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" ' Please ' " 








Published August, 191S 




2134437 . 



; Please ' " .Frontispiece 

1 Let me pour it out for you ' " 40 

'This is the little friend you have read so 

much about ' " 264 

He heard Mrs. Dysart exclaim: 'Bella!' " 326 


THE Poet lay out on the sands with head on elbow, 
attentive to the sea; the girl's shadow fell over 
him softly from behind. For awhile he did not raise 
his eyes, having already said : " No, thank you," to a 
photographer with stained fingers, and a girl tugging 
a great basket of pears. He studied, not without 
amusement, the irresolute shadow cast diagonally across 
him; noted its sex, divined the favor difficult of formu- 
lation, and smiled at the silent combat between timid- 
ity and inertness. Once, indeed, he deemed the conflict 
terminated in defeat, for the shadow shortened, and he 
was making ready in mind to turn on elbow after its 
withdrawal to see with what manner of shade his im- 
mobility had been doing battle, when he was apos- 
trophized with a trepid " Please ! " 

Thereat, without delay, he turned, for the soft tim- 
idity of the word appealed to his chivalrous parts, and 
his fibers responded to an unmistakable music in the 
voice, that had nothing of the metallic deprecation of 
the professional supplicant. The word was pitched low, 
as if almost its diffidence had the hope not to be heard; 
a word rehearsed in trial of courage rather than proof 
of it. Without response, he knew, the appeal would 
never be repeated, and his mirth was part remorseful 
to think it had been indulged on so meek a petitioner. 



He was sorrier still when he met the gray eyes that 
reposed their sober glance upon his own, and saw the 
loose volume of unribboned hair that fell upon the 
girl's shoulder like sunlit water poured solidly from 
a pail. It was cut square in front, a deep flat band 
that ruled off nearly all her forehead except a thin 
divisional width to define the level brows beneath. Her 
face was partly shaded by a big sun hat of brown straw 
trimmed with a pretty rose kerchief, that had slid back- 
ward over her glossy hair, and was held in vertical sus- 
pension by a narrow white band passed beneath her 
chin impressing itself to extinction in the softness of 
her throat. She wore a pleated serge frock of navy 
blue; a white flannel tunic with gilt buttons; black 
stockings and white canvas sand shoes, and in her right 
hand she held a ball of stitched leather and sawdust 
attached to her middle finger by half a yard of elastic. 
The word whose passage had divided her lips had left 
them still apart, expectant yet visibly in awe of their 
own temerity; slender lips through which the Poet 
discerned the gleam of very small and very white and 
level teeth beyond. As he raised himself on his hand 
a tremor of humility passed through 'the lips again, and 
the girl repeated her prefatory " Please," mingled with 
a hurried request for his pardon. She had not meant 
to disturb him. But was he going to stay there long? 
Was he? Well, then ... if he really was, might she 
leave her shoes and stockings with him until he went 
away? Might she? Would he mind very much? 

' Not a bit. I will take care of them for you with 
pleasure," he said. It did not even occur to him to be 
amused at the nature of the question, at the time, for 
the girl's gray eyes and grave lips seemed to naturalize 
the appeal and make it very legitimate and sober. He 
only felt the flattery of being selected for her pur- 


pose, and for the rest admired the unaffected manner 
in which she tended the request. And though on his 
elbow he still continued to regard her, she seated her- 
self on the sand just where she had addressed him and 
proceeded without the least delay or subterfuge to draw 
off her stockings, tugging them over each obstinate 
round heel in turn; rolling each into its respective shoe 
and completing their union with a garter. After which 
she insinuated the shoes and stockings sufficiently near 
to the Poet's elbow to bear a semblance of owning his 
protection; gave him her thanks again; smiled a gen- 
erous smile of solemn good faith, and left him, tracing 
small irresolute footprints toward the sea. 

At the twelfth footprint she hesitated, and came 
back to the Poet, her eyes and lips filled with the spirit 
of apology and meekness. She was sorry to trouble 
him again so soon. But her watch had stopped. Look ! 
She held it out corroboratively on her wrist. And 
would he have the least objection to telling her the 

The Poet smiled his reassuring best, and told her: 
" Not at all." He was sensible that the moment he 
withdrew his gaze to note the dial, the girl's eyes, de- 
spite their meekness, evinced wonderful alacrity in tak- 
ing stock of him. By the time he met her gaze again 
he was aware she had surveyed the whole promontory 
of his person from head to foot, for though her eye 
was ready to receive his own, it had the quickened 
and conscious look of a traveler but late returned; a 
traveler, the Poet aspired to think, not altogether dis- 
couraged with the features of this new territory, and 
by disposition friendly. 

And this was not surprising, for the Poet had little 
affinity with the humorist's portrayal of his species. 
True, his dark brown hair, though scrupulously brushed, 


hinted in the most delicate and indefinable manner at 
artistic negligence, as if its natural bias were to locks 
and tendrils, but the tendency obeyed a wise and metri- 
cal restraint like the Poet's own verse. And the Poet's 
face, smooth and beardless and boyish, was subtly dis- 
tinguishable from the countenance of the mere follower 
of fashion by a sober thoughtfulness that seemed to 
have its seat in chief upon the Poet's slightly contracted 
lashes. For his eye was one of those so-called musical 
eyes that appear never to focus outward things to their 
sharpest material definition, but sensed them rather 
through a spiritual veil of comprehension, as though 
they had voices for him, too, and he listened and could 
hear them. Until he smiled the dark lashes made a sort 
of screen to the brown eyes, so that thought sat dimly 
ensconced in a tabernacle, and not quite face to face 
with the outer world. But at a smile and when he 
spoke his smile lit up his speech to a fine degree of 
animation the brown eyes showed in full: orbs of 
quick perception and bright response, swimming in an 
element of gladness quite unlike the pungent quality 
that sharpens the features of your man of laughter, 
though laughter was in truth twin-brother to his soul 
and plucked at all times irresponsibly on the poetic lyre 
when its strings were idle. And then, there was youth 
in common between the Poet and the girl, for after all 
the solemn name of Poet in Brandor's case mantled but 
a boy in years, and younger still in feeling; his art 
more, at this time, of promise than achievement; who 
had wooed the muse melodiously in three or four of the 
sweetest volumes of Persian yap imaginable dainty 
enough to reach the remotest feminine affection and 
penned some more than creditable prose in the domain 
of Belles Lettres; and was blessed with a countenance 
as sweet as one of his own sonnets; and an inheritance 


of riches; and a discriminating taste in apparel. He 
wore this morning, for instance, a suit of almost snowy 
flannel, with a double-breasted coat, as faultlessly cut 
as the tailor's art and the most explicit directions and 
three tryings-on could make it; and a soft silk collar 
all these, remember, at a day far in advance of the 
odious popularity that subsequently killed them, and 
made your artist-nature turn with tears to starched 
linen and hard collars and stiff cuffs for his refuge of 
distinction from the vulgus profanum and a rose Du 
Barry zephyr shirt, against which a soft gray tie of 
woven silk lay to advantage, and displayed most deli- 
cately a single pearl. His socks, too, were of silk of 
the same shade as the tie, and his brogued shoes were 
masculine enough to counteract any accusation of effem- 
inacy, without being too heavy to blunt the propor- 
tions of a small foot. Their wearer was, in sooth, 
something of an exquisite, but an exquisite of the best 
type, who seeks to express himself as well in clothes as 
in his speech, and does not employ raiment like the 
vulgarly ambitious merely to adorn and make con- 
spicuous his person. For the Poet had the gift of wear- 
ing fine things easily, and after all, that eternal quality 
of youth which transforms and transfigures even its 
own follies, condoned the dandy in him, for nothing he 
wore was more precious than the tawny freshness of 
his skin, nor the pearl more decorative than one of his 
own teeth when his speech or smile unlocked them. 
Without being actually tall, his slenderness lent the boy 
height, and there was the spare look of the athlete 
about his limbs as though they entertained no useless 
flesh but were thorough working-members of a dis- 
ciplined and active body, capable of effort and not 
frightened of fatigue. The hand that had written 
" Mnemosyne's Daughters " and " A Sheaf of Sonnets " 


and the Poet's own name Rupert Evelyn Brandor in 
no end of scented albums, was a manly brown, of a sort 
to grip a club or yield a racket. The girl's gray eyes 
followed it observantly to the Poet's watch-pocket, 
where the sunburned forefinger wrapped itself about his 
chain and drew forth the gold chronometer that had 
ticked, twenty odd years before, against his father's 
ample bosom. 

" Half past eleven," the Poet told the girl, " all but 
two minutes." 

And the girl said : " O my ! Half past eleven, all but 
two minutes," in the voice of a certain resignation (or 
so he thought) as though Time's tardy processes af- 
forded her no great joy. And then, more fervently: 
"Thank you very much." And with a complimentary 
dilation of eye as the Poet returned the chronometer 
to his pocket : " Excuse me ... but what a lovely 
watch." He smiled, and held it out once more for the 
girl's appreciation. " Do you like it ? " 

She said : " O my ! I like it ever so much. I think 
it's a beautiful watch. It's solid gold, isn't it? Yes, 
I thought so. May I ..." and dropping suddenly on 
her knees beside him she caressed with her soft fingers 
what her eyes and voice had already so much admired; 
stroking the case as if the precious metal were flesh and 
blood, and passing a reverent forefinger over the dial, 
while the Poet took the opportunity to study the wor- 
shipful gray eyes beneath the lowered lids, the small 
underlip indented with the small teeth to a sort of grave 
wonder and cautionary discipline, and the delicate soft- 
ness of the girl's features. 

She asked him: "Does it chime the hours? No? 
Do you wish it did? Perhaps you like it better without. 
I think I do, too. Mamma has some lovely watches," she 
confided, when the gold lid had winked like a great eye 


under the pressure of her thumb nail and been softly 
folded down to slumber between the fingers of both her 
hands. " Not half so big as this, of course," she made 
haste to add, out of consideration for the Poet's feel- 
ings. " This is ever such a beauty. But she has one 
Uncle Dody gave it her all gold and enamel. The fig- 
ures are teeny diamonds, and it strikes the hours in the 
sweetest teeniest chime you ever heard. O my! I love 
it. It is a darling. She let me sleep with it under my 
pillow once." 

Her eyes, brightened momentarily to panegyric and 
the friendliness of imparted glories, sobered of a sud- 
den, and her lips paused irresolutely on the threshold 
of further confidence, substituting with a wonderful 
politeness that added a new lease of interest to the 
Poet's smile : " But I must not detain you," and assum- 
ing the grave and formal shape for taking leave; albeit 
she did not immediately rise from her knees. 

"Why not?" the Poet asked her. 

" Because " The unexpected query plainly discon- 
certed her. For a while her eyes searched his very sol- 
emnly, as if suspecting some ambush in the friendliness 
of their laughter. " Perhaps you don't wish to be dis- 
turbed with company," she suggested after a moment. 

" On the contrary," he answered, " I should love it." 

"Should you? Are you sure?" 

" Absolutely." 

"But perhaps you are expecting somebody?" 

" Not a soul. I am quite disengaged. Do sit down." 

"May I?" 

"I wish you would." 

" I'd love to." 

Her countenance during the brief dialogue had ani- 
mated once more to friendship; the gray eyes were full 
of it. She folded her legs beneath the blue serge frock 


and subsided into a sitting posture at a respectful but 
amicable distance from the Poet. 

I'm all by myself," she said by way of apology and 
explanation, and bit her underlip as if to indicate 
heavy state of solitude. 

"I'm all by myself, too," the Poet told her com- 
fortingly, and the girl breathed a wondering and 
miserative "Omy!" 

" You may sit a little closer if you like. 
"May I?" she asked, with a voice eager for ac- 
ceptance, and drew herself nearer to his extended 
length, whereat the Poet's smile converged to a star- 
point of mirth, twinkling benignantly upon the girl's 
eyes, that dilated to a certain solemn wonder in return 
as though his amusement were costing her some trouble 
to comprehend, like a new long word. The gray of 
these eyes was very deep and absorbent, and their gaze, 
once leveled, seemed to grow and mold itself about the 
object looked at with a soft visual insistence, as if sight, 
with her, were plastic and must be refashioned to fit the 
shape of each fresh thing seen. 

"Well, then," the Poet said, "it seems that you 
and I are both shipmates wrecked on the Lonely Islands 
this morning. So we shall have to be very kind to each 
other and try to forget all our misfortunes. What do 
you say ? " 

The girl said: "O my!" that soft watchword of 
her nature, that she seemed to breathe for all the varied 
purposes of emotion, making it by turns express sur- 
prise or sorrow, or sadness or commiseration or keen 
delight. " I say, too," she asserted loyally, and added 
in a luminous effusion of candor : " It's a good thing I 
spoke to you, isn't it? And I nearly didn't. I might 
have spoken to the other " here her lips wrestled for a 
suitable designation "the other gentleman, if he hadn't 


turned round and wanted to know what I was staring 
at: And I wasn't staring. I was only wondering. I 
was frightened you'd turn round, too, before I'd made 
up my mind whether to ask you or not. 

" I don't know what made me speak to you a bit," 
she continued, pursuing the psychology of her conduct 
with solemn perseverance. " I didn't speak to anybody 
yesterday, and I didn't the day before that. Oh, yes, 
I beg your pardon," she corrected conscientiously, " I 
did that day, but it was only because she dropped her 
glove. And I don't think she was very pleased either 
when I gave it her, because it was all in holes. Such 
big ones. But the day before that I didn't. I just 
walked about and looked at people. But it was no 
good. Everybody was happy enough without me, and 
wouldn't look at me, or looked too hard. 

" It must be awfully difficult to beg, mustn't it? 
Beg for money, I mean. Awfully. When people don't 
want to see you, and don't want to listen to you, and 
don't want to give you anything. Once I stood and 
watched some boys and girls playing ball. I liked that ; 
it was lovely. I stood quite close, and laughed when 
they laughed, and got to know their names, and picked 
up the ball once when they missed it, but they only said : 
' Thank you,' and never asked me to play too. I would, 
if they'd asked me. And this morning, when I saw 
you lying here alone I thought somehow perhaps 
O my, I don't know. I saw you ever such a long way 
off at first right over there " she indicated with the 
hand that held the leather and sawdust ball " where 
the man is cutting the insides out of the prickly fish 
that smell so dreadful. Doesn't it seem cruel. And I 
came nearer and looked at you, and wondered whether 
. r . I made up my mind to speak to you just as soon 
as ever I'd counted ten. But I changed to twenty. I 


couldn't see a bit what you were like from the back, 
yet somehow isn't it funny? as soon as ever you 
looked round I felt you were just what I'd expected 
you to be." 

"But tell me," said the Poet, readjusting himself 
on elbow. "You are not all alone, surely? You have 
some friends here." 

"Of course, there's mamma," the girl made haste 
to assure him. Her eyes grew at the mention very large 
and mournful, resting awhile on the Poet's face with 
a look of trouble. " But mamma's ill. She hasn't been 
out for a whole week. And Leonie must stay with 
mamma that's why I'm all by myself. I wanted to 
stay with mamma, too, but mamma wouldn't let me. 
She said she would get well ever so much quicker if 
I went out onto the sands and lent her my eyes, and 
told her all there was to see. I begged ever so hard, 
but she said No, no; sick rooms were no places for 
growing girls. They were for old women. But 
mamma's not an old woman. 

"The Doctor comes to see her every day. Such a 
funny man he is, with ever such a shiny hat, and a 
wooden trumpet inside it. That's to listen to people's 
insides. He says everybody has a different tune. I 
asked him what my tune was, and he listened and said : 
'Girls and boys come out to play/ Do you believe 
it? He always says 'we' when he means mamma. 
Like this: ' How do we feel this morning? ' ' Have we 
been taking proper care of ourselves?' 'Oh, we are 
picking up nicely 'that was this morning. It's some- 
thing the matter with her heart," she explained, and 
stopped at that, her eyes fixed on the Poet in a large 
gaze of scrutiny, as though to glean from his recep- 
tion of the malady some gauge of its degree. 


" Is it very, very dangerous ? " she asked, when the 
Poet had expressed regret. 

" One has to take a little care." 

"One must not walk too fast?" 

" No." 

" Or run upstairs or laugh too much or get ex- 

" No." 

" That's what the Doctor says. When I heard them 
talking about mamma's heart in such dreadful voices I 
thought she was going to die, and Leonie thought the 
same, and I went upstairs and cried. O my! I cried 
awfully, till I couldn't see the pattern on the wall-paper. 
I wanted to die, too, and I thought perhaps I could 
if I cried long enough. But after a time I couldn't cry 
any longer, and Leonie came up and caught me and 
told mamma though she promised she wouldn't. And 
mamma said I was a silly girl to waste a whole after- 
noon in crying just because she happened to have a 
heart that went a little too fast and a little too slow 
at times, like a clock that wants cleaning. She said lots 
of people have hearts like that and never know any- 
thing about it. I think mine's like 'that, too. I was 
listening to it the other night in bed, and once it stopped 
for a whole minute. That frightened me. Leonie says 
I made it up, and I'm too young to know anything 
about hearts. Mamma laughed when I told her and 
said fiddle-de-dee. She says it isn't half so bad to 
have a heart as bow-legs or a squint, for it doesn't 
need a wooden trumpet to find out those." 

The Poet said : " I agree with mamma." 

" And so do I," the girl concurred. " Mamma says 
she envies me my frocks, and it's a shame for them ever 
to be any longer. My next is to come down to here. 


She says half the misery in the world is made by clothes, 
and I think it must be." 

She gabbled on with refreshing volubility ; her voice, 
as cool as water, rose and fell with the artless cadence 
of a fountain. There was not the slightest sense of 
seeking effect either in word or action; none of the 
palpable precocity with which spoiled childhood asserts 
itself, and transgresses the bounds of privilege in con- 
versation. Had he detected the slightest hint of this 
and behind his smile the Poet kept keen vigil his in- 
terest would have flagged at once, for he hated spoiled 
childhood as he did a false quantity. But with this 
gray-eyed girl it all seemed so easy and so effortless. 
The words looked to lie so near her lips that he felt 
rather they had never come from the depths of her 
understanding, but from its surface, where they dropped 
lightly in the first instance; falling from her cleanly 
now, without any added coloring of personal intention. 
She showed her mother's sayings, indeed, like beads; 
treasured for themselves, and because of the giver, that 
she displayed freely, not with the desire to deck herself, 
but out of a spirit of grateful loyalty and loving pride. 

"And mamma says " the girl went on, then broke 
off suddenly with her lips half framed, and her eyes 
stock-still in a gaze of scrutiny. " What sort of hair do 
you like best ? " she asked after a moment. 

" Jugged hare," said the Poet. 

" Jugged hare ? O my ! I didn't mean that. I mean 
the other sort of hair h-a " She fixed the Poet with 
a spasmodic gaze. " I can't spell a bit," she confessed 
blandly. " But I think it's i, isn't it? This sort of hair," 
she explained, and pulled a handful over her shoulder. 

" That sort of hair? Oh, yes, it's i." 

"What sort of hair do you like best, then?" the 


girl demanded, restating her question on the basis of 
solid understanding. 

"That sort," said the Poet. 

" This sort ? " asked the girl, tugging it demonstra- 
tively. "Like I've got?" 

" Like you've got," answered the Poet, following her 
loyally beyond the trespass boards of grammar. 

The girl took up her old words once more. " Mam- 
ma says," she resumed, "that I've got beautiful hair, 
too. I ought to be proud of that. No, not proud; 
glad. Leonie says the color is sure to go darker. She 
says hers was ever so much goldener than mine when 
she was my age, and much longer, and thicker, and 
more admired. She wore it in two plaits as thick as 
my wrist, and they hung right down her back, tied with 
large bows of blue ribbon, and people used to take 
hold of them in the street and say : ' O my ! What 
pretty hair, and whose little girl are you ? ' You like 
the color, don't you?" she asked the Poet. "And so 
fine. Almost like silk. See you may take hold of it 
if you like," she said, and stooping slightly forward, 
tendered a golden strang to the Poet on her open palm. 
" Some day," she went on mournfully, " all that has to 
be done up on my head. Mamma says it is a shame. 
Of course, that won't be yet a bit. Not for one two 
three " She stopped at the third finger to ask the 
Poet a riddle. " How old do you think I am ? " 

He guessed " Fifteen," not for a moment that he 
thought it. The answer gratified her, as he knew it 

She thanked him with a delighted " O my ! " and 
bade him guess again. 

" Fourteen." 

" Guess again." 


"Thirteen. But no. That's impossible." 

She interposed the assurance of a nodding head. 

"Yes. That's it. You've guessed at last." 

She shot a- little preluding glance at the Poet's face; 
a shy look of calculation with figures in it that made 
him inwardly luminous with laughter. 

" I suppose you're older," she hazarded softly, after 
a moment. 

"Older every day." 

" But older than that, I mean. Older than me." 

"Older than you? Oh, yes." 

She nodded. "I thought so. A lot older, aren't 

"I'm afraid a lot older." 

"Four years older, perhaps," she pursued, in her 
voice of cool dispassion; and then, as the Poet's in- 
ward laughter rose up and flooded the eyes she had 
been probing so closely : " I don't want to know how 
old you are," she added, with chastened apology. " Not 
a bit, if you don't care to tell me. Only I couldn't help 
wondering. I've told you how old I am, haven't I? 
But, of course, that doesn't make any difference." She 
stopped, discerning the indulgent quality of the Poet's 
laughter. "You're going to tell me," she cried with 
a voice of jubilation. " I know you are." 

"Oh." The Poet dwelt awhile with his laughter 
before replying. Never had he met a girl like this. 
"Twenty-two," he told her. "There. It makes me 
frightfully sad. Now you know the canker at the core." 

"Twenty-two." She tested his age for a moment 
with her teeth upon her lip. 

"It's frightfully old, isn't it?" the Poet asked her. 
"Think of carrying twenty-two years about with you 
on a hot day ! " 

"It's more than I thought," the girl admitted. 


" How much is thirteen from twenty-two. Seven, isn't 
it? No, eight; no, nine! Nine years older than me. 
Mamma says the older you grow the less you seem to 
have lived. I'm to understand that when I grow up. 
And she says a man lives as long as his money, and 
a woman as long as her looks. That seems funny, too, 
doesn't it?" 


THE sun above their heads burned steadfast, sus- 
pended like a brazier from the blue stillness of 
the sky, making distant bricks and mortar tremble in- 
substantially, and drawing spirals of hot air from the 
shimmering salt- wet sands until the whole beautiful 
bay seemed but the reflection of itself seen in blown 
water. Odors, in the burning immobile air, were woven 
as into tapestry; weedy iodine; wafts of tobacco; the 
brine of evaporating sea- water; the saline freshness of 
herrings; collodion, aromatic and not ungrateful, from 
the little wooden dark-room on wheels, like a peram- 
bulator in petticoats, pertaining to the adjacent pho- 
tographer. Not a cloud subdued the blue intensity of 
sky or broke the indigo sea-line. The tepid waves were 
but magnified ripples, that slid to shore and fretted 
their thin murmurous way through the marginal sea- 
wrack and the faint tide-line of fine coal, and countless 
bare legs. Life, animate and eager, everywhere re- 
sponded to the stimulus of sunlight and blue sky. Rain- 
bow colors dissolved kaleidoscopically over the beach; 
here a sudden sky-rocket flight of children discharged 
to the water's edge, streaming cries and laughter, and 
bursting into spray and sea-foam; there some solitary 
note of color struck vividly afar; the gay awning of 
an ice-cream van or the red fez of the pseudo-Turkish 
nougat vendor, hawking his succulent sweetmeat on the 
familiar tray slung from his neck, to the accompani- 
ment of his melancholy plain-song, and the antiphonic 



jingle of an apronful of coppers stirred by hand, or 
'shaken against his thighs in walking. 

" Nougat ! Nougat ! How you like all f raish all 
sweet von penny ! Nougat ! " 

Mammoth bathing vans, each one branded with the 
pill-maker's name, moved hugely in and out of the 
ocean; cumbrous, prehistoric monsters, under doom of 
extinction, basking in the sunshine by herds on the 
shore, or drowsing patiently up to their midway, hippo- 
potamus-wise in the water. And all about these, and to 
either side beyond, boys bare-legged to the hips, busy 
with destructive spades, and vociferous with projects 
for reservoirs and harbors; and frantic timorous girls, 
tucked up into a profusion of petticoats, shrieking their 
gladness in three inches of water; and dancing rings 
of sea-maidens in mob caps and spacious bathing gowns, 
bobbing at the end of ropes, or floundering like stranded 
flat-fish, or fleeing shoreward from imaginary waves; 
and ancient and inscrutable sunburned bathing-women, 
like draped mahogany bedposts, on hire to dip protest- 
ing youth, while solicitous parentage stood dry-shod on 
the shore to conduct the ritual of immersion by signs 
of walking-stick or parasol. And out beyond these, 
the strong swimmers flashing their white arms against 
the azure background of sea, and the bathing boat lazily 
a-rocking on its inverted image, and the gray stone piers 
of the harbor purified in the incandescent sunlight to 
blinding alabaster clasped about a bosomful of ships, 
and reverberating with dim oceanic noises; clank of 
chain, and clash of scupper, and rattle of derrick, and 
thrum of engine, and hiss of steam, and clangorous 
ring of bells from the fish pontoon, where rows of 
scaly, flabby fish await a buyer; and high above the 
bleached and buzzing harbor, the scarred white castle, 
embedded boldly in the blue sky; blind-eyed and dis- 


figured, but smiling in the sun like a serene immortal 
whom all the futile furies of mankind cannot kill. . . . 
in a word, Spathorpe. 

And what a word ! Spathorpe at the height of her 
glory, on a golden forenoon in July ! Not the dowager 
Spathorpe of more modern days commanding and in- 
comparable though she be that grows in girth and 
spreading amplitude of skirt, embroidered with public 
gardens and stiffened with sea-walls and cement; but 
that shimmering, younger, lovelier Spathorpe, dear to 
all of us that knew her then; before municipalities tinc- 
tured the complexion of their boroughs, and fought 
fiercely for supremacy on advertisement hoardings; 
when Spathorpe had her appointed season, and kept 
her stately court among the watering-places of the 
world, like the queen she is, and was frequented by 
rank and fashion, and her houses sheltered great names, 
and great manners were practised in her public places. 

Spathorpe, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen Q my! even 
twenty years ago. 


THEY sat not far from the green wet rocks of the 
Children's Corner, where kirtled childhood multi- 
plied sand pies and castles, and betoweled nursemaids 
read fiction in the shade, and negro minstrels pitched 
their midday circle, and children's services were wont 
to be held by the pious precursors of the Pierrots. Be- 
hind their backs the inclined tram glided steeply up 
and down the cliff, and the buildings of the Parade 
scintillated in the sunshine, its parapet and terraces 
tropical with parasols. Mingled with the syncopated 
cough of the engine that puffed thin wisps of steam 
through the tiled roof of the tramway station, they 
heard, as they talked, the frothy music of Herr Toots's 
band that sparkled merrily every now and then and 
caused the girl to check her speech with an appreciative 
" O my ! Listen. Isn't that pretty ! I love music 
don't you?" 

Her name, the Poet learned, was Bella Dysart. This 
she volunteered herself, although some while he had 
been wondering, and when the information was im- 
parted, looked at him keenly as children do after be- 
stowing a gift, to learn what value the recipient puts 
upon it. 

" Is it a funny name ? " she asked. 

"A very pretty name, I think," the Poet answered. 

" I think so, too," the girl admitted, fortified with 
his assurance, " although at times I wish it were a little 
longer. Mamma has two names Isabel and Veronica. 
How do you like those ? " 



The Poet told her: "Excellently." 
"So do I. Better than mine?" 
"Once," she went on, after he had appeased her 
doubt, " when I was thanking mamma for having called 
e such a pretty name, I asked her why she had not 
en me two, like her, and she told me : One's quite 
plenty for a little girl/ ' But how when I'm grown 
up?' I asked, and she said: 'Ah! never grow up, 
Bella That's just the mistake your mother made. 
"Mamma is beautiful," she informed the 
" Ever so much more beautiful than me. I'm not beau- 
tiful. At least, not very. Leonie says I shan't last. 

Mrs. Herring " 

"Mrs. who?" 

" Mrs. Herring." She offered him the name again 
and waited a moment for his opinion. " It's a funnier 
name than mine, isn't it?" she said. 

The Poet laughed. "Who is Mrs. Herring?" 
"Where we live. At least, not exactly where we 
live, but just round the corner. At least, not just round 
the corner, but the corner house." 
"And where do you live?" 

She turned, resting herself on her left hand, and 
with the right sought to establish locality. " Up there." 
Her pointing hand rose exploringly over the tiers of 
deep green trees that shade the terraces of the Parade, 
to where the crescent of painted houses on the Esplanade 
gleams white, like Spathorpe's brow. Then of a sud- 
den she burst into radiance as her groping finger suc- 
ceeded in its quest. 

"There. Now I see it. Look! Can't you make 
it out? See follow my finger. That's the Sceptre 
Hotel over there, isn't it? Of course, it is. Very well! 
Now look slowly along this way past where the landau 
is standing. Do you see all those white houses with 


green shutters and balconies? Those are towels hang- 
ing out of the top windows. And then do you see a 
large house all built of stone? You do? That's Mrs. 
Herring's. And if you go up that street you come to 
a square. Cromwell Lodge is on your left, just as you 
go into it." 

"And you live there?" 

" Yes. We came a fortnight ago. Mamma has 
taken the house furnished. Isn't that lovely ! " She 
gabbled on for awhile about the house, enumerating 
its rooms upon her fingers. " Dining-room, drawing- 
room, breakfast-room, billiard-room. At least, there 
isn't a billiard table; but there are big green leather 
seats all round, with such beautiful springs. You can 
play ride-a-cock-horse on them when it rains. Of 
course, we haven't all the rooms. Two of them are 
locked. I wonder what's inside. Mamma calls them 
the Bluebeard rooms. There's nothing to see when you 
look through the keyhole except some furniture and a 
lot of books and things wrapped up in dust-sheets. Oh, 
and I forgot. Mamma has a lovely boudoir upstairs 
next to her bedroom. Well, it was a bedroom really, 
only mamma said it would be beautiful as a boudoir 
with pink paper. Do you like pink? So do I I love 
it. Mrs. Herring says that once upon a time ever such 
a gentleman and lady took the house for the whole sea- 
son, and went away without paying a penny. Wasn't 
that dreadful? Mrs. Herring says she never liked the 
looks of them from the first. And when the gentle- 
man came back not the gentleman that went away 
with the lady, but the gentleman belonging to the house 
he found they had taken ever such a lot of valuable 
things away with them, packed up in some of his own 
portmanteaux out of the box-room such a lovely box- 
room. Why, you may say it's a bedroom really with 


a teeny darling of a fireplace, but it's frightfully close 
now, because, of course, the window is never opened, 
and it smells of old leather. Mrs. Herring says you've 
got to be awfully sharp in Spathorpe during the season. 
All kinds of queer people come. She says if you're 
not careful they give you a sovereign, and then when 
you want to buy something with it they snap it on 
the counter, or break it in two and tell you it's bad. 
She had two sixpences like that last year." 

The quaint recurrence of the name of Herring 
caused an almost imperceptible flicker in the Poet's 

" You mentioned Mrs. Herring before," he reminded 
the girl. " I think you were going to tell me something 
about her." 

" O yes." She nodded her head over a repetition 
of the name. " Do you know how we came to be 
friends? Of course, you don't. I ought to have told 
you that first. It happened this way. I'd looked down 
and seen Mrs. Herring through the basement window 
lots of times. And one morning I think it was the 
third day after we came I was walking by when I saw 
a poor black cat all hunched up on the steps, and a dog 
standing over it. The cat kept mewing in a dreadful 
voice, and every now and then it shut its eyes as though 
it couldn't bear to look any longer ; and the dog plopped 
with its front paws and barked. And there was a 
horrid boy close by, wearing an apron, with a basket 
over his head and the handle in his mouth, who said: 
' Sssss ! ' O my ! That made me ever so angry. I 
called him a coward and said : ' How would you like 
somebody to say " Ssss " at you ? ' and he put his tongue 
out. Then I picked up the cat and stroked it and went 
down the area steps and knocked at Mrs. Herring's 
door. Mrs. Herring came herself, and I said: 'Oh, 


please. I've brought your cat. A horrid dog was try- 
ing to bite it.' And she held out her arms and I put the 
cat in, and she said : ' It isn't my cat. It belongs next 
door.' And just then the dog came down the steps 
and I stamped my foot at him and clapped my hands 
to send him away, but Mrs. Herring said : ' Why, it's 
Bendigo. He's my dog,' and told me they were the 
best of friends. And would you believe it, the cat 
began to rub her back under Bendigo's nose, and Mrs. 
Herring said : * They're waiting for the fish man. That's 
who they're waiting for ' the man that cries : * Fee- 
raish feesh/ every morning, and makes a song of ' New 
Boy Lobster ' and ' Macker Eel.' Haven't you heard 
him? O my! He's funny. I love him." 

And then, it would seem, the girl had told Mrs. 
Herring : " Excuse me, but what a lovely big house 
you've got. I hope it isn't a rude question, but is that 
the kitchen where I saw your head through the window 
this morning? It must be a beautiful kitchen." To 
which Mrs. Herring retorted: "You wouldn't say so if 
you had to cook in it these hot days ! " And then, some- 
how or other, the golden hair appeared to be established 
inside, and its proprietress saw Mr. Herring at work 
upon the knives in the scullery with his coat off, blow- 
ing out his lips and saying : " Bsss ! Bsss ! " ; and made 
acquaintance with some domestic young ladies named 
Louisa and Helen respectively; and witnessed the prep- 
aration of his mid-morning's broth for Sir Henry Phil- 
limore, who permanently occupied Mrs. Herring's left- 
hand sitting-room with the bedroom and dressing-room 
above. She appeared even to have been permitted to 
take awed stock of the illustrious knight through the 
crack in the sitting-room door, what time it remained 
open between Louisa's entrance and retirement, and 
confided to the Poet the picture of a very aged and 


venerable gentleman with the whitest of long white hair, 
who even on that hot morning had a plaid fringed shawl 
at hand over the arm of his chair in case he might 
need to pass from his sitting-room to the room above, 
or take a turn as far as the sea-front. For it appeared 
Sir Henry had exchanged the functions of his liver 
for a pension (and subsequent knighthood) derived 
from the Imperial Pools and Reservoir Service in India, 
and for him the hottest of air in motion constituted a 
draught. His face was crinkled (the girl imparted) 
just like a walnut; and his moustache and the little im- 
perial beneath the lower lip were snowy white and 
looked not to belong to him. He did not lift his face 
from the perusal of his paper when Louisa entered with 
the cup of smoking bouillon, and his lips shaped no 
words of thanks, nor had he shifted his position in the 
slightest when the door-crack trapped him from view. 
This vision of aged impassivity manifestly awed the 
girl, even in remembrance. She wondered what his 
voice must sound like. 

So that was the beginning, she explained, of her 
friendship with Mrs. Herring. The horrid dog became 
a darling, and the cat a dear. And thereafter it seemed 
she always waved to Mrs. Herring when she passed the 
railings, and called to inquire after Bendigo's health 
which appeared to be of the best. 

"Mrs. Herring's ever so nice. She lets me make 
toast on the gas oven. It's a beautiful oven, with I 
don't know how many taps I think fifty. You pull 
a handle out at the side and all the burners go upside 
down. You have to be awfully careful, of course, be- 
cause it might blow up and kill you if you turn on the 
wrong taps. Mrs. Herring says so. I'd love to let 
rooms like Mrs. Herring when I'm grown up. Some day 


she's going to let me make toast for the other gentle- 
man and put the pieces in the rack myself." 

" The other gentleman ? " 

" Yes. The gentleman in the big room upstairs. Of 
course I haven't told you about him, have I? He only 
came to Mrs. Herring's this morning. At least, he 
hasn't come at all yet; he doesn't come till lunch, but I 
saw his luggage in the hall. O my! Such a lot of 
luggage for only one almost as much as mamma's. 
Mrs. Herring said : ' Good gracious ! It might be a 
family ! ' Great leather trunks as big as bathing vans 
almost, covered with foreign labels Paris, and Vienna 
and Dresden I read them myself and I know those, 
because mamma's been there. It took Mr. Herring and 
another man poor man, his trousers were torn; you 
could see his bare leg through ; I don't think he had any 
stockings, and Mrs. Herring doesn't think he had 
either it took them ever so long to get the trunks up- 
stairs. They had two towels through the handles and 
struggled up step by step. Each time they lifted their 
faces went red, and they made such dreadful noises 
when they put the trunks down. The man in front 
walked backward and kept calling all the time : ' Stop a 
bit. Where are my legs now ? ' And Mr. Herring 
said : ' Why didn't you bring an extra pair of arms for 
this job? Legs are only in the way.' Mr. Herring's so 
funny. I love him. And Mrs. Herring kept saying: 
' Whatever you do, mind the paint," but I'm sure they 
couldn't help that teeny bit by the landing." 

This other gentleman, she told the Poet, had never 
meant to stay with Mrs. Herring at all. The rooms 
were really taken by some friends of his a Mr. Pend- 
lip (that was a funny name, too, wasn't it!) and Mrs. 
Pendlip, and their daughter, and a maid. And the 


other gentleman was to stay at the Sceptre for a short 
time. But when he arrived yesterday didn't it seem 
sa d! there was a letter waiting for him at the hotel 
to say that Miss Pendlip had caught something (she 
forgot what it was, but it was very funny, and began 
with a p) and they couldn't come to Spathorpe for a 
week or more. And so the gentleman was taking their 
rooms. Whatever was his name? She had been say- 
ing it to herself on the sands this morning. 

" Mrs. Herring says he's ever so nice and quite 
young. I'm to have a peep at him as soon as he's 
settled. That's a promise. He has dark brown eyes. 
Do you like brown eyes? I think they're lovely. I 
wish mine were brown. Mrs. Herring says he is the 
handsomest gentleman she ever saw." She paused at 
that, and her gaze rested on the Poet as if suddenly 
shocked with itself. " But perhaps he's not, after all," 
she added hurriedly. " That's only what Mrs. Herring 
says. I might not care for him a bit/' A moment later 
her lips pounced hawk-like on the fugitive name. "I've 
remembered! It's Brandor," she cried, "and his first 
name's Rupert. It's just come back to me." 

The Poet heard his own name with the polite grav- 
ity for that of a stranger although it gratified him not 
a little to mark the exultation with which these un- 
familiar lips smacked upon it, as if it were some de- 
lectable sweetmeat. 

" And do you know what he is ! " the girl went on, 
her enthusiasm kindling again. " He is a Poet. Mamma 
knew his name at once. As soon as ever I told her she 
said: 'Why, that's the Poet, Bella.' Mamma has read 
some of his poetry. One was in such lovely heliotrope, 
with a teeny bookmark. I'd love to see a real Poet. 
Wouldn't you?" 

The Poet smiled. His young pride was pleasantly 


titillated. He said to himself: "After all! Here is 
Fame. She may be small and fickle as folk report her, 
but the dame is pleasant featured." And his interest 
in the golden-haired girl and her mother deepened. But 
his ensuing smile had no trace of a vanity flattered. 

"Are poets so different from other people?" 

" Poets ? " echoed the girl, in an almost shocked 
intensity of surprise, as if his question had assailed 
the very foundations of human faith. "O my! Yes. 
How could they write poetry if they weren't ? " And 
then she looked at him as if her gaze were embarking 
upon a new survey of his qualities. " Do you know 
when I first saw you this morning of course, it was 
silly I wondered, just for awhile, if you were Mr. 
Brandor. I hoped you would be. But I don't mind 
a bit now." 

He cried : " Good gracious ! Is there much of the 
Poet about me ? Don't say that ! " 

Her eyes tested his features again, probing them 
quietly for the qualities that had raised the supposition. 
Then she shook her head though not emphatically, 
but with a dubious surrender that bows to overwhelm- 
ing reason. " I thought " she hazarded. " Your hair 
it's rather wavy, isn't it? Mrs. Herring said it was. 
And you have brown eyes, too, haven't you? I noticed 
those at once." Other confidences were plainly in sight 
to succeed, but all at once they were both conscious 
of a radical disturbance in the elements of life around 
them. Streams of color were being drained from the 
sands in all directions, like dyes running in the wash. 
The steadfast intentness of life that had marked the 
embrasured line of the Parade wall was broken. A tide 
of parasols suffused the terraces and crept in ascend- 
ing color up the precipitous zigzag pathways to the 
Esplanade, now subdued to extinction beneath the shel- 


tering leafage of the overhanging trees, now blazing 
out in swift transition where they crossed open tracts 
of sunlight. Nursemaids rose hurriedly to their feet, 
closing books and twisting novelettes, and straightening 
creased skirts, and calling imperatively to distant 
charges. Everywhere limbs were being hurriedly sub- 
mitted to the towel; buckets clanked and spades trailed 
cliffward. The trams passed and repassed in an accel- 
erated service, each ascending car crowded with color. 
An iridescent pool of humanity thickened about the 
beach terminus, whose turnstiles clicked in the busy 

The Poet said : " Hello ! " and drew forth afresh the 
watch whose dial had excited the girl's admiration. 
" One o'clock ! Who would have thought it ! " 

The girl repeated : " One o'clock," and said as he 
expected her to say " O my ! You'll have to excuse 
me, please. Leonie will be waiting dinner." 

He handed over to her the shoes and stockings com- 
mitted to his care, with a penitent laugh. 

" And you've never paddled at all. That's my fault. 
Do forgive me." 

She said: "O my! It has been lovely. Ever so 
much better than paddling. Thank you such a lot. I 
won't put the stockings on; I'll just slip into the shoes, 
Well, then. . . . I've got to go up there. By the tram. 
Wherever's my penny! Oh, here it is." 

The Poet wished her a pleasant journey. 

"Which way are you going?" the girl inquired. 

The Poet answered: "Just along the sands." 

" Have you very far to go ? " 

" Not so very far." 

"Further than me?" 

"Perhaps a little further than you." 

" I shall see you again, shan't I ? " 


"I hope so." 

" I hope so, too. Lots of times. Thank you ever 
so much." 

She tendered him, after a moment's hesitation, her 
soft right hand with the ball depending from it, and 
took reluctant leave, saying innumerable good-byes, and 
going backward with occasional prudent peeps over her 
shoulder for what lay beyond. When she had out- 
stepped the radius of speech she prolonged departure 
with wavings of the hand, that increased in friendship 
what they lost in proximity. It was characteristic of 
the girl that, close by the foot of the tramway station, 
he perceived her in amicable discourse with some 
ragged but radiantly independent children, cumbered 
with a very big and crazy perambulator, which they 
appeared to be pushing indiscriminately in all directions, 
to the imminent peril of its occupant. Even here she 
did not lose sight of him, but turned around regularly 
to maintain the attenuated threads of their acquaint- 
ance. He watched the tram that took her; saw it 
diminish fleetly up the cliff-side and shrink to a stand- 
still at the summit, and the descending tram augment 
to the point where both were coequal, and loom out 
large, as if they had exchanged proportions in passing, 
drawing an elongated cable behind it. At first he could 
not distinguish the girl in the tiny crowd of reduced 
mortals emerging from the ascended car, but his sec- 
ond glance showed him a solitary pigmy figure elevated 
on the third bar of the railings bordering the Esplanade, 
that waved frantically when he turned his head. 


THAT was the beginning of their friendship. It 
was renewed on the morrow by the Poet's trap- 
ping her by accident outside his door, where she had tip- 
toed in the wake of Louisa for a surreptitious peep at 
him. He had just completed his toilet after an early 
morning's bathe, and came upon her so noiselessly and 
unexpected that he was able to slip both hands over 
her eyes from behind, and ask her to declare, out of 
the resultant darkness, who it was. 

Her delighted "O my!" full of radiant recogni- 
tion, left no doubt as to her knowledge of his identity. 
" It's you ! How you did frighten me ! I was peeping 
through the door. I thought at first it must be Him! 
Whatever should I have done if it had been ? " 

With that she accompanied him into the room, ask- 
ing : " May I ? " as she did so, and explaining to a 
flushed and somewhat guilty- faced Louisa : " Isn't it 
lovely, Louisa! This is the very gentleman I was talk- 
ing about downstairs. The very one. He caught me 
peeping through the door just now. You heard him, 
didn't you? O my! He put both his hands over my 
eyes. It's splendid ! " 

Seen at close quarters and by comparison with the 
familiar objects of a room the girl looked bigger than 
the Poet's recollection had retained of her from yester- 
day. His ultimate picture of her had been that of a 
mere child, whose golden head at a guess might have 
passed easily beneath his outstretched arm ; memory hav- 



ing been tricked into minimizing the girl's dimensions 
By the standard of her childish prattle. But truth was 
she stood within a head of him. Her limbs had the 
promise of length, not far off fulfillment; her body 
moved already with that just perceptible slender bal- 
ance preconscious of height. Her face was less rotund 
than he had figured; the cheeks sleek and flat instead 
of salient, as though indicative of a lengthening change 
to come. But the eyebrows were not less level than 
he had noted them, and the deep gray eyes beneath 
were suffused with an extraordinary childish softness. 
The whole face radiated the candor of youth; its ex- 
pression as open and unchary as the speech that passed 
her lips. Her gaze had the disconcerting power of 
scrutiny that is youth's unmistakable emblem. The 
adolescent teens show, for the most part, shy and shift- 
ing eyes, ready to let fall their look at the first chal- 
lenge eyes that take their observations promiscuously 
and by stealth, as though conscious that knowledge is 
forbidden fruit, to be picked unseen. But Bella's eyes 
fastened frankly on to other eyes, as they would have 
fixed upon a flower whose function is to be regarded. 
Her sight was of the thirsty suctional sort that lays 
lips to the object viewed, and drinks its fill, childishly 
unashamed of the length and copiousness of the 
draught. Now and again the Poet was amused to de- 
tect her studying his necktie, or absorbing the shade of 
his socks, which were, this morning, heliotrope; or at- 
taching a large gaze of observation to his hair. When 
thus occupied, her look, as a rule, grew curiously neu- 
tral, as if her eyes were too intent upon their exercise 
to publish any record of what they saw a charac- 
teristic disquieting, no doubt, to those who felt the stock 
of their personal merits unequal to this visual drain. 
But the sincerity of her gaze amused and pleased the 


Poet. When he saw the gray limpet eyes affix them- 
selves to some feature of him newly noted, his heart 
smiled, and his own eyes danced until, at times, the 
girl's gaze was attracted in turn, like a spectator to the 
sight of some merrymaking, curious to learn the cause. 
Not that Bella's eyes were invariably undemonstrative 
in operation. There, again, the sign of youthfulness 
showed in her. At mere contact with a quality or ob- 
ject cared for, their gray steadfastness could break up 
instantly into beams of almost adoration. Even at the 
mention of a flavor to her liking, or a flower beloved, 
or a property admired, or an action praised, the gray 
eyes grew bright to a degree almost incredible, suf- 
fusing her very flesh with the essence of their gladness. 
Conversely, when her mood was sad, all the light sang 
down in them, and they became at once mere pits of 
sorrow or compassion, soft and dim and shady. The 
Poet took a deepening pleasure in the sight of this 
expressive face, watching the flashes of animation come 
and go. It was a countenance, he thought, inviting 
contemplation. The patient angler of expression might 
sit with profit here, beside his rod and line, and study 
its placid surface for the sight of those delicious un- 
dercurrents that stirred it, even though not much of 
substance came to his hook. 

She did not wear this morning the white tunic and 
blue serge skirt of yesterday, but in its stead a cool 
lawn frock, girdled with a chamois belt, silver buckled. 
On her head she carried a pretty adaptation of the 
rustic sunbonnet, that outlined the oval of her cheek 
and caused the golden hair to fall more compactly on 
her shoulders. A double string of coral traced a pink 
line around her neck, and now and again, by an action 
perhaps more natural than elegant though for all that 


it seemed to suit her she insinuated her chin between 
the necklet and her throat, and took the string of coral 
in her teeth. But the woman looked out of her eyes 
the moment they caught sight of the mirror over the 
mantelpiece, and the girl's hand obeyed the call of her 
reflection as a soldier might respond to a trumpet call. 
In two deft instinctive touches to her hair and sun- 
bonnet, the Poet had a momentary glimpse of the girl's 
mother, and extemporized for himself a picture of Mrs. 
Dysart out of the quick reciprocal arching of Bella's 
brows. It amused him to note how these two faces, 
actual and reflected, grew naturally grave and conse- 
quential at the sight of each other; how the lips com- 
pressed, the eyes shone keen and critical, and the heads 
assumed a poise of watchfulness that showed dignity 
awake and on her guard. It was but a flash, whilst 
the girl's finger touched her hat and hair, but how 
feminine! The latent instinct of vanity aroused that 
is as proper to the sex as its becoming blushes ran the 
gamut of the girl's body, for she slipped her thumbs 
into her belt as if to liberate some constricted portion 
of her stature, and bridled in her shoes for height 
with a pretty grace. And yet the action was not really 
vain, and convicted her of no untimely pride. It was 
but a gesture imitated and acquired; an admired trick 
of her mother's, probably, picked up like the words 
from her mother's vocabulary whose outward dimen- 
sions the girl might know and worship and yet lack 
knowledge of what they held. 

But first her lips were too brimful of O my's this 
morning to pay attention to any longer words. Every- 
thing was O my! the room, the sunlight filling it, the 
breakfast table, the Poet himself. To think it was Him ! 
And, excuse her but he was differently dressed this 


morning, wasn't he? How funny! She was differently 
dressed, too. Had he noticed? The frock made her 
look taller, didn't it? O my! Say it did! 

But that was his breakfast on the table, wasn't 
it! She'd had hers long ago. Perhaps she was dis- 
turbing him? No? Might she stay a bit? Did he 
mind? And he must tell her how he liked the toast. 
She was afraid one corner was just a teeny trifle 
burned, but Mrs. Herring had scraped that. Look- 
nobody could tell. Should she lift the cover off the fish 
for him? It was fish, wasn't it? Yes, she'd seen it 
fried. Her breakfast had been porridge. Did he like 
porridge? So did she. She loved it. 

... As for mamma, in answer to the Poet's polite 
inquiry, mamma, O my! mamma was ever so much 
better. Bella had been into her bedroom. with the tea, 
and poured it out for her and put the milk and sugar 
in, and sat on the side of the bed. Mamma looked 
lovely in bed. She had the sweetest darlingest color 
in her cheeks, and her eyes were the most beautiful 
eyes Bella had ever seen. The Poet would say so, too. 
Dark gray eyes ever so much darker than Bella's 
with a kind of violet network running all over them 
(did he understand what she meant?) and such thick 
long lashes as long as this, whereat Bella took the 
fourth finger of her left hand between the thumb and 
forefinger of her right, and indicated for the Poet a 
degree of length little short of miraculous when applied 
to the standard of the human lash. Mamma's eye- 
lashes were nearly black. Bella loved to rub her cheek 
against them. That felt so funny ! Quite like the softest 
teeny little brushes. And then, mamma's hair looked 
lovely in two great plaits tied with pink silk, one on 
each shoulder like a bell rope, right onto the quilt. 
Bella had unplaited each in turn this morning, to the 


very top, and then replaited them all the way down 
again, herself, and tied the silk bows afresh, and made 
as Mrs. Dysart said " a new mamma of her," and 
cried : " O mamma, what a sweet you look ! " and flung 
both arms around her once again, impelled by the call 
of her mother's beauty, to further kisses. The Poet 
ought to see, she rapturously declared, her mother's 
sleeping-cap. Such a dear. It was like a teeny darling 
bonnet of white lace, fitting close to the head, and 
drawn to the forehead with quarter-inch pink ribbon 
of the same shade as that in her plait-bows. Bella 
was going to have one like it when she grew older. And 
should she tell the Poet what sort of bed- jacket her 
mother wore this morning? Should she? Well, then 
. . . and the girl plunged into a loving exposition of 
soft and quilted silks, with lace insertions, and reversed 
cuffs to show the lining. 

She led the Poet into this verbal replica of her 
mother's bedroom, where Mrs. Dysart sipped tea with 
an elbow embedded in her pillow, holding the fragile cup 
beneath her lips in the smoothest and whitest of fingers ; 
showed him, too, the table by Mrs. Dysart's bed, with 
the bowl of violets that her mother loved, and the read- 
ing candle-lamp, in case her mother could not sleep, and 
the spread of books to hand. Mamma loved books. She 
had lots of books from what her little daughter valiantly 
called the " libery." And others she bought. Mamma 
was always buying books. Wherever she moved, she 
left from chair to chair a book behind her, reposed face 
downward in the cushions. And magazines O my! 
Sometimes mamma was almost buried in them. 'She 
would sit on the sofa and let them slip one after another 
to the floor, until they reached her knees, with Bella at 
her feet intent upon the reversion. 

All little verbal thumbnail sketches done at lightning 


pace by Bella's facile lips, that showed the Poet irradi- 
ating glimpses of this much-mentioned mother. Bella's 
lips had the instinctive fluency of expression that is of 
the essence of youth and of the artist. Always they 
were engaged it seemed, in re-creating things seen, or 
emotions experienced. What a pencil is for many 
children, speech was for her. Her industry amazed 
the Poet, fascinated him. Now and again she would 
correct a sentence the moment uttered, as another child 
might re-draw a faulty line, saying : " No, and it wasn't 
like that. I know what it was like. It was like " sub- 
stituting this, or the other. But always her word- 
pictures had the charm and force of simplicity never 
suffered from elaboration. With her the thing seen, 
when once she surrendered to the pastime, was the 
thing spoken. Eyes and .lips worked in such quick 
sympathy and concord that at moments, when she 
turned her gaze upon an object, her spoken comment 
on it seemed almost to precede the look. And her eyes 
for all that a gray iris symbolizes dreams and the 
gentle state of vision that shows more like a medi- 
tation over sight than a direct employment of it 
her eyes were sieves for extracting the fine material 
particles from all they saw. Their vigilance was ex- 
traordinary; they passed over nothing, save through 
politeness. At each step of their progress they picked 
up a fact or an impression. By them no object was 
deemed unworthy. They worked with a swift and 
thorough industry amid the world of natural and 
familiar objects, like a French chiffonnier amid rags. 
Or, to choose from more poetic metaphor (if not less 
truthful) like bees amid the clover or the blossoms of 
the lime; and perhaps resembling most the bee in this, 
that her labor turned to sweetness. No malice lurked 
in her lips; for all their volubility they never venomed 


truth and it is hard to talk mucn and utter nothing 
that is unkind. If they registered a failing or a fault 
it was without a particle of passion. She nurtured no 
hatred against the forms of authority, like so much of 
childhood, but seemed to have an innate talent for 
obedience, obeying through a sort of generosity that 
would have regarded refusal of compliance as a mean- 
ness, and perceiving no grandeur in any wilful breakage 
of the law. 

AS the Poet consumed his breakfast the girl's voice 
kept him company; now from the table end, by 
the side of him, where at times she came and stood 
with one hand on his chair-back and the other on the 
breakfast cloth, watching with politest interest the ply 
of his knife and fork, and following his movements 
with such attentiveness that (to the Poet's mirthful 
fancy) they appeared to be sharing a meal; quick at 
anticipating his needs: "You want the toast, don't 
you ? " " You've nearly drunk your coffee, haven't 
you? Shall you want any more? Let me pour it out 
for you. I love pouring out things." 

At such moments the girl's clear voice fell upon 
his hearing with an effect of coolness, as if she were 
blowing gently on her porridge. Then, by the sudden 
silence that followed, he knew she studied the parting 
in his hair or fed busily on his profile. At another 
time the sound of her voice, in different degrees of rap- 
ture and remoteness, reached him from the balcony. 
O my! She loved balconies. Didn't he? She wished 
they had a balcony at Cromwell Lodge. But what a 
pity it didn't run all the way round, so that you might 
go out by one window, and come in by the other. That 
would be lovely. 

And all the while that she reveled in its glories her 
lips reflected for the Poet the things she saw; a ship 
in the harbor with a dingy red funnel and some dis- 
colored figures on its smokestack. Look! There was 



a teeny jet of the whitest steam clinging to it just like 
shaking a lace handkerchief. Listen! The ship was 
whistling. Did he hear? Hoo-ooo! and the girl's 
voice, in a soft hum, echoed companionably the trailing 
sound. Or it was a noiseless landau she pictured for 
him, moving slowly by on the sun-warmed impression- 
able asphalt. The driver sat all askew on the box with 
his legs twisted ever so many times around one another. 
He kept winding and unwinding the whiplash about 
the stock. Where the horse had just put its foot there 
rose a great bead of jet. The sea blinded you to look 
at it ! It was all alive with sparkles. O my ! The sun 
felt fearfully hot; the poor balustrade was burning and 
blistered. There! Now the tram was off again . . . 
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty. Here came the other, rising 
over the trees just like a big balloon. 

And then, after such expeditions to the balcony, she 
came back to the table-end again, keen to blend in 
equable proportions these inner with those outer won- 
ders. To think he was a Poet a real Poet! the first 
she had ever seen. He was a Poet, wasn't he? To 
which the Poet, the question being put, answered : 

"Jenkins says not." 

"Who is Jenkins?" 

"Jenkins is a beast." 

" I think so, too. Why does he say that ? Because 
he doesn't know any better ? " 

" I think because he doesn't know any worse. If he 
did, probably he would say it of me." 

" Is Jenkins a friend of yours ? " 

" Well, I never thought of that. Perhaps, now you 
mention it, he is." 

" Mamma says friends always make the worst ene- 
mies. She says a friend is your enemy to be, and an 
enemy your friend that was. And it's easy to forgive 


an enemy, and one of the best ways to get on in the 
world. But it's quite useless to forgive a friend, for if 
once you forgive them they never forgive you. She 
says we ought to be grateful to our enemies, for without 
those the world would be a very lonely place to live in." 

"You make me envy you your mamma." 

"You would love her. She is a dear." The girl's 
eyes softened from rapture to solicitude. " Haven't you 
a mamma of your own ? " 

The Poet shook his head. Her eyes shed their light 
and deepened a further degree. 

"And no father?" she asked sorrowfully, as though 
compassion anticipated that his answer would be in the 

" No." 

"And no sisters?" 

" None." 

"And no brothers?" 

"Not one." 

"Only just you?" 

" Only just me." 

"O my!" 

The words came after a pause, mournfully pro- 
longed, and charged with a whole accumulation of 
wonder and pity. She stooped a little, lowering her 
brow to take stock of the Poet by the light of this 
melancholy avowal, and gazed at him for quite awhile 
with a look both mute and moist. 

" Was it a long time ago ? " she inquired in a 
lowered voice for passing the threshold of sorrow. 

" Much longer than I can remember," the Poet said. 
" I was only a child when my mother died." 

"And when your father died?" 

" I was not much older then." 

Let me pour it out for you ' " 


" How much older ? " 

" Perhaps four or five years older. I just remem- 
ber hearing a terrible bell, and peeping out through the 
blinds at some big black coaches drawn up before the 

" Those would be mourning coaches and a minute 
bell. Did you cry ? " 

" Perhaps I did. I can't remember that." 

" I should think you would. Most people cry at 
funerals, don't they ? And then your own father ! Was 
he a nice father? Of course, he would be. Was that 
the father you got the beautiful watch from? ... I 
thought so. Let me just look at it again, please." 

The Poet drew forth once more the gleaming 
chronicler of time, that had measured out his father's 
final pulses, and held it for the girl's eyes to mourn 
over. She took it anew into her fingers, gazing now 
upon its dial with the reverence for a dead face. 

" Do you often think of your father when you look 
at this?" 

" Sometimes." 

"And wish he was alive?" 

" Very often." 

She released the watch with a chastened " Thank 
you," as if even gratitude must be hushed before this 
relic of the dead. She viewed its disposal with rev- 
erent eyes for an interment. 

" And afterward ? " she resumed, in the happier 
voice that mourners permit themselves when the cere- 
mony is over. " Who took care of you then ? for you 
couldn't take care of yourself. You were only a little 
boy. How big? Half as big as me? Yes?" 

" Then, of course, I had a guardian." 

The girl contributed: "Yes, of course," with the 


most assured acquiescence, and added hurriedly: 
"What is a guardian? You'll think me a dreadful 
dunce. I am. I don't know anything." 

From the Poet's definition of a guardian they passed 
to the guardian's name, and the girl cried : " Mr. 
Pendlip? Why! that's the gentleman that was to have 
taken these rooms ! " And the Poet said : " The very 

And in next to no time the girl had elicited all about 
Mr. Pendlip's side whiskers and his portentous deep 
voice; and Mrs. Pendlip, and Daisy; and the big Geor- 
gian house on the Surrey Downs where the Poet was 
born, that was let furnished to a Scotch gentleman ; and 
the house in Dulwich (Dulwich ? Bella knew Dulwich ! 
Dulwich? O my!) where Mr. Pendlip lived, and where 
the Poet spent his boyhood. 

During their conversation the girl's left hand had 
slid imperceptibly along the polished back of the Poet's 
chair, and her face, in her interest, had come very close 
to his own. 

Did he (after a careful perusal of his countenance) 
did he wish he had a sister? Did he? The Poet an- 
swered guardedly that it all depended. Depended on 
what? On many things. On the sister, for instance. 

"What sort of a sister would you like?" she in- 
quired, and as he seemed to hesitate for an answer, 
prompted him : " One like me? " 

That admitted of only one reply. He told her: 
"One like you," and she breathed: "O my!" in her 
most grateful voice. " Do you wish I was your sister ? " 

He wished that very much indeed, and the girl 
wished it, too. 

" You'll call me Bella, won't you ? " she begged him 
in a sudden outburst of sisterly affection, and he 
said: "Oh, yes. I'll call you Bella, won't I? And 


Belladonna for short, and Mercurius Vivus when you 
are very, very good, and Ipecacuanha when you're 

" And what shall I call you ? " the girl asked him, 
when her appreciation had subsided. 

The Poet told her with the utmost cordiality : " Any- 
thing you like, Bella," a latitude of permission that 
appeared to trouble her. 

"What would you like?" 

" I declare I've no choice." 

"Must I call you Mr. Brandor?" 

"Not if you don't want." 

" I do want at least . . ." and then she asked if 
he would like her to call him Rupert. 
The Poet said he should love it. 

" And so should I ! " she concurred with fervor. 
"I'll call you Rupert, won't I? Or Roo? How would 
you like Roo?" Her lips and eyes pounced on the 
abbreviation together as if they had discovered treasure- 
trove. "That's better still, isn't it! Roo! That's 
splendid. I love it ! " 

And they would go onto the sands, wouldn't they, 
Roo! like yesterday; and sit just where they sat be- 
fore, close to the photographer with the bristles on his 
chin and yellow ringers and dirty white boots. And 
this time they would paddle, wouldn't they? What! 
Both of them? He would? Really? 

O my! 


BELLA delighted him, fascinated him. She was a 
little musical human instrument; a perfect scale 
of the purest, tenderest emotions. Short in compass 
toward the bass she might be, but the years (he feared 
to think) would soon repair this lack in her, and add 
the deeper, deadlier notes of passion and experience. 
So far not one note was out of tune. Her scale had 
been regulated by no blundering earthly tuner. Her 
pitch remained unaltered. No tonal fraction of con- 
vention had been cunningly distributed through her 
little large soul's octave as in the case of its strictly 
mechanical counterpart, for Bella had but one key, and 
that of candor. 

Such an instrument, in the Poet's fancy, was like 
a return to the virgin's harpsichord, with its quaintly 
plucked and passionless, but real and truthful music. 
For Bella, he felt, was emphatically real, emphatically 
true, filled to the lips with frankness and sincerity. 
It may have been, after all, not so much a virtue 
in her as a quality, since a virtue may be held to 
lie in the effort, and a quality in the ease with which 
we do a thing silence being no virtue in the dumb. 
And Bella could not help being real, being true; these 
things were of the fundamental essence of her nature 
almost as unalterable as the color of her eyes, or the 
flow of her golden hair. If her lips had uttered coun- 
terfeit coin those gray eyes would have reproached 
them. She might perhaps have lied for love (love 



makes liars of us all) but love alone could be cruel 
enough to force the barb of a lie across that reluctant 
little mouth, and the silent suffering of her deceit would 
have been its own sanctification. 

For one thing, Bella had nothing to conceal. Con- 
cealment is the first letter of a lie. Her innocence was 
often guilty of raising blushes on the cheek of experi- 
ence, for purity of heart alone is proof against em- 
barrassment, and knowledge is the chief complicating 
factor in life. Between good and bad that shady mid- 
way territory of conduct where most of the human 
misdemeanors lie a wide and trackless region reigned 
in Bella's mind. Wickedness she only knew by hear- 
say, by repute; like some faraway country on the map, 
as remote and as unreal as the Greenland of the hymn. 
The sins she was familiar with and fought were such 
as civilized society has learned long since to tolerate 
selfishness, or meanness, or duplicity, all of them rec- 
ognized by the highest statesmen and philosophers to 
be admirable constituents in individual and national 
character. Her every note was struck with the fear- 
less ignorance of evil; one felt at once how innocent 
she was by the bold way in which she avoided nothing, 
for one can sound the depth of people's knowledge as 
much by the discretion of their silence as the frank- 
ness of their speech. 

In her laughter, like an octave of bells, one did not 
hear above the chime the faint supertones of false har- 
monics, that mingle sometimes with the less unstudied 
laughter of riper life. 

Bella's laughter had a curious deficiency in the 
quality of mirth; the acrid element was altogether lack- 
ing in it. Even when she cried : " O my, how funny ! " 
and her gray eyes kindled and the lips drew apart, one 
felt that frank good will and not amusement prompted 


the demonstration. Mirth, with her, seemed but a meet- 
ing ground for the sincerities ; a point where eyes could 
mutually sparkle and share friendship. Sometimes, too, 
the joke made, her laughter played the hostess, urging 
others to enjoy to its full the fare while herself feasted 
mostly on their indulgence, catching pleasure by re- 
flection, and beamingly glad. 

