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

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: The Demagogue and Lady Phayre
Author: Locke, William John
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Demagogue and Lady Phayre" ***

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



THE DEMAGOGUE AND LADY PHAYRE

By William J. Locke

London: John Lane, The Bodley Head New York

Third Edition

1911

[Illustration: 0009]



THE DEMAGOGUE AND LADY PHAYRE



CHAPTER I--THE ETERNAL FEMININE


“If you are coming my way, Goddard, we may as well walk back
together,” said the Member, putting on his fur-lined coat.

Mr. Aloysius Gleam, member for Sunington, was a spare, precisely dressed
little man on the hither side of forty. He was somewhat bald, and
clean-shaven all to a tightly-screwed fair moustache. A gold-rimmed
eye-glass added a quaint air of alertness to a shrewd, sharp-featured
face.

Goddard acquiesced readily, although on this particular evening his
road lay in a different direction. But democrat though he was, he felt
flattered by Mr. Gleam’s friendly proposal. He was young--eight
and twenty, a cabinetmaker by trade, self-taught and consequently
self-opinionated, yet humble enough before evident superiority of
knowledge or experience. Besides, in coming to take the chair at his
lecture on The New Trades Unionism, before the Sunington Radical Club,
the Member had paid him a decided compliment. A member of Parliament has
many pleasanter and more profitable ways of spending a precious spare
evening during a busy session.

They formed a singular contrast as they stood side by side in the little
knot of committee-men who had remained behind after the audience had
left. Goddard was above the middle height, squarely built, deep-chested,
large-limbed; his decent workman’s clothes hung loosely upon him. His
features were dark and massive, chin and forehead square, nose somewhat
fleshy, mouth shutting stubbornly with folds at the sides; the lip, on
which, like the rest of his face, no hair grew, rather long; altogether
it was a powerful face, showing a nature capable of strong passions both
for good and evil. The accident of straight black hair generally falling
across his forehead, and a humorous setting of his eyes, relieved the
face of harshness. At the present moment it was alive with the frankness
of youth, and flushed with the success that had attended his lecture.

The group walked slowly down the hall through the chairs, and lingered
for a moment at the clubhouse door. It was a new quarter of London. Mr.
Aloysius Gleam had lived in the neighbourhood most of his life, and had
seen it spring up from fields and market-gardens into a bustling town,
with arteries fed from the life-stream of Oxford Street and the Strand.
Its development had been dear to him. There was strong local feeling,
and he was deservedly popular. It was therefore some time before he
could break away from his supporters. At last he did so, and started
with Goddard at a brisk pace up the High Street.

“I have been wondering,” he said, after a short silence, “whether you
would care to take to politics seriously.”

“I hope you don’t think I’m playing at it,” replied Goddard.

“Tut! don’t be so confoundedly touchy,” said Gleam good-humouredly. “By
‘seriously’ I meant entirely, professionally. Would you like to devote
all your time to the work?”

“I should think I would,” replied Goddard quickly; “but I can’t. I have
my bread and butter to earn. I don’t quite see why you ask me.”

“Would you accept a position if your bread and butter were assured to
you?”

“As a paid agitator? Oh no, thanks! I couldn’t stand that. Work of that
sort must be given, not sold.”

“That’s rubbish,” said the Member lightly. “The labourer is worthy of
his hire. The notion is as cranky as Tolstoi’s.”

“It isn’t,” said Goddard. “The paid agitator is a fraud. He pretends to
be a working-man and he isn’t. When I address a crowd I can say, ‘I am
one of yourselves, the real thing. I belong to the Amalgamated Union of
Cabinetmakers, and earn my forty bob a week with the work of my hands.’
Men listen to me, and respect me. What I could not swallow would be for
a fellow to get up and tell me, ‘It’s all very-well for you to talk; but
you’re paid for talking, and make a jolly good thing of it. Instead of
helping the working-man, you are simply growing fat on the working-man’s
hard-earned money.’ I’ve heard that said to paid agitators myself.”

“Well, who said I wanted you to become a paid agitator?” asked Gleam.
“I don’t want you to stand on a barrel and address people as
‘fellow-sufferers.’ You are a cut above that kind of thing. What I
wanted to propose to you was work on our new National Progressive
League. Of course, scores of men are giving their services; but they are
men of a certain amount of leisure. They can afford it. The working-man
has no leisure to speak of, and we would give anything for the services
of a few well-educated, clearheaded working-men like yourself. We could
manage three pounds a week--perhaps more. Well, there’s a chance for
you.”

Goddard walked on a few steps in silence. He was young, earnest, a
passionate champion of the great questions on the Progressive programme.
He felt in himself a power to grip the attention of men. He had dreamed
vague dreams of personal ambition. Gleam’s offer was a great temptation.
But the consciousness that it was a temptation made him adhere all the
more obstinately to his principles.

“You are very kind,” he said at last, “and I am flattered by your
opinion of me. But I shouldn’t feel justified in giving up my trade: it
wouldn’t seem right.”

“Well, do as you like, my good fellow,” replied the Member cheerily.
“But I think you’re a bit of an idiot. You’ll find a thousand first-rate
cabinetmakers for one competent politician. Anyhow, if you change your
mind----”

“I don’t like changing my mind,” returned Goddard, with a laugh, “as if
it were a shirt.”

“We are none of us infallible, not even the youngest,” quoted the Member
below his breath.

But, taking a broad view of youth, he forbore to rebuke the young
man, and turned the conversation upon certain points in the recently
delivered lecture. When he reached his turning he shook hands and
disappeared.

Goddard looked at his watch, and gave a little whistle of dismay. An
omnibus from the west lumbered up. Goddard climbed on to the roof, and
returned down the High Street. At the “Golden Stag,” where the ’bus
route ended, he descended, and proceeded almost at a run down some
side streets and lanes, and eventually knocked at a door in a row of
workmen’s cottages.

“Well, you _are_ late,” said a girl who opened the door to him. “I’ve
been waiting with my ’at on for the last three-quarters of an hour.
No; you ain’t going to kiss me. If you’d wanted to do that, you’d have
found your way here before.”

“I’ve come as fast as I could, Lizzie,” said the young man, somewhat out
of breath. “But I went back part of the way with Mr. Gleam, who wanted
to speak to me.”

“That’s all very fine,” said Lizzie. “But I think I count for
something.”

She led the way into a little front room, where a couple of girls were
busy with dressmaking. One of them was bending over a sewing-machine.
Bits of stuff and patterns littered the table. A few spotted
fashion-plates adorned the walls. The air was heavy with the smell of
new mercery.

“Here’s Dan at last!” said Lizzie. “It’s only a case of how d’ye do and
good-bye. These are my two cousins. This one’s Emily, and that’s Sophie.
Oh, look at the clock! It _is_ a shaime!” Goddard shook hands with the
two cousins of his affianced--pale, anemic girls, who giggled a little,
while Lizzie saw to the straightness of her hat in the gilt mirror over
the mantelpiece. When that was done, she admired herself for a moment.
She was pretty--with the devil’s prettiness; fluffy fair hair, a pink
complexion and small, watery blue eyes--a poetic but discarded admirer
had termed them “liquid azure,” which had pleased her mightily. Her
mouth had a ripe way of pouting that took the edge off tart speeches, at
any-rate in a lover’s opinion, but otherwise it was loose and devoid of
character.

“I can’t let him stop to talk,” she said, turning to her cousins.
“Father’ll be in an awful stew. I’ll bring him round another day.”

“If he’ll come,” said Emily, the elder of the two.

“Oh, of course I will,” said Goddard. “I’m very pleased to make your
acquaintance.”

He was feeling, somewhat abashed amid these feminine surroundings, and
laughed awkwardly. When the door closed behind Lizzie and himself he was
relieved.

“I hope you are not vexed with me, Lizzie,” he said humbly. “I really
did not know it was so late.”

“It’s no use talking about it,” said Lizzie in an injured tone. “But
just let me keep you waiting, and see how you’d like it.”

However, after a time, Lizzie was mollified, and in token thereof drew
Daniel’s arm, correctly loverwise, within her own.

“The lecture was a great success,” he said at length. “Many more people
than I had expected. I wish you had been there. Only they don’t admit
ladies.”

“What was it about? Politics, wasn’t it?”

“Yes--broadly speaking. Strictly it was on the New Trades Unionism. I
traced its development, you know, showing how the spirit has changed.
The Old Trades Unions were intensely jealous of State interference,
because they looked upon the Government as the natural enemy of
labour. But now labour is a powerful element in the State, and means to
legislate for itself, and so make State-control the very bulwark of its
rights. Of course I went into all kinds of details, but that was the
general run of it.”

“It must have been awfully clever,” said Lizzie, without much
enthusiasm.

“Oh, I don’t know,” laughed the young man. “I was a little nervous at
first You see I have spoken often enough, both at the club and in the
open air, and then the words come naturally. You get warmed up, you
know, and you let them have it straight. But this is the first time
I’ve given a set lecture in cold blood, where everything has got to be
expressed in chosen language--but it went very well. Mr. Gleam told me I
was quite academic.”

“He’s a great swell, isn’t he?” asked Lizzie. “Drives his carriage and
pair, and lives in the big house with the griffins on the front gates.
And you walked back with him?”

“Only to the top of the street,” replied Goddard, still sounding an
apologetic note. “He wanted to ask me whether I would throw up the
workshop and become a paid agent of the National Progressive League.”

“Oh, how nice!” said Lizzie.

“Yes, it was nice of him,” replied Goddard; “but, of course, I
declined.”

“Oh, Daniel! How could you? It would have been so much more genteel.”

The word jarred upon him. It set the matter in a new light, and made it
look very ugly. Besides, it afforded him a not very satisfactory peep
into Lizzie’s spiritual horizon.

“You don’t mind my being a working-man, do you, Lizzie?” he asked, with
some reproach.

“Oh, never mind. What’s the odds? We needn’t trouble about it. If you
like to wear a dirty apron and have your ’ands all covered over with
varnish and turpentine, I’m sure I don’t care.”

She tossed her head, and drew a little away from him, so that only his
fingers touched her arm.

“I don’t think we need discuss that,” said Goddard stiffly--“unless you
think I am not good enough for you. In that case you might as well tell
me at once.”

“Now you’re unkind,” said Lizzie.

They walked a few steps in silence, and then Lizzie pulled out a
pocket-handkerchief and dabbed her eyes. The young man’s heart softened
miraculously. He slid back his arm beneath hers, and drew her a little
closer.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you, Liz. Indeed, I didn’t. What can I do to say
I’m sorry?”

“You think I don’t care for you,” whimpered Lizzie. “Every one knows I
gave up Joe Forster just for you; and he’s got his own tobacco business
and keeps an assistant.”

The main part of which statement was not exactly in accordance with
facts. But Goddard was not in the current of local gossip, and did not
suspect his sweetheart’s veracity.

“Then you’ll forgive me, and we’ll make it up?”

“You don’t want to break it off?”

“I? Good gracious, no. Why, Liz!”

There was another pause. They were in the middle of the High Street.
Knots of loafers hung around the blazing entrances of the public-houses,
but otherwise the pavement was more or less deserted.

“Why don’t you put your arm round my waist, then?” said Lizzie softly.

Goddard did as he was bidden. She laughed out loud at his shy
awkwardness, and pulled his fingers tighter round her figure.

“One’d say I was the only girl you’d ever walked out with.”

“Well, you are,” replied Goddard simply. “I never bothered much with
girls till I knew you.”

“I believe that’s a cracker,” said Lizzie, who was beginning to enjoy
the walk.

“It isn’t, indeed. I swear it’s true.”

“Oh! How can you? Well, if it’s true it oughtn’t to have been. You ought
to have had some one to practise on, and then you would have learned to
do things nicely. Practice makes perfect, you know.”

A light argument followed, which ended in Goddard’s discomfiture, and
left him with a vague feeling that he had missed one of the duties of
man in letting his talent for lovemaking lie dormant, and also an uneasy
wonder at the extent of Lizzie’s familiarity with the subject. But
Lizzie was quite happy.

“You wouldn’t like any other girl, would you?”

She rested her head slightly against him. The glare of an
electric-lighted shop-front fell on her pretty, upturned face, and the
young man forgot everything, save that she had soft puckered lips and
young, even teeth.

They were reconciled as far as harmony was ever possible between their
natures. The rest of the walk home was undisturbed, and when they
arrived at Lizzie’s door they were well pleased with each other. She
opened the door with her latch-key and, holding it ajar, received his
kiss prettily, and then with a desire to complete the reconciliation in
all ways, said--

“I’m glad you decided to remain a workingman, Dan. I can’t bear them
silly politics.”

She disappeared quickly. Dan remained for a moment looking vaguely at
the knocker, as if to address it in confidential remonstrance; and
then turning away, he let himself into the adjoining house, and slowly
mounted the stairs to his room, with an all-pervading sense of the
strange futility of the female mind.



CHAPTER II--A REVOLUTION


She was the one thing feminine that had come across his path. He had
stared at it like a new Adam. His original Eden lay at the back of the
houses, and was divided by a low wall. Here, first, he used to lean,
in his shirt-sleeves, pipe in mouth, on the late summer evenings, and
exchange remarks with her as she removed the washing from the clothes’
lines, or idly took the air. How he had drifted into his present
relations he would have found it difficult to determine. It never
occurred to him to do so, his mind being filled with other things.

By degrees he had familiarised himself with the fact of her existence.
Then it seemed natural that he should marry her. In his social sphere a
wife formed a necessary part of everyday existence. And then she was the
prettiest girl he had ever seen. When he kissed the pouting lips, all
kinds of strange tinglings ran through him. That was proof positive of
his being in love. So one day he called on her father, a retired captain
of a Thames steamboat, and obtained his consent to the marriage. He was
earning good wages, had even a little put by. The old man, whose tastes
were not of a domestic order, and who found a daughter an expensive
luxury, got solemnly drunk all by himself to celebrate the occasion.
Goddard considered him an abandoned old ruffian, as soon as he came to
know more about him, and conceiving a tender pity for Lizzie, longed to
get her out of his clutches.

It was hard work to carry on his trade, his selfeducation, his political
pursuits, and his lovemaking, all at the same time. The last was
distinctly pleasant, but it was sadly lacking in advantages from a
utilitarian point of view. Until he had fallen in love with her over
that back-garden wall, he had scouted the idea of “messing about” with
girls as a criminal waste of precious hours Even now he felt somewhat
guilty. He longed to be married, to settle down, to have Lizzie’s pretty
face at his fireside definitely assured to him for the rest of his days,
and to see before him a peaceful, undisturbed stretch of years wherein
to further with all his heart and energies the great movement in which
he was absorbed.

Perhaps Lizzie was light. A little previous practice in the art of love
would have been for his good; but in a widely different sense from that
which came within Lizzie’s philosophy.

A few evenings after he had given the lecture at the Radical Club, he
took her to the theatre. Some weeks previously he had treated her to
the Lyceum, not doubting in the guilelessness of his heart that her
aesthetic appreciation would be as great as his own. But she had been
bored to death, had come home cross, and the subject of play-going
became a dangerous one. This time, however, by way of compensation, it
was the Adelphi. Lizzie laughed and wept and squeezed Daniel’s arm, and
enjoyed herself amazingly. She did not know with whom she was the more
delighted, Mr. William Terriss or Daniel. On the top of the homeward
’bus she decided in favour of Daniel. She nestled close to him on
the garden-seat, and brought his arm round her. Then she drew off her
well-worn glove, so as to put her bare hand in his. He was touched,
tightened his circling arm, and bent down his head till the fluffy fair
curls brushed his lips.

“Why don’t you hug me oftener, Dan?” she murmured. “Like this. It makes
me feel much more homey with you.”

“We are not always on top of a ’bus,” said Dan.

She gave him a little nudge to show him that she appreciated his jest,
but she went on--

“I don’t mind your kissing me, Dan. I like it. Now we’re engaged you
ought to be awfully spoony, you know, and squeeze me, and tell me how
lovely I look, and all that.”

They were on the front seat of the ’bus; the people behind did not
count as spectators; the hurrying roadway and crowded pavement below
were remote as the clear-shining stars above. Daniel surrendered to the
coaxing murmur, and kissed her a long lover’s kiss. When an inspector,
a short time afterwards, demanded their tickets, Goddard forgot his
Collectivist principles and became a fierce Individualist.

“What a confounded nuisance--these fellows disturbing us! It oughtn’t to
be allowed,” he said, resettling himself. And Lizzie acquiesced.

Towards the end of the journey they grew silent. Lizzie, tired, dozed
with her head on his shoulder. A sudden jolt of the ‘bus awakened her.
She laughed, and rubbed her eyes.

“I do believe I’ve been asleep. What have you been doing all the time?”

“Thinking,” he replied, smiling at the question.

“What of?”

“Well, I was thinking of my speech on Saturday in Hyde Park, you know.
There is an Eight Hour demonstration, and the League people have asked
me to take a platform. I’m becoming quite an important person, you see,
Liz.”

“I thought you were going to say you’d been thinking of me,” said
Lizzie, piqued. “I call that beastly of you.”

It took him all the time until they parted to re-establish the “spoony”
 relations that alone, according to Lizzie, seemed to make for happiness
between them.

But when he went to bed that night he found himself wondering for the
first time whether his political interests might not cause serious
friction between Lizzie and himself. To give them up was out of the
question. Vague doubts came as to the wisdom of the step he was about to
take.

They troubled him, kept him from sleep for some hours.

*****

But before he could give the question fuller thought, new and undreamed
of conditions arose that changed the whole aspect of his life.

It was a couple of days afterwards. He sat in a solicitor’s office
staring at a little whiskered gentleman, whose even voice seemed to come
from some other world. He had called in response to a letter, bringing
with him the few documents he possessed--his dead mother’s marriage
certificate, his own birth certificate, and his old indentures of
apprenticeship. He had thought it a question of some trifling legacy on
the part of the dead uncle whom he had never known, who had disowned his
mother because she had brought disgrace on the family by marrying Sam
Goddard the builder. He had conjectured that the hard old heart that had
stonily refused succour to widowed sister had melted before his death,
and had sought to make some little posthumous reparation to his sister’s
son. Save that Robert Haig was a well-to-do hosier in Birmingham,
Goddard knew nothing at all about him. But when the little whiskered
man announced that this unknown uncle had died, wifeless, childless,
and intestate, that he, Goddard, was the next-of-kin, and inherited, not
only the business as it stood, but a considerable sum of invested
money, that brought in between four and five hundred a year, he stared,
open-mouthed, in blank amazement, and it was some time before he could
recover his bewildered faculties.

“Is there no one who has a better right to all this money than I?” he
asked, after a while.

“Not a soul. Since the death of his wife and daughter the late Mr. Haig
had neither kith nor kin besides yourself.”

“How did you find my whereabouts?”

It seemed to him as if he were living for the moment the irresponsible
life of comic opera.

“Simplest thing in the world,” replied the lawyer. “Your mother’s
letters were found docketed amongst Mr. Haig’s papers. The last one,
appealing to him for help on the occasion of your father’s death,
contained the address of the firm of cabinetmakers to whom you were
indentured. They gave us your present address.”

Goddard rose from his chair, and made one or two turns about the room.

“It’s difficult to realise it all at once,” he said, stopping before the
solicitor. “But I think I have grasped it now. What would you advise me
to do?”

“You had better go as soon as possible to Birmingham and see our
principals, Messrs. Taylor & Blythe. We are only acting for them, you
know. They will be able to go into fuller details with you, particularly
in the matter of the hosiery business.”

“They’ll have to sell that,” said Goddard quickly. “It would be a white
elephant to me.”

“I should strongly dissuade you from parting with it,” said the lawyer.
“It appears to be a going concern. You should keep it on. Work it up.
You would soon get into the way of it.”

“And turn hosier? Oh no! I’m proud of my handicraft, and I would go on
with it if there were any necessity. But to wear a long frock-coat, and
sell collars and neckties behind a counter--I am afraid I wasn’t made
for it.”

He laughed at the vision of himself. The lawyer smiled too. The dark,
heavily-cut face, with its great forehead and bright clever eyes, giving
its promise of strength and intellect, seemed fitted for more strenuous
work than shrewd buying and polite selling of hosiery.

“Well, you’ll think it over,” said the lawyer. “Yes,” said Goddard. “It
strikes me I have a deal of thinking to do the next few days.”

He got into a District train to return to the workshop, from which he
had obtained a couple of hours’ leave of absence. The journey passed
in a dream. The fortune that had befallen him seemed almost beyond his
powers of realisation. The prospective changes in his life presented
themselves before him in quick succession--the suggestion of one leading
to the shock of another. His trade would be abandoned, unless he chose
to continue it as a hobby. He need never do an hour’s work again as long
as he lived. He could live in a comfortable house of his own, surround
himself with books--an endless vista of shelf upon shelf quivered before
his eyes. The possession of such an income demanded changes in habits,
food, raiment. It gave infinite leisure. And then a thought that had
gradually been piercing through the cloud of his bewilderment broke
out like a sun over his mind, causing his heart to leap in a thrilling
delight, as a great life-work was revealed to him. He no longer need
stand at the brink of the great struggle, lending a helping hand in all
too few hours of leisure. He could plunge into the very midst, fight for
the cause of the people with all his brain and heart and energies. His
face flushed, and his breath came quickly. It was a chilly day, and a
man seated opposite to him in the third-class carriage was surprised to
see him wipe the perspiration from his forehead.

