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Title: The Book of Months
Author: Benson, E. F. (Edward Frederic)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          BY THE SAME AUTHOR

                    _Crown 8vo., cloth, price 6s._


                          SCARLET AND HYSSOP
                         THE LUCK OF THE VAILS
                            MAMMON AND CO.
                          THE PRINCESS SOPHIA

                       LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN

                     20 & 21, BEDFORD STREET, W.C.



                                  The

                            Book of Months

                                  By

                             E. F. Benson

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                                London

                           William Heinemann

                                 1903



     _This Edition enjoys copyright in all countries signatory to the
     Berne Treaty, and is not to be imported into the United States of
     America_



                             TO MY MOTHER



CONTENTS


              PAGE

JANUARY          1

FEBRUARY        23

MARCH           49

APRIL           79

MAY             97

JUNE           121

JULY           139

AUGUST         165

SEPTEMBER      197

OCTOBER        225

NOVEMBER       251

DECEMBER       273


     _The publisher is informed by the Proprietors of Condy’s Fluid that
     their preparation contains no permanganate of potash. In making
     this correction he desires to express regret if the statement on
     page 83 has done them an injury._



JANUARY


Thick yellow fog, and in consequence electric light to dress by and
breakfast by, was the opening day of the year. Never, to anyone who
looks at this fact in the right spirit, did a year dawn more
characteristically. The denseness, the utter inscrutability of the face
of that which should be, was never better typified. We blindly groped on
the threshold of the future, feeling here for a bell-handle, here for a
knocker, while the door still stood shut. Then, about mid-day, sudden
commotions shook the vapours; dim silhouettes of house-roofs, promised
lands perhaps, or profiled wrecks, stood suddenly out against swirling
orange whirlpools of mist; and from my window, which commanded a double
view up and down Oxford Street, I looked out over the crawling traffic,
with an interest, as if in the unfolding of some dramatic plot, on the
battle of the skies. From sick dead yellow the colour changed to gray,
and for a few moments the street seemed lit by a dawn of April; then
across the pearly tints came a sunbeam, lighting them with sudden
opalescence. Then the smoke from the house opposite, which had been
ascending slowly, like a tired man climbing stairs, was plucked away by
a breeze, and in two minutes the whole street was a blaze of
primrose-coloured sunshine.

All that week I was work-bound in London--a place where, as everyone
knows, there are forty-eight hours in every twenty-four. The reason for
this is obvious. It is impossible to sit idly in a chair in London; it
is impossible (almost) to read a book, and it is (happily) quite
impossible to write one. Hence the hours are multiplied. The sound and
spectacle of life induces a sort of intoxication of the mind. Ten yards
of Piccadilly is a volume, and the Circus an improper epic. Hence the
impossibility of reading; the books are in the flowing tides that jostle
from house-wall to house-wall, and they are vastly more entertaining
than anything that publishers have ever had the good fortune to bring
out.

Now, people who are incapable of reading bookprint--of which the
enormous mass is very sorry stuff--are held to be uneducated; but it
seems to me that people who cannot read, or at any rate conjecture at,
this splendid human print are much more ignorant. For it is here in
these places, alive with the original words and phrases out of which all
books are made, that there lies the key to all books that are worth
reading at all. At any rate, here lies the material; it is here, and
nowhere else, that the _chef_ does his marketing. There are, however,
several rules to be observed if you would read the original. The first
is, that you must attend with all your might; the book, so to speak,
shuts automatically if you cease to attend. The second is, that you must
at a moment’s notice be ready to pity and to praise. The third--and
perhaps the most important of all--is, that you must never be shocked.
For the whole attitude of the observer is covered by pity or praise. The
Great Author does not want his moral condemnation, and, in addition to
this, there is nothing so blinding to one’s self as being shocked. It is
like looking through a telescope at one point only, and that probably
wrongly focussed; for it is focussed by one’s own individual code, which
is almost certainly wrong. It is Human Life you are looking at; if that
is not good enough for you, go and look at something else. There are
plenty of dull things in the world, but remember always that, if you
find other people dull, it is only a sign that a dull person is present.
But if you are to read the book Living, come humble and alert. Try to
catch the point of every phrase, for of this you may be sure--that there
is a point. You will find there, thank God! many pages that will make
you laugh--laugh, that is, properly, with sheer childish, unreflecting
amusement; you will find there things that will make you think; and you
will certainly find there things that will make you want to weep. And if
we knew a little, instead of knowing nothing, we should probably--no,
certainly--fall on our knees, and thank God for that also.

One of each of these occurred to me to-day. The first was when I was
coming out of the club with a friend on our way to dinner. An obsequious
porter held the club door open, an obsequious page-boy stood by our
glittering hansom, with a hand on the wheel. My friend had an opulent
appearance and wore a fur coat. On the pavement were standing two
exceedingly small and ragged boys, and one of them whose hair drooped
over his eyes like a Skye terrier, seeing this resplendent exit, put his
thumbs in the place where the armholes of his waistcoat would have been,
had the merry little devil had one, and, with his nose in the air, said
very loud to the other, ‘Whare are we doining to-night, Bill?’

The second made one laugh at first, but think afterwards, and it was
thus: At the corner of Dover Street there lay a heap of mud and street
sweepings, and as we drew up just opposite, blocked by an opposing tide
of carriages in Piccadilly, a small, very dapper little gentleman in
dress-clothes stepped into the middle of this muck-heap, with the result
that one of his dress-pumps was drawn off his unfortunate foot with a
‘cloop’ and stuck there. On to it there swooped a vulture of the
highway, a lad of about twenty, who picked it out, and made off down
Dover Street with it. Now, what good was one shoe to him? Would he not
have done better to have wiped it carefully on his coat, which really
could not have deteriorated farther, and chanced a tip from the dapper
little gentleman? Or was the instinct of stealing so strong that he
never stopped to think? One would have supposed that a tip was a
practical certainty.

The third sight was merely a matter for tears.

I walked back from dinner, and my way lay up Piccadilly again. At a
populous corner stood a very stout elderly woman, dressed in violent and
ridiculous colours. Her hair was golden, her eyebrows broad, thick and
vilely drawn, her cheeks so burned with rouge that one blushed. She
addressed every passer-by in endearing terms. None regarded her. That
was quite right; but the pity of her standing there on this squally
night, with her horrid mission and her total ill-success! Yes, it is
difficult to thank God for that.

After five days I got deliverance from this entrancing slavery, and,
like a cork from a bottle, flew to Grindelwald. The journey I remember
as a dreadful dream, for I had a cold so bad that all sense of taste,
smell, and most of hearing and feeling, had passed from me, and I
seemed to myself to be a rough deal board being sent by train, and
turned out into a drizzling night at what appeared to be mere cowsheds
on the line, simply for the purpose of declaring that I had no spirit or
lace about me. Spirit! The Queen of Sheba when she had seen Solomon in
all his glory had more. As to lace, that diaphanous material seriously
occupied my waking dreams as we mounted the Jura. Was there anything in
my face that suggested lace, I wondered, or did lace frillings peep out
from my trousers? Anyhow, why lace? I was really almost anxious to
declare five hundred cigarettes, but nobody suggested such a thing.
Then----

The new heaven and the new earth, an earth covered with powdery snow,
thatched here and there by pines, and reaching beyond all power of
thought, by glacier and snowfield and rocks too steep for the settling
of the snow, into the pinnacles of the Eiger and the Wetterhorn. From
ridge to ridge the eye followed, lost in amazement at the wonder of the
earth and the greatness of its design. Austere and silent rose the
virgin snows, and more silent, growing from words to exclamation, and
from exclamation to silence itself, one’s wonder. There, out of the void
and formless pulp which was once the world, they were set, barren,
fruitless, useless, and that is the wonder of them and their glory.
Centuries have been as but seconds in the life of an idle man in the
forming of them; for centuries that have been to them but the winking of
an eye they have raised their immemorial crests, and the centuries shall
be as the sea-sand before they crumble. O ye Mountains and Hills, praise
ye the Lord! Every day you praise Him.

Now, this “Book of Months” is almost certainly worth nothing, anyhow,
and I take this opportunity to inform critics so, in case (as is not
likely) they have the slightest doubt about it. But if they and I are
wrong, it will be because we have both overlooked the possible value of
a true document--true, that is, as far as I personally am able to make
it true. Therefore I will state at once that for the next four weeks the
childish pursuit of making correct lines and edges on the ice occupied
me much more, except on a few occasions, than all the mountains, all
the heavenly blue of the sky, or the divine radiance of the marching
sun. Instead of attending to those big and beautiful things, I got up,
day after day, full of anxious thoughts, and had I been assured that
these anxieties would never trouble me again on condition that I never
again looked at the Eiger, or the scarlet finger of the Finster-Aarhorn
that caught the sunset long after the sun had set to us, I would quite
certainly have closed with the bargain. Those who do not know what a
clean outside-back-counter means can have no voice in this affair, since
they are not acquainted with the subject-matter of it, but those who do
will, I believe, extend to me their pitying sympathy. For no known
reason, I desired to make these and other turns, which when made are of
no conceivable use to anybody, and full of anxious thoughts, which
violent collisions with the elusive material on which I performed fully
justified, I proceeded to devote the hours of light to these utterly
indefensible pursuits. I wished to execute a movement in which the skate
left a certain mark on the ice, and no other (I am alluding, of course,
to involuntary change of edge), and to make these and other marks on the
ice (continuous loops, bracket-eight, and a few more, for the sake of
the curious) I signed a bond, so to speak, for three weeks of my short
mortal life. All morning, that is to say, I struggled with these
evanescent scratchings, ate a hurried lunch, and struggled again till it
was dark. Really, it is very odd, and I hope to do the same next winter.
I am perfectly aware that I could have spent my time much better, or, at
any rate, tried to. I knew that at the time; but I did not care then,
and I do not care now.

There were sane intervals, however. For instance, one Saturday evening
it began to snow. Now, I see nothing conceivably wrong in skating on
Sunday, and am unable to comprehend the position of those who do. But it
is certainly wrong to skate on Sunday when it will spoil the ice on
Monday, and on this particular Sunday I went to church in the morning,
and afterwards took a sandwich lunch from the hotel, and, tying it
securely to a toboggan, sat myself insecurely on the toboggan, and went
alone--that was an essential part of the plan--down past the church and
through the village, through fields of white snow that spouted as the
toboggan met them, even as the spray spouts round the bows of a liner.
In nothing, I suppose, does a man (unless he be M. Santos Dumont) come
nearer to the ecstasy of flight, some low skimming flight that follows
the contour of the ground as swallows when storm is imminent. So went I
down an ever-steepening mile, finishing at the end just by the side of
the bridge that crosses the stream from the glacier. The frost had been
severe for the last week, and this was nearly covered over with lids of
ice that grew out from backwaters and extended almost from bank to bank.
Wherever a stone stood in mid-current, there below it had the ice first
gathered, groping its way downstream till the cold feeler reached
another stone. Then, already half established, it had broadened and
broadened till a third anchorage met it. But in certain swift places the
water still ran unchecked, its flow, of course, greatly diminished with
the lesser melting of the glacier in winter, but still busy, busy,
seeking the sea with steadfast purpose. Round the banks and in the bed
itself of the stream grew an immense company of alders covered
completely with the inimitable confectionery of frost, a forest of
spiked branches.

Then mounting again, I passed up a long gentle slope by a few outlying
châlets, and, having come out of the shadow of the Eiger, sat down to
lunch. The air was utterly windless, the frost so keen that not a flake
of snow clung to my clothes, yet through the glory of that pellucid air
the sun struck so hot that a coat was altogether a superfluity.
Eastwards the Wetterhorn rose in glacier and snowfield, and its superb
and patient beauty, as of some noble woman waiting for the man she
loves, struck me with a pang of delight. Thereafter still climbing, I
entered the pine-woods below the Scheidegg, where the sun drew out a
thousand woodland and resinous smells, as if odorous summer instead of
midwinter held sway.

Alone! I had intended to be alone, but never was a man in more
delectable company. Trees, glimpses of the gorgeous dome above them,
drifts of driven snow, were my companions, while, if one grew overbold,
there was the Eiger to hazard a respectful remark to, and the sun
itself to be worshipped. On no other day, indeed, that I can remember
have I felt so strong a sympathy with Parsees. High it swung, benignant,
and all for the fir-trees and me. Then rising higher, I came to the edge
of the wood and the beginning of the snowfields again, and, resting for
a moment, did an exceedingly childish thing. Underneath a piece of
spreading root of the last tree of that heavenly wood I hid a Bryant and
May’s match-box containing a stick of chocolate, an English sixpence,
two nickel coins of ten centimes, a short piece of pencil, and four
matches. These I dedicate to the wayfarer should he need a light. Also I
should ask him to write his name with the pencil and put it in the
match-box, and, if he feels as foolish as I, add some small object of no
value. Next year I will go there again, and make some further striking
additions to the _cache_. The tree is a large one on the left of the
path, and quite notably the _last in the wood_. My initials are rudely
carved in the piece of root directly above the _cache_. An intelligent
traveller knowing this can hardly miss the place.

Now, where shall we look for the origin of this instructive piece of
foolishness? This is not a merely egotistic query, for I am perfectly
certain that many sober and mature citizens like myself will feel
sympathy with childishness that rejoices in such _caches_ as I made on
the slopes of the Scheidegg. Is it that we still preserve, even in this
well-civilized and restauranted century, some cell in our brain which
even now obeys the prudent instincts of some remote cave-dwelling
ancestor, and do we now in play imitate his serious precautions? Or--and
I like to think this better--have we still, in spite of our sober
maturity, some remnants still of an heritage more priceless than
cave-dwelling ancestors, namely, the lingering joys of our own
childhood? On the whole, the evidence points this way, especially when I
consider in connection with this certain other survivals, like that of
‘talking French.’ Here I feel that I may be treading on alien ground;
the _cache_ habit, I know, is not rare, but I have not at present met
anyone who ‘talks French,’ of which the manner is as follows.

Everyone, I suppose, has moments of sheer physical enjoyment. I need
mention two only: the one, getting into bed, with legs curled up, ere
yet the freezing sheets can be encountered; the other, when very cold
getting into a hot bath, a bath, that is to say, so hot that it is on
the border between bliss and anguish, when, in fact, to move is to
scream. On these occasions--for loneliness is essential,--I ‘talk
French’; that is to say, streams of gibberish flow in a hushed voice
from my lips, in the form of dialogue, and anyone present would hear
remarkable things of this nature:

(With deep anxiety) ‘Usti Icibon?’

(Reassuringly) ‘Mimi molat isto pacher.’

(Reassured) ‘Kaparando guilli. Amatinat skolot.’

I blush to reproduce more. But I long to know if anybody else ‘talks
French.’ I want to talk it with somebody, and compare vocabularies.

A long colloquy was held that afternoon, sitting in the sun, after the
_cache_ was made, and then towards sunset I started to go back through
the pine-wood with dim but welcome thoughts of bears and brigands lying
in wait on each side the path. One corner I remember I particularly
feared, for low-growing bushes bordering the path might conceal almost
anything. That I had good reason to fear it I soon found out, though I
had feared it for wrong reasons, for my toboggan threw me with reckless
gaiety into the middle of those same bushes. In fact, for the first
half-mile the track was abominable; bare stones and tree-roots
alternated with passages of breathless rapidity; never have I
experienced a quicker succession of violences. But as the wood grew less
dense the texture of the going became more uniform, and for the last
mile I hissed downwards with ever-increasing speed and smoothness
through the pallor of the snow-bright dusk. Large stars beamed luminous
overhead, and from scattered cottages sprang the twinkling lights,
showing that all were home from the frozen fields and safe within walls.
Then, wonder of wonders! the full moon rose over the top of the
Wetterhorn with a light as clear as running water and as soft as sleep,
making complete with its perfection this perfect day.

The other interlude from this rage of tracing useless marks on the ice
was a funeral. The funeral was that of Slam’s kitten, though the kitten
was not really Slam’s at all. But, to go back to the beginning of
things, it is necessary that you should know who Slam was. Her real
name was Evelyn Helen Anastasia, and goodness knows what; but what
matters more is that she was a child six years and one month old,
freckle-faced, snub-nosed, devoted to animals and the outside edge, and
by far the most popular person in the hotel. It was the outside edge
originally that had brought us together, for she had told me that I
didn’t do it properly, and, very kindly showing me how, she had fallen
heavily on the ice. As I picked her up, she said:

‘You see what I mean, don’t you? Let me show you again.’

Under her tuition I improved, and, what was more important, our
friendship ripened. I am proud to think that I was the only person who
ever heard about the kitten, which had followed Slam--I am sure I don’t
wonder--with pitiful mewings, down from the Happy Valley, an ownerless
beast that would have touched hearts more hard than Slam’s. She kept it
in a cupboard in her room and fed it with cake. This I learned on the
second day of the kitten’s imprisonment. That evening it died. I will
pass over Slam’s lamentations, and the wealth of falsehood by which I
convinced her that a diet of cake in an airless cupboard was the only
thing that could have saved it. Then, as it was dead, it had to be
buried, still without the cognizance of Slam’s nurse, whom I feared.

‘I don’t want a lot of people,’ said Slam. ‘It would be much nicer if we
buried her quietly. So when nurse is at dinner I will bring her down in
my hat.’

Meantime I had procured a cardboard box, and from Slam’s hat the kitten
passed into its coffin. The coffin was put on our toboggan--for Slam and
I were going to lunch out--and the catafalque left the hotel.

Slam put her hand into mine--a compliment that only children can
pay--and we debated about the cemetery. I personally inclined to the
riverbed at the bottom of the valley, but Slam would have none of it.

‘Up above,’ she said, ‘it is cleaner;’ and, though it was all pretty
clean, I assented. ‘Then we can eat our lunch and toboggan down,’ she
added. This was common-sense; to walk up after the funeral would be
depressing; we might recover our lightness of spirit if we left the
tobogganing till afterwards.

On the way up, through the village, that is, and towards the glacier,
the talk turned on serious subjects. Did I believe that animals would
have a resurrection? Why did God make them if they were just to die and
be finished? Again, if they were to have a resurrection, was it not
proper to bury them properly? Thus we arrived at the cemetery. Four
pine-trees stood there, with snow drifted high between them; the
benediction of the sun hallowed the place; never had anyone a more
virgin tomb. We scooped out the snow down to soil-level, and dropped the
box into the excavation. Then with pious hands we covered it up, and on
the top of the cairn planted sprigs taken from the pines.

‘And now I will say my prayers,’ said Slam.

She knelt down in the snow, and, even with the fear of her nurse before
my eyes, I could say nothing to dissuade her, but knelt by her and
uncovered my head. And then Slam said the Lord’s Prayer, and asked that
she might be a good girl always, and prayed that God might bless her
father and mother and nurse and me.

Do you know what it is to be remembered in the prayers of a child? Then
she paused: ‘and the kitten,’ she added. And I said ‘Amen.’

So there the kitten lies, between the sky and the beautiful snow-clad
earth. Pines whisper about it, and the Wetterhorn and Eiger watch over
its resting-place. And Slam said her prayers there.

What follows? As far as I am concerned, this: I believe that the whole
creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together, and that there will
be one day a great healing and comforting. And when on that day,
mysteriously, unintelligibly, that little body, which meantime has fed
the grasses and the alpine flowers of the place, comes to itself and is
alive again, I believe that a happy little kitten will stand between
those four pine-trees, lost no longer. And Slam and I will recognise it.
And the kitten--who knows?--will recognise us, and Slam will say again,
in the phrase that is so often on her lips:

‘Oh, it is nice!’



FEBRUARY


A quantity of wholly uninteresting things have happened. I have with
infinite rackings of thought made £290 on the Stock Exchange, and never
was money more hardly earned. I am also well on the way to lose the
whole of it. If, as seems highly probable, I do, never will money be
more hardly lost. I have returned from Grindelwald to find a London of
the most icy cold, followed by a London of the most sickening tepidity,
swimming in mud, the colour of which and the texture of which is that of
nightmares. A pallid daylight strikes through rods of rain, the streets
smell of mackintosh, and an unfathomable depression prevails. The County
Council have seized this unrivalled opportunity for taking up the whole
of the principal thoroughfares, and it is impossible to get anywhere
without going in a totally different direction. I played bridge last
night, revoked and was not detected, which argues a mournful level of
intelligence both in one’s self and one’s adversaries, and went to bed
only to dream of a fifth suit, which, dimly veiled, swallowed aces of
trumps, or any such cards, like oysters, a gulp and no more, and woke to
find the same dark streaming and leaden heavens.

It is the weather that with me is chiefly responsible both for these
despondencies and for sky-scraping spirits. And I know of nothing so
hard to bear as weather-depressions. One cannot by employment of
idleness get rid of them, so long as the conditions that gave the
depressions birth still continue. And of all weather-depressions the one
that occurs when spring struggles to be born from dying winter is the
most despondent. One’s body, especially after a month in Switzerland,
has been adjusted to low temperatures, and the effect of the change is
the same as that produced by a tepid bath in the morning instead of a
cold one. Briskness of body and spirit alike vanish, and to-day, though
I am accustomed to these annual visitations, I went so far as to take
my temperature, there being, as I well knew, nothing whatever the matter
with me. Of course it was normal.

This transition-weather has now lasted a week, but there have been
certain intervals and alleviations. One of these occurred last Sunday. I
went in the afternoon to the Oratory at Brompton, and heard that service
of Vespers and Benediction which, whether mumbled unintelligibly by a
shabby priest in an empty church, or conducted with that splendid sense
of ‘form’ which characterizes the Oratory, never fails to give me a
feeling of ‘uplifting’ which I cannot hope to express. There in the
morning has the symbol of that Divine Mystery been laid on the Lord’s
Table, and there after the candles have been lit, and the worshipper
cleansed by the incense, is again revealed the ‘Salutaris Hostia,’ the
sign, outward and visible, of the Love through which existence is.

Then I crossed the park, and by degrees the unutterable languor of the
early spring began to thaw its way back into me, when suddenly I saw a
large tract of grass white with snowdrops that had budded and blossomed
in the last few days. Pointed leaves with the white line one knows so
well had first pricked the ground; then the weak, soft flower had
followed, led upwards from the buried bulb by the instinct it must obey,
for no purpose--who knows?--but to remind a stupid person or two like me
that there were other things in the world besides him. And I swear to
you that as I looked I blushed with shame. To-morrow I shall go and look
at them again, for I am afraid the memory is no longer medicinal.

Depend upon it, there is nothing so morbid as to encourage in one’s self
‘questionings.’ Any average ordinary person who walks down a London
street, and for five minutes devotes himself to the problem as to what
is the meaning of all these swarming people, what do they make of their
lives, what is the ultimate outcome--it is easy enough to find words,
but quite unnecessary--will reduce himself to a state of maudlin
incompetence in a week’s time. It is emphatically not one’s business to
be cheaply vague in this manner, and the man who helps a stumbler--be he
drunk or sober--across a street, or rings a bell for a small child who
cannot reach it, has done his duty and his part in the world’s work far
better that day than any philosopher who thinks a great deal and does
nothing. Indeed, I doubt not that a man who makes a friend smile at some
idiotic remark has better earned his daily bread than the man who has
given rise to profound thought, if thought is only to end in thought.
‘The world is made by the poet for the dreamer’ was said by someone--I
forget who. He might just as well have said, ‘The world is made by the
butcher for the baker.’

It is a very false estimate we should get of the world if we only looked
at other people from our own standpoint. It is useless, for instance, to
imagine one’s self in the position of a newsboy from whom I usually buy
an evening paper at the corner just outside. He is frightfully ragged.
Why his coat, for instance, holds together at all is beyond my
comprehension, and his boots are in a similar state of disintegration.
Certainly, if it was my lot to stand at that corner earning a penny only
out of every twelve papers I sold, and for the sake of earning my bread
at all being compelled to stand there for hours in frost, rain or fog,
I should quite assuredly be most unhappy. Yet nothing is falser than to
imagine that he is unhappy; he has, on the contrary, a ‘frolic welcome’
for everything that comes along, and evidently circumstances which would
depress what we may call the comfortable classes have no effect whatever
on his spirits. On the other hand, there are things which happen to you
and me every day, which we bear without undue complaints, that would be
almost insufferable to him. He would certainly revolt at a bath in the
morning; and though he would very likely be pleased at the breakfast
that followed it, I feel by no means certain that he would not sooner
sit on a coal-sack and chaff the nearest policeman, as he does, with his
mouth bulging with large crusts. Again, I doubt whether ‘the bloke,’
which is the name by which he is known in the neighbourhood of his
stand, could live through the sort of morning we live through. He would
consider it so unbearably dull to have to sit in a room for hour after
hour, while London and the humming streets roared outside, and read a
book--or, worse, write one. For supposing we endue him for a moment
with that sort of veneer of the mind which we call culture, literary
taste, artistic taste, or what not, a thing which he does not probably
possess at present, even then, should we set him down at ‘Romeo and
Juliet,’ let us say, what will be his verdict? Why, that he can see the
thing itself every evening, and, perhaps, has acted it, too, poor little
devil! and why should he spend his time in reading a pale moonlight
translation when the original jostles him? Here at this point, of
course, the _literati_ will hold up hands of horror. Do I mean to say,
they will ask, that the immortal tragedy I have referred to is to be
brought into comparison, even for a jest, with the idylls of the street
corner, with the walking out of a man with a maid, a marriage in the
registry office, or, perhaps, the omission of that ceremony? Yes, if
they will think, I mean all that. For why, if we consider the question
more closely, does the tragedy of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ strike us, and
rightly, as a masterpiece? and why does the sordid account of ‘murder
and suicide’ in the daily press strike us as a page to be turned over
with a ‘poor thing!’ shudder, if we are people of discernment, but if
we are only refined to be passed over in utter unconsciousness? It is
because Shakespeare showed us the terror and the tragedy of one, and we
have not the genius to see the terror and the tragedy of the other. Had
not Shakespeare been a man of human insight, he could never have written
his plays; but if we could see, we should find in life what he found.
That he gave it in the form of drama to the world is another matter.
That was because Nature--or I prefer to say God--gave a man of this
humanity this power of speech as well as the sense of drama. Hundreds, I
soberly believe, felt as keenly as Shakespeare felt, but are, so to
speak, born dumb; hundreds could write as Shakespeare wrote, could they
but feel. It is this conjunction of the two, rare as the transit of
Venus, that makes the supreme artist.

To return to ‘the bloke.’ All morning we have given him a translation
instead of the original, and the morning over we give him lunch. He will
eat largely, because for all the years he has lived it has been his
instinct to eat all there was to eat, for fear that there would soon be
nothing to eat when he wanted to eat. He will drink in immoderation for
the same reason, and grow somnolent. But he is plucked from his slumber
to call on someone who bores him, to be polite when he does not want to
be polite, and he will return to ‘dress’ in a collar that hurts him, and
to eat a dinner which he does not want. That evening he will be sick,
and three days later have a bilious attack.

But turn from this gloomy picture to the reality. ‘The bloke,’ as I saw
him this evening, had a huge crust stuffed into one cheek; in the other
corner of his mouth was a cigarette. There was news about a test match
in Australia, and papers were going like hot cakes. His pockets were not
to be trusted, and that mouth of his had eight coppers on one side, and
the crust, not yet masticated, on the other. But did ‘the bloke’ think
about verdigris-poisoning and other inanities? Not a bit. If there was a
moment to spare, wet pennies were ejected and stowed in a pocket
somewhere at the back of his trousers. If there was no moment to spare,
he merely cursed and prayed for a sixpence which got rid of five wet
pennies. All the time he was shouting ‘Re-markable Collapse!’ chaffing
the policeman at the corner, shouting hoarse profanities to the drivers
of passing buses, and ogling miles of girls of his acquaintance.

Now consider, oh my cultured friend, where would you and I have been in
such a crisis, which, you must remember, was a feast and a high-day to
‘the bloke.’ We should have retired behind a hoarding to eat our crust,
and sat still--God help us--for several minutes in order to digest it.
Then we should have lost the cream of the sale. Then, coyly re-entering
Oxford Street, we should have murmured quaveringly, ‘A Bad Score on the
Colonial Side’; we should have put our pennies in the untrustworthy
pocket, whence they would have slithered coldly down our legs on to the
pavement. Grasping the inadequacy of this, we should have held them in
our other hand, and impeded the swift passage of the papers. We should
have cast apprehensive glances at the policeman for fear he should tell
us to move on--he tells ‘the bloke’ to move on, and ‘the bloke’ says
‘Garn!’--we should have frowned at bus-drivers who nearly ran over us,
and made a feint of taking their numbers. We should have made a quantity
of depressing reflections about the young women in London, so bold and
bad-mannered, and as an upshot we should have sold, with infinite
depression, one-fifth of what ‘the bloke’ sells with a gusto
indescribable. And what is, perhaps, worst of all, we should have prayed
that evening, if we were not too sleepy, for all the starving, homeless
creatures of the street. ‘The bloke’ does not pray--but if he did, he
would say, with Browning, ‘God’s in His heaven; all’s right with the
world.’

Exit ‘the bloke.’

P.S. No, not exit just then. Yesterday only, I was coming round the
corner from Davies Street, and caught sight of ‘the bloke’ dancing
excitedly in mid-street, with his sheaf of papers, shouting the verdict
of the Tonbridge murder. Next moment he had been knocked down by an
omnibus and the wheel had gone over him. With many others I ran out into
the roadway, and it so happened I was there first.

I picked ‘the bloke’ up and carried him to the pavement. His head bent
inwards from my elbow to my chest, and two wet pennies fell into the
crook of my arm from his mouth. His sheaf of papers had fallen from him
and still lay in the road. Before we reached the pavement he looked up
and saw me.

‘I’m damned dirty, sir,’ he said; ‘take care of your noo coat. That
bloody bus---- Gawd--I’ll talk to Jim--running over me like that.’

There was an ambulance near at hand, and I delivered up ‘the bloke.’
Someone had picked up his papers from the roadway and put them by the
side of the thin little body, and the pennies which he had dropped out
of his mouth I put there too.

Next day I went to the hospital where he had been taken. But ‘the bloke’
will not stand at his corner any more.

Sad? Heaven help us all if we are going to be sad, because we are (quite
assuredly) going to die; the sooner we die and get it over, the better.
Anticipating sadness is an absolute drug in the market, and is it not
better to be glad because at the present moment we happen to be alive,
and not sad because at some future moment we are going to die? How long
would the world go on if we all sat and sighed because we were going to
die?

       *       *       *       *       *

Yes, decidedly spring has come, and it amazes me to look back on what I
wrote only a week ago, and find myself so blinded by that moment of
languor which announced it, as not to have foreseen what should so
shortly follow. Yet if that obsession of languor had not been so
complete, I suppose this effervescence of spring would not have run riot
in me as it did, and it is with infinite misgivings that I attempt to
put into words any of that bubbling thrill, that ecstasy in the
sensation of mere living, which is felt, I believe, in every growing
thing, down to the humblest blade of grass which is trodden underfoot,
even as the varnish of springtime is on it--at that divinest of all
moments in the year, when in man and brute and as yet leafless tree the
sap once more stirs.

This year it came upon me in spate; that great flood of renewed
vitality which follows round the earth from continent to continent as
the spring returns suddenly lifted me off my feet, dictating what I did
as imperatively as an electric current dictates the involuntary
twitching of the muscles it passes through. And on this wise.

I was out of town for two days last week, staying in Sussex at a house
on the high downland near Ashdown Forest. As I drove from the station, I
was aware that some huge and subtle change was in the air, but put it
down only to the contrast of country breezes with the density of London.
The briskness of winter was altogether gone, but in its place was the
smell of earth and growing things, very fragrant and curiously strong;
for rain, which brings out all scent into the air, be it good or bad,
had fallen heavily that afternoon, drawing out, as I have said, the
smell of growth, and leaving behind it, just as a water-cart does in
streets, the smell of dust laid, or, rather, the smell which air has
when there is no longer any dust in it. Also the vividness of colour
surprised me; and in the yet leafless trees there was a certain vigorous
look, which I had missed all winter, a crispness of outline, a look of
tension as in an instantaneous photograph of a man about to leap. A
thrush bubbled suddenly in a bush by the roadside, and, fool that I was,
I did not know what was happening. I thought it was only a thrush
singing. But had I known, it was spring.

That night after dinner, instead of sitting down to bridge or some gray
pursuit glorified by the title of game, eight sober and mature people
did the silliest things. We played blindman’s-buff; we cock-fought on
the hearth-rug; we fell heavily to the ground in attempting to take out
with our teeth pins placed in inaccessible positions on the legs of
chairs: nobody cared what anybody else was doing; everyone talked
simultaneously and laughed causelessly. Eventually we dispersed to our
rooms flushed and hot.

My window had been shut, and a blind drawn down: here were the first
things to be remedied; up went the screaming blind, up went the window,
and the huge, exultant night poured in. That was better, but still bad,
and I tore off my clothes, leaving them on the floor, and as my mother
bore me, and as I shall go back to the great mother of all, leaned out
into the night, full of the excitement which at last I understood. It
was night--night, the time when even a stockbroker (who had made £290 on
the Stock Exchange) reverts in some degree to the beast from which he
has been evolved, when, unless one is fuddled with wine, or stupefied
with food, or addled and rotten with sensual thought, one occasionally
wins back to the old primeval prowling, excited joy of being alive, to
the bliss which childhood knows in nightfall, robbed of its terrors.
There it was, waiting for me, and I, as far as might be, ready for it,
free from all desire, carnal, mental, or spiritual, but caught and
burning in the flame of mere life. Huge and soft the night beckoned;
humped gray shapes of bushes were blots on the lawn outside, above them
rose the still gaunt shapes of trees, but hissing like a gas-jet with
the pressure from within. Rain-clouds obscured the sky, the cold
infinite stars were shut out, and only by the fact that it was not very
dark did I know that the moon was somewhere risen, though invisible.
That was as I would have it: for the time I was just a Live Thing,
conscious of life. I wanted no distant stars to remind me how small I
was, or how immense was heaven--for the time I desired only the kind
warm earth--no moon to evoke, as she always does, the need of
companionship. I was about on this earth, which, like I, was bursting
with the promise of spring. Mating-time was not yet; not yet was the
time of fresh leaves, or any outward sign of vitality. The vitality was
within, everything had drawn a long breath, and the long breath hung
suspended for the moment. Soon in a shower of starlike blossoms, in a
mist of green hung round the trees, in the complete song of birds, in
achievement or effort on my part, the tension would break. It was the
physical moment when completion is assured, and the pause comes,
delicious because all, all has been leading up to this, and one is
content, if it is possible to be content, because fruition is sure.
Exquisite pangs have gone before, the pangs of anticipation. Exquisite
pangs of completion will follow, but nothing can ever approach the
completeness of the assured moment.

Night and its veiled darkness, a soft rain falling and hissing among the
shrubs, the sleeping house--unless, indeed, there might be other
watchers like myself unclothed beside an open window--utter loneliness,
and the thrill of life. But it was not enough to stand there; I had to
mix with the night, I had to do my utmost to take it, the dripping
shrubs, the falling rain, the whole growing, quickening earth, nearer to
me. It was not enough to look at it. So for convention’s sake I pulled
on trousers again, buttoned a coat over me, and, hatless and barefooted,
opened my window further--a ground-floor window--and stepped out into
the night. What I wanted I did not know: it was certain, at any rate, I
did not want anybody else to be there; yes, I know, I wanted only to be
part of the growing sap-stirred world. No thought of either spiritual or
carnal aspiration did I feel; no gratitude to God, who made this
ecstatic machine called me, entered into my mind, no thought of love or
lust or desire. The gray curtain of cloud was the blanket under which,
like a child, I buried my head; I was too far gone, you will understand,
to ‘talk French’; simply, I was possessed by the joy of life, that life
which moved my muscles, making them tense and slack in turn as I walked,
that held a long breath in my lungs and blew it out again, that made the
soft rain drip from the clouds, that made the earth drink it in
instinctively, that made the shrubs whisper to its falling and give out
the odours of dampness and growth. Step by step, as I went over the
lawn, with my feet already dripping and my hair growing matted with the
benediction of the falling rain, this impulse grew and grew. Before I
knew it, from walking I had passed to running, before I knew it my coat
was lying somewhere on the grass, and the rain fell thick and cool on my
back and shoulders. Dim shapes of shrubs fled by me; then in front there
sprang out of the dark the lines of a wooden fence bounding the lawn.
This was taken in the stride almost, and the longer, coarser fibre of
the meadow grass wrapped itself round my feet. Then a sandpan--a bunker
guarding the eighteenth green of the golf-links--showed yellow in front,
and next moment a flag waved to my right. Thereafter coarser grass
again, and a hundred yards beyond, the streamlet, where I have delved
patiently with a niblick. Beyond, another fence, and in the field--out
of bounds--large dark shapes of cows lying down. One underneath the
shadow of a tree I stumbled against, leaving a snort and a stir behind,
and I remember laughing at that. Then in due time a certain failure of
wind, and a halt underneath a thin, young beech-tree with smooth,
rounded stem. Next moment the trunk was between my knees, and between my
arms strongly wound round it, my cheek against the bark, and, panting, I
clung to it. It, too, was alive, and strong and hard, and with that,
turning my head, I remember biting the bark, till strips of it came off
and my lips bled. Then a bed of old brown bracken, and with my fingers I
dug in the earth till I felt the buds of springing stems an inch below
the ground.