Dear Bella Dysart ! She was a very clean slate in- 
deed. No one had ever written a bad word on it, or 
if one had, Time (who is always kind to the young) 
rubbed it off again before Bella had really read it. She 
was one of the happiest consequences of the most care- 
ful love and systematic neglect. Such love would have 
spoiled many children, such neglect would have ruined 
most; but beneath these influences Bella remained un- 
changed in her starlike steadfastness of self. Deep 
down in the placid well of her soul it seemed as if a 
planet were at anchor. At her mother's knee she had 
received small periodic sacraments of knowledge, and 
the spirit of much love. Love has a quick intuition, 
and in time she learned to read. Beyond this her edu- 
cation (if that be not too long a word to describe the 
absence of it) was scrapped assiduously together from 
all and the most inauthentic sources from her mother, 
from her nurses, from books, from pictures, and from 
the depths of her own imagination. In any case she 
had gathered it all like a garland of wild flowers with 
her own fingers, bringing the nosegays from time to 
time to her mother's side, for Mrs. Dysart's joy and 
commendation. The touch of her mother's hand upon 
the girl's hair, the sound of her mother's indulgent 
laughter at Bella's faults, her mother's kisses, the sight 
of her mother's gray and violet eyes as she pressed back 
the childish face to gaze into those wells of light re- 
flecting her own, had contributed a larger share to 


Bella's wisdom than any drawn from the written symbol 
or the printed page. 

For Mrs. Dysart's love, where it touched her child, 
had been too soft a quality for discipline or training. 
Those practical ambitions or anxieties that lend the sub- 
stance of severity to other parents' loves were lacking in 
hers. Whatever cares or fears she had were held to her- 
self. The moment her eye rested on Bella it softened, 
and all her gaze grew into a caress. Love for her 
daughter was like the fleecy eiderdown upon Bella's 
bed ; something to keep the girl safe and warm, to shield 
her from knowledge rather than to inure her to it an 
indulgent coverlet of affection in which all the girl's de- 
ficiencies were swathed and hid. True, now and again 
Bella knew the warm weight of her mother's arm, laid 
instructively around her neck, and watched her mother's 
finger trace its passage down some page of print; or 
heard her mother's lips distilling knowledge with the 
tenderness of love, or laugh over her with the lenient 
amusement for a mistake that is, all told, a tribute 
to it : " Why, Bella ! What a funny girl you are ! " 
scenting the sweet fragrance of her daughter's faults 
as if they had been blossoms. 

And yet Bella was not ignorant. For if the natural 
sentiments be sound, it is surprising how little learning 
is needed to complete a character. Other girls in Bella's 
circumstances with more brains and less love might 
have grown up blunted and deficient, beings of temper 
and perversity, repositories of passion and discontent. 
Bella, because by Providence her disposition had been 
suited to its fare, was happy, kind, and tractable, by 
instinct comprehending obedience as a mode of love, and 
love as an element of life itself, like the breath she 
drew into her nostrils, or the food she fed on. Into 
all she did, this quality of affection entered. Every- 


thing she learned, or saw, or heard, was transmuted 
by Bella's nature into the substance of love. 

Her eye was quick to see, and her ear to hear, and 
her tongue to imitate, and her mind to remember. De- 
spite Leonie's occasional denunciations of her French, 
what time the maid viewed her world biliously saffron, 
she spoke it very rapidly and sweetly, and with the 
prettiest unaffected accent. It would have done a 
Frenchman's heart good to hear the beloved sound of 
the blocked " g " through her pinched and narrow nose ; 
or the intensity with which she rolled out such a word 
as " malheur-rrreuse." 

" Depuis que j'ai vu Sylvandre 
Me regarder d'un air tendre, 
Mon coeur me dit a chaque instant, 
Peut-on vivre sans tourment? " 

sang sometimes little Bella to the quaintest of quaint 
airs of her own invention, swinging in the rocking-chair 
with a leg tucked under her frock and a hand clasped 
on her ankle. The words she had picked up from an 
old cup and saucer, that bore the picture of a florid 
shepherdess in a quilted frock, with white stockings 
and red shoes, and a Pompadour hat, and a crook in her 
hand bedecked with a ribbon. 

Bella's French was the gift of her mother. She had 
known and loved and marveled at it on her mother's lips 
long before she was able to filter it through her own; 
slowly, first of all drop by drop to the excitement of her 
wonder; then faster, -with the years, till at last it became 
a fluid medium of her thoughts like the musical flowing 
of a tap. 


FROM her mother Bella absorbed all the better part 
of her mother's nature that resplendent lunar 
portion of it that shone perpetually upon the child. 
Her mother had never been angry with Bella; Bella 
would never be angry with anybody. Her love for 
Mrs. Dysart was supreme. No breath of fear or of 
distrust or of those transitory hatreds roused in child- 
hood by the enforcement of parental power ever blew 
across its flame-like quality to make it waver. What- 
ever Mrs. Dysart's position may have been toward the 
world, or her attitude toward her fellow-beings, she 
had but one face for Bella, one heart; one unalterable 
mind. Bella could count on her at all times, under all 
conditions, was never beaten back upon herself, as are 
so many children at the inquiring age by the perplexing 
inconsistencies of those that rule them; for all the 
child's offendings there followed but one punishment, 
her mother's pardon an instrument of correction as 
dangerous as Solomon's rod, and for little Bella in- 
finitely more bitter. For what can the sensitive and 
conscientious heart do but mourn when those it has 
injured however unwittingly will levy no tax upon 
the fault? And at least, if Mrs. Dysart's lenience was 
censurable from some strict standpoints, it never led her 
daughter from the truth. Those petty falsehoods, those 
tempting side-paths of subterfuge that children use to 
slip past the sleeping anger or the harsh parental word, 
had no existence for Bella. Let her break what she 



would, the crime was condoned. At most it made but 
one more occasion for her to asperge her little bosom 
with sanctifying tears, to enjoy the blessedness of her 
mother's pardon, and taste afresh the sweet knowledge 
of her mother's love. 

Love was Bella's religion, as it was her understand- 
ing, for what she could not love she could not com- 
prehend. Her creed, condensed, was simply this : Love 
all, hate none. It is a very neglected child indeed that 
does not begin life with a prayer, and Bella had never 
been so neglected as that. In the days when she stood 
for the first time on the shore of the vast continent of 
Speech, and vistas of dim stupendous words stretched 
out before her like a forest of trees, Bella had learned 
to pray at her mother's knee, and prayer became a 
solemn garden, sweet and circumscribed, for the child 
to play in. Often and often she would wander gravely 
within its precincts, amid the words that had no mean- 
ing for her first of all, but touched her love and won- 
der, tall spires of speech that seemed to spread the 
softest of blossoms high above her head, and shed their 
blessed fragrance on the girl's uplifted and inquiring 

Of the religion as established by law, Bella knew 
very little less, indeed, than many grown-up people, 
and what was explained to her by successive nurse- 
maids and theological domestics puzzled her very much. 
She knew that God lived a frightfully long way off 
far beyond the topmost stars, that were, of course, the 
souls of little dead children twinkling in Heaven. Some- 
times when she went to bed Bella would run to her win- 
dow and pull aside the curtain and peer eagerly at the 
firmament of lights for the latest intelligence of doings 
in the child-world, and cry, with almost exultation: 


" Look, Leonie," or " Jeannette," or " Marie," as the case 
might be, " O my ! There's a lovely new star twinkling 
over there such a beauty! It wasn't there when I 
looked last night, I wonder who it is. It must be a big 
girl this time, by the look of it." And, of course, Bella 
knew that the thunder was God's voice in anger, though 
why He should need to be angry, having everything He 
wished for, Bella could not altogether understand. And 
she knew that the thunder-cloud was God's mantle, 
wrapped about His face, and that the fleecy summer 
clouds were showers, going here and there at God's 
command to rain upon the earth in dry places ; and the 
rainbow was God's promise to the world, and where its 
aerial archway sprung from the ground a treasure of 
gold was hid. 

Little of Bella's theological acquirement emanated 
from her mother. Mrs. Dysart followed now and again 
her daughter's romantic excursions in divinity with the 
outwardly assentive, the inwardly amused and wonder- 
ing smile: "Do you think so, Bella?" "What a funny 
girl you are ! " But never did she essay the serious 
role of teacher, to tax the girl's pronouncements, or 
insinuate her own doubts. After all, it is possible she 
reflected; views are views, of chief value to those that 
hold them, all more or less relative, and by this test 
or that, more or less false. Why, therefore, seek, par- 
ticularly in the realm of hypothetics, to depose one set 
of assumptions in favor of another whose only differ- 
ence may be peripheral to truth? As for Mrs. Dysart 
herself, she was Bella's supreme standard of goodness 
by which the girl measured all things including the 
Creator occasionally, indeed, to the latter's disadvan- 
tage. She could never quite comprehend His harshness 
to Adam and Eve. 


" You would not have been so cruel ? " she cried 
imploringly to her mother. " You would have forgiven 
them, wouldn't you, mamma?" 

" I ? O yes, Bella. But then your mamma is only 
a woman." 

" And all about an apple," continued Bella. " Why 
was God so angry about an apple, mamma? They only 
took one. Besides, they shared that. Did He want it 

"Perhaps it was not so much the apple," Mrs. 
Dysart suggested, stroking the golden hair, "but be- 
cause of their disobedience. Don't you think so, Bella? 
God may have been angry with them for that." 

" God ought never to be angry with anybody," Bella 
declared, "and for anything. He ought never to lose 
His temper; then other people wouldn't lose theirs. 
God made everybody. Why didn't he make them good? 
When I broke the Sevres bowl that Uncle Dody gave 
you, you were not angry with me. And I was dis- 
obedient, too, for you said if I leaned across the table 
I should break it, and I did lean across and I did break 
it. You didn't punish me, and you wouldn't even take 
my box of sixpences. You said : ' No, Bella. You did 
not break the bowl to grieve me. All your sixpences 
could not buy another bowl just quite the same as that. 
But I love you better than any bowl, Bella.' You do 
love me, don't you ? " 

"Indeed I do, Bella." 

"Yes, I know you do. And I love you. O my! 
But I should never know that God loved me at all if 
people didn't tell me so. I should never ever have 
known there was such a Person. I've never seen Him 
have you? How can one love somebody one has 
never seen? O my! it does seem funny! To think 
of Him sitting up there all day, listening to hymns. If 


I were God I should tell people I loved them myself, 
.so there was no mistake about it. And I wouldn't 
make people say prayers. If they liked to thank me 
for what I'd done I should be very glad indeed, and 
it would make me want to do something more for them. 
But I wouldn't grow vexed and angry if they didn't. 

" Even when we go to Heaven Cook says we've got 
to sing all the time not just what we want to sing, 
but songs made up about Himself, and how grateful we 
ought to be for being there. Besides, if God knows 
everything He must know when we are thankful with- 
out our telling Him, and oughtn't to wish anybody to 
say they are if they aren't. I'd rather have people 
glad than thankful. Gladness is thanks in a way, isn't 
it? But one can be thankful without being glad." 

Bella had lived a long, long time. O my! a fright- 
ful long time. Close on thirteen years. Life never 
seemed to have had any beginning for her. She and 
her mother had existed always. As far back as ever her 
memory could penetrate they had been there, the two 
of them, to where the path of life went vaguely into 
the dark. Fresh homes and new maids and nurses 
formed the milestones to her journey, and an occasional 
cook, raised by some episode or by tribute of the affec- 
tions into bas-relief upon the tables of remembrance; 
also, a desultory scattering of uncles, who grew sporadi- 
cally into Bella's life and faded out again, seldom to 
reappear. But no friends to speak of, save such as 
came occasionally with her uncles, and pinched Bella's 
cheeks; who wore the snowiest of creaseless shirts and 
collapsible hats that Bella loved to squeeze against her 
breast, or flick open with the report of a pop-gun 
against her outstretched hand. 

Lady friends formed rarer milestones in the girl's 
remembrance. Here and there they figured in her 


recollection, rustling fashionably in the latest of gowns; 
ladies who talked toilet, and smelled of eau-de-Cologne 
and violets when she kissed them, and laughed and 
spoke in tones that had no love in them, only a bright 
metallic gaiety, and threw out endearments with the 
carelessness for discarding a muff beings for the most 
part unreal to Bella, because no sentiment seemed to 
warm them, the objects of her solemn gaze, and not 
comparable on any basis to her mother, whose arm 
enfolded Bella with secretly redoubled fervor in their 
presence, as if the two of them were pledged allies and 
every gown concealed a hostile power. Ever, behind 
this come and go of faces, Bella and her mother had 
shared the consciousness of solitude ; it was their secret, 
the thread on which their lives were inseparably beaded, 
making them dearer to each other, more real and neces- 
sary to each other. No girls of her own age and her 
own estate had ever played with Bella, helping her to 
spin the flax of innocence into the yarn of primitive 
and rudimentary wisdom, or assisted her to shake the 
tree of knowledge for its immature green apples. She 
was behind her age, and she was before it. Of the 
knowledge accumulated and stored by inquiring child- 
hood, Bella, as a mere unit out of communion with the 
main body of youth, knew nothing. Such wisdom as 
she had grew naturally in her bosom snowdrops of 
the fancy that a whisper might have slain. 


IN the times when Bella was left to herself, or by 
herself (for one can be very much alone in com- 
pany) long evenings when her mother was away from 
her, afternoons when the rain played on the window- 
pane, like fingers thrumming tunes, hours when Nurse 
was wrapped up over-ears in the pages of fiction so 
deep that nothing but the unfailing instinct for a street 
accident or a passing funeral could have roused her 
at such moments as these Bella used to think. 

She would think aloud to herself (if there were 
nobody present) or aloud to the two of them if she 
had a companion. It was not an objectionable aloud; 
it exacted no answers, made no more noise than the 
contented singing of the kettle. It went on and on, 
like the spinning of a thread, always musical, often 
dreamily inaudible a little solitary voice going out 
from her, far away over the trackless plains of thought. 
Bella would spend whole afternoons in rummaging the 
store-room of her recollection; reclaiming dusty cob- 
webby memories from obscure and forgotten corners, 
that she bore subsequently to Mrs. Dysart's knee for 
identification or confirmation. In this diligent fashion 
she recalled scenes that less solitary childhood might 
have forgotten the dim lineaments of long-vacated 
homes, always, or nearly always, within reach of thfr 
steady roar of London, tiny rooms perched up amid 
twisted chimney-pots, where the sun blazed hot in sum- 
mer, or filtered through thick fog in winter, rooms of 



more spaciousness and splendor, with lifts to take their 
occupants up and down, and agile boys in gilded but- 
tons to let them in and out. And once a home at 
Brighton, and one for a year at Kew, where Bella 
could see the great Pagoda from her bedroom window, 
and, of course though this required no remembering 
their present house by Regent's Park, in whose green 
area Bella went for daily walks, and fed the water- 
fowl, and heard diurnally the trumpetings of elephants 
and imperious language of wild and kingly beasts. 

Out of the illimitable past, faces came back to her; 
dead people spoke to her. She was perplexed with the 
consciousness of lips that smiled upon her, or brows that 
frowned, or a countenance flushed and angry, or the 
dim remembrance of voices in conflict, coldly sup- 
pressed, but tense and biting, like frosty air. 

"A room " Bella's clear mathematical voice de- 
fined to Mrs. Dysart, her eyelids drawn together, lash 
to lash, as if to get the focus of this distant thing de- 
scribed "and, I think, a very beautiful room. There 
were four windows in it, three at the side, and one, a 
very big one, and two doors. The side windows opened 
down the middle, and you could walk out of them onto 
a broad path. Once I think I tumbled and fell down, 
and somebody picked me up. I forget whether I 
laughed or cried, but there were little pebbles sticking 
to my hands and forehead. Beyond the path there was 
a green lawn, and in the middle of the lawn there stood 
a big tree that turned all gold, with a white seat going 
round it. Have I ever seen such a room, mamma ? " 

" You were a very little girl then, Bella." 

" Then there was such a room ? " 

"It was the drawing-room." 

" O my ! Whose drawing-room ? " 


"Our drawing-room where we used to live." 

"You and I?" 

"Yes you and I." 

" It was a beautiful room, wasn't it?" 

" It was indeed, Bella." 

" Why did we ever leave such a beautiful room ? " 

Her mother's gaze thinned momentarily to a fine 
point of abstraction. 

" You funny girl ! " she said, and laughed. " One 
cannot always live in the same place, Bella." 

" Oh," said Bella, pondering the response. And 
then she saw that Mrs. Dysart had not answered her. 
" Perhaps you don't want to tell me." 

" I don't want to trouble you," her mother corrected 
quickly. " That is all, Bella. It is a long story. You 
would not understand." 

" Did it make you cry when we had to leave ? Did 
you kiss me when you were crying, and did I tell you 
your cheeks were all wet ? " 

" Do you remember that, too ? " 

Bella nodded her head. 

" Yes, I remember that too, now. O my ! " pursued 
Bella. " It's funny how I can remember things in that 
way. Sometimes I see people doing things in my head. 
They open their mouths and talk to each other, but I 
can't catch a single word. Just as if I was looking at 
them through a telescope, ever so far away. You know 
what that is, don't you ? " 

" I know what you mean, Bella." 

" Do you remember," Bella questioned more slowly 
and exactly, as if reading her words from a half ob- 
literated inscription, " a man ? " 

Mrs. Dysart rang a little laugh like the chime of a 


"A man! What a funny question, Bella!" 

" Not Uncle Peter, or Dody," Bella explained. " O 
my ! Before then a long time before. As many years 
before as the beautiful drawing-room." 


" Yes." 

" And what was the man like, Bella ? " 

" I seem to know, but somehow I can't say. It's like 
trying to think of a word that you know as well as well, 
and can't remember. Was he dark, mamma ? " 

" I have known dark men.* 1 

" Had he a moustache ? a large moustache that 
seemed to hide something, that made you want to know 
what was beneath a large dark moustache that he 
pulled like this and could laugh under without your 
knowing, so that you had to look ever so hard to tell 
if he was smiling or angry ? " 

" Perhaps ... I think he had," Mrs. Dysart said 
softly. "What sharp eyes and a long memory you 
have, Bella!" 

"There was such a man then? O my! I knew 
there was. How funny! I seem to remember every- 
thing, don't I?" 

" Oh, yes, there was such a man." Mrs. Dysart's lips 
paused, as though shaped for the word " unfortunately," 
but no breath sounded it. She brightened her smile on 
Bella's face instead. 

"What did they call him? Do you know?" 

"His name was Oliver Dysart." 

"Dysart! That's our name, too yours and mine." 

"He was your father, Bella." 

" I didn't think I had a father," Bella reflected, " ex- 
cept, of course, Our Father that art in Heaven. I 
suppose that everybody must have a father somewhere. 


Why does he never come to see us ? " A pious fear 
crept into Bella's mind, subduing her lips and hushing 
her voice. "Is he dead, mamma?" 

" Dead to us, Bella." 

" O my ! " said Bella reverently, and pondered again. 
" To us ? How can that be ? Isn't he dead to anybody 

" Dead to everybody," Mrs. Dysart corrected. 

"Really and truly dead?" Bella inquired, and her 
mother seemed with her lips to acquiesce, saying: 

" Do not think about him, Bella." 

Bella caught the tone and looked deep into her 
mother's eyes. 

" Didn't he love us, mamma ? " 

" We did not love him, either, Bella. You and I 
did not love him either. He was unkind to us." 

"No, no," Bella repeated. "We did not love him, 
did we? O my! Tell me about him, mamma." 

Mrs. Dysart shook her head and laid her fingers 
upon her daughter's hair in soft repression. " Don't 
let's talk about him, Bella." 

"And I need not try to love him, mamma?" 

" You need not try to love him, Bella." 

"I love you, and that's sufficient, isn't it?" 

"More than sufficient, Bella." 

Bella wound her arms around the neck that inclined 
to them, and fastened her lips against her mother's 
cheek. She did not see the enlargement of her mother's 
eyes, magnified by slow-welling tears, but she felt the 
contraction of her mother's arms around her, that hurt 
her for one keen moment (though she said no word) 
before they relaxed over a sigh. 

"You do love me, Bella?" 

"Yes, yes, I love you." 


"More dearly than anybody else in the world?" 
" O my ! Yes. Who else is there for me to love, 

Mrs. Dysart tinged her answer with a faintly bitter 


" True who else is there for you to love, Bella ? " 

" But I do love you better than anybody else in the 
world. Better than anybody else in the whole world. 
O my! I love you all the better because there 
is only you to love. Nobody shares it. It is every 
bit for you, mamma." 

"Suppose, Bella " 

"Yes, yes. Let's suppose I love supposing. 

" Suppose that some day somebody " 


"Oh, anybody." 

" Suppose that anybody ? " 

"Yes told you dreadful things about me about 
your mother, some day " 

" About you ? " 

" About me, Bella." 

" But nobody would ever tell me dreadful things 
about you, mamma. Never ! Never ! How could they ? 
O my!" 

"But suppose, Bella." 

" Dreadful things about you ? About you 
mamma ? " 

"About me, Bella. They might. Who can tell? I 
want you to suppose." 

"What sort of dreadful things?" 

" Any sort. All sorts. Things that would make you 
suffer horribly to hear." 

"Then I should not believe them," Bella cried in 
her chill voice of passion a passion purged of all per- 


sonal dross and burning, purely righteous, outraged 
justice making use of her lips rather than anger roused. 
"And I would not listen to them. Only wicked people 
could say such things, and they would never get to 
Heaven, and I should hate them hate them hate 

" Ah ! You might hate them if it were untrue. . . . 
But if it were true if it were really true! Perhaps 
you would hate your mother then ! " 

"But it's not true. It couldn't be true!" 

" Even dreadful things and about people we love 
the best may be true, Bella." 

" How could it be true about you, mamma ! It 
isn't true. It's not a bit true. Oh, say it's not true ! " 

"Then you wouldn't love me, Bella?" 

" O yes. I would love you. I couldn't help loving 
you. You can't stop loving anybody you love all at 
once, like that. Oh, don't let's suppose any more. I 
hate supposing. It's all right supposing 'As I came 
over London Bridge,' or, ' Suppose the Moon were 
made of Cheese.' But you frighten me when you talk 
about supposing dreadful things, as if you had done 
something wicked." 

" Everybody is wicked, at some time, Bella." 

" Oh, yes, I know. We're all of us wicked since the 
Apple. But that's God's fault, not ours. Nobody 
knows quite what He wants us to do. He's made up 
such a lot of things that we must and mustn't, and 
sometimes it is wicked if we do, and sometimes it's 
wicked if we don't. Why can't we do just as we like, 
so long as we don't hurt Him? He's frightfully hard 
to please. And He says He'll give us anything we want, 
if only we'll ask Him for it, but He doesn't, because 
I've asked Him for ever such a lot of things, and never 
got one. I think He's mean, and I told Nurse so last 


night, and she said : ' Take care He doesn't hear you.' " 
The conversation, deflected into Bella's theological 
channel, ran itself away from the momentous hypothesis 
the monster Suppose. By Mrs. Dysart the subject 
was not verbally raised. But more than once, at odd 
moments when she pressed back Bella's forehead with 
her hand, in the caressing habitude she had, and gazed 
down into the girl's reflective eyes, the subject, spiritu- 
ally resurrected, seemed to haunt her gaze the phan- 
tom of a query, disquieted and apprehensive, that 
peered, as if it would see into the girl's soul, and read 
a judgment or a doom. 


BELLA was the soundest and lightest of sleepers. 
She slept as intently as a top, sustained by the 
least perceptible of breathing; the finest filament of air 
sufficed to hold 'the volatile soul in check, reinforced 
at intervals with a sigh of tranquillity rather than un- 
repose, when all unconsciously she turned upon her 
pillow. Less than three minutes after uttering her last 
Amen, her lids were locked over the gray eyes, and 
save in hours of sickness reopened rarely until the mor- 
row, when Bella dismissed slumber with the same 
alacrity that she quitted her chair after a meal, and was 
as wide awake one moment as she had been sound asleep 
the last, taking up life like a story-book where she had 
left it off the night before, brimful of remembered and 
contemplated joy, suffused each morning with the spirit 
of new-born wonder, so that each familiar unfolding of 
a fresh day had for her no less the sanctity of asso- 
ciation than the absorbing interest of novelty and 

Her soul, indeed, was the priceless crystal of con- 
tent, whose lucid purity lends warmth and wonder and 
the enchantment of prismatic hues to everything viewed 
through it. To Bella the sun was more than a celestial 
orb. He was all that to the girl, of course; a splendid 
deity clad in robes of changing fire, of gold and bronze 
and blood-red crimson; a being to be marveled at 
and worshiped. But he was, beyond and further- 
more and better still, her dear familiar friend, her 



playmate and companion too burning hot, perhaps, for 
Bella in his boisterous summer mood, but beloved above 
all at eventide, when tired of play and drowsy-headed 
they watched each other dreamily, these two, in the 
pious stillness of communion that precedes a parting. 
Then, perhaps, Bella might sing soft good-nights 
through her lips to him, and blow him kisses as he left 
her window-sill, calling him her little brother, and beg- 
ging him be sure and wake her up next morning, and 
hoping tenderly it would not rain; endowing this dis- 
tant incandescent body with such real qualities of 
friendliness and love that often in her pensive and more 
lonely moments his last rays gleamed on lashes humid 
with the girl's tears, for no reason at all that her little 
heart could give except the permeating sense of a soft 
and almost pleasurable sadness the spiritualization of 
solitude and loss. Bella possessed this faculty of en- 
joying sorrow for its own sweet sake that is a dis- 
tinguishing trait of the artistic temperament, and would 
not infrequently beseat herself upon a buffet to be sad, 
or in the big settee, or cushions of the soft upholstered 
chairs, ensconce herself to be as lonely as you please, 
swinging a dejected heel, and feeding on solitude like 
funeral cake of melancholy flavor, telling her mother, 
not without a certain pride in the accomplishment : " O 
mamma ! For ten minutes I've been so sorrowful ! " 

And then again she had the child's and artist's 
sense of vitalizing things inanimate; endowing even 
rugs and hassocks with a character distinctive and per- 
sonal. Dumb animals, for Bella, virtually included 
chairs and tables, and all the family of furniture that 
moved on four legs. The moment Bella loved an ob- 
ject it became alive. The love she bore it seemed re- 
flected, so that all the things she cared for assumed in 
Bella's eyes the aspect of tutelar deities, filled with 


watchfulness and love. Here, sublimely unconscious of 
her power, Bella held one of the greatest secrets in 
life, the secret of how to live. " They live well 
who love well," says the old maxim that adds, for 
those who set a value on the manner of demise, 
" and die well who live well." For unless we lavish 
our affections the world we pass through remains but 
a barren rock, stubborn and reticent, and yielding noth- 
ing because endowed with nothing. Life, to blossom 
and to flower with benefits, must first be spiritually fer- 
tilized, made beautiful with our own fancies, and 
quickened with our own affections. Let the heart cease 
to be husbandman of our happiness and the world of 
beauty and of wonder withers; its blossoms fade and 
fall; its golden crops die down and leave revealed the 
furrows of a naked soil. All things are only beautiful 
to those that see them so; the empty heart perceives 
a hollow world; without love in ourselves no quality 
of love can touch us. Verily, indeed, to those that have 
shall be given, and from those that have not shall be 
taken even that that they have. 

For Bella the very rooms were worlds, filled with 
fellow-lives and wonders ; friendly spirits and compan- 
ionable voices. Even the home-made fairy tale, spun 
by her own imagination to fill some lonely hour, as- 
sumed, when once created, its living place within the 
circle of the girl's affections a friend and playmate 
henceforth to revisit her, and divide and reciprocate 
love. The days of the week were individual for 
Bella, each possessing its particular and incommu- 
nicable quality derived again from the girl's own 
heart and admitting a preference (though conscien- 
tiously curbed, like the mother's feelings toward a 
large family) in Bella's love of them. Of all days in 
the week, perhaps, she favored Wednesday. But Mon- 


day was a beautiful day, too, wasn't it? And so was 
Saturday, that brought her stipulated sixpence. And 
she liked Friday as well. Poor Friday! Perhaps it 
wasn't so unlucky as people thought. O my! Good 
Friday couldn't be unlucky could it with it's beauti- 
ful hot-cross buns ! And, of course, there was Sunday, 
whose mention caused her voice to sink in tone to what 
in attitude would be a kneeling posture, hushed and 
reverent. O my! They mustn't forget Sunday, must 
they! Sunday was a lovely day so quiet and good. 
But she loved all the days. How funny there were 
just seven of them and no more, so they had to keep 
coming over and over and over again. Sometimes she 
rather wished there had been eight. Did they ever get 
tired? How did people really know which day was 
which? O my! And who gave them their names? 

Whenever Bella took a toy or book or favored thing 
to bed, its presence near her pillow or beneath it broke 
her sleep betimes. All through the night the sense of 
that cherished proximity mingled with the sweetness of 
her dreams, and in the morning woke her. Or if her 
lids had closed in slumber, half-smiling over some pro- 
ject for the morrow, it was that project knocking at the 
door of Bella's consciousness that called the girl all 
eager from her sleep. Such a project woke her on the 
Sunday, drew her up irresistibly like a bubble to the 
surface of slumber, that burst over the golden bars of 
Spathorpe sunlight through the winking blinds with a 
rapturous " O my ! " The knowledge of the day had 
been a star twinkling over her since dawn, a kiss com- 
ing to her from the skies to meet the moment on her 
lips. In the brief slumbrous seesaw of Bella's senses, 
that took place always when first she closed her eyes 
at night, those effortless imaginings like the play of 


sleek waters that subside into the placid level of sleep, 
there had come to her a resolve a resolve whose 
beauty almost woke the girl again O my! a wonderful 
resolve, a lovely resolve. It was a resolve built upon a 
silk hat. Did one ever hear of such a resolve? 

To-morrow, Bella told" herself, would be a day of 
bells and best frocks, and new shoes and silk hats. 
Twice already she had heard the mellow bells of old 
St. Margaret's ring across the bay on Sunday morning 
such gentle, lovable bells with the sweetest and sad- 
dest and kindest of voices, that seemed to know all 
about Bella, and how old she was, and how lonely, 
and where she came from, calling her by name so 
frequently and clearly that none but Leonie could mis- 
take it. Bella threw open her heart to these holy sisters 
of the belfry, and they entered and talked with her, 
making her as sad as sad, and beautifully devout, beg- 
ging her some day to come and see them, and yet not 
reproaching her or showing anger for her present 
neglect, knowing that her mother was ill, and Leonie 
a Roman Catholic, who spat contemptuous " Pftts!" 
and " Heins!" against the English churches, and telling 
Bella they were all stolen from the Pope; and Mrs. 
Herring had the cooking to look after, and there was 
no one to keep Bella company. But to-morrow she 
would pay them a visit, with her new red morocco 
prayer-book, and the Poet should take her, wearing his 
shining silk hat. In all Bella's life she had never once 
been to church with a silk hat. O my! never. She 
had seen them conducted reverently into church along 
with other enviable little girls, and prayed into, and put 
carefully under the seat, or out of harm's way on the 
cushion at the end of it sometimes so close to Bella 
that she could peep over the pew ledge and read the 
maker's name and the owner's gold initials in the won- 

'68 BELLA 

derful white silk lining, and smell the fascinating odor 
of Russia leather from the head-band. Of all her 
uncles, who invariably wore the blackest and sleekest 
and silkiest of silk hats hats that shone like polished 
saucepans, and looked lovely on a drawing-room chair 
or on the hat-stand not one of them had ever taken 
Bella to church. They had laughed most engagingly at 
the suggestion, as if, with a little further pressing, they 
might be prevailed on, and had taken a fold of Bella's 
sober cheek between their thumb and forefinger, prom- 
ising : " Oh, some day, Bella." But some day, like to- 
morrow, never came. Never had Bella known the joy 
of going to church in company with a decorous silk 
hat, of being the first to reach it after the benediction, 
of polishing its surface caressingly with her sleeve as 
she had learned to do at home. But now this de- 
ficiency in her experience was to be corrected. To- 
morrow such a hat should go with her to church and 
share the pew and lend an added fervor to her prayers. 
"Yes," she decided in the beatific state of faith pre- 
ceding slumber. " To-morrow morning we will go to 
church. Won't it be lovely with the bells all ringing. 
O my! I hope it's fine. And I will lend Roo my red 
morocco prayer-book if he likes. And after that he is 
to come and see mamma." 

AND in the morning the knowledge of the day and 
the remembrance of her resolution shone upon her 
heart like sunlight upon a dial; with a sense of warmth 
and light and gladness that awoke her. 

She put on the open-worked stockings at a day 
before open-worked stockings had run their fatal course 
of popularity and the fawn-colored frock, her very 
latest frock of all, that was proudly longer in the skirt 
than any she had worn before, and her new French 
shoes, with real silver buckles, that Bella's self breathed 
on and polished to a distracting intensity of reflection; 
and the filigree silver belt that Mrs. Dysart had re- 
nounced in favor of her daughter. Thus arrayed, she 
followed Leonie, who bore the tea-tray, into her 
mother's room, with pursed lips and interrogative eye- 
brows, that on a sudden expansion burst into light and 
life as she saw her mother's wakened and smileful eyes, 
flinging herself robustly on the bedside and fastening 
voluble kisses on her mother's cheek, whose music filled 
the room like the sudden waking of a songbird, and 
bidding her mother : " Look, mamma ! Aren't they 
pretty stockings? Aren't they darling shoes? Isn't it a 
sweet of a frock! Oh, mamma, I love you." Then, 
when she had taken her mother's two hands in hers, 
holding her thus lovingly at arms' length to be looked 
at, and shortened the regard into an irresistible caress, 
and poured out her mother's tea, and sat at the bed- 
foot to watch her mother drink it, devouring her 



mother's every movement with eyes of curious intent- 
ness and admiration, while her lips moved in quick 
sympathy with what she saw. 

" Oh, mamma ! You do look sweet, sitting up in 
bed." "What a pretty smile that was, just then. O 
my! With your lips close to the tea cup, just like 
giving a kiss. What were you thinking about? About 
me? Really?" "And how sweetly you hold your cup, 
with one two three fingers curled. However do you 
do it? Like this? No, it isn't like that. My fingers 
won't do it a bit. O my ! I'd love it if they would." 

Then, after unplaitings and replaitings of her 
mother's hair, and smoothings of her mother's pillow, 
Bella had run hatless to Mrs. Herring's, her silver 
buckles flashing in the sun, to ask how Bendigo was, 
and Mrs. Herring's self, and " Look, Mrs. Herring. 
This is the frock I told you of. Am I troubling you? 
And this is the belt. And these are the shoes. Do 
say they're nice. And how do you like my stockings? 
Perhaps Mr. Herring would like to see them, too. Is 
that Mr. Herring in the scullery ? " 

It was Mr. Herring tied up in a fringed white apron, 
busy with Sir Henry's and the Poet's boots. Now and 
again he held his work out at melancholy arm's length, 
as though despairing of it, breathed twofold sighs upon 
the leather, and resumed his rubbing with the air of 
one trying to efface some blighted past. Bella was not 
without her doubts as to Mr. Herring's status in the 
domestic world. He seemed to haunt rather than in- 
habit it, treading his way about the lower regions with 
a deportment of curbed respect for somebody dead in 
the upper; and accompanying each step with a re- 
pressive sibilance that sought to extinguish the sound 
of his feet. No discoverable deference appeared to be 
paid to him, and certainly none was demanded. His 


chief anxiety in life seemed to consist of an attempt to 
escape notice. Even Louisa exclaimed one day, in 
Bella's hearing : " Oh, it's only master'm," which Bella, 
on reflection, came to consider a somewhat curious say- 
ing. Indeed, but for Bella's explorative instincts she 
might never have known Mrs. Herring's husband as any- 
thing more substantial than a cough that scraped dis- 
creetly behind the scullery door. Always Mr. Herring 
stole about with an uneasy eye as if a troubled seeker 
of something difficult to define, whom the mere turn of 
Mrs. Herring's head sufficed to convince that the ob- 
ject of his quest, if any, lay elsewhere. And when Mrs. 
Herring, Bella noted curiously, addressed her husband, 
it was for the most part in monosyllables, such as 
" Well ! " " Now ! " " What ! " " Here ! " all more or 
less of an interjectional character, like articles thrown, 
that caused Mr. Herring to quicken his step forward, 
or vanish as swiftly as revealed, drawing the door upon 
his face so hurriedly as to suggest a risk of trapping 
it, making through his blown lips a self-deprecatory 
noise akin to the sound of a boiling batter pudding when 
it pouts and puffs with steam. Now that he had shed 
his upper teeth, and his top lip displayed a tendency to 
sink behind the lower, it was difficult to believe that 
he had once been butler in a nobleman's family, and 
firmly but respectfully insinuated the names of wines 
and dishes in the ears of great people, and disdained all 
offices short of dignity. Now, all those little offices 
that lay below the dignity of wife or maids were his, 
relegated by a natural process to this one-time formula 
of pomp and circumstance, Mrs. Herring's designation 
for her husband being generally " he." " Oh, never 
mind that, Louisa, You haven't time now. He'll look 
to it when he comes back." 

With her peculiar faculty for loving everybody 


Bella bestowed her affection promptly on Mr. Herring, 
and grew quite intimate and friendly with his double- 
barreled voice, like a brace of whispers, that made two 
of every word he said, and carried a peculiar fragrance 
now and then, puzzlingly familiar, that Bella felt sure 
she knew and yet could not recall, like brandysnap or 
caraway seed. 

From the scullery and Mr. Herring's whispers, Bella 
tripped upstairs to Rupert's room, in company with 
Bendigo, that dingy and most affable dog, a fox terrier 
by birth and a loafer by proclivity, who was always 
having to forego his tub during the season, owing to 
domestic pressure, and grew in sociability as he dimin- 
ished in cleanliness. It was so long since Bendigo had 
taken part in the pleasures of the field that he would 
scarcely have recognized a rabbit had he seen one. Much 
polishing of Sir Henry's plates had accentuated a ten- 
dency in him to embonpoint; the steady enlargement of 
his abdominal convexity had so widened the rib space 
between his legs that the latter now obtruded at an 
angle like the wooden legs of a washerwoman's peggy. 
His black left ear, snipped and punched like an all- 
through railway ticket hung with somewhat sinister 
effect over his left eye, and there was invariably a black 
patch in the vicinity of Bendigo's reverse, due to his 
partiality for sitting on hot tar. He lived contentedly 
under a general sense of disgrace, hearing himself so 
habitually apostrophized in terms of reprehension and 
censure that the epithets by sheer familiarity aroused 
his amicable feelings, and stimulated the most friendly 
functions of his tail. Representation on Sir Henry's 
part had caused Bendigo to be excluded rigorously from 
the knight's apartments, his occasional intrusion there 
being notified by a violent ringing of the bell. But 
the Poet imposed no restrictions of the kind. He and 


Bendigo, after Bella's introduction, maintained the very 
b.est of terms, and many a sigh of sun-warmed satis- 
faction did Bendigo heave upon the balcony, or be- 
neath the cool shade of the Poet's sofa. 

The Poet was not visible this morning, having gone 
down to the shore with a towel around his neck, but 
Bella helped Louisa to spread the cloth, and set the 
Poet's place, and lay his letters on a plate (she knew 
who that was from that big one with the big black 
writing O my! wasn't it funny writing!) and draw 
his chair to table, after which Bella raced onto the 
balcony to look for Roo, and hold an incidental con- 
versation with the boy from next door, who cut a very 
altered and unfamiliar figure in his Sunday clothes. 

This boy, together with a mother, some sisters, a 
nursemaid, and a brother or two (one of them violently 
and noisily in arms) was the property of a clergyman 
occupying the lower sitting-room in the adjacent house 
upon the Esplanade. Bella had made his acquaintance 
the day before yesterday, partly through Bendigo, but 
chiefly impelled to friendship by the curious fact that 
he lived in the next house to the Poet. 

" Do you live there ? O my ! How funny ! Is it a 
nice house? You haven't got a balcony, have you? 
Would you like to have a balcony? Are all those your 
sisters and brothers?" She noticed, without unkind- 
ness, and, indeed, with peculiar feelings of affection, 
that the boy had a very large mouth, not unlike the 
postal pillar-box around the corner, and no chin to 
speak of, which slipped out of sight behind his collar 
when he spoke, as though guilty of something. Rupert 
called him the Polliwog. Bella did not know what a 
polliwog was, so the Poet explained that it was classic 
Greek for tadpole, and Bella did not know what a 

tadpole was, being O my! frightfully ignorant, but the 


Poet said : " Never mind, Bella, you know what he is, 
don't you?" And Bella said: O my! she should think 
she did! He had a bull-shaped head receding to noth- 
ing, and the thinnest of legs issuing from the widest 
and longest of knickerbockers, cut on a capacious model 
for growth, that Bella eyed with a look between com- 
miseration and perplexity. Such legs and such knicker- 
bockers could never have led any one to suppose their 
owner was in love with Bella. That was one of the 
things he kept furtively to himself, like the solitary 
apple, or the last humbug at the bottom of the bag, 
fearful of being called on to divide its sweetness with 
another. True, he had tried to insinuate a quality of 
propitiation into the smile with which he favored Bella, 
but as Bella was unacquainted with the smile in its 
normal character, there was little to be gleaned from 
that, and besides, the Polliwog's face at this epoch of 
development was an indifferent medium for the soft 
emotions. Wrath, passion, uncharity, malice and the 
war-like moods lacked nothing by translation into terms 
of his large mouth and collapsible brow, but a guilty 
self-conscience laid in wait like a highwayman for all 
the kindlier feelings, and robbed and pistoled them 
effectually on the turnpike road. 

How such a boy had ever come to attach a senti- 
mental significance to Bella is more than can be ex- 
plained for the satisfaction of the deeply inquiring. But 
that she was able to inspire him with one single thought 
of any tender shade must stand largely writ to the 
credit of Bella's beauty. Probably the Polliwog had 
heard his family discussing Bella's charms at table. 
They had done so more than once, and even assembled 
discreetly by the window to observe her at the call of 
the Polliwog's second sister : " Look, mamma ! Look, 
papa! There's that pretty girl with the golden hair, 


close to the gate, talking to the postilion and stroking 
the horse's nose. I wonder who she is." It is scarcely 
probable that the Polliwog's eye for beauty was suffi- 
ciently developed to perceive this quality in Bella for 
himself. Boys of the Polliwog type have a faculty for 
coveting the things that other people like. It is a form 
of greed. 

Bella had just counted four ships at sea this morn- 
ing when the Polliwog appeared. Her alert gray eye 
caught sight of him at once, and her gaze transferred 
itself with keen and interested friendliness to his move- 
ments, waiting for his look and recognition. He had 
seen Bella from the first, but not knowing in what man- 
ner the difficult problem of acknowledgment was to be 
effected, decided to ignore her for the present and per- 
form incidentally one or two bold and many acts to 
recommend himself more valiantly to her favor. To 
which end he whistled nonchalantly and flung a stone 
across the roadway, and kicked the palings, and made 
semblance of performing gymnastic exercises on the 
gate, and was proceeding to ride upon it when a deep 
masculine voice from the lower window boomed out 
like a distant minute gun, uttering a single name, where- 
at the Polliwog ceased awkwardly, with a lingering 
promptitude, as if cessation were voluntary, rubbing his 
hands and putting them into his trousers' pockets, and 
propping himself against the rails with a heel hooked 
onto the stone curb, and last of all when Bella was 
beginning to wonder however he could fail to notice 
her for so long turning his glance casually to the bal- 
cony, from which Bella's face, framed on each side 
in falls of golden hair, looked intently down on him. 
There, his eyes fenced shiftily with hers for a second 
or two, and his mouth described the arc of an uneasy 


C 4 T T ELLO ! " he said, in a voice pitched loud 
A JL enough to reach the balcony and yet fall short 
of vigilant parental ears. He had rejected " Good day " 
or " Good morning " as forms of correct address be- 
traying weakness in a boy, whistling over his words the 
moment uttered, to mark their unimportance in his eyes, 
and looking up and down the roadway with an air of 
being superior to circumstances. 

" Hello," sang Bella. The word was not one of 
her most familiar acquaintances, but she befriended it 
brightly for the Polliwog's sake, accenting each syllable 
as if she took the word by both hands and said how 
glad she was to meet it. The Polliwog winced at the 
unguarded brightness of her voice, whose clear tone 
seemed to flash in the sunlight as if it were a coin. He 
changed uneasy heels against the coping and turned to 
steal a hurried glance at the lower window, but its 
pacific and unwatchful character appeared to lend no 
substance to alarm, for he raised his head to the bal- 
cony again, and bade Bella in the same low voice 
(through a smile like an inverted sickle) not to fall 
down. This was his humor, or rather the revised 
quality ot it corresponding to his amended smile. The 
tyrannical humor with which he favored his sisters was 
of a totally different order, and would have been quite 
unintelligible to Bella, whose closest intimacy with cur- 
rent slang lay in her own fanciful administration of the 
parts of speech. 



"O my ! " she responded, measuring with an awed 
and imaginative eye the distance of the drop. " No, I 
mustn't do that, must I ? " 

She disengaged her glance from its momentary task 
of computation, and employed it interestedly on the Pol- 
liwog's raiment. 

" Those are your Sunday clothes, aren't they ? " she 
inquired with ingenuous candor. 

The Polliwog's chin went out of sight behind his 
collar, and his forehead, collapsing, hid his shifty eyes 
in a self-conscious withdrawal of gaze that Bella read 
for assent. 

" I thought they were," she said. " I've got a Sun- 
day frock on, too. And my best shoes. Look! Are 
you going to church ? " 

The Polliwog's brow obscured his eyes still further, 
and the sickle-shaped smile hung onto his mouth at one 
corner only. Bella understood him to nod his head, 
and thereafter he whistled two or three notes, subdued 
in quality, but of a strain notably defiant. 

" So am I," said Bella. " Isn't it funny ? I've never 
been to church in Spathorpe before. Of course, I've 
been in other places lots of times. Which church are 
you going to? St. Margaret's? That beautiful big 
old church right over there, where the bells are. See! 
Where my finger points." 

Bella bent her head as far over the balcony as it 
would go, to try and gain a peep beneath the obstinate, 
interceptive bulge of the Polliwog's brow, that hid his 
eyes from her. 

" They're the dearest old bells. They'll begin to 
ring after awhile. Do you like going to church? I do. 
I love it." 

Some sort of moral convulsion appeared to upheave 
the Polliwog's brow, and to Bella's amazement he mut- 


tered words not clearly audible, but unmistakably in 
derogation of these hallowed edifices. Bella had almost 
the belief that he proclaimed himself sick of church, 
and said that he hated it--though that, of course, could 
scarcely be, coming from a clergyman's son. For the 
moment she wondered whether the Polliwog could, by 
any means, be less nice than she had tried to think him. 
But she dismissed the doubt by deciding to believe that 
she was not sure if he had really said what, just at first, 
she had been horrified to think he had said, and resolved 
at least, for the present to consider him as nice as 
ever. So her smile, that had softened unconsciously 
whilst her gray eyes took their curious re-survey of 
him, brightened again. 

" I thought " she began in her clear and friendly 
voice, and broke the sentence in favor of a query: 
" Your father's a clergyman, isn't he ? Are you going 
to be a clergyman, too ? " at which the Polliwog twisted 
an unmistakable backward glance of alarm through 
the palings, and cast at the balcony an admonitory 
" Shut up. He'll hear you ! " adding, on reassurance : 
" I'm going to be a sailor." 

" A sailor ! " cried Bella, her interest, temporarily 
arrested, streaming frankly out again, drawn by the 
splendor of the confidence. "O my! A real sailor?" 

"Yes a real sailor. On a man-of-war. I shall 
wear a sword and a pistol." 

" You'll be killing somebody," Bella said, in anticipa- 
tory alarm. 

"I mean to," the Polliwog retorted. "I'm going 
out to shoot black men, like Uncle Harry." 

"That's horrid," Bella exclaimed, her gray eyes 
brought suddenly to a standstill. "They've never done 
you any harm. I hate killing things. It's wicked." 

At the sign of her feminine weakness the Polliwog, 


true to the filibustering type of his kind, began to tram- 
ple victoriously upon her sympathies. With boys, love 
is a matter of mere conquest, not policy. All the ele- 
mental instincts of the race rule them; the sex must 
be subjugated through terror, not affection. 

" I've shot birds, I have with a catapult ! " He 
was parading his gory valor before the startled face that 
overhung the balcony. At all costs Bella must be made 
to see and worship the warrior in him. 

" I've helped to kill pigs, too at Christmas. And I 
shall help again this year I shall. I've watched them 
kill all sorts of things " 

" Don't ! " cried Bella. " I won't listen." And put 
her fingers into her ears, until the open immobility of 
the Polliwog's mouth assured her he was no longer 
speaking, when she cautiously withdrew them again. 

" I call that horrid," she said. " I call it cruel. 
Don't tell me about such things." 

The Polliwog grinned with diabolical triumph. Bella 
saw something of the real character of his smile. To 
be accused of cruelty was distinction for the Polliwog, 
indeed. Blood (except his own) had no terrors for 
him. Now the girl would see him in his formidable 
stern proportions ; not a mere school-boy, flinching at 
the cane, but a noble butcher, inflicting pain without 
compunction, and laughing recklessly over recitals of 
bloodshed as pirates nonchalantly light their pipes with 
firebrands over powder magazines. 

" Once I saw " he continued, and Bella's hands 
went promptly to her head again. 

" I'm not listening," she cried, through the buzz that 
filled her ears, but fixing the Polliwog's lips with a keen 
and fascinating glance. What had he seen? 

Bella was still wondering, watching the Polliwog's 
lips move, and debating whether she might conscien- 


tiously relax the pressure on her ears, when of a sud- 
den the triumph faded from the Polliwog's smile, and 
the smile slipped furtively round the corner of his face 
like a fox vacating a foldyard. He seemed to have no 
further consciousness of Bella, but detached himself 
from the palings and commenced to saunter down the 
Esplanade with as much abstraction as if their con- 
versation had been concluded this hour or more. 

" O my ! " said Bella incredulously, and would have 
added : " What a funny boy ! " when she caught sight 
of the Polliwog's father, wearing somebody else's 
cricket cap, and shabby red carpet slippers, who strolled 
down the asphalt path to the gate with a daughter hang- 
ing onto each arm, and the smallest Polliwog but one 
attempting to fasten himself to the party's rear by 
means of the younger sister's frock, which she resisted, 
knocking away the undesired clasp from time to time 
with emphatic " Don't," " You shan't ! " " I won't let 
you," that Bella plainly heard, and appealing to her 
father : " Papa ! Arthur keeps pulling my frock." 

Despite the cricket cap all awry upon his head, and 
several sizes too small for him, and the carpet slippers 
seemingly several sizes too large, one would have rec- 
ognized the Reverend Alfred Higginson anywhere as 
he intended one should for a substantial middle-aged 
rector of the Established Church. He had the chiseled 
profile, the clear-cut features, the restrained firm lips, 
between kindness and severity, that seemed to have por- 
tentous "H'm's," and " Ha's " and large "Amens" 
tucked up in them, the strong clean-shaven chin, the 
sandy gray side-whiskers, trimmed ecclesiastically close 
like the rectory hedge. Years of living up to a type 
had stamped that type on him as his own. There was 
a priestly ring in his voice and he appeared to take a 
conscious pride in the public management of it, as the 


rider of a fine steed might do, making its tones respond 
'to his control, and causing it to perform occasional 
caracoles of stately inflection for the display of its 
admired contours. But the look in his eyes, though 
lofty, was kind and even genial. 

As he came down the garden path, with his two 
daughters hugging his two arms, and treading on the 
toes of his carpet slippers, he turned a smile of amused 
indulgence from one to the other, carrying on a con- 
versation by the mere use of their own phrases in the 
interrogative, that seemed to magnify his importance 
by a fine air of condescension, as if kind wisdom 
stooped a long way to reach the intelligence of children. 

" And so Blanche took Emmeline's spade, did she ? " 
" What ! You would like to live here, would you ? " 
He was aware of Bella's presence on the balcony, and 
of the steady concentration of her gaze from the first, 
for his voice if not his eye seemed to include her in 
the conversation and the radius of good-will. But he 
did not address any remark to her just then, perhaps 
for no better reason than the diffidence that sometimes 
sits on the shoulders of quite mature and most imposing- 
looking men. Partly he had had the thought to do so, 
but the appropriate words fell late of the psychological 
moment, and he relied on the brief extension of a smile 
that seemed to assume Bella's presence without actually 
acknowledging it. But the two sisters looked up, star- 
ing with undisguised interest at Bella, and then ex- 
changed words and glances behind their father's coat- 
tails, and looked up again and if only they had looked 
up a third time, Bella felt sure they would have smiled. 

They passed, all four, through the gate, which 
caused the sisters to relax hold of their father's arm, 
running after him with eager little steps in turn, to 
reclaim possession, and Bella heard them cry " Roger ! " 


to the Polliwog, and they crossed over the roadway to 
the railings overlooking the Parade, and took hold of 
a rail each, and put their arms through, pointing in 
every direction, and Bella looked whichever way they 
pointed: to the castle, to the trams suspended in mid- 
cliff, to the very ships that Bella had been counting a 
short time before, to the sea, to the sky. Then they 
turned to look at the house they had left, and waved 
their hands to somebody in the lower window their 
mother, no doubt. Bella thought first of all they were 
waving to her, and was only just saved from waving 
in return. And one of the Polliwog's sisters declaimed 
something to the lower window that neither Bella nor 
the invisible occupant could hear; and the invisible 
occupant replied with something that neither Bella nor 
the group could hear. However, they laughed, and 
one of the sisters made a mock trumpet for her ear 
with her hand, and they all shook their heads good- 
humoredly and waved their hands again and moved 
along the Esplanade, pinning the rector against the 
railings at every step, and pulling his sleeves for atten- 
tion, or skipping in front of him the better to engage 
his countenance, and walking backward with both hands 
on his waistcoat to stay his progress. The Polliwog 
never once turned his head in Bella's direction. 

Bella watched them till they had gone beyond the 
range of interest. Then she straightened herself to an 
attitude of relaxed attention, her hands still laid lightly 
on the balcony, as though she were putting it away 
from her. 

" I wonder," she ruminated, " what it must be like 
to have a father ! " a reflection that, had he but known 
of it, should have caused the Reverend Alfred Higgin- 
son to be on his best paternal behavior. 


AFTER that, since the clock in the Poet's room 
showed half past eight and there was still no 
sign of him, Bella must needs leave the balcony and run 
back to breakfast. She and Leonie sat down in the 
little red room together. Each said her own grace. Bella 
put her face into her hands and said : " For what we 
are about to receive." Leonie lowered her eyes as if 
some impropriety had shocked them, and screwed her 
mouth into a button, and made the prim sign of the 
Cross with a plump finger point over her forehead, 
breast and shoulders. Then each fell to the business of 
the board. Bella's breakfast began with a plate of 
smoking porridge, enriched with cream and sweetened 
with sugar, or golden syrup. Bella loved the latter, and 
much experience of its intricacies had taught her to 
handle the succulent fluid with all the skill of a vir- 
tuosa, spinning the spoon dexterously between her 
fingers to break without disaster the filament of gold 
that linked her helping to the pot, very often making, 
for her delectation and Leonie's scorn, most wondrous 
preliminary lace-work patterns on the porridge by 
means of the golden trickle from her uplifted spoon 
spheres and ellipses and geometrical devices, and some- 
times flowers, and even castles, that her kindled and 
creative eye must watch to the last obliterative dissolu- 
tion on the steaming plate before her reluctant hand 
could consent to destroy. 

Meals between Bella and Leonie were quite in- 
formal. It was permissible to prop elbows on the table, 



to sit with both legs tucked under one's frock, to run 
to the window, spoon in hand, to sigh with discern- 
ment of the vanity of all things when the porridge was 
at an end, to shake one's head in lieu of " No, thank 
you," if one's mouth were otherwise engaged, to sing 
at table, to quit the cloth without formality. 

It made a quaint appeal to the sympathies, the sight 
of these two, sitting down seriously to a meal, like char- 
acters in some nursery tale. Both had their attitudes, 
keynotes to one's knowledge and remembrance of them. 
Leonie, a buxom native of Haute-Saone, stolid on her 
chair at meal-times, a sturdy and methodical eater, 
whom the process of mastication inclined except occa- 
sionally to a ruminant habit rather than discourse. 
Bella, like some little princess in a picture book, the sole 
of one shoe showing on the chair beneath her frock; 
her other foot curled round the chair-spindle, or swing- 
swing-swinging like the pendulum of a clock to the 
inward humming of a dirge, her head in the hollow of 
her hand, poised dreamily on an elbow that slanted out 
from her, her eyes full to the brim with thought. In 
such wise the spoon plied between the porridge-plate 
and Bella's lips until at last the pattern on the plate 
was plain to see. 

Sometimes, Leonie being in a responsive humor, the 
meal was made memorable with a game, the souvenir 
of whose sweetness the future years might consecrate 
to a soft and touching sorrow. Bella possessed every 
kind of game, in every kind of box, that her mother 
or one or other of her uncles had bought for her; 
games that had all in turn been up to bed with Bella 
and heard, frorri some adjacent place, the beating of 
her heart, and felt the warm rapture of her fingers in 
the morning when she woke to their remembrance; 
games so varied and so complicated that Bella never 


really knew their rules, although she spelled these over 
with the most laborious and conscientious care. " But 
no ! " she cried. " Don't let's have rules. They spoil 
things. They're so hard and horrid. Let's make it up 
as we go on. That's better, Leonie. And you shall 
begin first, if you like." 

So the most elaborate games were evolved out of 
Bella's fancy; flexible pastimes whose course followed 
first this channel and then that, as the current of the 
play suggested, rules cropping up by inspiration to fit 
circumstances like the necessary rhyme to complete a 
verse, or being dissolved the moment their enforcement 
seemed a tyranny. Sometimes Bella would hold up 
her porridge spoon for signal of attention, and then 
thrum upon the table with the fingers of the other hand. 

" Qu'est-ce que c'est que ga? " she would ask 
Leonie, who, according to the state of her temper, 
might retort with scorn in the French that was the chief 
medium of intercourse on these occasions : " But whalj 
do you suppose that it is? It is yourself, of course." 

"Yes. Of course, it's myself. But what am I 
doing, Leonie ? " 

" Doing ! Mon Dieu, you are giving me a headache.. 
Look you. The table is not a door that one raps so. 
Be tranquil and reasonable and do not hit me in the 
face with your wet spoon." 

"But it is a tune, Leonie! Don't you hear it? 
Listen! Turn, turn, ti turn." 

"A tune! God forbid. A table has no tunes." 

" No, no. It's not a real tune, Leonie, but it goes 
to a tune. Like this. La, lal-la, la, lal-lal-lal, la ! Don't 
you see? Now guess what tune it is. Tiens! Encore 
une fois plus lentement don't stir your tea just yet, 
Leonie. Make attention. Turn, turn, turn, tiddle turn, 
turn, turn." 


Sometimes Leonie, not to be propitiated, would cry 
contempt of Bella's tunes. "Ah! your frightful Eng- 
lish melodies. They are all the same. One is just like 
the other. In France who would listen to such a tune? 
Be still and let me eat." 

At other more indulgent moments, the stolid maid 
would be cajoled to lend an ear, entering into the spirit 
of the pastime, and trying to fit the drummed rhythm 
to some tune or other. Now and again she succeeded, 
and success so brightened her interest that she was not 
disinclined to protract this phase of diversion, herself 
playing the "Marseillaise " and "Malbrouck," putting 
back her plate to do so, and strange folksongs from her 
native country that Bella, O my ! had never heard 

There was much of the diplomat about Bella, the 
philosophe sans le savoir. She would not have known 
it by that name, perhaps, like le bourgeois gentil- 
homme, who had been speaking prose all his life with- 
out being aware of the fact. Bella would let Leonie 
win a game now and then, as prudence dictated, or 
strum a melody that Leonie had learned to recognize 
as some propitiatory offering to the fickle divinity that 
reigned over Leonie's moods, or cause Leonie to repeat 
her strumming of some tune immediately suspected, to 
defer the victory of solution and keep the fires of 
Leonie's enthusiasm bright. 

Letters came to Leonie at long intervals from her 
own country, emaciated missives in the frailest of en- 
velopes, inscribed in thin consumptive copper-plate, 
with arabesques like the legs of a spider, that evoked 
strange noises from the recipient as she read : " Brrr! " 
and "Pfttt!" and "T !" and "Tiens!" and "La, la!" 
and "Hein!" 

Bella loved these letters. As the cat begins to purr 


at the smell of its master's meat, Bella's sympathies 
commenced immediately to kindle at the prospect of 
being partaker, however humbly, of another's gladness. 
Her steadfast eyes attached their absorptive gaze to 
Leonie's as the latter slowly traversed the written lines 
laid down for them, backward and forward, sheer to 
the precipitous edge of the page, the eyelids sinking 
imperceptibly lower at each return till at last their 
lashes lay upon her cheek. Then wide open again, a 
sheer leap of the glance upward to the summit of the 
next page. Bella's face reflected every emotion that 
Leonie's showed. When Leonie's lips relaxed, Bella's 
lips relaxed. The birth of amusement, twinkling in 
Leonie's eyes caused a tiny star to dawn and brighten 
in Bella's. When Leonie laughed, Bella laughed with 
such entire sympathy that it was incredible to believe 
that she knew nothing of the material element of the 
thing laughed at, and was but a participant in its 
spiritual and symbolic qualities. 

Or perhaps it was not a letter. Perhaps it was a 
copy of Le Petit Journal or some provincial paper that 
Leonie unfolded, limp as a nightgown, reading it with 
her arms extended to the full width of it, as if in 

Papers or letters, however, there were real people 
living and breathing at the other end of them at some 
unimaginable spot over the seas. They were a source 
of much speculation to Bella, of keen interest, of 
assiduous inquiry. Strangers in a strange land are ever 
willing to talk of home, bringing closer with words the 
scenes and faces that they love. In the warm atmos- 
phere of Bella's sympathies, Leonie's lips loosened at 
times, her confidence unfolded. She showed Bella her 
beloved country through a fluid pride that made our 
England puny; spilled her tears in talks of friends and 


home. Ten years ago little Marie died of pneumonia; 
here to-day at table Bella mourns for her. Longer ago 
than that, Leonie had fallen asleep in church, and 
wakened all the other sleepers by bumping her head 
upon the floor. Here to-day Bella laughs and says: 
" O my ! " sees the scene as if it were a picture ; won- 
ders this and wonders that. And through a little Eng- 
lish girl's interest Leonie sees more clearly, too, things 
that happened years ago in France. 

Leonie reads her letters to herself with the as- 
sistance of her lips, and Bella's lips imitate their move- 
ment by sympathy. At times such surprising things 
happen that even were not Bella intimately acquainted 
with all these people and places already, Leonie would 
be bound to discharge some of her own astonishment in 

"Oh! La, la, la, la! Brrr! Pftt! Hein!" ex- 
plodes Leonie, with a wonderful rapidity of accent and 
inflection, like a pyrotechnic display. " So and so, and 
so and so, and so and so, and such ! " 

" Never ! " cries Bella, making the wonder seem 
more wondrous still by a first rejection of it. 

" Mais si! My father tells me that but hold ! Re- 
gard. Read for yourself." 

" May I ? " asks Bella eagerly, her fingers closing 
in a proprietory clasp of the proffered letter. " O my ! 
Yes. I'd love to. How much shall I read? Every bit 
of it?" 

"Mais non! Where the blot is, it is private. My 
father writes that for me alone. Read from ' tu te rap- 
pelle, ma fille ' jusqu'a down to here, where my 
thumb is no lower." 

And Bella reads the selected passages diligently 
aloud, percolating them with suitable expressions of 
surprise and astonishment; stopping honorably at the 


thumb, and assuring its owner : " I haven't read a single 
other word, Leonie. Quick. Take it back whilst I'm 
not looking." 

At which, perhaps, Leonie's magnanimity is touched. 
She reclaims the letter, scans again the prohibited por- 
tions, wavers, relaxes, says : " But why not ? It con- 
tains nothing that I am ashamed of. See take again. 
You may read this, also, if you wish." 

" Does your father," asked Bella at an early stage 
of these intimacies, " know anything about me, 

"About you? My father? Petite morveuse what 
should my father know about you?" 

" Oh, I don't know what about me, Leonie. Noth- 
ing much. O my! nothing at all, really. Of course, 
he doesn't. But does he know the least teeny bit about 
me? My name, and how old I shall be next birthday, 
and that you let me read his letters, bits of them, 
sometimes ? " 

"Mon Dieu! Je le crois bien!" said Leonie mean- 
ingly. " He knows all about you." 

That pleased Bella very much. 

" The next time you write to him, Leonie," she said, 
" give him my love, and tell him I hope he's very well. 
And I hope your mother is very well, too. Perhaps 
your father will wish to send some message to me when 
he writes again." 


THERE is a wonderful Carl, who "spik fav lan- 
guage " in an hotel somewhere in the northern 
counties. This Napoleon of the Napkin was drawn 
piecemeal by Bella over Leonie's lips, and to get him 
landed at all was like playing a trout. Carl occurred for 
the first time in a letter. When Bella asked who Carl 
was, Leonie screwed her mouth to demand : " Who 
should he be? Can there not be people in the world 
but one must ask questions concerning them? Is there 
to be no longer any privacy? Carl is Carl. That is 
who Carl is. It is enough." But then her momentary 
spleen subsided, and she gave way to laughter, saying: 
"La la!" and " Mon Dieu!" and, of course, " Brrr!" 
and "Pftt!" and "Hein!" so that Bella cried: "You're 
going to tell me. I know you are. O my ! " repeating 
the name " Carl " triumphantly, to whet her own ap- 
petite for news of him, which caused Leonie's temper 
to veer once more like a weather-vane in the direction 
of wrath. " Who are you that I should talk to of Carl ? 
Can one have no friends to oneself? Be contented 
with your dolls. He is my affair, not yours." 