And then there was Lizzie. He would tell her that evening. He pictured
to himself the ecstatic wonder on her pretty face. But the greater
passion held him, and Lizzie’s face floated vaguely behind the flashing
dreams of work and struggle and victories.

At the workshop he sought his employer, but the latter was absent.
Goddard took off his coat, put on his apron, rolled up his sleeves, and
turned to the fitting of the writing-table on which he had been engaged
that morning. The feeling that he was doing this familiar thing for the
last time made it appear strangely unreal. His tool-bag seemed no longer
to belong to him. He had given it, in his mind, to the young apprentice
who was working at his side. He joined in the desultory chat and jesting
of his companions with the ready good humour that had always made
him popular among them; but his brain throbbed with the effort of
self-control. He worked steadily, with the deft, sure touch of the
skilled craftsman. The pigeon-hole slides ran into the grooves without
a hairbreadth deviation, the little secret panel ran in and out without
the hitch that a grain of dust could have made. It was gratifying to
him to be able to put the finishing touches to a piece of work he had
undertaken. When he had done, he passed his hand caressingly over the
polished curves of the sliding cover. He was proud of his craft. It was
a beautiful thing that had shaped itself under his touch.

“If all the work I do in the future,” he thought, “is as perfect of its
kind as this, I need fear no rivals.”

*****

It was over. He had had a pleasant interview with his employer, had
received the hearty congratulations of his mates, who, after the manner
understanded of the British workman, drank to his health and prosperity
at a neighbouring tavern. He had bidden farewell to the trade in which
he had found so much honest happiness. Again the sense of unreality came
over him. The change had come so suddenly, so unexpectedly. That morning
he had risen a poor artisan; he would lie down that night the owner of
fabulous wealth, which he was going to Birmingham the next day to claim.
In spite of the strong will that strove to repress extravagant fancies,
and to put matters in a common-sense, practical light, his imagination
slipped elusively from his control, and ran riot amid the courts and
halls of airy palaces.



CHAPTER III--THE END OF AN ACT

Mr., or, as he loved to be designated, Captain Jenkyns, had once
followed the sea. But that was a long time ago. The serious part of his
life had been spent on a Thames steamer. The outer man was nautical,
and the carnal inner, as an inveterate craving for fiery drink clearly
proved; but many years of fresh water seemed to have washed the true
sailor’s kindly salt out of his nature. He was a thick-set, grizzled old
man, with bibulous superannuation written on every wrinkle that mounted
to his little red-rimmed eyes, and in every filament of the network of
tiny red veins on his nose.

He was sitting in the leathern arm-chair, with his back to the parlour
window, drinking his tea out of a saucer. Goddard and Lizzie sat
decorously at the tea-table. It was a ceremonious occasion, as the
use of the parlour, the potted ham and seed-cake on the table, Captain
Jenkyns’s brass-buttoned coat, and the little blue ribbon round Lizzie’s
neck, with the bow tied kittenishly under her ear, all combined to
testify. Previously Goddard used to join the domestic circle in the
kitchen, but then he had never been to Birmingham nor opened a banking
account at the City Bank. That made all the difference.

So far, conversation had not been animated. Goddard had conducted
it practically alone, sketching his visit to Birmingham, which had
terminated to his complete satisfaction. An offer for the shop and
good-will was already under consideration. The solicitors had advanced
him a good round sum for present needs.

“To keep a shop warn’t good enough for yer, I suppose,” Captain Jenkyns
had remarked in his agreeable way.

“No,” Goddard had answered coldly--he did not love the captain. “It
wasn’t.”

And then he had proceeded with his story. But the talk languished.
Lizzie, never expansive in her father’s presence, was less so to-day
than usual. Goddard’s sudden accession to wealth--riches beyond
the dreams of Lizzie’s avarice--somewhat awed her, after the first
excitement had passed. His cleverness, his personality, all in fact that
differentiated him from Joe Forster the tobacconist and his class, had
always put him a little beyond her reach; but now that he was a rich
man as well, she felt frightened and abashed. She offered him bread
and butter timidly, and flushed scarlet when she awkwardly flooded his
tea-cup. Then crumbs of cake went the wrong way, and she retired to the
window to hide her discomfiture.

“And now you’re a hindependent gentleman,” said the old man after a
pause, setting down his saucer. “I suppose you won’t want to be thinking
of marrying my gell.”

Goddard sprang to his feet. He had his own reasons for feeling stung to
the quick.

“You have no right to say that,” he cried hotly. “What do you take me
for?”

The ex-captain made the motion of “Ease her!” with his hand, and
chuckled.

“Do you think I don’t know human natur’, when I’ve seed boat-loads of it
every day for sixty years?”

“Well, you don’t know my nature,” said Daniel. “Lizzie, come here. We’ll
soon settle that matter.”

Lizzie turned from the window and advanced towards him, flushing
uncomfortably.

“Damme! I don’t want you to marry her. I don’t care a tinker’s damn,”
 said the old man with unreasonable heat, as Goddard met Lizzie and took
her by the hand. “I ain’t going down on my bended knees to ask you to
marry her.”

“Oh, father! don’t,” said Lizzie on the brink of tears.

“Never mind,” said Goddard. “_I_ want to marry you, and I’m going to
marry you. I’ll have the banns put up next Sunday.”

“Why don’t you have a special licence at once?” growled the Captain
sarcastically.

“Because I know my own business best,” said Goddard.

“Then I’m blarsted if you’ll have her at all!”

“Don’t make a scene, father,” Lizzie entreated. She tried to slip away,
but Goddard’s arm tightened and restrained her. He looked with disgust
on the ignoble old face that blinked in cantankerous dignity. Save on
the ground of pure ill-temper he could not understand his outburst.
Lizzie had often told him of the awful rows she had had with her father
about nothing at all. But Goddard was not the man to be bullied.

“Lizzie is over twenty-one, and I’m going to marry her whether you are
blasted or not, Captain Jenkyns. You can take that from me.”

“Then you’re a ------er fool than I took you for,” replied the Captain,
giving in beneath the young fellow’s strong gaze. “Marry in haste;
repent at leisure. You want to make a lady of her. She ain’t going to be
no lady. It’s only going to set her off her ’ead. Think she’s going
to recognise her poor old father when she lives in a fine ’ouse and
dressed in silks and satins? Not a bit of it. I know human natur’, I
tell yer. I brought her up to be an honest working man’s wife. That’s
what she’s fit for. So that she could give me a bit of dinner
on Sundays. Now you’re a going to take her away from her natural
surroundings, what she was born in, and make her neither flesh, nor
fowl, nor good red ’erring. Think I don’t know? And you, with your
’igh-falutin’ idea about being too good to keep a shop, you ought to
marry a duchess instead of a poor old sailor’s gell: that’s what you
ought to do.”

He produced a flat bottle of rum from his side pocket, filled his
half-emptied tea-cup with spirits, and drank the compound to console his
poor old sailor’s paternal heart.

Goddard, seeing that the storm was over, smiled at the mixture of
shrewdness and selfishness in the old man’s speech. Certain home-truths
made him wince a little; but the prospect of Captain Jenkyns not finding
a seat at his Sunday dinner-table did not present itself to him as in
any way pathetic.

“Well,” he said good-humouredly, “I am not going to marry a duchess, but
a girl as sweet as one. Isn’t that true, Liz? And so there’s an end to
the matter. I suppose I can count on you to give her away, Captain?”

“Yes, I’ll give her away. Jolly good riddance,” growled the old man.

A short while afterwards he rose, filled his clay pipe with cavendish,
which he ground fine between his hands, and excusing himself on
the score of business, left the two young people to themselves. His
destination, however, was a far-off river-side public, where he spent
the rest of the evening with his cronies, and informed them, in speech
that grew gradually more marked by thickness and profanity, of the
approaching splendour of his daughter’s fortunes.

“Cheer up, Lizzie,” said Goddard, as she began to clear away the
tea-things in silence. “We neither of us mind what he says.”

“He makes me so ashamed,” said Lizzie. “I didn’t know where to look.
He’s been at it ever since you’ve been away, saying as how you would
want to back out; and he made me quite miserable, he did.”

The baby-blue eyes filled with tears. Goddard consoled her as best he
could.

“There, there, don’t cry,” he said, patting her shoulder with his great
hand. “The banns will be put up next Sunday, as I said; and three weeks
won’t be long, you know; and then it will all be over, and we’ll start
fair. Leave those things alone for the present, and let us talk about
it.”

So they sat, side by side, over the fire, and spoke of the near future.
They would live in lodgings until they could find a house to suit them.
They discussed the size of the house, its position, the furniture, the
question of servants. They came nearer the present, and Goddard counted
out into her hand six crisp bank-notes wherewith to buy her trousseau.
Lizzie’s mind swam in ecstatic wonderment.

“All this--for me?” she whispered, awestricken.

“Yes, and as much more if you like. I am going to get a new rig out, so
why shouldn’t you?”

“Oh, Dan,” she broke out suddenly, throwing her arms round his neck, “I
didn’t quite know whether I loved you before--but I do now--Dan!”

There followed an interlude, during which the future was left in
abeyance.

“And I was wondering _how_ I was going to get a wedding-dress. Emmie and
I have talked for hours over it. Won’t I get a beauty now! White satin
with a long, long train. I saw one yesterday in a fashion-plate--oh!
just lovely.”

“I suppose you won’t feel married otherwise,” he said, with a quiet
smile. And then, seeing a quick shadow of dismay on her face, he laughed
and kissed her. “You shall drive to the church in a coach and four, with
the horses’ manes and tails all tied up with orange-blossoms, if you
like.”

She saw he was jesting kindly, and joined in the laugh--but
perfunctorily. The wedding-dress was the ecstatic, enrapturing part of
the ceremony. To jest upon it savoured of profanity.

After a while Lizzie returned to the tea-things, and, aided by Daniel,
washed them up in the kitchen.

“Only fancy! I am going to have servants to do this for me ever
afterwards,” she said brightly.

The possession of the trousseau money had strongly influenced the
girl’s facile temperament. The changed fortune ceased to be shadowy and
disquieting. It had assumed already a comforting, concrete form. The
overwhelming realisation of the potential finery that lay in those crisp
notes had crushed any feelings of delicacy in accepting the gift. The
first wondering delight and childlike impulse of gratitude to Goddard
was succeeded by a new sense of personal importance. Her garments would
be dazzling--the thought of them raised her to a height whence she could
almost look down upon Daniel. She no longer felt shy or constrained.

They returned to the parlour, a prim little room, with a pervading
impression of horse-hair, crocheted antimacassars, woolly mats and
wax-fruit, and again envisaged the future. Lizzie sat in her father’s
arm-chair, her hands deliciously idle in her lap, her mind all
transcendental millinery. Goddard rested his elbow on the table, pushed
back his hair from his forehead, and looked at her gravely.

“It’s not all going to be beer and skittles, you know, Liz,” he said.
“Although I have chucked the working-man, I am going in for precious
hard work all the same.”

“Why, whatever for, when you haven’t your living to get?” she asked in
surprise.

Like the apocryphal British workman, Lizzie hated work, and hated those
that liked it. She saw no point in unnecessary labour.

“No,” said Goddard, his face lighting up with the impulse of reply.
“Not my own living to get, thank God, but I have to help others to
get theirs. I may not be able to do much. But when a lot of men work
together, every little effort of each tells. And I mean, too, to come to
the front, Liz, for the nearer the front a man is, the bigger the things
he can do. And the front means a big position in Parliament, and that’s
what I’m going to try and get before I die. If I don’t, it won’t be for
want of fighting. But it will be a long time coming, and will take me
all I know. That’s why I didn’t take over the shop in Birmingham.”

“Oh, that’s why?” said Lizzie, trying to look sympathetic.

“Of course. You see it wasn’t because I suddenly became too big for my
boots--but I wanted all my time to myself for this other work. I have
made a fair start. I know something about the inner workings of things
already, and I can get men to listen to me when I speak. So I am going
to work like a nigger, Liz.”

She sat silent and plucked at her dress. It was very wonderful and
clever of Daniel to talk about becoming a Member of Parliament, but she
could not in the least see why it was necessary for him to work like a
nigger. In her heart she regretted the hosier’s shop, but she was afraid
to tell him so. She looked up at him and smiled, with the outside of her
features as it were, after the manner of dutiful yet uninterested woman.
Goddard, encouraged, continued to unfold his schemes. He was in intense
earnest, and spoke to her, as he had never spoken before, of the burning
questions of the day--the unequal struggle between labour and capital,
the iniquity of the living wage, the stupendous problem of the
unemployed, the great reforms on whose behalf he felt summoned forth to
fight. And as the passion grew upon him, his voice vibrated and his eyes
glowed, and his words waxed eloquent. He broke the bonds of his usual
speech with her, partly through a need of expansion, partly through a
half-conscious desire to awaken a little of the girl’s sympathy.

When he had done, and a little pause had followed, she looked up from
the puckering of her dress.

“That’s all lovely, Dan,” she said; “but what am _I_ to do?”

The question brought his thoughts down from the empyræan like a gash in
a balloon.

“Well, there will be the house to look after,” he said, in an altered
tone; “and then--well--there will be babies--and lots of things,” he
concluded lamely.

“Oh, I don’t like babies,” said Lizzie, with frank inconsequence. “They
always want such a lot of fussing after, and they’re always squalling.
I’m sure I shall want to smack them. Nasty little things.”

He looked at her rather perplexedly. It was a delicate subject. She
caught his glance and coloured.

“You shouldn’t go saying such things,” she murmured, giggling in
embarrassment--“and we not married yet!”

Then something seemed to catch him by the heart, a queer chilly grip,
and tug it downwards. He blamed himself for having suggested the idea,
although he had done so without shadowing thoughts. The innuendo jarred
upon him--he could not tell why.

“I am sorry,” he said gravely.

There was a silence for some time. Goddard idly turned over the leaves
of a rickety album filled with faded photographs of stiff, staring
people in the costume of the sixties.

Lizzie lay back in her chair, and devised the white satin wedding-dress.
At last she called to him softly.

“Dan.”

He turned, saw her reclining there, smiling at him. Her cheeks were so
pink, her fair hair so bewilderingly soft and fluffy, her parted lips
so fresh and inviting, her young figure so cleanly cut, in spite of the
ill-fitting dress and cheap corsets beneath, her white throat set off by
the coquettish blue ribbon so alluring, that the heart of the young man,
who knew little of the ways and fascinations of women, threw off the
cold grip in a great quick throb.

“You haven’t given me a kiss all the time, Dan,” she said without
stirring.

Well, he rose and kissed her.

And the next day he called on the vicar of the parish, and settled the
question of the banns. It was over. He felt lighter. There is nothing
that is more irksome to a strong-willed man than indecision, and Goddard
had passed through a period of grave misgiving.

On his way down the path to the vicarage gate, however, he met Mr.
Aloysius Gleam just entering it. The Member let fall his gold-rimmed
eye-glass in some surprise, as he greeted him.

“What, more miracles? You in the house of Rimmon?” he exclaimed, for
Goddard had been a thorn in the vicar’s flesh for some time past.

“I’m going to get married,” replied Goddard, by way of explanation.

The Member drooped his shoulders and lowered the point of his stick in a
helpless attitude, and looked at him with an air of dismay. “What _are_
you doing it for? Just when you ought to be going round the country like
a firebrand. Now you’ll be a damp faggot. I know. Go back and tell the
vicar you didn’t mean it. It was an elaborate ‘draw’ on your part.”

Daniel stuck his hands in his pockets and laughed.

“I feel inclined to answer you like Touchstone,” he said.

“The deuce you do,” said Gleam.

A quick glance passed between them, and a shade of annoyance came over
Goddard’s dark face. The analogy perhaps was closer than he intended.
The other might retort with the gibes of Jacques.

“Of course it isn’t my business,” added Gleam in a deprecating tone.
“But it might have been better for you to have waited--considering
the change in your fortune, and your scheme of life generally. Well, I
suppose folks will marry. It is even within the bounds of possibility I
may do it myself one of these days.”

He put up his eye-glass and passed his fingers over his tight fair
moustache, as if to prepare himself for the ordeal.

“It won’t interfere with any of our plans, I can assure you,” said
Goddard.

“That’s right. Don’t let it, for goodness’ sake. But marriage is a
function of two independent variables, as they say in the differential
calculus--and a deuced tough function too. Anyhow, if you’re bent upon
it, I wish you luck.”

They shook hands and parted. Goddard turned away slowly.

The Member’s words sounded again the note of warning, the same note that
had rung in those of the old man on the previous day, the same that had
rung in his own ears.

“But I should have been a knave to have done differently,” he thought to
himself. “There was only one alternative.”

He had deliberately chosen the part of the fool.

“I am damned glad,” he said aloud, swinging his stick. “I’ll walk
straight, now and ever afterwards, whatever happens.”

Three weeks afterwards they were married, and Lizzie’s wedding-dress,
to her trembling joy, was fully described in the _Sunington Weekly
Chronicle_.



CHAPTER IV--LADY PHAYRE AND THE COMING MAN


“I WISH something new would happen,” said Lady Phayre.

“There is the session just begun,” replied Mr. Aloysius Gleam, drawing
his arm-chair an inch nearer the fire. “We can promise you many New Year
novelties.”

“Call you them novelties?” asked Lady Phayre. “They will be as old
as--as the antepenultimate barrel-organ tune.”

“You want to go too fast. Great political reforms move slowly.”

“Yes, that is true--deadeningly true. I think I read it once in a
newspaper.”

Gleam laughed, and spread out his hands before the blaze. He was
familiar with her mood--a mild spiritual unrest, induced by supreme
bodily comfort and intellectual disturbance. He had the faculty of the
aesthetic as well as ultrademocratic tendencies, and he appreciated the
harmony between her mood and the dim afternoon hour with its gathering
shadows in comers of the room. Her comfortable attitude, with one
hand hanging over the arm of the chair; her costume, a dark fur-edged
tea-gown; her expression of wistful meditation--all betokened a
relaxation of fibre trying to pamper itself into depression. So the
Member laughed, and a smile played round his clean-shaven lips in the
silence that followed.

The politician within the esoteric revolutionary ring, who did not
know Lady Phayre, was like a Positivist ignorant of Auguste Comte. The
analogy halts, however. Lady Phayre was far from being an evangelist;
she was not even an apostle. She had been left with the key of a
pleasant situation, and, like a wise woman, she used it. Her enemies
called her insincere. If the late Sir Ephraim, they said, had sat as
a Conservative, and had formed the cartilage as it were of a brilliant
wing of that party, Lady Phayre’s flat would have become an audaciously
unauthorised Primrose Habitation. But political opponents will say
anything.

Certainly she took no combative part in political warfare. Her functions
were rather those of an etherealised _vivandière_ to the band. The
members came exhausted into her drawing-room, where she revived them
with pannikins of sympathy, and spread the delicate ointment of flattery
over their bruises. Not but what she exposed herself in times of need
to the dangers and fatigues of the campaign. She had risked typhoid
in slums, and congestion of the lungs in draughty halls. She also kept
bravely up with the march, picking her dainty way through prodigious
quantities of speeches, pamphlets, and articles, both in type and
manuscript. Now and then she stumbled sorely. Bimetallism was a morass,
and trade statistics stone fences. On these occasions she would cry out
for a helping hand, preferably that of Aloysius Gleam; after which she
would survey herself with rueful introspection, and put to herself the
question addressed to the immortal Scapin.

Her mood of to-day followed one of these periodic rescuings.

“Hendrick’s amendment is coming on this evening,” said Aloysius Gleam at
last. “The audacity of it is novel enough. Come down. It will amuse you.
Burnet has a lady’s ticket going a-begging.”

“I have had enough of Hendrick for some time,” replied Lady Phayre.
“He took me down to dinner last night at the M’Kays’, and could talk of
nothing else. I wish you could put some sense into him.”

“I wish I could. But a Collectivist who has broken loose is running
headlong to destruction.”

“That was what I told him. Push Collectivism to its logical conclusion,
and we get Mr. Bellamy’s intolerable paradise. He got purple in the
face, said he was nothing if not logical, insisted on the establishment
of comparative values for different kinds of labour and products, and
called me a reactionary because I asked him how the State was going to
determine the number of mutton chops that would go to a sonnet.”

“Is that phrase your own, Lady Phayre?” asked Gleam, pricking up his
ears.

“No,” she replied, with a little touch of audacity. “I snapped it up as
an unconsidered trifle out of a review article.”

“Goddard’s, I think, on Extremism as applied to Practical Politics.”

“You are an encyclopaedia,” said Lady Phayre, laughing. “You know
everything.”

“Did you like the article?”

“Immensely. I detached it from the review, and restitched it with
blue ribbon to use as a text-book. Without it I might have been led to
destruction by Hendrick.”

“Ah, my dear Lady Phayre--I shall not tell it in Gath; but when are you
going to have views of your own?”

“Views? Of course I have views,” said Lady Phayre, comfortably reversing
the crossing of her feet, “just like everybody else, only theirs are
fixed and mine are--dissolving. It gives greater variety to life. But I
think the Goddard view will be lasting.”

“I shall tell him. He will be flattered.”

“Oh, you know him?”

“Pretty intimately. I may say that I trained him--in the sporting, not
the pedagogic sense.”

