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BY ' 







McClelland & goodchild 


Copyright, iqi 2, 

By A. S. M. Hutchinson. 

All rights reserved. 

First Edition Printed, December, 1912 
Reprinted, January, 1913 (three times) 
February, 1913 (three times) 
Reprinted, March, 1913 

up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co., Norwood, Mass.,U.S.A 
Presswork by S. J. Parkhill & Co., Boston, Mass., U.S.A. 

Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he 
That every man in arms should wish to be? 

— It is the generous spirit, who, . . . 

Come when it will, is equal to the need . . . 
Who, with a toward or untoward lot, 
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not — 
Plays, in the many games of life, that one 
Where what he most doth value must be won: 
Whom neither shape of danger can dismay, 

Nor thought of tender happiness betray. 

— Wordsworth. 






I. A Page - of the Peerage .... 





A Change in the Peerage 




Into the Peerage . 




A Foretaste of the Peerage 




Misreading a Peeress .... 




Miscalculating a Peer .... 







Love trims Wreckers’ Lamps 





Love leads an Expedition into the Unforeseen 



A Lovers’ Litany. 



What the Tooo-firty Winner brought 





What Audrey brought Lady Burdon 





Arrival of the Happy Warrior . 





Enlistment of the Happy Warrior . 









Percival has a Peep at the ’Normous 






Follows a Frog and finds a Tadpole 

• • 





• • 




III. Lady Burdon comes to “Post Offic” . . . 144 

IV. Little ’Orses and Little Stu-pids .... 152 

V. The World as Showman : All the Jolly Fun . 168 

VI. Japhra and Ima and Snow-White-and-Rose-Red . 190 

VII. Burdon House Leased : The Old Manor Occupied 204 



I. Plans and Dreams and Promises .... 217 

II. Fears and Visions and Discoveries .... 225 
- III. A Friend Unchanged — and a Friend Grown . 234 

IV. Ima’s Lessons.241 

V. Japhra’s Lessons.246 

VI. With Ima on Plowman’s Ridge.255 

VII. Alone on Plowman’s Ridge.262 

VIII. With Dora in the Drive.268 

IX. With Aunt Maggie in Farewell .... 282 

X. With Egbert in Freedom.290 

XI. With Japhra on the Road.296 

XII. Letters of Recall.304 

XIII. Mr. Amber does not Recognise.311 

XIV. Dora Remembers.316 




I. Boss Maddox shows his Hand.327 

II. Ima shows her Heart.336 

III. Percival shows his Fists.345 

IV. Foxy Pinsent v. Japhra’s Gentleman . . . 351 





A Fight that is Told . 


• • 





The Sticks come Out — and a Knife 

• • 




Japhra and Ima. Japhra and Aunt Maggie . 




A Cold ’Un for Egbert Hunt. 


’Uns for 



• • 




One comes over the Ridge . 


• • 




Two ride Together 


• • 






News of Hunt. News of Rollo. 


of Dora 




Prelude to the Big Fight . 


• • 




The Big Fight Opens . 


• • 




Always Victory .... 










This life we stumble through, or strut through, or 
through which we creep and whine, or through which 
we dance and whistle, is built upon hazard — and that 
is why it is such a very wobbling affair, made up of tricks 
and chances; hence its miseries, but hence also its 
spice; hence its tragedies, and hence also its romance. 
A dog I know — illustrating the point — passed from 
its gate into the village street one morning, and merely 
to ease the itch of a momentary fit of temper, or merely 
to indulge a prankish whim, put a firm bite into a plump 
leg. Mark, now, the hazard foundation of this chancey 
life. A dozen commonplace legs were offered the dog; 
it might have tasted the lot and procured no more 
pother than the passing of a few shillings, the solatium 
of a pair of trousers or so. One leg was as good as 
another to the dog; yet it chanced upon the vicar’s 
(whose back was turned), enjoyed its bite, jerked from 
the devout but startled man an amazingly coarse expres- 




sion, and hence arose alarums and excursions, a village 
set by the ears, family feuds, a budding betrothal crushed 
by parental strife (one party owning the dog and the 
other calling the vicar Father) and the genesis of a dead 
set against the vicar’s curate (who hit at the dog and 
struck the priest) that ended in the unfortunate young 
man having to leave the village. 

But all that is by the way, and is only offered to your 
notice because commonplace examples are usually the 
most striking illustrations. It is introduced to excuse 
the starting of this story with its least and worst char¬ 
acter. He figures but occasionally on these pages; 
yet by this chance and by that he comes to play a vital 
part as the story draws to an end; he comes, in fact, 
to close it: and therefore, out of his place, he shall be 
the first to occupy your attention. 

Egbert Hunt his name. 


Miller’s Field, Hertfordshire, an outer suburb of 
London and within the cockney twang, was put into a 
proper commotion by the news that had brought a 
title into its midst — had left a peerage as casually as 
the morning milk at its desirable residence “ Hillside,” 
where Mr. and Mrs. Letham (Lord and Lady Burdon 
as suddenly and completely as Monday becomes Tues¬ 
day) made their home. The commotion chattered and 
clacked in every household and in every chance meet¬ 
ing in the streets; but it swirled most violently about 
Hillside and in Hillside, and its brunt — if his own 
statement may be accepted — pressed most heavily 
upon Egbert Hunt. 

Egbert, morose, a pallid and stoutish boy of fourteen 



years, constituted the male staff at Hillside. This boy 
toiled sullenly at a diversity of tasks, knives, boots, 
coals, windows: any soul-corroding duties of such char¬ 
acter, throughout the earlier hours of the day. In the 
afternoon he fitted himself into a tight page-boy’s suit 
that had been procured through the advertisement col¬ 
umns of the “ Lady,” and that, on the very day of its 
arrival, had been shorn of much of the glory it first pos¬ 
sessed in Egbert’s eyes. 

Sunning himself proudly down the village street, the 
lad had been greeted with a howl of “ Marbles !” by the 
ribald companions he thought to impress. 

“Marbles! They’re buttons, yer silly toads!” the 
indignant Egbert had cried. 

“ Wot 0 ! Marbles !” they jeered, and two of the round 
silver buttons were wrenched off in the distressing affair 
that followed. 

Egbert carried them home in his pocket. The inci¬ 
dent augmented the hostile and suspicious air with which, 
from his childhood upwards, he regarded the world. 
For this attitude the accident attending his birth was 
primarily responsible. When he presented this morose 
disposition to his mother’s friends, Mrs. Hunt, in her 
softer moods, would instruct them that his sourness — 
as she termed it — was due to the sudden and unex¬ 
pected discharge of a cannon during her visit to a 
circus, when Egbert was but eight months on the road 
to this vale of tears. The cannon had hastened his 
arrival (she never knew, so she said, how she managed 
to get home) and the abruptness, she was convinced, 
was responsible for his glum demeanor. By a dark 
process of reasoning, wherein were combined retribu¬ 
tion to the clown who had fired the cannon and recom¬ 
pense to the child it had unduly impelled into the world, 



she had named the boy Egbert, this being the title by 
which the clown was announced on the circus pro¬ 

The story became a popular joke against the lad; to 
shout “Bang!” at Egbert from behind concealment 
became a favourite sport of his grosser companions. 
It rankled him sorely. For one so young he was un¬ 
naturally embittered; his digestion, moreover, was 


Upon the evening of the day on which his employers, 
Mr. and Mrs. Letham, had been miraculously elevated 
to the style and title of Lord and Lady Burdon, Egbert’s 
hostility towards the world was at its height. From 
half-past three onwards, callers followed one another, 
or passed one another, over the Hillside threshold. Eg¬ 
bert was bone-tired. It was close upon seven when 
kindly Mrs. Archer, the doctor’s wife, addressing him as 
he showed her out, inquired in her gentle way after his 
mother and passed down the path with a “Well, good 
night, Egbert!” 

“Good night, mum,” Egbert muttered. He added 
in a lower but more devout key, “An’ I yope ter Gawd 
yer the last of um.” 

The cool air invited him to the gate and he leaned 
wearily over it, his bitterness of spirit increased by a 
boy who, spying him, cried, “Bang!” as he passed, 
“Bang!” in retort to Egbert’s tongue thrust out in 
hatred and contempt across the gate, and “Bang ! bang ! ” 
again, as the gathering evening took him in her trailing 

Egbert drew in his tongue with a groan of misery and 



hate, of indigestion and of weariness. An approach¬ 
ing footstep along the road caused him to thrust it out 
again and to keep it extended, armed lest the newcomer 
should be one of the bangers who irked his young life. 

It chanced to be his father, returning from work in 
the fields. Mr. Hunt paused opposite his son and gazed 
for a few moments at the outstretched tongue. At some 
pain to himself Egbert pressed it to further extension: 
the boy was a little short-sighted and in the gloom did 
not recognise his parent. 

“Tongue sore?” Mr. Hunt inquired, after a space. 

Recognising the voice, Egbert restored the member to 
his mouth. 

“Comes of tellin’ a lie, so I’ve ’eard,” said Mr. Hunt. 

Considerable sympathy was in his tone; but Egbert 
gave no more attention to this view of retributive jus¬ 
tice than he had vouchsafed to the question preceding 

Father and son — neither greatly given to words when 
together — continued to regard each other solemnly 
across the gate. Presently Egbert jerked his head back 
at the house. “Heard about it?” he inquired. 

The news had long since permeated the village. Mr. 
Hunt said, “Ah!” and taking a step forward, gazed 
earnestly at the house, first on one side of Egbert’s 
head and then on the other. His air was that of a man 
who, the inmates suddenly having reached the peerage, 
rather expected to see a coronet suspended from the 
roof or a scarlet robe fluttering from a window; and as 
he stepped back he said, “Ah !” again, in a tone that 
committed him, as a result of his observations, neither 
to complete surprise nor complete satisfaction. 

“Ah !” said Mr. Hunt, and shifted the spade he car¬ 
ried from his left hand to his right and waited. 



“Goin’ to take me with ’em when they move to the 
’Ouse o’ Lords,” Egbert announced. “Told me so, 
dinner time.” 

Mr. Hunt put the spade before him, and leaning on 
it gazed profoundly at his son. “Ah ! You’ll wear one 
of them wing things side of yer ’at, that’s what you’ll 
wear,” he informed him. “Tall ’at.” 

“Cockatoos they call um, don’t they?” Egbert in¬ 

“That’s right. Side of yer ’at,” his father replied. 
“Tall ’at.” 

Egbert appeared to ponder gloomily on the prospect. 
It was the habit of this boy’s sombre mind to suspect a 
hidden indignity in each change thrust into his life. 
Seeking it in the cockatoos, he presently found it. 

“Make me a Guy-forx again, I suppose,” he said. 
“Same as these ’ere buttons.” 

Mr. Hunt took a step forward, and peering over the 
gate gazed down at his son’s buttons with considerable 

The inspection finished, “Different in the ’Ouse o’ 
Lords,” he consoled. “Expec’ they’ll all wear them 
wing things side of their ’ats there. Call ’em same as 
they call you, that’s what you can do. Tall ’ats.” 

But this boy’s pessimism was incurable. “I’ll have 
the biggest, you’ll find,” Egbert responded. “Else 
they’ll give me two an’ make a Guy-forx of me that 

Mr. Hunt mentally visualised cockades the size of 
albatross wings on each side of his son’s hat. The pic¬ 
ture made him unable to deny the slightly outre effect 
that would be produced, and he began to move away. 

“ Cornin’ in to see your mother to-night, I suppose ? ” 
he asked. 



Egbert grunted. 

“ Tongue still sore ?” 

“Boffin’,” said Egbert, and turning from the gate 
moved moodily towards the house. 

At nine o’clock, following his usual Tuesday night 
privilege, he betook himself down the village street to 
his parents’ cottage. A further word or two dropped 
by his mistress joined with kitchen gossip during sup¬ 
per to enable him to supply something of the informa¬ 
tion for which he found his mother impatiently waiting. 

“So you’re goin’ with ’em, I hear?” she greeted 

Egbert nodded. 

“Think you was goin’ to prising, ’stead of to a lord’s 
castle, one would, judgin’ by your face,” Mrs. Hunt 

“ Goin’ to wear one o’ them wing things side of his 
’at, that’s what he’s goin’ to wear,” announced her hus¬ 
band. “Tall ’at.” 

“An’ oughter be proud,” cried Mrs. Hunt. “Hold 
yer yed up, Sulky, do !” 

Sulky gave a stiff jerk to his bullet head. “Not goin’ 
to the ’Ouse o’ Lords, after all,” he answered his father. 

“’Ouse o’Lords ! ’Ouse o’ nonsense!” Mrs. Hunt 
exclaimed. “ Goin’ to live in a castle, that’s where you’re 
goin’ to live, young man. Down in Wiltsheer; the 
cook told me all about it when I popped round this 

“Goin’ to wear one o’ them wing things side of ’is 
’at, that’s what he’s goin’ to wear,” pronounced Mr. 
Hunt doggedly. “Tall ’at. Tall ’at,” he reaffirmed; 
but “In a castle!” Mrs. Hunt continued, heedless of 
the interruption. “Burdon Old Manor, they call it, 
at a place called Little Letham, which Letham is the 



family name of the family, they giving their name to 
it as is very often the case, and a proper castle it is, too, 
though called a Manor.” 

N 'Mrs. Hunt foamed out this information with a heat 
that increased as she perceived the morose indifference 
with which Egbert accepted it. Throwing herself 
into the third person, “ Don’t you ’ear what your 
mother is a telling of you, Sulk?” she demanded. Her 
eye caught on the wall behind Sulk’s head a coloured 
presentation calendar depicting Lambert Simnel at 
scullion’s work in an enormous kitchen, and she took 
inspiration. “A proper castle, your mother’s telling 
you, where you’ll have scullings in the kitchen; that’s 
what you’ll ’ave, you nasty sulk, you! Can’t you say 
something ? ” 

“I’ll sculling ’em!” breathed Egbert, yielding to her 
request. He scented in this new form of acquaintance 
some fresh trial and indignity. “I’ll sculling ’em !” he 

His fierce intention earned him at once, and earned 
him full, the thump upon his head that his mother’s 
excitement and his own gloom had been conspiring to 
inflict ever since he entered the cottage; and he trudged 
his way back to Hillside viciously embittered against 
every point of an aching day: his mistress, her visitors, 
the approaching change in his life, his mother, the “ scul- 
lings.” “Tyrangs!” said Egbert. He stumbled over a 
stone as he pronounced the savage word and bit his 
tongue most painfully. “Boil yer,” said Egbert to 
the stone; and, including the stone with the “tyrangs,” 
as wearily he got him to bed, “Boil um!” he said. 
‘ ‘ Tyrangs ! Toads ! ’ ’ 



This hazard foundation of life! As a stone tossed 
down a hillside dislodges others and sets them rolling, 
themselves dislodging more till the first light pitch will 
gather to a rumble where was peace, the first stone 
cause to jump and shout many score that might have 
held their place long after the thrower’s idle hand 
was equal dust with the dust of their descent — so it 
is with the lightest action that the least of us may idly 
toss upon our small affairs. We cannot move alone. 
Life has us in a web, within whose meshes none may 
stir a hand but he pulls here, loosens there, and sets a 
wave of movement through a hundred tangles of the 

This hazard foundation of life! Egbert Hunt was 
made to lean wearily over the gate that evening and the 
toads and “tyrangs” whose oppression had cost him a 
bitter day were set in his path by a movement in the 
web, leagues upon leagues of land and sea from Miller’s 
Field. Life has us in a web. In one remote corner an 
Afridi tribesman shot a British officer: that was his 
movement in the meshes, and swift, swift, the chain 
of tugs set up thereby acted upon a morose page-boy 
in another remote corner, rendering him bone-tired 
through ushering the visitors come to congratulate those 
who had stepped into the dead man’s shoes. 




This hazard touch even in the billet that the Afridi 
tribesman selected for his bullet! In sheeting rain, 
behind a rock above a pass on the northwestern frontier 
of India, Multan Khan — Afridi, one-time sepoy, de¬ 
serter from his regiment, scoundrel, first-class shot — 
snuggled his cheek against his stolen rifle, hesitated for 
a moment between the heads of three British officers, 
drew a line on one, pressed the trigger; and, while he 
chuckled over his success, himself pitched dead with a 
bullet through the incautious skull he had craned over 
the rock the better to enjoy the fruits of his skill. 

Brief his pleasure but lusty the tug he had given the 
web. The news of it reached London just in time to 
catch the final edition of the evening papers as they 
went to press, just in time to supply a good contents- 
bill for an uncommonly dull night. 





went flaming down the streets, substantiated in the 
news columns by a brief message announcing Lord 
Burdon’s name among the casualties of a brisk little 
engagement in the Frontier Campaign. 

The morning papers did better with it, particularly 
that which Egbert Hunt took in from the doorstep of 
Hillside. This paper’s “Own Correspondent” with the 
British force, eluding vigilance, had enjoyed the fortune 
of getting among the party detailed for clearing the 
rocks whence Multan Khan and his friends had made 
themselves surprisingly unpleasant; and his long de- 



spatch, well handled in Fleet Street, bravely headlined 

Gallant Young Peer 

Lord Burdon Killed in Sharp Frontier Engagement 
Leads Dashing Charge 

and nicely rounded off below with a paragraph written 
up from “cuttings about Lord Burdon” in the news¬ 
paper’s library, was distributed far and wide on the 
morrow. The journalists dished it up, the presses ham¬ 
mered it out, the carts, the trains, and the boys galloped 
it broadcast over the country. To some it fetched 
tragedy (as we shall see); to others idle interest; to 
Egbert Hunt a bone-aching day and cruel indignities 
(as have been shown); to Mrs. Letham bewildering 




It made Mrs. Letham very excited. Mrs. Letham, 
coming upon it as she idly turned over the newspaper at 
her breakfast, took a bang at the heart that for the mo¬ 
ment made the print difficult to read. Recovering, she 
read it through, her pulses drumming, her breath catch¬ 
ing, her hands shaking so that the paper rustled a little 
between them. She half rose from her seat, then read 
again. She read a third time and now pursued the lines 
to that subjoined paragraph written up from the “ cut¬ 
tings about Lord Burdon.” 

“Lord Burdon, the twelfth Baron, was attached to 
the staff of General Sir Wry ford Sheringham, command¬ 
ing the expeditionary force. He was a lieutenant in 
the 30th Hussars and left England in October last with 
General Sheringham when the latter went out to take 
command. Lord Burdon, who only attained his ma¬ 
jority in April last, was unmarried. This is the first 
time since the creation of the Barony in 1660 that the 
title has not passed directly from holder to eldest son; 
and about Little Letham, Wilts, where is Burdon Old 
Manor, the family seat, the expressions “ Safe as a Burdon 
till he’s got his heir,” and “Safe as a Burdon heir” have 
passed into the common parlance of the countryside. 




The successor is of a very remote branch — Mr. Maurice 
Redpath Letham, whose paternal great-grandfather was 
the eighth baron. It will be noticed as a most singular 
event that the first break in a direct succession extending 
over two hundred years should cause the new heir to 
be found in the line of no fewer than four generations 
ago of his house.” 

When Mrs. Letham presently arose, she arose sud¬ 
denly as if she forced herself to move against spells that 
numbed her movements. She arose, the paper clutched 
between her hands, and for a space she stood with a 
dizzy air, as if her thoughts reeled in a giddy maze and 
perplexed her actions. A jostle of visions — half caught, 
bewildering glimpses of what this thing meant to her — 
spun through her brain, the mind shaping them quicker 
than the mental eye could distinguish them, as one half- 
stunned by a blow, dizzy between its violence and the 
onward pressure of events. She put a hand for support 
upon the table before her and felt, but did not think to 
end, the unpleasant shrinking of her flesh communicated 
by her fingers scraping the wood where they bunched 
the cloth beneath them. 

She was Lady Burdon . . .! 


With that amazement singing in her ears, and recov¬ 
ered from the first effects of her bewilderment, she went 
quickly to the door and excitedly up the stairs. She 
was thirty-five; they called her pretty; and certainly 
she made an attractive presence as she came to the 
threshold of the room where she sought her husband. 
Her entry was abrupt: a quick jerk on the door handle, 
the door wide open and she with a sudden movement 



standing there, tense, animated, a flush on her cheeks, 
sparkle in her eyes, and a high, glad, strange note in 
the “ Maurice !” that she cried. “ Maurice !” 

“ Con-found!” came the answer. “Conster-wa- 
tion!” and illustrating the reason of the words, a 
fleck of blood came through the snowy lather on a chin 
in process of being shaved. 

Mr. Letham — portly; forty; pleasant of counte¬ 
nance in a loose-lipped, good-natured fashion; in a shirt 
and trousers before the looking-glass; pain on face; 
finger firmly on the blood stain; razor in the other hand 
— Mr. Letham peered short-sightedly into the mirror, 
made a very squeamish stroke with the razor in the 
vicinity of the wound, and, quickly over his concern, 
pleasantly addressed his wife. 

“ ’Morning, old girl. I say, you made me jump. Am 
I so fearfully late? What’s for breakfast?” 

He did not turn to face her. Viewed from behind, 
half-hitched trousers and bulging shirt, he had a lump¬ 
ish appearance, and it was the more inelegant for the 
contortions of his arms and shoulders, characteristic of 
a clumsy shaver. 

The spectacle caused Mrs. Letham a pucker of the 
brows that marred her rosy animation. She said, 
“Maurice! Do turn round! I’ve something to tell 

“M-m-m,” murmured Mr. Letham, at very tick¬ 
lish work with the razor. 


“M-m-m — M-m-m. Beastly rude, I know. Haif¬ 
a-second, old girl. This is a most infernal job —” 

She interrupted him, “Oh, listen! Listen! In this 
paper here—” Her voice caught. “In this paper — 
you are Lord Burdon !” 



Mr. Letham, signalling amusement as best he was 
able, gave a kind of wriggle of his back, held his breath 
while he made another stroke with the razor, and ex¬ 
pired the breath with : “Well, I’ll buy a new razor then, 
hanged if I won’t. This infernal thing—” and he 
bent towards the glass, peering at the reflection of the 
skin he had cleared. 

The door behind him slammed violently, and then for 
the first time he turned. He had thought her gone — 
angry, as she was often angry, at his mild joking. In¬ 
stead he saw her standing there, one hand behind her 
in the action with which she had swung-to the door, the 
other clutching the newspaper all rumpled up against her 
bosom; and there was that in her face, in her eyes, and 
in the tremble of her parted lips that made him change 
the easy, tolerant smile and the light banter with which 
he turned to her. “Only my silly fun, Nelly,” he began. 
“What is it? Some howler in the newspaper? Let’s 
have a — ” Then appreciated the pose, the eyes, the 
parted lips; and changed nervously to: “Eh? Eh? 
What is it? What’s up?” 

She broke out: “Your fun! Will you only listen! 
It’s true — true what I tell you ! You are Lord Burdon.” 
Angry and incoherent she became, for her husband 
blinked at her, and looked untidy and looked doltish. 
“He’s unmarried. I was trying only the other day to 
interest you in what that meant. When his uncle died 
last August I spoke to you about it —” 

Mr. Letham, blinking, more untidy, more doltish: 
“Who’s unmarried ?” 

And she cried at him: “Young Lord Burdon! 
Young Lord Burdon is dead! He’s been killed in the 
fighting in India — ” 

She stopped. She had moved him at last. 




Mr. Letham laid down his razor — slowly, letting the 
handle slip noiselessly from his fingers to the dressing- 
table. Slowly also he lifted his face towards his wife, 
and she saw his mild forehead all puckered, his eyes 
dimmed with a bemused air, his loose mouth parted : she 
particularly saw the comical aspect given to his perturba¬ 
tion by its setting of little patches of soap with the little 
trickle of red at the chin. 

He put out a hand for the paper and made a slow step 
towards her. “Eh?” he said — a kind of bleat, it 
sounded to her. 

“No! Listen!” she told him. “Listen to this at 
the end of the account,” and she spread the sheet in her 
hands. A little difficult to find the place ... a little 
difficult to control her voice. . . . “Listen!” and she 
found and read aloud, in jerky sentences, the paragraph 
that had beenmade out of “cuttings about Lord Burdon.” 

Almost in a whisper the vital clause “. . . the suc¬ 
cessor is of a very remote branch — Mr. Maurice Redpath 
Letham , whose paternal great-grandfather was the eighth 
baron. ...” 

And in a whisper, dizzy again with the amazement of 
it: “Maurice ! Do you realise?” 

His turn for bewilderment. He ignored her appeal. 
He did not heed her agitation. He took the paper from 
her and she read that in his eyes — preoccupation with 
some idea outside her range — that caused her own to 
harden. She crossed and stood against the bed rail, and 
she eyed him with narrowing gaze as he read Our Own 
Correspondent’s despatch. 

“Poor young beggar!” he murmured, following the 
story. “Poor, plucky young beggar !” 



She just watched his face, comical with its dabs of 
drying soap, reddening a little, eyelids blinking. She 
watched him reach the fold of the paper, ignore the para¬ 
graph relating to himself, and turn again to Our Own 
Correspondent’s account. “Poor — poor, plucky young 
beggar!” he repeated. 

She gave a little catch at her breath. He exasperated 
her — exasperated ! Here was the most amazing fortune 
suddenly theirs, and he was blind to it! Often Mrs. 
Letham flamed against her husband those outbursts of 
almost ungovernable exasperation that a dull intelli¬ 
gence, fumbling with an idea, arouses in the quick-witted. 
They are the more violent, these outbursts, if the stupid 
fumbling, fumbling with some moral issue, conveys a 
reproach to the quicker wit. She was made to feel such 
a reproach by that reiterated “Poor young beggar ! Poor, 
plucky young beggar!” It intensified the outbreak of 
exasperation that threatened her; and she told herself 
the reproach was unmerited, and that intensified her 
anger more. It was nothing to her and less than nothing, 
this boy’s death; but she had rushed up to her husband 
the better to enjoy her natural joy by sharing it with him, 
and ready, if he had met her excitement, to compassion¬ 
ate the fate of young Lord Burdon. He greeted her, in¬ 
stead, only with “Poor young beggar! Poor, plucky 
young beggar!” She caught her breath. Exaspera¬ 
tion surged like a live thing within her. If he said it 
again ! If he said it again, she would break out! She 
could not bear it! She would dash the paper from his 
hands. She would cry in his startled face — his doltish 
face: “What ! What! What! What! Don’t you 
see ? Don’t you understand ? Lord Burdon! Lady 
Burdon! Are you a fool ? Are you an utter, utter 




He opened his lips and she trembled. It is natural to 
judge her harshly, natural to misjudge her, to consider 
her incredibly snobbish, cruel, common. She was none 
of these. Given time, given warning, she would have 
received her great news, received her husband’s reception 
of it, gently and kindly. But life pays us no considera¬ 
tion of that kind. Events come upon us not as the night 
merges from the day, but as highway robbers clutch at 
and grapple with us before we can free our weapons. 

Happily, for the first time since he had taken the 
paper, Mr. Letham seemed to remember her. He 
glanced up, flushed, damp in the eyes, stupidly droll with 
the dabs of drying soap: “I say, Nellie, did you read 

“The boy — he was absolutely no more than a boy — 
poked this way and that on the little ridge we had gained , 
trying , whimpering just like a keen terrier at a thick hedge , 
to jind a way up through the rocks and thorns above us. 
We were a dozen yards behind him, blowing and cursing. 

‘ Damn it! we’ve taken a bad miss in balk on this line! ’ he 
cried, turning round at us, laughing. Next moment he had 
struck an opening and was scrambling, on hands and knees. 
‘This way, Sergeant-major /’ he shouted. ...” 

Portly Mr. Letham, carried away by the grip of the 
thing, drew himself up and squared his shoulders. He 
repeated “‘This way, Sergeant-major !’” and stuck, and 
stopped, and swallowed, and turned shining eyes on his 
wife (she stood there brooding at him) and exclaimed: 
“Can’t you imagine it, Nellie? Listen: ‘This way, 
Sergeant-major /’ he shouted, jumped on his feet, gave a 
hand to his sergeant; cried 1 Come on! Come on! Whoop! 
Forward! Forward /’ and then staggered, twisted a bit on 



his toes , dropped. I saw another officer-boy jump up to 
him with ‘ Burdon! Bur don, old buck , have you got 
it ?’ . . 

Portly Mr. Letham’s voice cracked off into a high 
squeak, and he lowered the paper and said huskily: “I 
say, Nellie, eh ? I say, Nellie, though ? That’s the stuff, 
eh ? Poor boy ! Brave boy !” 

With unseeing eyes he blinked a moment at his wife’s 
face. Brooding, she watched him. Then he turned to 
the washstand and began to remove the signs of shaving 
from his cheeks, holding the sponge scarcely above the 
water as he squeezed it out, as though a noise were un¬ 
seemly in the presence of the scene his thoughts pictured. 

And she just stood there, that brooding look upon her 
face. Ah ! again ! He was off again ! 

“And his grandmother,” Mr. Letham said, wiping his 
face in a towel, sniffing a little, paying particular atten¬ 
tion to the drying of his eyes. “I say, Nellie, his poor 
grandmother, eh ? How she will be suffering ! Think 
of her picking up her paper and reading that! . . . Only 
saw him once,” he mumbled on, brushing his thin hair. 
“Took him across town when he was going home for his 
first holidays from Eton. Remember it like yesterday. 
I remember — ” 

It was the end of her endurance; she could stand no 
more of it. “Oh, Maurice!” she broke out; “oh, 
Maurice, for goodness’ sake !” 

Mr. Letham turned to her in a puzzled way. He 
held a hair brush in either hand at the level of his ears 
and stared at her from between them : “ Why, Nellie — ” 
he began; “what — what’s up, old girl ?” 

She struck her hands sharply together. “Oh, you go 
on, you go on, you go on ! ” she cried. “You make me — 
don’t you understand ? Can’t you understand ? I 



thought that when I brought you this news you’d be as 
excited as I was. Instead — instead—” She broke 
off and changed her tone. “Oh, do go on brushing your 
hair. For goodness’ sake don’t stand staring at me like 

He obeyed in his slowish way. “Well, upon my soul, 
I don’t quite understand, old girl,” he said perplexedly. 

“That’s what I’m telling you,” she cried sharply and 
suddenly. “You don’t. You go on, you go on ! ” 

He seemed to be puzzling over that. His silence made 
her break out with the hard words of her meaning. “Do 
you really not understand ? ” she broke out. “Do you go 
on like that just to irritate me? I believe you do.” 
She gave her vexed laugh again. “I don’t know what to 
believe. It’s ridiculous — ridiculous you should be so 
different from everybody else. It means to me, this 
news, just this : that it makes you Lord Burdon. Can’t 
you realise ? Can’t you share my feelings ? ” 

“Oh !” he said, as if at last he understood, and said 
no more. 

“How can I work up sympathy for people I have never 
seen ?” she asked. 

He did not answer her — brushed his hair very slowly. 

“Nobody can say I should. Anybody in my place 
would feel as I feel.” 

Still no reply, and that annoyed her beyond measure, 
forced her to say more than she meant. 

“What are they to me, these Burdons?” 

“They’re my family, old girl,” Mr. Letham ventured. 

She did not wish to say it but she said it; he goaded 
her. “You’ve never troubled to make them mine,” she 

Mr. Letham had done with his hair. He struggled a 
collar around his stout neck, examined what injury his 



finger nails had suffered in the process, and set to work on 
his tie. 


For a few minutes Mrs. Letham frowned at the solid, 
untidy back turned towards her — the lumped shoulders, 
the heavy neck, the bulges of shirt sticking out between 
the braces. She gave a little laugh then — useless to be 
vexed. “You’ve never quarrelled with any one in your 
life, have you, Maurice ?” she said; and with a touch in 
which kindliness struggled with impatience, she jerked 
down the bulging shirt, straightened a twisted brace, 
said, “Let me !” and by a deft twist or two gave Mr. 
Letham a neater tie than ever he had made himself. 
“There! That’s better! Have you?” she asked. 

He told her smiling : “Not with you, anyway, Nellie.” 
Little attentions like these were rare, and he liked them. 
In his weak and amiable way he patted the hand that 
rested for a moment on his shoulder, and he explained. 
“You’re quite right, of course, old girl. Of course I 
realise what it means to you and I ought to have shared 
it with you at once. I’m sorry — sorry, Nellie. Just 
like me. And about never making them your family. I 
know you’re right there. But you don’t really mean 
that — don’t mean I’ve done it intentionally. You 
know — I’ve often told you — we were miles apart, my 
branch and theirs; you do see that, don’t you, old girl ? 
A different branch — another crowd altogether. I don’t 
suppose you’ve ever even heard of the relations who stand 
the same to you as I stand to the Burdons. All the time 
we’ve been married, long before that even, I’ve never had 
anything to do with ’em.” He smiled affectionately at 
her. “That’s all right, isn’t it?” 



She was getting impatient that he ran on so. “Of 
course, of course,” she said indifferently. “I never 
meant to say that.” And then: “Oh, Maurice, but do 
— do — do think what I’m feeling.” She entwined her 
fingers about his arms and looked caressingly up at him. 
“Have you thought what it means to us, Maurice?” 

He liked that. He liked the “us” from her lips. His 
normal disposition returned to him; he smiled whimsi¬ 
cally at her. “’Pon my soul, I haven’t,” he said; and 
added, smiling more, “it’s a big order. By Gad, it’s a big 
order, Nellie.” 

She clapped her hands in her excitement and stood 
away from him, her eyes sparkling. “Maurice! Lord 
Burdon! Fancy!” 

“It’ll be a nuisance, I shouldn’t wonder,” he grimaced. 

She laughed delightedly. “Oh, that’s just like you to 
think that! A nuisance! Maurice! Think of it! 
Lady Burdon — me ! It’s a dream, isn’t it ? ” 

“It’s a bit of a startler,” he agreed, smiling tolerantly 
down upon her excitement. 

She laughed aloud. “But fancy you a lord !” and she 
looked at him, holding him by both his arms and laughed 
again. “A startler! A nuisance! What a — what a 
person you are, Maurice! Fancy you a lord ! You’ll 
have to — you’ll have to buck up , Maurice !” 

He turned away for a moment, occupying himself in 
fumbling in a drawer. When he turned again to her, his 
face had the tail of a grimace that she thought expressive 
of how repugnant to him was the mere thought of any 
change in his life. “Well, there’s one thing,” he said. 
“It won’t be for long;” and he tapped his heart, that 
doctors had condemned. 

She knew that was only his characteristic way of 
joking, but a flicker of irritation shadowed her face. 



She hated reference to what had often been a spoil-sport 
cry of “Wolf ! Wolf!” 

“Oh, that’s absurd!” she cried. “That’s nonsense; 
you know it is. Those doctors ! Make haste and dress 
and come down. Make haste ! Make haste ! I want 
to talk all about it. I want you to tell me — heaps of 
things : what will happen, how it will happen. Now, do 
make haste. I’ll run down now and see to Baby.” She 
had danced away towards the door; now turned again, a 
laugh on her face. “Baby ! What is he now, Maurice ? ” 

“Still a baby, I expect you’ll find, though I have been 
nearly an hour dressing.” 

For once she laughed delightedly at his mild absurdity; 
just now her world answered with a laugh wherever she 
touched a chord. “His title, I mean. An honourable, 
isn’t it — the son of a peer ? The Honourable Rollo 
Letham ! I must tell him ! ” She laughed again, moved 
lightly to the door and went humming down the stairs. 

Mr. Letham waited till the sound had passed. When 
the slam of a distant door announced the unlikelihood of 
her return, he dropped rather heavily into a chair and 
put his hand against the heart he had playfully tapped. 
“ Confound ! ” said Mr. Letham, breathing hard. “ Con- 
ster -nation and damn the thing. Like a sword, that 
one. Like a twisting sword !” 

For the new Lady Burdon had been wrong in estimat¬ 
ing any humour in the grimace with which he had looked 
at her after turning away, while she told him he must 
buck up. 




A worrying morning foreshadowed — or might have 
foreshadowed — to Egbert Hunt the strain and distress 
of the afternoon whose effect upon him we have seen. 
Normally his master was closeted in the study with the 
three young men who read with him for University ex¬ 
aminations; his mistress engaged first in her house¬ 
hold duties, then in her customary run on her bicycle 
before lunch; shopping, taking some flowers to the 
cottage hospital, exchanging the magazines for which her 
circle subscribed. These occupations of master and 
mistress enabled Egbert to evade with nice calculation 
the tasks that fell to him. This morning the household, 
as he expressed it, was “all of a boilin’ jump,” whereby 
he was vastly incommoded, being much harried. The 
three young men thoughtfully denied themselves the in¬ 
tellectual delights of their usual labours with Mr.Letham. 
“Lucky dawgs,” said Egbert bitterly, hiding in the bath¬ 
room and watching them from the window meet down the 
road, confer, laugh, and skim off on their bicycles; his 
mistress — writing letters, talking excitedly with her 
husband —- did everything except settle to any particular 
task. The result was to keep Egbert ceaselessly upon 
“the ’op,” and he resented it utterly. 



With the afternoon the visitors; the satisfying at last 
of the excitement that had thrilled Miller’s Field to the 
marrow since the newspapers were opened. 

A little difficult, the good ladies thought it, to know 
exactly what to say. 

Some, on greeting Mrs. Letham, boldly plumped: 
“My dear, I do congratulate you!” At the other ex¬ 
treme of tact in grasping a novel situation, those who 
cleverly began, “My dear, I saw it in the ‘Morning 
Post’!” a wary opening that enabled one to model senti¬ 
ments on the lead given in reply. 

“ My dear, I do congratulate you ! ” “ My dear, I saw it 
in the ‘Morning Post’!” and “Ho, do yer, thenk yer!” 
from bone-tired Egbert, mimicking as he closed the door 
behind the one; and “Ho, did yer, boil yer !” closing it 
behind the other. 

Between these forms, then, or with slight variations 
upon them, fell all the salutations but that of Mrs. 
Savile-Phillips who, arriving late, treading on Egbert’s 
foot in her impressive halt on the threshold, called in her 
dashing way across the crowded drawing-room, “And 
where is Lady Burdon ?” 

She was at her tea table, closely surrounded, prettily 
coloured by excitement, animated, at her best, tastefully 
gowned in a becoming dove-grey that fortuitously had 
arrived from the dressmaker that morning and mingled 
(she felt) a tribute to her new dignity with a touch of 
half-mourning for the boy her relationship to whom 
death with a hot finger had touched to life. Thus Mrs. 
Letham — new Lady Burdon — took the eye and took 
it well. This was the moment of her triumph; and that 
is a moment that is fairy wand to knock asunder the 



shackles of the heavier years, restoring youth; to warm 
and make generous the heart; to light the eye and lift the 
spirit. Hers, hers that moment! She the commanding 
and captivating figure in that assembly ! 

Her spirit was equal with her presence. Physically 
queening it among her friends, psychically she was aloft 
and afloat in the exaltation that her bearing advertised. 
Each new congratulation as it came was a vassal hand 
put out to touch the sceptre she chose to extend. The 
prattle of voices was a delectable hymn raised to her 
praise in her new dignity. She was mentally enthroned, 
queen of a kingdom all her own; and as she visualised 
its fair places she had a sense of herself, Cinderella-like, 
shedding drab garments from her shoulders, appearing 
most wonderfully arrayed; shaking from her skirts 
the dull past, with eager hands greeting a future splen¬ 
didly coloured, singing to her with siren note, created 
for her foot and her pleasure. 

Consider her state. The better to consider it, 
consider that something of these sensations is the 
lot of every woman when, on her marriage eve, a 
girl, sleepless she lies through that night, imaging the 
womanhood that waits her beyond the darkness. It is 
the threshold of life for woman, this night before the 
vow, and has no counterpart in all a man’s days from 
boyhood to grave. How should it? The sexes are as 
widely sundered in habit, thought, custom, as two sepa¬ 
rate and most alien races. Love has conducted every 
plighted woman to this threshold and has so delectably 
engaged her attention on the road that she has reck¬ 
oned little of the new world towards which she is speed¬ 
ing. Now, on her marriage eve, she is at night and 
alone: her eager feet upon the immediate moment be¬ 
yond whose passage lies the unexplored. Love for this 


space takes rest. To-morrow he will lead her blind¬ 
folded into the new country; to-night, poised upon the 
crest to which blindfolded he has led her, she stands and 
looks across the prospect, shading her eyes, a tremble 
with ecstasy at the huge adventure. Mighty courage 
she has — a frail figure, barriers closing up behind her 
to shut forever the easy paths of maidenhood; hill 
and valley stretching limitless before, where lie lurking 
heaven knows what ravening monsters. But she is the 
born explorer, predestined for this frightful plunge into 
the unknown, heedless of its dangers, intoxicated by its 
spaciousness, amazingly confident in Love’s power and 
devotion to keep her in the pleasant places. And Love — 
he the reckless treaty-monger between the alien races 
— is prone, unhappily, to lead her a dozen entangling 
steps down the crest, and there to leave her in the smil¬ 
ing hills suddenly become wilderness, in the little valleys 
suddenly become abyss. 

Mrs. Letham had enjoyed that intoxicating moment 
upon the crest. Something of its sensations were hers 
again now; but she found their thrill a far more delect¬ 
able affair. Again she was upon the crest whence an 
alluring prospect stretched; but now she looked with 
eyes not filmed by ignorance; now could have seen 
desert places, pitfalls, if such had been, but saw that 
there were none. Or so she thought. 

Already, in the congratulations she was receiving, she 
was tasting the first sweets, plucking the first fruits 
with which she saw the groves behung. For the first 
time she found herself and her fortunes the centre of a 
crowded drawing-room’s conversation. For the first 
time she enjoyed the thrill of eager attention at her 
command when she chose to raise her voice. It was 
good, good. It was sufficient to her for the moment. 



But her exalted mind ran calculating ahead of it, even 
while she rejoiced in it. She had her little Rollo brought 
in to her, and kept him on her knee, and stroked his 
hair; and once and twice and many times went into 
dreams of all that now awaited him; and with an effort 
had to recall herself to the attentions of her guests. 

As evening stole out from the trees, in shadows across 
the lawn and in dusk against the windows, like some 
stealthy stranger peering in, her party began to separate. 
A few closer friends clustered about her, and the con¬ 
versation became more particular. Yes, it would mean 
leaving Miller’s Field — dear Miller’s Field; and leav¬ 
ing them, but never, never forgetting them. Elated, 
triumphant, and therefore generous, emotional, she 
almost believed that indeed she would be sorry to lose 
these friends. 

As one warmed with wine has a largeness of spirit that 
swamps his proper self in its generous delusions, so she, 
warmed with triumph, was genuine enough in all her 
protestations. With real affection she handed over 
kindly Mrs. Archer, the doctor’s wife, who stayed last, 
to the good offices of Egbert Hunt, and in a happy, 
happy glow of elation returned to her drawing-room. 
This was the beginning of it! 

This the beginning of it! She drew a long breath, 
smiling to herself, her hands pressed together; through 
the glass doors giving on to the lawn she espied her 
husband, and smiling she went quickly across and opened 


Mr. Letham was coming in from work in the garden. 
He had a watering-can in one hand, with the other he 



trailed a rake. He was in his shirt-sleeves, and his face 
was damp with his exertions around the flower-beds. 
“Hullo ! All gone?” he asked. 

The warmth of her spirit caused her to extend her 
hands to him with a sudden, affectionate gesture: 

“All, yes. Maurice, you were an old wretch! You 
might have come in.” 

“Simply couldn’t, old girl. I had a squint through 
the window, and fled and hid behind a bush. Thousands 
of you; it looked awful!” 

She laughed: “Miserable coward! I was hoping 
you would.” 

“Were you, though?” he said eagerly. “I’d have 
come like a shot if I’d known.” 

That made her laugh again: he was always the lover. 
“Well, come and have a talk now to make up,” she told 
him. “Out here in the garden. It’s frightfully hot in 
this room.” 

His face beamed. He put down the implements he 
was carrying, wiped a hand on his waistcoat and slipped 
his fingers beneath her arm. “That’s a stunning dress,” 
he said. 

She gathered up the trailing skirt and glanced down 
at it, well pleased. “It is rather nice, isn’t it?” 

“Fine ! You look as pretty as a picture this evening, 
Nellie. I tell you, I thought so, when I squinted in 
through the window.” 

“That’s because I’m so happy.” 

“So am I.” He pressed her arm to show why, and 
“Maurice! you are a goose,” was her gay comment; 
but for once his foolish loverlikeness pleased her; her 
mood was widely charitable. 

They paced the little lawn in silence. She suddenly 
asked, “You don’t mind my being happy, do you?” 



“Mind ! Good Lord !” and he pressed her arm again. 

“Being excited about — about it, I mean. It’s 
natural, Maurice ? ” 

“Of course it is. Of course it is, old girl.” 

“But you’re not — it doesn’t excite you?” 

Mr. Letham was too honest, even at risk of disturbing 
this happy passage, to pretend the untrue. “Well, 
that’s nothing,” he said. “That’s nothing. I’m so 
beastly slow. An earthquake wouldn’t excite me.” 

“I don’t believe it would,” she laughed, then was 
serious. “But I’m excited,” she said abruptly. “Oh, 
I am !” She put up her face towards the veiling sky — 
a dim star here and a dim star there and a faint breeze 
rising — and she drew a deep breath just as she had 
breathed deeply in the drawing-room a few moments 
earlier. “Oh, I am!” she repeated. “Maurice! I 
want to talk about it.” 

He was not at all conscious of the full intensity of 
her feelings; but for such of it as he perceived he smiled 
at her in his tolerant way. “Well, you say,” he told 
her. “You do the talking.” 

She was silent for a considerable space; her mind run 
far ahead and occupied among thoughts to which she 
could not introduce him, for he had no place in them. 
That he shivered slightly recalled his presence to her. 
That his presence had been deliberately shut from among 
the castles she had been building caused her one of those 
qualms which (if we are kind) often sting us back from 
our worser self to our better nature. And she was kind, 
alternating ceaselessly between the many womanly 
parts she had and those other parts we all possess; only 
to be pitied if the events now quickly shaping for her 
tempted her too much, led her too far from the point 
whence kindness is recoverable. 


Recalled to him and to her womanliness, “Oh, your 
coat!” she exclaimed. “You’ve been getting hot and 
you’ll catch your death of chill. You’re dreadfully 
careless. Where is it ? ” 

“In the summer-house. But what rot!” 

“I’ll get it.” She slipped her arm from his hand and 
ran away across the lawn. “There !” she said, return¬ 
ing. “Now button it up. Ah! You’re all thumbs!” 

She fastened it for him and turned up the collar. The 
action brought her face close to his. “You’re jolly 
good to me, Nellie,” he said, and his lips brushed her 
forehead. A kiss it had been, but she drew back a 
step. “Not going to have you ill on my hands,” she 
told him brightly. Then she slipped a hand into his 
arm and resumed, “What are we going to do — first? 
I want to talk about that.” 

She had talked to him of it all the morning; but as 
if it were undiscussed — anything to preserve these 
happy moments — “Yes, go on,” he said. 

She responded eagerly. “Well, we must write to 
Lady Burdon, of course — Jane Lady Burdon, now, 
you said, didn’t you ? Not to-day. Better wait a 
day — to-morrow.” 

“That is what I thought.” 

“Yes — yes — and then you will have to go to see 
her. By yourself. I won’t come at first.” She gave 
a little sound of laughter. “I don’t think I shall much 
like Jane Lady Burdon, from what you told me this 

He asked her: “Good lord, why, Nellie? Why, 
what did I tell you? I’ve only seen her once, years 
and years ago.” 

“You made her out proud; you said she would feel 
this terribly.” 



“ That poor boy’s death ? Of course she would. She 
was devoted to him. Look, he was no more than Rollo’s 
age when his father died. She brought him up. Been 
mother and father to him all his life. Imagine how 
she’d feel it.” 

“Oh, I don’t mean that; feel us coming in, I mean. 
Proud in that way.” 

It was an idea that another man, though he knew 
it true, would have laughed aside. Mr. Letham’s hope¬ 
less simplicity put him to a stumbling explanation. 
“Ah, but proud’s not the word — not fair,” he said. 
“She has pride; you understand the difference, don’t 
you, old girl ? A tremendous family pride. She’ll 
feel this break in the direct descent — father to son, 
as it said in the newspaper, ever since there was a 
Burdon. It is one of their traditions, at the bottom 
of half their traditions, and they’re simply wrapped 
up in that kind of thing. I should think there never 
was a family with so many observances —- laws of its 

“Tell me,” she said: and while they paced, he spoke 
of this family whose style and dignity they were to take; 
and while he spoke, sometimes she pressed together her 
lips and contracted her brows as though hostile towards 
the pictures he made her see, sometimes breathed quickly 
and took a light in her eyes as though she foretasted 
delights that he presented. She had no romantic sense 
in her nature, else had been moved by such traditions 
of the House of Burdon as, he said, he could remember. 
That white roses were never permitted in the grounds 
of Burdon Old Manor, that no male but the head of the 
family might put on his hat within the threshold, that 
the coming of age of sons was celebrated at twenty-four, 
not twenty-one, — she scarcely heeded the legends at- 



taching to these observances. “ Rather silly,” she 
named them, and did not condescend a reply to her 
husband’s weak defence, “Well, they rather get you, 
you know, don’t you think?” 

He spoke of the Burdon motto, the arrogant, “ I hold ! ” 
that was of the bone of Burdon character, so he said. 
“I remember my old grandfather telling me lots about 
that,” he told her. “It sums them up. That’s the 
kind they’ve always been: headstrong and absolutely 
fearless, like that poor boy, and stubborn — stubborn 
as mules where their rights, or their will, or their pride 
is concerned. Stubborn in having their own way, and 
stubborn in doing or not doing simply because the 
thing’s done or not done in the traditions they’re bred 
up in.” 

He stopped and bent to her with “Yes, what did 
you say?” but only caught her repeating to herself 
intensely and beneath her breath, “I hold !” 

“Yes, it’s rather fine, isn’t it ?” he said; and he went 
on: “Well, that’s just what I mean about old Lady 
Burdon. She’ll have felt that she was holding for her 
grandson, had held all these years, and now was the one, 
the only one, to see the tradition break, the direct suc¬ 
cession pass. That’s what I mean by saying she has 
pride and will feel it. That time I saw her, as I was tell¬ 
ing you this morning, when that poor boy was about 
Rollo’s age and I was doing a walking tour down in 
Wiltshire and managed to get up courage to go to Burdon 
Old Manor and introduce myself, I noticed it then. She 
was dividing all her time between the boy and a quaint 
kind of ‘Lives of the Barons Burdon’ as she called it, a 
manuscript life of each holder of the title, hunting up all 
the old records and traditions and things with the li¬ 
brarian ; he was as keen on it as she. He ...” 



“Where will she be now, do you think?” Mrs. 
Letham interrupted. “In town?” 

“In town for certain. She’d be sure to be where she 
could always get earliest news of the boy.” 

“In the town house? Burdon House in Mount 
Street, you said, didn’t you ? Have you ever been there ? 
What’s it like ?” 

“No, never been in. A whacking great place, from the 
outside. That’s where she’ll be all right, unless they’ve 
sold it.” 

Mrs. Letham gave him a sudden full attention. “Sold 
it ? Why should they have sold it ? ” 

“The ancient reason — want of money,” he replied 

She made no response nor responsive movement; yet 
some emotion that she had seemed to communicate it¬ 
self to him, for looking down at her, half-whimsically, 
half-gravely, “I say, you don’t think we’ve come into 
untold wealth, do you, Nellie?” he said. 

She took her hand sharply from his arm. Much that 
he had said, though she could not have analysed why, 
had caused her kinder self to ebb. Now it left her. 
She answered him by asking him: “What of all those 
names you told me? Tell me them again.” 

“The property? The Burdon Old Manor property? 
Little Letham, and Shepwell, and Burdon, and Abbess 
Roding, and Nunford, and Market Roding: those, do 
you mean ?” 

“Yes, I mean those. How do you mean ‘the ancient 
reason, want of money’?” 

“Well, that’s all there is, though. The money is all 
out of the estate. Nothing more.” 

She said impatiently : “Well ? All those villages ? ” 

“All those duties,” he corrected her. “That’s the 


Burdon way of looking at it. What they make on Abbess 
Roding they lose on Market Roding, so to speak. It’s 
that ‘I hold!’ business again. They won’t sell; they 
won’t raise rents when leases fall in; they never refuse 
improvements that can possibly be afforded. The 
tenantry have been there for generations. No Burdon 
would ever think of turning them off or of refusing them 
anything; it wouldn’t enter his head. That’s why I 
said Burdon House in Mount Street might be sold. It’s 
unlikely, but I remember there was talk of it in my grand¬ 
father’s time. It belongs to an older day, when they were 
wealthier. They’d sacrifice that, if need' be, though it 
would be like a death in the family; but anything rather 
than the bare idea of interfering with the people they 
regard as a trust.” 

He spoke quite easily, never realising the intensity of 
her feelings. “Oh, it’s no untold wealth,” he laughed. 
“You mustn’t think that.” 

She said after a little space, “Richer than we are, 
though?” and added, comforting herself with an old 
truism, “What’s poverty to one is wealth to another.” 

“Oh, richer than we are. Good lord, yes, I hope so. 
I’m thinking of years ago, anyway. Things may have 
changed. I’m telling you of when I was a kid.” 

She gave a little sigh of relief and she made a little 
laugh at the mood she had permitted to beset her — that 
sigh we give and that laugh we make when we shake 
ourselves from vague fears, or open our eyes from disturb¬ 
ing dreams. Folly to be fearful! Life is a biggish field; 
easy to give those fears the slip ! The day is here, night 
ridiculous! She laughed and turned smiling to her 
husband and proposed they should go in. “I’ve got an 
extra special little dinner for you — to celebrate,” she 
told him. 



He pressed her arm against his side. “ And I’ve got an 
extra special little appetite for it,” he said. “Makes me 
feel fearfully fit to see you so happy.” 

“Well, I am,” she replied, and sighed her content and 
said again “I am ! ” 


The night ridiculous ! But when night came it caught 
her unstrung, too excited for immediate sleep, and visited 
her with vague resentments, with vague but chilly fears. 
They came gradually. Long, long she lay awake, 
visioning the gleaming future. Her Rollo trod it with 
her — its golden paths, limitless of delights — her little 
son rejoicing into manhood as he walked them. She w r as 
intensely devoted to her baby Rollo, born two years 
before. Marriage had disappointed her; from its outset, 
directly she began to realise Maurice, she accounted her¬ 
self robbed of all it ought to have given her. Motherhood 
had recompensed her; from Rollo’s birth she had begun 
to dream dreams for him. Now ! She got out of bed 
and went to his cradle and bent above him, most happily, 
most adoringly, as he slept. It was there and so occupied 
that the first vague, unreasonable fear came to disturb 
her night. It was gone as soon as it had come, and it had 
neither shape nor meaning. Yet its discomfort made 
her frown. She had frowned in the midst of happiness 
when Maurice was telling her of Burdon traditions, and 
the repetition of the action returned her mind to what had 
occupied it then. 

At once resentments began to stir. She found herself 
resentful of Jane Lady Burdon, as drawn by Maurice; 
of the tenantry at Burdon Old Manor, who were regarded 
as a trust — a greedy, expensive trust on his showing; 


nay, of the Old Manor itself, if saturated in traditions 
such as he described. Why resentful? At first she 
could not say, and worried. Then the reason came to 
her. It was the feeling that this old lady, not proud but 
having pride, a ridiculous distinction, this old lady, these 
tenantry, those traditions would resent her. Resent her ? 
She could not get away from the thought, and it irritated 
her and tired her. Yes, and rob her, and that irritated 
and tired her the more. She began to desire sleep and 
could not sleep for these resentments. Resent her? 
Rob her ? She grew angry that she could not sleep, and 
then suddenly calmed herself by deliberately setting her¬ 
self to see how grotesque such thoughts were. After all, 
what could they do, even suppose they desired her hurt ? 
It came to her, with a grim sense of the humour of it, 
that their own motto was against them. “I hold !” It 
was she who held ! 

“I hold !” The old motto did its new mistress its first 
service. It charmed her, at last, to sleep. Immediately, 
as it seemed to her, she passed into dreams of her amazing 
happiness; and in their midst the motto rose against 
her. In their midst the vague fear that had troubled her 
while she bent over her Rollo — but vague no longer — 
became definite and horrible. She was taunted, she was 
terrified by some force that told her it was all untrue; 
that tortured her she was befooled and did not hold and 
should never hold the amazement she fancied hers. 
Terrified and struggling, “ I hold !” she cried. It became 
the delirium of her sleep. Again and again “I hold! 
I hold !” and always from that force the answer, quiet 
but most terribly assured: “No, you do not! Nay, I 
hold!” Horror and panic overcame her. She was so 
nearly awake that she tried to awake but could not. 
“I hold ! I hold !” “No, you do not. Nay, I hold !” 



There was no escape, no escape. . . . When at last her 
fevered brain broke out of sleep, she awoke to hear her 
own voice cry it aloud in agony: “I hold ! ” and shaking, 
unnerved, thanked God for young morning stealing about 
the room, and none and nothing to rebuke or contradict 
that waking cry. 




We will give them their title now. 

Events fell out much as the new Lady Burdon had 
planned. On the day following the news, the new Lord 
Burdon wrote a few sympathetic lines to Jane Lady 
Burdon; two days later he received an acknowledgment 
from the house in Mount Street. She would like to see 
him, Jane Lady Burdon, wrote, but she would like a little 
time in which to accommodate herself to her sad affliction. 
Perhaps he would arrange to call on that day week; and 
meanwhile, if he could see Mr. Pemberton, they would be 
spared much explanation relative to the sudden change. 

“Rather cold,” was Lady Burdon’s comment; but 
her attention was taken by another letter brought in 
with Jane Lady Burdon’s by Egbert Hunt, as they sat 
at early breakfast, and overlooked in the excitement. 
“And Mr. Pemberton — who is Mr. Pemberton?” she 
asked, but had opened this other envelope while she 
spoke, taken the gist of its letter at a glance, and herself 
answered her question, looking up with flushed face and 
sparkling eyes. “He’s the solicitor,” she said. 

Lord Burdon nodded. “So he is. The name comes 
back to me.” 

“This is from him — to you. It’s all right. He says 




it’s all right, Maurice. He’s the lawyer. He knows. 
He admits it.” 

“ Sounds as though he’d committed a crime. What 
does he admit ?” 

She was very happy, so she laughed. “ Listen !” and 
she read him the letter in which, in stilted, lawyer like 
terms, Matthew Pemberton (as it was signed) formally 
advised him of the death in action on the northwestern 
frontier of India, and of his succession to the barony and 
entailed estates. The firm of Pemberton, it appeared, 
had for many generations enjoyed the honour of acting 
for the house of Burdon, and, acting on Jane Lady Bur- 
don’s instructions, Matthew Pemberton desired to pro¬ 
pose an interview “here or at your lordship’s residence, as 
may be most convenient to your lordship.” 

“Maurice !” Lady Burdon exclaimed, and handed him 
the letter; and when he had read it, “There ! There’s 
no doubt now, is there?” 

He had frowned over it as though it troubled him. At 
her words he looked up and smiled at her beaming face 
and patted her hand. “Why, you never had any doubt, 
had you ?” he asked. 

She gave the slightest possible shiver; but with it 
shook off the recollection that had caused it. “Oh, I 
don’t know,” she answered. “I do believe I had; yes, 
I had. I couldn’t realise it sometimes. There was noth¬ 
ing— nothing to go on. Now there is, though !” And 
she touched the letters that were the magic carpet ar¬ 
rived to wing her from the delirium of that night toward 
the amazement that night had threatened. 

She exclaimed again, “Now there is!” and, pushing 
back her chair, rose vigorously to her feet, casting aside 
forever (so she told herself) that nightmare dream and 
animatedly breaking into “plans.” Too animated to be 



still, too excited to eat, gaily, and with a commanding 
banter that rendered him utterly happy, she easily influ¬ 
enced her husband, against his purpose, to bid Mr. 
Pemberton make the proposed interview at Miller’s 
Field, not Bedford Row. “‘At your lordship’s resi¬ 
dence,’” she laughed. “It’s his place to do the run¬ 
ning about, not yours. And tell him — I’ll help you to 
write the letter — tell him to come the day after to¬ 
morrow, not to-morrow. Don’t let him think we’re 
bursting with eagerness.” 

“By gum, he’d better not see you, then,” Lord Burdon 
said grimly. 

She gave him a playful pinch. “Oh, I’ll do the high 
and haughty stare all right,” she told him, and she 
laughed again and ran gaily humming to the Hon. 
Rollo Letham in the garden. 


Mr. Pemberton, on arrival, proved incapable of much 
of that running about, in the literal sense of the term, that 
Lady Burdon had pronounced to be his place. 

“Here he is!” Lady Burdon said, watching through 
the drawing-room window from where she sat, as a 
closed station-fly drew up before the gate. “Here he 
is!” There was a longish pause before the cab door 
opened, and then a walking-stick came out and tapped 
about in a fumbling sort of way until it hit the step. A 
very thin leg came groping down the stick, its foot poking 
about nervously as though to make sure that the step was 
stable. “Good gracious!” Lady Burdon exclaimed. 
“The poor old man !” 

She forgot the high and haughty stare premeditated 
for the interview, and she crossed to the window, worn- 



anly and womanishly alarmed. The knee above the 
trembling leg took a jerky shot or two at stiffening, then 
stiffened suddenly and took the weight of a little wisp of 
an old man, who swung suddenly out upon it, whirled 
half around as the gusty breeze took him and, clutching 
frantically against the side of the cab with one hand, with 
the other made agitated prods of his stick at the road 
desperately far beneath. 

“Oh, goodness!” Lady Burdon cried. “He’ll kill 
himself} And that idiot like a frozen pig on the box ! 
Maurice !” But she was quicker than her husband and, 
the high and haughty stare completely abandoned, was 
swiftly from the room, down the path, through the gate, 
and with firm young hands under a shaky old arm, just 
as the little old man, unable to balance longer, was drop¬ 
ping stick and leg towards the ground and in danger 
of collapsing tremendously upon them. 

She landed him safe. “The road slopes so frightfully 
here, doesn’t it?” she said. “I am afraid you are 

The little old man, very visibly shaken by the fearful 
adventure, essayed to straighten his bent old frame. He 
raised his silk hat and stood bareheaded before her. 
“You saved me from that,” he said. “It was very, 
very kind of you. I am clumsy and stupid at moving 

She was flushed by her run, the breeze was in her hair; 
she looked pretty and she was quite natural. “Oh, I 
saw you,” she smiled. “I ought to have come before. 
Let me take your arm. The path is steep; we are on the 
side of a hill, as you see.” 

She swung open the gate with one hand and put the 
other beneath his arm. 

He seemedi to hesitate, looking at her curiously. “Oh, 



I am all right when I am on my legs,” he said, with a little 
laugh. “Well, well — it is very, very kind of you,” and 
he accepted the aid she offered. 

“It is steep, you see,” — she smiled down at him, — 
“and rough. It ought to be rolled, but we have the 
idlest gardener boy in the world. You are Mr. Pember¬ 
ton, aren’t you? I am — I am Lady Burdon.” 

He halted in his nice little steps and looked full up at 
her. “I am very glad to know that,” he said simply, 
and put himself again to the task of making the house. 


Mr. Pemberton was more than pleased; he was in¬ 
tensely relieved and intensely happy. His thoughts, as 
he came down in the train to Miller’s Field, had caused 
his face to wear a nervous, a wistful, almost an appealing, 
look. Bound up in inherited devotion to the noble 
house whose service was handed down in his firm as the 
title itself was handed down, he had feared, he had 
dreaded what manner of people the tragic break in the 
famous direct succession might have brought to the name 
he loved. Nothing could so well have reassured him as 
that most womanly action of Lady Burdon when she 
ran to his assistance at the gate; nothing could so well 
have affirmed the confidence with which he turned to her 
husband, come to the door to meet them, as the simple 
honesty of character imprinted on Lord Burdon’s face 
and expressed in his greeting. Both impressions were 
sharpened as they sat talking at tea. Mr. Pemberton 
had come to talk business; he found himself drawn by 
this sympathetic atmosphere into speaking intimately of 
the gay young life whose cruel termination had caused 
his visit. 



Clearly he had been deeply attached to that young 
life; he speaks of it in the jerky, disconnected sentences 
of one that does not trust his voice too long, for fear it 
may betray him; and when he comes to his subject’s 
young manhood, after eulogy of childhood and youth, 
clearly Lady Burdon is interested. She draws her chair 
a trifle towards him, and with her elbow on the low tea- 
table, cups her chin in the palm of her hand, the fingers 
against her lips, watches him and attends him closely. 
Her throat and face are dusky, her wrist and hand are 
white against them. Her eyes have a deep and kind 
look. She makes a gentle picture. 

Encouraged by her sympathy, “He was a little wild,” 
says Mr. Pemberton. “I am afraid a little inclined to be 
wild. . . . Always so full of spirits, you see . . . eager 
. . . careless, reckless perhaps, impetuous . . . lovable 

— ah, me, very lovable. . . . 

“I was very fond of him, Lady Burdon,” he says 
apologetically, “very fond;” and he stumbles into an 
example of what he is pleased to call the young man’s 
impetuous carelessness. It is of his last months in Eng¬ 
land, before he sailed for India, that this deals. Between 
June and August, having leave from his regiment, he 
disappeared, it seems; was completely lost sight of by 
his grandmother and his friends. Towards the end of 
August he appeared again. “Not himself — not quite 
himself,” says Mr. Pemberton, shaking his head as 
though over some recollection that troubled him, “and 
no explanation of his absence, and, when the chance 
came — General Sheringham was a relation, you know 

— wild to get out to this frontier ‘show,’ as he called 

it. s . . 'vV, 

“Typical of him,” says Mr. Pemberton after a pause, 
and smiling sadly at Lady Burdon. “Typical. A law 



to himself he would always be, and not responsible to any 
one for what he chose to do. A Bur don trait that; and 
he was a Burdon of Bur dons.” 

Lady Burdon asks a question, breaking into Mr. 
Pemberton’s history for the first time. “But that really 
is extraordinary, Mr. Pemberton,” she says. “Wouldn’t 
Lady Burdon — wouldn’t his grandmother — have felt 
anxious during that disappearance, and wouldn’t she 
have questioned him when he came back ?” 

“Not unless he seemed disposed to tell her. In a 
way — in a way, you know, relations between them were 
a little difficult. Poor boy”—and Mr. Pemberton 
gives a sad little laugh — “poor boy, he often came to me 
in a great way, and her ladyship, too, has had occasion. 
He, on his side, passionately devoted to her, hating to hurt 
her, but enormously high-spirited, difficult to handle. 
And she, on hers, making all the world of him and a little 
apt on that account to claim too much from him, if you 
follow me. He sometimes chafed — chafed, you know; 
hating to hurt her but restless of her control, her claim. 
Latterly she had to be very tactful with him. No, she 
wouldn’t have questioned him unless he seemed disposed 
to tell her.” 

They are interrupted here by the entrance of baby 
Rollo on his way to bed, for it is getting late. “The 
rummiest little beggar,” says Lord Burdon, introducing 
his small son. “Not much more than eighteen months, 
and solemn enough for an archbishop, aren’t you, Rollo ? ’ ’ 

The solemn one, pale and noticeably quiet and far from 
strong looking, justifies this character by having no 
smiles, though Mr. Pemberton greets him cheerfully and 
says approvingly: “Rollo, eh? The Burdon name. 
His name,” he adds, and looks at Lady Burdon, who 
gives him a gentle smile of understanding. 




Mr. Pemberton looked after her very gratefully when 
she excused herself to take the child up-stairs. The door 
closed, he turned to Lord Burdon. “Nice—nice,’’ he be¬ 
gan in a stifled kind of voice, “ to have a little son growing 
up—to watch. We watched young Lord Burdon—that 
poor boy—growing up—anxiously—so anxiously. . . .” 

He gave a nervous little laugh. “When I say ‘we’ — 
you’ve no idea with what a terrible air of proprietorship 
the family is regarded by those, like myself, attached to 
it for generations, by those dependent on it. We looked 
so eagerly, so eagerly as the time drew on, to his coming 
of age. He was wanted so.” 

“Wanted?” Lord Burdon asked. “Wanted?” He 
pronounced the word heavily, as though he had an inkling 
of the answer and was apprehensive. 

It started Mr. Pemberton on a recital that he spoke 
with seeming difficulty and yet as though he had pre¬ 
pared it. It occupied longer than either knew, and Lord 
Burdon, before it was finished, was sitting sunk low in his 
chair, as though what he heard oppressed him. The 
little old lawyer spoke of difficulties in connection with 
the estate; the diminished rent roll; the urgent necessity 
for comprehensive improvements essential to make the 
land pay its way; the long-urged necessity for the sale of 
Burdon House in Mount Street, heavily mortgaged and 
the interest an insupportable drain on the estate. It led 
him to why they had looked so anxiously for the coming 
of age. Everything that was essential was impossible, 
he showed, in the reign of gentle Jane Lady Burdon, 
who felt that she held in sacred trust for her grandson and 
would suffer no risks in raising of loans, nor depredation 
of her charge by sale of the town property. He had no 



eloquence, this devoted little lawyer, but he had earnest¬ 
ness that seemed to him who listened to fill the room, as 
it were, with living shapes of duties, demands, traditions 
of a great heritage that marshalled before him and looked 
to him to be carried forward, as soldiers to a leader. 

A change in Mr. Pemberton’s tone aroused him. 

“He was wanted so,” Mr. Pemberton said jerkily, and 

No response, and in a funny little cracked voice, 
“Well, he’s dead,” Mr. Pemberton said. 

Lord Burdon raised his eyes, contracted with the 
trouble that had given him that drooped, oppressed ap¬ 
pearance while the other spoke, dim, clouded as with 
looking at something that menaced; and their eyes 
met — two very simple men. 

Mr. Pemberton stretched out fumbling hands. He 
cried blunderingly and appealingly, his mouth twisting: 
“It has affected me — this death, this change. I am 
only an old man — a devoted old man. As we looked 
to him, so now we look to you.” 

“Look to me!” Lord Burdon said slowly. “Look to 
me! Good God, Pemberton, I funk it!” he cried. 
“I funk it and I hate it. I’m not the sort. I wish I’d 
been left alone. I wish to God I had !” 

There followed his words a silence of the intense nature 
caused by speech that has been intense. In that silence, 
consciousness of some other personality in the room 
caused Mr. Pemberton to turn suddenly in his chair. 
He turned to see Lady Burdon standing in the door¬ 
way. She was not in the act of entering. She was 
standing there; and for the briefest space, while Mr. 
Pemberton looked at her and she at him, she just stood, 
erect, her head a trifle unduly high, with estimating eyes 
and with purposed mouth. 




It had been an anxious Mr. Pemberton that came 
down to Miller’s Field. It was a reassured Mr. Pember¬ 
ton that stayed there, but a gravely disturbed Mr. Pem¬ 
berton that went back to town. He knew Lady Burdon 
had been listening, the look he had seen on her face in¬ 
formed him of her displeasure with what she had heard, 
and he knew that in his first estimate of her he had mis¬ 
read her. ' 

For he read her look aright. In her husband’s cry — 
his weak, contemptible cry — in what she had heard of 
the little lawyer’s statements and proposals — his tears 
and prayers of duties — she knew hostility to her plans, 
to her dreams, to her pleasures. Her estimating eyes 
that met Mr. Pemberton’s inquired the strength of that 
hostility ; her purposed mouth was the mirror of her de¬ 
termination against it. 




The little clock that is perched high over the vast fire¬ 
place in the library at Burdon House, Mount Street, 
marks a shade before ten of the evening. Its delicate 
ticking joins with the fluttering of the flames, and with 
the steady scratch of Mr. Librarian Amber’s pen, to 
make the only sounds in this dignified apartment with 
its high-bred air, that has known many a Burdon and that 
shortly is to acknowledge another bearer of the title and 
serenely give farewell to the lady seated before the fire. 

A gracious lady of many sorrows, as the Vicar of Little 
Letham parish, in a surprising flight, had named Jane 
Lady Burdon on the previous Sunday — and rightly 
named her. Sorrow has companioned Jane Lady Bur¬ 
don before; now again is called whence it has lightly 
slumbered — walks hand in hand with the gentle lady, 
is her bedfellow, crouches on the hearth beside her as 
she sits, drooping slightly, in the high-backed chair, 
fingers enlocked on lap, eyes dimly upon the flames. 

Lord Burdon, who has stepped into the dead boy’s 
shoes — (Ah, Sorrow, walk here and here with me. 
Look, Sorrow, where he used to sport and run !) — has 
paid his visit that afternoon; sympathetic little Mr. 
Pemberton, with his papers and documents, has occupied 
a part of her morning. It has been a trying day for her. 
Her only desire now is to be left alone with her thoughts. 




(Come away, come away, Sorrow, Sorrow; and hold me 
close, and open me his prattling lips, his strong young 


Mr. Librarian Amber — very conscious of Sorrow 
crouching there, but busy, busy — is writing at a table 
behind the drooping figure in the high-backed chair. 
The bald top of Mr. Amber’s narrow head, nose hard 
after his pen like a diligent bloodhound on a slow scent, 
shines between the splendid yellow candles in their tall, 
silver holders that light his work. Neat little packets of 
papers, neatly arranged, dot the polished surface of the 
table, like islands set in a still, dark sea about the greater 
island that is Mr. Amber’s manuscript. On a chair by 
Mr. Amber’s side is a large, slim volume held by a gilt 
clasp and lettered on its cover of white vellum: 

Percival Rollo Redpath Letham 
XIIth Baron Burdon 

He is engaged, Mr. Librarian Amber, on that “Lives 
of the Barons Burdon” of which Lord Burdon had spoken 
to his wife, walking in the garden of Hillside. 

Then that little clock perched over the mantelpiece 
tinkles the hour of ten. 

“How do you progress, Mr. Amber?” Jane Lady 
Burdon inquires gently. 

Mr. Amber — constitutionally nervous — starts, drops 
his pen, grabs at it as it rolls for the floor, misses it in the 
stress of a short-sighted fumble, makes a distressed Tch- 
tch! as it rattles to the boards, clears his throat, starts 
on one reply and, in the manner of nervous persons sud¬ 
denly interrogated, strangles it at birth and has a shot at 
fortune with another. 



1 ‘ I have almost got — I am just concluding the news¬ 
paper reports of the fight, my lady. Very nearly at the 
end.” He recollects a resolve to be bright in order to 
cheer my lady, so he adds with a funny little pop : “Al¬ 
most done !” and then with a brisk little puff blows im¬ 
aginary dust from his manuscript. “Almost done! 

“I will read it over to-morrow, Mr. Amber, immedi¬ 
ately after breakfast. To-day is Friday. By Monday 
you should have finished, I think, and the book will be 
ready to go into its place at the Manor. You will come 
with me when I go down there next week, Mr. Amber, and 
we will put it in its place together. I shall be glad to see 
it in its place before I leave : all the Lives finished — our 
little hobby, Mr. Amber;” and her gracious ladyship of 
many sorrows puts into the words the smile that faintly 
touches her lips. 

Mr. Amber, desperately agitated and pleased by this 
coupling of himself with his dear mistress, takes from the 
warmth of his happiness courage sufficient to introduce 
to her a matter that has been troubling him. He gets 
awkwardly to his feet, a spare, stooping figure, mild of 
face, little over fifty but looking more, frowns horribly at 
his chair for the noise it makes upon the polished floor as 
he pushes it back, and comes forward, twisting the fingers 
of his hands about one another. 

“My lady—yes, I will surely finish by Monday. Your 
ladyship will forgive me — intruding myself — your 
ladyship speaks of leaving — I am — if I may venture — 
so attached — I scarcely—” 

He is quite painfully agitated. His fingers, tightly 
locked now by their twistings, present a figure of his 
halting sentences come to a final tangle, an ultimate and 
hopeless knot. 



Her gracious ladyship of many sorrows smiles in her 
kind way. “Dear Mr. Amber, you should know, of 
course. I have been thoughtless of you in my sorrow. I 
am going to my sister in York, Mr. Amber — Mrs. 
Eresby, you remember. Here nor the Manor is no longer 
my home, you understand. Indeed, how should I stay 
in houses of sad memories only?” 

Mr. Amber murmurs “Ah — my lady !” and she con¬ 
tinues : “I intend a last visit to the Manor — to take 
leave of our dear friends, Mr. Amber, and to collect a few 

— memories. I would go now, but I have first to meet 
Lady Burdon. Lord and Lady Burdon will very kindly 
come here for that purpose on Monday so that we may 
know one another for a few days.” 

She pauses and smiles inquiringly as though to ask Mr. 
Amber if he is now sufficiently informed. He blinks 
considerably, starts to work at his hands again, and sud¬ 
denly says with a mouth all twisted: “It will be very 

— strange — to me to be parted from your ladyship.” 

She extends a gentle hand towards his that twist and 

twist, touching them softly: “Dear Mr. Amber. It 
has been the pleasantest friendship.” 

He says stupidly and brokenly, “What will I do?” 

“You must go on living with the books,” she tells him. 
“Why, what would they do without you, or you without 
them ? I will speak to Lord Burdon. You must live on 
just the same in the Manor library where we have been 
together so often — all of us. I shall like to think of 
you there. It is my wish, Mr. Amber.” 

She says gently, “There!”as he clutches her hand to his 
lips. “I will go to bed now. I think I hear Colden 
coming for me,” and as her maid enters, she rises. 

Mr. Amber tries for words. That twisting mouth for¬ 
bids them, and he turns to hold the door open. 