There I lay, a minute it may have been, or ten years, and the climax, I
must suppose, was reached. There was no more possible to me, the riddle
was unsolved, and for the moment I knew it to be insoluble: not because
it was a silly riddle, but because it was no riddle at all, but the
mystery of all mysteries--Life. As far as I personally could, I had done
my best to answer it, not by thought, which is futile, but by being of
the earth, by making myself one with growing things at the moment of
spring-time, and this not, I do assure you, consciously, but because I
had to. The current that ran through everything else ran through me
also. I was a savage, an animal, what you will.

The greatest moment was over; again I was conscious of one slack arm
hanging by my side, and one braced at the elbow to support my weight as
I sat up. I knew that my feet were wet, that my hair had to be brushed
from my eyes, that rain-drops fell from my eyebrows on to my face, that
a torn, distracted, mud-covered blackness represented dress-trousers,
that my coat was lying somewhere on the lawn, and that my bedroom window
was an invitation to robbers. So I rose and walked back, slowly, and
designedly slowly, in order to enjoy what I had not known. I had enjoyed
before, but had simply taken. The cool rain was exquisite to the skin,
so, too, the cool grass to the feet; the night above and around was
huge and solemn and ennobling. Thus the moral consciousness, I must
suppose, awoke. I was filled with edifying thoughts. They would be dull
if recorded; they were dull even then, for the memory of the savage
moments was still hot as a dream.

Well, what then? There is no ‘what then.’ That wild running through the
dark is flesh and blood of me. Perhaps you have no taste for
cannibalism. That is a very comfortable defect.

The next twenty-four hours were, it is true, full of spring, but to me,
licking the chops of my climax, they were jejune. My coat I picked up on
the lawn; I entered through my window--no robber _could_ have come in
that sacred hour--gazed on the wreck of dress-trousers, and went to bed,
and to sleep instantly and dreamlessly, awaking to a great bold sunlight
that streamed in through the windows when my valet drew up the blinds.
With him I held a shamefaced colloquy, as he gathered my dress-clothes.

‘I’m afraid they’re rather muddy,’ said I, stifling my face beneath the
sheet.

‘Yessir.’

‘Do they happen to be torn?’

A short pause.

‘Yessir--torn in five places.’

‘Well, see what can be done. Have I any more?’

‘No, sir. Cold or hot bath, sir?’

Bath! That was a sitting in a tin pan and lifting teaspoonfuls of water
on to one’s spine; acrobatic performances to get wet, towel, huddling on
of clothes.

‘Oh, cold! Bring it in half an hour.’

For half an hour I half dozed, half thought of the performance of the
night. I carefully considered the question as to whether I had gone mad,
and decided--rightly, I believe--that I had not, though other people
would say so.

Then after breakfast we went to play golf. Yes, I was right; the
anticipation, the unfulfilled certainty was over; already small buds
were red on the limes, and yellow on the elm. Spring had come, and we
all talked about its delights. But none knew of mine.

Eventually the eighteenth hole was reached, after a game that I should
normally consider exciting, since my adversary and I were all square at
the seventeenth. But this morning it struck me as colourless. Here,
however, his second shot--full with the cleek--was short, and he went
into the sandpan guarding the green, across which I had jumped in my
outward journey, and walked through on my return. I stopped on the edge
of the bunker, for I had warned him he could not be up, having myself
played a full shot landing just over it. Upon which this accursed man
took his niblick, and amid a shower of sand lay nearly dead.

‘Curious,’ says he.

Meantime I had been examining the sand, and saw there the trace of a
bare foot.

‘There’s something much more curious than any shot of yours close by
you,’ said I. ‘Look; do you see the trace of a naked foot close by you
on the sand?’

He looked.

‘By God,’ he said, ‘let me putt first.’

He missed it. So I had two for the hole and won.



MARCH


I wonder if any of those who perchance read this know of any formula,
Christian, pagan, even Christian Scientist, which insures, or has any
chance of insuring, decent habit of body or mind during an attack of
lumbago. I have been trying my best in all three; that is to say, as a
Christian I have tried to be cheerful, to wear a helpful sort of smile,
and have said to myself, ‘Think of the early Christian martyrs, the
boiling oil, and the lions, and those horrors.’ But myself has said to
me, ‘That was for a good cause; besides, they soon died.’ Now, lumbago
does not kill anybody, and, as far as I am aware, it is an invention of
the devil. Thus Christianity failed to help me.

Then I tried paganism. In other words, I swore. It did not do the
slightest good.

Then I tried Christian Science. I said: ‘There is no such thing as
pain--ow!---- Moral mind refuses to recognise the existence of mortal
mind. There is nothing material; all material is mortal mind, and there
isn’t any. Therefore I have no back, and consequently no small of it. It
is all a false claim. Thus, as there isn’t any, it is perfectly
ridiculous to think I have a shooting pain there, for there is no such
thing as either (i.) the small of my back, (ii.) pain, either there or
anywhere else. I will therefore smile, and get up with a firm, brisk
movement.’ I did.

Oh, Mrs. Eddy! The false claim was more than usually clamant.

In fact, for two days I have felt myself such a martyr that I am now,
happily, beginning to feel that I cannot possibly be a martyr at all.
Nobody can conceivably have suffered such agonies as I have been
thinking I suffered and survived. All the same----

I was riding down Davies Street on my bicycle two mornings ago, in the
very best of health and spirits. Where Grosvenor Street crosses it, a
fool of a cabman (though I had rung my bell) drove slowly across my
path, and I had to dismount. I exchanged a pleasantry or two with him of
a bitingly high-spirited nature, and essayed to get on again. At that
moment, so it seemed, I was stabbed in the back, and I heard the cabman
say, ‘Comin’ over me like that, and drunk at this hour of the
morning’--continuing, you will have seen, our previous conversation.
Bad, untrue, unkind as it was, it was the last word, and so is entitled
to a certain respect. But next time I see No. 24,304 I will see if I
cannot give him lumbago. (This, evidently, is the pagan mood returning.)

Since that moment the joy of life has vanished. It--I cannot write the
word again, and I will only remark that it sounds like a second-rate
Spanish watering-place--has known my down-sitting and mine uprising, and
has smirched my days. I have eaten no meat, I have drunk no wine, I have
been incapable of taking part in all social and pleasant affairs. I was
told that exercise was good, and went to skate at Niagara, and retired
after one stroke with a cold-dewed brow. I was told a Turkish bath was
good, and caught a cold in the head on the top of it. I was told not to
think about it--this was the Christian Science treatment, more or
less--and the effect was that the Spanish watering-place thought the
more of me. Only two hours ago, dressing for dinner--I dined alone in my
horrid room--I dropped a sovereign on the floor, seriously considered
whether it was worth picking up, and decided it was not. At that moment
any tramp could have had it. Then by pure chance my servant came in, and
I regained it. I was told to take Lithia Varalettes: the only effect, as
far as I am aware, is that I am lowered for life. I even went so far as
to see a doctor, who asked me whether I had done anything which might
have produced a chill. Thank goodness, I had the face to say ‘No.’ In
consequence he talked of the functions of certain internal organs; into
these regions I did not attempt to follow him.

Now, all that I have written with regard to the second-rate Spanish
watering-place is literally true. All the things which I am conscious of
enjoying every day, such as reading, food, silly conversation, proper
wine, violent physical exertion, cold baths, grew pale or impossible.
But looking back even from the middle of it all--for to-night it is, if
anything, a little more acute--I begin to see that nothing on the whole
matters less than physical pain. Once before in my life, when I was
eight years old, I had bad earache, so my family assure me. Of that I
can remember nothing whatever, except that in consequence I went to stay
near Dartmouth for change of air. But of Dartmouth I remember much.
There was an aloe in the garden, and one of its great fibrous leaves
projected across the path, and was cut off. This had to be done by a
strong gardener with a saw. A leaf cut by a saw! There were also rock
pools in the estuary, with strawberry anemones--so we called
them--waving in the water; steamers passed, visible through a telescope,
that would go straight on, self-contained, unhelped till they reached
America. _Ruta-muraria_, a small mean fern (I cannot even remember
hearing its name except then), grew in crevices in the garden wall; it
was rare, and began and ended my collection of ferns. That is what
remains to me of the earache. Once again I had a tooth out. That was
half a crown.

And now I have lumbago, and from analogy I see that a fortnight hence,
and a week hence (I hope), and a year hence, I shall remember nothing of
it, except that for a few days I stopped indoors mostly, wrote notes of
regret, and read a variety of delightful books. ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ I have
read; I have quaked with Hyde, and shuddered with Jekyll: I have been
down the Sambre canalized; I have been sucked under the fallen tree on
the Oise; I have understood why Mr. Crummles deluded himself into
thinking the Phenomenon was a phenomenon; I have admired the moral
valour of Mrs. Nickleby when she convinced herself about the previous
sanity of the gentleman in small-clothes and gray stockings; I have
killed the Red Dhole from the Deccan, and have sat (a remarkable feat)
with Princess Napraxine in a temperature of over 130° Fahrenheit. But
for the lumbago, I should probably have done none of these delightful
things. Also I have learned (I shall have to learn it again and again)
that the moment is always tolerable. Even this tiny pin-prick of a pain
can teach one that. ‘Circumscribe the moment’ as Marcus Aurelius said.
You can get along all right for the moment (unless you die, and then
the trouble is solved): why think of the moments to come? When they
come, deal with them. And I hope that if I ever suffer from
carcinomato-cerebrospinal sciatica, I may think of that.

Besides--I must justify my conscience with respect to the doctor--I do
not think it proved that my night adventure had anything to do with the
lumbago. Thus, it would have been unfair to cast it, like bread on the
waters, to a suspicious physician. And even if it had, it was well worth
it. I would do it again to-morrow night, if the mood only could come
again.

I wonder how the writing and the subsequent publication of any book, the
meanest, affects the average author? No doubt the great powers in
authorship, so to speak, care as little when another volume is launched
as does the Empire at large when another battleship leaves the slips to
join its mighty brothers. But for the majority--those of us, in fact,
who hope some day (however vainglorious the hope, we all cling to it) to
produce a book which may rouse laughter or tears or interest twenty
years hence--I imagine that there is scarcely any excitement,
depression, exaltation or misgiving that we have ever felt which is
comparable to those attendant on the writing and launching of our little
paper fleets. And as I have just launched another little paper boat to
go and look after its drowned brothers, and the memory of all the
emotions attendant on it is consequently keen, it may be of interest, in
however small a degree, to others to read what even so uneminent an
author as myself experiences in these times.

Birds, perhaps, give one the only simile possible for the first period.
For the idea of the book, its scope, its aim, its plot, and, to a
certain degree, its characters, all exist, in my case, before I put a
word down on paper. When these are complete, we may say that the egg is
there. The writing it, to my mind, is equivalent to the hatching only;
but the definite production of the egg--of that which contains potential
vitality--is over and complete at the moment the writing begins. If
there is no potential vitality in it then, there never will be. When I
begin to write, I am sitting on my egg.

Now, this first period--here we dismiss the simile of the egg, and take
that of disease--lasts for a very ill-defined period. During it the
patient is continually conscious of an abnormality of condition. His
spirits are very variable: sometimes for days together the appetite will
be good (mine always is), and the only symptom of the malady is a
slightly increased vividness. Speech is coherent, but rather more fluent
than usual; he tends to talk nonsense (this must not be confused with
the subsequent wandering). Then, without apparent cause, stages of
depression, irritability, and general peevishness ensue: he will decry
his favourite pursuits, particularly authorship, and express audibly a
desire for a large and settled income in Consols. Shortly before the
crisis approaches (_i.e._, the first dip of the pen in ink) a period of
febrile excitement ensues; he will put sudden problems to his nurses as
to how A would act given B, C, and D did so-and-so, and, whatever the
answers given him, he will certainly take exception to them. This is the
period of wandering alluded to above. Both the period of excitement
previous to this and the period of depression are marked by a certain
listlessness with regard to other pursuits; the patient takes nothing,
except his malady, quite seriously, and though he performs the ordinary
routine of life with correctness, he performs it somehow subaqueously.
Indeed, he is never quite himself from the time the seeds of the malady
first attack him.

All these symptoms are temporarily ameliorated when, to go back to our
first simile, the egg is laid. For a time the nurses are encouraged to
hope that the worst is over. Large quantities of what is known as
‘sermon-paper’ should be given without stint, and special care taken
that there should be in every room, where the patient can possibly
desire to sit, plenty of black ink and suitable pens. For a day or two
he may refuse to go out altogether, or play any game, and here it is a
mistake on the part of the nurses to urge him to do so. He may, in fact,
be entirely left to himself. Probably these favourable symptoms will
last for a week or two (during which the supply of sermon-paper should
be renewed), and then a change for the worse comes over the patient.
The irritability returns, and with it an attack, more or less severe, of
complete idleness and indescribable misgivings. He again expresses a
wish for a settled income in Consols, and often goes suddenly to stay
with his friends, or, if the disease is not so acute, merely lunches and
dines out every day, and seems to fear being left alone. Then the malady
becomes spasmodic, the periods of inaction alternate with periods of
feverish industry, to which succeeds an attack of apparent coma with
regard to everything except the disease itself, which is now confluent
and completely encompasses him. A series of absolutely happy days ensue,
accompanied by great mental activity and enormous consumption of
sermon-paper. As soon as this definitely sets in, the nurses may make
themselves quite happy for the time being. All fears of suicide may be
considered over, and there is no allusion to Consols. And thus the egg
is hatched in a blaze of hypertrophied glory.

It is hatched. That is to say, the MS.--such as it is--is complete, and
personally one is completely happy for about a week. Then ensues a very
tedious period, which is at times brightened by finding that something
is better than one thought, but oftener darkened by finding that
something is worse than one thought. In other words, after a week of
idleness, I sit laboriously down, and copy out the whole thing from
beginning to end. Other patients at this point, I believe, use a
typewriter, but personally, on the one occasion when I did so, I found
that the corrections were not compassable even in triple-spaced type. So
now, when the first MS. is complete, I begin from the beginning, and
write the whole story out again. Chapters are often excised, and
chapters (more rarely) inserted, since in my first MS. I find that I
much more commonly say too much than too little. (Here is an opening for
critics to point out how extraordinarily superfluous the first MS. must
have been.) This period is the tiresome part of the hatching of the egg.
The writing of the first MS., astounding though it may appear, was
attended by a certain excitement: whereas the writing of the second is
due to the desire, shall we call it? to catch one’s self tripping, to
detect, by the painful process of copying, one, perhaps, of the hundred
absurdities that one has committed. Yet there is a certain delight even
in this, for since one would not set pen to paper at all unless one
thought that one had an idea of some kind, it is mildly pleasant even
now, when the first excitement is over, to see in cool blood what the
idea was, to emphasize what appear to be its decent points, to suppress
its bad ones. After that the second MS. goes to the typewriter, and
peace again reigns.

Now, during the first writing of the MS. a curious thing has more than
once happened to me; that is to say, a character, or a situation, or
even the story itself, takes the bit between its teeth, and, as far as I
know, bolts. One had meant to do and to say something different, but
whether it is that even in the meanest-imagined character one, so to
speak, raises the devil, and cannot be held responsible for his
subsequent action, or whatever the cause, this phenomenon occurs. In the
terms of our first simile, this is the cuckoo’s egg in the
hedge-sparrow’s nest. One sits on the thing--writes it, that is--but it
is not going to be a hedge-sparrow at all, but something quite
different. This has happened to me more than once, in ---- and ---- (my
egotism does not go quite so far as to write the names of these obscure
tales), I had definitely meant to give a different outcome. I had meant
a character to be different in character, and thus to play another part.
But writing I found it was not so. That character would go another way.
And did. I followed faint but pursuing.

To resume. The MS. comes back from the typewriter’s, and the sickening
part of the work begins. In print, somehow, the degrading stuff looks
even more degraded; for print, as Hazlitt said, in more senses than one,
had he known it, ‘print settles it.’ What one suspected was rather
sketchy and amateur becomes indubitably so. What one thought was
somewhat workmanlike appears merely slip-shod carpentering, unplaned,
out of line, with screws and nails not driven home. One taps here, one
whacks there; one planes down, and finds one has planed too much; one
planes down, and finds one has to plane more. One thinks--and this is,
perhaps, the worst of all--that A rather resembles one’s dear friend,
John Smith, and ruthlessly takes all the stuff out of him, leaving an
enfeebled marionette. Then, like a pin-prick to a man on fire, come the
inevitable typewriter’s errors, necessitating reference to the MS. Some
typewriters omit whole sentences, because they are not certain (no
wonder); others rush in where angels fear to tread, with brilliant
repartees of a sort undreamed of; others spell a name wrong throughout;
others--and they are worse--spell it wrong occasionally. When I have
time I will write an article on typewriters. They will not, after that,
hold their heads so high.

Then comes the last step. When the typoscript (an awful word) has been
corrected, and if necessary another made, and also corrected, the whole
thing goes to the publisher, and in course of time come proofs. Proofs
are of two kinds--galley proofs and page proofs. Galley proofs are
interminable strips of paper which slide off one’s desk, get mixed, and
are altogether impossible. Page proofs, though depressing, are
manageable, because they come in folded sheets of sixteen pages. Then
once again are all weak points glaringly emphasized, the indescribable
misgivings return with redoubled vigour, and invariably I long to live
the last year, or whatever it may be, over again, in order to have
profited by my previous experience and do better. Usually at this
stage--perhaps because I am used to it--the ‘idea’ does not seem to me
so bad. It is only everything else that is wrong. Yet even then come
sanguine moments. Quite suddenly I find myself thinking it is extremely
good. How delicate, for instance, is the way in which Y behaves, how
subtle and correct is Z’s induction. Back swings the pendulum: over go
these unstable ninepins.

There is probably a revise--there may be two--and the bread is cast upon
the waters. As the date for publication approaches I feel ill. If I
could, I would recall it all. One has felt a certain situation, or a
certain character, keenly; was it not enough to have felt it, without
throwing it, like early Christians, to the public? They will tear it
into shreds, and probably refuse to swallow it.

But just then--when, in my experience, the darkest hour is on one, when
one distrusts utterly all one has done, when one is afraid that that
which is to one’s self a chiefest joy of life is to everyone else just a
mud-pie made by a child in a populous roadway, to be carefully stepped
over by three-quarters of the passers-by, to be stepped into by the
remaining quarter, who, with a careless cuff to the maker of it, will
pass on, remembering it only as they would remember some tiny
untowardness in the menu at dinner--then comes quite suddenly the
remembrance of an exceeding unexpected joy. A man or a woman, otherwise
quite unknown to one, has on the last occasion of this kind thought it
worth while to send a line, it may be a postcard only, to say ‘thank
you.’ Once this ‘thank you’ arrived to me from New Zealand, and was
accompanied by two frozen sheep bred on the reader’s farm. The letter
said, ‘Please do not answer this, or you will think I am wanting an
autograph.’ Or, again, it may be just a press-cutting from a provincial
paper, that shows me that someone whom I have never seen, and probably
will never see, has understood something of what made me so happy when I
thought of it. And that--unreasonably, perhaps--more than
counterbalances the vituperation or the scorn of those who either do not
or will not see. For a friend concerns me very much: an enemy, or, if
that is too big a word, an acquaintance to whom I am antipathetic,
concerns me not at all. He is a negative quantity, and in this life of
ours the negative quantities do not matter, for the man who has one
friend is infinitely better off than the man who has no enemies and a
million acquaintances.

Acquaintances! They are the bane and the absurdity of life, and
especially of ordinary London life. How often has one heard it said,
and, indeed, said one’s self, ‘Such a bore! I’ve got to go and call on
So-and-so.’ For if one finds it a burden to go and talk to anybody, for
social reasons, it shows a very unbecoming conceit if one imagines that
one’s hostess will fail to find it a bore too. The custom, for instance,
of calling after one has dined at a house is a very sensible and
pleasant one, but it presumes that you have been dining with a friend.
In this case the call will not bore you. But if the call bores you, it
is probable that the dinner bored you too, in which case, unless you
dined there for the sake of being fed gratis, why did you dine there at
all? Again, a step further, how often have you exclaimed, ‘What a bore!
I’ve got to dine with ---- to-night.’ And if you say that, you have no
business to eat ----’s cutlet.

Of course, there is another side to the question--for questions with
only one side to them have ceased to be questions at all--and that is,
that at any such house you may meet a friend, or you may meet someone
who will eventually become a friend. Then, I grant, it were worth while
trudging there a hundred miles on foot, for from pole to pole, if you
search the earth, you will find nothing better than a friend. How many
have you? I have nine, and consider myself most fortunate. Or, again,
you may find the very fact of meeting a certain number of people, though
they are the barest acquaintances, stimulating, just as there are
certain plants which thrive better with others of their species than
alone. That, again, is a good reason: only when social etiquette demands
a call of you, do not say, ‘What a bore!’ You have received a benefit:
pay the current coin for it and don’t grumble.

Now, this herding together of human beings with wealth and leisure into
London for several months every year--there to meet their friends, of
course, but also a whole host of people who will never, and can never,
be more than acquaintances--is a very curious modern phenomenon.
London--in this sense of the word--was born not so many decades ago, and
since then has grown, and is growing, in a manner perfectly amazing.
There was a time, say eighty years ago, when London in this sense
practically did not exist; the ‘season’ was enjoyed by those who now go
to London in a dozen country towns, to which the rank and fashion of the
country flocked, and there made gay on their native pavements. And, by
all accounts, they _did_ make gay. Then, by degrees, this remarkable
monster of London began growing. People of leisure--or so I take
it--began to weary of that priceless benefit, and in a couple of
generations have turned themselves into perfect galley-slaves in the
barque which they term, some of them mistakenly, ‘Pleasure.’ Means of
travel got easier, quicker, and cheaper; more families every year, who
had no business, either political or of money-making, took to going to
London, where they found twenty theatres instead of one, a million
people to move among instead of a thousand. Intimacies, it is true,
were less common there than in the friendly and less populous streets of
their county town, but, instead, they might in the streets or at the
houses of their acquaintances behold, in _propriâ personâ_, the man or
woman with whose name at the moment the world was ringing; or a new play
claimed their attention and provided an easy subject of
conversation--for conversation, unless they were people of brains, and
many excellent folk are not, began, perhaps, to wear a little thin in
the sixth week of their season at York or Winchester. But it would be
impossible to be in London in the autumn or winter, during the months of
shooting and hunting, and so, by common consent, the London season--a
unique fact--was fixed for the months May, June, and July--a time when
air in town is scarce, and suns are sultry, but a time in the country
when Nature holds high festival, and all who have eyes to see and ears
to hear are equally honoured at her banquet. But--and this could only
happen in the Anglo-Saxon race, and it is symptomatic of the strength,
and possibly, in years to come, of its weakness--Sport said the final
word. Half-fledged pheasants are not shootable, and foxes, that strange
breed, which would have been exterminated long ago were it not for the
ordinance that they shall be killed in one way only, were busy with the
propagation of their species. And thus, though Nature spreads her feast,
but sits alone at her empty board, she still has the last compelling
word on the subject.

In fact, during the last half-dozen decades a new feverish and nervous
disease has spread over England in a terrifying manner. We may call it
Turbamania, or the passion for crowds, and, like the influenza, it
attacks the upper classes more, it would appear, than the lower. No cure
for it has yet been found, and it has not received, as a specific
disease, the attention it deserves. This is curious: for in this
inquisitive age, though it was a disease that only manifested itself in,
let us say, slight redness of the little finger, and was perfectly
harmless, we should probably by this time be possessed of a hospital for
treatment of the cases, and dozens of savants squinting themselves
purblind in the hope of discovering its bacillus. Many daily, and
especially weekly, papers have columns devoted to its symptoms, though
they apparently do not know that they are speaking of it. But whenever I
see that the Marquis of ---- entertained the following distinguished
company to dinner, I recognise Turbamania. For whom (except the
sufferers from this distressing malady) can such an announcement
concern? Not the diners, surely, for they were aware of it before. Nor,
as far as I can see, those who were not asked, for the simple reason
that they were not asked. Or who (except Turbamaniacs) care to hear how
Lady ---- was dressed? She herself, those who saw her, or those who did
not see her? For the life of me I cannot tell. Yet how great must be the
demand for such information, if we consider in what enormous quantities
it is supplied! It must be read and looked for by thousands who do not
know Lady ---- by sight. Her mother, her sister, her daughter perhaps, if
in India, might have gentle emotions raised by the knowledge of how she
was dressed. But who else?

The theme is not worth consideration, except from my own standpoint, my
own private view of it, which at this moment occupies me enormously.
Six months ago I decided to leave London, that most jealous of all
mistresses, who exacts from us not merely our conscious thoughts, but
pervades us in a way that no Cleopatra ever did yet. To anyone who has
not known London the idea is unintelligible; to anyone who has, all
explanations fall short of what he knows.

Think of it! Five million people, awake or asleep, round one--five
million, each of whom is as important to himself as I to me, stealing
about like thoughts in the brain of this busy city, intent, alert, as
are no other five million people in the world. My God! how I love the
sense of it! how each street is to me a room, a passage, in a great
house to which I have but lately succeeded, and is crammed with
treasures, some few of which I know by sight, but of which as yet I do
not know the thousandth part. What are they? Men and women, that is all;
and is that not enough?

What is it? What is it, I vainly ask myself, that stirs me so? Me, who
know unconsciously the drone of the four-wheeler as it passes up this
huge beating artery of life, and, without distraction of thought, can
distinguish it from the quick cloop-cloop of the hansom, and can
recognise the boom of the omnibus, and divine the meaning of a hundred
noises in the street without raising my eyes or losing the thread of
what I am doing. Life, jostling, vulgar, crowded, commonplace (God
forgive me!) life. Oh, how excellent! I do not look at the placards of
the latest news; I look at the seedy man who carries them about like a
plaster on his usually weak chest. How can I convey it all? The wet
asphalt of the roadway, the streaked mud of the roadway, the smell of
the Twopenny Tube, the reek from the restaurant next door, the reprints
of Cosway in the shop-window adjoining, my own door with a circling
lock, which is always upside down to my key. What does it all mean to
the person who does not know what it means? and what can that which I
say mean to the person who does know?

Yet, drunk as I am with crowds (here indeed is Turbamania), I propose
to-morrow to go forth to a house in a sleepy county town, where no one
is ever in a hurry, though many have the impression that they are, and
there are oiled wheels of existence continually gently turning, which,
as far as I know at present, find no particular grist, instead of these
grating, roaring, spinning fly-wheels of the world. There is a hotel bus
there, and no hansoms; no vomiting of crowds from embowelled stations,
no--no anything, as it seems to me this moment, except--and this is in
the main the reason for which I go--there is as much time there as in
London (all the time there is, in fact), and less to do in it. I want,
in fact, to arrive at a greater simplicity of life than seems to me
possible in London, to get into what I believe to be more normal and
healthy conditions, instead of living an existence which, however
delightful and absorbing, is yet slightly feverish. I want to get out of
the habit of thinking of the next delightful thing I am going to do in
the course of the one which I am doing, and so largely missing its
point--not to be in a hurry, not to clutch so much at pleasures.

Also, in spite of my passion for crowds, I have desired all this last
year, with a haunting intensity which I cannot hope to convey, to watch
the bursting of the spring, to see it mix into the great triumph of the
summer, to follow step by step the fruition of the sun, and, to round
the perfect circle, see the accomplished and completed year fall to
sleep again in the arms of winter--the year which, since the beginning
of time, has been waiting among the crowds of the uncounted centuries
for its turn to give to the sons of men sweet and bitter, ecstasy, and
life and death, as God has ordained.



APRIL


I have been here nearly a month without spending a single night
away--that in itself is a sign of improvement, for I suppose (to my
shame I own it) that it must be years since I have slept thirty
consecutive nights in the same bed. And what I believe is a greater sign
of improvement is that I have not wanted to go away, and I do not want
to go away. I like these level, uneventful days: these mornings of work,
followed by a few hours of out-of-doors, and in the evening ‘the face of
a friend,’ in this house or another. How dull I should have thought it,
not long ago; how antipodal to dull I find it!

I said ‘uneventful’ just now--that was a mistake. I have been through
fiery trials, in the shape of a cook, who could not only not cook
decently, but could not cook at all. In any case, she didn’t, and I have
eaten raw flesh on the altar of rusticity. Then there was a personage
who represented herself as a charwoman. Though I cannot say she was a
housebreaker, she was certainly nearer that than anything else; for
though she did not actually break the house, she broke everything inside
it. She began ‘cleaning,’ as she called it, before it was yet day, and
till nightfall the house was resonant with fracture. When there was
nothing left to break, she upset her washpail over anything that came
handy, brocade for choice. She upset, also, permanganate of potash, with
which I was staining a floor, over a green carpet, and one evening I
found her eating asparagus (my asparagus, too!) in the scullery.
Thereupon I said ‘Board-wages,’ and it is my belief that she simply
added board-wages to her ordinary diet, which she ate at my expense.
Otherwise, there is no possible way of accounting for the fact that a
sirloin of beef, which had come in in the morning---- Enough! She is
gone.

Stevenson recommends weeding and cacao-seed planting as a suitable
pursuit for anyone who thinks he can make his living out of writing
‘measly yarns.’ But now I have one advantage over that divine author: I
know a far better employment. It is to paint floors with permanganate
of potash (otherwise known as Condy’s fluid; but you can get much more
of it for your money, though it is cheap anyhow, if you buy it in the
raw). For a shilling you get enough to stain all the floors in your
house (unless you live in an exceptionally large one) the most beautiful
brown. The very process reminds one of the scene of the powder-mixing in
‘Jekyll and Hyde.’ It is laid on dark purple; before your eyes it
changes to a livid angry green, and while yet it is wet it becomes a
dark brown. You lay it on with a large paste-brush, and feel you are
saving money. Incidentally you get a quantity on to your hands, and it
is apparently indelible. Then you rub it with beeswax, and your deal
floor becomes positively ancestral. A few Persian rugs on the top bring
you back from a villa to the gorgeous East.

But even before I stained the floors I bought seeds, and planted
sweet-peas and nasturtiums broadcast, also (these in seedlings)
Jackmanni,[A] and tropæolum and tobacco-plant, and two Crimson Ramblers.
Then, on a day to be marked with red in the annals of scarification, I
took a trowel and a pocket-knife, and went into the highways and hedges
to cut standards for rose-trees. But I took no gloves. _Hinc illæ
lacrimæ._ Anyhow, I cut seven standards. This is the way _not_ to do it.

[A] Purple clematis.

I started cheerfully along an unfrequented lane. Larks hovered trilling:
spring was bursting in numberless buds, and the green mist of leaves
hung round the hedgerows. Before long I saw in the hedge by which I went
a suitable standard. It was rather inaccessible, but the lust of the
gardener burned in me, and I took a sort of header into the hedge. A
shoot from the coveted standard playfully retained my cap, another took
one arm in keeping, a third gently fixed itself to my left hand. That
had to be very carefully disengaged, since the thorns were encompassing
it, and in disengaging it I dropped the trowel. An incautious recovery
of the trowel drew the first blood. Then I began.

It is necessary in cutting a standard to get a piece of real root. This
particular standard, however, seemed to have no particular roots. It
went on and on below ground without object, so far as I could judge;
infirm of purpose, it could not begin. When it did begin, it was
already mixed up with a bramble, the thorns of which were set on the
parent stem on a perfectly different principle, and I did not want the
bramble. But, with a totally undeserved popularity on my part, the
bramble wanted me. It got me--in pieces which I hope were no use to it;
and I began to see that, under certain circumstances and to a certain
extent, as Mr. Gladstone might have said, gloves were, if not necessary
to human life, at any rate a protective agent against possibly fatal
hæmorrhage. Just then the root began.

I destroyed the bramble, root and branch; I destroyed a hazel (branch),
and I destroyed the standard (root). That was all at present.

Clearly this would not do: I was as far from standards as ever, but I
was bleeding like a pig. So I went home, got some gloves, and became
successful. But to be successful in a tale of adventure is to become
dull, and with a view to avoiding this as much as is possible, short of
not writing at all, I will merely say that I cut seven standards on that
divine afternoon, and--but that I can’t sing--went home singing.

The cat next door, so it appeared, had observed the planting of the
Jackmanni with a disapproving eye, and even as I went into the garden
with my seven standards (like a Roman Emperor) I saw a stealthy form
moving slowly away from the corner where I had put one of them. Now, I
know something about cats, though nothing, it appears, about standards,
and, without the least hurry, I walked into the garden and said ‘Poor
puss,’ and saw, out of the corner of my eye (I dared not look honestly
round for fear ‘Poor puss’ should see), that my Jackmanni was entirely
disinterred, and a scurry of freshly-dug earth lay round it. There were
therefore two courses open to me: either the direct, which lay in taking
the cat, which (with the shallow diplomacy of its species) had advanced
towards me, straight to the disinterred Jackmanni and there slapping it,
or the subtle course. I chose the subtle. The cat was a knave--I knew
that perfectly well--I chose to be the knave set to catch it. So I said
‘Poor puss’ again, and went to the uprooted Jackmanni and planted it
again in the sight of ‘Poor puss.’ Then I went slowly indoors, a very
Bismarck. Once arrived inside, I flew to the lumber-room, and with
feverish hands unearthed a large garden squirt, and, filling it with
cold water (I wish it had been iced), flew to what we may call the wing
of the house--it consists merely of a bootroom, which commands,
strategically speaking, the Jackmanni. The window was open, and with
great caution I advanced to it and looked out. Already, once more that
very stupid knave of a cat was busy in the bed. I took careful aim, and
the cold water drenched the knave. I will teach it--at least, I think I
have taught it--that I do _not_ plant Jackmanni merely to give it a few
moments’ senseless amusement. Besides, to-morrow I shall have a
fox-terrier; so the garden squirt was the kindest sort of cruelty.

I am afraid that, in talking thus vaguely of ‘the house’ and ‘the
garden,’ the reader may have formed a totally erroneous impression of
scale, and I must inform him at once that ‘the house’ is the kind of
house which is called The Cedars, because, apparently, it has one
withered furze-bush in the garden. It is semi-detached, stands on the
outskirts of the town, and is of an external appearance which is better
forgotten. Inside, however, the rooms are good, high and airy, and,
anyhow, it suits me. There is a small strip of garden in front, in which
at present I take no interest, and a square of garden behind measuring
some sixty or seventy feet by thirty, encompassed by a wall of old and
very large brick. A strip of border, sown from end to end with
sweet-peas, runs up one side. At the far end is a small raised terrace
of grass, on which grow an apple-tree and a plum-tree, by which I have
planted the Crimson Ramblers. The seven standards, to be budded in June,
stand in a formal row below the terrace, and parallel to the border of
sweet-peas stand half a dozen tubs, in which are sown nasturtiums of the
large climbing kind. This leaves a space of grass, twenty feet by forty,
and on this is being now erected ‘the shelter,’ a wooden room with
trellis on two sides, match-boarding on one, and entirely open on the
other. Felt will be laid down over the grass, and over the felt rugs.
There will be a couple of basket-chairs there, an old French mattress
covered with rugs, a writing-table, and a small dining-table, with four
chairs. There I propose to live as soon as the summer comes. Over one
side the nasturtiums in the tubs will trail their green and ruddy arms,
and I shall look towards the seven standards and the Scarlet Ramblers.
In the evening an Arab lamp with electric light, brought on a long cord
from the house, will illuminate it.

The very planning of ‘the shelter’ was an absorbing joy; absorbing, too,
is it to see it rise, smelling clean of freshly-chiselled wood. Then it
will be painted green, and ready for habitation. In front of it, towards
the terrace, will stand a sundial, which will not get, as far as I can
see, any sun at all, since the stately shelter will entirely shade it.
However, I dare say it will do better in the shade, like lilies of the
valley. Besides, one never uses a sundial in order to tell the time.