“You never told me. Have you many more lights under your bushel?”

“A dazzling illumination of unsuspected virtues. But I didn’t do very
much for Goddard except put him in the way of things; and he would have
come to the front right enough without me. He is the coming man of the
younger school of Progressists. The anomaly of his generation--a hot
reformer with luminous common-sense--a popular demagogue with an idea of
proportion--an original thinker--a powerful, eloquent speaker. Look
at the work he has done on the Council, the Progressive
League--ramifications spreading all over the country with organised
courses of lectures on civism, social economics, and what not. Decidedly
the coming man.”

“It does one good to see you enthusiastic,” cried Lady Phayre with a
laugh. “Your criticisms are generally more bracing than genial. But why
don’t I know Goddard?”

“He surely has not sprung suddenly into your horizon?”

“Of course not. The newspapers--general talk--I know all about him that
way. I meant, why don’t I know him personally?”

There was a touch of reprimand in the “why.” Gleam was Lord Chamberlain
in Ordinary to her ladyship.

“I was waiting until he got into the House at the next general election.
You see, until seven years ago, when he came into some money that
rendered him independent, he was a carpenter or something--no,
cabinetmaker--and so, to be frank, I never thought of it.”

“And you call yourself a Radical! Well, what is the matter with
him? Does he wear corduroys tied up at the knees, and carry a red
pocket-handkerchief in his hat?”

“Oh dear no!” exclaimed Gleam hastily. “He is presentable. I told you of
a little training----”

“Well, then, lose no time in bringing him,” said Lady Phayre. “He surely
must have heard of _me_.”

She was proud of her position: somewhat jealous of it too. That a
generation of Progressists should arise which knew not Lady Phayre was a
dreadful contingency. She had a prescriptive right to the homage of
the coming man of the wing. Besides, an ex-cabinetmaker whose views on
social polity she had thought worth while to tie up with blue ribbon was
a novelty.

Aloysius Gleam took his leave. At the door he was summoned to pause.

“He won’t walk up and down the room and shake his finger at me, will
he?”

“Like Fenton?” he laughed. “No, you can reassure your nerves. By the
way,” he cried suddenly, “there is a large meeting at Stepney next week,
Thursday, at which Goddard is going to speak, and I have promised to say
something. Would you care to come?”

“I shall be delighted,” said Lady Phayre. “Then I can see for myself
whether he is like Fenton.”

“Oh, I can guarantee that,” said Gleam, with a final word of adieu.

She sank back in her chair relieved. Fenton was an aggressive person,
fond of hurling at her his theory of State education of babies as the
sovereign panacea for the Weltschmerz. She was a practical woman; and
philosophical ideas, unless gracefully conveyed, rather bored her.
She could see no sense in their absolute use. A limitless volume of
abstraction did not interest her so much as a cubic inch of solid fact.
That was why she liked Aloysius Gleam.

She meditated a little longer before the fire, then she switched on the
electric light, rang for the curtains to be drawn, and re-read Daniel
Goddard’s article until it was time to dress for dinner.

*****

It was not a new experience for Lady Phayre. She was familiar with
platforms, and the sight of the pale, moving mass of human faces in
front. She had listened to the speeches of many demagogues to the
proletariat, and had found them singularly lacking in originality.
Accordingly, it was with the air of an old campaigner that she settled
herself down by the side of Aloysius Gleam, and surveyed the decorous
occupants of the platform, and the noisy but enthusiastic audience of
working men and women in the body of the hall.

Proceedings had already commenced when they entered. The chairman was
concluding his introductory speech. The courteous applause that followed
his remarks suddenly grew into the thunder that comes from the heart.
Goddard was standing before the table, his massive dark face lit
with pleasure at his welcome. He began to speak. His voice, rich and
sonorous, rang out through the last dying cheers, and compelled willing
attention. After a few moments he held the audience in his grasp.

Lady Phayre bent forward and looked with interested curiosity at the
speaker, whom she saw mostly in profile, at intervals full-face, when he
flashed round to the side benches. Her quick perception appreciated the
mastery he had obtained over his hearers, their instant responsiveness
to his touch. She herself was gradually drawn under the spell, felt
herself but a chord of the instrument that responded to every shade
of invective, irony, and promise. She was not unconscious of a certain
unfamiliar sensuousness in this surrender of her individuality. Perhaps
feminine instincts that had long lain dormant were awakened. The sense
of power in the man set working deep-hidden springs of sensation. A
strain of the barbaric lingers even in so super-refined a product as
Lady Phayre. When Goddard had finished speaking, she leaned back in her
chair with a kind of sigh.

“That’s the genuine article, isn’t it?” said Gleam, turning to her
smilingly.

She nodded, rested her glance thoughtfully upon him for a moment. He
seemed so small, precise, uninspiring compared with the huge-limbed man
with the leonine face and rolling voice who had just been swaying her.

“He is a power among these people,” she said below her breath.

“I deserve some credit, don’t I?” he remarked. He was proud of Goddard,
honestly delighted at the impression his pupil had made upon Lady
Phayre.

The succeeding speeches, modest and formal, after Goddard’s magnetic
harangue, were quickly over. After three cheers for Dan Goddard, the
audience broke up. The occupants of the platform formed into little
groups. Gleam drew Goddard from the largest of these.

“I want to present you to Lady Phayre, the Lady Superior of the League.”

And before the other could reply, he had taken him prisoner by the
lapel of his coat, and brought him, in his brisk way, to where Lady
Phayre was standing, and had gone through the formality of presentation.

“You have had a great success to-night, Mr. Goddard,” she said.

“It is easy to speak to an enthusiastic audience,” said Goddard. “You
see we mean business,” he added, addressing Gleam. “We’ve done our share
in agitation. It is for you people in the House now to carry the bill
through.”

“I’ll undertake to see that they don’t halt by the way,” said Lady
Phayre with bewitching authority.

“I wish you were in the House, Goddard,” said Gleam.

“Get me a seat and I’ll come,” he replied with a laugh.

“You’ll have the Hough division offered you according to general
whisper.”

“Not under a miracle,” said Goddard. “The moderate element in the
constituency is too strong.”

“I heard they were going to run an Independent Labour candidate,”
 interposed Lady Phayre. “I know the neighbourhood pretty well. Some
friends I often stay with live near Ecclesby, and I hear the local
gossip through them.”

“They would withdraw the Labour man and support Goddard, if he stood,”
 explained Gleam.

But Goddard laughed deprecatingly and shook his head.

“It is all in the clouds. Repson has not resigned the seat yet. It is
only a rumour that he intends doing so, and haste in the matter would
be indecent. Anyhow,” he added, after a pause, to Lady Phayre, “if
you would tell Mr. Gleam any news you may get, you would be doing me a
service.”

“Why not come and get it first hand?” asked Lady Phayre sweetly. “I
should be most pleased to see you if you would call--13 Queen’s Court
Mansions--Tuesdays.”

“You are very kind,” said Goddard, bowing. “I had better give you a
card,” she said, taking one from an elaborate little memoranda-book;
“then you won’t forget the address.”

They remained a while in desultory talk. Then Lady Phayre departed under
Gleam’s escort, and Goddard returned to the group that had been waiting
for him. An eager discussion, prolonged until the party broke up in the
street, swept away from Goddard’s mind every lingering impression of his
first interview with Lady Phayre.



CHAPTER V--LIZZIE

The National Progressive League, under whose auspices the meeting at
Stepney had been held, had originated in the minds of certain members
of the extreme Parliamentary left, the most active of whom were the late
Sir Ephraim Phayre, the chief, and Mr. Aloysius Gleam, his henchman. Its
primary object was to form a strong wing of the Liberal party, in
which extremists, opportunists, and the waverers on the edge of
the Independent Labour Party might rally together around practical
Collectivist principles. It sought to embrace academic Radicalism
and the interests of the Labour Party in a broader scheme of imperial
policy.

When Goddard threw himself into the work of the League it had all the
promise and vitality of youth. Centres were being rapidly established
throughout the kingdom. Systems of lectures on social and political
subjects were being organised. Meetings, conferences, and demonstrations
were arranged under its auspices. Pamphlets were published from its
headquarters in London, as well as a vigorously written journal. Besides
thus working on its own account, the League was gradually gathering
influence enough to constitute itself a great agency. It sent speakers
to political gatherings, and canvassers to Parliamentary and municipal
elections. It gained the confidence of the great trades unions and
operatives’ associations, and provided helpers in labour conflicts.
It was in touch at all points with political life--a vast undertaking,
offering an unlimited field for the energies of its supporters. Its
Statistical Bureau alone was capable of almost infinite extension.

It was with a thrilling sense of pride that Goddard found himself in the
full stream of the new movement. Every day brought him an added sense of
power and responsibility. To qualify himself for the tasks that devolved
upon him, he read deeply and widely, setting himself resolutely to fill
in the gaps of his self-education. He studied French, German, Latin,
beginning the latter with _mensa_, like a child, and strove to train his
taste and judgment by extending his acquaintance with pure literature.
His vigorous intellect assimilated rapidly, both from books and men, and
gradually, as the months passed into years, his views became
clearer, his judgments more penetrating, and his grasp more sure and
far-reaching.

The League work, and afterwards his election to a political club,
brought him into frequent contact with Aloysius Gleam. The latter was
anxious to keep in touch with Goddard, not only because he foresaw
in him a valuable man for the party, but also because he took a keen
personal interest in the young man’s career. He had all a shrewd,
generous little man’s vanity in extending to a big man the patronage he
felt would soon not be needed. To his friends he prophesied great things
of Goddard. He introduced him to the chief shortly before Sir Ephraim’s
death.

“It is courageous of you to tackle that powerful-faced young giant,”
 said Sir Ephraim, laughing.

“Yes,” replied Gleam, “I feel like a hen hatching an ostrich egg.”

And when the young ostrich stalked out of the shell, and in the course
of time took up its position in the world as a superior bird, Aloysius
Gleam looked on with undisguised satisfaction.

Once, in the early days of Goddard’s affluence, Gleam interrupted a warm
discussion.

“Why don’t you take elocution lessons?”

“I never thought of it,” Goddard replied. “I have no desire to become an
elegant orator.”

“It might be useful to you in your private speech,” said Gleam,
looking at him in his shrewd way. Goddard frowned perplexedly. Then he
understood and coloured slightly.

“I don’t want to pretend to be better than I am,” he said. “If my speech
shows I belong to the people, so much the better. No one will think the
worse of me.”

Gleam laid his hand kindly on the young democrat’s arm--they were
walking up and down the lobby of the House--and broke out into an
impetuous harangue. The young man’s argument was easily demolished.

The result was that in this, as in many other things, he took Gleam’s
advice. He was no fool for angry pride to furnish him with cap and
bells. He saw, when he came to consider the matter dispassionately, that
though London Doric might be sweet in the ears of the proletariat, it
grated on the finer susceptibilities of the House of Commons. Whereupon
he set to work upon elocution with the tireless energy of a Demosthenes.

So in seven years he had gained for himself an ever-growing reputation.
The great reviews had opened their pages to him. The League intrusted
him with responsible work. He was on the London County Council, and a
seat in Parliament awaited him at no distant future.

To please his wife, Daniel had not settled down in Sunington. He had
bidden farewell reluctantly, for it meant the sundering of many ties,
and the surrendering of many interests. But Lizzie had been insistent.
Visions of domestic harmony, disturbed by incursions of Captain Jenkyns
in an advanced state of profanity, had prompted earnest beseeching.
Perhaps she was wise; for soon after her marriage the old reprobate,
to the exceeding great scandal of the neighbourhood, took to himself a
mistress-housekeeper in the shape of a flaunting, red-faced female of
pugnacious instincts, who had retained possession of the house after his
death. Their goings on, Emily and Sophie declared, had been something
awful.

Lizzie had been well out of it. Daniel would never have been able to
hold up his head for the disgrace; whereat Daniel had smiled somewhat
sardonically. His skin was a little too tough, he said, for vicarious
reprobation.

But Lizzie had other and more private reasons for wishing to migrate.
In the first flush of her dignity she had shrunk from the streets with
which she had been too grossly familiar during her early girlhood. She
had larked with the butcher’s boy, played kiss in the ring with the
greengrocer’s assistant, and kept very serious company with Joe Forster
the tobacconist. Such daily reminiscences are apt to prove embarrassing.
The translated Lizzie had felt out of her element in Sunington. So, to
please her, Daniel had come into London and taken a house in Notting
Hill, where they had remained during the seven years of their married
life.

*****

It was late when Goddard stood before the familiar door, on his return
from the Stepney meeting. An expression of impatience escaped his lips
as he noticed a light in the basement; otherwise, with the exception
of the faintly illuminated fanlight, the house was in darkness. He
let himself in with his latch-key, and walking the length of the dim
passage, descended the kitchen stairs, groping his way. He opened the
kitchen door softly, and found the housemaid asleep, with her head
on the deal table. Awakened by his presence, the girl started in some
confusion.

“Why haven’t you gone to bed, Jane?”

His tone was less one of reprimand than that of a man repeating a
disagreeable formula.

“Mistress was very poorly to-night, sir, and I thought I had better sit
up till you came.”

He nodded, looked at her sombrely from beneath his eyebrows.

“Did you see her to bed comfortably?”

“Oh yes, sir.”

“Hasn’t Miss Jenkyns been here?”

“No, sir. Miss Sophie came for an hour this afternoon.”

“Very well,” said Goddard, turning on his heel. “Go to bed now, there’s
a good girl. You must be tired.”

He went heavily up the stairs again, turned off the gas in the hall,
and continued his ascent. On the first floor he paused, leaned his ear
against the bedroom door, and listened. Satisfied with a sound of heavy
breathing within, he mounted the next flight and lit the gas in his own
study, stirred a blackening fire, and after warming his hands for a few
seconds, sat down at his writing-table.

It was a plainly furnished room, lined with books in sober bindings,
sloping and falling, with great gaps, untidily, in the shelves. A great
table, covered with a red baize cloth and piled with papers, pamphlets,
and odd volumes, occupied the centre. An old arm-chair, its seat filled
with a set of blue books, was drawn up near the fire. The mantelpiece
was bare, save for a few pipes and smoker’s odds and ends. Above was
pinned a broad-sheet almanac issued by some Reform organisation. Nowhere
appeared any attempt at adornment.

Goddard sat in his round-backed wooden chair, opened a couple of letters
that had come by the evening post, and then drummed with his fingers on
the table in a preoccupied way. The setting of his face was too stem to
express pain, and yet the deep vertical furrow between the brows and the
tightly compressed lips indicated thoughts far removed from joyousness.
At last he shook himself, brushed his hair from his forehead with a
hasty gesture, and drawing a great breath, which ended like a sigh,
separated some papers from the chaotic mass, and set to work on them,
pen in hand. He worked for half-an-hour, only pausing to fill and light
a pipe, and then with a yawn he rose and went through the communicating
door into the adjoining room. A camp bedstead and the bare bedroom
requisites were all that it contained. His seven years of affluence had
brought him no sense of the minor luxuries of life. His personal tastes
were as simple as when he lodged in the little top-floor-back in the
working folks’ street in Sunington.

With his watch he drew from his waistcoat pocket the card he had
received at Stepney: “Lady Phayre, 15 Queen’s Court Mansions.” He had
forgotten her existence. He glanced at the card rather contemptuously,
tore it across, and threw it into the grate. Then he undressed and slept
the sleep of the weary man.

The next morning he began his breakfast alone, although the table was
laid for two. As he ate, he ran through his correspondence, and jotted
down notes in his pocket-book. He was a busy man, particularly
occupied just now with heavy committee-work on the Council, and sundry
organisation schemes connected with the League, and every moment was of
value.

Presently the door opened, and Lizzie entered. She did not meet his
following glance, but came forward with sullen, downcast eyes, and
silently took her place at the table. The seven years had pressed upon
her with the weight of fourteen. The devil had walked off with his own
beauty. Although she was barely thirty, the plump freshness of youth
had gone. The pink cheeks had paled and grown flabby; round contours
had fallen into puffiness; the pout of the soft lips had relaxed
into unlovely looseness of mouth marked by marring lines. A common,
slatternly woman, with loose untidy hair and swollen eyelids, and
dressed in an old morning wrapper, she was as unlike the rosebud
bride of Sunington as the light is unlike the darkness; and yet by the
inexorable law of development she was the same woman.

She poured herself out a cup of tea and broke some dry bread on her
plate. Neither had spoken. Goddard’s brow darkened a little as he went
on with his breakfast and his papers. She stole from time to time a
shifting glance at him. The expression of absorbed interest on his dark
face irritated her. The dead silence became unbearable. Suddenly she
thrust back her chair a few inches, and struck the table sharply with
her fingers.

“For God’s sake say something, can’t you,” she cried half-hysterically.

Goddard looked up gravely and laid down his pencil.

“What can I say to you, Lizzie?”

“Anything. Curse me, nag at me--anything; only don’t sit there as if I
was the scum of the earth and you God Almighty.”

“Well, you have broken your promise once more. What else can I tell
you? You can’t expect me to be pleased, and I see no good in cursing and
nagging. So I hold my tongue.”

“I wish I was dead,” said Lizzie bitterly.

Goddard shrugged his shoulders. He had done his best according to his
lights, and he had failed. Sometimes his heart echoed her wish.

“You have only yourself to thank,” he said.

“Have I? I’ve not got you to thank for anything. Oh dear, no! You know
you hate me. You never did care for me. Even when we was first married
you cared for your dirty old politics more than you did for me. Oh, why
didn’t I marry Joe Forster? He has three big shops now, and can hold up
his head as much as you can, for all you’re a County Councillor and have
your name in the newspapers. And what good does that do to me, I’d like
to know? It’s all your fault, every bit your fault, and you drive me to
it; you know you do, and you’d be glad if I dropped down dead now.”

It was not a new story. Her words had no longer power to move him to
anger. He accepted her grimly as a burden he had to bear through life.

“We made a mistake in marrying, Lizzie,” he said. “We both found it out
long ago. I was not the sort of man you wanted, and perhaps I ought to
have remained single. But I have done my duty by you honestly, and--so
help me, God--I always shall. What is it you want that I do not try to
give you?”

Many and many a woman, when she has been asked that question, the
helpless question across the league-sundering gulf, has answered, aloud
or dumbly, in a great yearning: “Love, a breath of passion, a touch of
tenderness.” But in Lizzie that craving had never been deeper than
the bloom on her cheek, and with the bloom it had perished. There are
natures too common for the need of love, which is an instinct upwards of
the soul. Instead, she answered querulously: “Why don’t you give me some
money, and let me live away, somewhere?”

“To do God knows what with yourself? Not I, unless you would like this
sort of thing.” He took from among the circulars with which he was daily
deluged a chance-sent prospectus of a Home, and put it before her. She
glanced at it, and then crumpled it up fiercely, and threw it into the
fire.

“If you’re going to do that with me, you’d better look sharp, I can tell
you,” she cried, trembling with sudden rage. “How long have you been
making that little plan?”

“It is no plan. You could only go in there of your own free will. My
only plan is to shelter you here, and make life as happy for you as you
will let me.”

Lizzie sniffed contemptuously.

“What did you send for that thing for?”

“It came quite by chance.”

“That’s a damn lie!”

He bent forward, took her wrist, and looked at her sternly between the
eyes, which lowered, abashed.

“You know I never tell lies,” he said. “I tell you that you shall never
go to such a place unless you wish to. But you shall stay in my house.
And listen to me. If this goes on much longer, I shall have to engage a
special attendant to live here, who will watch you like a cat. It will
be a disgrace for you that you can well spare yourself. So be warned,
and turn over a new leaf.”

He rose, opened the morning paper, and skimmed through the news summary.
Lizzie rubbed the wrist that he had held in an unconsciously tight grip,
and then she began to whimper. But her tears had lost their effect upon
Daniel. They came with maudlin frequency.

At last she broke into a great spluttering sob. “I have been miserable
ever since little Jacky died. I wish I had died with him.”

The name of the child, dead three years before, touched the man’s heart.
Of the two, perhaps he had felt the loss the more. Standing behind her,
he laid a hand upon her shoulder, and said in a rough, tenderer tone--

“It was hard, my girl. But you are not the only one. Other women have
been left desolate.”

“And other women have wished they were dead. I expect most of ’em do.
It’s beastly to be a woman.”

“Well, you can’t help that,” he said grimly, resuming his newspaper.
“You had better try and make the best of it.”

The servant entered with his boots, which she placed on the hearthrug.
When he had laced them up he stamped them into ease and looked more
cheerful. A man’s moral tone always undergoes a subtle change with the
donning of the morning boot or the evening slipper.

“I shall be back for supper early this evening,” he said, “so you won’t
be lonely. Now be a good girl. Do.”