“ Thank you. Good night, Mr. Amber. Here is our 
kind Colden so thoughtful for my sleep. I am ready, 
Colden. Yes, I will take your arm. Good night, Mr. 
Amber. ” And as Mr. Amber stands watching, there 
comes to him faintly across the great hall: “We’ll 
rest a moment here, Colden. A little trying, these stairs. 
Do you remember how he used to take me up ? He never 
missed a night when he was home, did he ? Do you re¬ 
member how he made us laugh about this seat . . . ?” 

Then Mr. Amber returns to the library, closes the door 
and eases emotion by a trumpet blast upon his nose. 


Mr. Amber took a seat before the fire. He was un¬ 
settled, he found, for further progress that night upon the 
work that had engaged him at the table. But his mind 
turned to it and from it to the eleven fine volumes into 
whose company it would go, completing the lives of the 
Barons Burdon that were the fruits of many years of lov¬ 
ing labour — result of “ our little hobby.” In memory 
he trod again those happy days — saw himself installed 
librarian at Burdon Old Manor, a bookish youth, weak- 
backed, weak-eyed, son and despair of a tenant farmer; 
rehearsed again that youth’s aimless, browsing years 
among the books, acquiring strange and various know¬ 
ledge from the shelves, developing affections, habits, 
tastes that, as with tentacles, anchored him by heart and 
mind to the house of Burdon. Mr. Amber moved rest¬ 
lessly in his chair and came to the beginning of the great 
scheme, propounded by her gracious ladyship, that was 
to become “our little hobby,” as immediately it became 
the purpose and enthusiasm of his life. Well, it was done 
— or almost done. The results of desperately exciting 



scratching about the library — among distressed old 
books, among family trees, among deeds, letters, parch¬ 
ments, rolls, records — were in eleven fine manuscript 
volumes — only the twelfth to finish. 

A leisurely volume this twelfth, now lying on the table 
behind Mr. Amber’s chair. Written up during its sub¬ 
ject’s short life — dear and most well-beloved to Mr. 
Amber every moment of it — the volume is as naturally 
detailed as some of the earlier volumes are naturally 
scrappy. Pettily detailed, perhaps. Mr. Amber starts 
with the precise hour and moment — 6 : 15 \ a.m. — of 
the birth of the Hon. Rollo Percival Redpath Letham; 
notes his colouring — fair; his weight at successive in¬ 
fantile months — lusty beyond the average, it would ap¬ 
pear; date of his first articulate speech; date of first 
stumbling run across the nursery floor — and suchlike 
small beer. His father’s death is chronicled (“ cf. vol. XI, 
pp. 196 et seq .”) and he is shown to be yet in his third 
year when he becomes twelfth Baron Burdon. . . . Date 
of measles. . . . Date of whooping cough. . . . First 
riding lesson. . . . Preparatory school. . . . First holi¬ 
days. . . . First shooting lesson. . . . Puts a charge of 
shot into a keeper. It is all very closely detailed. It is 
detailed so closely that a gap towards the end is made 
conspicuous: and this is precisely that gap occupied by 
the “ disappearance ” of which Mr. Pemberton had spoken 
in the drawing-room at Hillside. The chronicle, that is 
to say, is brought very fully up to the May in which, as 
it shows, my lord suddenly went down to Burdon Old 
Manor from London, his grandmother being at Mount 
Street, and thence for a long holiday. It jumps to Octo¬ 
ber and at once begins again to be remarkably detailed, 
“Our Own Correspondent’s” account of the frontier 
engagement waiting on the table there to conclude it. 



But of this May to October period, covering the June to 
August of which Mr. Pemberton had spoken, Mr. Amber, 
like Mr. Pemberton, for the good reason that he knew 
nothing of how my lord occupied it, has nothing to say. 

Let it be said. My lord was in that June secretly 
married in London: a matter closely germane to this 
history, and now to be examined. 










On a May morning, then, love in his heart, pur¬ 
pose in his eye, gathering in his careless hand the meshes 
that he is going to tug, shaking the unconsidered lives 
they bind — Rollo Percival Redpath Letham, twelfth 
Baron Burdon, u Roly” to his gay young comrades of 
the clubs and messes, was set down at Great Letham 
by the express from London. 

Great Letham marks the nearest approach of the 
railway to the sequestered villages that touch their 
hats to the Burdon Old Manor folk. It stands at the 
head of a country that rolls away on either hand in 
down and valley. Roughly, Great Letham centres 
the high lands that bound this prospect on its nearer side, 
and from its outskirts there strikes away a great shoulder 
of down that thrusts like a massive viaduct straight 
and far to join the further hills. From a distance this 
natural viaduct admits to minds however stubbornly 
practical the similitude of a giant’s arm. Rugged and 
brown and scarred it lies, not green in greenest summer; 
and the humped shoulder whence it springs, and the 
great mounds in which it swells along its path, present 




it as a mighty limb out-thrust to hold away the hills 
in which its fist is buried. Plowman’s Ridge, they call 
it; and afoot upon it, it is kinder of aspect. Aloof, 
aloft, alone, the wayfarer stands here, and breathes or 
breasts the ceaseless wind that saunters or like a live 
thing thunders down its track; and has on either hand 
a spreading valley, whence curls the smoke of scattered 
hamlets, uprise the spires, come the faint sounds of 
creature life and gleam the fields, as spread upon a pal¬ 
ette, coloured in obedience to this and that design of 

The railway skirts the eastward vale; along the tran¬ 
quil westward slope the Burdon hamlets sleep. Viewed 
from the Ridge, they are ridiculously alike; ridiculously 
equidistant one from the next; ridiculously tethered, 
as it were, along the foot of the Ridge — like boats 
along a shore; ridiculously small to have separate names, 
but named in their order outwards from Great Letham: 
Market Roding and Abbess Roding and Nunford —• 
linked by those names with the monastic ruins at Up- 
abbot in the eastward vale; Shepwell and Burdon and 
Little Letham. They are tethered to the Ridge, and 
the Ridge is the most direct communication between 
them. Visitors from village to village, or from Great 
Letham to any, climb the slope and use the Ridge, rather 
than plod the winding roads that, as twelfth Baron Bur¬ 
don has often declared, “take you about two miles from 
where you want to get before they let you loose to go 

He struck out along the Ridge now. 

Burdon village was his destination; and as he pressed 
his way towards it, putting up his face to snuff the famil¬ 
iar wind, speeding ahead his thoughts to what he came 
to seek, twelfth Baron Burdon showed himself a very 



personable young man. His tawny hair he wore closely 
cropped about his strong young head; beneath a straight 
nose he grew a little clump of fair moustache shaved 
bluntly away at the corners of a firm mouth. At a bold 
right-angle his jaw came cleanly from his throat; and 
his chin was thick and round, matching his open grey 
eyes to advertise purpose and command. A Burdon of 
Burdons Mr. Pemberton had named him. A high- 
spirited young man, vigorous, alert; very boyish in 
mind, very dominant of character. A Burdon of Bur¬ 
dons. Through a long line the bone of whose quality 
was their “I hold!” twelfth Baron Burdon inherited 
a spirit that, when crossed, was quick to be unsheathed 
as from their scabbards the eager swords of remote an¬ 
cestors were quick, — dangerous as they. “ Enormously 
high-spirited, difficult to handle,” Mr. Pemberton had 
told new Lady Burdon. It was handling he could not 
brook. The lightest feel of the curb threw up his head 
as the fine-tempered colt’s. Brow and lips would as¬ 
sume signs that spoke, even to one unacquainted with 
him, the imperious resolve of mastery. 

He was in pursuit of mastery now. 


As he came abreast of Burdon he edged down the 
Ridge, making towards a little copse that ran up from 
a garden behind the last cottage in the village street, 
the nearest to Little Letham. In the roadway this 
cottage displayed, suspended from its porch, the notice, 
painted in white letters on a black board: 


(The painter had misjudged the space at his disposal 
but had added the missing E on the back of the board, 



“Case,” as he explained, “unnybody be that dense as 
to turn her round to see what her do mean.”) 

The cottage served in those days for the reception and 
distribution of all the letters of the westward vale, a 
community little bothered with correspondence; and 
“Post Ofhc” was conducted by a slight little woman 
whom some called Postmum, some Miss Oxford. She 
was the daughter of a former vicar of Little Letham; 
to twelfth Baron Burdon she was Audrey’s sister. 

Deep in the trees, as he approached the copse, the 
sharp white of a skirt caught his eager eye. Taking a 
grassy path, he went noiselessly down and presently 
was separated from his Audrey by the dense thorn that 
hedged the tiny glade in which he found her. A basket 
of young fern roots was beside her and she was stooped, 
her back towards him, exploring in the undergrowth. 

He thought to steal up to her, and tried. The dense 
thorn locked him, and she heard him and turned swiftly 
towards him. 

She was flushed with her stooping. Now a deeper 
flush rose beneath her colour, sinking it in a warmer 
glow that stained her exquisitely from throat to brow. 
The dark violet’s shade was in her eyes; when her colour 
abated, the pale rose’s delicacy might have been shamed 
against the fairness of her skin. She wore no hat; her 
soft brown locks unruled the ribbon at her neck, and the 
breeze stirred her hair in little waves about her temples. 
Her arms were bare where she had thrust her sleeves 
beneath her elbows. She stood poised, as one might 
say, upon the feet of surprise; and her lips were slightly 
parted, her gentle bosom seeming to hold her breath 
as though she feared the smallest sigh would waft away 
the sudden gladness that had caught it. 

She just whispered, “Roly !” 


“Em caught in this da — infernal bush,” Roly cried, 

“ I wasn’t to expect you for a week, you wrote.” 

He began to writhe and wrench. “You needn’t. 
I shall stay here forever, I believe.” 

She gave the merriest laugh : “You’re simply fixed !” 

“Wait till I get at you!” He tried and was more 
firmly held. “I say, what the dickens has happened to 

She put her hands together, enjoying his plight as a 
child that bends forward at a play. “You’ll never get 
through there, Roly. You’ll have to go back.” 

He wrenched and struggled: “Go back! There’s 
a great spike or something sticking into me !” 

His struggles broke a network of branches at his 
waist. A thorny bough sprang loose and whipped 
beneath his chin, forcing up his head. 

“Good Lord! Look here, Audrey, I shall cut my 
throat and bleed to death; or this dashed spike will 
come slick through my back in a minute and impale 
me !” 

“Roly ! If you knew how funny you look !” 

Her tone, the way in which (as it presented itself to 
him) she “squirmed” with childlike glee, caused him to 
laugh the jolliest laugh. No quality of hers attracted 
him as this fresh and innocent and childlike happiness 
that was her first characteristic; in none he found so 
great delight as in the fount of innocence through whose 
fresh stream came all her thoughts and words like young 
things at play. 

He laughed the jolliest laugh: “Well, I’ve not come 
all the way from town just to look funny. I tell you, 
it’s serious. I’ve never imagined such a fix. I’m dashed 
if I can move a finger now. Audrey, if you’ve got a 



woman’s heart that feels, you’ll help me out. This in¬ 
fernal thing under my chin — just move that and I’ll 
show you how we fight in the dear old regiment — 
Damn l” 

“Oh, it has cut you!” she cried, all concern as a mo¬ 
ment before she had been all glee. 

A step brought her face within a hand of his. She 
found place for her fingers between the thorns of the 
bramble beneath his chin. She drew the branch down¬ 
wards, and the action caused her to bend towards him 
until their brows and eyes and lips were level. She 
looked directly into his eyes and he directly into hers; 
and each read there those dear and ardent mysteries 
that love far better images than ever love can voice. 

He no more than breathed, “Kiss'me, Audrey.” 

She waited for the smallest part of a moment. En¬ 
tranced, enthralled, they only heard a lark that was a 
speck above them send down a tiny melody, and far 
upon the down a sheep-bell’s distant note. Love’s 
thralldom and Love’s music to his thrall. The oldest 
play that mortals play; and never know befooled were 
often meeter than enthralled, nor better an ass to bray 
than some hymn seem to rise in benison. She kissed 
him tenderly upon the lips; gave the smallest sigh and 
breathed, “Dear Roly !” 

Comic were the word for such a thing. 



Comic, and comic that which followed when he, re¬ 
leased, was with her in the glade and, seated by her, 
took her hands and bent her to his purpose. 

“Now, listen to me, Audrey. Put both your hands 
in mine.” 


She responded as he bade her, performing surely the 
most beautiful action in the world as she gave her hands 
to his. All human life has no act more beautiful than 
the weaker hand confided to the stronger, nor any nearer 
Godhood than when strong hand takes the weak. 

He enclosed her hands within his own. “ Listen to me, 
Audrey,” he repeated; and, as her hands had been her 
spirit, he possessed and drew her spirit on. 

Yet comic is the word: for here — he planning, she 
agreeing — they made the plans they thought should 
make all bliss, all happiness their own; here, in fact, 
trimmed wreckers’ lamps to shipwreck happy lives. 
He had determined upon secret marriage with her, and 
had determined it as the perfect solution of difficulties 
whose consideration was in some degree creditable to 
him. For as he told himself, and told his Audrey now, 
nothing prevented him from openly declaring his in¬ 
tention of contracting a marriage that would cause a 
breach between himself and his grandmother; nothing 
but the impossibility of enduring such a breach; that 
was unthinkable. 

“ Passionately devoted to his grandmother,” Mr. 
Pemberton had told; “and she, for her part, making 
all the world of him.” It was precisely this uncommon 
devotion between him and his dear “Gran” that drove 
him into torment of perplexity when first his heart in¬ 
formed him life without Audrey was insupportable. 
With utmost content he had surrendered himself into 
the object of Gran’s adoring pride and, as such, into her 
control of her dear possession. As he grew older, that 
control had sometimes come to irk a little. “He some¬ 
times chafed — chafed, if you follow me,” Mr. Pember¬ 
ton had said. But the quality of that chafing required 
better understanding than even Mr. Pemberton could 



give it. It was not at conflict of will between himself 
and Gran that Roly chafed; he knew his own deter¬ 
mined character well enough to know that if he liked 
he could override her will as he overrode that of others 
who thought to oppose him. Where he chafed was 
where his devotion to her pricked him. He could not 
bear the thought of giving her distress; and he would 
sometimes chafe when — at this, at that, at some im¬ 
pulse or boyish fling of his — he thought her distress 
unreasonable; unreasonable because it shackled him 
unfairly; because either he would submit to it, or, tak¬ 
ing his way, would suffer greatly, be robbed of his pleas¬ 
ure, at thought of having caused it. 

But always, when the thing was over, be glad he had 
given way to her or most desperately grieved he had 
pained her. He knew that he was everything to her; 
how hurt her then ? 

With such the measure of his love for her, such the 
devotion between them, and such that devotion’s price, 
what a situation was presented for his perplexity when 
Audrey came to occupy his heart! She had been his 
playmate in his childhood at Burdon Old Manor, she at 
the Vicarage. When her father died, Gran had expressed 
her fondness for his daughters by using her influence 
to procure the establishment of a post-office at Burdon 
and persuading the elder sister to conduct it, thus keep¬ 
ing them, as she had said, “near us.” That was one 
thing; a head of the house of Burdon’s marriage into 
so humble a degree — and that her Roly — he knew 
to be unthinkably another. She had great plans for 
great alliance for him — at some future date. At some 
future date ! At her great age and at his extreme youth 
she could scarcely think of him as man — always as 
boy. It was one of the things that sometimes chafed 


him. But when, as had happened, the subject of mar¬ 
riage came up between them, and he would laugh at 
her immense ideas of his value, she would always end 
so pathetically: “But, Roly, how shall I bear any one 
to come between us ? ” 

Rehearsing it all, “How — how in God’s name?” 
he had desperately cried to himself, “can I tell her of 
Audrey?” She whom he could never bear to distress 
— how give her this vital hurt ? She from whom — 
for the suffering it would cause her — he could never 
endure to be parted, how deliberately put her away? 
He would tell her his intention; how endure what she 
would say, or not say ? He would carry out his purpose 
and she would leave him and must shortly die; and how 
endure her death in such circumstances? Or, haply, 
he would prevail on her to stay with him; and she, 
supplanted, jealous of Audrey and gentle Audrey fear¬ 
ing her. And how endure that ? 

No — to create such a breach insupportable, and 
insupportable life without Audrey. What then? 

It came to him as complete solution, and as complete 
solution he pressed it now on Audrey, that he would 
marry Audrey first, then after a little while tell. The 
more he examined it, the more obvious, the less impos¬ 
sible of failure it seemed. “Gran, dear,” he imagined 
himself saying, taking his opportunity in one of those 
frequent moments when, out driving with her or sitting 
alone with her in the evening, she loved just to sit si¬ 
lent, resting her hand on his,— “ Gran, dear, I’ve something 
to tell you. I’ve done something and done it without 
telling you, so as to have you go on living with me like 
we’ve always lived together. Gran, I’m married —• 
Audrey, Audrey Oxford; you remember, dear? ” 

Imagining it, he could imagine her arms about him. 



“Gran, I’m married” — easy and kind. “Gran, I’m 
going to marry, going to marry Audrey Oxford”—• 
cruel, impossible! 

The solution removed also an obstacle to their mating 
on Audrey’s side — her sister. Their courtship had 
been carried on against her sister’s disapproval. Maggie 
was twenty years older than Audrey, more mother to 
her than sister, and sharp-tongued in the matter of 
Roly’s frequent visits, the more surely to avert the 
disaster in which she believed they must end. 

“In time — it’s only a question of time,” she had 
once said to Audrey, “he will forget you, turn to his 
own position and responsibilities in life — leave you 
broken-hearted. How else can it end?” 

And Audrey in tears: “What if I tell you he has 
asked me to marry him ?” 

“He has asked you that?” 

“Maggie, he has.” 

“Has he told Lady Burdon?” 

“Not yet, because —” 


And Audrey: “Oh, how can you say you love me?” 

And Maggie; “Audrey! Audrey!” 

And Audrey: “Maggie, I didn’t mean that.” 

And Maggie, steeling her heart: “But you think it: 
the first result of him. You are girl and boy; you don’t 
understand. Why, I, who would die if you were to 
die, would rather see you dead than betrothed to him. 
If it ended in marriage, it would end in misery.” 

And later she had said to him : “If you break Audrey’s 
heart, I will never forgive you. That’s a poor threat. 
I would find a way perhaps —” 

So there was Maggie stood in the way; and the solu¬ 
tion found a way round Maggie. And there was lastly 



all the clatter of his friends, all the active disapproval of 
his elders; and the solution found an easy way around 
that. He could not hurt Gran; he could not conciliate 
Maggie; he could not face himself gossiped of, implored, 
advised, reproved; and the solution offered an easy way 
around it all. Easily winning Audrey to it,—her hands in 
his, his spirit possessing hers — he came to details. He 
had examined and arranged everything. He had made 
inquiries as to Registry Office marriages. They were 
both of age. There was a residence formality: well, 
she was coming on a visit to a girl friend in Kensington; 
he would take a room in a hotel in the district. They 
would meet at the Registry “one fine day.” Long leave 
from his regiment was due. They would go on the 
continent — “all over the place, the most gorgeous time” 
— and afterwards — easy as all the rest was easy — 
Gran should be told. 

He ended : “Audrey — married !” 

And she: “Roly! . . . Oh, Roly!” 

Comic were the word for such a thing. 


Comic the word; but if, instead, you choose to judge 
them and to consider preposterous his arguments of the 
case between his Gran and his Audrey and preposterous 
his solution of it, beg you remember that life is going to 
be an impossible affair for us, a thing to drive us mad, if 
we are going to judge it by the standard of the correct 
and noble characters that you and I possess. By some 
means or another we must stoop down to the level of 
our neighbours and try to judge from there. Dowered 
with all the virtues, as you and I are, it is the easiest 
thing in the world to be impatient with another’s folly, 



to despise him for it, to indicate how little moral courage 
will rid him of its effects; nay, to go further, and to 
declare it inconceivable that such blunders and follies 
and misbehaviours, as for example those upon which 
Roly and his Audrey were now embarked, can really 
have been committed. But that is a stage too far. 
We must not run our excusable intolerance of folly to 
the length of calling impossible even the most absurd 
actions, even the most incredible weakness of character. 
The whole history of mankind results precisely from 
these absurdities and these incredibilities. On the one 
hand, we should still and should all be in Eden if it 
were not so; on the other, there is the distinctly mov¬ 
ing thought that you and I, faultless, are dependent for 
our entertainment on exactly these impossibilities of 
character in others: but for them we should never 
enjoy the delicious thrill of being shocked, never (the 
thing is unthinkable) be able to thank God we are not 
as others are. 

No, we must accept these impossible follies on the 
part of our neighbours: but to understand them — 
nay, if we are too utterly high and they too utterly low 
for that, then merely to pay the poor devils for the en¬ 
tertainment they give us — let us try to see as they see, 
feel as they feel, become naked as they are naked to the 
bitter chill of cowardice, of temptation, of God knows 
what indeed that strikes them to the bone. 

Let us try, and coming to these two, let it for Audrey 
at least be excused that she was the gentlest thing and 
all unschooled in any heavier book of life than the airy 
pamphlet that begins “I love;” with “I love” continues; 
with “I love” ends; and never asks, much less supplies, 
what “I love” means, or what demands, or whither leads, 
or how is paid. 




He married her — and wearied of her. Within two 
months of when he called her wife — and pressed her 
to him and kissed her for the fondness of that name, and 
chaffed her with “Wife” in place of Audrey at every 
lightest word — within two months of that tremendous 
day he was discovering himself checked and irritated by 
the vexations, the hindrances, the deceptions imposed 
by secret marriage upon his former free and buoyant 
way of life. Within three he was openly irked, not 
hiding from her that his temper was crossed when, 
stronger and more frequently, incidents arose to cross 
it. Within four months — and still their secret unde¬ 
clared — he was often neglecting her, often silent in 
her presence for long periods; brooding; frowning at 
her where she sat or where she walked beside him; leav¬ 
ing her in a storm; returning to her in remorse; assur¬ 
ing himself he did not love her less, nay, rather loved her 
more — But . . . ! Every way he turned and every¬ 
thing she did and all the things she did not do, brought 
him and bruised him against the bars of which that 
But was made. 

All this most wretched and most pitiful, most excus¬ 
able and most inexcusable business may best be ex¬ 
amined in the incidents that stood out to mark its prog- 




ress. Theirs was the oldest and most frequent of hu¬ 
man errors. They had jumped into the delights of the 
foreseen, and behold ! they found themselves in the 
swamp, in the jungle, in the desert, in the whirlpool of 
the unforeseen. 


Audrey wrote and told Sister Maggie — a letter pledg¬ 
ing her to secrecy, posted on the very moment of depar¬ 
ture for the Continent (“at our wedding breakfast at 
the Charing Cross hotel, darling; and the train just 
going”) and breathing ecstasy of happiness, and breath¬ 
ing love all atremble in its prayer for forgiveness. It 
informed Maggie that they were to be Mr. and Mrs. Red- 
path until everybody was told; and “O, darling Maggie, 
I shall not sleep until I get your letter — Poste restante , 
Paris, dear — telling me you forgive me and how glad 
you are.” 

Forgiveness was not to be discovered in the reply by 
the weeping eyes that read it. “You have made a most 
terrible mistake,” Maggie wrote. “You say that you 
are happy, but you will find you can only be miserable 
while you are living in deception.” 

The wounding sentences were written in a firm, clear 
penmanship that in itself was cold and bitter reprimand. 
As they appeared, so Audrey read them. She did not 
know that they were written while the hand that made 
them could be steadied from its trembling desire to send 
a message only of devotion, only of prayer for Audrey’s 
happiness, only of blessing. The letter brought to Au¬ 
drey’s eyes the tears that Maggie hoped to bring but 
ached to bring — forcing herself to be cruel in order to 
be kind; also it brought belief that Maggie was and 


wished to be estranged. It was never answered. Wisely 
intended, unwisely executed, misread, it added to the 
record of human perversity another of those immensely 
pitiful blunders that solely and alone are the cause of 
human unhappiness. When Heaven holds its reas¬ 
sembly, Heaven, as we seek out our loved, will surely 
ring with broken, loving greetings of: “I did not know ! 
I did not understand!” No more will need be said. 
All tragedy, all sorrow is in those words; all tragedy, 
all sorrow removed by them. 

Roly also had his letter. “If you cause her one single 
moment’s unhappiness—” and other wild words. He 
did not show it to Audrey. Cause his darling unhappi¬ 
ness ! He kissed away the tears her own letter had 
brought and laughingly cheered her with an amusing 
account of an incident in the hotel lobby. “We’ll 
have to get out of this place, Audrey. There’s a man 
staying here and his wife that I know well. Great pals 
of Gran’s. I near as a toucher ran bang into them.” 

It was the first glimpse of the Unforeseen. 



The first glimpse of the Unforeseen ! At the moment 
neither recognised it for such. At the moment it was 
merely “A dickens of a squeak. I say, we’ll have to 
look out for that kind of thing, old girl.” Later, and 
that before very long, incidents of the kind began to be 
realised as the Unforeseen indeed. “ That kind of thing ” 
became, or seemed to become, extraordinarily and 
exasperatingly frequent. What had promised to be the 
fun of looking out for it became the strain of avoiding 

There came a day — in Vienna, an original item of 



their programme but reached much earlier than intended 
owing to “That kind of thing’s” persistence — there 
came a day when signs of the strain were suddenly evi¬ 
denced, when, like a disturbed snake, unsuspected and 
sharply alarming, the Unforeseen upstarted and hissed 
at them. Audrey had struck up a pleasant hotel ac¬ 
quaintance, the matter of an hour’s chat, but related 
rather enthusiastically to Roly. At dinner that night 
she pointed out her friend. “Right at the far end — 
look ! By that statue sort of thing. In pink, with 
that tall man; d’you see, dear?” 

He saw; and with concern she saw him set down the 
glass he was raising to his lips and saw his face darken. 
He said: “Damnation! It’s Lady Ashington. It’s 
maddening, this kind of thing. By God, it is. I’m 
going. She’ll spot me in a minute. I’m going.” 

His violent words hurt her and frightened her. He got 
to his feet and she made to rise also. That worsened 
the incident. “Stop where you are,” he said angrily. 
“Both of us getting up — making people look ! I can 
slip out behind here. Damn this business !” 

When she followed him to their room, she found his 
temper no better that he had gone without his dinner. 
He had made arrangements, he told her, for them to 
leave early in the morning, and he named their destina¬ 
tion. She tried to pretend not to notice his mood; but 
her voice trembled a little as she said, “I’ve never 
heard of the place, dear.” 

He grunted, a little ashamed of himself: “I don’t 
suppose anybody has. I hope not. We must get off the 
beaten track. Badgered about like this from pillar to 
post. It’s getting on my nerves.” 

She faltered, “I’m so sorry, Roly.” 

Her tone pricked him. But these men hate above all 


things to feel in the wrong when they are in the wrong. 
The effect of her humility was to make him explain: “I 
don’t know what possessed you, Audrey, ’pon my soul 
I don’t, to go palling up with that woman.” 

Again she blundered. His reproach was so absurd 
that she laughed quite naturally at it: “0 Roly ! how 
ridiculous ! How was I to know you knew her ? ” 

He turned on her, alarming her utterly. “You 
ought to have known !” 

Foolish, exasperating tears in her eyes: “How could 
I? How could I?” 

“I’ve told you — I’ve warned you; that’s what I 
mean. I’ve told you that every dashed soul I ever 
knew seems to be all over the Continent. I’ve warned 
you to be careful. Asked you not to get in with people. 
You absolutely don’t care, seems to me. Perhaps you 
think it funny dodging about like this — perhaps you 
enjoy it. Well, I don’t. That’s enough. Let’s drop 
the subject.” 


So and in this wise the miserable business jolted 
towards its climax; deeper blunders at every step and 
every blunder additional to the load that stumbled 
them into the next. Here was a young man that had 
taken to himself pleasures, and lo ! they were chains, 
rattling whensoever he moved most grimly to remind 
him that now limits were imposed upon his movements; 
that he who, by virtue of his rank, of the blood in his 
veins, of his own high, careless, fearless air, that he who 
by virtue of these was wont to look every man in the 
face more boldly than the most of us, must now hide, 
dodge, shift, dissemble, or betray the secret that, as to 



his torment he found, every day and every covering 
deception made more impossible to discover to the 

Of all mankind’s infirmities nothing than deception so 
quickly, so deeply and so surely turns the quality of his 
behaviour; nothing so cruelly tears, so acidly pierces 
his nerves; nothing so saps his resolution, destroys his 
moral fibre. Honesty is sword and armour, bread and 
wine; deception a voracious canker in the vitals, a 
clutch out of hell dragging through fog of fear, through 
slough of sin, into mire unspeakable. He was in its 
torments, he was writhing from them into deeper blun¬ 
ders ; he began to shudder at the thought of proclaiming 
his marriage — yet. 

She saw his plight and, all unschooled in life, she con¬ 
tributed to the disaster. Here was the gentlest creature, 
adoring and mated with an impetuous mate that now 
was as a free beast trapped, goaded by the sudden bars 
that caged him on every side, wildly seeking an outlet, 
panicked at finding none. She searched her miserable 
pamphlet of “I love,” stained now with tears. It had 
nothing to give her. She read into it that in marrying 
her Roly she thought to have brought him nectar, and 
lo ! it was a cup of poison she had given him, tormenting 
him utterly. She blamed herself. Through wakeful 
nights she watched him where he lay beside her — 
troubled often now in his sleep — and sought and sought, 
fumbling her pamphlet, to know what amends she could 
make him; and chid herself she was a burden to him; 
and would sit up in the darkness and wring her poor 
young hands in her distracted grief. 

He noted the results that these distresses of her mind 
introduced to her appearance and her behaviour. They 
did not aid the difficulties with which he found himself 


beset. This was the beginning of the period of neglect 
of her; of silence in her presence for long periods; of 
brooding; of frowning at her where she sat or when she 
walked beside him; of leaving her in a storm, returning 
in remorse; of assuring himself he did not love her less, 
nay, rather loved her more — But! 


At the end of August came their return to England, 
and immediately his full realisation of the ghastly delu¬ 
sion of the idea that it were easy to tell Gran — easy 
and kind — when the thing was done. Monstrous 
delusion, ghastly folly! Why, the very fates were 
arrayed against it. He returned to find Gran ailing, in 
bed. He went to the Mount Street house, bracing his 
warped resolution to the pitch of telling her, and it was 
to her bedroom he must go, and found her weak and 
stretching out her arms to him and overjoyed — O God ! 
so overjoyed ! — to have her Roly back. How tell her ? 
Agony enough that she had no reproach for his neglect 
of her through the summer, nor any that he was come 
now with the news that he had run his leave to the last 
day and must at once rejoin the regiment at Canterbury. 
Agony enough that she nothing reproached, nothing 
questioned; unthinkable the agony of watching her 
while he said, “Gran — Gran, dear, I’m married. 
Audrey, Audrey Oxford, you know,” and of hearing her 
poor lips falter, “Married? Married, Roly? Audrey 
Oxford ? Married, Roly ? ” 

Unthinkable ! Impossible ! 

But it was another blunder committed, another step 
deeper into the coils, and he knew it for that when he 
left her, and ranged it with the similar torments that 



possessed him : the mad initial folly; the blunder of not 
proclaiming the marriage immediately he was married; 
the blunder of each hour delayed during the weeks on 
the Continent. 

Now he was in the very jungle of the Unforeseen. 
Each step, every day, lost him deeper in its fastnesses; 
and like one so lost indeed, its dangers — encountered 
or suspected on every hand — preyed upon his mind, 
robbed his remaining courage, lost him his moral bear¬ 
ings that remained unwarped. His regimental duties 
kept him at Canterbury. He could not have Audrey 
there. He took a tiny furnished flat in the neighbour¬ 
hood of Knightsbridge and there installed her, and there 
ran up to see her as often as might be. And the inevi¬ 
table began. The inevitable — the chaff of his com¬ 
panions as to why he was forever “dodging up to town” ; 
the meetings with his friends and their “Roly, where 
the devil do you get to these days?” the discovery that 
not only his men friends but his larger circle of acquaint¬ 
ances — Gran’s friends — were beginning to gossip of 
his mysterious habits. The former put a man’s inter¬ 
pretation on his conduct, baited him that they would 
track him down “to see what she was like.” That 
thrice infuriated him: on Audrey’s account; on the 
fear that they might do it and disclosure be forced, to 
relieve her from the horrible thing; and on the fact that 
what was implied was detestable to his nature. The 
larger circle of his friends were not more charitable, if 
more discreet. Gran, who was better again and had 
gone for her health to Burdon Old Manor, sent letters 
that failed to hide concern telling him of this, that and 
the other friend who had written saying he denied himself 
to everybody, was frequently in town, but never avail¬ 
able and never to be found. G^n “hoped nothing was 


wrong, dear;” but erased her suspicion with her pen, 
but not so well that he could not read the words and pic¬ 
ture the troubled thoughts that wrote them. 

Ah ! this was that grisly Unforeseen in shape new and 
most monstrous. How meet it? How meet it? Just 
as he had shrunk from announcing his intention of mar¬ 
riage because of the clatter of tongues and the opposition 
that it would loose upon him, so now, but a thousand, 
thousand times more, he shrank from the clatter that 
divulgement of his secret would cause; from the resent¬ 
ment of his world at its befoolment by him (as they would 
feel it); from the sneers and laughter at his turpitude; 
from the apologies with which he must go round on his 
knees to those he had deceived; from the interminable 
explanations he must make. The Unforeseen in shape 
most monstrous! It rushed him as a host of savage 
beasts that had snarled, that had threatened, that had 
come at him singly and torn him but been whipped, but 
that now was on him in the pack. How meet it ? How 
meet it ? God ! What a lightsome, harmless, innocent, 
mad, wanton, reckless thing he had done, and what a 
turmoil he had loosed ! 

Bitter days, these, in the Knightsbridge flat. That 
pamphlet of “I love” all connoted now, written in tears, 
with what “I love” demands, where leads and must be 


A lovers’ litany 


Bitter days — but suddenly breaking to dawn. 
There came to him, on the rack of this torment, a thought 
that tortured him anew, yet made for healing. Audrey ? 
Even if, as in his extremity he debated, he dared all and 
defied all — snatched himself out of this hell by pub¬ 
lishing his position and crying to all concerned, “Now 
do and say your worst!” — even if he so made an end 
of it, to what would he bring her ? How would she be 
received, suddenly proclaimed his wife when this ugly 
crop of suspicion and gossip was at its height? He 
knew, or through his distraught imagination he believed 
he knew; and he writhed to picture her — his gentle, 
unversed Audrey — thus introduced to the suspicious, 
uncharitable, malicious atmosphere that well he was 
aware his world could breathe. “Comes from a post- 
office somewhere, or a shop was it? Married at such 
and such a date — so he says ! ” 

Thus the gate was slammed anew upon his resolution 
and locked and double-locked: the way must somehow 
be prepared for Audrey, the gossip by some means made 
to die, before he declared her. And with that there 
was unlocked and opened wide the gate that had barred 
up his love. Imagining the world’s treatment of her, 
he realised his own. 




It was in the tumult of these discoveries that he pre¬ 
sented himself at the Knightsbridge flat and greeted his 
Audrey with a fondness that made her cry a little for 
happiness; she frequently cried in these days, not often 
for happiness. His fondness continued at that dear 
level through the evening. It emboldened her to urge 
again the step that she believed the best of all the many 
plans she ceaselessly revolved for curing the trouble she 
told herself she had brought upon him. She urged him 
to tell Gran. “Do tell her, dear. It will end all your 
worry. You’re so worried, Roly. I see it — oh, how 
I see it! And I only add to it because I’m not — be¬ 
cause I don’t — because I vex you in so many ways. 
I know I do. You used to be so happy. You will 
be again directly this is all over. Do tell her, Roly! 
Roly, do /” 

She had been seated on the floor, her head resting 
against him where he sat in a great armchair. Now, 
in this appeal of hers, she was turned about and on her 
knees, her hands enfondling his, her face lifted towards 

He made a little choking sound, all his love for her 
surging; all his treatment of her wounding him; the 
thought of what he would bring her to if he took the 
course she urged filling him with remorse and with pity 
for her. He said in a strangled voice: “I can’t; I 
can’t,” and stooping, he raised her to him so that they 
lay together in the big chair, their faces close, his arms 
about her. . . . 

For a little space, except that she was crying softly, 
they were silent — clasped thus, most dear to one an¬ 
other; and then proclaimed that dearness in scraps of 
murmured sentences, the gaps filled up by what their 
tones and their clasped arms instructed them. . . . 



Just murmurs, and dusky evening in the room — light, 
faint as their tones were faint, and in the shadows (how 
else seemed the air they breathed at every breath to 
thrill them ?) spirits of true lovers that were winged down 
as, let us believe, lovers’ spirits may when mortals love. 

Just murmurs. 

He said: “Audrey, Audrey, I’ve been so cruel — 
angry —- thoughtless.” 

And she: “No . . . no.” 

And she again: “Go to her, then, Roly. Don’t tell, 
if you think not. . . . Just be with her for a little. . . . 
You’ll be happy then. . . . Leave me alone a little, 
dear. ... Not even write.” 

And he: “Audrey! . . . Audrey!” 

Her voice: “I shall be happy ... if only you are 
happy ...” 

And his: “I have been mad . . . mad to treat you 
so. . . . Forgive. . . . Forgive.” 

Her voice — and close, close, all those lovers’ spirits 
to hear this lovers’ litany: “When you are happy . . . 
I am happy.” 

And his — and all these murmurs chorused from lover’s 
wraith to lover’s wraith, as watchers handing flame from 
hand to hand to instruct heaven love still is here: “ Au¬ 
drey ! . . . Audrey!” 

And she: “My dear . . . my dear!” 


Happy for her, happy for him, for all that have a 
smile and tear for true love, to remember that from that 
moment never a hasty word or thought passed between 
them. In that lovers’ litany all such were purged, the 
past wiped out as if it had never been. And, as if in 


reward, into the night that surrounded Roly came a 
ray like a miraculous rope thrown to one in a pit. 

The way must somehow be prepared for Audrey, he 
had said; the gossip somehow be made to die before he 
could declare her. 

Sir Wry ford Sheringham supplied the way. 

General Sir Wry ford Sheringham had been his father’s 
close friend, was Gran’s much-trusted nephew and her 
adviser in Roly’s training. Gran was sending him ap¬ 
pealing letters in these days, imploring him to find out 
what it was that was wrong with her dear Roly. Chance 
enabled him suddenly to reply that, on the eve of his 
return to India, he was now returning to take command 
of the Frontier Expedition that the government of India 
had been saving up for a long time against three Border 
tribes, and that he purposed taking Roly with him. He 
could invent a corner to shove the boy into, he wrote; 
and she must not break her heart nor shed a single tear 
except for joy that the chance had come to get the boy 
away and to work. “Whatever it is he’s been up to,” 
Sir Wryford wrote, “ this’ll pull him out of it and send 
him back to you his father’s son again.” 

They walked into this last and supreme blunder as 
blindly as they had gone into the first. Roly presented 
it as the opportunity more wonderful than any that he 
could have invented to give this gossiping the slip. 
When he returned (“ loaded with medals, old girl,” as, 
aflame with excitement, he told her) it would all be for¬ 
gotten ; open arms for him and open arms for her. 

Audrey’s contribution to the folly was as characteris¬ 
tic. The news struck her like a blow; but instantly 
with the shock came its anodyne. He planned for her; 
every word of his rushing, thoughtless words was drafted 
to scale of “Because I love you so;” though they had 


86 . 

been actual knives she would gladly have clasped such 
to her heart. 

Credit him that the night before the day on which he 
sailed he had a sudden realisation of his madness. Credit 
him, at least, that now for the first time in their mis¬ 
guided chapter, he saw a blunder before he was irrev¬ 
ocably in it, and seeing it, tried to halt. He realised. 
He told her it was impossible that he should leave her 
thus. He must leave her in her right place. He must 
leave her with Gran. Gran was in town to bid him 
good-by. He must —- he would tell her that very 
night of their marriage: in the morning take Audrey to 

But at that she broke down utterly — betraying for 
the first time the flood and tempest of her agony at 
losing him and, while he strove to soothe her, imploring 
him not to put upon her this last trial of her strength. 
“I couldn’t bear it, Roly!” she sobbed. “Roly, I 
couldn’t bear it!” Overwrought by the cumulative 
effects of the past months, culminating in the sleepless 
agony of this last week and now in the unendurable tor¬ 
ture of good-by, she became hysterical at his proposal; 
sobbed as if her reason were gone, shaking with dreadful 
spasms of emotion that terrified him lest she would be 
unable to retake her breath. His arms about her, and his 
loving pleadings, his earnest promises to withdraw what 
he had said, joined with the sheer weariness of her con¬ 
vulsive distress at last to relieve her. She passed into 
a still, exhausted state and thence — utterly alarming 
him by her deathly pallor and by the faintness of her 
voice — into imploring him in whispers into the last, 
worst folly of all their pitiable blunders. She could not 
be left, she implored him, with Gran — left alone with 
her, left in such circumstances. “No, no! Roly, no! 



Together, Roly; not alone, not alone !” And then she 
began to assure him of her happiness if she might just 
wait here. “You can always think of me and imagine 
me here: just waiting for you, and thinking of you and 
praying for you; and not lonely, not unhappy. I prom¬ 
ise not lonely; I promise, promise not unhappy ! You 
can’t think of me like that if you leave me with Lady 
Burdon. You don’t know what may happen to me; how 
she may feel towards me or what I might imagine she 
felt and what I might not do. I could not — I could 

Try to understand him that he suffered himself to be 
convinced against himself. So placed; so implored; 
so loved and so loving; so shackled by the train of blun¬ 
ders he had committed, a hundred times more wise, more 
strong a man than twelfth Baron Burdon would have 
given way as he gave way. This was their farewell, and 
not to rob its fleeting hours more he agreed, and turned 
with her to rehearse the plans for her comfort in his ab¬ 
sence. The flat was taken for six months ahead. “Back 
in four ! Now I bet you any money I’m back in four !” 
There was money banked for her. Finally he wrote 
and gave her two letters, one addressed to a Mr. Pember¬ 
ton— “One of the best, old Pemberton” — the other 
to Gran. He began to say, “If anything happens to 
me,” but went on: “If ever you get — you know — 
down on your luck — that kind of thing — or feel you’d 
like to make it known about us before I come back, just 
send those letters — just as they are; you needn’t 
write or take them yourself. They explain everything, 
they . . . oh, don’t cry. . . . Audrey . . . Audrey!” 

Within a few hours he was gone. Within four months 
they were building a cairn of stones above him to keep 
the jackals from his body. 




Come to her in the month of January. Bridge those 
long weeks wherein she lived from mail day to mail 
day — as one not strong that has a weary mile to cover 
and walks from seat to seat — and come to her there. 

She was at this time not in good health, suffered much 
from headaches and was oppressed with a constant 
fatigue. In this condition fresh air without exertion 
had become very desirable to her, and she formed the 
daily habit of long rides outside the leisurely horsed 
tramcars of those days. Study of a guide acquainted 
her with their routes. She had a particular one for each 
day of the week, counting from Saturday to Friday, and 
arranged on a little plan by which (as she made believe) 
each journey was part of a long journey whose end was 
Friday’s ride, whence she returned home to find the 
Indian mail. Not only fresh air was obtained by this 
means, but a sense of actively advancing towards the 
day that brought the letters, round which she lived. 

On an afternoon of this January her ride was from 
Holborn, through Islington and Holloway, to Highgate 
Archway. On the near side of the Holloway road, half 
a mile perhaps below the stopping place, there is a group 
of houses approached by shallow steps that have re¬ 
sisted the overpowering inclination of the district to be¬ 
come shops and instead support their tenants by pro- 

88 ' 


viding apartments. The car that carried her had stopped 
here. She had learnt to eke out the amusement of these 
rides by attention to all manner of little incidents, and 
— employed with one such — was wondering if her car 
would restart before it was reached by a newsboy who 
ran towards them from the distance, his pink contents- 
bill fluttering apronwise before him. Some one was a 
terribly long time over the business of alighting or en¬ 
tering. The newsboy won. A few yards from where 
she sat above him he stopped to sell a paper and to fumble 
for change. The halt caused his fluttering pink apron to 
come to rest. 



Had something actually struck her throat? Was a 
hand actually strangling there? Could they see she 
was fighting for breath ? Was the car really rocking — 
right up so she could not see the street, right down and 
all the street circling ? Could others hear that shrill 
and enormous din that threatened to split her brain ? 

Through the tremendous hubbub and the dizzy rock¬ 
ing she got down. If this strangle at her throat did not 
relax, if this dizzy whirling did not cease, this immense 
din silence. . . . 

A curious voice, leagues away, said: “Yer’ve got ter 
pye fer it, y’know.” 

She put her fingers in her purse and held out what she 
could gather. A figure that had been going up and down 
in front of her seemed to take a tremendous sidelong 
sweep and vanished. She was left with a paper in her 



hands and knew what she must do. But if this din, this 
giddy circling. . . . 

It suddenly stopped. Everything stopped. There 
was not a sound, there was not a movement. 


London stands stock still in the middle of a windy, 
crowded pavement to open its evening paper and to 
peer at the stop-press space for only one particular pur¬ 
pose. While she thus stood and peered (and suddenly 
knew this icy silence was the gathering of an immense 
tide that was coming — coming) a woman who wore an 
apron over a capitally developed figure, and a rakish 
cloth cap over a headful of curl papers, opened the door 
of the house immediately beside her (appearing with 
the air of one shot at immense velocity out of a trap) 
and called “I! Piper !” She then exclaimed nearly as 
loudly “Ennoyin’ !” and then saw Audrey. 

This lady’s name was Mrs. Erps, and she knew per¬ 
fectly well, and rejoiced to observe an example of, the 
peculiarity in regard to London’s evening paper that has 
been noted above. Mrs. Erps rolled her solid hands 
in her apron and came down ingratiatingly. A model 
of correctness. “Excoose me, my dear,” she began, 
“Excoose me, wot ’orse won the tooo-firty? My old 
man — Ho, thenks, I’m sure — Ho, gryshus ! ” 

Relating the incident later in the evening to a lady 
friend, and acting it with considerable dramatic power: 
“’Ands me the piper she does,” said Mrs. Erps, “as 
natural as I ’ands this apring to you and then looks at 
me jus’ as if I mightn’t had been there, and then she 
says in a whissiper ‘Oh, dear !’ she says. . ‘O Gawd !’ 
and dahn she goes plump — dahn like that!” explained 


Mrs. Erps from the floor, very nearly carrying her 
friend with her in the stress of dramatic illustration. 

But Mrs. Erps was more than a great tragedy actress; 
she was also a kindly soul and there is to be added to 
this quality the genial warmth aroused in her by the 
fact that the tooo-firty winner was Lollipop, that Lolli¬ 
pop had cantered home at what she called sevings, and 
that her old man was seving times arf a dollar the richer 
for the performance. “Carry ’er in there,” said Mrs. 
Erps in a very loud voice to a policeman in particular 
and to a considerable area of the street in general. 
“Young man, that’s my ’ouse, and Mrs. Elbert Erps 
my nime, and dahn in front of it the pore young thing’s 
fell jus’ as she was ’anding me this very piper wot ’ad 
come aht to see the tooo-firty winner. ‘Excoose me,’ I 
says to ’er, ‘ excoose me — ’ ” 

The policeman : “All right, mother. Now, then, you 

Mrs. Elbert Erps, going backwards up the steps, 
hands beneath the arms of that poor stricken creature: 
“There’s a cleeng, sweet bed in my first front, welb 
haired and wool blenkits, that lets eight and six and find 
yer own, and could ask ten, and there she’ll rest, the poor 
pretty thing, dropped on me very doorstep, as yer might 
say, and standin’ there with the piper same as you 
might. ‘Excoose me,’ I says to ’er, ‘excoose me— 

Mrs. Erps shot open her front door with a backward 
plunge of her foot, the policeman closed it with a back¬ 
ward kick of his foot; and to the continued recital in 
great detail of how it all happened, their burden was car¬ 
ried to the first front and laid upon the cleeng, sweet 
bed, well-haired, wool blenkits, eight and six and find 
yer own. 

They loosened her dress at her throat; beneath the 



constable’s direction made use of water and chafed her 
hands. “Marrit,” said Mrs. Erps, denoting the wedding 
ring. “ Marrit, she is.” 

Presently Audrey opened her eyes. 

“Why, there you are!” cried Mrs. Erps in high de¬ 
light. “There you are, my pretty. Safe and sahnd 
as ever you was. There you are ! You recolleck me, 
don’t you, my love ? Wot you gave the piper to ? 
‘Excoose me,’ I says to yer, ‘excoose me,’ I says—” 

Audrey’s eyes went meaninglessly from Mrs. Erps 
to the constable, her eyelids fluttered above them and 

“Stand aht of it!” said Mrs. Erps to the constable 
in a very sharp whisper. “ Stand aht of it, frightenin’ 
her. ’E won’t ’urt you, my pretty. ’E only carried 
of yer up. Dahn you went, yer know, right dahn. 
Where’s your ’usbing, my pretty?” 

Her lips just parted. She moaned “Oh, dear! O 

Mrs. Erps communicated to the constable: “Jus’ 
’er very words. Dahn she went —” 

The eyes opened again. 

“Your ’usbing, dear, I’m askin’. ’Usbing. Ain’t 
you got a ma, my dear ? Ain’t you got a pa ? ” 

She said: “Dead . . . dead . . . Oh, dear ...” 

“Orfing,” communicated Mrs. Erps. 

“Rambling in her mind,” said the constable. “Not 
answering you, she wasn’t.” 

“You pop off, young man,” commanded Mrs. Erps 
with sudden hostility. “ Ramberling! Didn’t I ask 
her, and didn’t she give answer back to me ? Ramber¬ 
ling ! You pop off. I’ll fine where she lives, and my 
old man ’ll come to the station if so need be. ’E ain’t 
afraid of yer, so don’t you think it. Served on a joory, 


he has, before now. Ramberling ! I’m going to rub 
’er pore feet. That’s what I’m goin’ to do. Ramber¬ 
ling ! She knows me as spoke ’er fair before ever you 
came. ‘Excoose me,’ I says to her, ‘excoose me — ’” 

The policeman, from the door: “Yes, I’ve heard 

Mrs. Erps, bending over the stairs: “Pop off! That’s 
what I’m telling you. Pop off !” 


Mrs. Erps rubbed the “pore feet,” put a hot bottle to 
them, covered the poor, motionless form with two of the 
wool blenkits, called up her old man when he came in; 
and in his presence and in that of the lady second floor 
lodger and the young man first back lodger, trembling 
with witnessed honesty, she opened the pretty dear’s 
purse and searched her pocket for any clue to her home. 
There was none. Mrs. Erps, having counted the money 
in the purse, written down the amount and had the 
paper signed by her old man, by second floor and by 
first back, bade them pop off, and sat beside her patient 
with soothing words and frequently a kiss to the reiter¬ 
ated “Oh, dear . . . oh, dear . . . O God! ” that came 
in scarcely audible sighs as from one numbed with pain 
and utterly tired. 

So, only now and then sighing, eyes closed, she lay 
for close upon three hours. Mrs. Erps stole away to 
cook up a nice bit of fried fish for ’er old man, revisiting 
the first front at intervals, waiting to hear that weary 
moan, and returning down-stairs increasingly troubled 
with: “I don’t like to hear her. Fair wrings my ’art, 
it does.” 

A visit paid towards seven o’clock was better re- 



warded. Audrey opened her eyes, looked full and in¬ 
telligently at Mrs. Erps, standing there with a lighted 
candle, and quite naturally addressed her. She ques¬ 
tioned nothing. She seemed fully to understand where 
she was and why. In tones weak but quite clear and 
collected she made two requests. Please let her stay 
here for the night and leave her quite alone; she wanted 
nothing, just to be alone; and please send a telegram 
for her. 

She dictated the message and it was sent — to Maggie, 
and with Mrs. Erps’ address added, and running: 
“ Please come at once. He is dead. Audrey.” 


Miss Oxford arrived in the early afternoon of the 
next day. All the devotion of the years she had moth¬ 
ered Audrey, all the longing — longing — longing of 
the past months for news, all the agony of suspense in 
the train journey (the papers informing her as they in¬ 
formed new Lady Burdon at Miller’s Field), all a break¬ 
ing heart’s distress was in the little cry she gave when 
she entered first front and saw that strangely white, 
strangely impassive face lying on the pillow. 

“My darling! Oh, my darling” — arms about the 
still form, tears raining down. 

No responsive movement; just “Dear Maggie — 
dear Maggie.” 

“Why did you never write ?” 

“Dear Maggie ...” 

There was no more of explanation between them. 

“Maggie, I want to be quite, quite still. Not to talk, 
Maggie darling. Just hold my hand and let me lie here. 
Are you holding it?” 


“ Audrey ! Audrey! Yes — yes. In both mine.” 

“I don’t feel you.” 

She seemed to feel nothing, to want nothing, and, 
though she lay now with wide eyes, to see nothing. She 
just lay, scarcely seeming to breathe. Once she said, 
in a very fond voice, “Yes, Roly,” as if she were in con¬ 
versation with him. No other sound. 

After a long time Maggie told her: “Darling, I’m 
going to bring a doctor to see you.” 

No reply nor movement when Maggie released the 
hand she held and left the room to seek Mrs. Erps. 
No interest nor response when the doctor came, or while 
he examined her. He took Maggie aside. “She’s very 
young. How long has she been married ?” 

“In June — the first of June.” 

They spoke in whispers. When he was going, he 
repeated what he had most impressed. “No fear of it 
happening so far as I can see. She doesn’t seem in 
pain. That numbness? Mental. Her mind is too 
occupied. I don’t think movement would bring it 
on; but don’t move her yet. We mustn’t run risks. 
It would be fatal — almost certainly fatal if it happened. 
Another shock would do it; nothing else, I think. 
Well, there’s no likelihood of shock, is there ? You can 
guard against that. See to that and you’ve no need 
to worry. She couldn’t possibly live through it in her 
present state. Otherwise — why, we’ll soon be on the 
right road and getting strong for it. I’ll look in to¬ 

This was in the passage, and with Mrs. Erps in wait¬ 
ing at the front door rehearsing in her mind: “As I 
was telling you when you come, doctor, ‘Excoose me,’ 
I says to ’er, ‘excoose me—’” But what Mrs. Erps 
overheard caused her to let him escape and to say instead 



to Miss Oxford, “Oh, the pore love ! If any one makes 
a sahnd to shock ’er — not if I knows it, they don’t.” 

Mrs. Erps knew quite well the meaning of that re¬ 
current “it” in the doctor’s words. 


But it was not in Mrs. Erps’s power to prevent the 
shock that came. 

It came in direct train of action from that “Yes, 
Roly” that Maggie had heard, separated from it by the 
days of high fever, the mind wandering, that almost 
immediately supervened. As one that falls asleep upon 
a resolution and wakes at once to remember it and to 
act upon it, so, the fever releasing her to her senses, 
Audrey took up immediately that which lay in those 
words of hers. 

She had fallen into a natural sleep that promised the 
end of her fever. She awoke, and directly she awoke 
sat up in bed. She was alone. Only the one thought 
was in her mind; she got up and began to dress. 

The resolution of her mind governed the extreme 
weakness of her body. She was no more aware of her 
feebleness than one strung up in battle notices a wound 
not immediately crippling. She knew exactly what 
she must do. She found her purse on the mantelpiece 
and took it and left the house without being noticed — 
or thinking to escape or to give notice. Only that one 
thought occupied her; a few yards down the street she 
met a cab and hailed it. “Burdon House, Mount 
Street,” she directed the driver. 

“Yes, Roly,” had been when Roly, visiting her more 
clearly, more real than any other figure about her during 
that numb and impassive period when she desired to be 


quiet in order to talk with him, had told her to go to 
Gran, to comfort Gran, and to be comforted. 


Old butler Noble admitted her. Events had caused 
old butler Noble to be considerably shaken in his wits. 
A week ago the door would have been closed to a young 
woman who asked for Lady Burdon and refused her 
name. To-day, on the explanation, “The name does 
not matter. Lady Burdon will be glad to see me,” 
it was held open and the visitor taken to the library. 

This was the second day of new Lord and Lady Bur- 
don’s visit for the latter to make Jane Lady Burdon’s 
acquaintance. Only that morning old butler Noble 
had made the mistake of turning away a Miller’s Field 
friend who had called to see new Lady Burdon, carrying 
out a promise to report how baby Rollo, left behind, was 
getting on. “Her ladyship is seeing no one,” Noble 
had informed her. The excellent Miller’s Field friend 
had been too overawed by his manner to explain exactly 
whom it was she wished to see. She sent a note of ex¬ 
planation by messenger. Noble delivered it to his 
mistress, who read it and sent him with it to new Lady 
Burdon. The note was foolishly worded. New Lady 
Burdon, ill at ease in this house, crimsoned to think it 
had been read. From the outset, hostile and prepared 
for hostility, she had taken a sharp dislike to this old 
man-servant; angry and mortified, she questioned him 
and spoke to him as he was unaccustomed to be ad¬ 

It was beneath the lesson of this incident that he ad¬ 
mitted Audrey without question. She was none of 
his mistress’s friends. In the first place he knew all 

9 8 


such; in the second they did not call at the impossible 
hour of half-past six in the evening, nor present the 
strange appearance — white, not very steady, faltering 
in voice — that she bore. 

He took the news of her arrival to new Lady Burdon. 

“ Gave no name, do you say ? ” 

“She said your ladyship would be glad to see her.” 

Lady Burdon hesitated a moment. She tingled with 
fresh hostility against this man because she wondered 
whether he expected her to accept that statement or to 
send him again for the name. She did not know and 
hated him the more, and hated all the fancied resent¬ 
ment for which he stood, because she did not know. 

Her mind sought a way out. She said with a little 
laugh : “Oh, I think I know. Very well.” 

She went to the library. 




It was very dim in the library. Above the centre 
of the room light stood in soft points upon a high chan¬ 
delier. A fire burnt low within the shelter of the great 
hearth. The rest was shadow. 

Lady Burdon came easily into the room, but in the 
doorway stopped; and Audrey, who had made a forward 
movement, prepared words on her lips, also stopped. 
There was something odd about this girl who stood there, 
Lady Burdon thought, and her mind ran questing the 
cause of some strange apprehension that somehow was 
communicated to it. There was something wrong, 
Audrey thought; and she began to tremble. For a 
briefest space, that was a world’s space to Audrey’s 
mind bewildered and to Lady Burdon’s mind suspicious, 
as they went hunting through it, these two stood thus, 
and thus regarded one another. 

It was told of this library at Burdon House — Mr. 
Amber’s “Lives” record it — that in the days when 
gentlemen wore swords against their thighs, a duel 
was fought here, that the thing went in three fierce as¬ 
saults, each ended by a bloody thrust on this side or on 
Ithat, and that between the bouts the rivals panted, sick 
with fatigue and hurt. 

Words for swords, and the first bout: — 




Lady Burdon closed the door. She went a step to¬ 
wards Audrey and said, “Yes?” 

Audrey, with fumbling hands, swaying a little where 
she stood: “I think — I came to see Lady Burdon.” 

Odd her look, and odd her tone, and strange the trem¬ 
bling that visibly possessed her. Lady Burdon was 
about to explain. Her mind came back from its quest¬ 
ing like one that cries alarm by night through silent 
streets. “Beware!” it cried to her. “Beware!” and 
for her explanation she substituted: 

“I am Lady Burdon.” 

The first thrust. 

Audrey put a hand against a chair that stood beside 
her. The trembling that had taken her when, expecting 
to see Roly’s Gran, this stranger had appeared, began 
to shake her terribly in all her frame. This Lady Bur¬ 
don ? For the first time since her will had got her from 
her bed and brought her here, she was informed how 
weak she was. A dreadful physical sickness came over 
her and all the room became unsteady. 

Respite enough, and the second bout: — 

Lady Burdon demanded: “Who are you, please?” 

No reply, and that augmented her suspicion, and 
she came on again: “Who are you, please ?” 

Wave upon wave that dreadful sickness swept over 
Audrey and set her brain aswim. Bewildered thoughts, 
like frantic arms of one that drowns, tossed up upon the 
flood, and like such arms that gesticulate and vanish, 
spun there a dizzy moment and spun away: This Lady 
Burdon? . . . then this not Roly’s house . . . then 
what? . . . then where? This Lady Burdon? . . . 
then all her life with Roly was dream . . ..had never 
been . . . none of her life had ever been . . . what 
had been then ? 


A third time: “Who are you, please? Why do you 
not answer me?” 

She made an effort. She said very pitiably: “Oh, 
how — oh, how can you be Lady Burdon ?” 

No wound — only the merest scratch, but increasing 
in Lady Burdon the dis-ease that had come to her on 
entering the room and had heightened at every moment. 

In her turn it was hers to give pause, but she engaged 
quickly for the third bout. 

“I see you do not understand,” she said. 

And Audrey: “Oh, please forgive me. No, I do not 
understand; I have been ill. I am ill.” 

“But I am afraid I do not understand you. I do not 
understand your manner. If you will tell me who you 
are — what it is you want — I can perhaps explain.” 

But Audrey only looked at her. Only most pitiable 
inquiry was in her eyes. Lady Burdon read their in¬ 
quiry, that same “Oh, how can you be Lady Burdon?” 
and the question and the silence brought vague, unrea¬ 
soning alarm in violent collision with her suspicions. 
Anger was struck out of their conjunction. She said 

“You must answer me, please. You must answer 
me. What is the matter? I am asking you who you 

Mr. Amber’s account of the duel says that one con¬ 
testant drove the other the length of the room and had 
him pinned against the wall: — 

Into Audrey’s bewilderment, the dreadful sickness 
and the trembling she could not control, these sharp 
demands came like numbing blows upon one in the trough 
of the Sea grappling for life. When Roly had come to 
her as she lay stupefied and she had answered him “Yes, 
Roly,” he had told her clearly as if in fact he had stood 



beside her, what she should say to Gran. She had come 
with the words prepared. They suddenly returned to 
her now. 

The words she had made ready: “I am Audrey—” 
she said. 

Mr. Amber’s account of the duel says that the one 
contestant, having his rival pinned, was too impetuous 
and ran upon the other’s sword: — 

Lady Burdon said: “ Audrey ? Do you say Audrey ? 
Are you known here ? ” 

And ran upon the other’s sword: — 

“I am Audrey — I am Roly’s wife.” 


As a dreadful blow sends the stricken, hands to 
face, staggering this way and that on nerveless, aimless 
legs; or as a tipsy man, unbalanced by fresh air, will 
blunder into any open door, so, at that “I am Audrey— 
I am Roly’s wife” — Lady Burdon’s mind was sent 
reeling, fumbling through a maze of spinning scenes — 
marriage ? and what then ? — before it could fix itself 
to realisation. 

She stood plucking with one hand at the fingers of 
the other; and when the whirl subsided and she came 
dizzily out of it her mind was leaden and the first words 
she could get from it were none she wanted. 

Her voice all thick: “He was not married,” she said. 

The reply, very gentle: “We did not tell any one.” 

And to that nothing better than “Why?” 

“Roly did not wish it.” 

Thick and heavy still: “Why do you come now?” 

And Audrey in a little cry: “Because he is dead !” 

Then Lady Burdon said dully: “You had better go,” 


and at the bewilderment that came into Audrey’s eyes 
repeated more strongly: “You had better go — 
quickly;” and then “Quickly !” with her voice run up 
on the word, and her hands that had been plucking flung 

Her mind was over its numbness and through the 
whirl of nightmare meanings in that “ I am Roly’s wife; ” 
and it came out of them as one shaken by a fall and 
strung up for vengeance. Marriage ! Impossible ! And 
she a fool to be frightened by it — at worst a horrid after- 
math of disgusting conduct. 

“Quickly!” she cried and then burst out with: “I 
see what you are — to come at such a time — to this 
house of mourning — he scarcely dead — with such 
a story — wicked — infamous — I know, I see now 
why you were surprised to see me — an old lady you 
expected — grief-stricken —” 

She stopped, achoke for breath, and Audrey said: 
“Oh, please — please.” 

Misgiving, that subtle, coward spy that spies the 
way for fear, cast its net over Lady Burdon. The plead¬ 
ing, gentle air — no flush of shame, no note of defiance 
hunted her mind back to its alarms. And Audrey 
said: “He did not wish our marriage known;” and 
at “marriage” misgiving turned and shouted fear to 

She said slowly: “You persist marriage? There 
are proofs of marriage. Where are your proofs?” 

The pleading look only deepened: “But I never 
thought—” Audrey said, “ —but I never thought—” 
She swayed, and swayed against the chair she held. It 
supported her. “I never thought I would not be be¬ 
lieved. Lady Burdon will understand. I know she 
will understand. If I may see her, please ...” 



“If you were married — proofs.” 

There was a considerable space before Audrey an¬ 
swered. Presently she said very faintly: 

“I am very ill ... I am very ill ... I can bring 
proofs. . . . But she will understand. . . . Please let 
me see her. . . . Please, please ...” 

In advertisement of her state her eyelids fluttered 
and fell upon her eyes while she spoke. Her voice was 
scarcely to be heard. 

Her condition made no appeal to Lady Burdon. The 
simplicity of her words, her simple acceptance of the 
challenge to bring proofs, returned Lady Burdon to that 
dull plucking at her hands; and presently she turned 
and went heavily across the room and through the door, 
closed it behind her and went a few paces down the hall 
— to what ? At that question she stopped, and at the 
answer her mind gave went quickly back to the door 
and stood there breathing fast. What was shut in 
here? A monstrous thing come to strike her down as 
suddenly as miracle had come to snatch her up ? And 
where had she been going? To publish it? To impel 
the horrible fate it might have for her ? To say to old 
Lady Burdon and to Maurice: “There is a woman here 
who says she was married to Lord Burdon?” To say 
what would spring into their minds as it tore like a 
wild thing at hers: — “Yes, if marriage, a child ... an 
heir?” At thought of how narrowly she had escaped 
the results of that action, she trembled as one trembles 
that in darkness has come to the edge of a cliff and 
by a single further step had plunged to destruction; and 
at imagination of the bitterness, the humiliation that 
would be hers if the worst were realised and she returned 
from what she had become to worse than she had been, 
she writhed in torture of spirit that was like twisting 


poison in her vitals. All her plans, all her dreams, all 
her sweet foretasting sprang up before her, mocking 
her; all the intolerable sympathy of her friends, all 
the secret laughter it would hide, came at her, twisting 

Somewhere in the house a door opened and shut. 
She put a hand violently to her throat, as though the 
shock of the sound were a blow that struck her there. 
She found herself braced against the door, guarding it; 
listening for footsteps, and strung up to keep away who¬ 
ever came. Silence ! But the attitude into which she 
had sprung informed her of the determination that had 
shaped unperceived beneath the tumult of her thoughts. 
She was not going to fall beneath the blow that threat¬ 
ened her ! When she knew that, she was calmer, and 
set herself to satisfy her fears. What was shut in here ? 
A wanton. . . . Wanton ? Who never flushed, never 
railed, defied ? A betrayed, then. Well, what was that 
to her, and how was she concerned? A betrayed? 
Who came with no story of betrayal that might or 
might not be, but with assertion of marriage that was 
capable of definite proof or disproof ? Marriage ? Im¬ 
possible ! A lie ! Impossible ? There came to her rec¬ 
ollection of that strange disappearance of which Mr. 
Pemberton had told; was marriage the secret of it ? 
There swept back to her that vivid and hideous night¬ 
mare on the very night of the news when she had cried 
“I hold !” and had been answered : “No, you do not — 
nay, I hold.” Was that foreboding? There flamed 
before her again the mock of her plans, the humiliation 
of her downfall. She struck her clenched hands to¬ 
gether ; and as if the violent action caused an assembly 
of her arguments, she reduced her position to this: 
either the thing was true, in which case it could be 



proved; or it was a lie, in which case no consideration 
recommended her to do other than keep it to herself and 
herself stamp upon it. 

That satisfied her and she reentered the room to act 
upon it. 

Audrey was on her knees by the chair. The sight 
shook her satisfaction. Wanton? Betrayed? A lie? 

Audrey turned towards her: “I have been praying,” 
she said. She got to her feet and came forward a step: 
“ She is coming to see me ? ” 

Lady Burdon said: “I have told her. She will not 
see you.” ; 

She was committed. She stood agonisingly strung 
up in every fibre, as one that waits an appalling catas¬ 
trophe. She saw Audrey wring her 1 hands and heard her 
moan “Oh . . . Oh !” 

She heard her own voice say: “You can bring your 
proofs.” She had, as it were, a vision of herself opening 
the street door and watching Audrey pass her and go 
down the steps and out of sight. She was only actually 
returned to herself when she found herself, as one 
awaking who has walked in sleep, striving to make 
her trembling hands close the latch of the door. 




The driver of a four-wheeled cab, crawling down 
Mount Street, pushed along his horse when he saw Au¬ 
drey walking with very slow and uncertain steps ahead 
of him. He drew into pace alongside her and began to 
repeat: “Keb? Keb, miss — keb, — keb?” with a 
persistence and regularity that suggested it was the 
normal sound of his breathing. 

She stopped and stared at him in a dazed way. He 
pulled up and went on quite contentedly: “Keb? — 
Keb, miss — keb, — keb ? ” His voice and his keb came 
presently into her realisation. There returned to her 
knowledge of what she purposed. Her thoughts seemed 
to her to be drifting shapes, and this one had floated 
away and she had been trying to reach it — hanging 
there just above her — while she stared at him. She 
gave him the address of the Knightsbridge flat and pres¬ 
ently was driving there and presently going up the stairs, 
very slowly, taking her key from her purse, and then 

The flat was in extraordinary confusion. She did not 
notice. The woman who came daily to attend her 
wants had come twice to find her not returned, and a 
third time with a gentleman friend (on tiptoe), taking 
a stealthy and permanent departure an hour later with 




everything that could be conveniently carried. The 
back of a drawer in a bureau had not received this lady’s 
attention. It contained all that Audrey had come to 
seek: a box of carved wood, picked up on the Continent. 
Those two letters Roly had given her for Mr. Pember¬ 
ton and Gran were here. Her mind had turned to them 
when she had realised the thing that had never occurred 
to her: that she would not be believed. Here also was 
her marriage certificate and all the letters Roly had 
written her — before marriage and from* India. 

She took up the box and began to retrace her steps. 
She had scarcely got down the stairs when dizziness 
seized her again. The dreadful sickness and the trem¬ 
bling that the shock of her first encounter with Lady 
Burdon had caused her had been stamped out by the 
final blow that made her wring her hands and cry “Oh 
. . . oh !” and had sent her numbed from the house and 
carried her numbed to this point. Her physical senses 
had been drugged, just as they had been hypnotised 
by the instruction to which she had answered “Yes, 
Roly.” Now they were suddenly released from the 
kindness of the drug. Dizziness — and while all things 
spun about her — pain. It caught her with a violence 
so immense that she believed her body could not contain 
it and would go asunder. It drove her, as it seemed 
to her, through unconsciousness and into a state in 
which she met it again with a quality in its sharpness 
that she knew for death, as if she recognised death. 
It dropped her back from where she had seen death, 
through the degree of its first immensity, and down to a 
gnawing that told her it was gathering force to rush up 
again and this time leave her there — gone. In that 
respite she got to the cab. She would die at the next 
onslaught — Maggie ! If Maggie could hold her when 


it came! She did not know the address in the Hollo¬ 
way Road, but knew it was there, and a butcher’s with 
a strange name — Utter — had caught her attention 
opposite when she left the house. She tried to tell the 
driver, but her condition overcame her speech. He saw 
her state and jumped down to her, and she called tre¬ 
mendously upon herself and effected the words. He 
more lifted than helped her in, and she continued to 
hold herself until he got back to his box, then collapsed 

The cabman pulled up opposite the establishment of 
Mr. Utter and had scarcely stopped his horse when from 
Mrs. Erps’s house came Mrs. Erps, plunging down the 
steps, and Miss Oxford, who stopped at the entrance, 
not daring to come on. Mrs. Erps peered through the 
cab window and then called back to Miss Oxford. 
“Told yer it was. Safe and sahnd !” and began to tug 
at the handle and sharply addressed the cabman: “Ho, 
ain’t you got a nasty stiff door!” and cried through the 
window: “Why, there you are, my dear! Popping 
off like you hadn’t ought to, give us a fair ole turn!” 
and flung open the door and said, “Ho, dear!” and 
turned a frightened face to Maggie, come beside 

The open door revealed how Audrey was collapsed, 
and showed the hue of ashes that her face had, and gave 
the groaning that came from her. 

Miss Oxford went to her. “Audrey ! . . . dying ! 
She is dying !” 

By common understanding they began to try to carry 
her out. The cabman leant over from his box and pres¬ 
ently saw Mrs. Erps come backing out with violent 
movements and suddenly had her fist shaken in his 
surprised face. “ ’Old your old ’orse, carng yer ! ” Mrs. 



Erps cried furiously. “ Joltin’ of us! ’Old your old 
catsmeat, carng yer!” She plunged round to the 
further door, and through that they lifted her whose 
groaning terrified them utterly, carried her up-stairs, 
and for the second time she was laid on the cleeng 
blenkits, well haired, eight an six and find yer 

All Mrs. Erps’s breath—no policeman to assist her— 
was this time required for the exertion. But when 
their burden was laid she voiced the extremity to which 
it was clearly come. “’Ad er shock, she ’as,” said Mrs. 
Erps. “Some one’s done it on ’er.” 

“Oh, bring the doctor,” Miss Oxford cried. ‘“Quick ! 
Quick ! Oh, my God . . . my God !” 

She did what she could while Mrs. Erps was gone. 
She was praying, when her prayer was so far answered 
that Audrey recognised her. “Maggie ...” and then 
“I am dying — forgive,” and then caught up in her 
pains again while Maggie cried: “Don’t! Don’t! 
It is for you to forgive me; you will be all right soon — 
very soon.” The pains drew off a little. Audrey be¬ 
gan to speak very faintly. “I went to Lady Burdon —” 
Very feebly she told what had happened and Maggie, 
who had begged her, “Darling, don’t talk — don’t 
worry,” listened as one that is held aghast. When 
the slow words failed, she did not at once realise that 
Audrey’s voice had stopped. Mrs. Erps and the doctor 
found her kneeling by the still form with strangely 
staring, unweeping eyes. 

“She has had a shock,” the doctor began. 

“They have killed her,” Miss Oxford said. 

Bending over the patient he did not notice her words 
nor the intensity of their tone; and there began to come 
very quickly a dreadful urgency that caused agony of 


grief to override the agony of hate that had possessed 

There was a thin, new cry went up in the room: and 
that was life newly come. And there was heavy breath¬ 
ing with dreadful pause at each expiration’s end and then 
the straining upward climb : and that was life fluttering 
to be gone. Longer the pauses grew and harsher the 
upward breath. Loud the thin cry struck in, and as 
though it called that fleeting life, and as though that 
fleeting life, in the act of springing away, turned its 
head at the sound, Audrey opened her eyes. 

There seemed to be a question in them. Miss Oxford 
bent closely over her: “ A boy, my darling.” 

She seemed to smile before she died. 



That day of Audrey’s death was in two minds at two 
breakfasts in different quarters of London on a morning 
some while later. In the Mount Street house Jane 
Lady Burdon, starting in an hour to make her home 
with her sister in York, was reading to Lord and Lady 
Burdon a letter just received from India. It was a 
sympathetic note from the officer who had been with 
her Roly when he fell. “‘His last words/” she read 
aloud with faltering lips, “‘were: Tell Gran to love 
Audrey. It was difficult to catch them, but I think that 
was it.’” 

Jane Lady Burdon laid down the letter and smiled 
feebly. “They have no meaning for me,” she said. 

And Lord Burdon: “Nellie! What’s up, old girl?” 

Lady Burdon struggled with the dreadful agitation 
the words had caused her. They had meaning for her. 
“/ am Audrey — I am Roly’s wife.” 

“So sad,” she exclaimed, “so sad — excuse me — I 
— ” She rose shakily and went from the room. After 
two days of suspense she had thought that hideous alarm 
defeated and disproved. What now? And what had 
she done ? 

The other breakfast was at Mrs. Erps’s — also im¬ 
mediately before a journey. “No one,” Mrs. Erps had 
said, “no one hadn’t oughter travel on a nempty stom¬ 
ach,” and had forced Miss Oxford to the table before the 


start for Little Letham and “Post Offic.” “I know 
you’ve had bitter trouble as loved the pretty dear me- 
self ever since ‘Excoose me,’ I says to ’er, ‘excoose me,’ 
as I’ve told yer. An’ Gord alone knows I know what 
trouble is, as ’ad twings of me own pop off in one mumf. 
But you’ve got the Living for to think of. Same as I 
’ad my ole man, you’ve got this blessed ingfang what 
never know’d a muvver’s breast and took to the bottle 
like nothing I never did see.” 

And to the blessed “infang” reposing in her arms 
while she talked: “Didn’t yer, yer saucy sossidge? 
That’s what you are, yer know — a saucy sossidge. 
Ho, yes yer are. No use yer giving answer back ter me, 
yer know. A saucy, saucy sossidge, wot I should cook 
up with mashed if I had me way with yer, bless yer.” 

Maggie scarcely heard; but there was one sentence 
of Mrs. Erps that joined her thoughts: “You’ve got 
the living for to think of.” Yes, she had that — and 
the dead to revenge. “They have killed her,” she had 
cried to the doctor. Through the long night, when she 
knelt beside the still figure, that thought had burned 
within her and refused her tears. It grew to an intoler¬ 
able agony that pressed upon her brain as though a 
band of steel were there. She understood what had 
bewildered Audrey — who it had been that had said 
“I am Lady Burdon.” Her imagination pictured the 
woman. An orgasm of most terrible hate possessed 
her, increasing that dreadful pressure on her brain, and 
suddenly something seemed to her to have given way 
beneath the pressure. 

