She had arrived.
Fanny Brocklebank, as she passed the library, had thought it worth
while to look in upon Straker with the news.
Straker could not help suspecting his hostess of an iniquitous
desire to see how he would take it. Or perhaps she may have meant, in
her exquisite benevolence, to prepare him. Balanced on the arm of the
opposite chair, the humor of her candid eyes chastened by what he took
to be a remorseful pity, she had the air of preparing him for
Yes. She had arrived. She was upstairs, over his very headresting.
Straker screwed up his eyes. Only by a prodigious effort could he
see Miss Tarrant resting. He had always thought of her as an unwinking,
untiring splendor, an imperishable fascination; he had shrunk from
inquiring by what mortal process she renewed her formidable flame.
By a gesture of shoulders and of eyebrows Fanny conveyed that,
whatever he thought of Philippa Tarrant, she was more so than ever.
Sheshe was simply stupendous. It was Fanny's word. He would see. She
would appear at teatime. If he was on the terrace by five he would see
something worth seeing. It was now a quarter to.
He gathered that Fanny had only looked in to tell him that he
mustn't miss it.
Not for worlds would he have missed it. But the clock had struck
five, and Straker was still lingering in the library over the
correspondence that will pursue a rising barrister in his flight to the
country. He wasn't in a hurry. He knew that Miss Tarrant would wait for
her moment, and he waited too.
A smile of acclamation greeted his dilatory entrance on the terrace.
He was assured that, though late, he was still in time. He knew it. She
would not appear until the last guest had settled peaceably into his
place, until the scene was clear for her stunning, her invincible
effect. Then, in some moment of pause, of expectancy
Odd that Straker, who was so used to it, who knew so well how she
would do it, should feel so fresh an interest in seeing her do it
again. It was almost as if he trembled for her and waited, wondering
whether, this time, she would fail of her effect, whether he would ever
live to see her disconcerted.
Disconcerting things had happened before now at the Brocklebanks',
things incongruous with the ancient peace, the dignity, the grand style
of Amberley. It was owing to the outrageous carelessness with which
Fanny Brocklebank mixed her house parties. She delighted in daring
combinations and startling contrasts. Straker was not at all sure that
he himself had not been chosen as an element in a daring combination.
Fanny could hardly have forgotten that, two years ago, he had been an
adorer (not altogether prostrate) of Miss Tarrant, and he had given her
no grounds for supposing that he had changed his attitude. In the
absence of authentic information Fanny could only suppose that he had
been dished, regularly dished, first by young Reggy Lawson and then by
Mr. Higginson. It was for Mr. Higginson that Philippa was coming to
Amberleythis year; last year it had been for Reggy Lawson; the year
before that it had been for him, Straker. And Fanny did not scruple to
ask them all three to meet one another. That was her way. Some day she
would carry it too far. Straker, making his dilatory entrance, became
aware of the distance to which his hostess had carried it already. It
had time to grow on him, from wonder to the extreme of certainty, in
his passage down the terrace to the southwest corner. There, on the
outskirts of the group, brilliantly and conspicuously disposed, in
postures of intimate communion, were young Laurence Furnival and Mrs.
Viveash. Straker knew and Fanny knew, nobody indeed knew better than
Fanny, that those two ought never to have been asked together. In
strict propriety they ought not to have been at Amberley at all. Nobody
but Fanny would have dreamed of asking them, still less of combining
them with old Lady Paignton, who was propriety itself. And there was
Miss Probyn. Why Miss Probyn? What on earth did dear Fanny imagine that
she could do with Mary Probynor for her, if it came to that? In
Straker's experience of Fanny it generally did come to thatto her
doing things for people. He was aware, most acutely aware at this
moment, of what, two years ago, she would have done for him. He had an
idea that even now, at this hour, she was giving him his chance with
Philippa. There would no doubt be competition; there always had been,
always would be competition; but her charming eyes seemed to assure him
that he should have his chance.
They called him to her side, where, with a movement of protection
that was not lost on him, she had made a place for him apart. She
begged him just to look at young Reggy Lawson, who sat in agony,
sustaining a ponderous topic with Miss Probyn. He remembered Reggy? Her
half-remorseful smile implied that he had good cause to remember him.
He did. He was sorry for young Reggy, and hoped that he found
consolation in the thought that Mr. Higginson was no longer young.
He remarked that Reggy was looking uncommonly fit. So, he added
irrelevantly, is Mrs. Viveash. Don't you think?
Fanny Brocklebank looked at Mrs. Viveash. It was obvious that she
was giving her her chance, and that Mrs. Viveash was making the very
most of it. She was leaning forward now, with her face thrust out
toward Furnival; and on her face and on her mouth and in her eyes there
burned visibly, flagrantly, the ungovernable, inextinguishable flame.
As for the young man, while his eyes covered and caressed her, the tilt
of his body, of his head, of his smile, and all his features expressed
the insolence of possession. He was sure of her; he was sure of
himself; he was sure of many things. He, at any rate, would never be
disconcerted. Whatever happened he was safe. But shethere were things
that, if one thing happened, she would have to face; and as she sat
there, wrapped in her flame, she seemed to face them, to fling herself
on the front of danger. You could see she was ready to take any risks,
to pay any price for the chance that Fanny was giving her.
It really was too bad of Fanny.
Why did you ask them? Straker had known Fanny so long that he was
privileged to inquire.
Becausethey wanted to be asked.
Fanny believed, and said that she believed, in giving people what
they wanted. As for the consequences, there was no mortal lapse or
aberration that could trouble her serenity or bring a blush to her
enduring candor. If you came a cropper you might be sure that Fanny's
judgment of you would be pure from the superstition of morality. She
herself had never swerved in affection or fidelity to Will Brocklebank.
She took her excitements, lawful or otherwise, vicariously in the
doomed and dedicated persons of her friends. Brocklebank knew it.
Blond, spectacled, middle-aged, and ponderous, he regarded his wife's
performances and other people's with a leniency as amazing as her own.
He was hovering about old Lady Paignton in the background, where
Straker could see his benignant gaze resting on Furnival and Mrs.
Poor dears, said Fanny, as if in extenuation of her tolerance,
they are enjoying themselves.
So are you, said Straker.
I like to see other people happy. Don't you?
Yes. If I'm not responsible for theirhappiness.
Who is responsible? She challenged.
I say, aren't you?
Me responsible? Have you seen her husband?
Well she left it to him.
Where is Viveash?
At the moment he is in Liverpool, or should beon business.
You didn't ask him?
Ask him? Is he the sort you can ask?
Oh, come, he's not so bad.
He's awful. He's impossible. Hehe excuses everything.
I don't see him excusing this, or your share in it. If he knew.
If he knew what?
That you'd asked Furny down.
But he doesn't know. He needn't ever know.
He needn't. But people like Viveash have a perfect genius for the
He paused before the unutterable, and she faced him with her smile
of innocent interrogation.
Well, he said, it's so jolly risky. These things, you know, only
end one way.
Fanny's eyes said plainly that to their vision all sorts of
ways were possible.
If it were any other man but He stopped short at Furnival's
Fanny lowered her eyes almost as if she had been convicted of
You see, she said, any other man wouldn't do. He's the one and
only man. There never was any other. That's the awful part of it for
Then why on earth did she marry the other fellow?
Because Furny couldn't marry her. And he wouldn't, either. That's
not his way.
I know it's not his way. And if Viveash took steps, what then?
Then perhapshe'd have to.
Oh, it isn't a deep-laid plan.
I never said it was.
He didn't think it. Marriages had been made at Amberley, and
divorces, too; not by any plan of Fanny's, but by the risks she took.
Seeing the dangerous way she mixed things, he didn't, he couldn't
suspect her of a plan, but he did suspect her of an unholy joy in the
prospect of possible explosions.
Of course, she said, reverting to her vision, of course he'd have
She looked at Straker with eyes where mischief danced a fling. It
was clear that in that moment she saw Laurence Furnival the profane,
Furnival the scorner of marriage, caught and tied: punished (she
scented in ecstasy the delicate irony of it), so beautifully punished
there where he had sinned.
Straker began to have some idea of the amusement Fanny got out of
her house parties.
For a moment they had no more to say. All around them there was
silence, born of Mrs. Viveash and her brooding, of young Reggy's
trouble with Miss Probyn, and of some queer triangular complication in
the converse of Brocklebank, Lady Paignton, and Mr. Higginson. In that
moment and that pause Straker thought again of Miss Tarrant. It was, he
said to himself, the pause and the moment for her appearance. And (so
right was he in his calculation) she appeared.