I often wonder how large an area of house and garden it is possible to
get really fond of. The fact of broad acres and limitless corridors may
be, and often is, delightful to the possessor, especially if they are of
long-standing possession; but to be fond of a place in the way that I
mean implies to be intimate with every square inch of it. Your own
niche, your own particular _angulus terræ_, must, I think, be small; the
great reception-rooms, the huge lawns, are delightful to have, but you
will often find the owner of such choosing a small room for himself to
work in and live in, and making perfect, according to his own taste,
some sequestered angle of his garden, shut out from vastness, and
brought within the scope of his invention. The great lawns and
shrubberies he may plan and take pleasure in, but he will not be fond of
them with the personal affection he feels for his own room, his own
garden corner. And it is the personal aroma, the definite impress of an
individual taste on rooms and gardens, that makes them alive with their
own individual entity: they are parasitic, like mistletoe, drawing their
life from a parent stem. The large rooms, the rows of marbles, the acres
of signed canvas, are beautiful and wonderful things; but no one man can
appropriate them and fashion them to himself, or himself to them, for
they are too large, and are the setting not for one person, but for the
brilliant crowd. But his own ‘den,’ where he has the books he wants,
the chair he likes, the few pictures he loves, it is there that he is
_chez lui_--at home. That is the good part; to have the other is
enviable, no doubt, but one does not envy it with the sense of need. Of
course, no two people may have the same idea of a _chez lui_; and it is
always with a certain anxiety that one awaits the arrival of a friend
who has not seen one’s own. He may easily not like it at all (as I have
said, the appearance of the house outside is among the things to be
forgotten), and if he does not, it is part of me he does not like. But
it takes all sorts to make a world; if it were not so, the world would
be infinitely less entertaining than it is and infinitely less lovable.

Almost exactly opposite my windows is an old graveyard, the stones in
which are for the most part mossed and gray. A gravel path winds in and
out of the sleeping-places of men long dead, and round it stand a
half-dozen of fine elms. It borders on the road, and is separated from
it by only a low paling. And looking out of my window this morning, I
saw here one of those very simple little common things that give the
lie to cynics. It was a fine sunshiny morning and the road was populous,
and among others there came down it two big, strapping privates out of
the regiment that is stationed here, all trappings and scarlet, while
between them, with a hand in the arm of each, walked a little old lady
dressed in black. Each of the two men carried a cross of white flowers,
and they walked very slowly, hanging on their steps, and suiting their
pace to the woman. All three passed in at the cemetery gate, and went
across the grass to a tomb which lay underneath the elms, and had an old
weatherworn stone to mark it. On it the two soldiers laid down their
crosses, and took off their forage-caps, and all three knelt side by
side for a couple of minutes, it may be, at the foot of the grave, close
by the road. Then they rose, and the old lady kissed her tall sons very
tenderly, and stood with them there a minute more, a hand clasped by
each, while they talked together, I suppose of the dead. Then they
passed out of the cemetery gate again, and, for aught I know, out of my
life. But a little later I went across the road, and to the grave where
the crosses of lilies lay. The stone, as I had seen, was of old
standing, and I read that it was in memory of a man who had died in the
year 1880, on April 17, so that to-day was the twenty-second anniversary
of his death. Two days afterwards I happened to ask the Colonel of that
regiment whether there were two privates of a certain name among the
men.

‘Yes,’ said he, ‘excellent steady fellows; they look after their old
mother, who lives here.’

So the reconstruction was simple enough. The father must have died while
the two sons were still boys of five or six; yet on the anniversary of
his death, so it seems, they still go to the grave with their mother,
quite simply and naturally, and say a prayer there with her. The grass,
too, on the grave itself was, I noticed, kept short and carefully
tended, so I suppose they go there not infrequently. I think the man who
lies there must have been a good husband. God keep all our memories as
green in loving hearts!

Meantime April is here, and it is good to be in England, for in no other
country that I have ever seen is the rush of colour more jubilant.
Flowers you may get in plenty on the Grecian hills when ‘blossom by
blossom the spring begins,’ but nowhere do you get such green as that in
which here April hangs the trees and hedgerows. Star-like the pink
petalled daisies shine in the grass of the water-meadows, and soon the
yellow shower of buttercups will make Danaë of the earth. In lonely
places the daffodils dance together for the joy of their renewed life,
and the warm wind shakes the snow of almond and apple-blossom on to the
thick-bladed turf. Morning by morning fresh spears of living stuff have
pierced the earth, rising upwards in obedience to the great law that
moves all life, to look on the kingdom of the sun; and every day the sap
of growth hums and tingles to the end of twig and tree, bursting forth
through pink-sheathed bud into stars and crescents of leaf and blossom.
On the great downs the grass of last year already shows gray and
withered by the newness of the excellent emerald, soon to be wrought
with tapestries of thyme, where the bee scrambles heavy-legged with the
pollen of its fragrant labour, and the chimes of the harebells, to
which, so the legend of the countryside has it, the fairies dance,
leaving a deeper green where their feet have trod.

Brimful from bank to grassy bank the chalk-streams drawn from the cool
deep brain of the downs hurry steadfastly through the meadows, setting
the reeds quivering and jerking. Here their courses lie over beds of
white chalk and gravel, each pebble shining lucently, jewel-like; here
the water-weeds, growing thickly from bank to bank, are combed and waved
by the passage of the water; here the stream is set on a more
industrious and earnest purpose, as it twirls itself together in the
bricked and narrowed passage that leads to the melodious thunder of a
mill, from which, having accomplished its work without any loss or
fatigue, it emerges in a soda-water of bubble from the dripping sides of
the sluice and the mist of its own outpouring. There in the pool below
lie its great mysterious citizens, the aldermen of the river, for whom
on many days I shall, with my heart in my mouth, cast flies upon the
water. Think, if I should catch the Lord Mayor himself--an eight-pounder
at least, so the miller tells me, who has broken as many lines, it
appears, as there are bubbles in the stream, or heads of racing
thistledown in a windy meadow. And if, as is highly probable, the lord
of the stream defends his own, and will put such slight wisdom into the
heads of his fish that not even the least cautious stripling among them
is lured by me, yet he cannot wean me from that fond hope that this cast
or this will meet its reward, or when evening comes, and the creel is
still unburdened, take away from me the benefit of those waterside
hours, the combing of the water-weeds, the translucency of sun-smitten
ripples, the infinite refreshment of companionship with things that are
quiet and alive. Nor at the end of the day will my machinations against
his citizens debar me from becoming for a moment one of them, and
dividing the frothy waters of his deepest pool.



MAY


May has come in with gleams of sunshine and gusty fits of tears: half
the time that one is out-of-doors, one is being soaked; the other half,
being dried by the sun and the boisterousness of west wind. The heavens,
indeed, are like some wayward woman, scolding and stormy, then suddenly
showing the divinest tenderness. ‘I didn’t mean it,’ say the sun and the
west wind. ‘I only wet you for fun. Oh, don’t go indoors and change; I
will make you quite dry in a minute.’

But for as long as I live, I think, every May that comes round in the
circle of months will be to me, not the May of the year whose course is
now running, but the May of three years ago. So, too, when we come to
June, you will find the June of two years ago. For to me now, and to me
always, as I think, May will mean the things that happened then, and
June will mean the things that happened thirteen months later. I will
tell you that story. It concerns three people only, and two of them are
dead.

Dick Alington and I were very old friends: we had been at school
together, and his father’s house was next to ours in the country, the
woods belonging to each running contiguous, separated only by the park
paling. In consequence, from our frequent passages the one to the other,
a beaten track lay through the woods in a bee-line from house to house,
and the paling at the particular point where the bee-line crossed it,
was, from the frequent scrambling over it, broken and splintered, till
after the lapse of some years it was no more than a stile, that could be
walked over without any scrambling at all, and the path was known as the
‘boys’ path.’ We had remarkably kindred tastes, because we both of us
liked practically everything except parsnips and being indoors, even
down to London fogs, when we used to have games of hide-and-seek in
Berkeley Square--where we also both lived--which for sheer mysterious
excitement beat any pursuit in which I have ever been engaged, either
before or since. The game itself is one of the utmost simplicity. I
stood in the porch of either house while Dick was given ten seconds’
law. He had then, without leaving Berkeley Square, to remain uncaught
for five minutes, while I pursued him blindly in the fog. We were not
allowed to run nor to hide, but only to walk about the square, and we
were properly dressed with tall hats and gloves, so that in case of the
fog clearing rapidly we should appear respectable. Of course, for the
whole of that five minutes we were both utterly lost, and the hider was
usually caught by walking straight into the seeker. Hence the
excitement: the pursued guiltily sneaked aside from every figure that
loomed through the fog, the pursuer eagerly peered at such, to vanish
precipitately again if this was not his quarry, to merely annex it if it
was. At the end of the five minutes, if the pursued was yet uncaught,
both returned--if they could find it--to the house from which they set
out, and pursued and pursuer changed rôles.

I have not, indeed, yet heard of the employment with which we did not
amuse ourselves, and we ranged from birds’ eggs to carpentering, from
chess to squash-rackets, from football to the writing of Tennysonian
lyrics, with equal fervour. We also revived the pentathlon as follows:
Dick won the toss and said ‘Golf,’ and I retorted with ‘Tennis.’ He then
chose the hundred yards and I croquet. The odd event was, of course,
selected by the winner of the toss. Two games were barred, namely,
single wicket at cricket, because we neither could ever get the other
out, and long-jump, because Dick could jump just about twice as far as
I. The whole pentathlon had to be decided on one day, so that staying
powers counted for something.

Then a stormy day would come, too bad for man or beast to be abroad in,
and we had pentathlons of the intellect, playing chess, draughts,
backgammon, the poetry-game, and Halma in feverish succession. Here,
too, games at cards were barred, because of Dick’s strange inability to
grasp the hang of any card-game whatever. He merely fell asleep over
them, so that made it quits in the matter of the long-jump; in fact, the
balance was in my favour, since there is only one long-jump, but there
are many games of cards, and I could have named all the events of which
I had the call from among them.

So from school we passed out into life. Dick went into the army, and I
took up as a profession the work on which I am at this moment engaged.
We had many mutual friends, and there never came, as long as Dick was
alive, any break in our intimacy; nor, until a certain day, did we
either of us, as far as we were aware, grow any older. The pentathlons
continued with unabated fervour, and I should be ashamed to say now how
old we both were when we last played hide-and-seek in Berkeley Square.
It would appear hardly credible to any serious and right-minded person,
while those who did believe it would be filled with contempt for us;
and, as it is bad to be contemptuous, I will not mention the ages.

Now, there had always been in our lives a third person, a girl rather
younger than either of us, a neighbour both in town and country and a
distant cousin of Dick’s. For years Dick and I had liked Margery, but
had necessarily despised her because she was a girl. Then there
succeeded years when we had begun to be men, not boys, and Margery not a
girl, but a woman. The contempt ceased (that was so kind of us), and we
three formed what I may call an alliance of laughter. Margery was always
present at the pentathlons, acted as umpire in case of dispute, and was
even allowed to join in them herself. Then quite suddenly I became aware
that I had fallen in love with her. And it was in this manner I knew it:

It was at the conclusion of the golf item in the pentathlon, and on the
eighteenth green. Dick had holed out his last putt and won from me. He
had also won from Margery, and Margery had a long putt of ten yards to
halve with me. She looked at it for some time. She was standing with her
back to the sun, so that her brown hair was flushed and gilded with it;
her eyes, very blue and vivid with thought, were intent on the line to
the hole, her mouth was a little drooped, and the white line of her
teeth showed below her lip.

Suddenly she said, ‘Yes, I see,’ and putted.

The ball travelled smoothly along the turf, and she threw her arms wide.

‘It’s going in,’ she cried. ‘_What_ a darling!’ and as the ball dropped
into the hole she looked up at me. Then something caught in my breath,
and it was no longer the Margery that I knew that stood there, but She.
She who was completion and perfection--woman to me a man.

For a time the old intimacy of the alliance of laughter went on
externally, I suppose, as before. I think we laughed no less. We
contested as many pentathlons. We made plans for every day of Dick’s
leave, and usually abandoned them for subsequent improvisations. Then,
not more than a week afterwards, there came a day when Margery had to go
to town, and Dick and I were left alone. She was coming back in the
evening, and we were to go to the station to meet her, have tea there,
and ride our bicycles back over the ridge of Ashdown Forest, down home
in time to be exceedingly late for dinner.

The afternoon was very hot and sultry, and Dick and I abandoned the game
at tennis we had begun, for we were both slack and heavy-handed, and
strolled through the woods up the ‘boys’ path’ for the coolness and
shelter of the beech-trees. The ground rises rapidly near the broken
paling, and, finding a suitable bed of bracken, we lay down and smoked,
looking out from cover over the great ridge of gorse and heather that
stretched below us. The air was full of the innumerable murmurs of a hot
day, and a warm heathery smell hung idly on the air. Near at hand was a
flaming bank of gorse, and as we lay there, far more silent than our
wont, we could hear the popping of the ripened seeds. The birds, too,
were very silent in the bushes; only the grasshopper chirped unweariedly
in the grass. Dick, I remember, was cleaning his pipe with yellow
grass-stems, his straw hat tilted over his eyes. I, though lying there,
was in reality waiting for the train at Victoria, No. 6 Platform. It
started in five minutes, and had two hours’ run before it. Then Dick sat
up.

‘Look here,’ he said: ‘I’ve something to tell you. There’s no doubt
about it--I’ve fallen in love.’

I think I knew, almost before he spoke, what he would say; certainly
before he spoke again I knew what was coming.

‘Yes, Margery,’ he went on: ‘my God! I have fallen in love.’

He turned his brown eyes suddenly from the hot reeling landscape in
front to me.

‘Why, Jack,’ he said, ‘what’s the matter? You look queer, somehow.’

‘Dick, are you--are you sure?’ I asked.

‘That you look queer?’

‘No--that you have fallen in love with Margery?’

‘Sure? You’ll be sure enough when you do the same. There’s no mistake
about it, I can tell you. Why, Margery is the whole point of the
pentathlons now.’

‘She has been so to me for the last week,’ said I.

Dick said nothing for a minute. Then, below his breath, ‘What do you
mean?’ he asked.

‘That you and I are in the same boat,’ I said.

‘How long have you known this?’ he asked.

‘A week yesterday.’

‘And you didn’t tell me.’

‘No; I couldn’t. It has been too wonderful to speak of. I’m made like
that. I should have told you, though, before long.’

‘Have you spoken to Margery?’ he asked. ‘No, of course you haven’t.’

‘No; I haven’t spoken to anybody.’

Dick got up.

‘Come away,’ he said. ‘I don’t like this place. And what are we to do?’

I looked at my watch.

‘Start for Braceton at once,’ I said, ‘or the train will be in before we
get there.’

Dick put his arm in mine.

‘I say, Jack,’ he said, ‘whatever happens, we’ll behave decently, won’t
we?’

‘Yes, probably,’ said I.

‘That’s all right, then. We must talk this over to-night. It must simmer
a bit before we can get used to it. Don’t let us say another word about
it now.’

So we rode off through the heat to Braceton, found the train already in,
and Margery waiting for us on the platform, looking, for all the
oppressive stagnation of the day, like some nymph of Grecian waterways.
And Dick and I looked thirstily on her, but feared to meet each other’s
eye, for life and love were in the balance, and we were friends.

That evening, when the others had gone to bed, we sat on in the chairs
that had been taken for coolness out of the smoking-room on to the lawn.
The odour of the hot summer night hung heavily, and nothing stirred in
the windless air, except that from time to time a faint ghost of a tired
breeze whispered from the bed of tobacco-plant, and brought with it a
waft of the thick scent.

The sky had grown overcast, and from a bank of cloud which rose slowly
in the west the fires of lightning flickered, and a drone of distant
thunder answered. In the rooms downstairs the lights were already put
out, but the bedrooms above showed illuminated squares of blind. Nearly
opposite us was Margery’s room, and now and then her shadow crossed it.
Then that light was put out, and presently afterwards we heard the
scream of the blind updrawn, and at the open window through the darkness
her white figure glimmered dimly.

We could neither of us move nor speak, and in the silence I remember
hearing the creak of Dick’s shirt grow more rapid as his breathing
quickened. Then, in a bush close at hand, a nightingale suddenly burst
into bubbling song--no lament, as the Greeks thought it, but the lyric
passion of mating-time, when the stir of love goes through the world,
and the lion seeks the lioness, and the Libyan hills re-echo to the
roaring of his irresistible need; when the feathered and bright-eyed
birds lie breast to breast in their swaying habitations; when the man
seeks the woman, and cannot rest till he has found her.

Then a flash of lightning, somewhat more vivid, lit up for a moment the
lawn and the house, and she must have seen us there, for from her window
came a little stifled exclamation, and before the thunder answered she
was gone.

‘The storm is coming up,’ said Dick. ‘Let’s go indoors, and talk there.
Besides, I’m as dry as dust, and I want a drink. We’ll go upstairs; all
the lights are out down here.’

Our rooms were next each other, communicating by a door, and, drawing
our chairs up to the window for coolness, we sat down.

‘Somehow or other we’ve got to settle it now,’ said he--‘settle it, that
is, as far as we are able.’

How long we talked I do not know, but before we had finished we had to
shut the window, for the storm came nearer, and burst round us in
sheets of heavy rain and violet fires of lightning. Then it passed, and
still we sat there, till at the end the moon came out, and rode high in
a clean-washed heaven, with the stars clustering round her like swarming
bees, while to the east the sky grew dove-coloured with the first hint
of dawn. At last I rose.

‘It remains, then, just to toss,’ said I, and spun a coin.

‘Heads!’ said he.

‘It is. You speak to Margery first, then,’ I said.

He got up too, irresolute, and we looked at each other gravely, rivals
in that which makes life sweet, but friends. And that makes life sweet,
too.

‘And whatever happens, Jack,’ he said rather huskily, ‘we will do our
very utmost not to let this stand between us, and to keep all knowledge
of it from her.’

‘Yes, whatever happens,’ said I. ‘Time to go to bed, Dick. Good-night.’

I went into my room, closing the door of communication; but before I
was half undressed it opened, and Dick came in.

‘One thing more,’ he said: ‘we didn’t settle when.’

‘That must be left to you,’ said I; ‘but oh, Dick, for God’s sake let it
be soon! Surely it had better be soon.’

His face lit up with the unimaginable light of love.

‘Yes; the sooner the better,’ he said.

I slept long and late that night, from the mere exhaustion, I suppose,
of thought and suspense; did no more than turn and sleep again, when I
was called; and woke finally to find it was after ten, and the calmness
of the promise in the dawn had been fulfilled by a perfect day of
unclouded blue. I went through into Dick’s room, but he had already
dressed and gone down, and even as I passed the window I saw him and
Margery come from the conservatory and out on to the lawn, surrounded,
as was her wont, by a wave of dogs. But this morning it seemed that Dick
had no word for any of them; and thus they passed out of sight behind
the bushes. I knew as surely as if the thing had already happened that
Dick would have something to tell me when they came back, but what that
should be I had no kind of idea. We three had played like children
together for years: had Margery her secret, even as Dick and I had had?
Or had she none? Were both of us her playmates?

It cannot have been very long before Dick came back, for I was still in
the dining-room, staring blankly at the morning paper, with my breakfast
yet untasted. As soon as I saw him I knew.

‘So it is you,’ I said, and stopped. Then our compact and our friendship
aided me. ‘Oh, make her happy, Dick!’ said I.

The dear man sat down on the edge of the table.

‘Jack, I’m cut in two about it all,’ he said, and never have I seen so
intense a happiness on the face of living being. ‘Really I am. Oh, damn
it all! And Margery told me to come and tell you, and she wants to see
you. She says she’ll see you alone first, and then we’ll all play the
fool together, as we’ve always done. So I had to lie to her. First
thing I did was to lie to her, and I told her that you were not
particularly fit this morning--thunderstorm kept you awake--and that I
didn’t know if you’d be up to a pentathlon.’

He broke off suddenly.

‘My God, if it only wasn’t you!’ he said.

I remember feeling then as if I was a piece of mechanism external to
myself. This mechanism saw Dick sitting on the edge of the table, saw
breakfast waiting and ate it, and spoke and moved in obedience to an
instinct that seemed to have nothing to do with me. Behind somewhere sat
Me, watching what went on.

‘No; a pentathlon by all means,’ said the tongue of the mechanism.
‘We’ve got to have one more to settle the last, and you go back
to-morrow. It begins with croquet. Margery chose that.’

Dick’s eyebrows suddenly grew into a frown, and he bit his lip.

‘Oh, Jack!’ he said.

Then for a moment I took possession of the mechanism.

‘It’s no use talking,’ I said, ‘The thing is so, and all I can do at
present is to behave with some semblance of decency--anyhow, so that
Margery shall not know. I can manage that perfectly, and it will give me
something to do. It’s no use your being sorry for me. Besides, it’s not
humanly possible for you, nor would it be for me if I was in your place,
to have sorrow predominant. Margery fills the world for you--she does
for me----’

‘No, not fills it,’ said he. ‘You don’t understand----’

‘I understand perfectly. You’re a decent sort of fellow, and--well, I am
your friend. It’s no manner of good talking about it. All we settled
last night I feel fully--fully! Do you understand? I can only assure you
it is so. Whatever happens--do you remember saying that? I do, and--oh,
for God’s sake, don’t worry!’

Dick got off the table, turned his back to me, and blew his nose very
long and loudly, and, drawing up a chair, sat down by me with a
quivering lip.

‘I’ve made a fool of myself, I suppose,’ he said, ‘and I’ve done not a
particle of good, but only made it harder for you. That’s like me. I’m
happier than I thought it was allowed for a man to be, and I’m
wretcheder than I hoped was permitted. That’s all; there was no need to
say it, because you knew it. But I had to.’

Then again the mechanism moved, and I sat and watched. And now I find it
is quite easy to write down what happened, for I only watched. But it
was hard to write down what happened when, as on the last page, I was
doing it myself. If you think of it you will see it must be so.

‘Where is Margery?’ I said. ‘Oh, Dick, don’t be a fool!’

Again he blew his nose.

‘Out in the garden,’ he said. ‘Are you going now?’

‘Yes. The pentathlon begins in ten minutes. Nothing has happened. Just
the pentathlon!’

I walked out of the dining-room, leaving him still there, into the
blinding blaze of sunshine. She--the She--was sitting in a chair at the
end of the lawn, and my mother beside her. The latter got up as I came
near.

‘You have heard?’ she said; and in her beloved face there was that look
which I have seen three or four times in my life, when great sorrow or
great joy has brought us into that union which, so I verily believe, can
only exist between mother and son. I knew that she had guessed what
unspoken word to Margery had been on my lips.

‘Yes; Dick told me,’ said I.

‘Be a man, then,’ said she, seeing that I knew that she knew. ‘And God
bless you, my darling, and comfort you.’

It was but a step to where Margery sat, and I held out both hands.

‘Oh, Jack, I am so happy!’ she said, and with that she rose on tiptoe,
put her arms round my neck, and kissed me. It was all right, you see,
that she should do that now, for she was my friend, and I was Dick’s
friend, and she loved Dick.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is but little more to say about that May, since even in a diary
one has to avoid certain depths of egotism, in order to avoid being
unbearable. The pentathlon was played, and I won. Also I had ten
minutes with my mother that night, while Dick and Margery were together.
Nothing much was said on either side, but I knew again, with the
vividness that usually comes only with a thing heretofore unrealized,
that she was my mother and that I was her son--part of her being, born
from her body, indivisibly, while the ages lasted, hers. Hers was every
little effort that I made towards ordinary human decency of behaviour;
hers was the resolve I made then, and have tried (with how many
failures!) to keep since, to realize that these things could not have
happened with any but a benignant purpose, blind and incomprehensible as
it might seem to me or to her; and that to become in the least degree
embittered, or to fail in the smallest particle of friendship to my
friend, or of love to the woman whom I loved, was to miss the Divine
purpose, and to make of one’s self a senseless animal. For then, and
even now as I write, and do know the human outcome of that love, who
knows now what the meaning and the great purpose of all this is? A
flaw, a failure--can one say that? Not so do I believe, for I _know_ it
is all a fragment of the circumference of that great circle, the centre
of which and the whole of which--you and me, and the drunkard in the
street, and the prostitute in the street, and summer rain, and love and
death, are included, and none higher or lower than another--is God.

One word more; for the tired, puzzled entity which I know as myself
turns back to the time when it was neither puzzled nor tired, and turned
then in childlike faith to what never failed it, even as it now, mute,
with its years of experience to back its childlike faith, turns to her
whom it now knows can never fail it.

Mother, mother! I hope you are asleep, for this is an unseasonable and
timeless hour of night, but I know that before you slept you prayed for
your child. You prayed that God of His great grace would continue to
keep him unembittered, for he humbly hopes that no touch of that has
ever come near him because of what May brought; you prayed that the
wound in his heart would be healed, and your prayer was heard; you
prayed that some day he would find his Margery--not she of whom June
will tell you, for she was Dick’s, but another--the one predestined in
the eternal purpose of God.



JUNE


The early-planted sweet-peas are in flower; so, too, are the
nasturtiums. It was Margery’s plan always to sow seeds very early in the
year; indeed, she was supposed to have been seen sowing in a snowstorm.
Then she used to cover the earth up with matting if it was very cold,
and uncover it for any glint of sun. Her gardening was of the most
unorthodox order. She would pull up seedlings to see how their roots
were getting on, disturb sown earth to see what was occurring below; if
a plant looked sickly, she took it up and shook it, and replanted it
again with a warning; but everything answered with her, and it was she
who taught me to sow sweet-peas in March, so that you got the first
flowers early in June.

The year after the events of this May, I remember, she sowed a long row
of sweet-peas, running right up from the house to the end of the
garden. The garden was not a large one, any more than was the house, for
she and Dick were not rich, and the whole row was not a hundred feet
long. But there was a pleasant piece of lawn, with a thicket of lilac
and syringa at one end, and on each side of the path she had placed old
petroleum barrels, sawn in half, for flower-tubs. These she and I had
painted green, and in the process had painted ourselves too, and
everything tasted and smelt of green paint for a week afterwards. In
these she planted nasturtiums and love-lies-bleeding, and both
sweet-peas and nasturtiums were in flower early in June, just as mine
are flowering now. She always loved sweet-peas. They gave her ‘a
feeling,’ she said; therefore they grow thick in a certain place.

Dick and she had been married in the September of the same year when
they were engaged. In October the Boer War broke out, and Dick’s
regiment was among the first to go out, and she and I went down to
Southampton to see the _Maplemore_ off. It was a bleak, gray day, with
an angry, fretful wind which raised little ripples on the water, and,
as soon as raised, cut their heads off. There was a good deal of delay,
and she did not sail for two hours after the advertised time, and we all
three said openly to each other that we wished she would be quick. But
when the time came I think that Margery would have given her life for
half an hour more--had she known.

Then in December came the week which no one can think of even now
without a shudder, when Stormberg was succeeded by Magersfontein, and
Magersfontein by Colenso. But those wintry days passed, and the scars
they left in many homes began to heal, and the year and the tide turned.

I saw Margery many times that spring, and I went to stay with her for
two days on the 24th of May, for the 25th was the anniversary of her
engagement to Dick, and she had long ago settled that we should spend it
together. The 24th had been a very hot day, close and sultry, and by a
curious coincidence late that night the storm which had for several
hours flickered and grumbled in the west came very quickly closer, and
burst over us in appalling riot. Sleep was out of the question, and
about two in the morning I got up and sat at the window watching it,
thinking very intently of how just a year ago Dick and I had sat
together through it, until the ivory calmness of the moon and the
dove-coloured dawn had succeeded the tumult. Step by step I went through
the talk we had had together, while overhead the violence of the storm
abated and passed into the distance again. And whether I actually went
to sleep or not I do not know, though in any case I was unconscious of
having done so; but suddenly I heard Dick’s voice, as I thought, close
to me.

‘And whatever happens, Jack,’ he said.

Then, whether I had been asleep or not, I was awake now, and alone.
Outside a moon rode high and clear amid the swarming stars, and in the
east the sky was dove-coloured with the approaching dawn.

The next day we spent very quietly. There was no one there but Margery’s
mother and myself, and we hardly went beyond the garden; for Margery’s
time, you will understand, was nearly come, and in a week or two she
would be the mother of Dick’s child. After tea that afternoon we had a
long talk together, for her mother had gone out on some household
business, and she spoke to me of that which was coming to her, with all
the simplicity of her nature, all the triumph and glory of her loving
heart.

‘I want you to come down again as soon as possible after it,’ she said,
‘because it seems so inevitable that you must be here to take part in
this great joy of Dick’s and mine. You see, Jack, I can’t remember a
single joy or sorrow of my life with which you and Dick were not bound
up, as it were. And this--the greatest of all. Do come as soon as mother
writes to you.’

The dusk began to fall in layers over the sky, and the evening breeze
got up and tossed the incense of the flowers’ evensong over the garden.
Then, as night closed in, the smell of syringa and lilac fell asleep,
and the sweet-peas closed, and the benediction of the stars shone from
the heights of heaven. Then Margery rose from her chair, and held out
both hands to me.

‘Oh, my dear,’ she said, ‘every day I thank God for giving me you as my
friend and Dick’s. For years I have done that, even when I was a child.
And now that I am a woman, and the crown of womanhood is coming to me, I
tell you this, and I ask you to continue to be the friend of all of us.
I thank you, Jack; I bless you with my whole heart.’

And once again she kissed me.

My God, how content I was at that moment! For at that moment the foe
which I had been fighting all the year, whose sword was jealousy of
Dick, whose spear was bitterness of heart, whose armour was the human
longing and the crying of the flesh for this woman, dropped dead. No
longer would I have had anything different: all was utterly good; and
she whom I loved stood over me in the gathering silence of the night,
and under her feet lay that devilish enemy whom her goodness and
sweetness had slain.

We dined with great gaiety and foolishness, and dinner was succeeded by
absurd games, in which the two members of the alliance of laughter did
wonders for the cause. Then Margery and her mother went upstairs, and I
strolled into the garden again to smoke for half an hour before going
to bed, with the reaction of laughter rather strong upon me, and
feeling, in spite of what had happened before dinner, vaguely disquieted
and depressed, and my mind went back and dwelt with curious insistence
on the hallucination of Dick’s voice the night before. Then, even while
I was pondering on the strangeness of it, and telling myself that I must
have been asleep, I suddenly heard the clang of the gate leading from
the road to the front-door on the other side of the house, followed by
the crunching of gravel, and after a moment the sound of the front-door
bell. At that a sudden nameless fear leaped into my heart, and before
the bell sounded again I was at the front-door. Outside was a
telegraph-boy, with a War Office telegram addressed to Margery. I took
it from him, closed the door quietly, and stood there with it in my
hand, struck motionless and incapable of thought.

Then upstairs I heard a door open, and next moment my name was called by
Margery, her voice half strangled and struggling for utterance. ‘Jack,
Jack, what is it?’ she called. ‘What is it? what is it?’ Next moment I
saw her leaning over the banisters of the landing above, her hair down,
and with a dressing-gown on, and she saw what I held in my hand.

‘Will you bring it up to me, please, Jack, or open it there?’ she said
faintly, and I heard the banisters creak as she leaned on them and
clutched them. Then her mother hurried out of her room and put her arm
round her.

I can hear the tearing of that envelope now, the rustle of the unfolding
sheet. The few words it contained for a moment meant nothing. Then they
became coherent.

‘Is it about Dick?’ whispered Margery. ‘Is he wounded? Tell me quick.’

I looked up, and I do not remember whether I said anything or not. But
she knew, and in the dim light from the turned-down lamp in the hall I
saw her rise to her full height, with arms outstretched, then sway, and
fall back into her mother’s arms.

The telegram fluttered to the ground, and I ran upstairs. Together we
lifted her up, carried her into her room, and laid her on the bed.

‘Dick is killed?’ whispered her mother to me, and I nodded. Then at her
request I left them, and ran to wake one of the servants.

‘Don’t go to bed,’ she said, as I left the room; ‘you may be wanted.
Would you sit up till I see you? Have your bicycle ready.’

The drawing-room, through which I had come a minute before in answer to
the bell, looked out through French windows on to the garden, and here I
sat waiting for her mother. As yet the news to me was inconceivable; it
seemed merely impossible that it should be so. Something would happen:
another telegraph-boy would come, or, what seemed more likely, I should
wake to find that I was not here and the time was not now. Perhaps the
place would be Braceton, perhaps the time would be a year ago. Yet how
could that be? For she had spoken to me of Dick, and of Dick’s child.
There was nothing in the world so real as those minutes. And in this
dumb, dazed mood I went once into the hall to see if my bicycle was
there; for if these things were a dream, surely I should find some
incongruity, and perhaps that which should have been a bicycle might be
Dick. But the bicycle stood there, with its lamp already lit, as I had
left it.

Then came quick steps descending the stairs, and I went out into the
hall.

‘Please go into the town at once, Jack,’ said her mother, ‘and bring Dr.
Carlton. Make him come at once. If he is not in, bring somebody.’

‘What--what! Oh, tell me something!’ I said.

‘Her child will be born sooner than we expected,’ said she. ‘Oh, be
quick!’

The road was empty of passengers and very dark. Once a man--a policeman,
I think--shouted something after me; once the shadow of a dog raced me
for awhile, snarling and snapping. Otherwise all I know of that four
miles is a round space of illumination on the road cast by my lamp, I
seemingly motionless, while to right and left trees and houses went
noiselessly by, and a wind blew steadily, in spite of the turns of the
road, from the direction in which I was speeding. Then the lamp-posts of
the town began, and I had the sense to go somewhat more slowly for fear
of being taken up, and so delayed. Then, crossing the High Street, I
came to the square red-brick house.

For an interminable time, so it seemed to me, I waited on the doorstep,
and then the door was opened by an impassive man-servant. Dr. Carlton
was at dinner, and there was a party, but as soon as he came out the
message should be delivered; and I remember saying that I would go into
the dining-room myself unless I could see him at once. Then, after
another interminable delay, Dr. Carlton, whom I knew slightly, came out.

‘Come at once,’ I said--‘Mrs. Alington.’

‘Not her confinement?’ he said, frowning.

‘She has just had news of Dick’s death,’ said I, ‘and her mother told me
that--that the baby might be born sooner than they expected. Oh, man,
don’t argue!’

‘How did you come?’ said he.

‘Bicycle. It’s outside.’

He turned to his servant.

‘Tell them to put the pony in at once,’ he said, ‘and bring it round.
And’--he looked at me sharply a moment--‘bring some brandy.’

I suppose I made some gesture of impatience, for he laid his hand on my
arm with a quieting force.

‘Now, be sensible,’ he said; ‘I am going to get what I may require, and
shall go off on your bicycle. You will follow in the cart, and, until it
is ready, you will sit down here and drink a wine-glassful of
brandy--neat, mind: I order it.’

He nodded at me, pointing to a chair, and I stumbled towards it,
conscious for the first time of an overpowering exhaustion. My blood
beat through my temples very thin and far away, but with frightful
rapidity, and something sang in my ears like the whistle of a distant
train. Then I became conscious that the butler had put a glass of brandy
into my hand, and I drank it.

‘The cart will be round in ten minutes, sir,’ he said.

‘But Dr. Carlton?’ I asked.

‘Rode off a couple of minutes ago, sir. I should sit still, sir, if I
were you.’

It can hardly have been an hour from the time the telegram first came to
when the cart with me inside it drew up at Margery’s house. Against the
porch leaned my bicycle, the lamp still burning, and lights, I saw, were
burning in her bedroom directly over the door. Standing on a chair
inside the hall was Dr. Carlton’s hat and a small black bag; on the
floor close by was the pink sheet of the telegram, which I must have
dropped when I ran upstairs. Even then I remember clinging in some
desperate, dazed fashion to the hope that it was all a dream, and that
the telegram would prove to be some trivial absurdity, and I picked it
up and read it again.

Then I sat down and waited.

From time to time there was some muffled sound of footsteps and movement
above, then silence again, then more steps. Then I heard a door open
above, and a droning voice which I knew to be Margery’s speaking in
level, meaningless tones. Then the doctor’s voice said sharply:

‘Yes, it is in my bag. Bring it all upstairs if you don’t understand.’

With the bag in my hand, I met the servant hurrying downstairs, sobbing
in a helpless manner. She took the bag from me without a word, and went
up again. And step by step, after I had heard the door close, I moved to
the top of the stairs and sat there. Below, the clock in the hall beat
out metallic minutes, and once the hour--twelve only--struck. Through
the fanlight above the front-door I could see the lamps of the doctor’s
dogcart; three or four times they moved away, and after a minute or so
returned again to the same spot. At intervals that terrible droning
voice came from Margery’s room.

How long these things lasted I cannot say, but it must have been less
than two hours, for I knew the hall clock struck once only. Then the
droning voice ceased altogether, and in its place came short, incisive
sentences in a man’s voice, the purport of which, of course, I could not
hear. Then came the cry of a child, and I knew that in the midst of
death we are in life.

