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Full text of "Bealby; a holiday"

HANDBOUND 
AT THE 



UNIVERSITY OF 
TORONTO PRESS 




BE ALBY 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

THE TIME MACHINE 

THE WONDERFUL VISIT 

THE WHEELS OF CHANCE 

THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU 

THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND (Short Stories) 

THE INVISIBLE MAN 

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 

LOVE AND MR. LEWISHAM 

THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

THE SEA LADY 

ANTICIPATIONS 

THE FOOD OF THE GODS 

IN THE DAYS OF THE COMET 

A MODERN UTOPIA 

KIPPS 

NEW WORLDS FOR OLD 

THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

THE WAR IN THE AIR 

TONO BUNGAY 

ANN VERONICA 

THE HISTORY OF MR. POLLY 

THE NEW MACHIAVELLI 

MARRIAGE 

THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

THE WIFE OF SIR ISAAC HARMAN 

AN ENGLISHMAN LOOKS AT THE WORLD 

THE WORLD SET FREE 



B E A LB Y 



A HOLI'DAY 



,X BY 



H. G. WELLS 




METHUEN & GO. LTD. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.G. 

LONDON 



First Published in 1915 

PR 
5774 






DEDICATION 

AND NOTE TO THE READER 

AN irresistible impulse made me give a lead- 
ing part in this story to a Lord Chancellor 
who delighted in Hegel. I fought against 
it, in vain. Well I knew that there was in the 
world a Lord Chancellor who read Hegel and 
was in no other respect like my Lord Chancellor. 
No one who knows the real man will for a moment 
imagine that my figure is meant for him, 
physically, temperamentally they are absolutely 
unlike. But there is always that provincial 
fool who " reads behind the lines " and who 
is always detecting "portraits" and "cari- 
catures" in innocently creative work. Him, 
I warn. You may say, " But why not take 
out the figure, alter it, make it Lord Chief 
Justice for example, give it some other mental 
habit than the Hegelian ? " That shows you 
know nothing of the art of fiction. I would 
rather be burnt alive than omit a little jest 



vi BEALBY 

I have made about the Great Seal, and what 
other mental habit can compare with the rich 
Hegelian style ? Who would read Bergson for 
comfort in the small hours ? I would as soon 
dine on a boiled vegetable marrow, washed down 
with iced barley water. But Hegelian fills the 
mouth and warms the mind; it is as good as 
cursing. And things being so let me dedicate 
this book frankly and with affection and grati- 
tude to that real Lord Chancellor who not only 
reads Hegel but who gave this country an army 
to be proud of, fit and ready when the moment 
came, who sought steadfastly to blend German 
thoroughness with our careless English f airness^ 
and who has suffered much foolish abuse and 
unreasonable criticism therefor in these wild 
patriotic times. 

H. G. WELLS 









CONTENTS 



CHAPTER THE FIRST 

PAGE 

YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS i 

CHAPTER THE SECOND 
A WEEK-END AT SHONTS . . . . .24 

CHAPTER THE THIRD 
THE WANDERERS . . . . 63 

CHAPTER THE FOURTH 
THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING . . . . .108 

CHAPTER THE FIFTH 
THE SEEKING OF BEALBY . . . . 150 

CHAPTER THE SIXTH 
BEALBY AND THE TRAMP . . . . .218 

CHAPTER THE SEVENTH 
THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER .... 260 

CHAPTER THE EIGHTH 
How BEALBY EXPLAINED ..... 303 



BEALBY 

CHAPTER THE FIRST 
YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 



"THHE cat is the offspring of a cat and the 
J. dog of a dog, but butlers and lady's maids 
do not reproduce their kind. They have other 
duties. 

So their successors have to be sought among 
the prolific, and particularly among the pro- 
lific on great estates. Such are gardeners, 
but not under-gardeners ; gamekeepers and 
coachmen, but not lodge people because their 
years are too great and their lodges too small. 
And among those to whom this opportunity 
of entering service came was young Bealby 
who was the stepson of Mr. Darling, the gardener 
of Shonts. 

Everyone knows the glories of Shonts. Its 
fagade. Its two towers. The great marble 
pond. The terraces where the peacocks walk 
and the lower lake with the black and white 



2 BEALBY 

swans. The great park and the avenue. The 
view of the river winding away across the blue 
country. And of the Shonts Velasquez but 
that is now in America. And the Shonts 
Rubens, which is in the National Gallery. And 
the Shonts porcelain. And the Shonts past 
history ; it was a refuge for the old faith ; it 
had priests' holes and secret passages. And 
how at last the Marquis had to let Shonts to the 
Laxtons the Peptonized Milk and Baby 
Soother people for a long term of years. It 
was a splendid chance for any boy to begin 
his knowledge of service in so great an establish- 
ment, and only the natural perversity of human 
nature can explain the violent objection young 
Bealby took to anything of the sort. He did. 
He said he did not want to be a servant, and 
that he would not go and be a good boy and 
try his very best in that state of life to which it 
had pleased God to call him at Shonts. On 
the contrary. 

He communicated these views suddenly to 
his mother as she was preparing a steak and 
kidney pie in the bright little kitchen of the 
gardener's cottage. He came in with his hair 
all ruffled and his face hot and distinctly dirty, 
and his hands in his trousers pockets in the way 
he had been repeatedly told not to. 

" Mother," he said, " I'm not going to be a 
steward's boy at the house anyhow, not if you 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 3 

tell me to, not till you're blue in the face. So 
that's all about it." 

This delivered he remained panting, having 
no further breath left in him. 

His mother was a thin firm woman. She 
paused in her rolling of the dough until he had 
finished, and then she made a strong broaden- 
ing sweep of the rolling-pin, and remained 
facing him, leaning forward on that implement 
with her head a little on one side. 

" You will do," she said, " whatsoever your 
father has said you will do." 

" 'E isn't my father," said young Bealby. 

His mother gave a snapping nod of the head 
expressive of extreme determination. 

" Anyhow I ain't going to do it," said young 
Bealby, and feeling the conversation was dim- 
cult to sustain he moved towards the staircase 
door with a view to slamming it. 

" You'll do it," said his mother, " right 
enough." 

' You see whether I do," said young Bealby, 
and then got in his door-slam rather hurriedly 
because of steps outside. 

Mr. Darling came in out of the sunshine a 
few moments later. He was a large, many- 
pocketed, earthy-whiskered man with a clean- 
shaven determined mouth, and he carried a 
large pale cucumber in his hand. 

" I tole him," he said. 



4 BEALBY 

" What did he say ? " asked his wife. 

" Nuthin," said Mr. Darling. 

" 'E says 'e won't," said Mrs. Darling. 

Mr. Darling regarded her thoughtfully for 
a moment. 

" I never see such a boy/' said Mr. Darling. 
Why 'e's got to." 

2 

But young Bealby maintained an obstinate 
fight against the inevitable. 

He had no gift of lucid exposition. " I ain't 
going to be a servant," he said. " I don't see 
what right people have making a servant of me." 

" You got to be something," said Mr. Darling. 

" Everybody's got to be something," said 
Mrs. Darling. 

" Then let me be something else," said young 
Bealby. 

" / dessay you'd like to be a gentleman," said 
Mr. Darling. 

" I wouldn't mind," said young Bealby. 

" You got to be what your opportunities give 
you," said Mr. Darling. 

Young Bealby became breathless. " Why 
shouldn't I be an engine driver ? " he asked. 

" All oily," said his mother. " And getting 
yourself killed in an accident. And got to pay 
fines. You'd like to be an engine driver." 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 5 

" Or a soldier." 

" Qo ! a Swaddy ! " said Mr. Darling de- 
risively. 

" Or the sea." 

" With that weak stummik of yours," said 
Mrs. Darling. 

" Besides which," said Mr. Darling, " it's 
been arranged for you to go up to the 'ouse the 
very first of next month. And your box and 
everything ready." 

Young Bealby became very red in the face. 
" I won't go," he said very faintly. 

" You will," said Mr. Darling, " if I 'ave to 
take you by the collar and the slack of your 
breeches to get you there." 



3 

The heart of young Bealby was a coal of 
fire within his breast as unassisted he went 
across the dewy park up to the great house 
whither his box was to follow him. 

He thought the world a " rotten show." 

He also said, apparently to two does and a 
fawn, " If you think I'm going to stand it, 
you know, you're JOLLY-well mistaken." 

I do not attempt to justify his prejudice 
against honourable usefulness in a domestic 
capacity. He had it. Perhaps there is some- 
thing in the air of Highbury, where he had 



6 BEALBY 

spent the past eight years of his life, that 
leads to democratic ideals. It is one of those 
new places where estates seem almost forgotten. 
Perhaps too there was something in the Bealby 
strain . . . 

I think he would have objected to any 
employment at all. Hitherto he had been a 
remarkably free boy with a considerable gusto 
about his freedom. Why should that end ? 
The little village mixed school had been a soft 
job for his Cockney wits, and for a year and a 
half he had been top boy. Why not go on 
being top boy ? 

Instead of which, under threats, he had to 
go across the sunlit corner of the park, through 
that slanting morning sunlight which had been 
so often the prelude to golden days of leafy 
wanderings ! He had to go past the corner of 
the laundry where he had so often played 
cricket with the coachman's boys, (already 
swallowed up into the working world), he had 
to follow the laundry wall to the end of the 
kitchen and there, where the steps go down and 
underground, he had to say farewell to the 
sunlight, farewell to childhood, boyhood, free- 
dom. He had to go down and along the stone 
corridor to the pantry, and there he had to 
ask for Mr. Mergleson. He paused on the top 
step, and looked up at the blue sky across 
which a hawk was slowly drifting. His eyes 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 7 

followed the hawk out of sight beyond a cypress 
bough, but indeed he was not thinking about 
the hawk, he was not seeing the hawk ; he was 
struggling with a last wild impulse of his ferial 
nature. " Why not sling it ? " his ferial nature 
was asking. " Why not even now do a bunk ? " 

It would have been better for him perhaps 
and better for Mr. Mergleson and better for 
Shonts if he had yielded to the whisper of the 
Tempter. But his heart was heavy within him, 
and he had no provisions. And never a penny. 
One can do but a very little bunk on an empty 
belly ! " Must " was written all over him. 
He went down the steps. 

The passage was long and cool and at the 
end of it was a swing door. Through that and 
then to the left, he knew one had to go, past 
the stillroom and so to the pantry. The maids 
were at breakfast hi the stillroom with the door 
open. The grimace he made in passing was 
intended rather to entertain than to insult, and 
anyhow a chap must do something with his 
face. And then he came to the pantry and 
into the presence of Mr. Mergleson. 

Mr. Mergleson was in his shirt-sleeves and 
generally dishevelled, having an early cup of 
tea in an atmosphere full of the bleak memories 
of overnight. He was an ample man with a 
large nose, a vast under lip and mutton-chop 
side whiskers. His voice would have suited a 



8 BEALBY 

succulent parrot. He took out a gold watch 
from his waistcoat pocket and regarded it. 
" Ten minutes past seven, young man," he 
said, " isn't seven o'clock." 

Young Bealby made no articulate answer. 

" Just stand there for a minute," said Mr. 
Mergleson, " and when I'm at libbuty I'll run 
through your duties." And almost ostenta- 
tiously he gave himself up to the enjoyment of 
his cup of tea. 

Three other gentlemen in deshabille sat at 
table with Mr. Mergleson. They regarded young 
Bealby with attention and the youngest, a red- 
haired barefaced youth in shirt-sleeves and a 
green apron, was moved to a grimace that was 
clearly designed to echo the scowl on young 
Bealby's features. 

The fury that had been subdued by a 
momentary awe of Mr. Mergleson revived and 
gathered force. Young Bealby's face became 
scarlet, his eyes filled with tears and his mind 
with the need for movement. After all he 
wouldn't stand it. He turned round abruptly 
and made for the door. 

' Where'n earth you going to ? " cried Mr. 
Mergleson. 

" He's shy ! " cried the second footman. 

"Steady on ! " cried the first footman and 
had him by the shoulder in the doorway. 

" Lemme go ! " howled the new recruit, 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 9 

struggling. " I won't be a blooming servant. 
I won't." 

" Here ! " cried Mr. Mergleson, gesticulating 
with his teaspoon, " Bring 'im to the end of 
the table there. What's this about a blooming 
servant ? " 

Bealby suddenly blubbering was replaced at 
the end of the table. 

" May I ask what's this about a blooming 
servant ? " asked Mr. Mergleson. 

Sniff and silence. 

" Did I understand you to say that you ain't 
going to be a blooming servant, young Bealby ? " 

' Yes," said young Bealby. 

' Thomas," said Mr. Mergleson, " just smack 
'is 'ed. Smack it rather 'ard. . . ." 

Things too rapid to relate occurred. " So 
you'd 'bite, would you ? " said Thomas. . . . 

"Ah!" said Mr. Mergleson. "Got 'im ! 
That one ! "... 

" Just smack 'is 'ed once more," said Mr. 
Mergleson. . . . 

" And now you just stand there, young man, 
until I'm at libbuty to attend to you further," 
said Mr. Mergleson, and finished his tea slowly 
and eloquently. . . . 

The second footman rubbed his shin thought- 
fully. 

"-If I got to smack 'is 'ed much," he said, 
' 'e'd better change into his slippers." 



io BEALBY 

" Take him to 'is room," said Mr. Mergleson 
getting up. " See 'e washes the grief and 
grubbiness off 'is face in the handwash at the 
end of the passage and make him put on his 
slippers. Then show 'im 'ow to lay the table 
in the steward's room." 



4 

The duties to which Bealby was introduced 
struck him as perplexingly various, undesirably 
numerous, uninteresting and difficult to re- 
member, and also he did not try to remember 
them very well because he wanted to do them 
as badly as possible, and he thought that for- 
getting would be a good way of starting at 
that. He was beginning at the bottom of the 
ladder ; to him it fell to wait on the upper 
servants, and the green baize door at the top of 
the service staircase was the limit of his range. 
His room was a small wedge-shaped apartment 
under some steps leading to the servants' hall, 
lit by a window that did not open and that 
gave upon the underground passage. He re- 
ceived his instructions in a state of crumpled 
mutinousness, but for a day his desire to be 
remarkably impossible was more than counter- 
balanced by his respect for the large able hands 
of the four menservants, his seniors, and by a 
disinclination to be returned too promptly to 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS II 

the gardens. Then in a tentative manner he 
broke two plates, and got his head smacked by 
Mr. Mergleson himself. Mr. Mergleson gave a 
staccato slap quite as powerful as Thomas's 
but otherwise different. The hand of Mr. 
Mergleson was large and fat and he got his 
effects by dash, Thomas's was horny and 
lingered. After that young Bealby put salt in 
the teapot in which the housekeeper made tea. 
But that, he observed, she washed out with hot 
water before she put in the tea. It was clear 
that he had wasted his salt, which ought to 
have gone into the kettle. 

Next time the kettle. 

Beyond telling him his duties almost ex- 
cessively nobody conversed with young Bealby 
during the long hours of his first day in service. 
At midday dinner in the servants' hall, he 
made one of the kitchen-maids giggle by pulling 
faces intended to be delicately suggestive of 
Mr. Mergleson, but that was his nearest ap- 
proach to disinterested human intercourse. 

When the hour for retirement came, " Get 
out of it. Go to bed, you dirty little Kicker," 
said Thomas. ' We've had about enough of 
you for one day " young Bealby sat for a long 
time on the edge of his bed weighing the possi- 
bilities of arson and poison. He wished he 
had some poison. Some sort of poison with 
a medieval manner, poison that hurts before it 



12 BEALBY 

kills. Also he produced a small penny pocket- 
book with a glazed black cover and blue edges. 
He headed one page of this " Mergleson " and 
entered beneath it three black crosses. Then he 
opened an account to Thomas, who was mani- 
festly destined to be his principal creditor. 
Bealby was not a forgiving boy. At the village 
school they had been too busy making him a 
good Churchman to attend to things like that. 
There were a lot of crosses for Thomas. 

And while Bealby made these sinister memo- 
randa downstairs Lady Laxton for Laxton had 
bought a baronetcy for twenty thousand down 
to the party funds and a tip to the whip over 
the Peptonized Milk flotation Lady Laxton, 
a couple of floors above Bealby's ruffled head, 
mused over her approaching week-end party. 
It was an important week-end party. The 
Lord Chancellor of England was coming. Never 
before had she had so much as a member of 
the Cabinet at Shonts. He was coming, and 
do what she would she could not help but con- 
nect it with her very strong desire to see the 
master of Shonts in the clear scarlet of a Deputy 
Lieutenant. Peter would look so well in that. 
The Lord Chancellor was coming and to meet 
him and to circle about him there were Lord 
John Woodenhouse and Slinker Bond, there 
were the Countess of Barracks and Mrs. Ram- 
pound Pilby, the novelist, with her husband 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 13 

Rampound Pilby, there was Professor Timbre, 
the philosopher, and there were four smaller 
(though quite good) people who would run 
about very satisfactorily among the others. 
(At least she thought they would run about 
very satisfactorily amongst the others, not 
imagining any evil of her cousin Captain 
Douglas.) 

All this good company in Shonts filled Lady 
Laxton with a pleasant realization of progres- 
sive successes, but at the same time one must 
confess that she felt a certain diffidence. In 
her heart of hearts she knew she had not made 
this party. It had happened to her. How 
it might go on happening to her she did not 
know, it was beyond her control. She hoped very 
earnestly that everything would pass off well. 

The Lord Chancellor was as big a guest as any 
she had had. One must grow as one grows, 
but still, being easy and friendly with him 
would be, she knew, a tremendous effort. Rather 
like being easy and friendly with an elephant. 
She was not good at conversation. The task of 
interesting people taxed her and puzzled her. . . . 

It was Slinker Bond, the whip, who had 
arranged the whole business after, it must be 
confessed, a hint from Sir Peter. Laxton had 
complained that the government were neglecting 
this part of the country. ' They ought to show 
up more than they do in the county," said Sir 



14 BEALBY 

Peter and added almost carelessly, " I could 
easily put anybody up at Shonts." There were 
to be two select dinner parties and a large but 
still select Sunday lunch to let in the countryside 
to the spectacle of the Laxtons taking their 
(new) proper place at Shonts. . . . 

It was not only the sense of her own de- 
ficiencies that troubled Lady Laxton ; there 
were also her husband's excesses. He had it 
was no use disguising it rather too much 
the manner of an employer. He had a way of 
getting, how could one put it ? confident at 
dinner, and Mergleson seemed to delight in 
filling up his glass. Then he would contradict 
a good deal. . . . She felt that Lord Chancellors 
however are the sort of men one doesn't con- 
tradict. . . . 

Then the Lord Chancellor was said to be 
interested in philosophy a difficult subject. 
She had got Timbre to talk to him upon that. 
Timbre was a professor of philosophy at Oxford, 
so that was sure to be all right. But she 
wished she knew one or two good safe things 
to say in philosophy herself. She had long 
felt the need of a secretary and now she felt 
it more than ever. If she had a secretary she 
could just tell him what it was she wanted to 
talk about and he could get her one or two 
of the right books and mark the best passages 
and she could learn it all up. 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 15 

She feared it was a worrying fear that 
Laxton would say right out and very early in 
the week-end that he didn't believe in philosophy. 
He had a way of saying he " didn't believe in " 
large things like that, art, philanthropy, novels, 
and so on. Sometimes he said, " I don't 
believe in all this " art or whatever it was. 
She had watched people's faces when he had 
said it and she had come to the conclusion 
that saying you don't believe in things isn't 
the sort of thing people say nowadays. It 
was wrong somehow. But she did not want 
to tell Laxton directly that it was wrong. He 
would remember if she did, but he had a way of 
taking such things rather badly at the time. . . . 
She hated him to take things badly. 

" If one could invent some little hint," she 
whispered to herself. 

She had often wished she was better at 
hints. 

She was, you see, a gentlewoman, modest, 
kindly. Her people were quite good people. 
Poor of course. But she was not clever, she 
was anything but clever. And the wives of 
these captains of industry need to be very clever 
indeed if they are to escape a magnificent 
social isolation. They get the titles and the 
big places and all that sort of thing, people 
don't at all intend to isolate them, but there is 
nevertheless an inadvertent avoidance. 



16 BEALBY 

Even as she uttered these words, "If one 
could invent some little hint/' Bealby down 
there less than forty feet away through the 
solid floor below her feet and a little to the 
right was wetting his stump of pencil as wet 
as he could in order to ensure a sufficiently 
emphatic fourteenth cross on the score sheet of 
the doomed Thomas. Most of the other thirteen 
marks were done with such hard breathing 
emphasis that the print of them went more than 
half-way through that little blue-edged book. 

5 

The arrival of the week-end guests impressed 
Bealby at first merely as a blessed influence 
that withdrew the four menservants into that 
unknown world on the other side of the green 
baize door, but then he learnt that it also involved 
the appearance of five new persons, two valets 
and three maids, for whom places had to be 
laid in the steward's room. Otherwise Lady 
Laxton's social arrangements had no more 
influence upon the mind of Bealby than the 
private affairs of the Emperor of China. There 
was something going on up there, beyond 
even his curiosity. All he heard of it was a 
distant coming and going of vehicles and some 
slight talk to which he was inattentive while 
the coachman and grooms were having a 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS i? 

drink in the pantry until these maids and 
valets appeared. They seemed to him to 
appear suddenly out of nothing like slugs after 
rain, black and rather shiny, sitting about 
inactively and quietly consuming small matters. 
He disliked them and they regarded him without 
affection or respect. 

Who cared ? He indicated his feeling 
towards them as soon as he was out of the 
steward's room by a gesture of the hand and 
nose venerable only by reason of its antiquity. 

He had things more urgent to think about 
than strange valets and maids. Thomas had 
laid hands on him, jeered at him, inflicted 
shameful indignities on him, and he wanted to 
kill Thomas in some frightful manner. (But 
if possible unobtrusively.) 

If he had been a little Japanese boy this 
would have been an entirely honourable desire. 
It would have been Bushido and all that sort 
of thing. In the gardener's stepson however 
it is undesirable. . . . 

Thomas, on the other hand, having remarked 
the red light of revenge in Bealby's eye and 
being secretly afraid, felt that his honour was 
concerned in not relaxing his persecutions. 
He called him " Kicker " and when he did 
not answer to that name, he called him 
" Snorter," " Bleater," " Snooks " and finally 
tweaked his ear. Then he saw fit to assume 



i8 BEALBY 

that Bealby was deaf and that ear-tweaking 
was the only available method of address. 
This led on to the convention of a sign language 
whereby ideas were communicated to Bealby 
by means of painful but frequently quite 
ingeniously symbolical freedoms with various 
parts of his person. Also Thomas affected to 
discover uncleanliness in Bealby's head, and 
succeeded after many difficulties in putting it 
into a sinkful of lukewarm water. 

Meanwhile young Bealby devoted such 
scanty time as he could give to reflection to 
debating whether it was better to attack Thomas 
suddenly with a carving knife or throw a 
lighted lamp. The large pantry inkpot of 
pewter might be effective in its way, he thought, 
but he doubted whether in the event of a 
charge it had sufficient stopping power. He 
was also curiously attracted by a long two- 
pronged toasting fork that hung at the side 
of the pantry fireplace. It had reach. . . . 

Over all these dark thoughts and ill-concealed 
emotions Mr. Mergleson prevailed, large yet 
speedy, speedy yet exact, parroting orders and 
making plump gestures, performing duties and 
seeing that duties were performed. 

Matters came to a climax late on Saturday 
night at the end of a trying day, just before Mr. 
Mergleson went round to lock up and turn out 
the lights. 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 19 

Thomas came into the pantry close behind 
Bealby who, greatly belated through his own 
inefficiency, was carrying a tray of glasses from 
the steward's room, applied an ungentle hand 
to his neck, and ruffled up his back hair in a 
smart and painful manner. At the same time 
Thomas remarked, " Burrrrh ! " 

Bealby stood still for a moment and then put 
down his tray on the table and, making peculiar 
sounds as he did so, resorted very rapidly to 
the toasting fork. . . . He got a prong into 
Thomas's chin at the first prod. 

How swift are the changes of the human soul ! 
At the moment of his thrust young Bealby was a 
primordial savage ; so soon as he saw this in- 
credible piercing of Thomas's chin for all the 
care that Bealby had taken it might just as well 
have been Thomas's eye he moved swiftly 
through the ages and became a simple Christian 
child. He abandoned violence and fled. 

The fork hung for a moment from the visage 
of Thomas like a twisted beard of brass, and 
then rattled on the ground. 

Thomas clapped his hand to his chin and 
discovered blood. 

' You little ! " He never found the right 

word, (which perhaps is just as well), instead he 
started in pursuit, of Bealby. 

Bealby in his sudden horror of his own act 
and Thomas fled headlong into the passage 



20 BEALBY 

and made straight for the service stairs that 
went up into a higher world. He had little 
time to think. Thomas with a red-smeared 
chin appeared in pursuit. Thomas the avenger. 
Thomas really roused. Bealby shot through 
the green baize door and the pursuing footman 
pulled up only just in time not to follow him. 

Only just in time. He had an instinctive 
instant anxious fear of great dangers. He 
heard something, a sound as though the young 
of some very large animal had squeaked feebly. 
He had a glimpse of something black and white 
and large. . . . 

Then something, some glass thing, smashed. 

He steadied the green baize door which was 
wobbling on its brass hinges, controlled his 
panting breath and listened. 

A low rich voice was ejaculating. It was 
not Bealby's voice, it was the voice of some 
substantial person being quietly but deeply 
angry. They were the ejaculations restrained 
in tone but not in quality of a ripe and well- 
stored mind, no boy's thin stuff. 

Then very softly Thomas pushed open the 
door just widely enough to see, and as instantly 
let it fall back into place. 

Very gently and yet with an alert rapidity he 
turned about and stole down the service stairs. 

His superior officer appeared in the passage 
below. 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 21 

" Mr. Mergleson," he cried, " I say Mr. 
Mergleson." 

" What's up ? " said Mr. Mergleson* 

" He's gone ! " 

" Who ? " 

" Bealby." 

" Home ? " This almost hopefully. 

" No." 

" Where ? " 

" Up there ! I think he ran against some- 
body." 

Mr. Mergleson scrutinized his subordinate's 
face for a second. Then he listened intently ; 
both men listened intently. 

" Have to fetch him out of that," said Mr. 
Mergleson suddenly preparing for brisk activity. 

Thomas bent lower over the banisters. 

' The Lord Chancellor /" he whispered with 
white lips and a sideways gesture of his head. 

' What about 'im ? " said Mergleson arrested 
by something in the manner of Thomas. 

Thomas's whisper became so fine that Mr. 
Mergleson drew nearer to catch it. Thomas 
repeated the last remark. " He's just through 
there on the landing cursing and swearing 
'orrible things more like a mad turkey than a 
human being." 

? Where's Bealby ? " 

" He must almost 'ave run into 'im/ 1 said 
Thomas after consideration. 



22 BEALBY 

" But now where is he ? " 

Thomas pantomimed infinite perplexity. 

Mr. Mergleson reflected and decided upon his 
line. He came up the service staircase, lifted 
his chin and with an air of meek officiousness 
went through the green door. There was no 
one now on the landing, there was nothing re- 
markable on the landing except a broken 
tumbler, but half-way up the grand staircase 
stood the Lord Chancellor. Under one arm 
the great jurist carried a soda-water syphon 
and he grasped a decanter of whisky in his hand. 
He turned sharply at the sound of the green 
baize door and bent upon Mr. Mergleson the 
most terrible eyebrows that ever surely 
adorned a legal visage. He was very red in 
the face and savage-looking. 

" Was it you" he said with a threatening 
gesture of the decanter and his voice betrayed 
a noble indignation, " was it you who slapped 
me behind ? " 

" Slapped you behind, me lord ? " 

" Slapped me behind. Don't I speak 
plainly ? " 

" I such a libbuty, me lord ! " 

" Idiot ! I ask you a plain question " 

With almost inconceivable alacrity Mr. 
Mergleson rushed up three steps, leapt forward 
and caught the syphon as it slipped from his 
lordship's arm. 



YOUNG BEALBY GOES TO SHONTS 23 

He caught it, but at a price. He overset and, 
clasping it in his hands, struck his lordship first 
with the syphon on the left shin and then 
butted him with a face that was still earnestly 
respectful in the knees. His lordship's legs 
were driven sideways, so that they were no 
longer beneath his centre of gravity. With a 
monosyllabic remark of a topographical nature 
his lordship collapsed upon Mr. Mergleson. 
The decanter flew out of his grasp and smashed 
presently with emphasis upon the landing 
below. The syphon escaping from the wreckage 
of Mr. Mergleson and drawn no doubt by a 
natural affinity, rolled noisily from step to step 
in pursuit of the decanter. . . . 

It was a curious little procession that hurried 
down the great staircase of Shonts that night. 
First the whisky like a winged harbinger with 
the pedestrian syphon in pursuit. Then the 
great lawyer gripping the great butler by the 
tails of his coat and punching furiously. Then 
Mr. Mergleson trying wildly to be respectful 
even in disaster. First the Lord Chancellor 
dived over Mr. Mergleson grappling as he passed, 
then Mr. Mergleson, attempting explanations, 
was pulled backwards over the Lord Chancellor ; 
then again the Lord Chancellor was for a giddy 
but vindictive moment uppermost ; a second 
rotation and they reached the landing. 

Bang ! There was a deafening report 



CHAPTER THE SECOND 
A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 

i 

HE week-end visit is a form of enter- 
A tainment peculiar to Great Britain. It 
is a thing that could have been possible only 
in a land essentially aristocratic and mellow, 
in which even the observance of the Sabbath 
has become mellow. At every London ter- 
minus on a Saturday afternoon the outgoing 
trains have an unusually large proportion of 
first-class carriages, and a peculiar abundance 
of rich-looking dressing-bags provoke the 
covetous eye. A discreet activity of valets 
and maids mingles with the stimulated alert- 
ness of the porters. One marks celebrities 
in gay raiment. There is an indefinable air 
of distinction upon platform and bookstall. 
Sometimes there are carriages reserved for 
especially privileged parties. There are 
greetings. 

" And so you are coming too ! " 
" No, this time it is Shonts." 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 25 

"The place where they found the Rubens. 
Who has it now ? " . . . 

Through this cheerfully prosperous throng 
went the Lord Chancellor with his high nose, 
those eyebrows of his which he seemed to be 
able to furl or unfurl at will, and his expression 
of tranquil self-sufficiency. He was going to 
Shonts for his party and not for his pleasure, 
but there was no reason why that should appear 
upon his face. He went along preoccupied, 
pretending to see nobody, leaving to others the 
disadvantage of the greeting. In his right hand 
he carried a small important bag of leather. 
Under his left arm he bore a philosophical 
work by Doctor MacTaggart, three illustrated 
papers, the Fortnightly Review, the day's 
Times, the Hibbert Journal, Punch and two 
blue books. His lordship never quite knew 
the limits set to what he could carry under his 
arm. His man, Candler, followed therefore at a 
suitable distance with several papers that had 
already been dropped, alert to retrieve any 
further losses. 

At the large bookstall they passed close by 
Mrs. Rampound Pilby who according to her 
custom was feigning to be a member of the 
general public and was asking the clerk about 
her last book. The Lord Chancellor saw Ram- 
pound Pilby hovering at hand and deftly failed 
to catch his eye. He loathed the Rampound 



26 BEALBY 

Pilbys. He speculated for a moment what sort 
of people could possibly stand Mrs. Pilby's 
vast pretensions even from Saturday to 
Monday. One dinner party on her right hand 
had glutted him for life. He chose a corner 
seat, took possession of both it and the seat 
opposite it in order to have somewhere to put 
his feet, left Candler to watch over and pack 
in his hand luggage, and went high up the plat- 
form, remaining there with his back to the 
world rather like a bigger more aquiline 
Napoleon in order to evade the great novelist. 

In this he was completely successful. 

He returned however to find Candler on the 
verge of a personal conflict with a very fair 
young man in grey. He was so fair as to be 
almost an albino, except that his eyes were 
quick and brown ; he was blushing the brightest 
pink and speaking very rapidly. 

' These two places," said Candler, breathless 
with the badness of his case, " are engaged." 

" Oh ve-very well," said the very fair 
young man, with his eyebrows and moustache 
looking very pale by contrast, " have it so. 
But do permit me to occupy the middle seat of 
the carriage. With a residuary interest in the 
semi-gentleman's place." 

' You little know, young man, whom you are 
calling a semi-gentleman," said Candler, whose 
speciality was grammar, 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 27 



" Here he is ! " said the young gentleman. 

' Which place will you have, my lord ? " 
asked Candler, abandoning his case altogether. 

;< Facing/' said the Lord Chancellor slowly 
unfurling the eyebrows and scowling at the 
young man in grey. 

' Then I'll have the other," said the very fair 
young man talking very glibly. He spoke 
with a quick low voice, like one who forces him- 
self to keep going. " You see," he said, 
addressing the great jurist with the extreme 
familiarity of the courageously nervous, "I've 
gone into this sort of thing before. First, mind 
you, I have a fair look for a vacant corner. I'm 
not the sort to spoil sport. But if there isn't 
a vacant corner I look for traces of a semi- 
gentleman. A semi-gentleman is one who has 
a soft cap and not an umbrella his friend in 
the opposite seat has the umbrella or he has 
an umbrella and not a soft cap, or a waterproof 
and not a bag, or a bag and not a waterproof. 
And a half interest in a rug. That's what I call 
a semi-gentleman. You see the idea. Sort of 
divided beggar. Nothing in any way offensive." 

" Sir," said the Lord Chancellor, interrupting 
in a voice of concentrated passion, " I don't 
care a rap what you call a semi-gentleman. 
Will you get out of my way ? " 

' Just as you please," said the very fair 
young man, and going a few paces from the 



28 BEALBY 

carriage door he whistled for the boy with the 
papers. He was bearing up bravely. 

" Pink 'un ? " said the very fair young 
gentleman almost breathlessly. " Black and 
White ? What's all these others ? Aihenceum ? 
Sporting and Dramatic ? Right O. And Eh ! 
What ? Do I look the sort that buys a Spec- 
tator ? You don't know ! Do I wear galoshes ? 
My dear boy, where's your savoir faire ? " 

2 

The Lord Chancellor was a philosopher and 
not easily perturbed. His severe manner was 
consciously assumed and never much more than 
skin-deep. He had already furled his eyebrows 
and dismissed his vis-a-vis from his mind before 
the train started. He turned over the Hibbert 
Journal, and read in it with a large tolerance. 

Dimly on the outskirts of his consciousness 
the very fair young man hovered, as a trifling 
annoyance, as something pink and hot rustling 
a sheet of a discordant shade of pink, as some- 
thing that got in the way of his legs and 
whistled softly some trivial cheerful air, just to 
show how little it cared. Presently, very soon, 
this vague trouble would pass out of his con- 
sciousness altogether. . . . 

The Lord Chancellor was no mere amateur of 
philosophy. His activities in that direction 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 29 

were a part of his public reputation. He 
lectured on religion and aesthetics. He was a 
fluent Hegelian. He spent his holidays, it was 
understood, in the Absolute at any rate in 
Germany. He would sometimes break into 
philosophy at dinner tables and particularly 
over the dessert, and be more luminously incom- 
prehensible while still apparently sober, than 
almost anyone. An article in the Hibbert 
caught and held his attention. It attempted to 
define a new and doubtful variety of Infinity. 
You know of course that there are many sorts 
and species of Infinity, and that the Absolute is 
just the king among Infinities as the lion is king 
among the beasts. . . . 

" I say," said a voice coming out of the world 
of Relativity and coughing the cough of those 
who break a silence, " You aren't going to 
Shonts, are you ? " 

The Lord Chancellor returned slowly to 
earth. 

' Just seen your label," said the very fair 
young man. ' You see, I'm going to Shonts." 

The Lord Chancellor remained outwardly 
serene. He reflected for a moment. And then 
he fell into that snare which is more fatal to 
great lawyers and judges perhaps than to any 
other class of men, the snare of the crushing re- 
partee. 'One had come into his head now, a 
beauty. 



30 BEALBY 

" Then we shall meet there/' he said in his 
suavest manner. 

" Wellrather." 

" It would be a great pity," said the Lord 
Chancellor with an effective blandness, using a 
kind of wry smile that he employed to make 
things humorous, "it would be a great pity, 
don't you think, to anticipate that pleasure." 

And having smiled the retort well home with 
his head a little on one side, he resumed with 
large leisurely movements the reading of his 
Hibbert Journal. 

" Got me there," said the very fair young 
man belatedly, looking boiled to a turn, and 
after a period of restlessness settled down to an 
impatient perusal of Black and White. 

" There's a whole blessed week-end of course," 
the young man remarked presently without 
looking up from his paper and apparently 
pursuing some obscure meditations. . . . 

A vague uneasiness crept into the Lord 
Chancellor's mind as he continued to appear 
to peruse. Out of what train of thought could 
such a remark arise ? His weakness for crush- 
ing retort had a little betrayed him. . . . 

It was however only when he found himseli 
upon the platform of Chelsome, which as every- 
one knows is the station for Shonts, and dis- 
covered Mr. and Mrs. Rampound Pilby upon 
the platform, looking extraordinarily like a 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 31 

national monument and its custodian, that the 
Lord Chancellor began to realize that he was 
in the grip of fate, and that the service he was 
doing his party by week-ending with the Laxtons 
was likely to be not simply joyless but disagree- 
able. 

Well anyhow he had MacTaggart, and he 
could always work in his own room. . . . 

3 

By the end of dinner the Lord Chancellor was 
almost at the end of his large but clumsy endur- 
ance ; he kept his eyebrows furled only by the 
most strenuous relaxation of his muscles, and 
within he was a sea of silent blasphemies. All 
sorts of little things had accumulated. . . . 

He exercised an unusual temperance with the 
port and old brandy his host pressed upon him, 
feeling that he dared not relax lest his rage had 
its way with him. The cigars were quite in- 
telligent at any rate, and he smoked and 
listened with a faintly perceptible disdain to 
the conversation of the other men. At any rate 
Mrs. Rampound Pilby was out of the room. 
The talk had arisen out of a duologue that had 
preceded the departure of the ladies, a duologue 
of Timbre's, about apparitions and the reality 
of the future life. Sir Peter Laxton, released 
from the eyes of his wife, was at liberty to say 



32 BEALBY 

he did not believe in all this stuff ; it was jusi 
thought transference and fancy and all thai 
sort of thing. His declaration did not arresi 
the flow of feeble instances and experiences intc 
which such talk invariably degenerates. Hi; 
lordship remained carelessly attentive, hi; 
eyebrows unfurled but drooping, his cigai 
upward at an acute angle ; he contributed nc 
anecdotes, content now and then to express him 
self compactly by some brief sentence of pun 
Hegelian much as a Mahometan mighi 
spit. 

" Why ! come to that, they say Shonts i: 
haunted," said Sir Peter. " I suppose w( 
could have a ghost here in no time if I chose tc 
take it on. Rare place for a ghost too." 

The very fair young man of the train had got 
name now and was Captain Douglas. Wher 
he was not blushing too brightly he was rathei 
good-looking. He was a distant cousin of Lad} 
Laxton. He impressed the Lord Chancelloi 
as unabashed. He engaged people in con- 
versation with a cheerful familiarity that ex- 
cluded only the Lord Chancellor, and even a1 
the Lord Chancellor he looked ever and again 
He pricked up his ears at the mention of ghosts 
and afterwards when the Lord Chancellor cam* 
to think things over, it seemed to him that he 
had caught a curious glance of the Captain's 
bright little brown eye. 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 33 

' What sort of ghost, Sir Peter ? Chains ? 
Eh ? No ? " 

" Nothing of that sort, it seems. I don't 
know much about it, I wasn't sufficiently 
interested. No, sort of spook that bangs about 
and does you a mischief. What's its name ? 
Plundergeist ? " 

" Poltergeist," the Lord Chancellor supplied 
carelessly in the pause. 

" Runs its hand over your hair in the dark. 
Taps your shoulder. All nonsense. But we 
don't tell the servants. Sort of thing I don't 
believe in. Easily explained, what with 
panelling and secret passages and priests' holes 
and all that." 

" Priests' holes ! " Douglas was excited. 

' Where they hid. Perfect rabbit warren. 
There's one going out from the drawing-room 
alcove. Quite a good room in its way. But 
you know," a note of wrath crept into Sir 
Peter's voice, " they didn't treat me fairly 
about these priests' holes. I ought to have 
had a sketch and a plan of these priests' holes. 
When a chap is given possession of a place, he 
ought to be given possession. Well ! I don't 
know where half of them are myself. That's 
not possession. Else we might refurnish them 
and do them up a bit. I guess they're pretty 
musty." 

Captain Douglas spoke with his eye on the 
3 



34 BEALBY 

Lord Chancellor. " Sure there isn't a murdere< 
priest in the place, Sir Peter ? " he asked. 

" Nothing of the sort," said Sir Peter. " 
don't believe in these priests' holes. Hal 
of 'em never had priests in 'em. It's all pretty 
tidy rot I expect come to the bottom o 
it. . . ." 

The conversation did not get away fron 
ghosts and secret passages until the men wen 
to the drawing-room. If it seemed likely t 
do so Captain Douglas pulled it back. H 
seemed to delight in these silly particulars 
the sillier they were the more he was de 
lighted. 

The Lord Chancellor was a little preoccupies 
by one of those irrational suspicions that wil 
sometimes afflict the most intelligent of men 
Why did Douglas want to know all the particu 
lars about the Shonts ghosts ? Why every no\ 
and then did he glance with that odd expressioi 
at one's face a glance half appealing and hal 
amused ? Amused ! It was a strange fancy 
but the Lord Chancellor could almost hav 
sworn that the young man was laughing a 
him. At dinner he had had that feeling one ha 
at times of being talked about ; he had glance< 
along the table to discover the Captain and j 
rather plain woman, that idiot Timbre's wif< 
she probably was, with their heads togethe 
looking up at him quite definitely and botl 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 35 

manifestly pleased by something Douglas was 
telling her. . . . 

What was it Douglas had said in the train ? 
Something like a threat. But the exact words 
had slipped the Lord Chancellor's memory. . . . 

The Lord Chancellor's preoccupation was 
just sufficient to make him a little unwary. 
He drifted into grappling distance of Mrs. 
Rampound Pilby. Her voice caught him like 
a lasso and drew him in. 

' Well, and how is Lord Moggeridge now ? " 
she asked. 

What on earth is one to say to such an 
impertinence ? 

She was always like that. She spoke to a 
man of the calibre of Lord Bacon as though 
she was speaking to a schoolboy home for the 
holidays. She had an invincible air of know- 
ing all through everybody. It gave rather 
confidence to her work than charm to her 
manner. 

; ' Do you still go on with your philosophy ? " 
she said. 

" No," shouted the Lord Chancellor, losing 
all self-control for the moment and waving his 
eyebrows about madly, " No, I go off with 
it." 

' For your vacations ? Ah, Lord Mogger- 
idge, how I envy you great lawyers your long 
vacations. I never get a vacation. Always 



36 BEALBY 

we poor authors are pursued by our creations 
sometimes it's typescript, sometimes it': 
proofs. Not that I really complain of proofs 
I confess to a weakness for proofs. Sometime! 
alas ! it's criticism. Such undiscernin^ 
criticism ! . . ." 

The Lord Chancellor began to think ven 
swiftly of some tremendous lie that woulc 
enable him to escape at once without incivility 
from Lady Laxton's drawing-room. Thei 
he perceived that Mrs. Rampound Pilby wa 
asking him : " Is that the Captain Douglas, o: 
his brother who's in love with the actresi 
woman ? " 

The Lord Chancellor made no answer 
What he thought was : " Great Silly Idiot 
How should / know ? " 

" I think it must be the one, the one wh< 
had to leave Portsmouth in disgrace becausi 
of the ragging scandal. He did nothing there 
they say, but organize practical jokes. Sonn 
of them were quite subtle practical jokes 
He's a cousin of our hostess ; that perhap: 
accounts for his presence. . . ." 

The Lord Chancellor's comment betrayec 
the drift of his thoughts. " He'd better no 
try that sort of thing on here," he said. " '. 
abominate clowning." 

Drawing-room did not last very long. Evei 
Lady Laxton could not miss the manifes 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 37 

gloom of her principal guest, and after the 
good-nights and barley water and lemonade 
on the great landing Sir Peter led Lord 
Moggeridge by the arm he hated being led 
by the arm into the small but still spacious 
apartment that was called the study. The 
Lord Chancellor was now very thirsty ; he 
was not used to abstinence of any sort ; but 
Sir Peter's way of suggesting a drink roused 
such a fury of resentment in him that he refused 
tersely and conclusively. There was nobody 
else in the study but Captain Douglas, who 
seemed to hesitate upon the verge of some 
familiar address, and Lord Woodenhouse who 
was thirsty too, and held a vast tumbler of 
whisky and soda, with a tinkle of ice in it, on 
his knee in a way annoying to a parched man. 
The Lord Chancellor helped himself to a cigar 
and assumed the middle of the fireplace with an 
air of contentment, but he could feel the self- 
control running out of the heels of his boots. 

Sir Peter after a quite unsuccessful invasion 
of his own hearthrug the Lord Chancellor 
stood like a rock secured the big armchair, 
stuck his feet out towards his distinguished 
guest and resumed a talk that he had been 
holding with Lord Woodenhouse about fire- 
arms. Mergleson had as usual been too 
attentive to his master's glass, and the fine 
edge was off Sir Peter's deference. " I always 



38 BEALBY 

have carried firearms," he said, " and I always 
shall. Used properly they are a great protection. 
Even in the country how are you to know who 
you're going to run up against any when ? " 

" But you might shoot and hit something," 
said Douglas. 

"Properly used, I said properly used. 
Whipping out a revolver and shooting at a 
man, that's not properly used. Almost as 
bad as pointing it at him which is pretty 
certain to make him fly straight at you. If 
he's got an ounce of pluck. But / said properly 
used and I mean properly used." 

The Lord Chancellor tried to think about 
that article on Infinities, while appearing to 
listen to this fool's talk. He despised revolvers. 
Armed with such eyebrows as his it was natural 
for him to despise revolvers. 

" Now, I've got some nice little barkers up- 
stairs," said Sir Peter. "I'd almost welcome 
a burglar, just to try them." 

" If you shoot a burglar," said Lord Wooden- 
house abruptly, with a gust of that ill-temper 
that was frequent at Shonts towards bed- 
time, " when he's not attacking you, it s 
murder." 

Sir Peter held up an offensively pacifying 
hand. " I know that," he said, " you needn't 
teU me that" 

He raised his voice a little to increase his 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 39 

already excessive accentuations. " / said 
properly used." 

A yawn took the Lord Chancellor unawares 
and he caught it dexterously with his hand. 
Then he saw Douglas hastily pull at his little 
blonde moustache to conceal a smile, grin- 
ning ape ! What was there to smile at ? The 
man had been smiling all the evening. 

Up to something ? 

" Now let me tell you," said Sir Peter, " let 
me tell you the proper way to use a revolver. 
You whip it out and instantly let fly at the 
ground. You should never let anyone see a 
revolver ever before they hear it see ? You 
let fly at the ground first off, and the concussion 
stuns them. It doesn't stun you. You expect 
it, they don't. See ? There you are five 
shots left, master of the situation." 