He saw her standing in the great doorway of the east wing where the
three steps led down on to the terrace. She stood on the topmost step,
poised for her descent, shaking her scarf loose to drift in a white
mist about her. Then she came down the terrace very slowly, and the
measured sweep of her limbs suggested that all her movements would be
accomplished to a large rhythm and with a superb delay.
Her effect (she had not missed it) was to be seen in all its wonder
and perfection on Laurence Furnival's face. Averted suddenly from Mrs.
Viveash, Furnival's face expressed the violence of his shock and his
excitement. It was clear that he had never seen anything quite like
Philippa Tarrant before, and that he found her incredibly and
ambiguously interesting. Ambiguouslyno other word did justice to the
complexity of his facial expression. He did not know all at once what
to make of Philippa, and, from further and more furtive manifestations
of Furnival's, Straker gathered that the young man was making something
queer. He had a sort of sympathy with him, for there had been moments
when he himself had not known exactly what to make. He doubted whether
even Fanny Brocklebank (who certainly made the best of her) had ever
Whatever her inscrutable quality, this year she was, as Fanny had
said, more so than ever. She was stupendous; and that although
she was not strictly speaking beautiful. She had no color in her white
face or in her black hair; she had no color but the morbid rose of her
mouth and the brown of her eyes. Yet Mrs. Viveash, with all her vivid
gold and carmine, went out before her; so did pretty Fanny, though
fresh as paint and burnished to perfection; as for the other women,
they were nowhere. She made the long golden terrace at Amberley a
desert place for the illusion of her somber and solitary beauty. She
was warm-fleshed, warm-blooded. The sunshine soaked into her as she
stood there. What was more, she had the air of being entirely in
keeping with Amberley's grand style.
Straker saw that from the first she was aware of Furnival. At three
yards off she held him with her eyes, lightly, balancing him; then
suddenly she let him go. She ceased to be aware of him. In the moment
of introduction she turned from him to Straker.
Mr. Strakerbuthow delightful!
Don't say you didn't expect to see me here.
I didn't. And Mr. Higginson! She laughed at the positive absurdity
of it. And Mr. Lawson and Miss Probyn.
She held herself a little back and gazed upon the group with her
wide and wonderful eyes.
You look, she said, as if something interesting had happened.
She had seated herself beside Straker so that she faced Mrs. Viveash
and young Furnival. She appeared not to know that Furnival was staring
She's the only interesting thing that's happenedso far,
he muttered. (There was no abatement of his stare.) Mrs. Viveash tried
to look as if she agreed with him.
Miss Tarrant had heard him. Her eyes captured and held him again, a
little longer this time. Straker, who watched the two, saw that
something passed between them, between Philippa's gaze and Furnival's
That evening he realized completely what Fanny had meant when she
said that Philippa was more so than ever. He observed this increase in
her quality, not only in the broad, massive impression that she spread,
but in everything about her, her gestures, her phrases, the details of
her dress. Every turn of her head and of her body displayed a higher
flamboyance, a richer audacity, a larger volume of intention. He was
almost afraid for her lest she should overdo it by a shade, a touch, a
turn. You couldn't get away from her. The drawing-room at Amberley was
filled with her, filled with white surfaces of neck and shoulders, with
eyes somber yet aflood with light, eyes that were perpetually at work
upon you and perpetually at play, that only rested for a moment to
accentuate their movement and their play. This effect of her was as of
many women, approaching, withdrawing, and sliding again into view, till
you were aware with a sort of shock that it was one woman, Philippa
Tarrant, all the time, and that all the play and all the movement were
concentrated on one man, Laurence Furnival.
She never let him alone for a minute. He tried, to do him justice he
triedStraker saw him tryingto escape. But, owing to Miss Tarrant's
multiplicity and omnipresence, he hadn't a chance. You saw him
fascinated, stupefied by the confusion and the mystery of it. She
carried him off under Mrs. Viveash's unhappy nose. Wherever she went
she called him, and he followed, flushed and shamefaced. He showed
himself now pitifully abject, and now in pitiful revolt. Once or twice
he was positively rude to her, and Miss Tarrant seemed to enjoy that
more than anything.
Straker had never seen Philippa so uplifted. She went like the
creature of an inspiring passion, a passion moment by moment fulfilled
and unappeased, renascent, reminiscent, and in all its moments
gloriously aware of itself.
The pageant of Furnival's subjugation lasted through the whole of
Friday evening. All Saturday she ignored him and her work on him. You
would have said it had been undertaken on Mrs. Viveash's account, not
his, just to keep Mrs. Viveash in her place and show her what she,
Philippa, could do. All Sunday, by way of revenge, Furnival ignored
Miss Tarrant, and consoled himself flagrantly with Mrs. Viveash.
It was on the afternoon of Sunday that Mr. Higginson was seen
sitting out on the terrace with Miss Tarrant. Reggy Lawson had joined
them, having extricated himself with some dexterity from the toils of
the various ladies who desired to talk to him. His attitude suggested
that he was taking his dubious chance against Mr. Higginson. It was odd
that it should be dubious, Reggy's chance; he himself was so assured,
so engaging in his youth and physical perfection. Straker would have
backed him against any man he knew.
Fanny Brocklebank had sent Straker out into the rose garden with
Mary Probyn. He left Miss Tarrant on the terrace alone with Mr.
Higginson and Reggy. He left her talking to Mr. Higginson, listening to
Mr. Higginson, behaving beautifully to Mr. Higginson, and ignoring
Reggy. Straker, with Mary Probyn, walked round and round the rose
garden, which was below Miss Tarrant's end of the terrace, and while he
talked to Mary Probyn he counted the rounds. There were twenty to the
mile. Every time he turned he had Miss Tarrant full in view, which
distracted him from Mary Probyn. Mary didn't seem to mind. She was a
nice woman; plain (in a nice, refined sort of way), and she knew it,
and was nice to you whether you talked to her or not. He did not find
it difficult to talk to Mary: she was interested in Miss Tarrant; she
admired her, but not uncritically.
She is the least bit too deliberate, was her comment. She
calculates her effects.
She does, said Straker, so that she never misses one of them.
She's a consummate artist.
He had always thought her that. (Ninth round.) But as her
friend he could have wished her a freer and sincerer inspiration. After
all, there was something that she missed.
(Tenth round.) Miss Tarrant was still behaving beautifully to Mr.
Higginson. Mary Probyn marveled to see them getting on so well
together. (Fifteenth round.)
Reggy had left them; they were not getting on together quite so
(Twentieth round.) They had risen; they were coming down the steps
into the garden; Straker heard Miss Tarrant ordering Mr. Higginson to
go and talk to Miss Probyn. He did so with an alacrity which betrayed a
certain fear of the lady he admired.
Miss Tarrant, alone with Straker, turned on him the face which had
scared Mr. Higginson. She led him in silence and at a rapid pace down
through the rose garden and out upon the lawn beyond. There she stood
still and drew a deep breath.
You had no business, she said, to go away like that and leave me
Why not? Last year, if I remember
He paused. He remembered perfectly that last year she had contrived
pretty often to be left with him. Last year Mr. Higginson, as the
Liberal candidate for East Mickleham, seemed about to achieve a
distinction, which, owing to his defeat by an overwhelming majority, he
had unfortunately not achieved. He had not been prudent. He had stood,
not only for East Mickleham, but for a principle. It was an unpopular
principle, and he knew it, and he had stuck to it all the same, with
obstinacy and absurdity, in the teeth, the furiously gnashing teeth, of
his constituency. You couldn't detach Mr. Higginson from his principle,
and as long as he stuck to it a parliamentary career was closed to him.
It was sad, for he had a passion for politics; he had chosen politics
as the one field for the one ponderous talent he possessed. The glory
of it had hung ponderously about Mr. Higginson last year; but this
year, cut off from politics, it was pitiable, the nonentity he had
become. Straker could read that in his lady's alienated eyes.
Last year, he continued, you seemed to find him interesting.
You think things must be what they seem?
Her tone accused him of insufficient metaphysical acumen.
There is no necessity. Still, as I said, last year
Could Mr. Higginson, in any year, be interesting?
Did you hope, Straker retorted, to make him so by cultivating
It's impossible to say what Mr. Higginson might become
undercenturies of cultivation. It would take centuries.
That was all very well, he said to himself. If he didn't say that
Miss Tarrant had pursued Mr. Higginson, he distinctly recalled the
grace with which she had allowed herself to be pursued. She had
cultivated him. And, having done it, having so flagrantly and palpably
and under Straker's own eyes gone in for him, how on earth did she
propose to get out of it now? There was, Straker said to himself again,
no getting out of it. As for centuries
Let us go back, he persisted, to last year.
