by Lady F. E. E. Bell
LADY F. E. E. BELL
AUTHOR OF THE STORY OF URSULA, MISS TOD AND THE PROPHETS,
FAIRY-TALE PLAYS, ETC., ETC.
LONDON EDWARD ARNOLD 37 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND 1901
* * * * *
It is a great mistake, said Miss Martin emphatically, for any
sensible woman to show a husband she adores him.
Even her own, Aunt Anna? said Lady Gore, with a contented smile
which Aunt Anna felt to be ignoble.
Of course I meant her own, she said stiffly. I should hardly have
thought, Elinor, that after being married so many years you would have
made jokes of that sort.
That is just it, said Lady Gore, still annoyingly pleased with
herself. After adoring my husband for twenty-four years, it seems to
me that I am an authority on the subject.
Well, it is a great mistake, repeated Miss Martin firmly, as she
got up, feeling that the repetition notably strengthened her position.
As I said before, no sensible woman should do it.
Lady Gore began to feel a little annoyed. It is fatiguing to hear
one's aunt say the same thing twice. The burden of conversation is
unequally distributed if one has to think of two answers to each one
remark of one's interlocutor.
And you are bringing up Rachel to do the same thing, you know, the
old lady went on, roused to fresh indignation at the thought of her
great-niece, and she pulled her little cloth jacket down, and generally
shook herself together. Crabbed age and jackets should not live
together. Age should be wrapped in the ample and tolerant cloak, hider
of frailties. It was not Aunt Anna's fault, however, if her garments
were uncompromising and scanty of outline. Predestination reigns
nowhere more strongly than in clothes, and it would have been
inconceivable that either Miss Martin's body or her mind should have
assimilated the harmonious fluid adaptability of the draperies that
framed and surrounded Lady Gore as she lay on her couch.
I don't think it does her much harm, said Lady Gore, a good deal
understating her conviction of her daughter's perfections.
That's as may be, said Miss Martin encouragingly. Where is she
to-day, by the way? she said, stopping on her way to the door.
For a wonder she is not at home, Lady Gore said. She has gone to
stay away from me for the first time in her life; she is at Mrs.
Feversham's, at Maidenhead, for the night.
How girls do gad nowadays, to be sure! said Miss Martin.
I hardly think that can be said of Rachel, said Lady Gore.
Whether Rachel does or not, my dear Elinor, girls do gadthere is
no doubt about that. I'm sorry I have not seen William. He is too busy,
I suppose, with a slightly ironical intonation. Goodbye!
Can you find your way out? said Lady Gore, ringing a hand-bell.
Oh dear, yes, said Miss Martin. Goodbye, and out she went.
Lady Gore leant back with a sigh of relief. A companion like Miss
Martin makes a most excellent foil to solitude, and after she had
departed, Lady Gore lay for a while in a state of pleasant quiescence.
Why, she wondered, even supposing she herself did think too well of her
husband, should Miss Martin object? Why do onlookers appear to resent
the spectacle of a too united family? There is, no doubt, something
exasperating in an excess of indiscriminating kindliness. But it is an
amiable fault after all; and, besides, more discrimination may
sometimes be required to discover the hidden good lurking in a
fellow-creature than to perceive and deride his more obvious
absurdities and defects. It would no doubt be a very great misfortune
to see our belongings as they appear to the world at large, and the fay
who should gie us that giftie ought indeed to be banished from every
christening. Let us console ourselves: she commonly is.
But poor Miss Martin had no adoring belongings to shed the genial
light of affection on her doings, to give her even mistaken admiration,
better than none at all. Life had dealt but bleakly with her; she had
always been in the shadow: small wonder then if her nature was blighted
and her view of life soured. Lady Gore smiled to herself, a little
wistfully perhaps, as she tried to put herself in Miss Martin's
placeof all mental operations one of the most difficult to achieve
successfully. Lady Gore's sheer power of sympathy might enable her to
get nearer to it than many people, but still she inevitably reckoned up
the balance, after the fashion of our kind, seeing only one side of the
scale and not knowing what was in the other, and as she did so, it
seemed to her still possible that Miss Martin might have the best of
it, or at any rate might not fall so short of the best as at first
appeared. For in spite of her age she still had the great inestimable
boon of health; she was well, she was independent, she could, when it
seemed good to her, get up and go out and join in the life of other
people. While as for herself ... and again the feeling of impotent
misery, of rebellion against her own destiny, came over Lady Gore like
a wave whose strength she was powerless to resist. For since the
rheumatic fever which five years ago had left her practically an
incurable invalid, the effort to accept her fate still needed to be
constantly renewed; an effort that had to be made alone, for the
acceptance of such a fate by those who surround the sufferer is
generally made, more or less, once for all in a moment of emotion, and
then gradually becomes part of the habitual circumstance of daily life.
Mercifully she did not realise all at once the thing that had happened
to her. In the first days when she was returning to healthshe who up
to the time of her illness had been so full of life and energythe
mere pleasure in existence, the mere joy of the summer's day in which
she could lie near an open window, look out on the world and the people
in it, was enough; she was too languid to want to do more. Then her
strength slowly returned, and with it the desire to resume her ordinary
life. But weeks passed in which she still remained at the same stage,
they lengthened into months, and brought her gradually a horrible
misgiving. Then, at last, despairingly she faced the truth, and knew
that from all she had been in the habit of doing, from all that she had
meant to do, she was cut off for ever. She began to realise then, as
people do who, unable to carry their treasures with them, look over
them despairingly before they cast them away one by one, all that her
ambitions had been. She smiled bitterly to herself during the hours in
which she lay there looking her fate in the face and trying to
encounter it with becoming courage, as she realised how, with more than
half of her life, at the best, behind her, she had up to this moment
been spending the rest of it still looking onward, still living in the
future. She had dreamt of the time when, helped by her, her husband
should go forward in his career, when, steered under her guidance,
Rachel would go along the smiling path to happiness. And now, instead,
she was to be to husband and daughter but the constant object of care
and solicitude and pity. Yes, pitythat was the worst of it. An
invalid, she repeated to herself, and felt that at last she knew what
that word meant that she had heard all her life, that she had applied
unconcernedly to one fellow-creature or another without realising all
that it means of tragedy, of startled, growing dread, followed by
hopeless and despairing acceptance. Then there came a day when, calling
all her courage to her help, she made up her mind bravely to begin life
afresh, to sketch her destiny from another point of view, and yet to
make a success of the picture. The battle had to be fought out alone.
Sir William, after the agony of thinking he was going to lose her,
after the rapture of joy at knowing that the parting was not to be yet,
had insensibly become accustomed, as one does become accustomed to the
trials of another, to the altered conditions of their lives, and it was
even unconsciously a sort of agreeable certainty that whatever the
weather, whatever the claims of the day, she would every afternoon be
found in the same place, never away, never occupied about the house,
always ready to listen, to sympathise. She had made up her mind that
since now she was debarred from active participation in the lives of
her husband and daughter, she would by unceasing, strenuous daily
effort keep abreast of their daily interests, and be by her sympathy as
much a part of their existence as though she had been, as before, their
The smallness of such a family circle may act in two ways: it may
either send the members of it in different directions, or it may draw
them together in an intense concentration of interests and sympathy.
This latter was happily the condition of the Gores. The varying degrees
of their strength and weaknesses had been so mercifully adjusted by
destiny that each could find in the other some supportwhether real or
fancied does not matter. For illusions, if they last, form as good a
working basis for life as reality, and in the Gore household, whether
by imagination or not, the equipoise of life had been most skilfully
adjusted. The amount of shining phantasies that had interwoven
themselves into the woof of the family destiny had become so much a
part of the real fabric that they were indistinguishable from it.
As far as Sir William's career, if we may give it that name, was
concerned, the calamity which had fallen upon his wife had in some
strange manner explained and justified it. The younger son of a country
gentleman of good family, he had, by the death of his elder brother,
come into the title, the estate, and the sufficient means bequeathed by
his father. Elinor Calthorpe, the daughter of a neighbouring squire,
had been ever since her childhood on terms of intimate friendship with
the Gore boys; as far back as she could remember, William Gore, big,
strong, full of life and spirits, a striking contrast to his delicate
elder brother, had been her ideal of everything that was manly and
splendid: and when after his brother's death he asked her to marry him,
she felt that life had nothing more to offer. In that belief she had
never wavered. Sir William, by nature estimable and from circumstances
irreproachable, made an excellent husband; that is to say, that during
nearly a quarter of a century of marriage he had never wavered either
in his allegiance to his wife or in his undivided acceptance of her
allegiance, and hers alone. She on her side had never once during all
those years realised that the light which shone round her idol came
from the lamp she herself kept alive before the shrine, nor even that
it was her more acute intelligence, blind in one direction only, which
suggested the opinion or course of action that he quite unconsciously
afterwards offered to the world as his own. It was she who infused into
his life every possibility beyond the obvious. It was her keenness, her
ardent interest in those possibilities, that urged him on. When she
finally persuaded him to stand for Parliament as member for their
county town, it was in a great measure her popularity that won him the
He was in the House without making any special mark for two years,
with a comfortable sense, not clearly stated perhaps even to himself,
that there was time before him. Men go long in harness in these days;
some day for certain that mark would be made. Then his party went out,
and in spite of another unsuccessful attempt in his own constituency,
and then in one further afield, he was left by the roadside, while the
tide of politics swept on. His wife consoled herself by thinking that
at the next opportunity he would surely get in. But when the
opportunity came, she was so ill that he could not leave her, and the
moment passed. Then when they began to realise what her ultimate
condition might be, and she was recommended to take some special German
waters which might work a cure, he and Rachel went with her. Sir
William, when the necessity of going abroad first presented itself to
hima heroic necessity for the ordinary stay-at-home Englishmanhad
felt the not unpleasant stimulus, the tightening of the threads of
life, which the need for a given unexpected course of action presents
to the not very much occupied person. Then came those months away from
his own country and his own surroundingsmonths in which he acquired
the habit of reading an English newspaper two days old and being quite
satisfied with it, when everything else also had two days' less
importance than it would at home, and gradually he tasted the delights
of the detached onlooker who need do nothing but warn, criticise,
prophesy, protest. With absolute sincerity to himself he attributed
this attitude which Fate had assigned to him as entirely owing to his
having had to leave England on his wife's account. He had quite easily,
quite calmly drifted into a conviction that for his wife's sake he had
chivalrously renounced his chances of distinction. Lady Gore on her
sideit was another bitterness added to the restdid not for a moment
doubt that it was her condition and the sacrifice that her husband had
made of his life to her which had ruined his political career. And they
both of them gradually succeeded in forgetting that the alternative had
not been a certainty. They believed, they knew, they even said openly,
that if it had not been for his incessant attendance on her he would
have gone into the House, he would have taken office, and eventually
have been one of the shapers of his country's destiny. The phraseology
of their current talk to one another and to outsiders reflected this
belief. If I had continued in the House, Sir William would say, with
a manner and inflection which conveyed that he had left it of his own
free will and not attempted to return to it, I should have or,
If I had taken office or even sometimes, If I were leading the
Liberal party and no one, indeed, was in a position to affirm that
these things might not have been. If a man's capacities are hinted at
or even stated by himself to his fellow-creatures with a certain amount
of discretion, and if he does not court failure by putting them to the
proof, it does not occur to most people to contradict him, and the
possible truth of the contradiction soon sinks out of sight. So Sir
William sat on the brink of the river and watched the others plunging
into the waves, diving, rising, breasting the current, and was
agreeably supported by the consciousness that if Fate had so ordained
it, he himself would have been capable of performing all these feats
just as creditably. No need now to stifle a misgiving that in the old
days would occasionally obtrude itself into the glowing views of the
future, that he was possibly not of a stature to play the great parts
for which he might be cast. On the contrary, what now remained was the
blessed peace brought by renunciation, the calm renunciation of
prospects that in the light of ceasing to try to attain them seemed
absolutely certain. No one now could ever say that he had failed. He
had been prevented by circumstances from achieving any success of a
definite and conspicuous kind, although the position he had attained,
the consideration nearly always accorded to the ordinary prosperous
middle-aged Englishman of the upper classes who has done nothing to
forfeit his claim to it, and more than all, the plenitude of assurance
which he received of his deserts from his immediate surroundings, might
well have been considered success enough. And on his return to England,
after eighteen months of wandering, although he was no longer in
Parliament and had no actual voice in deciding the politics of his
country, it pleased him to think that if he chose he could still take
an active line, that he could belong to the volunteer army of orators
who make speeches at other people's elections and who write letters to
the newspaper that the world may know their views on a given situation.
At the time of which we speak political parties in England were
trying in vain to re-adjust an equable balance. Conservatives and
Unionists, almost indistinguishable, were waving the Imperialist banner
in the face of the world. The Liberals, once the advanced and
subversive party, were now raising their voices in protest, tentatively
advocating the claims of what they considered the oppressed races.
Derisive epithets were hurled at them by their enemies; the Pro-Boers,
the Little Englanders took the place of the Home Rulers of the past.
Sir William was by tradition a Liberal. Inspired by that tradition he
wrote an article on the Attitude of England, which appeared in a
Liberal Review. Thrilled by the sight of his utterances in print, he
determined in his secret soul to expand that article into a book. The
secret was of course shared by his wife, who fervently believed in the
yet unwritten masterpiece. The fact that in spite of the dearth of
prominent men in his party, of men who had in them the stuff of a
leader, that party had not turned to Gore in its need, aroused no
surprise, no misgiving, in either his mind or that of his wife. It was
simply in their eyes another step in that path of voluntary
renunciation which he was treading for her sake.
With this possible interpretation of all missed opportunities
entirely taken for granted, Sir William's existence flowed peacefully
and prosperously on. It was with an agreeable consciousness of his
dignity and prestige that he sat once or twice in the week at the board
meetings of one or two governing bodies to which he belonged. They
figured in his scheme of existence as his hours of work, the sterner,
more serious occupation which justified his hours of leisure. The rest
of that leisure was spent in happy, congenial uniformity: a morning
ride, followed by some time in his comfortable study, during which he
might be supposed to be writing his book; an hour or two at his club; a
game or two of chess, a pastime in which he excelled; and behind all
this a beautiful background, the deep and enduring affection of his
wife, whose companionship, and needs, and admiration for himself filled
up all the vacant spaces in his life. He would, however, have been
genuinely surprised if he had realised that it was by a constant,
deliberate intention that she succeeded in entertaining him, in amusing
him, as much as she did her friends and acquaintances; if he had
thought that she had made up her mind that never, while she had power
to prevent it, should he come into his own house and find it dull. And
he never did.
To be a popular invalid is in itself a career: it blesses those that
call and those that receive. The visitors who used day by day to go and
see Lady Gore used to congratulate themselves as they stood on her
doorstep on the knowledge that they would find her within, and glador
so each one individually thoughtto see them. She was an attractive
person, certainly, as she lay on her sofa. Her hair had turned white
prematurely early, it enhanced the effect of the delicate faded
colouring and the soft brown eyes. The sweet brightness of her manner
was mingled with dignity, with the comprehensive sympathy and
pliability of a woman of the world; an innate distinction of mind and
person radiated from her looks. Those who watched the general grace and
repose of her demeanour and surroundings involuntarily felt that there
might be advantages in a condition of life which prevented the mere
thought of being hot, untidy, hurried, like some of the ardent ladies
who used to rush into her room between a committee meeting and a
tea-party and tell her breathlessly of their flustered doings. Rachel
had inherited something of her mother's dainty charm. She had the same
brown eyes and delicate features, framed by bright brown hair. It was
certainly encouraging to those who looked upon the daughter to see in
the mother what effect the course of the years was likely to have on
such a personality. There was not much dread in the future when
confronted with such a picture. But in truth, as far as most of the
spectators who frequented the house were concerned, Rachel's
personality had been merged in her mother's, and any comparison between
the two was perhaps more likely to be in the direction of wondering
whether Rachel in the course of years would, as time went on, become so
absolutely delightful a human product as Lady Gore. Rachel's own
attitude on this score was entirely consonant with that of others. Her
mother was the centre of her life, the object of her passionate
devotion, her guide, her ideal. It was when Rachel was seventeen that
Lady Gore became helpless and dependent, and the girl suddenly found
that their positions were in some ways reversed; it was she who had to
take care of her mother, to inculcate prudence upon her, to minister
incessantly to her daily wants; there was added to the daughter's love
the yearning care that a loving woman feels for a helpless charge, and
there was hardly room for anything else in her life. Rachel,
fortunately for herself and for others, had no startling originality;
no burning desire, arrived at womanhood, to strike out a path for
herself. She was unmoved by the conviction which possesses most of her
young contemporaries that the obvious road cannot be the one to follow.
Lady Gore's perceptions, far more acute as regarded her daughter than
her husband, and rendered more vivid still by the whole concentration
of her maternal being in Rachel, had entirely realised, while she
wondered at it, the complete lack in her child of the modern ferment
that seethes in the female mind of our days. But she had finally come
to see that if Rachel was entirely happy and contented with her life it
was a result to rejoice over rather than be discontented with, even
though her horizon did not extend much beyond her own home. Besides, it
is always well to rejoice over a result we cannot modify. Needless to
say that the girl, who blindly accepted her mother's opinion even on
indifferent subjects, was, biassed by her own affection, more than
ready to endow her father with all the qualities Lady Gore believed him
to possess. She had arrived at the age of twenty-two without realising
that there could be for her any claims in the world that would be
paramount to these, anything that could possibly come before her
allegiance to her parents.
One of the bitterest pangs of Lady Gore's bitter renunciation was
the moment when she realised that she could not be the one to guide
Rachel's first steps in a wider world than that of her home, that all
her plans and theories about the moment when the girl should grow up,
when her mother would accompany her, steer her, help her at every step,
must necessarily be brought to nought. And this mother, alas! had been
so full of plans; she had so anxiously watched other people and their
daughters, so carefully accumulated from her observation the many
warnings and the few examples which constitute what is called the
teaching of experience. But when the time came the lesson had been
learnt in vain. Rachel's eighteenth and nineteenth years were spent in
anxious preoccupations about her mother's health, in solicitous care of
her father and the household, and the girl had glided gently from
childhood into womanhood with nothing but increased responsibility,
instead of more numerous pleasures, to mark the passage. But the result
was something very attractively unlike the ordinary product of the age.
She had had, from the conditions of her life, no very intimate and
confidential girl friends by whose point of view to readjust and
possibly lower her own, and with whom to compare every fleeting
manifestation of thought and feeling. She remained unconsciously
surrounded by an atmosphere of reticence and reserve, a certain shy
aloofness, mingled with a direct simple dignity, that gave to her
bearing an ineffable grace and charm. The mothers of more dashing
damsels were wont to say that she was not effective in a ballroom. It
was true that she had nothing particularly accentuated in demeanour or
appearance which would at once arrest attention, an inadequate
equipment, perhaps, in the opinion of those who hold that it is better
to produce a bad effect than none at all.
Mrs. Feversham, of Bruton Street, was an old friend of Lady Gore's,
whose junior she was by a few years. She had no daughters of her own,
and had in consequence an immense amount of undisciplined energy at the
service of those of other people. She was not a lady whose views were
apt to be matured in silence; she was ardently concerned about Rachel's
future, and she was constantly imparting new projects to Lady Gore, who
received them with smiling equanimity.
It was at an At Home given by Mrs. Feversham one evening early in
the season, when the rooms were full of hot people talking at the top
of their voices, that the hostess, looking round her with a
comprehensive glance, saw Rachel standing alone. There was, however, in
the girl's demeanour none of that air of aggressive solitude sometimes
assumed by the neglected. The eye fell upon Rachel with a sense of
rest, looking on one who did not wish to go anywhere or to do anything,
who was standing with unconscious grace an entirely contented spectator
of what was passing before her. Mrs. Feversham's one idea, however, as
she perceived her was instantly to suggest that she should do something
else, that at any price some one should take her to have some tea, or
make her eat or walk, or do anything, in fact, but stand still. Rachel,
however, at the moment she was swooped down upon, was well amused; a
smile was unconsciously playing on her lips as she listened to an
absurd conversation going on between a young man and a girl just in
front of her.
By George! said the boy, it is hot. Let's go and have ices.
Ices? Right you are, the girl replied, and attempted to follow her
gallant cavalier, who had started off, trying to make for himself a
path through the serried hot crowd, leaving the lady he was supposed to
be convoying to follow him as near as she might.
Hallo! he said suddenly. There's Billy Crowther. Do you mind if I
go and slap him on the back?
All right, buck up, then, and slap him on the back, replied the
fair one. I'll go on. Thus gracefully encouraged, the youth flung
himself in another direction, and almost overturned his hostess, who
was coming towards Rachel.
Sorry, he said, apparently not at all discomposed, and continued
his wild career.
Well! the young men of the present day!... said Mrs. Feversham, as
she joined Rachel; then suddenly remembering that a wholesale
condemnation was not the attitude she wished to inculcate in her
present hearer, she went on: Not that they are all alike, of course;
some of them areare different, she supplemented luminously. Now, my
child, have you had anything to eat?
I don't think I want anything, thank you, said Rachel.
Oh, nonsense! said Mrs. Feversham. You must. And, looking round
for the necessary escort, she saw a new arrival coming up the stairs.
The very man! she said to herself, but fortunately not aloud, as Mr.
Rendel! was announced. A young man of apparently a little over thirty,
with deep-set, far-apart eyes and clear-cut features, came up and took
her outstretched hand with a little air of formal politeness refreshing
after the manifestations she had been deploring.
I am so glad to see you, she said cordially. Rendel greeted her
with a smile. Do you know Miss Gore? Rendel and Rachel bowed.
I have met Sir William Gore more than once, he said.
She is dying for something to eat, said Mrs. Feversham, to
Rachel's great astonishment. Do take her downstairs, Mr. Rendel. The
young people obediently went down together.
I am not really dying for something to eat, Rachel said, as soon
as they were out of hearing of their hostess. In fact, I am not sure
that I want anything.
Oh, don't you? said Rendel.
Two hours ago I was still dining, you see.
Of course, said Rendel, so was I. They both laughed. They went
on nevertheless to the door of the room from whence the clatter of
glass and china was heard.
Now, are you sure you won't be 'tempted,' according to the received
expression? said Rendel, as a hot waiter hurried past them with some
dirty plates and glasses on a tray.
No, I am afraid I am not at all tempted, said Rachel.
Well, let us look for a cooler place, said Rendel. What a soothing
companion this was he had found, who did not want him to fight for an
ice or a sandwich! They went up again to a little recess on the landing
by an open window. The roar of tongues came down to them from the
Just listen to those people, said Rendel. A sort of wild,
continuous howl filled the air, as though bursting from a company of
the condemned immured in an eternal prison, instead of from a gathering
of peaceable citizens met together for their diversion. Isn't it
dreadful to realise what our natural note is like? he added. It is
It isn't pretty, certainly, said Rachel, unable to help smiling at
his face of disgust. The roar seemed to grow louder as it went on.
It is a pity we can't chirp and twitter like birds, said Rendel.
I don't know that that would be very much better, said Rachel.
Have you ever been in a room with a canary singing? Think of a room
with as many canaries in it as this.
Yes, I daresayit might have been nearly as bad, Rendel said;
though if we were canaries we should be nicer to look at perhaps, and
his eye fell on an unprepossessing elderly couple who were descending
the stairs with none of the winsomeness of singing birds. Have you
read Maeterlinck's 'Life of the Bees'?
No, Rachel answered simply.
I agree with him, Rendel said, that it would be just as difficult
to get any idea of what human beings are about by looking down on them
from a height, as it is for us to discover what insects are doing when
we look down on them.
Yes, imagine looking at that, said Rachel, pointing towards the
drawing-room. You would see people walking up and down and in and out
for no reason, and jostling each other round and round.
Yes, said Rendel. How aimless it would look! Not more aimless
than it is, after all, he added.
It amuses me, all the same, said Rachel, rather deprecatingly. I
mean, to come to a party of this kind every now and then; perhaps
because I don't do it very often.
Why, don't you go out every night of your life in the season? said
Rendel; I thought all young ladies did.
I don't, she said. It isn't quite the same for me as it is for
other peopleat least, I mean that I have only my father to go out
with; and then, seeing in his face the interpretation he put on her
words, she added, my mother is an invalid, and we do not like to leave
her too often.
Ah! but she is alive still, said Rendel, with a tone that sounded
as if he understood what the contrary might have meant.
Oh yes, said Rachel quickly. Yes, yes, indeed she is alive, in a
voice that told the proportion that fact assumed in existence.
My mother died long years ago, said Rendel, in a lower voice. Not
so long, though, that I did not understand. Rachel looked at him with
a soft light of pity flooding her face, and drawing the words out of
him, he knew not how. My father married again, he said, while I was
still a childwhile I needed looking after, at least.
Oh, said Rachel, you had a stepmother?
Yes, he said, I had a stepmother, and his face involuntarily
became harder as he recalled that long stretch of loveless yearsthe
father had never quite understood the shy and sensitive childduring
which he had been neglected, suppressed, lonely, with no one to care
that he did well at school and college, and that later he was getting
on in the world, with no place in the world that was really his home.
Then he went on after a moment: And now my father is dead, too, so I
am pretty much alone, you see.
How terrible it must be! said Rachel softly. How extraordinary! I
can't quite imagine what it is like.
Well, it is not very pleasant, said Rendel looking up, and again
penetrated by the sweet compassion in Rachel's face. You can't think
how strange it is He broke off and got up as Sir William Gore came
downstairs towards them. Sir William, with the true instinct of a
father, had chosen this moment to wonder whether Rachel was being
sufficiently amused, and was bearing down upon her and her companion
with an air of cheerful virtue which proclaimed that her conversation
with Rendel was at an end. Sir William's political principles did not
permit him to think very much of Rendel, since he was private secretary
to a man whose policy Sir William cordially detested, Lord Stamfordham,
the Foreign Minister, whose acute and wide-reaching sagacity inspired
his followers with a blind confidence to himself and his methods. Lord
Stamfordham had soon discovered the practical aptitude, the political
capacity, the determined, honourable ambition that lay behind Francis
Rendel's grave exterior, and had made up his mind, as indeed had
others, that the young man had a distinguished future before him.
Ah, Rendel, how are you? said Gore. What is your Chief going to
do next, eh?
I am afraid I can't tell you, Sir William, said Rendel with a half
Well, the people round him ought to put the brake on, said Gore,
or I don't know where the country will be.
I am afraid it is a brake I am not strong enough to work, said
Rendel; like Archimedes, I have not a lever powerful enough to move
H'm! said Sir William, with a sort of snort. There are fortunately
still some sounds left in our vocabulary which convey primeval emotions
without the limitations of words. Come, Rachel, it is time for us to
* * * * *
Mrs. Feversham's watchful eye had managed to observe what appeared
to be the sufficiently satisfactory sequel to the introduction she had
made. She was not a woman to let such a seed die for want of planting
and watering. She asked Rendel to dinner to meet the Gores, she talked
to Lady Gore about him, she it was who somehow arranged that he should
go to call at Prince's Gate, and he finally grew into a habit of
finding his way there with a frequency that surprised himself. Lady
Gore subjugated him entirely by her sweet kindly welcome, and the
interest with which she listened to him, until he found himself to his
own astonishment telling her, as he sat by her sofa, of his hopes and
fears and plans for the future.
Gradually new possibilities seemed to come into his life, or rather
the old possibilities were seen in a new light shed by the womanly
sympathy which up to now he had never known. He came away from each
visit with some fresh spurt of purpose, some new impulse to
achievement. Lady Gore, on her side, had been more favourably impressed
by Rendel than by any of the young men she had seen, until she realised
that here at last was a possible husband who might be worthy of Rachel.
But with her customary wisdom she tried not to formulate it even to
herself: she did not believe in these things being helped on otherwise
than by opportunity for intercourse being given. But where Mrs.
Feversham was, opportunity was sure to follow. Lady Gore one morning
had an eager letter from her friend saying, I know that you and Rachel
make it a rule of life that she can never go away from home. But you
must let her come to me next Thursday for the night. I shall haveand
she underlined this significantly without going into more details
just the right people to meet her. And for once, as Lady Gore
folded up the letter, she too was seized with an ardour of matchmaking.
She had a real affection for Rendel, and the devotion of the young man
to herself touched and pleased her. His probably brilliant future and
comfortable means were not the principal factors in the situation, but
there was no doubt that they helped to make everything else easy. So it
was that, to Rachel's great surprise, the day after the party at Bruton
Street, her mother having told her without showing her the letter of
Mrs. Feversham's invitation, advised her to accept it, and, to the
mother's still greater surprise, the daughter, in her turn, after a
slight protest, agreed to do so, stipulating, however, that she should
not be away more than twenty-four hours. The accusation that Rachel
gadded as much as other girls of her age was obviously an unmerited
Alone? said Sir William, as he came into the room. Thank Heaven!
Have you had no one?
Aunt Anna, Lady Gore replied, in a tone which was comment on the
Aunt Anna? What did she come again for? said Sir William.
I really don't know, Lady Gore said. I think to-day it was to
tell me that Rachel and I ought not to worship you as we do.
I don't know what she means, said Sir William, standing from force
of habit comfortably in front of the fireplace as though there were a
fire in the grate. I should have thought it was Rachel and I who
She would like that better, Lady Gore replied. But, oh dear, what
a weary woman she is!
She has tired you out, Sir William said. It really is not a good
plan that your door should be open to every bore who chooses to come
and call upon you. One ought to be able to keep people of that sort, at
any rate, out of one's house.
Lady Gore heaved a sigh.
Well, it is rather difficult and invidious too, she said, to try
to keep certain people out when one is not sure who is comingand it
is rather dull not to see any one, with a little quiver of the lip
which Sir William did not perceive. Then speaking more lightly, It is
a pity we can't have some kind of automatic arrangement at our front
doors, like the thing for testing sovereigns at the Mint, by which the
heavy, tiresome people would be shot back into the street, and the
light, amusing ones shot into the hall.
I am quite agreeable, said Sir William, as long as Aunt Anna is
shot back into the street.
Ah, how delightful it would be! said Lady Gore longingly.
And Miss Tarlton too, please, said Sir William.
My dear William, Lady Gore said, Miss Tarlton is quite harmless.
Harmless? repeated Sir William; I don't know what you call
harmless. The very thought of her fills me with impotent rage. A woman
who talks of nothing but photography and bicycling, and goes about with
her fingers pea-green and her legs in gaiters! It's an outrage on
society. I am thankful that Rachel has never gone in for any nonsense
of that sortnor ever shall, while I can prevent it.
My good friend, said Lady Gore, you may not find that so easy.
I will prevent it as long as she is under my roof, replied Sir
William. I suppose if she marries a husband with any fads of that
sort, she will have to share them.
ButLady Gore checked herself on the verge of saying, I don't
think he has, as she suddenly realised what image was called up by the
mention of Rachel's possible husbandbut she might marry some one who
hasn't, she ended lamely.
Oh dear me, yes, said Sir William, there is time enough for that;
she is very young after all.
She is twenty-two, said Lady Gore. Perhaps that is young in these
days when women don't seem to marry until they are nearly thirty. But I
don't think it is a good plan to wait so long.
I don't think it's a bad one, said Sir William; they know their
own minds at any rate.
They have known half a dozen of their own minds, said Lady Gore.
I think it is much better for a girl to marry before she knows that
there is an alternative to the mind she has got, such as it is.
Sir William smiled, but did not think it worth while to argue the
point. It was not his province, but her mother's, to guide Rachel's
career, and he was content to remain in comfortable ignorance of the
complications of the female heart of a younger generation. However, he
was not allowed to remain in that detached attitude, for Lady Gore,
with the subject uppermost in her mind preoccupying her to the
exclusion of everything else, could not help adding, You often see Mr.
Rendel at parties, when you and Rachel go out, I mean?
Rendel? Yes, said Gore indifferently. Why?
Lady Gore did not explain. I like him, she said.
Oh yes, so do I, said Gore, without enthusiasm. I don't agree
with him, of course. I asked him one day what his Chief was about, and
told him he ought to put the brake on.
Did he seem pleased at that? said Lady Gore, smiling.
He will have to hear it, I'm afraid, said Gore, whether it
pleases him or not.
I must say, said Lady Gore, I can't help admiring Lord
Stamfordham. I do like a man who is strong, and this man is head and
shoulders above other people.
Head and shoulders above little people perhaps, said Sir William.
Mr. Rendel says that when once one is caught up in Lord
Stamfordham's train, it is impossible not to follow him.
Rendel! said Sir William. Oh, of course, if you're going to
listen to what Stamfordham's hangers-on say....
Oh, William, please! said Lady Gore. Don't say that sort of thing
about Mr. Rendel.
Why? said Sir William, amazed. Why am I to speak of Rendel with
Because ... supposesuppose he were to be your son-in-law some
Oh, said Sir William, staring at her, is that what you are
Mindmind you don't say it, cried Lady Gore.
I shan't say it, certainly, cried Sir William, still
bewildered; but has he said it? That's more to the point.
He hasn't yet, she admitted.
Well, he never struck me in that light, I must say, said Sir
William. I always thought it was you he adored.
Cela n'empêche pas, said Lady Gore, laughing.
I daresay he would do very well, said Sir William, who, as he
further considered the question, was by no means insensible to the
advantages of the suggestion put before him; it is only his politics
that are against him.
I am afraid, said Lady Gore, that Rachel would always think her
father knew best.
Afraid! said Sir William, what more would you have?
My dear William, said his wife, smiling at him, she might think
her husband knew best, that is what some people do.
Quite right, said Sir William, looking at her fondly, but
believing with entire conviction in the truth of what he was lightly
At this moment the door opened and a footman came in.
Young Mr. Anderson is downstairs, Sir William.
Young Mr. Anderson? said Sir William, looking at him with some
Yes, Sir WilliamMr. Fred, the man replied, evidently somewhat
doubtful as to whether he was right in using the honorific.
Fred Anderson back again! said Sir William to his wife. All
right, James, I'll come directly. I wonder if his rushing back to
England so soon, he said, as the door closed upon the servant, means
that that boy has come to grief.
Let us hope that it means the reverse, said his wife, and that he
has come back to ask you to be chairman of his companyas you
promised, do you remember, when he went away?
So I did, yes, to be sure, said Sir William, laughing at the
recollection. Upon my word, that lad won't fail for want of assurance.
We shall see what he has got to say. And he went out.
The Andersons had been small farmers on the Gore estate for some
generations. Fred Anderson, the second son of the present farmer, a
youth of energy and enterprise, had determined to seek his fortune
further afield. Mainly by the kind offices of the Gores, he had been
started in life as a mining engineer, and had, eighteen months before
his present reappearance, been sent with some others to examine and
report on a large mine lately discovered on British territory near the
Equator. The result of their investigations proved that it was actually
and most unexpectedly a gold mine, promising untold treasure, but at
the same time, from its geographical situation, almost valueless, since
it was so far from any lines of communication as to make the working of
it practically impossible. The young, however, are sanguine; undaunted
by difficulties, Fred Anderson, in spite of the discouragement and
dropping off of his companions, remained full of faith in the future of
the mine, and of something turning up which would make it possible to
work it; in fact, he had actually gone so far as to obtain for himself
a grant of the mining rights from the British Government. It was for
this purpose that, giving a brief outline of the situation, he had
written to Sir William some time before to ask him for the sum
necessary to obtain the concession. Sir William had advanced it to him.
It was when, two years before, the boy of nineteen was leaving home for
the first time that he had half jestingly asked Sir William whether, if
he and his companions found a gold mine and started a company to work
it, he would be their chairman, and Sir William, to whom it had seemed
about as likely that Fred Anderson would become Prime Minister as
succeed in such an undertaking, had given him his hand on the bargain.
Well, my boy, said Sir William, and the very sound of his voice
seemed to Fred Anderson to put him back two yearsthe two years that
appeared to him to contain his life. How is it you have hurried back
to England so quickly?
I will tell you all about it, Sir William, said the boy. I
thought it best to come over and get everything into shape myself.
You seem to be embarking on very adventurous schemes, said Sir
William, feeling as he looked at the boy's bright, open face, full of
alert intelligence, that it was not impossible that the schemes might
be carried through.
I think you will say so, sir, when you have heard what I have to
tell you, said Anderson, resolutely keeping down his excitement in a
way that boded well for his powers of self-control.
I shall be much interested, said Sir William. Now, what about
those mining rights? Do I understand that you are the proprietor of a
mine on the Equator, a thousand miles from anywhere?
Yes, and no, said Anderson. At least, yes to the first question;
no to the second.
What, said Sir William, still speaking lightly, has the mine come
nearer since we first heard of it?
Yes, practically it has, said Anderson, looking Gore in the face.
Then, unrolling the paper which he held in his hand and rolling it the
other way that it might remain open, he laid it carefully out on the
table before Sir William. I have brought you the map with all the
indications on it, that you may see for yourself. Sir William adjusted
an eyeglass and bent over the map, roused to more curiosity than he
This, said the young man, pointing to a large tract in pink, is
British territory; that is Uganda; here is the Congo Free State. There,
you see, are the Germans where the map is marked in orange. There is
the Equator, and there is the mine. Look, marked in blue.
That is a pretty God-forsaken place, I must say, remarked Sir
One moment, said Fred. That thin, dotted ink line running north
and south from the top of Africa to the bottom is the Cape to Cairo
Railway, of which the route has now been determined on, and this, with
a ringing accent of triumph, bringing his hand down on to the map, is
the place where the railway will pass within a few miles of us.
What? said Sir William, starting.
Yes, there it is, quite close, Anderson answered. When once it is
there, all our difficulties of transport are over.
Sir William recovered himself.
Cape to Cairo! he said. You had better wait till you see the line
made, my boy.
That won't be so very long, Sir William, I assure you, said the
young man. This cross in ink marks where the line has got to from the
northern end, and this one, pointing to another, from the south, and
they have already got telegraph poles a good bit further.
Before the two ends have joined hands, said Sir William, another
Government may be in which won't be so keen on that mad enterprise. As
if we hadn't railways enough on our hands already.
Not many railways like this one, said the young man. Did you see
an article in the Arbiter about it this morning? It is going to
be the most tremendous thing that ever was done.
Oh, of course, yes, said Sir William with an accent of scorn in
his tone. Just the kind of thing that the Arbiter would have a
good flare-up about. I have no doubt that the scheme is magnificent on
paper. However, time will show, he added, with a kinder note in his
voice. He liked the boy and his faith in achieving the impossible.
It will indeed, said Anderson. Only, you see, we can't afford to
wait till time showswe must take it by the forelock now, I'm afraid.
Then what do you propose to do next? said Sir William.
We are going to form a company, said the boy, his colour rising.
We are going to have everything ready, and the moment the railway is
finished we are ready to work the mine, and our fortune is made.
You are going to form a company? said Sir William, incredulously.
Yes, Anderson replied. In a week we shall have the whole thing in
shape, and I hope that when the mine and its possibilities are made
public, we shan't have any difficulty in getting the shares taken up.
Well, I am sure I hope you won't, said Sir William. I'll take
some shares in it if you can show me a reasonable prospect of its
coming to anything. But I should like to hear something more about it
You shall, of course, said Anderson, as he took up his map again.
But it was not about taking shares I came to ask you, Sir William.
What was it, then? said Sir William.
You said, the boy replied, with an embarrassed little laugh,
looking him straight in the face, that you would be the chairman of
the first company I floated.
By Jove, so I did! said Sir William. Upon my word, it was rather
a rash promise to make.
I don't think it was, I assure you, the boy said earnestly; this
thing really is going to turn up trumps.
Well, let's hope it is, for all concerned, said Sir William. And
what are you going to call it?
Oh, we are going to call it, said Fred, simply 'The Equator,
The Equator! Upon my word! Why not the Universe? said Sir William.
That will come next, said the boy, with a happy laugh of sheer
jubilation. Then, Sir William, will youyou will be our chairman?
Oh yes, said Sir William. A promise is a promise. But mind, I
shall be a very inefficient one. I don't suppose you could find any one
who knew less about that sort of thing than I do.
Oh, that will be all right, Sir William, the boy said quickly.
There will be lots of people concerned who know all about it. Now that
the mine is going to be accessible, the right people will be more than
ready to take it up. I just wanted to have you there as the nominal
head to it, because you have always been so good to me, and you have
brought me luck since the beginning.
Nonsense! said Sir William. You'll have only yourself to thank,
my boy, when you get on.
Oh, I know better than that, said Anderson. Something very like
tears came into his eyes as he took the hand Sir William held out to
him, and then left the room as happy a youth of twenty-one as could be
found in London that day.
