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Full text of "In the mountains [microform]"

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IN THE MOUNTAINS 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 




TORONTO . . . S. B. GUNDY 

Publisher in CatUMlafor Humphrey Milford 



US 



PRINTED IN GARDEN CITY, N. Y., U. S. A. 
Alt R.CHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TB»«.. 

.-o .OKE.0N LANGUAGES. .NCL.DiN^rE^;:;:^;:; 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



July 22nd. 

I want to be quiet now. 
I crawled up here this morning from the 
valley like a sick ant, struggled up to the 
little house on the mountain side that I 
haven't seen since the first August of the 
war, and dropped down on the grass outside 
It, too tired even to be able to thank God that 
1 had got home. 

Here I am once more, come back alone 
to the house that used to be so full of happy 
life that its little wooden sides nearly burst 
with the sound of it. I never could have 
dreamed that I would come back to it 
alone. Five years ago, how rich I was in 
love; now how poor, how stripped of all 
1 had. Well, it doesn't matter. Nothin- 
matters I'm too tired. I want to be quiet 
now. Till I'm not so tired. If only I can 
be quiet. . . . 



* IN THE MOUNTAINS 

July aSrd. 

. Yesterday aU day long I lay on the grass 
in front of the door and watched the white 
clouds slowly passing one after the other at 
long lazy intervals over the tops of the 
delphmmms-the row of delphiniums I 
planted all those years ago. I didn't think 
of aiiything; I just lay there in the hot sun. 
blinking up and counting the intervals be- 
tween one spike being reached and the next 
1 was conscious of the colour of the del- 
phinmms jabbing up stark into the sky, and 
of how blue they were; and yet not so blue, 
«) deeply and radiantly blue, as the sky 
Behmd them was the great basin of spa^ 
filled with that other blue of the air, Lt 
lovely blue with violet shades in it; for the 
mountaii. I am on drops sharply away from 
the edge of my tmy terrace-garden, and the 
whole of the space between it and the moun- 

!^n7vT°f t '"T "" ^^y '°°8 '^ith blue 
and violet light. At night the bottom of the 

valley looks like water, and the lamps in the 
little town lymg along it like quivermg re- 
flections of the stars. 

I wonder why I write about these things. 
As If I didnt know them! Why do I tell 
myself in writing what I already so well 



IN THE MOUNTALVS 5 

^T/u ?""'* ? ^""^ »*'°"* t''^ mountain, 
and the brimming cup of blue light? It is 

because. I suppose, it's lonely to stay inside 
oneself One has to comr out and talk. 
And If there is no one to talk to one imagines 
someone-as though one wer* writing a 
letter to somebody who loves one, and who 
wiU want to know, with the sweet eagerness 
and solicitude of love, what one does and what 
the place one is in looks like. It makes one 
feel less lonely to think like this-to write it 
down as if to one's friend who cares. For 
Im afraid of loneliness; shiveringly, terribly 
afraid. I don't mean the ordinaiy physical 
loneliness, for here I am, deliberately trav- 
elled away from London to get to it. to its 
spaciousness and healing. I mean that awful 
onehness of spirit that is the ultimate 
tragedy of life. When you've got to that, 
really reached it. without hope, without 
escape, you die. You just can't bear It, and 
you die. ' 



July Sith. 

It's queer the urge one has to express 
oneself, to get one's self into words If I 
weren't alone I wouldn't write, of course. I 
would talk. But nearly everything I wanted 



6 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

to say would be things I couldn't say. N„t 
unless It was to some wonderful, perfect, 
all-understandmg listener-the sort one used 
to imagine God was in the days when one 
said prayers. Not quite like God though, 
either for this listener would sometimes say 
something kind and genUe. and sometimes 
stroke one s hand a little to show that he 
understood. Physically, it is most blessed 
to be alone. After all that has happened, it 
IS most blessed. Perhaps I shall grow well 
here, alone. Perhaps just sitting on these 
honey-scented grass slopes will gradually 
heal me I'll sit and hck my wounds. I do 
so dreadfully want to get mended! I do so 
dreadfully want to get back to confidence in 
goodness. 

Jvly iSth. 

K - three days now IVe done nothing but 
lie m the sun. except when meals are put in 
the open doorway for me. Then I get ud 
reluctantly, like some sleepy animal, and go 
and eat them and come out again. 

In the evening it is too cold and dewy here 
for the grass so I drag a deep chair into the 
doorway and sit and stare at the darken- 
ing sky and the brightening stars. At ten 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 7 

o'clock Antoine, the man of all work who has 
looked after the house in its years of silence 
dunng the war, shuts up everything except 
this door and withdraws to his own room and 
his wife; and presently I go in, too, bolting 
the door behind me, though there is nothing 
really to shut out except the great night, and 
1 creep upstairs and fall asleep the minute 
1 m m bed. Indeed, I don't think I'm much 
more awake in the day than in the night 
I m so tired that I want to sleep and sleep; 
tor years and years; for ever and ever. 

There was no unpacking to do. Everything 
was here as I left it five years ago. We only 
took, five years ago, what each could carry 
waving good-bye to the house at the bend of 
the path and calling to it as the German 
soldiers called to their disappearing homes. 
Back for Christmas ! " So that I came again 
to it with only what I could carry, and had 
nothing to unpack. All I had to do was to 
drop my little bag on the first chair I found 
and myself on to the grass, and in that posi- 
tion we both stayed till bedtime. 

Antoine is surprised at nothing. He usedn't 
to be surprised at my gaiety, which yet might 
well have seemed to him, accustomed to the 
sobriety of the peasant women here, excessive- 



8 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



and nor ,s he now surprised at my silence He 
ha. made a few inquiries as to the heahh and 
whereabouts of the other members of Zt 
confident group that waved good-byes fiS 

answer, at nearly every name, was "Dead " 
He has married since I went a;ay, and hasn't 

had and he doesn't seem sun>rised at that, 
either. lam. I imagined the house, while 

to hmk that when I came back I would find 
httle Swiss babie* scattered all over if for 
after all, there quite well might have b^n 
ten. supposing Antoine had happened to r^s" 
sess a natural facility in twins. ^ 

July mh. 

The silence here is astonishing. There are 

sotrtrf''^- ^''--harllyany^i^d" 
so that the leaves are very still and the grass 
scarcely st.rs.. The crickets are busy.Tnd 

tunng higher up on the mountains floats 



7. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 9 

streets, drooped heavy with wet in what miRlit 
have been November air, it was so dank and 
gloomy. I was prepared to arrive here in 
one of the mountain mists that settle down on 
one sometimes for days-vast wet stretches 
of ^ay stuff hke some cold, sodden blanket 
mufflmg one away from the mountains op- 
posite, and the valley, and the sun. Instead 
I found summer: beautiful clear summer, 
fresh and warm together as only summer up 
on these honey-scented slopes can be, with 
the peasants beginning to cut the grass-for 
things happen a month later here than down 
in the valley, and if you climb higher you can 
catch up June, and by dimbing higher and 
higher you can climb, if you want to, right 
back into the spring. But you don't want to 
If you re me. You don't want to do any- 
thing but stay quiet whei« you are. 

Jtdy 9,7th. 

If only I don't think-if only I don't think 
and remember-how can I not get well again 
here in the beauty and the gentleness? 
Ihere s all next month, and September, and 
perhaps October, too, may be warm and golden. 
After that I must go back, because the 
weather in this high place while it is changing 



10 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

from the calms of autumn to the calms of 
the exquisite alpine winter is a disagreea- 
ble, dauntmg thing. But I have two whole 
months; perhaps three. Surely I'll be 
stronger, tougher, by then? Surely Fll at 
least be better? I couldn't face the winter 
m London if this desperate darkness and 
distrust of life is still in my soul. I don't 
want to talk about my soul. I hate to 
But what else am I to call the innermost Me, 
the thing that has had such wounds, that is 
so much hurt and has grown so dim that I'm 
m terror lest it should give up and go under, 
go quite out, and leave me alone in the dark? 

July StBth, 

It is dreadful to be so much like Job. 
Like him I've been extraordinarily stripped 
of all that made life lovely. Like him I've 
lost, in a time that is very short to have been 
packed so full of disasters, nearly eveiything 
1 loved. And it wasn't only the war. The 
war passed over me, as it did over eveiybody 
like some awful cyclone, flattening out hope 
and fruitfulness, leaving blood and ruins 
behind It; but it wasn't only that. In the 
losses of the war, in the anguish of losing one's 
fnends, there was the grisly comfort of 



J 



I u 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



n 

companionship in grief; but beyond and 
b^de, that We has been devastat^ for me 
I do fee IJce Job. and I can't bear it. It is so 
bumihatrng. bemg so much stricken. I feel 
ridiculous as well as wretched; as if some- 

And still. like Job. I cling on to what I can 
of trust m goodness, for if I let that go I 
know there would be nothing left but death. 

July 29th. 

Oh, what is all this talk of death? To-dav 
I suddenly noticed that each day since I've 
been here what IVe written down has been a 
whine, and that each r' ,v while I whined I 
was in fact being wrap; ound b.v beautiful 
things, as safe and as ^-rfectly cared for 
reaUyas a baby fortunate enough to have been 
bom into the right sort of family. Oughtn't 
1 to be ashamed? Of course I ought; and 
fo I ara For. looking at the hours, each 
hour as I get to it, they are all good. Why 
should I spoil them, the ones I'm at now, by 
the vivid remembrance, the aching misery, 
ot those black ones behind me? Thev 
anyhow, are done with; and the ones I have 
got to now are plainly good. And as for Job 



1« IN THE MOIWTAINS 

who so much haunted me yesterday, I can't 
really be completely like him. for at TJLl 
I ve not yet had to take a polaherd IndS 
down somewhere and scrape. But perhaps 

ha^ to keep these days a wary eye on 
Mrs. Antoine, small and twenty-five, who 

suiti^^lf •".~°^«»i«»<=««. with a cZn 
su ted to her s.ze out of which she produces 
htUe pate of butter su-ted to my size eve^ 

at all for sale-Mrs. Antoine looked at me 
time, and catching my eye she smiled at me, 
Sn^'t^r' '' ''" -' ^-^«- ^'•e 

tl.5? *° "JT *^ ''^' •=■*?* ''bout softly on 
the t,ps of her toes as if she wer« afraid of 

usuarr.' '"'/ '"'' '""^^^ 't to be her 
usual fashion of moving and that it was 

natural to her to be silent; but to-day, Xr 

me with a dish m one hand and a plate in the 
other, and held forth at length with the 
utmost blitheness, like some caroUinr bla^ 
bird, about her sufferings, and the sufferings 



IN TIIE MOUNTAINS 13 

she described had ^nT'hm '"^'"«^ 
J-ca™m„«s;a„'d':^S,?fi^'r:^>-J 

"f *' '»"/«. oui—a y cmati un temps aii il 
aMujfier entiirernent an ban Dieu. ^'^ul 

July SOth. 

It's true that the worst nam Jc th^ 
berirify ««.»'o u • ^''^ P^*^ 's the remem- 
henng one s happiness when one is no longer 
happy, and perhaps it mav h^ ,-,. T ?^ 
that past miseries^nd b;^^^" "' 

^ort of ,3faction. Just%tr\rg ^^ 

must dispose one to rptmr^ *k 

years back. But this— tlZ . """' ^^'^ 

00 mh,e,3ly at the ve^ 'i^'o^^T ^J Kfe 
ever to be something that I will smile at? 

thirz'""""'";^ *^^* I -- «;*i 

think the remembrance of this year will 
always come like a knife cutting t\ u 

Jittle happiness I Zl ^ ^'^°"^'' ""^ 

ppmess 1 may manage to collect. 



M IN THE MOUNTAINS 

You see what has happened has taken away 
my faith in goodnes^l don't know who yJu 
are that I keep on wanting to tell things to 
but I must talk and tell you. Yes; that is 
what ,t has done; and the hurt goes too far 
down to be healed. Yet I know time is a 
queer wholesome thing. IVe lived long 
enough to have found that out. It is verv 
sanitary. It cleans up eve^rthing. It never 
fails to stenhze and purify. Quite possibly 
I shall end by being a wise old lady who 
discourses with the utmost sprightliness. 
after her regular meals, on her past agonies, 
and extracts much agreeable entertainment 
ftom them, even is amusing about them. 
You see. they will be so far away, so safely 
done with; never, anyhow, going to happen 
again. Why of course in time, in years and 
years, ones troubles must end by beine 
entertaining. But I don't believe, however 
old I am and however wisely hilarious, I 
sha 1 ever be able to avoid the stab in the 
back, the clutch of pain at the heart, that the 
remembrance of beautiful past happiness 
gives one. Lost. Lost. Gone. Anil one 
IS still ahve, and still gets up carefully every 
day. and buttons all one's buttons, and goes 
down to breakfast. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 15 

July 31st. 

Once I knew a bishop rather intimately— 
oh, nothing that wasn't most creditable to us 
both—and he said to me, "Dear child, you 
will always be happy if you are good." 

I'm afraid he couldn't have been quite 
candid, or else he was very inexperienced, 
for I have never been so terribly good in 
the bishop's sense as these last three years— 
t rning my back on every private wish, 
dreadfully unselfish, devoted, a perfect mon- 
ster of goodness. And unhappiness went 
with me every step of the way. 

I much prefer what someone else said to 
me (not a bishop but yet wise), to whom I 
commented once on the really extraordinary 
bubbling happiness that used to wake up with 
me every morning, the amazing jo:y .f each day 
as It came, the warm, flooding gratitude that 
I should be so happy— this was before the war. 
He said, beginning also like the bishop but, 
unlike him, failing in delicacy at the end, 
Dear child, it is because you have a sound 
stomach." 



August 1st. 

The last first of August I was here was the 
1914 one. It was just such a day as this- 



1« IN THE MOUNTAINS 

blue, hot, glorious of colour and light. We 
m this house cut off in our lemoteness from 
the noise and excitement of a world setting 
out with ones of enthusiasm on its path of 
smcide, cut off by distance and steepness even 
from the vaUey where the dusty Swiss 
soldiers were collecting and every sort of 
rumour ran like flames, went as usual through 
pur pleasant day, reading, talking, elamber- 
mg in the pine-woods, eating romantic meals 
out m the httle garden that hangs like a 
fringe of flowers along the edge of the rock 
uncon«;ious, serene, confident in life. Just 
as to-day the delphiniums stood brUliantly 
blue, straight, and moUonless on this edge, 
and It might have been the veiy same purple 
pansies crowding at their feet. Nobody came 
to tell us anything. We were lapped in 
peace. Of course even up here there had 
been the slight ruflie of the Archduke's 
murder in June, and the slight wonder 
toward the end of July as to what would 
come of It: but the ruffle and the wonder 
di«i away m what seemed the solid, ever- 
endunng comfortableness of life. Such com- 
fortableness went too deep, was too much 
setUed, too heavy, to make it thinkable that 
It should ever really be disturbed. There 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 17 

would be quarrels, but they would be local- 
ized. Why, the mere feeding of the vast 
modern armies would etc., etc. We were 
very innocent and trustful in those days. 
Looking back at it, it is so pathetic as to be 
almost worthy of tears. 

Well, I don't want to remember all that. 
One turns with a sick weariness from the 
recollection. At least one is thankful that 
we're at Now and not at Then. This first 
of August has the great advantage of having 
all that was coming after that first of August 
behmd it instead of ahead of it. At least on 
this first of August most of the killing, of the 
slaughtering of young bodies and bright 
hopes, has left off. The worid is very horrible 
still, but nothing can ever be so horrible as 
killing. 

August 2nd. 

The only thing to do with one's old sorrows 
is to tuck them up neatly in their shroud and 
turn one's face away from their grave toward 
what is coming next. 

That is what I am going to do. To-day I 
have the kind of feelings that take hold of 
convalescents. I hardly dare hope it, but 
I have done things to-day that do seem 



18 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

convalescent; done them and liked doing 
*-hem; things that I haven't tUl to-day had 
the faintest desire to do. 

IVe been for a walk. And a quite good 
walk, up in the forest where the water tumbles 
over rocks and the air is full of resin. And 
then when I got home I burrowed about 
among my books, arranging their volumes 
and loving the feel of them. It is more than 
ten days smee I got here, and till to-day I 
haven t moved; till to-day IVe lain about 
with no wish to move, with no wish at all 
except to have no wish. Once or twice I 
have been ashamed of myself; and once or 
twice mto the sleepy twilight of my mind has 
come a httle flicker of suspicion that perhaps 
life still, after all, may be beautiful, that it 
may perhaps, after all, be just as beautiful 
as ever if only I will open my eyes and look. 
«ut the flicker has soon gone out again, 
damped out by the vault-like atmosphere of 
the place it had got into. 

Jj'^X ^..^ ^^^ different; and oh, how 
glad I d be if I could be glad ! I don't believe 
there was ever anybody who loved being 
happy as much as I did. What I mean is 
that I was so acutely conscious of being 
happy, so appreciative of it; that I wasn't 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



19 



ever bored, and was always and continuously 
grateful for the whole delicious loveliness of 
the world. 

I think it must be unusual never to have 
been bored. I realize this when I hear other 
people talk. Certainly I*m never bored as 
people sometimes appear to be by being 
alone, by the absence of amusement from 
without; and as for bores, persons who 
obviously were bores, they didn't bore me, 
they interested me. It was so wonderful to 
me, their unawareness that they were bores. 
Besides, they were usually very kind; and 
also, shameful though it is to confess, bores 
like me, and I am touched by being liked, 
even by a bore. Sometimes it is true I have 
had to take temporary refuge in doing what 
Dr. Johnson found so convenient — ^with- 
drawing my attention, but this is dangerous 
because of the inevitable accompanying 
glazed and wandering eye. Still, much can 
be done by practice in combining coherency 
of response with private separate meditation. 
Just before I left London I met a man whose 
fate it has been for years to sit daily in the 
Law Courts delivering judgments, and he 
told me that he took a volume of poetry 
with him— preferably Wordsworth— and read 



«0 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

ilil ? V"^ °P*" *'" "'' •"«» under the 
tZ » u- *?** refreshment and invigora- 
t^n of h.s soul: and yet, so skilled had he 
become m the pmctice of two attentivenesses. 
he never missed a word that was said or a 
pom that was made. There are indeed nice 
people m the world. I did like that ma^ 

do^T »r^ " ^^ ""'' P'**^"* thing to 
do^ to lay the dust of those sad places, where 
people who once liked eacn other go becau^ 
ttey are angry, with the gentle waters of 
poetiy. I am sure that man is the sort of 
husband whose wife's heart gives a jump of 
gladness each time he comes home. 

August 3rd. 

These burning August days, when I live in 
so great a gloo^ of jjght and colour that it is 
like Imng ,n the glowing heart of a jewel 
how .mpossible it is^to keep from gratitude 
I m so grateful to be here, to have here to 
come to. Really I think I'm beginning to 
feel different-remote from the old. unhappy 
things that were strangling me dead; restored; 
almost as though I might really some day be 
in tmie again There's a moon now. and in 
the evenings I get into a coat and lie in the 
low chair m the doorway watching it. and 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 21 

sometimes I forget for as long as a whole 
half hour that the happiness I believed in is 
gone for ever. I love sitting there and feeling 
little gusts of scent cross my face every now 
and then, as if someone had patted it softly 
in passing by. Sometimes it is the scent of 
the cut grass that has been baking all day in 
the sun, but most often it is the scent from a 
group of Madonna lilies just outside the door, 
planted by Antoine in one of the Septembers 
of the war. 

**Cest ma maman qui me les a donnes,** he 
said; and when I had done expressing my 
joy at their beauty and their fragrance, and 
my appreciation of his maman' s conduct in 
having made my garden so lovely a present, 
he said that she had given them in order that,' 
by brewing their leaves and applying the 
resulting concoction at the right moment, 
he and Mrs. Antoine might be cured of sup- 
purating wounds. 

"But you haven't got any suppurating 
wounds," I said, astonished and disillusioned. 

"Ah, pour ca non" said Antoine. ''Mais U 
Tiefaut pas attendre qu'on les a pour se procurer 
le remade.'* 

Well J if he approaches every future con- 
tingency with the same prudence he must be 



22 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

kept very busy; but the long winters of the 
war up here have developed in him. I suppo^ 
a Swiss Family Robinson-like ingenuUVof 
preparation for eventualities 

What lovely long words IVe just been writ- 
ing. I can t be as convalescent as I thought 
In. sure real vigour is brief. You don't say 
Damn if your vitality is low; you trail among 
querulous, water-blooded word., like regret- 
table and unfortunate. But I think, perhaps 
being m my top layers veiy adaptable, it was* 
really the elderly books I've been reading The 
last day or two that made me arrange my 
language along their lines. Not old book J- 
elderly_ Wntten in the great Victorian age, 
when the emotions draped themselves chastely 
of IZ^' "'"^^'^ ^^ ""•" simplicities 
There is the oddest lot of books in this house, 
pitchforked together by circumstances, and 
sometimes their accidental rearrangement by 
Antoine after cleaning their shelves each 
spring of my absence would make their writers. 
If they could know, curdle between their own 
covers. Some are standing on their heads- 
Antome has no prejudices about the right side 
up of an autho^-most of those in sets have 
their volumes wrong, and yesterday I found a 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 23 

Henry James, lost from the rest of him. lost 
even, it looked like, to propriety, held tight 
between two ladies. The ladies were Ouida 
and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. They would hardly 
let him go, they had got him so tight. I 
pulled him out, a little damaged, and restored 
him, ruffled in spite of my careful smoothing, 
to his proper place. It was the "Son and Bro- 
ther"; and there he had been for months, per- 
haps years, being hugged. Dreadful. 