Hate or passion of that degree never filled her again. 
She was strangely quiet in manner when Mrs. Erps came 
to her in the morning, strangely quiet at the funeral in 
Highgate Cemetery while Mrs. Erps wept in loud emo- 



tion, and always quite quiet in mind. The child was 
going to live, she was somehow fully assured of that, 
and she was not going to give him up — her Audrey’s 
child — as, if she spoke, she might have to give him up. 
He was going to live with her at “Post Offic” and take 
his mother’s place; and one day. . . . They had taken 
Audrey from her. One day she would return to them 
Audrey’s son. “I am Lady Burdon” had murdered 
Audrey. One day, when “I am Lady Burdon” was 
secure and comfortable in her possessions, and had for¬ 
gotten Audrey, Audrey’s son should avenge his 
mother. . . . 

Nothing could go wrong, Miss Oxford thought. She 
went through all the proofs in the carved box. Nothing 
was wanting. One day she would hand them to him 
— and then ! 

She wrote to her friend, Miss Purdie, at Little Letham, 
who had been taking care of “Post Ofhc” for her and 
told her — for the village information — that Audrey 
had lost her husband, and, on the shock, had died, in 
giving birth to a son. “I have called him Percival — 
his father’s name — Percival Redpath.” 

“Look arter yerself,” cried Mrs. Erps, as the train 
drew out of Waterloo. “Look arter yerself. Can’t not 
look arter him if yer don’t — and ’e ’ll want lookin’ 
arter, ’e will. ’E’s going ter be a knockaht, that’s 
what ’e’s going to be, ain’t yer, yer saucy sossidge! 
Sossidge ! Goo’by, sossidge. Goo’by. ...” 









Young Percival was seven — rising eight — when he 
first saw Burdon Old Manor. Miss Oxford had taken 
him for a walk, and they were in the direction of the 
Manor grounds, a locality she commonly avoided, when 
“ There’s a cart coming ! ” he warned her. He had lagged 
behind, exploring in a dry ditch; and he raced up to her 
with the news,, catching her hand and drawing her to 
the hedge, for she had been walking in the middle of 
the road, occupied with her thoughts. 

Percival had learnt to be accustomed to long silences 
in his Aunt Maggie and to rescue her from them when 
need arose. They were familiar, too, to all the vil¬ 
lagers and to the “help” who was now required for the 
domestic work of “Post Offic.” Not the same but a 
very different Miss Oxford had returned to “ Post Offic” 
seven years ago, bringing the news of poor, pretty Miss 
Audrey’s loss of husband and death, and bringing the 
little mite that was born orphan, bless him. A very 
different Miss Oxford, for whose characteristic alert¬ 
ness there was substituted a profound quietness, a notable 



air of absence, preoccupation. It was held by the vil¬ 
lagers that she had gone a little bit strange-like. Her 
sister’s death, it was thought, had made her a little touched- 
like. The “help,” a gaunt and stern creature named 
Honor, who largely devoted herself to bringing up Perci- 
val on a system of copy-book and devotional maxims 
which had become considerably mixed in her mind, called 
her mistress’s lapses into long silence symptoms of an 
“incline,” and in kindly, rough fashion sought to rally 
her from them. Percival, nearest the truth, called them 
“thinking.” When Aunt Maggie lapsed into such a 
mood, he would often stand by her, watching her face 
doubtfully and rather wistfully, with his head a little 
on one side. Presently he would give a little sigh and 
run off to his play. It was as though he puzzled to know 
what occupied her, as though he had some dim, unshaped 
idea which, while he stood watching, he tried to for¬ 
mulate — and the then little sigh: he could not dis¬ 
cover it — yet. 

What was clear was that nothing ever aroused Aunt 
Maggie from her strange habit of mind; and that at 
least is symptom of a dangerous melancholy. What was 
plain was that her fits of complete, of utter abstraction, 
embraced her like a sudden physical paralysis in the 
midst of even an energetic task or an absorbing conver¬ 
sation; and that at least is sign of a lesion somewhere 
in the faculty of self-control. She divided her time be¬ 
tween those periods of “thinking” and an intense de¬ 
votion to Percival; and the two phases acted directly 
one upon the other. It was in the midst of loving oc¬ 
cupation with the child, that, perhaps at some look in 
his eyes, perhaps at some note in his voice, abstraction 
would suddenly strike down upon her; it was from the 
very depth of such abstraction that she would suddenly 


start awake and go to find Percival or, he being near 
her, would take him almost violently into her arms. 


In characteristic keeping with this habit, her action 
when now he ran to her and drew her from the roadway 
with his cry, “There’s a cart coming! A cart, Aunt 
Maggie!” Her grey, gentle face and her sad eyes ir¬ 
radiated with a sudden colour and sudden light that 
advertised the affection with which, standing behind him 
to let the cart pass, she stooped down to him and kissed 
his glowing cheek — “Would I have been run over, do 
you think ?” 

Percival was eagerly awaiting the excitement of see¬ 
ing the cart come into view around the bend whence it 
sounded. But he stretched up his hands to fondle her 
face. “Well, I believe you would, you know,” he de¬ 
clared. “Of course they’d have shouted, but suppose 
the horse was bobbery and wouldn’t stop ?” 

Aunt Maggie feigned alarm at this dreadful possibil¬ 
ity. “Oh, but you’re all right with me,” Percival re¬ 
assured her. He had a quaint habit of using phrases 
of hers. “I keep an eye on you, you know, even when 
I’m far behind.” 

She laughed and looked at him proudly; and she had 
reason for her pride. At seven — rising eight — Perci¬ 
val had fairly won through the vicissitudes of a mother¬ 
less infancy. He had come through a lusty babyhood 
and was sprung into an alert and beautiful childhood, 
dowered of his father’s strong loins, of his mother’s 
gentle fairness, that caused heads to turn after him as 
he raced about the village street. 

Heads turned from the cart that now approached 



and passed. It proved to be a wagonette. Two women 
and a man sat among the many packages behind. On 
the box-seat, next the driver, was a lanky youth, pecul¬ 
iarly white and unhealthy of visage. Percival stared at 
him. In envy perhaps of the sturdy and glowing health 
of the starer, the lanky youth scowled back, and lower¬ 
ing his jaw pulled a grimace with an ease and repulsive¬ 
ness that argued some practice. Turning in his seat, he 
allowed Percival to appreciate the distortion to the full. 

This was that same Egbert Hunt, whose power of 
grimace opened, as it continues, our history. 

Percival directed an interested face to Aunt Maggie. 
“Is that a clown sitting up there?” he asked her. He 
had accompanied Aunt Maggie into Great Letham on 
the previous day, and had been much engaged by the 
chalked countenance of a clown, grinning from posters 
of a coming circus. 

Aunt Maggie answered him with her thoughts: “I 
think they must be going to the Manor, dear. I expect 
they are Lord Burdon’s servants.” 

“Well, I’m sure he was a clown,” Percival answered. 
But a few paces farther up the road, stepping into it 
from a footpath over the fields, a little old gentleman was 
met, whom Aunt Maggie greeted as Mr. Amber, and 
who verified her opinion. 

“The family is coming down the day after to-morrow,” 
Mr. Amber said, “as I was telling you last week. Ser¬ 
vants are to arrive to-day. I think I saw them in the 
wagonette as I came down the path. And how are you, 
Master Percival ? I hope you are very well.” 

Percival put his small hand into the extended palm. 
“I’m very well, Mr. Amber, thank you. One of them 
was a clown, you know. He made a face at me — like 


“God bless my soul, did he indeed?” Mr. Amber 

“Yes, he did,” said Percival. “Just make it back 
again to me, will you please, so I can see if I showed 
you properly ? ” 

But Mr. Amber declined the experiment. “The wind 
might change while I was doing it,” he said, “and then 
I should be like that always.” 

“Oh, I shouldn’t mind,” Percival declared. 

“But I should,” said Mr. Amber, and poked Percival 
with his stick. 

They were very close friends, Percival and this bent 
old librarian, permanently located at Burdon Old Manor 
in those days and a constant visitor at “Post Offic” 
for the purpose of enjoying the affection displayed in 
his silvery old face as it watched the glowing young coun¬ 
tenance upturned to it. “But I should,” said he; “and 
what would they think of me in there ?” 

Percival turned about. They had reached the boundary 
of the Manor grounds and he pointed through the trees. 
“Is that where you live, Mr. Amber?” 

“Yes, I live in there. Look here, now, here’s a nice 
thing ! You’re growing up nearly as big as me and 
you’ve never been to see me. That’s not friendly, you 

“Oh, but I’ve wanted to, you know,” Percival cried. 
“We don’t often come this way, you see, do we, Aunt 
Maggie ?” 

He bounded across the road to squint through the 
wooden paling that surrounds the Manor park, and Mr. 
Amber gave a little sigh and turned to Aunt Maggie. 

“How Percival grows, Miss Oxford ! And what a 
picture, what a picture ! You know, he recalls to me 
walking these lanes twenty years ago, with just his count- 



erpart in looks and spirits and charm — ah, well! dear 
me, dear me!” And he began to mumble to himself 
in the fashion of old people whose thoughts run more 
easily in the past than in the present, and to walk around 
poking with his stick in a fashion that was his own. 

He referred to Roly, Aunt Maggie knew. “You 
never forget him, do you?” she said gently. She also 
was devoted to a memory. “You never forget him ? ” 

“No — no,” said Mr. Amber, poking around and not 
looking at her. “Certainly not — certainly not.” 

Percival’s voice broke in upon them, announcing his 
observations through the fence. “I say, you’ve got a 
lovely garden to play in, you know,” he called. 

They turned from thoughts that had a common ele¬ 
ment to the bright young spirit in whom those thoughts 
found a not dissimilar relief. 

“Well, it’s not exactly my garden,” Mr. Amber re¬ 
plied in his deliberate way. “I live there just like 
Honor lives with you. She looks after the cooking and 
I look after the books, eh ? Would you like to see my 

“Picture books?” 

“Why, yes, some have got pictures. Yes, there are 
pictures in some. And fine big rooms, Percival. You 
would like to see them.” 

Percival turned an excited face to Aunt Maggie, and 
Aunt Maggie smiled. He took Mr. Amber’s hand. 
“Thank you very much indeed,” he said. “ I tell you 
what, then. I will see your books and then I think you 
will let me play in your garden, please, if you please?” 

Mr. Amber declared that this was a very fair bargain. 
“Come in and have some tea, Miss Oxford. Mrs. Fer¬ 
ris will be glad to see you. She finds housekeeping very 
dull work, I am afraid, with only me to look after.” 


Aunt Maggie did not reply immediately. Percival 
looked at her anxiously. He observed signs of “ think¬ 
ing, ” and thinking might be fatal to this most engaging 
proposition. “If you possibly could, Aunt Maggie!” 
he pleaded. 

But it was Mr. Amber’s further argument that per¬ 
suaded her. His words acutely entered the matter 
with which she was occupied. “You know, Percival 
must be the only soul in the countryside that hasn’t seen 
the Manor,” he urged. “It was the regular custom for 
any one who liked to come up in the old days. You 
recollect the Tenant Teas in the summer? Why, it’s 
his right, I declare.” 

A little colour showed on her cheeks. “Yes, it is his 
right,” she said. 


Percival was to enjoy another right before the day was 
out. The decision to accept Mr. Amber’s invitation 
once made, he had whooped ahead through the Manor 
gates and flashed up the long drive at play with a game 
of his own among the flanking trees. A noble turn in 
the avenue brought him within astonished gaze of the 
house, and, very flushed in the cheeks, he came racing 
back to his elders. 

“I say, it’s a perfectly ’normous house you live in, 
Mr. Amber.” 

“Aha!” cries old Mr. Amber, highly pleased. “I 
knew you would like it, Master Percival!” 

“Why, I call it a castle /” Percival declares. 

They turn the corner and Mr. Amber points with his 
stick. “Well, you’re not quite wrong, either. That 
part — the East Wing we call that — you see how old 



that is? Almost a castle once, that. See those funny 
little marks ? Used to be holes there to fire guns through. 
What do you think of that?” 

Percival’s face proclaims what he thinks — and his 
voice, deep with awe, says, “Fire them bang?” 

“Bang? I should think so, indeed !” 

“Who at?” 

“Aha ! Strange little boys, perhaps. I’ll tell you 
all about it, if you’ll come and see me sometimes.” 

Percival announces that he will come every single day, 
and runs eagerly up the five broad steps that lead to the 
great oak door, now standing ajar, and halts wonderingly 
upon the threshold to gaze around the spacious hall and 
up at the gallery that encircles it. 

Aunt Maggie stops so abruptly and gives so strange a 
catch at her breath that Mr. Amber turns to look at her. 
Following her eyes, and reading what he fancies in them, 
“Why, he does make a brave little picture, standing 
there, doesn’t he?” Mr. Amber says. 

Her faint smile seems to assent. But she sees the 
child, framed in the fine doorway, as his father’s son sur¬ 
veying for the first time the domain that is his own. 

They join him on the threshold and he turns to them 
round-eyed. “Why, it’s simply ’normous !” he declares. 
“Aunt Maggie, come and look with me. It’s simply 

“'Told you so!” cries Mr. Amber, vastly delighted. 
“Fine big rooms, I said, didn’t I, now?” 

“’Normous!” Percival breathes. “Per-feck-ly ’nor¬ 
mous to me, you knowand after a huge sigh of wonder, 
pointing to the gallery, “What’s that funny little bridge 
up there for ?” 

“Bridge!” says Mr. Amber almost indignantly. 
“Gallery, we call that. Goes right around the hall, 


see ? Except this end. Bridge! Bless my soul, 
bridge !” For the moment he is really almost put out 
at this slight done to a celebrated feature of the Manor, 
his concern betraying the profound devotion to the house, 
the sense of his own incorporation with it, that always 
characterises him when beneath its roof. That devo¬ 
tion and that sense have deepened greatly during these 
years in which the new Burdons have neglected the 
Manor and he, living in the past, has grown to feel him¬ 
self the custodian of the memories as he is the author of 
the “Lives” of the house of Burdon. He has a trick, 
indeed, as Percival comes to know, of speaking of “we” 
when he talks of himself in connection with the Manor. 
He uses it now. “We are very proud of that gallery, 
I can tell you. Do you know we’ve had — well, well, 
never mind about that now. Come along, I’ll take you 
all over and up there, too. Come along, Miss Oxford. 
We’ll find Mrs. Ferris first.” 

Mr. Amber takes Percival’s hand and starts up the 
hall; and then pulls him up short again, but with an 
exaggerated concern this time. “But here, I say, young 
man, what’s this ? Cap on! Good gracious, you 
can’t wear your cap here, you know !” 

Percival goes almost as red as the jolly red fisher cap 
he wears, and pulls it off, much abashed. He explains 
his breach of manners. “I always do take it off in a 
house. But this doesn’t feel like a house to me, you 
know; it’s simply ’normous !” 

“Ah, but that’s a strict rule of ours here. No one 
but a Burdon may be capped in the hall; a tradition we 
call it. There was a — a wicked man came here hun¬ 
dreds of years ago and kept on his hat and they didn’t 
see his face properly and thought he was a good man; 
and the Lord Burdon that was then came to speak to 



him, and the wicked man took out his dagger and killed 
Lord Burdon. What do you think of that ?” 

Percival seeks the proper touch. He asks: “With 
blug ? ” 

“Blug — blood !” Mr. Amber exclaims testily, a trifle 
injured that his legends adapted to the use of children 
should lack conviction. “Why, bless my soul, of course 
there wasBlug—blood. Blug—dear me—blood !” and 
he puts so fierce an eye round where they stand, as if ex¬ 
pecting a stain to ooze through the floor and corroborate 
him, that Percival draws back in haste lest he should be 
standing in the pool. 

That makes Mr. Amber laugh and he pats Percival’s 
golden head and concludes. “So ever since then, you 
see, we never let any but a Burdon wear his hat in the 
hall here. It would be a sign of coming disaster to the 
house, the tradition says.” 

He turns to Aunt Maggie. “My lady was very par¬ 
ticular about it,” he says. “She made a great point of 
observing all the traditions.” 

Jane Lady Burdon, though she has been dead these 
four years, is always “my lady” to Mr. Amber, as Roly 
remains to him “my lord” or “my young lord.” Aunt 
Maggie, standing a little aside, looking at Percival, re¬ 
plies in her quiet voice: “I know —I remember. They 
are not so foolish — traditions — as some people think, 
Mr. Amber.” 

He nods his head in very weighty agreement, then 
turns again to Percival who, gazing round, discovers a 
new amazement. “But two fireplaces !” Percival cries. 

“Big as a small room, too, aren’t they?” says Mr. 
Amber, important and gratified again. “Now, look at 
that! There’s another story for you !” He leads Perci¬ 
val to one vast hearth, high over which the Burdon arms 


are carved in oak. “See those letters around there? 
That’s our motto. That’s the Burdon motto : ‘I hold! 5 
That was the message a Burdon sent to the king’s troops 
when Cromwell’s men — another wicked man, Crom¬ 
well — were trying to get in. ‘I hold !’ he told his mes¬ 
senger to say — just that, ‘ I hold ! ’ and afterwards, when 
Cromwell was dead and another king came back, the 
king changed the Burdon motto to that. ‘ I hold ! ’ 
Fine? Eh?” 

“I hold !” breathes Percival, mightily impressed. 

“Why, I tell you — I tell you,” cries Mr. Amber, 
“there’s a story in every inch of this house. Better 
stories than all your picture books. I’ll just tell Mrs. 
Ferris about tea and then we’ll go round. I know all 
the stories; no one knows them like I do.” And he tod¬ 
dles off to Mrs. Ferris, absorbed in his lore and congrat¬ 
ulating himself upon it, and Aunt Maggie and Percival 
are left alone. 

It is then that Percival enjoys his second right of that 

Aunt Maggie calls him to her. “Put on your cap 
again a minute, Percival — just for a minute.” 

“Oh, but I mustn’t, Aunt Maggie.” 

She takes the cap from his hand and holds it above his 
clustering curls. 

He protests. “Mr. Amber said so, you know.” 

“What did he say, dear?” 

“Only Burdons, Aunt Maggie.” 

She placed the cap on his head and took his face be¬ 
tween her hands and kissed him. She looked up, and 
all about the hall, and high to where, around the gallery, 
portraits of bygone Burdons looked steadily down upon 
her; and her lips moved as if she spoke some message that 
she signalled with her eyes. 



“ Whoever are you talking to, Aunt Maggie ?” 

She put her hands on his shoulders as he stood sturdily 
there, the jolly red fisher cap on the back of his head, a 
puzzled expression in his face, and she held him a pace 
from her. “ Say the motto, Percival, dear — the Burdon 
motto. Do you remember it? Say it while you have 
your cap on — out loud !” 

“Is it a game, Aunt Maggie?” 

“Say it quickly, dear — out loud !” 

“I hold !” says Percival, clear and sharp. 

In the gallery behind him there was a sound of move¬ 
ment. He turned quickly and saw a man’s figure step 
hastily away. 

“Some one was watching us, Aunt Maggie.” 

But Aunt Maggie was gone into her “thinking.” 


There followed for Percival the most delightful two 
hours. There was first a prodigal tea in the house¬ 
keeper’s room, where motherly Mrs. Ferris set him to 
work on scones and cream and strawberry jam, and 
where, as the meal progressed, he gladly gave himself 
over to Mr. Amber’s entrancing stories of Burdon lore, 
while Aunt Maggie and Mrs. Ferris gossiped together. 

Mrs. Ferris confirmed the arrival of servants in ad¬ 
vance of Lord and Lady Burdon and gave some details 
of the visit. Fler ladyship had written to say they ex¬ 
pected to stay about a month. They came for the pur¬ 
pose of seeing if the fine air, for a holiday of that length, 
would pick up Rollo. “An ailing child,” said Mrs. 
Ferris. “Just the opposite of that young gentleman, 
from all accounts,” and she nodded towards the young 
gentleirian, who beamed back at her as cheerfully as a 


prodigiously distended mouth would permit. “A lazy- 
looking lot,” Mrs. Ferris thought the servants were, 
and ought to have come earlier, too, for there was work 
to be done getting the house ready, Miss Oxford might 
take her word for it — all the furniture and the pictures 
in dusting sheets — made her quite creepylike to look 
into the rooms sometimes. Not right, she thought it, 
to neglect the Manor like these were doing. She knew 
her place, mind you, but she meant to have a word with 
her ladyship before her ladyship went off again. 

But the rooms had no creeps for Percival when at 
last the tea was done, the jam wiped off, and the promised 
tour of inspection started. He put a sticky hand con¬ 
fidingly into Mr. Amber’s palm and breathed “ ’Nor- 
mous ! Simply ’normous to me, you know,” as each 
apartment was discovered to him; and stood absorbed, 
the most gratifying of listeners, while Mr. Amber, com¬ 
fortably astride his hobby, poured forth the stories and 
the legends that had gone into his cherished 4 ‘Lives” 
and that he had by heart and could tell with an air which 
called up the actors out of their frames and out of the 
very walls to play their parts before the child. Yet 
once or twice he stopped in the midst of a recital and 
stood frowning as though something puzzled him, and 
once for so long that Percival asked : “Are you thinking 
of something else, Mr. Amber?” 

“Eh?” said Mr. Amber. “Thinking? I’m afraid 
I was. Let me see, where was I ? ” But he turned 
away, leaving the story unfinished; and as they walked 
from the room Percival said politely: “I don’t mind if 
you were, you know. I only asked. Aunt Maggie does 
it and I just run away and play.” 

Mr. Amber pressed his old fingers closer about the 
young hand they held. “Don’t run away when I do 



it,” he said. “Just wake me up. It keeps coming 
over me that I’ve done all this before — held a little 
boy’s hand and told him all this just like I hold yours 
and tell you. Well, that’s a very funny feeling, you 

“ ’Strordinary !” Percival agreed in his interested way; 
and Mr. Amber was caused to laugh and to forget the 
stirring in his mind of recollections buried there twenty 
years down. Twenty years is deep water. It was to 
be more disturbed, causing much frowning, much “funny 
feeling,” before ever it should clear and show the old 
librarian, looking into the pool of his own mind over 
Percival’s shoulder, Percival’s reflection cast up from the 

The tour finished in the library. “Now this is the 
library !” announced Mr. Amber at the threshold, much 
as St. Peter, coming with a new spirit to the last gate, 
might say: “Now this is Paradise.” 

“Now this is the library. This is my room. Now, 
we’ll just wipe our feet once again — sideways, too — 
that’s right. And I think our fingers are still a little 
sticky, eh ? that’s better — there!” 

“ ’Normous !” breathed Percival. “Simply ’normous, 
to me, you know.” 

No dust sheets here, everything mellow with the deep 
sheen of age carefully attended. Tier upon tier of books, 
every hue of binding — dark red to brown, brown to 
deep blue, deep blue to white — and all, however worn, 
however aged, exquisitely responsive to Mr. Amber’s 
soft chamois leather. 

Mr. Amber waved a proud hand at them. “I ex¬ 
pect you’ll live a long time before you see another col¬ 
lection like this, Master Percival. And I know every one 
of them — every single one just like you know your toys. 


In the pitch dark — in the pitch dark, mind you — I 
could put my hand on any one I wanted without touch¬ 
ing another. What do you think of that, eh ?” 

Percival has no better thought for it than the old one. 
“’Normous!” he declares. “Simply ’normous to me, 
you know, Mr. Amber ! ” 

“And the care I take of them !” Mr. Amber continues, 
as pleased with his audience as if Percival were the li¬ 
brarians of the House of Lords, the Bodleian and the 
British Museum rolled into one. “You wouldn’t find 
enough dust on those books, anywhere , to cover the head 
of a pin ! ” He points to the highest and furthest shelves: 
“You’d think there might be dust right up there, 
wouldn’t you? Well, you just choose one of those 
books — any one, anywhere you like.” 

“To keep for my own?” 

“Keep! Bless my soul, no! Keep! Dear me! 
dear me ! No, just point to a book.” 

‘ ‘ That one ! ’ ’ says Percival, stretching an arm. ‘‘ That 

one in the corner !” 

Mr. Amber accepts the challenge with a triumphant 
rubbing together of his hands. “That brown one, eh? 
Very well. That’s a rare volume — Black Letter — 
Latimer’s ‘Fruitfull Sermons’ — London, 1584. Now, 
you see.” He trots excitedly to a high, wheeled ladder, 
runs it beneath the “Fruitfull Sermons,” climbs up 
shakily, fetches down the volume and presents it for Perci- 
val’s inspection: “There! Run your finger over the 
top of it; that’s where dust collects. Ah, not that fin¬ 
ger; got a cleaner one? That’ll do. Now!” 

It is getting dusk in the library, so Mr. Amber clutches 
the small finger that has rubbed over the “Fruitfull 
Sermons,” and they go to a deep window where young 
head and old peer anxiously at the pink skin. 

i3 2 


“Not a speck!” Mr. Amber cries triumphantly. 
“Not a speck of dust! What did I tell you?” 

And Percival, holding the finger carefully apart from 
its fellows : “ ’Strordinary ! Simply ’strordinary to me, 
you know !” 

Mr. Amber climbs laboriously up the steps again, 
and seats himself at the top, and starts dusting all around 
the “Fruitfull Sermons,” and completely forgets Perci¬ 
val, who wanders about for a little and then, hearing a 
sound, goes to the door. 


Here was the white-faced youth, our Egbert Hunt, 
who had grimaced at him from the box of the wagonette. 
The white-faced youth stood on the further side of the 
passage, paused beneath a window by whose light he 
seemed to be examining a small phial held in his hand. 

Percival ran forward: “Hallo! Are you a clown, 
please ?” 

The white-faced youth bit a pale lip and stared re¬ 
sentfully : “Do you live here?” 

“No, I don’t,” Percival told him. “I’ve been having 
tea with Mrs. Ferris.” 

The white-faced youth developed the sudden heat 
characteristic of Egbert Hunt in the Miller’s Field days. 
“Well, don’t you call me no names, then,” said Egbert 
Hunt fiercely. 

“I’m not,” Percival protested. “You made a face 
at me when you were driving in the road, and I thought 
you were a clown, you see.” 

Egbert Hunt breathed hotly through his nose. “Sauc¬ 
ing me, ain’t you?” he demanded. 

Percival had heard the expression in the village. “ Oh, 


no,” he said in his earnest way. “I thought you had a 
funny face, that was all.” 

His engaging tone and air mollified the sour Egbert. 
“I’ve got a sick yedache,” said Egbert. “That’s what 
I’ve got — crool!” 

Percival looked sorry and sought to give comfort with 
a phrase of Aunt Maggie. “It will soon go,” he said 

“Not mine,” Egbert declared. “Not my sort won’t. 
I’m a living martyr to ’em. Fac’.” He nodded with 
impressive gloom and took three tabloids from the phial 
he held in his hand. “Vegules,” he explained; and 
swallowed them with a very loud gulping sound. 

“What are you, please?” Percival inquired, vastly 

“Slave,” said Egbert briefly. 

“But you’re not black,” argued Percival, recalling 
the picture of a chained negro on a missionary almanac 
in Honor’s kitchen. 

“Thenk Gord, no!” said Egbert piously. “White 
slaves are worse,” he added. 

“And were those slaves in the carriage with you ?” 

“Tyrangs,” said Egbert Hunt. “Tyrangs and sicko- 
pants of tyrangs.” 

Percival started a question; then, as a sound came: 
“That’s my Aunt Maggie calling me. Good-by! I 
hope your poor head will soon be better.” 

Egbert smiled the wan smile of one not to be deluded 
into hope: “You’ve been kind to me,” he said. “I 
like you. You ain’t like all the rest. What’s your 

“Percival. I really must go now, if you please. My 
Aunt Maggie —” 

He started to run in the direction of Aunt Maggie’s 



voice; but Egbert recalled him with a very mysterious 
and compelling “H’st!” and wag of the head. 

“ Was that your Aunt Maggie in the hall with you just 
now?” Egbert inquired. 

A sudden recollection came to Percival. “You mean 
before tea ? Was that you ? ” 

“What she make you put your cap on for, and say ‘I 
hold’? That was a funny bit, that was.” 

“Why, I don’t know,” said Percival. “Was that 
you up on the bridge?” 

Egbert did not answer the question. “You ask her,” 
he said, “an’ tell me. Odd bit, that was.” 

“Yes, I will,” Percival agreed. “I say, I must go. 
What’s your name, if you please?” 

“Mr. Unt. Run along; you’re a nice little chap; I 
like you.” 

“I like you, too,” said Percival, very interested in 
this strange character. “ I’m sorry I thought you were a 
clown. Good-by, Mr. Unt. I say, there is my Aunt 
Maggie ! Isn’t this a ’normous house?” and he scam¬ 
pered brightly to the sound of Aunt Maggie’s voice. 

“Abode of tyrangs,” said Mr. Hunt, moving swiftly 
in the opposite direction. “Boil um !” 




The acquaintance with slave Egbert was very shortly 
renewed. The afternoon of the Friday that was to see 
the arrival of the Burdons at the Old Manor brought 
also a threshing-engine up the village street — a snort¬ 
ing and enormous thing that fetched Percival rushing 
to the gate and drew him after it and kept him in 
charmed attendance until “Post Offic” was half a mile 
behind. Here the engine stopped, and the men who ac¬ 
companied it setting themselves to a deliberate meal, 
Percival turned himself into a horse that had escaped 
from its stable and was recaptured and began to trot 
himself home. 

He was in the lane that strikes out of the highroad 
towards Burdon Old Manor when his quick eye caught 
sight of a frog in the grass-grown hedge-side and 
“Whoa!” cried Percival and changed from escaped 
horse to ardent frog-hunter. The sturdiest frog, it 
proved to be, a big, solid fellow and wonderfully nimble 
at great jumps when Percival was found to be in pursuit. 
He pressed it hotly; it bounded amain. He laughed 
and followed — it was here — it was there —it was lost 
— it was found — it was gone again. He grew stub¬ 
born and vexed in the chase. A frown stood on his moist 
brow. He began to breathe hotly. The frog perceived 




the change. It lost its wits. It dashed from cover, 
made with wild bounds across the road, was closely 
followed, and lived to tell the frightful tale by inter¬ 
vention of a shout before it, a stumble behind it, and the 
barest pulling up of the Manor wagonette within a yard 
of fallen Percival. 

Lord Burdon jumped out and lifted Percival in his 
arms before the frog-hunter was well aware of what had 
happened. “Not hurt, eh? That’s all right! You 
young rascal, you—you might have been killed. Haven’t 
you got ears? What are those great flappers for, 
eh?” and Lord Burdon tweaked a flapper and laughed 
jovially. “What were you doing, eh ?” 

“I was chasing a frog,” said Percival, rubbing his 
ear and using his elevation on Lord Burdon’s arms to 
have a stare at the little boy and the pretty lady in the 

“A frog! Why here’s a frog for you. Come and 
look at my frog in the cart here.” 

Lord Burdon carried him to the body of the wagonette. 
“Here’s my frog! tadpole, rather. Rollo, look here. 
You’re only a little tadpole, aren’t you? Look what 
this fine air is going to do for you. Look at this great 
lump of a fellow. That’s what you’ve got to be like ! ” 

The little tadpole smiled shyly. Tadpole was an ex¬ 
cusable description. Rollo Letham at nearly ten might 
have passed for younger than Percival at rising eight. 
He was very thin, pale, fragile; his head looked too big 
for his delicate frame; his eyes were big and shy, his 
mouth nervous. 

“A shame!” said Lady Burdon, smiling. “You’re 
not a tadpole, are you, Rollo? But this is a splendid 
young man !” And she stretched a kind hand — nicely 
gloved — across the cart to Percival. 


Lord Burdon raised him to meet it. Bare knees, well- 
streaked with mud and blood, came into view. 

“Oh, your poor little knees !” Lady Burdon cried. 

Percival caught Rollo’s eye fixed in some horror on 
the wounds. “I cut them every day!” he said bigly, 
and shot a proud glance at the tadpole. 

“Well, they’re terrible. They must be washed. 
Bring him in, Maurice. We’ll wash him, as we’ve 
nearly killed him, at the house.” 

“Yes, do! Yes, please do!” Rollo whispered, and 
his mother patted his hand, pleased at the animation of 
the thin little face. 

Lord Burdon hesitated: “Take him to the Manor? 
Why, that may be miles from his home, you know.” 

“I suppose we can send him back in the trap, can’t 
we?” Lady Burdon said, a trifle disagreeably. “You’re 
a regular old woman, Maurice. Lift him in next to 
Rollo. You can see how Rollo takes to him, I should 
have thought.” 

“Didn’t want to be had up for kidnapping, you know,” 
Lord Burdon responded cheerfully. “Would be a bad 
start in the local opinion — eh ? ” And he laughed with 
the appeal and the apology with which he always met 
his wife’s waves of impatience. “Shove up, Rollo ! In 
you get, frog-hunter ! Heavens ! What a lump. All 
right. Drive on!” 

“Gee up!” cried Percival, highly entertained, and 
chatted frankly with Lady Burdon as the wagonette 
bowled along. To her questions he was nearly eight, 
he told her; he would have another birthday in a short 
time; Honor gave him a sword at his last birthday and 
his Aunt Maggie gave him a trumpet. “You may blow 
my trumpet, if you like,” turning to Rollo. “Honor 
says it is poison to blow it because I’ve broken the little 



white thing what you blow through. But I blow it all 

Rollo flushed and smiled and put a thin little hand 
from beneath the rug and took PercivaPs muddy fist 
and held it for the remainder of the journey. Boy friends 
who did not laugh at him were new to him. 

“Miss Oxford’s little boy,” Percival explained to 
further questions. “I five at the post-office, and we’ve 
got a drawer full of stamps with funny little holes what 
you tear off.” 

Lady Burdon turned to her husband: “Ah, I know 
now. You remember? You remember the vicar tell¬ 
ing us about Miss Oxford when we first came down here ? 
Well, she’s to be congratulated on her nephew. I’m 
glad. He’ll be the jolliest little companion for Rollo.” 

Lord Burdon remembered. “Yes — this will be her 
sister’s child. Orphan, poor little beggar.” 

And Lady Burdon: “We’ll be able to have him up 
with Rollo as much as we like, I’ve no doubt. Look 
how happy they are together,” and she smiled at them, 
chatting eagerly. 

Percival was twisting and bending the better to see 
the occupants of the box-seat. A form that seemed 
familiar sat beside the driver. “Why, that’s Mr. Unt!” 
Percival cried brightly, and as the familiar form turned 
at the sound of its name, “How’s your poor headache, 
Mr. Unt?” he asked. “Much better now, isn’t it?” 

Mr. Unt’s pallid face became slightly tinged with em¬ 
barrassment. “The young gentleman spoke to me at 
the Manor Wednesday, me lady,” he apologised. “Had 
come up to take tea with Mr. Hamber.” He profited 
by the touch of his hat with which he spoke to draw his 
hand across his forehead; a sick yedache clearly wa^ 
still torturing there. 


“His headaches are terrible,” Percival explained. 
“I thought he was a clown, you know. I saw him driv¬ 
ing in this carriage with tyrangs.” 

Egbert’s back shivered. “Parding, me lady,” said 
he, turning again. 

Lady Burdon laughed. “Hunt,” she told Percival. 
“Not Unt. He speaks badly.” 

“You know, his headaches—” Percival began; and 
she added more severely: “He is a servant.” 

“He’s my servant,” Rollo said. “Hunt looks after 
me when I go out. I hate nurses, so I have him. He’ll 
be yours too, if you’ll come and play with me. Both of 
ours. May he, mother?” 

“You can tell Miss Oxford that some one will always 
be there to keep an eye on you if she will let you come 
and play,” Lady Burdon replied to Percival. 

“So now he is yours and mine,” cried Rollo, squeezing 
the hand he held. 

“Thank you very much,” Percival said. “Of course, 
if his headache is very bad we won’t have him, because 
he will like to lie down.” 

He spoke clearly; and a tiny little tremble of Egbert’s 
back seemed to advertise again the gratitude that sym¬ 
pathy aroused in him. 

“Oh, that’s nothing,” Rollo declared. “He pretends.” 

The poor back drooped. “Tyrangs,” Egbert mur¬ 
mured and furtively edged a vegule to his mouth. 


In the dusk of that evening Percival went bounding 
home, immensely pleased with his new friends and with 
the new delights in life they had discovered for him. He 
had nice clean knees and a bandage on each — a matter 



that caused him considerable pride. He had gladly 
promised to come to see Rollo again on the morrow, 
and he would have stayed much longer into the evening 
had not Lord Burdon (as Lady Burdon said) “ begun 
to fidget” and to persist that Miss Oxford must be getting 
nervous at this long absence. 

“His aunt will naturally be glad when she knows where 
he has been,” Lady Burdon had exclaimed. 

Lord Burdon gave the smile that she knew came before 
one of his annoying rejoinders. “That won’t make her 
wild with joy while she doesn’t know where he is, old 

She was irritable. The vexation of having to leave 
London, which she enjoyed, for Burdon which she felt 
she would hate, was settling upon her. She looked at 
him resentfully. “That is funny, I suppose?” she in¬ 
quired. “You are always very funny, aren’t you?” 
and she gave orders for Hunt to take Percival home. 

Down the road Percival chattered brightly to Egbert, 
holding his hand. “I jump like this,” he explained, 
capering along, “because I pretend I’m a horse. Then 
if you want me to walk quietly you only have to say 
‘whoa!’ you see.” 

“Whoa!” said Egbert very promptly. 

Percival’s legs itched to jump out the animation that 
events had bottled into him. “Did you say ‘gee up’ ?” 
he presently inquired. 

“No,” said Egbert. 

“Oh,” said Percival, and with a little sigh repeated 

Egbert felt the appeal. “Fac’ of it is, that jumping 
jerks me up.” 

“Got another sick headache, have you?” 

“Crool,” said the living martyr to ’em. 


Percival took another phrase of Aunt Maggie: “You 
must be thor’ly out of sorts, I think.” 

“Got one foot in the grave, that’s what I’ve got,” 
Egbert agreed. “Fac’.” 

Percival peered down at Egbert’s legs. “Which one, 
please ? ” he inquired. 

“Figger o’ speech,” Egbert told him, and explained: 
“Way of saying things.” He added: “Go off in the 
night one of these days, I shall;” and commented with 
gloomy satisfaction: “Then they’ll be sorry.” 

Percival asked: “Who will?” He visioned Egbert 
running by night with one foot embedded in a tombstone, 
and he was considerably attracted by the picture. “Who 
will ? ” he repeated. 

“Tyrangs 1 ” said Egbert. “Too late to be sorry then. 

“Well, I should be drefffy sorry,” Percival assured 

“Believe you,” said Egbert, “and many thanks for 
the same. First that’s ever said a kine word to me, you 
are; and I’ll be grateful —if I’m spared.” 

He looked at his watch and then down the lane. 
“Think you could get home safe from here? Fac’ is 
I’m behind with my vegules and left them in my other 

“Oh, yes,” Percival agreed. “This is just by the cor¬ 
ner, you know.” 

“Well, then,” said Egbert, halting, “you see, if I 
don’t take ’em fair, can’t expec’ them to treat me fair, 
can I?” 

Percival assented : “Oh, no.” 

“ Sure you’ll be all right ? ” 

“Oh, yes. I’ll be a horse, you see. Just say 'gee 
up!’ will you?” 



“Gee up !” said Egbert. 

“Stead-ey!” cried Percival, prancing. “Stead-ey! 
Goodnight!” and bounded off. 

“Nice little f’ler,” commented Egbert; and hurried 
back to the vegules. 

Where the lane turned to the village, horse Percival 
was made, as he declared, to shy dreff’ly. He galloped 
almost into the arms of two figures that stepped suddenly 
out of the dusk. “Oh, Percival!” Aunt Maggie cried 
and kissed him. “Oh, Percival, where have you been?” 

“Say‘whoa!’” cried Percival. “Say ‘whoa!’Aunt 
Maggie. I’m a horse — a white one, you know.” 

Two heavy hands pressed the white horse’s shoulders, 
stilling its plunges. “You’re a bad little boy, that’s 
what you are,” Honor exclaimed, “running off and 
frightening your Auntie, and not caring nor minding. 
Don’t Care comes before a fall, as I’ve told you many 
times and —” 

“Pride comes before a fall,” corrected Percival. 
“You’ve got it wrong again , Honor,” and Honor’s flow 
was checked with the suddenness that had become the 
established termination of attempts to reprove Percival 
since he had learnt the right phrasing of her store of 
confused maxims. 

She took his hand while she pondered doubtfully upon 
the correction, and with Aunt Maggie holding the other, 
he skipped along, bubbling over with his adventures. 
“I’ve got bandages on both my legs, Aunt Maggie — oh, 
and Hunt has got one of his legs in the grave, just fancy 
that! I’ve been having tea with Rollo; and Lady Bur- 
don put on these bandages and she wants me to go and 
play with Rollo every day. Do let me, Aunt Maggie. 
I say, you are squeezing my hand most dreffly, you 


Aunt Maggie relaxed the sudden contraction of her 
fingers. “Lady Burdon — yes? — tell from the very 
beginning, Percival dear.” 

“Well, she said ‘Promise to tell your Aunt Maggie 
I will come and ask her to let you be Rollo’s little friend 
and’—Aunt Maggie! You’re hurting /” 

She recollected herself again and patted the small 
fingers. “Tell from the very beginning, dear. How 
did you meet them?” 

“Well, you understand, I was catching a frog—” 

“Post Offic” was reached, supper was swallowed, his 
merry head beginning to droop and nod, while still he 
excitedly recounted all his adventures. He was almost 
asleep when Aunt Maggie undressed him and put him 
to bed. 

She sat a long time beside him, watching him while 
he slept. 




In the morning Lady Burdon came with Rollo to make 
her request that Percival might spend much of his time 
at the Old Manor as Rollo’s playmate. In these seven 
years since the amazement at Miller’s Field, this was 
but her third visit to the estate, her first for the purpose 
of staying any length of time, and the first that had seen 
Rollo with her. Two days had been spent here when 
Jane Lady Burdon had been brought to rest in Burdon 
churchyard; three when Mr. Maxwell, the agent, had 
been troublesome and importunate in the matter of 
expensive alterations on the property. Lady Burdon 
had come down then “to have an understanding with 
him;” as she expressed it—“to see for herself.’’ The re¬ 
sult had been as unfortunate for Mr. Maxwell (to whom 
she had shown some temper) as it had been augmen¬ 
tative of the dislike she had always felt for the property 
and its greedy responsibilities. The result had been to 
filter over the countryside from Mr. Maxwell that she 
was the controlling partner in the new representatives 
of the house; that hers was the refusal to take up the 
urgently needed irrigation scheme; hers the scandal 
(as it became) of neglect to carry out improvements in 
the cottages over at Abbess Roding; hers the crime 
(as it was held) of the selling-up over at Shepwall that 
entailed eviction of tenants old on the land as the house 
of Burdon itself. 



On the other hand the result had been to return Lady 
Burdon to the Mount Street life with at least a tem¬ 
porary stop put to the Maxwell whinings and at least 
a lighter drain from the Mount Street expenses. 

Miss Oxford had not seen her on either of these visits. 
Miss Oxford had only smiled in an odd way when she 
heard of the behaviour that had set the countryside 
clacking. The better Lady Burdon flourished, the more 
Lady Burdon exercised the prerogatives of her usurped 
position, the riper she ripened for the blow, when there 
should be returned to her the son whose mother she 
had murdered; that was the entertainment Miss Oxford 
nursed through these years, living so gently and so 
quietly, “ thinking” so much, poor dear. 

“ Strange-like ? ” “ Silly-like ? ” Or dreadfully sane ? 
For Miss Oxford’s own part, she knew only one thing of 
her mental condition. At very rare intervals there seized 
her a state that was related to and that recalled the tre¬ 
mendous pressure in her brain when she had knelt, con¬ 
sumed with hate and desire for vengeance, by Audrey’s 
death-bed. It took the form of a sudden violent flutter¬ 
ing in her brain, as though a live, winged thing were 
beating there, beating to be free. The pressure that 
came by Audrey’s death-bed had ended in a snap — in 
something giving that left her extraordinarily, tinglingly 
calm, possessed by the plan and certainty of revenge to 
be taken by Audrey’s son — one day. The fluttering, 
the winglike beating ended of its own volition, and out¬ 
side any command she could put upon it— sweeping 
up all her senses in its beating, only leaving to her the 
terror that it would end—in what? Sometimes it 
came in just the tiniest flutter, without cause and gone 
as soon as come, just arresting her and frightening her 
like a swift shoot of pain in a nerve. Sometimes in the 



briefest flutter but with cause; such a case had been 
when Percival told her of his meeting with the Burdons 
and she had caused him to exclaim by clutching his hand. 
Once of much longer duration and of new effect, and with 
revelation to her of the end it threatened. That was 
when, a few days ago, she had stood alone with Percival 
in the great hall of Burdon Old Manor. It was the 
fluttering that had bade her make him put on his cap 
and cry ‘ I hold ! ’ and she had been informed that if it 
did not stop — if it did not stop ! — if it did not stop ! 
she would scream out her secret — run through the house 
and cry to all that Lady Burdon was — 

It had stopped. The beating wings ceased. She was 
returned to her quiet, gentle waiting. 


It always took the same form — the presentation of a 

“ They’re coming ! They’re coming ! ” cried Percival, 
bursting into the parlour with tossing arms, aflame with 
excitement, hopping on lively toes, to announce Lady 
Burdon and Rollo. “They’re coming, Aunt Maggie!” 
and he was away to greet them at the gate. 

Aunt Maggie was at the table where post-office busi¬ 
ness was conducted. The open door gave directly on to 
the garden path; and she heard voices and then a step 
on the threshold and bent over the papers before her; 
and then a pleasant tone that said “Good morning, I am 
Lady Burdon,” and immediately the beating wings, wild, 
savage, whirling, and she transported from where she 
sat to watch herself in the picture that the fluttering 
always brought. 

Immense beating of the wings, the sound drumming 


in her ears; seven years rolled up as a stage-curtain dis¬ 
closes a scene, and she saw the room in the Holloway 
road, herself kneeling there and Audrey’s voice 
and then said ‘ I am Lady Burdon ’ . . . O Maggie ! 
O Maggie ! . . . and'I said ‘Oh, how can you be Lady 
Burdon?’ . . . Maggie! Maggie!” The beating wings 
drove up to a pitch they had never before reached. 
Through their tumult — buffeted, as it were, by their 
fury — and from the scene in which she saw herself, she 
looked up and saw Lady Burdon smiling there, and heard 
Lady Burdon’s voice: “Good morning, I am Lady Bur¬ 
don.” Again, as in the great hall with Rollo, if it did 
not stop !—if it did not stop !— if it did not stop ! she 
must cry out: “You are not! You said that to Audrey 
and killed her! Now—” 

And again, and this time when the terrible flutter¬ 
ing had almost beaten itself free and she had formed 
her lips to release it, it suddenly stopped. As at the 
bedside, seven years before, she fell from paroxysm of 
passion to unnatural calm, so now she was returned to 
her normal, quiet self, content to wait, and she said 
quite quietly: “Percival told me to expect you.” 

Lady Burdon advanced pleasantly. “Ah, and I hope 
he also remembered to tell you of my apologies. I 
am afraid we kept him with us much too long last 

She looked around the room with the air of one willing 
to chat and to be entertained, and Miss Oxford, murmur¬ 
ing there was no occasion for apology, advanced a chair 
with : “ Please sit down, if you will. This is very humble, 
I am afraid. It is only the post-office, you know; and 
only a toy post-office at that.” 

She was quite herself again. Through this interview, 
and always thereafter when she met Lady Burdon or 



thought of her, she was invested with the calmness that 
had come to her by the death-bed. She knew quite 
certainly that she had only to wait. She was not at all 
anxious. She knew she could wait. She only feared — 
now for the first time, and increasingly as the attacks 
became more frequent — that an onset of that dreadful 
fluttering might descend upon her and might not go 
before it had driven her to wreck the plan for which she 
waited — Percival, not she, to avenge his mother. 

The fear caused in her a noticeable nervousness of 
manner. Lady Burdon attributed it to natural embar¬ 
rassment at this gracious visit, and that made her more 
gracious yet. Miller’s Field would have perceived in 
Lady Burdon, as she sat talking pleasantly, a consider¬ 
able change from the Mrs. Letham it had known. She 
was very becomingly dressed. She had grown a trifle 
rounder in the figure and fuller in the face since Miller’s 
Field gave her good-by, and that advantaged her. Her 
olive complexion was warmer in shade, healthier in tint¬ 
ing than it had been. The walk from the Manor had 
touched her freshly, and she had been pleased by the 
respectful greetings of the villagers. Rollo, completely 
in love with Percival, was brighter than she had ever 
known him. She had hated the idea of burying herself 
down here for a month; but she was beginning to en¬ 
tertain an agreeable view of taking up her neglected 
position and dignity in this pleasant countryside. She 
was very happy as she faced Miss Oxford : her happiness 
and all that contributed to it made her very comely to 
the eye; and she was aware of that. 

She spoke enthusiastically of Percival. “Such a 
splendid young man. Such charming manners.” She 
spoke most graciously of knowing all about Miss Oxford 
and of how plucky of her it was to take up the post- 


office. She said smilingly that Miss Oxford was not to 
take advantage of the post-office by keeping herself to 
herself as the saying was; and when Miss Oxford re¬ 
plied; “You are kind; we have no society here, of 
course; with the one or two families the post-office 
makes no difference; we are all old friends; with you, 
it is different;” she said very winningly: “Not kind, 
. in any case — selfish. It is Percival I am after. We 
have taken so much to him. He and my Rollo have 
struck up the greatest friendship, and that is such a 
pleasure to me. Rollo as a rule is so shy and reserved 
with children. He has no child friends. It will do him 
a world of good if Percival may play with him. Perci¬ 
val will be the making of him.” 

She smiled in confident and happy belief of her words, 
and Miss Oxford smiled, too. It was not for Ladv 
Burdon to know — yet — that Percival was being 
brought up to be not Rollo’s making but his undoing. 

But Miss Oxford only said that the friendship would 
be capital for Percival also, since Lady Burdon permitted 
it. “There are no boys here in Little Letham that he 
can make close companions,” she said. “We seem short 
of children — except among the villagers. I think Mrs. 
Espart’s little girl at Upabbot over the Ridge is the 

Lady Burdon nodded. “Mrs. Espart — yes, I am 
to go over there. She left cards, thinking we had ar¬ 
rived. Abbey Royal, she lives at, doesn’t she?” 

“Abbey Royal, yes. One of our show places, you 
know. What Percival would call ’normous,” and Miss 
Oxford related the “ ’normous; simply ’normous to 
me, you know,” of Percival’s visit to the Manor. “We 
came to ‘enormous’ when I was reading to him shortly 
afterwards,” she said, “and he exclaimed: ‘I know! 



’Normous, like Mr. Amber’s house! ’ Mr. Amber 
showed him round.” 

“He is the sweetest little fellow,” Lady Burdon 
laughed. “And reading to him — I was going to ask 
you about that — about lessons, I mean. Does he do 
lessons ? Rollo’s education has been terribly neglected, 
I am afraid. I thought it would be so nice if he could 
join his new friend in them while he is here.” 

“Percival goes every morning to Miss Purdie — you 
would have passed her cottage — next to the Church.” 

“Capital,” Lady Burdon said. “I will arrange for 

“She will be delighted. Having Percival has already 
lost her a chance of another pupil. Mrs. Espart was 
going to send her little girl over daily, but didn’t like the 
idea of the post-office little boy.” 

“Ridiculous!” Lady Burdon cried. “I will tell her 
so.” She turned at the sound of much scrambling and 
laughter in the doorway. “Ridiculous! Rollo, you 
are going to do lessons with Percival. Now won’t that 
be jolly, darling?” 

But it was Percival who was first in and came bounding 
to them with: “Aunt Maggie! Aunt Maggie! Rollo 
has got a pony of his own in London and rides it! Well, 
what do you think of that?” 

Aunt Maggie thought it splendid and was introduced to 
Rollo, and “suddenly seemed to lose her tongue,” as Lady 
Burdon told Lord Burdon at lunch. “Hugged Percival 
as though she hadn’t seen him for a year and scarcely 
looked at Rollo. Jealous, I believe, at the difference 
between their stations. Funny, that kind of jealousy, 
don’t you think ?” 

But it was not jealousy that had silenced Aunt Maggie 
and caused her to clutch Percival to her breast. At 


sight of him with Rollo, and of Lady Burdon smiling at 
him, that fluttering had run up in her brain, and she had 
clasped Percival to restrain herself while it lasted. It 
had gone while she held him; but she had almost cried : 
“Do you dare smile at him? He is Audrey’s son! 
Audrey’s son !” 

Percival wriggled from her embrace and she heard Lady 
Burdon say to Rollo: “Well, why not a pony here?” 
and heard her laugh delightedly at the excited roar the 
suggestion shot out of Percival. 

“I wonder if there is anywhere here we could get a 
pony for Rollo ? ” she heard Lady Burdon say, and heard 
the question repeated, and made a great effort to come 
out of the shaken state in which the fluttering had left 

“Over at Market Roding you might get a pony,” she 
said dully. “There is a Mr. Hannaford there. He has 
ponies. He supplies ponies to circuses, I have heard.” 

Lady Burdon kissed Percival good-by at the gate. 
“Lord Burdon shall take you over with Rollo to this 
Mr. Hannaford,” she told him. “That Miss Purdie’s 
cottage? We are going to look in on our way. Run 
back to your Aunt Maggie. She is tired, I think.” 

“Well, she’s thinking, you know,” said Percival. 

Lady Burdon laughed. “Thinking, is she, you funny 
little man ? Of what ? ” 

And Percival, in his earnest way: “Well, I don’t 
know. It ’plexes me, you know.” 




The pony was obtained from Mr. Hannaford and les¬ 
sons were arranged with Miss Purdie. 

It was the happiest party that occupied the wagonette 
on that drive to and from Mr. Hannaford’s farm at 
Market Roding. Lord Burdon, Rollo, Percival — each 
declared it that evening to have been the very jolliest 
time that ever was. 

“Well,we have had a jolly day, haven’t we, old man ?” 
Lord Burdon said to Rollo when he kissed him good night. 
Lord Burdon had worn a shabby old suit and had told the 
boys stories till, as he assured them, his tongue ached; 
and had walked with them about Mr. Hannaford’s farm, 
with Percival prancing on one side and Rollo quietly 
beaming on the other. In London, in the life that Lady 
Burdon directed at Mount Street, such careless, childish 
joys were impossible. Not since the day he had spent 
with Rollo at the Zoological Gardens, when Lady Burdon 
was at Ascot, had he so completely enjoyed himself — 
and not a doubt but that the bursting excitement of young 
Percival was responsible for the far greater joviality of 
this day at Mr. Hannaford’s. 

“Did I tell you about when they came to the ditch 
while we were walking over the farm?” Lord Burdon 
asked Lady Burdon. “That little beggar Percival—” 

Lady Burdon looked at him over the book she was read- 



ing. “Not a sixth time, please , Maurice,” she said. 
“I’m really rather tired of hearing it,” and Lord Burdon 
assumed his foolishly distressed look and for the remain¬ 
der of the evening sat smiling over the jolly day in silence. 

The jolliest day for Rollo ! He had been the quiet one 
of the party because to be retiring was his nature, but 
when Percival shouted and when Percival jumped, 
Rollo’s heart was in the shout and Rollo’s spirit bounded 
with the jump. He had never believed there could be 
such a friend for him or so much new fun in life. Hither¬ 
to his chief companion had been his mother, his constant 
mood a dreamy and shrinking habit of mind. Vigorous 
Percival introduced him to the novelty of “games,” 
showed him what mirth was, and what vigorous young 
limbs could do. The jolliest day ! He fell asleep that 
night thinking of Percival; in his dreams with Percival 
raced and shouted; awakened in the morning with 
Percival for his first thought. 

And of course it was the jolliest day for Percival. “I 
never had such fun, you know,” Percival declared to 
Aunt Maggie. “I rode the pony all alone and Mr. 
Hannaford said I was a Pocket Marvel; so I should like 
to know what you think of that?” 

Mr. Hannaford, indeed, was mightily pleased with 
Percival. Mr. Hannaford was an immensely stout man 
with a tremendously deep voice and with very twinkling 
little eyes set m a superbly red face. He wore brown 
leather gaiters and very tight cord-breeches and a very 
loose tail-coat of tweed, cut very square. From his 
habit of never removing his bowler hat in the house even 
at meals, the common belief was that he slept in it, and 
he punctuated his sentences when he spoke, and marked 
his alternate strides when he walked, by tremendously 
loud cracks of a bamboo cane against a gaitered leg. It 



was his frequent habit when he desired emphasis to bless 
what he termed his “ eighteen stun proper/ 5 and he caused 
Rollo to giggle by his trick of calling a horse “a norse. 55 

Mr. Hannaford received his visitors by raising his hat 
as far from his head as any one had ever seen it, by giving 
three terrific cracks of his cane against his leg, and by 
extending to Rollo and Percival in turn a hand of the 
size of a small shoulder of mutton. 

“Well, you’ve come to the right place for a little 5 orse, 
me lord, bless my eighteen stun proper if you haven’t/ 5 
Mr. Hannaford declared. “And ’ll want a proper little 
’orse for your lordship’s son, moreover,” continued Mr. 
Hannaford, after another tremendous leg-and-cane crack 
and looking admiringly at Percival. 

Percival was quick with the correction. “Oh, I’m not 
his son. I’m only a little boy, you know. I can ride, 
though, because sometimes I pretend I’m a horse all day 
long; so I should like to know what you think of that ? ” 

Mr. Hannaford was hugely delighted, and having 
begged his lordship’s pardon for the mistake, gave it as 
his deliberate opinion that a young gentleman who could 
pretend he was a norse all day long was a Pocket Marvel. 

The Pocket Marvel performed a prance or two in order 
to show that this estimate of him was well merited, and 
they proceeded to the stables, Mr. Hannaford, as they 
walked, making clear, to the tune of astonishing leg-and- 
cane cracks, the reasons why the right place for a little 
’orse had been selected by his lordship. 

“There’s money in little ’orses,” said Mr. Hannaford. 
(Crack!) “And I’m one of the few that know it.” 
(Crack !) He broke off, stared towards the house, face 
changing from its superb red to astonishing purple, and to 
a distant figure roared “ Garge !” in a voice like a clap of 
thunder. “ Garge ! Fetch that pig out of the flower beds ! 


You want my stick about your back, Garge; bless my 
eighteen stun proper if you don’t.” 

“ Pardon, me lord,” begged Mr. Hannaford, bringing 
his stick back to his leg from where it had flouiished 
at Garge, and continuing: “There’s more demand for 
little ’orses than anybody that hasn’t given brain to it 
would believe, me lord. Gentlefolks’ little girls want 
little ’orses and gentlefolks’ little boys want little ’orses; 
gentlefolks’ little carts want little ’orses, young gentle¬ 
men want little polo ’orses, and circuses want little trick 
’orses. Where are they going to get ’em ? ” inquired Mr. 
Hannaford, and answered his question with: “They’re 
coming to me.” (Crack !) 

“Capital!” declared Lord Burdon, who was finding 
Mr. Hannaford a man nearer to his liking than any he 
had met within the radius of Mount Street. 

“Capital’s the word,” agreed Mr. Hannaford. “Bless 
my eighteen stun proper if it isn’t!” (Crack !) “It will 
take time, mind you, me lord. I’m doing it in stages. 
Stage One: circus little ’orses. I rackon I’m level with 
Stage One now. Started with circus little ’orses be¬ 
cause I was in the circus line once and my brother Martin 
— Stingo they call him, me lord — is in it now. Proper 
connaction with circus little ’orses I’ve worked up. 
They come to me when they want a circus little ’orse, 
bless my eighteen stun proper if they don’t.” (Crack !) 
“Stage Two: little gentlefolks’ little ’orses—qust start¬ 
ing that now, me lord. Stage Three : gentlefolks’ little 
carts’ little ’orses. Stage Four: young gentlemen’s little 
polo ’orses. What I want,” declared Mr. Hannaford 
with a culminating crack of tremendous proportions, 
“is to make people when they see a little ’orse think 
of Hannaford. Hannaford — little ’orse; little ’orse — 
Hannaford. Two words one meaning, one meaning two 



words; that’s my lay and I’ll do it, bless my eighteen 
stun proper if I won’t 1 ” (Crack !) 

“’Pon my soul it’s a big scheme,” said Lord Burdon, 
highly entertained and beginning to realise that this was 
no common man. 

“Correct!” Mr. Hannaford assured him, and confided 
with a terrible crack: “I call it a whopper. One of 
these days Stingo will settle down and join me and there’ll 
be no more holding us than you .can hold a little ’orse 
with your finger and thumb.” 

“Settle down?” Lord Burdon questioned, greatly 
interested. “Younger than you, eh?” 

“Three and a half minutes,” returned Mr. Hannaford, 
and added, “Twins, ” in reply to Lord Burdon’s exclama¬ 
tion of surprise. “Not much in point of time, but very 
different in point of nature. Wants settling down; then 
he’ll be all right. You’ll see Stingo in a minute, me lord; 
he’s here,” and Mr. Hannaford pointed to the line of 
sheds they had reached. “On a visit,” he explained; 
and added with a heavy sigh: “Here to-day and gone 
to-morrow; that’s Stingo.” 

He unlatched a door. “This way, me lord. Only 
wooden stables at present; brick, and brick floors, that’s 
to come. This way, my young lordship. This way, 
little master; don’t you be a little ’orse now, else maybe 
we shall make a mistake and tie you up in a stall.” 

The interior was dim. Restless movements announced 
the presence of several little ’orses, and presently was to 
be seen a line of plump little quarters, mainly piebald, 
one or two more sedately coloured. 

“Gentleman to buy a little ’orse,” announced Mr. 
Hannaford; and immediately a face that was the pre¬ 
cise replica of his own appeared from over the side of a 


“Well he’s come to the proper place for a little ’orse,” 
announced the face in a very husky whisper and disap¬ 
peared again. 

“Why, just my very words !” declared Mr. Hannaford 
with high delight. “Just my very words, bless my eigh¬ 
teen stun proper if it wasn’t! Step out, Stingo. Lord 
Burdon, over from Burdon, with his young lordship and 
a—” Mr. Hannaford stopped and stared around him. 
“Why, wherever’s that young Pocket Marvel got to?” 

“I’m here !” Percival called excitedly. “I’m stroking 
this dear little black one and he knows me; so I should 
like to know what you think of that ? ” He came dancing 
out from the stall of the little black one, his face blazing 
with excitement, and simultaneously the replica of Mr. 
Hannaford’s face appeared again and a replica of Mr. 
Hannaford’s figure advanced towards them. 

“Proud !” declared the replica in a strained whisper, 
and raised his hat. “You’re doing well,” he whispered 
to Mr. Hannaford. “ You’re doing uncommon well.” 
He extended his hand and the brothers shook hands, very 
solemnly on the part of the replica, with beaming delight 
on the part of Mr. Hannaford. 

“Steady down, boy; steady down and join us,” Mr. 
Hannaford earnestly entreated, holding Stingo’s hand 
and gazing into his face with great fondness. But Stingo 
slowly shook his head, and turning to Lord Burdon again, 
raised his hat and after many severe throatings managed 
a husky repetition of “Proud !” 

Mr. Hannaford heaved an astonishingly loud sigh, 
pulled himself together with a leg-and-cane crack that 
caused all the little ’orses to start, and addressed him¬ 
self to business. Little master, he declared, had a proper 
eye for a proper little ’orse. • The little black ’orse that 
little master had stroked might have been specially born 



for his lordship’s purpose; picked up at Bampton fair 
last spring, a trifle too stout and not quite the colouring 
for a circus little ’orse and trained to be the first of 
Stage Two: little gentlefolks’ little ’orses. 

Concluding this recommendation, Mr. Hannaford 
put his head outside the stable and roared “Jim !” in a 
voice that might have been heard at Little Letham; 
Stingo put his head out and throated “ Jim !” in a husky 
whisper that nobody heard but himself; and presently 
there appeared a long, thin youth wearing a brimless 
straw hat that was in constant movement owing to an 
alarming habit of twitching his scalp. 

“Fix him up and run him out,” commanded Mr. 
Hannaford, jerking a thumb at the little black ’orse; 
“and keep your scalp steady, me lad, else you’ll do your¬ 
self a ninjury.” He glared very fiercely; and Jim, 
touching an eyebrow which a violent twitch had rushed 
up to the point that should have been covered by the 
brimless straw hat, took down a bridle and approached 
the little black ’orse with the air of one who anticipates 
some embarrassment. 

Mr. Hannaford’s stables looked on to a small enclosed 
paddock, much cut about with hoofs and marked in the 
centre by a deeply trodden ring, around which, as he ex¬ 
plained, the little ’orses were put through their circus 

Rollo shyly held his father’s hand; Stingo revolved 
slowly on his own axis the better to keep a surprised eye 
on Percival, who pranced and bounded with excitement; 
and presently the little black ’orse, with tossing head 
and delighted heels, was produced before them. 

“Now!” said Mr. Hannaford, patting the little black 
’orse with one hand and extending the other to Rollo. 
“Up you come, my little lordship. Nothing to be afraid 


of. Only his fun that. Steady as a little lamb when 
you’re on his back — perfectly safe, me lord,” he assured 
Lord Burdon. 

But Rollo hung back, nestling his hand deeper into his 
father’s and flushing with nervous appeal into Lord 
Burdon’s face. His riding in the Park did not accommo¬ 
date the natural timidity of his nature to the adventures 
of a strange mount, and less so to the doubtful prospects 
that the spirit of the little black ’orse appeared to offer. 
Lord Burdon understood, and patted Rollo’s hand. 
“Not feeling quite up to it, old man? Well, we’ll ask 
Mr. Hannaford to send the pony over to the Manor, and 
try him there, eh ? ” 

“'Blest if you ain’t right, me young lordship,” declared 
Mr. Hannaford tactfully. “Never be hurried into trying 
a new little ’orse. That’s the way. Jim shall bring 
him round for you, me lord, first thing in the morning. 
Walk him up the field, Jim, to let his lordship see how he 

Jim clicked his tongue, the little black ’orse bounded 
amain, and Percival, who had been watching with burning 
eyes, could control himself no longer. “Oh, let me!” 
Percival cried. “Just one tiny little ride ! Lord Burdon, 
please let me ! I Hr eat you to let me !” 

“Why, you can’t ride,” Lord Burdon objected play¬ 

‘ ‘ I could ride him anywhere ! ’ ’ Percival implored. ‘ ‘ He 

knows me. Just look how he’s looking at me. Oh, 
please — please /” and he ended with a shout of delight, 
for Lord Burdon nodded to Mr. Hannaford and Mr. 
Hannaford swung Percival from the ground into the 

“Shorten up that stirrup-iron, Jim,” said Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford, stuffing Percival’s foot into the stirrup on his side. 


“ Catch hold this way, little master. Stick in with your 
knees. That’s the way. Run him out, Jim.” 

The straw-hatted youth made a clutch at the bridle, 
the little black ’orse jerked up its little black head, and 
Percival jerked up the bridle and cried: “Let go ! let 
go!” and kicked a stirruped foot at the straw-hatted 
youth and cried: “He knows me, I tell you !” 

“Pocket Marvel,” commented Stingo huskily, watch¬ 
ing the struggle. “Pocket Marvel, if ever I saw one.” 

“Why, that’s just the very words that I called him, 
bless my eighteen stun proper if it isn’t!” cried Mr. 
Hannaford in huge delight; and simultaneously the 
straw-hatted youth, with a terrible cry and a tremendous 
jerk of the scalp, received a pawing hoof on his foot and 
relaxed his hold on the bridle. 

Away went the little black ’orse and away went the 
Pocket Marvel bounding in the saddle like an india- 
rubber ball; shouting with delight; losing a stirrup; 
clutching at the saddle; saving himself by a miraculous 
twist as the little black ’orse circled at the top of the 
field; bumping higher and higher as the little black 
’orse came gamely trotting back to them, and finally 
shooting headfirst into Mr. Hannaford’s arms, as Stingo 
caught the bridle and the little black ’orse came to a 

Mr. Hannaford placed Percival on his legs and he 
stood by the little black ’orse’s side, breathless, flushed, 
the centre of general congratulations and laughter, from 
the deep “Ho ! Ho !” and terrible leg-and-cane cracks of 
Mr. Hannaford to the silent signals of appreciation in¬ 
dicated by the rapid oscillation of the brimless straw hat 
on the astonishing scalp movements of Jim. 

“Well, I’m afraid I got off rather too quickly, you 
know,” he announced. 


“Not a bit of it!” Mr. Hannaford declared stoutly, 
rubbing that portion of his waistcoat into which Perci- 
val’s head had cannoned. “You got off same as you 
stuck on; like a regular little Pocket Marvel, bless my 
eighteen stun proper if you didn’t.” 

The Pocket Marvel went crimson with new pride and 
excitement. He made to turn eagerly to the little black 
’orse again; and there occurred then ah incident of 
which he thought nothing at the time, nor for many years, 
but which secreted itself in that strange storehouse of the 
brain where trivialities permanently root themselves and 
whence they stir, shake off the dust and emerge, when the 
impressions of far greater events are obliterated. As he 
stretched a hand to the bridle, he caught a glimpse of 
Rollo’s face. Distress not far removed from tears was 
there. The boy was concealing himself behind his 
father. His sensitive nature caused him to feel that the 
laughing group, when it turned attention to him, would 
to his detriment compare him with this bold young 
junior; he shrank from that moment. 

Percival turned away from the little black ’orse and 
ran to him. “Now it’s your turn, Rollo. You see, he 
knew me from the beginning, and that’s why he liked me 
to ride him. Now you try. I promise you I shall run 
by his side and then, you see, he’ll know you’re a friend 
of mine.” 

He took Rollo’s hand and drew him forward. “Sure 
you’d like to, old chap?” Lord Burdon asked, and 
Rollo said; “Oh, yes,” and mounted by himself, as he 
had been taught in London. 

“There you are !” cried Percival, beaming up at him 
and clapping his hands with delight. “There you are ! 
Now, then ! ” And he set off running alongside as he had 
undertaken, as the little black ’orse broke into a trot. 



Once in the saddle, Rollo abandoned his fears and rode 
easily. The little black ’orse outpaced Percivaks small 
legs, and Percival came running back and took Lord 
Burdon’s hand and watched with eager eyes and squirmed 
with delight. 

“He doesn’t bump like I did, you see,” he said. “Look 
how he turns him !” and he freed his hand and clapped 
and shouted: “Well done, Rollo !” 

“’Pon my soul, Percival, you’re a devilish good little 
beggar,” said Lord Burdon; and a similar thought was 
in the minds of the brothers Hannaford when, the pony 
purchased, they watched the wagonette drive from the 
farm. “ I shall save up and come with my Aunt Maggie 
and buy one too,” Percival declared, giving his hand to 
Mr. Hannaford over the side of the trap. “In my 
money-box I’ve got three shillings already; so I should 
like to know what you think of that?” 

“Pocket Marvel, that little master,” commented Mr. 
Hannaford, as the wagonette turned out of sight. 

Stingo made three husky attempts at speech and at 
length whispered: “Thought he was the young lord- 
ship when I first saw ’em.” 

Mr. Hannaford beamed with delight and extended his 
hand. “Why, that’s just what I thought!” he declared; 
“bless my eighteen stun proper if it wasn’t. Steady 
down, boy, steady down and join us.” 

But Stingo’s handshake was limp, and he shook his 
head slowly. 


Then there were the lessons with Miss Purdie. Very 
considerably less satisfactory, these, than the tearing 
excitements that the pony provided, yet having plenty of 


fun for Percival’s eager young mind, and increasing along 
a new path the intimacy between the two boys. Rollo 
was the more advanced; but his grounding! “Your 
grounding,” as Miss Purdie would cry, “is shoe -king! 
Grounding is everything! Look at this sum ! What is 
seven times twelve, sir ? . . . then why have you put 
down a six ? How dare you laugh, Percival ? You are 
worse! Rollo, it’s no good! You must begin at the 
beginning. Grounding is everythingI” 

Terribly frightening, Miss Purdie, when swept by her 
little storms. Rather like a little bird, Miss Purdie, with 
her sharp little glances from behind her spectacles. 
“Don’t put your tongue out when you write, Percival! 
What would you think of me, if I moved my tongue from 
corner to corner every time I write, like that? Don’t 
laugh at me, sir !” 

“Well, it comes out by itself,” Percival expostulates, 
“and I don’t even know that it is out, you know; so I 
should like to know what you think of that ? ” 

“I don’t think any thing about it,” says Miss Purdie, 
with a stamp of her little foot. “That s/w-pid ques¬ 
tion of yours ! How often have I told you not to use 

Very like a little bird, Miss Purdie, with her sharp little 
glances, with her nimble little hops to and fro, and with 
her perky little cockings of the head on this side and the 
other as she encourages an answer. 

“Now the grammar lesson and I hope you’ve both pre¬ 
pared it. Gender of nouns. Masculine, Govern-or. 
Feminine ?” 

“Govern-ess,” venture the boys, a trifle apprehen¬ 

“Good boys! Masculine, Sorcer-er. Feminine?” 

“Sorcer-ess,” says the chorus, gathering courage. 



“ Masculine, Caterer. Feminine ?” 

“Cater -ess,” bawls the chorus, thoroughly enjoying 

“Not so loud! Masculine, Murder-er. Feminine?” 

“Murder-ess,” howls the chorus, recklessly delighted. 

“Good boys! Now be careful! Prosecutor? Take 
time over it. Masculine, Prosecut-er. Feminine?” 

“Prosecutr-ess/” thunders the chorus, plunging to 
destruction on the swing of the thing; and “Oh, you 
s/w-pids ! you s/w-pids!” cries Miss Purdie. “You in- 
tol-er-able s/w-pids!” and the unhappy chorus hangs 
its head and cowers beneath the little storm it has let 

Delightfully appreciative, though, Miss Purdie, when 
the “break” of ten minutes comes and when the boys 
gorge plum-cake and milk and make her positively quiver 
with recitals of the terrible gallops on the pony; and 
delightfully concerned, too, when, as happens once or 
twice, Rollo is discovered to have a headache and is made 
to lie on the sofa in a rug and with a hot-water bottle, 
while the lessons are continued with Percival in fierce 
whispers and hissed “s/w-pids.” Delightfully incon¬ 
sequent, moreover, Miss Purdie, who at the end of an 
especially exasperating morning, when Hunt is heard with 
the pony outside the gate, will suddenly cry: “Well, go 
away then, you thorough little stu- pids; go away !” and 
will drive them to the door and then at once will go into 
ecstatics over the pony and hurry Percival in for sugar, 
and quake with terror while the pony nibbles it from her 
hand, and stand and wave at her gate while they go 
flying down the road, one in the saddle, the other gasping 

Delightfully appreciative, Miss Purdie, and they learn 
to love her for all their terrible fear of her. 


Percival, Miss Purdie finds, is the more affectionate — 
also the more troublesome. Rollo takes his cue from 
Percival and acts accordingly. “ You are the ring¬ 
leader!” cries Miss Purdie, stabbing a forefinger at 
Percival on the fearful morrow of the day on which 
truant was played — whose morning had seen Miss 
Purdie running between her house and her gate like a 
distressed hen abandoned by her chickens; whose after¬ 
noon had seen the alarm communicated to Burdon Old 
Manor and to “Post Offic” ; and whose evening had dis¬ 
covered the disconsolate return to the village of two 
travel-stained and weary figures. “ You are the ring¬ 
leader in everything, and I don’t know whether you 
ought to be more ashamed or you" —and she turns 
from the ringleader to stab her finger at the ring, as 
represented by Rollo —“or you, for allowing yourself to 
be led away by one so much younger.” 

“I’ve told you,” protests Percival, “I’ve told you 
again and again we got lost; so I should like to know 
what you think of that?” 

“Don't use that afow-inable phrase, sir ! If you hadn’t 
gone off — tempted Rollo to go off — you wouldn’t have 
got lost, would you ?” 

Percival beams at her in his disarming manner. “Well, 
you see, we saw a fox and went after it and kept on seeing 
it and then found we were lost; so I should like —” 

“Don't argue. I tell you, you are the rmg-leader!” 

She pauses and glares. “I should like to tell you,” 
says the ringleader, still beaming, “about a very funny 
thing we saw. We saw —” 

“Stand in the corner !” cries Miss Purdie. “Stand in 
the corner! You are incorrigible! ” and she turns to 
Rollo with “Geography, sir!” in a voice that causes 
him to tremble. 




Certainly Percival is the leader. He has the instinct 
of leadership. It is to be noted in the carriage and in the 
demeanour of his vigorous young person. A sturdy way 
of standing he has : squarely, with his round chin up, his 
head thrown back, his knees always braced, his arms 
never hanging limply but always slightly flexed at the 
elbows as though alert for action, his eyes widely opened, 
his gaze upwards and about him with the challenging air 
of one who expects entertainments to arise and would be 
quick to greet them. He is rarely still; he is rarely 
silent. A brisk way of movement he has; a high young 
voice; a compelling laugh with a clear note of “Ha ! 
Ha ! Ha ! ” as though the matter that tickles him tickles 
him with the boniest knuckles wherever he is ticklish. 
He has the instinct of leadership. When he is with Rollo 
and an affair arises, he does not suggest a plan of action; 
he immediately acts. On their rambles, when an obstacle 
or an emergency is discovered, it instantly arouses in him 
a reflex action by which vigorously, and without estimate 
of its difficulties, it is attacked. “ You are so thoughtless, 
Percival, so thoughtless!” Aunt Maggie cries when he 
explains a mired and dripping state with “I jumped the 
ditch and found I couldn’t jump.” 

