a whole year?"

"No; I don't know much about Napoleon."

"Ah! You should. I read every book about him I can lay hands on.
Gustave!"

The waiter came up and Logan ordered a very special dinner with the
air of knowing the very inmost secrets of the establishment. He
demanded orange bitters before the meal and a special brand of
cigarette.

"My day hasn't been wasted," he said. "I've been to Cluny's and I
asked to see your stuff. The little man there looked astonished, but I
told him people were talking of no one else but you, and quite
rightly. I talked to him from the dealer's point of view, and assured
him that there was a big boom in pictures, coming, and that he had
better be prepared for it with a handful of new men. I didn't let him
know that I was a painter, but I got him quite excited, and I did not
leave him until he had hung a picture and two drawings."

"Which picture?"

"The one of your mother's kitchen. It is one of your best. To-morrow
three men will walk into Cluny's and they will admire your work. On
the day after to-morrow a real buyer will walk in."

Mendel's eyes grew larger and larger. Was Logan a magician, that he
could direct human beings into Cluny's shop and conduct them straight
to his work?

Logan laughed at his amazement.

"Lord love-a-duck!" he said, "you're not going to sit still and wait
for commercial fools to discover that you know your job. At my first
exhibition in Liverpool I put on a false beard and went in and bought
one of my own pictures, just to encourage the dealer and the timid
idiots who were too shy to go and ask him the price of the drawings.
It worked, and this is going to work too. When I've warmed Cluny up
into selling you, then I'm going to make him sell me. If you don't
mind we'll have our names bracketed,--Kühler and Logan. People will
believe in two men when they won't in one. As for three, you've only
got to look at the Trinity to see what they'll believe when they get
three working together. . . . Oh! I forgot you were a Jew and brought
up to believe in One is One and all alone."

He laughed and gave a fat chuckle as he mimicked the little man in
Cluny's cocking his head on one side and pretending to take in the
beauties of Mendel's work as they were pointed out to him.

"I have enjoyed myself," said Logan. "By God! I wish there were a
revolution. I'd have my finger in the pie. Oh! what lovely legs
there'd be to pull--all the world's and his wife's as well. But it
won't come in my time."

Under Logan's influence Mendel began to enjoy his food, which he had
always treated as a tiresome necessity before. He sat back in his
chair and sipped his wine and crumbled up his bread exactly as Logan
did; and he had a delicious sense of leisure and well-being, as though
nothing mattered very much. And, indeed, when he came to think of it,
nothing did matter. He had years and years ahead of him, and here was
good solid pleasure in front of him, so that he had only to dip his
hands in it and take and take. . . .

After the dinner Logan ordered cigars, coffee, and liqueurs, and
Mendel felt very lordly. The restaurant had filled up, and among the
rest were Mitchell and Morrison.

Mendel turned, gave them a curt nod, and could not restrain a grin of
satisfaction as he thought that score was settled. He leaned forward
and gave himself up to the pleasure of Logan's talk.

"What I contend," said Logan, "is this--and mind you, I let off my
youthful gas years ago. I've been earning my living since I was
fourteen, so I know a little of what the world's like. I've been in
offices and shops, and on the land, in hotels, on the railway, on the
road as a bagman, from house to house as a tallyman, and I know what
I'm talking about. The artist is a free man, and therefore an outlaw,
because the world is full of timid slaves who lie in the laps of
women. If an artist is not a free man, then he is not an artist. And I
say that if the artist is outlawed, then he must use any and every
means to get out of the world what it denies him. One must live."

"That's true," said Mendel.

"You may take it from me that there is less room in the world now for
artists than ever there was. In the old days you chose your patron and
he provided for you, as the Pope provided for Michael Angelo, and you
devoted your art to whatever your patron stood for, spiritual power if
he happened to be a pope, secular power if he happened to be a duke or
a king. But, nowadays, suppose you had a patron--say, Sir Julius
Fleischmann--and he kept you alive, what on earth could you devote
your art to? You could paint his portrait, and his wife's portrait,
and all his daughters' portraits, but they'd mean nothing; they'd just
be vulgar men and women. No. Art is a bigger thing than any power left
on the earth. Money has eaten up all the other powers, and only art is
left uncorrupted by it. Art cannot be patronized. It cannot serve
religion, because there is no religion vital enough to contain the
spirit of art. There is nothing left in the world worthy of such noble
service, and therefore art must be independent and artists must be
free, because there is no honourable service open to them. They must
have their own values, and they must have the courage of them. The
world's values are the values fit for the service of Sir Julius
Fleischmann, but they are not fit for men whose blood is stirring with
life, whose minds are eager and active, men who will accept any
outward humiliation rather than the degradation of the loss of their
freedom."

"I met Sir Julius Fleischmann. Once," Mendel said. "He subscribed for
me when I went to my first School of Art. They wanted to send me to
Italy, but I refused, because I knew my place was here in London.
There's more art for me in the Tottenham Court Road than in all the
blue skies in the world."

"Quite right, too!" cried Logan. "That shows how sound an artist's
instinct is. He knows what is good for him because he is a free man.
The others have to be told what is good for them because they don't
know themselves and because, however unhappy they are, they don't know
the way out. When you and I are unhappy we know that it is because we
have lost touch with life, or because we have lost touch with art;
either the flesh or the spirit is choked with thorns, and we set about
plucking them out. When it is a question of saving your soul, what do
morals matter?"

Mendel had heard people talk about morals, and he knew that his own
were supposed to be bad; but he was not certain what they were. Rather
timidly he asked Logan, who gave his fat chuckle and replied:--

"Morals, my son? No one knows. They change about a hundred years after
human practice. They are different in different times, places, and
circumstances, and Sir Julius Fleischmann, like you and me, has none,
because he can afford to do without them. . . . Well, I've done a good
day's work and we've had a good dinner, and I must get back to my
beautiful bed--unless you'd like to go to a music-hall."

Mendel was loath to let his friend go, and, weary though he was, he
said he would like the music-hall. Logan bought more cigars and they
walked round to the Oxford and spent the evening in uneasy and flat
conversation with two ladies of the town, one of whom said she knew
Logan, though he swore he had never seen her before. When they were
shaken off, he told Mendel mysteriously that she was a friend of a
woman of whom he went in terror, who had been pursuing him for a
couple of years.

"Terrible! Terrible!" he said. "Like a wild beast. They're awful,
these prostitutes, when they fall in love. It eats them up, body and
soul."

And he went on talking of women, and from what he said it appeared
that he was beset by them. He described them lurking in the street for
him, forcing their way into his studio, clamouring for love, love,
love.

"It makes me sick," he said. "I never yet met a woman who knew how to
love. If a man has an enthusiasm for anything outside themselves, they
plot and scheme with their damnable cunning to kill it. They want the
carcase of a man, not the lovely life in it. And if they're decent
they want babies, which is almost worse if you're hard up. No, boy;
for God's sake don't take women seriously. If you can't do without
them, hate 'em. They'll lick your boots for it. They feed on hatred,
and will take it out of your hand."

He talked in this strain until they reached the Tube station in
Piccadilly Circus. It was unusually empty, and by the booking-office
was standing a very pretty girl, big and upstanding. She had a wide
mouth and curious slanting eyes, plump cheeks and a roguish tilt to
her chin. She was well and neatly dressed, and Mendel judged her to be
a shop-girl.

"That's a fine lass," said Logan. "Good-night, boy. I'll see you
to-morrow and tell you about Cluny's."

"Good-night," said Mendel, still loath to see his friend go, and he
suffered a pang of jealousy as he saw Logan go up to the girl, raise
his hat, and speak to her. She started, blushed, and smiled. They
stopped and talked together for a few moments, and then moved over
towards the lift.

Mendel waited and watched them, Logan talking gaily, the girl smiling
and watching him intently through her smile. With her eyes she took
possession of him, and Mendel was filled with misgiving when he heard
Logan's fat chuckle and the rustle and clatter of the gate as the lift
descended. It reminded him oddly of the Demon King and the Fairy Queen
in a pantomime he had once seen with Artie Beech, whose father used to
get tickets for the gallery because he had play-bills in his shop
window.



IV

BURNHAM BEECHES

FOR Greta Morrison as for Mendel, London life had been opened up
through Mitchell. He had been friendly and kind to her when everybody
else had been harsh, fault-finding, and indifferent. Her first year
and a half at the hostel had been a period of misery, for the girls
and women there regarded her as odd, vague, and careless, and thought
it their duty to impose on her the discipline she seemed to need, for
they knew nothing of her suffering through her ambition and her work.

Like Mendel, she had been overwhelmed by her inability to adapt
herself easily to the Detmold standard of drawing, for it was against
her temperament and her habit of mind to be precise, and drawing had
always been to her rather a trivial thing, though extremely pleasant
for the purposes of the caricatures in which her teasing humour found
an outlet. All her girlhood had been thrillingly happy in the
execution of large allegorical designs, through which she sought to
express her delight in the earth--the immense serene power of which
she became profoundly aware as she lay in the bracken at home and
gazed out over the rich valley or up into the marvellous, quivering
blue sky, through which she felt that she was being borne without a
sound, without a tremor, irresistibly. Nothing could shake that loving
knowledge in her, and it hurt her that her mother's cold, self-centred
religion, which made her demand a fussy, sentimental attention from
her children, forbade all expression of it in her daily life. Her
brothers, revolting against the sentimentality exacted of them,
treated all tenderness as ignoble rubbish, and in her rough-and-tumble
with them Greta was hardened and forced into independence. She had to
play their games with them and to suffer the same tortures of
knuckle-drill, brush, dry-shave, and wrist-screw. But all their
swagger seemed to her rather fraudulent; and because they laughed at
her allegorical designs she decided that men were inferior beings.
When they laughed at her designs it was to her as though they laughed
at the beauty she had tried to express in them, and the sacrilege
enraged her more than her mother's petulance, for they were young and
strong and full of life, and they should not have been blind. It was
against them that she first found relief in caricature, and as they
went through their Public Schools and were more and more compressed
into type, she pilloried them, and, as a consequence, even when she
was a young woman, big and fine, with the tender, delicate bloom of
seventeen upon her, she had to submit to the indignity of
knuckle-drill, brush, dry-shave, and wrist-screw.

She was filled with a horror of men, and especially Public School men,
for they seemed to her entirely lacking in decency, humility, and
honesty. They pretended to be so fine and ignored everything that was
finer than themselves. Her brothers' foolish love-affairs disgusted
her and made her suppress in herself every emotion that tried to find
its way to a good-looking boy or young man. She was not shy of them or
afraid of them, but she would not encourage in them what she so
detested in her brothers.

During her first year in London she devoted herself heart and soul to
her work. There were two or three families who were kind to her as her
mother's daughter, but their ways were her mother's, and she only
visited them as a duty, and to break the monotony of the school and
the hostel.

Her encounter with Mitchell took place at the time when Mendel's
influence on him had set him in revolt against his Public School
training. On the other hand, the sight of the abyss of poverty into
which Mendel descended so easily had set him reeling. He was shrewd
enough to know that Hetty Finch was using him as a ladder to get out
of it, and that there was a real danger of her kicking him down into
it. In a state of horrible confusion he plunged at the most obvious
outlet, the "pure girl" of the tradition of his upbringing.

He made no concealment of it, but turned to Morrison with a childlike
confidence that touched her. She was feeling lonely, disappointed, and
dissatisfied with herself and was glad of his company. It was a change
from the woman-ridden atmosphere of the hostel.

By way of making their relationship seemly he introduced her to his
family, where as the pure young girl who was to save their hope from
wild courses she was a great success.

"First sensible thing you've done, my boy," said Mr. Mitchell, that
great man, a journalist who had been a correspondent in a dozen wars.
"A pure friendship between a boy and a girl has a most ennobling
influence--most ennobling."

"She is truly spiritual," sighed Mrs. Mitchell, "the type who
justifies the independence of the modern girl, whatever the Prime
Minister may say."

"That scoundrel!" cried Mr. Mitchell. "That infamous buffoon who has
not a grain of Liberalism left in his toadying mind!"

"My dear," said Mrs. Mitchell, "we were talking about little Miss
Morrison."

"Well," answered Mr. Mitchell, "we took our risk when we let the boy
be an artist and we can be thankful it is no worse. Did I tell you, my
love, that I am going off to the Cocos Islands to-morrow?"

"Indeed, my dear? Then you will not be able to come to my meeting."

"No, I hear it is worse than the Congo."

"Oh dear! oh dear! I don't know what the world is coming to. The more
civilized we get in one part of the world, the worse things are in
another part. I declare such horrible things seem to me to make it
quite unimportant whether we get the vote or not."

"When you have a Tory Government calling itself Liberal," said Mr.
Mitchell very angrily, "it means that neither reform at home nor
justice abroad can receive any attention. The country has gone to the
dogs, and I thank God I spend most of my time out of it."

"And poor Humphrey suffers. I'm sure I am a good mother to him, but I
cannot be a father as well. I'm thankful to say he seems to be
dropping that Jewish friend of his. He is a genius, of course, and
quite remarkable, considering what he comes from; but with Jews it can
never be the same, can it?"

"No, my love," said Mr. Mitchell; "one would never dream of drinking
out of the same glass, would one? Still, I must say, the Jews in
England are much better than they are anywhere else, which seems to
show that they can respond to decent treatment and thrive in the air
of liberty."

Both Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell had a platform manner of speaking, and as
Morrison was not a subject that suited it, she was soon dropped; but
in the end they came back to her, and agreed that she was a nice, shy
little girl, and that she had no idea of marrying their only son, or
anyone else, for that matter.

She was much impressed with them, for she had never met important
people before, and she was given to understand that they were very
important. They seemed to have their fingers on innumerable reforms
which were only suppressed by the stupidity of the Government.
Directly the Government was removed, as of course such idiots soon
would be, Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell would raise their fingers and, hey
presto! women would have votes, the slums would be pulled down,
maternity would be endowed, prostitutes would be saved, prisons would
be reformed, capital punishment abolished, the working classes would
be properly housed, every able-bodied man who wished it should have
his small holding, the railways would be nationalized, site values
would be taxed, divorce would be made easy and free from social taint,
and education would be made scientific and thorough. In the meantime,
as the Government did not budge, Mr. Mitchell went to the Cocos
Islands and Constantinople to procure evidence of horrors abroad and
Mrs. Mitchell addressed meetings on the subject of horrors at home.

Morrison was impressed. The contrast between these people who thought
of everything and everybody but themselves and her own home, where
nothing was thought of but the family, the Church, and the Empire,
shocked her into thinking and gave her a sense of liberation. It made
human beings more interesting than she had thought, and she began to
see that they did not, as she had heedlessly accepted that they did,
fit infallibly into their places, and that vast numbers had no places
to fit into. She herself, she saw, did not fit into any place, and
that she had been squeezed, like paint out of a tube, out of her home
for no other reason than that she was a woman, and there was only just
enough money to establish the boys. However, she could not quite
swallow Mrs. Mitchell's view that men had deliberately, coldly, and of
set purpose ousted women from their rightful share in the sweets of
life.

She had a period of despair as these revelations sank into her mind
and she had to digest Mrs. Mitchell's awful facts and statistics about
the night-life of London. Life seemed too terrible for her powers,
but, as she soon began to see how comic Mrs. Mitchell was, she pulled
herself together and found that she was strengthened by the
experience, and when Mitchell confessed the awful doings of his past,
she felt immeasurably older than he, and was thankful she was a woman
and did not expect such things of herself. For she could never quite
take his word for all he said. She knew her brothers too well to
accept his plea of passionate necessity.

"Gawd!" he used to say. "When I think of my past I feel that I must go
on my knees and worship your purity."

His absurdity made her blush, but she liked him. He was clever and had
read much under his father's guidance, poetry and modern English
fiction mostly, and when she went to tea with him in his studio he
used to read aloud to her, Keats and Shelley and Matthew Arnold.

"I think I only like poetry," she said once, "when it makes pictures.
When it doesn't do that it seems to me just words, and it doesn't seem
to matter how nice they sound."

"Gawd!" he said. "That's like Kühler. He says nothing makes such
pictures as the Bible, and he is always quoting that about: 'At her
feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: where he fell, there he lay
down.' And he says it must be the words, because his own Hebrew Bible
never gave him anything like the same--er--vision of it."

Once he had begun to talk of Mendel she would not let him leave the
subject.

"Do you think he's a genius?" she would ask.

"Gawd! I don't know. He says he is a genius, and I suppose time will
show whether it is true or not. But why do you want to talk of him?"

"I don't know. I'm interested. Perhaps because he is different."

"Well, you've had tea with him. That is about as much as is good for
you. If you were my sister I wouldn't let you know him."

"Why not?"

"My dear girl, there are certain things in life that a young girl
ought never to know."

"What things? Is there anything worse than what your mother talks
about at her meetings? Girls know all about that nowadays, and it is
no good pretending we don't."

"Talking about them is one thing, coming in contact with them is
another. Kühler is a Jew, and he comes from the East End, where they
don't have any decent pleasures. He's infernally good-looking in a
hurdy-gurdy sort of way. Gawd! Women look at him and off they go."

"But he cares for poetry and the Bible and he loves pictures. . . ."

"It doesn't seem to make any difference."

During this talk he had begun to find Morrison extraordinarily pretty
and lovable, and he said tenderly:--

"Won't you take off your hat and let me see your beautiful hair?"

She refused, and asked him more about Mendel, and in exasperation at
the unintended snub he told her the true story of Hetty Finch, not
concealing his own share in it, but implying that Mendel's terrible
immorality had corrupted him and led to his downfall.

The story was received in silence.

At last she said:--

"And what is going to become of Hetty Finch?"

"That's the extraordinary part of it," said Mitchell. "She has found
someone to marry her."

He leaned against the mantelpiece and dropped his head in his hands
and groaned.

"Gawd!" he said. "If it weren't for you I don't know what would become
of me." And he was so moved by his own thoughts that tears trickled
down his nose and made dark spots on the whitened hearth.

"I can't ask you to marry me," he said mournfully. "I'm unworthy, but
I want to be your friend."

She made no reply, and he was forced to ask rather lamely:--

"Will you be my friend?"

"Of course."

"Always?"

"How can I promise that?" she said.

It was then that he took her to the Paris Café, where, all in a
turmoil through her new knowledge of men and women, she hardly knew
what she was doing, and gave Mendel the curt nod which had so
disgruntled him.

* * * * *

Every summer the Detmold students went for a picnic, either up the
river, or to a Surrey common, or to one of the forests in the vicinity
of London. This year Burnham Beeches was chosen. Two charabancs met
the party at Slough, and though Mendel tried very hard to sit next to
Morrison, he was outmanoeuvred by Mitchell, and had to put up with
Clowes.

"I wish you wouldn't glare at Mitchell so. You make me quite
uncomfortable," said she.

"He is telling her lies about me," growled Mendel.

"Don't be absurd," protested Clowes. "He is not talking about you at
all." She felt rather cross with him because he was spoiling her
pleasure, and because she had wanted to sit next someone else, and she
added: "People aren't always talking about you, and if anybody does
it's the models, and that's your own fault."

"How beastly!" he said.

"I don't blame them. They haven't any other interest."

"I didn't mean that. I meant this country. It is so flat and dull,
regular railway scenery. What a place to choose for a picnic!"

"Wait until you get to the woods! We're going to a place called Egypt.
Don't you think that's romantic? Though it reminds me more of Oberon
and Titania than of Anthony and Cleopatra."

He looked blank, and she explained:--

"Shakespeare, you know."

"I've never read Shakespeare."

"Oh! you should."

"I've tried, but I can't understand him. I suppose it's because I'm
not English. It seems ridiculous to me, all those plots and murders."

"But the fairies in the 'Midsummer Night's Dream'!"

"I haven't read it; but what do you want with fairies? A wood's a
wood, and there's quite enough mystery in it for me without pretending
to see things that aren't there."

"But it's nice to pretend," said Clowes rather lamely, almost hating
him because he seemed so wrong in the country. She knew people like
that, people she was quite fond of in London, but in the country they
were awful.

The charabancs swung through Farnham Royal and they came in sight of
the woods, brilliant under a vivid blue sky patched with huge, heavy
white clouds. Birds hovered above the trees, and as they turned out of
the street of seaside bungalows and along the sandy lane leading to
Egypt, they put up rabbits and pheasants.

The art students looked bizarre and almost theatrical in the woods,
with the long-haired young men and the short-haired girls, many of
them wearing the brightest colours. Mendel hated the lot of them,
giggling girls and bouncing boys, and he recognized how inappropriate
they all were and how he himself was the most inappropriate of them
all. He felt ashamed, and wanted to go away and hide, to crawl away to
some hole and gaze with his eyes at the beauty he could not feel.
There were too many trees, as there were too many people. . . . What a
poor thing is a man in a crowd which makes it impossible to share his
thoughts and emotions with anyone! And how bitter it is when he is
full of thoughts and emotions! It is all so bitter that the crowd must
do foolish, inappropriate things not to feel it, not to be broken up
by it. . . . Yet the others seemed happy enough. The old Professors
were beaming and pretending to be young. Perhaps they enjoyed it more
than anyone because they did not want to be alone, or to steal away
with a coveted maid, as some of the young men were doing even now.
. . . Had Mitchell stolen away with Morrison? Horrible idea! No. There
he was, putting up stumps for cricket.

Cricket! How Mendel loathed that fatuous game, the kind of
inappropriate foolish thing the crowd always did! How he dreaded the
swift hard ball that would hurt his hand or his shins! How humiliated
he felt when he was out: and how he raged against the frantic
excitement he could not help feeling when he hit the ball and made a
run. One run seemed to him a larger score than anyone else could
possibly make, and when he made a run and was on the winning side he
always felt that he had won the match. In the field, no matter where
he was placed, he went and stood by the umpire, because he had noticed
that the ball rarely went that way.

He had to field now, and he went and stood by the umpire. Mitchell
came swaggering in. He hit a lovely four, a three, a two. The fielders
changed at the over, but Mendel stayed where he was. The ball came
near him. He picked it up and threw it as hard as he could at
Mitchell's head. Fortunately he missed, and there was a roar of
laughter.

"I say, I mean to say," said one of the Professors, "we are not
playing rounders or--or baseball."

And there was more laughter.

Mitchell hit a three, a two, a lost ball (six), a four, and then he
skied one. The ball went soaring up. With his keen sight Mendel could
see it clearly shining red against the hot sky. With an awful sinking
in his stomach he realized that it was coming down near him. It was
coming straight to him. It would fall on him, hurt him, stun him. Then
he thought that if he caught it Mitchell would be out. He never lost
sight of the ball for a moment. If he caught it Mitchell would be out.
He moved back two paces, opened his hands, and the ball fell into
them.

"Oh! well caught, indeed! Well caught!"

Mitchell walked away from the wicket swinging his bat in a deprecating
fashion. After all, one does not expect miracles even in cricket.

"Beautiful, beautiful ball!" thought Mendel, fondling it with his
still tingling hands. "You came to me like a lark to its nest, and you
shone so red against the sky, you shone so red, so red!"

His dissatisfaction vanished. The crowd was a nice beast after all. It
was at his feet. At no one else had it shouted like that. . . . The
woods were very beautiful, with the bracken nodding under the trees,
and the branches swaying, and the soft winds murmuring through the
leaves, through which the trees seemed to breathe and sigh and to envy
the moving wind while they were condemned to stay and grow old in one
spot. Very, very sweet were the green and yellow and blue lights
hovering and swinging through the woods, dappling the trunks of the
trees, weaving an ever-changing pattern on the carpet of moss and dead
leaves, and the tufted bracken that sometimes almost looked like the
sea, full of a life of its own. Surely, surely there were fish
swimming in the bracken.

Starting out of his dreams, he saw Morrison at the wicket, very
intent, with a stern expression on her face. He knew she was
desperately anxious to score.

She was most palpably stumped with her second ball, but the umpire
gave her "not out," amid general applause, for she was a favourite.

She lashed out awkwardly at the next ball, which came on the leg side.
It came towards Mendel at an incredible speed. He put his foot on it,
picked it up, pretended it had passed him, and tore towards the trees
in simulated pursuit; and he remained looking for it in the bracken
while Morrison ran four, five, six, seven, eight, and just as some one
cried "Lost ball!" he stooped, pretended to pick it up, and threw it
back to the bowler.

He himself was bowled first ball, but, as it turned out, Morrison's
side won by three runs.

She was bubbling over with happiness, and after tea she came over to
him and said:--

"I say, Kühler, that _was_ a good catch."

He folded his arms and cocked his chin and looked down his nose as he
said:--

"Oh! yes. I can play cricket."

"You made a blob," she said with a grin.

"A catch like that," he answered, "is enough for one day. I have seen
many words written in the papers about a catch like that. Even
Calthrop does not have so many words written about his pictures."

"I shall hate to go back to London after this," she said. "I didn't
know there was anything so beautiful near London."

"There is Hampstead," he said.

"I've never been there," she replied.

"Will you let me take you to Hampstead? It has lilies and water."

"Oh yes," she said eagerly. "Do let us go into the woods now before we
start. I'm sure there must be lovely places."

He followed her, first looking round to see what had become of
Mitchell, whom he saw standing with a scowl on his face, a foolish
figure.

"Don't talk!" said Morrison. "I'm sure it is lovely through here."

She led the way through a grove of pines into a beech glade, at the
end of which they found a dingle, where they stood and gazed back.

"Oh, look!" she cried. "Look at the pine stems through the sea-green
of the beeches. Purple they are, and don't they swing?"

"I like the wind in the trees," said Mendel.

He saw that there were tears in her eyes, and he caught some of her
ecstasy. But he could not understand it at all and it hurt him
horribly. She was wonderful and beautiful to him, the very heart of
all that loveliness, the song of it, its music and its mystery.

"She is only a little girl," he said to himself very clearly, stamping
out the words in his mind, so that it was as though someone else had
spoken to him.

The ecstasy grew in her, and with it the pain in him. She swayed
towards him and fell against his breast and raised her lips to him. He
stooped and almost in terror just touched them with his.

He was a sorry prince for a sleeping beauty, for he was afraid lest
she should awake.



V

HAPPY HAMPSTEAD

ON the morning of the day fixed for their expedition to Hampstead
Heath she sent him roses--yellow roses. He took them across to his
mother and gave them to her, saying:--

"I do not need flowers. I am happy."

Golda laughed at him, and said:--

"You are a big little man since you made the catch at the cricket."

"I don't know what it is, but I am happy. It is no longer surprising
to me that there are happy people in the world, and I think the
Christians are not all such fools to wish to be happy. I am only
astonished that they are happy with such little things."

"It is nothing," said Golda. "They are not truly happy; they are only
hiding away from themselves."

"But I am finding myself," cried Mendel. "I shall no more paint fishes
and onions. I shall paint only what I feel, and it will be beautiful.
I am so clever I can paint anything I choose."

"Go to your work now," said Golda. "You can boast as much as you
please when the King has sent for you and told you you are the
greatest artist in England. Go to your work."

He went back to his studio and there found a letter from Logan, giving
his new address in Camden Town, and another from Mitchell, asking him
why he was so unfriendly. This he answered at once:--

"You are no longer my friend. You have despised and injured me.
Superior as I am to you, you have thought it your part as a gentleman
to try to keep me in my place. You have treated me as a kind of
animal. You cannot see that as an artist I am the equal of all men,
the highest and the lowest. My own poor people I do not expect to know
this, but of an educated man I do expect it. You cannot see this, and
I count you lower than the lowest, and as such I am prepared to know
you, and not otherwise. I have changed completely. I no longer believe
in the Detmold or in Calthrop or in any of the things I reverenced as
a student. I prefer the Academy, for it does not pretend to be
advanced, and is honest though asleep. I am no longer a student. I am
an artist. You will always be an art student, and so I say good-bye to
you, as one says good-bye to friends on a station-platform. The train
moves and all their affectionate memories and longings cannot stop it.
The train moves and I am in it, and I say good-bye to you without even
looking out of the window."

This done, he sat down to work at a portrait of his father and mother,
with which he was designing to eclipse his first exhibiting success.
It seemed to him important that it should be finished. Hearing Issy
come in, he shouted to him to come and sit instead of his father, who
had given out that he was unwell and was indulging in a sleeping bout.

Issy came shambling in, pale, tired, and unhappy. He sat as he was
told, and said:--

"I wish Harry would come back; the business is being too much for me."

"Oh! I shall soon be rich and then I'll help you."

"There's not much help for me," said Issy. "I'm like father. There's
always something against me to keep me down. It seems funny to me that
people will give you so much money for something they don't really
want."

"Come and look at it," said Mendel.

Issy obeyed.

"I don't think it's really like them. Why should anybody buy them who
doesn't know them?"

He spoke so heavily and dully that Mendel found it hard to conceal his
irritation. When Issy had gone back to his chair, he asked:--

"What do you live for, Issy?"

"Live?" said Issy, mystified.

"Yes. What do you like best in the world?"

"Playing cards. Playing cards. Every day there's work and every night
there's Rosa, and on Saturday I play cards. Yes. I play cards; and, of
course, you are always something to think about."

"What do you think about me?"

"Oh! You will be rich and famous, and you will be able to choose among
all the girls with money. It is like having a play always going on in
the family. But I would rather play cards, and Rosa is not so bad as
you all say she is. I am not a good husband to her, for I have moods
and I cannot talk to her, for I cannot talk to anyone. What is there
to say? She has her children, and she only wants more because she is a
fool. It is not her fault."

"That'll do, Issy. I've got all I want. I can't get any more from you.
Some day I'll teach you how to be happy."

"Oh!" said Issy, with a sly leer. "I know how to be happy. I can't see
why anyone should want to have father and mother hanging on their
walls."

He slunk away.

How depressing he was! Poor old Issy! as much a part of the street as
the doors and windows of the houses. He might move a hundred yards to
another exactly similar street, but he would always be the same. It
was not his fault. Mendel knew the depths of devotion of which his
brother was capable. It was devotion to his mother that kept him
living round the corner, devotion to his father that tied him to the
unprofitable business. The name of Kühler had attained the dignity of
a brass-plate on the front door, and he would die rather than see it
removed, at any rate in his father's lifetime.

For the first time Mendel faced his circumstances squarely. With
something of a shock he thought of the family arriving at Liverpool
Street and never in all these years moving more than half a mile away
from it, and that in this amazing London, with its trains and buses to
take you from end to end of it in a little over an hour. His mother
had never been west of the Bank. She did not even know where
Piccadilly Circus was, or the Detmold, or the National Gallery, or the
Paris Café, or Calthrop's studio, or any other important centre of
life. Liverpool Street she knew, and outside Liverpool Street were the
sea and Austria. . . . When there were no little happenings at home
she would always fall back on Austria and the troubled days at the
inn, and the soldiers who used to come in and ask to see the beautiful
baby before they thought of ordering drinks, and her rich uncle who
used to supply the barracks with potatoes and was so mean that he
refused to give her any when she had not a penny in the world, and the
neighbours who used to bring food so that the beautiful baby should
not starve. . . . They stayed where they were, stormily passionate,
yet with no sense of confinement, while he was drawn off into the
swiftly moving whirligig of London, going from house to house, studio
to studio, café to café, atmosphere to atmosphere, and all his
passionate storms were spent upon nothing, were absorbed in the
general movement, leaving him, tottering and dazed, in it, yet alien
to it, discovering no soul in it all and losing the clear knowledge of
his own.

Surely now that was ended. She had sent him the yellow roses, and he
had given them to his mother to join the two whom he loved. They must
have touched her face before they came to him, and Golda had buried
her face in them.

Impatiently he awaited the time for him to go to the Detmold. He put
on a clean collar and a black coat, but then he remembered how the old
Jews whom he asked to sit for him always put on clean clothes and
clipped their beards, under the impression that he wanted to
photograph them. In his clean collar and black coat he felt as though
he were going to the photographer's or to a wedding, and remembering
how he had been dressed when he saw her for the first time on the
stairs, he took out an old black shirt, a corduroy coat and trousers,
and a red sash.

He could not bring himself to wear the red sash. It reminded him of
Mitchell, who had been with him when he bought it.

* * * * *

It had been very hot. The walls and the pavements gave out a dry,
stifling heat. The smell of the street outside came up in waves--a
smell of women and babies, leather and kosher meat. He must wait for
the cool weather, he thought, before he asked her to the studio again.

"She is only a little girl," he said to himself. "She is pretty, but
she is only a little girl. I will tell her that she must not see
Mitchell again, because he is not true. I will paint her portrait, and
then I will not see her again, because she is only a little girl."

He sat in the window with the clock in front of him, and directly it
said half-past four he clapped his hat on his head, seized the
silver-knobbed stick which at that time was an indispensable part of
an artist's apparel, and bolted as though he were late for a train.

* * * * *

She was waiting for him. He took off his hat, but in his nervousness
he could not speak, and as he could not remember which side of a lady
he ought to walk, he bewildered her by dodging from one side to the
other with a quick, catlike tread, so that she did not hear him, and
whenever she turned to speak to him he was not there.

"Wasn't it a good picnic!" she said enthusiastically. "It's the best
picnic I've ever been to."

"They are usually pretty good," he said lamely. "I think we'd better
go by bus."

They mounted a bus and sat silently side by side.

When they stopped by the Cobden statue he said:--

"A friend of mine has just taken a studio in Camden Town. His name is
Logan."

"Was he at the Detmold?"

"No."

That settled Logan for her. She began to feel anxious. Was the
afternoon going to be a failure? Why could she never, never get the
better of her shyness? She wanted to make him happy because, on the
whole, people had been beastly to him and said such horrid things
about him. She wanted him to feel for himself, and not only through
her, that the world was a very wonderful place, a place in which to be
happy. He was so stiff and different, so taut and tightly strung up,
that lounging, loose-limbed Mitchell seemed graceful compared with
him. Yet there was something unforgettable about him, and he had
always had for her the vivid romantic reality of the beautiful young
men on the stage, who were creatures of a delicious, absurd world
which she would never enter and never wished to enter: a world where
young men opened their arms and young women sank into them and were
provided with happiness for ever and ever. Her vigour rejected this
world, for she knew and lived in a better, but all the same it had its
charm and its curious reality. . . .

She was not shy because she had kissed him. That had passed with the
shifting light through the trees and the clouds in the sky. It had
been vivid and true for that moment, but it had perished and fallen
away like a drop of water, like a rainbow.

He remembered it. As he sat by her side and could feel the warm life
in her, it became terribly actual to him, the cool contact of her
lips, and he was glad when the bus reached the yard with the painted
swing-boats and he need no longer sit by her side. He had begun to
feel subservient to her, and he would not have that. What Rosa was to
Issy, what Golda was to his father, that should a woman be to him, for
it was good and decent so. . . . He was almost sorry he had come. He
was painfully shy, and knew that she was suffering under it.

He walked so fast that she was hard put to keep up with him, but she
swung out and would not be beaten, and managed his pace without losing
her breath. Over to the wooded side of the Heath he took her, and
stopped under a chestnut-tree.

"Shall we sit down?" he said. "Or would you like to go on walking?"

"I'd like to sit down," she answered. "I love walking, but I can't
talk at the same time."

He sat down at once, without waiting for her to choose a spot.

"This grass is nice and cool," he said.

It was wet, but he had no thought for her thin cotton frock.

She sat a couple of yards away from him on the short turf and plunged
her arm into the long, cool grass. Then she lay on her stomach and
plucked a blade of grass and chewed it.

"Thank you for sending me the roses. I gave them to my mother."

"I liked your mother."

"She liked you. She said: 'That is a good girl.' She is very quick at
guessing what people are like."

"I'm glad she liked me."

Once again conversation died away, but she seemed content to lie there
with her arms in the cool grass. Their round slenderness fascinated
him. Her short hair hung over her face, so that he could only see the
tip of her chin.

Suddenly he asked her:--

"Do you send flowers to Mitchell?"

"Yes," she said, and her head was lowered so that the tip of her chin
was hidden by her hair.

He said nothing, but he too lay on the grass, flat on his stomach,
with his head on his arms. His heart began to thump, and, though he
tried to control it, it would not be still. Without raising his head
he said, in a choking voice that astonished him:--

"My father fainted for love of my mother. When he heard her name he
fainted away."

She said nothing, only in the long grass her fingers were still. Her
white hands in the grass fascinated him, held his eyes transfixed, the
green blades coming up through the white fingers that were so still.
He stared at them as though they were some strange flower, and for him
they had nothing to do with her at all. He drew himself near to them,
never taking his eyes off them--white and green, white and green and
pink at the finger-tips. He must touch them. They were cool, soft, and
firm, soft as the petals of a rose.

He grasped them like a child seizing a pretty toy, but when they were
in his grasp he was no longer like a child. A single impulse thrilled
through all his body and made it strong even as a giant. With one easy
swing of his arm he pulled her to him, held her with a vast
tenderness, and held her so, gazing into her face. Her lips parted,
and he kissed them. . . .

It was she who first found words:--

"Oh Mendel! I do love you."

He was amazed at his own strength, at his own tenderness. . . . So
that was a kiss! And this, this, this was love! It was incredible! How
sweet and easy were his emotions. He was as free and light as the wind
in the leaves.

She had slipped from his arms, but she was singing through all his
veins, she and no other, she and nothing else in the world. And he was
in her, perfectly, beautifully aware of her body and of the ecstasy in
it, of the tree above them, of the dove-coloured clouds, of the cool
green grass, of the yellow earth crumbling out of the mound yonder,
and of the ecstasy in them all.

So for many moments they lay in silence, until as suddenly as it had
come his strength left him, and he broke into a passionate babble of
words:--

"You must not send flowers to Mitchell, because he cannot love you and
I can. He knows nothing, and I know a great deal. I know women and the
ways of women, for many have loved me, but I have loved none but you.
No woman has been my friend except my mother. I did not look for any
woman to be like my mother. I am not an Englishman who can love with
pretty words. I love, and it is like that tree, growing silently until
it dies. It has stolen on me as softly as the night, and I sink into
it as I sink into the night, to sleep. It is as though the dark night
were suddenly filled with stars and all the stars had become flowers
and poured their honey into my thoughts. When your white hands were in
the grass they were like flowers and they seemed to belong to me, as
all beautiful things belong to me because I can love them."

She came nearer to him and laid her hand on his, and she said:--

"I am very, very happy."

And she laughed and added:--

"I _was_ glad when you made that catch."

He was beyond laughter. For him laughter was for trivial things. She
had stopped the flow of his thoughts, the rush of his emotions up into
his creative consciousness. Wave upon wave of passion surged through
him, racked him, tortured him, tossing his soul this way and that,
threatening to hurl it down and smash it on the hardness of his
nature. He set his teeth and would not wince. If she could laugh she
could know nothing of that. She was shallow, she was young. . . . Was
it because he was a Jew that he seemed so old compared with her? . . .
What was it she lacked that she could laugh and leave him to the
torment she had provoked?

But she was aware of the curious blankness that had come over his end
of their twilight silence, and she suffered from it, thinking: "Am I
an awful woman? Can I give nothing?" And she turned to him to give,
and give all the rare treasures of her soul, of her heart, to lay them
before him for his delight. But what she had already given had let
loose a storm in him that blotted out all the beauty of the scene, all
the loveliness of their love, the gift and the taking of it, and left
him with only the dim light of her purity.

Soon the storm passed and they had nothing but an easy delight in each
other's company, each turning to each as to a warm fire by which to
laugh and talk and make merry.

He told her stories of his childhood, of his brothers and his father,
and Mr. Kuit, the thief, who had bought him his first suit; of his
childish joy in painting, and there he stopped short. Of his misery he
was unable to speak.

"You do believe in yourself," she said.

"Why not?" he replied; "I am a man. When I hold my hands before my
eyes they are real. They are flesh and blood. I must believe in them.
And I am all flesh and blood. I must believe."

"And everything else is real to you."

"Everything that I love is real. And what I do not love I hate, so
that is real too."

They wandered about the Heath until night came and the stars shone,
and then they plunged into the glitter of London, where all people and
things were deliciously fantastic and comic, flat and kinematographic,
as though, if you walked round to the other side, you would discover
that they were painted on one side only. It gave them the glorious
illusion of being the only two living people in the world, for they
and only they had loved since the world began, and all the other
lovers were only people in a story, living happily ever after or
coming to an end of their love, neither of which could happen to them
because they were, always had been, and always would be in love.

They dined at the Pot-au-Feu, where they encountered Mitchell, who had
the effrontery to come and speak to them. He was very friendly and
spoke as though nothing had happened. They told him they had been to
Hampstead and recommended him to try it when he found London too
stuffy.

When he had gone away, Morrison said:--

"I am going away soon."

"Going away? But you mustn't go away."

"I have to go next week. My mother has fits of anxiety about my being
in London every now and then, and she drags me off home. She has got
one of them now. She can't see that if any harm were going to happen
to me it would have happened during my first year, when I didn't know
anything and was very lonely. I don't think I'm very real to her,
somehow."

She gave a little shiver of distaste at the thought of going home.

"But you mustn't go away," said Mendel. "I want you, always."

"And I want to be with you, but if I refused to go home now, I should
have to go for always, for I should have no money."

He was plunged into a dejected silence, and with hardly a word more he
took her home.

* * * * *

They had a whole week of this warm happiness. He abandoned every other
thought, every other pursuit, every other friend. He put aside his
work to paint her portrait, and she came every day to his studio. At
night he hardly slept at all for his longing for the next day to come
and bring her to his studio, that now seemed immense, airy, ample even
for such a giant as he felt. . . . He adored her even when she
laughed, even when she teased him. He even learned occasionally to
laugh at himself. It was worth it to see the amazing happiness he gave
her.

One morning as he was painting her, he said:--

"I can't believe you are going away."

"It is true, more's the pity."

"But you are not going, for I will marry you."

He said this in a matter-of-fact tone as he went on with his painting.
The picture was coming on well and he was pleased with it. He stepped
back and looked at it from different angles. It seemed a long time
before she made the expected matter-of-fact reply, and he looked up at
her. She was hanging her head and plucking at her skirt nervously. She
heard him stop in his work, and she replied:--

"I don't . . . think . . . I want to marry you, Mendel. I don't . . .
think . . . I want to marry anybody."