When I come down to breakfast, and find 
I am a little ahead of the cafe an hit, I wander 
into the place that has most books in it— 
though indeed books are in every place, and 
have even oozed along the passages— and 
fill up the time till Mrs. Antoine calls me in 
rescue work of an urgent nature. But it is 
impossible, I find, to tidy books without 
ending by sitting on the floor in the middle 
of a great untidiness and reading. The 
coffee grows cold and the egg repulsive, but 
still I read. You open a book idly, and you 
see; 

The most glaring anomalies seemed to afford 
them no intellectual inconvenience, neither 
would they listen to any arguments as to the 
waste of money and happiness which their folly 
caused them. I was allowed almost to call them 



«4 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

life-long self ^deceivers to their facet, and they 

said it wa» quite true, but that it did not matter. 
Naturally then you read on. 
You open another book idly, and you see- 
Our admiration cf King Alfred is greaUy 

increased by the fact that we know very little 

about him. 

Naturally then you read on. 
You open another book idly, and you see: 
Organic life, we are told, has developed 
graduaUyfrom the protozoon to the philosopher, 
and this development, we are assured, is in- 
dubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is 
the phUosoplier, not the protozoon, who gives 
us this assurance. 
Naturally then you read on. 
You open~but I could go on all da> li^ic 
this, as I do go on being caught among the 
books, and only the distant anxious chirps of 
Mrs. Antoine, who comes round to the front 
door^ to clear away breakfast and finds it 
hasn't been begun, can extricate me. 

Perhaps I had better not get arranging 
books before breakfast. It is too likely to 
worry that bird-like Mrs. Antoine, who is 
afraid, I daresay, that if I don't drink my 
coflFee while it is hot I may relapse into that 
comatose condition that filled her evidently 



,i 



!i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 95 

with much uneasiness and awe. She hadn't 
expected, I suppos*». the mistress of the house, 
when she did at last get back to it, to behave 
like some strange alien slug, crawled up tlie 
mountain only to lie motionless in the sun for 
the best part of a fortnight. I heard her, 
after the first two days of this conduct* 
explaining it to Antoine, who, however, needed 
no explanation because of his god-lil:e habit 
of never being surprised, and her explanation 
was that c'etait la guerre— xxynvenient ex- 
planation that has been used to excuse many 
more unnatural and horrible things during 
the last five years than somebody's behaving 
as if she were a slug. 

But, really, the accidental juxtapositions 
on my bookshelves ! Just now I found George 
Moore (his "Memories of my Dead Life," with 
its delicate unmoralities, its delicious pag- 
anism) with on one side of him a book called 
**Bruey:aLittle Worker for Christ," by Frances 
Ridley Havergal, and on the other an Ameri- 
can book called "The Unselfishness of God, 
and How I Discovered It." 

The surprise of finding these three with 
their arms, as it were, round each other's 
necks, got me nearer to laughter than I ha - 
been for months. If anybody had been with 



A^5^ 



26 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

me I would have laughed. Is it possible that 
1 am so far on to-day in convalescence that 
1 begin to want a companion? Somebody 
to laugh with? Why, if that is so . . 
But I'd best not be too hopeful. 

August Uh. 

This day five years ago! What a thrill 
went through us up here, how proud we felt 
of England, of belonging to England; proud 
with that extraordinary intensified patriotism 
that lays hold of those who are not in their 
own country. 

It is very like the renewal of affection, the 
re-flammg up of love, for the absent. The 
really wise are often absent; though, indeed, 
their absenc^ should be arranged judiciously. 
Too much absence is very nearly as bad as 

r ,J T°°' "°* ^"y ^e-y nearly; I 
should rather say too much has its draw- 
backs, too, though only at first. Persisted in 
these drawbacks turn into merits; for doesn't 
absence, prolonged enough, lead in the end 
to freedom? I suppose, however, for most 
people complete freedom is too lonely a thing, 
therefore the absence should only be just 
long enough to make room for one to see cl«ar 
agam. Just a little withdrawal every row 



(I 



II 

: t 

s 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 27 

and then, just a little, so as to get a good 
view once more of those dear qualities we 
first loved, so as to be able to see that thevVe 
still there, tili shinina. 

How car you see nything if your nose is 
right up against it? I know when we were 
m England, enveloped in her life at close 
quarters, bewildered by the daily din of the 
newspapers, stunned by the cries of the 
politicians, distracted by the denouncements 
accusations, revilings with which the air was 
convulsed, and acutely aware of the back- 
ground of sad, drizzling rain on the pavements, 
and of places like Cromwell Road and Shaftes- 
bury Avenue and Ashley Gardens being there 
all the time, never different, great ugly 
houses with the rain dripping on them, 
gloomy, temporary lodgings for successive 
processions of the noisy dead— I know when 
we were in the middle of all this, right up 
tight against it, we couldn't see, and so we for- 
got the side of England that was great. 

But when she went to war we were not 
there; we had been out of her for months 
and she had got focussed again patriotically! 
Again she was the precious stone set in a 
Sliver sea, the other Eden, demi-Paradise, 
the England my England, the splendid thincr 



28 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

that had made splendid poets, the hope and 
heart of the world. Long before she had 
buckled on her sword— how easily one drops 
into the old language!— long before there 
was any talk of war, just by sheer being away 
from her we had re-acquired that peculiar ag- 
gressive strut of the spirit that is patriotism. 
We liked the Swiss, we esteemed them- 
and when we crossed into Italy we liked the' 
Italians, too, though esteeming them less— 
I think because the> seemed less thrifty and 
enjoyed themselves more, and we were still 
sealed up in the old opinion that undis- 
criminatmg, joyless thrift was virtuous. But 
though we liked and esteemed these people 
It was from a height. At the back of our 
minds we always felt superior, at the back of 
our minds we were strutting. Every day of 
further absence from England, our England, 
increased that delicious subconscious smug- 
ness.^^ Then when on the 4th of August 
she came in," came in gloriously because 
of her word to Belgium, really this little 
house contained so much enthusiasm and 
pride that it almost could be heard crack- 
ing. 

What shall we do when we all get to heaven 
and aren't allowed to have any patriotism? 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 29 

There, surely, we shall at last be forced into 
one vast family. But I imagine that every 
time God isn't looking the original patriotism 
of each will break out, right along throughout 
eternity; and some miserable English tramp, 
who has only been let into heaven because' 
he positively wasn't man enough for hell, 
will seize his opportunity to hiss at a neat 
Swiss business man from Berne, whose life on 
earth was blamelessly spent in the production 
of cuckoo-clocks, and whose mechanical- 
ingenuity was such that he even, so ran the 
heavenly rumours among the mild, astonished 
angels, had propagated his family by ma- 
chinery, that he, the tramp, is a b— Briton, 
and if he, the b—b—b— Swiss (I believe 
tramps always talk in b's; anyhow news- 
papers and books say they do), doubts it, 
he'd b— well, better come outside and he, 
the tramp, will b — well, soon show him. 

To which the neat Berne gentleman, on 
other subjects so completely pervaded by the 
local heavenly calm, will answer with a 
sudden furious mechanical buzzing, much 
worse and much more cowing to the tramp 
than any swear-words, and passionately up- 
hold the might and majesty of Switzerland 
in a prolonged, terrific whrmr. 



I 



SO IN THE MOUNTAINS 

August 6tit. 

I want to talk. I must be better. 
August 6th. 

same old wretchedness goins o^ J t 

outside it-^niPlfv rJ i ^ *^ "^"^^ 

^o , '**' "^'^elty, people wantonly makina 

be.a^a.o5t..tbatjst:e£ke^^.X": 

see these well-known LIT^^ ""f^ 
about in the v2y^Uw TT^''^''^ 
tumbling about together in T TT'^'f ^'^ 
But at least ^ere'^^^t i::^'^^^:'^'- 

jtoanLrtra^rt^:°-tL^z 

ana leave it there and say, "Good-bye. I'm 



«* 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 31 

separate. I've cut the umbilical cord. Good- 
bye, old misery. Now for what comes next " 
I can't believe this won't happen. I can't 
believe I won't go back down the mountain 
different from what I was when I came 
Lighter, anyhow, and more wholesome in- 
side Oh, I do so want to be wholesome 
mside again! Nicely aired, sunshinv; 
mstead of aU dark, and stuffed up with black 
memories. 

August 7th. 

But I am getting on. Every morning now 
when I wake and see the patch of bright 
sunshme on the wall at the foot of my bed 
that means another perfect day, my heart 
goes out m an eager prayer that I may not 
disgrace so great a blessing by private gloom. 
And I do thmk each of these last days has 
been a httle less disgraced than its yesterday. 
Hardly a smudge, for instance, has touched 
any part of this afternoon. I have felt a^ 
though indeed I were at last sitting up and 
taking notice. And the first thing I want to 
do, the first use I want to make of having 
turned the corner, is to talk. 

How feminine. But I love to talk. Agam 
how femmme. Well, I also love to listen. 



I 



32 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

But chiefly I love to listen to a man; there- 
fore, once more, how feminine. Well I'm 
a woman, so naturally Fm feminine;' and 
a man does seem to have more to say that 
one wants to hear than a woman. I do wan 

for so long a tune, and not so often. Not 
nearly so often. What reason to ^ve foJ 
h.s reluctance I don't quite know.^e^Jjt 
that a woman when she talks seems usua% 
to have forgotten the salt. Also she is aol 
to go on talking; sometimes for quite a little 
whUe after you have begun to wi^h she would 

One of the last people who stayed here 
w.th me alone in 1914, just before the ar! 
nval of the gay holiday group of the final 
days, was a woman of many gifts-fe trop eH 
lennem du 6ien-who started, the JoL 
bemg full of these gifts and having eloqS 
to et them out, talking at the stotioX the 
valley where I met her, and didn't, to Ly 
growmg amazement and chagrin, for I, too 
wanted to say something, leave off (™ 
wh^ mght wrapped her up in blessed sS 
tUl ten days afterwards, when by the mercy 
of pro,n,de„ce she swallowed a c umb wrong! 
and so had to stop. ^ 



<ti 






IN THE MOUNTAINS S3 

How eagerly, released for a moment, I 
rushed in with as much as I could get out 
during the brief time I knew she would take 
to recover! But my voice, hoarse with dis- 
use, had hardly said three sentences— miser- 
able little short ones— when she did recover, 
and fixing impatient and reproachful eyes on 
me said: 

"Do you always talk so much?" 
Surely that was unjust? 

August Sth. 

Now see what Henry James wrote to me — 
to me a you please! I can't get over it, 
such a feather m my cap. Why, I had 
a 'most forgotten I had a cap to have a feather 
in, so profound has been my humbling since 
last I was here. 

In the odd, fairy-tale like way I keep on 
finding bits of the past, of years ago, as 
though they were still of the present, even of 
the last half hour, I found the letter this 
morning in a room I wandered into after 
breakfast. It is the only room downstairs 
besides the hall, and I used to take refuge in 
it from the other gay inhabitants of the house 
so as to open and answer letters somewhere 
not too distractingly full of cheerful talk; 



34 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



and there on the table, spotlessly kent clean 
by Antoine but else not touched. wS all the 

exactly as I must have left them. Even 
some chocolate I had apparently been eatiT 
and some pennies, and a handful of ciKarettef 
and actually a box of matches-it "^"ll 
there all beautifully dusted. aU as ^tj^ 

«Tu !f" T^'° ^^ ^ «»* there at the tTwe 
If .t hadn't been for the silence, the compete 
sunny emptiness and silence of the house I 
would certainly have thought I had o2 ^„ 
asleep and having a bad dream, and £t no? 
five yeara but one uneasy night had gone 
«nce Imbbled that chocolate a^d wrote ^h 

Fascinated and curious I sat down and 
began eatmg the chocolate again, ft was 
qmte good; made of good, lasting stuff in 

thJ„^t \ "^""'^ ^ «'« >t I turned over 

the piles of papers, and there at the bottom of 
them was a letter from Henry James. 

I e^H^t I kept it near me on the table 
because I so much loved it and wanted to 
re-read it, and wanted, I daresay, at fatervJs 
proudly to show it to my friends and mike 
them envious, for it was written at Christmas 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 35 

1913; months before I left for England. 

Heading it now my feeling is just astonish- 

ment that I, / should ever have had such a 

letter. But then I am greatly humbled; 

1 have been on the rocks; and can»t believe 

that such a c-oUection of broken bits as I am 

now coulc ever have been a trim bark with 

all Its htUe sails puffed out by the kindliness 

and affection of anybody as wonderful as 

Henry James. 

Here it is; and it isn't any more vain of 
me now in my lamed and bruised condition 
to copy It out and hang on its charming com- 
pliments than it is vain for a woman who 
once was lovely and is now grown old to talk 
about how pretty she used to be: 

21 Carlyle Mansions, 
Cheyne Walk, S. W., 
December 29th, 1913. 

Dear — 

Let me tell you that I simply delight in 
your beautiful and generous and gracious 
Jittle letter, and that there isn't a single 
honeyed word of it that doesn't give me 
the most exquisite pleasure. You fill the 
measure-and how can I tell you how I like 
the measure to be filled.^ None of your 



3« IN THE MOUNTAINS 

quarter-bushels or half-bushels for my insati- 
aWe appetite, but the overflowing Wp 

grains a„d;.t\HetXTn?T^- 

a let^ha^'aiJ'' ^'"'^'ngest'.s; flol:^^ 
a iettei--handed me straight out of vn..r 

J^tinJTth '\ "^t «>»dHio„s-beS 
growing with such diligence and eleijance all 
sorts of other lovely kinds, has fofhrex 
Planation of course only that you hive such 
a regular teeming garden of a mind Yot 
^ust mamly inhabit it. of course^with ylur 
other courts of exercise so grand, if you wiS 
but so grim Well, you hfve cIuL^ L o 
revel in pr.de and joy-for I assure you that 

r^Z If thr" ^""'f ''"' """^ thot the 
rtvelry of the season here itself has been so 

far from engulfing me that till your wSn^ 

tam of lonely bleakness socially and sen 
suously speaking alike-veiy much hke one" 
of those that group themselves, as I suppoT 

Xmastide mm, and am your all a,„f 7^ 
and^faithful and aU unforSg'^l'Sr;' 



'1. 



IS 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 37 

Who wouldn't be proud of getting a letter 
like that? It was wonderful to come across 
It again, wonderful how my chin went up in 
the air and how straight I sat up for a bit 
after reading it. And I laughed, too; for 
with what an unbuttoned exuberance must 
I have engulfed him! "Spilling all over the 
place." I can quite believe it. I had, I 
suppose, been reading or re-reading some- 
thing of his, and had been swept off sobriety 
of expression by delight, and in that condition 
of emotional unsteadiness and molten appre- 
ciation must have rushed impetuously to the 
nearest pen. 

How warmly, with what grateful love, one 
thinks of Henry James. How difficult to 
imagine any one riper in wisdom, in kindliness, 
in wit; greater of affection; more generous 
of friendship. And his talk, bis wonderful 
talk—even more wonderful than his books 
If only he had been a Boswell ! I did ask him 
one day, in a courageous after-dinner mood, 
if he wouldn't take me on as his Boswell; a 
Boswell so deeply devoted that perhaps 
qualifications for the post would grow through 
sheer admiration. I told him— my coura- 
geous levity was not greater on that occasion 
than his patience— that I would disguise 



I'f 



« IN THE MOUNTAINS 

myself as a man; or. bcttw .»ili _ . i . 

learn shorthand and do anything in U.e worid 

AndV •'^'™"^ r' "* "•«>"" have 3 

witj much working aS o?LttSt " 
mobJe mouth, delivering his verdict SZ 
weight of pretended self^epreciation intended 
to crush me speechless -which it d d for 
nearly a whole second-was- "D^«, l°j -f 
would be like the slow s:u^-^n^Z ^'^X 
empty sponge." * '^'^ 

^Mfl'w*^ 9th. 

sidfof "S ''""'^? .''°r' '="°«^"« »» to the 
rather h! T**"" ^^ '*^ "y^'o^hes. or 
rather by its eyebrows, for it has enom^oul 
eaves to protect it f:«m being smotS"? 

ZSAXwM'""'^ 4"^ "^^^ 

8 *g eyeorows— IS so much cramped un 

he e7"onh*""V°" V"** ^''^ «-d- along 
ha^^e^cht!''^ ""' '^" * -"^^ «^^' «- « 



i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 39 

It is a strip of grass, tended with devotion 
by Antoine, whose pride it is that it should be 
green when all the other grass on the slopes 
round us up the mountain and down the 
mountain are parched pale gold; which 
leads him to spend most of his evening hours 
watering it. There is a low wall along the 
edge to keep one from tumbling over, for if 
one did tumble over it wouldn't be nice for 
the people walking about in the valley five 
thousand feet below, and along this wall is 
the narrow ribbon of the only flowers that 
will put up with us. 

They aren't many. There are the del- 
phmmms, and some pansies and some pinks, 
and a great many purple irises. The irises 
were just over when I first got here, but 
judging from the crowds of flower-stalks 
they must have been very beautiful. There 
is only one flower left; exquisite and velvety 
and sun-warmed to kiss— which I do dili- 
gently, for one must kiss something— and 
with that adorable honey-smell that is the 
very smell of summer. 

That's all in the garden. It isn't much, 
written down, but you should just see it. 
Uh, yes-I forgot. Round the comer, scram- 
blmg up the wall that protects the house in 



40 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

rJ^rr''' T-M? ^""^ ''^»'»n<=he«. are crimson 
ramblers brilliant against the intense blue 
of the sky Crimson ramblers are, I know, 
ordmaiy things, but you should just se^ 
them. It IS the colour of the sky that makes 
them so astonishing here. Yes-and I forgot 
the hhes that Antoine's rmman gave him. 
They are near the front door, and next to 
them IS a patch of lavender in fuU flower now, 
and aU day long on each of its spikes is poised 
miraculously somethmg that looks like Tunv 
mdiant angel, but that flutters up into the 
sun when I go near and is a white butterfly, 
^oine must have put in the lavender. It 
used not to be there. But I don't ask him 
because of what he might tell me it is really 
for, and I couldn't bear to have that patoh 
of sheer loveliness, with the little shining 
things hovering over it, explained as a remil 
for something horrid. 

If I could paint I would sit all day and 
pamt; as I can't I try to get down on pa^r 
what I see. It gives me pleasure. It is 
♦Tt 7 5?°'P«''°''abIe- I wouldn't, I 

probably exhaust myself and my friend point- 
ing out the beauty. 

The garden, it will be seen, as gardens go. 



lilif 



i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 41 

is pathetic in its smallness and want of 
variety. Possessors of English gardens, with 
those immense wonderful herbaceous borders 
and skilfully arranged processions of flowers, 
might conceivably sniff at it. Let them. I 
love it. And if it were smaller still, if it were 
shrunk to a single plant with a single flower on 
It, it would perhaps only enchant me the more, 
for then I would concentrate on that one 
beauty and not be distracted by the feeling 
that does distract me here, that while I am 
looking one way I am missing what is going 
on in other directions. Those beasts in 
Revelations— the ones full of eyes before and 
behind— I wish I had been constructed on 
liberal principles like that. 

But one really hardly wants a garden here 
where God does so much. It is like Italy in 
that way, and an old wooden box of pansies or 
a pot of lilies stuck anywhere, in a window, on 
the end of a wall, is enough— composing in- 
stanUy with what is so beautifully there al- 
ready, the light, the colour, the shapes of the 
mountains. Really, where God does it all 
for you just a yard or two arranged in your 
way is enough; enough to assert your inde- 
pendence, and to show a proper determina- 
tion to make something of your own. 



N . 



42 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

August 10th. 

I don't know when it is most beautiful up 
here— m the morning, when the heat lies 
along the valley m delicate mists, and the 
folded mountains, one behind the other 
grow dimmer and dunmer beyond sight' 
swooning away through tender gradations' 
of violets and grays, or at night when I look 
over the edge of the terrace and see the lights 
m the vaUey shimmering as though they were 
reflected in water. 

I seem to be seeing it now for the first time 
with new eyes. I know I used to see it when 
I was here before, used to feel it and rejoice 
in It, but it was entangled in other things 
then. It was only part of the many happinesses 
with which those days were fuU, claiming my 
attention and my thoughts. They claimed 
them wonderfuUy and hopefully it is true, 
but they took me much away from what I 
can only call for want of a better word— (a 
better word: what a thing to say!)— God 
Now those hopes and wonders, those other 
joys and lookings-forward and happy trusts 
are gone; and the wounds they left, the dread- 
ful sore places, are slowly going, too. And 
how I see beauty now is with the new sensi- 
tiveness, the new astonishment at it, of a per- 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 43 

son who for a long time has been having awful 
dreams, and one morning wakes up and the 
delirium is gone, and he lies in a state of the 
most exquisite glad thankfuhiess, the most 
extraordmary mmute appreciation of the dear, 
wonderful common things of life — ^just the 
sun shining on his counterpane, the scents 
from the garden coming in through his 
window, the very smell of the coffee being 
got ready for breakfast--oh, delight, delight 
to think one didn't die this time, that one 
isn't going to die this time after all, but is 
going to get better, going to live, going pres- 
ently to be quite well again and able to go 
back to one's friends, to the people who still 
love one. . . . 



August 11th. 

To-day is a saint's day. This is a Catholic 
part of Switzerland, and they have a great 
many holidays because they have a great 
many saints. There is hardly a week without 
some saint in it who has to be commemorated, 
and often there are two in the same week, and 
sometimes three. I know when we have 
reached another saint, for then the church 
bells of the nearest village begin to jangle, 
and go on doing it every two hours. WTien 



44 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

this happens the peasants leave oflF work, and 

tHe busy, saint-unencumbered Protestants 
get ahead. 