Last year he had his uses. He was a good watch-dog.
A watch-dog. He kept other people off.
For a moment he was disarmed by the sheer impudence of it. He smiled
a reminiscent smile.
I should have thought his function was rather, wasn't it, to draw
Her triumphing eyes showed him that he had given himself into her
hands. He should have been content with his reminiscent smile. Wasn't
he, her eyes inquired, for a distinguished barrister, just a little bit
You thought, she said, he was a decoy-duck? Why, wouldn't you
have flown from your most adored if you'd seen herwith Mr.
Thus deftly she wove her web and wound him into it. That was her
way. She would take your own words out of your mouth and work them into
the brilliant fabric, tangling you in your talk. And not only did she
tangle you in your talk, she confused you in your mental processes.
You didn't seriously suppose, she said, that I could have had any
permanent use for him?
Straker's smile paid tribute to her crowning cleverness. He didn't
know how much permanence she attached to matrimony, or to Mr.
Higginson, but he knew that she had considered him in that preposterous
relation. She faced him and his awful knowledge and floored him with
just thatthe thing's inherent, palpable absurdity. And if that
wasn't clever of her!
Of course not. He was eager in his assent; it was wrung from him.
He added with apparent irrelevance, After all, he's honest.
You must be something.
She turned to him, radiant and terrible, rejoicing in her murderous
phrase. It intimated that only by his honesty did Mr. Higginson
maintain his foothold on existence.
I think, said Straker, it's time to dress for dinner.
They turned and went slowly toward the house. On the terrace, watch
in hand, Mr. Higginson stood alone and conspicuous, shining in his
single attribute of honesty.
That evening Furnival sought Straker out in a lonely corner of the
smoke-room. His face was flushed and defiant. He put it to Straker
I say, what's she up to, that friend of yours, Miss T-Tarrant?
He stammered over her name. Her name excited him.
Straker intimated that it was not given him to know what Miss
Tarrant might or might not be up to.
Furnival shook his head. I can't make her out. Upon my honor, I
Straker wondered what Furny's honor had to do with it.
Why is she hanging round like this?
Yes. You know what I mean. Why doesn't somebody marry her? He made
a queer sound in his throat, a sound of unspeakable interrogation. Why
haven't you married her yourself?
Straker was loyal. You'd better ask her why she hasn't married me.
Furnival brooded. I've a good mind to.
I should if I were you, said Straker encouragingly.
Furnival sighed heavily. Look here, he said, what's the matter
with her? Is she difficult, or what?
Frightfully difficult, said Straker, with conviction. His tone
implied that Furnival would never understand her, that he hadn't the
brain for it.
And yet, Straker reminded himself, Furnival wasn't an ass. He had
brain for other things, for other women; for poor Nora Viveash quite a
remarkable sufficiency of brain, but not for Philippa Tarrant. You
could see how he was being driven by her. He was in that state when he
would have done anything to get her. There was no folly and no
extravagance that he would not commit. And yet, driven as he was, it
was clear that he resented being driven, that he was not going all the
way. His kicking, his frantic dashes and plunges, showed that the one
extravagance, the one folly he would not commit was matrimony.
Straker saw that very plainly. He wondered whether Miss Tarrant
would see it, too, and if she did whether it would make any difference
in her method.
It was very clear to Straker that Miss Tarrant was considering
Furnival, as she had considered him, as she had considered young Reggy
Lawson, as she had considered Mr. Higginson, who was not so young. As
for Reggy and his successor, she had done with them. All that could be
known of their fatuity she knew. Perhaps they had never greatly
interested her. But she was interested in Laurence Furnival. She told
Straker that he was the most amusing man of her acquaintance. She was,
Straker noticed, perpetually aware of him. All Monday morning, in the
motor, Miss Tarrant in front with Brocklebank, Furnival with Mrs.
Viveash, and Straker behind, it was an incessant duel between
Furnival's eyes and the eyes that Miss Tarrant had in the back of her
head. All Monday afternoon she had him at her heels, at her elbow. With
every gesture she seemed to point to him and say: Look at this little
animal I've caught. Did you ever see such an amusing little animal?
She was quite aware that it was an animal, the creature she had
captured and compelled to follow her; it might hide itself now and
then, but it never failed to leap madly forward at her call. The animal
in Furnival, so simple, so undisguised, and so spontaneous, was what
Its behavior that Monday after tea on the terrace was one of the
most disconcerting things that had occurred at Amberley. You could see
that Mrs. Viveash couldn't bear it, that she kept looking away, that
Brocklebank didn't know where to look, and that even Fanny was
As for Mr. Higginson, it was altogether too much for him and his
honesty. He was visibly alienated, and from that moment he devoted
himself and his honesty to Mary Probyn.
Young Reggy was alienated, too, so profoundly that he spoke about it
aside to Straker.
Between you and me, said young Reggy, it's a bit too strong. I
can't stick it, the way she goes on. What does she mean by it,
People were always appealing to Straker to tell them what women
meant by it. As if he knew.
He was glad to see that young Reggy had turned, that he could
turn. He liked Reggy, and he felt that he owed him a good deal. If it
had not been for Reggy he might, two years ago, have been numbered as
one of the fallen. He had been pretty far gone two years ago, so far
that he had frequently wondered how it was that he had not fallen. Now
it was clear to him. It had been her method with Reggy that had checked
his own perilous approaches. It had offended his fine sense of the
fitting (a fastidiousness which, in one of her moods of ungovernable
frankness, she had qualified as finicking"). For Reggy was a nice boy,
and her method had somehow resulted in making him appear not so nice.
It nourished and brought to the surface that secret, indecorous,
primordial quality that he shared, though in less splendor and
abundance, with Laurence Furnival. He had kept his head, or had seemed
inimitably to have kept it. At any rate, he had preserved his sense of
decency. He was incapable of presenting on the terrace at Amberley the
flaming pageant of his passion. Straker was not sure how far this
restraint, this level-headedness of young Reggy, had been his undoing.
It might be that Miss Tarrant had required of him a pageant. Anyhow,
Reggy's case had been very enlightening to Straker.
And it was through Reggy, or rather through his own intent and
breathless observation of the two, that Straker had received his final
illumination. It had come suddenly in one inspiring and delivering
flash; he could recall even now his subsequent sensations, the
thrilling lucidity of soul, the prodigious swiftness of body, after his
long groping in obscurities and mysteries. For it had been a mystery to
him how she had resisted Reggy in his young physical perfection and
with the charm he had, a charm that spiritualized him, a charm that
should have appealed to everything that was supersensuous in Philippa
Tarrant (and Philippa would have had you believe that there was very
little in her that was not). It was incomprehensible therefore to
Straker how any woman who had a perfect body, with a perfect heart in
it, could have resisted Reggy at his bestand for Mr. Higginson.
To be sure, compared with Mr. Higginson he was impecunious; but
that, to Straker's mind, was just what gave him, with the other things,
his indomitable distinction. Reggy's distinction stood straight and
clean, naked of all accessories. An impecuniousness so unexpressed, so
delicate, so patrician could never have weighed with Philippa against
Reggy's charm. That she should deliberately have reckoned up his
income, compared it with Mr. Higginson's, and deducted Reggy with the
result was inconceivable. Whatever Straker had thought of her he had
never thought of her as mercenary. It wasn't that. He had found out
what it was. Watching her at play with Reggy's fire (for to the
inconspicuous observer the young man had flamed sufficiently), it had
struck Straker that she herself was flameless.
It was in the nature of Reggy's perfection that it called, it
clamored for response. And Philippa had not responded. She hadn't got
it in her to respond.
All this came back vividly to Straker as he watched her now on the
terrace, at play with the fiercer conflagration that was Laurence
She was cold; she had never kindled, never would, never could
kindle. Her eyes did, if you like; they couldn't help itGod made them
lights and flamesbut her mouth couldn't. To Straker in his
illumination all the meaning of Philippa Tarrant was in her mouth. The
small, exquisite thing lacked fulness and the vivid rose that should
have been the flowering of her face. A certain tightness at the corners
gave it an indescribable expression of secrecy and mystery and
restraint. He saw in it the almost monstrous denial and mockery of
desire. He could not see it, as he had seen Nora Viveash's mouth,
curved forward, eager, shedding flame at the brim, giving itself to
lips that longed for it. Philippa's mouth was a flower that opened only
at the touch, the thrill of her own gorgeous egoism. He read in it the
triumph of Philippa over the flesh and blood of her race. She had
nothing in her of the dead. That was the wonder of her. The passion of
the dead had built up her body to the semblance and the promise of
their own delight; their desire, long forgotten, rose again, lightening
and darkening in her amazing eyes; the imperishable instinct that
impelled them to clothe her in their flesh and blood survived in her,
transfigured in strange impulses and intuitions, but she herself left
unfulfilled their promise and their desire.