Then, as if I had been drawn by cords, I crept nearer and nearer to the
door of the room, and the crying of the child still sounded--the cry of
Dick’s child. And Dick? Oh, Dick! if your brave, blithe spirit in the
paradise of God, now free of its habitation of flesh, keeps watch, as it
surely must, over those it loves, come here, come here, where there is
so sore a need of you and your comforting. Speak to her through that
frail tabernacle of time and space; comfort the soul you love, if the
laws of your world permit it. Come!

       *       *       *       *       *

Later in that long night Dr. Carlton told me all he could tell. The
child had been born, and it lived. There was no reason why it should not
live, for it was quite healthy, though it had been born before its time.
About Margery he could not say. She had not rallied satisfactorily. She
had been perfectly conscious for a time after the birth of the child,
but with her consciousness had returned the knowledge of her husband’s
death, and she had relapsed again into a semi-comatose state. He
proposed to wait, visiting her from time to time, till he could feel
more happy about her.

Twice before the dawn broke I tried to go to bed, and as many times I
crept downstairs again to where Dr. Carlton sat in the drawing-room, his
genial, florid face looking more anxious and troubled each time he
returned from a visit upstairs. Then, just as morning broke in thin red
lines on the horizon, I heard his voice call to me, and I went upstairs.
He beckoned to me to come in.

Margery was lying in bed, propped up on pillows, and her eyes were
closed. I sat by the bedside and waited. They had taken the baby away,
and only her mother knelt there, with her eyes fixed on Margery’s face.
Suddenly she raised her head a little, opened her eyes, and saw me.

‘Thank you,’ she said--‘thank you for being here, Jack. Dick is waiting
for me. Yes, Dick!’

She raised herself a little more, and seemed to struggle for breath.

‘Is it morning?’ she said. ‘Let in the morning.’

And even as I pulled the curtains aside and raised the blinds there
dawned on her the Everlasting Day.



JULY


I have told you about the May of three years ago, and the June of two
years ago, because those two months are so dedicated in my mind to what
happened then, that, while the months are running, I cannot free myself
from them and live in the present year. Have you not certain such dates
in your year--days on which you live, not on the day that is now
passing, but on a certain day in some year long past? There is a foolish
proverb that says that those people are happy who have no history. In
other words, it is better to be a cow than a man. I cannot see it. But
if it will not bore you, and if, in fact, my May and June are ever so
little human to you, I will tell you quite shortly a little more of
them. If, on the other hand, this does bore you, leave out the next four
pages.

Believe me, death is not so terrible; what is terrible is the thought
that it is so. But learn how false that thought is, and death will not
terrify you. For what lies behind? God and He who died for us. And if I
am wrong, if it is not so, nothing whatever seems to me to matter, and
we can look on death as on a flea-bite. But believing, as I do, that
beyond death--even as on this side of it--is God, when lives have ended,
as those of Margery and Dick, so utterly without reproach, when two
souls have been so splendidly human as they were, it seems that God must
have been knowing what He was about when He allowed that bullet--blindly
illogical as it may seem to us--to end her life as surely as it ended
his. I can understand the existence of a lifelong regret and bitterness
_if a thing had not been well done_, if a man died from obvious
carelessness of any kind, or from weak persistence in a bad habit. Then
one might say, ‘If it had been otherwise!’ But he had done his duty, and
his duty implied death. And his death--I only grope dimly after what I
believe to be true--implied hers. Does this seem to you a stoical,
unhuman view? Ah! believe me, it is not so. It would have been very
easy for one who loved them both to take another point of view, and find
life dull, objectless, without interest or merriment. But--but would
that have been better? Would it have been better to have turned aside
from all other things, saying ‘I cannot,’ rather than to have
steadfastly said ‘I can,’ until--well, until one could? Some day I know,
on that day when Slam’s kitten stands between earth and heaven in the
midst of the four pines, and Slam says, ‘Oh, it is nice!’ there will
meet me one who died on the African uplands, and one on whose grave the
sweet-peas are yearly odorous; and we shall know each other, and God
will look on the greeting we give each other, well pleased. How that
will be I cannot guess; I am only sure that it will be so. Atheists and
dyspeptics (the two are much the same) may laugh, and if they enjoy
their laugh so much the better for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

So I am living now on the outskirts of the town where Margery and Dick
lived together for one month of their lives, and on this morning of the
1st of July I know that May and June have ended, and go back to the
ordinary little daily affairs I had been telling you about up till the
end of April. Many great little things have happened, and the
extraordinary conduct of the Jackmanni which the cat from next door once
disinterred seems to me to claim the first attention. It had been
planted against a warm south-westerly wall; it had been pampered like an
only child; for yards round the soil had been enriched; its dead leaves
were diligently picked off. I really did all I could to make it happy.
But instead of being happy, it sulked. It did not die--that would have
been a regrettable incident, but, anyhow, a proper decisive line of
conduct--but it sulked. It grew a little for a week, and put out several
leaves; then it couldn’t be bothered, and the leaves withered again.
Then it sent out a long tendril across the gravel path instead of
climbing up the stick that led to the house-wall. I coaxed that tendril
gently back, gave it an alternative route to the house-wall, but nothing
would please it. Finally I tied it to the alternative route. So it died.

I was willing to give the thing every facility for behaving itself, so
I transplanted it to a different place, where it got less sun and more
wind. Also I tried watering it less. For a week it appreciated this
enormously, and set about growing in earnest. Then one morning, I
suppose, it got bored again, and began to wither slowly from the top
downwards.

Now, I could not spend my life in moving one absurd Jackmanni from place
to place, though I have no doubt that if I had done so, taken it to stay
in other houses, given it champagne one day, coffee the next, and
perhaps some fish or pudding on the third, it would have flourished. But
I was tired of being kind, and towards the end of May I took it up for
the third and last time, planted it on a north wall, where it never saw
the sun and was starved by a thick growth of ivy. It was further shaded
by an apple-tree growing about a yard from it. Then for a month I
carefully refrained from looking in its direction; it had no water, no
attention, and was put in the most undesirable situation. To-day I see
it has leapt across to the apple-tree, up which it is diligently
climbing, and clusters of purple buds are showing among its green
leaves. Certainly severity is needed when you deal with Jackmanni.

To-day, on this 1st of July, a hot day full of the odours of complete
summer, I sat for an hour in the big wooden shelter that now stands
finished on my strip of lawn, and squared accounts. It happens to be my
birthday, and I am thirty years old--no less--and as I added up profit
and loss I was horribly puzzled how to make my affairs balance. For if
one sits down by one’s self, with no conceivable object in the world but
to see how one stands, it is probable that one is moderately honest with
one’s self, for to be otherwise would be like cheating at Patience, one
of the few forms of villainy which has never in the least tempted me.
With regard to the big item on one page, ‘_What good have you done?_’
and on the other, ‘_What harm have you done?_’ I am bound to say I did
not much concern myself, for to add up, even for one’s own information,
on what rare occasions one has behaved decently is a priggishness of
which, so I humbly trust, I am incapable; while to add up all the harm
one has done would require a great deal of time, and would be
productive of no good result whatever when it was added. For, short of
being wicked, the next worst way of wasting time is to devote one’s time
to thinking how wicked one has been. To repent in a horror of wickedness
and a burning fire of contrition is one thing; to sit down in cold blood
and count missed opportunities is another. The one is on certain
occasions, as when one passionately desires to break an evil habit,
inevitable and salutary, but to sit at ease in Hell is worse than
sitting at ease in Zion.

No, it was not with the big item that I concerned myself. I wanted to
see what cash I had in hand, rather than examine the main account--the
bank-book of credit or deficit. Where was the small cash of thirty
years, in fine--and God in His mercy give me a big loan. Indeed I do not
wish to be profane, nor in intention am I. No doubt it would have been
better to have felt an agony of contrition for all the bad things I had
done, and for all the good things I had left undone. Daily I have
thoughts which for no sum mentionable would I reveal to anyone whose
respect I in the smallest degree desired to retain; daily and hourly I
make some sort of brute of myself, not necessarily in deed, but anyhow
in thought. Daily I say to myself, ‘If only there were not some kind of
decency to be observed, social or moral, what an excellent time I could
have! If only the Ten Commandments--hang them!--did not awake some
glimmer of reflection in this muddy pool of my soul, I should----’
Anyone may fill in the rest according to his own shortcomings. In the
same way, on the credit side, I believe I should be a better man if I
lived on the bare necessities of life, and gave the rest to deserving
charities. I had no earthly business, for instance, to buy the charming
table at which I am writing, when that which I spent on it would have
fed a starving family for months. Even the Jackmanni, which has cost me
a week’s work, what with transplanting and cat-squirting, would,
irrespective of this, have given several meals to a penniless man, for
it was big when I bought it. All this, in my meditation, I took for
granted. I did not concern myself with radical changes in my nature. I
did not repent of the table and the Jackmanni, nor of the dinner I
ordered, nor of the wine I have drunk, nor of the hours I have spent in
mere amusement. In the main it was not in the least an edifying
performance; I accepted the general lines of myself as being what they
were. What, in fact, I wished to examine was not my nature, but my
policy, and to this effect:

Two great things have happened to me--the one a great joy, the other a
great sorrow. The great joy was when Margery thanked me with her dying
breath, though Dick’s name came after. The great sorrow was when she
died. Had she lived--though I do not for a moment believe I should ever
have been her husband, nor do I believe I should ever have asked her to
be my wife--I should have had some sort of mission, some constant
pursuit, namely, to see that she was as happy as it was in my power to
make her. Had I been a telegraph-boy, I should have done well if I had
delivered my telegrams without loitering; had Margery lived, I should
have done well to have given my life to that. But she did not live, and
I am too old to be a telegraph-boy. But I have had a great joy, and it
is great because she did not know how hardly it was earned. And that is
my record. That is the sum earned, and the credit already given is
thirty years. It does not look at all promising when the addition comes.

Hesitatingly, as I sat in the shelter, I put down another item to the
sum earned, which is this: I still have a childlike pleasure in little
things; I can play soldiers with absorbing zest; I can imagine that I am
a white man in tropical forests, who has to get through with tricks that
presuppose an almost pitiable stupidity on the part of my enemies; I can
devote quite as much energy to the flowering of a nasturtium as Mr.
Pierpont Morgan finds it necessary to give to the formation of a company
with a capital of £30,000,000. That, with all deference to financiers,
is an advantage. My nasturtium, in fact, implies as much energy as his
colossal schemes, and it does not hurt anybody, except perhaps the
nasturtium. Meantime, it unloads me of my force, and, considering what
harm force can do, it is a great saving of suffering to expend it
harmlessly. If I was richer, I would have a string quartet attached to
this villa, and I would spend my force in devising programmes, and
reconciling the second fiddle and the viola. But I am not, and the
string quartet has not yet to be engaged. I know whom I shall have, and
I shall be much disappointed if they have made other engagements.

For happiness consists not in getting a thing, but in hoping that one
may get it. With satisfaction walks surfeit; but to keep your ambition
steadily a little ahead of your possibilities is to be constantly eager.
There is nothing in the world which, if I got, would make me happy.
There are a million things in the world which the desire to get and the
hope of getting make me happy. And it is this which a man sets out to
seek when he falls in love, which is the best form of happiness devised
in the world at large, and, thank God! the commonest. If man or woman
knew _all_ of the man or woman each sought, would either be content? On
the contrary, the world would be full of spinsters and bachelors. It is
_because_ one is not certain, _because_ there are ‘silver lights and
darks undreamed of,’ that man seeks woman and woman man as the ultimate
possible happiness. And for the same reason one plays silly games of
croquet or bridge.

To want, to want! Do you know Blake’s picture of the two little men
setting up a ladder on a bare headland towards a crescent moon. ‘I want,
I want!’ is what the artist wrote beneath. The two little men
wanted--they put a puny ladder up towards--the moon. That is the genius
of the man, for through all the bad drawing and faulty perspective the
‘I want, I want!’ is clamorous. Others have attained. God help them!

Oh, I stretch out unsatisfied arms beyond the limits of the world!
Whatever I get becomes in the getting of it dross. It is not dross
really; it is the fact of my having got it which makes it dross to me.
It is mine, therefore it is no use. Let the Great Bear tumble down from
heaven, and let me find seven stars lying in my hand: what use are they
when they are there? Cast them out--give them to a beggar, and make
plans for Sirius. Of all the heartaches, that of Alexander when he
sighed for new worlds to conquer is the most human. Yet the typhoid
conquered him by Tigris. And his ambition was that of all of us in our
degree. The man who has bought an empire or won it wishes for more
empire, and the spinster who has seen her canary hatch out one egg, and
eat the other, says: ‘Oh that there had been two young ones!’ Vanity of
vanities; all is vanity.’ And because this preacher is not wise, but
knows what is the matter with himself and many others, he gives these
lamentable reflections on his thirtieth birthday.

Pray, then, that you may continue to want, not that you may continue to
get; for the getting in a manner comes of its own accord, and it is the
ability to want that we must keep alive. We may feel quite certain that
the world is big enough; there are plenty of things to want if only we
have the power of wanting. For wanting means just this--the _capacity of
growth_. To want no longer, means that one is old--old not only in years
(indeed, such an old age may come to an unbearded lad, in which case we
laugh, and say, ‘Look at that cynic of twenty’), but old in fibre,
inelastic, set, rigid. Nor does it, I think, much matter what one
wants--again I beg the patient reader to remember that I am not talking
of the great spiritual needs--as long as it is not harmful. But for any
sake try to be keen about something.

At this point my reflections, to tell the truth, touched me somewhat on
the raw, for what have I wanted every day for the last two years? That
which I cannot get--Margery. And yet how shall I say that I cannot get
her, when, if I knew all, I might know that these silent daily longings
of mine have brought me, perhaps, a little nearer to that dear spirit,
that without them I should have been a little more ill-tempered, a
little nastier, than I am. Anyhow, I want to want. For I do not yet
acquiesce, I cannot yet believe, that the world holds nothing for me but
that. Here am I walking along this road of life. All down it I meet
every day new faces, new people, new factors. One sees but a few yards
ahead; then there is a corner, and round that corner will come others,
looking like myself for that which their soul needs. Oh, hurrying
footsteps, coming ever nearer, is there not one among you all that will
stop when you reach me, and go no further in your quest? Is there not
one which shall, while still a great way off, strike on my ear as
distinct and utterly different from all others--one which I recognise,
though I have never yet seen her to whom that step belongs. Among these
miles of eager human eyes, shall not some day mine eyes seek other eyes,
and find there that which has been predestined for me by God? O Margery,
my dear friend, how you will welcome her (should I find her), for her
sake and for mine, when we meet in the everlasting habitations!

Another train of birthday reflections led to this conclusion: ‘Give up
the pursuit of anything which seems to you of doubtful gain.’ For there
are so many indisputably good and real pursuits in the world, that it
cannot possibly be worth while pursuing what may not be wholly good, and
may possibly be not wholly real. Here I have a certain small right to
speak, for in the last year I have given up something which seemed to me
of possibly doubtful gain, and I have found that it was a wise step.
That which I have given up is singularly known as ‘the world.’ I once
thought that it was a good thing to see hundreds of people, to multiply
acquaintances, to be able to say, ‘Charming party! ---- was there,
and ----, and ----,’ naming people who really concerned me as little as I
really concerned them; telling myself--even then, I think, I had some
secret notion of conscience-salving--that to live in the bubble and roar
of the world was stimulating. So no doubt it is, but a stimulant is not
necessarily healthy. Thus it seemed to me (one can only speak for one’s
self) to come under the head of ‘doubtful gain.’ But it is a quite
certain gain to study the habits of the ill-content Jackmanni--I am
sorry for introducing that again, but I cannot get over it--it is a
quite certain gain to read a good book; to try to learn the Fugues and
Preludes--provided, of course, the incidental pain to others is not more
than they should be reasonably asked to bear; to be in the open air,
and, above all, to do your work, whatever it is. If you have none, get
some. It hardly matters at all what it is, so long as it is harmless.
But merely to go from dinner to dance is a doubtful gain. You would do
better--at least, I should--to talk to a friend for half an hour, and
then, if you wish for the crowd merely, as I often do, walk for ten
minutes up and down Piccadilly. For if that does not give you the food
you want, you may be sure you will not find it anywhere else.

Another most fascinating hobby, though I expect it is extremely easy to
give too much time to it, is the pursuit of health. Certainly it is more
easy of accomplishment to most people than the pursuit of happiness, and
the one, to a very large extent, implies the other. For the pursuers of
happiness, for the most part, are Hedonists. They think--and herein err
very greatly--that to multiply pleasure tends to make one happy. In
point of fact, it does nothing of the kind, for pleasures are to some
extent obtainable by most people, whereas happiness is almost completely
a matter of temperament. And the happy temperament cannot possibly have
anything to do with pleasures. No amount of pleasure will foster it at
all; whereas, if you have got the happy temperament, almost everything
by that mysterious alchemy is turned into pleasure--even as a rose-tree
turns that which its root-fibres suck from the earth into blossom. And
certainly health is a great help to happiness, for to be well--really
well--makes ‘the mere living,’ as Browning says, a joy, and at times it
seems enough to be alive. For which would you rather be--a bilious man,
with all the pleasures of the world at his disposal, or well, with ‘the
book of verses underneath the bough,’ and a thrush, maybe, singing of
what should be above you?

Keenness of perception, in fact, I soberly believe to be the greatest
cause of happiness (and so, necessarily, of pleasure, since happiness
turns the most trivial incidents and sensations of the moment into
pleasure) that is within our reach. And so inextricably is the mind and
soul bound up with the body, that--apart from great spiritual enthusiasm
or ecstasy--this keenness of perception can scarcely be reached except
through a certain cleanly healthiness. In fact, it presupposes a
temperament of almost divine serenity to enjoy a day on which one has
influenza; whereas there is a sort of health, which is probably within
the reach of most people, in which, from the heightened keenness of
perception it brings with it, the smallest things are causes of joy or
laughter.

This may sound a mere vain piece of optimism, but the truth of the
matter is that three-quarters of the world are not nearly so well as
they can and should be. Almost everybody, in fact, is greedy and lazy,
and laziness and greed are more certain progenitors of discontent than
any other ancestors I can think of. To eat rather more than one wants,
to drink rather more than one should, is to feel disinclined for one’s
work or one’s pleasure. And to be disinclined for a thing means, with
most of us, to miss the pleasure of the doing. But to be inclined for
work or pleasure implies that we find a nugget of happiness therein, for
it is this alchemy of inclination which turns trivial incidents to gold,
for the keenness turns the dross of mere achievement into happiness.

It is thus that the happy temperament may most readily be cultivated by
those who have not naturally got it. Some have it, a royal birthright,
worth more to its possessor than the piled crowns of the Great Powers;
but by others it has to be cultivated. And to cultivate keenness of
perception by means of health is the simplest and most practicable
method. And the organ in which ill-health mainly resides is, to put the
matter frankly, the liver, because, as a rule, we eat and drink too
much, avoid air as if it was strychnine, and do not take enough
exercise. Thus my prescription is worth trying: Eat and drink less, open
your windows more, and, if your work permits of it, be out-of-doors
more. It may, of course, be easily possible that, to do your work
properly, you have to sit in a stuffy room, and neglect your health
somewhat; if so, let your health take care of itself by all means, and
get through with your work. But short of that, let your health receive
the attention it deserves. It is a very sound investment, and will yield
you excellent returns.

Dear God, in spite of May and June, how happy You allow me to be! How
You have allowed me, in consideration of my foolishness, to find in life
so much happiness! To-day, for instance, a golden sun was swung in a
blue sky when I awoke, and only half-dressed I breakfasted in this
shelter in the garden where I am writing now. Three yards off was the
Jackmanni with its purple buds, a little beyond a Crimson Rambler
climbing up an apple-tree. On the grass stood two green tubs briming
with nasturtiums; up the garden bed ran the row of sweet-peas. All
breakfast-time a thrush sat on the apple-bough and sang the song that
can never be learned, and which no one ever taught it. Then, still
out-of-doors, I sat and worked, and about twelve came a great bunch of
lilac from a neighbour. Lunch-time brought two friends, and after lunch
we hit little silly golfballs over the great back of the down with
matchless enthusiasm. And now I sit here again, as evening is beginning
to fall, and the birds which were mute in the heat of the day are tuning
up for evensong; again the thrush is on the apple-bough, and an
occasional silver flute of a note tells me that mating-time is not yet
over with the nightingales. The bees still hunt in the drowsy and
closing flowers, and swifts still race with shrill whistlings through
the divided air, but every moment the stillness of evening gains on the
beautiful noises of life, like a waveless tide creeping up the wrinkled
sand of the sea-shore. Already the sun is low, and soon the lengthening
shadows will cease to be shadows, and the velvet blue of the night will
darken in the turquoise-coloured skies. Already the night-flowering
stocks and the tobacco-plant are opening, and, as they open, spread
sweet webs of incense, low-lying from their heaviness, over the grass,
and the pale moths begin to hover over the flowers. Dusk comes, and its
cool benediction rests and recuperates the day--wearied earth, and it
and its little inhabitants rest with bowed heads a moment, like some
child at its mother’s knee, drinking in quiet. The pause has come, day
is over, it is not yet quite time to sleep; be still, then, cease to
move or worry or think. Lie open to the air and the stars, let your life
pause, breathe deep, make no effort, and the thrush and the stars and
the green things will communicate with that which is within you by
direct ways.

Then as dusk deepens into night thought comes back; but thought, too, is
driven inwards, going home to roost, and for a little while, as I walk
in this dewy grass by the sweet-peas, Margery will be leaning on my arm,
talking to me of the days that were--talking, too, in a way I do not
yet fully understand, of the days that will be. Outside on the road I
can hear unknown footsteps passing up and down, and every now and then
she seems to say to me, ‘Hush! Listen!’ But the steps pass on. It is not
yet.



AUGUST


I do not think that I have hitherto mentioned that, since I came here in
the spring, the house in which Dick and Margery spent those few weeks
together before he went out to South Africa has stood untenanted, and
often during the past months I have wandered slowly by it, noting with a
sort of pleasure, I think, that at any rate no one I knew lived there.
The feeling was, I am aware, utterly unreasonable, but it was of the
same childish and instinctive kind as that which prompts us to put away
and not use, or at least not let others use, some little object which
has been in any way closely connected with someone who is dead, whom we
have loved. I do not think this feeling is in the least defensible, for
it implies that we cut the dead off in ever so small a degree from the
living, and thus tend to keep alive the sting of death. For in that the
dead have once been intertwined with our ordinary workaday lives, it is
altogether a false sentiment which makes us separate them now, if we
believe at all, as I do most fully, that they still are about and around
us. All the same, it was with a certain surprise and shock that I saw
early in August that the signboard that the house was to let was taken
down, and that a few days later a furniture-van was drawn up at the
door. In fact, this very natural and reasonable event disturbed me to a
degree which I was totally unable to understand. It seemed dreadful,
somehow, that others should be at home there (it never occurred to me at
the time that it was highly unlikely that the house had stood vacant for
two years), so wholly was it consecrated in my mind to those two. At the
same time I realized my utter unreasonableness about the matter, and,
instead of trying to combat it, attempted to take a shorter cut, and
dismiss it as far as I could from the range of my conscious thoughts.
Yet for weeks it lurked there in the shade, and as the weeks went on,
though I never consciously dwelt on the thought, yet somehow the thought
seemed to grow there in the dusk of my mind, until I knew that all my
subconscious brain was full of it. More especially I desired to remain
in ignorance of who the intruders--for so I thought of them--were. As
long as they remained utterly vague and unknown, I could feel no
definite and incarnated resentment, but if once they were visualized I
felt that the growth in the shadow might peer out with poisonous leaves
into the sunlight of active and conscious thought.

I have tried to put incoherency coherently, and I feel I am drawing with
definite outline that which was necessarily ill-defined; but in no other
way, except by words of definite meaning, can one indicate any
impression, however mist-like. Let me, then, say at once that what I
have said is overstated in the sense that if one tries to draw the
actual phantoms of a nightmare they are overstated, because to state
them at all is to lose the pervading vagueness, for hard outline. On the
other hand, again, what I have written down is, I think, understated,
since I try in vain to convey by words the vague and abiding disquiet I
felt at the thought of the owner of the furniture-van that unloaded at
the door. Only, as I have said, this all lurked in the shadow, and
though it grew, yet by persistent refusal to think directly of it, and
by persistently endeavouring to continue in ignorance of whom the new
tenants were, the dark growth never emerged into sunlight.

But it seems a curious irony of fate that so soon after I have written
about the road to happiness this phantasmal and unreal ghost should
‘arise to poison joy.’ This, at any rate, is not exaggerated language,
for the thought of the house tenanted once more lay like a shadow over
my spirits. I was wholly unable (or at any rate I thought I was, which
comes to the same thing) to banish the shadow from my mind, and it
haunted both waking and sleeping thoughts with a dull never-ceasing
weight. I, who hardly ever dream, and then only of astounding and
mirthful adventure, groped nightly about ill-lit passages, which I
believed to be passages in that house, in intolerable apprehension.

Sometimes, so it seemed to me, certain rooms were vividly lit inside,
and through cracks below the door, or through the chink of the door
ajar, I saw that there were bright lights inside the rooms, which yet
cast no filtering illumination into the passages through which I had to
feel my way. At other times the whole house was wrapped in a misty
obscurity, which was not the light of early morning nor yet the dusk of
falling night, but something almost palpable to the touch; it was as if
the gray veil of the future brushed across my eyes, some unseen hand
stirring it, as if to lift it away, and in my dreams my eyes would
strain into the darkness for the light that should show me what agencies
moved about me.

These dreams, which were very persistent and occurred in dim sequence
many times during the night, always opened in the same way. On falling
asleep I passed straight into the nebulous atmosphere I have tried to
describe, and was walking up to Margery’s house. For the darkness, I
never could see more of it than its square shape, a blot against the
blotted sky; the door was always open, and the groping in the passages
began. I was conscious always of many presences close round me, but the
dusk hid them, and into the lighted rooms I never could enter, for it
was somehow forbidden. Then one night an entirely new dream came,
sandwiched between the dreams of dusk, and in that I was going along the
road to the house, not wrapped in obscurity, but in brilliant sunshine.
Birds trilled in the bushes, flowers of extraordinary brilliance grew in
the hedgerows, and I thought with an upleap of exultation that the
passages would be blind no longer. Then I turned the corner and came on
the house, and though I knew it was the right one, yet it had changed
almost beyond recognition. The steps that led to the front-door were
cracked and moss-ridden; the creepers had so grown that they hung in
curtains over the windows; an indescribable air of age had passed over
it. But the room over the front-door--Margery’s room--was untouched by
the gray hand of Time: the walls were still smooth, and it seemed to me
the bricks newly-pointed; the creepers were cut back from the window,
which was wide open, and from inside came a voice singing. It sang a
song that Margery always loved, and though the voice was like hers, yet
it was not quite like.

It was with the wildest hopes and expectations that I entered the house,
but once again, though all was bright outside, the passages were dark.
But I groped my way upstairs, and saw that the door of Margery’s room
stood open, and there, framed in the misty obscurity, stood a figure
that must be hers. Line for line it repeated that form I knew so well;
the slight bend of the neck, the outward sweep of the shoulders, were
all hers. And in the darkness I gazed and gazed, for the veil seemed to
brush upwards against my eyes, but it did not lift, and in an agony I
cried out, ‘Margery, Margery, is it you?’ And my own voice, I suppose,
awoke me, for I found myself seated up in bed, and the night outside was
still very dark and hot, and I heard the hissing of steady rain on the
shrubs.

So I lay down again, and must have gone to sleep immediately, for,
without conscious pause, I was back in the dark passages as usual. But
once again on that same night a new factor appeared in my dreams, for
the presences, though still invisible, were inaudible no longer, and
their footsteps passed about and around me very close. For a long time I
listened, but heard none that concerned me; but at last there came one
which I knew to be Dick’s, and with it went another that was Margery’s,
and they passed near me and went out--I suppose to the garden. It never
occurred to me to follow, for I was outside their lives somehow, and if
we came near each other it was that they came near to me. After that the
steps of many strangers passed and repassed, and then once more I heard
Margery’s footstep alone. But when it came close I knew it was not
Margery’s, but like it, as the singing voice was like hers. Then slowly,
as at the hint of dawn, the dim passages began to grow bright, and I
looked to see where Margery was. But the brightness as it grew showed me
only the walls and furniture of my own room, and through the open window
came in the pale light of early day, as the morning breeze flapped the
blind.

Now, by this time the dreams of the dark passages had lasted about a
week, and the days betwixt the nights had been full of a corresponding
depression; for by night it was the darkness that troubled me, and by
day the shadow of the new folk who were coming to live there. Then came
that night which I have described, and simultaneously both the dream of
the dark passages and the depression by day ceased entirely and
altogether. I went back at once to the dreamless nights to which I was
accustomed, and my days were once more a mosaic of happy hours. But the
heaviness of those days and the ill-defined fear of those nights was so
blackening to the spirit that at the time I soberly thought that some
madness had begun to lay its finger on my brain; and now that I no
longer fear that, I find myself wondering what could have induced this
melancholy. The weather, it is true, was extremely hot and depressing,
and for the whole week it is also true I was working against time at a
piece of work I did not wish to do. Before I had been a day at it, I
knew that it was distasteful; before I had been two at it, I felt sure
it was not worth while to do it at all.

Now, being temporarily bored with one’s work is one thing; radical
disapproval is another. It may easily happen that, to bring about a
situation rightly, several chapters of what seems to one at the time
(and very likely is) sorry stuff have to be hammered into shape. Due
preparation for the situation has to be made without giving the
situation away; only when it comes the reader should say to himself:
‘Of course it must be so; why didn’t I think of it?’ But radical
disapproval is a far different matter. It is rank immorality to go on
spending time and pains over what is worthless or worse, and that rank
immorality I committed. Then, when the work in question, the oppressive
weather, and the disordered dreams, which began simultaneously, also
ended simultaneously, I felt that it was highly probable that they were
all bound up together. Certainly, it is more than possible that they all
reacted on each other--that the thunder in the skies led to a general
depression that made my immorality sit heavy on me, and induced a gloom
by day that was carried over into the night. Again, the fact that I
slept in the shadows brought shadows into the day; and the fact that I
spent the hours unprofitably, and knew it, predisposed to gloomy
visions. At the same time, the persistence of the same dream was
curious, and the society that collects nightmares are at liberty to put
it on a pin. Such, however, is the record of what happened during the
first week of August.

Thereafter ensued three spoilt days, spoilt not by outside agencies,
but by fussy stupidity on my part. To the ordinary citizen such spoiling
means nothing, for in all probability he will never experience it, and
thus to him the trials of these three days are senseless. But given that
your household comprises only a plain (very plain) cook, and what would
be called in London a ‘general’--though such have no idea of
campaign--it will appeal to the minority to know that the question of
what one wanted for ten days at Bayreuth, and perhaps a week’s wandering
in Germany, was crucial. It was no use saying vaguely--as I suppose one
does to a valet--‘I shall be away for ten days; pack’; but seriatim I
had to think of all that I should conceivably want. The result was that
early on the second day I found that I had packed all the necessaries of
life, and had to unpack them all again. This, and the subsequent
repacking, took the whole of the third day. Even then, since I had to
leave at cockcrow to catch the evening boat to Ostend, there were many
things insoluble. Were there baths at Bayreuth, or should I take an
indiarubber bath? Were there washerwomen, or should I take as much
linen as there were days? _Seigneur, quelle vie!_

Now, though I regret these pin-points of indecision, yet I defend them.
For if one is going abroad for six months, all that is necessary to do
is to put out every stick and button you have in the world, and bid the
grand portmanteaux advance. But for ten days or a fortnight surely such
equipment is beyond the mark. Therefore one has to select. Here comes in
the worst of an imaginative mind. One can easily picture circumstances,
even in the course of ten days, in which one will want each single suit
of clothes one possesses. For instance, there may quite easily be a cold
spell of weather, and therefore it is necessary to take one suit of
thick clothes, also to be worn on the night journey. But supposing one
gets caught during this cold spell by a sudden storm? The cold spell
continues, but the thick clothes are wet. Therefore one must take two
suits of thick clothes. However, warm weather is more likely, and there
must be at least two suits of flannels. Four suits. Then for emergencies
of the social kind one must not be found defenceless, and some sort of
tailed apparatus must come. Five suits. Dress-clothes. Six. Also there
is excellent trout-fishing not far from Bayreuth, and I have been
particularly told to bring a rod. That entails knickerbockers and a
Norfolk jacket. Seven suits.

At this point I paused; I was taking seven suits in order to clothe my
unworthy body for a space of ten days in a Bavarian village. Yet where
was the flaw? Of all things in the world I hate to be away from home,
wanting something which I have forgotten to take, and, which is worse,
decided not to take. Time was when it was so simple to put in that
article, but the opportunity is mine no longer, and I sigh for the
undenuded wardrobes.

I scorn to reproduce more of these indecisions; I would sooner reproduce
French as spoken in the hot bath, and it will suffice to say that,
having spent hours which will never return in process of careful
selection, I eventually discarded selection altogether, and filled all
the portmanteaux I possess. However, for the future I shall waste no
more time in thinking what I shall want on short journeys, for I know I
shall end in taking all I have, and it saves trouble to begin with that.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not know whether we are all descended from gipsies, but certainly
in most people something of the instinct which loves to wander, to make
a journey merely for the joy of going, survives. True it is that
punctual trains (the South-Eastern, however, has a good deal of
admirable romance and uncertainty about it) and well-appointed
steamboats, which leave stone-jettied ports at regular and ascertainable
times, have sucked much of the unknown from travel, and so robbed this
instinct of its fruition, but they cannot quite starve it. Even though
you travel in a Pullman car, and sit on plush with your head among
voluptuous gildings, and gaze into looking-glasses which show you the
country and the telegraph-posts reeling giddily backwards, yet you still
travel; and, at any rate, if you are going where you have never been
before, something new and unknown waits for you behind the advancing
line of the horizon. Thus, the one thing I never need on a journey is a
book; it is sufficient entertainment for me merely to look out
of the window and see new country--vale and glen or plain and
mountain-peak--come up to greet me in endless procession. So swiftly one
moves that it is hardly possible to weary of what one sees before it is
gone, and every bend in the line may show something admirable. But above
all things the headlong passage through the station of a large town
delights me. First comes a mile of sordid house-backs built on to the
line; then a short tunnel at which the engine screams; then a wider
glance of the town, with perhaps a gray cathedral tower watching over it
all; then close against the window slanting lines of people, like rain,
on the gray, tapering platform, the name of the station hidden, like a
plum in a bun from its refreshment-room, in plasters of advertisement;
the signal-box with its rows of gleaming semaphores; the mile of sordid
house-roofs again; and out into the green fields. Then at a stile giving
on to the line there wait a couple of children, whom in all human
probability you will never see again, waving their hats at the gay
express. For a glimpse only you saw them, but they have their lives in
front of them, fraught with momentousness to themselves at least, and
perhaps to others. It is even possible that in years to come the lines
of your life may cross theirs--that tragedy or comedy is already weaving
the ropes that will bind you together in love or death or laughter. For
of all phrases ‘a chance meeting’ is the most illogical. If chance
exists at all, nothing exists except chance. Your most careful plan may
be spoiled ‘by chance,’ as you will say. Then, your careful plan was
chance, too, since chance can wreck it.

The backwaters of life, like the backwaters of streams, have an enormous
fascination for me, for both are extraordinarily pleasing to the eye and
restful to the mind. The great stream of progress hurries by them, while
they revolve gently under shelter in sedate eddies, and sometimes sticks
and straws from the stream get flung aside into them, and at once they
join that slow, unhurrying circle. Such a backwater is Bayreuth; a
tram-line and an advertisement of Sunlight Soap are the only touches of
modernity I noticed in the town, for the theatre stands apart from it, a
mile away beneath the pine-woods of the pleasant Bavarian hills. But
otherwise it is a backwater of the purest type, not ancient and not
modern, any more than is a backwater in a stream, but merely existent
and unhurrying.

The inhabitants, we must suppose, buy and sell things from each other;
some are richer than others, but apparently not much, and none, I should
think, are either very rich or very poor. Some also are better-looking
than others, but not much; some rather wider-awake, but all seem to have
set as a seal on their foreheads a ruminating mediocrity in all points
and qualities which the human mind is able to conceive. Apart from the
festival, it is impossible to imagine being either very happy or very
unhappy in Bayreuth; ‘very,’ in fact, is a word which is without meaning
there.