Mrs Antoine was a Catholic before she 
married, but the sagacious Antoine, who 
wasnt one, foreseeing days in most of his 
wed^s when she might, if he hadn't been 
quite kmd to her, or rather if she fancied he 
hadn t been quite kind to her-and the fancies 
of wives he had heard, were frequent and 
vivid-the sagacious Antoine, foreseeing 
these numerous holy days ahead of him on 
any of which Mrs. Antoine might explam 
as piety what was really pique and decline 
to cook his dmner, caused her to turn Prot- 
estant before the wedding. Which she did- 
conscious, as she told me, that she was getting 
a bon man qui valait Hen ga; and thus at one 
stroke Antoine secured his daily dinners 
throughout the year and rid himself of all 
his wife's relations. For they, consisting I 
gather principaUy of aunts, her father and 
mother being dead, were naturally displeased 
and won t know the Antoines; which is, I 
am told by those who have managed it the 
most refreshing thing in the world: tJ get 
your relations not to know you. So that not 
only does he live now in the blessed freedom 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 45 

and dignity that appears to be reserved for 
those whose relations are angry, but he has no 
priests about him either. Really Antome is 
very intelligent. 

And he has done other intelligent things 
while I have been away. For instance: 

When first I came here, two or three years 
before the war, I desired to keep the place 
free from the smells of farmyard. "There 
shaji be no cows," I said. 

*' Cest bien,'* said Antoine. 

"Nor any chickens." 

**Cest Men,'' said Antoine. 

"Neither shall there be any pigs." 

**Cest bien,** said Antoine. 

''Surtout:' I repeated, fancying I saw in his 
eye a kind of private piggy regret, ''pas de 
pores'' 

''Cest hien," said Antoine, the look fading. 

For most of my life up to then had been 
greatly infested by pigs; and though they 
were superior pigs, beautifully kept, housed 
and fed far better, shameful to relate, than 
the peasants of that place, on the days when 
the wind blew from where they were to where 
we were, clean them and air them as one 
might there did come blowing over us a 
great volume of unmistakeable pig. Eclips- 



46 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

ing the lilies. Smothering the roses. Also, 
on still days we could hear their voices, and 
the calm of many a summer evening was 
rent asunder by their squeals. There were 
an enormous number of little pigs, for in that 
part of the country it was unfortunately not 
the custom to eat sucking-pigs, which is such 
a convenient as well as agreeable way of 
keeping them quiet, and they squealed atro- 
ciously; out of sheer high spirits, I suppose, 
being pampered pigs and having no earthly 
reason to squeal except for joy. 

Remembering all this, I determined that 
up here at any rate we should be pure from 
pigs. And from cows, too; and from 
chickens. For did I not also remember 
things both cows and chickens had done to 
me? The hopes of a whole year in the 
garden had often been destroyed by one 
absent-minded, wandering cow; and though 
we did miracles with wire-netting and the 
conceahng of wire-netting by creepers, sooner 
or later a crowd of lustful hens, led by some 
great bully of a cock, got in and tore up 
the crocuses just at that early time of the 
year when, after an endless winter, crocuses 
seem the most precious and important things 
in the world. 






,3 

s 

i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 47 

Therefore this place had been kept carefully 
empty of live-stock, and we bought our eggs 
and our milk from the peasants, and didn't 
have any sausages, and the iris bulbs were 
not scratched up, and the air had nothing in 
it but smells of honey and hay in summer, 
and nothing in winter but the ineffable pure 
cold smell of what, again for want of a better 
word, I can only describe as God. But then 
the war came, and our hurried return to 
England; and instead of being back as we 
had thought for Christmas, we didn't come 
back at aU. Year after year went, Christmas 
after Christmas, and nobody came back. 
I suppose Antoine began at last to feel as if 
nobody ever would come back. I can't 
guess at what moment precisely in those 
years his thoughts began to put out feelers 
toward pigs, but he did at last consider it 
proper to regard my pre-war instructions as 
finally out of date, and gathered a suitable 
selection of live-stock about him. I expect 
he got to this stage fairly early, for having 
acquired a nice, round little wife he was 
determined, being a wise man, to keep her so. 
And having also an absentee patrone— that is 
the word that locally means me— absent, 
and therefore not able to be disturbed by 



48 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Uve-stock. he would keep her placid by 
keeping her unconscious. H«-a oy 

How simple, and how inteUigent 
In none of his monthly letters did the word 

agreeab y of the weather: cVtaA magnifique 
orcetaa bzen triste, according to the seZ, 
He wrote of the French and Belgian 7ck 
prisoners of war. interned in thoS nl^ 
TK about the mountains iTch'u'^^ 
to be the haunts of parUes catered for by 
l^unn. He wrote appreciatively of the use^ 
fulness ajjd good conduct of the watchX 

wi h S 'T""*' """^'' '''«««' than I am: 
with the lap-doggy name of Mou-Mou He 

tile whi...ers of the cat: favoris mperbes aui 

Tm; Hi °"! someUmes he expressed 
a httle disappomtment at the behaviour of 

/r<nrf* he always ended up soothingly: Po„r 
lamaison tout ta him. Madame i(u Z 
entwrement tranguiUe. '^ 

St Jr^' "^ '^""'' ''°" '^' ""^"t the live- 
So there in England was Madame being 



I IN THE MOUNTAINS 49 

eniUrement tranquille about her little house, 
I and glad indeed that she could be; for what- 

ever had happened to it or to the Antoines 
she wouldn't have been able to do anything. 
Tethered on the other side of the impassable 
bamer of war, if the house had caught fire 
she could only, over there in England, have 
wrung her hands; and if Mrs. Antoine's 
estomac had given out so completely that she 
and Antoine had had to abandon their post 
and take to the plains and doctors, she could 
only have sat still and cried. The soothing 
letters were her comfort for five years-— 
madanw pent etre entierement tranquille; how 
sweetly the words fell, month by month, on 
ears otherwise harassed and tormented! 

It wasn't till I had been here nearly a 
fortnight that I began to be aware of my 
breakfast. Surely it was very nice? Such 
a lot of milk; and every day a httle jug of 
cream. And surprising buttei--surprising 
not only because it was so very fresh but 
because it was there at all. I had been told 
m England that there was no butter to be got 
here, not an ounce to be bought from one end 
of Switzerland to the other. Well, there it 
was; fresh every day, and in a singular 
abundance. 



60 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Through the somnolence of my mind, of aU 
the outward objects surrounding me I thi^k 
.t was he butter that got in first; and my 
awakenmg mtelligence, after a ^^ricS Z 
slow feehng about and some relaps^, did at 

at the other end of that butter was a cow. 
Ihis, so far, was to be expected as the result 

w^rT ^r/^-I'-g-ntobeSd 
wiUi myself, and feel as if Paley's Evidences 
had marned Sherlock Holmes and I ZZZ 
bnght pledge of their loves. v.as Ten I 
proceeded from this, without movinff^m 
iny chair, to discover by sheer thinking S 

£h evert H '""'''"* P"^''''^ ^ ""de 
fresh eveiy day-so near that it must be at 

that moment grazing on the bit of pas^u" 
belong,„g to me; and. if that were L. ^h^ 
^ncWn was irresistible that it must le 

bretwa^^"J''M'"''•*^"«''*' '"^I^ "bout the 
breakfast table with comparative nimbleness 
I remembered that each morning therhTd 

^iZ IttT' r ^'^ P"''^-^" had 
appeared at the other meals. Before the 

war .t was almost impossible to get e^gs up 
here; clearly, then. I had chickens of mj 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 51 

own. And the honey; I felt it would no 
longer surprise me to discover that I also had 
bees, for this honey was the real thing—not 
your made-up stuff of the London shops. 
And strawberries; every morning a great 
cabbage leaf of strawberries had been on the 
table, real garden strawberries, over long ago 
down in the valley and never dreamed of as 
things worth growing by the peasants in the 
mountains. Obviously I counted these, too, 
among my possessions in some corner out of 
sight. The one object I couldn't proceed to by 
mductive reasoning from what was on the 
table was a pig. Antoine's courage had 
failed him over that. Too definitely must 
my repeated warning have echoed in his ears: 
Surtovt pas de pores. 

But how very intelligent he had been. It 
needs mtelligence if one is conscientious to 
disobey orders at the right moment. And me 
so unaware all the time, and therefore so 
unworried ! 

He passed along the terrace at that moment, 
a watering-pot in his hand. 
"Antoine," I said. 

"Madame," he said, stopping and taking off 
his cap. 

"This egg " I said, pointing to the shell, 



52 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



I said it in French, but prefer not to put my 
French on paper. ^ ^ 

**Ah — madame amies poules ** 

••This butter " 

** Ah— madame a msite la vache" 

"The pig ?" I hesitated. "Is there-is 

there also a pig? " ^i^?— is 

"Si madame veut deacendre a la cave " 

"You never keep a pig in the cellar.?" 
exclaimed. 

"Commeiamion," said Antoine-calm. per- 
fect of manner, without a trace of emoUon. 

r^J^M T '"^ *"'"'«'' ' ""s presently 
proudly shown by Mrs. Antoine. who^ 
fechngs are less invisible than her husband's 
hanging f,«m the cellar ceiling on hooks that 
which had once been pig. Several pigs; 
though she talked as if there had never b4n 
more than one. It may be so, of course, but 
If It is so It must have had a great many legs. 
Un pore centipede," I remarked, thought- 
fully, gazing upward at the forest of hams 

Over the thin ice of this comment she slid 
however, in a voluble description of how when 
the armistice was signed she and Antoine 
had instantly fallen upon and slain the pig— 
pig still in the singulai— expecting Madame's 
arnval after that felicitous event at any 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 5S 

minute, and comprehending that /. p&rc 
nvant pourrait dSranger madame, main que 
mart i/ w fait rien a personne que du plaiHr, 
And she, too, gazed upward, but with affection 
and pride. 

There remained then nothing to do but 
round off these various transactions by a 

Which I did to-day, Antoine presenting the 
bills, accompanied by complicated calcula- 
tions and deductions of the market price of 
the milk and butter and eggs he and Mrs 
Antoine would otherwise have consumed 
during the past years. 

I didn't look too closely into what the pig 
had cost— his price, as my eye skimmed over 
It was obviously the price of something 
plural; but my eye only skimmed, it didn't 
dwell. Always Antoine and I have behaved 
to each other like gentlemen. 

August I'ith. 

I wonder why I write all this. Is it because 
It IS so like talking to a friend at the end of 
the day, and telling him, who is interested 
and loves to hear, everything oue has done.? 
1 suppose it is that; and that I want, 
besides, to pin down these queer days as they 



54 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 






pass-days so utterly unlike any I ever had 
before. I want to hold them a minute in 
my hand and look at them before letting them 
drop away for ever. Then, perhaps, in lots 
of years, when I have half forgotten what 
brought me up here and don't mind a bit 
about anything except to laugh-to laugh 
with the tenderness of a wise old thing at the 
misunderstandings and mistakes and failures 
that brought me so near shipwreck, and yet 
underneath were still somehow packed with 
love— I'll open this and read it, and I daresay 
quote that Psalm about going through the 
vale of misery and using it as a well, and be 
quite pleasantly entertained. 

August ISth. 

If one sets one's face westward and goes 
on and on along the side of the mountain 
refusing either to climb higher or go lower' 
and having therefore to take things as they 
come and somehow get through— roaring 
torrents, sudden ravines, huge trees blown 
down in a forgotten blizzard and lying right 
across one's way; all the things that moun- 
tains have up their sleeve waiting for one- 
one comes, after two hours of walk so varied 
as to include scowling rocks and gloomy 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 55 

forests, bright stretches of delicious grass 
full of flowers, bits of hayfield, clusters of 
fruit-trees, wide, sun-flooded spaces with 
nothing between one apparently and the 
great snowy mountains, narrow paths where 
It IS hardly light enough to see, smells of 
resm and hot fir needles, smeUs of traveller's 
joy, smells of just cut grass, smells of just 
sawn wood, smells of water tumbling over 
stones, muddy smells where the peasants 
have turned some of the torrent away through 
shaMow d nnels into their fields, honey 
smells, hot smells, cold smells-after two 
hours of this walking, which would be tiring 
because of the constant diflSculty of the 
ground if it weren't for the odd way the air 
Has here of carrying you, of making you feel 
as though you were being lifted along, one 
comes at last to the edge of a steep slope 
wh^re there is a little group of larches. 
Then one sits down. 

These larches are at the very end of a long 
tongue into which the mountain one started 
on has somehow separated, and it is under 
them that one eats one's dinner of hard- 
boiled egg and bread and butter and sits 
staring, while one does so, in mu, ii astonish- 
ment at the view. For it is aa incredibly 



p 



56 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

beautiful view from here, of an entirely 
different range of mountains fror * the one 
seen from my terrace; and the valley, with 
Its twisting, tiny silver thread that I know is 
a great rushing river, has strange, abrupt, 
isolated hills scattered over it that appear 
each to have a light and colour of its own, 
with no relation to the light and colour of the 
mountains. 

men first I happened on tiiis place tiie 
building of my house had already been 
started, and it was too late to run to the 
architect and say: Here and here only wiU 
I live. But I did for a wild moment, so 
great was tiie beauty I had found, hope tiiat 
^rhaps Swiss houses might be like those 
Norwegian ones one reads about that take to 
pieces and can be put up again somewhere 
else when youVe got bored, and I remember 
scrambhng back hastily in heat and excite- 
ment to ask him whether this were so. He 
said it wasn't, and seemed even a littie 
ruffled, if so calm a man were capable of 
ruffling, that I should suppose he would build 
anything that could come undone. 

"This house," he said, pointing at tiie 
hopeless-looking mass that ultimately be- 
came so adorable, "is built for posterity It 



n 5" 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 57 

is on a rock, and wiU partake of the same 
immovability." 

And when I told him of the place I had 
found, the exquisite place, more beautiful 
than a dream and a hundred times more 
beautiful than the place we had started 
building on, he, being a native of the district 
hardy on his legs on Sundays and accordingly 
acquamted with every inch of ground within 
twenty miles, told me that it was so remote 
from villages, so inaccessible by any road, 
that It was suited as a habitation only to 
goats. 

"Only goats," he said with finality, waving 
his hand, *could dwell there, and for goats I 
do not build." 

So that my excitement cooled down before 
the inevitable, and I have lived to be very 
glad the house is where it is and not where, 
for a few wild hours, I wanted it; for now I 
can go to the other when I am in a beauty 
mood and see it every time with fresh wonder, 
while if I lived there I would have got used 
to It long ago, and my ardour been, like other 
ardours, turned by possession into compla- 
cency. Or, to put it a little differently, the 
house here is like an amiable wife to whom it 
IS comfortable to come back for meals and 






I 



m 1 



58 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

sleeping purposes, and the other is a secret 
love, to be visited only on the crest of an 
ecstasy. 

ToKday I took a hard-boiled egg and some 
bread and butter and visited my secret love. 

The hard-boiled egg doesn't seem much hke 
an ecstasy, but it is a very good foundation 
for one. There is great virtue in a hard- 
boiled egg. It holds one down, yet not too 
heavily. It satisfies without inflaming 
Sometimes, after days of living on fruit and 
bread, a s!ice of underdone meat put in a 
sandwich and eaten before I knew what I 
was doing, has gone straight to my head in 
exactly the way wine would, and I have seen 
the mountains double, and treble themselves, 
besides not keeping still, in a very surprising 
and distressing way, utterly ruinous to rap- 
tures. So now I distrust sandwiches and 
will not take them; and all that goes with 
me IS the hard-boiled egg. Oh, and apricots, 
when I can get them. I forgot the apricots. 
I took a handful to-day, big, beautiful rosy- 
golden ones, grown in the hot villages of the 
valley, a very apricotty place. And that 
every part of me should have sustena;.ce I 
also took Law's "Serious Call." 
He went because he's the thinnest book I've 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 59 

got on my shelves that has at the same time 
been praised by Dr. Johnson. IVe got 
several others that Dr. Johnson has praised, 
such as Ogden on "Prayer," but their bulk, 
even if their insides were attractive, makes 
them have to stay at home. Johnson, I 
remembered, as I weighed Law thoughtfully 
m nay hand and felt how thin he was, said of 
the Senous Call" that he took it up expecting 

!. <*l^^ T ." ^''?^' ^"^ P^'^^P« *« J^"gh at 
It- But I found Law quite an overmatch 
for me. He certainly would be an over- 
match for me, I knew, should I try to stand 
up to him, but that was not my intention. 
What I wanted was a slender book that yet 
would have enough entertainment in it to 
nourish me all day, and opening the "Serious 
Call I was caught at once by the story of 
Octavius a learned and ingenious man who, 
feehng that he wasn't going to live much 
longer, told the friends hanging on his Hps 
attentive to the wisdom that would, they were 
sure drop out, that in the decay of nature 
in which he found himself he had left off all 
taverns and was now going to be nice in what 
he drank, so that he was resolved to furnish 
his cellar with a little of the very best what- 
ever It might cost. And hardly had he 



(JO 



1 



li 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



delivered himself of this declaration than 
**he fell ill, was committed to a nurse, and 
had his eyes closed by her before his fresh 
parcel of wine came in." 

The effect of this on someone called 
Eugenius was to send him home a new man, 
full of resolutions to devote himself wholly to 
God; for**I never," says Eugenius, "was so 
deeply affected with the wisdom and import- 
ance of religion as when I saw how poorly 
and meanly the learned Octavius was to leave 
the world through the want of it." 

So Law went with me, and his vivacious 
pages— the story of Octavius is but one of 
many; there is Matilda and her unhappy 
daughters ("The eldest daughter lived as long 
as she could under this discipline," but found 
she couldn't after her twentieth year and 
died, "her entrails much hurt by being 
crushed together with her stays"); Eusebia 
and her happy daughters, who were so beauti- 
fully brought up that they had the satisfaction 
of dying virgins; Lepidus, struck down as he 
was dressing himself for a feast; the admir- 
able Miranda, whose meals were carefully 
kept down to exactly enough to give her 
proper strength to lift eyes and hands to 
heaven, so that "Miranda will never have her 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 61 

eyes swell with fatness or pant under a heavy 
load of flesh until she has changed her reli- 
gion'*; Mundamus, who if he saw a book of 
devotion passed it by; Classicus, who openly 
and shamelessly preferred learning to devo- 
tion—these vivacious pages greatly enlivened 
and adorned my day. But I did feel as I 
came home at the end of it that Dr. 
Johnson, for whom no one has more love 
and less respect than I, ought to have 
spent some at least of his earlier years, 
when he was still accessible to reason, with, 
say, Voltaire. 

Now I am going to bed, footsore but glad, 
for this picnic to-day was a test. I wanted 
to see how far on I have got in facing memo- 
ries. When I set out I pretended to myself 
that I was going from sheer considerateness 
for servants, because I wished Mrs. Antoine 
to have a holiday from cooking my dinner, 
but I knew in my heart that I was making, 
in trepidation and secret doubt, a test. For 
the way to this place of larches bristles with 
happy memories. They would be sitting 
waiting for me, I knew, at every bush and 
corner in radiant rows. If only they wouldn't 
be radiant, I thought, I wouldn't mind. 
The way, I thought, would have been easier 



SI 



i i 



«2 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

if it had been punctuated with remembered 
quarrels Only then I wouldn't have gone to 
It at all for my spirit shudders away from 
places where there has been unkindness. 
It IS the happy record of this litUe house that 
never yet have its walls heard an unkind 
word or a riide word, and not once has 
anybody cned m it. All the houses I have 
lived m except this had their sorrows, and 
one at least had worse things than sorrows; 
but this one. my little house of peace hung 
up m the sunshine weU on the way to heaven, 
•s completely free from stains-nothing has 
ever hved m it that wasn't kind. And I shall 
not count the wretchedness I dragged up 
with me three weeks ago as a break in this 
record, as a smudge on its serenity, but only 
as a shadow passing across the sun. Because 
however beaten down I was and miserable.' 
I brought no anger with me and no resent- 
ment. Unkindness has still not come into 
the house. 

Now I am going very happy to bed. for I 
have passed the test. The whole of the walk 
to the larches, and the whole of the way back, 
and all the time I was sitting there, what I 
felt was simply gratitude-gratitude for the 
beautiful past times I have had. I found I 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



63 
couldn't help it. It was as natural as 
breathing. I wasn't lonely. Everybody I 
have loved and shall never see again was 
with me. And all day, the whole of the 
wonderful day of beauty, I was able in that 
bright companionship to forget the imme- 
diate grief, the aching wretchedness, that 
brought me up here to my mountains as a 
last hope. 

August 14th. 

Tu-day it is my birthday, so I thought I 
would expiate it by doing some useful work. 

It is the first birthday I've ever been alone, 
with nobody to say Bless you. I like being 
blessed on my birthday, seen off into my new 
year with encouragement and smibs. Per- 
haps, I thought, while I dressed, Antoine 
would remember. After all, I used to have 
birthdays when I was here before, and he 
must have noticed the ripple of excitement 
that lay along the day, how it was wreathed 
in flowers from breakfast-time on and dotted 
thick with presents. Perhaps he would re- 
member and wish me luck. Perhaps if he 
remembered he would tell his wife, and she 
would wish me luck, too. I did very much 
long to-day to be wished luck. 



64 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

But Antoine, if he had ever known, had 
obviously forgotten. He was doing some- 
thing to the irises when I came down, and 
though I went out and lingered round him 
before beginning breakfast he took no notice- 
he just went on with the irises. So I daresay 
I looked a little wry, for I did feel rather 
afraid I might be going to be lonely. 

This Uien, I thought, giving myself a 
hitch of determination, was the moment for 
manual labour. As I drank my coffee I 
decided to celebrate the day by giving both 
the Antoines a holiday and doing the work 
myself. Why shouldn't my birthday be 
celebrated by somebody else having a good 
time? What did it after all matter who had 
the good time so long as somebody did? 
The Antoines should have a holiday, and I 
would work. So would I defend my thoughts 
froni memories that might bite. So would I, 
by the easy path of perspiration, find peace. 

Antoine, however, didn't seem to want a 
holiday. I had difficulty with him. He 
wasn't of course surprised when I told him 
he had got one, because he never is, but he 
said, with that level intonation that gives his 
conversation so noticeable a calm, that it was 
the day for cutting the lawn. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 65 

I said I would cut the lawn; I knew about 
lawns; I had been brought up entirely on 
lawns— I believe I told him I had been born 
on one, in my eagerness to forestall his objec- 
tions and get him to go. 