“Well, but I wanted to get across, you see,” Percival 

“If you had looked first you would have seen you 
couldn’t get across.” 

“Well, but I did get across!” 

“You didn’t; you fell in, you stupid little boy.” 

“But I got across ,” beams Percival; and Aunt Maggie 
undoes her scolding by kissing him. She has marked this 
impetuous and determined spirit in him; and she knows 


it for the “ I hold ” spirit that is his by right of birth; one 
day he will present it to Lady Bur don. 

* He had the instinct of leadership. At first, in the 
excursions with Rollo, he unconsciously expected in Rollo 
a spirit equal to and similar with his own. At first, when 
he ran suddenly, or suddenly took a great jump, or set off 
at a quick trot towards some distant excitement, he ex¬ 
pected to find Rollo at his side and was surprised to turn 
and find him hanging back, timid or tired. Very shortly 
he accepted the difference between them and emphasized 
that he was leader. It became natural to him that, with 
the action of starting to run or of storming a stout hedge, 
he should give to Rollo a hand that would aid him along 
or pull him through. It became natural, when a difficult 
place was reached, to release the hand with a little con¬ 
fident movement that implied “Stay;” to rush the ob¬ 
stacle; somehow to scramble to the further side, and 
then turn and cry directions and encouragement, end¬ 
ing always with “I ’ll catch you, you know; you’ll be 
all right.” 

And as the weeks went on, the complement of this 
hardy spirit became natural to Rollo. Percival put out 
the hand of aid; the hand that desired aid was always 
ready. Rollo’s hand acquired the habit of relying on 
Percival for physical support; his mind came to depend 
on Percival for moral benefit. However they were 
employed, he took his note from his leader. If Percival 
chose to be idle at their lessons, Rollo also would be inat¬ 
tentive and mischievous. On the days when Percival was 
immense in his promises to work hard, Rollo would 
sedulously apply himself. Percival led; he followed. 
Percival called the tune; Rollo danced to it. Percival 
stretched the hand; Rollo took it. 




The stay at Burdon Old Manor came to an end; it had 
been so productive of health and happiness in Rollo, he 
became, as years went on, so much more and more devoted 
to Percival, that it was made the beginning of regular 
visits. The Manor continued to doze for the most part 
under the care of Mrs. Housekeeper Ferris, with Mr. 
Librarian Amber’s library the only room that had no 
dust sheets about the furniture; but there were periodic 
openings: always a visit at Easter before the London 
season began, always a visit in August reaching into 
October when the London season was ended. 

The visits marked the fullest times of Percival’s life, as 
they marked the happiest of Rollo’s; but life was steadily 
and joyously filled for Percival in these days, and he with 
a zest for it that carried him ardently along the hours. 

The years were passing; he grew apace. It was a 
period, the villagers told one another, of rare proper 
weather: the winters hard with all the little hamlets 
tethered along Plowman’s Ridge sometimes cut off for 
days together by heavy falls of snow; the springs most 
gentle and most radiant, escaping with a laugh from 
Winter’s bondage and laughing down the lanes and up the 
hedgerows and through the fields, where every mother, 
from earth that mothered all, was fruitful of her kind; 




the summers glorious, with splendid days joining hands 
with splendid days to form a stately chain of sunshine 
through the warmer months. 

Rare proper weather with the energy of its period in 
every hour, and Percival that energy’s embodiment. 
He grew properly, the villagers said, and knew without a 
second glance what figure it was that went scudding 
along the Down in the young mornings, and knew with¬ 
out a second thought whose voice came singing to them as 
they stooped in their fields or trudged behind their herds. 
He grew lustily; lissom of limb, as might be seen; eager 
and finely turned of face, having an air and a wide eye 
that caused chance tourists to turn and look again; very 
big of spirit, as those knew who had the handling of him. 

“He’s getting that independent there’s no doing a 
thing with him,” stormed Honor one day, coming with 
Percival (both very red in the face) to lay a passage of 
arms for arbitrament before Aunt Maggie. 

“Oh, Percival! And Honor is so kind to you !” 

“I know, I know; but she tries to rule me, Aunt 
Maggie !” 

“And ruling you want,” Honor cried, “as your Aunt 
Maggie well knows. Spare the pickle and spoil the rod ! ” 

“You’ve got it wrong!” said Percival with scornful 
triumph, and after he had stalked away, his head thrown 
up in an action that Aunt Maggie well remembered in 
Roly, she sought to placate Honor with thoughts that 
were frequently coming to her in those days. “He is 
getting big, Honor. I think we forget how he is growing. 
We mustn’t keep him in too tightly.” 

Then there was Miss Purdie. “To my face !” cried 
Miss Purdie, fluttering into “Post Offic” one afternoon, 
“to my face he called the sum a beastly sum — the sum, 
mind you, I had set him myself ! A beastly sum ! ” and 



then completely spoilt the horror of it by sighing and 
winding up, “but he is such a sweet. So lovable! So 
merry !” 

“He’s growing, you see,” joined Aunt Maggie. 

“Of course, he is,” agreed Miss Purdie. “It’s just his 
spirit. He’s so manly!” and she gave herself a little 
shake and said: “Oh, I like a manly boy !” 

Still, the truculence of character that had brought her 
warring down to “Post Ofiic” remained to be settled. 
Moreover, the boy’s mind was developing outside the 
range of Miss Purdie’s primers and exercise books. 
“He wants Latin,” said Miss Purdie. “He wants 
algebra. He wants Euclid /” and the ladies decided that 
his tuition had better be handed over to Miss Purdie’s 
brother, who could supply these correctives. They shook 
hands on it and agreed that Mr. Purdie should take over 
the duties on the morrow. On the doorstep Miss Purdie 
repeated the necessity with terrible emphasis: “He 
wants Latin ! He wants algebra! But I shall miss our 
lessons together! Oh, dear, how I shall miss them!” 

She hurried home with little sniffs which she strove to 
check by repeating very fiercely: “He wants Latin!” 


Percival took up with immense zest the new freedom 
from petticoat control and the new regimen of lessons. 
He liked the new subjects; and it was notable in him that 
he carried into the exercise of his tasks the same quickness 
and determination with which he entered upon — and 
completed — all pleasanter affairs that came to his hand. 
Mr. Purdie, for his part, was enchanted. Mr. Purdie was 
plump and soft, with lethargic ways and pronounced 
timidity of character. In his youth Mr. Purdie had been 



called to the Bar. A very small legacy came to him 
thereafter, and his lymphatic nature led him at once to 
abandon town life, to go to sloth at his ease with his sister 
at Burdon village. He was vastly attracted by Percival. 
Very shortly after their introduction as master and pupil, 
he came to Aunt Maggie with the suggestion that Percival 
might spend with him some leisure as well as the school- 
hours. “A boy can be taught in his play as well as his 
work,” he announced in his pompous manner. “At 
PercivaPs age, and as he grows, there are things in which 
only a man can guide him.” He gave one of his shrill, 
absurd chuckles: “And I think Master Percival likes 
me. Eh, Percival ? ” 

Percival eyed him doubtfully. He could not see stout 
and soft Mr. Purdie contributing much entertainment to 
his rambles. “Well, if you bring your tricycle, we might 
have some fun,” he admitted. 

Ah, these were the happy days. Happy, happy time ! 
There was fun in alarming Mr. Purdie during their walks 
by taking him across fields that had fierce cows; by 
climbing trees with the plump tutor imploring beneath; 
by pretending to go out of depth when bathing in Fir- 
Tree Pool, with the plump tutor beseeching from the 
bank like an agitated hen that has hatched ducklings. 
There was particular fun in the tricycle. 

The tricycle was an immense affair of remote con¬ 
struction, having the steering-wheel attached by a bar 
behind and manipulated by handles on either side of the 
seat that required almost as much winding as a clock — 
“twiddling” Percival called it — when the machine was 
to be deflected from a straight passage. Percival’s legs 
were too short for the treadles, Mr. Purdie’s too soft 
for propulsion up even the gentlest incline. Tricycle 
excursions took, therefore, the form of laborious pushing, 



with inordinate perspiration on the part of Mr. Purdie, 
until the brow of a hill was gained, when Percival would 
balance upon the steering wheel bar, Mr. Purdie in 
considerable trepidation on the seat, and away they 
would go with delighted shoutings from Percival — legs 
dangling, hands clutching the plump tutor’s coat — and 
anguished entreaties of ‘/Steady ! steady ! Don’t touch 
my arms ! Don’t touch my arms !” from Mr. Purdie, 
back-pedalling tremendously, clutching at the brake, 
winding at the handles. Then the laborious ascent of 
the next slope, Mr. Purdie dripping at every pore, 
Percival crimson in the face and carrying on a long 
argument: “If you’d only work when we get near the 
bottom and not use that rotten brake, we’d get halfway 
up and not have this awful pushing /” 

“Well, kindly do not push me ,” says Mr. Purdie, very 

Happy, happy time ! Disaster came on the day on 
which there entered Mr. Purdie’s eye the fly that he 
always dreaded. Mr. Purdie in the seat was back¬ 
pedalling with immense caution down Five Furlong Hill ; 
Percival on the steering bar behind was peering ahead 
round the plump tutor’s ample girth and at intervals 
urging: “Now let her go !” 

It was the fly that let her go. Whack ! came the fly 
into Mr. Purdie’s eye. “Whoa!” cried Mr. Purdie. 
“Bother! dear me! Whoa!” Up went Mr. Purdie’s 
knees in the twitch of pain; up came his hand to his 
tortured eye; round went the released pedals; forward 
shot the tricycle. 

“Hurrah!” cried Percival. “Well done! Ripping 
of you !” 

Mr. Purdie, between agony of his eye and terror for 
his safety, gave a shrill cry of dismay; took a grab at 



the brake and a grab back at his eye; received two ter¬ 
rible blows on the backs of his legs that fumbled wildly 
for the whizzing treadles, and barked out: “Brake ! 
Brake! Fly in my eye!” 

“Which eye?” Percival shouted, enjoying the speed 

The alarmed tutor bundled his words in a heap the 
better to get them out and arrest the catastrophe that 

“ Catchabrakeandontbesilly ! Catchabrakeabekilled ! ” 

They whizzed ! 

Percival bawled : “ We don’t want the brake ! I can’t 
reach the brake ! I like it! We’re simply whizzing! 
Mind your legs ! ” His cap was gone. His hair fluttered 
in the rushing wind. His face was crimson with excited 
glee. His clear laughter on its strong note of “Ha ! Ha ! 
Ha !” rose high above the rattling of all the machine’s 
vitals and the cries of the agonised bearer of the fly. He 
clung tightly to the podgy waist and shouted: “Ha ! Ha ! 
Ha! We’re whizzing! We’re whizzing!” 

Mr. Purdie took another six hammers on his legs and 
struck a note of new alarm. 

“I’m blind, you know ! I can’t see ! I can’t steer !” 

“A straight road!” Percival bawled. “Look out, 
though ! A corner coming !” 

“How can I look out? Draggle your legs on the 
ground !” 

“Twiddle to the left!” Percival bellowed. “Ha! 
Ha! Ha! Twiddle, Mr. Purdie, twiddle!” 

Mr. Purdie twiddled frantically; the tricycle outraced 
his efforts. “Look out for yourself!” from Percival, 
and with a loud and exceeding bitter cry from Mr. Purdie, 
the machine plunged at the hedge, planted Mr. Purdie 
very firmly into the midst, shot Percival firmly on top 



of him, took a violent somersault across the ditch that 
skirted the hedge, and poised itself above them. 

Mr. Purdie’s last despairing cry cut sharply across 
Percival’s peals of laughter — then the crash. The 
fluttering beat of wings as a cloud of chaffinches, terrified 
by this amazing avalanche, burst from the floor of the 
wood beyond the hedge, then peal on peal of laughter 
again from Percival. 

In muffled tones from the depth of the hedge: “It is 
a miracle we are not killed. Where are you, Percival ?” 

Percival checked his mirth sufficiently to reply: 
“Well, I don’t know where I am ! My head is down 
here, but where my legs are I don’t know.” 

“One of them is under me and hurting me terribly. 
Move, please.” 

Between the peals of laughter: “I can’t move, Mr. 
Purdie. I’m practically standing on my head, you 

“I don’t know anything about it. My face is almost 
in something highly unpleasant — a dead bird, I think. 
Please stop that laughter and try to do something. The 
odour here is most noisome.” 

“Well, but I can’t stop laughing. Did you see us 

• “Please try to control yourself. I did not see us 

A mighty effort causes Percival’s head and shoulders 
to come up with a jerk; Mr. Purdie feels the weight of 
pupil and tricycle removed from his back, and there 
follows another crash and further yells of laughter. 

In muffled agony from the hedge: “Now what has 

“Well, I’m bothered if I haven’t fallen again! I’ve 
fallen out, though.” 



Out of the depths: “Percival! Percival! Don’t be 
such a silly little boy! Pull me out!” 

“Well, I’m all mixed up in this awful trike, you know. 
Now, I’m up!” 

“ Pray pull me, then. I am retching with this noisome 

“Well, there’s nothing to pull!” cries Percival, plung¬ 
ing round the tremendous stern that sticks out of the 
hedge. “Your trousers are simply tight!” 

Out of the depths: “Tch ! Tch ! Push me sideways, 

The mammoth stern is pushed sideways and hauled 
backways, and presently begins to rise, and presently 
the stout tutor is ponderously disgorged from the hedge, 
and staggers forth with grunts and moans, and collapses 
on the roadside, feet in ditch, very bedraggled and un¬ 
fortunate looking. 

“Don’t think I’m laughing at you,” Percival says. 
“I’m really very sorry for you. But you’re not hurt, 
you know. Let me rub you down with leaves.” 

“I am terribly shaken. Do not touch me for a few 
minutes, please.” 

“Is the fly still in your eye?” 

“I don’t know where the fly is.” 

“Your trousers are awfully torn.” 

“Be silent, please. I am dazed.” 

He remains dazed when at last they begin to trudge 
home, the wrecked tricycle left for a cart. But at the 
top of the hill that plunged them to disaster, the in¬ 
fectious spurts of laughter at his side challenge his self¬ 
esteem and he sets out to sound his reputation in 
rercival’s regard. 

“I think I steered rather well, considering I couldn’t 



Percival is always generous: “ Splendidly ! Oh, dear, 
I’m aching with laughing !” 

“I was only afraid for you, Percival.” 

“We whizzed, you know! We simply whizzed!” 

Mr. Purdie glances back down the hill and shudders 
to haye whizzed it. “Were you laughing all the way 
down ?” 

“Anybody would laugh at a whizz like that.” 

The plump tutor has a close acquaintance with one 
person who would not. The remark pricks him and he 
finds a comforting answer. “Only very silly people 
laugh at danger.” 

“Well, I didn’t know it was danger,” said Percival; 
and Mr. Purdie first looks at him thoughtfully and then 
gives one of his shrill, absurd chuckles. 


Happy, happy time! There were the visits to Mr. 
Hannaford, always made on a whole holiday because an 
early start was necessary, where the little ’orse farm was 
progressing famously and where Percival was made quite 
extraordinarily welcome. Terrible leg-and-cane cracks 
would announce in which quarter of the farm Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford was to be found, and Percival would discover Mr. 
Hannaford watching a little circus ’orse at exercise, or 
watching the builders at work in the brick stables that 
were slowly displacing the line of sheds, and watching 
all the time to the accompaniment of bellowing instruc¬ 
tions punctuated by leg-and-cane cracks of astounding 

Percival would plant himself squarely by Mr. Hanna- 
ford’s side in Mr. Hannaford’s position — legs apart, 
head thrown back — and would eagerly follow the pro- 



ceedings until Mr. Hannaford suddenly would observe 
him and would cry in a voice the whole farm might hear : 
“ Why, it’s the little Pocket Marvel! Bless my eighteen 
stun proper if it ain’t! However long a you been there, 
little master ?” 

Percival, beaming all over his face and putting his 
small hand into the tremendous shake of Mr. Hannaford’s 
shoulder of mutton fist: “ Only about ten minutes, thank 
you, Mr. Hannaford. Don’t you mind me, you know. 
I like watching.” 

“Ah, and I’ve got something for you to watch,” Mr. 
Hannaford would say. “Now you come over here with 
me. Got that little lordship with you?” 

“Not come back yet,” Percival would reply, capering 
along, tremendously happy. “How are you going along, 
Mr. Hannaford? Properly?” 

“ Properly to rights ! Look at that now ! ” And with 
a terrible leg-and-cane crack Mr. Hannaford would 
pause before the new stables and call Percival’s atten¬ 
tion to some new feature that had arisen since his last 
visit. “Names on the doors, d’you see? ‘Crocker’s’ 
on that door, ‘Maddox’s’ on this door. Do a deal in 
little ’orses with Crocker’s circus; take your gross profit; 
set aside share of expenses; set aside wear and tear; 
set aside emergency fund; take your net profit; build 
your stable; call it Crocker’s. Same with Maddox: 
deal, gross, share, wear, emergency, net, stable — call 
it Maddox! What d’you think of that for a notion?” 

“Why, I call it jolly fine, Mr. Hannaford,” Percival 
replies. “I call that a proper notion. Reminds you 
how you did it, doesn’t it?” 

“Why, that’s just exactly what it does do!” cries 
Mr. Hannaford, enormously delighted. “Just the very 
notion of it, bless my eighteen stun proper if it ain’t! 

17 8 


Now you come along over here.” And Mr. Hannaford 
would leg-and-cane crack, and Percival would trot and 
chatter, over to another marvel, where a similar perform¬ 
ance would be gone through, owner and spectator tre¬ 
mendously happy, and both profoundly serious. 

Mr. Hannaford would usually propose lunch after this. 
Mr. Hannaford permitted no women in his establish¬ 
ment; but the long, low-roofed dining-room in the old 
farmhouse was kept at a shining cleanliness, and the 
meal was invitingly cooked, by a one-armed man of 
astoundingly fierce appearance and astonishingly mild 
disposition, who answered to the names of Ob and Diah 
accordingly as Mr. Hannaford preferred the former or 
latter half of the Obadiah to which the one-armed man 
was entitled, and who had left the greater part of his 
missing arm in the lion’s cage he had attended when 
travelling with Maddox’s Monster Menagerie and Royal 

Three places were always set at the table when Percival 
visited. One for Mr. Hannaford at one end, one at the 
other end for brother Stingo — “in case,” as Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford would say — and one on Mr. Hannaford’s right 
for Percival. There was a tremendous silver tankard 
of ale for Mr. Hannaford, a similar tankard for Percival 
— requiring both hands and containing milk — and al¬ 
ways, when Mr. Hannaford raised the dish-cover, there 
developed from the cloud of steam a plump chicken which 
Mr. Hannaford called chicknn and Percival chicking 
and which they both fell upon with quite remarkable 

“Well, it’s a most astonishing thing to me,” Percival 
would say when the cover went up, and the chicken 
settled out of the steam. “Most amazing ! You know 
I like chicking better than anything, and every time I 



come you just happen to have chicking for dinner ! 
Most amazing to me, you know !” 

And Mr. Hannaford would lay down the carving knife 
and fork and stare at the chicken and say: “ Well, it is 
a chickun again, so it is, bless my eighteen stun proper 
if it ain’t! ” and would give a tremendous wink at Ob in 
order to enjoy with him the joke arising from the fact 
that directly Percival was sighted on the farm a messen¬ 
ger was sent to Ob to prepare the meal that Percival liked 

Then they would eat away, and pull away at the co¬ 
lossal tankards, and Percival would always make a point 
of saying: “Stingo not home?” 

A long pull at the tankard and a heavy sigh from Mr. 
Hannaford: “Not just yet, little master. Still restless, 
I’m afraid. Still restless.” 

And Percival, in the old phrase and with the air of a 
grandfather: “Well, he’ll settle down, you know. He’ll 
settle down.” 

“Why, that’s just what I say!” Mr. Hannaford 
would exclaim, immensely comforted. “Settle down — 
of course he will! Just what I’m always telling him, 
bless my eighteen stun proper if it ain’t!” 

Always the same jolly lunch, always the same mingled 
seriousness and jolly fun, always the same jokes. Per¬ 
cival did not know that much of it was carefully planned 
by Mr. Hannaford that he might enjoy the fullest relish 
of the Pocket Marvel’s visit. There was the great 
chicken joke, there was also the killing joke for the pro¬ 
duction of which by Percival Mr. Hannaford would 
dawdle lunch to an inordinate length. 

At length it would come : “Nothing I can have a ride 
on, I suppose, Mr. Hannaford?” Percival would say 
with careful carelessness. 



“Never a norse fit for it,” Mr. Hannaford would 
reply, equally off-hand. 

A heavy sigh from Percival: “Oh, dear! Sure, I 
suppose ?” 

“Certain! Got a little brown ’orse— but there, 
you’d never ride him.” 

“I bet I would ! I bet I would !” 

Mr. Hannaford, looking terribly fierce and in a very 
violent voice : “Bet you wouldn’t!” 

“Try me, then! Only try me!” 

And Mr. Hannaford would bounce up and seize his 
cane, and they would rush off, and the saddle would be 
put on the little brown ’orse, and Percival would mount 
him and gallop him and cry “You see! You see!” 
And Mr. Hannaford would pretend huge amazement 
and declare that Percival was a proper little Pocket 
Marvel, bless his eighteen stun proper if he wasn’t. 

Once or twice Stingo would be there, and then the jolly 
fun would be jollier than ever; and in the evening Mr. 
Hannaford’s gig with the big black mare would come 
around and the brothers would labour up into the seat 
and Percival would squeeze in between them and they 
would let him drive and he would pop the mare along 
at a lashing speed and there would be the highest good- 
fellowship. He would be set down at the top of Five 
Furlong Hill — nothing would induce Mr. Hannaford 
to come into the village where women might be met. 
“Well, good night, Mr. Hannaford; good night, Mr. 
Stingo. Thank you most awfully for all your kindness 
to me. I hope I’ll come again soon.” 

The brothers would usually wait until he reached the 
turning to the village; setting up, the one a husky 
shout, and the other a terrible bellow, in reply to the 
faint “Good night! ” that came to them through the dusk. 



“I never in all my life took to nothing, not even a 
little ’orse, like I have to that little master,” Mr. 
Hannaford would say. “Never seen such a proper one, 

And Stingo, with painful huskiness: “Ought to ha’ 
been a little lordship !” 

“Why, that’s just exactly what I say,” Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford would reply, enormously pleased. “Bless my eigh¬ 
teen stun proper if it isn’t!” 


Happy, happy time ! There were the visits to mild 
old Mr. Amber in the library at Burdon Old Manor. 
Strongest contrast, the delights here, to those enjoyed 
among the little ’orses. Strongest contrast, mild old 
Mr. Amber with his stooping shoulders and his gentle 
ways, to tremendous Mr. Hannaford with his lusty back 
and his vigorous habits. 

But the same eager welcome: “Well, well, Master 
Percival, this is indeed a pleasant surprise ! And we are 
just sitting down to our tea — and I declare Mrs. Ferris 
has sent us some strawberry jam ! Now if that isn’t too 
fortunate I don’t know what is ! ” 

“Well, it’s awfully jolly,” Percival agrees. “Mrs. 
Ferris makes very nice strawberry jam, doesn’t she?” 

In the act of pouring tea, mild old Mr. Amber sets down 
the pot and emphasises with his glasses. “My dear sir — 
my dear Percival, she makes the very best strawberry 
jam! Mrs. Ferris has made that strawberry jam for 
forty years — to our certain knowledge, for-ty years.” 

Percival’s rounded eyes show his appreciation of this 
consistent industry. “Must have made a lot,” is his 



“Tons,” says Mr. Amber. “My dear sir — my dear 
Percival, I should say—tons.” He stabs the glasses at 
his listener. “And every berry, sir, every single berry, 
wet season or dry, from our own gardens !” 

It always comes back to that with Mr. Amber. The 
old Manor, the House of Burdon, is his world and his 
life, and he is mightily jealous you shall know their 

There is generally a little interlude of this kind in the 
course of the visit. Its effect stays for a few minutes, 
Mr. Amber slowly repeating to himself “every berry — 
every single berry, sir,” in the tone of one impressively 
warning against any challenge of his statement; and then 
he simmers down and recollects that his visitor is the 
Percival who occupies a large portion of his heart. He 
likes to take Percival’s hand. He likes to feel that warm 
young grasp within his own chilly old palm. He likes 
to lead the boy and feel those sturdy young fingers twitch 
to the excitement of what tales he can tell or what treas¬ 
ures he can show. 

“Now what have we got to show you in our shelves 
this evening? Nothing much, we fear. Oh, yes, we 
have, though ! Those folios — we’ve rearranged them 
so as to fill the ninth and tenth in this tier. That was 
your suggestion, wasn’t it ? I agree, you know, I quite 
agree. It’s an improvement.” 

“Keeps them stiffer,” says Percival, head on one 
side, rather proud. 

“Just exactly what it does! Keeps them stiffer. 
Lessens the strain. We ought to have thought of 
that, Percival. We reproach ourselves there, you 

There is a tinge of the self-reproach in his voice, and 
Percival hastens with: “Of course you would have done 


it yourself, as you said, but you get into your ways, don’t 
you ?” 

“Well, we do,” agrees Mr. Amber, very comforted. 
“That’s just what it is — we get into our ways.” 

At other times when Percival comes to the library, 
there is no answer to his knock on the door. He turns 
the handle very gently; pokes in his head very quietly; 
peers all about the apartment; cannot see Mr. Amber; 
enters very cautiously; and presently espies him perched 
high aloft on one of the wheeled book-ladders, sitting 
cross-legged, catalogue on knee, pencil in hand, brow 
puckered in mental labour. 

Then Percival closes the door behind him, so that there 
shall be scarcely the faintest click, and gives a tiny 
cough and says: “Very busy, Mr. Amber?” 

“ ’M-’m, ” says Mr. Amber, wagging his head, waving 
the pencil and frowning horribly. “ ’M-’m !” 

Percival tiptoes with enormous caution to the other 
ladder; wheels it to a shelf where he has found enter¬ 
tainment ; selects his book; perches himself; and for 
an hour or more the two, each on his ladder, the child 
and the man, the lissom young form and the withered 
old figure, sit high among the books, entranced among 
the worlds that books discover. 

“ ’M-’m!” says Mr. Amber at intervals, frantically 

“Only coughed,” explains Percival. “Only that 
choking, you know. It—” 

“ ’M-’m! ’M-’m !” and they bury themselves again. 

That is the usual course. Once or twice there have 
been conversations across the room from the tops of the 
ladders. Percival has looked up from his book to find 
Mr. Amber turned towards him and regarding him with 
eyes that do not appear to see his smile of greeting. 



“Mr. Amber, is there anything funny about me that 
you look at me so?” 

Mr. Amber will start as though he had been dreaming. 
“Funny? Eh? Why, no, Percival; nothing funny at 

“If it is my boots, they are quite clean. I gave them 
twelve wipes each, like you told me.” 

“It’s not your boots.” 

Silence between them. 

“Funny us two sitting up here like this, like two moun¬ 
tains in the sea. Rather jolly, isn’t it?” 

“It recalls to me,” says Mr. Amber, “another little 
boy who used to sit up there just as you sit. ... In 
this dim light . . . there are ways you have, Per¬ 
cival . . .” 

Silence again. Twilight gathering in the corners of 
the vast room. A moth softly thudding the window- 
pane. There is something in the atmosphere that seems 
to hold Percival. At “Post Ofiic” he likes the lamps to 
be lit when dusk draws down; here there is a feeling of 
gentleness about him, with curious half-thoughts and 
with half-familiar gropings and stretchings of the shad¬ 
ows. “Thinking without thinking, as if I was in some 
one else who was thinking,” he has described it to Aunt 

“Your voice, too,” says Mr. Amber suddenly. 

Percival knows what is in Mr. Amber’s mind. “ Think¬ 
ing of your young lordship, aren’t you, Mr. Amber?” 

“He used to sit there,” Mr. Amber replies. “In this 
dim light . . . seeing you there . . .” 

Silence again. Twilight wreathing from the corners 
across the ceiling; shadows grouping and moving in new 
fantasies; soft thuddings of the moth as though a shadow 
beat to enter. 



Percival stretches a hand, and against the window’s 
light perceives a shadow he has watched drift caress¬ 
ingly about his fingers. 

Mr. Amber, little above a whisper, peering through 
the gloom: “Why do you stretch your hand so, my lord ? ” 

“I’m touching a shadow that’s come right up to me;” 
and then Percival realises the last words, and laughs and 
says: “You called me ‘my lord!’ — you did really, 
Mr. Amber!” 

“God bless me!” says Mr. Amber, shaking himself 
— “ God bless me, we are getting the shadows in our 
brains. Come down and watch me light the lamps.” 


Happy, happy time! Best of all when the family is 
at the Old Manor and when the friendship with Rollo 
can be taken up where it was left, to be deepened and 
to be discovered more than ever fruitful of delights. The 
boys are older now. Childish games are done with; 
very serious talks (so they believe) take the place of the 
chatter and the “pretending ” of earlier days : they dis¬ 
cuss affairs, mostly arising from adventures in the books 
they read; there has been a general election, and they 
agree that the Liberals are awful rotters; there has been 
one of the little wars, and they kindle together to the 
glory of British arms and wish they might be Young 
Buglers and be thanked by the general before the whole 
regiment like the heroes of Mr. Henty’s books. 

Percival calls the tune, starts the discussions, con¬ 
structs the adventures. Rollo follows the lead, leaning 
on the quicker mind just as he relies on the stronger arm 
and the speedier foot when they are on their rambles 
together. It is Rollo who throws the acorn that hits 



the stout farm boy driving a milk cart beneath them, 
as they perch in a tree. It is Percival who scrambles 
down responsive to the insults of the enraged boy, and 
takes a most fearful battering that the stout boy’s stout 
arms are able to inflict. 

“I ought to have fought him,” Rollo says half-tear- 
fully, with shamed and shuddering glances at the bloody 
handkerchief held to the suffering nose, the lumped 
forehead and the blackened eye. “He said the one that 
hit him. It was my shot.” 

Percival, in terrible fury, muffled from behind the 
handkerchief: “How could you fight him ? Dash those 
great clodhopping arms of his ! A mile long ! I’ll have 
another go at him, I swear I will.” 

It is Rollo who cries: “Percival, it will kill us!” 
when the ram they have annoyed comes with a fourth 
shattering crash against the boards of the pigsty to 
which they have fled for safety. It is Percival who cries: 
“Run, when he sees us!” whips over the palisade, 
springs across the field, and takes the tail-end of an ap¬ 
palling batter as he hurls himself through the far gate. 

“How ever could you dare?” Rollo asks, joining him 
in the road. “Has he hurt you frightfully?” 

“How could you have escaped?” says Percival, 
limping. “He’d have got you in that sty. I knew I 
could beat him. Dash the brute, it stings ! There’s 
the kind of stick I want! I’ll teach him manners !” 

It is Rollo who gives an appealing look at Percival 
when Lord Burdon starts them in a race for sixpence. 
It is Percival who whispers as they run: “We’ll make it 
a dead heat.” 

“It was awfully decent of you, Percival,” Rollo ex¬ 
claims, as they go to spend the prize at Mrs. Minnifie’s 
sweet shop. 



“Oh, it’s rotten beating one another when people are 
looking on,” Percival replies. “I vote for lemonade 
as well, don’t you?” 

It is the spirit between them that had its first 
evidence on the day when the visit was made to Mr. 
Hannaford to purchase the little black ’orse. Then 
Rollo hung back while Percival jumped to ride; then 
Percival brought him forward, encouraging him, to taste 
the fun. So now, as the years sunder their natures more 
sharply, and as affection more strongly bridges the gulf, 
the more sharply does the one lead, the other follow; 
the more naturally does the one support, the other rely. 

Everybody notices it: Aunt Maggie, who only smiles; 
Lady Burdon, who says: “Rollo, Percival’s a regular 
little father to you, it seems to me. Don’t let him rule 
you, you know. Remember what you are, Rollo mine.” 
Even Egbert Hunt notices it. Mr. Hunt is still attached 
to Rollo’s person. Sick yedaches trouble him less fre¬ 
quently; but his hatred of tyrangs has deepened with 
the increasing tenure of his servitude. He spends less 
of his wages on vegules; much of it on socialistic litera¬ 
ture of an inflammatory nature; but he never forgets 
the sympathy of Percival in the vegule days, and he is 
strongly joined with all those who, meeting the boy, 
have a note stirred by his sunny nature. 

“Always does me good to see you,” Mr. Hunt says 
one day. “Something about you. He’ll never be a 
slave who works for you,” 

“Well, who’s going to work for me?” Percival in¬ 

“The point!” says Mr. Hunt with impressive gloom. 
“The very point.” He fumbles in his pocket and pro¬ 
duces thumbed papers, just as he fumbled and produced 
vegules at an earlier day. “It’s in the lowlier” — he 



consults a paper — “in the lowlier strata that you find 
the men a man can follow, but the men that can’t lead 
owing to the heel of the tyrang. It’s the Bloodsuckers 
we got to serve.” He indicates the paper: “Blood¬ 
suckers, they call ’em here.” 

“Silly rot,” says Percival. 

“Ah, you’re young,” Mr. Hunt returns. “You’re 
young. You’ll learn different when they begin to sap 
your blood for you. You’re a higher strata than me, 
Master Percival. Benificent influence of education, 
you’ve had. But you’re under the Bloodsuckers. 
Squeeze you out like an orindge, they will, and throw 
yer away. Me one day, you another.” He indicated 
the paper again. “There’s a strong bit here called 
‘Squeezed Orindges.’ Makes yer boil.” 

“I’m boiling already,” says Percival. “It’s a jolly hot 
day. If you don’t like being what you are, I wonder 
you don’t be something else.” 

“No good,” Mr. Hunt tells him. “Out of one ty- 
rang’s heel and under another. We’ve got to suffer 
and endure, us orindges, until the day when they are 
swept away like chaff before the wind.” 

Percival is rather interested: “Well, who’s going to 
sweep them? and sweep whom?” 

“Ah!” says Mr. Hunt darkly. “Who? Makes 
yer boil.” 

“Well, I shouldn’t worry, Hunt,” says Percival, in 
the old “Have you got one of your poor sick yedaches ?” 
tone. “I shouldn’t, really. I feel angry sometimes, 
but you’ve only got to have a game of something, you 
know. There’s Rollo ! Come on down and help us 
to build that raft on Fir-Tree Pool. We’ll have a jolly 
time. Rollo ! Hunt’s going to help us, so we can get 
that big plank down now! Come on, Hunt!” 


He bounds away towards Rollo, and Mr. Hunt, watch¬ 
ing before he starts to follow, says: “Ah, pity there’s 
not more like you ! You ought to ha’ been one of them.” 
He scowls horribly in the direction of Lady Burdon, who 
is waving to the boys from the door. “One o’ them, 
you ought to ha’ been. Makes yer boil!” 




And there were three new friends who contributed to 
this happy, happy time and who came vitally to contrib¬ 
ute to later years. There were Japhra and Ima, who 
lived in a yellow caravan that was sometimes attached 
to that Maddox’s Monster Menagerie and Royal Circus 
with which Mr. Hannaford traded in little ’orses; and 
there was Dora, whose mother was that Mrs. Espart 
of Abbey Royal at Upabbot over the Ridge who — as 
Miss Oxford had told Lady Burdon — did not send her 
little girl to lessons with Miss Purdie because of the 
post-office little boy. 

Percival first met Japhra and Ima on a day not long 
after the end of Rollo’s first visit, when — his playmate 
gone — he was temporarily a little lonely. He came 
upon them by Fir-Tree Pool, stepped through the belt 
of trees that surround the pool and halted in much de¬ 
light at the entrancing sight his eyes gave him. 

Here was a yellow caravan with little curtained windows, 
a thing most pregnant of mysteries to eight-years-old. 
A big white horse, unharnessed from the van, was crop¬ 
ping the turf. There was an iron pot hanging above a 
jolly fire of sticks. On the steps of the van a girl of about 
Percival’s own age sat knitting. She was olive of face, 
with long, black hair; her legs were bare and they looked 
very long, Percival thought. By the fire, astride of a 



felled tree trunk, was a little man with a very brown face 
that was marked like a sailor’s with many puckered 
little lines. He had a tight-lipped mouth with a short 
pipe that seemed a natural part of it, and he wore a long 
jacket and had a high hat of some rough, brown fur. 
He was reading a book; and as Percival stood watching, 
he put a finger to mark his place and looked up slowly as 
though he had known Percival was there but wished to 
read to a certain point before interrupting himself. 

He looked up and Percival noticed that his eyes, set 
in that brown, puckered face, were uncommonly bright. 
“Welcome, little master,” said he. “All the luck!” 

“Hullo !” said Percival. “Excuse me staring. This 
is funny to me, you know.” 

“Quiet, though,” said the little man, his eyes twin¬ 
kling; “and that’s the best thing in life.” 

Percival came up to him, vastly attracted. “Do you 
live in that van?” 

“That’s where I live, little master — Ima and I.” 

Percival stared at the girl on the steps, who stared 
back at him and then smiled. “Ima? That’s a funny 
name,” he said. 

“Maybe she’s a funny girl,” said the little man, 
twinkling more than ever. 

Percival took it quite seriously. “Well, her legs are 
long,” he said appraisingly. 

“They can run, though, little master,” said the girl. 
She had a curiously soft voice, Percival noticed. But 
he was rather puzzled with it all and remained serious. 
“Is your name funny, too?” he asked the little man. 

The little man’s tight lips were stretched in what 
Percival came to know for his most advanced sign of 
amusement. He opened his lips very slightly when he 
spoke, and the short pipe that seemed to grow there did 



not appear at all to incommode his speech. “Why, try 
it for thyself,” said the little man, — “Japhra.” 

“Well, I’ve not heard it before, you know,” said Per- 
cival politely. “You don’t mind my asking questions, 
do you?” he added. “This is rather funny to me, you 
know.” s 

“Why, I’m a questioner myself, little master,” the 
little man assured him. “I’m questioning always. I 
go through life seeking an answer.” 

“What for?” asked Percival. 

“Why, that’s the question, little master,” said the 
little man. “What for? Who knows?” 

Percival regarded him with the same puzzled air that 
he sometimes gave to Aunt Maggie. “Well, if you 
don’t mind,” he said, “what are you, then?” 

Far from minding, Japhra seemed to like it. Twin¬ 
kling away: “Why, that’s another question I ask and 
cannot answer,” said he. “What is any man? One 
thing to one man and one thing to another — a riddle to 
himself, little master. But I can unriddle thee this 
much: Wintertime I am a tinker that mends folks’ 
pots and pans; Springtimes I am Punch-and-Judy-man 
that makes the children laugh; Summertimes I am a 
fighter that fights in the booths. I have been prize¬ 
fighter that fights with the knuckle; cattleman over the 
sea; jockey, and wrestler, and miner, and preacher once, 
and questioner since I was thy size; there’s unriddling 
for thee.” 

“It’s a good lot,” said Percival gravely. “What are 
you just now, please?” 

“Or a bad lot,” said Japhra. “Who knows? — and 
there’s the question again ! No escape from it.” He 
looked solemn for a moment and then twinkled again. 
“Just now a fighter, little master. To-morrow I join 


Boss Maddox’s circus for the summer with my boxing 

“Boss Maddox !” cried Percival. “Why, Mr. Stingo 
goes with Maddox’s circus. Do you know Mr. Stingo ? ” 

“None better,” said Japhra. “I am of Stingo’s 
crowd, as we say. Dost thou?” 

“I know him very well,” Percival declared. “I know 
his brother best. They call me a Pocket Marvel, you 
know; so I should like to know what you think of that ? ” 

“Why, I think that’s what thou art,” said Japhra. 
“A rare one. There were fairies at thy christening, 
little master.” 

“What for?” asked Percival and asked it so seriously 
that Japhra twinkled anew and replied: “Why, there’s 
the question again. What for? Why that sunny face 
they have given thee? and those fine limbs? and that 
straight back ? What for ? There’s some purpose in it, 
little master.” 

He looked strangely at Percival as though behind his 
twinkling he indeed questioned these matters and found, 
as he had said, a question in all he saw. But when he 
saw how mystified he held Percival, he stopped his 
searching look and asked: “Any more questions, little 
master ?” 

He had kept his finger on the open page of his book 
all this time; and Percival pointed and said: “Well, 
what are you reading, if you please?” and was told 
“Robinson Crusoe.” 

“Why, I’m reading that!” cried Percival in much 

“Then thou art reading one of the only three books 
a man wants,” said Japhra. “There’s ‘Pilgrim’s Prog¬ 
ress’ —” 

“I’ve read that too! In Mr. Amber’s library—” 



“And there’s the Bible.” 

“And that as well!” cried Percival. 

“Why,” said Japhra — not twinkling now, but grave 
— “why, then, thou hast read the beginning and end of 
wisdom. Crusoe and Pilgrim and Bible — those are the 
books for a man. I read them and read them and always 
read them new. They are the books for a questioner, 
and thou art that amain. And they are the books for 
a fighter, and that is thy part. I have unriddled thee so 
far, little master. I know the fighting type. Mark me 
when the years come. A fighter, thou.” 

He placed a blade of grass in “Robinson Crusoe” 
and put the volume beneath his arm. He got up and 
took Percival’s small hand in his horny fist. “Come 
thou and see my van, little master,” said he. “We are 
friends — thou and I and Ima here.” And then he 
twinkled again. “ And why ? What brought thee whom 
the fairies attended and that has read the books and is 
the fighting type? What brought thee here? Why, 
there’s the question again !” 

It was the beginning of Percival’s chiefest friendship 
of them all. In the rare proper seasons that followed 
one another through this the happy, happy time, the 
van came more and more frequently Lethamwards. 
Summertimes it was away with Stingo’s crowd in Mad¬ 
dox’s Monster Menagerie and Royal Circus. But 
Wintertimes it would come tinkering, and sometimes re¬ 
main a week or more snow-bound, and Springtimes Punch- 
and-Judying through the Burdon hamlets; and these 
were happy, happy times indeed. There was all Japhra’s 
lore, all his dimly understood “questioning” to hear; 
and all his stories of his strange and varied life; and all 
his reading aloud from his three books, who could read 
them and put a meaning into them as none other could. 



And there was the boxing to learn, with Percival a very 
apt and eager pupil and Japhra insistent that it was a 
proper game — the only proper game for a man. And 
once every summer there was the visit of Maddox’s 
Monster Menagerie and Royal Circus to Great Letham, 
where Percival, — introduced by Japhra, sponsored by 
Stingo, — was made enormously welcome by rough, odd 
van folk who were of “ Stingo’s crowd.” He learnt the 
sharp and growing difference between Stingo’s crowd and 
Boss Maddox’s men. Boss Maddox was boss and of 
increasing wealth and weight: attracting showmen to 
his following from many parts of the country and in¬ 
corporating them in his business, but unable to win the 
allegiance of the little knot of independents who called 
Stingo “ Boss,” and hating them for it. Rough, odd men 
who made an immense deal of Percival and had rough, 
odd names: Old Four-Eyes, who wore spectacles and 
had a Mermaid and a Mummified Man; Old One-Eye, 
whose left eye was gone and had a . Wild West Rifle 
Range; Old ’Ave One, who was given to drink (“ ’Ave 
one, mate?”) and had the Ring ’em where Yer Like — 
A Prize fer All; and the rest of them. Percival never 
mixed with the Maddox crowd but once, when he boxed, 
and to the immense delight of Japhra and all the Stingo 
men, defeated, a red-haired, skinny youth of his own age, 
whom Boss Maddox was introducing to the public as the 
Boy Wonder Pugilist. “ Looks like a fox to me,” Perci¬ 
val said aloud, when he first saw the Boy Wonder. The 
Boy Wonder heard, and the men who stood about heard 
and laughed; there certainly was a foxy look about the 
Juvenile Wonder’s cunning face with its red head. The 
Wonder furiously resented the remark and the laughter; 
expressed a desire to shut Percival’s mouth; succeeded 
in shutting one of his eyes, but was certainly beaten. 



He became Percival’s first enemy — and chance set 
aside the first enemy for further use. 


Ima, when the van came Lethamwards, was Percival’s 
first girl friend, and chance had use also in store for her. 
She was a strange, quiet, very gentle thing, but one that 
could run, as she had told him, and bold and active stuff 
for any ramble. With odd ways, though. 

“Ima, you do look at me an awful lot,” Percival told 
her in the early days, catching her large eyes fixed upon 

“Well, thou art not like other boys I see,” she told him; 
and a little while after she asked him, “Dost thou know 
little ladies with white skins like thine, little master ?” 

“I’m brown !” said Percival indignantly. 

She shook her head. “But little ladies?” 

“I know one,” said Percival. “White ! Well, you’d 
stare if you saw her, Ima. Snow-White-and-Rose-Red, 
I call her,” and in his tone was something akin to the 
mingled admiration and awe with which small school¬ 
boys speak of their cricket captain. 

She was silent for a moment; then, “Well, tell me, 
little master,” she said. 

It was of Dora that he told her. 

When Lady Burdon had returned that call paid on 
her by Mrs. Espart from Abbey Royal she had been as 
greatly captivated by Dora as she had been taken by 
Dora’s mother. She found in Mrs. Espart a curiously 
cold and high-bred air that appealed to her — being a 
quality she was at pains to cultivate in herself — and 
appealed the more in that it very graciously unbent 
towards her. Its unbending was explainable by the 



quality that, for her own part, she presented to Mrs. 
Espart — that of her rank and station. 

Mrs. Espart had been married in her teens, brought 
from school for the purpose, by a mother whose whole 
conception of duty in regard to her daughters was wealthy 
marriage, and who had fastened upon it in this case in 
the person of Mr. Espart — a nice little man, an indiffer¬ 
ently bred little man, but a most obviously well-pos¬ 
sessed little man. The girl was hurriedly fetched from 
her finishing school, whirled through a headachy fort¬ 
night of corseting and costuming, and put in Mr. Espart’s 
way and then in his possession with the docility of one 
educated from childhood for such a purpose. Used as 
a woman who never had realised there was a life beyond 
the cloisters bounded by lessons in deportment, in the 
nice languages and the nice arts; as a wife who never 
yet had been a child but always a young lady, Mrs. 
Espart discovered that she was mated with a vulgarian, 
Mr. Espart that he had married, as he expressed it, “a 
frozen statue.” She thought of him and despised him as 
the one; he thought of her, feared her, and adored her 
as the other. The chill she struck into his mind commu¬ 
nicated itself in some way to his bones, and very shortly 
after he had bought Abbey Royal — her command being 
that he should nurse the local political interests, enrich 
the Party from his coffers and so win her the social 
status her sisters had — he began to shrivel and incon¬ 
tinently died — frozen. 

Mrs. Espart proceeded to bring up the child born of 
this marriage precisely as she had herself been brought 
up,— in narrow cloisters, that is to say, in dutiful obe¬ 
dience and for the ultimate purpose of suitable marriage. 
She repeated in Dora’s training the training she had re¬ 
ceived from her own mother, its object the same, with this 



difference — that whereas in her case that object was a 
wealthy match, in Dora’s — Mr. Espart having made 
wealth unnecessary — it was position. Time was ab¬ 
surdly young for any plans when Mrs. Espart first met 
Lady Burdon, but plans had crossed her mind when she 
drove out to leave cards at the Manor: she had heard of 
Rollo. She made Lady Burdon very welcome when Lady 
Burdon came. ■ 

Dora was two years younger than Rollo, Lady Bur¬ 
don found. When, on the occasion of this visit, she was 
brought to the drawing-room — a strikingly pretty child 
in a curiously unchildish way—she already showed marks 
of the machinery that ordered her life. She was curi¬ 
ously prim, that is to say, of noticeably trained deport¬ 
ment ; curiously self-assured and yet not childishly frank; 
curiously correct of speech and with a dutiful trick of 
adding “Mamma” to every sentence she addressed to her 

She was her mother’s child; similarly trained; simi¬ 
larly developing. “A very well brought-up child,” as 
Lady Burdon afterwards commented to her husband, 
and noted in her also the strong promise of the beauty 
that later years were to realise. She was to be notably 
tall and was already slim and shot-up for her years; 
she was to be notably fair of complexion and showed 
already a wonderful mildness and whiteness of skin, 
curiously heightened by the little flush of colour that 
warmed in a sharply defined spot on either cheek. Lady 
Burdon rallied her once during their conversation—the 
subject was French lessons, which it appeared she found 
“Terribly puzzling, Lady Burdon, do I not, Mamma?” 
and her face responded by a curious deepening of the 
red shades, her cheeks and brow gaining a hue almost 
of transparency by contrast. 



It was that quality and that characteristic that made 
Percival — meeting her when she was brought over to 
tea with Rollo — call her, as he told Ima, Snow-White- 

The name was from his fairy book, and to his mind 
fitted exactly this fragile and well-behaved and reserved 
Miss who he thought was the most beautiful thing he 
had ever seen. It fitted her more surely yet when he 
came to know her when she was fourteen and just re¬ 
turned, Rollo also having come to the Manor, for her first 
holidays from the highly exclusive school to which she 
was sent. 

By then the friendship between Lady Burdon and Mrs. 
Espart had grown to closest intimacy. They met, 
and Dora and Rollo met, intimately in London; and 
Abbey Royal was rarely closed when Burdon Old Manor 
was opened. Mrs. Espart had suffered to lapse that 
attitude towards the little post office boy which Lady 
Burdon had termed “ridiculous.” She never liked, and 
certainly never encouraged, Percival, but she accepted 
him as undetachable from Rollo, whom by now she en¬ 
couraged greatly in friendship with Dora, and it was thus 
that Dora at rare intervals contributed to these days of 
the happy, happy time. 

At fourteen she was actively advanced in her first 
term at the exclusive school by the machine that was 
shaping her. Strikingly now she promised, as always 
she had hinted, what should be hers when full maiden¬ 
hood was hers. The singular fairness of her complexion 
was the grace that first struck the observer; and with it 
was to be noticed immediately the curious shade on either 
cheek that flushed to a warm redness when she was ani¬ 
mated, and, flushing sharply within its limitations, sharply 
threw into relief the transparent fairness of her skin. 



Her head, small and most shapely, was poised with the 
light and perfect balance of a flower on its stem. Her 
features were small, proportioned as a sculptor would 
chisel the classic face — having the straight nose, the 
delicate nostrils, and the short upper lip of high beauty. 
Her eyes were well-opened, strangely dark for her fair 
colouring, well-lit, with the light and shade and softness 
of dew on a dark pansy when the sun first challenges the 
flowers at daybreak. Her abundant hair, soberly dressed 
in a soft plait that reached her waist, was of a dull gold 
that in some lights went to burnished brass. She was 
poised upon her feet with the flower-grace of her head 
upon her throat. She was of such a quality and an air 
that you might believe the very winds would divide 
to give her passage, afraid to touch and haply soil so 
rare a thing. 

Percival in these days went beyond even his first won¬ 
der at her. He had never believed there could be such 
a beautiful thing, and at their meetings he was very shy 
— regarding her with an admiration that was very ap¬ 
parent in his manner. He, certainly, if not the winds, 
had in her presence a feeling of necessity to be gentle 
with so rare and strange a thing. He could class her no¬ 
where except with Snow-White-and-Rose-Red; and to 
him that was her meetest class — belonging to a differ¬ 
ent race and to be indulged as an honoured guest should 
be; permitted to have caprices; expected to be strange. 

She came occasionally to tea at the Old Manor. The 
boys would take her then for a walk in the grounds — 
sometimes further afield. Percival, never free from the 
wonder she caused in him, always had much concern for 
her on these occasions. He constantly inquired if they 
were not going too far for her; he would always propose 
they should turn back if they came to a muddy lane. It 



happened once that a lane desperate in mud could not 
be avoided. He showed her the drier path against the 
hedge, but this was so narrow as to require some balanc¬ 
ing to keep it. 

“You must hold my hand,” he said. 

To shake hands with her had always been a matter of 
some diffidence. Now he was to support her while she 
picked her way. He took her little gloved hand in his. 
It lay warmly within his grasp; and concerned lest he 
should hurt so delicate a thing, he let it rest in his palm, 
passing his fingers about her wrist where there was bone 
to feel. 

“Tell me if I hurt you,” he said. “I’m trying not to 
— and not to splash” — and he trod carefully, above his 
boot soles in the mire. 

She told him: “You’re not, thank you. These lanes 
are wretched. I hate them.” 

Much of her weight was on him. There was a per¬ 
fume about her person, and it came to him pleasantly: 
he had never walked so close to her before. The soft 
plait of her hair was about her further shoulder, hanging 
down her breast. With her free hand she held her skirt 
raised and closely against her legs for fear of brambles in 
the hedge. Percival looked at her daintily-shod feet, 
picking their way, and he gave a funny little laugh. 

“What are you laughing at?” she asked him. 

“My boots — and yours. You must have funny 
little feet.” 

She half withdrew her hand. 

“I think you are the rudest boy I have ever met,” she 

“Oh, I didn’t mean to be rude,” Percival declared. 

She told him in her precise way: “You are rude, al¬ 
though you are nice in some ways. I think I have never 



known any one stare at me so frightfully as you stare. 
I have seen you often staring.” 

Percival gave for explanation: “If I stare, it’s because 
I’ve never seen any one like you.” 

She gave the slightest toss of her chin. 

He went on: “Do you know what I call you ? I call 
you Snow-White-and-Rose-Red.” 

He saw the blush shades on her cheek very slightly 
darken. It sounded a pleasant thing to be called. But 
she said: “It sounds stupid; what is it ?” 

“From a fairy tale. Don’t you know it ?” 

“I don’t care about reading.” 

“What do you like doing best of all?” 

“I think I like going for drives — and that; ” she half 
slipped and added, “I simply hate this.” 

“I’ve got you perfectly safe,” Percival assured her. 

She said nothing to that, either of doubt or thanks; 
and they finished the lane in silence. But when dry 
ground was reached and she withdrew her hand, she 
thanked him prettily. With Rollo — who had no wonder 
of her and whom she saw more frequently—she was on 
easy terms; and now the three walked back to the Old 
Manor more companionably than was usual with them. 
When Dora left, she surprised Percival by thanking him 
again; she surprised him more by showing him a little 
mark on her hand he had held and playfully protesting 
his grasp had caused it. Thereafter when they met she 
had a smile for him. 

* He liked that. 

She came to be very frequently in his mind, though why 
he did not know. Once he came to Aunt Maggie with a 
dream he had had of her. “The rummiest dream, Aunt 
Maggie. I dreamt I was chasing her, and chasing her, 
and calling her: ‘ Snow-White ! Snow-White ! Rose- 



Red ! Rose-Red ! ’ and every time I nearly caught her 
Rollo came up and caught hold of me, and away she went. 
And fancy ! I fought Rollo ! Aren’t dreams absurd ?” 

Aunt Maggie put her hand to her forehead. “ Was that 
the end, dear?” 

“Why, the end was more absurd than ever. Although 
I tried, I couldn’t hit Rollo — simply couldn’t. He hurt 
me, but I couldn’t do anything, and he threw me down 
and went off with Dora. Doesn’t it show how ridiculous 
dreams are ? Fancy dear old Rollo being stronger than 
me ! Is your head hurting, Aunt Maggie ?” 

“Just a shoot of pain — it’s gone now.” 

While he described his dream, and while she pictured 
it, one of those flutterings had run up violently in her 
brain. It passed, but left its influence. “Absurd!” 
she agreed. “If ever you did quarrel with him —” 

Percival laughed. “I never could, in any case.” 

“Are you very fond of him, Percival ?” 

Rollo was returning to London that day. “I simply 
hate his going away,” Percival said. “I wish to good¬ 
ness he lived here always. He wishes it, too.” 




It happened that within a very short time of that wish 
it was granted. Burdon House in Mount Street was let; 
Burdon Old Manor was permanently occupied. 

This began in a visit that Lady Burdon, very decidedly 
out of temper, paid to Mr. Pemberton at the office 
in Bedford Row. Relations between Lady Burdon and 
the little old lawyer had radically altered since that 
occasion of their first meeting at Miller’s Field. Mr. 
Pemberton, who in these years had relinquished to his 
son all the business save the cherished Burdon affairs, 
had long been aware that the misgivings which had 
clouded his first happy impression of Lady Burdon had 
been the juster estimate of her character. He had per¬ 
ceived the dominance she exercised over her indulgent 
husband; he had accepted, after what protest he dared, 
that the management of the estate was in her hands. 
He had foreseen the fruits of the wilfulness of a woman 
thrown out of balance by the sudden acquisition of place 
and possessions; it was because these fruits were now 
being plucked that he preferred to keep the Burdon 
affairs in his own hands. He could not bear the thought 
of handing over to his son this honoured trust in shape 
that would cause a lifting of the eyebrows: “Father, 
I’ve been going through the Burdon papers. I say, 



20 5 

they seem in a precious bad way ... I don’t under¬ 
stand. . . .” 

He could not endure the thought of that. 

On this day when Lady Burdon came angrily — and 
defiantly — to Bedford Row, the position was raised 
very acutely between them. 

“I know — I know,” Mr. Pemberton was saying. 
“But, Lady Burdon, you must perceive the possibility 
— nay, in the circumstances, the extreme probability — 
that though Lord Burdon countenances in the smallest 
particular all you find it necessary to spend — and on the 
property not to spend — he yet may not appreciate the 
state of affairs — the imperative necessity that a halt 
be called. I have written to him frequently. The re¬ 
plies come from you.” 

She parted her lips to speak, but he had already had 
sufficient taste of her mood to make him hasten with: 
“I know. I know. Lord Burdon has told us both that 
he hates business and that he likes to encourage you in 
the pleasure you find in it. That is admitted, Lady 
Burdon. We have no quarrel there. My point is — 
how far is Lord Burdon to be suffered to indulge his 
dislike? how long is he to be kept in ignorance? I 
think no longer. That is why I purpose making a call 
on him. I purpose it, again, because I believe Lord 
Burdon’s influence — when he understands — may join 
with mine to move you, where mine alone causes you 

He indicated the papers that littered the table. “You 
see the position. I tell you again — I tell you with all 
the seriousness of which I am capable — that the crash is 
as near to you as I am near to you sitting here. I tell 
you that it is not to be averted unless for a period — 
a mere few years — Burdon House is given up. It 



will let immediately on a short lease. There, alone, * 
will be more than relief — assistance. It will save you 
much that you now find necessary — there is the relief 
of the whole situation.” 

She broke out: “It would never have come to this 
but for .the cost of this irrigation scheme on the Burdon 
property. That is your doing — yours and Mr. Max¬ 
well’s. I tell you again I was amazed — amazed when 
I heard of it.” 

“And I have reminded you, Lady Burdon, that when 
I approached you in the matter you desired not to be 
troubled with it. I had often and often urged it upon 
you. This time you said it was to be left entirely to our 
discretion — Maxwell’s and mine.” 

“I shall repudiate the contract. The work is not 
begun. You can get out of it as best you can.” 

He said very quietly, “That is open to you — of 
course.” He paused and she did not speak, and he 
went on. “You would have no case, I think. The 
authority is too clear. But I do not mind saying I 
would try to get out of the contract or —. Our firm 
could not be involved in a lawsuit against the house we 
have served these generations.” He dropped his voice 
and said more to himself than to her : “No—no. Never 
that!” He looked up at her and assumed a cheerful 
note: “You have to think of your son, you know, Lady 
Burdon. What is he to come into ? This irrigation 
scheme will be the making of the property — the land 
cries for it. If you can cut off the Burdon House estab¬ 
lishment for a few years, young Mr. Rollo will have 
reason to bless you when in process of time he assumes 
the title. If you decide —” 

She rose abruptly : “I must be going.” 

Mr, Pemberton hobbled after her down the stairs to 



attend her to her carriage. A bitter wind was blowing. 
The coachman was walking the horses up and down. 
The footman who waited in the doorway, rugs on arm, 
ran into the street and beckoned to him. Lady Burdon 
watched the carriage, tapping her foot on the ground 
and frowning impatiently. A large piece of pink paper 
came blowing down the pavement, somersaulting along 
in a ridiculous fashion — heels over head, heels over 
head, grotesquely like a performing tumbler. 

“Cold!” said Mr. Pemberton, briskly, rubbing his 
hands together. “Very cold !” 

She made no reply. She was much out of temper. 
She was considerably beset. She was stiffening with an 
angry determination against abandoning her life in town. 
She was freshly aroused against Mr. Pemberton for his 
devoted loyalty to her husband’s house — he had stung 
her by the manner of his acceptance of her threat to 
repudiate the contract; and by his reference to Rollo 
— he had hit her there. 

The tumbling paper — a newspaper contents bill she 
could see—flung itself flat a few yards from them, throw¬ 
ing out its upper corners as it came to rest, for all the 
world like an exhausted tumbler throwing out his arms. 
The carriage drew up. 

With a foot on the step: “You need not call on Lord 
Burdon till I have written to you — to arrange a date,” 
she said. 

Mr. Pemberton replied: “I certainly will not. I 
will await your letter, Lady Burdon.” 

She settled herself in her seat, drawing her furs about 
her. He was certainly a doddering old figure as he stood 
there — shrunken in the face, bent in the body, his few 
white hairs tumbled in the wind. 

“ Your house is very dear to me, Lady Burdon,” he 



went on. “You must believe I act only in your best in¬ 
terests — in what I believe to be — ” 

She nodded to the footman, turned towards her from 
the box, and the carriage began to move. The tumbler 
contents bill leapt up with an absurd scurry, somer¬ 
saulted down to them, and flung itself flat with a ridiculous 
air of exhaustion. 

“Tragedy in the House of Lords,” she read idly, and 
drove away. 


Lady Burdon drove straight home. She arrived to 
be apprised she was concerned in the “Tragedy in the 
House of Lords” that the tumbler bill had brought 
somersaulting down the street. As the carriage drew 
up, a maid hurried down the steps and gave her the news : 
“His lordship” — the girl was scared and breathless 
— “His lordship, my lady — taken ill in the House of 
Lords — fell out of his seat in a faint — brought him 
home in Lord Colwyn’s carriage—carried him up-stairs, 
my lady — fainted or — a doctor is with him, my lady.” 

Lady Burdon wrestled with the confused sentences, 
staring at the girl, not moving. “Fainted or—” 

She threw back the rug from about her lap and sprang 
from the carriage. A newsboy rushing down the street 
almost ran into her, and she had to stand aside to give 
him passage. Her eye caught the pink bill fluttering 
against him where he held it: “Tragedy in the House of 

God ! The tragedy was here. She ran swiftly up the 
steps and up the stairs. At the door of Lord Burdon’s 
room terror leapt at her like a live thing so that she 
staggered back a step and could not turn the handle. 



“Fainted or — ?” She caught her hand to her bosom, 
her poor heart beat so. She had a vision of him dead, 
being carried up the steps. There flashed with it a 
vision that showed him tired after lunch and her saying : 
“If you knew how elegant you look, lounging there! 
You ought to go to the House. You never go. You 
can sleep thereand he saying, “Right-o, old girl.” 

Sleep there? Had she driven him to die there? 
Fainted or — ? ” 

She entered the room. A man wearing a frock-coat 
stood by the dressing-table. She stared, and stared 
beyond him to the bed. She put her hand to her throat 
and strangled out the word “Maurice!” The man 
turned to her and began to speak. She ran past him and 
flung herself beside the bed and took Lord Burdon’s 
hand and pressed it to her face. She burst into a ter¬ 
rible sobbing, raining tears upon the hand she held. 
From the threshold she had seen the eyes open, the 
faint twist of a smile of greeting upon the white, pained 

Alive! That was sufficient! For the moment, in 
the first agony of her distress, she required nothing more. 
Between the recovery from her first shock at the news, 
and the terror that had held her back when she reached 
his door, remorse, like bellows at the forge, quicked her 
every memory of him to burning irons within her. Hap¬ 
pen what might, she was to be suffered to slake their 

She felt the hand she held move in her grasp. It 
was his signal of response to her sympathy. He said 
very weakly, in an attempt at the old tone: “Made an 
— awful ass — of — myself, old — girl.” He groaned 
and breathed: “ O God ! Pain — pain ! ” 

She would not speak to the doctor. She desired 



nothing but to be left there holding that hand, feeling 
it move for her and pressing it against her face that was 
buried upon it when it moved. She desired to be told 
nothing, to do nothing. This was between him and her 
—let them be left to it while yet they could be left! A 
procession of pictures was marching through her mind. 
In each she saw herself in a scene of her neglect of him 
or her impatience with him. She had the feeling that 
while she might hold that hand and feel it move, each 
picture would pass — atoned for, forgiven, erased. 
This was between him and her — let them be left to it 
while yet they could be left! 

Movements, the opening and closing of the door, 
whispering voices, came to her. Some one touched her. 
She shook herself at the touch and crouched lower. 
This was between him and her ! — for pity’s sake ! — 
if you have pity, let us be left to it while yet we can be 

The movements continued. They seemed to be clos¬ 
ing about her — impatiently waiting for her. They 
began to force themselves upon her attention so that her 
mind must leave its pictures and distinguish them. She 
crouched lower ... if you have pity! She heard stiff 
rustlings and fancied a nurse was in the room. She heard 
a heavier step and presently felt a touch that seemed to 
command obedience. 

She raised her head — A nurse, the man she had first 
seen, another man — older. He pointed at the figure 
on the bed and motioned with his head towards the door. 
Maurice seemed to sleep. She rose with a little shudder¬ 
ing gasp and looked at them, twisting her hands together 
— if they had pity ! . . . what did they require of her ? 

The older man was bending over the bed, whispering 
with the younger. The nurse came to her, smiling gently, 



and nodded towards him: “Sir Mervyn Aston. He 
will speak to you outside. Will you not leave us just a 
moment? Quite all right.” 

She remembered the name. It was the specialist 
Maurice had sometimes consulted. She had not both¬ 
ered much about it: but she remembered the name. Sir 
Mervyn looked towards her and moved across the room. 
She looked again at the bed. The nurse nodded brightly. 
She followed Sir Mervyn to the door. 

“Down-stairs,” he said, and trod heavily down before 
her. He was a great man and took the privilege of bad 
manners. In the library he turned to her: “Did you 
send for me?” She had not expected that. She had 
expected sympathy — at least information. She stared 
at him, momentarily surprised out of her grief. His 
face was stern; she believed his manner accused her. 

“No,” she said. 

“You expected this?” 

Expected it! Of what could he be thinking ? 

“IVe told Lord Burdon repeatedly that this life — 
I’ve warned him again and again to get out of it. Hasn’t 
he told you?” J * 

Now she knew that he was accusing her. She never 
had cared to listen when Maurice told her he had been to 
Harley Street. She stood twisting her hands together, 
nervous before this brusque man. 

“Hasn’t he told you ?” 


He looked sharply at her. He was a great man and 
had learned to read between the lines that his fashionable 
patients presented him. “A pity,” he said briefly. 
“This might have been averted for many years.” 

“Tell me” — she said, and could say no more: “tell 
me —” 



His tone became a little kinder. “We must hope for 
the best, you know. There is always that. I will 
look in again at midnight. They are making him quite 
comfortable up-stairs.” 

He said a little more that she did not catch. Presently 
she realised that he had left her. “ This might have been 
averted for many years ! ” She ran to a bureau and fum¬ 
bled frantically for pen and paper. She was in a sudden 
panic to do one thing that she believed would soften that 
dreadful sentence if the worst came. She was in a panic 
to get it done before there might be a sound from above 
and a horrid running down the stairs. She found her 
writing materials. Pen in hand she listened, trembling 
violently. No sound ! As quickly as she could write 
she scrawled to Mr. Pemberton: “I have decided. We 
are going to Burdon Old Manor at once. Make arrange¬ 
ments to let the house, please.” 

Whatever happened now, she had begun her share of 
the bargain she prayed to press on death. If death 
would spare him, she would devote her life to him ! 

As she was sealing the letter Rollo came in. He had 
been to a matinee with Mrs. Espart and Dora, at home 
for her holidays. Lady Burdon gave a little motherly 
cry at the sight of him and took him in her arms. 

They went up-stairs together. 

The doctor had gone. The nurse told her Lord Bur¬ 
don was asleep; but when she went to her former posi¬ 
tion on her knees beside the bed and took his hand again, 
he opened his eyes and his eyes smiled at her; and then 
dosed; he seemed desperately weary. 

She did not cry now. There was this bargain to be 
forced on death; and, as with the letter, so now with her 
promises, she was in a panic to get them done, believ¬ 
ing that if death — God, as she named it — might know 



all she offered to pay, he must accept the price and hold 
his hand. 

She was not the first that has believed death — or 
heaven — is open to a deal. 

Through the long evening she knelt there, Rollo with 
her. Thus and thus she promised — thus and thus 
would she do — thus and thus — thus and thus ! Mostly 
she bargained, frantically reiterating. At intervals 
she would turn to protest — protesting that her sin 
was very light for so heavy a threat. What had 
she done? She had done no wrong. She had no fla¬ 
grant faults — she was serenely good, as goodness is 
judged. She was devout — she was charitable. Only 
one little failing, heaven ! She had desired to enjoy 
herself, and enjoying herself had neglected him. But 
he did not care for the things she liked. Indeed he did 
not! He was happiest when she was happy. Indeed he 
was ! Yet she saw the error of her way. If he might 
be spared, heaven — thus and thus — thus and thus — 
thus and thus! 

Physical weariness overcame her as she heaped her 
promises, leading her mind astray and tricking it into 
nightmare dreams whence she would struggle with trem¬ 
bling limbs. The dreams took gross or strange forms. 
She would be running down the street pursued by the 
tumbler contents-bill, somersaulting behind. It caught 
her and fell flat, flinging out its armlike corners, and she 
saw it was Maurice. She stooped to him, and it was the 
bill again, gone from her on the wind. She pursued it, 
and saw it take semblance of Maurice, and pursued it 
with stumbling feet and could not catch it. 

She struggled from these horrors and found her mind 
again. She was intensely cold, she found. Sir Mervyn 
had come and was bending over her husband. Sir 



Mervyn nodded to her and sat down by the bed. She 
dared ask no questions. She crouched lower where she 
knelt. The night went on — Sir Mervyn still there. 
She prayed on — thus and thus ! thus and thus ! She 
was tricked into the nightmare dreams. She was with 
Rollo’s friend, Percival, and running to Rollo, who seemed 
in distress. A woman stopped them. She recognised 
in her the girl who had come with that claim to be Lady 
Burdon years before. The girl caught Percival and held 
him and Percival held her. She struggled to be free, for 
Rollo was calling her wildly. His cries grew louder, 
louder, louder, and burst as a real cry suddenly upon her. 

‘‘Mother! Mother!” 

She started up. Rollo was on his feet, bending tow¬ 
ards his father. 

“Lift! Lift!” Lord Burdon murmured. 

Sir Mervyn raised him. She clutched his hand. He 
rallied upon the strength of life’s last pulse and flutter, 
and smiled, and murmured, “Poor old girl!” 

Then she saw death come; and she turned and threw 
her arms about her son. 









Three women were counting the years now. The 
years were rolling up — curtain by curtain, like mists 
from a distant hillside; and behind them the ultimate 
prospects for which Lady Burdon waited, Mrs. Espart 
waited, and Aunt Maggie waited began to be revealed. 
Mrs. Espart had conveyed to Lady Burdon her ambition 
— formulated long ago — with regard to Dora and Rollo. 
Lady Burdon reckoned the union as very desirable and 
gave its consumation a first place among her aspirations 
for her Rollo. Aunt Maggie saw the hour of her re¬ 
venge approaching so that its years might now be esti¬ 
mated on the fingers of one hand. 

So near the desirable ends were approaching that the 
women began to name dates for their arrival. Youth, 
with only a few years lived and so enormous an exper¬ 
ience gained in those years (as youth believes), cannot 
endure the thought of planning ahead for a space that 
is a fair proportion of its whole lifetime. Five years is 
a monstrous, an insupportable period to youth that has 
lived but four times five or less. Age, with fewer years 
to live than have been lived, and with the knowledge of 


2 l8 


how little a decade has to show, will plan for five years 
hence with nothing near so much of sighs and groanings 
as youth will suffer if it must wait five months. 

The women began to name dates. Those very close 
friends, Lady Burdon and Mrs. Espart, spoke of dates 
frequently. Mrs. Espart and Dora had already “come 
into the family” as Mrs. Espart smilingly expressed it, 
when, at Lord Burdon’s death, and on being acquainted 
with her dear friend’s intention to let the Mount Street 
house on a short lease and retire to Burdon Old Manor, 
she had offered herself as lessee. The offer had been 
most gratefully, most gladly accepted. The great town 
house was made over to Mrs. Espart for a seven years’ 
term and thus, in Mrs. Espart’sphrase, “remainedin the 
family ” — ready for Rollo and Dora, as the ladies plotted. 

And now they were naming dates. “When Rollo is 
twenty-four,” Lady Burdon said to Mrs. Espart, come 
over from Abbey Royal to lunch at the Manor one day, 
“look, dear, he is just on twenty now. You know my 
plans. Next year he is to go to Cambridge. His ill¬ 
ness has thrown him back. But next year will be time 
enough. Three years at Cambridge, then, and that will 
bring him almost to twenty-three. Then I wish him to 
go abroad — to travel for a year. That is so good for a 
young man, I think. Then when he comes back he will 
be ready to settle down and he will come back just the 
age for that tradition of ours — celebrating comings-of- 
age at twenty-four instead of twenty-one. That would 
be so splendid for the wedding, wouldn’t it?” 

“Splendid!” Mrs. Espart agreed. “Splendid! 
That old Mr. Amber of yours was trying to tell me the 
other day how that twenty-four tradition arose. But, 
really, he mumbles so when he gets excited — !” 

“Oh, he’s hopeless,” Lady Burdon agreed. Her tone 


dismissed his name as though she found his hopelessness 
a little trying, and she went back to “Yes, splendid, 
won’t it be? When I look back, Ella, everything has 
gone wonderfully. From the very beginning, you know 
— the very beginning, I planned a good marriage for 
Rollo. It was so essential. To be your Dora — well, 
that makes it perfect; yes, perfect!” — and Lady Bur- 
don stretched out her hands and gave a happy little 
sigh as though she put her hands into a happy future and 
touched her Rollo there. 

“And I for Dora,” Mrs. Espart said. “From the 
very beginning, too, I arranged great matches for Dora in 
my mind. That it should be your Rollo,” — she gave a 
little laugh at her adaptation of the words — “that it 
should be your Rollo — why, really, perfect is the word ! ” 

They were silent for a space, enjoying the beauty of 
the hillside that the thinning years were disclosing. 

“You’ve never said anything to Rollo?” Mrs. Espart 

“Oh, no — no, not directly, anyway. It will come 
about naturally, I feel that. They are so much together. 
And in any case Dora — Dora is so wonderfully beautiful, 
Ella. I couldn’t conceive any man not falling in love 
with her. In a year or so’s time, developing as she is — 
why, you’ll change your mind perhaps— when they’re all 
worshipping her!” 

She laughed, and her laugh was very reassuringly re¬ 
turned. “But it is Rollo she will marry,” Mrs. Espart 
smiled. “With her it is as you say with him — it will 
come naturally. In any case — well, she is being brought 
up as I was brought up. She is dutiful. You find so 
many girls encouraged in independence nowadays. 
Nothing is so harmful for a girl ultimately, I think.” 

Lady Burdon nodded her agreement. “How happy 



Rollo will be!” she said, and spoke with a little sigh so 
caressingly maternal and with eyes so fondly beaming 
that Mrs. Espart put out a hand to touch her and told 
her, “I love your devotion to Rollo, Nellie.” 

“He is everything to me,” Lady Burdon said softly. 

‘ ‘ I know he is. Why, you look different again when you 
speak of him even ! Do you know, you were looking 
wretchedly ill when I came this morning, I thought.” 

“I had slept badly.” Lady Burdon looked hesitat¬ 
ingly at her friend as though doubtful of the expediency 
of some further words she meditated. Then, “I had 
my nightmare,” she said; and at the question framed on 
Mrs. Espart’s lips went on impulsively: “Ella, I’ve 
never told you about my nightmare. I think I shall. 
It worries me. Do you know, just after we came into 
the title a girl came to see me and said she was the former 
Lord Burdon’s wife.” 

“ No / What happened ?’ ’ 

“Oh, nothing, of course — nothing serious. I sent 
her away. She said she would bring proofs; but I never 
saw her again.” 

“You wouldn’t, of course. One of those creatures, 
I suppose,” and Mrs. Espart curled her lip distastefully 
and added: “I suppose some young men will do those 
things — no doubt that’s what it was; but it’s rather 
disgusting, isn’t it ? And how very horrible for you ! 
But, Nellie, where does the nightmare come in?” 

“With the girl,” Lady Burdon said and gave a little 
uneasy movement as though even the recollection worried 
her. “ With the girl. I dream of her whenever — that’s 
the odd thing — whenever something particular happens. 
See her just as I saw her then and say ‘I am Lady Bur¬ 
don,’ and she says ‘Oh, how can you be Lady Burdon ?* 


Then I get that dreadful nightmare feeling — you know 
what it is — and say ‘ I hold ! ’ and she says ‘ No, you do 
not—Nay, I hold !’ It’s too silly—but you know what 
nightmares are. And it only comes when something 
particular happens—or rather is going to happen. The 
night before we heard of old Lady Burdon’s death, that 
was once. Then the night before we came down here for 
that stay when Rollo met his friend Percival and we 
began to come regularly. Then the night my husband 
died.” She stopped, smiled because Mrs. Espart was 
smiling at her indulgently, as one smiles at another’s un¬ 
reasonable fears, but went on, “and now last night!” 

Mrs. Espart laughed outright: “Why, what a hollow 
moan, Nellie! — ‘and now last night!’ I’d no idea 
you were such a goose. You’ve let the silly thing get 
on your silly nerves.” 