" I think, Sir Peter, I'll bid you good-night," 
said the Lord Chancellor, allowing his eye to 
rest for one covetous moment on the decanter 
and struggling with the devil of pride. 

Sir Peter made a gesture of extreme friendli- 
ness from his chair, expressive of the Lord 
Chancellor's freedom to do whatever he pleased 
at Shonts. " I may perhaps tell you a little 
story that happened once in Morocco." 

" My eyes won't keep open any longer," 
said Captain Douglas suddenly, with a whirl 
of his knuckles into his sockets, and stood up. 



40 BEALBY 

Lord Woodenhouse stood up too. 

" You see," said Sir Peter, standing also but 
sticking to his subject and his hearer. ' This 
was when I was younger than I am now, 
you must understand, and I wasn't married. 
Just mooching about a bit, between business 
and pleasure. Under such circumstances one 
goes into parts of a foreign town where one 
wouldn't go if one was older and wiser. . . ." 

Captain Douglas left Sir Peter and Wooden- 
house to it. 

He emerged on the landing and selected one 
of the lighted candlesticks upon the table. 
" Lord ! " he whispered. He grimaced in 
soliloquy and then perceived the Lord Chancellor 
regarding him with suspicion and disfavour from 
the ascending staircase. He attempted ease- 
For the first time since the train incident he 
addressed Lord Moggeridge. 

" I gather, my lord, you don't believe in 
ghosts ? " he said. 

"No, sir," said the Lord Chancellor, "I 
don't." 

' They won't trouble me to-night." 

' They won't trouble any of us." 

" Fine old house anyhow," said Captain 
Douglas. 

The Lord Chancellor disdained to reply. He 
went on his way upstairs. 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 41 

4 

When the Lord Chancellor sat down before 
the thoughtful fire in the fine old panelled room 
assigned to him he perceived that he was too 
disturbed to sleep. This was going to be an 
infernal week-end. The worst week-end he had 
ever had. Mrs. Rampound Pilby maddened 
him; Timbre, who was a Pragmatist which 
stands in the same relation to a Hegelian that 
a small dog does to a large cat exasperated 
him ; he loathed Laxton, detested Rampound 
Pilby and feared as far as he was capable of 
fearing anything Captain Douglas. There was 
no refuge, no soul in the house to whom he could 
turn for consolation and protection from these 
others. Slinker Bond could talk only of the 
affairs of the party, and the Lord Chancellor, 
being Lord Chancellor, had lost any interest in 
the affairs of the party ; Woodenhouse could 
talk of nothing. The women were astonishingly 
negligible. There were practically no pretty 
women. There ought always to be pretty young 
women for a Lord Chancellor, pretty young 
women who can at least seem to listen. . . . 

And he was atrociously thirsty. 

His room was supplied only with water, 
stuff you use to clean your teeth and nothing 
else. . . . 

No good thinking about it. ... 



42 BEALBY 

He decided that the best thing he could do to 
compose himself before turning in would be to 
sit down at the writing-table and write a few 
sheets of Hegelian about that Infinity article 
in the Hibbert. There is indeed no better 
consolation for a troubled mind than the Hegelian 
exercises ; they lift it above everything. He 
took off his coat and sat down to this beautiful 
amusement, but he had scarcely written a page 
before his thirst became a torment. He kept 
thinking of that great tumbler Woodenhouse 
had held, sparkling, golden, cool and stimu- 
lating. 

What he wanted was a good stiff whisky and 
a cigar, one of Laxton's cigars, the only good 
thing in his entertainment so far. 

And then Philosophy. 

Even as a student he had been a worker of 
the Teutonic type, never abstemious. 

He thought of ringing and demanding these 
comforts, and then it occurred to him that it 
was a little late to ring for things. Why not 
fetch them from the study himself ? . . . 

He opened his door and looked out upon the 
great staircase. It was a fine piece of work, 
that staircase. Low, broad, dignified. . . . 

There seemed to be nobody about. The lights 
were still on. He listened for a little while, 
and then put on his coat and went with a soft 
swiftness that was still quite dignified down- 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 43 

stairs to the study, the study redolent of Sir 
Peter. 

He made his modest collection. 

Lord Moggeridge came nearer to satisfaction 
as he emerged from the study that night at 
Shonts than at any other moment during this 
ill-advised week-end. In his pocket were four 
thoroughly good cigars. In one hand he held 
a cut glass decanter of whisky. In the other a 
capacious tumbler. Under his arm, with that 
confidence in the unlimited portative power of 
his arm that nothing could shake, he had 
tucked the syphon. His soul rested upon the 
edge of tranquillity like a bird that has escaped 
the fowler. He was already composing his 
next sentence about that new variety of 
Infinity. . . . 

Then something struck him from behind and 
impelled him forward a couple of paces. It 
was something hairy, something in the nature, 
he thought afterwards, of a worn broom. And 
also there were two other things softer and a 
little higher on each side. . . . 

Then it was he made that noise like the young 
of some large animal. 

He dropped the glass in a hasty attempt to 
save the syphon. . . . 

1 What in the name of Heavens ? " he 

cried, and found himself alone. 

" Captain Douglas ! " 



44 BE ALB Y 

The thought leapt to his mind. 

But indeed it was not Captain Douglas. 
It was Bealby. Bealby in panic flight from 
Thomas. And how was Bealby to know 
that this large, richly laden man was the Lord 
Chancellor of England? Never before had 
Bealby seen anyone in evening dress except a 
butler, and so he supposed this was just some 
larger, finer kind of butler that they kept 
upstairs. Some larger, finer kind of butler 
blocking the path of escape. Bealby had 
taken in the situation with the rapidity of a 
hunted animal. The massive form blocked the 
door to the left. . . . 

In the playground of the village school 
Bealby had been pre-eminent for his dodging ; 
he moved as quickly as a lizard. His little 
hands, his head, poised with the skill of a 
practised butter, came against that mighty back, 
and then Bealby had dodged into the study. . . . 

But it seemed to Lord Moggeridge, staggering 
over his broken glass and circling about de- 
fensively, that this fearful indignity could come 
only from Captain Douglas. Foolery. . . . Blup, 
blup. . . . Sham Poltergeist. Imbeciles. . . . 

He said as much, believing that this young 
man and possibly confederates were within 
hearing; he said as much hotly. He went 
on to remarks of an unphilosophical tendency 
about Captain Douglas generally, and about 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 45 

army officers, practical joking, Laxton's 
hospitalities, Shonts. . . . Thomas, you will 
remember, heard him. . . . 

Nothing came of it. No answer, not a word 
of apology. 

At last in a great dudgeon and with a kind 
of wariness about his back, the Lord Chancellor, 
with things more spoilt for him than ever, 
went on his way upstairs. 

When the green baize door opened behind 
him, he turned like a shot, and a large foolish- 
faced butler appeared. Lord Moggeridge with 
a sceptre-like motion of the decanter very quietly 
and firmly asked him a simple question and then, 
then the lunatic must needs leap up three stairs 
and dive suddenly and upsettingly at his legs. 

Lord Moggeridge was paralysed with amaze- 
ment. His legs were struck from under him. 
He uttered one brief topographical cry. 

(To Sir Peter unfortunately it sounded like 
" Help ! ") 

For a few seconds the impressions that 
rushed upon Lord Moggeridge were too rapid 
for adequate examination. He had a com- 
pelling fancy to kill butlers. Things culmin- 
ated in a pistol shot. And then he found 
himself sitting on the landing beside a dis- 
gracefully dishevelled manservant, and his host 
was running downstairs to them with a revolver 
in his hand. 



46 BEALBY 

On occasion Lord Moggeridge could produce 
a tremendous voice. He did so now. For a 
moment he stared panting at Sir Peter, and 
then emphasized by a pointing finger came the 
voice. Never had it been so charged with 
emotion. 

" What does this mean, you, sir ? " he 
shouted. " What does this mean ? " 

It was exactly what Sir Peter had intended 
to say. 

5 

Explanations are detestable things. 
And anyhow it isn't right to address your 
host as " You, sir." 

6 

Throughout the evening the persuasion had 
grown in Lady Laxton's mind that all was not 
going well with the Lord Chancellor. It was 
impossible to believe he was enjoying himself. 
But she did not know how to give things a 
turn for the better. Clever women would have 
known, but she was so convinced she was not 
clever that she did not even try. 

Thing after thing had gone wrong. 

How was she to know that there were two 
sorts of philosophy quite different ? She 
had thought philosophy was philosophy. But 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 47 

it seemed that there were these two sorts, if not 
more ; a round large sort that talked about 
the Absolute and was scornfully superior and 
rather irascible, and a jabby-pointed sort that 
called people " Tender " or " Tough," and 
was generally much too familiar. To bring 
them together was just mixing trouble. There 
ought to be little books for hostesses explaining 
these things. . . . 

Then it was extraordinary that the Lord 
Chancellor who was so tremendously large and 
clever wouldn't go and talk to Mrs. Rampound 
Pilby who was also so tremendously large and 
clever. Repeatedly Lady Laxton had tried to 
get them into touch with one another. Until 
at last the Lord Chancellor had said distinctly 
and deliberately, when she had suggested his 
going across to the eminent writer, " God 
forbid ! " Her dream of a large clever duologue 
that she could afterwards recall with pleasure 
was altogether shattered. She thought the 
Lord Chancellor uncommonly hard to please. 
These weren't the only people for him. Why 
couldn't he "chat party secrets" with Slinker 
Bond or say things to Lord Woodenhouse ? 
You could say anything you liked to Lord 
Woodenhouse. Or talk with Mr. Timbre. Mrs. 
Timbre had given him an excellent opening ; 
she had asked, wasn't it a dreadful anxiety 
always to have the Great Seal to mind ? He 



48 BEALBY 

had simply grunted. . . . And then why did he , 
keep on looking so dangerously at Captain ' 
Douglas ? . . . 

Perhaps to-morrow things would take a turn 
for the better. . . . 

One can at least be hopeful. Even if one is' ' 
not clever one can be that. . . . 

From such thoughts as these it was that 
this unhappy hostess was roused by a sound 
of smashing glass, a rumpus, and a pistol 
shot. 

She stood up, she laid her hand on her heart, 
she said " Oh!" and gripped her dressing-table 
for support. . . . 

After a long time and when it seemed that it 
was now nothing more than a hubbub of voices, 
in which her husband's could be distinguished 
clearly, she crept out very softly upon the upper 
landing. 

She perceived her cousin, Captain Douglas, 
looking extremely fair and frail and untrust- 
worthy in a much too gorgeous kimono dressing- 
gown of embroidered Japanese silk. " I can 
assure you, my lord," he was saying in a strange 
high-pitched deliberate voice, " on my word of 
honour as a soldier, on my word of honour 
as a soldier, that I know absolutely nothing 
about it." 

" Sure it wasn't all imagination, my lord ? " 
Sir Peter asked with his inevitable infelicity. 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 49 

She decided to lean over the balustrading and 
ask very quietly and clearly : 

" Lord Moggeridge, please ! is anything the 
matter ? " 

7 

All human beings are egotists, but there is no 
egotism to compare with the egotism of the 
very young. 

Bealby was so much the centre of his world 
that he was incapable of any interpretation of 
this shouting and uproar, this smashing of de- 
canters and firing of pistol shots, except in 
reference to himself. He supposed it to be a 
Hue and Cry. He supposed that he was being 
hunted hunted by a pack of great butlers 
hounded on by the irreparably injured Thomas. 
The thought of upstairs gentlefolks passed 
quite out of his mind. He snatched up a faked 
Syrian dagger that lay, in the capacity of a 
paper knife, on the study table, concealed him- 
self under the chintz valance of a sofa, adjusted 
its rumpled skirts neatly, and awaited the 
issue of events. 

For a time events did not issue. They re- 
mained talking noisily upon the great staircase. 
Bealby could not hear what was said, but most 
of what was said appeared to be flat contra- 
diction. 

" Perchance," whispered Bealby to himself, 
4 



50 BEALBY 

gathering courage, " perchance we have eluded 
them. ... A breathing space. . . ." 

At last a woman's voice mingled with the 
others and seemed a little to assuage them. . . . 

Then it seemed to Bealby that they were 
dispersing to beat the house for him. " Good- 
night again then," said someone. 

That puzzled him, but he decided it was a 
" blind." He remained very, very still. 

He heard a clicking in the apartment the 
blue parlour it was called between the study 
and the dining-room. Electric light ? 

Then someone came into the study. Bealby's 
eye was as close to the ground as he could get it. 
He was breathless, he moved his head with an 
immense circumspection. The valance was 
translucent but not transparent, below it there 
was a crack of vision, a strip of carpet, the 
castors of chairs. Among these things he per- 
ceived feet not ankles, it did not go up to that, 
but just feet. Large flattish feet. A pair. 
They stood still, and Bealby's hand lighted on 
the hilt of his dagger. 

The person above the feet seemed to be 
surveying the room or reflecting. 

" Drunk ! . . . Old fool's either drunk or 
mad ! That's about the truth of it," said a 
voice. 

Mergleson ! Angry, but parroty and unmis- 
takable. 






A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 51 

The feet went across to the table and there 
were faint sounds of refreshment, discreetly 
administered. Then a moment of profound 
stillness. . . . 

" Ah ! " said the voice at last, a voice re- 
newed. 

Then the feet went to the passage door, 
halted in the doorway. There was a double 
click. The lights went out. Bealby was in 
ibsolute darkness. 

Then a distant door closed and silence fol- 
lowed upon the dark. . . . 

Mr. Mergleson descended to a pantry ablaze 
with curiosity. 

' The Lord Chancellor's going dotty," said 
Mr. Mergleson replying to the inevitable ques- 
tion. " That's what's up ? "... 

(< I tried to save the blessed syphon," said 
Mr, Mergleson pursuing his narrative, " and 'e 
sprang on me like a leppard. I suppose 'e 
thought I wanted to take it away from 'im. 
'E'd broke a glass already. 'Ow, I don't 
know. There it was, lying on the landing. . . ." 

' 'Ere's where 'e bit my 'and," said Mr. 
Mergleson. . . . 

A curious little side - issue occurred to 
Thomas. "Where's young Kicker all this 
time ? " he asked. 

" Lord ! " said Mr. Mergleson, " all them 
other things, they clean drove 'im out of 



52 BEALBY 

my 'ed. I suppose 'e's up there, hiding some- 
where. ..." 

He paused. His eye consulted the eye of 
Thomas. 

" 'E's got be'ind a curtain or something," 
said Mr. Mergleson. . . . 

"Queer where 'e can 'ave got to," said Mr. 
Mergleson. . . . 

" Can't be bothered about 'im," said Mr. 
Mergleson. 

" I expect he'll sneak down to 'is room when 
things are quiet," said Thomas, after reflection. 

" No good going and looking for 'im now," 
said Mr. Mergleson. " Things upstairs, they 
got to settle down. ..." 

But in the small hours Mr. Mergleson awakened 
and thought of Bealby and wondered whether 
he was in bed. This became so great an un- 
easiness that about the hour of dawn he got up 
and went along the passage to Bealby's com- 
partment. Bealby was not there and his bed 
had not been slept in. 

That sinister sense of gathering misfortunes 
which comes to all of us at times in the small 
hours, was so strong in the mind of Mr. Mergleson 
that he went on and told Thomas of this dis- 
concerting fact. Thomas woke with difficulty 
and rather crossly, but sat up at last, alive to 
the gravity of Mr. Mergleson's mood. 

" If 'e's found hiding about upstairs after 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 53 

all this upset," said Mr. Mergleson, and left 
the rest of the sentence to a sympathetic 
imagination. 

" Now it's light," said Mr. Mergleson after a 
slight pause, " I think we better just go round 
and 'ave a look for 'im. Both of us." 

So Thomas clad himself provisionally, and the 
two menservants went upstairs very softly and 
began a series of furtive sweeping movements 
very much in the spirit of Lord Kitchener's 
historical sweeping movements in the Transvaal 
through the stately old rooms in which Bealby 
must be lurking. . . . 

8 

Man is the most restless of animals. There is 
an incessant urgency in his nature. He never 
knows when he is well off. And so it was that 
Bealby's comparative security under the sofa 
became presently too irksome to be endured. 
He seemed to himself to stay there for ages, 
but as a matter of fact, he stayed there only 
twenty minutes. Then with eyes tempered to 
the darkness he first struck out an alert atten- 
tive head, then crept out and remained for the 
space of half a minute on all fours surveying 
the indistinct blacknesses about him. 

Then he knelt up. Then he stood up. Then 
with arms extended and cautious steps he began 
an exploration of the apartment. 



54 BEALBY 

The passion for exploration grows with what 
it feeds upon. Presently Bealby was feeling 
his way into the blue parlour and then round 
by its shuttered and curtained windows to the 
dining-room. His head was now full of the idea 
of some shelter, more permanent, less pervious 
to housemaids than that sofa. He knew 
enough now of domestic routines to know that 
upstairs in the early morning was much routed 
about by housemaids. He found many perplex- 
ing turns and corners, and finally got into the 
dining-room fireplace where it was very dark 
and kicked against some fireirons. That made 
his heart beat fast for a time. Then groping 
on past it, he found in the darkness what few 
people could have found in the day, the stud 
that released the panel that hid the opening of 
the way that led to the priest hole. He felt the 
thing open, and halted perplexed. In that 
corner there wasn't a ray of light. For a long 
time he was trying to think what this opening 
could be, and then he concluded it was some sort 
of back way from downstairs. . . . Well, any- 
how it was all exploring. With an extreme 
gingerliness he got himself through the panel. 
He closed it almost completely behind him. 

Careful investigation brought him to the view 
that he was in a narrow passage of brick or 
stone that came in a score of paces to a spiral 
staircase going both up and down. Up this 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 55 

he went, and presently breathed cool night air 
and had a glimpse of stars through a narrow 
slit-like window almost blocked by ivy. Then 
-what was very disagreeable something 
scampered. 

When Bealby's heart recovered he went on 
up again. 

He came to the priest hole, a capacious cell 
six feet square with a bench bed and a little 
table and chair. It had a small door upon 
the stairs that was open and a niche cupboard. 
Here he remained for a time. Then restlessness 
made him explore a cramped passage, he had 
to crawl along it for some yards, that came 
presently into a curious space with wood on one 
side and stone on the other. Then ahead, most 
blessed thing ! he saw light. 

He went blundering towards it and then 
stopped appalled. From the other side of this 
wooden wall to the right of him had come a 
voice. 

" Come in ! " said the voice. A rich masculine 
voice that seemed scarcely two yards away. 

Bealby became rigid. Then after a long 
interval he moved as softly as he could. 

The voice soliloquized. 

Bealby listened intently, and then when all 
was still again crept forward two paces more 
towards the gleam. It was a peephole. 

The unseen speaker was walking about. Bealby 



56 BEALBY 

listened, and the sound of his beating heart 
mingled with the pad, pad, of slippered footsteps. 
Then with a brilliant effort his eye was at the 
chink. All was still again. For a time he was 
perplexed by what he saw, a large pink shining 
dome, against a deep greenish grey background. 
At the base of the dome was a kind of inter- 
rupted hedge, brown and leafless. . . . 

Then he realized that he was looking at the 
top of a head and two enormous eyebrows. The 
rest was hidden. . . . 

Nature surprised Bealby into a penetrating 
sniff. 

" Now," said the occupant of the room, and 
suddenly he was standing up Bealby saw a long 
hairy neck sticking out of a dressing-gown 
and walking to the side of the room. " I won't 
stand it," said the great voice, " I won't stand 
it. Ape's foolery ! " 

Then the Lord Chancellor began rapping at 
the panelling about his apartment. 

" Hollow ! It all sounds hollow." 

Only after a long interval did he resume his 
writing. . . . 

All night long that rat behind the wainscot 
troubled the Lord Chancellor. Whenever he 
spoke, whenever he moved about it was still ; 
whenever he composed himself to write it began 
to rustle and blunder. Again and again it 
sniffed, an annoying kind of sniff. At last the 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 57 

Lord Chancellor gave up his philosophical 
relaxation and went to bed, turned out the lights 
and attempted sleep, but this only intensified 
his sense of an uneasy, sniffing presence close to 
him. When the light was out it seemed to him 
that this Thing, whatever it was, instantly 
came into the room and set the floor creaking 
and snapping. A Thing perpetually attempting 
something and perpetually thwarted. . . . 

The Lord Chancellor did not sleep a wink. 
The first feeble infiltration of day found him 
sitting up in bed, wearily wrathful. . . . And 
now surely someone was going along the passage 
outside ! 

A great desire to hurt somebody very much 
seized upon the Lord Chancellor. Perhaps he 
might hurt that dismal farceur upon the landing ! 
No doubt it was Douglas sneaking back to his 
own room after the night's efforts. 

The Lord Chancellor slipped on his dressing- 
gown of purple silk. Very softly indeed did he 
open his bedroom door and very warily peep 
out. He heard the soft pad of feet upon the 
staircase. 

He crept across the broad passage to the 
beautiful old balustrading. Down below he 
saw Mergleson Mergleson again! in a shame- 
ful deshabille going like a snake, like a slinking 
cat, like an assassin, into the door of the study. 
Rage filled the great man's soul. Gathering 



58 BEALBY 

up the skirts of his dressing-gown he started in a 
swift yet noiseless pursuit. 

He followed Mergleson through the little 
parlour and into the dining-room, and then he 
saw it all ! There was a panel open, and Mergle- 
son very cautiously going in. Of course ! They 
had got at him through the priest hole. They 
had been playing on his nerves. All night they 
had been doing it no doubt in relays. The 
whole house was in this conspiracy. 

With his eyebrows spread like the wings of 
a fighting-cock the Lord Chancellor in five vast 
noiseless strides had crossed the intervening 
space and gripped the butler by his collarless 
shirt as he was disappearing. It was like a 
hawk striking a sparrow. Mergleson felt himself 
clutched, glanced over his shoulder and, seeing 
that fierce familiar face again close to his own, 
pitiless, vindictive, lost all sense of human dignity 
and yelled like a lost soul. . . . 

9 j 

Sir Peter Laxton was awakened from an 
uneasy sleep by the opening of the dressing- 
room door that connected his room with his 
wife's. 

He sat up astonished and stared at her white 
face, its pallor exaggerated by the cold light of 
dawn. 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 59 

" Peter," she said, "I'm sure there's some- 
thing more going on." 

" Something more going on ? " 

" Something shouting and swearing." 

" You don't mean ? " 

She nodded. "The Lord Chancellor," she 
said, in an awe-stricken whisper. " He's at it 
again. Downstairs" in the dining-room." 

Sir Peter seemed disposed at first to receive 
this quite passively. Then he flashed into ex- 
travagant wrath. "I'm damned," he cried, 
jumping violently out of bed, "if I'm going to 
stand this ! Not if he was a hundred Lord 
Chancellors ! He's turning the place into a bally 
lunatic asylum. Once one might excuse. But 
to start in again. . . . What's that?" 

They both stood still listening. Faintly yet 
quite distinctly came the agonized cry of some 
imperfectly educated person "'Elp ! " 

" Here ! Where' s my trousers ? " cried Sir 
Peter. " He's murdering Mergleson. There 
isn't a moment to lose." 

10 

Until Sir Peter returned Lady Laxton sat 
quite still just as he had left her on his bed, 
aghast. 

She could not even pray. 

The sun had still to rise; the room was full 



6o BEALBY 

of that cold weak inky light, light without 
warmth, knowledge without faith, existence 
without courage, that creeps in before the day. 
She waited. ... In such a mood women have 
waited for massacre. . . . 

Downstairs a raucous shouting. . . . 

She thought of her happy childhood upon 
the Yorkshire wolds, before the idea of week- 
end parties had entered her mind. The 
heather. The little birds. Kind things. A 
tear ran down her cheek. 



Then Sir Peter stood before her again, alive 
still, but breathless and greatly ruffled. 

She put her hands to her heart. She would be 
brave. 

" Yes," she said. " Tell me." 

" He's as mad as a hatter," said Sir Peter. 

She nodded for more. She knew that. 

" Has he killed anyone ? " she whispered. 

" He looked uncommonly like trying," said 
Sir Peter. 

She nodded, her lips tightly compressed. 

" Says Douglas will either have to leave the 
house or he does." 

"But Douglas ! " 

" I know, but he won't hear a word." 

" But why Douglas ? " 



A WEEK-END AT SHONTS 61 

" I tell you he's as mad as a hatter. Got 
persecution mania. People tapping and bells 
ringing under his pillow all night that sort 
of idea. . . . And furious. I tell you, he 
frightened me. He was awful. He's given 
Mergleson a black eye. Hit him, you know. 
With his fist. Caught him in the passage to 
the priest hole how they got there / don't 
know and went for him like a madman." 

" But what has Douglas done ? " 

" I don't know. I asked him, but he won't 
listen. He's just off his head. . . . Says Douglas 
has got the whole household trying to work a 
ghost on him. I tell you he's off his nut." 

Husband and wife looked at each other. . . . 

" Of course if Douglas didn't mind just going 
off to oblige me," said Sir Peter at last. . . . 

" It might calm him," he explained. . . . 
' You see, it's all so infernally awkward. . . ." 

' Is he back in his room ? " 

' Yes. Waiting for me to decide about 
Douglas. Walking up and down." 

For a little while their minds remained 
prostrate and inactive. 

"I'd been so looking forward to the 
lunch," she said with a joyless smile. 'The 
county " 

She could not go on. 

' You know," said Sir Peter, " one thing, 
I'll see to it myself I won't have him have a 



62 BEALBY 

single drop of liquor more. If we have to 
search his room." 

" What I shall say to him at breakfast," 
she said, " I don't know." 

Sir Peter reflected. " There's no earthly 
reason why you should be brought into it at all. 
Your line is to know nothing about it. Show 
him you know nothing about it. Ask him 
ask him if he's had a good night. . . " 



' 



CHAPTER THE THIRD 
THE WANDERERS 

1 

NEVER had the gracious eastward face 
of Shonts looked more beautiful than it 
did on the morning of the Lord Chancellor's 
visit. It glowed as translucent as amber lit by 
flames, its two towers were pillars of pale gold. 
It looked over its slopes and parapets upon a 
great valley of mist-barred freshness through 
which the distant river shone like a snake of 
light. The south-west facade was still in the 
shadow, and the ivy hung from it darkly 
greener than the greenest green. The stained- 
glass windows of the old chapel reflected the 
sunrise as though lamps were burning inside. 
Along the terrace a pensive peacock trailed his 
sheathed splendours through the dew. 

Amidst the ivy was a fuss of birds. 

And presently there was pushed out from 
amidst the ivy at the foot of the eastward tower 
a little brownish buff thing, that seemed as 

natural there as a squirrel or a rabbit. It was 

63 



64 BEALBY 

a head, a ruffled human head. It remained 
still for a moment contemplating the calm 
spaciousness of terrace and garden and country- 
side. Then it emerged farther and rotated and 
surveyed the house above it. Its expression 
was one of alert caution. Its natural freshness 
and innocence were a little marred by an 
enormous transverse smudge, a bar-sinister of 
smut, and the elfin delicacy of the left ear was 
festooned with a cobweb probably a genuine 
antique. It was the face of Bealby. 

He was considering the advisability of leaving 
Shonts for good. 

Presently his decision was made. His hands 
and shoulders appeared following his head, and 
then a dusty but undamaged Bealby was run- 
ning swiftly towards the corner of the shrubbery. 
He crouched lest at any moment that pursuing 
pack of butlers should see him and give tongue. 
In another moment he was hidden from the 
house altogether, and rustling his way through 
a thicket of budding rhododendra. After those 
dirty passages the morning air was wonderfully 
sweet but just a trifle hungry. 

Grazing deer saw Bealby fly across the park, 
stared at him for a time with great gentle 
unintelligent eyes, and went on feeding. 

They saw him stop ever and again. He was 
snatching at mushrooms, that he devoured 
forthwith as he sped on. 



THE WANDERERS 65 

On the edge of the beech-woods he paused and 
glanced back at Shonts. 

Then his eyes rested for a moment on the 
clump of trees through which one saw a scrap of 
the head gardener's cottage, a bit of the garden 
wall. . . . 

A physiognomist might have detected a 
certain lack of self-confidence in Bealby 's eyes. 

But his spirit was not to be quelled. Slowly, 
joylessly perhaps, but with a grave determina- 
tion, he raised his hand in that prehistoric gesture 
of the hand and face by which youth, since ever 
there was youth, has asserted the integrity of its 
soul against established and predominant things. 

" Ketch me ! " said Bealby. 

2 

Bealby left Shonts about half-past four in the 
morning. He went westward because he liked 
the company of his shadow and was amused at 
first by its vast length. By half -past eight he 
had covered ten miles, and he was rather bored 
by his shadow. He had eaten nine raw mush- 
rooms, two green apples and a quantity of 
unripe blackberries. None of these things 
seemed quite at home in him. And he had dis- 
covered himself to be wearing slippers. They 
were stout carpet slippers, but still they were 
slippers, and the road was telling on them. At 
5 



66 BEALBY 

the ninth mile the left one began to give on the 
outer seam. He got over a stile into a path that 
ran through the corner of a wood, and there he 
met a smell of frying bacon that turned his very 
soul to gastric juice. 

He stopped short and sniffed the air and 
the air itself was sizzling. 

" Oh Krikey," said Bealby, manifestly to the 
Spirit of the World. " This is a bit too strong. 
I wasn't thinking much before." 

Then he saw something bright yellow and 
bulky just over the hedge. 

From this it was that the sound of frying 
came. 

He went to the hedge, making no effort to 
conceal himself. Outside a great yellow caravan 
with dainty little windows stood a largish 
dark woman in a deerstalker hat, a short brown 
skirt, a large white apron and spatterdashes 
(among other things) frying bacon and potatoes 
in a frying-pan. She was very red in the face, 
and the frying-pan was spitting at her as frying- 
pans do at a timid cook. . . . 

Quite mechanically Bealby scrambled through 
the hedge and drew nearer this divine smell. 
The woman scrutinized him for a moment, and 
then blinking and averting her face went on 
with her cookery. 

Bealby came quite close to her and remained, 
noting the bits of potato that swam about in 



THE WANDERERS 67 

the pan, the jolly curling of the rashers, the 
dancing of the bubbles, the hymning splash and 
splutter of the happy fat. . . . 

(If it should ever fall to my lot to be cooked, 
may I be fried in potatoes and butter. May I 
be fried with potatoes and good butter made 
from the milk of the cow. God send I 
am spared boiling ; the prison of the pot, 
the rattling lid, the evil darkness, the greasy 
water. . . .) 

: ' I suppose," said the lady prodding with her 
fork at the bacon, " I suppose you call yourself 
a Boy." 

" Yes, Miss," said Bealby. 

" Have you ever fried ? " 

" I could, Miss." 

" Like this ? " 

" Better." 

' Just lay hold of this handle for it's scorch- 
ing the skin off my face I am." She seemed to 
think for a moment and added, " entirely." 

In silence Bealby grasped that exquisite 
smell by the handle, he took the fork from her 
hand and put his hungry eager nose over the 
seething mess. It wasn't only bacon ; there 
were onions, onions giving it an edge \ It cut 
to the quick of appetite. He could have wept 
with the intensity of his sensations. 

A voice almost as delicious as the smell came 
out of the caravan window behind Bealby' s head. 



68 BEALBY 

" Ju-dy I " cried the voice. 

" Here ! I mean, it's here I am," said the 
lady in the deerstalker. 

" Judy you didn't take my stockings for 
your own by any chance ? " 

The lady in the deerstalker gave way to 
delighted horror. " Sssh, Mavourneen ! >J she 
cried she was one of that large class of amiable 
women who are more Irish than they need be 
" there's a Boy here ! " 

X - 3 

There was indeed an almost obsequiously 
industrious and obliging Boy. An hour later 
he was no longer a Boy but the Boy, and three 
friendly women were regarding him with a 
merited approval. 

He tad done the frying, renewed a waning 
fire with remarkable skill and dispatch, reboiled 
a neglected*kettle in the shortest possible time, 
laid almost without direction a simple meal, 
very exactly set out campstools and cleaned the 
frying-pan marvellously. Hardly had they taken 
their portions of that appetizing savouriness, 
than he had whipped off with that implement, 
gone behind the caravan, busied himself there, 
and returned with the pan glittering bright. 
Himself if possible brighter. One cheek indeed 
shone with an^animated glow. 



THE WANDERERS 69 

" But wasn't there some of the bacon and 
stuff left ? " asked the lady in the deerstalker. 

" I didn't think it was wanted, Miss," said 
Bealby. " So I cleared it up." 

He met understanding in her eye. He 
questioned her expression. 

" Mayn't I wash up for you, Miss ? " he asked 
to relieve the tension. 

He washed up, swiftly and cleanly. He had 
never been able to wash up to Mr. Mergleson's 
satisfaction before, but now he did everything 
Mr. Mergleson had ever told him. He asked 
where to put the things away and he put them 
away. Then he asked politely if there was any- 
thing else he could do for them. Questioned, 
he said he liked doing things. " You haven't," 
said the lady in the deerstalker, " a taste for 
cleaning boots ? " 

Bealby declared he had. 

" Surely," said a voice that Bealby adored, 
' 'tis an angel from heaven." 

He had a taste for cleaning boots ! This was 
an extraordinary thing for Bealby to say. But 
a great change had come to him in the last half- 
hour. He was violently anxious to do things, 
any sort of things, servile things, for a par- 
ticular person. He was in love. 

The owner of the beautiful voice had come out 
of the caravan, she had stood for a moment in 
the doorway before descending the steps to the 



70 BEALBY 

ground and the soul of Bealby had bowed 
down before her in instant submission. Never 
had he seen anything so lovely. Her straight 
slender body was sheathed in blue ; fair hair 
a little tinged with red poured gloriously back 
from her broad forehead, and she had the 
sweetest eyes in the world. One hand lifted 
her dress from her feet ; the other rested on 
the lintel of the caravan door. She looked at 
him and smiled. 

So for two years she had looked and smiled 
across the footlights to the Bealby in mankind. 
She had smiled now on her entrance out of 
habit. She took the effect upon Bealby as a 
foregone conclusion. 

Then she had looked to make sure that 
everything was ready before she descended. 

" How good it smells, Judy ! " she had said. 

" I've had a helper," said the woman who 
wore spats. 

That time the blue-eyed lady had smiled at 
him quite definitely. . . . 

The third member of the party had appeared 
unobserved; the irradiations of the beautiful 
lady .had obscured her. Bealby discovered 
her about. She was bareheaded ; she wore a 
simple grey dress with a Norfolk jacket, and 
she had a pretty, clear white profile under black 
hair. She answered to the name of "Winnie." 
The beautiful lady was Madeleine. They made 






THE WANDERERS 71 

little obscure jokes with each other and praised 
the morning ardently. " This is the best place 
of all," said Madeleine. 

" All night," said Winnie, " not a single 
mosquito." 

None of these three ladies made any attempt 
to conceal the sincerity of their hunger or their 
appreciation of Bealby 's assistance. How good 
a thing is appreciation ! Here he was doing 
with joy and pride and an eager excellence, 
the very services he had done so badly under 
the cuffings of Mergleson and Thomas. . . . 

4 

And now Bealby, having been regarded with 
approval for some moments and discussed in 
tantalizing undertones, was called upon to ex- 
plain himself. 

" Boy," said the lady in the deerstalker, who 
was evidently the leader and still more evidently 
the spokeswoman of the party, " come here." 

' Yes, Miss." He put down the boot he was 
cleaning on the caravan step. 

" In the first place, know by these presents, 
I am a married woman." 

" Yes, Miss." 

" And Miss is not a seemly mode of address 
for me." 

" No, Miss. I mean " Bealby hung 



72 BEALBY 

for a moment and by the happiest of accidents, 
a scrap of his instruction at Shonts came up in 
his mind. " No," he said, " your ladyship." 

A great light shone on the spokeswoman's 
face. " Not yet, my child," she said, " not 
yet. He hasn't done his duty by me. I am 
a simple Mum." 

Bealby was intelligently silent. 

"Say Yes, Mum." 

" Yes, Mum," said Bealby, and everybody 
laughed very agreeably. 

" And now," said the lady, taking pleasure 

in her words, "know by these presents 

By the bye, what is your name ? " 

Bealby scarcely hesitated. " Dick Mal- 
travers, Mum," he said and almost added, 
" The Dauntless Daredevil of the Diamond- 
fields Horse," which was the second title. 

" Dick will do," said the lady who was called 
Judy, and added suddenly and very amusingly : 
' You may keep the rest." 

(These were the sort of people Bealby liked. 
The right sort.) 

' Well, Dick, we want to know, have you 
ever been in service ? " 

It was sudden. But Bealby was equal to 
it. " Only for a day or two, Miss I mean, 
Mum, just to be useful." 

' Were you useful ? " 

Bealby tried to think whether he had been, 



THE WANDERERS 73 

and could recall nothing but the face of Thomas 
with the fork hanging from it. "I did my 
best, Mum," he said impartially. 

" And all that is over ? " 

" Yes, Mum." 

" And you're at home again and out of 
employment ? " 

'Yes, Mum." 

" Do you live near here ? " 

" No leastways, not very far." 

" With your father ?" 

"Stepfather, Mum. I'm a Norfan." 

' Well, how would you like to come with us 
for a few days and help with things ? Seven- 
and -sixpence a week." 

Bealby's face was eloquent. 

' Would your stepfather object ? " 

Bealby considered. " I don't think he 
would," he said. 

' You'd better go round and ask him." 

" I suppose yes," he said. 

" And get a few things." 

" Things, Mum ? " 

" CoUars and things. You needn't bring a 
great box for such a little while." 

" Yes, Mum. . . ." 

He hovered rather undecidedly. 

" Better run along now. Our man and 
horse will be coming presently. We shan't be 
able to wait for you long. . . ." 



74 BEALBY 

Bealby assumed a sudden briskness and 
departed. 

At the gate of the field he hesitated almost 
imperceptibly and then directed his face to the 
Sabbath stillness of the village. 

Perplexity corrugated his features. The step- 
father's permission presented no difficulties, 
but it was more difficult about the luggage. 

A voice called after him. 

" Yes, Mum ? " he said attentive and hope- 
ful. Perhaps somehow they wouldn't want 
luggage. 

" You'll want boots. You'll have to walk 
by the caravan, you know. You'll want some 
good stout boots." 

" All right, Mum," he said with a sorrowful 
break in his voice. He waited a few moments 
but nothing more came. He went on very 
slowly. He had forgotten about the boots. 

That defeated him. . . . 

It is hard to be refused admission to Paradise 
for the want of a hand-bag and a pair of walking 
boots. . . . 

5 

Bealby was by no means certain that he was 
going back to that caravan. He wanted to do 
so quite painfully, but 

He'd just look a fool going back without 
boots and nothing on earth would reconcile 



THE WANDERERS 75 

him to the idea of looking a fool in the eyes of 
that beautiful woman in blue. 

" Dick," he whispered to himself despondently, 
" Daredevil Dick ! " (A more miserable- 
looking face you never set eyes on.) " It's 
all up with your little schemes, Dick my boy. 
You must get a bag and nothing on earth 
will get you a bag." 

He paid little heed to the village through 
which he wandered. He knew there were no 
bags there. Chance rather than any volition 
of his own guided him down a side path that 
led to the nearly dry bed of a little rivulet, 
and there he sat down on some weedy grass 
under a group of willows. It was an untidy 
place that needed all the sunshine of the 
morning to be tolerable ; one of those places 
where stinging nettles take heart and people 
throw old kettles, broken gallipots, jaded gravel, 
grass cuttings, rusty rubbish, old boots 

For a time Bealby's eyes rested on the 
objects with an entire lack of interest. 

Then he was reminded of his not so very 
remote childhood when he had found an old 
boot and made it into a castle. . . . 

Presently he got up and walked across to 
the rubbish heap and surveyed its treasures 
with a quickened intelligence. He picked 
up a widowed boot and weighed it in his 
hand. 



76 BEALBY 

He dropped it abruptly, turned about and 
hurried back into the village street. 

He had ideas, two ideas, one for the luggage 
and one for the boots. ... If only he could 
manage it. Hope beat his great pinions in 
the heart of Bealby. 

Sunday ! The shops were shut. Yes, that 
was a fresh obstacle. He'd forgotten that. 

The public-house stood bashfully open, the 
shy uninviting openness of Sunday morning 
before closing time, but public - houses alas ! 
at all hours are forbidden to little boys. And 
besides he wasn't likely to get what he wanted 
in a public-house ; he wanted a shop, a general 
shop. And here before him was the general 
shop and its door ajar ! His desire carried 
him over the threshold. The Sabbatical 
shutters made the place dark and cool, and the 
smell of bacon and cheese and chandleries, the 
very spirit of grocery, calm and unhurried, 
was cool and Sabbatical too, as if it sat there 
for the day in its best clothes. And a pleasant 
woman was talking over the counter to a thin 
and worried one who carried a bundle. 

Their intercourse had a flavour of emergency 
and they both stopped abruptly at the appear- 
ance of Bealby. 

His desire, his craving was now so great that 
it had altogether subdued the natural wiriness 
of his appearance. He looked meek, he looked 



THE WANDERERS 77 

good, he was swimming in propitiation and 
tender with respect. He produced an effect 
of being much smaller. He had got nice eyes. 
His movements were refined and his manners 
perfect. 

" Not doing business to-day, my boy," said 
the pleasant woman. 

" Oh, please 'm," he said from his heart. 

" Sunday, you know." 

" Oh, please 'm. If you could just give me a 
nold sheet of paper J m, please." 

" What for ? " asked the pleasant woman. 

' Just to wrap something up 'm." 

She reflected and natural goodness had its 
way with her. 

" A nice big bit ? " said the woman. 

" Please 'm." 

" Would you like it brown ? " 

"Oh, please 'm." 

" And you got some string ? " 

" Only cottony stuff," said Bealby, disem- 
bowelling a trouser pocket. " Wiv knots. But 
I dessay I can manage." 

' You'd better have a bit of good string with 
it, my dear," said the pleasant woman, whose 
generosity was now fairly on the run, " Then 
you can do your parcel up nice and tidy. . . ." 



78 BEALBY 

6 

The white horse was already in the shafts of 
the caravan and William, a deaf and clumsy 
man of uncertain age and a vast sharp noseiness, 
was lifting in the basket of breakfast gear and 
grumbling in undertones at the wickedness 
and unfairness of travelling on Sunday, when 
Bealby returned to gladden three waiting 
women. 

" Ah ! " said the inconspicuous lady, " I 
knew he'd come." 

" Look at his poor little precious parsivel," 
said the actress. 

Regarded as luggage it was rather pitiful, a 
knobby, brown paper parcel about the size- 
to be perfectly frank of a tin can, two old 
boots and some grass, very carefulty folded and 
tied up, and carried gingerly. 

" But " the lady in the deerstalker began 

and then paused. 

" Dick," she said, as he came nearer, 
" where's your boots ? " 

" Oh, please, Mum," said the dauntless one, 
" they was away being mended. My step- 
father thought perhaps you wouldn't mind if 
I didn't have boots. He said perhaps I might 
be able to get some more boots out of my 
salary. . . ." 

The lady in the deerstalker looked alarmingly 



THE WANDERERS 79 

uncertain and Bealby controlled infinite dis- 
tresses. 

" Haven't you got a mother, Dick ? " asked 
the beautiful voice suddenly. Its owner 
ibounded in such spasmodic curiosities. 

" She last year ..." Matricide is a pain- 
ful business at any time. And just as you see, 
n spite of every effort you have made, the 
j oiliest lark in the world slipping out of your 
reach. And the sweet voice so sorry for him ! 
So sorry ! Bealby suddenly veiled his face 
ivith his elbow and gave way to honourable 
tears. . . . 

A simultaneous desire to make him happy, 
tielp him to forget his loss, possessed three 
women. . . . 

" That'll be all right, Dick," said the lady in 
the deerstalker patting his shoulder. " We'll 
get you some boots to-morrow. And to-day 
you must sit up beside William and spare 
your feet. You'll have to go to the inns with 
him. . . ." 

" It's wonderful, the elasticity of youth," 
said the inconspicuous lady five minutes later. 
' To see that boy now, you'd never imagine 
he'd had a sorrow in the world." 

" Now get up there," said the lady who was 
the leader. " We shall walk across the fields 
and join you later. You understand where 
you are to wait for us, William ? " 



8o BEALBY 

She came nearer and shouted, " You under- 
stand, WilHam ? " 

William nodded ambiguously. ' 'Ent a 
Vool" he said. 

The ladies departed. " You'll be all right, 
Dick," cried the actress kindly. 

He sat up where he had been put, trying to 
look as Orphan Dick as possible after all that 
had occurred. 

7 

" Do you know the wind on the heath have 
you lived the Gypsy life ? Have you spoken, 
wanderers yourselves, with ' Romany chi and 
Romany chal ' on the wind-swept moors at 
home or abroad ? Have you tramped the 
broad highways, and, at close of day, pitched 
your tent near a running stream and cooked 
your supper by starlight over a fire of pine- 
wood ? Do you know the dreamless sleep of the 
wanderer at peace with himself and all the 
world ? " 

For most of us the answer to these questions 
of the Amateur Camping Club is in the negative. 

Yet every year the call of the road, the Bor- 
rovian glamour, draws away a certain small 
number of the imaginative from the grosser 
comforts of a complex civilization, takes them 
out into tents and caravans and intimate com- 
munion with Nature and, incidentally, with 



THE WANDERERS 81 

various ingenious appliances designed to meet 
the needs of cooking in a breeze. It is an 
adventure to which high spirits and great 
expectations must be brought, it is an ex- 
perience in proximity which few friendships 
survive and altogether very great fun. 

The life of breezy freedom resolves itself in 
practice chiefly into washing up and an 
anxious search for permission to camp. One 
learns how rich and fruitful our world can be 
in bystanders, and how easy it is to forget 
essential groceries. . . . 

The heart of the joy of it lies in its perfect 
detachment. There you are in the morning 
sunlight under the trees that overhang the 
road going whither you will. Everything you 
need you have. Your van creaks along at 
your side. You are outside inns, outside houses, 
a home, a community, an imperium in imperio. 
At any moment you may draw out of the 
traffic upon the wayside grass and say, " Here 
until the owner catches us at it is home ! " 
At any time subject to the complaisance of 
William and your being able to find him 
you may inspan and go onward. The world 
is all before you. You taste the complete yet 
leisurely insouciance of the snail. 

And two of those three ladies had other 
satisfactions to supplement their pleasures. 
They both adored Madeleine Philips. She was 
6 



82 BEALBY 

not only perfectly sweet and lovely but she 
was known to be so ; she had that most potent 
charm for women, prestige. They had got 
her all to themselves. They could show now 
how false is the old idea that there is no friend- 
ship nor conversation among women. They 
were full of wit and pretty things for one 
another and snatches of song in between. And 
they were free too from their " menfolk." 
They were doing without them. Dr. Bowles, 
the husband of the lady in the deerstalker, 
was away in Ireland, and Mr. Geedge, the lord 
of the inconspicuous woman, was golfing at 
Sandwich. And Madeleine Philips, it was 
understood, was only too glad to shake herself 
free from the crowd of admirers that hovered 
about her like wasps about honey. . . . 