He said that such work would be too hot 
for Madame in the sort of weather we were 
having; and I said that no work on an object 
so small as our lawn could be too hot. 
Besides, I liked being hot, I explained— 
again with eagerness— I wanted to be hot, 
I was happy when I was hot. ''J*aime beau- 
coup" I said, not stopping in my hurry to 
pick my words, and anyhow imperfect in 
French, "La sueur.** 

I believe I ought to have said la tran- 
spiraiian, the other word being held in slight 
if any esteem as a word for ladies, but I still 
more believe that I oughtn't to have said any- 
thing about it at all. I don't know, of course, 
because of Antoine's immobility of expres- 
sion; but in spite of this not varying at what 
I had said by the least shadow of a flicker I 
yet somehow felt, it was yet somehow con- 
veyed to me, that perhaps in French one 
doesn't perspire, or if one does one doesn't 
talk about it. Not if one is a lady. Not if one 
is Madame. Not, to ascend still further the 



«« IN THE MOUNTAINS 

scale of my self-respect enforcing attributes, if 
one 18 that dignified object the patrone, 

I find it difficult to be dignified. When I 
try. I overdo it. Always my dignity is either 
over or under done, but its chief condition is 
that of being under done. Antoine. however, 
very kmdly helps me up to the position he 
has decided I ought to fill, by his own un- 
alterable calm. I have never seen him smile. 
I don't believe he could wiUiout cracking, of 
so unruffled a glassiness is his countenance. 

Once, before the war--everything I have 
done that has been cheerful and undesirable 
was before the war; I've been nothing but 
exemplary and wretched since— I was un- 
dignified. We dressed up; and on the advice 
of my fnends— I now see that it was bad 
advice— I allowed myself to be dressed as 
a devil; I. the patrone; I, Madame. It was 
true I was only a little devil, quite one of the 
minor ones, what the Germans would call a 
Hausteufelchen; but a devil I was. And 
going upstairs again unexpectedly, to fetch 
my tail which had been forgotten, I saw 
at the very end of the long passage down 
which I had to go Antoine collecting the 
day s boots. 

He stood aside and waited. I couldn't 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 67 

go back, because that would have looked as 
though I were doing something I knew I 
oughtn't to. Therefore I proceeded. 

The passage was long and well lit. Down 
the whole of it I had to go, while Antoine at 
the end stood and waited. I tried to advance 
with dignity. I tried to lope he wouldn't 
recognize me. I tried to ho\ .M:ro h, v .. »ldn*t. 
How could he? I was .juiu^ W^,:k, rwept 
for a wig that lookci i.' e (.rai.m;.'f.i,.ured 
flames. But when I i^^ot to *h( li. <>rs at the 
end it was the one to n,y ! curooiu that 
Antoine threw open, and pa; ^ hii-. J had to 
march while he stood gravJ^ aside. And 
strangely enough, what I remember feeling 
most acutely was a quite particular humili- 
ation and shame that I hadn't got my tail on. 
**C*est que fat oublie ma queue ..." I 
found myself stammering, with a look of 
agonized deprecation and apology at him. 
And even then Antoine wasn't surprised. 
Well, where was I? Oh, yes— ai the 
transpiration. Antoine let it pass over him, 
as I have said, without a ruffle, and drew my 
attention to the chickens who would have to 
be fed and the cow who would have to be 
milked. Perhaps the cow might be milked 
on his return, but the chickens 



ii 



68 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Antoine was softening. 
I said quickly that all he had to do would 
be to put the chickens' food ready and I 
would administer it, and as for the cow, why 
not let her have a rest for once, why not let 
her for once not be robbed of what was after 
all her own? And to cut the conversation 
short, and determined that my birthday 
should not pass without somebody getting 
a present, I ran upstairs and fetched down 
a twenty-franc note and pressed it into 
Antoine*s hand and said breathlessly in a 
long and voluble sentence that began with 
Voil&, but didn't keep it up at that high level, 
that the twenty francs were for his expenses 
for himself and Mrs. Antoine down in the 
valley, and that I hoped they would enjoy 
themselves, and would he remember me very 
kindly to his maman, to whom he would no 
doubt pay a little visit during the course of 
what I trusted would be a long, crowded, and 
agreeable day. 

Tney went off ultimately, but with reluct- 
ance. Completely undignified, I stood on the 
low wall of the terrace and waved to them as 
they turned the corner at the bottom of the 
path. 

" Milk felicitations r I cried, anxious that 






IN THE MOUNTAINS 69 

somebody should be wished happiness on my 
birthday. 

"If I am going to have a lonely birthday it 
shall be thoroughly lonely," I said grimly to 
myself as, urged entirely by my volition, the 
Antoines disappeared and left me to the 
solitary house. 

I decided to begin my day*s work by mak- 
ing my bed, and went upstairs full of resolu- 
tion. 

Mrs. Antoine, however, had done that; 
no doubt while I was arguing with Antoine. 

The next thing, then, I reflected, was to 
tidy away breakfast, so I came downstairs 
again, full of more resolution. 

Mrs. Antoine, however, had done that, too; 
no doubt while I was still arguing with 
Antoine. 

Well, then, oughtn't I to begin to do some- 
thing with potatoes? With a view to the 
dinner-hour.? Put them on, or something? 
I was sure the putting on of potatoes would 
make me perspire. I longed to start my 
transpiration in case by any chance, if I 
stayed too long inactive and cool, I should 
notice how very silent and empty . . . 

I hurried into the kitchen, a dear little 
place of white tiles and copper saucepans, 



70 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

and found pots simmering gently on the 
stove: potatoes in one, and in the other bits 
of something that well might be chicken. 
Also, on a tray was the rest of everything 
needed for my dinner. All I would have to 
do would be to eat it. 

Baulked, but still full of resolution, I set 
out m search of the lawn-mower. It couldn't 
be far away, because nothing is able to be 
anything but close on my narrow ledge <rf 
rock. 

Mou-Mou, sitting on his haunches in the 
shade at the back of the house, watched me 
with mterest as I tried to open the sorts of 
outside doors that looked as if they shut in 
lawn-mowers. 
They were all locked. 

The magnificent Mou-Mou, who manages 
to imitate Antoine's trick of not being 
surprised, though he hasn't yet quite caught 
his air of absence of curiosity, got up after 
the first door and lounged after me as I tried 
the others He could do this because, 
though tied up, Antoine has ingeniously 
provided for his exercise, and at the same 
time for the circumvention of burglars, by 
hxmg an iron bar the whole length of the wall 
behind the house and fastening Mou-Mou 's 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 71 

chain to it by a loose ring. So that he can 
run along it whenever he feels inclined; and 
a burglar, havmg noted the kennel at the 
east end of this wall and Mou-Mou sitting 
chamed up in front of it, would find, on 
preparing to attack the house at its west 
and apparently dogless end, that the dog 
was nevertheless there before him. A rattle 
and a slide, and there would be Mou-Mou. 
Very morafe-shaking. Very freezing in its 
unexpectedness to the burglar's blood, and 
paralyzing to his will to sin. Thus Antoine, 
thinkmg of everything, had calculated. There 
hasn't ever been a burglar, but, as he said of 
his possible suppurating wounds "// ne faut 
pas attendre qu'on les a pour se procurer le 
retn^de.** 

Mou-Mou accordingly came with me as I 
went up and down the back of the house 
trying the range of outside doors. I think 
he thought at last it was a game, for as each 
door wouldn't open and I paused a moment 
thwarted, he gave a loud double bark, as 
one who should in the Psalms after each 
verse say Selak. 

Antoine had locked up the lawn-mower. 
The mowing was to oe put off till to-morrow 
rather than that Madame in the heat should 



t\ 



I 



72 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

mow. I appreciated the kindness of his in- 
tentions, but for all that was much vexed 
by being baulked. On my birthday, too. 
Baulked of the one thing I really wanted, 
la transpiration. It didn't seem much to ask 
on my birthday, I who used without so much 
as lifting a finger to acquire on such occasions 
quite other beads. 

Undecided, I stood looking round the tidy 
yard for something I could be active over, 
and Mou-Mou sat upright on his huge 
haunches watching me. He is so big that 
in this position our heads are on a level. 
He took advantage of this by presently 
raising his tongue— it was already out, hang- 
ing in the heat— as I still didn't move or say 
anything, and giving my face an enormous 
lick. So then I went away, for I didn't like 
that. Besides, I had thought of something. 

In the flower-border along the terrace 
would be weeds. Flower-borders always have 
weeds, and weeding is arduous. Also, all 
one wants for weeding are one's own ten 
fingers, and Antoine couldn't prevent my 
using those. So that was what I would do- 
bend down and tear up weeds, and in this 
way forget the extraordinary sunlit, gaping, 
empty little house. . . . 



:J'''"f.^:1 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 73 

So great, however, had been the unflagging 
diligence of Antoine, and also perhaps so poor 
and barren the soil, that after half an hour's 
search I had only found three weeds, and 
even those I couldn't be sure about and didn't 
know for certain but what I might be pulling 
up some precious bit of alpine flora put in on 
purpose and cherished by Antoine. All I 
really knew was that what I tore up wasn't 
irises, and wasn't delphiniums, and wasn't 
pansies; so that, I argued, it must be weeds. 
Anyhow, I pulled three alien objects out and 
laid them in a neat row to show Antoine. 
Then I sat down and rested. 

The search for them had made me hot, but 
that of course wouldn't last. It was ages 
before I need go and feed the chickens. I 
sat on the terrace wall wondering what I 
could do next. It was a pity that the 
Antoines were so admirable. One could 
overdo virtue. A little less zeal, the least 
judicious neglect on their part, and I would 
have found something useful to do. 

The place was quite extraordinarily silent. 
There wasn't a sound. Even Mou-Mou 
round at the back, languid in the heat, didn't 
move. The immense light beat on the 
varnished wooden face of the house and on 




iiiiii 



if 



74 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

the shut shutters of all the unused rooms." 
Those rooms have been shut like that for five 
years. The shutters are blistered with the 
fierce sun of five summers and the no less 
fierce sun of five winters. Their colour, 
once a lively, swaggering blue, has faded to a 
dull gray. I sat staring up at them. Sup- 
pose they were suddenly to be opened from 
inside, and faces that used to live in them 
looked out .J* 

A faint shudder trickled along my spine. 
Well, but wouldn't I be glad really? 
Wouldn't they be the dearest ghosts? That 
room at \he end, for instance, so tightly shut 
up now, that was where my brother used to 
sleep when he came out for his holidays. 
Wouldn't I love to see him look out at me? 
How gaily he used to arrive— in such spirits 
because he had got rid of work for a bit, and 
for a series of divine weeks was going to stretch 
himself in the sun ! The first thing he always 
did when he got up to his room was to hurry 
out on to its little balcony to see if the heav- 
enly view of the valley toward the east with 
the chain of snow mountains across the end 
were still as heavenly as he remembered it; and 
I could see him with his head thrown back, 
breathing deep breaths of the lovely air,' 



M 



W-^^-'^Wlig 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 75 

adoring it, radiant with delight to have 
got back to it, calling down to me to come 
quick and look, for it could never have been 
so beautiful as at that moment and could 
never possibly be so beautiful again. 

I loved him very much. I don't believe any- 
body ever had so dear a brother. He was so 
quick to appreciate and understand, so slow 
to anger, so clear of brain and gentle of heart. 
Of course he was killed. Such people always 
are if there is any killing going on anywhere. 
He volunteered at the very beginning of the 
war, and though his fragility saved him for a 
long time he was at last swept in. That was 
m March, 1918. He was killed the first week. 
I loved him very much, and he loved me. 
He called me sweet names, and forgave me 
all my trespasses. 

And in the next room to that—oh, well, 
I'm not going to dig out every ghost. I can't 
reaUy write about some of them, the pain 
hurts too much. I've not been into any of 
the shut rooms since I came back. I couldn't 
bear it. Here out of doors I can take a larger 
view, not mind going to the places of memo- 
ries; but I know those rooms will have been 
kept as carefully unchanged by Antoine as 
I found mine. I daren't even think of them. 



1 



'i/m^^vm 



I 



I 'I ^ 

mi 

in 



76 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



I had to get up off the wall and come away 
from staring up at those shutters, for suddenly 
I found myself right on the very edge of the 
dreadful pit I*m always so afraid of tumbling 
into — the great, black, cold, empty pit of 
horror, of realization. . . . 

That's why I've been writing all this, just 
so as not to think. . . . 

Bedtime. 

I must put down what happened after 
that. I ought to be in bed, but I must put 
down how my birthday ended. 

Well, there I was sitting, trying by writing 
to defend myself against the creeping fear of 
the silence round me and the awareness of 
those shut rooms upstairs, when Mou-Mou 
barked. He barked suddenly and furiously; 
and the long screech of his chain showed that 
he was rushing along the wall to the other 
side of the house. 

Instantly my thoughts became wholesome. 
I jumped up. Here was the burglar at last. 
I flew round to greet him. Anything was 
better than those shutters and that hot, 
sunlit silence. Between my departure from 
the terrace and my arrival at the other side 
of the house I had had time, so quickly did 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 77 

my restored mind work, to settle that who- 
ever it was, burglar or not, I wp.s going to 
make friends. If it really were a burglar I 
would adopt the line the bishop took toward 
Jean Valjean and save him from the sin of 
theft by making him a present of everything 
he wished to take— conduct which perhaps 
niight save me as well, supposing he was the 
kind of burglar who would want to strangle 
opposition. Also, burglar or no burglar, I 
would ask him to dinner; compel him, in 
fact, to come in and share my birthday 
chicken. 

What I saw when I got round, standing 
just out of reach of the leaping Mou-Mou on 
the top of the avalanche wall, looking down 
at him with patience rather than timidity, 
holding their black skirts back in case an 
extra leap of his should reach them, were two 
women. Strangers, not natives. Perhaps 
widows. But anyhow people who had been 
bereaved. 

I immediately begged them to come in. 
The relief and refreshment of seeing them! 
Two human beings of obvious respectability, 
warm flesh and blood persons, not burglars, 
not ghosts, not even of the sex one associates 
with depredatJon— just decent, alive women, 



78 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



if 



complete in every detail, even to each carrying 
an umbrella. They might have been stand- 
ing on the curb in Oxford Street waiting to 
hail an omnibus, so complete were they, so 
prepared in their clothes to face the world. 
Button boots, umbrella — I hadn't een an 
umbrella since I got here. What you usually 
take for a walk on the mountains is a stout 
stick with an iron point to it; but, after all, 
why shouldn't you take an umbrella? Then 
if it rains you can put it up, and if the sun is 
unbearable you can put it up, too, and it, too, 
has a metal tip to it which you can dig into the 
ground if you begin to slide down precipices. 

**Bon jour,** I said, eagerly, looking up at 
these black silhouettes against the sky. "Je 
V0U8 prie de venir me voir.** 

They stared at me, still holding back their 
skirts from the leaping dog. 

Perhaps they were Italians. I am close 
to Italy, and Italian women usually dress in 
black. 

I know some Itaiiaii words, and I know the 
one you say when you want somebody to 
come in, so I tried that. 

''Avantiy* I said, breatnlessly. 

They didn't. They still just stood and 
stared. 



If 

! i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 79 

They couldn't be English I thought because 
underneath their black skirts I could see white 
cotton petticoats with embroidery on them, 
the kind that England has shed these fifty 
years, and that is only now to be found in 
remote and religious parts of abroad, like the 
more fervent portions of Luthem Germany. 
Could they be Germans? The thought 
distracted me. How could I ask two Ger- 
mans in? How could I sit at meat with 
people whose male relations had so recently 
been killing mine? Or been killed by them, 
perhaps, judging from their black clothes. 
Anyhow there was blood between us. But 
how could I resist asking them in, when if I 
didn't there would be hours and hours of 
intolerable silence and solitude for me till 
evening brought those Antoines back who 
never ought to have been let go? On my 
birthday, too. 

I know some German words— it is wonderful 
what a lot of languages I seem to know some 
words in — so I threw one up at them between 
two of Mou-Mou's barks. 
'* Deutsche*' I inquired. 
They ignored it. 

"That's all my languages," I then said in 
despair. 



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80 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

The only thing left that I might still try on 
them was to talk on my fingers, which I can 
a httle; but if they didn't happen, I reflected, 
to be deaf and dumb perhaps they wouldn't 
hke that So I just looked up at them 
despainngly, and spread out my hands and 
drew my shoulders to my ears as Mrs. 
Antome does when she is conveying to me 
that the butter has come to an end. 

Whereupon the elder of the two-neither 
was young, but one was less young-the elder 
ot the two mformed me in calm English that 
they had lost their way, and she asked me to 
direct them and also to tell the dog not to 
make quite so much noise, in order that they 
might clearly understand what I said "He 
IS a fine fellow," she said, "but we should be 
glad if he would make less noise." 

The younger one said nothing, but smiled 
at me She was pleasant-looking, this one, 
flushed and nicely moist from walking in the 
heat. The other one was more rocky 
considering the weather, and the angle of the 
slope they had either come up or down, she 
seemed quite unnaturally arid. 

I seized Mou-Mou by the collar, and ran 
him along to his kennel. 

"You stay there and be good," I said to 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 81 

him, though I know he doesn't understand 
a word of EngHsh. "He won't hurt you," 
I assured the strangers, going back to them! 
^ "Ah," said the elder of the two; and added, 
"I used to say that to people about my 
dog." 

They still stood motionless, holding their 
skirts, the younger one smiling at me. 

** Won't you come down.?" I said. "Come 
m and rest a little.J^ I can tell you better 
about your road if you'll come in. Look— 
you go along that path there, and it brings 
you round to the front door." 

"Will the dog be at the front door.?'* 
asked the elder. 

"Oh, no— besides, he wouldn't hurt a fly." 

"Ah," said the elder, eyeing Mou-Mou 
sideways, who, from his kennel, eyed her, 
"I used to say that to people about my dog.'* 

The younger one stood smiling at me. 
They neither of them moved. 

"I'll come up and bring you down," I said, 
hurrymg round to the path that leads from 
the terrace on to the slope. 

When they saw that this path did indeed 
take them away from Mou-Mou they came 
with me. 

Directly they moved he made a rush along 



|i ' 
8' * 



82 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

his bar, but arrived too late and could only 
leap up and down barking. 

"That's just high spirits," I said. *^He is 
really most good-natured and affectionate.'* 

"Ah," said the elder, "I used to say that to 
people " 

"Mind those loose stones," I interrupted; 
and I helped each one down the last crumbly 
bit on to the terrace. 

They both had black kid gloves on. More 
than ever, as I felt these warm gloves press my 
hand, was I sure that what they really wanted 
was an omnibus along Oxford Street. 

Once on the level and out of sight of Mou- 
Mou, they walked with an air of self-respect 
Especially the elder. The younger, though 
she had It, too, seemed rather to be following 
an example than originating an attitude. 
Perhaps they were related to a Lord Mayor, 
I thought. Or a rector. But a Lord Mayor 
would be more likely to be the cause of 
that air of glowing private background to 
life. 

They had been up the mountain, the elder 
told me, trying to find somewhere cool to 
stay in, for the valley this weather was un- 
endurable. They used to know this district 
years ago, and recollected a pension right up 



II 5.- 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 83 

in the highest village, and after great exertions 
and rising early that morning they had 
reached it only to find that it had become 
a resort for consumptives. With no pro- 
vision for the needs of the passing tourist; 
with no desire, in fact, in any way to minister 
to them. If it hadn't been for me, she said, 
as they sat on the cool side of the house 
drinking lemonade and eating biscuits, if it 
hadn't been for me and what she described 
with obvious gratitude— she couldn't guess 
my joy at seeing them both!— as my kind- 
ness, they would have had somehow to 
clamber down foodless by wrong roads, 
seeing that they had lost the right one, to the 
valley again, and in what state they would 
hu,ve reentered that scorching and terrible 
place she didn't like to think. Tired as they 
were. Disappointed, and distressingly hot. 
How very pleasant it was up here. What a 
truly delightful spot. Such air. Such a 
view. And how agreeable and unexpected 
to come across one of one's own country- 
women. 

To all this the younger in silence smiled 
agreement. 

They had been so long abroad, continued 
the elder, that they felt greatly fatigued by 



Ml 



I V 



84 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

foreigners, who were so very prevalent. In 
their pension there were nothing but 
foreigners and flies. The house wasn't by 
any chance--no, of course it couldn't be, 
but it wasn't by any chance— her vo -e had a 
sudden note of hope in it— a pension .?> 

I shook my head and laughed at that, and 
said it wasn't. The younger one smiled at me. 
Ah, no— of course not, continued the elder, 
her voice fading agiin. And she didn't 
suppose I could tell them of any pension 
anywhere about, where they could get taken 
in while this great heat lasted? Really the 
valley was most terribly airless. The best 
hotel, which had, she knew, some cool rooms, 
was beyond their means, so they were staying 
in one of the small ones, and the flies worried 
them. Apparently I had no flies up here. 
And what wonderful air. At night, no doubt, 
it was quite cool. The nights in the valley 
were most trying. It was diflScult to sleep. 

I asked them to stay to lunch. They 
accepted gratefully. When I took them to 
my room to wash their hands they sighed with 
pleasure at its shadiness and quiet. They 
thought the inside of the house delightfully 
roomy, and more spacious, said the elder, 
while the younger one smiled agreement. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 85 

than one would have expected from its 
outside. I left them, sunk with sighs of 
satisfaction, on the sofa in the hall, their 
black toques and gloves on a chair beside 
them, gazing at the view through the open 
front door while I went to see how the pota- 
toes were getting on. 

We lunched presently in the shade just 
outside the house, and the strange ladies 
continued to be most grateful, the elder 
voicing their gratitude, the younger smiling 
agreement. If it was possible to like one 
more than the other, seeing with what en- 
thusiasm I liked them both, I liked the 
younger because she smiled. I love people 
who smile. It does usually mean sweet 
pleasantness comewhere. 