There was another young creature, at that moment driving across
London to Prince's Gate, to whom the world looked very beautiful that
day. Rachel was still in a sort of rapturous bewilderment. The
wonderful new experience that had come to her, that she was
contemplating for the first time, seemed, as she saw it in the company
of familiar surroundings, more marvellous yet. At Maidenhead everything
had been unwonted. The new experience of going away alone, the
enchanting repose of the hot sunny days on the river, the look of the
boughs as they dipped lazily into the water, and the light dancing and
dazzling on the ripples of the streamall had been part of the setting
of the new aspect of things, part of that great secret that she was
beginning to learn. Yet all the time she had had a feeling that when
the setting was altered, when she left this mysterious region of
romance, life would become ordinary again, the strange golden light
with which it was flooded would turn into the ordinary light of day,
and she would find herself where she had been before. But it was not
so. Here she was back again in the town she knew so well, driving
towards her homebut the new, strange possession had not left her, the
secret was hers still. It had all come so quickly that she had not
realised what she felt. Was she in love, the thing that she had taken
for granted would happen to her some day, but that she had not yet
longed for? Rachel, it must be confessed, had not been entirely given
up to romance; she had not been waiting, watching for the fairy prince
who should ride within her ken and transform existence for her. Her
life had been too full of love of another kind. But now she had a
sudden feeling of experience having been completed, something had come
to her that she had wished for, longed forhow much, she had not known
until it came. What would they say at home? What would her mother say?
And gradually she realised, as she always ended by realising, that
whatever the picture of life she was contemplating her mother was in
the foreground of it. There was no doubt about that; her mother came
first, her mother must come first. But nothing was quite clear in her
mind at this moment. The past forty-eight hours, the sudden change of
scene and of companionship, a possible alternative path suddenly
presenting itself in an existence which had been peacefully following
the same road, all this had been disturbing, bewildering evenand when
the hansom drew up in Prince's Gate, Rachel felt an intense
satisfaction at being back again in the haven, at the thought of the
welcome she was going to find. And as on a summer's day to people
sitting in a shaded room, the world beyond shut out, the opening of a
door into the sunshine may reveal a sudden vista of light, of flowers
shining in the sun, so to the two people who were awaiting Rachel's
arrival she brought a sudden vision of youth, brightness, colour, hope,
as she came swiftly in, smiling and confident, with the face and
expression of one who had never come into the presence of either of
these two companions without seeing her gladness reflected in the light
of welcome that shone in their eyes.
Well, gadabout! said her father as she turned to him after
embracing her mother fondly.
I am very sorry, said Rachel, I won't do it again.
And how did you enjoy yourself, my darling? said Lady Gore.
Oh, very much, Rachel said. It was delightful. The mother looked
at her and tried to read into her face all that the words might mean.
Rachel was in happy unconsciousness of how entirely the ground was
prepared to receive her confidence.
Was there a large party? said Sir William.
No, said Rachel, a very small one. She was leaning back
comfortably in the armchair, and deliberately taking off her gloves.
In fact, there were only two people beside myself, Sir Charles
Miniver, andMr. Rendel. There was a pause.
Miniver! said Sir William, Still staying about! He appeared to me
an old man when I was twenty-five. Rachel opened her eyes.
Did he? she said. That explains it. He is quite terribly old now,
much, much older than other old people one sees, she said, with the
conviction of her age, to which sixty and eighty appear pretty much the
same. You didn't mind, she went on to her mother hastily, somewhat
transparently trying to avoid a discussion of the rest of the house
party, my staying till the afternoon train? Mrs. Feversham suggested
boating this morning, and the day was so lovely, it was too tempting to
I didn't mind at all, said Lady Gore. It must have been lovely in
the boat. Did you all go?
Nno, not all, replied Rachel. Mrs. Feversham would have come,
but she had some things to do at home, and Sir Charles Miniver was
Too old? Lady Gore suggested.
I suppose so, said Rachel, though he called it busy.
As you say, remarked Sir William, that does not leave many people
to go in the boat. Rachel looked at her father quickly, but with a
pliability surprising in the male mind he managed to look unconscious.
Well, Elinor, he continued, I think as you have a companion now, I
shall go off for a bit. I shall be back presently. Let me implore you
not to let me find too many bores at tea.
If Miss Tarlton comes, said Lady Gore, I will have her
automatically ejected. Sir William went out, smiling at her. The
mother and daughter, both unconsciously to themselves, watched the door
close, then Rachel got up, went to the glass over the chimneypiece and
began deliberately taking off her veil.
I do look a sight, she said. It is astonishing how dirty one's
face gets in London, even in a drive across the Park.
Rachel! her mother said. Rachel turned round and looked at her.
Then she went quickly across the room and knelt down by her mother's
Mother! she said, Mother dear! it is such a comfort that if I
don't tell you things you don't mind. And why should you? It doesn't
matter. It is just as if I had told youyou always know, you always
Yes, said Lady Gore, I think I understand. And you know, she
added after a moment, that I never want you to tell me more than you
wish to tell. Only, very oftenand she tried to choose her words with
anxious care, that not one of them might mean more, less, or other than
she intended, it sometimes helps younger people, if they talk to
people who are older. You see, the mere fact of having been in the
world longer, brings one something like more wisdom, one can judge of
the proportion of things somehow, nothing seems quite so surprising, so
extraordinaryor so impossible, she added with a faint smile, with
the intuition of the point that Rachel had arrived at. And Rachel was
ready to take perfectly for granted that she should have been so
followed. Her absolute reliance on the wise and tender confidante by
her side, the habit of placing her first and referring everything to
her was stronger unconsciously to herself, than even the natural desire
of her age to hug the secret she was carrying, to keep it jealously
from any eyes but her own.
Of course, of course, I know that, she said without looking up,
and my first thought always is that I will tell you. In fact, she
went on with a little laugh, I never know what I think myself until I
have told you, and heard what it sounds like when I am saying it to
you, and seen what you look like when you listenonly she stopped
Darling, said Lady Gore, never feel that you must tell me a word
more than you wish to say.
Well, said Rachel hesitating, the only thing is that to-day I
mustperhapsyou would know something about it presently in any
case.... And she stopped again.
Presently? why? said Lady Gore. Rachel made no answer.
Is Mr. Rendel coming here to-day? said Lady Gore, trying to speak
in her ordinary voice.
Yes, said Rachel, he is coming to see you.
I shall be very glad to see him, said Lady Gore. I always am.
I know, yes, said Rachel. Then with a sudden effort, It is no
use, mother, I must tell you; you must know first. Then she paused
again. This morning we went out in the boat she stopped.
Yes, said Lady Gore, and Sir Charles Miniver was unfortunately
too old to go with youor fortunately, perhaps?
I am not sure which, said Rachel. I am not sure, she repeated
Rachel, did Francis Rendel....
Yes, said Rachel, he asked me to marry him.
Lady Gore laid her hand on her daughter's. What did you say to
Rachel looked up quickly. Surely you know. I told him it would be
Impossible? her mother repeated.
Of course, impossible, Rachel said. We needn't discuss it, mother
dear, she went on with an effort. You know I could not go away from
you; you could not do without me. You could not, could you? she went
on imploringly. I should be dreadfully saddened if you could.
I should have to do without you, Lady Gore said. I could not let
you give up your happiness to mine.
It would not be giving up my happiness to stay with you, you know
that quite well, Rachel said. On the contrary, I simply could not be
happy if I felt that you needed me and that I had left you.
Rachel, do you care for him?
Do I, I wonder? Rachel said, half thinking aloud and letting
herself go as one does who, having overcome the first difficulty of
speech, welcomes the rapturous belief of pouring out her heart to the
right listener. I believe, she said, that I care for him as much as
I could for any one, in that way, butand she shook her headI know
all the time that you come first, and that you always, always will.
Oh, but that is not right, said Lady Gore. That is not natural.
Not natural, Rachel said, that I should care for my mother most?
No, Lady Gore said, not in the long run. Of course, she went on
with a smile, to say a thing is not 'natural' is simply begging the
question, and sounds as if one were dismissing a very complicated
problem with a commonplace formula, but it has truth in it all the
same. It is difficult enough to fashion existence in the right way,
even with the help of others, but to do it single-handed is a task few
people are qualified to achieve. I am quite sure that a woman has more
chance of happiness if she marries than if she remains alone. It is
right that people should renew their stock of affection, should see
that their hold on the world, on life, is renewed, should feel that
fresh claims, for that is a part, and a great part, of happiness, are
ready at hand when the old ones disappear. All this is what means
happiness, and you know that the one thing I want in the world is that
you should be happy. I was thinking to-day, she went on, with a slight
tremor in her voice, that if I were quite sure that your life were
happily settled, that you were beginning one of your own not wholly
dependent on those behind you, I should not mind very much if mine were
to come to an end.
To an end? said Rachel, startled. Don't say thatdon't talk
I do not talk about it often, Lady Gore said; but this is a
moment when it must be said, because, remember, when you talk of
sacrificing your life to me
Sacrificing! interjected Rachel.
Well, of devoting it to me, Lady Gore went on; and putting aside
those things that might make a beautiful life of your own, you must
remember one thing, that I may not be there always. In fact, she
corrected herself with a smile, to say may not is taking a
rose-coloured view, that I shall not be there always. And who
knows? The moment of our separation may not be so far off.
Rachel looked up hurriedly, much perturbed.
Why are you saying this now? she said. You have seemed so much
better lately. You are very well, aren't you, mother? You are looking
Lady Gore had a moment of wondering whether she should tell her
daughter what she knew, what she expected herself, but she looked at
Rachel's anxious, quivering face and refrained.
It is something that ought to be said at this moment, she
answered. You have come to a parting of the ways. This is the moment
to show you the signposts, to help you to choose the best road.
Listen, mother, said Rachel earnestly. In this case I am sure I
know by myself which is the best road to choose. I am perfectly clear
that as long as I have you I shall stay with you. That I mean to do,
she continued with unwonted decision. And besides, ifif you were no
longer there, how could I leave my father?
Ah, said Lady Gore, I wanted to say that to you. Now, as we are
speaking of it, let us talk it out, let us look at it in the face.
Consider the possibility, Rachel, the probability that I may be taken
from you; my dream would be that you should make your own life with
some one that you care about, and yet not part it entirely from your
father's, that while he is there he should not be left. If I thought
that, do you know, it would be a very great help to me, she said,
forcing herself to speak steadily, but unable to hide entirely the
wistful anxiety in her tone.
I will never, never leave him, Rachel said. I promise you that I
Then I can look forward, her mother said, as peacefully, I don't
say as joyfully, as I look back. Twenty-four years, nearly
twenty-five, she went on, half to herself and looking dreamily
upwards, we have been married. You don't know what those years mean,
but some day I hope you will. I pray that you may know how the lives
and souls of two people who care for one another absolutely grow
together during such a time.
It is beautiful, Rachel said softly, to know that there is such
happiness in the world, and her own new happiness leapt to meet the
assurance of the years.
It is beautiful indeed, Lady Gore said. It means a constant
abiding sense of a strange other self sharing one's own interestsof a
close companionship, an unquestioning approval which makes one almost
independent of opinions outside.
Some people, said Rachel, pressing her mother's hand, have the
outside affection and approval too.
Yes, the world has been very kind to me, Lady Gore said, and all
that is delightful. But it is the big thing that matters. Do you
remember that there was some famous Greek who said when his chosen
friend and companion died, 'The theatre of my actions has fallen'?
Rachel's face lighted up in quick response. When I am gone, her
mother went on, don't let your father feel that the theatre of his
actions has fallentake my place, surround him with love and
I will, indeed I will, said Rachel.
What a man needs, said Lady Gore, is some one to believe in him.
My father will never be in want of that, said Rachel, with
heartfelt conviction. Mother, she added, I never will forget what I
am saying now, and you may believe it and you may be happy about it. I
won't leave my father; he shall come first, I promise, whatever
First? said Lady Gore gently. No, Rachel, not that; it is right
that your husband should come first.
The people, said Rachel smiling, whose husbands come first have
not had a father and mother like mine.
There was a knock at the house door. Rachel sprang hurriedly to her
feet, the colour flying into her cheeks. Lady Gore looked at her. She
had never before seen in Rachel's face what she saw there now.
I must take off my things, the girl said, catching up her gloves
Don't be very long, said her mother.
I'llI'llsee, Rachel said, and she suddenly bent over her
mother and kissed her, then went quickly out by one door as the other
was thrown open to admit a visitor.
Francis Rendel came into the room with his usual air of ceremony,
amounting almost to stiffness. Then, as he realised that his hostess
was alone, his face lighted up and he came eagerly towards her.
This is a piece of good fortune, to find you alone, he
said. I was afraid I should find you surrounded.
It is early yet, Lady Gore said, with a smile.
I know, yes, Rendel said. I must apologise for coming at this
time, but I wanted very much to see you He paused.
I am delighted to see you at any time, Lady Gore said.
It is so good of you, he answered, in the tone of one who is
thinking of the next thing he is going to say. There was a silence.
I hope you enjoyed yourself at Maidenhead? said Lady Gore.
Very, very much, Rendel answered with an air of penetrated
conviction. There was another pause. Then he suddenly said, Lady
Gore and stopped.
She waited a moment, then said gently, Yes, I know. Rachel has been
She has! Oh, I am so glad, Rendel said. Then he added, finding
apparently an extreme difficulty in speaking at all, Andanddo you
That is a modest way of putting it, said Lady Gore, smiling. No,
I don't mind. I am glad.
Are you really? said Rendel, looking as if his life depended on
the answer. Do you mean that you really think youyoucould be on my
side? Then it will come all right.
I will be on your side, certainly, said Lady Gore; but I don't
know that that is the essential thing. I am not, after all, the person
whose consent matters most.
Do you know, I believe you are, Rendel said. I verily believe
that at this moment you come before any one else in the world. There
was no need to say in whose estimation, or to mention Rachel's name.
Well, perhaps at this moment, as you say, said Lady Gore, it is
possible, but there is no reason why it should go on always.
She is absolutely devoted to you, Rendel said.
Rachel has a fund, her mother said, of loyal devotion, of
unswerving affection, which makes her a very precious possession.
I have seen it, said Rendel. Her devotion to you and her father
is one of the most beautiful things in the world, even though....
Even...? said Lady Gore, with a smile.
Did she tell you what she said to me this morning?
I gathered, yes, Lady Gore replied, both what you had said and
I didn't take it as an answer, said Rendel. I thought that I
would come straight to you and ask you to help me, and that you would
understand, as you always do, in the way that nobody else does.
Take care, said Lady Gore smiling, that you don't blindly accept
Rachel's view of her surroundings.
Oh, it is not only Rachel who has taught me that, said Rendel, his
heart very full. It is you yourself, and your sympathy. I wonder, he
went on quickly, if you know what it has meant to me? You see, it is
not as if I had ever known anything of the sort before. To have had it
all one's life, as your daughter has, must be something very wonderful.
I don't wonder she does not want to give it up.
Lady Gore tried to speak more lightly than she felt. She need not
give it up, she said, with a somewhat quivering smile. And you need
not thank me any more, she went on. I should like you to know what a
great interest and a great pleasure it has been to me that you should
have cared to come and see me as you have done, and to take me into
your life. Rendel was going to speak, but she went on. I have never
had a son of my own. It was a great disappointment to me at first; I
was very anxious to have one. I used to think how he and I would have
planned out his life together, and that he might perhaps do some of the
things in the world that are worth doing. You see how foolish I was,
she ended, with a tremulous little smile.
Rendel, in spite of his gravity, experience and intuitive
understanding, had a sudden and almost bewildering sense of a change of
mental focus as he heard the wise, gentle adviser confiding in her
turn, and confessing to foolish and unfulfilled illusions. He felt a
passionate desire to be of use to her.
I should have been quite content if he had been like you, she
said, and she held out her hand, which he instinctively raised to his
You make me very happy, he said. You make me hope.
But, she said, trying to speak in her ordinary voice, perhaps I
ought to have begun by saying thisI wonder if Rachel is the right
sort of wife for a rising politician?
She is the right sort of wife for me, said Rendel. That is all
I'm afraid, Lady Gore said, she isn't ambitious.
Afraid! said Rendel.
She has no ardent political convictions.
I have enough for both, said Rendel.
Andandsuch as she has are naturally her father's, and therefore
opposed to yours.
Then we won't talk about politics, Rendel said, and that will be
a welcome relief.
I'm afraid also, the mother went on, smiling, that she is not
abreast of the agethat she doesn't write, doesn't belong to a club,
doesn't even bicycle, and can't take photographs.
Oh, what a perfect woman! ejaculated Rendel.
In fact I must admit that she has no bread-winning talent, and that
in case of need she could not earn her own livelihood.
If she had anything to do with me, said Rendel, I should be
ashamed if she tried.
She is not as clever as you are.
But even supposing that to be true, said Rendel, isn't that a
state of things that makes for happiness?
Well, replied Lady Gore, I believe that as far as women are
concerned you are behind the age too.
I am quite certain of it, Rendel said, and it is therefore to be
rejoiced over that the only woman I have ever thought of wanting should
not insist on being in front of it.
The only woman? Is that so? Lady Gore asked.
It is indeed, he said, with conviction.
And you arehow old?
It sounds as if this were the real thing, I must say, she said,
with a smile.
There is not much doubt of that, said he quietly. There never was
any one more certain than I am of what I want.
That is a step towards getting it, Lady Gore said.
I believe it is, he said fervently. You have told me all the
things your daughter has notthat I am thankful she hasn'tbut I
know, besides, the things she has that go to make her the only woman I
want to pass my life withshe is everything a woman ought to beshe
My dear young friend, said Lady Gore, with a shallow pretence of
laughing at his enthusiasm, you really are rather far gone!
Yes, said Rendel, there is no doubt about that. I have not, by
the way, attempted to tell you about things that are supposed to matter
more than those we have been talking about, but that don't matter
really nearly so muchI mean my income and prospects, and all that
sort of thing. But perhaps I had better tell Sir William all that.
You can tell him about your income, said Lady Gore, if you like.
I have enough to live upon, the young man said. I don't think
that on that score Sir William can raise any objection.
Let us hope he won't on any other, she replied. We must tell him
what he is to think.
And my chances of getting on, though it sounds absurd to say so,
are rather good, he went on. Lord Stamfordham will, I know, help me
whenever he can; and I mean to go into the House, and thenoh, then it
will be all right, really.
At this moment the door opened and Sir William came in.
You are the very person we wanted, his wife said.
You want to apologise to me for the conduct of your party, I
suppose, said Gore to Rendel, half in jest, half in earnest, as he
I'm very sorry, Sir William, said Rendel, if we've displeased
you. Pray don't hold me responsible.
Oh yes, said Lady Gore lightly, to give Rendel time, one always
holds one's political adversary responsible for anything that happens
to displease one in the conduct of the universe.
I hope, said Rendel, trying to hide his real anxiety, that Sir
William will try to forgive me for the action of my party, and
everything else. Pray feel kindly towards me to-day.
Sir William looked at him inquiringly, affecting perhaps a more
unsuspecting innocence than he was feeling. Rendel went on, speaking
quickly and feeling suddenly unaccountably nervous.
I have come here to tell youto ask you He stopped, then went
on abruptly, This morning, at Maidenhead, I asked your daughter to
What, already? said Sir William involuntarily. That was very
prompt. And what did she say?
She said it was impossible, Rendel answered, encouraged more by
Gore's manner and his general reception of the news than by his actual
Impossible, did she say? said Sir William. And what did you say
That I should come here this afternoon, Rendel replied.
Sir William smiled.
That was prompter still, he said. It looks as if you knew your
own mind at any rate.
I do indeed, if ever a man did, said Rendel confidently. And I
really do believe that it was because she was a good daughter she said
it was impossible.
Well, if it was, that's the kind that often makes an uncommonly
good wife, Sir William said.
I don't doubt it, Rendel said, with conviction. And I feel that
if only you and Lady Gore
He stopped, as the door opened gently, and Rachel appeared, in a
fresh white summer gown. She stood looking from one to the other,
arrested on the threshold by that strange consciousness of being under
discussion which is transmitted to one as through a material medium.
Then what seemed to her the full horror of being so discussed swept
over her. Was it possible that already the beautiful dream that had
surrounded her, that wonderful secret that she had hardly yet whispered
to herself, was having the light of day let in upon it, was being
handled, discussed, as though it were possible that others might share
in it too?
Rendel read in her face what she was going through. He went forward
quickly to meet her.
I am afraid, he said, putting his thoughts into words more
literally than he meant, that I have come too soon. I hope you will
It is rather soon, Rachel answered, not quite knowing what she was
But you don't say whether you forgive him or not, Rachel, said Sir
William, whose idea of carrying off the situation was to indulge in the
time-honoured banter suitable to those about to become engaged.
Don't ask her to say too much at once, Lady Gore said quickly,
realising far better than Rachel's father did what was passing in the
I'm afraid I can't say very much yet, Rachel said hesitatingly.
I don't want you to say very much, said Rendel, or indeed
anything if you don't want to, he ended somewhat lamely and
Miss Tarlton! announced the servant, throwing the door open.
The four people in the room looked at each other in consternation.
Events had succeeded each other so quickly that no one had thought of
providing against the contingency of inopportune visitors by saying
Lady Gore was not at home. It was too late to do anything now. Miss
Tarlton happily had no misgivings about her reception. It never crossed
her mind that she could be unwelcome, especially to-day that she had
brought with her some photographs taken from the Gores' own balcony
some weeks before, on the occasion of some troops having passed along
Prince's Gate. She had half suggested on that occasion that she should
come, in order that she might have a post of vantage from which to take
some of the worst photographs in London, and the Gores had not had the
heart to refuse her. If she had had any doubt, howeverwhich she had
notabout her hosts' feelings in the matter, she would have felt that
she had now made up for everything by bringing them the result of her
labours, and that nothing could be more opportune or more agreeable
than her entrance on this particular occasion.
Miss Tarlton was a single woman of independent means living alone, a
destiny which makes it almost inevitable that there should be a
luxuriant growth of individual peculiarities which have never needed to
accommodate themselves to the pressure of circumstances or of
companionship. She was perfectly content with her life, and none the
less so although those to whom she recounted the various phases of it
were not so content at second hand with hearing the recital of it. She
was one of those fortunate persons who have a hobby which takes the
place of parents, husband, children, relationsa hobby, moreover,
which appears to afford a delight quite independent of the varying
degrees of success with which it is pursued. Unhappily the joy of those
who thus pursue a much-loved occupation is bound to overflow in words;
and if they have no daily auditor within their own four walls, they are
driven by circumstances to choose their confidants haphazard when they
go out. Miss Tarlton's confidences, however, were all of an optimistic
character: she inflicted on her hearers no grievances against destiny.
She recorded her vote, so to speak, in favour of content, and thereby
established a claim to be heard.
To see her starting on one of her photographing expeditions was to
be convinced that she considered the scheme of the universe
satisfactory, as she went off with her felt hat jammed on to her head,
with an air, not of radiant pleasure perhaps, but of faith in her
occupation of unflinching purpose. With her camera slung on to her
bicycle and her fat little feet working the pedals, she had the air of
being the forerunner of a corps of small cyclist photographers. Life
appealed to Miss Tarlton according to its adaptability to photography.
For this reason she was not preoccupied with the complications of
sentiment or of the softer emotions which not even the Röntgen rays
have yet been able to reproduce with a camera.
How do you do, Lady Gore? she said as she came in. I am later
than I meant to be. I was so afraid I should not get here to-day, but I
knew how anxious you would be to see the photographs.
How kind of you! Lady Gore said vaguely, for the moment entirely
forgetting what the photographs were.
Miss Tarlton, after greeting the other members of the party, and
making acquaintance with Rendel, all on her part with the demeanour of
one who quickly despatches preliminaries before proceeding to really
important business, drew off her gloves, displaying strangely
variegated fingers, and proceeded to take from the case she was
carrying photographs in various stages of their existence.
I have brought you the negatives of one or two, she said, holding
one after another up to the light, as I didn't wait to print them all.
Ah, here is one. This is how you must hold it, look.
Lady Gore tried to look at it as though it were really the
photograph, and not the equilibrium of a most difficult situation, that
she was trying to poise. Sir William was about to propose to Rendel to
come down with him to his study, but Miss Tarlton obligingly included
everybody at once in the concentration upon her photographs which she
felt the situation demanded.
Look, Sir William, she said. I am sure you will be interested in
this one. That is Lord X. He is a little blurred, perhaps; still, when
one knows who it is, it is a very interesting memento, really. Look,
Miss Gore, this is the one I did when we were standing together. Do you
Oh! yes, of course, Rachel said. She did, as a matter of fact,
very well remember the occasion, the length of time that had been
necessary to adjust the legs of the camera, which appeared to have a
miraculous power of interweaving themselves into the legs of the
spectators; the piercing cry from Miss Tarlton at the feather of
another lady's hat coming across the field of vision just as the troops
came within focus; and a general sense of agitation which had prevented
any one in the photographer's immediate surroundings from contemplating
with a detached mind the military spectacle passing at their feet.
These plates are really too small, said Miss Tarlton; I have been
wishing ever since that I had brought my larger machine that day. Her
hearers did not find it in their hearts to echo this wish. Of course,
though, a small machine is most delightfully convenient. It is so
portable, one need never be without it. I am told there is quite a tiny
one to be had now. Have you seen it, Sir William?
No, I haven't, said Sir William, in an entirely final and decided
manner. Miss Tarlton turned to Rendel as though to ask him, but saw
that he was standing apart with Rachel, apparently deep in
conversation. She felt that it was rather hard on Rachel to be called
away when she might have been enjoying the photographs.
Do you know whether Mr. Rendel photographs? she said to Lady Gore,
in a more subdued tone.
I really don't know; I think not, Lady Gore said, amused in spite
of herself at her husband's rising exasperation, although she was
conscious of sharing it.
Rendel, said Sir William, obliged to let his feelings find vent in
speech at the expense of his discretion, Miss Tarlton is asking
whether you photograph?
I'm afraid I don't, said Rendel.
Ah, I thought not, said Sir William, giving a sort of grunt of
It is only... said Miss Tarlton, who had relapsed into her
photographs again, and was therefore constrained to speak in the sort
of absent, maundering tone of people who try to frame consecutive
sentences while they are looking over photographs or reading
lettersahthis is the one I wanted you to see, Lady Gore
Oh! yes, I see, said Lady Gore, mendaciously as to the spirit, if
not to the letter, for she certainly did not see in the negative held
up by Miss Tarlton, which appeared to the untutored mind a square piece
of grey dirty glass with confused black smudges on it, all that Miss
Tarlton wished her to behold there. Then she became aware of a welcome
How do you do, Mr. Wentworth? she said, putting down the
photograph with inward relief, as a tall young man with a fair
moustache and merry blue eyes came into the room.
Photographs? he said, after exchanging greetings with his host and
hostess, nodding to Rendel and bowing to Rachel.
Yes, said Lady Gore. Now you shall give your opinion.
I shall be delighted, he said. I have got heaps of opinions.
Do you photograph? said Miss Tarlton, with a spark of renewed
I am sorry to say I don't, answered Wentworth. I believe it is a
It is an inexhaustible pleasure, said Miss Tarlton, with
I congratulate you, said Wentworth, on possessing it.
Yes, said Miss Tarlton solemnly, I lead an extremely happy life.
I take out my camera every day on my bicycle, and I photograph. When I
get home I develop the photographs. I spend hours in my dark room.
It is indeed a happy temperament, said Wentworth, that can find
pleasure in spending hours in a dark room.
Have you ever tried it? said Miss Tarlton.
Certainly, said Wentworth. In London in the winter, when it is
foggy, you know.
Oh, said Miss Tarlton, again with unflinching gravity. I don't
think you quite understand what I mean. I mean in a photographic dark
room, developing, you know.
I see, said Wentworth. When I am in a dark room in the winter I
generally develop theories.
Develop what? said Miss Tarlton.
Theories, about smuts and smoke, you know; things people write to
the papers about in the winter, said Wentworth, whose idea of
conversation was to endeavour to coruscate the whole time. It is not to
be wondered at, therefore, if the spark was less powerful on some
occasions than on others.
Oh, said Miss Tarlton, not in the least entertained.
Wentworth, a little discomfited, could for once think of nothing to
I suppose, said Miss Tarlton, still patiently pursuing her
investigations in the same hopeless quarter, you don't know the name
of that quite, quite new and tiny machine?
Machine? What sort of machine? said Wentworth.
A camera, said Miss Tarlton, with an inflection in her tone which
entirely eliminated any other possibility.
No, I'm afraid I don't, said Wentworth. I don't know the name of
any cameras, except that their family name is legion.
What? said Miss Tarlton.
Legion, said Wentworth again, crestfallen.
Oh, said Miss Tarlton.
Pateley would be the man to ask, said Wentworth, desperately
trying to put his head above the surface.
Pateley? Is that a shop? said Miss Tarlton eagerly. Where?
A shop! said Sir William, laughing. I should like to see
Pateley's facebut the door opened before he completed his sentence,
and his wish, presumably not formed upon æsthetic grounds, was
Robert Pateley was a journalist, and a successful man. Some people
succeed in life because they have certain qualities which enlist the
sympathy and co-operation of their fellow-creatures; others, without
such qualities, yet succeed by having a dogged determination and power
of push which make them independent of that sympathy and co-operation.
Robert Pateley was one of the latter. When he was discussed by two
people who felt they ought to like him, they said to one another, What
is it about Pateley that puts people off, I wonder? Why can't one like
him more? and then they would think it over and come to no conclusion.
Perhaps it was that his journalism was of the very newest kind. He was
certainly extremely able, although his somewhat boisterous personality
and entirely non-committal conversation did not give at the first
meeting with him the impression of his being the sagacious and
keen-witted politician that he really was. Was it his laugh that people
disliked? Was it his voice? It could not have been his intelligence,
which was excellent, nor yet his moral character, which was blameless.
In fact, in a quiet way, Pateley had been a hero, for he had been left,
through his father's mismanagement of the family affairs, with two
sisters absolutely on his hands, and he had never, since undertaking
the whole charge of them, for one instant put his own welfare,
advancement or interest before theirs. Absorbed in his resolute
purpose, he had coolness of head and determination enough to govern his
ambitions instead of letting himself be governed by them. The son of a
solicitor in a country town, he had made up his mind that, as he put it
to himself, he would be somebody some day. He had got to the top of
the local grammar school, and tasted the delights of success, and he
determined that he would continue them in a larger sphere. It is not
always easy to draw the line between conspicuousness and distinction.
Pateley, who went along the path of life like a metaphorical
fire-engine, had very early become conspicuous; he had gone steadily
on, calling to his fellow-creatures to get out of his way, until now,
as steerer of the Arbiter, a dashing little paper that under his
guidance had made a sudden leap into fame and influence, he was a
personage to be reckoned with, and it was evident enough in his bearing
that he was conscious of the fact.
Such was the person who, almost as his name was on Sir William
Gore's lips, came cheerfully, loudly, briskly into the room, including
everybody in the heartiest of greetings, stepping at once into the
foreground of the picture, and filling it up.
Did I hear you say that you would like to see my face, Gore? How
very polite of you! most gratifying! he said with a loud laugh, which
seemed to correspond to his big and burly person.
You did, said Sir William. Wentworth says you know everything
Ah! now, that, said Pateley, galvanised into real eagerness and
interest as he turned round after shaking hands with Lady Gore, I
really do know at this moment, as I have just come from the
Oh! said Miss Tarlton with an irrepressible cry, the ordinary
conventions of society abrogated by the enormous importance of the
information which she felt was coming.
Let me introduce you to Miss Tarlton, said Sir William. Miss
Tarlton bowed quickly, and then proceeded at once to business.
Do you know the name of a quite tiny camera? she said; the very
I do, said Pateley. It is the 'Viator,' and I have just seen it.
A sort of audible murmur of relief ran through the company at this
burning question having been answered at last. And it is only by a
special grace of Providence, Pateley went on, assisted by my high
principles, that that machine is not in my pocket at this moment.
Oh! I wish it were! said Miss Tarlton.
I'm afraid it may be before many days are over, said Pateley. I
never saw anything so perfect. And do you know, it takes a snapshot in
a room even just as well as in the open air. If I had it in my hand I
could snap any one of you here, at this moment, almost without your
knowing anything about it.
I am so glad you haven't, Lady Gore couldn't help ejaculating.
The man who was showing it took one of me as I turned to look at
it. It is perfectly wonderful.
And that in a room? Miss Tarlton said, more and more awestruck.
And simply a snapshot, not a time exposure at all?
Precisely, Pateley said.
I shall go and see it, Miss Tarlton said, and, notebook in hand,
she continued with a businesslike air to write down the particulars
communicated by Pateley.
I am quite out of my depth, Lady Gore said to Wentworth. What
does a 'time exposure' mean?
Heaven knows, said Wentworth. Something about seconds and things,
I can never judge of how many seconds a thing takes, said Lady
I'm sure I can't, Wentworth replied. The other day I thought we
had been three-quarters of an hour in a tunnel and we had only been two
minutes and a half.
Now then, Pateley said with a satisfied air, turning to Sir
William, I have cheered Miss Tarlton on to a piece of extravagance.
Sir William felt a distinct sense of pleasure. I have persuaded her to
buy a new machine.
The thing that amuses me, said Sir William with some scorn, having
apparently forgotten which of his pet aversions had been the subject of
the conversation, is people's theory that when once you have bought a
bicycle it costs you nothing afterwards.
It is not a bicycle, Sir William, it is a camera, said Miss
Tarlton, with some asperity.
Oh, well, it is the same thing, Sir William said.
The same thing? Miss Tarlton repeated, with the accent of
one who feels an immeasurable mental gulf between herself and her
As to results, I mean, he said. Arrived at this point Miss Tarlton
felt she need no longer listen, she simply noted with pitying tolerance
the random utterance. A camera costs very nearly as much to keep as a
horse, what with films and bottles of stuff, and all the other
accessories. And as for a bicycle, I am quite sure that you have to
count as much for mending it as you do for a horse's keep.
The really expensive thing, though, is a motor, said Wentworth.
Lots of men nowadays don't marry because they can't afford to keep a
wife as well as a motor.
Rendel, who was standing by Rachel's side at the tea-table, caught
this sentence. He looked up at her with a smile. She blushed.
I have no intention of keeping a motor, he said. Rachel said
Are you very angry with me? Rendel said.
I am not sure, she answered. I think I am.
You mustn't beafter saving my life, too, this morning, in the
Saving your life? said Rachel, surprised.
Yes, Rendel said. By not steering me into any of the things we
met on the Thames.
Oh! said Rachel, smiling, I am afraid even that was more your
doing than mine, as you kept calling out to me which string to pull.
Perhaps. But the extraordinary thing was that when you were told
you did pull it, said Rendel.
Oh, any one can do that, replied Rachel.
I beg your pardon, it is not so simple, Rendel answered, thinking
to himself, though he had the good sense at that moment not to
formulate it, what an adorable quality it would be in a wife that she
should always pull exactly the string she was told to pull.
I've been asking Sir William if I may come and speak to him.... he
said in a lower tone. He said I might. Rachel was silent. You don't
mind, do you? he said, looking at her anxiously.
IIdon't know, Rachel said. I feel as if I were not sure about
anythingyou have done it all so quicklyI can't realise
Yes, he said penitently, I have done it all very quickly, I know,
but I won't hurry you to give me any answer. My chief's going away
to-morrow for ten days, and I am afraid I must go too, but may I come
as soon as I am back again?
Yes, said Rachel shyly.
And perhaps by that time, he said, you will know the answer. Do
you think you will? Rachel looked at him as her hand lay in his.
Yes, by that time I shall know, she said.
As Rendel went out a few minutes later he was dimly conscious of
meeting an agitated little figure which hurried past him into the room.
Miss Judd was a lady who contrived to reduce as many of her
fellow-creatures to a state of mild exasperation during the day as any
female enthusiast in London, by her constant haste to overtake her
manifold duties towards the human race. Those duties were still further
complicated by the fact that she had a special gift for forgetting more
things in one afternoon than most people are capable of remembering in
My dear Jane, how do you do? said Lady Gore. We have not seen you
for an age.
No, Cousin Elinor, no, said Miss Judd, who always spoke in little
gasps as if she had run all the way from her last stopping-place. I
have been so frightfully busy. Oh, thank you, William, thank you; but
do you know, that tea looks dreadfully strong. In fact, I think I had
really better not have any. I wonder if I might have some hot water
instead? Thank you so much. Thank you, dear Rachelsimply water,
That doesn't sound a very reviving beverage, said Lady Gore.
Oh, but it is, I assure you, said Miss Judd. It is wonderful.
And, you see, I had tea for luncheon, and I don't like to have it too
Tea for luncheon? said Sir William.
Yes, at an Aërated Bread place, she replied, near Victoria. I
have been leaving the canvassing papers for the School Board election,
and I had not time to go home.
What it is to be such a pillar of the country! said Lady Gore
You may laugh, Cousin Elinor, Miss Judd said, drinking her hot
water in quick, hurried sips, but I assure you it is very hard work.
You see, whatever the question is that I am canvassing for, I always
feel bound to explain it to the voters at every place I go to, for fear
they should vote the wrong way: and sometimes that is very hard work.
At the last General Election, for instance, I lunched off buns and tea
for a fortnight.
Good Lord! said Sir William to Pateley as they stood a little
apart. Imagine public opinion being expounded by people who lunch off
And the awful thing, do you know, said Pateley laughing, is that
I believe those people do make a difference.
It is horrible to reflect upon, said Sir William.
By the way, said Pateley, with a laugh, your side is going in for
the sex too, I see. Is it true that you are going to have a Women's
Yes, said Sir William with an expression of disgust, I believe
that it is so. My womenkind are not going to have anything to do
with it, I am thankful to say.
Oh, yes, I saw about that Crusade, said Wentworth, joining them,
in the Torch.
Don't believe too firmly what the Torch saysor indeed any
newspaperha, ha! said Pateley.
I should be glad not to believe all that I see in the Arbiter, this morning, Sir William said. Upon my word, Pateley, that paper of
yours is becoming incendiary.
I don't know that we are being particularly incendiary, said
Pateley, with the comfortable air of one disposing of the subject. It
is only that the world is rather inflammable at this moment.
Well, we have had conflagrations enough at the present, said Sir
William. We want the country to quiet down a bit.
Oh! it will do that all in good time, said Pateley. I am bound to
say things are rather jumpy just now. By the way, Sir William, I wonder
if you know of any investment you could recommend?
Wentworth discreetly turned away and strolled back to Lady Gore's
I rather want to know of a good thing for my two sisters who are
living together at Lowbridge. I have got a modest sum to invest that my
father left them, and I should like to put it into something that is
pretty certain, but, if possible, that will give them more than 2-1/2
Why, said Sir William, I believe I may know of the very thing.
Only it is a dead secret as yet.
Hullo! said Pateley, pricking up his ears. That sounds promising.
For how long?
Just for the moment, said Sir William. But of necessity the whole
world must know of it before very long.
Well, if it really is a good thing let us have a day or two's
start, said Pateley laughing.
All right, you shall, said Sir William. You shall hear from me in
a day or two.
The days had passed. The great scheme of The Equator, Ltd., was
before the world, which had received it in a manner exceeding Fred
Anderson's most sanguine expectations. The possibilities and chances of
the mine, as set forth by the experts, appeared to be such as to rouse
the hopes of even the wary and experienced, and Anderson had no
difficulty of forming a Board of Directors most eminently calculated to
inspire confidence in the publicnone the less that they were presided
over by a man who, if not possessed of special business qualifications,
was of good social position and bore an honourable name. Sir William
Gore, the Chairman of the company, was well pleased. He invested
largely in the undertaking. The savings of the Miss Pateleys, under the
direction of their brother, had gone the same way. The Arbiter
had indeed reason to cheer on the Cape to Cairo railway, which day by
day seemed more likely of accomplishment.
Sir William, on the afternoon of the day when the success of the
company was absolutely an assured fact, came back to his house from the
city, satisfied with the prospects of the Equator, with himself, and
with the world at large. He put his latchkey into the door and looked
round him a moment before he went in with a sense of well-being, of
rejoicing in the summer day. Then as he stepped into the house he
became conscious that Rachel was standing in the hall waiting for him,
with an expression of dread anxiety on her face. The transition of
feeling was so sudden that for a moment he hardly realised what he
sawthen quick as lightning his thoughts flew to meet that one
misfortune that of all others would assail them both most cruelly.
Rachel! he said. Is your mother ill?
Yes, the girl answered. Oh, father, wait, she said, as Sir
William was rushing past her, and she tried to steady her quivering
lips. Dr. Morgan is there.
Morganyou sent for him.... said Gore, pausing, hardly knowing
what he was saying. Rachel... tell me...?
She fainted, the girl said, an hour ago. And we couldn't get her
round again. I sentah! there he is coming down. And a steady, slow
step, sounding to the two listeners like the footfall of Fate, was
heard coming down from above. Sir William went to meet the doctor,
knowing already what he was going to hear.