"I'm making plenty of money and I can get commissions for portraits. I
could make it up with Birnbaum. We could go to Italy together."

"Don't make it harder for both of us, Mendel. . . . I don't want . . .
to marry."

"You will go back home, then?"

"Please . . . please . . ." she implored him.

A fury began to rise in him. He stamped his foot on the ground and
struck his brush across the picture. He made a tremendous effort to
recover himself, but before he could say another word she had slipped
through the door and was gone. He darted after her, and reached the
front-door just in time to see her running as hard as she could down
the street and round the corner.

Just as he was, in his shirt-sleeves, hatless and collarless, he went
in to see his mother. He was white-hot with rage, and he walked up to
her and looked her up and down as though he were trying to persuade
himself that she was to blame.

"What do you think the news is now?"

Golda put her hand to her heart and looked at him fearfully as she
shook her head.

"I've been refused," he said, "refused by the Christian girl."

"Refused!" cried Golda, who had never heard of such a thing as a girl
refusing to marry a rich young man.

"Yes. I proposed to her and she refused."

"The Christians are all alike," said Golda. "They keep themselves to
themselves, and you must do the same."

She took a smoked herring from the cupboard and cut it into portions.

"And when your time for marrying comes you must look among the Jews,
for the Jews are good people. No Jewish girl would serve you a trick
like that. Jewish girls know that they must marry and they are good.
But she is young, and you are young, and you will both forget."



VI

CAMDEN TOWN

FROM the magnificent studio in Hammersmith to two rooms in Camden Town
Mr. James Logan removed his worldly goods, a paint-box, half-a-dozen
canvases, two pairs of trousers, three shirts, a "Life of Napoleon" in
two volumes, and a number of photographs of famous pictures. The
magnificent studio had been lent to him by the mistress of its owner,
who had returned unexpectedly from abroad, and Mr. James Logan's
departure from it was hurried, but unperturbed.

"In my time," he said, "I have kept Fortune busy, but her tricks leave
me unmoved. She will get tired of it some day and leave me alone."

All the same he did not relish the change. He was nearly thirty and
had tasted sufficient comfort to relish it and to prize it. Also he
could not forget the ambitions with which he had come to London five
years before. In the North he had won success by storm, and he could
not understand any other tactics. He was an extraordinary man and
expected immediate recognition of the fact. Upon his own mind his
personality had so powerful an effect that he was blind to the fact
that it did not have a similar effect upon the minds of others. Women
and young men he could always stir into admiration, but men older than
himself were only affronted. He knew it and used to curse them:--

"These clods, these hods, these glue-faced ticks have no more sap in
them than a withered tree. They hate me as a mule hates a stallion,
and for the same reason. May God and Mary have mercy on what little is
left of their souls by the time they come to judgment!"

He cursed them now as he laid his trousers on the vast new double-bed
he had bought and went into his front room to arrange his easel and
canvas for work. Whatever happened to him he would go on painting,
because he saw himself like that, standing as firm as a rock before
his easel, painting, while the world, for all he cared, went to rack
and ruin. What else could happen to a world that refused to recognize
its artists?

Painting was truly a joy to him. He loved the actual dabbling with the
colours, laying them out on his palette, mixing them, evolving rare
shades; he loved the fiery concentration and absorption in the making
of a picture; the renewed power of sight when he turned from a picture
to the world; the glorious nervous energy that came thrilling through
his fingers in moments of concentration; the feeling of the
superiority of this power to all others in the world. And so, whatever
happened, he turned to his easel and painted. Love, debt, passion,
quarrels, all the disturbances of life came and went, but painting
remained, inexhaustible. So he had been happy, free, unfettered, gay,
avoiding all responsibility because it was his formula that the
artist's only responsibility is to his art.

He was doubly happy now because he knew he had made an impression on a
young man whose sincerity and vigour of purpose he could not but
respect. He was himself singularly impressionable, and like a sponge
for sucking up the colour of any strong personality. And Mendel had
the further attraction for him that he was pure London, of the
shifting, motley London that Logan, as a provincial, adored. This
London he had touched at many points, but never through a strong
living soul that had, and most loyally acknowledged, London as its
home.

Logan's visit to Mendel in the East End had been one of the great
events of his life. Through it he had found his feet where he had been
floundering, though, of course, happily and excitedly enough.

He told himself that now he was going to settle down to work, to the
great productive period of his life, such as was vouchsafed to every
real artist who was tough enough to pay for it in suffering. He would
rescue Mendel's genius from the Detmold and the ossified advanced
painters, and together they would smash the English habit of following
French art a generation late, and they would lay the foundations of a
genuine English art, a metropolitan art, an art that grew naturally
out of the life of the central city of the world.

Logan always worked by programme, but hitherto he had changed his
programme once a week. Now he was sure that this was the programme of
his life. It would be amended, of course, by inspiration, but its
groundwork was permanent. He was enthusiastic over it. . . . Of
course, this was what he had always been seeking, and hitherto he had
been fighting the London which absorbed the talents of the country,
masticated them, digested them, and evacuated them in the shape of
successful painters for whom neither life nor art had any meaning, or
in the shape of vicious wrecks who crawled from public-house to
public-house and died in hospitals.

It was time that was stopped. It was time for London to be made to
recognize that it had a soul, and this generation must begin the task,
for never before had a generation been so faced with the blank
impossibility of accepting the work, thought, and faith of its
predecessor. Never had it been so easy to slip out of the stream of
tradition, for never had tradition so completely disappeared
underground.

"'He that hath eyes to see, let him see,'" quoth Logan, and he hurled
himself into his work, dancing to and fro, squaring his shoulders at
it as though the picture were an adversary in a boxing-match.

* * * * *

At half-past four he laid down his brushes and began to arrange the
room, pinning photographs on the walls, and unpacking certain articles
of furniture, as a rug, a great chair, and mattresses to make a divan,
which he had bought that morning. Every now and then he ran to the
window, threw up the sash, and looked up and down the street.

At last with a tremor of excitement he leaned out and waved his hand,
shut the window, and ran downstairs. In a moment or two he returned
with the girl of the Tube station. She was wearing the same clothes,
with the addition of a cheap fur boa, and she panted a little from the
run upstairs with him.

"I'm glad you came," he said. "I was afraid you wouldn't."

"Oh! It's not far from where I live," she said. "But you are in a
mess."

"I've only just got in. I would have asked you to my old place, but I
had to leave."

"So you're a nartist," she said. "I thought you were something funny."

"Funny!" snorted Logan. "I call a shop-walker funny; or a banker, for
that matter, or a millionaire. An artist is the most natural thing to
be in the world. . . . Take your hat and gloves off and give me a
hand, and then we'll have tea."

"Oh! I love my tea."

"I know all about tea. I get it from a friend of mine in the City. I
know how to make it, too."

They worked together, arranging, dusting, keeping deliberately apart
and eyeing each other surreptitiously. He liked her slow, heavy,
indolent movements, and she exaggerated them for him. She liked his
quick, firm, decisive actions, and he accentuated them for her; and
she liked his thick, black hair and his strong hands.

He picked up the great chair and held it at arm's-length.

"Oo! You are strong," she said.

"I could hold you up like that."

"I'd like to see you try," and she gave a little giggle of protest.

"I will if I don't like you," said he, "and I'll let you drop and
break your leg."

She went off into peals of laughter, and he laughed too.

"It's such a jolly day," he said. "It only needed you to come to make
everything perfect."

"What made you speak to me the other night?" she asked.

"I liked the look of you."

"But I'm not that sort, you know."

"It isn't a question of being that sort. I wanted to speak to you, and
that was enough for me. Sit down and have some tea."

The kettle was boiling, and he had already warmed the pot. He measured
out the tea carefully, poured the water onto it, and gave her a blue
china cup. He produced an old biscuit-tin containing some French
pastry, and then sat on the floor while she consumed the lot.

It gave him great pleasure to see her eat, and he liked her healthy,
childish greed. She had the face of a spoiled child, a very soft skin,
and plump, yielding flesh. He liked that. It soothed and comforted him
to look at her, while at the same time he was irritated by her inward
plumpness and easiness.

"You've always had a good time," he said.

"Oh yes! I've seen to that."

"You're not a London girl."

"No; Yorkshire."

"I'm from Lancashire."

"Eeh! lad," she said, her whole voice altering and deepening into an
astonishingly full note, "are ye fra' Lancashire? Eeh! a'm fair
clemmed wi' London. Eeh! I am glad ye coom fra' Lancashire."

"What are you doing in London?"

"I'm working in Oxford Street, though not one of the big shops."

"Like it?"

"M'm! Well enough."

"Of course you don't, handing out laces and ribbons----"

"'Tisn't laces and ribbons. It's corsets."

"Corsets, then, to women who haven't a tenth of your looks or your
vitality."

"It can't be helped if they have the money and I haven't, can it?"

"Money doesn't matter. What's money to you, with all the rich life in
you? Money cannot buy that, nor can it buy what will satisfy you."

"And what's that?"

"Love and freedom."

"Ooh! you are a talker."

"I'm not flirting with you. I haven't got time for that."

He laid his hand on her foot, which was covered with a thin cotton
stocking. She did not move it.

"You needn't stare at me like that," she said, with a curious
thickness in her voice.

"I can't help staring," he answered, "when I mean what I say." He
pressed his lips together and scowled, and shook her foot playfully.
There was an exhilarating pleasure in startling and mastering her by
directness. It was like peeling the bark off a stick. The thin layers
of affectation came off easily and cleanly, leaving bare the white
sappy smoothness of her innocent sensuality.

"I do mean what I say," he added. "Why should we beat about the bush?
I asked you to come to-day because I wanted you. You came because you
knew I wanted you."

"You asked me to tea."

"All right. And you'll stay to dinner. People have made love to you
before."

"Well, no . . . yes. . . . Not like . . ."

"Don't tell lies," he said. "You saw me at the station long before I
saw you, and you wanted me to see you. That was why you stayed at the
booking-office."

"You were with such a pretty boy," she said.

"Boy! You're not old enough to care for pretty boys."

"But he _was_ pretty."

"Be quiet!" he said, kneeling by her side. "You may want me to take
weeks over making all sorts of foolish advances to you, but I'm not
going to waste time. I've wasted too much time over that sort of
rubbish. We both know what we want and you are going to stay with me."

"No."

"I say yes."

"No." And she sprang to her feet and walked to the door. There she
turned. He had picked up her gloves.

"Will you give me my gloves, please?"

"No."

"Will you give me my gloves?"

"No."

"Then I shall go without them."

"Very well. Good-bye."

"If I stay, will you promise not to talk like that?"

"I don't want you to stay under those circumstances."

"You're an insulting beast."

"Not at all. I honour your womanhood by not pretending that it isn't
there."

"Will you give me my gloves?"

She ran across and tried to snatch them out of his hand. He gripped
and held her, and she gave a wild laugh as he kissed her.

She clung to him as he let her sink back into the great chair. She lay
with her eyes closed and her lips parted while he sat and poured
himself out another cup of tea. His hand was shaking so that he
spilled some tea on his new rug.

"That's all right," he said. "I'll give you a week to get used to me,
and if at the end of that time you don't like me, you can go."

"I haven't any friends," she said in a low voice, "and you get sick of
girls and the shop. You get sick of going out in the evening up and
down the streets and into the cinemas, and finding some damn fool to
take you to a music-hall. Such a lot of people and nobody to know."

"There's a lot of fun in living with an artist," he said. "You meet
queer people and amusing women, and you wouldn't find me dull to live
with."

"I felt queer as I came near the house," she said, "as though I knew
something was going to happen. I feel very queer now."

"That's love," said Logan grimly. "Love isn't what you thought it
was."

"You must let me go now."

"When will you come again?"

"Never."

"Oh yes, you will."

"Stop it!" she cried. "Stop it! I'm not going to be flummoxed by the
like of you."

"But you are," he said. "You poor darling!"

He took her hand and stroked it tenderly.

"Don't you see that you are flummoxed by something that is stronger
than both of us? I'm shaken by it, and I'm whipcord. We're poor
starving people, God help us! and we can save each other. We knew we
could do it at once, when we met. . . . If I said all the pretty
things in the world it wouldn't help. We're too far gone for that.
When you're starving you don't want chocolates. . . . I'm only saying
what I know. It is true of myself. If I have made a mistake about you,
I am sorry. You can go. . . . Have I made a mistake?"

For answer she turned towards him, gazed at him with glazing eyes,
raised her arms, and drew him into them.

* * * * *

A week later Nelly Oliver dined with Logan and Mendel at the
Pot-au-Feu. They had a special dinner and drank champagne, for it was
what Logan called the "nuptial feast."

Oliver, as they called her, was flushed with excitement, and kept on
telling Mendel that he was the prettiest boy she had ever seen. She
called Logan "Pip"--"Pip darling," "Pip dearest," "Pipkin" and
"Pipsy"--because she said he was like an orange-pip, bitter and hard
in the midst of sweetness.

"Pip says you're a genius," she said to Mendel. "What does he mean?"

Mendel disliked her, though he tried hard to persuade himself that she
was charming. He was baffled by the solemnity with which Logan was
taking her, for she seemed to him the type made for occasional solace
and not for companionship. Exploring her with his mind and instinct,
she seemed to him soft and pulpy, not unlike an orange, and if she and
Logan were to set up a common life, then he would be like a pip
indeed. . . . How could he explain to her the nature of genius? Can
you explain the night to an insect that lives but an hour in the
morning?

"I don't know," he said brusquely.

Logan was dimly aware that his friend and his girl were not pleasing
each other, and he set himself to keep them amused. He succeeded
fairly well, but his humour was forced, for he was under the spell of
the girl and the thought of the adventure to which she had consented.
She knew it, and was loud and shrill and triumphant, continually
setting Mendel's teeth on edge, for the purity of his instinct was
disgusted by the blurring and swamping of life by any emotion, and the
quality of hers was not such as to win indulgence.

"Logan will tell you what genius is," he said.

"She'll find that out soon enough if she lives with me," growled Logan
a little pompously.

Oliver put her head on one side and looked languishingly at Mendel as
she drawled:--

"It's a pity you haven't got a nice girl. Then there would be four of
us."

"Don't be a fool!" snapped Logan. "What does he want with girls at his
age?"

Oliver's lips trembled and she pouted in protest.

"I only thought it would be nice to round off the party. When you're
in love you can't help wanting everybody else to have some too."

Mendel was torn between dislike of her and admiration of Logan's
masterful handling of the problem of desire. . . . No nonsense about
getting married or falling in love. He saw the woman he wanted and
took her and made her his property, and the woman could not but
acquiesce, as Oliver had done. In a dozen different ways she
acknowledged Logan's lordship, even in her deliberate efforts to
exasperate him. Their relationship seemed to Mendel simple and
excellent, and he envied them. How easy his life would become if he
could do the same! What freedom there would be in having a woman to
throw in her lot with his! It would settle all his difficulties,
absolve him from his dependence on his family, and deliver him from
the attentions of unworthy women.

"How shall we dress her?" asked Logan.

Mendel took out his sketch-book and drew a rough portrait of Oliver in
a gown tight-fitting above the waist and full in the skirt.

"I should look a guy in that," she said. "It's nothing like the
fashion."

"You've done with fashion," said Logan. "You've done with the world of
shops and snobs and bored, idiotic women. You're above all that now.
In the first place there won't be any money for fashion, and in the
second place there's no room in our kind of life for rubbish. You're a
free woman now, and don't you forget it, or I'll knock your head off."

"But it's a horrible, ugly dress," said Oliver, almost in tears.

"It's what you're going to wear. I'll buy the stuff to-morrow and make
it myself. What colour would you like?"

"I won't wear it."

"Then you can go back to your shop."

"You know I can't. I've said good-bye to all the girls."

"Then you'll wear the dress."

"I shan't."

"For God's sake don't quarrel," said Mendel. "One would think you had
been married for ten years. Let her wear what she likes until she
wants some new clothes."

"Highty Tighty! Little boy!" sang Oliver. "You talk as though I were a
little girl."

"You behave like one," snapped Mendel, and her face was overcast with
a cloud of malignant sulkiness.

* * * * *

They went on to a music-hall, where Logan and she sat with their arms
locked and their shoulders pressed together, whispering and babbling
to each other.

Mendel sat bolt upright with his arms folded, staring at the stage but
seeing nothing, so lost was he in the contemplation of the strange
turn of affairs by which the adventure which had promised to lead him
straight to art had deposited him in a muddy little pool of life. He
would not submit to it. He would not surrender Logan and all the hopes
he had aroused. Prepared as he had been to follow Logan through fire,
he would not shrink when the way led through the morass. Friendship
was to him no fair-weather luxury, and nothing but falsehood or
faithlessness in his friend could make him relinquish it.

He told himself that Logan would soon tire of it, that Oliver would go
the way of her kind. She was, after all, better than Hetty Finch,
since she had a capacity for childish enjoyment.

She revelled in the sentimental ditties and the suggestive humours of
the comedians, pressed closer and closer to Logan, and grew elated and
strangely exalted as the evening wore on. And as they left the
music-hall she gripped Mendel's arm and brought her face close to his
and whispered:--

"Do wish me luck, Kühler. Give me a kiss for luck."

He kissed her and mumbled: "Good luck!"

"Come and see us to-morrow," she said. "We shall be all right
to-morrow."

"Oh, come along!" cried Logan, dragging her away; and Mendel stood in
the glaring light of the portico and watched them as, arm in arm, they
were swallowed up in the crowd hurrying and jostling its way home to
the dark outer regions of London.

He had an appalling sense of being left out of it. Everything passed
and he remained. He lived in a circle of light into which, like moths,
came timid, blinking, lovable figures, and he loved them; but they
passed on and were lost in the tumultuous, heaving darkness of life,
into which alone he could not enter. . . . Did he desire to enter it?
He did not know, but he was hungry for something that lay in it, or,
perhaps, beyond it.



VII

MR. TILNEY TYSOE

LOGAN with Oliver was more startling and exhilarating than before. He
was filled with a ferocious energy, and his programme was distended
with it.

He said to Mendel:--

"She's an inspiration. I have found what I was seeking. You have given
me the inspiration of art. Through you I shall reach the heights of
the spirit. She has given me the inspiration of life, and through her
I shall plumb the very depths of humanity. She is marvellous. All the
exasperation of modern life is in her, all the impatient brooding on
the threshold of new marvels. You think she is stupid, I know, but
that is only because she has in herself such an immense wealth of
instinctive knowledge of life that she does not need to judge it by
passing outward appearances. I am amazed at her, almost afraid of her.
Something tremendous will come out of her. . . . By God! It makes me
sick to think of all the dabbling in paint that goes on, not to speak
of all the dabbling in love. Love? The word has become foolish and
empty. I don't wish to hear it uttered ever again. . . . I swear that
if it doesn't come out in paint I shall write poetry. Oh! I can feel
the marrow in my bones again, and my veins are full of sap. . . . But
I want to talk business."

"Business?" said Mendel, who had been upset and bewildered by this
outburst.

"Yes. I want you to approve my programme, for you must have a
programme. It is all very well to work by the light of inspiration.
That can work quite well as far as you yourself are concerned, but
what about the public? what about the other artists?--damn them! We're
going to burst out of the groove, but we must have a good reason for
doing so."

"Surely it is reason enough that one can't work in it."

"Not enough for them. They must be mystified and impressed. They must
be unable to place us. They must feel that we are up to something, but
they must be unable to say what it is."

"I don't care what they say," said Mendel.

"But you must care. When we have carried out the programme, then you
can do as you like, but till then we must pull together. We must do it
for the sake of art. We must make a stand, not to found a school or to
say that this and no other style of drawing is right, but to assert
the sacred duty of the artist to paint according to his vision and his
creative instinct."

This was coming very near to Mendel's own feeling, and he remembered
the torture he had been through to learn the Detmold style of drawing,
and how some virtue had gone out of his work in the effort.

"It is the artist's business," said Logan, "to create out of the life
around him an expression of it in form."

"I agree," said Mendel.

"Accurate imitation is not necessarily an expression, is it? You know
it isn't. A picture must be a created thing. It must have a life of
its own, and to have that it must grow through the artist's passion
out of the life around him. It is all rubbish to look back, to talk of
going back to the Primitives or the Byzantines or Egypt. You can learn
a great deal from those old people about pictures, but you cannot
learn how to paint your own pictures from them, because you can only
live in your own life and your own time, and if you are a good artist
your work will transcend both. . . . Now, tell me, where is the work
that is expressing the glorious, many-coloured life of London, where
is the work that does not give you a shock as you come to it out of
the street, the thrilling, vibrant street, making you feel that you
are stepping back ten, twenty, fifty years? . . . Why has life
outstripped art?"

"I don't know," said Mendel, whose head had begun to ache.

"It has not only outstripped it," continued Logan. "It has begun to
despise it."

The postman knocked, and Mendel ran downstairs in feverish expectation
of a letter from Morrison, to whom he had written imploring her to
come again, or, if not, at least to let him have her address in the
country. There was no letter for him, and as soon as he returned with
a blank, disappointed face, Logan went on:--

"People collect pictures as they collect postage-stamps, to keep
themselves from being bored. Naturally they despise pictures, and they
despise us for accepting those conditions. They are intolerable, and
we must make an end of them. We are in a tight corner, and we should
leave no trick and twist and turn untried to get out of it. If we do
not do so then there will be no art, as there is no drama, no music,
and no literature, and there will be no authority among men, and
humanity will go to hell. It is on the road to it, and the artists
have got to stop it."

Mendel had not heard a word. He sat with his head in his hands
thinking of Morrison, and hating her for the blank misery in which she
had plunged him.

"Humanity," said Logan cheerfully, "is fast going to hell. It likes
it; and, as the democratic idea is that it should have what it likes,
not a finger, not a voice is raised to stop it. Everything that stands
in the way--ideals, decency, responsibility, passion, love--everything
is smashed. Nothing can stop it unless their eyes are opened and their
poor frozen hearts are thawed."

"What did you say?" asked Mendel, having half-caught that last phrase.

"We must try to stop it," said Logan. "We may be smashed and swept
aside, but we must try to stop it. . . . I've been to see Cluny
to-day. He has sold all your things except one drawing."

"I know," replied Mendel, who had received an amazing account which
showed about two-thirds of his earnings swallowed up in colours,
brushes, frames, and photographs. He knew, but he was not interested.
He was unhappy and restless and felt completely empty.

"We passionate natures," said Logan, striding up and down like
Napoleon on the quarter-deck of the _Bellerophon_--"we passionate
natures must take control. We must be the nucleus of true fiery stuff
to resist the universal corruption. We must be dedicated to the wars
of the spirit."

"I've got a splitting headache," said Mendel. "Do you mind not talking
so much? The important thing for a painter is painting. What happens
outside that doesn't matter."

"You think so now," said Logan, "but you wait. You'll find that
painting won't satisfy you. You will want to know what it is all for,
and one of these days you will be thankful to me for telling you.
. . . Cluny has taken on some of my things, and he has agreed to our
having an exhibition together. What do you say to that?"

"So long as I sell I don't care where I exhibit. Exhibitions are
always horrible. They always make pictures look mean and
insignificant."

"You are in a mood to-day."

"I tell you," cried Mendel in a fury--"I tell you I know what art is
better than anybody. It touches life at one point, and one point only,
and there it gives a great light. If life is too mean and beastly to
reach that point, so much the worse for life. It does not affect art,
which is another world, where everything is beautiful and true. I know
it; I have always known it. I have lived in that world. I live in it,
and I detest everything that drags me away from it and makes me live
in the world of filth and thieves and scoundrels. Yes, I detest even
love, even passion, for they make a fool and a beast of a man."

"Young!" said Logan. "Very young! You'll learn. . . . But do be
sensible and control your beast of a temper. Never mind my programme
if it doesn't interest you. Will you accept Cluny's offer? It is worth
it, for it will make you independent."

"How much does he want?"

"A dozen exhibits each."

"Oh! very well."

"And will you come and dine to-night with my fool of a patron, Mr.
Tilney Tysoe?"

"I don't want to know fools. I know quite enough already."

"But I've promised to take you. . . . He adores Bohemians, as he calls
us, and he buys pictures."

"Does he give you good food?"

"Some of the best in London."

"All right."

"Meet us at the Paris Café at seven-thirty. Don't dress. Tysoe would
be dreadfully disappointed if you didn't turn up reeking of paint. It
would be almost better not to wash."

"Is Oliver going?"

"Yes. Do you mind?"

"No. . . . No."

* * * * *

It was an enormous relief to Mendel when Logan went. His enthusiasm
was too exhausting, and it was maddening to have him talking of
success and the triumph of art and the wars of the spirit when life
had apparently reached up and extinguished the light of art
altogether. For a brief moment, for a day or two, it had almost seemed
to him that life and art were one, that everything was solved and
simple, that he would henceforth only have to paint and pictures would
flow from his brush as easily as song from a bird. This illusion had
survived even the blow of Morrison's departure. He believed that it
was enough for him to have had that hour of illumination, and that, if
go she must, he could do without her. The flash of light had been the
same, magnified a thousand times, as the inspiration that set him at
work on a picture and then left him to wrestle with the task of
translating it into terms of paint. She had appeared to him exactly in
the same visionary way, an image shining in truth and beauty, an
emanation from that other world, and he had thought he would at worst
be left with the terrible ordeal of translating the vision into paint.
. . . But when he looked at his pictures they oppressed him with their
lifelessness and dark dullness, and the idea of painting disgusted
him. It was even an acute pain, almost like a wound upon his heart, to
handle a brush. He could not finish the portrait of his father and
mother, and, at best, he could only force himself to paint
flower-pieces.

He was incapable of deceiving himself. He had never heard of devout
lovers sighing in vain, and he had no sources of comfort within
himself. Never had he shrunk from any torment, and this was so cruel
as to be almost a glory, except that it meant such a deathly stillness
and emptiness. He could not understand it, and he knew that it was
past the comprehension of all whom he knew, even his mother. But he
set his teeth and vowed that he would understand it if it took years.
. . . A little girl, a little Christian girl! How was it possible?

There was some relief in the thought of her, but very little. She was
still too visionary, and when he tried to think of her in life, by his
side, it was impossibly painful.

Where was she? Why did she not write? Her silence was like ice upon
his heart. . . . What kind of place did she live in? Among what
people? How was he to imagine her? . . . To think of her among the
trees or under the chestnut-tree was to be torn with impulses that
could find no outlet; desires for creation that made painting seem a
sham and a mockery.

So keen, and fierce, and deep was his suffering that death seemed a
little thing in comparison. When he tried to think of death he knew
that it was not worth thinking of, and he was ashamed that the thought
should have been in his mind.

He knew that he must understand or perish. To say that he was in love
was hopelessly inadequate. He knew how people were when they were in
love. They were like Rosa, like animals, stupid and thick-sighted,
with a thickening in their blood. But he was possessed with a
clairvoyance that made everything round him seem transparent and
flimsy, while thought crept stealthily, like a cat on a wall, and
emotion was confounded.

* * * * *

For days he had hardly left his studio, and it was only with the
greatest effort that he could bring himself to join Logan at the Paris
Café. He felt weak, and the streets looked very strange, clear and
bright, as they do to a convalescent. As he entered the café it seemed
years since he had been there, ages since he had sat there trembling
with excitement as he waited for the great Calthrop to come in. He
remembered that excitement so vividly that something like it came
rushing up in him, and he clutched at it for relief. . . . Calthrop
was there with his little court of models and students. Mendel found
himself laughing nervously as he stood and waited for the great man to
recognize him. Calthrop looked up and nodded to him. He was wildly,
absurdly delighted. He rushed over to Logan and Oliver and shook them
enthusiastically by the hand.

"Isn't it a splendid place?" he cried.

"Have something to drink," said Logan. "You've been overworking."

"You must say it's a splendid place," insisted Mendel, "or I shall go
home. Just by that table where Calthrop is sitting is where I was
arrested."

"Oh, which is Calthrop?" asked Oliver eagerly.

"The big man over there," said Mendel. "I was arrested just there, and
I had to go on my knees to the manager to make him allow me to come
here again. I had to apologize to him. At the time it was the greatest
tragedy of my life."

He had forgotten his dislike for Oliver in his elation at finding
himself gay again, and he chattered on of the days when the café had
seemed to him a heaven full of heroes. Oliver listened to him like a
child. She loved stories, and she leaned forward and drank in his
words, and she appeared to him as a very beautiful woman, desirable,
intoxicating. Yet because Logan was his friend he would not envy him,
but rejoiced in his possession of this rare treasure, a woman who
could deliver up to him all the warm secrets of life. And he could not
help saying so, and telling them how happy it made him to be with
them.

Logan and Oliver glanced at each other, and their hands met in a
fierce grip under the table. Mendel could not see more than their
glance, but the meeting of their eyes sent a flame like a white-hot
sword darting at his heart. The sharp pain released him, and sent him
shooting up into a wilder gaiety.

He felt a hand on his shoulder, and, turning with a start, he saw Mr.
Sivwright, his first master, standing above him. He rose and shook
hands.

"I am glad to see you," said Mr. Sivwright. "I've been meaning to
write to you, but I've been away, out of London."

Mendel introduced him to his friends and asked him to sit down.

"I can't stop a moment," said Mr. Sivwright. "I'm very busy. I have
just started a club for artists--opens at eleven. These absurd closing
hours, you know. I hope you'll join. It has been open a week. Great
fun, and I want some frescoes painted. . . . I'm very proud of your
success, Kühler. I feel I had my hand in it."

He produced a prospectus and laid it on the table, bowed awkwardly to
Oliver, and with a self-conscious swagger, as though he felt the eyes
of all in the café upon him, made his way out.

"Who's that broken-down tick?" asked Logan.

"Sivwright," answered Mendel. "He taught me when I was a boy. He's a
very bad artist, and he thinks art ended with Corot. I learned to
paint like Corot. Really! I used to go with him to the Park and weep
over the trees in the twilight: I never thought I should see him
again."

"Oh! people bob up," said Logan. "We go on getting longer in the
tooth, but people recur, like decimals."

"Would you like to go to his club?" asked Mendel. "It says 'Dancing.'
I feel like dancing."

"Oh! I love dancing," said she.

Logan assumed his air of mysterious importance and said it was time to
go to Tysoe's.

"We're twenty minutes late," he said; "Tysoe would be dreadfully put
out if we were punctual."

As Mendel had plenty of money they took a taxi-cab.

* * * * *

Mr. Tilney Tysoe was an idealist, and he had no other profession. He
was a very tall man with a long cadaverous face, great bulging, watery
eyes, and extraordinarily long hands, which hung limply from his
wrist, except when he was excited, when they shot up with extreme
violence, and carried his arms with them into a gesture so awkward
that he had to find relief from it in a shrug. He was devoted to the
arts, had a stall at the opera, a study full of books, and several
rooms full of pictures. An artist was to him a great artist, a book
that pleased him was a great book, and his constant lament was over
the dearth of great men in public life. It gave him the keenest
delight to see Logan, unkempt, wild-haired, shaggy, violent and
brusque, enter his daintily furnished drawing-room, and his eyes
passed eagerly to Oliver, looking just as she ought to have done, the
mistress of a Bohemian.

"Delighted! Delighted!" he said as he coiled his long white hand round
Mendel's workmanlike paw. "My wife, I regret to say, is away. She will
be so sorry to have missed you. Like me, she is tired of the shallow,
artificial people we live among. We both adore sincere, real people. I
adore sincerity. Sincerity is genius."

"That is true," said Logan in a sepulchral voice that made Mendel
jump. "At least, where you find sincerity, you may be sure that genius
is not far behind."

"I bought a picture of yours the other day, Mr. Kühler," said Tysoe.
"I am ashamed to think how little I gave for it, but works of art are
priceless, are they not?"

"Mine are," said Mendel, overcoming his disgust and beginning to enjoy
the game.

"You think so," rejoined Tysoe with an undulation of his long body.
"And why shouldn't you say so? You are sincere and strong. You must
force your talent upon an ungrateful world."

A man-servant announced dinner, and Tysoe gave his arm to Oliver and
led her downstairs, while Logan put his hand on Mendel's shoulder and
said with a chuckle:--

"Be sincere."

Mendel began at once with the soup, as though he had been wound up.

"I have won every possible prize for painting and drawing, and the
first picture I exhibited was the sensation of the year in art
circles."

"I remember it," said Tysoe.

"Like my friend Logan, I am profoundly dissatisfied with the state of
art in England, and though I am not an Englishman I have sufficient
love for the country to wish to do my share in redeeming it. The first
essential is a new technique, the second essential is a new spirit,
and the third essential is sincerity."

"Wonderfully true!" cried Tysoe. "Have some sherry. Wonderfully true!
Now, take the ordinary man. He might feel all that, but would he dare
to say it? No. That is why I, as an idealist, delight in the society
of artists. You know where you are with them. Facts are facts with
them."

"I do like this sherry wine," said Oliver, beginning to feel very
comfortable in the warm luxury of the dining-room.

Logan kicked her under the table.

Feeling that more was expected of him, Mendel wound himself up again
and went on:--

"Logan and I are going to hold an exhibition together. It will make a
great stir, that is, if London is not altogether dead to sincerity. We
think it is time that independence among artists was encouraged. Art
must not be allowed to stop short at Calthrop----"

He stopped dead as he realized that the wall opposite him held half a
dozen drawings by Calthrop. Logan rushed in:--

"Among real artists there is no rivalry. Art is not a competition. It
is a constellation, like the Milky Way."

"Ah! La Voie Lactée!" cried Tysoe, dropping into French, as he
sometimes did when he was moved. "Quite so! La Voie Lactée!"

"At home in Yorkshire," said Oliver, "there are sometimes two big
stars hanging just over the top of the moors, and they say it means
love or death if you see it at half-past nine."

Logan took charge of the conversation, frowning at Mendel and Oliver
as though they were naughty children. He described the masterpiece he
was painting, and Tysoe said:--

"I'm sure I shall like that. It sounds big and forceful, like
yourself. Do let me have a look at it before anyone else sees it."

Then he added:--

"I saw a charming still-life of yours once. A melon, I think it was.
What has become of it?"

"It was sold, I fancy," replied Mendel, who had never painted a melon
in his life.

"Ah! A pity. I wanted some little thing for a wedding-present. No one
I care about very much, so it must be a little thing."

"He has two or three little things just now," said Logan. "If you sent
a messenger-boy round to his studio he would let you see them."

And suddenly Mendel could keep the game up no longer. He began to feel
choked by the stuffy, empty luxury of the room, with its excess of
plate and glass and flowers and furniture and pictures. His head
seemed to be on the point of bursting. He must get out--out and away.
He wanted to laugh, to scream with laughter, to shout, to die of
laughter, anything to shake off the oppressive folly of his host. And
he began to laugh, to shake and heave with it. He suppressed it, but
at last he burst out with a roar and rushed from the room.

"Overworked," said Logan imperturbably. "That's what it is. The poor
devil hasn't learned sense yet. It's work, work, work with him, all
the time. He thinks of nothing but his art, you know. Never has, ever
since he was a boy. . . . He'll be a very great genius, and I shall be
left far behind."

"Not you," said Tysoe, "not you. I know no man in whom I have greater
faith than you."

"Do you think him as good as all that?" said Oliver eagerly. "I'm
always telling him Kühler's not a patch on him."

Meanwhile Mendel had taken refuge in the lavatory, where he shouted
and shook and cried with laughter. When he had recovered himself he
crawled back to the dining-room muttering inaudible apologies.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I've not been myself lately."

"You mustn't overdo it," said Tysoe kindly. "You have plenty of time.
You need be in no hurry to overtake Logan. He is entering upon
maturity. Your time will come."

Mendel felt disturbed. He had not thought of Logan seriously as a
painter, certainly not as a rival or a colleague. Logan was his
friend. That Logan painted was incidental. It irritated him to have to
sit and listen to him holding forth about painting. He had always
liked Logan's talk, but had never really connected it with his work.
It was just talk, like reading, or going to the cinema--a sop, a drug,
soothing and pleasant when he was in the mood for it, maddening when
he was not.

It was as though a spring had been touched, releasing his
intelligence, which had always been kept apart from his work. For the
first time he felt, though never so little, detached from it, while at
the same moment the awful inward pressure of his emotional crisis was
relaxed. He was happier, and less wildly gay, and he began to realize
that he had astonishingly good food in front of him, good wine in
plenty, delicious fruits to come, and fragrant coffee brewing there on
the sideboard among bright-hued liqueur bottles. . . . There was no
need to listen to Logan. There was pleasure enough in eating and
drinking and watching Oliver, and thinking how good it would be to
dance with her, and perhaps with others--little women whom he would
hold in his arms and feel them yield to every movement that he made.
. . .

He was left alone with Oliver after dinner, while Logan and Tysoe
retired to the study.

"You've made him very happy," he said rather unsteadily.

"Oh, yes!" said she. "It was like a Fate, wasn't it? I always had a
feeling that I wasn't like other girls. I always thought something out
of the way would happen to me, though I never thought of anything like
this."

"You mustn't tell me about him," said Mendel.

"I must tell someone or I shall die. He's so extraordinary. He says
it's something deeper than love, and I think it must be."

"You must not talk about it," he said.

"It makes all the stuff he talks about seem silly. I don't understand
it, do you?"

She lay back in her chair and swung her foot, with her eyes fixed on
the door waiting for Logan to return.

Mendel's dislike of her sprang up in him again, and he was a little
afraid of her: of her big, fleshy body, so full now of little
trickling streams of pleasure; of her eyes, watching, watching, with
the strange, glassy steadiness of the eyes of a bird of prey. . . . He
decided that he would not dance with her. He would dance with the
others--the little, harmless, pretty fools.

To reassure himself he told himself that Logan was happy, and strong
enough to resist the growing will in this woman.



VIII

THE MERLIN'S CAVE

LOGAN had cajoled twenty pounds out of Mr. Tysoe, who stood on his
doorstep, dangling his long hands, while his admired guests crept into
a taxi-cab. He swung from side to side:--

"I have had a most delightful evening--most charming, most inspiring."

Inside the cab Logan waved the cheque triumphantly and Oliver tried to
snatch it from him. They had an excited scuffle, which ended in a
kiss.

"What's the matter with the man?" asked Mendel.

"He's just a fool," replied Logan, "a padded fool. His only virtue is
that he does really think me a wonderful fellow, and he is kind. But
how I hate such kindness, the last virtue, the last refuge of the
decrepit! It is a perfume, a herb with which they are embalmed."

"I thought he was a very nice old gentleman," said Oliver.

"He seemed to me," said Mendel, "the kind of man who thinks of nothing
but women all day long."

"Hit it in once!" cried Logan. "A parrot will not do more for an
almond than he will for a commodious drab. He could take a nun and by
force of living with her and surrounding her with every luxury turn
her into a whore, because she would in time become only another
luxury. That is what men grow into if they lose the spirit of freedom.
. . . Where are we going to?"

"I told the man to go to Sivwright's club. It is called The Merlin's
Cave."

* * * * *

The club proved to be a cellar filled with little tables. There was a
commissionaire at the door and a book had to be signed. The rack of
the cloakroom contained several silk-lined overcoats and opera-hats.

"It's going to be damned expensive," said Logan.

"I'll pay," replied Mendel. "It's my fault."

Two tall young men in immaculate evening dress had entered just after
them. They gave out an air of wealth and cleanliness and made Logan
and Oliver look common and shabby. Mendel hated the two young men.
What had they done to look so well-fed and unruffled? Obviously they
had only to hold out their hands to have everything they wanted put
into them. . . . They looked slightly self-conscious and ashamed of
themselves, and wore a look of alarmed expectancy as they went
downstairs.

Why did they come there if they were ashamed? and why did they expect
an Asmodean lewdness of an artists' club, they for whom the
flesh-markets of the music-hall promenades existed?

"Real swells, aren't they?" said Oliver, overawed.

The strains of a small orchestra came floating up the stairs.

"Come on," said Mendel, "I want to dance." And he caught her by the
wrist and dragged her downstairs.

A girl was standing on a table singing an idiotic song with a
syncopated chorus which a few people took up in a half-hearted
fashion. The sound of it was thin and depressing.

"The same old game," said Logan. "Playing at being wicked. Why can't
they stick to their commercial beastliness? I should be ashamed to
bring any woman into this. I am ashamed." He half rose from his chair.

"Oh! don't go," pleaded Oliver, who was entranced with her first sight
of what she called a gay life. It was to her like a stage spectacle.
"Oh! there's that Calthrop; I suppose all those odd women with him are
models."

Calthrop was surrounded by admiring students, among them Morrison,
sitting prim and astonished and obviously amazed to find herself where
she was. Mendel began to tremble, and his heart beat violently, as he
stared at her--stared and stared.

She had lied to him then! She had not had to go home! She could strike
him down and then come to amuse herself at such a place as this!

Was she with Mitchell? No, Mitchell was not among the satellites.

How strange she looked! a wild violet in a hot-house. He waited for
her to glance in his direction, but she seemed to be absorbed in the
singer and in the song, and every now and then she smiled, though
obviously not at the song--at something that amused her or pleased her
in her thoughts. She could smile then and be happy, and all his wild
emotions had made no invasion into her life. . . . No; she would not
look in his direction. Perhaps she had seen him come in and refused to
see him.

Would the dancing never begin? The dancing took place on a slightly
raised floor. If he danced there she would have to see him.

He found a warm hand placed on his leg, and turning he saw Jessie
Petrie, a model, with whom he had danced at the studios and at the
Detmold.

"I thought I was never going to see you again," she said, "and
Mitchell said you had gone mad."

"Do I look it?" he asked.

"No. You look bonnier than ever. I'm on my own again now. Thompson has
gone to Paris. He says the only painters are there. I think he's going
mad, because he paints nothing but stripes and triangles. And he _was_
such a dear. . . . I'm feeling awfully lonely because Tilly has gone
to Canada. Samuelson gave her the chuck and she went out to her cousin
in Canada, who had always been wanting to marry her. . . . Are you
still down in Whitechapel? I do hate going to see you there. Why don't
you move up to the West End? I could come and live with you then, for
I do hate being at a loose end."

She was adorably pretty, dark, with eyes like damsons, lovely red
lips, touched up with carmine, and a soft white neck that trembled as
she spoke like the breast of a singing bird.