Yet after three days each one had thoughts 
about the need of helpfulness and more par- 
ticularly about washing-up, that were better 
left unspoken, that were indeed conspicuously 
unspoken beneath their merry give and take, 
like a black and silent river flowing beneath a 
bridge of ivory. And each of them had a 
curious feeling in the midst of all this fresh free 
behaviour, as though the others were not 
listening sufficiently, as though something of 
the effect of them was being wasted. Made- 
leine's smiles became rarer ; at times she was 
almost impassive, and Judy preserved nearly 



THE WANDERERS 83 

all her wit and verbal fireworks for the times 
when they passed through villages. . . . Mrs. 
Geedge was less visibly affected. She had 
thoughts of writing a book about it all, telling 
in the gayest, most provocative way, full of 
the quietest quaintest humour, just how jolly 
they had been. Menfolk would read it. This 
kept a little thin smile upon her lips. . . . 

As an audience William was tough stuff. 
He pretended deafness ; he never looked. He 
did not want to look. He seemed always to 
be holding his nose in front of his face to pre- 
vent his observation as men pray into their 
hats at church. But once Judy Bowles over- 
heard a phrase or so in his private soliloquy. 

' Pack o' wimmin/' William was saying. 

' Dratted petticoats. Dang 'em. That's what 
I say to 'um. Dang 'em ! " 

As a matter of fact, he just fell short of saying 
it to them. But his manner said it. ... 

You begin to see how acceptable an addition 
was young Bealby to this company. He was 
not only helpful, immensely helpful, in things 
material, a vigorous and at first a careful 
washer-up, an energetic boot-polisher, a most 
serviceable cleaner and tidier of things, but 
he was also belief and support. Undisguisedly 
he thought the caravan the loveliest thing 
going, and its three mistresses the most wonder- 
ful of people. His alert eyes followed them 



84 BEALBY 

about full of an unstinted admiration and 
interest, he pricked his ears when Judy opened 
her mouth, he handed things to Mrs. Geedge. 
He made no secret about Madeleine. When 
she spoke to him, he lost his breath, he reddened 
and was embarrassed. . . . 

They went across the fields saying that he 
was the luckiest of finds. It was fortunate 
his people had been so ready to spare him. 
Judy said boys were a race very cruelly 
maligned ; see how willing he was ! Mrs. 
Geedge said there was something elfin about 
Bealby's little face ; Madeleine smiled at the 
thought of his quaint artlessness. She knew 
quite clearly that he'd die for her. . . . 

88 

There was a little pause as the ladies moved 
away. 

Then William spat and spoke in a note of 
irrational bitterness. 

" Brasted Voolery," said William and then 
loudly and fiercely, " Cam up y' ode Runt you." 

At these words the white horse started into 
a convulsive irregular redistribution of its feet, 
the caravan strained and quivered into motion 
and Bealby's wanderings as a caravanner 
began. 

For a time William spoke no more and 



THE WANDERERS 85 

Bealby scarcely regarded him. The light of 
strange fortunes and deep enthusiasm was in 
Bealby 's eyes. . . . 

"One Thing," said William, "they don't 
'ave the Sense to lock anythink up What- 
ever." 

Bealby's attention was recalled to the exist- 
ence of his companion. 

William's face was one of those faces that give 
one at first the impression of a solitary and 
very conceited nose. The other features are 
entirely subordinated to that salient effect. 
One sees them later. His eyes were small and 
uneven, his mouth apparently toothless, thin- 
lipped and crumpled, with the upper lip falling 
over the other in a manner suggestive of a 
meagre firmness mixed with appetite. When 
he spoke he made a faint slobbering sound. 
;< Everyfink," he said, " behind there." 

He became confidential. " I been in there. 
I larked about wiv their Fings." 

' They got some choc'late," he said, lusci- 
ously. " Oo Fine ! " 

" All sorts of Fings." 

He did not seem to expect any reply from 
Bealby. 

' We going far before we meet 'em ? " asked 
Bealby. 

William's deafness became apparent. 

His mind was preoccupied by other ideas. 



86 BEALBY 

One wicked eye came close to Bealby's face. 
" We going to 'ave a bit of choc' late," he said 
in a wet desirous voice. 

He pointed his thumb over his shoulder at 
the door. " You get it," said William with 
reassuring nods and the mouth much pursed 
and very oblique. 

Bealby shook his head. 

" It's in a little dror, under 'er place where 
she sleeps." 

Bealby's head-shake became more emphatic. 

" Yus, I tell you," said William. 

" No," said Bealby. 

" Choc'late I tell you," said William and 
ran the tongue of appetite round the rim of his 
toothless mouth. 

" Don't want choc'late," said Bealby, think- 
ing of a large lump of it. 

"Go on," said William. " Nobody won't see 
you. . . ." 

" Go it ! " said William. . . . 

" You're afraid," said William. . . . 

" Here, 7'11 go," said William, losing self- 
control. " You just 'old these reins." 

Bealby took the reins. William got up and 
opened the door of the caravan. Then Bealby 
realized his moral responsibility and, leaving 
the reins, clutched William firmly by his baggy 
nether garments. They were elderly gar- 
ments, much sat upon. " Don't be a Vool,' 



THE WANDERERS 87 

said William, struggling. " Leago my 
slack." 

Something partially gave way and William's 
head came round to deal with Bealby. 

' What you mean pullin' my does orf 
me?" 

" That," he investigated. " Take me a 
Nour to sew up." 

' I ain't going to steal," shouted Bealby into 
the ear of William. 

" Nobody arst you to steal " 

" Nor you neither," said Bealby. 

The caravan bumped heavily against a low 
garden wall, skidded a little and came to rest. 
William sat down suddenly. The white horse 
after a period of confusion with its legs, tried 
the flavour of some overhanging lilac branches 
and was content. 

" Gimme those reins," said William. " You 
be the Brastedest Young Vool. . . ." 

" Sittin' 'ere," said William presently, 
" chewin' our teeth, when we might be eatin' 
choc'late. . . ." 

" I 'ent got no use for you," said William, 
" blowed if I 'ave. . . ." 

Then the thought of his injuries returned 
to him. 

' I'd make you sew 'em up yourself, darned 
if I woun't on'y you'd go running the brasted 
needle into me. , Nour's work there is 



88 BEALBY 

by the feel of it. ... Mor'n nour. . . . 
Gooddbe done, too. ... All I got. . . ." 

" I'll give you Sumpfin you little Beace 'fore 
I done wi' you." 

" I wouldn't steal 'er choc'lates," said young 
Bealby, " Not if I was starving." 

" Eh ? " shouted WiUiam. 

" Steal ! " shouted Bealby. 

" I'll steal ye, 'fore I done with ye," said 
William. " Tearin' my does for me. ... Oh ! 
Cam up y'old Runt. We don't want you to 
stop and lissen. Cam up I tell you ! " 

9 

They found the ladies rather, it seemed, 
by accident than design, waiting upon a sandy 
common rich with purple heather and bordered 
by woods of fir and spruce. They had been 
waiting some time and it was clear that the 
sight of the yellow caravan relieved an accumu- 
lated anxiety. Bealby rejoiced to see them. 
His soul glowed with the pride of chocolate 
resisted and WiUiam overcome. He resolved 
to distinguish himself over the preparation of 
the midday meal. It was a pleasant little island 
of green they chose for their midday pitch, a 
little patch of emerald turf amidst the purple, 
a patch already doomed to removal, as a bare 
oblong and a pile of rolled-up turves witnessed. 



THE WANDERERS 89 

This pile and a little bank of heather and 
bramble promised shelter from the breeze, 
and down the hill a hundred yards away was 
a spring and a built-up pool. This spot lay 
perhaps fifty yards away from the high road 
and one reached it along a rutty track which 
had been made by the turf cutters. And 
overhead was the glorious sky of an English 
summer, with great clouds like sunlit, white- 
sailed ships, the Constable sky. The white 
horse was hobbled and turned out to pasture 
among the heather, and William was sent off 
to get congenial provender at the nearest 
public-house. " William ! " shouted Mrs. 
Bowles as he departed, shouting confidentially 
into his ear, " Get your clothes mended ! " 

' Eh ? " said William. 

" Mend your clothes." 

" Yah ! 'E did that/' said William viciously 
with a movement of self-protection and so 
went. 

Nobody watched him go. Almost sternly 
they set to work upon the luncheon preparation 
as William receded. " William," Mrs. Bowles 
remarked, as she bustled with the patent 
cooker, putting it up wrong way round so that 
afterwards it collapsed, " William takes 
offence. Sometimes I think he takes offence 
almost too often. . . . Did you have any 
difficulty with him, Dick ? " 



90 BEALBY 

" It wasn't anything, Miss/'saidBealby meekly. 

Bealby was wonderful with the firelighting, 
and except that he cracked a plate in warming 
it, quite admirable as a cook. He burnt his 
fingers twice and liked doing it ; he ate his 
portion with instinctive modesty on the other 
side of the caravan, and he washed up as Mr. 
Mergleson had always instructed him to do. 
Mrs. Bowles showed him how to clean knives 
and forks by sticking them into the turf. A 
little to his surprise these ladies lit and smoked 
cigarettes. They sat about and talked per- 
plexingly. Clever stuff. Then he had to get 
water from the neighbouring brook and boil the 
kettle for an early tea. Madeleine produced 
a charmingly bound little book and read in it, 
the other two professed themselves anxious for 
the view from a neighbouring hill. They pro- 
duced their sensible spiked Swiss walking-sticks 
such as one does not see in England ; they 
seemed full of energy. " You go," Madeleine 
had said, " while I and Dick stay here and 
make tea. I've walked enough to-day. . . ." 

So Bealby, happy to the pitch of ecstasy, 
first explored the wonderful interior of the 
caravan, there was a dresser, a stove, let-down 
chairs and tables and all manner of things, and 
then nursed the kettle to the singing stage on 
the patent cooker while the beautiful lady re- 
clined close at hand on a rug. 



THE WANDERERS 91 

" Dick ! " she said. 

He had forgotten he was Dick. 

" Dick ! " 

He remembered his personality with a start. 
11 Yes, Miss ! " He knelt up, with a handful of 
twigs in his hand and regarded her. 

" Well, Dick," she said. 

He remained flushed adoration. There was 
a little pause and the lady smiled at him an 
unaffected smile. 

" What are you going to be, Dick, when you 
grow up ? " 

" I don't know, Miss. I've wondered." 

" What would you like to be ? " 

"Something abroad. Something so that 
you could see things." 

" A soldier ? " 

" Or a sailor, Miss." 

" A sailor sees nothing but the sea." 

"I'd rather be a sailor than a common 
soldier, Miss." 

" You'd like to be an officer ? " 

" Yes, Miss only " 

" One of my very best friends is an officer," 
she said, a little irrelevantly it seemed to 
Bealby. 

' I'd be a Norficer like a shot," said Bealby, 
" if I 'ad 'arf a chance, Miss." 

" Officers nowadays," she said, " have to be 
very brave, able men." 



92 BEALBY 

" I know, Miss," said Bealby modestly. 

The fire required attention for a little 
while. . . . 

The lady turned over on her elbow. " What 
do you think you are likely to be, Dick ? " she 
asked. 

He didn't know. 

" WTiat sort of man is your stepfather ? " 

Bealby looked at her. " He isn't much," he 
said. 

" What is he ? " 

Bealby hadn't the slightest intention of 
being the son of a gardener. " 'E's a law- 
writer." 

" What ! in that village." 

" 'E 'as to stay there for 'is 'ealth, Miss," 
he said. " Every summer. 'Is 'ealth is very 
pre-precocious, Miss. ..." 

He fed his fire with a few judiciously ad- 
ministered twigs. 

" What was your own father, Dick ? " 

With that she opened a secret door in 
Bealby 's imagination. All stepchildren have 
those dreams. With him they were so fre- 
quent and vivid that they had long since 
become a kind of second truth. He coloured a 
little and answered with scarcely an interval for 
reflection. " 'E passed as Mal-travers," he said. 

" Wasn't that his name ? " 

" I don't rightly know, Miss. There was 



THE WANDERERS 93 

always something kep' from me. My mother 
used to say, ' Artie/ she used to say : ' there's 
things that some day you must know, things 
that concern you. Things about your farver. 
But poor as we are now and struggling. . . . 
Not yet. . . . Some day you shall know truly 
who you are.' That was 'ow she said it, Miss." 

" And she died before she told you ? " 

He had almost forgotten that he had killed 
his mother that very morning. " Yes, miss," 
he said. 

She smiled at him and something in her smile 
made him blush hotly. For a moment he 
could have believed she understood. And 
indeed she did understand and it amused her 
to find this boy doing what she herself had 
done at times, what indeed she felt it was still 
in her to do. She felt that most delicate of 
sympathies, the sympathy of one rather over- 
imaginative person for another. But her next 
question dispelled his doubt of her though it 
left him red and hot. She asked it with a con- 
vincing simplicity. 

" Have you any idea, Dick, have you any 
guess or suspicion, I mean, who it is you really 
are ? " 

" I wish I had, Miss," he said. " I suppose 
it doesn't matter, really but one can't help 
wondering. . . ." 

How often he had wondered in his lonely 



94 BEALBY 

wanderings through that dear city of day- 
dreams where all the people one knows look out 
of windows as one passes and the roads are 
paved with pride ! How often had he decided 
and changed and decided again ! 



10 

Now suddenly a realization of intrusion 
shattered this conversation. A third person 
stood over the little encampment, smiling 
mysteriously and waving a cleek in a slow 
hieratic manner through the air. 

" De licious HIT corn'," said the newcomer in 
tones of benediction. 

He met their inquiring eyes with a luxurious 
smile, " Licious," he said, and remained sway- 
ing insecurely and failing to express some im- 
perfectly apprehended deep meaning by short 
peculiar movements of the cleek. 

He was obviously a golfer astray from some 
adjacent course and he had lunched. 

" Mighty Join you," he said, and then very 
distinctly in a full large voice, " Miss Malleleine 
Philps." There are the penalties of a public 
and popular life. 

" He's drunk," the lady whispered. " Get 
him to go away, Dick. I can't endure drunken 
men." 

She stood up and Bealby stood up. He 



THE WANDERERS 95 

advanced in front of her, slowly, with his nose 
in the air, extraordinarily like a small terrier 
smelling at a strange dog. 

" I said Mighty Join-you," the golfer re- 
peated. His voice was richly excessive. He 
was a big heavy man with a short-cropped 
moustache, a great deal of neck and dewlap and 
a solemn expression. 

" Prup. Be'r. Introzuze m'self," he re- 
marked. He tried to indicate himself by 
waving his hand towards himself but finally 
abandoned the attempt as impossible. " Ma' 
Goo' Soch'l Poshishun," he said. 

Bealby had a disconcerting sense of retreat- 
ing footsteps behind him. He glanced over his 
shoulder and saw Miss Philips standing at the 
foot of the steps that led up to the fastnesses 
of the caravan. " Dick," she cried with a sharp 
note of alarm in her voice, " get rid of that 
man." 

A moment after Bealby heard the door shut 
and a sound of a key in its lock. He concealed 
his true feelings by putting his arms akimbo, 
sticking his legs wider apart and contemplating 
the task before him with his head a little on one 
side. He was upheld by the thought that the 
yellow caravan had a window looking upon 
him. . . . 

The newcomer seemed to consider the 
ceremony of introduction completed. " I 



96 BEALBY 

done care for gofl," he said, almost vain- 
gloriously. 

He waved his cleek to express his preference. 
" Natua," he said with a satisfaction that 
bordered on fatuity. 

He prepared to come down from the little 
turfy crest on which he stood to the encamp- 
ment. 

" 'Ere ! " said Bealby. " This is Private." 

The golfer indicated by solemn movements 
of the cleek that this was understood but that 
other considerations overrode it. 

" You You got to go ! " cried Bealby 

in a breathless squeak. ' You get out of 
here." 

The golfer waved an arm as who should say, 
" You do not understand but I forgive you," 
and continued to advance towards the fire. 
And then Bealby, at the end of his tact, com- 
menced hostilities. 

He did so because he felt he had to do 
something and he did not know what else to do. 

" Wan' no thin' but frenly conversation 
sushus custm'ry webred peel," the golfer was 
saying, and then a large fragment of turf hit 
him in the neck, burst all about him and 
stopped him abruptly. 

He remained for some lengthy moments too 
astonished for words. He was not only greatly 
surprised but he chose to appear even more 



THE WANDERERS 97 

surprised than he was. In spite of the brown- 
black mould upon his cheek and brow and a 
slight displacement of his cap, he achieved a 
sort of dignity. He came slowly to a focus 
upon Bealby, who stood by the turf pile grasp- 
ing a second missile. The cleek was extended 
sceptre wise. 

" Replace the Divot." 

" You go orf," said Bealby. " I'll chuck it 
if you don't. I tell you fair." 

" Replace the DIVOT," roared the golfer 
again in a voice of extraordinary power. 

' You you go ! " said Bealby. 

" Am I t'ask you. Third time. Reshpect 
Roos. . . . Replace the Divot." 

It struck him fully in the face. 

He seemed to emerge through the mould. 
He was blinking but still dignified. ' Tha' 
was intentional," he said. 

He seemed to gather himself together. . . . 

Then suddenly and with a surprising nimble- 
ness he discharged himself at Bealby. He 
came with astonishing swiftness. He got 
within a foot of him. Well it was for Bealby 
that he had learnt to dodge in the village 
playground. He went down under the golfer's 
arm and away round the end of the stack, and 
the golfer with his force spent in concussion 
remained for a time clinging to the turf pile 
and apparently trying to remember how he got 
7 



98 BEALBY 

there. Then he was reminded of recent occur- 
rences by a shrill small voice from the other 
side of the stack. 

" You gow away ! " said the voice. " Can't 
you see you're annoying a lady ? You gow 
away." 

" Nowish 'noy anyone. Pease wall wirl." 

But this was subterfuge. He meant to 
catch that boy. 

Suddenly and rather brilliantly he turned 
the flank of the turf pile, and only a couple of 
loose turfs at the foot of the heap upset his 
calculations. He found himself on all fours on 
ground from which it was difficult to rise. 
But he did not lose heart. " Boy hie 
scow," he said, and became for a second rush 
a nimble quadruped. 

Again he got quite astonishingly near to 
Bealby, and then in an instant was on his feet 
and running across the encampment after him. 
He succeeded in kicking over the kettle and 
the patent cooker without any injury to him- 
self or loss of pace, and succumbed only to the 
sharp turn behind the end of the caravan and 
the steps. He hadn't somehow thought of the 
steps. So he went down rather heavily. But 
now the spirit of a fine man was roused. Re- 
gardless of the scream from inside that had 
followed his collapse, he was up and in pursuit 
almost instantly. Bealby only escaped the 






THE WANDERERS 99 

swiftness of his rush by jumping the shafts and 
going away across the front of the caravan 
to the turf pile again. The golfer tried to jump 
the shafts too, but he was not equal to that. 
He did in a manner jump. But it was almost 
as much diving as jumping. And there was 
something in it almost like the curveting of a 
Great Horse. . . . 

When Bealby turned at the crash, the golfer 
was already on all fours again and trying very 
busily to crawl out between the shaft and 
the front wheel. He would have been more 
successful in doing this if he had not begun by 
putting his arm through the wheel. As it 
was he was trying to do too much ; he was 
trying to crawl out at two points at once and 
getting very rapidly annoyed at his inability 
to do so. The caravan was shifting slowly 
forward. . . . 

It was manifest to Bealby that getting this 
man to go was likely to be a much more 
lengthy business than he had supposed. 

He surveyed the situation for a moment and 
then realizing the entanglement of his opponent, 
he seized a camp-stool by one leg, went round 
by the steps and attacked the prostrate enemy 
from the rear with effectual but inconclusive 
fury. 

He hammered. . . . 

" Steady on, young man," said a voice and he 



ioo BEALBY 

was seized from behind. He turned to dis- 
cover himself in the grip of a second golfer. . . . 

Another! Bealby fought in a fury of fear. . . . 

He bit an arm rather too tweedy to feel 
much and got in a couple of shinners alas ! 
that they were only slippered shinners ! before 
he was overpowered. . . . 

A cuffed, crumpled, disarmed and panting 
Bealby found himself watching the careful 
extraction of the first golfer from the front 
wheel. Two friends assisted that gentleman 
with a reproachful gentleness, and his repeated 
statements that he was all right seemed to 
reassure them greatly. Altogether there were 
now four golfers in the field, counting the 
pioneer. 

" He was after this devil of a boy," said the 
one who held Bealby. 

" Yes, but how did he get here ? " asked a 
second friend. 

" Feel better now ? " said the third, helping 
the first comer to his uncertain feet. " Let 
me have your cleek o* man. . . . You won't 
want your cleek. . . ." 

Across the heather, lifting their heads a little, 
came Mrs. Bowles and Mrs. Geedge returning 
from their walk. They were wondering who- 
ever their visitors could be. 

And then like music after a dispute came 
Madeleine Philips, a beautiful blue-robed thing, 



THE WANDERERS 101 

coming slowly with a kind of wonder on her 
face, out of the caravan and down the steps. 
Instinctively everybody turned to her. The 
drunkard with a gesture released himself from 
his supporter and stood erect. His cap was 
replaced upon him obliquely. His cleek had 
been secured. 

" I heard a noise," said Madeleine lifting 
her pretty chin and speaking in her sweetest 
tones. 

She looked her inquiries. . . . 

She surveyed the three sober men with a 
practised eye. She chose the tallest, a fair, 
serious-looking young man standing con- 
veniently at the drunkard's elbow. 

" Will you please take your friend away ? " 
she said, indicating the offender with her 
beautiful white hand. 

" Simly," he said in a slightly subdued voice. 
" Simly coring." 

Everybody tried for a moment to under- 
stand him. 

u Look here, old man, you've got no business 
here," said the fair young man. " You'd 
better come back to the club-house." 

The drunken man stuck to his statement. 
" Simly coring," he said a little louder. 

" I think" said a little bright-eyed man with 
a very cheerful yellow vest, " I think he's 
apologizing. I hope so." 



102 BEALBY 

The drunken man nodded his head. That 
among other matters. 

The tall young man took his arm but he 
insisted on his point. " Simly coring," he said 
with emphasis. " If if donewan' me to cor. 
Notome. Nottot. . . . Mean' say. Nottot 
tat-tome. Nottotome. Orny way sayin' not- 
ome. No wish 'trude. No wish 'all." 

" Well then, you see, you'd better come away." 

" I ars' you are you tome ? Miss Miss Pips." 
He appealed to Miss Philips. 

" If you'd answer him " said the tall 

young man. 

" No, sir," she said with great dignity and 
the pretty chin higher than ever. " I am not 
at home." 

" Nuthin' more t'say then," said the drunken 
man, and with a sudden stoicism he turned 
away. 

" Come," he said, submitting to support. 

" Simly orny arfnoon cor," he said generally 
and permitted himself to be led off. 

" Orny frenly cor. ..." 

For some time he was audible as he receded 
explaining in a rather condescending voice, 
the extreme social correctness of his behaviour. 
Just for a moment or so there was a slight 
tussle, due to his desire to return and leave 
cards. . . . 

He was afterwards seen to be distributing a 



THE WANDERERS 103 

small handful of visiting cards amidst the 
heather with his free arm, rather in the manner of 
a paper chase but much more gracefully. . . . 
Then decently and in order he was taken out 
of sight. . . . 



Bealby had been unostentatiously released by 
his captor as soon as Miss Philips appeared, 
and the two remaining golfers now addressed 
themselves to the three ladies in regret and 
explanation. 

The man who had vheld Bealby was an 
aquiline grey-clad person with a cascade mous- 
tache and wrinkled eyes and for some obscure 
reason he seemed to be amused ; the little man 
in the yellow vest however was quite earnest 
and serious enough to make up for him. He 
was one of those little fresh-coloured men whose 
faces stick forward openly. He had open pro- 
jecting eyes, an open mouth, his cheeks were 
frank to the pitch of ostentation, his cap was 
thrust back from his exceptionally open fore- 
head. He had a chest and a stomach. These, 
too, he held out. He would have held out 
anything. His legs leant forward from the 
feet. It was evidently impossible for a man of 
his nature to be anything but clean shaved. . . . 

" Our fault entirely," he said. " Ought to 



104 BEALBY 

have looked after him. Can't say how sorry 
and ashamed we are. Can't say how sorry we 
are he caused you any inconvenience." 

" Of course," said Mrs. Bowles, " our boy- 
servant ought not to have pelted him." 

" He didn't exactly pelt him, dear," said 
Madeleine. . . . 

"Well, anyhow our friend ought not to have 
been off his chain. It was our affair to look 
after him and we didn't. ..." 

" You see," the open young man went on, 
with the air of lucid explanation, " he's our 
worst player. And he got round in a hun- 
dred and twenty-seven. And beat somebody. 
And it's upset him. It's not a bit of good 
disguising that we've been letting him drink. 
. . . We have. To begin with we encouraged 
him. . . . We oughtn't to have let him go. 
But we thought a walk alone might do him 
good. And some of us were a bit off him. Fed 
up rather. You see he'd been singing. Would 
go on singing. ..." 

He went on to propitiations. "Anything 
the club can do to show how we regret. . . . 
If you would like to pitch later on in our rough 
beyond the pine woods. . . . You'd find it safe 
and secluded. . . . Custodian most civil man. 
Get you -water or anything you wanted. Es- 
pecially after all that has happened. . . ." 

Bealby took no further part in these con- 



THE WANDERERS 105 

eluding politenesses. He had a curious feeling 
in his mind that perhaps he had not managed 
this affair quite so well as he might have done. 
He ought to have been more tactful like, more 
persuasive. He was a fool to have started 
chucking. . . . Well, well. He picked up the 
overturned kettle and went off down the hill to 
get water. . . . 

What had she thought of him ? . . . 

In the meantime one can at least boil kettles. 



12 

>ne consequence of this little incident of the 
rejoicing golfer was that the three ladies were no 
longer content to dismiss William and Bealby 
at nightfall and sleep unprotected in the 
caravan. And this time their pitch was a 
lonely one with only the golf club-house within 
call. They were inclined even to distrust the 
golf club. So it was decided, to his great satis- 
faction, that Bealby should have a certain 
sleeping sack Mrs. Bowles had brought with her 
and that he should sleep therein between the 
wheels. 

This sleeping sack was to have been a great 
feature of the expedition, but when it came to 
the test Judy could not use it. She had not 
anticipated that feeling of extreme publicity 
the open air gives one at first. It was like 



io6 BEALBY 

having all the world in one's bedroom. Every 
night she had relapsed into the caravan. 

Bealby did not mind what they did with him 
so long as it meant sleeping. He had had a 
long day of it. He undressed sketchily and 
wriggled into the nice woolly bag and lay for a 
moment listening to the soft bumpings that 
were going on overhead. She was there. He 
had the instinctive confidence of our sex in 
women, and here were three of them. He had a 
vague idea of getting out of his bag again and 
kissing the underside of the van that held this 
dear beautiful creature. . , . 

He didn't. . . . 

Such a lot of things had happened that day 
and the day before. He had been going without 
intermission, it seemed now for endless hours. 
He thought of trees, roads, dew-wet grass, 
frying-pans, pursuing packs of gigantic butlers 
hopelessly at fault, no doubt they were hunting 
now, chinks and crannies, tactless missiles 
flying, bursting, missiles it was vain to recall. 
He stared for a few seconds through the wheel 
spokes at the dancing, crackling fire of pine- 
cones which it had been his last duty to re- 
plenish, stared and blinked much as a little dog 
might do, and then he had slipped away alto- 
gether into the world of dreams. . . . 



THE WANDERERS 107 

13 

In the morning he was extraordinarily hard 
to wake. . . . 

"Is it after sleeping all day ye'd be ? " cried 
Judy Bowles, who was always at her most Irish 
about breakfast- time. 



CHAPTER THE FOURTH 
THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 

i j 

MONDAY was a happy day for Bealby. 
The caravan did seventeen miles and 
came to rest at last in a sloping field outside 
a cheerful little village set about a green on 
which was a long tent professing to be a theatre. 

At the first stopping-place that possessed a 
general shop Mrs. Bowles bought Bealby a 
pair of boots. Then she had a bright idea. 
" Got any pocket money, Dick ? " she asked. 

She gave him half a crown, that is to say she 
gave him two shillings and sixpence, or five 
sixpences or thirty pennies according as you 
choose to look at it in one large undivided 
shining coin. 

Even if he had not been in love here surely 
was incentive to a generous nature to help and 
do distinguished services. He dashed about 
doing things. The little accident on Sunday 
had warned him to be careful of the plates, and 
the only flaw upon a perfect day's service was 

108 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 109 

the dropping of an egg on its way to the frying- 
pan for supper. It remained where it fell and 
there presently he gave it a quiet burial. There 
was nothing else to be done with it. ... 

All day long at intervals Miss Philips smiled 
at him and made him do little services for her. 
And in the evening, after the custom of her 
great profession when it keeps holiday, she 
insisted on going to the play. She said it 
would be the loveliest fun. She went with 
Mrs. Bowles because Mrs. Geedge wanted to 
sit quietly in the caravan and write down a few 
little things while they were still fresh in her 
mind. And it wasn't in the part of Madeleine 
Philips not to insist that both William and 
Bealby must go too ; she gave them each a 
shilling though the prices were sixpence, 
threepence, twopence and a penny and Bealby 
saw his first real play. 

It was called Brothers in Blood or the Gentle- 
man Ranker. There was a poster which was 
only very slightly justified by the performance 
of a man in khaki with a bandaged head pro- 
posing to sell his life dearly over a fallen 
comrade. 

One went to the play through an open and 
damaged field gate and across trampled turf. 
Outside the tent were two paraffin flares 
illuminating the poster and a small cluster 
of the impecunious young. Within on grass 



no BEALBY 

that was worn and bleached were benches, a 
gathering audience, a piano played by an off- 
hand lady and a drop scene displaying the 
Grand Canal, Venice. The Grand Canal was 
infested by a crowded multitude of zealous and 
excessive reflections of the palaces above and 
by peculiar crescentic black boats floating 
entirely out of water and having no reflec- 
tions at all. The off-hand lady gave a broad im- 
pression of the Wedding March in " Lohengrin " 
and the back seats assisted by a sort of gastric 
vocalization called humming and by whistling 
between the teeth. Madeleine Philips evi-! 
dently found it tremendous fun, even before 
the curtain rose. 

And then illusion. . . . 

The scenery was ridiculous, it waved about, 
the actors and actresses were surely the most 
pitiful of their tribe and every invention in the 
play impossible, but the imagination of Bealby 
like the loving-kindness of God made no diffi- 
culties, it rose up and met and embraced and 
gave life to all these things. It was a confused 
story in the play, everybody was more or less 
somebody else all the way through, and it got 
more confused in Bealby's mind, but it was 
clear from the outset that there was vile work 
afoot, nets spread and sweet simple people 
wronged. And never were sweet and simple 
people quite so sweet and simple. There was 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING in 

the wrongful brother who was weak and wicked 
and the rightful brother who was vindictively, 
almost viciously good, and there was an in- 
grained villain who was a baronet, a man who 
wore a frock-coat and a silk hat and carried 
gloves and a stick in every scene and upon 
all occasions that sort of man. He looked 
askance, always. There was a dear simple 
girl, with a vast sweet smile, who was loved 
according to their natures by the wrongful 
and the rightful brother, and a large wicked 
red-clad, lip-biting woman whose passions 
made the crazy little stage quiver. There was 
a comic butler very different stuff from old 
Mergleson who wore an evening coat and 
plaid trousers and nearly choked Bealby. 
Why weren't all butlers like that ? Funny. 
And there were constant denunciations. Always 
there were denunciations going on or denuncia- 
tions impending. That took Bealby particu- 
larly. Never surely in all the world were bad 
people so steadily and thoroughly scolded and 
told what. Everybody hissed them ; Bealby 
hissed them. And when they were told what, 
he applauded. And yet they kept on with 
their wickedness to the very curtain. They 
retired askance to the end. Foiled but 
pursuing. " A time will come," they said. 

There was a moment in the distresses of the 
heroine when Bealby dashed aside a tear. 



H2 BEALBY 

And then at last most wonderfully it all came 
right. The company lined up and hoped that 
Bealby was satisfied. Bealby wished he had 
more hands. His heart semed to fill his body. 
Oh prime I prime / . . . 

And out he came into the sympathetic night. 
But he was no longer a trivial Bealby, his soul 
was purged, he was a strong and silent man, 
ready to explode into generous repartee or nerve 
himself for high endeavour. He slipped off in 
the opposite direction from the caravan because 
he wanted to be alone for a time and feel. 
He did not want to jar upon a sphere of glorious 
illusion that had blown up in his mind like a 
bubble. . . . 

He was quite sure that he had been wronged. 
Not to be wronged is to forgo the first privilege 
of goodness. He had been deeply wronged by a 
plot, all those butlers were in the plot or why 
should they have chased him he was much older 
than he really was, it had been kept from him, 
and in truth he was a rightful earl. " Earl 
Shonts," he whispered ; and indeed, why not ? 
And Madeleine too had been wronged ; she 
had been reduced to wander in this uncomfort- 
able caravan ; this Gipsy Queen ; she had 
been brought to it by villains, the same villains 
who had wronged Bealby. . . . 

Out he went into the night, the kindly con- 
senting summer night, where there is nothing 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 113 

to be seen or heard that will contradict these 
delicious wonderful persuasions. 

He was so full of these dreams that he 
strayed far away along the dark country lanes 
and had at last the utmost difficulty in finding 
his way back to the caravan. And when 
ultimately he got back after hours and hours 
of heroic existence it did not even seem that 
they had missed him. It did not seem that 
he had been away half an hour. 

2 

Tuesday was not so happy a day for Bealby 
as Monday. 

Its shadows began when Mrs. Bowles asked 
him in a friendly tone when it was clean-collar 
day. 

He was unready with his answer. 

"And don't you ever use a hair -brush, 
Dick ? " she asked. "I'm sure now there's 
one in your parcel." 

' I do use it sometimes, Mum," he admitted. 

" And I've never detected you with a tooth- 
brush yet. Though that perhaps is extreme. 
And Dick soap? I think you'd better be 
letting me give you a cake of soap." 

" I'd be very much obliged, Mum." 

" I hardly dare hint, Dick, at a clean hand- 
kerchief. Such things are known." 
8 



114 BEALBY 

" If you wouldn't mind when I've got the 
breakfast things done, Mum. ..." 

The thing worried him all through breakfast. 
He had not expected personalities from Mrs. 
Bowles. More particularly personalities of this 
kind. He felt he had to think hard. 

He affected modesty after he had cleared 
away breakfast, and carried off his little bundle 
to a point in the stream which was masked from 
the encampment by willows. With him he also 
brought that cake of soap. He began by 
washing his handkerchief, which was bad 
policy because that left him no dry towel but 
his jacket. He ought, he perceived, to have 
secured a dish-cloth or a newspaper. (This 
he must remember on the next occasion.) He 
did over his hands and the more exposed parts 
of his face with soap and jacket. Then he 
took off and examined his collar. It certainly 
was pretty bad. . . . 

" Why ! " cried Mrs. Bowles when he re- 
turned, " that's still the same collar." 

" They all seem to've got crumpled, 'm," 
said Bealby. 

" But are they all as dirty ? " 

"I'd some blacking in my parcel," said Bealby, 
" and it got loose, Mum. I'll have to get 
another collar when we come to a shop." 

It was a financial sacrifice but it was the 
only way, and when they came to the shop 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 115 

Bealby secured a very nice collar indeed, high 
with pointed turn-down corners, so that it cut 
his neck all round, jabbed him under the chin 
and gave him a proud upcast carriage of the 
head that led to his treading upon and very 
completely destroying a stray plate while 
preparing lunch. But it was more of a man's 
collar, he felt, than anything he had ever worn 
before. And it cost sixpence halfpenny, six 
dee and a half. 

(I should have mentioned that while washing 
up the breakfast things he had already broken 
the handle off one of the breakfast-cups. Both 
these accidents deepened the cloud upon his 
day.) 

And then there was the trouble of William. 
William having meditated upon the differences 
between them for a day had now invented an 
activity. As Bealby sat beside him behind the 
white horse he was suddenly and frightfully 
pinched. Gee ! One wanted to yelp. 

" Choc'late," said William through his teeth 
and very very savagely. " Now then." 

After William had done that twice Bealby 
preferred to walk beside the caravan. There- 
upon William whipped up the white horse and 
broke records and made all the crockery sing 
together and forced the pace until he was 
spoken to by Mrs. Bowles. . . . 

It was upon a Bealby thus depressed and 



n6 BEALBY 

worried that the rumour of impending " men- 
folk " came. It began after the party had 
stopped for letters at a village post-office ; there 
were not only letters but a telegram, that Mrs. 
Bowles read with her spats far apart and her 
head on one side. " Ye'd like to know about it," 
she said waggishly to Miss Philips, " and you 
just shan't." 

She then went into her letters. 

" You've got some news," said Mrs. Geedge. 

" I have that," said Mrs. Bowles, and not 
a word more could they get from her. . . . 

"I'll keep my news no longer," said Mrs. 
Bowles, lighting her cigarette after lunch as 
Bealby hovered about clearing away the 
banana skins and suchlike vestiges of dessert. 
" To-morrow night as ever is, if so be we get 
to Winthorpe-Sutbury, there'll be Men among 
us." 

" But Tom's not coming," said Mrs. Geedge. 

" He asked Tim to tell me to tell you." 

" And you've kept it these two hours, Judy." 

" For your own good and peace of mind. 
But now the murther's out. Come they will, 
your Man and my Man, pretending to a pity 
because they can't do without us. But like 
the self-indulgent monsters they are, they must 
needs stop at some grand hotel, Redlake he 
calls it, the Royal, on the hill above Winthorpe- 
Sutbury. The Royal ! The very name de- 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 117 

scribes it. Can't you see the lounge, girls, 
with its white cane chairs ? And saddlebacks ! 
No other hotel it seems is good enough for 
them, and we if you please are asked to go 
in and have what does the man call it 
the ' comforts of decency ' and let the caravan 
rest for a bit." 

" Tim promised me I should run wild as long 
as I chose," said Mrs. Geedge, looking anything 
but wild. 

' They're after thinking we've had enough 
of it," said Mrs. Bowles. 

" It sounds like that." 

" Sure I'd go on like this for ever," said 
Judy. " 'Tis the Man and the House and all of 
it that oppresses me. Vans for Women. ..." 

" Let's not go to Winthorpe-Sutbury," said 
Madeleine. 

(The first word of sense Bealby had heard.) 

" Ah ! " said Mrs. Bowles archly, " who 
knows but what there'll be a Man for you ? 
Some sort of Man anyhow." 

(Bealby thought that a most improper re- 
mark.) 

" I want no man." 

" Ah ! " 

" Why do you say Ah like that ? " 

" Because I mean Ah like that." 

" Meaning ? " 

" Just that." 



n8 BEALBY 

Miss Philips eyed Mrs. Bowles and Mrs. 
Bowles eyed Miss Philips. 

' Judy/' she said, " you've got something up 
your sleeve." 

" Where it's perfectly comfortable," said Mrs. 
Bowles. 

And then quite maddeningly, she remarked, 
' Will you be after washing up presently, Dick ? " 
and looked at him with a roguish quiet over her 
cigarette. It was necessary to disabuse her 
mind at once of the idea that he had been listen- 
ing. He took up the last few plates and went 
off to the washing place by the stream. All 
the rest of that conversation had to be lost. 

Except that as he came back for the Hudson's 
soap he heard Miss Philips say, " Keep your old 
Men. I'll just console myself with Dick, my 
dears. Making such a Mystery ! " 

To which Mrs. Bowles replied darkly, " She 
little knows. ..." 

A kind of consolation was to be got from 
that. . But what was it she little knew ? . 



3 

The men-folk when they came were nothing 
so terrific to the sight as Bealby had expected. 
And thank Heaven there were only two of them 
and each assigned. Something he perceived 
was said about someone else, he couldn't quite 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 119 

catch what, but if there was to have been 
someone else, at any rate there now wasn't. 
Professor Bowles was animated and Mr. Geedge 
was gracefully cold, they kissed their wives but 
not offensively, and there was a chattering 
pause while Bealby walked on beside the 
caravan. They were on the bare road that 
runs along the high ridge above Winthorpe- 
Sutbury, and the men had walked to meet 
them from some hotel or other Bealby wasn't 
clear about that by the golf links. Judy was 
the life and soul of the encounter, and all for 
asking the men what they meant by intruding 
upon three independent women who, sure- 
alive, could very well do without them. Pro- 
fessor Bowles took her pretty calmly, and 
seemed on the whole to admire her. 

Professor Bowles was a compact little man 
wearing spectacles with alternative glasses, 
partly curved, partly flat, he was hairy and 
dressed in that sort of soft tweedy stuff that 
ravels out he seemed to have been sitting 
among thorns and baggy knickerbockers with 
straps and very thick stockings and very 
sensible, open-air, in fact quite mountainous, 
boots. And yet though he was short and 
stout and active he had a kind of authority 
about him, and it was clear that for all her 
persuasiveness his wife merely ran over him like 
a creeper without making any great difference 



120 BEALBY 

to him. " I've found/' he said, " the perfect 
place for your encampment." She had been 
making suggestions. And presently he left the 
ladies and came hurrying after the caravan to 
take control. 

He was evidently a very controlling person. 

" Here, you get down," he said to William. 
" That poor beast's got enough to pull without 
you." 

And when William mumbled he said, 
" Hey ? " in such a shout that William for ever 
after held his peace. 

" Where d'you come from, you boy, you ? " 
he asked suddenly, and Bealby looked to Mrs. 
Bowles to explain. 

" Great silly collar you've got," said the 
Professor, interrupting her reply. " Boy like 
this ought to wear a wool shirt. Dirty too. 
Take it off, boy. It's choking you. Don't 
youfeelit ? " 

Then he went on to make trouble about the 
tackle William had rigged to contain the white 
horse. 

" This harness makes me sick," said Professor 
Bowles. " It's worse than Italy. . . ." 

" Ah ! " he cried and suddenly darted off 
across the turf, going inelegantly and very 
rapidly, with peculiar motions of the head and 
neck as he brought first the flat and then the 
curved surface of his glasses into play. Finally 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 121 

he dived into the turf, remained scrabbling on 
all fours for a moment or so, became almost 
still for the fraction of a minute and then got up 
and returned to his wife, holding in an exquisite 
manner something that struggled between his 
finger and his thumb. 

' That's the third to-day," he said, triumph- 
antly. " They swarm here. It's a migration." 

Then he resumed his penetrating criticism of 
the caravan outfit. 

' That boy," he said suddenly with his glasses 
oblique, " hasn't taken off his collar yet." 

Bealby revealed the modest secrets of his 
neck and pocketed the collar. . . . 

Mr. Geedge did not appear to observe Bealby. 
He was a man of the super-aquiline type with a 
nose like a rudder, he held his face as if it was a 
hatchet in a procession, and walked with the 
dignity of a man of honour. You could see at 
once he was a man of honour. Inflexibly, 
invincibly he was a man of honour. You felt 
that anywhen, in a fire, in an earthquake, in a 
railway accident when other people would be 
running about and doing things he would have 
remained a man of honour. It was his pride 
rather than his vanity to be mistaken for Sir 
Edward Grey. He now walked along with 
Miss Philips and his wife behind the disputing 
Bowleses, and discoursed in deep sonorous 
tones about the healthiness of healthy places 



122 BEALBY 

and the stifling feeling one had in towns when 
there was no air. 



4 

The Professor was remarkably active when 
at last the point he had chosen for the encamp- 
ment was reached. Bealby was told to " look 
alive " twice, and William was assigned to his 
genus and species : " The man's an absolute 
idiot," was the way the Professor put it. Wil- 
liam just shot a glance at him over his nose. 

The place certainly commanded a wonder- 
ful view. It was a turfy bank protected from 
the north and south by bushes of yew and 
the beech-bordered edge of a chalk pit ; it was 
close beside the road, a road which went steeply 
down the hill into Winthorpe-Sutbury, with 
that intrepid decision peculiar to the hill-roads 
of the south of England. It looked indeed as 
though you could throw the rinse of your 
teacups into the Winthorpe-Sutbury street; 
as if you could jump and impale yourself 
upon the church spire. The hills bellied out 
east and west and carried hangers, and then 
swept round to the west in a long level succes- 
sion of projections, a perspective that merged 
at last with the general horizon of hilly blue- 
nesses, amidst which Professor Bowles insisted 
upon a " sapphire glimpse " of sea. " The 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 123 

Channel," said Professor Bowles, as though 
that made it easier for them. Only Mr. Geedge 
refused to see even that mitigated version of 
the sea. There was something perhaps bluish 
and level, but he was evidently not going to 
admit it was sea until he had paddled in it and 
tested it in every way known to him. . . . 

" Good Lord \ " cried the Professor. " What's 
the man doing now ? " 

William stopped the struggles and confidential 
discouragements he was bestowing upon the 
white horse and waited for a more definite 
reproach. 

" Putting the caravan alongside to the sun I 
Do you think it will ever get cool again ? And 
think of the blaze of the sunset through the 
glass of that door ! " 

William spluttered. " If I put'n t'other way 
goo runnin' down t'hill like," said William. 

" Imbecile ! " cried the Professor. " Put 
something under the wheels. Here ! " He 
careered about and produced great grey frag- 
ments of a perished yew tree. " Now then," 
he said. " Head up hill." 

William did his best. 

" Oh 1 not like that ! Here, you \ " 

Bealby assisted with obsequious enthusiasm. 

It was some time before the caravan was 
adjusted to the complete satisfaction of the Pro- 
fessor. But at last it was done, and the end 



124 BEALBY 

door gaped at the whole prospect of the Weald 
with the steps hanging out idiotically like a 
tongue. The hind wheels were stayed up very 
cleverly by lumps of chalk and chunks of yew, 
living and dead, and certainly the effect of it 
was altogether taller and better. And then 
the preparations for the midday cooking began. 
The Professor was full of acute ideas about 
camping and cooking, and gave Bealby a lively 
but instructive time. There was no stream 
handy, but William was sent off to the hotel 
to fetch a garden water-cart that the Professor 
with infinite foresight had arranged should be 
ready. 

The Geedges held aloof from these prepara- 
tions, they were unassuming people, Miss Philips 
concentrated her attention upon the Weald it 
seemed to Bealby a little discontentedly, as if 
it was unworthy of her and Mrs. Bowles 
hovered, smoking cigarettes, over her husband' s 
activities, acting great amusement. 

" You see it pleases me to get Himself busy," 
she said. "You'll end a Camper yet, Darlint, 
and us in the hotel." 

The Professor answered nothing, but seemed 
to plunge deeper into practicality. 