She made no reply, although he had spoken kindly and forgivingly, and
she knew from past experience that the subject of the last night’s slip
would not be alluded to again. As soon as he had gone, she drew from her
dressing-gown pocket a soiled penny novelette, and settled down to her
idle morning by the fireside. In the afternoon Emily came, a weary,
shrivelled woman, to remain with her for a few hours. For some time past
Daniel had made the sisters a secret allowance, as compensation for loss
of time in their dressmaking business, on the condition of their keeping
Lizzie company. Society in the ordinary sense she had none. It was the
loneliness and idleness that had crushed her. At first it had seemed a
grand thing to wear pretty dresses, and keep her hands white, and give
over all the work of the house to the servants. Now the habit of sloth
was ingrained. She had no occupation, no interests. Even her girlish
fondness for finery was gone. The costume that gave her least trouble to
put on was the one she selected. Like the once free-swimming sea-anemone
she had grown encrusted to her rock, stretching out lazy tentacles. When
her cousin arrived she was still attired in the old dressing-gown and
down-at-heel slippers she had thrust on as she got out of her bed.
Emily, who was precise and businesslike, hurried her off with an
indignation not staled by custom, to dress herself decently. During her
toilet she made the usual confession to Emily with pleas in mitigation,
and the usual indictment of Daniel. But Emily was not sympathetic. She
banged in the drawer, where she had been arranging Lizzie’s slovenly
kept under-linen, and pulled out another viciously.

“You should have married a man like father,” she said. “That’s the sort
of husband you should have had, who would have pulled you out of bed by
your hair and given you a good sound hiding. Daniel’s thousands of miles
too good for you.”

Lizzie turned round and faced her passionately, straining at the ends of
her stay-lace.

“I wish sometimes he would beat me. There! I’ll make him do it one of
these days.”

“Dan’s not the man to treat his wife like a dog.”

“No. He treats me like a tabby-cat--beneath his notice. He has always
done it. I may be a silly fool, but it doesn’t require much intellec’ to
know when folks look upon you as the dirt beneath their feet.”

“Well, the dirt ought to be grateful when a man like Daniel condescends
to put his foot upon it,” replied Emily with conviction.

“Why didn’t you marry him yourself?” said Lizzie witheringly.

“Elizabeth Goddard, you’re no better than a fool,” returned Emily. “And
if you’ve nothing pleasanter to say, I’ll go back home.”

As on many previous occasions, the threat moved Lizzie to tears, then
to reproaches, finally to entreaties and submission. When peace was made
they went off on a shopping expedition to Kensington High Street, where
Lizzie, to make amends, bought her cousin a bonnet, and interested
herself in a discussed readjustment of trimming. But outside a
newsvendor’s Emily pointed with her umbrella to an item in the contents
bill of a Radical evening paper: “Dan Goddard at Stepney--Enthusiastic
Reception.”

“Oh yes, I see,” said Lizzie petulantly. “I suppose you think I ought to
fall down and worship him when he comes back.”

Her ill-humour returned, and she regretted the bonnet--an additional
grievance.

“If it wasn’t for him I’m blessed if I’d ever come near you,” said Emily
in the discussion that followed.

And so it happened that when Goddard came home he found his wife in a
fit of sulks. The experiment of a domestic evening failed, as it had
done so many times before. She replied monosyllabically to his attempts
at conversation, refused point-blank his offer to put her into a cab and
drive her to a theatre--a wild delight of past years--and retired to bed
at nine o’clock.

Goddard mounted to his own den, and plunged into his work with the zest
of a man who has conscientiously acquitted himself of an irksome
duty, and is free to apply himself without scruple to more congenial
occupations.



CHAPTER VI--THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES

It was the Tuesday luncheon-hour. The diningroom of the political
club was thronged with hungry councillors from Spring Gardens, and
politicians to whom the weekly meetings of the Council were a matter of
concern. The air buzzed with eager talk. There was a continual going to
and fro between the tables--greetings, handshakes, hurried conversations
between lunchers and passers-by. Elation over an important measure
successfully carried through was the prevailing tone, encouraging
grandiose imaginings. London was to have its hanging-gardens, like
Babylon of old, and the streams that water the New Jerusalem would take
a lesson in limpidness from the Thames.

Goddard sat at a table with three others, who were thus forecasting the
municipal millennium. He listened with a smile. Had he not just pricked
the visionaries with kindly satire in his review article on Extremism?

“And all _ad majorent L. C. C. gloriam_,” said he. “That way madness
lies.”

There was an impatient laugh.

“You are a reactionary.”

“I am a practical man,” said Goddard. “I don’t like confusing means
with ends. Matthew Arnold was right in calling faith in machinery our
besetting sin. We have beatified too many of our institutions already,
and made them too much puffed up with conceit for work-a-day purposes.
We are always in danger of drifting into the idea that the work exists
for the glorification of the instrument.”

“But what about our ideals?” cried one. “They are as necessary for the
life of the party of progress, as the reverence for decayed antiquity is
for that of the Tories. Man is a dreaming animal, and his dreams inspire
his actions.”

“Hence this crazy society,” said Goddard, with a laugh. “I understand
now. But man has reason to direct his inspirations. Have your ideals by
all means, but see they are true ones--that they can be attained without
the sacrifice of minor commonplace reforms. Best to build up your ideal
as you go along.”

“Synthetic socialism--a good title,” murmured another, a journalist in
the labour interest.

“Ezekiel has done it all before you, with his line upon line, precept
upon precept,’” remarked Goddard. “They did know something down in
Judee. But you’ve begged the question as to the glorification of the
County Council. You want to make London flow with milk and honey.
Is that your real end? Or is it to pose as a composite middle-class
Jehovah? I think the latter. No. I believe in progress. I have given up
my life to the cause of it, and I will fight for it till the last breath
in my body. But I will look upon myself and any institution to which I
belong as the merest tool in the hands of social evolution.” Here the
discussion was interrupted by the waiter, whose temporary ideal was the
perfection of his guidance of Goddard in the matter of sweets.

“I will have another helping of beef,” said Goddard. “I am hungry.”

“That accounts for your paradoxical humour,” said the journalist. “I
have often noticed it.” Goddard nodded and leant back in his chair. Just
then he caught sight of Aloysius Gleam, the pink of neatness, with an
orchid in the buttonhole of his frock-coat, scanning the room through
his eye-glass. When his glance met Goddard he came forward with the
expression of a man who has found the object of his search. Pending the
arrival of the beef, Goddard rose and advanced to meet him.

“I thought I should find you,” said Gleam. “I want to talk to you
seriously.”

“So do I,” said Goddard. “You’re the very man I was longing for. Perhaps
it’s about the same matter.”

“Perhaps,” said Gleam, with a twinkle of amusement. “You broach it.”

“The rumour about Ecclesby.”

“What rumour?” asked Gleam, becoming grave.

“The strike. There is a big storm brewing for the near future, I’m
afraid. Haven’t you heard?”

“Not a suggestion,” returned Gleam.

“I had a report from Willaston--he is the League secretary
there--forecasting probable events. Nothing is definite. I thought
perhaps you might have heard.”

Gleam shook his head.

“What is wrong? New machinery, and Trades Union and Employers’
Federation at loggerheads about it?”

“No. Not machinery. Worse than that. Sweating, out-work. Simple tyranny.
Here is the letter.”

“I don’t think much of it. It will blow over,” said Gleam, having looked
through the letter. “Wait a bit though,” he added, with a quick glance.
“Ecclesby is in the Hough division, isn’t it?”

“Of course,” said Goddard. “That’s why Willaston wrote to me in
particular.”

“I’ll keep a look-out,” said Gleam. “Cleaver and Flyte are the leading
firm there. Oddly enough, I am connected with them in a roundabout way
in the City, through Rosenthal, you know. And then there are Flood &
Sons in London.”

“What an encyclopaedia you are!” said Goddard.

Aloysius Gleam laughed, and curled his moustache.

“That reminds me of my mission,” he said.

“Why haven’t you called upon Lady Phayre?” Goddard disregarded the
apparent non sequitur, and replied with an air of surprise--

“What have I to do in ladies’ drawing-rooms?”

“Sit, drink tea, and talk political gossip,” said Gleam.

“I wasn’t brought up to it,” replied Goddard. “I have never done it, and
therefore it is not to be done. Sound doctrine for a Progressist. Well,
Lady Phayre is a little indignant.”

“Why? For not taking advantage of a piece of empty politeness?”

“Lady Phayre’s politeness is never empty when it is directed towards a
member of the party. Her name is not unknown to you?” Goddard admitted
that the fame of Lady Phayre had reached him.

“Well, then,” said Gleam, “I advise you, as your oldest political
friend, to go and see her. She’s a charming woman, attached heart and
soul to the party, and can give you help in the most unexpected ways.
There never was a successful politician yet who despised the assistance
of women.”

“Many have got into rare messes through women,” said Goddard.

“More have got out of them by their aid,” retorted Gleam convincedly.

“But she would be rather astonished if I turned up, wouldn’t she?” said
Goddard.

Gleam broke into a laugh. There were unlooked for simplicities in
Goddard.

“I tell you, my dear man,” he said, “that, as Lady Shepherdess of the
party, Lady Phayre expects you to go and pay her your homage. Hang it,
man! she paid you the compliment of journeying all the way to Stepney to
hear you speak.”

Goddard’s face assumed an air of perplexity, oddly at variance with
its usual stern, resolute expression. Then the obstinacy in his nature
asserted itself.

“No. It’s very kind of Lady Phayre, and I feel flattered. But I’ll
stick to my own ways. Call me bear, or Goth, or what you like--I have
no relish for false positions. You know who I am and all about me, so I
don’t mind talking frankly to you.”

The blood rose to his face as he said this, and he held up his head
somewhat defiantly. He had barely as yet divested himself of the
uncomfortable impression of masquerading in his well fitting clothes,
and of incongruity in refined table adjuncts. If these occasioned a
worrying feeling of unfamiliarity, the sense of a wrong element in a
lady’s drawing-room was still more galling. Gleam was keen enough to
perceive these workings of false pride, and he bore Goddard no malice.

“Very well, then,” he said with a smile. “Perhaps you are right in your
pig-headed way. I mustn’t keep you from your lunch. Good-bye. I’ll bear
Ecclesby in mind.”

He shook hands, waved a salute to one of the men at Goddard’s table,
and after exchanging a few words with a party near the door, went away.
Goddard returned to his beef, which was getting cold, and, after the
meal, retired with his three companions to the smoking-room, where an
argument arose that banished Lady Phayre from his mind.

He could have resisted Aloysius Gleam’s persuasion to the crack of doom;
but when the stars in their courses began to take up the matter, he was
as helpless as Sisera. If he had marched straight out of the club, he
possibly might never have spoken to Lady Phayre again. But the
stars turned his steps aside to the Central News tape-machine in the
strangers’ waiting-room, and there he found himself suddenly face
to face with her sitting--a dainty vision--in an arm-chair near the
entrance.

Her face brightened as she saw him, and she made a slight forward
movement in expectation of his advance. Goddard could do no less than
acknowledge these manifestations of friendliness.

“Have you seen Mr. Gleam in the club? They are keeping me such a time
waiting.”

“I am afraid he’s gone,” said Goddard, an announcement which the
page-boy came up that moment to confirm.

“What a nuisance,” said Lady Phayre. “I want a couple of ladies’ tickets
all in a hurry for the House. I have a country girl staying with me, and
have only this evening free.”

She looked at Goddard with a little air of concern. Now when Lady Phayre
looked at a man like that, she simply rested all her responsibilities
upon his shoulders. They became the man’s own personal affairs. Goddard
was a man like any other. He reflected instinctively.

“I dare say I could get some men in the club to ballot for you--if you
don’t mind waiting a little longer.”

“Would you really try?” she said, her eyes beaming gratitude and
apparent astonishment.

“With pleasure,” said Goddard.

During his absence she turned over the advertisement pages of a railway
time-table, and devised in her mind various club improvements that might
conduce to the comfort of lady strangers. When he came back she rose,
saw from the look of pleasure on his face that he had been successful.

“I have seen Jervons, the member for Twickenham. He undertakes to get
half-a-dozen men to ballot for you; so if they are successful the orders
will be round at your house before five o’clock. Will that do?”

“Beautifully,” said Lady Phayre: “a thousand thanks.”

“I’m afraid it won’t be very interesting,” said Goddard--“the Army
Estimates will be on.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter,” said Lady Phayre cheerfully: “the child will
be pleased, whatever it is. I shall take a novel.”

He did not reply, but looked down at her from his superior height, one
hand grasping his hat and stick, the other on his hip. There was a tiny
pause. So Lady Phayre looked up at him and smiled. There was just the
faintest gleam of mockery in her eyes, a transient consciousness of the
feminine magic that had made the huge, powerful man do her bidding with
the lightness of an Ariel. She put out a delicately gloved hand from her
sealskin muff.

“I was saving up a quarrel with you, Mr. Goddard,” she said, “for not
having been to see me. Surely you could have spared just one halfhour.”

There was so much frankness and charm in her tone and in her attitude,
as she stood with half-extended hand, and head slightly inclined to one
side, that Goddard reddened with a sense of boorishness.

“I am hardly a society man, Lady Phayre,” he said lamely, his pride not
allowing him to formulate the more conventional apology.

She laughed. She had known men positively intrigue for the right of
entrance at her door, and here was one refusing the privilege. He was a
curiosity. Her self-pride was pricked.

“You mean my frivolity frightens you,” she said. “But I am not as
frivolous as I look, I assure you. I can talk even earnestly at times.”

“Oh, it isn’t you,” he began.

“Then it is my friends. Well, some of them are as unbutterfly-like as
bats. But if you don’t like a crowd, avoid an ‘at home’ day, and come
any afternoon.”

“Do you honestly care whether I come or not?” asked Goddard bluntly.

“Well, considering that I have gone out of my way to ask you twice,”
 she replied, rather staggered, “you might have taken my sincerity for
granted.”

She raised her chin a little, and put back her hand into her muff.
Goddard realised that he had been rude. The desirable aspects of Lady
Phayre’s friendship also began to dawn upon him.

“Forgive me, Lady Phayre,” he said, after an awkward pause. “You see
what a bear I am.”

The admission brought out again smile and hand.

“Can I come and see you?” he added whimsically.

“Do you honestly want to?” she asked, echoing his tone.

“I should very much like to, indeed,” said Goddard.

*****

That evening, Lady Phayre sent down her card, from behind the grating,
to Aloysius Gleam. He came up after a while.

“I didn’t know you were here,” he said.

“Who do you think got me the tickets?”

“I haven’t the vaguest idea.”

“Mr. Goddard,” said Lady Phayre.

“Miss Mabel,” said Gleam, turning to the country girl, who was listening
to a technical statement by the War Secretary with rapt attention, “Lady
Phayre is like Providence: her ways are inscrutable.”



CHAPTER VII--A DEMAGOGUE’S IDYLL

Goddard went away, after paying his first visit to Lady Phayre, with a
wondering mind. His original intention had been to make it as short as
he possibly could: he had remained nearly a couple of hours. He could
scarcely believe his watch.

The delicate play of mind of a pretty and highly cultured woman was a
novelty as rare to him as the bubbling of champagne in his apprentice
days. He had gone expecting to endure the inane small-talk which his
second-hand experience persuaded him was the inevitable adjunct of a
lady’s tea-table; he had found conversation upon all the subjects dear
to him invested with a charm such as he had never before imagined. Talk
on social questions had ever been with him a deeply serious matter. Lady
Phayre had brought into it an unknown lightness, a sparkle, a mental
keenness, against which his own intellect sharpened itself, and at the
same time a bewildering waywardness that never allowed him to forget
she was a woman. In short, Lady Phayre was a revelation. He walked
along with a buoyant step, like a man who has made a new discovery that
promises to change the old order of things.

After a short interval a pretext arose for repeating the visit. He was
careful to magnify its importance for the sake of self-justification.
But on the third occasion he owned to himself that he had called out of
sheer desire for Lady Phayre’s society.

As he stood, hat in hand, in the drawing-room waiting for her, he had a
feeling of misgiving curiously like that of a boy who is fearful lest
he is taking too great advantage of a kindly neighbour’s invitation to
visit his fruit garden. Her smile of welcome, however, as she entered,
reassured him.

“How good of you to come. I had a bit of a headache, and was beginning
to mope by myself.”

“I too felt as if it would do me good to have a talk with you,” said
Goddard, seating himself.

“Surely you don’t mope?” said Lady Phayre, lifting her eyebrows.

“O Lord, no!” he exclaimed with a laugh. “I have too much to do.”

“I wish I were a man,” sighed Lady Phayre.

“I don’t,” said Goddard. “If you were, I don’t think I should have
wanted so much to come and see you.”

“Well, how am I to do you good? Will tea comfort you?”

“I think it would,” replied Goddard, smiling--“out of your gossamer
tea-cups, and with imperceptible films of bread and butter. They seem
outside of the uses of the weary, work-a-day world.”

“You shall have them, and until they come you shall tell me all the
news. I have heard nothing for two days.”

He opened his budget. It was somewhat heavy. The lighter trifles of
political gossip were beyond his range; but Lady Phayre listened
attentively, adroitly brought him to his own part in current affairs.
He had just been on a committee of the League, in the north of England,
inquiring into the working of the Factory Act for women in certain
trades. He had visited many white-lead works, where he had felt daunted
by the inevitableness of the sacrifice of human health and happiness.

“But manufacturers are obliged to enforce precautions,” said Lady
Phayre.

Goddard waved his hand impatiently.

“No precautions will ever prevent it. The poison gets in everywhere. The
dust is in the air--impregnates the food, finds its way into the baths,
creeps in through the tightest overalls. Women should not be allowed
in it--and yet they must work. One feels paralysed before these deadly
trades. I saw some women--young and vigorous--who had ‘got the lead,’ as
they call it--death written on their faces, one going to have a child;
that is one of the horrible parts of it--to be poisoned before one is
born.”

“You take it to heart,” said Lady Phayre in a low voice. She was touched
by his earnestness.

“I suppose I do,” replied Goddard. “If a man doesn’t, he had better
leave Social Reform alone.”

Lady Phayre handed him his tea. The strong, heavily veined hand
outstretched to receive the cup, conveyed to her a suggestion of
strength which she could not help associating with the earnestness
of his tone. For a moment Lady Phayre felt, not unpleasantly, the
insignificance of her sex.

“Do you know, when I see men like you devoting your whole lives to
the cause of others, I feel very small and petty,” she said, upon the
impulse.

Daniel looked at her in some confusion. No one had ever paid him such a
tribute before. Coming from Lady Phayre, it gratified more than a man’s
vanity. He laughed awkwardly.

“I don’t know that I do so much good after all,” he said. “You are a far
more important person, really. You are in the swim of everything--the
pivot of the party.”

“Oh, the party!” cried Lady Phayre. “Sometimes I get so tired of it. It
seems to be all concerned with means--the end lost sight of. Nothing day
after day but little moves, and counter-moves, and intrigues, and this
person’s speech, and that person’s vote. Oh, Mr. Goddard, when you get
into Parliament you will never develop into the typical party-man--the
lobbyist, and asker of questions, and mover of amendments. ‘You are so
different from most of the other men who come here.”

She spoke sincerely for the moment. By the light of Goddard’s
earnestness she glanced ashamedly at her own political dilettanteism. A
momentary conception of nobler effort passed through her mind. Womanlike
she projected these higher subjective workings into increased regard
for the man. When Goddard took his leave, he was unaware how far he had
advanced in Lady Phayre’s good favour; but he realised that something
new and helpful had come into his own life.

After this he became a constant visitor at Queen’s Court Mansions.
Usually he chose the times when Lady Phayre was alone. In the general
society he now and then met in her drawing-room, he felt shy and
constrained, blundered in his speech, and grew hot with anger at
imaginary errors. A proud man, he was ashamed at himself for envying the
ease of manner of other men. In a mixed assembly he was helpless.

“I am not coming to your omnium gatherums any more,” he said once to
Lady Phayre. “I don’t know how to talk to these people. Their ways are
natural to them. I have to put them on, and I put them on crooked.”

“But you know how to talk to me,” she replied with a smile.

“You are different,” lie said. “You know who and what I am. You are good
enough to take me just as birth and circumstances have made me.”

She bent forward and looked him sweetly in the face.

“Be to others just as you are to me.”

“That’s an utter impossibility!” he exclaimed quickly, with a flash in
his eye, at which her face flushed.

“Well, perhaps not quite the same,” she said. “But I like you to come
occasionally and show yourself at my little receptions. It completes
them, you know.”

So Goddard withdrew his decision and strove to adapt himself to society
ways. But it went sorely against the grain. The hour’s discomfort over,
he hurried home, threw his dress-coat on a chair, and smoked a pipe in
his shirt-sleeves with feelings of intense relief. Other invitations,
which Lady Phayre’s patronage necessarily procured for him, he refused
with obstinate persistence.

“I do far more good, both to myself and others, if I put in a spare
evening at a working-man’s club,” he said to Gleam, who was persuading
him to take advantage of social opportunities.

The months went by. Goddard worked with a zest which even he had not
known before. In the little comedy of their lives Lady Phayre played
Egeria with nice discrimination. Daniel imperceptibly acquired the habit
of setting forth all his schemes and ambitions for her approval. His
strenuous life had been so single-purposed that he had retained many
simplicities, and his nature came fresh to receive her sympathy. The
first time he handed her the manuscript of a review article he blushed
like a schoolboy. It was a pleasant time. He was too ingenuous to
suspect pitfalls in his path.

His domestic life continued its usual course. Lizzie had spells of
soberness and quasi-repentance, alternating with periods of outbreak.
These latter, however, were growing more frequent. To Daniel the
asperities of everyday existence became more and more external. A
dogged, almost Philistine sense of duty kept him uniformly kind
and considerate; but he had long since ceased to regard her as one
fulfilling any of a wife’s functions.