Yet here, by a strange irony of fate, is planted the cult of perhaps the
most ‘very’ mind that ever existed, for the brick theatre on the
hill-side is the casket which holds that heart of flame and song.
Critics have beggared dictionaries to express their feelings about
Wagner, and whether it is synonyms for ‘charlatan’ they have searched
for, or synonyms for ‘sublime,’ none have yet thought of levelling at
him the charge of dulness or mediocrity. Indeed, to discuss him at all
seems to imply that you are not in that calm frame of mind in which
alone can discussion be profitable, and the violence which marks his
music and drama seem at once to infect the mind of his critic. Strangest
of all, even Tolstoi--who of all great writers seems to be almost
utterly devoid of any sense of beauty, though in matters of sordidness
and ugliness the skill of his art is worthy to stand by
Shakespeare’s--has allowed himself to be drawn into the mad circle, and
has given us in his volume on Art a dozen pages which for sheer
ineptitude of criticism, complete ignorance of his subject, and utter
incompetence to deal with it, must rank for ever with the colossal
failures of the world, such as the Panama Canal and the fall of
Napoleon. But the calm frame of mind deserts me; discussion is not
profitable.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was after the second act of ‘Parsifal,’ and from the cool darkness of
the theatre we streamed silently out into the brilliant sunshine of the
late afternoon. The sun was near to its setting, and the whole plain
below us was steeped and stupefied in the level rays. A blue haze of
heat-mist lay over the further hills, emphasizing the enlacement of
their ridges, which stood out like the muscles of some strong arm.

Above the theatre rose the quiet pine-woods, hardly whispering, so still
was the evening, and it was to them that my friend and I turned, for the
poisonous enchantment of Klingsor’s garden had to be expelled, and we
neither of us cared to join in shrill discussions about the exquisite
phrasing of Kundry, since it was the seduction of her phrases that more
occupied us. For an hour the evil flowers had bloomed, and that evil was
not of the foul sort that makes one turn from it, but of the seemingly
innocent welcome of maidens that wear flowers, and of an evil woman who
spoke not of evil things, but of sacred things--a mother’s love, and her
own love for him who was pure.

So we sat in the pine-woods, and let the fermenting vat of sin lose its
effervescence, and waited till the sour-smelling bubbles broke no more
on its iridescent surface. And the sun sank till it touched the hills,
and where it touched they changed to semi-transparent amber, and a
crescent moon rose in the east, and one bird fluted in the bush. Then
the first trumpet from below sounded the _motif_ of the ‘Love-feast,’
and down we went. From the mad fires of the sunset we passed into the
cool gloom of the theatre, and the doors were shut, and soon the curtain
rose on the last act.

       *       *       *       *       *

So were the wanderings of Parsifal accomplished, yet he remained still
the pure youth who once, in ignorance of suffering, had shot a swan as
it circled above a lake, wantonly and without thought. Yet when he saw
it dead, then for the first time had pity knocked a little on the door
of his heart. Since then had years sped by, and temptations hideous and
beautiful and strong and subtle had been ever about his path and about
his bed. Yet he was still without guile, nor was there spot or stain on
his virgin soul. Albeit he was very weary, and for years had he been
very weary, and sometimes he had prayed that he might die, not knowing
what he prayed, for the flesh was weak. But the Sacred Spear which he
bore ever with him, that spear which had pierced the side of our Blessed
Lord, was his strength and his firm defence, as it had ever been since
he had won it from Klingsor the magician, unarmed except for the armour
of his pure heart.

So it came about that on the dawning of that day on which our Blessed
Lord was crucified his wanderings led him back to that place from which
they had started, ere yet he had confounded the sorcerer Klingsor, and
in the garden of seduction had resisted the wiles of Kundry, who laughed
at our Blessed Lord what time He bore the cross of our redemption to
Calvary, and thus henceforth could never weep, but by her laughter lured
the souls of men to hell. Weary beyond all speech was he with his
wanderings, in which he ever fought against the powers of evil, and he
wot not whither he had come, nor that it was the Blessed Friday on which
he had come thither, for, in that he did ever his dear Lord’s work, that
it was now the day on which He suffered on the cross for our redemption
was less to him than the work of salvation which he himself daily
accomplished. Nor saw he the brightness of the meadows, nor read the
joyous message that Spring wrote on the blossoming hawthorn and on the
green places of the earth. For the turning Year had put on her fresh
mantle, and like some fair maiden had dressed herself against the coming
of her lover. The brooks all down the valley of Monsalvat--for to
Monsalvat he was come again--were no more thick or tainted with the
melted snows, nor had summer yet made them run low or less melodiously;
but they brimmed through the meadows, combing the waving grasses that
leaned to them and drank of their coolness, and over their pebbly beds
they glanced and sparkled like young things at play. Between the stems
of the trees were strown carpets of hyacinths and wind-blossoms, and
from thicket to thicket the merry thrush glanced in and out, and filled
his throbbing throat and sang of love and of summer. From morn till
night did all God’s creatures thank Him for the beautiful days He had
given them, and at eve the nightingale made the song which is as old as
time and as young as when time itself was young.

Yet for very weariness did Parsifal reck naught o the spring music, but
he only journeyed on, steadfast in the might of the Spear; for he knew
that at the appointed time would his Gracious Lord guide his steps back
to Monsalvat, his heart enlightened by pity, by which, though he hated
sin, he ever loved the sinner. And even on this very morning his perfect
work was done, and in naught had he brought shame upon the Holy Spear
which shed the precious blood of his dear Lord, and wrought our
salvation; and so had God guided him back to the vale of Monsalvat,
though as yet he knew not whither he had come. Once, indeed, he had seen
a swan wheeling in blue heaven above him, and a faint chord of memory
twanged in his heart and was silent again. Yet he had inward peace,
which he would not have exchanged for the wealth of the world nor for
the wisdom of Solomon, for it was passing knowledge.

Yet, though all Nature held high festival and rejoiced, little did the
brethren of the Holy Grail rejoice with her. For King Titurel, who for
long years had lived but in the chapel of the Grail, wondrously kept
alive by the feast of Love which our Saviour instituted, was dead, and
even on this day was to be his burial. And his son, King Amfortas, was
also nigh to death, for the grievousness of the wound wherewith years
agone the magician Klingsor had wounded him; for Amfortas had yielded to
sin and to sleep, and while he slept in Klingsor’s garden of sorceries
the magician had thrust at him with the Sacred Spear, and only by the
touch of the Spear could his wound be healed. And as often as Amfortas
would essay to unveil to the knights the radiance of the Holy Grail did
the wound break out afresh, and thus for long time had they been without
that strengthening and refreshing of their souls for the lack of which
the King Titurel, starved of that spiritual meat and holy drink, had
died.

Very early on this morning came the old knight Gurnemanz from his
hermit’s hut nigh the sacred spring to look with dim eyes on the beauty
of the dawning springtime; and as he looked on the flowering meadows he
heard, so he thought, the cry of some wounded animal. ‘Yet animal,’ said
he to himself, ‘it can scarcely be; for what four-footed thing grieves
like that?’ Then searched he in the thicket by the spring, and found no
animal, but the witch-woman Kundry who for long time had not set foot in
the kingdom of the Holy Grail. And something of the spring moved in his
old bones, and he said to her, ‘Awake, Kundry, awake! for the winter is
over and past, and spring is here.’ Yet she moved not; and when she lay
so still he wondered if she were dead, and his soul was sorry for her,
since the curse of laughter was still not removed from her. But soon, in
answer to his ministrations of pity, she moved and stirred; and when she
had come to herself, she got up very quietly, saying only: ‘I serve, I
serve.’ Then she busied herself in his hermit’s hut, and fetched fresh
water, and plucked rushes for his floor. And he wondered, for he knew
not how in the garden of sorceries she had tempted the young lad who
came thither, and how he had resisted her wiles, and how from that
moment there had entered into her heart the sweet and bitter pain which
men call remorse, and which, indeed, is naught else but the voice of our
humble Saviour speaking low and lovingly to our hard hearts.

But as Gurnemanz stood and wondered, behold, there drew near a knight
clad in armour from head to foot. In his hand he held a spear, and his
feet went wearily. Then did Gurnemanz tell him--for he knew not who it
was--that this was the holy and peaceful kingdom of the Grail, where
none went armed. And the strange knight answered him not, but he put off
his armour, and the spear he set upright in the ground, and knelt down
in prayer, raising his eyes to it. Then slowly to the old man came
recognition, and he knew what spear that was, and he knew him who bore
it--Parsifal.

So when Parsifal had prayed, he rose, and told Gurnemanz of his
wanderings and of that sacred thing he bore, and how pity had
enlightened him, so that he loved the sinner, yet hated the sin. And now
to the kingdom of the Grail he had come again. Then, in turn, he heard
of the long sorrows of the knights, and how the strength had gone from
them now that they no more beheld the Holy Grail, and that for lack of
the sight thereof the old King Titurel was dead. And when he heard that,
pity for the sin of the world so seized him that he staggered where he
stood, and he lay in swoon near the spring. Then did the old knight
Gurnemanz minister to his faintness; and from his hut came Kundry, who
knew Parsifal’s helm, and she knew him--that it was he whom she had
tempted in Klingsor’s garden. But now he rebuffed her not, and she
loosened his armour also, and laid it by; and she washed his feet in the
spring, and with the hair of her head she dried them. Then Gurnemanz
anointed him on the head, and when she had dried his feet Kundry
anointed them also, and he rose, and saw the woman, who she was; and
Christ Jesus spoke to his heart, and told him that her redemption was
near, for her heart was sorry at last. So with water from the spring he
baptized her, and bade her trust in her Redeemer. And as he spoke the
ice and the laughter in her breast were melted, and with her hair she
made a darkness for her eyes, and she wept.

Then, too, were Parsifal’s eyes opened, and he looked on the beauty of
the spring-time, and talked with Gurnemanz awhile, that even on the day
on which the Blessed Lord was crucified it was very fit that all Nature
should rejoice, because her trespasses were pardoned, and that since
the great Intercessor Himself pleaded, not the pity of the sacrifice,
but the peace which passed understanding, was chiefly shed on the earth.

Yet across the joyous day there now sounded the funeral bells for the
King Titurel, and soon the new-anointed King of the Grail took the
Sacred Spear and went through the blossoming woods to the chapel of the
Grail. There were all the knights assembled; but little gladness was
theirs, for they starved for the spiritual meat and holy drink, and for
the sight of the Holy Grail, which Amfortas for his wound could not
reveal to them. And they cried aloud to him to show them the mystery,
and for very agony he could not, but called on them to kill him. Then
was brought in for burial the body of Titurel, and for a moment sorrow
smote them silent.

And while they were silent there entered one who bore a spear, and there
followed him the old knight Gurnemanz and a woman. He went to the couch
where Amfortas lay, and with the spear he touched his wound, and the
wound was healed. Then turned he to those who bore the curtained Grail
and bade them unveil it; and he took the Holy Grail in his hand, and
with his other hand he held the Sacred Spear, and the chapel grew dark,
and from the Grail shone out the Salutation of the Lord.

But in the darkness the woman Kundry had crept to his feet, and as the
radiance from the Grail grew bright she lifted her eyes to it, and her
redemption was accomplished, and she died.



SEPTEMBER


The barren, sterile emotions which Art gives us, though they have the
advantage of harmlessness over the emotions of Life itself, that tree of
sweet and bitter fruits, bear with them the inherent defects of their
unreality; and whereas there is hardly an emotion of Life which does not
leave us stronger and more vivified, there is hardly an emotion of Art
where one’s senses are stirred, not by actual events of joy or sorrow,
but the imagined scenes thereof, which does not leave us flat and
unbraced in proportion as the emotion excited has been keen. Love and
death, the two great _motifs_ on which the drama of Life is based,
whether they are whispered on the shivering strings, or piped on remote
flutes, or thundered with the blast of trumpets and the clash of
cymbals, leave us, when such actual experience has touched us, the
richer for it, and stronger and more vivified. But such is not the case
in the reflection of experience which Art gives us; vivid it may be--so
vivid, indeed, that reality after it seems shadow-like and unreal--but
its life is temporary. We thrill with ecstasies that are not really
ours; our soul, in its secret place, sickens with sin or withers with
renunciations which are not its own; and when the mimic spectacle is
over, and we wake from the storms or sunshine of a coloured dream to a
gray morning, and have to take up again the dispiriting thread of
uneventful hours, it is with an intolerable sense of flatness that we at
first look out over the undistinguished landscape of life. For a week,
perhaps, or a fortnight, we have agonized with the throes of Titans;
monstrous joys and sorrows have been our portion, and for the monstrous
we take up again the minute. We have been burning with alien fires and
passions not our own: the temptation of Kundry has shaken us; the sorrow
of Wotan, as wide as the world and as bitter as the sea, has for the
time been ours; we have been laid to sleep on a mountain-top, like
Brunehilde, and, like Siegfried, have dreamed in the green shade of
woods until the voice of Nature has become intelligible, and the
twittering of birds articulate through the murmur of the forest. The
quintessence of human emotion, in all its terror and beauty, has shaken
and enthralled us. Then--then the curtain came down, and we go out again
into the real world, which for the time Art has rendered shadow-like,
where a hundred petty duties await us, in no way refreshed or strung up
for their accomplishment, but impatient, irritated, and bored.

Such, at least, were my own feelings when on a morning I awoke and
remembered (what at first seemed incredible) that there was to be no
opera that day, and that the curtain was down on the stage at Bayreuth
for two years. The little backwater of a town, which on arrival had
seemed so instinct with such sweet repose and tranquillity, was
insupportable: its tranquillity was the stagnation of decay; its repose
a creeping death-trance, with gray nightmare to ride its rest. Instead
of finding that the fiery dreams of the last fortnight had gilded its
streets and woven themselves into its gardens and trellises, it appeared
to me merely the most dismal little sun-baked suburb I had ever seen. A
glorious lamp had burned there, but the lamp was quenched, and instead
of a reflection of its light lingering there, there was only a smell of
oil. But the immediate and vital question was what to do and where to
go. I could not imagine myself finding existence tolerable anywhere, and
least of all, perhaps, could I imagine myself back in England in my own
quiet little house in the country town, since for the time being, at any
rate, all the minute pleasures which had built up that delightful life
and made it so full of happiness were incomprehensible. Not long ago a
quiet morning of work, with glances into the garden to see what new
plant had flowered, a game of golf over the breezy down, the face of a
friend, the hundred details of my life which I have tried to describe in
these pages, were overflowingly sufficient to make me more than content.
But now there was exasperation in the very multitude of them. And all
the time there were, so to speak, images of glorious brightness shut
away in some dark place of my brain. The Valkyries were there and
Parsifal, Hans Sachs, mellow and unembittered, looked on the love of
others and smiled, and Walter sang of spring-time, and everywhere was
melody.

Here, if you please, is egotism _in excelsis_, for I solemnly told
myself that, instead of going back home like a sober and average person,
I was bound--no less--to go somewhere and to do something by which I
could the more fully apprehend and crystallize these images; and the
grounds on which I put this to myself--that is my only excuse--were
genuine. For I believe that one of the main duties of man to God and to
himself is to realize beauty and understand it, and that one of his main
duties to his neighbour is to produce beauty in some shape or form,
moral, mental, or physical--if, indeed, there is any real difference
between them. The last fortnight had given me new material; that part of
me which is capable in its small way of feeling beauty had been shown
wonderful things. If I went back home to the ordinary routine of daily
life, I felt that I should not only do my part in it exceedingly ill,
but also that the monotony and triviality of it would tarnish and dull
the brightness of my new possessions. In other words, I began--a solemn
prig--to think about my artistic temperament, and make plans for its
well-being. And that confession made--in the hope that _Qui s’accuse
s’excuse_ in some small degree--the mind-narrative can go on its way. My
body--after an effusion of telegrams--sped South to the house of a
friend in Capri, where it arrived two days later.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here in this remote island, separated by a few leagues of sea only from
that vividly modern and restless place called Naples, can be recaptured
without effort something of the early days of the world, and from the
steamer one steps out of all the responsibilities and codes which the
stupidity and wickedness of mankind have built up, into paganism and
fairyland. The gray walls compounded of priggishness and puritanism (yet
knitted together with the mortar of good intentions and morality) with
which this civilized century has fortressed itself fall as the walls of
Jericho fell at the blast of the trumpet, and there is left sunlight and
sea and the beauty of the seven days of creation, which was pronounced
by God to be good.

The red, waxlike flowers of the pomegranate are in full bloom, and as
evening falls they glow like hot coals over the rough stone walls that
bound the path up to Capri, where the green lizards slip in and out. The
smell of the vines is in the air, heavy and warm, and once or twice as I
walked through the dusky trellises my heart hammered in me, for I knew
that but a little more and I should see Dionysus himself, with the
vine-leaves in his hair, and delicate hand holding the cup that brimmed
with purple; and at noonday often have I all but seen in the
briar-decked clefts of rock the great god Pan himself, to the music of
whose fluting the whole world dances. Up and down their steep paths,
with head erect beneath the wine-jars, walk the maidens of Capri, and
something of Aphrodite lives in their wine-painted faces and moulded
bosoms; and young Apollo, bare-footed and splashed to the knee in the
trodden vats, strips the nut-husks off with his gleaming teeth, and
looks at the passer-by with brown soft eye. He has pushed a pomegranate
flower behind his ear, and his shirt is open, so that the smooth brown
breast is seen. What thoughts fill day by day that gay, lazy Italian
brain? He is not religious, although he goes to Mass most regularly,
for from Mass he passes back again to paganism; and he only goes there
because he is a child and is vaguely afraid--or would be if he did not
go to Mass--of what the priests have told him about a remote bogie--for
so God seems to him--who can make him burn in unquenchable fires if he
does not. Nor does he weary his mind with any question of morality or
code of ethics: the sun is warm to him, or, if the sun be hot, the shade
is cool, and the almond fruit is sweet, and the fumes of the fermenting
vats mysteriously exciting, and the maiden with whom he is in treaty to
wed very fair and loving, and her dowry is good. And for the passer-by
he has his bright smile, and the expression of his hope that I have
enjoyed my bathe. No, he has not bathed to-day, for the work of the
vintage is heavy, and he is paid by the hour. Ah, a cigarette? The
signor is too kind. Will not the signor take his pomegranate flower?
Indeed the signor will.

Day by day this sunny and innocent paganism gets more possession of me,
and day by day the beauty of that which I saw at Bayreuth glows more
brightly. Yesterday, about evening, a sudden summer squall came storming
over from Posillippo, gleaming with lightning and riotous with thunder,
and to me it was Wotan who steered from the north. On Monte Solaro the
Valkyries awaited his coming, and when the whistling winds had passed
away over our heads, while the house shuddered, and the moon again rose
in a velvet sky with stars swarming thick round her, I knew that on the
mountain-top Brunehilde slept within a ring of fire, waiting for the man
who should claim her with his kiss. But the morning again to-day was
very clear and hot, and instead of going up Mount Solaro, as I had
intended, I went, as usual, down to the Bagno, a white pebbly beach with
pockets of sand to lie on. I took with me a basket of figs and a flask
of wine stoppered with vine-leaves, and my friend took a book which we
often read and a straw case of cigarettes. And together we swam through
the chrysoprase of sunlit sea far out to a brown, seaweed-covered rock.
The water was very deep round it, and fathoms down something shone very
brightly with wavering, subaqueous gleam, and, half laughing at myself,
I dived and dived--for I knew it was the Rhinegold that shone
there--until I could dive no more. Yet still I could not get deep
enough. Then, having rested, we swam back, and lay on pockets of hot
sand, and drank from the leaf-stoppered bottle, and ate the purple of
the figs; and my friend read in the book which he had brought, beginning
at the seventh chapter, and to this effect:

‘Did I seriously believe that that contemplation of God which is the
prime duty laid on us by religion must, or even could, legitimately give
us any touch of sadness of whatever kind, I would throw religion away as
heedlessly as I throw away the end of a smoked-out cigarette, for I have
no use for it. Yet although on every side, and most of all in every
pulpit, I see the lamentable Puritan jowl, and hear the lamentable
Puritan whine, which bids me look with horror on the sin of the world
and with sorrow on its sufferings, I do not for a moment believe that
this impious gabble is the result of religion, but rather of grossest
irreligion, on the part of its exponents. For me, I know that the
contemplation of God is my duty, and if I make it my whole and
absorbing duty I cannot go very far astray. For above all things is God
love, and above all things is He beauty, and the love which engirdles
Him joins without break to the human love which it is our duty always to
give and take, giving with both hands and taking by the armful. So, too,
His beauty joins without break to the beauty of all He has made, and in
the golden hair of women and in the rose-petal, in the smooth swift
limbs of youth and in the faceted diamond, in the curve of a girl’s lips
and in the rose-flushed clouds, in the blue chalice of the sky of
morning, equally and everywhere must we look for and absorb the beauty
which is implanted there.

‘It is here that Christianity, with its mournful, man-invented morality,
has gone so far astray from its Founder that many Christians turn from
beauty as if beauty was evil, instead of ever seeking it and worshipping
it, find it where they will, until the dross of their gross minds is
burned up in that fine fire. Hence, too, sprang--by “hence,” I mean from
impious Puritanism--such phrases as the “temptations and dangers of
physical beauty,” whereas to the man whose mind is set on God it is by
and through beauty that the uttermost death-stroke is dealt to the
writhing earthworm of carnalism. For the truth is that no beauty of
soul, and no completeness, was ever framed on the mutilation or
starvation of self, and at the Last Day the gray and pallid ascetic will
find that what he thought was virtue, and what he taught as
self-control, was sheer darkness of soul and purblind vision.

‘It is this that must be cast away. We are people that sit in darkness,
content that our religion should make us sad, and as such we have a
lesson humbly to learn from paganism, and in particular from the
paganism of the Greeks, whose hierarchy of gods were enthroned in
brightness, and the name thereof was Beauty. And that Beauty, the search
of which to them was worship and prayer and praise, they found
everywhere: in the sunlight and the blue dome of heaven; in the crisp,
curly acanthus leaf which they set to twine about the capitals of their
marble-hewn columns and on the necks of the vases of the dead; in the
radiance of jewels and in the tragedies of heroes; and above all in the
beauty of the human form. Disfigured and astray their worship often
went, and it wore strange garbs, but through all its sin and its
misconceptions, its thousand errors and distortions, we can see
gleaming, deep below, the bright shining of its truth. And this, to my
mind, gleams less brightly in the sadder worship of to-day.

‘For I doubt very much whether anybody is in the least benefited by the
actual sorrow or repentance of anyone, though no doubt such--especially
to sour and brooding natures--is necessary. But the best repentance, if
one has sufficient vitality, will be momentary, a fiery sword-thrust,
which will leave no ache or throb behind. It is better, I dare say, that
a man should suffer the fires of remorse for years rather than that he
should not suffer them at all, but I think that the man who is capable
of throwing his remorse off and starting fresh and unwounded is the more
Godlike creature, for the reason that it is infinitely better to be
happy and smiling than to go frowning through the world. For sin is
seldom born of a happy impulse, stare as you may, unless from a happy
impulse which has been, so to speak, shut up in the dark and has gone
putrid.

‘And here in this divine place’ (the book I am quoting from was written
at Athens), ‘where beauty is thrown broadcast over all one sees, and
happiness is so easy, it seems to me to follow as a corollary that
things which a Northern and gloomy people consider wrong are less wrong.
For supposing in foggy London every shopkeeper tried to cheat one, one
would say that the middle class was going to the dogs. Quite so--it
would be. But the middle class is not in the least going to the dogs
here. Why not? For a variety of reasons: partly because there is more
sun here and no fog, and because the Parthenon is near at hand. Ah, yes,
indeed it is so: Gaiety covers a multitude of sins, and while they are
covered, Beauty blots them out.

‘O beautiful God of this beautiful world, let me make somebody laugh
to-day. Amen.’

At that point I laughed.

‘So his prayer is heard,’ said my friend. ‘Have you eaten all the figs
while I have been reading?’

‘Yes; but don’t be unhappy. Remember it is your duty to be happy. You
may have the last cigarette. No--we’ll toss for it.’

‘I’ll be shot if we do!’ said he.

‘Well, I’ll cut it in half.’

‘So that neither of us gets any,’ said he. ‘Give it me;’ and he very
rudely snatched at it. Here ensued a scuffle, and, the bowels of the
cigarette being scattered about the beach, neither of us got any, and
the occasion gave rise to moral reflections. Also immoral ones. Then
peace and plenty descended in the shape of a friend also coming down to
bathe with a supply of fresh tobacco, and the sun was warm again and the
sea blue. Then my friend (whom I must call Toby, because he objects to
his real name being known, saying that I am certain to keep all the
beautiful remarks for myself and give him all the idiocy) held forth:

‘The man is shallow,’ he said; ‘it is only a gospel of surfaces he
preaches, and you think it profound merely because he loads it with
grave words. I have done for years exactly what he preaches: I have
succeeded in being always happy and usually gay, and I spend my whole
life in looking for what I consider beautiful. Yet what did you call me
last night? A second-hand sensualist, I think.’

‘Very likely. That is because you are not strenuous. Your pursuit of
beauty must be passionate, and the pursuit must be an act of worship.
Your pursuit of beauty is not an act of worship; it is more like sucking
sweets.’

Toby laughed loudly and idiotically.

‘Or eating all the figs,’ said he, and the discussion ended.

It is close on noon, and only the faintest breeze is stirring. The bay
is silent and waveless, except that at intervals a ripple falls like the
happy sigh of some beautiful basking creature on to the hot, white
pebbles of the beach. There, like a living sapphire, lies the dear sea,
the thing in this world I love best and understand best, though I do not
understand it at all. Never have I seen it so luminous as it is to-day;
you would say that the sunlight of centuries had been lit in its depths.
Gray rocks run out from the precipitous land, fringed with seaweed, and
under the water the seaweed shows purple. A brown-sailed fishing-boat
lies becalmed a mile out, and across the bay Naples sparkles white and
remote, and only the thin line of smoke streaming upwards from Vesuvius
speaks of the fierce and everlasting stir of forces which underlie the
world. In the thickets which come down to the water’s edge of this
tideless sea there is now no sound of life, though an hour ago they were
resonant with the whirring of the cicalas. The lizards have crept out in
the stillness and bask on the white stones, as still as if once more
Orpheus charmed them; and high above me a hawk, with wings motionless,
floats slowly, in seeming sleep, down some breeze in the upper air.

And what if my nameless author is right? What if--this is the
upshot--happiness is our first duty? It is certainly not true that if
you are good you are happy; but may it not be true that by being happy
you are in some degree good? The Puritan interpretation of Christianity
has had a fair trial, and, indeed, it seems to have made but a poor job
out of it. What is the result of all these sadnesses and renunciations?
Nothing but starved lives and unrealized ideals. Such self-denial is
touching, beautiful in theory, and based, of course, on Christ’s
teaching. But it is based awry if it brings sadness with it, if it sees
in beauty only a lure to lead the soul astray, rather than the signpost
which points by no winding road, but a royal highway, straight to God.
And that road resounds with praise, and the birds of St. Francis sit in
the pleasant boughs of the trees that grow beside it, and the dear saint
smiles at them, and says: ‘Sing, my sisters, and praise the Lord.’ And
at his bidding they fill their throats with bubbling song, and thank God
for their warm feathers and the green habitations He has builded for
them. Then St. Francis, so the legend tells us, sits down at table with
St. Blaise and others, the friends of St. Francis, and feeds his dear
birds, so that they become very strong. That saint is more to my mind
than that foolish fellow Stylites, or the dour St. Bernard, who, being
plagued with the flies on a hot day, excommunicated them, and they all
dropped down dead. For love, joy, and peace are the gifts of the Spirit,
but we are too much given to let the joy take care of itself, to check
it even, as if salvation was clothed in sackcloth.

Happiness is a home product. We cannot import it into ourselves, nor by
multiplying our pleasures can we come one whit nearer to it. But by
being dull, by being slow to perceive, or having perceived to receive,
we can, and we often do, succeed in closing the doors of our souls to
it. Yet, though it comes not from without, nor is it the sum or product
of any pleasures, our soul must sit with doors and windows open to catch
if it be but one-millionth of the myriad sweet and beautiful things that
stir and shine about us, or else, as in the darkness and stagnation of
some closed house, dust and airlessness overlay us. For there is nothing
in the world, except only that which the sin and folly of man have
wrought, which is not wholesome and innocent. It is our grossness which
makes things gross, our rebellion which makes us say that in beauty
there lurk any seeds or germs that can ripen into or go to form anything
that is not beautiful.

    ‘O world as God has made it, all is beauty,
     And knowing this is love, and love is duty:
     What further can be sought for or declared?’

       *       *       *       *       *

Seraphina and Francesco, with outside help when they want it, are the
domestic staff of Toby’s house. They are engaged to be married, and, in
fact, the marriage is going to come off in three months’ time.
Domestically speaking, this is an ideal arrangement, because if
Seraphina’s work happens on any day to be heavy (she cooks, though I
cannot call her a cook) Francesco delights to help her; while, on the
other hand, if her work is light, she lends her aid in the cleaning and
embellishment of the house, for thus she is with her _promesso_. And in
the evening, as often as not, when their work is finished, they stroll
and sit in the garden as we do, and with a little encouragement join in
our talk, and tell us the strange legends of the saints common to this
countryside, or with bated breath speak of the days of the Emperor
Tiberius, who still is the bogie of the island, so that a mother even
to-day, if a child is troublesome, warns it that Tiberius is coming.
High on the eastward end of Capri stand the ruins of one of his palaces;
the walls are built to the sheer edge of the precipitous rock, and it
was from here that he used to hurl down his victims when he was
satiated with them, flinging them headlong, a glimmer of white limbs
that turned over and over in the air till they splashed on the rocks
three hundred feet below. Round this crag still hovers some poisonous
breath of crime; sudden shrieks are heard of nights, so Francesco says,
and shadows pace in the shadows. Here, too, that dark soul used to walk
up and down in his corridor of mirrors, so that he could see that none
came up behind him with the assassin’s knife; weary of life, he yet
clung to it with a maniac force; longing for death, he fenced himself
from it with a thousand guards. ‘And on us,’ said Francesco, when he
told us of these things, with the poet that lurks in the Italian blood
suddenly inspiring his tongue--‘on us, signor, those same stars look
down that beheld Tiberius. Yet they do not care.’

In this manner we were sitting in the garden on the evening of the day
which I have been speaking of. There had been some small _festa_ in the
town, and Seraphina, to make herself the more comely in her lover’s
eyes, had put on, when her kitchen work was over, her _festa_ clothes,
even though they would only glimmer for an hour in the dusk, before she
went to bed. Her olive skin, flushed with the warm tints of wind and
sun, was dusky in the moonlight, and her brown eyes, underneath her
thin, straight eyebrows, were big and soft, as if made of velvet. But
all the gaiety of the South was set in her laughing mouth, and her teeth
were a band of ivory in the red of pomegranate. Her arms were bare above
the elbows almost to the shoulder, and beneath the smooth satiny skin,
as she moved them in Southern gesticulation at some story she was
telling us, I could see the swift and supple play of the muscles. Round
us the night was pricked with a thousand remote stars, and the warm,
languid air stirred in the bushes and sighed among the vineyards like a
lingering caress. Now and then a handful of hot air would be tossed over
us from the veranda, where the sun had grilled the flagstones all the
afternoon; now and then a breath of coolness--a handful of air that had
been shaded all day by the thick vine-leaves--stirred from its place and
refreshed us. Below gleamed the lights of Capri, and the murmur of the
town stole softly to us, or a gay stanza would be flung into the air
from some homeward-going peasant as he passed up the cobbled ways. To
the north a great emptiness of gray showed where the Gulf of Naples
basked beneath the moon, and high up on the horizon a thin necklace of
light lying along the edge of the sea showed the town. This hour of warm
night, especially with such a setting, is, to my mind, the most animal
of all. In the moon-dusk a thousand subtle scents and hints float round
one, not consciously perceived, but exciting to the primeval animal
instincts which æons of evolution have not yet eradicated from our
nature; and at such an hour the beast within us, prowling, predatory,
hot on its slinking errands, is more than ever dominant.

Soon Toby got up, stretching himself.

‘Mail-day to-morrow,’ he said, ‘and I have two letters to write. Just
get me some paper and envelopes, Francesco; there were none this
morning.’

Francesco jumped up.

‘Eh, signor, I forgot,’ he said; ‘there are none in the house. I will
run over to Capri; the shops are still open. Two minutes only;’ and he
vaulted over the wall into the road.

Toby strolled towards the house.

‘Are you coming in?’ he said to me over his shoulder.

‘Yes, in ten minutes,’ I answered, and he disappeared.

Seraphina rose also, resting her weight for a moment on her arm.

‘It is good beneath the stars in the evening, is it not?’ she said. ‘I
must go in. Happy dreams, signor!’

‘No; tell me one more story about Tiberius,’ I said.

She laughed.

‘Surely the signor is like a child,’ she said: ‘he is so fond of
stories. Will he not tell me an English story for a change?’

‘About what?’

‘About yourself or your friends--about your customs in England. I like
the ways of English folk;’ and she sat down again close to me,
eager-eyed, with smiling mouth.

Suddenly it seemed to me that the whole spirit of all I saw and felt
was changed. The soft, innocent Southern night was alive with voices. No
longer did a child sit by me, but a woman--dark-eyed like a stag,
intoxicating to the sense. Passion and desire, those headlong twins,
rushed down on me, with arms intertwined and purple-stained mouth,
chanting with a meaning that was new to me, ‘All is beauty, and knowing
this is love; and love----’ There she sat, exquisite, trembling between
girlhood and womanhood, the eternal riddle of life, to solve which men
have gladly died, and lightly dismissed honour, like a stale piece of
unlikely gossip. But----

‘It is mail-day to-morrow,’ I said, and I heard how unsteady was my
voice; ‘I also have letters to write.’

She rose at once.

‘Good-night, signor,’ she said, and turned to go to the house.

As she got further on her way, I think I would have given all I had for
her to turn back again, so that I might say--well, nothing particular,
but just let her guess, no more, that---- But she did not turn.

So, then, what of my gospel about beauty? It remains exactly where it
was, true, I believe, in every respect. Only in me, at any rate, there
lurks the beast. To-night he growled and pulled at his chain.



OCTOBER


I am come back again to the level uneventfulness of these pleasant days
with a great sense of having ‘come home’ continually with me. This
little stuccoed house with its little garden has become to me my
_angulus terræ_; the deep vibration of ‘home,’ incommunicable, and to
many unmeaning, is here; I can no longer imagine myself permanently
anywhere else. All day long I continually find, as it were, intimate
glances: the line of the downs, a group of trees, or a corner of my own
room catches my eye as one catches the eye of a friend across a roomful
of acquaintances. That glance says nothing in particular--it only means
‘I am I, you are you’--but it is only between friends that such a glance
can ever pass; soul beckons to soul with gesture invisible to others,
and a smile answers it, for it is friends who are our anchor in this
swift-rushing stream of days and years: secure there, though time
eddies in froth and flying spray about our bows, it does not whirl us
away, straw and flotsam, down the racing flood. And above us, when we
look up from our anchorage through the flying wrack of storm-cloud and
torn fringes of wind-swept vapour, there glimmer the steadfast and
immutable stars.

I left Capri, as you will have guessed, somewhat in a hurry; in fact, I
firmly and speedily ran away as hard as I could. All September, so I see
now, I had been living in the flimsiest paradise of a fool. I had
thought it was possible to detach one’s self so utterly from the joys
and frailties of the human race that one could take any liberties one
chose, look at and live in beauty, and cease to be man. Then suddenly
the flesh twitched me, and like the flowers of Klingsor’s garden my
sexless paradise fell in red ruin of autumn leaf about my ears. For me,
anyhow, such a paradise was not possible, and I had--only just--the
sense to see that it was better to live decently and dully
than--otherwise.

So I took ship at Naples and came home by sea, for why one should shut
one’s self up in a grilling box of scarlet velvet and grind along a
steel path to the din of rolling wheels, when the divine waterways are
at the door, is more than I ever could imagine. Two moments of the
voyage I shall never forget.

Out in the Bay of Biscay we had a couple of days of heavy gale, the wind
blowing from the west like a solid thing. The sea, which till then had
been calm, gradually began to get up. There was no sun, and from a gray
and infinite flatness it grew streaked and wrinkled. Then the wrinkles
began to amalgamate, every two or three wrinkles turning themselves into
one definite furrow, and the streaks formed themselves into sprayed
wave-caps. When I went to bed the ship was still fairly steady, but full
of wandering creaks and groans, and clothes hanging up on my cabin walls
whispered against the woodwork and oscillated backwards and forwards.
During the night, however, we began to pitch and roll in earnest, and,
waking once, I heard the scream of the screw whirling impotently out of
water, and the jar of straining wood and rivets. All next day the riot
of the skies and din of the seas grew greater, until, coming on to deck
after dinner, one had to dash at suitable moments over the open to gain
handhold before the next lurch. Eventually I found a corner sheltered
from the wind behind the smoking-room, and sat there with the gale
thundering madly above my head and yelling and thrumming in the
quivering rigging. The sky was quite clear and cloudless, and though
there was no moon the stars made a gray twilight overhead. As the ship
laboured on with reeling gait, the mast near above me would strike
wildly right and left through a hundred stars, scoring a black line
through the Pleiades and the Bear. For a moment Orion’s belt would be
framed between the yard-arms, the next it would plunge out of sight
behind me. Then Cassiopeia’s chair would waver over the bulwarks,
tremulously perched, and in a second, as if it was roped to some
celestial swing, would soar high to the zenith. Then the bulwarks
themselves would rise a black blot into the sky; the next moment they
reeled giddily downwards, and at my feet almost there raced by huge
dimnesses of gray sea and flying foam with veiled and luminous specks
of phosphorescent light glimmering like marine glow-worms.