Under the urgency of Professor Bowles 
Bealby stumbled and broke a glass jar of 
marmalade over some fried potatoes, but other- 
wise did well as a cook's assistant. Once 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 125 

things were a little interrupted by the Pro- 
fessor going off to catch a cricket, but whether 
it was the right sort of cricket or not he failed 
to get it. And then with three loud reports 
for a moment Bealby thought the mad butlers 
from Shonts were upon him with firearms 
Captain Douglas arrived and got off his motor 
bicycle and left it by the roadside. His machine 
accounted for his delay, for those were the 
early days of motor bicycles. It also accounted 
for a black smudge under one of his bright 
little eyes. He was fair and flushed, dressed 
in oilskins and a helmet-shaped cap and great 
gauntlets that made him, in spite of the smudge, 
look strange and brave and handsome like a 
Crusader only that he was clad in oilskin and 
not steel, and his moustache was smaller than 
those of Crusaders were and when he came 
across the turf to the encampment Mrs. Bowles 
and Mrs. Geedge both set up a cry of " A- Ah ! " 
and Miss Philips turned an accusing face upon 
those two ladies. Bealby knelt with a bunch 
of knives and forks in his hand laying the cloth 
for lunch, and when he saw Captain Douglas 
approaching Miss Philips, he perceived clearly 
that that lady had already forgotten her lowly 
adorer, and his little heart was smitten with 
desolation. This man was arrayed like a 
chivalrous god, and how was a poor Bealby, 
whose very collar, his one little circlet of man- 






126 BEALBY 

hood, had been reft from him, how was he to 
compete with this tremendousness ? In that 
hour the ambition for mechanism, the passion 
for leather and oilskin was sown in Bealby's 
heart. 

" I told you not to come near me for a 
month," said Madeleine, but her face was 
radiant. 

' These motor bicycles very difficult to 
control," said Captain Douglas, and all the little 
golden-white hairs upon his sunlit cheek 
glittered in the sun. 

" And besides," said Mrs. Bowles, " it's all 
nonsense." 

The Professor was in a state of arrested ad- 
ministration ; the three others were frankly 
audience to a clearly understood scene. 

" You ought to be in France." 

"I'm not in France." 

" I sent you into exile for a month," and she 
held out a hand for the Captain to kiss. 

He kissed it. 

Someday, somewhere, it was written in the 
book of destiny Bealby should also kiss hands. 
It was a lovely thing to do. 

" Month ! It's been years," said the Captain. 
" Years and years." 

" Then you ought to have come back before," 
she replied, and the Captain had no answer 
ready. . . . 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 127 

5 

When William arrived with the water-cart, 
he brought also further proofs of the Professor's 
organizing ability. He brought various bottles 
of wine, red Burgundy and sparkling hock, 
two bottles of cider, and peculiar and meri- 
torious waters ; he brought tinned things for 
hors d'ceuvre ; he brought some luscious 
pears. 

When he had a moment with Bealby behind 
the caravan he repeated thrice in tones of 
hopeless sorrow, ' They'll eat um all. I 
knows they'll eat um all." And then plumbing 
a deeper tone of woe, " Ef they don't they'll 
count um. Ode Goggles'll bag um. . . . 'E's 
a bagger, 'e is." 

It was the brightest of luncheons that was 
eaten that day in the sunshine and spaciousness 
above Winthorpe-Sutbury. Everyone was gay, 
and even the love-lorn Bealby who might well 
have sunk into depression and lethargy was 
galvanized into an activity that was almost 
cheerful by flashes from the Professor's glasses. 

They talked of this and that ; Bealby hadn't 
much time to attend, though the laughter 
that followed various sallies from Judy Bowles 
was very tantalizing, and it had come to the 
pears before his attention wasn't so much 
caught as felled by the word " Shonts ". . . . 



128 BEALBY 

It was as if the sky had suddenly changed 
to vermilion. All these people were talking of 
Shonts / . . . 

" Went there," said Captain Douglas, " in 
perfect good faith. Wanted to fill up Lucy's 
little party. One doesn't go to Shonts nowadays 
for idle pleasure. And then I get ordered 
out of the house, absolutely Told to Go." 

(This man had been at Shonts !) 

" That was on Sunday morning ? " said Mrs. 
Geedge. 

" On Sunday morning," said Mrs. Bowles 
suddenly, " we were almost within sight of 
Shonts." 

(This man had been at Shonts even at the 
time when Bealby was there !) 

" Early on Sunday morning. Told to go. 
I was fairly flabbergasted. What the deuce 
is a man to do ? Where's he to go ? Sunday ? 
One doesn't go to places, Sunday morning. 
There I'd been sleeping like a lamb all night and 
suddenly in came Laxton and said, ' Look 
here, you know/ he said, ' you've got to oblige 
me and pack your bag and go. Now.' ' Why ? ' 
said I. ' Because you've driven the Lord 
Chancellor stark staring mad ! ' 

" But how ? " asked the Professor almost 
angrily, " how ? I don't see it. Why should 
he ask you to go ? " 

" / don't know ! " cried Captain Douglas. 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 129 

' Yes, but ! " said the Professor, protesting 

against the unreasonableness of mankind. 

" I'd had a word or two with him in the 
train. Nothing to speak of. About occupying 
two corner seats always strikes me as a cad's 
trick but on my honour I didn't rub it in. 
And then he got it into his head we were 
laughing at him at dinner we were a bit, but 
only the sort of thing one says about anyone 
way he works his eyebrows and all that and 
then he thought I was ragging him. ... I 
don't rag people. Got it so strongly he made a 
row that night. Said I'd made a ghost slap him 
on his back. Hang it ! what can you say to a 
thing like that ? In my room all the time." 

' You suffer for the sins of your brother," 
said Mrs. Bowles. 

" Heavens ! " cried the Captain, " I never 
thought of that ! Perhaps he mistook 
me. . . ." 

He reflected for a moment and continued 
his narrative. " Then in the night, you know, 
he heard noises." 

' They always do," said the Professor nodding 
confirmation. 

" Couldn't sleep." 

" A sure sign," said the Professor. 

" And finally he sallied out in the early 
morning, caught the butler in one of the secret 

passages " 

9 



130 BEALBY 



" How did the butler get into the secret 
passage ? " 

" Going round, I suppose. Part of his 
duties. . . . Anyhow he gave the poor beggar 
an awful doing awful brutal black eye, 
all that sort of thing ; man much too respectful 
to hit back. Finally declared I'd been getting 
up a kind of rag, squaring the servants to 
help and so forth. . . . Laxton, I fancy, half 
believed it. ... Awkward thing, you know, 
having it said about that you ragged the Lord 
Chancellor. Makes a man seem a sort of 
mischievous idiot. Injures a man. Then 
going away, you see, seems a kind of admis- 
sion. . . ." 

" Why did you go ? " 

" Lucy," said the Captain compactly. 
" Hysterics. 

" Shonts would have burst," he added, 
I hadn't gone." 

Madeleine was helpful. " But you'll have to 
do something further," she said. 

" What is one to do ? " squealed the Captain. 

" The sooner you get the Lord Chancellor 
certified a lunatic," said the Professor soundly, 
" the better for your professional prospects." 

" He went on pretty bad after I'd gone." 

" You've heard ? " 

" Two letters. I picked 'em up at Wheatley 
Post Office this morning. You know he hadn't 



: 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 131 

done with that butler. Actually got out of his 
place and scruff ed the poor devil at lunch. 
Shook him like a rat, she says. Said the man 
wasn't giving him anything to drink nice 
story, eh ? Anyhow he scruffed him until 
things got broken. . . . 

' I had it all from Minnie Timbre you know, 
used to be Minnie Flax." He shot a propitiatory 
glance at Madeleine. " Used to be neighbours 
of ours you know, in the old time. Half the 
people, she says, didn't know what was happen- 
ing. Thought the butler was apoplectic and 
that old Moggeridge was helping him stand up. 
Taking off his collar. It was Laxton thought 
of saying it was a fit. Told everybody she 
says. Had to tell 'em Something, I suppose. 
But she saw better, and she thinks a good many 
others did. Laxton ran 'em both out of the 
room. Nice scene for Shonts, eh ? Thunder- 
ing awkward for poor Lucy. Not the sort 
of thing the county expected. Has her both 
ways. Can't go to a house where the Lord 
Chancellor goes mad. One alternative. Can't 
go to a house where the butler has fits. That's 
the other. See the dilemma ? . . ." 

" I've got a letter from Lucy too. It's 
here " he struggled " See ? Eight sheets 
pencil. No Joke for a man to read that. And 
she writes worse than any decent, self-respecting, 
illiterate woman has a right to do. Quivers. 



132 BEALBY 

Like writing in a train. Can't read half of it. 
But she's got something about a boy on her 
mind. Mad about a boy. Have I taken away 
a boy ? They've lost a boy. Took him in my 
luggage, I suppose. She'd better write to the 
Lord Chancellor. Likely as not he met him in 
some odd corner and flew at him. Smashed 
him to atoms. Dispersed him. Anyhow 
they've lost a boy." 

He protested to the world. " / can't go 
hunting lost boys for Lucy. I've done enough 
coming away as I did. . . ." 

Mrs. Bowles held out an arresting cigarette. 

" What sort of boy was lost ? " she asked. 

" / don't know. Some little beast of a boy. 
I daresay she'd only imagined it. Whole 
thing been too much for her." 

" Read that over again," said Mrs. Bowles, 
" about losing a boy. We've found one." 

" That little chap ? " 

" We found that boy " she glanced over 
her shoulder, but Bealby was nowhere to be 
seen "on Sunday morning near Shonts- 
He strayed into us like a lost kitten." 

" But I thought you said you knew his 
father, Judy," objected the Professor. 

" Didn't verify," said Mrs. Bowles shortly, 
and then to Captain Douglas, " Read over again 
what Lady Laxton says about him. ..." 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 133 

6 

Captain Douglas struggled with the difficulties 
of his cousin's handwriting. 

Everybody drew together over the fragments 
of the dessert with an eager curiosity, and 
helped to weigh Lady Laxton's rather dishev- 
elled phrases. . . . 



" We'll call the principal witness," said Mrs. 
Bowles at last, warming to the business. 
" Dick ! " 

" Di ick ! " 

" Dick ! " 

The Professor got up and strolled round 
behind the caravan. Then he returned. " No 
boy there." 

" He heard \ " said Mrs. Bowles in a large 
whisper and making round wonder-eyes. 

" She says," said Douglas, " that the chances 
are he's got into the secret passages. ..." 

The Professor strolled out to the road and 
looked up it and then down upon the roofs of 
Winthorpe-Sutbury. " No," he said. " He's 
mizzled." 

" He's only gone away for a bit," said Mrs. 
Geedge. " He does sometimes after lunch. 
He'll come back to wash up." 



134 BEALBY 

" He's probably taking a snooze among the 
yew bushes before facing the labours of wash- 
ing up," said Mrs. Bowles. " He can't have 

mizzled. You see in there He can't by 

any chance have taken his luggage ! " 

She got up and clambered with a little diffi- 
culty because of its piled-up position, into the 
caravan. "It's all right," she called out of the 
door. " His little parsivel is still here." 

Her head disappeared again. 

" I don't think he'd go away like this," said 
Madeleine. " After all, what is there for him 
to go to even if he is Lady Laxton's missing 
boy. . . ." 

" I don't believe he heard a word of it," said 
Mrs. Geedge. . . . 

Mrs. Bowles reappeared, with a curious- 
looking brown-paper parcel in her hand. She 
descended carefully. She sat down by the fke 
and held the parcel on her knees. She regarded 
it and her companions waggishly and lit a fresh 
cigarette. " Our link with Dick," she said, with 
the cigarette in her mouth. 

She felt the parcel, she poised the parcel, she 
looked at it more and more waggishly. " I 
wonder," she said. 

Her expression became so waggish that her 
husband knew she was committed to behaviour 
of the utmost ungentle manliness. He had long 
ceased to attempt restraint in these moods. 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 135 

She put her head on one side and tore open 
the corner of the parcel just a little way. 

" A tin can," she said in a stage whisper. 

She enlarged the opening. " Blades of grass," 
she said. 

The Professor tried to regard it humorously. 
" Even if you have ceased to be decent you can 
still be frank. ... I think now, my dear, 
you might just straightforwardly undo the 
parcel." 

She did. Twelve unsympathetic eyes sur- 
veyed the evidences of Bealby's utter poverty. 

" He's coming," cried Madeleine suddenly. 

Judy re-packed hastily, but it was a false 
alarm. 

" I said he'd mizzled," said the Professor. 

" And without washing up ! " wailed Made- 
leine. " I couldn't have thought it of him. . . ." 

8 

But Bealby had not " mizzled " although he 
was conspicuously not in evidence about the 
camp. There was neither sight nor sound of him 
for all the time they sat about the vestiges of 
their meal. They talked of him and of topics 
arising out of him, and whether the Captain 
should telegraph to Lady Laxton, " Boy practi- 
cally found." 

" I'd rather just find him," said the Captain, 



136 BEALBY 

" and anyhow until we get hold of him we 
don't know it's her particular boy." 

Then they talked of washing-up and how 
detestable it was. And suddenly the two hus- 
bands, seeing their advantage, renewed their 
proposals that the caravanners should put 
up at the golf-links hotel, and have baths 
and the comforts of civilization for a night or 
so and anyhow walk thither for tea. And as 
William had now returned he was sitting on 
the turf afar off smoking a nasty-looking short 
clay pipe they rose up and departed. But 
Captain Douglas and Miss Philips for some 
reason did not go off exactly with the others but 
strayed apart, straying away more and more 
into a kind of solitude. . . . 

First the four married people and then 
the two lovers disappeared over the crest 
of the downs. 



9 

For a time except for its distant sentinel 
the caravan seemed absolutely deserted, and 
then a clump of bramble against the wall of 
the old chalk-pit became agitated and a small, 
rueful, disillusioned, white-smeared little Bealby 
crept back into the visible universe again. His 
heart was very heavy. 

The time had come to go. 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 137 

And he did not want to go. He had loved 
the caravan. He had adored Madeleine. 

He would go, but he would go beautifully 
touchingly. 

He would wash up before he went, he would 
make everything tidy, he would leave behind 
him a sense of irreparable loss. . . . 

With a mournful precision he set about this 
undertaking. If Mergleson could have seen 
him Mergleson would have been amazed. . . . 

He made everything look wonderfully 
tidy. 

Then in the place where she had sat, lying 
on her rug, he found her favourite book, a 
small volume of Swinburne's poems very 
beautifully bound. Captain Douglas had given 
it to her. 

Bealby handled it with a kind of reverence. 
So luxurious it was, so unlike the books in 
Bealby 's world, so altogether of her quality. . . . 

Strange forces prompted him. For a time 
he hesitated. Then decision came with a rush. 
He selected a page, drew the stump of a pencil 
from his pocket, wetted it very wet and, breath- 
ing hard, began to write that traditional 
message, " Farewell. Remember Art Bealby." 

To this he made an original addition : "I 
washt up before I went." 

Then he remembered that so far as this 
caravan went he was not Art Bealby at all. 



138 BEALBY 

He renewed the wetness of his pencil and drew 
black lines athwart the name of " Art Bealby " 
until it was quite unreadable ; then across this 
again and pressing still deeper so that the 
subsequent pages re-echoed it he wrote these 
singular words, " Ed rightful Earl Shonts." 
Then he was ashamed, and largely obliterated 
this by still more forcible strokes. Finally above 
it all plainly and nakedly he wrote " Dick 
Maltravers. ..." 

He put down the book with a sigh and stood 
up. 

Everything was beautifully in order. But 
could he not do something yet ? There came 
to him the idea of wreathing the entire camping 
place with boughs of yew. It would look 
lovely and significant. He set to work. At 
first he toiled zealously, but yew is tough to 
get and soon his hands were painful. He cast 
about for some easier way, and saw beneath 
the hind wheels of the caravan great green 
boughs one particularly a splendid long 
branch. ... It seemed to him that it would 
be possible to withdraw this branch from the 
great heap of sticks and stones that stayed up 
the hind wheels of the caravan. It seemed to 
him that that was so. He was mistaken, but 
that was his idea. 

He set to work to do it. It was rather more 
difficult to manage than he had supposed ; 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 139 

there were unexpected ramifications, wider 
resistances. Indeed the thing seemed rooted. 

Bealby was a resolute youngster at bottom. 

He warmed to his task. ... He tugged 
harder and harder. 



10 

How various is the quality of humanity ! 

About Bealby there was ever an imaginative 
touch ; he was capable of romance, of gallan- 
tries, of devotion. William was of a grosser 
clay, slave of his appetites, a materialist. Such 
men as William drive one to believe in born 
inferiors, in the existence of a lower sort, in the 
natural inequality of men. 

While Bealby was busy at his little gentle 
task of reparation, a task foolish perhaps and 
not too ably conceived, but at any rate morally 
gracious, William had no thought in the world 
but the satisfaction of those appetites that the 
consensus of all mankind has definitely rele- 
gated to the lower category. And which 
Heaven has relegated to the lower region of 
our frame. He came now slinking towards 
the vestiges of the caravanners' picnic, and no 
one skilled in the interpretation of the human 
physiognomy could have failed to read the 
significance of the tongue tip that drifted over 
his thin oblique lips. He came so softly to- 



140 BEALBY 

wards the encampment that Bealby did not 
note him. Partly William thought of remnants 
of food but chiefly he was intent to drain the 
bottles. Bealby had stuck them all neatly 
in a row a little way up the hill. There was 
a cider bottle with some heel-taps of cider, 
William drank that ; then there was nearly half 
a bottle of hock and William drank that, then 
there were the drainings of the Burgundy and 
Apollinaris. It was all drink to William. 

And after he had drained each bottle William 
winked at the watching angels and licked his 
lips, and patted the lower centres of his being 
with a shameless base approval. Then fired 
by alcohol, robbed of his last vestiges of self- 
control, his thoughts turned to the delicious 
chocolates that were stored in a daintily be- 
ribboned box in the little drawers beneath the 
sleeping bunk of Miss Philips. There was a new- 
brightness in his eye, a spot of pink in either 
cheek. With an expression of the lowest 
cunning he reconnoitred Bealby. 

Bealby was busy about something at the 
back end of the caravan, tugging at something. 

With swift stealthy movements of an entirely 
graceless sort, William got up into the front of 
the caravan. 

Just for a moment he hesitated before going 
in. He craned his neck to look round the side 
at the unconscious Bealby, wrinkled the vast 



nose into an unpleasant grimace and then 
a crouching figure of appetite he crept inside. 

Here they were ! He laid his hand in the 
drawer, halted listening. . . . 

What was that ? . . . 

Suddenly the caravan swayed. He stumbled, 
and fear crept into his craven soul. The 
caravan lurched. It was moving. . . . Its 
hind wheels came to the ground with a 
crash. . . . 

He took a step doorward and was pitched 
sideways and thrown upon his knees. . . . 
Then he was hurled against the dresser and 
hit by a falling plate. A cup fell and smashed 
and the caravan seemed to leap and bound. . . . 

Through the little window he had a glimpse 
of yew bushes hurrying upward. The caravan 
was going downhill. . . . 

" Lummy ! " said William, clutching at the 
bunks to hold himself upright. . . . 

" Ca-arnt be that drink ! " said William, 
aspread and aghast. . . . 

He attempted the door. 

"Crikey! Here! Hold on! My shin! 
.... 'Tis thut Brasted Vool of a Boy ! " 
." said William. ". . . 




142 BEALBY 



The caravan party soon came to its decision. 
They would stay the night in the hotel. And 
so as soon as they had had some tea they 
decided to go back and make William bring the 
caravan and all the ladies' things round to the 
hotel. With characteristic eagerness Professor 
Bowles led the way. 

And so it was Professor Bowles who first saw 
the release of the caravan. He barked. One 
short sharp bark. " Whup ! " he cried, and 
very quickly, " Whatstheboy doing ? " 

Then quite a different style of noise, with the 
mouth open : " Wha hoop ! " 

Then he set off running very fast down 
towards the caravan, waving his arms and 
shouting as he ran, " Yaaps ! You Idiot. 
Yaaps ! " 

The others were less promptly active. 

Down the slope they saw Bealby, a little 
struggling active Bealby, tugging away at a 
yew branch until the caravan swayed with 
his efforts, and then then there was a move- 
ment as though the thing tossed its head and 
reared, and a smash as the heap of stuff that 
stayed up its hind wheels collapsed. . . . 

It plunged like a horse with a dog at its 
heels, it lurched sideways, and then with an 
air of quiet deliberation started down the 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 143 

grass slope to the road and Winthorpe- 
Sutbury. . . . 

Professor Bowles sped in pursuit like the 
wind, and Mrs. Bowles after a gasping moment 
set off after her lord, hei face round and resolute. 
Mr. Geedge followed at a more dignified pace, 
making the only really sound suggestion that 
was offered on the occasion. " Hue ! Stop 
it ! " cried Mr. Geedge, for all the world like 
his great prototype at the Balkan Conference. 
And then like a large languid pair of scissors he 
began to run. Mrs. Geedge after some indefinite 
moments decided to see the humour of it all, 
and followed her husband, in a fluttering rush, 
emitting careful little musical giggles as she 
ran, giggles that she had learnt long ago from 
a beloved schoolfellow. Captain Douglas and 
Miss Philips were some way behind the others, 
and the situation had already developed con- 
siderably before they grasped what was happen- 
ing. Then obeying the instincts of a soldier 
the Captain came charging to support the others, 
and Miss Madeleine Philips after some wasted 
gestures realized that nobody was looking at 
her, and sat down quietly on the turf until this 
paralysing state of affairs should cease. 

The caravan remained the centre of interest. 

Without either indecent haste or any complete 
pause it pursued its way down the road towards 
the tranquil village below. Except for the 



144 BEALBY 

rumbling of its wheels and an occasional con- 
cussion it made very little sound ; once or 
twice there was a faint sound of breaking 
crockery from its interior and once the phantom 
of an angry yell, but that was all. 

There was an effect of discovered personality 
about the thing. This vehicle which had 
hitherto been content to play a background 
part, a yellow patch amidst the scenery, was 
now revealing an individuality. It was pur- 
poseful and touched with a suggestion of play- 
fulness, at once kindly and human ; it had its 
thoughtful instants, its phases of quick decision, 
yet never once did it altogether lose a certain 
mellow r dignity. There was nothing servile 
about it ; never for a moment for example did 
it betray its blind obedience to gravitation. It 
was rather as if it and gravitation were going 
hand in hand. It came out into the road, 
butted into the bank, swept round, meditated 
for a full second, and then headed downhill, 
shafts foremost, going quietly faster and 
faster and swaying from bank to bank. The 
shafts went before it like arms held out. . . . 

It had a quality as if it were a favourite 
elephant running to a beloved master from 
whom it had been over-long separated. Or 
a slightly intoxicated and altogether happy 
yellow guinea-pig making for some coveted 
food. 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 145 

At a considerable distance followed Professor 
Bowles, a miracle of compact energy, running 
so fast that he seemed only to touch the ground 
at very rare intervals. . . . 

And then, dispersedly, in their order and 
according to their natures, the others. . . . 

There was fortunately very little on the road. 

There was a perambulator containing twins, 
whose little girl guardian was so lucky as 
to be high up on the bank gathering black- 
berries. 

A ditcher, ditching. 

A hawker lost in thought. 

His cart, drawn by a poor little black screw 
of a pony and loaded with the cheap flawed 
crockery that is so popular among the poor. 

A dog asleep in the middle of the village 
street. . . . 

Amidst this choice of objects the caravan 
displayed a whimsical humanity. It reduced 
the children in the perambulator to tears, 
but passed. It might have reduced them to a 
sort of red-currant jelly. It lurched heavily 
towards the ditcher and spared him, it chased 
the hawker up the bank, it whipped off a 
wheel from the cart of crockery (which after an 
interval of astonishment fell like a vast objurga- 
tion) and then it directed its course with a grim 
intentness towards the dog. 

It just missed the dog. 
10 



146 



BEALBY 



He woke up not a moment too soon. He 
fled with a yelp of dismay. 

And then the caravan careered on a dozen 
yards farther, lost energy and the only really 
undignified thing in its whole career stood on 
its head in a wide wet ditch. It did this with 
just the slightest lapse into emphasis. There ! 
It was as if it gave a grunt and perhaps there 
was the faintest suggestion of William in that 
grunt and then it became quite still. . . . 

For a time the caravan seemed finished and 
done. Its steps hung from its upper end like 
the tongue of a tired dog. Except for a few 
minute noises as though it was scratching 
itself inside, it was as inanimate as death 
itself. 

But up the hill road the twins were weeping, 
the hawker and the ditcher were saying raucous 
things, the hawker's pony had backed into 
the ditch and was taking ill-advised steps, for 
which it was afterwards to be sorry, amidst 
the stock-in-trade, and Professor Bowles, Mrs. 
Bowles, Mr. Geedge, Captain Douglas and Mrs. 
Geedge were running running one heard the 
various patter of their feet. 

And then came signs of life at the upward 
door of the caravan, a hand, an arm, an active 
investigating leg seeking a hold, a large nose, 
a small intent vicious eye ; in fact William. 

William maddened. 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 147 

Professor Bowles had reached the caravan. 
With a startling agility he clambered up by 
the wheels and step and confronted the un- 
fortunate driver. It was an occasion for mutual 
sympathy rather than anger, but the Professor 
was hasty, efficient and unsympathetic with 
the lower classes, and William's was an ill- 
regulated temperament. 

" You consummate ass ! " began Professor 
Bowles. . . . 

When William heard Professor Bowles say 
this, incontinently he smote him in the face, 
and when Professor Bowles was smitten in the 
face he grappled instantly and very bravely 
and resolutely with William. 

For a moment they struggled fearfully, they 
seemed to be endowed instantaneously with 
innumerable legs, and then suddenly they fell 
through the door of the caravan into the 
interior, their limbs seemed to whirl for a 
wonderful instant and then they were swallowed 
up. ... 

The smash was tremendous. You would 
not have thought there was nearly so much in 
the caravan still left to get broken. . . . 

A healing silence. . . . 

At length smothered noises of still inadequate 
adjustment within. . . . 

The village population in a state of scared 
delight appeared at a score of points and 



148 BEALBY 

converged upon the catastrophe. Sounds of re- 
newed dissension between William and the Pro- 
fessor inside the rearing yellow bulk, promised 
further interests and added an element of 
mystery to this manifest disaster. 

12 

As Bealby, still grasping his great branch of 
yew, watched these events, a sense of human 
futility invaded his youthful mind. For the 
first time he realized the gulf between intention 
and result. He had meant so well. . . . 

He perceived it would be impossible to ex- 
plain. . . . 

The thought of even attempting to explain 
things to Professor Bowles was repellent to 
him. . . . 

He looked about him with round despairful 
eyes. He selected a direction which seemed to 
promise the maximum of concealment with 
the minimum of conversational possibility, and 
in that direction and without needless delay 
he set off, eager to turn over an entirely fresh 
page in his destiny as soon as possible. . . . 

To get away, the idea possessed all his being. 

From the crest of the downs a sweet voice 
floated after his retreating form and never 
overtook him. 

" Di ick ! " 



THE UNOBTRUSIVE PARTING 149 

13 

Then presently Miss Philips arose to her feet, 
gathered her skirts in her hand, and with her 
delicious chin raised and an expression of 
countenance that was almost business-like, 
descended towards the gathering audience below. 
She wore wide flowing skirts and came down the 
hill in Artemisian strides. 

It was high time that somebody looked at 
her. 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH 



1 

ON the same Monday evening that wit- 
nessed Bealby's first experience of the 
theatre, Mr. Mergleson, the house steward of 
Shonts, walked slowly and thoughtfully across 
the corner of the park between the laundry 
and the gardens. His face was much recovered 
from the accidents of his collision with the 
Lord Chancellor, resort to raw meat in the 
kitchen had checked the development of his 
injuries, and only a few contusions in the side 
of his face were more than faintly traceable. 
And suffering had on the whole rather ennobled 
than depressed his bearing. He had a black 
eye, but it was not, he felt, a common black 
eye. It came from high quarters and through 
no fault of Mr. Mergleson's own. He carried 
it well. It was a fruit of duty rather than 
the outcome of wanton pleasure-seeking or 
misdirected passion. 

He found Mr. Darling in profound meditation 



i$o 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 151 

over some peach trees against the wall. They 
were not doing so well as they ought to do, 
and Mr. Darling was engaged in wondering 
why. 

" Good evening, Mr. Darling," said Mr. 
Mergleson. 

Mr. Darling ceased rather slowly to wonder 
and turned to his friend. " Good evening, Mr. 
Mergleson," he said. " I don't quite like the 
look of these here peaches, blowed if I do." 

Mr. Mergleson glanced at the peaches and 
then came to the matter that was nearest his 
heart. 

" You 'aven't I suppose seen anything of 
your stepson these last two days, Mr. Darling ? " 

" Naturally not," said Mr. Darling, putting 
his head on one side and regarding his inter- 
locutor. " Naturally not, I've left that to 
you, Mr. Mergleson." 

" Well, that's what's awkward," said Mr. 
Mergleson, and then, with a forced easiness, 
' You see, I ain't seen 'im either." 

" No ! " 

" No. I lost sight of 'im " Mr. Mergleson 
appeared to reflect " late on Sattiday night." 

" 'Ow's that, Mr. Mergleson ? " 

Mr. Mergleson considered the difficulties of 
lucid explanation. " We missed 'im," said 
Mr. Mergleson, simply regarding the well-weeded 
garden path with a calculating expression and 



152 BEALBY 

then lifting his eyes to Mr. Darling's with an 
air of great candour. " And we continue to 
miss him." 

" Well ! " said Mr. Darling. " That's rum." 

" Yes," said Mr. Mergleson. 

" It's decidedly rum," said Mr. Darling. 

" We thought 'e might be 'iding from 'is work. 
Or cut off 'ome." 

" You didn't send down to ask." 

" We was too busy with the week-end people. 
On the 'ole we thought if 'e 'ad cut 'ome, on the 
'ole 'e wasn't a very serious loss. 'E got in the 
way at times. . . . And there was one or two 

things 'appened . . . Now that they're all 

gone and 'e 'asn't turned up Well, I came 

down, Mr. Darling, to arst you. Where's 'e 
gone ? " 

" 'E ain't come 'ere," said Mr. Darling sur- 
veying the garden. 

" I 'arf expected 'e might and I 'arf expected 
'e mightn't," said Mr. Mergleson with the air of 
one who had anticipated Mr. Darling's answer 
but hesitated to admit as much. 

The two gentlemen paused for some seconds 
and regarded each other searchingly. 

" Where's 'e got to ? " said Mr. Darling. 

" Well," said Mr. Mergleson, putting his 
hands where the tails of his short jacket would 
have been if it hadn't been short and looking 
extraordinarily like a parrot in its more 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 153 

thoughtful moods, " to tell you the truth, Mr. 
Darling, I've 'ad a dream about 'im and it 
worries me. I got a sort of ideer of 'im as being 
in one of them secret passages. 'Iding away. 
There was a guest, well, I say it with all respec' 
but anyone might 'ave 'id from 'im. . . . 
S' morning soon as the week-end 'ad cleared up 
and gone 'ome, me and Thomas went through 
them passages as well as we could. Not a 
trace of 'im. But I still got that ideer. 'E 
was a wriggling, climbing, enterprising sort of 
boy." 

" I've checked 'im for it once or twice," said 
Mr. Darling with the red light of fierce memories 
gleaming for a moment in his eyes. 

" 'E might even," said Mr. Mergleson, " well, 
very likely 'ave got 'imself jammed in one of 
them secret passages. ..." 

" Jammed," repeated Mr. Darling. 

' Well got 'imself somewhere where 'e can't 
get out. I've 'eard tell there's walled-up 
dungeons." 

' They say," said Mr. Darling, " there's 
underground passages to the Abbey ruins 
three good mile away." 

" Orkward," said Mr. Mergleson. . . . 

" Drat 'is eyes ! " said Mr. Darling, scratching 
his head. " What does 'e mean by it ? " 

" We can't leave 'im there," said Mr. Mergle- 
son. 



154 BEALBY 

" I knowed a young devil once what crawled 
up a culvert," said Mr. Darling. " 'Is father 
'ad to dig 'im out like a fox. . . . Lord ! 'ow 'e 
walloped 'im for it." 

" Mistake to 'ave a boy in so young," said Mr. 
Mergleson. 

" It's all very awkward," said Mr. Darling, 
surveying every aspect of the case. "You 

see 'Is mother sets a most estrordinary 

value on 'im. Most estrordinary." 

" I don't know whether she oughtn't to be 
told," said Mr. Mergleson. " I was thinking of 
that." 

Mr. Darling was not the sort of man to meet 
trouble half-way. He shook his head at that. 
" Not yet, Mr. Mergleson. I don't think yet. 
Not until everything's been tried. I don't 
think there's any need to give her needless 
distress, none whatever. If you don't mind 
I think I'll come up to-night nineish say 
and 'ave a talk to you and Thomas about it a 
quiet talk. Best to begin with a quiet talk. 
It's a dashed rum go, and me and you we got to 
think it out a bit." 

" That's what I think," said Mr. Mergleson 
with unconcealed relief at Mr. Darling's friend- 
liness. " That's exactly the light, Mr. Darling, 
in which it appears to me. Because you see 
if 'e's all right and in the 'ouse, why doesn't 'e 
come for 'is vittels ? " 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 155 

3 

In the pantry that evening the question of 
telling someone was discussed further. It was 
discussed over a number of glasses of Mr. 
Mergleson's beer. For, following a sound tradi- 
tion, Mr. Mergleson brewed at Shonts, and 
sometimes he brewed well and sometimes he 
brewed ill, and sometimes he brewed weak and 
sometimes he brewed strong, and there was no 
monotony in the cups at Shonts. This was 
sturdy stuff and suited Mr. Darling's mood, 
and ever and again with an author's natural 
weakness and an affectation of abstraction 
Mr. Mergleson took the jug out empty and 
brought it back foaming. 

Henry, the second footman, was disposed to a 
forced hopefulness so as not to spoil the evening, 
but Thomas was sympathetic and distressed. 
The red-haired youth made cigarettes with a 
little machine, licked them and offered them 
to the others, saying little, as became him. 
Etiquette deprived him of an uninvited beer, 
and Mr. Mergleson's inattention completed what 
etiquette began. 

" I can't bear to think of the poor little 
beggar, stuck head foremost into some cob- 
webby cranny, blowed if I can," said Thomas, 
getting help from the jug. 

" He was an interesting kid," said Thomas 



156 BEALBY 

in a tone that was frankly obituary. " He 
didn't like his work, one could see that, 
but he was lively and I tried to help him 
along all I could, when I wasn't too busy 
myself." 

" There was something sensitive about him," 
said Thomas. 

Mr. Mergleson sat with his arms loosely 
thrown out over the table. 

" What we got to do is to tell someone," he 
said, " I don't see 'ow I can put off telling 'er 
ladyship after to-morrow morning. And then 
'eaven 'elp us ! " 

" Course / got to tell my missis," said Mr. 
Darling, and poured in a preoccupied way, 
some running over. 

" We'll go through them passages again now 
before we go to bed," said Mr. Mergleson, 
" far as we can. But there's 'oles and chinks 
on'y a boy could get through." 

" / got to tell the missis," said Mr. Darling. 
" That's what's worrying me. . . ." 

As the evening wore on there was a tendency 
on the part of Mr. Darling to make this the 
refrain of his discourse. He sought advice. 
" 'Ow'd you tell the missis ? " he asked Mr. 
Mergleson, and emptied a glass to control his 
impatience before Mr. Mergleson replied. 

" I shall tell 'er ladyship, just simply, the fact. 
I shall say, ' Your ladyship, here's my boy gone 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 157 

and we don't know where/ And as she arsts 
me questions so shall I give particulars." 

Mr. Darling reflected and then shook his 
head slowly. 

' 'Ow'd^w tell the missis ? " he asked Thomas. 

" Glad I haven't got to," said Thomas. 
" Poor little beggar ! " 

" Yes, but 'ow would you tell 'er ? " Mr. 
Darling said, varying the accent very carefully. 

" I'd go to 'er and I'd pat her back and I'd 
say ' Bear up,' see, and when she asked what 
for, I'd just tell her what for gradual like." 

' You don't know the missis," said Mr. 
Darling. " Henry, 'ow'd ju tell 'er ? " 

" Let 'er find out," said Henry. " Wimmin 
do." 

Mr. Darling reflected, and decided that too 
was unworkable. 

' 'Ow'd you ? " he asked with an air of 
desperation of the red-haired youth. 

The red-haired youth remained for a moment 
with his tongue extended, licking the gum of 
a cigarette paper, and his eyes on Mr. Darling. 
Then he finished the cigarette slowly, giving his 
mind very carefully to the question he had been 
honoured with. " I think," he said, in a low 
serious voice, " I should say, just simply, ' Mary ' 
' Susan ' or whatever her name is." 
Tilda," supplied Mr. Darling. 
' Tilda,' I should say, ' The Lord gave and 



158 BEALBY 

the Lord 'ath taken away. Tilda ! Vs gone/ 
Somethin' like that." 

The red-haired boy cleared his throat. He 
was rather touched by his own simple 
eloquence. 

Mr. Darling reflected on this with profound 
satisfaction for some moments. Then he broke 
out almost querulously, " Yes, but brast him ! 
where's 'e gone ? " 

" Anyhow," said Mr. Darling, " I ain't going 
to tell 'er not till the morning. I ain't going to 
lose my night's rest if I 'ave lost my stepson. 
Nohow. Mr. Mergleson, I must say, I don't 
think I ever 'ave tasted better beer. Never. 
It's it's famous beer." 

He had some more. . . . 

On his way back through the moonlight to 
the gardens Mr. Darling was still unsettled 
as to the exact way of breaking things to his 
wife. He had come out from the house a little 
ruffled because of Mr. Mergleson's opposition 
to a rather good idea of his that he should go 
about the house and " holler for 'im a bit. He'd 
know my voice you see. Ladyship wouldn't 
mind. Very likely 'sleep by now." But the 
moonlight dispelled his irritation. 

How was he to tell his wife ? He tried various 
methods to the listening moon. 

There was for example the offhand newsy 
way. " You know tha' boy yours ? " Then a 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 159 

pause for the reply. Then, ' ' 'E's toley dis- 
'peared." 

Only there are difficulties about the word 
totally. 

Or the distressed impersonal manner. " Dre'fle 
thing happen'd. Dre'fle thing. Tha' poo' lill' 
chap, Artie toley dis'peared." 

Totally again. 

Or the personal intimate note. " Dunno 
wha' you'll say t'me, Tilda, when you hear 
whattogottasay. Thur'ly bad news. Seems 
they los' our Artie up there clean los' 'im. 
Can't fine 'im nowhere 'tall." 

Or the authoritative kindly. " Tilda you 
go' control yourself. Go' show whadyou made 
of. Our boy 'e's hie /os'." 

Then he addressed the park at large with a 
sudden despair. " Don' care wha' I say, she'll 
blame it on to me. I know 'er ! " 

After that the enormous pathos of the situa- 
tion got hold of him. " Poor lill' chap," he 
said. " Poor lill' fell'," and shed a few natural 
tears. 

" Loved 'im jessis mione son." 

As the circumambient night made no reply 
he repeated the remark in a louder, almost 
domineering tone. . . . 

He spent some time trying to climb the 
garden wall because the door did not seem to be 
in the usual place. (Have to inquire about 



160 BEALBY 

that in the morning. Difficult to see every- 
thing is all right when one is so bereaved.) But 
finally he came on the door round a corner. 

He told his wife merely that he intended to 
have a peaceful night, and took off his boots in 
a defiant and intermittent manner. 

The morning would be soon enough. 

She looked at him pretty hard, and he looked 
at her ever and again, but she never made a guess 
at it. 

Bed. 

3 

So soon as the week-enders had dispersed 
and Sir Peter had gone off to London to attend 
to various matters affecting the peptonizing 
of milk and the distribution of baby soothers 
about the habitable globe, Lady Laxton went 
back to bed and remained in bed until midday 
on Tuesday. Nothing short of complete rest 
and the utmost kindness from her maid would, 
she felt, save her from a nervous breakdown of 
the most serious description. The festival had 
been stormy to the end. Sir Peter's ill-advised 
attempts to deprive Lord Moggeridge of 
alcohol had led to a painful struggle at lunch, 
and this had been followed by a still more un- 
pleasant scene between host and guest in the 
afternoon. " This is an occasion for tact," 
Sir Peter had said, and had gone off to tackle 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 161 

the Lord Chancellor, leaving his wife to the 
direst, best founded apprehensions. For Sir 
Peter's tact was a thing by itself, a mixture 
of misconception, recrimination and familiarity 
that was rarely well received. . . . 

She had had to explain to the Sunday dinner 
party that his lordship had been called away 
suddenly. " Something connected with the 
Great Seal," Lady Laxton had whispered in a 
discreet mysterious whisper. One or two simple 
hearers were left with the persuasion that the 
Great Seal had -been taken suddenly unwell 
and probably in a slightly indelicate manner. 
Thomas had to paint Mergleson's eye with 
grease-paint left over from some private 
theatricals. It had been a patched-up affair 
altogether, and before she retired to bed that 
night Lady Laxton had given way to her 
accumulated tensions and wept. 

There was no reason whatever why to wind 
up the day Sir Peter should have stayed in her 
room for an hour saying what he thought of 
Lord Moggeridge. She felt she knew quite 
well enough what he thought of Lord Mogger- 
idge, and on these occasions he always used a 
number of words that she did her best to believe, 
as a delicately brought-up woman, were un- 
familiar to her ears. . . . 

So on Monday, as soon as the guests had 
gone, she went to bed again and stayed there, 
ii 



162 BEALBY 

trying as a good woman should to prevent 
herself thinking of what the neighbours could 
be thinking and saying of the whole affair, 
by studying a new and very circumstantial 
pamphlet by Bishop Fowle on social evils, 
turning over the moving illustrations of some 
recent antivivisection literature and re-reading 
the accounts in the morning papers of a colliery 
disaster in the north of England. 

To such women as Lady Laxton, brought up 
in an atmosphere of refinement that is almost 
colourless and living a life troubled only by 
small social conflicts and the minor violence of 
Sir Peter, blameless to the point of complete 
uneventfulness, and secure and comfortable to 
the point of tedium, there is something amount- 
ing to fascination in the wickedness and suffer- 
ings of more normally situated people, there is 
a real attraction and solace in the thought of 
pain and stress, and as her access to any other 
accounts of vice and suffering was restricted 
she kept herself closely in touch with the more 
explicit literature of the various movements 
for human moralization that distinguish our 
age, and responded eagerly and generously to 
such painful catastrophes as enliven it. The 
counterfoils of her cheque-book witnessed to 
her gratitude for these vicarious sensations. 
She figured herself to herself in her day dreams 
as a calm and white and shining intervention 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 163 

checking and reproving amusements of an 
undesirable nature, and earning the tearful 
blessings of the mangled bye-products of in- 
dustrial enterprise. 

There is a curious craving for entire reality 
in the feminine composition, and there were 
times when in spite of these feasts of particulars, 
she wished she could come just a little nearer 
to the heady dreadfulnesses of life than simply 
writing a cheque against it. She would have 
liked to have actually seen the votaries of evil 
blench and repent before her contributions, to 
have herself unstrapped and revived and pitied 
some doomed and chloroformed victim of the 
so-called " scientist/' to have herself participated 
in the stretcher and the hospital and humanity 
made marvellous by enlistment under the red- 
cross badge. But Sir Peter's ideals of woman- 
hood were higher than his language, and he 
would not let her soil her refinement with any 
vision of the pain and evil in the world. " Sort 
of woman they want up there is a Trained 
Nurse," he used to say when she broached the 
possibility of going to some famine or disaster. 
" You don't want to go prying, old girl. . . ." 

She suffered, she felt, from repressed heroism. 
If ever she was to shine in disaster that disaster, 
she felt, must come to her, she might not go to 
meet it, and so you realize how deeply it stirred 
her, how it brightened her and uplifted her to 



164 BEALBY 

learn from Mr. Mergleson' s halting statements 
that perhaps, that probably, that almost 
certainly, a painful and tragical thing was 
happening even now within the walls of Shonts, 
that there was urgent necessity for action if 
anguish was to be witnessed before it had ended 
and life saved. 

She clasped her hands ; she surveyed her 
large servitor with agonized green-grey eyes. 

" Something must be done at once," she said. 
" Everything possible must be done. Poor 
little Mite ! " 

" Of course, my lady, 'e may 'ave run away ! " 

" Oh no ! " she cried, " he hasn't run away. 
He hasn't run away. How can you be so 
wicked, Mergleson ? Of course he hasn't run 
away. He's there now. And it's too dreadful.'' 

She became suddenly very firm and masterful. 
The morning's colliery tragedy inspired her 
imagination. 

" We must get pick-axes," she said. " We 
must organize search parties. Not a moment 
is to be lost, Mergleson not a moment. . . . 
Get the men in off the roads. Get everyone 
you can. ..." 

And not a moment was lost. The road men 
were actually at work in Shonts before their 
proper dinner-hour was over. 

They did quite a lot of things that afternoon. 
Every passage attainable from the dining-room 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 165 

opening was explored, and where these passages 
gave off chinks and crannies they were opened 
up with a vigour which Lady Laxton had greatly 
stimulated by an encouraging presence and 
liberal doses of whisky. Through their efforts 
a fine new opening was made into the library 
from the wall near the window, a hole big 
enough for a man to fall through, because one 
did, and a great piece of stonework was thrown 
down from the Queen Elizabeth tower exposing 
the upper portion of the secret passage to the 
light of day. Lady Laxton herself and the 
head housemaid went round the panelling 
with a hammer and a chisel, and called out 
" Are you there ? " and attempted an opening 
wherever it sounded hollow. The sweep was 
sent for to go up the old chimneys outside the 
present flues. Meanwhile Mr. Darling had 
been set with several of his men to dig for, 
discover, pick up and lay open the underground 
passage or disused drain, whichever it was, 
that was known to run from the corner of the 
laundry towards the old ice-house, and that 
was supposed to reach to the Abbey ruins. 
After some bold exploratory excavations this 
channel was located and a report sent at once 
to Lady Laxton. 

It was this and the new and alarming scar 
on the Queen Elizabeth tower that brought 
Mr. Beaulieu Plummer post-haste from the 



166 BEALBY 

estate office up to the house. Mr. Beaulieu 
Plummer was the Marquis of Cranberry's estate 
agent, a man of great natural tact, and charged 
among other duties with the task of seeing that 
the Laxtons did not make away with Shonts 
during the period of their tenancy. He was a 
sound compact little man, rarely out of ex- 
tremely riding breeches and gaiters, and he 
wore glasses, that now glittered with astonish- 
ment as he approached Lady Laxton and her 
band of spade workers. 

At his approach Mr. Darling attempted to 
become invisible, but he was unable to do so. 

" Lady Laxton," Mr. Beaulieu Plummer 
appealed, " may I ask ? " 

" Oh, Mr. Beaulieu Plummer, I'm so glad 
you've come. A little boy suffocating ! I can 
hardly bear it." 

" Suffocating ! " cried Mr. Beaulieu Plummer, 
" where ? " and was in a confused manner told. 