A bond of union between Lady Phayre and himself was formed by the
increasing rumours of trade disturbances at Ecclesby, and the consequent
complications introduced into the choice of a Parliamentary candidate
for the Hough division, in which it was situated. The sitting member
was daily expected to accept the Chiltem Hundreds. The Conservatives had
secured a strong candidate. The Liberal organisation was divided. The
influential local man desired by the moderate section would be opposed
by the Labour vote in favour of an Independent candidate. To save a
three-cornered contest, the advanced section had approached Goddard. All
through the summer, things had remained at a deadlock. Lady Phayre, with
feminine love of intrigue, had stimulated her friends at Ecclesby to
exert their influence in Goddard’s favour.

“I am going down there in the autumn,” she told him one day, “and I
shall open the campaign in person.”

But before she could fulfil her promise, the trade storm burst in
Ecclesby. A general strike and lock-out declared itself. Attempts at
compromise failed hopelessly. Terms of agreement, suggested by a board
of arbitration, were indignantly rejected by both sides. A long, bitter
struggle seemed inevitable. Daniel watched its progress with intense
interest. Principles of relation between Labour and Capital were at
stake, in whose cause he had fought from those far-off days when he
had carried a three-legged stool to Hyde Park on Sunday afternoons, and
harangued his casual and apathetic audience. It was a small strike when
compared with the great contests that have convulsed industry of late
years; but its result would have far-reaching consequences. He thirsted
to join in the battle, but the delicacy of his position as regards the
constituency kept his tongue silent. And as the days went on, and he saw
that the Trades Union was less and less able to hold its own, he chafed
in London, and poured out his heart to Lady Phayre.

At last, one memorable day, he found himself in a cab speeding to her,
all too slowly. A great delight was thrilling through his veins. Visions
of fierce conflict, victory, fulfilled ambition danced before his eyes.
He sprang up the steps of Queen’s Court Mansions, tingling with the news
he was carrying to his--to his what? He did not know. An impulse, whose
sanity he never questioned, brought him hither irresistibly. During the
long interview with the strike leaders, from which he had freshly come,
his thoughts had turned to her, had identified the anticipation of
telling her with the pride of the moment. The gift of feminine sympathy
was still so new to him that he rushed to it with a child’s indubitative
eagerness.

The door of the flat opened as he reached the landing, and Lady Phayre
appeared, dressed for walking, in a dark fawn costume trimmed with fur
and a toque to match.

“You look pleased,” she said, smiling at his dark, flushed face and
shining eyes. “Whatever has happened?”

“I am going down to Ecclesby to lead the strike,” he said, panting a
little. “The Trades Union people have just been to me, and I have come
to tell you at once.”

The news pleased her, the homage flattered her. She beamed gracious
appreciation upon him, invited him to enter and acquaint her with the
details. They both remained standing in the drawing-room.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “The union is badly organised, is gradually
losing hold on the men. No one seems able to take the lead. They are
making a mess of it. I was afraid they would. I was only telling you so
lately. So they have begged me to come and help them.”

“I see,” said Lady Phayre, with kindling cheeks, “they want a strong man
with a strong will; a leader of men.” She put out her hand impulsively.
“I am so proud.”

The words and the touch of her hand quivered deliciously through
Goddard’s frame.

“It is the biggest thing I have been called upon to do yet,” he said.
“Of course I have no official position in the matter; I cannot approach
the masters in any way. But the Union has guaranteed free action; placed
itself unreservedly in my hands. All the responsibility is practically
mine. I shall win,” he added, after a pause, during which he took three
or four strides backwards and forwards in the room. “Somehow I feel it.
I have eternal justice on my side. Oh, to think what success will mean
for all these people!”

“And for you, my friend,” said Lady Phayre. “Win, and there’s Parliament
for you with a triumphant majority.”

He looked at her for a moment open-mouthed. She saw a new intelligence
dawn in his glance.

“Do you mean to tell me you never thought of that?” she asked quickly.

“No,” he said simply; “it had not struck me.” Lady Phayre turned her
face from him, and buttoned her glove. There are some feelings which
rush into a woman’s eyes that it is not advisable to show to the man who
evokes them. When she had slipped the last button she looked up at him
smilingly.

“I think you’re the only man in England who could have said that. When
do you commence operations?”

“The day after to-morrow. There will be a big open-air demonstration.
Then I’ll settle down to regular work--visiting, picketing,
speechifying, overhauling the books, agitating for help from cognate
trades. I shall have my hands full.”

He prepared to take his departure, seeing that she was going out.

“You can walk part of the way with me, if you like,” she said
graciously.

It was an undreamed-of honour. Save his mother and his wife, he did not
remember to have walked in the street with any woman. He strode by
her side proud and happy. Their way lay through Hyde Park. The October
leaves shimmered like golden scales in the afternoon sun, shedding a
glory around him. The few passers-by seemed non-existent. The great
stretch of lawn rolled on either side towards the just visible white
house-tops. In front, the chequered path of the burnished avenue. From
time to time his companion raised her delicate face to him. A slanting
beam caught the light of her eyes and the gold tints of her hair under
her dainty toque. A strange, unknown feeling stole upon his heart.

A great silence and splendour had fallen over life.

It was Lady Phayre who broke the silence at last. Her voice was sweetly
silvery.

“If I came to Ecclesby, could I be of any use to you?”

“You would only have to look as you look now,” he answered, “and there
is nothing you couldn’t help me to do.”

“I----”

Lady Phayre began, stopped abruptly as a little tremor shook her
shoulders delicately, then recovering herself, broke into a laugh.

“I shall look ever so much more businesslike, I assure you. I’ll go and
make friends with the wives. It will be useful against canvassing time.
I am an old campaigner in electioneering, you know. But I have never
taken an active part in a strike. It will be a new thing for the
political woman to do. I am always seeking after something new. I must
have been an Athenian in past ages--an Athenian of the Athenians--and
my soul got so impregnated that it has never been able to free itself. I
wonder if they would let me make a speech, Mr. Goddard?”

“We will ask the Union,” he laughed, following her unwittingly into the
lighter track she had started upon. “But will you really come and help?”

“Of course.”

“How can I thank you?” said Goddard.

“Post me up in all the ins and outs and technicalities,” she replied
brightly.

He took up his parable, and told her of shifts and piece-work, and the
intricacies of sliding-scales of wages, and the complications of
the trade. And, in truth, it was a parable. For the idyllic hour of
Goddard’s life had come, and air, and trees, and sun, and words all lost
their outer sense, and became informed with hidden meaning.



CHAPTER VIII--WITH THE HELP OF LADY PHAYRE

The outskirts of Ecclesby, where the “quality” live in villas
decorously withdrawn from the roadway, and screened from public view by
the garden-trees, are as pleasant as those of any idle town given up
to homing the Great Retired. The traveller by road might fancy he was
entering a Midland Cheltenham or Leamington, so soothingly genteel
are its approaches. But a few minutes’ walk, past smaller villas, then
semidetached villas, then villas clustered together like reeds in a
pan-pipe, then unpretending red-brick jerry-built cottages, would bring
on a gradual disillusion, preparing him for the hopeless disenchantment
of the town itself. A long black street, untidy with little shops
and public-houses standing here and there amid a row of poor, dirty
dwelling-houses, mounts in an undecided curve from the railway station,
and suddenly, at the top of the hill, twists sharply round into the High
Street, where brand-new hotels and brand-new shops try to look smugly
unconscious of the world below the corner. But the shops have to supply
that world’s wants, and all the bravery of window fronts cannot give the
illusion of refined and luxurious patronage. There is not much pleasure
to be got out of Ecclesby. Even its theatre is up a dingy side-street,
and has a threepenny gallery and sixpenny pit. The fair follies and vain
amenities of existence find no place there. It is given over to labour
grim, absorbing, inevitable. At certain periods of the day the High
Street, Market Square, and Union Street, which cuts laterally through
its heart, at the top of the rise, are quite deserted. The great bells
ring, and the gaunt countless-windowed factories situated all around in
labyrinthine tangle of mean streets disgorge into the main thoroughfare
the pale work-grimed population they had swallowed up. The town becomes
a swarming hive. The shops are thronged. From the ever-swinging doors
of public-houses comes the roar of voices, borne upon gusts of air
saturated with alcohol and shag-tobacco. There is little diversity of
type or costume. The town exists for one industry. The population drifts
from the grim Board School inevitably, unquestioningly into the grim.
factory. If the next transition is not into the grimmer workhouse by the
railway station, they account themselves happy. Each man acts, dresses,
eats, hopes, thinks, and, at last, looks like his neighbour. And the
girls and women work in the factories too. The streets are alive
with them. They march along in knots of three or four, bareheaded,
bare-armed, red-shawled, shrill, nonreticent of speech. The doorways
of hundreds of dwellings in squalid by-streets are dissonant with the
clamour and picturesque with the dirt-encrusted chubbiness of children.

This is Ecclesby when the factories are working, and the hum of strange
machinery strikes the ear on passing by the yawning gateways. But when
Goddard went there a blight had fallen on the town. The factories
for the most part were silent, the streets depressing with unjoyous
idleness. The fact that the strikers had gone in procession the day
before with a brass band that played the Dead March in “Saul” before the
employers’ villas had not produced lasting exhilaration. The very deadly
boredom of leisure, apart from anxiety as to issues, was wearing down
the adult population. To lean against a street corner, pipe in mouth,
hands in pockets, in taciturn converse with one’s mates, is pleasant
enough for a few hours on Saturday afternoons; but to persist in it all
day long, and day after day, induces considerable lassitude of the
flesh and infinite weariness of the spirit. What the deputation had told
Goddard was true. The men were growing sick of the struggle. Whispers of
submission already floated in the air. The Trades Union officials were
steadily losing their influence. The employers’ agents had been busy
among them, spreading nerve-shaking reports as to the impregnable
position of the firms. The Union was small, poor, badly organised. The
strike pay was scanty. Much of it was spent, almost unwillingly, in
drink.

Severe distress already began to make itself felt.

Goddard brought a practised intelligence to grasp the situation, and
realised how fully his were victory, if it were gained; also how great
a responsibility rested upon his shoulders in urging, the continuance
of the strike. It meant the extravagant love or execration of a teeming
town.

“If you advise us to give in, we’ll do so,” said the secretary of the
Union, a careworn man with iron-grey hair and lantern-face. They had
been discussing affairs in the office. The fire had gone out in the tiny
grate, and the dimness of a gathering wet evening crept in through the
uncleaned panes. Goddard was silent a moment. The man’s tone was so
hopeless.

Then the joy of battle rose within him, and was mingled strangely with
the radiance of Lady Phayre--a thrilling sense of his own strength,
trebled by the wine of her influence--and he leapt from his chair and
brought his two great hands down on the secretary’s timorous shoulders.

“We’ll win this, mate. We’ll carry it through, and have the firms on
their knees. Ruin is staring them in the face. They will have to climb
down. Man, we are not fighting machinery. If we were, I would say ‘throw
it up.’ Man has never bested a machine yet, and never will. It’s mere
brute force--who can hold out longest. And they can’t hold out longer
than we. I’ll stake my soul upon it.”

“But the capital behind them,” murmured the secretary.

“That’s a pack of damned lies!” cried Goddard. “You can take it from
me!”

A glow appeared on the grey face as Goddard’s splendid assurance gained
upon him.

“We’ll follow your lead past starvation, sir,” he said in a voice hoarse
with new-born hope.

The knowledge of Goddard’s arrival had quickened the general apathy.
His visible presence in the streets was a draught of strength. The brave
words he spoke to casual knots of men turned their sullenness to hope,
and were passed from lip to lip after he had gone by. Before the
great meeting in the afternoon, he had already lifted the tone of the
strikers. They were conscious of a new force among them.

When he mounted the platform in the densely packed market-place, a
spontaneous cheer arose to greet him. When he retired, after a long,
vigorous speech, he knew that he had accomplished the first and
all-important part of his task--the winning of the men’s confidence.

And then began a period of intense, unremitting work. For beyond the
commonplaces of strike organisation, picketing, fund-distribution,
Speech-making, and the like, the continuous maintenance of the moral
strength of a whole community by sheer force of will involved infinite
devotion. He had to carry things with a high hand. The Employers’
Federation invited a conference. For a while he had high hopes. The
hour came, and the whole town awaited the issue in breathless suspense.
Goddard sat alone in the little office of the Union, chafing at his
necessary exclusion from the discussion. At last the representatives of
the Union returned, the secretary bearing a paper in his hand.

“Shall we agree?” he asked, giving it to Goddard.

He glanced over it, and his face darkened.

“Can I make this public?”

“Certainly, if you think it best,” replied the secretary, with a sigh.

“Thank God, it’s over, any way,” said one of the representatives.

But Goddard did not hear. He flung open the window and brandished the
paper before the crowd assembled in the street.

“Men! listen to the result of the conference.”

He read the document in a loud, even voice. The employers had offered
a few trivial concessions, a slight rise in skilled wages; but the
principles were untouched. He hurried through the last clause; and
before there was time for a cry to come from below, he tore the paper
across and across with a passionate gesture, and scattered the pieces on
the heads of the crowd. The men, who had listened in silent submission
to what they thought were the final terms agreed upon, burst into a
great cheer. The dramatic touch had quickened the revulsion of feeling.

“There, gentlemen,” said Goddard, turning round to the representatives.
“I have burned your ships for you.”

A day or two afterwards Lady Phayre appeared upon the scene. She was
coming on business--not pleasure, she had informed her friends, and
accordingly laid house, carriages, and servants under requisition.
Mr. Christopher Wentworth, her host, was the leading member of the
Progressive League in the neighbourhood, and a humble vassal of Lady
Phayre. His wife’s interests in life extended from her husband’s throat,
which was delicate, to his digestive organs, which were dainty.

“So long as you don’t take Christopher to open-air meetings, Rhodanthe,”
 she said to Lady Phayre, “and give him bronchitis, or make him late for
dinner, you can do exactly what you like.”

“Oh, I don’t want Christopher. He would be sadly in the way,” said Lady
Phayre, reassuringly. “I’ll make him stay at home and write letters and
collect funds.”

She summoned Goddard to wait upon her. He had already received two or
three daintily penned letters from London, and had been eagerly looking
forward to this one from Ecclesby itself.

He found her alone in the bright morning-room, radiant as Romney’s
Bacchante head of Lady Hamilton that hung on the wall, and wearing the
simplest of elegantly-cut blue serge costumes. Her sunniness almost
dazed his eyes, accustomed lately to the gloom of sordid homes and
pinched faces. She was eager to hear all the details of the situation;
drew from him an exhaustive report. Her presence lifted him into a
sanguine mood, filled him with a vague sweet sense of the triumph of
life.

“Now let me tell _you_ something,” she said when he had finished. “Don’t
say I am not a woman of character. I have been bursting with it since
you came into the room, and I have waited patiently. I have arranged a
surprise for you. I am going to institute at once a children’s halfpenny
tea-house. Haven’t you heard anything about it?”

“Not a word.”

“I am so glad.” She laughed, and clapped her hands. “It has all been
going on under your very nose. My own idea. It is the children that
suffer so. They don’t know why they should bear with hunger. So I am
going to give them a great breakfast or tea, with as much bread and
butter as they can eat, for a halfpenny.”

“But the funds?” asked Goddard.

“That is the greatest stroke of all,” replied Lady Phayre
enthusiastically. “I have inveigled a grant out of the League, and
the _Evening Chronicle_ has promised me to start a subscription list
to-night. I am negotiating for the use of the Salvation Army Barracks,
and Evans and Williams are going to contract for the meals. Haven’t I
been industrious?”

“You have,” said Goddard. “It will be a tremendous help to us.”

“You don’t mind my having kept it a secret from you?” she asked after
some further discussion; “I wanted it to come as a surprise to you--to
cheer you with a little unexpected help.”

She put her hands in her lap, and bent forward with a pretty air of
humility. A faint note of wistfulness in her voice increased its charm.

All Goddard could say was that the scheme had been perfect. He tried
to say more, but his unaccustomed brain refused to formulate in words
subtleties of emotion. But before leaving he had a sudden inspiration.

“I feel a different man since I have seen you,” he said abruptly; “I was
inclined to be harassed and despondent. Now---- ‘Strange how a smile of
God can change the world.’ That’s what you seem to be.”

Lady Phayre turned away her head and blushed. She knew it was like a
school-girl, but she could not help it. No one had ever told her quite
that before. The glimpse into spiritual things rather frightened her.
She did not know whether to be angry or pleased at being enraptured.
Like a wise woman, she decided upon indefiniteness. But she could not
hide a certain softness in her eyes as she bade him good-bye.

“I shall be in the Salvation Army Barracks at nine this evening. If you
could help me just a little--unless you are too busy?”

He promised, delighted, and went away on house-to-house visits in the
dark byways of the town, spreading everywhere, with great voice and
hearty gestures, the overflow of his happiness. He felt himself filled
with the spirit of victory. One man refused to be comforted.

“Strikes never did no good,” he said.

Goddard drew himself up, towered over him, and rated him for
pusillanimity. If he could have spoken his inmost heart, he would have
shouted--

“Man, don’t you see that I am unconquerable!”

And so for the next few days the men were held together and lifted by
the one man’s happiness.

Meanwhile the Children’s Tavern was a great success. Lady Phayre worked
indefatigably, serving herself, with other helpers, behind the trestles
ranged round the great bare hall and creaking beneath the load of great
tea-ums, mountains of bread and butter, and, in the morning, steaming
pans of porridge. Goddard loved to make his way through the crowd of
clamorous unwashed children to the place where Lady Phayre, deliciously
fresh in white bib-apron and turned-back cuffs, was busily dispensing
viands, receiving pence and halfpence from grubby little hands, and
paying for countless moneyless urchins from a great private store of
coppers by her side. And after the press was over, she would emerge from
behind the trestles and walk up and down the hall with him discussing
affairs.

Never had she seemed so near to him as now when a common interest united
them. But in Goddard’s fresh, newly-awakened idealism, it was not
her arm that brushed his on a common level, but it was her wings that
touched his head.

Sometimes he would meet her in the streets, on a round of visits among
such homes as she knew; sometimes he would see her sitting in the
dog-cart, with her host, on the outskirts of a crowd he was addressing.
Once she even persuaded him to accept a dinner invitation at the
Wentworths’. She grew more into his life daily.

The strain of his position, as arbiter of the struggle, grew more
intense. Rumours of the larger firms being backed up by the great
capitalist Rosenthal were gaining hopeless credence. At another
fruitless conference, one of the employers boasted that they could
maintain a lockout for a couple of years. Goddard summoned a great
mass-meeting of operatives, and gave the manufacturer the lie with
passionate vehemence. Once more he imposed his will upon them.

He was fighting this battle as he had never fought before. Every aim
of his life seemed to be merged in the issue. Not only were the great
principles of the rights of labour at stake, not only the present and
future happiness of this great community, but his own career seemed to
hang in the balance, and, in a strange, uncomprehended way, his credit
with Lady Phayre.

At last the London world began to clamour for Lady Phayre. A rift was
threatening to appear in the Progressive lute. “You only can put things
straight,” wrote Aloysius Gleam. “Fenton and Hendrick have bumped each
other’s heads in the dark, and they are angry with one another, and we
are all taking sides. You must bring them to kiss and make friends over
your dinner-table.” So Lady Phayre deliberated. She had one very good
reason for remaining at Ecclesby; but, on the other hand, she had fifty
little feminine ones for leaving it. The work she had taken in hand, the
Children’s Tavern, was in capital going order. She had already found
her own services, as attendant, superfluous. She was free to resign the
charge of it into competent hands. Why should she stay? It was not often
that Lady Phayre did not know her own mind. At last she compromised. She
would pay a visit to London, to effect the desired reconciliation, and
then return to Ecclesby.

“I don’t like leaving you at all,” she said to Goddard, the evening
before her departure. “It seems as if I am deserting you. But I shall
make haste back.”

“Ah, do!” said Goddard pleadingly. “The people have grown so fond of
you. And you are such a help to me.”

To atone for her defection, she had dismissed the carriage, and allowed
him to see her home after the tea at the Salvation Army Barracks. It was
already night, but the moon had risen, and lent a tenderness to things.
Lady Phayre was glad of its aid, for it was on her conscience to leave
Goddard with comfortable impressions.

“I have done very little,” she replied.

“You have advised me at every turn,” said Goddard.

“You have advised yourself while talking to me.”

“Anyhow, I could not have got on without you.

“Believe it then, if it pleases you,” she said softly. “You can write me
a daily account of things, if you like--and I will go on ‘advising’ you.
Will that do?”

“You are too good to me,” he said fervently.

They walked on a little in silence. Then she asked him how much longer
he thought the strike would last.

“Another fortnight must see the end of the employers’ resources,” he
said with conviction. “The game of bluff can’t last longer.”

“And are you sure that the Rosenthal story is a myth?”

“As sure as I am that the moon is shining on your face.”

Upon the word, the moon disappeared behind a cloud. Lady Phayre started,
and touched his sleeve.

“Oh, what a bad omen!”

But Daniel laughed. Omens had no place in his downright philosophy.

“Well, Juliet calls the moon inconstant,” said Lady Phayre gaily. “So we
won’t believe it.”

“I only have to keep the men up till then,” said Goddard.

