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823 
1878 



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THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 



REPRINTED FROM THE "WORLD. 




THE 



MOxNKS OF THELEMA, 



A iToDd 



BY 

WALTER BESANT AND JAMES RICE, 

AUTHORS OF 

KKADY-MONEY MORTIBOY," "THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY," "BY 

CELIA'S ARBOUR," " THIS SON OF VULCAN," "MY LITTLE 

GIRL," "THE CASE OF MR. LUCRAFT," " WITH HARP 

AND CROWN," "WHEN THE SHIP COMES 

HOME," ETC., ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



CHATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY. 

1878. 



8S3 

V. i 




THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 



CHAPTER I. 

" Here dwell no frowns nor anger ; from these gates 
Sorrow flies afar." 

Two novices are waiting for the ceremony 

of reception. They have been placed side 

^ by side upon a seat at the lower end of the 



K 



great hall, and have been enjoined to wait 
^' in silent meditation. The low seat perhaps 
typifies the stool of repentance ; but until 
the reception is over one hardly likes to 
speculate on the meaning of things. One 
of the novices is a man, and the other a 
girl. Two by two the fraternity have 
entered into this ark, and two by two they 
go out of it. So much only is known to 
the outer world. The man is about thirty 
years of age, with bright eyes, and smooth- 

VOL. I. I 



2 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

shaven chin and cheek. If the light was 
better, you would make out that he has a 
humorous twinkle in his eyes, and that his 
lips, which are thin, have got a trick of 
smiling at nothing — at the memory, the 
anticipation, the mere imagined umbra of a 
good thing. This kind of second sight is 
useful for keeping the spirits at a uni- 
form temperature, a simmering rather 
than a bubbling- of cheerfulness. The 
unhappy people who have it not are 
melancholy in solitude, rush into any kind 
of company, often take to drink, commit 
atrocious crimes while drunk, and hang^ 
themselves in prison. Mr. Roger Exton 
will never, it is very certain, come to this 
melancholy end, He is extremely thin, 
and rather tall ; also his face is brown, of 
that colour which comes of long residence 
in hot climates. In fact Mr. Exton has 
but recently returned from Assam, where 
he has made a fortune — which we hope is 
a large one — some say by tea, or, according^ 
to another school of thinkers, by indigo. 
The question, still unsettled, belongs ta 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 3 

those open controversies, like the author- 
ship of " Junius," or the identity of the 
" Claimant," which vex the souls of his- 
torians and tap-room orators. The only- 
other remarkable points about this novice 
were that his hair was quite straight, 
and that, although he was yet, as I have 
said, not much more than thirty, the corners 
of his eyes were already provided with a 
curious and multitudinous collection of 
crows' feet, the puckers, lines, spiders* 
webs, and map-like rills of which lent his 
face an incongruous expression, partly of 
surprise, partly of humour, partly of craft 
and subtlety. The rapid years of modern 
life, though his had been spent in the quiet 
of the North-west Provinces, had in his 
case, instead of tearing the hair off temples 
and top, or making him prematurely grey, 
as happens to some shepherds, marked 
him in this singular fashion. 

The reasons why you cannot see things 
as clearly as I have described them are 
that it is past nine o'clock on an evening 
in July; that the hall is lighted chiefly by 

I — 2 



4 THE MOXKS OF THELEMA. 

upper windows which form a sort of cle- 
restory ; that most of the glass is painted ; 
that what amber twilight of a summer 
evening can get in is caught in the black 
depths of a fifteenth century roof, across 
which stretches a whole forest of timber, a 
marvel of intricate beams ; or falls upon 
tapestry, carpets, and the dull canvas of por- 
traits which swallow it all up. In the east, 
behind the pair who wait, is a rose window 
emblazoned with the arms and crest, re- 
peated in every light, of the great House 
of Dunlop. Looking straight before them, 
the expectants could make out nothing at 
all except black shadows, which might 
mean instruments of torture. Half way 
up the wall there ran a row of tiny gas- 
jets, which had been lighted, but were now 
turned down to little points of blue flame, 
pretty to look at, but of no value as 
illuminators. 

Over their heads was an organ-loft, in 
which sat a musician playing some soft 
and melodious sort of prelude. Of course 
there were liijhts in the oro-an-loft ; but 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 5 

there was a curtain behind him, while in 
front the organ, cased in black woodwork 
of the last century, rich with precious 
carvings, was capable of absorbing, without 
reflection, all the light, whether from 
candles, gas, oxyhydrogen, electricity, or 
magnesium wire, which modern science 
might bring to play upon it. So that no 
good came out of the organ-loft lights. 

The minutes passed by, but no one 
came to relieve their meditation and 
suspense. The soft music, the great dark 
hall, the strange light in the painted glass, 
the row of tiny gas-jets, the novelty of the 
situation, produced a feeling as if they 
were in a church where the organist's mind 
was running upon secular things, or else on 
the stage at the opera waiting for the pro- 
cession to begin. An odd feeline — such a 
feeling as must have passed over the minds 
of a City congregation two centuries and a 
half ago, when their Puritan ministers took 
for Church use the tunes which once de- 
lighted a court, and therefore belonged 
to the Devil. 



6 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

The girl heaved a sigh of suspense, and 
her companion, who had all this time looked 
straight before him without daring to break 
upon the silence, or to look at his partner 
in this momentous ceremony, looked round. 
This is what he would have seen had the 
light been stronger ; as it was, the poor 
man had to content himself wath a har- 
mony in twilight. 

She wore, being a young lady who paid 
the very greatest attention to the subject 
of dress, as every young lady, outside 
Girton and Merton, ever should do, some 
sweet-looking light evening dress, all 
cloudy with lace and trimmings, set about 
with every kind of needlework art, looped 
up, tied round, and adorned in the quaint 
and pretty fashion of the very last year of 
grace, eighteen hundred and seventy- 
five. She wore a moss-rose in her dark 
hair, and had a simple gold locket hanging 
round her neck by a light Indian chain. 
She is tall, and, as is evident from the pose 
of her figure, she isgracieuse; she is shapely 
of limb, as you can see from the white arm 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 7 

which gleams in the twilight ; she has 
delicately-cut features, in which the lips, 
as mobile as the tiny wavelets of a brook, 
dimple and curve at every passing emo- 
tion, like the pale lights of an electric 
battery ; her eyes do most of her talking, 
and show all her moods — no hypocritical 
eyes are these — eyes which laugh and cry, 
are indignant, sorry, petulant, saucy, and 
pitiful, not in obedience to the will of their 
mistress whom they betray, but in accord- 
ance with some secret compact made with 
her heart. Give her a clear-cut nose, 
rather short than long ; a dainty little coral 
of an ear, a chin rather pointed, and. an 
oval face — you have, as a whole, a girl who 
in her face, her figure, the grace of her 
bearing, would pass for a French girl, and 
who yet in language and ideas was Eng- 
lish. Her godfather called her Eleanor, 
which proved much too stately a name for 
her, and so her friends always call her 
Nelly. Her father, while he breathed 
these upper airs, was a soldier, and his 
name was Colonel Despard. 



8 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

Taking courage from the sigh, Roger 
Exton tried to begin a little conversation. 

^' They keep us waiting an unconscion- 
able time," he said. '' Are you not tired ?" 

^^ This is the half-hour for meditation," 
she replied gravely. " You ought to be 
meditating." 

^' I am," he said, suppressing a strong 
desire to yawn. " I am meditating." 

/^ Then please do not Interrupt my med- 
itations," she answered, with a little light 
of mischief in her eyes. 

So he was silent again for a space. 

" Do you happen to know," the man 
began again — men are always so Impatient 
— " Do you happen to know what they will 
do to us in the ceremony of reception ?" 

*' Tom — I mean, Mr. Caledon, refused to- 
tell me anything about it, when I asked 
him." 

'' I hope," he said, fidgeting about, ''that 
there will be no Masonic nonsense ; if 
there is, I shall go back to the world." 

'' I presume," she said, '' though I do- 
not know anything about it, really — but I 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 9 

expect that the Sisters will give us the 
kiss of fraternity, and that " 

'* If," he Interrupted her — "If we have 
only got to kiss each other, it would be a 
ceremony much too simple to need all thi^ 
mystery. After all, most mysteries wrap 
up something very elementary. They say. 
the Masons have got nothing to give you 
but a word and a grip. The kiss of fra- 
ternity — that will be very charming." 

He looked as if he thought they might 
begin at once, before the others came ; but 
the girl made no reply, and just then the 
organ, which had dropped into a low 
whisper of melodious sound, which was 
rolling and rumbling among the rafters 
In the roof over their heads, suddenly 
crashed into a triumphant march. At the 
same moment, the .long row of starlike 
flame-dots sprang into a brilliant Illumina- 
tion : the double doors at the lower end 
of the hall, at the side opposite to that 
where was placed the stool of repentance, 
were flung open, and a procession began, 
at the appearance of which both novices 



lo THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

sprang to their feet, as if they were in a 
church. 

And then, too, the hall became visible 
with all its adornments. 

It was a grand old hall which had once 
belonged to the original Abbey which 
Henry VIII. presented to the Dunlop who 
graced his reign. It was as large as the hall 
of Hampton Court ; it was lit by a row of 
windows high up, beneath which hung 
tapestry, by a large rose window in the 
east, and a great perpendicular window in 
the west. There was a gallery below the 
rose, and the organ was in a recess of 
pi^atiqite in the wall at the lower end. 
Along the wall at the upper, or western 
end, was a row of stalls in carved wood- 
work ; the wood was old, but the stalls were 
new. There were twenty in all, and over 
each hung a silken banner with a coat of 
arms. Each was approached by three 
steps, and each, with its canopy of carved 
wood, its seat and arms in carved wood, the 
gay banner above it, and the coat of arms 
painted and gilded at the back, might have 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. ii 

served for the Royal Chapel at Windsor. 
Between the windows and above the 
tapestry were trophies of arms, with ant- 
lers^ and portraits. And on the north side 
stood the great fireplace, sunk back six 
feet and more in the wall ; around it were 
more wood carvings, with shields, bunches 
of grapes, coats of arms in gold and purple, 
pilasters and pediments, a very precious 
piece of carving. There was a dais along 
the western end ; on this stood a throne, 
fitted with a canopy, and overlaid with purple 
velvet fringed with gold. On the right 
and left of the throne stood two chairs in 
crimson velvet, before each a table ; and 
on one table were books. I n the centre of the 
hall was another table covered with crimson 
velvet,, in front of which was a long cushion 
as if for kneeling. In front of the candi- 
dates for reception was a bar covered 
with velvet of the same colour. 

The novices took in these arrangements 
with hasty eyes, and then turned to the 
procession, which began to file slowly and 
with fitting solemnity over the polished floor 



12 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

of the long hall. The organ pealed out 
the march from " Scipio." 

*' I haven't heard that," said the man, 
^' since I was at Winchester, they used to 
play it when the judges came to church." 

First there walked a row, in double file, 
of boys clad in purple surplices, with crim- 
son hoods ; they carried flowers in baskets. 
After them came twenty young men in 
long blue robes, tied round the waist with 
scarlet ropes ; they carried books, which 
might have been music-books, and these 
were singing-men and serving-men. After 
them, at due intervals, came the Brethren 
and Sisters of the monastery. 

There were eighteen in all, and they 
walked two by two, every Brother leading a 
Sister by the hand. The Sisters were 
dressed in white, and wore hoods ; but 
the white dresses were of satin, decorated 
with all the splendours that needle and 
thimble can bestow, and the hoods were of 
crimson, hanging about their necks some- 
thing like the scarlet hood of a Doctor of 
Divinity. If the white satin and the crim- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 13 

son hood were worn in obedience to the 
sumptuary customs of the Order, no sump- 
tuary law prohibited such other deco- 
rations as might suggest themselves to the 
taste of the wearer. And there were such 
things in adornment as would require the 
pen of a poetical Worth to portray. For 
some wore diamond sprays, and some ruby 
necklaces, and others bracelets bright with 
the furtive smile of opals ; and there were 
flowers in their hair and in their dresses — 
long ropes of flowers trailing like living 
serpents over the contours of their figures, 
and adown the long train which a page 
carried for each. As the two novices 
gazed, there was a gleaming of white arms, 
and a brightness of sparkling eyes, an over- 
shadowing sense of beauty, as if Venus 
Victrix for once was showing all that could 
be shown in grace and loveliness, which 
made the brain of one of these novices to 
reel, and his feet to stagger ; and the eyes 
of the other to dilate with longing and 
wonder. 

'' It is too beautiful," she murmured. 



14 THE MONKS OF THE LE AT A. 

**See, there is Tom, and he leads Mi- 
randa." 

They were all young and all beautiful, 
these nine women, except one who was 
neither young nor beautiful. She was cer- 
tainly past forty, and might have been past 
fifty ; she was pordy in figure ; she was 
dressed more simply than the rest of her 
Sisters, and she walked with an assumption 
of stately dignity ; but her face was comely 
still and sweet in expression, though years 
had effaced the beauty of its lines. The 
Brother who led her — a young man who 
had a long silky brown beard and blue 
eyes — wore a grave and pre-occupied look, 
as if he was going to take a prominent part 
in the function, and was not certain of his 
part. 

All the Brethren were young, none cer- 
tainly over thirty ; they were dressed alike 
in black velvet, of a fashion never seen ex- 
cept perhaps on the stage ; and they, too, 
wore crimson hoods, and a cord of crimson 
round the waist. 

Last came the Lady Abbess — the Mi- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 15 

randa of whom the novice had spoken. 
She was young, not more than one or two 
and twenty ; she wore the white satin and 
the crimson hood, and in addition, she car- 
ried a heavy gold chain round her neck, 
with a jewel hanging from it on her bosom. 
She, too, by virtue of her office, advanced 
with much gravity and even solemnity, led 
by her cavalier. Two pages bore her 
train, and she was the last in the procession. 
The doors closed behind her, and a stal- 
wart man clad in white leather and crimson 
sash stood before the door, sword in hand, 
as if to guard the meeting from interrup- 
tion. 

The Brethren and Sisters proceeded to 
their respective stalls ; the elder Sister was 
led to the table on the right of the throne, 
the Brother who conducted her took his 
place at that on the left ; two stewards 
ranged themselves beside the two tables, 
and took up white wands of office ; the boys 
laid their flowers at the feet of every Sister, 
and then fell into place in rows below the 
stalls, while the Lady Miranda, led by that 



1 6 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Brother whom the novice Irreverently called 
Tom, mounted the throne and looked 
around. Then she touched a bell, and the 
armed janitor, laying down his sword, 
struck a eone once. The echoes of the 
gong went rolling and booming among the 
rafters of the roof, and had not died away 
before the organ once more began. It was 
the opening hymn appointed to be sung on 
the reception of a pair of novices. 

" You who would take our simple vows, 
Which cause no sorrow after, 
Bring with you to this holy house, 
No gifts, but joy and laughter. 

" Outside the gate, where worldlings wait, 
Leave envies, cares, and malice. 
And at our feast, with kindly breast. 
Drink love from wisdom's chalice. 

^' No lying face, no scandal base, 

No whispering tongue is found here ; 
But maid and swain with golden chain 
Of kindliness are bound here. 

*'- To charm with mirth, with wit and worth, 
My Sister, is thy duty ; 
Bring thou thy share of this good fare, 
Set round with grace and beauty. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 17 

" And thine, O Brother ? Ask thy heart 

Its best response to render ; 
And in the fray of wit and play, 
And in the throng of dance and song, 
Or when we walk in sober talk, 

No borrower be, but lender. 

" Stay, both, or go : free are ye still, 
So that ye rest contented ; 
No Sister stays against her will, 
Though none goes unlamented. 

" And, last, to show where here below 
True wisdom's only ease is. 
Read evermore, above our door, 
* Here each does what he pleases.' " 

The first four lines were sung as a solo 
by a sweet-voiced boy — the first treble, in 
fact, in the Cathedral choir three or four miles 
away. The rest was sung as a four-part 
song by the full choir, which was largely 
recruited from the Cathedral, not altogether 
with the sanction of the chapter. But re- 
ceptions were rare. 

When the organ began its prelude, two 
of the attendants with white wands ad- 
vanced side by side and bowed before the 
novices, inviting them to step forward. 
The man, whose face betokened entire ap- 

VOL. I. 2 



i8 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

proval so far of the ceremonies, offered his 
hand to the girl, and with as much dignity 
as plain evening dress allows, which was, he 
felt, nothing compared with the dignity con- 
ferred by the costume of the Brothers, led 
the new Sister within the bar to the place 
indicated by the stewards, namely, the 
small altar-like table. 

Then they listened while the choir sang 
the hymn. The Brothers and Sisters were 
standing each in their stall ; the Lady 
Superior was standing under her canopy. 
It was like a religious ceremony. 

When the last notes died away, the 
Lady Superior spoke sofdy, addressing the 
Brother at the low table on her left. 

'^ Our orator," she said, '' will charge the 
novices." 

The Brother, who was the man with the 
blue eyes and brown beard, bowed, and 
stepped to the right of the throne. 

" Brethren and Sisters," said the Lady 
Abbess, '' be seated." 

" It is our duty," began the orator, '' at 
the reception of every new novice, to set 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 19 

forth the reasons for our existence and the 
apology for our rites. Listen. We were 
founded four hundred years ago by a monk 
of great celebrity and renown, Brother 
Jean des Entommeures. The code of 
laws which he laid down for the newly es- 
tablished Order of Thelemites is still main- 
tained among us, with certain small devia- 
tions, due to change in fashion, not in 
principle. In externals only have we ven- 
tured to make any alterations. The rules 
of the Order are few. Thus, whereas in 
all other monasteries and convents, every- 
thing is done by strict rule, and at certain 
times, we, for our part, have no bells, no 
clocks, and no rules of daily life. The 
only bell heard within this convent is that 
cheerful gong with which we announce the 
serving of dinner in the refectory. Again, 
whereas all other monasteries are walled 
in and kept secluded, our illustrious founder 
would have no wall around his Abbey; 
and, whereas it was formerly the custom to 
shut up in the convents those who, by 
reason of their lacking wit, comeliness, 

2 — 2 



20 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

courage, health, or beauty, were of no 
use in the outer world, so it was ordered 
by the founder that to the Abbey of 
Thelema none should be admitted but 
such women as were fair and of sweet 
disposition, nor any man but such as was 
well-conditioned and of good manners. 
And again, whereas in other convents 
some are for men and some for women, 
in this Abbey of Thelema men and 
women should be admitted to dwell to- 
gether, in such honourable and seemly 
wise as befits gentlemen and gentle- 
women ; and if there were no men, there 
should be no women. And, as regards 
the three vows taken by monks and nuns 
of religion, those assumed by this new 
fraternity should be also three, but that 
they should be vows of permission to 
marry, to be rich, if the Lord will, and 
to live at liberty. 

" These, with other minor points, were 
the guiding principles of the Thelemites 
of old, as they are those of our modern 
Order. It is presumed from the silence 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 21 

of history, that the Abbey founded by 
Brother Jean des Entommeures fell a 
prey to the troubles which shortly after 
befell France. The original Abbey 
perished, leaving the germs and seeds 
of its principles lying in the hearts of a 
few. We do not claim an unbroken suc- 
cession of abbots and abbesses ; but we 
maintain that the ideas first originated 
with our founder have never died. 

" Here you will find " — the orator's 
voice deepened — ''none of the greater or 
the lesser enemies to culture and society. 
The common bawling Cad will not be 
more rigorously exiled from our house 
than that creeping caterpillar of society, 
who crawls his ignoble way upwards, 
destroying the tender leaves of reputation 
as he goes. The Pretender has never 
in any one of his numerous disguises, 
succeeded in forcing an entrance here. 
By her Ithuriel wand, the Lady Miranda, 
our Abbess, detects such, and waves 
them away. The fair fame of ladies and 
the honour of men are not defamed by 



22 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

our Brethren. We have no care to climb 
higher up the social scale. We have no 
care to fight for more money, and soil 
our hands with those who wrestle in the 
dusty arena. We do not fill our halls 
with lions and those who roar. We are 
content to admire great men, travellers, 
authors, and poets, at a distance, where, 
steeped in the mists of imagination, we 
think they look larger. We do not 
wrangle over religion or expect a new gos- 
pel whenever a new magazine is started, 
whenever a new preacher catches the town 
ear, and whenever a new poet strikes an 
unaccustomed strain. And we are thank- 
ful for what we get. 

" Newly-elected Sister 1 newly-elected 
Brother ! know that you have been long 
watched and carefully considered before we 
took upon ourselves the responsibility of 
your election. You did not seek election, 
it was conferred upon you ; you did not 
ask, it was given. We have found in you 
sympathy with others, modesty in self- 
assertion, good breeding, and a sufficiency 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 23 

of culture. We have found that you can 
be happy if you are in the atmosphere of 
happiness ; that you can be spirituels with- 
out being cynical, that you are fonder of 
bestowing praise than censure, that you 
love not downcriers, enviers, and back- 
biters, that you can leave for a time the 
outer world, put aside such ambitions as 
you have, and while you are here live the life 
of a grown-up child. We welcome you." 

He descended from the throne, and ad- 
vancing to the table offered his hand to the 
young lady. 

" Eleanor Despard," he said, " at this 
bar you leave your name and assume 
another to be known only within our walls. 
Brethren and Sisters of Thelema, you 
know this novice ; give her a name." 

The Sister at the right of the throne — 
the one who was no longer young — called 
a steward, who took cards in a salver from 
her and distributed them among the frater- 
nity. There was a little whispering and 
laughing, but when the steward went round 
to collect the cards, they were all filled up. 



24 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

The list of proposed names was various. 
One wrote Atalanta, and there was laugh- 
ter and applause, and Nelly looked sur- 
prised. Another wrote Maud, "because 
there is none like her ;" then Nelly looked 
at the Brother whom she had called Tom, 
and smiled. Anotherproposed Haydee ; but 
when Sister Desdemona read out the name 
of Rosalind, there was a general acclama- 
tion, and it was clear what her name was to 
be. The officiating Brother led her to the 
Abbess. She mounted the three steps and 
knelt before the throne, while the Abbess 
bent over her, took her hands in her own, 
and kissed her lips and forehead. 

" Rise, Sister Rosalind," she said, " be 
welcome to our love and sisterhood." 

Then Sister Desdemona beckoned an- 
other steward, who came forward bearing 
a train and crimson hood. 

*^ Sister Rosalind," said the elderly Sis- 
ter, '' I am the registrar of the convent. 
You must sign your name in our book, and 
subscribe our vows. They are, as you 
have heard, three. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 25 

" First, * I declare that I make no vow 
aofainst the honourable and desirable con- 
dition of wedlock ; that I will not defame 
the sweet name of love, and that I will 
never pledge myself to live alone.' " 

Sister Rosalind blushed prettily and 
signed this vow, the light dancing in her 
eyes. 

" The second vow is this : ' Seeing that 
riches give delight to life, and procure the 
means of culture and joy, I vow to take 
joyfully whatever wealth the Heavens may 
send.' " 

Rosalind made no objection to signing 
this vow also. 

" The third and last vow is as follows : 
* I will be bound while in this place by 
no conventional rules ; in the Abbey of 
Thelema I vow to live as I please. What 
honour and gentlehood permit, that will I 
do or say.' " 

Rosalind signed the third. 

Then Desdemona produced a box. 

*' In this box," she said, " is the ring of 
fraternity. I put it on the third finger of 



26 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

your left hand. Here also is the collar of 
the Order; I place it round your neck. 
Upon your shoulders I hang the mantle 
and the hood ; around your waist I tie the 
crimson cord of our fraternity. Kiss 
me, my Sister ; we are henceforth bound 
together by the vows of Thelema." 

Thus equipped, Sister Rosalind again 
took the hand of her leader, and was by 
him presented solemnly to each Sister in 
turn, receiving from each the kiss of wel- 
come. 

" This is a splendid beginning,'' said the 
other novice to himself, standing at the bar 
alone ; ** I wish my turn were come." 

The Brothers did not, however, he 
noticed with sorrow, salute their new 
Sister on the lips, but on the hand. 

The presentation finished, the Brother 
led Sister Rosalind to her stall, over which 
hung, as over a stall in St. George's 
Chapel, the silken banner wrought with her 
coat of arms and crest ; and behind the 
throne two trumpeters blared out a triumph- 
ant roar of welcome. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, Tt 

Then it was the turn of the other. 

The orator went through the same cere- 
mony. First the stewards sent round the 
cards, and names were suggested. 

There were several. One said Brother 
Panurge, and another Brother Shandy, 
and another Brother Touchstone ; and the 
one on which they finally agreed was 
Brother Peregrine. 

Contrary to reasonable expectation, the 
newly-elected Brother Peregrine was not 
saluted on the lips by the Abbess or by any 
of the Sisters. As a substitution of that 
part of the ceremonial, he received a hand 
of each to kiss, and then the trumpeters 
blew another blast of welcome. 

Just then the organ began again playing 
softly, like music in a melodrama, while the 
orator again stood beside the throne, and 
prepared to speak. 

" Brothers and Sisters," he said, " we 
have this evening admitted two more, a 
man and a woman, to share our pleasures 
and our sports. Be kind to them ; be con- 
siderate of their weaknesses ; make your- 



2S THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

selves loved by them ; encourage them in 
the cultivation of the arts which make our 
modern Thelema worthy of its illustrious 
founder, those, namely, of thought for the 
joy of others, innocent pleasure in the 
delights which we can offer, and ingenious 
devices of sport and play. And all of us 
remember, that as the Egyptians, so we 
have our skeleton." 

He pointed to the throne. A steward 
drew back a curtain, and showed, sitting on 
the same seat as the Abbess, a skeleton 
crowned, and with a sceptre in its hand. 

" We have this always with us. It sad- 
dens joys which else might become a rap- 
ture ; it sobers mirth which else might pass 
all bounds ; it bids us live while we may. 
Brethren and Sisters, at each reception 
this curtain is drawn aside, to remind us of 
what we may not forget, but do not speak. 
Lady Abbess, I have spoken." 

He bowed low and retired. 

The Abbess rose slowly. Her white 
satin, her crimson mantle, her lace, the 
bright cord round her waist, the spray 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 2^ 

of diamonds In her hair, her own bright 
eyes, and sweet grave face, contrasted 
against the white and crouching skeleton 
beside her. 

" My Brothers and Sisters," she said, 
** there remains but one thing more ; you 
have heard that our founder was the illus- 
trious Friar Jean des Entommeures. It is 
true ; but the creator of that monk, the real 
designer of our Abbey, was a far greater 
man. Let us drink in solemn silence to the 
memory of the Master." One of the stew- 
ards bore a golden cup to every Brother 
and Sister, and another filled it with cham- 
pagne. 

Then the organ pealed and the trumpets 
brayed, and as the Abbess bowed from the 
throne, an electric light fell full upon a 
marble bust which Rosalind had not seen 
before. It was on a marble pillar at the 
end of the hall. It was the bust of the 
great Master — Francois Rabelais himself — 
and beneath it were the words in golden 
letters, 

" FAY CE QUE VOULDRAS." 



CHAPTER II. 

" These delights if thou canst give, 
Mirth, with thee I mean to live." 

After the reception, it was only natural 
that a ball should follow. By the time the 
first guests arrived the throne had been 
carried away ; the crowned skeleton was 
removed to the place where such memen- 
toes should be — a cupboard. All the 
properties of the recent ceremony — the red 
velvet bar, the tables and carpets, had been 
put away out of sight. Only the stalls re- 
mained, with their beautiful carved work in 
wood, and these were stripped of cushions, 
crimson carpets, and banners. The hall, 
save for the rout-stools, was absolutely 
empty; the organ-loft was dark, and the 
band were collected in the music-gallery, 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 31 

"which ran along the east end of the hall, 
waiting for the dancing to begin. 

There was no one to receive people; 
because none of the Order were present. 
But when a thin gathering of guests had 
arrived, the band struck up the opening 
quadrille. 

It was not a large ball, because the num- 
ber of possible invitis was limited. Given a 
country place, four or five miles from a small 
Cathedral town, in a district where pro- 
perties are large and owners few ; given the 
season of mid-July, the possibilities of 
selection do not look promising. There 
was, however, the Vicar, with his wife and 
three daughters. This particular Vicar, 
unlike many of his reverend brethren, did 
not regard social gatherings, when young 
people dance, as a Witches' Sabbath of the 
Black Forest. He had in his early man- 
hood perpetrated a play, which had been 
actually brought out, and which ran success- 
fully for five-and-twenty nights, once a fair 
run. He had the courage to justify this 
wickedness by always going to the theatre 
when he went up to London, and by attend- 



32 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

ing, officially as the Vicar of Weyland, what- 
ever was going on in the country. '^ Why 
should a man," he was wont to say, " who 
has taken orders, pretend to give up one 
of the joys of the world, and keep the rest ? 
Why should he go to a dinner and decline 
a dance ? Why should he listen to a con- 
cert, and refuse to listen to an opera ? 
Why should he read novels, and refuse to 
see plays ?" As a matter of fact he wrote 
novels himself, under an assumed name. 
Does he not enjoy a feast still, in spite of 
his stiff collar ? He was still ready, himself, 
for any amount of feasting. Does he not 
laugh at a joke ? He himself laughed 
much, and made many jokes. He spoke 
good common sense ; but I do not desire 
to see the black brigade in theatres, because 
the step is short from taking a part among 
the audience, to taking a part in the manage- 
ment, and then to claiming the whole share, 
so that one shudders to think what the 
stage might come to. The Vicar's daughters 
were pretty ; they dressed in simple white 
frocks, with bright-coloured ribbons ; and 
enjoyed all that could be got in their quiet 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. ^i'i 

and innocent lives. Above all they enjoyed 
an evening like this, when to a delightful 
dance was added the joy of seeing the 
latest freak of the Thelema fraternity. 
There was a Canon of the neighbouring 
Cathedral of Athelston, which furnished, 
besides, a good proportion of the guests. 
The Canon had a daughter who was 
aesthetic, dressed in neutral tints, parted 
her hair on the side, and corrected her 
neighbours in a low voice when they com- 
mitted barbarities in art. She was not 
pretty, but she was full of soul, and she 
longed to be invited to join the Order. 
Then there were half ^a dozen officers 
from the depot twenty miles away, and such 
contributions as the neighbouring county 
houses could furnish. 

" At the last reception," said Lucy Cor- 
rington, the vicar's eldest daughter, to her 
partner, *^when they elected Sister Cecilia 
— Adela Fairfax, you know — they all wore 
the costumes of Henry the Eighth. No 
one ever knows beforehand how they will 
dress." 

VOL. I. 3 



34 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" Are you g"oIng to join the Order,, 
Lucy ?" asked her partner. 

Lucy shook her pretty head. 

" No ! Papa would not Hke It. We are 
quiet people, and poor people too. We 
only look on and applaud. They have 
made the place v^ry lively for us all ; we 
are grateful, and hope it will last. You 
will persuade your son to keep it up, won't 
you, Lord Alwyne ?" 

" As if I had any influence over Alan,'* 
said his father, who was indeed Lucy's 
partner. 

Lord Alwyne Fontaine was the fourth 
son of the fourth Duke of Brecknock. The 
red book told everybody what he could not 
believe, and yet could not deny — that he 
was fifty-five years of age. How could he 
be fifty-five ? It was incredible. He was a 
man of moderate height, rather thin, and he 
had a face still youthful. His hair had gone 
off his temples, and was more than a little 
thin on the top. But these accidents happen 
to quite young fellows, say of forty, and 
are not at all to be taken as signs of age. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 35 

His expression was uniformly one of great 
good humour and content, that of a 
man who had experienced no troubles, 
managed the conduct of life without excess, 
and yet with no solution in the continuity of 
pleasure, who had not hardened his heart 
by enjoyments purely selfish, and who still 
at five-and-fifty looked around him with as 
keen an eye as thirty years before ; who 
was ready to enjoy life, and to enjoy it in the 
same way as when he began his career. No 
one ever found Lord Alwyne bored, out of 
temper, or blase. No one ever heard him 
complain. No one ever heard him pour out 
the malicious theories in which some of his 
contemporaries rejoiced ; he possessed those 
most inestimable qualities for a man of 
wealth, contentment of mind, a good heart, 
and an excellent digestion. 

" I have not seen Alan yet," he went on. 
"In fact I came down chiefly by invitation 
of Nelly Despard. She wanted me to see 
her in all her grandeur. When do they 
come in ?" 

" Directly," said Lucy. " They are 



36 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

never much later than half-past ten. Will 
not Nelly look beautiful ? Here they 
come !" 

In fact, as the clock struck half-past ten, 
the band, which had just finished a 
quadrille, burst out into a grand triumphal 
march ; no other, in fact, than Liszt's 
** March of the Crusaders." The doors at 
the end of the hall were flung open, and 
the Monks and Sisters of Thelema entered 
in grand procession. 

The guests ranged themselves in double 
line as the procession advanced, and when 
it reached the middle of the hall, they 
formed a circle round them. It was not 
quite the same procession as that of the 
reception. There were no choir boys or 
singing men ; there were only two stewards. 
Sister Rosalind, the newly received, came 
first, after the stewards. She was dressed 
now, like all the rest, in white satin. 
She was led by Brother Lancelot, whom 
she had called Tom, after the manner of 
the world ; and she bore herself bravely 
under the eyes of the multitude, who 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 27 

laughed and clapped their hands. The 
costumes were the same as at the re- 
ception. 

^' Let us talk all the scandal we can 
about them all, Lucy," whispered Lord 
Alwyne. 

Lucy laughed. 

*' For shame ! There is Nelly. Did 
you ever see any one look so charming as 
Nelly ? To be sure, she is always per- 
fectly lovely, with her bright eyes and her 
beautiful oval face." 

Lucy sighed in thinking of her own 
chubby cheeks and apple face, which she 
was disposed to deprecate at sight of Nelly's 
more unusual style of beauty. 

*'See, that is the collar of the Order 
which she wears round her neck ; and that 
crimson cord round her waist is the girdle 
of the Order. They have christened her 
Sister Rosalind. You know their motto, 
do you not ? ' Fay ce que vouldras ' — 
Do what you please. What a motto for a 
nun ! And then, you know Tom Caledon, 
who leads her by the hand. Poor Tom ! 



33 THE MOXKS OF THELEMA, 

They call him Brother Lancelot in the 
Abbey. Everybody knows that he is des- 
perately in love with Nelly, and she can't 
marry him, poor fellow, because he has 
no money, or not enough. Everybody is 
sorry for Tom." 

'* I dare say Tom will grow out of it," 
said the man of the world. '' Love is a 
passion which improves with age — loses its 
fiery character, and grows mellow." 