He asked a number of questions that Lady 
Laxton found very tiresome. But how did 
she know the boy was in the secret passages ? 
Of course she knew ; was it likely she would 
do all this if she didn't know ? But mightn't 
he have run away ? How could he when he 
was in the secret passages ? But why not 
first scour the countryside ? By which time 
he would be smothered and starved and 
dead ! . 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 167 

They parted with a mutual loss of esteem, 
and Mr. Beaulieu Plummer, looking very serious 
indeed, ran as fast as he could straight to the 
village telegraph-office. Or to be more exact 
he walked until he thought himself out of 
sight of Lady Laxton and then he took to his 
heels and ran. He sat for some time in the 
parlour post-office spoiling telegraph forms, 
and composing telegrams to Sir Peter Laxton 
and Lord Cranberry. 

He got these off at last, and then drawn 
by an irresistible fascination went back to the 
park and watched from afar the signs of fresh 
activities on the part of Lady Laxton. 

He saw men coming from the direction of 
the stables with large rakes. With these they 
dragged the ornamental waters. 

Then a man with a pick-axe appeared against 
the skyline and crossed the roof in the direction 
of the clock tower, bound upon some unknown 
but probably highly destructive mission. 

Then he saw Lady Laxton going off to the 
gardens. She was going to console Mrs. 
Darling in her trouble. This she did through 
nearly an hour and a half. And on the whole 
it seemed well to Mr. Beaulieu Plummer that 
so she should be occupied. . . . 

It was striking five when a telegraph boy 
on a bicycle came up from the village with a 
telegram from Sir Peter Laxton. 



168 BEALBY 

" Stop all proceedings absolutely/' it said, 
" until I get to you." 

Lady Laxton's lips tightened at the message. 
She was back from much weeping with Mrs. 
Darling and altogether finely strung. Here 
she felt was one of those supreme occasions 
when a woman must assert herself. " A matter 
of life or death," she wired in reply, and to 
show herself how completely she overrode 
such dictation as this, she sent Mr. Mergleson 
down to the village public-house with orders 
to engage anyone he could find there for an 
evening's work on an extraordinarily liberal 
overtime scale. 

After taking this step the spirit of Lady 
Laxton quailed. She went and sat in her own 
room and quivered. She quivered but she 
clenched her delicate fist. 

! She would go through with it, come what 
might, she would go on with the excavation 
all night if necessary, but at the same time 
she began a little to regret that she had not 
taken earlier steps to demonstrate the im- 
probability of Bealby having simply run away. 
She set to work to repair this omission. She 
wrote off to the Superintendent of Police in 
the neighbouring town, to the nearest magis- 
trate, and then on the off-chance to various 
of her week-end guests, including Captain 
Douglas. If it was true that he had organized 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 169 

the annoyance of the Lord Chancellor (and 
though she still rejected that view she did now 
begin to regard it as a permissible hypothesis), 
then he might also know something about the 
mystery of this boy's disappearance. 

Each letter she wrote she wrote with greater 
fatigue and haste than its predecessor and more 
illegibly. 

Sir Peter arrived long after dark. He cut 
across the corner of the park to save time, 
and fell into one of the trenches that Mr. 
Darling had opened. This added greatly to the 
eclat with which he came into the hall. 

Lady Laxton withstood him for five minutes 
and then returned abruptly to her bedroom 
and locked herself in, leaving the control of 
the operations in his hands. . . . 

" If he's not in the house," said Sir Peter, 
" all this is thunderin' foolery, and if he's in 
the house he's dead. If he's dead he'll smell 
in a bit and then'll be the time to look for him. 
Somethin' to go upon instead of all this blind 
hacking the place about. No wonder they're 
threatenin' proceedings. ..." 

4 

Upon Captain Douglas Lady Laxton's letter 
was destined to have a very distracting effect. 
Because as he came to think it over, as he 



170 BEALBY 

came to put her partly illegible allusions to 
secret passages and a missing boy side by side 
with his memories of Lord Moggeridge's accusa- 
tions and the general mystery of his expulsion 
from Shonts, it became more and more evident 
to him that he had here something remarkably 
like a clue, something that might serve to 
lift the black suspicion of irreverence and 
levity from his military reputation. And he 
had already got to the point of suggesting 
to Miss Philips that he ought to follow up 
and secure Bealby forthwith, before ever they 
came over the hill crest to witness the disaster 
to the caravan. 

Captain Douglas, it must be understood, 
was a young man at war within himself. 

He had been very nicely brought up, firstly 
in a charming English home, then in a pre- 
paratory school for selected young gentlemen, 
then in a good set at Eton, then at Sandhurst, 
where the internal trouble had begun to mani- 
fest itself. Afterwards the Bistershires. 

There were three main strands in the com- 
position of Captain Douglas. In the first place 
and what was peculiarly his own quality was 
the keenest interest in the why of things and 
the how of things and the general mechanism 
of things. He was fond of clocks, curious 
about engines, eager for science ; he had a quick 
brain and nimble hands. He read Jules Verne 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 171 

and liked to think about going to the stars 
and making flying machines and submarines 
in those days when everybody knew quite 
certainly that such things were impossible. 
His brain teemed with larval ideas that only 
needed air and light to become active full- 
fledged ideas. There he excelled most of us. 
In the next place, but this second strand was 
just a strand that most young men have, he 
had a natural keen interest in the other half 
of humanity, he thought them lovely, interest- 
ing, wonderful, and they filled him with warm 
curiosities and set his imagination cutting the 
prettiest capers. And in the third place and 
there again he was ordinarily human, he wanted 
to be liked, admired, approved, well thought 
of. ... And so constituted he had passed 
through the educational influence of that 
English home, that preparatory school, the 
good set at Eton, the Sandhurst discipline, 
the Bistershire mess. . . . 

Now the educational influence of the English 
home, the preparatory school, the good set at 
Eton and Sandhurst in those days though 
Sandhurst has altered a little since was all to 
develop that third chief strand of his being 
to the complete suppression of the others, 
to make him look well and unobtrusive, dress 
well and unobtrusively, behave well and un- 
obtrusively, carry himself well, play games 



172 BEALBY 

reasonably well, do nothing else well, and in 
the best possible form. And the two brothers 
Douglas, who were both really very much 
alike, did honestly do their best to be such 
plain and simple gentlemen as our country 
demands, taking pretentious established things 
seriously, and not being odd or intelligent in 
spite of those insurgent strands. 

But the strands were in them. Below the 
surface the disturbing impulses worked and at 
last forced their way out. . . . 

In one Captain Douglas, as Mrs. Rampound 
Pilby told the Lord Chancellor, the suppressed 
ingenuity broke out in disconcerting mysti- 
fications and practical jokes that led to a 
severance from Portsmouth, in the other the 
pent-up passions came out before the other 
ingredients in an uncontrollable devotion to 
the obvious and challenging femininity of 
Miss Madeleine Philips. . . . His training had 
made him proof against ordinary women, deaf 
as it were to their charms, but she she had 
penetrated. And impulsive forces that have 
been pent up go with a bang when they 
go. ... 

The first strand in the composition of Captain 
Douglas has still to be accounted for, the 
sinister strain of intelligence and inventiveness 
and lively curiosity. On that he had kept a 
warier hold. So far that had not been noted 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 173 

against him. He had his motor bicycle it is- 
true at a time when motor bicycles were on the 
verge of the caddish ; to that extent a watch- 
ful eye might have found him suspicious ; that 
was all that showed. I wish I could add it was 
all that there was, but other things other 
things were going on. Nobody knew about 
them. But they were going on more and 
more. 

He read books. 

Not decent fiction, not official biographies 
about other fellows' fathers and all the old 
anecdotes brought up to date and so on, but 
books with ideas, you know, philosophy, 
social philosophy, scientific stuff, all that rot. 
The sort of stuff they read in mechanics' institutes. 

He thought. He could have controlled it. 
But he did not attempt to control it. He tried 
to think. He knew perfectly well that it 
wasn't good form, but a vicious attraction 
drew him on. 

He used to sit in his bedroom-study at 
Sandhurst, with the door locked, and write 
down on a bit of paper what he really believed 
and why. He would cut all sorts of things 
to do this. He would question things no 
properly trained English gentleman ever 
questions. 

And he experimented. 

This you know was long before the French 



174 BEALBY 

and American aviators. It was long before the 
coming of that emphatic lead from abroad 
without which no well-bred English mind 
permits itself to stir. In the darkest secrecy 
he used to make little models of cane and 
paper and elastic in the hope that somehow he 
would find out something about flying. Flying 
that dream ! He used to go off by himself to 
lonely places and climb up as high as he could 
and send these things fluttering earthward. 
He used to moon over them and muse about 
them. If anyone came upon him suddenly 
while he was doing these things, he would sit 
on his model, or pretend it didn't belong to 
him or clap it into his pocket, whichever was 
most convenient, and assume the vacuous 
expression of a well-bred gentleman at leisure 
and so far nobody had caught him. But 
it was a dangerous practice. 

And finally, and this now is the worst and 
last thing to tell of his eccentricities, he was 
keenly interested in the science of his pro- 
fession and intensely ambitious. 

He thought though it wasn't his business 
to think, the business of a junior officer is to 
obey and look a credit to his regiment that the 
military science of the British army was not 
nearly so bright as it ought to be, and that if 
big trouble -came there might be considerable 
scope for an inventive man who had done what 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 175 

he could to keep abreast with foreign work, 
and a considerable weeding out of generals 
whose promotion had been determined entirely 
by their seniority, amiability and unruffled 
connubial felicity. He thought that the field 
artillery would be found out there was no 
good in making a fuss about it beforehand 
that no end of neglected dodges would have to 
be picked up from the enemy, that the transport 
was feeble, and a health service other than 
surgery and ambulance an unknown idea ; 
but he saw no remedy but experience. So he 
worked hard in secret ; he worked almost as 
hard as some confounded foreigner might have 
done ; in the belief that after the first horrid 
smash-up there might be a chance to do 
things. 

Outwardly of course he was sedulously all 
right. But he could not quite hide the stir in 
his mind. It broke out upon his surface in a 
chattering activity of incompleted sentences 
which he tried to keep as decently silly as he 
could. He had done his utmost hitherto to 
escape the observation of the powers that were. 
His infatuation for Madeleine Philips had at 
any rate distracted censorious attention from 
these deeper infamies. . . . 

And now here was a crisis in his life. Through 
some idiotic entanglement manifestly con- 
nected with this missing boy, he had got tarred 



176 BEALBY 

by his brother's brush and was under grave 
suspicion for liveliness and disrespect. 

The thing might be his professional ruin. 
And he loved the suppressed possibilities of his 
work beyond measure. 

It was a thing to make him absent-minded 
even in the company of Madeleine. 

5 

Not only were the first and second strands 
in the composition of Captain Douglas in 
conflict with all his appearances and preten- 
sions, but they were also in conflict with one 
another. 

He was full of that concealed resolve to do 
and serve and accomplish great things in the 
world. That was surely purpose enough to 
hide behind an easy-going unpretending gentle- 
manliness. But he was also tremendously 
attracted by Madeleine Philips, more par- 
ticularly when she was not there. 

A beautiful woman may be the inspiration 
of a great career. This however he was be- 
ginning to find was not the case with himself. 
He had believed it at first and written as much 
and said as much, and said it very variously 
and gracefully. But becoming more and more 
distinctly clear to his intelligence was the fact 
that the very reverse was the case. Miss 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 177 

Madeleine Philips was making it very manifest 
to Captain Douglas that she herself was a 
career ; that a lover with any other career in 
view need not as the advertisements say 
apply. 

And the time she took up ! 

The distress of being with her ! 

And the distress of not being with her ! 

She was such a proud and lovely and en- 
trancing and distressing being to remember, 
and such a vain and difficult thing to be with. 

She knew clearly that she was made for love, 
for she had made herself for love, and she went 
through life like its empress with all mankind 
and numerous women at her feet. And she 
had an ideal of the lover who should win her 
which was like an oleo-graphic copy of a Laszlo 
portrait of Douglas greatly magnified. He was 
to rise rapidly to great things, he was to be 
a conqueror and administrator, while attending 
exclusively to her. And incidentally she would 
gather desperate homage from all other men of 
mark, and these attentions would be an added 
glory to her love for him. At first Captain 
Douglas had been quite prepared to satisfy 
all these requirements. He had met her at 
Shorncliffe, for her people were quite good 
military people, and he had worshipped his 
way straight to her feet. He had made the 
most delightfully simple and delicate love to 
12 



178 BEALBY 

her. He had given up his secret vice of think- 
ing for the writing of quite surprisingly clever 
love-letters, and the little white paper models 
had ceased for a time to flutter in lonely places. 
And then the thought of his career returned 
to him, from a new aspect, as something he 
might lay at her feet. And once it had returned 
to him it remained with him. 

" Some day," he said, " and it may not be so 
very long, some of those scientific chaps will 
invent flying. Then the army will have to 
take it up, you know." 

" I should love," she said, " to soar through 
the air." 

He talked one day of going on active service. 
How would it affect them if he had to do so ? 
It was a necessary part of a soldier's lot. 

" But I should come too ! " she said. " I 
should come with you." 

" It might not be altogether convenient," 
he said, for already he had learnt that Madeleine 
Philips usually travelled with quite a large 
number of trunks and considerable impressive- 
ness. 

" Of course," she said, " it would be splendid ! 
How could I let you go alone ? You would 
be the great general and I should be with you 
always." 

" Not always very comfortable," he sug- 
gested. 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 179 

" Silly boy ! I shouldn't mind that \ How 
little you know me ! Any hardship ! " 

" A woman if she isn't a nurse " 

" I should come dressed as a man. I would 
be your groom. ..." 

He tried to think of her dressed as a man, 
but nothing on earth could get his imagination 
any further than a vision of her dressed as a 
Principal Boy. She was so delightfully and 
valiantly not virile ; her hair would have 
flowed, her body would have moved, a richly 
fluent femininity visible through any disguise. 

6 

That was in the opening stage of the contro- 
versy between their careers. In those days 
they were both acutely in love with each other. 
Their friends thought the spectacle quite 
beautiful ; they went together so well. Admirers, 
fluttered with the pride of participation, asked 
them for week-ends together ; those theatrical 
week-ends that begin on Sunday morning 
and end on Monday afternoon. She confided 
widely. 

And when at last there was something like 
a rupture it became the concern of a large circle 
of friends. 

The particulars of the breach were differently 
stated. It would seem that looking ahead he 



i8o BEALBY 

had announced his intention of seeing the 
French army manoeuvres just when it seemed 
probable that she would be out of an engage- 
ment. 

" But I ought to see what they are doing," 
he said. " They're going to try those new 
dirigibles." 

Then should she come ? 

He wanted to whisk about. It wouldn't 
be any fun for her. They might get landed at 
nightfall in any old hole. And besides people 

would talk Especially as it was in France. 

One could do unconventional things in England 
one couldn't in France. Atmosphere was 
different. 

For a time after that halting explanation she 
maintained a silence. Then she spoke in a 
voice of deep feeling. She perceived, she said, 
that he wanted his freedom. She would be 
the last person to hold a reluctant lover to her 
side. He might go to any manoeuvres. He 
might go if he wished round the world. He 
might go away from her for ever. She would 
not detain him, cripple him, hamper a career 
she had once been assured she inspired. . . . 

The unfortunate man torn between his love 
and his profession protested that he hadn't 
meant that. 

Then what had he meant ? 

He realized he had meant something re- 



markably like it, and he found great difficulty 
in expressing these fine distinctions. . . . 

She banished him from her presence for a 
month, said he might go to his manoeuvres 
with her blessing. As for herself, that was her 
own affair. Some day perhaps he might know 
more of the heart of a woman. . . . She 
choked back tears very beautifully, and 
military science suddenly became a trivial 
matter. But she was firm. He wanted to go. 
He must go. For a month anyhow. 

He went sadly. . . . 

Into this opening breach rushed friends. It 
was the inestimable triumph of Judy Bowles 
to get there first. To begin with Madeleine 
confided in her and then, availing herself of 
the privilege of a distant cousinship, she com- 
manded Douglas to tea in her Knightsbridge 
flat and had a good straight talk with him. 
She liked good straight talks with honest 
young men about their love affairs ; it was 
almost the only form of flirtation that the 
Professor, who was a fierce tough undiscrimin- 
ating man upon the essentials of matrimony, 
permitted her. And there was something 
peculiarly gratifying about Douglas's com- 
plexion. Under her guidance he was induced 
to declare that he could not live without 
Madeleine, that her love was the heart of his 
life, without it he was nothing and with it he 



182 BEALBY 

could conquer the world. . . . Judy per- 
mitted herself great protestations on behalf of 
Madeleine, and Douglas was worked up to the 
pitch of kissing her intervening hand. He had 
little silvery hairs, she saw, all over his temples. 
And he was such a simple perplexed dear. It 
was a rich beautiful afternoon for Judy. 

And then in a very obvious way Judy, who 
was already deeply in love with the idea of a 
caravan tour and the " wind on the heath " 
and the " Gipsy life " and the " open road " 
and all the rest of it, worked this charming 
little love difficulty into her scheme, utilized 
her reluctant husband to arrange for the 
coming of Douglas, confided in Mrs. Geedge. . . . 

And Douglas went off with his perplexities. 
He gave up all thought of France, week-ended 
at Shonts instead, to his own grave injury, 
returned to London unexpectedly by a Sunday 
train, packed for France and started. He 
reached Rheims on Monday afternoon. And 
then the image of Madeleine which always 
became more beautiful and mysterious and 
commanding with every mile he put between 
them would not let him go on. He made 
unconvincing excuses to the Daily Excess 
military expert with whom he was to have 
seen things " There's a woman in it, my boy, 
and you're a fool to go," said the Daily Excess 
man, " but of course you'll go, and I for one 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 183 

don't blame you " He hurried back to 

London and was at Judy's trysting-place even 
as Judy had anticipated. 

And when he saw Madeleine standing in the 
sunlight, pleased and proud and glorious, with 
a smile in her eyes and trembling on her lips, 
with a strand or so of her beautiful hair and 
a streamer or so of delightful blue fluttering in 
the wind about her gracious form, it seemed to 
him for the moment that leaving the manoeuvres 
and coming back to England was quite a right 
and almost a magnificent thing to do. 

7 

This meeting was no exception to their other 
meetings. 

The coming to her was a crescendo of poetical 
desire, the sight of her a climax and then an 
accumulation of irritations. 

He had thought being with her would be 
pure delight, and as they went over the down 
straying after the Bowles and the Geedges 
towards the Redlake Hotel he already found 
himself rather urgently asking her to marry him, 
and being annoyed by what he regarded as her 
evasiveness. 

He walked along with the restrained move- 
ment of a decent Englishman, he seemed as it 
were to gesticulate only through his clenched 



184 BEALBY 

teeth, and she floated beside him, in a blue 
dress that with a wonderful foresight she 
had planned for breezy uplands on the basis 
of Botticelli's Primavera. He was urging her 
to marry him soon ; he needed her, he could 
not live in peace without her. It was not at 
all what he had come to say ; he could not 
recollect that he had come to say anything, 
but now that he was with her it was the only 
thing he could find to say to her. 

" But, my dearest boy," she said, " how are 
we to marry ? What is to become of your 
career and my career ? " 

" I've left my career ! " cried Captain 
Douglas with the first clear note of irritation in 
his voice. 

" Oh ! don't let us quarrel," she cried. 
" Don't let us talk of all those distant things. 
Let us be happy. Let us enjoy just this lovely 
day and the sunshine and the freshness and 
the beauty. . . . Because you know we are 
snatching these days. We have so few days 
together. Each each must be a gem. . . . 
Look, dear, how the breeze sweeps through 
these tall dry stems that stick up everywhere 
low broad ripples." 

She was a perfect work of art, abolishing 
time and obligations. 

For a time they walked in silence. Then 
Captain Douglas said, " All very well beauty 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 185 

and all that but a fellow likes to know where 
he is." 

She did not answer immediately and then 
she said, " I believe you are angry because you 
have come away from France." 

" Not a bit of it," said the Captain stoutly. 
" I'd come away from anywhere to be with 
you." 

" I wonder," she said. 

" Well, haven't I ? " 

" I wonder if you ever are with me. . . . 
Oh ! I know you want me. I know you desire 
me. But the real thing, the happiness, love. 
What is anything to love anything at all ? " 

In this strain they continued until their 
footsteps led them through the shelter of a 
group of beeches. And there the gallant 
Captain sought expression in deeds. He kissed 
her hands, he sought her lips. She resisted 
softly. 

" No," she said, " only if you love me with 
all your heart." 

Then suddenly, wonderfully, conqueringly 
she yielded him her lips. 

" Oh ! " she sighed presently, " if only you 
understood." 

And leaving speech at that enigma she 
kissed again. . . . 

But you see now how difficult it was under 
these mystically loving conditions to introduce 



186 BEALBY 

the idea of a prompt examination and dispatch 
of Bealby. Already these days were conse- 
crated. . . . 

And then you see Bealby vanished going 
seaward. . . . 

Even the crash of the caravan disaster did 
little to change the atmosphere. In spite of a 
certain energetic quality in the Professor's 
direction of the situation he was a little 
embittered because his thumb was sprained 
and his knee bruised rather badly and he had 
a slight abrasion over one ear and William had 
bitten his calf the general disposition was to 
treat the affair hilariously. Nobody seemed 
really hurt except William, the Professor was 
not so much hurt as annoyed and William's 
injuries though striking were all superficial, a 
sprained jaw and grazes and bruises and little 
things like that ; everybody was heartened 
up to the idea of damages to be paid for ; and 
neither the internal injuries to the caravan 
nor the hawker's estimate of his stock-in-trade 
proved to be as great as one might reasonably 
have expected. Before sunset the caravan 
was safely housed in the Winthorpe-Sutbury 
public-house, William had found a congenial 
corner in the bar parlour, where his account 
of an inside view of the catastrophe and his 
views upon Professor Bowles were much appreci- 
ated, the hawker had made a bit extra by 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 187 

carting all the luggage to the Redlake Royal 
Hotel, and the caravanners and their men-folk 
had loitered harmoniously back to this refuge. 
Madeleine had walked along the road beside 
Captain Douglas and his motor bicycle, which 
he had picked up at the now desolate encamp- 
ment. 

'' It only remains," she said, " for that thing 
to get broken." 

" But I may want it," he said. 

" No," she said, " Heaven has poured us 
together and now He has smashed the vessels. 
At least He has smashed one of the vessels. 
And look ! like a . great shield, there is the 
moon. It's the Harvest Moon, isn't it ? " 

" No," said the Captain, with his poetry 
running away with him. " It's the Lovers' 
Moon." 

" It's like a benediction rising over our 
meeting." 

And it was certainly far too much like a 
benediction for the Captain to talk about 
Bealby. 

That night was a perfect night for lovers, 
a night flooded with a kindly radiance, so that 
the warm mystery of the centre of life seemed 
to lurk in every shadow, and hearts throbbed 
instead of beating and eyes were stars. After 
dinner everyone found wraps and slipped out 
into the moonlight ; the Geedges vanished like 



i88 BEALBY 

moths ; the Professor made no secret that 
Judy was transfigured for him. Night works 
these miracles. The only other visitors there, 
a brace of couples, resorted to the boats upon 
the little lake. 

Two enormous waiters removing the coffee 
cups from the small tables upon the veranda 
heard Madeleine's beautiful voice for a little 
while/and then it was stilled. . . . 

8 

The morning found Captain Douglas in a 
state of reaction. He was anxious to explain 
quite clearly to Madeleine how necessary it was 
that he should go in search of Bealby forth- 
with. He was beginning to realize now just what 
a chance in the form of Bealby had slipped 
through his fingers. He had dropped Bealby, 
and now the thing to do was to pick up Bealby 
again before he was altogether lost. Her pro- 
fessional life unfortunately had given Miss 
Philips the habit of never rising before midday, 
and the Captain had to pass the time as well 
as he could until the opportunity for his explana- 
ation came. 

A fellow couldn't go off without an explana- 
tion. . . . 

He passed the time with Professor Bowles 
upon the golf-links. 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 189 

The Professor was a first-rate player and an 
unselfish one ; he wanted all other players to 
be as good as himself. He would spare no pains 
to make them so. If he saw them committing 
any of the many errors into which golfers fall 
he would tell them of it and tell them why it 
was an error, and insist upon showing them 
just how to avoid it in future. He would point 
out any want of judgment, and not confine 
himself as so many professional golf teachers 
do merely to the stroke. After a time he found 
it necessary to hint to the Captain that nowadays 
a military man must accustom himself to self- 
control. The Captain kept Pishing and Tush- 
ing and presently it was only too evident 
swearing softly ; his play got jerky, his strokes 
were forcible without any real strength, once 
he missed the globe altogether and several 
times he sliced badly. The eyes under his 
light eyelashes were wicked little things. 

He remembered that he had always detested 
golf. 

And the Professor. He had always detested 
the Professor. 

And his caddie ; at least he would have always 
detested his caddie if he had known him long 
enough. His caddie was one of those madden- 
ing boys with no expression at all. It didn't 
matter what he did or failed to do, there was 
the silly idiot with his stuffed face, unmoved. 



igo BEALBY 

Really of course overjoyed but apparently 
unmoved. . . . 

" Why did I play it that way ? " the Captain 
repeated. " Oh ! because I like to play it that 
way." 

"WeU," said the Professor. "It isn't a 
recognized way anyhow. ..." 

Then came a moment of evil pleasure. 

He sliced. Old Bowles sliced. For once 
in a while he'd muffed something. Always 
teaching others and here he was slicing ! 
Why, sometimes the Captain didn't slice ! . . . 

He'd get out of that neatly enough. Luck ! 
He'd get the hole yet. What a bore it all 
was ! . . . 

Why couldn't Madeleine get up at a decent 
hour to see a fellow ? Why must she lie in bed 
when she wasn't acting ? If she had got up 
ah 1 this wouldn't have happened. The shame of 
it ! Here he was, an able-bodied capable man 
in the prime of life and the morning of a day 
playing this blockhead's game ! 

Yes blockhead's game ! 
' You play the like," said the Professor. 

" Rather'' said the Captain and addressed 
himself to his stroke. 

' That's not your ball," said the Professor. 

" Similar position," said the Captain. 
' You know, you might win this hole," 
said the Professor. 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 191 

' Who cares ? " said the Captain under his 
breath and putted extravagantly. 

" That saves me," said the Professor and 
went down from a distance of twelve yards. 

The Captain, full of an irrational resentment, 
did his best to halve the hole and failed. 

" You ought to put in a week at nothing 
but putting," said the Professor. " It would 
save you at least a stroke a hole. I've noticed 
that on almost every green, if I haven't beaten 
you before I pull up in the putting." 

The Captain pretended not to hear and said 
a lot of rococo things inside himself. 

It was Madeleine who had got him in for this 
game. A beautiful healthy girl ought to get 
up in the mornings. Mornings and beautiful 
healthy girls are all the same thing really. She 
ought to be dewy positively dewy. . . . There 
she must be lying, warm and beautiful in bed 
like Catherine the Great or somebody of that 
sort. No. It wasn't right. All very luxurious 
and so on but not right. She ought to have 
understood that he was bound to fall a prey 
to the Professor if she didn't get up. Golf ! 
Here he was, neglecting his career ; hanging 
about on these beastly links, all the sound men 
away there in France it didn't do to think of 
it ! and he was playing this retired tradesman's 
consolation ! 

(Beastly the Professor's legs looked from 



iga BEALBY 

behind. The uglier a man's legs are the better 
he plays golf. It's almost a law.) 

That's what it was, a retired tradesman's 
consolation. A decent British soldier has no 
more business to be playing golf than he has to 
be dressing dolls. It's a game at once worthless 
and exasperating. If a man isn't perfectly fit 
he cannot play golf, and when he is perfectly fit 
he ought to be doing a man's work in the world. 
If ever anything deserved the name of vice, 
if ever anything was pure, unforgivable dissipa- 
tion, surely golf was that thing. . . . 

And meanwhile that boy was getting more and 
more start. Anyone with a ha'porth of sense 
would have been up at five and after that brat 
might have had him bagged and safe and back 
to lunch. Ass one was at times ! 

" You're here, sir," said the caddie. 

The Captain perceived he was in a nasty 
place, open green ahead but with some tumbled 
country near at hand and to the left, a rusty old 
gravel pit, furze at the sides, water at the 
bottom. Nasty attractive hole of a place. 
Sort of thing one gets into. He must pull 
himself together for this. After all, having 
undertaken to play a game one must play the 
game. If he hit the infernal thing, that is to 
say the ball, if he hit the ball so that if it didn't 
go straight it would go to the right rather 
clear of the hedge it wouldn't be so bad to the 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 193 

right. Difficult to manage. Best thing was 
to think hard of the green ahead, a long way 
ahead, with just the slightest deflection to 
the right. Now then, heels well down, club up, 
a good swing, keep your eye on the ball, keep 
your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the 
ball just where you mean to hit it far below 
there and a little to the right and don't 
worry. . . . 

Rap. 

" In the pond I think, sir." 
' The water would have splashed if it had 
gone in the pond," said the Professor. " It 
must be over there in the wet sand. You hit it 
pretty hard, I thought." 

Search. The caddie looked as though he 
didn't care whether he found it or not. He 
ought to be interested. It was his profession, 
not just his game. But nowadays everybody 
had this horrid disposition towards slacking. 
A Tired generation we are. The world is too 
much with us. Too much to think about, too 
much to do, Madeleines, army manoeuvres, angry 
lawyers, lost boys let alone such exhausting 
foolery as this game. . . . 

" Got it, sir ! " said the caddie. 

" Where ? " 

" Here, sir ! Up in the bush, sir ! " 

It was resting in the branches of a bush two 
yards above the slippery bank. 
13 



BEALBY 

" I doubt if you can play it," said the Pro- 
fessor, " but it will be interesting to try." 

The Captain scrutinized the position. " I 
can play it," he said. 

" You'll slip, I'm afraid," said the Professor. 

They were both right. Captain Douglas 
drove his feet into the steep slope of rusty sand 
below the bush, held his iron a little short and 
wiped the ball up and over and as he found 
afterwards out of the rough. All eyes followed 
the ball except his. The Professor made 
sounds of friendly encouragement. But the 
Captain was going going. He was on all 
fours, he scrabbled handfuls of prickly gorse, 
of wet sand. His feet, his ankles, his calves 
slid into the pond. How much more ? No. 
He'd reached the bottom. He proceeded to 
get out again as well as he could. Not so 
easy. The bottom of this pond sucked at 
him. . . . 

When at last he rejoined the other three his 
hands were sandy red, his knees were sandy 
red, his feet were of clay, but his face was like 
the face of a little child. Like the face of a 
little fair child after it has been boiled red in 
its bath and then dusted over with white 
powder. His ears were the colour of roses, 
Lancaster roses. And his eyes too had some- 
thing of the angry wonder of a little child 
distressed. 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 195 

" I was afraid you'd slip into the pond," said 
the Professor. 

" I didn't," said the Captain. 

" I just got in to see how deep it was and cool 
my feet I hate warm feet." 

He lost that hole but he felt a better golfer 
now, his anger he thought was warming him 
up so that he would presently begin to make 
strokes by instinct and do remarkable things 
unawares. After all there is something in the 
phrase " getting one's blood up." If only the 
Professor wouldn't dally so with his ball and 
let one's blood get down again. Tap ! the 
Professor's ball went soaring. Now for it. 
The Captain addressed himself to his task, 
altered his plans rather hastily, smote and 
topped the ball. 

The least one could expect was a sympathetic 
silence. But the Professor thought fit to im- 
prove the occasion. 

" You'll never drive," said the Professor, 
" you'll never drive with that irritable jerk in 
the middle of the stroke. You might just as 
well smack the ball without raising your club. 
If you think " 

The Captain lost his self-control altogether. 

" Look here," he said, " if you think that / 
care a single rap about how I hit the ball, if 
you think that I really want to win and do 



196 BEALBY 

well at this beastly silly elderly childish 
game " 

He paused on the verge of ungentlemanly 
language. 

" If a thing's worth doing at all," said the 
Professor after a pause for reflection, " it's 
worth doing well." 

" Then it isn't worth doing at all. As this 
hole gives you the game if you don't mind " 

The Captain's hot moods were so rapid that 
already he was acutely ashamed of himself. 

" Oh certainly if you wish it," said the Pro- 
fessor. 

With a gesture the Professor indicated the 
altered situation to the respectful caddies, and 
the two gentlemen turned their faces towards 
the hotel. 

For a time they walked side by side in 
silence, the caddies following with hushed ex- 
pressions. 

" Splendid weather for the French man- 
oeuvres," said the Captain presently in an off- 
hand tone, " that is to say if they are getting 
this weather." 

" At present there are a series of high-pressure 
systems over the whole of Europe north of the 
Alps," said the Professor. " It is as near set 
fair as Europe can be." 

" Fine weather for tramps and wanderers," 
said the Captain after a further interval. 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 197 

" There's a drawback to everything," said 
the Professor. " But it's very lovely weather." 

9 

They got back to the hotel about half-past 
eleven and the Captain went and had an un- 
pleasant time with one of the tyres of his motor 
bicycle which had got down in the night. In 
replacing the tyre he pinched the top of one 
of his fingers rather badly. Then he got the 
ordnance map of the district and sat at a green 
table in the open air in front of the hotel 
windows and speculated on the probable flight 
of Bealby. He had been last seen going south 
by east. That way lay the sea, and all boy 
fugitives go naturally for the sea. 

He tried to throw himself into the fugitive's 
mind and work out just exactly the course 
Bealby must take to the sea. 

For a time he found this quite an absorbing 
occupation. 

Bealby probably had no money or very little 
money. Therefore he would have to beg or 
steal. He wouldn't go to the workhouse be- 
cause he wouldn't know about the workhouse, 
respectable poor people never know anything 
about the workhouse, and the chances were he 
would be both too honest and too timid to steal. 
He'd beg. He'd beg at front doors because of 



198 BEALBY 

dogs and things and he'd probably go along a 
high road. He'd be more likely to beg from 
houses than from passers-by because a door 
is at first glance less formidable than a pedestrian 
and more accustomed to being addressed. And 
he'd try isolated cottages rather than the 
village street doors, an isolated wayside cottage 
is so much more confidential. He'd ask for 
food not money. All that seemed pretty 
sound. 

Now this road on the map into it he was 
bound to fall and along it he would go begging. 
No other ? . . . No. 

In the fine weather he'd sleep out. And he'd 
go ten, twelve, fourteen thirteen, thirteen 
miles a day. 

So now, he ought to be about here. And 
to-night, here. 

To-morrow at the same pace, here. 

But suppose he got a lift ! . . . 

He'd only get a slow lift if he got one at all. 
It wouldn't make much difference in the cal- 
culation. . . . 

So if to-morrow one started and went on to 
these cross roads marked Inn, just about 
twenty-six miles it must be by the scale, and 
beat round it one ought to get something in the 
way of tidings of Mr. Bealby. Was there any 
reason why Bealby shouldn't go on south by 
east and seaward ? , 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 199 

None. 

And now there remained nothing to do but 
to explain all this clearly to Madeleine. And 
why didn't she come down ? Why didn't she 
come down ? 

But when one got Bealby what would one do 
with him ? 

Wring the truth out of him half by threats 
and half by persuasion. Suppose after all he 
hadn't any connexion with the upsetting of 
Lord Moggeridge ? He had. Suppose he hadn't. 
He had. He had. He had. 

And when one had the truth ? 

Whisk the boy right up to London and con- 
front the Lord Chancellor with the facts. But 
suppose he wouldn't be confronted with the 
facts. He was a touchy old sinner. . . . 

For a time Captain Douglas baulked at this 
difficulty. Then suddenly there came into his 
head the tall figure, the long moustaches of that 
kindly popular figure, his adopted uncle Lord 
Chickney. Suppose he took the boy straight 
to Uncle Chickney, told him the whole story. 
Even the Lord Chancellor would scarcely refuse 
ten minutes to General Lord Chickney. . . . 

The clearer the plans of Captain Douglas 
grew the more anxious he became to put 
them before Madeleine clearly and convinc- 
ingly. . . . 

Because first he had to catch his boy. . . . 



200 BEALBY 

Presently as Captain Douglas fretted at the 
continued eclipse of Madeleine, his thumb went 
into his waistcoat pocket and found a piece of 
paper. He drew it out and looked at it. It 
was a little piece of stiff note-paper cut into 
the shape of a curved V rather after the fashion 
of a soaring bird. It must have been there 
for months. He looked at it. His care- 
wrinkled brow relaxed. He glanced over his 
shoulder at the house and then held this little 
scrap high over his head and let go. It de- 
scended with a slanting flight curving round 
to the left, and then came about and swept 
down to the ground to the right. . . . Now 
why did it go like that ? As if it changed its 
mind. He tried it again. Same result. . . . 
Suppose the curvature of the wings was a little 
greater ? Would it make a more acute or 
a less acute angle ? He did not know. . . . 
Try it. 

He felt in his pocket for a piece of paper, 
found Lady Laxton's letter, produced a stout 
pair of nail scissors in a sheath from his waistcoat 
pocket, selected a good clear sheet, and set 
himself to cut out his improved V. ... 

As he did so his eyes were on V number one, 
on the ground. It would be interesting to see 
if this thing turned about to the left again. If 
in fact it would go on zig-zagging. It ought 
he felt to do so. But to test that one ought 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 201 

to release it from some higher point so as 
to give it a longer flight. Stand on the 
chair ? . . . 

Not in front of the whole rotten hotel. And 
there was a beastly looking man in a green 
apron coming out of the house, the sort of 
man who looks at you. He might come up 
and watch ; these fellows are equal to anything 
of that sort. Captain Douglas replaced his 
scissors and scraps in his pockets, leaned back 
with an affectation of boredom, got up, lit a 
cigarette sort of thing the man in the green 
apron would think all right and strolled off 
towards a clump of beech trees, beyond which 
were bushes and a depression. There perhaps 
one might be free from observation. Just try 
these things for a bit. That point about the 
angle was a curious one ; it made one feel one's 
ignorance not to know that. . . . 

10 

The ideal King has a careworn look, he rules, 
he has to do things, but the ideal Queen is 
radiant happiness, tall and sweetly dignified, 
simply she has to be things. And when at 
last towards midday Queen Madeleine dispelled 
the clouds of the morning and came shining 
back into the world that waited outside her 
door, she was full of thankfulness for herself 



202 BEALBY 

and for the empire that was given her. She 
knew she was a delicious and wonderful thing, 
she knew she was well done, her hands, the 
soft folds of her dress as she held it up, the 
sweep of her hair from her forehead pleased 
her, she lifted her chin but not too high for 
the almost unenvious homage in the eyes of the 
housemaid on the staircase. Her descent was 
well timed for the lunch gathering of the hotel 
guests ; there was " Ah ! here she comes at 
last ! " and there was her own particular court 
out upon the verandah before the entrance, 
Geedge and the Professor and Mrs. Bowles 
and Mrs. Geedge coming across the lawn, and 
the lover ? 

She came on down and out into the sunshine. 
She betrayed no surprise. The others met her 
with flattering greetings that she returned 
smilingly. But the lover ? 

He was not there ! 

It was as if the curtain had gone up on 
almost empty stalls. 

He ought to have been worked up and 
waiting tremendously. He ought to have spent 
the morning in writing a poem to her or in 
writing a delightful poetical love - letter she 
could carry away and read, or in wandering 
alone and thinking about her. He ought to 
be feeling now like the end of a vigil. He 
ought to be standing now, a little in the back- 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 203 

ground and with that pleasant flush of his 
upon his face and that shy, subdued, re- 
luctant look that was so infinitely more flatter- 
ing than any boldness of admiration. And 
then she would go towards him, for she was a 
giving type, and hold out both hands to him, 
and he, as though he couldn't help it, in spite 
of all his British reserve, would take one and 
hesitate which made it all the more marked 
and kiss it. ... 

Instead of which he was just not there. . . . 
No visible disappointment dashed her bravery. 
She knew that at the slightest flicker Judy and 
Mrs. Geedge would guess and that anyhow the 
men would guess nothing. " I've rested," she 
said, " I've rested delightfully. What have 
you all been doing ? " 

Judy told of great conversations, Mr. Geedge 
had been looking for trout in the stream, Mrs. 
Geedge with a thin little smile said she had 
been making a few notes and she added 
the word with deliberation " observations," 
and Professor Bowles said he had had a round 
of golf with the Captain. " And he lost ? " 
asked Madeleine. 

" He's careless in his drive and impatient at 
the greens," said the Professor modestly. 

" And then ? " 

" He vanished," said the Professor, recognizing 
the true orientation of her interest. 



204 BEALBY 

There was a little pause and Mrs. Geedge said, 
" You know " and stopped short. 

Interrogative looks focused upon her. 

" It's so odd," she said. 

Curiosity increased. 

" I suppose one ought not to say," said Mrs. 
Geedge, " and yet why shouldn't one ? " 

" Exactly," said Professor Bowles and every- 
one drew a little nearer to Mrs. Geedge. 

" One can't help being amused," she said. 
" It was so extraordinary." 

" Is it something about the Captain ? " 
asked Madeleine. 

" Yes. You see, he didn't see me." 

" Is he is he writing poetry ? " Madeleine 
was much entertained and relieved at the 
thought. That would account for every- 
thing. The poor dear ! He hadn't been able 
to find some rhyme ! 

But one gathered from the mysterious airs 
of Mrs. Geedge that he was not writing 
poetry. ' You see," she said, " I was lying 
out there among the bushes, just jotting down 
a few little things, and he came by. And 
he went down into the hollow out of sight. . . . 
And what do you think he is doing ? You'd 
never guess ? He's been at it for twenty 
minutes." 

They didn't guess. 

" He's playing with little bits of paper 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 205 

oh ! like a kitten plays with dead leaves. 
He throws them up and they flutter to the 
ground and then he pounces on them.'* 

" But " said Madeleine. And then very 

brightly, " Let's go and see ! " 

She was amazed. She couldn't understand. 
She hid it under a light playfulness, that 
threatened to become distraught. Even when 
presently, after a very careful stalking of 
the dell under the guidance of Mrs. Geedge, 
with the others in support, she came in sight 
of him, she still found him incredible. There 
was her lover, her devoted lover, standing on 
the top bar of a fence, his legs wide apart 
and his body balanced with difficulty, and in 
his fingers poised high was a little scrap of 
paper. This was the man who should have been 
waiting in the hall with feverish anxiety. 
His fingers released the little model and down 
it went drifting. . . . 

He seemed to be thinking of nothing else 
in the world. She might never have been 
born ! . . . 

Some noise, some rustle, caught his ear. 
He turned his head quickly, guiltily, and saw 
her and her companions. 

And then he crowned her astonishment. No 
love-light leapt to his eyes ; he uttered no 
cry of joy. Instead he clutched wildly at the 
air, shouted, " Oh damn ! " and came down 



206 BEALBY 

with a complicated inelegance on all fours upon 
the ground. 

He was angry with her angry ; she could 
see that he was extremely angry. 

" 

So it was that the incompatibilities of man 
and woman arose again in the just recovering 
love -dream of Madeleine Philips. But now 
the discord was far more evident than it had 
been at the first breach. 

Suddenly her dear lover, her flatterer, her 
worshipper, had become a strange averted 
man. He scrabbled up two of his paper 
scraps before he came towards her, still with 
no love-light in his eyes. He kissed her hand 
as if it was a matter of course and said almost 
immediately : "I've been hoping for you all 
the endless morning. I've had to amuse my- 
self as best I can." 

His tone was resentful. He spoke as if he 
had a claim upon her, upon her attentions. 
As if it wasn't entirely upon his side that 
obligations lay. 

She resolved that shouldn't deter her from 
being charming. 

And all through the lunch she was as charm- 
ing as she could be, and under such treatment 
that rebellious ruffled quality vanished from 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 207 

his manner, vanished so completely that she 
could wonder if it had really been evident at 
any time. The alert servitor returned. 

She was only too pleased to forget the dis- 
appointment of her descent and forgive him, 
and it was with a puzzled incredulity that she 
presently saw his " difficult " expression re- 
turning. It was an odd little knitting of the 
brows, a faint absent-mindedness, a filming of 
the brightness of his worship. He was just 
perceptibly indifferent to the charmed and 
charming things he was saying. 

It seemed best to her to open the question 
herself. " Is there something on your mLid, 
Dot ? " 

" Dot " was his old school nickname. 

" Well no not exactly on my mind. But 

It's a bother of course. There's that confounded 
boy. . . ." 

" Were you trying some sort of divination 
about him ? With those pieces of paper ? " 

"No. That was different. That was just 

something else. But you see that boy 

Probably clear up the whole of the Moggeridge 
bother and you know it is a bother. Might 
turn out beastly awkward. ..." 

It was extraordinarily difficult to express. 
He wanted so much to stay with her and he 
wanted so much to go. 

But all reason, all that was expressible, all 



208 BEALBY 

that found vent in words and definite sugges- 
tions was on the side of an immediate pursuit 
of Bealby. So that it seemed to her he wanted 
and intended to go much more definitely than 
he actually did. 

That divergence of purpose flawed a beautiful 
afternoon, cast chill shadows of silences over 
their talk, arrested endearments. She was 
irritated. About six o'clock she urged him 
to go ; she did not mind, anyhow she had 
things to see to, letters to write, and she left 
him with an effect of leaving him for ever. 
He went and overhauled his motor bicycle 
thoroughly, and then an aching dread of 
separation from her arrested him. 

Dinner, the late June sunset and the moon 
seemed to bring them together again. Almost 
harmoniously he was able to suggest that he 
should get up very early the next morning, 
pursue and capture Bealby and return for 
lunch. 

" You'd get up at dawn ! " she cried. " But 
how perfectly Splendid the midsummer dawn 
must be." 

Then she had an inspiration. " Dot ! " she 
cried, " I will get up at dawn also and come 
with you. . . . Yes, but as you say he cannot 
be more than thirteen miles away we'd catch 
him warm in his little bed somewhere. And 
the freshness ! The dewy freshness ! " 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 209 

And she laughed her beautiful laugh and 
said it would be " Such Fun ! ' ! entering as 
she supposed into his secret desires and making 
the most perfect of reconciliations. They were 
to have tea first, which she would prepare with 
the caravan lamp and kettle. Mrs. Geedge 
would hand it over to her. 

She broke into song. " A Hunting we will 
go ooh," she sang. " A Hunting we will 

go " 

But she could not conquer the churlish under- 
side of the Captain's nature even by such 
efforts. She threw a glamour of vigour and 
fun over the adventure, but some cold streak 
in his composition was insisting all the time 
that as a boy hunt the attempt failed. Various 
little delays hi her preparations prevented a 
start before half-past seven, he let that weigh 
with him, and when sometimes she clapped her 
hands and ran and she ran like a deer, and 
sometimes she sang, he said something about 
going at an even pace. 

At a quarter-past one Mrs. Geedge observed 
them returning. They were walking abreast 
and about six feet apart, they bore themselves 
grimly after the manner of those who have 
delivered ultimata and they conversed no 
more. . . . 

In the afternoon Madeleine kept her own 
room exhausted, and Captain Douglas sought 
14 



BEALBY 

opportunities of speaking to her in vain. His 
face expressed distress and perplexity, with 
momentary lapses into wrathful resolution, 
and he evaded Judy and her leading questions 
and talked about the weather with Geedge. 
He declined a proposal of the Professor's to 
go round the links, with especial reference to 
his neglected putting. " You ought to, you 
know," said the Professor. 