Lady Gore died that night, without regaining consciousness. Hers had
been the unspeakable privilege of leaving life swiftly and painlessly
without knowing that the moment had come. She had passed unconsciously
into that awful gulf, without having had to stand for a moment
shuddering on the brink. She had never dreaded death itself, but she
had dreaded intensely the thought of old age, of a lingering illness
and its attendant horrors. But none of these she had been called upon
to endure: even while those around her were looking at the beautiful
aspect of life that she presented to them the darkness fell, leaving
them the memory only of that bright image. Her daughter's last
recollection of her had been the caressing endearment with which Lady
Gore had deprecated Rachel's remaining with her till Sir William's
returnhow thankful the girl was to have remained!her husband's last
vision of her, the smiling farewell with which she had sped him on his
way in the morning, with a caution as to prudence in his undertakings.
As he came back he had found himself telling her already in his mind,
before he was actually in her presence, of what he had done. That was
the thing which gave an edge to every action, to each fresh development
of existence. Life was lived through again for her, and acquired a
fresh aspect from her interest and sympathy, from her keen, humorous
insight and far-seeing wisdom. But now, what would his life be without
that light that had always shone on his path? He did not, he could not,
begin to think about the future. He knew only that the present had
crumbled into ruins around him. That, he realised the next morning
when, after some snatches of uneasy sleep, he suddenly wakened with a
sense of absolute horror upon him, before he remembered shuddering what
that horror was. He had wanted to tell her about yesterday, about the
Equator, he said to himself with a dull aching pain almost like
resentmenthe wanted to have her approval, to have the sense that for
her what he did was right, was wise. But he knew now in his heart, as
he really had known all the time, that it was she who had been the wise
one. And part of the horror, as the time went on, would be to realise
that when she had gone out of the world something had gone out of
himself too, which she had told him was there. And he had dreamt that
it was true. But that would come when the details of misery were
realised by him one by one, as after some hideous explosion it is not
possible to see at once in the wreck made by the catastrophe all the
ghastly confirmations of disaster that come to light with the days. The
first days were not the worst, either for him or for Rachel, as each
one of them afterwards secretly found. For though life had come to a
standstill, had stopped dead, with a sudden shock that had thrown
everything in it out of gear, there were at first new and strange
duties to be accomplished that filled up the hours and kept the
standards of ordinary existence at bay. There were letters of
condolence to be answered, tributes of flowers to be acknowledged, sent
by well-meaning friends moved by some impotent impulse of consolation,
until the air became heavy with the scent of camellias and lilies.
Rachel moved about in the darkened rooms, feeling as if the faint,
sweet, overpowering perfume were a kind of anodyne, that was
mercifully, during those early days, lulling her senses into lethargy.
To the end of her days the scent of the white lily would bring back to
her the feeling of actually living again through that first time of
numbing grief. How many hours, how many days and nights she and her
father had lived within that quiet sanctuary they could not have
toldlived in the dark stillness, with one room, the stillest of all,
containing the beloved something strangely aloof all that was left of
the thing that had been their very life. Then out of that quiet
hallowed darkness they came one dreadful day into the brilliant
sunlight, a day that was lived through with the acutest pain of all, of
which every detail seemed to have been arranged by a horrible cruel
convention of custom in order to intensify the pangs of it. They drove
at a foot's pace through the crowded, sunlit streets, with a shrinking
agony of self-consciousness as one and another passer-by looked up for
a moment at what was passing. Look, Jim, 'ere's a funeral! one small
boy called to anotherand Rachel, shuddering, buried her face in her
hands and could have cried out aloud. Some men, not all, lifted their
hats; two gaily-dressed women who were just going to cross stopped as a
matter of course on the pavement and waited indifferently, hardly
seeing what it was, until the obstruction had gone by, as they would
have done had it been anything else. Rachel, leaning back by her
father, trying to hide herself, yet felt as if she could not help
seeing everything they met. Every step of the way was a slow torture.
And oh, the return home! that drive, at a brisk trot this time, through
the same crowded, unfeeling streets, which still retained the
association of the former progress through them, the sense that now, as
the coachman whipped up his horses, for every one save for the two
desolate people who sat silently together inside the carriage, life
mightindeed, wouldthrow off that aspect of gloom and go on as
before! And then the worst moment of all, the finding on their return
that the house had taken on a ghastly semblance of its usual aspect,
that the blinds were up, the windows open, the sun streaming in
everywherethe hard, cruel light, as it seemed to Rachel, shining into
the rooms that were for evermore to be different.
Then followed the time which is incomparably the worst after a great
loss, the time when, ordinary life being taken up again, the sufferer
has the additional trial of too large an amount of leisure on his
handsthe horror of all those new spare hours that used to be passed
in a companionship that is gone, that must be filled up with something
fresh unless they are to stand in wide, horrible emptiness, to assail
recollection with unendurable grief. And especially in that house were
they empty, where the existence of both father and daughter had
revolved round that of another to a greater extent than that of most
people. The problem of how to readjust the daily conditions was a hard,
hard one to solve, harder obviously for Sir William than it was for
Rachel. The girl was uplifted in those days by the sense that, however
difficult she might find it to carry out in detail, the general scheme
of her life lay clear before her. She was going to devote it to her
father, she was going to carry out that unmade promise, which she now
considered more binding on her than ever, although her mother had
warned her against making it, the promise that her father should come
first. But the warning at the moment it was made had not been accepted
by Rachel, and in the exaltation of her self-sacrifice it was forgotten
now. She saw her way, as she conceived, plainly in front of her.
Rendel, with his usual understanding and wisdom, did not obtrude
himself on her during those days. He had quite made up his mind not to
ask for her decision until there might be some hope of its being made
in his favour. He had felt Lady Gore's death as acutely as though he
had the right of kinship to grieve for her. He was miserably conscious
that something inestimably precious had gone out of his life, almost
before he had had time to realise his happiness in possessing it. But
neither he nor Rachel understood what Lady Gore's death had meant to
Sir William. And the poor little Rachel, rudderless, bewildered, tried
to do the best she could for her father's life by planning her own with
absolute reference to it, by putting at his disposal all the bare,
empty hours available for companionship which up to now had been so
straitly, so tenderly, so happily filled. And he on his side, conscious
of some of her purpose, but unaware of the extent to which she carried
her deliberate intention of consecrating herself to him, of bearing the
burden of his destiny, believed that he had to bear the overwhelming
burthen of guiding hers. Instead of going in the late afternoon hours
of those summer days to his club, where he would have found some
companionship that was not associated with his grief, and passing an
hour agreeably, he wistfully went home, feeling that Rachel would be
expecting him. And Rachel on her side felt it a duty to put away any
regular occupation that might have proved engrossing, and so to ordain
her life that she should be always ready and at her father's orders if
he should appear. And, thus deliberately cutting themselves loose from
such minor anchorages as they might have had, they tried to delude
themselves into the belief that not only was such makeshift
companionship a solace, but that it actually was able to replace that
other all-satisfying companionship they had lost. But they knew in
their hearts, each of them, that it was not so. And Sir William
realised, more perhaps than Rachel did, that it never could be. The
relation between a father and daughter, when most successful, is formed
of delightful discrepancies and differences, supplementing one another
in the things that are not of each age. It means a protecting care on
the side of the father, an amused tender pride in seeing the younger
creature developing an individuality which, however, is hardly in the
secret soul of the elder one quite realised or believed in. The
experience of the man in such a relation has mainly been derived from
women of his own standing; his judgment of his daughter is apt to be a
good deal guesswork. The daughter, on the other hand, brings to the
relation elements necessarily and absolutely absent on the other side.
If she cares for her father as he does for her, she looks up to him,
she admires him, she accepts from him numberless prejudices and rules
about the government of life, and acts upon them, taking for granted
all the time that he cannot understand her own point of view. And yet,
even so constituted, it can be one of the most beautiful and even
satisfying combinations of affection the world has to show, provided
the father has not known what it is to have the fulness of joy in his
companionship with his wife, in that equal experience, mutual reliance,
understanding of hopes and fears, which is impossible when the
understanding is being interpreted through the imagination only, by one
standing on a different plane of life. Neither Rachel nor her father
had realised all this; but the mother with her acuter sensibilities had
known, and had so deliberately set herself to fulfil her task that they
had all these years been interpreted to one another, as it were, by
that other influence that had surrounded them, that atmosphere through
which everything was seen aright and in its most beautiful aspect. And
the time came when Sir William suddenly grasped with a burning,
startling vividness the fact that his life could not be the same again,
that he must henceforth take it on a lower plane. The day was fine and
brighttoo warm, too bright; the hopeful light of spring had given
place to the steady glare of summer. He had been used before to go out
riding with Rachel in the early morning, in order to be back by the
time Lady Gore was ready to begin her day. They had tacitly abandoned
this habit now. Then one day it occurred to Sir William that it might
be a good thing for Rachel to resume it. He proposed to her that they
should go out as they used. She, in her inmost heart shrinking from it,
but thinking it would be a satisfaction to him, agreed. He, shrinking
from it as much as she did, thought to please her. And so they went out
and rode silently side by side, overpowered by mute comparison of this
day with days that had been. And when they got home they went each
their own way, and made no attempt at exchanging words. Sir William
went miserably to his study, his heart aching with a rush of almost
unbearable sorrow as he thought of the bright little room upstairs to
which he had been wont to hurry for the welcome that always awaited
him. What should he do with his life? How should he fill it? he asked
himself in a burst of grief, as he shut himself in. And so much had the
theory, firmly believed in by himself and his wife, that he had by his
own free will, and in order to devote his life to her, abandoned any
quest of a public career become an absolute conviction in his mind,
that he felt a dull resentment at having been so noble. He recognised
now that it had been quixotic. He had let the time pass. Fifty-five! To
be sure, in these days it is not old age; it may, indeed, under certain
circumstances be the prime of life, for a man who has begun his career
early, political or otherwise. Had this been Sir William's lot he could
have sought some consolation, or at any rate alleviation, in his
misfortune, by turning at once to his work and plunging into it more
strenuously than before. But even that mitigation, for so much as it
might be worth, was denied to him. And he sat there, trying to face the
fact that seemed almost incredible to a man of what seemed to him his
aptitudes and capacity, the awful fact that he had not enough to do to
fill up his life. He did not state this pitiless truth to himself
explicitly, but it was beginning to loom from behind a veil, and he
would some day be forced to look at it. He could not start anything
fresh. He had not the requisite impulse. He could have continued, he
could not begin; the theatre of his actions, as Lady Gore had foreseen,
had indeed fallen when she fell, and without it he could initiate no
fresh achievements. Oh, to have had something definite to turn to in
those days, something that called for instant completion! To have had
some inexorable daily task, some duty for which he was paid, in a
government office, or in some private undertaking of his own, for which
he would have been obliged, like so many other men, to leave his house
at a fixed hour, and to be absorbed in other preoccupations till his
return. What a physical, material relief he would have found in such a
claim! Round most men of his age life has woven many interests, many
ties, many calls, on their time and energies from outside as well as
from those near to them, but all those spare, available energies of his
had been absorbed and appropriated, filled up, nearer home, and so
completely that he had never needed anything else. And now, whither
should he turn? What should he do? Then he remembered his Book, the
Book his wife and he had been accustomed to talk of with such
confidence, such certaintyhe now realised how very little there was
of it done, or how much of what might be fruitful in the conception was
owing to the way that she, in their talking over it, had held it up to
him, so that now one light played round it, now another. Well he
remembered how, only two days before she was taken ill, they had talked
of it for a long time until she, with an enthusiasm that made it seem
already a completed masterpiece, had said with a smile, Now then, all
that remains is to write it! And he had almost believed, as he left
her, that it would spring into life some day, that it would not only
hold the place in his life of the Great Possibility that is necessary
to us all, but that he would actually put his fate to the proof by
carrying it into execution. He took out the portfolio in which were the
notes he had made about it now and again. They bore the seared outward
aspect of an entirely different mental condition from that with which
they came in contact now. What is that subtle, mocking change that
comes over even the inanimate things that we have not seen since we
were happy, and now meet again in grief? It is like a horrible
inversion of the golden touch given to Midas. To Gore, during those
days, the darkness fell upon every fresh thing to which he went back.
The impression was so strong on him as he turned over the manuscript,
that he shuddered. What was the use of all this? What was it worth? He
knew in his heart that the person of all others to whom it had been of
most worth was gonehe would not be doing good to himself or to any
one else by going on with it. He would be defrauding no one by letting
the darkness cover it for ever. And another reason yet lay like cold
lead at the bottom of his heartthe real, cruel, crushing reasonhe
could not write the book, he was not capable of writing it. That was
the truth. And he desperately thrust the stray leaves into the cover,
and the whole thing away from him, hopelessly, finally; there was
nothing that would help him. That curtain would never lift again. And
he covered his face with his hands as though trying to shut out the
But of all this Rachel, as she sat waiting for her father at
breakfast, was utterly unconscious. She did not realise the unendurable
complications that had piled one misery on another to him. To her the
wound had been terrible, but clean. The greatest loss she could
conceive had stricken her life, but there were no secondary personal
problems to add to it, no preoccupations of self apart from the one
Sir William turned over his letters listlessly as he sat down,
opened them, and looked through them.
What am I to say to that? he said, throwing one over to Rachel.
The colour came into her cheeks as she saw that it was from Rendel.
I have one from him too, she said.
Oh! well, I don't ask to see that, Sir William said, with an
attempt at cheerfulness. I know better.
I would rather you saw it, really, father, and she handed him
Rendel's letter to herselfa straightforward, dignified, considerate
letter, in which he assured her that he did not mean to intrude himself
upon her until she allowed him to come, and that all he asked was that
she should understand that he was waiting, and would be content to
wait, as long as there was a chance of hope.
Well, when am I to tell him to come? Sir William said.
Father, what he wants cannot be, Rachel said.
Cannot be? said Sir William. Why not?
Oh! Rachel said, trying to command her voice, I could not at this
moment think of anything of that kind.
At this moment, perhaps, Sir William said. But you see he is not
in a hurry. He says so, at any rate, though I am not sure that it is
How would it be possible, said Rachel, that I should go away?
What would you do if I left you alone?
Well, as to that, Sir William replied, speaking slowly in order
that he might appear to be speaking calmly, I don't know, in any case,
what I shall do. And his face looked grey and worn, conveying to
Rachel, as she looked across at him, an impression of helpless old age
in the father who had hitherto been to her a type of everything that
was capable and well preserved. She sprang up and went to him.
Father, dear father, she cried amidst her sobs, as she hid her
face on his shoulder. You know that you are more to me than any one
else in the world. Let me help youlet me try, do let me try. And at
the sound of the words Gore became again conscious of the immeasurable,
dark gulf there was between what one human being had been able to do
for him and what any other in the world could try to do. And his own
sorrow rose darkly before him and swept away everything elseeven the
sorrow of his child. It was almost bitterly that he said, as if the
words were wrung from him involuntarily
Nobody can help me now.
Oh, father! Rachel cried again miserably. Let me try.
Darling, I know, he said, recollecting himself at the sight of her
distress, and you know what my little girl is to me; but there are
some things that even a daughter cannot do. And, he went on, it would
really be a comfort to me, I think, ifhe was going to say, if you
were married, but he altered it as he saw a swift change pass over
Rachel's faceif I knew you were happy; if you had a home of your own
and were provided for.
Do you think that would be a comfort to you? asked Rachel, trying
to speak in an almost indifferent tone. That you would be glad if I
were to go away from you to a home of my own?
Yes, he said, I think it would. And as he spoke he felt that the
burden of giving Rachel companionship and trying to help her to bear
her grief would be removed from him. Besides, he went on, with an
attempt at a smile, it is not as if you would go far away from me
altogether; you will only be a few streets off, after all. I could come
to you whenever I wanted, and evenwho knows?I might sometimes ask
you for your hospitality.
If I thought that Rachel said, and caught herself up.
You know, her father said more seriously, we have been discussing
this from one point of view only, from mine; but you are the person
most concerned, and I am taking for granted that, from your point of
view, it would be the best thing to dothat you would be happy.
If I only thought, Rachel said, her face answering his last
question, if her words did not, that you would come to methat you
would be with me altogether
I have no doubt that you would find that I came to you very often,
said Sir William, with again a desolate sense of having no definite
reason for being anywhere.
There was a pause before he said, Then I'll tell him to come and
see me, and perhaps he can see you afterwards.
Oh, said Rachel, shrinking, it is not possible yet.
Well, said Sir William, I will tell him so. We will explain to
him that, since he is willing to wait, for the moment he must wait.
And Rendel waitedthrough the autumn, through the winterbut not
without seeing Rachel again. On the contrary, every week that passed
during that time was bringing him nearer to his goal. After the first
visit was over, that first meeting under the now maimed and altered
conditions of life, the insensible relief afforded to both father and
daughter by his companionship, his unselfish devotion and helpfulness,
his unfailing readiness to be a companion to Sir William, to come and
play chess with him, or to sit up and do intricate patiences through
the small hours of the morning, all this gradually made him insensibly
slide into the position of a son of the house. And Rachel, convinced
that she was doing the best thing for her father and admitting in her
secret heart that for herself she was doing the thing that of all
others would make her happy, yielded at last. They were married in
April, and went away for a fortnight to a shooting-box lent them by
Lord Stamfordham in the West of Scotland, leaving Sir William for the
first time alone in the big, empty house. It was with many, many
misgivings that Rachel had agreed to go; but her father had insisted on
her doing so. He had vaguely thought that perhaps it would be a relief
to him to be alone, but he found the solitude unbearable. Those
acquaintances of Gore's who saw him at the club expressed in suitably
tempered tones their pleasure at seeing him again, and, thinking he
would rather be left alone, discreetly refrained from thrusting their
society upon him when in reality he most needed it, remarking to one
another that poor old Gore had gone to pieces dreadfully since his wife
died. A great many people knew him, and liked him well enough, but he
had no intimate friends. Pateley occasionally dropped in; but Pateley
was too full of business to have leisure to help to fill up anybody
else's time, and Sir William found the blank in his own house, the
unchanging loneliness, almost unbearable.
In the meantime Rendel and his wife were beginning that page of the
book of life which Sir William had closed for ever. At last, that
vision of the future to which Rendel had clung with such steadfast
hope, with such unswerving purpose, had been fulfilled: Rachel was his
wife. It was an unending joy to him to remember that she was there; to
watch for her coming and going; to see the dainty grace of movement and
demeanour, the sweet, soft smileher mother's smilewith which she
listened as he talked. And during those days he poured himself out in
speech as he had never been able to do before. It was a relief that was
almost ecstasy to the man who had been made reserved by loneliness to
have such a listener, and the sense of exquisite joy and repose which
he felt in her society deepened as the days went on. To Rachel, too,
when once she had made up her mind to leave her father, these days were
filled with an undreamt-of happiness. She was beginning to recover from
the actual shock of her mother's death, although, even as her life
opened to all the new impressions that surrounded her, she felt daily
afresh the want of the tender sympathy and guidance that had been her
stay; but another great love had happily come into her life at the
moment she needed it most, and a love that was far from wishing to
supplant the other. The memory of Lady Gore was almost as hallowed to
Rendel as it was to his wife: it was another bond between them. They
talked of her constantly, their reverent recollection kept alive the
sense of her abiding, gracious influence.
It was a new and wonderful experience to Rachel to have the burden
of daily life lifted from her. She had been loved in her home, it is
true, as much as the most exacting heart might demand, but since she
was seventeen it was she who had had to take thought for others, to
surround them with loving care and protection; she had always been
conscious, even though not feeling its weight, of bearing the burden of
some one else's responsibilities. And now it was all different. In the
first rebound of her youth she seemed to be discovering for the first
time during those days how young she was, in the companionship of one
whose tender care and loving protection smoothed every difficulty,
every obstacle out of her path. And all too fast the perfumed days of
spring glided away, a spring which, on that side of Scotland, was balmy
and caressing. Day after day the sun shone, the mist remained in the
distance, making that distance more beautiful still; and everything
within and without was irradiated, and like motes in the sunshine
Rendel saw the golden possibilities of his life dancing in the light of
his hopes and illuminating the path that lay before him.
Rachel wrote to her father constantly, tenderly, solicitously; and
Sir William, reading of her happiness, did not write back to tell her
what those same days meant to him. For in London the sky was grey and
heavy, and it was through a haze the colour of lead that he saw the
years to come. The dark and cheerless winter had given place to a cold
and cheerless spring.
It was a rainy afternoon that the young couple returned to London;
but the gloomy look of the streets outside did but enhance the
brightness of the little house in Cosmo Place, Knightsbridge, with its
open, square hall, in which a bright fire was blazing. Light and warmth
shone everywhere. Rachel drew a long breath of satisfaction, then her
eyes filled with tears. The very sight of London brought back the past.
Could it be possible that her mother was not there to welcome her? She
had thought her father might be awaiting her at Cosmo Place; but as he
was not, she went off instantly to Prince's Gate. How big and lonely
the house looked with its gaunt, ugly portico, its tall, narrow hall
and endless stairs! The drawing-rooms were closed: Sir William was
sitting in his study, a chess-board in front of him, on which he was
working out a problem.
Rachel was terribly perturbed at the change in his appearancea
something, she did not quite know in what it lay, that betokened some
absolute change of outlook, of attitude. He had the listless,
indifferent air of one who lets himself be drifted here and there
rather than of one who moves securely along, strong enough to hold his
own way in spite of any opposing elements. This fortnight of solitude,
in which he had been face to face with his own life and his prospects,
had suddenly, roughly, pitilessly graven on his face the lines that
with other men successive experiences accumulate there gently and
almost insensibly. He had taken a sudden leap into old age, as
sometimes happens to men of his standing, who, as long as their life is
smooth, uneventful, and prosperous, succeed in keeping an aspect of
youth. Rachel's heart smote her at having left him; it reproached her
with having known something like happiness in these days, and her old
sense of troubled, anxious responsibility came back. She begged him to
come and dine with them that evening. He demurred at first at making a
third on their first night in their own house. Rachel protested, and
overruled all his objections. She arrived at home just in time to dress
for dinner, finding her husband surprised and somewhat discomfited at
her prolonged absence. He had wanted to go proudly all over the house
with her, and see their new domain. But as he saw her come up the
stairs, he realised that black care had sprung up behind her again,
that this was not the confiding, naïvely happy Rachel who had walked
with him on the moors.
There you are! he said. I was just wondering what had become of
I was with my father, Rachel said, in a tone in which there was a
tinge of unconscious surprise at what his tone had conveyed. And,
Francis, he looks so dreadfully ill!
Does he? said Rendel, concerned. I am sorry.
He looks really broken down, she said, and oh, so much older. I
am sure it has been bad for him being alone all this time. I ought not
to have stayed away so long.
Well, it has not been very long, said Rendel with a natural
feeling that two weeks had not been an unreasonable extension of their
He looks as if he had felt it so, she answered. But at any rate,
I have persuaded him to come to dinner with us to-night; I am sure it
will be good for him.
To-night? said Rendel, again with a lurking surprise that for this
first night their privacy should not have been respected.
Yes, said Rachel. You don't mind, do you?
Oh, of course not, he replied, again stifling a misgiving.
You see, said Rachel, I thought it might amuse him, and be a
change for him, and then you might play a game of chess with him after
Of course, of course, Rendel answered. But the misgiving remained.
When, however, Sir William appeared, Rendel's heart almost smote him
as Rachel's had done, he seemed so curiously broken down and
dispirited. They talked of their Scotch experiences, they spoke a
little of the affairs of the day, but, as Rendel knew of old, this was
a dangerous topic, which, hitherto, he had succeeded either in avoiding
altogether or in treating with a studied moderation which might so far
as possible prevent Sir William's susceptibilities from being offended.
Rachel sat with them after dinner while they smoked, then they all went
Now then, father dear, where would you like to be? she said,
looking round the room for the most comfortable chair. Here, this
looks a very special corner, and she drew forward an armchair that
certainly was in a most delightful place, looking as if it were
destined for the master of the house, or, at any rate, the most
privileged person in it, a comfortable armchair, with the slanting back
that a man loves, and by it a table with a lamp at exactly the right
height. There, she said, pushing her father gently into it, isn't
that a comfortable corner?
Very, Sir William said, looking up at her with a smile. It truly
was a delight to be tended and fussed over again.
And now you must have a table in front of you, she said, looking
round. Let me seeFrank, which shall the chess-table be? Is there a
folding table? Yes, of course there isthat little one that we bought
at Guildford. That one!and she clapped her hands with childish
delight as she pointed to it.
Rendel brought forward the little table and opened it.
Oh, that is exactly the thing, she cried. See, father, it will
just hold the chess-board. Now then, this is where it shall always
standyour own table, and your own chair by it.
It is difficult to judge of any course of conduct entirely on its
own merits, when it has a reflex action on ourselves. When Rendel
before his marriage used to go to Prince's Gate and to see Rachel,
absolutely oblivious of herself, hovering tenderly round her mother,
watching to see that her father's wishes were fulfilled, that unselfish
devotion and absorption in filial duty seemed to him the most entirely
beautiful thing on this earth. But when, instead of being the spectator
of the situation, he became an active participator in it, when the
stream of Rachel's filial devotion was diverted from that of her
conjugal duties, it unconsciously assumed another aspect in his eyes.
But not for worlds would he have put into words the annoyance he could
not help feeling, and Rachel was entirely unconscious of his attitude.
The devoted, uncritical affection for her father which had grown up
with her life was in her mind so absolutely taken for granted as one of
the foundations of existence, that it did not even occur to her that
Rendel might possibly not look at it in the same light. She took for
granted that he would share her attitude towards her father as he had
shared her adoration for her mother. It was all part of her entire
trust in Rendel, and the simple directness with which she approached
the problems of life. She had, before her marriage, expressed an
earnest wish, which Rendel understood as a condition, that even if her
father did not wish to live with them, she might share in his life and
watch over him, and Rendel had accepted the condition and promised that
it should be as she wished. But it is obviously not the actual making
of a promise that is the difficulty. If it were possible when we pledge
ourselves to a given course for our imagination to show us in a vision
of the future the innumerable occasions on which we should be called
upon to redeem, each time by a conscious separate effort, that lightly
given pledge of an instant, the stoutest-hearted of us would quail at
the prospect. Rendel looked back with a sigh to those days, that seemed
already to have receded into a luminous distance, when Rachel, alone
with him in Scotland, with no divided allegiance, had given herself up,
heart and mind, to the new happiness, the new existence, that was
opening before her.
The danger of pouring life while it is still fluid into the wrong
mould, of letting it drift and harden into the wrong shape, is an
insidious peril which is not sufficiently guarded against. It is easy
enough to say, Begin as you mean to go on; but the difficulty is to
know exactly the moment when you begin, and when the point of going on
has been arrived at; and of drifting gradually into some irremediable
course of action from which it is almost impossible to turn back
without difficulty and struggle. There had been a feeling that
everything was somehow temporary during those first days at Cosmo
Place, which extended into the weeks. Sir William held as a principle,
and was quite genuine in his intention when he said it, that young
people ought to be left to themselves. He would not, therefore, take up
his abode under their roof, but still that he should do so eventually
was felt by all concerned as a vague possibility which prevented in the
young household a sense of having finally and comfortably settled down.
Indeed, as it was, it was perhaps more unsettling to Rachel, and
therefore to her husband, to have Sir William coming and going than it
would have been to have him actually under the same roof. If he had
been living with them his presence would have been a matter of course,
and less constant companionship and diversion would probably have been
considered necessary for him than they were when he dropped in at odd
times. The advancing season and the grey dark mornings made the early
rides impossible. Rachel in her secret soul did not regret them. Sir
William had taken the habit of looking in at Cosmo Place on his way to
Pall Mall and further eastward, and it always gave Rachel a pang of
remorse if she found that by an unlucky chance she had been out of the
way when he came. He would also sometimes come in on his way back, as
has been said, in the obvious expectation of having a game of chess, of
which Rendel, if he were at home, had not the heart to disappoint him.
In these days there was not much occupation for him in the City. The
excitement of starting and floating the Equator Company and the
allotting of the shares to the eager band of subscribers had been
accomplished some time since. The Equator's hour, however, had not
come yet. The outlook in the City was not encouraging for those who
knew how to read the weather chart of the coming days. The heart of the
country was still beating fast and tumultuously after the emotions of
the past two years; it needed a period of assured quiet to regain its
normal condition. In the meantime the storm seemed to be subsiding. The
great railway laying its iron grip on the heart of Africa was advancing
steadily from the north as well as from the south: it was nearing the
Equator. The country, its imagination profoundly stirred by the
enterprise, watched it in suspense. But until the meeting of the two
giant highways was effected, everything depended upon an equable
balance of forces, of which a touch might destroy the equilibrium.
German possessions and German forces lay perilously near the meeting of
the two lines. At any moment a spark from some other part of the world
might be wafted to Africa and set the fierce flame of war ablaze in the
centre of the continent.
The General Election was coming within measurable distance; the
Liberal Peace Crusade was strenuously canvassing the country in favour
of coming to a definite understanding with certain foreign powers.
At the house in Cosmo Place it was no longer always possible, as on
that first evening, to avoid the subject of politics.
I must say, said Rendel one night with enthusiasmStamfordham had
made a big speech the day before of which the papers were
fullStamfordham is a great speaker, and a great man to boot.
A great speaker, perhaps, Sir William said. I don't know that
that is entirely what you want from the man at the helm.
Well, proverbially it isn't, said Rendel, with a smile, determined
to be good-humoured.
As to being a great man, continued Sir William, anybody who
knocks down everything that comes in his way and stands upon it looks
Even admitting that, said Rendel, it seems to me that the
determination and courage necessary to knock down what is in your way,
when it can't be got out by any other method, is part of what makes a
You speak, said Sir William, as if he were a savage potentate.
In some respects, said Rendel, the savage potentate and civilised
ruler are inevitably alike. The ultimate ground, the ultimate arbiter
of their empire, is force.
Empire! said Sir William. That is the cry! In your greed for
empire you lose sight of everything but the aggrandisement of a
dominion already so immense as to be unwieldy.
Still, said Rendel, as we have this big thing in our hands, it is
better to keep it there than let it drop and break to pieces.
I don't wish to let it drop, said Gore. I wish to be content to
increase it by friendly intercourse with the world, by the arts of
peace and civilisation, and not by destruction and bloodshed.
I am afraid, said Rendel, that the savage, which, as you say too
truly, still lurks in the majority of civilised beings, will not be
content to see the world governed on those amiable lines.
There I must beg leave to differ from you, said Sir William, I
believe that the majority of civilised human beings will, when it has
been put before them, be on the side of peace.
We shall see, Rendel said, with a smile which was perhaps not as
conciliatory as he intended it to be.
Yes, you will see when the General Election comes, said Gore. And
if it goes for us, and we have a Cabinet composed of men who are not
the mere puppets in the hands of an autocrat, the destinies of the
world will be altered.
Father, said Rachel, do you really think that is how the General
Election will go?
Quite possibly, Gore said, with decision. Rendel said nothing.
Oh, father! said Rachel. I wish that you were in Parliament!
Suppose you were in the Government!
Ah, well, my life as you know, was otherwise filled up, said Sir
William, with a sigh; but in that case the Imperialists perhaps might
not have found everything such plain sailing. And so much had he
penetrated himself with the conviction of what he was saying, that he
felt himself, as he sat there opposite Rendel, whose wisdom and
sagacity in reality so far exceeded his own, to be in the position of
the older, wiser man of great influence and many opportunities
condescending to explain his own career to an obscure novice.
Rendel looked across at Rachel sitting opposite to him, listening to
what her father said with her customary air of sweet and gentle
deference, and then smiling at himself; and again he inwardly vowed
that, for her sake, he would endure the daily pinpricks that are almost
as difficult to bear in the end as one good sword-thrust.
I must say it will be interesting to see who goes out as Governor
of British Zambesiland, he said presently, looking up from the paper.
That will be a big job if you like.
Let's hope they will find a big man to do it, said Sir William.
I heard to-day, said Rendel, that it would probably be Belmont.
Well, he'll be a firebrand Governor after Stamfordham's own heart,
said Gore. It's absurd sending all these young men out to these
That is rather Stamfordham's theory, said Rendelto have
youngish men, I mean.
If he would confine himself to theories, said Sir William, it
would be better for England at this moment.
It might, however, interfere with his practical use as a Foreign
Secretary, Rendel was about to say, but he checked the words on his
After dinner that evening he remained downstairs under pretext of
writing some letters, while Rachel proposed to her father to give her a
lesson in chess.
Rendel turned on the electric light in his study, shut the door,
stood in front of the fire and looked round him with a delightful sense
of possession, of privacy, of well-being. His new houseindeed, one
might almost have said his new lifewas still so recent a possession
as to have lost none of its preciousness. He still felt a childish joy
in all its details. The house was one of those built within the last
decade which seem to have made a struggle to escape the uniformity of
the older streets. The front door opened into a square hall, from the
left side of which opened the dining-room, from the right the study,
both of these rooms having bow windows, built with that broad sweep of
curve which makes for beauty instead of vulgarity. The house, Rendel
had told his wife with a smile when they came to it, he had furnished
for her, with the exception of one room in it; the study he had
arranged for himself. And it certainly was a room in which, to judge by
appearances, a worker need never be stopped in his work by the paltry
need of any necessary tool. Rendel was a man of almost exaggerated
precision and order. Everything lay ready to his hand in the place
where he expected to find it. A glance at his well-appointed
writing-table gave evidence of it. The back wall of the study, opposite
the window, was lined with books. On the wall over the fireplace hung a
large map of Africa. Rendel looked intently at it as he thought of the
stirring pages of history that were in the making on that huge,
misshapen continent, of the field that it was going to be for the
statesmen and administrators of the future: he thought of Lord Belmont,
only two years older than himself, with whom he had been at Eton and at
Oxford, and wondered what it felt like to be in his place and have the
ball at one's feet. For Rendel in his heart was burning with ambition
of no ignoble kind. He was burning to do, to act, and not to watch
only; to take his part in shaping the destinies of his fellow-men, to
help the world into what he believed to be the right path; and he would
do it yet. In his mind that evening, as he stood upright, intent,
looking on into the future, there was not the shadow of a doubt that he
would carry out his purpose. He had come downstairs smarting under the
impression of Sir William's last words when they were discussing the
new Governor. Then he recovered, and reminded himself of the obvious
truism that the man occupied with politics must school himself to have
his opinions contradicted by his opponents, and must make up his mind
that there are as many people opposed to his way of thinking in the
world as agreeing with it. But it is one thing to engage in a free
fight in the open field, and another to keep parrying the petty blows
dealt by a persecuting antagonist. Day by day, hour by hour, as the
time went on, Rendel had to make a conscious effort to keep to the line
he had traced out for himself; he had to tighten his resolution, to
readjust his burden. The yoke of even a beloved companionship may be
willingly borne, but it is a yoke and a restraint for all that. But
Rendel would not have forgotten it. He accepted the lot he had chosen,
unspeakably grateful to Rachel for having bestowed such happiness on
him, ready and determined to fulfil his part of the compact, to carry
out, even at the cost of a daily and hourly sacrifice, the bargain he
had made. And, after all, as long as he made up his mind that it did
not signify, he could well afford, in the great happiness that had
fallen to his lot, to disregard the minor annoyances. His life, his
standards, should be arranged on a scale that would enable him to
disregard them. If one is only moving along swiftly enough, one has
impetus to glide over minor impediments without being stopped or turned
aside by them. For Rachel's sake all would be possible, it would be
almost easy. At any rate, it should be done. Rendel's will felt braced
and strengthened by his resolve, and he knew that he would be master of
his fate. There are certain moments in our lives when we stop at a
turning, it may be, to take stock of our situation, when we look back
along the road we have comehow interminable it seemed as we began
it!and look along the one we are going to travel, prepared to start
onward again with a fresh impulse of purpose and energy. That night, as
Rendel looked on into the future, he felt like the knight who, lance in
rest but ready to his hand, rides out into the world ready to embrace
the opportunity that shall come to him.
The opportunity that came that night was ushered in somewhat
prosaically, not by the sound of a foeman's horn being wound in the
distance, but by the postman's knock. There was only one letter, but
that was an important looking one addressed to Rendel, in a big, square
envelope with an official signature in the corner. It was, however,
marked private and confidential, and was not written in an official
capacity. Rendel as he looked at it, saw that the signature was
Belmont. In an instant as he unfolded the page his hopes leapt to
meet the words he would find there. Yes, Lord Belmont was going to be
Governor of Zambesiland; that was the beginning. And what was this that
followed? He asked Rendel whether, if offered the post of Governor's
Secretary, practically the second in command, he would accept it and go
out to Africa with him. The offer, which meant a five years'
appointment, was flatteringly worded, with a mention of Lord
Stamfordham's strong recommendation which had prompted it, and wound up
with an earnestly expressed hope that Rendel would not at any rate
refuse without having deeply considered it. Belmont, however, asked for
a reply as soon as was consistent with the serious reflection necessary
before taking the step. Rendel looked at the clock. It was half-past
nine. He need not write by post that night, he would send round the
first thing in the morning. That would do as well. At this particular
moment he need do nothing but look the thing in the face. Serious
consideration it should have, undoubtedly, though that was not needed
in order to come to a decision. He was not afraid of gazing at this new
possibility that had just swum into his ken. The moment that comes to
those who are going to achieve, when the door in the wall, showing that
glorious vista beyond, suddenly opens to them, is fraught with an
excited joy which partakes at once of anticipation and of fulfilment,
and is probably never surpassed when in the fulness of time the
opportunities come even too fast on each other's heels, and it has
become a foregone conclusion to take advantage of them. There is no
moment of outlook that has the charm of that first gaze from afar, when
the deep blue distances cloak what is lovely and unlovely alike and
merge them all into one harmonious and inviting mystery. Rendel was in
no hurry for that curtain of mysterious distance to lift: possibility
and success lay behind it. He relished with an exquisite pleasure the
sense of having a dream fulfilled. The crucial moment that comes to
nearly all of us of having to compare the place that others assign to
us in life with that which we imagined we were entitled to occupy, is
to some fraught with the bitterest disappointment. The sense of having
cleared successfully that great gulf which lies between one's own
appreciation of oneself and that of other people is one of rapture.
Rendel had been so short a time married, and had had so few
opportunities during that time of being called upon for any decision,
that it was an entirely new sensation to him to remember suddenly that
this was a thing which concerned somebody else as well as it did
himself. But the thought was nothing but sweet; it meant that there was
somebody now by his side, there always would be, to care for the things
that happened to him; and Rachel, too, would be borne up on the wave of
excitement and rejoicing that was shaking Rendel, to his own surprise,
so strangely out of his usual reserved composure. He sat down
mechanically at his writing-table and drew a sheet of writing-paper
idly towards him, wondering how he should formulate his reply. To his
great surprise and somewhat shamefaced amusement, he found that his
hand was shaking so that he could not control the pen. He would go up
before writing and tell Rachel. Then, as he went upstairs, he was
conscious of a secret annoyance that a third person should just at this
moment be between them.
A profound silence reigned as he opened the drawing-room door.
Rachel and her father were poring intently over the chess-board. Rachel
looked up eagerly as her husband came in.
Oh, Francis, she said, I am so glad. Do come and tell me what to
Yes, I wish you would, Sir William said, with some impatience.
Look what she is doing with her queen.
Is that a letter you want to show me? said Rachel, looking at the
envelope in Rendel's hand.
All right. It will keep, he said quietly, putting it back in his
Sir William kept his eyes intently fixed upon the board. He would
not countenance any diversion of fixed and rigid attention from the
game in hand.
That is what I should do, said Rendel, moving one of Rachel's
pawns on to the back line.
Oh! how splendid! said Rachel. I believe I have a chance after
Sir William gave a grunt of satisfaction. That's more like it, he
said. If you had come up a little sooner we might have had a decent
Rendel made no comment. The game ended in the most auspicious way
possible. Rachel, backed by Rendel's advice, showed fight a little
longer and left the victory to Sir William in the end after a desperate
struggle. The hour of departure came. Rachel and her husband both went
downstairs with Sir William. They opened the door. It was a bright,
starlight night. Sir William announced his intention of walking to a
cab, and with his coat buttoned up against the east wind, started off
along the pavement. Rachel turned back into the house with a sigh as
she saw him go.
He is getting to look much older, isn't he? she said. Poor dear,
it is hard on him to have to turn out at this time of night.
Rendel vaguely heard and barely took in the meaning of what she was
saying. His one idea was that now he would be able to tell her his
Come in here, he said, drawing her into the study. I want to tell
you something. And he made her sit down in his own comfortable chair.
I have had a letter this evening, he said.
Have you? said Rachel, looking up at him in surprise at the
unusual note of joyousness, almost of exultation, in his tone. What is
You shall read it, he said, giving it to her. Her colour rose as
she read on.
Oh, what an opportunity! she said, and a tinge of regret crept
strangely into her voice. What a pity!
A pity? said Rendel, looking at her.
Yes, she said. It would have been so delightful.
Would have been? said Rendel, still amazed. Why don't you say
'will be'? Do you mean to say you don't want to go?
I don't think I could go, Rachel said, with a slight
surprise in her voice. How could I?
Rendel said nothing, but still looked at her as though finding it
difficult to realise her point of view.
How could I leave my father? she said, putting into words the
thing that seemed to her so absolutely obvious that she had hardly
thought it necessary to speak it.