“Only because things have always happened with it.” 

Her concern, however foolish, was clearly so genuine 
that Mrs. Espart changed banter for sympathetic re¬ 
assurance. “Why, Nellie, really you must be more 
sensible ! Why, dreaming it last night proves how silly 
it is. What’s happened to-day? Look, I’ll tell you 
what’s happened to-day, and it’s something to settle 
your wretched girl and your omens once and for all. 
She nightmared you last night and to-day we’ve settled 
how happy we are all going to be with our young folk 
married ! There ! Tell her that with my compliments 
if she ever comes again !” 

Her air was so brisk and stimulating that Lady Bur- 
don was made to laugh; and her facts were so convinc¬ 
ing that the laugh was followed by a little sigh of happi¬ 
ness, and Lady Burdon said: “Why, Ella, it’s funny, isn’t 
it, how in this life some things do go just as one wishes, 
for all that people say to the contrary?” 



That was to be proved. Down at “Post Offic,” while 
the ladies planned, a date was also being named. 



“But when? When?” Percival was saying to Aunt 
Maggie. “I’m eighteen — eighteen, but you still treat 
me like a child. I ought to be doing something. I’m 
just growing up an idler that every one will soon be 
despising. But when I tell you, you ask me to wait 
and say I’ve no need to be anxious and that I shall be 
glad I waited when I know what it is you are planning 
for me.” 

“You will be, Percival,” Aunt Maggie said. 

But he made an impatient gesture and cried again: 
“But when? When? That satisfied me when I was 
a boy. It doesn’t now. I’m not a boy any longer. 
That’s what you don’t seem to see.” 

That indeed he was boy no more was written very 
dearly upon him as he stood there demanding his fu¬ 
ture — not for the first time in these days. He was past 
his eighteenth birthday: his bearing and his expression 
graced him with a maturer air. The mould and the 
poise of head and body that as a child had caused a 
turning of heads after him were displayed with a tenfold 
greater attraction now that they adorned the frame of 
early manhood. There was about the modelling of his 
countenance that air of governance that is the first mark 
of high breeding. The outlines and the finish of his 
face were extraordinarily firm, as though delicate tools 
had cut them in firm wax that set to marble as each line 
was done. The chin was rounded from beneath and 
thrown forward; and to that firm upward round the 
lower jaw ran in a fine oval from where the small ears 


lay closely against the head; deeply beneath the jaw, 
cut cleanly back with an uncommon sweep, was set 
the powerfully modelled throat that denotes rare phys¬ 
ical strength. The eyes were widely opened, of a fine 
grey — unusually large and of a quality of light that 
seemed to diffuse its rays over all the brow. The fore¬ 
head was wide, with a clear, sound look. Outdoor life 
had tinted the face with the clean brown that only a 
fine skin will take; the hair was of a tawny hue and 
pressed closely to the scalp. He was of good height 
and he carried his trunk as though it were balanced on 
his hips — thrown up from the waist into a deep chest 
beneath powerful shoulders. He held his arms slightly 
away from his sides in the fashion of sailors and boxers 
whose arms are quick, tough weapons. After all this 
and of it all was a gay, alert air, as though he were ever 
poised to spring away at the call of the first adventure 
that came whistling down the road. His face was not 
often in repose. Ardent life was forever footing it 
merrily up and down his veins, delighting in motion and 
in its strength, and his face was the mirror of its dis¬ 

Just now, voiced in his “Pm growing up an idler that 
every one will soon be despising,” it was discovering 
restrictions that his brow mirrored darkly. “It’s not 
fair to me, Aunt Maggie,” he said. “I ought to be 
doing something for myself. I must be doing something 
for myself. But you put me off like a child. You tell 
me to wait and won’t even tell me what it is. You tell 
me to wait — when ? when ? ” 

Aunt Maggie said pleadingly: “Soon, Percival, 

“No, I’ve heard that — I’ve heard that!” he cried. 
“I want to know when.” 



She named her date. “When you are of age, dear. 
When you are twenty-one.” 

He cried: “Three years! Go on like this for three 
years more!” 

He swung on his heel and she watched him go tre¬ 
mendously down the path and through the gate. 




Percival took the highroad with the one desire to be 
alone — to walk far and to walk fast. The prodding of 
his mind that goaded him, “I’m growing — I’m losing 
time — I’m settling into a useless idler !” that tortured 
him he was in apron-strings and likely to remain there, 
produced a feverish desire to use all his muscles till he 
tired them. His feet beat the time — “I must do some¬ 
thing— I must do something!” and he swung them 
savagely and at their quickest. It was not sufficient. 
He was extraordinarily fit and hard; the level road, 
despite he footed it at his fiercest, could scarcely quicken 
his breathing. A mile from “Post Offic” he struck 
off to his right and breasted the Down, climbing its 
steepness with an energy that at last began to moisten 
his body and to give him the desired feeling that his 
strength was being exercised. “I must do something !” 
he spoke aloud. “I must — I can’t go on like this — 
I won’t!” and taxed his limbs the harder. If he must 
feel the chains that bound him in idleness, let him at 
least make mastery of his body and rebuke it till it 

At the crest of Plowman’s Ridge he paused and drew 
breath and turned his face to the wind that ever boomed 
along here and that had come to be an old friend that 
greeted his ears with its jovial, gusty Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! 




Far below him he could see “Post Offic” with its gar¬ 
den running to the wood. From his distance it had the 
appearance of a toy house enclosed by a toy hedge, the 
toy trees of the wood rigid and closely clipped like the 
painted absurdities of a child’s Noah’s Ark. As he 
looked, a tiny figure came from the house and went a 
pace or two up the garden and seemed to stand and stare 
towards him up the Ridge. Aunt Maggie, he was sure, 
and had a sudden wave of tenderness towards her, look¬ 
ing so tiny and forlorn down there. He remembered 
with a prick at heart that, even in the heat of his anger 
in the parlour half-an-hour ago, he had noticed how 
small she looked as she stood pathetically before him, 
gently replying to his impatience. He thought to wave 
to her with his handkerchief, but knew she could not see 
him. He remembered — and another prick was there 
— that she had said, seeking, no doubt, to win a moment 
from his violence, “Do you see my eyeglasses, dear? 
I’m getting so shortsighted, Percival.” He flushed to 
recollect he had disregarded her words and had threshed 
ahead with his “It’s not fair to me — not fair to me, keep¬ 
ing me here doing nothing!” He had been unkind — 
he was unkind — and she was so small, so gentle, so 
loving, so tender to his every mood. 

But that very thought of her — how small she was, 
how gentle — that had begun to abate his warring mood, 
returned him suddenly to its conflicts. That was just 
it ! — so small, so gentle, so different from him in every 
way that she could not understand his situation and 
could not be reasoned with. No one understood ! No 
one seemed to realise how he was growing, and how blank 
the future, and hence what he was growing. They 
all laughed at him when he spoke of it. 

They all laughed ! Mr. Purdie laughed — Mr. Purdie 


had laughed and said, “Oh, you’re not a man yet, Per- 
cival!” and had given his absurd, maddening chuckle. 

“His silly, damned chuckle!” cried Percival to old 
friend wind at the top of a wilder burst of resentment 
against the world in general and for the moment against 
Mr. Purdie in particular. 

Rollo laughed — Rollo had laughed and declared: 
“Oh, don’t start on that, Percival! That’ll be all right 
when the time comes.” 

“When the time comes ! Good lord ! The time has 
come,” Percival told old friend wind. “It’s slipping 
past every day. All very well for old Rollo — all cut 
and dried for him. For me ! I’m to be idling here 
when he goes to Cambridge, am I? And idling like a 
great lout when he comes back !” 

Lady Burdon laughed — they all laughed, thinking 
him foolish, not realising. Ah, they would laugh in 
another way — and rightly so — when they did realise, 
when they saw him standing among them idle, useless, 
helpless, dependent on Aunt Maggie. They would all 
laugh — they would all despise him then. Every¬ 
body. . . . 


As he came to that thought — visioned some distorted 
picture of himself, overgrown, hands in pockets in the 
village street, and all his friends going contemptuously 
past him — there came a sudden change in old friend 
wind that for a moment left him vacant, then somehow 
changed his thoughts anew. Old friend wind, that had 
been buffeting him strongly in keeping with his turbu¬ 
lent mood, dropped, and he was in silence; then came with 
a different note and bringing a scent he had not appre¬ 
hended while it went rushing by. Nothing odd that he 



should be responsive to this change. The wind on 
Plowman’s Ridge was old friend wind to him, and every¬ 
body who is friends with the wind knows it for the live 
thing that it is — the teller of strange secrets whispered 
in its breezes, the shouter of adventures thundered in 
its gales. Who lies awake can hear it call “ Where are 
you? Oh, where are you?” — who climbs the hill to 
greet it, it welcomes “Welcome — ho!” Sometimes, 
to those who are friends with it, it comes lustily booming 
along in high excitement (“This way! This way! 
There’s the very devil this way!”); sometimes softly 
and mysteriously tiptoeing along, finger on lip (“Listen ! 
Listen ! Listen ! Hush — now here’s a secret for 

In this guise it came to him now — dropped him down 
from the turbulence of spirit to which it had contributed, 
caught him up and led him away upon the cloudy paths 
of the scent it gave him. The fragrance it bore in this 
its whispering mood stirred, in that quick and certain 
manner that scents arouse, associations linked with such 
a fragrance. There was in the scent some hint of the 
perfume that was always about Dora; and immediately 
he was carried to thought of her. . . . 

She to see him idler ! She to pass him by contemptu¬ 
ously ! His mental vision presented her before him as 
clearly as if she were here beside him on the Ridge. He 
saw her perfect features, with their high, cold expression; 
the transparent fairness of her skin; that warm shade of 
colour on either cheek that, as though she saw him watch 
her, deepened with their strange attraction even as he 
visioned her. He visioned her clearly. He could have 
touched her had he stretched a hand. And he was 
caused — he knew no reason for it — a slight trembling 
and a slight quickening of his breath. 


She to see him idler ! . . . In rebuke of such a thought 
he released his mind to wild and undisciplined flights 
that showed himself the champion of tremendous feats 
— of arms, of heroism, of physical prowess — perform¬ 
ing them beneath the benison of her eyes, returning from 
them to receive her smiles. ... 

For a considerable space he stood lost among these 
clouds. They had drifted upon him suddenly. He 
found them delectable. Then he began to find them 
strange and puzzling — scenes that were meaningless, 
sensations that could not be determined. It is to be 
remembered of him that, though he was now advanced 
to the period when the sap is up in youth and quicken¬ 
ing in his veins, he did not pursue the life nor was he of 
the nature that encourages the amorous designs. A slug¬ 
gish habit of mind and body is the soil to nurture these: 
he was alert and braced, eager and sound from foot to 
brain — a thing all fibre and fearless, whose only quest 
was what should give him the challenge of movement, of 
light, and ring back tough and true when he taxed it. 
No room was here, then, for the disturbances that sex 
throws up; and yet these very qualities that such dis¬ 
turbance could not undermine conspired to arouse him 
very mightily when he should turn him to enquire what 
this disturbance was, and discovering, should launch 
himself upon it. 

He was near to the brink of that launching now. Dora 
with her rare beauty always had exercised upon him a 
feeling different from any he commonly knew; he never 
yet had troubled to suppose that it was caused by any 
emotion outside his normal life. She had astonished 
him by her grace of form and feature on that day when 
he had discovered her to be Snow-White-and-Rose-Red 
of the fairy book. Thereafter she had remained to him 



a delicately beautiful object — set apart from the ordi¬ 
nary fashion of persons he knew; not to be treated quite 
as he treated them; a very dainty thing, making him 
aware of the, contrast that his own sturdy figure, strong 
limbs, brown face, and hard young hands presented. 
As a boy he had always been caused a manner of awe in 
her presence; as he grew older the awe went back to the 
sheer admiration that she had caused in him at their 
first meeting. Out of her company, in the long months 
that frequently separated her visits, he rarely thought 
of her; though sometimes — and he had no reason for 
it — he would find her pretty figure in his mind or in 
his dreams. When he reencountered her, the admira¬ 
tion sprang afresh; he liked to watch her face, to stand 
unnoticed and expect, then see, her cold smile part her 
lips, or those strange shades of colour deepen and glow 
upon her cheeks; he liked in little unobserved ways to 
protect her as he had protected her that day in the muddy 
lane; it caused him a strange rapture to have her thank 
him for any service. 


These were his relations to her through the years. He 
never had thought to analyse them nor question why 
he so regarded her — never till now. Now for the first 
time as he stood on Plowman’s Ridge he mused among 
the misty tangle of the sensations that old friend wind 
had brought, lost and astray among the visions pre¬ 
sented to his mind by estimate of how Dora would con¬ 
sider his idle plight — now for the first time he suddenly 
questioned himself what she was to him. 

He was all unused to the sensations in which, by an 
effort recalling himself from his musings, he found him- 


self suffused. They were all — that slight trembling 
and that slight quickening of his breath that possessed 
him — foreign to his nature, and he made a sharp move¬ 
ment as though they were tangible and visible things 
that he would shake from about him. Useless ! — they 
had him wrapped. . . . Quicker his trembling, and his 
breath quicker. What was she to him ? Up sprang 
the answer, answering with a triple voice that demanded 
his acknowledgment. Up sprang the answer, causing 
him a physical thrill as though indeed there burst at last 
from within him some essence that had been too long 
held and now was loosed like fire through his veins. 
With a triple voice, clamouring he should recognise it! 
What was she to him ? Her face and figure stood in all 
their beauty before his mental eye — that was one voice 
and he trembled anew to hear it. What was she to 
him ? Memory of a light speech of Rollo on the pre¬ 
vious day came flaming to his mind: “And mother, I 
believe, has a plot with Mrs. Espart that I shall marry 
Dora then and settle down” — that was a second voice 
and stung him so that he knit his brow. What was she 
to him ? Of them all — of all who would laugh and have 
him in scorn when he was taskless idler — bitterest, 
most intolerably goading, that she should hold him so — 
that was the third voice and drew from him a sharp in¬ 
take of the breath as of one that has touched hot iron. 

What was she to him? In triple voice he had the 
answer, demanding his acknowledgment, clamouring 
for his recognition. By a single word he signed the 
bond. None was by to listen, and yet he flushed; there 
was none to overhear, and yet he spoke scarcely above a 
whisper. He just breathed her name — “Dora!” 

An intense stillness came about him. He stood en¬ 
raptured, all his senses thrilled. Out of the stillness, 



echo of his whisper, seemed to come her name of Dora ! 
Dora! Dora! floating about him as petals from the 
bloomy rose. He raised his face to their caress and was 
caught up In sudden ecstasy — believed he was with 
her, touching her; and saw and felt her stoop towards 
him, bringing her perfume to him as the may-tree stoops 
and sheds its fragrance when first at dawn the morning 
breathes in spring. 


So for a space he stood etherealised — awed and atrem- 
ble; youth brought suddenly through the gates and 
into the courts of love where the strong air at every 
tremulous breath runs like wine to the brain, to the heart 
like some quick essence. For a space he stood so; then 
was aware that old friend wind was up again and drum¬ 
ming Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! upon his ears as one that mocks. 

What was she to him? The answer, now he had it, 
stirred to wilder tumult the feelings that had brought 
him turbulently breasting up the Ridge. He looked 
again towards “Post Offic,” toylike below, and had no 
tender thought for it — bitter vexation instead, as of 
the captive who goes to fury at the chains that bind 

That he should submit to be thus chained, thus apron¬ 
stringed ! That Dora should laugh ! That she should 
know him idler! Goading thoughts — maddening 
thoughts, and he flung himself, bruising himself, against 
them as the captive against his prison walls. That she 
should laugh! It should not be! It was not to be 
endured! He threw up his head in determination’s 
action, his hands clenched, his body braced, resolve 
upon his angry brow. 


Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! drummed old friend wind — Ha ! Ha ! 

He gave a half cry and turned and strode away along 
the Ridge, taking the direction that led him from home, 
and exerting himself under new impulse of the desire to 
rebuke his body and haply ease his mind. 




An hour at that pace brought him above Great Letham, 
clustered below. He paused irresolutely. From among 
the roofs, as it were, a crawling train emerged. He 
watched it worm its way along the eastward vale, then 
abruptly turned his back upon it as upon a thing more 
fortunate than he — not bound down here, as he was 
bound. Brooding upon the landscape, he suddenly became 
aware of a thin wisp of smoke that pointed up like a 
grey finger from the valley beneath him. It mounted in 
a steady, wand-like line from the belt of trees that marked 
Fir-Tree Pool, and its site and its appearance braced 
him to an alert attention. It had signalled him before. 
Only one person he had ever known lit a fire down there : 
only one hand in his experience contrived a flame which 
gave quite that steady, grey finger. He remembered 
Japhra showing him how to get the heart of a fire con¬ 
centrated in a compact centre; he remembered Ima laugh¬ 
ing at the sprawling heap, burning in desultory patches, 
that had come of his first attempt at imitation. 

“If only it is Japhra !” he said aloud; and he struck 
down the Ridge-side for a straight line across country 
to where the smoke proposed that Japhra might be. 

More than a year had passed since last the van had 
visited the district. Even Stingo, met sometimes over 




at Mr. Hannaford’s, could give him no better news of it 
than that Japhra had not taken the road with Maddox’s 
these two seasons. The disturbed state of mind that 
now vexed Percival could be soothed in no other way, 
he suddenly felt, than by the restful atmosphere that 
Japhra always communicated to him. Japhra would 
not laugh at him. Japhra would understand how he 
felt. Japhra would advise in that quiet way of his that 
made one see things as altogether different from the 
appearance they seemed to present. If only it were 


It was Japhra ! 

As Percival came quickly through the trees that en¬ 
closed the water he caught a glimpse of the yellow van. 
As he emerged he heard Japhra’s voice: “ Watch where 
he comes ! ” and he pulled up short and cried delightedly : 
u You knew ! You were expecting me !” 

Clearly they had known ! Not surprise, but welcome 
all ready for him, was in Japhra’s keen little eyes that 
glinted merrily, and on Ima’s face, that was flushed be¬ 
neath its dusky skin, her lips parted expectantly. Even 
old Pilgrim, the big white horse that drew the van, had 
its head up from its cropping and looked with stretched 
neck and seemed to know. Even tiny Toby, that was Dog 
Toby when the Punch and Judy show was out, was hung 
forward on his short legs like a pointer at mark, and now 
came bounding forward in a whirl of noisy joy. 

Japhra was astride of a box, a piece of harness be¬ 
tween his legs, a cobbler’s needle in his right hand, and 
the short pipe still the same fixture in the corner of his 
mouth. Ima was on one knee, about to rise from the 
fire whose smoke had signalled. 



“You knew! You were expecting me!” Percival 
cried again, and went eagerly to them as they rose to 
greet him, his hands outstretched. 

“Father knew thee before I heard thy footsteps,” 
Ima told him. “The fire crackled at my ears or I had 

She seemed to be excusing herself, as though not to 
have heard were short of courtesy; and Japhra, who had 
Percival’s hand, gave a twist of his face as if to bid him 
see fun, and teased her with: “Thou didst doubt, 
though, Ima, for look how I had to bid thee ‘ watch where 
he comes.’” 

Percival thought she would toss her head and protest 
indignantly as when he used to tease her when they had 
trifled together. Instead, her eyes steadily upon his 
face, “Nay, for I knew it was he,” she replied simply. 

He no more than heard her. At a later period he 
found that the words had gone to the backwaters of his 
mind, where trifles lie up to float unexpectedly into the 
main stream. Years after he recalled distinctly her 
tone, her words, and the look in her eyes when she spoke 

Now he laughed. “You two can hear the world go 
round, I believe.” He turned to Japhra: “But how on 
earth you could tell —” 

“Footsteps are voices, little master, when a man has 
lived in the stillness.” 

Percival laughed again — laughed for pure happiness 
to hear himself still given that familiar title, and for pure 
happiness to be again with Japhra’s engaging ideas. 
“You’re the same as ever, Japhra — the same ideas that 
other people don’t have.” 

“Ah, but ’tis true,” Japhra answered him. “Footsteps 
have tongues, and cleaner tongues than ever the mouth 



holds. Look how a man may oil his voice to mask his 
purpose — never his feet. Thine called to me, how 
eagerly they brought thee.” 

“Eagerly! — I should think they did! You’re just 
the one I want. I’ve not seen you for a year — more. 
Eagerly — oh, eagerly !” 

Japhra’s bright eyes showed his delight. “And we 
were eager, too. We have spoken often of little master, 
eh, Ima? Not right to call him that now, though. 
Scarcely reckoned to see him so grown. Why, thou’rt a 
full man, little master — there slips the name again!” 

He twinkled appreciatively at Percival’s protest that 
to no other name would he answer, and he went on: 
“A full man. Ten stone in the chair, I would wager to 
it. What of the boxing?” 

“Pretty good, Japhra. The gloves you gave me are 
worn, I can tell you.” 

“That’s well. Never lose the boxing. It is the man’s 
game. Ay, thou hast the boxer’s build, ripe on thee now 
as I knew would be when I saw it in thee as a boy. The 
man’s game — never lose it.” 

“I’m keener than ever on it,” Percival told him. “I’m 
glad you think I’ve grown. I’ve got a punch in my left 
hand, I believe.” His spirits were run high from his 
former despondency, and he hit with his left and sparkled 
to see Japhra nod approvingly and to hear him: “Ay, 
the look of a punch there.” 

“Yes, I’ve grown,” he said. “You’ve not changed, 
Japhra — not a scrap.” 

Japhra nodded his head towards the fir trees. “Nor 
are the old limbs yonder. They stay so till the sap dries, 
then drop. Nary change. Only the young shoots 
change. What of Ima ?” 

She had turned away while they talked. She was back 



at the fire, and Percival turned towards where she stood, 
about to lift from its hook the cooking pot that hung 
from the tripod of iron rods. As he looked, she swung it 
with an easy- action to the grass. The pot was heavy: 
she stooped from the waist, lifted and swung it to the 
grass with a graceful action that belonged to her supple 
form, and, as the steam came pouring up and was taken by 
a puff of breeze to her face, went back a step and looked 
down at her cooking from beneath her left forearm, bare 
to the elbow, raised to shield her eyes. 


That was Percival’s view of her. She had put up her 
hair, he noticed, since last he saw her. It was dressed low 
on the nape of her neck; evening’s last gleam delighted in 
its glossy blackness against her olive skin. Beneath the 
arm across her face he saw the long lashes of her eyelids 
almost on her cheeks, as she stood looking downwards. 
Her mouth was long, the lips, blending in a dark red with 
her brown colouring, lying pleasantly together in the ex¬ 
pression that partners the level eye and the comfortable 
mind. She was full as tall as Percival — very slim in the 
build and long in the waist that was moulded naturally 
from her hips to spread and cup her bosom, and therefore 
taller to the eye. She wore a blouse of dark red cloth; 
her skirt was of blue, hung short of her ankles, and press¬ 
ing her thighs disclosed how alert and braced she stood. 
She wore no shoes nor stockings, and her feet, slender and 
long, appeared no more than to rest upon the short grass 
that framed them softly. 

“What of Ima ?” 

“Ima?— Ima has grown, though,” Percival said. 
“Why, she’s simply sprung up !” 



“ Ay, grown,” Japhra agreed. “ Grown fair,” he added, 
watching her. 

Percival said, “Yes, she is pretty.” The vision of 
Dora’s high fairness came to his mind, challenged and 
rebuked his favour of another of her sex, and returned 
him swiftly to the stress that had brought him down here 
for comfort and that the first reencounter with Japhra 
had caused to be overshadowed. His eyes lost their 
brightness. He remained looking dully at Ima, not 
seeing her; and presently started and flushed to realise 
that he was hearing a repeated question from Japhra. 

“What ails, master?” 

“Ails? I heard you the first time, Japhra. I was 
thinking. I’m troubled — sick. That’s what ails.” 

His face flushed with the same cloudy redness that the 
beat of rising tears drives into the faces of children. On 
the Ridge he had put against his trouble the stiffness that 
was of the bone of Burdon character. Down here was 
sympathy — and he was very young; it sapped the 

“That’s what I’m here for,” he said thickly. “To 
tell you, Japhra.” 

Japhra had a keen look to meet the misty countenance 
that was turned to him. 

“Food first, then,” he said, and gave a twinkle and a 
sniff at the savour from Ima’s cooking that made Percival 
smile in response. “Naught like a meal to take the edge 
off trouble. There’d be few quarrels in the world if we all 
had full bellies always.” 

“Well, food first, then,” Percival agreed, making an 
effort; and he raised his voice: “What’s Ima got for 

She turned at the sound of her name and smiled to¬ 
wards him, and the smile caused beauty to alight upon 



her face as a dove with a flashing of soft wings comes to a 
bough. He saw it. Her beauty abode in her mild 
mouth and in her seemly eyes. Her parted lips discov¬ 
ered it to step upon her face; her raised eyes released it, 
starry as the stars that star the forest pool, to star her 


ima’s lessons 

She had odd ways, Percival found — oddly attractive; 
sometimes oddly disconcerting. She did not at first con¬ 
tribute to the conversation while they ate. She was very 
quiet; and that, and the way in which, as he noticed, 
she kept her eyes upon him, was in itself odd. Dusk was 
veiling the camp as they took the stew she had prepared. 
They had the meal on the grass near the van, and Percival, 
not eating with great ease in the squatting pose, noticed 
how erect she sat, as though her back were invisibly sup¬ 
ported — her plate on her lap, the soles of her bare feet 

He deferred his trouble, as Japhra had proposed, till 
the meal should be done. He was interested to know 
where the van had been all these months; and when he 
questioned Japhra, “We have had the solitary desires, 
Ima and I,” Japhra told him. “The solitary desires, 
master, whiles thou hast been growing. A sudden weary¬ 
ing of Maddox’s and all the noisy ones. North to York¬ 
shire, we have been; west to Bristol’s border; deeper 
west to Cornwall. The road has had the spell on us — 
calling from every bend and ever keeping a bend ahead, as 
the road will to those who are of it. Summers we have 
passed the circus on its tour and laid a night with old 
Stingo and then away, urgent to move quicker and 
lonelier. Trouble has worsened in the circus crowd.” 

“What, between Stingo’s men and Boss Maddox’s?” 




“Ay,” said Japhra. “Boss Maddox is the biggest 
showman in the west these days. He rents the pitches 
at all the fairs before the season begins; and the Stingo 
crowd, who must take what he gives, he puts in the worst 
places. His hand is heavy against them. One fine day 
the sticks will come out and there’ll be heads broken, as 
happened on the road back in ’60. I was in that and 
carry the mark of it on my pate to this hour. Pray I’ll 
be there when this one falls.” 

“I’d like to be with you, Japhra.” 

Japhra showed his tight-lipped smile : “Well, a camp 
fight with the sticks out and the heads cracking is a proper 
game for a man, master. Thou’dst be a handy one at it, 
I warrant me” — 

Ima broke in with her first contribution to their talk. 
She said quickly: “Shame, Father. Not for such as 
he — fights and the rough ways.” 

But she was silent again and without reply when 
Percival sought to rally her for this opinion of him; and 
Japhra twinkled at him and said: “There’s one would like 
to meet thee, though — sticks or fists”; and went on, 
when Percival inquired who: “Thy friend Pinsent. 
Thy name of Foxy for him has stuck to him and he has 
not forgiven thee. A fine fighter he has grown — boxed 
in some class rings for good purses in the winter months, 
and in the summer is a great attraction at the fairs. 
Boss Maddox is fond of him. Boss Maddox has fitted 
him with a booth of his own and he gets the crowds — 
deserves ’em, too. But ‘Foxy’ has stuck to him — and 
suits him. He hates it; and’s not forgotten where he 
owes it.” 

Percival laughed. “Well, if he’s done so well, I ought 
to be proud to have given him something to remember me 
by. He could wallop me to death, of course.” 



“ There’s few of his weight he could not hand the goods 
to,” Japhra agreed. He looked estimatingly at Percival 
and added : “ One that could keep the straight left in his 

face a dozen rounds’d serve it up to him, though. Foxy 
has no bowels for punishment. I have watched him.” 

And again Ima broke in. “ Ah, why dost talk so ? ” she 
addressed her father. “He is nothing for such ways — 
fights and the fighting sort.” 

This time Percival would not let her opinion of him 
escape without challenge. “Why, Ima!” he turned to 
her, “that’s the second time you’ve said that. Seems to 
me you think I ought to be wrapped in cotton-wool.” 

His voice was bantering, but had a note of impatience. 
The events of the day had not made him in humour to 
take lightly any estimate of himself that seemed to re¬ 
flect on his manliness. 

She noticed it. Her voice when she answered him had 
a caressing sound as though she realised she had vexed 
him and would beg excuse. “Nay, only that thou art 
not for the rough ways — such as thou,” she said; and, 
mollified, he laughed and told her: “Well, you never 
used to think so, anyway. You’ve changed, you know, 
Ima, changed a lot since I last saw you.” 

“And should have changed,” Japhra announced. 
“Scholar with lesson books, she has been these winter 

Percival thought that very quaint. “Scholar, Ima; 
have you ?” he asked her, and saw the blood run up be¬ 
neath her dusky skin. “ I can’t imagine you at lessons ! ” 

“Nor those who taught me,” she replied; and paused 
and added very gravely, speaking in her gentle voice, 
“Yet have I learnt — and still shall learn.” 

Percival asked : “Learnt what ? ” 

Odd her ways — oddly attractive, oddly disconcerting; 



speaking steadily and more as if it were to herself and not 
to listeners that she spoke. “Learnt to sit on a chair,” 
she told him, “and to sit at a table nicely; to wear shoes 
on my feet, and stockings; to go to church and sing to 
God in heaven ; to talk properly as house folk talk; to 
sleep in a bed; to wear a hat and stiff clothes; to abide 
within doors when the rain falls and when the stars 
alight in the sky — these have I learnt.” 

Percival was tempted to laugh, but her gravity forbade 
him. “How terrible it sounds — for you! But why, 
Ima, why?” 

She did not answer the question. She smiled gently at 
him and went on with the same air of speaking to herself: 
“Lessons from books, also. Figures and the making of 
sums; geography — as capes and bays and what men 
make and where; of a new fashion of how to hold the pen 
stiffly in writing; of nice ways in speaking — chiefly 
that I should say £ you ’ when I would say ‘ thou’ — that is 
hardest to me; but I shall learn.” 

Something almost pleading was in her voice as she 
repeated, “I shall learn;” and Percival turned for relief 
of his puzzlement to Japhra: “Why, whatever’s it all 
for, Japhra?” 

Japhra gave his tight-lipped smile. ‘‘Woman’s 
reasons—who shall discover such?” But Ima made 
a motion of protest, and he went on: “Nay, the chance 
fell, and truly I was glad she should have woman’s com¬ 
pany — and gentle company. In Norfolk where we 
pitched the winter gone by was a doctor I had known 
when we were young — he and I. He shipped twice 
aboard a cattle boat with me, having the restlessness on 
him in those days. Now I found him stout and proper, 
but not forgetful of an indifferent matter between us. 
He brought his lady to the van, and she conceived a fancy 



for Ima, holding her a fair, wild thing that should be 
tamed. Therefore took Ima to her house and to her 
board, and taught her as she hath instructed thee. Thus 
was the manner of it; as to the wherefore—why, woman’s 
reasons, as I have said,” and he smiled again. 

Ima got abruptly to her feet. The meal was ended, 
and she began to collect the plates. Her action plainly 
rebuked the further questions with which Percival was 
playfully turning to her. He offered instead to help her 
with her washing of the dishes, but she told him : “Nay, 
maid’s work this. Abide thou with father, and talk 
men’s talk.” In the action of moving away she turned 
to Japhra and added her earlier plea: “So it is not of 
boxing and the rough ways.” 


japhra’ s lessons 


Japhra took up Ima’s words when she had left them. 
“Nay,but the boxing is my business/’ Japhra said, filling 
his pipe. “I’m for the boxing again this summer. 
Money’s short and old Pilgrim yonder has full earned his 
rest and must have another take up his shafts. Another 
horse is to be bought, wherefore a sparring booth again 
for me.” 

Percival asked: “When are you going?” 

“To-morrow. I pick up the circus by Dorchester. 
My lads are waiting me. Ginger Cronk, I have — thou 
mind’st Ginger ? — and Snowball White, a useful one. 
Stingo seeketh another for me. A good lad, I must have, 
if the money’s to be made, for Foxy Pinsent hath a brave 
show that will draw the company — two coloured lads 
and four more with himself.” 

Percival was silent. “I wish I could go with you,” 
he said presently: “And you’re going to-morrow, you 
say ? — to-morrow ? ” 

“At daybreak, master.” 

“Ah!” Percival gave a hard exclamation as though 
feelings that were pent up in him escaped him. “Now 
I had found you again, I hoped I was going to see you 
often for a bit. My luck’s right out,” and he gave a 
little laugh. 

Japhra lit his pipe. “ So we come back to thy trouble,” 
he said. 




His voice and a motion that he made invited confi¬ 
dence. Percival watched through the dusk the glow from 
his pipe, now lighting his face, now leaving it in shadow. 
He had longed to tell Japhra; he found it hard. 

After a moment: “Hard to tell!” he jerked. 

“How to bear ? That is the measure of a grief.” 

“Impossible to bear !” 

“Tell, then.” 

“There’s little to be told. That’s it! That’s the 
sting of it — so little, so much. A man must do some¬ 
thing with his life, Japhra !” 

“Ay, that must he, else life will use him, breaking 

“Why, that’s just it! That’s what will happen to me ! 
I’m a man — they think I’m not; there, that’s the pith 
of it!” He was easier now and in the way of words that 
would express his feelings. He went on: “Look, 
Japhra, it’s like this —” and told how he was growing up 
idler, how Aunt Maggie answered all his protestations for 
work for his hands to do by bidding him only wait — 
and he ended as he had begun: “A man must do 
something with his life !” 

He stopped, — aware, and somehow, as he looked 
through the dusk at Japhra, a little ashamed, that his 
feelings had run his voice to a note of petulance. He 
stopped, but a space of silence came where he had looked 
for answer. Evening by now was full about the camp. 
Night that evening heralded pressed on her feet, and was 
already to be seen against the light in the windows of the 
van where Ima had lit the lamp. From the pool was the 
intermittent whirring of a warbler; somewhere a dis¬ 
tant cuckoo called its engaging note that drowsy birds 
should not make bedtime yet. In the pines a song- 
thrush had its psalm to make; at intervals it paused and 



the air took a night-jar’s whirr and catch and whirr 
again. Old Pilgrim cropped the grass. 


Percival said: “What are you thinking of, Japhra ?” 

“Of life.” 

“What of life?” 

“How hot it runs.” 

“Meaning me — I’m in a vile temper, I daresay you 

“How hot it runs, master — how cold it comes and 
how little the profit of it.” 

Percival said heavily : “What is the use of it, then ? ” 

Japhra bent forward to him and Percival saw the little 
man’s tight-lipped, firm-lined countenance with the tran¬ 
quil strength of mind that abode in the steady aspect of 
the bright eyes, deep beneath their strong brows. 

“The use?” Japhra said. “Nay, that is the wrong 
way of estimate. For thee in thy mood, for all men when 
life presses them, inquire rather what is the hurt of it. 
How shall so small a thing as life, a thing so profitless, that 
soon becomes so cold, returneth to earth and is nothing 
remembered nor required — how shall so small a thing 
offend thee and make shipwreck of thy content ? Thus 
shouldst thou judge of it.” 

“Some men are not soon forgotten, Japhra.” 

“Ay, master, and what men? They that have seen 
how small a thing is life and have recked nothing of it.” 

“How have they done great things, then? — fought 
battles, written books?” 

“Why, master, how wrote Bunyan in chains or Milton 
in blindness ?” 

“They didn’t mind.” 



“Even so. Profitless they knew life to be, and cared 
not how it tasked them.” 

“But, Japhra, that’s — that’s all upside down. Are 
there two things in a man, then — life and — ?” 

Japhra said: “So we come to it — and to thee. 
Truly there are two things: life which is here in the 
green leaf, and gone in the dry; and the spirit which 
goeth God knows where — into the sea that ever moves, 
the wind that ever blows, the sap that ever rises — who 
shall say ? But knoweth not death and haply endureth 
forever if it were mighty enough — as Milton, as 
Bunyan. Look at me, master, for that is the plain fact 
of it and the balsam for all thy hurts.” 

He stopped and drew slowly at his pipe with little puffs 
that floated to Percival like grey thistledown dropping 
through the night. 

“Go on,” Percival said. “Go on, Japhra.” 

“Why, there thou hast it,” Japhra told him. “Lay 
hold on thy spirit — let that be thy charge; and of what 
cometh against thee take no heed save to rebuke it as a 
boxer rebuketh the cunning of him that is matched 
against him. So was the way of Crusoe, of old Bunyan’s 
Pilgrim, and of the Bible men, and that is why I call them 
the books for a fighting man. Here’s my way of it, 
master — there’s force in the world that moves the tides 
and blows the winds and maketh the green things grow. 
Out of that force I unriddle it we come, and back to it 
return. In some the spirit is utterly swallowed up in life, 
and at death crawleth back suffocated and befouled and 
only fit to come again in some rank growth — so much a 
lesser thing than when it came springing to a human 
breast that the force of the world whence it came is by so 
much lessened and can give birth to a flower less and a 
toadstool more.” 



“And then there’s the other way about,” said Percival, 
attracted by this argument. 

“Ay, truly the other way about, master. The way of 
the mighty men in whom the spirit rebuketh life and in- 
creaseth, and at death goeth shouting back—so quicken¬ 
ing the force of the world that, just as the cup spilleth when 
much is added, so there be mighty storms when great men 
die — thunders and rushing winds, great lightnings and 
vast seas.” 

Percival drew a long breath. “Why, it’s a fine idea, 
Japhra — fine.” 

“Look at a case of it,” Japhra said. “My Bible in the 
van there hath one. I have it by heart. Look when 
Christ died. Never a man than He cared less how life 
tasked Him; and at His death — when there went 
shouting back the spirit that He had increased beyond the 
increase of any man—look thou what came : ‘And behold 
the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to 
the bottom; and the earth quaked; and the rocks rent 
and the graves were opened.’ And again: ‘And it was 
about the sixth hour; and there was darkness over all 
the earth until the ninth hour; and the sun was dark¬ 

He stopped; and Percival breathed long and deep 
again: “Fine, Japhra — fine. I never thought of it 
like that. Fine — I think I see.” 

“Surely thou dost, master; or any man that giveth 
thought to it. Take it to thine own case — that is my 
word to thee. Reck nothing how life assaileth — hold 
on only to thy spirit. Thou wouldst be doing something 
and art irked by the bonds that hold thee — never fear 
but that in its time the thing will come. I have seen men 
— I know the fashion of them. Thou art of the mould 
and mind to which adventures come. See to it thou art 


2 S T 

ready for them when they arrive — trained as the boxer 
is against the big fight.” 

Percival said heavily: “What’s the prize, Japhra?” 
Now that the application of this engaging view was 
pressed to his own case he had a dark vision of what it 
required of him. “What’s the prize?” 

“Why, content! Look, little master, here’s happiness, 
here’s content — and content is all the world’s gold and 
all its dreams. Whatever cometh against thee, whether 
through the flesh or through the mind, get thou the mas¬ 
tery of it. How? Every man according to his craft. 
The philosophers, the reckoners — theirs to judge bad 
against good and find content that way. That was old 
Crusoe’s manner of it. Thou art the fighting type — the 
Ring for thee.” 

Percival got abruptly to his feet. At the same moment 
Ima opened the door of the van and stood above them — 
held, as it were, upon the light that streamed from the 

“The Ring for thee,” Japhra repeated, “there to meet 
and conquer all thy vexations. Make a boxer of thy 
spirit. Step back through the ropes then and take up the 
champion belt marking thee thine own man, thine own 
master: a proud and jewelled thing to wear — content.” 

Ima’s voice broke in upon them. “The champion 
belt?” she said. “What, is it still boxing, thy talk?” 

Japhra turned his face up to her and the lamplight 
showed the twinkling with which he met the reproach in 
her voice. “Why, it is my trade,” he said, “ and thine. 
In two days thou’lt be taking the money at the door 
of my booth.” 

“Not his trade, though,” she answered. 

Percival said: “Japhra, would I be a likely one for your 
booth, do you think ? ” 



He was holding out his hand in the action of farewell. 
Japhra got up and took it and held it. “Why, if I get as 
proper a build as thine for my third lad I will put a polish 
to it that would vex Foxy Pinsent himself. Keep up the 
boxing, master. Art thou going?” 

Percival said abruptly, “Yes, I’m going.” He re¬ 
leased the hand and went away a step. “I’m going. 
I’ve a longish way home and things to do before bedtime. 
You’ll be gone at daybreak ?” 

“At dawn, little master.” 

“On the Dorchester road?” 

“Ay, to Dorchester.” 

“All the luck with you, Japhra. I’m better for seeing 
you.” He spoke jerkily as though his throat were full 
and speech difficult. He stopped abruptly, and half 
turned away; then, recollecting Ima, went back to the 
van and stretched up his hand to where she stood: 
“Good night, Ima.” 

She stooped down to him. The action brought her 
face into the darkness and he noticed how her wide eyes, 
as she stooped, seemed actually to light it. “Farewell!” 
she said. 

It was perhaps that he had so obviously only attended 
to her as an afterthought that her throat, for all the 
sound her word had, might have been as full as his. 
Some thought of the kind — that he had been churlish 
to her — crossed him. He said more kindly: “I say, 
though ! your hand is cold, Ima.” 

She withdrew her fingers, giving him no reply. But as 
he turned away and went a step, “What of thy way 
home?” she cried, and cried it on a sudden note as 
though it went against her will. 

“By the Ridge,” he told her. “By Plowman’s Ridge 
and then along.” 



She answered him: “ Yes, I am cold. I will warm me 
to the Ridge with thee — if thou wilt suffer me. ” 

In the mood that was on him he had preferred to be 
alone. But under the same apprehension of having been 
churlish to her, “Why, that’s jolly of you,” he said. 


She went within the van a few moments; and while he 
waited he had a last exchange with Japhra: “You’ve 
helped me, Japhra. But I shall disappoint you if I’m 
tried too hard. Content — I’ll make a fight for it. But 
I shall not endure it very well if I am still to be idler.” 
He gave a hard little laugh. “When it’s a fight for mas¬ 
tery of myself I shall disappoint you, I believe.” 

Japhra told him: “I have seen men, master, and 
know the fashion of them. Thou wilt not disappoint 

“You can’t say that of any one — for certain.” 

“I say it of thee. Though thou failest a score times 
thine is the mould that comes again — for that I shall 
look. Listen to me, little master — that name clings: 
I cannot shake it from me. Listen to me. Thy type 
runneth hot through life till at last it cometh to the big 
fight. Send me news of that.” He struck a match to 
relight his pipe and cupped the flame against his face. 
“Send only ‘The Big Fight, Japhra,’” he said. 

The flame of his match built up the dusky night in 
walls of immense blackness. In their heart Percival saw 
the kindly face with its tight lines and keen eyes. “I 
shall know the winner,” Japhra said; and the cup of 
light within his hands shadowed and lit again his face 
as he nodded. 

The Big Fight was drawing towards Percival. Aunt 



Maggie had the very date of it, and the articles reckoned 
and ready. When it rushed suddenly upon him and he 
was in its stress and agony, he remembered the lighted 
face, the confident nod and the message that was to be 




Ima had put on shoes and stockings when she reap¬ 
peared from the van and joined Percival to accompany 
him to the Ridge. The two were come almost to the 
Down’s skirt before they exchanged words. “I have 
things to do before bedtime/’ Percival had told Japhra; 
and as he walked he was too occupied by the thoughts of 
what he purposed — hunted by them as the tumult of his 
concerns had hunted him earlier in the day — to give 
attention to Ima who had come with him when he had 
preferred to be alone. She was perhaps aware of that. 
She followed the half of a pace behind the short, impatient 
steps that partnered — and signified — his mood, her 
eyes watching what of his face she could see and ever and 
again turning swiftly ahead, as though she feared he 
might catch her at it and feared that might offend him; 
so a dog that knows itself unwanted may be seen, wistful 
at its master’s heels — with little wags of a timid tail 
and with beseeching glances; eager to communicate 
some succour to this angry mood; afraid to hazard what 
may further vex. 

Yet he was pleasant when presently he spoke to her. 

They stepped from a dense lane about whose mouth 
and overhead the arching brambles trailed as though to 
curtain a sanctuary from trespass by outer dust and 
breeze and light. Before them the Down ran smooth and 




grey to where, beneath the moon, it took a silver rim 
along the line of Plowman’s Ridge. A harsher scent was 
here than briar and wild rose breathed within the lane 
and jealously entwined to hold there; the breeze came 
with a swifter touch to the face; the light challenged the 
eyes that the gloom had rested. 

Together their effects aroused Percival’s senses from 
his thoughts to his companion. 

“Warmer now, Ima?” he asked. 

“ Warmer now, little master,” and she smiled and added: 
“ unseemly to call thee that, now thou hast grown so.’ , 

He moved with her to a gate that faced the Down. 
“Let’s rest a bit,” he said. “Why, we’ve both grown, 
Ima, since the last time I saw you. You’ve grown. 
You’ve put up your hair — properly grown up. I shall 
have to treat you with terrible respect.” 

She did not respond to his light tone. Her eyes that 
looked quietly at him had a grave air. “ I am a gipsy girl 
to thee,” she said. “I am not for thy respect — such as 
me. For ladies that.” And before he could answer her 
she went on: “What of that little lady thou hast told 
me of — Snow-White-and-Rose-Red as thou didst name 
her to me?” 

He did not notice a changed tone — to be described as 
stiff — in her voice. It did not occur to him that in the 
matter of his respect she made comparison between her¬ 
self and her whom she named with his fond name for 
her; he was only surprised and only grateful to have that 
name spoken to him. 

“Why, she’s grown,” he said. “Fancy you remember¬ 
ing her, Ima!” 

Eagerness was in his voice. “I am cold again,” she 
told him, and drew away. “Let us go up the Down.” 

He did not follow her movement or her words, but 


pursued his own “ — remembering that I called her that, 
anyway,” he said. 

If it had been her purpose to dismiss the subject, at 
least she earned herself his full attention by the swiftness 
with which she turned upon him and by the swiftness of 
her reply. “It is thee I remember,” she answered him. 
“Not her — or any such. Thou wast my friend when we 
played boy and girl together. All thou hast done with 
me, all thou hast told me, point me the way to thee as 
remembered marks along the road point to a camping- 
place — no more, and of themselves nothing.” 

She had his attention; but he attributed the quickness 
of her speech and her odd thought and simile only to the 
general oddness of her ways. “Well, you needn’t go 
back to those days in future,” he told her. “We’re 
friends now just as much as then.” 

She shook her head and smiled. “Nay, after this day 
I must needs go farther back,” she said, her voice smooth 
again. “Thou dost not understand — playmate days I 
§eek. I lie in my bed on the fine nights with the van door 
wide, and watch the stars and play I walk among them — 
from star to star and round about among the stars, high 
to the van’s roof and low to where the trees and hills 
stretch up to them: thou with me as when first I knew 
thee — in that wise I seek thee; not thus” — she broke 
off and changed the note of her voice. “What talk is 
this?” she smiled. “Childish fancies — they are not 
for thee,” and she moved away and he followed her up 
the Down. 

“Ima, they’re pretty fancies, though,” he said. “And, 
you know, you’ll lose them all if you aren’t careful — if 
you go making yourself stiff and proper with those ex¬ 
traordinary lessons of yours. What are they for, those 
lessons? They’ll spoil you, Ima. They’ll make you 



quite different. All that kind of thing is for — for the 
others — for what you’d call fine ladies.” 

“Even so,” she said; and pronounced the words as if 
— though to his mind they explained nothing — every¬ 
thing was explained by them; and said no more until the 
crest of Plowman’s Ridge was reached. 


He was willing enough for his own part to relapse into 
his own thoughts. He went so deeply into them that, 
coming to the Ridge and involuntarily pausing there, he 
was twice told by her “Here I return,” before he was 
aroused to her again. Bemused, he stared at her a 
moment as one stares that is aroused from sleep, and his 
mind jumped back in confusion to the last words that had 
passed between them. “Well, if you were so anxious for 
the lessons, why did you give them up when the winter 
was over?” 

She answered him — sadness in her voice rather than 
reproach—“We have done that talk long since. Thou 
dost not heed me. It is that I am going that I am telling 

He knew he had been careless of her again, and sought 
to laugh it off. “Well, it is why you stopped your lessons 
that I am asking thee,” he mimicked her. “Woman’s 
reasons, Ima?” 

She threw out her hands towards him in a gesture of 
appeal. “Ah, do not toy me woman’s reasons,” she said. 
“Think me less light than that — if thou thinkest of me. 
Not woman’s reasons bade me back to the van when 
winter broke. Not woman’s reasons. I knew me 
there were green buds in the ditches beneath the dead 
wet leaves. I had discovered them to the sun and 


the breezes many years — turning back the leaves and 
smelling the smell they have. How could I stay 
beneath a roof when I had thoughts of such?” 

She drew a deep and tremulous breath of the mild 
night air as though she inhaled the scents of which 
she spoke, and he watched her gaze across the eastward 
vale with those starry eyes that, as she went on, never the 
lids unstarred, and she said: “Thoughts of such — of 
green buds in the ditches beneath the moulding leaves 
that waited for me to uncover them and knew me when I 
came; of the first cloud of dust along the road — dust, 
ah ! of tiny sprigs on every bough that I might run to see; 
of busy birds stealing the straws and coming for the bits 
of cloth and wool they know I place for them; of early 
light with all the trees and fields wet and aglisten; of 
gentle evenings when the new stars come dropping down 
the sky; of the road — the road, ah ! — I sitting on the 
shafts; of the cool brooks, and leading Pilgrim in and 
hearing him suck the water and hearing him tear the 
grass; of the running stream about my feet and the soft 
grass that sinks a little — these bade me back.” 

She turned to him and said in the low voice in which 
she had been speaking: “Not women’s reasons these.” 
She changed her voice to one that cried : “ Remember me 
that if I am not like fine ladies I cannot help be what I am 
with these things speaking to me. Now I am going,” 
and she went swiftly from him and was a dozen paces 
gone before he called her back. 


“Ima !” While she spoke he had envisaged what she 
told, setting its freedom and its elemental note to his own 
desires as one sets music that stirs the breast. Shaking 

26 o 


himself from the spell, “ Ima!” he called, and went to 
her. “Don’t go like that. Say good-by properly.” 

She stopped short and put her hand to her side as 
though his call had launched a shaft that struck her. She 
did not turn — as though she dared not turn — until he 
was close up to her, touching her. Then she turned, and 
he saw her eyes amazingly lit, and as they met his, saw 
the light pass like a star extinguished. It was as if she 
had expected much and had found nothing; and it was 
so pronounced that he said: “Ima! Why, what did 
you think I was going to say ?” 

There was a wild rose in the bosom of her dress that 
she had plucked as they came through the lane. She 
bent her head to it and put her hands to it in the action 
of one that seeks to cover lack of words by some occupa¬ 
tion. She drew the flower from her breast and placed 
it in his coat, pinning it there. 

“That’s right,” he smiled. “I’ll keep that to remem¬ 
ber you by. What did you think I was going to say ? 
You seemed as though you expected something — then 
as if you were disappointed. What was it?” 

She was very careful in settling the flower. Then she 
dropped her hands and looked up at him. “I asked 
nothing,” she said. “How should I be disappointed?” 

“Asked ! No ! I saw it in your eyes.” 

She answered swiftly, almost as one speaking in men¬ 
ace of offending words: “What in mine eyes?” 

“Why, what I tell you. As though you expected 
something and were disappointed.” 

“No more?” she inquired, and repeated it — “No 

“No more — no. But I want to know why — or 

She gave a gentle laugh and relaxed her attitude that 


had been strained, in keeping with her voice. She seemed 
to have feared he had derived some secret that she had; 
and she seemed glad and yet a little sad her eyes had not 
betrayed her. She gave a gentle laugh and threw her 
hands apart as if to show how small a thing was here. 

“Why, little master, there is nothing in that,” she 
said. “The eyes light for that the heart runneth to 
peep through them as a child to the window.” 

He laughed at the pleasant fancy: “Well, what did 
your heart run to see?” 

“Nay, I have not done,” she told him. “Look also 
how one may see a child run happily past the window — 
from the van I have seen it: so sometimes the heart but 
passeth across the eyes with a glad face, singing from one 
happy thought to where another waits. I think my heart 
passed so and thou didst catch the gleam.” 

He heard her take in a quick breath as her words ended. 
Then, “Suffer me to go now,” she said. “Keep my 
pretty flowers;” and turned and went swiftly from him 
down the slope; and was dim where the moonlight faded; 
and was gone in the further darkness. 




She was as quickly gone from Percival’s mind as from 
his sight. Now that he was free and alone — as he had 
wished to be alone — he faced about with an abrupt 
movement and began to set homewards at a swift pace 
along the Ridge; simultaneously his mind returned to 
his own business. 

He had reached a sudden determination while he talked 
with Japhra; he found his mind carried forward to the 
scenes of its prosecution, and he was made to breathe 
deeply and to walk fast as he visioned them. A conflict 
possessed him and tore at him as he went. Before he 
got to bed that night he would have from Aunt Maggie 
what she purposed for his future — he would have it in 
definite words — he would not be put off by vague gen¬ 
eralisations — he would accept nothing in the nature 
of “next year will be time enough to decide” — nay, nor 
“next month,” nor “next week” — he would have it 
definitely, clearly, unmistakably now. That was his 
determination; thence arose the conflict. He assured 
himself as he walked that let him but know Aunt 
Maggie’s intentions, and however cruel, however im¬ 
possible, however unendurable they might be, he would 
follow wise Japhra’s advice — would meet in the ring 
as if it were a physical antagonist the passionate impulse 
to reward all kind Aunt Maggie’s love by violent refusal 
to obey her — would meet and would defeat it there. 



He threw up his head as he so thought and had his fists 
clenched and his jaw set. The action made him conscious 
of old friend wind. At this the pitch of his heat, “Ha ! 
Ha ! Ha !” shouted old friend wind in his ears. “Ac¬ 
cept idleness if Aunt Maggie so desires, will you ? — 
and the laughter and contempt, eh ? Ha ! Ha ! Ha !” 

He put down his head again. The wind was getting 
up; it took some buffeting. 

He began to reason now that he should have argued 
with Japhra when Japhra laid down the law of self- 
discipline and moral conduct. 

“You can’t make one rule to cover everything!” he 
said aloud, driving along against the wind. “A man 
must do something with his life!” he cried. 

He suddenly realised that he was dallying; he sud¬ 
denly knew that he was weakening. He was persuading 
himself that the hour of the fight would fall when he 
questioned Aunt Maggie; he suddenly realised that the 
battle was already begun. 


The knowledge brought him to a dead halt. His 
thoughts had fallen in train with his steps: he had the 
feeling that he was being beaten while he walked — only 
could be master of himself while he stood still and centred 
all his faculties on defeating the impulses that goaded him 
as they had goaded him earlier in the day. As the sufferer 
on a sick-bed tosses wearily through the sleepless night 
and comes from weariness to savage groans and curses 
that rest is not to be found nor a cool position discovered, 
so he lashed in spirit to find a stable thought that would 
support him amid the tumult that possessed him. He 
strove to image Aunt Maggie with gentle eyes; he could 



command no more than a glimpse before she was pre¬ 
sented to him again as not understanding — not under¬ 
standing ! — unkind, unkind ! He directed his mind 
at Japhra and strove to see how small a thing, how child¬ 
ish, how petty was his trouble; in a moment, “Prepos¬ 
terous ! preposterous!” shouted the tumult. “A small 
thing to others? Easy for them to think that. Let 
them apply it to their own concerns ! How can they 
judge what is your affair alone ? If you are struck, can 
they feel your pain ? If you are starving, can they meas¬ 
ure your hunger?” And again, with greater cunning: 
“Why, what a damnable philosophy is this that calls 
upon a man to suffer any rebuke, and smile and submit, 
and declare it is a small thing, unworthy of notice, and 
cover himself with sophistries as that life is too big, the 
sea too deep, the hills too high, for such an affair to cause 
affront! What, is that a man’s part, do you think ? A 
man’s part — or a coward’s ?” 

“Not the right way to put it!” Percival struggled. 
“A false way to look at it!” 

And his adversary, with ,deeper cunning yet: “Is it 
fight you would, as Japhra bade you? You did not 
explain all the circumstances to him. A man must 
do something with his life — he admitted that. Is it 
fight you would ? Why, fight then ! Choose your own 
life. Make your own life. For that a man should 
fight! Get into the world and prove yourself a man ! 
You are no better than a baby here — worse than a baby; 
you’re a lout. What sort of a lout will you be in another 
year or so? What will they think of you then? Ah, 
go on; make this precious ring-business of your life. 
Rebuke yourself — your natural desires, your rightful 
ambitions; win your fight as Japhra bade you win it, 
and then when all laugh at you or ignore you for a con- 


temptible lout — then tell them, tell all the village what a 
rare prize you have really won — tell it to Rollo, tell it 
to Dora!” 

The poor boy cried aloud: “Oh, these infernal 
thoughts ! These infernal thoughts ! If only I could 
get them out of my head — think of something else!” 
He was going mad over it, he told himself. His head 
ached — ached. It would all come right — there was 
no cause for all this worrying. He had often thought 
about it before — never till now, till to-day, this wild, 
maddening, throbbing fury of trouble. What was it? 
What was it that caused these feelings and all this pain — 
why, why was he so taxed and tormented ? If only he 
could get it out of his mind, could think of something 
else till he got home ! There would be the jolly, jolly 
little supper with Aunt Maggie awaiting him; after it 
they would talk quietly, happily together, and he would 
tell her how he really must be doing something, and she 
would understand and everything would be put right. 
If only he could get it out of his mind — if he went back 
now as he was, why, he was not in a fit state of mind 
to go near her — and why ? why ? why this sudden 
difference, this sudden, maddening, throbbing state that 
goaded and tortured like a wild live thing within his 
brain ? why ? 


More reasoned thoughts these — at least a conscious¬ 
ness of his condition and an attempt to plumb its cause. 
More reasoned thoughts — and they brought him sud¬ 
denly to a calmer moment and there to the answer he 
sought: Dora. 

He was not far in person from the very spot where 
earlier in the day the vision of her had come to him and 



he had breathed her name and had her name come float¬ 
ing about him—Dora ! Dora ! Dora ! soft as rose petals 
fall, sweet as they. He was not far in person from that 
spot—realising her in spirit he was aswoon again in that 
vision’s ecstasy; and suddenly knew what reason urged his 
burning mood, and suddenly discovered why he burned 
to do. She the sweet cause of all this new distress ! — 
hers the dear fault that life was now thus changed ! 

Further than that he might not go — nor cared to 
seek. It was not his — nor ever belongs to youth sud¬ 
denly under the sex attraction — to know a new ichor 
was mingled with his blood, causing it to surge and boil 
and test the very fibre of his veins. Not his to know a 
sap that had been storing in his vigour was now released 
whence it had stored — touching new strengths that had 
not yet been felt; flushing the brain in cells not yet 
aroused; and crying, and crying to be relieved; and 
causing in his strength a tingling vibrancy, as a willow 
rod that has been bent springs upright and vibrates when 
its constraint is cut. Not his to know, nor care to seek, 
how love manifested itself within him, nor what love was, 
nor why he loved, nor if, indeed, love were this sudden 
thing. He only knew that what had served his boyhood 
could not suffice now Dora filled his mind; he only knew 
that in all the world to bring to Dora’s eyes the light of 
admiration was his sole desire; he only knew that to have 
her hold him in contempt — even in slight regard — was 
to endure an outrage unendurable; he only knew he was 
possessed to challenge mighty businesses — of arms, of 
strength, of courage, of riches — that he might win her 

He had the new thoughts now for which he had cried 
while the tumult of right and wrong conduct vexed hini. 
She filled his mind, suffused his being, stood with her 


exquisite face before his eyes. Peace in the guise of 
ardour came where conflict in passion’s flame had 
burned. “If only I could see her before I go home !” 
he thought. 

The recollection came of a hot day earlier in the week 
when, at lunch with Dora and Rollo at the Old Manor, 
they had conspired to abuse the sultry weather. “But 
the evenings are worth it,” Dora had said. “In London 
it is differentwith her mother she had just come from 
London for a few days at Abbey Royal before she went, 
for her last term, to the “finishing” school near Paris. 
“In London it is different — often more stifling at night 
than in the day. But here ! Here the evenings are 
worth it. Always after dinner I stroll in the garden — 
and love it.” 

If only he could see her before he went home ! He 
looked at his watch beneath the moonlight. Almost 
nine o’clock it told him. That would be about her hour. 
He could strike across to Abbey Royal in fifteen minutes 
if he ran. There was just the chance ! — just the chance 
of a glimpse of her, the first glimpse since this new and 
adorable sense of her had come to be his. He might 
even speak with her — hear her voice. Hear her voice ! 
— it was the utmost desire he had in all the world ! 
There was just the chance ! — if it failed, still he could 
see the home where she lived, see it with the new eyes 
that now were his — her home, the grounds her feet had 
trod, the gates her hand had touched, the flowers per¬ 
haps her dress had brushed or she had stooped to breathe. 

There was just the chance ! — along the Ridge, down 
to Upabbot, behind the church and so to her home. 
His mind leapt across his route, eager to urge his pace. 
He pocketed his watch and set towards the shrine that 
had his heart. 




There was just the chance ! “Ah, Chance be kind !” 
his prayer, but in the simpler form: “If only I can see 
her!” For he could not have told himself precisely 
what he desired of her. The new condition of mind and 
body that possessed him was too newly come for him 
clearly to understand towards what it impelled him. 
We speak of love as an intoxication. He was as it were 
beneath the first and sudden influence of a draught of 
wine more potent than the drinker knows — causing 
an elevation of the spirits, that is to say, a sharper note 
in the surroundings, something of a singing in the ears; 
a readiness for adventure, but not a clear notion as to 
the form of adventure required; a sudden comprehen¬ 
sion that there is more tingling stuff in life than ever the 
dull round has revealed; but a sense that it is there and 
must be found rather than an exact knowledge of what it 
will prove to be. He only knew he wished to see her; 
that seemed the goal; he had no thoughts nor fancies 
to take him to what might lie beyond — then reached 
the Abbey gates and saw the drive, and saw her there, 
and stopped as if a hand suddenly rebuked him in the 

That he felt a surge run through his being and flame 
upon his face, that he felt suddenly abashed and could 
not dare to make his presence known — these marked 
his nearness to knowledge of his state. 




The night was very clear. By now the full moon had 
disdained more trifling with the clouds that earlier had 
joined hands about her. Far to the west they trailed 
their watery burdens to the hills: she queened above 
them — queenly serene, aloof in the unbounded vault 
that all her empery of stars about her ruled and divided 
subject to her rule. The Abbey gates stood wide. Be¬ 
tween their pillars little breezes came to him and brought 
to him the fragrance of the flowers that banked the 
drive on either hand. He saw they also stirred the dress 
and some light scarf that Dora wore. 

Mystery was here. He knew not what — only that, 
conditioned by some new sense that caused him strange¬ 
ness, he was upon the threshold of things as yet unknown. 

He watched — afraid as yet. She was stooped above 
a cluster of pansies. While he looked, she plucked a 
blossom here and there, her hand now hovering above 
their shade and now caressed amid their bloom, and 
raised them to her face. 

She turned then and came towards him; and he drew 
back a step. Mystery was here; not yet, not yet to 
challenge what it held! 

She reached the gates and paused a moment. The 
little breezes that had brought the flowers to him stopped 
their play; her scarf’s floating ends — gossamer and 
delicately painted — came softly to her sides. You 
might have said that the night airs had heralded her 
here, had taken form in her scarf’s ends to attend her as 
she walked, and now awaited which way she should 
please to move. 

Snow-White-and-Rose-Red! The childish apprecia¬ 
tion of her, aroused in him years before, returned to him 



again. Snow-White-and-Rose-Red — that was she! 
As when a child he had been caused a childish wonder 
and a child’s unspoilt delight at so rare a thing as she ap¬ 
peared to him, so now, seeing her for the first time with 
the new eyes that belonged to his new condition, he felt 
himself amazed and almost awed that beauty could have 
this degree. Snow-White-and-Rose-Red ! All she had 
promised in her girlish years dowered her now in the bur¬ 
geoning of her maidenhood — and dowered more than 
it had told, as all the beauty of the opening bud scarcely 
can hint the opened blossom’s beauty; and dowered more 
than it had told by the increasing strangeness, as she grew, 
of this rare perfection of each feature in one face. Rare, 
strangely rare, the transparent fairness of her skin; 
rare, rare that almost crimson shade on either cheek, 
sharply defined, not blended, as it were frozen there; 
rare the dark pansy of her wide and stilly eyes; rare, 
most rare of all, transcending all, the high air with which 
she bore herself — that her chaste and faultless face main¬ 
tained, with which her eyes looked and that her presence 
seemed to make. 

He saw her dress. He saw her scarf to be some filmy 
veil about her shoulders and that beneath it all her throat 
was bare. He saw that it was turned about her throat 
in a loose fold that lay where her bosom was disclosed 
by the silk evening gown she wore, draped low, 
but maidenly discreet. At throat, at breast, at arms, 
at hands, he saw this filmy thing was challenged of its 
whiteness and seemed to take a shade. 

She moved; he thought to speak. Mystery was here 
and held him on its threshold. 

Watching her he had a sudden new conception of her 
quality. Later, when he had spoken to her, when he had 
left her, when he trod again each passage of their meeting, 



recalled her voice, her mode of speech, and how she bore 
herself, he recalled that conception and knew it was most 
proper to her, and thrilled to know it so. 

As he looked, and afterwards as he remembered, he 
conceived the word that estimated all her beauty, all her 
quality and her degree — frozen. Frozen and thus in¬ 
vested with the strange rareness that frozen beauty has. 
Frozen and thus most proper that those flames upon her 
cheeks never could stain beyond themselves, as blood 
that will not run in snow; proper the quaint precision 
of the words she used, as icicles broken in a cold hand; 
proper the high pitch of her voice, curiously hard, with¬ 
out modulations, as winter sounds are hard. 

Snow-White-and-Rose-Red — and frozen snow and 
frozen red. She was that in his new discovery of her : 
and was that better than he knew; caparisoned and 
trained for that. 


She raised to her face the pansies he had seen her 
gather, caressed them a moment against her lips, then 
turned and went a few steps back. And then he spoke 
— stepped from the pillar’s shadow and into mystery’s 
doors and called her — “Dora!” 

The little breezes ran among the flowers: “Bend! 
Bend ! you sleepy things and blow her your caresses 
where she moves again !”—ran among the tree-tops high 
above the borders : “Salute ! Salute ! you sentinels, and 
show your joy, she comes !” — chased from her path a 
daring leaf or two — sprung to her person and bade her 
veil attend her — caught his low whisper and tossed it 
from her ears. 

Tiny the stir; yet stiller all the voice he made. He 



waited; breathed her name again — “Dora !” and then 
she heard. 

She gave the faintest start; turned, and said, “Why 
— Percival?” and then a little laugh, and then spoke 
“Percival!” again. 

He went to her. “Did I frighten you? I’m sorry.” 

He went into the mystery that barred him at the gate. 
Her surprise caused the shades upon her cheeks to flame 
to sudden crimson, promoting her beauty to its most 
high effect. Her lips — also of her surprise — were 
lightly parted, alert, with the aspect of some nymph of 
the woods and glades, startled and poised to listen. Not 
yet, not yet his to know all the truth of what influence 
had him here. He only had known he wished to see her : 
he only knew now that he wished to stay and talk with 
her. He was in the mystery — not yet of it; but al¬ 
ready, at this first contact with her presence, a glimmer¬ 
ing, a suspicion arose — softened his voice, quickened 
his senses. 

“I ought to have been frightened,” she said. “I 
never heard you come. But I scarcely was startled. 
It is the most curious circumstance, but I happened to be 
thinking of you.” 

As icicles broken in a cold hand ! 

He did not cry, as love might have directed him — 
“Thinking of me ! You !” Not yet, not yet the knowl¬ 
edge that would give that ardour. He only was boy¬ 
ishly pleased. He only said: “Were you, Dora? I’m 
awfully glad you were.” 

And she, no more aware of deeper things than he: 
“Well, they were not particularly nice thoughts I had of 
you,” she said, and gave a little laugh that toned with the 
clear pitch of her voice. “Indeed, I was vexed with 



He laughed back an easy laugh : “I wonder what I’ve 
done ? ” 

“It is what you have not done, Percival — or did not 
do. I was at the Manor all the afternoon and had the 
dullest time that anybody could imagine. Your fault. 
Rollo was expecting you to tea, and was looking out for 
you all the time, and was the most ungracious person. 
To me, you know, it is ridiculous how he seems to dote 
upon you.” 

And Percival laughed brightly again. Happy, happy 
to be with her — alone, alone at this hour, in this still 
place! “Old Rollo!” he laughed. “Well, anyway, if 
I failed him, I’ve seen you.” 

She asked him, “But why have you come — so late ?” 
and at that his laughter left him. 

“I wanted to see you,” he said. “I don’t know why,” 
and paused. 

He did not know; but in declaring it to her, and in 
that pause, came a step nearer discovery. Some name¬ 
less reason held his speech, and, while she waited, fluttered 
in his eyes and communicated its influence to her also. 
In that pause suspicion came to both of some strange 
element that trembled in the air — fugitive, remote, but 
causing its presence to be known as a scent declares itself 
upon the breeze. She saw a tinge of redness kindle in 
his face. He saw the faintest trace of deepening colour in 
the shades upon her cheeks. 

Not yet, not yet the truth ! Transient the spell and 
quickly gone. Only, a little shaken by it, “You’re 
going away soon, Dora,” he said. “I think that’s why 
I came.” 

Free of it: “But that’s not a reason,” she answered 
him lightly. “I am not going so suddenly — not till 
the end of the week.” 



“ Saturday — it’s the day after to-morrow.” 

“Ah, well, time goes so slowly here.” 

“Dull for you — I can imagine that. To this French 
school, are you going, Dora ? I heard you telling Lady 
Burdon of it.” 

“It’s not a school. No more school for me, and I am 
very thankful.” 

“Tell me what you do there.” 

She went into a sudden break of laughter. She had 
somewhere picked up a single vulgar phrase that con¬ 
sorted most strangely with her precise manner of speech. 
“Your coming here like this,” she laughed, “and asking 
such very funny things!” — then used her phrase — 
“it tickles me to death.” 

The piquancy of it delighted him, and he laughed 
delightedly, and for some reason had a stronger sense of 
her rare beauty. Not yet, not yet the truth, but nearer 
yet, even as such truth advances by the strangest and 
most secret steps. 

“Tell me, though, Dora !” 

“Oh, how it can interest you I am puzzled to imagine ! 
Pleasant enough things, then. There are twelve of us 
there, all English, I am glad to say. We never speak 
English, though—always French; and then there are Ger¬ 
man and Italian days; they make us laugh very much.” 

As icicles broken in the hand ! 

Her laughter had caused the shades on her cheek to 
glow. He gazed at her in sheerest admiration; felt a 
new stirring of his blood; felt his breath quicken. She 
was close, close to him. The little breezes that had 
attended her, and had gone as if asulk at his intrusion, 
came with a sudden little fury to win her back again, and 
smote him full with all the fragrance that she had, and 
tossed her scarf and tossed her skirt against him. 



She drew back her skirt, using the hand that held the 
pansies she had gathered. The action brushed his hand 
with hers and with her flowers. 

Not yet, not yet the truth, but almost come ! He 
slipped his fingers about her wrist, holding her hand mid¬ 
breast between them. “Give me those flowers, Dora.” 

She slower in approaching it, but suspicious again of 
some strange element in the air, as a fawn that lifts a 
doubtful head to question a new thing in the breeze. 
“You have one buttonhole already,” she told him, her 
voice not very easy. 

He looked down at Ima’s wild rose in his coat. “That’s 
nothing,” he said, and began to remove it whence it was 

He was clumsy, for his hand trembled — the other 
still had hers. He was clumsy. Thoughts, thoughts, 
were at hammer in his brain — new to him, fierce to 
him and, as from iron in a forge, striking a glow that 
glowed within his eyes. 

She saw the glow, saw how his hand shook. “It is 
well fastened,” she said. 

He broke off the rose at its head, jerked it aside and 
drew down the stalk. She suffered him to take her 
flowers, and very carefully then he placed them where the 
rose had been — hers ! hers ! That she had plucked ! 
That she had held ! He was at the truth and he looked 
at her. . 

She almost there. 

The glow in his eyes was turned full upon her and she 
stepped back from it. The secret thing the night had 
was full about her and she had alarm of it. “I find it 
rather chilly standing here,” she said, “ — and late. I 
must be going in.” 

He watched her take the veil about her shoulders 



another turn about her throat, and watched her move 
away a pace. He started after her as though he burst 
through bonds that held him. He walked beside her, 
moving his tongue in his mouth as though it were locked 
from words and sought them; and he could hear his 
heart knock. / 

So, without words — in silence that shouted louder 
than speech — they came to where the drive bent to¬ 
wards the house. She paused, and he knew his dismissal. 

His face was red, as a child reddens when control of 
tears is on the edge of breaking. His voice, when he 
spoke, had a strained note as the voice is caused to strain 
when only one thought can be spoken and a hundred 
press for speech. And strange — as between them —• 
the words at last he found: “Dora, you’d hate a man — 
wouldn’t you ? — with nothing — who just poked along 
and did nothing ? ” 

It was the door that should introduce her to the knowl¬ 
edge wherein he struggled. But she was only surprised, 
not recognising it; and surprised, relieved indeed. 
“ Any one would,” she said. 

He flung wide the door. “Ah! Do you suppose I 
am going to ?” 


Love is an instinct and is played by instinct. Strug¬ 
gling in the knowledge, in the mystery, that had drawn 
him here and that now engulfed him, he scarcely yet 
was aware that he loved, but by instinct was put in 
command of all the cunning of the game. His question 
fronted her with personal issue between them; it is 
the first, the last, the essential strategy. 

“Why, Percival!” she said and stopped — saw the 
door wide; and he saw the colour deepen where her 



colour lay. “Why, Percival, why ever should I suppose 
it of you ? 

He could control his voice no more. The strained 
note went. He said thickly: “But you’ll begin to 
think it. In time you’re bound to — if I let you. And 
then scorn me. If I just idled here you’re bound to 
scorn me. Any one would — you said it.” 

Nervous her breathing. “But you — you never 
could be like that, Percival. I’ve always thought of 
you as doing things. Every one thinks it. I have 
noticed how they do.” 

All the distress he had suffered earlier in the day was 
back with him now, joined in fiercest tumult with what 
caused his heart to knock. He cried “They soon won’t!” 
and cried it on a bitter note that made her go an unthink¬ 
ing step towards what waited her. “Percival, they 
always will,” she said. “I always will, Percival.” 

The redness went from his face. His own clear voice 
came back to him. All, all his being braced from storm 
to his control. He breathed “Dora! Will you?” 

The stress that had been his was hers. She found no 
words; she only nodded — moved her lips for “yes” 
but made no sound. He had come slowly to the truth, 
by blundering ways that sometimes brought him near 
and sometimes went astray. She was suddenly come 
— and come, not of herself, but of as it were a flame 
that his voice as he spoke, his ardour as he bent towards 
her, seemed to communicate. She was suddenly come, 
was a degree bewildered, wanted even yet some further 
light. She only nodded. 

“Dora, you are going for a long time. I heard you 

She said very low: “For a year.” 

“Dora! A year!” 



“I am to be a year away. It is the last time. It is 
to finish.” 

“ A year ! A year ! Oh, Dora, a year ! ” 

Her face was close to his, her lips a shade apart, her 
wide eyes lifted to him. Rare, rare he had thought 
her; perfect he knew her. That mystic thing the night 
had held, held them mute, magnetised, privy from 
all the world, alone. They stood so close the air he 
drew had first caressed her. They stood so close that 
her young bosom almost told him how she breathed. 
Slowly, as he were drawn to it, he stooped towards her; 
steadily, as she were held, she suffered his face to ap¬ 
proach. Their lips touched, stayed for a space—smaller, 
infinitely less, than mind can conceive; wider, immeas¬ 
urably more, as their joined spirits reckoned time, and 
rushed through time in bliss of ecstasy, than mind can 
reckon space. 

And then he kissed her. 

Crimson she flamed in the places of her colour — 
flaming and more flaming and deeper yet their flame. 
Their sharp limitations drove her driven white about 
them; from throat to flame and flame to brow as lily 
was her hue. She did not move nor speak, and he, amazed 
before her rareness, drew back a step. She might have 
been a statue, so still she stood. She might not have 
breathed, nor thought, so motionless her breast, her eyes 
so wide, so still her gaze. Only that glowing scarlet 
on her cheeks, only her skin’s transparency — soft, 
deep, as if beneath it some jewel gave a secret light — 
declared her mortal and proclaimed she lived. 

A space passed. She came from the trance in which 
she seemed to be. She gave a little sigh. As if she had 
been struck, not kissed; as if she had been robbed, not 
possessed. “Oh ! Percival!” she said. 



And he: “Oh! Dora!” 

He sprung to her, took both her hands; clasped them 
in his and adored her with his eyes; bent his head to 
them and raised them to his lips. 

“Oh, Dora, have I hurt you? Oh, Dora, I love you 

“Let me go in, Percival!” 

He held her hands against his breast. “I could not 
help it! I could not help it! I love you, Dora ! I’ve 
always loved you ! I suddenly knew I’d always loved 

She spoke so low he scarcely could hear her voice: 
“Percival, let me go in !” 