About half-past three and without any 
publication of his intention, Captain Douglas 
departed upon his motor bicycle. . . . 

Madeleine did not reappear until dinner- 
time, and then she was clad in lace and gaiety 
that impressed the naturally very good obser- 
vation of Mrs. Geedge as unreal. 

12 

The Captain, a confusion of motives that 
was as it were a mind returning to chaos, 
started upon his motor bicycle. He had seen 
tears in her eyes. Just for one instant, but 
certainly they were, tears. Tears of vexation. 
Or sorrow ? (Which is the worse thing for a 
lover to arouse, grief or resentment ?) But 
this boy must be caught, because if he was 
not caught a perpetually developing story of 
imbecile practical joking upon eminent and 
influential persons would eat like a cancer into 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 211 

the Captain's career. And if his career was 
spoilt what sort of thing would he be as a 
lover ? Not to mention that he might never 
get a chance then to try flying for military 
purposes. ... So anyhow, anyhow this boy 
must be caught. But quickly, for women's 
hearts are tender, they will not stand exposure 
to hardship. There is a kind of unreasonable- 
ness natural to goddesses. Unhappily this 
was an expedition needing wariness, delibera- 
tion, and one brought to it a feverish hurry 
to get back. There must be self-control 
There must be patience. Such occasions try 
the soldierly quality of a man. . . . 

It added nothing to the Captain's self-control 
that after he had travelled ten miles he found 
he had forgotten his quite indispensable map 
and had to return for it. Then he was seized 
again with doubts about his inductions and 
went over them again, sitting by the roadside. 
(There must be patience.) ... He went on at 
a pace of thirty-five miles an hour to the Inn 
he had marked upon his map as Bealby's limit 
for the second evening. It was a beastly little 
inn, it stewed tea for the Captain atrociously, 
and it knew nothing of Bealby. In the adjacent 
cottages also they had never heard of Bealby. 
Captain Douglas revised his deductions for the 
third time and came to the conclusion that he 
had not made a proper allowance for Wednesday 



212 BEALBY 

afternoon. Then there was all Thursday, and 
the longer, lengthening part of Friday. He 
might have done thirty miles or more already. 
And he might have crossed this corner in- 
conspicuously. 

Suppose he hadn't after all come along this 
road ! 

He had a momentary vision of Madeleine 
with eyes brightly tearful. " You left me for 
a Wild Goose Chase," he fancied her saying. . . . 

One must stick to one's job. A soldier more 
particularly must stick to his job. Consider 
Balaclava. . . . 

He decided to go on along this road and try 
the incidental cottages that his reasoning led 
him to suppose were the most likely places at 
which Bealby would ask for food. It was a 
business demanding patience and politeness. 

So a number of cottagers, for the greater part 
they were elderly women past the fiercer rush 
and hurry of life, grandmothers and ancient 
dames or wives at leisure with their children 
away at the Council schools, had a caller that 
afternoon. Cottages are such lonely places in 
the daytime that even district visitors and 
canvassers are godsends, and only tramps ill- 
received. Captain Douglas ranked high in the 
scale of visitors. There was something about 
him, his fairness, a certain handsomeness, his 
quick colour, his active speech, which interested 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 213 

women at all times, and now an indefinable 
flow of romantic excitement conveyed itself to 
his interlocutors. He encountered the utmost 
civility everywhere, doors at first tentatively 
ajar opened wider at the sight of him, and there 
was a kindly disposition to enter into his 
troubles lengthily and deliberately. They 
listened attentively to his demands, and before 
they testified to Bealby's sustained absence 
from their perception they would for the most 
part ask numerous questions in return. They 
wanted to hear the Captain's story, the reason 
for his research, the relationship between himself 
and the boy, they wanted to feel something of 
the sentiment of the thing. After that was the 
season for negative facts. Perhaps when every- 
thing was stated they might be able to conjure 
up what he wanted. He was asked in to have 
tea twice, for he looked not only pink and 
dusty but dry, and one old lady said that years 
ago she had lost just such a boy as Bealby 
seemed to be " Ah ! not in the way you have 
lost him " and she wept, poor old dear ! and 
was only comforted after she had told the 
Captain three touching but extremely lengthy 
and detailed anecdotes of Bealby's vanished 
prototype. 

(Fellow cannot rush away, you know ; still 
all this sort of thing, accumulating, means a 
confounded lot of delay.) 



214 BEALBY 

And then there was a deaf old man. ... A 
very, very tiresome deaf old man who said at 
first he had seen Bealby. . . . 

After all the old fellow was deaf. . . . 

The sunset found the Captain on a breezy 
common forty miles away from the Redlake 
Royal Hotel and by this time he knew that 
fugitive boys cannot be trusted to follow the 
lines even of the soundest inductions. This 
business meant a search. 

Should he pelt back to Redlake and start 
again more thoroughly on the morrow ? 

A moment of temptation. 

If he did he knew she wouldn't let him go. 

No I 

NO! 

He must make a sweeping movement through 
the country to the left, trying up and down 
the roads that, roughly speaking, radiated from 
Redlake between the twenty-fifth and the 
thirty-fifth milestone. . . . 

It was night and high moonlight when at 
last the Captain reached Crayminster, that 
little old town decayed to a village, in the 
Grays valley. He was hungry, dispirited, quite 
unsuccessful and here he resolved to eat and 
rest for the night. 

He would have a meal, for by this time he 
was ravenous, and then go and talk in the bar 
or the tap about Bealby. 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 215 

Until he had eaten he felt he could not endure 
the sound of his own voice repeating what had 
already become a tiresome stereotyped formula ; 
' You haven't I suppose seen or heard any- 
thing during the last two days of a small boy 
little chap of about thirteen wandering 
about ? He's a sturdy resolute little fellow 
with a high colour, short wiry hair, rather 
dark. . . ." 

The White Hart at Crayminster after some 
negotiations produced mutton cutlets and 
Australian hock. As he sat at his meal in the 
small ambiguous respectable dining-room of 
the inn adorned with framed and glazed beer 
advertisements, crinkled paper fringes and in- 
sincere sporting prints he became aware of a 
murmurous confabulation going on in the bar 
parlour. It must certainly, he felt, be the bar 
parlour. . . . 

He could not hear distinctly, and yet it 
seemed to him that the conversational style of 
Crayminster was abnormally rich in expletive. 
And the tone was odd. It had a steadfast 
quality of commination. 

He brushed off a crumb from his jacket, lit 
a cigarette and stepped across the passage to 
put his hopeless questions. 

The talk ceased abruptly at his appearance. 

It was one of those deep-toned bar parlours 
that are so infinitely more pleasant to the eye 



2i6 BEALBY 

than the tawdry decorations of the genteel 
accommodation. It was brown with a trimming 
of green paper hops and it had a mirror and 
glass shelves sustaining bottles and tankards. 
Six or seven individuals were sitting about the 
room. They had a numerous effect. There 
was a man in very light floury tweeds, with a 
floury bloom on his face and hair and an anxious 
depressed expression. He was clearly a baker. 
He sat forward as though he nursed something 
precious under the table. Next him v/as a 
respectable-looking, regular-featured, fair man 
with a large head, and a ruddy-faced butcher- 
like individual smoked a clay pipe by the side 
of the fireplace A further individual with an 
alert intrusive look might have been a grocer's 
assistant associating above himself. 

" Evening," said the Captain. 

" Evening," said the man with the large head 
guardedly. 

The Captain came to the hearthrug with an 
affectation of ease. 

" I suppose," he began, " that you haven't 
any of you seen anything of a small boy, 
wandering about. He's a little chap about 
thirteen. Sturdy, resolute-looking little fellow 
with a high colour, short wiry hair, rather 
dark. . . ." 

He stopped short arrested by the excited 
movements of the butcher's pipe and by 



THE SEEKING OF BEALBY 217 

the changed expressions of the rest of the 
company. 

' We we seen 'im," the man with the big 
head managed to say at last. 

" We seen 'im all right," said a voice out of 
the darkness beyond the range of the lamp. 

The baker with the melancholy expression 
interjected, " I don't care if I don't ever see 
'im again." 

" Ah ! " said the Captain, astonished to find 
himself suddenly beyond hoping on a hot fresh 
scent. " Now all that's very interesting. 
Where did you see him ? " 

" Thunderin' vicious little varmint," said 
the butcher. " Owdacious." 

"Mr. Benshaw," said the voice from the 
shadows, " 'E's arter 'im now with a shot gun 
loaded up wi' oats. 'E'll pepper 'im if 'e gets 
'im, Bill will, you bet your 'at. And serve 'im 
jolly well right tew." 

" I doubt," said the baker, " I doubt if I'll 
ever get my stummik not thoroughly proper 
again. It's a Blow I've 'ad. 'E give me a 
Blow. Oh ! Mr. 'Orrocks, could I trouble you 
for another thimbleful of brandy ? Just a 
thimbleful neat. It eases the ache. ." 



CHAPTER THE SIXTH 
BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 



BEALBY was loth to leave the caravan 
party even when by his own gross negli- 
gence it had ceased to be a caravan party. He 
made off regretfully along the crest of the hills 
through bushes of yew and box until the clamour 
of the disaster was no longer in his ears. Then 
he halted for a time and stood sorrowing and 
listening, and then turned up by a fence along 
the border of a plantation and so came into a 
little overhung road. 

His ideas of his immediate future were vague 
in the extreme. He was a receptive expecta- 
tion. Since his departure from the gardener's 
cottage circumstances had handed him on. 
They had been interesting but unstable circum- 
stances. He supposed they would still hand 
him on. So far as he had any definite view 
about his intentions it was that he was running 
away to sea. And that he was getting hungry. 

It was also, he presently discovered, getting 

218 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 219 

dark very gently and steadily. And the over- 
hung road after some tortuosities expired 
suddenly upon the bosom of a great grey empty 
common with distant mysterious hedges. 

It seemed high time to Bealby that something 
happened of a comforting nature. 

Always hitherto something or someone had 
come to his help when the world grew dark and 
cold, and given him supper and put him or sent 
him to bed. Even when he had passed a night 
in the interstices of Shonts he had known there 
was a bed at quite a little distance under the 
stairs. If only that loud Voice hadn't shouted 
curses whenever he moved he would have gone 
to it. But as he went across this common in 
the gloaming it became apparent that this 
amiable routine was to be broken. For the 
first time he realized the world could be a 
homeless world. 

And it had become very still. 

Disagreeably still, and full of ambiguous 
shadows. 

That common was not only an unsheltered 
place, he felt, but an unfriendly place, and he 
hurried to a gate at the farther end. He kept 
glancing to the right and to the left. It would 
be pleasanter when he had got through that 
gate and shut it after him. 

In England there are no grey wolves. 

Yet at times one thinks of wolves, grey 



220 BEALBY 

wolves, the colour of twilight and running 
noiselessly, almost noiselessly, at the side of 
their prey for quite a long time before they 
close in on it. 

In England, I say, there are no grey wolves. 

Wolves were extinguished in the reign of 
Edward the Third ; it was in the histories, and 
since then no free wolf has trod the soil of 
England ; only menagerie captives. 

Of course there may be escaped wolves ! 

Now the gate ! sharp through it and slam 
it behind you, and a little brisk run and so into 
this plantation that slopes downhill. This is 
a sort of path, vague, but it must be a path. 
Let us hope it is a path. 

What was that among the trees ? 

It stopped, surely it stopped, as Bealby 

stopped. Pump, pump Of course ! that 

was one's heart. 

Nothing there ! Just fancy. Wolves live in 
the open ; they do not come into woods like 
this. And besides, there are no wolves. And 
if one shouts even if it is but a phantom 
voice one produces, they go away. They are 
cowardly things really. Such as there aren't. 

And there is the power of the human eye. 

Which is why they stalk you and watch you 
and evade you when you look, and creep and 
creep and creep behind you ! 

Turn sharply. 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 221 

Nothing. 

How this stuff rustled under the feet ! In 
woods at twilight, with innumerable things 
darting from trees and eyes watching you 
everywhere, it would be pleasanter if one could 
walk without making quite such a row. 
Presently surely, Bealby told himself, he would 
come out on a high road and meet other people 
and say " Good-night " as they passed. Jolly 
other people they would be, answering, " Good- 
night." He was now going at a moistening trot. 
It was getting darker and he stumbled against 
things. ' 

When you tumble down wolves leap. Not of 
course that there are any wolves. 

It was stupid to keep thinking of wolves in 
this way. Think of something else. Think 
of things beginning with a B. Beautiful 
things, boys, beads, butterflies, bears. The mind 
stuck at bears. Are there such things as long 
grey bears ? Ugh ! Almost endless, noiseless 
bears ? . . . 

It grew darker until at last the trees were 
black. The night was swallowing up the 
flying Bealby and he had a preposterous per- 
suasion that it had teeth and would begin at 
the back of his legs. . . . 



222 BEALBY 

2 

" Hi ! " cried Bealby weakly, hailing the 
glow of the fire out of the darkness of the 
woods above. 

The man by the fire peered at the sound, 
he had been listening to the stumbling footsteps 
for some time, and he answered nothing. 

In another minute Bealby had struggled 
through the hedge into the visible world and 
stood regarding the man by the fire. The 
phantom wolves had fled beyond Sirius. But 
Bealby's face was pale still from the terrors of 
the pursuit and altogether he looked a smallish 
sort of small boy. 

" Lost ? " said the man by the fire. 

" Couldn't find my way," said Bealby. 

" Anyone with you ? " 

" No." 

The man reflected. " Tired ? " 

" Bit." 

" Come and sit down by the fire and rest 
yourself." 

" I won't 'urt you," he added as Bealby 
hesitated. 

So far in his limited experience Bealby had 
never seen a human countenance lit from 
behind by a flickering red flame. The effect 
he found remarkable rather than pleasing. It 
gave him the most active and unstable counten- 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 223 

ance Bealby had ever seen. The nose seemed 
to be in active oscillation between Pug and 
Roman, the eyes jumped out of black caves 
and then went back into them, the more per- 
manent features appeared to be a vast triangle 
of neck and chin. The tramp would have 
impressed Bealby as altogether inhuman if it had 
not been for the smell of cooking he diffused. 
There were onions in it and turnips and pepper 
mouth-watering constituents, testimonials to 
virtue. He was making a stew in an old can 
that he had slung on a cross stick over a 
brisk fire of twigs that he was constantly 
replenishing. 

" I won't 'urt you, darn you," he repeated. 
" Come and sit down on these leaves here for a 
bit and tell me all abart it." 

Bealby did as he was desired. " I got lost," 
he said, feeling too exhausted to tell a good 
story. 

The tramp, examined more closely, became 
less pyrotechnic. He had a large loose mouth, 
a confused massive nose, much long fair hair, a 
broad chin with a promising beard and spots 
a lot of spots. His eyes looked out of deep 
sockets and they were sharp little eyes. He 
was a lean man. His hands were large and 
long and they kept on with the feeding of the 
fire as he sat and talked to Bealby. Once or 
twice he leant forward and smelt the pot 



224 BEALBY 

judiciously, but all the time the little eyes 
watched Bealby very closely. 

" Lose yer collar ? " said the tramp. 

Bealby felt for his collar. " I took it orf," 
he said. 

" Come far ? " 

" Over there," said Bealby. 

" Where ? " 

" Over there." 

" What place ? " 

" Don't know the name of it." 

" Then it ain't your 'ome ? " 

" No." 

" You've run away," said the man. 

" P'raps I 'ave," said Bealby. 

" P'raps you 'ave ! Why p'raps ? You 
'ave \ What's the good of telling lies about 
it ? When d'you start ? " 

" Monday," said Bealby. 

The tramp reflected. " Had about enough 
of it ? " 

" Dunno," said Bealby truthfully. 

" Like some soup ? " 

" Yes." 

" 'Ow much ? " 

" I could do with a lot," said Bealby. 

" Ah yah ! I didn't mean that. I meant, 
'ow much for some ? 'Ow much will you pay 
for a nice, nice 'arf can of soup ? I ain't 
a darn charity. See ? " 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 225 

1 Tuppence," said Bealby. 

The tramp shook his head slowly from side 
to side and took out the battered iron spoon 
he was using to stir the stuff and tasted the 
soup lusciously. It was jolly good soup and 
there were potatoes in it. 
' Thrippence," said Bealby. 

" 'Ow much you got ? " asked the tramp. 

Bealby hesitated perceptibly. " Sixpence," 
he said weakly. 

" It's sixpence," said the tramp. " Pay 
up." 

' 'Ow big a can ? " asked Bealby. 

The tramp felt about in the darkness behind 
him and produced an empty can with a jagged 
mouth that had once contained, the label 
witnessed I quote, I do not justify ' Deep 
Sea Salmon' "That," he said, "and this 
chunk of bread. . . . Right enough ? " 

" You will do it ? " said Bealby. 

" Do I look a swindle ? " cried the tramp, 
and suddenly a lump of the abundant hair 
fell over one eye in a singularly threatening 
manner. Bealby handed over the sixpence 
without further discussion. " I'll treat you 
fairly, you see," said the tramp, after he had 
spat on and pocketed the sixpence, and he did 
as much. He decided that the soup was 
ready to be served and he served it with care. 
Bealby began at once. " There's a nextry 
15 



226 BEALBY 

onion," said the tramp, throwing one over. 
" It didn't cost me much and I gives it you 
for nothin'. That's all right, eh ? Here's 
'earth ! " 

Bealby consumed his soup and bread meekly 
with one eye upon his host. He would, he 
decided, eat all he could and then sit a little 
while, and then get this tramp to tell him 
the way to anywhere else. And the tramp 
wiped soup out of his can with gobbets of 
bread very earnestly and meditated sagely on 
Bealby. 

' You better pal in with me, matey, for a 
bit," he said at last. " You can't go nowhere 
else not to-night." 

" Couldn't I walk perhaps to a town or 
sumpthing ? " 

" These woods ain't safe." 
' 'Ow d'you mean ? " 

" Ever 'eard tell of a gurrillia ? sort of big 
black monkey thing." 

" Yes," said Bealby faintly. 
' There's been one loose abat 'ere oh week 
or more. Fact. And if you wasn't a grown 
up man quite and going along in the dark, 
well 'e might say something to you. ... Of 
course 'e wouldn't do nothing where there was 
a fire or a man but a little chap like you. I 
wouldn't like to let you do it, 'strewth I wouldn't. 
It's risky. Course I don't want to keep you. 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 227 

There it is. You go if you like. But I'd 
rather you didn't. 'Onest." 

" Where' d he come from ? " asked Bealby. 

" M'nagery," said the tramp. 

" 'E very near bit through the fist of a chap 
that tried to stop 'im," said the tramp. 

Bealby after weighing tramp and gorilla 
very carefully in his mind decided he wouldn't, 
and drew closer to the fire but not too close 
and the conversation deepened. 

3 

It was a long and rambling conversation 
and the tramp displayed himself at times as 
quite an amiable person. It was a discourse 
varied by interrogations, and as a thread of 
departure and return it dealt with the life 
of the road and with life at large and life, 
and with matters of " must " and " may." 

Sometimes and more particularly at first 
Bealby felt as though a ferocious beast lurked 
in the tramp and peeped out through the 
fallen hank of hair and might leap out upon 
him, and sometimes he felt the tramp was 
large and fine and gay and amusing, more 
particularly when he lifted his voice and his 
bristling chin. And ever and again the talker 
became a nasty creature and a disgusting 
creature, and his red-lit face was an ugly creep- 



228 BEALBY 

ing approach that made Bealby recoil. And 
then again he was strong and wise. So the 
unstable needle of a boy's moral compass spins. 

The tramp used strange terms. He spoke 
of the "deputy" and the "doss-house," of the 
" spike" and " padding the hoof," of " scree vers " 
and "tarts" and "copper's narks." To these 
words Bealby attached such meanings as he 
could, and so the things of which the tramp 
talked floated unsurely into his mind and again 
and again he had to readjust and revise his 
interpretations. And through these dim and 
fluctuating veils a new side of life dawned 
upon his consciousness, a side that was strange 
and lawless and dirty in every way dirty 
and dreadful and attractive. That was the 
queer thing about it, that attraction. It had 
humour. For all its squalor and repulsiveness 
it was lit by defiance and laughter, bitter 
laughter perhaps but laughter. It had a gaiety 
that Mr. Mergleson for example did not possess, 
it had a penetration, like the penetrating 
quality of onions or acids or asafcetida, that 
made the memory of Mr. Darling insipid. 

The tramp assumed from the outset that 
Bealby had ' done something ' and run away, 
and some mysterious etiquette prevented his 
asking directly what was the nature of his 
offence. But he made a number of insidious 
soundings. And he assumed that Bealby was 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 229 

taking to the life of the road and that, until 
good cause to the contrary appeared, they were 
to remain together. " It's a tough life," he said, 
" but it has its points, and you got a toughish 
look about you." 

He talked of roads and the quality of roads 
and countryside. This was a good country- 
side ; it wasn't overdone and there was no 
great hostility to wanderers and sleeping out. 
Some roads the London to Brighton for 
example if a chap struck a match somebody 
came running. But here unless you went 
pulling the haystacks about too much they left 
you alone. And they weren't such dead nuts 
on their pheasants, and one had a chance 
of an empty cowshed. " If I've spotted a shed 
or anything with a roof to it I stay out," said 
the tramp, " even if it's raining cats and dogs. 
Otherwise it's the doss-'ouse or the * spike.' 
It's the rain is the worst thing getting wet. 
You haven't been wet yet, not if you only 
started Monday. Wet with a chilly wind 
to drive it. Gaw ! I been blown out of a 
holly hedge. You would think there' d be 
protection in a holly hedge. ..." 

" Spike's the last thing," said the tramp, 
' I'd rather go bare-gutted to a doss-'ouse any- 
when. Gaw ! you've not 'ad your first taste 
of the spike yet." 

But it wasn't heaven in the doss-houses. He 



230 BEALBY 

spoke of several of the landladies in strange 
but it would seem unflattering terms. " And 
there's always such a blamed lot of washing 
going on in a doss-'ouse. Always washing they 
are ! One chap's washing 'is socks and another's 
washing 'is shirt. Making a steam drying it. 
Disgustin'. Carn't see what they want with 
it all. Band to git dirty again. . . ." 

He discoursed of spikes, that is to say of 
workhouses, and of masters. " And then," 
he said with revolting yet alluring adjectives, 
" there's the bath." 

" That's the worst side of it," said the 
tramp. ..." 'Owever it doesn't always rain, 
and if it doesn't rain, well, you can keep your- 
self dry." 

He came back to the pleasanter aspects of the 
nomadic life. He was all for the outdoor style. 
" Ain't we comfortable 'ere ? " he asked. He 
sketched out the simple larcenies that had 
contributed and given zest to the evening's 
meal. But it seemed there were also doss- 
houses that had the agreeable side. " Never 
been in one ! " he said. " But where you 
been sleeping since Monday ? " 

Bealby described the caravan in phrases 
that seemed suddenly thin and anaemic to his 
ears. 

" You hit it lucky," said the tramp. " If a 
chap's a kid he strikes all sorts of luck of that 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 231 

sort. Now ef / come up against three ladies 
travellin' in a van think they'd arst me in ? 
Not it ! " 

He dwelt with manifest envy on the situation 
and the possibilities of the situation for some 
time. " You ain't dangerous," he said ; 
" that's where you get in. . . ." 

He consoled himself by anecdotes of remark- 
able good fortunes of a kindred description. 
Apparently he sometimes travelled in the 
company of a lady named Izzy Berners " a 
fair scorcher, been a regular, slap-up circus 
actress." And there was also " good old 
Susan." It was a little difficult for Bealby 
to see the point of some of these flashes by a 
tendency on the part of the tramp while his 
thoughts turned on these matters to adopt a 
staccato style of speech, punctuated by brief, 
darkly significant guffaws. There grew in the 
mind of Bealby a vision of the doss-house as a 
large crowded place, lit by a great central fire, 
with much cooking afoot and much jawing 
and disputing going on, and then " me and 
Izzy sailed in. . . ." 

The fire sank, the darkness of the woods 
seemed to creep nearer. The moonlight pierced 
the trees only in long beams that seemed 
to point steadfastly at unseen things, it made 
patches of ashen light that looked like watching 
faces. Under the tramp's direction Bealby 



232 BEALBY 

skirmished round and got sticks and fed the 
fire until the darkness and thoughts of a possible 
gorilla were driven back for some yards and 
the tramp pronounced the blaze a " fair treat." 
He had made a kind of bed of leaves which he 
now invited Bealby to extend and share, and 
lying feet to the fire he continued his discourse. 

He talked of stealing and cheating by various 
endearing names ; he made these enterprises 
seem adventurous and facetious ; there was it 
seemed a peculiar sort of happy find one came 
upon called a " flat," that it was not only 
entertaining but obligatory to swindle. He 
made fraud seem so smart and bright at times 
that Bealby found it difficult to keep a firm 
grasp on the fact that it was fraud. . . . 

Bealby lay upon the leaves close up to the 
prone body of the tramp, and his mind and 
his standards became confused. The tramp's 
body was a dark but protecting ridge on one 
side of him ; he could not see the fire beyond 
his toes but its flickerings were reflected by 
the tree stems about them, and made perplexing 
sudden movements that at times caught his 
attention and made him raise his head to 
watch them. . . . Against the terrors of the 
night the tramp had become humanity, the 
species, the moral basis. His voice was full 
of consolation ; his topics made one forget 
the watchful silent circumambient. Bealby's 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 233 

first distrusts faded. He began to think the 
tramp a fine, brotherly, generous fellow. He 
was also growing accustomed to a faint some- 
thing shall I call it an olfactory bar that 
had hitherto kept them apart. The monologue 
ceased to devote itself to the elucidation of 
Bealby ; the tramp was lying on his back 
with his fingers interlaced beneath his head 
and talking not so much to his companion as 
to the stars and the universe at large. His 
theme was no longer the wandering life simply 
but the wandering life as he had led it, and 
the spiritedness with which he had led it and 
the real and admirable quality of himself. 
It was that soliloquy of consolation which is 
the secret preservative of innumerable lives. 

He wanted to make it perfectly clear that he 
was a tramp by choice. He also wanted to 
make it clear that he was a tramp and no better 
because of the wicked folly of those he had 
trusted and the evil devices of enemies. In 
the world that contained those figures of spirit, 
Isopel Berners and Susan, there was also it 
seemed a bad and spiritless person, the tramp's 
wife, who had done him many passive injuries. 
It was clear she did not appreciate her blessings. 
She had been much to blame. " Anybody's 
opinion is better than 'er 'usband's," said the 
tramp. " Always 'as been." Bealby had a 
sudden memory of Mr. Darling saying exactly 



234 BEALBY 

the same thing of his mother. " She's the 
sort," said the tramp, " what would rather go 
to a meetin' than a music 'all. She'd rather 
drop a shilling down a crack than spend it on 
anything decent. If there was a choice of jobs 
going she'd ask which 'ad the lowest pay and 
the longest hours and she'd choose that. She'd 
feel safer. She was born scared. When there 
wasn't anything else to do she'd stop at 'ome 
and scrub the floors. Gaw ! it made a chap 
want to put the darn' pail over 'er 'ed, so's 
she'd get enough of it. . . ." 

" I don't hold with all this crawling through 
life and saying Please," said the tramp. " I 
say it's my world just as much as it's your 
world. You may have your 'orses and car- 
riages, your 'ouses and country places and all 
that, and you may think Gawd sent me to run 
abart and work for you ; but / don't. See ? " 

Bealby saw. 

" I seek my satisfactions just as you seek 
your satisfactions, and if you want to get me 
to work you've jolly well got to make me. I 
don't choose to work. I choose to keep on my 
own and a bit loose, and take my chance where 
I find it. You got to take your chances in this 
world. Sometimes they come bad and some- 
times they come good. And very often you 
can't tell which it is when they 'ave come. . . ." 

Then he fell questioning Bealby again and 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 235 

then he talked of the immediate future. He 
was beating for the seaside. " Always some- 
thing doing," he said. " You got to keep your 
eye on for cops ; those seaside benches, they're 
'ot on tramps give you a month for begging 
soon as look at you but there's flats dropping 
sixpences thick as flies on a sore 'orse. You 
want a pal there for all sorts of jobs. You're 
just the chap for it, matey. Saw it soon's ever 
I set eyes on you. Then you can 'ave fun " 

He made projects. . . . 

Finally he became more personal and very 
flattering. 

" Now you and me," he said, suddenly 
shifting himself quite close to Bealby, " we're 
going to be downright pals. I've took a liking 
to you. Me and you are going to pal together. 
See ? " 

He breathed into Bealby's face and laid a 
hand on his knee and squeezed it, and Bealby, 
on the whole, felt honoured by his protec- 
tion. . . . 

4 

In the unsympathetic light of a bright and 
pushful morning the tramp was shorn of much 
of his overnight glamour. It became manifest 
that he was not merely offensively unshaven 
but extravagantly dirty. It was not ordinary 
rural dirt. During the last few days he must 



236 BEALBY 

have had dealings of an intimate nature with 
coal. He was taciturn and irritable, he declared 
that this sleeping out would be the death of 
him, and the breakfast was only too manifestly 
wanting in the comforts of a refined home. 
He seemed a little less embittered after break- 
fast, he became even faintly genial, but he 
remained unpleasing. A distaste for the tramp 
arose in Bealby 's mind, and as he walked on 
behind his guide and friend, he revolved 
schemes of unobtrusive detachment. 

Far be it from me to accuse Bealby of in- 
gratitude. But it is true that that same 
disinclination which made him a disloyal 
assistant to Mr. Mergleson was now affecting 
his comradeship with the tramp. And he was 
deceitful. He allowed the tramp to build 
projects in the confidence of his continued 
adhesion, he did not warn him of the defection 
he meditated. But on the other hand Bealby 
had acquired from his mother an effective 
horror of stealing. And one must admit, since 
the tramp admitted it, that the man stole. 

And another little matter had at the same 
time estranged Bealby from the tramp and 
linked the two of them together. The attentive 
reader will know that Bealby had exactly two 
shillings and twopence-halfpenny when he came 
down out of the woods to the fireside. He had 
Mrs. Bowies' half-crown and the balance of 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 237 

Madeleine Philips' theatre shilling, minus six- 
pence-halfpenny for a collar and sixpence he 
had given the tramp for the soup overnight. 
But all this balance was now in the pocket of 
the tramp. Money talks and the tramp had 
heard it. He had not taken it away from 
Bealby, but he had obtained it in this manner : 
" We two are pals," he said, " and one of us 
had better be Treasurer. That's Me. I know 
the ropes better. So hand over what you got 
there, matey/' 

And after he had pointed out that a refusal 
might lead to Bealby's evisceration the transfer 
occurred. Bealby was searched, kindly but 
firmly. . . . 

It seemed to the tramp that this trouble 
had now blown over completely. 

Little did he suspect the rebellious and 
treacherous thoughts that seethed in the head 
of his companion. Little did he suppose that 
his personal appearance, his manners, his 
ethical flavour nay, even his physical flavour 
were being judged in a spirit entirely un- 
amiable. It seemed to him that he had ob- 
tained youthful and subservient companionship, 
companionship that would be equally agreeable 
and useful ; he had adopted a course that he 
imagined would cement the ties between them ; 
he reckoned not with ingratitude. " If anyone 
arsts you who I am, call me uncle," he said. 



238 BEALBY 

He walked along, a little in advance, sticking 
his toes out right and left in a peculiar wide 
pace that characterized his walk, and revolving 
schemes for the happiness and profit of the 
day. To begin with great draughts of beer. 
Then tobacco. Later perhaps a little bread 
and cheese for Bealby. "You can't come in 
'ere," he said at the first public-house. " You're 
under age, me boy. It ain't my doing, matey ; 
it's 'Erbert Samuel. You blame 'im. 'E don't 
objec' to you going to work for any other Mr. 
Samuel there may 'appen to be abart or any- 
thing of that sort, that's good for you, that is ; 
but 'e's most particular you shouldn't go into 
a public-' ouse. So you just wait about outside 
'ere. I'll 'ave my eye on you." 

" You going to spend my money ? " asked 
Bealby. 

"I'm going to ration the party," said the 
tramp. 

' You you got no right to spend my money," 
said Bealby. 

" I 'Ang it ! I'll get you some acid 

drops," said the tramp in tones of remonstrance. 
"I tell you, blame you, it's 'Erbert Samuel. 
I can't 'elp it ! I can't fight against the 
lor." 

' You 'aven't any right to spend my money," 
said Bealby. 

" Down't cut up crusty. 'Ow can 7 'elp it ? " 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 239 

" I'll tell a policeman. You gimme back my 
money and lemme go." 

The tramp considered the social atmosphere. 
It did not contain a policeman. It contained 
nothing but a peaceful kindly corner public- 
house, a sleeping dog and the back of an elderly 
man digging. 

The tramp approached Bealby in a con- 
fidential manner. " 'Go's going to believe 
you ? " he said. " And besides, 'ow did you 
come by it ? " 

Moreover. " / ain't going to spend your 
money. I got money of my own. 'Ere f 
See ? " And suddenly before the dazzled eyes 
of Bealby he held and instantly withdrew three 
shillings and two coppers that seemed familiar. 
He had had a shilling of his own. . . . 

Bealby waited outside. . . . 

The tramp emerged in a highly genial mood, 
with acid drops, and a short clay pipe going 
strong. ' 'Ere," he said to Bealby with just 
the faintest flavour of magnificence over the 
teeth-held pipe and handed over not only the 
acid drops but a virgin short clay. " Fill," he 
said, proffering the tobacco. " It's yours jus' 
much as it's mine. Be'r not let 'Erbert Samuel 
see you though ; that's all. 'E's got a lor 
abart it." 

Bealby held his pipe in his clenched hand. 
He had already smoked once. He remembered 



240 BEALBY 

it quite vividly still, although it had happened 
six months ago. Yet he hated not using that 
tobacco. " No/' he said, " I'll smoke later/' 

The tramp replaced the screw of red Virginia 
in his pocket with the air of one who has done 
the gentlemanly thing. . . . 

They went on their way, an ill-assorted 
couple. 

All day Bealby chafed at the tie and saw the 
security in the tramp's pocket vanish. They 
lunched on bread and cheese and then the 
tramp had a good sustaining drink of beer for 
both of them, and after that they came to a 
common where it seemed agreeable to repose. 
And after a due meed of repose in a secluded 
hollow among the gorse the tramp produced a 
pack of exceedingly greasy cards and taught 
Bealby to play Euchre. Apparently the tramp 
had no distinctive pockets in his tail coat, the 
whole lining was one capacious pocket. Various 
knobs and bulges indicated his cooking tin, his 
feeding tin, a turnip and other unknown pro- 
perties. At first they played for love and then 
they played for the balance in the tramp's 
pocket. And by the time Bealby had learnt 
Euchre thoroughly, that balance belonged to 
the tramp. But he was very generous about it 
and said they would go on sharing just as they 
had done. And then he became confidential. 
He scratched about in the bagginess of his 






BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 241 

garment and drew out a little dark blade of 
stuff, like a flint implement, regarded it gravely 
for a moment and held it out to Bealby. " Guess 
what this is." 

Bealby gave it up. 

" Smell it." 

It smelt very nasty. One familiar smell 
indeed there was with a paradoxical sanitary 
quality that he did not quite identify, but that 
was a mere basis for a complex reek of acquisi- 
tions. " What is it ? " said Bealby. 

" Soap I " 

" But what's it for ? " 

" I thought you'd ask that. . . . What's soap 
usually f or ? " 

' W r ashing," said Bealby guessing wildly. 

The tramp shook his head. " Making a 
foam," he corrected. " That's what I has my 
fits with. See ? I shoves a bit in my mouth 
and down I goes and I rolls about. Making 
a sort of moaning sound. Why, I been given 
brandy often neat brandy. ... It isn't 
always a cert nothing's absolutely a cert. 
I've 'ad some let-downs. . . . Once I was bit 
by a nasty little dog that brought me to 
pretty quick, and once I 'ad an old gentleman 
go through my pockets. ' Poor chap ! ' 'e 
ses, ' very likely 'e's destitoot, let's see if 'e's 
got anything.' ... I'd got all sorts of things, 
I didn't want 'im prying about. But I didn't 
16 



242 BEALBY 

come-to sharp enough to stop J im. Got me 
into trouble that did. ..." 

" It's an old lay," said the tramp, " but it's 
astonishing 'ow it'll go in a quiet village. Sort 
of amuses 'em. Or dropping suddenly in front 
of a bicycle party. Lot of them old tricks are 
the best tricks, and there ain't many of 'em 
Billy Bridget don't know. That's where you're 
lucky to 'ave met me, matey. Billy Bridget's 
a 'ard man to starve. And I know the ropes. 
I know what you can do and what you can't 
do. And I got a feeling for a policeman 
same as some people 'ave for cats. I'd know 
if one was 'idden in the room. . . ." 

He expanded into anecdotes and the story 
of various encounters in which he shone. It 
was amusing and it took Bealby on his weak 
side. Wasn't he the Champion Dodger of, the 
Chelsome playground ? 

The tide of talk ebbed. "Well," said the 
tramp, " time we was up and doing. ..." 

They went along shady lanes and across an 
open park, and they skirted a breezy common 
from which they could see the sea. And 
among other things that the tramp said was 
this, " Time we began to forage a bit." 

He turned his large observant nose to the 
right of him and the left. 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 243 

5 

Throughout the afternoon the tramp dis- 
coursed upon the rights and wrongs of property, 
in a way that Bealby found very novel and 
unsettling. The tramp seemed to have his 
ideas about owning and stealing arranged quite 
differently from those of Bealby. Never before 
had Bealby thought it possible to have them 
arranged in any other than the way he knew. 
But the tramp contrived to make most posses- 
sion seem unrighteous and honesty a code 
devised by those who have for those who 
haven't. " They've just got hold of it," he 
said. " They want to keep it to themselves. . 
Do I look as though I'd stole much of any- 
body's ? It isn't me got 'old of this land and 
sticking up my notice boards to keep everybody 
off. It isn't me spends my days and nights 
scheming 'ow I can get 'old of more and more 
of the stuff. . . . 

" I don't envy it 'em," said the tramp. 
" Some 'as one taste and some another. But 
when it comes to making all this fuss because 
a chap who isn't a schemer 'elps 'imself to a 
mathful, well, it's Rot. . . . 

"It's them makes the rules of the game and 
nobody ever arst me to play it. I don't blame 
'em, mind you. Me and you might very well 
do the same. But brast me if I see where the 



244 BEALBY 

sense of my keeping the rules comes in. This 
world ought to be a share out, Gawd meant it to 
be a share out. And me and you we been 
done out of our share. That justifies us." 

" It isn't right to steal," said Bealby. 

" It isn't right to steal certainly. It isn't 
right but it's universal. Here's a chap here 
over this fence, ask 'im where 'e got 'is land. 
Stealing ! What you call stealing, matey, / call 
restitootion. You ain't probably never even 
'card of socialism." 

"I've 'eard of socialists right enough. Don't 
believe in Gawd and 'aven't no morality." 

"Don't you believe it. Why ! 'Arf the 
socialists are parsons. What I'm saying is 
socialism practically. Tm a socialist. I know 
all abat socialism. There isn't nothing you can 
tell me abat socialism. Why ! for three weeks 
I was one of these here Anti-Socialist speakers. 
Paid for it. And I tell you there ain't such a 
thing as property left ; it's all a blooming old 
pinch. Lords, commons, judges, all of them 
they're just a crew of brasted old fences and 
the lawyers getting in the stuff. Then you 
talk to me of stealing ! Stealing ! " 

The tramp's contempt and his long intense 
way of saying " stealing ' were very unsettling 
to a sensitive mind. 

They bought some tea and grease in a 
village shop and the tramp made tea in his old 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 245 

tin with great dexterity, and then they gnawed 
bread on which two ounces of margarine had 
been generously distributed. " Live like fight- 
ing cocks, we do," said the tramp wiping out his 
simple cuisine with the dragged-out end of his 
shirt sleeve. " And if I'm not very much 
mistaken we'll sleep to-night on a nice bit of 
hay. . . ." 

But these anticipations were upset by a 
sudden temptation, and instead of a starry 
summer comfort the two were destined to 
spend a night of suffering and remorse. 

A green lane lured them off the road, and 
after some windings led them past a field of 
wire-netted enclosures containing a number of 
perfect and conceited-looking hens close beside 
a little cottage, a vegetable garden and some 
new elaborate outhouses. It was manifestly 
a poultry farm, and something about it gave 
the tramp the conviction that it had been left, 
that nobody was at home. 

These realizations are instinctive, they leap 
to the mind. He knew it, and an ambition 
to know further what was in the cottage came 
with the knowledge. But it seemed to him 
desirable that the work of exploration should 
be done by Bealby. He had thought of dogs, 
and it seemed to him that Bealby might be 
unembarrassed by that idea. So he put the 
thing to Bealby. " Let's have a look round 



246 BEALBY 

'ere," he said. " You go in and see what's 
abat. . . ." 

There was some difference of opinion. " I 
don't ask you to take anything," said the 
tramp. ..." Nobody won't catch you. . . . 
I tell you nobody won't catch you. ... I tell 
you there ain't nobody here to catch you. . . . 
Just for the fun of seeing in. I'll go up by 
them outhouses. And I'll see nobody comes. 
. . . Ain't afraid to go up a garden path, are 
you ? . . . I tell you, I don't want you to 
steal. . . . You ain't got much guts to funk 
a thing like that. . . . I'll be abat too. . . . 
Thought you'd be the very chap for a bit of 
scouting. . . . Well, if you ain't afraid you'd 
do it. ... Well, why didn't you say you'd 
do it at the beginning ? . . ." 

Bealby went through the hedge and up a 
grass track between poultry runs, made a 
cautious inspection of the outhouses and then 
approached the cottage. Everything was still. 
He thought it more plausible to go to the door 
than peep into the window. He rapped. 
Then after an interval of stillness he lifted the 
latch, opened the door and peered into the room. 
It was a pleasantly furnished room, and before 
the empty summer fireplace a very old white 
man was sitting in a chintz-covered armchair, 
lost it would seem in painful thought. He had 
a peculiar grey shrunken look, his eyes were 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 247 

closed, a bony hand with the shiny texture of 
alabaster gripped the chair arm. . . . There 
was something about him that held Bealby 
quite still for a moment. 

And this old gentleman behaved very oddly. 

His body seemed to crumple into his chair, 
his hands slipped down from the arms, his 
head nodded forwards and his mouth and eyes 
seemed to open together. And he made a 
snoring sound. . . . 

For a moment Bealby remained rigidly agape 
and then a violent desire to rejoin the tramp 
carried him back through the hen-runs. . . . 

He tried to describe what he had seen. 

" Asleep with his mouth open," said the 
tramp. "Well, that ain't anything so wonder- 
ful. You got anything? That's what I want 
to know. . . . Did anyone ever see such a 
boy ? 'Ere ! I'll go. ... 

' You keep a look out here," said the tramp. 

But there was something about that old man 
in there, something so strange and alien to 
Bealby, that he could not remain alone in the 
falling twilight. He followed the cautious 
advances of the tramp towards the house. 
From the corner by the outhouses he saw the 
tramp go and peer in at the open door. He 
remained for some time peering ; his head 
hidden from Bealby. . . . 

Then he went in. 



248 BEALBY 

Bealby had an extraordinary desire that 
somebody else would come. His soul cried 
out for help against some vaguely apprehended 
terror. And in the very moment of his wish 
came its fulfilment. He saw advancing up 
the garden path a tall woman in a blue serge 
dress, hatless and hurrying and carrying a 
little package it was medicine in her hand. 
And with her came a big black dog. At the 
sight of Bealby the dog came forward barking, 
and Bealby after a moment's hesitation turned 
and fled. 

The dog was quick. But Bealby was quicker. 
He went up the netting of a hen-run and gave 
the dog no more than an ineffectual snap at 
his heels. And then dashing from the cottage 
door came the tramp. Under one arm was a 
brass-bound workbox and in the other was a 
candlestick and some smaller articles. He 
did not instantly grasp the situation of his 
treed companion, he was too anxious to escape 
the tall woman, and then with a yelp of dismay 
he discovered himself between woman and 
dog. All too late he sought to emulate Bealby. 
The workbox slipped from under his arm, the 
rest of his plunder fell from him, for an uneasy 
moment he was clinging to the side of the 
swaying hen-run and then it had caved in and 
the dog had got him. 

The dog bit, desisted and then finding 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 249 

itself confronted by two men retreated. Bealby 
and the tramp rolled and scrambled over the 
other side of the collapsed netting into a parallel 
track and were half-way to the hedge before 
the dog, but this time in a less vehement 
fashion, resumed his attack. 

He did not close with them again and at 
the hedge he halted altogether and remained 
hacking the gloaming with his rage. 

The woman it seemed had gone into the 
house, leaving the tramp's scattered loot upon 
the field of battle. 

' This means mizzle," said the tramp, lead- 
ing the way at a trot. 

Bealby saw no other course but to follow. 

He had a feeling as though the world had 
turned against him. He did not dare to think 
what he was thinking of the events of these 
crowded ten minutes. He felt he had touched 
something dreadful ; that the twilight was full 
of accusations. ... He feared and hated the 
tramp now, but he perceived something had 
linked them as they had not been linked before. 
Wha tever it was they shared it. 

6 

They fled through the night ; it seemed to 
Bealby for interminable hours. At last when 
they were worn out and footsore they crept 



250 BEALBY 

through a gate and found an uncomfortable 
cowering-place in the corner of a field. 

As they went they talked but little, but the 
tramp kept up a constant muttering to himself. 
He was troubled by the thought of hydro- 
phobia. "I know I'll 'ave it," he said, "I 
know I'll get it." 

Bealby after a time ceased to listen to his 
companion. His mind was preoccupied. He 
could think of nothing but that very white man 
in the chair and the strange manner of his 
movement. 

"Was 'e awake when you saw 'im ? " he 
asked at last. 

" Awake who ? " 

" That old man." 

For a moment or so the tramp said nothing. 
' 'E wasn't awake, you young silly," he said 
at last. 

" But wasn't he ? " 

" Why ! don't you know ! 'E'd croaked, 
popped off the 'ooks very moment you saw 



'im." 



For a moment Bealby's voice failed him. 

Then he said quite faintly, " You mean 
he'd Was dead ? " 

" Didn't you know ? " said the tramp. 
" Gaw ! What a kid you are ! " 

In that manner it was Bealby first saw a 
dead man. Never before had he seen anyone 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 251 

dead. And after that for all the night the old 
white man pursued him, with strange slowly- 
opening eyes, and a head on one side and his 
mouth suddenly and absurdly agape. . . . 

All night long that white figure presided 
over seas of dark dismay. It seemed always 
to be there, and yet Bealby thought of a score 
of other painful things. For the first time 
in his life he asked himself, " Where am I 
going ? What am I drifting to ? " The world 
beneath the old man's dominance was a world 
of prisons. 

Bealby believed he was a burglar and behind 
the darkness he imagined the outraged law 
already seeking him. And the terrors of his 
associate reinforced his own. 