Do you think you couldn't? Rendel said slowly.
Oh, Frank, how would it be possible? she said. We could not leave
him alone here, and it would be much, much too far for him to go.
Of course. I had not thought of his attempting it, said Rendel,
truthfully enough, with a sinking dread at his heart that perhaps after
all the fair prospect he had been gazing upon was going to prove
nothing but a mirage.
You do agree, don't you? she said, looking at him anxiously. You
I am trying to see, Rendel said quietly. For a moment neither
Oh, I couldn't, Rachel said. I simply couldn't! in a heartfelt
tone that told of the unalterable conviction that lay behind it. There
was another silence. Rendel stood looking straight before him, Rachel
watching him timidly. Rendel made as though to speak, then he checked
Oh, isn't it a pity it was suggested! Rachel cried involuntarily.
Rendel gave a little laugh. It was deplorable, truly, that such an
opportunity should have come to a man who was not going to use it.
But could not you she began, then stopped. How long
would it be for?
Oh, about five years, I suppose, said Rendel, with a sort of
aloofness of tone with which people on such occasions consent to
diverge for the moment from the main issue.
Five years, she repeated. That would be too long.
Yes, five years seems a long time, I daresay, said Rendel, as one
looks on to it.
I was wondering, she said hesitatingly, if it wouldn't have been
better that you should have gone.
I? Without you, do you mean? Rendel said. No, certainly not. That
I am quite clear about.
Oh, Frank, I should not like it if you did, she said, looking up
I need not say that I should not. There was another silence.
Should you like it very, very much? she said.
Like what? said Rendel, coming back with an effort.
Going to Africa.
There had been a moment when Rendel had told Lady Gore how glad he
was that Rachel had no ambitions, as producing the ideal character. No
doubt that lack has its advantagesbut the world we live in is not,
alas, exclusively a world of ideals.
Yes, I should like it, he replied quietly. If you went too, that
isI should not like it without you.
Oh, Frank, it is a pity, she said, looking up at him
wistfully. But there was evidently not in her mind the shadow of a
possibility that the question could be decided other than in one way.
Come, it is getting late, Rendel said. And they left the room with
the outward air of having postponed the decision till the morning. But
the decision was not postponed; that Rachel took for granted, and
Rendel had made up his mind. This was, after all, not a new sacrifice
he was called upon to make: it was part of the same, of that sacrifice
which he had recognised that he was willing to make in order to marry
Rachel, and which was so much less than that other great and impossible
sacrifice of giving her up.
He came down early the next morning and wrote to Lord Belmont,
meaning when Rachel came down to breakfast to show her the letter, in
which he had most gratefully but quite decisively declined the honour
that had been done him. He read the letter over feeling as if he were
in a dream, and almost smiled to himself at the incredible thought that
here was the first big opportunity of his life and that he was calmly
putting it away from him. Perhaps when he came to talk it over with
Rachel again she might see it differently. Might she? No. He knew in
his heart that she would not. It was probable that Rendel's ambition,
his determined purpose, would always be hampered by his old-fashioned,
almost quixotic ideas of loyalty, his conception of the seemliness, the
dignity of the relations between husband and wife. In a matter that he
felt was a question of right or wrong he would probably without
hesitation have used his authority and decided inflexibly that such and
such a course was the one to pursue; but here he felt it was
impossible. It would not be consistent with his dignity to use his
authority to insist upon a course which, though it might be to his own
advantage, was undeniably an infringement of the tacit compact that he
had accepted when he married. With the letter in his hand he went
slowly out of the study. Rachel was coming swiftly down the stairs into
the hall, dressed for walking, looking perturbed and anxious.
Frank, she said hurriedly, I have just had a message from
Prince's Gate, my father is ill.
I am very sorry, Rendel said with concern.
I must go there directly, she said.
Have you breakfasted? asked Rendel.
Yes, she said. At least I have had a cup of teaquite enough.
No, said Rendel, that isn't enough. Come, it's absurd that you
should go out without breakfasting.
I couldn't really, Rachel said entreatingly. I must go.
Nonsense! Rendel said decidedly. You are not to go till you have
had some breakfast. And he took her into the dining-room and made her
eat. But this, as he felt, was not the moment for further discussion of
his own plans. He saw how absolutely they had faded away from her view.
I shall follow you shortly, he said, to know how Sir William is.
Oh, do, she said. You can't come now, I suppose?
I have a letter to write first. I must write to Lord Belmont.
Oh yes, of course, she said, with a sympathetic inflection in her
voice. Oh, Frank, how terrible it would have been if you had been
going away now! And she drew close to him as though seeking shelter
against the anxieties and troubles of the world.
But I am not, said Rendel quietly. And she looked back at him as
she drove off with a smile flickering over her troubled face.
Rendel turned back into the house. There was nothing more to do,
that was quite evident. He fastened up the letter to Belmont and sent
it round to his house, also writing to Stamfordham a brief letter of
thanks for his good offices and regrets at not being able to avail
himself of them.
Later he went to Prince's Gate. Sir William was a little better. It
was a sharp, feverish attack brought on by a chill the night before. It
lasted several days, during which time Rachel was constantly backwards
and forwards at Prince's Gate, and at the end of which she proposed to
Rendel that her father should, for the moment, as she put it, come to
them to Cosmo Place.
In the meantime Stamfordham, surprised at Rendel's refusal of the
opportunity he had put in his way, had sent for him to urge him to
re-consider his decision while there was yet time. Rendel found it very
hard to explain his reasons in such a way that they should seem in the
least valid to his interlocutor. Stamfordham, although he was well
aware that Rendel had married during the spring, had but dimly realised
the practical difference that this change of condition might bring into
the young man's life and into the code by which his actions were
governed. He himself had not married. He had had, report said, one
passing fancy and then another, but they had never amounted to more
than an impulse which had set him further on his way; there had never
been an attraction strong enough to deflect him from his orbit. With
such, he was quite clear, the statesman should have nothing to do.
Of course, he said, after listening to what Rendel had to say, I
should be the last person to wish to persuade you to take a course
contrary to Mrs. Rendel's wishes, but still such an opportunity as this
does not come to every man.
I know, said Rendel.
I never was married, Stamfordham went on, but I have not
understood that matrimony need necessarily be a bar to a successful
Nor have I, Rendel said, with a smile.
Let's see. How long have you been married?
Four months, Rendel replied.
As I told you, I am inexperienced in these matters, Stamfordham
said, but perhaps while one still counts by months it is more
difficult to assert one's authority.
My wife, said Rendel, does not wish to leave her father, who is
in delicate health. Sir William Gore, you know.
Oh, Sir William Gore, yes, said Stamfordham, with an inflection
which implied that Sir William Gore was not worth sacrificing any
possible advantages for.
I am very, very sorry, Rendel said gravely. I would have given a
great deal to have been going to Africa just now.
Yes, indeed. There will be infinite possibilities over there as
soon as things have settled down, said Stamfordham. And he looked at a
table that was covered with papers of different kinds, among them some
notes in his own handwriting, and said, Pity my unfortunate
secretaries! I don't think I have ever had any one who knew how to read
those impossible hieroglyphics as you did.
I don't know whether I ought to say I am glad or sorry to hear
that, said Rendel, as he went towards the door.
What are you going to do if you don't go to Africa? Stamfordham
Something else, I hope, said Rendel, with a look and an accent
that carried conviction.
Shan't you go into the House? said Stamfordham.
I mean to try, Rendel said. Then as he went out he turned round
and said, I daresay, sir, there are still possibilities in Europe,
Very likely, said Stamfordham; and they parted.
One of the most difficult tasks of the philosopher is not to regret
his decisions. The mind that has been disciplined to determine quickly
and to abide by its determination is one of the most valuable
instruments of human equipment. But it certainly needed some philosophy
on Rendel's part, during the period that elapsed between his refusal of
Lord Belmont's offer and the departure of the newly appointed governor,
not to regret that he himself was remaining behind. Day by day the
papers were full of the administrators who were going out, of their
qualifications, of their responsibilities. Day by day Rendel looked at
the map hanging in his study and wondered what transformations the
shifting of circumstances would bring to it.
Sir William Gore, in the meantime, had got better. He had slowly
thrown off the fever that had prostrated him, although he was not able
to resume his ordinary life. He had demurred a little at first to the
proposal that he should take up his abode at Cosmo Place, then, not
unwillingly, had yielded. In his ordinary state of health he would have
been alive to the proverbial drawbacks of a joint household, but in his
present state of weakness and depression he felt he could not be alone,
and in his secret heart it was almost a relief to be away from Prince's
Gate, its memories and associations. It had been in one of these
moments of insight, of revelation almost, that suddenly, like a
blinding flash of light shows us in pitiless details the conditions
that surround us, that with intense self-pity he had said to himself
that there was actually no one in this whole world with whom he was
entitled to come first. Rachel's solicitude certainly went far to
persuade him of the contrary; but in his secret soul he bitterly
resented the fact that there should now be someone to share Rachel's
allegiance, although Rendel might well have contended that he was
divided in Sir William's favour.
The Miss Pateleys, sisters of Robert Pateley, lived together. The
death of their parents, as we have said, had taken place when their
brother was already launched on his successful career as a journalist.
They had at first gone on living in the little country town in which
their father had been a solicitor. It had not occurred to them to do
anything else. They were surrounded there by people who knew them, who
considered them, towards whom their social position needed no
explaining and by whom it was taken for granted. When they went
shopping, the tradespeople would reply in a friendly way, Yes, Miss
Pateley,No, Miss Jane. This is the stocking you generally prefer;
or, These were the pens you had last time, with an intimate
understanding of the needs of their customers, forming a most pleasing
contrast to the detached attitude of the staff of big shops. The
sisters had a very small income between them, eked out by skilful
management, and also, it must be said, by constant help from their
brother, who represented to them the moving principle of the universe
embodied in a visible form. He it was who knew things the female mind
cannot grasp, how to read the gas meter, what to do when the cistern
was blocked, or when the landlord said it was not his business to mend
the roof. These things which appeared so preoccupying to Anna and Jane
seemed to sit very lightly on their brother Robert, and when they saw
him shoulder each detail and deal with it with instant and consummate
ease they admired him as much as they did when they saw him carrying
upstairs his own big portmanteau which the united female strength of
the house was powerless to deal with. After a time Robert, devoted
brother though he was, found that it complicated existence to have to
settle these matters by correspondence, still more to have suddenly to
take a journey of several hours from London in order to deal with them
on the spot. He proposed to his sisters that they should come and live
in London. With many misgivings, and yet not without some secret
excitement, they assented, and for a few months before our story begins
they had been established in the same house as their brother, on the
floor above the lodgings he inhabited in Vernon Street, Bloomsbury.
Vernon Street, Bloomsbury, was perhaps a fortunate place for them to
begin their London life in, if London life, except as a geographical
term, it can be called, for two poor little ladies living more
absolutely outside what is commonly described by that name it would be
hard to find. Indeed, if it had not been for the courage and
adventurous spirit of Jane, the younger of the two, their hearts might
well have failed them during those first months in which the autumn
days shortened over the district of Bloomsbury. Since they knew no one,
they had nobody to visit, and nobody came to see them. They were still
not a little bewildered by London. There were, it was true, a great
many sights of an inanimate kind; but how to get at them? They did not
consider themselves justified in taking cabs, and omnibuses were at
first, to two people who had lived all their lives in a tramless town,
a disconcerting and complicated means of locomotion. However, as the
time went on they shook down, they found their little niche in
existence; they made acquaintance with the clergyman's wife and some of
the district visitors, and when the first summer of their London life
came round, the summer following Rachel's marriage, everything seemed
to them more possible. London was bright, sunshiny, and welcoming,
instead of being austere and repellent. Pateley had succeeded in
obtaining a key of the square close to which they lived, and they sat
there and revelled in the summer weather. The mere fact of having him
so near them, of knowing that at any moment in the day he might come in
with the loud voice and heartiness of manner which always cheered and
uplifted them, albeit some of his acquaintances ventured to find it too
audible, gave them a fresh sense of being in touch with all the great
things happening in the world. Then came a moment in which, indeed, the
larger issues of life seemed to present themselves to be dealt with.
Pateley, under whose auspices the Arbiter had prospered
exceedingly, and who had an interest in it from the point of view of a
commercial enterprise as well as of a political organ, found himself
one day the possessor of a larger sum of ready money than he had
expected. He made up his mind that some of it should be given to his
sisters, and that the rest should join their own savings invested in
the Equator, which seemed to present every prospect of succeeding
when once the moment should come to work it. Pateley was altogether in
a high state of jubilation in those days. The Cape to Cairo railway was
actually on the verge of being completed. In a week more the gigantic
scheme would be an accomplished fact. The excitement in London
respecting it was immense. A small piece of German territory still
remained to be crossed, but if no unforeseen incident arose to
jeopardise the situation at the last moment all would yet be well. The
rejoicings of Englishmen commonly take a sturdy and obvious form, and
two days after the great junction was expected to take place, the
Arbiter was to give a dinner at the Colossus Hotel in the Strand to
the representatives of the Cape to Cairo Railway in London, after which
the Hotel would be illuminated on all sides, and fireworks over the
river were to proclaim to the whole town that Africa had been spanned.
Pateley was to take the chair at the dinner. He had some shares in the
railway himself, although the rush upon it had been too great for him
to secure any large amount of them. He had golden hopes, however, in
the future of the Equator, when once the railway was at its doors.
Anderson had gone back again to Africa, this time with an eager staff
of companions, and was only waiting for his time to come.
Now then, Pateley said jovially, one evening, as he went into the
lodgings in Vernon Street and found his sisters sitting over their
somewhat inadequate evening meal, Times are looking up, I must tell
you. I shouldn't wonder if you were better off before long. When the
railway's finished, and if the Equator mine is all we believe it to
be, you ought to get something handsome out of itand I have got
something for you to go on with which will keep you going in the
meantime. So now I hope you will think yourselves justified in sitting
down to a decent dinner every evening, instead of that kind of thing,
and he pointed, with his loud, jovial laugh, to the cocoa and eggs on
the rather dingily appointed table.
Jane's eyes sparkled and her cheeks flushed with an incredulous joy.
Anna's breath came quickly. What a fairy prince of a brother this was!
But, Robert, we had better not make much difference in our way of
living at first, had we? Anna said, timidly, calling to mind the
instances in fiction of imprudent persons who had launched out wildly
on an accession of fortune and then been overtaken by ruin.
Well, I don't suppose you are either of you likely to want to cut a
big dash, he said with another loud laugh. At least, I don't see you
It is a great responsibility, Anna said timidly. I hope we shall
use it the right way.
Right way! said Pateley. Of course you will. Go to the play with
it, get yourself a fur cloak, have a fire in your bedroom
Oh! said Jane.
But, Robert, Anna said, I don't feel it is sent to us for that.
Sent! said Pateley. Well, that is one way of putting it.
But he did not enlarge upon the point. He accepted his sisters just
as they were, with their limitations, their principles, and everything.
He was not particularly susceptible to beauty and distinction, in the
sense of these qualities being necessary to his belongings, and perhaps
it was as well. Anna and Jane, though they looked undeniably like
gentlewomen, had nothing else about them that was particularly
agreeable to look upon. Nor were they either of them very strikingly
ugly, or, indeed, strikingly anything. Jane was the better looking of
the two. It was, perhaps, a rather heartless freak of destiny that life
should have ordained her to live with somebody who was like a parody of
herself, older, rounder, thicker, plainer. Living apart they might each
have passed muster; living together they somehow made their ugliness,
like their income, go further. But in the composite photograph it was
Anna who predominated. It was a pity, for she was the stumpier of the
Long and earnest were the discussions the little sisters had that
night after their splendid brother had departed, until by the time they
went to bed they were prepared, or so it seemed to them, to launch
their existence on a dizzy career of extravagance. They were going, as
they expressed it, to put their establishment on another footing, which
meant that instead of being attended by an inexperienced young person
of eighteen they were to have an arrogant one of twenty-five. Their own
elderly servant had declined to face the temptations of London, and had
remained behind, living close to their old home. And, greatest event of
all, they had at lengthit was now summer, but that didn't matter,
furs were cheaperyielded to the thought which they had been
alternately caressing and dismissing for months, and they were each
going to buy a Fur Cloak. The days in which this all important purchase
was being considered were to the Miss Pateleys days of pure enjoyment.
Days of walks along Oxford Street, no longer so bewildered by the noise
of London traffic, the discovery of some shop in an out of the way
place whose wares were about half the price of the more fashionable
quarters. The days were full of glorious possibilities.
It was two days after that evening visit of Pateley's to his
sisters, which had so gilded and transformed their existence, that
sinister rumours began to float over London, bringing deadly anxiety in
their wake. Telegrams kept pouring in, and were posted all over the
town, becoming more and more serious as the day went on: Disturbances
in South Africa. Hostile encounter between English and Germans. Cape to
Cairo Railway stopped. Collapse of the 'Equator, Ltd.,' until by
nightfall the whole of England knew the pitifully unimportant incidents
from which such tragic consequences were springingthat a group of
travelling missionaries, halting unawares on German territory and
chanting their evening hymns, had been disturbed by a rough fellow who
came jeering into their midst, that one of the devout group had finally
ejected him, with such force that he had rolled over with his head on a
stone and died then and there; and that the Germans were insisting upon
having vengeance. As for the Equator, Ltd., nobody knew exactly in
what the collapse consisted. The wildest reports were circulated
respecting it; one saying that it was in the hands of the Germans,
another that they had destroyed the plant that was ready to work it,
another again, and it was the one that gained the most credence, that
there was no gold in the mine at all, and that the whole thing was a
swindle. The offices of the Equator were closed for the night. They
would probably be besieged the next morning by an angry crowd eager to
sell out, but the shares would now be hardly worth the paper they were
written upon. Pateley, in a frenzy of anxiety, in whichever direction
he lookedfor his sisters, for himself, for his party, for the Cape to
Cairo Railwayspent the night at his office to see which way events
were going to turn. In his unreasoning anger, as the day of misfortune
dawned next morning, against destiny, against the far-away unknown
missionaries, against all the adverse forces that were standing in the
way of his wishes, there was one concrete figure in the foreground upon
whom he could justifiably pour out his wrath: Sir William Gore, the
Chairman of the Equator, who, in the public opinion, was responsible
for the undertaking. He would go to see Sir William that very day as
soon as it was possible. In the meantime he would go round to his
sisters to try to prepare them for the unfavourable turn that their
circumstances after all might possibly take. As, sorely troubled at
what he had to say, he came up into their little sitting-room, he found
it bright with flowers; the fragrance of sweet peas filled the air.
Anna, who had longed for flowers all her life and had welcomed with
tremulous gratitude the rare opportunities that had come in her way of
receiving any, had suddenly realised that it might not be sinful to buy
them. The joy that she had in the handful bought from a street vendor
was cheap, after all, at the price that might have seemed exorbitant if
it had been spent on the flowers alone.
Robert, said Jane, almost before he was inside the room, guess
what we are going to do?
Something very naughty, I'm afraid, Anna said, excited and shy at
the same time. She was generally less able than Jane to overcome the
awe that they both felt of a relation so great and so beneficent, so
altogether perfect, as their brother Robert, but at this moment she was
intoxicated by the possession of wealth, by the sense of luxury, of
well-being, by that fragrance of the spirit her imagination added to
the fragrance of the flowers that stood near her. We're each going to
buy a fur cloak like that, look! And she held out to him proudly the
picture in the inside cover of the Realm of Fashion,
representing a tall, slender, undulating lady, about as unlike herself
as could well have been imagined, wrapped in a beautiful clinging
garment of which the lining, turned back, displayed an exquisite fur.
Pateley, as we have said, was not as a rule given to an excess of
sensibility. He did not ridicule sentiment in others, but neither did
he share it; that point of view was simply not visible to him.
Suddenly, however, on this evening he had a moment of what felt to
himself a most inconvenient access of emotion. There was a plain and
obvious pathos in this particular situation that it needed no very fine
sensibilities to grasp, in the sight of his sister, her small, thickset
little figure encased in her ugly little gown, looking up appealingly
to him over her spectacles with the joy of a child in the toy she was
going to buy. It was probably the first, the very first time in her
life, that she had had that particular experience. Added to the joy of
getting the thing she coveted was the sense of having looked a
conscientious scruple in the face, and seen it fly before her like an
evil spirit before a spell. She had routed the enemy, pushed aside the
obstacle in front of her, and, excited, and flushed with victory, was
looking round on a bigger world and a fairer view. Pateley, to his own
surprise, found himself absolutely incapable of putting into words what
he had come to say, not a thing that often happened to him. In wonder
at his not answering at once, Anna, misinterpreting his very slight
pause, caught herself up quickly and said anxiously
That is what you suggested, isn't it, Robert? You are quite sure
you approve of it?
Yes, yes, I approve, he said heartily, recovering himself. Of
course. Go ahead.
You must not think, she went on, reassured, that we mean to spend
all our money in things like this, but of course a fur cloak is useful;
it is a possession, isn't it? and it is, after all, one's duty to keep
Of course it is, Pateley said. No need of any further argument.
I am so glad, she said, so glad you approve! and she smiled
again with delight.
Again Pateley felt an unreasoning fury rising in his mind that
people who were so easily satisfied should not be allowed to have their
heart's desire. Perhaps after all, it was not true about the Equator;
perhaps things might be better than they seemed. At any rate, he would
not say anything to his sisters until he had seen Gore. And with some
hurried explanation of the number of engagements that obliged him to
leave them, he strode out.
In the meantime Lord Stamfordham, watching the situation, felt there
was not a single instant to lose. There is one moment in the life of a
conflagration when it can be stamped out: that moment passed, no power
can stop it. Stamfordham, his head clear, his determination strong and
ready, resolved to act without hesitating on his own responsibility. He
sent a letter round to Prince Bergowitz, the German Ambassador, begging
him to come and see him. Prince Bergowitz was laid up with an attack of
gout which unfortunately prevented his coming, but he would be glad to
receive Lord Stamfordham if he would come to see him.
It was a little later in the same day that Rendel, alone in his
study, was standing, newspaper in hand, in front of the map of Africa
looking to see the exact localities where the events were happening
which might have such dire consequences. At that moment Wentworth,
passing through Cosmo Place, looked through the window and saw him thus
engaged. He knocked at the hall door, and, after being admitted, walked
into the study without waiting to be announced.
Looking at the map of Africa, and I don't wonder, he said. Isn't
It's terrible, said Rendel, about as bad as it can be.
Look here, why aren't you over there to help to settle it? said
Well, I should not have been there, in any case, said Rendel.
That is where I should have beenlook, with something like a sigh.
You would have been nearer than you are now, said Wentworth. Upon
my word, I haven't patience with you. The idea of throwing up such a
chance as you have had!
How do you know about it? Rendel said.
How do I know? said Wentworth. Everybody knows that you were
offered it and refused.
After all, said Rendel, there are some things one leaves undone
in this world. It does not follow that because people are offered a
thing they must necessarily accept it.
I don't say I am not in favour of leaving things undone, Wentworth
said, on occasion.
So I have observed, said Rendel.
But really, you know, Wentworth went on, this is too much. What
do you intend to do?
What do I intend to do? Rendel said, with a half smile, then
unconsciously imparting a greater steadfastness into his expression,
broadly speaking, I intend to doeverything.
Oh! well, there's hope for you still, Wentworth said, if that is
your intention. It's rather a large order, though.
Well, as I have told you before, Rendel said, I don't see why
there should be any limit to one's intentions. The man who intends
little is not likely to achieve much.
That's all very well, and plausible enough, I dare say, said
Wentworth, but the way to achieve is not to begin by refusing all your
This is too delightful from you, said Rendel, who never do
anything at all.
Not at all, said Wentworth. It is on principle that I do nothing,
in order to protest against other people doing too much. I wish to have
an eight hours' day of elegant leisure, and to go about the world as an
example of it. It would be just as inconsistent of me to accept a
regular occupation as it is of you to refuse it.
I have a very simple reason for refusing this, said Rendel more
seriously, and he paused. I am a married man.
To be sure, my dear fellow, said Wentworth, I have noticed it.
My wife didn't want to go to Africa, said Rendel, and there was
an end of it.
Oh, that was the end of it? said Wentworth.
Absolutely, said Rendel. She did not want to leave her father.
Ah, is that it? said Wentworth, feeling that he could not decently
advance an urgent plea against Sir William. Poor old man! I know he's
gone to pieces frightfully since his wife diedstill, couldn't some
one have been found to take care of him?
Hardly any one like Rachel, Rendel said.
Naturally, said Wentworth.
You know he is living with us? Rendel said.
Is he? said Wentworth surprised. Upon my word, Frank, you are a
Rendel ignored the tone of Wentworth's last remark and said quite
Oh! well, there was nothing else to be done. He's been ill, you
know, really rather bad; first he had a chill, and then influenza on
the top of it. He's frightfully low altogether.
But I rather wonder, said Wentworth, as Mrs. Rendel had her
father with her, that you didn't go to Africa without her. Wouldn't
that have been possible?
No, said Rendel decidedly. Quite impossible.
I should have thought, said Wentworth, that in these enlightened
days a husband who could not do without his wife was rather a mistake.
That may be, said Rendel. But I think on the whole that the
husband who can do without her is a greater mistake still.
It is a great pity you were not born five hundred years ago, said
I should have disliked it particularly, said Rendel. I should
have been fighting at Flodden, or Crécy, or somewhere, and I should
have been too old to marry Rachel, even in these days of well-preserved
centenarians. It is no good, Jack; I am afraid you must leave me to my
Well, well, said Wentworth, agreeing with the word, and thinking
to himself that even the wisest of men looks foolish at times when he
has the yoke of matrimony across his shoulders; after all there is to
be saidif we are going to have another war on our hands in Africa,
which Heaven forfend, the time of the statesmen over there is hardly
At this moment the door opened and the two men turned round quickly
as Rachel came in.
Frank, said Rachel. Should you mind Then she stopped as she
saw Wentworth. Oh, how do you do, Mr. Wentworth? I didn't know you
were here. Don't let me interrupt you.
On the contrary, said Wentworth, it is I who am interrupting your
I only came to see, Frank, if you were very busy, she said.
I am not at this moment. Do you want me to do anything?
Well, presently, would you play one game of chess with my father? I
am not really good enough to be of much use; it doesn't amuse him to
play with me.
Yes, said Rendel. I have just got one or two letters to write and
then I'll come.
I think it would really be better, said Rachel, if he came in
here. It is rather a change for him, you know, to come into a different
room after having been in the house all day.
Just as you like, said Rendel, without much enthusiasm, but also
without any noticeable want of it.
Well, said Wentworth, I'm not going to keep you any longer,
Frank. I just came in togive you my views about things in general.
Thank you, said Rendel, with a smile. I am much beholden to you
Perhaps you would come up and see my father, Mr. Wentworth, said
Rachel, before you go away?
I shall be delighted, Wentworth said. His feeling towards Sir
William Gore was kindly on the whole, and the kindliness was
intensified at this moment by compassion, although he could not help
resenting a little that Gore should have been an indirect cause of
Rendel's refusing what Wentworth considered was the chance of his
friend's life. He shook hands with Rendel and prepared to follow
Rachel. At this moment a loud, double knock resounded upon the hall
door with a peremptoriness which must have induced an unusual and
startling rapidity in the movements of Thacker, Rendel's butler, for
almost instantly afterwards he threw open the study door with a visible
perturbation and excitement in his demeanour, saying
It's Lord Stamfordham, sir, who wants particularly to see you. And
to Rendel's amazement Lord Stamfordham appeared in the doorway. He
bowed to Wentworth, whom he knew slightly, and shook hands with Rachel.
She then went straight out, followed by Wentworth. As the door closed
behind them, Stamfordham, answering Rendel's look of inquiry and
without waiting for any interchange of greetings, said hurriedly
Rendel, I want you to do me a service.
Please command me, Rendel said quickly, looking straight at him.
He felt his heart beat as Stamfordham paused, put his hat down on the
table, took his pocket-book out of his breast pocket and a folded paper
out of it.
I want you, he said, to transcribe some pencil notes of mine.
You want me to transcribe them? said Rendel, with an
involuntary inflection of surprise in his tone.
Yes, if you will, said Stamfordham. The fact is, Marchmont, the
only man I have had since you left me who can read my writing when I
take rough pencil notes in a hurry, has collapsed just to-day, out of
sheer excitement I believe, and because he sat up for one night
Poor fellow! said Rendel, half to himself.
Yes, said Stamfordham drily; and then he went on, as one who knows
that he must leave the sick and wounded behind without waiting to pity
them. These, unfolding the paper, are notes of a conversation that I
have just had at the German Embassy with Bergowitz. Rendel's quick
movement as he heard the name showed that he realised what that
juxtaposition meant at such a moment. Every moment is precious,
Stamfordham went on, and it suddenly dawned on me as I left the
Embassy that you were close at hand and might be willing to do it.
The German Embassy was at the moment, during some building
operations, occupying temporary premises near Belgrave Square.
I should think so indeed, Rendel said eagerly.
The notes are very short, as you see, said Stamfordham. You know,
of course, what has been happening. I needn't go into that. And as he
spoke a boy passed under the windows crying the evening papers, and
they distinctly heard Panic on the Stock Exchange. The two men's eyes
Yes, there is a panic on the Stock Exchange, Stamfordham said,
because every one thinks there will be warbut there probably won't.
Not? said Rendel. Can it be stopped?
Stamfordham answered him by unfolding the piece of paper and laying
it down before him on the table. It was a map of Africa, roughly
outlined, but still clearly enough to show unmistakably what it was
intended to convey, for all down the map from north to south there was
a thick line drawn to the west of the Cape to Cairo Railwaythe latter
being indicated, but more faintly, in pencilstarting at Alexandria
and running down through the whole of the continent, bending slightly
to the southward between Bechuanaland and Namaqualand, and ending at
the Orange River. East of that line was written ENGLAND, west of it
GERMANY, and below it some lines of almost illegible writing in pencil.
Rendel almost gasped.
What? he said; a partition of Africa?
Yes, said Stamfordham. Then he said with a sort of half smile,
The partition, that is to say, so far as it is in our own hands. But,
speaking rapidly, I will just put you in possession of the facts of
the case and give you the clue. We abandon to Germany everything that
we have a claim to west of this line. It does not come to very much,
in answer to an involuntary movement on Rendel's part; and he swept his
hand across the coast of the Gulf of Guinea as though wiping out of
existence the Gold Coast, Ashanti, Sierra Leone, and all that had
mattered before. Germany abandons to us everything that she lays claim
to on the east of it, including therefore the whole course of the Cape
to Cairo Railway.
But has Germany agreed? said Rendel, stupefied with surprise.
Germany has agreed, said Stamfordham. We have just heard from
Rendel felt as if his breath were taken away by the rapid motion of
That means peace, then? he said.
Yes, Stamfordham said; peace.
Then when is this going to be given to the world? said Rendel.
Some of it possibly to-morrow, said Stamfordham. The Cabinet
Council will meet this evening, and the King's formal sanction
obtained. Of course, he went on, the broad outlines only will be
publishedthe fact of the understanding at any rate, not necessarily
the terms of the partition. But it is important for financial reasons
that the country should know as soon as possible that war is averted.
Of course, of course, said Rendel. Immeasurably important.
Stamfordham took up his hat and held out his hand with his air of
courtly politeness as he turned towards the door.
I may count upon you to do this for me immediately?
This instant, said Rendel, taking up the papers. Shall I take
them to your house as soon as they are done?
Please, said Stamfordham. No, stayI am going back to the German
Embassy now, then probably to the Foreign Office. You had better simply
send a messenger you can rely upon, and tell him to wait at my house to
give them into my own hand, as I am not sure where I shall be for the
next hour. Rendel, I must ask you by all you hold sacred to take care
of those papers. If that map were to be caught sight of before the
Rendel involuntarily held it tighter at the thought of such a
Good Heavens!yes, he said. But that shan't happen. Look, and
he dropped the paper through the slit in the closed revolving corner of
his large writing-table, a cover that was solidly locked with his own
key so that, though papers could be put in through the slit, it was
impossible to take them out again without unlocking the cover and
lifting it up. This is the only key, he said, showing his bunch. Now
then, they are perfectly safe while I go across the hall with you.
By the way, he said, pausing, you are married now, Rendel....
I am, yes, I am glad to say, Rendel replied.
To be sure, said Stamfordham, with a little bow conveying discreet
congratulation. Butremember that a married man sometimes tells
secrets to his wife.
Does he, sir? said Rendel, with an air of assumed innocence.
I believe I have heard so, said Stamfordham.
On the other hand, said Rendel, I also have heard that a married
man sometimes keeps secrets from his wife.
Oh well, that is better, said Stamfordham.
From some points of view, perhaps, said Rendel. Then he added more
seriously, You may be quite sure, sir, that no oneno onein
this house shall know about those papers. I would give you my word of
honour, but I don't suppose it would make my assertion any stronger.
If you said nothing, said Stamfordham, it would be enough; and
Rendel's heart glowed within him as their eyes met and the compact was
ratified. By the way, Rendel, there was one thing more I wanted to say
to you. There will probably be a vacancy at Stoke Newton before long;
aren't you going into the House?
Some time, said Rendel. When I get a chance.
Well, there is going to be a chance now, said Stamfordham. Old
Crawley is going to resign. I hear it from private sources; the world
doesn't know it yet. It is a safe Imperialist seat, and in our part of
I should like very much to try, said Rendel, forcing himself to
Suppose you write to our committee down there? said Stamfordham.
That is, when you have done your more pressing businessI mean mine.
That shall come before everything else, Rendel said. I will do it
at this moment.
He turned quickly back into his study after Stamfordham had left
him, and unlocked and threw up the revolving cover of the writing-table
hastily, for fear that something should have happened to the paper on
which the destinies of the civilised world were hanging. There it was,
safe in his keeping, his and nobody else's. He took it in his hand and
for a moment walked up and down the room, unable to control himself,
trying to realise the tremendous change in the aspect of his fortunes
that had taken place in the last half-hour. Then he had seemed to
himself in the backwater, out of the throng of existence. He had been
trying to reconcile himself to the idea that he was out of it, as he
had put it to himselfleft behind. And now he shared with the two
great potentates of the world the knowledge of what was going to take
place; it was his hand that should transcribe the words that had
decided it; he was a witness, and so far the only one. Then with an
effort he forced himself to be calm. Every minute was of importance. He
sat down at the writing-table, took up the paper, and pored over it to
try to disentangle the strange dots, scratches, and lines which,
flowing from Stamfordham's pen, took the place of handwriting. Some
ill-natured people said that Stamfordham was quite conscious of the
advantage of having writing which could not be read without a close
scrutiny. It was no doubt possible. However, having the clue to what
the contents of the paper were, Rendel, to his immense relief, found
that he could decipher it. As he was writing the first word of the fair
copy the door of the study opened slowly, and Sir William Gore appeared
on the threshold, a newspaper in his hand.
Sir William, who had not been able to come downstairs for a month,
may be forgiven for unconsciously feeling that the occasion was one
which demanded from his son-in-law a semblance of cordial welcome at
any rate, if not of glad surprise. It is an extraordinarily difficult
thing to learn that we are not looking each of us at the same aspect of
life as our neighbour, especially our neighbour of a different time of
life from ourselves. We appeal to him as a matter of course, and say,
Look! see how life appears to me to-day! see what existence is like in
relation to myself! But unfortunately the neighbour, who is standing
on the outside of that particular circle, and not in its centre, does
not see what we mean. Sir William had been shut up for a month in the
room that he inhabited on the drawing-room floor of the house in Cosmo
Place. He had simply not had mental energy to care about what was
happening beyond the four walls of that room. If he had been asked at
that moment what the universe was, he would have said that it was a
succession of days and nights in which the important things of life
were the hours and compositions of his meals, the probable hour of the
doctor's visit, and the steps to be made each day towards recovery and
the resumption of ordinary habits.
Rachel had of course devoted herself to him. It was she who went up
with his breakfast, who read to him during the morning, who tried to
remember everything that happened out of doors to tell him on her
return; it was she who had done many hundreds of patiences in the days
when he was not well enough to play at chess. He was hardly well enough
now, but he had set his heart upon the first day when he should come
down and play chess with Rendel as a sort of pivot in his miserable
existence. And now the moment had come. How should he know that for all
practical purposes his son-in-law was a different being from the young
man who had come upstairs to see him the day before? For yesterday
Rendel had come up and talked to him about indifferent things, not
telling him, lest he should be excited, of the evil rumours that were
filling the air, and had gone downstairs again himself with a miserably
unoccupied day in front of hima day in which to remember and overcome
the fact that, instead of being in the arena of which the echoes
reached him, he was doomed to be a spectator from afar, who could take
no part in the fray. But so much Sir William had not known. How should
we any of us know what the inward counterpart is to the outward
manifestation? know that the person who comes into the room may be,
although appearing the same, different from the one who went out? He
knew only that the Rendel of this morning had said with a smile, I am
looking forward to the moment when you will checkmate me again. And
Sir William had a right to expect that, that moment having come, Rendel
should feel the importance and pleasure of it as much as he did
himself. But it was not the same Rendel who sat there, it was not the
unoccupied spectator ready to join his leisure to that of another; it
was a resolute combatant who had been suddenly called into a front
post, and for whom the whole aspect of the world had changed. It was an
absolute physical effort to Rendel, as the door opened and he saw Sir
William, to bring his mind back to the conditions of a few hours
before. The fact of any one coming in at that moment called him back to
earth again, turned him violently about to face the commonplace
importunities of existence. Sir William had probably not formulated to
himself what he had vaguely expected, but it certainly was not the
puzzled, half-questioning look, the indescribable air of being taken
aback, altered at once by a quick impulse into something that tried not
to look forbidding, and more strange and tell-tale than all the quick
movement by which Rendel drew a large sheet of blotting-paper over what
he was writing. Sir William's whole being was jarred, his rejoicing in
the small occasion of being on another stage towards recovery was gone;
nobody cared, not one. Rachel was not in the house, and who else was
there to care? Nobody: there never would be again. Could it be possible
that for the rest of his life he was doomed to be in a world so
arranged that his comings and goings were not the most important of
all? He stood still a moment, then tried to speak in his usual voice.
I am not in your way, am I, Rendel?
Rendel also made a conscious effort as he replied, rising from his
chair as he spoke
Oh no, Sir William, please come in. I have some writing to finish,
if you don't mind.
Pray go on, said Sir William; I won't disturb you. I'll sit down
here and read the paper till you are ready; and he sat down with his
back to the writing-table and the window, in the big chair which Rendel
Thank you, Sir William said. I took the liberty of bringing in
your afternoon paper which was outside.
Certainly, Rendel replied, too absorbed for the moment in the
thing his own attention was concentrated upon to realise the bearing of
what Gore was saying. Of course, and went back to his writing.
Gore leant back, idly turning over the pages of the Mayfair
Gazette; then he started as his eye fell on the alarmist
announcements. What was this? What incredible things were these that he
saw? The letters were swimming before him; he could only vaguely
distinguish the black capitals and the headlines; the rest was a blur.
All that stood out clearly was: Cape to Cairo Railway in Danger, and
then beneath it: Sinister Rumours about the 'Equator, Ltd.'
Rendel! he said, half starting up. Rendel turned round with a
start, dragging his mind from the thing it was bent upon. How awful
this is! said Sir William, holding up the paper with a shaking hand.
Rendel began to understand. But, that he should have to look up for one
moment, for the fraction of a second, from those words that he was
Yes, yes, it is terrible, he said, and bent over his writing
again. Sir William tried to go on reading. What was this about Germany?
War would mean the collapse of everythingprivate schemes as well as
War! Do you think it can possibly mean war? he said. Can't
Germany be squared?
War! said Rendel without looking up. Who can tell? And again he
felt the supreme excitement of standing unseen at the right hand of the
man who was driving the ship through the storm. Sir William laid down
the paper on his knee and tried to think, but all he could do was to
close his eyes and keep perfectly still. Everything was vague ... and
the worst of itor was it the best of it?was that nothing seemed to
At the same moment a brief colloquy was being exchanged outside the
hall door. Stamfordham's brougham had drawn up again, and Thacker, who
was standing hanging about the hall with a secret intention of being on
the spot if tremendous things were going to happen, had instantly
Is Mr. Rendel in? said Lord Stamfordham hurriedly as Thacker stood
at the door of the brougham.
Yes, my lord.
Ask him to come and speak to me.
Thacker was shaken into unwonted excitement; he opened the door of
the study quickly and went in. Sir William started violently. Any
sudden noise in the present state of his nerves threw him completely
off his balance.
Can you come and speak to Lord Stamfordham, sir?
Rendel sprang up; then with a sudden thought turned back and pulled
down the top of his writing-table, which shut with a spring, and rushed
out without seeing that Sir William had begun raising himself
laboriously from his chair as he said
Don't let me be in your way, Rendel.
His lordship is not coming in, Sir William, said Thacker.