Yesthat was what her mouth meant; it was treacherous; it betrayed
the promise of her body and her eyes. And Furnival was feeding his
infatuation on the meanings of her eyes and of her bodymeanings that
were unmistakable to Straker.
As if she had known what the older man was thinking of her, Philippa
rose abruptly and turned her back on Furnival and began to make violent
love to old Lady Paignton. Her eyes challenged Straker's across the
terrace. They said: Look at me. I will be as beautiful for this old
lady as for any male thing on earth. More beautiful. Have I ever set my
cap so becomingly at any of you as I am setting it now at her? Have you
ever seen finer eyes than these that I make at her, that I lavish on
her out of the sheer exuberance of my nature? Very well, then; doesn't
that prove that you're wrong in all things you've been thinking about
me. I know what you've been thinking!
As if she knew what he was thinking she made herself beautiful for
him. She allowed him presently to take her for a walk, for quite a long
walk. The woods of Amberley lured them, westward, across the shining
fields. They went, therefore, through the woods and back by the village
in the cool of the evening.
He had seldom, he might say he had never, seen Philippa in so
agreeable a mood. She had sunk her sex. She was tired of her terrible
game, the game that Straker saw through; she was playing another one, a
secret, innocent, delightful game. She laid herself out to amuse
Straker, instead of laying him out (as he put it), on the table,
to amuse herself.
Philippa, he said, you've been adorable for the last half hour.
For the last half hour I've been myself.
She smiled as if to herself, a secret, meditative smile. The mystery
of it was not lost on Straker.
I can always be myself, she said, when I'm with you.
For half an hour, he murmured.
She went on. You're not tiresome, like the others. I don't know
what there is about you, but you don't bore me.
Perhaps notfor half an hour.
Not for millions of half hours.
She tilted her head back and gazed at him with eyes narrowed and
slanting under their deep lids.
Not in an immortality, she said.
She laughed aloud her joyous appreciation of him.
Straker was neither uplifted nor alarmed. He knew exactly where he
stood with her. She was not considering him; she was not trying to get
at him; she was aware of his illumination and his disenchantment; she
was also aware of his continuous interest in her, and it was his
continuous interest, the study that he made of her, that interested
Philippa. She was anxious that he should get her right, that he should
accept her rendering of herself. She knew at each moment what he was
thinking of her, and the thing that went on between them was not a
gameit was a duel, an amicable duel, between her lucidity and his.
Philippa respected his lucidity.
All the same, said Straker, I am not the most amusing man you
know. You don't find me exciting.
No. She turned it over. No; I don't find you at all exciting
or very amusing. How is it, then, that you don't bore me?
How can I say?
I think it is because you're so serious, because you take me
But I don't. Not for a moment. As for an immortality of
At least, she said, you would admit that possibly I might have a
soul. At any rate, you behave as if you did.
He dodged it dexterously.
That's where the immortality comes in, is it?
Of course, said Philippa.
She went on amusing Straker all evening, and after dinner she made
him take her into the conservatory.
The conservatory at Amberley is built out fanwise from the big west
drawing-room on to the southwest corner of the terrace; it is furnished
as a convenient lounge, and you sit there drinking coffee, and smoking,
and admiring Brocklebank's roses, which are the glory of Amberley. And
all among Brocklebank's roses they came upon Furnival and Mrs. Viveash.
Among the roses she shimmered and flushed in a gown of rose and
silver. Among the roses she was lovely, sitting there with Furnival.
And Straker saw that Miss Tarrant was aware of the loveliness of Mrs.
Viveash, and that her instinct woke in her.
She advanced, trailing behind her the long, diaphanous web of her
black gown. When she was well within the range of Furnival's sensations
she paused to smell a rose, bending her body backward and sideward so
that she showed to perfection the deep curved lines that swept from her
shoulders to her breasts, and from her breasts downward to her hips. A
large diamond star hung as by an invisible thread upon her neck: it
pointed downward to the hollow of her breasts. There was no beauty that
she had that was not somehow pointed to, insisted on, held forever
under poor Furnival's excited eyes.
But in a black gown, among roses, she showed disadvantageously her
dead whiteness and her morbid rose. She was aware of that. Mrs.
Viveash, glowing among the roses, had made her aware.
Why did we ever come here? she inquired of Straker. These roses
are horribly unbecoming to me.
Nothing is unbecoming to you, and you jolly well know it, said
She ignored it.
Just look at their complexions. They oughtn't to be allowed about.
She picked one and laid it against the dead-white hollow of her
breast, and curled her neck to look at it there; then she shook her
head at it in disapproval, took it away, and held it out an inch from
Furnival's face. He recoiled slightly.
It won't bite, she murmured. It'll let you stroke it. She
stroked it herself, with fingers drawn tenderly, caressingly, over
petals smooth and cool as their own skin. I believe it can feel. I
believe it likes it.
Furnival groaned. Straker heard him; so did Mrs. Viveash. She
stirred in her seat, causing a spray of Dorothy Perkins to shake as if
it indeed felt and shared her terror. Miss Tarrant turned from Furnival
and laid her rose on Mrs. Viveash's shoulder, where it did no wrong.
It's yours, she said; or a part of you.
Mrs. Viveash looked up at Furnival, and her face flickered for a
moment. Furnival did not see her face; he was staring at Miss Tarrant.
Ah, he cried, how perfect! You and I'll have to dry up, Straker,
unless you can go one better than that.
I shouldn't dream, said Straker, of trying to beat Miss Tarrant
at her own game.
If you know what it is. I'm hanged if I do.
Furnival was tearing from its tree a Caroline Testout, one of
Brocklebank's choicest blooms. Miss Tarrant cried out:
Oh, stop him, somebody. They're Mr. Brocklebank's roses.
They ain't a part of Brockles, Furnival replied.
He approached her with Brocklebank's Caroline Testout, and, with his
own dangerous, his outrageous fervor, You say it f-f-feels, he
stammered. It's what you want, thensomething t-tender and living
about you. Not that s-scin-t-tillating thing you've got there. It tires
me to look at it. He closed his eyes.
You needn't look at it, she said.
I can't help it. It's part of you. I believe it grows there. It
makes me look at it.
His words came shaken from him in short, savage jerks. To Straker,
to Mrs. Viveash, he appeared intolerable; but he had ceased to care how
he appeared to anybody. He had ceased to know that they were there.
They turned from him as from something monstrous, intolerable,
indecent. Mrs. Viveash's hands and mouth were quivering, and her eyes
implored Straker to take her away somewhere where she couldn't see
Furnival and Philippa Tarrant.
He took her out on to the terrace. Miss Tarrant looked after them.
That rose belongs to Mrs. Viveash now, she said. You'd better go
and take it to her.
Furnival flung the Caroline Testout on the floor. He trod on the
Caroline Testout. It was by accident, but still he trod on it; so that
he seemed much more brutal than he was.
It's very hot in here, said she. I'm going on to the terrace.
Let's go down, said he, into the garden. We can talk there.
You seem to be able to talk anywhere, said she.
I have to, said Furnival.
She went out and walked slowly down the terrace to the east end
where Straker sheltered Mrs. Viveash.
Furnival followed her.
Are you coming with me or are you not? he insisted. I can't get
you a minute to myself. Come out of this, can't you? I want to talk to
And I, said Miss Tarrant, want to talk to Mrs. Viveash.
You don't. You want to tease her. Can't you leave the poor woman
alone for a minute? She's happy there with Straker.
I want to see how happy she is, said Miss Tarrant.
For God's sake! he cried. Don't. It's my last chance. I'm going
to-morrow. Miss Tarrant continued to walk like one who did not hear.
I may never see you again. You'll go off somewhere. You'll disappear.
I can't trust you.
Suddenly she stood still.
You are going to-morrow?
Not, said Furnival, if you'd like me to stay. That's what I want
to talk to you about. Let's go down into the east walk. It's dark
there, and they can't hear us.
They have heard you. You'd better go back to Mrs. Viveash.
His upper lip lifted mechanically, but he made no sound. He stood
for a moment staring at her, obstructing her path. Then he turned.
I shall go back to her, he said.
He strode to Mrs. Viveash and called her by her name. His voice had
a queer vibration that sounded to Miss Tarrant like a cry.