Then suddenly from the deck below came a cry I have heard only once,
‘Man overboard!’ and in a moment--coming, it seemed, from nowhere--the
deck was alive with hurrying figures. The thump of the screw grew slow
and ceased, women screamed, and from a big chest near me three sailors
got out a flare-buoy--a wooden frame with a light attached to it. In a
few seconds it was lit and flung overboard, and flaring high it rose and
fell, a veritable dance of death, among the hills and valleys of the
sea. It was impossible at the pace we were going to reverse the engines
at once, for the strain would have endangered the lives of all on the
ship; but gradually as we slowed down this was done, and the churned
water from the screws hissed past us. The buoy was already far behind
us, but gradually we got nearer to it, and a boat was launched with
infinite difficulty and danger, and we lay there, the ship’s company
hanging on the lee bulwarks while it put out into the night and the
storm. There we waited, rolling and bowing to the waves for an hour
maybe, watching the flare and the light from the boat now riding high
against the horizon, now completely vanishing in the trough of some
wave. Then the flare burned out, and the boat returned. The search had
been fruitless. And slowly the thump of the screw worked its way to its
accustomed speed. The identity of the man was established, an entry was
made, and we went on again ever faster through the yellow twilight of
the stars and the big, pitiless sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second moment was next morning. The wind had gone down, though the
sea still ran high, and all heaven and earth were one incredible blue. A
sun of transcendent brilliance flamed overhead, and not a cloud flecked
the huge azure dome. Below the great translucent waves were at play in
jovial boisterousness; the blue monsters flung themselves against the
black side of the ship and were shattered into a cloud of dazzling
white, which as it rose into the air was momently iridescent with
rainbow--a high-day of delight. About eleven of the morning a sudden
whisper and rumour ran round the ship, and by degrees the sequel of
that tragic hour last night was made known. The wife of the man who had
fallen overboard the night before was with child, and the shock had
brought on a premature delivery, and she had died. But the child lived,
and in all probability would do well. So June had its tale repeated
again, and when the weighted shroud slid into that ocean of brightness,
wavered subaqueously and disappeared, I could have sworn for a moment
that a sudden waft of the smell of sweet-peas pierced the pungency of
the sea.

So both lie there in the depths of the unquiet Bay, though leagues
apart. Will those two poor tabernacles of mortality, I cannot but
wonder, find some subtle mode of telegraphy in their green sea-caves,
and speak to each other, or go to each other across the ooze of the
depths, moved by some thresh of current? Or will they have to wait there
patiently in their crystal tombs till the sea gives up its dead, and
they float up as the chrysalis of the dragon-fly floats up through the
water, to find that the new heaven and the new earth are fair at the
dawning of the supreme day? Such was the incident of my home-coming: in
the midst of life there was death, and in the midst of death, life. It
is always so.

       *       *       *       *       *

The long, dark evenings are beginning, but day after day unclouded
October weather, with its brisk air and its exquisite clarity and
luminousness, prevails. It reminds one of nothing in the world so much
as a boy’s soprano; nothing else in the world gives one the sense of
such absolute perfection and purity of vehicle--the one expressed in
terms of light, the other of sound. And as the boy’s voice rises and
fills the great spaces of some sunlit cathedral, so this light pervades
these aisles of yellowing trees and spaces of swelling downland. About
each there is the same piercing, pervading quality; about each there is
an utter absence of all passion or emotion. A woman’s voice, it seems to
me, is like the mature light of summer, broad, full of feeling, full of
the tenderness of sex. But in this October weather you have mere
brightness; in the air there is a certain chill, which gives the
precision that the warm, flower-blurred light of summer lacks. It
promises nothing like the languors and brightnesses of spring, it gives
no fulfilment like the noons of summer; it is just itself--exquisite,
meaningless, and at times horribly sad. For the year has turned; we have
had our bright and our beautiful times, and they are over, and soon will
be the season of long, dark evenings; and the blear-eyed peerings of the
remote sun through the fogs of November. In the winter, too, there is
something of the hibernating spirit about us; we dream and doze, and
vitality sometimes burns a little low, and age looks over our shoulder,
and we tend to be possessed with the Spirit of the falling leaf.

Now, the Spirit of the falling leaf is a most unprofitable demon. To
dwell on the thought of decay and age and death cannot, I believe, be
salutary for anybody. _Pereunt et imputantur._ That motto, surely, was
written by an atheist and an idiot. For, in the first place, the hours
that go so swiftly by do not perish--each hour that passes goes to form
the present; what we did or were then is exactly that which makes us
what we are now. And if we are to seriously give our minds to the
contemplation of what is written up against us in the ledger-book of the
hours that have passed, we shall, if we have any conscience at all,
only secure for ourselves paralysis in the future. No decently-minded
man, if he dwells on his missed opportunities with any honesty, can
possibly raise his head again. A lively repentance sets its face
steadily forwards, never backwards.

This Spirit of the falling leaf is my especial foe, and I detest him
with all the fervour of familiarity. Every autumn he whispers to me,
‘Look at the trees from which the yellow leaves are falling slowly,
slowly, but steadily. Soon they will be quite bare; their summer is
over, a year is gone. But they will renew their youth in the spring, the
green buds will burst again, and June will laugh among the revivified
branches, and the birds will again make there a melodious habitation.
But no spring will renew you; each year you are older; your spring is
past, and your summer days will not come again.’ And I turn cold.

Now, though the Spirit of the falling leaf may speak the truth, that is
one of the truths which it is our duty steadily to ignore. What is past
is past; but to-day, at any rate, lies in front of us; to-day is our
immediate and vital concern, and if we are fortunate enough to live
till to-morrow, to-morrow will be our vital concern. No, to talk with
the Spirit of the falling leaf is to invite paralysis of the soul. It is
wise to guard against such paralysis by that simple antidote which is
within the reach of everybody, and its name is Work.

    ‘How well I know what I mean to do
     When the long dark autumn evenings come!’

There speaks the healthful man. Browning set himself to read Greek,
prose, he tells us, not poetry now, for he was old. Yet so green and
full of immortal youth were his years, that in his reverie, dwelling on
the past, no falling-leaf dirge comes to his lips, but the passionate
lyric rapture of love relived. But the point just now is that when the
autumn evenings were near he gave himself a task, set himself to do
something, opened a bottle of the only real tonic the world contains,
which is work. And most of us certainly need that tonic more in winter
than in summer. In summer the mere fact that we sit at the great banquet
of the spectacle of sun and flowers and green things is royal
entertainment. But the year turns, the lights burn lower, and we have to
employ ourselves; but, like children in the dark, we quake at the
gathering shadows.

What one sets one’s self to do matters nothing in comparison of the main
point, namely, that we set ourselves to do something, for any
employment, so long as it is not harmful, is essentially good. Many of
us have our ordinary work to do, which takes most of the day now days
are short. In the summer, perhaps, we were accustomed, when the day’s
work was over, to be out-of-doors; but now, in these lengthening nights,
we have to seek our employment inside. The great thing, then, is to do
something definite, and to do it seriously. To read the whole of
Shakespeare before next March is one employment that recommends itself
to me, but supposing the choice was made for me by another, who told me
that bridge was to be my winter employment, I should be quite content.
But in that case I should try very hard to get rid by March of the fatal
indecision which prompts one sometimes to make spades, sometimes no
trumps, out of practically the same hand. I should try to establish
once and for all the best suit to play if my partner doubles no trumps.
I should try to find out definitely what chance of success certain heavy
finesses have, and act accordingly, and I should consider that I had
wasted my winter if by next March I had not improved out of recognition.
But what I hope I should not do would be to play slackly, for in that
case one might as well talk to the Spirit of the falling leaf at once.

Meantime October is to me personally the month when I am most beset by
this spirit, for October is full of the sweet and tender memories of
certain people, very near to me, who are dead. Two days in particular
stand out, of which one was spent on the sea on my return from Naples,
and the other, October 27, will be here in a few days. On that day the
psalm for the evening, you will remember, is ‘When the Lord turned again
the captivity of Zion.’ It was the anthem, you know, in Winchester
Cathedral on the night when Henry Esmond returned, when his ‘dear
mistress’ looked up and saw the sunshine round his head as they sang
‘bringing their sheaves with them.’ And she came to him and blessed
him.

That immortal scene has in my own mind got so intertwined with my own
memories of the 27th of October that I cannot disentangle them. Twice, I
remember, I saw Margery again after a long absence on the 27th, and with
the tender memory of one who is dead there always wreathes itself the
other association of the return of someone beloved. Dimly, as if the
future would fulfil some dream of years ago, I picture some great joy
coming to me on that day. I think that on that day I shall return from
some captivity, and find that my life has been but a dream in the light
of what shall be; that I shall have a joyful reaping--God knows what or
how--for certain seed I have sown in tears; that some empty granary in
my heart shall be made full of golden grain.

September was a month of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ in England, and I have
returned to find my garden gone rampant. Somehow growth in autumn is
utterly unlike summer growth in its wild opulence, as if the dear plants
knew that it was nearly time for them to go to bed, but were determined
to have one great romp first. A huge nasturtium, like a boisterous
schoolboy, has sprung on to a Gloire de Dijon and is wrestling with it.
A canariensis which I thought was finished has played hide-and-seek all
over the trellis of the shelter until it met a wandering eccremocarpus,
which it instantly embraced like a long-lost brother, and the sunshine
of the flowers of the one is mixed with the orange trumpet of the other.
Phloxes are still in flower, sunflowers have topped the garden wall, and
the beautiful sylvestris is vigorous with pale leaf and snowy flower.
But--only fancy--that vile Jackmanni is dead. Quite dead. God forgive it
for a senseless fool.

       *       *       *       *       *

These golden October days! Every morning I stray out before breakfast,
sometimes only into the garden, sometimes as far as the water-meadows,
to find the same glorious return of day. This morning the least pallor
of hoar-frost was on the grass, and the clean smell of the morning was
more exquisite than all the perfumes of Arabia. A tall chestnut had
grown very suddenly yellow--how delightful if our hair turned brilliant
gold (it does sometimes) when we grew old!--and the leaves were dropping
one by one, without twist or turn, in the calm air, till a heap of
unminted gold lay underneath the tree. Every now and then there was a
thump on the grass, and the green rind of the chestnut fruit, split by
the blow, jerked out its smooth and glossy globes. The chalk-streams
flowing through the meadows were full and brimming, streams of living
water, and the luxuriant grasses, grown to their longest, swam and
dabbled in the flawless crystal. How good it was to breathe the chill of
the morning, to look across the emerald of the meadows to the red town
in the hollow, full of clustering roofs, over which the mists lay thin
and level, pricked by the gray towers and solemn steeples which show
golden in the clearness of the upper air! Then back to breakfast, and to
this long quiet morning of work by the open window, interrupted only by
the rapturous contemplation of a man in the road trying to drive a
tandem. The leaders thought otherwise and went in different directions.

       *       *       *       *       *

To-day is the 26th, and the march of these golden days has been suddenly
interrupted. Last night I awoke to hear a great wind rattling at the
panes, and snoring and fluting in the chimneys; and this morning,
instead of the yellow sunshine, I find a gray and tattered sky of low
storm-clouds, and sheets of driving rain flung against the windows. The
flowers in the garden cower beneath the stinging lashes of water, and
weep their petals silently away. A tree was blown down in the night not
far from the house--an elm growing in a hedgerow--and a cruel gaping
wound of torn earth has opened, with the fibres of the root like
tortured and exposed nerves standing out into the air. For thirty yards
round the field is littered with the pitiful debris--torn branches,
bunches of leaf, even a couple of bird’s-nests. For it, poor soul!
autumn has been the end of life, and spring will not build it anew.

All day the streaming heavens weep their violent and blinding tears, and
the loud gale fills me with vague and intolerable apprehension. Like a
lost soul it moans round the corners of the house, and through the
cracks of the closed windows it whistles in descending and ascending
chromatic scale. Now and then there comes a lull, but again it breaks
out in a hooting maniac chorus, as if Bedlam were loose. The tattoo of
the rain on the glass joins in the hurly-burly, and the swish and gurgle
of the water down the roof-pipes lends a chuckling evil accompaniment.
It is intolerable; there is the pain of hell and a certain hellish glee
in this scream and riot. It is as if some lost soul cried aloud from its
agony, yet exulted in its disobedience to God’s law. ‘Punish me, punish
me!’ it seems to say; ‘never will I repent. It was You who made me, You
who let my path on earth be hedged about with snare and temptation, and
when I fall into the pits You have allowed to be digged, You say that I
have sinned, and for that sin I burn in the fires of hell. But are You
more at Your ease on the golden throne before the crystal sea? You will
forgive me if I repent? A thousand thanks. But I will never repent, and
I will never forgive You.’

Hell is loose, and swarms round me. The poor souls whom the Will of God
caused to be made--have they not a right to resent their birth, if they
are born to pain only and hopeless struggling? And if for a while they
forget the evil plight into which they by no fault of theirs have been
born, by tasting pleasures which a code--to them merely arbitrary--has
labelled sinful, by what justice shall they be punished? Human justice
at least would be less merciless. Is it just to make a frail thing like
a man, place him in the midst of temptation, and then punish him because
he falls? Supposing I buy a doll at a toy shop, and place it insecurely
on the edge of a table and it falls off, is it just that I should then
whip it? Or go a step further, and grant that I can endow that doll with
consciousness, _so that it has an existence separate from mine_--may I
whip it then? Is it not the most elementary justice that I should
respect the free-will with which I have endowed it? But if it has a
consciousness which is yet not separate from mine, then I punish myself
if I punish it for transgressing laws which are of my own making. I, in
fact, have transgressed my own laws. In that case I had better repeal
them.

Now, possession of the devil is a very real thing, and though I hold
that in the majority of cases--they occur to each one of us every
day--the best thing to do is to run away if you possibly can, not stop
and argue, there are occasions, and this seemed to me to be one, where
you cannot run away, for you are with your back to the wall, and have to
fight. So I fought, and I am glad to be able to say that the devil was
sorry he spoke. For, as always, he is a very shallow fellow, and though
with his loud words--the gale to help him outside--he had seemed very
convincing for the moment, I think I never heard a sorrier argument than
his. He suggests, so I take it, the repeal of all moral laws: the
binding force of them is to vanish. What will happen then? The child
crossing the street will be driven over by the first carriage, and left
to lie there with broken limbs till the next ends its torture. I shall
go out of my house to-morrow and be clubbed by two men, who will rob me,
who in turn will be clubbed and robbed by three. In ten days--I wager my
immortal soul on this--the kingdoms of the world will be entirely in the
hands of a dozen men, all strong, all fearing each other, and desiring
to get rid of each other. For reasons of self-preservation they will
sign a contract that they will not kill, injure, or rob each other.
Moral law has therefore begun again, for it is necessary for the
preservation of human life. Next day they will sign another contract to
protect their women and children, and before the year is out they will
have found it necessary to have in force every human moral law that
exists to-day. If it were not so, those laws could never have existed.
Once more the spirit of good triumphs over the spirit of evil. God does
not punish us; it is our own punishment which we inflict on ourselves
each time that we, in ever so slight a degree, do anything which tends
towards that chaos which must exist without morality.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gale has blown itself tired, and now, as I stand on the doorstep
about midnight, looking out, an extraordinary peace prevails. The moon
is high in heaven, bare of clouds, and the air is utterly calm and
windless. It seemed to me impossible only a few hours ago that so serene
a tranquillity should succeed the wild riot of to-day. And steadfast
remain the stars; they have not, as seemed almost inevitable, been
blown, like those heaps of dead leaves, about the floor of the skies, so
that one quarter was bare, while in another the Pleiades had been blown
against the Twins, and Orion sat on Cassiopeia’s chair.

       *       *       *       *       *

The morning of the 27th was of the same pellucid serenity as the
midnight before. The trees were much barer than they had been
twenty-four hours before, and the inimitable tracery of the branches
against the sky was outlined with the precision of the South. The sun
was extraordinarily warm, and I sat out for an hour in the morning to
the chuckling of birds in the bushes and an unread paper. Then in the
afternoon I went to the cathedral for the evening service.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has happened. For years past, as you know, I have felt certain it
would happen on this day, and when it happened I knew it could not have
been otherwise. Thus:

The service was at half-past three, and I got to the cathedral, I
suppose, some five minutes before it began, and was given a stall on the
south side. Through the windows behind me the sun streamed low--nearly
level--for it was not far from its setting, and I lived over again a
certain October 27, years ago, when I got home too late, and knew that
one of the sweetest and dearest souls that ever lived on earth had gone
home. It was just such a day as this, bright and unclouded, and even
then, on the day itself, I felt it wholly impossible to be sad. It was
all right with the world, then as always, and God, as always, was in His
heaven. We walked all together--those of us who were left--through the
woods, and it was right and meet that the sun shone, and that we
recalled and spoke of her merriness, and were ourselves merry with the
memory. Then my two strange meetings with Margery, also on this day,
intertwined themselves with the other: it was a day of home-coming.

At this point I became aware that I could not have been attending to the
service, for automatically, with the rest of the congregation, I rose
from my knees for the Psalms. No chant was played over, but a long pedal
note from the organ vibrated in the carved stalls, and at the first
chord the choir began. And they sang, ‘When the Lord turned again the
captivity of Zion, then were we like unto them that dreamed.’ I did not
need to open the big Prayer-Book, and for the first time I looked up.

Opposite me stood--Margery. And the sunlight was round her head.

It could not be Margery, for she is dead. Only when I looked up my brain
said ‘Margery.’



NOVEMBER


When the service was over, I waited by the west front watching the
congregation stream out of the gray gloom inside into the
primrose-coloured lights of sunset. There were two big collies sitting
patiently side by side on the edge of the grass, looking with liquid,
eager eyes at the people coming out. Suddenly two tails began to thump
ecstatically, but neither dog moved. It was She--I think I knew from
their eagerness it could be none else. With a smile lurking in her eyes,
she walked to them, and from where I was I could hear her say, ‘Dear
angels! come along,’ and two tawny streaks fled over the grass.

I waited a little, then followed her. She turned southwards out of the
Close, over the bridge, below which the big trout lie, and into the path
through the water-meadows, the two tawny streaks cutting figures like a
swallow’s flight up and down the road, running at top speed just for the
joy of the life that was in them. And once clear of the town, she looked
furtively round, saw only one wayfarer a hundred yards behind, and ran
too. The wayfarer quickened his pace, ready to drop into a sedate walk
if she looked round. Then on the edge of the water she found a stick,
and, whistling to the dogs, threw it clean across the river, and a
double plunge and splash of flying spray followed it. Then the streaks
swam back, each holding an end of the beloved stick, dropped it at her
feet, and, one on each side of her, shook themselves, so that she was
between the waters, and I heard a faint scream of dismay and then a
laugh. My house stands in the road close beyond the end of the meadows,
but she went on, and still I followed, past the group of labourers’
cottages, where lights were already springing up beneath the dark
thatch, and out on to the main-road. And at that moment I guessed where
she would go. Yes, to that house--no other--the house where Margery
lived, the house which was the scene of my dark dreams in August last.
The collies rudely pushed their way in before her, after the manner of
their impulsive kind, and the door was shut.

I was dining that evening with some people in the town, and met there an
old friend of mine who lives a mile or two from here, who has usually
some fault to find with me. She had this evening.

‘You are a perfect disgrace,’ she said. ‘We consider you an old
inhabitant of the town, and yet when new and charming people come you
cannot find the civility even to leave a card.’

‘I am sorry,’ said I penitently. ‘Who are they? You know, I have been
away.’

‘Well, they are coming here to-night,’ she said.

‘My dear lady, _who_ are coming here to-night?’

Then the door opened, and they came, father and daughter.

This afternoon I went up the dark road of my dreams to call. She had
said they would not be in till nearly six, and it was already deep dusk
when I reached the house, which stood a black blot against the gray sky.
But the window over the porch was lit and open, and the blind drawn
down over it, and from inside came a voice singing. I was admitted, but
the hall was dark, and as the servant was feeling for the button of the
electric light, a step passed along the passage at the head of the
stairs and began to descend, and it was a step that caught my ear with a
strangely familiar sound. Then halfway down, even at the moment the
light was turned up, it paused, and a voice said, ‘Oh! is there
somebody?’ and in the sudden blaze I saw her, and the passages were dark
no longer.

‘Ah, it’s you,’ she said; ‘how nice of you to come! Oh, I’ve left the
dogs shut up. Please go into the drawing-room; I’ll be there in a
moment.’

So I turned up the hall, to the right, and through the little
sitting-room into the drawing-room beyond. She came in a moment
afterwards.

‘How did you know where the drawing-room was?’ she said. ‘Isn’t it the
most inconveniently built house you ever saw?’

‘The most,’ said I; ‘but I know it well. There was a great friend of
mine who used to live here----’

She looked up suddenly.

‘Dick, do you mean,’ she asked, ‘who was killed in South Africa? He was
a distant cousin of mine.’

‘Then his wife was, too?’ said I.

‘Yes, I believe so. Why?’

‘It partly accounts for it.’

‘Accounts for what?’ she said.

‘That you are absolutely the living image of her.’

She laughed again.

‘Oh dear! it is a terrible responsibility to be like an old acquaintance
of somebody’s. I shall have to live up to her. I do hope she wasn’t very
nice. It will be so difficult for me if she was.’

‘She and Dick were the greatest friends I ever had,’ said I.

Those beautiful gray eyes grew serious.

‘Ah, how dreadful for you!’ she said. ‘It was all very sudden, was it
not? The child, too!’

‘Yes, very sudden. I had been dining with her here, and she had gone
upstairs when the telegram came. She heard the ring, and leaned over
the banisters above the hall, and knew. Then the child was born. She
died just at day-break next morning. She asked me, I remember, to pull
up the blind, and said, “Let in the morning.” That was all.’

‘Ah, poor thing--poor thing!’ she said. Then she looked up at me: ‘Poor
thing!’ she repeated.

The tea was brought in, and before many minutes her father came in also.
They are coming to lunch to-morrow.

That night I was out to dinner, but came home early and sat for a long
time in front of the fire, with work calling on me to do it, but simply
incapable. What a strange, inexplicable coincidence it all is! How I
long for, and dread, and love, and fear, the thought of these days that
are coming! Surely this is meant to mean something! Think of the
millions of little events and decisions which have gone to make up this
particular conjuncture. Is it possible that they were all done in
haphazard? Or is it another teasing problem that has been set me on the
curious chequer-board of life, ending in my checkmate? just a piece of
ingenious manœuvring of the pieces, all leading to nothing? I cannot
believe that. Yet if it is not that, if love is the answer to it all....

I love to be with her, and since that afternoon in the cathedral I have
thought of nothing but her. But love her? I know it is not that--yet. It
is, that, by this curious trick which Nature has played, I feel--I am
cheated into feeling--that Margery is here with me again. It is as if
there had been made an image of Margery, like in every respect, not only
in externals, in voice, appearance, gesture, but in the deeper things as
well--in her gaiety, her tenderness, and in that quick sympathy which
sprang into being at the moment the call was made. Yet God never makes
facsimiles; she, too, is a living soul, of her own identity, and none
other’s. Or--the wildest impossibilities riot in my brain to-night--is
this some wraith of my Margery--Dick’s Margery--sent, God knows from
where, to comfort me or to drive me insane? Was there in my love for
Margery, after she was Dick’s wife, something which was evil, which kept
suggesting, ‘If this had been otherwise--if Dick died?’... Yes, there
was that. Day after day there was that. I tried to fight it--indeed I
tried. But I did not conquer it for a whole year. But in June, on the
last evening of all, when she spoke to me in the garden of the dear
event that was coming, it dropped dead, or so I hoped and believed. Yet
for a whole year I let it live: is God going to punish me for that by
these cruel means? To make me love again, and again go hungry?

It cannot be; again and again I tell myself it cannot be. But so I told
myself when the telegram of Dick’s death came, and in spite of all my
telling it was true, and the tears of the whole world could not wash out
a word of it. But if once more I am to go unrequited, I do not see how I
can bear it. It would be wiser to see no more of this incarnation of
Margery. At present I love seeing her, because--because that pressed and
withered flower I always carry with me has, so to speak, blushed again
with the hues of life, and a living fragrance breathes from it. But
Helen--I think I have not mentioned her name before--this incarnation of
Margery, is also a living woman, with an identity of her own. How if
from loving her of whom she so sweetly and poignantly reminds me I pass
to loving the woman herself? And if she does not care?

No, I will see her no more. My life is my own, and I will not risk that
great stake again. I know the unutterable sweetness of loving. I know,
too, the unutterable emptiness of love unrequited, even though from her
who loved me not I had such a wealth of tender and womanly affection. I
know also how good the world is, how full and brimming with things that
are lovely and of good report. For two years, in spite of what went
before, God knows how much happiness I have been allowed to enjoy, how
rich I have been, levying my tax of joy on all created things, finding
music in all the strings of human emotions except one only--love,
definite love for one woman. It is strange if I cannot be content
without it. True, often and often I have felt, and shall feel again,
that this would crown all the rest; but if I again do my part in it, let
myself love this girl, and nothing comes of it, how well I know with
what a sense of dejection and impotence I shall have to begin again from
the beginning, picking up the scattered pieces of the structure known as
‘I,’ fitting them together till some sort of coherent entity, a person
of some kind, again pursues some sort of reasonable way through the
world! And I distrust my own power of picking myself up again; I am
afraid that this time I should let the pieces lie about, shrug shoulders
at them, and drift, fossilize, vegetate, what you will.

Bitterness as black as sin and salt as the Dead Sea rises in my throat.
What would I not give to see a mother with her child--my child--at her
breast? How unspeakably I long for that! Was it my fault that Margery
loved Dick, not me? Very good, it was my fault. I have borne the
punishment, and I bear it now, and I shall always bear it; and I will
try to avoid the possibility of being punished for another such fault.

       *       *       *       *       *

So I fall back again on my life of little things. I will read the whole
of Shakespeare through by next March; I will know a little more about
gardening by next spring; I will try to keep my temper; I will try to do
a little honest work at a book I am engaged on; I will try, dancing here
with the rest of the human race, like a swarm of flies in the sunlight,
or, if you will, like worms in the dust, not to sting and wriggle; and I
will try not to behave again as I behaved this morning, in this manner,
to wit:

A small boy ‘does’ the shoes, boots, and knives of this establishment.
He is blessed with sky-scraping spirits and a piercing whistle. He likes
taking the boots up to my bedroom, because he slides down the banisters
afterwards. I have frequently told him not to. This morning he whistled
so loudly and continuously that I told myself it disturbed me, though,
as a matter of fact, it did not, and I knew it. But without effort
almost I worked myself into a fume of nagging ill-temper over it.
Shortly after I heard him taking the boots up to my bedroom, and
deliberately, like a spy, went to the door of the room where I was
working, and held it ajar so that I might catch him sliding down the
banisters. I was gorgeously successful, stood before him as he landed at
the bottom with a face of April, and looked at him with an odious and
baleful countenance till April fled. I wrung from him the admission that
he had often been told not to do this, and assured him that if he could
not remember it was perfectly easy for me to find someone who could.
Then I went back to work again with a sort of fiendish pleasure at
having spoiled somebody’s happiness, though it was only a boot-boy’s.
There was no more whistling from downstairs, and I congratulated myself
on having secured tranquillity also at one fell swoop.

But after awhile the fiend within me, satiated, I suppose, by its
brilliant achievement, dozed a little, and I felt simply sick at heart.
Here was the worm in the dust stinging in its tiny, infinitesimal way,
but with what infinity of malice! I would have given a great deal to
have heard that shrill, unmelodious whistle strike up again, but it did
not. Dead silence all morning. Then at lunch--coals of fire on my
head--the knives winked with resplendence and cut like razors. Yet by
the silly nature of things I cannot go into the boot-place and say I am
sorry. I had told him again and again not to slide down the banisters--I
had indeed. But if he does not whistle to-morrow morning I shall have to
raise his wages.

That is another thing, then, I propose to cease doing by next
March--that is to say, to cease transgressing against the supreme and
perfect law of kindness and gentleness. I do not mean that I will have
any sliding down the banisters, for I will not; but, on the other hand,
I will not have myself, especially in little things, behaving like a
cross-grained fiend. I could have stopped the banisters business without
that, while, on the other hand, it would have been infinitely better all
round that he should have continued to slide down the banister from morn
till eve, than that I should have wished and intended (and succeeded
therein) to spoil a child’s happiness, if only for a morning, though it
was in consequence of a direct act of disobedience, which I am perfectly
right in resenting. And this is the supreme and perfect law of kindness.

       *       *       *       *       *

It seems as if these golden days of sparkling sunshine and nights of
clear frost will never end, but rise and still rise as out of some great
well of light. Never do I remember such a November--windless, exquisite,
so that the glory of scarlet leaf, usually so swiftly gone and
evanescent, scattered into ruin by an hour’s wind, still flames in this
long-drawn sunset of the year. Prey as I always am to the exaltations
and depressions of the weather, it seems to me that I am living in some
fairy story, as if the wicked witch who squirts the fogs and damps over
the world was dead, and the good fairy of clear skies, though she cannot
put the clock of the months back to summer, had allowed the seasons to
stand still at this beautiful moment, to make up to us a little for all
that we have suffered at the hands of the wicked witch. Everything has
paused, and in those affairs which chiefly concern me there is a pause
too--exquisite, golden. How the pause will end I cannot tell--in
sounding ruin of rain, or the bursting of spring instead of the clasp of
winter. All I know is that before long I shall find that the pause is
over, and on that day I shall be sitting in fallen darkness, idly
fingering in the palpable dusk the broken fragments of myself that lie
round me; or even in this November I shall go out into the fields and
find that, instead of the icy hand of winter gripping them, it will be
spring instead. For the winter will be passed, and the flowers appear on
the earth; the time of singing birds is come. Arise, my love, my fair
one, and come away.

Yes, it is even so, and I, who, a few nights ago only, determined to
keep aloof from all possibility of this, preferring to stifle and drown
the best of one’s nature, for fear of being thrown out of gear as
regards the second best, am led captive, glorying in the chain which,
please God, I shall never be able to break. How witless and impotent is
man, how futile and unreasonable all his reasonings, when love, like
dawn, lights with rosy feet on his dark horizons, and the morning mists
of all the schemes he has made, all rules and designs of life, vanish
and have never been.

For what was I trying to do? To turn this garden of the Lord into a
desert, to withdraw light from the day, love from life; when, had I
known, it is love which turns the desert into the garden, into the home
of one’s soul.

                          ‘And thou
    Beside me singing in the wilderness,
    The wilderness were Paradise enow.’

How did it happen? How did it happen? Ah, it is because we do not know
that it is so exquisite.

But the manner of it was this:

They came, as you know, to lunch some three days ago, and I dined there
next day, though I had made up my mind, as you also know, not to see her
again. That was my plan, and the sweet rain of blows battered it down
and crushed it with supreme and certain suddenness. One moment--it was
after dinner, I remember, and we were playing cards--I was looking at
her, seeing in every line of her face that friend whom I had lost, and
the next she looked up, and in her eye there sat, not Margery nor
another, but Helen, wraith no longer, but herself. And as at that
moment, now three years ago, when Margery, with the sun kindling her
hair, said, ‘It’s going in; what a darling!’ even so now I surrendered;
I gave up all I had or was. The moment was to me so tremendous that I
felt as if the whole world must know it. But even she did not know it,
for she smiled and said, ‘I think there must be another in,’ and played
the thirteenth card, losing the game for herself and me.

Is it not prosaic that I remember that? Yes, if you wish, but it is just
that prosaicness which makes the romance of life, the intertwining of
the common little everyday affairs with the great lords of romance, Love
and Death, who by their presence lift life entire into their domain, so
that nothing is common or commonplace.

That night, as I walked home, it seemed to me that never before had
Margery been so close to me. Do you know how sometimes you can almost
_hear_ a voice you are familiar with, so that it seems as if the person
to whom it belongs had just spoken? It was so with me. Each moment it
seemed as if she had just said something to me, and I waited and waited
for what she should say next. Each moment I expected to see her walking
by me, her arm in mine, as we had walked together in the garden the
evening before she died. She knew, I must believe, what had happened,
and, like the dear friend she always was, she came to tell me, as far as
the laws of her world permitted, that she was glad. Yet some immense
but subtle change had come over our relations; less dear she could not
be, but I no longer ached for her. And that, too, I think she knew, and
at that also she was glad.

Again that night I sat long by the fire, where those visions and inhuman
schemes of self-isolation and petty mediocrity had beset me a few
evenings ago. How infinitesimal had been their scope, and, thank God,
how futile they proved! Like some timid child, my soul had sat shivering
on the brink of the great ocean of human life, not daring to put out,
distrusting the frail vessel which should carry it towards the golden
island which no man can reach unless he adventures. Even then the golden
gleam shone on me; I saw the bright shining of those shores, and turned
my face earthwards, saying that it was good to play with the shells and
seaweed on the beach. Every day those waters which divide us from the
golden island are thick with sails; every day hundreds of happy
adventurers land on its shores; every day, too, hundreds are
shipwrecked. But for me the wind beckons, my vessel flaps its sail, and
though I do not cast away the shells and seaweeds I have gathered, I put
them in my locker and think no more of them just now. The tide favours:
my vessel tugs its chain, and I put out.



DECEMBER


Snow over all, and it is summer. Frost binds the icy fields, and in my
heart every nightingale in the world makes melody. The bare trees are
hung with icicles, and a shrill wind whistles through them; yet to me
they are the green habitations of mating birds, and in the hedgerows,
with their mask of snow where the wind has drifted it, are the nests of
the hedge-sparrows with the blue eggs that reflect the skies of April.
December! Was there ever such a December? All the honey of the summer,
all the warmth of the long days, all the mellow autumn, all the promise
of spring, is gathered here into one sheaf--the sheaf that we put in the
chancel at the harvest festival, symbol of offering, symbol of the
fruitful, kindly earth offering in kind to the Lord of the harvest.

Did you see the sun to-day about eleven in the morning come suddenly out
through parted clouds and shine on the great fields of virgin snow? He
came on purpose to see me. Did you see the maddened whirl of the
snow-flakes in the afternoon flying in eddies through the air? They were
dancing together at my party. I engaged them to dance. They did it well,
did they not? Did you hear the cathedral bells ringing this afternoon,
sounding dim and deep through the snow? They were also my guests.
Everything in the world to-day was my guest, and stars were ranged on my
ceiling, and the Pleiades lay in my hand, and close by my heart there
lay the moon, and it was not cold, as it looks, but warm.

Day after day and all day, night after night and all night, I have
dreamed of the moon, loving it, desiring it. And last night I dreamed
that I cast a slender silver thread into the sky, which caught the moon,
and I drew it closer and closer to myself, till it rested on my heart.
And it was not the moon at all, but the heart of a woman, beating full
and strong. And the wonder of it is that the moon is mine. You shall see
it sometimes, you other people on the earth, but all the time it is
mine. I know, too, the other side of it, when we are alone together.
You cannot see that, and you will never see it. The moon says it is all
for me.

To-day the moon had to be away all day, but the silver thread was
between us (it leads to the other side of the moon), so I scarcely
envied the folks in London, who would see her face merely. Yet all day I
fevered for evening, and as evening approached my fever abated not. But
you came back, my moon, and we were together again. Other people were
there, and for them, as for me, melody after melody flowed from the
sweet stress of your fingers. They heard only, but I knew, and to me the
sound revealed not the poor clay that wrote those exquisite notes, but
you who played them. Your soul it was, not Schubert’s, that shone in the
symphony that shall never be finished; your soul, not Beethoven’s, was
passion and pathos--you, not he, turned night into a flame, and in that
flame I burned and was consumed, happy as the gods are happy, and
happier because I was not content. I shall never be content.

Oh, my own who did this, thanks is no word between you and me. Do we
thank the star that shines in the dark-blue velvet of the skies? We gaze
only, and are drawn thither. For we thank a giver for a human gift; it
is in silence that we give thanks for the things that are divine. Oh, I
try to speak of what cannot be spoken! Who shall set words to your
music?