He tried to think what he should do in the 
morning. He dreaded the dawn profoundly. 
But he could not collect his thoughts because 
of the tramp's incessant lapses into grumbling 
lamentation. Bealby knew he had to get away 
[rom the tramp, but now he was too weary and 
alarmed to think of running away as a possible 
expedient. And besides there was the matter 
of his money. And beyond the range of the 
tramp's voice there were darknesses which 
to-night at least might hold inconceivable 
forms of lurking evil. But could he not appeal 
to the law to save him ? Repent ? Was there 
not something called turning King's Evidence ? 



252 BEALBY 

The moon was no comfort that night. Across 
it there passed with incredible slowness a 
number of jagged little black clouds, blacker 
than any clouds Bealby had ever seen before. 
They were like velvet palls, lined with snowy 
fur. There was no end to them. And one at 
last most horribly gaped slowly and opened a 
mouth. . . . 

7 

At intervals there would be uncomfortable 
movements and the voice of the tramp came 
out of the darkness beside Bealby lamenting his 
approaching fate and discoursing sometimes 
with violent expressions on watch-dogs. 

" I know I shall 'ave 'idrophobia," said the 
tramp. " I've always J ad a disposition to 
'idrophobia. Always a dread of water and 
now it's got me. 

" Think of it ! keeping a beast to set at a 
'uman being. Where's the brotherhood of it ? 
Where's the law and the humanity ? Getting 
a animal to set at a brother man. And a 
poisoned animal, a animal with death in his 
teeth. And a 'orrible death too. Where's the 
sense and brotherhood ? 

" Gaw ! when I felt 'is teeth coming through 
my trasers ! 

" Dogs oughtn't to be allowed. They're a 
noosance in the towns and a danger in the 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 253 

country. They oughtn't to be allowed any- 
where not till every blessed 'uman being 'as 
got three square meals a day. Then if you 
like, keep a dog. And see 'e's a clean dog. . . . 

" Gaw ! if I'd been a bit quicker up that 
'en roost ! 

" I ought to 'ave landed 'im a kick. 

" It's a man's duty to 'urt a dog. When 'e 
sees a dog 'e ought to 'urt 'im. It's a natural 
'atred. If dogs were what they ought to be, 
if dogs understood 'ow they're situated, there 
wouldn't be a dog go for a man ever. 

" And if one did they'd shoot 'im. . . . 

" After this if ever I get a chance to land a 
log a oner with a stone I'll land 'im one. I 
>een too sorft with dogs. . . ." 

Towards dawn Bealby slept uneasily, to be 
awakened by the loud snorting curiosity of 
hree lively young horses. He sat up in a 
linding sunshine and saw the tramp looking 
ery filthy and contorted, sleeping with his 
mouth wide open and an expression of dismay 
md despair on his face. 

8 

Bealby took his chance to steal away next 
norning while the tramp was engaged in arti- 
icial epilepsy. 

!< If feel like fits this morning," said the tramp. 



254 BEALBY 

" I could do it well. I want a bit of human 
kindness again. After that brasted dog. 

" I expect soon I'll 'ave the foam all right 
withat any soap." 

They marked down a little cottage before 
which a benevolent-looking spectacled old gentle- 
man in a large straw hat and a thin alpaca 
jacket was engaged in budding roses. Then 
they retired to prepare. The tramp handed 
over to Bealby various compromising posses- 
sions, which might embarrass an afflicte< 
person under the searching hands of charity, 
There was for example the piece of soap aftei 
he had taken sufficient for his immediate needs, 
there was ninepence in money, there were the 
pack of cards with which they had playei 
Euchre, a key or so and some wires, mud 
assorted string, three tins, a large piece oJ 
bread, the end of a composite candle, a box of 
sulphur matches, list slippers, a pair of gloves, 
a clasp knife, sundry grey rags. They all 
seemed to have the distinctive flavour of the 
tramp. . . . 

" If you do a bunk with these," said the 
tramp. " By Gawd " 

He drew his finger across his throat. 

(King's Evidence.) 

Bealby from a safe distance watched the be- 
ginnings of the fit and it impressed him as a 
thoroughly hasty kind of fit. He saw the 






BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 255 

elderly gentleman hurry out of the cottage and 
stand for a moment looking over his little 
green garden gate, surveying the sufferings 
of the tramp with an expression of intense 
yet discreet commiseration. Then suddenly 
he was struck by an idea, he darted in among 
his rose bushes and reappeared with a big 
watering-can and an enormous syringe. Still 
keeping the gate between himself and the 
sufferer he loaded his syringe very carefully 
and deliberately. . . . 

Bealby would have liked to have seen more 
but he felt his moment had come. Another 
instant and it might be gone again. Very 
softly he dropped from the gate on which he 
was sitting and made off like a running part- 
ridge along the hedge of the field. 

Just for a moment did he halt at a strange 
sharp yelp that came from the direction of the 
little cottage. Then his purpose of flight re- 
sumed its control of him. 

He would strike across country for two or 
three miles, then make for the nearest police 
station and give himself up. (Loud voices. 
Was that the tramp murdering the benevolent 
old gentleman in the straw hat, or was it the 
benevolent old gentleman in the straw hat 
murdering the tramp ? No time to question. 
Onward, Onward !) The tramp's cans rattled 
in his pocket. He drew one out, hesitated a 



256 BEALBY 

moment and flung it away and then sent its 
two companions after it. ... 

He found his police station upon the road 
between Someport and Crayminster, a little 
peaceful rural station, a mere sunny cottage 
with a blue and white label and a notice board 
covered with belated bills about the stealing 
of pheasants' eggs. And another bill 

It was headed MISSING and the next most 
conspicuous words were 5 REWARD and the 
next ARTHUR BEALBY. 

He was fascinated. So swift, so terribly 
swift is the law. Already they knew of his 
burglary, of his callous participation in the 
robbing of a dead man. Already the sleuths 
were upon his trail. So surely did his con- 
science strike to this conclusion that even the 
carelessly worded offer of a reward that followed 
his description conveyed no different intimation 
to his mind. " To whomsoever will bring 
him back to Lady Laxton, at Shonts near 
Chelsmore," so it ran. 

" And out of pocket expenses." 

And even as Bealby read this terrible docu- 
ment, the door of the police station opened 
and a very big pink young policeman came out 
and stood regarding the world in a friendly, 
self-approving manner. He had innocent, 
happy, blue eyes ; thus far he had had much 
to do with order and little with crime ; and his 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 257 

rosebud mouth would have fallen open, had 
not discipline already closed it and set upon it 
the beginnings of a resolute expression that 
accorded ill with the rest of his open freshness. 
And when he had surveyed the sky and the 
distant hills and the little rose bushes that 
occupied the leisure of the force, his eyes fell 
upon Bealby. . . . 

Indecision has ruined more men than wicked- 
ness. And when one has slept rough and eaten 
nothing and one is conscious of a marred 
unclean appearance, it is hard to face one's 
situations. What Bealby had intended to do 
was to go right up to a policeman and say to 
him, simply and frankly : "I want to turn 
King's Evidence, please. I was in that burglary 
where there was a dead old man and a workbox 
and a woman and a dog. I was led astray by 
a bad character and I did not mean to do it. 
And really it was him that did it and not me." 

But now his tongue clove to the roof of his 
mouth, he felt he could not speak, could not go 
through with it. His heart had gone down 
into his feet. Perhaps he had caught the 
tramp's constitutional aversion to the police. 
He affected not to see the observant figure in 
the doorway. He assumed a slack careless 
bearing like one who reads by chance idly. He 
lifted his eyebrows to express unconcern. He 
pursed his mouth to whistle but no whistle 
17 



258 BEALBY 

came. He stuck his hands into his pockets, 
pulled up his feet as one pulls up plants by the 
roots and strolled away. 

He quickened his stroll as he supposed by 
imperceptible degrees. He glanced back and 
saw that the young policeman had come out 
of the station and was reading the notice. And 
as the young policeman read he looked ever 
and again at Bealby like one who checks off 
items. 

Bealby quickened his pace and then, doing 
his best to suggest by the movements of his 
back a mere boyish levity quite unconnected 
with the law, he broke into a trot. 

Then presently he dropped back into a 
walking pace, pretended to see something in 
the hedge, stopped and took a sidelong look 
at the young policeman. 

He was coming along with earnest strides, 
every movement of his suggested a stealthy 
hurry ! 

Bealby trotted and then becoming almost 
frank about it, ran. He took to his heels. 

From the first it was not really an urgent 
chase ; it was a stalking rather than a hunt, 
because the young policeman was too young 
and shy and lacking in confidence really to run 
after a boy without any definite warrant for 
doing so. When anyone came along he would 
drop into a smart walk and pretend not to be 



BEALBY AND THE TRAMP 259 

looking at Bealby but just going somewhere 
briskly. And after two miles of it he desisted, 
and stood for a time watching a heap of mangold 
wurzel directly and the disappearance of Bealby 
obliquely, and then when Bealby was quite out 
of sight he turned back thoughtfully towards 
his proper place. 

On the whole he considered he was well out 
of it. He might have made a fool of himself. . . . 

And yet, five pounds reward ! 



CHAPTER THE SEVENTH 
THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 

i 

BEALBY was beginning to realize that 
running away from one's situation and 
setting up for oneself is not so easy and simple 
a thing as it had appeared during those first 
days with the caravan. Three things he per- 
ceived had arisen to pursue him, two that 
followed in the daylight, the law and the tramp, 
and a third that came back at twilight, the 
terror of the darkness. And within there was 
a hollow faintness, for the afternoon was far 
advanced and he was extremely hungry. He 
had dozed away the early afternoon in the 
weedy corner of a wood. But for his hunger 
I think he would have avoided Cray- 
minster. 

Within a mile of that place he had come upon 
the " Missing " notice again stuck to the end of 
a barn. He had passed it askance, and then 
with a sudden inspiration returned and torn 

it down. Somehow with the daylight his idea 

260 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 261 

of turning King's Evidence against the tramp 
had weakened. He no longer felt sure. 

Mustn't one wait and be asked first to turn 
King's Evidence ? 

Suppose they said he had merely con- 
fessed. . . . 

The Crayminster street had a picturesque 
nutritious look. Half-way down it was the 
White Hart with cyclist club signs on its walls 
and geraniums over a white porch, and beyond 
a house being built and already at the roofing 
pitch. To the right was a baker's shop diffusing 
a delicious suggestion of buns and cake, and to 
the left a little comfortable sweetstuff window 
and a glimpse of tables and a board : " Teas." 
Tea ! He resolved to break into his ninepence 
boldly and generously. Very likely they would 
boil him an egg for a penny or so. Yet on the 
other hand if he just had three or four buns, 
soft new buns. He hovered towards the baker's 
shop and stopped short. That bill was in the 
window ! 

He wheeled about sharply and went into the 
sweetstuff shop and found a table with a white 
cloth and a motherly little woman in a large 
cap. Tea ? He could have an egg and some 
thick bread-and-butter and a cup of tea for 
fivepence. He sat down respectfully to await 
her preparations. 

But he was uneasy. 



262 



BEALBY 



He knew quite well that she would ask him 
questions. For that he was prepared. He said 
he was walking from his home in London to 
Someport to save the fare. " But you're so 
dirty ! " said the motherly little woman. " I 
sent my luggage by post, ma'm, and I lost my 
way and didn't get it. And I don't much mind, 
ma'm, if you don't. Not washing. . . ." 

All that he thought he did quite neatly. 
But he wished there was not that bill in the 
baker's window opposite and he wished he 
hadn't quite such a hunted feeling. A faint 
claustrophobia affected him. He felt the shop 
might be a trap. He would be glad to get into 
the open again. Was there a way out behind 
if, for example, a policeman blocked the door ? 
He hovered to the entrance while his egg was 
boiling, and then when he saw a large fat baker 
surveying the world with an afternoon placidity 
upon his face, he went back and sat by the 
table. He wondered if the baker had noted 
him. 

He had finished his egg ; he was drinking 
his tea with appreciative noises, when he dis- 
covered that the baker had noted him. Bealby's 
eyes, at first inanely open above the tilting tea- 
cup, were suddenly riveted on something that 
was going on in the baker's window. From 
where he sat he could see that detestable bill, 
and then slowly, feeling about for it, he beheld 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 263 

a hand and a floury sleeve. The bill was 
drawn up and vanished, and then behind a 
glass shelf of fancy bread and a glass shelf of 
buns something pink and indistinct began to 
move jerkily. ... It was a human face and 
it was trying to peer into the little refreshment 
shop that sheltered Bealby. . . . 

Bealby's soul went faint. 

He had one inadequate idea. " Might I go 
out," he said, " by your back way ? >J 

' There isn't a back way," said the motherly 
little woman. " There's a yard " 

" If I might," said Bealby and was out in it. 

No way at all ! High walls on every side. 
He was back like a shot in the shop, and now 
the baker was half-way across the road. " Five- 
pence," said Bealby and gave the little old 
woman sixpence. " Here," she cried, u take 
your penny ! " 

He did not wait. He darted out of the door. 

The baker was all over the way of escape. 
He extended arms that seemed abnormally long 
and with a weak cry Bealby found himself 
trapped. Trapped, but not hopelessly. He 
knew how to do it. He had done it in milder 
forms before, but now he did it with all his 
being. Under the diaphragm of the baker smote 
Bealby's hard little head, and instantly he was 
away running up the quiet sunny street. Man 
when he assumed the erect attitude made a 



264 BEALBY 

hostage of his belly. It is a proverb among 
the pastoral Berbers of the Atlas mountains 
that the man who extends his arms in front of 
an angry ram is a fool. 

It seemed probable to Bealby that he would 
get away up the street. The baker was engaged 
in elaborately falling backward, making the 
most of sitting down in the road, and the wind 
had been knocked out of him so that he could 
not shout. He emitted " Stop him ! " in large 
whispers. Away ahead there were only three 
builder's men sitting under the wall beyond 
the White Hart, consuming tea out of their 
tea-cans. But the boy who was trimming the 
top of the tall privet hedge outside the doctor's 
saw the assault of the baker and incontinently 
uttered the shout that the baker could not. 
Also he fell off his steps with great alacrity and 
started in pursuit of Bealby. A young man 
from anywhere perhaps the grocer's shop 
also started for Bealby. But the workmen 
were slow to rise to the occasion. Bealby could 
have got past them. And then, abruptly at 
the foot of the street ahead, the tramp came 
into view, a battered disconcerting figure. His 
straw-coloured hat which had recently been 
wetted and dried in the sun was a swaying 
mop. The sight of Bealby seemed to rouse 
him from some disagreeable meditations. He 
grasped the situation with a terrible quickness. 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 265 

Regardless of the wisdom of the pastoral 
Berbers he extended his arms and stood pre- 
pared to intercept. 

Bealby thought at the rate of a hundred 
thoughts to the minute. He darted sideways 
and was up the ladder and among the beams 
and rafters of the unfinished roof before the 
pursuit had more than begun. " Here, come 
off that," cried the foreman builder, only now 
joining in the hunt with any sincerity. He 
came across the road while Bealby regarded 
him wickedly from the rafters above. Then as 
the good man made to ascend Bealby got him 
neatly on the hat it was a bowler hat with a 
tile. This checked the advance. There was 
a disposition to draw a little off and look up 
at Bealby. One of the younger builders from 
the opposite sidewalk got him very neatly in 
the ribs with a stone. But two other shots 
went wide, and Bealby shifted to a more covered 
position behind the chimney-stack. 

From here however he had a much less 
effective command of the ladder, and he per- 
ceived that his tenure of the new house was not 
likely to be a long one. 

Below men parleyed. " Who is 'e ? " asked 
the foreman builder. " Where' d 'e come from ? " 
" 'E's a brasted little thief/' said the tramp. 
"'E's one of the wust characters on the road." 
The baker was recovering his voice now 



266 BEALBY 

" There's a reward out for 'im," he said, " and 
'e butted me in the stummick." 

" 'Ow much reward ? " asked the foreman 
builder. 

"Five pound for the man who catches 
him." 

" 'Ere ! " cried the foreman builder in an 
arresting voice to the tramp. ' Just stand 
away from that ladder. ..." 

Whatever else Bealby might or might not be, 
one thing was very clear about him and that 
was that he was a fugitive. And the instinct 
of humanity is to pursue fugitives. Man is 
a hunting animal, inquiry into the justice of 
a case is an altogether later accretion to his 
complex nature, and that is why, whatever 
you are or whatever you do you should never 
let people get you on the run. There is a joy 
in the mere fact of hunting, the sight of a 
scarlet coat and a hound will brighten a whole 
village, and now Crayminster was rousing 
itself like a sleeper who wakes to sunshine and 
gay music. People were looking out of 
windows and coming out of shops, a police- 
man appeared and heard the baker's simple 
story, a brisk hatless young man in a white 
apron and with a pencil behind his ear became 
prominent. Bealby, peeping over the ridge 
of the roof, looked a thoroughly dirty and 
unpleasant little creature to all these people. 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 267 

The only spark of human sympathy for him 
below was in the heart of the little old woman 
in the cap who had given him his breakfast. 
She surveyed the roof of the new house from 
the door of her shop, she hoped Bealby wouldn't 
hurt himself up there, and she held his penny 
change clutched in her hand in her apron 
pocket with a vague idea that perhaps presently 
if he ran past she could very quickly give it him. 

2 

Considerable delay in delivering the assault 
on the house was caused by the foreman's 
insistence that he alone should ascend the 
ladder to capture Bealby. He was one of 
those regular-featured men with large heads 
who seem to have inflexible backbones, he 
was large and fair and full with a sweetish 
chest voice, and in all his movements authori- 
tative and deliberate. Whenever he made 
to ascend he discovered that people were 
straying into his building, and he had to stop 
and direct his men how to order them off. In- 
side his large head he was trying to arrange 
everybody to cut off Bealby's line of retreat 
without risking that anybody but himself 
should capture the fugitive. It was none too 
easy and it knitted his brows. Meanwhile 
Bealby was able to reconnoitre the adjacent 



268 BEALBY 

properties and to conceive plans for a possible 
line of escape. He also got a few tiles handy 
against when the rush up the ladder came. 
At the same time two of the younger workmen 
were investigating the possibility of getting 
at him from inside the house. There was still 
no staircase, but there were ways of clambering. 
They had heard about the reward and they 
knew that they must do this before the fore- 
man realized their purpose, and this a little 
retarded them. In their pockets they had a 
number of stones, ammunition in reserve, if it 
came again to throwing. 

Bealby was no longer fatigued nor depressed ; 
anxiety for the future was lost in the excite- 
ment of the present, and his heart told him that, 
come what might, getting on to the roof was 
an extraordinarily good dodge. 

And if only he could bring off a certain jump 
he had in mind, there were other dodges. . . . 

In the village street an informal assembly of 
leading citizens, a little recovered now from 
their first nervousness about flying tiles, dis- 
cussed the problem of Bealby. There was 
Mumby, the draper and vegetarian, with the 
bass voice and the big black beard. He ad- 
vocated the fire engine. He was one of the 
volunteer fire brigade and never so happy 
as when he was wearing his helmet. He had 
come out of his shop, at the shouting. Schocks 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 269 

the butcher, and his boy were also in the street ; 
Schocks's yard with its heap of manure and 
fodder bounded the new house on the left. 
Rymell the vet emerged from the billiard-room 
of the White Hart, and with his head a little 
on one side was watching Bealby and replying 
attentively to the baker, who was asking him a 
number of questions that struck him as irrele- 
vant. All the White Hart people were in the 
street. 

" I suppose, Mr. Rymell," said the baker, 
" there's a mort of dangerous things in a man's 
belly round about 'is Stummick ? " 

" Tiles," said Mr. Rymell. " Loose bricks. 
It wouldn't do if he started dropping those." 

" I was saying, Mr. Rymell," said the baker 

. after a pause for digestion, " is a man likely 

i to be injured badly by a Blaw in his stummick ? " 

Mr. Rymell stared at him for a moment with 

I unresponsive eyes. " More likely to get you 

in the head," he said, and then, " Here ! 

| What's that fool of a carpenter going to do ? " 

The tramp was hovering on the outskirts 
I of the group of besiegers, vindictive but dis- 
i pirited. He had been brought to from his fit 
. and given a shilling by the old gentleman, but 
; he was dreadfully wet between his shirt he 
i wore a shirt, under three waistcoats and a 
j coat and his skin, because the old gentleman's 
i method of revival had been to syringe him 



270 BEALBY 

suddenly with cold water. It had made him 
weep with astonishment and misery. Now 
he saw no advantage in claiming Bealby 
publicly. His part, he felt, was rather a 
waiting one. What he had to say to Bealby 
could be best said without the assistance of a 
third person. And he wanted to understand 
more of this talk about a reward. If there was 
a reward out for Bealby 

" That's not a bad dodge ! " said Rymell, 
changing his opinion of the foreman suddenly 
as that individual began his ascent of the 3 
ladder with a bricklayer's hod carried shield- 
wise above his head. He went up with diffi- 
culty and slowly because of the extreme care 
he took to keep his head protected. But no 
tiles came. Bealby had discovered a more 
dangerous attack developing inside the house 
and was already in retreat down the other side 
of the building. 

He did a leap that might have hurt him 
badly, taking off from the corner of the house 
and jumping a good twelve feet on to a big heap 
of straw in the butcher's yard. He came 
down on all fours and felt a little jarred for an 
instant, and then he was up again and had 
scrambled up by a heap of manure to the top 
of the butcher's wall. He was over that and 
into Maccullum's yard next door before anyone 
in the front of the new house had realized that 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 271 

I he was in flight. Then one of the two workmen 
I who had been coming up inside the house saw 
I him from the oblong opening that was some day 
I to be the upstairs bedroom window, and gave 
I tongue. 

It was thirty seconds later and after Bealby 
had vanished from the butcher's wall that the 
foreman, still clinging to his hod, appeared 
over the ridge of the roof. At the workman's 
shout the policeman who, with the preventive 
disposition of his profession, had hitherto been 
stopping anyone from coming into the un- 
finished house, turned about and ran out into 
its brick and plaster and timber-littered back- 

Iyard, whereupon the crowd in the street realizing 
that the quarry had gone away and no longer 
restrained, came pouring partly through the 
house and partly round through the butcher's 
gate into his yard. 

Bealby had had a check. 
He had relied upon the tarred felt roof of the 
ushroom shed of Maccullum the tailor and 
ireeches-maker to get him to the wall that 
;ave upon Mr. Benshaw's strawberry fields, 
nd he had not seen from his roof above the 
ramshackle glazed outhouse which Maccullum 
:alled his workroom and in which four in- 
dustrious tailors were working in an easy 
deshabille. The roof of the shed was the 
erest tarred touchwood, it had perished as 



272 BEALBY 

felt long ago, it collapsed under Bealby, he 
went down into a confusion of mushrooms and 
mushroom - bed, he blundered out trailing 
mushrooms and spawn and rich matter, he had 
a nine-foot wall to negotiate and only escaped 
by a hair's-breadth from the clutch of a little 
red-slippered man who came dashing out from 
the workroom. But by a happy use of the 
top of the .dustbin he did just get away over 
the wall in time, and the red-slippered tailor 
who was not good at walls was left struggling 
to imitate an ascent that had looked easy 
enough until he came to try it. 

For a moment the little tailor struggled 
alone, and then both Maccullum's domain and 
the butcher's yard next door and the narrow 
patch of space behind the new house, were 
violently injected with a crowd of active people, 
all confusedly on the Bealby trail. Someone, 
he never knew who, gave the little tailor a 
leg-up and then his red slippers twinkled over 
the wall and he was leading the hunt into the 
market gardens of Mr. Benshaw. A collarless 
colleague in list slippers and conspicuous braces 
followed. The policeman, after he had com- 
pleted the wreck of Mr. Maccullum's mushroom 
shed, came next, and then Mr. Maccullum, 
with no sense of times and seasons, anxious to 
have a discussion at once upon the question 
of this damage. Mr. Maccullum was out of 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 273 

breath and he never got farther with this pro- 
jected conversation than " Here ! " This was 
repeated several times as opportunity seemed 
to offer. The remaining tailors got to the top 
of the wall more sedately with the help of the 
Maccullum kitchen steps and dropped ; Mr. 
Schocks followed breathing hard, and then a 
fresh jet of humanity came squirting into the 
gardens through a gap in the fence at the back 
of the building site. This was led by the young 
workman who had first seen Bealby go away. 
Hard behind him came Rymell, the vet, the 
grocer's assistant, the doctor's page-boy and, 
less briskly, the baker. Then the tramp. 
Then Mumby and Schocks's boy. Then a 
number of other people. The seeking of 
j Bealby had assumed the dimensions of a Hue 
[and Cry. 

The foreman with the large head and the 
[upright back was still on the new roof ; he was 
[greatly distressed at the turn things had taken 
md shouted his claims to a major share in the 
:apture of Bealby, mixed with his opinions of 
Jealby and a good deal of mere swearing, to a 
sunny but unsympathetic sky. . . . 



3 

Mr. Benshaw was a small holder, a sturdy 
English yeoman of the new school. He was an 
18 



274 BEALBY 

Anti-Socialist, a self-helper, an independent- 
spirited man. He had a steadily growing 
banking account and a plain but sterile wife, 
and he was dark in complexion and so erect 
in his bearing as to seem a little to lean forward. 
Usually he wore a sort of grey gamekeeper's 
suit with brown gaiters (except on Sundays 
when the coat was black), he was addicted to 
bowler hats that accorded ill with his large 
grave grey-coloured face, and he was altogether 
a very sound strong man. His bowler hats 
did but accentuate that. He had no time for 
vanities, even the vanity of dressing consist- 
ently. He went into the nearest shop and just 
bought the cheapest hat he could, and so he 
got hats designed for the youthful and giddy, 
hats with flighty crowns and flippant bows 
and amorous brims that undulated attractively 
to set off flushed and foolish young faces. It 
made his unrelenting face look rather like the 
Puritans under the Stuart monarchy. 

He was a horticulturist rather than a farmer. 
He had begun his career in cheap lodgings with 
a field of early potatoes and cabbages, sup- 
plemented by employment, but with increased 
prosperity his area of cultivation had extended 
and his methods intensified. He now grew 
considerable quantities of strawberries, rasp- 
berries, celery, seakale, asparagus, early peas, 
late peas and onions, and consumed more stable 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 275 

manure than any other cultivator within ten 
miles of Crayminster. He was beginning to 
send cut flowers to London. He had half an 
acre of glass and he was rapidly extending it. 
He had built himself a cottage on lines of 
austere economy, and a bony-looking dwelling- 
house for some of his men. He also owned a 
number of useful sheds of which tar and cor- 
rugated iron were conspicuous features. His 
home was furnished with the utmost respect- 
ability, and notably joyless even in a country- 
side where gaiety is regarded as an impossible 
quality in furniture. He was already in a 
small local v/ay a mortgagee. Good fortune 
had not turned the head of Mr. Benshaw nor 
robbed him of the feeling that he was a particu- 
larly deserving person, entitled to a preferential 
treatment from a country which in his plain un- 
sparing way he felt that he enriched. 

In many ways he thought that the country 
was careless of his needs. And in none more 
careless than in the laws relating to trespass. 
Across his dominions ran three footpaths, and 
one of these led to the public elementary 
school. That he should have to maintain 
this latter and if he did not keep it in good 
order the children spread out and made parallel 
tracks among his cultivations seemed to him 
a thing almost intolerably unjust. He mended 
it with cinders, acetylene refuse, which he 



276 BEALBY 

believed and hoped to be thoroughly bad for 
boots, and a peculiarly slimy chalky clay, and 
he put on a board at each end " Keep to the 
footpaths, Trespassers will be prosecuted, by 
Order," which he painted himself to save 
expense when he was confined indoors by the 
influenza. Still more unjust it would be, he 
felt, for him to spend money upon effective 
fencing, and he could find no fencing cheap 
enough and ugly enough and painful enough 
and impossible enough to express his feelings 
in the matter. Every day the children streamed 
to and fro, marking how his fruits ripened and 
his produce became more esculent. And other 
people pursued these tracks, many Mr. Benshaw 
was convinced went to and fro through his 
orderly crops who had no business whatever, 
no honest business, to pass that way. Either, 
he concluded, they did it to annoy him, or they 
did it to injure him. This continual invasion 
aroused in Mr. Benshaw all that stern anger 
against unrighteousness latent in our race 
which more than any other single force has 
made America and the Empire what they 
are to-day. Once already he had been robbed 
a raid upon his raspberries and he felt con- 
vinced that at any time he might be robbed 
again. He had made representations to the 
local authority to get the footpaths closed, but 
in vain. They defended themselves with the 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 277 

paltry excuse that the children would then 
have to go nearly a mile round to the school. 

It was not only the tyranny of these foot- 
paths that offended Mr. Benshaw's highly 
developed sense of Individual Liberty. All 
round his rather straggling dominions his 
neighbours displayed an ungenerous indis- 
position to maintain their fences to his satis- 
faction. In one or two places, in abandon- 
ment of his clear rights in the matter, he had 
at his own expense supplemented these lax 
defences with light barbed wire defences. But 
it was not a very satisfactory sort of barbed 
wire. He wanted barbed wire with extra spurs 
like a fighting cock ; he wanted barbed wire 
that would start out after nightfall and attack 
passers-by. This boundary trouble was uni- 
versal ; in a way it was worse than the foot- 
paths which after all only affected the Cage 
Fields where his strawberries grew. Except for 
the yard and garden walls of Maccullum and 
Schocks and that side, there was not really a 
satisfactory foot of enclosure all round Mr. 
Benshaw. On the one side rats and people's 
dogs and scratching cats came in, on the other 
side rabbits. The rabbits were intolerable, 
and recently there had been a rise of nearly 
thirty per cent, in the price of wire netting. 

Mr. Benshaw wanted to hurt rabbits ; he 
did not want simply to kill them, he wanted 



278 BEALBY 

so to kill them as to put the fear of death into 
the burrows. He wanted to kill them so that 
scared little furry survivors with their tails 
as white as ghosts would go lolloping home 
and say, " I say, you chaps, we'd better shift 
out of this. We're up against a Strong De- 
termined Man. ..." 

I have made this lengthy statement of Mr. 
Benshaw's economic and moral difficulties in 
order that the reader should understand the 
peculiar tension that already existed upon 
this side of Crayminster. It has been necessary 
to do so now because in a few seconds there 
will be no further opportunity for such pre- 
parations. There had been trouble, I may 
add very hastily, about the shooting of Mr. 
Benshaw's gun ; a shower of small shot had 
fallen out of the twilight upon the umbrella 
and basket of old Mrs. Frobisher. And only 
a week ago an unsympathetic bench after a 
hearing of over an hour and in the face of 
overwhelming evidence had refused to convict 
little Lucy Mumby, aged eleven, of stealing 
fruit from Mr. Benshaw's fields. She had 
been caught red-handed. . . . 

At the very moment that Bealby was butting 
the baker in the stomach, Mr. Benshaw was 
just emerging from his austere cottage after 
a wholesome but inexpensive high tea in which 
he had finished up two left-over cold sausages, 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 279 

and he was considering very deeply the financial 
side of a furious black fence that he had at last 
decided should pen in the school children 
from further depredations. It should be of 
splintery tarred deal, and high, with well- 
pointed tops studded with sharp nails, and 
he believed that by making the path only two 
feet wide, a real saving of ground for cultiva- 
tion might be made and a very considerable 
discomfort for the public arranged, to com- 
pensate for his initial expense. The thought 
of a narrow lane which would in winter be 
characterized by an excessive sliminess and 
from which there would be no lateral escape 
was pleasing to a mind by no means absolutely 
restricted to considerations of pounds, shillings 
and pence. In his hand after his custom he 
carried a hoe, on the handle of which feet 
were marked so that it was available not only 
for destroying the casual weed but also for 
purposes of measurement. With this he now 
checked his estimate, and found that here 
he would reclaim as much as three feet of 
trodden waste, here a full two. 

Absorbed in these calculations, he heeded 
little the growth of a certain clamour from 
the backs of the houses bordering on the High 
Street. It did not appear to concern him, and 
Mr. Benshaw made it almost ostentatiously 
his rule to mind his own business. His eyes 



28o BEALBY 

remained fixed on the lumpy, dusty sun- 
baked track, that with an intelligent foresight 
he saw already transformed into a deterrent 
slough of despond for the young. . . . 

Then quite suddenly the shouting took on a 
new note. He glanced over his shoulder almost 
involuntarily and discovered that after all this 
uproar was his business. Amazingly his 
business. His mouth assumed a Cromwellian 
fierceness. His grip tightened on his hoe. 
That anyone should dare ! But it was im- 
possible ! 

His dominions were being invaded with a 
peculiar boldness and violence. 

Ahead of everyone else and running with wild 
wavings of the arms across his strawberries 
was a small and very dirty little boy. He 
impressed Mr. Benshaw merely as a pioneer. 
Some thirty yards behind him was a little 
collarless, short-sleeved man in red slippers 
running with great effrontery and behind him 
another still more denuded lunatic, also in list 
slippers and with braces braces of incon- 
ceivable levity. And then Wiggs, the police- 
man, hotly followed by Mr. Maccullum. Then 
more distraught tailors and Schocks the butcher. 
But a louder shout heralded the main attack 
and Mr. Benshaw turned his eyes already 
they were slightly blood-shot eyes to the right 
and saw, pouring through the broken hedge, 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 281 

a disorderly crowd, Rymell whom he had 
counted his friend, the grocer's assistant, the 
doctor's boy, some strangers Mumby ! 

At the sight of Mumby, Mr. Benshaw leapt 
at a conclusion. He saw it all. The whole 
place was rising against him ; they were 
asserting some infernal new right - of - way. 
Mumby Mumby had got them to do it. All 
the fruits of fifteen years of toil, all the care 
and accumulation of Mr. Benshaw's prime, 
were to be trampled and torn to please a 
draper's spite ! . . . 

Sturdy yeoman as Mr. Benshaw was he 
resolved instantly to fight for his liberties. 
One moment he paused to blow the powerful 
police whistle he carried in his pocket, and 
then rushed forward in the direction of the 
hated Mumby, the leader of trespassers, the 
parent and abetter and defender of the criminal 
Lucy. He took the hurrying panting man 
almost unawares, and with one wild sweep of 
the hoe felled him to the earth. Then he 
staggered about and smote again, but not 
quite in time to get the head of Mr. Rymell. 

This whistle he carried was part of a sys- 
tematic campaign he had developed against 
trespassers and fruit stealers. He and each of 
his assistants carried one, and at the first shrill 
note it was his rule everyone seized on 
any weapon that was handy and ran to 



282 BEALBY 

pursue and capture. All his assistants were 
extraordinarily prompt in responding to these 
alarms, which were often the only break in long 
days of strenuous and strenuously directed 
toil. So now with an astonishing promptitude 
and animated faces men appeared from sheds 
and greenhouses and distant patches of culture 
hastening to the assistance of their dour em- 
ployer. 

It says much for the amiable relations that 
existed between employers and employed in 
those days before Syndicalism became the 
creed of the younger workers that they did 
hurry to his assistance. 

But many rapid things were to happen before 
they came into action. For first a strange 
excitement seized upon the tramp. A fantastic 
delusive sense of social rehabilitation took 
possession of his soul. Here he was pitted 
against a formidable hoe-wielding man, who 
for some inscrutable reason was resolved to 
cover the retreat of Bealby. And all the 
world, it seemed, was with the tramp and 
against this hoe-wielder. All the tremendous 
forces of human society against which the 
tramp had struggled for so many years, whose 
power he knew and feared as only the outlaw 
can, had suddenly come into line with him. 
Across the strawberries to the right there was 
even a policeman hastening to join the majority, 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 283 

policeman closely followed by a tradesman 
the blackest, most respectable quality, 
le tramp had a vision of himself as a respect- 
>le man heroically leading respectable people 

gainst outcasts. He dashed the lank hair 
om his eyes, waved his arms laterally and 

len v/ith a loud strange ciy flung himself 
wards Mr. Benshaw. Two pairs of super- 

nposed coat-tails flapped behind him. And 
en the hoe whistled through the air and the 
amp fell to the ground like a sack. 
But now Schocks's boy had grasped his 
)portunity. He had been working discreetly 
und behind Mr. Benshaw and as the hoe smote 

e leapt upon that hero's back and seized him 
)out the neck with both arms and bore him 
aggering to the ground, and Rymell, equally 

uick, and used to the tackling of formidable 

reatures, had snatched and twisted away the 

oe and grappled Mr. Benshaw almost before 
; was down. The first of Mr. Benshaw' s 
ilpers to reach the fray found the issue 
icided, his master held down conclusively and 
growing circle trampling down a wide area of 

trawberry plants about the panting group. . . . 
Mr. Mumby more frightened than hurt was 
.ready sitting up, but the tramp with a glowing 
ound upon his cheekbone and an expression 

f astonishment in his face, lay low and pawed 
le earth. 



284 BEALBY 

" What d'you mean," gasped Mr. Rymell, 
" hitting people about with that hoe ? " 

" What d'you mean," groaned Mr. Benshaw, 
" running across my strawberries ? " 

" We were going after that boy." 

" Pounds and pounds worth of damage. 
Mischief and wickedness Mumby ! " 

Mr. Rymell, suddenly realizing the true 
values of the situation, released Mr. Benshaw's 
hands and knelt up. " Look here, Mr. Ben- 
shaw," he said, " you seem to be under the 
impression we are trespassing." 

Mr. Benshaw struggling into a sitting position 
was understood to inquire with some heat 
what Mr. Rymell called it. Schocks's boy 
picked up the hat with the erotic brim and 
handed it to the horticulturist silently and 
respectfully. 

"We were not trespassing," said Mr. Rymell. 
" We were following up that boy. He was 
trespassing if you like. . . . By the bye, 
where is the boy ? Has anyone caught him ? " 

At the question attention which had been 
focused upon Mr. Benshaw and his hoe, came 
round. Across the field in the direction of the 
sunlit half-acre of glass the little tailor was 
visible standing gingerly and picking up his red 
slippers for the third time they would come 
off in that loose good soil, everybody else had 
left the trail to concentrate on Mr. Benshaw 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 285 

and Bealby Bealby was out of sight. He 
had escaped, clean got away. 

" What boy ? " asked Mr. Benshaw. 
' Ferocious little beast who's fought us like 
a rat. Been committing all sorts of crimes 
about the country. Five pounds reward for 
him." 

:< Fruit stealing ? " asked Mr. Benshaw. 

" Yes," said Mr. Rymell, chancing it. 

Mr. Benshaw reflected slowly. His eyes sur- 
Iveyed his trampled crops. " Goooooooooooooo 
Lord / " he cried. " Look at those straw- 
berries!" His voice gathered violence. "And 
that lout there ! " he said. " Why ! he's 
flying on them ! That's the brute who went 
[for me ! " 

" You got him a pretty tidy one aside the 
head ! " said Maccullum. 

The tramp rolled over on some fresh straw- 
jberries and groaned pitifully. 

" He's hurt/' said Mr. Mumby. 

The tramp flopped and lay still. 

" Get some water ! " said Rymell, standing 
ip. 

At the word water, the tramp started con- 
vulsively, rolled over and sat up with a dazed 
ixpression. 

u No water," he said weakly. " No more 
vater," and then catching Mr. Benshaw's eye 
le got rather quickly to his feet. 



286 BEALBY 

Everybody who wasn't already standing was 
getting up, and everyone now was rather care- 
fully getting himself off any strawberry plant 
he had chanced to find himself smashing in the 
excitement of the occasion. 

" That's the man that started in on me," 
said Mr. Benshaw. " What's he doing here ? 
Who is he ? " 

" Who are you, my man ? What business 
have you to be careering over this field ? " asked 
Mr. Rymell. 

" I was only 'elping," said the tramp. 

" Nice help," said Mr. Benshaw. 

" I thought that boy was a thief or some- 
thing." 

" And so you made a rush at me." 

" I didn't exactly sir I thought you 

was 'elping 'im." 

" You be off anyhow," said Mr. Benshaw. 
" Whatever you thought." 

" Yes, you be off ! " said Mr. Rymell. 

" That's the way, my man," said Mr. Benshaw. 
" We haven't any jobs for you. The sooner 
we have you out of it the better for everyone. 
Get right on to the path and keep it." And 
with a desolating sense of exclusion the tramp! 
withdrew. ' There's pounds and pounds worth! 
of damage here," said Mr. Benshaw. "This; 
job'll cost me a pretty penny. Look at them 
berries there. Why they ain't fit for jam: 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 287 

And all done by one confounded boy." An 
evil light came into Mr. Benshaw's eyes. ' You 
leave him to me and my chaps. If he's gone 
up among those sheds there we'll settle with 
him. Anyhow there's no reason why my fruit 
should be trampled worse than it has been. 
Fruit stealer, you say, he is ? " 

" They live on the country this time of year/' 
said Mr. Mumby. 

" And catch them doing a day's work pick- 
ing ! " said Mr. Benshaw. " I know the sort." 

" There's a reward of five pounds for 'im 
already," said the baker. . . . 

4 

You perceive how humanitarian motives may 
sometimes defeat their own end, and how little 
Lady Laxton's well-intentioned handbills were 
serving to rescue Bealby. Instead they were 
turning him into a scared and hunted animal. 
In spite of its manifest impossibility he was 
convinced that the reward and this pursuit had 
to do with his burglary of the poultry farm, 
and that his capture would be but the pre- 
liminary to prison, trial and sentence. His 
one remaining idea was to get away. But his 
escape across the market gardens had left him 
so blown and spent, that he was obliged to 
hide up for a time in this perilous neighbour- 



288 BEALBY 

hood, before going on. He saw a disused- 
looking shed in the lowest corner of the gardens 
behind the greenhouses and by doubling sharply 
along a hedge he got to it unseen. It was not 
disused nothing in Mr. Benshaw's possession 
ever was absolutely disused, but it was filled 
with horticultural lumber, with old calcium 
carbide tins, with broken wheelbarrows and 
damaged ladders awaiting repair, with some 
ragged wheeling planks and surplus rolls of 
roofing felt. At the back were some unhinged 
shed doors leaning against the wall, and between 
them Bealby tucked himself neatly and became 
still, glad of any respite from the chase. 

He would wait for twilight and then get 
away across the meadows at the back and then 

go He didn't know whither. And now 

he had no confidence in the wild world any 
more. A qualm of home-sickness for the 
compact little gardener's cottage at Shonts, 
came to Bealby. Why, as a matter of fact, 
wasn't he there now ? 

He ought to have tried more at Shonts. 

He ought to have minded what they told him 
and not have taken up a toasting-fork against 
Thomas. Then he wouldn't now have been a 
hunted burglar with a reward of five pounds 
on his head and nothing in his pocket but 
threepence and a pack of greasy playing cards, 
a box of sulphur matches and various objection- 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 289 

able sundries, none of which were properly his 
own. 

If only he could have his time over again ! 

Such wholesome reflections occupied his 
thoughts until the onset of the dusk stirred him 
to departure. He crept out of his hiding-place 
and stretched his limbs which had got very 
stiff, and was on the point of reconnoitring from 
the door of the shed when he became aware of 
stealthy footsteps outside. 

With the quickness of an animal he shot back 
into his hiding-place. The footsteps had halted. 
For a long time it seemed the unseen waited 
listening. Had he heard Bealby ? 

Then someone fumbled with the door of the 
shed, it opened and there was a long pause of 
cautious inspection. 

Then the unknown had shuffled into the shed 
and sat down on a heap of matting. 

" Gaw ! " said a voice. 

The tramp's ! 

" If ever I struck a left-handed Mascot it 
was that boy," said the tramp. " The little 
swine f " 

For the better part of two minutes he went 
on from this mild beginning to a descriptive 
elaboration of Bealby. For the first time in 
his life Bealby learnt how unfavourable was 
the impression he might leave on a fellow- 
creature's mind. 
19 



290 



BEALBY 



" Took even my matches ! " cried the 
tramp, and tried this statement over with 
variations. 

" First that old fool with his syringe ! " 
The tramp's voice rose in angry protest. 
" Here's a chap dying epilepsy on your doorstep 
and all you can do is to squirt cold water at 
him ! Cold water ! Why you might kill a 
man doing that ! And then say you'd thought' d 
bring 'im rand ! Bring 'im rand ! You be 
jolly glad I didn't stash your silly face in. You 
[misbegotten] old fool ! What's a shilling for 
wetting a man to 'is skin ? Wet through I was. 
Running inside my shirt, dripping. . . . And 
then the blooming boy clears ! 

" / don't know what boys are coming to ! 
cried the tramp. ' These board schools it is. 
Gets 'old of everything 'e can and bunks 
Gaw ! if I get my 'ands on 'im, I'll show 'im. 
I'll " 

For some time the tramp revelled in the 
details, for the most part crudely surgical, oi 
his vengeance upon Bealby. . . . 

" Then there's that dog bite. 'Ow do 
know 'ow that's going to turn at ? If I gel 
'idrophobia, blowed if I don't bite some of 'em. 
'Idrophobia. Screaming and foaming. Nict 
death for a man my time o' life ! Bark 
shall. Bark and bite. 

" And this is your world," said the tramp. 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 291 

' This is the world you put people into and 
expect 'em to be 'appy. . . . 

" I'd like to bite that dough-faced fool with 
the silly 'at. I'd enjoy biting 'im. I'd spit 
it out, but I'd bite it right enough. Wiping 
abat with 'is 'O. Gaw / Get off my ground ! 
Beorf with you. Slash. 'E ought to be shut up. 

" Where's the justice of it ? " shouted the 
tramp. " Where's the right and the sense of 
it ? What 'ave / done that I should always 
get the under side ? Why should / be stuck 
on the under side of everything ? There's 
worse men than me in all sorts of positions. . . . 
Judges there are. 'Orrible Kerecters. Ministers 
and people. I've read abat 'em in the 
papers. . . . 

" It's we tramps are the scapegoats. Some- 
body's got to suffer so as the police can show 
a face. Gaw ! Some of these days I'll do 
something. . . . I'll do something. You'll 
drive me too far with it. I tell you " 

He stopped suddenly and listened. Bealby 
had creaked. 

" Gaw ! What can one do ? " said the 
tramp after a long interval. 

And then complaining more gently, the tramp 
began to feel about to make his simple pre- 
parations for the night. 

" 'Unt me out of this I expect," said the 
tramp. " And many sleeping in feather beds 



292 BEALBY 

that ain't fit to 'old a candle to me. Not a 
hordinary farthing candle. ..." 



15 

The subsequent hour or so was an interval 
of tedious tension for Bealby. 

After vast spaces of time he was suddenly 
aware of three vertical threads of light. He 
stared at them with mysterious awe, until he 
realized that they were just the moonshine 
streaming through the cracks of the shed. 

The tramp tossed and muttered in his sleep. 

Footsteps ? 

Yes Footsteps. 

Then voices. 

They were coming along by the edge of the 
field, and coming and talking very discreetly. 

" Ugh ! " said the tramp and then softly, 
" What's that ? " Then he too became noise- 
lessly attentive. 

Bealby could hear his own heart beating. 

The men were now close outside the shed. 
" He wouldn't go in there," said Mr. Benshaw's 
voice. " He wouldn't dare. Anyhow we'll go 
up by the glass first. I'll let him have the 
whole barrel-full of oats if I get a glimpse of 
him. If he'd gone away they'd have caught 
him in the road. . . ." 