Lucy looked as if she didn't believe that 
story, and went on : 

*' There is your son, Lord Alwyne, lead- 
ing Sister Desdemona." 

'* I see him. What is Alan's name in 
relig — I mean in the Order ?" 

" They call him Brother Hamlet, I be- 
Jieve, because no one can understand what 
he will do next." 

" A very good name. I am glad the 
boy has got fun enough in him to enjoy a 
little fooling. And I am very glad that he 
is taking care of Desdemona." 

" Do you know her, Lord Alwyne ?" 

" I remember her coming out at the 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 39 

Haymajrket thirty years ago, in * Othello/ 
She was Clairette Fanshawe. What a 
lovely Desdemona she made ! And how 
the men went mad after her ! Poor Glal- 
rette ! She threw us all over, and married 
some fellow called Dubber, who lived on 
her salary, and, I believe, used to beat her. 
P'our or five years later, lier friends arranged 
a separation, and she retired from the stage. 
She has had a sad experience of life, poor 
Desdemona ! Dubber succumbed to drink." 
"She is the directress and designer of 
all their fetes," Lucy went on. " She is 
indispensable. And they all do exactly 
what she. orders. The next are Brother 
Mercutio and Sister Audrey. They are 
a handsome couple, and if they could only 
agree for an hour together, they would 
marry, I believe. But then they hold 
opposite opinions on every conceivable 
subject, and conduct two weekly papers, in 
v;hich they advocate their own ideas. So 
that if they married they would have to 
give up the very chief pleasure of their 
lives — to wrangle with each other." 



40 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

"' Not at all, my dear child/' said Lord 
Alwyne, ^^ not at all. Let me disabuse 
your mind of that fact. I have known 
many most excellent people, whose only 
pleasure after marriage was to quarrel with 
each other; and the more heartily the 
better." 

Lucy shook her head. She preferred 
her simple faith. 

*' There come Brother Benedick and 
Sister Romola. She Is engaged, I believe, 
to a man In India, and he to his cousin 
who is an heiress ; but I should not be 
surprised to learn — oh ! this Is dreadful 
girls' chatter." 

" I like girls' chatter," said Lord Alwyne. 
" My son has got wisdom enough for the 
whole family. Go on, Lucy." 

" Well, then — but I will not give you 
all the Idle gossip. In such a dull place 
as this, we talk about each other all the 
day. The next couple are Bayard and 
Cordelia. Bayard Is a V.C." 

*' I know him," said Lord Alwyne. 

" Then come Parolles and Silvia. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 41 

Brother Parolles is a Fellow of Lothian 
College, you know. He is dreadfitlly 
clever — much too clever for a girl like 
me to talk to. We are afraid of speaking 
in his presence ; and yet he puts us right 
very gently, and only as if he was sorry 
for us. His name is Rondelet/' 

" I know him too," said Lord Alwyne. 
" I met him once at Oxford when Alan 
was up. Now see the advantage we old 
boys have over the young fellows. We 
don't know any science, we don't care 
twopence about the new-fangled things in 
art ; we prefer comfort to aesthetics in 
furniture. . We have quite cold hearts 
towards china " 

*' But you must let us like china a 
little," pleaded the girl. 

"• And we have no belief in reforming the 
world. In a word, my dear young lady, 
we exist only to promote the happiness of 
our youthful friends of your sex." 

^' That is very delightful, I am sure !"^ 
she replied. " Well, there go Crichton 
and Cecilia. He chose his own name^ 



42 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

because he said he knew nothing and could 
•do nothing. And Ceciha plays. That is 
Lesmahago, the tall, thin man with the 
twisted nose ; Una is with him. Then 
Paris and Hero ; and last, the new Brother, 
Peregrine — isn't he a funny-looking man 
with his crinkled face ? he looks as if he 
was going to laugh — leading the Abbess, 
Miranda. Which is the more beautiful, 
Miranda or Nelly?" 

'' I should say, Lucy, that for a steady, 
lasting pattern, warranted to wear, Mi- 
randa's beauty is superior to Nelly's. For 
a surprise, Nelly is incomparable." 

'' Ah ! and then Miranda always looks 
so queenly. She was born for what she is, 
the fair chatelaine of a stately palace." 

" Lucy, you must come up to London 
for a season, if only to rid yourself of a 
most unusual fault in your sex." 
*' What is that. Lord Alwyne ?" 
" You speak well of other girls." 
'' Oh ! but why should I not ? Miranda 
is the most beautiful girl I know ; she is 
not like an ordinary girl." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 43 

'' She was certainly grand in her robes 
last night, and she looked her part as well 
as if she had been all her life an Abbess. 

•'She would not be Abbess at first," 
Lucy went on, " but Mr. Dunlop made it a 
condition of his lending the Court for the 
use of the Order." 

" Hamlet has lucid intervals," said 
Hamlets father — not yet the ghost. 
"•' Tell me who is the new Brother ?" 

'' It is Mr. Roger Exton." 

" Roger Exton ! what Exton ?" Lord 
Alwyne's knowledge of genealogies was 
•extensive and profound, as becomes an 
idle gentleman of ancient lineage. ''There 
are Extons of Yorkshire; is he one of 
them ?" 

"I do not know. He has not long 
■come back from India, where I believe he 
made a fortune. And he has brought out 
.a poem called ' Lalnee and Ramsami, or 
Love among the Assamese.' I have not 
read it, because papa will not send for it ; 
but it is said to be clever." 

" Pity," said Lord Alwyne, " that poets 



44 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

and novelists and such people are not kept 
under lock and key. The illusion Is spoiled 
when you see them. Can't they go about 
under false names ?" 

" They are going to dance. See, 
Miranda eoes out with Tom Caledon. 
She always opens with him, because he is 
the best dancer in England. I waltzed 
with him once at the last reception ball. 
O— oh !" 

If there is any more stately dance, any 
more entirely delightful to watch, than the 
old-fashioned minuet, I should be glad tO' 
hear of it. There is the polonaise : there 
is a certain rhythmic march, whose name I 
do not know, which one sees on the stage : 
there is one single figure in the Lancers — 
the old Greek eutrelacenient of hands, right 
and left, girls one way, the men the other :. 
all three have their beauty. And there is 
the waltz danced by a couple who know 
how to dance, who know that the Teutonic 
rapture is to be got, not out of a senseless 
scramble and a Dervish-like spin-totum 
movement, but by the skilful swift cadences 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 45 

'of feet and figure, when two pairs of feet 
and two figures move together, actuated 
iDy a single will. But the minuet de la coicr 
is an altogether stately and beautiful dance. 
There are suggestions in it — the awaken- 
ing of love, the timidity of the lover, the 
respect due from cavalier to dame, the 
homage of the strong to the weak, the 
courtesy of man to woman — which are 
beautiful to look at when the thing is done 
as it was done by the Order, smoothly and 
perfectly. The best among them, despite 
years and figure, was Sister Desdemona, 
who trod the boards as if they were the 
stage, and took no more account of the 
spectators than If they had been so many 
faces In the stalls, or so many opera- 
glasses in the dress-circle. 

When the minuet was finished, they had 
a grand quadrille ; and then, forming once 
more in procession, the fraternity marched 
down the hall, and disappeared. 

The music struck up a w^altz, and the 
dancing began again. 

Presently the Monks and the Sisters 



46 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

began one by one to come back, this time in 
ordinary evening dress. The Abbess did 
not reappear, nor Brother Hamlet, nor 
Desdemona ; but most of the others came 
in quietly, one by one, after they had 
changed their dress. 

There was a rush for the Sisters. Crafty 
men, who knew all about the customs on 
reception nights, had been careful to fill up 
only the first dances on the card, keeping 
the rest free till the Sisters should appear. 
There could be no doubt In any one's 
mind that the fair Inmates of the Abbey 
were, for the most part, fairer and much more 
desirable than the young ladles who were 
only guests. Not only were the Sisters 
all young, but they were all beautiful, and 
represented nearly every conceivable type 
of beauty. So that, taken together, they 
were contrasts ; and taken separately, they 
were models. And they were all young — 
the united ages of the nine, taking Sister 
Desdemona out of the reckoning, would 
not make two hundred years — and yet they 
were not so young as to be girlish and 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 47 

silly. The charm of the very young lies 
wholly in innocence, ignorance and wonder. 
That soon palls : take in its place the 
charm of a woman who, a girl still, has 
acquired the ideas, the culture, the sense, 
and the esprit which only a year or two of 
the world can give. It is a charm of which 
no man ever yet tired. Across the Chan- 
nel, our unfortunate friends of France can 
only get it in the young married women. 
Hence the lamentable tone of their novels, 
which no doubt represent, not the actual 
life of Paris, but only what daring novelists 
believe, or wish to be, the actual life. 

Certainly no group of ten ladies more 
delightful than the Sisters of Thelema 
could be found in England — and if not in 
England, certainly nowhere else in the 
world. They were not united by any 
bond of common tastes or pursuits, but only 
by the light chain of gentle breeding and 
regard for others. Thus, Sister Silvia was 
a Ritualist, who thought that the oftener 
you go to church the better it is for your 
soul, and that Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley 



4« THE MONKS IF THZLEMA. 

were let off ver)-, ven- cheap, with mere 
roasting. Cecilia, on the other hand, was 
a Catholic, who held Ritualism in the con- 
tempt which is natural to one of the old 
creed. But she kept her opinion behind 
the portals of sight and speech, and did not 
allow it to be apparent In the same 
way, both Silvia and Cecilia hved in 
amit\- and perfect love with Romola, who 
was scientific, had a laborator}% and made 
really dreadful stinks. By the aid of 
these she proposed to cany^ on a crusade 
against ecclesiasticalism among her own 
sex. Una, on the other hand, was artistic. 
She painted, modelled, sketched ; she had 
strong ideas on the subjects of form and 
colour ; she had a tall and slender figure 
which lent itself to almost any costume; 
and she liked heroines of novels to be 
svdtes, lithe, and lissom. Sister Audrey 
was a genius. She went to see all the new 
plays, and she had actually written a play 
all by herself It was ofiered in turn to 
ever}' manager in London. Their excuses 
were different, but their unanimity in de- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 49 

dining to produce it was as wonderful as 
it is always upon the stage. For one 
manager, while regretting his decision very 
much, said that if it wanted anything, there 
was a lack of incident ; and another, that 
the overloading of incident rendered the 
play too heavy for modern dramatic repre- 
sentation ; a third said that the leading in- 
cident was absolutely impossible to be put 
on any stage ; a fourth, that the leading 
incident had been done so often as to be 
quite common and stale ; a fifth, that 
the dialogue, though natural, was tame ; 
a sixth, that , the cut-and-thrust repartee 
and epigram with which the dialogue 
was crammed, gave the whole too laboured 
an air. And so, with one consent, the 
managers, lessees, and proprietors refused 
that play. In revenge, the author, who 
was an amateur actress, started it in her 
own company, and represented it v^^henever 
she could get a hearing. There w^as some 
piquancy at the idea of an amateur play 
being given by an amateur company, but 
few of those who saw it once desired to see 
VOL. I. 4 



50 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

it again, and even the company rebelled 
after a time. So that now Sister Audrey 
had only the reputation of an amateur suc- 
cess to go upon. She was planning a 
second play on the great Robertsonian 
model, which, like many other misguided 
creatures, she imagined to consist in 
having no story to tell, and to tell it in 
a series of short barks, with rudenesses 
in place of wit. That was not Robert- 
son's method, but she thought it was. A 
bright, clever girl, who, had she been con- 
tent to cultivate the art of conversation, 
as she did the art of writing, would have 
been priceless. Sister Audrey also wrote 
novels, for the production of which she 
used to pay a generous publisher ^50 
down, and, afterwards, the cost of print- 
ing, binding and advertising, multiplied 
by two. So that she did pretty well in 
literature. In her novels the heroines 
always did things just ever so little un- 
conventional, and always had a lover who 
had, in his early and wild days, been a 
guardsman. He had an immense brown 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 51 

beard, in which she used to bury her 
innocent face, while he showered a thou- 
sand kisses on her tresses. And he was 
always punished by marrying the bad girl, 
who was big and languid, quite heartless, 
and with a taste for port, so that he lived 
ever after a remorseful life, haunted by 
memories of his little Queenie gone broken- 
hearted. 

Another of the Sisters, Cordelia, yearned 
to see w^omankind at work ; broke her 
heart over committees and meetings for 
finding them proper work ; lamented be- 
cause none. of them wanted to work; and 
because, after they had put their hands to 
the plough, most of them turned back and 
sat down by the fire, nursing babies. This 
seemed very sad to Cordelia. 

Hero, again — she was a little bright- 
faced girl, not looking a bit fierce — was a 
worshipper of " advanced " women. She 
admired the " courage " of those who get 
up on platforms and lecture on delicate 
and dangerous topics ; and she refused to 
listen to the scoffer, when he suggested 

4—2 



52 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

that the love of notoriety Is with some 
people stronger than the sense of shame. 

The least remarkable of the Sisters, sa 
far as her personal history was concerned, 
was the Abbess. Miranda had no hobbies. 
And yet she was more popular than any. 
This was due to the charm of her manner, 
which was sympathetic. It Is the charm 
which makes a woman loved as well as 
admired. Everybody confided In her : she 
was the confessor of all the Sisters and a 
good many of the Brothers. 

As for these, we shall make their acquaint- 
ance later on. 

All this time the ball is going on. 

Nelly Despard found her card filled up 
in a few moments, save for two little 
scratches she makes furtively opposite two 
waltzes. She was flushed and excited by 
the strangeness of the whole thing : the 
reception, the minuet de la cour, and the 
ball itself; but the minuet above all. The 
reception was cold, comparatively, because 
there was no audience. For the minuet she 
had a large and appreciative assemblage. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 53 

Tom Caledon presented himself without 
any empressement^ and quite leisurely. 

" Did you think, Tom," she asked, with 
a little inotte, '' did you think that I was 
going to keep my card waiting till you con- 
descended to ask me ?" 

" All gone, Nell ? Not one left ?" 

'* Suppose I have kept two waltzes wait- 
ing for you." 

''Thank you, Nell; I knew I could de- 
pend upon you. You always were a good 
fellow. Which are they ? 

Then she was caught up by her part- 
ner, and disappeared from his sight. 

Tom went wandering round the room 
good-naturedly talking to chaperons, and 
asking wall-flowers to dance with him, and 
presently came his reward — with Nelly. 

Two o'clock in the morning. 

In the supper-room, Lord Alwyne, the 
Vicar, and the Prebendary. 

" The Church should countenance all 
innocent amusements," said the dignitary. 
*' Will you have another glass of cham- 
pagne ?" 



54 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

"• That is true," said Lord Alvvyne ; *' but 
I have looked in vain for a Bishop at a 
Four-in-Hand Meet. It was very pleasant 
fooling to-night — glad to see Alan in it. I 
am going to visit him to-morrow at his cot- 
tage. Fancy the owner of Weyland Court 
living in a labourer's cottage. Fancy a 
man five and twenty years of age — sweet 
five and twenty — with Miranda only half a 
mile away, and this perfect Paradise of 
Houris in his own house, and yet — can he 
be my son ?" 

And at the same time, in another room in 
the Court, Alan Dunlop, Miranda, and 
Desdemona. The two ladies are sitting 
with shawls tied round their heads, at a 
window, opening to the garden. Alan is 
standing half in, half out the room. They 
have forgotten the fooling, and are talking 
gravely. 

" And you are not satisfied, Alan ?" asked 
Miranda. 

" No," he replies, " I am very far indeed 
from being satisfied : everything is going 
badly. I believe everything is worse than 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 55 

when I began ; and I fail more and more 
to enter into their minds. We do not 
understand each other, and every day, the 
possibility of understanding each other 
seems more remote." 

"All this trouble for nothing? It can 
not be, Alan." 

*' I fear it is. But it is late, Miranda; I 
must go and get three hours' sleep. I have 
a thatching job to begin at six." 

He left them, and walked rapidly away 
across the park. 

Desdemona looked after him and sighed. 

" What a pity," she said, taking a different 
view to the poet, '' that he cannot give — to 
one — to a woman — that noble heart which 
he squanders on mankind !" 

But Miranda would not discuss that 
question. 

" Listen," she said ; " that must be the 
last waltz. I almost wish I had gone back 
to the ball. But I wanted to talk to Alan 
quietly. Good-night, dear Desdemona." 



CHAPTER III. 

*' They swore strange oaths and worshipped at strange 
shrines ; 
They mocked at what the vulgar hold for holy : 
They scoffed at teachers, preachers, and divines : 
And taught despair, with cultured melancholy." 

** The only fault In my son, Alan Dunlop," 
said his father, " is that he wants youth. 
He has never been young, and yet he is 
only five and twenty." 

To want youth is a fault which, with 
most of us, grows every day more confirmed. 
It is an incorrigible vice, which only gets 
worse as the years run on. Here indeed 
we are all miserable sinners, and the 
greater the sin, that is, the farther off we 
are from youth, the greater the sorrow. 
Which is as it should be. 

Alan Dunlop as a boy was a dreamer, 
with a strong physique. This impelled 
him into action. The way to make a great 
reformer, is to get a boy whose brain Is like 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 57 

a sponge for the reception of ideas, and 
like a hot-house for their growth ; but when 
his physique is of iron, then you may 
make a bid at a Luther. No use, however, to 
produce boys whose ideas are magnificent, 
and temperaments torpid. He was brought 
up in the country altogether, at Weyland 
Court ; and as his mother foolishly thought 
him delicate, he was educated till eigh- 
teen by private tutors, under her own eyes. 
He was not delicate at all. And one re- 
sult of his training was, that he learned a 
great deal more of books than if he had 
been at Eton ; but had no taste for boys' 
games, and read immensely. By his father's 
orders, he was made, when quite a small 
boy, to ride every day. Riding and walk- 
ing were his only methods of taking exercise. 
His father, however, who spent a large 
part of his time in London, did not otherwise 
interfere ; and on finding how very different 
from himself this son of his was likely to 
turn out, ceased to manifest much interest 
in his education. It was clear that a boy 
who would joyfully spend his whole day 
in reading philosophy and history, who 



58 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

delighted to hear conversation on books, 
and the contents of books, would never 
have many points in common with himself. 
who, as he frankly acknowledged, aimed 
at nothing more elevated than to get out of 
life whatever pleasures a cultivated creature 
can. He found that there are a good many 
pleasures accessible to the man who has 
health, a good digestion, and a longish 
purse ; and he discovered as the years 
went on, that with the drawback of east 
wind in the spring, London offers a larger 
field of amusement than any other spot on 
the habitable globe. To be sure, Lord 
Alwyne Fontaine enjoyed exceptional ad- 
vantages. He was the younger son of a 
Duke. That gave him social position, 
without responsibilities. He received an 
ample younger son's portion. He married 
a beautiful woman — beauty was a neces- 
sity In his scheme of life — who was also an 
heiress. Money was also a necessity in his 
scheme. With his own fortune, his wife's 
fortune, and the splendid estate and rent- 
roll which came to her, there was no- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 59 

obstacle to his gratifying any reasonable 
wish. On the other hand, he did no: go 
on the turf ; nor did any sharks of the green 
table dip into his purse ; nor did he bet, 
save in moderation ; nor did he buy china. 

When his son Alan was eighteen, and 
on the point of entering Lothian College, 
Oxford, his wife died. Weyland Court 
with the broad acres round it passed to the 
son, who took his mother's name. The 
widower, for his share, had all that was left 
of his wife's original fortune. 

Then Lord Alwyne took chambers in 
London, and lived there, seeing little of his 
son, who paid him dutiful visits at the 
beginning of vacations, if he passed through 
town, or when he came up to London, not 
with the frivolous hope of finding amuse- 
ment and innocent sport in the "little 
village, as some undergraduates do, but in 
order to follow out some side-path which 
led in the direction of culture and light, 
generally something to do with Art. 

He was a shy, reserved man, while an 
undergraduate. He joined in none of the 



6o THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

ordinary pursuits of the place ; was not 
seen on the river or in the cricket-field ; 
apparently did not know the meaninor of 
billiards, and would have shrunk in horror 
from such a feast as a freshman's supper- 
party, with songs after it. He rode a good 
deal, but chiefly in a solitary way. He 
furnished his rooms with great sumptuous- 
ness, and was always changing the furni- 
ture for new or old things, as, from time to 
time, he changed his notions of advanced 
taste. He read the customary things, but 
without enthusiasm, and subsequently ob- 
tained a " second." He wrote a good deal 
of verse, and astonished rather than pleased 
himself by getting the Newdigate. 

He was not, however, given over to 
solitude. On the contrary, he lived a great 
deal with his own set. 

This was the set who, in religion, politics, 
the science of life, and literature, possessed 
the advanced ideas. It was the "thought- 
ful" set. This class read Mill, or pre- 
tended to ; read Comte, or pretended to ; 
read Ruskin, and talked about putting his 



THE MOXKS OF THELEMA. 6i 

ideas in practice ; read — which is the 
shortest road nowadays to learning — all 
the reviews on all the new books, so that 
they could talk as if they had read the 
books themselves ; stood before pictures in 
a row for half an hour together, in silence, 
as if the thoughts that arose in them were 
too deep for words ; took up an engraving 
and laid it down with a sigh ; circulated 
little poems, not unlike the sonnets of Mr. 
Rossetti, or the earlier poems of Swin- 
burne, to whom indeed they owed their 
inspiration, which they showed to each 
other, and carried about as if they were 
precious, precious things which only they 
and their set were worthy to receive. 
Mostly the verses turned on events of but 
little interest in themselves, as for instance 
one, written by Rondelet himself, mystic 
and weird, showed how the poet stood 
beneath an archway during a shower, and 
saw a girl, who came there for the same 
purpose, having no umbrella. That was 
all. That was the pathos of it : she had 
no umbrella. Some, of course, were on 



62 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

hazardous subjects, the disciples holding 
the creed, in common with the author of 
"Jenny," that Art can be worthily be- 
stowed upon any subject whatever. They 
read, or affected to read, a good deal of 
certain modern French verse — not Victor 
Hugo's bien entendiL 

When Alan Dunlop was in his second 
year, the Great Movement of the Nine- 
teenth Century began ; at least, that is 
what they called it. I believe it was Alan 
himself who started it. I mean, of course, 
the project for advancing humanity by 
digging ditches and making roads. They 
sallied forth, these pioneers and humanists, 
spade in hand ; they dug and were not a bit 
ashamed : in the evening they came home 
slowly, with backs that ached a great deal, 
with hands blistered where they were not 
horny, and with a prodigious appetite, to 
dine in each other's rooms, talk much about 
the canons of Art, which they thought they 
understood, drank vast quantities of claret, 
spoke judicially on all subjects under the 
sun, sighed and became melancholy over 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 63 

the little poems of which I have spoken, 
and lamented the deplorable ignorance of 
their elders. A distinguishing mark indeed 
of the school was the tender pity with 
which they regarded the outer world ; 
another was their contempt for all other 
views of life or things. If they met men 
who held other views — a thing which will 
happen to even the most exclusive set — 
they sought to overwhelm them with a 
single question — only one. They would 
look up quickly, when there was a pause, 
and fire their one question, after the 
manner of Sokrates, as they spelt his 
name. They did not look for a reply. 
Now and then they got one, and w^ere 
even sometimes held up to public derision 
by some blatant North-countryman, who 
not only would keep his own vile Philistine 
opinion, but also dared to defend it. 

Their leader was Mr. Paul Rondelet, the 
author of most of the little manuscript 
poems. He really was almost too highly 
cultured, so much so that he could not 
possibly avoid pitying his fellow-creatures. 



64 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

He was rather a tall man, with a droop in 
his head ; and he had long white fingers, 
which played plaintively about his face 
while he sat. He spoke in a low voice, as 
if exhausted by the effort of living among 
humans ; and he spoke with melancholy as 
if his superiority were a burden to him ; 
he affected omniscience ; he talked in a 
vague way, but a good deal, about the 
Renaissance — an epoch which his school 
keep botded up all for themselves, as if it 
were to be enjoyed only by the worthy — 
he said that we have only one great living 
poet, Mr. Rossetti ; and one who would be 
great if his meaning were not so plain and 
simple, Mr. Browning. He said also that 
the greatest master of modern English is 
Mr. Pater, and that Mr. Whistler is the 
greatest artist. He shuddered when Ghris- 
tianity was mentioned ; he groaned when 
any one admired any other modern writer, 
poet, or painter. As regards politics, he 
thought a refined despair the only attitude 
worthy of a great intellect, and he wished 
to convey the impression that behind his 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 65 

brow lay infinite possibilities — things — 
which would make the whole world wonder 
when they came to be actually done, could 
he be only — ah ! if only — persuaded to 
pass from meditation to action. He had 
got a First in the History Tripos, and was 
a martinet in historical matters ; went into 
agonies if any one used the word Anglo- 
Saxon ; grew angry over the Holy Roman 
Empire; called Charlemagne, Karl, and 
Lorraine, Lothringen ; spelt his Greek 
words as in the Greek character, and 
startled the unwary by talking of Kuros, 
Thoukudides, Alkibiades, and Korkura ; 
almost ahead of the most advanced line ; 
admitted nothing good except in Germany, 
yet had a secret passion for Zola, Feydeau, 
Belot, and other writers. He had no 
money, being the son of a country vicar, 
with a living of ^500 a year ; and his 
fellowship would expire unless he took 
Holy Orders in a very few years. If it 
had not been for the amazing conceit in 
expression, in attitude, and in voice, Mr. 
Rondelet would have been certainly good- 
VOL. I. 5 



66 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

looking. Nature meant him even to be 
handsome ; too much culture spoiled that 
intention. 

It was, as a matter of fact, a school of 
prigs. The truthful historian cannot deny 
it. Many of them were unhealthy and 
even morbid prigs. Some of them are 
still at Oxford ; but some may now be 
found in London. They lounge about 
sales of china and bric-a-bj^ac, they take 
afternoon tea at the Club, and they worship 
at the Grosvenor Gallery. They are not 
loved by any men that I have come across, 
but are greatly believed in by certain 
women. They are always promising to 
do great things, but nothing ever comes. 
Meantime, they grow daily sadder and yet 
more sad over the wretched stuff which 
the outside world, the babbling, eager, 
•fighting world, calls art, poetry, and 
fiction. 

Alas ! the outside world cares nothine 
for its prigs ; it goes on being amused ; 
it refuses any hearing to people who neither 
amuse nor instruct ; it is, as it ever has 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 67 

been, a world of humanity and not a 
world of prigs. Things there are which 
one cannot understand about these young 
men. What will they be like when they 
grow old ? Why do they all talk so 
much about the Renaissance? And will 
they go on thinking it a proof of superior 
intellect to affect the atheist of the Italian 
scholar type ? Surely the works of Becca- 
delli and Fililfo must pall after a time. 

Alan Dunlop was, as an undergraduate, 
no mean disciple of this academy ; but he 
had saving qualities. He was in earnest, 
while the other men were mostly playing, 
and he had the courage of his convictions. 
He was the last to abandon the sacred task 
of digging ditches and making roads, and 
only gave it up when it became quite clear 
to him that he could do no more good, 
single-spaded, to humanity. Then he be- 
gan to cast about for some other and some 
better way. Nothing was to be too rough 
nothing too difficult ; nothing was to require 
too hard work, if it only was the best thing 
to do. 

5—2 



68 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

He remembered, too, that he was 
wealthy, and with his friends of the exalted 
school, began to talk about the responsi- 
bllltv of wealth. It Is rare and highly re- 
freshing to find a rich man trying to pass 
with all his baggage on his back through 
that narrow archway, Intended solely for 
unladen foot-passengers, known as the 
"Camel's Eye." Man}^, therefore, were 
the discussions held among the small circle 
of Intimate philosophers, as to the duties 
which this responsibility Involved. Prig- 
dom was agitated. As none of them had a 
farthing except Alan, all were agreed on 
the doctrine of self-sacrifice. The advance- 
ment of humanity was to be the aim : the 
means, so far as one set of most superior 
spirits could effect, were to • be the fortune 
of the only rich man among them. There 
were some, Rondelet among them, who 
went so far as to hint at a general division 
of the property, so that Instead of one, 
there might be half-a-dozen apostles. 
Alan Dunlop could not, however, be 
brought to see things in this light, and It 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 69 

was clearly impossible to ask him to divide 
in so many words. 

" There is no work," said Rondelet, who 
would not have gone a step out of his way 
to pick up a fallen man, " that is not hon- 
ourable in the cause of humanity." 

" True," murmured a certain weak 
brother whose faith was small, and who 
afterwards became that thing which young 
Oxford mostly contemns, a clerical fellow, 
and a methodical parish curate. *' True ; 
you remember, by the way, how Jerome 
Paturot, in the sacred cause of humanity, 
blacked the boots of the fraternity." 

" Of course," Rondelet replied, "one 
means real work." 

" Blacking boots is real work, as well as 
digging ditches. Try it for an hour or 
two." 

'' The thing is," said Dunlop, ''■ to find 
what is the best work to do, and then to do 
it, whatever it may be. We have to find 
out, each for himself, our proper place in 
the great army, and our work when we get 
there." 



JO THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" One thing at least is certain," said 
Rondelet loftily ; '' it will be ours to com- 
mand." 

" Sa}^ rather," Dunlop replied, '' to 
lead." 

With that conviction, that his business 
was to lead, he left Oxford. It was not 
a bad conviction for a young man to begin 
the world with. 

His friend, Rondelet, as I have ex- 
plained, was fortunate in obtaining a fellow- 
ship. He remained behind to lecture ; 
sitting sadly, for this was a sort of thing far 
below a man of intellect and culture, in the 
College Chapel ; listening mournfully to 
the talk of the senior Dons, poor harmless 
creatures, contented with the wisdom of 
their forefathers ; commenting to under- 
graduates on Plato with the melancholy 
which comes of finding that all modern 
philosophy and all modern theology are -ex- 
ploded things ; an object of interest to 
some, and of intense dislike to others. As 
most of the undergraduates revolted from 
the new paganism of these young lecturers,. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. yi 

and went over to Ritualism with a tendency 
to become 'verts, Mr. Rondelet grew 
sadder. Also It grew daily into a more 
melancholy subject of reflection with him, 
that unless he took Holy Orders, unless he 
became that despicable thing upon which 
he had poured out so many vials of pity 
and contempt, his fellowship would shortly 
leave him, and he would actually — he — 
Rondelet — become penniless. He, with 
his really cultivated taste for claret, and 
with a love for little dinners in which dining 
was exalted to a fine art, and with a taste 
for all that a young bachelor mostly de- 
sires ! . 

For It Is an extraordinary thing to ob 
serve how the superior class, while they 
can never sufficiently deride and pity the 
British workman who gets drunk — Tom 
and 'Arry who go down to Margate brand- 
ishing bottles of stout, and the honest 
British tradesman who when his income 
expands lets two puddings smoke upon 
the board are of all men the least inclined 
to forego the pleasures of the senses. No 



72 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

anchorites, the prigs of the nineteenth 
century ; and If they do not drink so much 
as their ancestors, it Is that they have dis- 
covered the very much greater pleasure to 
be got by keeping the palate clean, in which 
we had better all Imitate them. 

At two-and-twenty, Alan Dunlop re- 
turned to Weyland Court, eager to start 
upon his career as a regenerator of the 
world. 

How to begin ? 

Miranda, who was now eighteen, and as 
beautiful as the day, was as eager as him- 
self to witness the rapid strides In the 
direction of culture about to be made by 
the peasantry of the place. They held con- 
stant council together. The experiment 
was to be tried by Alan Dunlop on his own 
people first, and, if successful, was to be 
repeated on hers. That was right, because, 
as a girl, she would not enter personally on 
the struggle with such vigour or such 
authority as her friend. She would watch, 
while he worked ; she would make notes 
and compare, and set forth results. > Mean- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 73, 

time, they had no doubt but that in a short 
time the manners of the people would be 
raised almost to their own level. 

" Of course they will give up drink, 
Alan," said Miranda. 

** That must be the first thing. I will 
begin by becoming a teetotaler." Alan 
said this with a sigh, for like the majority 
of mankind, the juice of the grape was 
pleasant unto him. ''We must lead, 
Miranda." 

''Yes." She too sighed, thinking of 
champagne at suppers and luncheons. 

"And smoking too/' added Miranda. 

" Yes, I shall burn all my cigar-cases, 
and turn the smoking-room at the Court 
into an additional study." This, too, was 
a sacrifice, because the "school" at Oxford 
were fond of choice brands. 

*' And they must be encouraged to choose 
subjects of study." 

" Yes," said Alan, "of that we must talk 
very seriously. What should they study 
first ?" 

It was decided that they could not do 



74 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

better then begin with the science of 
Hygiene. 

The two conspirators took a leisurely 
stroll down the village street, which was 
half a mile long, with cottages on either side. 

There was clearly a good deal of work 
before this village could become a city of 
Hygela,and the hearts of both glowed at the 
prospect of tough work before them, just 
as the heart of Hercules must have glowed 
when he smelt and beheld the Augean 
stable; or that of Mr. Gladstone must bound 
with gladness when he stands before some 
more than usually tough monarch of the 
forest, while crowds are there to witness 
his dexterity. 

Miranda Dalmeny, not yet Abbess of 
Thelema, was In one respect like Alan. 
She Avas an heiress, and owner of an 
estate which marched with that of Alan 
Dunlop. Her father was dead, and by 
his death she became at once one of 
the richest girls In a rich county. Her 
house, far inferior In stately grandeur to 
Weyland Court, stood on the edge of Wey- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 75 

land Park. It was called Dalmeny Hall. 
Here she lived with her mother, who was 
an invalid ; a fact which kept her almost 
entirely in the country. And here, from 
infancy, she had known Alan Dunlop. As 
children they walked, ran and rode together; 
as boy and girl they played, quarrelled, 
made it up, and told each other all their 
thoughts. Then came a time when Mir- 
anda, morefeminino, retired wathin herself, 
and felt no longer the desire to pour con- 
fidences into Alan's ear. He, however, went 
on still. So that she followed him through 
his boyish readings ; through the specu- 
lations- with which he amused his tutor in 
the critical age of sixteen to eighteen ; and 
through the realms of impossible culture, 
which his imagination, while an under- 
orraduate, revealed to the astonished o^irl. 