But Bella's instant meekness left anger without a 
wind to stir it. Leonie softened again to a state of 
confidence, through cunning modulations of wrath, ap- 
pearing to rebuke Bella for a persuasion which Bella 
did not exercise, and succumbing at last to imaginary 

"Why should I speak of Carl! Mon Dieu! You 
are as inquisitive as the douane. You would know 



everything. You have a tongue as long as a nun's 
rosary. It clacks all day. But do not think I fear to 
say who Carl is. Pas d 'occasion. I care not who knows 
it. Carl " and she displayed a guarded portion of him, 
to excite Bella's curiosity. 

" Carl ! " ruminates Bella. " C'est done un alle- 
mandf " 

" Allemandf " cries Leonie in expostulatory horror. 
"A Dieu ne plaise. German, indeed! Oh, I believe it 
well you say it to enrage me. Carl is all there is of 
the most Swiss." 

Whereupon Bella got the further instalment of his 
" magnifiques " black eyes, and his superb moustache 
that he sweeps upward and to either side, with the back 
of his forefinger, and his dress coat, and the left-hand 
shirt cuff on which he jots names and makes calcula- 
tions with a pencil. And later still the arms and legs 
and height and breadth and bulk of him a big, fine 
fellow weighing nearly thirteen stone. 

It is understood between the three of them that some 
day, when Carl has saved sufficient money, and shall 
speak eight languages 

" O my ! " cries Bella. " Eight? Leonie ! " 

" He spik fav olreddi," says Leonie proudly, herself 
drawn into English by the splendor of the achievement. 
" Von, tw6, sree, foar, fav." And she ticks the numerals 
triumphantly against her stubby finger. 

" He must be frightfully clever ! " says Bella. 
" Wherever does he put them all to ? What languages 
are they, Leonie?" 

" Zey are : En-gleesh. Zen he spik frangais. Fran- 
gais how you say ? " 

" French." 

" Ee-yais Frainsh. And allemand allemand ? " 

" German." 


"Ee-yais Chairman. Engleesh, Frainsh, Chair- 

"Three," prompts Bella. 

" He spik fav language En-gleesh, Frainsh, Chair- . 
man . . ." 

" Russian ? " asks Bella. 

"Polish?" asks Bella. 

"Scotch?" asks Bella. 

Leonie cannot for the life of her get beyond these 
three except on her fingers, where she ticks the 
numerals conclusively from thumb to little finger. To 
the very end Carl " spik fav language : En-gleesh, 
Frainsh, Chairman " with the final two mislaid. It is 
quite possible, of course, that Carl speaks bad language, 
which would make four, or Double Dutch, which would 
count for two, but Leonie does not suggest as much. 
Perhaps it has not occurred to her. 

It is understood between these three that some day 
or other Carl and Leonie will preside over an hotel of 
their own perhaps in Switzerland when Carl will 
know the highest price for everything in eight lan- 
guages, and be in a position to present bills the length 
of surgical bandages, and rub his proprietorial palms to- 
gether in the vestibule and bid all sorts of nationalities 
welcome and good-by. And Leonie can assist the ladies. 

" I spik Frainsh," says Leonie, laying her fleshy 
forefinger across her left-hand upturned thumb, and 
looks inquiringly at Bella. 

"And English, Leonie," Bella promptly adds, mak- 
ing Leonie a splendid gift of this difficult language. 

" En-gleesh," Leonie proceeds, accepting this con- 
cession with alacrity. " Do I spik it good ? " 

"You speak it very good indeed, Leonie. O my! 
ever so good." 

" I spik Frainsh, En-gleesh, and a little Chairman 


mais trcs pen tres peu. Ah, mon Dieu! What lan- 
guage this Chairman ! Somsing hor-rrrrreeble ! " 

" Say something in German," cries Bella. " Oh, do, 
Leonie! I would love it." 

" Yaw ! " exclaims Leonie, in a deep abdominal 
voice, with her chin drawn back to her breast-bone. 
"Ish wise nisht. Das is resht. Man spresht Doitsh." 

" That's horrid," decides Bella. " It's just like sneez- 
ing. Oh, say it again, Leonie. Louder this time, and 
more of it." 

" Yaw," repeats Leonie. " Ish wise nisht. . . ." 

" It is a fearful language," says Bella. 

" It is a language for horses," Leonie declares in 
voluble, vindictive French. '' To your friend speak 
French to your love, Italian to the birds, English 
to horses, German." 

" I will come and see you, Leonie," says Bella, 
" when you get your hotel. You will ask me, won't 

" But not in the season," Leonie warns her, speak- 
ing still in French, as the correctness of her English 
notifies. " Brrr ! No, indeed ! How busy we shall 
be. All the beds and tables let." 

" I could sleep with you, if you like," suggests Bella. 
" O my ! That would make less trouble, wouldn't it ? " 

"Mais non!" blurts Leonie on a sudden. " C'est 
impossible. Ah! mon Dieu!" and her face relaxes. 

" You wouldn't mind me ? " Bella asks surprised. 
" Would you, Leonie ? " 

Leonie's face is scarlet, she is laughing very much 

" What are you laughing at, Leonie ? " 

But Leonie will not divulge. Perhaps there is very 
little to laugh at after all. 

" How will September suit you ? " questions Bella. 
" Will that be late enough? Say yes ! " 


Leonie's lips are screwed in consideration. Ca 
depend. Her mouth becomes normal over a long- 
drawn "hein" Perhaps but it must be the end of 
September. Then Bella shall have a room to herself. 
"Ah, mon Dieu!" Leonie is laughing again. 

" Will it be a nice room, Leonie ? The nicest you've 
got with two windows? Oh, please overlooking the 

Leonie sobers and puckers her lips again. Perhaps 
there will be some English milords paying her hand- 
somely for the best accommodation she has to offer. 
It may be impossible to find a bed for Bella after all. 
But imaginative generosity triumphs over her French 
prudence. Here, in the realm of fancy, where hotels 
are to be had for the mere trouble of thinking them; 
and hospitality costs no more than caution, what is the 
use of withholding the nicest room from Bella on any 
hypothesis? Ma foi, yes. Bella shall have the very 
best room in the hotel, with the big chandelier in the 
middle of the ceiling, that jingles tunes when people 
walk across the floor above; and the state bed, with tall 
curtains that slide all around on wooden rings, and 
swallow the girl with a rattle as if a crocodile had 
snapped her. Besides, it is really Bella who is the 
architect and builder of this hotel Bella who well and 
truly laid those first firm foundation stones of fancy on 
which the glorious imaginative edifice is reared, Bella 
who is hastening on the plans for the nuptials of Leonie 
and Carl, and presenting them with this palatial Swiss 
hotel, Bella who has provided the lake, and the high 
mountains capped with snow, and all the waiters and 
chambermaids and decorated porters, and guests of rank 
and riches that are to fill its salons and animate its 

It was not a long breakfast that kept them to the 


table this morning, for Bella's ears were perpetually 
mocked with phantom peals, that caused her to impose 
silence with an imperious spoon, crying : " Hark ! Is 
that the bells? Listen, Leonie! O my! it can't be yet. 
Of course not ! How silly ! " and Leonie occupied one 
of her remote and inaccessible moods, sitting aloof in 
spirit, and armed of speech, as if defending a gloomy 
watch-tower; repelling Bella's sallies of conversation 
with the sword. "Be still. Who can eat? Mon Dieu, 
but it is impossible. Since daybreak nothing but chat- 
ter. One might as well live with the birds." 


THIS time the Poet was there. Bella could smell 
the uplifted odor of crisped bacon, and the milder 
fragrance of coffee that met her on the staircase and 
called her upward, like a voice of welcome. She swung 
the upper part of her into the room through a foot- 
width of open door, holding the knob with one hand 
and knocking on the outer panels with the knuckles of 
the other (for Bella even in a hurry was always polite) ; 
the keen straight glance of expectancy ran out like a 
lance to the Poet in his chair; recognitions followed; 
then a rapt "O my!" of rejoicing; then all of Bella, 
bringing laughter and added sunlight into the room. 

And then though the pen falters here with a doubt 
of the proprieties the sound of Bella's breakfast kiss, 
bestowed round-mouthed and resonant upon the Poet's 
cheek. Yet after all, as Bella said : " What harm is 
there in kisses? O my! Not a bit, really, when you 
come to think of it." Bella kissed her mother, and she 
kissed Leonie, and she kissed Mrs. Herring, and she 
had kissed Uncle Peter, and Uncle Dody, bestowing on 
each one the same big round noisy token though ten- 
derer, in her mother's case, and warmer, and deeper 
pressed, and more protracted, and more plenteous. And 
what (Bella argued) were kisses, rightly considered, but 
lips shaking hands? Kisses, O my! were funny things 
in themselves, when philosophers of Bella's erudition 
came to investigate them: just the putting your lips 
together like this, and the pressing them, like that, and 
the exploding them suddenly apart like bursting a paper 



bag. Whoever invented kisses? Was it and Bella's 
voice made its tonal genuflection before the altar of a 
divine topic God? She thought it must have been. 
He had invented nearly everything, hadn't he? 

But then, shaking hands was every bit as funny, too, 
when one thought of it, and nobody for a moment 
doubted any harm in that. The point, debated earnestly 
between Bella and herself, had been referred with 
great solemnity of countenance and penetration of eye 
to the Poet in his chair. How was she to greet him 
in the morning, and how take leave of him at night? 
With a joyous demeanor in the first case, answered the 
Lord of Appeal; and a suitable resignation in the sec- 
ond. But what Bella really meant to ask him, was 
this: Were they to shake hands? In reply to which 
the Poet said: Most certainly, if she wished it, and her 
hands were clean. But that, too, was not quite what 
Bella intended. And she was about to formulate her 
question in another fashion when her gaze penetrated 
to the twinkle in the Poet's eye, whereat she cast all 
further conscientious appeal to the winds, and flung 
both arms around his neck and said : " You know very 
well what I mean. I mean that!" placing the signifi- 
cance of her demonstrative pronoun beyond all doubt. 

So the matter was settled, and admitted of no fur- 
ther argument, for as Bella herself said : " Whatever 
was the good of calling each other Roo and Bella just 
to shake hands ? " And after all, to revert to her 
earlier contention, where was the harm in it? Bella's 
lips were as cool as a blade of grass at daybreak; as 
fresh and passionless as the dawn; the very exuberance 
of her embraces made them proper, for the qualified 
caress is already half on its way to become deceptive 
and promiscuous. Bella bestowed kisses as she said her 
prayers or took her porridge ; that is to say, with gusto. 


To be ashamed of any one of these might have led 
her to conceive shame of all three, and so lost the 
Almighty a very warm and candid little worshiper; for 
he best loves God who loves his fellow-men, and once 
the conscientious pruning knife is laid to the branches 
of affection there is little knowing where its work may 

To trim the growing tree of youth is an operation 
calling for the nicest skill and certainty of hand, the 
true knowledge of what buds to sacrifice, and which 
preserve, the time to lay the blade, so there be no 
bleeding of young sap, nor waste of tender tissue. Good 
gardeners of youth are few and far between, and Mrs. 
Dysart would have been the last to claim herself one 
of them. Often, when Bella exclaimed : " O, what a 
big sigh that was, mamma ! Whoever is it for ? " the 
girl little guessed it was for her, or that her mother's 
answer put truth beneath an allegory as deep as Scrip- 
ture. When Mrs. Dysart said on one occasion : " Be- 
cause you are very nearly a year older, Bella, and each 
year of yours makes nearly two of mine," Bella cried: 
" O my ! " and puzzlingly wondered how that could 
be, asking ultimately : " Is it another of the things I 
shall understand when I'm grown up ? " 

For Mrs. Dysart cannot have been blind to Bella's 
dangers; to these beautiful green runners that grew 
wild out of her daughter's disposition like fragrant 
brier, threatening Bella's heart with their own sharp 
thorns. Some day always approaching, but ever in 
mind held remote Bella must be shorn like the spring 
lamb to the bleak winds of the world, all that present 
fleece of warm sincerities clipped from her, her re- 
dundant affections trimmed and hid from sight like 
her legs and hair, a new Bella, with new eyes, issued 
fresh and wondering from her old self, that takes life's 


hard and beaten track, seeking dumbly from side to side 
"of her after the lost pasture and the early fold. 

But that dread day, so apprehended, is not yet. The 
world is Bella's own, of the substance and tissue of 
her own fancy, as soft as her dreams. She bends its 
iron laws like wax; for her they are no more than 
the disregarded rules of the games she plays. And 
let it be so, Mrs. Dysart thinks, till knowledge growing 
up instinctively within her darkens, in its own time, the 
sunlit doorway of youth. 

So this morning, thanks be to Providence, she is 
herself untrammeled Bella without ceremony, the 
daughter of impulse and affection. She runs to the 
Poet's chair and flings her arms about his neck, and 
plants two fresh kisses on his cheek, big enough to raise 

" O my ! How lovely you smell. Is it the tooth- 
powder ? " Mamma, it seems, has a most beautiful col- 
lection of dentifrices; pastes in tubes, and powders in 
pots, and every species of liquid in bottles. Dento and 
Enameline and Ivorisco and Snow Mint Bella loves 
that; it tastes just like those beautiful creams you buy 
and ever so many more that Bella cannot remember by 
name, though she is familiar with their taste and smell. 
For, of course, Mamma has the most lovely teeth the 
Poet ever looked at. O my ! He will see them to-day. 
As white as china to the very back and beyond of all 
and every one her own. No Bella must beg his 
pardon. There is just one at the far side of all, that 
is part of it gold. Isn't that funny? Bella loves that 
one. It was ill owing to a piece of stone in a New, 
Year's pudding. The Poet must take notice when 
mamma laughs; it shines beautifully then, and Bella 
thinks it makes mamma look prettier, especially when 
she crinkles her nose. 

100 BELLA 

All this is whilst Bella stands by the Poet's chair 
with her arm still lightly laid upon his shoulder. She 
has to withdraw, of course, to display the frock and 
the gossamer stockings that look, the Poet tells her, less 
like stockings than as if somebody had been taking 
writing lessons on her legs; and for the shoe-buckles 
to be held up to inspection, so that he may see the hall- 
mark in the silver, and pull a face at his grotesque 
reflections in the burnished metal. After which, when 
all the girl's adornment has been sufficiently admired, 
and a strand of her hair (that was shampooed last 
night) has been proffered to the Poet's fingers, that 
he may note its renovated softness, Bella draws once 
more to his side, scans his profile for a space as if it 
were the horizon of a new land of promise, and of a 
sudden puts her lips to his ear and breathes into it a 
hasty, warm, and quite unexpected petition. 

It causes the Poet to let fall his knife and fork, 
exclaiming : " Good gracious, Bella ! How you did 
startle me." Bella is not deterred by his surprise, but 
tightens her hold upon him, and whispers in her most 
persuasive voice : " Do ! " and on the heels of that : 
"You might!" and "Will you?" and then: "Please," 
and his own name : " Roo," so beseechingly pronounced 
as to summarize all that can possibly be implied by the 
word persuasion; and then for she has had mean- 
while the fortitude to draw back her face to look at 
him attaches her lips once more to his ear and fills 
it with a sibilant mixture of warm breath and words, 
the latter seemingly all compounded of capital S's, that 
overflow their intended receptacle and tickle the Poet's 
neck, till he must needs screw it into his collar, and 
would be quite unintelligible if some subtler sense than 
hearing did not interpret what Bella's petition is meant 
to be. 

BELLA 101 

The Poet says reproachfully: "This is so sudden, 
Bella. You take me quite by surprise. I must think 
about it," and would fortify himself with coffee, but 
that Bella lays hold of his hand and imprisons it, cry- 
ing : " No, don't think about it. And don't go on with 
your breakfast. Say first of all you will! Do and 
afterward you are to come and see mamma." 

The soul of the Poet has been aspiring to higher 
things than church this morning, but the look of sup- 
plication in Bella's gray eyes, and the grip of capture 
in her hand, tell him he is doomed. For there is a 
quality of sweetness in her importunities that he knows 
himself unable to resist. Such humility and winsome 
confidence go to their making, and Bella's demands 
issue always with the sanction of her beauty (like 
soldiers blessed by the Pope) that to oppose them hints 
heresy, or worse. It is as hard, the Poet feels, to deny 
Bella anything as to break step with a military band, 
whose very rhythm undermines the will, and takes hold 
of reason through the pulses of the blood. And Bella 
knows, or seems to know, her power over him. Not 
one of all her uncles, despite their obliging and promis- 
sory smiles, was quite so much her own as Rupert. 
Their laughter always reached her from a long way 
off, like the light whose source is a star she was 
familiar with its beams, the substance baffled her. But 
Rupert's laughter, for all it fell upon her from the 
tremendous height of two and twenty years, and was 
tempered by wisdom infinitely above her head, had a 
quality very like and friendly with her own. Here was 
a true uncle at last. Or no; not so much an uncle a 
cousin; or better still, a big elder brother how Bella 
wished he were, her very own! whom she might love 
and tease and trouble and be publicly proud of and 
worship with all the reverence of her heart for a great 

102 BELLA 

dictionary or superb encyclopedia on a shelf, filled 
with knowledge, and beautifully bound, and very fas- 
cinating and noble to the eye. She swung her face in 
front of his, as if to waylay and subdue the Poet's 
look, and caught the tail-end of an escaping smile. That 
made her sure of him. Her gaze of supplication bright- 
ened to joy in a moment. She let go his hand as a 
prisoner unworthy of retention, and captured the Poet's 
coat lapels instead. 

" You're going with me. I know you are. I knew 
you would. I can tell it by your eye. Oh, thank you. 
Thank you. THANK you." 

And then, emboldened by success, she drew his 
head toward her once again and poured into the Poet's 
ear that other petition, formulated overnight, and cher- 
ished since daybreak the silk hat. 

The silk hat? This time the Poet's surprise though 
all of laughter and amusement, was quite sincere. 
Whatever did Bella know about his silk hat? 

Oh, Bella knew everything about it. Bella had made 
acquaintance with his hat-box in the hall, on the very 
first morning of its arrival, and had watched it pass 
up the staircase after the big trunk. And Bella knew 
it was a hat-box, for she had described it to mamma, 
and mamma recognized it at once, and told her it would 
probably be lined with crimson silk inside, because gen- 
tlemen liked rich colors, and would hold six assorted 
hats, and two hat-brushes. And besides, Bella knew 
it was lined with crimson, and there were two hat- 
brushes, and there were six hats, and one of them was 
a silk hat, because a friend of hers had seen them one 
day when the Poet left his hat-box open. Which made 
the Poet delight Bella with the sudden exclamation: 
" Bella ! Is there anything in the world you don't 
know about me?" 

BELLA 103 

" O my ! I do know a lot, don't I ? " Bella acknowl- 
edged, her eyes dancing with the exuberance of power. 
But when she told the Poet all her aspirations touch- 
ing the hat, and how it was to be the very first silk hat 
that had ever taken her to church, what could sentiment 
do but yield? Moreover, the sacrifice was somewhat 
less, perhaps, than now it sounds. It was not such a 
social solecism to wear the silk hat on Sunday by the 
sea in those days. There had even been attempts to 
introduce the silk hat on the Parade during the formal 
hours of the morning, and though these failed like 
many other valiant efforts before and after it was 
not so much because of a lack of support in high quar- 
ters, as because the dynasty of the silk hat was already 
tottering on its throne, although nobody at that time 
suspected it, or felt the approach of the revolution 
which was to convert its empire into a republic, and 
bring Panamas and tweed caps into the heart of Pic- 
cadilly. In the days of which we write and for all 
their antiquity they are not so very far remote, since 
a whole decade of the ancients means no more in strict 
value of time than a modern year, where the cut of a 
dress-coat alters vitally as many times as six in one 
season in those days even gentlemen wore silk hats 
on Sunday, like cabmen and commercial travelers dur- 
ing the week. 

So, as the silk hat then was as appropriate to Sunday 
as the Harris tweed and golf stick now, and it was as 
correct to go to church in those days as it is in these 
to stay away, the Poet could laugh with indulgence at 
Bella's vanity, and say in her mother's own words: 
" What a funny girl you are, Bella ! " which, of course, 
was polite periphrasis for " I will." Perhaps, too, his 
laughter was reinforced by the invasion of a more 
volatile quality that suddenly poured into it, but Bella 

104 BELLA 

was too much engrossed with gratitude to notice that 
Besides, almost at that very moment the bells stole in 
at the Poet's windows, one after another an octave of 
them like veritable human beings, filling the room with 
their vibrating bodies, and converting Bella's grateful- 
ness into startled urgency and apprehension. Quick! 
O my ! Those were the bells at last ; weren't they beau- 
tiful ! Bella knew they could not be far away ; she had 
been expecting them all the morning. The Poet must 
eat up his breakfast without delay, for no time was to 
be lost. And meanwhile Bella would run home and 
put on her hat and gloves, and fetch her sunshade and 


WHEN Bella returned, which she did with magic 
haste, prettily flushed; her lips apart for accel- 
erated breathing, and her eyes bright with eagerness 
and activity, the Poet was already awaiting her by the 
window. She panted into the room with an outburst 
of commendatory radiance : " O my ! You have been 
quick ! " and then of a sudden the light in her eyes 
died curiously down, as if the material of its flame 
had been but insubstantial stuff. After all 

After all were silk hats and Sunday clothes such 
eminently desirable things? Could it be, for example, 
that they varied very much in their capacity to bestow? 
Were silk hats and frock coats as capricious in their 
effect upon men, as fabrics and colors upon women 
with as much power to damage as enhance? 

The Poet looked or was it the window-light be- 
hind that aged him? years older. To Bella it seemed 
he might have been his own father, pertaining to a 
world and age she did not know. Except for the 
familiar smile which greeted her, and the familiar voice, 
here might have stood some individual with whom Bella 
had no acquaintance. Between the hat of Bella's fan- 
cies and this hat of hard fact was a woful discrepancy. 
Its brim when the Poet donned it in indication of 
readiness its brim was flush with his eyebrows. But 
for his ears, which it caused to protrude like brackets, 
Bella felt there was nothing to restrain it from slipping 
altogether over his head to the nape of his neck, after 
8 105 

106 BELLA 

the fashion of a candle-extinguisher. And then the 
size! And the height! And the solidity! It might 
have been carved out of solid wood. And the coppery 
brown color of it! Despite all her principles of polite- 
ness Bella's eyes grew big, coming to the surface of a 
transparent curiosity like fishes to the glass side of a 
tank, fascinated by what they saw. And perhaps their 
gaze was rendered more audacious by the Poet's dis- 
regard of it, for he seemed in the happiest manner 
unaware of Bella's attention, and hummed lightly 
through his lips with the utmost geniality and good 
spirits, as he drew on a creased and Sabbath-looking 
black kid glove, devoid of a button, and suspiciously 
attenuated about the finger-ends, remarking how favored 
they were by the weather. 

" O my, yes ! " assented Bella's lips, but her eyes 
took no part in the remark, fascinated by the heavy hat 
and the flaccid glove. 

" Indeed," said the Poet, drawing on the second 
glove, " without exaggeration one might almost describe 
it as a lovely day. I really cannot remember at the mo- 
ment a day at this particular time of year that 
promised better." 

" O my, yes ! " responded Bella's lips once more. 

" Well, then," exclaimed the Poet, beating the 
palms of his withered gloves together with a fine air of 
conclusion, " let's go and take part in it, shall we ? 
There's nothing more to wait for. I'm ready if you are, 
Bella. Aren't the bells ringing? " 

" O my, aren't they ? " said Bella, in a very oblique 
and thin and unconvincing voice, motionless at the cor- 
ner of the breakfast table, her two hands linked to- 
gether by the red morocco prayer-book on the table- 

" Yes I'm ready." And after a pause : " I think, 

BELLA 107 

perhaps I wouldn't wear the gloves, Roo, if I were you. 

It's not a bit cold. I think I'd carry them in my hand, 

with the fingers doubled. And isn't that a hole? O 

my, it is ! The button's come off, too. Did you know ? " 

The Poet exclaimed : " Button ? " in a tone of vague- 
ness, and looked at the glove with surprising leniency. 
It astonished Bella to see how little his eye was troubled 
by its patent deficiencies. If the absent button had 
been merely a crumb he could not have dismissed it 
more lightly. 

" O, that's nothing," he said with large indifference. 
" There was only one button to start with. And buttons 
are not being quite so much worn this season. Besides, 
they stop the circulation. Come along, Bella." 

" Yes," said Bella, still motionless, but making be- 
lieve to put her own gloves in order for departure, with 
a touch to this finger and a touch to that. " I'm 

The Poet adjusted his hat by the mirror, and pulled 
the coat into position over his shoulders. It was indeed 
had Bella known enough of classics or antiquities to 
make the distinction more like the toga virilis than a 
coat, swathing his bust with folds, but the Poet seemed 
oblivious of any external change in himself, and was as 
gay as always, if not more so, crying : " Come along 
then, Bella. Let's join the throng." He made a step 
toward the door, and the hat responded with a lurch, 
subsiding in heavy torpor over his left ear. 

" It's going to be hot," Bella said, leaving the table 
corner with reluctance, still adjusting her gloves. " O 
my! It's going to be frightfully hot." 

" Perhaps you'd rather go for a walk ? " the Poet 
suggested, showing the most friendly disposition to 
oblige. " Just as you like, Bella. You have only to say 
so. I'm at your service." 

108 BELLA 

"O no, I wouldn't," Bella replied hurriedly. "I'd 
rather go to church. But but do you really care so 
very much about wearing a silk hat this morning? I 
don't mind a bit. O my! nobody minds. Wear just 
whatever you like, Roo. What does it matter ? " 

The Poet lifted off the heavy headgear and brought 
it down beneath his observation. 

" Wear any hat I like ! When I've promised to wear 
this hat for your sake! And because you asked me! 
What do you take me for, Bella? Do you think I 
break my promises as easily as that. No. Never ! " 
And the hat went decisively back upon his head, sink- 
ing down to his ears, and doubling them over and ob- 
literating them, with a sound of air compressed and 

" Break your promise ? " Bella said, aghast at the 
mere suggestion. " O my ! Indeed, you wouldn't. 
Never. But silk hats silk hats are such big things, 
aren't they? O my! Ever so much bigger than I'd 
thought and heavy. Don't they make your head ache? 
They would mine. Is it a winter hat?" 

" A winter hat ! " The Poet brought it off again, by 
an uplifting suctional process involving the use of both 
hands, and held it before the strong light of an injured 
and protesting gaze. " There is something behind all 
this, Bella. You have been speaking and acting and 
looking very strangely for some time past. Don't think 
me unobservant. Is it that you are ashamed of the hat ? 
Be cruel enough, Bella, to tell the truth." 

" Well, Roo," said Bella, with soft concern, " I must 
say this. Of course, the hat is a very beautiful hat. 
It must have cost a great deal of money some time. I 
don't want to know how much. Perhaps a frightful lot. 
Mamma's hats do. But I don't think it suits you and 
Leonie's hat doesn't suit her and she says mine doesn't 

BELLA 109 

suit me. Does it? Put on your other hat, Roo any 
of them and your other coat. And don't bother a bit 
about gloves. I'll go without mine, too, if you like, and 
then we shall both be the same. And I'll take off my 
buckle shoes if you'd rather." 

And then she paused, having caught sight of an 
apparition in the Poet's look, like a face at a window, 
and suddenly burst into radiance, crying : " O my ! It's 
all a joke. I know it is. It's all a joke, isn't it, Roo? 
O my! How funny! And what a funny hat! I've 
never seen a funnier hat. I've never seen a hat half 
so funny before. Nor half so large. Wherever did 
you get it? Is it Mr. Herring's? It must be! I'm 
sure it is. It came out of the cupboard next to the 
bathroom, where the carpet-sweeper is. And the gloves ! 
They're lovely. And the coat that's part of the joke, 
too, isn't it ? " she asked anxiously. " O my ! How 
mamma will laugh ! " 

Whereat she took the hat into her hands, and 
stroked it both ways, felt the weight of it; measured it, 
dropped it, and even made believe to kick k to such 
effect that one could have sworn one heard the kick. 
At least, the Poet could, and so could Bella. 

Then Rupert departed with his purloined stock-in- 
trade even to the cupboard as Bella had divined, re- 
turning this next time in a miraculous frock suit of 
silvery gray, and a silk hat as sleek and shiny as a 
seal when it pushes its head out of the water; and 
gaiters of the purest white; and suede gloves, and a 
full-aproned tie of shot silk, between the shades of 
London smoke and pigeon blue, on which the crimson 
fire of an amethyst gleamed. He was, indeed, a figure 
of whom any tailor or man-servant might be proud 
let alone such a naturally venerating little human as 
Bella Dysart. No properly brought-up young lady of 

110 BELLA 

the least culture or feeling could have looked at the 
superb rectified crease down the center of each leg of 
his trousers without a thrill, and no man of spirit with- 
out envy. That such garments were ever to be debased 
to the usages of common worship; to be subjected to 
the rigors of pews and the brutality of church hassocks 
was unthinkable. And yet, though the Poet's sense 
for elegance in raiment was quite as keen and nearly 
as noted as his sense of poesy, and provoked indul- 
gent mirth amongst his friends, he possessed that rarer 
art which disguises and condones its more mechanical 
properties. As he wore his hat, for instance, it be- 
came an object of lightness and buoyancy, sitting on 
his head as easily as a smile on his lips, and becom- 
ing him nearly as well. And then, the frock coat, that 
dangerous garment of dreadful vicissitudes, of show- 
men, and bookmakers, and undertakers, and politicians, 
the pinnacle of social formalism and the sartorial for- 
mula for " I am arrived," or " C'en est fini," hanging 
over broken-kneed wretchedness like a blanket over a 
flinching cab-horse; the frock coat, that can expose 
more of a man than ever it covers, and make your 
upstart as naked as on that first day the doctor handled 
him the frock coat fitted our Poet with all the aptness 
of a quotation. 

Its cut conformed most scrupulously to fashion, and 
yet so as to escape its slavery, proclaiming the wearer 
to be a free worshiper and no Helot. On the Poet's 
shoulders it left liberty for thought; a man might wear 
such a garment, and still have room to think for him- 
self; the very amplitude and balance of its skirt sug- 
gested an emancipated mind, a spirit freed from conven- 
tional fetters, one who wore culture lightly, like his 


THAT was a great occasion for Bella. To walk 
possessively by the Poet's side to church, as 
though here was somebody who very much belonged 
to her at last, and take stray peeps at the coat and 
scarf-pin, and catch radiating glints from the silk hat, 
and stars from her own buckles and the Poet's shining 
shoes how good this was! And to cull all the admir- 
ing glances leveled at him; and put up her sunshade 
in the bright places, and lower it nonchalantly when 
they reached the shade, like mamma; and set it gaily 
spinning now and then to accompany laughter, as she 
had seen Mrs. Dysart do; and take toll of all other 
hats and all other coats, and all other shoes, and stock 
of all other church-goers, gazing at them with eyes so 
frankly interested and lips so friendly that her look 
was virtually a greeting, exchangeable at the slightest 
flicker of reciprocal friendliness into a smile or nod- 
ding of the head ! 

For with the world at large Bella lived on the visible 
best of terms. Houses, front doors, creaking shoes, 
strange frocks, unfamiliar faces, the most unpromising 
of babies in perambulators, ragged children prodigiously 
dirty, and the profanest looking of men stimulated her 
sympathetic curiosity to a degree only short of positive 
affection. And then, how fascinating to pass through 
this Sunday Spathorpe, all its familiar features trans- 
lated, as it were, into a strange dead language, with no 
French pianos glittering chromatically at street corners, 


112 BELLA 

and no peripatetic string bands, and no cornet players 
blowing melody or moisture out of their instruments ; 
and no niggers with large white collars and enormous 
jam-colored mouths, plucking invitingly with the banjo 
at public attention as they parade the thoroughfares in 
quest of their promised land. A hushed and altered 
Spathorpe, with the most perpendicular of Sabbath 
smoke, mounting consonantly from its chimneys as if 
the very chimney pots sang hymns; and all its business 
eyelids sanctimoniously lowered, save here and there, 
where through a skewed or ill-drawn blind Bella caught 
glimpses of the secular week-day eye, peeping out at her 
from some shop window a Spathorpe animated princi- 
pally by worshipers and bells. 

It becomes, as they walk, a positive melee of bells, 
each outvying the other after the manner of hucksters 
in a market, clamorous and competitive. Little serv- 
ice bells of no breeding and the most objectionable 
of voices, are let loose like ill-mannered curs, barking 
at the big bells from St. Margaret's. All is aerial 
discord and dissension, and the Poet feels strength- 
ened in a view long held by him that if the power 
were his he would interdict all single bells as vaga- 
bonds, and melt them down into flat-irons or something 
serviceable, and sanction no belfry music but the full 
peal. Time itself seems accelerated by this riot of 
ringing; palpitating with hurried pulses. The urgency 
transmits itself to worshipers; footsteps are quickened; 
faces grow flushed; prayer-books oscillate violently at 
the extremity of arms, swung in aid of locomotion. 
Then, as if exhausted, the bells grow faint and languid ; 
their sound falters, and of a sudden fails. The tense 
sinews of time relax and slacken, and a great serene 
silence comes up and takes possession of the sky. The 
sacred spirit of the day, suppressed and beaten by all 

BELLA 113 

these clangors, mounts supreme at last. The ungodly 
' about the ways hear spiritualized Amens that dawn like 
the opening of gates in Heaven and as celestially close, 
soft disembodied responses, purged of all material 
dross, the slow expansion of hymns in blue space, un- 
folding from the deep bosom of invisible organs, blos- 
soming after awhile with countless elevated voices of 
the blessed. 

But before St. Margaret's bells have altogether 
ceased to fling their echoes over the town, how good to 
climb the great high hill under the reverberation of 
them, mounting joyously above tier upon tier of ancient 
Spathorpe tiles and sleepy chimneys, and reach the old 
gray church at last in its midway perch below the castle 
walls; the weathered house of God that Bella knows 
so well by sight and has so often looked at from the 
high vantage of the Esplanade across the bay. By the 
sunny southern porch she pauses with the Poet awhile, 
for the porch is still full of unabsorbed parasols and 
whispering millinery, and the two take a sentimental 
peep at the serene semicircle of blue sea, and all that 
white and recent Spathorpe that rises up into the sky 
beyond, over the churchyard palings and ranks of re- 
cumbent dead. Like ships within a roadstead the 
crowded gravestones lie foundering ledgers and reel- 
ing headstones, all transfixed in postures suggestive of 
the rude seas of eternity, pitching storm-tossed still to 
their final doom, as if one mortal shipwreck did not 
suffice for the moldering mariners and seamen that fill 
so many of these unlevel graves. So closely do they 
lie together that in places there is scarce room for the 
grass to push its green fringe between their stones, and 
differentiate dead from dead. Here and there a haw- 
thorn has its roots deep down in what these worn slabs 
commemorate, and thrusts up a twisted stem through 

114 BELLA 

the stony decay, crowned with a canopy of leaves that 
shine in the sun and form a little pool of shade upon 
the graves below. 

Bella views these stones with gentle awe, and 
says a soft O my! for though she knows two at 
least of London's largest capitals of the dead, her 
mind is always susceptible to the cumulative won- 
der. Bella knows nothing of the dead; never in her 
life has she met this mystery at first hand, or con- 
fronted the pallid statuary of death. But the word has 
a solemn wonder of its own, to be uttered with a falter 
of the underlip, and she pities all dead people from 
the bottom of her heart, and thinks how dreadful it 
must be to live beneath this weight of masonry if 
what be said of death be true shut off from the 
warmth and the softness of breezes and the blueness of 
sea and sky. To this morning and these moments by 
the porch with Bella is clearly attributable the Poet's 
" Soul Haven " that every schoolgirl knows perhaps 
the most spontaneous and sincere of all his minor 
poems, and bearing not the slightest trace that its sen- 
timents were conceived in white spats and varnished 
boots. The first line came shaped and metered into the 
Poet's mind from what shadowy " whence " he knew 
no more than we as BelUs fingers stole toward his 
and possessed them softly, as though for companion- 
ship in the presence of these dead, with a sense of 
shared gladness and thanksgiving, too, for her own and 
his vitality, and the radiant warmth and beauty of the 
life they lived in. Before the end of the sermon the 
Poet had composed quite six verses, including those 
familiar lines so often the text for scholastic para- 
phrase wherein he likens the sound of the organ, ris- 
ing up in a subterranean tremor from the very vaults 
at their feet, to the liberated spirits of the dead, de- 

BELLA 115 

claring music to be the tide of intercourse between the 
'Deity and those that sleep in Him, renewed until the 
last great day when the diapasons shall roll open the 
deeps of earth and sea, and the universe shall pour 
forth a music whose notes are to be human souls, 
mounting up in serene symphonic splendor to join 
issue with the eternal sunlight of God. For, while he 
and Bella stood, softly hand-linked together, the ground 
beneath them stirred like living flesh, as if the dead 
moved, and the church walls shook, and the sleeping 
edifice seemed to wake and draw breath through its 
huge lungs, until the stained glass windows quaked and 
the sunlight trembled in turn, and all these circumjacent 
solid and substantial things melted, as it were, into the 
permeating current of music, and the world of the dead 
and of the living, and the seen and the unseen, and the 
material and immaterial became one, tenuous and beau- 
tiful, as transitory and eternal as thought itself. 

Thus listening they had to wait awhile, and even 
heard the raising of the opening hymn. Above the 
music of the organ the uplifted voices of the darkened 
congregation bloomed with a plaintive freshness like 
daisies on a grave-sward. For in Spathorpe during 
those seasonable weeks the churches are as much sought 
after on a Sunday as the Parade on a week day. Every 
one that has a pretty frock or a new hat becomes a 
worshiper, as does everybody that goes in search of 
them, and there are not pews enough in Spathorpe for 
all the piety that would express itself. 

And though the High Church of Holy Ethelred on 
the South Cliff is or was at this time by universal 
proclamation the proper habitation for patent leather and 
supercilious silk, and gold-topped vinaigrettes and piety 
in the latest and most fashionable perfumes, and yawns 
behind suede gloves, and sovereigns in the collecting 

116 BELLA 

bags which are here as broidered as a lady's satchel, 
and faintly aromatic through course of time by contact 
with the scents of many soft-gloved fingers still the 
ancient Parish Church of Holy Margaret, crowning the 
irregular roofs and crooked chimneys and wooden bal- 
ustrades of the olden town, calls its quota too of 
pilgrims from the formal southern side, and its bricked 
and weather-beaten porch is earlier besieged. In 
August its dusty vergers assume the dignity of black 
rods and gentlemen ushers about a court; their nostrils 
are characterized by a superior curve, as though the 
drains were defective, and their eye is as much solicited 
as the heavenly Ear. From the assembled millinery and 
press of flounces about the porch they pick out a hat 
here and a petticoat there, with a regal beckoning of 
finger or mere compression of lip, that casts the bond- 
age of solemn silence over the selected, and leads them, 
nervous and subdued, behind the draughty condescen- 
sion of the gown to such position in the edifice as seems 
suitable to the worshipers' garb and demeanor. 

For the Poet's part, he would have been content 
enough to sit with Bella upon some sunny ledger, and 
taste those finer essences of worship that can alone be 
culled when the human elements in it are judiciously elim- 
inated, just as a flower for the proper scenting of its 
fragrance may be held too near the nostril. Heard from 
without, the sound of human thanksgiving takes on a 
quality more divine, as if already these sounds of praise 
were acceptable to God, and transubstantiated into some- 
what of Himself. The gray walls screen the coughs of an 
impatient congregation; without, no feet are heard to 
stir, nor wandering glances arrest and check the flow 
of that inner self-consciousness and reflection which, in 
its highest quality, is worship. But vergers, through 
much communion with their kind, become keen readers 

BELLA 117 

of the human countenance, and have wisdom to win- 
'now, far in advance of that last day, the true ear from 
the husk, knowing your perfect gentleman from that 
base counterfeit of him whose pretentions rise no higher 
than the words "Thank you " ; and while the blissful 
alternative of a seat in the sunlight shines upon the 
Poet's brow, the senior verger emerges from the sacred 
edifice, parting the residuary assemblage to right and 
left with a grandiloquent cleavage of his wand as if 
he might be Moses, and they the Red Sea and confides 
to the Poet in a whisper half the size of his hand, that 
he may perhaps be able to procure for the Poet two 
special places in a choice locality underneath the lectern, 
if he and the young lady will follow him. 

So behind the fluttering wings of this rusty gown, 
puckered up at the shoulders into a dingy velvet yoke 
that fascinates Bella's eye, they quit the sunlight and the 
palpitating warmth of it deflected from these vertical 
and diagonal tombs, and pass into the dim profundity 
of the church, where all the collected faces that turn 
at their entrance seem mere blots at first, and their 
silhouetted hats like shapes half-seen in dreams ; and the 
church itself a catacomb, filled with the reverberation 
of voices, and the smell of sawdust-stuffed hassocks, 
and salty flagstones. 


BELLA enters into the service with a zeal that 
amuses and delights the Poet. Once installed in 
the pew her eye makes friends with all its new sur- 
roundings, with the subdued stone pillars, and the 
stained windows, and the mural tablets, and the rustling 
hats, and profiles, and every eye that meets her own. 
She peeps at the lowered shoulders and puckered sleeves 
of the worshipers in the pew before, and the foreheads 
and spread fingers and protruding nose-ends of the 
worshipers overhanging her from the pew behind and 
this without the least restlessness or impiety, for if the 
spirit of worship does not dwell in Bella's eyes it has 
its residence nowhere upon earth. Her voice is heard 
in every Amen, sometimes with a little quaver of in- 
tensity that seems to express how grave and dear the 
word is to her. And when the priestly tones invite 
the congregation of the faithful to follow him with a 
pure heart and humble spirit unto the Throne of the 
Heavenly Grace, Bella's clarid voice undertakes the pil- 
grimage and keeps company with all the rest, confessing 
her sins with the pious unction of an old and hardened 
offender, to whom peccadilloes are almost become 
palatable; just as if she had any sins to speak about, or 
had done or left undone anything that could render 
her gray eyes and tender lips one whit less dear to the 
Heavenly Father on whose hassock and in whose house 
she kneels. 

And in the Credo, when the organ gives the in- 

BELLA 119 

toning priest his key, and then spreads out a rolling 
harmonic carpet for the faith of the worshipers to walk 
on, Bella's voice rises to the note established, and 
audibly believes in God the Father, and His Only Son, 
and the Blessed and glorious Trinity, and the Com- 
munion of Saints, and the Resurrection of the Dead, 
and the Life Everlasting, and all those other tenets that 
have perplexed the doctors and lit bonfires beneath the 
crackling limbs of faith. As for the hymns, Bella greets 
them like old friends, finding first the Poet's place for 
him, and then her own, with a twofold pleasure and 
importance, crossing one knee over the other, and laying 
the hymn book over that, and turning the pages with 
anxious urgency to be in time for the great uprising. 
At the first line of every verse something eager stirs 
behind Bella's lips, like the couching lark that spreads 
its wings for flight from the grass ; then her voice takes 
wing and soars fearlessly into the thin treble ether of 
song; now high, now low; hovering in irresolute sus- 
pension above her, or poised on one long level note; 
at one moment bright, at another sad, alighting softly 
at the hymn's close and folding its pinions with meek 
and solemn submission. 

Her fearlessness astonishes the Poet. She enters 
the portal of the least familiar hymns without a mo- 
ment's hesitancy, showing more piety in her demeanor, 
but not less self-possession, than if she were with her 
mother shopping. Her voice has the outspoken candor 
of her own eyes; it conceals nothing; takes no shelter 
behind these other voices so discreetly and tentatively 
raised, that cling close to the cover of the general hum, 
and contribute their individual portions to the public 
praise as furtively as the meager coin slipped into the 
collecting plate. Of such subterfuges Bella's voice, as 
yet, is happily innocent. Here and there, in the press 

120 BELLA 

of devotion, a word of puzzling lineament may escape 
her, or her eye, momentarily elevated to a gaze of rap- 
ture, may lose connection with the printed source of it, 
and be for a moment as free of earthly ties as her pro- 
totype the lark. 

But like the lark, once mounted her singing does 
not cease. Words at best are but a clumsy expe- 
dient, incontinent vessels for the higher emotions, 
as every singer is aware. True rapture knows nothing 
of them, and Bella sings from the heart always, never 
from the head except that, at a pathetic word, or 
touching line, she may be observed to shake it. Always 
at the conclusion of each hymn there is a flush of glad- 
ness over her cheeks, and a look of renewed amiability 
in her glance, which she turns to either side and to the 
back of her as though to make acquaintance with the 
visible spirit of song upon these surrounding counte- 
nances before the next prayer obscures it. 

The Poet lacks the true congregational soul; the. 
concourse of his kind inclines him more to silence than 
to song. For one thing he nurtures no hallucinations in 
respect to his voice, and cannot believe that a cultured 
Deity would wish to be worshiped by any such imper- 
fect means. But after awhile he essays to join Bella, 
not in any spirit of emulation, but that the sound of 
her small and solitary voice, so alone and yet so fear- 
less, seems to reproach him with the gentlest charge 
of desertion. Therefore, toward the end of each first 
verse, or as soon as he feels assured of familiarity with 
the tune's outline, he begins to grope cautiously for the 
bass, as though he were seeking matches in the dark, 
and makes a pleasant and companionable murmur in 
Bella's left ear. Of this, politely, Bella takes no notice 
first of all. After awhile she grows curious to know 
what he is really doing down there, like a plumber mys- 

BELLA 121 

teriously at work in the basement, and twice at least 
her own voice ceases as if to make place for these newer 
and more diffident tones. But on each occasion the 
Poet's singing subsides with her own, and they face 
each other in motive-seeking stillness for a space, or 
Bella strives to decipher the inscrutable gaze with which 
the Poet looks before him. 

When from the pulpit was given the signal for the 
great sitting backward, and pews creaked, and feet 
stirred, and petticoats rustled, and the congregation 
made preliminary trial of its coughs, and the man in 
white cast the bread of his text upon the subsiding 
waters, then Bella drew closer to the Poet's sleeve, and 
sought for his hand, and squeezed it with a devout 
fervor as if to confirm and communicate piety, and fell 
straightway dreaming against the Poet's shoulder. 

Bella did not call it dreaming. Bella called it listen- 
ing to the sermon, but here the Poet and an historian 
may smile. Every now and then Bella would fly down 
from where she had built a nest for her thoughts in one 
of the rafters, and dip the keen beak of an appreciative 
attention into the preacher's words, then back to the 
roof to spread warm wings over the fledglings of her 
fancy and feel herself as good as gold. For the sermon 
is a scattering of crumbs, there for the need; food, and 
you take your fill, according to capacity and appetite, 
and such bird-like souls as Bella's subsist on the smallest 
of meals; their own happiness sustains them, and in- 
deed it must be an austere divinity that asks of these a 
better worship than this. Bella's dreams partook less 
of the nature of dreams than of extemporized dialogues 
between the two of her I and Me for even in thought 
for the most part Bella sought to clarify her own mean- 
ing to herself through words, giving it substance, as it 
were, and a shape. Sometimes her dreams would be in 

122 BELLA 

essence homilies, delivered by one half of her to the 
other, on sundry or special duties. 

" And to-day I must not enjoy myself aloud, for 
Leonie has a headache. And I have to feel dreadfully 
sorry. And so I am. And after a little while I must ask 
Leonie again how she does. But not too soon, for that 
will only make her cross and say: 'Man Dieu! Is a 
sick headache to be cured with questions ? ' ' 

Or the dreams were tender appreciations of her 
mother, the choicest blossoms of Bella's love, plucked 
and garlanded and scented with a dutiful delight, and 
offered implicitly to the better of the two Mrs. Dysarts, 
the spiritual and metamorphosed mother who had her 
habitation in Bella's bosom. 

Offerings to her beauty : " Mamma is very beauti- 
ful! yes, indeed! Nobody in the world is a thousand 
times half so beautiful as mamma. Mamma says she's 
not a bit as beautiful as lots of people, but I don't 
believe that. I believe mamma is. O my ! But mamma 
says it because she's nice, and she says nice people must 
never speak the truth about themselves, except when it's 
nasty; or the truth about anybody else, except when 
it's nice. If they do, nobody will believe them. And 
that seems funny too, but I don't care. I know mamma 
is beautiful, and I know she's good, and I love her 
better than anybody else in the whole world." 

Speculations on the nature of her mother's love: 
" Why does she love me so, I wonder ? It can't be for 
what I've got, for I've got nothing at all except lots of 
nice things that mamma has bought for me herself ; nice 
things that other girls have to be thankful for going 

" I'm glad I'm not mamma, for then I should only 
have me to love, and I shouldn't love me half as much 
as she does. And O my! I shouldn't have anything 

BELLA 123 

to give myself. No chocolates, and no shillings for my 
savings-box, and no money to buy mamma presents on 
her birthdays and other days. Whatever should I do 
without her ? " 

Or her dreams were slender yarns of fiction woven 
diligently on her little inventive loom, a thing of obvious 
mechanism, quaint as ninepins, primitive as the fig-leaf, 
yet capable of great results, too, beneath Bella's busy 

One half would come and ask the other half : " Tell 
me a tale." 

And the other half would purse its lips and put up 
its remindful forefinger and reply: "If you what?" 

" If you please," the first half would answer humbly. 

" Then," says the other half, " I am Aunt Jane from 
America. No, I am the poor woman that keeps the 
little goody shop, whose husband was killed in the 
shocking railway accident, and you're lame Bessie with 
a crutch." 

" Be Uncle Alfred," pleads the first, " with a sword, 
and medals on his breast. And I'm Jim. Then we 
can have guns and talk deep. I'm tired of being lame 
any longer. It hurts my legs." 

" No ! " decides the second. " Don't let's be Uncle 
Alfred either. And we won't be the shepherd and his 
faithful dog, and be frozen to death again to-day. Let's 
be the Battle of Waterloo, and you're the French. And 
I don't like that, too. Let's be mamma. That's lovely. 
Let's. And I'm sitting on mamma's knee, and I'm 
mamma, and I must ask mamma for a tale, and that's 

" Oh, how lovely ! Now, I will ask." 

" But mamma must be busy first of all. First of all 
mamma says there will not be time, for she is going 
out to a dinner party with that lovely rope of pearls 

124 BELLA 

around her neck. And Leonie is waiting for her up- 
stairs. But there will be time really only it's ever so 
much nicer to begin by being disappointed. Then you 
enjoy things better. Now, ask. Give mamma a kiss 
like I always do." 

" Mamma." 

"Yes, darling?" 

" That was a nice tale you told me, wasn't it ? O 
my! Awfully nice." 

"What tale was that, Bella?" 

"That about the little girl whose sisters were un- 
kind to her because she was so pretty, and made her 
drink out of the cat's bowl . . ." 

"You liked it, Bella?" 

"Oh, yes, indeed. Ever so much. I like all the 
tales you tell me. No one tells tales like you. Why 
don't you make them into a book? Please, tell me an- 
other, mamma." 

"Another! O Bella! You seem to think mamma 
is made of tales. Not this evening, dear. Mamma has 
not a moment. She must go upstairs and dress for a 
horrid dinner party." 

" Just one, mamma. Ever such a teeny one. Please 
Oh, ever so many pleases ! " (And then I give mamma 
a kiss, and say : " Well? " and mamma says : " Well ! ") 

" Well ? " (And then I say : " You will, won't you ? " 
and mamma says : " O Bella, what a dreadful little 
limpet you are ! ") 

" O Bella, what a dreadful little limpet you are ! " 
(And then: "Once upon a time . . .") 

" Once upon a time. There lived. Many years 
ago . . ." 

And Bella's hand-loom begins to stir, and a little 
princess sits weaving herself into her own fairy-tale. 


THEN, one after another, the places of worship 
peal to the jubilant music of release, pouring out 
expansive congregations through darkened porches into 
the golden air; huge variegated caterpillars that eat 
their way with sinuous industry to the Esplanade. 

For in these delectable Bella-virumque days the 
Spathorpe church parade is still an institution. It is the 
apotheosis of the secular parade, transported to the 
stately terrace of the cliff, where the crowd of fashion 
floats in Sunday languor, as conscious of its self- 
importance mirrored from eye to eye, as a swan that 
sits enthroned in pride upon his white reflection. All 
the least important people make it their business to be 
there, and many of the most important their pleasure. 
On this one morning of the week the Parade proper is 
deserted, and becomes the Parade very improper in- 
deed. Nobody is to be found there except Nobody him- 
self, or invalids wrapped in rugs, or detestable people 
who merely come to Spathorpe for their health, sniffing 
ostentatiously at its breezes, as though loth to lose one, 
and pointing with plebeian rapture at its bay. Incon- 
sequential people who make no effort to conceal their 
feelings, and achieve all their pleasures in one suit of 
clothes. For these and such as these the Esplanade on 
Sunday morning is no place; for there formality stalks, 
a specter, and many move in patent fear of it. The 
feelings are led in leash like dogs of pedigree, not to 
be allowed association with the vulgar race of emotions ; 


126 BELLA 

and human beings make strange and fashionable shapes 
with their mouths, and seek and shirk each other's eyes ; 
and manners are wonderfully grand. In the supreme 
half hour between devotion and lunch, thousands of feet 
trample their impress to and fro in the softened road- 
way, and tread out tears of aromatic tar, concerting a 
surfy turmoil that obliterates the murmur of the sea, 
and raising a fine impalpable dust to titillate the nostrils 
like snuff. From the high-reared bridge of iron, fili- 
greed against the blue sky across the valley, that links 
the older Spathorpe with the new, to where ungodly 
builders play leapfrog with residential villas down the 
coast, and contend among themselves for the latest word 
and the last smell of bricks and mortar, the broad and 
undulating roadway becomes a channel scarcely ade- 
quate for the turgid stream of life; here intersected 
dizzily with cross-currents, there sucked into vortex- 
like circles of converse, now sweeping the full breadth 
of the Esplanade, or splitting on the prominence of a 
rubber-tired landau or open brougham, that breasts and 
cleaves the seething current like a rock; or a Bath chair 
half submerged in the human flood, behind the stooping 
shoulders of its attendant, some aged man more feeble 
than the freight he pulls. From the Poet's balcony, if 
he and Bella were but there to see, the stream shows 
thick and viscid; a syrup of slow-circulating colors like 
the gravely bubbling molten stuff of which the sugar 
sweets are made, whose hues attenuate and mingle, and 
yet refuse to melt. 

There is a plethora of prayer-books. Hats describe 
parabolas to the balconies and to other hats. Every 
kind of hat over every kind of smile, last year's shape 
marveling at the monstrosity of this. The hot rails 
that surmount the steep cliff gardens of the Parade are 
lined with postured loungers of both sexes for half a 

BELLA 127 

mile or more, some of whom have been rehearsing their 
attitudes during the past hour, in preparation for this 
public moment. Every phase of vanity finds expression. 
Men attitudinize over cigars; youth arrives at pro- 
digious self-importance by means of the cigarette. The 
sexes are all agog wtih strife to impress and subjugate 
each other. Voices catching the epidemic of importance, 
rise in tonal rivalry and become competitive. Eyes 
grow disdainful, lips supercilious. Laughter is ex- 
ecuted with all the care of a five-finger exercise. Every- 
body is acting more or less, and the disease, aggravated 
by numbers, spreads. Everybody is desirous of being 
taken for somebody else, and somebody better. Visitors 
at Spathorpe fail frequently to recognize their friends, 
and are not overjoyed to see them when they do; it is 
so much easier to act before strangers. And since this 
vast crowd is collected from all the four corners of the 
universe, and its units for the most part are quite 
unknown to each other, and there is no salutary curb 
upon the vanities, the most preposterous pretentions go 
abroad. It is a game of poker, with countenances and 
demeanors for the cards, and on the promenade the 
philosopher or the student of humanity may find, in 
half an hour, instruction or amusement enough. The 
moral virtues and sincerities have no value here; only 
the outward figuration counts. Except in the case of 
an exalted few, all this moving world judges and is 
judged by externals a form of judgment that falls 
mercilessly on merit. If one had only known, for in- 
stance, that it was the duke himself who trod upon one's 
toes in the crowd around the Buffet, yesterday . . . 

For the rest, actors with blue chins and black eye- 
brows are well received at Spathorpe many of them 
much better there than behind the footlights. So are 
the men who look like them, men reminiscent of photo- 

128 BELLA 

graphs seen in shop windows, of faces that celebrity 
has made more familiar to us than our own. Men 
who possess the air of having done something, or of 
never having done anything in their lives, may count 
on Spathorpe's favor, so long as they time their visit 
wisely and do not stay till they be known. If only you 
have beauty or ugliness enough, or a face that lends 
itself with ease to remembrance or caricature, or prac- 
tice a daily habit on the Parade, be sure you will be noted 
in the end, and decorated with a nickname, and people 
will account you Somebody in this chaotic empire of 
externals, and remark your absence when you leave. 

But for the Poet though he and Bella contribute 
their footsteps to the sluggish mass of promenaders, 
and look and are looked at the morning is less mem- 
orable for this than for his first meeting with Mrs. 
Dysart. Hitherto, he has seen of her nothing, now he 
is to see a great deal. She has been known to him only 
in the guise that Bella's lips have given her, childish 
glorifications rather than portrayals, so superlative that 
they serve, indeed, to whet the Poet's appetite, but yet 
to dull its edge, with preconscious disappointment. He 
thinks this Mrs. Dysart of his knowledge must be, after 
all, a mere exalted denizen of Bella's heart, having no 
counterpart in reality, born of love and nurtured in 
affection, and garbed in generous, donated qualities like 
beauty in a gift of furs. To-day, when Rupert and 
Bella have finished their promenade (which will be 
quite presently) our Poet is to adjust all these impres- 
sions by actual experience, remodel them if necessary, 
and (we have yet to learn) perhaps dispense with them 
altogether in favor of more reliable data. 


CROMWELL LODGE, as every Spathorpe lover 
knows, stands in the shelter of the green and silent 
square behind the Esplanade, with a side-glance along 
the level asphalt of Cromwell Gardens to the sea. It 
is the large stuccoed hybrid-Gothic villa, made up of 
mullioned windows, with a crenellated parapet and an 
embattled porch, in which frowns a dark oak door 
studded with tremendous bolts, and hung on great 
hinges, and furnished with a portentous lyre-shaped 
knocker whose percussive tongue might wake the echoes 
of a convent. It memorializes the prosperity and the 
taste of a midland tradesman, who aspired to dignify 
retirement within these presumptuous walls, to fortify 
himself against the rude assaults of commerce, and 
sustain a siege against his own past. He died before 
the glaziers had removed their whitening from its 
windows, and the house descended into hands which 
relinquish it each season for lucre. Royalty, it is whis- 
pered, has found some entertainment there ; and emerged 
from that frowning but not unfriendly porch, into the 
silent starlit Spathorpe of the pallid small hours; and 
through the house's seasonal vicissitudes some well 
known figures in the world of wealth and beauty have 
cast their shadows on its brilliant blinds. 

The pages of its history, if not unsoiled, present at 
least an edge of opulent and gilded sanctity toward the 
world, and form matter for keen and interested perusal. 
In these days of Bella and the Poet, the house though 


130 BELLA 

neither of them knows it is not less barometric of the 
brilliancy of the season than the fashionable Sceptre on 
the Esplanade, that Bella admires so much; or the vast 
Majestic that thrusts its three great cupolas high into 
the blue sky at the head of the South Bay. With the 
advent of each summer the eye of Spathorpe sharpens 
in its scrutiny of Cromwell Lodge for signs of occu- 
pancy, and calculates the chances of the season by the 
lateness or earliness of the decorator's work upon it. 
When the painters' ladders complicate its walls in April, 
and the window-cleaners wring out their wash-leathers 
while the spring winds still are keen enough to make 
their fingers blue, or the furniture van brings its gloomy 
bulk into the square before the leaves of the plane trees 
round the central grass plot have lost their first juvenile 
green, then a lengthier season may be apprehended, and 
Spathorpe which lives as sadly as a hibernating tor- 
toise when its visitors are gone feels the congenial 
warmth of impending gaiety, and slowly comes to life 
again, and the house agent's clerk, with creased sleeves 
and ink on his celluloid cuff-protectors, runs around to 
the office of the Spathorpe Mercury with a paragraph 
announcing that Cromwell Lodge has been let by his 
firm for the month or season as the case may be, to 
Mrs. X or Mrs. Z, or the Hon. So and So and family, 
with tutor and governess and domestic staff; and the 
junior reporter of the Spathorpe Mercury which is, or 
was, that limp and humid journal produced by bron- 
chial gas-power in the side street of Cliffborough, that 
smokes when new like a bath towel in the sun, and is 
coated with such profusion of printer's ink as to give 
it the intensity of an obituary number. In winter it 
shrinks over an utter absence of news to no proportions 
at all, like a mendicant's shawl over a nipped stomach, 
swelling in summer to as much as four pages of visitors, 

BELLA 131 

whose multitude makes so large a demand upon type 
that some of the names perforce must be re-spelled, or 
taxed of a letter, or entered in italics (which seems to 
suggest an aspersion on the owner's character) or ruth- 
lessly shorn of their capitals to admit of inclusion at all 
the junior reporter of the Spathorpe Mercury, rilled 
with the exuberance of one who holds a shorthand 
certificate for eighty words a minute, and has done on 
occasions even more, hurries around Spathorpe with his 
notebook and stenographic pencil to take statistics of 
hotels and lodging-houses and painters and decorators, 
and compiles a forecast of the season so sanguine that 
by the next post advertisements of rooms to let reach 
the office a month before their wont. Whereupon the 
grocers and provision merchants wax active, and the 
butchers and dairymen, and the letter-box of Cromwell 
Lodge is gorged with daily circulars. And Spathorpe 
keeps its eyes upon the windows, too, for tokens of 
transformation for Cromwell Lodge, it knows, is not 
to be occupied for nothing, and though poverty may be 
more honest, wealth is certainly more interesting. De- 
spite its taste, the villa, locked in on two sides by its 
own walls, is not an undesirable shelter for summer 
idleness, and those who come and go through its studded 
door, or show their vestiges occasionally behind its solid 
mullions may count on being envied. 

Bella does not lead the Poet through the battle- 
mented porch this morning, but through the nearer, 
smaller door, deep sunk in the plaster of the side wall, 
which gives admission by a descent of two steps into 
the square of a sunlit garden. The garden is not large 
indeed, the contrary; nor is it altogether private, for 
several upper windows of adjacent houses look down 
into it with differing degrees of frankness or obliquity; 
nor does it offer much by way of beauty other than 

132 BELLA 

comes from the conjunction of sunlight with sheltered 
green. There is a molded concrete fountain in the mid- 
dle of the lawn, whose slender jet of water dances 
merrily to an indefatigable tinkling tune; and in the 
mossy basin down below there are goldfish fanning their 
indolent fins, for Bella takes the Poet's hand and draws 
him across the grass to look at them. And there are 
two parterres ablaze with red and yellow begonias, 
whose fleshy blooms flag a little in the noonday heat; 
and set around about the lawn are rose standards, and 
in the border by the walls, green ferns and phloxes and 
tapering hollyhocks, between which and the rectangular 
lawn a gravel pathway runs. There is a florid summer- 
house, too, of so-called rustic woods, embowered in 
clematis and drooping jessamine, its doorway cut 
diagonally in shadow by the midday sun, and a blind- 
ing garden seat, white painted, which stares across the 
plot of green. 

So much the Poet briefly notes as Bella takes his 
sleeve and draws him to the tinkling fish basin, whose 
finny occupants move with cool disdain beneath the sky- 
blue water in the shadow of their mirrored images, but 
scarcely have they stooped to contemplation before his 
mercurial little guide turns swiftly on her heel and blos- 
soms all at once into the most radiant flowers of 
recognition, a nosegay of greetings, toward the large 
six-mullioned window, shaded by as many lowered sun- 
blinds, red and white, that thrusts its bay into the 
garden. Through the open sashes, in the dimness of 
the room beyond, a .seated figure is rather to be divined 
than visible, but Bella's eyes are as penetrative as 
needles when it comes to love. She cries : " Mamma ! " 
and claps her hands with all the joy for a rare butterfly, 
and speeds across the lawn to the big window, whose 
sill is higher than her forehead; laying her finger-tips 

BELLA 133 

upon it, and jumping up for glimpses of the desired 
presence beyond, her lips voluble with words of greet- 
ing and inquiry. 

At first, impulsively, she makes a skipping rope 
of all their morning's doings, leaping nimbly with her 
sentences to clear the interceptive sill, until the color 
mounts into her cheeks, and her hat slides down 
the cascade of golden hair upon her shoulders, and 
her breath begins to fail, when she casts the sport 
aside, conceding her strength expended. " O my ! I 
can't any longer ! " and calls the Poet whom already 
she has indicated to the presence beyond the sun-blinds, 
and clasps his one hand in both her hot ones, and says: 
" Now you shall see mamma ! " and trips a naiad 
dancing measure in front of him, up the steps of the 
terrace, and through the double glass doors of a veranda 
conservatory, and so into the softly regulated light of 
the room where the presence sits, a room diffusing the 
characteristic odor of cool cretonnes, sweetened with 
Parma violets. 