"Oh! who do you think I saw the other day? Hetty Finch! She has a flat
and a motor-car, but I don't believe she is married." She looked
suddenly solemn as she added: "The baby's dead." Then she rattled on:
"Isn't she lucky? But she's an awful snob. Would hardly speak to me!"

"She's a beast of a woman."

"What do you think of this place? I suppose if the swells come it'll
be a success, but they do spoil it."

"Yes," said Mendel. "They spoil everything. When do they begin to
dance?"

"They've nearly finished the programme. They have to have a programme
to make people eat and drink."

"Let's have some champagne."

He called the waiter and ordered a bottle.

"Been selling lately?"

"No," he said; "but I want to dance. Do you hear? I want to dance."

"Dancing," Logan threw in, "is the beginning of art. It is too
primitive for me, or I'm too old."

A thin-faced long-haired poet mounted the table and read some verses,
which the popping of corks and the clatter of knives and forks
rendered inaudible. The poet went on interminably, and at last someone
began drumming on the table and shouting "Dance! Dance! Dance!" The
poet stuck to it. Bread was thrown at him and the shouting became
general.

At last the orchestra struck up through the poet's reedy chanting,
couples made their way to the stage, and the dancing began. Morrison
still sat prim and preoccupied. Mendel put his arm round Jessie's
waist, his fingers sank into her young, supple body, and he lifted her
to her feet and rushed with her over to the stage. The whole place was
humming with life, beating to the chopped rhythm of the vacant
American tune.

"I do love dancing with you," said Jessie, as he swung her into the
moving throng of brilliantly dressed women and black-coated men, so
locked together that they were like one creature, a strange, grotesque
quadruped. And Jessie so melted into him, so became a part of him,
that he too became another creature, an organism in the whirling
circle supported and spun round by the music. It was glorious to feel
his will relaxing, to feel the lithe, soft woman in his arms yield to
every impulse, every movement. He danced with a terrific
concentration, with a wiry collected force that made Jessie feel as
light as a feather.

"Oo! That was lovely," she said when the music stopped. "You do dance
lovely."

"It was pretty good," said Mendel. "But wait until they play a waltz."

"I want to dance with you," cried Oliver. "You said I should dance
with you."

And she had the next dance with him; but there was no lightness in
her, only a greedy fumbling after sensation.

"This is awful!" thought Mendel, never for a moment losing himself,
and all the while conscious of Morrison sitting there unmoved: of
Morrison, whom he was trying to forget. Oliver seemed to envelop him,
to swallow him up. He was conscious of holding an enormous woman in
his arms and her contact was distasteful. The dance seemed endless.
Would the music never stop? . . . One, two, three. . . . One, two,
three. . . . It was like a dancing class with the fat Jewesses at
home. . . . And all the time he was conscious of Morrison's big blue
eyes staring at him. Would she never stop her damnable smiling?

He returned Oliver to Logan shamefacedly, as though he were paying a
long-standing debt.

Jessie returned from her other partner to him.

"Oh! It isn't anything like the same," she said; "and that is such a
lovely tune to dance to."

Now that the dancers were warmed up they refused to allow any
intervals. They had their partners and were unwilling to stop. The
orchestra was worked up into a kind of frenzy, and Mendel and Jessie
were whirled into an ecstasy. They abandoned the conventional steps
and improvised, gliding, whirling, swooping suddenly through the
dancers. Sometimes he picked her up and whirled her round, sometimes
his hands were locked on her waist and she bent backwards--back, back,
until he pulled her up and she fell upon his breast, happy, panting,
deliriously happy.

* * * * *

Morrison sat watching. She was trembling and felt very miserable. She
had been brought there by Clowes, who had been unable to resist the
flattery of Calthrop's invitation. All these people seemed to her to
be pretending to be happy, and she was oppressed with it all. She had
not seen Mendel until he mounted the stage, and then her heart ached.
She remembered the etched phrases of his letter to her. She had
written to him, but nothing she could express on paper conveyed her
feeling, her sense of being in the wrong, and her deep, instinctive
conviction of the injustice of that wrong. . . . He had placed her in
the wrong by talking of marriage so prematurely. As she looked round
the room she was oppressed by all the men: great, hulking creatures,
clumsy, cocksure, insensible, spinning their vain thoughts and vainer
emotions round the women as a spider spins its threads round a caught
fly. . . . She had often watched spiders dealing with the booty in
their webs, and Calthrop reminded her of a spider when he looked at
Clowes and laid his hand on her shoulder or fingered her arm. And
Clowes lay still like a caught fly and suffered it. . . . Morrison was
in revolt against it all. She was full of sweet life, and would not
have it so treated. Her prudery was not shocked, for she had no
prudery. The men might have their women so, if the women liked it, but
never, never would she be so treated.

It was because she had been able to sweep aside the sticky threads of
vanity with Mendel that the ecstasy of the woods and the Heath had
been possible.

As she watched him now, she knew that he was different from all the
others. He had brought an exaltation into the face of the common
little girl who was his partner. He was giving her life, not taking it
from her.

Yet to see him made her unhappy. The music was vulgar, the people were
vulgar, and he had no true place among them. But how he enjoyed it
all!

She shook with impatience at herself. It was hateful to be outside it,
looking on, looking on. A young student had pestered her to dance with
him. She turned to him and said:--

"I want to dance, please."

Delighted, he sprang to his feet, gave her his arm, and whirled her
into the dance.

* * * * *

Slowing down to take breath, Mendel looked in her direction. She was
gone! A black despair seized him, a groan escaped him; he hugged
Jessie tight against his body and plunged madly into the dance.

The musicians had been given champagne. The violinist began to
embroider upon the tune and the 'cellist followed with voluptuous
thrumming chords.

Jessie gave little cries of happiness to feel the growing strength in
Mendel's arms, the waxing power of his smooth movements. She gave
little cries like the call of a quail, and he laughed gleefully every
time she cried. He could feel the force rising in him. It would surely
burst out of him and break into molten streams of laughter, leaving
him deliciously light, as light and absurd as dear little Jessie, who
was swinging on the music like a dewdrop on a gossamer. . . . If only
the music would last long enough! He would be as tremulous and light
as she, and while that lightness lasted he could love her and taste
life at its highest point--for her. . . . She was aware of his desire,
and swung to it. It was like a wind swaying her, thistledown as she
was; like a wind blowing her through the air on a summer's day. O that
it might never end, that the sky might never be overcast, that the
rain might never come and the night might never fall. . . . Terrible
things had happened to Jessie in the night, and she was happy in the
sun.

Mendel was past all dizziness. The room had spun round until it could
spin no more, and then it had unwound itself, making him feel weak and
giddy. He was very nearly clear-headed, and every now and then he
caught a glimpse of Logan sketching and of Oliver, sitting with a
sulky pout on her lips and tears in her eyes because she wanted to
dance and knew she had made a failure of it.

"Lovely! lovely! lovely!" sighed Jessie.

"You are like the white kernel of a nut," said Mendel, "when the shell
is broken."

"Do let me come and sit for you," she said. "I won't want anything
except my dinner."

"Better keep to the dancing," he answered, as he spun her round to
stop her talking.

She began to stroke his neck and to press her face against his breast.
At the same moment he saw Morrison among the dancers. He slowed down
and then stopped dead. The music rose to an exultant riot of sound.

"Please, please!" cried Jessie, clinging to him; but he had forgotten
her.

Morrison and her partner swept past him, and he watched them go the
full circle. She saw him standing, and as she approached broke away
from her partner.

"Why aren't you dancing with me?" he said, shaking with eagerness to
hear her speak.

"I'm no good at dancing," she said. "I don't enjoy it."

"Who brought you here? Calthrop?"

"He brought Clowes and me. . . . You mustn't stop dancing. Your
partner. . . ."

"Please, please!" cried Jessie, stamping her foot; "the music is going
to stop."

"Wait a moment," he said, turning to Morrison. "Are you going home?"

"The day after to-morrow."

"I must see you."

Before she could reply her partner, who had lost his temper, seized
her and made her finish the dance, and when it was over he marched her
back to Calthrop's party, and he never left her side again.

Mendel returned to Logan and Oliver, to find them impatient to go. The
end of an evening always found them in this impatient mood.

"It all bears out what I say," said Logan. "All this night-club
business. People have to go mad in London before they can taste life
at all."

"Do you mind if I come home and sleep on your sofa?" asked Mendel. "I
can't face my studio to-night."

"Why don't you take Jessie home with you?" said Logan; "I'm sure she'd
like to."

Mendel winced, and Jessie's lips began to tremble. She was still
suffering from the sudden end to her happiness. She looked at him,
almost hoping that he was going to make reparation to her.

"You know I can't," he said; "I live in my brother's house and he is a
respectable married man."

He knew he was in for a terrible night of reaction and desperate blind
emotion; at the same time he did not wish to hurt Jessie more than he
had done.

"I'll take you home in a cab," he said. "But I won't stay, if you
don't mind. I'm done up. If you and Oliver walk half way, Logan, we
ought to be there about the same time."

Jessie was appeased. A little kindness went a long way with her, and
she hated to be a nuisance to a man.

When the cab stopped outside the door of her lodgings she flung her
arms round Mendel's neck and kissed him, saying:--

"You are a darling, and I would do anything in the world for you."

"You shall come and sit for me," he replied. "Good-night!"

"Good-night!"

* * * * *

Good-night! A night of tossing to and fro, of hearing terrifying
noises in the darkness, of hearing Logan and Oliver in the next room,
of shutting his ears to what he heard, of fancying he heard someone
calling him . . . her voice! Surely she had called him, and the ache
and the torment in his flesh was the measure of her need of him. . . .
Strange, blurred thoughts; gusts of defiance and revolt; glimpses of
pictures, subjects for pictures, colours and shapes. . . . His
mother's hands clutching a fish and bringing a knife down on to it.
There was a blue light on the knife. It would be very hard to get that
and to keep it subordinate to the blue in the fish's scales. . . . His
father and mother, eternally together, in an affection that never
found any expression, harsh and bitter, but strongly savoured, like
everything else in their lives. . . . Issy and Rosa, much the same as
Logan and Oliver, and to them also he had to shut his ears. . . . The
goggle-eyed man at the Pot-au-Feu. . . . London, London, the roaring
fiery furnace of London in which he was burning alive, while flames of
madness shot up above him. . . . Music. . . . There was a music in his
soul, a music and mystery that could rise with an easy power above all
the flames. . . . What did it matter that his body was burned, if his
soul could rise like that up to the stars and beyond the stars to the
point where art touched life and gave out its iridescent beneficent
light? . . . Life, flames, body, stars, all might perish and fade
away, but the soul had its knowledge of eternity and could not be
quenched. . . . Eternal art, divine art, the world of form, shaped in
the knowledge of eternity, wherein life and death are but a day and a
night. . . . Sickening doubt of himself, sinking down, down into
eternity to be a part of it, never to know it, never to see the light
of art, lost to eternity in eternity. . . . He sat up in the middle of
the night and imagined himself back in the one room in Gun Street,
looking at the recumbent bodies of his family, lost in sleep, huddled
together in degradation. . . . It would have been better to have gone
home with Jessie. She would have given him rest and sleep. . . . No,
no, no! . . . She was going away the day after to-morrow. He must see
her before she went, with her big blue eyes and short chestnut hair.
She had stopped in the middle of the dance. She had broken away from
her partner, and on Hampstead Heath she had said "I love you."



IX

"GOOD-BYE"

LOGAN came in early in the morning to make tea. He shut the door
carefully and came and sat on Mendel's sofa.

"She says you hate her," he said.

"I?" answered Mendel. "No. I. . . . What can make her say that?
Because I didn't dance with her? I had Jessie. You ought to have
danced with her."

"I'm glad she didn't dance. It might make her break out. Women are
very queer things. You never know where they will break out. . . . You
make love to them, touch a spring in them, and God knows where it may
lead you. . . . You're not in love with that mop-haired girl, are
you?"

"What if I am?"

"She's just a doll-faced miss. You're taken with the type because
you're unused to it. For God's sake don't take it seriously. You're
much too good to waste yourself on women. She'll drive you mad with
purity and chivalrous devotion and all the other schoolgirl twaddle.
Leave all that to the schoolboy English. It's all they're good for.
They've bred it on purpose to be the mother of more schoolboys. It is
the basis of the British Empire. But what is the British Empire to you
or any artist? Nothing."

"I don't want to talk about it," said Mendel.

"She won't marry you," said Logan. "She won't live with you. She'll
give you nothing. She'll madden you with her conceited stupidity and
wreck your work. . . . What you want is what every decent man
wants--to take a woman and keep her in her place, so that she can't
interfere with him. That's what I've done, and it's made a man of me,
but I'm not going to let her know it. She'd be crowing like an old hen
that has laid an egg. . . . No farmyard life for me, thanks."

Oliver bawled for her tea and Logan hastened to make it, and
disappeared into the bedroom.

Mendel got up and dressed, feeling eager for the day. The sun shone in
through the window and filled the room with a dusty glow, making even
the shabby bareness of the place seem charming.

"It is a good day," he said to himself. "I shall work to-day." And he
was annoyed at not having his canvas at hand.

On an easel stood the picture which Logan had described to Tysoe, a
London street scene with a group of people gazing into a shop window.
It was a clever piece of work, very adroit in the handling of the
paint and pleasing in colour, but Mendel had an odd uncomfortable
feeling of having seen it before, and yet he knew that the technique
was novel. Yet it was precisely the technique that seemed familiar.
Certain liberties had been taken with the perspective which, though
they were new to him, did not surprise him.

Logan came in dressed and said that Oliver would not be a minute. She
appeared in a dressing-gown.

"Well?" she said; "none the worse for last night?"

"No, thanks," said Mendel. "Why should I be? I enjoyed it."

"Did Logan tell you we were going to Paris?"

"No. He said nothing about it."

"I'm dying to go to Paris. He says they understand the kind of thing
we had last night in Paris."

"You're not going for good, are you?" asked Mendel.

"No. Just a trip. I want you to come too. We'll see some pictures and
have a good time. I can't speak a word of French, but they say English
is good enough anywhere."

"Yes, I'd like to go," said Mendel. "I want a change, before I settle
down to working for the exhibition. Is that picture going to be in
it?"

"Yes. Do you like it?"

"I like it. It seems to me new. Stronger than most things. All these
people going in for thin, flat colour and greens and mauves make me
long for something solid."

"I'm going to show that and a portrait of Oliver."

"I want my breakfast," said she.

"Oh! shut up. We're talking. . . . I've just begun the portrait. No
psychological nonsense about it. It's just the head of a woman in
paint. I don't want any damn fool writing about my picture: she is
wiser than the chair on which she sits and the secrets of the
antimacassar are hers. A picture's a picture and a book's a book."

"I do want my breakfast," sang Oliver.

Logan went livid with fury.

"Be silent, woman," he said.

"I shan't, so there. I want my breakfast."

"Why the hell don't you get the breakfast then?"

"Because you said you would."

Logan began to prepare the breakfast--rashers of bacon and eggs.

"You don't mind eating pork?" he asked Mendel.

"No. I like it, but I never get it at home."

"Fancy Jews being still as strict as that!" said Oliver. "Just like
they were in Shakespeare's time."

"Just as they were in the time of Moses and Aaron," said Mendel. "They
don't alter except that they haven't got a country to fight for."

"Thank God!" said Logan, "or there'd be a bloody mess every other
week. Fancy a Jewish Empire, with you sent out, like David, to hit the
Czar of Russia or Chaliapine in the eye with a stone from a sling.
Think of your sister-in-law luring the Kaiser into a tent and knocking
a nail through his head. I wish she could, upon my soul I do!"

"I think we should only be led into captivity again," said Mendel.
"Our fighting days are over, and someone told me the other day that
many of the most advanced artists in Paris are Jews."

"If they were all like you," said Logan, "I shouldn't mind. But I'm
afraid they're not. The Jews have got all the money and they keep the
other people fighting for it, and charge them a hell of a lot for guns
and uniforms to do it with. Oh! there are Christians in it too, but
they have to be nice to the Jews to be allowed to share the spoils. I
don't wonder the Jews left the Promised Land when they found the world
was inhabited by fools who would let them plunder it."

"There's not much plunder in my family," said Mendel.

* * * * *

After breakfast he declared that he must go, and Logan announced that
he would walk with him to enjoy the lovely sunny day. Oliver wanted to
come too, but he told her to stay where she was, and he left her in
tears.

"She's got a bad habit of crying," he said, "and she must be broken of
it. She cries if I don't speak to her for an hour. She cries if I go
out without telling her where I am going. She cries if I curse and
swear over my work, and if I am pleased with it she cries because I am
never so happy with her. . . . I feel like hitting her sometimes, but
it isn't her fault. She hasn't settled down to it yet. She says I
don't love her when she knows she never expected to be loved so much.
And she can't get used to it."

"Why don't you paint her crying?" asked Mendel maliciously.

"By Jove! I will," cried Logan. "Damned interesting drawing, with her
eyes all puckered up. . . . But it's a shame on a day like this to be
out of temper with anything. Lord! How women do spoil the universe, to
be sure! Do they give us anything to justify the mess they make of it?
. . . Women and shopkeepers. I don't see why one should have any mercy
on either of them. I have no compunction in stealing anything I want.
Shopkeepers steal from the public all the little halfpennies and
farthings of extra profit they exact."

He led Mendel into a picture shop and asked for a reproduction of a
picture by Van Tromp, and when the girl retired upstairs to ask about
that non-existent artist, he turned over the albums and helped himself
to half a dozen reproductions, rolled them up, and put them in his
pocket. When the girl came down and said they were out of Van Tromps,
he said:--

"I'm sorry. Very sorry to trouble you."

When they were out of the shop he chuckled, and was as elated over his
success as Mr. Kuit had been over his exploits.

"Oh! I should be an artist in anything I did," he said. "I don't
wonder thieves can't go straight once they get on the lay. If I
weren't a painter I should be a criminal."

He walked with Mendel as far as Gray's Inn, and there left him, saying
he had another picture-buying flat to go and see, and after that he
must pay a visit to Uncle Cluny and keep him up to the mark. He was in
fine fettle, and went off singing at the top of his voice.

Mendel bought some flowers on the way home because he wished always to
have flowers, even if she were to send no more.

He was sure of himself to-day. He was in love and glad to be in love.
Surely it could have no worse suffering than that through which he had
passed, and if it did, well, so much the worse for him. . . . He was
glad it had happened. His father would not be able to sneer at him any
more, as he was always sneering at Issy and Harry--Harry, who had
deserted his father and mother for the sweetbreads of Paris. (Jacob
always called sweetmeats sweetbreads.) He had a bitter, biting tongue,
had Jacob, and the habit of using it was growing on him. Mendel knew
that he had deserved many of his sneers, but now they could touch him
no longer. His life, like his art, now contained a passion as strong
as any Jacob had known in his life, and stronger, because it was
wedded to beauty, to which Jacob was a stranger.

He was able to work again at his picture of his father and mother. He
could make something of it now, he knew, because he could understand
his father and appreciate the strength in him which had kept his
passion alive through poverty and a life of constant storms and
upheavals. He remembered his father knocking down the schoolmaster,
and the soldier in the inn with the heavy glass. Oh yes! Jacob was a
strong man, and he had nearly died of love for Golda, the beautiful.

He worked away with an extraordinary zest, and he knew that it was
good. As he grew tired during the afternoon he was overcome with a
great longing for her to see it, just to see it and to say she liked
it. It would not matter much if she did not understand it, so long as
she saw it and liked it.

He turned to the roughly sketched portrait of her to ask her if she
liked it, and as he did so the door opened and she came in. Her arms
were full of flowers, so that her face was resting in them, her dear
face, the sweetest of all flowers.

"You said . . . you must see me, so I brought you these to say
good-bye."

"Do come in and see my picture. It is nearly finished."

"Oh! It is good," she said shyly.

"I thought you'd like it. I wanted you to like it. Do stay a little
and talk."

She sat down and looked about the studio, puckering up her eyebrows
nervously and making her eyes very round and large.

"You never told me how old you are," he said nervously.

"I'm nineteen."

"I'm twenty. Just twenty. How long are you going away for?"

"I don't know. Until the winter, I expect."

"What will you do there in the country? It is important that you
should tell me, because I must know how to think of you. What shall
you do? Is it a big house? Are you--are you rich?"

"No. It is not a very big house. My mother is fairly well off, but I
have four brothers, and they all have to go to Oxford and Cambridge.
. . . There's a good garden, and I shall spend a lot of time in that,
digging and looking after the flowers. And I shall try and do some
work. There's a big barn I can have for a studio."

"A big barn. Yes. Are your brothers nice men?"

"Two of them."

"And there's a river and a common. May I write to you?"

She was silent for a long time, and then she said:--

"No. Please don't."

His happiness vanished. It was as though a hole had opened in the
floor and swallowed it up.

"Why not?" he asked. "Why not?"

She shrank into herself for a moment, but shook off her cowardice and
answered:--

"I don't want to hurt you."

"You said you loved me. You can do what you like with me!"

"You're so different," she said. "Too different."

"From what? From whom? Go on, go on!"

She loved his violence and gained courage from it.

"You mustn't think it mean of me. I don't care a bit what people say,
but I don't want to hurt you--in your work, I mean. It isn't all that
I think and mean, but it is a part of it, a little part of it. People
are furious at our being seen together. It began at the picnic. We
were seen walking over the Heath. Clowes told me. She can't bear it.
She's a good friend. . . . It hurt me when she told me, and I knew
that I must tell you. It isn't only old women. It is all the important
people, who can hurt your work."

"Nobody can hurt my work."

"But they can. They are saying your work is bad, all the people who
said it was so good only last year, all the people who believed in
you. And it's all through me. It's my fault."

She began to weep silently. He was unmoved by the sight of it, so
appalled was he by the sudden devastation of his life. Suffering
within himself he knew, but hostility from without he had not had to
face. . . . Many little slights were explained--men who had given him
an indifferent nod, men who had apparently not seen him in the street.
In the surprise of it he was blind even to her. It was like a
sandstorm covering him up, filling with grit every little chink and
crevice of his being. He snorted with fury and contempt.

He shook himself free of the oppression of it. This was nothing to do
with her; it was not what he wanted from her--the gossip and
tittle-tattle, the sweepings of the studios. The models sickened him
of that. . . . So it was his turn now. Well, other men had survived
it.

"That isn't why you want to say good-bye."

"No. I'm not pleading to you to let me off, or anything like that. I
believe in you more than in anybody else, more than I do in myself.
. . . I don't believe in myself much."

It had all seemed clear to her before she had come. He would
understand how wrong and twisted the whole thing had become. They
would suffer together and they would see how useless such suffering
was in a world of beauty and charm and youth, and they would part
because they had to part. He would understand, even if she could not
rightly understand, for he was strong and simple and direct, and free
of the soft vanity of youth.

But he did not understand. He was angry and domineering.

"Why do you say all this?" he said heavily, floundering for words.
"What does it mean? Nothing at all. You belong to me. You gave up
Mitchell because I said you must. Have you given up Mitchell?"

"Yes."

"Very well then. Nothing else matters. If I want a thing I will break
through a Chinese wall to get it. Nothing can stop me, because when I
want a thing it is mine already. I want it because it is mine
already."

He was making it impossible for her--impossible to go, impossible to
stay, impossible to say anything.

Outside in the street the heavy drays went clattering by on the stone
setts. When they had passed there came up the shrill cries of children
playing in the street, the drone of a Rabbi taking a class of boys in
Hebrew. On the hot air came the smell of the street--a smell of women
and babies and leather and kosher meat.

"I know the way of women," he said. "My mother has been my friend
always. But I do not know your ways. I only know that I love you. You
are mine as that picture is mine, and you cannot take yourself from
me."

"I don't want to take myself from you," she said, half angry, half in
tears. "I want to make you understand me."

"What is there to understand? Do I understand my pictures?" he cried.
"Do you want no mystery? How can there be life without mystery? I
don't expect you to understand. I only want you to be honest and true
to me. . . . I conceal nothing. I am a Jew. I live in this horrible
place. My life is as horrible as this place. You know all that, all
there is to know, and you love me. You cannot alter me. You cannot
change my nature. . . ."

"Don't say any more," she said. "It only becomes worse with talking."

"What becomes worse?"

She could not answer him. She could not say what she felt. The woods,
the Heath, and--this; the rattle and smell of the street, the
dinginess of the studio, the dinginess of his soul--the dinginess and
yet the fire of it. On the Heath he had been like a faun, prick-eared
and shaggy, but wild and free as her spirit was wild and free. Here he
was rough, coarse, harsh, and tyrannical. She could feel him battering
at her with his mind, searching her out, probing into her, and she
resented it with all the passion of her modesty. She gathered up all
her forces to resist him.

"You are terrible! Terrible!" she cried. "Don't you see that it must
be good-bye?"

"I say it must not," he shouted. "I say it is nonsense to talk of
good-bye, when we have just met, when the kiss is yet warm on our
lips. For a kiss is a holy thing, and I do not kiss unless it is holy.
I say it is not good-bye."

"I say it is and must be," she said. "You are terrible. You hurt me
beyond endurance."

"And why should you not be hurt? Am I to have all the pain? I want to
share even that with you."

"It is impossible," she said dully, unable to share, or deal with, or
appreciate the violence of his passion, and falling back on the
mulishness which had been developed in her through her tussles with
her brothers. Through her mind shot the horrible thought:--

"We are quarrelling--already quarrelling."

To her he seemed to be dragging her down, defiling her. His eyes were
glaring at her with a passion that she took for sensuality, because it
came out of the dinginess of his soul. And he was stiffening into an
iron column of egoism, on which she knew she could make no impression.
She knew, too, that her presence was aggravating the stiffening
process. . . . She felt caught, trapped, and she wanted to get away.
Love must be free--free as the wind on the heath, as the blossom of
the wild cherry. Love must have its blossoming time, and he was
demanding the full heat of the summer. . . . She must get away.

"Good-bye," she said, holding out her hand.

He took her hand and pulled her to him.

"No! No! No!" she cried. "No! Good-bye! Good-bye!"

She turned away and was gone.

Unable to contain his agony, he flung himself on his bed and sobbed
out his grief.

"She is mine!" he moaned. "She is mine, and she cannot take herself
from me."

And when his tears were shed he began to think of the other women who
had come to him without love, so easily, so gratefully, some of them,
and this little girl who loved him could tear herself away--at a
fearful cost. He knew that. But if she could tear herself away, if she
could say good-bye, what could she know of love?



X

PARIS

MENDEL was able to finish his portrait of Jacob and Golda, but only at
the cost of painful and bitter labour. He was torn two ways: longing
to finish it, yet dreading the end of it, for he could not see beyond
it. Every picture he had painted had brought with it the certain
knowledge that it would lead to a better, that he was advancing
further on the road to art. But there was a finality about this
picture. It was an end in itself. It was not like most of his work,
one of a possible dozen or more. A certain stream of his feeling ended
in it and then disappeared, leaving him without guide or direction.

Therefore, when the picture was ended he found himself besottedly and
uncontrollably in love and in a maddeningly sensitive condition, so
that any sudden glimpse of beauty--the stars in the night sky, a
girl's face in the train, flowers in a window-box--could set him
reeling. More than once he found himself clinging to the wall or a
railing, emerging with happy laughter from a momentary lack of
consciousness. In the street near his home he found a lovely little
girl, of the same type as Sara, but more beautiful. Graceful and
lively she was, fully aware of her vitality and charm, and she used to
smile at him when he went to meet her as she came out of school, or
stood and watched her playing in the street.

At last he asked her shyly if she would come to his studio that he
might draw her. She consented and came often. She would chatter away,
and, studying her, he was astonished at her womanishness, and he was
overwhelmed when she said one day:--

"You don't want to draw me. You only want to look at me."

He was thrust back into the thoughts he had been avoiding. If this
child knew already so frankly why he was attracted to her, why could
not that other? Why did she seem to insist that he should regard her
with the emotions with which he approached a work of art? A work of
art could yield up its secret to the emotions, but she could only
deliver hers to love dwelling not in any abstract region, but here on
earth, in the life of the body. . . . He often thought of her with
active dislike, because she seemed to him to be lacking in frankness.
If she were going to cause so much suffering, as she must have known
she would with her good-bye, then she must have her reasons for it.
What did she mean with her neither yes nor no? With women there should
be either yes or no. A refusal is unpleasant, but it could be
swallowed down with other ills; and there were others. But this girl,
this short-haired Christian, blocked his way, and there were no others
except as there were cabs on the street and meals on the table.

For a time he avoided Logan and Oliver. He knew that Logan would
despise him for his weakness in setting his heart on a girl who ran
away from him, for he knew and admired the tremendous force with which
his friend had hurled himself into his life with the girl of the
station, constantly wooing and winning her afresh and urging her to
share his own recklessness. He admired, too, Logan's insistence on an
absolute separation of his art and his life with Oliver, who was never
for one moment admitted to his mind. Rather to his dismay, but at the
same time with a wild rush of almost lyrical impulse, Mendel, finding
himself with no other emotion than that of being in love, set himself
to paint love. He worked with an amazing ease, painting one picture
one day and covering it with another the next, feeling elatedly
convinced that everything he did was beautiful, yet knowing within
himself that he was in a bad way.

He avoided Logan, but Logan needed him, and came to tell him so.

"It is all very well for you to shut yourself up," he said, "but I
can't live without you. You know what Oliver is to me, but it is not
enough. The more satisfying she is on one plane, the more I need on
the other the satisfaction that she cannot give me. Women can't do it.
They simply can't, and it is no good trying. If you try, it means
making a mess of both love and art. She is jealous? Very well. Let her
be jealous. She enjoys it, and it helps her to understand a man's
passion."

"I can't stand it when you talk in that cold-blooded way about women."

"I'm not cold-blooded," said Logan, astonished at the adjective.

"I sometimes think you are, but I am apt to think that of all English
people," replied Mendel, wondering within himself if that did not
explain Morrison. "Yes. I often wonder what you would be like if you
were in an office, wearing a bowler hat, and going to and fro by the
morning and evening train."

"Why think about the impossible?" laughed Logan. "Anyhow, I'm not
going to let you shut yourself up. I want to go to Paris, and I can't
face three weeks alone with Oliver. Twenty-one days, sixty-three
meals. No. It can't be done."

"Yes, I'll go to Paris," thought Mendel. "I will go to Paris and I
will forget."

"You must come," urged Logan. "Madame at the Pot-au-Feu has given me
the name of a hotel kept by her sister-in-law. Very cheap. Bed and
breakfast, and, of course, you feed in restaurants. . . . You want
digging out of your hole. I don't know why, but you seem to have
insisted more on being Jewish lately. It is much more important for
you to be an artist and a man. I regard you as a sacred trust. I do
really. You are the only man in England for whom I have any respect,
and I need you to keep me decent." He added: "I need you to keep me
alive, for, without you, Oliver would gobble me up in a month."

He seemed to be joking, but Mendel could not help feeling that he was
at heart serious, and he had the unpleasant sinking of disgust which
sometimes seized him when he thought of Logan and Oliver together. He
could not account for it, and the sensation gave him a sickly pleasure
which made him weaker with Logan than with anybody else. Besides,
Logan often bewildered him, and he could not tolerate his inability to
grasp ideas except through a mad rush of feeling, and he hated the
fact that while Logan's mind seemed to move steadily on, his own
crumbled to pieces just at the moment when it was on the point of
absorbing an idea.

For these reasons he consented to go to Paris. The three weeks should
consolidate or destroy a friendship which had remained for him
distressingly inchoate. Deep in his heart he hoped that it would
become definite enough and strong enough to drive out his
indeterminate love. To be in love without enjoying love was in his
eyes a fatuous condition, undignified, vague, a kind of cuckoldry.

* * * * *

Oliver was aflame with excitement over the trip to Paris. She spoke of
it with an almost religious exaltation. As usual, her emotion was
entirely uncontrolled, became a physical tremulation, and she reminded
Mendel of a wobbling blanc-mange.

The plan was to have a fortnight in Paris and a week at Boulogne, for
bathing and gambling at the Casino.

No sooner had he left London than Mendel felt his cares and anxieties
fall away from him, and he began to wish he had brought Jessie Petrie.
He proposed to wire for her from Folkestone, but Logan pointed out
that Oliver could not stand women and was jealous of them.

"She'd say Jessie was making eyes at me," he said. "And if she made
eyes at you she'd be almost as bad."

In that Mendel could sympathize with Oliver. He was himself often
suddenly, unreasonably, and violently jealous of other men over women
for whom he did not care a fig.

He set himself to be nice to Oliver, and she in her holiday mood
responded, so that on the boat and in the Paris train Logan was sunk
in a gloomy silence, and in the hotel at night, in the next room,
Mendel could hear him storming at her, refusing to have anything to do
with her, threatening to go home next day unless she promised to keep
her claws, as he said, off Kühler. She promised, and they embarked
further upon their perilous voyage in search of an unattainable land
of satiety.

* * * * *

Their hotel was near the Montparnasse station, and they discovered a
café in the Boulevard Raspail which was frequented by artists and
models, one or two of whom Mendel recognized as former habitués of the
Paris Café. They were soon drawn into the artist world, and except
that he went to the Louvre instead of to the National Gallery for
peace and refreshment, Mendel often thought he might just as well be
in London. There was the same feverish talk, the same abuse of
successful artists, the same depreciation of old masters, but there
was more body to the talk, and sometimes a Frenchman, finding speech
useless with this shy, good-looking Jew, would make himself clear with
what English he could muster and a rapid, skilful drawing. For the
most part, however, he had to rely on Logan's paraphrase, until one
day in the Boulevard St. Germain he ran into that Thompson, lamented
by Jessie Petrie, the painter of stripes and triangles.

Thompson was a little senior to Mendel at the Detmold, had hardly
spoken to him in the old days, but was now delighted to meet a
familiar London face.

"I _am_ glad!" he said. "Come and see my place. How are they all in
London--poor old Calthrop and poor old Froitzheim? I should have
killed myself if I'd stayed in London; nothing but talk and women,
with work left to find its way in where it can. Here work comes first.
I suppose they haven't even heard of Van Gogh in London?"

Mendel had to confess that he had never heard of Van Gogh.

"A Dutchman," explained Thompson, "and he cut off his ear and sent it
to Gauguin. Ever heard of Gauguin?"

"No. But a man doesn't make himself a great artist by cutting off his
ear."

"Van Gogh was a great artist before that. He killed himself: shot
himself in his bed, and the doctor found him in bed smoking a pipe. He
was quite happy, for he had done all he could."

That sounded more like it to Mendel, more like the deed of a warrior
of the spirit.

"I'll show you," said Thompson, and they went round the galleries.

Mendel's head was nearly bursting when he came out. The riotous
colour, the apparent neglect of drawing and abuse of form, the entire
absence of tone and atmosphere, shocked him. He resented the wrench
given to all his training, and he took Thompson to the Louvre to go
back to Cranach and the early Italians. Thompson would not hear of
them, and insisted on his spending over an hour with Poussin.

"I can see nothing in them. Good painting, good drawing, but dull, so
dull! The flat, papery figures mean nothing."

"They mean everything to the picture," said Thompson, "and you have no
right to go outside the picture. Poussin kept to his picture, and so
must you if you are to understand him."

"I can see all that," said Mendel, "but he is dull. I can't help it,
he bores me."

"It is pure art."

"Then I like it impure."

"You don't really. But you are all like that when you first come from
London. You think that because a thing is different it must be wrong.
Have you come over alone?"

"No. I'm with a man called Logan and his girl. He is a great painter,
or he will be one. Anyhow, he is alive and has ideas."

"Does he know about Van Gogh?"

"No; but he says the next great painter must come from England."

"Pooh! Whistler!" said Thompson in a tone of vast superiority. "Nous
sommes bien loin de ça."

"Please don't talk French," said Mendel. "I don't understand a word."

"Whistler had good ideas," continued Thompson. "It is a pity he was
not a better artist."

Mendel was beginning to feel bored. He did not understand this new
painting for painting's sake, and did not want to understand it. To
change the subject he said:--

"I nearly brought Jessie Petrie with me."

"I wish you had. She is a dear little girl, and I nearly sent for her
the other day, but I've no use for the model now. It is perfectly
futile trying to cram a living figure into a modern picture."

"I don't see why, if you can paint it."

"Really," said Thompson, "I don't see what you have come to Paris for,
if you haven't come to learn something about painting. One wouldn't
expect you to understand Picasso straight off, but anyone who has
handled paint ought to be able to grasp Van Gogh."

"He is trying for the impossible," grunted Mendel. "The important
thing in art is art. I've come to Paris to have a good time."

"Oh! very well," said Thompson. "Why didn't you say so before? I'll
show you round."

* * * * *

Mendel took Thompson round to his hotel and up to Logan's room, where,
entering without knocking, they found Logan kneeling on the floor with
Oliver in a swoon in his arms. He had opened her blouse at the neck
and unlaced her corsage.

Mendel thought Oliver looked as though she was going to die, and his
first idea was to run for the doctor.

"She'll come round," said Logan. "It's my fault. I was brutal to her.
. . ." He nodded to Thompson. "How do you do?" and he covered up
Oliver's large bosom.

She came to in a few moments, opened her eyes slowly, rolled them
round, and came back to Logan, on whom she fixed a gaze of devouring
love. She put up her arms and drew his head down and kissed his lips.

Mendel drew Thompson out into the corridor.

"She was shamming," he said.

"I don't think so," replied Thompson. "What has happened? Does he
knock her about?"

"Not that I know of. They've not been together very long. They can't
settle down."

"She's a fine woman," said Thompson.

* * * * *

They were called in again and found Oliver sitting up on the bed
eating chocolates. She greeted Thompson with a queenly gesture, and
clapped her hands when Mendel told her they were going out to see the
sights.

"I'm sick of artists," she said. "I have quite enough of them in
London. I wish to God you weren't an artist, Logan. You'd be quite a
nice man if you worked for your living."

"Don't talk rubbish," mumbled Logan, who was subdued and curiously
ashamed of himself. "If I were like that I should have a little
dried-up wife and an enormous family, and you wouldn't have a look
in."

"And a good job too!" cried Oliver, in her most provoking tone. "A
good job too! I'd find someone who had a respect for me."

"D'you find Paris a good place to work in?" Logan turned to Thompson.

"I never knew the meaning of work till I came here. Ever heard of
Rousseau?"

"Oh, yes," said Logan.

"I don't mean the writer, I mean . . ."

"I know, I know," said Logan nonchalantly. He could never admit
ignorance of anything.

"A great painter," cried Thompson eagerly. "A very great painter. I
tell you he brought Impressionism up sharp. They had overshot the
mark, you know. Manet, Monet: they had overshot the mark."

Oliver began to scream at the top of her voice.

"Shut up!" said Logan. "You'll have us turned out."

"I don't care," she replied. "I don't care. I can't stand all this
talk about painting."

"What do you want us to talk about?" said Mendel, tingling with
exasperation. "Love? Three men and one woman can't talk about love."

"Well, I didn't come to Paris to sit in a dirty bedroom talking about
pictures. I want to go out to see the streets and the shops and the
funny people."

"For God's sake take us somewhere," said Logan.

* * * * *

Thompson, having ascertained that they had plenty of money, took them
to Enghien by the river. Oliver was happy at once. She wanted to be
amused and to be looked at, and as she was bouncing and rowdy she had
her desire.

She made Logan play for her at the little horses, but, as she did not
win, she was soon bored with it. Logan was bitten and could not tear
himself away. Mendel stayed with him and she disappeared with
Thompson.

"I'm bound to win if I go on," said Logan. "There's a law of chances,
you know, and I've always been lucky at these things. . . . It is so
exciting, too."

He changed note after note into five-franc pieces, lost them all, and
at last began to win a little; won, lost, won.

Mendel dragged him away from the table, protesting:--

"Come along. I have had enough. Do come along. We haven't had a chance
to talk for days, and I hate these rooms with all the flashy, noisy
people. . . . We can come back here and find the others. Let us go and
find some fun that we can share, for this is deadly dull for me.
Besides, we don't want to be stranded without money."

"But I'm winning. My luck is in."

He rushed back to the tables and lost--twice, upon which he allowed
himself to be persuaded, and they went out into the air and sat on a
terrace by the lake. Mendel produced cigarettes and they smoked in
silence for some time. Logan looked pale and worn and was obviously
smouldering with excitement.

"How amazingly different everything looks here," he said. "In London I
always feel as though I had a thumb pressing into my brain. Everybody
seems indifferent and hostile and everything I do is incongruous. I
feel almost happy here. I should like to stay here. I told her so and
she began to cry. I knocked her down. I couldn't stand her crying any
more. I knocked her down and she fainted."

"She was shamming," thought Mendel, seeing vividly the scene in the
bedroom. "He did not hurt her. She was shamming."

"I feel a brute," said Logan, "and yet I'm glad. I'm tremendously
glad. I want to sing. I want to get drunk. I'm tremendously glad. It
has settled something. I'm her master. She was getting on my nerves.
She won't do that any more. Ha! Ha!"

"Why don't you get rid of her?" asked Mendel. "Leave her here. Come
back with me to-morrow."

"Don't be a silly child," said Logan patronizingly. "I love her. I
couldn't live without her now, not for a single day. I could no more
do without her than I could do without the clothes on my back. I tell
you she's an inspiration. If she left me I should lay down my brush
for ever. She's a religion--all the religion I've got."

"I can't imagine stopping my work for any woman," said Mendel.

"Ah! that's because you don't know what a woman can mean. You can't
know while you are young."

Mendel's nerves had been throbbing in sympathy with his friend, but
suddenly all that place was filled with a soft, clear light and a
bright music, the colour and the scent of flowers, the soft murmur of
flowing water, the whisper of the wind in leafy trees, and his heart
ached and grew big and seemed to burst into a thousand, thousand
rivulets of love, searching out every corner of his senses, cleansing
his eyes, sharpening his hearing, refining every sense, so that the
scene before him--the white tables, the white-aproned waiters, the
green trees, the soft evening sky, the softer reflection of it in the
water--was exquisite and magical and full of a mysterious power that
permeated even Logan's brutal revelation and made it worthy of beauty.
. . . And this mysterious power he knew was love, and she, the girl
for whom it had arisen from the depths, was far away in England,
thinking of him, perhaps, regretting him, perhaps, but knowing nothing
of the beauty she had denied. . . .