Sir William sank back into his chair. Thacker, after waiting an
instant as though to see whether Gore had any orders for him, went
quietly out, closing the door after him.
Rendel had madly caught up a hat as he passed, and flown down the
steps, not seeing in his haste a burly personage who was coming along
the pavement dressed in the ordinary garb of the English citizen, with
nothing about him to show that his glowing right hand held the
thunderbolts which he was going to hurl at the head of Gore. It is
unnecessary to say that Robert Pateley knew Stamfordham's carriage well
by sight; and it was with pleasure and satisfaction that he found that
Providence had brought him on to the pavement at Cosmo Place in time to
see one of the moves in the great game which the world was playing that
day. It was better on the whole that he should not accost Rendel. There
was no need at that moment for Stamfordham to be aware of his presence,
although, after all, there was no reason why he should not be. But
seeing Rendel standing speaking to Stamfordham at the door of the
brougham he conceived that he was probably coming in again directly,
and made up his mind to go in and see Gore at any rate if possible. He
went up the steps, therefore, and into the house, the front door being
open. It happened neither Rendel nor Stamfordham saw him enter, the
former having his back turned and blocking the view of the latter.
Thacker, with intense interest, was watching the development of affairs
from the dining-room window, and did not see Pateley go in either.
Have you done the thing? said Stamfordham quickly.
All but, Rendel said.
Well, I want you to add this, said Stamfordham. Get in and drive
back with me, will you? I have so little time.
Rendel jumped in, and the brougham moved past the window just as Sir
William Gore, who had painfully pulled himself out of his chair, looked
out, petrified with surprise at the unexplained crisis that seemed to
have come upon the household. Stamfordham! he said to himself, and
Frank! What are the Imperialists hatching now, I wonder? and he
mechanically looked round him at Rendel's writing-table. It was,
however, closed and forbidding, save for a little corner of white paper
that was sticking out under the revolving flap. By one of those
strange, almost unconscious impulses which may suddenly overtake the
best of us at times, Gore put out his hand and pulled out the paper. It
was quite loose and came away in his hand. What was it? He looked at it
vaguely. Then gradually it became clear. A map?... yes, it was a rough
map, with a thick line drawn from the top to the bottom down the middle
of it; names to the right and the left. England? Germany? And what were
those words written underneath? What? Was that how Germany was
going to be 'squared?' And sheer excitement gave him strength to grasp
more or less the meaning of what he saw. If Africa were going to be
divided, if Germany and England were agreeing to that division, it
meant Peace. There was no doubt of it. But had the Imperialists
suddenly gone on to the side of peace? Had they snatched that trump
card from their adversaries and were they going to play it? Sir William
stood gazing at the paper. Then as he heard some one at the door of the
room he suddenly realised what he had done. He instinctively clutched
the paper in the hand which held the Mayfair Gazette, the
newspaper concealing it. As he turned and looked towards the door an
unexpected sight greeted his eyesno other than Pateley, who, finding
himself in the hall unheralded, had made up his mind to come into
Rendel's study and there ring the bell for some one who should bring
word to Sir William Gore of his presence. But he was surprised to find
Sir William downstairs instead of in his room as he had expected. He
paused for a moment, shocked at the change in Gore's appearance. He
looked thin, listless, bent: his upright figure, his spring, his energy
were gone. Pateley's heart smote him for a moment. Would it be possible
to call this feeble, suffering creature to account? Then his heart
hardened again as he thought of his sisters.
Pateley! said Gore, advancing with the remains of his usual
manner, but curiously shaken for the moment, as Pateley said to
himself, out of his usual self-confidence.
The state of nervousness of the older man was painfully perceptible.
Added to his general weakness, which made the mere fact of seeing some
one unexpectedly a sudden shock to him, he had besides at that moment
an additional and very definite reason for uneasiness in the thing
which he held in his hand. He endeavoured, however, to pull himself
together as he shook hands with Pateley.
I have not seen you for a long time, he said, pointing to a chair
and sinking back into his own.
No, Pateley replied. I was very sorry to hear that you had been
ill. You are looking rather bad still.
And feeling so, Sir William said wearily. The worst of influenza
is that one feels just as bad when one is supposed to be getting better
as when one is supposed to be getting worse. It is a most annoying form
So I have understood, said Pateley, though I have not learnt it
by personal experience.
No, you don't look as though you suffered from weakness, said Sir
William, with a faint smile and a consciousness that this was not a
person from whom it would be very easy to extract sympathy for his own
Pateley paused. He felt curiously uncomfortable and hesitating, a
sensation somewhat novel to him. Sir William leant back in his chair,
trying to control the trembling of his hands, of which one held the
Mayfair Gazette, the smaller paper still concealed underneath it.
I see, Pateley said, you are reading the evening paper. Not very
good reading, is it? Things look pretty bad.
They do indeed, said Sir William.
It looks uncommonly like war with Germany, Pateley said; prices
are tumbling down headlong on the Stock Exchange. I believe there is
going to be something very like a panic.
Is there? said Gore uneasily; that's bad.
Yes, it is very bad, Pateley went on. I suppose you have heard
that there are ugly rumours about the 'Equator.'
I saw something, Sir William said, forcing himself to speak. What
is it exactly that they say?
Well, the last thing they say, Pateley replied with a harder ring
in his voice, is that it is not a gold mine at all.
What? said Sir William, grasping the arms of his chair.
And that the whole thing, therefore, is going to pieces with every
penny invested in it.
Is itis it as bad as that? said the other, tremulously. No, no,
it can't be. Surely it can't be.
Do you mean to say you don't know? said Pateley.
I know nothing, said Sir William. I have heard nothing about it,
up to this moment.
One can't help wondering, said Pateley, that a man in your
responsible position towards it, the words struck Sir William like a
blow, should not have known, should not have inquired
I have been ill, you know, Sir William said nervously, I have not
been able to look into or understand anything. I have not been out of
the house yet. I could not go to the City or do any business.
Yes, I see that, said Pateley, and I am sorry to be obliged to
thrust a business discussion upon you now
Sir William looked up at him quickly, anxiously.
But the fact is, at this moment the business won't wait. If you
remember, when the 'Equator' Company was first started, I, like many
others, invested in it, having asked your opinion of it first, and
having heard from you that you were going to be the Chairman of the
Board of Directors.
I believed in it, you know, Sir William said, with eagerness; I
put a lot of money into it myself.
I know you did, yes, said Pateley, but you fortunately had
a lot to do it with, and also a lot of money to keep out of it. Every
one is not so happily situated. I blame myself, I need not say,
acutely, as well as others. And as Sir William looked at him sitting
there in his relentless strength, he felt that there was small mercy to
be expected at his hands.
I don't know, Sir William said, trying to speak with dignity,
that I was to blame. I believed in it, as others did.
No doubt, Pateley said. But I am afraid that will hardly be a
satisfactory explanation for the shareholders. The shares at this
moment are absolutely worthless.
But what can I do? said Sir William. What would you have me do?
It seems to me there is a rather obvious thing to be done, said
Pateley. It is to help to make good the losses of the people who,
through you, will beand he pausedruined.
Ruined! Sir William repeated, No, noit cannot be as bad as
that. It is terrible, he muttered to himself. It is terrible.
Yes, it is terrible, said Pateley, and even something uglier.
But, Sir William said miserably, I don't know that I can be
blamed for it. Anderson, who is absolutely honest, reported on the
thing, and believed in it to the extent of spending all he had in
getting the rights to work it.
That is possible, Pateley said, but Anderson was not the chairman
of the company. You are.
Worse luck, Sir William said bitterly.
Yes, worse luck, Pateley said. Your name up to now has been an
honourable one. Sir William started and looked at him again. I am
afraid, Pateley went on, after this it may have, and he spoke as if
weighing his words, a different reputation.
Sir William cleared his throat and spoke with an effort.
Pateley, he said, you won't let that happen? You will make
it clear...? You have influence in the Press
I am afraid, Pateley said, that my influence, such as it is, must
on this occasion be exerted the other way. Of course there is a good
deal at stake for me here, he went on, in a matter of fact tone which
carried more conviction than an outburst of emotion would have done. I
care for my sisters, and I am afraid I can't sit down and see
themswindled, or something very like it.
Not, swindled! said Gore angrily.
Well, Pateley said, that is really what it looks like to the
outsider, and that is what, as a matter of fact, it comes to.
Heaven knows I would make it right if I could, said Sir William,
but how can I?
Well, of course, on occasions of this kind, Pateley said, still in
the same everyday manner, as though judicially dealing with a fact
which did not specially concern him, it is sometimes done by the
simple process of the person responsible for the losses making them
goodmaking restitution, in fact.
I have told you, said Sir William, that I'm afraid that is
Ah then, I am sorry, Pateley said, in the tone of one determining,
as Sir William dimly felt, on some course of action. I thought some
possible course might have suggested itself to you.
No, I can suggest nothing, Sir William said, leaning back in his
chair, and feeling that neither mind nor body could respond at that
moment to anything that called for fresh initiative.
I thought that you might have other possibilities on the Stock
Exchange even, said Pateley, though I must say I don't see in what
direction. There is bound to be a panic the moment war is declared.
There was a pause. Sir William lay back in his chair looking vaguely
in front of him. Pateley sat waiting. Then Gore felt a strange flutter
at his heart as the full bearing of Pateley's last sentence dawned upon
Supposing, he said, trying to speak steadily, there were no war?
That is hardly worth discussing, said Pateley briefly, as he got
up. War, I am afraid, is practically certain. Then do I understand,
Sir William, he continued, that you can do nothing to help me in this
matter? If so, I am sorry. I had hoped I might have spared you some
discomfort, but since you can do nothing He broke off and looked
quickly out of the window, then said in explanation, It is only a
hansom stopping next door; I thought it might be Rendel coming back.
But I was mistaken.
Sir William realised that every instant was precious.
Pateley, he said, look here. If you could wait a day or two
Do you mean, said Pateley, that if I were to wait there would be
a chance of your being able to do something?
I don't know, said Sir William, I am not sure, but there might be
a turn in public affairs; the panic might be over, there might be a
chance of peace.
If that is all, Pateley said quite definitely, I am afraid that
prospect is not enough to build upon. I can't afford to wait on that
Sir William got up and spoke quickly with a visible effort.
Look here, listen... I have a reason for thinking that is the way
things may be turning.
A reason? said Pateley, turning round upon him.
Yes, said Sir William.
What is it? said Pateley.
Sir William felt his courage failing him in the desperate game he
had begun to play. It was no good pausing now. He stood facing Pateley,
holding a folded paper in his hand, no longer hidden by the newspaper
which had slid from his grasp on to the ground. He looked at the paper
in his hand mechanically. Mechanically Pateley's eye followed his. The
conviction suddenly came to him that Gore was not speaking at random.
Sir William, he said, time presses, and unconsciously they both
looked towards the window into the street. At any moment Rendel might
draw up again. If you have any reason for what you are saying, tell
meif not, I must leave you to see what can be done.
I have a reason, said Sir William, the strongest, for believing
that there will be peace.
Pateley looked at him. Give me a proof? he said, with the accent
of a man who is wasting no words, no intentions.
Sir William's hand tightened over the paper. If I gave you a
proof, he said, would you swear not to take any proceedings against
the 'Equator' Company?
If you gave me a proof, yesI would swear, said Pateley.
And you will keep the things out of the papers, Sir William went
on hurriedly, till I have had time to see my way?
Yes, said Pateley again.
And my name shall not appear in the matter?
Nono, Pateley said, in spite of himself breathlessly and
hurriedly, more excited than he wished to show. Sir William paused and
looked towards the window. All right, said Pateley, you have time.
Quick! What is it?
There is going, Sir William said, I am almost certain, to be an
understanding, an agreement between England and Germany about this
business in Africa.
Impossible! said Pateley.
Yes, said Sir William, hardly audibly.
Give me the proof, Pateley said, coming close to him and in his
excitement making a movement as though to take the paper out of Gore's
Wait, wait! Sir William said. No, you mustn't do that! and he
staggered and leant back against the chimneypiece. Pateley had no time
to waste in sympathy.
Look here, if you don't give it to me, show me what it is.
Yes, yes, I will show it you, Sir William said, only you are not
to take it, you are not to touch it.
Pateley signed assent, and Sir William unfolded the map of Africa
and held it up with a trembling hand.
What! said Pateley, at first hardly grasping what he saw. Then its
full significance began to dawn upon him. Africaa partition of
Africa between Germany and England! Do you mean to say that is it?
Yes, Sir William said. But for Heaven's sake don't touch it,
don't take it out of my hand, he said again, nervously conscious that
his own strength was ebbing at every moment, and that if the resolute,
dominant figure before him had chosen to seize on the paper, nothing
could have prevented his doing so.
Well, at any rate, let me have a good look at it, Pateley said,
the coast is still clear, and as he went to the window to give
another look out, he took something out of his breast pocket. Now
then, he said, turning back to Sir William, hold it up in the light
so that I can have a good look at it; and as Sir William held it in
the light of the window, Pateley, as quick as lightning, drew his tiny
camera out of his pocket. There was a click, and the map of Africa had
been photographed. Pateley unconsciously drew a quick breath of relief
as he put the machine back. Sir William, as white as a sheet, dropped
his hands in dismay.
Good Heavens! What have you done? Have you photographed it?
Yes, said Pateley, trying to control his own excitement, and
recovering his usual tone with an effort. That's all, thank you. It is
much the simplest form of illustration.
Illustration! What are you going to do with it? Sir William said,
That depends, said Pateley. I must see how and when I can use it
to the best advantage.
You have sworn, Sir William said tremulously, that you won't say
where you got it from.
Of course I won't, Pateley said, gradually returning to his usual
burly heartiness. Now, may I ask where you got it from?
I got it out of there, Sir William said, pointing to the table. A
corner of it was sticking out.
Might I suggest that you should put it back again? said Pateley.
Good Heavens, yes! said Gore. I had forgotten. And he nervously
folded it up and dropped it through the slit of the table.
Ha, that's safer, said Pateley, with a short laugh. You should
not lose your head over these things, and he gave a swift look down
the street again. Now I must go. I am going straight to the City, and
I'll tell you what I shall do, and his manner became more emphatic as
he went on, as though answering some objection. I'm going to buy up
the whole of the 'Equator' shares on the chance of a rise, and perhaps
some Cape to Cairo too, and then we'll see. Now, can't I do something
for you too? Won't you buy something on the chance of a rise?
Sir William had sunk into a chair. He shook his head.
I am too tired to think, he said. I don't know.
Well, you leave it to me, Pateley said, and I'll do something for
youand if things go as we think, by next week you will be in a
position to make good the losses of all London two or three times over.
I'll let you know what happens, and what I've been able to do.
Thank you, Sir William said again feebly.
The news will soon pick you up, said Pateley heartily, as he shook
him by the hand. No, don't get up; I can find my way out. Goodbye.
And a moment later he passed the window, striding away towards
Sir William remained lying back in his chair, looking up at the
ceiling, too much exhausted by the excitement of the last few minutes
to realise entirely what had happened, but with a vague, agonised
consciousness that he had done something irrevocable, something that
mattered supremely. But to try even to conceive what might be the
consequence of it so made his heart throb and his head whirl that all
he could do was to put it away from him with as much effort as he had
strength to make. It was so that Rachel found him, when she came gaily
in a few minutes later from a shopping expedition in Sloane Street,
eager to tell him of all her little doings, and of some acquaintances
she had met in the street. He looked at her and tried to smile.
Fatherfatherdear father! she said in consternation. What is
it? Are you not so well?
Yes, yes, he said nervously, trying to speak in something like his
ordinary voice. I amtired, that's all.
You have been up too long, she said anxiously.
I don't think it's that, he said.
But where is Frank? asked Rachel. I thought, of course, that he
was with you. That was why I went out. I had no idea you would be
Lord Stamfordham came, said Sir William, feeling like one who is
forced to approach something that horrifies him, and who dares not look
it in the face. Frank went out with him.
Lord Stamfordham! Again! said Rachel amazed.
Yes, said Sir William, leaning back with his eyes closed, as
though unable to expend any of his feeble strength on surprise or
wonder, much less on attempts at explanation. And as Rachel looked at
him her solicitude overcame every other thought.
Darling, she said, do come back to your own room. Let's go
No, no, said Sir William quickly, feeling, even though he thought
of Rendel's return with absolute terror, that it would be better to
know the worst at once without waiting in suspense for the blow to
fall. I'll wait till Rendel comes in.
But he shall go up to you at once, Rachel urged. Do come up now,
At that moment, however, the question of whether they should wait or
not for Rendel's return was settled for them, for his latchkey was
heard turning in the front door. He came into the room with such an air
as a winged messenger of victory might wear, unconscious of his
surroundings and of the road he traverses as he speeds along. Rachel
looked at him, and forbore to utter either the inquiry that sprang to
her lips or any appeal for sympathy about her father's condition.
I've got to finish some writing, Rendel said, bringing back his
thoughts with visible effort. And he went quickly to the writing-table,
opening it with the key of his watch-chain. Sir William dared not look.
He tried to remember what had happened when he so hurriedly put the
paper back; he wondered whether it had stuck in the slit, or if it had
gone properly through and fallen straight among the others. There was a
pause during which he sat up and gripped the arms of his chair,
listening as if for life. Nothing had happened apparently. Rendel had
drawn up his chair and was writing again busily. Sir William fell back
again and closed his eyes as a flood of relief swept over him, Rachel
sitting by him quietly, her hand laid gently on his. Rendel went on
writing, transcribing from some more rough pencil notes he had brought
in in his hand, then, having quickly rung the bell, he proceeded to do
the whole thing up in a packet and seal it securely.
I want this taken to Lord Stamfordham at once, he said, as the
servant came into the room. And, Thacker, I should like you to go with
it yourself, please. It's very important, and I want it to be given
into his own hand. If he isn't in, please wait.
Yes, sir, said Thacker, taking the precious packet and departing,
with a secret thrill of wondering excitement.
Rendel pulled down the lid of the table, drawing a sort of long
breath as he did so, like one who has cleared the big fence immediately
in front of him, and is ready for the next. Sir William's breath was
coming and going quickly.
I'm afraid you don't look very fit for chess, Sir William, he said
kindly, struck with his father-in-law's look of haggard anxiety and
No, Sir William said feebly, not to-day, I'm afraid.
I'm sorry to see you like this, Rendel said. Let me help you
upstairs. What have you been doing with yourself since I left you? You
don't look nearly so well as when you came down.
I feel a little faint, Sir William said. It would be better for
me to go and rest now, perhaps. And leaning on Rendel's arm, and
followed solicitously by Rachel, he went upstairs.
The night passed slowly and restlessly for Sir William Gore,
although he slept from sheer exhaustion, and even when he was not
sleeping was in a state of semi-coma, without any clear perception of
what had happened. But in his dreams he lived through one quarter of an
hour of the day before, over and over and over again, always with the
same result, always with the same sense of some unexpected, horrible,
shameful catastrophe, that was to lead to his utter humiliation. That
was the impression that still remained when at last the morning came,
and he finally awoke to the life of another day. Over and over again he
went over the situation as he lay there, Pateley's words ringing in his
ears, his looks present before him. Again he felt the sensation of
absolute sickness at his heart that had gripped him at the moment he
had realised that the map had been photographed, passing as much out of
his own power as though he had given it to a man in the street. Does
any one really acknowledge in his inmost soul that he has on a given
occasion done wrong, without an immeasurable qualifying of that word,
without a covert resentment at the way other people may label his
action? There is but one person in the world who even approximates to
knowing the history of any given deed. The very fact of snatching it
from its context puts it into the wrong proportion, the fact of
contemplating it as though it were something deliberate, separate,
complete in itself, apart from all that has led up to it, apart from
the complication and pressure of circumstance. Sir William went over
and over again in his mind all that had happened the day before, trying
to realise under what aspect his actions would appear to othersover
and over again, until everything became blurred and he hardly knew
under what aspect they appeared to himself. He felt helplessly
indignant with Fate, with Chance, that had with such dire results made
him the plaything of a passing impulse. Then with the necessity of
finding an object for his anger, his thoughts turned first to Rendel,
who had primarily put him in the position of gaining the knowledge he
had used to such disastrous effect, and then to Pateley, who had taken
it from him.
It is unpleasant enough for a child, at a time of life generally
familiar with humiliation and chastisement, to see the moment nearing
when his guilt will be discovered: but it is horrible for a man who is
approaching old age, who is dignified and respected, suddenly to find
himself in the position of having something to conceal, of being
actually afraid of facing the judgment and incurring the censure of a
younger man. And at that moment Gore felt as if he almost hated the man
whose hand could hurl such a thunderbolt. Then his thoughts turned to
Pateley, to the probable result of his operations in the City. In the
other greater anxiety which he himself had suddenly imported into his
life, that first care, which yet was important enough, of the
Equator, had almost sunk out of sight. Would the mine turn out to be
a gold mine after all? What would Pateley be able to do? Would he be
able to make enough to cover his liabilities? and his head swam as he
tried to remember what these might amount to.
In the meantime Rendel, in a very different frame of mind from that
of his father-in-law, or, indeed, from that of his own of the night
before, filled with a buoyant thrill of expectation, with the sense
that something was going to happen, that everything might be going to
happen, was looking out into life as one who looks from a watch tower
waiting on fortune and circumstances, waiting confident and
well-equipped without a misgiving. The day was big with fate: a day on
which new developments might continue for himself, the thrill of
excitement of the night before, the sense of being in the foreground,
of being actually hurried along in the front between the two giants who
were leading the way. The dining-room was ablaze with sunshine as he
came into it, and in the morning light sat Rachel, looking up at him
with a smile when he came into the room.
What an excellent world it is, truly! said Rendel, as he came
across the room.
I am glad it is to your liking, she answered.
You look very well this morning, said Rendel, looking at her,
which means very pretty.
I don't feel so especially pretty, said Rachel, with something
between a smile and a sigh.
Don't you? Don't have any illusions about your appearance, said
Rendel. Don't suppose yourself to be plain, please.
I am not so sure, said Rachel, as she began pouring out the tea.
What is the matter with you? said Rendel. What fault do you find
with the world, and your appearance?
I am perturbed about my father, she said, her voice telling of the
very real anxiety that lay behind the words. I don't think he is as
well as he was yesterday.
Don't you? said Rendel, more gravely. I am very sorry. What is
I can't think, Rachel answered. He may have done too much
He certainly looked terribly tired, said Rendel.
Terribly, said Rachel, but I can't imagine why. He had been so
absolutely quiet all the afternoon.
Well, you take care of him to-day, said Rendel, unable to
eliminate the cheerful confidence from his voice.
I shall indeed, said Rachel.
Oh, he'll come all right again, never fear, said Rendel. You
mustn't take too gloomy a view.
You certainly seem inclined to take a cheerful one this morning,
said Rachel, half convinced in spite of herself that all was well.
Well, I do, said Rendel. I must say that in spite of the
prevalent opinion to the contrary, I feel inclined this morning to say
that the scheme of the universe is entirely right; it is just to my
liking. The sunshine, and my breakfast, and my wife
I am glad I am included, she said.
And the day to live through. What can a man wish for more?
It sounds as though you had everything you could possibly want,
certainly, said Rachel, smiling at him.
I don't know, said Rendel, reflecting, if it is that quite. The
real happiness is to want everything you can possibly get. That is the
best thing of all.
And not so difficult, I should think, said Rachel.
I am not sure, said Rendel. I am not sure that it is quite an
easy thing to have an ardent hold on life. Some people keep letting it
down with a flop. But I feel as if I could hold it tight this morning
at any rate. I do not believe there is a creature in the wide world
that I would change places with at this moment, he went on, the force
of his ardent hope and purpose breaking down his usual reserve.
You are very enthusiastic to-day, Frank, she said.
Well, one can't do much without enthusiasm, said Rendel,
continuing his breakfast with a satisfied air, but with it one can
move the world.
Is that what you are going to do? said Rachel.
Yes, said Rendel nodding.
Frank, I wonder if you will be a great man?
Can you doubt it? said Rendel.
Supposing, she said, some day you were a sort of Lord
That is rather a far cry, he replied. By the way, I wonder where
the papers are this morning? Why are they so late?
They will come directly, Rachel said. It is a very good thing
they're late, you can eat your breakfast in peace for once without
knowing what has happened.
That is not the proper spirit, said Rendel smiling, for the wife
of a future great man.
The only thing is, said Rachel, that if you did become a great
man, I don't think I should be the sort of wife for you. I am very
stupid about politics, don't you think so? I don't understand things
I think you are exactly the sort of wife I want, said Rendel, and
that is enough for me. That is the only thing necessary for you to
understand. I don't believe you do understand it really.
Then are you quite sure, she said, half laughing and half in
earnest, that you don't like politics better than you do me?
Absolutely certain, said Rendel, with a slight change of tone that
told his passionate conviction. I wish you could grasp that in
comparison with you, nothing matters to me.
Nothing? she repeated.
There is nothing, said Rendel, looking at her, that I would not
sacrifice to youmy career, my ambitions, anything you asked for.
I am glad, she said, that you like me so much, but I don't want
you to make sacrifices, and she spoke in all unconsciousness of the
number of small sacrifices, of an unheroic aspect perhaps, that Rendel
was daily called upon to make for her sake.
At this moment Thacker came in with the morning papers, which he
laid on the table at Rendel's elbow.
Now then you are happy, said Rachel lightly. Now you can bury
yourself in the papers and not listen to anything I say.
I wonder if there is anything about Stoke Newton and old Crawley's
resignation, said Rendel, quite prepared to follow her advice. I
don't suppose he takes a very jovial view of life just now, poor old
boy. Oh, how I should hate to be on the shelf!
I don't think you are likely to be, for the present, said Rachel.
And then Rendel, pushing his chair a little away from the table,
opened the papers wide, and began scanning them one after another, with
the mild and pleasurable excitement of the man who feels confidently
abreast of circumstances. Then, as he took up the Arbiter, his
eye suddenly fell upon a heading that took his breath away. What was
this? He dropped the paper with a cry.
What is it, Frank? said Rachel startled.
Good Heavens! what have they done that for? he said, springing to
his feet in uncontrollable excitement.
Done what? said Rachel.
Why, they have announcedthey have put in something that Lord
Stamfordham He snatched up the paper again and looked at it
eagerly. It is incredible! and the map too, the very map, at this
stage! Well, upon my word, he has made a mistake this time, I do
believe. And he still gazed at the paper as though trying to fathom
the whole hearing of what he saw.
At this moment the door opened, and Thacker came in.
Sir William wished me to ask you for some foolscap paper, ma'am,
please, he said, with lines on it.
Foolscap paper? What is he doing? said Rachel anxiously.
He is writing, ma'am, said Thacker. He seems to be doing
Oh, I wish he wouldn't! Rachel said. I must go and see. I'll
bring the foolscap paper myself, Thacker. Frank, there is some in your
study, isn't there?
What? said Rendel, who, still absorbed in what he had just seen,
had only dimly heard their colloquy.
Some foolscap paper, she repeated. There is some in your study?
Yes, yes, in my writing-table, he said absently.
Rachel went quickly out of the room. At that moment the hall door
bell rang violently. Rendel started and went to the window. In the
phase of acute tension in which he found himself, every unexpected
sound carried an untold significance, but he was not prepared for what
this one betokened: Lord Stamfordham in the street, dismounting from
his horse. Stamfordham was accustomed to ride every morning from eight
till nine, alone and unattended. Thacker hurried out to hold the horse.
Rendel followed him and met Stamfordham on the doorstep. He led the way
quickly across the hall into his study and shut the door. They both
felt instinctively that greetings were superfluous.
Have you seen the Arbiter? Stamfordham said.
Yes, said Rendel, looking him straight in the face with eager
So have I, said Stamfordham, at the German Embassy. I had not
seen it before leaving home, but I saw a poster at the corner, and I
went straight to Bergowitz to ask him what it meant; he is as much in
the dark as I am.
In the dark! said Rendel, looking at him amazed. What! butwas
it not you who published it?
I publish it? said Stamfordham. Do you mean to say you
thought I had?
Of course I did! who else? said Rendel.
Who else? Stamfordham repeated. I have come here to ask you
To ask me? said Rendel, bewildered. How should I know? I
have not seen those papers since I gave the packet sealed to Thacker to
take it to you.
And I received it, said Stamfordham, sealed and untampered with,
and opened it myself, and it has not been out of my keeping since.
But at the German Embassy, said Rendel, since it was
The substance of the interview was telegraphed, said Stamfordham,
but not the mapnot the map, he said emphatically. That map
no one has seen besides Bergowitz, you, and myself. Bergowitz it would
be quite absurd to suspect, he is as genuinely taken back as I amI
know that it didn't get out through me, and therefore he paused
and looked Rendel in the face.
What! said Rendel, with a sort of cry. A horrible light, an
incredible interpretation was beginning to dawn upon him. You can't
think it was through me?
What else can I think? said StamfordhamRendel still looked at
him aghastsince the papers after I gave them into your keeping were
apparently not out of it until they passed into mine again? I brought
them to you here myself. Of course I see now I ought not to have done
so, but how could I have imagined
Rendel hurriedly interrupted him.
Lord Stamfordham, not a soul but myself can have had access to
those papers. I went out of the room, it is true, and he went rapidly
over in his mind the sequence of events the day before, for a short
half-hour perhaps, when you came back here and I went out with you, but
before leaving the room I remember distinctly that I shut the cover of
my writing-table down with the spring, and tried it to see that it was
shut, and then unlocked it myself when I came back.
Was any one else in the room? said Stamfordham.
Yes, said Rendel, and a sudden idea occurred to him, to be
dismissed as soon as entertained, Sir William Gore.
Gore? said Stamfordham, looking at Rendel, but forbearing any
comment on his father-in-law.
It was quite impossible, Rendel said decidedly, answering
Stamfordham's unspoken words, that he could have got at the papers;
for, as I told you, when I came back again they were exactly where I
had left them, and the thing locked with this very complicated key, and
he showed it hanging on his chain.
It is evident, Stamfordham repeated inflexibly, that some one
must have got hold of it with or without your knowledge. I warned you
yesterday, you remember, about taking yourany one in your household
into your confidence.
And I did not, Rendel said, grasping his meaning. My wife did not
even know that I had the papers to transcribe. She does not know it
Stamfordham paused a moment. He could not in words accuse Rendel's
wife, whatever his silence might imply. Then he spoke with emphatic
Rendel, he said, by whatever means the thing happened, we must
know how. I must have an explanation.
Rendel was powerless to speak.
For you must see, Stamfordham went on, what a terrible
catastrophe this might have beenthe danger is not over yet, in fact,
although I may be strong enough for my colleagues to condone the fact
that the public has been told of this before themselves, and the
country may be strong enough for foreign Powers to do the same. But, as
a personal matter, I must know how it got out, and I repeat, I must
have an explanation. For your own sake you must explain.
Rendel felt as if the ground were reeling under his feet.
I will try, he said, still feeling as if he were in some wild
When you have made inquiries, Stamfordham said, still speaking in
a brief tone of command, you had better come and tell me the result. I
shall be at the Foreign Office till twelve.
Till twelve. Very well, said Rendel, feeling as if there was a
dark chasm between himself and that moment. Mechanically he let Lord
Stamfordham out, and stood as the latter mounted and rode away. Then he
turned back into the house.
He went into the dining-room firstRachel was still upstairsand
picked up the Arbiter again, looking at it with this new,
terrible interpretation of what he saw in it. There it was, as damning
evidence as ever a man was convicted upon, the map that no one but
himself and the two principals had seen, reproduced, roughly it is
true, but still unmistakably, from the paper that he alone in the house
had had in his possession. He turned hurriedly to the brief but guarded
commentary evolved at a venture by Pateley, but nevertheless very near
the truth. Pateley had played a bold game indeed, but he was playing it
as skilfully and watchfully as was his wont. Rendel threw down the
paper with a gesture of despair, then clenched his hands. If he had
been a woman he would have wept from sheer misery and agitation. But it
was of no good to clench his hands in despair; every moment that passed
ought to be used to find out the truth of what had happened, to clear
himself from that nightmare of suspicion.
He went hurriedly across the hall to his study with the instinct of
one who feels that on the spot itself there may be some suggestion to
help discovery. His writing-table was locked. He tried it, shook it.
The key, one of a peculiar make, hung always on his watch-chain. It was
quite impossible that, save by one who had the key, the table should
have been opened. What had he done yesterday? What had happened? And he
sat down and buried his face in his hands, concentrating his thoughts,
trying to recall every incident. The first time that Stamfordham had
come in and given him the rough notes and the map, he, Rendel, had been
alone. There was no doubt of that. After that who came in? Rachel? No,
Rachel had not been in the room with the papers except just at the end
when Rendel was sealing up the packet. Besides, if Rachel had had a
hundred secrets in her possession, they would have been as safe as in
his own. Then he caught himself upin his own! after all, he was
suspectedso the impossible idea, apparently, could be entertained.
Then the thought of Sir William Gore came into his mind, but only to be
instantly dismissed, for since the papers were locked up in Rendel's
writing-table they must have been as inaccessible to Sir William as
though they had been separated from him by the walls of several
apartments. And there was one thing pretty certain: Gore, supposing him
to be capable of using it, had not got a duplicate key. Even he,
Rendel found himself thinking, would not do that. He heard Rachel's
step swiftly descend the stairs and go into the dining-room, then she
came quickly across the hall to the study.
Oh, there you are, Frank, she said. My father is then she
broke off as she saw that he was apparently buried in painful thought
from which he roused himself with a start as she spoke. Is anything
I will tell you, said Rendel, speaking with an effort.
May I just ask you something first? said Rachel hurriedly. I want
some foolscap paper for my father. He is so restless this morning, so
It is in thereI told you, didn't I? said Rendel, turning round
and pointing to one of the drawers at the side of his table.
In that drawer! said Rachel. How very stupid of me! I didn't
think of that. I thought it was in the top part, and I could only get
one sheet out of there.
The top? Wasn't the top locked? said Rendel quickly, his whole
thought concentrated on the problem before him, and the part of the
table must have played in the drama that affected him so nearly.
Yes, it was, said Rachel smiling, and I couldn't open it, but
there was a little tiny corner of ruled paper sticking out, so I pulled
it, and out it came.
Rendel started and looked at her.
It is sweetly simple, she added.
Yes, said Rendel, with an energy that surprised her. It would
come out quite easily, of course.
Frank, she said, surprised, what is it? You didn't mind my
pulling it out, did you?
Of course not; I don't mind your doing anythingonlyI didn't
realise that things could be got out of my writing-table in that way.
Well, you must be sure to poke them in further next time, Rachel
said lightly, shutting again the side drawer to which she had been
directed, and out of which she had got some sheets of foolscap. I will
be back directly.
Wait one moment, said Rendel. Lord Stamfordham has been here.
Lord Stamfordham! Since I went upstairs? said Rachel, standing
still in sheer surprise.
Yes, said Rendel. Some secret information thatI knew about, has
got into the paper and is published this morning.
Oh, Frank, how terrible! said Rachel. How did it happen? Do they
Yes, they mind, Rendel said.
Was that what you saw in the paper, Rachel said, that excited you
Yes, said Rendel.
I don't wonder, Rachel said, standing with her hand on the handle
of the door, an attitude of all others least inviting of confidence.
Who let it out?
That is what we want to know, said Rendel. That is what Lord
Stamfordham came here to ask.
Well, he doesn't think it was you, I suppose, said Rachel, smiling
at the absurd suggestion.
It is quite possible, Rendel said, with a dim idea that he would
lead up to the statement, that he mightthat he does.
What! said Rachel, opening her eyes wide. Frank! how absurd!
So it seems to me, said Rendel sombrely.
Too ridiculous!I'll come down in one moment, Rachel said
apologetically. I don't want to keep my father waiting.
Don't say anything to him, said Rendel, of what I have just been
saying to you.
Oh, no, I won't indeed, Rachel said. He ought not to have
anything to excite him to-day, and she went rapidly upstairs.
Rendel, as the door closed behind her, felt for the moment like a
man who, shipwrecked alone, has seen a vessel draw near to him and then
pass gaily on its way without bringing him help. What was to be done?
Again he took hold of the situation and looked it in the face. But now
a new light had been thrown upon it by Rachel. If a paper could be
taken out in the way that she had shown him, it was possible that Gore
might have obtained the map in the same way, though it still seemed to
Rendel exceedingly unlikely that, granted he had done so, he would have
been able, given the condition he was in, to act upon it soon enough
for it to appear this morning. He hesitated a moment, then he made up
his mind to wait no longer. He took up the Arbiter and went
upstairs to Sir William's room. He met Rachel coming out.
Oh, thank you, she said, as she saw the paper. I was just coming
down to fetch that. Father would like to see it.
I thought I would bring it up, Rendel said. I want to speak to
him a moment.
Rachel looked alarmed.
Frank, you will be careful, won't you? she said. He really is not
in a fit state to discuss anything this morning.
I am afraid what I have to say won't wait, Rendel said. I think I
had better speak to him alone. And he quite unmistakably waited for
Rachel to go her way before he went into Sir William's room and shut
the door. Sir William, wrapped in his dressing-gown, was sitting up in
an easy chair. On the table near him were sheets of foolscap paper
covered with figures, and lying beside them a letter with a bold,
splotchy writing, which he quickly moved out of sight as Rendel came
in, a letter that had told him of certain successful financial
operations undertaken in the City on his behalf. His face was pale and
haggard. He looked up, as he saw Rendel come into the room, with an
expression almost of terror, dashed however with resentment. In his
mind at that moment, his son-in-law was the embodiment of the fate
that, in some incredible way, had, as it were, turned him, Sir William
Gore, who had hitherto spent his life in the sunshine of position, of
dignity, of the deserved respect of his fellow-creatures, out into a
chill storm of circumstances, absolutely alone, into some terrible
world where, instead of walking upright among his fellow-men, he was,
by no fault of his own, he kept repeating to himself, hurrying along
with a burden on his back, crouching, fearing observation, fearing
detection. That burden was almost intolerable. He had been trying to
distract his thoughts and seek some cold comfort by making calculations
based upon the letter he had received from Pateley, but all the time,
behind it lay ice-cold and immovable the thought of the price at which
Pateley's co-operation had been bought, of the moment of reckoning with
Rendel that must come when the sands should have run out their
appointed time. So much had he suffered, so much had he been dominated
by this thought, that when the door opened and Rendel finally came in,
the moment brought a sort of relief. Rendel, on the other hand, when he
saw Sir William looking so old, so white and feeble, suddenly felt his
purpose arrested. It was impossible, surely, that this old man, with
the worn, handsome face and pathetically anxious expression, could have
had a hand in a diabolical machination, and the thought that it was
unlikely came to him with a gleam of comfort. Then as quick as
lightning came a reaction of wonderment as to what hypothesis was to
take the place of this one. At any rate, there was only one thing to be
done: to tell Gore the story without a moment's further delay.
Good morning, Sir William, he said. I am sorry to hear you are
not well this morning.
Not very, Gore said, trying to speak calmly, and involuntarily
looking at the newspaper in Rendel's hand.
I hear you were asking for the Arbiter, Rendel said.
Yes, I should like to see it, Gore replied, when you have done
I want you to see it, Rendel said. There is something in it which
matters a great deal. Gore felt a sudden grip at his heart. He said
nothing. Here it is, said Rendel, and he handed him the paper, folded
so as to show the startling headings in big letters and the rough
facsimile of the map. Gore looked at it. The whole thing swam before
his eyes; he held it for a moment, trying desperately to think what he
had better say, but he could find no anchorage anywhere.
That is very surprising, he said finally. As far as I can see,
it'sit's a partition of Africa between England and Germany? Is that
it? I can't see very well this morning.
That is it, said Rendel.
Yes, that is very important, Gore said, leaning back and letting
the paper slide from his grasp. Most important, and he was silent
again, waiting in an agony of suspense for what Rendel's next words
would be. Rendel, scarcely less agitated, was trying to choose them
I am very sorry, he began, to have to tire and worry you about
this when you are not well, but I have a particular reason for talking
to you about it.
Pray go on, Gore managed to say under his breath.
I have a special reason, said Rendel, for wanting to remember
what happened in my study yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday afternoon? said Gore. Did anything particular happen?
That is what I want to know, said Rendel, trying to speak calmly
and quietly. You will oblige me very much if you will try to remember
exactly what happened all the time, from the moment you came into the
room until you left it.
Gore made an effort to pull himself together. There was no
difficulty, alas! for him in remembering every single thing that had
taken placethe difficulty was not to show that he remembered too
When I came in, he said, endeavouring to speak in an ordinary
tone, you were at your writing-table.
I was, said Rendel, watching him.
And then I sat down in an armchair and read the Mayfair Gazette
and he stopped.
Yes. All that, Rendel said, I remember, of course. Thacker came
in telling me Lord Stamfordham was there, and I rushed out, shutting
the roller top of my writing-table, which closes with a spring. I was
especially careful to shut it, as it had valuable papers in it.
Indeed? said Sir William, almost inaudibly.