“And you will do it, Mr. Goddard,” she replied. “It will be a great
victory, and we shall all be so proud of you.”

So Goddard went to sleep that night with hope thrilling through his
dreams. And he woke up the next morning and went about his work, and
longed for Lady Phayre. She might be back in five days.

But before the five days were up, Rosenthal’s support of the Employers’
Association became a matter of public certainty.

“I will not believe it,” shouted Goddard to the grey-faced secretary.
“Nothing but the sight of Rosenthal’s cheque would convince me. If you
give in now, you’ll be throwing up the most glorious victory labour
ever won in this country. You are fools--wretched, cowardly, credulous
fools.”

But the tide of conviction had set in. He was powerless against it.
He strove with the passionate rage of his nature, exhausted himself in
wild, furious effort. The end came with overwhelming rapidity. Goddard
felt that he had lost his Waterloo.



CHAPTER IX--SOME PSYCHOLOGICAL MOMENTS

Goddard mounted the stairs of Queen’s Court Mansions with a heavy
tread. He was physically tired, and his heart was sullenly sore. He
had felt himself irresistibly drawn hither, though his pride hated the
ordeal of confessing his failure to a woman, especially to Lady Phayre.
The old, fierce class feeling was ineradicable. She was above him.
Success, brilliance alone could keep him on her level. Failure brought
him down. A glimmering realisation of this had come to him in the train,
and he had pulled up his coat-collar angrily, and doggedly resolved to
swallow his humble-pie to the last mouthful But it did not occur to do
otherwise than drive straight to her from the railway station.

He deposited his bag and ulster in the hall, and followed the servant
into the drawing-room. The first glimpse of it cheered him. The subdued
light, the dancing fire, the warm tones of carpet and curtains, the
cosy atmosphere, the charm of perfectly harmonised surroundings, struck
gratefully upon his sense.

Lady Phayre dropped on the hearthrug the book she was reading, and
rising quickly, made a step or two to meet him. Her eyes were wide, in
great concern.

“Oh, how tired you are looking. Come and sit down, in the big chair
by the fire. It was good of you to come. See, I have been waiting for
you--with Monmouth.”

She smiled, and directed her glance downwards to the white cat which had
stalked up and was rubbing itself, with arched back and outstanding fur,
against Goddard’s legs. He stooped and patted the beast.

“I am just done-up,” he said, sitting down wearily in the chair, and
throwing back his head.

He was looking exhausted. A pallor appeared beneath his dark skin; his
eyes were rather sunken, thus bringing into strange relief his somewhat
massively hewn features. A strand of black straight hair fell from the
side-parting across his forehead. Lady Phayre, standing with one hand on
the back of her chair, regarded him pityingly.

“Have you had anything to eat?”

“Oh, yes; I think so.”

“Tell me when. Ah! I see you haven’t. I’ll order you something in the
dining-room.”

“I couldn’t think----” he began; but she interrupted him.

“You must, to please me. I can’t bear to see you so tired. You will feel
quite a different man. And a small bottle of champagne.”

Man has not been born of a woman who could have refused Lady Phayre,
when she spoke with that coaxing charm.

Goddard’s face softened into assent, and he followed her with his eyes,
in a dumb, wondering way, as she went to give the necessary directions.

He had never quite familiarised himself with his surroundings in that
room. It always seemed a corner of Paradise that had somehow got left
behind upon the unlovely earth. The feeling had never been so strong as
at present. With his brain throbbing from the painful emotions of the
day, his eyes still dazed by the various scenes--the mean, squalid
streets, the grim, closed factories, the poverty-stricken homes,
the idle, sullen men lounging at street-corners, the crowd of gaunt,
unresponsive faces at the meeting--and with his body exhausted with
fatigue and hunger, this warm nest of exquisite peace and comfort was
deliciously unreal. Even Moumouth, luxuriously coiled on his velvet
cushion, seemed a creature of a different sphere from that of the lean
grey cats he had seen darting from doorways across alleys, preceding
the appearance of red-shawled women. And the voice of Lady Phayre hummed
like far-away music in his ears, and her delicate womanly sympathy was
like soft hands against his cheek. It was almost a dream. He leaned
forward, elbows on knees, his fingers through his hair. He longed for
her to come back, so that he could tell her of the failure. Somehow, it
no longer struck him as an ordeal. The magic of her presence had charmed
away his repugnance.

She returned, knelt down on the long fender-stool, and spread out her
hands before the blaze.

“They won’t be long.”

She turned her head sideways towards him as she spoke. Her attitude was
alive with feminine grace and charm.

“You are as good as you are beautiful,” he said, in reply to her
hospitable remark.

She met his full glance, and smiled contentedly. The blunt sincerity of
the tribute compensated for its lack of the finer imaginative shades.
There was a moment’s silence. Then she raised her eyes again, but this
time with sad expectancy.

“Well?”

He broke out in a kind of groan.

“It’s all over. I needn’t tell you that. You got my letter this morning,
and you must have guessed from my wire this afternoon. We give in
to-morrow unconditionally--after all these weeks of struggle and
sacrifice. It is the most crushing blow labour has ever had. And I’ll
stake my existence another week would have seen them through. Rosenthal
is no more going to finance these firms than he is going to finance
me. It has been cruel. I have been working at it since six o’clock this
morning. It has been like trying to fly a kite with a cannon-ball at its
tail. At the meeting this afternoon I did all I knew. I have never lost
my head with passion before. They were all like dead men; went away
dragging their boots. Some of them cursed me. Managers came round me
afterwards. ‘Didn’t I know? The strike fund was exhausted.’ As if I was
ignorant of it! ‘Two more days would see the end of it.’ I said, ‘In
God’s name, see the two days out.’ They shook their heads; were going to
announce surrender then and there; but I managed to make them put it off
till the morning. And then I came away--eating my heart out.”

He set his teeth and glowered at the fire. The story of the defeat had
brought back the bitterness in all its intensity. Lady Phayre did not
speak, instinctively knowing that, with him, silence was the truest
sympathy.

“The bitter part to me,” he continued, with note of passion that
vibrated through the woman, “is, that if I could have had a hundredth
part of the grip on them to-day that I had a week ago, I should have
brought them through. I know it as I know water goes down hill. I have
failed. It is my failure. I have been responsible for all these poor
creatures’ sacrifices during the past weeks; and now all the poverty,
hunger, despair, for nothing. You saw what it was a few days ago. You
should have been there this morning. I saw a man seize a bit of bread
and treacle out of a child’s hand and begin to devour it--like a wolf--I
couldn’t stand it.”

Lady Phayre looked at him quickly, and then for the first time noticed
a slight bruise and an abrasion on his forehead. She drew her own
conclusions.

“Oh, the awful misery of it all,” said Goddard between his teeth.

“I am sorry,” said Lady Phayre in a low voice, “sorry to my inmost
heart; but I am sorrier for you.”

“Ah! you mustn’t say that,” cried Goddard passionately. “Think--you
couldn’t mean it. It would be inhuman!”

“It is only too human,” murmured Lady Phayre.

He was about to speak, when the maid-servant announced that the supper
was ready; so, instead of replying to Lady Phayre’s murmur, he remained
silently wondering.

She led the way into the dining-room, where a dainty but substantial
meal was spread--a piece of salmon with crisp salad, a truffled pie, a
cold fruit-tart. Only one place was laid. It had seemed to Lady Phayre
she could give him kinder welcome if she sat by him as he ate than if
she went through the formal pretence of joining him at the meal. Then
she wondered, in the feminine way, whether he was cognisant of it. The
servant uncorked the champagne and retired. Lady Phayre sat down near
him, resting her elbow on the table. At first he leaned back in his
chair, looked at his plate, then at her.

“I feel too sick at heart to eat. The thought of those poor starving
women and children!”

“Your going without food will not fill their mouths, you know,” said
Lady Phayre in sympathetic remonstrance.

“I suppose I feel my own personal humiliation too,” he said
ungraciously, as if forcing out the admission. “One may as well
be honest. It’s the biggest thing I’ve set my hand to as yet, with
everything depending upon it. And to have to throw it up when victory
was staring one in the face! It is maddening!”

He bent forward impatiently and took up his fork. He laid it on his
plate, and turned to Lady Phayre.

“You are the only person in the world I could say that to.”

“Do you know why?”

The words were half whispered, but she looked at him full and clearly.

“Because you are yourself, I suppose--your good opinion dear to me, your
sympathy a necessity.”

“And all that because you know I believe in you.”

Her eyes fell beneath his gaze, which was stern and yet half pleading.
Then she raised them again slowly, with the delicious upward sweep of
her lashes, and repeated--

“I believe in you.”

A thrill ran through the man; his dark, powerful face lit up. Lady
Phayre shifted her attitude, and broke into a silvery laugh.

“And all this time you are not eating. If you don’t begin at once I
shall go away.”

Goddard laughed shamefacedly, with a vague consciousness that he had
been ungracious in not having commenced before. He helped himself to
the salmon. After the first mouthful or two his aversion to food
disappeared, and he went on eating with the appetite of a bigframed,
very hungry man. With the exception of a sandwich and a glass of beer
at the station bar before starting, he had eaten nothing since his early
breakfast. The food and the wine restored his physical well-being.
Lady Phayre looked on, pleased, she could scarcely tell why. These
big, earnest men were sometimes like babies--so helpless, if left to
themselves. She tended on him now and then in a pretty way without
leaving her seat, passed his plate, handed him the little silver jug
of cream, and, when the meal was over, fetched from a cupboard a box of
cigarettes. Like a man unaccustomed to delicate feminine ministrations,
Goddard accepted them rather tongue-tied, with a certain tremulous
bashfulness. The little hospitable actions, so homely and therefore
charming to a man of gentler nurture, were to him full of a rare exotic
sweetness. All through the meal she exerted herself to talk to him
brightly of little things, incidents that had brought them into pleasant
contact during the late struggle. He finished his cigarette, and they
returned to the drawingroom.

Goddard stood before the fire, with his hands in his jacket pockets.
The sense of personal humiliation still smouldered within him, but the
raging of the flame had been subdued. He felt that he could hold up his
head again. And it was the loyal tender sympathy of that woman in the
low arm-chair before him who had brought it about. He had never known
before how a woman could be a necessity in a man’s life. Till then he
even had not realised how imperious were the cravings for her, in spite
of the revolt of his galled pride, during that weary journey back to
town. She looked so fair and exquisite. His eyes met hers. But something
more than her beauty stirred the eternal masculine within him, and when
he spoke his voice vibrated.

“Will you always treat me like this, Lady Phayre?”

She smiled.

“Is it much to do for you?”

“It is growing to mean everything in the world to me. I have lived a
rough life away from women--ladies--women like you. Hitherto it has
never occurred to me that I was not self-sufficing--that I could
ever look to a woman for help. A year ago I should have laughed at
it--thought it a sickly fancy of the hyper-sensitive semi-men in novels.
But I have needed you this day, and I came to you because something
stronger than I impelled me. And you have given me new life to-night. Do
you know that?”

“You were looking so worn out and sad when you came in, that it pained
me,” said Lady Phayre, non-committally.

But Goddard’s ear detected a soft note in her voice. He came near to
her, sat down on the fender-stool, almost by her knees.

“Why are all women not like you? What a great beautiful world it would
be.”

“Any woman would have done the same; given you of her best to cheer you.
Besides, I was grieved--you have worked so nobly. Everybody has been
talking about you--of nothing else. I felt so proud I had been working
with you in my poor way--and I had set my heart upon your winning.”

“And I have failed miserably,” said Goddard. “Therefore you ought to
feel I was unworthy of your trust.”

“You don’t mean that. It hurts me,” she cried quickly, really wounded.

Goddard’s heart came into his eyes. The goddess had come down from
the far-off pedestal where he had worshipped her, and was by his side,
throbbing woman. He had a strange intoxicating sense of her nearness. He
raised his hand and touched the edges of the feather firescreen she was
holding in her lap.

“Forgive me,” he said. “It is hard to believe that my success or my
failure is of concern to you.”

“Why is it hard?” she asked in a low voice, looking down.

“Because it means more than my wildest dreams could ever bid me hope,”
 he replied, with a sudden rush of passion.

There was a long silence. Lady Phayre could find no words to answer,
conscious that her muteness was an expectation of fuller avowal.

But Goddard’s brain was whirling with wonder and strange joy. His hand
sunk a hair’s-breadth, and touched her knee. The contact was electric to
him. He drew his hand away quickly, and, rising to his feet, stretched
himself, as if he had awakened out of a dream. He could scarcely realise
what had happened. His enthusiastic practical life had not been fertile
in psychological moments. Lady Phayre looked up at him with angelic
sweetness. Generally more graceful than seductive, she was bewilderingly
woman at this moment. Suddenly, with an instinct of self-preservation,
she rose too, and laughed.

“I told you I believed in you, you know. Our little faiths are of moment
to us.”

Her light tone saved the situation. Talk was resumed, but it did not
flow so spontaneously as before. At last Goddard rose to leave. She was
solicitous as to his rest. Had he any more work to-night?

“I am going straight home,” he answered, with a laugh.

He held her hand for a long time and looked her in the eyes.

“You will sleep happier than if you had not come to me?” she asked.

“Ah! God bless you,” he said, rather huskily.

And then he squeezed her hand, and went hurriedly from the room.



CHAPTER X--LADY PHAYRE THROWS HER CAP OVER THE WINDMILLS.

It had been a quick rough grasp, bringing to Lady Phayre a new
conception of handshakes. It had not been violent like that of certain
per-fervid ones among her friends, forcing the rings into her delicate
flesh; but her hand tingled, and the tingling mounted her arm and died
away in a flutter in her bosom. Involuntarily she held up the hand in
front of her, saw that it trembled a little, and then laid it against
her cheek. A swift consciousness of the act brought a flush to her face.
But instead of drawing away her hand, she moved it slightly so that her
lips touched the palm, and there it stayed while she gave herself up to
a day-dream. And the smile rose into her eyes which no one has ever seen
in a woman’s, except when she has been taken unawares; which only comes
when she is alone, and is looking half tremulously, half amusedly into
her heart.

Gradually, however, the smile grew dim with a gathering moisture. She
was not a woman to whom tears came readily. She was surprised and glad.
They were a delicate test of the sincerity of her emotion. A drop hung
on the lower lid for a moment and fell upon the back of her fingers,
losing itself among the rings. Her heart melted over Goddard. Failure
for him was different from failure for other men. The wherefore of this
conclusion she did not argue out, content with the assurance of its
truth in her own mind. The great battle, into whose side-issues she
herself had been drawn, was lost. She was sorry. But she had spoken
truly when she had said she was sorrier for him. The fallen cause
was merged in the defeated man. Her thoughts drifted towards plans of
consolation.

It was very still, silence only broken by the whirr of the little
leaping flame jets in the fire. The white cat rose from the hearthrug,
stretched himself, stole noiselessly over the pile carpet to the centre
of the room, and then, after a dubious wag of the tail, returned to
slumber. Lady Phayre did not change her attitude. Her occupation
engrossed her. She was compounding balm for Goddard--a new and wondrous
panacea, whose secret she had just discovered--an extract of many
feminine simples as old as the leaves on the Tree of Knowledge.

The sudden opening of the door caused her to start with a foolish hope
that it might be Goddard returning. But the neat maid-servant, in her
subdued voice, announced Mr. Gleam.

He came forward eagerly, his dry equable face glowing with excitement.

“Have you seen Goddard?”

He was too preoccupied with his business even to linger his usual moment
over her finger-tips.

“He has been here. Why do you want him?” The question was in a breath
with the reply. Something had happened. She caught Gleam’s excitement,
half rose in her chair, and looked up at him anxiously.

“To tell him some news. Great news. Glorious news. I am the only one who
has got it. The enemy have been weakening all the time--a rift
within their lute. Rosenthal has backed out. Cleaver & Flyte are in
a panic--Rosenthal was behind them, you know. The others can’t stand
alone. It’s utter rout!”

“But it’s too late!” exclaimed Lady Phayre, with a ring of dismay in her
voice. “Haven’t you heard?”

“It isn’t. Not yet,” replied Gleam animatedly. “The managers won’t
declare till to-morrow morning--unless they are fools. But I have
more precise news still. You did not let me finish,” he laughed
apologetically. “They will give in all along the line if the men hold
out another four-and-twenty hours.”

“They must hold out,” cried Lady Phayre. “Oh, why isn’t Goddard there?”

“Better he should be here--if I could only get at him. Wiring couldn’t
have been definite enough. It’s not safe. Let me track him down, and off
he goes by the midnight train, or the newspaper train, and then----”

“He will win,” cried Lady Phayre exultantly.

“Of course. Come, see, conquer. As easy as lying. That is why I have
killed three cab horses under me to find him. I was in despair. I
knew he had left Ecclesby. At his house they assured me he was not
in London--did not expect him for a couple of days. No news at the
clubs--his offices. Then I came here. Thank Heaven, he is in London, at
any rate. If I can’t find him, some one else will have to go down.”

“And Goddard lose his triumph after all? He must be found. Besides, they
would not believe any one else.”

“I was thinking of going myself, _en dernier ressort_,” said Gleam
rather quizzically, “just as I am. I think they would believe me.”

“So would the masters. A member of Parliament in dress clothes going
about at six o’clock in the morning! Besides, you would catch your death
of cold.”

She laughed playfully, but she was trembling all through with
suppressed joy. The knuckles of her hand, that held a futile ball of a
handkerchief, were white. There was a little pause. She looked on the
ground for a moment, then she lifted her long lashes, and regarded him
half-shyly, with a smile playing round her lips.

“What would you say if I told you where you can find him?”

“Anything,” cried Gleam. “Where is he?”

“At the Midland Grand Hotel.”

She told the lie with astounding charm. He whipped up his hat from the
table and turned towards her.

“Why did I not come to you at once? You are not a woman, but an
Immortal. A crisis--a time of difficulty--and you come out of a rosy
cloud like an Homeric goddess.”

Lady Phayre smiled on him divinely. She held out her hand.

“I won’t keep you. I am as eager as you are.”

In another minute she heard the wheels of his departing cab in the
street below. She broke into a little ringing laugh: he had gone so
promptly and unquestioningly on his fool’s errand. A woman in an exalted
condition of mind has a queer sense of humour.

A wild fancy had seized her. It had grown into an irrepressible desire.
Her woman’s wit had worked swiftly. The lie had mounted to her lips on
wings of triumph, and spread radiance over her face. No wonder Gleam was
enraptured.

Women who are in the habit of throwing their caps over windmills find it
as monotonous as anything else after a time; but for one who has never
done it before, the act is accompanied with a rare exhilaration.

Lady Phayre had lived a bright but perfectly exemplary life. No breath
of scandal had ever rested upon her name. Sir Ephraim had cloyed her
with affection, and hitherto she had regarded amatory offerings with a
young confectioner’s serene indifference to puffs. If she dared now and
then to flout at convention, she was only exercising the privileges of
her position. No one could find a word to say against it To have driven
to a politician’s house at night to deliver a political message was a
commonplace of propriety. But to take the message of victory to the man
she loved, knowing, with a thrill that quivered from her feet to her
hair, that the message would contain also the openly avowed gift of
herself--that set matters on a totally different plane. It was wild,
daring, unutterably sweet. The breathless moment that followed the lie
was the supreme point of happiness in Lady Phayre’s life.

She went to a writing-table, took a sheet of the crested,
delicately-scented paper, and wrote a hurried line, which she enclosed
in an envelope and thrust in her corsage. Then she rang for her maid,
and in a few moments was speeding across London in a hansom cab. The
cold air caught her face, filling her with a joyous sense of vitality.
She pictured, glowingly, the little scene that would take place. First,
his look of wondering delight at her presence, then the illumination on
his face when she gave him her breathless message. There would be just
time to deliver it, if he was to catch the midnight train. The letter
she would slip into the letter-box. It would be found after she had
left. If it was forwarded to him the next day, so much the better.

She loved him. It was a new, wild sensation to her. The gradual drifting
towards the rapids had been pleasant, though not unaccompanied by
certain trepidations and misgivings. This evening had brought her to the
edge, and the swirl fascinated her. For once Lady Phayre had lost
her head. And yet there was method in her wildness. She felt herself
worshipped, longed for, saw the man standing in passionate helplessness
on the other side of the social gap between them. It was her prerogative
to stretch the bridge across. In the midst of all the excitement, Lady
Phayre was deliciously conscious that she was doing it gracefully.

Her mind was blissfully unheedful of the route. Crowded thoroughfares,
dreary squares, long, gaunt streets--it was all the same to her. She lay
back in a corner of the cab, felt the letter stiff against her bosom,
beneath her sealskin jacket, and surrendered herself to her
sensations. They were those of an angel of mercy committing a rapturous
indiscretion.

At last the cab stopped at the given number of the quiet street where
Goddard lived. Bidding the cabman wait, she ran up the steps and rang
the bell. For a moment she hesitated with the letter in her hand,
fingering it nervously. Then, with a little throb, half-joy, half-fear,
she thrust it into the letter-box.

A servant came to the door and stared at the visitor. Lady Phayre’s
heart beat so fast that she could scarcely speak.

“Mr. Goddard’s upstairs, ma’am. I’ll fetch him,” said the servant; and
she ran up the stairs, leaving Lady Phayre standing in the hall.