Mendel was astonished to find tears in his eyes, trembling on his
lashes, trickling down his cheeks.

"What a baby you are!" said Logan. "You can't have me all to
yourself."

His divination was true. Lacking its true object, Mendel's love had
concentrated upon his friend, with whom he longed to walk freely in
the enchanted world of art, to be as David and Jonathan. Indeed,
Logan's state of torment was to him as a wound got in battle, over
which he gave himself up to lamentation, so single and deep and pure
that it obscured even the impulse of his love. He longed to rid his
friend of this devouring passion that was consuming him and thrusting
in upon his energy, but because his friend called it love, he
respected it and bore with it.

"How good it is, this life out of doors!" exclaimed Logan, lolling
back in his chair.

"I don't know," replied Mendel. "I think it is too deliberate, too
organized. I prefer London streets. There is nothing in the world to
me to compare with London streets. Nature is too beautiful. A tree in
blossom, a garden full of flowers, a round hill with the shadow of the
clouds over them, move me too much. Left alone with them I should go
mad. I must have human nature if I am to live and work. I only want
nature, just as I only want God, through human nature."

"By Jove! you hit the nail on the head sometimes, my boy. That is true
for all of us. It is what I meant when I said that Oliver was a
religion to me."

"I don't mean women or individuals," protested Mendel. "I mean human
nature in the lump. It may be very poor stuff, stupid and foolish and
vulgar, but it is all we've got, and one lives in it and through it."

"That is all very well while you are young," said Logan, "but you have
to individualize it when you are older. One person becomes a point of
contact. You can't just float through humanity like an apparition."

Mendel had lost the thread of his argument, though not his confidence
in its truth.

"That is not what I meant," he said, "and I don't see how a person
could be just a point of contact."

"All I know is that Oliver is such a point of contact to me, and I
know that unless art is inspired with some such feeling as you have
described, all the technical skill and all the deft trickery in the
world won't make it more than a sop for fools or an interesting
survival of mediævalism. That is why I think you are going to be so
valuable. You have so little to unlearn. You have only to shake off
the most antiquated religion in the world and you can look at life and
human nature without prejudice, while I have constantly to be
uprooting all sorts of prejudices in favour of certain ways of living,
morally and socially."

Mendel was beginning to feel comfortable and easy, for while his mind
worked furiously he could rarely express what he thought, and Logan in
his talk often came near enough to it to afford him some relief and to
urge him on to renewed digging in the recesses of his mind. It was a
vast comfort to him to find that there were other vital thoughts
besides that of Morrison, and that for ecstasy he was not entirely
dependent upon her. Warmed up by his confidence in Logan, he resolved
to tell him about the girl and the vast change she had wrought in his
life.

"I used to think," he said, "that if I stayed among my own people I
could work my way through the poverty and the dirt and the Jewishness
of it all to art. When she came I knew that it was impossible. She had
something that I needed, something that the Jews do not know, or never
have known. It is not my poverty that denies it to me, for if the poor
Jews do not know a good thing, the rich Jews certainly do not, for the
rich Jews are rubbish who stroke the Christians with one hand and rob
them with the other. It is something that she knows almost without
knowing it herself."

Logan smiled.

"I am not a fool about her," cried Mendel. "She is not particularly
beautiful to me. There is only one line in her face that I think
beautiful, from the cheek-bone to the jaw. I am not a fool about her,
but I had almost given the Christian world up in despair. It seemed to
me so bad, so inhuman, so hollow, so full of plump, respectable
thieves. The simple thieves and bullies of my boyhood seemed to me
infinitely preferable. And I had met some of the most important people
in the Christian world: all empty and callous and lascivious. And the
unimportant people were good enough, but dull, so dull. . . . Then
comes this little girl. She is like Cranach's Eve among monkeys. She
becomes at once to me what Cranach's wife must have been to him. He
painted her as child, girl, and woman. The chattering apes matter to
me no more. The Christian world is no longer empty. It is still
lascivious and greedy, soft and ill-conditioned, puffy and stale, but
it is suddenly full of meaning, of beauty, of a joy which, because I
am a Jew, I cannot understand."

"Give it up," growled Logan, "give it up. Paint her portrait and let
her go. You are a born painter. To a painter women are either
paintable or nothing. For God's sake don't go losing yourself in
philosophy."

"It is not philosophy!" cried Mendel indignantly. "It is what I feel."

"It will probably end in a damned good picture," retorted Logan. "Why
not be content with that?"

"Because it will not answer what I want to know, and because I feel
that there is something in the Jews, the real Jews, that she does not
understand either. And she is not a fool. She has a mind. She has a
deep character. She is strong, and she can get the better of me. She
is secret and she is cruel."

Logan gave his fat chuckle.

"She is just an English girl with all the raw feeling bred out of her.
She is true to type: impulsive without being sensual, kind without
being affectionate; and she would let you or any man go to hell rather
than give up anything she has been brought up to believe in or admit
to her life anything that was strange, unfamiliar, and not good form,
like yourself. . . . Give it up, give it up. You are only taking it
seriously because you have been irresistible so far and it is the
first setback you have received."

"I will not give it up," said Mendel, setting his teeth. Then he
laughed because the lights had gone up and the scene was gay and
amusing, and he wanted to plunge into the merry crowd of Parisians and
pleasure-seekers, to move among them and to come in contact with the
women, to watch the men strutting to please them, to delight in the
procession of excited faces, to taste the flavour of humanity which is
always and everywhere the same, rich, astonishing, comforting,
satisfying in its variety.

Oliver and Thompson returned with their hands full of trinkets, toys,
and pretty paper decorations which they had bought or won at games of
chance and skill. She sat on Logan's knee and insisted on wreathing
him with paper streamers, which he removed as fast as she placed them
on his head.

"Do! do!" she cried. "Do let go for once and let us all be gay. Oh! I
do love this place, with the band playing, and the lights in the
water, and the wonderful deep blue sky. Why don't we have a sky like
that in London? Do let us come here every year for the summer.
Thompson says painters have to come to Paris if they want to be any
good."

"I've been telling her about Van Gogh," said Thompson.

"So that's what's gone to your head!" growled Logan, patting her
cheek. "He's been talking to you about painting, has he?"

"Yes. He's is a nice man, and doesn't treat me as if I was a perfect
fool."

She darted a mischievous glance at Mendel, who started under it as
though he had been stung. He was horrified at the depth of his dislike
of her, and he remembered with disgust her full, coarse bosom exposed
as she lay in her calculated swoon. . . . How good it had been while
she was gone with that fool Thompson, who suited her so perfectly,
that chattering ape, with his talk of Van Gogh and Gauguin and
"abstract art," who stood now coveting her with shining eyes and
fatuously smiling lips.

"I'm not good enough for some people," she said. "When I come into the
room there is silence."

"Oh, shut up!" said Logan. "Let's go and have dinner and get back to
Paris. I'm sick of this cardboard place, where there is nothing but
pleasure."

They had an excellent dinner, during which Oliver never stopped
chattering and Mendel never once opened his lips. His thoughts were
away in England, in his studio with his work, and in the country with
Morrison, and he struggled to bring them together in his mind. How
could Logan love Oliver and keep her apart from his work? Two such
passions must infallibly seek each other out and come to grips. They
must come together or be flung violently apart. . . . Passions were to
him as real as persons; they had individualities, needs, desires; they
were entities insisting upon their right to existence; they must
express themselves, must make their impression upon the circumambient
world.

He became critical of Logan, though he hated to be so. Logan stood to
him for adventure and freedom, independence and courage. It was
incomprehensible to him that Logan should take Oliver seriously. She
was the woman for a holiday, for a wild outburst of lawlessness, not
for the morning and the evening and the day between.

"Oh, do cheer up, Kühler! You are like a death's-head at a feast."

He looked at her with a piercing glance which silenced her. No: she
was no holiday woman. She was the woman for a drab, drudging life,
with no other colour or joy in it than her own animal warmth. She was
like Rosa, made for just such a dreary, simple, devoted fool as Issy.
What could she do with a strong passion? She could only absorb it like
a sponge, and nothing could kindle her. Just a drab; just a sponge.

Thinking so, his dislike of her grew into a hatred so passionate that
he desired to know more of her, to watch her, to beget a clear idea of
her. He went and sat by her side and teased her, while she teased him
and told him he was the prettiest boy she had ever seen.

"That night in the Tube I thought you were the prettiest boy I ever
saw, and I was quite disappointed when Logan came to speak to me
instead of you."

"I would never have taken you from the shop," he said. "I would have
taken you to my studio, and perhaps I would have painted you, but I
would have sent you back to the shop."

"I wouldn't have gone, so there!" she said. "What would you have done
then?"

"I should have turned you out."

"Oh! Would you? Filthy brute! If I'm good enough for one thing I'm
good enough for another. Do you hear that, Logan? He would have turned
me out!"

"You leave Kühler alone," said Logan. "You'll never understand him, if
you try for a thousand years."

"Turned me out?" muttered Oliver. "Heuh! I like that. He'd turn me out
and get another girl in! I'll not have any of those tricks from you,
Logan."

"You can talk about them when I begin them," he replied.

She turned from Mendel to Thompson and soon had him soft in her
snares.

"She would like to do that with me," thought Mendel, "and she hates me
because she knows she cannot."

* * * * *

They returned to Paris by bus all sleepy and a little drunk. Oliver
leaned her head on Logan's shoulder and dozed, smiling to herself,
while Thompson, sitting by her side, fingered her sleeve.

They were carried far beyond the point where they should have
descended, and finding themselves on the boulevards, they woke up to
the liveliness of the Parisian night, and Oliver refused to go home.

Thompson suggested the cabarets, and they went from one dreary vicious
hole to another until they came on one where a party of Americans were
doing in Paris as the Parisians do. They had brought on a number of
_cocottes_ from the Bal Tabarin, and were drinking, shouting, dancing.
Thompson led Oliver into the mêlée, and soon she was drinking,
shouting, dancing with the rest.

Mendel was horrified and disgusted. There was no zest in the riot. It
was a piece of deliberate, cold-blooded bestialization. He trembled
with rage, and turned to Logan, who was sitting with a sickly smile on
his face:--

"You ought not to let her," he cried--almost moaned. "If she were my
woman I would not let her. I would kill any man who laid hands on her
like that. She is not a prostitute. I would not let my woman be a
prostitute."

But Logan did not move. He sat with his sickly smile on his face. He
was drunk and could not move.

Unable to bear the scene any longer, Mendel rushed away, jumped into a
taxi, and drove back to the hotel, swearing that he would go back to
London the next day. He would write and tell Logan that he must get
rid of Oliver or no longer be his friend. She was a poisonous drab.
She would be the ruin of his friend.

An hour or two later Logan came back. He was very white, and his hair
was dank, and there was a cold sweat on his face.

"My God!" he said, "Kühler! Are you awake? I don't know where she is.
I went to sleep. I was so tired, and there was such a row with those
blasted Americans. I went to sleep and awoke to find a nigger shaking
me and the place empty. . . . Where does Thompson live? Do you know?"

"Off the Boulevard Raspail. I went there to look at his rubbishy
pictures. I think I could find the way. Are you going to kill him?"

"I want to find her," said Logan. "I must find her. It is killing me
to think of her lost in Paris. I must find her. I can't sleep without
her. I must find her."

He hardly seemed to know what he was saying.

"Come along then," said Mendel. "I think I can find where Thompson
lives."

It was not far. They walked along the deserted boulevard under the new
white, florid buildings, and turned into an impasse.

"That's it," said Mendel. "Impasse. I remember that. A tall, thin
house with a big yellow door. Here it is."

They knocked until the yellow door swung mysteriously open and then
ran upstairs to the top floor.

Thompson came blinking into the passage.

"Where's Oliver? Where's Logan's girl?"

Mendel put up his fist to hit him in the eye.

"I put her into a taxi and sent her home. The Americans took us on to
another place. They were a jolly lot. A terrific place they took us
to. There were negresses dancing and a South Seas girl who said
Gauguin brought her back. . . . Oliver's all right. I put her in a
taxi and sent her back."

"You're a liar!" shouted Logan. "She's in there."

He rushed in, while Mendel put his arms round Thompson and laid him
neatly on the floor. In a moment Logan was out again.

"You're a shocking bad painter," he said to Thompson, "but she isn't
there."

They left the house and walked slowly back to the hotel. Logan clung
to Mendel's arm, saying:--

"It's my fault. She said if ever I knocked her about she'd clear out.
Do you mind walking about with me? I couldn't go to bed. I couldn't
sleep."

All night they walked about; going back to the hotel every half hour
to see if she was there, talking of anything and everything, even
politics, to keep Logan's mind from the fixed horrible idea that had
taken possession of it. They saw the sun come out, and the workers
hurrying along the streets, and the waiters in the cafés push up the
heavy iron shutters that had only been pulled down an hour or two
before, and the market women with their baskets, and the tramcars
glide and jolt along, the shops open and the girls go chattering to
their work through the long, leisurely Parisian day.

They returned at eight and had breakfast. At half-past nine Oliver
appeared, smiling and serene.

"We did have fun last night! You missed something, I tell you."

"Where have you been?" cried Logan. "I've been looking for you all
night."

"What a fool you are! I can look after myself."

"Where have you been?"

She faced him with a bold stare and said:--

"I got home about half-past two, and I took another room, partly
because I didn't want to disturb you, and partly--you know why."

"What number was your room?"

"Forty-four."

From where they sat Mendel could see the keyboard in the concierge's
lodge. There were only forty rooms in the hotel.

"Have you had breakfast?" asked Logan, forcing himself to believe her.

"Hours ago. In bed," she replied. "I paid for it and the bed."

"Why did you do that?" he snapped.

She caught Mendel's eyes fixed on her, eager to see her trapped, and
she smiled insolently as she replied:--

"I thought it would be a good joke if I let you think I had been out
all night. But you look such a wreck that I don't think you could see
a joke. . . . What are we going to do to-day?"

"We are going home," said Logan.



BOOK THREE

THE PASSING OF YOUTH



I

EDWARD TUFNELL

A WRETCHED journey home, a miserable journey. There had been a high
wind, leaving a heavy swell, and Mendel shared the feelings of his
brother-in-law, Moscowitsch, concerning the sea. It made him ill, and
he never wished to see it again.

Oliver sat with her eyes closed while Logan held her hand and
whispered to her. The boat was crowded, for it was the first to make
the crossing for two days. Detestable people, detestable sea,
detestable evil-smelling boat! . . . How lightly they had undertaken
the trip to Paris! Only seven hours! But what hours!

Mendel's disgust endured until they reached London. This was home to
him, and never, never again would he travel. The discomfort of it was
too odious, the shock to his habits too great. In London he did at
least know what to avoid, while in Paris there was no knowing when he
might be plunged into a dreary, glittering place full of prostitutes
and Americans.

He was glad to part with Logan and Oliver. They had so much to settle
with each other that he felt he was an unnecessary third. Paris had
done violence to their relationship. They had gone there light of
heart; they had returned oppressed and entangled. . . . And in London
it was raining; but that was good, because familiar. It was good to go
out into the friendly streets and to see them shining like black
rivers, and to see the people hurrying under their dripping umbrellas
and the women with their skirts up to their knees.

He seemed to have been away a very long time, and yet Paris seemed
very far off too, an unreal memory, like a place of which he had read
or seen in photographs. He was glad when he mounted a bus and knew
that it was bearing him towards his own people.

Golda was very excited. She had had a letter from Harry, who had seen
his brother in Paris, but had been too shy to speak to him because of
his friends.

"You should have gone to see your brother," she said.

"How could I?" asked Mendel. "I did not know where he was."

"You speak Yiddish. You could have found him. He has done very well,
but he is coming home to us. He does not like to live away from his
people, and he says England is best."

And Mendel thought that England was indeed best. For him, then,
England meant his mother's kitchen, with its odd decorations from
Tottenham Court Road, its dresser crammed with gilded china and
fringed with cut green paper, its collection of his early pictures,
almost all hanging crooked, and the hard wooden chair in which Golda
sat all day long with her hands on her stomach, dreaming and brooding
of her life, which through all her hardships had been sweet because of
her beautiful child whom everybody loved and spoiled, as she herself
loved and spoiled him because he was not like other children. England
was best because it could contain that peace and that beauty, and
there was nothing in England to harm it or in envy to destroy it.

Mendel could understand his brother wanting to come back to it; for
he, too, from all his adventures, returned to its simplicity for
strength and comfort.

Moscowitsch came in with a Jewish paper. He was in a terrible state of
anger and hatred. His eyes flashed and his nostrils quivered as he
read out how a Jew in Russia had been accused of killing a Christian
boy for his blood, and how over a thousand Jews had been massacred on
the instigation of the police.

"It grows worse and worse," he said. "The Jews do not kill. It is the
Christians who lust for blood. It is the Christians who are so wicked
and dishonest that, when they must be found out, they say it is the
Jews, or that the Jews are more wicked than they. It is impossible.
But England is good to the Jews. England must send soldiers to Russia
or the Jews will be all murdered."

"Yes, it is bad in Russia," said Golda, nodding her head. "But life is
bad everywhere for good people. Only in England one is left alone."

"Well, Mr. Artist!" said Moscowitsch genially. "Made your fortune
yet?"

"No," replied Mendel; "but I have been to Paris for my holidays and I
stayed in a hotel. Three of us spent twenty pounds."

"So?" said Moscowitsch, impressed. "Have you made it up with the
Birnbaum, then?"

"No."

"That is not the way to get on, to quarrel with money."

"If he wants money," said Golda, "he can always get it. What more do
you want? There are some letters for you, Mendel."

He opened his letters, and had the satisfaction of telling Moscowitsch
that he was asked to paint a portrait for thirty pounds.

"Who is it?" asked Moscowitsch. "A lord?" He had an idea that only
lords had their portraits painted by hand.

"That's better," he said. "That's better than painting those pictures
that nobody wants. You paint what they ask you and you'll soon make
your fortune, and be able to give your mother dresses covered with
beads and tickets for the theatre and china ornaments. And you can be
thankful you don't live in Russia. They wouldn't let you be an artist
there. If you became a student they would send you off to Siberia and
you would die in the snow."

It was the first time Moscowitsch had spoken to him since the breach
with Birnbaum, and Mendel was at his ease with him again, and glad to
be with his people. He knew that Moscowitsch was greatly attached to
Golda, and had more than once urged his being taken away from his
painting and put to some useful trade.

"Oh! I shall very soon succeed," he said boastfully. "This is only a
beginning. You keep an eye on that paper of yours. You will find
something else to read besides what Russia does to the Jews. You will
see what England does for a Jew when he has talent and honesty."

"They made Disraeli a lord," said Moscowitsch.

"I shall be something much better than a lord."

"They only make painters R.A."

"I shall be much better than that," said Mendel.

"It is like old times," laughed Golda, "to hear him boasting."

Mendel opened another letter. It was an invitation to become a member
of an exhibiting club which considered itself exclusive.

"I have been invited to become a member of a club."

That settled Moscowitsch. A club to him was proof of success and
social distinction. He and his wife had made the acquaintance of a
member of the music-hall profession who had two clubs, and they
counted him a feather in their caps. To have a member of a club in the
family was almost overwhelming, and he forgot the sorrows of the Jews
in Russia.

* * * * *

The portrait commission was from Edward Tufnell, who had lately
married and had been adopted as a candidate for Parliament for a
northern constituency. Good earnest soul that he was, he regarded
himself as responsible for launching Mendel upon the world, and once
he had assumed a responsibility he never forgot it. Nothing made any
difference to him. He had heard tales of the boy's wildness, but he
accepted responsibility for that too, read up the histories of men of
genius for precedent, and acknowledged the inevitability of the flying
of sparks from the collision of a strong individuality and the habits
of the world.

He had always intended to give his protégé a lift, and had tried in
vain to badger his father and his uncle, partners in a huge woollen
manufactory, into having their portraits painted. They preferred to
sink their money in men with reputations. He did not see how Mendel
could acquire a reputation except by giving him work to do. On the
other hand, he shrank from what he considered the vanity of having his
own portrait painted, but his charmingly pretty wife gave him the
opportunity he desired.

Therefore he invited Mendel to his house in the dales to stay until
the picture was finished.

A day or two later and Mendel was in the train, being whirled North
through the dull, rolling Midlands and the black, smirched valleys of
the West Riding. The gloomy sky filled him with terror. At first he
thought there was going to be a storm, but there seemed to be no life
in the sky, and its strangeness oppressed him. The people in the train
spoke a language which seemed almost as foreign as French, and when
the train darted through forests of smoking chimney-stacks and he
looked down into the grimy, trough-like streets, he was dismayed to
think that here were depths of misery compared with which the East End
was as a holiday ground. This, too, was England, and he had said that
England was best. He remembered Jews in the East End who had fled from
the North and said they would rather go back to Russia than return to
the tailoring shops and the boot factories. So this vile, busy
blackness was the North!

For some mysterious reason it made him think of Logan and Oliver, and
the thought of them filled him with an added uneasiness. He had not
thought of them once since the trip to Paris, and now he felt bound to
them, and that they were a weight upon him. They stood out vividly
against the murky, lifeless sky. He could see them standing hand in
hand, smiling a little foolishly, and a physical tremor shot through
him as he thought of the contact of their two hands, thrilling
together, pressing together, to tell of their terrible need of each
other. . . . This man and this woman. Mendel was haunted by the images
of all the couples he knew, and they passed before him like a shadowy
procession of the damned, all hand in hand, across the lifeless sky,
all shadowy except Logan and Oliver, and then two others, his father
and his mother; but they were not hand in hand. They were seated side
by side, like two statues, and behind them the lifeless sky broke and
opened to show the infinite blue space beyond the clouds.

He had changed at the darkest of the chimneyed towns, and the shabby
local train went grinding and puffing through a tunnel into a vast
green valley. At the first station he saw Edward Tufnell on the
platform. He had changed a good deal, and was no longer the lanky,
earnest youth of the Settlement, but his eyes still had their steady,
serene expression and their sunny, beautiful smile.

He flung up his hand as he saw Mendel, smiled, and came fussily, as
though he were meeting the Prime Minister himself. He insisted on
carrying Mendel's bag and canvases and made him feel small and young
again, as he used to when he went trotting along by Edward's side on
his way to the French class.

"It's a long journey," said Edward. "You must be tired."

"Oh no! I don't mind any journey as long as I don't have to cross the
sea."

"It is only two miles now."

They climbed into a dogcart and drove, for the most part at a walk, up
a long, winding road that crept like a worm along the flanks of a huge
hill.

"Glorious country!" said Edward. "I love it. The South doesn't seem to
me to be country at all--just a huge park. One is afraid to walk on
the grass. But here there is room and freedom. One understands why the
North is Liberal."

"It is too big for me," replied Mendel. "But then I can't get used to
the country. I'm not myself in it. I feel in it as though I were on
the edge of the world and in danger of falling off. Yes. The country
seems dangerous to me, and I could never walk along a road at night."

"How odd that is!" laughed Edward. "If I am ever afraid it is in the
town. The vast masses of people do really terrify me sometimes, when I
think of governing them all."

"They can look after themselves," said Mendel simply.

Over the shoulder of the hill they came on a grey stone house with a
walled garden. Edward turned in at the gate, flicked his horse into a
trot up the steep drive, and drew up by the front door, in which was
standing a dainty little lady in a mauve cotton gown and a wide
Leghorn straw hat.

"Here he is, my dear!" said Edward. "My wife, Kühler."

"I'm so glad you could come," said the little lady. "My husband has
told me so much about you."

"Not half what he could tell if he only knew," thought Mendel.

"I'm afraid it is a very long way for you to come," she said, leading
him into the house while Edward drove round to the stables. "It is
very good of you. We are very quiet here, but you can do just as you
like, and I shall always be ready for you when you want me."

She had a very charming voice that seemed to bubble with happiness,
and she had the air of being surprised at herself for being so happy.
The house was pervaded with her atmosphere, fragrant and good, and
every corner seemed to be full of surprise, every piece of furniture
looked astonished at finding itself in its place--so perfectly in its
place. This fragrant perfection was the more amazing as the outside of
the house was more than a little grim, and the hill behind it was dark
and ominous, while several of the trees were blasted and chapped with
the wind.

Mendel had never seen such a house, and when Edward took him up to his
room he almost wept with delight at the comfort and sweetness of it
all. There was a fire burning in the grate, by the side of which was a
huge easy chair. Flowered chintz curtains were drawn across the
windows, and the same gay chintz covered the bed. On the
wash-hand-stand was a shining brass can of hot water. There were books
by the bedside, the carpet was of a thick pile, and the furniture was
old and exquisite. . . . He was filled with delight and gratitude.

"Yes," he thought, "England is best! Comfortable England."

And when Edward showed him the big tiled bathroom he had a shiver of
dismay, and thought what a dirty, uncouth fellow he was to come among
these exquisite people.

* * * * *

Mary Tufnell put him at his ease at once and encouraged him to talk
about himself. He was frank and gay and amusing, and told her about
his adventures and many of his troubles, and even ventured once or
twice upon scabrous details.

"He is a darling," she said to Edward. "But how he must have suffered.
He is such a boy, but sometimes he seems to me the oldest person I
have ever met."

"You must remember that he is a Jew," said Edward.

"He doesn't let you forget it," replied she.

* * * * *

The portrait was begun the next day. Mendel took a business-like view
of his visit. He was there to paint and to make thirty pounds. Every
moment that his hostess could spare he seized upon. He painted her in
her mauve cotton and Leghorn hat and would not talk while he worked.

When the light was gone he was ready for any entertainment they might
propose. He did not find either of them particularly interesting, and
their unfailing kindness wearied him not a little. They were so
invariably good in every thought, word, and deed. It seemed impossible
for them to fail. There was no combination of circumstances which they
could not surmount with their smiling patience. . . . He thought of
them as two people walking along on either side of a road, smiling
across it at each other. Nothing joined them. They had never met.
There had been no collision. He had overtaken her on the road and had
taken her step, her pace. . . . They had just that air. Dear Edward
had fallen in with her by the wayside, and she had smiled at him and
he was content and held for life. To their mutual grave astonishment
she would have children, and her smile would become a little sad, and
with the children she would be an ideal to Edward, like the little
Italian Madonnas of whom he had so many photographs all over the
house. And between them on the road would march the brave procession
of life--kings and beggars, priests and prostitutes, artists and
peasants, chariots, and strange engines of peace and war; but they
would see nothing of it: they would see only each other, and they
would smile and go smiling to the grave.

Mendel was at his ease with them and very happy, but suddenly out of
nowhere there would arise, as it were, a great stench that pricked his
nostrils and set him longing for London. And he would think of Logan
and Oliver and ache to be with them, so that he knew that he was bound
to them in the flesh. They were embarked upon a great adventure in
which he must be with them to the end, for Logan was his friend, with
whom he must share even the deepest bitterness. With Edward he could
share nothing at all, for Edward was absurdly, incredibly innocent,
content to smile by the wayside.

He wrote to Logan and Oliver and told them how he was longing to be
with them, and how the country filled him with childish fears, and how
Paris seemed a thousand miles away and its adventures a thousand years
ago. And he was hurt because they did not at once reply.

He received two letters one morning. Logan wrote telling him he ought
not to waste his time over portraits, and that he must come back to
London soon, because the autumn was to see their triumph: nothing
about himself, nothing about Oliver. Mendel was disappointed: nobody
ever really answered his letters, into which he flung all his feeling.

His other letter was from Morrison. His first letter from her. He knew
her hand, though he had never seen it before--round, big, simple. He
kept her letter until his day's work was done, and then he went into
the garden to read it. There was an arbour at the end of a mossy walk
which led to a crag above a little waterfall. Out of the crag grew a
mountain ash, brilliant in berry. This was the most beautiful spot in
the garden, and so he chose it for reading the letter.

"I want you to forgive me for being so foolish. I want to try again. I
hate being beaten, and I think it was only my stupidity that beat me.
I have been thinking of you all the time, and I have been troubled
about you. What people said had nothing at all to do with it. I admire
you more than I can say, and I have been very foolish.

"It has been a lovely summer. I have been working hard and feel
hopeless about it. Please don't ask to see my work. While I am at it I
am wondering all the time what you are doing.

"I am to be allowed to come back to London in October. There is no
reason why you should not write to me."

She was there with him, by his side, under the glowing rowan-tree,
gazing down at the little white waterfall dashing so merrily down into
the pebbled beck. She was there with him, and his blood sang in his
veins and his mind began to work, pounding along as it had not done
these many weeks. . . . Weeks? Years--more than a lifetime.

He went back to his picture and thought it very, very bad. Edward and
his wife came in and looked at it dubiously.

"Of course," said Edward, "it is a very jolly picture, but I don't
think you have caught all her charm."

"But the painting of the hat is wonderful," said Mary.

"What do I care?" thought Mendel. "It is you--you as you are, smiling,
eternally smiling over your little clean, comfortable happiness, three
parts of which you have bought, with your servants and your flowers
and your bathroom."

In a day or two he was being whirled back to London, shouting every
now and then from sheer exuberance--thirty pounds in his pocket,
October to look forward to: October, when London shook off its summer
listlessness; October, when She would return; and until October he
would run with his eyes on the trail of the burning, creeping passion
that bound him to Logan and Oliver.



II

THE CAMPAIGN OPENS

HE reached London in the afternoon, and as soon as it was evening went
to Camden Town to find Logan. Only Oliver was in. She was sitting in
the window smoking. There had been a tea-party, and the floor was
littered with cups, plates of bread and butter and cakes, fragments of
biscuit, some of which had been trodden on.

Mendel surveyed this litter ruefully, and he said:--

"Why don't you wash up?"

"Logan said he would. I washed up after breakfast. I'm not a servant,
and he keeps on promising to have someone in to help."

"Will you wash up if I help you?"

"No, thanks. Logan's got to do it."

"Who has been to tea?"

"Oh! A funny lot. Some of Logan's fools who think he is a great man."

"He is a great man," said Mendel.

"Heuh! You try living with him. What's the good of being a great man
if you don't make any money? It's all very well for Calthrop to live
like a pig. He makes money and can do what he likes."

"If you don't like it you can always clear out."

"Where to? Eh? To go the round of the studios and oblige people like
you? Not much! It isn't as if I was married to him. I can't make him
keep me. Besides, he wouldn't let me go. If I went he would run after
me. I suppose you hadn't thought of that, Mr. Kühler. You don't know
what it is to care for anybody. I'd like to see some one play you and
play you, and then turn you down. That would teach you a lesson, that
would."

"What's the matter with you?"

"I'm not going to stand it any longer," she said. "I'm not going to be
put on one side like dirt while you go on with your conceited talk.
You're both so conceited you don't know how to hold yourselves. I'm a
woman, and I stand for something in the world. A woman is more
important than the biggest picture that was ever painted."

"It depends upon the woman."

"All right, then. _I'm_ more important. You talk about Logan keeping
me. He can consider himself damned lucky I stay with him."

"Oh! you're both in luck," snapped Mendel, and he sat down and refused
to say another word.

Oliver began to whistle and then to hum. She fidgeted in her chair.
She thought she had come off rather well in the sparring match. She
had been dreading Mendel's return, for since the Paris adventure she
had been asserting herself, as she called it, beating Logan down,
bewildering him with her extraordinary sweetness and cajolery and
sudden outbursts of fury. Both had agreed to bury the memory of the
last night in Paris, but the thoughts of both were centred upon it.
She rejoiced that she had served him out, but she had been stirred to
a degree that alarmed her. Her former condition of lazy sensual
security had been broken, and she dreaded Logan's jealousy. She knew
that she was not his equal in force, but she set herself to overcome
him with cunning. His force would spend itself. She knew that. She
must then bind him fast with tricks and lures, rouse the curiosity of
his senses and keep it unsatisfied.

She had succeeded wonderfully. Logan crumbled and turned soft and
sugary under her arts, and only one impulse in him resisted her--his
love for Mendel; and through that love his passion for art. Therefore
she dreaded and hated Mendel's return.

Presently she ceased to hum. She thought suddenly that perhaps it had
been a mistake to meet Mendel with hostility.

"I say, Kühler, do give us one of your cigarettes. These are awful
muck."

He threw his cigarette-case over to her.

"Did you have a good time up North?"

"Yes."

"I come from there, you know. Logan was furious with you for going. He
is really very fond of you, you know."

"I don't need you to tell me that."

"He's very excited just now. He keeps talking about the artistic
revolution and the twentieth century, and all that, you know. He has
been reading a book called 'John Christopher,' and keeps on reading it
aloud until I'm sick of it. I believe he thinks he is like
Christopher, though I'm sure he's not, because Christopher could never
see a joke. It is all about women, one after another, just left
anyhow. It doesn't sound like a story to me at all."

"It sounds true," said Mendel, not paying much attention to what she
said.

To his intense relief Logan came in with a frame under his arm.

"Hullo!" he said. "Got back? How did you like the swells?"

"They were good people," replied Mendel, "and wonderfully peaceful. I
don't think I appreciated it enough while I was there, but it seems
very clear and beautiful to me now."

"Portrait any good?"

"No."

Logan put down his frame and without a word to Oliver proceeded to
wash up the tea-things. She stayed in her chair in the window and
hummed.

To Mendel his friend seemed altered. He had lost his good-humour and
something of his happy recklessness, and he was more concentrated and
full of a wary self-consciousness.

He came out of the bedroom when the washing up was done and flung
himself on the divan, stretched himself out, and said:--

"I'm tired; done up. Lord! What fools there are in the world! No more
portraits for you, my boy; at least, not this side of thirty. Ten
years good solid work ahead of you."

He laughed.

"I told Cluny he must hurry up or you would slide off into
portrait-painting. Dealers hate the mere sound of the word. He is
going to hurry up. I've played you for all I am worth, and Cluny is in
my pocket. Oh! I'm a man of destiny, I am."

A snort and a giggle came from Oliver. Logan sat up.

"Leave the room!" he said.

"Shan't."

"Leave the room. I want to talk to Kühler."

"Talk away then. I shan't listen."

Logan walked over to her, seized her by the arms, and pushed her into
the bedroom and locked the door. It was done very quickly and
dexterously, as though it were a practised manoeuvre.

"I'm finding out how to treat her," he said. "Quiet firmness does the
trick."

He met Mendel's eyes fixed on him in horrified inquiry and turned
sharply away.

"It isn't as bad as it looks," he said. "The fact is, women aren't fit
for liberty and an artist ought to have nothing to do with them. But
what can a man do? . . . What were we talking about?"

"Cluny."

"Oh yes! He wants the exhibition to be the first fortnight in
November. Can you be ready by then? It must be a turning-point in art,
the beginning of big things. I know myself enough to realize that it
is doubtful if I shall ever be a great creative artist, but I shall be
the Napoleon of the new movement--the soldier and the organizer of the
revolution in art. And it won't be confined to art; it will spread
through everything. Art will be the central international republic
from which the commonwealths which will take the place of the present
vulgar capitalistic nations will be inspired. What do you think of
that for an idea?"

"Stick to art," said Mendel. "I know nothing about the rest."

"Do you remember my saying that the music-hall was all that was left
of old England? I did not know how true it was. England has become one
vast music-hall, with everybody with any talent or brains scrambling
to top the bill. It runs through everything--art, politics, the press,
literature, social reform, women's suffrage, local government; and the
people who top the bill can't be dislodged, just like the poor old
crocks on the halls, who come on and give the same show they were
giving twenty years ago, and get applause instead of rotten eggs
because the British public is so rotten with sentiment and so stupid
that it can't tell when a man has lost his talent. Please one
generation in England and its grandchildren will applaud you, though
everything about you is changed except your name. The result is, of
course, that no talent is ever properly developed. A man reaches the
point where he can please enough people to make a living, and he
sticks there. Now, I ask you, is that a state of things which a
self-respecting artist can accept?"

"No," said Mendel. "No."

"Well. It has to be altered. And who is to alter it if not the
painters, who are less in contact with the general public than any
other artists? Painters had a comfortable time last century, living on
the North-country municipal councils, but that is all over and we are
reduced to poops like Tysoe. There are any number of them, if one only
took the trouble to dig them up, but they're no good. I've lived on
them for the last ten years, and they're no good. You might as well
squeeze your paints into the sink and turn on the tap for all the
flicker of appreciation you get out of them. Then there are the snobs,
the semi-demimondaines of the political set; but they are a seedy lot,
with the minds and the interests of chorus-girls. You might whip up a
little excitement at Oxford and Cambridge, but it would only vanish as
soon as the young idiots came in contact with London and fell in love.
. . . No. Behind the scenes of the music-hall is no good. We must make
a direct onslaught on the general public. They must be taught that
there is such a thing as art and that there are men devoted to the
disinterested development of their talents--men who have no desire to
top the bill or to make five hundred a week; men who recognize that
art is European, universal, the invisible fabric in which human life
is contained, and are content, like simple workmen, to keep it in
repair."

"I don't know," said Mendel, "if my brother-in-law Moscowitsch is
typical, but he regards art which does not make money as a waste of
time."

"Oh! He is a Jew and uneducated. That's where Tolstoi went so wrong.
He confused the simplicity of art with the simplicity of the peasant,
the dignity of the unsophisticated with the dignity that is achieved
through sophistication. It may seem absurd to talk of bringing about
anything so big through little Cluny, but it is not only possible, it
is inevitable. The staleness of London cannot go on, and Paris seemed
just the same to me. Stagnation is intolerable. There must come a
movement towards freedom and a grander gesture, and the only free
people are the painters. They are the only people whose work has not
become servile and vulgarized. Through them lies the natural outlet.
. . . Oh! I have been thinking and thinking, and I thank God we met
before you had been spoiled by success or I had been ruined by my
rotten swindling life--though that has had its advantages too, and I
can meet the dealers on their own ground, and if necessary advertise
as impudently as any of the music-hall artists."

Oliver began to hammer on the door. He went and unlocked it and let
her in.

"You can talk as much as you like now," he said. "I've said my say."

"I heard you," she replied, "talking to Kühler as if he was a crowd in
Hyde Park."

Mendel was lost in thought. He was baffled by this association of art
with things like politics and music-halls, which he had always
accepted as part of the world's constitution but essentially
unimportant. He had no organized mental life. His ideas came direct
from his instincts to his mind, and were either used for immediate
purposes or dropped back again to return when wanted. However, he
recognized the passionate nervous energy that made Logan's words full
and round, and he was glad to have him so accessible and so eager and
purposeful. On the whole, it did not matter to him why Logan thought
his work so important. No one else thought it so, and certainly no one
else had taken so much trouble to help it to find recognition. Logan
seemed to promise him public fame, and that would delight and reassure
his father and mother more than anything else. They treasured every
mention of his name in the newspapers, pasted the cuttings in a book,
and produced it for every visitor to the house.

Struggling for ideas with which to match Logan's, he became
instinctively aware that his friend's enthusiasm was deliberate, not
in itself faked, but artificially heated. Behind it lay a deeper
passion, from which he was endeavouring to divert the energy it
claimed.

Sitting between Logan and Oliver, Mendel could almost intercept the
current of feeling that ran between them. It offended him as an
indecency that they should have so little control over themselves as
to reveal their condition of mutual obsession. . . . It reminded him
of his impression of the police-court, where the secret sores of
society were exposed nakedly, and queer, helpless, shameless,
unrestrained creatures were dealt with almost like parcels in a shop.
And again he had the sensation of being bound to them, of being
confined with them in that little room, of a dead pressure being upon
him, until he must scream or go mad.

He looked at them. Did they not feel it too? Logan was lying back with
his hands beneath his head and his lips pressed together and a scowl
on his face, looking as though his thoughts and his destiny were
almost, but, of course, not quite too much for him. Oliver was looking
out of the window with her hands on her hips, humming. She laughed and
said:--

"I'd sooner live with an undertaker than an artist. He would be up to
a bit of fun sometimes, and he'd do his work without making such a
fuss about it."

"There's an undertaker at the corner of the next street. You'd better
ask him to take you on."

"As a corpse?" asked Mendel, exploding and spluttering at what seemed
to him a very good joke. The others turned and looked at him solemnly,
but neither of them laughed, and gradually his amusement subsided and
he said lamely:--

"I thought it was very funny."

"Oh! for goodness' sake let's go and have something to eat," said
Oliver. "You're turning the place into a tomb with your silence. One'd
think you were going to be crowned King of England instead of just
holding a potty little exhibition."

"He is going to be crowned King of Artists," said Mendel, making
another attempt at a joke.

"By God!" said Logan, "they'd kill me if they knew what I was like
inside. Do you ever feel like that, Kühler, that all the birds in the
cage would peck you to death for having got outside it? I do. I never
see a policeman without feeling he is going to arrest me."

"I used to feel like that sometimes," replied Mendel, "until I was
arrested and realized that policemen are just people like anybody
else. The man who arrested me was a very nice man."

"Oh! I'm sick of your feelings," cried Oliver, "and I want my dinner."

"All right," said Logan, reaching for his hat; "we'll go to the
Pot-au-Feu and afterwards to the Paris Café and fish for critics. I
shall nobble one or two swells through Tysoe. We'll pick up the more
crapulous and lecherous at the café, and Oliver shall be the bait. So
look your prettiest, my dear. . . . Let's have a look at you."

He lit the gas and made her stand beneath it.

"You'll do," he said, patting her cheek. "Come along."

He put his arm through hers. She gave a wriggle of pleasure and
pressed close to him.

Mendel followed them downstairs with an omen at his heart. He felt
sure that something violent would happen.

* * * * *

But nothing violent did happen. The evening was extraordinarily
light-hearted and pleasant. Logan was his old self again, cracking
jokes, mimicking people almost to their faces, giving absurd
descriptions of his interviews with dealers and buyers, and concocting
a burlesque history of his life. Mendel had never laughed so much
since he was at the Detmold. His sides ached, and he was hard put to
it to keep his countenance when at the café Logan caught two critics
and told them that they must make no mistake this time: their
reputations were at stake, nay, the reputation of art criticism was at
the cross-roads, and art was on the threshold of its greatest period,
and criticism should be its herald, not its camp-follower.