“Oh, Dora, have I hurt you? Dear, dear Dora, you 
are all the world to me. I love you so, I love you so !” 

The faintest movement of her head gave him his 
answer and gave him ecstasy. 

“I have not hurt you ? You are not angry ? I knew 

— or I would not have kissed you. Speak to me, dear 

She only whispered : “Percival, I would like to go in. 
I am afraid.” 

He cried: “I know. You are so beautiful — so 
beautiful; not meant for me to love you.” 

“You are hurting my hands, Percival.” 

He kissed her hands again — fragile and white and 
cold and scented, like crushed, cold flowers in his grasp. 
He told her: “From the very first I loved you — but 
could not know it then. From that day when I first 
saw you ! Look how I must have been born to love you 

— you’ll not be frightened then. Snow-White-and-Rose- 
Red I called you. Smile, darling Dora, as you smiled 
when I told you in the muddy lane that day. Do you 
remember ?” 

28 o 


She had no smile: still seemed aswoon, still scarcely 
breathed, as some bewildered dove — captured, past 
fluttering — which only quivers in the hands that hold 

“If only you can sometimes think of me. You will 
understand then and think again perhaps, and know all 
my life is changed, and know that everything I do I shall 
do for you. I’ll not see you again. I’ll not be here 
when you come back.” 

At that he felt her fingers move within his hands. 

“I cannot stay here now — now that I love you. I 
shall go.” 

He felt her tremble, and she breathed: “Oh, why? 
Oh, where ?” 

“How could I face you again and still be idling here? 
I don’t know where, Dora. I only know why — be¬ 
cause I love you so. Anywhere, anything to get me 
something that will give you to me !” 

She whispered “Percival!” and stopped as though 
she had not strength for more. And he breathed 
“Dora!” as though he knew what she would say and 
by intensity of love would draw it from her. 

She slowly drew her hands from his. She took them 
to her breast, and faltered again — again as she were 
wounded, afraid, struck, threatened, atremble at some 
fearful brink, robbed of some vital virtue: “Oh, Per¬ 
cival !” and caught her breath and said “Oh, Percival, 
what is it — this ?” 

“It is love !” he cried. “Dora, it is love !” 

She gave a little sigh; she unclasped her hands; 
seemed to relax in all her spirit; suffered her hands, like 
cold white flowers floating earthwards, lovewards to 
float to his. 

“Tell me !” he breathed. 



Soft as her hands fell, “I always shall think of you,” 
she told him. 

He besought her “Tell me!” 

She whispered “Always !” 

In a man’s voice, out of a sudden and terrible review 
of his condition — possessed of nothing, chained to do 
nothing — and of her high estate: “Others will love 
you !” he cried. 

As they would nestle there and there abide, her fingers 
moved within his hands. 

In a man’s voice, full man as full love makes, “Tell 
me,” he besought her. 

Scarcely perceptible her answer came; scarcely her 
lips moved for it — faint as the timid breeze ventured 
to the innermost thicket, soft as the hushed caress of 
summer rain along the hedgerows, “I shall always love 
you,” she breathed. 

Shortly he left her. 




It was past eleven when Percival got back to “Post 
Offlc.” He had been absent seven hours. He felt him¬ 
self removed by thrice as many years from the moment 
when he had flung away from Aunt Maggie to work off 
by active exercise the feelings aroused in him when, to 
his demands that he must be doing something with his 
life, she had prayed him only wait. 

Day then, night now, and he as changed. 

The mood he brought her was unlike any he had pro¬ 
posed should be his case. On Plowman’s Ridge before 
he saw Japhra he had imagined for his return a petulant, 
a trying-to-be-calm scene in which he should repeat his 
purpose that an end must be made of the purposeless way 
of life in which she was keeping him. By Fir-Tree Pool, 
with wise Japhra propounding how a man must encourage 
his spirit and defeat his flesh, he had imagined himself 
gentle with dear Aunt Maggie; gently showing her what 
restlessness had him, persuading her to his ends, or, of his 
love for her, accepting her wishes. Now he was come 
back and neither case was his. Day then, night now, and 
he as changed. Now he had lived that hour with Dora 
in the drive; now he had kissed her; now had heard her 
breathe “I shall always love you.” Gone every thought 
of petulant distress; gone Japhra’s counsels — gone 
boyhood, manhood come ! 




The change was stamped upon his face, figured in his 
air. Aunt Maggie looked up eagerly as he entered. 
She had waited him anxiously. He stood a moment on 
the threshold of the room and looked at her with steady, 
reckoning eyes. She saw; and she greeted him fear¬ 
fully. “Why, Percival, dear, how very late you are,” 
she said. 

He replied: “It took me longer to get back than I 

His tone matched his aspect and the look in his eyes. 
Aunt Maggie’s voice trembled a little: “You must 
have been a long way, dear?” 

“A good many miles,” he said, and came forward and 
went to his place at the table where supper was laid, and 
sat down. 

“Are you very tired, dear? — you look tired.” 

“No — no, thank you, Aunt Maggie.” 

His voice was absent — or stern; and absently — or 
sternly — he looked at her across the table. 

She caught her breath and hesitated, and began pa¬ 
thetically to try by brightness to rally him from his 

“At least you must be terribly hungry,” she smiled. 
“Here comes Honor with just what you like.” 

A tray tanged against the door, and was borne in by 
Honor, uncommonly grim of the face. 

“Now wasn’t that clever of Honor!” Aunt Maggie 
went on. “Five minutes ago — after waiting since 
seven — she said she knew you would be just in time 
if she began to cook the trout then; and here it is ready, 
and most delicious, I’m sure, just as you arrive.” 

Honor’s actual words had been: “Time and tide wait 
for no dangerous delays, Miss Oxford, and I don’t 
neither — not a single instant longer. I’ll put these 



troutses on now which ought to have been on at ten 
minutes to seven, and I’ll cook ’em, and cook ’em and 
cook ’em till I drop fainting on my own kitchen carpet 
and till they’re nasty black cinders that will serve him 
right. Lost his way! lost his nasty bold temper! 
It’s no good talking different to me, Miss, not if your 
voice was tinkling trumpets, it isn’t! ” She had burst in 
with her tray prepared to repeat her wrath to Percival’s 
face, but caught the appealing look in Aunt Maggie’s 
eyes, perceived that something was seriously amiss with 
Percival, and exchanged her heat for the affection he 
had won in her from the first moment, years before, of 
his arrival — the sweetest bundle of shawls — at “Post 

“ Cooked to a turn, Master Percival, dear,” Honor said, 
uncovering before him the steaming dish. 

“And only just caught,” Aunt Maggie smiled. “Rollo 
brought them in just before supper time.” 

And Honor: “And want it you do, as I can see. 
Nasty pinched look you’ve got, Master Percival.” 

And Aunt Maggie: “And look at that beer, dear. 
You’d scarcely think it was a new cask, would you? 
As clear as crystal.” 

And Honor: “Ah, ‘Pitch that cask about,’ I says to 
the man when he delivered it. ‘Pitch that cask about, 
my beauty, and you can pitch it back into your waggin’, 
I says. ‘Young master don’t want to eat his beer with 
a knife and fork, not if you do,’ I says sharp.” 

And Aunt Maggie: “You see what care we take of 
you, Percival, although you leave us all day long.” 

And Honor: “And now I’ll just get your slippers 
down for you. Nothing like slippers when you’re 
tired. And then you’ll be to rights.” 



So these fond women, perceiving him amiss, strove, as 
women will, to heal him with their sympathy; and reck¬ 
oned nothing — as is woman’s part — that he nothing 
responded to their gentleness nor anything abated his 
set and brooding air. The world may be chased up and 
down to find men conspired to soothe a woman’s brow 
and scarcely will disclose a single case. Men weary or 
wax impatient of such a task. But every household at 
some time shows women gently engaged against a bear¬ 
ish man. It is the woman’s part — womanly as we say: 
using a rare word for a beautiful virtue. 

At another time — in the days before that evening’s 
magic, in the life that preceded his present only by 
that hour in the drive with Dora — Percival had long 
been won from moodiness by their solicitude for him. 
Not now ! Those days were only a single hour gone; 
its events sundered them from the present by an abyss 
that had a lifetime’s depth, a lifetime’s breadth from 
marge to marge. New feelings were his and they en¬ 
veloped him against old appeals as a suit of mail against 
arrows. New prospects held his eyes and they blotted 
out homelier visions as the changed scene of a play is 
dropped across an earlier background. He was not pre¬ 
occupied and therefore unaware of the loving sentences 
addressed to him. His case was this — that he was a 
new man, and as a stranger, therefore, listening to affec¬ 
tions that did not concern him. That he found himself 
insensible to their appeal was not that he loved Aunt 
Maggie less or had suffered abatement of the affection 
he had for hot-tongued, warm-hearted Honor. None of 
these. It was this only — that he loved another more; 
this only — that the fires of his love had sprung out in a 



new place and there burned with heat infinitely more 
fierce than the flame where formerly his affections had 
warmed their hands, 


Such of his meal as he required — and that was 
what habit, not appetite, demanded — he ate in silence. 
To silence also Aunt Maggie went, shortly after Honor 
had left them. She attempted once or twice to continue 
to persuade him from his mood — protested that he was 
eating nothing; sought to rally him with little scraps 
of gossip, with questions touching his afternoon. Of no 
avail. Presently she clasped her hands together on 
the table before him, and only watched him, and only 
sought to discover from his face what thing it was his 
face betided, and only felt her fears increase. 

When he was done he pushed back his chair and she 
dropped her eyes, for his were now upon her and had 
the steady, reckoning look she had observed — and 
feared — when he regarded her for that moment at 
his entrance. She could not endure the feeling that 
he watched her, and watched her so. “You will go 
to bed soon, Percival,” she said. “You do look so 

He replied: “I am not tired. I have something to 
ask you first, Aunt Maggie;” and after a pause he went 
on: “Aunt Maggie, I was telling you this afternoon that 
I thought I ought to be doing something. Well, more 
than that I thought I ought to be doing something, 
and more than merely telling you — because I know I 
was in a great state about it and went off in a great 

She answered, “Yes, Percival?” 


“You said there was plenty of time for that.” 

“Yes, Percival.” 

“There isn’t, Aunt Maggie.” And he went on quickly: 
“there isn’t plenty of time to think about what I am 
going to do. I am not a boy any longer. Even if I 
started to-morrow I should be starting late. Every one 
at my age is doing something.” 

His tone was firm and quiet but was kind. She said 
that which made it take a harder note. 

“Percival, you need only wait,” she said, “till you 
are twenty-one.” 

She saw his face darken in a change as swift and chill 
as sudden shadow along the sea. “Oh, that!” he cried. 
“That! I don’t want to hear that any more or ever 
again ! Is that all you have for me ? ” 

She clasped and unclasped her hands on the table be¬ 
fore her. He waited several moments for her answer. 
Then he said: “And what am I to do till then?” 

She told him: “Only wait with me, Percival.” 

He said very quietly: “No, I will not, wait. I will 
not stay with you. I am going away.” 

The stress that each suffered was broken out of them 
by his announcement. The thought of losing him, the 
thought of how a word, revealing her secret, would keep 
him, broke from her in her cry: “No, no, Percival! 
Oh, Percival, no!” 

Her sudden voice and its anguish smote him to his 
depths in his own stress as a sudden cry in the night that 
shocks the heart. He uttered in a voice she had never 
heard — most hoarse, most a tremble: “Oh, under¬ 
stand ! For pity’s sake try to understand. I am so 
that I will never sleep again — never again till I have 
earned my sleep. Oh, understand that I am a man !” 

She saw his dear face, his handsome face, his face 



that she loved so and was to lose unless she spoke, all 
twisted up as though he writhed in pain. She cried: 
“Percival, don’t look like that. I can keep you. I 
cannot let you go.” 

He looked at her with eyes that told his anguish of 
this scene and of his spirit. “ You cannot keep me,” 
he said. “ I am going.” 

She breathed : “By telling you I can keep you.” 

He said : “Tell me, then.” 

She began, her tongue heavy as a key is rusty that is 
to turn in a lock closed eighteen years; “Rollo —” she 
began, and stopped. 

He had for a moment believed that she intended to 
tell him this matter affecting his future that he knew 
must be delusion — some wonderful plan, as wonderful 
as impossible, such as a woman leading Aunt Maggie’s 
retired life might have — whose delusion, having it 
before him, he could at last show her. But at her 
“Rollo,” disappointed, he broke out, “Oh, what has old 
Rollo to do with it?” 

Her voice was making a stumbling effort to hold on at 
turning the key. But his “Old Rollo” caused her to 
halt, afraid, as one turning a key in very fact might halt 
and draw back at a footstep. 

He saw her face go grey with the hue of ashes. “Aunt 
Maggie !” he cried, and got up quickly and went to her. 
“I don’t mean to be unkind. I must go. I cannot stay. 
But I’m not going angry — not running away. I love 
you — love you, you know how I love you. Just think 
of it as going on a visit. It’s no more than that. I’m 
going with old Japhra — that’s not like going, being with 
him, is it?” 

She just said : “When, dear ?” 

“Darling, in the morning. At daybreak.” 



She began to cry, and clung to him. But it was more 
than losing him had made that ashy hue in her face that 
had wrung his heart. It was realisation of a sudden 
thing that menaced her revenge — a thing suddenly 
arisen in its long, long path whose end she now was reach¬ 
ing. Thinking, when the hour came, the more dread¬ 
fully to strike Lady Burdon, she had deliberately made 
possible and had encouraged the friendship between 
Percival and Rollo. Had she gone too far ? What 
when she told Percival and he saw it was “Old Rollo” 
he was to displace, “ Old Rollo ” upon whom he was to 
bring disaster — what if — ? 

She dared not so much as finish that question. 




In the morning when he came early to her room, she 
was easier and able only to suffer her distress at losing 
him. Thoughts had come to her, helping her; and 
helping her the more in that they were of a part with the 
fatalism which had assured her at Audrey’s death-bed 
that nothing could go wrong in her scheme. His resolve 
to go away was surely, she thought, fate’s contribution 
to her success. Always she had planned for twenty-one 
— when he should be of age, and qualified himself to 
avenge his mother. Last night, in agony at losing him, 
she had nearly robbed herself of that. Fate, in guise 
of her panic realisation of his affection for Rollo, had 
interfered to stop her. Last night she had thought 
it insupportable to be left without him. While 
she lay sleepless — and heard her darling pacing his 
floor in the next room — fate had again encouraged 
her heart by showing her that this was well, not ill — 
that this was fate working for her; well that he should 
now, in the last period, be separated from Rollo. 

Thus supported she was saved from the uttermost 
extremity of the collapse that came upon her when fondly 
he kissed her as she lay in bed, left her, returned to press 
her to him again. — ‘‘Think of it as a visit, Aunt Maggie, 
only that. Just a visit to give these idle whacking great 
hands something to do” — and then was gone. 



One or two — up thus early — who saw him go by 
and came to Aunt Maggie when it was noised that he 
had gone away, told her how stern he looked — how 
strange. Miss Purdie, early in her garden, had noticed 
it. “Oh, Miss Oxford, if I had known! Oh, to think 
he was going when I saw him ! Oh, and I suspected 
something was wrong. There was something in his face 
I had never seen there before. I thought to myself 
‘Now what is the matter with you, I wonder?’ And I 
stood and looked after him, and dropped one of my garden 
gloves and never knew I had lost it until I was back in 
the house and found I had only one to take off. Oh, when 
I think of all his sweet ways and his handsome face. . . . ” 


Stern he looked and strange, and stern his thoughts 
and difficult. His plans ran to coming up with Japhra 
on the Dorchester Road and joining him. Beyond ? — 
he could supply nothing beyond. His urgent desire 
went to being away from home, and for his own respect 
and for his mind’s ease working to earn his food. Be¬ 
yond ? — he could see nothing beyond. His thoughts 
and all his heart and all his being went to his Dora, to 
her exquisite beauty, to the rapture of their kiss, to the 
divine ecstasy of her whisper, “I shall always love you;” 
beyond? — black, black beyond, most utter black, most 
utter hopeless; emptiness most utter, mock most shrill, 
most sharp. 

He laughed, poor boy; and “Fool! Fool!” cried, 
“abject fool!” He groaned, poor boy, and “Dora! 
Dora!” cried, “oh! Dora!” He set his teeth, poor 
boy, and braced his strength; threw up his chin and 
clenched a fist, and “Somehow! Somehow!” cried, 



Most to be pitied then, poor boy, as old friend wind, in 
whose path now he came, knew and mocked, or might 
have known and surely mocked — buffeting him with 
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” tossing his “Somehow! Somehow!” 
from his lips and chasing it and tearing it as old friend 
wind had heard resolves and mocked and tossed and 
chased and torn them from end to end along its course 
since mankind first resolving came. 

But he was helped by that strong “Somehow!” as 
by resolve mankind — and youth the most of all — is 
ever helped. More stern, not less, it made him, but 
launched a shaft of light into the darkness of that Beyond 
— showing the adventure, not the desert there; in¬ 
spiring him that somehow stuff was to be found there 
that somehow he would wrest to himself, somehow 
shape and beat to win him fulfilment of all his hopes. 

Thus he was in brighter mood when presently he 
brought the white riband of the Dorchester road into 
view, in mood bright enough to laugh when, striking 
towards the spot where he proposed to pick up the van, 
he saw on a gate there a lank figure, bundle over shoulder, 
that suggested to him it could be no one but Egbert 
Hunt. He laughed — then had a tender look in his eyes, 
for his thoughts, as he made along in the direction of gate 
and figure, went to Rollo. 


On his way home, when he had left Dora on the 
previous night, he had called in at Burdon Old Manor to 
bid Rollo good-by. Lady Burdon had gone to bed. 
He found Rollo in the billiard room, Egbert Hunt mark¬ 
ing for him, and it was what had passed between them 
that had emphasised the endearment in his tone when he 
had said “Old Rollo” to Aunt Maggie. 



Tender his look when he recalled how “Old Rollo,” 
hearing he was going away, had dropped his cue and 
stared at him in blank dismay, then questioned him, 
and then had listened with twitching mouth when he had 
cried, “Oh, Rollo, things are so steep for me, old man. 
I can’t explain. I must get out of this, that’s all!” 

For the first time — and the only time — in all their 
friendship it had been Rollo’s to play the supporter. 
“Why, Percival, dear, dear old chap,” he had cried, 
“don’t look like that. For God’s sake, don’t. What¬ 
ever’s wrong I can help you. We are absolute, absolute 
pals. No one ever had such a pal as you’ve been to me — 
now it’s my turn. Stay here with us a bit, old man. 
Yes, that’s what you’ll do. Let’s fix that, old man. 
That will make everything right. Everything I’ve got is 
yours — you know that, don’t you, old man ? ” 

And when he had shaken his head and had explained 
that it was work — work for his hands he wanted, and 
was going to find with Japhra, Rollo had vented his 
feelings on Egbert Hunt with “What the devil are you 
standing there listening for, Hunt ? Get out of this ! 
Didn’t I tell you to go? Get out!” And when they 
were alone, and when he had seen that Percival was not to 
be moved, had revealed his affection in last words that 
brought a dimness to Percival’s eyes as he recalled 

“Men don’t talk about these things,” Rollo had said, 
“so I’ve never told you all you are to me — but it’s a 
fact, Percival, that I’m never really happy except when 
I’m with you. I’ve been like that ever since we met, 
and in all the jolly days we’ve had together. You know 
the sort of chap I am — quite different from you. I 
don’t get on with other people. I’ve always hated the 
idea of going to Cambridge this October because it means 



mixing with men I shan’t like and leaving you. You’re 
everything to me, old man. It’s always been my hope — 
I don’t mind telling you now you’re going — that when I 
settle down, after I come of age — you know what I mean 
— it’s always been my hope that we’ll be able to fix it up 
together somehow. I shall have business and things to 
look after — you know what I mean — that you can 
manage a damn sight better than I can. And I’ll want 
some one to look after me — the kind of chap I am; a 
shy ass, and delicate. And you’re the one, the only, only 
one. Just remember that, won’t you, old man? ...” 


Percival was aroused from his warm recollection of it 
by the figure on the gate hailing him. Egbert Hunt it 
was. “Good lord!” Percival cried. “What on earth 
are you doing here — this time in the morning and with 
that bundle ?” 

“Coming with you,” said Hunt. 

“With me ! Do you know where I’m going ?” 

Egbert Hunt pointed up the road where Japhra’s van 
came plodding. “In that. Heard you tell Lord Burdon 
last night. Heard you say that Mr. Stingo’s crowd was 
short of hands. The life for me. Fac’.” 

Percival stared at him — a grown man now, lanky, 
unhealthy, white of face. 

“Does Rollo — does Lord Burdon know? Did he 
say you might go ? ” 

“Told me to go to ’ell.” 

Percival laughed. “You’ll find it that — you fright¬ 
ful ass.” 

“I’ll be free,” said Egbert darkly. “No man’s slave 
I won’t be any more. Every man’s as good as the next 



where you’re bound, I reckon. No more tyrangs for me. 
You’re my sort, and always have been.” 

The van was up to them and pulled up with Japhra’s 
surprised hail of greeting. Percival went to him where 
he sat on the forward platform. “Japhra, here’s a 
hand for one of your crowd — a friend of mine. Is there 
work for him ? ” 

Japhra looked at Egbert with unveiled belittlement. 
“ There’s work for all sorts,” he said drily. “ For him 
perhaps. Get up behind,” he addressed Egbert. “I’ll 
let old One Eye have a look at thee. He wants a hand.” 

Percival swung up beside Japhra and smiled good 
morning at Ima, who had come to the door. “Go on, 

“That’s a poor lot, that friend of thine,” said Japhra, 
clicking his tongue at Pilgrim. “How far dost thou come 
with us, little master ?” 

“All the way, Japhra.” 

Japhra looked at him keenly. “To Dorchester?” 

“Farther than that. I’m going to be third lad in your 
boxing booth, Japhra. Go on; I’ll explain.” 




It was two years — near enough — before Percival 
came again to Burdon Village. Egbert Hunt found work 
with old One Eye who had the Wild West Rifle Range. 
Percival became “Japhra’s Gentleman” (as the van folk 
called him), living with Japhra and Ima in the van, and 
earning his way in Japhra’s booth. 

A tough life, a quick life, a good life; and he “trained 
on, ” as they said in the vans of beast or man or show that, 
starting fresh, slipped into stride and did well. He 
trained on. Little room for trouble or for brooding 
thoughts. Up while yet the day was grey; stiff work 
in boots and vest and trousers in taking down the booth 
and loading-up, harnessing and getting your van away 
before too many kept the dust stirring ahead of you. 
Keen appetite for the breakfasts Ima cooked, eaten on the 
forward platform with the van wheels grinding the road 
beneath. The long, long trail to the next pitch, — 
now with Ima as she sat, one eye on the horse, the other 
on her needle, sewing, darning, making; now plodding 
alongside with Japhra, drinking his quaint philosophy, 
hearing his strange tales of men and countries, fights and 
hard trades he had seen. Now forward along the long 
line of waggons, now dropping back where they trailed 
a mile down the road; joining this party or that, 




chaffing with the brown-faced girls or walking with the 
men and listening to their tales of their craft and of 
their lives. Sometimes the road from pitch to pitch was 
short; then the midday meal would be taken at the new 
site and there would be an hour’s doze before the booths 
were set up and business begun. Usually the journey 
took the greater part of the day — frequently without a 
halt — and work must begin immediately on arrival; the 
boxing booth built up — first the platform on which 
Percival and Japhra, Ginger Cronk and Snowball White 
paraded to attract the crowd—a thing of boards and 
trestles, the platform, that by sheer sweating labour must 
be made to lie even and stable whatever the character of 
the ground; three uprights at either end that sometimes 
must be forced into soil iron hard and sometimes must be 
coaxed to hold firm in marshy bog. The booth itself to 
be rigged then — the wooden framework that must be 
lashed and nailed and screwed; the wide lengths of 
canvas eyeletted for binding together; stakes for the 
ring to be driven in; seats to be bolted together and 
covered — and all at top, top speed with a mouthful of 
nails and screws and “Who in hell’s got that mallet?” 
and “A hand here ! a hand sharp ! Blast her ! she’s 
slipped again ! ” and many a bruised finger and always a 
sweating back. And then sharp, sharp into the flannels, 
and out with the gloves; and parade till the booth was 
full; and spar exhibition rounds alleged to be for weighty 
purses; and fight all the challengers from the crowd 
four rounds apiece, any weight; and top-up with a stiff 
six rounds announced by Snowball White: “A sporting 
gentleman having put up a purse for knock-out or win 
on points match between Ginger Cronk, ten stun cham¬ 
pion of the west, — who beat Curly Hawkins in eight 
rounds, knocked out Alf Jacobs after a desperate ding- 

2 gS 


dong o’ fourteen rounds, defeated Young Philipps in five 
rounds, and Jew Isaacs in sixteen, — and Gentleman 
Percival, a lad with a future before him, whom you’ll 
be proud to have seen, gentlemen, discovered this 
summer by Gipsy Japhra, the man who held the light¬ 
weight champion belt for four years in America and who 
has trained with all the great ring heroes, bare-knuckle 
men, gentlemen, of a glorious Prize Ring period of the 
past. You are requested to pass no remarks during the 
progress of this desperate encounter, but to signify 
appreciation in the usual manner. Gentlemen, Mr. 
Ginger Cronk, Mr. Gentleman Percival — TIME!—” 
And so on; and winding up with “a remarkable ex¬ 
hibition in which Gipsy Japhra, partnered by Gentleman 
Percival, will show the style and methods of the old P. R. 
gentlemen” — and then back to the platform again, to 
parade, to fill the booth, to fight — and so till the last 
visitor had left the fair to night and to its hoarse and 
worn-out workers. 

A tough life, a quick life, a good life; . . . and Percival 
trained on. At first he had been considerably tasked by 
the rough and tumble, ding-dong work in the boxing 
booth following the strenuous labour of the day, with no 
time lost between pitch and pitch. Aching limbs he had 
dropped on his couch when at last rest came, and tender 
face, bruised from six or seven hours’ punching, that 
even the soft pillow seemed to hurt. But he trained on. 
In a few weeks it was tired to bed but unaching, unhurt — 
only deliciously weary with the wearyness of perfect 
muscles and nerves relaxed to delicious rest; early 
afoot, keen, and sound, and vigorous; brisk, ready 
smiling to jump into the ring for the last P. R. exhibition 
with old Japhra as for the first spar with Ginger Cronk 
or Snowball White. “Thou art the fighting type,” wise 



Japhra had told him years before; and those exhibition 
rounds with the old man were each of them lessons that 
brought him to rare skill with his fists. 

While they sat together before their turn Japhra would 
instruct what was to be learnt this time, and while they 
sparred “Remember!” Japhra would call, “Remem¬ 
ber ! Good ! Good ! — Weak ! Weak ! — Follow it! 
Follow it! — Speed’s thy game ! — Quick as thou 
canst sling them! — See how that hook leaves thee 
unguarded ! — Again ! — All open to me again ! — 
Again! — ah, take it, then!” and clip! to the unpro¬ 
tected stomach, savage as he could drive it, would come 
old Japhra’s left; and Percival go gasping, and Ginger 
Cronk to the spectators: “With that terrible punch, 
gentlemen, Gipsy Japhra knocked out Boy Duggan and 
took the championship belt at Los Angeles. Put your 
hands together, gentlemen, and give ’em a ’earty clap.” 
When the round was ended Japhra would go over it 
point by point. When they sat or walked together, at 
meals or on the road, he was forever imparting his advice, 
his knowledge, his experience. He was never tired of 
teaching . . . and Percival trained on. 


There came a day when “Thou must go slow with me,” 
Japhra said after they had finished their round. “ I have 
put skill to thy youth and strength. Thou must go slow 
with me or the folks will see nothing of the parts I am 
to show them.” There came a day when he was given 
demonstration — if he had cared to recognise it for such 
— that the van folk knew him for a clever one with his 
fists. Foxy Pinsent supplied it. 

In all the crowd of tough characters that made up 

3 °° 


Maddox’s Royal Circus and Monster Menagerie with 
its attendant booths Foxy Pinsent alone gave him a 
supercilious lip or darkling scowl where others gave 
him smile and welcome. Foxy Pinsent had an old grudge 
against him — as Japhra had said — and lost no oppor¬ 
tunity to rub it. The fact that “Japhra’s Gentleman” 
was in the way of becoming a rival attraction to his own 
fame among the crowds that flocked to the fairs sharpened 
his spleen. The ever increasing bad blood between the 
two factions — Maddox’s and Stingo’s — gave him 
chance to exercise it. 

Percival came hot to Japhra one day: “Damn that 
man Pinsent, Japhra. He’s going too far with me. He’s 
been putting it about the vans that I am too much the 
gentleman to go with a Maddox man — that I said in his 
hearing I refused to go with Dingo Spain to buy bread 
yesterday because I would not be seen in his company 
by decent people.” 

Japhra looked up at the angry face: “Let him bide. 
Let him bide.” 

“I’m not afraid of him.” 

“Nor I of adders, but I do not disturb their nests — 
nor lie in their ways.” 

On a day the reason came for Percival to cross the 
adder’s way. Egbert Hunt knocked over a bucket in 
which one of Pinsent’s negro pugilists was about to wash. 
The man used his fists, then his boots, on Hunt, sending 
him back brutally used. Percival sought out the black, 
outfought him completely, and administered a punishing 
that appeared to him to meet the case. Then came 

“You’ve put your hands to one of my men, I hear—to 
Buck Osborn?” 

“An infernal bully,” said Percival. 



“ You’ve put your hands to one of my men !” 

“And will again if he gives me cause !” 

Foxy Pinsent came nearer, thin mouth and narrow 
eyes contracted in his ring expression. “Watch me, my 
gentleman; my lads’ quarrels are mine. Watch out how 
you go your ways.” 

Percival glanced behind to see he had room: “You 
can leave that to me. I’ll not have my friends knocked 

“It’s you in danger of the knocking about, my gentle¬ 
man ! That fine face of yours would take a bloody 

Percival slipped back his right foot six inches and 
glanced behind him again: “Try it, Pinsent.” 

Foxy Pinsent noticed the action. He moved his left 
fist upwards a trifle, then dropped it to his side and 
turned away with a laugh: “I don’t fight boys; I 
thrash ’em.” 

“You know where to find me,” Percival said. 


So and in this wise he trained on to the tough, quick, 
good life; and in spirit developed as in body. The 
deeper he knew Japhra, the wider became his compre¬ 
hension of life. He had failed once in the struggle with 
self, and that on the very night of Japhra’s instruction of 
how that struggle should be fought: he was training 
on now not to fail again if ever the Big Fight should 
come. “What, art thou vexed again?” Japhra would 
say when sometimes he fell to brooding. “Get at the 
littleness of it — get at the littleness of it. It will pass. 
Remember what endureth. Not man nor man’s work — 
only the green things that fade but come again Spring 

3 02 


by Spring; only the brown earth that to-day humbly 
supports thee, to-morrow obscurely covers thee; only 
the hills yonder that shoulder aside the wind; only the 
sea that changeth always but changeth never; only the 
wind on our cheeks here, that to-day suffers itself to go 
in harness to yonder mill and to-morrow will wreck it 
and encourage the grass where it stood. Lay hold on 
that when aught vexeth thee ; all else passe th. ...” 

He trained on. Trifle by trifle and more and more he 
received and held, understood and stored for profit the 
little man’s philosophy; trifle by trifle, more and more, 
developed qualities that made for the quality of self- 
restraint that ripened within him. Whatever his mood 
there was always peace and balm for him in the van. 
Many signs discovered to him that he was not merely an 
accepted part of Japhra’s life and Ima’s but a very 
active part; the little stir of welcome told him that — the 
little stir that always greeted him when he came on them 
sitting together. 

They called him “Percival” now, at his desire. To 
Japhra he was still sometimes Little Master; to Ima 
never. But in Ima’s ways and in her speech he noticed 
altogether a change in these days. The “Thou” and 
“Thee” and “Thine” of her former habit were gone: 
she never appeared now with naked feet, but always 
neatly hosed and shod. Gentle in her movements too, 
and seemly in her dress, Percival noticed, and he came 
to find her strange — a thing apart — in her rough 
surroundings; strange to them and remote from them 
when she sat plying her needle, attending to his hungry 
wants and Japhra’s, or mothering some baby from a 
neighbour’s van. He came to think her — contrasted 
thus with all the sights and sounds about her — the 
gentlest creature that could be; her voice wonderfully 




soft, her touch most kind when she dressed a bruise or 
nursed him, as once when he lay two days sick. She 
mended his clothes; made some shirts for him; passed 
all his things through her hands before he might wear 
them; and never permitted him clothes soiled, or lacking 
buttons, or wanting the needle. 

He was leaving the van once to go into the town against 
which they were pitched. She called him back. The 
scarf he wore was soiled, she said, and she came to him 
with a clean one. 

He laughed at her: “It’s absolutely good enough.” 

“No, soiled,” she said, and took it from his neck and 
placed the other. 

He playfully prevented her fingers. “I’m like a child 
with a strict nurse — the way you look after me.” 

She replied, smiling but serious: “It is not for you to 
get into rough ways.” 

“ They’re good enough for me.” 

She shook her head. “You are not always for such.” 




The first winter of this life Percival spent with Japhra 
in the van; the second took him, for the first time since 
he had broken away, back to “Post Offic.” Ima left 
them, when the circus broke up in that first October, 
to go to her doctor friend in Norfolk, there to continue 
the education she had imposed upon herself. Egbert 
Hunt took her place, and the three started to tour the 
country till Spring and the reassembly of Maddox’s 
should be round again. But winter on the road proved 
inclement to Mr. Hunt’s nature. A week of frost in 
early December that had them three days snow-bound 
and on pinching short commons decided him for less 
arduous ways of life. He left them for London, his 
pockets well enough lined by his season’s apprenticeship to 
old One Eye; they had news of him once as a socialist 
open air speaker in company with some organisation of 
malcontents of his kidney; once as prominent in an 
“unemployed” disturbance and in prison for seven days 
as the price of his activities. 

“He will know gaol a longer term ere he has done,” 
was Japhra’s comment. “A weak, bad streak in him.” 

Percival laughed. “Poor old Hunt. More bitter than 
ever against ‘tyrangs’ now, Japhra. He’s been shaping 
that way since I first knew him — often made me laugh 
with his outbursts. ” 




“Best keep clear of that kind,” Japhra said. “The 
stick for such.” 

They pushed North. Neither had a feeling for roofs or 
fireside that winter. The tinkering and the Punch and 
Judy kept them in enough funds scarcely to draw upon 
the season’s profits. Japhra plied him at the one; 
Percival took chief hand in the other. A tough life, a 
quiet life, a good life. With only their two selves for 
company they talked much and read much of the three 
fighting books that were Japhra’s library. Percival was 
almost sorry when Maddox’s was picked up again and 
Ima rejoined them. He welcomed the second winter when 
it came; chance fell that it had him scarcely a month 
alone with Japhra when it saw him leave the van, and 
homeward bound to Burdon. 


Two letters gave him this sudden impulse. Both were 
from “Post Ofhc”—one forwarded thence — and 
seemed to have partnered one another on a long and 
devious search before finding him. One was from 
Aunt Maggie. The other he opened first and opened 
with hands that trembled a little. Well he knew that 
regular, clear writing! He had only seen it in notes to 
Rollo, invitations to tea, in the days gone by, but it was 
as memorized to him as in him every memory of her was 
graven — Dora’s ! 

His hands trembled that held this the first sign of her 
since he had left her in the drive at Abbey Royal on that 
night eighteen months before, and his breath ran quick. 
The first sign ! He had urged her at their parting he 
might write to her. She had desired he should not. 
Letters at the French school might only come, it ap¬ 
peared, from parents, or in handwriting authorised by 



parents, and only to such quarters might be addressed. 
He had accepted the fate. Nay, well it should be so, 
he had told her. He would not— could not, for he loved 
her so ! — see her again, be the time never so long, 
till somehow he had won some place in the world; very 
well, not even write to her. Their hearts alone should 
bind them: “For, Dora, you are to be mine. Somehow 
I shall do it — not see you till I have. You will re¬ 
member — that is all, remember.’’ 

How had she remembered ? He broke the seal and 
held his breath to read. 

She wrote from Burdon House in Mount Street: 
explaining the address as though he had not known 
Mrs. Espart had taken it on lease at the time of Lord 
Burdon’s death: — 

Dear Percival, 

We returned here yesterday from the South of France, 
where we have been with Rollo and Lady Burdon. 
Did you know that Mother has taken Rollo’s house here 
until he wants it and turns us out? I am writing for 
Rollo. I think you will be distressed to learn that he 
has been very ill — beginning with pneumonia. But 
we left him better, and they are following us to London 
soon. He most urgently desired me to tell you this, 
and that you must come and see him then. He says 
that he must see you again; and, indeed, he is forever 
talking of you. As to that, I must tell you that when I' 
was with him we saw in an illustrated paper some pic¬ 
tures entitled “Life among the Showmenand in one, 
on a tent was to be seen “Gentleman Percival.” From 
what Rollo told us, that was your tent. He was very 
excited about it; and to me it was very singular to have 
come upon it like that. 



Well, I have written his address on the back of this, 
and you must certainly write to him or he will think 
that I have not told you and that I side with Lady Burdon 
and Mother in estimating that you are “very wild,” 
which I do not. 

I address this to your home; but it is hard to know if 
it will ever reach you. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dora Espart. 

How had she remembered ? No trace of any memory 
of love was in the lines he carried to his lips and read 
again and many times again. He reckoned nothing of that. 
He read what he had expected to find. He read herself, 
as in the months that separated that magic hour in the 
drive he had come again to think of her — as one as 
purely, rarely, chastely different from her sisters as 
driven snow upon the Downside from snow that thaws 
along the road; as one that he should never have dared 
terrify by his rough ardour into that swooning “Oh, 
Percival, what is it, this ? ” Realising that, moment of his 
passion, he sometimes writhed in self-reproach to think 
how violently he must have distressed her: sometimes 
hoped she had forgotten it — else surely shame of how 
her delicacy had been ravished at his hands would make 
her shrink at meeting him again. So this letter that 
had no hint of memory of love rejoiced and moved him 
to his depths. Unchanged from his boyish adoration 
of her, it revealed her, and unchanged he would have her 
be. Its precise air, its selected words, its stilted phrases, 
spoke to him as with her very voice — “It was very 
singular to me; ” “ It is hard to know : ” as icicles broken 
in the hand ! Snow-White-and-Rose-Red — and frozen 
snow and frozen red ! 



He was ardent and atremble in the resolve that he 
must get to London on Rollo’s return and make old 
Rollo the excuse to see her again — touch her, perhaps; 
speak to her, ah ! — then, and not till then, bethought 
him of his second letter. From Aunt Maggie; and he 
drew it from his pocket with prick of shame at his neglect 
of it. He had from time to time written to Aunt Maggie. 
Her letters were less frequent; easier to write to “ Post 
Offic ” than for “Post Offic” to write to him, ever on the 

Three closely-written sheets came from the envelope. 
They contained many paragraphs, each of a different 
date — Aunt Maggie waited, as she explained, until 
she could be sure of an address to which to post her 
letter. There was much gossip of a very intimately 
domestic nature, each piece of news beginning with “I 
think this will interest you, dear.” Before he was 
through with the letter the recurrence of the phrase, 
speaking so much devotion, caused a moisture to come 
to his eyes. “I think this will interest you, dear ” — and 
the matter was that Honor burnt a hole in a new saucepan 
yesterday. “I think this will interest you, dear” — and 
“fancy ! fourteen letters were posted in the box to-day.” 
“I think this will interest you, dear” — and would he 
believe it! “one of the ducks hatched out sixteen eggs 

The more trivial the fact, the more Percival found 
himself affected. He was touched with the profound 
pathos of Aunt Maggie’s revelation of how he centered 
each smallest detail of her remote and lonely life; he 
was rendered instantly responsive to the appeal with 
which at the end of her letter she cried to him to come 
home to see her — if only for a night. “This will be 
the second Christmas that you have been away. The 



days are, oh ! so very, very long for me without my 
darling boy.” 

He told Japhra that he must go — not for long, and if 
for longer than he thought, at least the first of the new year 
would see him back. They were in Essex. Urgent with 
this sudden determination that had him, he took train for 
London on the next morning, and before midday was 
set down at Liverpool Street Station. Holiday mood 
seized him now that he had taken holiday. He counted 
again and again the sixty-five pounds that, to his amazed 
joy, — he, who till now had never earned a penny ! —• 
Japhra paid him for two seasons’ wage and share. It 
seemed a fortune — forced up the holiday spirit as bel¬ 
lows at a forge; and on the way to Waterloo he ridded 
his burning pockets of a portion of it in clothes and 
swagger kit-bag for this his holiday, and in presents that 
brought parcels of many shapes and sizes into his cab —• 
for Aunt Maggie, for Honor, for Mr. Amber, for Mr. 
Hannaford, for all to whom his heart bounded now that 
he was to see them again. 


In these delights he missed his train. Two hours were 
on his hands before the next, and as he contemplated 
them a daring thought (so he considered it) came to him. 
He took a hansom cab and bade the man drive him to 
Mount Street, — through Mount Street and so back 
again. He would see where she lived ! 

“ Drive slowly up here,” he told the man when the cab 
turned into the street for which he watched. “Do you 
know Burdon House?” 

It was pointed out ahead of him. “Set down there 
many a time. Lord Burdon’s ’ouse it was. Another 
party’s got it now.” 

3 IQ 


Percival leant back, not to be seen — not daring to be 
seen ! — and stared, his pulses drumming, as he was 
slowly carried past. 

Might there have troubled him some vague, secret 
feeling of association between himself and that brown, 
massive front of Burdon House with its broad steps 
leading to the heavy double doors, with its tall, wrought- 
iron railings above the area, with its old torch ex¬ 
tinguishers on either side the entrance, with its quiet, 
impassive air that large old houses have, as of guardians 
that know much and have seen much — brides come and 
coffins go, birth and death, gay nights and sad, glad 
hours and sorry — and look to know more and see more ? 
Might he have felt, as he told Aunt Maggie he had felt 
at Burdon Old Manor, “thinking without thinking, as if 
some one else were thinking,” as he passed those steps 
where one that he might have called Father often had 
gaily passed, where one he might have called Mother 
had gone wearily up and come fainting, dizzily down ? 

He felt, nor was disturbed, by none of those. He only 
gazed, gazed as he would pierce them, at all its solemn 
windows, riveted its every feature on his mind; but only 
because it was where she must have looked, because it 
sheltered her where she must be. It was a new setting 
against which he might envisage her; he only thought of 
it as that. 




It was in dreams that night that vague, secret in¬ 
fluences of his sight of Burdon House came stealing about 
him — if such they were; he attributed them to the 
disturbance of an event that greeted him within a few 
hours of his gay arrival at “Post Offic.” 

He had announced his coming by telegram. He took 
Plowman’s Ridge on leaving the train at Great Letham, 
old friend wind greeting him with most boisterous Ha ! 
Ha ! Ha ! and as he came down the slope two figures 
broke from the little copse and came fluttering up the 
Downside towards him — one slight with running tears, 
and outstretched, eager arms; the other gaunt and grim, 
uncompromising of visage, but with eyes aglisten. 

“Aunt Maggie ! Aunt Maggie !” 

“My boy ! My Percival!” 

Her boy’s arms went about her: for a space neither 
moved after that first cry. He only held her — close, 
close to him; she only clung to him, her face to his, and 
felt his dear face stop her flowing tears. 

He held her from him then at arm’s length, the better 
to gaze at her; and she overcame her foolish tears and 
told him : “How you have grown ! How handsome you 
have grown !” 

And Honor grimly, with grimness spoilt by chokey 

3 12 


utterance: “Ah, handsome is as handsome don’t make 
fine birds!” 

“You’ve got it wrong, you frightful old goose !” cried 
Percival; and there was Honor’s bony cheek to be kissed, 
her bony hug to take. 

Then the disturbing even: — 

Mr. Amber, Aunt Maggie told him, was dying. He 
had been told Percival was coming and had begged to 
see him. There had only been a brief interval of con¬ 
sciousness in the last twenty-four hours; Percival had 
better go at once. 


Percival went immediately. The Old Manor had the 
deserted aspect he remembered when, as a little boy, 
he used to seek Mr. Amber in the library; and it was to 
the library he now was taken. Mr. Amber had been 
carried there. He knew he was to die. He had begged 
to die in the apartment he loved — among his books. 

There Percival found him. He lay on a bed that had 
been placed in the centre of the room. He was asleep, 
breathing with a harsh, unnatural sound. A nurse 
sent over from Great Letham attended him, and Percival 
inquired of her: “I am Percival; has he been asking for 

She shook her head: “Since this morning only for 
Lord Burdon. Before that, frequently.” 

Percival went on one knee by the bedside. The mild 
old face that he had always known silvery and smiling 
seemed white as the pillow where it lay, pathetically 
lined and hollowed. On a sudden the eyes very slowly 
opened and looked full into Percival’s bending above 
him. Percival experienced a shock of horror at what 


followed. Burning intelligence flamed into the dim 
eyes; the blood rushed in a crimson cloud to the white 
face; the thin form struggled where it lay. 

“My lord! my lord!” Mr. Amber whispered; and 
“lift me — lying down before my lord !” 

“Mr. Amber ! I am Percival! You remember me !” 

The nurse raised him, and with practised hand the 
pillows also, so that he reclined against them. “It is 
your friend Percival. Lord Burdon will soon come, 

He gave her no attention. He smiled at Percival in 
something of his mild old way. “We are very weak, my 
lord,” he said. “Very weak.” 

“Mr. Amber ! I am Percival! You remember what 
friends we were. You will get strong, and we will have 
some more reading together — you remember ? ” 

Mr. Amber still smiling, his eyes closed again. “On 
the ladders.” 

“Yes — yes. On the ladders. You remember now — 

Mr. Amber’s smile seemed to settle upon his face as 
though his lips were made so. “Hold my hand, my lord.” 

He began to slip down in the bed. The nurse eased 
his position. He seemed back to unconsciousness 
again, his breathing very laboured. Night had drawn 
about the room and was held dusky by the candles. 
There stole about Percival, as he knelt, atmosphere of 
the memories he had recalled in vain attempt to arouse 
Mr. Amber’s recognition. Again dusk here, and he with 
mild, old Mr. Amber. Again shadows wreathing about 
the high ceiling, stealing from the corners. Again a 
soft thudding on the window-pane, as of some shadow 
seeking to enter — death ? Again the strange feeling of 
“thinking without thinking as if some one else were 




thinking” — and on that, worn out perhaps with his 
long day, perhaps carried by some other agency, he 
went into a dream-state in which vague, secret in¬ 
fluences of his ride through Mount Street came upon him. 
He thought he was in Mount Street again and come to 
Burdon House, and that the door opened as he ascended 
the steps. He found the interior completely familiar to 
him, and for some reason was frightened and trembled 
to find it so. He went from familiar room to familiar 
room, afraid at their familiarity as though it was some 
wrong thing he was doing, and knew himself search¬ 
ing — searching — searching. What he searched he did 
not know. He just opened a door, and looked, and 
closed it and passed on. There were persons in some 
rooms — once Dora, once Rollo, once Lady Burdon. 
They stretched hands to him or spoke. He shook his 
head and told them “I am not looking for you,” and 
closed the doors upon them. He climbed the completely 
familiar stairs and searched each floor. The fear that 
attended him suddenly increased. He had a sudden and 
most eerie feeling that some presence was come about 
him as he searched. He heard a voice cry: “My son ! 
My son ! We have waited for you. Oh, we have waited 
for you !” Fear changed to a flood of yearning emotion. 
He tried to cry, “It is you — you I am looking for!” 
He could not speak, and wrestled for speech; and wrest¬ 
ling, came back to consciousness of his surroundings. He 
was streaming with perspiration, he found. He saw 
next that Mr. Amber’s eyes were open and looking at 
him, and heard him say, “Percival!” 

Had that been the voice in that frightful dream ? 

“Mr. Amber ! I knew you would know me !” 

Recognition was in the eyes, but they were filming. 

“Yes, he knows you,” the nurse whispered. 


Quite firmly, firmer than he had yet spoken: “Hold 
my hand — my lord,” Mr. Amber said, and ended 
the words and ended life with a little throaty sound. 

The nurse disengaged their hands. “But I am so glad 
he did just recognise you,” she said kindly. 


Old friend wind was in tremendous fettle that night. 
Percival battled along Plowman’s Ridge on his way back 
and had battled twenty minutes when he cried aloud, 
venting his grief, and answering the nurse’s words, 
“He didn’t recognise me !” 

And old friend wind paused to listen; came in tre¬ 
mendous gusts, Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! and hurled the words 
aloft and tossed and rushed them high along the Ridge. 

“Something was wrong with me in there,” Percival 
exclaimed. “Did I speak sense to him? What was 
happening to me ? Was I dreaming ? What was it ? — 
oh, damn this wind !” 

Ha! Ha! Ha! thundered old friend wind, stagger¬ 
ing him anew — Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! 

An absolutely irrepressible party, old friend wind. 




Percival was not the-only one that in this period was 
disturbed by uneasy dreams, by vague and strange 
half-thoughts, by “thinking without thinking,” as 
though some other influence were temporarily in posses¬ 
sion of the senses. Lady Burdon was thus disturbed; 
Aunt Maggie, too. But of the three Aunt Maggie only 
knew the cause. If Lady Burdon, if Percival, had 
brought their unrest to her for explanation she might 
have explained it as she was able to explain her own — 
the “fluttering” that very often came to her in these 
days of Percival’s visit home. She might have told 
them, as she told herself, that it was occasioned for that 
the years were closing in now — the prepared doom gath¬ 
ering about them all and they responsive to its nearness 
as gathering storm gives vague unease, headaches, de¬ 
pression when its emanations fall. 

For her own part Aunt Maggie had herself in hand 
again — was again possessed by the certitude that noth¬ 
ing could go amiss with her plans. It had supported 
her through all these long years. It had been shaken, 
but had recovered again, by fear of Percival’s affection 
for Rollo. It tore at her frantically, like a strong horse 
against the bridle, now that only a few months remained 
for its release in her revenge’s execution. In little 
less than a year Percival would be twenty-one. She no 
more minded — relative to her plans — the proof of 




the fondness still between him and Rollo shown in his 
leaving her to stay with Rollo in town, than she minded 
— relative to the same purpose — his determination 
to be with Japhra again when winter ended. She suf¬ 
fered distress both at the one and the other in that they 
robbed her of the object of her heart’s devotion; she 
felt no qualm that either would hinder her revenge. 
“Strange-like?” “Touched-like?” - The villagers, 
when she passed them without seeing them in these 
days, were more than ever sure of that, poor thing; but 
she was more than ever sure — lived in the past and in 
the near, near future and had scenes to watch there. 


Rollo’s return to town was delayed longer than Dora 
had supposed in her letter to Percival. It was not till 
February that his doctors and his mother gave way to 
his protestations that he would never get fit if he could 
not go and have a glimpse of old Percival while he had 
the chance, and then it was only for a week — a passage 
through town to get some things done and to pick up 
the Esparts for a spring sojourn in Italy. 

Thus Percival was several weeks with Aunt Maggie 
before he left her for Rollo — and Dora. Pleasant 
weeks he found them, reclaiming all the old friends 
(save that one whose grave only was now to be visited) 
and in their company, and in the new affection that 
they gave him for his strong young manhood, re tasting 
again the happy, happy time of earlier days. There 
were jolly teas with the Purdies, brother and sister; 
plump Mr. Purdie never tired of saying, with quite the 
most absurd of his shrill, ridiculous chuckles, “Why, 
you’ve grown into a regular man and I expected to see 

3 i8 


a swarthy gipsy with earrings and a red neckcloth ! ” 
birdlike little Miss Purdie, more birdlike than ever with 
her little hops and nods and her “Now fancy you coming 
to take me to the Great Letham Church Bazaar ! I 
was wanting to go. But you’re not to be extravagant, 
Percival. At Christmas you were dreadful. You don’t 
know the value of money!” And there were almost 
daily visits to Mr. Hannaford, Stingo with him now till 
the road was to be taken again, who found Percival a 
proper full-size marvel now, and blessed his eighteen 
stun proper if he didn’t, whose little ’orse farm was 
developing amazingly, who displayed it and who dis¬ 
cussed it with Percival to the tune of leg-and-cane cracks 
of almost incredible volume, and who placed at Percival’s 
entire disposal a little riding ’orse, three parts blood 
and one part fire, that showed him to possess a seat and 
hands that any little ’orse oughter be proud to carry, 
“bless my eighteen stun proper if he didn’t!” (Crack !) 

And there were thoughts of Dora . . . who soon must 
be met and whom to meet he burned (his darling !) and 
feared (his darling and his goddess ! — too rare, too ex¬ 
quisite for him, as tracery of frost upon the window-pane 
that touch or breath will break or tarnish !). Thus he 
thought of her; thus to help his thoughts often walked 
over to closed Abbey Royal; thus never could approach 
the gates without the thought that if, by some miracle, 
he met her there he could not dare approach her. He 
would steal away at her approach, he knew. Watch 
her if, unseen, he might unseen adore her — mark her 
perfect beauty, breathless see her breathe; watch her 
poised to listen to some bird that hymned her coming; 
watch her stoop to greet some flower’s fragrance with 
her own. Watch the happy grasses take her feet and 
watch those others, benisoned and scented by the bor- 


3 I 9 

der of her gown; watch the tumbling breezes give her 
path and only kiss her — see them race along the leaves 
to give her minstrelsy. Speak to her ? — how should 
he dare ? 


What his condition then when at last in London he 
came face to face with her? Rollo and Lady Burdon 
stayed their week at a private hotel — Baxter’s in Albe¬ 
marle Street. He was immediately made their guest 
(against Lady Burdon’s wish, who desired now in the 
approach of the consummation of her own plans — and 
Mrs. Espart’s — to detach the friendship she had for¬ 
merly encouraged; but he did not know that). Rollo 
met him at Waterloo station and took him direct to the 
hotel. Eager to meet old Rollo again he was touched 
by the pathetic devotion of Rollo’s greeting, touched 
also at the frail and delicate figure that he presented. 
The emotions were violently usurped by others when 
Baxter’s was reached and he was taken to the private 
sitting-room Lady Burdon had engaged. 

“Here’s mother !” Rollo cried, opening the door. 

Here also were Mrs. Espart and Dora. 

The elder ladies were seated. Percival greeted them 
and fancied their manner not very warm. He had a 
swift recollection of the letter’s advice that they joined 
in estimating him “Very wild”; but while he shook 
hands, while he exchanged the conventional civilities, 
his mind, nothing concerned with them, was actively 
discussing how he should comport himself, what he 
should see, when he turned to the figure that had stood 
by the window, facing away from him, when he entered. 

“Never in London before — no,” he said. “I have 
passed through once, that is all.” 



Then he turned. ' 

She had come down the room and was within two 
paces of him.. Her dress was of some dark colour and 
she wore fine sables, thrown back so that they lay upon 
her shoulders and came across her arms. A large black 
hat faintly shadowed the upper part of her face; her 
left hand was in a muff, and when he turned towards 
her she had the muff nestled against her throat. She 
gave the appearance of having watched him while he 
spoke, reckoning what he was, with her face resting medi¬ 
tatively upon her muff, her tall and slim young figure 
upright upon her feet. 

There was no perceptible pause between his turning to 
her and their speaking. Yet he had time for a long, 
long thought of her before he opened his lips. It took 
his breath. So still she stood, so serene and contempla¬ 
tive her look, that he thought of her, standing there, as 
some most rich and most rare picture, framed by the 
soft dusk that London rooms have, and surely framed and 
set apart from mortal things. 

She dropped her muff to her arm’s length with a sudden 
action, just as a portrait might stir to come to life. She 
raised her head so that the shadow went from her face 
and revealed her eyes, as a jealous leaf’s shade might be 
stirred to reveal the dark and dew-crowned pansy. She 
had not removed her gloves and she gave him her small 
hand — that last he had held cold, trembling and un¬ 
covered — gloved in white kid. She spoke and her 
voice — that last he had heard aswoon — had the high, 
cold note he thrilled to hear. 

“It is pleasant to see you again,” she said. 

He never could recall in what words he replied — nor 
if indeed he effected reply. 

Conventional words went between them before she 



and her mother took their departure; conventional 
words again at a chance meeting on the following day 
and again when the parties met by arrangement at a 
matinee. His week drew to a close. As its end neared 
he began to resist the mute and distant adoration which 
he had felt must be his part when he had thought of 
meeting her again and which, without pang, he at first 
accepted as his part now that they were come together. 
But when the very hours could be counted that would 
see her gone from him again he felt that attitude could 
no longer be endured. Insupportable to pass into the 
future without a closer sign of her ! — insupportable even 
though the sign proved one that should reward his 
temerity by sealing her forever from his lips. He nerved 
himself to the daring — the very opportunity was hard 
to seek. Rollo, in the slightly selfish habit that belongs 
to delicate persons accustomed, as he was accustomed, to 
their own way, was ever desirous of having Percival to 
himself alone. He saw plenty of Dora at other times, 
he said (deliberately avoiding a chance of meeting 
her on one occasion); and when Percival, not daring 
to do more, made scruples on grounds of mere polite¬ 
ness, “But, bless you, she’ll think nothing of it,” Rollo 
said carelessly: “She’s made of ice — Dora. I like 
her all right, you know. But she’s not keen on any¬ 
thing. She’s got no more feeling than — well, ice,” 
and he laughed and dismissed the subject. 

Had she not? It was Percival’s to challenge it. 

The chance came on the eve of the morrow that was 
to see his friend’s departure for Italy and his own for 
a farewell to Aunt Maggie and so back to Japhra again. 
The Esparts came over to dinner at Baxter’s hotel — 
came in response to Lady Burdon’s private and urgent 
request of Mrs. Espart. The week of Percival’s visit 

3 22 


had tried her sorely. Night by night and every night, 
as she told Mrs. Espart, she had had that dreadful night¬ 
mare of hers again — that girl to whom she cried “I 
am Lady Burdon,” and who answered her: “Oh, how 
can you be Lady Burdon?;” to whom she cried “I 
hold,” and who answered her, “No, you do not — Nay, I 

Aunt Maggie might have explained it. Mrs. Espart 
laughed outright. “That? Good gracious, I thought 
you had forgotten that long ago.” 

“So I had — so I had. I never thought of it again 
from the day I told you until last Wednesday night — 
the day Percival came to us. Since then every 
night ...” 

She paused before the last words and stopped abruptly 
after them. 

“Well, my dear ! You’re not putting down to poor 
Percival what must be the fault of Mr. Baxter’s menus, 
surely ?” 

Lady Burdon said without conviction: “No — no, 
I’m not. Still, it began then — and I don’t like him 
now — don’t care for Rollo to be so attached to him 
now — and had words with Rollo about it — and perhaps 
that was the reason and is the reason. Anyway, do 
come to dinner to-night — distract my thoughts per¬ 
haps — I can’t face that nightmare again. It’s on my 

Mrs. Espart permitted herself the tiniest yawn, but 
promised to come; and came, bringing Dora. 


So Percival’s chance came, or so came, rather, his 
last opportunity — for he ran it to the final moment. 


3 2 3 

Announcement of the Esparts’ carriage brought their 
evening to an end, and he went down with Rollo to see 
them off. Baxter’s preserved its exclusiveness by pre¬ 
serving its old fashions; the staircase was narrow, so 
the hall. Mrs. Espart went first, then Rollo. Percival 
followed Dora. 

As she came to the pavement she turned to gather her 
skirts about her. In the action she looked full at him. 

The end ? 

He said : “Dora — do you ever remember? ” 

Her skirts seemed to have eluded her fingers and she 
must make another hold at them. He saw the colour 
flame where her fair face showed it, swiftly, deeply scar¬ 
let in that shade on either cheek, tie saw her young 
breast rise as though that red flood drew and held it — 
saw her lips part for words, and held his breath to catch 
her voice. 

“I have not forgotten,” she whispered. 









Ima asked : “Of what are you thinking, Percival ?” 

“Of when I shall leave you all — and how.” 

She replied: “Strange, then, how thoughts run. It 
whs in my mind also.” 

Stranger how tricks and chances of life go ! This 
trick and that — and this was to be his last night with 
the van folk. That chance and this — and within a 
few hours he was to be returned to Aunt Maggie, bade 
good-by at the close of his visit scarcely four months 
since. This trick and that, that chance and this, and 
he was to be put in the way of winning Dora — a way 
that never had seemed so obscure, never so impossible 
of attainment as when he came back to Japhra with 
her “I have not forgotten,” at once shouting to him 
that she loved him and mocking him with the difference 
between her estate and his. 

Already the tricks and chances were afoot. He was 
alone with Ima upon a rising bluff of common land. 
Considerably below them, so that they looked down as 
it were from a cliff to a valley, the fair was pitched and 


3 2 8 


in full swing — that it was in full swing and he idle was 
the first step in the freakish hazards that were to encom¬ 
pass him this night. 


A stifling evening had succeeded a burning day. Here 
on the bluff a breeze moved cool and soft as it had been 
waftings from the dusky cloak night dropped about them ; 
below was heat and crowded life and clamour, rising in 
the waving reek of the naphtha flares; in shouts of the 
showmen; in shrill laughter from village girls at fun 
about the booths, or horseplay with their swains; in 
ceaseless rifle-cracks from the shooting-galleries — in 
drum-thumpings, in steam organs, in brazen instru¬ 
ments; occasionally, high above it all, in enormous 
oo-oo-oomphs from the caged lions in the huge marquee 
that housed Boss Maddox’s Royal Circus and Monster 
Forest-bred Menagerie — a tremendous sound, as Per- 
cival thought when it came booming across the clamour, 
that was a brute’s but that seemed, like some trump of 
protest against the din, to make brutish the human 
cries and shouts it governed. 

Two crowds, leaving and entering, jostled one another 
at the entrance to the Royal Circus and Forest-bred 
Menagerie; stretching on either hand from where they 
pressed ran the minor shows under Boss Maddox’s 
proprietorship, forming a noisy, flaring street that ended, 
facing the circus marquee, with “Foxy” Pinsent’s Acad¬ 
emy of Boxing and School of Arms. Maddox’s Royal 
Circus and Forest Bred Menagerie at one end, Pinsent’s 
fine booth at the other — between them Maddox’s 
Living Pictures, Maddox’s Wild-West Shooting Gallery, 
Maddox’s Steam Switch-back and Aerial Railway, 
Maddox’s Original Marionettes, Maddox’s Premier 


Boatswings, Maddox’s Monster Panorama, Maddox’s 
Royal Theatre and Concert Divan, Maddox’s Elite 
Refreshment Saloons, Maddox’s American Freak 
Museum, and all Maddox’s smaller fry — coker-nut 
shies, hoop-las, Living Mermaid, Hall of Strength, Cave 
of Mystery, Magic Mirrors, and the rest of them; owned 
by Boss Maddox, financed by Boss Maddox, or, if of 
independent ownership, having the Boss’s favour and 
acknowledging the Boss’s ownership. 

No booths whose proprietors called Stingo Boss were 
open: and that was one step in the tricks and chances 
of the day. 

The gaunt figure of Boss Maddox, watchful and urgent 
this night for the very reason that the Stingo booths 
were closed, passed now along the further side of lights 
towards Foxy Pinsent’s pitch. Head bent towards 
his left shoulder; hands clasped behind his back; un¬ 
commonly tall; uncommonly spare — that was Boss 
Maddox anywhere. 

A further mark, as he moved through his little king¬ 
dom, proclaimed him who he was and what he was. 
Frequent nods of his head he made in response to hat 
touchings or greetings in the crowd; frequent stoppings 
to exchange a few words with some figure that stepped 
into his path — and broke away from others or pushed 
others aside to step there: the local tradesmen these, 
or members of the local Borough Council, anxious to be 
in with Boss Maddox and so to secure the considerable 
patronage in victualling and provender he was able to 
distribute; or anxious to let fellow-townsmen observe 
on what familiar terms they were with the Boss, and 
concerned to know that he found his pitch to his liking. 
A mighty man, the Boss in these days, who bought up 
his pitches and paid handsomely for them a year in ad- 



vance, who on a famous occasion had fallen into dispute 
with a Borough Council, refused their district the honour 
of his shows, and thereby — by loss of entertainment 
and loss of revenue — had caused the Borough Council¬ 
lors to suffer defeat at the next election. Things like 
that were remembered up and down the west of Eng¬ 
land; Boss Maddox in the result was reckoned a man 
to be placated, to be done homage, and to have his in¬ 
terests preserved. Only the old Stingo gang resisted him, 
and this day he had paid them dear for their want of 

His parade brought him at length to “Foxy ” Pinsent’s 
Academy of Boxing and School of Arms. Foxy Pinsent 
had risen to be his lieutenant and right-hand man in 
the management of his business, and Boss Maddox was 
come to compare notes on how the Stingo crowd were 
taking their set-back. 

Eight pugilists in flannels — two of them negroes — 
displayed themselves upon the raised platform outside 
the Academy of Boxing and School of Arms. Pinsent, 
in a long fawn coat reaching to his shoes, paced before 
them, crying to the assembled crowds their merits, their 
prowess, their achievements and their challenges. He 
swung a great bundle of boxing gloves in his right hand 
and, amid delighted shouts of the spectators, sent a 
pair flying to venturesome yokels here and there who 
pointed to one or other of the eight stalwarts in accept¬ 
ance of combat. 

As Boss Maddox pushed his way to the front the eight 
turned and filed into the booth. He raised a hand. 
Foxy Pinsent tossed a last pair of gloves to the crowd, 
came down the steps from the platform and joined him. 

“How are they taking it, Boss?” 

“Pretty tough. Move round with me and let ’em 


see we’re watching. In a while I’m to have a word with 
Stingo and Japhra — you with me, boy.” 

Foxy Pinsent spat on the ground. “ We’ve fixed the 
——s this time,” he said venomously. 


The fixing of the Stingo crowd had been Boss Maddox’s 
culminating stroke in the heavy hand he had pressed 
these many seasons upon those who named Stingo Boss. 
The bad blood between the two factions of which Japhra 
had told Percival years before had steadily increased 
with Boss Maddox’s increasing dominance and position. 
Waxing more and more determined to crush under his 
rule the little knot of Stingo followers — or to crush them 
out — Boss Maddox had this day given them an extra 
twist — and they had made protest by refusing to erect 
their booths. 

A new Fair ground had been marked out here since 
the last visit of the showmen. A broad stream marked 
one boundary, bridged only by the highroad bridge a 
mile up from the new ground. The new ground was 
small. Maddox’s would require it all, the Boss an¬ 
nounced. Beyond the stream was common land, free 
to all. “ Yonder, you !” said Boss Maddox to the Stingo 
crowd. “ Yonder, you !” and pointed across the stream 
with his stick. 

It meant going back a mile and a mile down again so 
as to come to the common land. It meant worse than 
that, with a discovery that changed the first demur to 
loud and bitter protest: “No bridge except the high¬ 
road bridge? Then how were folk going to get over 
from the Fair Ground? No bridge? What game’s 
this, Boss? ” 



“Your game/’-Boss Maddox told them in his stern 
and callous way. “Naught to do with me that the 
Fair Ground’s changed. Your game. Get out and 
play it.” 

The angry crowd went to Stingo and Stingo to Boss 
Maddox. Boss Maddox could not refuse parley with 
Stingo, and gave it where the great pole of his circus 
marquee was being fixed — his own followers grouped 
about, enjoying the fun; Stingo’s packed in a murmur¬ 
ing throng behind Stingo’s broad back. 

The interview was very short. “You’re going too far, 
Boss Maddox,” Stingo said in his husky whisper. “This 
ain’t fair to the boys. Grant you the ground’s too small. 
After your tent and Pinsent’s there the rest should fall by 
lot. That’s fair to all. It was done on the road Boss 
Parnell’s time when you and me were boys.” 

“It’s not done in mine,” said Boss Maddox, and 
his words called up two murmurs — approval and 
mocking behind him, wrath before. 

Stingo waited while it died away, then went close 
with words for Boss Maddox’s private ear. “You’ve 
been out to make bad blood these three summers, 
Maddox,” he said. “Have a care of it. I’ll not be 
answerable for my boys here.” 

His tone was of grave warning, as between men of 
responsible position. But it was Foxy Pinsent, standing 
with Maddox, who replied to him. “We’ll drink all we 
may brew,” Foxy Pinsent said, and sneered : “We’re not 
fat old women this side, Stingo.” 

The flag of a temper kept in control but now burst from 
his command came in violent purple into old Stingo’s 
face. His huskiness went to its most husky pitch, “By 
God, Foxy ! I’ll stuff it into ye, if need be,” he throated. 

He took a calmer and wiser mood back to his followers, 


joining with Japhra in counselling a making the best of 
it across the stream to-night and a deputation to Boss 
Maddox, when heads on both sides were cooler, on the 
morrow. They would not listen to him. They would 
stay where they were, they told him. They could 
not open their booths here — they would not open them 
there; here, to assert their rights, they would stay. 
What was Boss Maddox’s game ? — to rid himself of 
them altogether ? — they who had worked the West 
Country boy and man, girl and woman, in this company 
before Boss Maddox was heard of ? Were they going to 
be turned adrift from it — from the roads they knew 
and the company they knew ? Not they ! — not if 
Boss Maddox and his crowd came at ’em with sticks! 
Let ’em come! Ah, let Boss Muddy Maddox and his 
crowd try ’em a bit further and the sticks would come out 
in their own hands as they came in their fathers’ in the big 
fight that sent the Telfer crowd north in ’30. . . . 


So the Stingo vans remained where they had been 
driven up on the edge of the Fair ground. The men for 
the most part shared their afternoon meal in groups that 
sullenly discussed their hurt. Some broodingly watched 
the erection of their rivals’ booths. A few gathered 
about Egbert Hunt, who had oratory to deliver on this 
act of oppression. The winters Hunt had spent with 
“unemployed” malcontents had given a flow of language 
to a character that from boyhood had shaped away from 
honest work and towards hostility against authority. 
In the vans, among men who sweated as they toiled, 
and worked in the main for their own hands, he was 
commonly an object of contempt. To-day he found 



audience. He had words and ranted his best — 
“Tyrang!” the burden of it; rising, as he tossed his 
arms and worked himself up, to “‘Boss’ Maddox is he? 
’Oo appointed ’im boss over you or over me? ‘Boss’ 
Maddox ? Tyrang Maddox — that’s what I name 

He observed a titter run round those who listened to 
him; turned to seek its cause; with Tyrang Maddox 
found himself face to face; and before he could make 
movement of escape was sent to the ground with a 
stunning box on the ear. He shouted a stream of filthy 
abuse and made to spring to his feet. Boss Maddox’s 
hand pinned him down and Boss Maddox’s whip came 
about his writhing form in a rain of blows that, when 
they were done and he had taken the kick that concluded 
them, left him cowering. 

“Whose hand are you, you whelp?” Boss Maddox 

Egbert Hunt looked up at him. He was gasping 
with sobs of pain and sobs of rage. He looked up, hate 
and murder in his eye, and pressed his lips between his 

The whip went up. “Whose hand?” 

Egbert cowered back: “Old One-Eye’s.” 

“Keep to his heel. Cross my sight again and the 
same is waiting for you.” 

Boss Maddox stalked away. A crowd had gathered 
from all parts of the camp, attracted by Egbert’s screams. 
Egbert raised himself on one arm and looked at the grin¬ 
ning faces before him. He got stiffly to his feet, mum¬ 
bling to himself, his breast still heaving with sobs. “Me, 
a full-grown man, to be used like a dog ! Cross his path ! 
•— ill day for him when I do ! ” 

He went a few paces, walking parallel to those assem- 


bled. Suddenly he turned to them, tears running down 
his face, and threw up his clenched hands. “I’ll put a 
knife in ’im !” he cried. “By God, I’ll put a knife in 

The crowd laughed. 




Percival suggested to Ima that they should use in a 
stroll the leisure evening that the trouble in the vans had 
given him. Some drink had been passing as the day wore 
on, and the heat between the two factions was not 
better for it. Here and there bickerings were assuming 
an ugly note. — “Let’s get out of it,” Percival said. 
“Come along, Ima, up to the top over there — Bracken 
Down they call it.” 

It was close upon nine o’clock as they left the Fair. 
They picked their way along the paths through the tall 
bracken that gave the place its name—reaching a clear¬ 
ing in the thick growth, by mutual accord they dropped 
down for a glad rest. 

Very still and cool here among the fern, the Fair a 
nest of tossing lights, faint cries and that lion’s trump 
of oo-oo-oomph beneath them; a remote place of silence, 
and silence communicated itself to them until Ima broke 
it by her question “ Of what are you thinking, Percival ? ” 
and to his reply — that he thought of when he should 
leave them all, and how — told him “Strange then how 
thoughts run. It was in my mind also.” 

Stranger how tricks and chances of life go ! Look¬ 
ing back afterwards, recalling her words, Percival real¬ 
ised how events had run from one to another upon the 




most brittle thread of hazards. The trouble in the vans 
had sent him out here with Ima; that was the merest 
chance; that was the beginning of the thread. 

Very cool and remote here among the bracken. He 
had gone back to silence after her last words. It was she 
who spoke again. 

“Are you weary of it?” she asked. 

He was lying at his full length, face downwards, his 
chin upon his clasped fingers. She sat upright beside 
him, one knee raised and her hands about it. 

He turned his cheek to where his chin had been and 
looked up lazily at her : “Why, no, not weary of it, Ima. 
I like the life. I’ve been at it a long time. When the 
day comes I shall be sorry to go.” 

She was looking straight before her. “A sorry day for 
us, also,” she said. 

“Will you be sorry, Ima?” 

“Of course I shall be sorry.” 

He gave a sound of mischievous laughter. Lying idly 
stretched out there, the warm night and the unusual 
sense of laziness he was enjoying stirred in him some 
prankish spirit, or some spirit of more warm desire, that 
he had never felt in Ima’s company. “Yet you are al¬ 
ways trying to get rid of me,” he said; and he laughed 
again on that mischievous note, and snuggled his cheek 
closer against his hands, and felt that spirit run ami¬ 
cably through him as he stretched and then released his 

She looked down at him, smiling. “Unkind to return 
my conduct so,” she said. “No, I have but reminded 
you you are not always for the rough ways.” 

He had watched her face as he lay there, seen how her 
hair, her brow, her eyes, alone in all the shadow about 
Bracken Down caught the light from where the light was 



starred across the sky, and how her lips seemed also to 
attract it. Now when she looked down and smiled, it 
Was as if some gentle radiance were bent upon him, or 
as if Night, in visible embodiment, gracious as Summer 
night, starred, tranquil, cool, stooped to his couch. 

He got quickly to his feet, that spirit tingling now. 

“Going?” she asked, and the lamp of her face was 
turned up to him so that he looked full into it. 

“No,” he said, pronouncing the word as he had made 
his laugh — as if some inward excitement pressed its 

“No.” He came in front of her, went on his knees 
and sat back on his heels. That brought him close to her, 
facing her. 

“Ima,” he said, “you’ve got six — seven stars on 
your face, do you know that?” 

She smiled, unaware of his mood. 

Himself he was scarcely aware of it: “Well, you have, 
though,” he said. He approached a finger towards her 
and pointed, and almost touched her while he spoke. 
“You have, though. Two on your hair—there and there. 
One on your forehead — there. One in each eye — 
that’s five. Two on your mouth—one here, one there : 
seven stars !” 

‘‘Foolish talk,” she smiled. “We had a Romany 
woman once with us who told fortunes. Just so have 
I heard her speak to village girls. When —” 

His eyes betrayed him. Concern and worse leapt into 
hers. She thrust out a hand to stop him, but he bent 
forward swiftly and strongly. Urged by the spirit that 
laziness and the warm, still night had put into him, that 
had led him on in mischief and that now suddenly en¬ 
gulfed him — “Stars on your mouth!” he cried, and 
caught his arms about her to kiss her. 




He felt her twist as she were made of vibrant steel and 
strong as steel. His lips missed hers, and scarcely 
brushed her face. He tried for her lips again, laughing 
while he tried, and pressed her to him and felt her twist 
and strain away with a strength that surprised him 
while he laughed. 

“Only a kiss, Ima ! Only a kiss !” 

She was of steel, but he held her. She spoke, and the 
strangeness of her words made him release her. “Ah, 
ah, Percival!” she gasped. “How you despise me!” 

He let her go and she sprang away and upright, as a 
bow stick released. He let her go, and stared at her 
where she stood panting fiercely, and stared in more sur¬ 
prise when, checking her sobbing breaths, she spoke again. 

In their struggle her hair had loosened and it fell, half¬ 
bound, in a heavy cascade upon one shoulder and down 
her breast. The starlight gleamed on it and on her dark 
face framed against it. She had a wild look, as if her mild 
beauty had suddenly gone gipsy; her sobbing voice had a 
wild tone, and he noticed the drop back to the “thee” 
long absent from her speech: “Ah, this to happen!” 
she cried. “This ! Ah, what a thing I must be to thee !” 

The strangeness and the violence of her distress as¬ 
tonished him. What had he done ? Tried for a kiss ? In 
the name of all the kisses snatched from pretty girls — ! 
“Why, Ima?” was all he could say. “Ima?” 

She dropped to the ground with a collapsed action as 
though, oppressed as she was, standing were insupport¬ 
able. She covered her face with her hands, ceased her 
sobbing breaths; but he saw her trembling in all her 

Rising, he went to her, put a hand on her shoulder, 



and, at the convulsive movements he felt, made deeper 
the contrition for his careless act that her distress now 
caused him. “Ima, what have I done? Only tried to 
kiss you in fun. A sudden, silly thing — I don’t know 
why — I never meant it — but only a kiss in fun.” 