They were, in a way, like brother and 
sister. And yet — and yet — brothers and 
sisters may kiss each other with kisses which 
Hood calls "insipid things, like sandwiches 
of veal." And indeed they do lack a some- 
thing. Brother and sister may know each 



76 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

Other's tendencies and motives without being 
told ; they may tease each other ; they may 
depend upon each other, ask services of 
each other, and exact as well as give. 
Alan Dunlop and Miranda did not kiss 
each other ; they did not exact any service, 
nor did they tease each other, nor did they 
pretend to any knowledge of motive, ten- 
dency, or aim in each other. So far they 
were not brother and sister. Yet they 
always comforted each other with the 
thought that such was their relationship. 
They wrote long letters one to the other, 
and they had long talks, rides, and even- 
ings together. Weyland Court was a dull 
great place for a young man to be in all 
alone ; and he spent most of his time, while 
in the country, at Dalmeny Hall. 

Alan began his grand experiment In 
the advance of humanity with a lecture 
in the school-room. 

The labourers all came, all listened with 
the same stolid stare or closed eyes with 
which they received the Vicar's sermon. 
The Vicar was there, too ; he sat in the 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. -jy 

chair and contemplated the audience with 
a benevolent but incredulous smile. 

When the lecture was over, he began to 
throw cold water, as experienced Vicars 
will, on the young Squire's projects. 

" It was delightful, Alan, and so true,'* 
cried Miranda. 

" Yes, yes !" said the Vicar. ** Did you 
notice their faces, Weyland ?" 

*' Not much, I was thinking of my sub- 
ject." 

*' I did ; they wore exactly the same 
expression as they have in church, during- 
the sermon. My dear boy, I have 
watched them for five and twenty years ; 
I have tried them with every kind of 
sermon, and nothing makes any difference 
with them." 

Miranda looked as If the appearance of 
a young prophet would make all the differ- 
ence. The Vicar understood her look, and 
smiled. 

The lecture had been on the *' Beauty of 
Cleanliness." It will hardly be believed 
that next day not one single attempt was 



78 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

made to improve the village, and yet the 
language of the discourse was worthy of 
Ruskin, an imitation, indeed, of that great 
writer's style. 

This was disheartening^. 

The young Squire tried another lecture, 
and yet another, and a fourth ; yet no out- 
ward improvement was visible. 

" You have sown the seed, Alan," said 
Miranda, consoling him. 

O woman — woman ! when disappoint- 
ment racks the brow ! 

But this was seed which, like mustard 
and cress, ought to come up at once if it 
meant to come up at all. It did not come 
up. 

'' What shall I do ?" Alan asked the 
Vicar. 

" You are young ; you are anxious to do 
the best, and you do not see your way. 
That is all natural. Tell me, Alan, do you 
think that a three years' residence at 
Oxford has been quite enough by itself to 
teach you the great art of managing and 
leading men ? Believe me, there is no task 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 79 

that a man can propose to himself more 
mighty, more worthy or more difficult." 

Alan assented to the objection. 

*' You think I have begun too soon, 
then ? Perhaps a year's more reading — " 

'^ Hang the reading, man ! You have 
begun without comprehending mankind, 
Alan. Put away your books, and look 
around you. Whenever you are trying to 
find out how other people look at things, 
remember that there are a hundred ways 
of looking at everything, and that every 
one of these ways may be burlesqued and 
misrepresented, so as to become contemp- 
tible to ninety-nine men ; but not to the 
hundredth man. That is the important 
thing. You've got to consider that hun- 
dredth man ; you'll find him always turn- 
ing up, and he is, I do assure you, the very 
deuce and all to manage." 

Alan laughed. 

^' xA.nd if I were you, my boy, I would 
travel. See the world. Go by yourself, 
and forget your theories." 

Alan consulted Miranda. She urged him, 



8o THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

because, with womanly insight, she saw 
that he was yet unripe for the task he had 
set himself, to take a year of quiet wander- 
ing. 

'* Travel," the Vicar wrote to Lord 
Alwyne, '* will knock the new-fangled non- 
sense out of his head." 

It would, in fact, do nothing of the kind ; 
it would only modify the new-fangled non- 
sense, and give the traveller new ideas 
with which to mould his schemes. 

Alan packed up his portmanteau, shook 
hands with Miranda, and went away by 
himself. 



CHAPTER IV. 

" Home-keeping youths have ever homely wits." 

'' Once away from England and the new 
crotchets," repeated the Vicar, " Alan will 
come round again." 

" Do you think men ca7i grow out of 
prigdom ?" asked Lord Alwyne plaintively. 

•' Define me a prig," returned the Vicar. 

*' Definition requires thought. It is 
hardly worth the exertion." 

Lord Alwyne sat up, and nerved him- 
self for an effort. 

" Yet you recognise a prig when he 
speaks, just as you know a cad when you 
see him, and before he speaks. Not only 
does the prig approach every subject from 
the point of view peculiar to prigdom : but 
all prigs speak in the same tone. Do you 

VOL. I. 6 



82 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

remember the Oxford prig when we were 
undergraduates ? He had advanced views, 
if I remember right, about episcopal autho- 
rity. He was offensively and ostentatiously 
earnest too. But he was mild — our prig 
was mild — compared to the modern crea- 
tures among whom my unhappy son has 
thrown away his youth. Let us define a 
prig as a man who overdoes everything. 
He becomes a prig because he is not equal 
to his assumed position. He is not, for 
instance, equal to the duties of a critic, and 
falls back upon unquestioned maxims, which 
rule his opinions. And the universal 
maxim among prigs is that no one has a 
right to be heard outside their own body. 
I wonder," he went on with a sigh, " I 
really wonder what unfortunate Oxford 
has done to be so plagued with prigs. 
You go to Cambridge, and you find them 
not — at least, I am told they are rare. At 
Oxford there are two or three gathered 
together in every Common Room." 

*' It is the effect of too much cultivation 
on a weak brain," said the Vicar, '^ and 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 83 

wears off as men get older. Affectations 
never last in theology, literature, or art. 
These young men have nothing new to 
say, and yet desire greatly to seem to have 
something new. So they invent a sort of 
jargon, and call it the only language for 
the expression of the * higher thought !' " 

''Yes," said Lord Alwyne, "everything 
with them is in the comparative degree 
There is the higher thought, the nobler aim, 
the truer method — meaning, I suppose, their 
own thought, and aim, and method. Well 
— well — and so you really think, Vicar, 
that my son will come back improved ; will 
drop the livery of prigdom, and talk and 
think like other people." 

" I am sure he will," said the Vicar con- 
fidently. 

Alan was away for two years. During 
this space of time he went all round the 
world making observations, his object being 
chiefly to discover how best to lead his 
fellow-men. 

First he went to Quebec, On the 
steamer he made the acquaintance of the 

6—2 



84 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

third officer, a man of great experience, who 
had once been admiral in command of the 
fleet of the Imam of Muscat. He resigned 
his appointment because the Imam refused 
to rank him higher than the twenty wives' 
allowance, whereas he stuck out for such 
superior rank as is granted by right to 
forty wives. 

'' Not,'' said the honest fellow, '' that / 
wanted twenty wives, bless you, nor forty 
neither, being of opinion that a sailor gets 
on best when he's got nobody to draw his 
pay but himself. But the honour of my 
country was at stake. So I struck my 
pennant, and came away, and here I am, 
aboard the Corsican, third officer in the 
Dominion Line. That's a drop from an 
admiral, ain't it .^" 

Alan did not remember to have heard 
any of the customs peculiar to Muscat, and 
was surprised to learn that the people were 
most open to influence, and most easily 
persuaded. He asked how that influence 
was maintained. 

*' Give your orders," said the ex-admiral. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 85 

*' If they don't carry out them orders, cut 
their Hvers out." 

This method, however effective, was 
clearly impracticable as regarded Alans 
own tenants. And yet it seemed to him- 
self by no means unsuitable' to the people 
of Muscat. Why was this ? Why should 
a thing good for Muscat be bad for Eng- 
land ? He reflected, however, that he had 
not yet so far schooled himself in the enthu- 
siasm of humanity as to recognise an equal 
in every thick-skulled negro or wily Asiatic. 
So that it could not, really, be good for 
Muscat to cut out livers. 

When he got to Quebec he began to 
make inquiries about the French Canadians. 
They bore the best character in the world. 
They were pious, he was told ; they were 
sober ; they were industrious ; they were 
honest ; they were fond parents of a pro- 
lific offspring. He went among them. 
After, with great difficulty, getting to un- 
derstand their language — their talk is that 
of a country district in Normandy, in the 
seventeenth century — he found out that 



}56 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

they were all these things — and more. The 
more was not so attractive to the stranger. 
Their contentment he found was due to 
profound ignorance, and their want of en- 
terprise to their contentment. 

" You may lead the people," a priest told 
him, '^ with the greatest ease, so long as 
you do not ask them to receive a single 
new idea." 

Now what Alan wanted was, to inspire 
his people with the newest of ideas, and 
with an ardent desire for new ideas. What 
seemed good for French Canadians was 
not good for Englishmen. So he went 
westward — stopped a few nights at Mon- 
treal, which is the place where the English 
Canuk, the French Canadian, the Yankee, 
the Englishman, the Scotchman, the Irish- 
man, the German, and the Jew meet, and 
try their sharpness on each other. It is a 
very promising city, and will some day be- 
come illustrious. But there was litde rea- 
son for a social philosopher to stay there. 
He went still westward, and reached 
Toronto. This was like being at Edin- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 87 

burgh. There, however, he heard of those 
backwood settlements where the forests have 
•been cleared, and the land planted, by men 
who went there axe in hand, and nothing 
'else. It is only a single day's journey to 
get from the flat shores of Toronto, and 
the grey waves of Lake Ontario, to the 
hills and rocks, the lakes, firs, and hemlocks 
•of the backwoods. And there Alan found 
bimself among a people who were not led, 
but who moved on by themselves, under 
the guidance of their own sense and reso- 
lution. This phenomenon surprised him 
greatly, and he made copious notes. None, 
however, of the stalwart farmers could give 
him any philosophical reasons for the ad- 
vance of the colony. 

" We send the little ones to school," one 
•of them told him. '* We have our singing 
-choirs, and our lectures, and our farms to 
attend to, and we mean to push on some- 
how." 

That is the difference, Alan observed^ 
between the common Englishman and the 
Canadian. The latter means to push on 



88 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

somehow. How to instil that idea into his 
own people ? He made more notes and 
returned to Toronto. Then he went to 
Niagara, and stayed there for a month,, 
meditating over against the mighty Falls, 
till the echoes of the thundering river, roll- 
ing louder and louder, and the thought of 
the mass of ever-falling waters growing 
daily greater and greater, grew too loud 
and too vast for his brain ; and then he 
came away. He was perplexed by the 
contrast of the French Canadians, led by 
their priests, who never want to move, and 
the English led by the one thought, that 
they " mean to push on somehow," which is 
to them like the cloud of smoke by day 
and the pillar of fire by night. And he 
thought all the time of his own rustics who 
came like sheep to his lectures, sat like 
sheep while he delivered them, and went 
aw^ay understanding no more than sheep. 

However, in the States he would cer- 
tainly learn something. Everybody who 
is going to try a new social experiment 
should begin by going to America, if only 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 89 

to Strengthen his faith. This, in new social 
experiments, is apt to be shaken by the 
fear of ridicule. Anything like a novel 
adjustment of the relations between capital 
and labour, landlord and tenant, farmer and 
labourer, buyer and seller, husband and 
wife, governor and governed, requires In 
England such extraordinary courage and 
confidence that it is absolutely Indispensable 
first to visit a country where new institu- 
tions are attempted without such hesitation 
and fear. New thingfs are tried In America 
which would be Impossible in England, 
and yet they do not succeed, because, I 
suppose, the most red-hot reformer becomes 
Conservative when you touch the unwritten 
laws by which all his Ideas are governed 
unconsciously to himself. 

Alan Dunlop was going, somehow, to 
reconstruct the whole of the social fabric. 
He was about to show on the small scale of 
his own estates how culture — what his 
friends called "The Higher Culture," sigh- 
ing when they thought how rare it is — may 
coexist with the necessities of the roughest 



90 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

daily toil, and differing in rank or station 
be recognised by those who are yet all 
equal in their love of " The Higher Art." 
It had been his favourite thesis, disputed 
by the rest, while still among the prigs, 
that this was not only possible, but within 
the compass and power of any one man. 

" Why," he would ask, with as much 
warmth as the fashion of his school allows, 
** why should a man, because he goes out 
hedging and ditching, because he carts 
muck, feeds pigs, even " — he shuddered — 
** even kills them, be unable to rise to the 
levels on which We stand ? Can we not 
imagine him, when his work is done, sitting 
with thankful heart in the contemplation of 
some precious work, over which thought 
may plunge ever deeper, and never come 
to the end of all it teaches T 

It was generally conceded that the im- 
agination might go so far as to conceive 
this vision. Then Alan would continue to 
argue that whatever the mind of man can 
conceive, the hand of man can execute ; in 
other words, that the ploughman might be 



THE MOXKS OF THELEMA. 91 

gently and yet rapidly led upward, till his 
thoughts rested habitually on the highest 
levels. And this was his mission in life. 

He visited, and examined with the 
greatest interest, all the new social and 
rehVious communities which he could hear 
of. There were those modern Essenes 
who have ever}"thing in common, and who 
neither marry nor are given in marriage ; 
those thinkers who hold that divorce should 
be granted on the formal request of either 
party to the contract of that partnership, 
which we English hold to be indissoluble 
even by common consent of both husband 
and wife, except for reasons held by law 
sufficient; the community who divide the 
work amone each other, and serve it out 
irrespective of liking or htness, so that he 
who would fain be wTitino^ at home has to 
0:0 out and weed the cabbaj^es or sell the 
strawberries ; the people who work or are 
idle just as they please ; the institution — in 
this he was particularly interested — in which 
the rude farm-work of the morning is fol- 
lowed by transcendental discussion in the 



92 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

evening. Alan was disappointed here^ 
because he only had one evening to spare 
for the place, and they asked so much 
about England that it was bed-time before 
the philosophy began. Then he visited a 
community in which emancipated woman 
ruled subject man, and let him have a rough 
time, until he either revolted or ran away. 
And he went to see the place where the 
Elect live together, and dance for the love 
of the Lord. Then he became acquainted 
with the doctrines and tenets of vege- 
tarians, egg - and -fruit-arians, wheat-and- 
corn-arians,and total abstainers. He found 
a little knot of people who would have 
neither ruler, magistrate, elder, priest, nor 
clergyman among them at all, but ruled 
their affairs for themselves by a parliament 
which sits every evening for seven days in 
the week, and where the talk never ceases. 
This is the reason why, outside their Par- 
liament House, they are a silent folk. He 
also visited the Mormons, the Mennonites, 
and Oneida Creek. And everywhere he 
made notes. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 93 

In all his researches on the American 
•continent, he was struck with the fact that 
the people had no leaders ; they seemed to 
lead themselves. That unhappy country 
has no heaven-sent and hereditary officers. 
They have to live without these aids to 
•civilisation ; and it must be owned they 
^eem to get on very well by themselves. 
But the British labourer requires — he abso- 
lutely requires — thought Alan, to be led. 
And how to lead him ? How to acquire 
influence over him ? How to become his 
prophet ? How to instil into his mind 
a purpose ? This dreadful difficulty op- 
pressed our inquiring traveller, followed 
him from one country to another, and 
became at times a sort of Old Man of the 
Island upon his shoulders. 

" Send him over here, sir," said an 
American with whom he discussed, with- 
out exposing his own views, the character 
of the British ploughman ; " send him over 
here, sir! He can't sit down and be con- 
tented in this climate. Discontent is in 
the air ; ambition is in the air ; and there 



94 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

are no parish workhouses. What you've 
done with your labourer is this : youVe 
planted him in a juicy and fertile country, 
where the rain and fogs make him crave 
for drink. He's orot a farmer drivinof him 
at starvation wages on the one side, and 
the clergyman's wife and the squire's wife 
and daughters cockering him up on the 
other. What with too low wages and too 
much alms-taking, you've knocked all the 
man out of him. Here he gets no cocker- 
ing ; there's no squire, no vicar, no union, 
and no distribution of blankets and flannel. 
You go home, sir, and try your folk on our 
tack for fifty years or so." 

That was absurd when Alan wanted to 
show his results in five years, or there- 
abouts. 

" Of course," his American friend 
went on, "of course it is absurd to tell you, 
sir, because you know it already, the main 
difference between our men and yours." 

^^ You mean " 

" I mean the land. When you get 
your yeomen back again, if ever you do. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 95 

you will find that out. Do you own land, 
sir ?" 

" I do." 

" Then let your men buy it up on easy 
terms ; and then you leave them alone to 
work out their own salvation." 

This was a hard saying for a young man 
who had great possessions — give up his 
land, and then leave the people alone ? 
What then was the good of having been a 
leader in undergraduate advanced circles, 
and an acknowledged exponent of the 
Higher Thought ?" 

After his experiences in the Eastern 
States, he crossed the Continent, and visited 
California ; there he went to see mining 
cities, the Yosemite Valley, the City of 
Sacramento, and the Chinese quarter of 
San Francisco. There were also the lions. 
From San Francisco he went to Japan, 
which he found Anglicised ; and from 
Japan he went to Hong Kong. This en- 
abled him to visit the sleepy old city of 
Macao, where the manners and customs 
are half of Portugal, half of China, and 



96 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Canton. The student in social economy can- 
not get much assistance from the Chinese. 
A nation who, when they have got a man 
too lazy, too vicious, too worthless for any- 
thing else, make him a priest, may be used 
by advanced thinkers to point an epigram 
or illustrate a sneer, but cannot inspire 
such enthusiasm as leads to admiration. 

Alan completed his journey round the 
world in the usual way — he went to Cal- 
cutta, Delhi, Simla, Cashmere, and Bombay. 
He landed at Suez, and after the usual 
voyage up the Nile and down again, he 
rode through the Holy Land, and thence 
across Asia Minor to Erzeroum, finishing 
the whole by travelling from Odessa to 
Moscow and St. Petersburg, and so home. 
I hope that he finds the observations he 
then made on Russian civilisation of use to 
him at the present juncture. 

It is not given to every young man of 
three or four and twenty to make this 
extended survey of humanity in general. 
The general effect produced on the mind 
of this traveller was revolutionary. Partly 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 97 

as the Vicar anticipated, the old things felt 
away from him. He ceased to think in the 
narrow grooves of exclusive prigdom ; he 
found that men and women may hold differ- 
ent views from himself, and yet be pleasant, 
and not Philistine ; he saw that a good deal 
of the Art he had been taught to reverence 
was but a poor thing, conveying in stiff 
pretence at ease, weak or well-used thoughts 
with feebleness of expression ; he under- 
stood what a wretched quality is that 
intellectual conceit which he had been 
accustomed to think a mark of distinction ; 
and he really did quite succeed in compre- 
hending that Oxford is 7iot the centre of 
the universe ; and he left off being sad. 
Now these were great gains. He wrote 
to Miranda on his arrival in London : 

'' I hope to see you the day after to- 
morrow. I have an immense deal to say, 
both of the past and the future. I think 
I have discovered my error in the past, 
and its remedy for the future. We tried 
to improve our people by injunction and 
precept, pointing out methods and rules. 

VOL. I. 7 



98 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

That I am convinced Is not the best way. 
They will neither be led nor ordered. 
But suppose, Miranda, that one were to 
walk beside them, work with them, eat 
with them, play with them, be one of 
them, and thoroughly enter into their very 
thouo^hts — how would that do ?" 

*' How would that do ?" echoed Miranda 
in dismay, as she read the letter. '' And 
what In the world does Alan mean ? Is he 
going to put on a smock-frock ?" 



CHAPTER V. 

" Rich with the spoils of travel, home he came." 

Alan came home. As a dutiful son he 
called upon his father, in his chambers. 
Both were agreeably surprised. The 
father did not seem to the son so frivolous 
as he had been, nor did the sen appear 
to the father so weighed down with the 
responsibilities of his position. 

'' I congratulate you, Alan," said Lord 
Alwyne — it was at noon ; the man of the 
world celebrated his son s return after the 
fashion of the world, with a little mid-day 
luncheon, which he called a breakfast — " I 
congratulate you, my son. You have seen 
the world, and shaken off your Oxford 
crotchets." 

"Say, exchanged some of them for new 
ones, and modified others," said Alan. *' We 

7—2 



TOO THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

were Ignorant at Oxford ; but we used to 
search for Ideas. If I am changed, how- 
ever, you are not." 

" I am two years older, which is two 
years worse. In other respects, I beHeve 
I am much the same as when you last saw 
me. Life has nothing new to offer after 
fifty ; and it Is a good thing to enjoy the 
same old pleasures. I still find good wine 
desirable ; I prefer young women to old ; 
I like cheerful people better than those who 
w^eep ; and though the cask is getting low, 
I am glad to say that it still runs clear." 

His son looked round the room. His 
father was quite right, and there was no 
change. The same statuettes, pictures, and 
books, the same comfortable chairs, the 
same air of studied and artistic pleasant- 
ness about everything, as if the very furni- 
ture had to be consulted about Its com- 
panions. And on the little table in the 
window, the same pile of letters and invi- 
tations ; most of them in feminine hand- 
writing. No change ; and yet he did not 
find this kind of life so entirely frivolous as 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. loi 

in the old days, when to think of his 
father's manner of Hving was to raise up 
the fifth commandment before his eyes 
like a ghost, with warning gesture. Surely 
Alan Dunlop had madp a great step out 
of prigdom when he arrived at the stage 
of toleration for a life which was not tor- 
mented by a sense of responsibility. He 
even envied his father. Not that he would 
exist in the same way ; but he envied the 
happy temper which enables a man to 
live in the passing moment, and to let 
each single day begin and end a round of 
endeavours after happiness. 

" If one may ask, Alan" — his father was 
lying in one of those chaises longues which 
give support to the feet, his cigarette-case 
was on a little table beside him, with a cup 
of coffee, and his face, after the excellent 
breakfast, was more than usually bene- 
volent — '' If one may ask, Alan, about your 
plans for the future ? Let me see, when 
you went away it was after proposing to 
reform the world by means of evening 
lectures, I believe." 



102 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

'' Yes," Alan replied, a little shortly ; 
'' I was younger then. The people came, 
but they thought they were in church, and 
treated my lecture like a sermon ; that is, 
they went to sleep." 

^'Just what one would have expected. 
By the way, your remark is a dangerous 
one in these Radical times. People might 
ask, you know, what kind of teachers 
those have been to whom we have com- 
mitted the care of the poor, if it is 
proverbial that sleep and preaching go 
together." 

Alan laughed. This was one of the few 
points in which he could agree with his 
father. Nothing pleases the advanced 
thinker — say, a thinker of the higher order 
— than a sneer at the clergy. It is pleasant, 
I suppose, to feel one's self so much superior 
to the constituted spiritual teachers of the 
people. 

" Lectures are of no use," Alan went on, 
" by themselves. We must not only direct 
and teach, but we must lead. My next 
attempt will be to lead." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 103 

'* Ye — yes," said his father ; " that sounds 
well as a general principle. To descend to 
particulars, now." 

" My project is hardly ripe just yet," 
Alan replied ; " when it is in working 
order, I will ask you to come down and 
see it for yourself. Will that do T 

** Perfectly, perfectly, Alan. Nothing is 
more wearisome than a discussion of pro- 
babilities. If I find your plan a failure, I 
can enjoy the luxury, since I know nothing 
about it beforehand, of swearing that I 
always knew it to be impracticable. Do 
not deprive me of that luxury." 

Alan laughed. 

" I am going down to the Court this 
afternoon," he said, ''I shall talk over 
my schemes with Miranda, and take her 
advice." 

" Miranda !" his father's face lit up, as it 
always did, at the thought of a pretty 
woman. ** Miranda! She was pretty when 
you went away ; she is lovely now, and full 
of fancies. I love a woman to have whims, 
always looking out, you know, for the new 



104 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

gospel. It is delightful to find such a girl. 
She was up in London last season ; turned 
the heads of half the young fellows, and all 
the old ones ; refused a dozen offers, in- 
cluding Professor Spectrum, who thought 
she came to his lectures out of love for him, 
whereas she came, you see, because she 
thought physics and chemistry a part of the 
modern culture. Then she went back to 
her place in the country ; and I believe she 
is there still. I will go down, as soon as 
these confounded east winds disappear, and 
make love to her myself. I will, Alan, 
upon my word I will." 

Alan looked as if he hardly approved of 
this frivolous v/ay of discussing Miranda, 
and presently went away, whereupon Lord 
Alwyne sat down and wrote a letter. 

*' My dear Miranda, 

*' It is two o'clock in the afternoon. 
I have written all my letters, had breakfast 
with Alan, smoked three cigarettes, and read 
all the papers ; what remains, but to write a 
letter, all about nothing, to the loveliest girl 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. loj 

I know ? N.B. — This Is not old-fashioned 
poHteness — Regency manners — but the natu- 
ral right of a man who has kissed you every 
year, at least once, since you were a baby In 
arms. You will have seen Alan before you 
get this letter. Tell me what you think of 
him. For my own part, I find him greatly 
improved. He has lost that melancholy 
which naturally springs from having had 
such very superior persons for his friends* 
He is livelier; he has more feeling for the 
frivolities of an old man like myself. He 
Is, in a word, much less of a prig than he 
was. Imagine the joy of a father who 
hates prigs. I am not without hopes that 
he may yet come to the point of being able 
to laugh at a good story. 

" Of course, he has a head full of pro- 
jects, and he will carry them straight to you. 
I was afraid, at one point of the breakfast, 
that he was going to confide them to me ; 
but he refrained, for which I am grateful. 
I forgot to tell you that he accepted the 
comfort of my chambers and the little light 
follies of my conversation without that 



io6 THE MONKS OF JHELEMA. 

mute reproachful gaze, which used to make 
me wonder whether he really was my son, 
•or whether he had been changed at nurse, 
and belonged, perhaps, to the converted 
carpenter. As, however, his ideas, filtered 
through your brain, will assume a far more 
attractive form, I confess I should like you 
to write me word what they amount to ; 
and, as I may be allowed to take some 
interest in his proceedings, I shall ask you 
to throw all the weight of your good sense 
in the scale. If he should propose to part 
with the property for any philanthropic 
schemes, I think I would go the length of 
locking him up in a private lunatic asylum, 
where they will tickle the soles of his feet 
with a feather. 

''Writing to you about Alan makes me 
think of a conversation we had, you and I, 
that afternoon last year, w^hen 3^ou gave 
up a whole day to delight an elderly lover 
of yours with your society. You remem- 
ber the talk, perhaps. We were floating 
•down the river under the Clieveden woods, 
you and I, in a boat together. I told you 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 107 

what were my greatest hopes. You blushed 
very prettily, but you said nothing at first, 
and that elderly lover promised you, at your 
own request, never to speak of such a thing 
again ; and never, even in the most distant 
manner, to suggest such a possibility to 
Alan. 

'' For once — I believe the very first time 
in all my life — I am going to break a pro- 
mise made to a lady, and speak to you about 
' such a thing ' again. Those hopes have 
revived again, and are stronger than ever. 
'Such a thing' would make me happy about 
Alan's future. As for his present, it is not 
right that a boy of his age, sweet ^v^ and 
twenty, should be chasing a philanthropic 
will-o'-the-wisp, when all round him, in this 
delightful world, there are flowers to gather, 
feasts to hold, and the prettiest women that 
ever were to fall in love with. Life ought 
to be to him, as it has been to me, one Eden 
of delight, and he makes it a workshop. 
Why, he even mentioned your name 
— yours, without any apparent emotion, 
without hesitation, blushing, or sinking of 



io8 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the voice. Think of it, when even I, after 
all my experience, handle the name of 
Miranda with a kind of awe, as befits that 
of a goddess. 

^^ And yet he is my son, really. I must 
inquire about that converted carpenter. 
Sometimes I feel constrained — pity the 
sorrows of a poor old man ! — to go straight 
on my less rheumatic knee, the right one, 
and offer you the devotion of the short 
remainder of an elderly life, as the man in 
the play says, as a substitute for youth, the 
absence of which no devotion could atone 
for, and the few fragments of a heart long 
since torn in pieces by a succession of 
beautiful and gracious girls, if those frag- 
ments are worth picking up ; but, indeed, 
they are not. 

" I wish I could be sitting with you in 
your own room, overlooking Weyland 
Park. I should come disguised as Cupid ; 
I should bring bow and arrow, and when 
Alan came along with his long face as full 
of care as if he were a married pauper, I 
should let him have a shaft full in the place 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 109 

where his heart ought to be ; but I don't 
think he has one. 

" Good-bye, my dear Miranda. You 
know that I am always as actively devoted 
to your service as age and rheumatism will 
allow. Write me a long letter, and tell me 
everything. 

"A. F." 



CHAPTER VI. 

Miranda wrote in reply almost by return 
of post. 

"Dear Lord Alwyne, 

" A thousand thanks for your letter. 
I wish I had a great many more lovers like 
yourself, as devoted and as unselfish. It is 
very delightful to have some one to say 
kind thino^s and make one vain. I wonder 
if it is as pleasant for you to say them as it 
is for o-irls to hear them said. Come down 
and stay with us if you can make up your 
mind to a dull house, and only me for a 
companion. You shall sit in my room all 
day long if you like, and look out over 
Weyland Park, which is very beautiful just 
now ; I think the place grows more beauti- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. iir 

ful every year. But I will not consent to 
disguises either as Cupid or anything 
else, and I will accept your devotion with- 
out any kneeling. 

''It really was a delightful day that we 
had together on the river last year, and we 
must try for another. Only no pleasure 
seems ablq to be repeated exactly in the 
same way. If we were to go there again 
it would probably rain, or I might be in a 
bad temper. 

" Alan came to see us as soon as he 
arrived. I saw him marchine across the 
park, and I will confess to you that I took 
my opera-glasses in order to have a good 
look at him, while he was yet afar off. His 
shoulders have broadened out, and he 
walks more upright. He has lost that 
stoop which used to make him look as if he 
was always working out a difficult problem. 
I think his beard improves him, somehow ; 
though you do not wear a beard, it makes 
him look more like you. His eyes, as he 
Avalked over the turf, had a far-off look, just 
as Lhey used to before he went to Oxford, 



112 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

and was always dreaming about the future. 
So I saw he was back again in the world of 
imagination, and not thinking of me at all. 
To you, because Alan and I are and al- 
ways will be brother and sister, I may con- 
fess that I think this brown-bearded man 
with blue eyes the handsomest man I have 
ever seen, as he is the most gentle and the 
most disinterested. 

'' When I thought he might be near 
enough to see me with my glasses, I put 
them down and went out to meet him. He 
was as glad to greet me as I was to greet 
him, I think. 

*' It was six o'clock. Mamma was well 
enough to dine with us — it was one of her 
better days, fortunately. We had a talk in 
the earden before dinner, and after dinner 
a long talk, he and I alone. 

" Your son is greatly changed, Lord 
Alwyne ; in some respects completely 
changed. He looks at everything from a 
new point of view, and I can see that he 
has been thinking and studying during the 
whole of his two years' travel. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 113 

" All the old schemes are to be aban- 
doned, and an entirely new plan adopted. 
I confess that at first I was amazed at his 
scheme, but I am beginning to believe that 
it is not only noble, but also feasible. It is, 
to put it in as few words as possible, this : 
There is to be no more lecturing and teach- 
ing. That, he says, is proved by experi- 
ence to be useless. Any one can point the 
way like a sign-post ; any one can stand on 
a hill and cry out to the people below to 
climb up if they can as he has done ; any one 
can write books full of precious thoughts, 
if he have them himself; but you cannot 
always persuade people to read them. The 
lower classes, he says, all over the world 
are exactly alike, except in the United 
States. They will neither read, listen, nor 
see, with understanding. They are slaves, 
not to laws, which touch them very little, 
but to habit and custom. The only way, 
therefore, to improve the masses, is to 
break down the slavery of habit." 

When Lord Alwyne — he was reading 

VOL. I. 8 



114 THE MOXKS OF THELEMA. 

this letter at breakfast — got as far as this, 
he put it down, and heaved a sigh. 

'' I asked her to bring him to common 
sense, and he has inoculated her. Habit 
and custom ? And a very good thing for 
the people too. Let their customs be 
cleanly, their habits pleasant for other 
people, and their manners civil. What 
more does the boy want ? Rigmarole." 

*' I am sure you will agree with Alan so 
far. In fact, all this is preliminary." 

^' Yes/' said Lord Alwyne. '' I knew 
that something more waS coming." 

*' How then, asks Alan, is the task of 
substituting culture and inquir}^ for sluggish 
habit to be undertaken ? There is, he 
says, but one way. By example. He will 
come down from his high place, descend to 
their levels, work with them, eat with them, - 
live with them, and endeavour to set the 
example of the higher life, and to show how 
that is possible even with the surroundings 
of a cottage, and the pay of a farm labourer. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 115 

" * Not what we give, but what we share : 
For the gift without the giver is bare.* " 

" The Devil !" This was the reader's 
interruption. '' Now those two will go on 
fooling the rustics, till they make the whole 
country-side intolerable." 

*' I cannot say," continued Miranda in 
the letter, " how much I admire a man 
who gives himself. That is so much higher 
a thing — so much nobler — than to give 
money." 

** If they had my money," said Lord 
Alwyne, '' they might have me with it too, 
for all I should care. Certainly I should not 
be of much use without it. Go on, my dear 
Miranda. It is pleasant talking over a 
breakfast- table." 

" It is like going out to fight for your 
country." 

" Worse," murmured the reader. " Much 
worse. I've done that, and I oueht to 
know. Except for the trenches, it wasn't 
bad fun. And at least one didn't live with 
rustics." 

8—2 



ii6 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

*' Or it Is giving up all that one has been 
accustomed to consider bare necessities : 
abandoning for a time the gentle life." 

*' I am glad it is only for a time. And I 
hope," said Lord Alwyne, '' that it will be 
for a very short time." 

" And It Is certainly exposing one's self 
to the misrepresentation and ridicule of 
people who do not understand you ; to un- 
popularity in the county " 

** Unpopularity indeed !" cried Lord 
Alwyne. *' Now I hope to Heaven the 
boy will not meddle with the Game. Any- 
thing but that. And In such a county 
too !" 

"■ And possible failure !" 

'' Ah ! ha !" The reader laughed. '' Pos- 
sible failure ! Ho ! ho !" 

*' All these Alan will cheerfully face. He 
must have our support and sympathy, and 
we must wish him success. 

" If you would like to hear more details 
of the plan " 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 117 

" I should not," said Lord Alwyne. 

" Come down and stay with us. You 
might have VVeyland Court all to yourself, 
and even sleep in the haunted room, if you 
prefer ; but as Alan is entirely occupied 
with his plans, I think you would see little 
of him, and would be more comfortable 
with us." 