"You fellows," said Logan, "use your brains, you are articulate. We
are apt to get lost in paint, in coloured dreams of to-morrow and the
spaces of the night. We lose touch with the world, with life. We are
dependent on you--even the greatest genius is dependent on you. You
are the real patrons of art. The herd follows you. Criticism must not
shirk its duty. The kind of thing that happened with Manet, with
Whistler, ought not to happen again."

The two critics were unused to such treatment from painters. Oliver
used her eyes upon them, detached one of them into a flirtation and
left the other to Logan's mercies. Logan's blood was up. Here was a
game he dearly loved, talking, bullying, hypnotizing another man out
of his individuality. He invented monstrously, outrageously--concocted
a whole new technique of painting, the discovery of which he ascribed
to Mendel's genius, and ended up by saying that painting should be to
England what music had been to Germany, a national and at the same
time a universal art.

The critic had drunk enough to take it all seriously, and he promised
to call and see the work of both painters. His colleague, on the other
hand, made arrangements to take Oliver out to tea and won her promise
to come and see him at his flat.

"That's all right," said Logan, as they left the café at closing time.
"They will remember our names. They will forget how they came to know
them and they will write about us."



III

SUCCESS

IT was all very well for Logan to talk about modern England being a
music-hall, but his methods were almost identical with those of the
publicists whom he decried. The greater part of his energy went to
find a market for his wares, leaving very little for the production of
the wares themselves. Because he was excited and busy and full of
enthusiasm, he took it for granted that he was in a vigorous condition
and that his vision of the future of art would be expressed in art. He
talked volubly of what he was doing and what he intended to do, even
while he worked, and his nerves were so overwrought that he contracted
a horror of being alone. Though Oliver jeered at him as he worked he
would not let her go out, and when once or twice she insisted, he
could not work, and went round to see Mendel and prevented his working
either.

Mendel knew nothing of markets and dealers and the relation of art to
the world and its habits and institutions. He was carried off his feet
by his friend's torrential energy, believed what he said, wore his
thoughts as he would have worn his hat, and lived entirely for the
exhibition which was to do such wonders for him. Twelve exhibits were
required of him. He would have had forty-eight ready if he had been
asked for them. When he missed the delight and the pure joy he had had
in working, he told himself that these emotions were childish and
unworthy of a man, and a nuisance, because they would have prevented
him from knowing clearly what he wanted to do. He dashed at his canvas
with a fair imitation of Logan's manner, slung the paint on to it with
bold strokes, saying to himself: "There! That will astonish them! That
will make them see what painting is!"

And every now and then he would remember that he was in love. He must
paint love as it had never been painted before.

For his subject he chose Ruth in the cornfield, but very soon tired of
painting ears of corn, so he left it looking like a square yellow
block, and painted it up until it resembled a slice of Dutch cheese.
Only when he came to Ruth's face and tried to make it express all the
love with which his heart was overflowing did he paint with the old
fastidious care, but even that could not keep him for long, and he
returned to his corn, the shape of which had begun to fascinate him,
and he wanted somehow to get it into relation with the hill on which
it was set. But he could do nothing with it, and had to go back to
Ruth and love.

The effect was certainly startling and novel, and Logan was
enthusiastic.

"That's it," he said. "The nearest approach to modern art is the
poster, which is not art, of course, because it is not designed by
artists. But it does convey something to the modern mind, it does jog
it out of its routine and habitual rut. Now, your picture wouldn't do
for a poster. It is too good, but it has the same kind of effect.
Stop! Look! Listen! Wake up, and see that there are beautiful women in
the world and blue skies, and love radiant over all! This woman has
nothing to do with what you felt for your wife when you proposed to
her, or with what the parson said when the baby died: she is the woman
the dream of whom lives always in your heart, although you have long
forgotten it. She is the beauty you have passed by for the sake of
peace and quiet and a balance at your bank."

"Do you think it is a good picture?" asked Mendel.

"I think it is a good beginning. Two or three more like that and there
will be a sensation. There will have to be policemen to regulate the
crowd."

Mendel caught his mood of driving excitement and really was convinced
that he had broken through to a style of his own, and to the beginning
of something that might be called modern art.

He was a little dashed when, after Logan had gone, he fetched his
mother over to see it, and all she could find to say was:--

"You used not to paint like that."

"No, of course not," he said impatiently. "The old way was limited,
too limited. It was all very well for painting the life down here,
just what I saw in front of me. This picture is for an exhibition, all
by myself with one other man."

"Logan?" asked Golda dubiously.

"Yes. It is a great honour to give a private exhibition like that at
my age. It is most unusual. This is the beginning of a new style. I'm
beginning a new life."

"You are not going away?" said Golda in a sudden panic that he was to
be snatched away from her.

"I should never go away until you gave your permission," he said. "I
am not so very different from Harry that I want to go away and leave
my people."

"I never know what will come of that painting of yours."

"Success!" he said jestingly. "And fame and money, and beautiful
ladies in furs and diamonds, and carriages and motor-cars, and fine
clothes and rings on everybody's fingers."

"I would rather have you seated quietly in my kitchen than all the
gold of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," said Golda.

"Then please like my picture."

"I don't like it."

"Then _say_ you like it."

"I don't like it."

"I shall wipe it out then."

"Your new friends will like it."

"_I_ like it," he said. "I don't think it is a very good picture, but
it means something to me."

And he longed for Morrison to come and see it, for it was the first
picture that had directly to do with her. The portrait of her was
hardly more than a drawing. What he called an "art student" might have
done it, but this Ruth, he felt, was the beginning of his work as an
artist, and he thought fantastically that when Morrison saw it she
would see that he was to be treated with respect and would fall in by
his side, and they would live happily, or at least solidly, ever
after.

"Solid" was his great word, and he used it in many senses. It conveyed
to his mind the quality of which he could most thoroughly approve. If
a thing, or a person, or an action, or an emotion were what he called
"solid," then it was a matter of indifference to him whether it was in
the ordinary sense good or bad. He was perfectly convinced that if
Morrison could only be brought to reason, then his life would solidify
and he would be able to go on working in peace.

Meanwhile he was anything but solid. His work, his life, his ideas,
his ambition had all melted under Logan's warm touch and were pouring
towards the crucial exhibition. Mendel looked forward to it
feverishly, because it was to put an end to his present condition, in
which he was like a wax candle, luminous, but fast sinking into
nothingness. If only he could reach the exhibition in time, the wind
of fame would blow out the flame that was reducing him and he would be
able to start afresh . . . But all the time as he worked words of
Logan's rolled in his mind, and had no meaning whatever, except that
they made him think of music-halls and motor-buses and women's legs in
tights and newspapers and electric sky-signs spelling out words letter
by letter. Out of this hotch-potch pictures, works of art, were to
emerge. They were to take their place in it and, according to Logan,
reduce it to order. But how was it possible? . . . In the quiet,
ordered, patriarchal world of the Jews a rare nature might arise, but
in that extraordinary confusion nothing rare could survive. Beauty
could never compete on equal terms with women's legs in tights and
electric sky-signs; it could never produce an impression on minds
obsessed and crammed to overflowing with the multitudinous excitements
of the metropolis.

Mendel was convinced that Logan was right, that beauty must emerge to
establish authority, and he thought of himself as engaged in a combat
with a huge, terrible monster. Every stroke of his brush was a wound
upon its flanks and an abomination the less. Yet he loved all the
things against which he was fighting, because they made the world gay
and stimulating and wonderful. He could see no reason why he should
change the world. It was full enough of change already. Why, in his
own time, the electric railways and the motor-buses had brought an
amazing transformation in the life of the East End. No one now worked
for such little wages as his father had done at the stick-making, and
the life of the streets had lost its terrors and dangers. The young
men had better things to do than to fight each other or to pelt old
Jews with mud, and there was no reason to suppose that such changes
would stop where they were.

However, he had Logan's word for it, and Logan had given art a new
importance in his eyes. He could not think it out himself without
getting hopelessly confused, and there was nothing for it but to go on
with his work.

Other relief he had none. He had written three ardent letters to
Morrison, telling her, absolutely without restraint, of his love and
his need for her, and she had not replied. He was too much hurt to
write again, and as he worked he began to hate love, being in love,
and the idea of it. He persuaded himself that it was a weakness, and
he had ample reason for thinking so, when he compared his loose
condition with his old clear singleness of purpose. What chiefly
exasperated him in this indefinite unsuccessful love of his was that
it exposed him to the passion, every day growing more furious, between
Logan and Oliver. It made his own emotions seem fantastic, with the
most vital current of his being pouring out in a direction far removed
from the rest of his life, apparently ignoring the solid virtues of
his Jewish surroundings and the elated vigour of his career among the
artists.

"It will not do!" he told himself. "I will not have it! What is this
love? Just nonsense invented by people who are afraid of their
passions. A lady indeed? _Is_ she? A lady is only a woman dressed up.
She must learn that she is a woman, or I will have nothing to do with
her."

And sometimes he could persuade himself that he had driven Morrison
from his thoughts. He finished the portrait of her from memory and was
convinced that it was the end of her. It was a good picture and pretty
enough to find a buyer, and there it ended. He had got what he wanted
of her and could pluck her out of his thoughts.

Logan said it was a very fine picture, a real piece of creation.

"And if that doesn't make them see how damned awful their Public
School system is in its effect on women, I'll eat my hat. You've had
your revenge, my boy. You have shown her up. Why don't you call it
_The Foolish Virgin_? Of all the mischievous twaddle that is talked in
this mischievous twaddling country the notion of love is the worst.
You can't love a woman unless you live with her, and a woman is
incapable of loving a man unless he lives with her. By Jove! We'll
hang it and my portrait of Oliver side by side in the exhibition, and
I'll call mine _The Woman who Did._"

"I won't have them side by side," said Mendel. "I want our pictures
kept separate. I don't want it said that we are working together."

"But we _are_ working together."

"Yes. But along our own lines. We're only together really in our
independence. You said yourself that we didn't want to found a
school."

"That's true," replied Logan, "but I don't see why we shouldn't have
our little joke."

"I don't joke with art," said Mendel grimly, and that settled the
matter.

It was the first time he had set his will against his friend's, and he
was surprised to find how soft Logan was. Surely, then, it was he who
was the leader, he who was blazing the new trail for art. . . . He had
to bow to the fact that Logan had a programme while he had none.
However, having once asserted his will, he became critical, and was
not again the docile little disciple he had been.

Logan wanted to draw up a manifesto for the catalogue, to enunciate
the first principles of modern art, namely, that a picture must have
(_a_) not merely a subject, but a conception based on but not bounded
by its subject; (_b_) form, meaning the form dictated by the logic of
the conception, which must of necessity be different from the logic
dictated by the subject, which would lead either to the preconceptions
and prejudices of the schools or to irrelevant and non-pictorial
considerations. All this was set out at some length, and appended were
a number of maxims, such as:--

"In art the important thing is art.

"Abstraction precedes selection.

"Art exists to keep in circulation those spiritual forces, such as
æsthetic emotion, which are denied in ordinary human communications.

"Photography has released art from its ancient burden of
representation," etc., etc.

With the spirit of this manifesto Mendel was in agreement, though he
could make but little of its letter. He refused to agree to it because
so much talk seemed to him unnecessary.

"If we can say what we mean to say in paint, then we need not talk. If
we cannot say it in paint, then we have no right to talk."

"You'd soon bring the world to a standstill," said Logan, "if you
limited talk to the people who have a right to it. It is just those
people who never open their mouths. I think it is criminal of them,
just out of shyness and disgust, to give the buffoons and knaves an
open field."

"All the same," grunted Mendel, "I am not going to agree to the
manifesto. People will read it and laugh at it, and never look at the
pictures. You seem to think of everything but them. I wonder you don't
set up as a dealer."

"You're overworking," said Logan, "that's what you are doing. And
directly the exhibition is open I shall pack you off to Brighton."

* * * * *

Already a week before the opening they began to feel that the eyes of
London were upon them. They crept about the streets half-shamefacedly
like conspirators, relaxed and wary, waiting for the moment when their
triumph should send their shoulders back and their heads up, and they
would march together through a London which owed its salvation to
them. Not since his portrait had appeared in the Yiddish paper had
Mendel been so defiant and so morosely arrogant.

He was ill with excitement and could not do a stroke of work. Every
minute of the day he spent with Logan and Oliver, to whom Tysoe was
often added. He dined with them at the Pot-au-Feu, took them all out
to lunch and tea at places like Richmond and Kew, had them to his
house, and was squeezed by the approaching success to buy Logan's two
largest pictures before the public could have access to them.

"They are masterpieces!" he cried, swinging his long hands, "absolute
masterpieces! You don't know how much good it does me to be with you
two. Absolutely sincere, you are! That's what I like about you.
Sincere! One looks for sincerity in vain everywhere else. Sincerity
has vanished from the theatre, the novel, music, poetry. I suppose it
is democracy--letting the public in behind the scenes, so that they
see through all the tricks."

"An artist isn't a conjurer!" said Mendel.

"That is just what artists have been," cried Logan, "and they can't
bluff it out any more."

"Exactly!" gurgled Tysoe, who when he was roused from his habitual
weak lethargy lost control of his voice, so that it wobbled between a
shrill treble and a husky bass. "Exactly! That's what I like about you
two. No bluff, no tricks. You do what you want to do and damn the
consequences. Ha! ha!"

So ill was Mendel just before the exhibition that Logan refused to
allow him anywhere near it, and insisted that they should both go to
Brighton, leaving Oliver to go to the private view and spy out the
land.

Oliver protested. She wanted to go to Brighton.

"You shall have a new dress and a new hat," said Logan. "You must go
to the private view like a real lady. Cluny doesn't know you, and you
must go up to him every now and then and ask him in a loud voice what
the prices are. You might even pretend to be a little deaf and make
him speak clearly and distinctly."

The idea tickled Mendel so that he began to laugh, could not stop
himself, and was soon almost hysterical.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Oliver, shaking him.

He gasped:--

"I--I was laughing at the idea of your being a real lady. Ha! ha! ha!"

She gave him a clout over the head that sobered him. Logan pounced on
her like a tiger.

"You devil!" he said. "You she-devil! Don't you see the poor boy's
ill?"

"What's that to me?" she screamed, with her head wobbling backwards
and forwards horribly as he shook her. "It's n-nothing t-to m-me!"

She caught Logan by the wrist and sent him spinning, for she was
nearly as strong as he.

"Go to Brighton!" she shouted. "I don't care. I'll be glad to be rid
of you both. You won't find me here when you come back, that's all,
you and your little hurdy-gurdy boy! You only need a monkey and an
organ to make you complete. Why don't you try it? You'd do better at
that than out of pictures."

Logan could not contain himself. His rage burst out of him in a howl
like that of a wind in a chimney, a dismal, empty moan. He stood up,
and the veins on his neck swelled and his mouth opened and shut
foolishly, for he could find nothing to say.

"You slut, you squeezed-out dishclout, you sponge!" he roared at last.
"Clear out, you drab! Clear out into the streets, you trull! Draggle
your skirts in the mud, you filth, you octopus! Sell the carcase that
you don't know how to give, you marble!"

She flung up her hands and sank on to her knees, and let down her hair
and moaned:--

"O God! O God! O God!"

Logan's fury snapped.

"For God's sake! For God's sake!" he said. "What has come over us? Oh,
God help us! What are we doing? What are we coming to? Nell! Nell! I
didn't know what I was saying!"

He went down on his knees beside her, and Mendel, who had been numbed
but inwardly elated by the storm, could not endure the craven
surrender, the cowardly reconciliation, and he left them.

Out in the street he stood tottering on the curb, and spat into the
gutter, with extreme precision, between the bars of a grating.

* * * * *

At Brighton, whither they went next day, Logan explained himself.

"It is extraordinary how near love is to hate, and how rotten love
becomes if hate is suppressed--stale and tasteless and vapid."

"Are you talking about yourself and Oliver?" asked Mendel.

"Yes."

"Then please don't. I don't mind what happens between you and her so
long as it doesn't happen in front of me."

"I'm sorry," said Logan; "but it can't always be prevented. I don't
see the use of pretence."

"Neither do I. But some things are your own affair, and it is indecent
to let other people see them."

"Oh, a row's a row!" said Logan cheerfully. "And one is all the better
for it."

"But if a woman treated me like that I should never speak to her
again."

"Love's too deep for that. You can't stand on your dignity in love."

"I should make her understand once and for all that I would not have
it."

"Then she would deceive you. If you played the tyrant over a girl like
Oliver she would deceive you."

Mendel stared and his jaw dropped. Had Logan forgotten the night in
Paris? Was he such a fool as to pretend he did not know, could not see
that the whole liberation of frenzy in Oliver dated from that night?
. . . Oh, well! It was no affair of his.

To change the subject he said:--

"We ought to get the press-cuttings to-morrow. I wonder if we shall
sell the lot? It's a good beginning, having tickets on your two."

"I bet we sell the lot in a week. Oliver has two of the critics in her
pocket. What do you say to giving a party in honour of the event? We
can afford to forgive our enemies now, and there's a social side to
the movement which we ought not to neglect."

Mendel made no reply. They were sitting on the front. The smooth,
glassy sea, reflecting the stars and the lights of the pier, soothed
and comforted him. Brighton was to him like a part of London, and he
sank drowsily into the happy fantasy that he was being thrust out of
the streets towards the stars and the vast power that lay beyond them.
He was weary of the streets and the clamour, and he wanted peace and
serenity, rest from his own turbulence, the peace which has no
dwelling upon earth and lives only in eternity.

"How good it would be," he said suddenly, "if one could just paint
without a thought of what became of one's pictures."

"That's no good," replied Logan. "One must live."

* * * * *

The first batch of cuttings arrived in the morning. They were brief,
for the most part, quite respectful and appreciative. Mendel learned,
to his astonishment, that he was influenced by Logan, and one critic
lamented that a promising young painter, who could so simply render
the life of his race, should have been infected with modern heresies.
There was no uproar, neither of them was hailed as a master, and Logan
in more than one instance was dismissed as an imitator of Calthrop.

"Calthrop!" said Logan, gulping down his disappointment and disgust.
"Calthrop! Oh well, it is good enough for a beginning. It would have
been very different if you had let me print the manifesto. The swine
need to be told, you know. They want a lead. . . . We'll wait for the
Sunday papers."

* * * * *

London was curiously unchanged when they returned. Mendel was half
afraid he would be recognized as they came out of Charing Cross
Station, but no one looked at him. The convulsion through which he had
lived had left people going about their business, and he supposed that
if an earthquake happened in Trafalgar Square people would still be
going about their business in the Strand.

They were eager for Oliver's account of the private view, and took a
taxi-cab to Camden Town. She was wearing her new dress and was quite
the lady: shook hands with Mendel and asked him haughtily in a mincing
tone how he was. From all these signs he judged that the exhibition
had been a success.

"Quite a lot of people came," she said. "Real swells. There were two
motor-cars outside."

"Yes," said Logan. "Tysoe agreed to leave his car outside for a couple
of hours to encourage people to go in."

"Kühler's picture of the girl with short hair sold at once," she said.

His pleasure in this news was swallowed up in his dislike of hearing
Morrison spoken of by her.

"All your drawings but one are gone, Logan. I listened to what people
said. They wanted to know who you were, and Cluny said you had a great
reputation in the North. People laughed out loud at Kühler's _Ruth_,
and I heard one man say it was only to be expected. He said the Jews
can never produce art. They can only produce infant prodigies."



IV

REACTION

LOGAN made nearly two hundred pounds out of the exhibition and Mendel
over a hundred. His family rejoiced in his triumph. A hundred pounds
was a good year's income to them. They rejoiced, but it was an
oppression to him to go back to them and to talk in Yiddish, in which
there were no words for all that he cared for most. Impossible to
explain to them about art, for they had neither words nor mental
conceptions. Art was to them only a wonderful way of making money, a
kind of magic that went on in the West End, where, once a man was
established, he had only to open his pockets for money to fall into
them.

Up to a point he could share their elation, for in his bitter moments
he too was predatory. If the Christian world would not admit him on
equal terms he had no compunction about despoiling it.

The words "infant prodigy" stuck in his throat, and with his family it
seemed indeed impossible that the Jews could produce art. How could
they, when they had no care for it? And how had he managed to find his
way to it? . . . Going back over his career step by step it seemed
miraculous, and as though there were a special providence governing
his life--Mr. Kuit, the Scotch traveller, Mitchell, Logan, all were as
though they had been pushed forward at the critical moment. And for
what? Merely to exploit an infant prodigy with a skilful trick? . . .
He could not, he would not believe it. The pressure that had driven
him along, the pressure within himself, had been too great for that,
just to squeeze him out into the open and to fill his pockets with
money. There was more meaning in it all than that, more shape, more
design.

Yet when he considered his work he was lacerated with doubt. It ended
so palpably in the portrait of his father and mother, and he knew that
he could never go back to that again. An art that was limited to Jewry
was no art. Among the Jews no light could live. They would not have
it. They would snuff it out, for it was their will to dwell in dark
places and to wait upon the illumination that never came, as of course
it never would until they looked within themselves.

Within himself he knew there was a most vivid light glowing, a spark
which only needed a breath of air upon it to burst into flame. He was
increasingly conscious of it, and it made him feel transparent, as
though nothing could be hidden from those who looked his way. What was
there to hide? If there was evil, it lived but a little while and was
soon spent, while that which was of worth endured and grew under
recognition.

Thence came his devotion to Logan, who simply ignored everything that
apparently gave offence to others and saluted the rare, rich activity.
It was nothing to Logan that he was a Jew and poor and uneducated: he
was educated in art, and what more did he want? Logan was a friend
indeed, and had proved it over and over again. He would take his
doubts to Logan and they would be healed, but first he must go to the
exhibition, the thought of which made him unhappy and uneasy.

Cluny received him with open arms:--

"A most successful exhibition. A great success. I hope you will let me
have some of your work by me. A most charming exhibition. There was
only one mistake, if I may say so: the _Ruth._"

Mendel walked miserably through the rooms. All Logan's pictures were
in the best light: his own were half in shadow.

"Mr. Logan has the making of a great reputation," said Cluny, "a very
great reputation."

"Oh, very clever!" said Mendel, suddenly exasperated more by Logan's
pictures than by the dealer.

Indeed, "very clever" was the right description for Logan's work. It
attracted and charmed and tickled, but it did not satisfy. The
pictures gave Mendel the same odd sense of familiarity as the picture
in Camden Town had done, and turning suddenly, his eye fell on his own
unhappy _Ruth_. The figure was shockingly bad. He acknowledged the
simpering sentimentality of the face. And he had been trying to paint
love! But in spite of the figure, the picture held him. It was to him
the matrix of the whole exhibition. Wiping out of consideration his
own early drawings, it explained and accounted for every other piece
of work. The least dexterous of them all, it had freshness and
vitality and a certain thrust of simplification which everything else
lacked. It was "solid," and worth all Logan's pictures put together.

"Very good prices," said the dealer. "Very good indeed."

Mendel paid no attention to him. He wanted to study his _Ruth_, to
find out its precise meaning for him, and, if possible, in what
mysterious part of his talent it had originated.

It had made him feel happy again and had restored his confidence. He
was serenely sure of himself, without arrogance. He was almost humble,
yet tantalized because he could not think of a whole picture in the
terms of that one piece of paint. He remembered the strange excitement
in which he had conceived it, the almost nonchalance with which he had
executed it. And to think that not a soul had seen it! The fools! The
fools!

He was ashamed to be seen looking so intently at his own work. The
next day he was back again and told Cluny that it was not for sale.

"I don't think it's a seller, Mr. Kühler," said Cluny.

"It's not for sale," repeated Mendel.

He went every day and had no other thought. He wandered about in a
dream, not seeing people in the streets, not hearing when he was
spoken to.

On the fifth day as he entered Cluny's he began to tremble, and he
fell against a man who was coming out. The blood rushed to his heart
and beat at his temples. He knew why it was. The air seemed full of an
enchantment that settled upon him and drew him towards the gallery. He
knew he was going to see her, and she was there with Clowes, standing
in front of his _Ruth._ Clowes was laughing at it, but Morrison, with
brows knit, obviously angry, was trying to explain it.

"I'm trying to explain the cornfield to Clowes," she said. "Do come
and help me."

"I can't explain it myself," he said, marvelling at the ease of the
meeting. At once he and she were together and Clowes was out of it,
like a dweller in another world.

"I don't think you ought to do things you can't explain," said Clowes.

"Then you are wiping out Michael Angelo, and El Greco, and Blake, and
Piero."

"Yes," said Mendel. "You are wiping out inspiration altogether."

"Oh! if you think you are inspired I have nothing more to say,"
replied Clowes rather tartly. She had felt instinctively that Mendel
and Morrison would meet at the gallery, and was annoyed all the same
that it had happened. She knew how they were regarded, and she herself
did not approve. Morrison knew how impossible it was, and Clowes
thought she ought not to allow it to go on.

Clowes also recognized how completely she was out of it, and she made
excuses and left them.

"You are the only one who likes it," he said.

"I don't like it, but I know that it isn't bad. It isn't good either,
but it is real and it is you."

"I want no more than that," he said, "from you."

In his mind he had prepared all sorts of reproaches for his meeting
with her, but they fell away from his lips. He could only accept that
it was good and sweet and natural to be with her.

He told her quite simply how he had come to paint the picture, and how
he had tried to paint his love for her. She smiled and shook away her
smile.

"I'm glad it isn't anything like that really," she said.

"I tried to tell you what it was like when I wrote to you."

"Yes."

That was all she could say. She had been very unhappy, often
desperately wretched, because her instinct fought so furiously against
the idea of love with him whom she loved.

"The picture has made me very happy," she added. "It means that what I
have been wanting to happen to you has happened. You _are_ different,
you know. I can talk to you so much more easily."

He suggested that they should walk in the Park and spend the day
together, and she consented, glad that all the reproaches and storms
she had dreaded should be so lightly brushed away.

* * * * *

Happy, happy lovers, for whom nothing can defile the heavenly beauty
of this earth; happy, from whom Time streams away, bearing with it all
the foolish, restless activity of men; happy, for whom the pomps and
vanities of the world are as though they had never been! Thrice happy
two, who in your united spirit bear so easily all the beauty, all the
suffering, all the sorrow in the world, and bring it forth in joy, the
flower of life that cometh up as a vision, fades, and sheds its seed
upon the rich, warm soil of humanity. Emblem of immortality for ever
shining in the union of spirits, in the enchantment of two who are
together and in love.

* * * * *

So happy were they that they wandered for the most part in silence
through the avenues and over the grassy spaces of the Park.

Of the two, she had the better brain, and, indeed, the stronger
character. She had been toughened in the struggle to break out of the
web of hypocrisy and meaningless tradition of gentility in which her
family was enmeshed, and the freedom she had won was very precious to
her. She kept it as a touchstone by which to measure her acquaintance
and her experience, and, using it now, she realized that there were
two distinct delights in being with Mendel on this tender autumn day;
one tempted her with its promise of furious joys and wild, baffling
emotions. It seduced her with its suggestion that this way lay
kindness, the gift to him of his desire, peace, and satisfaction. But
behind the suggestion of kindness lay a menace to her freedom, which,
being so much more precious than herself, she longed for him to share,
as in the keen happiness of that day he had done. That was the other
delight, more serene and more rare, infinitely more powerful, and she
would not have it sacrificed to the less. The gift of herself to which
she was tempted must mean the blending of her freedom with his, for
without that there would be no true gift, only a surrender.

She could not think it out or make it clear to herself, but she knew
that it was surrender he was asking, and she knew that if she
surrendered she would be no more to him in a little while than the
other women of passage with whom his life was darkened.

Ought she not then to tell him, to keep him from living in false
hopes? She persuaded herself that she ought, but she did not wish to
spoil this delicious day. It was such torture to her when he blazed
out at her and he became ugly with egoism.

"Of course," he said, "the _Ruth_ makes all the difference. I can't
let you go now, because you are the only one who has really understood
my work. I am almost frightened of it myself, and it makes me feel
desperately lonely when I think of all I shall have to go through to
get at what it really means."

"No. If you want me like that I don't want you to let me go," she
said, "for it is so important."

"Yes," he said. "It may mean an entirely new kind of picture, for I
don't know anybody's work that has quite what is hammering away in my
head to get out. It must be because you love me that you can feel it
when no one else can. Even to Logan it is only like a superior
poster."

How adorable he was in this mood of simplicity and humility! She could
relax her vigilance, and sway unreservedly to his mood and give him
all that he required of her, her clearness, her sensitive purity.

"You are like no other woman in the world to me," he went on. "You
fill me with the most wonderful joy, like a Cranach or a Dürer
drawing. I can forget almost that you are a woman, so that it is a
most wonderful surprise that you are one after all. You are the only
person in the world whom I can place side by side with my mother."

"You don't know what it is to me," she said, "to have a friend so
strong and frank as you are."

He put out his hand and laid it on her arm wonderingly, as if to
satisfy himself that she was really there, much as on his first visit
to Hampstead he had touched the grass.

"I think I shall live to be very old," he said, "and you will be just
the same to me then as you are now."

"Oh, Mendel!"

"Say that again!" he said, but she could not speak. Her eyes were
brimming with tears and she hung her head. She longed to take him to
her arms and to fondle him, to make him young, to charm away the
pitiful old weary helplessness that he had. Reacting from this mood in
her, which he did not understand and took for the first symptoms of
surrender, he became wild and boastful, and clowned like a silly boy
to attract her attention.

Her will set against him. She could not endure the sudden swoop from
the highest sympathy to the gallantry of the streets, and when he was
weary of his tricks she tried to bring him to his senses by asking him
suddenly:--

"Is Logan a nice man?"

"He is my best friend. He has wonderful ideas and energy like a
steam-engine, and he has suffered too. He is not like the art students
who expect painting pictures to be as easy as knitting. He could have
been almost anything, but he believes that art is the most important
thing of all. He has made a great difference to me, by teaching me to
be independent. . . . I will take you to see him one day."

"I should like to meet him, because he has made a great difference in
you."

"He steals."

That gave Morrison a shock, for Mendel seemed to be stating the fact
as a recommendation.

"Yes. When he has no money he steals. I went with him once and we
stole some reproductions."

She was sorry she had mentioned Logan. Mendel was a different creature
at once. Their glamourous happiness was gone. Logan seemed to have
stalked in between them and the purity of their delight withered away.

He felt it as strongly as she, but thought she was deliberately
escaping from him, that she was fickle and could not stay out the
day's happiness. Women, he knew, were like that. They gave out just as
the best was still to come.

It was dusk and they were in a lonely glade. He pounced on her and
drew her to him:--

"I want you to kiss me."

"No--no!"

"Yes--yes--yes! I say you shall. I will not have you let it all slip
away."

"Don't! Don't!" she said, in a passion of resentment. He was spoiling
it all. How could he be so crude and insensible after this matchless
day?

At last he was convinced of her anger.

"I don't understand you," he said. "Don't you want anything like
that?"

"It has spoiled the day for me," she answered, "or almost, for nothing
could really spoil it."

She walked on and he stood still for a moment. Then he ran after her.

"Did you . . . did you hate me then?"

"No, I didn't hate you. I hated myself more because I can't say what I
feel."

"If you don't love me like that," he said, "I love you all the same. I
must see you often--always. I can't live, I can't work, if you don't
let me see you. . . . No. That isn't true. I shall work whatever
happens."

How she loved his honesty! He was making no attempt to creep behind
her defences. They had baffled him, and he counted his wounds
cheerfully.

"If you don't love me like that," he went on excitedly, "it doesn't
make any difference. You are my love all the same. You are in all my
thoughts, in every drop of my blood, and you can do with me as you
will. If you don't love me like that I will never touch you. I can
understand your not wanting to touch me, because I am dirty. I am
dirty in my soul. I will never touch you. I promise that I will never
touch you, and what you do not like in me you shall never see. . . ."

She broke down, and burst into an unrestrained fit of weeping. Why
could she not make clear to him, to herself, what she felt so clearly?
. . . Oh! She knew she ought to tell him to go, to spare him all the
suffering that he must endure, but also she knew by the measure of her
need for him how sorely he must need her. Their need of each other was
too profound, too strong, too passionate, easily to find its way to
surface life, nor could it be satisfied with sweets too easily
attained. . . . She must wait. To leave him or to surrender to him
would be a betrayal of that high mystery wherein they had their
spiritual meeting.

"I shall win," she said to herself, "I shall win. I know I shall win."

And she amazed him with her sudden lightness of heart. She laughed and
told him how solemnly Clowes was taking it all, and how the
loose-tongued busybodies were talking. . . . As if it mattered what
they said! He mattered more than all of them, because they took easily
what was next to hand and grew fat on it, while he fought his way
upward step by step and was never satisfied, and would fight his way
always step by step with bloody pains and suffering.

"Oh, Mendel!" she cried; "I'm so proud--so proud of you."

She was too swift for him. He came lumbering after her, puzzled,
amazed, confounded at finding in this girl something that was so much
more than woman, something that could actually live on the high level
of his creative thought, something as necessary to his thought as dew
to the grass and the ripening corn.



V

LOGAN GIVES A PARTY

THE impulse to take his doubts to Logan endured, and was aggravated by
the wretchedness into which Mendel was plunged by Morrison's return
and her powerful effect upon his life. He raged against himself as an
idiot and a fool for taking her seriously and for believing that she
could realize his work when as yet he understood it so little himself.
If it was love, then have the love-making and get it over. If she
refused, then let her go! What did she mean by slipping away just when
the day's happiness began to demand utterance, closeness, intimacy,
the promise of the dearest and most comfortable joys?

He knew that he was deceiving himself, that she could do just as she
liked and it would make no difference, but he also knew that he
mistrusted her. In his heart he suspected her of being one of those
who like to pretend that life can be all roses and honey, that there
can be summer without winter, day without night. . . . Just a pretty
English girl, he called her, and, in his most bitter moods, he
regarded himself as caught; and in that there was a certain sardonic
satisfaction. It seemed appropriate that, having known many women
without a particle of love for them, he should be in love with a woman
who did not wish to have anything to do with him.

When he told Logan about it, that experienced individual smoked three
cigarettes and was silent for ten minutes by the clock.

"It won't do," he said; "give it up. You're in love with her. Oh yes!
You were bound to have your taste of it, being so young. But, for
God's sake, keep it clear of your work. I know it is very delightful
and all that, and like the first blush of spring, and that she seems
to understand everything. First love is always the same. She seems to
understand, but so do the violets in the woods, and the apple-blossom
in an orchard, and the singing birds on a spring morning. They all
seem to understand everything. Life is solved: there are no more
problems, and the rarest flower of all is the human heart. Yet the
violets and the apple-blossoms fade and the birds sing no more: the
spring passes and the summer is infernally hot and stale, and winter
comes at last. So it is with love and women. Nothing endures but art,
and that they are physically incapable of understanding. My God! Don't
I know it? A picture of mine means no more to Oliver than my boot
does--rather less, because my boot is warmed with the warmth of my
body. That's all _she_ understands."

He looked down at the boots and fidgeted with his hands.

"Yes. That's all _she_ understands," he repeated.

He was very haggard, and he looked up at Mendel as though he were
trying to say something more than he could get into words; but Mendel
was preoccupied with his own perplexities, and Logan's appealing
glance was lost upon him.

"I'm older than you," Logan continued, "and of course it is difficult
for me to say anything that will be of any use to you, but a man like
you ought not to let life get in his way. It isn't worth it. Life is
only valuable to you as a condition of working. Nothing in it ought to
be valuable for its own sake. Do you hear? You ought never to have
anything in your life that you couldn't sacrifice--couldn't do
without."

He seemed to be rather thinking aloud than talking, and something
indescribably solemn in his voice made Mendel shiver. He had hardly
heard what Logan was saying and, thinking he must be in a draught, he
looked towards the window.

Logan went on:--

"She'll be back in a moment. We don't often get the opportunity to
talk like this. She has begun to read books, and thinks she knows
about pictures now. She won't leave us alone. That damned critic has
been stuffing her up and she reads all his articles."

He made a grimace of weary disgust.

"I care about you, Kühler, almost more than I do about myself, which
is saying a good deal. Don't let this love business get mixed up with
your work, especially if, as you say, it is Platonic--that is the
worst poison of all--almost, almost. . . . Still, I'd like to see the
girl. Bring her to the party. We might join up and make a
quartette--if she can stand Oliver. Women can't, as a rule. They don't
like full-blooded people of their own sex."

"She wants to know you," replied Mendel half-heartedly. "I'm always
talking to her about you."

"All right," said Logan. "Bring her to the party."

Downstairs the front door slammed and Logan gave a nervous start. His
whole aspect changed. He lost the drooping solemnity that had come
come over him and was stiff, quick, and alert, and prepared to be
droll, as he was when it was a question of humbugging Tysoe and Cluny.

Oliver came in with a bottle of wine under each arm. She was in very
good spirits and looking remarkably handsome.

"Hello, Kühler!" she cried. "How do you like being a success? We're
full of beans. We're going to take a house. Did Logan tell you?"

"No," said Mendel. "I hadn't heard of it."

"Well, it's true. We've done with the slums and being poor and all
that. We're going to have a house and I'm going to have a servant, and
I shall have nothing to do all day but eat chocolates and read novels
and have people to tea."

"So you're going to be a real lady."

"Yes. I'm going to wear a wedding-ring, and we're going to give out
that we're married, so that Mrs. Tysoe can call on me."

"You're not going to do anything of the kind," snapped Logan.

"I am. I don't see why I should have a beastly time just because you
won't marry me, setting yourself up against the world and saying you
don't believe in marriage."

"I don't want to be more tied to you than I am," said Logan,
endeavouring to adopt a reasonable tone.

He was curiously subdued, and never took his eyes off her. Mendel had
the impression that they must recently have had a quarrel. Logan was
endeavouring to placate her, but she was constantly aggressive. She
seemed to have gained in personality and to be possessed of a definite
will. She was no longer shrouded in the mists of sensuality, but stood
out clearly, a figure of such vitality that Mendel could no longer
keep his lazy contempt for her. Almost admirable she was, yet he found
her detestable. He thought she should be thanking her lucky stars for
having found such a man as Logan; she should be taking gratefully what
he chose to give her, instead of setting herself up and putting
forward her own vulgar needs. If a woman threw in her lot with an
artist, she ought to revel in her freedom from the petty interests and
insignificant courtesies that made the lives of ordinary women so
humiliating.

What was she up to? He knew that there was a deeper purpose in her,
something very definite, for which she had been able to summon up her
raw vitality. He could understand Logan being fascinated. If he had
been in love with the woman he would have been the same, and his mind
would have been swamped by sensual curiosity.

Before, he had always been rather mystified to know what Logan saw in
the woman, but now the infatuation was comprehensible to him. His mind
played about it with a strange delight, and he was even envious of
Logan to be consumed in the heart of that mystery upon whose fringes
he himself was held. And he thought that if he brought Morrison to see
them he would be able to understand her better, and might even be able
to place his finger on the weak place in her armour.

"You two do give me the pip," said Oliver. "You sit there as glum and
silent as though you were in church. Taking yourselves too seriously,
I call it."

Still in his forbearing tone Logan said:--

"We talk of things which are very hard to understand."

"Oh, give it up!" she said. "Leave all that to folk with brains and
education. Why can't you just paint without talking about it? You'd
get twice as much work done."

"Because, don't you see, unless you're a blasted amateur, you can't
paint without rousing all sorts of questions in your mind--questions
that don't seem to have anything to do with painting; but unless you
attempt to answer them there's no satisfaction in working."

"Oh, cheese it!" she said; "I know what the critics look for, and it
has nothing to do with brains. It is like being in love."

"Who told you that?" asked Logan with sudden heat; but before she
could answer him Mendel had exploded:--

"It is nothing at all like being in love. That is what all the beastly
Christians think of--being in love. And they want art always, always
to remind them of that--how they have been, are, or will be in love,
as they call it. And what they call being in love is nothing but a
filthy lecherous longing, which is a thousand miles beneath love, and
twenty thousand miles beneath art, which is so rare, so noble, so
beautiful a mystery that only those whom God has chosen can understand
it at all; for while you are in this state of longing you can
understand, you can feel nothing at all except a hungry delight in
yourself and your own sticky sensations. What can women know of art?
It needs strength and will, and women have neither; they have only
obstinate fancies."

When he had done he was so astonished at himself that he gasped for
breath. Logan and Oliver, gaping at him, seemed ridiculous and little.
Talking to them was a waste of breath, because when she was there
Logan was not himself, but only a kind of excrescence upon her
monstrous vitality. The room seemed to stink. It was airless and
reeking with sex. He must get out and away, under the sky, among the
trees, upon his beloved Hampstead. . . . Without another word he
stalked away.

"Well! I never!" exclaimed Oliver. "Is Kühler in love?"

"Oh! shut up!" said Logan wearily.

* * * * *

For the party the room was cleared and a pianola was hired. The guests
were invited to bring their own glasses and drink, and also any
friends they liked. The result was that half the habitués of the Paris
Café turned up, including Jessie Petrie, Mitchell, and Thompson, who
was over for a short time from Paris, very important and mysterious
because he had something to do with a forthcoming exhibition of Modern
French Art which was to knock London silly. And there was a rumour
that Calthrop himself was coming.

Oliver wore a new evening dress, which she had insisted on buying
because she was very proud of her bust and arms. The dress was of
emerald green silk and she looked very lovely in it--"Like a water
nymph," said Logan, and he went out and bought her a string of red
corals to give the finishing touch.

"You won't have much of this kind of thing when we move," he said. "It
is to be farewell to Bohemia. I'm going to settle down to work. I've
taught Kühler a thing or two, but he has taught me how to work."

"Damn Kühler! I hate him," said Oliver.

"You can hate him as much as you choose. It won't hurt him or me. I'm
not a Hercules, and my work and you are about as much as I can
manage."

"You're a nice one to be giving a party. You talk as though you would
be in your grave next week."

"It is a farewell party."

"'Farewell to the Piano,'" laughed Oliver. "That was the last piece I
learned when I had music lessons."