Yes, and among them, Rendel said, watching the effect of his
words, a mapthat map of Africa which is reproduced this morning in
In your writing-table? Gore said, with quivering lips.
Yes, in my writing-table, out of which it must have been taken.
That is very serious, Gore forced himself to say.
It is very serious, said Rendel, as you will see. When I came
back and had finished my work on the papers I did them up myself in a
packet and sent them to Lord Stamfordham.
Your messenger was not trustworthy, apparently, said Gore,
My messenger was Thacker, Rendel said, who is absolutely
trustworthy. Lord Stamfordham himself told me that he had received the
packet with my seal intact.
Still, said Gore, servants have been known to sell State secrets
But not Thacker, said Rendel. However, of course I shall ask him;
I must ask every one in the house, for it must have been by some one
here that the thing was done, that the map was got out.
I thought you said the table was locked?
It was locked, yes, said Rendel, but I have learnt this morning
that papers can be pulled out from under the lid. Rachel got a piece of
foolscap paper for you in that way.
Did she? said Gore, feeling that he had unwittingly supplied one
link in the chain of evidence.
There was only one person, so far as I know, said Rendel, in the
room while that paper was in my desk, who could have pulled it out and
looked at it, and apparently made an unwarrantable use of it. The
question that he expected to hear from Gore did not follow. Rendel
waited, then he went on, That person wasyou.
What do you mean? said Gore, sitting up, his colour going and
My words, I think, are quite plain, Rendel said. I mean that all
the evidence, circumstantial, I grant, pointsyou must forgive me if I
am wronging youto your having taken out the map.
Will you please give me your reasons for this extraordinary
accusation? said Gore.
Yes, said Rendel, I will. And he spoke more and more rapidly as,
his self-control at length utterly broken down, and his emotion having
gained entire possession of him, he felt the fierce joy of those who,
habitually watchful of their words, yield once or twice in their lives
to the impulse of letting them flow out unchecked in an overwhelming
flood. You alone were in the room with the papers; your prepossessions
are all against us; you spoke yourself just now of the value of a State
secret sold in the proper quarter; things are looking ugly about the
Do you mean to hint said Gore.
Rendel interrupted him quickly. No, not to hint, he said; hinting
is not in my line. I dare to say it out. I dare to say that in one of
those moments of aberration, of deviation, whatever you choose to call
it, that sometimes descend upon the most unlikely people, you pulled
that paper out, from idle curiosity, I daresay, and finding out what it
was you sent it to the Arbiter.
You did well, said Gore bitterly, to keep your wife out of the
room while you were accusing me. I am old and defenceless, he said,
with lips trembling, and again an immense self-pity rushing over him.
I can't answer; I can't reply to a young man's violence.
I have no intention, Rendel said, still speaking with a passion
which intoxicated him, of being violent, but I must go on with this,
for Lord Stamfordham won't rest until it is sifted to the bottom, and
he is not a man to be trifled with. And as to your being defenceless,
good God! your best defence is Rachel's trust in you and devotion to
you. It is because of it that I wanted to spare her the knowledge of
what we have been saying. Her faith in your infallibility has always
seemed to me so touching that for her sake I have respected it. I have
triedHeaven knows I have tried!all this time to be to you what she
wished me to be. Gore stirred; he was quite incapable of speaking.
This is not the moment, Rendel went on, almost unconscious of his
words, which poured out in a flood, to keep up a hollow mockery of
trust and friendship, and it is more honest to tell you fairly that I
have not entirely shared her faith in you. I have always thought that,
like the rest of us after all, you were neither better nor worse than
most other fallible people in this world, and that you may be, as I
daresay we all are, fashioned by circumstances, or even by temptation.
And I tell you frankly that I believe that you did this thing that I
accuse you of. How, I demand to know. That, at any rate, is not more
than one man may ask of another.
Sir William winced and writhed helplessly under Rendel's words. The
intolerable discomfort and misery that he felt as the moment of
discovery drew near had given place gradually to a furious resentment
at what he was being made to endure at the hands of one who ought not
to have presumed to criticise him. As Rendel stood there, his clearly
cut face hard and stern, pouring out accusations and reproach, Gore
felt as if the younger man embodied all the adverse influences of his
own life. It was through Rendel that the fatal opportunity had come of
his getting himself into this terrible strait, Rendel: who, most
unjustly in the scheme of things, was daring to tax Gore with it. It
was too horrible to bear longer. He too felt that the time had come
when that with which his heart and soul were overflowing must find vent
in speech. As he heard Rendel's words of stern impeachment ringing in
his ears, I tell you frankly that I believe that you did this thing,
he rose desperately to his feet.
Well, he said, casting with a kind of horrible relief all
restraints and prudence to the winds, what if I had?
Rendel turned pale.
If you had? he said. You did it, then?
If I had, Gore went on quickly, it wouldn't have been a crime.
You can't know how easy it was for the thing to happen. I am not going
to tell youI am not going to justify myself And he went on with
a passionate need of self-vindication, drawing from his own words the
conviction that he had hardly been at fault.
Sir William, Rendel said hurriedly, tell me
It is easy enough, said Gore, for you to talk of faith and trust.
You need not grudge my child's faith in me. I have nothing else left
now. And as the two men looked at each other each in his soul had a
vision of the gracious presence that had always been by Sir William's
side: of one who would have believed in him, justified him, if the
whole world had accused him. Rendel suddenly paused as he was going to
Life is very easy for you, Gore went on in a rapid, trembling
voice. Oh, the relief of saying it all!
It is all quite plain sailing for you, you with whom everything
succeeds, you who are young and have your life before you. You have
time for the things that happen to you to be made right.
Don't let us discuss all that now, said Rendel, with an effort.
We are talking of something else that matters more than I can say. You
only can tell me
I will tell you nothing, said Gore loudly, excited and breathless,
speaking in gasps. One day when you are old and aloneand both of
these things may come to you as well as to other peopleyou will
understand what all this means to me.
Father, dear father! cried Rachel, coming in hurriedly. Anxious
and wretched at Rendel's interview with her father being so unduly
prolonged, she had wandered upstairs again, and when she heard the
excited and angry voices she could bear the suspense no longer. What
Gore sank back trembling into his chair as she came in, making signs
to her that for the moment he was unable to speak. A glance at him was
enough to show that it actually was so.
Oh, Frank! she cried, what have you done? I asked you not to
Wait, Rachel, wait! said Rendel, trying to speak calmly, feeling
that everything was at stake. Sir William, can you not tell me?
Gore feebly shook his head.
Frank! cried Rachel, amazed at his persistence. Oh, don't! Let me
implore you not to ask him anything more. Frank! do you mind leaving
him now? Oh, you must, you must, really. Look at him!
Sir William, white and exhausted, was leaning back in his chair with
his eyes closed. Rendel looked at her face of quivering anxiety as it
bent over her father, then turned slowly and left the room.
Rendel came downstairs, hardly conscious of what he was doing, a
wild conflict of emotion raging in his mind. He shut himself into his
study, and tried to distinguish clearly the threads of motive and
conduct that had become so hideously entangled. It sounds a simple
thing, doubtless, as well as a praiseworthy one, to discover the doer
of an evil deed, to convict him, to bring home to him what he has done,
and to prove the innocence of any other who may be suspected. Such a
course, when spoken of in general terms, gives a praiseworthy and
sustaining sense of a duty accomplished towards society. But it is in
reality a much more complicated operation than we are apt to think. The
evildoer, unfortunately for our sense of righteousness in prosecuting
him, is not always one who has unmixed evil instincts, and nearly every
contingency of human conduct becomes, as we contemplate it, many-sided
enough to be very confusing. And it was beginning to dawn upon Rendel
that, although it may fulfil the ends of abstract justice that the
guilty should be exposed and the innocent acquitted, such an act takes
an ugly aspect when the eager pursuer is himself the innocent man who
is to be vindicated, and the guilty one a weaker and defenceless person
who is to be put in his place. And yet, he said to himself bitterly,
as he tried to think of it impartially, if it were a question of any
one else's reputation and not of my own I should be bound to say who
the guilty man was. What was he to do? What could he do? He did not
know how long he had been sitting there when Rachel came quickly in.
Oh! Frank, she said, with a face of alarm, he's very ill. I'm
sure he is. I've sent for Dr. Morgan to come at once. He fainted after
you left, and he's only just come round again. Oh! I am terribly
anxious, and she looked at him, her lips quivering, then put her hands
before her eyes and burst into tears.
Rendel's heart smote him. Everything else, as he looked at her,
faded into the background. The thing that mattered was Rachel was the
woman he loved. It was he who had brought this grief upon her.
Darling, he said, I'm so sorry.
She shook her head and tried to smile.
Oh, she said, trying to suppress her tears, I ought not to have
left him. I daresay you didn't know, but it has done him the most
terrible harm. Did you tell him, then, aboutaboutthe thing you told
me of, that you had been suspectedof telling somethingwhat was it?
and she passed her hand over her forehead as if unable to think.
No, said Rendel, I didn't tell him that I had been accused
of it. I daresay he guessed I had. I told him it had happened.
But, Frank, why did you? she said. I implored you not.
Rachel, he said, do you realise what it means to me that I should
be accused of a thing like this?
Of course, yes, of course, she said, evidently still listening for
any sound from upstairs. But still a thing like that, that can be put
right in a few minutes, cannot matter so much as life and death....
And again her voice became almost inaudible.
There are some things, said Rendel in a low voice, that matter
more to a man than life and death.
Do you mean to say, said Rachel, that it matters more that you
should be supposed to have done something that you have not done, than
that my father should not get well?
Supposing your father had been wrongfully accused of something
underhand and dishonourable, said Rendel, would not that matter more
to him thanthananything else?
Rachel put up her hands with a cry as if to ward off a blow.
My father! she said, drawing away from Rendel. You must not say
such a thing. How could it be said?
You endure, said Rendel, that it should be said about me.
About you! That is different, she said, unable in the tension of
her overwrought nerves to choose her words. You are young, you can
defend yourself; but it is cruel, cruel of you to say that it might
happen to my father. You don't realise what my father is to me or you
couldn't say such things even without meaning them. No, you can't know,
you can't understand, or you couldn't, just for your own sake, have
gone to him to-day when he is so ill and told him things that excited
I think I do understand, Rendel said, forcing himself to speak
calmly. Of course I know, I have always known, perhaps not quite so
clearly as to-day, thatthathe must come first with you.
Oh! in some ways he must, he must, Rachel said, half entreatingly,
yet with a ring of determination in her voice. I promised my mother
that I would, as far as I could, take her place, and while he lives I
must. Frank, I would give up my life to save him suffering, as she
would have done. Ah! there is Doctor Morgan, and she left the room
hastily as a doctor's brougham stopped at the door.
Rendel stood perfectly still, looking straight before him, seeing
nothing, but gazing with his mind's eye on a universe absolutely
transformedthe bright, dancing lights had gone, it was overspread by
a dark, settled gloom. There were sounds outside. He was mechanically
conscious of Rachel's hurried colloquy with the doctor in the hall, of
their footsteps going upstairs. Then he roused himself. What would the
doctor's verdict be? But he could not remain now, he must hear it on
his return from the Foreign Office, he must now go as agreed to Lord
Stamfordham. But first, for form's sake, he rang for Thacker and
questioned him, and through him the rest of the household, without
result, except renewed and somewhat offended assurances from Thacker
that the packet had been given by himself into Stamfordham's own hands
and that, to his knowledge, no one but Sir William Gore had been in the
study during Rendel's absence. But Rendel knew in his heart that there
was no need to question any one further, and no advantage in doing so,
since he knew also that he could not use his knowledge.
He drove rapidly along in a hansom, unconscious of the streets he
passed through. Wherever he went he saw only Rachel's face of misery,
heard the words, just for your own sake, that had cut into him as
deeply as his own into Gore. Was that it? he asked himself, was it just
for his own sake, to clear himself, that he had accused Gore? Well, why
else? Once Stamfordham knew that the thing had been done, the secret
revealed, the name of the actual culprit would make no real difference.
It would make things neither easier nor more difficult for Stamfordham
to know that it had been done, not by himself, but by Sir William Gore.
But there was one person besides himself and Gore for whom everything
hung in the balance, and it was still with Rachel's face before him and
her words in his ears, that he went into Lord Stamfordham's private
Lord Stamfordham had been writing with a secretary, who got up and
went out as Rendel came in. How familiar the room was to Rendel! how
incredible it was that day after day he should have come therewas it
in some former state of existence?valued, welcome.
Well, what have you to tell me? Stamfordham said quickly.
Rendel's lips felt dry and parched; he spoke with an effort.
I am afraid, he said in a voice that sounded to him strangely
unlike his own, that I have ... nothing.
What? said Stamfordham. Have you not made any inquiries? Haven't
you asked every one in your house?
I have made inquiries, yes, said Rendel.
And do you mean to say that there is nothing that can throw any
light upon it, no possible solution?
I can throw no light, said Rendel.
But.... said Stamfordham. Is this all you are going to say? Have
you thought of no possibility? Have you no suggestion to offer?
I am afraid, said Rendel again, that I can offer none.
Lord Stamfordham sat silent for a moment, absolutely bewildered.
Part of his exceptional administrative ability was the almost unerring
judgment he displayed in choosing those he employed about him, and it
was an entirely new experience to him to have to suspect one of them,
or to impugn the ordinary code of honourable conduct. He found it
extremely difficult, autocrat as he was, to put it into words. He was
sore and angry at the grave indiscretion, if not something worse, that
had been committed, most of all that it should have been himself, the
great officer of state, in whom it was unpardonable to choose the wrong
tool, who had put that immeasurably important secret into the hands of
a man who had somehow or other let it escape from them; so much could
not be denied. It certainly seemed difficult to conceive that it should
be Rendel himself who had betrayed it, or that if he had betrayed it he
would not admit the fact. And yetcould it be?there was something in
Rendel's demeanour now that made it more possible than it had been an
hour ago to credit him with the shameful possibility. The pause during
which all this had rushed through Stamfordham's mind seemed to Rendel
to have lasted through untold ages of time, when Stamfordham at last
Rendel, he said, I have a right to demand that you should give me
more satisfaction than this. You say you have learnt nothing, and can
tell me nothing, but this I find impossible to believe. Rendel made a
movement. I am sorry, but I say this advisedly, since this disclosure
must have taken place in your house, and he underlined the words
emphatically. I can't think it possible that a man of your
intelligence should not have found some clue, some possible
I am very sorry, said Rendel. I'm afraid I have not.
Then, of course, it is obvious what conclusion I must come to,
said Lord Stamfordham. That it is not that you cannot give any
explanation, but that you decline to give it.
Rendel, to his intense mortification, felt that he was changing
colour. Stamfordham, looking at him earnestly, felt absolutely certain
that he knew.
Rendel, he said, gravely, take my advice before it is too late.
Don't let a wish to screen some one else prevent you from speaking. If
you have had the misfortune tolet the secret escape you, don't, to
shelter the person who published it, withhold the truth now. But I must
remind you also, and his words fell like strokes from a hammer, that
I am asking it for my own sake as well as yours. When I brought you
those papers, I trusted you fully and unreservedly, and now that this
catastrophe has happened in consequence of my confidence in you I am
entitled to know what has happened.
Yes, Rendel said. I quite see your position, and I know that you
have a right to resent mine, but all I can say is that he stopped,
then went on again with firmer accents, I don't suppose I can expect
you to believe me, but as a matter of fact I can't begin to conceive
the possibility of knowingly handing on to some one else such a secret
Knowingly, said Stamfordham, perhaps not, and he waited, to give
Rendel one more chance of speaking. But Rendel was silent. Then
Stamfordham went on in a different tone and with a perceptibly harsher
note in his voice. My time is so precious that I am afraid if you have
nothing further to tell me there is no good in prolonging the
Perhaps not, said Rendel, who was deadly white, and he made a
motion as though to go.
Do you realise, said Stamfordham, what this will mean to you?
Yes, said Rendel, I do.
Of course, said Stamfordham, what I ought to do is to insist on
the inquiry being continued until the matter is cleared up and brought
A strange expression passed over Rendel's face as there rose in his
mind a feeling that he instantly thrust out of sight again, that
supposingsupposingStamfordham himself investigated to the bottom
all that had happened, and that without any doing of his, Rendel's, the
truth were discovered? Then with horror he put the idea away. Rachel!
it would give Rachel just as great a pang, of course, whoever found it
out. The flash of impulse and recoil had passed swiftly through his
mind before he woke up, as it were, to find Stamfordham continuing
But I am willing for your sake to stop here.
Rendel tried to make some acknowledgment, but no words that he could
speak came to his lips.
It might, as I told you before, Stamfordham went on, standing up
as though to show that the interview was over, have been a national
disaster. That, however, has, I hope, been averted, and we shall simply
have done now something we meant to do a few days hence. But that does
not affect the point we have been discussing, and he looked at Rendel
as though with a forlorn hope that at the last moment he might speak.
But Rendel was silent still. You understand, then, Stamfordham said,
looking him straight in the face, an embodiment of inexorable justice,
what this means to a man in your position?
Yes, said Rendel again.
I owe my colleagues an explanation, said Stamfordham. Since one
is not to be had, I must repeat to them what has passed between us.
Of course, said Rendel. And he went towards the door.
There is another thing I must ask you, Stamfordham said, speaking
with cold courtesy. I have a letter here about Stoke Newton. It will
have to be settled. And he waited for Rendel to answer the question
which had not been explicitly asked.
I shall not stand, said Rendel.
That is best, said Stamfordham quietly. Will you telegraph to the
I will, said Rendel, and with an inclination of the head, to which
Lord Stamfordham responded, he went out.
Rendel up to this moment had been accustomed, unconsciously to
himself perhaps, to live, as most men of keen intelligence and
aspirations do live, in the future. The possibilities of to-day had
always had an added zest from the sense of there being a long,
magnificent expanse stretching away indefinitely in front of him, in
which to achieve what he would. In his moments of despondency he had
been able to conceive disaster possible, but it was always, after all,
such disaster as a man might encounter, and then, surmounting, turn
afresh to life. But of all possible forms of disaster that would have
occurred to him as being likely to come near himself, there was one
that he would have known could not approach him: there was one form of
misery from which, so far as human probabilities could be gauged, he
was safe. He had never imagined that he could in his own experience
learn what it meant, according to the customary phrase, to go under
because he could not hold his head up: to disappear from among the
honourable and the strenuous, to be dragged down by the weight of some
shameful deed which would make him unfit to consort with people of his
own kind. As he walked home he was not conscious, perhaps, of trying to
look his situation in the face, of trying to adjust himself to it. And
yet insensibly things began falling into shape, as particles of sand
gradually subside after a whirlwind and settle into a definite form.
Then Stamfordham's words rang in his ears: I must tell my colleagues.
It was a small fraction of the world in number, perhaps, that would
thus know how it happened, but they were, to Rendel, the only people
who matteredthe people, practically, in whose hands his own future
lay. He realised now as he had never done before in what calm
confidence he had in his inmost heart looked on that future, and most
of all how much, how entirely he had always counted on Lord
Stamfordham's good opinion of his integrity and worth. It was all gone.
What should he do? How should he take hold of life now?
As he waited at a corner to cross the road, he saw big newspaper
boards stuck up. The second edition of the other morning papers was
coming out with the news eagerly caught up from the Arbiter.
There it was in big letters, people stopping to read it as they passed:
Startling Disclosure. Unexpected Action of the Government. No power
on earth could stop that knowledge from spreading now. How it would
turn the country upside downwhat a fever of conjecture, what storms
of disapproval from some, of jubilation from others. What frantic
excitement was in store for the few who, with vigilance strained to the
utmost, were steering warily through such a storm! Rendel involuntarily
stopped and read with the others.
Some people he knew drove by in a victoria, two exquisitely dressed
women who smiled and bowed to him as they passedchance acquaintances
whom he met in society, and to whom under ordinary circumstances he
would have been profoundly indifferent.
Rendel could almost have stood still in sheer terror at realising
some numbing sense that was stealing over him, some horrible change in
his view of things that was already beginning. For as they bowed to him
with unimpaired friendliness, he felt conscious of a distinct sensation
of relief, almost of gratitude, that in spite of what had happened they
should still be willing to greet him. Good God! was that what
his view of life, and of his relations with his kind was going to be?
No! no! anything but that. He would go away somewhere, he would
disappear... yes, of course, that was what they all did. He
remembered with a shudder a man he had known, Bob Galloway, who,
beginning life under the most prosperous auspices, had been convicted
of cheating at cards. He recalled the look of the man who knew his
company would be tolerated only by those beneath him. He realised now
part of what Galloway must have gone through before he went out of
England and took to frequenting second-rate people abroad.
He looked up and found that he had mechanically walked back to Cosmo
Place. He was recalled from his absorption to a more pressing calamity,
as he recognised, with an acute pang of self-reproach, the doctor's
brougham still standing before the door. He entered the house quickly.
There was a sense of that strange emptiness, of the ordinary living
rooms of the house being deserted, that gives one an almost physical
sense that life is being lived through with stress and terrible
earnestness somewhere else. He heard some words being exchanged in a
low tone on the upper landing, and then a door shutting as Rachel
turned back into her father's room. Rendel met Doctor Morgan as he came
down the stairs. Morgan's face assumed an air of grave concern as he
saw Sir William's son-in-law coming towards him, and Rendel read in his
face what he had to tell. There are moments in which the intensity of
nervous strain seems to make every sense trebly acute, in which,
without knowing it, we are aware of every detail of sight and sound
that forms the material setting for a moment of great emotion. As he
looked at Doctor Morgan coming towards him, Rendel, without knowing it,
was conscious of every detail that formed the background to that figure
of foreboding: of the sunlight glancing on the glass of a picture, of
its reflection in the brass of a loose stair rod that had escaped from
its fastenings, and of which, even in that moment, Rendel's methodical
mind automatically made a note.
I am afraid I can't give you a very good account, he said in
answer to Rendel's hurried inquiries. He has had another and more
prolonged fainting fit, and I think it possible that his heart may be
Do you mean, then, said Rendel, thatthatyou are really
anxious about the ultimate issue? and he tried to veil the thing he
was designating, as men instinctively do when it is near at hand.
Yes, I am, Doctor Morgan answered. Unless there is a great change
in the next few hours, there certainly will be cause for the gravest
Rendel was silent, his thoughts chasing each other tumultuously
through his brain.
Does my wife know? he said.
I think she does, Morgan said. I have not told her quite as
clearly as I have said it to you, but she knows how much care he needs
and how absolutely essential it is that he should be quiet. It is his
one chance. No talk, no news, no excitement.
What has brought on this attack, do you think? said Rendel,
feeling as if he were driven to ask the question.
I can't tell, said Morgan. He looked to me like a man who had
been excited about something. Do you know whether that is so?
Yes, said Rendel; he got excited this morning about something
that was in the paper.
Ah! by the way, yes, I don't wonder, said Morgan, who was an
ardent politician. It was a most astonishing piece of news,
It was, indeed, said Rendel, brought back for a moment to the
unendurable burthen he had been carrying about with him.
The Imperialists are safe now to get in, said Morgan. We look to
you to do great things some day, and without waiting for the polite
disclaimer which he took for granted would be Rendel's reply to his
remark, without seeing the swift look of keen suffering that swept over
Rendel's face, he hurried away.
Rendel was bowed down by an intolerable self-reproach. He could have
smiled at the thought that he had actually been seeking solace in the
idea that he had, at any rate, done a fine, a noble thing, that he had
done it for Rachel, that, if she ever knew it, she would know he had
sacrificed everything for her. And now, instead, how did his conduct
appear? How would it appear to her, since she knew but the outward
aspect of it? To her? Why, to himself, even, it almost appeared that
wishing to insist on screening himself at the expense of some one else,
he had, in defiance of her entreaties, appealed to her father, and
brought on an attack that might probably cause his death.
He stood for a moment as the door closed behind Morgan, and waited
irresolutely, with a half hope that Rachel would come downstairs to
him. But all was silent, desolate, forlorn; it was behind the shut door
upstairs that the strenuous issues were being fought out which were to
decide, in all probability, other fates than that of the chief sufferer
who lay there waiting for death. The chief sufferer? No. Rendel, as he
turned back sick at heart, after a moment, into his own study, thought
bitterly within himself that death to the man who has so little to
expect from life is surely a less trial than dying to all that is worth
having while one is still alive. That was how he saw his own life as he
looked on into the future, or rather, as he contemplated it in the
presentfor the future was gone, it was blotted out. That was the
thought that ever and anon would come to the surface, would come in
spite of his efforts to the contrary, before every other. Then the
thought of Rachel's face of misery rose before him, haunted him with an
additional anguish. With an effort he pulled himself together, sat down
to the table, and wrote a letter to the committee of Stoke Newton,
stating briefly that he had relinquished his intention of standing,
directed it, and closed the envelope with a heavy sigh. One by one he
was throwing overboard his most precious possessions to appease the
Fates that were pursuing him. Where would it end? What would be left to
him? The one precious possession, the turning-point of his existence
still remained: Rachel, his love for her, their life together. But,
after all, those great goods he had meant to have in any case, and the
rest besides. The door opened. It was the servant come to tell him that
luncheon was ready; the ordinary bell was not rung for fear of
disturbing Sir William. Luncheon? Could the routine of life be going on
just in the same way? Was it possible that a morning had been enough to
do all this? He went listlessly into the dining-room. Rachel was not
there. He went upstairs, and as he went up met her coming out of her
father's room. Her startled and almost alarmed look, as at the first
moment she thought that he was going back into her father's room, smote
him to the heart.
You had better not go in, Frank, she said hurriedly. The doctor
said he was to be quite quiet. Please don't go in again, and the
intonation of the words told him how much lay at his door already.
I was not going in, he said quietly. I was coming to fetch you to
have some luncheon.
I don't think I could eat anything, she said.
You must try, darling, he said gently. It is no good your being
knocked up at this stage. You look pretty well worn out already.
And indeed she did. The last twenty-four hours had made her look as
though she herself had been through an illness, and the nervous strain
added to her own condition made her appear, Rendel felt as he looked at
her, quite alarmingly ill. She suffered herself to be persuaded to eat
something, then wandered wretchedly back to her father's room to remain
there for the rest of the day.
Rendel did not leave the house again. He sat downstairs alone,
trying to realise what this world was that he was contemplating, this
landscape painted in shades of black and grey. Was this the prospect
flooded with sunshine that he had looked upon that very morning? The
afternoon went on: the streets of London were full of a gay and
hurrying crowd. Was it Rendel's imagination, the tense state of his
nerves, that made him feel in the very air as it streamed in at his
window the electric disturbance that was agitating the destinies of the
country? Everyone looked as they passed as though something had
happened; men were talking eagerly and intently. The afternoon papers
were being hawked in the streets. One of them actually had the map, all
had the news, given with the same comments of amazement, and, on the
part of the Imperialists, of admiration at the feat that had been so
cleverly performed. So the day wore on, the long summer's day, till all
London had grasped what had happenedwhile the man through whom London
knew was sitting alone, an outcast, with Grief and Anxiety hovering by
These two same dread companions, seen under another aspect, were
with Rachel as she sat through the afternoon hours in her father's
darkened room, listening to his breathing, with all her senses on the
alert for any sound, for any movement.
Sir William moved and opened his eyes; then, looking at Rachel, who
was anxiously bending over him, he rapidly poured out a succession of
words and phrases of which only a word here and there was intelligible.
Frank, he said once or twice, then Pateley, but Rachel had not the
clue that would have told her what the words meant. She tried in vain
to quiet him: he was not conscious of her presence. Then suddenly his
voice subsided to a whisper, and a strange look came over his face. An
uncontrollable terror seized upon Rachel. She ran out on to the stairs;
and as, unsteady, quivering, she rushed down, meaning to call her
husband, she caught her foot on the loose stair-rod and fell forward,
striking her head with violence as she reached the bottom. It was there
that Rendel, aghast, found her lying unconscious as he hurried out of
his study to see what had happened. The sickening horror of that first
moment, when he believed she was dead, swallowed up every other
thought. It made the time that followed, when Doctor Morgan, instantly
sent for, had pronounced that she had concussion of the brain, from
which she would recover if kept absolutely quiet, a period almost of
And so Rachel was spared the actual moment of the parting she had
been trying to face. For though Sir William rallied again from the
crisis which had so alarmed her, he sank gradually into a state of coma
from which he was destined never to wake, and from which, almost
imperceptibly, he passed during the evening of the next day.
Rendel, tossed on a wild storm of clashing emotions, the great
anxiety caused by Rachel's accident and possible peril added to all he
had gone through, had in truth little actual sorrow to spare for the
loss of Sir William Gore. But Gore's death meant in one direction the
death of all his own remaining hopes. When he knew the end had come,
and that he would have to tell Rachel, when she was able to bear it,
that her father was dead, he then began to realise how, unconsciously
to himself almost, he had built upon some possibility of Sir William
doing something to put things right. What, he had not formulated to
himself; but he had had vague visions of a possible admission of some
sort, of an attempted reconciliation, atonement, confession, such as he
had read of in fiction, by which means the truth would have come out,
and he would have been absolved without any effort on his own part. But
those half-formulated dreams had vanished almost before he had realised
them. Sir William Gore had gone to his eternal rest, and, as far as
Rendel knew, no one but himself knew exactly what had happened. And now
there was nothing in front of him but that miserable blank.
Rachel was not told of what had happened until two days after her
father's funeral. She received the news as though stunned, bewildered;
as if it were too terrible for her to grasp. Gradually she came back to
life again, but she was not the same as before. Her recovery would be,
the doctor explained, a question of time. The accident that had
befallen her, following the great strain and anxiety she had gone
through, had completely upset her nervous system, and appeareda not
uncommon result after such an accidentto have completely obliterated
the time immediately preceding her fall. The moment when Rendel, seeing
her gradually recovering, first ventured on some allusion to
Stamfordham and to what had taken place the day her father was taken
ill, he saw a puzzled, bewildered look in her face, as though she had
no idea of what he was saying, and he was seized by a fear almost too
ghastly to be endurable.
Lord Stamfordham? she said, puzzled. When? I don't know about
But the doctor reassured him, and told him that all would come
right: she would be herself again, even if she never regained the
memory of what had happened before her fall.
It is a common result of an accident of this kind, he said, and
need give you no special cause for anxiety. I have known two or three
cases in which men who have completely recovered in other respects have
never regained the memory of what immediately preceded the accident.
That girl who was thrown in the Park a month ago, you rememberher
horse ran away and threw her over the railingsalthough she got
absolutely right, does not remember what she did that morning, or even
the night before. And after all, he added, it does not seem to me so
very desirable that Mrs. Rendel should remember those two particular
days she may have lost.
Rendel gave an inward shudder. If he could but have forgotten them
They were full, as I understand, of anxiety and grief about her
They were, said Rendel. It would be much better if she did not
That's right, keep your heart up, then, said Morgan, all
unconsciously; and above all, no excitement for her, no anxiety, no
irritation. Change of scene would be good for her, perhaps, and seeing
one or two people. If I were you, I should take her to some German
baths. On every ground I should think that would be the best thing for
See people? Rendel felt, with the sense of having received a blow,
what sort of aspect social intercourse presented to him now. But as the
days went on Doctor Morgan insisted more strongly on the necessity that
Rachel should go for a definite 'cure' somewhere, and recommended a
special place, Bad-Schleppenheim.
Bad-Schleppenheim, he said, is on the whole as good a place as
you could go to.
But isn't it thronged with English people? said Rendel.
Not unduly, said Morgan. At any rate, I think it is worth
I wonder if my wife would like it, said Rendel doubtfully.
I wouldn't tell her, said the doctor, till it's all settled.
That's the way to deal with wives, I assure you.
And with a cheery laugh, Dr. Morgan, who had no wife, went out.
Rachel, however, even after the move abroad so strongly recommended
by her doctor had been made, did not all at once regain her normal
condition. She appeared to be better in health; she was calmer, her
nerves seemed quieter; but a strange dull veil still hung between her
mind and the days immediately preceding the great catastrophe. To what
had happened the day before her father's death she never referred; she
had not asked Rendel anything more about the accusation brought against
him. Once or twice she had spoken of her father as if he were still
there, then caught herself up, realising that he was gone. Was this how
it was always going to be? Rendel asked himself. Would he not again be
able to share with her, as far as one human being can share with
another, his hopes and his fears, or rather his renunciations? Would
she never be able to take part in his life with the sweet, smiling
sympathy which had always been so ineffably precious to him? Those days
that she had lost were just those that had branded themselves indelibly
into his consciousness: the afternoon that Stamfordham had come with
the map, the morning following when it had appeared in the newspaper,
the scenes with Gore, with Stamfordham,all those days he lived over
and over again, and lived them alone. There was some solace in the
thought that if that time were to be to Rachel for ever blurred, she
would never be able to recall what had passed between herself and her
husband after Rendel had brought on Gore's illness by taxing him with
what he had done. And while he struggled with his memorieswould he
always have to live in the past now instead of in the future?Rachel,
who had been told to be a great deal in the fresh air, passed her time
quietly, peacefully, languidly, lying out of doors. They had deemed
themselves fortunate in securing in the overcrowded town a somewhat
primitive little pavilion belonging to one of the big hotels, of which
the charm to Rachel was that it had a shady garden. Rendel, whose time
even during the period in which he had had no regular occupation had
always been fully occupied, reading several hours a day, making notes
on certain subjects about which he meant to write later, became
conscious for the first time in his life that the hours hung heavy on
his hands. It was with a blank surprise that he realised that such a
misfortune, which he had always thought vaguely could befall only the
idlers and desultory of this world, should attack himself. Life is
always laying these snares for us, putting in our way suddenly and
unexpectedly some form of unpleasantness by which we may have seen
others attacked, but from which unconsciously we have felt that we
ourselves should be preserved by our own merits,just as when we are
in good health we hear of sciatica, lumbago, or gout, and accept them
without concern as part of the composition of the universe, until one
day one of these disagreeables attacks ourselves, and stands out quite
disproportionately as something that after all is of more consequence
than we thought. It unfortunately nearly always happens that we have to
face the mental crises of life inadequately prepared. We think we have
pictured them beforehand, and according to that picture we are ready,
in imagination, with a sufficient equipment of fortitude and decision
to enable us to encounter them. In reality we mostly do no better than
a traveller who going to an unknown land and climate, guesses for
himself beforehand what his outfit had better be, and then finds it
deplorably inadequate when he gets there. Rendel, during those days of
lonely agony in London that followed the revelations sprung on the
public by the Arbiter, had endeavoured to school himself to face
what the future might have in store for him; but he had thought that
while he was abroad, at any rate, the horror that pursued him now would
be in abeyance. He had never been to German baths, he had never been to
a fashionable resort of the kind; he had no idea what it meant. All
that he had vaguely pictured was that it would be some sort of respite
from the thing that dogged him now, the fearfor there was no doubt
that as the days went on it grew into a fearof coming suddenly upon
some one he knew, who would look him in the face and then turn away.
And now that they were at the term of their journey, installed in their
little foreign pavilion, he had become aware that at a stone's throw
from him was a numerous cosmopolitan society, among whom was probably a
large contingent from London. He did not try to learn their names; he
would jealously keep aloof from them. Rachel had been advised to stay
here for four weeks at least. Four weeks, no doubt, is not very long
under ordinary circumstances: he had not imagined that it might seem
almost unendurably long to a man who had been married less than a year
to a wife that he loved. And yet, before he had been there three days,
he was conscious that each separate hour had to be encountered,
wrestled with, conquered, before going on to the next. He had meant to
write: there was a point of administration upon which he had intended
to say his say in one of the Reviews. But somehow in that sitting-room,
with the windows opening down to the garden, the steady work, which in
his own study would have been a matter of course, seemed almost
impossible. Then he thought he would read. He read aloud to Rachel for
part of the day; but he did not dare to choose anything that was much
good to himself, as he had been told that the more inactive her mind
was the better. Something he would have to do; he would have to
organise his daily life in some way that would make the burden of it
endurable. He made up his mind to take long walksthe hotel and
pavilion lay on the outskirts of the townto go into the outlying
country and explore it on foot. But in the evenings when Rachel was
gone to bed, and when, alone at last, he would try to concentrate his
mind on the study or the writing to which he had been used so eagerly
to turn, another thought that he had been keeping at bay by a conscious
effort would rush at him again and overwhelm him.
In the meantime, at the other side of Bad-Schleppenheim, the hours
were flying fast and gaily. From the moment when the visitors met
together at an early hour in the morning to drink their glasses of
Schleppenheim water, and onwards through the luncheon parties,
excursions, walking up and down, listening to the band, seeing
theatricals, or playing Bridge in the evening, there was never a moment
in which they were not industriously engaged in the pursuit of
something. It was mostly pleasure, though many of them imagined it was
health. Many of the people who in London constituted Society were here,
in an inner and hallowed circle, in the centre of which were many minor
and a few major royalties out of every country in Europe; and revolving
round them in wider circles outside, many other people who, at home
just on the verge of being in Society, revelled in the thought that
here, under altered conditions, and in the enforced juxtapositions of
life in a watering-place, a special talent for tennis, a gift for
Bridge, better clothes than other people, or a talent for private
theatricals, would help them to be on the right side of the line they
were so anxious to cross. Add to these, numbers of pretty girls anxious
only to enjoy themselves, and swarms of young men who had come for the
same reason, and it will be imagined that the atmosphere reigning in
the brilliantly lighted Casino, in and around which the joyous spent
their evenings singing, dancing, wandering in the grounds, was
singularly different from that of the little isolated pavilion where
Rendel sat trying to fashion the picture of his life into something
that he could look upon without a shudder.
The walls of the little town were placarded with the announcement of
a great bazaar to be held for the benefit of the English Church in
Bad-Schleppenheim. The economics of a fashionable bazaar are evidently
governed by certain obscure laws, of which the knowledge is yet in
infancy; for the ordinary laws of commerce are on these occasions
completely suspended. That of supply and demand becomes inverted, since
the vendors are seemingly eager to sell all that the buyers least want:
the cost of production, of which statistics are not obtainable, the
expenditure of money, time, and energy required to furnish the stalls
is not taken into account at all. Loss and profit appear to be
inextricably mingled; however much unsold merchandise remains on the
stall at the end of the bazaar the seller is expected to hand over a
substantial sum to the good object for which she is supposed to have
been working. And yet there must be some advantage in this method of
raising money, or even the female mind would presumably not at once
turn to it as the simplest and most obvious way of obtaining funds for
a given purpose.
These problems, however, did not exist for Lady Chaloner, one of the
leaders of English Society in Schleppenheim. She took bazaars for
granted, as she did everything else. She was one of the very pillars of
the social fabric of her country. She was of noble blood, she was
portly, she was decidedly middle-aged. She had been recommended to diet
herself and to drink the waters of Schleppenheim, and as she did so in
company with half the distinguished people in Europe, she was quite
content to follow the course prescribed. In these days when everything
is called into question, when social codes alter, and an undesirable
fusion of human beings takes place in so many directions, it was
positively refreshing to turn to Lady Chaloner, who not only did not
know, but could not conceive that it mattered, what other people did in
any layer of existence beneath her own. She had not at any time a keen
eye to discrimination of character. Her judgment of those
fellow-creatures whom she naturally frequented was based in the first
instance on their degree of blood relationship with herself, then on
their social standing: but she was but vaguely aware of the difference
between the men and women, especially the women, who did not belong to
that inner circle, and knew as little about them as a looker-on leaning
from a window in a foreign town knows about the people who pass beneath
him in the street. But there were times when she entirely recognised
the usefulness in the scheme of creation of those motley crowds of
well-dressed persons, even though they bore names she had never heard
before. During her preparation for the bazaar, for instance, which she
was getting up in the single-minded conviction that nothing better
could be done for the institution she was trying to befriend, she had
been more than willing to co-operate with Mrs. Birkett, the wife of the
chaplain, and even to ask some of Mrs. Birkett's friends for their
help. Mrs. Birkett, who approached the bazaar from the point of view
from which she had artlessly imagined it was being undertaken, that of
ensuring some sort of provision for the expenses of the chaplain who
undertook the summer duty of Schleppenheim, received a series of shocks
as she came face to face with the different points of view of the
various stall-holders with whom she was successively brought into
contact. Lady Chalonershe looked on this as a great achievementhad
succeeded in enrolling among the bazaar-workers the young Princess
Hohenschreien, on the ground of her being a staunch Protestant. The
Princess was half-English, half-German. Her mother had been a distant
connection of Lady Chaloner. This relationship in some strange way
entirely condoned in Lady Chaloner's eyes the fact that the Princess
Hohenschreien had a good deal of paint on her face, and a good deal of
paint in her manner, and that the loudness of her laugh and the
boldness of her bearing were more pronounced than would have been
permitted of the well-behaved ladies brought up within the walls of
Castle Chaloner. However, Lady Chaloner's daughters were married to
husbands of an excellent and irreproachable kind, and were out in the
world; and Lady Chaloner felt no kind of responsibility about Madeline
Hohenschreien, Maddy, as she was called by her intimates. She
expressed distinct approval of her, in fact, in the words, Maddy has
such a lot of go about her, hasn't she? It does one good to hear her
laughin'. So when Maddy instantly and light-heartedly undertook to
help the bazaar by performing at the Café Chantant, that was to go on
at stated times all through the evening, Lady Chaloner felt that she
was doing a distinctly good work. It was no small undertaking, however,
marshalling her forces and trying to arrange that every one of the
stallholders should not be selling exactly the same thingnamely, the
small carved wooden objects, the staple commodity of Schleppenheim,
made by the surrounding peasantry.