'^ I most certainly should, my dear 
Miranda," said Lord Alwyne. 

But he had to postpone his visit, because 
some one, who had a charming wife, who 
also had two charming sisters, proposed to 
him that he should join them, and all go 
to Egypt together, to escape the English 
winter. When he returned, it was at the 
beginning of the London season, and he 
had so many people to see that he could 
not possibly get away till July. Finally, 
it was not till Nelly Despard took the vows 
that he was able to get down to Weyland 
Court. And by that time Alan's experi- 
ment was a year old. 



CHAPTER VII. 

" Yet have my thoughts for thee been vigilant, 
Bound to thy service v/ith unceasing care." 

As Miranda told Lord Alwyne, no time 
was lost in putting the new plans into 
execution. 

" By actually living among the people," 
said Alan, with the calmness of conviction, 
*' I shall in a short time succeed in persuad- 
ing them to look upon me as one of them- 
selves — a simple fellow-labourer^ who has 
received a better education, and had greater 
advantages to start with. I suppose one 
cannot hope wholly to eradicate the feeling 
of caste. And for the present, that seems 
not quite desirable. It is well, until all 
have alike the same education, that the 
better educated, who are also the richer 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 119 

and the more cultivated, should be looked 
upon as the natural leaders." 

" Surely, Alan," said Miranda, '* you are 
by birth as well as education the natural 
leader of these people ?" 

"• I think I am," he replied, with that 
far-off look in his blue eyes which belongs 
to the enthusiast. ^^ I am certain I am ; 
otherwise there would remain nothing but 
to sit dow^n in indolent ease at Weyland 
Court, and live the ignoble life of the 
country squire." 

That is what he called it : the enviable 
life where there are no duties, no daily 
mill, and no care for the yearly income, 
the life of the country gentleman — he 
called it '' that ignoble life." 

'' It is a beautiful dream," said Miranda. 
** And, oh ! Alan, I wish I could rise with 
you to the belief that the dream will ever 
become a reality. I want your enthusiasm 
as well as your self-devotion." 

" It must — it will become a reality, 
Miranda," he answered, with a flush of 
conviction. " I have chanced upon the one 



I20 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

thing wanting in all the old schemes. 
They directed, we lead ; they instructed, we 
set the example. Our sports, our labours, 
our joys will be what theirs should be ; as 
their life ought to be, so will we try to- 
make ours. In externals, at least, we shall 
be on the same footing ; as our habits will 
be, so ought theirs to be." 

Miranda listened with kindling eyes. 
Her heart beat with sympathetic fire in 
the presence of this strong and brave nature 
which dared to follow out a line of its own 
— the line of right. And she sought in 
vain for examples in history of others who 
had thus practically and earnestly devoted 
themselves to the safety or regeneration of 
mankind. Quintus Curtlus, a leading case, 
narrowed his self-sacrifice to patriotism ;. 
monks and nuns still further narrow theirs 
to the advantage of their own individual 
souls ; curates and parsons, who work day 
and night among the slums, gladly ex- 
change these retreats for the more conge- 
nial sphere of country livings ; professional 
philanthropists not unfrequently exaggerate 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 121 

the pecuniary value of their services, and 
have even been known to help themselves 
secretly from the treasury ; but that a man 
like Alan Dunlop, with everything at his 
hand which men crave for, should volunta- 
rily resign them all, and become a labourer 
amongst labourers, without hope or pros- 
pect of reward, was a thing wholly with- 
out parallel. 

They were talking in Miranda's own 
room at Dalmeny Hall, the place which the 
young heiress had daintily adorned to suit 
her own tastes. It was a room on the 
first floor, which overlooked Weyland Park. 
It had a south aspect, it was fitted and 
furnished with everything that is delicate, 
pretty, artistic, and delightful, from the 
pictures on the wall to the carpets and the 
chairs. The time was just before the 
establishment of the Abbey, when Alan 
spent most of his leisure-time discussing 
things at Dalmeny Hall with the fair 
chatelaine, who alone of mortals regarded 
his project with sympathy and interest. It 
was a retreat kept quiet by an invalid 



122 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

mother, and yet full of liberty to the few 
who, like Alan Dunlop, Tom Caledon, 
Desdemona Fanshawe (she had long re- 
sumed her maiden name), and others had 
the entree. Alan believed the more strongly 
in his own theories when that fair face 
looked up in his, and he read in those 
steadfast eyes the loyal faith of recent con- 
version. 

" A beautiful dream I " she repeated, 
^' The dream of a noble mind. But, oh ! 
Alan, I cannot bear to think of you break- 
ing your heart against the rocks of igno- 
rance and stupidity." 

" Ignorance," he replied, '* we can over- 
come : stupidity may be met with patience. 
What I fear most is habit. That is the 
greatest enemy of all progress." 

*' But how can you live at the Court and 
yet live as a labouring man ?" 

*' I shall not live at the Court ; I shall 
leave it, and take a house in the village." 

'* And never come out of it at all, Alan ? 
Never come up here to see me ? Not 
come and dine here, as you do now .'^" 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 123 

He hesitated. 

'* What I want to do, Miranda, is to 
live in all- respects as a labouring man may, 
upon his wages. If I come up here to 
dine, it would be a temptation in the way 
of luxury. I shall earn, I suppose, a 
pound or eighteen shillings a weelc. That 
will have to do for me. I think you must 
not ask me to dine here. But I will come 
up sometimes on Sunday mornings if you 
like, and report progress." 

Miranda sighed. She was prepared to 
see her chief friend and adviser resign all 
— but herself. That was a practical out- 
come to the new theories of life which she 
had never contemplated. Life w^ould be 
dull indeed without Alan Dunlop to en- 
liven it. 

The requisites of a prophet are, first, to 
believe in yourself; secondly, to believe in 
your theory ; thirdly, to believe in your 
people. Alan Dunlop possessed all these 
requisites. As an English gentleman, he 
had the hereditary belief in himself, so that 
to stand in the front was, he felt, his proper 



124 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

place. He had retained this behef, and 
even strengthened it during the three years 
at Oxford, and subsequently while travelling 
round the world. He had thought so long 
over the duties which rise out of the re- 
sponsibilities of wealth, that he was by 
this time as profoundly convinced of his 
mission as Moses or Mahomet ; and, lastly, 
he had a firm belief in the latent power of 
the common people for imbibing new ideas 
presented in the right way. 

^' Could you, Miranda," he asked once, 
in half-hesitating tones, " could you too 
give up this atmosphere of delicate cul- 
ture, and chano^e it for that of villao^e life 
among the villagers ?" 

^' I could not, Alan," she replied frankly. 
'' I love to read about noble things and 
self-sacrifice. It is one of the pleasures of 
life to feel one's heart elow over some 
glorious tale. But the details, when one 
comes to realise them — think of living 
among the labourers' wives Oh, Alan !" 

" No," he said, with a sigh, " I suppose 
you could not." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 125 

" Had he proposed to her and been re- 
fused ?" she thought when he went away. 
'' Surely she had not refused him ?" 

" II y a toicjotirs 2m qtii aime et mi qui 
est aimSr There were once two children. 
One was a boy, and one was a girl. The 
boy, who was named Alan Fontaine, was 
three years older than the girl, who was 
called Miranda Dalmeny. Their houses 
were half a mile apart. The boy was born 
at Weyland Court, and the girl at Dal- 
meny Hall. The former stood in a great 
park, the latter in nothing but its own 
gardens ; but it overlooked Weyland Park ; 
and the property belonging to its owner was 
almost as great as that enjoyed by Lord 
Alwyne Fontaine in right of his wife. Both 
owners, Alan's mother and Miranda's 
father, died. The boy and girl became 
heir and heiress. Alan Fontaine became 
Alan Dunlop, and for miles on either side 
of Weyland Park the broad acres of their 
lands marched side by side. 

They grew up together, shared the same 
sympathies, had the same vague yearnings 



126 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

for that glorious future which Is the dream 
of generous youth, when all noble things 
seem possible, and we are as yet but dimly 
conscious of that heritage of evil which, 
like Setebos, troubles all. They com- 
municated their thoughts to each other, 
dwelling always on the plans of the after 
years. They read in the great library of 
Weyland Court strange old books which 
filled their minds with thoughts, not of the 
nineteenth century ; and they rode about 
the country together, this new Paul with a 
new Virginia, talking, thinking, and dream- 
ing poetry, sentiment, and enthusiasm. 

When Miranda was eighteen Alan was 
twenty-one, and just returning from Oxford, 
By this time the girl had, after the fashion 
of her sex at that age, left off telling her 
thoughts, and kept them locked up in her 
own brain, waiting and accumulating until 
the arrival of the man with a right to them, 
Alan, as men will, went on telling his. 

After his unsuccessful attempt to im- 
prove the village by lectures, Alan went 
away on his journey round the world. It 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 127 

was, at first, very dull for Miranda at the 
Hall. Then Lord Alwyne persuaded 
Desdemona to go and stay with her as a 
sort of companion, and she went to town 
for the season, which was a diversion. At 
least, it would have been a diversion but 
for one thing. Her beauty, which was 
considerable, was naturally enhanced and 
set off by her income. A girl whose rent- 
roll is told by thousands is an object of 
general interest in herself, even if she has 
a face like a door-knocker. And at first it 
went to her heart to refuse the young men^ 
who took every opportunity, in conser- 
vatories, at dinner- tables, in the park, at 
garden-parties, at balls, and even in church;. 
to offer their hands and hearts. They 
were so deeply in earnest, they felt so pro- 
foundly the enormous advantages of hang- 
ing up their hats in Dalmeny Hall, they 
had a respect so unfeigned for the beauty, 
the intellect, the desirable qualities of the 
girl who owned so splendid a property, that 
poor Miranda felt guilty, with shame to 
herself for being so insensible, when they 



128 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

Stammered forth the customary words and 
she had to send them away sorrowful. 
But when they came in swarms, when the 
memory of Impecuniosus the First, dis- 
missed with sorrow and some sort of shame, 
was driven away by the advent of Impe- 
cuniosus the Forty-First; when she had 
learned all the various methods pursued by 
men who propose, and experience had 
taught her the best form of refusal, viz., 
that which leaves no room for hope, she 
ceased to pity her suitors, and even began 
to ridicule them to Desdemona and Lord 
Alwyne ; grew hard-hearted, cut short the 
aspirant at the very first words, and sent 
him away without expressing the least 
sympathy. Everybody knew and every- 
body said, that her heart was given to Alan 
Dunlop,the queer, wild enthusiast of Oxford, 
who headed the road-makers. Certain it is 
that her happiest days were those when, from 
some far-off foreign place, a letter came to 
her in the well-known handwriting. And 
equally certain it is that wherever she went, 
there was always present the youthful form 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 129 

and face of Lord Alwyne, warding off the 
undesirable partis, protecting his ward 
against the wiles of the impecunious. 

In the fulness of time, Alan came home 
rich with the spoils of all the world. 
There was no word of love between them 
before he went away. Among the many 
hundred letters he wrote from various 
habitable points upon this sphere, there 
was no word of love ; and when he came 
back, there was again no word of love. 
Miranda said that Alan was a brother to 
her. Probably Alan might have thought 
much in the same way of Miranda, with 
the difference, however, that the fondest 
brother contemplates the possibility of his 
sister's marriage without a pang, while 
Alan never for a moment imagined how he 
could get on without her. 

Had she actually refused him ? A 
burning spot rose in either cheek as she 
thought this over. But no ; she remem- 
bered all her wooers and their ways. She 
recalled the signs, which she knew too 
well, of an intention to propose. They 

VOL. I. 9 



I30 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

were alike in substance, though they dif- 
fered in detail. There was the ardent but 
diffident young clerk in the Foreign Office^ 
who laid himself with pitiful abasement at 
her feet, and there was the proud and 
penniless peer who confidently proposed 
the exchange of a title for a rent-roll. But 
in Alan's question there was nothing of 
all this ; neither doubt, nor anxiety, nor 
emotion of any kind — only a plain ques- 
tion. 

To live among the wives and daughters 
of the labourers ! Could she do this ? Not 
even, she felt, for that which Lord Alwyne 
had told her in the boat under the Clieveden 
woods was the one thing which he hoped 
for his son. Dear old Lord Alwyne f 
always so kind and thoughtful. And, oh [ 
so very fond of saying pretty things to 
pretty girls. Other pretty girls, Miranda 
thought, with a little pang of jealousy, 
would have those pretty things said to 
them. And what would become of Alan's 
self-sacrifice ? Would that go on all his 
life ? Was he to be separated from her by 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 131 

half a mile of park and village, and yet to 
belong to her no more ? 

As for Alan himself, he was far indeed 
from asking for Miranda's hand. There 
had occurred to him for a moment only a 
beatific vision, in which he and Miranda — 
brother and sister labourer — should be 
living in the village among *' the people," 
belonging to them : he to the men, and 
she to the women, so that while he intro- 
duced new ideas and combated old habits 
among one sex, she might be among 
the others, inculcating the arts of clean- 
liness, order, good temper, or the rudi- 
ments of that sweet culture which, in a 
very few years' time, was to make a home 
of delight in every cottage, and to form a 
West-end club, except for the drink and 
luxurious living, and the cigars and the 
easy-chairs, in every village. But the vision 
was momentary. It faded before Mirandas 
resolute reply, and he walked away sorrow- 
ful. He would have to fight the battle 
single-handed. 

Among the farms on his estate was one 

9—2 



132 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

of three hundred acres, leased by a certain 
Stephen Bostock. It was the smallest — it 
was the lowest rented, the least productive, 
and the tenants were the least satisfactory 
of any upon his estate. He went to Stephen 
Bostock himself. He pointed out, having 
ascertained these facts from his accent, that 
he, Stephen Bostock, was getting- deeper 
every year In the mire, that he had no 
money, that things were certain to get 
worse with him Instead of better, and then 
he asked him what he proposed to do. 

Stephen Bostock was a man with a very 
red face, as many rustics have, and a very 
long, square chin, as few rustics have. The 
red face was due to habitual intemperance, 
whenever he could find the money ; the 
long, square chin was a mark and certain 
proof of cunning, obstinacy, and self- 
reliance. A long chin means tenacity — a 
square chin means resource. When you 
get them both together, you have such a 
man as Stephen Bostock. 

Stephen Bostock was between forty and 
fifty years of age. He who has made no 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 133 

money at fifty never will make any. That 
is why a man of forty-five who has made 
none begins to grow anxious. Stephen 
Bostock had nothing in the world except 
the lease of a farm whose rent he could not 
pay, a dairy whose proceeds kept the house 
supplied with meat and drink, and a wife 
and daughter who looked after the dairy, 
kept chickens and ducks, and saw that 
the pigs were fed. He was a small tenant- 
farmer, one of the most hopeless class, 
rapidly becoming rarer, in this realm of 
England. If the land were their own, they 
could live on it, thrive on it, work on it, 
and be happy. But it is not, and so the 
class deteriorates, starves for a while, be- 
comes bankrupt, either sinks back to the 
soil, or goes to Canada, where free-lands 
can be taken up, and men become at a 
stroke yeomen, after the fashion of their 
ancestors. 

" You see, Bostock," said Alan, " things 
seem getting worse instead of better with 
you." 

" Yes, sir," he replied, '' they certainly 



134 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

be. A little ease In the rent, now, might 
make everything right." 

'' No, it would not," Alan went on ; '' no- 
thing will make everj^-thing right with you. 
The land is suffering from starvation and 
neglect. You have no stock, and next to 
no horses. You have got through all yo.ur 
money, whatever that was, and nothing can 
save you." 

" A good spell o' rainy weather," began 
Stephen, his mind turning feebly in the 
direction of turnips. 

'' No, no," said the Squire. *' Now listen 
to me, Bostock. Suppose I were to take 
the lease off your hands — don't speak, but 
listen. Suppose I were to offer you to 
remain where you are, in your own house, 
not as tenant of the farm, but its bailiff, on 
a salary?" 

'' Oh !" said Stephen, startled, '* on a 
celery " (he pronounced it so), '' and In my 
own house ! Without rent? As bailiff! 
Ah!" 

"" On a salary to be fixed between us." 
(Stephen resolved that, if it depended on 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 135 

him, it should be fixed pretty high.) " And 
that you should look after the practical 
business of the farm, which I intend to 
work on my own plans : that you should 
faithfully fulfil your part of the contract ; 
that is, buy and sell, arrange the rotation 
of the crops, and direct the labour of the 
farm, to the best advantage of the proprie- 
tor, exactly as^ if it was your own." 

Here Stephen Bostock, who began by 
staring hard, comprehended the position, 
and that so suddenly, that he was compelled 
to produce a red cotton handkerchief to 
hide a grin which, despite every warning 
of politeness, woiUd spread from ear to ear. 

'^ A celery; manage the farm for the 
Squire ; go on living in the house, rent- 
free ; buy and sell for the best advantage 
— ho! ho! — for the best advantage of the 
farm." 

It really was too much. 

Was it real ? 

Yes ; before him stood the young Squire 
with grave and resolute face, square brows, 
and solemn blue eyes — eyes which some- 



136 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

how took the grin out of the corners of his 
mouth, and enabled him to lay down the 
pocket-handkerchief. 

" Let me hear It all over again," he sald» 
" I'm slow by nature, but Tm sure. I am 
to live, rent free " — that was his own ad- 
dition — " in the farmhouse. That's the 
first thing. I'm slow, but when I tackle a 
thing, I do tackle that thing. I am to sell 
the lease for a consideration." That was 
also his own addition. 

" Not at all," said Alan. '^ You will not 
sell the lease ; you will give it to me, to 
escape bankruptcy." 

Mr. Bostock made a face. Nobody 
likes the ugly word bankruptcy. 

" Well," he said, ** you will have your 
joke, Mr. Dunlop. We'll say that I sur- 
render the lease, not sell It. But I am to 
get something, I suppose. I am to give 
up the lease, am I ? And then I am to 
be bailiff. On a celery. And what might 
be your opinion of the celery that I 
should be worth as bailiff to this farm ?" 

" I have hardly thought about It," said 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 137 

Alan. Of course, a hundred a year 
would have been plenty for such a man. 
*' But we might begin with two hundred." 

^^ And ^{ty, \i yozi please, Mr. Dunlop,"^ 
said Mr. Bostock firmly. ** And then we 
shall be going dirt cheap — dirt cheap. 
Two hundred and fifty, or three hundred. 
I think I ought to say a celery of four 
hundred. But, knowing you and your 
family as I do know you and your family, 
and having been a tenant for a many years, 
and my wife once lady's-maid to her lady- 
ship, and all, makes one inclined to cut 
down the figure." 

" We will say, then, two hundred and 
fifty," said Alan. He was accustomed to 
make this sort of compromise, and thought 
it showed the prudence of a business man. 
The other contractor to an agreement, for 
instance, whoever he was, invariably asked 
him for three times what he ought to have 
demanded. Alan conceded twice, and con- 
gratulated himself on having shown extra- 
ordinary knowledge of the world. Then 
he offered the wily Bostock two hundred 



138 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

and fifty, when he might have got him for 
a hundred. 

'' Well," Bostock grumbled, '' to please 
you, sir. But we must have the dairy, and 
a field for the cows, and the fowls, and the 
pigs, and the orchard, jest as at present so 
arranged." 

" You can have all those," said Alan, 
ignorantly adding another hundred to the 
new bailiff's salary. 

" That/' said Bostock, " won't make the 
celery none too high. Besides, the dairy 
and the pigs is a mere nothink. But 
there And when will you begin, sir?" 

" As soon as I can," said Alan. " I am 
going " — here he hesitated a little — " to 
manage this farm on an entirely new prin- 
ciple, of which I will explain the details 
afterwards. That is, you will manage it, 
but the results of the farm- -the profits — 
are to be applied on a new principle." 

" I thought, sir," said Bostock — his 
face lengthened considerably at the pros- 
pect of the farm being managed on new 
principles — '' I thought that I was to buy 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 139 

and to sell for the best advantage of the 
farm." 

'' Why, so you are. That is not what I 
mean." 

'' Oh !" said Bostock, relieved ; " that is 
not what you mean, sir ?" 

'' Not at all. You will really buy, sell, 
and do everything. You will be the re- 
sponsible manager of the farm. The pro- 
fits, however, deducting your salary first, 
and the necessary expenses of wages, stock, 
implements, and so forth, will be divided 
in certain proportions between myself and 
the farm labourers and you, as the bailiff." 

Once more Mr. Bostock was obliged to 
take out that pocket-handkerchief, with 
which he blew his nose violently, choked, 
became crimson in the face, blew his nose 
again, choked again, and finally, resumed 
his calm. 

" Oh !" he said ; " the profits of the farm, 
after paying me, the bailiff, and the wages 
and the necessary expenses, will go to us 
all in proper proportions, will they ? Well, 
sir, that's a most generous and liberal offer 



I40 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

on your part. I don't think there's another 
Squire in all the country, as knows land as 
you know land — because you've been round 
the world and must know all the land as is 
fit to call itself land — no, not a single other 
Squire alive as would make that proposal. 
Mr. Dunlop, I'm with you, and if you'll 
shake the hand of a honest man " — he held 
out his horny paw — '^ there you are." 

Alan took it, almost with tears. 

'' I believe you will serve the farm 
honestly and well, Bostock," he said. 

" I will, sir," replied the new bailiff. 
" Look round you and see the improve- 
ments I've made already with my small 
means. Why am I a poor man now and my 
neighbours rich ? Because I put into that 
land what they take out of it. Look at the 
farm implements — you'll buy them at a 
valuation, of course; I'll value them for 
you. Look at the horses and the stock, 
look at the machines, look at the fields. 
People come — ah ! for miles round — to visit 
this farm. It's been in print. Bostock's 
Farm, they called it. And after all these 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 141 

years, there's the rent unpaid, and — I'm 
not ashamed to say it, because the money's 
in the land, not in the bank — I go out of it, 
and become the bailiff at a salary of two 
hundred and fifty, paid weekly, which is 
five pounds a week, and a house rent-free, 
and the dairy and a field for the cows, and 
the pigs, and the orchard, and the farm 
stock at my valuation. Squire, you've got 
me dirt cheap. I don't grudge the bar- 
gain, because my heart's in the work, and 
I shall have no more trouble about rent, 
and give my whole mind to the farm. 
You'll have to spend a little money on the 
place,", he added, waving his hands with 
the air of one who commands. " But, Lord! 
it will all come back to you. Only you 
wait till we've been at work for a year or 
so. A little money here and a little there, 
a steam-engine here and another there. 
More cattle, more horses. Mr. Dunlop, I 
believe," he cried in a burst of enthusiasm, 
*' I believe you'll say, come this day five 
years, that you never did a better stroke of 
work in all your life than when you got me, 



142 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Stephen Bostock, to be your bailiff, dirt 
cheap. It isn't for me to say who's the 
best man in all the county. Go to Athel- 
ston and ask at the farmers' ordinary on 
market-day. And all I've got to say is — 
here am I, at your service. Trust every- 
thing to me ; let me, Stephen Bostock, buy 
and sell all by myself for the best advan- 
tage of the farm, as you say, Mr. Dunlop, 
and no questions asked, nor interference, 
nor anything, and — and then wait for the 
profits to be divided between you and me 
and the labourers. It's the labourers," he 
added, after a pause, '' that I think on 
most, not myself, nor you. You've got 
your rents, Mr. Dunlop. You're a gentle- 
man. I've got my salary — on'y two hun- 
dred and fifty, but ^ sufficient is enough to 
a contented mind, and better is a stalled 
ox with contentment than a dinner of 
herbs and strife therewith.' But they 
pore labourers, they've got nothing, only 
their wages. Well, sir, we'll make it 
up to them. You and me together, we 
will." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 143 

There was something contagious in the 
hearty, though vulgar, enthusiasm of the 
new bailiff, and Alan shook hands with 
him with effusion. When the Squire was 
gone the bailiff, after watching him care- 
fully across a field and a half, sat down 
and resumed openly that broad grin which 
he had before concealed behind the hand- 
kerchief. 

'* Me to buy and sell," he said. *' And 
the two hundred and fifty ! And rent free ! 
And the dairy ! And the pigs ! And the 
cows ! And all to the best advantage of 
the farm. Dammit, It's fine !" he said this 
critically. " That's w^hat It is — it's fine.'* 
He lay back, and laughed low and long. 
Then a sudden thought pierced the 
marrow of his heart, and he sat up 
again. 

*' How long will It last? One year? 
Two years ? Stephen Bostock, my lad, 
make hay while the sun shines. Buy 
and sell as much as you can to the best 
advantage. Ho ! ho ! — the best advan- 
tage — ha ! ha ! — of the farmer — ho ! ho ! — 



144 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

and the labourers — ha ! ha ! — the labour- 
ers ! Yar ! " He added the last words 
with the most profound contempt, which it 
^vas as well that Alan did not witness. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" That monster, Custom, who all sense doth eat." 

After this gratifying interview with farmer 
Bostock, Alan felt himself warranted in at 
once proceeding to business. Pending the 
signing of the agreement, which the honest 
bailiff undertook to get drawn up, he began 
by inviting the labourers on the farm to 
meet him on Saturday evening at the 
schools, when, after supper, he proposed 
to set forth in simple language, cautiously 
abstaining from eloquence or metaphor, his 
scheme for the advance of the higher 
civilisation. 

The men were invited to bring their 
wives, and those of the women whose 
family ties allowed, accepted with as much 

VOL. I. lO 



146 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

readiness as the men. Here, it was felt^ 
was a distinct step in advance. On the 
last occasion when the Squire met them in 
the schoolroom, he offered them a lecture, 
and never so much as a glass of beer to 
wash it down. Now, whatever suffering- 
might be in store for them in the way of 
speeches, one thing was quite clear, that 
there would be compensation in the way 
of meat and drink. The butcher and the 
landlord of the Spotted Lion, indeed, were 
ready to state what amount of compen- 
sation. 

" The supper," said one of the group in 
the Spotted Lion, on Friday evening, '* is 
roast beef, and roast mutton, hot, with 
potatoes and cabbage." 

" Ah !" from all lips sympathetically. 

** And beer. As much beer as we like. 
None o' your half-pints with young Squire.. 
I seen the Squire's orders in writing." 

" Ah !" — unanimously. 

"Seems a kind of a waste now, don't 
it ?" asked a venerable sage, smoking in 
the corner. '' Saturday night an' all. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 147 

Might ha bin here as usual, and had the 
beer to ourselves, and kep' the beef for 
Sunday." 

That was true, and feelingly put. 

'' And there's a lecture, William ?" the 
ancient sage went on. " Same as two 
year ago." 

" Ay. There's a lecture. But, Lord ! 
after the beef — and the cabbage — and the 
beer — what's a lecture ?" 

Alan presided at the supper, supported 
by the Vicar on his right, and his new 
bailiff on the left. When every one had 
eaten as much beef as he possibly could, 
and the cloth was removed, the men were 
agreeably surprised by the production of 
pipes, tobacco, and more beer. The place, 
to be sure, was not what they were accus- 
tomed to for smoking purposes, and the 
tobacco did not possess some of the quali- 
ties which they preferred; but there was 
always the beer. 

The women began to steal away when 
the pipes w^ere lit, and by the time the 
room was quite full of smoke and the 

10 — 2 



148 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Squire was choking, there were none but 
men present. Then Alan rose to make 
the speech which inaugurated his co-oper- 
ative farm. 

He saw with a sinking heart that they 
immediately assumed the attitude which 
long custom at church made them put on 
for the reception of a discourse. That is 
to say, they leaned back in their chairs, 
left off talking — some of them put down 
their pipes out of respect — and with eyes 
fixed upon the rafters, alio wed their thoughts 
to wander in pleasant fields. There was, to 
be sure, a freshness in being allowed to 
drink beer and smoke during a sermon. 

" My friends — " Here there was a 
general shuffling of legs, as every man 
helped himself hastily to another glass of 
gratuitous beer, the idea emanating from 
the aged philosopher. It might be— it 
would certainly be — their last that evening, 
because no doubt when the sermon was 
finished they would all be dismissed with 
the benediction given, so to speak, dry, as 
on Sundav. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 149 

'' My friends — " Alan gave them time 
to recover and began again. '' I have 
asked you here to-night, not, as happened 
two years ago, to dehver a lecture, but to 
ask your advice." He paused here, and 
looked round, but on no single face did he 
discern the least gleam or glimmer of 
interest. Every man's eyes were steadily 
fixed on the roof, and every man was 
quietly but resolutely smoking, his mind, 
of course, in some more congenial place. 

This was disheartening. Alan tried 
again. 

" My friends," he said once more, '' I 
want to ask your advice. I stand among 
you, the owner of this land, and the re- 
ceiver of its rents." 

" Hear! hear!" cried Mr. Bostock ; and 
at an interruption so uncommon in a 
sermon, many of the hearers recovered 
consciousness suddenly, and found them- 
selves not in church at all, but in the school- 
room. Then they realised the position, 
and relapsed again. 

" An owner of land and a receiver of 



150 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

rents/' Alan went on, " occupies a position 
which, I believe, is only beginning to be 
generally recognised. He incurs responsi- 
bilities, in fact, of the most serious kind." 

He paused again. There was no gleam 
of sympathy in any single eye. But that 
might be the effect of the tobacco haze. 

" The conditions of agriculture are, in 
this country," he went on, '' very different 
to those in any of the places I have visited. 
In all countries except England, men farm 
their own land. Mostly, they farm it with 
their own hands. Here we have not only 
the owner, a man of capital, but also the 
tenant farmer, another man of capital, to 
come between the labourer and the profits 
of his labour. That is a state of things 
which we cannot entirely alter, but may 
modify." 

He stopped again. A low and melodious 
snore from the end of the table where one 
of the younger members had fallen asleep, 
increased his auditors' belief that they were 
really in church. 

" An owner of land in England," Alan 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 151 

continued, " is a trustee ; he is a responsible 
agent ; he holds a large part of the public 
welfare in his hands. It is his duty to 
leave no stone unturned in the effort to 
secure the largest amount of happiness 
attainable by the general mass of mankind." 

He thought that short sentences, de- 
livered slowly, would have the effect of 
arresting the attention, and though the entire 
silence (except the single snore) and appa- 
rent apathy with which his words had 
hitherto been received were disheartening, 
yet he hoped that when he got through his 
preamble the men would receive his inten- 
tions with enthusiasm. 

'' I start, therefore, with the grand modern 
principle that labour must be paid a suffi- 
cient wage to keep the labourer and his 
family in health. So far, no doubt, you are 
all agreed." 

Not a soul made the slightest response. 

" Next, I advance the grand new prin- 
ciple in social economy that the labourers in 
any enterprise are entitled, in addition to 
their wages, to a share in the profits." 



152 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" Hear ! hear !" from Mr. Bostock, which 
brought down the upward -turned faces. 
When, however, they found that the ser- 
mon was not finished, the faces all went 
up again. 

" I am about to ask your assistance," 
Alan went on, " in the establishment of a 
farm conducted on these and other new 
principles. I have taken the farm pre- 
viously held by our friend Mr. Bostock, and 
have undertaken to put the general man- 
agement into his hands as bailiff. The 
details of this management I leave to you 
for settlement among yourselves." 
'' Hear! hear !" from Mr. Bostock. 
The faces came down again, and looked 
wonderingly around them. They were all 
lost in the sleepy imaginations which belong 
to sermon-time : they were full of fat mutton 
and heavy beer : they were not — then — in 
church : and there was the Squire boomin'^ 
away. What was it all about ? 

" I propose that you hold a weekly Par- 
liament in this room, every Saturday night,, 
for the discussion of all and every topic con> 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 153, 

nected with the farm. You will understand 
that on your own decisions will rest the 
prosperity of the undertaking and your own 
chances of profit. 

*' As regards the profits of the farm, I 
shall take for my own share a percentage to 
represent five per cent, on the marketable 
value : the bailiff will receive a salary of 
two hundred and fifty pounds : your own 
wages will, of course, have to come out of 
the annual returns : there will be a per- 
centage set aside for wear and tear of 
farm implements : and then — then — my 
friends, we shall divide between us all the 
remaining profits. I, as the landlord, will 
take a certain share : the bailiff, as superior 
officer and manager, his share : the rest 
will be divided among you equally." 

There was not the slightest enthusiasm 
— not the least response ; all the faces 
turned swiftly upwards contemplating the 
rafters — everybody silent out of respect. 
You don't interrupt a parson in a pulpit by 
singing out " Hear ! hear !" or any such 
foolishness. Not at all — you sit and listen. 



ISA. THE MONADS OF THELEMA. 

and when he has done, you go away. As 
for what he has said, that Is his affair, not 
yours. 

Alan was a good deal disappointed, but 
he persevered. 

" You will elect your own officers, ap- 
point your own hours of labour, provide for 
everything by free discussion and voting. 
For my own part," here he sank his voice, 
and spoke solemnly, because this was the 
real pith and gist of the whole thing, " I 
shall ask you to let me become one of your- 
selves, work with you, eat and drink with 
you, share your toil as well as your recrea- 
tion, and contribute from the better chances 
I have had of acquiring knowledge all I can 
that may be helpful to the new commu- 
nity." 

The faces came down when the voice 
dropped, because It was thus that the Vicar 
always ended his sermons. So that all 
heard the Squire, to their unspeakable 
astonishment, offering to live with them, 
work with them, and eat and drink w^ith 
them. *' Finally," he said, " I think, con- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 155 

sidering the advantages that we possess : 
a bailiff who takes a salary instead of a 
profit " — here Stephen Bostock pulled out 
his pocket-handkerchief to conceal the grin 
which once more involuntarily played 
round his honest lips — " a landlord who 
wants no more than a small percentage on 
the value of the farm, and a knot of hard- 
working, disciplined, and — and — intelligent 
men like yourselves — I think, I say, that 
we may begin by raising the wages three 
shillings all round." 

Here the Squire sat down, and the men 
stared at him. 

Three shillings all round. That they 
understood, and the fact, once fairly under- 
stood, sent their dull blood coursing more 
swiftly through their veins. Three shil- 
lings a week ! Eighteen pints of beer ! 
But the possibilities of such an increase 
cannot be grasped in a moment. 

Alan rose again when the emotion had 
subsided, and pulled out a small bundle of 
papers. They were fly-leaves, on which the 
principal points of his speech had been 



156 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

printed in clear type and in a few words. 
He put them upon the table. 

'' Now," he said, " let this be the first 
evening Parliament of the new community! 
I leave these papers with you, so that you 
may understand, by reading them, exactly 
what it is that I propose, by your help, to 
institute. We shall now leave you to your 
deliberations. Pray send for any more 
beer that you may require." 