Mitchell was among the first to arrive. He had been ill, and looked
washed-out and unwholesome. There was very little of the Public School
boy left in him.

"Is Kühler coming?" he asked nervously.

"I expect so," answered Logan. "Do you know how to manage a pianola?"

"Yes. We've got one at home."

"You might play it then, to keep things going until they liven up."

Mitchell was placed at the pianola, and was still there when Mendel
arrived with Morrison.

"I'm very glad to meet you," said Logan. "Kühler has talked about you
so often."

"Yes," said Morrison.

"I hope you don't mind a Bohemian party. They are a mixed lot."

"No," said Morrison.

"Good God!" thought Logan. "Not a word to say for herself!"

Mendel introduced her to Oliver, who looked her up and down
superciliously--this little schoolgirl in her brown tweed coat and
skirt.

"I'm sorry I didn't dress," said Morrison. "I didn't know."

She shrank from the big, fleshy woman, who made her feel very unhappy.
Yet she wanted to be fair. She had heard Mendel storm and rage against
Oliver and she hated to be prejudiced. It distressed her not to like
anybody, for she found most people likeable. She tried to be
amiable:--

"I'm so glad the exhibition was such a success. Everybody is talking
about it."

"Oh! yes, yes," said Oliver vacantly. Obviously she was not listening.
She had eyes only for the men, and she bridled with pleasure when she
attracted their attention.

Morrison was glad to escape to a corner, where she could watch the
strange people and be amused by them, their attitudes and gestures and
queer, conceited efforts deliberately to charm each other.

She blushed when she saw Mitchell at the pianola, and thought she had
been rather foolish and weak to allow Mendel to bully her into
dismissing him from her acquaintance, and she was relieved when she
saw Mendel take in the situation and go up to Mitchell and tap him on
the shoulder and enter into eager discussion of the pianola. She was
less happy when she saw Mendel take Mitchell's place, and Mitchell
make a bee-line for herself.

An astonishing change came over the music, which got into Mendel's
blood. It was maddening, it was glorious to feel that he had all that
wealth of sound in his hands. He knew nothing of music, and it was
almost pure rhythm to him, and he wished to beat it out, to accentuate
it as much as possible. The machine confounded him every now and then
by running too fast or too slow, but he soon learned to pedal less
violently, and then he was gloriously happy and drunk with excitement.

Astonishing, too, was the change in the company. Everybody began to
talk and to laugh, and space was cleared in the middle of the room,
and Clowes and a young man from the Detmold began to dance. Jessie
Petrie and Weldon joined them, and soon the room was full of whirling,
gliding couples.

Said Mitchell to Morrison:--

"I didn't expect to find you here. Are you going to dance?"

"No. I like watching."

He sat on the floor by her side, and, hanging his head, he said
woefully:--

"So Kühler's won! Gawd! He always gets what he wants. There's no
resisting him."

"Don't be absurd," said Morrison. "I hear you've been ill."

"Yes. I've been going to the dogs, absolutely to the dogs. I had to
pull up. . . . I didn't know you knew Logan; but, of course, as he's
so thick with Kühler----!"

"I met him for the first time to-night. What do you think of his
work?"

"Flashy!" said Mitchell. "Very flashy. . . . Will you let me come and
see you again?"

"I'd rather not, if you don't mind."

"Why do you dislike me so much?"

"I don't dislike you. I can't trust you not to be silly."

"Gawd! I bet I'm not half so silly as Kühler!"

"He is never silly!"

"Ah! Now you're offended!"

She turned away from him and refused to speak again. His
half-flirtatious, half-patronizing manner offended her deeply, and was
far more of an affront to her than Logan's almost open scorn of her as
a little bread-and-butter miss. She wished Mendel would leave the
pianola, but he was enthralled and could not tear himself away. He
played the same tune over and over again, or went straight from one to
another, swaying to and fro, beating time with his hands, swinging his
head up and down.

Mitchell went very red in the face and slipped away. Presently she saw
him dancing with Oliver.

After a few moments she found Logan by her side, and he said kindly:--

"I'm afraid you are not enjoying yourself much."

"Oh yes!" she gasped, in a frightened voice.

"I was thinking you were not used to this kind of thing."

"Oh yes! I often go to parties in people's studios."

"I remember, I saw you at the Merlin's Cave one night."

"Yes, I remember. I didn't enjoy that a bit. It all seemed such a
sham."

"So it was," said Logan. "So is most of this. These people aren't
really wicked, though they like to pretend they are. I don't dance
myself. I'm too clumsy. Clog-dancing I can do, but not dancing with
anybody else. . . . But perhaps I am keeping you----?"

"Oh no! I'm very happy looking on."

"Kühler's worth watching, isn't he?"

This was said with such insolent meaning that Morrison wilted like a
sensitive plant. She managed to gasp out "Yes," and went on asking
wild, pointless questions, with her thoughts whirling far removed from
her words.

Why were all these people so impertinent, with their trick of plunging
into intimate life without waiting for intimacy? She felt that in a
moment Logan would be telling her all about himself and Oliver by way
of luring her on to discuss Mendel. That she had no intention of
doing, with him or with any one else.

"She's just a shy little fool," thought Logan, "and hopelessly,
hopelessly young."

"I'm unhappy!" thought Morrison, and it seemed to her foolish and mean
to be so. Her loyalty resented her weakness. She owed it to Mendel to
enjoy herself and to share as far as she could his friends. But there
was in the atmosphere of that gathering something that repelled her
and roused the fighting quality in her, something indecent, something
that hurt her as the picture of the flayed man in the anatomy book
hurt her.

Mendel was playing a wild rag-time tune.

"I think I'd like to dance to this tune. You must dance with me. I
don't think you ought to be out of your own party," she said to Logan,
who caught her up in a great bear's hug, trod on her toes, knocked her
knees, pressed his fingers so tight into her back that she could
hardly bear it, and at last, as the music ceased, deposited her by
Mendel's side.

"It is a marvellous thing, this machine," he said. "I should like to
go on at it all night. Have you been dancing? You look hot. You said
you weren't going to dance."

"I made Logan dance. He nearly killed me!"

"How did you get on?"

"Not--not very well."

"You don't like him?"

Jessie Petrie came running up: "Kühler, Kühler!" she cried. "Do, do
dance with me!"

He was very angry with Morrison for daring not to like Logan, for
making up her mind in two minutes that she did not like him. He gave
her a furious glance as Weldon took his place and started a waltz, put
his arms round Jessie's waist, and swung into the dance.

"Oh, Kühler!" said Jessie in her pretty birdlike voice, "I heard the
most awful story about you the other day."

"Do be quiet!" he grunted. "Dance!"

But he was out of temper, out of tune, and the music he had been
crashing out on the pianola was thudding in his head, so that he could
not respond either to the music of the waltz or to Jessie's eagerness.

"Isn't it funny Thompson being back in London? I don't like him a bit
now. You have spoiled me for everybody else. Do you want me to come on
Friday as usual?"

"Do be quiet."

"What's the matter? You aren't dancing at all nicely and you haven't
looked at me once this evening."

"No; don't come on Friday."

"Not----?"

Her voice was shrill with pain.

"No. That's all over."

She hung limp in his arms and her face was a ghastly yellow. She
muttered:--

"Take me out. . . . I think I'm going to faint."

He half-carried her into the passage, where she sat on the stairs and
began to cry. Neither of them noticed Clowes and the young man from
the Detmold sitting above them.

"Don't cry!" he said roughly; "what have you got to cry about?"

"I never thought you only wanted me for that."

"You came to me. I didn't ask you to come."

"But I do love you so. I only want you to love me a little."

"I don't know how to love a little. When I love it is with the whole
of me, and it is for always."

"But can't we be pals, just pals? We've been such pals."

"I'm sick to death of it all," he said violently, "sick to death.
You're the best girl in London, Jessie, but it's no good--it's no
good."

Clowes and the young man ostentatiously and with a great clatter went
higher up the stairs, but neither Jessie nor Mendel heard them. The
pain and the shame they were suffering absorbed them.

"I never thought," said Jessie, "it was near the end. I've always
known when it was near the end before. It is like being struck by
lightning."

Mendel was silent. He could do nothing. There was nothing to be said.
Jessie had consoled him, comforted him, but she had only made his
suffering worse. By the side of Morrison she simply did not exist, and
it had been a lie to pretend that she did. That lie must be cut out.

"I never thought you only wanted me for that," she repeated, and began
to move slowly down the stairs. At the bend she stopped and looked up
at him, gave a little muffled cry, and moved slowly down into the dim
lobby of the house.

Mendel gripped the banisters with both hands and shook them until they
cracked.

"How horrible!" he muttered to himself; "how horrible!"

Upstairs, Clowes was boiling with rage. She lost all interest in her
young man, and as soon as Mendel had returned to the room she raced
downstairs, almost sobbing, and saying to herself:--

"That settles you, Master Kühler! That settles you!"

She darted across to Morrison, who had taken refuge in a corner,
seized her by the hand and whispered:--

"Greta! Greta! I've just heard the most frightful thing. I couldn't
help overhearing it and I ought not to tell anybody, but you ought to
know. Kühler and Petrie! It must have been going on for months. He
broke with her in the most cold-blooded way. It was heart-rending. I
can't bear it. Oh! these men, these men!"

Morrison clenched her fists and her eyes blazed.

"Don't tell me any more!" she said. "Don't tell me any more!"

"I want to go home," whispered Clowes. "It is a dreadful party. That
awful green woman spoils everything. It is like a nightmare to me now.

"It wouldn't be fair to go without telling him," said Morrison. "It
wouldn't be fair."

"But you can't think of him after that," protested Clowes. "Oh! good
gracious! There's Calthrop coming in. It is getting worse and worse."

Calthrop swung into the room with his magnificent stride. As usual,
his entrance created a dramatic sensation. Logan, who had always
decried his work, leaped to meet him and Mendel stood shyly waiting
for his nod. . . . Whom would the great man speak to? That was the
question. . . . He fixed his eyes on Oliver and strode up to her.

"You're the best-looking woman in the room," he said. "Do you like
cinemas?"

"I adore them," said Oliver, with an excited giggle.

"Now, now's the chance!" whispered Clowes. "We can slip away now,
before they begin drinking."

"I must tell him," replied Morrison, and, summoning up all her
courage, she went up to Mendel and asked if she could speak to him. He
went out with her, trembling in every limb.

"I am going," she said. "I have just heard something. Clowes overheard
you and Jessie Petrie. She ought not to have told me. I don't know
what I feel about it. Very wretched, chiefly. Please don't try to see
me."

"I have told you what I am again and again," he said.

"Yes. You are very honest, but it is hard for a girl to imagine these
things. Please, please see how hard it is and let me be."

"Very well," he answered, feeling that the whole world had come to an
end. "Very well."

She called Clowes, who had stayed just inside the door, and together,
like little frightened children, they crept downstairs.

"Good-bye love!" said Mendel. "My God, what rubbish, what folly, what
nonsense! Love and a Christian girl! That's over. That's finished. I
am outside it all--outside, outside, outside. Oh! Dark and vile and
bitter, and no sweetness anywhere but in my own thoughts!"

Inside the room someone began to sing:--

    I want to be, I want to be,
    I want to be down home in Dixie. . . .

Oh! the mad folly of these Christians, with their childish songs,
their idiotic pleasures, their preposterous belief in happiness. . . .
Happiness! They ruin the world to satisfy their childish longing, and
all their happiness lies in words and foolish songs. . . . The rhythm
of the pianola tunes began to beat in his head, and another deeper
rhythm came up from the depths of his soul and tried to break through
them. It was the same rhythm that always came up when he had reached
the lowest depths of misery. It came gushing forth like water from the
rock of Moses, and crept through his being like ice, up, up into his
thoughts, bringing him to an intolerable agony.

In the room glasses clinked. He turned towards the light and plunged
into the carouse.



VI

REVELATION

THREE weeks later the exhibition of Modern French Art was opened in an
important gallery in the West End. It roused indignation, laughter,
scorn, and made such a stir in the papers that public interest was
excited and the exhibition was an unparalleled success. People from
the suburbs, people who had never been to a picture gallery in their
lives, flocked to see the show, and most of them, when they left,
said: "Well, at any rate we've had a good laugh."

Mendel never read the papers and knew nothing at all about it. These
three weeks had been a time of blank misery for him. He could not
work. His people set his teeth on edge. He could not bear to see a
soul, for he could not talk. When he met friends and acquaintances,
not a word could he find to say to them. There was nothing to say.
They were living in a world from which he had been expelled. More than
once he was on the point of going to his father and asking to be taken
into the workshop, since the only possible, the only bearable life was
one of hard manual labour, which left no room for spiritual activity,
none for happiness, and very little for unhappiness.

He found some consolation in going to the synagogue. His mother was
delighted, but the religion was no comfort to him. What pleased him
was to see the old Jews in their shawls and the women in their beaded
gowns, praying each in their separate parts of the building--praying
until they wept, and abasing themselves before the Lord. What woe,
what misery they expressed! All the year round was this dismal
wailing, and there was only happiness on the day that Haman was
hanged. . . . It seemed good and decent to him that the sexes should
be separate before the Lord, as they should be separate before the
holy spirit that was in them. They should meet in holiness, hover for
a moment above life, then sink back into it again to gather new
strength. So love would be in its place. It could be gathered up and
distilled. It would not be allowed to spread like a flood of muddy
water over life, which had other passions, other delights, other
glorious flowerings.

It had been a great day for him when, in a little shop near his home,
he had come on a pair of wooden figures rudely carved by
savages--African, the shopman said they were. Rudely carved, they were
not at all realistic, but admirably simplified, the man and the woman
sitting side by side, naked. The man was wearing a little round bowler
hat, while the woman was uncovered. They had the spirit and the idea
that he most loved--the idea of man and woman sitting side by side,
bound in love, unfathomably deep and unimaginably high, until one
should follow the other to the grave.

He showed them to Golda, and told her they were she and his father.

"What next will you be up to?" she said. "Why, they are blackamoors."

"They are you and my father," he said, caressing the figures lovingly.

"I wish you would put the thought of that girl out of your head," she
said tenderly. "It is making you so ill and so thin, and I dare not
think what your father will say when he knows you are drinking again."

"Mother," he said, "when did you begin to love me?"

"When you were born," she said.

"Yes, yes. I know, as a cow loves its calf. But I mean _love_, for you
do not love the others the same as me."

"You were not so very old when it came to me that you were different."

"But it is more now that I am a man?"

"Of course."

That settled his mind on the point that had been bothering him.
Everywhere among the Christians love--the love that he knew and
honoured--seemed to be lost in a soft, spongy worship of the mother's
love for her child. The woman seemed to be wiped out of account
altogether except as a mother. It seemed that she was not expected to
love, and she was left by herself with the child, with the man looking
rather foolish all by himself, seeing his strong, beautiful masculine
love absorbed and given to the senseless little lump of flesh in the
woman's arms. It was like discarding the flower for the seed, like
denying the wonder of spring for the autumn fruit.

"If that is your Christian love," he said to himself, "I will have
none of it."

He studied the Madonnas in the National Gallery, and they confirmed
his impression of the weakness of Christian love, that left out the
strong, vital love of a man for a woman, of a woman for a man. He
characterized it as womanish, and could not see that the ideal had
served to save women from male tyranny. Moreover, most of the pictures
struck him as shockingly bad, which confirmed his notion that the
ideal that inspired them was rotten.

He could not test his ideas by his experience with Morrison, for he
dared not think of her at all. When his mother spoke of her, it had
been like a sharp knife through his heart. . . . Yes. _That_ was love,
and it could not be bothered with the idea of children. If they came,
it would make room for them, but it was not going to be robbed by
them. Its object was the woman, and it detested any idea that got
between it and her. . . . Yet when this love for Morrison stood
between himself and his love for art, he hated her almost as
violently. Sometimes he thought that he would kill her, because she
stood there smiling. She was always smiling. She could be happy; she
could so easily be happy. . . .

* * * * *

Logan came to fetch him to go to the exhibition.

"I don't want to go to the exhibition. I don't want to see other
people's pictures. I want to paint my own."

"What are you working at?"

"Nothing."

"What's the matter?"

"Sex."

"Oh! That's always the matter with everybody."

"But I've thought of something."

"What?"

"Women don't love their children."

Logan roared with laughter, and he went on laughing because he enjoyed
it. It was long since he had laughed so easily.

"Most of them do," he said. "Even if they've hated having them."

"They don't," said Mendel. "It's instinct just to gloat over them,
just as one gloats over a picture one has just finished, however bad
it may be. It has cost you something, and there is something to show
for it. It is quite blind and stupid, like an animal. It is like lust.
It is neither true nor false. It just _is_, chaotic and half-created.
Love is a human thing. Love is the most human thing there is. When a
clerk marries a girl because he wants a woman, I don't call that love.
He is only making himself comfortable. There is a little more dirt in
the world, that is all."

Logan laughed uncomfortably.

"Please listen," said Mendel. "I have been nearly mad this last
fortnight, ever since the party. All my life seems to have broken its
way into my mind, and I don't know when I shall be able to get it out
again. It is very important that I should talk, and I have no one
really to talk to except you. I am very lonely because I am a Jew and
people do not understand me, or rather they think they understand me
because I am a Jew. They think all Jews are the same. It is very
rarely that I feel I am accepted as a man with thoughts, feelings,
tears, laughter, tastes, bowels, senses like any other man."

"I know," said Logan sympathetically.

"How can you know? You have only to live in a world that is ready-made
for you. I have to make mine as I go, step by step."

"That isn't because you are a Jew, but because you are an artist. It
is the same for all of us."

"It can't be the same, for the ordinary world is not utterly foreign
to you. You do not find that which you were brought up to believe, the
wisdom you sucked in with your mother's milk, completely denied. . . .
I tell you, love is all wrong, and because love is all wrong, art is
all wrong, everything is wrong, and so is everybody. Everybody is
living with only a part of himself, so that the cleverest people are
the worst and most mischievous fools. I tell you, there are times in
your West End when I can hardly breathe because people are such fools.
If you are successful, they smile at you. If you are not successful,
they look the other way. . . . Oh! I know it does not matter, but it
makes success a paltry thing, and when you have lived for it and
hungered for it, what then? What are you to do when it is like sand
trickling through your fingers?"

"You can't stop it," said Logan. "You can't throw it away. You can
only go on working, come what may."

"Yes," replied Mendel dubiously, and grievously disappointed. He had
so hoped to squeeze out his twisted, tortured feelings into words, but
at a certain point Logan failed him and seemed to shy at his thought.
To a certain quality of passion in himself Logan was insensible. Where
his own passion began to gain in clear force and momentum, swinging
from the depths of life to the highest imagination, only gaining in
strength as the ascent grew more arduous, Logan's remained in an
exasperated intensity.

"I'm sorry," said Mendel. "Talking is no use. I've found my way out of
as bad times as this, and shall again. It is no good talking. I will
sit as silent as the little figures there, and in time I shall know
what I must do."

"You want taking out of yourself," muttered Logan irritably. "Come and
see Thompson's show."

* * * * *

As successful artists they entered the gallery self-consciously and
rather contemptuously. That did not last long. There were many people
sniggering at the Van Goghs and the Picassos, but Mendel's thoughts
flew back to a still-life he had painted of a blue enamel teapot and a
yellow matchbox years ago. He had painted them as he had seen them, in
raw, crude colour, but the picture had been so derided, and he had
been so scornfully reminded that there were no brilliant colours in
nature, that he had painted the same subject over again with a very
careful rendering of what was called "atmosphere."

Here were crude colours indeed--almost, in many cases, as they came
from the tubes, and as for drawing, there was hardly a trace of it,
yet in the majority of the pictures there was a riotous freedom which
rushed like a cleansing wind through Mendel's mind, and it seemed to
him that here was the answer to many of his doubts--not a clear vision
of art, but a roughly indicated road to it. It was absurd to sit
cramping over rules and difficult technicalities when the
starting-point of art lay so far beyond them. There was much rubbish
in the show, but the works of Cézanne and Picasso were undeniably
pictures. They were not flooded with a clear loveliness, like the
pictures of Botticelli or Uccello, but they had beauty, and lured the
mind on to seek another more mysterious beauty beyond them.

The two friends went through the exhibition in silence. As they left,
Mendel asked:--

"Well! what did you think of it?"

"We're snuffed out," replied Logan despondently.

"Not I!" cried Mendel. "I'm only just beginning."

"I don't understand it yet. It has made my eyes and my head ache. At
first it seemed to me too cerebral to be art at all, but there's no
denying it, and it has to be digested. In a way it is what I have
always been talking about. It has to do with the life we are living,
which may not be much of a life, but it is ours and we find it good.
It has not been a plunge into another world, like a visit to the
National Gallery, but into some reality a little beyond this
extraordinary jumble and hotch-potch of metropolitan life."

"It is painting," said Mendel. "That is enough for me. And they are
not afraid of colour. Why should they be? The colours are there: why
not use them? I'm going to."

And he went home and dashed off a savage mother with a green face
thrusting a straw-coloured breast into the gaping red lips of a child.

So much for maternity and the Madonnas! He knew how a man loved his
mother, and it was not in that milky way, setting her above nature,
she who was tied and bound to natural, instinctive, animal life. If a
man loved his mother, it was because with her it was the easiest thing
in the world to be intimate and frank and honest and without pretence
of any kind.

His mother was marvellous to him because she was his dearest friend,
not because she had given him suck. That was a fact like any other,
and facts were not marvellous until more and more light was thrown on
them from the mind, for in the murk and muddle of human life they were
distorted.

For Mendel this was the wildest and rarest adventure yet. It was a
flinging of his cap over the windmills, and with it he had the sense
of losing all his troubles, all his perplexities. Nothing for the time
being seemed to matter very much. He had always been denied colour,
and here he had the right to use it because it had been used by other
men rightly. In the world of art, or rather of artists, he had always
been a sort of Ishmael, ever since he had outgrown being a prodigy,
and here was a new world of art where he could be free. . . . True, he
had seen the same things in Paris and had not thought much of them,
but so much had happened since then, and he had passed through the
greatest crisis of his life.

Always after his crises he expected to find himself, and now he
thought he had surely done so. He would be entirely free, completely
independent.

For three weeks he lived between his studio and the gallery, studying
these strange new vibrant pictures and experimenting with their
manners as now this, now that painter influenced him. Picasso baffled
him altogether. These queer, violent, angular patterns actually hurt
him, and he was repelled by their intellectual intensity. Gauguin he
found too easy, Van Gogh too incoherent. It was when he came to
Cézanne that he was bowled out and reduced to impotence and all the
egoistic excitement oozed out of him.

He was not so free then. Here was an art before which he must be
humbled and subdued if he was to understand it at all. He abandoned
his experiments and made no attempt to work at all, but bought a
reproduction of Cézanne's portrait of his wife and spent many days
poring over it. It held him and fascinated him, and yet it looked
almost like the unfinished work of an amateur who could not draw. Of
psychological interest the picture was bare. It was just a portrait of
a woman at peace, with her hands folded in her lap, bathed in a
serenity beyond mortal understanding, though not beyond mortal
perception, since a man had rendered it in paint. It released directly
the swift, soaring emotion which, though it was roused in him by many
pictures and by some poetry--passages in the Bible, for instance--was
quickly entangled in sensual pleasure and never properly set free.
Here, the more he gazed the more that emotion, pure, disinterested,
unearthly, rushed through him, exploring all the caverns in his
imagination and delivering from them new powers of perception. He
felt, as he told Logan afterwards, like a tree putting out its leaves
in the spring.

And yet he could not tell how this miracle was accomplished. No words
could explain it--abstraction, composition, design, none of these
words helped at all. It was not so much the doing of the thing, the
art of the painter, as the setting out of the woman on the canvas
without reference to anything in heaven or earth, or any idea, or any
emotion or desire. It was enough that she was a woman, not especially
beautiful, not particularly remarkable. So perfect a vision had no
need to be tender or affectionate or sensual, or to call in aid any of
the emotions of life. It needed no force but the rare religious
ecstasy which has no need of ideas or common human feelings, and this
vision of a woman gave Mendel a new appreciation of life and love and
art. It gave human beings a new value. It was enough that they were
alive and upon the earth with all that they contained of good and
evil. They were in themselves wonderful, and there was no need to
worry about whence they came or whither they were going, or what was
their relation to God and the universe. In each man, each woman was
enough of God and of the universe to keep them poised for their little
hour.

What, then, was love? What but the sense of being poised, of being
borne up by God, an intimation that could only be won through contact
with life at its purest. And beyond that again lay a further degree of
purity which could only find expression in art, since life, even at
its rarest, was too gross.

Often Mendel kissed his reproduction reverently and hugged it to his
bosom, thinking childishly that some of its spirit could enter into
him by contact. He whispered to it:--

"I love you. You are my truth and my joy rising up through life, even
from its very depths, and shaking free of it at last into pure, serene
beauty. You weigh neither upon my senses nor upon my thoughts, but,
following you, they are joined together to become a high sense which
can know deliverance."

Followed days of a supreme delight. He wandered through the streets
seeing all men and all women and all things as wonderful, since
through them all flowed this lovely spirit which in the few men here
and there could find its freedom and its expression in form.

Through Thompson he met a journalist who was writing a book about the
new painting, and from him he learned the little that was known about
Cézanne: how he worked away experimenting unsuccessfully until he was
middle-aged, and then withdrew from the world of artists in Paris, to
live the life of a simple country bourgeois and to paint the vision
which he had begun to divine: and how he painted out in the fields,
leaving his canvases in the hedges and by the wayside, because not the
painting but the expression of his spirit and the solution of his
problem mattered to him: and how he never sold a single picture, never
attempted to sell them.

Such, thought Mendel, should the life of an artist be. But how was it
possible if life would not let him alone, but was perpetually dragging
him down into the mud? What mud, what filth he had had to flounder
through to get even so far as he had!

And already he began to feel that he was slipping back. He could not
accept that knowledge of the spirit vicariously, but must fight for
his own knowledge of it in direct contact with life. To endeavour to
escape from life was to isolate himself, to lose the driving force of
life from darkness into the light, to dwell in the twilight of
solitude armed only with his puny egoism and the paltry tricks of
professional painting. He felt that at last he knew his desire, but in
no wise how to attain it. Cézanne had had a wife: that had settled one
of the torments of life. He had had ample means: that had absolved him
from the ever-present difficulty of money.

These considerations relieved Mendel from another weighty puzzle.
Perhaps if Cézanne had had to please other people and not only his own
spirit, he would have cared more for his craft and for the quality of
his paint. . . . All the same, it was good to have pictures reduced to
their bare essentials, relieved of ornament and trickery, and yet
retaining their full pictorial quality.

* * * * *

Shortly after the party Logan and Oliver had moved to a little cottage
on Hampstead Heath, just below Jack Straw's Castle. Mendel went to see
them there and met Logan on the Spaniard's Road. He was in a
deplorable condition. His right eye was blackened, his nose was bloody
and scratched, the lobe of his ear was torn and his forehead was
purple with bruises.

"What on earth have you been doing to yourself!" asked Mendel.

"I've had a fight," said Logan glibly. "The other night on the Heath I
came on a man beating a girl. I went for him. He was a huge lout of a
man. We had a terrific tussle, and just as I was getting him down the
girl went for me and scratched my face."

"If you lived where I do," said Mendel, "you would know better than to
interfere."

"Oh! I enjoyed it," said Logan. "I couldn't stand by and see it done."

They ran down the grassy slope to the cottage, where they found Oliver
entertaining Thompson and her critic. She had a slight bruise over her
right eye, and Mendel thought:--

"Why does he lie? Why should he lie to me? I should think no worse of
him for beating her. If I could not shake her off I should kill her."

He was filled with a sudden disgust at the household, which in his
eyes had become an obscene profanation.

The talk was excited, and formerly he would have found it interesting.
Thompson was full of the triumph of the exhibition and its success in
forcing art upon the public. He spoke glibly of abstraction and
cubing, and it was clear that they only delighted him as new tricks.

Oliver took part in the conversation. She had picked up the jargon of
painters and made great play with the names of the new masters. To
hear her talking glibly of Cézanne and saying how he had shown the
object of pictorial art to be pattern filled Mendel's soul with
loathing. He could not protest. What was the good of protesting to
such people? . . . If only Logan had not been among them! He wanted to
talk to Logan, to tell him what this new thing meant, to make him see
that he must give up all thought of turning art back upon life,
because life did not matter so very much. It could look after itself,
while the integrity of art must at all costs be maintained.

However, when Thompson said that the artist was now free to make up a
picture out of any shapes he liked, Mendel could not contain himself,
and said:--

"The artist is no more free than ever he was. He does not become free
by burking representation. He is not free merely to work by caprice
and fantasy. He is rather more strictly bound than ever, because he is
working through his imagination and cannot get out of it merely by
using his eyes and imitating charming things. If he tries to get out
of it by impudent invention, then pictures will be just as dull and
degraded as before."

"'I am Sir Oracle,'" said the critic, "'and when I ope my lips let no
dog bark.'"

"You can bark away," cried Mendel, "but you must not complain if a man
loses patience with you and kicks you back into your kennel."

"Just listen to the boy!" cried Oliver. "Success has turned his pretty
little head. Just listen to him teaching the critics their business!"

Mendel gave her a furious look of contempt and left the room and the
house. Logan came running after him.

"I say, old man," he said, "you mustn't mind what she says. Those damn
fools have stuffed her head up with their nonsense and she hasn't the
brains of a louse."

"If it was my house, I would kick them out."

"They are good fellows enough."

"Good fellows! When they make her more idiotic and blatant than she
is!"

"I can't think what made you so angry. There was nothing to flare up
about. You are so touchy."

Mendel was walking at a furious pace. Logan was out of condition and
had to beg him to go more slowly.

"I'm all to bits," said Logan. "That row----"

"Why do you tell lies? It was she who mauled you. Why do you tell lies
to me? I have never told lies to you about anything. You have always
jeered at women and said they can know nothing about art, and yet you
let her talk. . . . Why don't you leave her?"

"We're very fond of each other," replied Logan. "It has gone too deep.
We hate each other like poison sometimes, but that only makes it--the
real thing--go deeper."

"I can't bear it," said Mendel; "I can't bear it. It was bad enough
when she kept quiet, but now that she gives herself airs and talks, I
can't stand it. I hate her so that I feel as if the top of my head
would blow off. . . . Perhaps there was nothing much in what she said.
Perhaps it was only a slow growing detestation coming to a head. But
there it is. It is final. I have tried to like her, to be decent to
her, to make allowances for her, but it is impossible."

"You don't mean you are not going to come to see us again?"

"Yes. That is what I do mean. She doesn't exist for me any longer. If
I met her in a café or in the streets she would be all right. She
would be in her place. There would be some truth in her. In connection
with you she is a festering lie."

"She can't settle down to it," replied Logan lamely, ashamed of his
inability to defend Oliver from this onslaught. Defence would be quite
useless, for he knew that Mendel would detect his untruth. If only
Mendel were a little older, if only he could have grown out of youth's
dreadful inability to compromise.

"She can't settle down," Logan continued. "She is a creature of
enormous vitality and she has no life outside herself, no imagination.
Can't you see that her vitality has no outlet? I don't know, but it
seems to me appalling to think of these modern women with their
independence, and nothing at all to do with it. They won't admit the
authority of the male, and they have broken out of the home. A lot of
them refuse to have children. I feel sorry for them."

"Don't go on talking round and round the subject," cried Mendel
wrathfully. He was really alarmed and pained as he saw himself being
carried nearer and nearer to a breach with his friend. "I can't feel
sorry for her and I don't. She is ruining you. You never laugh
nowadays. You are always more dead than alive, and I cannot bear to
see you with her. I cannot bear even to think of you with her."

"For God's sake, don't talk like that!" muttered Logan, quickening his
pace to keep up, for Mendel was flying along.

"You must either give her up or me," said Mendel.

"Don't say that!" pleaded Logan; "don't say that! I can't get on
without you. I don't see how I can get on without you. All the
happiness I have ever had has come through you. Every hope I have is
centred in you. If you go, life will become nothing but work, work,
work, with nobody to understand. Nobody. . . . And I have been so full
of hope. All this new business has made such a stir and has brought
such life into painting that I had begun to feel that anything was
possible. There might be even a stirring of the spirit to stem the
tide of commercialism. You know what my life has been--one long
struggle to find a way out of the pressure of vulgarity and sordid
money-making, out of sentimentality and pretty lying fantasy, out of
the corruption that from top to bottom is eating up the life of the
country. You know that when I met you I had almost given up the
struggle in despair. One man alone could not do it. But two men
could--two men who trusted and believed in each other. . . . You were
very young when I first met you, but you have come on wonderfully. It
has been thrilling for me to watch the growth of your mind and the
strengthening of your character. You are the only man I ever met who
could really stand by himself. . . . It isn't easy for me to say all
this, but I must tell you what your friendship has meant to me."

The more Logan talked, the more he divulged his feelings, his very
real affection, the more Mendel's mind was concentrated on the one
purpose, to get him away from Oliver.

"You must give her up," he said.

"I can't," gasped Logan.

They stood facing each other, Mendel staring into his friend's eyes
that looked piteously, wearily, miserably out of his haggard, battered
face. He could not endure it, and he could not yield to the entreaty
in Logan's eyes.

He turned quickly and ran to a bus which had stopped a few yards in
front. He rushed up the steps and was whirled away. Unable to resist
turning round, he saw Logan standing where he had left him, with his
head bowed, his shoulders hunched up, a figure of shameful misery.

After some minutes of numbness, of trying to gather up the threads
snapped off by his astonishment at the quickness of the affair, Mendel
began to tremble. His hands and his knees shook, and he could not
control them. It was only gradually that he began to realize how
strong his feelings had been, and how great the horror and the shock
of knowing through and through, without blinking a single fact, the
terrible relationship that bound Logan and Oliver--tied together in an
insatiable sensuality, locked in a deadly embrace, like beasts of prey
fighting over carrion: a furious, evil conflict over a dead lust.
. . . At the same time he knew that he was bound with them, that in
their life together he had his share, and that it was dragging him
down, down from the ecstatic exaltation he had perceived in his new
friend, Cézanne, a friend who could never fail, a friend upon whom no
devastation could alight, a friend through whom he could never be
clawed back into life.

By the time he reached home he was completely exhausted, and begged
his mother to make him a cup of strong tea.

"What is it now?" Golda asked. "What is the trouble? There is always
something new, and I think you will never be a man. For a man expects
trouble and does not make himself ill over it."

"I have quarrelled with Logan," said Mendel, dropping with relief into
Yiddish as a barrier against the outer world, in which terrible things
were always happening.

"A good job too!" said Golda; "a good job too! He was no good to you.
He only made you do the work that nobody likes. Now you can go back to
the old way, and Mr. Froitzheim and Mr. Birnbaum will be pleased with
you again. . . . You had better give up your friends. You are like a
woman, the way you must always be in love with your friends. . . . But
it is no good. Men will always fall in love, and then it is over with
friendship. . . . Friends are only for moments. They come and
disappear and come again. It is foolish to think you can keep them.
. . . Is your head bad?"

"Pretty bad."

"You have not been drinking again?"

"No. I've been leading a decent life. I expect it doesn't suit me."

"Rubbish. . . . Rosa says the Christian girl has been to see you."

He leaped to his feet.

"Didn't she stay? Didn't you make her stay? What did she say? How did
she look? Did she leave no message?"

Golda smiled at him.

"You had better go and see," she said.

He darted from the room and across to his studio panting with
excitement, persuading himself at every step that she was there,
waiting for him, perhaps hiding to tease him, for she was a terrible
tease.

By the time he reached his studio he was so convinced that she was
there that he hardly dared open the door. He pushed it open very
gently and peered in. The room was empty, but he felt sure that she
was there. He peeped round the corner into his bedroom. She was not
there. He had to believe it, and came dejectedly back into the studio.

On his painting-table were autumn flowers daintily arranged in the old
jug he used for a vase. He buried his face in them. She was there! She
was there in the sweetness and fragrance of the flowers.



VII

CONFLICT

MORRISON had fought bravely through her storms and difficulties. She
frightened Clowes with the violence of her efforts and the terrible
strain she inflicted on her vitality. There were times when she
thought the simplest way would be to cut adrift from all her old
associations and to throw in her lot with Mendel, to give him his
desire and so save him from the terrible life he was leading. But that
was too drastic, too simple. She could only have done it on a great
impulse, but always her deepest feelings shrank from it, and without
her deepest feelings she could not go to him, for they were engaged
most of all. . . . She felt cramped and confined, as though her love
were a cord wound round and round her limbs, and she could not, she
would not go to him bound. He must release her; she must compel him to
release her. If it took half her lifetime she would so compel him. Her
will was concentrated upon him. She would not have their love droop
from the high sympathy it had known, nor should it be torn from it by
his savage strength and the adorable violence of his passion. Neither,
on the other hand, would she turn back from him. That would be to deny
her freedom which she had bought so dearly. She had thought her
freedom would give her the easy joy of flowers and clouds and birds,
and she still believed in that easy joy, but it lay beyond the tangled
web of this love for the strange, dark, faunlike creature whom she had
found in the woods. If she turned back, if she denied the urgent
emotions that drove her on, she had nothing to turn to but the old
captivity, the life where all difficulties were arranged for, where
all roads led to marriage, where men could only talk to women in a
half-patronizing, half-flirtatious way that led to a ridiculous
meeting of the senses, then to an engagement, and so to church. To
that she would never, never return. She had fought her way out of it.
She had learned to live by herself, within herself, to wrestle with
her thoughts and emotions and to get them into shape. (It had been at
a great cost to her external tidiness and orderliness, but that too
she hoped to tackle in time.) She had won all this, and she had found
a glorious outlet in work. So far as she had gone she had been
successful, and she was ambitious, terribly ambitious, to show that a
woman could do good work.

And then there was the dark side of Mendel's life--Logan, Oliver,
Jessie Petrie. At the thought of it she shuddered, but her honesty
made her confess that it made no difference to her central feeling. It
had shocked her, outraged her, roused her to a fury of jealousy, but
that she would not have. She fought it down inch by inch until she had
it so well in control that, whenever it reared its head, she could
crush it down.

Many a tear had it cost her, but she insisted that she must
understand.

When she cut her hair short, she found, to her horror, that it was
taken by many men as a sign that she was open to their advances, and
all sorts and conditions of men had found to their astonishment that,
although she was an artist and lived an independent life, she was
immovable, and when it came to argument she was more than a match for
them.

Again, she had had the confidence of more than one of the models, and
she knew how they courted their own disasters. If there was to be any
question of blame, the women must share it with the men.

She had no thought of blaming Mendel, but she hated to have that
underworld in contact with the world which it was her whole desire to
keep beautiful. It was no good pretending that the underworld was not
there, but if she could have her way she would keep a tight control
over it, and suppress it as she suppressed her jealousy, that other
source of ugliness. If she could only, somehow, find an entrance to
Mendel's life, not only to his rare moments, but to the life that went
on from day to day, she would suppress it, she would cut it out and
throw it away. She thought of it almost as a surgical operation, or as
cutting a bruise out of an apple, for all her thoughts of life were as
simple as herself, and life too was simple in her eyes. Anything that
threatened to complicate it she expunged.

After a time she discovered that it was no good hoping to understand
so long as she regarded the dark aspect of Mendel from outside his
life. She must find her way inside it and see how it looked there.
That was hard.

Clowes could not help her at all. To Clowes it was simply
unintelligible that men could do these things. They bewildered her,
and her only way out of it was to suppose that men were like that, and
the less said about it the better. She was really very annoyed with
Morrison for worrying over it, and she was disappointed. She had hoped
that the unfortunate adventure would be over and that Morrison would
wait tranquilly for her affections to be engaged by someone who
was--presentable. . . . Still, there was no accounting for this
strange, impulsive creature, though it was a pity she should throw
away her growing popularity with people who were, after all,
important, both in themselves and by their position; for Morrison's
frank charm carried her to places where Clowes would have given her
eyes to be seen. Clowes was baffled by her friend, but she would not
abandon her. She was often bored with her, often exasperated, and more
than once she said:--

"Well, if you like these wild people so much, why don't you take the
plunge and join them? You are wild enough yourself."

"I'm not wild in that way," replied Morrison. "And I know that if I
did do it it would be wrong."

And she returned to her task of labouring to understand Mendel. She
carried the idea of him wherever she went, and was sometimes able to
call up a clear image of him, and she was fearful for him because he
seemed to her so helpless, so much a stranger in a strange land, so
easily caught up in any strong current of feeling or enthusiasm. . . .
She, too, often felt outside things, but she so much enjoyed being a
looker-on. She loved to watch the race among the young artists, and
she longed for Mendel to win. It was right that he should win, because
he was so much the best of them all. He had taken the lead. It had
looked as though he must infallibly win, and then Logan had appeared
and he had stumbled in his stride.

Yet this had never been satisfying. She had no right to turn Mendel
into a figure on a frieze, to see him in the flat, as it were, and it
was in revolt against this conception that she had agreed to go with
him to Logan's party, which had been so disastrous. . . . Had she not
been cowardly to run away? But what could she do, what else could she
do, when confronted so suddenly with the appalling fact?

A week before the party Mendel had insisted on lending her "Jean
Christophe" volume by volume. She had read the first without great
interest. The friendship between the two boys struck her as silly and
sentimental and not worth writing about, and she had read no further.
However, when she found that Mendel was becoming a fixed idea, to
escape from it she took up the second volume, and was enthralled by
the tale of Christophe's love for Ada, thrilled by the sudden scene of
his assault on the peasant girl in the field, and with a growing sense
of illumination followed his life as it passed from woman to woman,
finding consolation with one, relief with another, comfort with
another, comradeship with yet another, and the physical relationship
slipped into its place and was never dominant. And Christophe, too,
had had women of passage because his vitality was so abundant that it
could not be contained in his being. It must be always flowing out
into art or into life, taking from life more and more power to give to
art. . . . With Gratia she was out of patience. Gratia was altogether
too complacent an Egeria. Morrison thought she could have given
Christophe more than that.