The footsteps receded. There came a cautious 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 293 

rustling on the part of the tramp and then his 
feet padded softly to the door of the shed. He 
struggled to open it, and then with a jerk got 
it open a few inches ; a great bar of moonlight 
leapt and lay still across the floor of the shed. 
Bealby advanced his head cautiously until 
he could see the black obscure indications of 
the tramp's back as he peeped out. 

" Now,'' whispered the tramp, and opened 
the door wider. Then he ducked his head 
down and had darted out of sight, leaving the 
door open behind him. 

Bealby questioned whether he should follow. 
He came out a few steps and then went back 
at a shout from away up the garden. " There 
he goes," shouted a voice, " in the shadow of 
the hedge." 

" Look out, Jim ! " Bang and a yelp. 

" Stand away ! I've got another barrel ! " 

Bang. 

Then silence for a time, and then the footsteps 
coming back. 

" That ought to teach him," said Mr. Ben- 
shaw. " First time I got him fair, and I think 
I peppered him a bit the second. Couldn't 
see very well, but I heard him yell. He won't 
forget that in a hurry. Not him. There's 
nothing like oats for fruit-stealers. Jim, just 
shut that door, will you ? That's where he 
was hiding. . . ." 



294 BEALBY 

It seemed a vast time to Bealby before he 
ventured out into the summer moonlight, and 
a very pitiful and outcast little Bealby he felt 
himself to be. 

He was beginning to realize what it means 
to go beyond the narrow securities of human 
society. He had no friends, no friends at 
all. . . . 

He caught at and arrested a sob of self-pity. 

Perhaps after all it was not so late as Bealby 
had supposed. There were still lights in some 
of the houses and he had the privilege of seeing 
Mr. Benshaw going to bed with pensive de- 
liberation. Mr. Benshaw wore a flannel night- 
shirt and said quite a lengthy prayer before 
extinguishing his candle. Then suddenly Bealby 
turned nervously and made off through the 
hedge. A dog had barked. 

At first there were nearly a dozen lighted 
windows in Crayminster. They went out one 
by one. He hung for a long time with a 
passionate earnestness on the sole surviving 
one, but that too went at last. He could have 
wept when at last it winked out. He came 
down into the marshy flats by the river, but he 
did not like the way in which the water sucked 
and swirled in the vague moonlight ; also he 
suddenly discovered a great white horse stand- 
ing quite still in the misty grass not thirty 
yards away ; so he went up to and crossed the 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 295 

high road and wandered up the hillside towards 
the allotments, which attracted him by reason 
of the sociability of the numerous tool sheds. 
In a hedge near at hand a young rabbit squealed 
sharply and was stilled. Why ? 

Then something like a short snake scrabbled 
by very fast through the grass. 

Then he thought he saw the tramp stalking 
him noiselessly behind some currant bushes. 
That went on for some time, but came to 
nothing. 

Then nothing pursued him, nothing at all. 
The gap, the void, came after him. The 
bodiless, the faceless, the formless ; these are 
evil hunters in the night. . . . 

What a cold still watching thing moonlight 
can be ! ... 

He thought he would like to get his back 
against something solid and found near one of 
the sheds a little heap of litter. He sat down 
against good tarred boards, assured at least 
that whatever came must come in front. What- 
ever he did, he was resolved, he would not shut 
his eyes. 

That would be fatal. . . . 

He awoke in broad daylight amidst a cheerful 
uproar of birds. 



296 BEALBY 

6 

And then again flight and pursuit were 
resumed. 

As Bealby went up the hill away from Cray- 
minster he saw a man standing over a spade 
and watching his retreat, and when he looked 
back again presently this man was following. 
It was Lady Laxton's five pound reward had 
done the thing for him. 

He was half minded to surrender and have 
done with it, but jail he knew was a dreadful 
thing of stone and darkness. He would make 
one last effort. So he beat along the edge of 
a plantation and then crossed it and forced his 
way through some gorse and came upon a sunken 
road, that crossed the hill in a gorse-lined 
cutting. He struggled down the steep bank. 
At its foot regardless of him, unaware of him, 
a man sat beside a motor bicycle with his fists 
gripped tight and his headjiowncast, swearing. 
A county map was crumpled in his hand. 
" Damn ! " he cried and flung the map to the 
ground and kicked it and put his foot on it. 

Bealby slipped, came down the bank with a 
run and found himself in the road within a 
couple of yards of the blonde features and angry 
eyes of Captain Douglas. When he saw the 
Captain and perceived himself recognized, he 
flopped down a done and finished Bealby. . . . 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYMINSTER 297 

7 

He had arrived just in time to interrupt the 
Captain in a wild and reprehensible fit of passion. 

The Captain imagined it was a secret fit of 
passion. He thought he was quite alone and 
that no one could hear him or see him. So 
he had let himself shout and stamp, to work 
off the nervous tensions that tormented him 
beyond endurance. 

In the direct sense of the words the Captain 
was in love with Madeleine. He was in love 
quite beyond the bounds set by refined and 
decorous people to this dangerous passion. The 
primordial savage that lurks in so many of us 
was uppermost in him. He was not in love 
with her prettily or delicately, he was in love 
with her violently and vehemently. He wanted 
to be with her, he wanted to be close to her, 
he wanted to possess her and nobody else to 
approach her. He was so inflamed now that 
no other interest in life had any importance 
except as it aided or interfered with this desire. 
He had forced himself in spite of this fever in his 
blood to leave her in order to pursue Bealby, and 
now he was regretting this firmness furiously. 
He had expected to catch Bealby overnight 
and bring him back to the hotel in triumph. 
But Bealby had been elusive. There she was, 
away there, hurt and indignant neglected ! 



298 BEALBY 

" A laggard in love," cried the Captain, " a 
dastard in war ! God ! I run away from 
everything. First I leave the manoeuvres, then 
her. Unstable as water thou shalt not pre- 
vail. Water ! What does the confounded boy 
matter ? What does he matter ? 

"And there she is. Alone! She'll flirt- 
naturally she'll flirt. Don't I deserve it ? 
Haven't I asked for it ? Just the one little 
time we might have had together ! I fling it 
in her face. You fool, you laggard, you 
dastard ! And here's this map ! " 

A breathing moment. 

" How the devil" cried the Captain, " am I 
to find the little beast on this- map ? 

" And twice he's been within reach of my 
hand ! 

" No decision ! " cried the Captain. " No 
instant grip ! What good is a soldier without 
it ? What good is any man who will not leap 
at opportunity ? I ought to have chased out 
last night after that fool and his oats. Then 
I might have had a chance ! 

" Chuck it ! Chuck the whole thing ! Go 
back to her. Kneel to her, kiss her, compel 
her! 

" And what sort of reception am I likely to 
get ? " 

He crumpled the flapping map in his fist. 

And then suddenly out of nowhere Bealby 



THE BATTLE OF CRAYM1NSTER 299 

came rolling down to his feet, a dishevelled and 
earthy Bealby. But Bealby. 

" Good Lord ! " cried the Captain, starting 
to his feet and holding the map like a sword 
sheath. " What do you want ? " 

For a second Bealby was a silent spectacle 
of misery. 

" Oooh ! I want my breckfuss" he burst out 
at last, reduced to tears. 

" Are you young Bealby ? " asked the 
Captain, seizing him by the shoulder. 

" They're after me," cried Bealby. " If they 
catch me they'll put me in prison. Where they 
don't give you anything. It wasn't me did it 
and I 'aven't had anything to eat not since 
yesterday." 

The Captain came rapidly to a decision. 
There should be no more faltering. He saw 
his way clear before him. He would act like 
a whistling sword. " Here ! jump up behind," 
he said . . . " hold on tight to me. . . ." 

8 

For a time there was a more than Napoleonic 
swiftness hi the Captain's movements. When 
Bealby's pursuer came up to the hedge that 
looks down into the sunken road, there was no 
Bealby, no Captain, nothing but a torn and 
dishevelled county map, an almost imper- 



300 BEALBY 

ceptible odour of petrol and a faint sound- 
like a distant mowing machine, and the motor 
bicycle was a mile away on the road to Beckin- 
stone. Eight miles, eight rather sickening miles, 
Bealby did to Beckinstone in eleven minutes, 
and there in a little coffee-house he was given 
breakfast with eggs and bacon and marmalade 
(Prime !) and his spirit was restored to him 
while the Captain raided a bicycle and repairing 
shop and negotiated the hire of an experienced 
but fairly comfortable wicker-work trailer. And 
so, to London through the morning sunshine, 
leaving tramps, pursuers, policemen, handbills, 
bakers, market gardeners, terrors of the dark- 
ness and everything upon the road behind 
and farther behind and remote and insig- 
nificant and so to the vanishing point. 

Some few words of explanation the Captain 
had vouchsafed and that was all. 

" Don't be afraid about it," he said. " Don't 
be in the least bit afraid. You tell them about 
it, just simply and truthfully, exactly what you 
did, exactly how you got into it and out of it 
and all about it." 

" You're going to take me up to a Magistrate, 
sir ? " 

" I'm going to take you up to the Lord 
Chancellor himself." 

" And then they won't do anything ? " 

" Nothing at all, Bealby ; you trust me. 



All you've got to do is to tell the simple 
truth. . . ." 

It was pretty rough going in the trailer but 
very exciting. If you gripped the sides very 
hard and sat quite tight nothing very much 
happened, and also there was a strap across 
your chest. And you went past everything. 
There wasn't a thing on the road the Captain 
didn't pass, lowing deeply with his great horn 
when they seemed likely to block his passage. 
And as for the burglary and everything, it 
would all be settled. . . . 

The Captain also found that ride to London 
exhilarating. At least he was no longer hang- 
ing about ; he was getting to something. He 
would be able to go back to her and all his 
being now yearned to go back to her with 
things achieved, with successes to show. He'd 
found the boy. He would go straight to dear 
I old Uncle Chickney, and Uncle Chickney would 
put things right with Moggeridge, the boy 
would bear his testimony, Moggeridge would be 
convinced and all would be well again. He 
might be back with Madeleine that evening. 
He would go back to her, and she would see 
the wisdom and energy of all he had done, and 
she would lift that dear chin of hers and smile 
that dear smile of hers and hold out her hand 
to be kissed, and the lights and reflections would 
play on that strong soft neck of hers. . . . 



302 BEALBY 

They buzzed along stretches of common and 
stretches of straight-edged meadowland, by 
woods and orchards, by pleasant inns and 
slumbering villages and the gates and lodges of 
country houses. 

These latter grew more numerous and pre- 
sently they skirted a town, and then more road, 
more villages and at last signs of a nearness 
to London, more frequent houses, more fre- 
quent inns, hoardings and advertisements, 
an asphalted side-walk, lamps, a gasworks, 
laundries, a stretch of suburban villadom, a 
suburban railway station, a suburbanized old 
town, an omnibus, the head of a tramline, a 
stretch of public common thick with notice- 
boards, a broad pavement, something-or-other 
parade, with a row of shops. . . . 

London. 



CHAPTER THE EIGHTH 
HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 

i 

T ORD CHICKNEY was only slightly older 
JLthan Lord Moggeridge, but he had not worn 
nearly so well. His hearing was not good, 
though he would never admit it, and the loss 
of several teeth greatly affected his articulation. 
One might generalize and say that neither 
physically nor mentally do soldiers wear so 
well as lawyers. The army ages men sooner 
than the law and philosophy ; it exposes them 
more freely to germs, which undermine and 
destroy, and it shelters them more completely 
from thought, which stimulates and preserves. 
-A lawyer must keep his law highly polished 
and up-to-date or he hears of it within a fort- 
night, a general never realizes he is out of 
training and behind the times until disaster is 
accomplished. Since the magnificent retreat 
from Bondy-Satina in eighty-seven and his 
five weeks' defence of Barrowgast (with the 
subsequent operations) the abilities of Lord 



304 BEALBY 

Chickney had never been exercised seriously at 
all. But there was a certain simplicity of 
manner and a very tall, very drooping, grizzled 
old-veteran picturesqueness about him that 
kept him distinguished, he was easy to recognize 
on public occasions on account of his vast 
height and his vast blonde-white moustaches, 
and so he got pointed out when greater men 
were ignored. The autograph collectors adored 
him. Every morning he would spend half an 
hour writing autographs and patriotic senti- 
ments, and the habit was so strong in him that 
on Sundays, when there was no London post, 
and autograph writing would have been wrong 
anyhow, he filled the time in copying out 
the epistle and gospel for the day. And he 
liked to be well in the foreground of public 
affairs if possible wearing his decorations. 
After the autographs he would work, some- 
times for hours, for various patriotic and 
morally aggressive societies, and more particu- 
larly for those which opposed Socialism in 
every shape and form and those which sought 
to deprive working people, and particularly 
working girls, of the temptations that arise 
from unassigned leisure. He had a peculiar 
vague horror of Socialism which he regarded 
as a compound of atheism, republicanism, 
blight, mildew, measles, and all the worst 
characteristics of a Continental sabbath, 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 305 

He wrote and toiled for these societies, but he 
could not speak for them on account of his 
teeth. For he had one peculiar weakness ; 
he had faced death in many forms but he 
had never faced a dentist. The thought of 
dentists gave him just the same sick horror 
as the thought of Socialism. But it was a 
great grief to him that he could not speak his 
mind. 

He was a man of blameless private life, a 
widower and childless. In later years he had 
come to believe that he had once been very 
deeply in love with his cousin Susan, who had 
married a rather careless husband named 
Douglas ; both she and Douglas were dead 
now, but he maintained a touching affection 
for her two lively rather than satisfying sons. 
He called them his nephews, and by the con- 
tinuous attrition of affection he had become 
their recognized uncle. He was glad when 
they came to him in their scrapes, and he liked 
to be seen about with them in public places. 
They regarded him with considerable confidence 
and respect and an affection that they some- 
times blamed themselves for as not quite warm 
enough for his merits. But there is a kind 
of injustice about affection. 

He was realty gratified when he got a wire 
from the less discreditable of these two bright 
young relations, saying, " Sorely in need of 



306 BEALBY 

your advice. Hope to bring difficulties to you 
to-day at twelve." 

He concluded very naturally that the boy 
had come to some crisis in his unfortunate 
entanglement with Madeleine Philips, and he 
was flattered by the trustfulness that brought 
the matter to him. He resolved to be delicate 
but wily, honourable, strictly honourable, but 
steadily, patiently separative. He paced his 
spacious study with his usual morning's work 
neglected, and rehearsed little sentences in his 
mind that might be effective in the approaching 
interview. There would probably be emotion. 
He would pat the lad on his shoulder and be 
himself a little emotional. "I understand, my 
boy," he would say, " I understand. 

"Don't forget, my boy, that I've been a 
young man too." 

He would be emotional, he would be sym- 
pathetic, but also he must be a man of the world. 
" Sort of thing that won't do, you know, my 
boy ; sort of thing that people will not stand. . . . 
A soldier's wife has to be a soldier's wife and 
nothing else. . . . Your business is to serve the 
King, not not some celebrity. Lovely no 
doubt, I don't deny the charm of her but on 
the hoardings, my boy. . . . Now don't you 
think don't you think ? there's some nice 
pure girl somewhere, sweet as violets, new as 
the dawn, and ready to be yours ; a girl I mean, 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 307 

a maiden fancy free, not how shall I put it ? 
a woman of the world. Wonderful I admit but 
seasoned. Public. My dear, dear boy, I knew 
your mother when she was a girl, a sweet pure 
girl a thing of dewy freshness. Ah ! Well I 

remember her ! All these years, my boy 

Nothing. It's difficult. . . ." 

Tears stood in his brave old blue eyes as he 
elaborated such phrases. He went up and 
down mumbling them through the defective 
teeth and the long moustache and waving an 
eloquent hand. 

2 

When Lord Chickney 's thoughts had once 
started in any direction it was difficult to turn 
them aside. No doubt that concealed and 
repudiated deafness helped his natural per- 
plexity of mind. Truth comes to some of us 
as a still small voice, but Lord Chickney 
needed shouting and prods. And Douglas 
did not get to him until he was finishing lunch. 
Moreover it was the weakness of Captain 
Douglas to talk in jerky fragments and under- 
tones, rather than clearly and fully in the 
American fashion. ' Tell me all about it, my 
boy," said Lord Chickney. " Tell me all 
about it. Don't apologize for your clothes. I 
understand. Motor bicycle and just come up. 
But have you had any lunch, Eric ? " 



308 BEALBY 

" Alan, uncle, not Eric. My brother is 
Eric." 

" Well, I called him Alan. Tell me all about 
it. Tell me what has happened. What are you 
thinking of doing ? Just put the position 
before me. To tell you the truth I've been 
worrying over this business for some time." 

" Didn't know you'd heard of it, uncle. He 
can't have talked about it already. Anyhow, 
you see all the awkwardness of the situation. 
They say the old chap's a thundering spiteful 
old devil when he's roused and there's no 
doubt he was roused. . . . Tremendously. . . ." 

Lord Chickney was not listening very atten- 
tively. Indeed he was also talking. " Not 
clear to me there was another man in it," he 
was saying. " That makes it more compli- 
cated, my boy, makes the row acuter. Old 
fellow, eh ? Who ? " 

They came to a pause at the same moment. 

" You speak so indistinctly," complained 
Lord Chickney. " Who did you say ? " 

" I thought you understood. Lord Mogger- 
idge." 

"Lord ! Lord Moggeridge ! My dear Boy! 

But how ? " 

" I thought you understood, uncle." 

" He doesn't want to marry her ! Tut ! 
Never ! Why the man must be sixty if he's 
a day. . . ." 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 309 

Captain Douglas regarded his distinguished 
uncle for a moment with distressed eyes. 
Then he came nearer, raised his voice and spoke 
more deliberately. 

" I don't know whether you quite under- 
stand, uncle. I am talking about this affair 
at Shonts last week-end." 

" My dear Boy, there's no need for you to 
shout. If only you don't mumble and clip 
your words and turn head over heels with 
your ideas. Just tell me about it plainly. 
Who is Shonts ? One of those Liberal peers ? 
I seem to have heard the name. . . ." 

" Shonts, uncle, is the house the Laxtons 
have ; you know, Lucy." 

" Little Lucy ! I remember her. Curls all 
down her back. Married the milkman. But 
how does she come in, Alan ? The story's 
getting complicated. But that's the worst 
of these infernal affairs, they always do get 
complicated. Tangled skeins 

Oh what a tangled web we weave, 
When first we venture to deceive. 

And now, like a sensible man, you want to get 
out of it." 

Captain Douglas was bright pink with the 
effort to control himself and keep perfectly 
plain and straightforward. His hair had be- 
come like tow and little beads of perspiration 
stood upon his forehead. 



310 BEALBY 

" I spent last week-end at Shonts/ 1 he said. 
" Lord Moggeridge, also there, week-ending. 
Got it into his head that I was pulling his leg." 

" Naturally, my boy, if he goes philandering. 
At his time of life. What else can he expect ? " 

" It wasn't philandering." 

" Fine distinctions. Fine distinctions. Go on 
anyhow." 

"He got it into his head that I was playing 
practical jokes upon him. Confused me with 
Eric. It led to a rather first-class row. I 
had to get out of the house. Nothing else to 
do. He brought all sorts of accusations " 

Captain Douglas stopped short. His uncle 
was no longer attending to him. They had 
drifted to the window of the study and the 
General was staring with an excitement and 
intelligence that grew visibly at the spectacle 
of Bealby and the trailer outside. For Bealby 
had been left in the trailer and he was sitting 
as good as gold waiting for the next step in 
his vindication from the dark charge of bur- 
glary. He was very travel-worn and the 
trailer was time-worn as well as travel-worn, 
and both contrasted with the efficient neat- 
ness and newness of the motor bicycle in front. 
The contrast had attracted the attention of 
a tall policeman who was standing in a state 
of elucidatory meditation regarding Bealby. 
Bealby was not regarding the policeman. He 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 311 

had the utmost confidence in Captain Douglas, 
he felt sure that he would presently be purged 
of all the horror of that dead old man and of 
the brief unpremeditated plunge into crime, 
but still for the present at any rate he did not 
feel equal to staring a policeman out of counte- 
nance. . . . 

From the window the policeman very largely 
obscured Bealby. . . . 

Whenever hearts are simple there lurks 
romance. Age cannot wither nor custom stale 
her infinite diversity. Suddenly out of your 
kindly diplomacies, your sane man-of-the- 
world intentions, leaps the imagination like a 
rocket, flying from such safe securities bang 
into the sky. So it happened to the old General . 
He became deaf to everything but the appear- 
ances before him. The world was jewelled 
with dazzling and delightful possibilities. His 
face was lit by a glow of genuine romantic 
excitement. He grasped his nephew's arm. 
He pointed. His grizzled cheeks flushed. 

" That isn't," he asked with something 
verging upon admiration in his voice and 
manner, " a Certain Lady in disguise ? " 

3 

It became clear to Captain Douglas that if 
ever he was to get to Lord Moggeridge that 



312 BEALBY 

day he must take his uncle firmly in hand. 
Without even attempting not to appear to 
shout he cried, " That is a little Boy. That 
is my Witness. It is Most Important that I 
should get him to Lord Moggeridge to tell 
his Story." 

" Wliat story ? " cried the old commander 
pulling at his moustache and still eyeing 
Bealby suspiciously. . . . 

It took exactly half an hour to get Lord 
Chickney from that inquiry to the telephone 
and even then he was still far from clear about 
the matter in hand. Captain Douglas got in 
most of the facts, but he could not eliminate 
an idea that it all had to do with Madeleine. 
Whenever he tried to say clearly that she was 
entirely outside the question, the General patted 
his shoulder and looked very wise and kind 
and said, " My dear Boy, I quite understand ; 
I quite understand. Never mention a lady. 
No." 

So they started at last rather foggily so far 
as things of the mind went, though the sun 
that day was brilliant and because of engine 
trouble in Port Street the General's hansom 
reached Little Tenby Street first and he got 
in a good five minutes preparing the Lord 
Chancellor tactfully and carefully before the 
bicycle and its trailer came upon the scene. . . . 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 313 

4 

Candler had been packing that morning with 
unusual solicitude for a week-end at Tulliver 
Abbey. His master had returned from the 
catastrophe of Shonts, fatigued, visibly aged 
and extraordinarily cross, and Candler looked 
to Tulliver Abbey to restore him to his former 
self. Nothing must be forgotten ; there must 
be no little hitches, everything from first to 
last must go on oiled wheels, or it was clear 
his lordship might develop a desperate hostility 
to these excursions, excursions which Candler 
found singularly refreshing and entertaining 
during the stresses of the session. Tulliver 
Abbey was as good a house as Shonts was bad ; 
Lady Checksammington ruled with the softness 
of velvet and the strength of steel over a house- 
hold of admirably efficient domestics, and there 
would be the best of people there, Mr. Evesham 
perhaps, the Loopers, Lady Privet, Andreas 
Doria and Mr. Pernambuco, great silken mellow 
personages and diamond-like individualities, 
amidst whom Lord Moggeridge's mind would 
be restfully active and his comfort quite secure. 
And as far as possible Candler wanted to get 
the books and papers his master needed into 
the trunk or the small valise. That habit 
of catching up everything at the last moment 
and putting it under his arm and the consequent 



314 BEALBY 

need for alert picking up, meant friction and 
nervous wear and tear for both master and 
man. 

Lord Moggeridge rose at half-past ten he 
had been kept late overnight by a heated dis- 
cussion at the Aristotelian- and breakfasted 
lightly upon a chop and coffee. Then some- 
thing ruffled him ; something that came with 
the letters. Candler could not quite make out 
what it was but he suspected another pamphlet 
by Dr. Schiller. It could not be the chop 
because Lord Moggeridge was always wonder- 
fully successful with chops. Candler looked 
through the envelopes and letters afterwards 
and found nothing diagnostic, and then he 
observed a copy of Mind torn across and lying 
in the waste-paper basket. 

" When I went out of the room," said Candler 
discreetly examining this. " Very likely it's 
that there Schiller after all." 

But in this Candler was mistaken. What 
had disturbed the Lord Chancellor was a 
coarsely disrespectful article on the Absolute 
by a Cambridge Rhodes scholar written in that 
flighty facetious strain that spreads now like 
a pestilence over modern philosophical discus- 
sion. " Does the Absolute, on Lord Moggeridge's 
own showing, mean anything more than an 
eloquent oiliness uniformly distributed through 
space ? " and so on. 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 315 

Pretty bad ! 

Lord Moggeridge early in life had deliberately 
acquired a quite exceptional power of mental 
self-control. He took his perturbed mind now 
and threw it forcibly into the consideration of 
a case upon which he had reserved judgment. 
jHe was to catch the 3.35 at Paddington, and at 
[two he was smoking a cigar after a temperate 
[lunch and reading over the notes of this judg- 
ment. It was then that the telephone bell 
I became audible, and Candler came in to inform 
him that Lord Chickney was anxious to see 
him at once upon a matter of some slight 
importance. 

" Slight importance ? " asked Lord Mogger- 
idge. 

" Some slight importance, my lord." 

" Some ? Slight ? " 

'Is lordship, my lord, mumbles rather 
mow 'is back teeth 'ave gone/' said Candler, 
" but so I understand 'im." 

' These apologetic assertive phrases annoy 
{me, Candler," said Lord Moggeridge over his 
khoulder. ' You see," he turned round and 
jspoke very clearly, " either the matter is of 
importance or it is not of importance. A thing 
(must either be or not be. I wish you would 
jmanage when you get messages on the tele- 

iphone . . . But I suppose that is asking too 

irnuch. . . . Will you explain to him, Candler, 



316 BEALBY 

when we start, and ask him, Candler ask 
him what sort of matter it is." 

Candler returned after some parleying. 

" So far as I can make 'is lordship out, my 
lord, 'e says 'e wants to set you right about 
something, my lord. He says something about 
a little misapprehension." 

" These diminutives, Candler, kill sense. 
Does he say what sort what sort of little 
misapprehension ? " 

" He says something I'm sorry, my lord, 
but it's about Shonts, my lord." 

" Then I don't want to hear about it," said 
Lord Moggeridge. 

There was a pause. The Lord Chancellor 
resumed his reading with a deliberate obvious- 
ness ; the butler hovered. 

" I'm sorry, my lord, but I can't think exactly 
what I ought to say to 'is lordship, my lord." 

' Tell him tell him that I do not wish to 
hear anything more about Shonts for ever. 
Simply." 

Candler hesitated and went out, shutting 
the door carefully lest any fragment of his 
halting rendering of this message to Lord 
Chickney should reach his master's ears. 

Lord Moggeridge's powers of mental control 

were, I say, very great He could dismiss 

subjects from his mind absolutely. In a few 
instants he had completely forgotten Shonts 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 317 

and was making notes with a silver-cased pencil 
on the margins of his draft judgment. 



5 

He became aware that Candler had returned. 

" 'Is lordship, Lord Chickney, my lord, is 

I very persistent, my lord. 'E's rung up twice. 

I'E says now that 'e makes a personal matter 

[of it. Come what may, 'e says, 'e wishes to 

speak for two minutes to your lordship. Over 

the telephone, my lord, 'e vouchsafes no further 

[information." 

Lord Moggendge meditated over the end of 
lis third after-lunch cigar. His man watched 
:he end of his left eyebrow as an engineer might 
;vatch a steam gauge. There were no signs of 
in explosion. " He must come, Candler," his 
ordship said at last. . . . 
" Oh, Candler ! " 
" My lord ? " 

" Put the bags and things in a conspicuous 
osition in the hall, Candler. Change yourself, 
d see that you look thoroughly like* trains. 
d in fact have everything ready, prominently 
eady, Candler." 

Then once more Lord Moggeridge concentrated 
lis mind. 






3i8 BEALBY 

6 

To him there presently entered Lord Chick- 
ney. 

Lord Chickney had been twice round the 
world and he had seen many strange and dusky 
peoples and many remarkable customs and 
peculiar prejudices, which he had never failed 
to despise, but he had never completely shaken 
off the county family ideas in which he had 
been brought up. He believed that there was 
an incurable difference in spirit between quite 
good people like himself and men from down 
below like Moggeridge, who was the son of an 
Exeter chorister. He believed that these men 
from nowhere always cherished the profoundest 
respect for the real thing like himself, that they 
were greedy for association and gratified by 
notice, and so for the life of him he could not 
approach Lord Moggeridge without a faint 
sense of condescension. He saluted him as 
" my dear Lord Moggeridge," wrung his 
hand with effusion, and asked him kind, 
almost district-visiting questions about his 
younger brother and the aspect of his house. 
" And you are just off, I see, for a week- 
end." 

These amenities the Lord Chancellor acknow- 
ledged by faint gruntings and an almost imper- 
ceptible movement of his eyebrows. " There 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 319 

was a matter," he said, " some little matter, on 
which you want to consult me ? " 

' Well," said Lord Chickney and rubbed his 
chin. ' Yes. Yes, there was a little matter, 

a little trouble " 

" Of an urgent nature." 
' Yes. Yes. Exactly. Just a little com- 
plicated, you know, not quite simple." The 
[dear old soldier's manner became almost 
I seductive. " One of these difficult little affairs, 
where one has to remember that one is a man 
of the world, you know. A little complication 
about a lady, known to you both. But one 
must make concessions, one must understand. 
The boy has a witness. Things are not as you 
supposed them to be." 

Lord Moggeridge had a clean conscience 
,bout ladies ; he drew out his watch and 
ooked at it aggressively. He kept it in his 
and during his subsequent remarks. 

I must confess," he declared, " I have not 
he remotest idea. ... If you will be so good 
s to be elementary. What is it all about ? " 
You see I knew the lad's mother," said 

ord Chickney. " In fact " He became 

sanely confidential " Under happier circum- 
tances don't misunderstand me, Moggeridge ; 
mean no evil but he might have been my 
n. I feel for him like a son. 



320 BEALBY 

7 

When presently Captain Douglas, a little 
heated from his engine trouble, came into the 
room he had left Bealby with Candler in the 
hall it was instantly manifest to him that 
the work of preparation had been inadequately 
performed. 

" One minute more, my dear Alan," cried 
Lord Chickney. 

Lord Moggeridge with eyebrows waving and 
watch in hand was of a different opinion. He 
addressed himself to Captain Douglas. 

' There isn't a minute more," he said. 
" What is all this this philoprogenitive rig- 
marole about ? Why have you come to me ? 
My cab is outside now. All this about ladies 
and witnesses ; what is it ? " 

" Perfectly simple, my lord ! You imagine 
that I played practical jokes upon you at 
Shonts. I didn't. I have a witness. The 
attack upon you downstairs, the noise in your 
room " 

" Have I any guarantee ? " 

" It's the steward's boy from Shonts. Your 
man outside knows him. Saw him in the 
steward's room. He made the trouble for you 
and me, and then he ran away. Just caught 
him. Not exchanged thirty words with him. 
Half a dozen questions. Settle everything, 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 321 

Then you'll know nothing for you but the 
utmost respect." 

Lord Moggeridge pressed his lips together 
and resisted conviction. 

" In consideration," interpolated Lord Chick- 
ney, " feelings of an old fellow. Old soldier. 
Boy means no harm." 

With the rudeness of one sorely tried the 
Lord Chancellor thrust the General aside. 
" Oh ! " he said, " Oh ! " and then to Captain 
Douglas. " One minute. Where's your wit- 
ness ? . . ." 

The Captain opened a door. Bealby found 
limself bundled into the presence of two 
elebrated men. 

' Tell him," said Captain Douglas. " And 
ook sharp about it." 

' Tell me plainly," cried the Lord Chancellor. 
' And be quick." 

He put such a point on " quick " that it 
made Bealby jump. 

"Tell him," said the General more gently. 
' Don't be afraid." 

' Well," began Bealby after one accumulating 
pause, "it was 'im told me to do it. 'E said 

ou go in there " 

The Captain would have interrupted but 
he Lord Chancellor restrained him by a 
Tiagnificent gesture of the hand holding the 
vatch. 

21 



322 BEALBY 

"He told you to do it!" he said. "I 
knew he did. Now listen ! He told you 
practically to go in and do anything you 
could." 

" Yessir." Woe took possession of Bealby. 
" I didn't do any 'arm to the ole gentleman." 

" But who told you ? " cried the Captain. 
" Who told you ? " 

Lord Moggeridge annihilated him with arm 
and eyebrows. He held Bealby fascinated by 
a pointing ringer. 

" Don't do more than answer the questions. 
I have thirty seconds more. He told you to 
go in. He made you go in. At the earliest 
possible opportunity you got away ? " 

" I jest nipped out " 

" Enough ! And now, sir, how dare you 
come here without even a plausible lie ? How 
dare you after your intolerable tomfoolery at 
Shonts confront me again with fresh tom- 
foolery ? How dare you drag in your gallant 
and venerable uncle in this last preposterous 
I suppose you would call it lark \ I suppose 
you had prepared that little wretch with some 
fine story. Little you know of False Witness ! 
At the first question, he breaks down ! He 
does not even begin his lie. He at least knows 
the difference between my standards and yours. 
Candler ! Candler ! " 

Candler appeared. 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 323 

' These these gentlemen are going. Is 
everything ready ? " 

' The cab is at the door, m'lord. The usual 
cab." 

Captain Douglas made one last desperate 
effort. " Sir ! " he said. " My lord " 

The Lord Chancellor turned upon him with 
a face that he sought to keep calm, though 
the eyebrows waved and streamed like black 
smoke in a gale. " Captain Douglas/' he said, 
" you are probably not aware of the demands 
upon the time and patience of a public servant 
in such a position as mine. You see the world 
no doubt as a vastly entertaining fabric upon 
which you can embroider your your facetious 
arrangements. Well, it is not so. It is real. 
It is earnest. You may sneer at the sim- 
plicity of an old man, but what I tell you of life 
is true. Comic effect is not, believe me, its 
goal. And you, sir, you, sir, you impress me 
as an intolerably foolish, flippant and unneces- 
sary young man. Flippant. Unnecessary. 
Foolish." 

As he said these words Candler approached 
him with a dust coat of a peculiar fineness and 
dignity, and he uttered the last words over 
his protruded chest while Candler assisted 
his arms into his sleeves. 

" My lord," said Captain Douglas again, 
but his resolution was deserting him. 



324 BEALBY 

" No," said the Lord Chancellor, leaning 
forward in a minatory manner while Candler 
pulled down the tail of his jacket and adjusted 
the collar of his overcoat. 

' Uncle," said Captain Douglas. 

" No" said the General, with the curt de- 
cision of a soldier and turned exactly ninety 
degrees away from him. " You little know 
how you have hurt me, Alan ! You little 
know. I couldn't have imagined it. The 
Douglas strain ! False Witness and insult. 
I am sorry, my dear Moggeridge, beyond 
measure." 

" I quite understand you are as much a 
victim as myself. Quite. A more foolish 
attempt I am sorry to be in this hurry ' 

" Oh ! You damned little fool," said the 
Captain and advanced a step towards the per- 
plexed and shrinking Bealby. " You imbecile 
little trickster ! What do you mean by it ? " 

" I didn't mean anything ! " 

Then suddenly the thought of Madeleine, 
sweet and overpowering, came into the head 
of this distraught young man. He had risked 
losing her, he had slighted and insulted her 
and here he was entangled. Here he was 
in a position of nearly inconceivable foolish- 
ness, about to assault a dirty and silly little 
boy in the presence of the Lord Chancellor 
and Uncle Chickney. The world, he felt, was 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 325 

lost, and not well lost. And she was lost too. 
Even now while he pursued these follies she 
might be consoling her wounded pride. . . . 

He perceived that love is the supreme thing 
in life. He perceived that he who divides his 
purposes scatters his life to the four winds of 
heaven. A vehement resolve to cut the whole 
of this Bealby business pounced upon him. 
In that moment he ceased to care for reputation, 
for appearances, for the resentment of Lord 
Moggeridge or the good intentions of Uncle 
Chickney. 

He turned, he rushed out of the room. He 
escaped by unparalleled gymnastics the worst 
consequences of an encounter with the Lord 
Chancellor's bag which the under-butler had 
placed rather tactlessly between the doors, 
crossed the wide and dignified hall, and in 
another moment had his engine going and was 
struggling to mount his machine in the street 
without. His face expressed an almost apo- 
plectic concentration. He narrowly missed the 
noses of a pair of horses in the carriage of 
Lady Beach Mandarin, made an extraordinary 
curve to spare a fishmonger's tricycle, shaved 
the front and completely destroyed the gesture 
of that eminent actor manager, Mr. Pome- 
granate, who was crossing the road in his usual 
inadvertent fashion, and then he was popping 
and throbbing and banging round the comer 



326 BEALBY 

and on his way back to the lovely and irre- 
sistible woman who was exerting so disastrous 
an influence upon his career 



8 

The Captain fled from London in the utmost 
fury and to the general danger of the public. 
His heart was full of wicked blasphemies, 
shoutings and self-reproaches, but outwardly 
he seemed only pinkly intent. And as he 
crossed an open breezy common and passed by 
a milestone bearing this inscription, ' To 
London Thirteen Miles," his hind tyre burst 
conclusively with a massive report. . . . 

9 

In every life there are crucial moments, 
turning points, and not infrequently it is just 
such a thing as this, a report, a sudden waking 
in the night, a flash upon the road to Damascus 
that marks and precipitates the accumulating 
new. Vehemence is not concentration. The 
headlong violence of the Captain had been no 
expression of a single-minded purpose, of a soul 
all gathered together to an end. Far less a 
pursuit had it been than a flight, a flight from 
his own dissensions. And now now he was 
held. 






HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 327 

After he had attempted a few plausible 
repairs and found the tyre obdurate, after he 
had addressed ill-chosen remonstrances to some 
unnamed hearer, after he had walked some way 
along the road and back in an indecision about 
repair shops in some neighbouring town, the 
last dregs of his resistance were spent. He 
perceived that he was in the presence of a 
Lesson. He sat down by the roadside some 
twenty feet from the disabled motor bicycle, 
and, impotent for further effort, frankly ad- 
mitted himself overtaken. He had not reckoned 
with punctures. 

The pursuing questions came clambering 
upon him and would no longer be denied : who 
he was and what he was and how he was, and 
the meaning of this Rare Bate he had been 
in, and all those deep questions that are so 
systematically neglected in the haste and excite- 
ment of modern life. 

In short, for the first time in many headlong 
days he asked himself simply and plainly what 
he thought he was up to ? 

Certain things became clear, and so minutely 
and exactly clear that it was incredible that 
they had ever for a moment been obscure. Of 
course Bealby had been a perfectly honest little 
boy, under some sort of misconception, and of 
course he ought to have been carefully coached 
and prepared and rehearsed before he was put 



328 BEALBY 

before the Lord Chancellor. This was so 
manifest now that the Captain stared aghast 
at his own inconceivable negligence. But the 
mischief was done. Nothing now would ever 
propitiate Moggeridge, nothing now would ever 
reconcile Uncle Chickney. That was settled. 
But what was not settled was the amazing 
disorder of his own mind. Why had he been 
so negligent, what had come over his mind in 
the last few weeks ? 

And this sudden strange illumination of the 
Captain's mind went so far as perceiving that 
the really important concern for him was 
not the accidents of Shonts but this epilepsy 
of his own will. Why now was he rushing 
back to Madeleine ? Why ? He did not 
love her. He knew he did not love her. On 
the whole, more than anything else he resented 
her. 

But he was excited about her, he was so 
excited that these other muddles, fluctuations, 
follies, came as a natural consequence from 
that. Out of this excitement came those wild 
floods of angry energy that made him career 
about 

" Like some damned Cracker," said the 
Captain. 

" For instance," he asked himself, " now I 
what am I going for ? " 

" If I go back she'll probably behave like 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 329 

an offended Queen. Doesn't seem to under- 
stand anything that does not focus on herself. 
Wants a sort of Limelight Lover. . . . 

" She relies upon exciting me ! 

" She relies upon exciting everyone ! she's 
just a woman specialized for excitement." 

And after meditating through a profound 
minute upon this judgment, the Captain pro- 
nounced these two epoch-making words : " / 
won't ! " 

10 

The Captain's mind was now in a state of 
almost violent lucidity. 

"This sex stuff," he said, "first I kept it 
under too tight and now I've let it rip too 
loose. 

'I've been just a distracted fool, with my 
head swimming with meetings and embraces 
and frills." 

He produced some long impending generaliza- 
tions. 

" Not a man's work, this Lover business. 
Dancing about in a world of petticoats and 
powder puffs and attentions and jealousies. 
Rotten game. . . . Played off against some 
other man. . . . 

" I'll be hanged if I am. . . . 

" Have to put women in their places. . . . 

" Make a hash of everything if we don't. ..." 



330 BEALBY 

Then for a time the Captain meditated in 
silence and chewed his knuckle. His face 
darkened to a scowl. He swore as though 
some thought twisted and tormented him. 
" Let some other man get her ! Think of her 
with some other man. 

" I don't care," he said, when obviously h< 
did. " There's other women in the world. 

" A man a man mustn't care for that. . 

" It's this or that," said the Captain, " any- 
how. . . ." 

ii 

Suddenly the Captain's mind was made up 
and done. 

He arose to his feet and his face was firm 
and tranquil and now nearer pallor than pink. 
He left his bicycle and trailer by the wayside 
even as Christian left his burden. He asked a 
passing nurse-girl the way to the nearest railway 
station and thither he went. Incidentally and 
because the opportunity offered he called in 
upon a cyclist's repair shop and committed his 
abandoned machinery to its keeping. He went 
straight to London, changed at his flat, dined 
at his club and caught the night train for 
France for France and whatever was left of 
the grand manoeuvres. 

He wrote a letter to Madeleine from the 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 331 

Est train next day, using their customary 
endearments, avoiding any discussion of their 
relations and describing the scenery of the 
Seine valley and the characteristics of Rouen 
in a few vivid and masterly phrases. 

" If she's worth having she'll understand/' 
said the Captain, but he knew perfectly well 
jshe would not understand. 

Mrs. Geedge noted this letter among the 
lothers, and afterwards she was much exercised 
[by Madeleine's behaviour. For suddenly that 
lady became extraordinarily gay and joyous 
in her bearing, singing snatches of song and 
bubbling over with suggestions for larks and 
[picnics and wild excursions. She patted Mr. 
fceedge on the shoulder and ran her arm through 
the arm of Professor Bowles. Both gentlemen 
received these familiarities with a gawky coyness 
khat Mrs. Geedge found contemptible. And 
moreover Madeleine drew several shy strangers 
into their circle. She invited the management 
[to a happy participation. 

Her great idea was a moonlight picnic. 
' We'll have a great camp-fire and afterwards 
[we'll dance this very night." 

" But wouldn't it be better to-morrow ? " 
1 To-night ! " 

' To-morrow perhaps Captain Douglas may 
back again. And he's so good at all these 



333 BEALBY 

Mrs. Geedge knew better because she had 
seen the French stamp on the letter, but she 
meant to get to the bottom of this business, 
and thus it was she said this. 

" I've sent him back to his soldiering," said 
Madeleine serenely. " He has better things 
to do." 

12 

For some moments after the unceremonious 
departure of Captain Douglas from the presence 
of Lord Moggeridge, it did not occur to anyone, 
it did not occur even to Bealby, that the 
Captain had left his witness behind him. The 
General and the Lord Chancellor moved into 
the hall, and Bealby, under the sway of a 
swift compelling gesture from Candler, followed 
modestly. The same current swept them all 
out into the portico, and while the under- 
butler whistled up a hansom for the General, 
the Lord Chancellor with a dignity that was at 
once polite and rapid, and with Candler gravely 
protective and a little reproving, departed. 
Bealby, slowly apprehending their desertion, 
regarded the world of London with perplexity 
and dismay. Candler had gone. The last of 
the gentlemen was going. The under-butler, 
Bealby felt, was no friend. Under-butlers 
never are. 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 333 

Lord Chickney in the very act of entering 
his cab had his coat-tail tugged. He looked 
inquiringly. 

' Please, sir, there's me," said Bealby. 
Lord Chickney reflected. " Well ? " he 
said. 

The spirit of Bealby was now greatly abased, 
face and voice betrayed him on the verge 

tears. " I want to go 'ome to Shonts, 
i 

Well, my boy, go 'ome go home I mean 
:o Shonts." 

' 'E's gone, sir," said Bealby. . . . 
Lord Chickney was a good-hearted man, and 
le knew that a certain public kindliness and 
iisregard of appearances, looks far better and 
s infinitely more popular than a punctilious 
iignity. He took Bealby to Waterloo in his 
lansom, got him a third-class ticket to Chel- 
>ome, tipped a porter to see him safely into his 
:rain and dismissed him in the most fatherly 
nanner. 

13 

It was well after tea-time, Bealby felt, as he 
;ame once more within the boundaries of the 
Shonts estate. 

It was a wiser and a graver Bealby who 
eturned from this week of miscellaneous ad- 



334 BEALBY 

venture. He did not clearly understand all 
that had happened to him ; in particular he was 
puzzled by the extreme annoyance and sudden 
departure of Captain Douglas from the presence 
of Lord Moggeridge ; but his general impression 
was that he had been in great peril of dire 
punishment and that he had been rather hastily 
and ignominiously reprieved. The nice old 
gentleman with the long grey moustaches had 
dismissed him to the train at last with a quality 
of benediction. But Bealby understood now 
better than he had done before that adventures 
do not always turn out well for the boy hero, 
and that the social system has a number of 
dangerous and disagreeable holes at the 
bottom. He had reached the beginnings of 
wisdom. He was glad he had got away from the 
tramp and still gladder that he had got away 
from Crayminster ; he was sorry that he would 
never see the beautiful lady again, and per- 
plexed and perplexed. And also he was 
interested in the probability of his mother 
having toast for tea. . . . 

It must, he felt, be a long time after tea-time, 
quite late. . . . 

He had weighed the advisability of returning 
quietly to his windowless bedroom under the 
stairs, putting on his little green apron and 
emerging with a dutiful sang-froid as if nothing 
had happened, on the one hand, or of going to 



HOW BEALBY EXPLAINED 335 

the gardens on the other. But tea with 
eatables seemed more probable at the 
gardens. . . . 

He was deflected from the direct route 
across the park by a long deep trench, that 
someone had made and abandoned since the 
previous Sunday morning. He wondered what 
it was for. It was certainly very ugly. And 
as he came out by the trees and got the full 
effect of the fa$ade, he detected a strangely 
bandaged quality about Shonts. It was as if 
Shouts had recently been in a fight and got a 
black eye. Then he saw the reason for this ; one 
;ower was swathed in scaffolding. He wondered 
what could have happened to the tower. Then 
lis own troubles resumed their sway. 

He was so fortunate as not to meet his 
'ather in the gardens, and he entered the house 
so meekly that his mother did not look up from 
the cashmere she was sewing. She was sitting 
it the table sewing some newly dyed black 
ashmere. 

He was astonished at her extreme pallor and 
the drooping resignation of her pose. 

" Mother ! " he said and she looked up 
:onvulsively and stared, stared with bright 
round astonished eyes. 

" I'm sorry, mother, I 'aven't been quite a 
*ood steward' s-room boy, mother. If I could 
ave another go, mother. ..." 



336 BEALBY 

He halted for a moment, astonished that 
she said nothing, but only sat with that 
strange expression and opened and shut her 
mouth. 

" Reely I'd try, mother. ..." 



Printed by MORRHON & GIBB LIMITED, 



SPKING, 1915 



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