He waited a moment, grieved for her, half-vexed with 
her — then had his answer and was faced with emotions 
as sudden and unexpected as when a moment before, 
without premeditation, he had her struggling in his arms. 

She drew a deep breath and answered him. “That is 
it — in* fun !” she said. She threw out her arms across 
her raised knees — the palms upward, the fingers curved 
in a most desolate action. “In fun !” she said intensely. 
“ I would to God — I would to God thou hadst done it in 

He came in front of her. “Tell me what it is I have 
done to you,” he said firmly. 

The intensity went from her voice. She spoke then 
and thenceforward very softly, as if she were making 
explanation to a child, and in her answer she used again 
the term that went with the days of the “thee” and 
“thou” now returned to her. 

“Used me,” she answered him softly, “used me as 
any wanton is to be used, little master.” 

He cried, “Ima ! After all these years we have known 
each other — a kiss in fun!” 

But she went on: “What maids are kissed in fun? 
That a man weds does he use so? That the sisters of 
such as thou art does he so use ? That give him cause 
for regard does he so use? What maids, then?” and 
answered herself, “Such as I am !” 

“Oh!” he cried, wounded with pity for her, “Oh, 
Ima — Ima, dear, don’t talk like that. What can you 
mean? I am sorry — sorry! Forgive me!” 



Her sad eyes almost smiled at him. “ I have nothing to 
forgive thee,” she said. “It was but a foolish fancy that 
I had. Well that it should be broken — ended that;” 
and she looked again across the dark bracken, her arms 
extended upon her knees in that desolate pose. 

It wrung him with pity — his dear Ima ! “But tell 
me !” he pressed her, anxious to soothe her. “Tell me 
what you mean by fancy — by saying ‘ended that!’” 

She answered : “That all I had tried should be broken 
suddenly — suddenly as a star falls. I had not minded 
if I had been warned.” 

“What have you tried, Ima? — I want to know — 
to show you how sorry I am.” 

She was silent for a considerable space. When she 
began to speak she spoke without pause, without modu¬ 
lations of her low tone, without notice of the stammered 
exclamations that her words broke from him. 

“Hear me, then,” she said. “The thing is no more 
mine — thou mayst know it. To what shall I go back 
for when I first knew that I loved thee ? —” 


“Why, from the first I knew it and began to try to fit 
me for thee. Why went I to shut myself in roofs and 
walls, to learn hard books and gentle ways and how to 
speak in thy fashion ? — so thou shouldst not scorn me, 
so I might make me to be seemly in thy sight —” 

“Ima! I never dreamt — / ” 

“— Why have I gone my ways so — winter by winter 
leaving my father’s van ? Because I loved thee since I 
first saw thee—” 

“Don’t! Don’t!” he cried. There was something 
completely terrible to him in this avowal from a woman 
— immodest, shameful, horrible—that must cause her 
violation of her most sacred feelings as they would be 



violated were she thrust naked before him; that caused 
him agony for her suffering, and agony that he should 
see it, as he would endure agony for her and for himself 
if made to see her nudity. “Don’t, Ima ! Don’t! I 
understand — I see everything now. I ought to have 
known !” 

But she went on — it might have been some requiem 
she made to some poor treasured thing now dead in her 
extended arms. She went on: “Because I loved thee 

— ah, worshipped all thy doings, all thy looks — loved 
thee with all the love that men and women love — as 
mothers love, as lovers love, as friends love, as brothers 
love, — there is no love but I have loved thee with it, 
and I have thought them all and loved thee with each 
one the better to enjoy my love —” 


“—Why cried I ‘this to happen!’ Because by thy 
kiss I saw that I was nothing to thee — and less than 
nothing. All my poor trying suddenly proved of no 
avail. All my poor fancy that haply thou mightst 
turn to me if I could be worthy of thee suddenly gone 
to dust that the winds sport. Why cried I ‘ended 
that!’ — ” 

She sighed very deeply. Her trembling had in some 
degree communicated itself to him. He trembled for 
the shame he knew she must be suffering, and for the 
effect upon him that her gentle, even voice had, croon¬ 
ing its tragedy in the darkness of their remote and silent 
situation, and for the effect upon him of that long sigh 

— rising and then falling away to tiniest sound, as it had 
been the passing of some spirit released to glide away 
across the bracken. 

“—Why cried I ‘ended that’? ” and then her long, 
sad sigh; and then : “Because all is nought, little mas- 



terand he saw her fingers extend and her head bow a 
little. . . . 

She arose then, slowly, and he went back to give her 
room. Her hair had slipped the last coil that held it, 
and was in a black sheen to her waist before one shoulder 
and in a black sheen to her waist behind her back. She 
began to loop it up with deft but tired fingers and looked 
at him while she twined it. Her face was very kind to 
him ; the stars caught it, and he saw those stars upon her 
mild mouth that had tricked him to his wanton act: 
they seemed to show her almost smiling at him. 

He asked : “Are we going now?” 

She smiled then, gently. “Nay,” she said. “I have 
left my poor secrets here — suffer me to go alone.” 
Then turned and left him; and he watched her form 
swiftly merging to the darkness — now high among the 
bracken, now lower and lower yet, as though it were a 
deepening pool she entered. Now gone. 


It seemed to Percival, left alone, as if some horrible 
and most oppressive trouble had befallen him. This 
piteous thing had struck so suddenly that for some mo¬ 
ments he remained only numbed by it, as numbness pre¬ 
cedes the onset of pain from a blow. When the full mean¬ 
ing returned to him, “Good God!” he cried aloud, 
“What a thing to have happened !” and most tenderly— 
with increasing tenderness, with increasing grief — he 
went through all she had revealed and how she had 
revealed it. It was surely the most monstrous pitiful 
thing that ever could be, her secret plots and strivings 
to fit herself for what she yearned — tasking herself in 
“gentle ways,” in speech of his fashion, in hard books, in 



the life between walls and under roofs; he ached for her 
in every bone as he thought of her thus schooling her¬ 
self— for him. “Oh, horrible, horrible !” he muttered, 
writhing for her to remember all her little cares for him 
— her attention to his clothes, her concern that he should 
not get into “rough ways” ; horrible ! horrible ! now that 
he knew their loving purpose. And then her revelation 
of it! He must rise and pace, the better to endure the 
recollection of that. How terribly she struggled in his 
arms ! “God, what a beast a man can be !” he cried. 
What agony must have wrung that cry, “Ah, Percival, 
how you must despise me!” What agony that “This 
to happen!” What pain, what bleeding of her heart, 
that lamentable ending — “Because all is naught, little 
master!” Happy, happy time when first she used to 
call him by that quaint endearment; in what travail, 
in what blackness, it had come from her now ! What had 
she done? Why fastened such a love upon him whose 
love was utterly pledged away ? Nay, the torment was 
What had he done ? What vile and brutal ends had he 
used to knock her to her senses ? What manner of sym¬ 
pathy had he given her when she lay bleeding ? 

“I must go to her,” he said abruptly; and at the best 
speed the darkness would admit he twisted his way 
through the paths among the bracken towards the dis¬ 
tant nest of lights. 




He ran in two moods. First he was earnest above all 
things to hold her hands and comfort her — to explain, 
to soothe, to endear. To hold her hands and tell her how 
fond, how very, very fond he was of her, of how they 
should be sister and brother, and the happiest and fondest 
sister and brother that ever were. To thank her, thank 
her for all her sweet, devoted ways. To tell her how 
good she was, how he admired her. That was one mood. 
The other was a savage and burning anger at himself, 
partly for his wanton act towards her, partly born of his 
agony of discomfort at the revelation she had made. 
The moods were intermingled. He yearned to comfort 
her for her suffering, he writhed to think he had wit¬ 
nessed that suffering. He was in the one part utter 
tenderness towards her — in the other flame, furious 
flame, most eager for vent. 

The tricks and chances of life had fuel for the flame, 
not outlet for the tenderness, as he came to the nest of 

He went quickly to Japhra’s van. It was end-on to 
him as he approached; and as he came to the shafts he 
saw a group of men there talking, — Japhra, Stingo, 
Boss Maddox. He supposed — and was confirmed by 
the words he caught as he passed them — that they were 
discussing the dispute. “I’ll ask Pinsent,” he heard 




Boss Maddox say, and saw and heard him turn and call 
“Pinsent! Here, Foxy, where are you?” as though 
Foxy Pinsent had been of the group a moment before. 

He passed quickly to the tail of the van and himself 
found Pinsent. “Angry, my pretty duck?” Foxy Pin¬ 
sent was saying. “Angry? Chuck! chuck!” 

It was to Ima that he was saying it; and with his last 
words, lolling against the entrance steps, he put out a 
hand to chuck her chin. She stepped out of his reach, 
and in relief cried, “Ah, Percival!” as Percival ap¬ 

Flame, furious flame most eager for vent! 

Choked for words by the flame’s fierce leap and burn, 
“Clear out of this!” Percival said. 

Foxy Pinsent turned his head slowly from Ima to Per¬ 
cival and looked Percival coolly up and down with the 
foxy smile. He put his elbows back to lean against the 
van, and very deliberately crossed one foot over the other. 
“Go to hell, won’t you?” he said mildly. 

It was a double smart he took to wipe the studied 
insolence from his face and to plant venom there. Per- 
cival’s open hand that struck his mouth — a tough, 
vicious jolt with the arm half-crooked, a boxer’s hit 
— drove his head against the van; and his “Ah, curse 
you!” followed the sharp smack and thud quick as if 
the three sounds — clip, thud, hiss — belonged to some 
instrument discharged. 

He sprang forward, head back, hitting quickly with 
both hands, like the rare boxer he was — feinted with 
his right, drove his left against Percival’s forehead, took 
a sharp one-two 1 on mouth and throat, and they were 
engaged, fighting close, fighting hard, and savage and 
glad, and fierce and exultant, each of them, at last to 
spring their common hate. 



In its suddenness and fury, in its briefness and the 
manner of its check, the thing was like the sudden woof! 
of flame of a spark to a handful of gunpowder. There is 
the belch and blinding flash of heat, then the thick cloud 
of smoke. There was the swift drum of blows, then the 
rush of feet — Stingo, Japhra, Boss Maddox, men from 
here, men from there, in that trap-door swiftness with 
which commotion throws up a crowd — and the two were 
grasped and pulled apart and held apart, struggling like 
terriers that have had the first taste of blood and to 
collect the glut are gone blind to blows or authority. 

Stingo from behind threw his two immense arms about 
Percival and leant with all his weight the better to lock 
them. Boss Maddox thrust his tall form before Pinsent, 
and snatched a wrist and gripped it in his long fingers. 
Japhra was at Percival’s hands that tore at Stingo’s. 

“Lay on here, some of you!” Boss Maddox called, 
struggling with Pinsent’s arm. “Get that other arm! 
— Dago ! Frenchy! Jackson! Darkie! Look alive 
with it! Drop it, Foxy ! Drop it! What the devil’s 
up with you ? ” 

And Stingo’s strained whispers, in jerks and gusts by 
reason of his exertions : “Easy, Percival! Easy with 
it! Easy, I say ! You can’t shift me, boy ! Get that 
hand, Japhra! Get that hand!” 

Then the smoke clears and there remains only the 
acrid smell of the burning, and the sense of heat. 

The two were dragged apart till a safe space separated 
them and they fronted each other before the groups 
about them — their faces furious, their bodies still, but 
their hands plucking at the hands that held them as they 
made their answers. 

“Struck me!” Foxy Pinsent shouted. “Struck me! 
By God! I’ll teach him! I’ve been saving it up for 



him a long time. Let me go, Boss ! What’s the sense 
of holding me like this? Struck me, the whelp, I tell 
you ! I’ve got to have him first or last! Let me 

And Percival: “And more to give you, Pinsent! 
Teach me, eh ? If I could get! — Japhra ! Stingo ! 
It’s no business of yours, this! Damn your inter¬ 
ference! Japhra! Japhra! Let go my hands!” 

They cooled a little as the hands still held them and 
their explanations were demanded. Boss Maddox left 
Pinsent to other constraint and came and stood in the 
little space between the two groups, hands behind his 
back in the familiar posture, shoulders slightly hunched, 
head on one side, and turning it this way and that as 
Percival or Pinsent spoke. 

Presently he looked at Stingo. “That boy’s right,” 
he said, with a jerk back at Pinsent. “He’s been struck. 
He’s Foxy. This can’t end here. He’s got to have his 

“ He’ll get ’em,” Stingo said, with as much grimness as 
his huskiness could convey. “He’ll get ’em if I let this 
lot loose. Don’t you let him worry, Boss.” 

Boss Maddox turned squarely on Pinsent. “Give it 
a rest till the morning, Foxy. You boys can’t fight in 
this darkness — not you two.” 

Pinsent laughed: “I’m not going to fight him. I’m 
going to thrash him.” 

“Let me go, Japhra ! Boss, let’s have hands off ! 
It’s our show — no one else’s.” 

Boss Maddox went back to his first contention. “ This 
can’t end here, Stingo,” and Japhra answered him: 
“Nay, there’s blood to be let, Boss. We can’t stop it 
— nor have call to.” He released Percival while he 
spoke, but kept a hand on him, and motioned Stingo’s 



arms away. He spoke in his slow habit, and with seem¬ 
ing reluctance, but there was a glimmer of relish in his 
voice. “They’ve to settle it, Boss.” 

“Will you fight him, Pinsent?” Boss Maddox asked. 

Pinsent shook off the clutches upon him. He came 
forward two deliberate paces, and with great delibera¬ 
tion stretched himself, and with great deliberation spat 
upon the ground. Then fixed his eye on Percival. “If 
he likes to get out of it with a whipping,” Pinsent said, 
“ I’ll learn him the manners he wants with your whip and 
let him off at that. If he’s got the guts to stand up, I’ll 
roast him till he lays down.” He thrust forward his 
body towards Percival and said mockingly: “Which way ? 
Which way, my pretty gentleman?” 

Percival’s face was a white lamp in the dusky night. 
“Give us room !” he said. 

Then Pinsent’s voice lost its deliberate drawl and 
rasped out in a rasp that showed his breeding and showed 
his hate : “I want light to serve you up, my gentleman ! 
Light and a pair of shoes ! Christ! I’ve waited too 
long for this to spoil it. I’ve a pattern to put on that 
pretty face of yours — not in this dark. Where’ll I 
fight him, Boss? Where?” 

“Along the road in the morning.” 

Percival came up. “I’ll not wait, Boss. You’ve 
heard him. I’ll not wait.” 

Pinsent rasped: “Morning be withered! Now! 
Now, while I’m hot. Where’ll I fight him?” 

Boss* Maddox peered at his watch, then looked across 
the booths. “Nigh midnight — few left yonder. We’ll 
be shut down in twenty minutes. At one o’clock.” 

And Japhra, a strange tremble in his voice: “In 
your tent, Boss. The boys will want to watch this. 
Room there, and good light.” 



Boss Maddox turned to Pinsent: “Good for you? 
The circus tent?” 

“The place for it,” Pinsent said. “Sharp at one. 
Japhra, you and me are ring men; come and settle a 

“Come thou to me,” Japhra answered him sturdily. 
“Thou and I! — I knew the ring, the knuckle ring, 
before thou sucked.” 

“Come to the tent,” Boss Maddox interposed. “Best 
settle there.” 

Japhra took Percival a space away. “Lay thee down,” 
he said. His voice was frankly trembling now, and he 
pressed both Percival’s hands in his. “Bide by my 
words; bide by them. Lay thee down till I return to 
thee. Forget thy spite against yonder fox. Ima!” 

She was at his side, her hands clasped together, her 
face white and strained. 

“Forget him his spite, and what comes, Ima. While 
he lies, with a rug and with his boots from his feet, bide 
thou there and read to him — Crusoe , eh ? Stingo and 
I will make for thee, master. I am not long gone.” 




Visitors to the booths who had stayed late that night 
went home complaining of the abruptness with which 
the shows were closed and of the uncouth way in which 
showmen who had fawned and flattered for their patron¬ 
age suddenly seemed no more occupied with them than 
to bustle them off the ground and set their faces town- 

But visitors were not in the line of communication that 
flashed that amazing news around the camp: 

“Heard it?” 


“Foxy Pinsent’s to fight Japhra’s Gentleman in the 
marquee !” 

“What of it?” 

“What of it, yer muddy thick? What of it? Not a 
show — private ! Had a scrap and to fight it out! ” 

“Eh? Fac’? No! When?” 

“One o’clock. When the ground’s clear.” And, with 
a nod at the sightseers, “Get ’em out, mate ! Get ’em 
out! Stars and stripes ! What a knock-out!” 

So, as the Fiery Cross among the Highland glens 
rushed with incredible swiftness, leaving in its wake a 
trail of mad commotion, the message flashed from mouth 
to mouth, booth to booth, van to van — received with 
utter incredulity, grasped with wildest excitement, 
relished with a zeal that caused every other thought and 




object to be abandoned, and resulted in a tide of fever¬ 
ish agitation to be at leisure for details and for the business 
that drove out naphtha flares and visitors alike as it swept 
across the ground. For there was more in the fight than 
the rare thrill of fight itself. It was accepted everywhere 
as the meeting by champion of the two factions; and the 
bickerings of many months, the final poison of that 
day’s events, rushed a savage zest into the appetites 
that waited the encounter. Foxy Pinsent was Boss 
Maddox’s party, coat off to put that Stingo crowd prop¬ 
erly in its place; Japhra’s Gentleman was the Stingo fol¬ 
lowing, girt at last to collect a little on account for much 
outstanding debt. When, towards one o’clock, the surg¬ 
ing crowd outside the marquee made a sudden move¬ 
ment forward and into the tent, it entered with rival 
cries, taunts, faction jeers — and separated, as a barrier 
had divided it, into two bodies that faced in mutual 
mock across the ring that had been formed. 

They found preparations at the point of completion, 
done by half a dozen principles that Boss Maddox had 
called in, who stood conferring with him now on final 
arrangements — Stingo, with Ginger Cronk and Snow¬ 
ball White of Japhra’s booth; Foxy Pinsent, hands in 
the pockets of his long yellow coat, with Buck Osborn 
and others of his Academy of Boxing and School of 
Arms — Pink Harman, Dingo Spain, Nut Harris. At 
a little distance Japhra stood with Percival. He had 
towels on his arm, a sponge in his hand, and as the crowd 
took up their places he turned and called a single word 
across the arena to the group within the ring. 

“Gloves?” he called. 

Pinsent answered him. Pinsent took his hands from 
the pockets of his coat and curved up two brown fists. 
“There’s no gloves between us,” he called back; and at 


his words the two groups of spectators drew as it were 
one long breath of relish — “Ah-h-h !” that hardened to 
murmurs of grim satisfaction, each man to his neigh¬ 
bour— “The raw ’uns!” “The knuckle!” “The 
knuckle!” “The raw ’uns!” and broke into indi¬ 
vidual bickerings, cries of derision, across the ring; and 
thence into a sudden wordless shouting, one party against 
the other — a blaring vent of old antagonism fermented 
by new cause that made the animals in the menagerie 
cages at the end of the arena leap from uneasy slumber to 
spring against their bars and join their chorus to a chorus 
brutish as their own. 


To a renewed outburst of that clamour — the thing 
was on the tick of beginning — Ima raised the flap that 
covered the entrance to the marquee and stepped with¬ 
in. Simultaneously the shouting stilled with a sudden 
jerk that left an immense silence — Foxy Pinsent had 
stepped into the ring. 

She stopped as if the sudden stillness struck her; 
and she took in the scene, her hands clasped against her 

The ring had been contrived within the inner circle 
that forms the working part of a circus arena. The can¬ 
vas belt, some two feet high, that surrounded this circle 
during a performance, had been taken up as to the arc 
farthest from where she stood and brought forward to 
the great pole of the marquee. The wide half circle 
thus bounded was made the ring for the fight. Around 
the tent the lights above the seats had been extinguished; 
the great lamp of many burners that encircled the mast 
enclosed the ring in its arc of clear light. In the sur¬ 
rounding dimness, as Ima paused and watched, were the 



high tiers of red-draped, empty benches. Within the 
light’s arc she saw the rival crowds on either hand; 
straight before her the gap that separated the two clusters 
and declared their enmity. At the centre front of each, 
against the canvas that bounded the ring, was a little 
caving-in of the throng where men in their shirt-sleeves 
knelt. Pinsent had just stepped out from this knot on 
the one side : in the other she saw Percival seated on her 
father’s knee. A hundred men and more were behind 
Pinsent, behind Percival forty or fewer; there was sig¬ 
nificance in how each throng stood closely packed, refusing 
the accommodation that the ample space between them 
offered — hatred was deep that preferred the discom¬ 
fort of jostling and tiptoe standing to easier view at the 
price of mingling. Every face was beneath a peaked cap 
or dented bowler hat and above a scarfed neck; a pipe 
in most caused, as it were, a grey, shifting bank of smoke, 
cut flat by the darkness above the lamp’s reflection, to 
be swaying above the caps as though they balanced 
it. Here and there were clumps of colour where women 
in blouses of red or white clustered together. Sweat, for 
the place was hot, glistened on this face and on that as if 
the grey, shifting bank above them exuded drops of 
water. There was something very sinister, very eerie, in 
the complete silence that for a moment held the scene; 
and Ima started to hear a sound of breathing and of rest¬ 
less movement. She looked around. On either hand 
of where she stood the menagerie cages were banked. 
Dark or tawny forms were coiled or stretched there; 
in one cage was a big wolf, head down, nose at the bars, 
that watched the light as she watched it. 

She went quickly forward to where she saw her father. 
Impatient way was made for her. Japhra was talking 
earnestly to Percival, and they scarcely seemed to notice 


her. She slipped down beside them, her knees against 
the canvas, and sat on her heels, her hands clasped at their 
full extension. She had said she would not come. She 
had found she must. While she had been with Percival 
waiting Japhra’s return after the scene with Pinsent he 
had begun the contrition he had come to her to express. 
She suffered him nothing of it. “That is left where we 
laid it among the bracken, ” she told him. “Let it abide 
there. Look already what has come of it. If I had 
stayed with thee, this had not happened.” 

But her leaving him, and why she left, and his follow¬ 
ing her, and what came then, were of the train of the 
tricks and chances that shaped for him this day. 


Boss Maddox spoke. “They’re going to fight,” he 
said, taking up a position against the mast and addressing 
the gathering in his dry, authoritative way — “They’re 
going to fight, and you can count yourselves lucky to 
see it. If any one interferes — out he goes. Every¬ 
thing ’s settled. If any one sees anything he don’t 
think right or according to rule he can go outside and 
look for it — keep his mouth shut while he’s going and 
go quick. Three minute rounds. One minute breathers. 
Ten count for the knock-out. Stingo ’ll stand here with 
the watch. I’m referee. And I’m boss — bite on that. 
Come along, Foxy.” 

Pinsent, who had stepped over the canvas and strolled 
to the centre of the ring as Ima entered, was still in the 
long yellow coat, still with his hands in his pockets. He 
liked to have all those eyes upon him. He liked to give 
pause and opportunity for the thought that this fine 
figure standing here had fought in class rings and bore 
a reputation that gentlemen in shirt-fronts had paid 




gold to see at battle. He suffered usually a slight ner¬ 
vousness at the first moment of stepping into those class 
rings: to-night and here he had an exultant feeling, 
and he carried it with a most effective swagger. He 
knew Percival could box. He had watched him spar in 
Japhra’s booth. He knew, to express his own thoughts, 
there ’d be a little bit of mixin’ up at the outset; but he 
knew, as only Japhra among them all also knew, that to 
his own skill that had put him in a good rank of his weight 
he added the experience, the craft, the morale of a score 
and more class fights, and that such a quality is to be 
reckoned as a third arm against that poor thing — a 
“novice.” “A novice, Boss!” he had said to Boss 
Maddox an hour before. “A novice — I lay there’s 
more’n a few ’ud stop this fight if they knew what I was 
fighting. ’Strewth ! I’d not do it myself but for what 
I’ve been saving up against the whelp !” 

What he had been saving up came poisonously to his 
mind as he stood there, driving away even the flavour of 
the admiration he felt he was receiving. At last the price 
for that “Foxy” he had been dubbed and had endured. 
At last that price ! Folk had come to the booths to see 
Japhra’s Gentleman, had they ! — A price for that! 
That smack in the mouth an hour ago ! — A price for 
that! a big price and he would have it to the full! 

The foxy smile contracted his mouth and eyes as he 
began to draw the scarf from his neck, slipped the long 
yellow coat, and peeled a sweater. A delighted cry went 
up from his supporters — good old Foxy had done them 
the honour of appearing in his class ring kit! Japhra, 
whispering last earnest words in Percival’s ear, looked 
up at the cry, and twisted up his face at what he saw. 
Naked but for the tight boxing trunks and boxing boots, 
Pinsent declared himself a rare figure of a fighting ma- 


chine. Japhra knew the points. Pinsent threw out his 
arms at right angles to his sides and drew a long breath. 
Japhra saw the big round chest spring up and expand as 
a soap bubble at a breath through the pipe — the cleft 
down the bone between the big chest muscles; the tense, 
drumlike look of the skin where it swept into waist 
from the lower ribs; the ridge from neck to shoulder on 
either side where the head of the back muscles showed; 
the immense span of the arms, rooted in great hitting 
shoulders that, at such length and along such well- 
packed arms, would drive the fists like engine rods. He 
scaled a shade over ten stone, Japhra guessed. Percival 
would be little above nine-and-a-half; and in Pinsent’s 
uncommonly long legs — their length accentuated by the 
brief boxing-drawers — Japhra saw a further and most 
dangerous quality in his armoury. He swung an arm and 
side-stepped to his left as Japhra watched; and Japhra’s 
lips twitched. The left leg not slid the foot but lifted 
it and put it away and down, more with the ease of an arm 
action than of a leg — as a spider lifts and places; up, 
two feet away, the body perfectly poised on the right; 
down, and in a flash the body alert upon it — down, and 
in a flash the arm extended and back again with the stab 
of a serpent’s tongue. There went up a murmur of ap¬ 
plause at the consummate ease of the action, and Japhra 
turned to Percival with whispered repetition of last words. 

“Thou seest that?” he whispered. “Thou must 
follow, follow; press him; give him no rest. In-fighting, 
in-fighting, quick as thou canst hit!” 

Earnest anxiety was in his voice as he spoke and in his 
lined face that was all twisted up so that every line be¬ 
came a pucker, as a withered apple that is squeezed in 
the hand. 

“Now bide me a last time,” he said. “He hath no 



bowels for punishment. There is a coward streak in 
him — I have seen it. That thou must find by following, 
following — quick as thou canst sling them. Good for 
thee that he has chosen the knuckle. Thou hast used thy 
hands. That fox yonder hath been too fine a swell 
these years to pull and carry, shift and load as thou hast 
done. He will rue his choice when his knuckles bruise; 
thine like stone. He will use his tongue on thee, mock¬ 
ing thee. Pay no heed to that. He will use his ring 
tricks. Watch for them. Up now ! they are ready for 
thee. My life is in this fight, little master — punish, 
punish, punish; give him no peace — it resteth on that. 
All the luck !” 

He slipped Percival’s coat, and Percival stepped across 
the canvas and went where Pinsent waited him in the 
centre. He wore the dress in which he boxed in the booth 
— white flannel trousers, a vest of thin gauze, white 
canvas shoes with rubber soles. He carried his arms at 
his sides, twisting up his fingers to make toughest those 
fists that Japhra had said were like stone. He held his 
head high, looking straightly at Pinsent; stopped within 
an arm’s length of him and turned his eyes informa¬ 
tively to Boss Maddox, then direct into Pinsent’s again. 

His covered limbs joined with his few pounds’ lesser 
weight to make him appear the slighter figure of the two. 
“ Going to eat him !” a voice behind Pinsent broke out. 

“Going to muddy well eat him!” and Pinsent’s 
mouth and eyes contracted into their foxy smile at the 

“Ready?” from Boss Maddox. “All right, Stingo. 
Get along with it.” 

“Time !” said Stingo’s husky whisper; and, as a hand 
laid to the wire of dancing puppets, the word jerked both 
figures into movement. 




They tell that fight along the road to-day. Old men 
who saw it want never a listener when the talk turns on 
boxing and they can say: “ Ah, but I saw Japhra’s Gentle¬ 
man and Foxy Pinsent back in Boss Maddox’s time.” 

I tell it as it is told. 

Why (the old men say), why, this Japhra’s Gentle¬ 
man, mark me, he was one of the quick-ones — one of 
the movers, one of the swift-boys, one of the dazzlers, 
one of the few ! He come in tic-tac! tic-tac! tic-tac! 
— quicker’n my old jaws can say it: Left-right! left- 
right ! left-right! — like his two fists was a postman’s 
knock. Pinsent never see nothing like it. He was 
one of the class ones, this Pinsent — one of the pretty 
ones, one of the sparrers, one of the walk-rounds, talk- 
rounds, one of the wait-a-bits; never in no hurry, the 
class-ring boys — all watching first to see what a man’s 
got for ’em. He muddy soon saw, Foxy ! Foxy never 
see nothing like it. First along, he prop this quick-boy 
off, an’ prop him off, an’ prop him off; an’ catch him 
fair and rattle him, an’ smash him one and stagger him, 
an’ side-step an’ shake him up; but still he come, and 
still he come, and still he come; tic-tac! tic-tac! tic- 
tac ! ah, he was one of the quick-ones, one of the dazzlers, 
one of the steel-boys. 

Pinsent never see nothing like it. He come back after 




the first round thinking this was novice stuff — going 
all out like that from the gong—and laughin’ at the bustle 
of it, an’ Buck Osborn an’ Nut Harris an’ his boys 
laughin’ back at him. Second round he come back an’ 
give a bit of a spit on the ground an’ ease up his trunks 
an’ look thoughtful. Third round he step back slowly 
’s if he’d a puzzle to think about, — third round I mind me 
Dingo, Dingo Spain, chip him friendly while he pass the 
sponge over him, and Foxy turn on him like he had the 
devil in his eyes. “What in hell’s that to you?” he 
give him. “Keep your grins in your ugly mouth,” he 
give him, “lest you want me to wipe it for you !” He 
was rattled some, that foxy one; not hurted much — 
one of the tough ones, Foxy — but bothered by it an’ 
not quite sure what to make of it, like a man with a wops 
buzzin’ round his head — that was the like of it with that 
quick-boy cornin’ at him, an’ cornin’ at him, an’ cornin’ 
at him. 

Ay, but he was one of the tough ones, Foxy — one of 
the lie-lows, one of the shifty ones, one of the snaky-boys, 
one of the cautions ! He went out fourth round for to 
serve it up to that quick-boy with some of his crafty 
bits. I like a bit o’ craft meself. I was a Maddox man, 
me, an’ I set up a holler, an’ we all holler, take my word, 
when we see Foxy servin’ of it up to that quick-boy like 
he lay hisself to do then. Give his tongue to him a treat, 
he did. Walkin’ out to him — tiptoe an’ crouchin’ at 
him. “What, you’re in a hurry, my gentleman!” he 
chips him. “You’ll make yourself hot, my pretty pet, 
if you don’t steady down,” he chips him. “That’s not 
lady’s manners, runnin’ about like you’ve been,” he chips 

That quick-boy come at him an’ he slip a bit of craft 
on him quick as a snake. Side-step, he did, that foxy 


3 61 

one; an’duck an’ say, “Where’s your manners?” an’ 
rake his head across an’ butt that quick-boy’s stomach so 
he grunts; an’ up an’ hook him one, an’ follow him an’ 
lash him one, an’ “Mind your manners, you bastard!” 
he says an’ half across the ring an’ waitin’ for him. Three 
times he butt him so, an’ each time hook him one, an’ all 
the time lip-lippin’ of him, an’ us boys hollerin’ an’ 
Stingo’s boys hollerin’ an’ the animals in the cages hol¬ 
lerin’ back on us. Holler ! — I mind me I was in a fair 
muck sweat with it. 

Back he goes again, next round, that foxy one, an’ 
“Why, dear, dear, you’ve got some beauty-spots on your 
face, my pretty gentleman !” he chips him. “Come an’ 
let’s paint ’em up a bit for you, my little lady ! ” he chips 
him. Ay, that was a round, that one! That Japhra, 
— a rare one that Gipsy Japhra — had been talkin’ to 
that quick-boy whiles he had him on his knee; an’ when 
he comes in, an’ that foxy one goes to rake him with 
buttin’ him again, he step back, that quick-boy, for to 
cut him as he come out. I see the move — but that foxy 
one ! All craft that foxy one was — one of the snaky ones, 
one of the tough boys, one of the coves ! ’Stead o’ 
swingin’ through with his head, he swing up and hook his 
left ’un with it, an’ chin that quick-boy one, an’ “Paint!” 
he says, “There’s paint for you, you dog !” an’ lash him 
one where he had a little mouse-lump over his eye; an’ 
true enough, the paint splits across an’ comes streaky 
down that quick-boy’s face. 

You’d ha’ thought — I lay me I know what that foxy 
one thought. Blood fierce went that foxy one when he see 
that blood, an’ in he goes, fierce after blood, for to finish 
it; leaved off his craft and went in for to hammer him. 
He muddy soon goed back to craft again, Foxy ! That 
quick-boy shook his head an’ run back; an’ draws a 

3 62 


breath an’ meets him; an’ throats him one an’ staggers 
him; an’ draws a breath an’ follows him; an’ pastes him 
one an’ grunts him; an’ tic-tac! tic-tac! tic-tac! an’ 
follows him, an’ follows him, an’ follows him. Like 
a wops he was — like a bull-tarrier he was, an’ that foxy- 
one gets all muddled with him, an’ runs back puzzled 
with him, an’ then catches hold of hisself, an’ stops his- 
self — I reckon he wondered where ’n hell he’d be soon 
if he didn’t—and puts in that duck an’ butt craft again; 
an’ that quick-boy steadies for him like old Japhra bin 
teachin’ of him; an’ when that foxy one swings across, 
that quick-boy smashes up under him — crack ! like a 
stone-breaker with his hammer; an’ that foxy one come 
back to us with his mouth split, an’ his chin red; an’ 
while he sit blowin’ take a toof out; an’ while he sit 
blowin’ get it drip-drop on his chest from where the 
blood run to his chin. 


But Percival had suffered under the punishment of 
these savage encounters, and under the immense exer¬ 
tions of that unceasing in-fighting to which Japhra had 
urged him. Back on Japhra’s knee, “I’ve dosed him, 
Japhra,” he said. “He’s taking all I can give him.” 
There was a sob in his quick breathing as he spoke, 
and he smiled weakly and leant back against Japhra’s 

Japhra’s eyes were sunk in his twisted face to twin 
points of glistening light. His voice trembled, and his 
hand as he plied the sponge. “He will not drink much 
more,” he said. “Thou art hot after that coward streak 
in him. I mark the signs of it. Keep up the dose, mas¬ 
ter ! Never such a fight — and never thy like ! never thy 



like ! Follow him, son of mine — follow him ! follow 
him ! A last call on thyself! Watch him where he 
sucks his tender knuckles.” 

Pinsent knew better than Japhra the tenderness of 
those bruised knuckles of his: he knew too that he was 
housing an uneasy feeling beneath his belt, born of the 
bewildering persistence of his opponent and of the punish¬ 
ing fists which that persistence pressed upon him, giving 
him no peace. He was sore ; he had reached the point 
when blows were beginning to hurt him — and that was a 
point beyond which he knew it was dangerous for him to 
delay proceedings. 

Again ! He came forward with a trick in his mind that 
he had seen and that he had once playfully practised on 
Buck Osborn. Thought of it helped him to his foxy 
smile that was a grotesque burlesque of itself as he made 
it with his swollen mouth; but again ! — again that 
steel-springed fury was on him, following him, following 
him, following him. Pinsent must needs use his fists to 
try to check its rushes; when he effected a savage blow 
the jar at his knuckles made him wince. Twice he went 
backwards round the ring — a third time and feinted a 
stumble as he moved his feet. It made his chance. 
Percival, coming too quick, ran full into him. He ducked, 
then drove up his head with all his force beneath the 
other’s jaw. 

The trick succeeded better than when he had seen it 
and marked it for future use. Jarred to the point of 
unconsciousness, Percival staggered back, his arms wide. 
At the exposed throat Pinsent drove his left fist with all 
the driving power his body and legs could give it; with 
the dull wup! of a wet sheet beaten on stone Percival 
went his full length and full length lay. 



“Time !” throated Stingo; and at the word the facing 
crowds, that as one man had caught their breaths, went 
into two tumults of jostling figures, tossing arms, and of 
brazen throats before whose thunders, beating the air 
like thunder’s self, Japhra, Ginger Cronk, Snowball 
White, and One Eye bent their heads as they came rush¬ 
ing forward. 

“Time!” Japhra snarled at Pinsent. “Out of this, 
thou foul-play fox !” 

“Out you!” Pinsent shouted. He stood over the 
prostrate form, breathing quick, one arm curved back as 
if it held a stabbing sword: “Out you! Enough o’ 
this ! Private between him an’ me now. Stand out 
and let him up for me ! Out!” 

“Boss! Boss!” Japhra called, and dropped on his 
knees by Percival, dizzily rising on an elbow. “Boss! 
Boss ! What’s this ? Order him out! Have him out!” 

“Play fair!” “Fight fair!” — with cries and oaths 
the Stingo men pressed to the canvas, shaking fists aloft; 
with cries and oaths and tossing fists were answered. A 
Stingo man put his leg over the canvas and half his body 
into the ring: a leg and flushed face struck out on the 
other side. Then in a rush men broke across the canvas, 
poured into the ring, and met in two raging, foul-mouthed 
banks that strained about the boxers. 

Boss Maddox thrust his way forward. “Ge’ back! 
Ge’ back ! I’ll have ’ee out the tent, every man of ’ee ! 
Ge’ back ! Ge’ back ! By God, I’ll have the lamp out! ” 
And he fought his way back to the mast and stretched 
his hand to the chain that released the extinguishers 
upon the burners. 

A Stingo and a Maddox man, catching each the other’s 
eye as the two sides bayed and jostled, made private 
cause of the common brawl, and closed with clutching 


36 s 

hands. Another pair engaged, and now another — 
whirled in that tossing mob, and flung the crowd this way 
and that in their furious grappling, like fighting tigers in 
a stockade breaking in pieces at their violence. 

Boss Maddox’s iron throat like a trumpet across the 
din : “The light goes ! The light goes !” 

It flickered; savage hands tore at the fighters, savage 
feet kicked furious commands; flickered again — and 
suddenly the immense clamour went to a cry, to a broken 
shout, to peace. 

Pinsent pushed his way to the front. “Easy, Boss — 
I want that light. I’ve a job to finish,” he said; and in 
the laugh that went up, added, “The boys ’ll be all right.” 
He threw his arms apart in gesture of command. “Out 
o’ the ring !” he cried. “You’re robbin’ me of it. Get- 
tin’ his wits back ! I’d ha’ cut him out by now !” 

Three parts supporting Percival, Japhra with Ginger 
Cronk and the rest had taken him back through the mob 
and supported him while they tended him. . . . The 
tumult gave him five minutes, and he was sitting up as 
the men returned growling to their places. He looked at 
Ima, crouching by him, read the entreaty in her eyes, and 
answered it and at the same time answered Japhra’s 
trembling “How of it, master?” by shaking his head. 
“No !” he said, “No !” and felt Japhra’s arms tighten 
about him. 

Another heard him and pressed forward. It was 
Egbert Hunt, tears running down his face. 

“You ain’t going on?” he cried. “You ain’t going 
on ! Stop it, Mr. Japhra ! Stop this murder !” 

Japhra’s left arm was about Percival’s body, his right 
hand used the sponge. Those near him for the first and 
only time heard him use a coarse expression. As he were 
some tigress above a threatened cub, he drew Percival 



closer to him and turned savagely up at Egbert’s pallid 
face. “Shut thy bloody, coward mouth!” he cried at 
him. “Men’s work here ! Quit thee, thou whelp ! ” 

The ring was clear. Pinsent came out, sucking a fist. 
Percival got to his feet, stood a moment, the blood that 
had dripped to his chest the red badge of courage flying 
there — then walked forward. 

Somewhere in the crowd a woman’s voice shot up 
hysterically : “ God love yer, Gentleman !” it shrilled — 
“ Y ’re pluck ! Pluck !” 


That foxy one (the old men say) he come out sucking 
his fistses that were gone more like messy orindges than 
any fistses ever I see. He see that quick-boy rockin’ a 
bit on his feet where he stood, an’ he spit his fist out his 
mouth an’ he run slap down at him for to knock him off 
his legs by runnin’ into him. He run at him hard as he 
could pelt, that foxy one; an’ that quick-boy stan’ ’s if 
he was dreamin’ an’ never see nothin’ of him. Ah, but 
that quick-boy could have fought if he was asleep, I 
reckon me ! He slip aside, squeeze aside, twist aside 
jus’ as that foxy one reach him; so quick he twist, us 
what was watchin’ the ground for to see him go there 
never see him move. I reckon that foxy one never did 
neither. He muddy soon knowed, though, Foxy ! He 
go sprawlin’ by, an’ as he go that quick-boy clip him one 
an’ help him go an’ stumble him. Round he come, that 
foxy one, savage with it; an’ that quick-boy dreamin’ 
there again; an’ rush him for to rush him down again; 
an’ this time that quick-boy, too tired for to shift by the 
look of it, let him have it as he come fair under the eye, 
an’ Foxy jus’ swing him one on the cheek, an’ that shift 



him like he shift hisself before; an* he clip that foxy one 
the other fist a clip you could ha’ heard far as yonder 
tree; an’ clip that same eye again; an’ us see the blood 
run up into Foxy’s peeper; an’ that foxy one shake his 
head, an’ shake his head, like he was blinded with it. 
He shake a muddy lot more, Foxy, afore he was through ! 
He set in for to do the rushing then, like that quick-boy 
had done first along; an’ that quick-boy’s turn, dreamin’ 
there, for to do the proppin’ off. But he not rush like 
that quick-boy rush. He shake his head an’ have a go at 
him; an’ that quick-boy prop him off an’ wait for him; 
an’ he shake his head an’ walk round a bit, an’ ur! he go, 
an’ rush at him; an’ that quick-boy wake hisself an’ 
prop him off; an’ he suck his fist an’ wipe his eye, an ur! 
he come again: and that quick-boy twist hisself an’ give 
him one — crack l my life, his fistses was like stones, 
that quick-boy’s ! 

Ah, my word ! my word ! then they got at it. That 
old Japhra — a rare one, that Gipsy Japhra ! — sing out 
“Cut in ! Cut in ! little master !” and that quick-boy 
gives a heave of hisself an’ they meet, those two, slapper- 
dash ! slapper-dash! this way! that way! punchin’, 
punchin’ ! an’ they fall away, those two, an’ breathe 
theirselves, an’ pant theirselves; an’ that foxy one has 
his mouth all anyhow an’ fair roarin’ of his breath through 
it; an’ his head all twisty-ways with only one eye for 
watchin’ with; an’ they rush those two — my life ! they 
were rare ones ! Hit as they come, those two — an’ that 
put the stopper on it. Like stones — crack! like stones 
— my word on it, their fists met, an’ Foxy drop his left 
arm like it was broke at the elbow. Then he takes it! 
Like a bull-tarrier !—like a bull-tarrier, my word on it, 
that quick-boy lep’ at him. One! he smash him an’ 
heart him, an’ I see that foxy one glaze in his eye an’ 

3 68 


stagger with it. Two! that quick-boy drive him an’ rib 
him, an’ I hear that foxy one grunt an’ see him waggle up 
his hanging arm an’ drop it. Three! that quick-boy 
smash him an’ throat him, an’ back he goes, that foxy one ; 
an’ crash he goes ! an’ flat he lies — an’, my life ! to hear 
the breathing of him ! 

Life of me ! there was never a knock-out like it; never 
one could do it like that quick-boy done it! Never no 
one as quick as that quick-boy when first along he come 
tic-tac ! tic-tac ! tic-tac! left-right! left-right! left-right! 
Never one could come again after he was bashed like that 
quick-boy come. Never his like ! One of the rare ones, 
one of the clean-breds, one of the true-blues, one of the 
all-rights, one of the get-there, stop-there, win-there — 
one o’ the picked ! 


Quivering in silence the facing crowds stood while the 
count went. 

“Nine!” throated Stingo — scarcely a whisper. 

Stillness while perhaps five seconds passed. Then 
Boss Maddox opened his hands towards the ring in an 
expressive gesture. 

Then men came rushing to Pinsent and shook him: 
“Up, Foxy! Up!” Then Pinsent drew up his knees, 
groaned, and seemed to collapse anew. Then, then the 
storm burst in a bellow of sound, in a rush of figures. 
All, all of clamour that had gone before — of exultation, 
hate, defiance, blood-want, rage — seemed now to bind 
up in two clanging rolls of thunder that in thunder went, 
in thunder thundered back, and thundered on again. 
Percival turned and saw Japhra running towards him, an 
arm’s length in advance of the mob that followed. He 



fell into Japhra’s arms, felt himself pressed, pressed to 
Japhra’s heart, heard in his ears “ Never thy like ! Son of 
mine, never thy like !” He knew a driving mob behind 
his back, before, and all about him—heard curses, grap- 
plings, blows. Heard Japhra’s cry “Up with him! 
Up !” felt himself borne aloft and dimly was conscious 
that his bearers were staggered this way and that by the 
flood that surged about them. . . . Sudden darkness, 
and sudden most delicious air and sudden most delicious 
rain was his next impression — they had got him outside 
the tent. ... At his next he was in the van, on his 
couch, smiling at those who bent above him. 




“How dost thou go ?” Japhra asked. 

“Why, my face is sore,” Percival said — “sore! it 
feels as if I had only a square inch of skin stretched to 
cover the lot. I’m right as rain otherwise. That was a 
fight, Japhra !” 

“Never its like!” Japhra answered him huskily — 
“never its like! Thou art the fighting type, my son. 
Long ago I said it. This night hath proved me !” 

Percival sighed most luxuriously. Pleasant, pleasant 
to be lying there — bruised, tired, sore, but weariness 
and wounds bound up with victory. He put up a hand 
and took Ima’s fingers that touched his face with oint¬ 
ment. “That’s fine, Ima !” he smiled at her. “I saw 
you crying. You oughtn’t to have been there. Did you 
think I was done for ? ” 

She shook her head; tears were still in her eyes. 

“Well, it’s over now,” he said affectionately. “Dry 
those eyes, Ima !” 

She gave a catch at her breath. “Well, I am a woman,” 
she told him, and her gentle fingers anointed his face 

Their caress assisted him into drowsiness. Without 
opening his eyes he inquired presently: 

“What’s all that row? There’s a frightful noise 
somewhere, isn’t there?” 



Japhra, who was looking through the forward window 
into the early dawn of the summer morning, turned to 
Ima and shook his head. She took his meaning and 
answered Percival: “It rains heavily. There is a 
storm coming up.” 

He dropped into slumber. 


But the noise he had heard was heavier than the rain 
that streamed upon the van’s roof; there raged outside a 
fiercer storm than the thunder-clouds massing up on the 
wind. It had been many seasons brooding; it was 
charged to the point of bursting when the two factions 
came shouting from the marquee after the fight. Swept 
up with arrogant glee, the Stingo men paraded with hoots 
and jeers before the Maddox vans. A stone came flying 
through the gloom and cracked against a tall man’s 
cheek. He stooped for it with a curse, sent it whistling, 
and the crash of glass that rewarded his aim was the 
signal for a scramble for stones — smashing of windows, 
splintering of wood. 

There came a wild rush of men from behind the 
Maddox vans. Japhra, watching from his window, 
turned swiftly and took up the stout limb of ash he com¬ 
monly carried. He gave it a deft twirl in a tricky way 
that spoke of the days when single-stick work figured at 
the fairs, and looked at Ima with his tight-lipped smile. 

“The sticks are out!” he said grimly. “I knew it 
would end thus; ” and as he opened the door and dropped 
to the ground there came to him from many throats the 
savage cry — glad to the tough old heart of him that once 
had told Percival, “Ay, a camp fight with the sticks out 
and the heads cracking is a proper game for a man” — of 



“Sticks! Sticks!” ; and one that came running past 
him toward the press shouted to him: “ Japhra ? Good 

on yer ! The sticks are out! The-s ha’ come at us 

with sticks !” 

It was Snowball White. “This way with it, boy,” 
Japhra told him as they ran. “Thy stick thus — with a 
hand at each end across thy head. Crack at a pate right 
hand or left when thou seest one — then back to overhead 


to guard thine own again. I have been out with the 
sticks. I know the way of it.” 


Weight of numbers had told their tale when Percival 
got a glimpse of the fierce work. 

“I’m fit — I’m absolutely fit, I tell you !” he had told 
Ima when, awakened by the sounds that now had raged 
close to the Stingo vans, and recognising them for what 
they were, he had shaken off her protests and entreaties 
and had come to the scene. 

“Lie here while they’re fighting us ! Why, you’d be 
ashamed of me, you know you would !” he had cried; 
but when he was outside, and had gone a few steps in the 
rain that now was sheeting down, he was informed how 
weak he was, and was caught and spun dizzily back by a 
sudden mob of men driven towards him, and was held 
dizzy and fainting by the panting breaths and by the 
reek of sweating bodies that wedged him where he 

He was packed in a mob of his Stingo mates, half of 
whom could not free their arms for use and about three 
sides of whom the Maddox mob were baying, driving 
them further and further back against the vans with 
sticks that rattled on sticks and on heads like the crack- 


ling of trees in a wood fire. Two forms, taller than the 
rest, upstood clearly — near Percival old Stingo, hat¬ 
less, blood on a cheek, and throating “Hut! Hut, boys ! 
Hut! ” with each stroke he made; further away Boss 
Maddox, pale, grim and iron of countenance as ever 
even in this fury, and using his long reach to strike with 
deadly precision at heads half a dozen men in front of 

The two were working towards one another, Percival 
could see, and a sudden surge of the crowd brought him 
almost within reach of Boss Maddox’s stick. It was at 
that moment that he felt a jostling at his ribs as of some¬ 
one burrowing past him from behind, looked down and 
recognised Egbert Hunt — shut in by accident and try¬ 
ing to escape, Percival guessed. 

“Hullo! You’re going the wrong way to get out,” 
he told him. 

Egbert Hunt thrust up and filled his lungs as a diver 
might rise for air. He peered in the direction of Boss 
Maddox, and went down again. “I know which way 
I’m going,” he said, and squirmed ahead — feeling and 
thrusting with his outstretched left hand, his right in the 
pocket of his coat. 

Stingo and Maddox met. Each stood high above 
those about them and each had a cry of challenge for the 
other as their sticks joined. “Hut!” grunted Stingo and 
slashed to Boss Maddox’s shoulder. 

Percival saw the stick caught where it had slipped from 
its mark and gone into the press; saw Boss Maddox 
shake himself for freer action and the crowd give way 
from about him ; saw him swing up his arm and poise his 
stick a dreadful second clear above Stingo’s unpro¬ 
tected head — then saw him give an awkward stagger, 
saw the raised stick slip down between his fingers, heard 



him grunt and saw him drop down and disappear as a 
man beneath whose feet the ground had opened. 

There arose almost simultaneously, high above the din 
of sticks and oaths, a scream of shocking sound and 
horrid meaning — “A knife! A knife!” the scream 
shot up — “A knife ! Some bastard’s used a knife !” 

It swept across the struggling men, stopped them, and 
was cried from throat to throat as though through the 
night there jarred some evil bird circling with evil cry: 
“A knife ! A knife ! Some one’s knifed !” 

And then again that first voice screamed: “Boss 
Maddox’s knifed! The Boss is murdered!” 

And another, most beastly : “Christ! it’s pourin’ out 
of ’im. Boss ! Boss ! ’Oo’s done it on yer?” 

And a third: “Boss! Boss! God ha’ mercy!—- 
he’s dead ! dead !” 

And one that sprung up in panic and smashed a panic 
blow at the man behind him : “Dead ! Dead ! Gi’ us 
room, blast yer !” 

And one that sprung upright, held in his hand aloft 
that which caught the dull morning gleam, and screamed 
“Here y’are! Here’s what done it! Blood on the 


A thud of hoofs broke into the silence in which the 
crowd stood held. A jingle of accoutrements; a sharp 
voice that called: “What’s up? What’s wrong here? 
Who called murder?” a breaking away right and left of 
the mob ; and into the lane instinctively formed to where 
the body lay a mounted constable rode, pulled up his 
horse and cried again. “What’s up ? What’s wrong here ? ” 

He was answered. Scarcely the fearful whisper “Po¬ 
lice ! Police!” had run to the outskirts of the crowd, 


when one that had knelt sprung raving to his feet, tossed 
aloft two hands dark with blood, and shouted: “I called 
murder ! There’s murder here ! Boss Maddox’s got a 
knife in him !” His shouting went to a scream: “One 
o’ they’s done it!” he screamed. “One o’ they ! One 
o’ Stingo’s bastards !” 

There had been mutterings of thunder and swiftly 
gathering darkness that submerged the summer morning’s 
gleam. Tremendous upon that accusing scream there 
now broke out of heaven great reverberating rolls of 
sound as of heaven demanding answer to that cry. The 
sheeting rain burst with a torrent’s fury — a great stab 
of lightning almost upon the very camp; then pitchy 
black and thunder’s roll again. 

To the Stingo crowd it gave the last effect to the 
mounting panic that had mounted in them on successive 
terrors of “A knife!” “Boss Maddox’s knifed!” 
“Boss Maddox’s dead !” “Police ! Police !” and “One 
o’ they ! One o’ they ! One o’ Stingo’s bastards !” 

Murder had been done. The Blue Boys were out. 
With one of their own number lay the guilt. There cried 
to them “Away! Away!”, all the instinct that, since 
first law came on the land, has bade roadmen, gipsies, 
outlaws, take immediate flight from trouble. “Away !” 
it screamed; and by common impulse there was a break 
and a rush to their vans of the Stingo men; and in the 
pitchy blackness and in primeval shudder at every roll of 
thunder, drenched by the streaming downpour, lit as 
the lightning snatched up the cloak of night, there were 
panic harnessing and panic cries: “One o’ us ! One o’ 
us done it! D’yer see the Blue Boy on his ’orse ? — more 
of ’em coming ! ’Old still! — still, blast yer ! Up wi’ 
that shaft! — up ! Hell take this buckle ! Are yer 
fixed ? One o’ us ! One o’ us !” 



A van, speedier ready than its neighbours, rolled off, 
its driver flogging the horse from the forward platform. 
A blinding torch from heaven flamed down about it. 
The constable, giving directions by the prone figure — 
“He’s not dead; knot those scarves together; lift, and 
bind ’em so” — shaded his eyes from the glare; then 
jumped for his horse. “Stop that van! None’s to 
leave here ! Stop ’em ! stop ’em !” 

Away ! Away ! — thundering hoofs; rocking wheels; 
a van overturned, and groans and curses; pursuers 
driven down or smashed at where they climbed the steps; 
the constable surrounded by those who ran beside the 
van he followed, dragged from his saddle, hurled aside, 
and his horse sent galloping. 

Away ! Away ! — blindly into the night. 

And in the night, two miles afield, one that ran with 
streaming face and labouring chest and that muttered 
“I done it on ’im — me, served like a dog before ’em all 
•— I done it on him, the tyrang !” 


Percival was changing his dripping clothes. Com¬ 
plete exhaustion had him. The bruises on his face had 
hardened to ugly colours, and Japhra, chiding him for 
having left the van, saw with concern an uglier colour 
yet that burned behind the bruises and whose cause made 
his wet body burning to the touch. 

“Bed for thee! — no changing!” he said; and was 
answered by Percival: “Japhra ! I saw him pitch and 

“I have helped bear him to his van. ... I saw him 

There had never left Percival’s mind him that went 


thrusting past in the press, right hand in pocket. His 
eyes questioned Japhra and were answered by Japhra’s. 
Then he said, “Egbert Hunt?” 

“ Egbert Hunt.” 

“What’s going to happen now, Japhra?” 

Strange how tricks and chances go ! All that day’s 
chain of tricks, all its train of chances, had brought 
Percival straight to the import of Japhra’s words. 

“This night hath ended this life, master. Stingo sells 
his stock and back to his brother near thy home. To¬ 
morrow, new roads for me.” 

Percival scarcely heard him. Japhra made an ex¬ 
clamation and caught him in his arms. 


She came from where she had waited behind her cur¬ 

“Help me here — then to Boss Maddox’s van where 
they bring a doctor. This night hath struck down this 
heart of ours.” 




The van brought Percival back to Aunt Maggie. 

Japhra and Ima, waiting the doctor’s arrival, watched 
and tended the signs of how, as Japhra had said, the night 
had struck Percival down. From the moment of his 
collapse in Japhra’s arms, his vitality no longer with¬ 
stood the strain to which it had been pressed. His 
mind gave way beneath the attack of the events of the 
past hours; marshalled now by fever’s hand they re¬ 
turned to him in riot of delirium. “ Don’t, Ima ! Don’t! 
. . . No ! No ! I’m all right! I’m better standing ! . . . 
Only a kiss in fun, Ima ! O God, if I had only known ! 
. . . Murdered ! Where’s Hunt ? Murder ! Poor old 
Hunt! . . . In-fighting ! I must get in ! If only I can 
stick out this round !. . . Ge’ back ! Ge’ back ! What’s 
Boss Maddox yelling about ? . . . In ! — I must get in \ 
I will get in !. . . Ima ! For me ! O God, what a thing 
to happen ! Only in fun ! Only in fun, Ima ! ... Fol¬ 
low him ! Follow him ! I must get in at him. . . . ” 

When he was momentarily in silence Japhra looked a 
question at Ima. 

She answered quite simply: “I told him that I 
loved him.” 

“And he?” Japhra said. 

She arranged the bedclothes, and with a fond touch 




smoothed back Percival’s hair; then looked at her father 
and smiled bravely and shook her head. 

“I have known it these many days,” Japhra told her. 
“I have watched thee.” He placed his hand on hers 
where it caressed Percival’s forehead. “What of com¬ 
fort have I for thee?” he said. “My daughter, none. 
He is not of us. Hearken to this thought, Ima. Heaven 
shapeth its vessels for the storms they must meet. Some 
larger thing calleth that grace of form and that rareness 
of spirit that he hath. What profit then for us to sor¬ 
row ?” 

Because he saw her crying, he repeated: “What 
profit ?” 

“Well, I am a woman,” she said. “My love is of a 
different sort from thine.” 

He stroked her hair. “My daughter, wouldst thou 
unlive the past ?” 

She replied : “Nay, it is all I have.” 

“So with me,” he said. “This night endeth it. Thou 
and I — henceforward we will be alone, remembering 
him — happy to have loved him, happy that he hath been 
happy with us, happy to have been a port where he hath 
fitted himself a little for what sea he saileth to.” 

She pressed her father’s hand. “As thou sayest,” 
she said; and after a moment, bending over Percival like 
some mother above her child: “What awaiteth him?” 
she asked. 

“Some strong thing,” Japhra said. “I know no more 
— that much I know without mistake. From the first 
when he came to us with his quaint ways and fair face I 
knew it. A big fight, as I have told him.” 

As if she believed her father to have divination, “Will 
he win?” she asked him. 

“He is the fighting type,” Japhra replied. “Victory 

3 So 


for him. This night in the tent. To-morrow — what¬ 
ever will. Though it be death — always victory.” 

She remembered that. 


The doctor, when he came, showed himself a tough 
gentleman — abrupt of speech, of the type that does its 
rounds in the saddle — who said “Stiff crowd, you! 
Regular hospital here. Cracked head in every van. 
Boss Maddox — he’s in a bad way. Now this young 
man. Make me fortune if you stop.” 

After examination: “Nursing,” he said; “it’s a 
case for nursing. He’s gone over the mark. Head — 
and hands, by the look of ’em ! Not my business that. 
Stiff crowd, you ! Nursing. You’ll have to watch it 
pretty sharp. That girl’s got a way with him. That’s 
what he wants.” 

“I am taking him home,” Japhra said; “two days 
from here — if that be wise.” 

“Wisest thing. Get him out of this. Stiff crowd, you ! 
I’ll look in again midday. Send you some stuff. Then 
you can move. He’s badly over the mark. Look after 

Thus, on the afternoon of that day, the train of tricks 
and chances had Percival on the road towards Aunt 
Maggie and Burdon village. The police, who had taken 
authority in the camp, made no objection to Japhra 
leaving. They knew now the man they wanted; half 
the Maddox crowd had heard Hunt’s threat to stick a 
knife in Boss Maddox; the blade found was scratched 
with his name; a score had seen him edging through the 
press towards the Boss; there were not wanting those 
who, their imagination enlarged by these hints, had seen 
the very blow struck. Japhra might go, the police said, 



and Stingo Hannaford too. The only wanted vans were 
those in flight that might have the fugitive in hiding. 
So, while Boss Maddox, removed to the Infirmary, 
lay between life and death, while the Blue Boys from the 
police station and the tough boys from the vans scoured 
the country in thrill of man-hunt, Japhra harnessed up 
the van and struck away towards Burdon. 

The patient ranged wide in his delirium during the 
journey — often on his lips a name that once had fallen 
about him like petals of the bloomy rose, sweet as they; 
that now struck like blows in the face at her who cease¬ 
lessly watched him: 

“I know this house ! Up the stairs ! down the stairs ! 
I’m tired, tired ! What am I looking for ? What am 
I looking for ? Not you, Dora !—not you !. . . You are 
Snow-White-and-Rose-Red ! I love you, Dora ! Why 
do you look at me so strangely, Mr. Amber !. . . Rollo ! 
Rollo, old man ! — Rollo, what are you doing ? She is 
running away from me ! Let me go, Rollo ! let me go !... 
In-fighting ! I must get in ! I will get in ! . . . Dora ! 
Dora ! How I have longed for you ! . . . ” 

She that watched him appeared to have a wonderful 
influence over him. Of its own force it seemed to give 
her the quality of entering the wanderings of his mind 
and satisfying him by answering his cries. 

“In-fighting ! In-fighting !” he would cry. “I must 
get in ! I will get in!” 

And she: “ You are winning ! There — there; look, 
you have won ! It is ended — you have won ! ” 

“ You are Snow-White-and-Rose-Red ! Dora! Dora! 
My Dora !” 

And she, steeling herself: “I am here, Percival! 
Your Dora is here! Hold Dora’s hand! There, rest 
while I stay with you !” 



So through the hours. 

"Post Offic” was the evening of the second day distant. 
Japhra walked all the way, leading the horse — move¬ 
ment steadier, less chance of jolting, by leading than by 
driving, Japhra thought; and so trudged mile on mile 
— guiding away from ruts, down the steep hills holding 
back horse and van by force amain rather than use the 
drag that would have jarred noisily. For the rest he 
walked, one hand on the bridle, the other in his pocket, 
his whip beneath his arm, not with the keen look and 
alert step that was his usual habit, but with some air that 
made kindly folk say in passing : “Poor gipsies ! They 
must have a hard life, you know !” 

But it was that each step brought him nearer end of a 
companionship that had gone with deep roots into his 
heart that made life for the first time seem hard to this 

He would not smoke. “The reek would carry back 
on this breeze and through the windows to him,” he told 
Ima, come beside him while her patient slept. 

She could never remember seeing her father without 
his pipe, and she was touched by his simple thought. 
She slipped her hand into the pocket of his long coat 
where his hand lay, and entwined their fingers. “Ah, 
we love him, thou and I,” she said. 

She felt his fingers embrace her own. He asked her 
quietly: “My daughter, is it bitter for thee when he 
crieth Dora ?” 

She answered him with that poor plea of hers. “Well, 
I am a woman,” she said. But after a little while she 
spoke again. “Yet I am glad to suffer so,” she told him. 
“Though he cries Dora, it is my hand that soothes him 
when he so cries. He sighs then, and is comforted. It 
is as if he wandered in pain, and wanted me, and finding 


3 8 3 

me was happy. Well, how should I ask more? Often 

— many years I have prayed he should one day be mine, 
my own. It is not to be. But now — for a little while 

— when he cries and when I comfort him, why, my 
prayer is vouchsafed me. Mine then — my own.” 


Aunt Maggie saw that wonderful influence Ima exer¬ 
cised over his delirium. When Japhra had carried him 
up to his bedroom, and when Ima was bringing “his 
things” from the van, he broke out in raving and in toss¬ 
ing of the arms that utterly alarmed her and Honor, 
their efforts of no avail. She called in panic for Ima. 
Ima’s touch and voice restored him to instant peace. 
“You must stay with me,” Aunt Maggie said, tears 
running down her face. “My dear, I beg you stay with 
me. You are Ima. I know you well. He has often 
spoken of you. Oh, you will stay?” 

Afterwards Aunt Maggie went down to thank Japhra 
for his agreement to this proposal, tie would put up 
his van with the Hannafords, he told Ima—with Stingo, 
who would shortly be coming, and with Mr. Hannaford 

— and would stay there, whence he might come daily 
for news while Ima remained with Percival. 

Aunt Maggie had grateful tears in her eyes when she 
thanked him. These, and those tears of panic when she 
called Ima’s aid, were the first she had shed since sud¬ 
denly the van had brought her Percival to her an hour 
before. Trembling but dry-eyed she had gone to him 
and seen his dangerous condition; shaking but tearless 
had made ready his bed. 

“Strange-like”? “Touched-like”? It was fate had 
ordered him back to her, she told herself. Almost upon 


3 8 4 


the eve — within four short months of the twenty-first 
birthday for which she had planned — he was brought 
back; and brought back, despite himself, by an agency 
stronger than his own strong spirit. Fate in that! — 
the same fate that by Audrey’s death-bed had assured 
her that nothing would fail her, and that by a hundred 
seeming chances had justified its assurance through the 

He was very ill. She was not afraid. Fate was here 
— and she told Japhra he would recover. 

She found him in the van, his pipe alight again and 
staring in a dullish way at the vacant places whence 
Percival’s belongings had been removed. He came down 
to her, and when she told him her belief he had a strange 
look and a long look into her eyes before he answered. 
He had marked the tearlessness that went curiously with 
her devotion when he had brought her to Percival; he 
marked now some strange appearance she had for him 
and some strange note in her voice when she told him 
“He will recover.” 

“Ay, mistress,” he said. “Have no fear. He will 

For her own part she marked also some strange look 
in the strangely strong eyes that regarded her. 

She asked “But why are you so confident?” 

He noticed the “But.” “Mistress, because his type 
is made for a bigger thing than he has yet met.” 

To that — meeting so strongly the truth she knew — 
she replied: “ Yes ! — yes ! ” 

At her tone he came a sudden step to her. “Mistress, 
is it in thy hands, this thing he must meet ?” 

She, by the influence of this meeting, stood caught up 
and dizzy by return to her in dreadful violence of that 
old fluttering within her brain. 



Japhra in stern and sudden voice: “Beware it!” 

He thought her eyes questioned him and he answered 
them: “Why have I from the first known some big 
thing waited him ? — it was somehow told me. Why 
beware ? — I am somehow warned.” 

She turned and began to go away. Come out of the 
fluttering, she could not at once recall what had passed 
between her and this little man. 

Japhra put a quick hand on her arm: “Mistress, 
beware lest thou betrayest him !” 

She remembered that. 




Ima’s nursing, as that doctor had said, brought Percival 
back from where he had been driven beyond the mark by 
stress of events and put him firmly afoot along the road 
of convalescence. Only one circumstance arose to distress 
those days of his returning strength — the news of 
Egbert Hunt. 

The assizes at Salisbury followed quick on the capture 
of the fugitive — run to earth in a wood by the Blue 
Boys and the tough boys and brought back like some 
wild creature trapped — soaked, soiled, bruised, faint, 
furious, terrified and struggling, for prompt committal 
by the magistrate. 

A newspaper reporter at the assizes wrote of him as 
having again that appearance of some wild creature 
trapped when he stood in the dock before the Judge. 
The case attracted considerable local interest. There 
was first the fact that famous Boss Maddox had narrowly 
escaped death at the prisoner’s hand: there was second 
the appearance of a noble lady of the county — Lady 
Burdon — as witness for the defence. 

Gossips who attended the trial said it was precious 
little good she did the fellow. His conviction was a 
foregone conclusion. A solicitor with an eye to pos¬ 
sibilities who attended Hunt during the police court 
proceedings learnt from him that he had been in Lady 
Burdon’s service from boyhood and (in his own phra&f*) 



promptly “touched her” to see if she would undertake 
the expenses of a defence. Her reply was in a form to 
send him pretty sharply about his business and (a man 
of some humour) he thanked her courteously by having 
her subpoeaned on the prisoner’s behalf — mitigation of 
sentence was tabe earned by her testimony to the young 
man’s irreproachable character during his long years in 
her service. 

It was little of such testimony she gave. Angry at the 
trick played on her (as she considered it), angry at 
being dragged into a case of sordid aspect and of local 
sensation, she went angrier yet into the witness-box for 
the scene made at her expense by the prisoner as she 
passed the dock. The newspaper reporter who described 
him as presenting the appearance of a wild animal 
trapped, wrote of him as having a wolfish air as he glared 
about him — of his jaws that worked ceaselessly, of his 
blinking eyelids, and of the perspiration that streamed 
like raindrops down his face. As Lady Burdon passed 
him the emotions of the public were thrilled to see his 
arms come suppliant over the dock rail and to hear him 
scream to her: “ Say a word for me, me lady ! Say a good 
word for me ! Love o’ God, say —” A warder’s rough 
hand jerked his cry out of utterance, and he listened 
to her during her evidence, watching her with that 
wolfish air of his and with those jaws ceaselessly at work. 

A cold ’un, the gossips said of her when she stepped 
down. The Judge in passing his stereotyped form of 
sentence made more seemly reference to her testimony. 

“The evidence,” the judge addressed the prisoner, 
“of your former employer — come here reluctantly but 
with the best will in the world (as she has told us) to 
befriend you — has only been able to show that you have 
exhibited from your boyhood upward the traits — 



sullenness of temper, hatred of authority — that have 
led you directly to the place where now you stand. It 
has been made very clear that this crime — only by 
the mercy of God prevented from taking a more serious 
form — was wilful, premeditated, of a sort into which your 
whole character shows you might have been expected to 
burst at almost any period of your maturer years. You 
will be sent away now where you will have leisure, as I 
sincerely trust, to reflect and to repent. . . . Five 
years. ... You will go to penal servitude for that 

Most wolfishly the wolfish eyes watched the judge 
while these words were spoken; quicker the working 
jaws moved, lower the poor form crouched as nearer the 
sentence came. As a vicious dog trembles and threatens 
in every hair at the stick upraised to strike, so, by every 
aspect of his mien, Egbert Hunt trembled and threatened 
as the ultimate words approached. “Penal servitude 
for that term” — as the dog yelps and springs so he 
screamed and sprung: a dreadful wordless scream, a 
savage spring against the dock, arms outflung. 

Warders closed about him; but he was at his full 
height, arms and wolfish face directed at Lady Burdon. 
“You done it on me !” he screamed. “You might ha’ 
saved me ! You — ! You — cruel — ! I’ll do it back 
on yer ! Wait till I’m out! I’ll come straight for yer, 
you an’ your — son ! I’ll do it on —” 

A warder’s hand came across his mouth. He bit 
through to the bone and had his head free before they 
could remove him. “I’ve never had a fair chance, 
not with you, you — Tyrangs ! — tyrangs all of yer ! — 
tyrangs! You’re the worst! God help yer when I 
come for yer! Tyrangs! . . . Tyrangs! ...” 

They carried him away. 



“Oh, five years ! — Five years !” Percival cried when 
he read the news. “Poor, poor old Hunt! Five years !” 

He was sitting comfortably propped in a big chair in 
the garden behind “ Post Offic,” Aunt Maggie and Ima 
with him, and his weakness could not restrain the 
moisture that came to his eyes. “Five years, Aunt 
Maggie ! He was one of my friends. I liked him — 
always liked him. He was always fond of me — jolly 
good to me. When I think of him with his vegules 
and his sick yedaches ! Five years — poor old Hunt!” 

He was very visibly distressed. “Everybody is fond 
of you, dear,” Aunt Maggie said sympathetically. 

“That’s just it!” he said — “that’s just it!” and 
he threw himself back in his chair and went into thoughts 
that were come upon him and that her words exactly 
suited: thoughts that were often his in the days of his 
sickness when he lay — was it waking or sleeping ? he 
never quite knew. They presented the cheery group 
of all his friends, all so jolly, jolly good to him. Himself 
in their midst and they all smiling at him and stretching 
jolly hands. But a gap in the circle — Mr. Amber’s 
place. Another gap now — Hunt. It appeared to him 
in those feverish hours — and now again with new reason 
and new force — that outside that jolly circle of friends 
there prowled, as a savage beast about a camp-fire, 
some dark and evil menace that reached cruel hands to 
snatch a member to itself and through the gap threatened 
him. Within the circle the happy, happy time; beyond 
it some other thing. Life was not always youth, then ? 
not always ardour of doing, fighting, laughing, loving? 
Menace lurked beyond. . . . What ? . . . 

But those thoughts were swept away, and fate of poor 



old Hunt that had caused them temporarily forgotten, 
by footsteps that brought up the path three figures, of 
whom two were colossal of girth and bright red of face — 
one striking at his thigh as if his hand held an imaginary 
stick — and one that walked behind them lean and 
brown, with rare bright eyes in a face of many little lines. 

“Why, Mr. Hannaford ! Mr. Hannaford !” Percival 
cried delightedly. “Stingo! Good old Japhra! — 
you’ve actually brought them !” 

They were actually brought; but in the alarming 
company of women folk — of Aunt Maggie, of Ima, and 
of Honor, who now, the visit having been expected, came 
out with a laden tea-table — the tremendous brothers 
exhibited themselves in a state of embarrassment that 
appeared to make it highly improbable that they would 
remain. First having shaken hands all round the circle, 
colliding heavily with one another before each, Mr. 
Hannaford declaring to each in turn “Warm — warm — 
bless my eighteen stun proper if it ain’t!” and Stingo 
repeating some husky throatings of identical sound but 
no articulation; they then shook hands with one another; 
then proceeded round the circle again; simultaneously 
appeared to discover their mistake; collided with shock¬ 
ing violence; and finally relapsed into enormous nose- 
blowings, trumpeting one against the other, as it seemed, 
into handkerchiefs of the size of small towels. 

It was to abate this tremendous clamour that Aunt 
Maggie handed a cup of tea to Mr. Hannaford, and it 
was without the remotest desire in the world to have it 
there that Mr. Hannaford in some extraordinary way 
found it on the side of his right hand and proceeded to 
go through an involved series of really admirable juggling 
feats with it, beginning with the cup and saucer and 
ending with the spoon alone, that came to a grand finale 



in cup, saucer and spoon shooting separately and at 
tolerable intervals in three different and considerable 
directions. It was to cover the amazement of the 
tremendous brothers at this extraordinary incident 
that Ima handed a piece of cake to Stingo, and it was 
the fact that Stingo had no sooner conveyed it to his 
mouth than he abandoned himself to a paroxysm of 
choking and for his relief was followed about the gar¬ 
den by Mr. Hannaford with positively stunning blows 
on the back that sent Percival at last from agonies of 
hopeless giggling to peals of laughter which established 
every one at their ease. 

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” from Percival. “I’m 
awfully sorry — I can’t help it. Oh, Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! 
Ha! Ha!” 

Impossible to resist it: “Ho ! Ho ! Ho ! Ho ! Ho !” 
thundered Mr. Hannaford. 

“Oh, Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha !” shook Percival, roll¬ 
ing on his pillows. 

“He! He! He! He! He!” came Stingo, in¬ 
fection of mirth vanquishing the contrariness of the 

“Proper good joke !” bellowed Mr. Hannaford, not at 
all sure what the joke was, but carried away by Percival’s 
ringing mirth. “Proper good joke! Ho! Ho! Ho! 
Ho ! Ho !” ; and was chorused in gentler key by Japhra 
-— for once — by Aunt Maggie and by Ima. 

“He! He! He! He! He! Looks as well as ever 
he did !” choked Stingo, catching his brother’s eye and 
nodding towards the invalid’s chair; and that as master¬ 
fully turned the laughter to practical use as the laughter 
itself had turned dreadful embarrassment into universal 
joviality. It was the chance for Mr. Hannaford to cry 
delightedly: “Why, that’s just what I was athinking, 



bless my eighteen stun proper if it isn’t!” the chance for 
the tremendous brothers to overwhelm Percival with the 
affection and the joy at his recovery with which they had 
come bursting; the beginning of highest good fellowship 
all round, of stupendous teas on the part of the tremen¬ 
dous brothers, and at last of explanation of the real 
project they had made this visit in order to discharge. 

It took a very long time in the telling. On the part of 
Stingo there was first a detailed account (punctuated 
by much affectionately fraternal handshaking) of how 
he positively had settled down at last — sold out of the 
show trade after and on account of the events in which 
Percival and Japhra had shared, and henceforward 
was devoting his entire energies to the cultivation of the 
little ’orse farm. There was then from Mr. Hannaford, 
helped by a ledger that could have been carried in no 
pocket but his, a description of the flourishing state at 
which the little ’orse farm had arrived — “Orders for 
gentlefolks’ little carts’ little ’orses apourin’ in quicker’n 
ever we can apour ’em out” — and in which it was 
monthly advancing more and more; and there was finally 
a prolonged discussion in fierce whispers between the 
brothers, interspersed with loud “Don’t forget that’s” 
and “Recollect for to tell him this’s.” 

Then Mr. Hannaford turned to Percival, struck his 
thigh a terrible crack with his ledger, and in a very de¬ 
manding tone said, “Well, now !” 