The Vicar, Mr. Bostock, and the Squire 
gone, the men, alone and comfortable, 
looked at each other with mazed and turbid 
understandings. 

'' What did he say, William ?" asked the 
same old sage who had lamented the loss 
of a Saturday night and the waste of good 
beef. 

" Three shillin* a week," replied William. 
'•' And the Squire, he'll come and live along 
of us." 

" We don't want no Squire," growled the 
blacksmith. 

** And Farmer Bostock, he's to be bai- 
liff." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 157 

There was another growl. 

Then William, a young man, spoke 
again. 

" Squire said we was to have what 
beer we wanted. How much do we 
want ?" 

One suggested a pint all round ; another, 
and a thirstier, rose to a pint and a half. 
There were about fifteen men present. 
William, with a boldness which marked 
him out for future success, soared higher. 

'* Let's hev' a cask/' he said. 

As there were fifteen men present, that 
was about three quarts apiece. The cask 
was brought, and instantly tapped. The 
deliberations were conducted as long 
as it lasted, which was at least three 
hours. 

No conclusions were arrived at. But 
the imagination was let loose upon the 
Squire's future manner of life, and how his 
father would like it. 

'* William," presently asked the old man, 
*' they papers as the Squire left on the 
table. What's they for ?" 



158 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

*' Pipe-lights, gaffer," replied William 
promptly. 

" Oh ! and very thoughtful of the Squire^ 
too. Reach me one, William." 

This, alas ! was the end of the Squire s 
little tract. 




CHAPTER IX. 

" Strong reasons make strong actions." 

The cottage in which Alan proposed to- 
carry out his project was one of the humblest 
in the village. It consisted of two rooms ; 
that on the ground-floor opening directly on 
the little front garden, and paved with stone, 
was ten feet square and eight feet high. 
That on the floor above was of the same 
superficial area, but had a sloping roof, so 
that the cubical contents were much smaller. 
In fact, it was a room in which a man would 
hesitate to swing a cat, from the dreadful 
uncertainty whether the cat might not 
clutch the walls and turn to rend him. The 
room was lighted by a small window con- 
taining two panes only. 



i6o THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" You must have a curtain across the 
door, Alan," said Miranda, inspecting the 
arrangements. '' I will make it for you of 
some cheap stuff, so that it may be copied 
by the village. A flower-box may be put 
in the window for mignonette and wall- 
flowers. You may put a little bookcase 
opposite the window. And, for very 
comfort's sake, you must have some carpet 
over the cold stones. I can't very well 
send you blankets at Christmas, Alan, can 
I ? Let me send you a piece of carpet 
instead — oh ! good serviceable carpet ; 
Kidderminster, not Turkey carpet at all." 

" I have been thinking," said Alan, " that 
one way of getting to understand these 
people, will be by asking them here and 
giving them tea, with — with jam, I suppose, 
and so forth." 

It was not till she was alone that 
Miranda felt a temptation to laugh over the 
picture of the peasants eating their way to 
the Higher Culture through piles of jam. 
They agreed that, as regards the furniture, 
simplicity must be studied first, and that 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. i6i 

sesthetic effect must be practically made of 
secondary Importance. They fixed upon a 
wooden arm-chair, a deal table, unvarnished, 
and two or three common strong chairs for 
the coming visitors who were to eat jam. 
The bookcase presented difficulties. Should 
it be fitted for the use of the village, or for 
that of the Squire ? It was with a sigh 
that Alan pronounced for the village, and 
filled it with works on practical husbandry, 
political economy, agricultural chemistry, 
and other works known to be in constant 
demand by English villagers. 

" I must devote my evenings, as well as 
my days, Miranda," said Alan, on the eve 
of taking up his residence in the village, 
"to the people. But I shall be able to see 
you on Sundays." 

"And, Alan, may I come to see you — 
in the fields ?" 

Alan laughed. 

" You may, if you like. You will find 
me in a smock-frock." 

" A smock-frock ? You, Alan ?" 

Somehow the question of dress goes 

VOL. I. n 



i62 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

home to the feminine mind with greater 
force and directness than to ourselves. 
Miranda would have preferred seeing her 
new Crusader cap-a-pie in chain armour. 
But in a smock-frock ! 

Alan laughed. 

'' The uniform came home last night," he 
said. " In the solitude of my own chamber 
I put it on. Stay, Miranda. No one is 
about. Suppose I go and put It on again, 
for you.'' 

He disappeared for a few minutes, and 
presently returned, disguised as a British 
labourer. He had on a smock-frock, a soft 
felt hat, leggings, gaiters, and corduroy 
trousers. He carried a whip In his hand, 
and wore a red cotton handkerchief tied 
round his neck. No one knows, until he 
has tried It, how vast a gulf separates those 
who wear from those who do not wear a 
collar. 

/;'Alan!" cried Miranda, In a sort of 
terror, *' I am afraid of you. Is It possible 
for clothes to make all that difference ? 
You \od^ exactly like a rustic. Even your 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 163 

own air of distinction, that I was proud of, 
has disappeared. I believe clothes are live 
things, after all. To be sure, everything is 
new, and If you only had a rose in your 
buttonhole, you would pass for a villager at 
the opera. But go away quickly, and 
change before any of the servants see you. 
If they do, your authority is lost" 

Alan took possession of his new house 
with pride mixed with anxiety. Like all 
genuine enthusiasts, he had very little care 
about what people said of him. That did 
not enter into his calculations. The pride 
arose from the realisation of a dream w^hich 
had lain In his brain for two years and 
more ; the anxiety from a fear that he 
might not be strong enough to carry it out. 
A woman whom he had engaged to wait 
upon him was in the cottage to receive 
him. 

"You have got everything as I ordered?" 
Alan asked. " Breakfast such as the men 
all take ; things Hox luncheon — I mean, 
dinner ?" 

Everything, she [said, had been pro- 

II — 2 



1 64 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

vided. Thus assured, Alan dismissed 
her. 

It was eight o'clock and a cold rainy 
evening in October. The fire was burning, 
and the room was illuminated by a single 
tallow candle in a brass candlestick. The 
village was very quiet, and the rain fell 
outside, pattering upon his doorstep, cheer- 
less. The sensation of being quite alone 
in a house, even a two-roomed cottage, was 
chilly. And there was the voluntary 
deprivation of tobacco, which was to begin 
from that eveninof. Abstinence from stronor 
drinks, too, was to commence on the spot. 
Alan sat and meditated. He tried to 
picture to himself a village where the 
people were all cultured, all virtuous, all 
happy. He tried to lay down for himself 
laws to guide his conversation with the 
men, his daily toil, and his evenings. But 
it was an unpropltious time. For the 
moment, he took no joy in his projects. In 
all undertakings of difficulty, that moment 
is the most unhappy when it has been 
fesolved upon, and on the eve of cum- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 165 

mencement, because then the dangers stare 
you most clearly in the face, and success 
seems most doubtful. 

Ten o'clock. He was to rise early, and 
had better otq to bed. He climbed the 
narrow stairs, bumped his head once or 
twice against the sloping roof and went to 
bed, feeling exactly like Alexander Selkirk. 
He woke in the night choked with the 
confined air of the little room. It was 
dark ; he had no matches, and could not 
open the window. With the aid of a brush 
he smashed a pane of glass, and having 
thus established a simple ventilator, went 
to bed again. 

He awoke at six, an hour late. Then a 
touch of human weakness seized him. He 
would not begin his farm-work that day. 
Next day he would be called in time. And, 
he thought, as he was awake, he would get 
up. No one to bring him hot water, no 
hot water to bring; no use in ringing the 
bell, no bell to ring. He felt more and 
more like Alexander Selkirk. Alas ! he 



i66 THE MONKS OB THELEMA. 

reflected, no fire lit, and breakfast to be 
made by himself. 

Downstairs, he threw open the shutter 
and began with a fooHsh shame lest any 
one should see him, — to be sure it was not 
an occupation which offers, at the first blush, 
many attractions, — to lay the fire. This is 
not difficult to do, but it requires delicacy 
in the handling, and there are certain 
details, such as the sweeping up of the 
cinders, which, although a part of honour- 
able labour, is not the work one would wish 
to do in public. You have to go on your 
knees to do it properly ; no man likes that 
kind of attitude, unless he is at Wimbledon. 
The fire kindled, it was necessary to boil 
the kettle for breakfast. Fortunately, the 
kettle was full. He had only, therefore, 
to put it on, lay out the things for break- 
fast, and take that meal. 

When the fire was lit, he began to feel- 
in better spirits. Of course there would 
be hardships. That was to be expected. 
Many sorts of hardships. For instance, 
was not there a certain — hem ! — an earth i- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 167 

ness, a mouldy odour about the room, 
which he had failed to notice the night 
before ? Perhaps, if he opened the door, — 
he did so ; outside, the rain was still patter- 
ing on his doorstep, and standing in great 
pools about the road. Clay soil, stone 
floor, ground heavy with rain, — these were 
the generators of his mouldiness. He 
made a mental note anent foundations. 
Good ; the kettle must be nearly boiling 
now ; let us set out breakfast. 

No tablecloth; bread — where is the 
butter ? where is the milk ? tea ; the tea- 
pot ; the sugar — brown sugar. Nothing 
else ? no bacon ? no kidneys ? nothing 
else at all ? Do labourers make their 
breakfast off bread and tea, with brown 
sugar and no milk } Stay. In the corner 
there is something white lying on a plate. 
He set this down on the table and contem- 
plated it with dismay. 

Yet he had pledged himself to live like 
the farm labourers. 

A piece of cold boiled pork, only the fat, 
not a morsel of lean — a lump of white, 



i68 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

hard, unredeemed fat. Do our agricultural 
workmen, then, habitually devour the fat 
of pigs ? 

He took up a knife and fork, resolved to 
conquer this luxurious distaste for pork fat. 
He laid it down. Again, and with the 
same result. 

Then he sighed. At what a price must 
his end be attained ! Perhaps the kettle 
was boiling. There were none of the 
signs — no bubbling and running over. He 
poured a little into a cup. Heavens ! it 
was hardly warm. He sat down with some 
temper ; not the broad facts of disinterested 
devotion, but these little details worry and 
annoy one. 

He drew his chair to the side of the fire. 
If he kept the door open he would catch 
cold ; if he shut it, there was that abomin- 
able mouldiness. Patience. Let the kettle 
boil. 

The warmth of the fire, the early hour, 
the exertion of laying the fire, each of these 
Influences falling singly and together upon 
him, presendy caused his eyes to close. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 169 

The fire having made the kettle to boil, 
went on, in its zeal to do the work 
thoroughly, until it had boiled all the water 
away. Then it got the opportunity, which 
it never neglects, of burning a hole in the 
bottom of the kettle. B^^-and-by the door, 
which was unfastened, swung gently open, 
and the rain began to beat in upon Alan's 
new carpet. Then a cat, belonging to a 
neighbouring cottage, crept in softly, and 
sat down before the fire, pretending to have 
made a mistake about the house. As the 
sleeper took no notice, she rose and began 
slowly to explore the room in quest of 
breakfast for herself, if any were to be had. 
Nothing in the cupboard, nothing on the 
floor. On the table a piece of pork fat 
and a loaf of bread. The cat turned the 
pork over with her paws, smelt it, and 
finally, digging her teeth into a corner of 
the skin, jumped lightly to the ground with 
it and disappeared. But Alan went on 
sleeping. 

Then two little boys, of three and four, 
looked in at the door. I do not know 



I70 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

where they came from, but realising the 
situation — somebody sound asleep, rain and 
cold outside — they crept in and sat on the 
carpet before the fire, warming their hands 
and feet. Presently one of them, the more 
enterprising one, began to prowl round the 
room, and espied a sugar-basin. This he 
stealthily brought to his companion, and 
both, sitting down before the fire, fell-to 
upon the sugar, each keeping one eye on 
the sleeper, without the necessity of speech. 
When the sugar was quite gone, they gently 
rose, replaced the empty basin, and crept 
away on the points of their toes like stage 
brigands. But still the sleeping man slept 
on. 

When the children were gone, the rain 
and wind beat in at the open door at their 
will without awakening the sleeper. Alan 
was in the land of dreams. 

Then there came along the street an old 
woman. She was going to buy a loaf. 
Seeing the door of the cottage open, she 
looked in, with the curiosity of her sex, to 
see how the young Squire had furnished it. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 171 

He was there himself, asleep by the fire. 
Seeing that he really was asleep, and took 
no manner of notice, she was emboldened 
to look round the room. From looking 
about the room to stepping inside out of 
the rain was but a natural sequence of 
events. But it was not in the natural order 
of things that, while her eyes watched the 
face of the sleeper, her right hand, while 
the accomplice left held up the apron, 
should steal forth and convey the loaf be- 
neath that feminine robe proper for con- 
cealment. When she was gone, Alan's 
breakfast-table was as bare as Dame Hub- 
bard's, cupboard. 

The morning advanced. All the men 
had long since gone off to their work ; but 
now the women, whose household duties 
were by this time pretty well accomplished 
for the day, came out and began to gossip 
at the doors. And then the rumour ran 
from house to house that the Squire was in 
his cottage, that the cottage door was 
open, and the Squire was sound asleep 
inside, for all the world to see. 



172 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

When Alan awoke, which was about 
half-past eight, he sat up in his chair and 
rubbed his eyes. Before him, gathered 
together at the open door of his cottage, 
were the whole feminine population, with 
all the children who could not yet walk. 
There was the ancient gammer, her face 
seamed and lined, and her shoulders bent. 
There was the strong and sturdy house- 
wife, mother of many, one of whom she 
was brandishing. There was the newly- 
married wife, fresh from the wash-tub, the 
suds yet lying on her red arms. There was 
the maiden of blushing sixteen, carrying 
her infant brother. All were there ; all 
were staring with open mouths and eyes, 
whispering, tittering, and waiting. 

When he sat up they started back ; when 
he opened his eyes they fled multivious ; so 
that all he got was a mere sense, or dim 
half-photograph, of the scene, which might 
even have been a dream. But he heard 
the rustle of flying skirts and the skurry of 
retreating feet, and he divined what had 
happened. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 173 

But they ought not to have taken away 
his loaf, and his pork, and his sugar. That 
was carrying curiosity beyond its legiti- 
mate limits. And the fire was out, and 
the water had boiled away, and there was 
a great hole burnt in the bottom of the 
kettle. He looked round him in dismay. 
Up to the present he had succeeded in 
nothing but in making himself ridiculous. 

Why is it, he asked, that a man wall 
cheerfully bear insult, contempt, and mas- 
representation, and yet fall into unphilo- 
sophic rages when he incurs ridicule ? It 
was a question to which no answer 
came. 

Meantime, what was he to do .^ 

It was nine o'clock. He was hungry. 
He would consider this a day lost, and he 
would go over to Dalmeny Hall and ask 
for breakfast. 



CHAPTER X. 

" Methinks it were a happy life, 
To be no better than a homely swain." 

" Well, sir," Bailiff Bostock said, " If you 
really do mean It, and will take and work 

with the men Do you mean It — just 

as you say, and no favour ?" 

*' I mean just what I say. I shall begin 
to-morrow, and am here now to learn my 
duties for the day." 

Alan was determined there should be no 
more loss of a day. 

*' You can't follow the plough, that wants 
practice ; and you can't manage the engine, 
that wants training." 

The bailiff rubbed his chin thoughtfully. 

'' There's a stack of hay we're going to 
cut Into to-morrow ; but I can't send you 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 175 

up the ladder, atop o' that great stack. 
Sure as twopence you'd fall down and break 
something-. Can you drive, Squire ?" 

" Of course I can." 

" Then I'll tell you what you shall do. 
It is a dirty job, too " 

" Never mind how rougfh it is." 

" I think you will be able to manage it, 
for the first job, better than anything else. 
You come here to-morrow morning, at six 
sharp, and I'll find you a day's work, never 
fear." 

With this assurance, Alan was fain to be 
content. He then proceeded, being tho- 
roughly ashamed of the morning's fiasco, to 
guard against a repetition of it. With this 
view he hired a boy to call him at five 
sharp, got a ventilator for his bedroom, an 
alarum clock, which he set for five o'clock. 
He next purchased a new kettle, and pro- 
vided such materials for breakfast as he 
would eat, deferring the cold pork until 
such time as he should become hardened 
to the bread of affliction. 

It was five o'clock in the afternoon when 



176 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

these arrangements were finally completed. 
He remembered that he had dinner to get, 
bought a beefsteak and potatoes, and pro- 
ceeded, with such slender art as was at his 
command, to grill the former and boil the 
latter. The potatoes came out hard, but 
he had eaten horse-beefsteak in America. 

Dinner over he sat down, and spent the 
evening in calculating how best he could live 
on eighteen shillings a week, with a little 
extra at harvest-time — say a guinea, all told. 
Rent, half-a-crown ; clothes and boots, ^v^ 
pounds a year at least — say two shillings a 
a week. Remained, sixteen shillings and 
sixpence for everything. Fuel, candles, 
soap, odds and ends, would carry away 
half-a-crown of this. Fourteen shillings 
left for food and savings ; for Alan was 
resolute on shovvinor the rustics how to 
save. Say elghteenpence a day for food. 

Food. What is food ? Half-a-crown 
goes at the club for luncheon alone with 
great ease. He would want, he thought, a 
pound of meat, half a dozen potatoes, and 
a loaf of bread every day. There is 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 177 

elghteenpence gone at once. Tea, coffee, 
sugar, milk, butter, cheese, small groceries : 
all this had to come out of the odd six- 
pence. And how much would be left for 
saving ? Every penny would have to be 
looked at, every tea-spoonful of tea hesi- 
tated over. And then the washing. The 
male mind does not at first understand the 
meaning of this item. Now it occurred to 
him that unless, in the dead of night, and 
with barred doors, he did his own washing, 
this charge would be the last straw to 
break the cameFs back. And yet, with the 
washing before their eyes, the labourers 
found money to spend at the Spotted Lion. 
It must come out of his meat. Overcome 
with the prospect, Alan folded up his paper 
and went to bed. 

In the morning he had a beautiful dream. 
He was walking hand in hand with Mi- 
randa in a flowery meadow, in whose 
hedges highly -cultured peasants had 
planted geraniums, standard and monthly 
roses, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, dahlias, 
and the stately hollyhocks, which raised 

VOL. I. 12 



178 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

their heads and blossomed among the haw- 
thorn, honeysuckle, and straggling black- 
berry. Beneath them, on the banks, 
flowered mignonette, verbena, heliotrope, 
and all sorts of sweet flowers, growing 
apparently wild. The grass amid which 
they walked was luxuriant and long, and 
bright with buttercups and cowslips. 
Round them, as they walked hand in hand 
under a sunny sky, sat, walked, or played 
the villagers, engaged in various occupa- 
tions, all of which demanded the Higher 
Culture. For one, clad in a smock-frock, 
scrupulously clean, was reading Mr. Pater's 
*' Studies of the Renaissance ;" another, 
similarly attired, was studying Darwin's 
" Descent of Man ;" another, an older man, 
was sitting, brow bent, and pencil in hand, 
with which he made marginalia over Mill's 
" Political Economy ;" a fourth was com- 
posing music ; a fifth was collecting speci- 
mens in the hedges for a hortus siccus. Of 
the girls, three were standing together in 
the attitude of the Graces, only daintily 
attired, singing part songs, with clasped 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 179 

hands ; some were making embroidery for 
their Sunday frocks, and one was reading 
Ruskin's " Fors Clavigera " aloud for the 
benefit of those who embroidered. Of the 
younger men, one in a corner by himself 
was declaiming, Shakespeare in hand; 
another was airily reading that sweet, and 
simple, and musical poem called "Sordello," 
singing from its rippling measures as he 
brushed away the dew across the upland 
lawn ; another was correcting the proofs of 
a Note on the village archaeology, which 
traced the connection of the parish pump 
with the Roman occupation — these proofs 
were destined for the Academy ; another 
was catching swiftly and deftly with brush 
and paper the ever-changing effects of cloud 
and sunshine on the river ; the blacksmith 
was writing a villafielle ; and the school- 
master was guessing a double acrostic. 
The elder ladies, assisted by the oldest in- 
habitant of the village, Methusalem Parr, 
were engaged in committing to paper the 
folk-lore of the district with a view of send- 
ing it to the editor of Mehisme, Among 

12—2 



l8o THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the mdrchen thus set down for the first 
time was a nursery story of a Pig, a Porcu- 
pine, and a Piper, which afterwards became 
famous, and was traced to the very foot of 
the Himalayas, where the inhabitants be- 
lieved that it descended from Heaven. 
Just as Alan, in explaining to Miranda the 
honour and glory which this relic of old- 
world story would confer upon the village 
of Weyland, his dream grew a little 
troubled. The young men and the maidens 
got confused before his eyes ; the meadow 
grew cloudy ; the villagers all seemed to 
start asunder in terror ; books, pens, pen- 
cils, all were thrown aside, and they fled 
multivious with oaths and shrieks, which 
were not loud and coarse, but low and cul- 
tured. Then the meadow changed itself 
into a small whitewashed room, there was 
no Miranda at all, and he was lying in his 
cottage bedroom, alone. 

" Ting-a-ring-ting !" — was ever alarum 
more wildly irritating ? He sprang from 
his bed and hurled a boot which silenced 
that alarum for ever. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. i8i 

• Bang, bang, bang ! " Five o'clock, 
master." That was the boy calling him. 
He composed his shattered nerves as well 
as he could, and proceeded to dress. It 
was with a mixture of foolish shame and 
pride that he put on his corduroys, button- 
up waistcoat^ and clean white smock ; these 
assumed, he descended the stairs, lit the 
fire, made his tea, managed to get through 
a little bread and butter — five o'clock is 
really too early for breakfast — tied his red 
handkerchief round his neck, put on his 
soft felt hat, and sallied forth a new Don 
Quixote. He naturally felt uncomfortable 
in his new garb : that was to be expected. 
And as he walked rapidly down the village 
street, along which the labourers were 
slouching along to their work, it was not 
pleasant to hear the rustics, whose sense of 
humour is naturally strongest when the 
point of the epigram refers to their own 
familiar pursuits, exploded as he passed, 
and choked respectfully. 

In the farmyard, besides the usual be- 
longings, was a cart and horse ready for 



i82 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

use, led by a boy. Bailiff Bostock, his own 
horse ready saddled, was waiting impa- 
tiently for Alan. 

" Now, Squire," he said, pointing to such 
a heap as might have come from the Augean 
stables, *' you see that pile o' muck. It's 
got to be carted to the fields and spread 
out in little piles, same as you've often seen 
when you go out shooting." 

" I understand," said Alan, his heart 
warming with the prospect of real work ; 
" it's got to be pitchforked into the cart, 
driven to the field, and pitchforked back 
again. Isn't it boys' work, Bailiff?" 

The Bailiff grinned. 

" Ask me that in half an hour," he said, 
and, jumping into his saddle, rode off on 
the business of the day. 

Alan rolled up the sleeves of his smock, 
and took up the pitchfork. The boy went 
behind the cart to grin. The smock-frock 
was white, and the job was so very, very 
likely to destroy that whiteness that the 
boy needs must go behind the cart to laugh. 
Had he not been afraid of the Squire he 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 183 

would have told him that he should begin 
by taking off the smock and the smart 
waistcoat under it. 

Then the job began. To handle a 
pitchfork, like other responsible work, re- 
quires practice. The crafty pitchforker 
grasps his instrument at some point experi- 
mentally ascertained to be that of least 
weight and greatest leverage. Had Alan 
been a Cambridge instead of an Oxford 
man, he would have known something of 
such points. But he was ignorant of me- 
chanics, and had to find out for himself. 

Half a dozen times that boy, who should 
have been on the shafts, assisting at the 
reception of the stuff, came from behind the 
shafts, each time to go back again and 
laugh as noiselessly as he could. Alan 
heard him, though he condoned the 
offence, considering the novelty of the 
thing. 

The first time that boy looked round 
the cart the Squire was beginning to 
puff and pant ; the second time he looked, 
the Squire had pulled off his hat, and his 



1 84 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

face was shining as the face of one in a 
Turkish bath ; the third time he had 
thrown aside his red neckerchief and the 
perspiration was streaming from his brows. 
But still the Squire worked on. Never 
before had that boy seen a cart filled more 
swiftly. 

" Now, boy," he said good-humouredly, 
''when you have done laughing you may 
tell me where w^e have to take this load." 

The boy essayed to speak, but choked. 
The situation was altogether too funny. 
He could only point. 

Alan drove the cart down one lane and 
up another without any disaster, the boy 
following behind him, still grinning as 
noiselessly as he knew. Then they came 
to their fields and the boy pointed to the 
spot where they had to begin. '' This will 
be easy work," said Alan, mounting the 
cart. 

The task, indeed, was simple. Only to 
pitch out the manure in small heaps, stand- 
ing in the cart. 

The boy went to the horse's head 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 185 

Aftp^ tlxv. nrst heap was out — rather dex- 
terously, Alan thought — the boy made a 
remarkable utterance : 

" O— osier !" 

Instantly the cart went on, and Alan, 
losing his balance, was prostrated into the 
cart itself, where he lay supine, his legs 
kicking up. At this sight the boy broke 
down altogether and laughed, roaring, and 
bellowing, and weeping with laughter so 
that the welkin rang. 

Alan got up rather ruefully. To be sure, 
it was absurd to quarrel with the boy for 
laughing. And yet the condition of that 
smock-frock from shoulder to hem ! Could 
the washing be included in the fourteen 
shillings ? He pitchforked the second pile 
out of the cart. 

" O — osier !" cried the boy, and the cart 
went on. 

This time Alan fell on his hands and 
face. The front of the smock was now like 
the back, and the boy, who had a fine sense 
of humour, sat down on the ground for un- 
deserved enjoyment of his laugh. 



i86 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

" Why the devil," cried the Squire, '' can't 
you tell me when you are going on ?" 

" I did," said the boy, " I said 
' O— osier/ " 

Alan was silent, and resumed his work 
with greater care to preserve his balance at 
the word '' O — sier." 

Just then the Bailiff rode into the 
field. 

" Well, Squire," he said, " boys' work — 
eh?" 

" Not quite." 

" Had a fall in the muck ? Better have 
taken off your frock and your waistcoat, too. 
Live and learn, sir. Don't you be too 
wasteful o' the muck. That stuff's pre- 
cious. My missus, she says, if the Squire'll 
drop in when he's ready for a bite, she'll be 
honoured." 

*' Thank you. Bailiff. I am going to live 
as the men live." 

"What ha' you got for your dinner, 
boy ?" 

" Bread and cheese." 

" What has your daddy got ?" 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 187 

" Bread and cheese." 

*' You see, Squire, bread and cheese won't 
do for the likes of you. However, you 
have your own way. Have you got your 
dinner in your pocket, sir ?" 

" Why— no." 

** Now, sir, do you think we can afford 
the time for the labourer to go all the way 
home and back again for dinner ?" 

That argum.ent was irresistible, and Alan 
went to the Bailiff's house, where he was 
relieved of the unlucky smock. 

Mrs. Bostock gave him some boiled pork 
and greens, with a glass of beer. That was 
at twelve o'clock : never had he been so 
hungry. 

After dinner, he fed the pigs. Then he 
was set weeding, which the Bailiff thought 
a light and pleasant occupation for an 
October afternoon. 

" I can hardly sit up," he wrote to Mi- 
randa that evening, " but I must tell you 
that I have done my first day's work. At 
present I have had no opportunity of con- 



i88 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

versing with the men, but that will come in 
due course, no doubt. My only companion 
to-day has been a boy who laughed the 
whole time. Good-night, Miranda." 



CHAPTER XI. 

" The mansion's self was vast and venerable : 
With more of the monastic than has been 
Preserved elsewhere : the cloisters still were stable, 
The cells, too, and refectory, I ween." 

It is not to be understood that Alan was 
entirely satisfied with a lonely evening in a 
two-roomed cottage, or that he ceased 
altogether his visits at Dalmeny Hall. 
Occasionally, to be sure, but this was only 
at the beginning of his career as a peasant, 
he varied the monotony of the evening 
by inviting a brother farm-labourer to take 
supper with him. On these occasions the 
repast was of a substantial kind, accompa- 
nied by coffee, and followed by pipes. But 
it brought little joy, much less than might 
have been expected. The beefsteak was 



I90 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

eaten with hunger, but In manifest dis-ease ; 
there was no camaraderie as between 
fellow-workers In the same noble cause ; 
the coffee was accepted as a poor sub- 
stitute for the beer of the Spotted Lion, 
and conversation flagged. Perhaps, Alan 
thought, there was some defect in his own 
mind which checked the sympathy neces- 
sary to bring out the full flavour of rustic 
society, and to enter into Its Inner soul. 
Else why should the talk be a series of 
questions on his part, and of answers on 
the other, like the Church Catechism ? 
And why should his friend, departing at 
the earliest hour possible, manifest In his 
artless features a lively joy that he was 
now free to seek the shades of the Spotted 
Lion, and pour forth to friendly ears the 
complaint of a swain who found a supper 
too dearly bought at the cost of a night 
with the Squire. 

Once, and only once, Alan ventured 
within the walls of the tavern. It was In the 
evening. A full parliament was assembled 
In the taproom. Every man had his pipe: 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 191 

every man his mug of beer : the windows 
were close shut : the fire was burning 
brightly : the petroleum lamp was turned 
on full : and what with the beer, the to- 
bacco, the smell of clothes drying slowly in 
the warm room — for outside it was raining 
— and the petroleum, the stench was like 
a London fog, inasmuch as it could be seen 
felt, and handled almost, as well as tasted. 
When Alan appeared at the door, clad 
like themselves in corduroys with red 
handkerchief round his neck, he observed 
that the same expression gathered slowly, 
like a cloud rolling up from the west, upon 
every face. It was not a pleasant expres- 
sion. There was astonishment in it : 
there was also disgust : and there was an 
attempt to force the perfunctory grin of 
welcome. For every man felt as if he was 
a schoolboy, and as if Alan was the master. 
What right, that expression said as plainly 
as looks can speak, what right had the 
Squire prying there ? As if it was not 
aggravation enough to have him always 
about. 



192 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Alan read the expression correctly. But 
he sat down and endeavoured to say plea- 
sant things. The things were not received 
as pleasant things at all, but of quite the 
opposite kind. And, as no one would 
talk while he was there, he came away dis- 
heartened. It was not by the taproom 
that he should get at the real heart of 
England's peasantry. 

As, therefore;, the men cared nothing for 
his society, would rather not have it, and 
were genis with it as most of us should be 
had w^e to spend an evening alone with a 
duke, and all of us had we to converse with 
an archangel, Alan fell back upon his own 
resources, and when he was not devising 
new things for the improvement of the 
people, or, when he was not too tired 
physically for further exertion, he began 
again those visits at Dalmeny Hall which 
were almost a necessity of his daily life. 
That he preferred the garb of an English 
gentleman to that of an English labourer 
goes without saying : and also that it was 
a relief beyond the power of words to 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 193 

escape from the narrow limits of his cot- 
tage, and find himself In Miranda's room, 
in the sunshine of her presence, away from 
the sordid and mean conditions with which 
he had surrounded himself 

At first, all their talk was of the great 
experiment and its chances of success, 
which were as yet uncertain. But when 
Miranda had other guests, and her own 
share of talk with Alan was small, he 
found himself taking Interest, as of old, In 
mundane affairs of a general nature. It 
was hard to say whether he returned to 
his cottage with renewed vigour or with 
disgust. Certainly it looked meaner and 
more sordid every day : certain the details 
of his work appeared more disagreeable : 
but, on the other hand, he had the sym- 
pathy of Miranda, and after each talk with 
her, the approval of his soul was more 
largely bestowed upon the Work of his life 
as he called It (with a capital W), because 
she, too, thought It great, and Avorthy, and 
commendable. 

And on Sundays he spent the whole 
VOL. L 1 x 



194 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

livelong day with Miranda, grudo^Ing the 
lapse of every hour. 

In the afternoons, when the morning 
church, necessary for example's sake to 
every leader of bucolics, was finished, they 
would talk. There were the gardens of 
Dalmeny Hall set about with lawns and 
flower-beds and shady walks ; there were 
the splendid elms and rolling turf of Wey- 
land Park : there the banks of the silver 
Wey winding round meadows, lawns, and 
among great trees : or there was the great 
Hall of Weyland Court itself, or there was 
its library. Alan was a great talker to 
Miranda alone. To her he talked like 
Coleridge, in a full, rich torrent, though 
perhaps he was not so unintelligible. To 
the rest of the world he was a man of 
reserve, respected because he had the 
courage of his opinions, and a great cause 
of small talk by reason of his crotchets, 
hobbies, and flights. A man with the 
mysterious power which belongs to one who 
can hold his tongue. Great in the might 
of silence. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 195 

It was out of these talks that was evolved 
the Abbey of Thelema. 

It be^^an one afternoon In January, when 
for once the north wind slept, and a warm 
west wind, which did not carry rain with it, 
brought comfort to the buds which made 
all the underwood purple, and were already 
whispering to each other that the spring 
was coming. As they walked along the 
river-bank, Weyland Court rose at their 
right, on a low hill, in lawns sloping away on 
every side. They stood and looked at it. 

" It is a beautiful place, Alan," said 
Miranda for the thousandth time. " What 
a pity that you cannot live in it still, and 
carry out your plans in your own place." 

'' Not yet, Miranda," he replied ; '' not 
yet for years ; not till a new generation 
has grown up who can run alone in the 
path of culture." 

" What can you do with it ?" she asked. 
** It would be a shame to let it." 

" I will never let it." 

** And it seems a shame that no one 
lives in it." 



196 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

The house was in red brick, and stood 
round a quadrangle open to the south, like 
one or two courts of the red brick colleges of 
Cambridge, say the second court of St. 
Johns, or the ivy court of Jesus, or the 
single court, only that is faced with stone, of 
pretty Clare. It had a splendid great hall, 
which we have already seen ; it had a 
chapel, a library, a long drawing-room, 
runnincr over the whole orround-floor of one 
side : it had a garden within the quadrangle: 
its walls were covered with all kinds of 
creepers : it had a stately gateway of that 
ornamented iron-work in which the genius 
of Enorlish art seems most to have concen- 
trated itself. On the west and south lay 
the great gardens : on the north the view 
stretched across the park over hundreds of 
acres of splendid land which, I suppose, 
ought to be turned into fields arable, but 
which was rich with wood and coppice and 
elastic turf. On the east side was planted 
a thick grove of pines to keep off the 
English mistral. 