The spacious garden window has made no boastful 
promise of its size, for though divisible by folding doors 
the room runs the full depth of the house, and a second 
window at its farther end, no smaller, silhouetting the 
large fronds of a Kentia palm and the uplifted lid of 
a grand pianoforte, gives out upon the square, where 
the Poet catches a passing glimpse of vivid distant sun- 
shades before Bella's fervent fingers draw him to where 
her mother sits. There she relinquishes the Poet's hand 
and flings herself upon her knees, throwing both arms 
possessively about her mother's waist and lays the 
rapidest of kisses on her mother's cheek, as if to let 
the Poet see what kind of being this is she loves and 
worships ; and buries her face for a moment in the soft- 
ness of her mother's bosom, rocking their combined 

134 BELLA 

affections to and fro. Then : " This " she says to Mrs. 
Dysart, withdrawing her countenance from its smoth- 
ered resting place, " this is " and stops at that as on 
a precipice, with the queerest little look of perplexity, 
turning twice from one to the other a bitten and em- 
barrassed underlip. " O my ! I don't know who it is 
exactly. I call him Roo. You don't mind, do you?" 
she asks the Poet pleadingly "before mamma?" add- 
ing, with the prettiest tune of laughter over her predica- 
ment, "O my! I didn't know what to call you just 
at first. We never settled what it was to be, did we? 
And this " she says, indicating the pronoun by a two- 
fold kiss of the clearest, " is mamma ! " 


ALREADY the eyes of the Poet and Mrs. Dysart 
have made acquaintance over Bella's shoulder, smil- 
ing mutual recognition of the girl's dear inconsequence. 
Mrs. Dysart's eyebrows, whimsically elevated, confess 
the lenity that loves too well to judge, but there is a 
friendly keenness in her glance that seems to seek the 
Poet's judgment, pleading it may confirm her own in- 
dulgence. The hand she proffers over Bella's shoulder 
is very white and very slender, albeit the fingers that 
the Poet holds in his a moment are nothing fragile, but 
softly and taperingly fleshed. In their motion they agi- 
tate a faint warm fragrance eau de Cologne, or one or 
other of those tenuous scents in which the Sex secretes 
and insinuates itself the slightest waft, to the accom- 
panying music of a bunch of golden mascots that hang 
from her wrist. Also, the fingers extended to the Poet's 
touch are ringed. Turquoise and emerald and blood- 
red ruby flash upon them with a vivacity that would 
be dangerous to flesh less fair, or a hand less shapely. 
Later, he is to associate these golden hoops and colored 
stones with an action that their owner makes familiar; 
the pensive twisting of them on her fingers when her 
eyes seek that distant solitude of vision enhancive of 
their depth and beauty. 

For deep and beautiful they are. The oriental 
fervor of Bella's lips has not led truthfulness in 
this respect too far astray. Of a shade that 
eludes description, for which no term exists, be- 


136 BELLA 

tween gray-blue and hazel, reticulated with violet, the 
smile that issues from them seems kindled with the 
clearness of light. Deeper eyes they are than Bella's, 
and more darkly lashed; the fringe that marks the 
movement of their lids is almost sable, and of such 
density that the merest drooping of them serves to 
screen her glance from observation. The light, per- 
haps, diffused and softened through the lowered blinds, 
is not too strict a censor of complexions ; more flatterer 
than scrutineer, but it falls upon Mrs. Dysart's cheek 
with such a charity as to surprise the Poet. That this 
can be the mother of Bella makes him wonder. Sister 
he might have believed, for the resemblance between 
them protests relationship. Their features are of a 
mold; their profiles follow a pattern; in silhouette they 
might be one. It is difficult to distinguish anything of the 
father's influence in the girl's face. The smile of greet- 
ing on Mrs. Dysart's face is the smile made known to 
him by Bella, albeit more disciplined in the service and 
requisitions of society. The lips themselves are curi- 
ously similar; save only for the difference in depth and 
lash, their eyes are animated by looks so much alike as 
to impress almost comically the watcher of both, when 
he sees the daughter's glance conform by instinct to the 
rulings of the maternal eye, like an apt recruit recipro- 
cating the motions of a drill sergeant. Now and again, 
when Bella's instinct for the look appropriate fails her, 
by a quick reference to her mother's face she regulates 
her countenance as surely and as swiftly as her voice 
would take the pitch from a note given. The years, of 
course, that have done so much to shape the corre- 
spondences of these two faces, have also wrought in 
them the traits of difference. Behind the external sim- 
plicity and singleness of Mrs. Dysart's countenance, 
there is that deeper and more complex knowledge born 

BELLA 137 

of experience and the world. Maternity, too, shows in 
her face, for none but the most worthless of women 
can be a mother for nothing. Over her lips at times 
there creeps the ineffable look of pain that sits on them 
and lends the look of soul to beauty, that expression 
of gentle suffering which is so effective an alloy in love- 
liness, and may even be simulated by those women who 
know better how to steal advantage from sorrow than 
to suffer it. 

And there are external differences, too, between 
Mrs. Dysart and her daughter. Bella's hair is gold- 
en of that aureate hue which might give rise to 
base surmises, coiled on a woman's head. Mrs. Dysart's 
hair is of deep auburn, or rather that shade of bur- 
nished brown that shows its copper only in the sun, 
and throws a pale brow into luminous relief. Mrs. 
Dysart is scarcely taller than her daughter may before 
long aspire to be, though her form seems slenderer, and 
the woman's garments magnify height. But the points 
of physical divergence are wonderfully slight. It is in 
the informing spirit that most of the difference lies. 
Mrs. Dysart sits as Bella could not sit ; her body, steeped 
in the soft cushions of her chair, derives a graceful 
advantage from the posture of repose. The play of 
her brows and lashes is leisurely, the motion of her 
head and hands slightly, though not superciliously, 
languid. The white lids of her eyes, thickly embroid- 
ered with their black lashes, could manifest disdain 
beyond the expression of Bella's franker lids. Over 
Bella's face the stream of fancy passes with a swift and 
busy current; behind Mrs. Dysart's eyes the tide of 
thought flows deeper and less ruffled in its channel; her 
countenance ripples with none of those dancing wave- 
lets of expression that chase each other so quickly 

across Bella's face. She figures womanhood as Bella 

138 BELLA 

images the child. The sight of her corrects, though 
without violence, the Poet's expectations. The unaf- 
fected shaping of her lips in speech, and the sound of 
her voice, put to flight the idea of epigrammatist, for 
all she sits, as Bella has depicted, amid the overflow 
of books and magazines, with volumes intimately tucked 
beside her and embedded in the cushions of her chair, 
and journals sliding from her knee to the carpet, ex- 
truding fashion-plates and colored toilettes. To these, 
a little later she makes laughing allusion, bidding Bella 
remove their offending fashion-plates from the Poet's 
eye " The Woman's Book of Martyrs," as she calls 

But that is when the Poet is seated on the chair 
that Bella has been whispered to provide for him, and 
Bella has relieved him proudly of his hat and gloves, in 
doing which she cannot resist the temptation first of all 
to display the former admiringly to her mother's notice, 
saying : " Look, mamma ! Isn't it a beauty ! " 

Mrs. Dysart, with a glance at the Poet, shapes lips 
of hushful remonstrance, and tells her daughter : " Those, 
Bella, are things we think!" 

" Yes, and so do I," says Bella with fervid assent. 
" I've been thinking so all the morning. I did wish 
you could have seen it. It looked lovely coming out of 

With such a unifying element as Bella in their midst 
they slide into conversation with the ease for an intimacy 
renewed rather than an acquaintance begun. 

" Indeed, you are no stranger to me," Mrs. Dysart 
informs the Poet. " I seem to know you so well 
already, part through your verse, which I have often 
read, and then through Bella." 

Her voice has the richness that Bella's may some 
day acquire, although its tones are neither deep 

BELLA 139 

nor ringing. Their quality lies more in a mellow 
warmth suffusing speech like mild sunlight, and giv- 
ing a clear serenity to her words. It is a rhythmic 
voice with music in it, that lifts and falls be- 
tween the points of such a wide inflection as to im- 
part to her spoken words the character almost of 
melody, very fascinating and agreeable to the ear, and 
a golden vehicle as the Poet thinks for the chariot- 
ing of fame. When Mrs. Dysart speaks, the inflected 
outline of her voice is reinforced with a delicate modu- 
lation of the brow, that renders the intention of each 
stress and accent visible, and illustrates, and at the same 
time wonderfully softens, speech. 

" Bella has told me so much about you. She must 
be a terrible nuisance, Mr. Brandor ! " 

Bella cries : " O mamma ! " and, " Am I, Roo? " 
And the Poet interposes a hearty " Not at all." 
" Still," Mrs. Dysart continues, " it would have 
been dreadfully dull without you for us." Her speech 
expands from a grateful smile. " You can't think what 
pleasant company you have been to me after my stupid 
illness. Do you know, I have read twice through your 
' Mnemosyne's Daughters ' since Bella met you, and at 
times I felt sure I could catch the very tones of your 
voice. The verses might have been your lips. I seemed 
to understand them infinitely better by what I know of 
you through Bella. I have been wanting so much to see 
you for myself and share something of Bella's privilege 
Oh, yes! your mamma has been jealous of you, Bella 
and to thank you for all your poetry and kindness, 
and those lovely flowers." Her eyes, led by the allusion, 
go forth on a butterfly excursion from bowl to bowl. 
" Violets are my passion. Ever since I was a child I 
have loved the look and scent of them. I could die, 
I think, more easily in their fragrance." 

140 BELLA 

Bella turns apprehensive lips at this ominous men- 
tion of death. 

" But you are not going to die, mamma ! Not for 
ever so long. O my! Dr. Hayhew says so and you 
know you promised me you wouldn't." 

Mrs. Dysart laughs the gravity from Bella's face, 
with a reflected look of amusement from that to the 

" O no, not yet, I hope ! " she says. " You funny 
girl ! There are so many lovely things to live for 
poetry and friendship, and the sweetest hypocrisy. 
When mamma talks of dying, it is a sign she feels 
much better. Mr. Brandor will tell you that all his 
saddest poetry is composed as a luxury for happiness. 
Only happy people know how to be really sad. Did 
not a little girl come recently to her mamma and tell 
her : * O, mamma ! I feel so sorrowful ! ' and when 
her mamma asked : ' Why ? ' was not her answer : ' I 
don't know. But I think partly because it's been such 
a lovely day, and I've enjoyed myself so much '? " 

Bella's face lights up at the allusion, and her lips 
sing joyously : " That was me. O my ! Yes, I remem- 
ber. I was frightfully sad that evening." 

" Ah, Bella ! " her mother tells her. " It is beautiful, 
playing at being sad when one is young. When one is 
older, one has to play at being happy. That is ever so 
much harder." 

" There ! " cries Bella to the Poet, with radiant 
pride. " O my ! What did I tell you ! Doesn't mamma 
say some funny things ? I love them. Don't you ? " 

Mrs. Dysart and the Poet exchange laughter. 

" Some very true things, Bella ! " her mother assures 
her. " But Truth deceives us all when we are children. 
She begins by being ever so kind, like the new teacher, 
and it's only when we grow older and she sets us harder 

BELLA 141 

tasks that we find how horrid she is. Perhaps, when 
'we grow very, very old, we may come to like her 
better again, and think her not so hateful after all." 
She breaks off with a laugh. " But, good gracious ! 
Don't let us talk about such disagreeable things. We 
are quite forgetting our manners, Bella. Truth is never 
mentioned in company. So you have been to church 
this morning." 

Bella cries : " O mamma ! " in a voice of celestial 
rapture, like a choir of angels liberated and ascending, 
as though the subject opened gates in Heaven. " It 
was lovely. We did wish you had been with us. Didn't 
we, Roo? Next time you must come, too, and we will 
all sit together. You shall sit between us both. No, 
I'll sit between you both. No, you shall sit between 
us both. O my! I don't mind a bit. Just however 
you like." 

" I am sure it would be more interesting than these 
stupid magazines. No sermon could be quite so dull." 

" Our sermon wasn't dull. It was lovely. Wasn't it, 
Roo? I had hold of Roo's hand all the time. The 
clergyman was beautiful. He coughed so sadly, and 
had the sweetest tremble in his voice. And such a 
lovely what-do-you-call-it over his shoulders." 

"And what was the text?" 

" O my ! " Bella's lips shaped and unshaped them- 
selves over the formation of a reply, with more will- 
ingness than wisdom, finally subsiding in despair. 
" I've forgotten that." 

" Perhaps Mr. Brandor can help you ? " 

The Poet shook a guilty head. "I was relying on 
Bella. I believe it came out of the Collect." 

" Then I am as wise as you both for all I have 
been turning the pages of magazines till my wrist aches, 
to try and find something I could read. I think I need 

142 BELLA 

not go to church next Sunday, after all. Tell me about 
the dresses. Those are much more important. No- 
body knows whether the sermon improves us or not, 
but everybody can tell when a hat does not suit us. 
Were there any very pretty frocks, Mr. Brandor?" 

" I did not see any." 

" Then I fear there must have been. It is woman's 
complaint that man never sees her at her best." 

Bella broke in : " O, mamma ! There were lots and 
lots ever such lots of the loveliest frocks. Roo said he 
liked mine, too didn't you, Roo? Say you did, so 
mamma can hear you." 

" Indeed I did." 

Bella throws up to her mother a triumphant 
" There ! " In this new domain of recollection her 
memory proves all-sufficing. There is scarcely a frock 
she has not noted, or a precise shade or hue she lacks 
the faculty to describe. To the Poet, who preserves 
the memory of all these worshipers as a mass, a pha- 
lanx of identities showing an almost solid frontage to 
the assaulting eye, it is an astonishment to learn with 
what prowess Bella has pierced their ranks and re- 
duced a corporate crowd to units. Hats, frocks, gloves, 
shoes and stockings; looks, smiles, and even eyebrows 
glimpsed momentarily over pew-ledges, are stored in- 
delibly in the crowded repository of the girl's mind. 
She sits by her mother's side, with her two arms em- 
bracing her mother's knee, and her face sometimes laid 
against it, sometimes uplifted as if to drink of the 
chalice of her mother's laughter, or take visible joy in 
her mother's countenance. From her rapturous gaze 
on this she turns it, filled with love and pride, toward 
the Poet, in a glance that cries as plain as speech: 
" Isn't she a darling ! I love her. I think she's sweet." 
And from contemplation of the Poet in turn she flashes 

BELLA 143 

looks of invitation to the face above her, seeming to 
ask its acquiescence in her own admiring affection: 
" Say you like him, too, mamma ! O my ! I'm sure you 
must. He's lovely." 

Nor can this allegiant quality be restrained to looks 
alone. Prompted by a friendlier outburst of laughter, 
in whose circle they are drawn momentarily close to one 
another, it escapes Bella's custody and finds outlet in 
speech through the startling inquiry : " O my ! How do 
you like mamma? Is she just what you'd expected?" 
which Mrs. Dysart will not let the Poet answer, re- 
proving her daughter : " Fie, Bella ! What a dreadful 
question to ask. Do you want Mr. Brandor to tell a 
story when he is only just back from church? Of 
course, he has not had time to make up his mind yet 
and the question would be more dreadful than ever 
if he had. That is why wise people never form an 
opinion, lest foolish people should ask them for it. Be- 
sides, ' liking ' is only for little girls, who ought to like 
everything and everybody, not for grown-up people, 
who are expected to like nothing." 

" Dr. Hayhew likes you," Bella declared, " and he's 
grown up. Ever so much more grown up than Roo." 

" But Dr. Hayhew's only a doctor," Mrs. Dysart 
reminded the girl. " One must not take doctors too 
seriously. They will all tell you we don't." 

" He brings mamma a rose every morning," Bella 
declared, directing her information to the Poet, in de- 
spair of overcoming this other adversary in argument. 
" Ever such a lovely one on purpose for her. Look ! 
There it is. You can tell he's been this morning." She 
pointed at the delicate William Allan Richardson with 
a finger of triumph. 

" You silly girl ! " Mrs. Dysart apostrophized her, 
drawing back the golden head and shedding her amuse- 

144 BELLA 

ment over Bella's brow. " Dr. Hayhew has lots of roses 
like that in his brougham, and leaves one with every 
lady he visits. You may always know a lady's doctor 
by his button-hole. It is part of the treatment, Bella. 
\But for these little attentions many women would never 
take the trouble to be ill at all." 

Bella demanded : " What did he tell you this morn- 
ing, mamma ? " 

" He said he was afraid I was nearly quite well 
again, Bella. I'm afraid I am, too. It makes one feel 
very ordinary, Mr. Brandor, to have one's health once 
more; it is like descending from poetry to prose. One 
is not interesting even to oneself when one ceases to 
be an invalid. Don't you think so?" 

" I ? I fear I'm only a man," the Poet confessed. 
" Sickness does not offer us such a variety of attractive 
maladies and toilets. One cannot be ill to advantage 
in a dressing-gown." 

"O my!" Bella exclaimed with fervor. "You 
ought to see mamma's dressing-gown. It is a darling." 
Mrs. Dysart slipped quiet suppressive fingers over the 
girl's mouth. 

" Now you are frightening Mr. Brandor," she said, 
with a flicker of her lashes. " If you talk like that, 
Bella, he will be looking at his watch." She tendered the 
frank full smile for an open topic. " This is your first 
visit to Spathorpe ? " 
" My very first." 

"And you find Spathorpe interesting?" 
"With only a little encouragement I could grow 
very fond of it." 

" I dare not tell you how many years it is since I 
was first here. For charity's sake we will call it ' once 
upon a time.' " 

BELLA 145 

" O my ! I love ' once upon a time/ " says Bella. 
"Don't you?" 

" But then, I was only a little girl. Indeed, I must 
have been, for I cannot remember in the least what I 
wore. That may be merciful." 

" It was because of Uncle Dody we came to Spa- 
thorpe this time, wasn't it ? " Bella interpolates. " O 
my! He was coming, too, and then he went away to 
America instead, and we don't know when he's coming 
back, do we? Perhaps not for ever such a long time." 

Mrs. Dysart stroked the golden hair for a brief 
space with eyes introspectively fringed, as if her thought 
were suddenly directed inward. 

" You funny girl ! " she said, smiling in amusement 
on the upturned face. " Whatever has Uncle Dody to 
do with our coming here ? " 

Bella exclaims in surprise : " I thought he had. 
Hadn't he ? O my ! Why did we come ? " 

Mrs. Dysart answers : " That's what I asked myself 
too, when the doctor was sent for. Perhaps on purpose 
to make Mr. Brandor's acquaintance, Bella! Who 
knows ? " 

Their talk flows in a simple course that rises seldom 
above the level of Bella's comprehension. Where, oc- 
casionally, the Poet and Mrs. Dysart touch on topics 
beyond her, Bella listens with the reverence for an 
'oracle, sobering her face to suitable attention, and silent 
as a mouse (for there is something very wonderful to 
her in things not understood, which seem to confirm 
the superiorities of those who deal in them), but she 
is not without skill to interpose the timely, though 
never interruptive, word, that turns the wandering tide 
of talk into more congenial channels. In this respect 
her manners are a model. Such proverbs as deal with 

146 BELLA 

small children's shoulds and shouldn'ts, the auricular 
capacity of pitchers, and all those lines of conduct ruled 
with awful straightness and severity over the daily page 
of youth, were never made for Bella. Her ebullient 
little spirit, so naturally eager and impetuous, is won- 
derfully repressible. The merest touch of her mother's 
hand upon the golden head with which, as she talks, 
she toys, suffices to keep the impulsive word unspoken. 
And this with no sign of management or restraint, for 
the girl has that natural instinct which makes friends 
with discipline and melts authority into love. 

To the Poet this picture of the mother and her 
daughter is a fascinating one, teaching him more of 
both than he could have learned from Bella's lips alone, 
and proving them more to each other than he had per- 
haps imagined. Affections unpractised are apt to be- 
tray themselves in public to the wary watcher. Before 
now the Poet like most of us has been witness of 
politic embraces; those artificial fondlings, like the kiss 
of flint and steel, that strive to make visible the spark 
of affection by force an uncertain and incendiary flash 
when kindled. But this practised companionship of 
Bella and her mother reveals no guile; its quality is 

And since there exists always the element of some- 
thing sacred in the love between maternity and that it 
bore, the Poet sees Mrs. Dysart in a softer and diviner 
light by reason of these quiet caresses. The smiles she 
shows to him are mellowed by the deeper feeling dis- 
cerned in her; something of the halo of the holy family 
irradiates this gracious woman and her child, and gives 
to their commingled beauty a significance of sanctity. 
Through Mrs. Dysart Bella is commended to him in 
a dearer degree; through Bella, Mrs. Dysart is ineffably 
translated, revealed by those soft instances for which 

BELLA 147 

alone her daughter furnishes occasion. To sit beside 
' this placid communion of the affections confers upon 
the Poet something of the soothing spirit of the noise- 
less running of a brook, whose waters, for all they 
flow, interpret tranquillity more than motion. 


THE soft ruffle of the luncheon gong, that creeps 
discreetly in upon their conversation, brings the 
Poet to his feet with apologies for his disregard of 
time, but Mrs. Dysart begs him : " Surely, Mr. Brandor, 
you will not think of deserting us before lunch. It is 
a pleasure on which we have been counting," and Bella 
clasps her mother's knee with such appeal, saying : " Oh, 
mamma ! He mustn't go. Don't let him go. He won't, 
I'm sure, if only you ask him," and adds such supplica- 
tion to her mother's graciousness that the Poet has no 
alternative but to submit. The polite excuses he makes 
on the score of his own lunch already prepared, and 
Mrs. Herring's expectation of him, are met immediately 
by Bella, who runs to the balconied house with the 
speed of a fawn to messenger the Poet's absence, and 
comes back radiant with service and success, to take her 
place, still panting, at the table in the dining-room. 

Here, drawn closer by the subtle friendly influences 
that emanate from white napery and spread silver and 
the glittering array of regulated glass, their intimacy 
grows. The room, lit by one large window, and softened 
by embroidered blinds, which the creeping sunlight 
already kindles, gives out upon the square, whose mid- 
day silence is broken only by rare footsteps and their 
own voices, or the laughter at intervals that comes to 
them cooled and clarified, like a trickle of iced water, 
from some adjacent window. Above Mrs. Dysart's 
head a convex mirror starts from the wall, as if it were 


BELLA 149 

a silvery bubble, half-blown, about to detach itself and 
float upward. It reflects the sunlit window with mag- 
nified brightness, and the scarlet geraniums in the win- 
dow boxes, and the heads of the sitters as they bend 
to meat or turn to share laughter, and the white surface 
of the luncheon table distorted to a dome, and the mov- 
ing muslin of the serving-maid, and her sly uplifted eyes 
when she takes stock of the Poet by reflection. But 
they feed more on words than meats, and laughter is 
their wine. True, Bella is no mean plyer of the imple- 
ments of the table, though as the girl herself explains, 
this luncheon constitutes her dinner, which she is al- 
lowed to take with Rupert and Mrs. Dysart instead of 
the Yorkshire pudding and roast beef with Leonie. 
Bella drinks lemonade, flavored with slices of the fruit, 
and sweetened frothily with sugar, and chilled with a 
miniature iceberg that bobs delectably against her nose 
in drinking, and makes the fluid so cold that it brings 
out beads upon the glass, and nips her breath and causes 
her to set the tumbler down in haste with an enraptured 
" Ah ! " each time she drinks of it. It is so very good, 
she avers, that nothing will content her but her mother 
must confirm its goodness from her tumbler, which 
Mrs. Dysart does, to the extent of one indulgent sip 
that shows her lips and lowered lashes to advantage, 
saying : " O Bella ! This is perfect piggy-wiggy. You 
are going to ruin Mr. Brandor's opinion of us." 

Bella protests : " It isn't piggy-wiggy a bit. And Roo 
doesn't mind. I gave him half a chocolate yesterday, 
after I'd bitten it, for it was such a darling color inside, 
and the loveliest flavor. Wasn't it, Roo? Besides," 
says Bella, prosecuting the pros and cons of the subject 
with her industrious wont, " you always let me take a 
teeny sip of your whipped sherry in the morning. And 
that's not piggy-wiggy, is it? At least, I don't care if 

150 BELLA 

it is. I love it. And it shows you love me, doesn't it? 
O my ! " 

If the lunch contributes not much to the store of 
their actual knowledge of each other, at least it aug- 
ments that sympathetic wisdom which assimilates char- 
acter by essence, without regard to its relation to an 
outer world, or the outer world's reaction on it. With 
Bella's tongue ringing such Arcadian music across the 
table, the spirit of candor if not its substance is 
loosed and prevails; and a belt of conceded friendship 
binds all three. Indeed, the amicable qualities cannot 
secrete themselves for long where Bella is. Her liberal 
and friendly nature seems to call all other natures to 
take hands with her and join the dancing ring of human 
happiness. Reserve, in such a circle, is quickly bereft 
of all that distinguishes it, like the curate in the kissing- 
ring, whose legs perforce must subscribe to the com- 
mon measure however clear of it he hold his theology. 
Bella is the quickening force that animates the chain 
of current sympathies, and sings them on and sets the 
pace. So, though the Poet's bearing to Mrs. Dysart 
and Mrs. Dysart's disposition to the Poet, in their direct 
addresses to each other, infer the ceremony for new 
acquaintance, through Bella they short-circuit friend- 
ship. She is the ostensible conduit through which their 
laughter passes. In her their sympathies meet and min- 
gle as if her little sociable heart were a parlor, and 
they, guests. Her presence serves to keep the conver- 
sation swift and sweet and friendly in its flow. No 
long words or convenances clog it. It runs like a brook, 
in a channel of simplicity, and its dimpled current is 
never so deep (or rarely) or so disturbed as to obscure 
the friendly nature of its bed. Once or twice the Poet 
catches the golden gleam in Mrs. Dysart's laughter for 
which Bella has prepared him, and agrees in heart with 

BELLA 151 

Bella's dictum that the flaw becomes her, and would 
(if he had the willing of it) the gilded trophy should 
show oftener, for it marks the golden limit of Mrs. 
Dysart's smile, whose generosity is as great as Bella's, 
and whose quality mellower. 

When Bella touches on the topic of ages, cracking 
the years in friendly calculation as if they were mere 
dessert nuts, Mrs. Dysart admonishes her daughter: 
" Teeth and ages, Bella, should never be discussed in 
company. For if you mention teeth, you stop half the 
smiles at table. And a woman is not more scared of a 
mouse than of her own age." But with a frankness 
which astonishes the Poet she admits to the age of 
thirty-two. He admires her candor, and such is the 
corruption of our human nature, that it sets him 
straightway wondering if she be no older than she 
pleads. Not that she looks her age, for the Poet but 
for Bella, would have judged her younger. And as 
Mrs. Dysart says : " One's daughters age one terribly, 
Mr. Brandor. The tragedy of married life is that a 
mother forfeits the privilege of deception." 

He subtracts Bella's years from thirty-two, and 
concludes that Mrs. Dysart must have been married in 
her teens. The thought is romantic. The veil and 
orange blossom confer somewhat of the martyr's 
beauty to the visage of the youthful bride, that steps 
from the school-room to maternity like the figure of 
Faith betwixt fanatic fires and Heaven. In her early 
beauty when her face thrilled a little under the con- 
scious knowledge of it, weighted with the quality like 
a blossom under its first dews Mrs. Dysart must have 
been a form to worship. And yet this thought, crossing 
the Poet's mind, does not aim to detract from his pres- 
ent admiration of her. Some women have their beauty 
on a slender and uncertain tenancy ; others by lease ; again 

152 BELLA 

there are those who seem to hold their loveliness in 
fee simple, and pay no rent to Time. Of these, the Poet 
deems Mrs. Dysart to be one. He believes her beauty 
is the type that does not antiquate or fall into decay, 
but keeps pace with the years, changing visibly little, 
until it grow venerable like them. Some forms of beauty 
too, there are, that make no receptacle for experience, 
cannot contain the least substantial stuff of wisdom or 
experience, but fall at once to pieces like worthless furni- 
ture put to use. Knowledge only dulls them; suffer- 
ing makes them fretful; pleasure, haggard. But Mrs. 
Dysart's face is one that treasures the riches of ex- 
perience and shows them advantageously displayed be- 
hind a look of clear candor and yet reserve, like precious 
china seen through the panes of a cabinet. Bella's 
beauty, the Poet thinks, possesses this virtue, too. At 
her mother's age he fancies he can see her not dis- 
similar; her youth subdued, but not expelled; her eager 
lips modulated to an indulgent graciousness ; her eyes 
deepened with the power of retrospect, and not, as 
now, the shallower mirrors of young joys and present 

The conclusion of their meal is marked by a senti- 
mental change in Bella's face, who grows commiserative 
of a sudden with large eyes on Mrs. Dysart, and sighs : 
" O my ! " and " Poor mamma ! " explaining to the Poet : 
" Now mamma must go and rest. The doctor says so. 
Doesn't it seem sad? O my! I wish lunch were only 
just beginning." 

But Mrs. Dysart shows less obedience than her own 
deep eye or little daughter would interpret her to have. 
She says : " Fiddle-de-dee, Bella. Patients are allowed 
to disobey the doctor when they're getting better. Mam- 
ma's not going to lie down yet. A little indiscretion will 
do her all the good in the world." And she proposes 


fruit and coffee in the garden if Mr. Brandor 
so kind as to overlook the shortcomings of the 
as their neighbors do, daily. In such compa 
Poet is prepared to overlook anything, and conceives the 
sheltered quadrangle as a perfect Hesperides. So Mrs. 
Dysart throws over her shoulders a filmy stole, that 
veils her upper portions like a cloud, and imparts to 
her a transcendental look, as if her beauty might almost 
vaporize and float; and plucks a sunshade from the 
stand in the hall, and they pass into the garden, all 

Bella shows the Poet where the garden chairs are 
stored in the summer-house, and helps him to set them 
out, and Leonie who bows to the Poet on Bella's 
breezy presentation with the inscrutable sly modesty of 
her race, slipping a decorous " M'sieu " through lips 
that close again immediately upon the word, as if she 
feared some fraction of her virtue might escape with 
it Leonie brings wraps for her mistress, and a wicker 
table, and they take fruit and sip coffee in the shade 
cast by the south wall, and fill another hour with 
friendly talk. Floats to them as they sit the faint 
sound of the outer world, noises that lap against the 
walls of their retirement very solacefully, like summer 
waves that soothe a boat's prow, for, as Mrs. Dysart 
expresses it, " there is nothing so restful as other peo- 
ple's activity." 

Passing voices, and external laughter are wafted to 
them over the wall. They hear the footsteps of a re- 
animate Spathorpe, drawn forth anew by the necessity 
to show itself and publish its humors. Here and there 
in the high windows visible above them industrious 
heads are to be seen at toilet ; hair is smoothed resolutely 
into order; feminine hats adjusted before the glass, 
with inconclusive touches, and side-glances at the street 

-.154 BELLA 

for signs of how the public current flows. Shortly they 
hear faint paroxysms of music from the Parade; bars 
that burst out suddenly from the blue sky overhead, like 
colored stars from a rocket, and fade into nothing. The 
sacred concert is in progress; the terraces will be 
crowded with an ambiguous throng, irreducible to any 
exact standard of fashion, though chiefly of the class 
that goes to look for it. For Sunday music has not yet 
won its franchise, and whatever Conscience may be- 
lieve, Fashion (which is after all the supreme thing 
in such matters) has not yet made up its mind whether 
to follow the lead of the nursemaid and soldier, or 
decide for orthodoxy and selecter pleasures. That por- 
tentous judge, Time, who takes as long to bring his 
causes to an issue as the Court of Chancery and whose 
rulings are as capricious as the Law, has since pro- 
nounced upon the question, but at this period of our 
Poet's history, it is still sub judice. There is said to be 
a monster petition hatching under the wings of the non- 
conformist conscience, alleged twenty feet long already, 
and growing with signatories at the rate of eighteen 
inches a day. Rumor speaks, too, of contemplated legal 
action on the part of the allied religious bodies, and 
there are hints of the exhumation of some moldering 
act to enforce public worship on all adults and baptized 
infants over the age of five years. 

Meanwhile, there are many who will visit the Parade 
merely to witness and take a lesson from the wicked- 
ness of it, as English folk go to the gaming table at 
Monte Carlo, and hazard five francs to be assured of 
the iniquity of gambling. Some of cruder views, who 
see good in all things, go drawn by purely pious resolu- 
tions, to be improved by sacred music, and hear "The 
Lost Chord " blown five miles to sea out of a cornet. 
Others, who disapprove of pleasure on the Lord's Day, 

BELLA 155 

and yet think it sin the day should be wasted, will 
promenade the cliff above the Parade gardens, where 
the music is to be heard without sacrifice of principle 
or collusion of pocket. The Esplanade is even more 
thronged than was the case this morning; but the 
countenance of the crowd shows a notable diminution 
of hauteur. These blasts of sacred music from below 
fire the latent festive spirit in humanity, that would 
break boisterously loose but for the day. Not Bibles 
hot with haste from Sunday school can altogether sub- 
due the volatile essence of their owners that carry them. 
Links of giggling maidens as many as six abreast go 
waltzing up and down the roadway, that were less than 
fifteen minutes since in caps and aprons, perspiring with 
the zeal of hoisting hot joints to third-story lodgers, or 
rattling pots like castanets in the wash-up pancheon 
below stairs, and transported hence, some of them, with 
such expedition that they have hooked no more of their 
frock's fasteners than will serve to hold it on their 
shoulders, trusting, for the rest, to the blindness of 
humanity which might stand them in good stead were 
these defects but virtues. There is a disposition to 
repartee, and cries that would breed and multiply freely 
in the congenial atmosphere of Saturday night, go 
chevied down the Esplanade. All the iron seats are 
occupied to discomfort. There is no room for elbows 
to spread a newspaper. The railings are possessed 
by precocious youth. Artillerymen from the barracks, 
with white gloves stuffed under their shoulder-straps, 
and red-coated volunteers from the encampment on the 
Castle Hill lend color and a dash of recklessness to 
the crowd, swaggering martially from the hip, to the 
ring of spur-music, flicking switches and rifling all these 
feminine faces of their modesty, and making girls as 
giddy as the roundabouts. Sailors there are too, rolling 

156 BELLA 

more leisurely in their capacious breeches, liberally 
tattooed about the wrist and forearm, and displaying 
necks as bare as a debutante. And frank rustics from 
the field, bringing the heaviness of the soil and the scent 
of byre and cowshed with them despite their Sunday 
clothes, push their way through the throng with the 
dropped under jaw indicative of wonder; finding a world 
of novelty in their fellow-men that will be retailed to- 
night in distant barns and sultry kitchens. For these 
the realm of fashion begins with walking-sticks and 
hard felt hats, on which basis Spathorpe on Sunday 
afternoon may be said to seethe with quality, and shows 
as many wonders to the curious watcher as cheese under 
the microscope. 

To the garden occupants at Cromwell Lodge this stir 
of humanity is known only by its consequences on their 
own peace. All the distracting blood of life seems 
drawn away from their surroundings, as if the writhing 
excrescence on the cliff were a leech, with function to 
suck the fever out of Spathorpe's veins. The garden 
floats in sunlight deep and tranquil, immersed in the 
blue beauty of the cloudless sky. Around about them 
such half-drawn window blinds as they can see seem 
to flag like sleeping eyelids. The voice of the little 
fountain adds itself to the conversation. Somewhere, 
not far distant, but refined by the hot sunlight like 
gold in a crucible, the keys of a piano are struck, and 
the brief cool notes are soaked up instantly by the 
silence, as if they were drops of water in sand. A sense 
of Elysian peace touches everything, even their laugh- 
ter. In such a mood and setting, people dally, each 
with reluctance to break the spell of communion, but 
Leonie has her orders and lacks the least compunction 
to obey them, arriving to the minute of Mrs. Dysart's 
command with a submissive " S'il vous plait, madame!" 

BELLA 157 

as if she studies her mistress' word more closely than 
'her own convenience which has indeed wished Mrs. 
Dysart at a number of different places for this hour 
past. Mrs. Dysart is not altogether indisposed to add 
a further term to the maid's probation, but she sub- 
mits to the doctor and destiny with a becoming smile, 
and rises gracious from her wraps. " If only obedience 
would make us young, Mr. Brandor, how obedient we 
women would be ! " 


TO the thoughtful mind every fresh friendship con- 
stitutes, as it were, a pathway in destiny, that 
may lead somewhere, or nowhere, prove fateful or fruit- 
less, broaden to a great high road or busy thorough- 
fare, or dwindle like the country lane that, despite the 
most heroic and stupendous repair, returns to the turf 
and elemental quagmire from which it was with labor 
raised; or reach at least by tangled ways the wilder- 
ness of thorn and brier and brackish pool, where count- 
less paths efface themselves. Of such speculation the 
Poet is not altogether free, though light and pleasant 
laughter veils it. One who holds, as the Poet holds, 
that no chance smile noted, or passing face beheld, or 
voice heard, but is absorbed by the receptive spirit to 
form tissue for a soul, would be little likely to under- 
rate the influences of such a friendship as that of Bella 
and the beautiful woman whose daughter she is. Its 
potency seems all the stronger by reason of the half 
mystical semi-magic soil from whence it springs. A 
child's word spoken to him by chance encounter, and 
out of this he finds the whole fabric and firmament 
of his present life constituted; risen like a rainbow 
forth from nothing in a moment, and spanning his 
solitary heaven with friendly hues and bright compan- 
ionship. In cities, amid a world of friendships, the 
faces of acquaintances tend to neutralize each other, 
but here in Spathorpe, where he is detached from human 
intimacies, and lives a life of almost spiritual suspension 
between realities and dreams, Mrs. Dysart and her 


BELLA 159 

daughter loom to larger shape. All Spathorpe merges 
in these two identities, and takes its character from 
them; becomes but an incidental to this new friendship 
so informally begun. 

The Poet muses on the curious fluctuations of life, 
and since feminine loveliness is ever a proper theme for 
inquiry, speculates who Mrs. Dysart may be. She is 
young. She is beautiful. She has the speech, the looks, 
the movements of a lady. Familiarity with the capitals 
of the world proves her a traveler. This house she 
occupies, the rings she winds upon her fingers, the 
gown she sits in, the daughter on whom she lavishes 
affection, declare her affluent. Yet her husband, he 
learns from Bella, is long since dead. She is a widow, 
therefore. Has this lonely state been never challenged? 
It seems incredible, all these years. Is loyalty to the 
memory of the dead begetter of her child the bar? Or 
a love of her own sel f -sovereign ty ? Or a languid dis- 
inclination to face again and undergo the vicissitudes 
of bonded life? In Mrs. Dysart's face, much though 
he may look at it, there shows no answer to his queried 
musings. And after all, the Poet is not made of that 
tenacious clay whose very speculations are earthen. 
The mysteries of life, he is aware, are too essential to 
its beauty to be ruthlessly torn aside wherever they 
impede or veil the light. His speculations rest no heav- 
ier on the object of them than the sunlight would. He 
leaves contentedly to time the solution that others might 
be led to seek by labor, and asks of Mrs. Dysart and 
her daughter no better than their beauty and their 
friendship give. 

And since the preservation of an amicable status quo 
is impossible with such a kindling factor in affection as 
Bella's self, their triple friendship grows and grows 
apace. Within the week, imagination finds it difficult to 

160 BELLA 

credit that but a handful of days before, this friendship 
lay unborn and unsuspected in the womb of Fate. 
Things that happen and are once yeaned in the world 
of fact, lose all their features of unlikelihood and grow 
domestic to the mind, like wildfowl bred in captivity. 
Life shows more familiar with this friendship than now 
it could look without it, so quickly does man's nature 
succumb to habit. If Mrs. Dysart and her daughter do 
not derive far back from the Poet's memory, they seem, 
at least, to have their fibers deep within his conscious- 
ness. To Bella, the Poet's origin seems already half 
fabulously lost in sentiment, like the beginnings of her 
own being. She fancies they have met before though 
whether in a previous incarnation, as the Poet hazards, 
she is not sure for all she really thinks the incarnation 
is her favorite flower. She believes they must have 
known and loved each other (for they do love each 
other, don't they! O my! Of course they do.) years 
and years ago before they could remember. (And 
does he love mamma, too? Does he? What? Of 
course, she believes he does. How could anybody help? 
O my!) Perhaps and the gloriousness of the possi- 
bility animates her like the sip of her mother's egg- 
sherry perhaps they saw each other once upon a time; 
perhaps in London; perhaps before some shop window; 
perhaps in Regent Street, or Bond Street, or Oxford 
Street. Does he know those? He does? O my! She 
begins to be almost sure of it. And has been there lots 
of times? He has? O my, and so has she, too! It 
must be so. It shall be so. 

" If we think so," says the Poet fervently, " It is 

She cries : " Oh, let's think so as hard as we can ! 
What if you should turn out to be a cousin, after all ! " 

The Poet devises better even than that, for by a 

BELLA 161 

document drawn up one morning and attested by each 
of them at his writing table, and sealed with two great 
seals, bearing (as soon as the first anger is out of the 
wax) their respective thumb-prints, the Poet (of the 
one part, hereinafter called the Adoptor) takes Bella 
Dysart (of the second part, hereinafter called the 
Adoptee) for his true and lawful and well-beloved sis- 
ter, with all the rights, titles, privileges and emolu- 
ments attached thereunto; nevertheless, forasmuch, si 
quis, sine die, nisi prius, and notwithstanding. After 
which the Poet has real scruples that the document 
to be a proper legal instrument should be witnessed 
in blood. 

" Whose blood? " asks Bella. 

" Ours," says the Poet. 

" Not both of ours ! " she exclaims in alarm, and the 
Poet tells her: "Yes both of ours." 

But though Bella says : " O my ! " in a dismayed and 
awe-struck voice, more as if she were drawing the 
words in over her underlip than breathing them out; 
and then tenders a submissive sunburned wrist scribbled 
with pale blue veins that make the soft flesh throb like 
the bosom of a bird, how can he (carving knife in 
hand) wreak the strict requirement of the law upon so 
delicate and dear a tissue. Rather, he holds the emblem 
in his clasp and moralizes on it, thinks of all it illus- 
trates and symbolizes and makes more beauteous, like 
Poetry's self that lends sweetness to the facts of life, 
and draws the wandering rays of sentiment into one 
clear beam of splendid truth. Why, within the circle 
of this little wrist, thinks he, all womanhood is com- 
passed; the precious qualities of warmth, of tenderness, 
submission, faith and courage and how many more, 
seem writ in it, part of the very substance of the flesh, 
incarnate and incorporate. 

162 BELLA 

He closes his fingers tighter on this slender trophy 
that thumb and forefinger can span, and says, to test 
her : " You draw your breath. You are afraid." 

She says : " Only a little not very. And not when 
you hold me tight like that." 

He says : " I know what you think. You think a 
brother dear at the price of a little blood." 

She says : " Only a little ! How much ? " 

" Half a pint," he tells her. 

"O my ! " And then she says, in a burst of loyalty 
and confidence : " Take as much as ever you like, Roo. 
Only let me turn my head, and please be quick. I know 
you won't hurt me." 

She means it. She half believes this sacrifice of 
blood is being demanded of her; wholly trusts its ex- 
ecutioner would work her no harm. She has the heart 
that burned in the bosoms of heroines when the world 
was young; when virtue aspired no higher than suffer- 
ing, or souls beyond love ; when to love was to be loyal, 
and loyalty yielded all, kissing with its dying breath 
what wounded it. 

A poetic tenderness comes over him, a stirring of the 
chords of conscience as if the thing visioned were the 
thing done, and he the doer, and she the sufferer of it, 
beautified to sublimity. Were tyrants of old, he won- 
ders, men of supreme poetic feeling, who spilled blood 
that they might luxuriate in pity and taste the blood- 
red vintage of remorse, like him of the ancients who 
was wont to toy with his mistress's neck, and save that 
she had but one, and that too dear for the experiment, 
thought what a throat were there to cut. They may 
have been. Voluptuaries of the soul, seeking to know 
all its gamut from deep hell to the topmost stars. 

He lets go the little wrist and bethinks him that after 
all the law is not explicit on this point of blood. The 

BELLA 163 

bond may serve as it stands. He quotes Aristotle in 
support of his belief, and refers Bella to the Justinian 
Code, and the Pipe Rolls, and Coke on Littleton, and 
Bella breathes relief, drawing fresh breath for the ad- 
miration of his learning. What a monument is here, that 
towers high above her like those inexplicable smoky 
statues in London, and knows the languages of the dead 
as well as the living, holding communion with poets 
whole centuries demised, and yet is flesh and blood and 
as accessible and free as air to the lungs. What a 
brother to have gained, bound tight to her by testament, 
and sacred seal ! Henceforth the birthdays of each one 
must be observed (for so the contract runs), and piously 
Bella must commemorate Rupert's, and he hers. And 
henceforth she may arrange, by law and title, the papers 
on his desk, may brush his hat, pluck hairs off his coat, 
lay out his letters on the breakfast table, and open each 
envelope in his presence with precise and scrupulous 
care, the tip of her tongue keeping time with the con- 
scientious motions of the paper-knife, visible now 
through her lips on this side, now the other rip, rip, 
rip, rip! may study (by right and title) the Poet's 
countenance as he reads, and guess at the names of his 
correspondents from their writing, spreading prohibitive 
fingers over the page and crying : " Stop ! Don't read. 
Let me guess first of all who it is." 

Well she knows, or comes to know, the black and 
bold and busy handwriting of Mr. Pendlip, the Poet's 
second nay, his only father; for the first and actual 
he scarcely knew. From him each alternate morning 
brings a letter, sometimes a portly oblong letter, fat 
and crinkling and gloriously expectant to the feel, as if 
it were stuffed and upholstered, a perfect bolster of a 
letter, filled (in addition to tidings of Daisy's health) 
with strange long documents and wondrous papers 

164 BELLA 

some of them that open out to newspaper dimension 
from as many as six foldings, and are as infested with 
figures as a baker's ceiling with flies. These the Poet 
calls balance sheets (not a bit like the sheets you sleep 
in. O my!) and reports, very loud reports, some of 
them, he says ; though for the life of her can Bella hear 
anything. Mr. Pendlip, it is, she knows, who stewards 
all the Poet's substance, the lands and money that his 
father left him, a wondrous man of finance whose brain 
is a teeming bee-hive of busy figures, perpetually 
streaming to and from the financial pastures of the 
world, in lines as straight and certain as the multipli- 
cation table. She has the visual figure of this man of 
figures to a hair his whiskers, tending to broaden the 
lower part of his face, and lend width to .his large and 
purse-like mouth, big enough for benevolence and firm 
enough for business ; his bushy eyebrows, drawn unitedly 
over his eyes in aiming a question, as if they formed 
the single visor of a cap; his pince-nez, striding the 
fleshy extremity of his nose awry, like a rider half 
out of his seat in the saddle; his great gold watch- 
chain with the early- Victorian seal, around which he 
winds his ample forefinger in deliberation; his deep 
voice, his sententious " Well, well's " and " I say no 
more's." News from the sick chamber that Mr. Pend- 
lip's letters bring is brief and business-like. The man 
of affairs uses words with the scruple for figures, and 
would as soon be guilty of adding a nought to the value 
of them as a cipher to his pounds. He quotes tempera- 
tures like market-prices, and the course of suffering like 
fluctuations in stock, treating his daughter's sickness, 
on paper, with a fortitude equal to that he would dis- 
play in a doubtful investment, inclining neither to 
optimism nor despair. Signs of assurance, however, are 
to be found in his admission of the first gravity of her 

BELLA 165 

illness, which now replace his earlier hope for the best. 

His letters breathe a sturdier spirit; finance re-exerts 
her influence over him. He analyzes the latest balance 
sheet of Bolchester and Hemeridge with brio, and 
thinks the company might have ventured a further five 
per cent, over the year without imprudence. Still, with 
every favor from fortune, it is out of the question for 
the patient to leave home before another fortnight. It 
may even be more. Whether the projected Spathorpe 
visit will yet be accomplished or not is all uncertain. 
Under these circumstances Rupert must exercise his 
own judgment on the point of remaining where he is. 
And there comes a postscript for Bella of more sweet- 
ness than chocolate. " Please, thank your little friend," 
writes the big financial fist, " for her kind messages of 
sympathy. They have been much appreciated." 

Bella's lip even trembles with gratitude for this over- 
whelming reward of her solicitude. She is incredulous; 
can scarcely believe such a distinction hers. O my ! Let 
her see the postscript; spell out for herself the momen- 
tous words. What does P. S. really mean? She's an 
awful dunce; she forgets everything. Does it mean 
repondez s'il vous plait? No? She rather wishes it did. 
But Roo will let her write another message at the end 
of his next letter won't he! and tell her something 
very, very nice to say. 

It is strange what slender ligaments bind the resolu- 
tions of mankind. So slight they are that men, and even 
Poets, do not always admit them. Between acts of the 
most tremendous consequences there lie, not seldom, 
connecting links of such frailty and attenuation as to be 
scarce discernible to Reason's microscopic eye. The Poet 
might have hesitated to confess to any but himself the 
true nature of his tie to Spathorpe. Except for Bella, 
and all her friendship signifies, he would be willing to 

166 BELLA 

renounce the pleasures of this summer place and take 
leave without a pang. But now he feels it otherwise. 
There are some fine attachments first to be broken. 
He shrinks from those, the more because he recognizes 
their transitory character and hesitates to destroy quali- 
ties so fragile and so fair, as he would refrain from 
shortening by one single moment the colored magic of 
a bubble that ripens through splendor to its inevitable 
ruin. In his answer to Mr. Pendlip, however, there 
shows nothing of this; only those factual franknesses 
appropriate to the financial mind. How, for instance, 
that the Poet is as well for the present at Spathorpe as 
anywhere; that the bay is as beautiful as Naples; that 
the weather is glorious. All as true as true, and yet 
serving to show the gulf that flows between actual and 
spiritual truth; or perhaps, more accurately, to illus- 
trate that Truth does not reside (as the vulgar imagine) 
in that hard and stony Fact which may be demonstrated 
conclusively and beyond dispute, like a pebble through a 
window-pane, but is as molecular as matter, and as in- 
finitely divisible and elusive. 


IF Happiness (as that Other Poet tells us) was born 
a twin, it is not less true that by temperament he is 
a Tory. He shrinks from innovation like Dives from 
the death-duties. That that is, for him cannot be bet- 
tered. He is no reformer, like his ragged cousin 
Wretchedness, and at the last great balance and audit 
of the world, he will be found to have done little for its 
advancement, whatever he may have contributed to its 

Under happiness the Poet's days slide into a placid 
uniformity. Life's unruffled waters bear him on with 
scarce a sense of shock or motion ; save for his wisdom 
he might be beguiled, as Bella almost is, into believing 
this deceptive current at a standstill. Each day is to 
the likeness of the one before; each day to come is 
looked to be like this. Through Bella the Poet pene- 
trates into Spathorpe's intimate and childish bosom, fre- 
quents its cherished nooks and delectable quaint cor- 
ners; through Mrs. Dysart he is drawn more favorably 
to the Spathorpe that his loneliness first avoided, and 
tastes, not against his liking, the idle pleasures of its 

With Bella is there an inch of Spathorpe unex- 
plored one single of its sentiments untried? If looks 
left their traces visible where they rested, like thumbs, 
you should find all Spathorpe mottled over with them; 
the pages of its cherished purlieus as dog-eared as a 
popular volume from the lending library. Some of these 


168 BELLA 

pages have been, since then, most ruthlessly torn out 
of the book of happiness that these two read together; 
more are threatened. Joys, too, like mortals, derive a 
deeper beauty from death, and by perishing become im- 
perishable. Memory, as if she were a loving foster- 
mother, deals more tenderly with the orphaned off- 
spring of Reality committed to her care, those sights and 
sounds bereft of the parentage that gave them birth and 
made dependents on her bounty. The nook demolished, 
the landmark gone, are dearer to memory than the 
things, though absent, whose own substance still pre- 
serves them; the joy beyond recall takes precedence in 
the bosom over the joys that are repeatable, and so sus- 
ceptible of diminution. 

Where are the little postilion chaises that used to 
whip up and down the Spathorpe hills in Bella's time? 
little four-wheeled victorias no bigger than a bath- 
chair, that could accommodate a whole family of three 
generations during the busy season; with a bobbing 
jack-booted jockey on the pony's back, brilliant in all 
the colors known or unknown to the racing world. Gone 
even in these brief years, like the link-boys and sedan- 
chair men, and barking night-watchmen; extinct and 
unlamented as the dodo. Where, too, is the Hillborough 
Bar, that stubborn thing of stone that lent its pseudo- 
mediaeval frown to the steep High Street, and throttled 
traffic; under whose reverberating arch, when free, the 
reckless fish-carts, dripping ice water and fish scales, 
thundered down the hill amid the mighty rattle of their 
harness, like a giant courant in chain-mail? And then 
that venerated page of ancient Spathorpe at the foot of 
the Castle Hill how ruthless progress has destroyed it. 
Those narrow passage-ways overhung with timbered 
gables, crooked as lightning, and thronged with smells ; 
where melancholy haddocks, that seem to have lost all 

BELLA 169 

interest in life, lie shriveling in the sun, and cats, sur- 
'f cited with sea fare, sleep by them without heed; and 
fishwives thrust their red elbows out of little upper 
windows and talk to each other across the three feet 
of interspace in unfamiliar briny tongues; and seated 
fishermen mend brown nets on the wooden balconies 
that mount sheer above each other, tier by tier, to where 
at last they touch the sky. 

And the dim marine stores, that are to ocean what 
those ancient musty leather-smelling commentaries are 
to the Scriptures, through whose cobwebby windows is 
to be seen the most romantic lumber: harpoons and 
brass-capped telescopes, and oil-skins and fishing tackle, 
and great tallow-sweating sea boots, themselves as big 
as porpoises, and port and starboard lights, and com- 
passes and charts in such profusion that stand how long 
you will, and look how hard you may, there is always 
some fresh and rich discovery for the finger to point 
at, some strange object not noted before, to strike the 
mind with new images of the wonder and profundity of 
the sea. And then the noisy boatyards, ringing with the 
hammer, and the ship's carpenters wading about their 
work knee-deep in a surf of shavings, and the fish- 
curers wrapped in an acrid reek of smoke, and the great 
bellied cauldrons of Stockholm tar bubbling over their 
wood fires that look deceptively extinguished in the sun, 
and can hardly be realized alight save by the violent 
ripples of the chain and tripod legs above them, and 
the fierce thin wisps of heat that curl over the cauldron's 
side from time to time and lick out at the spectators 
like a hot, far-reaching tongue. 

And those wondrous ancient public houses, no bigger 

than lobster pots, lurking in cut-throat corners, under 

beetling eaves and crushed and sunken roofs, into which 

the booted seamen roll, while Bella clasps the Poet's 


170 BELLA 

arm to make sure of him. Where she and the Poet 
wandered around these nooks and byways, the finger 
of change has made many erasures. No concrete sea- 
drive then girdled the Castle cliff, that pushed its un- 
curbed promontory into ocean, and held the two bays 
rigorously sundered, nor had the hand of man scarped 
back the headland's overhung and menacing brow. It 
crumbled periodically with a roar of thunder, sending 
up dense clouds of smoke to heaven, and hurling its 
topmost crags like defiances into the boiling sea below. 
Where Bella and the Poet scrambled out upon the weedy 
foot-rocks that scorching afternoon, amid the fiery hot- 
ness of great stones and the odor of drying wrack 
and brine, and the cry of circling sea-birds, and the 
splash and suck and fret of waves, and made the 
glorious passage from south to north, no sweeping car- 
riage roadway ran. That sea-resisting mile of sleek 
and solid masonry was yet but a vision or the germ 
of one; a tiny fitful spark in the hidden stuff of 
Spathorpe's aspiration, smoldering into brightness when 
breathed on now and then. Nature was still god- 
mother to the north bay, and could be found by those 
who sought her. Her brows were not then smoothed 
with grassplots, and plaited with pathways. No glassy 
shelters glittered on her, nor band-stand shone, nor 
geometric flower beds feuded hotly with the sun. Art 
was represented only by a spectral pier, that stretched 
out to sea on iron pillars, crusted white with limpets 
and draped with dank green weed below the tide mark. 
At its end was a pavilion for the supply of lemonade 
and gaseous refreshments, and a weighing machine and 
camera obscura. Sometimes music might be heard 
there, damped by its watery surroundings and the small 
number of hands to applaud; or a professor of nata- 
tion would divest himself of an ulster and plunge into 

BELLA 171 

the sea from a wooden stage in a striped bathing suit 
with silver medals and Maltese crosses on his chest, 
and heads would corrugate the parapet alternately on 
this, side and on that, to watch him while he dived and 

But already the day of piers was passing; bereaved 
of popularity the Spathorpe pier lived in a state of 
quiet widowhood apart, unfrequented by many friends. 
Chiefly her weeds lent midday shade to parents who 
sat under her floorboards while their barefooted progeny 
played; or gave grateful shelter to trippers, huddled 
disconsolately beneath her girders when it rained. 
Whereat the solitary photographer ran, too, with the 
camera under his arm, its head muffled up in black 
velvet as if mourning a death in the family, to take 
refuge and canvass custom, and so if possible turn 
rain to sunlight, slashing the drops off his glisten- 
ing hat with one hand, and insinuating the gilt-framed 
samples of his skill with the other, and calling this the 
proper light for portraiture, and adding by his pres- 
ence and solicitude another element to the discomforts 
of the situation, while the raindrops washed humanity 
off the sands like flies off a window-pane, leaving only 
the bathing vans and the melancholy ring of asses, head 
to head, whose lot no storms can make more hard nor 
sunlight brighten, brooding sadly over the wrongs of 
their race. The bare-skinned donkey-boy whose family 
arms should be a cudgel rampant quartered on an ass- 
skin seme with bruises pulls two of their company to- 
gether by the bridle and takes a crouching shelter under 
their bellies. 

Bella knows these donkeys, these persecuted He- 
brews of the animal world though less than their more 
favored kindred of the south side and loves and pities 
them for their mournful patient eyes and sad long ears. 

172 BELLA 

And knows their names, asking the donkey-boy if he is 
good to them, which, to the peril of his swarthy soul, 
he says he is. 

Did not Bella and the Poet ride to Colbeck Mill 
along the sands that very afternoon when they had 
scrambled over the rocks of the headland? In truth 
they did, Bella mounted on no less a personage than 
Queen Elizabeth, and the Poet astride of the Duke of 
Wellington, with the ragged donkey-boy behind them, 
whose toilet consisted in the main of sunburn, supple- 
mented by half a shirt that showed in the most unex- 
pected places, two buttons and a piece of knotted string 
with which the whole fabric of convention appeared 
suspended, shaking to the verge of disruption when he 
ran. He was under the strictest order to use no cudgel, 
and did not, but the mere weight of his shadow on 
their flanks was stimulus enough to his steeds, that 
wasted no time in converting energy into motion, but 
broke into a nimble trot that shook their riders like 
quaking custards, and made Bella scream between ex- 
hilaration and alarm, after the fashion of all the rest 
of her sex that they met or overtook upon the way. 

And at the Mill, which is the beaming whitewashed 
house that stands at the Beck mouth half across the 
bay a working mill no longer, but a place of pil- 
grimage for arid donkeys and buffeted riders they 
drank tea and ate Colbeck cake at one of the many 
mug-worn tables under the blue sky, in open sunlight 
beautiful lukewarm tea with a rich Britannia metal 
taste about it, and exquisite Colbeck cakes crammed 
with currants, and succulent with melted sugar. Their 
donkey-boy lay on his stomach on the parched grass 
hard by, with his bare legs in the air, and drank tea, 
too, out of a thick pint mug, both his hands clasped 

BELLA 173 

about its circumference, sucking up the fluid with noisy 
satisfaction like a quadruped, and lent infinite variety 
to Colbeck cake by his manner of eating it now thrust- 
ing it into his mouth corner-wise, and regarding the 
resultant fracture as if it were a phenomenon, now de- 
taching the upper crust to feast his eyes on the syrupy 
blackness within, or picking a currant or two by hand; 
anon clapping on the pasty lid and rolling on his back 
to hold the sweetmeat overhead against the sky, with 
the sunlight on it, like a mother with her babe, or a cat 
playing with a mouse, his appetite compounded half of 
love and half ferocity; from time to time clutching his 
cudgel with barbaric instinct and leveling a fierce blow 
at the sparse herb as if it had been the irresistible worn 
hide of an ass. 

Nor were Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Wel- 
lington neglected, for they fared on Colbeck cake and 
lumps of sugar at Bella's hands, which they enjoyed 
after their manner, sadly and with resignation, draw- 
ing by degrees so close to the bestower of this bounty 
that to all intents and purposes the company at table 
was four, and Bella could not lift the teacup to her 
lips but a soft intrusive muzzle blew upon it. All this, 
and the clear sky, and the tranquilizing sound of the 
sea, and the purling of the Beck, and the ring of tea- 
spoons against cups and saucers, and the sight of these 
many other humans seated happily, some at long tables 
and some at round, and some before collations spread 
on newspapers on the grass, and the spirit of friend- 
ship habiting even lukewarm tea, drew Bella's soul into 
her eyes, and made them very large and limpid, as 
though all this happiness were so much pain. She could 
but heave a sigh from the bottom of her heart, and take 
the Poet's hands in hers, and look at him as if he were 

174 BELLA 

the scenery itself and say: "O my!" To which, when 
the Poet asked her, " O my, what ? " she added : " O my ! 
I don't know what. I think everything." 

But present happiness never caused Bella to forget 
her absent friends, but rather as in the virtuous it 
ought to do it strengthened her affection for them. So 
they bought ever such a bagful of Colbeck cake, and a 
great stick of Spathorpe rock for the donkey-boy to 
suck on his way home, and so make up for the disuse 
of his cudgel. And with that they would have been 
gone, but their mounting was not quick enough to elude 
the vigilance of the resident photographer, who sud- 
denly bore down upon them from an embankment on 
the other side of which he had been busy preying on 
picnickers, with the cry : " One moment, gentleman. 
One moment, sir. The pick of the daylight. I am at 
your service now, sir. Just half a minute before you 
go. There shall be no waiting, I promise you. We are 
all ready to begin. No delay no pain. A trifle more 
to the left, sir, to get the sunlight on the young lady's 
face. Out of the way, boy, do you want to throw the 
camera over? Don't move, sir. Hold the donkey's nose 
up, miss. There! We can't beat that. One two 
What did I tell you, sir ! " 

Nor did the resident photographer's motions lag be- 
hind his voice. He chassed with his camera right and 
left, as if she were a lady; waltzed and reversed, with 
an astonishing facility and grace, whipping his part- 
ner's legs off the ground and wheeling her slender ex- 
tremities in the most aerial circles. No one would have 
suspected, at first sight, the latent grace of movement 
within him, for, speaking superficially and at random, 
he did not look a lady's man. He seemed rather, one 
might say, a man addicted to deep thinking; a drainer 
of philosophy; one in the habit of employing the glass 

BELLA 175 

of speculation upon the world, to view life through the 
lens of it. An enthusiast and master of the craft his 
acts proclaimed him. At whatever cost to its perma- 
nency the picture was produced, dripping wet first of 
all, and showed magically to the subjects of it against 
the dark interior of the photographer's hat; next mo- 
ment as dry as a cobbler's throat, with a backing of 
varnish, clipped within a gilt-foil frame, and embedded 
in a papier-mache case. And that to his other attain- 
ments the artist added a profound knowledge of human 
nature was evidenced by his reply to the Poet's inquiry 
in respect to remuneration, for he said, rubbing his acid- 
stained hands : " My price is a shilling, sir. But we 
shall not quarrel about that, sir. I leave it to you, sir. 
I trust I know a gentleman and a soldier when I see 
one. I wasn't trained in a high-class studio for nothing. 
Thank you, sir. Thank you, captain. All good luck 
to you and the young lady." 

Time, however he may have dealt with this agile 
artificer of features, has certainly been indulgent (de- 
spite the haste bestowed upon it) to the gilt-edged 
daguerreotype in its papier-mache frame. It shows us 
the writer of " Mnemosyne's Daughters " and those 
larger, deeper volumes that succeeded, seated like 
Silenus on an ass, moved to mirth. His dangling legs 
have almost purchase enough to propel the animal he 
sits on after the fashion of a velocipede. The face, 
broadened with laughter, looks very round and boyish. 
Bella is more grave. Her eyes are plainly fixed upon 
the camera in a gaze of interest and curiosity. She takes 
the occasion very solemnly. Her straw hat, never re- 
claimed since the pancake-tossing on the donkey's back, 
lies at the back of her hair, and makes a nimbus for 
her head. Also she has lent herself to reproduction 
without those little touches of adjustment usual in more 

176 BELLA 

studied portraiture, and the confession of faith of her 
lower attributes is as liberal as St. Athanasius' Creed. 
The round mark at the lower left-hand corner of the 
picture, like a cocoanut, is the shadow of the donkey- 
boy's head. In the background rises the indistinct white 
gable of the Mill, and some hazy figures out of the focus 
of the camera, that encircle the blurred dimensions of 
a wagonette. 


WITH the entrance of Mrs. Dysart into the Poet's 
life, his day assumes three phases: the first 
phase ruled by Bella's self, the second phase where Mrs. 
Dysart and her daughter both take equal share, the third 
phase that in which the elder partner reigns. And if 
we are to count those other moments, daily more rare, 
wherein the Poet enjoys the spacious firmament of his 
own solitude, we may add a fourth. But it is not a 
phase on which, at present, we need to dwell. 

Bella is, of course, the empress absolute of his time, 
commanding it how she wills. From the early hours 
he belongs to her; she takes her sisterhood very seri- 
ously; goes to meet him coming from his bathe before 
breakfast with the twisted towel around his neck, fresh 
as a new-boiled lobster, and sighs she cannot share with 
him this early joy. But Spathorpe countenances no 
foamy mixture of the sexes ; its waves ruthlessly divorce 
husband from wife like a High Court decree, and Mrs. 
Dysart is not of the train of Venus Anadyomene still 
less Leonie, who protests, at Bella's mere suggestion: 
"Ma -foil Oh, la, la! A-t-on jamais vul I am not 
a dolphin, moil If you have envy to swim, take Madame 
Herring with you." So Bella must remain a paddler, 
though dearly she would love to make friends with the 
blue waves and flash her arms out of the water as she 
has seen the Poet do, and churn as he does a wake of 
noisy foam with his feet, and learn from him the secrets 
of natation in a darling bathing-costume (she thinks) 


178 BELLA 

of navy blue, with a sailor collar and a cockle-shell cap ; 
and a white cord girdle, and white or perhaps Cam- 
bridge blue braiding to the trouserettes and tunic, like 
the full-page picture in the double summer number of 
The Frock. 