She was a slatternly slip of a girl, in a print dress. The thought of
men’s incapacity in the domestic economies brought a superior smile to
Lady Phayre’s lips. She forgave him, on account of his sex, for being
left to wait in a draughty passage. But the dining-room door was ajar,
showing a light within. There was no reason against her entering, her
hand was upon it, when it was suddenly opened wide, and, in the full
light appeared the figure of a woman with sodden features, dull eyes,
and loose, untidy hair, dressed in a dirty flannel dressing-gown.

For a second they stood watching one another. Then the woman made a
step, and reeled sideways against the wall. She was drunk.

“Who the -------- are you?” she cried in a thick voice.

Lady Phayre was transfixed with horror. She shrank back, just as Goddard
rushed down the stairs. He had heard his wife’s speech. It was an awful
moment. At the sight of him the woman cowered.

“Stay in that room!” he thundered at her; then he slammed the door, and
still gripping the knob, stood with livid features and heavily coming
breath, staring into Lady Phayre’s white face.

“You here? What madness brought you?” he said hoarsely.

The sound of his voice addressing her was an awakening shock to Lady
Phayre.

“Ah!” she exclaimed, the disgust and revolt of her soul finding its
only expression in an inarticulate cry. And then she instinctively fled
towards the street door.

But Goddard overtook her in two or three great strides. She shrank into
the corner, put up her hand as if he were about to touch her.

“Let me go. Don’t come near me. Don’t speak to me. It is horrible.”

“Yes, it’s horrible,” he replied fiercely. “But it is my curse, and not
my fault, that I have a wife like that.”

“Your wife, your wife?” she said in a queer, faint voice. “That--that
woman your wife?”

“You did not think it was my mistress?” he exclaimed with bitter
coarseness. “To come to _her_ after leaving you!”

She recovered her composure with a strong effort.

“I will trouble you to open that door for me.”

He slid back the latch, held the door open for her to pass out, followed
her, and, shutting it behind him, stood with her on the steps. Then,
before she had time to descend, he seized her by the wrist.

“What madness made you come to this house? Tell me.”

Her first impulse was to wrench herself free and rush down to the
waiting cab, so as to fly from the loathed spot, and be alone with her
sickening mortification. But he held her too firmly.

“Tell me,” he said again sternly. “You would not come here without some
good reason.”

“Let go my arm. You are hurting me.”

“Forgive me,” he said, in a softer tone, dropping her wrist. “The hell
of indoors followed me out here.”

Lady Phayre at that moment hated him intensely. If it had been a mere
personal service to him, rather than perform it she would have called to
her safe-conduct into the cab the policeman who was pacing the solitary,
windswept street. But she reflected on the gravity of the issue.
Mastering her repugnance, she told him in a few curt sentences the
object of her mission. The longing for escape tingled through every
fibre in her body. As soon as the last word of the hated task was
spoken, she shuddered, flew down the steps, and rushed into the cab.

At the door of Queen’s Court Mansions, after she had paid her fare, her
heart stood still with a sickening recollection. She had left the letter
behind in the box. For a moment she thought of driving back to claim it;
but that was impossible. She crawled up the stairs and went to bed, her
brain reeling with rage, disgust, and humiliation.

Goddard stood bareheaded on the steps till the cab had disappeared in
the darkness, and then let himself in with his latch-key. He went into
the dining-room. Lizzie, lying half asleep on the couch by the fire,
turned her glazed eyes towards him as he entered. Her hair was squalidly
loose, her face bloated, her figure shapeless, her dirty dressing-gown
half open, her stockings wrinkling around her ankles. The room smelt of
spirits; the furniture was awry; the table-cloth was askew, and on it
were crumbs of a half-eaten Bath bun, a dirty handkerchief, and a copy
of a penny novelette, lying open at a great stain of grease.

A wave of indescribable loathing passed through the man. A savage desire
leaped from his heart to snatch the sofa-cushion from under her and
stifle her with it as she lay there, but it ended in a great lump in his
throat.

“I told you to go to bed,” he said fiercely. “Go at once.”

She rose to her feet and staggered, unable to walk. If she had fallen to
the ground, Goddard felt that he could not have touched her. She dropped
back on the couch. He rang the bell and the girl appeared.

“Call cook and put your mistress to bed at once. I am going back to
Ecclesby to-night. I don’t know how long I shall be away. I shall wire
to Mrs. Smith to come here to-morrow.”

The girl went out to fetch the cook. Lizzie looked at him with stupid
gravity.

“Think I believe you’re a-going to Ecclesby? You’re going to that
Piccadilly Circus woman.”

Goddard sprang forward, caught her by the loose collar of her dressing
gown, and shook her till the stuff tore.

“Do you want me to kill you?” he said, between his teeth, glaring at
her.

She was frightened, and began to whimper.

Goddard stood for a moment looking at her. Then he passed his hand
through his hair in a passionate gesture.

“O God!” he cried, in a low, trembling voice, and then strode out of the
room.

He sought mechanically his still unpacked bag, his overcoat and
necessaries, and went out into the night. At St. Paneras Station he
found Gleam waiting on the platform. He was conscious of the Member
asking him for certain explanations concerning the Midland Grand Hotel
and Lady Phayre, and of listening to details of the leakage of secrets,
Rosenthal’s defection, to congratulations, encouragement, adieux as the
train moved off, but it was all a phantasmagoria in which his intellect
worked independently of himself. The glorious news he was carrying, the
certain victory that was to crown his hopes and ambitions, the thousands
of lives whose destiny he was bearing in his hands--all loomed like
vague shadows at the back of his consciousness. But his brain was on
fire with passionate love for Lady Phayre, and wild hatred of the woman
from whom he had just parted. If man ever carried the fires of hell in
his heart it was Goddard, that night, as he was on his way to realise
the first great ambition of his life.



CHAPTER XI--RECONSTRUCTION

The victory was complete. The sudden collapse of the firms caused a
sensation all over the country. The newspapers were ringing with his
name. He was the hero of the hour. At Ecclesby he was the hero for
all time. His first appearance after the announcement of the terms
of settlement was a signal for extravagant demonstration. Men shouted
themselves hoarse, and fought to shake hands with him. Women wept upon
each other’s necks and shrilled out blessings. One, mad with joy, threw
her arms around him and kissed him. A torch-light procession, headed by
two frenzied bands, playing “See the Conquering Hero comes,” carried him
in triumph through the streets.

For the time his heart glowed with the intoxication of success and
popular worship. But when the shouts of the crowd had ceased ringing in
his ears, the glow faded like a false glamour, and left him face to face
with grim realities, before which all else seemed shadowy. As soon as
he reached London, he went with whirling thoughts to Queen’s Court
Mansions.

What he should say to Lady Phayre he did not know. All that he had
defined was a fierce hunger to see her again, a wild longing to throw
himself at her feet. The dormant passion of the man had awakened and
shook him to the depths of his nature. His love for her had flowed
so calmly, had quickened so imperceptibly, had maintained so smooth
a surface with passionate depths so unsuspected, that when the sudden
chasm met its course, it dashed down an overwhelming cataract that swept
him headlong into unknown abysses. The blood swirled through his veins
as he stood waiting outside the familiar door. The servant opened it.
Lady Phayre was unwell, was not receiving any visitors. “Is she in bed?”
 asked Daniel rudely.

“She is keeping her room, sir.”

“Tell her that I wish to see her.”

The servant retired, and returned with the message that Lady Phayre
could not possibly receive, and would not be well enough to do so for
some time. He had to depart, raging with disappointment. He went home,
shut himself up in his room, and wrote to her. The days passed, and he
received no reply. A second letter met with similar treatment. Then he
called again. This time neither the electric bell, nor the little brass
knocker, caused the door to be opened. At the entrance to the Mansions
he met the porter, who told him that Lady Phayre had locked up her flat
for six months, and had gone to the south of France.

Then, and then only, did Goddard realise his lost paradise. He had been
buoyed up with hopes that if he could but have speech with her he could
win his pardon, his right of entry into the bit-over of Eden that she
inhabited. Now she had closed the gates. If the porter had been the
angel of the flaming sword, Goddard could not have looked at him with
more hopeless acquiescence.

He wandered for some time aimlessly through the streets. Life seemed
as drear as the murky November afternoon that was merging into a wet,
dismal night. He had finished his routine duties for the day, had
hurried through them feverishly in view of his visit to Lady Phayre. He
walked on to Piccadilly Circus. There he stopped, debated for a moment
what he should do. A Bayswater ’bus had just drawn up at the end
of the lumbering line, and the conductor was vociferating loudly. He
shouted into Goddard’s face--

“Now, then! Nottin’ ’Ill, sir. Room inside.”

Goddard turned away quickly. He could not go home. The thought of
Lizzie, foul and drunken, caused a red cloud to pass before his eyes. In
his present mood it would be well not to see her.

He made his way to his club, mounted to the quiet library, where he
would be undisturbed by the chatter of acquaintances, and pulling up an
arm-chair before a fire-place in a dark corner, gave himself up to the
grim task of reconstructing his life. A new devastating element had come
into his sphere--Lizzie. In the days before his friendship with Lady
Phayre his wife had counted for little in his earnest life. He regretted
her unhappiness, did what lay in his power to remedy the irremediable
mistake of his marriage; but never desiring freedom, the bond scarcely
troubled him. Even during the sweetness of his intercourse with Lady
Phayre it had galled him but little. She was so far above him, the
feelings with which he regarded her were so new to his almost original
experience that he had not realised that he loved her after the common
way of men. In the serenity of Lady Phayre’s atmosphere Lizzie counted
for no more than the little bare top-room in which he had once lived,
his early memories of hardship and struggle with poverty. But now when
the idyll was over, when he felt the man’s fierce passion for the woman
that was lost to him, the other woman who stood between counted as a
terrible, resistless force.

He gazed with set features into the fire. It faded, and in its place
rose the scene of that night when the two women had met. One face noble,
intellectual, pure in outline; the other, sodden, coarse, and bestial.
He gripped the arms of his chair, and a half groan came from his lips.
A loathing of the woman to whom he was bound arose within him like a
nausea.

Then anger shook him--anger at the folly of his marriage; anger at the
coarse nature of his wife, at her father’s drunkenness, at the pretty
baby face that had caught his raw fancy--anger, too, at Lady Phayre. Why
had she sought him out? Why had she lured him on to enslave himself to
her? Anger at her scorn of him, at her fine-lady sensitiveness that was
revolted at the sight of a drunken shrew. Anger at her having led him
into the fool’s paradise only to eject him ignominiously.

A slight tap on his shoulder aroused him. He started round: the anger
that was hot within him turned against the disturber. It was Gleam.

“I have been looking round the club for some one to dine with. Come
along,” he said in his friendly way.

But Goddard glowered at him. At that moment Gleam seemed to belong
to the other side of the great gulf, and he hated him with the old
class-hatred. He looked so spick and span with his evening dress, and
gold eye-glass, and meticulously trimmed head. His manner was so easy,
giving the impression of freedom from sordid cares. He had no foul
drunken wife dragging him down. He could meet Lady Phayre on a level.
He could offer her marriage, and she could but take the offer as a
compliment. A sense of personal degradation filled Goddard’s soul, and
he hated himself for hating Gleam. In a moment, however, he came to his
senses, but not before Gleam had rallied him on his confusion.

“Caught you napping, eh? Well--will you dine?”

“No,” said Goddard, rising from his chair. “Not to-night. I ought to
have got out of this half-an-hour ago.”

He made a pretence of stretching himself as if he had been asleep. Gleam
looked at him with his quick glance.

“You have been overworking yourself. Take care. You great strong men
break with a crash. Go away and have a rest.”

“Like Lady Phayre,” said Goddard, in the bitterness of his heart.

“Quite so. That confounded strike of yours did for her. What the dickens
we’re to do without her I don’t know.”

“Life will go on just the same, I suppose. No one is indispensable.”

He laughed mirthlessly. A faint flush rose in Gleam’s dry cheeks.

“You’re talking treason, Goddard. You certainly do want a rest.”

“One wants a devil of a lot of things one can’t get,” said Goddard.

“I want my dinner, and I’m going to get it,” replied Gleam
good-humouredly. “Goodbye.”

He went out of the library, took his place in the lift. His eyes
twinkled, and he smoothed his moustache abstractedly. Then a little
exclamation broke from him.

“I wonder!” said he.

“Did you speak, sir?” said the lift-porter.

“Eh?” replied Gleam. “Yes; I wonder--I wonder why I have come down to
the basement when I wanted the dining-room floor.”

But Goddard could not sit any longer in the library. The brooding spell
was over, and its place was taken by feverish unrest. He left the Club,
went out into the streets, and began to walk rapidly. Whither was he
going? He did not care. A vague idea that he could free himself of his
madness by physical exercise prompted him. He had a faint recollection
of a scene in a penny dreadful read in his board-school days--a scene
where the hero, to bring calmness to his throbbing brain, mounted his
horse and galloped at whirlwind speed over miles and miles of moorland,
in frenzied chase, until the noble animal’s heart burst and he staggered
and fell, throwing his rider, who broke his neck. But Goddard walked--up
the hurrying Strand and Fleet Street, through the fast-emptying City;
eastwards, up Fenchurch Street, the Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road,
jostling through the crowded thoroughfares that reeked with the odour
of fried-fish, naphtha from costers’ barrows, and the day’s sweat of the
toiling population; down Whitehouse Lane and Stepney High Street on
to Ratcliffe Highway. The squalor and misery of it all touched the
ever-responsive chord in his nature, awoke the demagogue in him to
sympathy with the people. The East End had never appeared to him so
terrible, so crushing in its vast unloveliness. Mile after mile it was
just the same--the same stench, the same stunted men; the same anemic
girl-mothers; the same foul, fringed, and feathered women of the street;
the same bestial talk that seemed to hang continuously on the air; the
same scenes of drunken brawling outside the public-houses; the same
dreamy, endless tram-cars, smoothly gliding past this hubbub and swelter
of humanity on the pavement; and everywhere the same joyless
struggle for the four sole ends of life--food, raiment, shelter, and
forgetfulness.

Goddard felt a strange and stern comfort in steeping his soul in these
wide waters of bitterness. He went on and on, through brawling companies
of sailors, swarthy Lascars, and the land-scum that clings round the
seafaring life; past evil-smelling marine stores, live-stock dealers
dissonant with the screeching of parrots, slop-shops, low eating-houses,
scented from afar, even through the general stench, by the miasmic
exhalations from basement gratings. At the end of the Highway he turned,
retraced his steps, went through the foul river-side slums, crossed the
Commercial Road, struck northwards, up dark, narrow streets, where the
flare and turmoil of the great arteries were perceived but faintly, and
the minor privacies of life were in sordid evidence. Through streets of
sweaters’ dens he could see the vague forms of the workers behind the
blindless windows. Once he stopped and counted--thirty in one small,
gas-lit room.

To carry on the combat with the powers of evil that enthralled this
hideous city, his life needed little reconstruction. He thought of Lady
Phayre, clenched his stick, and swung it furiously.

“I’ll go on with my work, and she can go to the devil!” he said.

And he walked on through the endless streets.

*****

It is a simple way to rid ourselves of burdens, to consign them to
Avernus, and ship them on the waters of Lethe. Unfortunately it is not
always successful. They are apt to be elusive, like the vampire in the
Indian story which Vikram could not keep in his sack. They slip from the
hold of the dark ship, and return to the shoulders of the consigner. But
in this Goddard’s pride allowed no confession of failure. He blustered
himself into the belief that Lady Phayre was no more to him than Hecuba
was to the First Player, thus playing the hypocrite to himself with
morose and stubborn futility. He plunged into his work with redoubled
energy, grew angry when he found that it did not give him the old
sufficing happiness, and obstinately refused to allow the simple,
obvious cause.

And then the new element of discord in his life had to be accepted and
harmonised. Lizzie was going from bad to worse. He brought Emily to live
in the house to take permanent charge of her. Together they tried to
mitigate the evil, to circumvent her in her plans for obtaining drink;
but she was more than their equal in cunning. The disease had laid its
everlasting grasp upon her. She sank daily in degradation. Daniel
could not cheat himself into the fancy of freedom from this burden of
loathing. Yet he was a man with a keen sense of justice. The more his
heart revolted, the more doggedly did he repress outward manifestation.
He bore her reproaches silently, strove to render her lot less bitter.

“I believe you’re an angel from heaven, Daniel,” said Emily once. She
always had looked up to him with reverential adoration. “How you can put
up with her I don’t know. You’re a living angel if ever there was one.”

“You think so, do you, Em?” he answered with a rough laugh, rather
touched. “Well, go on thinking so. It won’t do me any harm.”

Only once did Lizzie refer to the night of Lady Phayre’s visit. It was a
Sunday evening. Emily had gone to church, and had left the two together
in the drawing-room. Daniel was smoking a pipe over a book, and Lizzie
was engaged with some needlework--a rare occupation. She had been less
fretful that day, had even asked him to sit with her. Gradually, as
Daniel read, her efforts with her needle became spasmodic. There were
intervals of gazing into the fire, and sudden resumptions of industry.
Then she rose, moved about the room, idly examining nicknacks and
fidgeting with furniture. At last she left the room, and entered her
bedroom that adjoined.

Suddenly Daniel’s attention was arrested by a sharp tinkling sound. He
started to his feet and went quickly to join Lizzie. It was as he had
suspected. By the half-light of the dim-burning gas he saw her thrusting
a bottle beneath some garments in a trunk. A glass half full of spirits
was close by on the mantelpiece.

“Lizzie! How can you?” he cried.

She turned upon him in a fury.

“How dare you come in here! How dare you spy upon me! If I want to drink
I’ll drink. What business is it of yours if I kill myself?”

She seized the glass, had already put it to her lips, when he strode
forward and dashed it from her hand.

“You won’t do it to-night anyhow, Lizzie,” he said calmly.

She broke into a torrent of angry speech.

When the drink or passion was upon her, she used the vernacular of the
Sunington streets--of her own home, for the matter of that. He waited
until there was a lull in the tempest.

“I’ll have the bottle anyway,” he said, turning to the trunk.

But that was the signal for a fresh outburst. She sat upon the trunk,
swore he should never have it while she lived, prepared to defend her
property by physical means. Goddard shrugged his shoulders, and sat down
upon the bed.

“All right,” he said; “I’ll wait.”

Then she burst into hysterical sobbing. She wished she was dead. She
hated him. He was a brute. That was all he lived for--to keep the spy
upon her when he wasn’t making up to other women.

“Do you think I’m a fool?” she cried, suddenly taking her hands from her
face and turning to him. “Do you think I don’t know? I don’t interfere
with you: why should you interfere with me? Only don’t bring your women
to this house. Do you think I don’t know your goings on? You are worse
than I am. I don’t pretend. You are a dirty blackguard. You think I
don’t know all about your Rhodanthes and things?”

He started as if she had struck him, for a moment lost the command
over himself that he had maintained through all the ordure of words. He
regained it with a violent effort, clutching the counterpane fiercely,
until his finger-nails were turned back. He understood now how a man
could beat a woman. If he lost the hold over himself, he would rush to
her and beat her--beat her until she lay senseless. Perhaps she almost
expected it, for she paused at the last words, and looked at him
half-coweringly, halfdefiantly. So their eyes remained fixed on one
another in the dim-lit room. Then she shuddered with body and lips, and
uttering a low cry hid her face. A terror had taken possession of her.
She was conquered.

Daniel rose from the bed, went to her, and took her by the arm.

“Go into the next room,” he said sternly, and she obeyed.

He joined her after he had disposed of the disputed whisky-bottle.
And there they sat in an appalling silence, until Emily came back from
church, and relieved him of his charge.

That was the last time that Lizzie referred to Lady Phayre. He wondered
how she had learned her name--that name Rhodanthe, which he had ever in
his mind--which, save this once, he had never heard uttered aloud.
It was a curious freak of fate’s irony that, on this one occasion, it
should have been uttered by his wife’s lips. The circumstance embittered
him still more against her.

A few weeks after this the long-expected vacancy in the Hough division
occurred, and Goddard was definitely chosen as the Radical candidate.
In the very beginning of his electoral campaign he received news from
London that the terrible drink illness had fallen upon his wife.



CHAPTER XII--A LEADER OF MEN


“Do you think it wise for me to go in?” asked Goddard.

“She has been asking for you,” said the nurse. “It may do her good; but
don’t speak to her.”

“Then she has definitely turned the corner.”

“Yes; at last. But her recovery depends upon absolute quiet. It is
the heart now. A sudden excitement, and then”--she snapped her
fingers--“syncope.”

“That is to say--sudden death.”

“Of course,” said the nurse.

“I shall merely sit by her side for ten minutes,” said Daniel. “You are
sure it will please her?”

“It will be a sign of forgiveness,” said the nurse. She sighed. “Ah!
poor thing! I’ll go and prepare her.”

Goddard sat down wearily in the stiffly furnished drawing-room to await
his summons, and rested his head in his hands. He was very tired. The
strain, mental and physical, of the past three months had told upon him.
His face was worn and yellow, and his eyes were rather too bright for
health. A strange thing for him, he had been driven to seek medical
advice for insomnia. The prescription was immediate rest and change. He
shrugged his shoulders. After the election, perhaps.