The bazaar was drawing near, and Lady Chaloner was very busy indeed.
Indefatigably did she send for Mrs. Birkett several times every day,
begging her to bring a pencil and paper that they might make lists.
Mrs. Birkett's experience, however, was limited to sales of work under
somewhat different conditions in England, and she was not of very much
use, except as a moral support and outward material embodiment of the
cause for which the bazaar was being undertaken. She sought comfort in
her inmost soul in the thought of all the money that must surely flow
into the coffers of the Church after this magnificent undertaking; but
she was secretly out of her element and ill at ease, when Lady Chaloner
pounced upon her to talk of the bazaar, at an hour when the most
fashionable people in Europe, with their best clothes on, were walking
up and down while the band was playing, or established at little tables
exchanging intimate pleasantries with one another and greetings with
the people that passed.
She was sitting by Lady Chaloner, in compulsory attendance upon that
benefactress of the Church, a few days before the bazaar was to come
Now, let me see, said Lady Chaloner, what are you goin' to have
on your stall?
On mine? said Mrs. Birkett, rather taken aback.
Yes, said Lady Chaloner, aren't you goin' to have a stall?
You see, said Mrs. Birkett, I have not any of the things here
thaterI generally use for the purpose, and she thought regretfully
of a big box at home which contained a sort of rolling stock of hideous
articles that travelled, so to speak, between herself and her friends
from one bazaar to another, and reappeared, a sort of symbolical
merchandise, a currency in a nightmare, at all the fancy sales held in
the neighbourhood of Leighton Ham.
The only thing is, said Lady Chaloner, it is rather a pity,
because, bein' for the Church, people will expect you to sell, you
know. Perhaps you could sell at somebody else's stall. Mine's full, I
think, she added prudently. Let me see, and her ladyship ran quickly
over the names of the half a dozen young women who, in the most
beguiling of costumes, were going to trip about and sell buttonholes to
their partners of the evening before. Lady Chaloner's solid good sense
and long habit of the world kept things that should be separate
perfectly distinct; she did not for a moment contemplate Mrs. Birkett
tripping about and selling buttonholes. Perhaps Mrs. Samuels hasn't
got her number complete, she said, not realising this time, the thing
being a little more out of her field of vision, that Mrs. Samuels, who
had been spending her time, energy, and even money, in trying to be
friends with Lady Chaloner, might quite possibly be in the same
attitude towards Mrs. Birkett, if thrust upon her, as Lady Chaloner was
I daresay, yes, said Mrs. Birkett, with some misgiving, as she saw
Mrs. Samuels further down the alley, standing with a London manager in
the centre of a group who were laughing and talking round them.
Let me see, Mrs. Samuels is goin' to have the tea, isn't she?
Yes, the refreshment stall, said Mrs. Birkett, referring to her
And Lady Adela Prestige the fortune tellin'and Princess
Hohenschreien, what did she say she would do? Oh! I remember, the Café
Chantant. What has she done about it, I wonder? Do you know anything
I am afraid I don't, said Mrs. Birkett. This, indeed, was quite
beyond her competence.
I wonder if she has got people enough. Ah! here she is. Madeline!
Maddy! she called out, as Princess Hohenschreien appeared at the end
of the walk, a parasol lined with pink behind her, and her head thrown
back as she laughed loud and heartily at something her companion had
Yes, dear Lady Chaloner? Were you calling me?
I wanted to speak to you about the bazaar, said Lady Chaloner.
How do you do, M. de Moricourt, to the Princess's companion.
The bazaar, said the young man in French, as he bowed, what is
What is that? said the Princess, with another burst of laughter.
But, mon cher, you are impossible! We have been talking of
nothing else all the way down the alley.
How? said the young man. I really beg your pardon, Princess, but
I thought we were talking of the comedy we were going to act at the
And what do you suppose that comedy is for, said the Princess, if
not for the bazaar?
How can I tell? said Moricourt. It might have been to please the
public, or even to please the Princess Hohenschreien, with a little
Of course we shall please both, said the Princess. And a bazaar
gives us a reason. A charity bazaar, isn't it?
Ah! a charity bazaar, said Moricourt, that is another thing. It
doesn't matter how badly I shall act, then.
Perhaps that is as well, said the Princess.
Is it permitted to know the object of the charity we are going to
assist so well? said Moricourt.
Lady Chaloner, dimly aware that Mrs. Birkett was becoming very
uncomfortable, although she did not clearly distinguish whether the
peculiar expression to be observed on the latter's face came from
irritation or embarrassment, hastily said
It is not a charity exactly. It is for the English Church at
Schleppenheim. This is Mrs. Birkett, the wife of the clergyman,
indicating Mrs. Birkett.
Ah! said Moricourt, the English Church, and he bowed to Mrs.
Birkett as though making the acquaintance of that honoured institution.
Princess Hohenschreien also included herself in the introduction, and
bowed with a good-natured smile of absolute indifference to Mrs.
Birkett and to all that she represented.
Well, now then, seriously, said Lady Chaloner, do you undertake
the Café Chantant, Madeline?
Not the whole of it, my dear lady, said the Princess. That really
is too much to ask. M. Moricourt and I will act a play.
How long does the play last? said Lady Chaloner.
How long did we say it took? said the Princess to her companion.
It depends upon how often Moricourt forgets his part. When we
rehearsed it last night he waited quite ten minutes in the middle of
I must remind you, said Moricourt, that I was pausing to admire
... the beautiful feathers in your hat.
Oh! well, that is different, said the Princess. I think that
explanation is satisfactorybut otherwise And she filled up the
sentence with a telling glance, to which Moricourt replied with a look
of fervent admiration.
Well, how long does it take, then? said Lady Chaloner, with a
smile of strange indulgence, Mrs. Birkett thought, for a lady so highly
placed, and of such solid dignity.
Oh! about half an hour, said Moricourt; perhaps three-quarters.
Is that all? said Lady Chaloner, in some consternation. The Café
Chantant goes on for how long did you say, Mrs. Birkett?
This piece of statistics Mrs. Birkett was able to furnish.
From six till ten, I think you said, Lady Chaloner, she said,
reading from her list.
Heavens! said the Princess, you don't expect us, I hope, to go on
from six till ten. We had better do the Nibelungen Ring at once. I will
be Brünnhildeand I tell you what, turning to Moricourt, you shall
be the big lizard who comes in and says 'bow-wow,' or whatever it is.
Mr. Wentworth! and she called to Wentworth who was strolling along
with an air of being at peace with himself and the universe. What is
it that lizards do?
If they are small, said Wentworth, they run up a wall in the sun,
or they run over your feet, and if they are big
You fall over their feet, I suppose, said the Princess.
But a lizard at a Café Chantant, said Moricourt, what does he
At a Café Chantant? He sings, of course, said Wentworth.
No no, said the Princess, with again her resonant laugh. I don't
know much about botany, but I am sure lizards don't sing.
Then in that case, said Moricourt, Wentworth must. He can sing; I
have heard him.
Can you, Mr. Wentworth? How well can you sing? said the Princess
with artless candour.
Well, said Wentworth, that is rather difficult to say. I don't
sing quite as well as Mario perhaps, but a little better than ... a
Oh, that will do perfectly, said the Princess. For a charity,
people are not particular.
By the way, what is all this for? said Wentworth.
For the English Church here, you remember, said Lady Chaloner.
Oh! to be sure, yes, said Wentworth. I saw the placard.
This is Mrs. Birkett, said Lady Chaloner.
Wentworth bowed and said politely, I hope the bazaar will be a
I hope so, thank you, Mrs. Birkett said, feeling that if the
bazaar were not a great success, she would have gone through a good
deal for a very little. She longed to be allowed to go away, but she
was not quite sure whether she would not be jeopardising the success of
the bazaar by leaving at this juncture. Visions of having promised to
meet her reverend husband to go for a walk at a given moment were
haunting her. Finally, with a desperate effort, she said
I am afraid I have an appointment, Lady Chaloner, and must go now,
unless there is anything more I can do.
Oh, must you go? said Lady Chaloner, we had better meet in the
morning, I think, and make a final list of the stalls.
Certainly, said Mrs. Birkett, with a sigh of relief, and with a
determined effort she tried to include the circle she was leaving in
one salutation, and made away as fast as she could.
I hope, said the Princess, the poor lady is not shocked at having
a Café Chantant in her Church bazaar.
At any rate, said Wentworth, she will be consoled when you hand
over the results to her afterwards.
What is the name of the piece you are going to do? said Lady
Chaloner, pencil in hand.
Une porte qui s'ouvre, said Moricourt, with a glance at the
Oh! if you think we'll have that one! said the Princess. Would
you believe, Lady Chaloner, that he wants me to be the maid in it
instead of the leading lady, because he kisses the maid behind the
My dear Maddy! said Lady Chaloner, reprovingly.
Don't look so shocked at me, dear Lady Chaloner, she said. I am
sure I am as shocked myself at the suggestion, as
Mrs. Birkett, suggested Wentworth.
Precisely, said the Princess.
At any rate we'll put that piece on the list for the present, said
Lady Chaloner. Then there will be a song from Lady Adela
And a song from Mr. Wentworth, said Moricourt.
That's splendid, said Lady Chaloner. The Café Chantant will do.
The only thing I rather regret is about the stalls, that every one is
goin' to sell the same thing.
And who is going to buy? said the Princess.
That's another difficulty, said Lady Chaloner, they'll all have
to buy from one another.
We had better have some autographs, said the Princess, they
Very good, said Lady Chaloner, putting it down on the list. You
had better get some.
All right, said the Princess. We'll have some of all kinds, I
think. I will get some from those people too, nodding her head in the
direction of the London manager.
Everybody considers himself an autograph in these days, said
Wentworth; it is terrible what a levelling age we live in.
We might sell photographs, of course, said the Princess, instead
Or both, said Lady Chaloner, earnestly and anxiously, as though
contemplating all sources of revenue. Signed photographs.
Excellent, said Wentworth.
There ought to be people enough to buy, if they would only come,
said Lady Chaloner, taking up a Visitors' List that lay beside her.
People like the Francis Rendels, for instance, putting her finger on
the name, or
The Rendels? Are they here? said Wentworth, with much interest.
So it says here. What is she like? said Lady Chaloner. Would she
I am not sure, said Wentworth. She's in mourning, and very
quietbut very charming.
Thank you, said the Princess with a gay laugh. I am sure that is
a compliment à mon adresse. I know what you mean when you say
that very quiet women are charming. Let us go away, Moricourt; we are
too noisy for Mr. Wentworth.
You are too bad, Maddy, really, said Lady Chaloner, smiling at
this brilliant sally.
Ich bitte sehr, said Wentworth to the Princess, with a
little bow, as he took up the paper and looked for the address of the
Rendels. Pavillon du Jardin, Hôtel de LondresI must go and look them
up, he said.
You might beat them up to come and buy, at any rate, said Lady
Chaloner, if they can't do anything else.
I will do what I can, said Wentworth with a smile, reflecting as
he walked off what a strange blurring of the focus of life there is
when, everything being concentrated on to one particular purpose,
whether it be a bazaar, an election, or the giving of a ball, all the
human beings one encounters are considered from the point of view of
their fitness to one particular endin the aspect of a buyer or
seller, as a voter, as a partner, as the case may be. There was no
doubt that at this moment the whole of mankind were expected to fit
somehow into Lady Chaloner's pattern: to be useful for the bazaar, or
to be thrown away as useless.
As Wentworth turned away he exchanged greetings with a jovial
important-looking personage coming in the other direction, no other
than Mr. Pateley, exhaling prosperity as he came. The completion of the
Cape to Cairo railway, and the reinstatement in public opinion of the
'Equator' Mine, proved to be of gold after alllet alone certain
fortunate pecuniary transactions connected with that reinstatementhad
given Pateley both political and material satisfaction. The Arbiter
was advancing more triumphantly than ever, and its editor was a person
of increasing consideration and influence.
You seem very busy, Lady Chaloner, he said, as he looked at the
sheets of paper on the table by her.
We are gettin' up a bazaar, Lady Chaloner said. Will you help
I shall be delighted, said Pateley obviously. What do you want me
Give us your autograph, said the Princess promptly, and we will
sell it for large sums of gold.
She had certainly chosen a skilful way of enlisting Pateley's
co-operation. He revelled in the joy of being a political potentate,
and every fresh proof that he received of the fact was another delight
I shall be greatly honoured, he said.
We are going to have autographs of all the distinguished people we
can find, said the Princess, continuing her system of ingratiation.
I can tell you of an autograph who has just arrived, said Pateley.
I have just seen him driving up from the station; a very expensive
autograph indeedLord Stamfordham.
Lord Stamfordham? said Lady Chaloner, the Foreign Secretary, like
the rest of the world, falling instantly into his place in her
kaleidescope. Certainly, if he would give us a dozen autographs we
should do an excellent business with them.
You had better make Adela Prestige ask him, then, said the
Princess with a laugh.
I wonder where Adela is? said Lady Chaloner, considering the
question entirely on its merits.
That depends upon where Lord Stamfordham is, murmured the Princess
to her companion. By the way, Lady Chaloner, before we part, it is
Tuesday, isn't it, that we make our expedition to Waldlust to lunch in
Tuesday?let me see, this is Thursday. Yes, I think so, said Lady
Chaloner. Then she gave a cry of dismay. Oh! no, Maddy, Tuesday is the
bazaar; that will never do.
Oh, yes, said the Princess, all the better. The bazaar doesn't
open till half-past five after all, and we can lunch at half-past
twelve. It will do us good to be in the fresh air before our labours
begin; we shall look all the better for it.
Very well, said Lady Chaloner dubiously. But then what about the
Can't those be made on Monday? said the Princess; and if there
are any finishing touches required, Mrs. Birkett and her friends can do
them on Tuesday. They won't want to look their best, I daresay, and
she laughed again.
Very well, said Lady Chaloner. Tuesday, then, for Waldlust. I
will ask Lord Stamfordham to come.
And I will ask Adela, said the Princess.
Come then, Moricourt, said the Princess, if you want to rehearse
that play before we act it.
Pray do, said Lady Chaloner anxiously. I am sure people who act
always rehearse first.
I am more than willing, said M. de Moricourt, throwing an infinity
of expression into his voice and glance as he looked at the Princess.
Some parts especially will require a great deal of rehearsing. And
they departed together.
She is so amusin', said Lady Chaloner to Pateley. I really don't
know anybody that can be more amusin' when she likes.
Pateley gave a round, sonorous laugh of agreement, tantamount to a
smile of assent in any one else. He wisely did not commit himself to
any expression of opinion as to the accomplished wit of the Princess,
which at all events as far as he had had opportunity of observing it,
did not strike him as being of a very subtle character.
The echoes of the band which was enlivening the promenade we have
just left penetrated to the pavilion where Rachel and her husband were
sitting alone. A little path ran from the back of the pavilion straight
up into the woods. At certain hours, when the fashionable world met to
drink the waters, to listen to the band, or to talk at the Casino, the
woodland path was almost deserted. At no time was it very crowded, as
it was a short and rather steep short cut to a walk through the wood
which could be reached by a more convenient access from the principal
street in the town.
Rendel, although it had not occurred to him to look at a Visitors'
List, and although he did not realise yet how many people he knew were
at Schleppenheim, still had a strange, unpleasant feeling, horribly new
to him, of shrinking from meeting any one he had ever seen before. He
had seen the woodland path, and was wondering if he should go and
explore it at this hour when presumably every one was listening to the
band, of which the incessant strains heard in the distance were
beginning to be maddening. As he looked up vaguely, the little door
into the garden opened, and he saw the familiar figure of Wentworth
appear. His heart stood still. Did Wentworth know? Was he coming out of
compassion? And at the same moment that he thought it, further back
somewhere in his mind he was conscious of the absurdity of Wentworth
having become suddenly so importantWentworth's opinion, his
personality mattering, his representing one of the instruments of Fate.
He stood, therefore, to Wentworth's surprise, absolutely still, waiting
to see what his friend's attitude would be. But there was no mistake
about that, about the unaffected heartiness and rejoicing with which
Wentworth met him, in absolute unconsciousness of any possible cloud
between them, any possible reason why Rendel should not be as glad to
see him as he had been at any time since they had been at Oxford
Frank! he said, as he came forward, what's all this about? Why
are you hiding yourself here? And he stopped in surprise at seeing as
he spoke the words something in Rendel's whole bearing that made him
feel as if he were speaking the truth in jest, as if the man before him
really were hiding, really had something to conceal.
Then, after that first moment, Rendel realised that Wentworth knew
nothing. That, at any rate, for the moment was to the good, and with an
abounding sense of relief he held out his hand.
Don't you like these quarters? he said. We think they are
So do I, Wentworth said, so do I. They are so quiet.
My wife wants to be quiet, said Rendel, half indicating Rachel,
who was lying back in a garden chair, some knitting in her hands.
How are you, Mrs. Rendel? said Wentworth, and he hastened forward
to greet her.
She put out her hand with a smile and shook hands with him,
apparently not surprised at seeing him, or particularly interested.
You are certainly most delightfully cool here in the shade, he
said. It is awfully hot in that promenade.
It must be, said Rachel.
How long have you been here? Wentworth went on, sitting down.
How long is it? said Rachel, with a slightly puzzled look, looking
at Rendel. Only a few days, isn't it?
Yes, not quite a week. My wife has not been well. We were
recommended here that she might do the cure.
I see, Wentworth said, somewhat relieved at finding himself on the
way to an explanation. Well, this is a splendid place, I believe, for
the people that it cures, he added sapiently.
No doubt, Rendel said.
There was another pause.
Then that is why we have not seen you at the Casino, Wentworth
said. One can't avoid running up against people one knows at every
Is that so? said Rendel, a note of anxiety in his voice. We have
not run up against any one yet.
Oh! dear me, yes, said Wentworth, unconscious that each of the
names he might enumerate would represent to Rendel a possible
inexorable judge. Half London is here: Lady Chaloner, Pateleyall
sorts of people.
Pateley? said Rendel, the blood rushing to his face at the
association of ideas called up in his mind by that name.
Of course, said Wentworth. Pateley, flourishing like the
bay-tree. They say he is making thousands, and he looks as if he were.
Out of the Arbiter? asked Rendel.
The Arbiter, I suppose, or something else. But I have no
doubt he would tell you if you asked him. He does not impress me as
being one of the very reserved kind.
I don't know, said Rendel. I don't suppose Pateley ever says more
than he means to say, with all his air of hearty communicativeness.
Well, I daresay not, said Wentworth. The man's very good company
after all; and as long as none of our secrets are in his keeping, it
doesn't matter particularly.
Rendel said nothing. He felt he could not meet Pateley face to face
at this moment.
What do you do, then, all day here, said Wentworth, if you don't
drink the waters, and don't go to the Casino, and don't play Bridge?
I don't know. I don't do very much, said Rendel, with an
involuntary accent in the words that made Wentworth ponder over the
undesirability of marrying a wife who is in mourning and depressed.
You should go into the wood, said Wentworth, as the Germans do.
We found a lot of them the other day singing part-songs out of little
books. There is a band of them here called the Society of the United
Thrushes, composed of the most respectable and most middle-aged ladies
of the district.
That sounds charming, said Rendel.
Look here, said Wentworth, if you don't care to walk alone, do
let's walk together. One can go up here and along the wood for miles.
We'll have good long stretches as we used to at Oxford. What do you
think, Mrs. Rendel? Don't you think it would be a good thing for him?
Very, said Rachel with a smile. I think he ought to go and walk.
That's capital, said Wentworth. Let's do that to-morrow, shall
I should like it very much, said Rendel.
But the next day the weather broke, and was unsettled for three
days. On the Tuesday morning, happily for the bazaar and the big tent
in the grounds of the Casino, the sun shone out again, and everything
was radiant as before. Wentworth turned up at the pavilion in the
forenoon and persuaded Rendel to make a day of it. The two started off
together through the wood, the scented air floating round them, and
bringing to Rendel, as he strode along with a congenial companion, a
sense of mental and physical relief as though the atmosphere of both
kinds that he was breathing were as different from that which had
weighed him down a fortnight ago as the scent of the aromatic pines was
from the air of the London streets. Wentworth was full of talk, of a
kind it must be confessed which left his hearer at the end without any
very distinct impression of what it had been about, although it passed
the time agreeably and genially. He had his usual detached air, which
Rendel had always been accustomed to find a relief as opposed to his
own strenuous attitude, of standing aloof as an amused spectator of
I haven't seen you for ever so long, Wentworth was saying. What
became of you at the end of the season? You vanished somehow, didn't
We were in mourning, you know, Rendel replied.
Ah, to be sure, yes, Sir William Gore died, said Wentworth,
attuning his voice to what he considered a suitable key, on the
assumption that Rendel would feel still more bound to be loyal to his
father-in-law now than when, as he put it to himself, the old humbug
was alive. Poor Mrs. Rendel, she looks as if it had been a great blow
Yes, said Rendel, it was; and she has been ill besides. And he
told Wentworth briefly of what had happened to Rachel, and the
condition she was in, and the reassuring hopes held out by the doctors
that she would almost certainly recover her normal state.
I am very glad to hear that, said Wentworth cheerily. Then you
must come to London and start life again, Rendel, now you are free. Sir
William Gore was rather a responsibility, I daresay.
Yes, said Rendel, he was.
Let me see, said Wentworth, it was just about when he died, I
suppose, that Stamfordham published that sensational agreement with
Yes, said Rendel, it was the day before he died.
Ah, said Wentworth, the day before? Then of course you didn't
realise the excitement it was. By Jove! of course you know I'm not 'in'
all that sort of thing myself, but I must say I never saw such a fuss
and fizz as it was. The way it was sprung on people too! It was an
awfully bold thing to do, you know; but it turned up trumps after all,
that's the point. Stamfordham isn't like any body else, and that's the
What's that place we are coming to through the trees? said Rendel.
Why, that's it, said Wentworth. That's where we shall get
luncheon. They always have something ready for people who drop in.
It isn't crowded, is it? said Rendel.
My dear fellow, replied Wentworth, there is never anybody. I have
been there twice since I came; once there was a German doctor, and once
there was nobody.
All right, said Rendel.
You are sure to get veal, Wentworth said. In Germany, whatever
else is wanting, you can always get a veal cutlet to slake your thirst
with, after the longest and hottest walk.
I shall be quite content, said Rendel.
They went on across the hollow, and up a slight ascent. They
strolled idly round the woodland house, and saw, as they expected, in
the agreeable little garden behind, a long table all ready for
This is capital, said Wentworth. You see, as I told you, they
always expect people, and a waiting maid appearing at that moment,
Wentworth proceeded to order luncheon for himself and Rendel in the
best German he could muster. Unfortunately, however, the proprietor of
the establishment was engaged in his cellar on important business, and
the dialect spoken by the red-handed and red-cheeked maiden who
received them was not very intelligible. However, by dint of nodding of
heads and pointing out items on the bill of fare, they came to an
understanding, Wentworth taking for granted that something quite
unintelligible that she had said about the table was an inquiry as to
whether they would sit at it, which indeed it was. But it was further
an inquiry as to whether they were of the party that was coming to sit
at it, which he also quite cheerfully and unsuspectingly answered in
the affirmative. He then pulled out his watch, and pointing to a given
time at which he would return, he and Rendel went further away into the
When they returned, half an hour later, the little garden was no
longer empty. People were coming and going, the table was covered with
food; Lady Chaloner was seated at it, and at a little distance from her
Princess Hohenschreien, with M. de Moricourt inevitably in her wake.
Lady Chaloner's readiness in the German tongue was not equal at this
moment to her sense of injury. It was Princess Hohenschreien,
therefore, who was charged with the negotiations, and who was
discussing in voluble and amused German with the inn-keeper the
heinousness of his crime in having promised two unknown pedestrians a
seat at that very select table. The inn-keeper was full of apologies.
Not having a nice discrimination of the laws that govern the social
relations of our country, he had thought that if the strangers were
English they were entitled to sit down with the others.
What does he say, Maddy? said Lady Chaloner. Ask him if he can't
put them somewhere else. Good Heavens! here they are! she said
sotto voce as two people came through the trees at the bottom of
the garden, and then stopped in surprise at seeing how populous it had
become. Then, as Lady Chaloner looked at them, she suddenly realised
with relief that she knew them.
What! she cried, is it you? Are you the two people who came in
here and ordered luncheon in the middle of our party?
I am afraid we are, do you know, said Wentworth, as he came
forward. We didn't know how indiscreet we were being. We'll go
Not at all, not at all, said Lady Chaloner. How do you do, Mr.
Rendel? I have not seen you for a long time. Of course you must lunch
with us, so it all ends happily. Maddy, this is Mr. Francis
Rendel bowed. He had had one moment, as they came up into the garden
and saw there were other people there, before Lady Chaloner had
recognised them, to make up his mind as to what he would do. Then he
had said to himself desperately that he would risk it. After all, he
might be exaggerating the whole thing; Wentworth did not know, and so
the others might not. Rendel had felt during the last hour one of those
strange sudden lightenings of the burden of existence that for some
unexplained reason come to our help without our knowing why. He was
almost beginning to think life would be possible again. At any rate,
here, at the present moment, he would not try to remember or realise
what it was going to be, what it must be. He would sit here on this
peerless day with these pleasant friendly people, and this one hour at
any rate the sun should shine within and without.
That's right, said Lady Chaloner, pointing to two places some way
down the table at her left; sit anywhere.
As Wentworth and Rendel stood opposite to the Princess and her
attendant cavalier, the door of the house, which faced them, opened,
and Lady Adela Prestige appeared in the doorway, with some more people
How delightful this is! Lady Adela cried, as she stepped out into
Isn't it? said Lady Chaloner. Look how amusin', she continued.
Mr. Wentworth and Mr. Rendel have come to luncheon too, quite by
Lady Adela nodded to Wentworth, whom she was seeing every day, and
bowed to Rendel, whom she knew slightly. Then, as Rendel looked beyond
her, he saw who was coming out of the house in her wakeLord
Stamfordham, followed by Philip Marchmont. Stamfordham, coming out into
the dazzling sunlight, did not at first see who was there. In that
hurried, almost imperceptible interval, Rendel had time to grasp that
here was the horrible reality upon him in the worst form in which it
could have come. He had wild visions of saying something, doing
something, he knew not what, instantly repressed by the Englishman's
repugnance to a scene. Then he pulled himself together, and simply
stood and waited. And as he waited he saw Stamfordham come up to the
table with a pleased smile, prepared to sit down on Lady Chaloner's
right hand, next the seat into which Lady Adela had dropped. Then
Stamfordham suddenly saw the two men still standing on the other side
of the table, and recognised in one of them Francis Rendel. A swift
extraordinary change came over his face. The genial content of the man
who, having deliberately put all his usual cares and preoccupations
behind him was now, under the most favourable conditions, prepared to
enjoy a holiday in genial society, suddenly disappeared. He
involuntarily drew himself up, his face became hard and stern; he again
looked as Rendel had seen him look the last time they had met. The
mental agony of the younger man during that moment was almost
unendurable. What was going to happen next? As in a dream he heard the
comfortable voice of Lady Chaloner, who had never in her life,
probably, spoken with any misgivings, whose calm confidence in the
bending of contingency to her desires nothing had ever occurred to
Will you sit down there, Lord Stamfordham? We have two new recruits
to our party, you see. I don't think I need introduce either of them.
Stamfordham remained standing for a moment; then he said quietly,
but very distinctly
I am afraid, Lady Chaloner, that I can't sit down at this table.
A sort of electric shock ran through the careless happy people who
were surrounding him. Rendel turned livid. Then he tried to speak. But
no words could come; mentally and physically alike he could not frame
them. He pushed his chair away from the table, and moved out behind it;
then with his hands grasping the back of it, he bowed to Lady Chaloner
without speaking, turned and went away by the little opening in the
wood from which he and Wentworth had come. Wentworth, ready and
light-hearted as he generally was, was for one moment also absolutely
paralysed with amazement and concern, then saying hurriedly, Forgive
me, Lady Chaloner, I must go and see what has happened, he quickly
followed. Lord Stamfordham drew up his chair to the table and sat down.
His urbane, genial manner had returned, and he spoke as though nothing
had happened; the rest instantly took their cue from him.
What delightful quarters you have found for us, Lady Chaloner, he
said. I don't think I made acquaintance with this place when I was at
Schleppenheim last year.
Charmin', isn't it? said Lady Chaloner. And quite imperturbably,
at first with an effort, which became easier as the meal went on, the
whole party went on talking and laughing as usual, with, perhaps, if
the truth were known, an added zest of excitement, certainly on the
part of some of its members, at something having happened. The two
extra places that had been put were taken away again, and the rank
closed up indifferently and gaily round the table, as ranks do close up
when comrades disappear by the way.
In the meantime Rendel was madly hurrying away through the wood,
going straight in front of him, not knowing what he was doing, what he
proposed to dohis one idea being to get away, away, away from those
smiling, distinguished indifferent people, hitherto his own associates,
who now all knew the horrible fate that had overtaken him, who would
from henceforth turn their backs upon him too. The thought of that
moment when he had been face to face with Stamfordham, of those
distinct, inexorable tones, of the words which judged and for ever
condemned him, burnt like a physical, horrible flame from which he
could not escape. He flung himself down at last, and buried his face in
his hands, trying to shut out everything, as a frightened child pulls
the clothes over its head in the darkness. Then, to his terror, he
heard footsteps in the wood. Who was it? Was this some one else who
knew? Would he have to go through it all over again? And he lifted his
head in anguish as the steps drew nearer. The sight of the newcomer
brought him no relief. It was Wentworth, who, anxious and bewildered,
came stumbling along, having by some strange chance come in the
direction that brought him to the person he was seeking. Rendel looked
Well? he said, in a strained voice, as though demanding an
explanation of Wentworth's intrusion.
The sight of his face completely bewildered Wentworth.
Good God, Rendel! he said, what is it? What has happened?
There was a pause. Then Rendel said, trying with very indifferent
success to speak in a voice that sounded something like his own
Didn't you see what happened?
I saw thatthatStamfordham Wentworth began, then he
Yes, said Rendel curtly, you saw ityou saw what Stamfordham
did? Well, there's an end of it, and he looked miserably around him as
though hemmed in by the powers of earth and heaven.
But, Frank, Wentworth said, still feeling as if all this were some
frightful dream, one of those dreams so vivid that they live with the
dreamer for weeks afterwards, and sometimes actually go to make his
waking opinion of the persons who have appeared in them, tell
Jack, said Rendel, it's no good talking about it. I'll tell you
another time, I daresay, if I can. Leave me alone now, there's a good
fellowthat's all I want.
Look here, Frank, said Wentworth; if it's anythinganything that
Stamfordham thinks you've donethatthat you oughtn't to have
donewell, I don't believe it, that's all!
You are a good friend, old Jack, said Rendel, looking at him. I
might have known you wouldn't believe it.
Of course I don't, said Wentworth stoutly. I don't know what it
is, but I don't believe it all the same.
Well, said Rendel slowly, I'll tell you this for your
comfortyou needn't believe it.
Of course not, said Wentworth heartily, and I don't care what it
is, of course you didn't do it. And what's more, I know you can't have
done anything to be ashamed of, and of course other people will know it
too, he said sanguinely, carried along by his zealous friendship.
Rendel's face turned dark red again. No, he said, other people
won't. Of course other people will think I have done it. Don't let's
talk about it now. The fact is, mastering his voice with an effort, I
can't, Jack. Just go away, and leave me alone. I'll come back some
But what are you going to do? You're not going to sit here all day,
I'll come later, Rendel said. You must find your way back without
me, there's a good fellow. By the way, he added, I'm sorry to have
spoilt your day; I'm afraid you've had no luncheon. But you'll be back
in Schleppenheim in time to get some. Look here, would you mind saying
to my wife thatthat I've walked a little further than you cared to
go, or something of that sort, and that I'll be back at dinner time?
Very well, said Wentworth, hesitatingly. She is not likely to be
anxious, is she? he said dubiously. I mean, at your being away so
long. She won't be alarmed, will she?
Oh no, said Rendel. That is to say, if you don't alarm her. And
then looking up and seeing Wentworth's anxious expression, so very
unlike the usual one, And you needn't be alarmed yourself, Jack; I'm
not going to do anything desperate, he said, forcing a smile; that's
not in my line.
No, no, of course not, Wentworth said, with a sort of air of being
entirely at his ease. And then reading in Rendel's face how the one
thing he longed for was to be alone, he said abruptly, All right,
then, we shall meet later, and strode off the way he had come.
What a solution it would have been, Rendel felt, if he had indeed
been able to make up his mind to the step that Wentworth evidently
thought he might be contemplatingwhat an answer to everything! and as
again that burning recollection came over him he felt that, in spite of
the courage required for suicide, it would have required less courage
to put himself out of the world, beyond the possibility of its ever
happening again, than to remain in it and face what other agony of
humiliation Fate might have in store for him. But he was not alone,
unfortunately; his own destiny was not the only one in question. And if
his words, his intention, his faith in the future had meant anything at
all when he told Rachel that there was no sacrifice he would not be
ready to make for her, he was bound to go on doggedly and meet the
worst. He walked aimlessly through the wood, higher and higher, until
he reached a sort of clearing from which he could see, far below him,
the white road winding back again to Schleppenheim, and presently as he
looked he saw driving rapidly back in the direction of the town the
open carriages containing the people he had just left. Stamfordham must
be in one of them. What were they saying about him, those people? Or,
if not saying, what were they thinking? Could he ever look one of them
in the face again? Not one. And again he had a wild moment of thinking
that it would be possible to put the thing right, to establish his
innocence, to insist upon knowing how it was that Sir William Gore had
given the information to the Arbiter, on knowing what the
arrangement was with Pateley on which that coup de théâtre had
depended, and he sprang to his feet with the determination that he
would go straight back into Schleppenheim, seek out Pateley and insist
upon knowing what had happened. Then, just as before, the revulsion
came. The principal thing, he had no need to ask Pateley. He knew, and
that was the thing other people might not know. In a little while, he
was told, Rachel would be herself again, and perhaps able to remember:
she must not come back to the knowledge of something that must be such
a cruel blow to her faith in her father, her adoring love for him. And
yet as he turned downwards and strode hurriedly back along the woodland
paths, across the shafts of sunlight which were growing longer as the
day wore on, he felt how absurdly, horribly unequal the two things were
that were at stake. On the one hand his own future, his success, his
whole life, all the possibilities he had dreamt of; on the other,
reprobation falling on one who was beyond the reach of it, one who had
no longer any possibilities, who had nothing to lose, whose hopes and
fears of worldly success, whose agitations had been for ever stilled by
the hand of death. And Rachel? Would the suffering of knowing that her
father's memory was attacked, of being rudely awakened from her
illusions to find that in the eyes of the world he was not, and did not
deserve to be, what he had been in hers, would that suffering be equal
to that which he himself was encountering now? But even as he argued
with himself, as he tried to prove that his own salvation was possible,
he knew that when it came to the point he could do nothing. If it had
been a question of another man, whom he himself could have saved by
bringing the accusation home to the right quarter, he would have done
it, he would have felt bound to do it: but as it was, he knew perfectly
well that the thing was impossible. The fact is that, whether guided by
supernatural standards or by those of instinct and tradition, there are
very few of the contingencies in life in which the man accustomed to
act honestly up to his own code is really in doubt as to what, by that
code, he ought to do: and by the time that Rendel reached the little
garden again which he had left in the company of Wentworth a few hours
before, he knew quite well that he was going to do nothing, that he
might do nothing, that he must simply again wait. Wait for what? There
was nothing to come.
Two of the occupants of the carriages that Rendel had seen going
rapidly along the road knew the meaning of the scene that had taken
place under their eyes; the others were in a state of simmering
I should be glad, said Stamfordham, as they approached
Schleppenheim, if nothing could be said about what happened.
He was sitting opposite to Lady Chaloner and Lady Adela in a landau.
There was no need, of course, to explain to what he was referring.
Of course, of course, said Lady Chaloner, not quite knowing what
In the meantime Wentworth had got back, had been to see Rachel, and
had told her that Rendel was going to extend his walk a little further
and that he would be back without fail in time for dinner. He himself,
he added, had been obliged to come back for an engagement. Rachel
accepted quite placidly the fact that her husband would return later
than she expected; she thanked Wentworth with the same sweet smile of
old, asked where they had been, said the woods must have been
delightful. Then, feeling that he could do nothing, Wentworth, with
some misgiving, left her.
Rachel still felt the languor which succeeds illness,not an
unpleasant condition when there is no call for activity,a physical
languor which made her quite content to sit or lie out of doors most of
the day, sometimes walk a little way, and then come back to rest again.
She had accepted Rendel's unceasing solicitude for her with love and
gratitude, she clung to his presence more than ever now that both her
parents being gone she felt herself entirely alone: but for the rest
she was strangely content to let the days go by in a sort of luxury of
sorrow, while she recalled the happy time passed with those other two
beloved ones who had made up her life. But there was no bitterness in
the recollection; there was a sort of tender mystery over it still. At
times she felt as if there were something more; she had some dim,
confused recollection of her husband being connected with it all, and
with Gore's illness; how, she could not remember. And she did not try.
Deep down in her mind was the feeling that with a great effort it might
all come back to her; but she shrank from making the effort.
After Wentworth left her, it had occurred to her that, since Rendel
was not coming back again, she would venture outside the limits of
their garden and go to where the band was playing. She did not at all
realise what the surroundings of that band would be. The kind of life
that she had led before, when they had come abroad with Lady Gore, had
not been the sort of existence reigning at Schleppenheim. She strolled
out, feeling that everything was very strange and new, in the direction
of the music, following without knowing it a path which brought her
into the very middle of the promenade into the centre of a gaily
dressed throng of people, somewhat bewildering to one accustomed to
pass all her days in solitude. Shrinking back a little she turned out
of the stream, and, finding an unoccupied chair under a tree, sat down,
looking timidly about her. Then finding that no one was paying any
attention to her, or appeared to be conscious of the fact that she was
venturing out alone, she gradually became amused at watching all that
was going on round her. Presently two well-dressed women she did not
know, an older and a younger one, Lady Chaloner and Lady Adela Prestige
in fact, on their way to their bazaar, came along deep in talk, the
older one stopping to speak with some emphasis whenever the interest of
the conversation demanded it. One of these halts was made close by
I should like to know what it was, Lady Adela was saying.
You may depend upon it, said Lady Chaloner, that it was something
very bad. He is not the man to do that sort of thing for nothing.
I am quite sure of it, Lady Adela replied, with a little tremor of
excitement. One can't help feeling that it's something really bad;
that it was not only that he had run away with his neighbour's wife or
something of that kind. He must have done something that can't be
I am sure of it, Lady Chaloner said seriously. There is no doubt
Poor creature! said Lady Adela. Didn't he look awful?
Perfectly fearful! said Lady Chaloner. He looked like the villain
in a play, who is found outthe man who has cheated at cards, or
something of that sort.
Perhaps that was it.
I daresay, said Lady Chaloner. I wonder if he has been playing
Dear me, I wish I knew! said Lady Adela.
This sounded very interesting, Rachel thoughtexactly the kind of
thing that happened in books at smart watering-places.
Ah, there is Maddy, said Lady Adela. I do wonder what she
By the way, said Lady Chaloner, we must tell her not to say
anything about it.
But the Princess had driven back in the company of M. de Moricourt
and Mr. Marchmont, and had, therefore, not heard the warning given by
Stamfordham to his companions in the other landau.
Well, said the Princess eagerly, coming up to the others, what
did you think of that? Wasn't it amazing?
Yes, said Lady Adela. What do you think it was, Maddy?
Something awful, you may depend upon it, said the Princess; and I
am sure little Marchmont knows. We tried to make him tell us on the way
back, but he wouldn't. But I gathered somehow that Lord Stamfordham
couldn't have done anything else.
Lord Stamfordham! Did they say Stamfordham? Rachel thought to
herself wonderingly. Was he here? And she had some kind of queer,
puzzled feeling that he was connected in her mind with something that
had happened lately. What was it?
And Pateley doesn't know anything about it either, said the
Princess. I met him just now and asked him.
Did you? said Lady Chaloner. I don't think you ought to have done
that. I was going to tell you that Stamfordham said it was not to be
Did he? said the Princess, somewhat taken aback. I asked Mr.
Pateley because I thought he would be sure to know. But I made him
promise not to tell anybody.