Breakfast over which is, both with Bella and the 
Poet, no sluggard meal they put to profit without delay 
the two hours or more which will elapse before Mrs. 
Dysart shows her morning's toilet to the sun. 

Perhaps they wander over the Parade, while the 
fresh morning air, not yet chased out of refuge by the 
sun's rays, shelters cool-cheeked beneath the trees, in 
those tunneled leafy walks that lead down by steep 
diagonals to the sea-wall; and the terraces are spa- 
ciously empty, and the colonnade a playing-ground for 
echoes, resounding to their footsteps, and prolongating 
the idle whistlings of programme boys and Parade at- 
tendants; and the young lady is sweeping the most 
cherub clouds of dust over the threshold of the confec- 
tionery shop. She leaves her brush and retires at sight 
of Bella and the Poet, being seen watching for them 
from behind the counter as they go by. And the other 
shops in the shady cloistered arcade are opening their 
shutters. The newsboy lays out his papers. The 
florist's siren with the bedstraw hair freshens up her 
stock for the day with a watering-pot, sprinkling dew 
on yester-morning's blooms, and making ready to be 
as sweet as a buttonhole to gentlemen customers when 
they come. The bilious-looking gentleman with puffy 
eyelids and coal black hair, and flesh too sleek to be 
altogether trustworthy by our insular standards who 
will, before the morning's company arrives, assume a 
red fez cap with a black tassel is dusting his rows 
of Birmingham beads in the Oriental Bazaar, that dif- 
fuses a heavy odor of woods and perfumed wares and 

BELLA 179< 

languid Eastern vices. Madame Crypto's door will be 
locked as yet, for hers is a later and more leisured 
clientele. The great reader of destinies needs only to 
forestall the band by a minute or two, when she will 
sweep rapidly to her studio veiled, like the destinies she 
deals in; so powerfully scented that the waft of her 
is almost as corporeal as her proper person. One quick 
turn of the latch-key, drawn from her mysterious reti- 
cule and deftly applied, and forthwith she disappears 
through the doorway and becomes for the rest of the 
morning an enigma a perfumed presence, in which 
human origin is almost lost, secluded behind Japanese 
screens and shimmering bead curtains, poring over 
palms and changing money with clairvoyant precision. 
Spathorpe has half a dozen of such mystics: palmists 
and horoscope casters, and the more humble phrenolo- 
gists, whose advertisements are borne about the streets 
sandwiched over the shoulders of broken humanity in 
white smocks and doctors' caps and boots more legible 
to read than any palms, whose boards display out- 
stretched hands intersected in every direction with rail- 
way systems of destinies, or the human head magnified 
and mapped out like allotment gardens into a crowded 
area of passions. 

From the Parade, Bella and the Poet extemporize 
lightly over the keyboard of the day, touching a note 
here or a chord there, to thrill their appetite for the 
glorious music potential in it. They dip down onto 
the beach to meet the tide of life that creeps slowly over 
and obscures it from the foreshore: the photographers 
with arched backs, pushing their crazy dark-rooms on 
wheels through the heavy sand; fruit-sellers burdened 
on both arms with creaking baskets; the vendor of bal- 
loons, all blown big and streaming aerially from his 
rude hand-cart, to the four corners of which are affixed 

180 BELLA 

paper windmills, spinning in the breeze created by his 
movement, or flagging when he stops at the hail of 
some breathless purchaser; the ice-cream stalls, re- 
splendent with paint and polished brass, tugged by toil- 
ing Italians, or donkey-drawn; the Punch and Judy 
professor with the fleshy nose that looks as if it had 
been in steep all night, bearing the theater on his back, 
its petticoats rolled up to the hips for ease of handling, 
followed by a hard-faced disillusioned wife hunching 
her left shoulder under the strap of the property box 
with a dirty gum-eyed Toby at her careworn skirts ; and 
the sand artist, with bare feet and upturned trousers, 
carrying the implements of his calling wrapped in dis- 
colored calico, who will appropriate a plot of beach 
some twenty feet by fifteen, and thereon grave the pic- 
ture of a castle, or any other object lending itself to 
treatment by rectangles and straight lines, and will lay 
his cap at the corner, lining uppermost, with three cop- 
pers and a sixpence in it, and sit cross-legged in its 
close vicinity thereafter, defying sunstroke till flooded 
by the tide. 

By this time the veins and arteries of Spathorpe 
are throbbing fast, and life pulses toward the Parade. 
All the most attractive frocks and pretty ankles flit in 
the direction of its turnstiles. The shadowed colonnade, 
where the programme-boys clinked coppers for occupa- 
tion and whistled for company when first Bella and 
the Poet passed by, is thronged with serious pleasure- 
seekers. Scarcely a seat in shelter but already is appro- 
priated; the band pavilion rises out of an unbroken 
parterre of sunshades ; over the steps of the terraces life 
drips in color like an illuminated cascade. One by one 
the notabilities arrive those familiar figures whose pres- 
ence works like leaven in this mass of life, and lifts and 
lightens it. The Powder Monkey, true child of the 

BELLA 181 

Parade, in fancy costume who has been fifteen ever 
'since she was ten with flaxen hair and the most deli- 
cately penciled brows that can be produced with a steady 
hand and a burned almond, and bold black calves like 
inverted champagne quarts squeezed into tiny tan shoes 
of the size that pinched her two years ago. It is an 
open secret that she paints; indeed, she would fail of 
her object if you did not think so. Women paint to put 
back the hands of time; the Powder Monkey paints to 
set them forward. Wherever she goes (she knows all 
the seats for two, and has sat in them) Eton collars and 
adolescent moustaches lurk furtively in the train of her 
skirts and the sound of her pettish footplants. She is 
so ubiquitous upon the Parade, and met with at so many 
corners, you might be sworn she had a sister. Her 
device is a Breton cap, with a crimson tassel that 
coquettes with her left ear as she walks ; her arms, legs, 
sable, razed and rampant ; her motto, Carpe diem. 

And here comes the Admiral, with his telescope 
under his arm to pace the main terrace like a quarter- 
deck and offer his eye-piece to the unwary, enlisting 
them in a conversation the length of which depends 
alone upon their courtesy or endurance. He creeps 
upon strangers as insidiously as a seasickness; is at 
their elbow before they are aware of him; cannot be 
staved off; has all the states of the tide, trawling move- 
ments, last night's temperatures, rainfalls and sun-regis- 
ters, and by all but naval men might be thought one 
of them. For fault of company he will talk to him- 
self, and indeed comes and goes with a shaking of his 
head as if he answered objections or weighed opinions. 
It is said he has out-talked two wives and all his friends, 
and is dependent now on the charity or ignorance of 
strangers being rarely seen in conversation twice with 
the same individual. And here are the Siamese Twins, 

182 BELLA 

who put their identities together as spinsters join 
their savings, to make the most of them; reinforcing 
every point of similarity and drawing recognition from 
a common stock. They walk with the same step, wear 
the same materials, show the same crease down the 
trousers' leg, swing the same walking-stick, display the 
same cuff with the same handkerchief thrust in it, and 
spurn mixed company that may tend to impair the force 
of their resemblance by fortuitous division. 

And here who does not know him? struts the 
Baron, under his silk hat with the wide brim that rakes 
his brow sideways like some piratical craft, exemplify- 
ing in him the best traditions of the worst school of 
French roues. His blue-black moustache strikes off at 
either extremity to a couple of meat-skewers with the 
grease still on them, whose jaunty points he touches 
with a care for his gloves when he comes in sight of 
Beauty. Day by day he prosecutes the Parade; dis- 
tributes his smiles assiduously amongst the Sex as if they 
were circulars; smokes cigars with a long ash that he 
extends from him airily in the cleft of two fingers, tan- 
kidded; and is scented like a valentine. In fine, he is 
inevitable to the Parade, and it is as much the fashion 
to cultivate a speaking acquaintance with the Baron as 
it is to take the waters at Harrogate. Rumor tells as 
many reports of him as she is feigned to have tongues. 
By familiars, who know him the least, he is hailed 
" Monshure," and it is certain he can bow in French 
and say " wee-wee." From time to time he may be seen 
exchanging gallantries with the Powder Monkey, apply- 
ing whispers to her ear as if they were tic-drops; but 
he is more often in the company of his own sex ; youths 
principally, who spin walking-sticks to the danger of 
the Parade, and converge attentive heads to the Baron's 
perfumed disclosures. 

BELLA 183 

Here come, too, the bandsmen in solemn black, with 
top hats made rusty by the sea and sun, and trousers 
elbowed with much sitting, who mount the kiosk with- 
out external joy, like the members of a coroner's jury. 
The double bass is unhearsed from his funereal wrap- 
pings; the kettle-drums are tapped and tuned; one by- 
one the oboe and the clarinet, the plaintive flute and 
snoring bassoon fill the band-stand with menagerie noises 
that draw marveling childhood up the steps to hook its 
nose upon the wooden wicket. 


AT eleven o'clock, or very little later, comes the 
portly figure of Herr Toots across the sun space 
of the band square, to the sound of desultory applause 
and takes his seat on the high-cushioned stool with a 
bow as subdued as the greeting. The peremptory rap 
of his baton on the desk subjugates at length these wild- 
beast noises though they betray half a disposition to 
contest his rule. Its imperious beat imposes time upon 
the day. With the first ebullient splash of music that 
foams over the band-stand like champagne over the bottle 
neck, intoxicating the sunlight, the Spathorpe day be- 
gins. The Parade wakens instantaneously to life and 
movement. Folly, in this effervescent element of music, 
disports itself like wit in wine; costumes vie audaciously 
with each other for supremacy as if they were bon mots 
across the goblet. While the music lasts, during these 
two hours of self-display, the Parade is a world of its 
own, governed by its own laws, subject to nothing but 
its own decrees. In this secluded life of the Parade, 
where things must be mainly judged according to pre- 
tentions, there are rewards and prizes corresponding to 
those obtainable in the outer world, and so long as the 
band is here to play, and there is this shifting company 
held together in bond of community by mutual ignorance 
of one another, they have a value which encourages 
competition and imposture. Mortals who can command 
no reputation in the larger world by wit may flourish 
here on the lack of it, and acquire a sort of bastard 


BELLA 185 

fame by any folly sufficiently accentuated to be made 
familiar. For since in this world publicity is miscon- 
ceived for greatness, and more worshiped ; and the popu- 
larity of a face is accepted for token of a mind's merit, 
it follows that all who can succeed in foisting their 
features on the notice of the Parade, enjoy a spurious 
celebrity and are lifted above the common height on 
the glances of their kind. For such is the attraction 
of publicity over the human mind that those who cannot 
win it for themselves will run after it in others, and no 
degree of the quality is so adulterate and despicable but 
seems worthy of pursuit by some. The very niggers 
that rap their banjoes and crack their cleavers beneath 
the concave sea-wall of the Parade for ha'pence or 
what you will, have their retinue of admirers to pluck 
at the skirts of their publicity and seek the gratification 
of a share in it. As for those mysterious individuals 
in the sombrero hats and multifold cloaks and smoked 
glasses who make music below the balconies of the 
Esplanade and in the better quarters of the town, and 
suffer it to be suspected they are noblemen in disguise 
so that threepence in silver seems the smallest offer- 
ing self-respect may drop into their cockle-shell they 
hold, for this season at least, a perfect court around 
the precincts of the piano when their afternoon session 
is over, and have the choice of as many infatuated 
fingers as they care to squeeze. 

Most of their glamor leaves them at a later epoch 
along with him who sang the tenor lyrics to the first 
floors, in a strangulated voice as if the organ were 
wrapped in a wet compress. And even before their 
treasurer's defection the nimbus of mystery over these 
musicians' brows was already half erased. They had 
begun to walk abroad without their cloaks, and there 
was not enough mystery about their trousers' knees to 

186 BELLA 

sustain illusion and keep alive the speculative spirit ; and 
they discarded their smoked glasses and showed their 
eyes like ordinary men, and the moment the world saw 
who they really were, it tired of them. For to earn the 
recognition of Spathorpe and of the Parade, intensely 
one must be known, or not at all. If you bring a fame 
already manufactured, it will pass current here, and you 
shall receive much worship. But if you have not this, 
then you were best to begin at the foot of the ladder, 
beknown of none, for the world is prepared to worship 
two things the second, and chiefest, being what it does 
not understand. For which reason it is seldom that any 
Spathorpe-made reputation survives a second season. So 
long as it keep clear of contact with hard realities it may 
soar above the heads like a soap-bubble, but if it once 
touch ground of fact, it bursts. Much the same qualities 
gain with the Parade as win the outer world. Moderation 
is fatal ; the prize goes to the importunate rather than the 
deserving on the principle that one gives alms to ob- 
stinate mendicancy to be rid of it. Beauty is, of course, 
her own advocate. She speaks most languages, like 
money, and needs no herald. If you have not beauty, 
and your coat-of-arms is blazoned with no public or 
acknowledged merit, then you must needs have recourse 
to effrontery or folly; outstrip the fashion, or cultivate 
a style. In follies, as in talents, plurality is no ad- 
vantage. Rather reiterate one, of whichsoever kind, 
than confuse with many. Teach the Parade to know 
you, as the bird fancier teaches tunes to a bullfinch, 
by endless repetition. If your forte be melancholy, be 
melancholy all the while. If you aspire to reach fame 
through your clothes, look that you do not change these 
too recklessly, for fear identity be lost. Remember, too, 
the calls on Spathorpe's notice. The Parade is a hive 
of buzzing rivalries. Avoid complexity, that tends to 

BELLA 187 

split its mass and so disperse itself. Let your note be 
plain and peremptory that can carry from one end of 
the Parade to the other, and be distinguished as far 
away as the bridge turnstile. With such instructions 
and the natural aids that impudence may lend you you 
may aspire in a week to be one of the pillars of the 
Parade; to constitute yourself as much a part of the 
fabric of its life to the life that watches, as the band- 
stand or view-tower, or the blue sea that brims up to 
its walls. 


AND though, perhaps, the Parade is more a vantage 
ground for satire than for poesy, the Poet suc- 
cumbs in company to its infection, and catches some 
measure of the sweet disease endemic within its walls. 
No pleasure, not altogether base, but has, when ar- 
raigned, an argument for its existence. If life run shal- 
low here and in the hierarchy of moods the prattling 
of the brook has its place and moment no less than the 
deep-hearted river, or the fathomless sea it flows to 
pretty music, and the very clearness of its current, 
purling so glassily over human foibles and magnifying 
and caressing them with its ripples, seems to cleanse 
folly like a child's face, and show it too transparent to 
be vile. Each morning, after those earlier rambles, the 
Poet is to be found upon the Parade with Mrs. Dysart 
and her daughter, and Spathorpe learns the hour to look 
for them. Somewhere about the fourth number on the 
band-stand, they may be seen coming into sunlight down 
the broad steps of the Italian Terrace ; and once during 
the morning, rarely more, the three will make the circuit 
of the Promenade. 

Mostly they are unobtrusive sitters apart, specta- 
tors of the pageant from the terrace, looking down upon 
its motions out of this detached companionship, like 
the occupants of a box at a masquerade. Mrs. Dysart 
subscribes to the fictions of the place in so far as to 
come provided with a book, which the Poet carries, 
but its pages are seldom opened save by the breeze, or 


BELLA 189 

when Bella's fingers ruffle them. To the sound of the 
tinkling band and the sight of the outspread bay, and 
the ceaseless movements of the promenaders at their 
feet, they sit and talk and make common fund of 

And yet, if they seem to take no part in the life they 
look at, they form, of the life itself, no inconsiderable 
feature, and are noted by many more than they note. 
Even their aloofness constitutes a sort of eminence that 
renders them the more conspicuous when seen, and, 
besides, such beauty as Mrs. Dysart has, needs a better 
bushel than mere retirements for its effective hiding. 
Her gowns alone command attention; there are none 
quite such upon the Parade, and well they repay the 
surreptitious visits from aspiring students of style, who 
make it in their way to traverse the terrace where she 
sits, for a closer sight of them. And if it be, as some 
of her gender assert, they are too elegant for the 
Parade, this is a contention for women rather than men. 
The view of the wearer's self, as expressed to her 
daughter, and by her daughter transmitted to the Poet, 
is to the effect that " I think your mamma must dis- 
continue the Parade, Bella, and be an invalid again. It 
is so much simpler and economical. She has nothing in 
the world to wear." 

By the third day, this beautiful woman with her 
fascinating daughter, and the slender smooth-skinned 
boy who is obviously neither son nor husband, live in 
the beams of Spathorpe's eye. Their comings and their 
goings are as much noted as the weather. If for a 
reason though the reason is rare they fail to keep 
their public tryst upon the terrace, the Parade feels the 
absence of them, and there are many to wonder where 
they are, and why. In time, and that but a short matter 
of days, they come to typify. the Parade, to stand a sort 

190 BELLA 

of emblem for this composite summer life that quickens 
Spathorpe's veins each season with new blood more 
vital than its own. The Poet's name, though on fame's 
threshold as himself on manhood's, acquires a local 
luster. His volumes are shown on a glass shelf at the 
fashionable bookseller's in Margaret Street, where the 
perfumed stationery is, under a special label; and at 
the Castle Library in Hillborough; and Bella has to be 
trained not to pluck his sleeve when they pass by, or 
exclaim : " See ! There they are again. O my ! I be- 
lieve one of them's gone. Don't they look lovely ! " and 
copies find their way upon the Parade to the Poet's em- 
barrassment and Bella's delight, who loves to count 
them and act gatekeeper to the Poet's glory. 

Now and again mysterious paper parcels are left for 
the Poet at his rooms, that, being undone, declare them- 
selves autograph albums long inspired with a secret pas- 
sion for his name. The faintly scented missive with 
which they are accompanied is too scrupulously penned 
and punctuated to be extempore, and is, in all probability, 
the last of a tragic family of half a dozen all come to 
a violent end but this. Two or three aspirants to his 
favor prosecute their plea in person. They are flushed 
and desperate for though he does not know, the assault 
has been maintained a whole morning without success, 
and this is its last sally. It attacks him in the rear, 
for frustrated purpose dares no longer to essay his eye. 
He hears his own name, very breathless, as if it had 
been running after him a mile or more, and turns to 
discover an album palpitating in the vicinity of his waist- 
coat. Apology and petition are so eager and hopelessly 
involved that they impede each other like the joint con- 
testants in a three-legged race. But their purpose is 
divined, the smile rendered, the name inscribed. From 
the petitioner's point of view the episode is a failure. 

BELLA 191 

Too late she recovers composure to realize a gorgeous 
opportunity lost, the questions unasked, the tributes she 
had not breath to pay. She retires hot with speculation 
as to what the Poet must think of her and would be 
consoled little to learn that he does not think of her at 
all but at least she has the fruit of her daring, that 
makes up to pride what it has lost in self-possession, 
and she goes back to read " Mnemosyne's Daughters," 
while the memory of the Poet's smile intoxicates her. 
All which serves to indicate his fame. 

The picture postcard lies yet at this date beneath 
a heap of innovations in the lap of Fortune, unbestowed, 
so this phase of glory is denied. Views of Spathorpe 
are still sold in albums that extend like concertinas when 
opened, and smell of varnish; or in photographs 
mounted on glass, with beveled plush frames; or in 
sheets of notepaper headed with formal engravings of 
the Castle and Parade these latter generally depicting 
a Spathorpe long anterior to Bella's time, when the 
pier was but a jetty, and the Parade of wood; and the 
ladies shown in the postilion chaises wore skirts like the 
half -inflated balloon that Bella has seen at the Crystal 
Palace ; so monstrous that the whole chaise is smothered 
under flounces, and the postilion is pictured with his 
fingers to his head in perplexity as to his own bestowal. 
But if the picture postcard is unavailable as a vehicle 
for fame, and this great continent of popularity still 
lacks its Columbus, the Poet's face is honorably dis- 
played as a photograph at one shilling, in company with 
divines in lawn sleeves, and politicians, and stage 
beauties whose portraits prove that teeth preceded the 
picture postcard, and the dental smile was probably 
known, in some form or other, to the ancients. 

Of the Poet's fame, too, and Mrs. Dysart's beauty, 
we have further illustration; for the honor of a sitting 

192 BELLA 

from each is solicited in the most courtly letters, punc- 
tiliously varied, by the great Sonoro, whose photo- 
graphic galleries are equipped at this period of his 
heyday with portraitists and retouchers and miniature 
painters brought down from London during the season 
to cope with the daily crowd of fashion which streams 
noiselessly over the luxurious three-pile carpets, and 
makes a subdued bee-hive hubbub in the spacious recep- 
tion-rooms, and is reduced and enlarged and vignetted 
and sepia-ed and enameled and crayoned and water- 
colored and oiled in every pose known to the camera. 
To be portrayed by Sonoro is a social necessity; to be 
displayed in his show case as much an aspiration here 
as to be presented at court. Not a bosom that rises 
and falls beneath his posing but throbs with ambition 
to be admitted to the drawing-room of his elect; and 
it is even said that gold in certain cases forms the basis 
of admission to his frames which is the more credible 
since this basis is by no means always beauty while 
rumor has it that more than one eligible daughter has 
been married direct from Sonoro's show case. 

Conceive then the fame that can reach this much- 
sought man in the fastness of his studio, and make him 
solicit who is more used to be solicited, conceding sit- 
tings with almost the condescension for favors, as if 
each one of the hundreds granted came from the margin 
of a clemency already overtaxed. Fame like this is 
fame indeed. Mrs. Dysart is regally received, with 
fruit and wine and biscuits in her retiring-room; for 
the great Sonoro has the true traditions and the spacious 
manner; his deference is so profound as to transcend 
itself and attain somewhat the degree of grandeur. 
When he rubs his palms together they suggest a simile 
nobler than soap. Infinite pains and courtesy are ex- 
pended on his favored sitters, dry-plates lavished, dark- 

BELLA 193 

slides indefatigably renewed by the silent boy in but- 
tons. Nor do results fail to justify the care. Presently 
Sonoro's show-cases bloom with Mrs. Dysart's beauty. 
Heads of rank are removed to make room for it, as if 
they threatened a throne. Everywhere in Spathorpe, 
beneath the gilding of Sonoro's name, Mrs. Dysart's 
semblance confronts the eye, in all species, from en- 
largements in vandyke brown to painted miniatures on 
ivory. For awhile her pictorial sway is absolute. The 
turn of her head becomes a tyranny, imposed on hun- 
dreds of subject-feminines, from fluttering school-girls 
who change color under the lens as if it were a suitor's 
eye, to neckless dowagers who swell in the face the 
moment the cap is off, and breathe, at each opera- 
tion, like a 'bus horse mounting Ludgate Hill. Bella's 
features, too, are made scarcely less current than Mrs. 
Dysart's, and her sweet and open countenance and 
steadfast gaze acclaims the model for her age and sex. 
In one picture mother and daughter are shown to- 
gether. Bella's arms encircle Mrs. Dysart's neck, her 
cheek pressed flat against her mother's own. The girl's 
gray eyes, fixed solemnly on the camera, seem to attest 
her proprietory pride in this object of her caress, and 
to proclaim her mother's virtue to the world. Mrs. 
Dysart's eyes, a little lowered, and deflected to rest upon 
her daughter's chin, reveal the half-smiling indulgent 
look which the Poet has such daily opportunities to note 
in them. His own portrait figures judiciously with 
these two, and accounts with theirs for one of the 
mornings when the Parade kept watch for them in 


WITH the blazing of the national anthem the first 
act of the Poet's day comes to a close. Life, ani- 
mated with a single purpose, pours homeward through 
the narrow channels of the Parade like the last sands 
that race through the neck of an hour-glass. The 
ratchets of the turnstiles click like the sewing-machines 
of a Hebrew tailor on Sunday. The trams glide up 
and down the cliff; the viaduct makes subdued thunder 
beneath the busy trampling of feet. The Powder Mon- 
key disbands her retinue of Eton collars, and picks 
her way to the remote north. The Baron, wiping his 
eyes on an inflamed silk handkerchief, balances his 
umbrella by the waist and sucks cachous in the direction 
of the gasworks. The Admiral, shaking his head and 
prolonging in imagination the discourse with his latest 
victim, betakes himself toward the town. Twice a day 
this life is thus assembled and dispersed, articulated, 
member by member like the illusionist's skeleton, into 
a vitalized unity, and re-anatomized at a moment. 

To the second act of the Poet's day belong those 
wandering excursions with Bella, already noted ; the ride 
to Colbeck Mill, or roamings in the old town, or rambles 
around the gray stones and ruins of the Castle, where 
the sun falls fiercely hot upon these antique walls, and 
casts dank and dungeon-like shades behind them, and 
beneath the massy archways, in which the nostril re- 
lieved from the scorching sunlight detects the odor 
of nettle and moist weeds, fed by some unseen oozings 


BELLA 195 

in the soil. Or they bend their steps to the harbor, and 
seek a never-failing entertainment on the piers, peering 
into the reverberating blackness of the pontoon, where 
figures dim to extinction by contrast with the vivid outer 
sunlight play hissing hoses over the flooded floor space, 
and into echoing corners, to asperge the traces of this 
morning's sales. Or they gaze their way through the 
formidable stacks of reeking fish-boxes and pyramids 
of barrels that cumber the piers, dripping uncontrollable 
tears to their base, and filling the unequal rock with 
pools of brine. Fish-scales attach everywhere, to every- 
thing. Bella finds them on her shoes after a whole 
afternoon's walking; they float in stagnant bilge- water, 
and spangle ropes, and glisten, sun-dried, on the tarry 
woodwork, and are trodden to the hot stones like confetti 
after a night's carnival. 

But then, what is not here to be gazed at and lend 
wonder to the eye that looks? The lighthouse, gleam- 
ing clear as a lantern slide against the deep blue sky; 
the busy boats that scull with reckless haste from pier 
to pier, churning oily convolutions in the water in their 
wake, that writhe like mocking laughter; the trawlers 
that line the harbor and rise and sink with the regularity 
of bosoms, creaking at their cables, and grinding their 
woven fenders against the revetment. In the intimate 
sight of all these busy wonders in their close and per- 
sonal company, so to speak Bella's tongue is less the 
active organ we have known it on the Poet's balcony. To 
ask questions in presence of the marvels looked at savors 
a sort of impoliteness. Speech, for the nonce, is trans- 
muted into sight, and adds its eloquence to her eyes. She 
vents O my's, and squeezes the Poet's arm, but it will not 
be till later that her lips shall reconstruct a wordy model 
of this they view, for memory to delight in. 

For a space she holds the Poet whilst they watch 

196 BELLA 

the rows of piscatorial boyhood on its belly by the 
lighthouse, lying amid blood-stained knives and disem- 
boweled herrings, with fierce eyes fixed upon the leaded 
hook, lost to sight in the pallid green of the water below. 
Truth to tell, Bella looks as filled with tremulant eager- 
ness as any of them, wondering what the water will 
reveal, and begging the Poet to hold her tight while 
she peeps over the pier's edge until she sees the fearful 
exultation of conquest that makes fishing look fiendish, 
and kills her pleasure on the spot as she follows that 
bar of captive supple silver, drawn foot by foot to the 
cruel visage above. At that she clings to the Poet's arm 
in protest and bursts into voluble declamation against 
the wanton murder called Sport. 

" Oh, come away, Roo ! Let's come away. I hate 
fishing and boys that fish and kill things. It's cruel and 
wicked and wrong, and I should be glad if they fell in. 
No, not glad. But not a bit sorry, so long as they 
weren't drowned. They have no right to kill anything 
when the sun is shining, and everything looks so bright 
and happy have they ? " 

And the Poet, who likes this slaughter of the finny 
innocents as little as Bella's self, says : " No, Mother 
Hubbard " (that is the name by which he sometimes 
calls her), and his heart is glad to find in one so dear 
to him a sympathy so sympathetic to his own, and they 
abstain from lending cruelty the encouragement of so 
much as a glance for prowess is stimulated by every 
onlooker but go to view their old friend Admiral 
Collingwood, who is the ancient paddle-steamer throb- 
bing alongside the lighthouse pier that dingy, weather- 
beaten veteran whose respiratory organs are a battle- 
ground for bronchitis, and whose day for long distances 
is done, but who plows the sea for short trips with 
placards on his bridge and funnel, equal in spirit to as 

BELLA 197 

many passengers as board him. Bella and the Poet take 
two voyages with this battered mariner, who exudes 
steam and oil from all his heated pores, and they see 
Spathorpe strung out along the coast line like a necklet, 
looking oh! so flat and low-down in the water, as if 
a wave might swallow it. They have their own band 
on board, a fiddle, a cornet and a harp, that diffuse hot 
music soaked in engine grease most dreadful fare for 
dubious stomachs and more people lean over the boat's 
side than ever when the hat goes around. Bella is high 
up with the Poet on the bridge, where the bell is that 
the Captain takes hold of by a string around its tongue 
and shakes as if he meant to wring its head off. She 
has a glorious sinking beneath her blouse, mingled with 
a sustaining pride, and believes on land she could 
undertake a long voyage without being sick. The sense 
of comradeship is stirred by the shared element of 
watery peril; they know each other better, love each 
other more, when they touch the solid substance of the 
pier again, that is not so solid, after all, on their return 
(Bella notices) as when they left it, but seems to mock 
the movements of the ancient Admiral Collingwood, and 
to rise and fall beneath their feet with an insidious 
lung-like motion as if the stones were fluid, somewhat 
trying to the knees. 

But oh! the joy to take the Poet by the arm and find 
here a steadfastness that wavers not, to hold him thus 
and look the world of glances in the eye, and say, by 
glance exchanged : " This is my brother, that writes all 
those lovely poems; that takes me voyages upon the 
water, and that buys me chocolates and pop-corn. Don't 
you wish you had a brother like this ? O my ! " 

And then, perhaps, ensues the early tea in the shel- 
tered green garden at Cromwell Lodge, where the 
unflagging fountain dances still to its own music; and 

198 BELLA 

the long drive that all three take in the mellow sunlight 
before dinner, through the deep fringing woods and 
radiant high places of Spathorpe's loveliness, from 
whence far below Spathorpe is to be seen flushed 
and glorious; all her distant bricks and bristling chim- 
neys softened and transmuted into the gleaming sub- 
stance of a goddess' flesh, lit less by the sunbeams that 
shine on her than by her own serene and luminous 
smile. The twilight falls about them on their return, 
that soft, cool-cheeked twilight that kisses all things 
with its affectionate and endearing lips, and lays its 
caressive arms about them just as Bella does when she 
clasps her mother's neck. Other carriages are on the 
road with theirs, and many more have writ their traces 
in the dust, and left the fine impalpable powder of their 
passage suspended in the hazy air, to be precipitated by 
the later dews. But there are, thank Heaven, no ruth- 
less motor-cars as yet to choke the hedgerows and blight 
the grass, tearing along the highways before the wake 
of wrathful dust that rolls in pursuit of them like a 
giant roused, or a swift and devastating prairie fire. 
Nor has Time brought forth as yet the motor char-a- 
bancs, that noisy monster that later is to ravage all these 
roads, blasting the herbage with its breath. They meet 
or overtake no worse than ambling four-horse wagon- 
ettes, filled sometimes wtih psalmodists and songsters, 
and the trumpeting coaches that ply between Spathorpe 
and the places around. 

And thereafter comes the evening and her many 
lights by which the third act of the Poet's day is played. 
He dines and knows it more frequently than pru- 
dently at Cromwell Lodge, and is forever making resolu- 
tions that he cannot keep, and promises he must for- 
swear. He tells Mrs. Dysart her hospitality shall be 
no more abused. " I am growing as tedious as a stale 

BELLA 199 

quotation ! " he says, and vows that the man who can 
never be counted on to decline an invitation is a menace 
to society. And yet, what avails all this when Mrs. 
Dysart pours her solvent smile upon his words out of 
the phials of her violet-gray eyes, telling him : " I see 
you are tired of us, Mr. Brandor ! " and Bella cries 
" No, no ! He's not tired of us a bit. Are you, Roo ? 
He's only being polite. And of course he'll come. O 
my ! He must come. I shall run to Mrs. Herring's and 
fetch him if he doesn't. And then mamma will sing 
and whistle for us after dinner." 

So, between the mature invitation that the Poet feels 
he should decline, and the childish espousal of it that 
takes away refusal's ground, the Poet succumbs. 

Spathorpe sees this trio at the play in the dim stage 
box at the Desmond, and the older dimmer box still at 
the Queen, on whose cushioned balcony Bella claps her 
rapturous hands together and spills the clearest, dearest 
laughter into the auditorium, over the heads of the or- 
chestra, so that they look up with reflected smiles, and 
even the players themselves cast an occasional glance of 
disciplined amusement toward this enthusiastic spectator 
who lavishes her plaudits on their skill, and can be heard 
to extol them to the two more shadowy occupants of the 
box behind her : " O my ! Isn't that one splendid. I 
love her ! Don't you ? " 

The circus Ah! that betrays the flight of time, for 
the old Hippodrome in Marine Street has been defunct 
more years than lie on the fingers of both hands the 
circus sees them after dinner, too. Bella loves the smell 
of sawdust and the pungent odor of the stable that fills 
the amphitheater with an atmosphere of expectation, and 
clings to the very cushions; and the proud piebald and 
skewbald horses, and all that made this wondrous en- 
tertainment what it was. When the painted clown, pur- 

200 BELLA 

sued by the irate ringmaster, leaped into the fauteuils 
and took refuge at Bella's feet, what more delightful 
than her own delight? Each item in turn she likes the 
best, and ends by liking all alike, fearful of the least 
disloyalty to things once loved. 

The Parade knows them not by artificial light, save 
when the glasses are leveled at them in the tiny Terrace 
Theater; or, for Bella's sake, the Poet and Mrs. Dysart 
go down to view the fireworks on a gala night, and 
breathe smoke and sulphur, and crane their necks in 
company with all the crowd to watch the flight of 
whistling rockets whole battalions at a time, like 
comets gone mad; and stare fascinated at a Parade lit 
up with red fire into an inferno, thronged with the con- 
torted faces of the damned; and lend their voices to the 
swelling Oh! of admiration that goes up, in tribute to 
the burst of shooting stars, plunging headlong, and of 
every color, to the sea out of whose waters a second 
cluster, scarcely less vivid, springs up to meet them, and 
for awhile the boats scattered about the bay live in a 
lurid realm of fire, and the Poet and Mrs. Dysart both 
are reminded of Naples under the glow of vomiting 
Vesuvius. Out upon the beach, where the ice-cream 
vans and comestible vendors urge their trade, there are 
as many upturned faces as on the Parade, changing their 
hues like chameleons beneath the modulation of colored 
lights, from red to vivid blue, and orange, and the ghost- 
liest of greens. 

From time to time unlooked-for mortars are ex- 
ploded, shaking the cliff and startling an exclamation 
from the unprepared crowd. The bombardment of 
Alexandria brings all to a close; the Parade blazes fire 
and belches smoke; Spathorpe shudders; the very sky 
seems throbbing like a beaten drum; one might expect 
to find the Castle prostrate in the morning. After this 

BELLA 201 

life seems as empty as a rocket case; the lights of 
Spathorpe dull, and the bay an abyss of blackness, made 
only sinister by the harbor gleams that writhe their 
serpent course across it. The breeze-blown gas jets that 
outline the Parade look as if half-lowered already for 
extinction. Nothing remains but smoke and the smell 
of smoldering cartridge-paper. The Parade attendants 
are prompt to quench the candles in the Chinese lan- 
terns, and blot out, one after the other, the fairy lights 
that twinkle around the parterres and sloping lawns. 

Nothing remains, that is, for the Parade, but to close 
its blinking eyes and go to sleep behind its locked turn- 
stiles, lulled by the sea, and shake off the evidences of 
this night's exuberance before the morrow. But the 
Poet's act is not concluded yet. The night is young 
no more, indeed, than at the tenth hour, for Spathorpe 
(if at this date she dissipates at all) dissipates behind 
her blinds, and leads a public life that school-girls may 
be ruled by. The Poet in courtesy must see his charges 
home; in courtesy at the studded door must take his 
leave of them; in courtesy plead: No, no; he must 
not think of it! and enter thereupon, in courtesy, too, 
because Bella holds his arm captive and will not let him 
go, and Mrs. Dysart smiles extenuation of the brig- 
andage, albeit, perhaps, she says : " Come, Bella ! We 
must not keep Mr. Brandor from his friends." " He 
has no friends," says Bella promptly, " but us!" 
" Surely, I think he must have," Mrs. Dysart returns, 
with her smile upon the Poet, and Bella cries : " No, no, 
he hasn't. Have you, Roo! We're his only friends in 

And then for what reply can even a Poet make to 

this? he enters with them, and helps to unwind Mrs. 

Dysart's bare white shoulders from their wraps, and 

they pass into the drawing-room, that is softly lit by 


202 BELLA 

candles under amber shades, with candles gleaming on 
the polished desk of the piano, and a standard lamp 
communing with its own image in the undraped glass 
of the garden window. Here the coffee is brought 
for their dinner has been sacrificed to pyrotechnics 
with a cup of boiled milk for Bella; and Bella may sit 
up, by special license, until half past ten. But before 
Bella goes to bed indeed, she vows, save this, she will 
not go; albeit the dire threat on Bella's lips has as 
little terror as water distilled, since it is sure Bella has 
no battery of scowls and tears and high-pitched cries 
and kicking heels to enforce the ultimatum, but will 
go to bed as obediently as the stars when she is bid 
before Bella does this, her mother must seat herself 
at the piano beneath the discreet light of the shaded 
candles, that show a breast and neck as white, or nearly, 
as the keys she plays on, and make music for her guest 
and daughter, sometimes singing, sometimes playing, 
sometimes for she is a skilled siffleuse whistling 
aeolian melodies to her own accompaniment. 

These moments furnish ample occupation for the 
Poet's eyes and ears. He is all listener and looker-on, 
seated where he can catch the play of light and animation 
on the mobile face, and follow the graceful motions of 
her wrists and fingers, and drink in the music that flows 
from these and from his hostess' lips. If there be no 
great depth in Mrs. Dysart's music, there is feeling. 
It has a charm as cultured and as gracious as her smile. 
Her finger is femininely fluent; never forceful; her 
yoice unstrained. She sings as if her lips were con- 
scious of no listeners, but minister to her unattended 
ear, and never forces her voice to hard conclusions. Her 
whistling is infinitely subdued, with an ethereal har- 
monic quality not unlike the musical glasses that Bella 
and the Poet hear played at the aquarium by the young 

BELLA 203 

lady in the sequined frock, with wet fingers. She 
whistles equally on an indrawn or outblown breath, 
executing the softest and most bird-like of trills ; her lips 
thoughtfully pursed as if she blew on the meditative 
pipe in Arcady. 

At half past ten the siffleuse lets fall her white 
fingers from the keyboard into the shadow of her lap 
and looks at Bella. " O my ! Yes. I know ! " says 
Bella, and displays as flexible and as beauteous obe- 
dience as her mother's music. She goes to the piano, 
puts her arms about her mother's neck, and rocks her- 
self awhile as if composing her spirit for slumber, 
bestowing kisses upon this expansive whiteness with 
almost the reverence and profusion of a lover. And 
to the Poet, too, she comes and tenders her lips, voluble 
with kisses and projects for the morrow. And so, with 
many good-nights and tokens blown to both from her 
finger-ends, she takes her leave surely, to the Poet's 
thinking, the dearest, sweetest, most lovable daughter 
on this side of the stars. 


AND then, by right, the Poet should take his leave, 
too, and does, indeed, make some profession of 
doing so, for he rises to his feet with a prefatory 
" Well ! " and smoothes the sitting-crumple from his 
vest, as though for departure. Mrs. Dysart's eyes are 
drawn from the piano by the movement. 

"You are not going?" 

" It is half past ten." 

" But I was not asking the time." 

" Unfortunately, Time does not wait to be asked ! " 

" How unkind of you ! You might as well reproach 
a woman with her age as with the hours spent in her 
company." She makes a mock-indignant glissando with 
her fingers, and bites her lip. 

"Ah! That is unfair. Consider me rather like the 
sun-dial that notes only the shining hours Horas non 
numero sed serenas. Besides, I must remember the 
wrath of ^sculapius. What will happen if your pulse 
tells tales to-morrow ? " 

"Always suspect a man when he begins to be con- 
siderate. You talk of my health. I see you are dying 
to go." 

"On the contrary." 

"And doubly suspect the man that denies, for in 
these days the only thing worth denying is truth." As 
she smiles and talks, her right hand toys with the piano- 
forte keys ; soon the left joins it in the bass. She breaks 
off with a jet of laughter, saying : " Well, I suppose I 


BELLA 205 

must not keep you. You have had enough music for 
to-night." He protests : " No, no," and she laughs, and 
her fingers coquette with the keys once more, and the 
topic of departure melts away in mere words and 
laughter, and is no more thought or talked about till 

And though Bella is the force that binds these two 
together ; hers the fingers that weave them into this close 
garland of friendship, her presence, curiously, acts like 
a preservative to keep their friendship what it was. 
With her departure some subtle ingredient in the air 
at once seems gone ; some childish freshening factor that 
plays upon looks and speech like the breeze through a 
dairy window, sweetening and cooling all within. When 
she bids good-night and leaves them with her kisses, 
the room grows appreciably warmer for her absence. 
The Poet hears the muffled beat of his own heart. 
There is a current in the air that might issue from the 
palpitation of flesh. Words and looks and motions are 
charged with a quality unknown before. Smiles meet 
smiles as if they were affinities. Words go hooded, and 
conceal sometimes their features. Nor does it take the 
Poet very long to see what sort of precipice it is on 
which his friendship treads. 

Here is a woman whom, for the mere consenting, he 
could desperately love. The act, at this elevation of 
the feelings, is as easy, and in a sense the impulse as 
imperative as that that urges man to cast himself from a 
height. It magnetizes him. He has to summon all his 
will, call all his prudence to his aid, to keep his feelings 
from too violent maturity. Moments there are when 
scarcely the thickness of glass seems between this woman 
and himself. Nay ! not so much, for glass gives passage 
to no flesh-warmed perfumes, no intoxicating vapors that 
mount through the nostrils from a woman's hair and 

206 BELLA 

beauteous shoulders to the brain like curled incense to 
fill the raptured head-piece of a snuffing deity. Here is 
eternal beauty, molded in a woman's form, to satisfy a 
Poet's every sense, and make his heart disquiet and 
hungry. At times, when by her elbow he turns the pages 
of some music that she reads, the warmth of her blood, 
made warmer still by what she plays, reaches and invests 
him like a mist. His heart, half suffocated in fragrance 
and its own desires, rises in it the more because he 
thinks (or is he, rather, sure?) this woman's sympathies 
reciprocate his own, that but a tissue parts them, that 
one word too many, one smile too much, one move across 
the borderland, one step beyond the precipice's edge 
whose seductive dangers yawn and beckon, and Fate's 
momentous curtain must be rent. 

All love, as countless poets since the first flushed 
dawn of it have sung, is a madness, mild or furied, 
according to the degree; and yet the madness is not 
such, nor man's fury so, but that it waits upon his 
reason and draws its final sanction from his will. Some 
prudence stronger than the passion that shakes it, holds 
the Poet's turbulence in check; reason trembles and still 
stands firm. Where he most admires, he is most cau- 
tious; where he is most subject, he rules most regally; 
resistance by some high process seems proportioned to 
temptation. He is no anchorite, God wot! The hand 
that wrote " Mnemosyne's Daughters " and other verse, 
is fed with blood as generous as Falernian wine; he 
needs no other vintage to warm his veins and kindle 
his soulful self to strike the lyre of love. And does his 
harp demand a better theme than this? Why, if 
pride can move him, and pride moves many a lover, 
there is scarce a man in Spathorpe that sees or once 
has seen him with Mrs. Dysart but covets him the com- 
pany of her, by sight alone; that has no knowledge of 

BELLA 207 

that choir of graces seated around the throne of her 
beauty the fascination of her voice, the cadence of her 
speech, the wit so delicate and volatile that lends its 
fragrance to her words, the culture of her mind and 
hands, the music she plays, the songs she sings. 

Had she all these and less of beauty, or all her beauty 
and less of these, still her accomplishments or person 
would make her precious ; but in their union she stands 
constituted a woman rare. He realizes and admits it. He 
is a worshiper in heart, though not of knee an almost 
convert that thrills for the altar and yet fears the font. 
Where is his reason for this? In what remote recesses 
of his mind does this lie hid that sends its couriers to 
cry caution along all the highways of his blood, whis- 
pering its warning in his ear when his heart wavers? 

It is the question he asks himself during these latter 
days, or rather, leaves wilfully ignored, for man cannot 
always muster requisite resolve to sift the tangle in his 
mind, any more than woman can to sort her work- 
basket, however much, in heart, each feels the duty call. 
Little more than a fortnight has elapsed, barely three 
weeks, since the Poet lay upon the sand and looked his 
first on Bella Dysart. But in Spathorpe, this sunny 
forcing-house of pleasure and emotions, all things ma- 
ture amain. Life, knowing itself ephemeral, makes the 
most of its fugitive hours, as gnats do of sunlit mo- 
ments, and by its activities lends a spurious enlargement 
to the day. The seed of friendship, here, germinates 
quickly, and is as quickly withered, for all things of 
accelerated growth tend to a weakness in their nature. 
Much more do the affections grow beneath the care of 
such a gardener as Bella. Life, indeed, has blossomed 
in this magic space of time; a richer, sweeter perfume 
fills it, like the hawthorn scent in spring. Bella blows 
through the byways of his being like a welcome breeze 

208 BELLA 

from the sea, a constant freshening breath. Anon, the 
perfumed presence of Mrs. Dysart steals imperceptibly 
into these cooled places, and lies in the valleys of his 
heart like summer haze. Mother and daughter supple- 
ment and counteract each other. 

Day by day Bella becomes more dear to him ; night by 
night Mrs. Dysart grows like a moon into that azure field 
of friendship in which Bella is the solitary twilight star ; 
first a silver sickle, motionless on the far hill, last of all 
a large and breathing presence, wonderfully near, and yet 
divinely vast and distant, whose luminous mantle sweeps 
her starry daughter and all these other orbs to the con- 
fines of heaven and lies upon the Poet's world in folds 
whose dark hollows are tremulous with the mystic 
music of the senses. What Bella may some day be, 
this woman is. Her daughter does not age, but freshens 
her. She fulfills the function of an asterisk, that serves 
to mark the mother's virtues by her own, showing in 
her those delitescent qualities that, but for the childish 
commentator, might remain hid, like meanings in a text. 
Psyche and Venus divide the Poet's bosom; the first 
speaks to his soul, the second to his blood. In a perfect 
balance of both, can life be better regulated? Can days 
be more desirable than those that pass under their joint 
dominion? But equilibrium is not even granted to the 
gods; still less to humans; and flesh alas! is a con- 
victed perjurer that has betrayed man's highest and 
noblest aspirations, a traitor with whose suspected 
service mortals may not dispense any more than mon- 
archs with ministers of their subjects' will. 

At first the Poet affects disguise of danger; sees no 
peril in words and light laughter shared with beauty, 
mere counters in the polite game of friendship that are 
agreed by social usage to have no value other than them- 
selves, or that that the players agree to set upon them. 

BELLA 209 

But the danger if it be a danger grows too palpable 
to be slighted. He shirks clearing his thoughts too 
scrupulously, lest they involve him in the difficulties of 
action. Is it that, like the young colt in the meadow, 
he flees the seduction of the corn-scuttle, scenting cap- 
tivity behind the meal? Love's allurements he has met 
and fled before, has ruthlessly quenched the flame in 
his own heart, or has blinded his eyes to looks, and his 
ears to sighs. It is not that he is of those wantons 
who pursue love till it turn on them, and then seek 
their safety in flight, to prosecute warfare in less deadly 
fields. He is no philanderer by profession, and though 
his eyes may not always discern love with the exalted 
clearness of his verse, they never desecrate the sacred 
passion, or see it sordid. For him love does not count 
among the chartered pastimes; it is a holy rite, whose 
true performance needs altars and burning tapers, and 
incense, and all the sacred vessels of the temple. In love, 
for him, there is no low mass. 

Does mere worldly prudence restrain him? Does 
he ask who this beautiful woman is, with power to stir 
and attract him so strangely? 

To some degree he does but the true poet-passion 
does not pore over facts like a ledger-clerk bent over 
figures, to arrive at its balance by items. 

What fine hair-spring keeps his feelings in subjec- 
tion? What is the ultimate essence of that tenuous 
restraint with which his admiration for Mrs. Dysart 
(not yet burst into a passion) is invested? 


THIS very night of pyrotechnics and fluctuations 
(that is the second of its kind) he comes near 
to make his bosom confess the truth of it if truth be 
not too gross a term to apply to the subtlety of a feeling 
as yet all impotent to free itself from the senses in 
which it thrills embedded, a babe of the emotions but 
half born. 

But his bosom yields that Bella is somehow involved 
in it; this passion aspiring to the elder woman is appre- 
hended as a smoldering fault that loyalty should stamp 
on before its creeping fiery edges turn to flame. With 
midnight chiming in his ears, as he leaves the studded 
door behind him, and smoke and fire in his brain, he 
tries to ponder his position, and be true to the best in 
him. He knows he might have kissed this woman 
whose own fingers unlocked the door and let him out 
into the night cooled with stars and the salt sea. Nay, 
not only might, but nearly did; when that soft and 
naked arm stole around him to undo the latch and for a 
moment her blood-warm bosom beat against his own; 
and her liquid eyes deepened their smile as if portals 
opened for his admission; and the lips, slowly opening, 
made a place for his kisses. 

In that moment, for it was no more, he might have 
dared to clasp this body of loveliness in his arms; to 
have sunk, through infinite sweetness, out of reach of 
all that restrained him, headlong, kiss after kiss, as if 
these were stars and planets and blazing meteors in the 


BELLA 211 

firmament of passion, illuminating its space from end to 
end. There was his chance ; he did not take it. A thought 
of Bella flashed across his mind instead; one false step 
and the crystal purity of their friendship would be shat- 
tered. The opening lips made way for words, not 
kisses; the eyes lent graciousness to farewell; the out- 
stretched arm, with only the smallest fraction of a pause 
that but a Poet's heightened senses could detect undid 
the latch and let him forth. 

He passed smiling, with nothing but his blood to 
register the moment, and they were guest and hostess 
once again: not impulses, trembling perilously to junc- 
tion, like raindrops on a shaken sill. Mrs. Dysart bends 
her head for a sight of the sky and exclaims on the 
beauty of the night. 

The Poet says : " The stars are lovely. Ever so 
many thanks for the music. Now you mustn't get cold." 

" Nor you," she answers. " Don't be jealous. I am 
taking your published self to bed with me." 

" Then you will soon be asleep." 

" Do you think so ? Good-night !" 


But for the Poet at least, there is no virtue in the 
wish nor goodness in the night. Let us be honest and 
paint him not any nobler than he is. To know oneself 
the conqueror-presumptive of so much beauty is no 
mean thing. We may elevate the mind, but sex will 
still be true to itself: the lion in captivity, subject to 
bars, and rendering obedience to loaded sticks and red 
hot irons, but a roaring lion still, whose kingship lies 
in his noble savagery. The Poet is elated with that ele- 
mental pride, that sees passion in a woman as subjec- 
tion in a man, as conquest. If he had but a body, 
pride would fill it. But he is burdened with a mind as 
well, as spacious as a second world, and filled with so 

212 BELLA 

many speculative and philosophic gusts that pride is 
extinguished like a taper in a high wind. This citadel, 
merely awaiting the sword, and jingling its keys already 
for capitulation, troubles him. He would rather know 
it armed, and bristled with defence. Retreat before a 
surrender that declares itself is worse than cowardice 
that submits to force. All his stratagem is required to 
prolong a combat that his heart knows ended. There 
is no wrath, his wisdom tells him, so terrible as the 
wrath of a woman whose passion capitulates in vain. 

So far, this moment is averted. Each preserves, under 
a mask of sembled smiles, the show of independence. 
But should the frailer of the combatants, deeming his 
courage at fault rather than his conscience, lure him 
with a weak position, how then? 

How then, indeed ? Why has Mrs. Dysart no friends 
to intervene no circle of tedious acquaintance to tram- 
ple down the prolific weeds of opportunity? Man and 
woman in a garden soon or late must react the epic 
of Paradise. It is inevitable. High thoughts and 
aspirations are but grafts upon nature, like the mistletoe 
on an apple-tree. They show beautiful, but the sap that 
feeds and sustains them comes from lower earth. 
Always his mind reverts to Bella, and there finds its 
trouble and its peace. Her image comes as cool to 
passion as her wind-blown cheek to his own when, in 
the early day, she kisses him. Her eyes, grave and gray 
and steadfast, shine through him like a law. Her lips 
hold a reproach; or worse than a reproach, a childish 
confidence and trust he has the power to abuse. He 
is become her brother; does he seek to act the father, 
too? He might. For the object of his passion is beau- 
tiful enough, cultured enough, desirable enough. Those 
ten odd years between them would be consumed to 
nought in the furnace of love. And yet, he knows the 

BELLA 213 

nature of this passion to be other; its fire capable, un- 
checked, of consuming more than conscience could con- 
trol. And he says to himself not in heroics, but in the 
vernacular of a man's heart : " By gad, I won't. No, 
no ! I will be as circumspect as an owl. A fool I may 
have been ; I will not be a cad." 



MAN forms but a fraction of his own life. He is 
shaped, like it how little he may, by the deeds 
and comments of his kind. He comes into the world 
a prisoner; wears the slave-shackles of the centuries; 
is fettered with opinions in whose making he had no 
part; each stands at one and the same time slave and 
tyrant to his fellow, forcing this, and fearing that. Not 
the most independent of us but goes in manacles; not 
the strongest but, is susceptible to a curl of the lip. So 
are we not only what we deem ourselves, but in part 
also what other people see us. With what rebellion 
we will, still must we bear the burden of the estimate 
society fixes on us. 

And so, this conflict of divided nature that vexes 
the Poet's mind, is not the only influence at work upon 
his destiny. His destiny is subject to wider influences 
still. Other processes are busy. Spathorpe takes a 
part in it. This public eye that watches him, we may 
liken to another orb in heaven; a second sun, ungov- 
erned by the hours and motions of the first, that rises 
betimes and sets late, and waxes bright and mercilessly 
hot, scorching what it fructified and making drought 
of those green places nurtured by its early beams. Man 
pays dearly for the interest of his fellows. Fame, at 
best, is but a livery, assumed in servitude like the waist- 
coat of the hotel porter, whose sumptuous gilding is a 
satire on the service demanded of it. 

Thus, and soon, there grows a whisper on the 

BELLA 215 

Parade. The Poet's name is spoken with an altered 
breath; eyes cut deeper in their scrutiny of him, and 
with a visible lessening of consideration, as if his senses 
were grown harder, or theirs more blunt. When he 
walks with Mrs. Dysart and her daughter through the 
crowded ranks of the Parade, regards buzz perceptibly 
about them. There are degrees even in the democracy 
of nudges, not to be mistaken by their student. By his 
sex the Poet is scanned with looks less curious than 
covetous; by women, with less of admiration than curi- 
osity. Here and there are those that turn their heads 
as Mrs Dysart goes by ; and once, even, when she seats 
herself with the Poet and Bella on a bench whose further 
end two elderly ladies already occupy, the nearer of the 
couple rises from her place to the acid query: "Shall 
we go, dear ? I think we had better ! " 

Charity shall put her best construction on the act. 
Perhaps these elderly people are caught at a disadvan- 
tage in a coloquy, like matrons at spring cleaning, with 
all their family cupboards open and their grisly skeletons 
exposed though to the casual eye they showed as silent 
sitters, blinking withered eyelids in the sun. Or they 
may have taken their leave out of mere nice feeling, 
somewhat brusquely expressed that seeks to give these 
newcomers the freedom they have themselves enjoyed 
till now. Only Mrs. Dysart notices the act. Her sex 
divines it; not her eyes for those her sunshade pre- 
vents. After a moment she twirls the interceptive sun- 
shade to her other shoulder, and takes advantage to 
steal a glance at the departing figures. It is only a 
glance that falls upon them as by accident, from a coun- 
tenance made gracious with smiles, but the glance would 
know these offenders again. Bella reads only the big- 
gest print in life ; she is no student of italics or marginal 
notes, understands nothing of the present page. To the 

216 BELLA 

Poet, blindness is protective in a world where so much 
observation is practised. His aim is rather to ignore 
all signs than to see them lest he may be accused of 
seeking. Far is he from noting, further still from sus- 
pecting, any change in the constitution of this public 
world in which he lives. He perceives the same music 
and laughter; the same lightness and movement, the 
same bright sun, the same blue sea. Externally, life is 
what it was, the world immutable; the only alteration 
is within himself unseen, he thinks, and unsuspected. 
And so Rumor stalks abroad, rustling like a painted 
lady in her gown of silks. 

All in good time, or in the very worst, this shameless 
lady accosted our early friend, the Rev. Alfred Hig- 
ginson. He was naturally not unshocked, and but that 
she appeared to him in the discourse of a brother divine, 
doubtless he had shaken her hand from his arm with 
Christian repugnance, and lent her no heed. Twice, to 
be sure, he said : " I can scarcely believe it ! " but his 
brother divine held firm, and imparted much behind a 
benedictory hand. And after all, news is news, and 
women are women, and rectors are only mortal, and 
perhaps to be quite fair mankind propagates slanders 
less through innate malice than the pleasure of culling 
its fellow-man's surprise, and enjoying the wonder that 
its news creates. And vice in others, when everything 
is said and done, has at least this advantage as a topic, 
that it heightens the sense of self-respect in those that 
deplore it, and confirms them in a proper virtue. With- 
out a sufficiency of neighboring sins to maintain the 
standard of its self-respect, the very fabric of society 
would totter. The wicked are as necessary to us as the 
poor; for the second cheapen the cost of labor, the first 
of virtue. In an exclusive society of saints, the cost 
of good living must be exorbitantly high. 

BELLA 217 

And here, too, is a paradox that will bear thinking on. 
Will anybody deny that frailty is more common to hu- 
manity than its opposite, or that a good deed is less fre- 
quent than an ill one? And yet does the recital of ten 
good deeds excite as much surprise as a piece of scandal 
no bigger than a threepenny bit? Here, perhaps, is the 
truth of it. Virtue belongs to the family of conduct 
only by adoption; scandal is kith to our very blood. 
The Rev. Alfred Higginson might forget a fact or two 
in regard to the mission in Polynesia, for which his 
brother divine was the district secretary, but he did not 
overlook any part of that other and more stimulating 
news. Twice at the tea-table he gazed at his wife as 
if he wished the family absent, and his wife, with a 
woman's unfailing intuition, asked : " Well ? " knowing 
there was news in store for her at the first suitable 

That was only one tea-table out of many in Spathorpe 
where the Poet's metamorphosis took place. And be- 
fore long these whisperings came nearer home ; and stray 
fruits in this Poet's Paradise began unaccountably to fall, 
mysterious omens for which no explanation could be 
given. One afternoon, for instance, Bella had pressed 
the Polliwog against the garden gate and was teasing him 
quietly in her own insistent and sober way, asking which 
of the star-fish at the bottom of his bucket were for her, 
whereas she wanted none, and he them all. 

" This ? " she asked, pointing her finger into the 
bucket, where the asteroids blinked under shaken sea- 
water. The Polliwog's chin sought refuge in his neck 
for he wore but a blue jersey, and had no collar in 
which the receding member might be secreted. A squint 
of the eyes and a shake of the head signified refusal. 

" Well then, this one ? " suggested Bella with the 

friendliest alternative, shifting the direction of her 

218 BELLA 

finger. "You'll give me this one, won't you? You 
would, wouldn't you ? O my ! I think I'd love this one, 
and a teeny bit of the sea-weed too, for it to sit on. 
And you'd lend me your bucket, wouldn't you, to carry 
it home in, if I asked you ? " 

The Polliwog shook his head once more, with his 
eye-spaces so narrowed that Bella's glance could scarcely 
find admission. When Bella was at a safe distance on 
the balcony he had a repartee tjjat served, but when this 
self-possessed young lady held him at close quarters, 
and her gray eyes scrutinized his countenance as if it 
were a map, speech failed him and he showed ambition 
to be gone. 

" Won't you ? " insisted Bella, curious to plumb the 
depths of this ungenerous refusal. "Why not?" 

" It's sister's," said Master Machiavelli, with his face 
averted to the palings. 

" Sister's ? " asked Bella, with a new direction for 
her interest. " Which sister ? " 

The Polliwog's eyes contracted further. He looked 
like a cockroach squirming down a chink in the kitchen 
when the light is turned on. 

" Blanche." 

" Is that Blanche with the pretty blue ribbon in her 


"And the check-straw hat?" 

" Yes. That's Emmeline's hat." 

" She's awfully pretty, isn't she ? " Bella exclaimed, 
with a startling excursion into sentiment. " I should 
think you must be frightfully fond of her." The flame 
of enthusiasm in her countenance burned to a positive 
beacon. "Yes, indeed. I'm sure you must. You love 
her, don't you?" The fervor of her inquiry and the 
light in her eyes abashed the Polliwog into rebellion. 

BELLA 219 

" I kicked her yesterday," he said. " And I shall 
kick her harder if she does it again." 

" Oh ! " cried Bella, with the most horrified reproof ; 
the flame in her eyes all blown to turbulent consterna- 
tion. What of rebuke she might have poured upon the 
Polliwog's luckless head will never now be known, for 
at that moment the name " Roger ! " was boomed from 
some invisible point in space (though Bella searched the 
lower window keenly to locate the voice) and without a 
further word the Polliwog pushed open the gate and 
slunk up the garden path. 

As soon as the door announced his arrival, the name 
" Roger " was repeated from the lower sitting-room. 
He wiped his sand-shoes with long and elaborate care 
upon the mat till a third utterance of his name drew 
him somewhat hastily into the parental presence. 

The Rev. Alfred Higginson looked up from the 
Church Times and faced the son on whom the future 
spirituality of a parish depends. The Polliwog's sisters 
were also in the room, slightly flushed with expectation 
and a little awe. 

" M-m-yes ! " said the Rev. Alfred Higginson, with a 
degree of deliberation in pronouncement of the word, 
signifying displeasure. " I'd rather you came in at once, 
Roger, without loitering at the gate, and mixing your- 
self up with people who do not concern you. What? 
. . . Because your father tells you, and because of the 
Fifth Commandment. Which is the Fifth Command- 
ment? 'Honor thy '" 

1 ' Honor thy father and thy ' " 

" ' Mother that thy ' " 

" ' Days may be ' " 

" ' Long in the ' " 

" ' Land that the Lord thy God giveth thee.' " 

" I would prefer you not to encourage any friend- 

220 BELLA 

ship with the little girl you were talking to just now. 
She may be a very estimable little girl, but her ac- 
quaintance is not one which I desire you to cultivate. 
You have your sisters and brothers, and your mother 
and father quite sufficient companions, I am sure, to 
remove all excuse for picking up undesirable friends. 
In future, please, understand that you are to drop these 
promiscuous intimacies, and be thankful you have good 
parents and sisters to take an interest in you and set 
you an example you need never be ashamed to follow. 

" Ah ! Now, come and show me what you have in 
your bucket. Do you remember the scientific name for 
this, that I told you the other day? A penny for the 
first correct reply ! Now, Blanche now, Emmeline ! " 

And the next time the Polliwog met Bella he looked 
as guilty as if he had a stolen herring under his jersey, 
and hung his head, and turned a burglar's lantern stare 
at the railings, and passed her by without a word, for 
all her lips were shaped to greeting; and thereafter 
shunned her abominably. 

Even the Rev. Alfred Higginson though he had 
never acknowledged Bella by any but oblique signs of 
recognition or good-will, seemed wrapped now in im- 
penetrable reserve; and not one of the family Bella 
noticed ever turned a face to the Poet's balcony ex- 
cept from afar, when Blanche or Emmeline (never 
Roger) flashed a quick look backward. 

Oh ! Bella was grieved. Retribution she could have 
suffered, but her heart was innocent of crime, and in- 
gratitude cut her. The Polliwog had dipped free and 
not too cleanly fingers into her chocolates and pop-corns, 
and caught them, at her throwing, from the balcony. 
And now, though he missed the chocolates, he pretended 
not to hear when she spoke from the Poet's window. 
Bella took her sad case to the Poet, and laid it before 

BELLA 221 

him, arguing eloquently like another Portia, but the 
Poet only laughed. Little he suspected that her case, 
so sorrowfully put, was his, himself the cause of her 
penalties. He saw in Roger's baseness but the rude self- 
justification of an awkward boy, pushed, perhaps, by 
family twitterings of a fondness for Bella, into acts of 
aggressive denial no more. 

" He is a beetle," the Poet told Bella, " and ought to 
be trodden on." 

" But I don't want him trodden on," said Bella. " I 
want him to be friends, like we were." 

"Be bigger friends with me, instead," the Poet con- 
soled her. " I will be as greedy as the Polliwog, and 
eat all your chocolates for you, if that is what you 

" O my ! We couldn't be bigger friends than we 
are, could we ? " cried Bella, and in the rapture with 
which she viewed the noble architecture of their friend- 
ship, her grievance waned. 

It was from this very topic that a curious little con- 
versation started and took its course. The Poet was 
seated at his writing-table when Bella brought her 
grievance to the bar hot from the injustice suffered 
and she stood by the arm of his chair with one hand 
upon that and one upon the table. Of a sudden she 
propounded this startling conundrum: 

" How do people really come to get married?" 