Norayou'll come with me, won't you?
Mrs. Viveash got up without a word and went with him. Miss Tarrant,
standing beside Straker on the terrace, saw them go down together into
the twilight of the east walk between the yew hedges.
Philippa said something designed to distract Straker's attention;
and still, with an air of distracting him, of sheltering her sad
sister, Mrs. Viveash, she led him back into the house.
Furnival returned five minutes later, more flushed than ever and
That night Straker, going down the long corridor to his bedroom, saw
Fanny Brocklebank and Philippa in front of him. They went slowly,
Fanny's head leaning a little toward Philippa's. Not a word of what
Philippa was saying reached Straker, but he saw her turn with Fanny
into Fanny's room. As he passed the door he was aware of Fanny's voice
raised in deprecation, and of Philippa's, urgent, imperative; and he
knew, as well as if he had heard her, that Philippa was telling Fanny
about Furnival and Nora Viveash.
It was as if nothing had happened that Philippa came to him on the
terrace the next morning (which was a Tuesday) before breakfast. As if
nothing had happened, as if she had hardly met Furnival, as if she were
considering him for the first time, she began cross-questioning
You know everybody. Tell me about Laurence Furnival. Is he
Straker replied that she had better inquire at the Home Office, the
scene of Furnival's industry.
Philippa waved the Home Office aside. I mean, will he ever do
Ask Fanny Brocklebank.
He knew very well that she had asked her, that she had got out of
Fanny full particulars as to Furnival's family and the probable amount
of his income, and that she had come to him as the source of a finer
Fanny wouldn't know, said she.
Then, said Straker, ask Mrs. Viveash.
She turned on him a cold and steady gaze that rebuked his utterance.
How dare he, it said, how dare he mention Mrs. Viveash in her presence?
She answered quietly: There will hardly be time, I think. Mrs.
Viveash is going to-day.
Straker turned on her now, and his look expressed a sort of alien
and repugnant admiration. He wondered how far she had gone, how much
she had told, by what intimations she had prevailed with Fanny to get
Mrs. Viveash out of the house. Mrs. Viveash, to be sure, had only been
invited for the week-end, from the Friday to the Tuesday, but it had
been understood that, if her husband prolonged his business in
Liverpool, she was to stay till his return. Viveash was still in
Liverpoolthat had been known at Amberley yesterdayand Mrs. Viveash
had not been asked to stay. It had been quite simple. Mrs. Viveash, not
having been asked to stay, would be obliged to go.
And is Furnival going, too? he asked.
I believe not, said Philippa.
An hour later Mrs. Viveash joined them in the avenue where he waited
for Miss Tarrant, who had proposed that he should walk with her to the
In the clear and cruel light of the morning Mrs. Viveash showed him
a blanched face and eyes that had seen with miserable lucidity the end
of illusion, the end of passion, and now saw other things and were
You know I'm going? she said.
Straker said that he was sorry to hear it; by which he meant that he
was sorry for Mrs. Viveash.
She began to talk to him of trifles, small occurrences at Amberley,
of the affair of Mr. Higginson and Miss Probyn, and then, as by a
natural transition, of Miss Tarrant.
Do you like Miss Tarrant? she asked suddenly, point-blank.
Straker jibbed. Well, reallyII haven't thought about it.
He hadn't. He knew how he stood with her, how he felt about her; but
whether it amounted to liking or not liking he had not yet inquired.
But that instant he perceived that he did not like her, and he lied.
Of course I like her. Why shouldn't I?
Becauseshe was very slow about itsomehow I should have said
that you were not that sort.
Her light on him came halting, obscured, shivering with all the
vibrations of her voice; but he could see through it, down to the
sources of her thinking, to something secret, luminous, and
profoundher light on Philippa.
She was instantly aware of what she had let him see.
Oh, she cried, that was horrid of me. It was feline.
It was a little, he admitted.
It's because I know she doesn't like me.
Why not say at once it's because you don't like her?
Her eyes, full, lucid, charged with meaning, flashed to him. She
leaped at the chance he offered her to be sincere.
I don't, she said. How can I?
She talked again of trifles, to destroy all cohesion between that
utterance and her next.
I say, I want you to do something for me. I want you to look after
To look after him?
To stand by him, ifif he has a bad time.
He promised her. And then Miss Tarrant claimed him. She was in her
mood of yesterday; but the charm no longer worked on him; he did not
find her adorable that morning.
After a longish round they were overtaken by Brocklebank in his
motor-car. He and Furnival were returning from the station after seeing
Mrs. Viveash off (Furny had had the decency to see her off).
Brocklebank gave a joyous shout and pulled up two yards in front of
As they stood beside the car Straker noticed that Furnival's face
had a queer, mottled look, and that the muscles of his jaw were set in
an immobility of which he could hardly have believed him capable. He
was actually trying to look as if he didn't see Miss Tarrant. And Miss
Tarrant was looking straight at him.
Brocklebank wanted to know if Miss Tarrant cared for a run across
the Hog's Back before luncheon.
Miss Tarrant did careif Mr. Straker did.
Furnival had got down from his seat beside Brocklebank and had
opened the door of the car, ignoring Straker. He had managed in his
descent to preserve his attitude of distance, so much so that Straker
was amazed to see him enter the car after Miss Tarrant and take his,
Straker's, place beside her. He accomplished this maneuver in silence,
and with an air so withdrawn, so obscurely predestined, that he seemed
innocent of all offense. It was as if he had acted from some malign
compulsion of which he was unaware.
Now Brocklebank in his motor was an earnest and a silent man.
Straker, left to himself, caught fragments of conversation in the rear.
Miss Tarrant began it.
Why did you give up your seat?
You see why, said Furnival.
Straker could see him saying it, flushed and fervent. Then Furnival
went one better, and overdid it.
There's nothing I wouldn't give up for a chance like this.
Straker heard Philippa laughing softly. He knew she meant him to
hear her, he knew she was saying to him, Could anything be more absurd
than the creature that I've got in here?
There was a pause, and then Furnival broke out again:
I've seen Mrs. Viveash off.
That, said Miss Tarrant reprovingly, was the least you could do.
Furnival made that little fierce, inarticulate sound of his before
he spoke. I hope you're satisfied. I hope I've done enough to please
Oh, quite enough. I shouldn't attempt to do anything more if
I were you.
After that there was silence, in which Straker felt that Furnival
Fanny Brocklebank came to him the next morning in the library, where
he had hidden himself. She was agitated.
Put that book down, she said. I want to talk to you.
JimmyI'm fond of Philippa. I am, really.
Philippa's making a fool of herself and she doesn't know it.
To know it?
To make a fool of anybody on earthexcept herself.
This is different. It's Larry Furnival.
It is. And did you ever see such a spectacle of folly?
He doesn't understand her. That's where the folly comes in.
He's not alone in it.
But Fanny was past the consolations of his cynicism. Her face, not
formed for gravity, was grave.
He's got an idea in his head. An awful one. I'm convinced he thinks
she isn't proper.
Oh, I say!
Well, reallyconsidering that he doesn't know herI can't
altogether blame him. I told her so straight out.
What did she say?
She said how funny it will be when he finds out how proper she is.
So it will, won't it?
Fanny considered the point.
It's not half as funny as she thinks it. And, funniness and all,
she didn't like it.
You can hardly expect her to, said Straker.
Of course, said Fanny, musing, there's a sort of innocence about
him, or else he couldn't think it.
Straker admitted that, as far as Philippa went, that might be said
That's why I hate somehow to see him made a fool of. It doesn't
seem fair play, you know. It's taking advantage of his innocence.
Straker had to laugh, for really, Furny's innocence!
He always was, Fanny meditated aloud, a fool about women.
Oh, well, then, said Straker cheerfully. She can't make him
She can. She does. She draws out all the folly in him. I'm fond of
That meant that Fanny was blaming Philippa as much as she could
blame anybody. Immorality she understood, and could excuse; for
immorality there was always some provocation; what she couldn't stand
was the unfairness of Philippa's proceeding, the inequality in the
I'm very fond of her, butshe's bad for him, Jimmy. She's worse,
far worse, than Nora, poor dear.
I shouldn't worry about him if I were you.
I do worry. You see, you can't help liking him. There's something
about FurnyI don't know what it is, unless it's the turn of his
Do you think Philippa likes him? Do you think she's at all taken
with the turn of his nose?
If she only would be! Not that he means to marry her. That's the
one point where he's firm. That's where he's awful. Why, oh, why did I
ever ask them? I thought he was safe with Nora.