After lunch, while I cleared away, having 
refused their polite offers of help, for they now 
realized I was alone in the house, on which, 
however, though it must have surprised them' 
they made no comment, they went indoors to 
the sofa again, whose soft cushions seemed 
particularly attractive to them; and when I 
came back the last time for the breadcrumbs 
and tablecloth I found they had both fallen 
asleep, the elder one with her handkerchief 
over her face. 



86 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



Pf 






Poor things. How tired they were. How 
glad I was that they should be resting and 
getting cool. A little sleep would do them 
both good. 

I crept past them on tiptoe with my final 
armful, and was careful to move about in the 
kitchen very quietly. It hadn't been my 
intention, with guests to lunch, to wash up 
and put away, but rather to sit with them 
and talk. Not having talked for so long it 
seemed a godsend, a particularly welcome 
birthday present, suddenly to have two Eng- 
lish people drop in on me from the skies. Up 
to this moment I had been busy, first getting 
lemonade to slake their thirst and then 
lunch to appease their hunger, and the spare 
time in between these activities had been 
filled with the expression of their gratitude 
by the elder and her expatiations on the house 
and what she called the giounds; but I had 
looked forward to about an hour's real talk 
after lunch, before they would begin to want 
to start on their long downward journey to 
their pension— talk in which, without being 
specially brilliant any of us, for you only had 
to look at us to see we wouldn't be specially 
that, we yet might at least tell each other 
amusing things about, say, Lord Mayors. 



m 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 87 

^u '"* u^^ ^ '^''"** ^"^^ ^"y ^^^^ Mayors, 
though I do know somebody whose brother 
married the daughter of one; but if they could 
produce a Lord Mayor out of up their sleeve, 
as I suspected, I could counter him with a 
dean. Not quite so showy, perhaps, but more 
permanent. And I did want to talk. I 
have been silent so long that I felt I could 
talk about almost anything. 

Well, as they were having a little nap, 
poor thmgs, I would tidy up the kitchen 
ineanwhile, and by the time that was done 
they would be refreshed and ready for half an 
hour's agreeable interchange of gossip. 

Every now and then during this tidying 
I peeped into the hall in case they were 
awake, but they seemed if anything to be 
sounder asleep each time. The younger one, 
her flushed face half buried in a cushion, her 
fair hair a little ruffled, had a pathetic look 
ot almost infantile helplessness; the elder 
discreetly veiled by her handkerchief, slept 
more stiffly, with less abandonment and more 
determination. Poor things. How glad I 
was they should in this way gather strength 
tor the long, difficult scramble down the 
mountain; but also presently I began to 
wish they would wake up. 



88 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



- i ' 



I finished what I had to do in the kitchen, 

and came back into the hall. They had been 

sleeping now nearly half an hour. I stood 

about uncertainly. Poor things, they must 

be dreadfully tired to sleep like that. I 

hardly liked to look at them, tliey were so 

defenceless, and I picked up a book and tried 

to read; but I couldn't stop my eyes from 

wandering over the top of it to the sofa every 

few minutes, and always I saw the same 

picture of profound repose. 

Presently I put down the book and wan- 
dered out on to the terrace and gazed awhile 
at the view. That, too, seemed wrapped in 
afternoon slumber. After a bit I wandered 
round t) ^ house to Mou-Mou. He, too, was 
asleep. Then I came back to the front door 
and glanced in at my guests. Still no change. 
Then I fetched some cigarettes, not moving 
this time quite so carefully, and going out 
again sat on the low terrace-wall at a point 
from which I could see straight on to the sofa 
and notice any movement that might take 
place. 

I never smoke except when bored, and as 
I am never bored I never smoke. But this 
afternoon it was just that unmanageable sort 
of moment come upon me, that kind of situa- 



uu 



M 



IN THE MOUXTAIXS 89 

tion I don't know how to deal with, which 
does bore me. I sat on the wall and snioke<l 
three cigarettes, and the peace », the sofa 
remained complete. What ought one to do? 
What did one do, faced by obstinately sleep- 
mg guests.^ Impossi})le dehberately to wake 
them up. Yet I was sure— they had now 
been asleep nearly an hour— that when they 
did wake up, polite as they were, they would 
be upset by discovering that they had slept. 
Besides, the afternoon was getting on. They 
had a long way to go. If only Mou->r()u 
would wake up and bark. . . . But there 
wasn't a sound. The hot afternoon brooded 
over the mountains in breathless silence. 

Again I went round to the back of the house, 
and pausing behind the last corner so as to 
make what I did next more alarming, suddenly 
jumped out at Mou-Mou. 

The horribly intelligent dog didn't bother 
to open more than an eye, and that one he 
immediately shut again. 

Disgusted with him, I returned to my seat 
on the wall and smoked another cigarette. 
The picture on the sofa was the same— perfect 
peace. Oh, well, poor things— but I did want 
to talk. And after all it was my birthday. 
When I had finished the cigarette I thought 



90 



I\ THE MOUNTAINS 



II 



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a moment, my face in my hands. A person 
of tact— ah, but I have no tact; it has been 
my undoing on the cardinal occasions of life 
that I have none. Well, but suppose I were 
a person of tact— what would I do? Instantly 
the answer flashed into my brain: Knock, 
by accident, against a table. 

So I did. I got up quickly and crossed 
into the hall and knocked against a table, at 
first with gentleness, and then as there was no 
result with greater vigour. 

My elder guest behind the handkerchief 
continued to draw deep, regular breaths, but 
to my joy the younger one stirred and opened 
her eyes. 

**Oh, I do hope I didn't wake you?" I 
exclaimed, taking an eager step toward the 
sofa. 

She looked at me vaguely, and fell asleep 
again. 

I went back on to the terrace and lit 
another cigarette. That was five. I haven't 
smoked so much before in one day in my life 
ever. I felt quite fast. And on my birthday, 
too. By the time I had finished it there was 
a look about the shadows on the grass that 
suggested tea. Even if it were a little early 
the noise of the teacups might help to wake 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 91 

up my guests, and I felt that a call to tea 
would be a delicate and hospitable way of 
doing It. 

I didn't go through the hall on tiptoe this 
time, but walked naturally; and I opened 
the door into the kitchen rather noisily. 
Ihen I looked round at the sofa to see the 
effect. There wasn't any. 

Presently tea was ready, out on the table 
where we had lunched. At least six times 
1 had been backward and forward through 
the hall, the last twice carrying things that 
rattled and that I encouraged to rattle. But 
on the sofa the strangers slept peacefully on 

There was nothing for it now but to touch 
them Short of that, I didn't think that 
anythmg would wake them. But I don't 
like touching guests; I mean, in between 
whiles. I have never done it. Especially 
not when they weren't looking. And still 
more especially not when they were complete 
strangers. 

Therefore I approached the sofa with 
reluctance, and stood uncertain in front of 
It. Poor things, they really were most com- 
pletely asleep. It seemed a pity to interrupt. 
Well, but they had had a nice rest; they had 
slept soundly now for two hours. And the 



9!^ 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



lil 



tea would be cold if I didn't wake them up, 
and besides, how were they going to get 
home if they didn't start soon? Still, I 
don't like touching guests. Especially strange 
guests. . . . 

Manifestly, however, there was nothing 
else to be done, so I bent over the younger 
one — the other one was too awe-inspiring 
with her handkerchief over her face — and 
gingerly put my hand on her shoulder. 
Nothing happened. 

I put it on again, with a slightly increased 
emphasis. 

She didn't open her eyes, but to my em- 
barrassment laid her cheek on it affection- 
ately and murmured something that sounded 
astonishingly like Siegfried. 

I know about Siegfried, because of going 
to the opera. He was a German. He still 
is, in the form of Siegfried Wagner, and I 
daresay of others; and once somebody told 
me that when Germans wished t.^ indulge 
their disrespect for the Kaiser freely — he was 
not at that time yet an ex-Kaiser — without 
being run in for lese majeste, they loudly and 
openly abused him under the name of 
Siegfried Meye, whose initials, S. M., also 
represent Seine Majest'dt; by which simple 






IN THE .AIOUNTAINS 93 

methods everybody was able to be pleased 
and nobody was able to be hurt. So that 
when my sleeping guest murmured Siegfried, 
I couldn't but conclude she was dreaming of 
a German; and when at the same time she 
laid her cheek on my hand, I was forced to 
realize that she was dreaming of him affec- 
tionately. Which astonished me. 

Imbued with patriotism— the accumulated 
patriotism of weeks spent out of England— 
I felt that this English lady should instantly 
be roused from a dream that did her no 
credit. She herself, I felt sure, would be the 
first to deplore such a dream. So I drew my 
hand away from beneath her cheek— even by 
mistake I didn't like it to be thought the 
hand of somebody called Siegfried— and, 
stooping down, said quite loud and distinctly 
m her ear, "Won't you ccme ij tea.?>" 

This, at last, did wake her. She sat up 
with a start, and looked at me for a moment 
in surprise. 

"Oh," she said, confused, "have I been 
asleep.'*" 

"I'm very glad you have," I said, smiling 
at her, for she was already again smiling at 
me. "Your climb this morning was enough 
to kill you." 



\u 



94 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



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s.t 



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"Oh, but,'* she murmured, getting up 
quickly and straightening her hair, "how 
dreadful to come to your house and go to 
sleep " 

And she turned to the elder one, and again 
astonished me by, with one swift movement, 
twitching the handkerchief off her face and 
saying exactly as one says when playing 
the face-and-handkerchief game with one's 
baby, "Peep bo." Then she turned back to 
me and smiled and said nothing more, for I 
suppose she knew the elder one, roused thus 
competently, would now do all the talking; as 
indeed she did, being as I feared greatly upset 
and horrified when she found she had not only 
been asleep but been it for two hours. 

We had tea; and all the while, while the 
elder one talked of the trouble she was afraid 
she had given, and the shame she felt that 
they should have slept, and their gratitude 
for what she called my prolonged and patient 
hospitality, I was wondering about the other. 
Whenever she caught my pensive and in- 
quiring eye she smiled at me. She had very 
sweet eyes, gray ones, gentle and intelligent, 
and when she smiled an agreeable dimple 
appeared. Bringing my Paley's "Evidences" 
and Sherlock Holmes' side to bear on her, I 






IN THE MOUNTAINS 95 

reasoned that my younger guest was, or had 
been, a mother— this because of the practised 
way she had twitched the handkerchief off 
and said Peep bo; that she was either a 
widow, or hadn't seen her husband for some 
time,— this because of the real affection with 
which in her sleep she had laid her cheek on 
my hand; and that she liked music and often 
went to the opera. 

After tea the elder got up stiffly— she had 
walked much too far already, and was clearly 
unfit to go all that long way more— and said, 
if I would direct them, they must now set out 
for the valley. 

The younger one put on her toque obedi- 
ently at this, and helped the elder one to pin 
hers on straight. It was now five o'clock, 
and if they didn't once lose their way they 
would be at their hotel by half -past seven; 
in time, said the elder, for the end of tahk- 
d'hote, a meal much interfered with by the 
very numerous flies. But if they did go 
wrong at any point it would be much later, 
probably dark. 
I asked them to stay. 

To stay.? The elder, engaged in buttoning 
her tight kid gloves, said it was most kind of 
me, but they couldn't possibly stay any 



m 



III 



\\\ 



96 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

longer. It was far too late already, owing to 

their so unfortunately having gone to sleep 

''I mean stay the night," I said; and ex- 
plained that it would be doing me a kind- 
ness, and because of that they must please 
overlook anything in such an invitation that 
might appear unconventional, for certainly 
if they did set out I should lie awake all night 
thinking of them lost somewhere among the 
precipices, or perhaps fallen over one, and 
how much better to go down comfortably in 
daylight, and I c^-ild lend them everything 
they wanted, incu' . ing a great many new 
toothbrushes I found here— in short, I not only 
mvited, I pressed; growing more eager by the 
sheer gathering momentum of my speech. 

All day, while the elder talked and I 
listened, I had secretly felt uneasy. Here 
was I, one woman in a house arranged for 
family gatherings, while they for want of 
rooms were forced to swelter in the valley. 
Gradually, as I listened, my uneasiness in- 
creased. Presently I began to feel guilty. 
And at last, as I watched them sleeping in 
such exhaustion on the sofa, I felt at the 
bottom of my heart somehow responsible. 
But I don't know, of course, that it is wise to 
invite strangers to stay with one. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



97 



They accepted gratefully. The moment the 
elder understood what it was that my eager 
words were pressing on her, she drew the pins 
out of her toque and laid it on the chair again; 
and so did the other one, smiling at me. 

When the Antoines came home I went out 
to meet them. By that time my guests 
were shut up in their bedrooms with new 
toothbrushes. They had gone up very early, 
both of them so stiff that they could hardly 
walk. Till they did go up, what moments 
I had been able to spare from my hasty 
preparations for their comfort had been filled 
entirely, as earlier in the day, by the elder 
one's gratitude; there had still been no 
chance of real talk. 

"J'ai des visiles,'' I said to the Antoines, 
going out to meet them when, through the 
silence of the evening, I heard their steps 
coming up the path. 

Antoine wasn't surprised. He just said, 

Qa sera comme autrefoisy'' and began to shut 
the shutters. 

But I am. I can't go to bed, I'm so much 
surprised. I've been sitting up here scrib- 
bling when I oughi to have been in bed long 
ago. Who would have thought that the day 
that began so emptily would end with two of 



<( 



98 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



Hi 



If'- 



my rooms fuU-^ach containing a widow? 
I^or they are widows, they told me: widows 
who have lost their husbands by peaceful 
methods, nothing to do with the war. Their 
names are Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Jewks-at 
least that is what the younger one's sounded 
like; I don't know if I have spelt it right. 
They come from Dulwich. I think the elder 
one had a slight misgiving at the last and 
seemed to remember what was due to the 
Lord Mayor when she found herself going to 
bed in a strange house belonging to somebody 
of whom she knew nothing; for she remarked 
a little doubtfully, and with rather a defensive 
eye fixed on me, that the war had broken 
down many barriers, and that people did 
things now that they woulaa't have dreamed 
of doing five years ago. 

The other one didn't say anything, but 
actually kissed me. I hope she wasn't again 
mistaking me for Siegfried. 

August 15tk. 

My guests have gone again, but only to 
fetch their things and pay their hotel bill, 
and then they are coming back to stay with 
me till It IS a Httle cooler. They are coming 
back to-morrow, not to-day. They are 



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IN THE MOUNTAINS 99 

entangled in some arrangement with their 
pension that makes it diflScult for them to 
leave at once. 

Mrs. Barnes appeared at breakfast with 
any misgivings she may have had last night 
gone, for when I suggested they should spend 
this hot weather up here she immediately 
accepted. I hadn't slept for thinking of 
them. How could I possibly not ask them 
to stay, seeing their discomfort and my 
roominess.'* Toward morning it was finally 
clear to me that it wasn't possible: I would 
ask them. Though, remembering the look 
in Mrs. Barnes's eye the last thing last night, 
I couldn't be sure she would accept. She 
might want to find out about me first, after 
the cautious and hampering way of women — 
oh, I wish women wouldn't always be so 
cautious, but simply get on with their friend- 
ships! She might first want assurances that 
there was some good reason for my being 
here all by myself. Alas, there isn't a good 
reason; there is only a bad one. But 
fortunately to be alone is generally regarded 
as respectable, in spite of what Seneca says 
a philosopher said to a young man he saw 
walking by himself: "Have a care," said he, 
*'of lewd company." 



% 



I 



Ml) 



fit; 



IfflJ! 



100 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

knfrT'. \'^'"''' '"PP°^ Mrs. Barnes 
knew about Seneca. Anyhow, she didn't 
hes,tate. She accepted at once, and said 
that under these circumstances it was cer- 

triit ^ -^ " "" ""^ " «*"« -•'-» 

Lord M ' ' ^K* "^ ''"*" '^'''^y '» '°««t the 

^1 ^ ''"^L'I"* """ "" ^ '^»= t°'d ""thing 
more than that my guests are sisters; for at 

Uus point, very soon arrived at, the younger 
one Mrs. Jewks who had slipped away on our 
gettmg up from breakfast, reappeared with the 
toques and gloves, and said she thought they 
had better start before it got any hotter. 

bo they went, and the long day here 
has been most beautiful-so peaceful, so 
quiet, with the delicate mountains like opals 
agamst the afternoon .ky, and the shadows 
lengthenmg along the valley. 

I don't feel to-day as I did yesterday, that 
I want to talk. To-day I am content with 
tlungs exactly as they are: the sun, the 
silence, the caresses of the funny little white 
kitten with the smudge of black round its 
left eye that makes it look as though it 
must be s.mebody's wife, and the pleasant 
knowledge that my new friends are coming 
back again. ^ 



IN THE MOUNTAINS loi 

I think that knowledge makes to-day more 
precious. It is the last day for some time, 
for at least a week judging from the look of 
the blazmg sky, of what I see now that they are 
ending have been wonderful days. Up the 
ladder of these days I have climbed slowly 
away from the blackness at the bottom. 
It has been like finding some steps under 
water just as one was drowning, and crawling 
up them to air and light. But now that I 
have got at least most of myself back to air 
and light, and feel hopeful of not slipping 
down agam, it is surely time to arise, shake 
myself, and begin to do something active and 
fruitful. And behold, just as I realize this, 
just as I realize that I am, so to speak, ripe 
for fruit-bearing, there appear on the scene 
Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Jewks, as it were the 
midwives of Providence. 

Well, that shall be to-morrow. Meanwhile 
there is still to-day, and each one of its quiet 
hours seems very precious. I wonder what 
my new friends like to read. Suppose— I 
was going to say suppose it is "The Rosary"; 
but I won't suppose that, for when it comes 
to supposing, why not suppose something that 
isn't "The Rosary.^" Why not, for instance, 
suppose they like "Eminent Victorians," and 






102 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

that we three are going to sit of an evening 
delicately tickling each other with quotations 
from It, and gently squirming in our seats 
for pleasure? It is just as easy to suppose 
that as to suppose anything else, and as Vm 
not yet acquainted with these ladies' tastes 
one supposition is as likely to be right as 
another. 

I don't know, though— I forgot their petti- 
coats. I can't believe any friends of Mr. 
Lytton Strachey wear that kind of petti- 
coat, eminently Victorian even though it 
be; and although he wouldn't, of course, 
have direct ocular proof that they did unless 
he had stood with me yesterday at the bottom 
of that wall while they on the top held up 
their skirts, still what one has on underneath 
does somehow ooze through into one's be- 
haviour. I know once, when impelled by 
a heat wave in America to cast aside the 
undergarments of a candid mind and buy 
and put on pink chiffon, the pink chiffon 
instantly got through all my clothes into 
my conduct, which became curiously dash- 
mg. Anybody can tell what a woman has 
got on underneath by merely watching her 
behaviour. I have known just the con- 
sciousness of silk stockings, worn by one 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 103 

accustomed only to wool, produce dictatorial- 
ness where all before had been submission. 

August 19th. 

I haven't written for three days because 
I have been so busy settling down to my 
guests. 

They call each other Kitty and Dolly. 
They explained that these were inevitably 
their names because they were born, one 
fifty, the other forty years ago. I inquired 
why this was inevitable, and they drew my 
attention to fashions in names, asserting that 
people's ages could generally be guessed by 
their Christian names. If, they said, their 
birth had taken place ten years earlier they 
would have been Ethel and Maud; :f ten 
years later they would have been Muriel and 
Gladys; and if twenty years only ago they 
had no doubt but what they would have been 
Elizabeth and Pamela. It is always Mrs. 
Barnes who talks; but the eflFect is as though 
they together were telling me things, because 
of the way Mrs. Jewks smiles— I conclude 
in agreement. 

"Our dear parents, both long since dead," 
said Mrs. Barnes, adjusting her eyeglasses 
more comfortably on her nose, "didn't seem 



II 



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104 IN THE IVrOUNTAINS 

lo remember that we would ever grow old. 
for we weren't even christened Katherine and 
IJorothy, to which ive mi^ht have reverted 
when we ceased being girls, but we were 
Kitty and Dolly from the very beginning, 
and actually in that condition came away 
from the font." ^ 

"I like being Dolly," murmured Mrs. 
Jewks. 

Mrs. Barnes looked at her with what I 
thought was a slight uneasiness, and rebuked 
iier. -You shouldn't," she said. "After 
Uurty-nme no woman should willingly be 

"I still feel exactly like Dolly," murmured 
Mrs. Jewks. 

"It's a misfortune," said Mrs. Barnes, 
shakmg her head. -'To be called Dolly after 
a certam age is bad enough, but it is far 
worse to feel like it. What I think of," she 
said, turning to me, "is when we are really 
old~m bath chairs, unable to walk, and no 
doubt being spoon fed, yet obliged to con- 
tinue to be called by these names. It will 
rob us of dignity." 

"I don't think I'll mind," murmured Mrs 
e/ewks. "I shall still feel exactly like Dolly '» 

Mrs. Barnes looked at her, again I thought 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 105 

with uneasiness— with, really, an air of rather 
anxious responsihility. 

And afterward, when her sister had gone 
indoors for something, she expounded a 
theory she said she held, the soundness of 
which had often been proved to her by events, 
that names had much influence on behaviour! 
"Not half as much," I thought (but didn't 
say), "as underclothes." And indeed I have 
for years been acquainted with somebody 
called Trixy, who for steady gloom and heavi- 
ness of spirit would be hard to equal. Also 
I know an Isolda; a most respectable married 
woman, of a sprightly humour and much 
nimbleness in dodging big emotions. 

"Dolly," said Mrs. Barnes, "has ne [ 

am sorry to say, shared my opinion. If si.e 
had, many things in her life would have been 
different, for then she would have been on 
her guard as I have been. I am glad to say 
there is nothing I have ever done since I 
ceased to be a child that has been even re- 
motely compatible with being called Kitty." 