To which the Poet answered : " I don't know, Bella. 
I never learned Chinese." 

" It isn't Chinese," repudiated Bella. " It's a ques- 
tion. I asked mamma, and she only laughed and said 
there were a number of ways, all equally bad." 

" I must not contradict mamma." 

"They have to fall in love, first haven't they?" 

" So I have been told." 

222 BELLA 

" Yes. Mamma says that's the very worst way of 
all. When people marry for love, mamma says it's like 
going to the dentist and having gas, and then waking up 
when it's all over to find he's drawn the wrong tooth. 
But I know she didn't mean that, for she was laughing 
all the time, and called me a funny girl." 

Bella toyed with the Poet's paper knife. " What does 
it feel like, to fall in love? Really in love." 

" Perhaps mamma might tell you." 

" You've never been really in love, have you ? " 

" Never." 

" Never with anybody ? " 

" Never with anybody." 

" Would you like to fall in love some day ? " 

" Really you take me unawares, Bella." 

" Suppose " said Bella, and lowered her face a 
little, to obtain a straighter view of his eyes. " Yes. 
Let's suppose. O my! I love supposing don't you? 
Suppose I was older lots older as old as ever you 
like. What?" 

" I didn't say a word." 

"No. I know you didn't. Well?" 


" Well suppose that!" 

" Well, I do suppose that, Bella with all my heart." 

At which point there came a pause. For awhile 
Bella's gaze rummaged deep in his. 

Then she resumed with a slightly wavering: 
" Well well, we've supposed that, haven't we ? O my ! 
Yes we've supposed that. And now what was I going 
to say can you guess ? " 

" Not in the least." 

" Can't you ? O my ! Isn't it hard sometimes to say 
what one wants ? " And then, with another look at the 
Poet's countenance, similar to that that a diver bestows 

BELLA 223 

on the water before his plunge, marking the point aimed 
at, and calculating the spring-force needed, she let her- 
self go, saying: "If I was so old as we've supposed 
could you fall in love with me ? Really fall in love ? " 

The Poet exclaimed : " Good gracious ! But I am 
your brother ! " 

" Not my real brother ! " Bella protested with an 
anxious face. " You aren't ! " 

" It's all in writing," said the Poet, " every bit of it 
signed and witnessed." 

" But not in blood ! " Bella returned with manifest 
alarm. "You could tear it up, and burn it nobody 
knows. Nobody would ever know. What?" 

" I never said a word." 

" No. I know you didn't. But do. Say you could. 
For we do love each other, in one way, don't we? O 
my! I'd fall in love with you really and truly in love, 
if you'd only fall in love with me." 

Where is the heart could withstand so soft an 
advocate as this? The Poet always assuming the 
requisite flight of time and the monstrous accumulation 
of supposes thought (without prejudice) he could. 
Yes. If Bella were an old lady, and asked him very 
nicely, he believed, indeed, he might be capable of 
obliging her. And a look of unutterable triumph came 
into Bella's face, wonderful to see. For Leonie (now 
she would tell the Poet why she asked him) Leonie, in 
a little altercation the other morning, had said : " Who 
would marry her!" (meaning Bella). " Mon Dieu! 
Only to think of it! There was no one in the world 
would do such a thing ! " And Bella had been humble 
at first, and said : " Don't you think so, Leonie ? " until 
Leonie's certitude could be no longer borne. Then, and 
not till then, Bella had said : " But yes. They would 
somebody would. I know somebody that would, if I 

224 BELLA 

asked him ! " But when Bella had come to think over 
it she began to be frightened that perhaps Somebody 
wouldn't, after all ! " That is, supposing, of course, 
that you were an old lady," the Poet interpolated. 

" Supposing that I was an old lady," Bella acqui- 
esced. " Of course ! but not such a very old lady. I 
don't mean that. Not any older than mamma not 
quite so old perhaps nineteen, or twenty. O my! I 
don't know how old. How old do you think? Just 
whenever you liked to ask me." 

The conversation went no further, and was not re- 
sumed, save (the Poet fancied) once or twice in Bella's 
eyes when he found them looking at him as if they 
meditated the word " Suppose." But he laughed later 
with the recollection of the colloquy, and stored it in 
his closet of dearer memories where the sentimental 
sprigs of lavender and faint southernwood were. Con- 
science passed the cupboard not infrequently on those 
later evenings spent with Mrs. Dysart. The fragrance 
of it, and the knowledge of the dear relics it contained, 
were in his mind when he registered that last resolve of 


BUT meanwhile, more is in motion than the Poet's 
mind. Destiny has hold of him. He sees himself 
taking charge of his own fate and saying his nolo's and 
volo's as if life belonged exclusively to the liver of it 
and were not a mere perishable volume from the cir- 
culating library, subject to much mixed handling and 
possession. Of those outer influences bearing upon him 
he is no more conscious than of the computed weight of 
atmosphere beneath which mankind walks. Quern deus 
perdere vult, prius dementat. And not less true is 
it that whom Rumor threatens she first makes deaf 
to all her tongues. She comes so close to the Poet 
that her breath fans him, and still he does not suspect 
her by the rankness of it. She even follows him home, 
and is busy in the basement while he eats his meals 
above. Mrs. Herring and her maids are furnished with 
a new stimulus to hurry to the window when they think 
the Poet likely to emerge, and Bella's beauty is scanned 
more closely and more curiously when she visits the 
lower regions though never less kindly, justice must 
admit and guileless questions are asked of her, to test 
how much she knows, and compare the credibility of 
Rumor with the answers given, and the frankness of 
her lips and eyes. 

Even the sibilant and toothless Herring becomes of 
more account in the kitchen and suffers less repression 
through a prudence that recognizes him as a possible 
purveyor of intelligence. Nor is he ignorant of the 


226 BELLA 

source of this domestic toleration and his revived power, 
for he will say, at the least threat of a rebuke im- 
pending: "That'll do or I'll keep what I've heard to 
myself." Whereat, though Mrs. Herring may retaliate : 
" What you've heard ! " with a great display of scorn. 
" Dear me ! It's likely folks will trust you with a 
deal ! " she manages her contumely with sufficient judg- 
ment to save her credit, and not gain a victory at the 
total cost of what the vanquished has to tell. Rumor 
comes back at a snail's pace with Sir Henry Phillimore 
from the club, wrapped up in his plaid shawl, and that 
dim and visionary figure (who is chiefly known to the 
Poet as an infirm presence on the stair, or a cough 
in the night, or a door, part opened, that closes again 
as the Poet passes) may be seen behind the reflections 
of his window, hovering for a sight of the Poet when 
Bella's laughter or his own voice or footstep announces 
him near at hand. 

To be sure, whatever poison lurks within these 
whispers, it passes here through an indulgent filter-bed 
and becomes, beneath the Poet's temporary roof, a qual- 
ity little differentiable from kindly inquisitiveness. Mrs. 
Herring has her living to earn; she can make allow- 
ances for most shortcomings but her husband's. As 
befits one brought up in the service and wedded to 
an ex-butler, she inherits the conviction that vices are 
an appanage of gentility, not to be profaned by the 
vulgar, for whom morality was specially invented. 
Young gentlemen of independence like the Poet, who 
pay their weekly bills without scrutinizing a single item, 
and never ask for the second sight of a leg of lamb, 
are no more to be taxed on points of virtue than they 
are to be challenged for their Parade ticket by dis- 
criminating officials. Besides, Mrs. Herring and her 
maids are all avowed allegiants of the Poet's personal 

BELLA 227 

charm, that admits no evil within the radius of his 
smile. Does not Louisa confess one night to Helen 
(in reference to Mrs. Dysart) : "Ay! It's good to be 
some people." And does not Helen admit in return 
that she would like to be made love to, just once, by a 
real gentleman before she dies? And does not Mrs. 
Herring say : " Let him be as free as you will, Mr. 
Brandor is always the gentleman." 

And what but rumor emboldened Herring who 
serves as valet to the Poet and Sir Henry Phillimore 
to breathe into the Poet's ear a supplication for the 
temporary loan of a mere trifle, now and then ? " You 
know what women are, sir! She keeps me very close, 
sir; very close. At times I'm a little inclined to think 
she overdoes it. Always thinking of the future. Lays 
far too much stress on that, sir, to my mind. I say 
it's false economy. Isn't the present of as much con- 
sequence as a future we may never live to see? Still 
she's a capable woman, and suits me very well, sir, 
and one's got to humor her a little. If I was to assert 
myself, sir, it would only breed dissension, and what's 
a 'ome with that in it? Liberality's my fault, I know, 
but it isn't a crime. I can assure you, sir, I feel very 
depressed at times when I go about without so much 
as a florin to lend a friend." 

For, argues Herring, the gentleman with spirit 
enough to snap his fingers at propriety, is not likely to 
prove a niggard. Strict virtue, he has experienced, 
exerts a constrictive action on the natural impulses of 
man; a fixed principle rarely goes arm in arm with 
generosity. If the Poet had been a sporting man, to 
boot, Herring would have entertained an earlier hope 
of him, for generosity is one of the easiest virtues (and 
sometimes the only virtue) practised by those that make 
no great profession of any. Still, the ex-butler's read- 

228 BELLA 

ing of humanity is not far at fault. Silver changes 
hands. He even reads his gentleman so well as to 
venture to say to him : " I've had Bucephalus given 
me good for the Crosby Stakes to-day, sir. If I'd half 
a crown to spare, I should feel sorely tempted to invest 
it. This is information, sir, not fancy. I haven't picked 
the horse out of the morning's paper with my finger, 
sir." It is true Bucephalus comes past the post in 
company with the Also's, and information hangs her 
head again, but gentlemen whose pulses dance to the 
possession of beauty are as free with their florins as 
a cab-driver of his opinions. They live in a world that 
despises prudence, and provided the bleeding is dis- 
criminate will yield no end of blood without demur. 

And what but rumor draws the Baron to the terrace 
steps half an hour in advance of the time when Mrs. 
Dysart and the Poet may be expected on them, and 
lends him the needful audacity to raise his hat as if 
he stood for the Parade, and in its person saluted fame 
and beauty? The salutation is too profound to be 
ignored; too amusing to be resented and yet, though 
deference and flattery seem to be the basis of it, the 
act interprets but the struggle of an aspirant to justify 
his pretentions and gain the entry to an exclusive 
scandal. On the strength of this salutation accepted 
rather than returned he will speak hereafter of Mrs. 
Dysart and her cavalier with an authority claiming far 
deeper derivation than his own bow. He lets it be 
inferred that he knows Mrs. Dysart of old; what he 
fails to disclose concerning her seems withheld out of 
honor; albeit, to tell the truth, there is little in report 
to which his reticence does not give a better sanction 
than the worst of words. Mrs. Dysart calls him " that 
desperately wicked little man " ; Bella, " that funny little 
man " whom she thinks she rather likes, chiefly, per- 

BELLA 229 

haps, because there is water in his eyes when he smiles, 
'that touches her unsophisticated heart, unskilled, as yet, 
in differentiating tears. They do not know him as the 
" Baron," for their contact with the Parade is not close 
enough for that ; Mrs. Dysart's name for him is " Monte 
Cristo." To the Poet he figures fantastic and unreal; 
not in any degree the stuff or substance of which his 
own destiny is compounded, and yet, if all its molecules 
could be exhibited, the Baron would be visible among 
the rest with Mrs. Herring, and the almost mythical 
Sir Henry Phillimore, and a surprising collection of 
hundreds of unknown faces more than ever the Poet 
could have imagined to take interest in him. 


THERE came to Spathorpe at the time when Rumor 
was at her height, a tall substantial-looking gentle- 
man in a distinguished gray felt hat with a black band, 
who might be noticed on the Parade for a brief period. 
He was dressed in elderly serge, trod with deliberation 
like a man of consequence, smoked cigars leisurely, in 
whose pale blue wake connoisseurs dilated their nostrils 
with critical appreciation, and moved with an abstracted 
yet lenient and kindly interest in what he saw. 

He stayed at the Sceptre. The letter R was on 
his leather. He signed the name " Ronsome " in the 
visitors' book, and interpreted it good-humoredly to the 
fair booking-clerk whose forehead puckered up into 
incomprehending creases over its perusal spelling the 
word whimsically out for her: R-o-n-s-o-m-e, and 
pronouncing it, " Runsm Runsm." " Let's see," he 
said, in the atmosphere of friendly smiles engendered by 
the episode, " I believe you had Mr. Brandor staying 
here a short while since ? " The fair-haired booking- 
clerk responded with alacrity : " Oh, yes ! " for she had 
not yet forgotten the sweetness of the Poet's smile, that 
her artifice sought occasionally to prolong. " You mean 
the gentleman that writes the poetry, don't you ! But he 
has been left here three weeks now. He came in July." 

Without appearing to reflect on the curiousness of 
his informant's idiom, the elderly gentleman admitted 
the truth of what it expressed. Yes, Mr. Brandor had 


BELLA 231 

moved into private rooms along the Esplanade. Did 
she happen to know if they were far distant from the 
hotel? She knew, and could assure him. Not at all. 
Indeed, they were close at hand. She drew their situ- 
ation on the visitors' book with the reverse end of her 
pen, pitted all over with tiny teeth-marks where reverie 
or perplexity had bitten it, and the gentleman thanked 
her, saying or so the booking-clerk understood him 
that he must call before leaving Spathorpe. 

But if that were his intention, it was never fulfilled. 
Less than an hour afterward, while he took tea amid 
the basket-chairs on the hotel veranda, a landau, drawn 
by a pair of bays, drove briskly by. A golden-haired 
girl was seated with her back to the horses. The other 
occupants were a lady beneath a chequered sunshade, 
who raised the edge for a discreetly interested peep at 
the hotel in passing, and a young man in a straw hat. 
The girl's face was the only face visible for more than 
a glimpse, but something about the poise of the straw 
hat and the debonnair boy's figure recalled memories in 
the gray-bearded gentleman's mind. He said to him- 
self : " Surely ! " and half rising from his chair, took a 
second glance at the receding landau. 

A military-looking man, occupying two chairs a few 
paces away, with a newspaper across his knee, who 
had begun to preen a self-opinionated moustache with a 
cigar between his fingers the moment he caught sight 
of Mrs. Dysart, misread the elderly visitor's attention 
for the same character of curiosity as his own. The 
sharpened look in his eyes met and made friends with 
the gaze of the gentleman in blue serge. Their smiles 
engaged for a moment, and the military man spoke. 

" Our rising generation ! " he said. 

The gentleman of the name of Ronsome, not quite 
understanding the allusion, acknowledged it with a 

232 BELLA 

polite extension of his smile, and stroked his beard, ask- 
ing: "Who is he?" 

" The Byron of our days," exclaimed the military 
spectator. " By Jove ! And wants everybody to know 
it, too. Always the way with these youngsters. Can't 
keep their first watch in their pockets, and wouldn't 
smoke or drink or play cards or do half the silly things 
they do if there wasn't a public to look at 'em. The 
same with the petticoats. As soon as they pick up a 
fine woman they must parade her in public like a mare 
round the show ring. Kick up such a devil of a fuss 
when they're at their alphabet; have to spell out every- 
thing aloud to let people know how clever they are, 
but when they've once learned to read they read with 
their mouths shut, and keep things to themselves." He 
blew two trumpets of smoke through his nostrils and 
brushed a heavy fall of cigar-ash from his waistcoat. 
The gentleman of the name of Ronsome, still some- 
what on the shady side of all this intelligence, 
though gauging the strength of sunlight elsewhere 
caused by the shadow cast upon his understanding, 
stirred his tea and asked carelessly : " Let's see. What 
is his name?" 

" Brandram, or Brandreth, or Brentworth, or some 
such name." 

"You don't mean Brandor?" 

" Brandor. To be sure ! That's it. A poet or some- 
thing of the sort. Plenty of money by all accounts. 
Must have, or he wouldn't be driving by the side of 
Isabel Dysart. She hasn't taken Cromwell Lodge for 

" And he's in partnership with this woman ? " 

" Unblushingly. Makes no bones about it. Why ! 
You saw for yourself. I'll give him his due; he's a 
good judge of women. Did you see her ? " 

BELLA 233 

"But surely, he's not living openly with her?" Be- 
hind his smile the gentleman of the name of Ronsome 
showed more incredulousness than curiosity. 

The military man laughed, betraying a touch of 

" Depends what you mean by ' openly,' " he decided. 
"If being with her at all hours of the day, and leaving 
her house at all hours of the night isn't ' openly,' I don't 
know where we are to look for a better word." 

Ronsome smiled with acquiescence, but his comment 
was : " Of course, that's circumstantial. You'd scarcely 
condemn a man on that." 

The military man agreed. " True, true. Not on 
that. But the woman's known. I was up at the club 
last night. Sir Archibald Elliott happened to look in. 
Said it's common talk that Cohen was keeping her up 
to a few weeks ago. You know Lewis Cohen, the dia- 
mond man, that went to America last month, and left a 
letter in his bedroom saying his head was going round, 
and disappeared. Wanted people to believe he'd done 
away with himself, but was seen a few days later in 
New York with his lip shaved. Frightful smash. Just 
about the time this woman came to Spathorpe. It threw 
her heart out of gear. Old Hayhew had to attend her. 
Know him intimately. Says she's a charming woman 
and makes a medical man's profession very hard. Egad, 
it's lucky for her this fellow's turned up, for she's taken 
Cromwell Lodge and done no end at the place. Sent 
a heap of the old furniture into storage, and got in her 
own stuff from Hornbeam and Tinker's. Cohen would 
have had to foot that bill if he hadn't come on the 

This, and more, the military man imparted to Ron- 
some, for he was of the species to whom talking is 
a need, and a good listener as solaceful as a choice cigar. 

234 BELLA 

It came therefore with something of the force of a 
shock when Ronsome admitted he knew the Poet or 
at least, had thought that he knew him adding: 

" But we learn by living. Men change their habits 
with their clothes. It's some time since I spoke to the 
fellow. I had rather thought of calling on him, but 
under the circumstances I don't suppose he'd care to 
be prosed to about old times. He prefers the new. 
Besides, he seems developed into a bit of a fool." 

The military man was visibly nonplussed. He splut- 
tered into apology like a kettle, just come to the boil. 
"Awfully sorry! 1 beg of course you under- 
stand had no idea not the least desire to make 


Ronsome smiled in absolute forgiveness. 

" On the contrary, I'm much obliged to you. Com- 
mon talk is common talk. It's well to hear it, and know 
where one stands." 

In which the military man concurred, though his 
assurance seemed somewhat shaken, and his sentences 
showed a tendency to begin with conjunctions and words 
of extenuation and contingency. It is also notable that 
he fought shy of the gentleman of the name of Ronsome 
during the two or three subsequent days of his visit, 
and no further conversation of the least moment passed 
between them. 

But the elderly gentleman with the distinguished 
gray hat and black band, who trod with such conse- 
quence and smoked such excellent cigars, did not lack 
the use of his eyes, and the military man's indiscreet 
confidences served as a valuable introduction to the 
study of the Poet and Mrs. Dysart. Several times he 
saw them on the Parade, contemplating their movements 
with a keen but not unfriendly eye from some com- 

BELLA 235 

manding point upon the balcony, and taking notes of 
their reception, after which he trod his leisurely way, 
wrapped in the fragrance of his cigar and the genial 
introspection of his smile. 


AND one day, very shortly after the gentleman of 
the name of Ronsome had taken leave of the 
Sceptre, there came a telegram for the Poet. Bella 
was with him at the time, for they were just on the 
point of setting forth for their preliminary morning's 
ramble, and her eyes grew instantly large and grave 
when the missive was put into his hand. She had the 
superstitious dread of her sex for those emblems of 
trouble and catastrophe, apparitions from the unseen 
world presaging sorrow, and breathed the most lugu- 
brious " O my ! " as the Poet's finger tore a ragged path 
through the brick- red envelope. " It's nobody dead ? " 
she asked after a moment, in a pallid tone of voice. Her 
thought flew to Daisy, and to tell the truth, this name 
was the first to flash across the Poet's mind when he 
took the telegram. But his eyebrows, as he read, illus- 
trated amusement more than concern. 

" No, Mother Hubbard," he answered. " It's no- 
body dead, thank goodness. It's somebody very much 
alive O, like the mussels the man was singing last 

" O my ! " exclaimed Bella; a radiant " O my! " this 
time, beaming gladness and relief. " Some one coming 

" Yes." 

"To Spathorpe?" 

"To Spathorpe." 

" When ? I hope soon. O, say it's to-day." 


BELLA 237 

" It is to-day." 

" O my ! I guessed that, didn't I ! How lovely. 
Whoever is it ? Stop ! Let me guess that, too. Some- 
body I know ? " 

" Somebody you know." 

"Daisy? It can't be. Is it?" 

" No, not Daisy." 

"No. I thought it couldn't be. That wasn't the 
guess. Wait a bit. Don't tell me. Was it Vic?" 

" No, not Vic." 

" No. And that wasn't the real guess. Let me think 
ever so hard. Show me your eyes. Yes. Ah! You 
winked ! Now I know. Is it is it " 

"Who is it," asked the Poet, "that looks over his 
pince-nez like this, and says : ' Well, well ! I say no 

" Mr. Pendlip ! " cries Bella, clapping her hands to- 
gether. " Mr. Pendlip. I'm sure it is. Is it ? Am I 

" Yes." 

" O my ! That was the real guess. I guessed that, 
didn't I! I knew I could." 

And then, having been admitted, as it were, by a 
side door to the truth, ran around to the front, where 
she saw the full wonder of it, and exclaimed raptur- 
ously : " No, never ! Not to-day ! Not so soon ! It 
can't be!" 

But the poet put the telegram into her fingers, and 
Bella read it with proud importance, for, of course, to 
be made partner to such a communication as this, is 
to occupy a very exalted place in the Privy Council 
of Friendship. Twice Bella read the message through, 
aloud, and her delight and wonder grew. To think that 
the mighty Mr. Pendlip, whose august tread through 
the corridors of her mind had made imagination trem- 

238 BELLA 

ble with pleasurable awe to think he was about to 
burst the bondage of investing fancy, and become sub- 
stance and reality all in a moment, like the mayfly. 
What a prospect! What thrilling unanticipated joy! 

" O my ! " said Bella, taking the altitude of the occa- 
sion by means of her familiar words. " I can scarcely 
believe it. Can you ? This very afternoon. And shall I 
really see him ? " 

" Indeed you shall." 

"And speak to him?" 

" If you like." 

" I do like. I would love it. Ever so much. Do you 
think Mr. Pendlip would like, too?" 

"Think isn't the word." 

"What is the word?" 

" It's two words." 

" What two words are those ? " 

" Perfectly certain." 

"Are you? Really? Perfectly certain? Of course, 
it isn't as if we didn't know each other, is it ! " Bella 
urged. " We know each other as well as well by letter, 
don't we! And I mustn't forget to ask him how Daisy 
is, and Mrs. Pendlip, too. Perhaps Daisy will have 
sent me a message by him. I'd love it if she has. 
What message will it be? Can you guess? Not in the 
least? Oh, tell me lots of things about her and all of 
them, now Mr. Pendlip's coming." 

To all these raptures the Poet freely responded, 
ringing to them like a wine-glass under the sung note; 
but whether he shared the girl's joy, or hailed his erst- 
while guardian's coming with quite the gladness shown 
is perhaps open to doubt. Mr. Pendlip's telegram offered 
no explanation of this hurried visit; it merely stated a 
fact, a time, and a wish. The sender was on his way 
to Spathorpe. He would arrive at half-past four. And 

BELLA 239 

the wish was crystallized into the two plain words, 
" Meet me." In all of which there was nothing extraor- 
dinary; yet it is the weak spot shows the sharpness of 
the wind, and though the Poet has choice of a dozen 
reasons to account for Pendlip's coming, something un- 
easy in his conscience seems to suspect them all and 
gnaw at a reason beyond. The query grows into a sort 
of burden that he finds himself reiterating every now 
and then: 

" I wonder what old Pendlip wants ; 
I wonder what he wants. . . ." 

He is stirred with curiosity to the extinction of 
natural gladness. Pendlip assumes the property of a 
conundrum, that is to be solved at half-past four o'clock 
this day, and still perplexes him into the present pro- 
pounding of it, though he is aware no answer of his 
own can satisfy his curiosity or rest his doubts. What- 
ever natural explanation he may set upon this telegram 
and Pendlip's coming, the query always confronts him: 
" But why didn't he send a letter ? Couldn't he have 
written last night? What's bringing him off in such a 

hurry ? " " It can't be " he begins incredulously, and 

breaks off at that, and will not admit a probability so 
wild, though it shows tenaciously through all his more 
reasonable hypotheses. He believes in the hypothesis 
no more than he believes in ghosts, and yet in his pres- 
ent darkness it has a tendency to haunt him; for men 
who disclaim all faith in specters by day find somewhat 
less comfort from the lack of it by night, when strange 
things happen for which mere scepticism can give no 
adequate account. The best they can do is to counterfeit 
the presentment of courage, swagger in face of their 
own fears, and try and attain to carelessness through 
mimicry of it. The Poet, for instance, after his first 

240 BELLA 

puzzled perusal of the telegram, treats the matter with 
exuberance, asking Bella whether he ever mentioned 
to her in the course of conversation that Mr. Pendlip 
has a wooden leg? Bella says: "No! Never! " where- 
upon the Poet expresses his pleasure to find that he 
has always spoken the truth of Mr. Pendlip and ex- 
horts Bella to cultivate this priceless quality and speak 
of her friends as she finds them. 

Yet the Poet's rejected hypothesis lies nearest to 
fact, and this telegram may be taken to signify that 
Report has at length been checked in her career like a 
runaway cow, and is being driven dangerously back 
upon the Poet's plate-glass happiness. Later, there will 
be a crash, for he does not even yet suspect that such 
a beast is at large still less that kindly hands are urging 
her toward him and so his large and candid windows 
remain unprotected by a single shutter. 


ONLY the day before, Mr. Pendlip had paid for two 
luncheons at his club, and borne home afterward 
the fateful intelligence. His emotion was a business 
man's emotion, flowing like a frozen river beneath its 
frigid crust of ice. Now and again the ice cracked and 
his visage showed a smile; he laughed, but the laugh 
was a gloomy fissure, leading into watery depths below. 
Of all offences, folly that is itself the lightest seems 
the hardest to forgive. Irrevocable faults we pardon; 
but active follies do not rouse in us emotions deep 
enough for clemency. They touch impatience, but fall 
short of magnanimity. Here was the boy to whom 
Richard Pendlip had stood second father; who had 
flinched in days gone by before his necessary wrath; 
who had never lied, nor played the traitor to his own 
honor. Such a boy save for the lack of finance in 
him as Pendlip might have desired for his son; high- 
spirited, sensible, gentle, truthful, possessed of a dis- 
position lofty enough to be called noble, but for a 
certain carelessness in it; a boy on whom care had 
been expended, and anger when requisite; and prides 
based and aspirations reared. And now to be throwing 
his character to the four winds as a quack-doctor flings 

abroad his leaflets What folly! What senseless 


As he walked up the carriage drive of his Dulwich 
home the carriage drive that Bella's fancy had paced 
so many times toward the peristyle she knew so well 


242 BELLA 

the sound of its pebbles awoke the echoes of years. 
He saw the Poet as a pale-faced child at play in his 
first shrimp-like black knickerbockers the badge of his 
bereavement that Pendlip could have worn for a mit- 
ten on his own large hand, and the contrast forced an 
interjection from him. " In Spathorpe ! " he exclaimed, 
with as much impatience to himself as though he stood 
delinquent to his words. " Of all places in the world ! 
Bang under everybody's nose. Was there nowhere else 
he might have made a fool of himself ? " And he looked 
forward unpleasantly to the feminine consternation 
when Mrs. Pendlip should gaze upon the altered features 
of this cherished boy. Unemotional men feel other 
people's emotion keenly, the more for not sharing it, 
perhaps. " The fellow's been spoiled ! " he decided, as 
he singled his latch-key from a jingling bunch, and blew 
on it vehemently to dislodge supposititious dust and ex- 
press impatience. " He's had his own way in every- 
thing. We're all to blame. Poetry's not the stuff to 
make men of." However, in his own hall he tapped the 
barometer with customary cheerfulness, blew out his lips 
in mute simulation of whistling though his head con- 
tained not a single tune and sauntered into the room 
across the hall through whose door came sounds of 
desultory music and conversation. 

A girl whose face and hair were both of the same 
light obliterative shade, but who had she been less 
pallid might have made claims on beauty of the deli- 
cate and transitory sort, was seated at a boudoir grand 
in the far corner of the room, near the conservatory. 
Traces of her recent illness lay still upon her waxen 
cheek, and in the fragile whiteness of her fingers. On 
a chair by her side, too, was a shawl, as if for use 
when she moved about the house. She was turning the 
pages of a bound Chopin listlessly with her right hand, 

BELLA 243 

and picking out occasional bass passages with her left 
though her face was turned toward the center of the 
room, where, in the cool depth of a cretonne-covered 
chair, Mrs. Pendlip knitted a woolen comforter for one 
or other of her autumn beneficiaries, stopping from time 
to time to probe her cheek reflectively with a foot of 
shining steel, and repose a look of maternal care upon 
her daughter's profile; or, when the latter turned in 
discovery of the look, to smile and exchange words 
with her. Close to the elder woman's elbow the after- 
noon tea-table was spread, and there were evidences 
that the meal had been already taken. An empty cup 
with crumbs in the saucer stood upon the pianoforte 
desk; the spirit lamp beneath the silver kettle was ex- 
tinguished; the layers of fine-cut bread and butter were 
reduced. At Mr. Pendlip's entrance the knitting-needles 
were dropped into the worker's lap. His wife did not 
look around, but said : " Richard," and adjusted her spec- 
tacles for the sight of him when he should pass her 
chair. The girl laid one hand on the pianoforte stool, 
and leaned out beyond the keyboard with a smile of 

" No, no," her father protested when he saw her 
close the pages of the book and make as though she 
would desert the piano. " Go on, Daisy. I don't want 
to stop you." 

The girl said : " I was just finishing, father." 

Her mother interpolated : "She must not tire herself, 

" Of course not. To be sure, to be sure. Don't tire 
yourself, Daisy." 

The girl disclaimed fatigue, and Pendlip asked her 
how she was feeling now. " Stronger, are you ? " 
"That's right, that's right," he exclaimed, when she 
assured him: 

244 BELLA 

" Heaps stronger. I'm ready for Spathorpe any 
time, now," and coughed in saying it. 

" Not quite, dear ! " Mrs. Pendlip cautioned her, 
restrainingly. " We mustn't run the risk of further 
cold. It would be most unwise. Another week, dear, 
when we see how you're going on." 

The girl made a mock face of resistance to authority 
and confessed : " I hate being an invalid. It's so silly ; 
particularly at this time of the year. In the winter 
it's something to do. Spathorpe will be over by the 
time we get there. Rupert says it's the tennis tourna- 
ment this week, and after that the season tumbles to 

Pendlip did not espouse the topic of Spathorpe, nor 
warm to his daughter's suggestion that she felt fit 
enough for the mixed doubles. " Is there a cup of tea 
for me, Rachel ? " he asked his wife, who dropped her 
knitting and adjusted her spectacles with a cry of self- 
rebuke : 

" To be sure there is, Richard. I never thought. 
But the tea must be clay cold by now. We did not 
know when to expect you. Let Daisy ring for some 
more " 

Pendlip restrained her. " Not on my account. Just 
half a cup. I don't mind how cold or black it is. No 
sugar, Daisy." He picked about among the dishes. 
" What are these ? Sweet, are they ? No, let's have 
some bread and butter. I'm not hungry." He clapped 
two of the slices together, face to face, and bit them 
with manly amplitude, walking to and fro and saying 
"Hm's" and " Ha's " through the muffle of what he 
ate. The conversation sustained itself by means of their 
brief prosaic phrases common to those whose daily lives 
are so intimate as to render speech superfluous. Pendlip 
recorded the heat in the city and enumerated sundry 

BELLA 245 

meetings with individuals known to him. " Saw so-and- 
so at Victoria " ; some one else near Threadneedle Street. 

After awhile, when his interest in mastication flagged 
and he pronounced himself at the end of his meal, Daisy 
said she would go to her room and write to Rupert be- 
fore the twilight fell. She had not answered his letter 
yet. Mrs. Pendlip adjusted her spectacles again an act 
apparently as essential to speech as to sight, since she 
rarely spoke or looked but that she did it first and 
approved the decision. 

" I am sure Rupert will be very anxious to hear from 
you. It must be rather lonely for him, poor boy, all 
this time. He will be very glad to have us there." 

" I don't suppose he minds much. He has made 
friends already," Daisy retorted. 

" That funny little girl seems always with him. Who 
is she, I wonder ? " Mrs. Pendlip remarked in a low 
but emphatic voice. " Of course she is only a child. 
It is not a serious friendship." 

Pendlip, walking to and fro, made the elaborate 
mouth movements of a man at the conclusion of a 
repast in his own house; screwed his lips; clapped his 
hands to the solid portions of him, affecting an oblivi- 
ousness of the conversation. Not till Daisy threw the 
shawl around her shoulders and left the room did he 
enter speech again, but his absorption carried no new 
character or special significance, for often he brought 
business into the drawing-room in this guise, and after 
a few preliminary words would be lost to the voices of 
his family, breathing his financial fee-fo-fums to him- 
self, and only being drawn to the portcullis of this im- 
pregnable castle by a double summons from without. 
But the moment the door closed on the wrapped form 
of his daughter, Pendlip stopped before the fireplace, 
his lips compressed, the space between his legs shaped 

246 BELLA 

to a pyramid, his hands clapped resolutely to his bul- 
warks. For awhile he was silent, but the something 
momentous in his attitude reached and touched the wife 
as with a hand. She let fall her needles anew, rectified 
her glasses, and turned a quick glance toward the tower- 
ing figure, with the utterance of her husband's name. 


4 ' T LUNCHED with Ronsome at the club, to-day," 

A Pendlip began. " He's just had a week-end at 
Spathorpe. Told me a little news." 

Something in the dry calculation of her husband's 
tone prepared her as he had intended it should for 
some unwelcome intelligence. She scanned his face to 
read its tidings, a knitting-needle laid apprehensively 
across both her lips. 

"About Rupert?" 

"About Rupert." 

"There's nothing the matter with him, Richard? 
The boy's not ill?" 

" Never better in his life by all accounts. Only mak- 
ing a fool of himself. That's all. With a woman." 

She cried : " Richard ! " blankly, looking at him for 
awhile as if his presence were unfamiliar. Then a fear 
dawned upon her. " The boy's not going to be married ? 
Don't tell me he's married already." 

" I am sorry I can tell you nothing so reputable." 

" You don't mean to say " 

" Unfortunately, there's nothing else for me to 

He spread his hands, palms outward, to the empty 
grate, as if to catch the comfort from a fire, and began 
to unfold the death certificate of the Poet's virtue from 
his puckered lips. His language warmed with what he 
had to impart; now and again he slipped an expletive 
into his words. Mrs. Pendlip, long habited to these 


248 BELLA 

venial warps and knots in masculine nature, accepted 
them from her husband almost devoutly, like pulpit im- 
precations sanctified by place and usage, alive only to 
the substance of what she heard, breathing her hus- 
band's name as a vehicle for incredulity, articulating 
rapid double T's. 

" I can't believe it, Richard," she reiterated. " It is 
not like Rupert. Rupert would never condescend to 
such a thing. There must be some mistake. It can't 
be true. Why ! He's only a boy ! " 

" Past his majority ! " Pendlip exclaimed. " And you 
call him a boy! Growth's a thing you women never 
understand. If you'd ever known James Ronsome in 
his school jacket, you'd say he was a boy to this day. 
Rupert's at the very age to play the fool when a 
fellow's just shaken loose from authority, as Ronsome 
says, and hasn't yet reached his own wisdom. And 
Ronsome's not the man to pick up cock-and-bull stories. 
He only came back from Spathorpe on Tuesday saw 
the thing with his own eyes. Says it's as plain as a 
pikestaff, the talk of the place." 

Mrs. Pendlip shook her head in melancholy pledge of 
faith to the boy. " He must have been led into it. He 
would never have done such a thing by himself." Add- 
ing: "Who is she? If she's anything very dreadful, 
don't tell me, Richard. I think I'd rather not know. 
Poor Daisy! Poor Daisy! To come just after her ill- 
ness, too." 

" Ronsome tells me her name's Dysart. The wife of 
an army man." 

" Wife ! " cried Mrs. Pendlip, her lips recoiling from 
the title with as much alarm as if it had been an appari- 
tion. " But her husband's not living, Richard ! You 
don't mean there's going to be a scandal ? " 

" Going to be ! " Pendlip retorted. " There is! Ron- 

BELLA 249 

some says he's heard that Dysart is out in the Argen- 
tine somewhere. She's a married woman with a big 
fine daughter. That's the girl that's always hanging 
round him, and writes postscripts at the foot of his 
letters. Damn it ! " he exclaimed, as the preposterous- 
ness of the act enlarged under the eye of indignation, 
" But Rupert might have played a cleaner game than 
this. What right has he to mix us up in his tom- 
fooleries ? Here I've been sending our messages all this 

time to the daughter of a Good Lord ! And there's 

Daisy just going to do the same if we don't stop her. 
What's to be done? What's to be said to her? We 
can't go to Spathorpe now, on any consideration. That's 
out of the question. Ronsome tells me their photo- 
graphs are stuck up in every show-frame in the place. 
They drive about in a job-master's carriage and pair. 
He's with her the whole time, and the policemen see 
her letting him out of her door in the small hours. 
Damme ! Does he mean to ruin himself ? " 

He let his indignation have vent for awhile, disgorg- 
ing what Ronsome had confided over the luncheon table. 
Several times he made use of the familiar formula: 
" Well, well ! I say no more " that served but as the 
starting point for a fresh disquisition. What he did 
to ease himself by means of anger, his wife did through 
the medium of a more temperate sorrow, saying: 

" Poor boy ! Poor boy ! " " Don't be hard on him, 
Richard." " Dreadful, dreadful ! " Only when her lips 
touched Mrs. Dysart did indignation flash upon them. 
" A married woman. Monstrous ! If she'd been a 
widow without encumbrance, or or anything else and 
that's terrible enough. But a married woman, with a 
grown-up child. To take advantage of a mere boy! 
Has she no conscience? Does she never think he may 
have friends, and others, dear to him ? or how she would 

250 BELLA 

feel if he were a son of hers, and she some other 
woman ? " 

" You were always a girl, Rachel," Pendlip blurted 
out, with an impatience not devoid of kindness and even 
of admiration." There are only two genders, and yet 
you know neither. When it's men, you talk as if it 
was women; and when it's women, you expect them 
to behave like angels. Well, well ! " He did not add : 
" I say no more," though the conclusion seemed in- 
ferred. " It's no use crying over spilled milk. What's 
done can't be undone. The thing is, what's to be done 
now? Are we to shut our eyes, or are we to do some- 
thing? Which is it to be?" 

Mrs. Pendlip reiterated : " Shut our eyes ! " denounc- 
ing the idea by mere inflection. " It is not my husband 
that asks such a thing. There can be no doubt. Of 
course, we must do something. We must help him, 
Richard. At once." 

Pendlip posed a grim " How ? " 

" You will have to write to him without delay. To- 

"And what say?" 

" Appeal to his better nature. He has one still. Bid 
him renounce this wicked folly. He had better come 
home immediately. All shall be forgiven. Remind him 
of Daisy. For her sake we must do something. The 
girl is devoted to him; you know what we have always 
hoped. Of course not a word must be breathed to her. 
It would distress her terribly, Richard, perhaps induce a 
misguided sense of independence. Particularly after 
her illness. She needs all her strength." 

While she spoke her husband slowly paced the floor, 
fitting his feet precisely to the pattern of the carpet, 
with his hands clamped behind him, and his lips puck- 
ered like a canvas purse. The fact was, another in- 

BELLA 251 

fluence overrode his own, and that influence Ronsome's. 
All men or, to render the statement less susceptible 
of contradiction, most men have a sphere in the realm 
of their nature which comes readier under another's 
rule than their own; a department of mind where their 
will governs less absolutely, and submits with little re- 
sistance to the sway of another. In the dominion of 
facts and figures, Richard Pendlip was an autocrat, 
valuing few men's opinions before his own. In the 
dominion of the humanities, though his visage showed 
no change, his tread grew less authoritative. Left to 
himself in such a matter as this, he might have blus- 
tered aimlessly like a March wind, or developed a wrath 
more gusty than discreet. But the influence of the 
luncheon table dominated and disciplined him. He re- 
posed secretly on the wisdom of Ronsome. It was 
Ronsome once his indignation had subsided that 
spoke through him; whose words he quoted senten- 
tiously, as he might do the political pronouncements of 
his morning paper, merely lending the force and con- 
viction of his own tongue to opinions already stamped 
and stereotyped. 

" I asked Ronsome," he told his wife, " ' what's to 
be done ? ' He said : ' Good Lord, man ! Don't mis- 
take my motive in telling you all this. I'm just giving 
you the information for what it's worth, because 
knowledge is as useful as a little small change in the 
pocket at times.' ' But surely we've got to do some- 
thing, Ronsome ! ' I said. ' We can't let a thing like 
this go on and take no means to stop it. We are the 
boy's nearest. You can't deny we have a duty.' ' I 
don't want to deny it,' says he. ' But duty isn't always 
wisdom. Life's full of little things that a wise man 
does well to pretend he hasn't seen. If you were an 
old woman, Pendlip which, thank God, you're not 

252 BELLA 

you'd rush off without a moment's reflection and stir 
up the water until you could see nothing for mud, 
that would take Heaven knows how long to settle. And 
when you'd mulled the whole business hopelessly, and 
the fellow was acting the double fool out of sheer an- 
noyance and silly resentment, you might salve your con- 
science with : " At least I've done my duty." ' ' What ! ' 
I tell him. * Do you want us to sit with our fingers 
in our mouth and watch the boy go headlong to ruin, 
Ronsome ? ' 'I don't want you to put your fingers in 
your mouth at all,' says he, ' unless it's any satisfaction 
to you. But at least they're safer there than plunged 
into somebody else's stew that's a damned sight too 
hot for them, and perhaps upsetting the whole dish. So 
long as you ask my advice and I take it you are ask- 
ing my advice I say, be quite sure the stew's had 
time to cool. It's no good preaching reformation to a 
drunken man; you've got to wait till he's given over 
hiccoughing, and has a head on him that conduces 
to reform. If this fellow were a son of yours which 
he's not; and if he were dependent on you which 
he's not ; or, if he were in any way under your authority 
which he's not, then your course might be clear. You 
could stop his supplies and starve off the woman. You'd 
soon be rid of her. But it seems to me you've no power 
beyond what he's willing to give you. You can only 
appeal to his sentiments; recall the duty and obedience 
he used to give you once upon a time. And don't think 
he hasn't considered these things for himself. When 
a man's thrown convention to the wind, and follows his 
own sweet way in the face of the world ; nails his colors 
to the mast; you may be sure he's made a strong de- 
cision first. It may be a fool's decision, and some day 
he'll repent it but that's the hardest decision to over- 
come. You don't suppose you can argue any stronger 

BELLA 253 

than the man's own decency. If that's gone, what are 
you appealing to ? Besides, he's weighed your wrath 
already, and counted the cost of it. If he'd stood in 
the least awe of your authority he would never have 
let this cat out of the bag. But she's out now, and 
there's no putting her back again. In fact, it looks to 
me as if he doesn't 'want her back. He's let her out 
on purpose Lord knows what for. He may be think- 
ing himself the apostle of a new liberty, for anything 
I know, or something equally heroic and ridiculous. I 
don't think it's depravity.'" 

Mrs. Pendlip contributed an emphatic " I am very 
sure it is not. Very, very sure. He is more sinned 
against than sinning, Richard. I have a, feeling that tells 

me " 

Pendlip did not wait to hear what it told. He was 
busy with Ronsome; recalling the discussion of the 
lunch table. That gentleman's imperturbable compo- 
sure soothed and at the same time vexed him. It was 
counsel in the guise of a cryptogram; a thing like a 
doctor's prescription, whose authority seems the more 
absolute because incomprehensible and beyond chal- 
lenge by the laity; and yet troubles the would-be de- 
cipherer to inquire what these inscrutable symbols are 
in which his well-being lies hid. 

" I said to Ronsome," Pendlip continued, with his 
pince-nez insecurely hooked on the fleshy prominence 
of his nose where the glasses glinted at his words like 
the wings of a dragon-fly " I said to Ronsome : ' But, 
look here, Ronsome. If you were me, and the case 
were yours, what would you do ? ' ! 

" What was his answer ? " 

" It wasn't an answer. He told me : ' Ah, my boy. 
You've got me there. Philosophy is only concerned 
with what other people ought to do.' I put the whole 

254 BELLA 

case before him: about Daisy, and our going to Spa- 
thorpe, and all the rest of it, and said: 'You know 
us. Ronsome. Can we possibly take the girl to Spa- 
thorpe after what's happened ? ' He said : ' Out of the 
question ! ' ' But it's arranged we're to join the fellow 
there next week/ I tell him. ' What's to be done mean- 
while ? We've got to write to him in any event. What's 
to be said? Are we to ignore the whole affair? You 
can't mean that.' He asked ; * Is he engaged to Daisy ? ' 
I answered : ' Not exactly.' He says : ' But is there any 
understanding?' I tell him: 'Well, it depends what 
you mean by understanding. Damme, there's nothing 
to laugh at, Ronsome. They were boy and girl to- 
gether. He's seen more of her than anybody else that 
we know of. They're more like brother and sister.' 
' Ah ! that's the mistake of it,' says he. ' Many a time 
they've sat out in the garden after tennis/ I tell him, 
' and Mrs. Pendlip expected to be told something be- 
fore the night was over.' " 

Mrs. Pendlip made a quick token of remonstrance. 

" Richard ! You never told James Ronsome that ! 
You shouldn't have introduced my name in that way. 
It was unwise." 

" Damme ! " Pendlip ejaculated, " you can't deny 
you did. And Ronsome's a friend. He knows thirty 
years of our secrets. You can't expect counsel if you 
don't give confidence. They're not engaged that's the 
truth of it. And there's no understanding that you or I 
could venture to suggest to Rupert. And as Ronsome 
says : ' That puts Daisy out of count.' We can't recall 
the fellow to any sense of obligation there. And then, 
he's right when he says that if once this question comes 
to an issue between us, there'll perhaps be blood warmed 
on both sides. We shall retire on our dignity, and 

BELLA 255 

Rupert will stick to his independence, and probably keep 
.as clear of Dulwich as he can, and by the time the 
whole thing has blown over we shall all be shy of one 
another, and have to start from the beginning again 
by being polite, like strangers. ' All that has got to be 
considered,' says Ronsome. And, of course, as he re- 
marked, the thing itself isn't so dreadful, if it weren't 
so public. Boys will be boys." 

Mrs. Pendlip pursed her lips into a reproving frill, 
and apostrophized her husband. " Richard ! Don't tell 
me you countenance such a horrid thought as that. 
James Ronsome has no son or daughter to consider." 

As a matter of fact, Pendlip's quotation of his friend 
was not quite verbatim. Ronsome did not say : " Boys 
will be boys," but " We've all been young in our day, 
Pendlip, and possibly a pretty woman could play the 
fool with a number of us even now, if she set her 
mind to it. The nuisance is, she doesn't try. I'm not 
going to quarrel with Rupert's taste, for Isabel Dysart 
is a fine woman, after all's said and done, and looks 
ten years younger than she must be. But that's not 
to say we're going to pawn our respectable gray hairs 
and hard-earned reputations to help youth out with its 
follies. If only the young beggar had been reasonably 
discreet I should have enjoyed taking supper with the 
two of them after the theater one night and hearing 
Isabel sing. Why, for the matter of that I think I did 
hear her sing, Pendlip, for I strolled quietly round by 
Cromwell Lodge after dinner and heard some one 
carolling like the lark over the garden wall. That's 
where I stopped and talked with the 'police sergeant, 
and let him dip his fingers in my cigar case in return 
for a little casual information." 

All this, however with the exception of Ronsome's 


reconnaissance in person of Cromwell Lodge Pendlip 
subjected to discreet revisal. He passed on to other 
parts of Ronsome's counsel. 

" Ronsome talks about ' tact/ but when I ask him 
what he means by tact in this case, he tells me tact is 
easier to define than manage. Tact, he says, is like a 
fine violin, that requires a fiddler to play it but what 
the deuce is the good of that sort of definition to me? 
Then he warns me : ' Above all, don't rush at the fel- 
low and start slapping his head like a bad boy, just 
because somebody else no better, perhaps, but a little 
older has been telling tales about him. He's a grown- 
up man, remember, master of his own mind, money, and 
actions, and any respect he may show you now comes 
only out of the recollection of an old obedience you 
taught him, like a trick to a dog. Perhaps he's for- 
gotten it altogether by now. Don't expect after this 
length of time he will rise at the first word of com- 
mand. In fact, don't try to command him at all. No 
recriminations. No pious expostulations. No crumbs 
of outraged rectitude. No show of authority. No 
strong drugs, but the gentlest homoeopathy for a case 
like this.' 

"'Then you'd write to him?' I asked. 'If your 
mind's set on it,' he answered. * My mind's set on 
nothing,' I tell him. ' So much the better,' says he. 
But in the end he asks : ' Why not run over to Spa- 
thorpe yourself, and see him? You needn't say what 
for. Give him a wire, if you like, just to prepare him 
so that you can make sure of finding him disengaged. 
You don't want to blunder into the thick of it. Ask 
him to dine with you at the hotel and spy out the char- 
acter of the land for yourself. If you see a favorable 
chance to speak, take it.' I asked : ' What do you call 
a favorable chance ? ' He said : ' Probably the second 

BELLA 257 

bottle of Bellinger.' I tell him : ' Why the fellow hardly 
drinks at all.' ' That's rather a pity,' says he. ' Wine is 
so good for the conscience.' ' Is that what you'd do 
yourself, Ronsome?' I asked. 'I?' says Ronsome. 
' Probably I might do far worse than that. Physicians 
prescribe badly for themselves. And as for interfer- 
ence with other people's affairs, why! to tell the truth, 
Pendlip, I've seen so much of it in my time with disas- 
trous results that I'm become a sceptic. I don't know 
whether a man's bad principles so long as they're his 
own aren't better for him than the best intentions de- 
vised by his friends. But that's for you to settle. I 
can't say. I haven't a marriageable daughter.' 

" I'd a very good mind to go to Spathorpe," Pendlip 
remarked. " After all, it was Ronsome's idea. He 
said : ' Think it over. You'll see what I mean.' I could 
go to-morrow take the luncheon train. Well, well, I 
say no more." 

The idea gained on him ; Mrs. Pendlip espoused it 
though the agnostic influence of Ronsome plainly per- 
meated both. 

"Of course, be very careful what you say to him, 
Richard. Do nothing to anger him. You mustn't raise 
your voice as if it were politics. Don't have any words. 
Remember what James Ronsome told you and think 
of Daisy." 

Pendlip resented the aspersion cast upon his voice. 
" Do you think I'm not to be trusted ? " 

His wife, the caution once given made haste to suck 
the venom from it, laying the emollient of flattery on 
the wound. Whom, indeed, could she trust better? 
Their boy was in safe hands, she knew. They pre- 
pared in quickened phrases the programme for the mor- 
row. " You must give him our loves, Richard, our 
special loves, Daisy's and mine. Don't forget Daisy's." 


Pendlip calculated trains, rehearsed himself in the 
prudent ritual of his purpose. " I'll put up at the 
Majestic. He shall dine with me there. It's just a 
run over for a breath of sea-air and a peep at him. 
That's what it is." 

" Daisy has been thinking so much about him, 
lately," Mrs. Pendlip suggested. 

" True, true. Daisy's been thinking so much about 
him lately. And we're a little uncertain whether the 
doctor will allow her to go to Spathorpe next week or 

" The east coast is rather bleak, Richard. We're 
anxious about her chest." 

" To be sure. Rather bleak. Anxious about her 

" Rupert will understand we must do nothing rash. 
Give him our loves, Richard. Of course, I told you 

"And then at dinner. Well, well we shall see." 

" Be sure and choose your opportunity. Daisy is 
stronger, tell him, but looking still very pale. She reads 
his letters over and over again, Richard. Don't forget 
that. They quite bring the color back to her cheeks. 
She opens them before any other. We often talk about 
him. Daisy asks : ' What will Rupert be doing now ? ' 
Illness has not made her forget him, say." 

And so it continues. No word is to be said to 
Daisy. Her father's sudden journey shall not be made 
known to her until she rises on her late pillow next 
morning. Nor will her father's destination be Spa- 
thorpe, but some objective of more commercial signifi- 
cance. In contemplated action despondency goes. Their 
hopes revive. Pendlip says courageously he can but do 
his best. Mrs. Pendlip returns to her comfortable 
earlier hypothesis. 

BELLA 259 

" Perhaps it is all a mistake, Richard. Such mis- 
takes have happened before." 

Pendlip says : "Pray Heaven it may be." 

" Bring him back with you if you can, Richard," 
his wife bids him. " Don't leave the boy there. Any- 
thing may happen when once you're gone. This is his 
home, always his home. Don't fail to tell him that." 

And if Daisy Pendlip were inclined to suspect her 
own fate in any way in the balance, or some mo- 
mentous secret kept from her, she would find the legible 
signs in her mother's sudden intensification of kindness, 
or the difficulty with which she encountered or held her 
father's eye. 


THE telegraph poles grew slower in their flight 
across the carriage window; the train threaded its 
more cautious way through a maze of switch-lines and 
points, a signalman, perched in the open window of 
his high cabin, leaned on elbow to watch it go by. 
There were signs on every hand that the sunlit fields 
and grassy slopes that had borne Pendlip smiling com- 
pany throughout this latter portion of his journey were 
falling behind in this friendly race with the stronger, 
swifter sinews of steel and steam. A great green hill 
rose up on his right hand; swelling out of sight be- 
yond the carriage roof. Pendlip had to stoop in his 
seat to see the summit, where a flag fluttered and three 
or four carriages rested motionless against the sky, and 
small microscopic mortals, that one might have rolled 
into oblivion between a finger and thumb, stood gazing 
down upon this little centipede of wood and iron that 
crawled around them at their base. Other carriages in 
various stages of ascension worked their slow way to 
the summit, that was darkened with foliage and bronze- 
green bracken, scorched beneath a summer of burning 
suns and hinting already the russet-ripeness of autumn. 
At Pendlip's distance all sense of physical exertion 
seemed purged from the scene, leaving nothing but the 
clear delicious essence of pure motion and the stead- 
fast blueness of an afternoon sky. Trees succeeded, 
sweeping the window-squares with whispering leafy 
branches, and dappling the hot carriage with cool 


BELLA 261 

shadows of gold and green. Thereafter came prim 
privet hedges, and walls, yielding glimpses of torrid 
gardens and lawns baking in the sun, with indolent 
rollers cocked up on end to the sky, and cool serpentine 
coils of gutta-percha tubing, ready to refresh the 
parched herb at sundown. And after these, roofs rising 
tier over tier out of the valley at the rail-embankment's 
foot, and crowded chimney stacks; and distant domes 
unheaved slowly in dead beaten gold and burnished 
copper; and a spire or two, and a church tower with 
the hours struck in flame off its luminous clock target; 
and tremendous stars blazing to blindness on glass roofs 
and high windows; and here and there the fairy sheen 
of telephone wires looped from gable to gable like gos- 

The elderly gentleman in the opposite corner of the 
compartment, who had kept revealing a vulcanite palate 
during moments of unguarded and unlovely slumber 
throughout the journey, wakened with a jerk, reclaimed 
the paper that had slipped off his knees every three min- 
utes for the past half hour, and with a miraculous re- 
covery of his faculties addressed himself to the col- 
lection of his belongings after a look through the 
window and a confirmative glance at his watch being 
of the class of individuals that time trains as if they 
were pulses, and will express incomprehension to a 
whole carriageful of any cause that puts the time- 
table a few minutes to the bad, telling Pendlip: "We 
are running nearly punctual to-day, sir. Unusual for 
this line. I put my watch right with York this morn- 
ing, by Greenwich." To which Pendlip, startled out of 
a reverie, returned : " Ha ! " 

Thereupon the gentleman consigned several books 
and a check traveling-cap to a brown dispatch case, 
and took Mr. Pendlip's umbrella into his own hands 

262 BELLA 

under thoughtful consideration before appealing to him 
if he were the owner of it. Pendlip said hurriedly he 
was, and made himself its immediate possessor in fact, 
rising too, in turn, to give a prudent glance above his 
head to either rack and behind him on the cushions 
that were still warm, and bore the impress of his ample 
person. As he did so the train glided into the station, 
sloughing its sunlight like a skin beneath the screened 
dimness of smoked glass roofage, where steam billowed 
against the girders and the busy Westinghouse brake 
began to throb. Long lines of expectant faces slid by 
the carriage; whole parterres of them, row behind row, 
upturned to the passing windows. Here and there quick 
eyes caught sudden sight of what they looked for, and 
faces in the flower-bed blossomed into florid signals of 
recognition, but there was no countenance that Pendlip 
knew. The train, gathering leech-like porters to all its 
first-class doors, drew to a standstill and the faces closed 
in upon it; a typical sea-side throng in sweaters and 
flannels and flaunting summer raiment; tanned or 
many of them like pennies fresh from the mint ; coined 
symbols of scorching days and fierce hot sand and briny 
waters and August idleness. Even above the smell of 
sweating mechanism and axle-grease, and stale steam 
there came to Pendlip, as the door opened, the unmis- 
takable nip of ocean; the saline freshness of wide wa- 
ters, with a redolence of the finny denizens that swim 
in them; the vigor of air cooled across miles of rolling 
sea, and made hot by reflection from dry and glittering 
sands; as air to the lungs what wine is to the body 
and doubly so to this newcomer from the brick-kiln 
capital called London. Ah ! but for the consciousness of 
his errand, how Richard Pendlip might have broadened 
his chest to make room for more of this invigorating 
element; drawn it in to the ultimate capacity of his 



lungs, ready for genial expulsion in greeting to the Poet! 
"Well, well, my boy! There you are at last! Glad 
to see you! Feeling fit, are you? That's right! Well 
well " 

But now his lungs compressed material for no such 
salutation. Except in finance, where his immobile face 
served as a masked battery for figures, Richard Pendlip 
was no actor. Do what he would, he knew his greeting 
must be lukewarm; his tongue shunned, as with a con- 
science of its own, the simulated phrases. His eye even, 
shirked a recognition of the object of its search, know- 
ing already that it could not kindle with the gladness 
expected of it, and only looked the bolder at the crowd 
with a gathering confidence that what it stood in awe 
of was not there. Yes. Nobody who watched this 
magnate step from his compartment with an obsequious 
porter half -obliterated behind the amplitude of him, 
would have suspected such a form to be the home of 
trumpery misgivings. And yet with every mile that 
removed him further from Ronsome and brought him 
nearer to his task, the store of Pendlip's confidence 
that precious lubricant of action without which all hu- 
man mechanism creaks and labors had diminished, and 
the uphill gradient had seemed to steepen. Situations not 
seen as difficulties before detached themselves at nearer 
hand into independent problems of magnitude. Pendlip 
began to doubt his stomach for the enterprise, and 
wished, respecting not a few contingencies that rose one 
after the other like waves, imparting an up and down 
and very dubious motion to his mind, that he had put 
them first to Ronsome. For, by so much as we incline 
to the counsel of another, our own initiative lessens, 
and it is possible to find ourselves at last, as Pendlip 
did, in some unsatisfactory mid-position between inde- 
pendence and servitude; possessed of a mind that 

264 BELLA 

neither acts for us nor for another, but serves two 
masters and betrays them both. If Pendlip fabricated 
one explanation of his visit during the course of his 
journey, he fabricated a score; he was as busy as a lock- 
smith, making motives to fit the occasion, and still 
feared whichever key he ultimately used would stick in 
the turning and betray its manufacture. Nor even on 
descent at the Spathorpe station had he selected which 
should be employed; they jangled loosely in his mind, 
and he confided himself to Providence with an improvi- 
dence he would have condemned in an investor. 

But no Poet's face embarrassed him. Other faces 
pressed past; other hands, to whom this stationary 
portly figure was but an obstacle, pulled at his sleeve 
for passage. He stood in a commotion of voluble hu- 
manity, rock-like, towering above all its flux, and his 
first thought was : " The fellow hasn't dared to come." 
The conviction lent grimness to his mind, and if he 
would have confessed it a measure of relief equiva- 
lent to that with which coerced courage learns that the 
dentist, after all, is not at home. Well, he had done his 
duty; he had faced the guns. If the Poet were too 
much occupied or too guilty to keep this appointment, 
the fault was none of Pendlip's. 

And then, just as the pleated lips turned to renounce 
attendance and give directions to the porter, his eye 
at the very moment of exercising its function least 
showed him the face he almost hoped to miss. His 
careless gaze, left high and dry by the receding crowd, 
grounded on the shallows. Before he could refloat it, 
his stranded bark was signaled and a rocket fired from 
shore. Next moment the Poet's own sunburned hand 
was making the rope secure, clasping Pendlip's leg of 
mutton hand in his and shaking it with a fervor that 
seemed to know neither shame nor deception. If Pend- 

' This is the little friend you have read so much about 


lip's disquietude had magnified &e ordeal of the en- 
counter, this greeting, at least, put his apprehensions to 
rout. The Poet's first query, after his words of wel- 
come, was for Daisy. 

"How is she?" 

Pendlip recalled, too late, the lingering cough and 
the bleak coast. In the spasm of the moment he could 
only think of the truth. 

" Ever so much better. Gaining strength nicely." 

" I was a little afraid at first " 

"Yes, yes " 

"And Mrs. Pendlip?" 

" Thank you, thank you " 

" I'm awfully glad you've come " 

"Well, well, well " 

And then he saw that other face drawn forward, 
that he had been desperately trying to overlook all this 
while, and felt that other, softer, smaller hand placed 
within his own, and heard the fateful words that linked 
him indissolubly with all he had wished and striven to 

" This is the little friend you have read so much 
about Miss Dysart" ("Dysart? Ay! That was the 
name. James Ronsome had made no mistake!") 
"who sent all those kind messages to Daisy. She has 
come down on purpose to meet you and make your 
acquaintance. Haven't you, Bella? " 

From out of the mist of the girlish personality that 
Pendlip's vision sought to repel from, rather than admit 
to, his consciousness, he caught the sound of a soft 
" O my ! " among other words his hearing wilfully re- 
jected. The little hand, taken and liberated as briefly 
as might be, stirred in him the resentment for a compact 
gained by trickery. 

He said : " Yes, yes" and the face that reverted 

266 BELLA 

to the Poet was harder, though to the Poet it only 
seemed more aged than when last seen, and gravity 
more habituated to it. He did not divine the expletive 
held behind the tightened lips. " Condemn the fellow ! " 
Pendlip was saying to himself. " Is he so devoid of 
sense as this? What's he brought the girl here for? 
I didn't ask for her. Does he think to hoodwink me, 
or is he using her to stop my mouth? Good Lord! 
Now what would James Ronsome say to this ? " The 
look he plunged into the boy's eyes was, despite his 
pledged policy, almost sword-like and severe. A guilty 
conscience must have flinched under the thrust of it, 
or shown retaliatory steel. " Am I then such a very- 
big fool ? " Pendlip's indignation seemed to challenge 
the Poet. " Am I ? Come ! A truce to dissimulation. 
Let us deal with the truth of things." 

But yet, there showed no dissimulation about this 
face, so familiar to Pendlip's present sight and past re- 
membrance. The boy looked back at him whom Pend- 
lip had always known ; frankness and friendliness welled 
up and overflowed his smiling eyes. Beneath that 
rapier-like thrust of scrutiny he never flinched. The 
olive brownness of his open cheek told of salt breezes 
and burning suns; of vice or hidden wisdom the coun- 
tenance betrayed no trace. He stood with his arm 
slipped through the arm of the girl, as he had drawn 
her forward to Pendlip's notice, and interpreted her 
presence with a candor as unintelligible as it was clear. 

" Bella knows almost as much about you," he told 
the older man, " as I know myself, and is ever so anxious 
to know more. I promised to tell her heaps of things 
if she would agree to take them like the new nurse, 
without a character. But no. She's such a girl for 
truth. So I said she'd better come and ask you all 



about yourself in person. If there's any business to be 
discussed " 

'There is," Pendlip interposed, more hastily than 

"It can be left over awhile!" the Poet completed, 
laughingly. " Of course, you are coming back with us 
now. You will take tea with us. And after that you 
will dine with me." 

" No, no " Pendlip drew forth his watch, finger- 
ing it as though to suggest the pressure of time and 
affairs. " It's very good of you. Fact is I never 
thought. I've ordered my room and dinner for two at 
the Majestic by wire. I want you to be my guest. 
There are several little matters" for the life of him 
could he have said what little matters they were, at the 
moment "to be discussed." 

Go back with " us " ! Take tea with " us " ! What 
on earth did the fellow mean? How would James 
Ronsome have treated such audacity as that? The 
porter, at Pendlip's elbow, dangling the brown port- 
manteau from a limp arm, caught the owner's eye 
adroitly, and a swift responsive forefinger flew to his 

"Kerridge, sir?" 

" Carriage," Pendlip repeated. With a loose move- 
ment the man set off for the cab-rank, Pendlip's port- 
manteau buffeting the hollow of his knee. Pendlip said : 
"Well, well " and directed an irresolute look at the 
Poet, half helpless, half inquiring. " Then you will dine 
with me ? " he asked. 

" Since you won't dine with me," the Poet answered. 

" Well then" said Pendlip, and the difficulty in his 
gaze renewed itself. He tried to make the glance con- 
vey a pointed insinuation for the Poet's company unat- 

268 BELLA 

tended ; a demand for privacy ; but to the Poet this look 
showed no variation from the first merely the ab- 
stracted gaze of a grave and elderly man. 