She made Clowes read the book, but Clowes found it no help. That was
in a story, this was actually happening in London; and besides, the
book had a rhapsodic, dreamlike quality that smoothed away all
ugliness, all difficulties. In life things were definitely ugly, and
it was no good pretending they were anything else.

"Anyhow," said Morrison, "I'm going on."

"You are going to see him again?"

"Yes, I will not be beaten. If I were married to him I should put up
with everything, and I don't see why not being married should make any
difference."

Clowes threw up her hands and said:--

"Well, if you come to grief, don't blame me."

"I'm not going to come to grief," said Morrison. "I'm going to
win--I'm going to win."

It was then that she went out and bought the flowers. Her courage
nearly failed her as she approached the door in the little slummy
street. Suppose he should be angry with her for running away, and
contemptuous of her cowardice! His anger and contempt were not easy
things to face.

She was relieved, therefore, when the dirty little Jewish servant
opened the door and told her Mendel was out. She handed in the flowers
shyly and went away without a word.

* * * * *

Mendel wrote to thank her for the flowers, but said nothing about
going to see her or about what he was doing. She thought he must be
contemptuous of her, though it was not like him to be so stupid as not
to respond to a direct impulse. On the other hand, he had always tried
to impose his authority on her, and she was not going to do his
bidding. Either he must take her on her own level or not at all. She
would make him understand that she too was driving at something, and
that love was to her not an end in itself, much though she might
desire love and its freedom. He had always made her feel that he
regarded love as sufficient for her. She must curl up in it and be
happy while he went on with his work. Against that all the free
instinct in her cried out. A woman was not a mere embryo to be
incubated in a man's passion, hatched out into a wife and a helpmate.
. . . When she tried to imagine what life with him would be like, she
shivered until she thought what life with him might be if she could
bring to it all her force and all her freedom.

At last she began to think that perhaps it was her own fault for not
having left a note or a message with the flowers, which might be
regarded only as a token of sentimental forgiveness. She knew how
easily he was sickened by any sign of Christian
sentimentality--"filthy gush" as he called it. . . . To safeguard
against that and to have done with it once and for all, she wrote to
him and told him that she had been reading "Jean Christophe," and that
it had helped her to understand both his sufferings and his need of
what in an ordinary foolish vain man would have to be condemned.

To this letter he did not reply, and she determined that she would go
and see him. She would take Clowes, in case things had become
impossible and their sympathy had somehow been undermined and
destroyed. Even if it were, she would not accept or believe it, and
she would fight to restore it. A vague intuition took possession of
her by which she surely knew that something strange, perhaps even
terrible, was happening to him, and she felt that he needed her but
did not know his need.

It required some persuasion to take Clowes down to Whitechapel. She
declared that she would stand by her friend whatever happened, but
that she did not wish to be personally mixed up in it. It would, she
said, make her in part responsible for whatever happened, and she did
not think she could bear it. However, Morrison explained that she only
wanted her there in case things were impossible, and that, if they
were not, she could make good her escape as soon as she liked. On that
Clowes consented and they journeyed to the East End.

The little Jewish servant said that Mr. Mendel was engaged. Would she
go up and see if he would soon be disengaged? She ran upstairs and
came down in a moment to ask if they would wait, and to their
surprise, darted past them, along the street, beckoned to them to
follow, and led them to Golda's kitchen. Golda bobbed to them, dusted
chairs for them to sit on, and, not knowing enough English to be able
to talk to them, went on with her ironing. When she had finished that,
she shyly produced an album and showed them all the photographs of
Mendel since he was a baby.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, in his studio Mendel was in agitated conversation with Mr.
Tilney Tysoe, who had arrived half an hour before, wagging his hands,
rolling his enormous eyes, almost demented by the lamentable news he
had to tell. Logan had left Oliver!

"When?" asked Mendel.

"A few days ago," said Tysoe. "The poor fellow came round to me one
night after dinner. You know, he often drops in in the evening. Such a
splendid fellow, so sincere, such a force! And his admiration for you
is very touching. He came in and raved like a madman and said terrible
things--oh, terrible things! He told me that I was a fool and did not
know a picture from my foot, and he denounced himself as a scoundrel
and a thief and a liar. He wanted me to destroy all the pictures I had
bought from him, and said they were not worth the stretchers of the
canvas they were painted on. . . . Oh! it was terrible, terrible! He
said that for years he had been pulling my leg, and had got such a
taste for it that he had begun to pull his own leg, and he went on to
say that his soul was rotten with lies; and then he broke into a
torrent of wild, splendid stuff that made my spine tingle. I assure
you, I could not contain my enthusiasm. . . . Oh! he is a splendid
fellow. . . . I can't remember it all very well, but he said that love
is impossible in the world as it is, and that everybody is living in
hate. It sounded most true--most true--though you know I adore my
wife. . . . He said that humanity has tried aristocracy and failed,
and it has tried democracy and failed. It has swung from one extreme
to the other and found satisfaction in neither, and now it must bend
the two extremes together so as to get the electric spark which can
illumine life, and also to create a circle in which life can be
contained. Of course, I haven't got it at all clear, but it was most
inspiring--most inspiring. Certainly life is very unsatisfactory, and
it must be maddening for artists, maddening, though of course it
should drive them on to make a mighty effort. We are all looking to
the artists nowadays, especially since that wonderful exhibition."

"Yes, yes," said Mendel impatiently; "but what about Logan?"

"He told me you had quarrelled with him. Such a pity! Dear me! dear
me! You were such a splendid pair, so sincere. He said it was
irrevocable. But, you know, 'The falling out of faithful friends
renewing is of love.' Have you read the Oxford 'Book of Verse'? A
storehouse of poetry. . . . I came to see you for that reason.
Quarrels ought not to be irrevocable. . . . I have been to see Oliver
too. Poor girl! poor girl! I am keeping their little nest at Hampstead
for them. . . . I told Logan he ought to marry her. Of course, I know,
artists have their own view on that subject, but there is a great deal
to be said for marriage. Most people are married, you know, and a
woman who is not married must feel out of it. Nothing to do with
morality, of course, but you know what women are. They can't bear even
their clothes to be different, and, after all, marriage is only a
garment which we wear for decency's sake."

"But where is Logan?"

"That I don't know," said Tysoe. "Oliver said he would be here. She
said it was your fault that they had quarrelled. . . . Poor girl! So
pretty too! . . . I thought if you made it up with Logan, then he
could make it up with her and we should all be happy again. We might
have a nice little dinner of reconciliation at my house."

"It is no use, no use whatever," said Mendel. "Logan might go back to
her, but he will never come back to me. We have gone different ways,
not only in life, but in our work."

"You won't make it up?" asked Tysoe plaintively.

"No," answered Mendel. "I should like to, but it is impossible. It is
very good of you to try to intervene. Logan was my friend. He is no
longer the same man. He is altered, he is changed, he is done for."

"Nothing could ruin a man like that. It is disastrous, it is terrible
that he should lose his friend and the girl he loves at one stroke.
Kühler, I implore you, I entreat you, if he comes to see you, you will
not refuse him."

"If he comes I will see him, certainly," said Mendel.

"Ah! That is all I want," said Tysoe, beaming hopefully.

"But he will not come."

"We shall find a way. We shall find a way. . . . Ah! superb!" he
added, catching sight of Mendel's green-faced _Mother._ "Ah! The new
spirit at work in your art. Colour! What you have always wanted! . . .
How--how much?"

"Ten pounds," said Mendel.

"May I take it with me? I will send you my cheque."

Mendel wrapped the picture up in brown paper and gave it him, told him
he must go, thanked him for his kindness, and with unutterable relief
watched him go shambling down the stairs.

* * * * *

It was very certain that Logan would not come. There could be nothing
but futile suffering for both of them, and Logan would know that as
well as he. Logan knew himself better than most men, and he must have
felt the finality of that parting in the street. The breach was final
and irrevocable, for Oliver was definitely a part of Logan, as much a
part of him as his hand or his eyes, and Mendel hated Oliver with a
pure, simple, immovable passion. He saw in her embodied the natural
enemy of all that he loved: order, decency, honesty, art, and beauty.
He would have liked to blot out all trace of her everywhere, but she
lived most intensely in his mind. She existed for him hardly at all as
a person, but as an evil, fixed will set on the destruction of Logan,
of friendship, of art, of love, of beauty, of everything that lived
distinctly and clearly and with a flame-like energy. She existed to
drag all down into the glowing ashes of lust and lies. There were
times when she became symbolical of that Christian world that had made
him suffer so intensely. In her was the only discernible will of that
world in which everything was losing shape and form, every flame was
dying down, and everything, good and bad, was being reduced to ashes.

"Good and bad?" thought Mendel. "I don't know what they mean. I know
what is false and what is true. What is false I hate. What is true I
love. That woman is a lie and I hate her, and I wish she were dead."

Logan might hate her too, but he would always try, always hope to love
her, always waste himself in trying to kindle her lust into a passion.
The fool, the weak fool! Let her rot; let her drop down to her own
level, where she could be decently a beast of prey, marked out to be
shunned except by those who were her natural victims. Logan was too
good: but if there was so much good in him, might not something be
done? . . . No. Only Logan's own will could save him. Nothing could be
done for him except out of pity: and who wants pity? Leave that to men
like Tysoe, the kindly, emasculate fools of the world.

Yet Mendel knew that he was bound to Logan. At first he thought it
must be by pity, but it was deeper than that. There was not much
capacity for pity in Mendel. Ruthless with himself, he could see no
reason why others should be spared what he himself was ready to
endure. He had never thought that others might be weaker than he.
Logan, for instance, with ten years' more experience behind him, had
always seemed infinitely stronger.

And so Logan had left Oliver! There must have been a terrible row.
. . . Oh, well, he would go back to her. There would be no end to the
affair, there could be no end unless Logan were strong enough to stand
by himself. But when had he ever tried to do that? Even in his work he
borrowed here and there. Mendel was sure now that all Logan's work had
grown out of his own, and was often, by some amazing sleight of mind,
an anticipation of his own ideas. That explained a good deal: his
growing sense that Logan was really his enemy, and was cramping and
thwarting him, a sense that endured even after the quarrel. It was
strong upon him now. Tysoe had brought Logan vividly to his mind and
made him feel impotent, possessed by a vision of art but unable to
move a step towards it, rather dragged further and further away from
it. He was ashamed when he thought of how often he had excitedly
followed Logan's lead, only to come now to this discovery that he was
brought back to his own inchoate ideas. . . . He was reminded oddly of
the journalist who had interviewed him after his first success and had
produced so grotesque a parody of his innocently conceited remarks.

A tap at the door reminded him of the "two young ladies" who were
waiting to see him. He rushed eagerly to the door and flung it open,
thinking to find healing and refreshment in the sight of Morrison.
Only Clowes was standing there, and in his disappointment her face
seemed to him so foolish and flabby and idiotic that his impulse was
to shut the door. . . . He would bang the door in her face and it
would shut out the Christian world for ever. It did not want him, and
he did not want it, for it was full of lies. . . . Then he heard a
footstep on the stairs and Morrison appeared.

"Come in," he said. "Come in."

"I can't stay long," said Clowes nervously.

"All right," he replied.

Morrison reached the top of the stairs, and he stood looking at her.

"How are you?"

"I'm very well."

She was horrified at the change in him. He looked so tragic and drawn.

"Clowes can't stop long," she said. "But I'll stop, if I may. I should
like to."

"I'm afraid I haven't got anything to show you. I haven't been working
lately."

"It seems to be a pretty general complaint," said Clowes. "Everybody
is so upset by the French pictures. I should like to shake that
Thompson until his teeth rattled. He is so pleased with himself."

"He's an awful man," muttered Mendel. "He seems to think he told
Cézanne and Van Gogh how to do it. There seems to be a whole army of
men ready to take the credit of a thing when someone else has done it.
I suppose they are all talking like mad."

"What is so astonishing is that these things are actually selling, and
people who never sold a picture in their lives dab a few straight
lines on a picture and off it goes."

Mendel laughed.

"I've just sold one," he said. "I came straight back from the
exhibition and painted it. They sell just as if they were a new kind
of toy that is all the rage."

So they kept up a cheerful rattle of conversation until Clowes said
she really must go. No; she would not have tea, but she hoped Mendel
would come to tea with her one day.

He saw her to the front door and ran upstairs again, three steps at a
time.

"Now, then," he said, "what have you come for, and why did you bring
her?"

"In case there was nothing to be said and this visit was another
failure. I'm sick of failure; aren't you?"

"I didn't answer your letter. I thought it was all over."

"But I told you what had made me change."

"It was nothing to do with that. Everything seemed all over, and I'm
not sure even now that it isn't."

"I knew something was happening to you. What is it?"

"I've quarrelled with Logan."

She was silent for a moment or two, and then she said:--

"I'm so glad."

"You didn't like him. Why?"

"I thought him second-rate."

"He isn't that. He has a good mind, and he was a good friend."

"Are you so sure of that?"

"Of some things in him--of his affection, for instance--I am as sure
as I am of myself."

She smiled at him.

"Yes. That is saying a good deal. But why did you quarrel?"

"It was over his woman."

"Oh yes!"

"He has left her."

"Has he been to see you?"

"No. It was a friend of his. I don't know what will happen. They are
bound to come together again. Perhaps they will go through life like
that--parting and coming together again. I can't get it out of my
head. I shall never forget it. It is like my father knocking a drunken
soldier down with a glass. I never forget that, though it was
different. That was just something that I saw. This is in my own life.
I feel as though it had somehow happened through me. I was with him
when he met her, you know, and his whole life changed when he met me.
Perhaps he wasn't meant to take things seriously. . . . I didn't write
to you because I didn't want to drag you into it. But I'm glad you've
come. I'm glad you've come. . . . You know, it was beginning to be a
horror with me that Logan would come in at that door, looking like a
poor, battered, broken little Napoleon, and I should have to tell him
that I was not his friend. . . . You know, he was something vital and
living in my work, but Cézanne has kicked him out. He was only my
friend really in my work, and if that goes everything goes. I couldn't
explain it to him, for he wouldn't understand. He used to laugh at me
for talking about my work to you. I'm afraid I told him more about you
than I ought to have done, but, you see, he was my friend. He laughed
at everything. He ought to have been a very happy man, the way he
laughed at everything."

He placed in her hands his reproduction of Cézanne's portrait of his
wife.

"That's better than Cranach," he said.

"But why is her mouth crooked?" asked Morrison, puzzled by the picture
and by his setting it above Cranach.

"I don't know," replied Mendel, "but Cézanne knew when he did it."

And he tried to explain the making of the picture, but she could not
understand it. However, she could understand and love his enthusiasm,
and they were both happy, talking rather aimlessly and often relapsing
into silence.

"I never can make out," he said, "why you are more wonderful to me
than anybody else. Directly I am with you, I am not so much happy as
free. Even if I am miserable and you don't make me any happier, I want
you with me. . . . You mustn't go away again."

"No. I don't want to go away."

"Why need you actually go? Why shouldn't you stay here now? Stay with
me. Don't go. Don't think of going. I want you always with me. . . .
If you don't like the place we will find another studio and go there.
And if you want to be married we can get married at once. I have
nearly a hundred pounds in the bank."

He knelt by her side and held her knees in his two hands. She took his
face in her hands and said gently:--

"You mustn't talk like that, Mendel. Please don't think I don't love
you because I don't want you to talk like that. It is the first thing
to come into your mind, but with me it is almost the last thing. I
want love to be very, very beautiful before it comes to me. I want
love to be as beautiful to me as that picture of Cézanne's is to you.
Do you understand me?"

He sprang to his feet and turned away from her.

"No, I don't!" he shouted; "no, I don't!"

He was wildly angry. Her words had acted like salt upon his raw
feelings.

"No, I don't understand you. You want love to be like art. You want to
mix love up with art. Love belongs to life. Love is rich and ripe and
warm. You want it to be like the dew on the grass. It can't be!--it
can't be! Love bursts out of a man's body into his soul, and you want
it to live in his soul and to leave him with an impotent, cold body.
You want me to bend to your woman's will, for you know I cannot break
away from you. You are with your soul like Oliver with her body. You
are with your love like Oliver with her lust, and Logan and I are a
pair--a miserable, broken pair."

"Oh!" she cried, hiding her face in her hands. "You are wrong, wrong,
hideously wrong. You have understood nothing at all. Your mind has
rushed away with you. For God's sake be quiet for a little, to see if
we can't get it straight."

His desire was to batter down her opposition, yet he could not but
realize that she was too strong, and that he would only do grievous
and useless harm. He controlled himself, therefore, and was silent. At
last he grunted:--

"Can't you make me see what you mean?"

"It isn't a thing I could say in cold blood," she said.

He moved towards her, but she held up her hands to ward him off.

"No, no!'" she almost whispered. "That only makes my heart grow colder
and colder until it aches."

"Do you mean that you--don't--want me?"

"Foolish, foolish, foolish!" she said. "If you loved me one tenth part
as much as I love you, you would know what I mean."

"I don't," he said simply. "I don't, honestly I don't. Perhaps you are
so beautiful to me that I am blinded with it."

Of the truth of her feeling against him he had no doubt, but though he
laboured bitterly to understand it, he could make nothing of it. He
was driven back on his simple need for her.

"Very well," he said; "if it makes you feel like that for me to touch
you, I never will. Only don't talk of loving me more than I love you.
It isn't true."

"Yes. It was silly of me to say that," she agreed. "It isn't true."

"What do you want, then?"

"I want to share as much of your life as I can."

"It is a bleak, grimy business, a good deal of it."

"I want to share it."

"There is a good deal in it that will horrify you."

"I must get used to that. . . . When I am in London I want you to
promise that you will see me at least once a week."

"There are seven days in the week. Let it be seven times."

She laughed at that.

"And some day," she went on, "I want to take you down into the
country."

He began to suspect her of wanting to meddle with his work.

"I don't want the country," he rapped out. "I am a Londoner. All the
life I care about is in the streets and in the houses, in the
restaurants and the shops, and the costers' barrows and the cinemas
and the picture galleries. That is why I live here, because I love the
coarse, thrumming vitality all round me."

"But _I_ want the country," she said, "and you should know the life
_I_ love."

For a moment it seemed to him that the key to the mystery she talked
of was in his hands. He clutched at it and it evaded him, but his
idolatry of her was shaken, and he began dimly to see her as a
creature like himself, with feelings, thoughts, desires, and a will.
There was no doubt at all about the will, and he had to recognize it.



VIII

OLIVER

THEN began a period of quiet, happy friendship for them both. Mendel
was astonishingly amenable to many of her disciplinary suggestions and
allowed her to cut his hair (though not without thinking of Delilah),
and when she ordered him to get some new clothes he went off
obediently to a friend of Issy's and had a suit made--West End style
at East End prices.

"You will soon have me looking like a Public School gentleman," he
said.

"Never!" she replied. "You will never move like one--thank goodness."

"Why thank goodness?"

"Because they walk about as though they owned the earth and the
fatness thereof, as though the earth existed for them to walk about on
it without their needing even to look at it to see how beautiful it
is."

"That's like Logan," he said. "He used always to be railing against
the English. He said they had no eyes, only stomachs. But I think the
English must be the nicest people in the world, for there is no place
like London for living in."

Indeed, they both thought there could be no place like London. Once or
twice a week they dined together at the Pot-au-Feu and went on to a
party or to a music-hall or to the cinema, which he adored. He said it
gave him ideas for pictures and that there were often wonderful
momentary pictures thrown on the screen.

"The cinema does what the bad artists have been trying to do for
generations. It is a great relief to have it done by a machine. The
artist need not any more try to be a machine. There is no need for him
now to please the public. He can leave all that to the machine and go
straight for art. The few decent people will follow him, and what more
does he want? Art is not for the fools. . . . Logan was wrong. He
wanted art to go to the people. That is all wrong. The people must
come up to art. When they are sick of the machine, art is there, ready
for them." He added naïvely, "I shall be there, waiting for them."

He loved especially the dramas, when they were not clogged and
obscured with sentimentality. The simple values that governed them,
the triumph of virtue and the downfall of evil, appealed to him as
solid, as related to a process, a drama, that went on in himself, and,
he supposed, in everybody else. It worried and annoyed him when
Morrison made fun of these values and jeered at them.

"But things don't work like that," she protested.

"I think they do," he said.

"Good people are often crushed," she replied, "and bad people often
have things all their own way."

"But it is inside people that it happens like that. False people have
their souls eaten away with lies, and true people have free, happy
souls like yours. Being rich or poor, or what you call good or bad,
has nothing to do with it. Yes. It is inside people that it happens
like that, and I am more often the villain than the hero inside
myself."

"It seems absurd to me, and I can't think why you should take it
seriously."

"It is because you are so idiotically good. You have only one side to
your nature. You are like a heroine in your Dickens."

"I'm not. I'm sure I'm not. I'm bad-tempered and mean and unjust."

"You don't even know how bad I am. You have no more idea of what my
life is like than a rose has of an onion's."

"I don't like onions."

"That's the trouble. You don't like the smell of onions, and so you
don't eat them. Very poor people live on bread and onions and they
find them good. I have no patience with you. You want to be a rose
growing in a sheltered English garden."

"I don't. I don't want anything of the kind."

"A wild rose, then; and you have no right to want such a life. You are
not a flower. You are a human being, and you can't have a sheltered
life, or a summer hedgerow life, because you have truth and falsehood
in you, and if you will not live for the truth you will die for the
falsehood. That is why cinemas are good and theatres are rotten. All
the plays are false, because they have forgotten truth and falsehood
and are all about being rich or poor, or old or young, or married or
unmarried, and in the worst plays of all they are about people
pretending to be children so as to get out of the whole thing. I hate
you sometimes when you seem to be trying that game of refusing to be
grown up, denying your own feelings and letting men love you and
pretending you don't know what it is all about."

"I never do that," she cried indignantly.

"I'm not so sure," he said, unable to resist the temptation to press
home the advantage he had won in rousing her out of her placid
happiness. "I'm not so sure. There are too many girls do that."

"I don't. I may have done it. But I have never done it with you. It is
a wicked lie to say anything of the kind."

"You can't blame me if I catch at any idea that will help me to
understand you."

"You never will, if you go grubbing about with your mind."

"Oh! my mind is no good, is it? Then take your hands off my feelings.
They'll understand you right enough."

"No. They won't."

"Why not?"

"Because they're blind."

"Good God! What am I to do, then?"

"Wait."

"How long?"

"Till you can see."

"I never shall see more than I do now. If you love me, why don't you
love me as I am?"

"I do. But you don't know what you are--yet, and you don't know what I
am."

"I know what I want."

"It isn't what I want."

"If you knew at all what I wanted, you would want it too."

"What is it?"

"Love."

"You've got it."

"You don't call this love?"

"I do."

"Then I don't. It is just playing the fool--wasting time."

"It isn't wasting time. We are much better friends than we were."

"I don't want to be friends. I've had enough of friends. They have
never done me any good. It's a silly, thin kind of happiness at best."

"It is better than no happiness at all, which the other would be."

"How can you say that?" he cried, revolted. "How can you say that?
Every thought, every dream I have is centred on it. It is such
happiness that my imagination, is baffled by it."

"Please let us stop talking about it. We are only getting horribly at
cross-purposes."

He had learned when it was wise to stop, but he needed every now and
then the assurance that her serene confidence was shot with doubt.
Once or twice when he had tried to thrust her back on her doubts she
had flared up, and had fought tooth and nail, declaring that she would
never see him again. And, as he knew she meant it, he yielded, and
said that any sacrifice was better than that.

On her part, as she came more nearly to see his point of view, she was
often shaken and tempted to admit that he was right. There was no
looseness or formlessness about his ideas. He lived in a world that
apparently made room for everything, a world in which he stood solidly
on his feet while the waves of life broke upon him, and he only
absorbed into himself that which his passions needed. It was a plain,
simple world, where good and evil were equally true, and, apparently,
largely a matter of chance--a world in which he was gloriously
independent. But was he free? Sometimes she thought that he was
amazingly free. His only prejudice seemed to be against pink, fleshy
young men who had to do nothing for a living--young men like her
brothers, for instance, of whom she had drawn an amusing series of
caricatures showing the effect of introducing Mendel to them. . . .
Sometimes she wondered if her own longing for freedom was not just her
ignorance, just a craven desire to escape from knowing anything about
life, to remain an amused but fundamentally indifferent onlooker. And
when she had to face the suffering she inflicted on him, then she was
often moved to cry out within herself:--

"Oh! Take me, take me! Have your will. It will make an end of it all,
and you will pass on and forget me, but you will no longer suffer
through me."

But she could not bend her own will, which insisted that the treasure
she desired lay through him, and that he needed it even more than she.
It was because of his need that he clung to her through all his
suffering and exasperation. . . . Why, why was he so blind that he
could not see it? Why could he, who was so sure and so strong, not see
what was to her so clear through all her vacillation and all the
confusion of her idealism? . . . She tried to make him read English
poetry, but he could make little of it, and said none of it was worth
the Bible. He declared that Shelley wrote romantical nonsense, because
men could never be made perfect, and it was cruelly absurd to try
it--like dressing a monkey up in human clothes. And he countered by
making her read "Candide."

"When you have been through as much as Cunegonde," he said, "I'll
believe in your purity."

"It isn't purity that I'm fussing about."

"What is it, then?"

"Don't let us begin it all over again."

They found common ground in Blake, whom Mendel consented to read
because Blake was the only English painter who had had any idea of art
at all.

Blake brought them much closer together, and their tussles were
sharper, but less futile and exasperating.

"Why don't you take a lesson from Mrs. Blake?" he asked, after they
had read the Life.

"What? And sit and hold your hand? You'd turn round and hit me."

"I believe I would," he laughed. "By Jove! I believe I would."

* * * * *

He was not easy for her to handle. It was like playing with high
explosives, save that she was not playing.

She said to him once, when they had come very near the intimacy she
desired:--

"I believe you would understand me if only you could let go."

"How can I let go," he roared, "when I feel that you are weighing and
judging and criticizing every word I say, every thing I do?"

And she was silent for a long time. It was a new and dreadful idea,
that she was hemming him in by making him feel that she was judging
him. It was so far from her intention that she protested:--

"I am not judging you. I accept you just as you are."

"Accept!" he grumbled. "Accept! When you keep me at arm's-length!"

"I go as far as we can, then it breaks down."

"What breaks down?"

"I don't know what to call it. Sympathy, if you like."

"Oh! then if it breaks down it isn't any good, and we may as well give
it up for ever. I will learn to shuffle along without you."

"I won't shuffle. I refuse to hear of your shuffling."

"Then you want to know what to do?"

"What?"

"Take your place by my side, walk along with me like a sober, decent
woman."

"But I want to fly with you, hand in hand."

She was elated, exalted. Her eyes shone and she glowed with excitement
and hope. Surely he would understand now! Surely she had found words
for it at last!

"That's rubbish," he said. "Men aren't birds, and they are not angels.
If you want to fly, go up in an airyoplane. That's another machine
like the cinema. It relieves human beings of another mania."

She turned away to hide the tears that had gushed to her eyes. Why did
he waste his strength? Why did he keep his force from entering into
his imagination?

That evening was most miserable for her, and she was glad when it came
to an end.

* * * * *

To add to her difficulties he was making himself ill over his work,
which, as he said, had gone completely rotten, and he did not scruple
to ascribe it to her. He would spend a delightful happy evening with
her and feel that his difficulties were over, that in the morning he
would be able to make a beginning upon all the ideas that were so
jumbled and close-packed in his head. But in the morning he would be
dull and nerveless, and though he might work himself up into a frenzy,
yet he could produce nothing that was any good. His work was easier,
and even a little better, after the evenings when they almost
quarrelled.

Again and again he told himself that he could not go on, that life was
as thick and heavy as the air before a thunderstorm. Often he thought
that this density, this opaqueness, with which he was surrounded,
meant that he must quarrel and break with her once and for all. It
would nearly kill him to do it, but if it must be done, the sooner the
better. Perhaps it was wrong for him to have anything to do with the
Christian world at all. No single friendship or relationship that he
had had in it had been successful or of any profit to him. Little by
little his peace of mind had been taken from him. Everything had been
taken from him, even, now, his work. . . . That he would not have. He
set his teeth and stuck to it, every day and all day, but the few
pictures he turned out did not sell. Cluny would not have them, and
they were rejected by the exhibitions, even by the club of which he
was a member.

Of all this he said not a word to a soul, not even to Morrison, not
even to Golda. His money was dwindling. That put marriage out of the
question. Fate, or the ominous pressure of life, or whatever it was,
played into Morrison's hands.

Every now and then, unable to endure this pressure, he plunged into
excesses. There seemed to be no other way out. The Christian world
refused him. He no longer belonged to his own people. Their poverty
disgusted him. People had no right to be so poor as that, to have no
relief from the joyless daily grind for bread. . . . It was the fault
of the Christians who prayed to the Lord for their daily bread and
stole it from each other because they had forgotten that it was not
given them except in return for daily work.

That was the one strand of sympathy he had left with his
father--Jacob's absolute refusal to receive his daily bread from any
other hands than his own, and his almost crazy refusal to let Issy and
Harry go out and work for other masters. They could work for their
father because he had authority over them, but other masters had no
authority except what they bought or stole.

But a talk with Harry decided Mendel that his people's way, the Jewish
way, was no longer his.

Harry was bored. He had bouts of boredom when he could not endure the
workshop and refused to go near it, however great the pressure of
business might be. Like his father, he said:--

"I want nothing."

"Very well then," said Mendel; "you've got nothing. What are you
grumbling at?"

"But there _is_ nothing."

"Then it is easy to want nothing and you should be satisfied."

"That's it. It is too easy. Work, work, work. Play, play, play. How
disgusting it all is!"

"Why didn't you stay in Paris?"

"I could not bear to be away from the people."

"But if they give you nothing?"

"They have nothing to give. Nothing but old Jews who believe and young
Jews who cannot believe and are nothing."

"It is the same everywhere. The Christians do not believe either."

"But they are fools and can make themselves happy with their cinemas
and their newspapers and their forward women."

"I thought you liked women, Harry."

"I don't like women who like me. . . . I don't want to marry, I don't
want anything. I shall see the old people into their graves, and then
I don't know what I shall do. You are the only one I know who has
anything to live for or any life in him."

"I have little enough."

"Oh God! don't you start talking like me, or we shall all go to the
cemetery at once."

"All right, Harry. I'll keep you going. I'll keep you astonished."

His brother's despondency helped Mendel on a little, but what a mean
incentive to work, to astonish his poor ignorant family!

Very soon there came a terrible day when he had to tell them that he
had not a penny in the world and that he was a failure. It would have
gone hardly with him but for Harry, who espoused his cause, saying
dramatically that he believed in his young brother as he believed in
God, and that Mendel should not be stopped for want of money. And he
went upstairs and came down with his savings, nearly thirty pounds.

"Don't be a fool!" said Jacob. "He will only spend it on drink and
women."

"He is a genius," said Harry simply, and Issy, fired by his brother's
example, said he had saved ten pounds and he would add that. Together
they shouted Jacob down when he tried to raise his voice, until at
last he produced his cash-box and gave Mendel a ten-pound note,
saying:--

"If the Christians are liars when they say they believe in you, we are
not. You must learn that the Christians are all liars and you must
show them that you are the greatest artist in the world."

"I'll show them," mumbled Mendel. "Yes, I'll show them."

* * * * *

He returned to his work with a better determination to succeed, but he
felt more barren than ever, and had nothing to work with but his will.
Into that he gathered all his force and determined to go back and pick
up the thread of his work at the point where Logan had broken into the
weaving of it. He would paint yet another portrait of his mother, and
then he would choose a subject from among the life of the Jews. He
would start again. The Jews believed in him; he would glorify them,
although he no longer believed in but only admired them. When he came
to look at them clearly, they were squat and stunted, because he could
only look at them from a superior height. . . . He turned over his
early work, and studied it carefully, but he could not recover his
childish acceptance of that existence.

For some weeks he did not go near Morrison and frequented the Paris
Café, where he felt hopelessly out of it. No one spoke to him. Hardly
a soul nodded to him. Night after night he sat there despondently,
conjuring up the exciting evenings he had spent there. They were like
ashes in his mouth.

* * * * *

One night, to his amazement and almost fear, someone slipped into the
seat at his side. It was Oliver. She laid her hand on his knee and
said:--

"You look pretty bad, Kühler. Anything wrong?"

"Much as usual. How are you? What'll you drink?"

"Kümmel's mine," she said.

He ordered two Kümmels.

"I'm all right. How are you?"

"I've told you how I am," he said testily.

"All right, all right!" she said, "I haven't been here for a long
time. I wish you'd come and see me, Kühler. We never did get on, but
I'd like to have a talk about old times."

"Old times!" he said. "It seems only yesterday."

"It's nearly a year since I saw you. Logan came back, you know. Mr.
Tysoe was so good. He kept on the house for me. Wasn't it good of
him?"

The waiter brought the Kümmel. She drank hers off at a gulp, and
said:--

"It is like old times to see you, Kühler. I _am_ glad."

"Go on about Logan."

"He went back to that Camden Town place, you know, and we didn't see
each other for nearly two months. It was awful. I couldn't sleep at
nights, and I knew he wouldn't be able to sleep. He never slept, you
know, when we had had one of our hells and I wouldn't speak to him.
He! he!" she gasped and giggled nervously at the memory.

"Go on," said Mendel. He was icy cold. All the strange oppression that
was brooding in his life seemed to gather into a thick snowy cloud
about his head and to fit it like a cap of ice. "Go on."

"Mr. Tysoe gave me money. Wasn't it good of him? He used to see Logan.
Not very often--just occasionally. Logan was painting a wonderful
portrait of me, in my green dress and the corals he gave me. . . .
See: I always wear them, even now."

She thrust her hand into her bosom and produced the string of corals.

"I lived all alone and refused to see anyone. I got so thin, all my
skirts had to be taken in. I knew Logan was jealous, so I didn't see
anyone, and when I heard about the portrait I knew he would come back.
So I used to wear the green dress every evening and wait for him till
twelve, one, two, three in the morning, all alone, in that little
cottage on the Heath. . . . My, I _was_ tired, I can tell you. But I
never was one for getting up in the morning. . . . At last, one night,
he came. He walked in quite quietly, as though nothing had happened.
He had brought the picture with him. My word, it _is_ good. You'd love
it. He had offers for it, but he wouldn't sell it. He said a funny
thing about it. He said: 'It's literature. It isn't art.' So he
wouldn't sell it. . . . We had a glorious time--a glorious time! It
was better even than the beginning."

She stopped to linger over the memory, and she drew her hand
caressingly along her thigh.

"Go on," said Mendel, to break in upon her heavy silence.

"He had plenty of money. He sold everything he did. There were one or
two society ladies, the cats! Common property, I call them."

"So it broke down again," said Mendel.

"Yes. He got---- You know what he could be like. Sometimes I thought
he was going off his head, and I often wonder if he wasn't a bit
touched. . . . I haven't seen him since. I wondered if you had seen
him."

"No. I haven't seen him. He doesn't come back to me."

"Mr. Tysoe hasn't seen him. Cluny has some of his things, but won't
say a word. I think he must have left London."

"I should think so," said Mendel wearily, suddenly losing all
interest. "I should think so."

"I've left Hampstead. I'm living over the Pot-au-Feu, I'm working as a
model. Don't forget me, and if you hear of Logan, do let me know, and
come and have a talk over old times."

She had caught sight of an acquaintance smiling at her and went over
to him, for all the world, as Mendel thought, like a fly-by-night.

He half ran, half staggered out of the place, saying to himself:--

"I must see Morrison. I must see her at once."

* * * * *

He tried to see her next day, but Clowes told him she had gone to the
country.

"I insisted on her going, she was looking so pale. You know when she
feels lonely she won't eat. When she is miserable she gets so shy that
she can't even go into a shop. . . . I have taken a cottage in the
country, just outside London. Two rooms, two shillings a week. Isn't
it cheap? So I packed her off there two days ago."

"When will she be back?"

"I don't know. When she is tired of being alone. She said she wanted
to be alone."

"I want to see her. It is a very important for me to see her."

"I won't have you making her ill," said Clowes.

"I must see her. Will you give me her address, so that I can write to
her?"

Clowes gave him the address, and he wrote saying that life was
intolerable without her.

* * * * *

Morrison did not need his letter, and, indeed, it only reached the
cottage after she had left. She knew he needed her. Never for an
instant was his image absent from her mind, and at night, when she lay
awake, she could have sworn she heard a moaning cry from him. No wind
ever made a sound like that.

There was a pouring rain and a howling wind, but she walked the four
miles to the station and sent him a wire telling him to meet her at
the station in London. He received it just in time and was on the
platform.

He took her in his arms and kissed her.

"What is the matter?"

"Did you get my letter?"

"No. But I knew. What is it?"

"I don't know. My work, I think. I met Oliver last night. It upset me.
But I wanted you for my work. It is like a knife stuck through my
brain. I wanted to be with you, just to see you and to hear your
voice. Nothing else. That part of me feels dead. . . . Oliver is
living over the Pot-au-Feu, where Hetty Finch used to be. I wonder
what's become of her. I expect she has found a millionaire by now.
. . . We'll have the evening together. We'll dine at the Pot-au-Feu.
We might meet Oliver, but I can't think of any other place."

"We'll dine with Clowes, if you like."

"No; I want to go to the Pot-au-Feu."

"Very well. Are you very tired? Your voice sounds tired."

"I'll be all right now I am with you. Mr. Sivwright asked me to go to
the Merlin's Cave to-night. He has to shut it up. I thought I wouldn't
go, but I want to go, if you will come with me."

"It might cheer us up, and you love dancing."

They both thought of the night when he had danced with Jessie Petrie.

"I'm painting a picture of a Jewish market. I want you to see it."

"I'm glad you've gone back. I'm sure it is right."

"What are you doing?"

It was the first time he had asked after her work and a glow of
happiness overcame her.

"Oh! I . . . I'm doing a landscape--just a road running up a hill with
some houses on top."

"Like Rousseau. He was good at roads."

"Mine's just painting. It isn't abstract."

"You can't paint without being abstract," he said irritably. "Even
Academicians can't really imitate, but they abstract without using
their brains. You can't really copy nature, so what's the good of
trying?"

"You can suggest."

"Then it's a sketch and not a picture."

"Perhaps mine is only a sketch," she said rather forlornly, because
she had been rather hopeful of her work.

They went back to his studio, where he showed her his studies and
drawings for the new picture. She saw that he was working again with
his old love of his craft.

They dined at the Pot-au-Feu, and had it all to themselves because the
weather was so bad. There were only the goggle-eyed man in the corner
with his green evening paper and Madame Feydeau and Gustave, the
waiter.

Over the dinner Mendel waxed very gay and gave her a very comic
description of the scene when he had gone to his family to confess his
failure. He had a wonderful power of making them comic without
laughing at them.

"They are wonderful people," he said. "They know what is sense and
what is nonsense. If you gave them the biggest problem in the world
they would know what was true in it and what was false. They are
always right about politics and public men. But when it comes to art,
they are hopeless."

"But they believe in you."

"Because I belong to them. They believe in themselves. . . . My mother
was quite sound about Logan. She said it could not go on. I thought it
was for ever. I've been thinking about Logan. He could never be
himself. He was always wanting to be something--something big. I
thought he was big for a long time. But he's just a man. I don't think
Cézanne was ever anything but just a man. It makes one think, doesn't
it? All these people who are written about as though they were
something terrific, all trying to be something more than they
are--just men. And then a quiet little man comes along and he is
bigger than the lot of them, because he has never tried to blow
himself out, but has given himself room to grow."

She had never known him so gentle and tender and wise, and if he had
wanted to love her she would not have denied him. She trusted him so
completely. And he looked so ill and tired. But he only wanted to be
with her, and to talk to her and to hear her voice.

After dinner they went to a cinema to fill in time, and he shouted
with laughter like a boy, threw himself about, and stamped his feet at
the comic film. And she laughed too, and took his hand in hers and
held it in her lap.

"That was good!" he said. "I think I should like to be a cinema actor.
If I get really hard up I shall try it. I might be a star, if I could
learn to wear my clothes properly and could get my hair to lie down in
a solid shiny block."

"I'll go with you. I'm sure I could roll my eyes properly."

"Come along," he said.

It was still raining hard, so they took a taxi to the Merlin's Cave,
though it was not half a mile away.

Everything was the same, even to the two rich young men who entered
just after them. They signed the book, and then, hearing the music,
Mendel seized Morrison by the wrist and dragged her down the stairs.

The place was astonishingly full. Nearly all the tables were occupied,
and they had to take one between the orchestra and the door. Calthrop,
Mitchell, Weldon, Jessie Petrie, everybody from the Paris Café was
there. Oliver was sitting with Thompson and the critic. In a far
corner Clowes was sitting with the young man from the Detmold. There
were models, male and female, all the strange people who for one
reason or another had lived in or on the Calthrop tradition. In the
middle of the room were two large tables which Sivwright had packed
with celebrities--authors, journalists, editors, actors, and
music-hall comedians. They were being fed royally, as became lions,
and there were champagne bottles gleaming on the tables. Tall young
soldiers in mufti began to arrive with chorus-girls who had not
troubled to remove their make-up.

"It's a gala!" said Mendel.

Oliver saw him, and beamed and raised her glass. He rose and bowed
with mock solemnity.

Dancing had not begun. Apparently the lions were to sing for their
supper.

An author read a short play, which he explained had been suppressed by
the censor. To Mendel it sounded very mild and foolish. It was a
tragedy, but no one was moved; the audience much preferred the
music-hall comedian, who followed with a song about a series of
mishaps to his trousers.

The same reedy-voiced poet recited the same poem as before, and the
same foolish girl sang the same foolish song, and it looked as though
the programme would never end.

Mendel was irritated and bored, and called for champagne.

"Waiter!"

But the waiter did not hear him.

"You don't want any champagne," said Morrison.

"Waiter!"

The door by them opened and Logan slipped in. He was almost a shadow
of his old self. The plump flesh had gone from his face, which was all
eyes and bones. He looked famished. His eyes swept round the room,
and, fastening on Oliver, lit up with a gleam of satisfaction. He was
like a starving man looking at a nice pink ham in a shop window. He
moved swiftly towards her, but stopped on seeing the men she was with
and swerved to a table a few yards behind her. From where Mendel was
sitting it looked as though he were peering over her shoulder, an
evil, menacing face.