The place was erected for a convent, but 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 197 

never fulfilled the purpose of the founder 
because, after his death — he had been a 
stupendous sinner, and thought to patch 
matters up by founding a nunnery — came 
the dissolution of all the religious orders, 
and the generous monarch who sent all 
monks and nuns out into the world, 
bestowed Weyland Priory, which became 
Weyland Court, upon the first Dunlop who 
had ever received the royal favour. 

Then Miranda had an idea. 

" Alan," she said, *' we have talked about 
all kinds of fraternities, societies, and com- 
munities, except one." 

''What is that, Miranda ?" 

'* A society where ladies and gentlemen 
can live together without any aims, either 
religious, political, or social." 

'' Is not that the ideal of modern 
society ?" 

*' But an ideal never reached, Alan. 
Suppose we formed such a society and 
placed it at Weyland Court." 

'' The Galois and the Galoises were 
such a society," he replied, laughing. 



i98 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

*' They lived according to their own h'ghts,. 
which I suppose they thought advanced. 
But I fear we cannot imitate them. Then 
there was the Abbey of Thelema, which 
seems to meet your case." 

*' What was the Abbey of Thelema ?" 

'^ When we get home, I will read you 
all about it." 

** Then let us go home at once, and you 
shall read it to us." 

They went home. Desdemona was 
staying with Miranda, her mother being 
more than usually ill. Alan went to the 
library, found the first volume of Urqu- 
hart's Rabelais, and read about the story 
of the celebrated Abbey, which, as every- 
body knows, breaks off short at the very 
beginning, and tells an expectant world 
nothing more than how the Abbey was 
started. 

*' It is the way with all good things,"' 
sighed Miranda. ''What I always want 
is to go beyond the story ; I want to find 
out how they got on with their Abbey. 
Did the Brothers and Sisters fall in love 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 199 

with each other ? Did they go on liv- 
ing together without quarrels and little 
jealousies ?" 

'' My dear," said Desdemona the wise, 
''when the curtain drops, the lovers part, 
the weeping father dries his eyes, and we 
all go home to humdrum supper and bed. 
That is all to be got out of going beyond 
the story. Believe in the happy moment. 
The rest is below consideration." 

'' Ah !" Miranda replied. " But if it 
were only possible to have such an 
Abbey." 

" Why not ?" asked Alan. 

'' To collect together a band of men and 
women who would simply lead the plea- 
santest life attainable, and never forget 
that they are gentlemen and gentle- 
women." 

*' Why not ?" repeated Alan. 

'' My dear Alan," said Desdemona, 
"the fact of your extraordinary freedom 
from young men's follies, though you are 
yourself a mere boy, makes me hopeful 
that you mean something." 



200 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

'' I mean," said Alan, " that if you and 
Miranda could get up such an Abbey, 
there Is Weyland Court for you. First, 
because it will please Miranda ; and 
secondly, because while I am trying my 
experiment in the village, Miranda may 
try hers with people of culture and see 
what will come of It." 

" But it will cost unheard-of sums," 
urged Desdemona. 

^' Weyland Court can afford a good 
deal. It is only keeping open house for 
a time." 

"Alan!" Miranda clapped her hands. 
** If you really mean it — but, of course, 
you always mean what you say. Quick, 
Desdemona, dear ; let us have pen and 
paper and begin our new Abbey. Only," 
she hesitated for a moment, " people would 
say that it Is quite too absurd." 

** People say what they please," said 
Alan. ''Wild words wander here and 
there. They say I am doing an absurd 
thing in working on my farm. That is 
gravely absurd. Suppose we do an absurd 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 201 

thing which shall have no gravity about it 
at all, but only whimsical, and start our 
Abbey after the rules laid down by Father 
Rabelais." 

" Yes, Alan, let us try it ; we have been 
too grave lately." 

*' Then, on one condition, Miranda. It 
is that you become the Lady Abbess, and 
that Desdemona gives us her help in 
organising the thing." 

'' No — no," said Desdemona. *' In your 
own house you must be Abbot, Prior, or 
whatever you call it." 

But Alan was inflexible on this point. 
He promised to become an active- working 
Brother, so long as it did not interfere with 
his work in the village ; he would attend 
regularly, dine sometimes, take a leading 
part in the ceremonies, but Miranda must 
be the chief. 

So it was settled. 

*' And. for the ceremonies," said Mi- 
randa, *' Desdemona must direct." 

" I will do what I can," said Desdemona. 
'* Of course you will have mediaeval things 



202 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

revived. You ought to have games^ 
riding at the ring, tournaments, mediaeval 
singing and dancing, and mediaeval dresses.. 
All the Brothers and Sisters will be rich, I 
suppose." 

"All but Tom Caledon," said Miranda;, 
^'and if we have Tom Caledon, we must 
have Nelly, and she is not rich at all. But 
that does not matter." 

'' Not at all," said Alan. 

" Ah ! You two," murmured Desdemona. 
What a thing for two young people, not 
one, which always happens, and which is the 
reason why this world is so lopsided — What 
a thing, I say, that you can do what you 
like without thinking of money! If I 
could only persuade you to run a theatre 
on high principles, which would not pay." 

'•' The Abbey first, dear Desdemona," 
said Miranda. "" And when that is done 
with, if ever it is, we will have our theatre, 
and you shall be the manager." 

But Desdemona shook her head. 

" Women ought not to be managers," 
. she said. '^ They make bad administra- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 203. 

tors. There is only one man fit to be the 
dictator of a theatre. And that is — but I 
will tell you when we start the new 
house." 

Then they all three went over to Wey- 
land Court and examined its capabilities. 

'' What do you think ?" asked Alan. 

*' The hall," said Desdemona, '' will, of 
course, be the refectory, and the ball-room 
as well. Think of dining habitually in so 
splendid a hall. The lovely drawing-room,, 
which is like that of Guy's Qiff, only 
longer and more beautiful, will do for our 
ordinary evenings ; I see several rooms 
which will do for breakfast and morning 
rooms. There are stables ready for fifty 
horses : the kitchen is fit for a City 
company " 

"And rooms," Miranda interrupted, 
** for as many Brothers and Sisters as we 
can take in. Shall we have twenty-four^ 
Desdemona ? That seems a good round 
number to begin with." 

But Desdemona thought twenty would 
be better, and they resolved on twenty. 



.204 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

"■ Every Brother and Sister to have two 
rooms," the girl went on, warming to her 
work, "■ and one room for his or her ser- 
vant. That makes sixty rooms ; and 
there are plenty to spare for guests, with- 
out counting the three haunted chambers." 

" Oh r said Alan, " you will have 
guests ?" 

" Of course," Desdemona answered. 
''What is the good of showing the world 
Low to live if nobody comes to see you ? 
You might just as well act to an empty 
house." 

" And who will you invite to join ?" 
Alan asked. 

Miranda threw herself into a chair, and 
took paper and pen. 

'' You, Alan, for one. What name will 
you take ? But we will find you one. And 
you, Desdemona dear, under that name and 
no other. And I Miranda, because I shall 
not change my name. That makes three 
out of the twenty. Then we must ask Adela 
Fairfax, if only for her beautiful playing. 
And Edith Cambridge, because she is so 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 205 

beautiful and so clever. And perhaps 
Major Vanbrugh will join us. And then 
there Is Tom Caledon. Oh ! what an 
Abbey we shall have !" 

So the Abbey was started. And to the 
County it seemed a more desirable piece of 
madness than the farm. And nothing 
gave the world so much satisfaction as the 
name conferred upon Alan Dunlop. For, 
as Lucy Corrington told Lord Alwyne, as 
the Brethren never knew what he would 
do next, they called him Brother Hamlet. 

" But what In the name of goodness,"^ 
asked Sister Desdemona, " are we to do 
with the Chapel ?" 



CHAPTER XII. 

" We may outrun 
By violent swiftness that which we do run at, 
And lose by overrunning." 

Meantime, the days crept slowly on with 
Alan. To rise at dawn, or before it ; to 
go forth after a hasty breakfast prepared by 
his own hands, to receive his orders from 
the bailiff; to get through the day's work 
as well as he could, feeling all the time that 
he was the least efficient labourer of the 
whole twelve hands, or even, counting the 
boys, of the whole twenty-four, employed 
upon the farm, a useful but humiliating 
lesson for the young Oxford man who had 
been trained In the belief that whatever a 
gentleman put his hand to, he would 
immediately do better than anybody else ; 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 207 

to wear those confounded corduroys, turned 
up at the ankles ; to meet one's friends in 
such a disguise that they seldom recognised 
him ; to pass a cavalcade of ladies riding 
along the road, and to pull his cart — as a 
carter Alan was perhaps as good as any 
'Other man on the estate — out of their way 
into the ditch ; to work on in a field, con- 
scious that a dozen people were leaning 
over the gate, come forth on purpose to see 
the Squire attired as a labouring man, 
carrying cut the teaching of the " Fors 
Clavigera ;" to acquire an enormous appe- 
tite at the ungodly hour of eleven, and 
appease it, sitting in a hedge, with great 
hunks of cold bacon and bread — actually, 
cold bacon and bread — and other homely 
cates ; to plod home at night to his dismal, 
damp cottage, there to light a fire and brew 
a solitary tea for himself; and after tea to 
fight against the physical fatigue, which 
seemed to numb all his faculties at once ; — 
this was the life which Alan for the most 
part led. As regards his work, he found 
that he made but an indifferent labourer ; 



2o8 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

that his companions, who undoubtedly 
excelled him In practical bucolic art, scoffed 
at him almost before his face ; and that, so 
far from becoming the friend and confidant 
of the men, he day by day seemed to be 
drifting farther from them. It was from na 
pride or excluslveness on his part. He fed 
the pigs, drove the cows, groomed the 
horses, carted the manure, hedged and 
ditched, learned to manage the steam 
plough, taught himself the great Art and 
Mystery of Thatching, learned a little 
rough carpentering, tried to shoe a horse, 
but got kicked, and grubbed up the weeds 
as patiently as any old man in the village. 

'' The busy hours," he said to Miranda, 
" are doubled by the solitude. The men, 
among themselves, talk and make merry 
after their fashion. What they talk about, 
or what their jokes between themselves 
are. Heaven only knows. When I come 
among them they are suddenly silent. 
Even the boys are afraid of me." 

** You will understand them," said 
Miranda, " after a time." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 209 

He shook his head. 

" I begin to despair. And in the even- 
ing when I should be useful and ready to 
devise new schemes for their benefit, the 
weariness Is so great, that I sit down in my 
chair, and, half the week, fall fast asleep." 

" And can you live on your wages, 
Alan ?" 

Here, I regret to say, he positively 
blushed, because here, he felt, was the 
great breakdown of his plan. 

" No, Miranda, with all my economy, I 
spend exactly double what I earn. I can- 
not understand it. I began with drinking 
nothini^ but water and coffee. Yet one 
gets so confoundedly hungry. How do they 
manage it ?" 

Not only did he begin with coffee and 
water, but he began by knocking off 
tobacco. He would no longer smoke. 

''And yet," he said to Miranda, "it 
made no difference to the people whether 
I smoked or whether I did not. They 
don't seem to care what I do. As for beer, 
they drink as much as they can get; and as 

VOL. I. 14 



2IO THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

for tobacco, they smoke as much as 
they can." 

*' Although," said Desdemona, '* you 
have sacrificed your Interest in Havanna, 
they retain theirs in Virginia. Why not ?" 

" So I have taken to tobacco again, and 
I confess I hke it." 

" And the total abstinence plan — how 
does that work .^" asked Desdemona. 

^^ I have had to give it up. What is the 
use of letting the people know that you 
have given up wine when they cleave to 
their beer ?" 

"• Exactly," said Desdemona, who could 
never be taught to sympathise with the 
grand experiment. '^ You gave up your 
allegiance to the grape of Bordeaux, and 
you fancied they would give up theirs to 
the barley of the Spotted Lion. Poor 
enthusiast !" 

" Well, I have taken to my claret again, 
now. And, of course, it is absurd to pre- 
tend any longer to live within my wages." 

" You have been brought up," said 
Desdemona the sceptic, *' to live as all 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 211 

English gentlemen do ; that Is, well. You 
tried suddenly, and without preparation, to 
live as no English gentlemen do ; that is, 
in a minimum. What could you expect 
but a breakdown ?" 

" Yes,'* he said sadly. *' It is a break- 
down, so far." 

*' As your daily diet Is different from 
theirs," the w^oman of experience went on, 
'' so are your thoughts different from their 
thoughts. Your brain Is quickened by 
education, by generous diet, by freedom 
from care ; theirs are dulled by no educa- 
tion, by low living, and by constant money 
anxieties. You have travelled and read ; 
they know nothing but what they see. My 
poor Alan, what sort of minds do you pro- 
pose to understand with all this trouble ?" 

** There Is a sense in all men," said Alan, 
** which lies dormant in some, but must be 
a lingering spark that wants the breath of 
sympathy to kindle it Into flame. It is the 
spur of all noble actions. I want to light 
that flame In all their hearts." 

** In your rank," said the actress, '' they 

14 — 2 



212 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

call it ambition, and it is laudable ; in theirs, 
it Is discontent, and it is a crime. Would 
you fly straight in the face of your Church 
Catechism ?" 

As the days went on, the physical weari- 
ness grew less, Alan became stronger ; the 
pains went out of his legs and arms ; he 
could stoop over a field and go weeding 
for hours without suffering ; he acquired, 
as we have said, an enormous appetite^ 
and, probably because he lived better than 
the rest of the men, he found himself after 
a time able to sit up in the evening, work, 
write, and devise things for the good of the 
village. 

First, he began to look Into the doings 
of the Parliament, which had now held 
a weekly Saturday evening sitting for some 
six weeks. He discovered, on Inquiry, that 
his orders about providing a good supper, 
with abundance of beer, had been literally 
and liberally carried out, but that, as no 
minutes of proceedings were kept, it was 
impossible for him to discover what, if any- 
thing, had been discoursed. What really 



i 



THE MOXKS OF THELEMA. 213 

happened, as he soon found out, was, 
that the men, after eating the supper and 
drinking the beer, adjourned without any 
further debate to the Spotted Lion. 

This discovery struck Alan with con- 
sternation. He took blame to himself tor 
the carelessness with which he had left the 
Parliament to its own duties. He ought, 
he remembered, to have attended at every 
meeting, to have presided, suggested topics 
of discussion, and led. But he had always 
been so tired. One thing, however, was 
clear. It was not enough to point the 
way. The rustics required a leader. That 
he ought to have known all along. 

Accordingly on the next Saturday even- 
ing, the members of the House of Commons 
received an intimation by means of a fly- 
leaf, that supper would no longer be pro- 
vided, as it appeared to be a hindrance to 
deliberation. 

"You may," Alan wrote, "when you 
divide your profits from the farm, vote 
whatever proportion you please to be spe n 
weekly supper. Indeed, some sue 



214 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

sort of common festal meal, to which the 
women and children could be admitted, 
seems most desirable and helpful. But I 
cannot longer encourage a feast which I 
designed as a preliminary to serious talk, 
and which seems to have been converted 
into a drinking-bout/' 

" What does the Squire mean by this 
here, William ?" asked the oldest inhabi- 
tant. 

But William could not explain this uu- 
expected move. It was beyond him. A 
weekly supper which had lasted for six 
weeks seemed destined to last for ever. 
When the men recovered sufficiently to 
discuss the matter, It was considered as an 
act of meanness beyond any precedent. 

On the following Saturday, Alan came 
to the Parliament, bringing with him a 
bundle of papers for discussion. At the 
hour of assembling there was no one there 
at all. Presently the cobbler of the village 
dropped in casually. After him, pretend- 
ing not to be his friend, came In a stranger^ 
who practised the art of cobbling in the 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 215 

cathedral town of Athelston, near Weyland. 
And then the schoolmaster looked in. The 
cobbler of Athelston, after a decent pause, 
rose energetically, and asked Alan if this 
was a place for freedom of speech. 

" Certainly, my friend/' said the young 
reformer. " We are met together to discuss 
all points." 

'' Then," quoth the cobbler, *' I am pre- 
pared to prove that there is no God." 

Alan assured him that political and 

social problems, not theological, were the 

object of the Village Parliament. But he 

would not be convinced, and after a few 

witherine sarcasms directed agfainst auto- 
es o 

crats, aristocrats, and priests, he retired, 
followed by his friend, the village cobbler, 
who secretly nourished similar persuasions. 
There is something in the smell of leather 
which is fatal to religion. 

There was then only the schoolmaster 
left. He was a moody, discontented man, 
who chafed at being under the rule of the 
vicar, and longed for the superior freedom of 
a school board. Being by right of his profes- 



2i6 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

sion a superior person, he cherished the com- 
panion vices of contempt and envy. These 
naturally go with superiority ; and he came 
to the Parhament Hke some of those who 
go to church, namely, with the intention of 
scoffing. His intention was gratified be- 
cause, as no one came at all, he had the 
satisfaction of eoinof home and scoffinof in 
his lodgings at the Squire. Alas ! a secret 
scoff within four walls brings no real satis- 
faction with it. You vmst have two to 
bring out the full flavour of a scoff. Fancy 
Mephistopheles enjoying a solitary sneer ! 
That Is one reason why hermits are such 
exceedingly jolly dogs, ever ready for mirth, 
and credulous to a fault. 

'' It is no use," said Alan to the school- 
master, " not the slightest use bringing for- 
ward a measure for discussion when there 
is no one present but you and me. Let us 
adjourn the house." 

As they passed the Spotted Lion to- 
gether they heard the voices of the rustics 
in high debate. The taproom was their 
true House of Parliament. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 217 

There was once a good and faithful mis- 
sionary who, after weeks of unrewarded 
labour, succeeded one evening in persuad- 
ing three native boys to mount with him 
into an upper chamber, there to make in- 
quiry. He naturally began with fervent 
prayer, and being carried away by fervour, 
continued this exercise aloud, with eyes 
closed, for the space of forty-five minutes 
or thereabouts. On opening his eyes, this 
poor labourer found that the three inquirers 
had stealthily crept away during his uplift- 
ing, and were gone. 

Alan felt as sad as my friend the mis- 
sionary. People who will not be led, and 
to whom it is useless to point the way, 
must be gently pushed or shoved in the 
right direction — a truth which Baxter per- 
ceived many years ago, and which is 
illustrated by a well-known tract. There- 
fore, as self-reform was not to be hoped for, 
he began to reform the village for them. 

First he opened a shop in the village on 
the most enlightened co-operative principle. 
It was that by which the purchasers divide 



21 8 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the profits in proportion to their purchases. 
Alan first proposed to the village shop- 
keeper that she should exchange her shop 
for the post of manager under the new- 
system. But she was a person of defective 
imagination, and could not be persuaded to 
see the advantages of the offer. Alan then 
issued a tract, in which he explained exactly 
and clearly the method to be followed. 
Every purchase, wath the name of the 
purchaser, was to be entered in a book, 
and at the close of the year, when the 
books were made up, the profits were to be 
divided equitably according to the amount 
of the purchases. The shop was to be a 
sort of universal provider. Alan entrusted 
the management to a young man who 
promised to give it his undivided care for 
fifteen shillings a week, rent, fire, and 
candles. The young man was not pleasant 
to look upon, but he was highly recom- 
mended by his uncle, who had a grocery 
establishment in Athelston. He was a 
Particular Baptist by conviction, and ready 
to preach if invited. He was only eighteen. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 219 

and had sandy hair, which, of course, was 
not his fault. 

"We must succeed, Miranda/' cried 
Alan, in a sort of rapture, standing in the 
newly-opened shop. ''We sell every- 
thing at ten per cent, over cost price. We 
sell everything of the best, there will 
be no adulteration, of course ; we give no 
credit, and consequently have no bad debts. 
And in our tract we appeal to almost the 
lowest of all human motives : the desire for 
gain. It is a system which only has to 
be stated and understood in order to 
be adopted at once. Not only will our 
customers see that they get their tea and 
other things cheaper, but better, and in the 
long-run that they share in the advantages 
of honest trade. Good tea," — here he 
clasped the canister to his heart, — " good 
sugar, good rice, good cheese, good flannel 
— everything good. Why, the village- 
shop will regenerate the village. And, 
Miranda, the first step is taken when I 
have made them discontented with their 
present condition." 



:220 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Alan laid in for himself as much tea and 
groceries as would suffice for ten cottages. 
Then, in his ardour, he ordered his house- 
keeper at the Court to use the village-shop; 
persuaded Miranda to drive into the village 
and order quantities of things which she 
did not want, all of which were paid for 
on the spot, and got the Vicarage people 
to patronise it, so that the shop began with 
a fair stroke of business. One thing only 
went to mar the general cheerfulness : none 
of the villagers went into the shop at all, 
unless when Alan invited them, and, after 
explaining at length the principles of co- 
operation, bought articles of domestic con- 
sumption for them, and paid for them on 
the spot. Then they went away, bearing 
their pounds of tea, and came no more. 
The reason was, not only the habit of go- 
ing day after day in the same way, in the 
fetters of use and wont, but also a more 
important reason, that they all had " ticks" 
at the old village-shop which they could 
not pay off. Alan's only plan would have 
been to have shut up the ancient establish- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. ii\ 

ment, pa}^ all the debts of the village, and 
start fair. Even then, there would be some 
of the more dashing spirits who would 
spend their wages at the Lion, and ask for 
credit on the very next Saturday. 

There was a third hindrance to the suc- 
cess of the shop : one which was as yet 
unsuspected by its promoters. It was, 
that the manager, the sandy-haired young 
man of the name of Hutchings, was con- 
tracting the habit of sitting secretly and by 
night over the ledgers, not with the lawful 
desire of estimating profit and loss, but with 
the reprehensible design of cooking the 
accounts. As nobody interfered with him, 
and he gave no receipts, this was not diffi- 
cult ; and as Immunity encourages the 
sinner, he soon prepared two ledgers, in 
one of which he entered faithfully before 
the eyes of the purchaser any item, and in 
the other he divided the purchases by half, 
or even left them out altogether ; and he 
put the money into his pocket, and went 
off to the city of Athelston every Saturday 
evening. 



222 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" I hope, George," said his uncle, meeting 
him, " I do hope that you have had a warn- 
ing, and are now going straight." 
" '' Ah ! yah ! there you go," replied his 
nephew, '' always throwing a thing Into a 
poor fellow's face. Why don't you go off 
and tell the Connection ? Why don't you 
take and write to Squire Dunlop ? Ah ! 
why don't you ?" 

'' If you'd been my son," said the man 
of virtue, *' I'd have behaved to you as a 
parent should — cut your liver out first, and 
turned you out of the house next." 

Which shows what a useful thing Is a 
testimonial, and how, like charity, it may 
be made to cover a multitude of sins. 

Exhilarated by the dream of his shop, 
Alan prepared the way, by another tract, 
for his next great m.ove ; this was nothing 
less than a direct blow at the Licensed 
Victuallers' interests. 

" I propose to establish," he said, In the 
introductory tract which he sent about the 
vlllaofe — these were now so numerous that 
they ceased to Interest the village mind 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 223 

at all, any more than the Sunday sermon — 
" I propose to establish a bar at which 
only plain and unadulterated beer, sent to 
the house by the best brewers, shall be 
sold, with the addition of a very small per- 
centage for management and carnage. The 
price shall be exactly that which can repay 
the producer. It will, therefore, cost about 
half of what you now pay, and will, of 
course, be infinitely better in quality. 
Three-fourths of the crime of this country 
is due, not only to excessive drinking, but 
to the drinking of bad liquor ; and the 
same proportion of disease is due to the 
same shameful cause. My shop will be 
called the ' Good Liquor Bar.' The beer 
will be drunk on the spot, or carried away 
to be consumed among your own families, 
or while you are following your favourite 
studies. It will be paid for when ordered. 
The bar will be under the same roof as 
the shop." 

Mr. Hutchings, fortunately, had a young 
friend in Athelston who, although a sin- 
cere Christian and a fellow-member of the 



224 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Connection, was experienced In the liquor 
traffic. By his recommendation the young 
friend was appointed on probation. He 
was not nice to look at any more than 
his companion, but good looks go for 
nothing. The two young men lived to- 
gether, and when the shop and bar were 
shut, It w^as pretty to see them innocently 
making up their double ledgers. On 
Saturday evenings they put money in 
their pockets and went off to Athelston 
together. 

*' You see, Miranda," Alan explained, 
when he was offering her a glass of pure 
beer in the Good Liquor Bar itself, '* you 
see that if we offer them a room with table 
and chairs, we only perpetuate the waste of 
time which goes on at the public-house 
over the way. As they will not do without 
beer altogether, which we could wish, per- 
haps they will learn to use the bar as a 
house of call, not as a village club. We 
must wait, however, I suppose, until we 
have got our reading-room before we shall 
succeed in getting them to spend the even- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 225 

ings rationally. Already, I think, there 
are symptoms of a revival ; do you not, 
Miranda ? I saw one of them reading my 
last tract this morning." 

" It is the young man they call 
Will — i — am,'* said Miranda ; " I saw him 
too. It was he who ordered in the cask of 
beer at the first Parliament. No doubt he 
is thinking how to get some advantage to 
himself out of the new bar." 

"William has not, to be sure, enlarged 
views," said Alan. *' In the lower levels 
the instinct of self-preservation assumes 
offensively prominent forms." 

"You are looking fagged, Alan/' she 
said in her kindly sympathetic way ; " are 
you taxing your strength too much ?" 

** We had some heavy work this morn- 
ing. JMothing more. I am a little dis- 
heartened sometimes, that is all. Any little 
thing like the sight of our friend with the 
tract gives me a little encouragement. And 
then one gets despondent again." 

Already he was beginning to feel that 
culture was not to be suddenly and .swiftly 

VOL. I. 15 



226 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

made admirable In the eyes of Old Eng- 
land's peasantry. 

The Work was, however, as yet far from 
complete. Alan's designs embraced a great 
deal more than a Co-operative Shop and 
a Good Liquor Bar. His next step was to 
build a Bath House with a Public Laundry 
attached. There were hot and cold baths, 
a swimming-bath for men and another for 
women. This was an expensive business, 
and one which he never expected to pay the 
preliminary outlay. But it was part of his 
scheme, and In a really eloquent tract he 
explained that those who regard bathing as 
a luxury for the rich forget that It Is one of 
the accompaniments of godly living. The 
institution was to be on the sam.e co-opera- 
tive principles as the shop and the bar, the 
profits being divided among the bathers and 
the washerwomen. He began by setting 
an example of an early morning tub to the 
whole parish. No one followed him. He 
might as well, indeed, have Invited the 
villagers to sit up to the neck in a clear fire 
for half an hour as ask them to take a 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 227 

cold bath. Bathing, however, he recog- 
nised to be a thing which requires gradual 
training. 

** The history of bathing," he said to 
Miranda, " is a curious chapter in that of 
civilisation. I do not think either Lecky 
or Buckle has treated it. Once, indeed, 
Dr. Playfair made the egregious blunder of 
stating in the House that for a thousand 
years nobody ever washed himself. No- 
thing could be more untrue ; what really 
happened was that the public bath of the 
whole Roman people became a private 
luxury reserved for the rich among the 
Westerns. In England and France the 
nobles never ceased to enjoy the luxury of 
a bath, and there are plenty of evidences to 
show that the poor took it when they could 
get it. But in England the custom fell out, 
and it is true that for something like a thou- 
sand years poor people have ceased to wash 
themselves. Heaven only knows what 
ideas may not come in with the return to 
personal cleanliness." 

When the Bath-rooms were completed, 

i5~2 



228 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

or even before, he began to convert what 
had been a Dissenting- Chapel into a Free 
Library and Reading Room. This did not 
cost much. He fitted bookshelves round 
the walls, filled them with a selection of a 
couple of thousand volumes, which he partly 
chose from the Weyland Court Library, 
and partly bought from catalogues, put in a 
few chairs and a couple of tables,laid out pens 
and paper, gave orders for certain papers 
and magazines, and installed a Librarian. 

The Librarian was a pale-faced pupil- 
teacher, a girl v^hose delicate constitution 
would have broken down under the pressure 
of rough school-work, and to whom the post 
of custodian of the Librarv and Reading 
Room, at a salary of sixty pounds a year, 
was a little heaven. She was the first con- 
vert whom Alan Dunlop made in the vil- 
lage. Like another Cadijah, she was an 
enthusiast. Mr. Dunlop was her prophet : 
she read all his tracts and kept supplies of 
them for her friends ; she absorbed all his 
theories, and wanted to carry them right 
through to their logical conclusion ; she 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 229 

preached his doctrines in season and out of 
season. To her Mr. Dunlop was the greatest 
thinker, the noblest of men, the wisest of 
mankind. Needless to add that a tract ap- 
peared as soon as the Library and Reading 
Room opened, pointing out the advantages 
to be derived from serious study and the 
enormous superiority of the Reading Room 
as a place of comfort over the Spotted 
Lion. 

"And now/' said Miranda, when she 
came with Desdemona to admire the 
Library, " now, Alan, that you have done 
everything that you can for the villagers, I 
suppose you will give up living among 
them and come back again to your own 
place ?" 

" Everything, Miranda ? I have as yet 
done next to nothing ; if I were to withdraw 
myself the whole fabric which I have begun 
to build up with so much care would at 
once fall to pieces. Besides, I have only 
just begun, and there is nothing really com- 
pleted at all." 

" Well, Alan, go on ; I can sympathise 



230 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Avith you, if I can do nothing else," said 
Miranda gently. 

They were in the Library, which had 
been open a week. It was in the evening, 
a fine evening in early January, when the 
frost was out on the flooded meadows. No 
one was in the Library but themselves, Des- 
demona, and the young Librarian, who was 
gazing with large rapt eyes at her prophet. 

*' Go on, Alan. There are only Prudence 
Driver and ourselves to hear you. Pru- 
dence will not gossip in the village. Tell 
us what you think of doing next." 

'' I have not decided quite on the next 
step. There are so many things to do. 
Among other plans I am going to organise 
for the next winter — not for this — a series 
of weekly lectures on such scientific subjects 
as can be made popular. Astronomy, for 
instance, practical chemistry, and so on — 
things that can be made interesting by 
means of oxy-hydrogen slides, diagrams, 
and experiments. Some of the lectures I 
shall give myself. Some I shall have to 
pay for." 



THE MONKS Oh iHELEMA. 231 

'* These will not come out of the profits 
of the farm, I suppose ?" said Desdemona, 
who really was a Didymus for want of 
faith. 

" No, it would not be fair; the lectures 
will be for the whole village, and will be 
my own gift to them. Of course they will 
be free. If only I could get the men out 
of that wretched habit of abstracting their 
thoughts the moment one begins to talk. 
Then I shall have a night-school ; a shed 
where we can drill the younger men and 
boys " 

" And, oh ! something for girls, Mr. 
Dunlop," pleaded the young Librarian. 
*' Everything is done for the boys, and the 
girls are left to grow up as useless and as 
frivolous as — as — as their sisters." 

'' You shall take the girls under your 
charge. Prudence," said Alan kindly, " and 
I will do for them whatever you think best. 
Consider the thing carefully, and propose 
something for the girls." 

" Next," he went on, *' I mean to have a 
Picture and Art Gallery.'* 



232 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" A picture gallery? For rustics, Alan?" 
Miranda was amazed, and even Prudence, 
prepared for any length, gasped. Desde- 
mona sat down and fanned herself, though 
It was a cold night. 

" A Picture and Art Gallery," he re- 
peated. ** Why should Art belong only to 
wealthy people ? Are we not to suppose a 
love of beautiful things — a feeling for form 
and colour — to exist in the minds of our 
poor ? Tell me, Prudence, child, what you 
think ?" 

She shook her head. 

*' My father is one of them," she said, 
"and my brothers and sisters. I think 
there is no such love of Art as the books 
tell us of among them." 

She had the Library all to herself and 
browsed in it at her will, so that she could 
speak of books with authority. 

" It is only latent," said Alan. " The 
contemplation of beautiful things will 
awaken the dormant sense. My pictures 
will be only copies, Miranda, and my 
collection of other things will be a loan 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 233 

collection, for which I shall put all my 
friends under contribution. Prudence is 
going to be the first Curator of the 
Gallery." 

The girl's eyes sparkled. This was too 
much happiness. 

" And then, Miranda," Alan went on, 
" I am going to have festivals and dances 
for the people. They are stupid because 
they get no amusements ; they have no 
amusements because those who have taken 
charge of them, the clergy, liave fostered 
an idiotic notion that amusements such as 
people like — those which stir the pulses 
and light up the eyes and fill the brain with 
excitement — are wicked. It is wicked, 
the people have been taught, to dance. It 
is wicked to dress up and act ; it is wicked 
to go to theatres, though, to be sure, our 
poor folk have got small chances of seeing 
a play. Now I am going to start in my 
village a monthly ball for Saturday night, 
at which the dances will be the same as 
you have at your own balls — the young 
people will soon learn them, I believe ; I 



234 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

am going to build a small theatre and run 
a country company for a month in the year, 
without thinking whether it will pay; I 
am going to encourage them to try acting 
for themselves as an amusement ; I shall 
train a band of village musicians, and estab- 
lish a madrigal club ; I shall hold festivals, 
to which the people can invite their 
friends from other villages, and which 
shall be directed by themselves as soon 
as they have learned the art of self- 
government ; and I am going to organise 
expeditions to distant places, to London, 
for instance, in order to teach the people 
how wide the world is, and how men and 
women live in different fashion." 

" That sounds very beautiful, Alan," said 
Miranda, " if it is feasible. But do you 
think it is ?" 

" I hope so — I think so. At least, we 
can try it." 

" And how long will your experiment 
take ?" 

" All my life, Miranda," he answered, 
meeting her look, which had an expression 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 235 

almost of pleading with an Inspired gaze of 
enthusiasm. 

She left him and drove home, sorrowful 
All his life ! To live all the years of his 
life in that little cottage ; to work every 
day at rough and thankless farm-work ; 
to toil every evening for the slow and 
sluggish folk. Surely even the " Fors 
Clavigera" did not exhort to such self- 
sacrifice. 

Always, every Sunday, as the weeks 
went on, Miranda thought Alan more 
melancholy over his experiment. And 
there was always the same burden of 
lament, 

** I cannot enter Into their minds, 
Miranda." 

No talk of giving up the work ; 
no leaving the plough and turning 
back ; only confession of failure or of 
weakness. 

\' If I could only understand their 
minds I" 

The autumn deepened into winter ; 
winter passed away, and spring, and 



236 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

summer found Alan Dunlop still plodding 
among the furrows all the day, and work- 
ing for the rustics all the evening. But he 
grew worn and downcast, finding no fruit 
of all his toil. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

" But none were genes: the great hour of union 
Was rung by dinner's knell : till then all were 

Masters of their own time — or in communion 
Or solitary as they chose to bear 

The hours." 