" At least, we will drive with you," the Poet sug- 
gested, " if you'll have us." 

Pendlip, fuming impotently within, said: "To be 
sure." Had Bella taken leave of them at that moment, 
his remonstrance must have broken forth, Ronsome or 
no Ronsome; despite his pledges, wife and daughter. 
But the girl's attention, small and meek but curiously 
close, wandered all over him, he knew, like a fly upon 
a ceiling, and with an eye hundredfold in power of 
perceptiveness. He gathered up the corners of his lips 
and passed with his companions to the waiting landau ; 
an open vehicle of the old Spathorpe regime, driven by 
an ancient marine-looking gentleman with a crimson 
visage, who appeared as if he might have come out 
of a lobster pot. In this relic of decayed gentility 
Pendlip took his submissive place, breathing as if he 
had reached it by a flight of stairs. Mrs. Dysart's un- 
desirable daughter sat by his side; indeed, had the man 
but known it he was seated on part of her frock. Bella 
tried to release it once, but dared make no second at- 
tempt lest she should draw Pendlip's attention to the 
situation and disturb him into ruffled apologies, which 
above all Bella dreaded from so august a personage. 
The Poet faced them both, with his back to the lobster 
and the jaded horse. 


A T first Pendlip professed interest in all things over 
** the carriage wheel to the exclusion of the two 
other occupants. But as they drove out of the dim 
sanctuary of the station into the sunlit openness of 
Spathorpe, his gaze shortened its area, and shrunk 
abashed from the odious publicity in which he felt him- 
self paraded. For Richard Pendlip held fast by the 
public proprieties, and sat as wretched in this false 
position as he would have done in a Labor Member's 
carriage, drawn by cheering socialists, with a red rosette 
pinned to his lapel. Every face that looked his way 
burned like the sun above. Shadrack, Meshack and 
Abed-nego, that historic trinity of fire-eaters, felt less 
scorch from Nebuchadnezzar's furnace than Pendlip, 
dragged unwilling through these consuming flames of 
notice. His indignation condemned himself and his ill- 
considered telegram of the morning. " Why did I wire 
the fellow ! I might have known by what Ronsome told 
me he would do something senseless. If I'd merely 
asked him to dine with me at the hotel he couldn't have 
let me in for a thing like this. What will people think 
of me! At my age." 

Yet here was the author of his wretchedness, his 
boy's smiling face thrust forward, chattering into Pend- 
lip's wandering ear as if their progress were a pleasure 
drive; implicating the girl's voice, too, and forcing 
Pendlip out of his protective abstraction into the free 
exchange of words. And such is the instinct of human 


270 BELLA 

nature for companionship that Pendlip even found this 
conversation in the carriage more supportable than the 
stares awaiting him beyond, and took refuge with the 
very causes of his discomfort from the publicity his 
uneasiness imagined they drew upon him. So, rather 
than expose his face to the causeways that to his un- 
easy conscience teemed with observant Ronsomes he 
leaned forward in the carriage, and being forced to give 
some countenance to the presence of the undesired pas- 
senger, discovered Isabel Dysart's daughter to be, as 
his own mind phrased it, " an exceedingly attractive 
girl." Nay, more than this. Each time Richard Pend- 
lip paid his youthful companion the compliment of a 
look at her gray eyes, the resentment in him at once 
died down; something akin to pity took its place. For 
Pendlip, despite his gray side-whiskers and financial lip, 
was not blind to beauty, and had the vanity to think 
beauty was not altogether blind to him. When Ron- 
some reminded him that each was one time young, he 
spoke the truth, whatever else the saying might impute. 
Pendlip's severe profile was as susceptible to the melt- 
ing blandishments of a pretty woman as the Poet's own ; 
and the older man flattered himself on his power to be 
popular with youth. At the third look at this gentle 
figure of girlhood, on whose imprisoned skirt unwit- 
.tingly he sat, Pendlip's heart grew lenient. Justice 
stirred in him. An internal voice argued : " After all. 
What has this poor child to do with it ? Why make her 
innocence suffer with the guilty?" The soft insistence 
of her gaze, always on his face, and very searching, yet 
mild as April sunshine when looked at, made an appeal 
to his pride. " I don't want her to think me an old 
curmudgeon," his soul confessed. "Damme, I'm not 
that yet. This drive is none of her doing. I've no 
quarrel with her. Heaven help her, she's only a child 

BELLA 271 

now, whatever she may come to be. And after all, she 
sent her love to us, and I've taken it, and sent ours back. 
Even James Ronsome wouldn't expect me to act the 

Nor did he. Once his mind drew its definite division 
between Bella Dysart and the faults with which, like 
him, she was so innocently confounded, his reticence 
thawed. She saw a new Pendlip in place of the old, 
and thought, perhaps, the earlier figure had been shy. 
Even to the Poet it seemed the Spathorpe sun began 
appreciably to warm his former guardian's heart, and 
in his more expansive smiles perceived the effect of 
these pleasant surroundings and potent air. Pendlip, 
like all men pledged to a task disliked, was glad to cry 
truce with what oppressed him, recovering wonderfully 
in spirit the moment it was proclaimed, and knew the 
opposing forces were dehostilized till dinner. And 
though he tried to keep his friendliness free of hy- 
pocrisy, and his laughter of all that could (by later light) 
be viewed as guile, he did his best to be himself, and 
act toward the delinquent as the delinquent did to him, 
and to the girl as her age and sex and gentleness 

True, as they drew up before the gilded facade 
of the Majestic, Pendlip's apprehensions shrunk be- 
neath something of the former constraint. He would 
have heaved a sigh of deliverance here, had this fa- 
vored part of Spathorpe shown less sun and animation, 
but he noted with dismay the rows of merciless cigars 
upon the spacious steps, the range of wicker-chairs 
buried beneath feminine flounces, receding into the wel- 
come dimness of the domed vestibule; the stream of 
curious people that slackened visibly as the landau came 
to a standstill, and he drew his breath at the necessity 
to run the gauntlet of so many eyes, fearing to look to 

272 BELLA 

right or left lest an imprudent glance might betray the 
presence of some odious acquaintance. Here, if any- 
where, since there was no withdrawal, the girl furnished 
a welcome foil to his feelings; his eye had in her a 
shield, his lips a buckler. As the landau grated its 
forewheel against the curb, and the resplendent porters 
ran nimbly down the hotel steps, Bella was busy with 
confidences and interrogations, the warmth of her fingers 
penetrating through Pendlip's knee, where her hand had 
tumbled in the interest of the conversation. " O my ! " 
she exclaimed, with a touch of regret for the conclu- 
sion of so brief a journey, " Here we are ! It's a beau- 
tiful hotel isn't it! from the outside. Of course, I've 
never been inside. I've only peeped up the steps and 

It would have taken a sterner man than Richard 
Pendlip to tread this gentle daisy of suggestion under- 
foot. Besides, there was nothing now to be lost or 
gained before the sight of all these people. The ill 
if ill there were was wrought already. And Bella's 
charm had worked upon him. Beauty and a soft tongue 
and yearning eyes and the tenderness of youth had 
softened him and roused his affections. Despite all sur- 
rounding her and implicating himself, Pendlip liked the 
girl, and where there is true liking, a man inclines to be 

" Well," he told her genially. " And so now you're 
coming inside to see for yourself, aren't you ? " 

"Am I ? " cried Bella joyously. " O my ! I should 
love it. Thank you ever so much. Oh, Roo ! Did you 
hear ! Mr. Pendlip's invited me inside ! " 

At the bure&u Pendlip inquired the number of his 
rooms from a tired pretty girl, who looked as if she had 
worn out her energies at a ball the night before. She 
rose wearily from some writing at an inner desk, and 

BELLA 273 

turned some papers with a lifeless hand that might 
never have known any warmer response than the pres- 
.sure of her own pen. There was ink on the forefinger 
that strayed languidly over the entries, and a little on 
her lip. 

"Pendlip?" she read out interrogatively. Pendlip 
acknowledged the name. "Sitting-room and bedroom 
booked by wire this morning? Dinner for two at eight 
o'clock? Private service? Thank you. Forty-four and 
forty-five." And she passed him the visitors' book to 
sign. " Send up tea in ten minutes," Pendlip told her. 
The tired girl scanned his signature unemotionally, and 
blotted it. " Tea for three? " she inquired, looking over 
Pendlip's shoulder with automatic calculation. Pendlip 
turned on his heel in swift inquiry. "Of course, of 
course," he said, as though the question called for no 
dispute; to the window adding a conclusive "Thank 

And this is how Bella Dysart came to take tea as she 
had so dearly desired with the august Mr. Pendlip, in a 
big private sitting-room of the Majestic, overlooking 
the bay; a wondrous high sitting-room, perched or so 
it seemed half way up to the sun, with a balcony 
(could loyalty but admit it) more amazing than the Poet's 
own, that conferred upon the courageous beholder from 
it, a thrilling sense of sheerness and precipitous inse- 
curity, as if out here one were upheld by nothing but 
the tender mercy of infinite Heaven. So perilously 
perched, indeed, that when one wanted to show one's 
friends where one lived with one's mamma, one had to 
hold tight to the iron balustrade with one hand while 
one pointed with the other; though, after a little prac- 
tice and familiarity, one knew for certain that one 
would have the courage to run in and out between the 
big round room and blue immensity as if one were bred 

274 BELLA 

to altitude and the elements like a bird. In this room 
they shared a glorious repast, with special cakes and 
sweetnesses for Bella for though the leonine Pendlip 
in his own home turned confectioner's trumpery over 
with a critical and supercilious finger, inquiring: 
"What's this? What do you call these?" and always 
ultimately served himself to bread and butter, he flat- 
tered his heart he knew the ways and tastes of young 
ladies, and called to the white-faced waiter as he was 
about to take his leave : " No, no. Stop a moment. 
Hello! Psst! Let's have something sweet and insub- 
stantial as well; something for a young lady; chocolate 
cake or meringues, if you've got 'em." 

And tea (partaken in private, apart from curious 
and complicating eyes) assumed almost the character 
of a birthday party. When Pendlip grown nearly back 
into his external self once more, now there was no gaze 
of outraged propriety to be feared uttered at length the 
well-known phrase that Bella had been waiting for so 
vigilantly, she could not restrain herself, but cried in 
triumph to the Poet : " O my ! He's said it now, hasn't 
he ! " turning next as horrified a crimson as the cherry 
plums in the fruit cake, while the Poet shook with 

" Said what ? " inquired Pendlip, perplexed, but smil- 
ing too. 

" Only a little joke of our own," the Poet answered. 
" I'll tell you later." And indeed he meant to do, but 
that more serious matters interposed, and the cause of 
Bella's coloration and his own laughter was never 

And then, after one farewell experience of the won- 
der of the window, the Poet and Bella took their leave; 
Bella full of gratitude and afTection, and not now in 
the least fear of this figure of masculine majesty. 

BELLA 275 

"Good-by," she said, before Pendlip's own bow- 
fronted presence. "But no. Of course it's not good- 
by. I shall see you again to-morrow, shan't I ! " 

The question resurrected all the host of Pendlip's 
buried difficulties. The finality of this meeting stood 
spectrally revealed. His mouth accumulated creases. 

" I'm afraid," he began. Bella's eye grew round and 
serious. The Poet cut into Pendlip's sentence. " What 
you don't mean to say you're going?" 

" I fear so," Pendlip answered. " Must get back to 
town to-morrow." 

Bella emitted the most mournful "O my!" The 
Poet plunged into friendly expostulation. "But you 
can't. You mustn't " 

" He must see mamma first, mustn't he ! " cried Bella. 

It was scarcely, perhaps, what the Poet had intended. 
He did not take up the suggestion with promptitude, 
and Pendlip, who winced at it, drew an omen from the 
sign. " Well, well," said he, and put an end to the dis- 
cussion with a suggestion of infinality. "We'll see. 
We can talk about that later. You'll be here at eight ? " 
The Poet assured him: "With pleasure." Bella still 
stood before the portly form, her brow on a level with 
the gold watch-chain. Again Pendlip took her little 
hand in his, and said : " Good-by." She breathed a 
wistful " Good-by " in return, and pleaded : " You won't 
go away to-morrow, will you ! " Pendlip smiled : " Oh, 
well, well, well ! " And then, misinterpreting a move- 
ment of his, the girl lifted up a frank smooth cheek, 
browner now than when the Poet first beheld it. Only 
for an instant did Pendlip debate whether to acknowl- 
edge or ignore the action. Then he lowered his tower- 
ing shoulders and did the man. Bella put both her arms 
around the neck inclined to her, and kissed with a 
vehement affection that surprised the recipient. For 

276 BELLA 

some reason best known to inscrutable Providence or 
the wisdom of our mother Nature certainly not clearly 
to Pendlip's self the act produced an uncomfortable 
sensation behind his eyelids as if perhaps though he 
hoped not in the course of his journey some engine- 
grit had lodged in them. He said : " There, there," and 
patted paternally the girl's shoulder with his broad hand, 
and did not look at the Poet when she let go her hold 
of him. 

And when his guests were gone, he tucked his hands 
under his coat behind him, and confronted the window 
for quite five minutes ; staring out upon a scene of soft 
and glowing enchantment, without registering an item 
of its beauty; pondering these things that had come to 
pass and the unknown things to come. His eyeglasses 
balanced on his nose like an apothecary's scales ; one 
eyebrow pushed a range of furrows up to his temple; 
the other made a lowering shade for the eye beneath; 
his underlip protruded like a tongue. He did not look 
lovely, but superlatively thoughtful. " What's a man 
to make of it?" he asked himself at last. "Is the 
whole business smoke? Damme, if it wasn't for James 
Ronsome, I could almost believe that Rachel's right." 


T> ARELY two hours later, in the same room, the Poet 
*J destroyed with ruthless hand the white bishop's 
miter marking his place at table, and drew the napkin 
across his knees in obdurate starched squareness. 
Pendlip, adjusting himself to his complete satisfaction 
in the chair opposite, with one eye on the menu and the 
other on the wine-list, called out to the Poet for his 
choice in liqueurs, and held mysterious colloquy with the 
white-faced waiter, stooping to the gentleman's left ear 
with a respectful knuckle on the table corner, and point- 
ing out the significances of the wine-list with a hand 
clasped about a serviette. Each word of Pendlip's drew 
him down to the patron's ear, bending him from the 
waist as if he worked by means of bell-wire. What- 
ever he had to say, issued from him more like breath 
than voice; he seemed to serve a mourner, whose re- 
cent sorrow must be spared unnecessary speech. At 
each order he flicked the corner of the table with his 
napkin before returning to the perpendicular once more, 
and melted from sight on errands like spring snow. 
In the room itself he heard nothing but what was 
directly addressed to him, when a whisper sufficed; 
keeping his eye expertly from collision with the glances 
of those he served; obedient to the fundamentals of his 
calling, that a waiter's eye should see all but be seen 
by none. Otherwise if a waiter may be admitted a 
fitting subject for speculation he bore the semblance 
of a married man to whom domestic suffering was not 


278 BELLA 

unknown, and the hand that poured the foaming drink 
of Dionysus into Pendlip's cup, was not without a care- 
worn look about its veins, as if it knew to nurse and 
chastise youth, and even propel the doleful bassinet. 

The meal ran its course comfortably enough. The 
intellectual pace was easy; a child might have kept up 
with it. The fire of conversation was mainly fed by 
small coal. Pendlip told the tale about Dr. Johnson 
and the leg of mutton, that the Poet first laughed at 
when he came home from his first term at school, and 
recalled a dozen occasions when Pendlip had told it 
better. For the older man did not desire too big a 
blaze at present, at which to warm the palms of friend- 
ship, lest under influence of its comfortable flame duty 
might find her task too hard. Each smile shared with 
the Poet now, seemed to Pendlip's super-conscience 
base; each jest at heart a traitor. For, every laugh 
contributed to Pendlip's trouble and perplexity, and 
lent the force of a further falsehood to the mounting 
score of the Poet's deception. When Pendlip reminded 
himself that all this dissimulating edifice of their meal 
must ere long be demolished, and reduced to debris, he 
grew abstracted, and applied the wine-glass nervously 
to his lips. He had an uneasy consciousness of taking 
advantage of the boy; decoying him thus with a feigned 
fair face into the meshes of the nest spread for him, 
and wished now he had been frank enough to speak 
at first and had not made the difficulties of both sides 
harder by protraction. Time and again, profiting by 
the waiter's absence, he had it on the tip of his tongue 
to blurt out his confession and be done with it : " Look 
here, my boy," and so on to " Well, well, I say no 
more." But on each occasion in the face of an im- 
pulse so strong that it shook the wine-glass lifted in 
preface to what should follow, he let himself be diverted 

BELLA 279 

by the most trivial word or action on the Poet's part. 
His purpose seemed imbued with the quality ot a sun- 
beam, that can travel millions of miles and in the end 
be turned and thwarted by a mirror. 

Here, at such close quarters, all Ronsome's philos- 
ophy was confounded. This rumor, so reasonable in 
London, showed incredible at Spathorpe for all he 
could not doubt the truth of it. He looked and mar- 
veled at the Poet's blameless face, seeking in vain over 
that unblemished countenance for some visible grub-hole 
to mark the evil at the Poet's core. And by that very 
reason his tongue seemed tied. He feared to cast the 
first stone at such a surface of plate-glass hypocrisy, 
for what should follow; the crash; the awful ruination 
and collapse of all this smiling frontage ; the stammer- 
ings; the expostulations; the lies and falsehoods, even, 
reared up in temporary barricade to screen the assailed 
from the assailant, and doing that irreparable damage 
against which James Ronsome had warned him. So 
the courses passed by. 

They talked of Mrs. Pendlip and of Daisy. The 
Poet, with a frankness that lent embarrassment to the 
task before his host, sang full-throatedly his Spathorpe 
days and doings. All, that is, save one and that one 
Richard Pendlip grimly noted. The name Bella came 
frequently upon the Poet's lips, but that other though 
they spoke her once or twice without emphasis passed 
through his discourse chiefly under cover of the plural 
pronoun, shading her like a parasol. "We," did this 
or that ; " we," went here or there. Occasionally, as a 
matter of differentiation, though unexplained, the Poet 
made use of the qualifying "all," to express Mrs. 
Dysart's presence. " We all went to the theater," " We 
all took tea at Wehrli's." But of any more elaborate 
allusion to Mrs. Dysart there was none. The signifi- 

280 BELLA 

cance of the silence pricked Pendlip like a pin, con- 
firming his worst fears. " Ronsome's right. Rachel's 
wrong," he told himself, when Mrs. Dysart passed 
ominously in the plural. And then, perhaps, some out- 
burst of laughter on the Poet's part, some open refer- 
ence to Cromwell Lodge and Bella, caused him to shape 
a perplexed " Damme, I can't make the fellow out a bit. 
Is it Ronsome or Rachel, after all ? " 

Cheese and dessert gave way to the graceful fra- 
grance of coffee. Pendlip lit his cigar. The white- 
faced waiter waftily withdrew. They toyed with the 
stems of their liqueur glasses. There came a lull in the 
conversation; a gap between words, widening precipit- 
ously, and Pendlip saw before him an abyss. Whose 
bosom holds a secret dreads silence most of all, for at 
such a moment mere thoughts acquire voices and seem 
to shout from the brain. Pendlip's head ran full of 
them. He coughed a wanton cough, feigning its cause 
in the smoke of his cigar. Once or twice during the 
meal the Poet had looked at him with a face of sudden 
inquiry, hastily parried. All at once the look framed 
itself anew, and gathered to a head of speech : " By 
the way " It was the crisis. This time Pendlip knew 
his hour was at hand. He tightened his lips over the 
cigar, and the end of it glowed red-hot to his long- 
drawn inhalation. His eye converged to the fiery center 
beyond his nose. After awhile he approached two 
fingers circuitously to his lips and transferred the Ha- 
vana to their fork. A volume of liberated smoke 
poured out in pursuit of it. 

" By the way did you say there was some business 
to discuss ? " 

Pendlip knocked the ashen head of his cigar against 
the coffee-saucer. " I did." 

He had not wished his words terse; had tried, in- 



deed, to utter them with a reflection of the Poet's smile, 
but despite intention they left his lips divorced from 
the geniality he meant to incorporate with them. No 
helpful glimmer of intelligence shone in the Poet's face. 
The smile was still the boy's smile, as much friendly as 

Still, when Pendlip sucked deliberately at his cigar 
again, he asked: "What business is it?" Pendlip low- 
ered the cigar and looked at him a moment. 

" Can you guess ? " 

The Poet shook his head. " I'm no good at guess- 
ing. Is it Hewitson's?" 

Pendlip thought: "Is it ignorance or obstinacy?" 
Aloud he said : " No, no. It's not Hewitson, James and 
Company. (I fancy we shall see an improvement in 
their next half-year's account. The last lock-out did 
them a lot of harm. These trades-unions are the devil.) 
No, it's not Hewitson, James and Company." He 

The Poet said to himself: "Why, this preamble? 
What business is it ? " And then his old hypothesis of 
the telegram flashed back upon him. " It can't be 
Aloud, his words differed from his thoughts to the same 
extent as Pendlip's. 

"Anything important?" he asked carelessly. 

" If I had not thought so, I should not be here." 

" You came on purpose for that ? " 

"Largely. Partly. That and other things. That 
principally. Yes. That since you ask me." Thoughts 
of Ronsome and his wife Rachel rendered Pendlip's 
policy unsteady. 

The Poet subscribed : " Oh," and after a moment : 
" Tell me what it is." 

" You have no idea ? " 

" Not the least." But to his conscience he admitted 

282 BELLA 

the falsehood here. He said to himself incredulously: 
" By gad ! It's that after all," and by consequence dis- 
played more carelessness and less perception. And yet 
his acting must have been creditable, for Pendlip 
gaining courage through this procrastination scruti- 
nized the .boy keenly across his cigar, and said to him- 
self : " I believe he hasn't. Is Rachel going to be right, 
after all?" 

" You'll acquit me of interference, I hope, my boy," 
he said. 

The Poet responded with an immediate " Certainly, 
sir," employing the old title of respect to mark ack- 
nowledgment of Pendlip's authority and assure him of 
a deference still owed and cheerfully subscribed. 
" There's nobody with a better right to speak to me 
than you. As for interference, the word doesn't exist 
for me where you are concerned. Don't hesitate to say 
whatever you may have to say." To himself he added : 
" What the hangment is it going to be ? " 

" Why, true, true," Pendlip acknowledged, mollified 
by the boy's tribute, coming thus on the top of sus- 
picions and champagne. " Perhaps you may tell me 
it's not my business. Well, well, perhaps it isn't. But 
I speak only for your good. Everybody's business is 
anybody's business, and when it comes to anybody's 
business I think it's as much my business as another's. 
I can't keep silence when everybody else is talking." 

This time, thought he, the fellow surely cannot fail 
to blink with this flash of truthfulness in his eyes. 
" Now do you understand what business I allude to ? " 
he demanded. 

The Poet answered : " No better than before." It 
is true his smile had left him now, but not his facial 
sincerity. " Unless you mean that people are talking 
about me?" 

BELLA 283 

Pendlip answered briefly: "They are." 
" I don't understand what in the world they can have 
to say." 

" For one thing . . ." 

'" They say your friendships are not discreet." 

"Which friendships?" 

"Your Spathorpe friendships." 

" I have but one." 

" That is the one." 

"What! Bella Dysart?" He knew and recognized 
his slight deception in tendering first the name he was 
sure would be rejected. 

" I mean her mother." 

"Mrs. Dysart?" 

" Yes." 

" Oh ! " The word was not so much an interjection as 
a momentary resting place for the voice. The Poet's 
smile came back with it, less open than before, as if it 
wrapped a slightly bitter kernel. " I did not think I 
was of so much interest to everybody." 

Pendlip said : " Damme, Rupert. People have eyes 
and tongues. The world must see and talk." He 
thought of Ronsome. " Remember, boy, I have not 
come here to abuse you. I bring no recriminations, 
no expostulations, no show of authority. You are your 
own master. Boys will be boys. I've been a boy my- 
self." (The Poet thought: "When?") " But I can't 
hear what I have heard and give no warning. I'd 
rather you should blame me for overstepping my duty 
than neglecting it." 

"And what have you heard?" 

"What was I likely to hear?" 

" Heaven knows." 

" Come ! " said Pendlip, disturbed by this blank ob- 

284 BELLA 

tuseness on the Poet's part. " Let's be open with one 
another. You can't deny you are always with this 

" ' This woman ' ? Is that what Everybody calls 

" It is." 

" And who is Everybody. He has a name. What 
is it?" 

"That doesn't matter." 

" To me it matters a great deal. Everybody may 
prove to be no friend of mine." 

" On the contrary, the Everybody in question is a 
friend of yours." 

"Very well if you don't care to trust me. I sup- 
pose you were told in confidence. That is the weapon 
friends chiefly make use of to stab one another." 

Pendlip demurred : " No stabbing, Rupert, no stab- 
bing at all. You misjudge the motive. It was Ronsome 
told me, if you must know." 



" You surprise me. How does Ronsome come into 
the business ? " 

" He has been in Spathorpe." 


" The past week-end." 

" And saw me ? " 

" Frequently." 

" And never spoke ! Never declared himself ! " 

" Well, well. I don't blame him. After all, Rupert, 
you could scarcely expect it." 

" Scarcely expect it ? Why in the world not ? What 
has Ronsome done that he thinks I have cause to be 
ashamed of him ? " 



" Look here, Rupert. All the years I knew you as 
a boy, you never once told me a falsehood." 
. The Poet broke in: "Yes I did. Twice at least, to 
my remembrance. Probably more." 

Pendlip said, " Well, well. Twice. That's not what 
I mean. That's nothing. I mean as a general thing. 
Come now, on your honor, boy. Is this thing true or 

"Is what thing true or false?" 

"The thing people say about you. Is it true you 
are keeping this woman ? " 

Now, for the first time, Pendlip saw the unmistak- 
able consequences of enlightenment. Whether his shaft 
pierced innocence or guilt, there was no doubt the head 
was struck well home. The smile drained imperceptibly 
from the Poet's lips, leaving only its conformation be- 
hind. So this, he told himself incredulously, was the 
conundrum solved at last; the cause at the back of 
Pendlip's telegram. He had scarcely bargained for a 
blow so blunt. For awhile, with the square impress on 
his forehead, he could only stare at the administrator 
of it. 

" Is that what they say ? " 

"Yes." There came a pause. "Well. You don't 
deny it?" 

" Is it necessary to deny it ? " 

"Not unless not unless" He sought refuge in 
appeal. " Don't tell me it's true, Rupert." 

"Absolutely false." 

Pendlip looked at the boy and drew a long breath 
of relief. Rachel was right, after all. What news for 

"Thank God!" 

"What for?" 

286 BELLA 

" Because it's untrue." 

" I see no reason to thank God for a falsehood." 

" Well, well perhaps not. I am no theologian." 

" Ronsome knew this when he was in Spathorpe 
last week? And never spoke! I see, I was the dis- 
reputable fox-terrier of a friend, on the loose miles 
away from home, and he was afraid I might attach 
myself to his heels. Is that it? Still, I think he might 
have given me a word." 

" If Ronsome had thought there was a word to 
give," Pendlip took up, " he would have given it, Ru- 
pert, you may be sure. But Ronsome thought Why, 
confound it, boy! What could he think? He thought 
what everybody else thought. You made no secret of 
it. You were always with her. And then her repu- 
tation, too. You know what she is." 

" What she is ! " the Poet repeated, with a sudden 
contraction of his brows. "What do you mean? What 
is she?" 

Pendlip, who had been balancing his pince-nez with 
a judicial right hand, slipped the glasses on his nose 
and peered over them in astonishment. 

" Surely you don't need to ask that ! " 

" On the contrary, I do need to ask it. Mrs. Dysart 
is a lady. I know that. What else does Everybody 
say she is ? " 

" Good Lord ! " cried Pendlip, spilling the neglected 
cigar ash over his shirt front. " It's incredible. Do 
you tell me you've been making a friend of the woman 
all this time without knowing a word about her! 
Haven't you been horribly indiscreet? You know what 
sort of people come to Spathorpe in the season, and 
yet you go and pick a woman up without inquiry, and 
let her play ducks and drakes with your name ! " He 
saw the growing tension of the Poet's face, and broke 



off suddenly to beg: " Forgive me, boy. It's not anger, 
but zeal. Your good name is as much to me as my 
.own. Mrs. Dysart well, well. I say no more. You 
know what she is. She's a woman of easy morals." 

"Who told you this about her? Ronsome?" The 
Poet's voice betrayed a certain hardening due to con- 

" Ronsome told me. Yes." 
"Where did Ronsome get it from?" 
"Everybody. I fear the thing's only too true, 

" As true about her as the other story about me ? " 
"Yes. Yes. But the woman's known. Her char- 
acter's common property. Ronsome's spoken to half a 
dozen men about her. They all tell him the same. 
There's no denying it. Damme, Rupert, did you see 
nothing ? Do you mean you never even had a suspicion ? 
You've passed hours alone with her. If I believe your 
innocence, who else is there that will? Who's her 
husband? What is he, and where is he? Who are her 
people? Who are her friends? What's she doing at 
Spathorpe with nobody but her daughter? Why, surely, 
boy, the thing's as palpable as this cigar." 

Ay! It was palpable enough presented thus. All 
these questions were questions that had troubled spec- 
trally the Poet's mind, and been laid by the kind of 
faith whose sacrament is Beauty; or, if not laid, raised 
at least into pious mysteries, articles of faith to doubt 
or question which partook of heresy. A score of truths 
were lit up in the Poet's understanding like the gas- 
jets on the Parade, leaking invisibly through a thousand 
ready burners, that catch communicating light from a 
single flame and string a necklet of fire around the ter- 
race. Words, looks, gestures, blazed with a new signifi- 
cance, touched by Pendlip's smoking torch. And if the 

288 BELLA 

Poet still displayed his rapier, and contested truth with 
the point of it, he fought through loyalty and not con- 
viction of the Tightness of the cause, as men before 
have brandished arms for a worthless king. Pendlip's 
voice, heard and automatically answered, reached him 
through a whole cloud of his own reflections; the smoke 
from a mind in sudden conflagration. 

" The wife of an army man," he heard Pendlip tell 
him. " Heaven knows what's got him now. Ronsome 
has been told he's in the Argentine. Believes he wasn't 
the least factor in the woman's present life made use 
of her to propitiate his creditors, and engage the atten- 
tions of dishonorable friends who had it in their power 
to make his fortune, and squandered more money than 
ever he had, and hers too, upon the Stock Exchange. 
Ronsome knew something of Dysart's family at one 
time. Says they were all painted with the same brush. 
There was a divorce case too, about ten years ago. 
Ronsome remembers it. Dysart got a decree nisi, but 
it wasn't made absolute. There was collusion with his 
wife and the co-respondent, or something. The Proctor 
intervened. Oh! a clever, unprincipled woman. You've 
been thoroughly deceived, my lad. Well, well, I say 
no more. Thank God, it's no worse. Let this be a 
lesson to you." 


T> UT for the Poet wider issues were at stake than the 
AJ rectification of a slander, or the re-adjustment of a 
matter of morals, or the mere restoration of a torn 
character. There were things he could not explain to 
Pendlip; things he could not discuss. He needed re- 
spite now, and privacy where he could sort and re- 
arrange his thoughts, free of influence or interruption. 
Grateful though he felt toward the elder man for this 
timely action, he sought to escape his admonitory voice, 
as a sailor draws off from the dirge-like bell-buoy that 
has warned him. 

The Poet's perplexity drew no counsel from Pend- 
lip's crude materializing of the situation into one of 
mere fact and substance; seeing in this tangle of fine 
soul-threads no more than a cord-knot to be cut with a 
knife. " Of course, you won't stay any longer here. 
Now that the woman's unmasked you'll leave Spathorpe 
at once. The sooner the better. Come back to Dulwich 
with me. I want to catch the luncheon train to-morrow 
morning. We can travel together. Eh? What? You 

The Poet said : " I can't say. Very likely I will. I'll 
think it over." 

" Think it over ! " Pendlip exclaimed, with a glance 
of unmitigated misgiving. "Why, what is there to 
think over? You can't stay where you are, after this. 
The sooner you're out of Spathorpe the better for all 

parties. You don't mean ' 


290 BELLA 

"Just at the moment I mean nothing," the Poet 
made answer. " But this has been well, a little bit 
sudden for me. I want to get accustomed to it. That's 

" Accustomed to it ! " Pendlip repeated in visible 
consternation. " What ! Accustomed to a thing like 
this! Why, you ought to be indignant at it. I'd like 
to see you more indignant than you are. You're not 
going at once ! " Pendlip protested, for the boy had 
risen. " Come. Sit down again. There's plenty of 
time. It's not ten o'clock. Let's talk the business over." 

The Poet stood his ground. "If you don't mind, I 
think I'd rather go. I don't feel much like talking, 

to-night " Now that the inevitable bomb was burst, 

and the damage done, he had no stomach to conduct 
Pendlip over the ruins in order that curiosity might 
peer at Mrs. Dysart and her daughter through these 
wrecked and devastated walls. It wounded him to 
share with any other the sight of the altered circum- 
stances of his friends; to hear them spoken of in terms 
of slight or pity, that he could not resist, and yet which 
to countenance seemed like betrayal of them and 
treachery to his self-esteem. He held out his hand. 
Pendlip saw purpose not to be dissuaded, and gripped 
it warmly. 

" Well, well ! " he said, " If you won't really stay 
I hope I've only done my duty. Believe me that was 
the only thing that brought me here; the only thing I 
aim to do." 

The Poet answered : " I am very sure of that." 

" Why then, I say no more," Pendlip returned. 
" You know me. Richard Pendlip's no stranger to you ; 
you're no stranger to him. We've done our duty and 
said our say, and there's no bad blood betwixt us." 

At this moment of premature leave-taking, his mind 



cast hurriedly on all sides to collect and redeem the 
pledges given to his wife and Ronsome; anxious no un- 
dertaking or instruction should be found missing from 
the scroll of his achievement when the mental roll-call 

"I gave you Mrs. Pendlip's love, my boy? Yes, 
yes. And Daisy's? To be sure. I wasn't to forget 
Daisy's? Of course she knows nothing at all of this, 
Rupert. Not a word. It will never be alluded to. 
Make your mind easy on that score. You may trust 
us implicitly, my boy ! " 

He would have liked to interpolate one of his wife's 
suggestive phrases illustrating the degree of the girl's 
attachment : " She is devoted to you, Rupert. Wouldn't 
believe a single wrong word of you. Yours is the first 
letter she looks for in the morning. I mustn't tell you 
how many times it's read during the day." But his 
courage stuck at this; moreover, he had the sense to 
realize how far away this daughter was from the Poet's 
mind at the moment. In place of what he would have 
said, and did not, he wrung the Poet's hand, suggesting 
every species of friendship and sincerity, sympathy, 
commiseration, pride and hope; ringing interminable. 
" Well-well's " from his massive head, as if he were 
the noble draught-horse in a bell cart. 

" Mrs. Pendlip said I was to be sure and bring you 
back with me, my boy. We mustn't disappoint her. 
She's stuck up for you from the first. Said it was all 
a mistake, and she knew you better than James Ron- 
some, that never nursed a baby in his life, or washed 
anybody's face but his own. Well, well ! Thank good- 
ness she's right. Come back with me and tell her so 
yourself, Rupert. Grayhurst is always your home, boy. 
Grayhurst is always your home. That's Mrs. Pendlip's 
message one of 'em I was to be sure and give you 

292 BELLA 

that." He clung tenaciously to the Poet's hand, re- 
luctant to let go his tenure lest some point of policy 
might still be better urged, or some ampler compliance 
on the Poet's part persuaded. 

" Well, well. Till to-morrow. I'd like to catch the 
luncheon train. If you can't be ready, I'll wait. What 
time will you see me in the morning ? " 

He elicited no answer of the sort he wanted. The 
Poet only said : " I'll see. I'll let you know. Thank 
you for all your care and trouble. I think you'll know 
how grateful I am, even if' I don't show it very well. 
I'm sorry to have brought you over on a business like 

The hand, long held, had to be relinquished at last. 
Pendlip walked with him to the door, and returned 
with the gnawing consciousness of a task but incom- 
pletely done. Something in the Poet's demeanor dis- 
satisfied him; the more so as the more he thought upon 
it. Suspicions, for awhile torpid, became alive again ; a 
writhing scorpionic brood. He went back to his apart- 
ment and surveyed over dubious glasses these relics of 
a dismal feast, multiplying well-well's in his mind, and 
prolonging the interview with words infinitely more 
purposeful and more wise than any he could console 
himself with having uttered. Wisdom seemed alight in 
him. Now that the Poet was gone, his brain was irradi- 
ated with it. Confidence began to quaver. He suc- 
cumbed to self-reproach. 

" Why didn't I keep him longer ? ' No, no ! I in- 
sist, boy. Let's have this matter settled before you go. 
I have a right to ask it of you. You owe me some- 
thing. If this report's all wrong, prove it. Give me 
a token. Say you'll leave Spathorpe to-morrow. If 
you aren't willing to do that be damned to these 
protestations.' " 

BELLA 293 

He went to the window and peered out upon the 
glittering array of lights as if his desires sought to find 
the Poet in their flickering company, and trace his 

"Where's he going now? Why didn't I get his 
word he wouldn't see her. Not ten o'clock yet. What 
on earth does he mean to do with his time? He can't 
be going to bed. That's not Rupert's way! 

" What's the name of the house ? By Jove ! I've a 
good mind James Ronsome did it. It would serve 
the fellow right if he's been deceiving me. 

" All this time, and vows he never tumbled to it ! 
A woman who has only her beauty to live on! Am I 
to believe that? Would James Ronsome believe that? 
Would anybody believe that? He. swore he wasn't 
financing her. Ay! But how far has it gone in other 
directions? How far was it meant to go? Has she 
been playing the fine lady to him, and fooling the fellow 
with a whole pack of lies and false pretences? Surely 
he hasn't been taking her seriously! Damme, I should 
have asked him. ' Look here, my boy. On your word 
now. How far have you got with her? What's your 
footing ? ' 

" It can't be " the thought dismayed him" it can't 
be he didn't know until I told him that this woman's 
in the market, and now has half a mind to go and 
bid for her! 'Think it over!' Why! What else is 
there to think over? 'Think it over' when he knows 
what she is ! Why ! I believe he's capable of it, too. 
He's told me nothing. I know as little now as when I 


Thus, pacing his apartment from wall to wall 
ard Pendlip argued his way back to pessimism, smolder- 
ing and self-reproachful, and anticipating little from 

294 BELLA 

" A letter ! " he decided to himself. " Depend upon 
it. That's all I shall get for my pains. ' Sorry can't 
catch the 10 : 47. Coming later.' Oh, I know these fel- 
lows. There's no pulling 'em out of the arms of an 
unprincipled woman, once she's got hold of them. 

" Well, well ! I've done my best, however bad it is. 
Perhaps Ronsome couldn't have done any more. It's 
easy for him. All he has to do now is to go by contra, 
and tell me I shouldn't have done what I did, and why 
haven't I done what I didn't." 

If only his eye, probing every now and then the 
glittering spaciousness beyond the window, could have 
attached itself companion to the Poet, and gone with 
him which way he wended, Pendlip might have found 
still further cause for pessimism. 


"'pHINK it over?" cries Pendlip to himself out 
A of the grim certainty of his unbelief. " Why ! 
There's nothing for a right-minded fellow to think over. 
He might as well tell me he'll think over the Ten Com- 
mandments. I've let the truth into him. He knows his 
duty. What's there to think over now but whether he 
means to do it ? " 

And yet the Poet has very much to think over, for 
all that. 

In the first place, he has not been frank with Pend- 
lip, for morals have their significant fractions as well 
as figures, and Pendlip is of the astute order of man- 
hood that calls itself plain and blunt and commonsense, 
and sees and estimates all human conduct in correspond- 
ing plain large numerals, regarding every factor below 
whole numbers as inconsequent, albeit in his own do- 
main of business there is not the smallest decimal but 
has its force, and a sixteenth or a thirty-second in the 
vicissitudes of a share shows to his raking eye as 
prominent as the magnified shadows at sundown. He 
can no more appreciate the Poet's real self than he can 
appreciate his poetry, which many times he has been 
led to with the best of prides, esconced in his large 
leather reading-chair, saying, by way of preface, " Let's 
see what we can make of it this time!" and always 
with the same result. "Yes, yes. The fellow seems 
to have some beautiful language. It's a pity he can't 
express himself more plainly. I'm hanged if I know 
what half of it means." 


296 BELLA 

All those intermediate shades of feeling that scarcely 
have a language for their expression; those impalpable 
transitions of mood; those subtle enharmonic modula- 
tions between crude right and wrong that make the 
beauty and the spaciousness and the perplexity of a 
poet's soul, are non-existent for Pendlip. They are as 
impossible of reproduction in his direct nature as 
Chopin's nocturnes on a glockenspiel. In place of un- 
derstanding, Pendlip must rely on indulgence; which 
should be (though it rarely is) the safeguard of ig- 
norance, to be lenient toward those things it does not 
understand. In the matter of the Poet's verse, this 
lenience is duly displayed. Pendlip turns the pages with 
a puzzled but larely benevolent finger, saying : " Well, 
well. There must be something in it, I suppose. These 
critics ought to know what they're talking about. But 
poetry isn't for plain men like us, that have never been 
brought up to it. Let's look at the newspaper. I'm 
more used to that." His doubts are to himself alone; 
he would as soon think of depreciating the Poet's value 
as the chances of a company in whose fortunes he is 
concerned. But toward the Poet's conduct that is in- 
finitely more complex and more difficult to understand, 
since, unlike his verse, it has not been composed for 
the public intelligence he shows far less indulgence. 
Nor is the Poet ignorant of it. He has not filled the 
formal role of son to Pendlip in the past without 
learning the brick-wall boundaries of the big man's na- 
ture; boundaries that enclose conspicuous virtues, and 
shut others out. In the Poet's bosom, deep locked away 
from all external sight, double-barred behind the boy's 
deference and affection, he has the slight inevitable con- 
tempt of all impulsive, fluid, and impassioned youth for 
the rigidity of hide-bound age. Pendlip's knowledge 
of the ways of youth perished largely with his own ; like 

BELLA 297 

his knowledge ol the classics and ancient history. To 
seek enlightenment from him on the dark pages of 
youth's mind were as futile as to invoke his aid upon the 
text of Anacreon or Ovid. 

With James Ronsome the case was otherwise. He 
had grown old in wisdom, not in heart. Experience 
of life had annotated, not destroyed, the page of youth; 
of whose impulse and meaning he knew far more than- 
wayward youth itself. Had he stood for Pendlip at 
this juncture, with all the justificatory right and title 
that Pendlip held, there would have been opening of 
confidences, withdrawal of bolts, a disclosure of the 
Poet's bosom. Ronsome's broad toleration was to 
Pendlip's propriety what a free and open park is to 
enclosed grounds. With Ronsome there were no con- 
versational trespass-boards, or moral man-traps or 
startling spring-guns to apprehend; no booming inter- 
jections, no disconcerting looks of incredulity and 
horror. Ronsome's epithets and Pendlip's epithets, 
though they might be identical, differed as widely in 
the respective utterances as meats in the cooking. Pend- 
lip's " Damme " crackled spontaneously like a dry log 
in a hot fire; Ronsome's, more deliberate, would have 
possessed the quality of an amused smile. Pendlip's 
" fool," however leniently uttered, would have revealed 
something of the heat of censure by which it had been 
minted. Ronsome's would have lain like a hand on 
the shoulders; companionship much more than reproof; 
comforting to sustain and comfortable to acknowledge. 
" Oh, of course, I've been a fool. But then 

Before such a one as Ronsome, the Poet might hav 
exposed his thoughts without reservation or fear 
if the wearer of the distinguished gray felt hat 
been reluctant with his counsel-though, in this pre: 
phase of the case it is unlikely-at least he would have 


298 BELLA 

lent encouragement to words, and made confidences wel- 
come and at home, like the friendly watcher of a task, 
whose presence renders passive help, though wisdom be 
too wise to interfere. To open the mind before Pendlip 
was as if to submit some manuscript effusion to a writ- 
ing master; blind to all but the scrupulous formation of 
letters, and the strict observance of the established laws 
of penmanship. Of those delicate yet tenacious moral 
obligations, those nerves and veins and sinews that 
thread the tissue of all but the corruptest conduct and 
are not wholly absent there Pendlip would have had 
no knowledge. Healthy tissue must be cut away re- 
morselessly with diseased; the whole visible ill must be 
removed as though good and bad were separable qual- 
ities, distinct as the words themselves, of which no part 
of one could pass into the substance of the other. 

So, filled with thoughts he might not utter, the Poet 
sought to be alone with them. He knew, not less than 
Pendlip, how much remained unsaid; how much to 
touch on; and feared the heavy conversational tread, so 
fraught with danger to fine feelings; the forced con- 
fidence only alternative to the flat lie; the necessity to 
declare all that moral contraband his mind carried. As 
he passed beyond Pendlip's door along the carpeted cor- 
ridor, he was sensible of a curious change in the com- 
position of external life, that marked his altered relation 
to it. He had come this evening, despite a certain sub- 
anxious curiosity, in an ebullient mood ; elate and vital ; 
sparkling with the vintage of his own youth ; aflush with 
a sort of conquest; breast to breast with the world, as 
though he and the world were of one mold and stature, 
companions and co-equals that shared each other's joys. 
He passed from Pendlip's presence sustaining the bur- 
den of a mind, in place of what the punished Titan 
bore. The world and he were almost strangers; no 

BELLA 299 

common bond of happiness united them now; each pur- 
sued his separate way, regardless of the other yet not 
regardless. Conscious, rather, with the half-defiant con- 
sciousness of one-time friendship at feud. The voice of 
the world appeared to the Poet pitched affrontively high, 
as if to reach and wound him ; its ostentatious pleasures 
seemed to enforce themselves maliciously upon his no- 
tice. The report of a champagne cork, amid the burst 
of convivial laughter, caused his soul to wince as if a 
gibe had been aimed at it. He carried himself con- 
sciously higher, animated by a certain proud rebellion 
toward this disloyal world ; this false friend that showed 
so fair a face and slandered him. There was a babel 
of voices in the vestibule; a subdued storm of conver- 
sation, rent with the quick lightning of treble laughter 
and rolling bass thunder, that drowned the plashy music 
of the mimic waterfall, tumbling from ledge to ledge 
among the green ferns of the central rockery. He 
sensed the power of all this conversation as hostile and 
destructive ; merciless machinery for the manufacture of 
malice and uncharitableness, tearing up the rags of truth 
to make fustian. Through processes like this his own 
reputation had passed, was passing now, perhaps; would 
pass again for verily man does not live by bread alone. 
He stalks through the rhythmic flutter of fans, rest- 
less as birds in an aviary; the bare white throats held 
up here and there to stooping masculine eyes; the slen- 
der columns of neck, put forth as the Poet came in 
sight, with the gentle insistence of swans, waiting i 
crumbs on the lake in the dell. If, in the past h 
been blind to all the evidences spread around 
makes up for the lack this night, when not a glance, di- 
rected from whatsoever corner but finds its n 
strikes him like an arrow, surely aimed. But the per 
verse and outrageous pride that sustains all evildoers, 

300 BELLA 

comes to his rescue and lends him a demeanor that 
looks like scorn. These curious glances do not touch 
confusion in him, but ignite defiance. He rejects them 
with a sense of lofty scorn for narrow righteousness; 
wishes the thing they think of him more palpable in his 
brow and person; throws up his chin; walks through 
them with high disregard like a young demi-god that 
scorns to tread convention's beaten road, but is a prince 
of the trackless hills and dizzy pinnacles and mountain- 
peaks, unsubject to the narrow laws of men. The mood 
lasts until the agile page boys fling open wide the doors 
that impatient consequence may have room to pass. But 
once beyond, and underneath the open sky, this spurious 
transitory pride lies down within him. He becomes but 
a mortal, much engrossed with his own mind, wrapped 
in the dark folds of it; walking muffled to the brow. 


TTE is not shocked; he is not wrathful; he is not 

- -1 penitent; bears no animosity; nurtures no indig- 
nation; has neither reproaches for himself nor for that 
other. The injury to reputation hurts him least. In 
the suddenness of catastrophe he scarcely even notes this 
scratch to character, and then only with the contemptu- 
ous regard that will not admit pain from such a paltry 
wound. He is more amazed with his own blindness than 
stunned with the truth so palpable he has not seen. 
Like a player in the old hoodman game, set to an ob- 
ject blindfold, and three times twisted before release, he 
cannot credit with the wrapping off how far his instinct 
of direction has misguided him. Of defence he can at- 
tempt none, either of himself or her. Unbandaged he 
sees wonderingly, but full well, the truth, and the ex- 
tent of his own divagation from it. Not for nothing 
these palpitations in her presence; these hot tempta- 
tions, cunningly fed with smiles and soft scents and 
negligent unconscious touches; these careless sighs, 
breathed in front of him, that caused a space between 
the subsiding bosom and the corsage, sucking down his 
eyes as the ebbing tide takes seawrack until the white 
flesh returns again and brimmed up to fill its confines, 
and the cup of a Poet's temptation; the laughter, low, 
insidious, as though it accused his desires and chal- 
lenged his cowardice; when a whole woman's empire 
trembled perilously before him as if it were but a single 


302 BELLA 

raindrop suspended from a swaying branch, and cry- 
ing : " Shake me. Shake me. You dare not." 

For no. He had not dared. That secret something, 
infinitely feebler, infinitely stronger than desire, had 
saved him, defrauded her; even when, casting aside 
the silent armory of the senses, she had brought her 
warfare to the frontier of speech, and let fall sayings 
that hinted at a void between them ; a breach in the com- 
pleteness of his content that she knew not how to fill. 
" I have played to you ; I have sung to you ; I have 
talked to you. Yet I know if I turn my shoulders for 
half a moment you will take the opportunity to yawn. 
How difficult you boys are to entertain ! Tell me what 
more I can do to please you." Even when she said this, 
lifting her face up to his from the piano, so that she 
needed only to rise, or he to stoop, to bring their lips to- 
gether, he avoided encounter with her words, retreat- 
ing laughingly before the sense of them. 

" Nothing more. Less, indeed, if you would not al- 
together overwhelm me. My gratitude must surely be 
sincere, since it expresses itself so badly." 

Now he knows for what they were, these sighs and 
words and tokens ; then but suspected, and even his own 
suspicions of them suspected in turn, rather than that 
she should be misjudged upon the false testimony of his 
troubled senses. What Pendlip tells him makes these 
dark uncertainties all plain, but the truth, that Pendlip 
deems a solvent for every difficulty, serves but as the 
starting-ground for problems, not the settlement of 
them. What has been, is nothing; what is to be, every- 
thing. Over the irrevocable why spill tears! This 
beautiful woman is what she is ; the past cannot alter ; 
like her beauty, it can only fade. All this history of 
their Spathorpe days is chronicled in life's blood, that 
may lose color through the agency of time, but little 


else ; can only perish utterly with the mortal vellum on 
which its records are inscribed. 

If the drama comprised no characters beyond these 
two ; if the Poet's obligations began and ended with the 
second of them; if the motive were no more than the 
strife between desire and duty: the body and the soul, 
then it were susceptible of a quick ending, whether for 
weal or woe. But more than the fortunes of these par- 
ticipants is pledged in it. Another destiny hangs trem- 
bling on the issue ; other happinesses, far-reaching, more 
remote, depend on what shall follow. This hard truth 
has shown the Poet a second, and a softer. It brings 
Bella to his mind, tenderly and sorrowfully, with an 
elegiac beauty that moves this Poet's breast to strange 
emotion. What, hereafter, is her life to be? What, de- 
serted now, may prove to be her fate? so perilously 
beautiful ; sa deadly placed. She is but a child in years; 
in spirit less than in those; who worships him with a 
child's affection, and is beloved by him with a quality 
save for the worldly wisdom that clouds it not less 
clarid than her own. The very freedom of their de- 
lightful friendship horrifies him as a portent for the 
future. He is Pharisee enough to think himself in some- 
wise better than the rest of men. Translate but this in- 
timacy into terms of general mankind, and see with what 
perils it is fraught. The girl stands on the threshold of 
life; Nature, alone, must shortly whisper in her ear a 
waken knowledge of suspected wisdom; ripen her wit! 
dangerous impulses, as well as blood. Innocence is b 
a figment; growth both spiritual and corporal mvolves 
much breaking down of cells. Purity, at best is but 
name for impurity rightly understood Bella mus 
grow; Bella must burst this envelope of innocence th 
dads her now; part with old purity for new ^sdorn 
confront a world likely to show her all the less mercy 

304 BELLA 

by reason of her greater need of it, and exact toll of 
her for her mother's transgressions. What will hap- 
pen then to this lonely flower of neglect, growing all 
unnoticed now like the modest violet? Will not her 
fragrance betray her? Can such a fair and unprotected 
flower bloom without peril, in a spot exposed to the 
bleakest winds of calumny and worse than calumny 
cold, bitter truth? 

Alas! The Poet thinks not, and the greater part of 
his thinking is for her. Her image seems so close to 
him that, at a wish, he could believe her hand in his, her 
footsteps fitting proudly to his own, yet falling behind 
by the shortage of an inch or two at each stride taken, 
and seeking compensation in a skip. He hears her voice 
under his ear; senses the companionship of her, as dear 
and welcome as the bud-warmed breeze in May. All his 
allegiance, all his protection, rise at the thought. She 
is too dear for sacrifice. Whatever else, out of this 
shipwreck of emotions, Bella shall survive. If, and so 
far as, mortal may devise it, her life and happiness shall 
be secured. He will not desert her. Friends they have 
been; friends they shall be. And if this little playmate 
of his heart, this sister-by-deed, ever come to think 
gratefully of her knight errant but that is all in the 
bosom of the future, as dim as old lace or ghostly tap- 
estry. For the present, all that stirs in him is a noble 
chivalry; a virtue transcending itself, that rides the gal- 
lant steed of resolution over these ruins like some reck- 
less courier across a battlefield. So swift does his 
charger bear him that he finds himself in front of the 
Sceptre before he deemed the journey more than well 
begun, and has to pause in a difficult exercise of memory 
to decide by what way he has reached this elevation 
whether across the viaduct or the Parade bridge, or 
down and up again through the hollow of the dell ? He 



thinks it was the latter, and a few steps further is as- 
sured of it, for did he not avoid the bridge lest he might 
have to stem the pouring current from the Parade? But 
the Parade is still animate; its mass still instinct with 
corporate vitality. 

He hears the band below, and the murmur of the 
sea, and looks down upon the myriads of twinkling 
lights like the reflection of another firmament. Upon 
the forms that space out the asphalt pathway above the 
Parade gardens figures are seated under the starlight; 
couples, chiefly, compressed almost into the semblance 
of units, and distinguishable only by the duplex head. 
They occupy the extremities of the benches, with a prodi- 
gal waste of space between; wrapped, each, in a com- 
fortable murmurous sound, or in a silence even deeper; 
and the Poet in the brief respite between one abstrac- 
tion and the next wonders what awakenings the world 
reserves for these. He walks in the roadway, between 
the seated figures and the row of high houses, lit up in 
almost every window from basement to garret, and ex- 
hibiting a signal emptiness as if they formed the pros- 
cenium of a panorama, and one stream of naked light 
illuminated all. Each room constitutes a world; each 
world, despite an outward similarity, differs from its 
neighbors; here are diners or supper-takers, agitating 
their busy heads around a crowded table ; there, are soli- 
tary readers who pore under a lamp; elsewhere are 
some that sit by the open window and intercept the flood 
of light, or, wrapped in rugs, drink of the freshness of 
the starlight from the balcony. Of all these, in their re- 
semblance and diversity, the Poet makes one picture 
with a single glance, and returns to his brooding 

The latch is down at Mrs. Herring's; thin laths 
light through the oblique Venetian blinds in Sir Henry 
Phillimore's room show the aged knight returned. 

306 BELLA 

Daisy Pendlip's letter, that has missed the northern post 
of overnight, awaits the Poet on the hall-stand. He 
walks up the stairs with it, tearing it open automatically 
as he goes, and reads it beneath the chandelier in his 
room, going through all the elaborate process of perusal, 
and scarcely notes or comprehends a word. With much 
more speculation does he con the dial of his watch, 
weighing this in an undecided hand as if it were a 
purpose balanced on the scale. Indecision, too, is 
shown in the Poet's attitude. He has not removed 
his overcoat, nor yet his hat, but sits on the table- 
edge, swinging a leg, the picture of moody youth- 
ful dissipation, were this a billiard table and the 
hour less infantile. And first he says he cannot go to- 
night ; and then he says it was a promise ; and his hands 
and head turn very hot of a sudden, and he pushes back 
his hat and blows through his lips as if to cool himself. 
And after that he rises restlessly and paces up and down 
his room just as Pendlip is doing at the other end of 
the bay with his coat flung open and his hands plunged 
in his trousers' pockets, communing fervidly with him- 

After what Pendlip has told him? In face of what 
he knows? Confess the truth? Impossible. 

Go and tell her some trumped-up story? Frightfully 
sorry. Sickness of a friend. Must leave Spathorpe 
without delay. No, no. As little possible as the other. 
Their instincts are too well acquainted for such trans- 
parent falsehoods. She would read and scorn the lie 
in him at once. 

Break this appointment? Act the cad? Write her 
a fugitive note? Let her curl her lip over his cow- 
ardice ? 

What then? 

What then? Then the boy's blood lays sudden siege 

BELLA 307 

to him, and all his pulses tingle, and all the passions and 
desires that have their secret habitation in the fleshwork 
of youth youth's glory and despair break loose in him 
and course from cell to cell, brandishing fire-brands and 
torches, and bearing down those few poor anchorite 
thoughts, slaves of prayer, that with pale lips and sup- 
plicating hands plead mortification and duty. Con- 
science staggers before the onrush, and falls. She is 
there, this wonderful piece of womanhood, within a 
stone's throw; nearer than that; within the closest cir- 
cle of his desires; awaiting him; watching the hands of 
the timepiece, ceasing her music now and again, if she 
be at play, to listen for the first intimation of his step. 
Bliss, delectable enough to fill the very measure of the 
firmament, trembles on a boy's mere self-denial ; on his 
blanched and rigid "No." He swims with the desire to 
meet temptation once again; with the impulse to suc- 
cumb to it; to fasten his thirsty lips to this chalice of 
sweet red sinfulness and drain the cup to the last dregs 
of remorse. 

Oh, Richard Pendlip, perambulating your indignation 
from wall to wall of your apartment, as this boy does 
his passion; Richard Pendlip, that will later roll your 
elderly and comfortable person into the creaking hos- 
pitality of an unfamiliar bed, and pitch and toss be- 
tween the blankets for your final ease of posture like a 
porpoise that rolls up coast in a dirty sea; Richard 
Pendlip, whose veins are heated as by your gray hairs, 
propriety shall hope by no passion hotter or more de- 
batable than wrath; be lenient toward this boy, for if 
you could taste one tittle of the insurrection in your 
flesh that rends his kingdom, be sure you would not lack 
for mercy. 

Twice the boy throws down his hat, as if his courage 
his conscience abdicated, saying : " I can't go. 

308 BELLA 

It's giving her the game." And then he summons 
thoughts of Bella to help him quell the tumult; reciting 
the girl's virtues like an Ave Mary; holding the image 
of her before his eyes. Passion and conscience parley; 
strike a truce and blend. The late contestants are dan- 
gerously indistinguishable. This visit, urged at first by 
undissimulated passion, takes on the character of a cru- 
sade. Conscience, employing passion's mercenaries, pro- 
claims a holy war. Bella is to be the motive of it. 
Bella's emblem decorates his standard. And the Poet 
reclaims his hat. 

Does he practice self-deception, this boy? Is he, 
after all, in the seclusion of his own heart, a hypocrite 
self-confessed, if not proclaimed? 

That no man, not even the historian, is able truly to 
decide. When piety and the passions mingle forces, it 
is like the union of two springs that mix their waters 
underground. Nor can himself, in whose bosom they 
meet and flow, trace back each separate current to its 
source. He feels to glow with righteousness, even 
though that righteousness draw its warmth from con- 
tact with temptation. He goes determined to prevail, 
yet thrilled with subtle knowledge of the sweetness to 
succumb. The saint consumes to touch the sinner's cup 
and sense the thrill of glorious temptation, albeit 
strengthened with more glorious purpose to renounce it. 
So, with a sinner's recklessness and a saint's fervor, the 
Poet goes to keep appointment with the Flesh. 


IT was half past ten when the Poet led his reconciled 
factions down the stairs. He met Sir Henry, too far 
ascended for retirement, on his way to bed, with the 
fringed plaid shawl over his shoulders and a pair of 
bedroom slippers in his hand. The aged knight came 
to a standstill, deriving support from the handrail, till 
the Poet passed him; moved to coughing by the effort 
of speech, so that the gripped banister creaked in sym- 
pathy with his laboring body. At the landing he turned 
again and looked long and steadfastly at the door 
through which the Poet's figure had disappeared. He 
did not clasp his snowy beard, nor shake his head, but 
the mere address of his person to the next stair seemed 
eloquent of a despair of youth. Beginning the night 
when reputable age was on its way to bed ! These boys 
ruled the world; consumed their candles like fire-eaters. 
What were we coming to? 

If the aged moralist had but accompanied the insti- 
gator of these reflections, he might have found still 
further confirmation of his thought, and beheld the Poet 
moralist in turn. For the side-door in the garden wall 
of Cromwell Lodge stood ajar, sheltering two figures as 
the Poet passed abreast of it. One, letting issue a 
startled " It's him," melted into the garden beyond, with 
a faint likeness to Mrs. Dysart's waiting-maid, whose 
eyes studied the Poet so diligently in the glass; the 
other, of more masculine proportions, started from the 
doorway as if suddenly expulsed by hand, and de- 


310 BELLA 

parted in the shadow of the wall though with steps of 
no conclusiveness, that would come to a stop (the Poet 
knew full well) the moment his own were sufficiently 
removed, and return to the farewell interrupted. So 
the side-door not less than the front has its secrets ! A 
smile, too fleeting for the lips to seize, passes across the 
Poet's mind. No human action but transcends the 
agent, and has an influence elsewhere, on some other. 
By these two figures mumbling in the shelter of the 
door he is conceived, in all belief, a pattern and a fel- 
low; his conduct doubtless lends a comfortable assur- 
ance to their own, since it fortifies the weak to err in 
company with the strong. The disturbed courtier, mak- 
ing pretence to whistle and rubbing the wall with his 
elbow as he feigned to go, has a good precedent for 
dalliance. Through this gaping door much knowledge 
of the life beyond has leaked, and he knows, be sure, 
more of the passing Poet than the Poet knows or seeks 
to know of him. 

From the far side of the high familiar wall, above 
whose coping an aura of diffused light reveals the glow 
of the garden window, comes the sound of intermittent 
music, but no voice; passages played with a loitering 
finger that seems to toy with time. The sound goes to 
the Poet's bosom, dislodging the coward in him, as if 
this tinkle had been the drums of war. With all his 
combined forces he shirks engagement with this single 
enemy. Well, fear is a true sign of conscience after 
all. It takes him by the studded door without so much 
as a glance at what he passes, as if it were some plague- 
house portal, and into the silent square where curious 
watchers and it is a lone square in Spathorpe that has 
none may see him push back his hat to feel the cool- 
ness of the stars upon his forehead and publish his white 
front a dozen times beneath the flicker of the single 

BELLA 311 

gas-lamp. But he is gone at last, when interest looks 
for him again, with a girl's name written on his resolu- 
tion, and mounts the steps of Cromwell Lodge to press 
the white button of the electric bell. Its thrill, that dis- 
tantly succeeds, stirs him like a tremor of his own flesh. 
" Jacta est alea ! " he says at the sound of it, and has 
little time for more before the door opens. 

It opens seductively, discreetly, with the soft promp- 
titude that spells welcome better than words. One 
might know that a woman stood behind it, even if the 
perfume of her did not mingle with the eddies stirred 
by the door's withdrawal and his own entrance. And 
curiously enough a phenomenon noted by the Poet's 
self her presence in a moment calms him; restores him 
all his threatened composure. Imagination has passed 
him through such a crucible, it seems that, by contrast 
with the cool reality of her, passion is chilled to the 
temperature of reason. The smile on his face betrays 
no hint of vicissitude, no look of change, as it responds 
to Mrs. Dysart's greeting. 

" Ah ! " she cries, casting pearly reproach on him as 
he goes by. " C'est 1'enf ant prodigue de retour ! Viens, 
mon cher enfant, et dis moi ce qu'il faut pour que je 
te pardonne ton absence. Quand on dine on oublie, 
n'est-ce-pas, mon ami? Et la pauvre femme s'ennuie. 
Les choses de 1'estomac s'esquivent des choses du 
coeur! " She ran lightly across vocal stepping- 
stones to English. " Come ! " and led the way with 
laughter. " It would seem then that Poets are not all 
soul and song and upper-story. There's a little of the 
basement about them, too. Oh, you men ! All your busi- 
ness ends in dinner, like cigarettes in smoke. You don't 
know how frightfully lonely I have been without you. 
I was almost beginning to believe in ghosts. Another 
moment and I should have repented all my sins. Bad 

312 BELLA 

boy that you are, to dine so late." They were in the 
drawing-room. " Well ? What have you to say for 
yourself ? " 

" Truly rural ! " he replied, with a short laugh. 
" That's an awful lot to say after dinner." 

"You passed an enjoyable time with your friend?" 

"Thank you." 

" Bella was full of him. She says she simply loves 
him. He is a darling, with the most beautiful whiskers. 
. . . Good gracious ! " Mrs. Dysart broke off to inti- 
mate displeasure at the Poet's hat and coat. " Why have 
you brought those dreadful things in here? You stand 
like a memento mori. I feel my age at the sight of you. 
Time flies fast enough without being prompted. Take 
them off." 