Mendel shivered, and his eyes suddenly felt dry and hot, as though
they were being pushed out of his face. His throat went dry, and when
he tried to call the waiter he could make no sound. The waiter met his
eyes and came.

"Champagne!" said Mendel.

"Very good, sir. One bottle?"

"Half-a-bottle," said Morrison.

"One bottle," roared Mendel.

A young artist, who knew them both slightly, hearing the order, came
and sat with them.

The dancing began.

"Come and dance," said Morrison.

"No, I don't want to dance. That was Logan who came in. He hasn't seen
me yet."

"Which is Logan?" asked the young artist. "He's done some good things.
Someone told me the other day he had softening of the brain."

"Rubbish!" said Mendel. "They say that of every man who makes a
success, as though it needed something strange to account for it. It's
either softening of the brain, or consumption, or three wives, or he
is killing himself with drink. They talk as though art itself were
some kind of disease."

Logan had seen Mendel, and their eyes met. Mendel felt that Logan was
looking clean through him, looking at him as a ghost might look at a
man whom he had known in life, fondly, tenderly, icily through him,
without expecting him to be aware of the terrible scrutiny. But Mendel
was aware of it, and it chilled him to the marrow. Logan gave no sign,
but stared and stared, and presently turned his eyes away without a
sign, without a tremor. It was like turning away the light of a
lantern. He turned his eyes from Mendel to Oliver in one sweep. No one
else but those two seemed to exist for him, and Mendel felt that he no
longer existed. And more than ever Logan looked as if he were peering
over Oliver's shoulder with those staring, piercing eyes of his from
which the soul had gone out. Only the glowing spark of a fixed will
was left in them to keep them sane and human.

Mendel began to drink. The orchestra behind him sent the rhythm of a
waltz thumping through him. But it went heavily, without music or
tune. One--two--three. It was like having molten lead poured on the
nape of his neck, threatening to jerk his head off his spine. From
where he sat he could not see the dancing-floor, except reflected in a
mirror opposite him. . . . Oh! it was a gay sight and a silly It had
nothing to do with him. He could see nothing but Oliver with the grim,
haggard face looking over her shoulder. He gulped down a glass of
wine. That was better. It made things bearable. He poured out another
glass of wine.

"I think there is more in the Futurists than the Cubists," said the
young artist.

"In art," said Mendel, turning on him savagely, "there is neither past
nor present nor future; there is only eternity. You try to make a
group out of that, and see how you will get on. You can put that at
the head of your manifesto and your group would melt away under it
like the fat on a basted pigeon."

He put out his hand for his glass, but Morrison had taken it and was
drinking.

"You'll make yourself drunk," he said, taking it from her gently.

"I finished it all," she said, with an unhappy smile. "I didn't want
you to drink it, and you looked so tragic I knew it would be bad for
you."

The young artist crept away. Mendel took Morrison's hand and gripped
it.

"I'm glad you are with me," he said. "Look at Logan!"

Never taking his eyes off Oliver, Logan had begun to move towards her
with his hand in his breast pocket. He had nearly reached her, with
his eyes glowing almost yellow under the electric light, when he
changed his mind, swung round, and went to another table and sat with
his head down, biting his nails.

The dancing was fast and furious, and this time it was the flute which
played an obbligato, thin, fantastic, and comic, real silvery fun,
like a trickle of water down a crag into a pool in sunshine.

Thompson went to the dancing-floor with a girl in fancy dress--a
columbine's costume. That seemed to relieve Logan, who jumped to his
feet, walked quickly round to Oliver, bent over her, and spoke to her.
Her face wore an expression of amazed delight. Her eyes were drawn to
his, and though she shrank under them, she seemed to go soft and
flabby: she could not resist them. There was no menace in Logan now,
only an attitude of fixed mastery, an air of taking possession of her
once and for all, of knowing that at last he would get the longed-for
satisfaction.

They spoke together for a little longer, then she rose and put her
hand up and caressed his cheek and neck as though it hurt her to see
them so thin--as though, indeed, she refused to believe what her eyes
told her.

They walked past Mendel and Morrison without seeing them. Mendel
gripped Morrison's hand until she felt that the blood must gush out of
her nails. Logan opened the swing-door for Oliver, devouring her with
his burning eyes, in which there was a desperate set purpose of which
he seemed to be almost weary. So frail he looked, as if but a little
more and he would loose his hold even on that to which he clung. And
Oliver smiled at him with a malicious promise in her eyes that he
should have his will, that his hold should be loosened and his
weariness come to an end. Clearly she knew that he had no thought
outside herself.

And outside the two of them Mendel had no thought. His mind became as
a tunnel down which they were moving, and soon they were lost to his
sight and he was left to wait. There his thoughts stopped, while he
waited.



IX

LOGAN MAKES AN END

ALL night long he paced up and down his studio. His thoughts would not
move, but went over and over the scene in the Cave, and probed vainly
in the darkness for the next move. When he heard footsteps in the
street he hung out of the window, making sure that it must be Logan
come for him. But no one stopped at the door, and soon within himself
and without was complete silence, save for his footsteps on the floor
and the matches he struck to light cigarette after cigarette, though
he could not keep one of them alight.

His imagination rejected the facts and refused to work on them. The
scene in the Cave had left an impression upon his retina, like that of
the cinema--just a plain flat impression containing no material for
his imagination. And yet he knew that he was deeply engaged in
whatever was happening.

With his chin in his hands he leaned out of his window and watched the
dawn paint the eastern sky and the day wipe out the colours. Doors
were opened in the street. Windows were lit with the glow of the
fires, and the day's activity had begun, but he had no share in it,
for he knew that this day was like no other. For him it was a day lost
in impenetrable shadow, and he could not tell what should take him out
of it. And still he expected Logan would come.

He heard Rosa get up and go downstairs and light the fire and bawl up
to Issy to jump out of his bed, filthy snoring sluggard that he was.
He heard the voices of the children and the baby yelling. . . . How
indecent, how abominable it was to cram so many people into one small
house!

At the usual time he went over to his mother's kitchen for breakfast,
and gulped down his tea, but made no attempt to eat. Golda looked at
him reproachfully, but said nothing, for she saw that he was in some
deep trouble.

After breakfast, as usual, he went for his walk down through
Whitechapel almost as far as Bow Church and back.

In his studio when he returned he found a policeman, who said:--

"Mr. Mendel Kühler?"

"Yes."

The policeman handed him a letter from Logan who had scrawled:--

"I believe in you to the end."

To the end?

"Is he dead?" asked Mendel.

"Next door to it," said the policeman. "The woman's done in."

"Where?"

"At the Pot-au-Feu, Soho."

"Where is he now?"

"Workhouse infirmary. If you want to see him the police will raise no
objection."

"Thank you," said Mendel.

He asked the direction and set out at once.

The workhouse was a dull grey mass of buildings, rising out of a dull
grey district like an inevitable creation of its dullness, and it
seemed an inevitable contrast to the Merlin's Cave, so that it was
right that Logan should walk out of the glitter into it. This was the
very contrast that Mendel's imagination had been vainly seeking, and
now, with the violence of a sudden release, his thoughts began to work
again. . . . Oliver was dead. That was inevitable too. But why?

Logan had surrendered to her. They would go home from the Merlin's
Cave to the Pot-au-Feu, to Hetty Finch's room. He would surrender to
her absolutely, because she had willed his destruction and could not
see that his destruction meant her own. She wanted recognition,
acknowledgment that her vitality was more important than anything else
in the world, and she had brought Logan to it. There had been a cold,
set purpose in his eyes last night--an intellectual purpose. The
equation was worked out. She could have what she wanted, at a price.
She could destroy the will and the desire of a man, but not his mind,
not his spirit, which would still be obedient to a higher will, and
that would break her as she had broken.

Very bare and grim was the waiting-room in which Mendel had to bide
until the nurse came for him. Its walls were of a faded green, dim and
grimy, and when the door was opened as people went in or out, there
was wafted in a smell of antiseptics. But as his thoughts gathered
force the room seemed to be filled with a great light, which revealed
beauty in the poor people waiting patiently to see their sick. They
became detached and pictorial, but he could not think of them in terms
of paint. His mind had begun to work in a new way, and he felt more
solid, more human, more firmly planted on the ground, as though at
last he was admitted to a place in life. It mattered to him no more
that he was a Jew and strange and foreign to the Christian world.
There were neither Jews nor Christians now. There were only
people--tragic, wonderful people . . . He even forgot that he was in
love. All his mind was concentrated upon Logan, who was now also
tragic and wonderful, a source of tragedy and wonder, and his whole
effort was to discover and to make plain to himself his share in the
tragedy: not to weigh and measure and to wonder whether at one point
or another he could have stopped it. Nothing could have stopped it.

There was no room for judgment in this tragic world.

A nurse came to fetch him.

She said:--

"He is very weak, but he will be strong enough to know you. Don't
excite him."

She led him into the bare, white ward, across which the sun threw
great shafts of light, to Logan's bedside. At the head of the bed a
policeman was sitting with his helmet on his knees, staring straight
in front of him. He turned his eyes on Mendel, who thought he looked a
very nice man, something amusingly imperturbable in this racking world
of tragedy.

He stood by the bedside and looked down at Logan, in whose face there
was at last the noble, conquering expression at which, through all his
foolish striving, he had always aimed. His brow was strong and
massive, his mouth relentless as Beethoven's, his nose sharp and
stubborn, and there was something exquisite and sensitive in the drawn
skin about his eyes. From his white brow his shock of black hair fell
back on the pillow.

His hand was outside the grey coverlet. Mendel took it in his. Logan
opened his eyes, and into them came an expression of almost
incredulous surprise, of ecstatic, intolerable happiness. He had
wakened out of his dream into his dream, to be with Mendel, to have
gone through the very depths to be with Mendel. His hand closed tight
on his friend's and his lids drooped over his eyes.

He opened them again after a few moments and said:--

"You!"

The nurse placed a chair for Mendel, and he sat down and said:--

"How are you feeling?"

"Pretty weak. I dreamed of your coming, but I didn't really believe
it. . . . I've done it, you know."

"Yes."

"What are you doing?"

"I've painted another portrait of my mother. A good one, this time.
She is sitting in a wooden chair as she always sits, with her hands
folded on her stomach. And I am planning a picture of a Jewish market,
something bigger than I have attempted yet."

"I see. Good--good. . . . We must work together. We can do it now."

"Yes," said Mendel, rather mystified. It was very strange to have
Logan talking like that, as though he were going back to the first
days of their friendship.

"It is such peace," said Logan; and indeed he looked as if he were at
peace, lying there so still and white, with the hard strain gone from
his eyes, in which there was none of the old roguish twinkle, but an
expression of pain through which there shone a penetrating and most
tender light.

"Peace," murmured Logan again. "Tell me more. There is only art."

"There is nothing else," answered Mendel, carried away on the impulse
of Logan's spirit and understanding what he meant when he said "we."
Life, the turbulent life of every day, the life of desire, was broken
and had fallen away from him, so that he was living without desire,
only in his enduring will, which had lost patience with his desires
and had destroyed them.

Through Mendel trembled a new and strange elation. He recognized that
his friendship with Logan was just beginning, and that he was absolved
from all share in the catastrophe, if such there had been. And from
him too the turbulent life of desire fell away, and he could be at one
with his friend. There was no need to talk of the past--it was as
though it had never been.

He described the design he had made for his picture: two fat old women
bargaining, and a strong man carrying a basket of fruit on his head.

"A good beginning," said Logan. "I . . . I could never get going. I
was always overseen in my work."

"Overseen!" said Mendel, puzzled by the word.

"Yes. I was always outside the picture, working at it. . . . Too . . .
too much brains, too little force."

"I see," said Mendel, for whom a cold finger had been put on one of
his own outstanding offences against art. For a moment it brought him
to an ashamed silence, but Logan's words slipped so easily into his
understanding and took up their habitation there, that he was
powerless to resent or to attempt to dislodge them.

"Overseen," Logan repeated, with an obvious pleasure in plucking out
the weeds from their friendship, in the fair promise of which he found
peace and joy. "That was the trouble. It couldn't go on. . . . City
life, I think. Too much for us. Things too much our own way. . . .
Egoism. . . ."

"I know that I am feeling my way towards something and that it is no
good forcing it," said Mendel.

An acute attack of pain seized Logan, and he closed his eyes and was
silent for a long time, with his brows knit in a kind of impatient
boredom at having to submit to such a thing as pain.

"They've been very good to me," he said. "Given me everything as if I
were really ill."

He sank back into pain again.

Mendel looked across at the policeman with a feeling of irritation
that he should be there, a typical figure of the absurd chaotic life
which had fallen away, a symbol of the factitious pretence of order
which could only deceive a child.

"Can't you leave me alone with him?" he whispered.

The policeman shook his head.

"No, sir."

"You mustn't worry about outside things," said Logan, with an effort.
"We _are_ alone. . . . Have you found a new friend?"

"No."

"You will. Better men than I have been. . . . Do you see that girl
still?"

"Yes."

"She was the strongest of us."

"How?"

Logan made no answer, and gave a slight shake of impatience at
Mendel's not understanding him.

"Something," he said, "that I never got anywhere near. . . . I . . . I
was overseen in that too."

The blood drummed in Mendel's temples. Logan's cold finger went
probing into his life too, and showed him always casting his own
shadow over his passions. In love it was the same as in art. . . . It
was very odd that, with every nerve at stretch to understand Logan and
how he had been brought to smash the clotted passion of his life, it
should only be important to understand himself, and that he should be
able to understand so coldly, so clearly, so easily.

And now the presence of the policeman became a relief. It was a
guarantee that the whole visible world would not be swept away by the
frozen will in Logan, which was like a floe of ice bearing everything
with it, nipping at Mendel's life, squeezing it up high and dry and
bearing it along. He felt that if the policeman were to go away he
would be drawn down into the doom that was upon Logan, into the valley
of the shadow, even while the good sun came streaming in through the
tall windows. . . . He had lost all the emotional interest which had
kept him awake through the night. . . . It had been simple enough.
There had been himself, Logan and Oliver, three people, living in
London the gay, reckless life of artists in London, a city so huge
that men and women could do in it as they pleased. Oliver and he had
hated each other, and Logan had had to choose between them. He had
chosen wrongly and had put an end to his misery in the only possible
way.

Mendel fought back out of the shadow--back to the policeman, and the
sick men lying in the rows of beds, and the dead man lying in the bed
which had just been surrounded by a screen, and the simple, wonderful
people in the waiting-room downstairs, and the sun streaming through
the windows, and the teeming life outside in London--wonderful,
splendid London, the very heart of the world. . . . It was well for
Logan to lose sight of these things. He was a dying man. But Mendel
was alive, never more alive than now, in face of the shadow of death,
and he would not think the thoughts of a dying man unless they could
be shaped in the likeness of life. He gathered together all his
forces, summoned up everything that urged him towards life and towards
art, and of his own strong living will plunged after Logan, no longer
in obedience to Logan's frozen purpose, but as a friend giving to his
friend the meed that was due to him.

He took Logan's hand and pressed it, and chafed it gently to make it
warm, and Logan smiled at him, and an expression of anguish came into
his face as the warmth of his friend wrapped him round, penetrated
him, thawed and melted his purpose, with which he had lived for so
many empty, solitary days until it had driven him to make an end. The
coldness in his friend touched Mendel's heart and was like a stab
through it, and he felt soon a marvellous release, as if his blood
were flowing again, and it seemed that the weaknesses on which Logan
had laid his finger were borne down with him into the shadow.

Mendel remembered Cézanne's portrait of his wife, and how he had
intended to tell Logan that it had made him feel like a tree with the
sap running through it to the budding leaves in spring.

He told him now, and added:--

"It doesn't matter that I did not understand you in life."

"No," said Logan. "Don't go away!"

"I'll stay," replied Mendel; "I'll stay."

Then he was in a horrible agony again, as the marvellous clarity he
had just won disappeared. Logan knew what he was doing, that he was
taking with him all the weaknesses and vain follies which had so
nearly brought them both to baseness, and Mendel knew that Logan must
continue as a powerful force in his work; but he crushed the rising
revolt in himself, the last despairing effort of his weakness, and
gave himself up to feeding the extraordinary delight it was to the
poor wretch, lying there with his force ebbing away, to give himself
up to a pure artistic purpose such as had been denied him in his
tangled life. Through this artistic purpose Logan could rise above the
natural ebbing process of his vitality, which sucked away with it the
baseness and the folly he had brought into his friend's life. He could
rejoice in the contact of their minds, the mingling of their souls,
the proud salute of this meeting and farewell. It was nothing to him
that he was dying, little enough that he had lived, for he knew that
he had never lived until now.

The nurse came and said the patient must rest.

"Don't go away!" pleaded Logan.

"I'll wait," said Mendel, patting his hand to reassure him.

"Half-past two," said the nurse as she followed Mendel out. "What a
remarkable man!" she added. "What a tragedy! I suppose the girl was to
blame too."

"Blame?" said Mendel, rather dazed at being brought back to customary
values. "Blame?"

* * * * *

He went down to the dingy waiting-room and sat there subdued,
cowering, exhausted. He felt very cold and miserable. It was so
terrible waiting for a thing that had happened. The physical fact
could make no difference. . . . Logan had made an end, a very complete
and thorough end. . . . Oh! the relief of it, the relief of having
Logan for his friend at last, of having seen him freely and fully
tasting at last his heart's desire, of being himself brought up to
that level, that pure contact with another human being, for which he
had always longed. . . . That desire in both of them had been violated
and despoiled, God knows how. Lies? Lust? Profanation of the holy
spirit of art? . . . What words could describe the evil that
everywhere in life lay in wait for the adventurous, letting the
foolish and the timid, the faint of heart and the blind of soul, go
by, and waiting for strong men who walked with purpose and a single
mind?

* * * * *

At half-past two the nurse came to fetch him.

"He is very weak now," she said.

Logan's face wore a noble gathering serenity. He was too weak to talk
much, and only wanted Mendel to hold his hand and to talk to him about
art, about pictures "they" were going to paint, and about pictures
they had both loved: Cranach, Dürer, Uccello, Giotto, Blake, Cézanne.

"Good men, those," said Logan. "Good company."

"Good, decent, quiet little men."

"We shall do good things."

His hand closed more tightly on Mendel's, who surrendered himself to
the force of the ebb in his friend, felt the cold, salt waves of death
close about him and drag him out, out until Logan was lost, and with a
frightful wrench all that was dead in himself was torn away, and he
was left prostrate upon the fringes of his life. . . . He became
conscious to find himself leaning over Logan, gazing at his lips, with
his own lips near them, waiting for the breath that would come no
more.

It was finished. Logan had made an end.

Turning away, Mendel saw through the window the lovely grey-blue sky,
fleecy with mauve-grey clouds heaped up by the driving
wind--beautiful, beautiful. . . .



X

PASSOVER

IT was many days before Mendel could take up his work again. His mind
simply could not express itself in paint.

His first clear thought as he emerged from the numbness of the crisis
was for Morrison, and to her he wrote, telling her what had happened,
describing in minute detail his experience in the hospital, and adding
that he was without the least wish to see her, and would write to her
if his life ever became again what it had been before Logan's violent
end.

It seemed to him that Logan had claimed him, that he was destined to
go through life with Logan, a dead man, for sole companion, and always
behind Logan was the ominous and dreadful shadow of Oliver, from whom
he had thought to escape those many months ago.

His isolation was complete. It seemed that he had not a friend in the
world, and there was not a soul towards whom he could move or wished
to move. He could only rake over the ashes of the dead past and marvel
that there had ever been a flame stirring in them. And as he raked
them, he thrust into them much that only a short while ago had been
living and delightful.

What had happened? Youth could not be gone while he was yet so young,
but he felt immeasurably old, and, in his worst condition, outside
Time, which took shape as a stream flowing past him, bearing with it
all his dreams, loves, aspirations, hopes, thoughts. When he tried to
cast himself into it, to rescue these treasured possessions, he was
clutched back, thrown down, and left prostrate with his eyes darkened
and the smell of death in his nostrils.

Sometimes he thought with terror that he had plunged too far, had
given too much to Logan, had committed some obscure blasphemy, had
been perhaps "overseen" even in that moment when the weakness and all
that was dead in him had been wrenched away. And he said to himself:--

"No. This is much worse than death. It is foolish to seek any meaning
in death, for death is not the worst."

It was no good turning to his people, for he knew that he was cut off
from them. They were confined in their Judaism, from which he had
broken free. That was one of the dead things which had been taken from
him.

His mother could not help him, because she could not endure his
unhappiness. The pain of it was too great for her, and he had to
invent a spurious happiness, to pretend that he was working as usual,
though with great difficulty, and that, as usual, he was out and
about, seeing his friends. And in a way this pretence gave him relief,
though he suffered for it afterwards. He suffered so cruelly that he
was forced by it into making an effort to grope back into life.

He was able to take up his work again, and the exercise of his craft
soothed him, though it gave him no escape. The conception of his
market picture was dead. It was enclosed in Judaism, from which he was
free. Yet he had no other conception in his mind, and he knew that any
picture he might paint must spring from it. So he clung to the dead
conception and made studies and drawings for its execution.

Some of these drawings he was able to sell to Tysoe, who worried him
by coming to talk about Logan and was nearly always ashamed to leave
the studio without buying. Mendel was saved from borrowing of his
people, which had become repugnant to him now that he no longer
belonged to them.

It was through Tysoe's talk that he was able to push his way through
the tragedy of Logan and Oliver back to life. Tysoe insisted that the
cause of it was jealousy, but Mendel knew that Logan was beyond
jealousy, and, piecing the story together, he saw how Oliver had set
herself to smash their friendship because it fortified in her lover
what she detested, his intellect, which, because she could not satisfy
it, stood between him and his passion for her. If anyone was
responsible it was she, for she had tried to smash a spiritual thing
and had herself been smashed. . . . And Mendel saw that had he tried
to smash the relationship between Logan and Oliver he too would have
been broken, for that also was a spiritual thing, though an evil. And
he saw that, but for Morrison, he must have tried to smash it. His
obligation to her had given him the strength to resist, to make his
escape. Oliver had triumphed, evil had triumphed, and she and Logan
were dead and he had to grope his way back to life, and if he could
not succeed in doing that, then she and evil would have triumphed
indeed, and what was left of him would have to follow the dead that
had gone with Logan.

He sought the society of his father and of the old Jews, the friends
of the family, and was left marvelling at their indifference to good
and evil. They knew neither joy nor despair. They had yielded up their
will to God, upon Whom, through fair weather and foul, their thoughts
were centred. They lived in a complete stagnation which made him
shudder. Their lives were like stale water, like unmoved puddles, from
which every now and then their passions broke in bubbles, broke
vainly, in bubbles. Nothing brought them any nearer to the God upon
Whom their thoughts were centred, and only Time brought them any
nearer to the earth.

And yet Mendel loved them in their simple dignity. They had a quality
which he had found nowhere in the Christian world, where men and women
had their thoughts centred on the good, leaving evil to triumph as it
had triumphed in Oliver. . . . She had wanted good. With all the power
of her insensate passion, her blind sensuality, she had wanted love,
the highest good she could conceive. . . . But these old Jews were
wiser: they wanted God, Whom they knew not how to attain. Yet God was
ever present to them.

In Mendel, too, this desire for God became active and kindled his
creative will. He plunged into his work with a frenzy, but soon
recognized that he was committing the old offence and was "overseen."
. . . Yet how shall a man approach his God if not through art?

"Something is lacking!" cried Mendel desperately. "Something is
lacking!"

His imagination flew back to that last sublime moment of friendship
with Logan, but it lacked warmth. It seemed that he could not take it
back into life with him, or that until he had established contact with
life its force could not be kindled. . . . Oh! for sweet, comfortable
things--flowers, and rare music, a white, gleaming tablecloth, and
good meats!

He thought, with envy, of Edward Tufnell and his wife going along the
road on either side smiling at each other, so happily smiling. And
then he thought with more satisfaction of the old Jews. They were the
wiser and the more solid. They walked in the middle of the way, and
good and evil went on either side and neither could attain them. . . .
His thoughts swung between those two extremes like a pendulum, and out
of the momentum thus created grew a force in his mind which began to
find its way towards the God he was seeking. But it was only in his
mind. His force, his passion, were left slumbering in the hypnotic
sleep imposed on them by the tragedy.

Yet the mental impulse kept him working in a serene ecstasy. He could
make the design for his picture, and simplify his figures into a form
in which he knew there was some beauty, or at least that it could hold
beauty and let no drop of it escape.

He could return then to his normal life, and made Golda very happy by
joking with her and spending many evenings in her kitchen.

"You should take a holiday," she said. "You look tired out."

"I will," he said, "when the spring comes. I am going to be an artist,
but I am afraid it will not mean carriages and horses and the King
commanding his portrait to be painted."

* * * * *

He had the very great joy of beginning to understand Cézanne's delight
in the intellectual craft of painting and to see why he had neglected
the easier delights of handicraft and the mere pleasure of the eye.
But the more he understood, the harder it became to finish his
picture. He slaved at it, but there was still no beauty in it.

He would not surrender. It would have been so easy to slip back to
fake a pictorial quality. He had only to go to the National Gallery to
come out with his head buzzing with ideas and impressions. He had only
to go into the street to have a thousand mental notes from which to
give his work a human and dramatic quality.

He stuck to it and slaved away until he was forced to give in.

"You devil!" he said, as he shook his fist at the picture. "You empty
jug!"

But there was some satisfaction in it, unfinished failure as it was,
and he wanted Morrison to see it.

He wrote and asked her to come.

* * * * *

She and Clowes were in the country, painting, and they wired to him to
come and stay with them for a week. Clowes wrote to tell him that she
could put him up in the farm of which her cottage was a part.

With her letter he went racing over to see his mother.

"I'm going away," he said, "I'm going away to the country. The
Christian girl has a house in the country and I am going to stay in
it."

"You will have fresh air and new milk to make you well again," cried
Golda, scarcely able to contain her joy at seeing him once more his
happy, elated, robustious self. "You will be well again, but you
should have done with that nonsense about the Christian girl. A
sparrow does not mate with a robin, and a cock robin is what you are."

"Yes. I'm a robin," said Mendel, and he whistled blithely,
"Tit-a-weet! tit-a-weet! tit-a-weet! I shall go on the halls as a
whistler. Tit-a-weet! and I shall make three hundred pounds a week.
Tit-a-weet! tit-a-weet!"

Golda laughed at him till the tears ran, so happy was she to have him
come back to her.

"It is not nonsense about the Christian girl," he said. "She is going
to turn me into a Public School gentleman, and I shall bring her to
see you, so that you can know for yourself that it is not nonsense."

"It is not the girl who is nonsensical, but you."

"Tit-a-weet!"

"I will bake her a Jewish bread and you shall take it to her. Yes.
Bring her to me and I will thank her for bearing with you."

"Tit-a-weet! Tit-a-weet!"

"Cock robin!"

* * * * *

His luggage consisted of a brown-paper parcel, a paint-box and two
canvases.

Morrison met him at the station. She was glowing with health and good
spirits and began to tease him at once about his luggage, of which she
insisted on taking charge.

"It's the loveliest little cottage!" she said; "only two rooms. . . .
I hope you don't mind walking along the road. There is another way
through the fields, but I daren't try to find it; besides, it goes
through the woods, and I don't want you to see any woods before you
have been to mine. I don't believe there'll be room for you in the
cottage. You'll have to sit in the garden and have your meals handed
out to you, among the chickens and the pigs."

"Pigs?" said Mendel, "I want to draw pigs. Marvellous animals!"

"These are the most marvellous pigs that ever were."

So they chattered in a growing glee as they walked along the winding
road up into the hills. They were unwilling to let their deep thoughts
emerge until they had been caught up in the beauty of the place, the
serene lines of the comfortable folding hills, the farmsteads tucked
in the hollows, the rich velvet plough-lands, the blue masses of
woods, the gorse-grown common, and the single sentinels the trees, and
the hedges where the birds sang and twittered, Tit-a-weet! tit-a-weet!
. . . And over the hills hung the wide sky, vast and open, with great
clouds that seemed to be drawn from the edge of the earth and sent
floating up and up to show how limitless was the space above the
earth.

For the first time Mendel had no sting of anger at the exhilaration in
the English girl, no desire to pluck her out from the surroundings of
the lovely English country in which it seemed to be her desire to lose
herself. She was one with the rich fields and the mighty trees and the
singing birds in the hedges, and when his heart sang Tit-a-weet, he
knew it for a comic Cockney note. It was he who was at fault, not she,
and she was the very comfort he had come to seek.

The farmer's wife received him with a kindly pity--the poor, pale
London foreigner--and told him he must have plenty of good plain
country food, plenty of milk, plenty of fresh air.

"I do the cooking for Miss Clowes," she said, "and if you'll excuse my
saying so, the young ladies take a deal of tempting."

Mendel thought her a wonderful woman, his room a wonderful room, the
cottage a wonderful cottage, and the place the finest in the world.
The air was rare and buoyant and he had never felt so free and so
strong. His life in London looked to him like a bubble which he could
break with a touch or with a puff of his breath. But he was reluctant
to break it yet, for the time had not come.

The girls showed him their work and he praised it, and began to talk
of his own picture. Clowes led him on to explain what she called the
modern movement, which she could not pretend to understand.

Conversation that first evening was all between Clowes and Mendel,
while Morrison sat silent, curled up on the floor by the fire, gazing
into it, sometimes listening, sometimes dreaming, sometimes shaking
with a happy dread as she thought how near she was to her heart's
desire. It had been for so long her central thought that she would
take him down to the country and get him away from the terrible
pressure of London upon his spirit, so that she could see released in
him, perhaps slowly, perhaps painfully, what she loved--the vivid,
clear vitality. And now she had won. She had him sitting there within
reach, with good, faithful Clowes, and already she could feel the new
glow of health in him. Almost she could detect a new tone in his
lovely rich voice. . . . Sometimes, as she gazed into the fire, her
eyes were clouded with tears. It seemed so incredible that she could
have won against the innumerable enemies, invisible and intangible,
against whom action had been impossible, even if she had known what to
do.

She had been happy enough with Clowes in this place, but now she could
not help a wickedly ungrateful desire that Clowes should be spirited
away.

* * * * *

Clowes absented herself in the day-time, but Mendel had very little
energy, and for the most part of the day sat by the fire brooding over
the bubble of his London life, which he knew he must break with a
touch. Often Morrison sat with him, and neither spoke a word for hours
together.

On the fifth day, when the sun shone so that it was wicked to be
indoors, Morrison suggested lunch in the woods. Clowes excused
herself, but Mendel agreed to go with her, and the farmer's wife
packed them a basket of food. They set out gaily, over the common, up
the rolling field green with winter corn, down through the jolly
farm-yard full of gobbling turkeys and strutting guinea-fowl, under
the wild cherry-trees to the woods, where in a clearing they made a
fire, and Morrison, declaring that she was a gipsy, sang the only song
she could remember, "God Save the King," and told his fortune by his
hand. He was to meet a dark woman who would make a great change in his
life, and money would come his way, but he must beware of the Knave of
Clubs.

Entering into her mood, he insisted that they must act a Wild West
cinema drama, and he rescued her from Indians and a Dago ravisher, and
in the end claimed her hand from a grateful father; and so hilarious
did they become that the cinema drama turned into an opera, and he was
Caruso to her Melba. In the end they laughed until they were
exhausted, and decided that it was time for lunch.

* * * * *

After they had eaten they were silent for a long time, and at last,
rather to her surprise, she found herself beginning to explain to him
that this was love, this the heaven at which she had been aiming, the
full song whereof they had played the first few notes as boy and girl
at the picnic and again in the dewy grass on the Heath. And she told
him quite simply that she had loved him always, from the time when
they had met on the stairs at the Detmold, and even before that,
though she could not remember clearly. And she told him that love
dwelt in the woods and the hedgerows, in the sweet air and the song of
the birds, not only in the springtime but in the harsh winter weather
and in the summer heat of the sun. . . .

"Oh, Mendel," she said, "I have been wanting you to know, but it
seemed that you would never know while you looked for love in the heat
and the dust of London."

And he as simply believed her. It was lovely there in the woods, among
the tall grey-green pillars of the trees, with the pale yellow
sunlight falling on the emerald of the moss and the russet of the dead
bracken, and the brilliant enamel of the blackberry leaves. He was
overcome with his exquisite delight, and she, to comfort him, held him
in her arms, her weary shaggy faun, so bitterly conscious of his own
ugliness. She soothed him and caressed him, and won him over to her
own serene joy, which passed from her to him in wave upon wave of
flooding warmth, melting the last coldness in his soul, healing the
last wounds upon his spirit.

He roused himself, flung up his head, and began to whistle:--

"Tit-a-weet!"

And he looked so comical that she laughed.

"That isn't anything like a bird," she said.

"It is. It is very like cock robin."

To their mutual amazement it seemed entirely unnecessary to discuss
the future or the past, and the present demanded only happy silence.
Here in the enchantment of the woods was love, and it was enough.

While they stayed in the woods they hardly talked at all, but as they
walked home he became solemn and said, as though it pained and puzzled
him:--

"We are no longer young."

"We shall never be anything else," she protested, for she was pained
by the change in his mood.

"Youth passes," he said.

And her exhilaration died in her, for she knew she had touched his
obstinacy. He saw her droop and was sorry, and began to whistle and to
laugh, but she could not be revived. She had thought to have secured
him, to have made him safe with the charm of love for ever, but she
was sure now that the hardest of all was yet to come.

In the evening, as they sat by the fire in the little white room,
Mendel and Clowes talking and Morrison curled up on the floor gazing
into the coals, he suddenly ceased to hear Clowes' voice, and saw very
clearly the bubble of his life in London before him--Mr. Kuit, Issy,
Hetty Finch, Mitchell, Logan and Oliver--Logan and Oliver leaving the
Merlin's Cave and going out into the street and walking home to the
Pot-au-Feu, up the narrow, dark stairs to Hetty Finch's room. . . . He
put out his hand to touch the bubble and it broke, and with a
shuddering, gasping cry he heard Clowes saying:--

"On the whole I don't think all this modern stuff can be good for
anything but decoration."

And he began to think of his own picture, which was full of life.
Wherever he picked up the design he could follow it all round the
picture, and through and through it, beyond it into the mystery of
art, and out of it back into life. It was poised, a wonderful, lovely
created thing, with a complete, unaccountable, serene life of its own.
The harsh, gloomy background of London fell away, and in its place
shone green hills and a clear blue sky, fleecy with mauve-grey clouds.
. . .

Following the clouds, he came easily back to life again, to the two
girls sitting in this wonderful snug cottage, and he was overwhelmed
by a feeling that he was sharing their comfortable happiness on false
pretences. It was not to him the perfectly satisfying wonder they so
obviously wished it to be for him, and at last he could not contain
himself, and burst out:--

"You must not expect me to be happy. I cannot be happy. I will swing
up to it as high as ever you like, but I must swing back again.
Happiness is not life, love is not life, any more than misery is life.
If I stay in happiness I die as surely as if I stay in misery. I must
be like a pendulum. I must swing to and fro or the clock will stop.
. . . I can't make it clear to you, but it is so. What matters is that
the clock should go. Jews understand, but they forget that they are
the pendulum and they do not live at all. Jews are wonderful people.
They know that what matters is the impulse of the soul. It matters so
much to them that they have forgotten everything else. And those who
are not Jews think of everything else and forget the impulse of the
soul. But I know that when I swing from happiness to unhappiness, from
good to bad, from light to dark, then a force comes into my soul and
it can move up to art, and beyond art, into that place where it can be
free. . . . Don't, please, misunderstand me." He addressed himself
frankly to Morrison, who dropped her head a little lower. "In love I
can no more be free than I can in misery. I will swing as high on one
side as I will on the other, and then I can be free."

Morrison folded her hands in her lap and her hair fell over her face.
Mendel got up, said good-night, and went over to the farm.

"Well," said Clowes uneasily, "I really think he must be a genius."

Morrison made no reply, and presently Clowes went upstairs to bed,
leaving her with her hair drooping over her face, staring into the
glowing fire.

"I must learn my lesson," said Morrison to herself. "I must learn my
lesson."

She was so little trained for misery, but this was misery enough. But
she sat and brooded over it, and summoned up all her strength for the
supreme effort of her will, not to be broken and cast down in the
swing back from love. She had taught him to surrender himself to love;
she must learn to surrender herself to misery, to swing as high on one
side as on the other.

For many, many hours she wrestled with herself and broke down fear
after fear, weakness after weakness, until she was utterly exposed to
the enemies of love and knew that she could be with Mendel through
everything. She took out from her paint-box his letter describing the
scene in the hospital, which had shocked and horrified her before, and
now read and re-read it until she had lived through all the story and
could understand both Logan and Oliver.

At last, when she could endure no more, relief came, a new vision of
love, no longer lost in the woods or in any earthly beauty, but a
clear light illuminating men and women and the earth upon which they
dwell. And in her soul, too, the upward impulse began to thrill, and
with a sob of thankfulness she lay on her bed fully clothed and went
to sleep.

* * * * *

She was not at all disturbed when Mendel said in the morning that he
must go back to London to work on his picture. It was right. Their
happiness was too tremulous. There was plenty of time for them to take
up their ordinary jolly human lives, plenty of time now that they were
no longer young.

She walked with him to the station, and on the way they laughed and
sang, and he whistled and talked breathlessly about his picture.

"My mother says a cock robin can never mate with a sparrow," he said.
"I promised I would take you to see her."

"I should love to come, for I love your mother."

"I would like you to see the Jews as they are," he said, "so simply
serving God that their souls have gone to sleep."

As they stood on the platform she said:--

"Mendel, I did . . . begin to understand last night, and it has made
you and your work more important than anything else in my life."

He gripped her fiercely by the arm.

"Come to London, now," he said.

"Not now."

"Soon."

"Very soon."

He got into the train, and as it carried him off she could not bear
him to go, and, forgetting all the other people, she ran as hard as
she could along the platform, and stood at its extremity until the
train disappeared round the corner of the embankment, and even then
she called after him:--

"Mendel! Mendel!"



_Transcriber's Note_

This transcription is based on the British edition published by T.
Fisher Unwin in 1916. Scans of this edition are available through the
Hathi Trust Digital Library at:

    http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100597585

As an additional resource, the American edition published by George H.
Doran in 1916 was also used. Scans of this edition are posted by the
Internet Archive at:

    https://archive.org/details/mendelstoryofyou00canniala

The right margins of several page scans of the Unwin edition available
through the Hathi Trust were cut off, so the Doran edition was used to
correct for the missing text. No attempt was made to list all these
corrections.

The following changes to the text were noted:

-- Cover: The cover image is from the Doran edition.

-- p. 20: what you want, that you shall have. . .--Added an additional
period at the end of the sentence in keeping with the Doran edition.

-- p. 20: "These children have only to go out into London and all will
be given to them,"--Changed the comma to a period.

-- p. 42: their voices seemed to him to come from very far away, The
unheaval had stunned him, had destroyed his volition and paralysed his
dreams.--Changed the comma after "away" to a period and "unheaval" to
"upheaval" in keeping with the Doran edition.

-- p. 48: "That'll do. That'll do," said Moscowitch.--Changed
"Moscowitch" to "Moscowitsch" for consistency.

-- p. 84: "No," said the Professor." I don't know what that is. It
certainly isn't drawing."--Changed the closing quotation mark after
"Professor" to an opening quotation mark before "I".

-- p. 84: and he says: "I mean to say, that isn't drawing.--Changed
the opening double quotation mark to an opening single quotation mark.

-- p. 116: You may renember her--glorious chestnut hair, big blue
eyes, but as shy as a little mouse.--Changed "renember" to "remember".

-- p. 139: And then when I get home and it is just a house and I am
just a girl living it it--Changed the first "it" after "living" to
"in".

-- p. 158: hair brushed back from a round, well shaped brow.--Inserted
a hyphen between "well" and "shaped".

-- p. 184: as they went through their Public Schools and were more and
compressed into type--Inserted the word "more" between "and" and
"compressed" in keeping with the Doran edition.

-- p. 189: "But he cares for poetry and the Bible and he loves
pictures. . ."--Added an additional period at the end of the sentence
in keeping with the Doran edition.

-- p. 216: finding some dam fool to take you to a music-hall--For
consistency and in keeping with the Doran edition, changed "dam" to
"damn".

-- p. 217: When you're starving you don't want chocolates. . .--Added
an additional period at the end of the sentence in keeping with the
Doran edition.

-- p. 234: He says its something deeper--Changed "its" to "it's".

-- p. 245: No, no, no! . . . .--Deleted the fourth period in keeping
with the Doran edition.

-- p. 266: "What has happened?" Does he knock her about?"--Deleted the
closing quotation mark after "happened?"

-- p. 271: "That is all very well while you are young " said
Logan--Inserted a comma between "young" and the closing quotation
mark.

-- p. 290: the furniture was old and exquisite. . .--Added an
additional period at the end of the sentence in keeping with the Doran
edition.

-- p. 297: and through that love his passion for art--Added a period
at the end of the sentence.

-- p. 298: Cluny."--Inserted an opening double quotation mark at the
beginning of the sentence.

-- p. 316: "O God! O God! O God!'--Changed the closing single
quotation mark to a closing double quotation mark.

-- p. 341: You said you were'nt going to dance.--Changed "were'nt" to
"weren't".

-- p. 344: "Yes You are very honest--Added a period after "Yes".

-- p. 351: "You can't stop it," said Logan--Added a period at the end
of the sentence.

-- p. 358: "If it was my house, I would kick them out.'--Changed the
closing single quotation mark to a closing double quotation mark.

-- p. 380: "What do you want, then?--Added a closing double quotation
mark at the end of the sentence.

-- p. 397: "Then it's a sketch and not a picture.'--Changed the
closing single quotation mark to a closing double quotation mark.

-- p. 414: clouds heaped up by the driving wind--beautiful,
beautiful. . .--Added a fourth period at the end of the sentence.

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the html-based files. For clarity, section breaks in the text file are
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