I said I thought that was a great deal to 
be able to say. It suggested, I said, quite 
an unusually blameless past. Through my 
brain ran for an instant the vision of that 
devil who, seeking his tail, met Antoine in 



106 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 






t 



y 



Im' 1 



the passage. I blushed. Fortunately Mrs. 
Barnes didn't notice. 

"What did Dol— what did Mrs. Jewks do," 
I said, "that you think was the direct result 
of her Christian name.'^ Don't tell me if my 
question is indiscreet, which I daresay it is, 
because I know I often am, but your theory 
interests me." 

Mrs. Barnes hesitated a moment. She 
was, I think, turning over in her mind 
whether she would give herself the relief of 
<^omplete unreserve, or continue for a few 
more days to skim round on the outskirts of 
confidences. This was yesterday. After all, 
she had only been with me two days. 

She considered awhile, then decided that 
two days wasn't long enough, so only said: 
*'My sister is sometimes a little rash — or 
perhaps I should say has been. But the 
effects of rashness are felt for a long time; 
usually for the rest of one's life." 

"Yes," I agreed; and thought ruefully of 
some of my own. 

This, however, only made me if anything 
more inquisitive as to the exact nature and 
quality of Dolly's resemblance to her name. 
We all, I suppose (except Mrs. Barnes, who 
I am sure hasn't), have been rash, and if we 



if ! 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



107 



could induce ourselves to be frank much 
innocent amusement might be got by com- 
paring the results of our rashnesses. But Mrs. 
Barnes was unable at the moment to induce 
herself to be frank, and she returned to the sub- 
ject she has already treated very fully since her 
arrival, the wonderful bracing air up here 
and her great and grateful appreciation of it. 

To-day is Tuesday; and on Saturday even- 
ing — the day they arrived back again, com- 
plete with their luggage, which came up 
in a cart round by the endless zigzags of the 
road while they with their peculiar dauntless- 
ness took the steep short cuts — we had what 
might be called an exchange of cards. Mrs. 
Barnes told me what she thought fit for me 
to know about her late husband, and I 
responded by telling her and her sister what 
I thought fit for them to know of my uncle 
the Dean. 

There is such a lot of him that is fit to 
know that it took some time. He was a 
great convenience. How glad I am I've got 
him. A dean, after all, is of an impressive 
respectability as a relation. His apron covers 
a multitude of family shortcomings. You 
can hold him up to the light, and turn him 
round, and view him from every angle, and 



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108 



IN IHE MOUNTAINS 



there is nothing about him that doesn't bear 
inspection. All my relations aren't like that. 
One at least, though he denies it, wasn't even 
born in wedlock. We're not sure about the 
others, but we're quite sure about this one, 
that he wasn't born altogether as he ought 
to have been. Except for his obstinacy in 
denial he is a very attractive person. My 
uncle can't be got to see that he exists. This 
makes him not able to like my uncle. 

I didn't go beyond the Dean on Saturday 
night, for he had a most satisfying effect 
on my new friends. Mrs. Barnes evidently 
thinks highly of deans, and Mrs. Jewks, 
though she said nothing, smiled very pleas- 
antly while I held him up to view. No 
Lord Mayor was produced on their side. I 
begin to think there isn't one. I begin to 
think their self-respect is simply due to the 
consciousness that they are British. Not 
that Mrs. Jewks says anything about it, 
but she smiles while Mrs. Barnes talks on 
immensely patriotic lines. I gather they 
haven't been in England for some time, so 
that naturally their affection for their country 
has been fanned into a great glow. I know 
all about that sort of glow. I have had it. 
each time I've been out of England. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



109 



August Wth. 

Mrs. Barnes elaborated the story of him 
she speaks of always as Mr. Barnes to- 
day. 

He was, she said, a business man, and went 
to the city every day, where he did things 
with hides: dried skins, I understood, that 
he bought and resold. And though Mr. 
Barnes drew hi« sustenance from these hides 
with what seemed to Mrs. Barnes great ease 
and abundance while he was alive, after his 
death it was iound that, through no fault of 
his own but rather, she suggested, to his 
credit, he had for some time past been living 
on his capital. This capital came to an end 
almost simultaneously with Mr. Barnes, and 
all that was left for Mrs. Barnes to live 
on was the house at Dulwich, handsomely 
furnished, it was true, with everything of the 
best; for Mr. Barnes had disliked what Mrs. 
Barnes called fandangles, and was all for 
mahogany and keeping a good table. But 
you can't live on mahogany, said Mrs. 
Barnes, nor keep a good table with nothing 
to keep it on, so she wished to sell the 
house and retire into obscurity on the pro- 
ceeds. Her brother-in-law, however, sug- 
gested paying guests; so would she be able to 



hm 



no IN THE MOUNTAINS 

continue in her home, even if on a slightly 
different basis. Many people at that period 
were beginning to take in paying guests, 
bhe would not, he thought, lose caste. Es- 
pecially if she restricted herself to real gentle- 
folk, who wouldn't allow her to feel her 
position. 

It was a little difficult at first, but she got 
used to it and was doing very well when the 
war broke out. Then, of course, she had to 
stand by Dolly. So she gave up her house 
and guests, and her means were now very 
small; for somehow, remarked Mrs. Barnes, 
directly one wants to sell nobody seems to 
want to buy, and she had had to let her 
beautiful house go for very little 

"But why " I interrupted; and pulled 

myself up. 

I was just going to ask why Dolly hadn't 
gone to Mrs. Barnes and helped with the 
paying guests, instead of Mrs. Barnes giving 
them up and going to Dolly; but I stopped 
because I thought perhaps such a question, 
seeirt that they quite remarkably refrain 
from asking me questions, might have been 
a little indiscreet at our present stage of 
intimacy. No, I can't call it intimacy- 
friendship, then. No, I can't call it friend- 



li 



IN THE MOUNTAINS ill 

ship either, yet; the only word at present is 
acquaintanceship. 

August 9>\st, 

The conduct of my guests is so extraor- 
dinarily discreet, their careful avoidance 
of curiosity, of questions, is so remarkable, 
that I can but try to imitate. They haven't 
asked me a single thing. I positively thrust 
the Dean on them. They make no comment 
on anything, either, except the situation and 
the view. We seem to talk if not only 
certainly chiefly about that. We haven't 
even got to books yet. I still don't know 
about "The Rosary." Once or twice when I 
have been alone with Mrs. Barnes she has 
begun to talk of Dolly, who appears to fill 
most of her thoughts, but each time she has 
broken off in the middle and resumed her 
praises of the situation and the view. I 
haven't been alone at all yet with Dolly; 
nor, though Mr. Barnes has been dwelt upon 
in detail, have I been told anything about 
Mr. Jewks. 



August 2^nd. 

Impetuosity sometimes gets the better of 
me, and out begins to rush a question; but 



IJ! 



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112 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

up to now I b^.ve succeeded in catching it 
and strangling it before it is complete. For 
perhaps my new friends have been very 
unhappy, just as I have been very unhappy 
and they may be struggling out of it just as 
1 am, still with places in their memories that 
hurt too much for them to dare to touch. 
Perhaps it is only by silence and reserve that 
they can manage to be brave. 

There are no signs, though, of anything of 
the sort on their composed faces; but then 
neither, I think, woul(i they see any signs of 
such things on mine. The moment as it 
passes is, I find, somehow a gay thing. Some- 
body says something amusing, and I laugh- 
somebody is kind, and I am happy. Just the 
smell of a flower, the turn of a sentence, any- 
thing, the littlest thing, is enough to make the 
passing moment gay to me. I am sure my 
guests can't tell by looking at me that I have 
ever been anything but cheerful; and so I, by 
looking at them, wouldn't be able to say that 
they have ever been anything but composed— 
Mrs. Barnes composed and grave, Mrs. Jewks 
composed and smiling. 

But I refuse now to jump at conclusions in 
the nimble way I used to. Even about 
Mrs. Barnes, who would seem to be an 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 113 

untouched monument of tranquillity, a cave 
of calm memories, I can no longer he sure. 
And so we sit together quietly on the terrace, 
and are as presentable as so many tidy, white- 
curtained houses in a decent street. We 
don't know what we've got inside us each of 
disorder, of discomfort, of anxieties. Per- 
haps there is nothing; perhaps my friends 
are as tidy and quiet inside as out. Any- 
how up to now we have kept ourselves to 
ourselves, as Mrs. Barnes would say, and we 
make a most creditable show. 

Only I don't believe in that keeping oneself 
to oneself attitude. Life is too brief to waste 
any of it being slow in making friends. I 
have a theory— Mrs. Barnes isn't the only 
one of us three who has theories— that 
reticence is a stuffy, hampering thing. Ex- 
cept about one's extremest bitter grief, which 
is, like one's extremest joy of love, too deeply 
hidden away with God to be told of, one 
should be without reserves. And if one 
makes mistakes, and if the other person turns 
out to have been unworthy of being treated 
frankly and goes away and distorts, it can't 
be helped— one just takes the risk. For 
isn't anything better than distrust— and the 
slowness and selfish fear of caution? Isn't 



114 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

anything better than not doing one's fellow 
creatures the honour of taking it for granted 
that they are, women and all, gentlemen? 
iSesides, how lonely . . 

August 23rrf. 

The sun goes on blazing, and we go on 
sittmg m the shade in a row. 

Mrs. Barnes does a great deal of knitting. 
bhe knits socks for soldiers all day. She got 
into this habit during the war, when she sent 
I don't know how many pairs a year to the 
trenches, and now she can't stop. I suppose 
these will go to charitable institutions, for al- 
though the war has left off there are, as Mrs 
Jewks justly said, still legs in the world. This 

^T""^ I *^'''^ ''^^^ "'^^^'' the heading 
Dolly m Mrs. Barnes's mind, for she let her 
glance rest a moment on her sister in a kind 
of affectionate concern. 

Mrs. Jewks hasn't said much yet, but each 
time she has said anything I have liked it. 
lisually she murmurs, almost as if she didn't 
want Mrs. Barnes to hear, yet couldn't help 
saying what she says. She, too, knits, but 
only, I think, because her sister likes to see 
her sitting beside her doing it, and never 
for long at a time. Her chief occupation, I 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 115 

have discovered, is to read aloud to Mrs. 
Barnes. 

This wasn't done in my presence the first 
four days out of consideration for me for 
everybody doesn't like being read to, Mrs. 
Barnes explained afterward; but they went 
upstairs after lunch to their rooms— to sleep, 
as I supposed, knowing how well they do that,' 
and it was only gradually that I realized,' 
from the monotonous gentle drone coming 
through the window to where I lay below on 
the grass, that it wasn't Mrs. Barnes giving long 
drawn-out counsel to Mrs. Jewks on the best 
way to cope with the dangers of being Dolly, 
but that it was Mrs. Jewks reading aloud. 

After that I suggested they should do this 
on the terrace, where it is so much cooler 
than anywhere else in the afternoon; so 
now, reassured that it in no way disturbs me 
■—Mrs. Barnes's politeness and sense of duty 
as a guest never flags for a moment— this is 
what happens, and it happens in the mornings 
also. For, says Mrs. Barnes, how much better 
It is to study what persons of note have said 
thai, waste the hours of life saying things 
oneself. 

They read biographies and histories, but 
only those, I gather, that are not recent; 



PI 

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116 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

and sometimes. Mrs. Barnes said, they lighten 
what Mrs. Jewks described in i mumur « 
these more sohd forms of fiction by reading 
a really good novel. * 

I asked Mrs. Barnes with much interest 
about the novel. What were the really good 
ones they had read? And I hung on the 
answer for here was something we could talk 
about that wasn't either the situation or the 
view and yet was discreet. 

"Ah," she said, shaking her head, "there 
are veiy few really good novels. We don't 
care, of course, except for the veiy best 

days?''^ '^""'' ^""^^ *» ^ printeZnowal 
"I expect the very best are unprintable " 
murmured Mrs. Jewk., her head bent ov^r 
her knittmg, for it was one of the moments 
.fl ' *°°' "^^^ engaged on socks. 
There used to be veiy good novels," 
continued Mrs. Barnes, who hadn't I think 
heard her, "but of recent years they have 
indeed been few.. I begin to fear we S 
never agam see a Thackeray or a Trollope. 
And yet I have a theory-and surely these 
two wnters prove it-that it is possible to be 
both wholesome and clever." 

"I don't want to see any more Thackerays 



IN TIIE MOUNTAINS 117 

and Trollopes," murmured Mrs. Jewks. "IVe 
seen them. Now I want to see somcthinff 
different." 

This sentence was too long for Mrs. Barnes 
not to notice, and she looked at me as one 
who should say, "There. What did I tell 
you.* Her name unsettles her.*' 

There was a silence. 

"Our father,*' then said Mrs. Barnes, with 
so great a gravity of tone that for a moment 
I thought she was unaccountably and at 
eleven o'clock in the morning going to em- 
bark on the Lord's Prayer, "knew Thackeray. 
He mixed with him." 

And as I wasn't quite sure whether this 
was a rebul » for Dolly or information for me, 
I kept quie. . 

As, however, Mrs. Barnes didn't continue, 
I began to feel that perhaps I was expected 
to say something. So I did. 

'That," I said, "must have been very " 

I searched round for an enthusiastic word, 
but couldn't find oae. It is unfortunate 
how I can never think of any words more 
enthusiastic than what I am feeling. They 
seem to disappear; and urged by politeness, 
or a desire to please, I frantically hunt for 
them in a perfectly empty mind. The near- 



118 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



(!'■ ^-' 



m 

1:11 



est approach to one that I found this morn- 
ing was Enjoyable. I don't think much of 
Enjoyable. It is a watery word; but it 
was all I found, so I said it. "That must 
have been very enjoyable," I said; and even 
I could hear that my voice was without 
excitement. 

Mrs. Jewks looked at me and smiled. 

"It was more than enjoyable," said Mrs. 
Barnes, "it was elevating. Dolly used to 
feel just as I do about it," she added, her 
eye reproachfully on her sister. "It is 
not Thackeray's fault that she no longer 
does." 

"It's only because I've finished with him," 
said Mrs. Jewks, apologetically. "Now I 
want something different" 

"Dolly and I," explained Mrs. Barnes to 
me, "don't always see alike. I have a theory 
that one doesn't finish with the Immortals." 

"Would you put Thackeray " I began, 

diffidently. 

Mrs. Barnes stopped me at once. 

"Our father," she said — again my hands 
instinctively wanted to fold— "who was an 
excellent judge, indeed a specialist if I may 
say so, placed him among the Immortals. 
Therefore I am content to leave him there." 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



119 



"But isn't that filial piety rather than—" 
I began again, still diffident but also obstinate. 

"In any case/* interrupted Mrs. Barnes, 
raising her hand as though I were the traffic, 
" I shall never forget the influence he and the 
other great writers of the period had upon the 
boys." 

"The boys?" I couldn't help inquiring, 
in spite of this being an interrogation. 

"Our father educated boys. On an unusual 
and original system. Being devoid of the 
classics, which he said was all the better 
because then he hadn't to spend any time 
remembering them, he was a devoted Eng- 
lish linquist. Accordingly he taught boys 
English — foreign boys, because English boys 
naturally know it already, and his method 
was to make them minutely acquainted with 
the great novels — the great wholesome novels 
of that period. Not a French, or Dutch, or 
Italian boy but went home " 

"Or German," put in Mrs. Jewks. "Most 
of them were Germans." 

Mrs. Barnes turned red. "Let us forget 
them," she said, with a wave of her hand. 
"It is my earnest desire," she continued, 
looking at me, "to forget Germans." 

"Do let us," I said, politely. 



•■^^M. 



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120 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

"Not one of the boys," she then went on, 
but returned to his country with a knowl- 
edge of the colloquial English of the best 
period, and of the noble views of that period 
as expressed by the noblest men, unobtain- 
able by any other method. Our father called 
himself a Non -Grammarian. The boys went 
home knowing no rules of grammar, yet 
unable to talk incorrectly. Thackeray him- 
self was the grammar, and his characters the 
teachers. And so was Dickens, but not 
quite to the same extent, because of people 
like Sam Weller who might have taught 
the boys slang. Thackeray was immenselv 
interested when our father wrote and told 
him about the school, and once when he was 
in London he invited him to lunch." 

Not quite clear as to who was in London 
and which invited which, I said, "Who.?" 

"It was our father who went to London," 
said Mrs. Barnes, "and was most kindly 
entertained by Thackeray." 

"He went because he wasn't there already," 
explained Mrs. Jewks. 

"Dolly means," said Mrs. Barnes, "that he 
did not live in London. Our father was an 
Oxford man. Not in the narrow, technical 
meaning that has come to be attached to the 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



121 



term, but in the simple, natural sense of living 
there. It was there that we were born, and 
there that we grew up in an atmosphere of 
education. We saw it all roujiJ us going on 
in the different colleges, j nd we sa v it in 
detail and at first hand \a our ow.i home. 
For we, too, were brought up on Thackeray 
and Dickens, in whom our father said we 
would find everything girls needed to know 
and nothing that they had better not." 

"I used to have a perfect itch,'' murmured 
Mrs. Jewks, "to know the things I had better 
not." 

And Mrs. Barnes again looked at me as one 
who should say, "There. What did I tell 
you? Such a word, too. Itch." 

There was a silence. I could think of 
nothing to say that wouldn't appear either 
inquisitive or to be encouraging Dolly. 

Mrs. P irnes sits between us. This arrange- 
ment of our chairs on the grass happened 
apparently quite naturally the first day, and 
now has become one that I feel I mustn't 
disturb. For me to drop into the middle 
chair would somehow now be impossible. 
It is Mrs. Barnes's place. Yet I do want to 
sit next to Mrs. Jewks and talk to her. Or, 
better still, go for a walk with her. But 



122 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



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Mrs. Bames always goes for the walks, either 
with or without me, but never without 
Mrs. Jewks. She hasn't yet left us once 
alone together. If anything needs fetching 
it is Mrs. Jewks who fetches it. They don't 
seem to want to write letters, but if they did 
I expect they would both go in to write them 
at the same time. 

I do think, though, that we are growing a 
little more intimate At least to-day we 
have talked of something that vasn't the 
view. I shouldn't be surprised if in another 
week, supposing the hot weather lasts so long, 
I shall be asking Mrs. Barnes outright what 
it is Dolly did that has apparently so per- 
manently unnerved her sister. 

But suppose she retaliated by asking me — 
oh, there are so many things she could ask 
me that I couldn't answer! Except with 
the shameful, exposing answer of beginning 
very helplessly to cry. . . . 



August 2M. 

Last night I ran after Mrs. Jewks just as 
she was disappearing into her room and said, 
"I'm going to call you Dolly. I don't like 
Jewks. How do you spell it.?" 

"What— Dolly.?" she asked, smiling. 



9 

3 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 123 

"No— Jewks." 

But Mrs. Barnes came out of her bedroom 
and said, "Did we forget to bid you good- 
night? How very remiss of us." 

AnrI we all smiled at each other, and went 
into our rooms, and shut the doors. 

August ^5th. 

The behaviour of time is a surprising thing. 
I can't think how it manages to make weeks 
sometimes seem like minutes and days some- 
times seem like years. Those weeks I was 
here alone seemed not longer than a few 
mmutes. These days since my guests came 
seem to have gone on for months. 

I suppose it is because they have been so 
tightly packed. Nobody coming up the path 
and seeing the three figures sitting quietly on 
the terrace, the middle one knitting, the right- 
hand one reading aloud, the left-hand one 
sunk apparently in stupor would guess that 
these creatures' days were packed. Many 
an honest slug stirred by creditable desires 
has looked more animate than we. Yet the 
days are packed. Mine, at any rate, are- 
packed tight with an immense monotony. 

Every day we do exactly the same things: 
breakfast, read aloud; lunch, read aloud; 



1^4 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



iH 



■ i i 



fi I 



l.H I 



H. 'i 



H'-l 



I- ! 
.' I 

i 

M 



tea, go for a walk; supper, read aloud; exhaus- 
tion; bed. How quick and short it is to 
write down, and how endless to live. At 
meals we talk, and on the walk we talk, or 
rather we say things. At meals the things 
we say are about food, and on the walk they 
are about mountains. The rest of the time 
we don't talk, because of the reading aloud. 
That fills up every gap; that muzzles all 
conversation. 

I don't know whether Mrs. Barnes is afraid 
I'll ask questions, or whether she is afraid 
Dolly will start answering questions that I 
haven't a^iked; I only know that she seems 
to have decided that safety lies in putting 
an extinguisher on talk. At the same time 
she is most earnest in her endeavours to be 
an agreeable guest, and is all politeness; 
but so am I, most earnest for my part in my 
desire lo be an agreeable hostess, and we are 
both so dreadfully polite and so horribly 
considerate that things end by being exactly 
as I would prefer them not to be. 

For instance, finding Merivale — it is Mer- 
ivale's "History of the Romans under the 
Empire" that is being read— finding him too 
much like Gibbon gone sick and filled with 
water, a Gibbon with all the kick taken out 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 125 

of him, shorn of his virility and his foot-notes, 
yesterday I didn't go and sit on the terrace 
after breakfast, but took a volume of the 
authentic Gibbon and departed by the back 
door for a walk. 

It is usually, I know, a bad sign when a 
hostess begins to use the back door, but it 
wasn't a sign of anything in this case except 
a great desire to get away from Merivale. 
After lunch, when, strengthened by my 
morning, I prepared to listen to some more 
of him, I found the chairs on the terrace 
empty, and from the window of Mrs. Barnes's 
room floated down the familiar, muffled drone 
of the first four days. 

So then I went for another walk, and 
thought. And the result was polite, affec- 
tionate protests at tea-time, decorated with 
some amiable untruths about domestic afl'airs 
having called me away— God forgive me, 
but I believe I said it was the laundress— and 
such real distress on Mrs. Barnes's part at 
the thought of having driven me off my own 
terrace, that now so as to shield her from 
thinking anything so painful to her I must 
needs hear Merivale to the end. 