A MONASTERY which has no fixed rules 
may yet have certain practices. Among 
these was one that no Brother or Sister 
should be called in the morning, unless by 
special arrangement. The father of this 
custom was a philosophical Brother who 
held that the time to go to bed is when 
you can no longer keep your eyes open, 
and the time to get up when hunger com- 
pels you. Naturally, this Brother was 
always last at breakfast. 

It is not easy, with every desire for 



238 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

innovation, to improve very much on the 
national custom of breakfast. Some took 
a cup of coffee at eight and breakfasted at 
eleven in French fashion. One or two, 
including Desdemona, breakfasted in their 
own rooms. No one, said Desdemona, 
ought to be expected to be in good spirits, 
to say clever things, or to be amusing in 
the morning. She added that her experi- 
ence of life taught her that good temper 
is not a thing so abundant as to be 
lavishly squandered over foolish extrava- 
gancies early in the day, but to be carefully 
guarded and even hoarded for the evening, 
when it is wanted to crown and complete 
the day. For this reason she kept her 
own room. For the rest separate tea and 
coffee sets were provided for every one, 
and they came down at any time, between 
eight and one or two, which seemed good. 
On the morning after her reception, 
Nelly appeared at half-past eleven, a little 
ashamed of herself for lateness. Tom was 
in the breakfast-room, waiting for her. 
Miranda had long since gone to Dalmeny 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 239 

Hall. There was a melodious tinkling of 
music in the corridor as she passed the 
Sisters' rooms. There was a rehearsal of 
a new two-act piece going on in the 
theatre ; and there was all the bustle and 
sound of a big house in full swing for the 
rest of the day. Only her fellow-novice, 
Brother Peregrine, was still at breakfast. 
Nelly took a chair beside him, and Tom 
began to run about getting her things. 

" Sister Rosalind is not fatigued, I hope ?" 
asked Brother Peregrine with more anxiety 
than Tom thought altogether called for. 

" Thank you ; not at all," replied the 
girl, attacking breakfast with the vigour of 
twenty ; " I never am tired after a ball. 
What makes me tired is sitting at home 
with mamma.'' 

** Still, that must be delightful for her," 
said Mr. Exton. 

" Not delightful at all, I assure you. We 
only quarrel. Don't we, Tom, espe- 
cially when there is some one to quarrel 
about ?" 

Tom laughed and declined to compro- 



240 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

mise himself by any statements on Mrs. 
Despard's domestic manners and customs, 
Mr. Exton be^an to draw conclusions. 

" I am very late, Tom/' she went on, 
" Give me some tea, please. We might 
have had a ride before breakfast. Why did 
you not send somebody up to call me ?" 

^' We will ride after breakfast Instead." 

*' And now, tell me, what do we do all 
day In the Abbey ? And how do you 
amuse the Sisters ?" 

" We all do exactly what we please," said 
Tom — "the Sisters paint, play music, 
practise theatricals, consult about dress, 
ride, walk, — and, In fact, they are perfectly 
free to act as they think best." 

" Of course," said Nelly, " else I should 
not have come here. That was the reward 
you held out If I would come. There are 
no duties, I suppose ; no chapel six times a 
day, for Instance." 

" Absolutely none. There are not even 
calls to be made. The Sisters have decided 
that they are not bound to return visits 
w^hlle in the Abbey." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 241 

" Now, that is really delightful. All my 
life long I have been yearning to escape 
from the round of duties. They were bad 
enough at school, and most intolerably 
stupid, but sometimes now 1 think they 
seem even far worse. Have you duty 
letters to write constantly, Mr. Exton ?''' 

" Pardon me, Sister Rosalind — Brother 
Peregine. I have no duty letters now that 
I have left India." 

" Brother Peregrine, then — do you have 
to drive round in a one-horse brougham 
leaving cards ? Do you have to remember 
how long since you have written to people 
you care nothing about ? Those are my 
duties. And very, very hard work it is. 
But now that I am here, Tom, I expect 
to be amused. What will you do for 
me?" 

" I will ride with you, dance with you, 
act with you, talk to you, walk with you, 
and fetch and carry for you." 

"That is very good, and just what I 
expected," she replied. " And what will 
you do for me, ]\lr. Exton ?" 

VOL. I. 



242 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" Pardon me, Sister Rosalind — Brother 
Peregrine," he corrected again, gravely. 

" Brother Peregrine, then — what will 
your Brothership do ?" 

" I can do some of the thino^s which 
Brother Lancelot proposes. Perhaps I 
can do a few which he has not proposed." 

'' What are they ? I am very easily 
amused, so long as I am kept in a good 
temper ; am I not, Tom ?" 

Tom laughed. 

" Can you be frivolous ?" she asked. *' Can 
you be mischievous ? Can you make me 
laugh ? Tom breaks down just at that 
point. He can't make me laugh. Can 
you — can you, Brother Peregrine, become, 
to please me, Peregrine Pickle ?" 

The face with the myriad crows' feet 
grew profoundly grave. 

" To be frivolous," said its owner, '' with- 
out being silly has been my aim and con- 
stant object in life. I studied the art in 
the North-western Provinces, where there 
was nothinor to distract one. What shall I 
do ? I can juggle for you. I can tame 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 243 

serpents ; I can make apple-trees grow in 
the ground before your eyes ; I can swallow- 
swords ; I can make little birds come out 
of the palm of my hand — " 

" You shall have an evening at the 
theatre," said Tom, **and show off all your 
conjuring tricks." 

'* I can sing to you, after a fashion ; make 
songs for you, after a fashion ; play the 
guitar too, still after my fashion. I could 
even do acrobatic tricks and walk on my 
hands, or stand on my head if that would 
please you." 

" It would, indeed !" Nelly cried with 
enthusiasm. '* I have never seen a grown 
man walking on his hands. It would please 
me very much." 

^^Well," interposed the young man she 
called Tom, *' you are not going to be 
entirely dependent on us two for your 
amusements. Let us look at the day's 
engagements." 

He took a card from a silver stand on 
the breakfast-table. It was like the menu 
of a big dinner, being printed in gold letters 

16 — 2 



244 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

on coloured card with edging and border- 
work of very dainty illumination. 

"This is the list of the day's engage- 
ments," Tom went on. " Of course no one 
is engaged, really, because here we all do 
what we please. But there seemed no 
other word that quite met the case. Desde- 
mona draws it up for us every day. Some- 
times it remains the same for several days 
together. Sometimes it varies. I will 
read it to you while you finish breakfast. 

" ' The Abbey of Thelema, 

"■ 'Engagements of Tuesday, July 9, 1877. 

'' * II A.M. — Brother Bayard will deliver 
a lecture in the hall on the Eastern 
Question, and the duty of England at 
the present Juncture. Admission by the 
western door for the Order.' " 

"At eleven ?" asked Nelly. " But it is 
half-past now. And besides/'* — she pulled 
a long face — ** one hardly went through the 
trouble of being received and everything 
in order to have the privilege of hearing 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 245 

lectures. Is it, after all, only like the 
Crystal Palace ? 11 — Lecture. 1 2 — the 
Blue Horse. 1.30 — the Band. 2.30 — the 
Burlesque. Tom, I am disappointed. After 
all, it is useless to expect anything from life 
but what one has already got." 

" When you have quite finished/' said 
Tom gravely, '' you will let me remind you 
that you have not yet mastered the first 
rudiments of the Order. ' Fay ce que votU- 
dras! If you feel any yearning to give a 
lecture, go and give one; if you want to 
hear anybody else's lecture, go and attend. 
I suppose that Brother Bayard has been 
reading all sorts of pamphlets and papers 
on the Eastern Question, and has got his 
head full. It is much better that he should 
work off the thing in a lecture, than that 
he should keep simmering over it, writing 
a book about it, or troubling the peace 
of the Abbey with it." 

" Then we need not go to the lecture ?" 
** Certainly not. If you like we will look 
in presently and see how large an audience 
he has got together. And if you really 



246 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

take an interest in the subject, you will very 
likely find it published next Saturday in the 
Abbey Gazetted 

" Have you a newspaper here, then ?" 

" There are three. The Gazette is the 
official organ, which generally conies out, un- 
less the editor forgets, on Saturday morning. 
In the Gazette everything is published which 
the members of the Order like to send — 
verses, love stories, articles, anything." 

'* How delightful ! May I send some- 
thing ?" Visions of glory floated for a 
moment before Nelly's eyes. Yes, she, too, 
would be a poet, and write verses for the 
Thelema Gazette. 

" I ought to mention one drawback," 
Tom went on ; "I believe nobody ever 
reads the Gazette, But, if you send any- 
thing and tell me of it, I'll make a point of 
reading it." 

" Thank you," said Nelly. '^ An audience 
of one doesn't seem much, does it ? I 
think it must be hardly worth while writing 
verses for one person." 

Brother Peregrine here remarked that 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 2^7 

in his opinion that was the chief charm of 
verse-writing. 

" Then there are two other papers," 
Tom continued, '^edited and written by- 
two members of the Order, known to our- 
selves as Brother Benedick and Sister 
Audery, They run their novels through 
the papers, I believe, and Rondelet, whom 
we call Parolles, because he is all words, 
contributes leading articles to inculcate the 
doctrines of the Higher Culture. Nobody 
reads either of these papers. I forgot to 
say that you will find their editors in pri- 
vate life most delightful people. In public 
they squabble." 

"Who is Mr. Rondelet?" 

** He is a Fellow of Lothian, Oxford." 
Tom looked as if he did not care to com- 
municate any more about Rondelet. " Let 
us go on with our engagements for the day." 

"'At 12.30 — Organ Recital, by Sister 
Cecilia.'" 

" It is exactly like the Crystal Palace," 
cried Nelly. 

" Only without the people. Fancy 



248 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

having the Palace all to yourself and your 
own friends ; fancy acting, singing, danc- 
ing, just as you liked, without the mob/' 

" If I acted," said Nelly, only half con- 
vinced, '"■ I should like somebody to be 
looking at me." 

Tom did not contest the point, but went 
on : — 

'* ' At 2.30 P.M. — Polo in the Park, if the 
Brothers like to play.' " 

"I shall go, for one," said Tom, with 
brightened eyes. 

'' So shall I," said the Brother they called 
Peregrine. 

'' We will play on opposite sides," said 
Tom, jealous already of the newly-elected 
Brother. 

Mr. Roger Exton nodded, and went on 
with the cold beef. 

'* * At 5 P.M. — The Abbess will receive in 
the Garden/ " 

'' I forgot to tell you, Nell, that the 
Sisters have their own afternoons. There 
is no necessity to hamper ourselves with 
the divisions of the week, and as there are 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 249 

now ten of you, we shall have to give you 
the tenth day. The days are announced in 
the morning list of engagements. Of 
course nobody is obliged to go. Mostly 
we go into the garden at five when it is 
fine, and find some one there with a table 
and a teapot." 

*' When I have my afternoon, Tom, will 
you be sure to come ?" 

" Of course I will." Then their eyes 
met and dropped with a light smile, as if 
they had memories common to both and 
perhaps pleasant. 

" May I come, too, Sister Rosalind ?" 
asked the man of a thousand crows' feet, 
noticing the look and smile while he drank 
his tea. 

" Certainly, Mr. Exton." 

" Brother Peregrine — I beg pardon, 
Sister Rosalind," he corrected gravely for 
the third time. 

" ' At 6 p.M — Carriages will be ready for 
those who want to drive. Brothers who 
want a dog-cart must give early notice at 
the stables.' " 



250 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" Carriages ?" Nelly asked with a 
laugh. " Have you any number of car- 
riages ?" 

'' I think there are a good many. 
Alan has half a dozen of various kinds that 
belong to the place, Miranda has sent over 
hers, and a good many of the Fraternity 
have sent down horses and traps of all 
sorts. So that we can turn out very re- 
spectably." 

" I think, Tom/' said Nelly, "that if you 
would go to the stables and say that you 
want a dog-cart for six o'clock, you might 
drive me about and show me the country." 

" May I sit behind ?" asked the crow- 
footed one gently and humbly. 

Tom scowled on him. 

" Certainly you may," said Nelly, " if you 
like sittinpf behind." 

** I do like sitting behind — sometimes," 
he replied. 

Then Tom went on with the list. 

"'At 7.30 P.M. — Dinner. Choral night.' 
That means," he explained, "that the 
band will play and the boys will sing. Do 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 251 

you like hearing music and singing during 
dinner ?" 

" I never tried it," the girl replied. " If 
it was not noisy music I might like it. One 
ought to think of one's neighbours at 
dinner ; that is the most important rule." 

Mr. Exton said that self-preservation 
was the first law of life, and that he always 
thought of eating as the first characteristic 
of dinner. 

*' 'At 9.30 — Performance of an entirely 
new and original comedietta in two acts in 
the Theatre of the Abbey. Stage man- 
ager, Sister Desdemona.' " 

"Ah!" sighed Nelly; "that all seems 
very delightful. And what do we do after 
dinner, Tom ?" 

" Isn't that enough, child ? After that 
we shall probably meet in the drawing- 
room. This is like all other drawing- 
rooms. Somebody sings ; somebody plays ; 
if a waltz is played, perhaps two or three 
couples may go round the room as if they 
were waltzing. I can go no farther, Nelly; 
your imagination must supply the rest." 



252 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

'' And do you always live like this ?" 
She heaved a deep sigh of content. " Al- 
ways ?" 

*' Yes, while we are in the Abbey." 

*' And Is no one ever cross ?" 

" Never, unless in their own rooms." 

*' Does nobody's mamma ever come 
down and order some unfortunate Sister 
back again to home and duty ?" 

" No ; that has never happened yet." 

'* Do you have guests ?" 

" Yes ; but they are not allowed to get 

cross either. Everybody in this Abbey is 

always in the best possible of tempers. It 

is Impossible to be anything but pleasant in 

this fortress of happiness." 

** Did you — ever — ask — mamma, for in- 
stance/' — Nelly put this question slowly, as 
If it was a poser, — " to join the Abbey for a 
few days ?" 

'' I do not think we have," replied Tom, 
with a light in his eyes ; " I cannot ask her 
for my own part, you know." 

" Well, Tom, until you have asked her, 
I decline to believe that your Chateau 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. i^y 

Galllard is impregnable. However, if you r 
tempers are always perfect, your days are 
surely sometimes a little dull. Now, with- 
out falling into temper, which is, after all, an 
ill-bred thing to do, it is quite possible for 
young persons of my sex to get together 
and. say unkind things about each other. 
Do the Sisters — oh, Tom, tell me this — do 
they never show a little — just a little — envy, 
and hatred, and uncharitableness about 
some one's dress — or — perhaps — certain at- 
tentions paid to some one ?" 

" I really think, never." 

'* Then," said Nelly, rising from the table 
and putting her little foot down firmly, 
*'this is a heaven beyond which I never 
care to go." 

"In the North-west Provinces " be- 
gan Brother Peregrine. 

" Does that anecdote," interrupted Nelly, 
" bear upon the Abbey, or upon juggling, 
or upon walking on your hands ?" 

*' On the last," he replied, with a certain 
sadness. 

" Then it will wait, I think. Come, 



254 THE' MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Tom, it is getting late. Let us go and 
see the lecturer." 

" I forgot to say," said Tom, as they 
walked alonor the corridor which led to the 
hall, " that some of the Sisters have 
mornings. Would you like to receive in 
the morning ?" 

" It sounds pleasant. What do you do 
at a morning reception ?" 

'' Nothing. You receive. Any one may 
call on you in your own cell. They call 
them cells, but really all are beautiful 
boudoirs ; and some, Desdemona's for in- 
stance, are large rooms." 

" But perhaps only one would call." 

'^ Well, Nelly ?" 

" But, then, it would give rise, perhaps, 
to wicked tongues." 

*' There are no wicked tongues in this 
place. We all live as we like ; we never 
think evil, or speak evil, of each other. ' A 
perfect trust,' Miranda says, ' is the true 
groundwork for the highest possible form 
of society.' Give up your worldly ideas 
and be a true Sister of the Order, and, 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 255 

like your namesake in ' As You Like It/ 
• forget the condition of your estate, and 
devise sports/ Let us be happy together 
while we can, Nelly/' 

*' Yes, Tom," she replied prettily and 
humbly, w^hile his hand sought hers for a 
moment. 

''What morning will you have?" Tom 
asked. *' Let me see — Sunday " 

'* Oh ! Tom, you heathen — church on 
Sunday." 

'' Monday — Tuesday — Wednesday ; I 
think no one has a Wednesday, and you 
can receive between twelve and two." 

'* Yes, I see ; all comers. Perhaps only 
one comer ; what an opening ! And just 
suppose, Tom, only suppose for a moment 
that you were that one comer, and that 
all of a sudden mamma were to arrive, 
and catch me receiving you all by myself. 
Oh h !" 

" I don't know, I really do not know, what 
she could say worse than what she said at 
Ryde. However, here is the hall-door. 
Hush ! w^e must not disturb the lecturer." 



256 THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 

There were no signs of a crowded 
audience, quite the contrary ; everything 
was still and deserted, but they heard the 
voice of the orator within. Tom pulled a 
curtain aside and they looked in. The 
hall was quite empty. Nobody was there 
at all, except the lecturer. He was pro- 
vided with a platform, on which were the 
usual table, carafe of water, and glass, with 
a desk for his manuscript. In front of the 
platform rows of empty seats. The lecturer, 
who was just finishing, and had indeed 
arrived at his peroration, was leaning for- 
ward over the table on the points of his 
fingers, while in earnest tones, which 
echoed and rang along the old hall, he 
spoke. 

" Yes, my friends," he was saying, '^ all 
these things point in one direction, and 
only one. This I have indicated. Stand- 
ing, as I do, before an audience of thought- 
ful men and women, deeply penetrated as I 
am with the responsibility of words uttered 
in this place, I cannot but reiterate, in the 
strongest terms, the convictions I have 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 257 

already stated. Shall then, I ask, shall 
England tamely submit — " 

Tom dropped the curtain. 

*' Come," he whispered, " we have heard 
enough. Let us go back. That is the 
way we inflict our opinions on each other. 
I lectured the other day myself." 

'^ Did you, Tom ? What on T 

" On the Inconveniences of a Small 
Income. Nobody came, indeed I did not 
expect anybody, and I spoke out like 
icero. 

"Indeed," said Nelly; "I have always 
thought, when men will talk politics at 
dinner, how very pleasant it would be for 
each man to have said all he had to say 
by himself for a quarter of an hour before 
dinner. Then we might have rational con- 
versation." 

" Yotir rational conversation, Nell. I 
like it though. The prettiest prattle in the 
world to me.' 

She looked in his face and lauiirhed. 

" Let me go and put on my habit. That 
sort of speech is dangerous, Tom." 

VOL. I. 17 



258 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

When she returned, she found the horses 
waiting;-, and Brother Pereg^rine mounted 
too, ready to go with them. 

" I found your horses walking about," he 
said. "" May I join your ride ?" 

Of course he might, Nelly said. Tom 
thought it the most confounded imperti- 
nence, and rode off in stately sulkiness. 

" Now," he said to himself, *' she is going 
to flirt with the fellow, because he has got 
ten thousand a year. She's the most 
heartless, cold-blooded " 

And after the little ride he had pictured 
to him.self, sokes cum solely along the leafy 
lanes, listening to her pretty talk, so frank 
and yet sometimes so cynical. You can't 
thoroughly enjoy the talk of a lovely 
damsel when it is shared by another fellow, 
and he a possible rival. As the old ballad 
says, in verse which means well, but is 
rugged : 

''Along the way they twain did play, 
The Friar and the Nun : 
Ever let twain alone remain 
For companie : three is none." 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 259 

But the day was bright and the sun 
warm, and Nelly gave him a good share of 
talk, so that Tom recovered his temper and 
came home in that good-humour which be- 
fits a Brother of Thelema. 

There was no polo after luncheon, be- 
cause nobody except Tom appeared anxious 
to play, not even the new Brother, whom 
Tom found, with a pang of jealousy, sur- 
rounded by the Sisters, doing Indian tricks 
to their unbounded deliorht. He made them 
find rings in their pocket-handkerchiefs, 
watches in their gloves, and bracelets in 
their sleeves. Then he called his Indian 
servant, who brought a bag of little clay 
balls and sat down before him playing a 
tum-tum, a necessary part, the conjurer ex- 
plained, of his incantations. He took the 
little balls in his hand one after the other, 
and they changed into singing-birds and 
snakes, which worked round his wrist and 
made as if they would bite. Then he 
planted one in a flower-pot and covered it 
with a basket. When he took the basket 
off for the first time there was a tender 

17 — 2 



26o THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

little plant ; when he took It off the second 
time there was a little tree in blossom ; and 
when he took it off for the third time there 
was a little tree in full fruit. All this was 
very delightful, and more delightful still 
when he took a sword, and vehemently 
smote, stabbed, and hacked his servant,, 
who had done nothing, and therefore took 
no hurt. And, lastly, he covered the ser- 
vant over with a big basket, and when he 
took that off, behold ! he was gone. 

After the Indian tricks some of them 
went into the gardens. There was at Wey- 
land Court a garden which had been con- 
structed somewhere about the thirteenth 
century, and remained ever since un- 
touched. It had an immensely high and 
thick hedge along the north and east sides. 
It was oblong in shape, and surrounded on 
all sides by two terraces. You passed by 
stone steps from the higher terrace to the 
other ; on the upper was a sun-dial, round 
whose face was carved a Latin inscription 
in old-fashioned characters ; in the middle 
of the garden was a fountain. It was 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 261 

planted with roses and with the flowers 
dear to our grandmothers : wall-flowers, 
double stocks, sweet-williams, candytuft, 
and so forth. All sweet-smelling flowers, 
but no gaudy beds patterned in uniformity 
of red and blue and yellow. There were 
no walks, but grass grew everywhere be- 
tween the beds, turf green and well kept, 
on which on warm mornings one might lie 
and bask. Low seats were here too, on 
which were spread cushions and soft things 
of rich colours which contrasted aofainst 
the soft green of the turf and the splen- 
dour of the flowers. Here Miranda held 
to-day her five o'clock tea, and while some 
played lawn tennis and others practised 
archery, she received those who came to 
talk lazily, lying in the grass or sitting be- 
neath the shade, while Cecilia sang old 
French songs to the accompaniment of a 
zither; and Nelly's merry laugh, like the 
ripple of a shallow brook over the pebbles, 
was music sweeter to one ear at least than 
all the harmonies that can be produced 
from zither or from lute. 



262 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

The monastic names were a gene to 
some ; to others the names fitted naturally., 
Tom Caledon, for instance, who was 
Brother Lancelot on days of ceremony,, 
was more easily addressed as Tom. But 
Desdemona, Cecilia, and one or two 
others wore their names always. Nelly, to 
those who had not known her before, was 
the prettiest and most natural Rosalind in 
the world. There was something out- 
landish in Mr. Roger Exton's good- 
humour, quiet persistency, and cleverness 
which made the whole Brotherhood ad- 
dress him habitually as Peregrine. On 
the other hand, Rondelet, Alan Dunlop, 
and one or two others had monastic names 
which in a way were deceptive, so that 
these were seldom used. You cannot be 
always calling a man Hamlet, because you 
do not know what he will do next ; nor 
Parolles, not because he is a braggart, but. 
because he is all words and talks about 
everything. 

When the shadows of the July day began 
to lengthen they gradually left the garden,. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 263 

and went, some driving, some walking. 
Tom did not take out the dog-cart that 
day, but strolled with Nelly in the park 
and beneath the glorious woods. 

'' If mamma knew that you were here, 
Tom," she whispered, '' I should be ordered 
home at once. What am I to say when I 
write ? I must tell who is here." 

" Shall I go, Nell r 

She shook her head. 

" That would spoil all. I will mention 
your name in the middle of all the others, 
instead of first, and write it quite small and 
drop a blot upon it. Then, perhaps, she 
will not notice." 

Poor Tom ! Then he really was first in 
her mind. 

** And if she says anything, why then, I 
will tell her you have promised to abstain 
from foolishness." 

" Foolishness !" echoed Tom, with a 
sigh. '' But we are to have plenty of 
walks and talks together." 



CHAPTER XIV. 

" With evening came the banquet and the wine ; 
The conversazione ; the duet, 
Attuned by voices more or less divine." 

The dinner-hour was half-past seven, a 
time fixed by Desdemona, as Arbiter 
Epularum. She said she did not want to 
turn night into day, and Hked to have an 
evening. Dinner was served in the great 
hall, which made a noble refectory. Not 
only Desdemona, but one or two of the 
Brothers exercised steady surveillance over 
the niertu, of which the great feature was 
that it presented every day a dinner which 
was not only excellent, but also composed 
of few courses. 

** There are/' said Desdemona, ^' only two 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 265 

or three countries which have any distinc- 
tive dinners. But by judicious selection of 
plats we may dine after the fashion of any 
country we please." 

So that sonrietimes they dined a la 
Frangaise, and sometimes a I' Espagnole, 
when they had 011a Podrida ; or a I'Arade^ 
when there was always a pillau ; or a CInde, 
when there were half-a-dozen different 
kinds of curry, from prawn curry, which is 
the king, prince, and even the emperor of 
all curries, down to curried vegetables ; or 
a rAllema7zde, when they had things of 
veal with prunes ; or a L'Anglaisc, when in 
addition to other good things, there was 
always a sirloin of beef; or a la Russe, or 
u ritalienne. As there is no cookery in 
America, it was impossible, save by the aid 
of canvas-backs, to dine a l' Americaine, 
A servant stood behind every other guest, 
and instead of the wine being brought round, 
every man named what he would take. The 
table was lit by wax candles only, which 
shed their soft light upon the flowers and 
silver. And all round the table stretched 



266 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the great hall itself, the setting sun still 
lighting up the glories of the windows, and 
wrapping in a new splendour the painted 
glass, the black beams of the roof, and the 
silken banners of the fraternity. When 
the sun was set and the day ended, the 
hall was very dark and black save for the 
table itself, the lights upon the sideboards^ 
and, on choral nights, the lights for the 
musicians and the choir. 

Nelly sat between Tom and Brother 
Peregrine, who occupied his place by right 
of his age in the Order, which was that of 
the youngest. She thought she had never 
before assisted at a banquet so delightful 
and so splendid. Opposite to her was 
Miranda, at whose right was Alan Dunlop, 
fresh from the fields, looking grave and 
even melancholy. Next to him, Desde- 
mona, clad in a robe of heavy satin, look- 
ing animated and happy. There was 
music too, to make the feast more luxurious. 
The boys who sang the hymn at the Re- 
ception were there, in a sort of stage cos- 
tume, and the band which played at yester- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 267 

day's ball, which was, indeed, a company 
brought down from London expressly for 
the Abbey. They played soft music, old- 
fashioned minuets and gavottes, music 
selected by Cecilia, which was not intended 
to fire the blood, nor lead the thoughts into 
melancholy channels, nor constrain the 
talkers to gfive their undivided attention ta 
it ; music of a certain gravity, as becomes 
dinner music, which should inspire thought, 
recall memories, but not be sad. And 
from time to time the boys threw up their 
fresh young voices into the air in some 
tuneful old part-song, which fell upon the 
ears of the guests, bringing a sense of cool- 
ness as from the spray of a fountain on a 
summer noon. Dining was no longer the 
satisfaction of an appetite ; it became the 
practice of one of the fine arts. And the 
claret was of the softest, the hock of the 
most seductive, the champagne of the 
brightest. 

For dress, the men wore a black velvet 
costume, designed by Desdemona herself,, 
thoueh I think Mr. Planche would have 



268 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

recoonised it. The sombre black was re- 

o 

lieved by the collar of the Order, and the 
■crimson rope which girded every waist. 
It was a dress which sat well upon men 
who were young and tall The Brothers 
were all young and mostly tall. As for the 
Sisters, they wore what they pleased, and 
they naturally chose to wear what suited 
them best. But all had the collar, the 
hood, and girdle of the Order. Sister 
Desdemona surrounded her portly person 
wath a macrnificent robe of satin, in which 
she might have played a stage queen. Mi- 
randa had some gauzy and beautiful dress 
of a soft grey, and Nelly wore white. 

" It is like a dream, Tom," said the latter. 
^' It is so splendid as to seem almost 
wicked. Do you think it is really a 
dream ? Shall I wake up and find myself 
in Chester Square again, with mamma ex- 
horting on the sinfulness of dancing three 
times with a detrimental ?" 

" Especially if his name is Tom Cale- 
don," said that Brother. 

They gave one toast every evening, 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 269. 

which Alan, or , Brother Hamlet as the 
Public Orator, gave without speech or 
ceremony. 

'' The Master." 

Then all rose, and murmured as they 
drank — 

" Fay ce que vouldras." 

The theatre had been built in the last 
century by a former Dunlop, owner of 
Weyland Court, after his own designs. 
The stage was small, but large enough for 
all ordinary purposes, and especially adapted 
for drawing-room comedy. The audito- 
rium was semicircular, the seats being 
arranged so that every row was a foot-and- 
a-half above the one below it, like a 
Roman theatre. It is an admirable method 
for sight and hearing, but has the disad- 
vantage of narrowing the number of the 
audience. The lower seats consisted of 
easy- chairs, in crimson velvet ; the upper 
ones, which were given to the servants, 
who could bring as many of their own 
friends as they pleased, were padded 
benches, with arms and back. The house 



270 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

held about a hundred and eighty or two 
hundred, and on evenings of performance 
was generally quite full. It was lit by oil 
lamps and wax candles only, so that the 
pieces were necessarily of the simpler kind, 
and no effects of light could ever be at- 
tempted. 

Desdemona, by right of her previous 
profession, was naturally the stage manager. 
It was she who conducted the rehearsals, 
drilled the actors separately and together, 
suggested the by-play, and sometimes, if 
a part suited her, went on the stage 
herself. 

The piece played to-night was a little 
drawing-room comedy, taken^ of course, 
from the French : time, and therefore dress, 
the last century ; dialogues sparkling with 
cleverness, and that kind of epigram which 
only the French dramatists seem able to 
produce ; which has a point, but yet does 
not stab ; which disarms an enemy, but 
does not fell him to the ground ; which 
turns the laugh against him, but does not 
insult him — in fact, dialogues of the days 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 271 

when men respected each other on account 
of the appeal to duels. 

It was a very little after-dinner piece 
and took less than an hour in all, so that 
one rose from the amusements refreshed 
and not fatigued, as one generally is by a 
long evening at the theatre. 

Then they all went back to the drawing- 
room. It was an old-fashioned room, very 
long, narrow, and low, running along a whole 
side of the quadrangular court; its win- 
dows opened out upon lawns ; it was dimly 
lighted by only a few lamps and candles, 
and these were shaded so that the rooms 
would have been almost dark save for the 
brightly-lit conservatory at one end. 

The evening was all too short. One or 
two of the Sisters sang and played ; there 
was talking and, so far as Nelly's practised 
eye could discern, there was more than 
one flirtation — at least there were the usual 
symptoms. 

Peregrine sat by her and began to talk, 
but his idle words jarred on the girl's ears, 
and seemed out of tune with the beauty of 



272 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the day and the place. She escaped, and 
took refuge In the conservatory, where 
Tom Caledon was sitting with Miranda, 
Desdemona, and Alan Dunlop. She no- 
ticed then how heavy and careworn the 
young Squire, who was also a farm 
labourer, was looking. 

" You like the Abbey, Nell dear?" asked 
Miranda. 

Nelly sank upon a cushion at the feet of 
the Abbess, and took her hand. 

*' It is too wonderful and delicious," she 
said ; " I feel as if I were in a dream. 
Miranda, if mamma knew the glorious time 
I am having here, and — and " — here she 
glanced at Tom — '* and everything, I 
should be recalled like an ambassador.'' 

'' It Is a great relief to me," said Alan, 
'' coming over here after a rough day and 
finding myself among you all. My house 
was never put to so good a purpose be- 
fore." 

*' How does your public kitchen get on, 
Alan ?'' asked Miranda. 

" Nothing gets on well," he replied 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 273 

gloomily. " We started very well. We 
had five and forty women cooking their 
dinners at the same time. We gave them 
the materials for the first day, you know — 
chops and steaks. Next day, when no 
materials were given, nobody came ; and 
nobody has been since, except my own 
woman." 

Miranda sighed. 

''Why do you persist in going into the 
troublesome village, Alan ?" Desdemona 
murmured from her chair, which was close 
to some heavily-scented flower, the pro- 
perty of which was to soothe the soul with 
a sense of luxury and content, and to make 
it irritable at the thought of struggle, dis- 
comfort, or unrest Else Desdemona was 
generally the most compassionate and 
sympathetic of creatures. To be sure, she 
never could quite sympathise with Alan's 
schemes, and she lost her patience when 
she drove out and, as sometimes hap- 
pened, met him in a smock-frock driving a 
cart in the lanes. " Why do you go into 
the troublesome village at all^ Alan ?" she 

VOL. I. 18 



274 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

asked in such a voice as they acquire 
who linger too long In lands where it is 
always afternoon. '' Come up and stay for 
ever here with us, In the Abbey of The- 
lema. Here you shall be wrapped In silk, 
and lulled to sleep by soft music : or you 
shall take your part, acting in the delightful 
comedies we are always devising. We will 
make much of you, Alan." 
But he shook his head. 
Then that elderly lady, intoxicated with 
the perfume, went on murmuring softly : 

" I take my part In the play and make 
my points, and it is so like the stage that 
I look round for applause. Children, I 
will not be called Desdemona any more. 
I am in a glorified Bohemia — not the place 
where poets starve and artists borrow 
half-crowns, and both make love to mil- 
liners — but in Shakespeare's Bohemia, 
where Miranda is Queen, and I am one 
of the Ladies-In-Walting, and this Is a 
Palace In the City of Prague." 




CHAPTER XV. 

** It was a lover and a lass, 
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino." 

" I THOUGHT, Tom, we were to be Lance- 
lot and Rosalind in the Abbey ?" said 
Nelly. 

They were in the park, sitting under 
the shade of a mighty chestnut. Outside, 
the. stillness of a hot summer noon. For 
once, Tom had the girl all to himself, 
without the lean and crows'-footed young 
Nabob, who persistently intruded himself 
upon his proposed duets with her. Quite 
alone, she was very pretty that morning, 
he thought ; prettier, even, than on the 
evening when, with bright eyes and flushed 
cheeks, she danced the minuet with him in 
the robes of a Sister. 