Intense political feeling prevailed in the division. Goddard’s influence
was such as to leave none lukewarm. The conflict was raging fiercely.
One of the heaviest polls on record was anticipated. The strain of
candidature would have been great in ordinary circumstances. Coming as
it did upon an already over-worked man, it was dangerous. And then
there was Lizzie’s illness. He had already come to town several times
to satisfy himself that all was being done for her that money and skill
could accomplish. It had been a matter of feverish anxiety lest any act
of omission on his part should endanger her recovery.

He sat with his head in his hands, staring at the pattern of the carpet,
too tired to think coherently. To-morrow was polling day. He would have
to get back that evening. By the registers he ought to get in. “Daniel
Goddard, M.P.”--a name to conjure with in a few years’ time. And yet
there was something missing. He knew what it was only too well. It might
have been. He would have seen her in Hough to-morrow--eager, radiant,
driving about the polling-booths, wearing his colours. And if he
won--the joy of standing before her in his victory! But the other
picture rose up before him. All through the election he had been haunted
by the two women. He had wrestled with passionate desires. One night,
when news had come that Lizzie lay between life and death, a horrible,
overwhelming longing that she might die had kept him awake till the
morning, when he rose and took the first train to town, to assure
himself that no stone was being left unturned in order to save her.
He remembered now some of Emily’s descriptions of the horrors of that
bed-side, and he shivered. Thank God it was over. She wanted to see him.
Perhaps this might mark a change in their lives. He wondered whether she
knew anything of the election. Perhaps she might take a pride in being
the wife of a Member of Parliament. But what good could it do her? It
would not bring fresh interests into her life. Yes, it was hopeless.
Any common woman in the street would be as fit a companion for him. And
again the longing for the companionship he had lost came upon him, and
his thoughts, in his weary mood, lingered over the witchery of her odd
name--Rhodanthe.

“I am sorry to have kept you waiting, Mr. Goddard,” said the nurse,
coming in. “There were some odds and ends to do in the room. You’ll be
very, very quiet, won’t you?”

“You are sure there is no danger?” asked Goddard.

The nurse smiled at his insistence.

“Don’t speak to her or make her talk. That is all,” she said.

Goddard entered the sick-room on tiptoe. At the door Emily met him on
her way out, and whispered a caution not to stay too long. He went to
the bedside. Lizzie was lying very still and white. The flesh had left
her cheeks; they were pinched, her features sharp, the skin drawn away
tight against the bones. Her colourless lips hung loose; her teeth
were prominent--a death’s head rather than a living woman. Goddard was
shocked to the heart. He scarcely recognised her. Not only did he fail
to see in her any traces of the girl he had once thought to love, but
also she was no longer the woman he had hated.

“So you’ve come,” she whispered, moving a feeble hand.

He took it in his, tried to smile to reassure her. Her lips moved again.

“Won’t you kiss me?”

Her voice had not changed. It lessened the strange sense of
unfamiliarity with which he had been regarding her. There was an
involuntary touch of peevishness in the tone. He bent down and kissed
her cheek.

“Make haste and get well, Lizzie,” he said in a low voice.

She seemed satisfied with this, for she half closed her eyes, and let
her hand slip from his on to the counterpane. Daniel sat down in the
chair facing the small table by the bedside, on which were a bottle of
medicine and glass, a bunch of violets in water, and her Bible. This
last was a beautifully bound volume, edged with brass, and closed with
a heavy clasp. Daniel had given it to her in the early days of their
marriage, when she was eager to surround herself with all the obvious
essentials of gentility. He had learned lately from Emily’s chatter how
she had insisted upon this Bible being placed near her. “As if the Holy
Book could charm away the other things,” Emily had said in an awed tone.

The sight of it carried his thoughts back. Only once before had he sat
by her side like this--in this very room, too. She had been very white
and still then, but young and fresh, with gladness in her eyes that had
awakened within him an answering thrill. And there had been a little
wee pink thing at her breast. It had fluffy black down on its head,
he remembered. In this room, too, it had died three years later of
diphtheria. The room’s associations grew upon him. It was here that he
had first come by the knowledge of the curse of her life. She was lying
speechless one evening on the bed. He had bent over her unsuspectingly,
and then started back with a horrible spasm of disgust. Involuntarily
now he raised his head and looked at her. Her eyes were open, staring
at the ceiling. His fancy seemed to read in them the lingering horrors
through which she had passed. He shuddered, thanked God that the child
had died. The hereditary poison must have lurked in its young veins.

To shake off these thoughts he rose, stirred the fire into a blaze, and
returned to his seat. Then, moved by compunction--for this was a visit
of forgiveness--he stretched out his arm and smoothed the back of her
hand. A look of gratefulness appeared on her face, and she closed her
eyes again. Daniel’s heart softened a little towards her.

The minutes passed slowly. He grew restless, wished that the nurse or
Emily would come and relieve him. A sick-room, where one has to sit
perfectly still, is not the place for a man suffering from nervous
excitement. His eyes fell again on the Bible. He had not seen his gift
for years. There was a certain pathos in her desire to have it near her.

He took it up, undid the clasp, and looked at the fly-leaf. “To my dear
wife.” He sighed. He had tried to delude himself in those days that he
loved her. Could he ever write such an inscription again? He shook his
head, as the ever-haunting face of the other woman came between his eyes
and the leaf. He turned the pages. They fell open, naturally, where a
letter had been placed. The back of the envelope was turned to him. He
thought it was one of his own to his wife, and felt touched by the idea
of her keeping it there. He took it up curiously, but as his glance fell
on the address he started with great amazement. It was in Lady Phayre’s
handwriting--bore only his name. It had been opened. He himself surely
had never received such a letter. With heart furiously beating and
trembling fingers, he drew out the enclosure.

“_Go, my hero and leader of men, to your victory. And if you love me,
come back to me for your reward--whatsoever your heart desireth.

“Rhodanthe._”

For a few moments he remained staring at the paper, unable to
comprehend. Then the truth crashed down upon him--both the letter’s
significance and the probable history of its miscarriage. His brain
reeled. She loved him. The note of passion in the words drowned his
senses like a great diapason. She loved him. But for this other woman
she would be his. He rose from his chair, turning his back to his wife,
and put his hand to his forehead. His instinct was to fly from her
presence. The smouldering hatred had sprung into fierce flame. He made a
few steps by the foot of the bed, then stopped and looked at her. Their
eyes met. He saw that she had been following his movements from the time
he had first opened the Bible. A wave of gathering madness clouded his
brain, surged red before his eyes. Remaining sanity bade him rush from
the room if she was to live. An explosion of his passion would kill her.
But the expression of excitement and fear on her peaked, livid face read
in his disordered brain as one of mocking triumph. It swept away the
lingering self-control. He strode round to her side, lifted his arms
above his head, clenching the letter and shaking with passion, let loose
all the fury in his soul in a low, hoarse cry.

Lizzie rose to a sitting posture, gazed at him for a moment, an
awful terror in her eyes, and then, with a gasp, fell back on her
pillow--dead.

How long he stood there, as if petrified, he never knew. When he
recovered reason he wiped the great drops of perspiration from his
forehead, thrust the letter into his pocket, and rushed from the room.

“Emily! Nurse!” he shouted from the top of the landing; and when they
appeared hurriedly from the dining-room, “Come up at once: I think
Lizzie is dead.”

The women ran up the stairs.

“Go to her. I will fetch Dr. Carson,” he cried, brushing past them.

He caught up a hat from the hall, and in another moment was out of
doors. This pretext for absence and solitude was an inspiration. She
was dead. He was free. He had killed her. He did not notice that an icy,
heavy rain was sweeping the streets. He had killed her for Rho-danthe.
Rhodanthe was his: he had bought her with his soul. He bit his lips
to prevent himself from crying aloud. The rare passers-by turned round
scared at his wild face and furious gait.

The calm of the doctor’s waiting-room was a check, and allowed him to
concentrate his scattered faculties. When the medical man appeared,
alert and matter of fact, he was master of himself. He explained his
errand. He had been sitting with his wife, had idly reached for her
Bible by the bedside. She had sprang up to prevent him. The exertion had
killed her. He had looked through the Bible, found a letter written to
him which she had guarded through jealousy. The explanation was simple
and satisfactory, yet he felt deadly faint.

“You are upset,” said Dr. Carson, who had known him for several years.
“You have been burning the candle at both ends lately. Drink this while
I go and put on my coat.” He poured him out a glass of brandy, which he
took from a cupboard. Goddard gulped it down neat. The spirit saved him
from the threatening collapse and braced his nerves.

He accompanied the doctor to his own house in silence, left him at the
dining-room door to go upstairs to the bedroom, and entering, sat down
to wait. When the doctor returned, it was with a great effort that
Goddard compelled himself to look him in the eyes.

“I am afraid your wife is dead,” said the doctor gravely.

“And I am indirectly the cause,” said Goddard.

The other moved a deprecating hand. “Don’t let that add to your sadness.
Any other chance accident might have done it. Besides, may I speak to
you frankly?”

“By all means.”

“Then--if it will not pain you--it is better so.”

“Would she never have recovered?”

“Her health was shattered. In all probability she would have broken out
again. She and you have been spared some years of certain misery.”

“Then I have done a good action from a philosophical point of view?”
 said Goddard, with a harsh laugh.

“If you put it that way, you have,” replied he doctor, somewhat stiffly.

“Look here, Carson,” cried Goddard excitedly. “I can’t tell you that I
am grieved she had gone. Don’t expect me to play the hypocrite.”

“I expect nothing but the misfortune of having you upon my hands in a
short time,” said the other.

“Then let me speak to you once and for all--as a medical man: I must
speak to somebody. These last few weeks I have been in hell fire. I
hated her. I wanted her to die. I used to wake up at nights wet through
with sweat, through the terror of it. I have been to blame throughout
from the first cursed day I married her. I didn’t love her; she didn’t
care much for me. I had to go my way: she couldn’t follow me. How
could she? She was left alone here all by herself--no company, no
occupations--nothing. You know her history--her father. The drink was in
her blood. I tried to save her--after my fashion. You, who have
attended her for the last eight years, can bear me out. But we were
strangers--not an impulse in common. Latterly--listen: I must tell some
one once, or I shall go mad. I knew what a woman could be--what it was
to want a woman passionately, madly. She came here one night, discovered
I was married--saw my wife drunk in this room. Since then my wife has
been like an incubus throttling me, dragging me down to damnation. And I
wanted her to die. In that room upstairs, an hour ago, when I kissed
her and forgave her, I wanted her to die. When the moment came it was
as though I had murdered her. Tell me, what am I to think? What am I to
do?”

His features were working strangely, his brow damp with the black hair
straggling across it. He looked at Carson with a searching appeal in his
eyes. The latter took his hand, felt his pulse.

“What you are to do,” he said, “is to go to bed at once and sleep. I’ll
send you round a draught. What you are to think, when you wake up, is
that you are not responsible for her death--that she might have died at
any moment, that it is better to die than to live a life of misery;
that you are a free man, young, with all that makes life worth living
in front of you. And lastly, if you like, that I have forgotten all you
have told me. Now, go to bed and stay there.”

“Impossible,” cried Goddard. “The election.”

“Damn the election!” said the doctor.

“I must go back to-day.”

“And----?”

“I’ll make the arrangements,” replied Goddard with a shiver. “To-day is
Tuesday. It will be for Friday. The poll will be declared at latest on
Thursday morning. I must be there. Man alive!” he cried, with a queer
tremor in his voice. “I cannot stay in this house! It would drive me
mad. To sit here doing nothing--nothing--only thinking. I must go back.
It will occupy my mind. There are two women in this house--the dead one
who is living, and the living one who is dead--has been dead to me. If
ever action and stimulus have been necessary to me, they are imperative
now. I must do it, man, I tell you--I must do it.”

He began to walk about the room in a state of restless excitement,
now and then moistening his lips with his tongue, and passing his hand
through his hair. Dr. Carson reasoned with him. He was a young man, and
felt himself powerless before Goddard’s stronger personality. By virtue
of mere professional prestige you cannot force a man to follow your
prescriptions. Goddard impetuously swept aside his arguments. At last he
stopped short, as if struck by a sudden inspiration.

“I tell you what, Carson, I’ll promise to start at once for the south of
France, as soon as this miserable business is over, and not do a stroke
of work for a month.”

“That’s the only sensible thing you have said to-day,” returned the
other, more cheerily. “You’d better let me see you again before you go.”

They parted. Goddard stumbled heavily upstairs to his own room, threw
himself on the bed, and lay there, holding his burning head in his
hands.

And Emily sat in the death-chamber and cried, the only soul on the wide
earth who had love for the poor, wrecked creature that was dead, for
Sophie, her sister, had never had a word of good to say on Lizzie’s
behalf. She alone knew and pitied the miserable tragedy of that poor,
futile life.



CHAPTER XIII--THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER

The Paris-Lyons express was speeding through the darkness. It was
intensely cold. The two other occupants of the carriage were shiveringly
asleep beneath their rugs. But Goddard was awake, tinglingly awake, yet
unconscious of external things.

He was passing through one of those rare epochs in life when a man
feels himself to be master of his fate. Ever since he had seen the Dover
Cliffs fading out of sight, and with them the last troubling impressions
of a late graveside, he had been strung with a sense of invincibility.
Nothing in his life that he had ardently desired had not been
accomplished. He had but to will a thing, and it was done. He had
conquered his position, step by step, with never a failure--his
reputation as a popular leader, his responsible position in the
Progressive League, his seat on the London County Council, his standing
as an economic writer, his prestige at Ecclesby, and now his seat in
Parliament. He had been returned by a triumphant majority. The victory
intoxicated him--that and the elation of freedom. In his exalted mood he
saw himself lifted above the moral conventions of men. The death of
his wife seemed a part of his destiny of victory. He had scarcely been
responsible. Blind fate had helped him, as it had done hitherto.

And now he was on his way to the most glorious conquest of all. Every
moment was bringing him nearer. To-morrow he would see Lady Phayre. His
arms would be about her. She would yield herself to him. The new life
would begin--great, glorious, wonderful. With her by his side there
would be nothing impossible. The whole world should bless his name.
He would make history. He would go down to posterity as the Great
Demagogue.

She would put her white arms about his neck, and her lips would cling to
his. When the thought came, a flash of passion irradiated the whole man.

He never doubted that he would win her. She loved him. The letter which
he had read over a thousand times was overwhelming evidence. Her hurried
flight from London also testified to the seriousness of the blow the
discovery had been to her. He conjured up scenes and incidents in their
past intercourse whose significance, unnoticed at the time, became
sweetly plain in the light of his new knowledge. Nothing could stand
in his way now. He was going to her, not a broken man humiliated with
failure, as he had done on the last occasion he had sought her, but
proud with name and fame, and the promise of great power in the land.

He had not written to her. His imagination was too much fired with the
idea he had conceived of bursting upon her suddenly with the news of his
freedom and with a passionate appeal. The vividness and excitement of
the past few days had awakened the theatrical element in his nature--the
dramatic instinct that lies in the nature of any great orator and leader
of men.

“_Lyons, dix minutes d’arrêt!_”

Goddard left the compartment to stretch his legs. The great station
loomed vast in the darkness of the mid-January morning. The tapping of
the wheels echoed ghostly in the stillness. Only a few muffled forms
had braved the cold, and were stamping their feet on the platform, or
hurrying to the dimly lit buffet for the morning coffee. Nothing more
delicious than this in the sweet spring dawn, but at five o’clock
in mid-winter it requires an effort to leave the snugness of the
compartment. To Goddard the journey was half dream, half delight. The
great train, standing, to his English eyes, monstrously high above the
rails, seemed some strange engine appointed by fate to his service. It
seemed symbolic of the irresistible force that he had at his command.

When the train started again he tried to sleep, but his brain was
too excited. He had not slept for three nights. Yet the feelings of
prostration that had come upon him just before Lizzie’s death had passed
away, giving place to one of intense vitality. Every fibre in his body
was alive. Sleep was scarcely necessary. Only a shooting pain now and
then in his head made him start and pass his hand impatiently across
his forehead. The train thundered on through the darkness, and Goddard
remained awake, possessed by the passionate intensity of his fixed idea.
He watched the day dawn, bright and glorious. At Avignon the world was
bathed in sunshine. It was an omen of happiness. At Marseilles it was
hot. All along that beautiful coast Goddard’s heart glowed within him.
The deep-coloured sea, the flowers, the light, the joyousness of the
south filled his senses with the wonder of a new world. His silent
companions got out at Toulon, and three swarthy Gascons took their
place, and talked with rich deep voices and extravagant gestures
until they reached Camoules, their destination. Goddard missed their
whole-hearted laughter when they had gone.

The day wore on. Cannes at four o’clock. In a few moments he would be in
Nice. He drew once more the letter from his pocket, rested his eyes
on the few words a long, long time. “Whatsoever your heart
desireth--Rho-danthe.” He looked out at the deep blue water meeting
the violet sky. Rhodanthe! The name was strangely in harmony with this
exotic beauty. Before the night was over he would call her by it. She
would be his. Together they would conquer the world.

He stepped on to the platform at Nice like a king coming to take
possession of a new realm. He looked around, as if he should see Lady
Phayre awaiting him, and then smiled at the fancy. The hotel porter
took his luggage to the Hôtel Terminus, the nearest. He was feverishly
anxious to set out on his quest of her without loss of time. A quarter
of an hour sufficed him to wash and make himself presentable, and then
he went out into the Avenue de la Gare. At another time he would have
loved to walk down the beautiful boulevard, bright with shops and cafés
and gaily coloured kiosques; but now the supreme hour of his life had
come, and the great thoroughfare became blurred as in a dream. He hailed
a cab, gave the address “Hôtel des Anglais” to the driver, and sat bolt
upright all the way, in an agony of impatience. He had no eyes now for
the sea as he emerged on to the Promenade des Anglais; but he scanned
the long line of palace-hotels, wondering which was Lady Phayre’s. The
cab stopped by the public gardens. Goddard looked up. It was the Hôtel
des Anglais. He threw a piece of money to the cabman, and entered.

The frock-coated, brass-buttoned porter approached him in polite
inquiry.

“I want to see Lady Phayre,” said Goddard.

“I am afraid, sir,” replied the man, “that Lady Phayre has gone away
this very morning.”

“Gone away?” asked Goddard, looking at him blankly. “Where to?”

“Ah, that I cannot say,” said the porter.

And then he added, with the benevolent smile of his class--

“Perhaps you have not heard, sir, that there is no longer such a person
as Lady Phayre.”

“What?” cried Goddard. “What do you mean?”

“Only that Madame was married this morning. It was to a Monsieur Gleam.
I believe he is a member of Parliament. He has been staying in the
hotel.”

Goddard stared at him with a ghastly face. He turned slowly and went
down the hotel steps. He staggered a few yards. Then the sea, and
the trees, and the great white palaces mingled together in a whirling
circle, and disappeared in the blackness of night. Something in his
brain seemed to snap, and he fell an inert mass on the pavement.

*****

For weeks he lay ill. He recovered to wish that he had died. Despair
overwhelmed him. His crime haunted him waking and sleeping. In his
bodily prostration he seemed to hear the mocking laughter of the fiend
that had prompted it. With the torture of remorse was paradoxically
mingled impotent anger at the cynicism of fate. His soul sickened at
the futility of things. He shrank with shuddering dismay from the ordeal
that lay before him. There were times when death beckoned to him with
tempting hands.

But men of Goddard’s stamp survive the shipwreck of their happiness.
They live on, and go about the world’s work doggedly, stubbornly,
blindly obeying the fighting instinct within them. The great tragedies
of the soul culminate not in death, but in dragging years of life, when
the grasshopper is a burden and desire fails. And such is the end of
Daniel Goddard’s tragedy. He lives to-day. His name is a household word.
He is the coming man, not of a party-clique, but of a nation. He has sat
upon the Treasury Bench. In the next Liberal Administration he will hold
Cabinet rank. He is envied, courted, flattered. The wildest ambitions
of his boyhood are in course of certain fulfilment. But he has lost for
ever the joy of victory; the springs of happiness are for ever closed by
the one overwhelming defeat of his life.

He is on the best of terms with Aloysius Gleam, and attends his wife’s
dinner-parties. Between them the past has only once been referred to,
and that silently. It was the first time he found himself alone with
her, one evening after dinner, Gleam having been summoned from the
drawing-room. Their eyes met for an embarrassing moment. Then Goddard
drew the familiar letter from his pocket-book, held it out for a few
seconds so as to catch her eye, and threw it into the fire. She watched
it blaze, and gave two or three little nods of acknowledgment. Then,
being in a comfortable chair, a bewitching costume, and a considerably
relieved frame of mind, she allowed the moisture to gather in her eyes.
But neither spoke until Gleam returned with a sprightly saying on his
lips. He threw himself into a chair.

“An old servant has just been to return me a sovereign she once stole.
It weighed on her conscience. I asked her about a certain diamond pin.
She looked haggard, and fled incontinently. Verily, all is for the
funniest in this funniest of all possible worlds.”

Rhodanthe broke into her silvery laugh. Goddard joined in grimly
and looked at her. For desire of her he had committed murder. He was
laughing and jesting with her husband and herself. Gleam was right. It
was the most humorous of worlds.

Then his mind went back to the terrible moment of his life, and his
heart gave a great heave, and his lips moved noiselessly.

“God, forgive me!”


THE END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Demagogue and Lady Phayre" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home