Something must be done, she cried, to stop it.
Who's to do it?
You or I. Or Will. Anybody!
Look here, Fanny, let's get it quite clear. What are you worrying
about? Are you saving Philippa from Furnival, or Furnival from
Philippa, Fanny moaned, doesn't want saving. She can take care of
I see. You are fond of Philippa, but your sympathies are with
Well he can feel, and Philippa
She left it there for him, as her way was.
Precisely. Then why worry about Philippa?
Because it's really awful, and it's in my house that it'll happen.
How long are they staying?
Lord knows how long.
Poor Fanny. You can't get them to go, can you?
I've thought of things. I've told Will he must have an illness.
And will he?
Not he. He says, as I asked them, I ought to have the illness. But
if I did she'd stay and nurse me. Besides, if we ousted the whole lot
to-morrow, they'll meet again. He'll see to that; and so will
There was a long pause.
I want you to do it. I want you to tell her.
Good Lord, what am I to tell her?
Tell her it isn't nice; tell her it isn't worth while; tell her
Furny isn't fair game; tell her anything you can think of that'll stop
I don't see myself
I do. She won't listen to anybody but you.
She respects you.
I doubt it. Why should she?
Because you've never made yourself a spectacle of folly. You've
never told her you're in love with her.
But I'm not, said poor Straker.
She doesn't know that. And if she did she'd respect you all the
Dear Fanny, I'd do a great deal for you, but I can't do that. I
can't, really. It wouldn't be a bit of good.
You could speak, Fanny said, to Furny.
Why not? she cried, in desperation.
Because, if I did, I should have to assume thingsthings that you
cannot decently assume. I can't speak to him. Not, that is, unless he
speaks to me.
He did speak to him that very night.
It was after ten o'clock, and Straker, who ought to have been in the
drawing-room playing bridge, or in the billiard-room playing billiards,
or in the smoking-room talking to BrocklebankStraker, who ought to
have known better, had sneaked into the library to have a look at a
brief he'd just got. He ought to have known better, for he knew,
everybody knew, that after ten o'clock the library at Amberley was set
apart as a refuge for any two persons who desired uninterrupted
communion with each other. He himself, in the library at Amberleybut
that was more than two years ago, so far before Philippa's time that he
did not associate her with the library at Amberley. He only knew that
Furnival had spent a good deal of time in it with Nora Viveash, and
poor Nora was gone. It was poor Nora's departure, in fact, that made
him feel that the library was now open to him.
Now the library at Amberley was fitted, as a library should be, with
a silent door, a door with an inaudible latch and pneumatic hinges. It
shut itself behind Straker with a soft sigh.
The long room was dim and apparently deserted. Drawn blinds obscured
the lucid summer night behind the three windows opposite the door. One
small electric globe hung lit under its opaline veil in the corner by
the end window on the right.
Straker at the doorway turned on the full blaze of the great ring
that hung above the central table where he meant to work. It revealed,
seated on the lounge in the inner, the unilluminated corner on the
right, Miss Tarrant and Laurence Furnival.
To his intense relief, Straker perceived that the whole length of
the lounge was between the two. Miss Tarrant at her end was sitting
bolt upright with her scarf gathered close about her; she was looking
under her eyelids and down her beautiful nose at Furnival, who at his
end was all huddled among the cushions as if she had flung him there.
Their attitudes suggested that their interview had ended in distance
and disaster. The effect was so marked that Straker seized it in an
He was about to withdraw as noiselessly as he had entered, but Miss
Tarrant (not Furnival; Furnival had not so much as raised his
head)Miss Tarrant had seen him and signed to him to stay.
You needn't go, she said. I'm going.
She rose and passed her companion without looking at him, in a sort
of averted and offended majesty, and came slowly down the room. Straker
waited by the door to open it for her.
On the threshold she turned to him and murmured: Don't go away. Go
in and talk to himaboutabout anything.
It struck him as extraordinary that she should say this to him, that
she should ask him to go in and see what she had done to the man.
The door swung on her with its soft sigh, shutting him in with
Furnival. He hesitated a moment by the door.
Come in if you want to, said Furnival. I'm going, too.
He had risen, a little unsteadily. As he advanced, Straker saw that
his face bore traces of violent emotion. His tie was a little crooked
and his hair pushed from the forehead that had been hidden by his
hands. His moustache no longer curled crisply upward; it hung limp over
his troubled mouth. Furnival looked as if he had been drinking. But
Furnival did not drink. Straker saw that he meant in his madness to
He turned down the lights that beat on him.
Don't, said Furnival. I'm going all right.
Straker held the door to. I wouldn't, he said, if I were you. Not
Furnival made the queer throat sound that came from him when words
Straker put his hand on the young man's shoulder. He remembered how
Mrs. Viveash had asked him to look after Furny, to stand by him if he
had a bad time. She had foreseen, in the fierce clairvoyance of her
passion, that he was going to have one. And, by Heaven! it had come.
Furnival struggled for utterance. All right, he said thickly.
He wasn't going after her. He had been trying to get away from
Straker; but Straker had been too much for him. Besides, he had
understood Straker's delicacy in turning down the lights, and he didn't
want to show himself just yet to the others.
They strolled together amicably toward the lounge and sat there.
Straker had intended to say, What's up? but other words were given
What's Philippa been up to?
Furnival pulled himself together. Nothing, he replied. It was
What did you do?
Furnival was silent.
Did you propose to her, or what?
I made, said Furnival, a sort of p-proposal.
That she should count the world well lostwas that it?
Well, she knew I wasn't going to marry anybody, and I knew she
wasn't going to marry me. Now was she?
No. She most distinctly wasn't.
Very well, thenhow was I to know? I could have sworn
He hid his face in his hands again.
The fact is, I made the devil of a mistake.
Yes, said Straker. I saw you making it.
Furnival's face emerged angry.
Then why on earth didn't you tell me? I asked you. Why
couldn't you tell me what she was like?
You don't tell, said Straker.
Furnival groaned. I can't make it out now. It's not as if
she hadn't got a t-t-temperament.
But she hasn't. That was the mistake you made.
You'd have made it yourself, said Furnival.
I have. She's taken me in. She looks as if she had
temperamentshe behaves as if she hadoceans. And she hasn't, not a
Then what does she do it for? What does she do it for, Straker?
I don't know what she does it for. She doesn't know herself.
There's a sort of innocence about her.
I suppose, said Furnival pensively, it's innocence.
Whatever it is, it's the quality of her defect. She can't let us
alone. It amuses her to see us squirm. But she doesn't know, my dear
fellow, what it feels like; because, you see, she doesn't feel. She
couldn't tell, of course, the lengths you'd go to.
Straker was thinking how horrible it must have been for Philippa.
Then he reflected that it must have been pretty horrible for Furny,
tooso unexpected. At that point he remembered that for Philippa it
had not been altogether unexpected; Fanny had warned her of this very
Howdid shetake it? he inquired tentatively.
My dear fellow, she sat therewhere you are nowand lammed into
me. She made me feel as if I were a cad and a beast and a ruffianas
if I wanted k-kick-kicking. She said she wouldn't have seen that I
existed if it hadn't been for Fanny BrocklebankI was her friend's
guestand when I tried to defend myself she turned and talked to me
about things, Straker, till I blushed. I'm b-blushing now.
And, of course, after that, I've got to go.
Was that all? said Straker.
No, it wasn't. I can't tell you the other things she said.
For a moment Furny's eyes took on a marvelous solemnity, as if they
were holding for a moment some sort of holy, supersensuous vision.
Then suddenly they grew reminiscent.
How could I tell, Straker, how could I possibly tell?
And Straker, remembering the dance that Philippa had led him, and
her appearance, and the things, the uncommonly queer things she had
done to him with her eyes, wondered how Furny could have told,
how he could have avoided drawing the inferences, the uncommonly queer
inferences, he drew. He'd have drawn them himself if he had not known
Philippa so well.
What I want to know, said Furnival, is what she did it for?
He rose, straightening himself.
Anyhow, I've got to go.
Did she say so?
No, she didn't. She said it wasn't necessary. That was
innocent, Straker, if you like.
Oh, jolly innocent, said Straker.
But I'm going all the same. I'm going before breakfast, by the
And he went. Straker saw him off.
That was far and away the most disconcerting thing that had happened
at Amberley within Straker's recollection.
It must have been very disagreeable for Philippa.
When, five days ago, he had wondered if he would ever live to see
Philippa disconcerted, he had not contemplated anything like this.
Neither, he was inclined to think, had Philippa in the beginning. She
could have had no idea what she was letting herself in for. That she
had let herself in was, to Straker's mind, the awful part of it.