“Well, I’m awfully — awfully glad,” said Percival. 
“It’s splendid — splendid. By Jove, it really is a big 
thing. But what ? — but what — ? ” 

“What of it is,” said Mr. Hannaford very solemnly, 
“that what we want and the errand for what we’ve 
come is — we want you ! ” He turned to Stingo : “Now 
your bit.” 



“What of it is,” responded Stingo with the huskiness 
of a lesson learnt by heart and to be repeated very care¬ 
fully— “What of it is, he’s wanted you, told me so, 
ever since you come over long ago with his late lordship 
and showed what a regular little pocket marvel you was, 
but didn’t like for to have you until I’d settled down and 
taken my proper place and given my consent — which 
I have done and which I do, never having set eyes on 
your like and never wanting to. Now your bit.” 

“What of it is,” said Mr. Hannaford, bringing himself 
to the point of these remarkable proceedings with a 
thigh-and-ledger-thump of astounding violence — “what 
of it is, we’re Rough ’Uns, Stingo an’ me. All right to be 
Rough ’Uns when it’s only little circus ’orses and circus 
folk you’re dealing with — no good being Rough ’Uns 
when it’s gentlefolks’ little carts’ little ’orses, gentlefolks’ 
little riding little ’orses, and gentlefolks’ little polo little 
’orses. Want a gentleman for to deal with the gentlefolk 
and a gentleman for to break and ride and show for the 
gentlefolk. Want you — an’ always have wanted you, 
bless my eighteen stun proper if we ain’t.” (Thump !) 

Percival was white and then red as the meaning of all 
the mysterious conduct of the tremendous brothers’ 
errand was thus made clear to him — white and then 
red and with moisture of weakness in his eyes: why was 
everybody so jolly, jolly good to him ? 

“Why, Mr. Hannaford — Stingo —” he began. 

But the tremendous brothers raised simultaneous 
shoulder-of-mutton fists to stop him, and fell into hurried 
preparations for departure. It was disappointment 
they feared. “Don’t speak hasty!” Mr. Hannaford 
thundered. “Think over it — don’t say a word — keep 
the ledger — proper good business in it — pay you what 
you like — make you a partner in it — set you up for 



life properly to rights.” He wrung Aunt Maggie’s 
hand. “Say a word for us, Mam ! loved him more’n a 
son ever since—”; in great emotion backed down the 
path taking Japhra with him; and in tremendous ex¬ 
citement returned to wring the hand of Stingo who, 
after opening and shutting his mouth several times 
without sound, at length produced: “Set you up for 
life f properly to rights — more’n that, too. You’re 
young. We’re bound to pop off one day. No one to 
leave nothing to. Rough ’Uns. You’re young. Bound 
to go to you in the end. Rough ’Uns —” 

“O’ course! O’ course! O’ course!” joined Mr. 
Hannaford, wringing Stingo’s hand in ecstasy and wring¬ 
ing it still as he led him down the path. “O’ course ! 
That was a good bit. Never thought of it. Bound to 
pop off ! Bound to go to him !” 


“Tears in your eyes, Percival,” Ima said, smiling 
at him as immense trumpetings at the gate announced 
the Rough ’Uns’ departure in a din of emotional nose¬ 

“Well, dash it all, there always are, nowadays,” Per¬ 
cival laughed. “Everybody’s so jolly, jolly good to 

He lay back with new and most wonderful visions 
before his eyes; set his gaze on the dear, familiar line 
of distant Plowman’s Ridge and peopled it with the 
scenes of his new and wonderful prospects. His hand 
in his pocket closed about letters received from Dora 
between that night at Baxter’s and the night of the fight. 
Black and impossible his outlook then; limitless of 
opportunity now. Set up for life properly to rights ! by 



a miracle, nay, by a chain of tricks and chances — and 
he ran through the amazing sequence of them — he 
suddenly was that! Dora no longer immeasurably 
beyond him; Snow-White-and-Rose-Red possible to 
be claimed. 

Aunt Maggie broke into his thoughts. “Are you 
glad, dear — about the Hannafords ?” 

“ Glad ! Aunt Maggie, I was just thinking I seem to be 
a sort of — sort of thing for other people’s plans. Old 
Japhra planned a fighter of me and, my goodness ! I had 
a dose of it. Here’s old Hannaford always been planning 
to have me with him, and here I am going sure enough ! ” 
He laughed at an almost forgotten recollection. “Why, 
even you — even you had a wonderful plan for me. 
Don’t you remember ? I say, it’s in hot company, your 
plan, Aunt Maggie. All come out right except yours. 
You’ll have to hurry up !” 

“Mine will come out right,” she said. 




“Mine will come out right.” But Percival’s twenty- 
first birthday, that was to have seen the consummation 
of Aunt Maggie’s plan, came—and Aunt Maggie held 
her hand and let it go. 

A double reason commanded her. Percival’s coming 
of age arrived with the Old Manor closed and Rollo and 
his mother far afield on that two years’ travel which 
Lady Burdon had long before projected for her son 
to introduce his “settling-down.” It were an empty 
revenge, Aunt Maggie thought, that could be taken in 
such case; robbed of its sting, sapped of all its meaning, 
unless it were delivered to Lady Burdon face to face, as 
face to face with Audrey she had struck Audrey down. 

That was one reason that found Percival’s twenty- 
first birthday gone, and still the blow not struck. The 
other was in tribute to the fate that had carried forward 
Aunt Maggie’s plan through many hilly places and that, 
fatalistic, she dared not hasten when the promised land 
drew into sight. When she heard during the three 
months of Percival’s zestful life on the little horse farm 
leading to his birthday that Rollo, before that birthday 
dawned, would be shipped and away on his leisurely 
journey round the world, she was at first strongly 
tempted to make end of her long waiting; at last to 
Audrey’s murderer send Audrey’s son. Her super- 



stitious reliance on fate prevented her. With fate she 
had worked hand in hand through these long years. 
Vengeance had been nothing had she taken it at the 
outset when Audrey lay cold and still in the room in the 
Holloway Road. Under fate’s guidance it was become a 
vengeance now indeed — Lady Burdon twenty years 
secured in her comfortable possessions; her husband by 
fate removed, and the blow to be struck through her 
cherished son; a friendship by fate designed suddenly 
to turn against her and drive her forth as she had driven 
Audrey. Fate in it all, in each moment and each measure 
of it, and Aunt Maggie had the fear that now to dismiss 
fate and anticipate the hour that she and fate had chosen 
would be to risk by fate’s aid being dismissed. 

Fate gave her hint of it — gave her warning. She 
was in one moment being told by Percival of Rollo’s in¬ 
tended departure and long absence; and seeing herself 
robbed, her plan for his twenty-first birthday defeated, 
was urging herself with “Now — now. No need to 
wait longer — now;” she was in the next hearing Per- 
cival’s desolation at the thought of losing “old Rollo” 
for so long — of their plans for closest companionship 
during the few weeks that remained to them; and 
hearing it, was warned by the same question she once 
before had asked herself and dared not finish, much less 
answer then, and dared not finish now: “What, when 
I tell him, if —” 

Fate in it. Fate warning her, Aunt Maggie thought. 
Fate threatening her. Fate had been so real, so living a 
thing to her, its hand so plain a hundred times, that she 
had come to envisage it as a personality, an actuality 
— a grim and stern and all-powerful companion who 
companioned her on her way and who now stooped to 
her ear and told her : “ Go your own way — if you dare. 



Seek to take your revenge now without my aid and short 
of the time that you and I have planned — if you dare. 
Abandon me and tell him now.” Then the threat: 
“ What, when you tell him, if —” 

“ Strange-like ” ? “ Touched-like ” ? Thus, at least, 

she held her hand, paying tribute to fate; thus when the 
birthday came, and Rollo and Lady Burdon across the 
sea, and empty her vengeance made to seem if she then 
took it, she turned to fate and asked of fate “What 
now ?” 

“Strange-like”? “Touched-like”? Again to her ear 
that strong companion stooped — not threatening now; 
encouraging, supporting. . . . 

“Why, Aunt Maggie,” Percival cried, “you do look 
well —fit, this morning. Fifty times as bright as you’ve 
been looking these past days. Younger, I swear !” 

“Well, it is your birthday, dearest,” she told him. 

“All very well! But every time we’ve mentioned my 
birthday, my twenty-first — even last night — you’ve 
been — I’ve thought it has made you sad, as if you didn’t 
want me to have it! — growing too old, or something !” 

For answer she only shook her head and smiled at him. 
But her reason for the stronger air he noticed in her, for 
her rescue from her depression of the days that led to 
his birthday, was that to her question of “What now?” 
she was somehow assured that she had but to wait, but 
to have a little more patience, and her opportunity would 
come. Fate was shaping it for her; fate in due time 
would present it. . . . 


Percival for his own part was also in some dealing 
with fate in these days. As one that is forever feasting 
his eyes on a prized and newly won possession, the more 



fully to realise it and enjoy it, so frequently in these days 
he was telling himself “Em the happiest and luckiest 
beggar in the world !” and was marvelling at the train of 
tricks and chances by which fate — luck as he called it 

— had brought him to this happy, lucky period. 

Every human life falls into periods reckoned and 

divided not by years but by events. Sometimes these 
events are recognised as milestones immediately they 
fall; a death, a birth, a marriage, a new employment, a 
journey, a sickness — we know at once that a new phase 
is begun, we take a new lease of interest in life; not 
necessarily a better or a brighter lease, a worse, maybe — 
but new and recognised as different. More frequently 
the milestone is not perceived as such until we look back 
along the road, see the event clearly upstanding and 
realise that we were one man as we approached it and 
have become another since we left it behind; again not 
necessarily a better or a happier man — a worse, maybe; 
and maybe one that often cries with outstretched arms 
to resume again that former figure. It cannot be. Life 
goes forward, and we, once started, like draughtsmen on a 
board, may not move back. Beside each event that 
marks a milestone we leave a self as the serpent sheds a 
skin — all dead; some better dead; some we would 
give all, all to bring again to life. It may not be. 

Percival in these happy, happy months as right-hand 
man to the Rough ’Uns on the famously prospering 
little horse farm often told himself that his life had been 

— as he expressed it — in three absolutely different 
periods. He found a wonderful pleasure in dividing them 
off and reviewing them. Daily, and often more than 
once in a day, when he had a pony out at exercise, he 
would pull up on the summit of rising ground and release 
his thoughts to wander over those periods as his eyes 



reviewed from point to point the landscape stretched 
beneath him; his mind aglow with what it tasted just as 
his body glowed from his exercise of schooling the pony 
in the saddle. Three periods, as he would tell himself. 
The first had ended with that night when he came to 
Dora in the drive. Everything was different after 
that. Then all his life with Japhra and with Ima in 
the van — the tough, hard, good life that ended with 
the fight. The third — he now was in the third! 
Two had been lived and left, and in review had for their 
chief burthen the picture of how, as he had said during 
his convalescence, every one had been so jolly, jolly good 
to him. Two had been lived and had shaped him — “a 
sort of thing for other people’s plans”; and what kind 
plans ! and what dear planners ! and he, of their fond¬ 
ness, how happy a thing ! — to this third period that 
sung to him in every hour and that went mistily into 
the future whose mists were rosy, rosy, rose-red and 
snow-white, Snow-White-and-Rose-Red. . . . 


In the first few months, before Rollo and Lady Burdon 
took their departure for the two years’ travel, he was 
daily, in the intervals from his work, with “old Rollo”; 
Dora often with them. Nothing would satisfy Rollo 
for the few weeks that lay between Percival’s beginning 
of his duties with the Hannafords and his own start for 
the foreign tour but that they must be spent at Burdon 
Old Manor, nothing would please him to fill in those days 
but to pass them in Percival’s company. He made no 
concealment of his affection for his friend. Men not 
commonly declare to one another the liking or the deeper 
feeling they may mutually entertain. The habit belongs 


to women, and that it was indulged by Rollo was mark 
in him of the woman element that is to be observed in 
some men. It is altogether a different quality from 
effeminacy, this woman element. Sex is a chemical 
compound, as one might say, and often are to be met 
men on the one hand and women on the other in whom 
one might believe the male or female form that has 
precipitated came very nearly on the opposite side of the 
division — women who are attracted by women and 
to whom women are attracted; and men, manly enough 
but curiously unmannish, who are noticeably sensible 
to strongly male qualities and who arouse something of a 
brotherly affection in men in whom the male attributes 
ring sharp and clear as a touch on true bell. 

There were thrown together in Rollo and Percival 
very notable examples of these hazards in nature’s 
crucibles. The complete and most successful male was 
precipitated in him of whom Japhra had said long days 
before: “I know the fighting type. Mark me when the 
years come. A fighter thou.” Qualities of woman were 
alloyed in him who once had cried: “Men don’t talk 
about these things, Percival, so I’ve never told you all 
you are to me — but it’s a fact that I’m never really 
happy except when I’m with you.” Strongly their 
natures therefore cleaved, devotedly and with a clinging 
fondness on the weaker part; on the bolder, protectively 
and with the tenderness that comes responsive from 
knowledge of the other’s dependence. 

“Men don’t talk about these things — but I’m never 
really happy except when I’m with you.” That diffi¬ 
dence at sentiment and that self-exposure despite it, 
made when Percival, off to join Japhra, seemed to be 
passing out of his life, were repeated fondly and many 
times by Rollo now that Percival looked to be back in his 



life again. “Hearing me talk like this,” he told Percival, 
“it makes you rather squirm, I expect — the sort of 
chap you are. But I can’t help it and I don’t care,” and 
he laughed — “the sort of chap I am. You don’t know 
— you can’t come near guessing, old man, what it means 
to me to think you’ve chucked all that mad gipsy life of 
yours that might have ended in anything, the rummy 
thing it was, and that kept you utterly away from me; 
to think you’ve chucked all that and are settled down 
in a business that really is a good thing, every one says it 

is, and any one can see it. It means to me — well, I 
can’t tell you what, you’d only laugh. But I can tell 
you this much, that I do nothing but think, and all the 
time I’m away shall be thinking, of how we’ll both be 
down here always now when I get back, and of all the 
things we’ll do together.” 

They were riding as he spoke, their horses at a walk 
up the steady climb of the down to Plowman’s Ridge 
from Market Roding. His voice on his last sentence 
had taken an eager, impulsive note, and as though he 
had a sudden suspicion that it was betraying an undue 
degree of sentiment he stopped abruptly, his face a 
trifle red. It was his confusion, not any excess of senti¬ 
ment, that Percival — quick as of old in sympathy with 
another’s feelings — noticed. He edged his horse nearer 
Rollo’s and touched Rollo with his whip. “Yes, we’re 
going to have a great, great time, aren’t we?” he said. 
“I’m only just beginning to realise it — great, Rollo !” 

The affectionate touch and the responsive words 
caused Rollo to turn to him as abruptly as he had broken 
off. “I’ve planned it,” Rollo said. “I’m forever planning 

it. When I get back — fit — I’m going to settle down 
here for good. I loathe all that, you know,” and he 
jerked his head vaguely to where “all that” might lie, 



and said, “London and that kind of thing. I’m going to 
take up things here. I’ve never had any interests so 
far. My rotten health, partly, and partly not getting 
on with people, and I’ve let everything drift along and 
let mother make all the programmes. That’s how it’s 
been ever since you went off. Now you’re back again 
and I’m keen as anything. I’m going to work up all 
this property, going to get to know all the people inti¬ 
mately and help them with all sorts of schemes. Going to 
run my own show — you know what I mean, no agent 
or any one between me and the tenants and the land. 
And you’re going to help me — that’s the germ of it and 
the secret of it and the beginning and the end of it.” 

Percival laughed and said: “Help you! You won’t 
want any help from me. I can see myself touching-my- 
hat-to-the-squire sort of thing as you go hustling about 
the country-side.” 

But Rollo was too serious for banter. “You know 
what I mean,” he said. “ And you — you’re going to be 
a big man in these parts, as they say, the way you’re 
going, before very long.” 

They had gained the Ridge and by common consent 
of their horses were halted on the summit. Rollo turned 
in his saddle and pointed below them. “Percival, 
that’s what I mean,” he said, and carried his whip from 
end to end along the Burdon hamlets. “That’s what I 
think of. Look how peaceful and remote it all looks, shut 
away from everything by the Ridge. We two together 
down there, planning and doing and living —” 

Percival’s gaze had travelled on from Burdon Old 
Manor where the whip had taken it and over the Ridge 
into the eastward vale. He turned again to Rollo, 
recalled by the stopping of his voice; and Rollo saw his 
strong face bright and said : “You’ll think me a frightful 



ass, you’ll think me a girl, but you know I get quite 
‘tingly’ when I anticipate it all. And not want your 
help! — Why, only look at that for instance,” and he 
laughed and put his hand against Percival’s where it lay 
before his saddle. The delicate white, the veins showing, 
against the strong brown fist was illustration enough of 
his meaning. “ And you’re not long out of an illness that 
would have outed me in two days,” he said. 

He saw the bright look he had observed shade, as it 
were, to one very earnest. The symbol of their two 
hands so strongly different quickened in Percival the 
appeal that he always felt in Rollo’s company, that went 
back to the early years of their play together, that was 
vital part of this happy, lucky period, and that was 
warmed again in the thoughts that came to him as he had 
looked over the eastward valley. “ Why, Rollo,” he said 
earnestly, “it is good to think of. It is going to be 
good. We two down there. It’s wonderful to me how 
it’s all come out. It makes me ‘tingly,’ too, when I think 
of it — and of what it’s going to be. Help you — why, 
we two — ” He pressed the brown fist about the delicate 
hand. “There! — just like this good old Plowman’s 
Ridge that shuts us off from everybody! Nothing 
comes past that to interfere with us.” 

They were a moment silent, each in his different way 
occupied by this close exchange of their friendship; and 
Rollo’s way made him almost at once put his horse 
about, concerned lest his face should betray his feelings, 
and made him say with an attempt at lightness: “No, 
nothing, with the good old Ridge to shut us off,” and 
then, “Is that some one riding up from Upabbot?” 

The direction was that where Percival’s gaze had been. 
“Yes, it is,” Percival said. “I thought so. She’s 
coming up. T t’s Dora.” 




Often in these weeks the three rode together; seldom 
Percival and Dora met out of Rollo’s company. Brief 
moments while they waited him, brief moments when 
he rode ahead of them, these were the most frequent 
of their intimacies; more rarely came chance half-hours, 
and most rare of all half-hours planned when she admitted 
they could be contrived. He suffered nothing that 
their meetings should be thus fugitive and at caprice, in 
main, of Rollo’s moods and movements. That none as 
yet should know their secret ministered to rather than 
chafed his ardour; that, when their eyes met, their eyes 
spoke what in all the world only they two knew, was of 
itself as darling a thing as when to all the world she 
should be known for his alone. Then she would be his 
own, but their secret the price of it; now he might not 
claim her, but ah, their secret, theirs ! 

So secret it was, and she so much her rare and chaste 
and frozen self, that even between them it was hardly 
spoken. He never had lost his first awe and wonder at 
her beauty; and it filmed all his intercourse with her 
and all his thoughts of her as with a gossamer veil that, 
forbidding rough movements, forbade him touch her 
with the close words of his passion that might bruise 
her or give her alarm. More by signs than ever by 




words they spoke their secret. Words carried them over 
the passing subjects that any might discuss; signs re¬ 
vealed the secret that was theirs alone. When they 
met the faintest deepening of her colour shades would 
show it, when they parted came a last glance and again 
those shades would glow; when he sometimes touched 
her hand, her hand would stay and speak it; when he 
sometimes held her eyes, ah, then their secret stirred ! 
In those few half-hours when alone they came together, 
meeting near the Abbey, riding through the lanes, then 
with none to see them he would hold her hand and feel 
it tell him of their secret while their lips told empty 

It was in these weeks, indeed, that he came to know he 
found it a little hard to make conversation with her. 
That something of her character was manifested in 
this difficulty he had no suspicion, nor that in his 
solution of it her disposition was clearer yet revealed. 
He found she was not greatly interested to hear of him¬ 
self ; then found her most alert, and oftenest brought 
the little laugh he loved to hear, the deepening he 
loved to see of those strange shades of colour on her 
cheeks, by speaking to her of herself, or listening while 
of herself she told him. At first he gave her glimpses of 
the van life with Japhra on the road; her curiosity was 
not aroused. Something of the famous fight he told 
her, and in vigorous passages of when the sticks came out, 
and of the wild scenes that followed the crime of poor 
old Hunt, whom she had known: he saw she was not 
greatly entertained. Later, as events ran along, he 
gave them to her — told her of the day when it was found 
that his increasing activities with the dear old Rough 
’Uns made it necessary he should live over there, no 
longer ride daily to and fro from “Post Offic,” and of 



how jolly, jolly good they were to him and of the funny 
evenings in their company; told her of the day when the 
Rough ’Uns had announced they thought it proper to 
advancement of their business that a couple of hunters 
should be bought for him so that he might ride to hounds 
and keep among the horsey folk when the hunting 
season opened; told her of the day when he had from 
Aunt Maggie the news that the affection between herself 
and Ima had arranged that Ima was coming to spend 
the approaching winter — and likely every winter — 
with her; all these he brought to Dora, but slowly came 
to see they but little took her interest. 

The discovery no more gave him suspicion that she 
was at fault in sympathy than of itself it vexed him, as 
one commonly might be vexed in such a case. It was 
himself he blamed when, recalling how he had talked 
and how little had been her response, he feared that he 
had tired her by his enthusiasms or, as reproaching him¬ 
self he termed them, his meanderings. Clumsy he called 
himself, inept, dull-witted; and pictured her, his darling 
and his goddess, his frozen, rarest, perfect Snow-White- 
and-Rose-Red, and hated to have blundered all his 
dulness on so rare and exquisite a thing. Glad, then, 
the finding that he could entertain her by exercise of 
what a thousand-fold entranced himself — by en¬ 
couraging her to speak of herself, her doings, her reflec¬ 
tions, just as in the drive in that hour when first he knew 
he loved her she had spoken of her school. Lightest 
and most prattling what she told, and light and very 
passing what she thought; but spoken in her quaintly 
precise mode of speech and in her cold, high tone, and 
bringing from her, her cold little laugh, and on her cold 
white cheek lighting those flames of colour. When he 
watched her with others he saw her perfect face set in its 



strangely still, aloof expression; when she spoke with 
him, and spoke of herself, he was content only to listen 
so he might see it light and sometimes see their secret 
make it flame. 

More than once while she so spoke and he so listened, 
“But I told you that / 5 she would say; “I perfectly 
recollect telling you . 55 

And he: “Well, tell me again ; 55 and at the note of 
his voice she would seem to catch her breath as though 
some sharpness checked her breathing, and he would 
see their secret flutter in her eyes and see it stain its 
signal like a red rose on her cheeks. 


It was by one definite step — not observed as such by 
him at the time nor any significance in it apprehended — 
that they passed from this stage of reserve on the matter 
between them and came towards its open entertainment. 
The afternoon following Rollo’s departure with Lady 
Burdon on the long foreign tour marked the event, and 
Percival, meeting Dora by chance, was in some loss of 
spirits at the fact. He found her in very different case. 
Her mood was high. She had the air of one who has 
made a success or who has escaped some shadowing 
mischief. He could suppose no cause for such a thing or 
he would have said her bearing signified relief, removal 
of some oppression, freedom from some weight that had 
burdened her mind and that now, displaced, suffered 
her mind to run up, made her tread lighter. 

“There’s something different about you to-day , 55 he 
told her; then, while she laughed, and while he caught 
more glee than commonly he knew in the little sound 
he loved to hear, found the exact expression for the change 



he saw, and named the new step in their relations —• 
“You are as if you’d suddenly got a holiday.” 

“Well, it is true that I somehow feel like that,” she 
declared, “though why I should, I am sure I cannot 

Yet dimly she knew, dimly in these later days had felt 
closing about her the purpose of her training, and when 
Percival spoke of the two years — the “frightfully long 
time” — for which old Rollo was gone, knew it half 
unknowingly for the period of her holiday. Another, 
more freely schooled than she, had known it clearly, 
had questioned, revolved, examined the sudden lightness 
that was hers, had realised it came of freedom from 
constant reminder of an end that seemed to wait her, 
and had inquired of herself, Why then glad ? — Is that 
end unwelcome ? 

It was not hers so to examine; or examining, so to 
realise; or realising, so to ask; nor asking, and being 
answered “Yes, unwelcome,” to think to make resistance 
and crush the end before it came. Not hers whose 
schooling in her mother’s hands had made for and had 
won the stifling of such processes of thought; not hers 
who was caparisoned and trained for certain purpose; 
not hers who had responded in faultless beauty and in 
cloistered mind. Hers, if she stretched her hands and 
on a sudden found that purpose walled about her, only 
to follow on between the walls, not to break through 
them; to glance at them or run them with her fingers 
and see them silk and proper to her life, not beat against 
them, find them steel behind the silk, cry “Trapped! 
Trapped!” and wildly beat for outlet. Hers, if she 
raised her eyes and saw her purposed end far down the 
narrow way, only to accept and move towards it, not to 
halt, doubt, fear; hers to glance, and know, and think it 

4 io 


meet and proper to her life, not start and shrink, cry 
“No! No! No!” and seek escape while yet escape 
might be. 

So she was circumstanced; yet there remains, be 
restraint never so firmly chilled into the bones, the purely 
primeval instinct of delight in freedom; so she was 
trained, but scarcely yet had recognised purpose, walls, or 
end. She only, as she told Percival, “somehow felt ” that 
she had holiday, and holiday her mood in the months 
that went. Why she felt so, she was sure, as she said, 
she could not imagine; but as the butterfly, content 
to live among the flowers of a hothouse and never know 
itself prisoner, will airily toss aloft through the open 
door yet scarcely think itself escaped, so, content to have 
remained, but gaily floating free, blithe and new her 
mood when now they met. Less frequent their meetings, 
the common excuse of Rollo being denied, but ah, more 
fond ! Fewer their secret exchanges, but ah, more dear ! 
Holiday her mood, and fluttering she came to him, and 
was swinging in his ardour from her prison to his heart; 
from his heart to her prison, swinging in his ardour, and 
had no more than glimpses — transient tremors — of 
her prison’s walls. 


He had her engaged in such a glimpse — a little fear¬ 
fully suspicious that there were walls about her — on a 
day when they were hunting together. Mrs. Espart 
changed her earlier intention of returning to town in 
the Autumn after Rollo and his mother had left. To 
encourage her position in the country-side formed part of 
her own share of the plans for the young people that were 
to crystallise when the return was made to Burdon Old 
Manor, and she began to centre Abbey Royal in the social 



round of the neighbourhood. Her daughter’s betrothal 
to Lord Bur don, when it was done and announced, should 
thus, as she schemed, lose nothing that was possible 
to the stir it would make. She was able to use the local 
Hunt as a prominent part of these intentions, did not 
ride herself, but horsed Dora well, subscribed handsomely 
and was gladly taken up by the Master in her suggestion 
of a bi-monthly meet at the Abbey. 

Thus it was after hounds that Percival and Dora were 
given best chance to meet. The Rough ’Uns’ idea of 
mounting Percival for the field proved successful to 
them as happy to him; Dora, in pursuance of her 
mother’s plans, had encouragement — and wanted none 
— rarely to miss a meet. Hounds had run far on that 
day when she was caught by Percival engaged in one of 
those transient glimpses of her state that sometimes in 
these days came to puzzle her. He threw her into it, 
and that at a moment most unlikely, for circumstances 
had it that she was uncomfortable and out of temper. 
A bold fox carried the few who could follow him — 
they two among them — to a point fifteen miles from 
the Abbey before hounds ran into him. It was late 
afternoon, rain falling, when Percival and Dora started 
to hack the long stretch home, and they were little ad¬ 
vanced on the road, and she feeling the wet, when she 
pronounced her feelings by telling him petulantly: “ You 
should not have made me come on. I would have 
turned back long ago.” 

But it had been a rare run, and he was beneath the 
vigour of it. “Come, it was a great run,” he said. “It 
was worth it, Dora.” 

“Nothing is worth getting wet like this. You know 
how I hate getting wet.” 

She was much wetter, and would give him no words, 



before a new trial necessitated that she should speak 
again. Her saddle was slipping, she said, and when he 
alighted and found the girths had loosened and then 
that she must get down: “No, I’ll try it a little farther/’ 
she told him very vexedly. ‘ 1 We’re nearly there now. To 
move is hateful. The wet is touching me right through.” 

She gave him no answer to his “I’m awfully sorry, 
Dora;” but presently said: “It’s no good, I must get 
down, I suppose.” 

He looked up at her as he stood to help her from the 

“You’re angry, Dora?” 

“Well, of course I am angry.” 

He acted upon an impulse that swept out her temper 
and put her to that transient glimpse that vaguely 
showed her vague misgivings. He had watched her as 
they rode in silence, watched the rain that swept against 
her face run down her face that was like marble in her 
chill and in her loss of temper. Cold as it her eyes that 
met his now, and he had a sudden impression of her — 
all marble, all frozen snow, his darling ! — that seemed 
to embody all his every thought of her frozen beauty and 
frozen quality since first he knew her, and that taxed 
beyond his power the restraint that frozen quality ever 
had set upon him. Beyond his power ! — and as he 
brought her down he not released her, almost roughly 
turned her to him; and with no word almost roughly 
clasped her to him; and with “Dora !” kissed her wet 
face and held her while startled she protested; and kissed 
again, again, again, again. 

“No, I will not let you go ! No, you have been cold to 
me ! No, you shall not go ! I have never kissed you 
since that once I kissed you. I will kiss you now. No, 
I will not let you go. I love you, love you, love you ! ” 


4 i 3 

She bent her face away. He felt her panting in his 
arms and pressed her to him; and with his hands could 
feel how wet she was, and with his body felt her warm 
against him through her soaking clothes; and passion 
of love broke from him in words, as passion of love he 
pressed upon her face. 

“Turn your face to me, Dora. You shall. I have 
endured enough. Turn your face to me — your wet, 
cold, sweet face that I love. Give me your lips. Give 
me your lips. I will kiss your lips and you shall kiss me. 
Put your arms round me. Dora, put your arms round 
me. Now kiss me, kiss me — Ah ! I love you, I love 
you — my darling, my beautiful, my Snow-White-and- 
Rose-Red. Keep your arms there, Dora, Dora, my 
Dora !” 

His voice had run hoarse and broken in his passion; 
now, when obedient she gave him her lips, obedient 
clung to him — her will, her physical discomfort and 
her natural impassivity burnt up as in a flame by this 
sudden assault — deep his voice went and strong: — 

“That is all done now — all those days when I have 
been afraid to touch my darling, afraid to tell her every 
hour, every moment, how I love her for fear of frightening 
her. You are in my arms, my darling, and I can feel 
my darling’s heart, and those days can never come again. 
You shall remember when you see me how I have held 
you here. You shall remember how you lie in my arms 
and that they hold you strongly, strongly, and that it is 
your safe, safe place. Look up at me ! Ah, ah, how 
beautiful you are — your eyes, your lips, your cold, 
sweet face with the rain all wet on it. Kiss me ! Ah, 
Dora — we were meant to meet, meant to love.” 

She answered him more by the abandonment with 
which she lay in his arms than by the faltering sentences 



in which she sometimes whispered while they stood there. 
She was whispering, “I never meant you should think I 
was afraid. Percival, I never meant you should think 
I did not want to speak about our love. Only —” when 
she shivered violently, and he chid himself for keeping her 
there, and for warmth’s sake, he leading the horses, they 
walked the last mile to the Abbey. Ardently then he 
talked to her of future plans. He told her that late in 
the next year it was arranged he was to go out to the 
Argentine with some ponies. A big business was like 
to be established there, arising out of a sale to a South 
American syndicate, and he was to arrange it and to 
select and bring back ponies of a native strain for the 
development of a likely type. When he returned — 
‘'This is why I am telling you, darling,” — the good old 
Rough ’Uns had declared he should formally be made 
partner in what had now become a great enterprise. 
“I shall claim you then, my darling. I shall be able to 
claim you then.” 

She surprised him — and, not aware of her reason, 
thrilled him — by halting suddenly and clasping his 
hands that had been holding hers. “Oh, don’t leave 
me, Percival! Percival, don’t go away !” 

He kissed her adoringly. “Do you love me so ?” 

She clung to him and only said: “Don’t leave me, 
Percival. Percival, you must not,” and while he sought 
to soothe her plea — and still was thrilled to hear it — 
suddenly went into a tempest of weeping, changing his 
tender happiness to tenderest concern. 

“Dora ! Why, what is it? What is it, my darling? 
Tell me, tell me — ah, don’t, don’t cry, don’t tremble 
like that.” a * rvr.- 

She had not controlled herself to answer him when 
sound of wheels came down the road, lamps through the 


4 i 5 

gloom. She checked herself, and was at her horse’s head 
when there drew up a carriage sent from the Abbey to 
meet her and bring her back in shelter from the rain. A 
groom took her horse and, standing by the door as she 
entered, prevented explanation she might have made — 
had she been able to explain. 


Had she been able — for the thing that caused her 
sudden tears and sudden plea was no more than a glimpse, 
one of those transient glimpses of the walls, of the 
purpose, of the end of her training; differing from 
other glimpses that sometimes came in that it caught 
her unstrung. If it flickered again in the weeks that 
followed, it little more disturbed her than sudden shadow 
across the garden disturbs the butterfly passing among 
the flowers; a flicker of misgiving, a vague disturbance — 
gone. The year’s end took her away with her mother to 
town. Succeeding Autumn that brought them back 
started Percival to the Argentine. 

“I just miss everybody by going by this boat,” he 
told Aunt Maggie, sitting with her far into the night 
before his departure. “ There’s Ima coming to you to 
look after you till I get back and not coming till next 
week, so I just miss her; and old Japhra bringing her, so 
I miss seeing him too; and then” —he paused for the 
briefest moment — “ there’s Dora and her mother 
staying another fortnight abroad so I miss them; and 
old Rollo and Lady Burdon due next month — I miss 
them all. It’s the rottenest luck.” 

“They’ll all be here for you when you get back,” 
Aunt Maggie said. 

He paused again before he spoke. “Yes. That’s 



where my luck’s going to be dead in. I could tell you 
something, Aunt Maggie,” and he laughed. “But I 
won’t — yet. My luck — look here, tell old Japhra 
this from me; tell him I’m coming back for — he’ll 
understand — the Big Fight, and going to win it!” 




The great Argentine trip — an affair of so much con¬ 
sequence in its bearing on the development of pony¬ 
breeding as to attract the attention of the “Field” in a 
series of articles that spoke in highest terms of “ Messrs. 
Hannafords’ well-known establishment” and of “the 
far-reaching effects of their new enterprise” — occupied 
six months. Six weeks — or days — they seemed to 
Percival as they fled on the novelty and the busy interests 
that attended him while in South America. Six years 
he found them on the long voyage home in the steamer 
that brought him and the purchases from native stock 
of whose blood “the far-reaching effects” were to be 
produced; and twice and three times six years he de¬ 
clared to himself he seemed to have been away as, in 
the closing hours of an April afternoon, the train brought 
him in sight — at last! at last! — of homeland scenes, 
of Plowman’s Ridge along the eastward sky. 

Quite a little party was assembled on Great Letham 
platform to greet him. The Rough ’Uns had driven 
over in two separate carts — one that should carry 
him to Aunt Maggie and the other that should bear his 
luggage — and they were there, their faces to be seen 
afar like crimson lamps of their excitement, and Mr. 
Hannaford’s leg-and-cane cracks rising high above the 
din of escaping steam in which the train drew up, and 



Stingo almost completely voiceless with huskiness for 
more than an hour back. And Stingo had brought 
Japhra, arrived at the little horse farm to take up Ima 
after her winter with Aunt Maggie; and Mr. Hannaford 
had brought Ima, and they were there — Japhra with 
his tight mouth twitching, and deep in his puckered 
face his bright little eyes gleaming; and Ima, standing a 
shade apart, a tinge of colour crept beneath her skin, 
and on her lips and in her eyes her gentle smile. To 
complete the greeting there came shrill, ridiculous 
chuckles from a stout, soft gentleman, and from his 
sister little hops and little flutters and “There he is! 
He’ll hit his head leaning out like that! He’s browner 
than ever ! Oh, Per civ al /” 

And “Percival!” from them all in all their different 
keys, and he among them before the train was stopped, 
and turning from glad face to glad face, and caught 
up in the midst of it with a sudden wave of the old 
thought, like a knock at the heart, like a catch at the 
throat — “How jolly, jolly good they all are to me !” 

Like a knock at the heart, like a catch at the throat, it 
took him, and checked him a moment in his responses to 
the congratulations and was mirrored in the flicker that 
went across his face. His eyes caught Japhra’s and it 
was the look of understanding he read there, he thought, 
that brought Japhra to him for another word before he 
drove away. In the station yard the traps were waiting. 
“You, longside o’ me — partner /” bellowed Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford and must shake Percival’s hand again for the 
meaning of that word. “Up behind, Ima, my dear. 
We’ll take partner home while Stingo leaves that box 
at the farm and then comes on with the rest of the 

Plump Mr. Purdie and birdlike little Miss Purdie 


had started to walk; Stingo was throating “Come 
along, Japhra, come along, Japhra,” in a husky whisper 
that no one could hear but himself; Mr. Hannaford 
was beginning the tremendous operation of hoisting 
himself up on one side of the cart while Percival, a 
foot on the step, was about to swing himself up on 
the other, when Japhra turned and came back to him. 

“Thy hand a last time, master !” 

“Hullo, what’s this for?” Percival laughed; but saw 
Japhra’s face grave, and went on: “You caught my eye 
on the platform just now, Japhra. I saw you knew how 
I felt. That’s it, eh?” 

“Something of that,” Japhra answered him. “Ay, 
a thought of that came to me then.” The note of his 
voice was as earnest as his eyes, and he added, “Master, 
there was another matter to it that I saw.” 

“Well, you were always the thought-reader,” said 
Percival, and smiled at him quizzically. “What was it, 
Japhra ?” 

“That thou art out for something else than we know.” 

“You could see that? Well, you shall know to¬ 

The earnest look in Japhra’s eyes went deeper. 
“Comes it so soon?” 

“A few hours, Japhra.” 

There came an impatient hail from Mr. Hannaford, 
settled at last in the trap above them. 

“Well, press my hand to it,” Japhra said; and as he 
held Percival’s hand, “press — let me feel thy grip, 
master. Something bids me to it. Ay, thou art strong. 
Be strong in thine hour.” 

As the trap swung out of the station yard Percival 
saw him still standing there as though he still would 
speed that message. He turned about in his seat to in- 



elude Ima in his chatter with Mr. Hannaford, and they 
were not two miles upon the road before he was launched 
upon what gave him need for strength. 


Strangers were rare in Great Letham. Every figure 
passed as they rattled through the town was familiar 
to Percival. The turn into the high road took them by 
one — a tall, straight man with something of a stiff air 
about him, as though his clothes were uncomfortable —- 
that looked at them with a swift glance as they overtook 

“ Hullo,” said Percival. a That’s a new face. Who’s 
that ?” 

“ Why, that’s a bit of news for you, partner ,” said Mr. 
Hannaford. “Bless my eighteen stun proper if it ain’t. 
There’s two or three o’ them chaps about — ’tecs.” 

“ ’Tecs ? — detectives ? Why, what’s up, Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford ?” 

“There’s been an escape from Dartmoor prison. 
Three of ’em in a fog. And one — you’d never guess ! ” 

“Not old Hunt?” 

“Hunt sure enough, partner .” 

“Hunt — good lord, poor old Egbert Hunt! And 
those chaps? After him? Do they think he’s here?” 

“They didn’t know what to think,” said Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford, and with a laugh at them for their puzzlement 
went into explanation. A fortnight ago the escape was 
made, it appeared. Two caught — one shot — but Hunt 
still missing. Traces of him in four burglaries, and 
each one nearer this way, and now the ’tecs here on 
the belief that he was making for the country-side he 


Percival met Ima’s eyes and saw in them sympathy 
with the feelings given him by this news. “I knew you 
would be sorry,” she said. 

“ Sorry ! — why, Ima, it’s awful, it’s dreadful to me to 
think of poor old Egbert like that. One of them shot 

— and he hiding, terrified, no shelter, no food. When 
they catch him — I know what he is. He'll be mad 

— do anything. They’ll shoot him down, perhaps.” 
She touched his hand and he was moved to catch 

hers that touched him and saw the blood tide up into 
her face. He had seen much of her in the winter fol¬ 
lowing his illness when she had lived with Aunt Maggie. 
They were brother and sister, he had told her in those 
days, and when he had spoken of that night on Bracken 
Down before the fight: “Oh, it is forgotten,” she had 
told him. “Forgotten, and forgotten all the foolish 
words I spoke. Nothing in them, Percival. Yes, you 
are my brother. I am your sister. That is it.” 

And now was sister. He did not notice that she caught 
her breath when the blood came into her face as he took 
her hand, nor that she disengaged his clasp before she 
spoke. Only that in her gentle voice, “You must not 
let it upset you, Percival,” she told him. “You are 
coming back so happy. You must not let this spoil it.” 

“But it does,” he said. “It does. I can’t enjoy 
myself — I can’t be happy while he’s near here perhaps 

— those brutes after him. We’ll have to look out for 
him, Ima. You and I. He’ll not be afraid of us. We’ll 
go all round the place together. He’ll come to us if 
he sees us.” 

“Yes — yes,” she said, and seemed glad. 

“What does old Rollo say?” 

“Ah, Lord Burdon — Lord Burdon is longing to see 
you. Of Hunt I don’t know what he says. But of you 



— Percival, he’s longing for you. He’s not been very 
well. He’s kept to the house. He sent word how he had 
looked forward to meeting you at the station but could 
not, and begged you would go up to him as soon as ever 
you arrived. You must.” 

“Why, of course I will,” Percival said, and with 
recollection of Rollo — and of Rollo longing for him — 
was temporarily removed from the gloom that had beset 
him and returned to the anticipation of all that awaited 

“I will, of course. He’s not ill?” 

“He’s ever so much stronger since he came back. 
Only a cold that keeps him in. He has to keep well for 
the festivities, of course.” 

Her reference was to the great twenty-fourth birth¬ 
day celebrations — the coming of age according to Bur- 
don tradition — and Percival agreed eagerly. “Why, 
rather ! He’ll want all his voice for the speeches ! I 
was afraid once I’d not get back in time. As it is, I’ve 
only just done it. The nineteenth, next week, his birth¬ 
day, isn’t it ? ” 

“Next Thursday,” Ima said, smiling to see him smile 

“Touch and go !” laughed Percival. “I might easily 
have missed it.” He turned to Mr. Hannaford. “Mr. 
Hannaford, you’ll have to stay a bit when we get home 

— have tea — and then drive me over to the Manor. 
We’re talking about Lord Burdon and the festivities. 
Great doings, eh?” 

“Why, great doings is the word for it,” said Mr. 
Hannaford. “Bless my eighteen stun proper if it ain’t. 
Everybody invited a score o’ miles round. Going to 
roast a nox whole, marquees in the grounds, poles with 
ribbons on ’em from the church to the Manor —” 


“From the church! What, is there going to be a 
service ?” 

“Service!” said Mr. Hannaford. “Why, how’s he 
going to be married without?” 

Percival almost jumped to his feet. “Married ! Is 
he going to be married?” 

“What, don’t you know, partner?” 

“I’ve not had letters for months. Married! Good 
lord, old Rollo married! Why, that’s tremendous. 
Ima, why ever didn’t you tell me ? Married ! Whom 

Mr. Hannaford was enormously pleased at this ex¬ 
citement. “Give ’ee three guesses, partner .” 

Percival cried: “Why, I couldn’t guess in a thousand. 
It fairly knocks me. Old Rollo going to be married ! 
Go on — tell me !” 

“Go on — guess,” said Mr. Hannaford. 

“How can I guess ? I don’t know his London friends. 
I shan’t even know her name.” 

“Well, you’ll ha’ left your memory where you left 
that string o’ little ’orses if ’ee don’t. Ever heard o’ 
Upabbot?” He twisted round to wink advertisement 
of his humour to Ima. “Got any sort of a glimmering 
rec’lection of Abbey Royal? — why, Miss Espart!” 




Percival said in a quiet voice, “Put me down. 
Put me down — I’m going to walk.” 

“So you’re no hand at guessing, partner . Own up 
to that,” was Mr. Hannaford’s response. Then he cried, 
“Hi, what’s up with ’ee? What be doing?” for Perci¬ 
val had stretched a sudden hand to the reins and the 
horse swerved sharply. “Whoa !” bellowed Mr. Hanna- 
ford, and dragged up with a wheel on the brink of a ditch. 
“Might ha’ had us out!” he turned on Percival. “Bless 
my eighteen stun proper if ’ee mightn’t!’’ 

It was a wild face that fronted him, blotchy in red and 
white as it were freshly bruised. “Well, put me down ! ” 
Percival cried at him fiercely. “Put me down when I 
ask you ! ” and as he slowly drew the rug from his knees 
and put out a foot to the step he turned back on Mr. 
Hannaford and flamed “I suppose I can walk if I want 
to ?” and dropped heavily to the road. His feet landed 
on the edge of the ditch. He blundered forward and 
came with hands and knees against the hedge. The 
stumble shook his hat from his head and he turned and 
went hatless past the tail of the cart and a few paces 
down the road. 

Mr. Hannaford released with a rushing explosion the 
immense breath that he had been sustaining during the 
whole of these proceedings. He turned amazed eyes on 
Ima : “What’s happened to him?” 




She sprang to the road. “Percival!” and followed 

He turned at the sound of her feet; and at the look on 
his face she stopped. 

“Well ?” he demanded. “Well? What is it now ?” 

“You have left your hat/’ she said. “I will bring it to 

Some wit that came to her gave her these ordinary 
words in place of questioning him, and he came back to 
her quickly. “I don’t want my hat,” he told her. He 
looked up towards Mr. Hannaford. “I’m sorry I pulled 
you up like that. I want to walk, that’s all. I’m going 
along the Ridge — to stretch my legs.” 

“There’s something wrong with ’ee,” said Mr. Hanna¬ 
ford. “What is it, boy ?” 

“Nothing. I want a walk, that’s all.” 

Mr. Hannaford pointed across the Ridge. “There’s 
a storm coming up. Best ride.” 

“I’ll be home before that.” He turned and went 
slowly towards a gate that gave to the fields approaching 
the downside. Ima hesitated and then went swiftly 
after him as he fumbled with the latch. 

“Percival, I will walk with you.” 

He turned upon her a face from which the gentler 
mood was gone. 

“Oh, for God’s sake let me alone,” he cried, and passed 
through the gate and left her. 


He found that he kept stumbling as he pressed along. 

He tried to give attention to lifting his feet but stum¬ 
bled yet. He found that he could not think clearly. 
He tried to take a grasp of his thoughts and place them 



where he would have them go, but they persisted in form 
of words that Mr. Hannaford had spoken, in swift gleams 
of pictures that answered the words and then round 
about the words again. “Ever heard o’ Upabbot?” 
Ah, every well-remembered street of it arose before his 
mind ! “ Got any sort of a glimmering recollection of 

Abbey Royal?” Ah, he could scent the very flowers 
banked along the drive ! “Why, Miss Espart.” Blank¬ 
ness then — some thick oppressive darkness suddenly 
shutting down upon him; some bewildering, vaguely 
sinister blanket of dread that stifled thought — then 
suddenly out of it and back again to “Ever heard o’ 
Upabbot ?” 

The ground beneath him flattened abruptly under 
his feet. He stumbled more violently than before, and 
was jolted to recognition that Plowman’s Ridge was 
gained. Of long habit he straightened himself to meet 
the wind. It suited the unreal conditions that seemed to 
surround him, it was a part of the dream in which he 
seemed to be, that something that should have been here 
seemed to be missing. What? He stood a moment 
looking dully about him. The question merged into 
and was lost in the circle of thought that beset him as he 
followed his right hand and turned along the Ridge. 
He had stumbled a full mile and more when there struck 
his face that which informed him what had been missing 
when first he reached the crest. Wind came against 
him, and he realised there had been no wind where, ever 
and like an old friend, wind ran to greet him. Aroused, 
he pulled up short. He had come far. That was Little 
Letham lying beneath him, Burdon Old Manor in those 
trees. Late afternoon gave before evening down the 
valley. Heavy the wind and close. He turned his 
head and saw against the further sky great storm clouds 



pressing down upon the Ridge. He raised his eyes and 
saw a figure come towards him, crossing the Ridge and 
walking fast from Little Letham, turning towards him as 
he gave a cry. 


He went forward some swift paces, the stumbling gone 
from his feet and his mind sprung tensely out of its dull 
circling; then he stopped. She too was halted. She 
had turned sharply about at his cry and was poised 
towards him where she turned. There were perhaps 
twenty yards between them, and the quickly deepening 
gloom admitted him her face whitely and without clear 
outline through the dusk. He did not move, nor she. 
There came from her to him a rattle of breeze, presage 
of the storm that gathered, and he saw her skirts fan 
out upon it. There struck his face a heavy raindrop, 
skirmishing before the gale, and he drew a quick breath 
and went forward to her — nearer, and saw her faultless 
face and felt the blood drum in his ears; nearer, and her 
clear voice came to him and he could hear his heart. 

She said : “Percival!” 

“Dora, I have come back.” 

Her face, that he watched with eyes whose burning 
he could feel, was as emotionless as motionless she fronted 
him. It might have been frozen, so still it was ; and she 
a carven thing, so still she stood ; and her eyes set jewels, 
so still were they. His breathing was to be heard as of one 
that breathes beneath a heavy load. When she did not 
answer — and when answered he knew himself by her 
silence — “There is only one thing I want to hear from 
you,” he said. “Tell me it.” 

Her voice was a whisper. “Oh, must you ask me that 

He said stupidly: “But I have come back.” 



She said: “O Percival, it is a long time.” 

He had known her voice precise and cold — as icicles 
broken in a cold hand ! — as was its habit and as he 
thrilled to hear it. He had known it faltering and 
atremble and scarcely to be heard when she was in his 
arms. Now there was a new note in it that he heard. 
There was a weary droop, as though she were tired. “ But 
it is a long time,” she said again. “I asked you not to 
leave me.” 

He was trembling. “Tell me what has happened.” 

Her reply was, “I asked you not to leave me, Percival.” 

“You and —” There was a name he had difficulty in 
saying. He turned away and went a step, fighting for it 
among the scenes in which her words surrounded it. 
Then came to her again and pronounced it. “You and 
Rollo. Is it true ? ” 

“Yes, it is true.” 

He said brokenly: “But I have held you in my arms. 
How can it be true? I have kissed you and you have 
kissed me and clung to me. You have loved me. I 
have come back for you. How can it be true ? ” 

Her face answered him. Beneath his words the crim¬ 
son flamed as though in crimson blood it would burst 
upon her cheeks — flamed in those strange pools of 
colour where her colour lay, and drove her white as 
driven snow about them — flamed and called his own 
blood as flame bursts out of flame. He caught her in 
his arms. “You are mine ! What has he done to you? 
Mine, mine, what has he dared?” 

She struggled and pressed her face away from his that 
approached it. “You must not! You must not! Per¬ 
cival, you must not!” 

“Ah, your voice, your voice tells me that you are 
mine!” he cried: and cried it again in revulsion of 



triumph over the unthinkable torment that had pos¬ 
sessed him. “Your voice tells me !” and again in sav¬ 
agery of heat at a thought of Rollo, “Mine — your voice 
tells me you are mine!” 

The colour was gone from her face. She was so white 
and so still in his arms that he desisted the action of his 
face towards her, but held her close, close. There came 
from her lips : “No, no ! you must not. It is wrong.” 

“How can it be wrong ? You say No, but your voice 
tells me. I have come back for you, my Dora.” 

“Ah, be kind to me, Percival.” 

“How should I be unkind to my darling?” 

He felt a tremor run through her. “You must not call 
me that, Percival. It should never have been. I 
thought you would forget.” 

What, had he not triumphed then? Torment came 
ravening back at him again like a wild thing, and with 
a sudden burst and clamour, shaking him where he stood, 
old friend wind with that old hail — or mock ? — of 
ha ! ha ! ha ! in his ears. He said intensely: “You thought 
I would forget ? While I was away you thought I would 
forget? Dora, you never thought it!” 

She stirred in his clasp to disengage herself: “No, no 
— before that. When we were together.” 

He broke out: “Explain! Explain!” He let her 
from his arms and she stood away from him, stress on her 
face. “Oh, there is something I do not understand in 
this,” he cried. “Explain — tell me.” 

She told it him. “Percival, I was always to marry 
Rollo,” she said. 

He stared at her. “How can you mean — always?” 

“I should have told you. I knew it.” 

He pronounced in a terrible voice “Rollo !” Then he 
said thickly: “What, when you were with me — in 



those days, those days ! You knew it ? He had spoken 
to you then?” 

She caught her hands to her bosom in an action of 
despair. “No, no !” she cried; and then, “Oh, how can 
I explain?” and then found the word that helped her 
with force of a thousand words to name her meaning. 
“It was — holiday,” she said. 

He remembered it. He remembered, and its memory 
came like a lamp to guide him. He said slowly, “When 
Rollo went — I remember you were different. Dora, 
do you mean it was always arranged you were to marry 

She said, “Always — always !” 

He cried, “But you loved me !” 

She wrung her hands at that, and cried in the most 
pitiful way, “I thought you would forget. I don’t 
know what I thought. It was holiday. It should not 
have been. Oh, why must we talk of it?” 

“Dora, they are forcing you to marry him.” 

“I was always to, Percival. I was always to.” 

“You want to ?” 

“Well, I was always to.” 

Her voice was that of a child whose young intelligence 
by no means can take a lesson. Sufficient to one such 
that the thing is so as he sees it and cannot be other¬ 
wise ; and to her sufficient — trained and schooled and 
cloistered for that sufficiency—that, as she said, she was 
always to. Ah, she had had holiday, but not enough to 
loose her; she had tossed among the flowers, but had 
fluttered home at nights. Now the mate she toyed with 
was knocking at her prison; she could see and could 
remember, but she could not fly. Quickly after the end 
of their months together, and very certainly after Rollo’s 
return, she had discovered what long she had dimly 


43 r 

seen. Clearly the purpose and the walls and the end of 
her training had been presented to her. Passively she 
had accepted them. 

But how explain it? How explain what herself she 
did not know ? She looked from night that came steal¬ 
ing up the valley to his face that had a shade of night. 
She heard the wind that now was in gusty beat against 
them, and above the sound could hear his breathing. 
She could only wring her hands and say again: “Perci- 
val, I was always to;” and when he did not answer, 
“Let me go now, Percival.” 

He answered her then. “You loved me. How can 
you do this? You loved me. Why did you not tell 

She cried as if she were distracted, “Oh, oh ! I asked 
you not to leave me. It was a long time. You were 
not here.” 

He caught on to that. “ I am here now. It shall not 
be. Dora, I am here now !” 

“It is done,” she said. “It is done !” 

He seemed for the first time to realise the complete 
abandonment, the unresisting resignation to her fate, 
that was in her every word and tone. His voice went 
very low. 

“Dora, are you going to marry him ?” 

“I was always to.” It was the beginning and the 
end of her will. “I was always to.” She had no ques¬ 
tion of it. 

He threw up his arms in wild despair at its repetition. 
“O my God! What a thing to tell me! What a 
thing to be ! Why ? Why ? Do you love him ? Is 
he anything to you? Why were you always to marry 
him ?” 

She gave the reason her mother had never concealed 



from her. “He is Lord Burdon. It was arranged long 
ago. My mother —” 

The sound he made stopped her. As if he had been 
stabbed and choked his life out on the blow, “Ah!” 
he cried. “That is it. Because he is what he is. If 
he were like me this would never have happened. If 
he were not what he is it would be ended.” 

She appealed “Percival! Percival!” wrung her hands 
and turned and went a step. When she looked again 
she saw his face as none had ever seen it, twisted in pain 
and dark with worse than pain. He was not looking at 
her, but down upon Little Letham where Burdon Old 
Manor lay. She approached him and spoke his name, 
touched him, but he did not move. 

She left him there and once looked back, 
as she had left him. 

He still stood 




There had been one years before that had cried, 
“You are Lord Burdon !” and one that had received it, 
first in light mock at its folly, then in bewilderment at 
its truth. There was one cried the same words at “Post 
Offic” on this night and one, groaning in torment of 
spirit, that put it aside as a jest untimely, then, convinced 
of it, got to his feet and heard as it were the world shatter¬ 
ing to pieces in his ears. 

The gathering storm had opened and was driving 
along the Ridge in its first onset of rain when at last 
Percival turned where Dora had left him, wrenched him¬ 
self about as though his feet were rooted, and brought to 
Aunt Maggie the dark and working face that had stared 
down upon the Old Manor. Ima had told Aunt Maggie 
»f his strange behaviour when he had stopped the cart. 
When he arrived she was up-stairs in her room, crying a 
little, wanting to be alone. Aunt Maggie, Ima’s fears 
communicated to her, awaited him alone in the parlour. 
He opened the door fiercely and came in dripping from the 
streaming night. She gave a little cry at sight of his 
face and rose and stretched her hands towards him. The 
sudden peace in here, exchanged for the buffeting of the 
night, reacted on the tumult of his mind and forced him 
to discharge it. 




a O Aunt Maggie ! Aunt Maggie !” he said. 

“ My Percival! What is it ? ” 

He took both her hands that were extended to him; 
then was acted upon anew by her loving eyes, and 
clasped her to him and she felt sobs shaking his strong 

“ Percival! Percival! What has happened to you ?” 

He let her go and dropped into a chair against the 
table, put his hands to his head and while she saw his 
shoulders heaving she saw the raindrops running through 
his fingers from his hair. She went before him, and 
stretching her arms across the table encircled his wrists 
with her hands. They were burning to her touch. 
“ Percival, it is torturing to me to see you like this. 
Tell me, tell me !” 

He took her hands. “Oh, I am in torture,” he said, 
and she saw the torture burning in his eyes. “Aunt 
Maggie, Aunt Maggie, I loved Dora. I never told you. 
I was to tell you to-night. I had come back for her.” 

She felt a sense go through her as of a sword turned 
within her. 

“But Rollo !” she said. 

His hands crushed hers so that she had pain. “Yes, 
Rollo!” he said. “I nearly went to him to-night. I 
shall go yet. Rollo ! Rollo ! Rollo !” 

He ground the name between his teeth. The pressure 
of his hands on hers became almost insufferable. She 
felt it as nothing to what shook her brain. She was back 
at the bedside in the Holloway Road. She was spun 
through the years of her waiting, waiting. She was 
fronted with the torments when that for which she waited 
had seemed to be snatched from her. There filled the 
room and stooped towards her the figure that she en¬ 
visaged as fate, that had stayed her hand, that she 



obeyed, that had tried her, that had fought for her, that 
now was come to prove itself fate indeed. 

In one part she was dizzy and overcome with the 
shaking at her brain; in the other she was listening to 
Percival and worse beset at every word. “I have seen 
her,” he said, “I have seen her to-night. They are 
forcing her to this. They have arranged it for years — 
arranged it! Bought her and sold her because he is 
what he is. Aunt Maggie, she loved me for myself. 
He comes in ! he comes in ! he comes in ! and takes her 
because he is Lord Burdon.” 

The shaking at her brain pitched suddenly to a tensest 
balance like a machine that rattles up to action then 
tunes to a level spinning. 

“He is not Lord Burdon !” she said. 

He was silent but he did not heed her. 

“He is not Lord Burdon !” 

At her repetition he moved quickly in his seat and re¬ 
laxed his hands. “ Oh, why say that ? Why say that ? ” 

“You are Lord Burdon !” 

He let her hands go and pressed his own again to his 
head. “Can you only talk like that when you see me 
suffering ?” 

She rose to her feet. “Percival! Percival, listen to 
me. It is true. It is what I have kept for you these 
years. It is what I have meant when I told you I had 
something for you. You are Lord Burdon !” 

He also stood. “Are you mad, Aunt Maggie? Are 
you mad ?” 

She staggered back against the wall. While he stared 
at her as he questioned her sanity, while she saw the look 
in his eyes as he asked her, there came to her with a 
shock of sudden fear, as to one that has released a wild 
and mighty thing and shudders to have done it, the 

43 6 


words Japhra had said: “Mistress, beware lest thou 
betrayest him !” 

He came swiftly to her and roughly caught her. “ Are 
you mad ? What is this ? ” 

She recovered herself. “ Do you know that box in your 
room ?” 

The locked box was an old joke of his. “What has 
that to do with it ?” 

“The proofs are there. You shall see.” 

“Show me,” he said, his voice not to be recognised for 
any he had spoken with. “Show me!” 

She steadied herself against a chair, and steadying 
herself by all her hand came against as she walked, went 
across the room to the stairs, he following. There came 
at that moment a loud knock upon the outer door. He 
went dazedly to it and stared with unattending eyes at 
one who stood there, the light shining on his heavy 
waterproof coat that streamed with rain. It was the 
strange man whom they had overtaken as the cart came 
out of Great Letham. 

“The convict Hunt’s been seen near by,” said the man 
abruptly. “Me and my mates thought it right to tell 
the village.” 

Percival closed the door upon him without a word. 
“Show me,” he repeated to Aunt Maggie, and followed 
her to her room. 


He sat on the edge of her bed while she told him his 
story. He sat motionless and with his face immobile. 
There was only one action that betrayed he was under 
any emotion. His chin was forward on his hand, elbow 
on knee. His fingers came across his mouth, and in the 



knuckle of one he set his teeth. Blood was there when he 
drew his hand away. 

She finished: “It is all here, letters, certificates. Your 
mother’s letters, Percival, and your father’s. They are 
all in order from the first. There is one here to his 
grandmother and one to his lawyer telling them of his 
marriage. He left those with her when he went away. 
Then the letters from India.” 

He drew his hand from his mouth, the blood on his 
fist. “Leave me alone,” he said. “Go away, Aunt 
Maggie, and leave me to look at them alone.” 

There was that in his voice which smote terribly across 
her spinning brain and caused her to obey him. 


An hour he was occupied in reading the yellowed sheets 
whose heritage he was; for long thereafter sat and stared 
upon them. These devoted lines in that round hand were 
his mother’s: his father’s those ardent passions in those 
bold characters; he their son. He felt himself a shame¬ 
less listener to penetrate these tender secrets; he felt 
himself a little child that hears his parents’ voices. 
Sometimes, in that first mood, the blood ran hotly to his 
cheeks; sometimes, in that second, there came sobs to 
his throat and great trembling. Memories of thoughts, 
impulses, happenings that had been strange, returned 
to him, crowding upon him; here was their meaning, 
their interpretation here. In the library with Mr. 
Amber, “thinking without thinking as if I was in some 
one else who was thinking, ” shadows about the room and 
a moth thudding the window-pane — here the secret of 
it! In the library with Mr. Amber and the old man’s 
cry: “Why do you stretch your hand so, my lord?” — 



here the answer ! In presence of death with Mr. Amber, 
and “Hold my hand, my lord” — here what had opened 
Mr. Amber’s eyes. In dreams in Burdon House, and 
searching, searching, and all the rooms familiar, and a 
voice that had cried, “My son, my son ! Oh, we have 
waited for you 1” — here, here, the key to it — here that 
voice in those yellowed sheets — here, here, what he had 
searched, streaming from those papers, tingling his skin, 
filling his throat as though from the faded lines strong 
essences rushed and pressed about him. His mother ! —• 
he spoke the word aloud, “Mother!” His father! — 
“Father !” Their son, “I am your son ! ...” 

Of a sudden he was returned to the present. Of a 
sudden he was snatched up from realisation of what had 
been, and what was, and pitched into battle of what was 
now to be. Out of a churchyard, out of a graveside 
where gentle thoughts arise, into the street, into the 
business where the din goes up ! So he was hurled, and 
as one that gasps on sudden immersion in icy water, as 
one gripped in panic’s hold that comes out of sleep to 
sudden peril, so, as he faced the thing that was come to 
him, he cried out hoarsely, knew horror upon him, and 
shut his eyes and pressed his hands against them as 
though his lids alone could not blind what picture was 
before him. In one instant fierce, fierce, exultant 
triumph; in the next torment that reeled him where he 
stood. In one instant himself that an hour before had 
stood looking balefully down upon Burdon Old Manor; 
that had cried to Aunt Maggie: “Rollo! Rollo! 
Rollo!” and knew it for a thrice-repeated curse; that 
had cried: “ I was going to him ! I shall go to him yet! ” 
and knew his hands tingle and his brain leap at the 
thought; in the next, nay, immediate with the flash and 
flame of it, Rollo that from childhood’s days had leant 



upon him; that he had brothered, fathered, loved; that 
had cried to him — ah, God, God ! how the words came 
back !— “ Everything I’ve got is yours — you know that, 
don’t you, old man?” That had cried, “I’m never 
really happy except when I’m with youthat had said, 
“I want some one to look after me — the kind of chap I 
am ; a shy ass and delicate.” 

He dropped on the bed in the tumult of his torment. 
He writhed to his knees and flung himself against the 
bed, his fingers twisting in the quilt, his face between his 
outstretched arms. He had burned with fury to face 
Rollo and crush him down. The weapon was in his 
hands. Ah, ah, too strong, too sharp, too cruel! New 
thoughts brought him to his feet. Strongly he arose 
and shook himself. What, was he weakening toward a 
sentiment? “Everything I’ve got is yours”—but 
Dora taken from him ! “ Everything I’ve got is yours ! ’ 7 
— it was ! it was ! and Dora with it! Always arranged 
because he was Lord Bur don ! His darling sold to Rollo 
and bought by Rollo because Rollo was what he was ! 
And he was not it! He was not it! This night, this 
hour he should know it! 

This night ? There came to him the vision of Rollo he 
had had when they told him Rollo could not come to the 
station to meet him but begged he would go up to him 
directly he arrived. He had pictured old Rollo coming 
to him with eager, outstretched hands. Rollo was 
waiting for him now, expecting him every moment, 
would so come to him if he went, would so come to him 
if he waited till to-morrow; and how would look when he 
spoke and told ? The years ran back and answered him. 
There came to him clearly as yesterday that first visit to 
Mr. Hannaford’s when he had been flushed with excite¬ 
ment and praise at riding the little black horse and had 



turned to see Rollo shrinking as he stood away, distress 
and tears working in his face. So he would look now. 
Then he had encouraged Rollo — as all through life 
thereafter he had heartened him. Now ? Now he was to 
strike the appealing face that then and ever had looked 
to him for aid. . . . 

How do it ? How do it ? Why hesitate ? Why 
hesitate? How strike him? Why spare him? How 
break him? Why let him go? Like live wild things 
the questions came at him and tore him; as one in direst 
torment there broke from his lips “O God, my God !”: 
as one pursued he burst from the room, through the 
parlour where Aunt Maggie stretched hands and cried 
to him, out into the night where tempest raged and 
blackness was — fierce as his own, black as the thoughts 
he sought to race. 

Out, out, as one pursued ! Away, away, to shake 
pursuit! And caught as he ran, screamed at as he 
stumbled on, by all the howling pack that gathered 
strength and fury as he fled. His feet took the Down; 
full the tempest struck him as he breasted it; ah, ah, 
more violent the furies fought within ! Thunder broke 
sheer above him out of heaven with detonation like a 
thousand guns; he staggered at the immensity of it; 
on, on, for furious more what joined in shock of battle in 
his brain ! A sword of lightning showed him the Ridge 
and seemed to shake it where it lay. He gained the 
crest and turned along it and knew in his ears old friend 
wind in howling mock of ha ! ha ! ha ! to see this fruitless 




He came over against Burdon Old Manor and stopped 
and knew himself where he had stood with Dora three 
hours before. His exertions had run him to the end of 
his physical strength. He sank to his knees, and there, 
like vultures swooping to their stricken prey, the tor¬ 
ments he had raced from came at him in last assault; 
there had him writhing on the sodden ground. . . . 

In their stress, as a hand put down to touch him where 
he writhed, a sudden recollection came — himself with 
Japhra by the van by Fir-Tree pool; Japhra with a 
lighted match cupped against his face and Japhra’s 
words: “Listen to me, master. Listen to me — thy 
type runneth hot through life till at last it cometh to the 
big fight. Send me news of that. Send only ‘The 
Big Fight, Japhra.’ I shall know the winner.” Ah, 
here was the Big Fight, saved for him, growing for him 
through these years and now released upon him! “I 
shall know the winner.” He crouched lower beneath 
the storm, and in his inward storm buried his fingers in 
the sodden turf. “I shall know the winner” — ah, 
God, God, which was victory and which defeat? To 
win Dora, to take all that was his and she, his darling, 
with it, but against Rollo to use this hideous thing: was 




that victory ? To lose all, all, to let his darling go, but 
to spare Rollo: was victory there ? Was that victory 
with such a prize ? his Dora won ? Yes, that was victory, 
victory ! Was that victory at such a price, Rollo spared, 
his darling lost ? Could he bear to see his darling go ? 
Endure to live and know whose son he was? Watch 
Rollo with his darling and keep his secret sheathed? 
Was victory there ? No, no, defeat — defeat unthink¬ 
able, impossible, not to be borne ! He sprang to his feet 
and another thought came at him and gripped him. 
Japhra again: “Get at the littleness of it — get at the 
littleness of it. It will pass.” Ah, easy, futile words; 
ah, damnable philosophy ! Was littleness here ? Was 
littleness in this? “Remember what endureth. Not 
maa nor man’s work — only the green things, only the 
brown earth that to-day humbly supports thee, to-mor¬ 
row obscurely covers thee. Lay hold on that when aught 
vexeth thee; all else passeth.” 

The Big Fight had him; in its agony he cried aloud, 
threw up his arms and fell again to his knees. 


So Ima found him. 

When he had burst from the house, when Aunt Maggie 
had followed him and cried after him into the night, 
when she had returned and for a while wrestled with fear 
of what she had seen in his face, she went to the little 
room that was set apart for Ima and in sharp agony, in 
dreadful possession of that “Mistress, beware lest thou 
betrayest him,” had cried “Ima, Ima, go to him ! go to 
him ! ” 

And Ima, taking Aunt Maggie’s hands and staring in 



her face, “What has happened to him? What has 
happened to him? I heard him in his room alone. I 
knew something had happened to him.” 

The other could only say : “Go to him, Ima ! Go ! 
He must not be alone !” 

She was at once obeyed; her voice and face, and name¬ 
less dread that had been with Ima since Percival had 
left the cart and while she heard him in his room, com¬ 
manded it. 

“How will you find him?” Aunt Maggie asked. 

Hatless and without covering against the storm, Ima 
went to the outer door. “He will be on Plowman’s 
Ridge,” she said. “I shall find him.” 

Some instinct took her along the very path that he had 
followed. Some fear put her to speed. Her heart that 
he had silenced on Bracken Down and that never again 
she had permitted him to see, carried her to him. She 
ran with her skirts taken in her left hand, gipsy again in 
her free and tireless action, gipsy when at the summit 
of the Ridge instinct directed her without hesitancy to 
the right, gipsy when in the blackness she almost ran 
upon him and a second time revealed him what he was 
to her. 

He cried, “Ima! Why are you here?” but carried 
his surprise no further. 

“Percival, what has come to thee?” 

“O Ima, leave me alone ! leave me alone !” 

“Ah, let me help thee !” 

He cried, “None can — none can help me! Leave 
me ! leave me !” Almost he struck her with his frantic 
arms that pressed her from him. She nothing cared, 
but caught them: 

“Ah, suffer me to help thee. Look how I have come to 
thee. I healed thee once.” 



Her voice, and memories of her touch when he had lain 
sick, acted upon him. “ Hold my hands, then. I must 
hold something. Hold them, hold them! O Ima, 
I am suffering, suffering !” 

“That is why I am come. Your hands burn in mine 
and tremble.” 

“Kind Ima !” he said brokenly. “Kind Ima !” and 
put her hands to his face. 

She caught at her breath. There came a sudden 
lull in the storm as though the wind paused for words 
she tried to make. 

“Some one is running to us,” Percival cried, and took 
his hands from her; stepped where approaching feet 
sounded and suddenly caught one that ran into his arms. 

“Who are you?” Then peered and then cried, 

The figure that he held panted for breath. “I’m 
going to him — me lord,” Hunt said, and laughed with 
the words. 

Percival went back a step and there came to Ima’s 
ears his breathing, heavy as Hunt’s that laboured from 
his run. “What do you mean ?” 

Again the laugh. “I heard, me lord. Like as I 
heard that odd bit in the hall at the Manor years back 
and never forgot it that day to this.” 

“ How did you hear ? ” 

“I come to you. I come to you hiding, knowing you’d 
be kind as was the only one ever kind to me. Hid in 
your bedroom back of the screen, you not being there. 
Saw you come in and heard —” 

His sentence was broken in the savage hands with which 
Percival caught his collar and shook him. “What did 
you hear ? What ? What ? ” , 

“Leave off of me ! You’re choking of me.” 



“What did you hear?” 

“Y’re Lord Burdon. Not him — not that—” 

He was swung from his feet by Percival’s grasp. 
“What now ? What now, Hunt ?” 

“Leave off of me ! Leave off ! You’re killing me.” 

The grip relaxed, and Hunt shook himself free, and 
tossed his arms. “What now ? ” he echoed, and had hate 
and dreadful laughter in the scream his words made. 
“What now! I come out for him! For him and ’er 
as put me away and as I told her in the dock I’d come. 
Straight for ’em I come. Straight for ’em with the 
police after me. Stole this for ’em and come to give it 
’em.” He drew from his jacket what gleamed in his 
hand as he shook it aloft. “Come to shoot ’em like 
dogs as used me like dogs, the bloody tyrangs. I’ve 
got better for ’em now. They can go free — free! 
turned out! turned out! chucked into the street! 
kicked out! Think of ’em ! Think of ’em crying and 
howling and beggars and laughed at and pointed at! 
That’s what I’m going to give ’em. Into my hand 
God Almighty what casts down the oppressors and 
the tyrangs has delivered ’em! That’s what — 

Percival was on him and threw him. His throat was 
in Percival’s clutch and his hands tearing at the hands 
that throttled him. 

“You are not!” Percival cried. “You are not. By 
God, you shall not!” 

In those wild words of Hunt’s and what they meant — 
the world’s mockery; in that vile face and what it stood 
for — the world’s cruelty, clearly there came to him the 
answer that vainly in his torment he had sought. Rollo 
face this? Rollo to this be subjected? Rollo suffer 
ejection from home and name ? Ah, now he knew which 



in the big fight had been defeat and which was victory. 
“Rollo ! Rollo ! Rollo !” he had cried, and cried it as 
a curse. “ Rollo ! Rollo! Rollo!” now beat in his 
brain and in his grinding fingers and was pulse of the 
old protection throbbing for his friend that ever had 
been more than brother to him. 

“Percival, you are killing him !” — Ima’s fingers were 
on his, pulling his grip. 

“Keep away ! keep away!” he cried. “I’ll have his 
life if need be !” and to Hunt, livid and at last gasp: 
“You damned devil! You damned devil! What are 
you going to promise me ? How am I going to bind you ? 
What am I going to do with you?” 

There came gaspingly: “Promise — promise — oath 
to it.” 

He relaxed his fingers, and as Hunt drew gasping 
breaths, “You damned devil!” he cried again. “You 
damned fool. Did you not hear talk of proofs? 
Nothing in them ! Nothing in them ! Can you hear 

He was thrown on his side, he was grappled with by 
one whom fear of death gave strength, his clutch was 
eluded and Hunt sprang free. 

“Nothing in them ! What’s your murder fingers for, 
then? Nothing in them—what you say ‘Mother’ 
for, then ? Nothing in them — what — keep away ! 
Keep off of me ! ” He whipped from his pocket what had 
gleamed in his hand. “Keep off of me ! I’ll fire. By 
God, I’ll let you have it if you come at me !” 

An ’ come at him , art come at him , art come at him , as 
of Percival in the fight the old men say. 

Quick and straight as he had leapt at Pinsent, now 
quick and straight he leapt at Hunt. Quick and straight 
then to win victory, now quick and straight in victory 



already gained. Quick and straight he leapt; quicker 
the pistol spoke; without reel or stumble he pitched to 

There came a scream of hideous sound from Hunt, 
and screaming still he turned and fled, screaming was 
answered by a shout, and screaming ran to the hold of 
tall men come out of the night in his pursuit and close, 
yet very late, before he screamed. 

From Ima no cry nor sound. She cast herself beside 
the figure that lay there, looked in its face and had no 
need for word or question; pressed her lips to his and 
then cried only, “ Little master ! ah, ah, Percival!” 

She threw herself full length upon him where full length 
he lay. With her body she shielded him from the im¬ 
mense rain, with her arms enfolded him, put her mouth 
to his. 

So she lay scarcely breathing; so she held him — 
hers, her own. 

There is a hill that stands in a chain of hills where the 
west country stands towards the sea. A river streams 
below in a great mouth that opens to sea and a wide flood 
that winds along the vale. No more than a wide ribbon 
it looks from the hill, and the sea no more than the sky’s 
reflection. Here on a day the van stood, the horse 
tethered, and Japhra with his pipe watching the remote 
valley. He turned his eyes to Ima, knew the thoughts 
that had her, and touched her where she sat beside him 
on the steps. All was known to them in these days and 
he spoke of it. “My daughter, art thou still question¬ 
ing it? Why, this was the happy ending such as none 
could make it. How had he endured to live and over¬ 
throw his friend ? How live in silence and carry those 
hot embers in his breast ? Nay, nay, the fight came to 



him — that heart of ours — and he took up the prize. 
A fighter I marked him when a child he came to us. A 
fighter I knew him and a winner alway. Mark me what 
I told thee once when he lay with us: Though it be 
death, always victory. My daughter, what more happi¬ 
ness is there ? ”