** Dolly," I said, meeting her by some 
strange chance alone on the stairs going 



126 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



.'jjji , 



in 



I 



f J; 



down to supi>er — invariably the sisters go 
down together — "do you Hke reading aloud?'* 

I said it very quickly and under my breath, 
for at the bottom of the stairs would certainly 
be Mrs. Barnes. 

*' No," she said, also under her breath. 

*'Then why do you do it?" 

"Do you like listening?" she whispered, 
smiling. 

"No," I said. 

"Then why do you do it?" 

" Because " I said. " Well, because " 

She nodded and smiled. "Yes," she whis- 
pered, "that's my reason, too." 

August 26th. 

All day to-day I have emptied myself of 
any wishes of my own and tried to be the 
perfect hostess. I have given myself up to 
Mrs. Barnes, and on the walk I followed 
where she led, and I made no suggestions 
when paths crossed thDugh I have secret 
passionate preferences in paths, and I rested 
on the exact spot she chose in spite of know- 
ing there was a much prettier one just round 
the corner, and I joined with her in admiring a 
view I didn't really like. In fact, I merge-^ 
myself in Mrs. Barnes, sitting by her on the 



v'lM 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 127 

mountain side in much the spirit of Words- 
worth when he sat by his cottage fire without 
ambition, hope, or aim. 

August 27th. 

The weather blazes along in its hot beauty. 
Each morning, the first thing I see when I 
open my eyes is the great patch of golden 
light on the wall near my bed that means 
another perfect day. Nearly always the sky 
is cloudless — a deep, incredible blue. Once 
or twice, when I have gone quite early to my 
window toward the east, I have seen what 
looked to my sleepy eyes like a flock of little 
angels floating slowly along the tops of the 
mountains, or at any rate, if not the angels 
themselves, delicate bright tufts of feathers 
pulled out of their wings. These objects, 
on waking up more completely, I have per- 
ceived to be clouds; and then I have thought 
that perhaps that day there would be 
rain. But there never has been rain. The 
clouds have floated slowly away to Italy, and 
left us to another day of intense, burning 
heat. 

I don't believe the weather will ever break 
up. Not anyhow for a long time. Not any- 
how before I have heard Merivale to the end. 



128 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



|i;l 



3 t i 
1' I 



i-r! 



?ii 



!i 



iii 



In the morning when I get up and go and 
look out of my window at the splendid east 
I don't care about Merivale. I defy him. 
And I make up my mind that though my 
body may be present at the reading of him 
so as to avoid distress ag Mrs. Barnes and 
driving her off the terrace — we are minute 
in our care not to drive each other off the 
terrace — my ears shall be deaf to him and 
my imagination shall wander. Who is Mer- 
ivale, that he shall burden my memory 
with even shreds of his unctuous imitations? 
And I go down to breakfast with a fortified 
and shining spirit, as one who has arisen 
refreshed and determined from prayer, and 
out on the terrace I do shut my ears. But I 
think there must be chinks in them, for 
I find my mind is much hung about, after 
all, with Merivale. Bits of him. Bits like 
this: 

Propertius is deficient in that light touch and 
exquisitely polished taste which volatilize the 
sensuality and flattery of Horace. The play- 
fulness of the Sabine bard is that of tJw lapdog^ 
while the Umbrian reminds us of the pranks of 
a clumsier and less tolerated quadruped. 

This is what you write if you want to write 



I 

9 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



129 



3 



like Gibbon, and yet remain at the same 
time a rector and chaplain to the Speaker 
of the House of Commons; and this bit kept 
on repeating itself in my head like a tune 
during luncheon to-day. It worried me that 
I couldn't decide what the clumsier and less 
tolerated quadruped was. 

"A donkey," said Mrs. Je vks, on my asking 
my guests what they thought. 

"Surely, yes — an ass," said Mrs. Barnes, 
whose words are always picked. 

"But why should a donkey be less tolerated 
than a lapdog?" I asked. "I would tolerate 
it more. If I might tolerate only one, it 
would certainly be the donkey." 

"Perhaps he means a flea," suggested 
Mrs. Jewks. 

"Dolly," said Mrs. Barnes. 

"But fleas do go in for pranks, and are less 
tolerated than lapdogs," said Mrs. Jewks. 

"Dolly," said Mrs. Barnes again. 

"Except that," I said, not heeding Mrs. 
Barnes for a moment in my pleasure at 
having got away from the usual luncheon- 
table talk of food, "haven't fleas got more 
than four legs?" 

"That's centipedes," said Dolly. 
'Then it's two legs that they've got.' 



<() 



»> 



130 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



'if 



Mr 

tl :i 



"That's birds/' said Dolly. 

We looked at each other and began to 
laugh. It was the first time we had laughed, 
and once we had begun we laughed and 
laughed, in that foolish way one does about 
completely idiotic things when one knows one 
oughtn't to and hasn't for a long while. 

There sat Mrs. Barnes, straight and rocky, 
with worried eyes. She never smiled; and 
indeed why should she. But the more she 
didn't smile the more we laughed — helplessly, 
ridiculously. It was dreadful to laugh, dread- 
ful to mention objects that distressed her 
as vulgar; and because it was dreadful and 
we knew it was dreadful, we couldn't stop. 
So was I once overcome with deplorable 
laughter in church, only because a cat came 
in. So have I 3een an ill-starred woman fall a 
prey to unseasonable mirth at a wedding. We 
laughed positively to tears. W^e couldn't 
stop. I did try to. I was really greatly 
ashamed. For I was doing what I now feel 
in all my bones is the thing Mrs. Barnes 
dreads most — I was encouraging Dolly. 

Afterward, when we had settled down to 
Merivale, and Dolly finding she had left the 
book upstairs went in to fetch it, I begged 
Mrs. Barnes to believe that I wasn't often 



I 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



131 



quite so silly and didn*t suppose I would be 
like that again. 

She was very kh«d, and laid her hand for a 
moment on mine — such a bony hand, marked 
all over, I thought as I looked down at it, 
with the traces of devotion and self-sacrifice. 
That hand had never had leisure to get fat. 
It may have had it in the spacious days of 
Mr. Barnes, but the years afterward had 
certainly been lean ones; and since the war, 
since the selling of her house and the begin- 
ning of the evidently wearing occupation of 
what she had called standing by Dolly, the 
years, I understand, have been so lean that 
they were practically bone. 

"I think," she said, **I have perhaps got 
into the way of being too serious. It is 
because Dolly, I consider, is not serious 
enough. If she were more so I would be less 
so, and that would be better for us both. 
Oh, you mustn't suppose," she added, "that 
I cannot enjoy a joke as merrily as anybody." 
And she smiled broadly and amazingly at 
me, the rockiest, most determined smile. 

"There wasn't any joke, and we were just 
absurd," I said, penitently, in my turn lay- 
ing my hand on hers. "Forgive me. I'm 
always sorry and ashamed when I have 



11 > '! 



iifl 



J32 IN THE J J.VTAINS 

behaved as though I were ten. I do try not 

"Dolly is a little old to behave as ihouah 

"^'"^. ''"> " "ttle old, too. Ifs very 
are outs.de For years IVe been trying to 

Mrs. Barnes looked grave. 

"That is what is the matter with Do'lv " 

V T''-,. '^"^* *•«"• "»'- strange that 
you should have met. For it i.nt usual 

I cannot believe it is usual. All her roublet 
have been caused by it. I do not. however 
I h! .'*"!. r"™'''^- On the ^ont'ait^ 
ie«e7thanst'r.^'"-'^''-'^^''«^-«ch 

book under her arm and that funny ^tle air 
of jauntmess that triumphs when she "^it 
over her sobering black skirt and ;.hite cotton 
peu^oat prevented my getting an ansS 
But I felt m great sympathy with Mrs. 



i 

h 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 133 

Barnes. And when, starting for our walk 
after tea, something happened to Dolly's 
boot—I think the heel came off— and she had 
to turn back, I gladly went on alone with 
her Hster, hoping that perhaps she would 
continue to talk on these more intimate lines. 
And so she did. 

"Dolly," she said almost immediately, 
almost before we had got round the turn of 
the path, "is the object of my tenderest 
solicitude and love." 

"I know. I see that," I said, sympathet- 
ically. 

"She was the object of my love from the 
moment when she was laid, a new-born baby, 
in the arms of the little ten-year-old girl I 
was then, and she became, as she grew up 
and developed the characteristics I associate 
with her name, the object of my solicitude. 
Indeed, of my concern." 

"I wish," I said, as she stopped and I began 
to be afraid this once more was to be all and 
the shutters were going to be shut again, 
"we might be real friends." 

"Are we not.?" asked Mrs. Barnes, looking 
anxious, as though she feared she had failed 
somewhere in her duties as a guest. 

**0h, yes— we are friends, of course, but I 



b< 



m 



i 



134 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

meant by real friends people who talk to- 
gether about anything and everything. Al- 
most anything and everything," I amended. 
*' People who tell each other things," I went 
on, hesitatingly. *'Most things," I amended. 
"I have a great opinion of discretion," said 
Mrs. Barnes. 

"I am sure you have. But don't you 
think that sometimes the very essence of real 
friendship consists in " 

**Mr. Barnes always had his own dressing- 
room." 

This was unexpected and it silenced me. 
After a moment I said, lamely, "I'm sure he 
did. But you were saying about Dol— 
about Mrs. Jewks " 

"Yes." Mrs. Barnes sighed. "Well, it 

cannot harm you or her," she went on after a 

pause, "for me to tell you that the first thing 

Dolly did as soon as she was grown up was 

to make an impetuous marriage." 

"Isn't that rather what most of us begin 
with?" 

" Few are so impetuous. Mine, for instance, 
was not. Mine was the considered union of 
affection with regard, entered into properly 
in the eye of all men, and accompanied by the 
good wishes of relations and friends. Dolly's 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



135 



— well, Dolly's was impetuous. I cannot 
say ill-advised, because she asked no one's 
advice. She plunged — it is not too strong a 
word, and unfortunately can be applied to 
some of her subsequent movements — into 
a misalliance, and in order to contract it 
she let herself down secretly at night from 
her bedroom window by means of a sheet." 

Mrs. Barnes paused. 

"How very — how very spirited," I couldn't 
help murmuring. 

Indeed I believe I felt a little jealous. 
Nothing in my own past approaches this in 
enterprise. And I not only doubted if I 
would ever have had the courage to commit 
myself to a sheet, but I felt a momentary 
vexation that no one had ever suggested that 
on his account I should. Compared to Dolly, 
I am a poor thing. 

"So you can understand," continued Mrs. 
Barnes, "how earnestly I wish to keep my 
sister to lines of normal conduct. She has 
been much punished for her departures from 
them. I am very anxious that nothing should 
be said to her that might seem — well, that 
might seem to be even slightly in sympathy 
with actions or ways of looking at life that 
have in the past brought her unhappiness. 



! ' 



IIP I 



136 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

and can only in the future bring her yet 
more. "^ 

sheet, d.dn't she go out to be married 
through the front door?" 

"Because our father would never have 
allowed his front door to be used for such a 
marnage. You forget that it was a school, 
and she was running away with somebody 
who up till a year or two previously had been 
one of the pupils." 

"Oh? Did she marry a foreigner?" 
Mrs Barnes flushed a deep, painful red. 
bhe IS brown and weather-beaten, yet through 
the brownness spread unmistakeably this 
deep red. Obviously she had forgotten what 
she told me the other day about the boys 
all bemg foreigners. 

"Let us not speak evil of the dead," she 
said with awful solemnity; and for the rest 
of the walk would talk of nothing but the 
view. 

fU-^I!- '" 2;y '■°°°' t^-n'ght I have been 
thinking. There are guests and guests, and 
some guests haunt one. These guests are 
that kind. They wouldn't haunt me so 
much If only we could be really friends; 
but we 11 never be really friends as long as I 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 137 

am kept from talking to Dolly and between 
us is fixed the rugged and hitherto un- 
scaleable barrier of Mrs. Barnes. Perhaps 
to-morrow, if I have the courage, I shall 
make a great attempt at friendship—at what 
Mrs. Barnes would call being thoroughly 
indiscreet. For isn't it senseless for us three 
women, up here alone together, to spend the 
precious days when we might be making 
friends for life hiding away from each other.? 
Why can't I be told outright that Dolly 
married a German? Evidently she did; 
and if she could bear it I am sure I can. 
Twenty years ago it might have happened 
to us all. Twenty years ago I might have 
done it myself, except that there wasn't the 
German living who would have got me to go 
down a sheet for him. And anyhow Dolly's 
German is dead; and doesn't even a German 
leave off being one after he is dead.? 
Wouldn't he naturally incline, by the sheer 
action of time, to dissolve into neutrality.? 
It doesn't seem humane to pursue him into 
the recesses of eternity as an alien enemy. 
Besides, I thought the war was over. 

For a long while to-night I have been 
leaning out of my window thinking. When 
I look at the stars I don't mind about Ger- 



m 



138 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

mans. It seems impossible to. I believe 
If Mrs. Barnes would look at them she 
wouldn t be nearly so much worried. It is 
a very good practice, I think, to lean out 
ot one s wmdow for a space before going to 
bed and let the cool darkness wash over one. 
After bemg all day with people, how blessed 
a thmg It IS not to be with them. The night 
to-night IS immensely silent, and I've been 
Standing so quiet, so motionless that I would 
have heard the smallest stirring of a leaf 
But nothing is stirring. The air is quite 
still. There isn't a sound. The mountains 
seem to be brooding over a valley that has 
gone to sleep. 

August 29th. 

Antoine said to me this morning that he 
*r^^ / "'* rfam^^so he always speaks 
of Mrs. Barnes and Dolly-were going to stay 
any time, perhaps an assistant for Mrs 
Antome had better be engaged; because Mrs.* 
Antoine might otherwise possibly presently 
begm to find the combination of heat and 
visitors a little 

"Of course," I said. ** Naturally she might 

1.^^'^*!.^"*''^"^' *^^* ^ ^^^ '^^t think of this.* 
Why did you not point it out sooner? I 



1 
? 

1 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 139 

will go myself this very day and search for 
an assistant." 

Antoine said that such exertions were not 
for Madame, and that it was he who would 
search for the assistant. 

I said he couldn't possibly leave the chick- 
ens and the cow, and that it was I who would 
search for the assistant. 

So that is what I have been doing all day- 
having a most heavenly time wandering 
from village to village along the mountain 
side, my knapsack over my arm and freedom 
in my heart. The knapsack had food in it 
and a volume of Crabbe, because it was 
impossible to tell how long the search might 
last, and I couldn't not be nourished. I 
explained to my guests how easily I mightn't 
be back till the evening, I commended them 
to the special attentiveness of the Antoines, 
and off I went, accompanied by Mrs. Barnes's 
commiseration that I should have to be 
engaged on so hot a day in what she with 
felicitous exactness called a domestic pursuit, 
and trying very hard not to be too evidently 
pleased. 

I went to the villages that lie in the direc- 
tion of my lovely place of larches, and having 
after some search found the assistant I 





140 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

continued on toward the west, walking fast, 
a most as if people would know 1 had accom- 
phshed what I had come out for, and might 
catch me and take me home again. 

As I walked it positively was quite difficult 
not to sing. Only hostesses know this pure 
joy. To feel so deep and peculiar an ex- 
hilaration you must have been having guests 
and still be having them. Before my guests 
came I might and did roam about as I chose 
but It was never like to-day, nc^^er with that 
holiday feeling. Oh, I have had a wonderful 
day! Everything was delicious. I don't re- 
member having smelt the woods so good, and 
there hasn't ever been anything like the deep, 
cool softness of the grass I lay on at lunch- 
time. And Crabbe the delightful— why don't 
people talk more about Crabbe.? Whv don't 
they read him more.? I have him in eight 
volumes; none of your little books of selec- 
tions, which somehow take away all his true 
flavour, but every bit of him from beginning 
to end. Nobody ever made so many couplets 
that fit into so many occasions of one's life. 
I believe I could describe my daily life with 
Mrs. Barnes and Dolly entirely in couplets 
from Crabbe. It is the odd fate of his 
writings to have turned by the action of 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



141 



time from serious to droll. He decomposes, 
as it were, hilariously. I lay for hours this 
afternoon enjoying his neat couplets. He 
enchants me. I forget time when I am with 
him. It was Crabbe who made me late for 
supper. But he is the last person one takes 
out for a walk with one if one isn't happy. 
Crabbe is a barometer of serenity. You 
have to be in a cloudless mood to enjoy him. 
I was in that mood to-day. I had escaped. 

Well, I have had my outing, I have had 
my little break, and have come back filled 
with renewed zeal to my guests. \Mien I 
said good-night to-night I was so much 
pleased with everything and felt so happily 
and comfortably affectionate that I not only 
kissed Dolly but embarked adventurously on 
an embrace of Mrs. Barnes. 

She received it with surprise but kindliness. 

I think she considered I was perhaps being 
a little impulsive. 

I think perhaps I was. 

August SOth. 

In the old days before the war this house 
was nearly alwavs full of friends — guests, 
for they were invited, but they never were in 
or on my mind as guests, and I don't remem- 



ii 






II ■ ;:: 



142 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

ber ever feeling that I was hostess. The 
impression I now have of them is that they 
were all very young; but of course they 
weren't. Some were quite as old as Mrs. 
Barnes, and once or twice came people 
even older. They all, however, had this in 
common, that whatever their age was when 
they arrived by the time they left they were 
not more than twenty. 

I can't explain this. It couldn't only have 
been the air, invigorating and inspiriting 
though it is, because my present guests are 
still exactly the same age as the first day. 
That is, Mrs. Barnes is. Dolly is of no age— ^ 
she never was and never will be forty; but 
Mrs. Barnes is just as firmly fifty as she was a 
fortnight ago, and it only used to take those 
other guests a week *o shed every one of 
their years except the first twenty. 

Is it this static, rock-like quality in Mrs. 
Barnes that makes her remain so unchange- 
ably a guest, that makes her unable to 
develop into a friend? \Vhy must I, be- 
cause she insists on remaining a guest, be 
kept so firmly in my proper place as hostess.? 
I want to be friends. I feel as full of friendli- 
ness as a brimii-ing cup. Why am I not let 
spill some of it? I should love to be friends 



I 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 143 

with Dolly, and I would like very much to 
be friends with Mrs. Barnes. Not that I 
think she and I would ever be intimate in 
the way I am sure Dolly and I would be after 
ten minutes together alone, but we might 
develop a mutually indulgent affection. I 
would respect her prejudices, and she would 
forgive me that I have so few, and perhaps 
find it interesting to help me to increase them. 
But the anxious care with which Mrs. 
Barnes studies to be her idea of a perfect 
guest forces me to a corresponding anxious 
care to be her idea of a perfect hostess. I 
find it wearing. There is no easy friendliness 
for us, no careless talk, no happy go-as-you- 
please and naturalness. And ought a guest 
to be so constantly grateful? Her gratitude 
is almost a reproach. It makes me ashamed 
of myself; as if I were a plutocrat, a profiteer, 
a bloated possessor of more than my share, 
a bestower of favours — of all odious things to 
be! Now I perceive that I never have had 
guests before, but only friends. For the 
first time I am really entertaining; or rather, 
owing to the something in Mrs. Barnes that 
induces in me a strange submissiveness, a 
strange acceptance of her ordering of our 
days, I am for the first time, not only in my 



144 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



own house, but in any house that I can re- 
member where I have stayed, being enter- 
tained. 

What is it about Mrs. Barnes that makes 
Dolly and me sit so quiet and good? I 
needn't ask: I know. It is because she is 
single-minded, unselfish, genuinely and deeply 
anxious for everybody's happiness and welfare, 
and it is impossible to hurt such goodness. 
Accordingly we are bound hand and foot to 
her wishes, exactly as if she were a tyrant. 

Dolly, of course, must be bound by a thou- 
sand reasons for gratitude. Hasn't Mrs. 
Barnes given up everything for her? Hasn't 
she given up home, and livelihood, and country 
and friends to come and be with her? It is she 
who magnanimously bears the chief burden of 
Dolly's marriage. Without having had any 
of the joys of Siegfried — I can't think Dolly 
would mutter a name in her sleep that wasn't 
her husband's — she has spent these years of 
war cheerfully accepting the results of him, 
devoting herself to the forlorn and stranded 
German widow, spending her life and what 
substance she has in keeping her company in 
the dreary pensions of a neutral country, un- 
able either to take her home to England or to 
leave her where she is by herself. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



145 



Such love and self-sacrifice is a very binding 
thing. If these conjectures of mine are 
right, Dolly is indeed bound to Mrs. Barnes, 
and not to do everything she wished would 
be impossible. Naturally she wears those 
petticoats, and those long, respectable black 
clothes: they are Mrs. Barnes's idea of how 
a widow should be dressed. Naturally she 
goes for excursions in the mountains with an 
umbrella: it is to Mrs. Barnes both more 
prudent and more seemly than a stick. In 
the smallest details of her life Dolly's grati- 
tude must penetrate and be expressed. Yes; 
I think I understand her situation. The 
good do bind one very heavily in chains. 

To an infinitely less degree Mrs. Barnes's 
goodness has put chains on me, too. I have 
to walk very carefully and delicately among 
her feelings. I could never forgive myself if 
I were to hurt any one kind, and if the kind 
person is cast in an entirely different mould 
from oneself, has different ideas, different 
tastes, a different or no sense of fun, why 
then God help one — one is ruled by a rod of 



iron. 



Just the procession each morning after 
breakfast to the chairs and Merivale is the 
measure of Dolly's and my subjection. First 



146 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



1 




goes Dolly with the I ok, then comes Mrs. 
Barnes with her knitting, and then comes 
me, casting my eyes about for a plausible 
excuse for deliverance and finding none that 
wouldn't hurt. If I lag, Mrs. Barnes looks 
uneasily at me with her, "Am I driving you 
off your own terrace?" look; and once when 
I lingered indoors on the pretext of house- 
keeping she came after me, anxiety on her 
face, and begged me to allow her to help me, 
fo it is she and Dolly, she explained, who of 
course cause the extra housekeeping, and it 
distressed her to think that owing to my 
goodness in permitting them to be here I 
should be deprived of the leisure I would 
otherwise be enjoying. 