As he walked home from the station he called up all his cleverness,
all his tact and delicacy, to hide his knowledge of it from Philippa.
He tried to make himself forget it, lest by a word or a look she should
gather that he knew. He did not want to see her disconcerted.
The short cut to Amberley from the station leads through a side gate
into the turning at the bottom of the east walk. Straker, as he rounded
the turning, saw Miss Tarrant not five yards off, coming down the walk.
He was not ready for her, and his first instinct, if he could have
yielded to it, would have been to fly. That was his delicacy.
He met her with a remark on the beauty of the morning. That was his
He tried to look as if he hadn't been to see Furnival off at the
station, as if the beauty of the morning sufficiently accounted for his
appearance at that early hour. The hour, indeed, was so disgustingly
early that he would have half an hour to put through with Philippa
But Miss Tarrant ignored the beauty of the morning.
What have you done, she said, with Mr. Furnival?
It was Straker who was disconcerted now.
What have I done with him?
Yes. Where is he?
Straker's tact was at a disadvantage, but his delicacy instantly
suggested that if Miss Tarrant was not disconcerted it was because she
didn't know he knew. That made it all right.
He's in the seven-fifty train.
A light leaped in her eyes; the light of defiance and pursuit, the
light of the hunter's lust frustrated and of the hunter's ire.
You must get him back again, she said.
I can't, said Straker. He's gone on business. (He still used
tact with her.) He had to go.
He hadn't, said she. That's all rubbish.
Her tone trod his scruples down and trampled on them, and Straker
felt that tact and delicacy required of him no more. She had given
herself away at last; she had let herself in for the whole calamity of
his knowledge, and he didn't know how she proposed to get out of it
this time. And he wasn't going to help her. Not he!
They faced each other as they stood there in the narrow walk, and
his knowledge challenged her dumbly for a moment. Then he spoke.
Look here, what do you want him for? Why can't you let the poor
What do you suppose I want him for?
I've no business to suppose anything. I don't know. But I'm not
going to get him back for you.
Something flitted across her face and shifted the wide gaze of her
eyes. Straker went on without remorse.
You know perfectly well the state he's in, and you know how he got
Yes. And I know, she said, what you think of me.
It's more than I do, said Straker.
She smiled subtly, mysteriously, tolerantly, as it were.
What did you do it for, Philippa?
Her smile grew more subtle, more tolerant, more mysterious; it
measured him and found him wanting.
If I told you, she said, I don't think you'd understand. But I'll
try and make you.
She turned with him and they walked slowly toward the house.
You saw, she said, where he was going before I came? I got him
out of that, didn't I?
He was silent, absorbed in contemplating the amazing fabric of her
Does it very much matter how I did it?
Yes, said Straker, if you ask me, I should say it did. The last
state of him, to my mind, was decidedly worse than the first.
What do you suppose I did to him?
If you want the frankness of a brother, there's no doubt youled
I led him onto heights he'd never have contemplated without me.
Straker tried to eliminate all expression from his face.
What do you suppose I did to him last night?
I can only suppose you led him further, since he went further.
By this time Straker's tact and delicacy were all gone.
Yes, said Miss Tarrant, he went pretty far. But, on the whole,
it's just as well he did, seeing what's come of it.
What has come of it?
Well, I think he realizes that he has a soul. That's something.
I didn't know it was his soul you were concerned with.
He didn't, either. Did he tell you what I said to him?
He told me you gave him a dressing down. But there was something
that he wouldn't tell. What did you say to him?
I said I supposed, after all, he had a soul, and I asked him what
he meant to do about it.
What does he?
That's what I want him back for, she said, to see. Whatever he
does with it, practically I've saved it.
She turned to him, lucid and triumphant.
Could any other woman have done it? Do you see Mary Probyn doing
Not that way.
It was the only way. You must, she said, have temperament.
The word took Straker's breath away.
You didn't like the way I did it. I can't help that. I had to use
the means at my disposal. If I hadn't led him on how could I have got
hold of him? If I hadn't led him further how could I have got him on an
So that, said Straker quietly, is what you did it for?
You've seen him, she answered. You don't seriously suppose I
could have done it for anything else! What possible use had I for that
He remembered that that was what she had said about Mr. Higginson.
But he confessed that, for a lady in a disconcerting situation, she had
shown genius in extricating herself.
Fanny's house party broke up and scattered the next day. A week
later Straker and Will Brocklebank saw Furnival in the Park. He was
driving a motor beyond his means in the society of a lady whom he
certainly could not afford.
Good God! said Brocklebank. That's Philippa.
By which he meant, not that Furnival's lady in the least resembled
Philippa, but that she showed the heights to which Philippa had led him
Brocklebank agreed with Straker that they had got to get him out of
It was difficult, because the thing had come upon Furnival like a
madness. He would have had more chance if he had been a man with a
talent or an absorbing occupation, a politician, an editor, a
journalist; if he had even been, Brocklebank lamented, on the London
Borough Council it might have made him less dependent on the sympathy
of ruinous ladies. But the Home Office provided no competitive
What was worse, it kept him on the scene of his temptation.
If it hadn't been for the Home Office he might have gone abroad with
the Brocklebanks; they had wanted him to go. Straker did what he could
for him. He gave him five days' yachting in August, and he tried to get
him away for week-ends in September; but Furnival wouldn't go. Then
Straker went away for his own holiday, and when he came back he had
lost sight of Furnival. So had the Home Office.
For three months Furnival went under. Then one day he emerged. The
Higginsons (Mary Probyn and her husband) ran up against him in
Piccadilly, or rather, he ran up against them, and their forms
interposed an effective barrier to flight. He was looking so wretchedly
ill that their hearts warmed to him, and they asked him to dine with
them that evening, or the next, orwell, the next after that. He
refused steadily, but Mary managed to worm his address out of him and
sent it on to Fanny Brocklebank that night.
Then the Brocklebanks, with prodigious forbearance and persistence,
went to work on him. Once they succeeded in getting well hold of him
they wouldn't let him go, and between them, very gradually, they got
him straight. He hadn't, Fanny discovered, been so very awful; he had
flung away all that he had on one expensive woman and he had lost his
job. Brocklebank found him another in an insurance office where Fanny's
brother was a director. Then Fanny settled down to the really serious
business of settling Furnival. She was always asking him down to
Amberley when the place was quiet, by which she meant when Philippa
Tarrant wasn't there. She was always asking nice girls down to meet
him. She worked at it hard for a whole year, and then she said that if
it didn't come off that summer she would have to give it up.
The obstacle to her scheme for Furny's settlement was his
imperishable repugnance to the legal tie. It had become, Fanny
declared, a regular obsession. All this she confided to Straker as she
lunched with him one day in his perfectly appointed club in Dover
Street. Furny was coming down to Amberley, she said, in July; and she
added, It would do you good, Jimmy, to come, too.
She was gazing at him with a look that he had come to know, having
known Fanny for fifteen years. A tender, rather dreamy look it was, but
distinctly speculative. It was directed to the silver streaks in
Straker's hair on a line with his eyeglasses, and he knew that Fanny
was making a calculation and saying to herself that it must be quite
fifteen years or more.
Straker was getting on.
A week at Amberley would do him all the good in the world. She
rather hopedthough she couldn't altogether promise himthat a
certain lady in whom he was interested (he needn't try to look as if he
wasn't) would be there.
Not Philippa? he asked wearily.
No, Jimmy, not Philippa. You know whom I mean.
He did. He went down to Amberley in July, arriving early in a golden
and benignant afternoon. It was precisely two years since he had been
there with Philippa. It was very quiet this year, so quiet that he had
an hour alone with Fanny on the terrace before tea. Brocklebank had
taken the others off somewhere in his motor.
She broke it to him that the lady in whom he was interested wasn't
there. Straker smiled. He knew she wouldn't be. The others, Fanny
explained, were Laurence Furnival and his Idea.
His Idea, Jimmy, of everything that's lovable.
There was a luminous pause in which Fanny let it sink into him.
Then it's come off, has it?
I don't know, but I think it's coming.
Dear Mrs. Brockles, how did you manage it?
I didn't. That's the beauty of it. He managed it himself. He asked
me to have her down.
She let him take that in, too, in all its immense significance.
Who is she?
Little Molly Milnera niece of Nora Viveash's. He met her there
Their eyes met, full of remembrance.
If anybody managed it, it was Nora. Jimmy, do you know, that
woman's a perfect dear.
I know you always said so.