He objected. " Really it is too late. I only just 

came I was afraid you might be sitting up for 


" So I am." 

" I did not come to stay " 

" You came to keep me company, and make up for 
all I have missed of you to-night. Take them off. Be 

He felt the subtle toils of her tones and laughter, 
and tried to resist the web of bondage spun about him. 

" Please 1 really ought not to keep you up. I am 

not thinking about myself." 

" I don't want you to. You have had all the night 
to do that. I want you to think about me . . . You wilful 
boy ! " She came swiftly to him with an imperious 
smile that brooked no denial. " I must compel you, 
then. You spare my modesty nothing. Can't you pro- 
fess friendship, even if you feel none? Dissimulation 
is the first letter of the alphabet of politeness. So, and 
so " With her quick, supple fingers she undid the 

BELLA 313 

buttons of his coat. "Now!" and pulled laughingly 
upon the sleeve. He suffered himself to be divested, 
surrendered his hat. Had they been sword and buckler 
he could not have felt more conscious of disarmament. 
Now he was at her mercy in respect to time. Cut off 
from hat and coat his line of retirement lay broken; 
with no reckonable aid from the ready moments, retreat 
(if it come to that) must be a rout. And this begin- 
ning was unpropitious not only in the sacrifice of his 
defences, but the enemy's reconnaissance in force dis- 
mayed him. He had seen the look of resolute conquest 
in those violet-gray eyes; the touch of this white hand 
had been triumphant; from the warmth and fragrance 
of that defiant body brought so close to him, his sentry 
senses told him that this night the warfare of the flesh 
would be declared; the battle fought, and lost or won. 

Strange it is how knowledge weakens when rather 
it should strengthen. Had he known nothing of this 
woman he could have fought her easier than now. Her 
weakness only taints his courage. He feels what Pendlip 
felt, the undermining shame that shames to shame her; 
by what he knows, the more he shirks. He dreads lest 
she shall pluck the secret from his eyes, and read what 
he withholds from her, in characters of cowardice. 
Pendlip's task is now become the Poet's task, intensified 
by reason of the finer tissues to be wounded. Pendlip's 
emotions are the Poet's emotions magnified; Pendlip's 
misgivings, his. Now he realizes what prudence might 
have known before: the fearful inequality of a contest 
where the one dreads above all to wound, and yet must 
wound to conquer ; and the other by being conquered and 
being wounded, so much the nearer wins ; snatching vic- 
tory out of very defeat. 

" I was a fool to come," the accusation flashed 
through him. " To-morrow by daylight I might have 

314 BELLA 

faced her. But to-night. Why didn't I take the proper 
coward's course, as Pendlip wished me, and send her a 
letter after I was gone ! " And when he looked upon 
her now, in this soft-lit room, the knowledge of his 
weakness grew. The light, behind these silken shades, 
hid itself discreetly like a face behind a fan. Illumina- 
tion was no higher than a whisper between confidants, 
and possessed of the same mysterious power to mag- 
nify the subject touched on, and endow it with mys- 
terious wonder. The lamps spread soft spheres of 
radiance, sunlit islands in a twilight sea, that widened 
their shores to welcome the woman when she neared 
them, seeming to wrap their radiance about her gleam- 
ing shoulders, and lend all their glow to her beauty. 
Her very toilet, now he was confronted with it, made 
the Poet's courage falter. It was as if the flesh, tired 
of being so long and wilfully ignored, had said : " This 
night you shall not overlook me. See. I declare my- 
self." Only a single necklet of seed pearls interposed 
between the whiteness of her throat and bosom; the 
corsage, daringly reduced, professed the least depend- 
ence on her shoulders; her milk-white bust swelled out 
of it undecked or unadorned like that first Venus issuing 
of sea-foam. 

"There!" She laid the Poet's offending hat and 
coat on a chair in the far corner of the window, and 
swam back to him as if floated by her own laughter. 
" Now we can talk better. Stop. I have disarranged 
your tie in taking off your coat. You look as if you 
had been to the club. No, no. You shall stand still. 
You have been drinking Benedictine. And you smell 
of cigar." Her fingers adjusted the tie for him. Their 
profiles almost touched; her violet-gray eyes provoked 
him at such close quarters that their two visions blurred 
into one, like waterdrops that blend. But the audacity 

BELLA 315 

she would have roused in him failed her. His faee in 
the ordeal hardened, and there was little smile left on 
it when she let him go. " TRere. I spoil you. I sup- 
pose all the women spoil you. You may thank me if 
you like." She subsided into the cushions of the low 
chair in which he had first seen her, and laughingly 
toyed with her rings. 

He said : " Thank you," but his lips were dry. Im- 
pulse, in the brief assault, had been restrained as hardly 
as a recruit smarting under temptation to answer fire. 
Pride as much as passion moved him. He burned to 
display his courage before this audacious foe, and prove 
himself the man she challenged, and no mere boy, blind 
to her temptations or fearful of his own. 

" Do we need any longer to be invited to the chairs ? " 

" I think not." 

" Sit down, then, and don't look at me as if I were 
a schoolmarm. You embarrass me, standing up there 
like the kept-in scholar, that doesn't know his multipli- 
cation table and counts my freckles out of spite." 

He chose the settee, as farthest from her. She saw 
the ruse and laughed exposure of it. 

" And I did not send you into the corner. Why are 
you frightened of me ? Are you a bad boy ? " 

" I am a very good boy." 

"After all, I don't know whether I like good boys 
any better than bad ones. But why have you such a 
long face ? " 

" I did not know I had a long face." 

"To be sure you have. A fiddler could play the 
most dreadful tunes on it. What has your friend been 
saying to you ? " 

He stammered : " My friend ? " 

"You said he was your friend. Perhaps he isn't 
your friend any longer. Have you quarreled?" 

316 BELLA 

" Not at all " He drew his breath. 

" But what?" 

" But nothing." 

" Oh, yes. But something. I am sure of it. You 
had ' but something/ on the tip of your tongue." 

The Poet made no answer. His heart, responding 
to this declaration of war, drummed behind his white 
front. The battle was begun. 


" Well." 

" So I am right. Of course, you need not tell me 
the truth, you foolish boy! I don't expect it; there's 
no need to look so scared. I'm only a woman, and a 
woman never learns the truth except from her looking- 
glass or when truth's very dreadful." 

" Truth is not so dreadful as that. At least, for 
you. It is a question of business," he blurted out. 
" I shall have to leave Spathorpe." And tried to ex- 
press carelessness through a use of slang. " It's fright- 
fully rotten, but I can't help myself." He dropped his 
eyes from the woman as he said it, but felt the mo- 
mentary breach in the current of her smile, for all 
she did not cease to twist her rings. 

" So that is what has spoiled your dinner ? " 

She was speaking through her veil of quiet laughter 
again. He knew it by the sound of her voice, and the 
fact lent him courage to face her. 

"We did not discuss it until the end." 

" And that is what brought your friend to see you ? " 


" All the way from town ? " 

"I suppose so." 

" And must you really go ? " 

"Really and truly." 


BELLA 317 

" To-morrow." 

"So soon?" 

"I can't get out of it." 

He began to breathe again. The crisis, so dreaded 
all this while, seemed to dissolve in the surmounting 
like a hill under the pedestrian's foot, that showed per- 
pendicular when first he faced it. He drew assurance 
from the sense of liberty at hand. 

"It's a frightful nuisance. All my packing. Just 
when I was so comfortable and happy." 

" You poor boy ! And how long will this dreadful 
business take you ? " 

"How long?" He had thought the hill sur- 
mounted ! His breathing thickened again. 

" Yes. How long shall you be away ? When do 
you return?" 

" I don't know." His words were hurried. " That 
wasn't discussed. Pendlip didn't say." He temporized 
like any scullion with a fault to hide. She looked at 
him for a moment enigmatically, and then at her rings, 
and then out again to him as though he puzzled her. 
Then she laughed endearingly into his troubled face 
and drew his eyes into her own through their inviting 
veil of thick lashes, kissing them with all but lips in 
the violet-gray depths beyond before she gave them 
sudden open-eyed release. 

" But you are going to say ! " she told him gaily. 
" You are going to promise me a day of return. Of 
course you are. You owe it to me. I have taken all 
your business for gospel and haven't laughed once 
though business is the last word a woman should ever 
believe. And now you are going to reward my con- 
fidence. Come! I haven't asked you what your busi- 
ness is. We'll pretend it's terribl} important. How 
many days do you want for itr Tell me, so that I 

318 BELLA 

may know when to expect you, and may tick the days 
off with my finger. Two? Three? Don't ask me to 
say more than that." 

He shook his head with a dry-lipped smile. His 
heart pumped the blood to his brain with labored 
throbs, like the engines of a crazy coal-tug thrusting 
her against the tide. How easily he might have lied 
for release; purchased liberty with cheap falsehood! 
But his trouble was above guile. Deception at this crisis 
never even occurred to him. 

" I can't promise. I don't know when I can't be 
certain of anything at present." 

The woman let fall her fingers, and the smile 
dropped off her lips suddenly like a bird from the 
bough. Nothing but sober inquiry gazed at him now 
from her fixed deep eyes. 

" You mean that you are not coming back at all." 

They were at the truth of it at last. 

" I'm afraid I do mean that." 

There was a pause. Then the woman blazed out 
with a luminous and lovely smile, laying her hand upon 
the cushion of a chair close by. " Come here, you 
curious boy, and sit by me where I can see your face. 
You are all in the shadow over there and I can't make 
you out a bit. I want to talk to you." 

He did not move. 

" Come ! " she called to him again, tapping the chair 
persuasively with her hand. " Surely I am not grown 
so very terrible that you need to be asked twice." 

" It would be easier if you were." 

" That is the first nice thing you have said to me 
since you came. I want you to say ever so many more 
nice things like that ! " She still indicated the chair 
with a soft hand laid upon its cushion, proffering the 
invitation in her smile; and still, with a strained smile 

BELLA 319 

in return, he tried lightly to decline it, as though her 
request and his refusal were playful insincerities; a 
laughing fence between them, and not a grim passage 
of arms flashing in the sunlight. "Fie! you naughty 
boy ! Where are your manners to keep a lady waiting 
for you ! " 

He begged : " No, no ! Don't ask me, please. It 
only makes things harder for me." 

" For you ! Oh, the selfishness of man. There are 
no hardships for woman, then. The only sufferings in 
the world are those you feel; you cannot divine any. 
Well? You won't come to me? Then I must come 
to you, I suppose." She withdrew her hand from the 
chair and rose in all her supple length of womanhood, 
sweeping, with the confidence of beautiful laughter, to 
the settee. 

He saw her coming like a wave, superb in its crested 
beauty, admired even through the impotence that knows 
it must engulf him. 


<< >TpHERE!" She said, seating herself by his side. 
* " Now we can tell our troubles away from the 
lamplight. What is this dreadful bone you are growling 
over in your corner? Come! You must be a good 
obedient doggie. I'm not going to take it away from 
you. I only want to see what it is you're keeping so 
terribly to yourself. Let me stroke you." She put out 
an arm and drew one of his hands into hers, with a 
coaxing silken caress. " Why ! You are quite cold." 
She tightened her clasp upon the chill fingers, and then 
sandwiched them commiseratively between her soft 
warm palms, gazing inquiry and compassion into his 
eyes. " Your hand is quite cold ! What sort of busi- 
ness is it that makes one's hand so cold as this ? " 

He thought dimly of Pendlip's retort to his own 
question, asked and answered a whole century ago: 
" Everybody's business," but, though the kindling 
warmth of the woman's clasp set his pulses in commo- 
tion and suffocated conscience, he made no effort to 
release himself, lest retreat might draw a hotter pur- 
suit upon the remnants of his forces. 

" What sort of business is it, then ? " Mrs. Dysart 
repeated, squeezing his hand persuasively, as if the 
answer lay in his imprisoned fingers. " If I have given 
myself the right to call you by your Christian name, 
and sometimes do so, and have given you the right to 
call me by mine though you don't ever surely I may 
add the privilege of questioning you a little in regard 


BELLA 321 

to business that hurts us both ! Mayn't I, now? Mayn't 
I ? " She raised his hand within her own two, holding 
it suspended beneath the breathing round fullness of 
her bosom, and the persuasive smooth throat thrown 
out to him under most appealing lips, ripe for kisses 
and confession. Even as the Poet looked at her he felt 
the surging desire to have done with all this stemming 
of his own blood; to sacrifice all his purpose upon the 
altar of her lips. 

" If we knew each other better " the velvet lashes 
emphasized her meaning by adroitly veiling it "if we 
knew each other better I should suspect you were grown 
tired of me, and that well! you won't be angry? that 
you were a little clumsy at taking leave. There! But 
surely we don't know each other well enough for that. 
One only parts in that way from friendships that have 
no more to offer. Surely, not from a pretty woman 
one is just beginning to know and care for, and who 
cares a great deal for one in return. Am I to suspect 
conscience ? " 

He clutched at the suggestion, saying : " Yes." 

" What sort of conscience ? Another woman ? Pret- 
tier, perhaps, than this ? " 

" No, no." 

" Oh, I could have forgiven you freely, even if it had 
been. Man's conscience is often nothing but a pretty 
woman in disguise. Are you acting under a sense of 
duty ? You are not engaged ? " 

He lent a negative to that, in turn. 

She said : " Not that? " and her gaze, swelling com- 
prehensively, seemed to breathe enlightenment at last. 
"Then it is I," she said very quietly, "who am the 
cause of your going ! " 

"No, no!" he protested. His chivalry could not 
bear to wound this beautiful woman with the weapon 

322 BELLA 

she had put into his hand. " That is not fair. You 
are not the cause any more than I." 

" You have heard something to-night. Your friend 
at the Majestic has been talking about me. Well 
what has he told you ? " 

" I am not going to repeat it." 

" I need not ask. People do not come two hundred 
miles to say kind things. The farther news has to 
travel, the worse it is, as a rule." Her lips curled with 
the smitten look that scorns to admit the wound. " So 
I suppose you hate me now." 

" Heaven forbid ! " 

" Yet you want to run away from me." She laid 
one hand upon his knee; the warmth of each finger 
crept through upon him like the burn of hot kisses. 
" Do you believe it ? " 

"Believe what?" 

" What your friend says of me ? " 

He hesitated. " I will believe you." 

" But suppose I don't deny it. Suppose " 

She relinquished her remaining clasp of his hand, 
and laid her fingers suddenly upon his shoulder with 
the seductiveness of Eve, bringing her lips near to his 
own. The words that issued from them came cradled 
in living perfume that stifled resolution like the scent of 
the lotus. The warmth from her bosom rose to him, 
wafted by its own rise and fall. All his physical being 
seemed to simmer on the fierce stove of temptation, 
passing away from him through diffused channels of 
tingling nerve into mere vaporized existence. He was 
scarcely flesh and blood, but the elemental essence of 
life; incorporate desire, to be blown this way or that 
by a woman's breath. 

"Suppose I say it is quite true?" She watched 
his eyes as never woman since the Poet's own mother 

BELLA 323 

had watched his eyes before. "Suppose I say that? 
Well. What should you answer?" 

He answered nothing. His heart was melting. 

" Should you hate me then ? Should you ? " Her 
fingers were locked behind his neck; her eyes were 
deadly pools of pleading; large, deep, irresistible. 

" I could never hate you." 

"Even if it were true?" 

" Even if it were true." 

" It would make no difference to your thought of 

Loyalty answered : " None." 

" Dare I believe you ? " 

" Oh, you may believe me." 

She drew her face back and looked at him from the 
outstretched limit of her arms. "And you would still 
wish to go? because it is true?" 

He tried, even at this late hour, to justify his resolu- 
tion. " It is not for my sake alone " 

" But if I tell you I have no sake? The world has 
robbed me of all the sake I ever had. If I put all the 
sake on to your own side, and say : ' Stay, if you think 
my love worth staying for ! ' If I draw your face for- 
ward like this, in my arms and kiss you kiss you 
kiss you, so, and tell you how we will love each other 
and laugh at the world! If I say it is true and I do 
say it will you kiss me in return, and tell me you love 
me too, and will not, cannot leave me ? Will you ? Will 
you? Will you?" 

His lips, wet with the kisses heaped on them, sought 
blindly after hers like a child at the breast. His arms, 
put out in the first instance for preservation, were in- 
terlocked with hers. The sickly mistiness of a great 
passion saturated his entire being within its anaesthetic 
sweetness, as they swayed together over the abyss. 

324 BELLA 

Oh, Mr. Pendlip, sir! uttering at this very moment 
those extraordinary noises in your bed, as if you were 
indignant with the mattress, trouble your mind no 
longer with this boy, for he is beyond the service of 
your wrath. Your snorts and groans are coinage 
wasted on a lost cause. You have done your best, 
sir; you have offered him a feast that should have 
touched a prodigal, and drunk the finest champagne for 
his conscience's sake. Dismiss him now and take your 
well-earned slumber. Nothing but a miracle can save 
him, and the age of miracles (as everybody knows, sir) 
is past and gone. 


a miracle saved him. 

A few seconds sooner it had been no miracle at 
all; merely the every-day intervention of Providence. 
But now it fitted its place in eternity like the hairspring 
of a watch. There fell a sound of footsteps ; the sudden 
warning of a grasped door-handle. The Poet was ex- 
pelled from that perfumed embrace like a dewdrop 
shaken out of the heart of a rose. He heard Mrs. 
Dysart exclaim: "Bella!" 

The name, so long ignored by conscience, fell upon 
him with the magic of an enchantress' wand. All the 
thick cloud of passion, vaporized and escaped from 
his physical keeping, like the Genie of the flask, came 
back into its frail receptacle of clay. He turned at 
Mrs. Dysart's exclamation, and the sight of the girl 
in the doorway was as the throwing open of shutters 
to the pale cool dawn after a night's fever, with clear 
daylight streaming through the casement and quenching 
the candles. And his soul had grace to thank God 
for deliverance. 

The girl's hand lay on the outer knob awhile, as 
she stood, gazing into the room with contracted eyes of 
search ; a softly luminous presence in the mellow light, 
clad in a quilted dressing-gown; her bare feet thrust 
into bedroom slippers of white wool. For all the world, 
or for all Heaven, she looked at the moment of her 
entrance like some blest messenger from above. The 
sudden sound of her own name, falling so immediately 
on her entrance, had surprised and checked her like 


326 BELLA 

an unexpected drop of rain; but next moment, to the 
single cry : " Mamma ! " like the glad responsive bleat 
of a lost lamb that hears the maternal voice at last, 
she ran forward and flung her arms impetuously around 
the beloved neck; quenching her lips at that fount of 
clear affection whose waters flowed so turbidly but 
the moment since. "Mamma!" she cried, rejoicing 
strangely in the name. " You are here ! " There was a 
history of mental inquietude in the relief breathed out 
upon these words. 

The love that had coiled so hotly around a poet's 
heart wound the girl now into the tenderest toils. The 
passionate wine of wooing with which she had intoxi- 
cated conscience, was turned in a moment to milk for 
the feeding of a girl's affection. She drew Bella under 
the ineffable protection of her bosom, putting around 
her a girdle of generous arm that gathered the loose 
white gown in outline over the girl's soft figure; press- 
ing back with fond fingers the fair width of brow for 
long gaze into the gray eyes beneath. Aspasia was all 
mother in a moment. The Poet by her side sat mute 
and marveled. His own voice, when this miracle took 
place, could not have served him for a word. It filled 
him with wonder to think this woman needed so little 
turning-space for her emotions; her passion doubled 
like a hare, with such celerity the eye could scarce be- 
lieve the movement, and would have suspected its own 
testimony sooner than credit her agility. 

" Oh, yes, I am here ! " he heard the familiar voice 
return, with all its old serenity and assurance. " Where 
else, indeed, should I be? But you are here, too, Bella 
and I can't understand that, for by now you should 
be far away and fast asleep. Whatever has brought 
you downstairs again, child ? " 

" I could not sleep I heard a dog crying. Oh, ever 

"He heard Mrs. Dysart exclaim: Bella!' 



such a long while. Mrs. Herring says some one's going 
to die when they do like that, and I wondered who it 
cduld be. A dog did that when her uncle died, so it's 
quite true. She says dogs can smell death ever so far 
away, and after awhile I was sure I could smell it too, 
and got out of bed and put on these. Leonie was 
making a dreadful noise with her nose and it frightened 
me worse. I wanted to wake her, but I daredn't, be- 
cause she would have been angry. And then I made 
up my mind to slip out to your bedroom for I thought 
1 didn't know who the dog could mean. Mrs. Her- 
ring says it's some of your own flesh and blood, that's 
bred in the bone. And you, of course you are all I've 
got. Except Roo. And I love him too. O my! But 
he's not bred in the bone, so I knew the dog didn't 
mean him. First of all I prayed the dog might have 
made a mistake and meant somebody else ever so far 
away. And as soon as ever I came out on to the land- 
ing I knew it had, for I saw the light in the hall, and 
your bedroom door was open And I came down- 
stairs, and here I am. O my ! " 

"You dear little goose!" Mrs. Dysart told her. 
"Allowing yourself to be stuffed with Mrs. Herring's 
sage and onions and stories of barking dogs ! If some- 
body had to die every time a dog cried, Bella, there 
would soon be an end to German bands." She released 
the girl from the closeness of her embrace and laughed 
over her with indulgent merriment, in a loosened circle 
of arm. " There, there ! " She stooped suddenly for- 
ward and stopped her laughter with two resolutely 
placed kisses. " Kiss me again, Bella, and go back to 
bed like the good girl you are now that you see for 
yourself what nonsense the dog has been telling you. 
And don't let's talk about dying when mamma has Roo 
to take care of her." 

328 BELLA 

He winced guiltily under the words, as to the playful 
menace of a blow. 

"You call him Roo, too," Bella noticed, with the 
quick perception of her thirteen years, and then, with- 
out giving space for a reply, tilted up her dear head in 
petition, speaking with the thin and clear and hurried 
voice for favors. " Let me stay a little while, mamma ! 
Only a little while. Do ! Let me sit between you both, 
and Roo can tell me things to make me forget all about 
the dog, and I will go as soon as ever you say I mustn't 
ask to sit up any longer." 

" But, dear child ! You mustn't really ask to sit up 
any longer, now! Do you know what time it is?" 

" No. Don't tell me, and then it won't seem so late. 
I couldn't sleep all at once, even if I went to bed." 
She caught keen sight of the concession deep down in 
the current of Mrs. Dysart's eyes, rippling up to her on 
an amused bubble. " I know ! " she cried, showering 
her laughter on them both. " It's ' yes ' and ' what a 
funny girl I am, Bella ! ' O my ! make way for me 
please, and cuddle me up close. It's lovely. I'm glad 
the dog woke me up aren't you ? " And a moment 
later she was sandwiched between them on the sofa, 
with the Poet's overcoat extemporized over her knees 
as though she were driving a bus, her arms linking all 
three into a companionship of smiles. First the Poet 
must tell her all about Mr. Pendlip and the dinner; 
then they must re-partake of that wonderful tea, 
scarcely less real in the repetition than in the actuality, 
and Bella must tell the Poet once more how much she 
loves this friend of theirs, and now to-morrow he 
shall not leave them, but shall stay, O my! stay ever so 
long, and see mamma, and have tea with mamma and 
all of them in the garden. And then, when they have 
talked like this awhile, and Mrs. Dysart's voice sounds 

BELLA 329 

a warning " Bella ! " Bella protests : " No, no, no Not 
yet, mamma. Don't say ' Bella ' yet. Let Roo tell me 
a- fairy-tale first a lovely long one, and then I will 
go as good as good. Begin ' Once upon a time.' O my ! 
I love 'once upon a time' best, don't you?" 

So the Poet almost as fanciful a being to himself 
as any of these extravagant creatures feigned for Bella 
told the girl a fairy-tale beginning even as she wished : 
"Once upon a time." By all dramatic precedent the 
tale should have contained an allegory; under guise of 
a story for the girl he should have preached a parable 
to the woman. But the idea did not come upon him 
till too late, and merely then in a vision of satire on 
the situation, without the least thought to make use 
of it. At the end of half an hour Bella rose out of 
her sheath like a nodding night breeze from some 
drowsy hollow, winding her arms flaggingly round Mrs. 
Dysart's neck. Sleep lay on her lashes, extinguishing 
the winking tapers in her gray eyes, and drawing down 
their curtains to sweet slumber. " Good-night," she 
said, squeezing out round-mouthed kisses, and echoing 
good-nights, held up her mouth to the Poet with the 
kiss already formed on it. For the first time since their 
friendship the Poet received the token with feeling of 
shame, as if he took a gift from one already robbed. 
He did not look at Mrs. Dysart. 

" To-morrow," said Bella dreamily, her lips released, 
" we will go and see Mr. Pendlip again." 

" To-morrow never conies, Bella ! " the Poet re- 
minded her with a smile. 

"To-day then!" Bella substituted. "O my! It 
must be to-day by this time, mustn't it ! " 

"Yes. We are all of us a day older, Bella, since 
you came downstairs. A day older, and I hope a day 
wiser." That last was for Mrs. Dysart, and Mrs. 

330 BELLA 

Dysart did not mistake the motive. She watched Bella's 
going with her elbow on her knee and her throat sup- 
ported in the hollow of her outspread hand. The smile 
of motherhood was on her lips ; no more. 

" O my ! I don't know about a day wiser ! " Bella 
confided. " I don't think I feel any wiser. I don't think 
I want to feel any wiser. I'd rather be very, very 
happy." By the door she turned with one of her sudden 
impulses to ask the Poet : " Have you noticed my 
dressing-gown ? Do you like it ? " 

" Very much, Bella." 

" I'm glad you've seen it. I have another at home. 
Almost nicer than this, but I don't know. I'm ever so 
sleepy, now. Good-night, mamma. Good-night, Roo." 

He came out into the hall, ostensibly to see the last 
of her, but not less with a purpose to protract the 
moment when he must meet those deep eyes once more. 
Her white-shod feet went " plop, plop," one after the 
other up the stairs like baby rabbits; her head nodded. 
At the bend in the staircase she stooped and called 
his name with the aroused voice of interest. 


" Yes." 

" My hair's not really red, is it ? " 

"Not a bit. Why?" 

" Nothing. Only Leonie says it is. That's all." 

" Does Leonie sleep with her mouth open ? " 

" Sometimes." 

"Drop the soap into it, Bella." 

" O my ! " 

Two more good-nights and that was all. He re- 
mained for some time longer outside the door in the 
attitude of a listener but that was not because of the 
girl. Only because of the woman, sitting motionless 
and expectant in the room beyond. 


A ND then he turned into the room again. Where he 
/*> had sat of late by Mrs. Dysart's side and passed 
through that soul's ordeal by combat, merely his coat 
lay now, limp and inanimate, like a passion slain upon 
the field. His temptress, with both hands interlocked 
about her knee, lay back amid the cushions to the limit 
of her straightened arms. Her chin made a pit for 
itself in the softness of her breast ; her lips were parted 
in a sustained smile; her eyes, gazing upward through 
their screen of lashes, intently watchful. They fol- 
lowed the Poet in curious interrogation, part whimsical, 
part grave, part wistful as he crossed to the fireplace 
and took up his station with an arm measured out 
against the length of the mantel. The action was clear. 
There was no mistaking that definition of distance be- 
tween them. For awhile each held back on the an- 
ticipation of the other's words ; words seemed immi- 
nent alike behind the woman's smile and the Poet's 
grave repression. Some other of her sex, perhaps of 
less discernment than Mrs. Dysart, not knowing, or 
affecting to ignore, of what ingredients the silence was 
compounded, might have cracked it inconsequently like 
an egg, laughing this late interruption aside, and all 
that pertained to it. But Mrs. Dysart had a finer wit, 
a deeper understanding than that. Her beauty was not 
of the flesh alone ; spirit mingled with it too. Passion, 
once damped and trodden underfoot, requires a two- 
fold labor to rekindle. The spirit of the girl still lin- 


332 BELLA 

gered vital in the room, and made a seemly barrier 
between them. And it was the thought and memory 
of her that prompted the Poet's first words. 

" There goes somebody," he said at length, " whom 
we both love better than ourselves." 

The little flame of laughter illuminating Mrs. Dy- 
sart's lips flickered in the sense of his words. 

" You mean ? " she asked, for all she knew well 
what he meant. 

" There is only one meaning." 

" That makes it the easier to overlook." 

" It is for our sakes and Bella's sake good-by." 

" Again ? What ! You are revoking to-night like 
a woman. I thought you were void of that suit half 
an hour ago. When am I to take you at your word? " 

" Now." 

"Why now?" 

" Because you never took me before." 

" That proves my wisdom." 

" Here is a chance to prove your generosity." 

" I have proved that already." 

"In what way?" 

" In what way ? " She laughed with the slightest 
taste of bitterness on her lips. " You have a man's 
memory for favors! It is poor thanks when the giver 
must record the gift. If I had plucked you a rose, at 
least you would have worn it in your buttonhole till 
you had left me. Yet I have plucked and offered you 
more than that. Much more. The very most that a 
woman has to offer. Was it so little, then? Have you 
so soon forgotten ? " 

" Heaven knows I have not." 

" Oh ! If my kisses were not sweet enough they 

will soon ripen with the warmth of a little loving. 
Love's fruit ripens like all others in the hot places. 

BELLA 333 

Come, you have tasted me, Rupert. Don't throw me 
aside so soon. Throw me aside later, if you like, when 
you have grown tired of me. Leave me when you have 
learned, through loving, to hate me a little as all men 
do in the end. Let us part, if we are to part, on some 
pretext of a quarrel that leaves me a little anger for my 

She pitched her voice persuasively with unimpas- 
sioned eloquence so as just to reach him and no more; 
still nursing her knee in the cradle of her interlinked 
hands. There were moments when she looked to sit 
to an invisible harp, drawing soft and bitter sweetness 
from its strings. 

" I could never hate you," he declared. 

She shook a smiling head. " What did courageous 
Peter say?" 

" Oh ! If you think I could not love you," he told 
her through his tightened lips, " if you think it is easy 
for me to talk conscience and duty! But you do not. 
You know how long I have been wavering between 
those and you; what a struggle it has been, and might 
be still. I am not spurning your generosity. I only 
ask less of it than you would give." 

" Yes, yes," she struck in. " I know you are. But 
when woman has offered herself, to ask for less is to 
refuse all. Once she has poured herself out like wine 
into the glass, it is drink or spill." 

" That is not true in this case, or of me." 

" It is true. I am a woman. I speak for my sex." 

" You are more than a woman." He grew courage- 
ous. " You are a mother, too." 

" You are unkind to remind me of it." 

" I say it to remind us both. Let us at least be 
true to her. I hold Bella's friendship as sacred as 
anything in the world. Don't ask me to desecrate that. 

334 BELLA 

Let us keep it pure and free of self-reproach. As for 
ourselves let us be what we have been, and still are, 
for Bella's sake. Friends." 

" Friends ! " Mrs. Dysart breathed bitterness upon 
the word. " You ask too little of me," she said, " and 
in exchange you wish to give too much. With me, you 
know it, friendships are impossible. For your love I 
can give you love, as much as you need; as much as 
ever you ask. But when you talk of friendship you 
know it is a thing I cannot return." 

" You misjudge me. I do not know it. I will not 
admit it. I offer you my friendship as freely as I ask 
for yours." 

"Mine!" She laughed dimly. "What is mine? A 
thing you could never acknowledge. A gift you would 
try to hide. Oh, I know! You will deny it and talk 
as much chivalry as Don Quixote here in this room, 
alone with me. But once outside in the world, you will 
admit the truth of it quickly enough. W T here is the 
wisdom in buying worthless friendship at the price for 
which you could have real love? A woman will not sell 
herself too cheap, but by the man she cares for she will 
not let herself be bought too dear. What ! Your friend 
has come over two hundred miles to try and tear you 
from me, and you still think friendship possible! How 
much credit has the world given our friendship? How 
much would it give? So little that you seek to leave 
me. You speak of friendship when all the while you 
mean flight. Oh, I know these covert farewell friend- 
ships mere hands put out to take leave; warm and 
fervid and substantial while one clasps them, and then 
gone! How many lovers have we women lost 
through friendship, a door through which we may not 
follow, and through which they never return." 

If there were bitterness in her words it was not 

BELLA 335 

aimed at him. She spoke with the spirit of a smile still 
pervading her lips; her submissive candor smote him. 
He beheld Truth like a dragon that led on Beauty, and 
his courage would have been St. George, to engage 
with this monster and slay him, but reason perceived the 
folly of the combat and restrained the futile ardors 
of youth. For awhile his lips lacked any words to 
say, and they faced each other silently; he with his 
arm against the mantel; she with one white hand inert 
upon the upholstered back of the settee, and the other 
softly outspread upon her bosom, its fingers plucking 
at her pearls. And then, of a sudden, the Poet found 
his tongue. 

" Let us talk of Bella." 

She made a lifting movement of her lashes, almost 

"Why of Bella?" 

" Because we are both of us better than ourselves 
when we talk of her." 

" Is it fair to use my child against me ? " Her lips 
preserved their smile of defensive insincerity, but he 
heard the tones of anxiousness behind them; the appre- 
hensions of a heart that can face truth on all sides but 

" Against you, no. But for you, I think yes. Be- 
sides it was to speak about Bella that I came to- 

She twisted her lips with the brief wry face for sour 
fruit, and said: "You are complimentary." But there 
was curious interest enveloped in the laugh that fol- 
lowed. "I flattered myself you had come to see 


" I will tell you the truth now. I was frightened of 



336 BELLA 

" Because I had reason. I feared for all my good 

" What good resolutions were those ? " 

" Ah ! You may well ask that. I asked it, too, be- 
fore Bella came downstairs. But for her there would 
be none left." 

"You mean your going away?" 

" That is only one of them." 

" Only one ! There were others ? " 

" I was filled with good resolutions when I came." 

" Your good resolutions cannot have concerned me. 
Nobody's good resolutions were ever to my advantage." 

" They concerned us all. But chiefly Bella." 

"Bella! You think very much of Bella." 

" I think deeply much of Bella." 

" More than you think of me ! " 

" More almost than of anybody." 

" Certainly more than I had understood. I thought 
perhaps but it must have been my vanity that you 
made much of her because " 


" Because it seems a ridiculous confession now 

because of me." 

" You are partly right. It was because of you both. 
I scarcely understood my own mind. Bella is but a 
child, and you seemed like a grown-up Bella. Some- 
times at night, when you were seated at the piano, 
singing to me, I saw Bella's face exact; the very look 
about the lips and eyes. It felt for all the world as 
if ten years had passed by since dinner, and Bella was 
grown into a woman as some day this must come to 
pass. She cannot always be the child." 

" You did not come to talk to me of this ? " 

"Of nothing else." 

" Why ? And yet you are going to leave Spathorpe ! 



I cannot understand. What has all this to do with 
you ? " 

"Just as much or as little as you will allow. Will 
you will you be offended with me if I take the liberty 
to speak very openly. I think we are friends enough 
for that. At first I was too much of a coward. But 
I feel brave enough for anything now. I want to be 
frightfully rude. May I?" 

" If you like. I am not frightened of any rudeness 
that comes from you." 

"Then tell me. I want to ask. It is a question 
that has often been in my mind but never so keenly 
as to-night. What is going to happen to Bella?" He 
saw the wince in Mrs. Dysart's eyes, and the con- 
striction of her lips. 

" How do you mean ! Happen to her ! When ? " 

" Now. At any time. As she grows older." 

" God knows Do you think I haven't thought 

about that?" 

" And what conclusion have you come to ? " 

" None." The hopeless brevity of the answer be- 
trayed the degree of effort required to speak it. The 
mouth, of late so laughing and seductive, was strained 
and careworn, showing her countenance older. Con- 
science, filled with self-rebuke and fears, seemed to 
wring hands behind the window of her beauty. 

" But you know the danger threatening her ? She 
cannot be kept a child forever. A year or two no 
more than that, and her mind will be alive. She will 
seek to inquire to understand many things. And 
then " 

Mrs. Dysart framed lips of remonstrance and appeal. 

" Don't." 

" But I must. To-night it is necessary we talk of 
all these things." 

338 BELLA 

" I know what you want to say. That I am a 
wicked worthless woman, unfit to have the care of my 
own daughter. That I am a danger to her purity and 
happiness. Oh! Do you think I don't know all that 
without being told. Do you think I haven't a con- 
science ? " 

" That is not in the least what I meant to say." 

"A conscience all the more terrible for being sup- 
pressed and scorned. The doctor told me I must take 
care of my heart. But for Bella I could wish it were 
broken, at times. I don't fear death for all I am a 
woman. Death is as kind as the world, and a friend, 
at least, that one can never lose. But if I were to die 
what would become of Bella? And yet, if I live 
what must become of her? Alive or dead it seems as 
if I can only bring injury to the one I love before all 
and everybody in the world. For God knows I do love 
her; have loved her from the first hour she brought 
me suffering, and taught me the blessedness of pain. 
I would give all the blood in my veins to save one hair 
of her head from hurt. She is the only thing in life 
I value; the only thing I live for, and not even the 
remorse she makes me feel can take away that joy 
from my cup. She alone makes the cup bitter; it is 
she alone that sweetens it. Without her I could live 
or die with equal indifference. With her I can do 
neither. I ought to have died years ago, when Bella 
was born. I see it now. We see all these things when 
it is too late. 

" And yet I am not so very much more wicked 
than the rest of women. After all, there is not such 
a tremendous difference between the sinner and the 
saint. It's merely the point of view. The one makes 
a pleasure of pain; the other, a pain of pleasure. Each 
secretly envies the other's life, and finds discontent with 

BELLA 339 

his own Do you think, if I could, I would not gladly 
change the liberty of the world for the pious cruse 
and crust, and the quiet cell; for a little respite from 
the tyranny of laughter? Oh! don't imagine I wish to 
make the Saint Nitouche. I am not trying to justify 
myself. I am willing to pray with the publican : ' Lord, 
be merciful to me, a sinner,' for we are all sinners 
that wilfully fall short of the best in us. I have had 
my good resolutions, like you; a whole service of them, 
though most of the pieces are broken now. Only a 
cracked and broken few remain. 

"But I don't want to sicken you with confession 
and repentance that seek to put all the blame on to 
somebody else's shoulders. Perhaps I should not lack 
for shoulders, but it does not matter very much who 
devised the feast, now one is left to pay the reckoning. 
Years ago, when I was but a girl" she broke off. 
" No ! I will not tell you. I will be stronger than that. 
Women only confess themselves when it is useless any 
longer to profess. Confession is the side-door to 
esteem. If we cannot enter a heart through respect, 
we try to reach it contemptibly by pity. Oh, yes. It 
is true. I have only to spill a few tears; to wet my 
lashes with them; to make my bosom rise and fall; 
to put my hands before my face, and you would begin 
to falter under your good resolutions. When all seems 
lost, a woman has still her tears. When all seems won, 
a man has still his vanity, that loves to be wept for." 

And so much, indeed, had the emotion of her own 
words stirred her, that, when she stopped on a sudden, 
her lashes had actually begun to gleam. She tried to 
smile at him through beautiful magnified eyes, and for 
a moment, while the tears grew and dissolved, there 
was a silence between them. Had Mrs. Dysart, even 
then, turned those wet and quivering lashes to account, 

340 BELLA 

and tried on her opponent the feint so frankly exposed, 
who knows? She might have had him at her side again. 
She held his destiny within her dewy lashes as a sor- 
ceress holds the world in her crystal, and the Poet's 
heart trembled. But the woman laughed instead, shak- 
ing away like rain the tears that gathered in her eyes, 
with a beautiful admission of folly. 

" There, there ! " she said. " See how easily a 
woman weeps ! As easily as a man forgets. I could 
have cried more effectively than that, believe me had 
I wished, but I gave you my word. Well, what were 
we talking about ? Oh, I remember. It was my wicked- 
ness. You said I was unfit to have the charge of a 
daughter. I think you are quite right. I have thought 
the same for years." 


**T SAY such a thing? You wrong me. Never 

in this world." 

He had listened to her words with the silence that 
pays respect, not acquiescence. All the while she was 
speaking his conscience cried : " No, no ! " but her words 
came out of the fullness of a heart, like worshipers 
from the house of God, and speech, though of another 
persuasion, stood aside and did not tax them. " If I 
had said anything I should have said this: The world 
contains no better mother." 

The assertion drew her eyes upon him, widened and 

" How do you mean ? Why do you say that ? " 

" Because I believe it." 

"There is something you hide from me." 

" Nothing." 

" Something I am not clever enough to understand." 

"Not at all. You understand Bella. Bella is the 
proof of my assertion. If you need any better tribute 
to your care than Bella, tell me where it is to be found." 

" Ah Bella ! " she cried, as if the mere word Bella 
explained all. "But it is no tribute to my care; the 
tribute is to herself. She cannot help being what she 
is. It is not because I have not neglected her." 

" Whatever you may say of yourself you have given 
her nature what it needed. Love, indulgence, gen< 
osity, the influence of your own beauty. All that Bell; 
has, she owes to herself and you. In hands 


342 BELLA 

scrupulous for her welfare she might have been ter- 
ribly otherwise. Let us believe in Providence, shall 
we? for once; and say that in this worst of all possible 
worlds you were chosen designedly for Bella's good. 
That is what I believe. Believe it with me, too. Let 
us, from to-night, look upon ourselves as the ministers 
of Providence. Providence gave Bella to you, Provi- 
dence brought Bella to me. Providence made no mis- 
take in her choice of mother. Providence well, I hope 
it made no mistake in her choice of friends. There 
was horrible scope for error in both. And now, what 
Providence has begun let us complete. Providence 
has confidence in you. I have confidence in you. Provi- 
dence has confidence in me. Have confidence in me, 
too. I ask leave to be your friend, and Bella's friend. 
Will you let me?" 

" Oh, my friend Rupert ! " she said. She was twist- 
ing her rings ; her chin steeped in her bosom once more ; 
her eyes wonderingly on him. " You have a heart too 
large for you. You don't know what you are saying. 
You follow the sentiment and lose the fact. It is beau- 
tiful, but impossible, all this. Life is what yo'u make 
it, for you. I am what life makes me. You don't 
realize the difference between us; the insuperable diffi- 
culties for me." 

" Tell me what they are." 

" Ah, no ! " She shook her head. " There are some 
things a woman cannot confess to anybody she cares 

" May a man guess at them ? " 

She protested. " Not even that " but he over- 
rode the objection. 

" Have these insuperable difficulties to do with 
money? There, I have been brutal. Be as brutal in 
return, and tell me the truth." 

BELLA 343 

She demurred, " No, no. After all " 

He persisted : " Have they ? " 
" I will not answer." 

" You have answered. Those are no difficulties " 

"You think not?" 

" I am sure not." 

"For you, perhaps not. But for me Do you 
think I would - No, no ! You cannot imagine. I have 
my pride, friend Rupert, it is my substitute for reputa- 
tion. I will accept nothing I cannot repay." 

" But you shall accept this in trust for Bella. Bella 
shall repay." 


"Oh, I don't know how, and I don't know when, 
and I don't know where. Perhaps some day by letting 
me be witness of the happiness I have helped to make 
for her. That would be repayment enough. All we 
ask of a flower is that it shall bloom for us. You 
know Bella is my little sister, and I am Bella's big 
brother. It is all drawn up on paper, and signed and 
witnessed. I want my little sister to grow up in com- 
pany with all her virtues; to lose not one of them 
by the way; to grow up good, and wise, and healthy, 
and beautiful; shielded from all harm and every sort 
of danger from the corrupting goodness as well as 
the corrupting evil of the world. Perhaps if I could 
have my way, she should not grow up at all. I would 
keep her just as she is, for I don't see how we can 
improve on her. But Nature doesn't listen to our fears, 
and Time won't stop for us. Help me to keep her close 
to what she is. Give her all your love and all your care, 
and the best and noblest of your wisdom. You are 
beautiful, your beauty will encourage hers. You are 
generous, cultured, gracious. You can teach her much. 
And you are good, too. Oh, yes, I mean it. I believe it. 

344 BELLA 

No good mother can ever be a bad woman. Let us do 
our part for Bella, and then, for the rest, leave every- 
thing to Providence. Providence won't betray us now." 

" Do you mean all this ? " 

" I mean every word of it." 

For a space she looked at him with eyes that shone 
with tender gratitude and admiration, as if the beauty 
of the thing preached converted her doubts almost to 
believe. And then stern reality wrung the softening 
faith out of her gaze, and put her convert longings to 

" Ah, no ! It is impossible. You are become 
Poetry. Because you see beauty in an idea you seek 
to perpetuate it; to make it permanent and real; and 
there are beauties of a sort that must not touch reality 
that are destroyed the moment you try to capture 
them, like fragile butterflies. On one generous impulse 
you would build a whole prison of hopeless regrets. 
This obligation you espouse so warmly would grow 
heavier with each year; with each month; each week. 
You would find it in the end intolerable. Even the 
noblest impulse dies down, but the consequences stay 
behind. Once the divine fire is out, the soul in which 
it burned is filled with mere ashes. You would repent 
horribly, tied to your indiscretion like a man to a wife 
grown hateful. All of us would suffer. It would be 

" Nevertheless we will risk the tragedy. All life 
is tragic in some part of it. Every error man makes 
has its tragic opportunity. We have been very near to 
tragedy, perhaps, to-night for one or other of us. Who 
knows ! " 

" To-morrow," she went on, " you are running 
away from us to save your character. And yet, with 
such a necessity as that to teach you the stern truth, 



you talk wildly of noble things, as if the world had no 
tongue, nor you a heart to be afraid of it." 

" The world has a short memory. Poets have been 
singing that for centuries. And I am not running away 
now merely to save my character that appears to be 
gone already. I am going simply so that the world 
may have a chance to forget. The world will forget in 
time. Other more brilliant and audacious sinners than 
ourselves will take our place. In Spathorpe, after all, 
we have been indiscreet. Spathorpe is only a small place. 
Towns grow more tolerant as they grow bigger. In 
London, Paris, Berlin, this would never have hap- 
pened. To-morrow, think only that I go to lay the 
foundations of Bella's future happiness. You said you 
would gladly exchange your liberty of the world for 
the recluse's cruse and crust. You hated your life, and 
the slavery of laughter. Well, I want to prove your 
sincerity, for Bella's sake. For Bella's sake you will 
accept all that my friendship offers." 

" I have not promised," she began. " I am pledged 
to nothing." Even now, the wounded woman's love 
and pride rose up for war within her, but the Poet had 
no further fear. 

" I rely on something nobler than your pledge," he 
told her. 

And with but little more than that, this fateful inter- 
view drew to its close. To pave a way to their fare- 
wells and make leave-taking more easy, they put on, 
both, a lighter manner; shed all tone of controversy. 
Their conversation, so deep in the middle, thinned away 
like the waters of a lake to a thin-lipped transparency 
at its edge. The Poet's departure assumed an aspect 
superficially prosaic. ^ 

" When do you leave Spathorpe? In the morning? 

" I expect so. Yes. The train goes at 10 : 47." 

346 BELLA 

"So early?" 

" Mr. Pendlip wants to catch the luncheon train at 

" I shall still be in my dressing-gown." 

" You must have a good rest in the morning. I 
have kept you up a frightful long time." 

" I suppose I shall not see you again before you 
go. You will write to tell me of your safe arrival." 

" You may be sure. And later, I shall write to 
touch on other things." 

She made no acknowledgment of that, except by a 
smile that seemed to say : " Oh, my friend Rupert ! You 
are young. You are sanguine." 

At last he rose to go, drawing on unaided the coat 
of which Mrs. Dysart's hand had so imperiously 
divested him. Perhaps she thought of that as she 
watched him, for there was something like a smile 
though not a smile that flickered in her eyes. It 
turned to a little emotion when he stood before her 
for departure, but the emotion was quickly subdued. 
" You are a good boy ! " she told him, with the mock 
seriousness that is emotion's refuge. " But you good 
men make life very hard for us women. I would 
almost like to kiss you but I think I won't. And be- 
sides I have not quite forgiven you. My pride is 
injured. It is humiliating to find out that one's good 
looks are inferior to a man's conscience. I am cer- 
tainly not so attractive as I thought myself. And a 
woman hates to be made a saint against her will. But 
your generosity saves you. If you had not that, your 
goodness would make you intolerable. Good-by. Stop ! 
After all I think I may venture to kiss you so long 
as I do it piously, here, on the cheek." And then, when 
she had done that, on both cheeks, she added more 
hurriedly : " Don't think it was all sin and heartless- 

BELLA 347 

ness, Rupert. It wasn't. I did care for you. With a 
little encouragement I could have loved you miserably. 
And I could have taught you to love me, too, in time, 
for all I'm ten years older; and we might have been 
most wickedly and wretchedly happy. There, I will not 
keep you, or repentance will repent of itself." 

She did not go with him to the door. The Poet let 
himself out into the morning air alone, and while he 
walked soberly along the deserted roadway to his 
rooms, Mrs. Dysart very quietly, and without the least 
fuss, leaning over the end of the settee on which she 
sat, made a small lace handkerchief damp with tears. 


AND on the morrow or to be exact, on that same 
morning, later Richard Pendlip received a letter 
inscribed in the Poet's hand. It did not surprise the 
recipient; it only pleated his mouth more grimly. 

" Well, well ! " he muttered to himself. " The fool 
needn't have written. I know well enough without." 
He pressed his thumb morosely on the button of the 
electric bell. " I'll order breakfast. Let's see what he 
says." What the Poet said was brief and so little true 
to Pendlip's expectation that he had to read the two 
lines twice before his incredulous understanding could 
admit the sense of them. " Why ! Bless me ! " cried 
Pendlip. " He's coming after all. What'll Rachel say 
to that! I'll send her a wire. No, no, I won't. I'll 
let it be a surprise for her." And the white-faced 
waiter addressed a rubicund human visage instead of a 

With each moment Pendlip's self -opinion grew. 
Surveying last night's dinner with an impartial eye, he 
began to find very little fault with the meal, or with his 
handling of a difficult mission. " If Ronsome had come 
himself," thought he, " I don't believe he could have 
done it better." 

His tact, properly reviewed, struck him as excellent. 
Not a word too much, not a word too little; no re- 
criminations; no expostulations; no show of authority. 
As for his fears that the Poet meant to play him false, 
why! they were but a prudent provision against the 


BELLA 349 

remote contingency of disappointment; the premiums 
paid for moral insurance. He had never doubted the 
boy in his own heart, any more than Rachel. His 
bosom rilled and overflowed with sententious confi- 
dences, bursting to be discharged upon the Prodigal 
returned. "Well, well! You've done the right thing, 
Rupert. I knew you'd show up honorably, my boy. 
Put the whole thing out of your mind. You'll hear 
.no more about it from us. Try and forget the woman. 
You ought to marry and settle down." 

And while Richard Pendlip made gratified incursions 
upon his ham and eggs, and discerned a sudden glory 
in the sunlight, apostrophizing the day, and saying: 
" Bless my life ! I declare it's a shame to be going 
back so soon. Let's have the window open a little 
wider. What a splendid place, to be sure. If it wasn't 
for the woman, I could do with a month of this." 

While Richard Pendlip glowed thus with the spirit 
of self-satisfaction and duty nobly done, the Poet sat 
sideways on his breakfast chair, with his coffee and 
eggs untasted, and administered the last sacraments of 
consolation to Bella Dysart; an altered, tearful Bella 
who hung with both arms about his neck, and could not 
believe, and could not be comforted. 

" Oh, Roo, Roo, Roo ! You're not going ! You're 
not going away, are you? Mamma says you are. Mr. 
Herring says he's packing all your things up. Mrs. 
Herring's making out your bill against the window 
downstairs, with her spectacles on. It's ever so long 
already. And Louisa's gone for a fresh bottle of ink 
and a postage stamp. Oh, no, no. You can't be going. 
Tell me you're not going." 

"Come, come! Bella!" he told her, putting a kiss 
upon the beseeching forehead lifted to him. 
cry It's not so bad as that-it's only me that's going. 

350 BELLA 

Not you. And besides, it isn't fair to cry like that, 
for I don't know how to cry, and can't join you. Men 
can't cry a bit any more than they can sew. They can 
only pull faces, Bella, or cough, or blow tunes on their 
noses. But if I could ! O my ! If only I could. Your 
cry wouldn't have the ghost of a chance against mine. 
You'd give up at once, and listen instead; for my cry 
would be big enough for both of us, like Sir Henry's 
umbrella. And, after all, what's the use of crying? It's 
no use, and it's no ornament. It only makes one's nose 
red, and one's eyes; and wets your pocket-handkerchief 
and my waistcoat, and gives me cold. Besides, I want 
to talk to you, Bella. I've got heaps of things to tell, 
but I really can't while you are weeping like that; for 
all the time I'm looking at your tears, and wondering 
if they're really made of sea-water as some scientists 
think; and calculating which will run down your cheek 
and reach the carpet or my waistcoat first. There! 
That's another. Right on my knee, like a hot three- 
penny bit. And all my things are packed, and I've no 
dry clothes to put on." 

" Then you are going ! " Bella broke out afresh. 
" Oh, Roo ! Oh, Roo ! Then you are going. Say you're 
not. Tell me you're not." 

" But you wouldn't have me tell a story, Bella ! " he 
remonstrated, looking with smiling pity on the big 
round tear that squeezed its slow way in spite of the 
bitten lip and nipped nose of repression onto her lashes 
for a silvery fall. Bella subscribed a faltering and 
hesitating " No o ! " but she was at that stage of 
trouble when moral perspective seems all awry, and truth 
and falsehood less distant from each other than in hap- 
pier hours, when the untempted heart has leisure to 
make splendid and righteous distinctions. " Why are 
you going ? Oh, Roo ! Why do you want to go ? " 

BELLA 351 

" I don't want to go, Bella." 

; ' Then if you don't want to go, why are you going? " 

" For the same reason, Bella, that poor pussie went 
into the pork pie. Because she couldn't help herself. 
It's all in the way of business, Bella. And you know 
what business is, don't you?" 

Bella uttered a quavering " Yes. Mamma says busi- 
ness is what makes gentlemen miss the last train. Oh, 
Roo ! Let it make you miss this one. Stop another day. 
Another morning. Another hour. You don't know 
how wretched I am. You only see the outside. In- 
side it's six, no ten, no, twenty times worse. It just 
feels like a funeral, Roo. I've never been to one, 
though I've seen lots out of doors. But Louisa has, and 
she says everybody was crying, and nobody could bear 
to look at anybody, and it took two of them to hold her 
Aunt up, and they gave her a pair of black gloves that 
weren't her size, and told her she could get them 
changed when the funeral was over, only she split the 
thumb. Oh, Roo! If you were me, and I were you, 
and I was going, and you were left behind, I couldn't 
go away like this, all of a sudden. Oh, I wouldn't. In- 
deed I wouldn't. You weren't going yesterday. Why 
should you be going to-day? Talk to me, Roo. Please! 
And try and make me understand. I'd love to under- 
stand, and know what I'm crying for. Perhaps I should 
cry easier then. I can't now for thinking about things." 

" But I'd rather you didn't understand, Mother 
Hubbard," the Poet admonished her tenderly, "and 
didn't cry at all. I wish I didn't understand myself 
and I'm not sure that I do. 

"Oh, Bella ! " he exclaimed. " Business is business, 
and understanding's a dreadful thing. So long as you 
can get along without understanding never undei 
stand. All the lawyers will tell you that, and charge 

352 BELLA 

you for it. Everything in the world alters when once 
you understand it. Everything seems to go. If only 
one could understand everything, there would be noth- 
ing, Bella, and that's terrible. Every time you under- 
stand something, you lose a bit of yourself; a bit of 
the old Bella. And soon there will be none of the old 
Bella left. Only an understanding, and a crying, 
knowledge and tears. I'm afraid I'm talking parables, 
Bella. You know what a parable is, don't you ? " 

"Yes," said Bella. "The Pilgrim's Progress and 
the Prodigal Son." 

" Well," reflected the Poet. " The Prodigal Son is 
one of them. And I'm another. And I think you're a 
third. We're all prodigal sons and daughters for 
the most part ; and parables to other people. But there's 
no fatted calf, Bella, for those who are prodigal chil- 
dren and parables to their own sorrowful selves : 
prodigal sons and daughters who come back to the home 
of their early innocence, and find it closed fast against 
them forever. Oh, Bella! Never stray from yourself. 
Keep close to your own self from day to day for fear 
you lose yourself and understand, and come back when 
it's too late ! " 

And Bella promised loyally through her tears, say- 
ing: "I will. I will, Roo. I'll keep just as I am. I 
promise. I won't change a bit. I won't understand 
anything. O my ! " 

" And we'll live on trust, won't we, Bella. You shall 
trust me, and I will trust you, and we'll both trust 
mamma, and mamma shall trust us both, and we'll all 
trust one another. Trusting is ever so much more beau- 
tiful than understanding. Like the old woman at the 
tuck shop at school, who couldn't read and couldn't 
write but trusted to our honor to chalk up all our jam- 
puffs and shandygaffs on the slate behind the counter, 



and pay for them on allowance day. She cried, too, 
Bella, when I left school, and gave me a bag of cheese- 
cakes to eat on my way home, and told me : ' You're 
only a young gentleman, with all your life before you; 
and I'm an old woman that has to count my days very 
careful now, for I never know how many more I'm 
likely to get.' And she said she'd just like to give 
me a kiss for luck if I'd let her, and as there was 
nobody about, I stuck my face over the counter and 
said : ' All right. Make haste ! ' and she gave me one 
and said : ' God bless you! ' ' 

" But you're coming back again ! " Bella interposed, 
displaying a new alarm. " Oh, Roo ! Say you are. Say 
you're not going for good." 

" Why, surely, you would not have me go for bad ! " 
the Poet taxed her, laughing these fresh fears aside. 
" I hope it's very much for good, or be sure I shouldn't 
go. And after all, what is there so dreadful about it, 
Bella? Everybody has to go, a little sooner or a little 
later. Lots of people have gone already. The Polli- 
wog's gone, though you never cried for him. And 
Summer's going too, and soon Spathorpe will be as 
silent as a Sunday. No Parade. No bands. No 
niggers. No nothing. And before so very long, a 
little girl called Bella Dysart will go like all the rest." 

"And then I shall see you again?" she broke out, 
radiant with sudden hope. "Shall I? Oh, Roo! Shall 
we all see each other again ? " 

"Very likely, Bella." 

" Only ' very likely ? ' Oh, say ' of course,' Roo. Tell 
me : ' Of course we shall.' " 

" Well then, ' of course we shall,' Bella." 


" Yes. Soon." 

" Very, very soon ? " 

354 BELLA 

"Very, very soon." 

"Where? In London?" 

"In London, Bella. Yes, I think so." 

She clasped his neck as if those soft arms were 
turned to steel of a sudden; her mouth pressed against 
his cheek was screwed as hard as a signet. " Oh, Roo ! 
Oh, Roo! I don't care how soon we go now. I don't 
want to stop at Spathorpe any longer. I hate it. No, 
I don't hate it. I couldn't hate it. I love it. But 
everything's different. It's almost as if I had begun 
to understand. I shall never go on the Parade again; 
or on the pier; or up to the Castle. Never. I shall 
never go anywhere, or do anything, or try to enjoy 
myself. All the time I shall be thinking about you. 
Shall you be thinking about me ? Oh, say you will. Say 
you will ! " 

" Indeed I will, Bella. And I will write some more 
poetry for you." 

"Like 'Alfred about to be washed,'" Bella threw 
in eagerly. " And ' Poor old Mrs. Cook ' and ' Un- 
grateful Jane'? Oh, I love those. And will you make 
them all up in a book one day, as you said you would, 
and print : ' To Bella ' on the front page, where every- 
body can see it ? You will ? Oh, Roo ! Oh, Roo ! And 
you'll write me a letter as soon as ever you get home, 
and put heaps of love and kisses at the end. Will you ? 
You will? Oh, Roo, Roo!" 

"And you must write to me too, Bella," the Poet 
told her. " You know how, beautifully. Put your 
tongue out, and curl your legs tight, and breathe like 
Bendigo when he's asleep under the sofa. Never mind 
a bit about the spelling. I'm not going to read your 
letters aloud, so you needn't be frightened. Besides, 
ladies, and gentlemen don't spell nowadays. It's fright- 



fully vulgar. Spelling's only for people who were 
brought up at board schools, and don't know any 
better. And don't trouble to rule any lines in pencil 
to begin with. Then you won't run off them. And 
drop all your blots onto the table-cloth if possible; 
they make letters so hard to read. But if you can't hit 
the table-cloth, aim for the carpet, Bella that's ever 
so much bigger, and you can tread the blot out with 
your foot. Write everything you can remember, and 
when you can think of nothing more to tell me, and 
you've eaten the end of your pen-holder to pieces, seal 
up the letter and put it in the post. Then you'll think 
of a lot. You're going to promise me, aren't you, 

" Oh, yes, yes ! " Bella chanted, with the fervor that 
is between delight and sorrow. " I promise, Roo. I 
promise. Truly and faithfully. Oh, ask me to promise 
ever such a lot more. I love promising. Don't you ? " 

And so the last grains of this summer gladness 
trickled to an end. Giovanni Massarella, that prince 
of mechanical pianists, drew up all unheard beneath the 
Poet's balcony, and nearly broke Bella's heart with the 
sudden music of departed joys; like a dead name, for 
the first time uttered, that was once the formula for 
love and laughter, and is now become a sure and sacred 
recipe for tears. Bella ran to the balcony, all blurred 
with weeping as she was, and paid Massarella his salary 
into the area, because she could not see a bit; and it 
took Massarella's comrade a tune and a half to find 
where the sixpence lay. And higher up the Parade 
were heard the niggers who would be here very shortly 
pursued by their customary retinue of unprofitable 
wooden spades and tin buckets and butcher's boys, that 
had encumbered the performance three times already, 

356 BELLA 

and were intent upon a fourth while the big dog licked 
somebody's beef in the butcher-boy's basket. They 
went out upon the balcony, these two that structure 
of dear and sentient iron, half monument, half friend 
and shared a few last sacred moments. There was 
not a single spot within range of Bella's mournful 
finger from which she did not cull some blessed virtue 
of sweet remembrance and association, distilled into the 
purest of tears. All Spathorpe in the sunlight seemed 
to shed a sigh; to exhale that wondrous sweetness that 
comes from a bruised heart; to give forth its best; to 
reflect Bella's sorrow with a countenance of heavenly 
tenderness and beauty. Never had the bay shone fairer, 
or smiled with a diviner light. Something of Sabbath 
sanctity seemed descended from above, investing the 
secular bosom of the place, and endowing every-day life 
with spiritual beauty. Soon the band would burst out 
upon the Parade; the turnstiles would chirrup; frocks 
would rustle. The Baron, sneezing in the strong sun- 
light, would wend his scented way to the terrace. The 
Powder Monkey, new-puffed and fleeced, would swing 
her jaunty petticoats across the bridge, carrying the 
familiar volume from the lending library that had 
made the journey so many times, unread. For these 
and others, life would be just the same. For the Poet 
it was become all suddenly a deeper, different tincture, 
with something of sadness ; something of resignation ; 
something of courage; something of unrest; something 
of tranquillity; very much of hope. 

And when, at the appointed time, the Parade should 
turn its eyes to look for him upon the terrace, he would 
already be far away, thundering along the rails toward 
that cherished new-world in life where he had the 
vision that Bella Dysart's happiness should be founded. 
And only the girl and mother would remain; the one 

BELLA 357 

humid of eye and mournful of mouth ; the other bright- 
eyed, restless, watchful of the clock; drawing comfort 
from her clasped daughter under semblance of impart- 
ing it, and consolation from the lips that cried: 
" Suppose " 



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net. Postpaid, $1.42. 

Mrs Wright's novel is a vivid picture of an American woman's fight 
with convention. Is a woman justified in defymg ^ Prejud.ces and 
conventions of society in her effort to obtam happiness? ** J 

is masterly. ' The Charioteers ' is a novel of marked distinct* 


Appletons Recent Books 

H ALCYONE. By Elinor Glyn, author of "The 
Reason Why/' "His Hour/' etc. Cloth, $1.30 net. 
Postpaid, $1.42. 

Mrs. Glyn's new novel is a very modern love story in which the prin- 
cipals are a dreamy little girl a finished product of Greek life and 
thought and a rising young politician, with a fine old professor as the 
god in the machine. The scenes are laid in a beautiful park in England, 
and on the Continent. It is an up-to-date idyll, rich in romance, rapid 
in action, pure, clean, wholesome, inspiring. The host of readers of 
"The Reason Why" will find this new story exactly to their liking. 

SHARROW. By the Baroness von Hutten, author 
of " Pam/' " Our Lady of the Beeches," " He and 
Hecuba," etc. Cloth, $1.30 net. Postpaid, $1.42. 

"Sharrow" is a story of complicated plot woven around the possession 
of a wonderful old estate owned by the Sharrows since the Middle Ages. 
" It is a book of flesh and blood and character, of individuality and power. 
Real people walk through its pages and real motives and emotions direct 
the movement of the story." New York Evening Sun. "The spell of 
Sharrow is cast over the reader before he knows it." Baltimore News. 

FAITH BRANDON. By Henrietta Dana Skinner, 

author of " Espiritu Santo," " Heart and Soul," etc. 
With Frontispiece. Cloth, $1.30 net. Postpaid, $1.42. 

Mrs. Skinner's new novel has for its heroine a most piquant and delight- 
ful American girl, who, at the age of sixteen, falls in love with a Russian 
prince. He is a man of lofty character with a serious purpose in life and 
devotes his energies to political journalism. The course of true love runs 
anything but smoothly. The story is full of action and incident, and has 
especial interest through its warmth and color, its pictures of life in Russia 
and the humanness of its characters. " A novel of purpose as well as an 
enchaining romance." Springfield Union. 

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