Let me picture you again, with face half turned from where I sat, tuning
the keys which I thought so rebellious into a rain of enchanted harmony.
Rebellious, too, was your hair, rising upward in waves of smouldering
gold from your face. And through Schubert you spoke to me, he but the
medium or the alphabet of your thought, and I was almost jealous of the
dead because he touched the tips of your fingers. Then from the trim
garden at Leipsic spoke that sweet formal soul, a message of
congratulation to me, or so I took it, and Beethoven with fuller voice
said the same, and from frozen Poland and from wind-beaten Majorca came
another smile. And when those sweet words were done, came other sweet
words without interpreter; and the room was emptied and the larger
lights were quenched, and only on the walls leaped the shadows and the
shine of the flames that plunged on the hearth. Once by night the Temple
was bright to the prophet with the glory of the Lord, and the hot coal
from the altar opened and inspired his lips. With what new vision and
eyes enlightened must he have looked on the world after that night when
God revealed Himself. And by this revelation which has come to me all
things are made new, winter is turned to spring, the lonely places are
desert no more, and the whole world is in flower with the royal purple
of the blossoms of Love.

And now that I know it was inevitable from the first, I can hardly
believe that it was I who only a few weeks ago made plans to force
myself from the possibility. It was ordained from the beginning, and the
patient march of the centuries, every step, every year, was bringing us
together; myriads of subtle influences conspired to work it, and how
excellent is the miracle they have made! Sunlight and wind, and the love
and sorrow and joy of a thousand generations, have made the body and
soul of this girl; for me was she predestined, and for me has the whole
creation laboured. Blindly but inevitably it wrought, even as the shell
deep in some blue cave of the ocean thinks only that some piece of grit
has got between its iridescent valves, yet all the time it is busy
making the pearl that shall lie on the neck of some queen yet unborn.

An immense silence and whiteness lies over the whole earth. Snow fell a
week ago, then came several nights of frost, and to-day again a fresh
mantle of white was laid down. All roughnesses and inequalities are
smoothed away. The whole land lies in delicate curves, swelling and
subsiding in gradations too fine to follow. With bar and chevron, and a
million devices of this celestial heraldry, trees and palings are
outlined and emblazoned, and in the graveyard opposite the tombstones
are capped with whiteness. From eaves and gutters hang the festooned
icicles, and most people find it cheerless weather. But not so we, for
between us, with the aid of a prodigiously stupid carpenter, we have
designed and executed a toboggan, which is the chariot of love, and on
the steep down-sides (attended by the puzzled collies, who cannot
understand how it is that snowballs, which so closely resemble
tennis-balls, vanish in the retrieving) we spend vivifying afternoons.
The toboggan has a decided bias, and it is only a question of time
before it gets broadside to the slope of the hill, ejecting its
passengers. That is the moment for which the collies (Huz and Buz) are
waiting, and they fly after us and lick our faces before we can regain
our feet, to congratulate us on the success of this excellent new game.
Indeed, the ‘Alliance of Laughter’ is in league again, but below the
laughter is love, which penetrates to the centre of the world and rises
to the heaven of heavens. Then we tramp back, towing the slewing
toboggan uphill, and getting our heels kicked by it downhill to the
muffled town at dusk, and the long evenings begin.

I have told her all about Margery, as was only natural, but it was no
news to her. She had guessed it, with woman’s intuition, to which
lightning is a snail, on the day when I told her how like she was to
Margery. I had said ‘She was my best friend’ in a voice, it appears,
that was the most obvious self-betrayal. I have told her, too, the grim
determination I had made not to see her any more. That, it appears on
the same authority, was harmless though silly, since it was utterly out
of my power to do anything of the kind. I couldn’t have done it: that
was all. I, of course, argued that I could; so she said, ‘Well, do it
now, then. It is not too late.’

But when I told her about Margery, she did not laugh, but she answered:

‘I wanted so to comfort you. And I saw at first that you looked at me
and thought of her. Then, by degrees, I wanted to take her place. And by
degrees you let me have a place of my own. You looked at me and thought
of me. That was one evening we played cards here.’

‘You saw that?’ I asked.

‘How could a girl avoid seeing it, when all the time she----’

‘What?’

‘Nothing--at least, not much.’

‘What, then?’

She came a little closer in the gleam of the firelight.

‘When all the time she longed to see it,’ she whispered.

‘And is that not much? Is there anything in the world bigger than that?’

‘No; it is bigger than the world.’

Oh, I am loved--I am loved!

       *       *       *       *       *

It is Christmas Eve, and she has just gone home with her father, and
outside in the moonlight the waits are singing. I know that they are not
in tune, and that _qua_ singing it is a deplorable performance, but
there is such a singing in my heart that I do not hear the false notes,
and the thrill of Christmas, too, is upon me. I have never quite got
over (and I hope I never shall) the childish awe and mystery in hearing
the voices from the night, being awakened by the sounds, and being
carried, wrapped up in blankets, to the window, where I could see dim
forms outside black against the snow. I did not know in those earliest
years who they were. It was Christmas, and there were mysterious beings
singing in the night. On no other night were they there, for they were
of the family, I must suppose, of Father Christmas and Santa Claus and
the fairy Abracadabra, to whose awful presence--she appeared to be about
nine feet high--we had been introduced, not without delightful inward
quailings, before we went to bed. She brought with her a vessel of the
shape certainly of a clothes-basket, but as it was of solid gold it
could not have been a clothes-basket. And inside were exactly those
things for which we each of us had pined and audibly hungered. Such a
clever fairy! She never made a mistake or confused my wants with those
of my brothers; so probably she was omniscient as well as beneficent.
And my good fairies have been just as clever ever since. They never make
mistakes, and now they have given me the best gift of all. So, listening
to the singing in the night now, the years slip back, the child within
me stirs and awakens, and out of the rose-coloured mists of early years
that queer little figure, wrapped in blankets and carried to the window,
looks wonderingly at me and smiles because I am happy. Abracadabra, too,
is with me to-night, not nine feet high any longer, nor girt about with
delicious terrors for me, but still my dear fairy, who never fails me.
You should have seen her meeting with Helen; the two who are dearest to
me out of all the world, saw each other and loved each other on the
moment, and Helen ran to her and called her ‘mother.’

The singing in the night is long since silent; midnight has struck, and
the house is very still in this first hour of Christmas Day. All
afternoon, following the custom I have known from childhood, we made
wreaths of evergreens for decoration of the doors, and the holly berries
glow red in the dark green of the ivy. The scraps we burned on the
hearth, and the green leaves are still crackling and popping, and the
room is aromatic with the smell of them--the smell, so it always seemed
to me, of Christmas. Outside the same wonderful windless frost still
binds the earth, and in the dryness of the air the stars are visible
nearly down to the horizon, and the sheets of snow sparkle dimly in the
soft twilight of them. Yet I still linger here, finishing the few words
that remain to be written of this little book of months, which tells of
happenings so tremendous and momentous to me, so infinitesimal to the
world at large. It is a very inconsecutive performance, I know, very
often dealing with interests so minute that, even as I write them, the
time when what one writes assumes its greatest importance to one’s self,
I know I am risking boredom for somebody. But the remedy for such
boredom is so simple: one has only to shut the book.

How well I remember the first day of the year, a morning of fog, with
fugitive gleams of sun, type of the inscrutable young year, which now is
flaming to its close in a glory of rose-coloured sunset! All I ever
desired, all that I scarcely dared to desire, is mine, and yet this is
only the promise of what shall be. The love which is mine is like a
golden thread passing through the scattered beads of my days, threading
them into a necklace which I place round her neck, so that it lies on
her heart, and day and night moves to its beating, and rises and falls
with her breath. O my beloved, whether you sleep or wake, it is there;
it is yours. Do you remember a day or two ago how, quite suddenly, your
eyes filled with tears, and when I asked you what that meant, you said,
‘It is only because it is us, just you and I’? Even so.


THE END


BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD

       *       *       *       *       *

DONOVAN PASHA

BY SIR GILBERT PARKER

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘In this characteristic and powerful volume of
short stories, Sir Gilbert Parker exemplifies the truth of the old
adage, _Ex Africa semper aliquid novi_, by the remarkable vividness and
force with which he impresses upon us many and strange diversities of
British activity in foreign parts. It is a weird picture of change
moving across the face of the unchangeable that is presented in these
glittering and motley pages. These short stories are powerful, various,
and invigorating. The book is full of life--real, vital, burning
life--and the characters that people it are rich in variety and
suggestion.’


THE RIGHT OF WAY

BY SIR GILBERT PARKER

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Outlook.=--‘_The Right of Way_ is the right stuff--romance the royal.
It is dramatic. It abounds in good things. Its inspiration is heroic. It
is a powerful and moving novel, in which strong and natural situations
abound.’

=The Standard.=--‘The story deals with those strong passions and intense
emotions that do not depend for their interest on the framework and
setting in which they are presented. Nowhere else has the author worked
with a surer touch or more careful craftsmanship. He has painted on
larger canvasses, but not with so much precision of line, so much
restraint, and such just harmony of tint; nor does he elsewhere exhibit
an equal command of unforced pathos and genuine tragedy. The story is
full of dramatic incident, ingeniously contrived.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘A fine book, stirring, dramatic, fascinating.


THE LANE THAT HAD NO TURNING

BY SIR GILBERT PARKER

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘Not even in _The Seats of the Mighty_ does Mr. Parker
suggest such an impression of his strength as in the story which gives
its title to the book. Strong and yet natural situations follow in rapid
succession. In Madelinette Mr. Parker has idealized the noblest of
women.’

=Literature.=--‘The short story is very seldom wrought to perfection in
England, but Mr. Gilbert Parker establishes once more his claim to be
one of the very few writers who make that particular literary form a
thing of art. These stories are full of poetry, pathos, and dramatic
force, and show a peculiar power of realising the possibilities of the
short story.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE ETERNAL CITY

BY HALL CAINE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Mr. Hall Caine has produced a remarkable novel.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘It is interesting, characteristic, and highly
dramatic, and not too long. It is a stirring, warm-blooded story that
one is sorry to have finished.’

=The Daily News.=--‘Mr. Hall Caine has written a book that will strike the
popular imagination.... He introduces no subtleties into his politics.
Above all, he makes his human interest clear, strong, and intelligible.’

=The Liverpool Daily Post.=--‘Hall Caine’s _Eternal City_ is a great
novel, revealing the author at the very zenith of his gift.... The
book’s greatest wealth is its wealth of contagious and engrossing
emotion. It is a triumph of imagination, of power over the feelings, as
it is of dexterously used observation of an historic and most
interesting and deeply agitated people....’

=The Daily Mail.=--‘He has written a vivid story, characterised by that
keen eye for dramatic situations which has given him fame. There is
little doubt that its popularity will rival that of its predecessors.’

=The Liverpool Courier.=--‘_The Eternal City_, daring in its conception,
and still more audacious in its execution, dealing not with a century
ago or a decade back, but with to-day, referring to positions (if not to
persons) that stand out prominent in the world’s life, the present
moment is the flood which must carry it to success.... Of its intrinsic
worth there can be no doubt. It is the best that Mr. Caine has yet
produced.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘It may be asserted with confidence that no living author
than Mr. Caine could have produced this work. It may be doubted whether
any author who has lived for many generations past could have produced
it. The novel stands out as a purely exceptional work.... The verdict
must be that it is masterly in its conception and in its treatment....
Mr. Caine has produced a really fine work, a work that will carry on his
reputation to a higher point than it has yet attained.’


THE CHRISTIAN

BY HALL CAINE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Sketch.=--‘It quivers and palpitates with passion, for even Mr.
Caine’s bitterest detractors cannot deny that he is the possessor of
that rarest of all gifts, genius.’

=The Standard.=--‘The book has humour, it has pathos, it is full of colour
and movement. It abounds in passages of terse, bold, animated
descriptions.... There is, above all, the fascination of a skilful
narrative.’

=The Speaker.=--‘It is a notable book, written in the heart’s blood of the
author, and palpitating with the passionate enthusiasm that has inspired
it. A book that is good to read, and that cannot fail to produce an
impression on its readers.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘The tale will enthral the reader by its natural power
and beauty. The spell it casts is instantaneous, but it also gathers
strength from chapter to chapter, until we are swept irresistibly along
by the impetuous current of passion and action.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE MANXMAN

BY HALL CAINE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘With the exception of _The Scapegoat_, this is
unquestionably the finest and most dramatic of Mr. Hall Caine’s
novels.... _The Manxman_ goes very straight to the roots of human
passion and emotion. It is a remarkable book, throbbing with human
interest.’

=The Queen.=--‘_The Manxman_ is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable
books of the century. It will be read and re-read, and take its place in
the literary inheritance of the English-speaking nations.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘_The Manxman_ is a contribution to
literature, and the most fastidious critic would give in exchange for it
a wilderness of that deciduous trash which our publishers call
fiction.... It is not possible to part from _The Manxman_ with anything
but a warm tribute of approval.’--EDMUND GOSSE.


THE BONDMAN

BY HALL CAINE

With a Photogravure Portrait of the Author.

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Mr. Gladstone.=--‘_The Bondman_ is a work of which I recognise the
freshness, vigour, and sustained interest, no less than its integrity of
aim.’

=The Times.=--‘It is impossible to deny originality and rude power to this
saga, impossible not to admire its forceful directness, and the colossal
grandeur of its leading characters.’

=The Academy.=--‘The language of _The Bondman_ is full of nervous,
graphic, and poetical English; its interest never flags, and its
situations and descriptions are magnificent. It is a splendid novel.’

=The Speaker.=--‘This is the best book that Mr. Hall Caine has yet
written, and it reaches a level to which fiction very rarely attains....
We are, in fact, so loth to let such good work be degraded by the title
of “novel” that we are almost tempted to consider its claim to rank as a
prose epic.’


THE SCAPEGOAT

BY HALL CAINE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘In our judgment it excels in dramatic force all the
Author’s previous efforts. For grace and touching pathos Naomi is a
character which any romancist in the world might be proud to have
created, and the tale of her parents’ despair and hopes, and of her own
development, confers upon _The Scapegoat_ a distinction which is
matchless of its kind.’

=The Guardian.=--‘Mr. Hall Caine is undoubtedly master of a style which is
peculiarly his own. He is in a way a Rembrandt among novelists.’

=The Athenæum.=--‘It is a delightful story to read.’

=The Academy.=--‘Israel ben Oliel is the third of a series of the most
profoundly conceived characters in modern fiction.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

SCARLET AND HYSSOP

BY E. F. BENSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Standard.=--‘It is astonishingly up-to-date: it brims over with
chatter, with Saturday to Monday parties, with bridge, flirtation,
motor-cars, semi-detached husbands and wives, and the Boer war,--in fact
with everything in which London society of to-day interests itself. An
admirable picture, witty, cynical, and amusing. It is full of brilliant
things.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Scathing in satire and relentless in exposure.
The interest never flags for a moment. There are many pages of witty
dialogue. _Scarlet and Hyssop_ must be accounted a really brilliant
piece of work, unsurpassed by anything Mr. Benson has given us.’


THE LUCK OF THE VAILS

BY E. F. BENSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘One might begin to read _The Luck of the Vails_ lying back
in a comfortable chair, and chuckling over the natural talk of Mr.
Benson’s pleasant people. But after an hour or so, assuming that it is a
hot day, and that you turn the leaves without great energy, you find
yourself sitting up and gripping the arms of the chair, and glancing
uneasily over your shoulder at the sound of a step upon the gravel. For
this is a really thrilling and exciting tale of crime and mystery that
Mr. Benson has written. It is readable all through and full of
entertainment.’


THE PRINCESS SOPHIA

BY E. F. BENSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘There is brilliance, lightness of touch. The dialogue is
neat and brisk, and the miniature Court and its courtiers are amusingly
treated.’

=Literature.=--‘Told with verve and wit. If the novel is to amuse we
cannot recommend a more agreeable companion than Mr. Benson’s brilliant
friend _The Princess Sophia_.’

=The Westminster Gazette.=--‘A gay and spirited performance, and the
Princess herself a clever picture. It is lively reading, and the
characters bubble along in true Bensonian fashion.’


MAMMON & CO.

BY E. F. BENSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Bright, piquant, and entertaining from beginning
to end, full of humorous sayings and witty things spoken by men and
women who are merry and captivating. There is little to find fault with.
It is a very clever, smart novel, wherein lies a little lesson and much
entertainment.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Mr. Benson’s new story is in his happier and
clever style. Happily, also, the liveliness does not tire. The
_repartee_ and rattle of the “smart set” are the genuine thing, and his
own pretty conceits and happy little audacities of turn are not too
forced.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE WINDS OF THE WORLD

BY THE DUCHESS OF SUTHERLAND

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘They are extremely varied in conception, and show much
dramatic skill.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘A series of stories which are excellent. They
are fresh and original in conception, and full of dramatic incidents;
and they arc still more remarkable for their freshness as studies of
character.’


THE MYSTERY OF THE SEA

BY BRAM STOKER

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘A good rattling story of buried treasure from the Great
Armada; of second-sight and ancient Pagan mysteries; of sea caves and
storms; of haughty Spaniards; of subterranean passages and ruined
chapels.’

=Punch.=--‘A rattling story which sometimes recalls _Monte Cristo_, anon
_Treasure Island_. The wild scenery by day and night Mr. Stoker
describes with loving touch and master hand. There is in the book the
rare quality of adventure that enthralls the boys and pleases their
parents.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘There is a spaciousness about Mr. Stoker’s work
which not infrequently reminds us of the great masters. To any one who
loves an enthralling tale, told with unflagging zest and good spirits,
we recommend _The Mystery of the Sea_.’


THE SHEEPSTEALERS

BY VIOLET JACOB

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘The emergence of a book so fresh, so original, and so
wholesome, is peculiarly welcome. We can cordially recommend Miss
Jacob’s powerful and engrossing romance. It deserves to rank along with
_The House with the Green Shutters_ in the limited category of those
tales of the countryside in which there is nothing provincial or
parochial. Few novelists of recent years have set themselves so high a
standard in their initial effort as Miss Jacob, whose work is singularly
free from the faults of a novice. Her style is excellent--lucid,
natural, unaffected; her energy is under control; she understands the
art of self-effacement, of omission, of reticence, and she is as
successful in dealing with her gentle as with her simple characters.’


IF I WERE KING

BY JUSTIN HUNTLY M‘CARTHY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘A novel of exceptional distinction; the scenes are fresh
and vivid; the movement quick and natural; and, above all, the phrasing
has almost a classical richness and carefulness of verbal selection. It
is seldom that the style of a romantic novel brings it so near to
literature.’

=The Spectator.=--‘Mr. M‘Carthy has made a tale out of his play, and it is
a good tale. There is some excellent verse scattered up and down the
book. He has experimented boldly and has succeeded.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOLLY CORNER

BY MRS. HENRY DUDENEY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Mrs. Henry Dudeney is to be much congratulated.
_Folly Corner_ is quite a delightful novel--a well-conceived story
admirably told. Side by side with a notable story, the authoress places
little pictures of Nature, of farm-life and country sights and sounds.
Her descriptions of the life at _Folly Corner_ afford a keen and unusual
pleasure. We come to the last page with a strong wish for more, and a
lively and unsatisfied interest in the chief characters concerned.’


THE MATERNITY OF HARRIOTT WICKEN

BY MRS. HENRY DUDENEY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Literature.=--‘A notable book. Mrs. Dudeney has the power of translating
a feeling, an impression into a few vivid words, which faithfully
transmit her experience to the mind of the reader, and this is a great
art.’

=The Daily Mail.=--‘The story is as singular as its title, and as strong
as straightforward.... The drama haunts and grips us. There is humour in
it, too, excellent humour. _The Maternity of Harriott Wicken_ is a story
that has elemental human nature in every chapter, and, therefore, sinks
deep in the mind.’


SPINDLE AND PLOUGH

BY MRS. HENRY DUDENEY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Mrs. Dudeney has a power, as precious as it is
rare, of conveying a whole scene in a few well-chosen words. Her
observation is acute, her word-painting well-nigh exquisite.’

=The Spectator.=--‘Mrs. Dudeney possesses the inestimable art of grasping
and holding the attention of her readers.’


THE COURTESY DAME

BY R. MURRAY GILCHRIST

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Literature.=--‘It possesses all the sweetness and rusticity of a
pastoral, but through it a thousand lights and shades of human passion
are seen to play. The story will immediately grip the reader and hold
him until he reaches the last chapter.’

=The Morning Post.=--‘Mr. Murray Gilchrist is an artist to the point of
his pen, whose story is at once among the freshest and sweetest of
recent essays in imaginative writing.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE HOSTS OF THE LORD

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Mrs. Steel’s latest wonderful romance of Indian
life. It is ‘57 in little, and in our own day. Mrs. Steel has again
subtly and keenly shown us how unique is her power of realising the
unstably poised, the troubled half-and-half mind that is the key to the
Indian problem.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘No one, not even the Kipling of an earlier day,
quite does for India what Mrs. Steel does; she sees Indian life
steadily, and sees it whole with a vision that is truthful, sympathetic.
Such is the wealth of her observation that her page is rich with colour
as an Eastern bazaar, and fragrant as a basket of quinces.’


VOICES IN THE NIGHT

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘It is the native mind which Mrs. Steel shows us as no other
writer has done. She sketches in the native scenes with intimate detail,
with ease in obtaining her effects.’

=Black and White.=--‘Mrs. Steel works on a crowded canvas, yet every
figure stands out distinctly. _Voices in the Night_ is a book to be read
carefully. It is a book to be kept and to be read more than once. It is
a novel of the best kind, and deserves the attention of the readers who
find nothing praiseworthy in the effusions of the popular successes.’


ON THE FACE OF THE WATERS

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘We have read Mrs. Steel’s book with ever-increasing
surprise and admiration--surprise at her insight into people with whom
she can scarcely have been intimate, admiration for the genius which has
enabled her to realise that wonderful welter of the East and West, which
Delhi must have presented just before the Mutiny. There is many an
officer who would give his sword to write military history as Mrs. Steel
has written the history of the rising, the siege, and the storm. It is
the most wonderful picture. We know that none who lived through the
Mutiny will lay the book down without a gasp of admiration, and believe
that the same emotion will be felt by thousands to whom the scenes
depicted are but lurid phantasmagoria.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘A picture, glowing with colour, of the most
momentous and dramatic events in all our Empire’s later history. We have
read many stories having for their setting the lurid background of the
Indian Mutiny, but none that for fidelity to fact, for vivacity of
imagination, for masterly breadth of treatment, comes within half a
dozen places of this.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

IN THE PERMANENT WAY

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘While her only rival in this field of fiction is Mr.
Kipling, her work is marked by an even subtler appreciation of the
Oriental standpoint--both ethical and religious--a more exhaustive
acquaintance with native life in its domestic and indoor aspects, and a
deeper sense of the moral responsibilities attaching to our rule in the
East. The book is profoundly interesting from beginning to end.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘A volume of charming stories and of stories
possessing something more than mere charm. Stories made rich with beauty
and colour, strong with the strength of truth, and pathetic with the
intimate pathos which grows only from the heart. All the mystery and the
frankness, the simplicity and the complexity of Indian life are here in
a glowing setting of brilliant Oriental hues. A book to read and a book
to buy. A book which no one but Mrs. Steel could have given us, a book
which all persons of leisure should read, and for which all persons of
taste will be grateful.’


FROM THE FIVE RIVERS

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘Mrs. Steel has evidently been brought into close contact
with the domestic life of all classes, Hindu and Mahommedan, in city and
village, and has steeped herself in their customs and superstitions....
Mrs. Steel’s book is of exceptional merit and freshness.’

=The Athenæum.=--‘They possess this great merit, that they reflect the
habits, modes of life, and ideas of the middle and lower classes of the
population of Northern India better than do systematic and more
pretentious works.’

=The Globe.=--‘She puts before us the natives of our Empire in the East as
they live and move and speak, with their pitiful superstitions, their
strange fancies, their melancholy ignorance of what poses with us for
knowledge and civilisation, their doubt of the new ways, the new laws,
the new people, “Shah Sujah’s Mouse,” the gem of the collection--a
touching tale of unreasoning fidelity towards an English “Sinny Baba” is
a tiny bit of perfect writing.’


THE POTTER’S THUMB

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Globe.=--‘This is a brilliant story--a story that fascinates,
tingling with life, steeped in sympathy with all that is best and
saddest.’

=The Manchester Guardian.=--‘The impression left upon one after reading
_The Potter’s Thumb_ is that a new literary artist, of very great and
unusual gifts, has arisen.... In short, Mrs. Steel must be congratulated
upon having achieved a very genuine and amply deserved success.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘It is a capital story, full of variety and movement,
which brings with great vividness before the reader one of the phases of
Anglo-Indian life. Mrs. Steel writes forcibly and sympathetically, and
much of the charm of the picture which she draws lies in the force with
which she brings out the contrast between the Asiatic and European
world. _The Potter’s Thumb_ is very good reading, with its mingling of
the tragedy and comedy of life. Its evil woman _par excellence_ ... is a
finished study.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

RED ROWANS

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘Judge it by what canons of criticism you will the
book is a work of art.... The story is simple enough, but it is as
lifelike as anything in modern fiction. The people speak and act as
people do act and speak. There is not a false note throughout. Mrs.
Steel draws children as none but a master-hand can draw.’

=The Westminster Gazette.=--‘Far and away above the average of novels, and
one of those books which no reader should miss.’

=The Daily News.=--‘The book is written with distinction. It is moving,
picturesque, the character drawing is sensitive and strong.’

=Black and White.=--‘It reveals keen sympathy with nature and clever
portraiture, and it possesses many passages both humorous and pathetic.’


THE FLOWER OF FORGIVENESS

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Academy.=--‘Nothing here ought to be neglected, for there is in most
places something profitable for not too obtrusive exhortation, and
almost everywhere something for enjoyment.’

=The Glasgow Herald.=--‘A clever book which should tend to widen Mrs.
Steel’s circle among the reading public.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘They have a rich imaginative colour always.’

=The Manchester Guardian.=--‘Much sympathy with humanity however dark the
skin, and a delicate touch in narrative, raise Mrs. F. A. Steel’s Indian
Stories into a high rank. There is a pathos in them not common among
Anglo-Indian story-tellers.’


MISS STUART’S LEGACY

BY FLORA ANNIE STEEL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Saturday Review.=--‘It throbs with the vigour of real creative
power.’

=The Spectator.=--‘It is remarkably clever; it is written in a style which
has ease, dignity, grace, and quick responsiveness to the demands of the
theme; it has passages of arresting power and fine reticent pathos; and
it displays a quick eye for character and a power of depicting it with
both force and subtlety.’

=The Westminster Gazette.=--‘A most faithful, vivid impression of Indian
life.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘A singularly powerful and fascinating story.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOWERY TALES

(George’s Mother, and Maggie.)

BY STEPHEN CRANE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Morning Post.=--‘Mr. Crane never wrote anything more vivid than the
story in which Maggie takes the heroine’s part. It is as admirable in
its own field as _The Red Badge of Courage_ in another.’

=The Illustrated London News.=--‘Stephen Crane knew the Bowery very well,
and in these two stories its characteristics come out with the realism
of Mr. Arthur Morrison’s studies of the East End. Both are grim and
powerful sketches.’


PICTURES OF WAR

(The Red Badge of Courage, and The Little Regiment.)

BY STEPHEN CRANE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Truth.=--‘The pictures themselves are certainly wonderful.... So fine a
book as Mr. Stephen Crane’s _Pictures of War_ is not to be judged
pedantically.’

=The Daily Graphic.=--’ ... A second reading leaves one with no whit
diminished opinion of their extraordinary power. Stories they are not
really, but as vivid war pictures they have scarcely been equalled....
One cannot recall any book which conveys to the outsider more clearly
what war means to the fighters than this collection of brilliant
pictures.’


THE OPEN BOAT

BY STEPHEN CRANE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Saturday Review.=--’ ... The most artistic thing Mr. Crane has yet
accomplished.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘Each tale is the concise, clear, vivid record
of one sensational impression. Facts, epithets, or colours are given to
the reader with a rigorousness of selection, an artfulness of restraint,
that achieves an absolute clearness in the resulting imaginative vision.
Mr. Crane has a personal touch of artistry that is refreshing.’


ACTIVE SERVICE

BY STEPHEN CRANE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘The characters are admirably sketched and sustained.
There is tenderness; there is brilliancy; there is real insight into the
minds and ways of women and of men.’

=The Spectator.=--‘Mr. Crane’s plot is ingenious and entertaining, and the
characterisation full of those unexpected strokes in which he excels.’

=The Academy.=--‘The book is full of those feats of description for which
the author is famous. Mr. Crane can handle the epithet with surprising,
almost miraculous dexterity. _Active Service_ quite deserves to be
called a remarkable book.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE THIRD VIOLET

BY STEPHEN CRANE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘We have never come across a book that brought certain
sections of American society so perfectly before the reader as does _The
Third Violet_, which introduces us to a farming family, to the boarders
at a summer hotel, and to the young artists of New York. The picture is
an extremely pleasant one, and its truth appeals to the English reader,
so that the effect of the book is to draw him nearer to his American
cousins. _The Third Violet_ incidentally contains the best dog we have
come across in modern fiction. Mr. Crane’s dialogue is excellent, and it
is dialogue of a type for which neither _The Red Badge of Courage_ nor
his later books had prepared us.’


AFRICAN NIGHTS’ ENTERTAINMENT

BY A. J. DAWSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘His stories have the special attraction of
stories of a country by a man who has knowledge of it and is under its
fascination; and are good stories into the bargain. He has a pretty
humour, and the gift of telling a story well, and special knowledge to
work upon; the result is an entertaining book.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘The stories are all invented and written with that glow
of imagination which seems to come of Eastern sunshine.... They are
besides novel and readable in no ordinary degree, and they make a book
which will not fail to interest every one who takes it up.’


THE STORY OF RONALD KESTREL

BY A. J. DAWSON

In One Volume, price 6s.

=The Athenæum.=--‘The sketches of life and scenery in Morocco and in New
South Wales are attractive, the literary composition keeps a good level
throughout. Mr. Dawson is a writer of ability who has seen men and
things, and should go far.’


JOSEPH KHASSAN: HALF-CASTE

BY A. J. DAWSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘Since Mr. Kipling’s famous ballad, which emphasised the
underlying unity of martial spirit common to East and West, we have read
no more striking or suggestive study of Oriental and Occidental modes of
thought than this work, which deals with their fundamental differences.
The story is laid at first and last in Morocco, which the author knows
better than most Englishmen. Mr. Dawson’s style is vivid and not without
distinction. His work is virile as well as good reading: he can command
both humour and pathos.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘It is strong, undeniably strong; a well-written
book with many admirable character-studies. The book is undoubtedly a
powerful one.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LION AND THE UNICORN

BY RICHARD HARDING DAVIS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Eight short stories, each of them written with
a brilliance worthy of the author of _Soldiers of Fortune_, and each a
perfect piece of workmanship. Every one of them has a striking and
original idea, clothed in the words and picturesque details of a man who
knows the world. They are genuine literature. Each is intensely fresh
and distinct, ingenious in conception, and with a meaning compounded of
genuine stuff. There is something in all of the stories, as well as
immense cleverness in bringing it out.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Stories of real excellence, distinctive and
interesting from every point of view.’


SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE

BY RICHARD HARDING DAVIS

_In One Volume, price 6s. Illustrated._

=The Athenæum.=--‘The adventures and exciting incidents in the book are
admirable; the whole story of the revolution is most brilliantly told.
This is really a great tale of adventure.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘We turn the pages quickly, carried on by a
swiftly moving story, and many a brilliant passage: and when we put the
book down, our impression is that few works of this season are to be
named with it for the many qualities which make a successful novel. We
congratulate Mr. Harding Davis upon a very clever piece of work.’


THE NIGGER OF THE ‘NARCISSUS’

BY JOSEPH CONRAD

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=A. T. Quiller-Couch in Pall Mall Magazine.=--‘Mr. Conrad’s is a
thoroughly good tale. He has something of Mr. Crane’s insistence; he
grips a situation, an incident, much as Mr. Browning’s Italian wished to
grasp Metternich; he squeezes emotion and colour out of it to the last
drop; he is ferociously vivid; he knows the life he is writing about,
and he knows his seamen too. And, by consequence, the crew of the
_Narcissus_ are the most plausibly life-like set of rascals that ever
sailed through the pages of fiction.’


THE INHERITORS

BY JOSEPH CONRAD AND E. M. HUEFFER

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘This is a remarkable piece of work, possessing
qualifications which before now have made a work of fiction the
sensation of its year. Its craftsmanship is such as one has learnt to
expect in a book bearing Mr. Conrad’s name.... Amazing intricacy,
exquisite keenness of style, and a large, fantastic daring in scheme. An
extravaganza _The Inheritors_ may certainly be called, but more ability
and artistry has gone to the making of it than may be found in
four-fifths of the serious fiction of the year.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

JACK RAYMOND

BY E. L. VOYNICH

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘This is a remarkable book. Mrs. Voynich has
essayed no less than to analyse a boy’s character as warped even to the
edge of permanent injury by the systematic sternness--aggravated on
occasion into fiendish brutality--of his guardian. We know nothing in
recent fiction comparable with the grim scene in which the boy forces
his uncle to listen to the maledictions of the Commination Service
directed against himself. _Jack Raymond_ is the strongest novel that the
present season has produced, and it will add to the reputation its
author won by _The Gadfly_.’


THE GADFLY

BY E. L. VOYNICH

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Academy.=--‘A remarkable story, which readers who prefer flesh and
blood and human emotions to sawdust and adventure should consider as
something of a godsend. It is more deeply interesting and rich in
promise than ninety-nine out of every hundred novels.’

=The World.=--‘The strength and originality of the story are
indisputable.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘A very strikingly original romance which will
hold the attention of all who read it, and establish the author’s
reputation at once for first-rate dramatic ability and power of
expression.’


VOYSEY

BY R. O. PROWSE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Standard.=--‘The analytical power displayed makes this book a
remarkable one, and the drawing of the chief figures is almost
startlingly good.’

=The Daily News.=--‘A novel of conspicuous ability.’


FROM A SWEDISH HOMESTEAD

BY SELMA LAGERLOF

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘The very strangeness of her genius is one of its chief
charms. Her domain lies on the outskirts of fairyland, and there is an
other-worldliness about her most real and convincing characters.’

=The Spectator.=--‘We are glad to welcome in this delightful volume
evidence of the unabated vitality of that vein of fantastic invention
which ran purest in the tales of Andersen. The influence of Gœthe’s
_Wilhelm Meister_ is obvious in the longest and most beautiful story of
the collection. But when all deductions are made on the score of
indebtedness, the originality of plot and treatment remain unquestioned.
The story is rendered touching and convincing by the ingenious charm and
sincerity of the narrator.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE MANTLE OF ELIJAH

BY I. ZANGWILL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘Contains cleverness of a very varied kind--traits of
fine imagination, of high spiritual feeling, keen observation, and a
singular sense of discrimination in character and dialogue.’

=The Outlook.=--‘His story and the figures which people its pages are of a
vivid and absorbing interest, instinct with life, and on every page some
witty and memorable phrase, or trenchant thought, or vivid picture.’


THEY THAT WALK IN DARKNESS

BY I. ZANGWILL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘No reader, who is not blinded by prejudice, will rise
from the perusal of this engrossing volume without an enhanced sense of
compassion for, and admiration of, the singular race of whose traits Mr.
Zangwill is, perhaps, the most gifted interpreter.’

=The Standard.=--‘These stories are of singular merit. They are, mostly,
of a tragic order; but this does not by any means keep out a subtle
humour; they possess also a tenderness ... and a power that is kept in
great restraint and is all the more telling in consequence.’


DREAMERS OF THE GHETTO

BY I. ZANGWILL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=W. E. Henley in ‘The Outlook.’=--‘A brave, eloquent, absorbing, and, on
the whole, persuasive book.... I find them all vastly agreeable reading,
and I take pleasure in recognising them all for the work of a man who
loves his race, and for his race’s sake would like to make
literature.... Here, I take it--here, so it seems to me--is that rarest
of rare things, _a book_.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘It is hard to describe this book, for we can
think of no exact parallel to it. In form, perhaps, it comes nearest to
some of Walter Pater’s work. For each of the fifteen chapters contains a
criticism of thought under the similitude of an “Imaginary Portrait.”
... We have a vision of the years presented to us in typical souls.’


THE MASTER

BY I. ZANGWILL

With a Photogravure Portrait of the Author

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Queen.=--‘It is impossible to deny the greatness of a book like _The
Master_, a veritable human document, in which the characters do exactly
as they would in life.... I venture to say that Matt himself is one of
the most striking and original characters in our fiction, and I have not
the least doubt that _The Master_ will always be reckoned one of our
classics.’