18—2 



2^6 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Perhaps a corresponding vein of thought 
was running through her mind, too. Girls 
do not, I beheve, fall in love with men for 
their beauty, and certainly no one ever 
called Tom Caledon an Adonis. Adonis 
is generally pictured as slender, delicate, 
effeminate. Tom was broad-shouldered, 
strong of limb and sturdy. There was 
nothing effeminate about his short curly 
hair, his ruddy cheek, his swinging stride. 
"Tom," Nell might have said to herself, " is 
the best of all the men I know, and the most 
considerate for me. He is not so clever as 
Mr. Rondelet : he isn't so full of projects as 
Mr. Dunlop : he is not so distinguished as 
Brother Bayard, V.C. ; but he is the best of 
all the Brothers, and I wish — I wish — • — '' 

I do not know what she might have 
wished, because Tom began answering her 
questions very slowly. 

"When we are together, Nell, which is 
not often, on account of that confounded 
fellow who haunts you like a shadow, we 
may forget the monastic names." 

^' It is not my fault, Tom, that we are not 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 277 

oftener together. I can't tell people to go 
away and leave you and me alone, can I ?" 

" But you needn't encourage people," 
he grumbled. 

" I had a letter from mamma yesterday," 
Nelly went on. " She has heard, she says, 
that a Mr. Roger Exton, who has made 
a large fortune in Assam, is at Weyland 
Court — she won't give in to calling it the 
Abbey — and she hints that, so long as I 
behave properly to Mr. Exton, she will let 
me go on staying here." 

Tom growled. 

*' So you see, Tom, if you want to see 
anything of me, you had better make up 
your mind to tolerate Mr. Exton." 

'' Hang Mr. Exton !" 

" I am sure I should not care if you did. 
But don't be cross, Tom. Remember you 
are in the Abbey of Good Temper. Be- 
sides, it is not like what you used to be in 
the good old days. We will be a good deal 
together if we can. Perhaps," she sighed, 
" we shall never get the chance again." 

** Do you like it, Nelly," Tom asked, 



278 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" being — a good deal together I mean ?" 
His face was not so frank and open as his 
companion's. 

It was a year and a day since he had 
put a question, similar in import, but per- 
haps of more special meaning, to the same 
young lady. It was on Ryde Pier, and in 
the evening, what time the summer waters 
of the fairSolent stretched broad and smooth 
on either hand, and the lights of the ships 
at Spithead, the yachts in the roadstead, 
and of Southsea five miles away, made 
long lines across this ocean lake ; while the 
summer air was soft and warm ; while the 
lazy water of the flowing tide lapped at 
the supports of the pier and gurgled among 
the planks below ; while, as they two 
leaned side by side, looking out beyond 
the pier, and picturing endless happiness, 
the steps of those who came and went upon 
the pier dropped unheeded on their ears, 
and the music of the band was only the 
setting of the love-song in their hearts. 

A year and a day. Did she, he asked, 
in faltering tones, did she like him well 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 279 

enough to be always with him ? No matter 
what answer she gave. It was what he 
hoped, and it filled his heart with joy un- 
speakable, so that the rest of that evening 
was spent within the gates of Paradise. 

Well, it is a very pleasant place to visit 
even for a single night, and the memory of 
it lingers and is a happiness to dwell upon. 
But, unfortunately, these visits never last 
long, and in Tom's case he was promptly 
expelled by a person who, somehow, had 
the guardianship of his Paradise. The 
angel with the flaming sword in this in- 
stance took the form of the young lady's 
mamma. She was a person of command- 
ing presence, great power of speech, trained 
by long battle with her late lamented 
warrior-spouse to use winged words like 
sharp arrows, and, being herself poor and 
of good family, filled with ambitious hopes 
for her daughter, so lovely and so sweet. 
Therefore, when Tom confessed that his 
income was under seven hundred a year, 
and that he had no prospects to speak of, 
or prospects of the vaguest and most un- 



28o THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

reliable character, Mrs. Despard allowed 
wrath to get the better of politeness, and 
let Tom have it. He must never, under 
any circumstances, speak of such a thing 
again. She was surprised, she was more 
than surprised, she was deeply hurt, at 
what she could call nothing but a breach 
of confidence. She had trusted him with 
her daughter, feeling sure that she was safe 
with one who had known her from infancy. 
With his means, his very humble means, 
the matter was ridiculous and not to be 
thought of for a moment. Did he know 
the expenses of housekeeping ? Did he 
know the cost of bringing up a family ? 
Had he thought that her daughter, her 
Eleanor, was to become a common house- 
hold drudge ? — And, finally, she must 
wish Mr. Caledon good morning — for 
ever. Henceforward they were to meet 
as strangers. 

So Tom found himself outside the door. 
It was a facer. And there was no help 
for it. The energetic widow followed up 
her onslaught by a letter, in which she said 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 281 

that she should feel more at her ease in 
Ryde if Tom was out of it; and that, if 
he did not see his way to changing his 
quarters, she should be obliged to sacrifice 
the rooms which she had taken for two 
months at eight guineas a week. 

So poor Tom had to go, packed up his 
portmanteau, and went mooning about by 
himself on the Continent. He did not 
enjoy himself much till he came to the 
Engadine, which was full of Rugby and 
Marlborough masters, so that the contem- 
plation of their great superiority, and the 
listening to their artless prattle, soothed 
his soul and made him think of Mr. Ronde- 
let, the man in whom Alan Dunlop be- 
lieved. 

A year and a day : and here he was 
again at the Pearly Gates, and no infuriated 
mamma as yet in sight. 

" Do you like it, being a good deal 
together ?" he asked ungrammatically. 

'' Yes,'' she replied frankly and without 
the least hesitation. " Haven't I told you 
so, over and over again ? Men will never 



282 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

believe what one says. Does it please 
you, Tom, to hear me say it again ? I do 
like it then ; I like it very much ; I like it 
too much for my peace of mind, Tom. 
Will that do ?" 

" Oh, Nelly !" cried the enraptured 
lover. 

" I like being with you better than with 
anybody else, man, woman, or child, in the 
whole world. I am sure it ought to be so. 
You have known me so long that you are 
a kind of brother by this time." 

"Brother! oh!" Tom groaned. 

" Which reminds me " — her manner 
changed suddenly. While she confessed 
her "liking " for Tom's society, her face was 
glowing, and her eyes were soft and tear- 
ful. She was very near having a weak 
moment, only that stupid Tom was afraid, 
and let the opportunity for a bit of real 
love-making go by. " Which reminds me," 
she said, suddenly putting on a careless and 
even a flippant air, " that there are certain 
things which cannot be talked about." 

" Why not, Nelly ?" 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 283 

" Because they are impossible things ; 
yes, Tom ; quite — quite. Isn't there a 
rule that the Brothers are not to say foolish 
things to the Sisters ?" 

" No rule of the kind at all," he said. 
'Mn fact I was never in a country-house 
where so many foolish things are said. To 
be sure the place is full of charming girls." 

*' And of course you find it easy to say 
foolish things to all of them," she said with 
the least little delicate shade of real jealousy. 

" Don't, Nelly ; you know well enough." 
Tom was again ungrammatical, but per- 
fectly intelligible. 

" This is a world, Tom, as mamma says, 
in which common sense is wanted. You 
have only got seven hundred a year. I 
have got — nothing. Can we — could we — 
does anybody live on seven hundred a 
year ?" 

^' I believe Dunlop is living on eighteen 
shillings a week/' Tom replied. " But we 
could, Nelly. I have calculated it all out 
on paper, and we really could. And you 
should have a horse to ride as well." 



284 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

" And a season in town ; and a run 
down to Brighton ; and perhaps six weeks 
on the Continent; and you to have your club 
and hunter — oh ! and my dress, because 
mamma has always said that she should 
not consider it her duty to help m.e after I 
was married. Tom, can we do all this on 
seven hundred a year?. Ask your heart, 
as they say on the stage." . . 

Tom was silent for a few moments. 

'' But we need not want all this, Nell. 
We could live somehow where things are 
cheap — beef at twopence, and potatoes free 
— you know ; and we would be " — here he 
looked queer — " we would be economical, 
Nell." 

She burst out into a merry laugh. 

" You are a ridiculous boy, Tom. How 
could \N^ be economical ? Isn't the life we 
lead the only life we can lead with any 
pleasure ? And are you not a most extra- 
vagant man ? How much do you owe ?" 

" One can't be very extravagant on seven 
hundred a year/' said Tom • with a sigh. 
'' And to think that you of all girls are 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 285 

ready to throw yourself away for money — 
oh, Nell !" 

" Tom, IVe heard that kind of thing said 
in novels and in plays, over and over again, 
but you know in real life it is silly. Lord 
Methusalem marries little artless Lily, and 
then the satirists talk about it as if it were 
so awful for Lily. Why, Tom, she isn't 
artless at all ; she likes it. She knows 
perfectly well what she is doing. Am I 
artless, do you think ?" 

" You look artless, Nelly." 

" You know very well, then, that my 
looks are a snare. I never had any secrets 
from you, Tom, had I ? Who knows better 
than you that I must marry, if I marry at 
all, a rich man; and the richer the better? 
I suppose that men are not necessarily 
brutes and bears because they are rich. 
Why, there is Alan Dunlop ; he is rich and 
not a brute ; and half-a-dozen of the 
Brothers ; and lots of others that I know. I 
really do not see why a rich man should 
not be as pleasant as a poor one, though he 
never is in the novels. My husband must 



286 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

be rich, and I only hope with all my heart 
that he will be pleasant." 

" But It's such a mercenary — I mean — 
you know what I mean." 

''\ know, Tom.," said Nell. *' If we 
could do just w^hatever we liked, there is 
nothing I should like better than to say 
' yes ' to you — ^just as I did on the dear old 
pier ; you know that, Tom, don't you ? — 
and go straight away to church, you 
and I together. Oh ! how happy I should 
feel while the clergyman tied the knot ! 
And what a rage mamma would be In ! 
But that Is all nonsense. We are born in 
a rank of life, as the Catechism says, and 
have to be contented therewith. That is, 
J suppose, we must accept our fate and 
make the best of It. And my fate is — not 
Tom Caledon — poor old Tom ! — but some- 
body or other — Lord Methusalem perhaps. 
And don't think I shall be miserable and 
die of a broken heart ! I shall do nothlne 
of the kind. I shall make a fair bargain. 
I shall marry a man who will give me a 
good income, a position, kindness, and — 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 287 

and — perhaps — vAvdXyozc make such a fuss 
about, Tom" — here she turned red and 
hesitated, picking at a flower — " what they 
call — Love. And I shall give him all I 
have got to give — all any woman can give 
— myself." She stopped for a moment, and 
seemed as if she were trying to collect her 
thoughts. " And it will be a bargain all to 
my advantage." 

" What, Nell ? A man g'tX.s you, and you 
think it is a bargain to your advantage ?" 

" Ah ! Tom, you think that girls are 
artless, you see. That is the mistake that 
men make. My dear Tom, we are miracles 
of common sense and prudence." 

Tom pulled the most dismal face in the 
world. 

" Don't, Tom." Nelly laughed and then 
sighed. *' Don't. It's hard enough as it 
is, not being able to — to have one's own 
way. You might at least help me." 

"I will, Nell. I declare I will. I 
promise you that I will not ask impossible 
things — as you call them. But you must 
give me something for my promise. You 



288 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

must walk with me, dance with me, and 
ride with me." 

" I will do all that," said Nelly. *' But, 
Tom, you must not be angry if I — flirt 
with anybody I like among the Brothers of 
the Order." 

" I suppose," said Tom ruefully, ^* that I 
have no right to say a word, whatever you 
do. And there are plenty of men here for 
you to flirt with ; and I suppose I shan't 
have a chance of edging in a word at all," 

" Certainly not, if it is a disagreeable 
word," she said. 

Tom got up. 

" There imtst be something wrong in the 
management of the world," he said, *' when 
two people like you and me, who are made 
for each other, can't be married for want of 
a few miserable dollars. Why, Nell, can 
you conceive of anything jollier than for 
you and me to be always together, to do 
what we like, go where we like, and live as 
we please ? Do you think you would get 
tired of me ? To be sure I am not clever." 

She shook her head ; something like a 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 289 

tear came in her eye, and she did not 
look up. 

** I should never get tired of you, Tom. 
It IS the men who get tired of their wives, 
not the women of their husbands." 

" I wonder, now," said Tom, '* whether I 
couldn't go in for something and make 
money. There was Maclntyre of ours, I 
remember. He went into the Advertising 
Agency business, and told somebody, who 
told me, that he was making a thousand a 
year over it. And there was another man 
who went into wine on Commission. And 
another who took to writing. And Tom 
Bellows went into manure." 

" And I hope he stuck there," said Nelly. 
" Oh ! Tom, to think that you will ever 
make anything. You ? There's another 
point of resemblance between us, Tom, 
that we are both born to spend, not to 
save. It is a much happier condition of 
life. And now let us go home for luncheon. 
Is not that Peregrine coming to meet us ?" 

'"■ I thought he couldn't let us alone very 
long," growled Tom. 

VOL. I. 19 



CHAPTER XVI. 



" So many hours must I tend my flock, 
So many hours must I take my rest, 
So many hours must I contemplate, 
So many hours must I sport myself." 

After nearly a year of continual effort in 
the village, it was almost time that some 
results should be arrived at. And yet 
the young Reformer's countenance grew 
darker every day as he looked about for 
what should have been the fair and smiling 
harvest of his toil, and found only the same 
old weeds. Every one of his projected 
reforms had been by this time fairly com- 
menced. The Parliament — the plan of 
which he had hoped to widen, so as to 
make it embrace the broad Interests of 
the whole village instead of the ccmpa- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 291 

ratlvely narrow business of a single farm- 
was a House of empty benches. On the 
suppression of the gratuitous supper the 
rustics ceased to take any further interest 
in the proceedings. A show of a weekly 
conference was held, it is true, but it was 
like the Roman Senate under the Empire, 
having no power, and being the mere 
shadow of a name. It consisted, indeed, 
entirely of a duet between Alan Dunlop, 
himself, and his bailiff. Perhaps, now and 
then, the two young men of religious prin- 
ciple who had charge of the Co-operative 
shop and the Good Liquor Bar, put in a 
silent appearance. Occasionally, as has 
already been stated, the meetings were 
attended by the saturnine schoolmaster. 
He showed little enthusiasm for a move- 
ment which brought no good to himself. 
The cobbler of anti-religious sympathies 
abstained after his first visit. If you could 
not discuss Atheism, what was the good 
pf Parliament ? He considered all this 
talk of farm work sheer waste of time, 
which might much better be devoted to 

19 — 2 



292 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the destruction of Christianity, monarchy, 
and the aristocracy — to parcelling out the 
land and introducing communism. One 
night the young man they called William 
came and proposed, with greater liberty of 
expression than might have been expected 
of him, a vote for the increase of wages 
and the decrease of hours, which he sup- 
ported on the plea that it would afford the 
labourers time to attend the night-school 
and the reading-room.. But Mr. Bostock 
made short work of him, so that he came 
no more. Still the Parliament was kept 
up, and Prudence Driver entered the 
minutes regularly, acting as Clerk of the 
House. Also, Alan always introduced his 
new ideas first to the House, and then cir- 
culated them in the form^ of tracts. 

In the course of the year quite an ex- 
tensive literature of tracts grew up In the 
village, all written entirely by the Squire, 
and most generously given away for the 
exclusive use of the people. Among them 
were — 

The Tract on the Co-operation of Em- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 293 

ployer and Labourer, with a Tentative 
Conjecture on the share which the latter 
ought to have in the Profits. This was 
the treatise presented to the first sitting of 
the Parhament, but as it was unfortunately 
mistaken for paper provided as pipe-lights, 
it became immediately out of print. I 
believe a copy is now as rare as an Editio 
Princeps of Gargantua, 

The Tract on Total Abstinence which 
followed, produced the results which such 
tracts always do. The women got hold of 
it and quoted figures. Then came domestic 
disagreements, and the men, to escape 
nagging, went to the Spotted Lion, where 
they agreed on the merits of the Tract, 
and wondered why no one followed the 
Squire's example. But the weekly chalks 
did not grow less. 

The Tract on the Good Liquor League 
obtained an accidental importance from the 
fact that the landlord of the Spotted Lion 
thought it was meant as an attack upon 
himself, particularly when the writer spoke 
unkindly of treacle, salt, and sugar as addi- 



294 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

tions to beer vvhich ought not to be made. 
Otherwise this Tract would certainly have 
fallen flat. 

In the same way the Tract on Co-opera- 
tion in the Village shop met with no readers 
except the one village shopkeeper. She, 
like the landlord of the Spotted Lion, re- 
sented its appearance as aimed directly 
at herself and her own Interests. But her 
weekly lists of tick did not diminish. 

The Tract on Cleanliness i7i the Home 
was kindly and even cheerfully received 
by the men. They snorted, chuckled, 
and grinned, wondering what the women 
would say to it. Their wives, however, 
thought the Squire had best keep to 
subjects more proper to man-folk, and 
spoke disrespectfully about meddlers, even 
throwing out hints on the subject of dish- 
clouts. 

The Tract on Art in Common Life was, 
as Alan felt himself, a little above their 
heads. The beautiful language regarding 
Common Things, the Blade of Grass, the 
Tuft of Moss, the common wild flowers, 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 295 

and the singing of the lark in the sky, fell 
unresponsive on their hearts. 

The Tract which recommended daily 
bathing was received with an apathetic 
silence which left no room for doubt as to 
the opinion of the village. 

The Tract about Free Libraries and a 
Public Reading-room was considered to 
concern other people. Probably it had 
been printed and given out at their doors 
by mistake. The villagers, anxious not to 
think their Squire a madman, charitably 
put this down as the postman's error. 

The Tract on Aimtsements excited sur- 
prise rather than curiosity. They were 
to dance every week — dancing was an Art 
strange and forgotten. They were to have 
a theatre — they had never seen a theatre — 
and a circus, and a band of music, and to 
go out all together for holidays. Like the 
boys and girls, which was degrading. 

The Tract on the Model Cottage, showing 
how the garden and the pigsty paid the 
rent and provided the Sunday dinner of 
beef and cabbage, with the pudding under 



296 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

the gravy,' excited aspirations which were 
as fleeting as vague, and were speedily- 
drowned in beer. It may be confessed 
that not one single cottage grasped the 
idea that roast beef and Yorkshire pudding 
were attainable objects. 

The great difficulty was that nobody 
wanted to read — nobody wanted to change 
— nobody wanted to improve. The duty 
of discontent had not been taught these 
simple rustics. It was sad for Alan to hear 
in the evening those voices of the real 
village Parliament raised in clamorous 
cheerfulness in their taproom which were 
silent at his own Assemblies ; it was sad 
to feel that his tracts fell unheeded on dull 
and contented ears ; it was sad to meet the 
Vicar and acknowledge that, so far, he had 
done no better from his cottage than his 
reverence from his pulpit ; or the Vicar's 
daughters, who respected him mightily and 
were unfeignedly sorry to learn how things 
did not advance a bit, and how the only 
purchasers at the Co-operative shop v/ere 
themselves and Miss Dalmeny. Perhaps 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 297 

the failure of his shop and his bar was the 
saddest thing about the whole experiment, 
because, in establishing them he had, as 
he told Miranda, appealed to the very- 
lowest principle, that of self-interest. 
Could people be so stupid as not to be 
alive to their own interest ? Both the 
•excellent young Christians who resided 
together and administered shop and bar 
stood, all day long, at the receipt of custom 
with brightly varnished beer-handles and 
polished counters, but had no custom. 
And yet the tea was good and the sugar 
good ; and the beer was the bright and 
sparkling fluid from Burton, not the sugary 
mess of the Spotted Lion. 

For this stiffnecked generation took 
kindly to nothing except what was actually 
given to them. As long as soap was 
distributed the mothers came to the Public 
Laundry. When they had to bring their 
own soap, they preferred the seclusion of 
home. The men, for their part, gave a 
ready patronage to the Bar so long as the 
tap ran free, which was for the first week. 



298 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

During that blissful period every man was 
allowed a pint in the evening. By this it 
was intended to cultivate the village palate 
into a taste for real beer. The pint 
despatched, it was mournful to see them 
slouch across the road and enter their 
accustomed taproom. 

It was almost as painful to visit the 
Library where Prudence Driver sat every 
evening alone. Now and then, perhaps, 
the schoolmaster might look in to borrow a 
book and exchange gloomy remarks with 
her. Then he would go out, and the door 
would bang behind him, and the girl would 
sit by herself wondering why people pre- 
ferred to be ignorant, and endeavouring to 
master the principles by which her Prophet 
was guided. Once the shoemaker, already 
referred to, came with a list of books 
beginning with Toland and Volney, and 
ending with Renan. As none of these 
works were in the Library, he explained ta 
Prudence that she was an accomplice in 
the great conspiracy, of which every king, 
priest, and holder of property was a member. 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 299 

for keeping the people in Ignorance. It is 
impossible, however, to satisfy everybody, 
and when the Primitive Methodist minister 
of the circuit visited the Library and found 
the works of certain modern philosophers 
upon the shelves, he asked the librarian 
whether she realised the possession of a 
soul, and whether she knew of the punish- 
ment allotted to those who wilfully disse- 
minate error. So that It seemed as if 
nobody was pleased. But the girl had her 
consolations. Sometimes Mr. Dunlop him- 
self would sit In the reading-room all the 
evening, and now and then he talked with 
her over his plans. Sometimes Miss Mi- 
randa would call at the Library In the after- 
noon. And sometIm.es the young ladies 
from the Vicarage would come In and run 
round the shelves like butterflies, brighten- 
ing up the place. Otherwise Prudence 
Driver's life was a dull one. 

The Public Laundry and Bath-houses 
were as deserted as the Library. 

After the work of nearly a whole year,. 
was there nothing ? 



300 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Yes; one thing there was. When the 
Squire, at vast expense, hired a whole 
circus company and had performances open 
to all the people — just as if they had been 
so many ancient Romans — for nothing, 
they appreciated the act at its highest 
possible value. Never was any performer 
more popular than the clown. And yet, 
in spite of the temporary popularity which 
accrued to him by reason of the circus, 
Alan did not feel altogether as if the suc- 
cess of this experiment was a thing, to the 
student of the Higher Culture, altogether 
to be admired. It was much as if a great 
tragedian were to step suddenly, and by 
no conscious will of his own, into the 
position of a popular Tom Fool. 

Keenly conscious of this, Alan next got 
a company of comedians. They were 
going about the country playing a piece 
which had been popular in London. It 
was not a great piece, not a play of that 
lofty ideal which Alan would have pre- 
ferred to set before his people, but it was 
something better than the clown's perform- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA, 301 

ance. On the first night the villagers 
came in a body. They expected another 
clown. What they saw was a set of men 
and women in ordinary costume, carrying 
on and talking just like so many ladies and 
gentlemen. That was not acting at all. 
No real interest in it ; no red-hot poker ; 
no tumbling down and dislocating limbs ; 
no spectacle of discomfiture and suffering 
such as calls forth at once the mirth of the 
rustic mind. The next night nobody 
came but a few children. Clearly, the 
dramatic instinct was as yet but feeble. 

About this time Alan had a great con- 
sultation. It was in Desdemona's " cell," 
— :a luxurious apartment at the Abbey — on 
Sunday afternoon. Those who were pre- 
sent at the Conference were Desdemona 
herself, Miranda, Tom Caledon — who was 
rather short of temper in consequence of 
discovering that Nelly had gone for a walk 
with Mr. Roger Exton — Mr. Rondelet, and 
Alan himself 

The Abbey was very quiet that after- 
noon ; the drowsy influence of the mid- 



302 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

summer day lay upon all, and made them 
talk languidly and dreamily. 

^* After a year of work," said Alan, lying 
back in his chair and speaking to the ceil- 
ing, " there is nothing." He raised himself 
and addressed Miranda. " I told you, 
Miranda, at the very outset, that Habit 
was the great enemy. I begin almost 
to believe that nothing can be done against 
that deadly enemy." 

Then Mr. Rondelet, standing by the 
open window, toyed delicately with his 
eye-glass which he half raised twice, and 
as often dropped. I really believe that 
he could see as well without It. Then he 
stroked his smooth cheek and smiled 
languidly. 

** You have proclaimed," he said . . . there 
was always a little difficulty about Mr. 
Rondelet's r's, which had a tendency — a 
tendency only, not a brutal determination 
- — to run themselves Into z^'s. Mankind 
are divided In opinion as to whether this is 
affectation or a congenital Infirmity . . . ''You 
have proclaimed,'* he said, "the respon- 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 303 

sibllltles of wealth. You have set an ex- 
ample which may be followed and must be 
quoted." 

" It will be quoted," said Tom Caledon, 
who was sitting by Desdemona. ** It will 
be quoted most certainly, but as for being 
followed " 

** I have made an experiment," said Alan, 
** in what I believe to be the right method. 
But the success has not been, I confess, 
altogether what I could desire. It seems 
almost impossible to enter into their 
minds." 

" Perhaps," murmured Desdemona gently 
— " Perhaps, Alan, they haven't any." 

'\ And perhaps," said Mr. Rondelet, ''there 
is still something to be said in favour of 
the old method of imposing obedience and 
laying down rules. Our ancestors assumed 
to possess what 7ve certainly do possess — 
the Higher Intelligence." 

" That is driving, not leading," said 
Alan. " My principle is the Example. It 
was an old Oxford principle, Rondelet." 

Miranda observed with a sigh, that she 



304 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

had hoped to see some development in the 
direction of Art. 

It was an unfortunate remark, because 
the failure of the Picture Gallery was the 
most conspicuous of all Alan's late defeats. 
No one, after the first day, cared to go into 
the Picture Gallery at all. 

*' I hoped," said Alan, " that we should 
make the gallery into a sort of silent 
and continuous educator. That series of 
pictures showing the development of man- 
hood from the flint-weaponed savage to — 

to " here he looked at the Fellow of 

Lothian College — ''to the highest product 
of modern civilisation, I thought would 
become at once a stimulus to the discontent 
I want to engender." 

*' Even the contemplation of the — the 
Highest Modern Product failed to interest 
them ?" asked Mr. Rondelet, with a show 
of carelessness as if he did not know that 
in the neglect of the Highest Modern 
Product he had himself been neglected. 

'' Yes ; they took no interest in the pro- 
gress of civilisation. Then I had a series 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 305 

to illustrate the History of England. But 
they cared nothing about the History of 
England." 

'' There were the dances," said Miranda, 
joining in the chorus of lamentation. "Oh ! 
I did hope that something would come of 
the dances. A weekly dance, with an in- 
expensive supper — a real dance — of qua- 
drilles and waltzes for the people. It 
seemed so delightful. And to think that 
we should break down from such a trifling 
cause as boots." 

" Did they," asked Desdemona, lan- 
guidly, " did they try to waltz in the boots 
of their working hours ?" 

•'Well," said Miranda, "the fact Is we 
forgot that detail. On the first night Tom 
was good enough to give us his assistance. 
But there was only one girl, Alma Bostock, 
who could be made to go round at all, and 
she being the daughter of the Bailiff, is, I 
suppose, a little above the rest. Dancing 
is extinct among the English peasantry. 
It is a lost art." 

'* Begin again next winter," said Des- 

VOL. I. 20 



3o6 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

demona. " Provide plenty of thin shoes^ 
and I will go down and teach them how to 
dance." 

'' You must give them a supper, too," 
Miranda said, ** otherwise they will cer- 
tainly not come. They are like little 
children, who must be approached by the 
temptation of something to eat." 

"The night-school has to be shut now, 
Miranda," continued Alan gloomily. '' We 
have been going on for some time with a 
single pupil, Prudence Driver's brother. 
I have reason to believe that she bribed 
him into attendance, and that, as she is at 
the end of her resources, he refuses to 
attend any longer." 

'' Then," said Tom, *' as you have gone 
quite through the whole of your projects, 
and they are all dead failures, I suppose 
you are ready to come back to civilisation 
again." 

'' And own to failure ?" Alan replied, 
** Not yet. The last word has not been 
spoken." 

Then Mr. Rondelet, leaning against the 



THE MONKS OF THE L EM A. 307 

Open window-frame and letting his white 
fingers roam daintily about his smooth 
cheek, spoke low and in a certain measured 
accent, as if the warmth and sunshine 
of the afternoon had entered into his 
soul. 

*' You have shown the way, Dunlop. 
You have taken the place which an Oxford 
man of our school was bound to take. You 
have illustrated what should be and what 
will be, perhaps, in the fulness of days. 
You have also shown how immeasurably 
in advance of the age is that school to 
which you belong. The common herd 
now know what it is — the Higher Life. 
You have done, we think,'* — he spoke as if 
he was in himself the Common Room of 
Lothian — "' enough for honour. In the 
centuries to come the tale will not be 
allowed to drop and be forgotten. It will 
grow and spread from this little centre of 
Weyland village till it becomes a great 
my thus. In the course of the generations, 
antiquaries will be trying to trace back 
your legend to the far more remote birth 

20 — 2 



3o8 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

of the Sun-God Fable, and the allegories 
of Vishnu, Moses, Tammuz, and Apollo. 
It will be demonstrated that Alan Dunlop's 
history, as preserved in a fragmentary 
condition, was an allegory, constructed 
slowly, and bit by bit, of the progress of 
the year. You will be relegated to the 
praehistoric period. Treatises will be 
written to show that your ctdhts existed 
before Homer, and is referred to in the 
Iliad ; that it was a branch of the great 
Aryan family of tradition, in spite of the 
inevitable German scholar who will try to 
make you out Semitic. And with all the 
talk no one will be able quite clearly to 
separate you from Hercules, Samson, or 
Apollo. You are doomed to become prae- 
historic. Round your name will gather 
proverbs, sayings, legends, and miracles. 
You will be accepted, and even worshipped 
as the Founder of a new religion ; men 
will dispute first on the genuineness of the 
miracles, then on the authenticity of the 
records ; and lasdy, on the broad fact 
whether you ever really existed or not. In 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 309 

fact, I see very well and clearly prophesy 
that everybody in the future will have to 
become Dunlopians or Anti-Dunlopians, 
and a High Place for your Worship will 
be set up in the village of VVeyland. So 
far, at least, you have succeeded." 

Desdemona clapped her hands, and even 
Miranda, who was not always pleased with 
Mr. Rondelet's remarks, laughed. Alan 
alone did not seem to appreciate the ful- 
ness of the glory prophesied. 

" Another thing you have done," said 
Tom, the practical, " is that, with your extra 
three shillings a week for your farm- 
labourers and your free feeds, the whole 
village has grown fat. I met two men 
yesterday, once thin, who positively waddle. 
They now bear before them, like an alder- 
man " 

" And your festivals, Alan," asked 
Miranda. '' Did the last go off well ?" 

Alan hesitated for a moment. 

'' So far as the children were concerned," 
he said, " we got on very well. The Vicar 
was there, with the girls, and we amused 



3IO THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

them. The women were less easy to 
please, and I am sorry to say that, 
owing to some confusion about the orders 
for beer, the men all got drunk. We left 
them behind, lying on the roadside in dif- 
ferent stages of intoxication." 

'' It will be reported," said Mr. Rondelet, 
*' in the mythics.XhdX the young god was such 
that those men who gazed upon his face 
fell to the earth instantly, as if they were 
•drunken with new wine : but that the 
women followed him singing hymns." 

'' We went to Weyland Priory," said 
Alan, unheeding. '' I lectured in the ruins,, 
but who knows with what result ?" 

There was silence for a space. And 
then Mr. Rondelet left the open window 
and sought a chair which stood in the 
midst of the group, just as if it had been 
left there for the Master. And laying his 
chin upon his left hand, in such wise that 
the fore-finger and the second finger were 
parted and lay on either side of his mouth, 
and sitting so that the elbow of the left 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 311 

arm rested on the chair, he spoke 
slowly : 

" I have brought myself to think, not- 
withstanding all the talk we had in Oxford,, 
when we were younger men, Dunlop, that 
the great men — the giants — of the Renais- 
sance were right in leaving the commort 
herd to their own devices. They lived 
like gods, apart, and enjoyed by them- 
selves the true pleasures of the Higher 
Culture." 

This Fellow of Lothian could never 
utter a dozen sentences without lugging in 
the Higher Culture. 

** Had they gone below, had they tried 
to . improve, to change the vulgar crowd, 
they would have lost the cream and glory 
of life. In these days there is again a 
small school of Humanists — chiefly or 
wholly sprung from Oxford — of whom the 
world knows little. Therefore we live by 
ourselves. Shall we not, then, live for 
ourselves ? Perhaps fate — the gods — 
chance — may throw in the way of one or 
two " — he looked, perhaps accidentally, at 



312 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

Miranda — "a companion, a woman, whose 
social and aesthetic taste may be our own, 
and whose Hnes of Culture may be the 
same. What more delightful life may 
be imagined than an atmosphere of art 
among a little circle, from which all ig- 
noble people will be excluded, all contact 
with the uncultivated hedged out ? This 
Abbey of Thelema partially, but only 
partially " — here he looked at Tom Cale- 
don, as if that young man marred with his 
broad shoulders and stalwart figure the 
delicate effeminacies of his ideal — " only 
partially, I say, realises my ideal. So 
hedged in, our lives would become first a 
mystery and then an example to the ad- 
miring world ; and in this way Culture 
would be helped by emulation. This, how- 
ever, Dunlop, is a different method from 
yours. What do you think, Miss Dalmeny?" 

** Your method seems to me the highest 
form of selfishness," she replied. 

** But to return to your project, Alan," 
said Desdemona. *' Are you quite sure 
that you began in the right way ?" 



THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 313 

" I Still think so," he said. " The fault 
is with me, not with my method." 

" Everybody who has a method thinks 
that," said Tom Caledon. " I like having 
none, and using the world as I find 
it." 

" The clown of to-day," said Desdemona, 
" is the clown of yesterday and of to- 
morrow. But if you really hope to make 
any change you must begin with the 
children. And for that purpose you want 
a woman's help. You must have a wife, 
Alan." 

He gazed intently upon his adviser for a 
few moments, and was silent. And pre- 
sently they began to talk about other 
things, and the church bells rang out plea- 
santly beyond the park, making the soft 
air of the summer day melodious. And 
the three men all fell to thinking about 
the same subject, each from a different 
point of view. For Tom was in love, and 
wanted to carry that sentiment to a legiti- 
mate conclusion by marriage ; and Alan 
was in earnest, and thought to complete his 



3f4 THE MONKS OF THELEMA. 

experiment by marriage ; and Mr. Rondelet 
was in debt, and wanted to clear off his 
liabilities, and make himself free from 
similar annoyances for the future, by mar- 
riage. 



END OF VOL I.- 



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