I believe he did know, though, said Moricourt, who, though he
spoke his own language, understood perfectly everything that was said
in English. I wonder what the quiet and charming wife that Wentworth
admires so much thinks?
Poor thing! said Lady Chaloner gravely.
By the way, said Lady Adela with a sudden idea, Wentworth was
with him. Wentworth must know all about it, of course. He is sure to
come to the bazaar. We'll ask him.
Wentworth was with him? said Rachel to herself with an involuntary
movement, rising from her seat. Of whom were they speaking? What was it
all about? She was unconscious that she was standing scrutinising the
faces of the group near her as though trying to gather from them what
their words might mean. They, deep in their conversation, did not
notice her. Then, with a feeling of extraordinary reliefshe hardly
knew whyshe saw a familiar, substantial person coming along the
promenade with a sort of friendly swagger. She went forward to meet
him, still feeling as though she were walking in her sleep.
Mrs. Rendel! said Pateley in his usual hearty tone, in which there
was now an inflection of surprise and almost of anxiety.
Pateley had not met either of the Rendels since the day of his last
interview with Sir William Gore, and he had carefully not investigated
further the incident which had been of such great advantage to himself.
But in the last half-hour, since, under the seal of profound secrecy,
it had been confided to him what had happened at the luncheon, and he
had been anxiously asked what was the cloud hanging over Rendel, he had
pieced things together in a way which brought him pretty near the
truth. It was beginning to be clear to him that Stamfordham had somehow
visited upon Rendel the treachery into which he himself had practically
led Gore. Stamfordham had asked Pateley at the time of the disclosure
how the Arbiter had become possessed of the information. Pateley
had apologetically declined to give an explanation. But the ardent
support given by the Arbiter to Stamfordham's action in the
matter and to all his subsequent policy had made it tolerably certain
that Stamfordham would not bear him much malice. And, as a matter of
fact, the whole affair had added to Stamfordham's reputation. The
masterly way in which he had caught up the situation and dealt with it
after the premature disclosure of the Agreement had added a fresh
laurel to his crown.
As Pateley uttered the words, Mrs. Rendel, the whole of the group
who were standing near turned with a common impulse as if a thunderbolt
had fallen into their midst, and he grasped at once that they had been
talking within earshot of her of something she ought not to have heard.
Lady Adela was the first to recover her presence of mind.
Come, she said; we must go and take our places. I mean to have
some tea if we can get it before the opening, and she made a move in
which the others joined.
Pateley, remaining by Rachel, lifted his hat to them as they
strolled away. How long have you been at Schleppenheim? he asked. I
had no idea you were here.
We have been here, said Rachellet me seeabout a week.
She looked anxious and disturbed.
And where are you staying? said Pateley.
In the little pavilion behind the Hôtel de Londres, and she
Charming place, said Pateley. And how is your husband?
He is very well, thank you, said Rachel. He has been out for a
long walk to-day; he went for an expedition to the woods with Mr.
And she looked as if something else that she did not say were on the
tip of her tongue.
It must have been delightful in the woods to-day, said Pateley,
hardly knowing what he answered. He also was preoccupied by the story
he had heard and wondering how much she knew of it. Are you going home
now? he said, as Rachel turned away from the promenade in the
direction she had pointed out.
I think so. I am a little tired, said Rachel, holding out her
May I come and see you? Pateley said.
Please do, said Rachel.
I certainly shall, Pateley said. It will be delightful to get
away for a little while from this seething mass of humanity.
And he again gave one of his loud laughs as he also went towards the
tent, to plunge with the greatest zest into the seething mass whose
company he had been contemning.
Rachel turned in the other direction and walked slowly back to the
pavilion. What had happened? What had she been hearing? The slightest
mental exertion still made her head ache, but she was conscious that if
she once let herself go and made the effort it would be possible for
her to understand. But that moment had not come yet.
She had not been many minutes in her quiet shady garden when the
little gate at the bottom of it was thrown open, and her husband came
quickly in, looking round him with an anxious, hurried glance as though
not knowing what he might find. What had he expected? He could hardly
have told. But as he drew nearer and nearer he had been gradually
nerving himself for the worst. He had been dreading to find he knew not
what. Wentworth might be sitting with Rachel, the faces of both telling
that Wentworth's would-be explanations had been of no avail; or Rachel
herself might have been absentshe might have strolled out into the
crowd and there unawares heard rumours of what he felt convinced must
by this time be in every one's mind, on every one's lips. It was
therefore for the moment an unmeasured relief to find that all seemed
as usual, that Rachel was sitting there quiet and cool before her
Ah! he almost gasped, with a long sigh, as he sank into a chair
and leant his head against the back of it with a weary, hunted look.
Frank! said Rachel anxiously, what is the matter? What has
What do you mean? he said, sitting up, with again the startled,
haggard expression on his face. What should have happened?
I don't know, Rachel said, startled too at his look and manner.
You look so tired, so ill.
Oh, I'm all right, he said, taking up and drinking eagerly the cup
of tea that almost mechanically she had poured out and pushed towards
him, and as he did so he realised that he had had no food since the
morning. He ate and drank and then again lay back in his chair and was
silent. As Rachel looked at him the absolute conviction swept over
hershe knew not whythat he had been concerned in the terrible
catastrophe of which she had heard the broken accounts. It began to
dawn upon her that in some inconceivable way the thing had happened to
him; that it was of him those women were speaking. She still heard Lady
Adela saying: Did you ever see any one look so awful? And yet what
could it be? What horrible misunderstanding was it? What horrible
mistake could have been made?
She sat and waited. Not the least of her charms was that she knew,
what many women do not know, how to sit absolutely quiet. She knew when
to refrain from questioning, how to sit by her companion in so
peaceful, so final a manner, as it were, that he did not feel that she
was simply waiting for what he would do next.
The band blared out again with renewed vigour. Rendel leant his
elbows on his knees, his face between his hands.
Oh! that miserable noise! he said. Will it never leave off? The
hideousness of it all!those people, that band! Oh! to get away from
it all! he muttered half to himself.
Frank, said Rachel entreatingly, touching his arm, if you don't
like it why shouldn't we go away from it? I think it is horrible, too.
I went out of the garden to-day to where the people were walking.
Rendel looked up quickly.
Did you? Did you see any one you knew?
Yes, said Rachel; I saw Mr. Pateley.
Pateley! said her husband. Did you have any talk with him? What
did he say?
Hardly anything, said Rachel. He was surprised to see me, and
asked how long we had been here, and if he might come and see us. That
That was all, echoed Rendel, again with an inward shiver. Coming
to see us, is he?
That encounter for the moment he must at any cost avoid.
Frank, I wonder if we must go on staying here? Rachel said.
Of course we must, Rendel replied, trying to pull himself together
again. Dr. Morgan said that this was the very best place for you to
come to, and that the waters would do you all the good in the world.
I wonder if we need, said Rachel. I am sure it is the kind of
thing you hate.
It is not for very long, after all, said Rendel, trying to smile.
He was gradually regaining possession of himself, but was still
afraid to trust himself to utter any but the most commonplace and
The moment I have done the cure, said Rachel, we'll go back to
London, won't we? And you can begin your work again, and do all the
things you like. And then, she went on with an attempt at lightness of
tone, you can go back to your beloved politics, and think of nothing
else all day. And she went on talking of their house, of their
arrival, of what they would do, in a forlorn little attempt to show him
that she meant to try to shoulder life valiantly, although it had been
so altered. You will stand for somewhere. You will go into the House.
Rendel thought of what the life might have been that she was
sketching, and what it was going to be now. What he had gone through
that day was an earnest probably of what awaited him many a time if he
should try to lead his life as he used to lead it, among the people who
were congenial to him.
No, he said, I'm not going to stand. I'm not going into the
House. I shan't have anything to do with politics.
What? said Rachel, looking at him startled.
All that, is at an end, he said firmly. Then with the relief of
speaking, came the irresistible desire to go on, to tell her something
at least of what his fate was, although he might not tell the thing
that mattered most.
Do you remember, he said, something that I told you had
happened he broke off, then began again. Tell me, he said,
impelled to ask, how much you remember, if you remember anything, of
those days when your father was so ill, at the end, just before he
died, or is it still a blank to you?
No, I can't remember, she said. The last thing I remember clearly
is one afternoon when he was beginning to be worse and had to go
upstairs again; and I remember nothing more after that till, and her
voice trembled, tilla day that I woke up in bed and wanted to go to
him, and you told me thatthat he was dead. The rest of that time is a
How extraordinary it is! muttered Rendel to himself.
I did not even know, said Rachel, that I had fallen on the
stairs, until the doctor told me days afterwards that I had caught my
foot as I was running downstairs. He told me then it was no use trying
to remember the time just before, she went on in a low, anxious voice,
something stirring uneasily within her: that it might not come back at
all. It seems it doesn't sometimes to people who have that sort of
Rendel, his eyes fixed on the ground, had been listening; he took in
the meaning of her words and tried to realise their bearing on himself,
but he was too far gone on the slope to stop. It was clear that she
would not know what had happened, unless she were told by himself...
and yet, who could tell how the awakening would come? it might even be
in a worse form when she was able once more to mix with her kind.
Rachel, he said. I want to tell you something that happened the
day before your father became worse, the day before you had that
accident, the last day, in fact, that you remember. She looked at him
with anxious eagerness. Something tremendously important happened.
Lord Stamfordham brought me some private notes of his own to decipher
Of course, said Rachel, that I remember. In your study
You remember? said Rendel eagerly. Then instantly conscious, alas,
that the evidence could do him no kind of good, that I gave some
papers to Thacker to take to Stamfordham?
Stop a minute, said Rachel. Yes, I remember that too. My father
wanted to play chess afterwards, but he was too tired.
In those papers, said Rendel, there was a very important secret,
though it didn't remain a secret, he added, with a bitter little
laugh, for twenty-four hours. Those papers contained the notes of a
conversation at the German Embassy at which that agreement was decided
upon by which Germany and England divided Africa between them. It was
I copied those papers from Stamfordham's notes. I copied the map of
Africa with a line down the middle of it. The next morning, no one knew
how or why, that map appeared in the Arbiter.
Rachel looked at him, still not understanding all that was implied.
Do you see what that means for me? Rendel said. It was not
Stamfordham published it, he did not mean to do so until the moment
should come, and since I was the person who had had the original notes,
he thought that I had published it; that I had let it out, somehow.
You! said Rachel, with wide-open eyes.
Yes, said Rendel shortly. That I had betrayed the great secret
entrusted to me.
Frank! she cried. But of course you didn't!
Of course I didn't, Rendel said quietly.
Andthen? said Rachel breathlessly.
Then, Rendel said, shrinking at the very recollection,
Stamfordham told me he believed I had done it. Then of course,and
the words came with an effortthere was an end of everything, and I
knew that there was nothing left for me to do but to go under, to throw
everything up. I knew that people would turn their backs upon me, and I
didn't see Stamfordham again untiluntil to-day. And to-day Wentworth
and I went up to that place in the woods to lunch, and by chance, by
the most horrible, evil fortune, we came upon a luncheon party at which
Stamfordham was, andand, he said trying to speak calmly, when he
saw me he refused to sit down at the same table with me. And as he
spoke Rachel felt that things were becoming clear to her and that she
was beginning to understand. The comments of the people who had stood
by her and discussed the scene they had witnessed still rang in her
ears, and she realised what the horror of that scene must have been.
Frank! she cried, with her tears falling. And she went to him and
took his hand, then drew his head against her bosom as though to give
him sanctuary. Imagine believing that you, you of all
people... and the broken words of comfort and faith in him, of love
and belief again gave him a moment of feeling that rehabilitation might
Frank! Rachel went on, tell me this. Did my father know?
Know what? Rendel said, starting up, the iron reality again facing
That you were accused? That they could believe that you had done
such a shameful thing?
Yes, said Rendel slowly. At least he knew what had
happenedandandhe guessed that the suspicion would fall upon me.
Oh! cried Rachel, hiding her face in her hands and trying to
steady her voice. I am sorry he knew just at the end. I wonder if he
Rendel said nothing. Even now was Sir William Gore to stand between
Perhaps he didn't, Rachel said, almost entreatingly, as he was so
ill. Because think what it would have been to him! Of course he would
have known it was not true, but he was so fastidious, so terribly
sensitive, the mere thought that you could have been suspected of such
a thing even would have preyed upon him so terribly.
Well, said Rendel, in a low voicethe last possibility of
clearing himself was put behind him, and the darkness fell againhe
is beyond reach of it. It is I who must suffer now.
Rachel had walked to the other side of the garden, pressing her
handkerchief to her eyes and trying to control herself. Now she came
swiftly back, a sudden determination in her heart.
Frank, she cried, why must you suffer? We must find out who
really did it.
I can't, said Rendel.
But have you tried?
Yes, he said. As much as was possible.
But it must be possible, she cried. And she came to him, her eyes
and face glowing with resolve. If the whole world came to me and said
that you had done this I should not believe it. I remember so well my
mother saying, the day that I came back from Maidenhead, and their
eyes met in the recollection of that happy, cloudless time, 'what a
man needs is some one to believe in him,' and I thought to myself that
whenifI married I would believe in my husband as she believed in my
At this moment one of the Swiss waiters came quickly through the
pavilion into the garden.
Monsieur Pateley, he said, wishes to know if Madame is at home.
Rachel and her husband looked at each other in consternation.
I can't see him at this moment, Rendel said, going to the gate.
Can't we send him away? said Rachel, anxiously.
Where is he? addressing the waiter. But it was too late. The
question answered itself, as Pateley's large form appeared behind that
of the waiter, distinctly seen on every side of it. Rachel, trying to
control her face into a smile of welcome, went forward to meet him as
Rendel disappeared amongst the trees, from whence he could get round
into the house another way.
We do not move unfortunately all in one piece. It would be much
simpler if we did, and if our actions could be accounted for by saying,
He did this, being a generous man, or a forgiving man, or a curious
man, or a remorseful man. Unhappily, and it makes our actions more
difficult to account for, we are more complicated than this, and
Pateley, when he finally felt impelled to make his way into Rachel's
presence so soon after parting from her in the promenade, could not
probably have said exactly what motive prompted him to seek her. To
Rachel he arrived as the complement, the consolidation, of the resolve
that she had made. She hardly tried to conceal her agitation as she
shook hands with him and looked in his face. Her own wore an expression
that had not been there an hour ago. Something new had come to life in
it. So conscious were they both of something abnormal, overmastering,
between them that there did not seem anything strange in the fact that
for a moment, after the first greeting, they stood without thinking of
any of the commonplaces of intercourse. Then Pateley, more accustomed
to overlay the realities of life by the conventional outside, recovered
himself and said in an ordinary tone, looking round him
What a delightful oasis! What charming quarters you are in here!
Yes, we like them very much, said Rachel, recovering herself; and
they went towards the little table and sat down.
No tea for me, thank you, said Pateley. I have just been made to
drink a liquid distantly resembling it at the bazaar.
At the bazaar? said Rachel. It was German tea, I suppose?
I imagine so. It has been well said, said Pateley, that no nation
has yet been known great enough to produce two equally good forms of
national beverage. We have good tea, but our coffee is abominable: the
Germans have good coffee, but their tea is poison. The Spaniards, I
believe, have good chocolate, but that I have to take on hearsay. I
have never been to Spain. I mean to go some day, though.
Do you? Rachel said, dimly hearing his flow of words while she
made up her mind what her own were to be. She had had so little time to
form her plan of action, to piece together all that she had been
hearing during the afternoon, that it was not yet clear to her that
from the circumstances of the case Pateley must necessarily be
concerned in it; and at the moment she began to speak she simply looked
upon him as some one who knew Rendel in London, who had known her
father and mother, who had a general air of bluff and hearty
serviceability, and had presented himself at a moment when she had no
one else to turn to.
Mr. Pateley, she said, and at the sudden ring of resolution in her
tone Pateley's face changed and his smiling flow of chatter about
nothing came to a pause. There is something I want very much to ask
you about, she went on, something I want your help in.
I am at your orders, said Pateley, with a smile and bow that
concealed his surprise.
It is something that matters very, very much, Rachel went on.
Something you could find out for me.
Pateley said nothing.
I don't know if you know, she went on hurriedlyif you heard, of
what happened to me in London just before my father died? I had an
accident. It seemed a slight one at the time. I fell down on the stairs
one evening that he was worse when I ran down quickly to fetch my
husband, and I had concussion of the brain afterwards and was
unconscious for forty-eight hours. And since, I have not been able to
remember anything of what happened during those days.
Pateley made a sort of sympathetic sound and gesture.
But, Rachel said, I have heard to-daynot until to-dayof
something that happened during that time, something terrible. I am
going to tell it to you, in the greatest confidence. You will see when
I tell you that it matters very, very much. First of all,this I
rememberon the day my father began to be worse, Lord Stamfordham
brought my husband some papers to copy for him in which was the
Agreement with Germany, and told him no one was to know about them, and
my husband told no one, and sent them back, when they were done, to
Stamfordham, in a sealed packet.
Pateley, as he listened, sat absolutely impenetrable, with his eyes
fixed on the ground.
But somebody got hold of them, she went onsomebody must have
stolen them, because they were published the next morning in the paper,
in the Arbiter. And as the words left her lips she suddenly
realised that the man in front of her was the one of all others in the
world who must know what had happened. The Arbiter was embodied
in Pateley, it was Pateley: that, everybody knew, everybody repeated.
Pateley would, he must, be able to tell her.
Oh, she cried, the Arbiter is your paper!
Yes, said Pateley, looking at her.
Then, she said, you knowyou must know.
Know what? he said calmly.
You must know, she said, who it was told the Arbiter what
was in those papers.
Pateley sat silent a moment. Then he said
It can and does happen occasionally that things are brought to the
Arbiter of which I don't know the origin, in fact of which the
origin is purposely kept a secret.
She waited for him to add something to this sentence, to add a
but to it, but he remained silent. Being unversed in diplomatic
evasions, she accepted his words as a disclaimer.
But still, she said, even if you don't know this you could find
it out. It matters terribly. I don't want to say to any one else, it is
not a thing to be told, how horribly it matters, but I must tell you, that you may see. Lord Stamfordham thought that my husband had
betrayed the secrethe told him so then. And to-dayit was too
terrible!he was at a luncheon to which Frank and Mr. Wentworth went,
not knowing A sudden involuntary change in Pateley's face made her
stop and say, But perhaps you were there? Were you at the luncheon?
No, said Pateley. I was not there.
But you heard about it? she said.
Yes, he said after a pause. I heard about it.
It's too horrible! said Rachel, covering her face with her hands.
Of course you heard about iteverybody will hear about it: how Lord
Stamfordham insulted him and refused to sit down with him, because of
the unjust accusation that was brought against him. Now do you see,
she said excitedly, and Pateley, as he looked at her, was amazed at the
fire that shone from her eyes, at the glow of excitement in her whole
beingnow do you see how much it matters? how if we don't find out
the truth, if we don't get to know who did it, this is the kind of
thing that will happen to him? You see now, don't you? You will help
Pateley had got up and restlessly paced to the end of the garden and
back, his eyes fixed on the ground, Rachel breathlessly watching him.
He was moved at her distress, he felt the stirrings of something like
remorse at the fate that had overtaken Rendel. But in Pateley's
Juggernaut-like progress through the world he did not, as a rule, stop
to see who were the victims that were left gasping by the roadside. As
long as the author of the mischief drives on rapidly enough, the evil
he has left behind him is not brought home to him so acutely as if he
is compelled to stop and bend over the sufferer. But a brief moment of
reflection made him pretty clear that neither himself nor the
Arbiter had anything to fear from the disclosure. He had nothing
particularly heroic in his composition; he would not have felt called
upon for the sake of Francis Rendel, or even for the sake of Rendel's
wife, to sacrifice his own destiny and possibilities if it had been a
question of choosing between his own and theirs; but fortunately this
choice would not be thrust upon him. He looked up and met Rachel's eyes
fixed upon him.
Yes, he said. I will help you.
Oh, thank you! she cried, her heart swelling with relief. Will
you, can you find out about it?
Yes, said Pateley again. He paused a moment, then came back and
stood in front of her. I have no need to find out, he said slowly. I
know who did it.
Rachel sprang up.
What? she cried, quivering with anxiety. Do you mean that you
know now, that you can tell Frank, that you can tell Lord Stamfordham?
Oh, why didn't you say so?
I didn't know, he said, that Stamfordham had accused your husband
of it, and so I keptI was rather bound to keepthe other man's
The other man? Rachel repeated, looking at him.
Yes, said Pateley. The man who did it.
Rachel started. Of course, yesif her husband had not done it some
one else had, they were shifting the horrible burden on to another. But
that other deserved it, since he was the guilty man.
Yes, she said lower, of course I know there is some one else!it
is very terriblebutbutit's right, isn't it, that the man who has
done it should be accused and not one who is innocent?
Yes, said Pateley, it is right.
You must tell me, she said, you must!you must tell me
everything now, as I have told you. Is it some one to whom it will
matter very much?
No, he said at length, it won't matter to him.
Rachel looked at him, not understanding.
He went on, Nothing will ever matter to him again. He is dead.
Dead, is he? said Rachel, but even in the horror-struck tone there
rang an accent of glad relief. Then it can't matter to him. And it is
right, after all, that people should know what he did. It is right, it
is justice, isn't it? she repeated, as though trying to reassure
herself, not only because of Frank?
Yes, said Pateley, I believe that it is right, that it is
justice. Then as he looked at her he suddenly became conscious of an
unwonted difficulty of speech, of an almost unknown wave of emotion
rising within him, of shrinking from the words he was now clear had to
Mrs. Rendel, he said at last, I am afraid it will be very painful
to you to hear what I am going to say.
She looked at him bewildered. He waited one moment, almost hoping
that the truth might dawn upon her before he spoke, but she was a
thousand miles from being anywhere near it. Those papers which I
published in the Arbiter the next morning were shown to me on
the afternoon your husband had them to copy, by again the strange
unfamiliar perturbation stopped him, and he felt he had to make a
distinct effort to bring the name outyour father, Sir William Gore.
Rachel said absolutely nothing. She looked at him with dilated eyes,
incredulous amazement and then horror in her face, as she saw in his
that he was telling her the truth.
My father? she said at last, with trembling lips.
Yes, Pateley said. The worst was over now, he felt, and he had
recovered possession of himself.
No, no, it can't be! she said miserably. It's not possible....
I fear it is, said Pateley. They were shown to myself, you see,
so it is an absolute certainty.
But when was it? said Rachel, bewildered. When did he have them?
They were left, Pateley said, in the study where he was, when
your husband went down to speak to Lord Stamfordham. During that time I
happened to go in.
And as Rachel listened to his brief account of what had taken place
she knew that there was no longer any doubt as to the culprit. For the
moment, as the idol of her life fell before her in ruins the discovery
she had made swallowed up everything else. Pateley made a move.
Wait, wait! she said. Don't go away. Only wait till I see what I
must do. It is all so horrible! I see nothing clearly yet.
He walked away to the other end of the little garden.
She leant back in her chair, her eyes fixed, seeing nothing, trying
to make up her mind. Gradually what she must do became more and more
distinct to her, more and more inevitable. The sheer force of her
agitation and emotion were carrying her own. If she acted at once,
within the next half-hour, anything, everything might be possible. She
would not wait to think, she would do it now, while it was still
possible to pronounce the name, the dear name that she had hardly been
able to bring to her lips during these last weeks in which every day,
every hour, she had been conscious of her loss. She would go to the
person who must be told, and who alone could remedy the great evil that
had been done. She got up, a despairing determination in her face.
Pateley looked at her, his face asking the question which he did not
put in words.
I am going to Lord Stamfordham, she said. I am going to tell
You? said Pateley. Are you going to tell him yourself?
Yes, she said, it is I who must tell him. I have quite made up my
mind. She turned to him appealingly as though taking for granted he
would help her. I want to go now, while I feel I can, and before Frank
knows anything about it. Can you help mewould you help me to find
Certainly, said Pateley, with a new admiration for Rachel rising
within him, but with some misgivings, however, as to the possibility or
the desirability of running Stamfordham to earth among his present
Do you know where he is? Rachel said.
I should think probably at the bazaar, said Pateley, and as he
reflected on the scene he had just left, Stamfordham surrounded by a
bevy of attractive ladies beseeching him to give them an autograph, to
buy a buttonhole, to drink their tea, to put into their raffles, and to
have his fortune told, he felt still more dubious as to the mission he
was engaged upon. Fortunately Rachel realised none of these things.
Come, then, let us go, she said, with a vibrating anxiety and
excitement, at strange variance with the usual atmosphere that
surrounded her, and he followed her out of the garden in the direction
of the Casino.
Pateley, who had been caught up in some measure into the excitement
of Rachel's emotion, was brought back to earth again with a run, as he
passed with her through the brightly coloured hangings which drooped
over the portals of the bazaar and found themselves in the gay crowd
within. His misgivings grew as he felt more and more the incongruity of
the errand they were bent upon to the preoccupations of the people who
surrounded them. There was no doubt that, whatever the ultimate result
as far as Mrs. Birkett and the needs she represented were concerned,
the bazaar, that subsidiary consideration apart, was being very
successful indeed. The sound of voices and laughter filled the air, and
the gloomy previsions Lady Chaloner had felt as to the lack of buyers
were apparently not realised, since the whole of the available space
surrounded by the stalls was filled with people engaged in some sort of
very active and voluble commercial transactions with one another which,
financial result or not, were of a most enjoyable kind, to judge by the
bursts of laughter they necessitated. Rachel, pale, strung up, with the
look of determination in her face called up in the usually timid by an
unwonted resolve, was making her way, or rather trying to do so, in
Pateley's wake, bewildered by the sights and sounds around her. Pateley
at each step was beset by some laughing vendor from whom he had much
ado to escape, and indeed in most cases did not succeed in doing so
without having paid toll. By the time he had gone half along the room
he was the possessor of three tickets for raffles, for each of which he
had paid a sum he would have grudged for the unneeded article that was
being raffled. He had bought several single flowers, each one on terms
which should have commanded an armful of roses, and he had had three
dips into a bag from which fortunately he had emerged with nothing more
permanent than sawdust. Rachel also had been accosted by a vendor as
soon as she came in, a moment of poignant embarrassment for all parties
concernedherself, her escort, and the fascinating seller who had
offered her wares, for Rachel, looking at her with startled eyes, felt
in her pocket as though at last seeing what was wanted of her, and then
stammered, I'm so sorry, I have no money with me. Pateley knew the
vendor; it was no other than Mrs. Samuels, who had emerged from behind
her stall, and was making the round of the bazaar with a basket of most
attractive-looking cakes. His eye met hers in hurried and involuntary
misgiving, mutely telling her that Rachel was not a suitable customer,
and that she had better carry her wares elsewhere. She at once
responded to the unconscious confidence and returned to himself.
Now, Mr. Pateley, she said ingratiatingly, you, I know, never
refuse a cake. Look, these are what you had when you came to tea with
me the other day. Now, I'll choose you the very best.
Of course, if you will choose one for me, said Pateley gallantly.
Oh, but one is not enough, she said, you must have twoyou
really must. Five marks. Thank you so much! and she tripped off.
Pateley, who had already, as we have seen, spent a good deal of time
and of the money which is supposed to be its equivalent in the bazaar
before going to see Rachel, began to be conscious that before he got
round it again he would have spent a sum large enough to have kept him
another week in Schleppenheim. However, he said to himself with a
sigh, it is all part of the story, I suppose. In his inmost soul he
felt the conviction that he was altogether, in his strange progress
through the joyous crowd with that pale, anxious companion, going
through a sufficient penance to make amends for the misfortune of which
he was the primary cause.
Where is Lord Stamfordham? whispered Rachel anxiously. Do you see
Not at this moment, said Pateley, looking vainly in every
direction. The difficulties of his quest, and the still worse
difficulties that would certainly face him when the object of that
quest should be attained, loomed with increased terror before him.
The names of the stallholders, of the performers, waved above their
respective quarters. In the corner of the great tent was a
mysterious-looking enclosure, of which the entrance was closed by a
curtain, and above which hung the legend, Oriental Fortune-telling.
Lady Adela Prestige. Lady Adela Prestige! That was probably the most
likely place to try for. I think he may be over there, he said, and
without a word, hardly conscious of the people who were passing
through, Rachel followed him.
Hallo, Pateley, is that you? said a cheery voice. He turned round
and saw Wentworth, a packet of tickets in his hand. Would you like to
have a ticket for the performing dog? said Wentworth, not seeing who
Pateley's companion was.
No, said Pateley, almost savagely, thankful to be accosted by some
one whom he need not answer by a smile and a compliment. I don't want
any fooling of that sort now.
My dear fellow, said Wentworth, amazed, what have you come here
for, then? and as he spoke he saw Rachel behind Pateley, and realised
that something was happening that had no connection with the business
of the bazaar.
Look here, Pateley said aside to him, do you know where
Over there, said Wentworth, with some inward wonder, pointing
towards Lady Adela's corner. I saw him there just now.
Ah! said Pateley, all right, hardly knowing if he was relieved
or not, but desperately threading his way in the direction indicated,
still followed by Rachel.
Wentworth looked after them in surprise.
What is that you are saying, Mr. Wentworth? said a voice in his
ear, and he turned quickly and found himself face to face with Mrs.
Samuels. A performing dog? Where? I am quite sure it must be
performing better than Princess Hohenschreien.
Wentworth replied by eagerly offering a ticket.
Let me offer you a ticket, Mrs. Samuels, and then you shall see for
Well, I will take a ticket, she said, on condition that you will
tell me honestly what the performance is.
Certainly, said Wentworth, with a bow, offering the ticket and
receiving a gold piece in exchange. It is Lady Chaloner's Aberdeen
terrier. He sits up and begs with a piece of biscuit on his nose while
somebody says 'Trust!' and 'Paid for!'
That is a most extraordinary and novel trick, said Mrs. Samuels
It is unique, said Wentworth; and sometimes he tosses the biscuit
in the air when they say 'Trust,' sometimes when they say 'Paid for,'
but generally he drops on all fours and eats it before they have
Thank you, said Mrs. Samuels. I am afraid Princess
Hohenschreien's performance will be best after all. Then Wentworth
suddenly saw from her face that some other attraction was approaching
from behind him, and turned quickly round as Mrs. Samuels, with her
most beguiling air, advanced and offered her basket of cakes to Lord
Now, milord, she said. I am sure you must be hungry.
And what makes you think that? said Stamfordham, whose air of
willing response and admiration made it quite evident that Mrs.
Samuels's blandishments were not usually exercised in vain. Do I look
pale, or haggard, or weary?
None of these, said Mrs. Samuels; but I am sure it is a long time
since I had the privilege of offering you a cup of tea at my stall.
Quite half an hour, I should think.
Quite possible, said Stamfordham. All I can say is that it seems
to me an eternity since I last had the pleasure of receiving anything
at your hands. Pray give me a bag of those cakes. You baked them
yourself, of course?
Of course, Mrs. Samuels said, with a little rippling laugh. And
then in answer to Stamfordham's smile of incredulity, All is fair in
... bazaars and war, you know.
In the meantime, Wentworth, enlisted, he himself did not understand
how or why, in the anxious quest in which he saw Pateley and Rachel
engaged, had hurried after Pateley, whose broad back he saw
disappearing, to tell him of Lord Stamfordham's whereabouts. Pateley
turned quickly round. Lord Stamfordham was coming towards them, with
Mrs. Samuels, wreathed in smiles, at his side.
I think, she was saying, when you have eaten those cakes you can
drink some more tea, don't you think so?
It is not improbable, Stamfordham replied. But was our bargain
that I was to eat them all myself?
Certainly, Mrs. Samuels replied.
My dear lady, Stamfordham said, I will engage to eat every one of
them that you have baked, I can't say more. And in the meantime I am
bound on a very foolish errand. I have sworn to go and have my fortune
told, and as Mrs. Samuels's eye, with a careless and ingenuous air,
rested upon Lady Adela's name above the tent, she smiled inwardly at
the thought that what that astute lady might possibly prophesy would
also perhaps come true if, as well as prophesying, she eventually
brought her intelligence to bear upon its accomplishment.
Wait one moment, Pateley said, almost nervously, to Rachel. There
is Stamfordham, he is coming this way, and as Stamfordham drew near
the door of the tent Pateley accosted him.
Lady Adela, it may be presumed, had some occult means of discovering
from inside who was drawing near her fateful quarters, or else she had
the simpler methods more usually employed by mortals, of looking to
see. At all events, as Stamfordham came towards her enclosure, she
appeared on the threshold and winningly lifted the mysterious curtain,
burlesquing a low curtsey in reply to Stamfordham's bow.
Lord Stamfordham! Pateley said hurriedly. Stamfordham, in some
surprise, looked round. He had been seeing Pateley on and off during
the day. Why did he accost him in this way? But the urgent note in his
voice arrested his attention. Then, as he looked up, he saw an anxious
pale-faced, girlish figure standing by Pateley, looking at him with
large brown eyes filled with indescribable anxiety. It was a face that
he knew, that he had seen somewhere. Who was it? For one puzzled moment
he tried to remember. Pateley took the bull by the horns.
Lord Stamfordham, he said, Mrs. Rendel wants to speak to you.
Mrs. Rendel! Of course it was Mrs. Rendel. He had last seen her that
day at Cosmo Place. Again a wave of indignation rushed over him. Rachel
advanced desperately, looking as though she were going to speak.
Stamfordham, involuntarily looking round him at the crowd of observers
and listeners, said quickly in a low voice, I am very sorry, it is no
good. It is impossible. And then to Pateley, It is no good, I can't
do anything. You must tell her so, and he passed through the curtain
which Lady Adela let drop behind him. Rachel looked at Pateley, then to
his amazement and also to his involuntary admiration she lifted the
curtain and passed in too.
The two people inside stood aghast at her appearance. She had
followed so quickly upon Stamfordham's steps that he was still standing
looking round him at his strange surroundings, Lady Adela facing him
with a smile of welcome. The apparatus of the fortune-teller apparently
consisted in certain cabalistic propertieswands, dials with signs
upon them, and the likearranged round a table. Stamfordham spoke
first. He was absolutely convinced that Rachel had come to appeal to
him for mercy, and was as absolutely clear that it was an appeal to
which he could not listen.
Mrs. Rendel, he said, I am afraid I am obliged to tell you that I
cannot listen to anything you may have to say. I can guess, of course,
why you have come here, and I am sorry for you, he said,
leaning on the pronoun. But I can do nothing, and he spoke slowly and
inexorably, I can do nothing for either you or your husband. But
Rachel had now lost all fear, all misgiving.
I don't think, she said, unconsciously drawing herself up and
looking straight at him, you know what I have come to say, and I must
ask you to listen for a moment.
I think I do know, Stamfordham said sternly, and she saw he meant
to go out.
I have come to tell you, she said, quickly standing between him
and the door, that my husband was wrongfully accused of the thing that
you believed he did. Stamfordham shook his head: this was what he
expected to hear. I know who did it, I have found out to-day, and she
grew more and more assured as she went on. Stamfordham started, then
looked incredulous again. I have come to tell you who did it, that you
may know my husband is innocent. Then she became aware of Lady Adela,
who, having at first been much annoyed at her brusque intrusion, was
now suddenly roused to interest, even to sympathy. Rachel turned to
her. I must say this, she said. Don't you see, don't you understand,
what it is to me?
Yes, yes, you must, the other woman said, with a sudden impulse of
help and sympathy. Go on, and she went outside. Stamfordham felt a
slight accession of annoyance as Lady Adela passed out; he felt it was
going to be very difficult for him to deal as cruelly as he was bound
to do with the anxious, quivering wife before him. He stood silent and
absolutely impenetrable. Rachel went on quickly in broken sentences.
I didn't know about this at the time. I have been ill since. I
could not remember. You brought some papers for my husband to copy, and
he locked them up so that no one should see them, and while he went
down to speak to you they were pulled out of his writing-table from
outside, by somebody else who was there, and who showed them to Mr.
Pateley. Mr. Pateley came in and went out again. Frank didn't know he
had been there. Stamfordham stopped her.
They were taken out by 'somebody,' you say; do you meanin fact I
must gather from your wordsthat it wasdo you mean by yourself?
Oh no, no, Rachel cried, as it dawned upon her what interpretation
might be put upon her words. Oh no, not myself! I wish it had been, I
wish it had!
You wish it had? Stamfordham said, surprised. Who was it, then?
Who was it? he said again, in the tone of one who must have an answer.
Who got the paper out and showed it to Pateley?
Rachel forced herself to speak.
It wasmy father, she said, Sir William Gore. And with an
immense effort she prevented herself from bursting into tears.
Sir William Gore! said Stamfordham, did he do it?
Yes, said Rachel; I only knew it to-day, and I am telling you to
prove to you that it wasn't my husband.
Stamfordham stood for a moment trying to recall Rendel's attitude at
the time, and then, as he did so, he made up his mind that Rendel must
But, he said, after a moment, still somewhat perplexed, you say
you didn't know about this?
No, said Rachel, I didn't. My father, and again her lips
quivered and told Stamfordham what that father and his good name
probably were to her, was taken very ill, and I had an accident at the
time and did not know anything that had happened. Frank told me
nothing. Then my father died, and I was ill, and we came here and I did
not know it at all till my husband came in and told meand her eyes
blazed at the thoughttold me what had happened to-day... She
stopped. Stamfordham felt a stab as he thought of it.
But, he said, did he know? Did he tell you then? Did he know that
it was Sir William Gore?
Oh no, no, Rachel said; it was Mr. Pateley, and he brought me
here to tell you that you might know. Then Stamfordham began to
Mrs. Rendel, he said, with a change of voice and manner that made
her heart leap within her. Where is your husband?
He is at our house, the little pavilion behind the Casino garden.
Will you take me to him? Stamfordham said.
Rachel looked at him, unable to speak, her face illuminated with
hopethen she covered her face in her hands, saying through the tears
she could no longer restrain, Oh, thank you, thank you!
Come, said Stamfordham gently, but with decision. You must dry
your tears, he added with a smile, or people will think I have been
ill-treating you. And to the speechless amazement of Lady Adela, who
was standing outside the curtain waiting until, as she expressed it to
herself, she too should have her innings, Stamfordham passed out
before her eyes with Rachel, saying to Lady Adela as he passed, Will
you forgive me? I am going to take Mrs. Rendel back. Then looking
round him at the jostling crowd he said to Rachel, offering her his
arm, Will you think me very old-fashioned if I ask you to take my arm
to get through the crowd? And, leaning on his arm, hardly daring to
believe what had happened or might be going to happen, Rachel passed
back along the room through which she had just come with Pateley, the
crowd this time opening before them with some indescribable tacit
understanding that something had happened concerned with the incident
which, as Rendel had foreseen, nearly everybody at the bazaar had heard
of. They did not speak again until they reached the pavilion.
Latchkeys were unknown at Schleppenheim, and the inhabitants of the
little summer abodes walked in by the simple process of turning the
handle of the front door. Rachel and Stamfordham went straight in out
of the sunlight into the cool little room into which, in long low rays,
the setting sun was sending its beams. Rendel had been trying to read:
the book that lay beside him on the floor showed that the attempt had
been in vain. He looked up, still with that strange, hunted expression
that had come into his face since the morningthe expression of the
man to whom every door opening, every figure that comes in may mean
some fresh cause of apprehension. Rachel came into the room without
speaking, something that he could not read in the least in her face,
then his heart stood still within him as he saw Stamfordham behind her.
What, again? What new ordeal awaited him? He made no sign of
recognition, but stood up and looked Stamfordham straight in the face.
Stamfordham came forward and spoke.
I have come, he said, to apologise to you for what took place
to-day, to beg you to forgive me. Rendel was so utterly astounded that
he simply looked from one to the other of the people standing before
him without uttering a sound.
I have just learnt, Stamfordham went on, the name of the person
who did the thing of which I wrongfully accused you. Rendel made a
hurried movement forward as if to stop him.
Wait, wait one moment! he cried, don't say it before my wifeshe
doesn't know. In that moment Rachel realised what he had done for her.
Do you know? asked Stamfordham.
Yes, Rendel answered.
With the old friendliness, and something deeper, in his face and
voice, Stamfordham said
Mrs. Rendel knows also. It was she told me.
Rachel! cried Rendel, turning to her. Do you know?
Yes, said Rachel, trying to command her voice. I knownowthat
it wasmy father, and the eyes of the two met.
Stamfordham advanced to Rendel.
Will you forgive me, he said again, and shake hands? Rendel held
out his hand and pressed Stamfordham's in a close and tremulous grasp,
which the other returned. I must see you, he said. Will you come to
my rooms some time? I shall be here for a week longer. He held out his
hand to Rachel. Thank you, he said, for what you have done. And he
Rendel turned towards Rachel, his arms outstretched, his face
transformed by the knowledge of the great love she had shown him. His
heart was too full for speech: in the closer union of silence that new
precious compact was made. The veil that had hung between them so long
was lifted for ever.