=The Literary World.=--‘In _The Master_, Mr. Zangwill has eclipsed all his
previous work. This strong and striking story is genuinely powerful in
its tragedy, and picturesque in its completeness.... The work strikes a
truly tragic chord, which leaves a deep impression upon the mind.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHILDREN OF THE GHETTO

BY I. ZANGWILL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘From whatever point of view we regard it, it is a
remarkable book.’

=The Guardian.=--‘A novel such as only our own day could produce. A
masterly study of a complicated psychological problem in which every
factor is handled with such astonishing dexterity and intelligence that
again and again we are tempted to think a really great book has come
into our hands.’

=Black and White.=--‘A moving panorama of Jewish life, full of truth, full
of sympathy, vivid in the setting forth, and occasionally most
brilliant. Such a book as this has the germs of a dozen novels. A book
to read, to keep, to ponder over, to remember.’

=The Manchester Guardian.=--‘The best Jewish novel ever written.’


THE KING OF SCHNORRERS

BY I. ZANGWILL

With over Ninety Illustrations by PHIL MAY and Others.

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Saturday Review.=--‘Mr. Zangwill has created a new figure in fiction,
and a new type of humour. The entire series of adventures is a
triumphant progress.... Humour of a rich and active character pervades
the delightful history of Manasseh. Mr. Zangwill’s book is altogether
very good reading. It is also very cleverly illustrated by Phil May and
other artists.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘It is a beautiful story. _The King of Schnorrers_
is that great rarity--an entirely new thing, that is as good as it is
new.’


THE CELIBATES’ CLUB

BY I. ZANGWILL

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘Mr. Zangwill’s _Bachelors’ Club_ and _Old
Maids’ Club_ have separately had such a success--as their sparkling
humour, gay characterisation, and irresistible punning richly
deserved--that it is no surprise to find Mr. Heinemann now issuing them
together in one volume. Readers who have not purchased the separate
volumes will be glad to add this joint publication to their bookshelves.
Others, who have failed to read either, until they foolishly imagined
that it was too late, have now the best excuse for combining the
pleasures of two.’


THE PREMIER AND THE PAINTER

BY I. ZANGWILL AND LOUIS COWEN

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Morning Post.=--‘The story is described as a “fantastic romance,”
and, indeed, fantasy reigns supreme from the first to the last of its
pages. It relates the history of our time with humour and well-aimed
sarcasm. All the most prominent characters of the day, whether political
or otherwise, come in for notice. The identity of the leading
politicians is but thinly veiled, while many celebrities appear in
_propriâ personâ_.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE WORLD’S MERCY

BY MAXWELL GRAY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Speaker.=--‘Those who most admired _The Silence of Dean Maitland_
will find much to hold their attention, and to make them think in _The
World’s Mercy_.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘The qualities of her pen make all of Maxwell
Gray’s work interesting, and the charm of her writing is unalterable. If
_The World’s Mercy_ is painful, it is undeniably forcible and dramatic,
and it holds the reader from start to finish.’


THE HOUSE OF HIDDEN TREASURE

BY MAXWELL GRAY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Chronicle.=--‘There is a strong and pervading charm in this new novel
by Maxwell Gray.... It is full of tragedy and irony, though irony is not
the dominant note.’

=The Times.=--‘Its buoyant humour and lively character-drawing will be
found very enjoyable.’

=The Daily Mail.=--‘The book becomes positively great, fathoming a depth
of human pathos which has not been equalled in any novel we have read
for years past.... _The House of Hidden Treasure_ is not a novel to be
borrowed; it is a book to be bought and read, and read again and again.’


THE LAST SENTENCE

BY MAXWELL GRAY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Standard.=--‘_The Last Sentence_ is a remarkable story; it abounds
with dramatic situations, the interest never for a moment flags, and the
characters are well drawn and consistent.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘One of the most powerful and adroitly worked-out
plots embodied in any modern work of fiction runs through _The Last
Sentence_.... This terrible tale of retribution is told with
well-sustained force and picturesqueness, and abounds in light as well
as shade.’


SWEETHEARTS AND FRIENDS

BY MAXWELL GRAY

_In One Volume, price 6s._


LONDON; WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOUR-LEAVED CLOVER

BY MAXWELL GRAY

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘Brightly and pleasantly written, Maxwell Gray’s new
story will entertain all readers who can enjoy the purely sentimental in
fiction.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘The story is full of bright dialogue: it is one of the
pleasantest and healthiest novels of the season.’


HEARTS IMPORTUNATE

BY EVELYN DICKINSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Happy in title and successful in evolution, Miss
Dickinson’s novel is very welcome. We have read it with great pleasure,
due not only to the interest of the theme, but to an appreciation of the
artistic method, and the innate power of the authoress. It is vigorous,
forcible, convincing.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘An enjoyable book, and a clever one.’


THE HIDDEN MODEL

BY FRANCES HARROD

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Outlook.=--‘Intensely dramatic and moving. We have sensitive analysis
of character, sentiment, colour, agreeable pathos.’

=The Athenæum.=--‘A good story simply told and undidactic, with men and
women in it who are creatures of real flesh and blood. An artistic
coterie is described briefly and pithily, with humour and without
exaggeration.’

=The Academy.=--‘A pathetic little love idyll, touching, plaintive, and
not without a kindly and gentle fascination.’

=Literature.=--‘A remarkably original and powerful story: one of the most
interesting and original books of the year.’

=The Sunday Special.=--‘Thrilling from cover to cover.’


SAWDUST

BY DOROTHEA GERARD

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘Once again Dorothea Gerard has shown considerable
ability in the delineation of diverse characters--ability as evident in
the minor as in the chief persons; and, what is more, she gets her
effects without any undue labouring of points as to the goodness or
badness of her people.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘The little town of Zanee, a retired spot in the
lower Carpathians, is the scene of Miss Gerald’s book. Remote enough,
geographically; but the writer has not seen her Galician peasants as
foreigners, nor has she made them other than entirely human. Human, too,
are the scheming Jews, the Polish Counts and Countesses, the German
millionaire. The story is simple and eminently natural.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

GLORIA MUNDI

BY HAROLD FREDERIC

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘Mr. Harold Frederic has here achieved a triumph
of characterisation rare indeed in fiction, even in such fiction as is
given us by our greatest. _Gloria Mundi_ is a work of art; and one
cannot read a dozen of its pages without feeling that the artist was an
informed, large-minded, tolerant man of the world.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘It is packed with interesting thought as well
as clear-cut individual and living character, and is certainly one of
the few striking serious novels, apart from adventure and romance, which
have been produced this year.’


ILLUMINATION

BY HAROLD FREDERIC

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘There is something more than the mere touch of the
vanished hand that wrote _The Scarlet Letter_ in _Illumination_, which
is the best novel Mr. Harold Frederic has produced, and, indeed, places
him very near if not quite at the head of the newest school of American
fiction.’

=The Manchester Guardian.=--‘It is a long time since a book of such
genuine importance has appeared. It will not only afford novel-readers
food for discussion during the coming season, but it will eventually
fill a recognised place in English fiction.’


THE MARKET-PLACE

BY HAROLD FREDERIC

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘Harold Frederic stood head and shoulders above the ordinary
run of novelists. _The Market-Place_ seizes the imagination and holds
the reader’s interest, and it is suggestive and stimulating to thought.’

=The Bookman.=--‘Incomparably the best novel of the year. It is a ruthless
exposure, a merciless satire. Both as satire and romance it is splendid
reading. As a romance of the “City” it has no equal in modern fiction.’


THE LAKE OF WINE

BY BERNARD CAPES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=W. E. Henley in ‘The Outlook.’=--‘Mr. Capes’s devotion to style does him
yeoman service all through this excellent romance.... I have read no
book for long which contented me as this book. This story--excellently
invented and excellently done--is one no lover of romance can afford to
leave unread.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘The love-motif is of the quaintest and
daintiest; the clash of arms is Stevensonian.... There is a vein of
mystery running through the book, and greatly enhancing its interest.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

VIA LUCIS

BY KASSANDRA VIVARIA

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Perhaps never before has there been related with
such detail, such convincing honesty, and such pitiless
clearsightedness, the tale of misery and torturing perplexity, through
which a young and ardent seeker after truth can struggle. It is all so
strongly drawn. The book is simply and quietly written, and gains in
force from its clear, direct style. Every page, every descriptive line
bears the stamp of truth.’

=The Morning Post.=--‘_Via Lucis_ is but one more exercise, and by no
means the least admirable, on that great and inexhaustible theme which
has inspired countless artists and poets and novelists--the conflict
between the aspirations of the soul for rest in religion and of the
heart for human love and the warfare of the world.’


THE OPEN QUESTION

BY ELIZABETH ROBINS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘This is an extraordinarily fine novel.... We
have not, for many years, come across a serious novel of modern life
which has more powerfully impressed our imagination, or created such an
instant conviction of the genius of its writer.... We express our own
decided opinion that it is a book which, setting itself a profound human
problem, treats it in a manner worthy of the profoundest thinkers of the
time, with a literary art and a fulness of the knowledge of life which
stamp a master novelist.... It is not meat for little people or for
fools; but for those who care for English fiction as a vehicle of the
constructive intellect, building up types of living humanity for our
study, it will be a new revelation of strength, and strange, serious
beauty.’


BELOW THE SALT

BY ELIZABETH ROBINS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘All cleverly told, vivacious, life-like,
observant sketches. Were we to award the palm where all are meritorious,
it should be to the delightful triplet entitled “The Portman Memoirs.”
These three sketches are positively exhilarating. We can sincerely
recommend them as certain cures for the vapours, the spleen, or the
“blues.”’


THE STORY OF EDEN

BY DOLF WYLLARDE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Academy.=--‘The story is an outstanding one. There are passages of
thought and colour which gladden, and characters which interest, as the
living only do. A light wit beams through the dialogue. On the whole,
bravo! Dolf Wyllarde.’

=The Standard.=--‘A remarkable book, fresh and courageous. The writer has
a sense of things as they are, and describes them simply and vividly.
The book is well written, and the pictures of social life in Wynberg are
excellent.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

ST. IVES

BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘Neither Stevenson himself nor any one else has given us a
better example of a dashing story, full of life and colour and interest.
St. Ives is both an entirely delightful personage and a narrator with an
enthralling style--a character who will be treasured up in the memory
along with David Balfour and Alan Breck, even with D’Artagnan and the
Musketeers.’


THE EBB-TIDE

BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
AND
LLOYD OSBOURNE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘We are swept along without a pause on the current
of the animated and vigorous narrative. Each incident and adventure is
told with that incomparable keenness of vision which is Mr. Stevenson’s
greatest charm as a story-teller.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘It is brilliantly invented, and it is not less
brilliantly told. There is not a dull sentence in the whole run of it.
And the style is fresh, alert, full of surprises--in fact, is very good
latter-day Stevenson indeed.’


THE QUEEN VERSUS BILLY

BY LLOYD OSBOURNE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Of the nine stories in this volume, not one
falls below a notably high level, while three or four of them at least
attain what short stories not often do, the certainty that they will be
re-read, and vividly remembered between re-readings. Mr. Osbourne writes
often with a delicious rollick of humour, sometimes with a pathos from
which tears are not far remote, and always with the buoyancy and
crispness without which the short story is naught, and with which it can
be so much.’

=The Outlook.=--‘These stories are admirable. They are positive good
things, wanting not for strength, pathos, humour, observation.’


CHINATOWN STORIES

BY C. B. FERNALD

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Academy.=--‘We feel that Mr. Fernald has described the Chinese
character with extraordinary accuracy. His range is considerable; he
begins this volume, for example, with an idyllic story of an adorable
Chinese infant.... This is sheer good-humour, and prettiness and colour.
And at the end of the book is one of the grimmest and ablest yarns of
Chinese piracy and high sea villainy that any one has written, Stevenson
not excluded. In each of these we see the hand of a very capable
literary artist. It is a fascinating book.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE ASSASSINS

BY NEVILL M. MEAKIN

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘He brings home to his readers the spirit of awe--of
allurement and terror--which his chosen place and period inspire. The
opening chapters breathe the true spirit of romance. The Orient blazes
in Mr. Meakin’s descriptions. His pen is dipped in the period he
portrays. It is iridescent with the mirage of the East; glowing now with
the life and clash and din of the Ismalians, and again with the
victories of Saladin: powerful in its pictures of human passion, human
ambition, and the tragedy of fate.’

=The Standard.=--‘_The Assassins_ attracts us on its first page by the
excellence of its style, and the interest is kept up to the end.’


A DAUGHTER OF THE VELDT

BY BASIL MARNAN

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Morning Post.=--‘A strong, clever, and striking book. Mr. Basil
Marnan has drawn some vivid and wholly new pictures. The book has scenes
of dramatic power, told with simple directness.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘It has interested us profoundly, and has given us
good and sufficient reason to hope that another novel from the same hand
and with the same _mise-en-scène_, may before very long come our way.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘This is a South African novel which should arrest
attention. It is of engrossing interest. Mr. Marnan has dramatic power,
a vivid descriptive talent, and a rich and expressive style. He has
written a remarkable book.’


ON THE EDGE OF THE EMPIRE

BY EDGAR JEPSON AND CAPTAIN D. BEAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘Of the wealth and interest and variety of the matter
there can be no question. It might be called the Book of the Sepoy, for
no writer, not even Mr. Kipling himself, has given us a deeper insight
into the character of the Indian fighting man, or brought home to us
more vividly the composite nature of our native regiments.’

=The Daily News.=--‘The picturesque native soldier has never been more
fully described or more realistically painted than in the present
volume. The book is packed full of good stuff, and deserves to be widely
read.’


THE EAGLE’S HEART

BY HAMLIN GARLAND

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘Mr. Garland’s work is always fresh and vigorous, and
this story is full of his characteristic energy. He makes one share with
delight in the irresistible fascination of wild life in the Far West.’

=The Illustrated London News.=--‘If Mr. Hamlin Garland had never written
anything else, _The Eagle’s Heart_ would suffice to win him a
reputation. It is a fine book, instinct with humanity, quivering with
strength, and in every fiber of it alive.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE BETH BOOK

BY SARAH GRAND

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Punch.=--‘The heroine of _The Beth Book_ is one of Sarah Grand’s most
fascinating creations. With such realistic art is her life set forth
that, for a while, the reader will probably be under the impression that
he has before him the actual story of a wayward genius compiled from her
genuine diary. The story is absorbing; the truth to nature in the
characters, whether virtuous, ordinary, or vicious, every reader with
some experience will recognise.’

=The Globe.=--‘It is quite safe to prophesy that those who peruse _The
Beth Book_ will linger delightedly over one of the freshest and deepest
studies of child character ever given to the world, and hereafter will
find it an ever present factor in their literary recollections and
impressions.’


THE HEAVENLY TWINS

BY SARAH GRAND

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘It is so full of interest, and the characters are so
eccentrically humorous yet true, that one feels inclined to pardon all
its faults, and give oneself up to unreserved enjoyment of it.... The
twins Angelica and Diavolo, young barbarians, utterly devoid of all
respect, conventionality, or decency, are among the most delightful and
amusing children in fiction.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Everybody ought to read it, for it is an
inexhaustible source of refreshing and highly stimulating
entertainment.’

=Punch.=--‘The Twins themselves are a creation: the epithet “Heavenly” for
these two mischievous little fiends is admirable.’


IDEALA

BY SARAH GRAND

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Morning Post.=--‘It is remarkable as the outcome of an earnest mind
seeking in good faith the solution of a difficult and ever present
problem.... _Ideala_ is original and somewhat daring.... The story is in
many ways delightful and thought-suggesting.’

=The Liverpool Mercury.=--‘The book is a wonderful one--an evangel for the
fair sex, and at once an inspiration and a comforting companion, to
which thoughtful womanhood will recur again and again.’


OUR MANIFOLD NATURE

BY SARAH GRAND

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘All these studies, male and female alike, are marked by
humour, pathos, and fidelity to life.’

=The Speaker.=--‘In _Our Manifold Nature_ Sarah Grand is seen at her best.
How good that is can only be known by those who read for themselves this
admirable little volume.’

=The Guardian.=--‘_Our Manifold Nature_ is a clever book. Sarah Grand has
the power of touching common things, which, if it fails to make them
“rise to touch the spheres,” renders them exceedingly interesting.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LAND OF COCKAYNE

BY MATILDE SERAO

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘It is long since we have read, and indeed
re-read, any book of modern fiction with so absorbing an interest as
_The Land of Cockayne_, the latest book by Matilde Serao (Heinemann),
and surely as fine a piece of work as the genius of this writer has yet
accomplished. It is splendid! The character-drawing is subtle and
convincing; every touch tells. Such books as _The Land of Cockayne_ are
epoch-making, voices that cry aloud in the wilderness of modern
“literature,” and will be heard while others only cackle.’


THE BALLET DANCER

BY MATILDE SERAO

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Saturday Review.=--‘The work of Madame Serao, a novelist with rare
gifts of observation and faculties of execution, only needs a little
more concentration on a central motive to rank among the finest of its
kind, the short novel of realism. She curiously resembles Prosper
Mérimée in her cold, impersonal treatment of her subject, without
digression or comment; the drawing of clear outlines of action; the
complete exposure of motive and inner workings of impulse; the
inevitable development of given temperaments under given circumstances.
She works with insight, with judgment, and with sincerity.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Few living writers have given us anything equal
to her splendid story _The Land of Cockayne_, and it is much to say that
those who were stirred to enthusiasm by that book will experience no
reaction upon reading the two stories here bound together. Genius is not
too big a word for her.’


THE SCOURGE-STICK

BY MRS. CAMPBELL PRAED

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Observer.=--‘Not only is _The Scourge-Stick_ the best novel that Mrs.
Praed has yet written, but it is one that will long occupy a prominent
place in the literature of the age.’

=The Illustrated London News.=--‘A singularly powerful study of a woman
who fails in everything, only to rise on stepping-stones to higher
things. A succession of strong, natural, and exciting situations.’

=Black and White.=--‘A notable book which must be admitted by all to have
real power, and that most intangible quality--fascination.’


IN HASTE AND AT LEISURE

BY E. LYNN LINTON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Literary World.=--‘Whatever its exaggerations may be, _In Haste and
at Leisure_ remains a notable achievement. It has given us pleasure, and
we can recommend it with confidence.’

=The World.=--‘It is clever, and well written.’

=The Graphic.=--‘It is thoroughly interesting, and it is full of passages
that almost irresistibly tempt quotation.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LONDONERS

BY ROBERT HICHENS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Punch.=--‘Mr. Hichens calls his eccentric story “an absurdity,” and so it
is. As amusing nonsense, written in a happy-go-lucky style, it works up
to a genuine hearty-laugh-extracting scene.... _The Londoners_ is one of
the most outrageous pieces of extravagant absurdity we have come across
for many a day.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘It is all screamingly funny, and does great
credit to Mr. Hichens’s luxuriant imagination.’


AN IMAGINATIVE MAN

BY ROBERT HICHENS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Scotsman.=--‘It is no doubt a remarkable book. If it has almost none
of the humour of its predecessor (_The Green Carnation_), it is written
with the same brilliancy of style, and the same skill is shown in the
drawing of accessories. Mr. Hichens’s three characters never fail to be
interesting. They are presented with very considerable power, while the
background of Egyptian life and scenery is drawn with a sure hand.’


THE FOLLY OF EUSTACE

BY ROBERT HICHENS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The World.=--‘The little story is as fantastic and also as reasonable as
could be desired, with the occasional dash of strong sentiment, the
sudden turning on of the lights of sound knowledge of life and things
that we find in the author when he is most fanciful. The others are
weird enough and strong enough in human interest to make a name for
their writer had his name needed making.’


THE SLAVE

BY ROBERT HICHENS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Speaker.=--‘It tells an extremely interesting story, and it is full
of entertaining episodes. Above all, the romance of London is treated as
it has never been since the glorious reign of Prince Florizel of
Bohemia, and, if only on that account, _The Slave_ is a book for the
busy to remember and for the leisurely to read.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘The book deserves to be widely read. Sir Reuben
Allabruth, a figure of real distinction, will take his place among the
shades of fiction.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

FLAMES

BY ROBERT HICHENS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘A cunning blend of the romantic and the real, the
work of a man who can observe, who can think, who can imagine, and who
can write.... And the little thumb-nail sketches of the London streets
have the grim force of a Callot.’

=The World.=--‘An exceedingly clever and daring work ... a novel so
weirdly fascinating and engrossing that the reader easily forgives its
length. Its unflagging interest and strength, no less than its striking
originality, both of design and treatment, will certainly rank it among
the most notable novels of the season.’


NUDE SOULS

BY BENJAMIN SWIFT

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Mr. W. L. Courtney in the ‘Daily Telegraph.’=--‘Any one who is so
obviously sincere as Mr. Benjamin Swift is an author who must be
reckoned with. The story is very vivid, very poignant, very
fascinating.’

=The World.=--‘Mr. Benjamin Swift was a bold man when he called his new
story _Nude Souls_. There is a self-assertion about this title which
only success could justify. Let it be said at once that the author has
succeeded. He lays absolutely bare before the reader the souls of a
striking company of men and women. There is that about the book which
makes the reader loth to put it down, loth to come to the
end--comprehension of human nature, and relentless power of expression.’


THE REBEL

BY H. B. MARRIOTT WATSON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Morning Post.=--‘The tale is full of incidents and dramatic
situations; the result commands our unstinted admiration. It is an
extraordinarily brilliant performance. Though full of the most subtle
character-drawing, _The Rebel_ is in the main a story of adventure. And
these adventures are related with such sharpness of outline, they are so
vivid, and the style of the author is so brilliant throughout, that were
there not a character in the book worth a moment’s consideration, it
would still be well worth reading.’


SONS OF THE SWORD

BY MARGARET L. WOODS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘To write a good Napoleon novel has long seemed to be one of
those enterprises that attract authors only to overthrow and discomfit
them. Yet Mrs. Woods has come out of this ordeal unscathed, and her good
fortune places her in the front rank of living novelists. Not that it is
merely the Napoleonic scenes which make _Sons of the Sword_ a remarkable
and admirable book. There is much in it besides the vivid glimpses of
the Man of Destiny to attract and interest every kind of reader.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE AWKWARD AGE

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Outlook.=--‘In _The Awkward Age_ Mr. Henry James has surpassed
himself.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘In delicacy of texture, his work, compared to the
work of most, we are strongly inclined to say of all other novelists, is
as a fabric woven of the finest spider’s web to common huckaback. He
suggests more by his reticences than he tells by his statements.... We
should have to search far and wide in modern fiction to find artistry
more finished, so consummate.’


THE TWO MAGICS

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘In _The Two Magics_, the first tale, “The Turn of the
Screw,” is one of the most engrossing and terrifying ghost stories we
have ever read. The other story in the book, “Covering End,” ... is in
its way excellently told.’

=The Daily News.=--‘It is a masterpiece of artistic execution. Mr. James
has lavished upon it all the resources and subtleties of his art. The
workmanship throughout is exquisite in the precision of the touch, in
the rendering of shades of spectral representation.’


THE SPOILS OF POYNTON

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The National Observer.=--‘A work of brilliant fancy, of delicate humour,
of gentle satire, of tragedy and comedy in appropriate admixture. We
congratulate Mr. James without reserve upon the power, the delicacy, and
the charm of a book of no common fascination.’

=The Manchester Guardian.=--‘Delightful reading. The old felicity of
phrase and epithet, the quick, subtle flashes of insight, the fastidious
liking for the best in character and art, are as marked as ever, and
give one an intellectual pleasure for which one cannot be too grateful.’


THE OTHER HOUSE

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily News.=--‘A melodrama wrought with the exquisiteness of a
madrigal. All the characters, however lightly sketched, are drawn with
that clearness of insight, with those minute, accurate, unforeseen
touches that tell of relentless observation.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘A masterpiece of Mr. James’s analytical genius and
finished literary style. It also shows him at his dramatic best. He has
never written anything in which insight and dramatic power are so
marvellously combined with fine and delicate literary workmanship.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

WHAT MAISIE KNEW

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Academy.=--‘We have read this book with amazement and delight: with
amazement at its supreme delicacy; with delight that its author retains
an unswerving allegiance to literary conscience that forbids him to
leave a slipshod phrase, or a single word out of its appointed place.
There are many writers who can write dialogue that is amusing,
convincing, real. But there is none who can reach Mr. James’s
extraordinary skill in tracing dialogue from the first vague impulse in
the mind to the definite spoken word.’


EMBARRASSMENTS

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘Mr. James’s stories are a continued protest against
superficial workmanship and slovenly style. He is an enthusiast who has
devoted himself to keeping alive the sacred fire of genuine literature;
and he has his reward in a circle of constant admirers.’

=The Daily News.=--‘Mr. Henry James is the Meissonier of literary art. In
his new volume, we find all the exquisiteness, the precision of touch,
that are his characteristic qualities. It is a curiously fascinating
volume.’

=The National Observer.=--‘The delicate art of Mr. Henry James has rarely
been seen to more advantage than in these stories.’

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘All four stories are delightful for admirable
workmanship, for nicety and precision of presentation, and “The Way it
Came” is beyond question a masterpiece.’


TERMINATIONS

BY HENRY JAMES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘All the stories are told by a man whose heart and soul are
in his profession of literature.’

=The Athenæum.=--‘The appearance of _Terminations_ will in no way shake
the general belief in Mr. Henry James’s accomplished touch and command
of material. On the contrary, it confirms conclusions long since
foregone, and will increase the respect of his readers.... With such
passages of trenchant wit and sparkling observation, surely in his best
manner, Mr. James ought to be as satisfied as his readers cannot fail to
be.’


SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN

BY MAARTEN MAARTENS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Times.=--‘Maarten Maartens here shows himself a master of the short
story, and more of a cosmopolitan than we had suspected.’

=The Academy.=--‘We have enjoyed the book, and we think it contains much
excellent work. It has all the wit, the discretion, the worldliness of
Mr. Anthony Hope’s social studies. And it has, in addition, a genuine
cosmopolitanism rare enough in English fiction.’

=The Outlook.=--‘The women Mr. Maartens has known are various and
interesting, and the episodes which he has chosen to depict are cleverly
imagined.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘Mr. Maarten Maartens displays all his genius as a
humorist, a story-teller, and a painter of talent.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE DANCER IN YELLOW

BY W. E. NORRIS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Guardian.=--‘A very clever and finished study of a dancer at one of
the London theatres. We found the book very pleasant and refreshing, and
laid it down with the wish that there were more like it.’

=The World.=--‘_The Dancer in Yellow_ takes us by surprise. The story is
both tragic and pathetic.... We do not think he has written any more
clever and skilful story than this one, and particular admiration is due
to the byways and episodes of the narrative.’


THE WIDOWER

BY W. E. NORRIS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=St. James’s Gazette.=--‘Mr. Norris’s new story is one of his best. There
is always about his novels an atmosphere of able authorship ...and _The
Widower_ is handled throughout in the perfect manner to which Mr.
Norris’s readers are accustomed.’

=Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘There is distinction of all kinds in every
paragraph, and the whole is worthy of the delicately-finished details.
Mr. Norris is always delightfully witty, clever, and unfailing in
delicacy and point of style and manner, breezily actual, and briskly
passing along. In a word, he is charming.’


MARIETTA’S MARRIAGE

BY W. E. NORRIS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘A fluent style, a keen insight into certain types of
human nature, a comprehensive and humorous view of modern society--these
are gifts Mr. Norris has already displayed, and again exhibits in his
present volume. From the first chapter to the last, the book runs
smoothly and briskly, with natural dialogue and many a piquant
situation.’

=The Daily News.=--‘Every character in the book is dexterously drawn. Mr.
Norris’s book is interesting, often dramatic, and is the work of, if not
a deep, a close and humorous observer of men and women.’


A VICTIM OF GOOD LUCK

BY W. E. NORRIS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘It has not a dull page from first to last. Any
one with normal health and taste can read a book like this with real
pleasure.’

=The Spectator.=--‘The brightest and cleverest book which Mr. Norris has
given us since he wrote _The Rogue_.

=The Saturday Review.=--‘Novels which are neither dull, unwholesome,
morbid, nor disagreeable, are so rare in these days, that _A Victim of
Good Luck_ ... ought to find a place in a book-box filled for the most
part with light literature.... We think it will increase the reputation
of an already very popular author.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE COUNTESS RADNA

BY W. E. MORRIS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Speaker.=--‘In style, skill in construction, and general “go,” it is
worth a dozen ordinary novels.’

=Black and White.=--‘The novel, like all Mr. Norris’s work, is an
excessively clever piece of work, and the author never for a moment
allows his grasp of his plot and his characters to slacken.’

=The Westminster Gazette.=--‘Mr. Norris writes throughout with much
liveliness and force, saying now and then something that is worth
remembering. And he sketches his minor characters with a firm touch.’


THE IMAGE BREAKERS

BY GERTRUDE DIX

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Outlook.=--‘We have here a book packed with thought, suggestive,
sincere. The story is told supremely well. It has construction, it has
atmosphere. The characters live, breathe, love, suffer. Everything is on
the high plane of literature. It is a book of absorbing interest.’


A PROPHET OF THE REAL

BY ESTHER MILLER

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Miss Miller’s study is both striking and
original. The young authoress knows how to tell her story, and her
manner, the way in which she describes the emotions of her characters,
is always adequate and often eloquent. She shows us the girl as she was
in the days of her servitude, gives us all the illuminating details of
her sordid existence; then she shows us the pathetic blossoming of the
nipped bud under the influence of kindness, the transformation of the
morbid girl into a beautiful and gracious woman. Miss Miller is really
to be congratulated on her heroine. The study is interesting and
faithful.’


THE GLOWWORM

BY MAY BATEMAN

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Academy.=--‘It has quite a character of its own; it has charm and it
has feeling. The minor characters are all good, and there is a pleasant
humour always at hand to relieve a story otherwise tragical enough.’

=Punch.=--‘A clever, well-written story.’

=Truth.=--‘As interesting as it is original.’

=The Morning Post.=--‘It is distinctly a fine piece of fiction, for the
author can delineate character with precision and sympathy, and her
style is admirably polished.’

=The Daily Telegraph.=--‘Miss Bateman has given us a very careful and
sympathetic story of the successive phases of a fine nature; the
character is consistently developed with a tender compassion for the
impracticable and appreciation for the beautiful. The authoress has,
moreover, a fund of shrewd common-sense which, combined with keen
observation and humour, makes her book both readable and entertaining.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

GILLETTE’S MARRIAGE

BY MAMIE BOWLES

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Athenæum.=--‘This is an extraordinarily clever performance and will
be found most absorbing. The characterisation is excellent, the dialogue
natural and alive, the emotion poignant and real.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘It is decidedly clever and human, and the
brilliantly bold heroism of Gillette’s final act of self-sacrifice is
effective. One must always admit its undeniable power.’


THE FALL OF LORD PADDOCKSLEA

BY LIONEL LANGTON

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The World.=--‘A very clever and good-humoured _jeu d’esprit_. The talk is
excellent, the atmosphere of worldliness and self-interest tempered by
the very best manners and form, the verisimilitude of Lady
Killiecrankie, are all much to be commended.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Amusing snapshots of current political life.’

=The Westminster Gazette.=--‘A clever and ingenious story of political
life, told with a touch of cynicism which is redeemed by a background of
romance.’

=The Standard.=--‘Will no doubt be read with amusement by those who find
delight in the personal journalism of the day, and have the curiosity to
fit the characters to the originals. There is enough bright writing in
the book to make it a pleasant companion.’


THE WHITE TERROR

BY FÉLIX GRAS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘The fascination of _The Reds of the Midi_ and _The
Terror_ is exerted with equal force and charm in their brilliant sequel,
_The White Terror_. Few narratives in modern fiction are more thrilling.
M. Gras has the gift of achieving the most vivid and poignant results by
a method devoid of artifice or elaboration. The narrative is a
masterpiece of simplicity and _naïveté_: a stirring and richly coloured
recital.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘The book is full of living pictures. The
feverishness, the uncertainty, of everything and everybody are most
powerfully brought out.’


THE TERROR

BY FÉLIX GRAS

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Those who shared Mr. Gladstone’s admiration for
_The Reds of the Midi_ will renew it when they read _The Terror_. It is
a stirring and vivid story, full of perilous and startling adventures,
and without one interval of dulness.... It excites and absorbs the
reader’s attention. The excitement grows with the development of the
plot, and the incidents are told with much spirit.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

BY BREAD ALONE

BY I. K. FRIEDMAN

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘A remarkably interesting, able, and right-minded study
of the labour question in the United States. The employer, the
capitalist, the “hands,” the Socialist, the Anarchist, the would-be
Saviour of Society,--all are fully, sympathetically, and convincingly
presented. There are powerful scenes in the book; there are characters
that touch.’

=The Athenæum.=--‘There are descriptions which tell. There are remarkable
scenes painted, as it were, with blood and fire. Man and machinery in
grim revolt are portrayed, with hand-to-hand fights and many gruesome
death-scenes.’


LOVE AND HIS MASK

BY MENIE MURIEL DOWIE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=Literature.=--‘All of the many different kinds of novel readers will
enjoy _Love and his Mask_.... The story is a refreshment from beginning
to end. _Love and his Mask_ will be one of the most popular novels of
the autumn season.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘A delightful romance.’

=Punch.=--‘A very clever novel, brightly written.’


FOREST FOLK

BY JAMES PRIOR

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The Spectator.=--‘We have no hesitation in welcoming _Forest Folk_ as one
of the very best and most original novels of the year, and our only
regret is that we have failed to proclaim the fact sooner. The
characterisation is excellent, the narrative is crowded with exciting
incident, and the author has, in addition to an eye for the picturesque,
a quite peculiar gift for describing effects of light and colour.’

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘Mr. Prior has a large knowledge and is a keen
observer of nature; he is cunning in devising strong situations,
dramatic in describing them. His are forest folk indeed, men and women
of flesh and blood.’


TANGLED TRINITIES

BY DANIEL WOODROFFE

_In One Volume, price 6s._

=The St. James’s Gazette.=--‘Full of live people, whom one remembers long.
The whole book is charming.’

=The Illustrated London News.=--‘Mr. Woodroffe writes with admirable
clearness, picturesqueness, and restraint; he has an eye for character,
and a grip of tragic possibilities. It is a moving story, and stamps the
author as one of the few real artists who are now writing English
fiction.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

GABRIELE D’ANNUNZIO’S NOVELS

=W. L. Courtney in the Daily Telegraph.=--_D’Annunzio is one of the great
artistic energies of the age. He is the incarnation of the Latin genius
just as Rudyard Kipling is the incarnation of the Anglo-Saxon genius. He
has invented new harmonies of prose._

_In One Volume, price 6s. each_


THE FLAME OF LIFE

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘A work of genius, unique, astounding. There are
passages that sweep one headlong, and the whole leaves an indelible
impression.’

=The Standard.=--‘The pages are rich in symbolic imagery, in beautiful
word-pictures of Venice, and are saturated by the spirit of the
Renaissance in its most luxurious form.’


THE CHILD OF PLEASURE

=The Academy.=--’ ... Clever, subtle, to the point of genius.’

=The Daily Mail.=--‘A powerful study of passion, masterly of its kind.’

=The Daily Graphic.=--‘The poetic beauty and richness of the language make
it a sensuous, glowing poem in prose.’

=The Scotsman.=--‘The strength of the book lies in the intensity with
which the writer brings out the pleasures and pains of his creatures.’


THE VICTIM

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘No word but “genius” will fit his analysis of
the mental history of the faithless husband.’

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘The book contains many descriptive passages of
rare beauty--passages which by themselves are lovely little prose
lyrics.... It is a self-revelation; the revelation of the sort of self
that D’Annunzio delineates with a skill and knowledge so extraordinary.
The soul of the man, raw, bruised, bleeding, is always before us.’


THE TRIUMPH OF DEATH

=The Pall Mall Gazette.=--‘A masterpiece. The story holds and haunts one.
Unequalled even by the great French contemporary whom, in his realism,
D’Annunzio most resembles, is the account of the pilgrimage to the
shrine of the Virgin by the sick, deformed, and afflicted. It is a great
prose poem, that, of its kind, cannot be surpassed. Every detail of the
scene is brought before us in a series of word-pictures of wonderful
power and vivid colouring, and the ever-recurring refrain _Viva Maria!
Maria Evviva!_ rings in our ears as we lay down the book. It is the work
of a master, whose genius is beyond dispute.’


THE VIRGINS OF THE ROCKS

=The Daily Chronicle.=--‘He writes beautifully, and this book, by the way,
is most admirably translated. The picture he presents of these three
princesses in their sun-baked, mouldering, sleepy palace is, as we look
back upon it, strangely impressive and even haunting.’


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 BEDFORD STREET, W.C.





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