He says so. He says she behaved like an angel, like a saint,
about it. When you think how she cared! I suppose she saw it was the
way to save him.
Straker was silent. He saw Nora Viveash as he had seen her on the
terrace two years ago, on the day of Philippa's arrival; and as she had
come to him afterward and asked him to stand by Furnival in his bad
What is it like, Furny's Idea? he asked presently.
It's rather like Nora, only different. It's her niece, you know.
If it's Nora's niece, it must be very young.
It is. It's absurdly young. But, oh, so determined!
Has she by any chance got Nora's temperament?
She's got her own temperament, said Fanny.
Straker meditated on that.
How does it take him? he inquired.
It takes him beautifully. It makes him very quiet, and a little
sad. That's why I think it's coming.
Fanny also meditated.
Yes. It's coming. There's only one thing, Jimmy. Philippa's coming,
too. She's coming to-day, by that four-something train.
My dear Fanny, how you do mix 'em!
It was his tribute to her enduring quality.
I asked her before I knew Laurence Furnival was coming.
II think so.
They looked at each other. Then Fanny spoke.
Jimmy, she said, do you think you could make love to Philippa?
Just, just, she entreated (when, indeed, had she not appealed
to him to save her from the consequences of her indiscretions?), until
Straker's diplomatic reply was cut short by the appearance of
Laurence Furnival and Molly Milner, Nora's niece. They came down the
long terrace with the sun upon them. She was all in white, with here
and there a touch of delicate green. She was very young; and, yes, she
was very like Mrs. Viveash, with all the difference of her youth and of
Furnival was almost pathetically pleased to see Straker there; and
Miss Milner, flushed but serene in the moment of introduction, said
that she had heard of Mr. Straker very often fromshe hesitated, and
Straker saw what Fanny had meant when she said that the young girl had
a temperament of her ownfrom Mr. Furnival. Her charming smile implied
that she was aware that Straker counted, and aware of all that he had
done for Furnival.
As he watched her he began to see how different she was from Nora
Viveash. She was grave and extraordinarily quiet, Furnival's young
girl. He measured the difference by the power she had of making
Furnivalas Straker put itdifferent from himself. She had made him
grave and quiet, too. Not that he had by any means lost his engaging
spontaneity; only the spontaneous, the ungovernable thing about him was
the divine shyness and the wonder which he was utterly unable to
It was at its height, it had spread its own silence all around it,
when, in that stillness which was her hour, her moment, Philippa
She came down the terrace, golden for her as it had been two years
ago; she came slowly, more slowly than ever, with a touch of
exaggeration in her rhythm, in her delay, in the poise of her head, and
in all her gestures; the shade too much that Straker had malignly
prophesied for her. But with it all she was more beautiful, and, he
could see, more dangerous, than ever.
She had greeted the three of them, Fanny, Brocklebank, and Straker,
with that increase, that excess of manner; and then she saw Furnival
standing very straight in front of her, holding out his hand.
Mr. Furnivalbuthow nice!
Furnival had sat down again, rather abruptly, beside Molly Milner,
and Fanny, visibly perturbed, was murmuring the young girl's name.
Something passed over Miss Tarrant's face like the withdrawing of a
veil. She was not prepared for Molly Milner. She had not expected to
find anything like that at Amberley. It was not what she supposed that
Furnival had come for. But, whatever he had come for, that, the
unexpected, was what Furnival was there for now. It was disconcerting.
Philippa, in fact, was disconcerted.
All this Straker took in; he took in also, in a flash, the look that
passed between Miss Tarrant and Miss Milner. Philippa's look was
wonderful, a smile flung down from her heights into the old dusty lists
of sex to challenge that young Innocence. Miss Milner's look was even
more wonderful than Philippa's; grave and abstracted, it left
Philippa's smile lying where she had flung it; she wasn't going, it
said, to take that up.
And yet a duel went on between them, a duel conducted with proper
propriety on either side. It lasted about half an hour. Philippa's
manner said plainly to Miss Milner: My child, you have got hold of
something that isn't good for you, something that doesn't belong to
you, something that you are not old enough or clever enough to keep,
something that you will not be permitted to keep. You had better drop
it. Miss Milner's manner said still more plainly to Philippa: I don't
know what you're driving at, but you don't suppose I take you
seriously, do you? It said nothing at all about Laurence Furnival.
That was where Miss Milner's manner scored.
In short, it was a very pretty duel, and it ended in Miss Milner's
refusing to accompany Furnival to the Amberley woods and in Philippa's
carrying him off bodily (Straker noted that she scored a point there,
or seemed to score). As they went Miss Milner was seen to smile,
subtly, for all her innocence. She lent herself with great sweetness to
Brocklebank's desire to show her his prize roses.
Straker was left alone with Fanny.
Fanny was extremely agitated by the sight of Furnival's capture.
Jimmy, she said, haven't I been good to you? Haven't I been an
angel? Haven't I done every mortal thing I could for you?
He admitted that she had.
Well, then, now you've got to do something for me. You've got to
look after Philippa. Don't let her get at him.
But Fanny insisted that he had seen Philippa carrying Furnival off
under Molly Milner's innocent nose, and that her manner of
appropriating him, too, vividly recalled the evening of her arrival two
years ago, when he would remember what had happened to poor Nora's
She took him from Nora.
My dear Fanny, that was an act of the highest moral
Don't talk to me about your highest moral anything. I know
what it was.
Besides, she didn't take him from Nora, she went on, ignoring her
previous line of argument. He took himself. He was getting tired of
Well, said Straker, he isn't tired of Miss Milner.
She's taken him off there, said Fanny. She nodded gloomily
toward the Amberley woods.
Straker smiled. He was looking westward over the shining fields
where he had once walked with Philippa. Already they were returning.
Furnival had not allowed himself to be taken very far. As they
approached Straker saw that Philippa was pouring herself out at
Furnival and that Furnival was not absorbing any of it; he was absorbed
in his Idea. His Idea had made him absolutely impervious to Philippa.
All this Straker saw.
He made himself very attentive to Miss Tarrant that evening, and
after dinner, at her request, he walked with her on the terrace. Over
the low wall they could see Furnival in the rose garden with Miss
Milner. They saw him give her a rose, which the young girl pinned in
the bosom of her gown.
Aren't they wonderful? said Philippa. Did you ever see anything
under heaven so young?
She is older than he is, said Straker.
Do you remember when he wanted to give me one and I wouldn't
I have not forgotten.
The lovers wandered on down the rose garden and Philippa looked
after them. Then she turned to Straker.
I've had a long talk with him. I've told him that he must settle
down and that he couldn't do a better thing for himself than
Well, said Straker, it looks like it, doesn't it?
Yes, said Philippa. It looks like it.
They talked of other things.
I am going, she said presently, to ask Miss Milner to stay with
Straker didn't respond. He was thinking deeply. Her face was so
mysterious, so ominous, that yet again he wondered what she might be up
to. He confessed to himself that this time he didn't know. But he made
her promise to go on the river with him the next day. They were to
start at eleven-thirty.
At eleven Fanny came to him in the library.
She's gone, said Fanny. She's left a little note for you. She
said you'd forgive her, you'd understand.
Do you? said Straker.
She said she was going to be straight and see this thing through.
Furny's thing. What else do you suppose she's thinking of? She said
she'd only got to lift her little finger and he'd come back to her; she
said there ought to be fair play. Do you see? She's gone awayto save
Good Lord! said Straker.
But he saw.
It was nearly twelve months before he heard again from Miss Tarrant.
Then one day she wrote and asked him to come and have tea with her at
her flat in Lexham Gardens.
He went. His entrance coincided with the departure of Laurence
Furnival and a lady whom Philippa introduced to him as Mrs. Laurence,
whom, she said, he would remember under another name.
Furnival's wife was younger than ever and more like Nora Viveash and
more different. When the door closed on them Philippa turned to him
with her radiance (the least bit overdone).
I made that marriage, she said, and staggered him.
Surely, he said, it was made in heaven.
If this room is heaven. It was made here, six months ago.
She faced him with all his memories. With all his memories and her
own she faced him radiantly.
You know now, she said, why I did it. It was worth while,
His voice struggled with his memories and stuck. It stuck in his
Before he left he begged her congratulations on a little affair of
his own; a rather unhappy affair which had ended happily the week
before last. He did not tell her that, if it hadn't been for the things
dear Fanny Brocklebank had done for him, the way she had mixed herself
up with his unhappy little affair, it might have ended happily a year
But, said Philippa, how beautiful!
He never saw Miss Tarrant again. Their correspondence ceased after
his marriage, and he gathered that she had no longer any use for him.