**In your lovely Swiss home," she said, her 
face puckered with earnestness. **On your 
summer holiday. After travelling all this 
distance for the purpose." 

"Dear Mrs. Barnes " I murmured, 

ashamed; and assured her it was only an order 
I had to give, and that I was coming out 
immediately to the reading aloud. 



August Slst. 

This morning I made a great effort 
simple. 



to be 



IN THE MOT^NTAINS 147 

Of course I will do everything: in my power 
to make Mrs. Barnes happy— I'll sit. walk, 
be read to, keep away from Dolly, arrange 
life for the little time she is here in the way 
that gives her mind most peace; but why 
mayn't I at the sani- time be natural? It 
is so natural to me to Imj natural. I feel so 
uncomfortable, I get such a choked sensation 
of not enough air, if I can't say what I want 
to say. Abstinence from naturalness is easily 
managed if it isn't to last long; every grace- 
fulness is possible for a little while. But 
shut up for weeks together in the close com- 
panionship of two other people in an isolated 
house on a mountain one must, sooner or later, 
be natural or one will, sooner or later, die. 

So this morning I went down to breakfast 
determined to be it. More than usually deep 
sleep had made me wake up with a feeling 
of more than usual enterprise. I dressed 
quickly, strengthening my determination by 
many good arguments, and then stood at the 
window waiting for the bell to ring. 

At the first tinkle of the bell I hurry down- 
stairs, because if I am a minute late, as I 
have been once or twice, I find my egg wrap- 
ped up in my table napkin, the coffee and 
hot milk swathed in a white woollen shawl 



148 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



irrr' 



Mrs. Barnes carries about with her, a plate 
over the butter in case there should be dust, a 
plate over the honey in case there should be 
flies, and Mrs. Barnes and Dolly, carefully 
detached from the least appearance of re- 
proach or waiting, at the other end of the 
terrace being tactfully interested in the view. 
This has made me be very punctual. The 
bell tinkles, and I appear. I don't appear 
before it tinkles, because of the peculiar 
preciousness of all the moments I can legiti- 
mately spend in my bedroom; but, if I were 
to, I would find Mrs. Barnes and Dolly already 
there. I don't know when they go down, 
but they are always there; and always I am 
greeted with the politest solicitude from 
Mrs. Barnes as to how I slept. This, of course, 
draws forth a corresponding solicitude from 
me as to how Mrs. Barnes slept; and the 
first part of breakfast is spent in answers to 
these inquiries and in the eulogies to which 
Mrs. Barnes then proceeds of the bed and the 
pure air that make the satisfactoriness of her 
answers possible. From this she goes on to 
tell me how grateful she and Dolly are for my 
goodness. She tells me this every morning. 
It is like a kind of daily morning prayer. At 
first I was overcome, and not knowing how 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 149 

to ward off such repeated blows of thankful- 
ness stumbled about awkwardly among pro- 
tests and assurances. Now I receive them in 
silence, copying the example of the heavenly 
authorities; but, more visibly embarrassed than 
they, I sheepishly smile. 

After the praises of my goodness come 
those of the goodness of the coffee and the 
butter, though this isn't any real relief to me, 
because their goodness is so much tangled up 
in mine. I am the Author of the coffee and 
the butter; without me they wouldn't be 
there at all. 

Dolly, while this is g-ing on, says nothing 
but just eats her breakfast. I think she might 
help me out a little, seeing that it happens 
every morning and that she must have noticed 
my store of deprecations is exhausted. 

This morning, having made up my mind to 
be natural, I asked her straight out why she 
didn't talk. 

She was in the middle of her egg, and 
Mrs. Barnes was in the middle of praising 
the great goodness of the eggs, and therefore, 
mextricably, of my great goodness, so that 
there was no real knowing where the eggs left 
off and I began; and taking the opportunity 
offered by a pause of coffee-drinking on 



150 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



m 



I 



Mrs. Barnes's part, I said to Dolly, "Why do 
you not talk at breakfast?" 

"Talk?" repeated Dolly, looking up at me 
with a smile. 

"Yes. Say things. How are we ever to 
be friends if we don't say things? Don't 
you want to be friends, Dolly?" 

"Of course," said Dolly, smiling. 

Mrs. Barnes put her cup down hastily. 

" But are we not " she began, as I knew she 

would. 

" Real friends," I interrupted. " Why not," 
I said, "let us have a holiday from Merivale 
to-day, and just sit together and talk. Say 
things," I went on, still determined to be 
natural yet already a little nervous. ''Real 
things." 

"But has the reading — is there any other 
book you would pref — do you not care about 
Merivale?" asked Mrs. Barnes, in deep con- 
cern. 

"Oh, yes," I assured her, leaving off being 
natural for a moment in order to be polite, 
"I like him very much indeed. I only 
thought — I do think — it would be pleasant 
for once to have a change. Pleasant just to 
sit and talk. Sit in the shade and — oh, well, 
say things." 



I 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 151 

"Yes," said Dolly. "I'd love to." 

"We might tell each other stories, like the 

people in the ^Earthly Paradise.' But real 

stories. Out of our lives." 

^^*;Yes," said Dolly again. *'Yes. Fd love 

"We shall be very glad, I am sure," said 
Mrs. Barnes, politely, "to listen to any stories 
you may like to tell us." 

"Ah, but you must tell some, too— we 
must play fair." 

"I'd love to," said Dolly again, her dimple 
nickermg. 

"Surely we— in any case Dolly and I— are 
too old to play at anything," said Mrs. Barnes 
with dignity. 

"Not really. You'll like it once you've 
begun. And anyhow I can't play by myself, 
can I.?" I said, still trying to be gay and 
simple. "You wouldn't want me to be 
lonely, would you.?" 

But I was faltering. Mrs. Barnes's eye 
was on me. Impossible to go on being gay 
and simple beneath that eye. 

I faltered more and more. "Sometimes I 
think," I said, almost timidly, "that we're 
wasting time." 

"Oh, no, do you really.?" exclaimed Mrs. 



152 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



I • i 



IK,' 



Barnes, anxiously. "Do you not consider 
Merivale — *' (here if I had been a man I would 
have said Damn Merivale and felt better) — 
"very instructive? Surely to read a good 
history can never be wasting time? And he 
is not hesLvy. Surely you do not find him 
heavy? His information is always imparted 
picturesquely— remarkably so. And though 
one may be too old for games one is fortu- 
nately never too old for instruction. 

"I don't feel too old for games," said Dolly. 
"Feeling has nothing to do with reality," 
said Mrs. Barnes, sternly, turning on her. 

"I only thought," I said, "that to-day we 
might talk together instead of reading. Just 
for once — ^just for a change. If you don't 
like the idea of telling stories out of our lives 
let us just talk. Tell each other what we 
think of things — of the big things like — well, 
like love and death for instance. Things," 
I reassured her, "that don't really touch us 
at this moment." 

"I do not care to talk about love and 
death," said Mrs. Barnes, frostily. 
"But why?" 

"They are most unsettling." 
"But why? We would only be specu- 
lating— 



>» 






IN THE MOUNTAINS 153 

She held up her hand. "I have a horror 
of the word. All speculation is abhorrent to 
me. My brother-in-law said to me. Never 
speculate." 

"But didn't he mean in the business 
sense?'* 

"He meant it, I am certain, in every sense. 
Physically and morally." 

"Well, then, don't let us speculate. Let us 
talk about experiences. We've all had them. 
I am sure it would be as instructive as Mer- 
ivale, and we might perhaps— perhaps we 
might even laugh a little. Don't you think 
it would be pleasant to— to laugh a little.?" 
*'I'd love to," said Dolly, her eyes shining. 
"Suppose instead of being women we were 
three men " 

Mrs. Barnes, who had been stiffening for 
some minutes, drew herself up at this. 

"I am afraid I cannot possibly suppose 
that," she said. 

"Well, but suppose we icere " 

"I do not wish to suppose it," said Mrs. 
Barnes. 

"Well, then, suppose it wasn't us at all, 
but three men here, spending their summer 
holidays together— can't you imagine how 
they would talk.?" 




1 1! 



(■' 



I ! 



154 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



"I can only imagine it if they were nice 
men," said Mrs. Barnes, "and even so but 
dimly." 

"Yes. Of course. Well, let us talk to- 
gether this morning as if we were nice men 
— about anything and everything. I can't 
think,'' I finished, plaintively, "why we 
shouldn't talk about anything and every- 
thing." 

Dolly looked at me with dancing eyes. 

Mrs. Barnes sat very straight. She was 
engaged in twisting the honey-spoon round 
and round so as to catch its last trickling 
neatly. Her eyes were fixed on this, and if 
there was a rebuke in them it was hidden 
from me. 

"You must forgive me," she said, carefully 
winding up the last thread of honey, "but as 
I am not a nice man I fear I cannot join in. 
Nor, of course, can Dolly, for the same 
reason. But I need not say," she added, 
earnestly, "that there is not the slightest 
reason why you, on your own terrace, 
shouldn't, if you wish, imagine yourself to 
be a nice " 

"Oh, no," I broke in, giving up. "Oh, no, 
no. I think perhaps you are right. I do 
think perhaps it is best to goon with Merivale." 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 155 

We finished breakfast with the usual 
courtesies. 

I didn't try to be natural any more. 

September 1st. 
Dolly forgot herself this morning. 
On the first of the month I pay the bills. 
Antome reminded me last month that this 
used to be my practice before the war, and I 
remember how languidly I roused myself 
from my meditations on the grass to go 
indoors and add up figures. But to^Iay I 
liked It. I went in cheerfully. 

"This is my day for doing the accounts," 
1 said to Mrs. Barnes, as she was about to 
form the procession to the chairs. "They 
take me most of the morning, so I expect 
we won't see each other again till luncheon." 
Dear me," said Mrs. Barnes, sympatheti- 
cally, how very tiresome for you. Those 
terrible settling up days. How well I know 
them, and how I used to dread them " 
"Yes," said Dolly: 

"Reines Gliick geniesst dock nie 
Wer zahlen soil und weiss nicht me. 

Poor Kitty. We know all about that, don't 
we." And she put her arm round her sister. 



156 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



m 





Dolly had forgotten herself. 

I thought it best not to linger, but to go in 
quickly to my bills. 

Her accent was perfect. I know enough 
German to know that. 

September 2nd. 

We've been a little strained all day in 
our relations because of yesterday. Dolly 
drooped at lunch, and for the first time 
didn't smile. Mrs. Barnes, I think, had 
been rebuking her with more than ordinary 
thoroughness. Evidently Mrs. Barnes is des- 
perately anxious I shouldn't know about 
Siegfried. I wonder if there is any way of 
delicately introducing Germans into the con- 
versation, and conveying to her that I have 
guessed about Dolly's husband and don't mind 
him a bit. Why should I mind somebody 
else's husband.'* A really nice woman only 
minds her own. But I know of no two sub- 
jects more diflScult to talk about tactfully than 
Germans and husbands; and when both are 
united, as in this case, my courage rather fails. 

We went for a dreary walk this afternoon. 
Mrs. Barnes was watchful, and Dolly was 
meek. I tried to be sprightly, but one can't 
be sprightly by oneself. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 157 

September 3rd. 

In the night there was a thunderstorm, and 
for the first time since I got here I woke up to 
rain and mist. The mist was pouring in in 
waves through the open windows, and the 
room was quite cold. When I looked at the 
thermometer hanging outside, I saw it had 
dropped twenty degrees. 

We have become so much used to fine 
weather arrangements that the sudden change 
caused an upheaval. I heard much hurrying 
about downstairs, and when I went down to 
breakfast found it was laid in the hall. It 
was like breakfasting in a tomb, after the rad- 
iance of our meals out of doors. The front 
door was shut; the rain pattered on the win- 
dows; and right up against the panes, between 
us and the world like a great gray flannel 
curtain, hung the mist. It might have been 
some particularly odious December morning in 
England. 

*'Cest Vautomne,'' said Antoine, bringing in 
three cane chairs and putting them round the 
tea-table on which the breakfast was laid. 

**Cest un aveHissement;' said Mrs. Antoine, 
bringing in the coffee. 

Antoine then said that he had conceived it 
possible that Madame and ces dames might 



hi 



158 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

like a small wood fire. To cheer. To en- 
liven. 

**Pray not on our account,'* instantly said 
Mrs. Barnes to me, very earnestly. "Dolly 
and I do not feel the cold at all, I assure you. 
Pray do not have one on our account.*' 

"But wouldn*t it be cozy " I began, 

who am like a cat about warmth. 

"I would far rather you did not have one,'* 
said Mrs. Barnes, her features puckered 
"Thinkof all the wood!" 

"But it would only be a few logs '* 

"What is there no\/adays so precious as 
logs? And it is far, far too early to begin fires. 
Why, only last week it was still August. Still 
the dog-days." 

"But if we're cold " 

"We should indeed be poor creatures, Dolly 
and I, if the moment it left off being warm we 
were cold. Please do not think we don't 
appreciate your kindness in wishing to give 
us a fire, but Dolly and I would feel it very 
much if our being here were to make you begin 
fires so eaily." 
"But ** 

"Keep the logs for later on. Let me beg 
you." 

So we didn't have a fire; and there we sat. 



) ^ 



3 

i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 159 

Mre. Barnes with the white shawl at last put 
to its proper use, and all of us trying not to 
shiver. 

After 'breakfast, which was taken away 
bodily, table and all, snatched from our midst 
by the Antoines, so that we were left sitting 
facing each other round empty space with a 
curious sensation of sudden nakedness, I sup- 
posed that Merivale would be produced, so I 
got up and pushed a comfortable chair con- 
veniently for Dolly, and turr ed on the light. 

To my surprise I found Mrs. Barnes actually 
preferred to relinquish the reading aloud rather 
than use my electric light in the daytime. It 
would be an unpardonable extravagance, she 
said. Dolly could work at her knitting. 
Neither of them needed their eyes for knitting. 

I was greatly touched. From the first she 
has shown a touching, and at the same time 
embarrassing, concern not to cause me avoid- 
able expense, but never yet such concern as 
this. I know what store she sets by the read- 
ing. Why, if we just sat there in the gloom 
we might begin to say Ihings. I really was 
was very much touched. 

But indeed Mrs. Barnes is touching. It is 
because she is so touching in her desire not to 
give trouble, to make us happy, that one so 



IGO 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



E :fi . 



iif 




continually does exactly what she wishes. I 
would do almost anything sooner than hurt 
Mrs. Baines. Also I would do almost any- 
thing to calm her. And as for her adhesive- 
ness to an unselfish determination, it is such 
that it is mere useless fatigue to try to separate 
her from it. 
I have learned this gradually. 
At first, most of my time at meals was spent 
in reassuring her that things hadn't been got 
specially on her and Dolly's account, and as 
the only other account they could have been 
got on was mine, my assurances had the effect 
of making me seem very greedy. I thought 
I lived frugally up here, but Mrs. Barnes must 
have lived so much more frugally that almost 
everything is suspected by her to be a luxury 
provided by my hospitality. 

She was, for instance, so deeply persuaded 
that the apricots were got, as she says, spe- 
cially, that at last to calm her I had to tell Mrs. 
Antoine to buy no more. And we all liked 
apricots. And there was a perfect riot of 
them down in the valley. After that we had 
red currants because they, Mrs. Barnes knew, 
came out of the garden ; but we didn't eat them 
because we didn't like them. 
Then there was a jug of lemonade sent in 



IN THE MOUNTAINS ici 

every day for lunch that worried her. During 
this period her talk was entirely of lemons and 
sugar, of all the lemons and sugar that wouldn't 
be being used if she and Dolly were not here, 
and again, in order to calm her, and rather 
than that she should be made unhappy, I told 
Mrs. Antoine to send in only water. 

Cakes disappeared from tea a wer!. ngo. 
Eggs have survived at breakfast, a»m ; j has 
honey, because Mrs. Barnes can ' « .h th. 
chickens and has seen the bees am! kii..\. s ili'y 
are not things got specially. SI»c viil .-iit 
potatoes and cabbages and anytliin;; ( i>c liiac 
the garden produces with serenity, bal 31 jw- 
restive over meat; and a leg of muttor ^j; ;de 
her miserable yesterday, for nothing would 
make her believe that if I had been here alone 
it wouldn't have been a cutlet. 

"Let there be no more legs of mutton," I 
said to Mrs. Antoine afterward. "Let there 
instead be three cutlets." 

I'm afraid Mrs. Antoine is scandalized at 
the inhospitable rigours she supposes me to 
be applying to my guests. My order to 
Antoine this morning not to light the fire will 
have increased her growing suspicion that I 
am developing into a cheese-paring Madame. 
She must have expressed her fears to Antoine; 



162 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



for the other day, when I told her to leave the 
sugar and lemons out of the lemonade and 
send in only the water, she looked at him, and 
as I went away I heard her saying to him in 
a low voice— he no doubt having told her I 
usedn't to be like this, and she being unable 
to think of any other explanation— ** CV*^ la 
guerre.'' 

About eleven, having done little good by 
my presence in the hall whose cheerlessness 
wrung from me a thoughtless exclamation 
that I wished I smoked a pipe, upon which 
Dolly instantly said, "Wouldn't it be a 
comfort," and Mrs. Barnes said, "Dolly," I 
went away to the kitchen pretending I 
wanted to ask what there was for dinner, 
but really so as to be for a few moments where 
there was a fire. 

Mrs. Antoine watched me warming myself 
with respectful disapproval. 

*' Madame derrait faire faire un peu de feu 
dans la halle,'" she said. *'Ces dames auroiit 
bien froid.'" 

" Ces dames w jn't let me," I tried to explain 
in the most passionate French I could think 
of. ''Ces dames implore me not to have a 
fire. Ces dames reject a fire. Ces dames 
defend themselves against a fire. I perish 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



163 



becaus'. of the resolve of ces dames not to have 
a fire." 

But Mrs. Antoine plainly didn't believe 
me. She thought, I could see, that I was 
practising a repulsive parsimony on defence- 
less guests. It was the sorrows of the war, 
she concluded, that had changed Madame's 
nature. This was the kindest, the only 
possible, explanation. 

Evening. 

There was a knock at my door just then. 
I thought it must be Mrs. Antoine come to ask 
me some domestic question, and said Entrez, 
and it was Mrs. Barnes. 

She has not before this penetrated into my 
bedroom. I hope I didn't look too much 
surprised. I think there could hardly have 
been a gap of more than a second between my 
surprise and my recovered hospitality. 

"Oh — do come in," I said. "How nice of 
you." 

Thus do the civilized clothe their real 
sensations in splendid robes of courtesy. 

"Dolly and I haven't driven you away 
from the hall, I hope?" began Mrs. Barnes 
in a worried voice. 

"I only came up here for a minute," I 



Ill 



164 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

explained, "and was coming down again 
directly." 

**0h, that relieves me. I was afraid per- 
haps '* 

"I wish you wouldn't so often be afraid 
you're driving me away," I said, pleasantly. 
"Do I look driven.?" 

But Mrs. Barnes took no notice of my 
pleasantness. She had something on her 
mind. She looked like somebody who is 
reluctant and yet impelled. 

"I think," she said, solemnly, "that if you 
have a moment to spare it might be a good 
opportunity for a little talk. I would like to 
talk with you a little." 

And she stood regarding me, her eyes full 
of reluctant but unconquerable conscientious- 



ness. 

it 



Do," I said, with polite enthusiasm. 
"Do." 

This was the backwash, I thought, of 
Dolly's German outbreak the other day, and 
Siegfried was going at last to be explained 
to me. 

"Won't you sit down in this chair.?*" I 
said, pushing a comfortable one forward, 
and then sitting down myself on the edge of 
the sofa. 









IN THE MOUNTAINS 165 

"Thank you. What I wish to say is '* 

She hesitated. I supposed her to be finding 
it difficult to proceed with Siegfried, and 
started off impulsively to her rescue. 

"You know, I don*t mind a bit about *' 

I began. 

"What I wish to say is," she went on again, 
before I had got out the fatal word, "what 
I wish to point out to you— is that the weather 
has considerably cooled." 

This was so remote from Siegfried that I 
looked at her a moment in silence. Then I 
guessed what was coming, and tried to put 
it off. 

"Ah," I said— for I dreaded the grateful 
things she would be sure to say about having 
been here so long— "you do want a fire in the 
hall after all, then." 

"No, no. We are quite warm enough, I 
assure you. A fire would distress us. What 

I wish to say is " Again she hesitated, 

then went on more firmly, "Well, I wish to 
say that the weather having broken and the 
great heat having come to an end, the reasons 
which made you extend your kind, your de- 
lightful hospitality to us, have come to an end 
also. I need hardly tell you that we never, 
never shall be able to express to you " 



^mi. 



166 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



"Oh, but you're not going to give me 
notice?'* I interrupted, trying to be sprightly 
and to clamber over her rock-like persistence 
in gratitude with the gaiety of a bright, 
autumnal creeper. This was because I was 
nervous. I grow terribly sprightly when I 
am nervous. 

But indeed I shrink from Mrs. Barnes's 
gratitude. It abases me to the dust. It 
leaves me mourning in much the same way 
that Simon Lee's gratitude left Wordsworth 
mourning. I can't l)ear it. What a world it 
is, I want to cry out— what a miserable, 
shameful, battering, crushing world, when 
so dreadfully little makes people so dread- 
fully glad ! 

Then it suddenly struck me that the 
expression giving notice might not be taken 
by Mrs. Barnes, she being solemn, in the spirit 
in which it was oflFered by me, I being 
sprightly; and, desperately afraid of having 
possibly offended her, I seized on the first 
thing I could think of as most likely to soothe 
her, which was an extension, glowing and 
almost indefinite, of my invitation. "Be- 
cause, you know," I said, swept along by 
this wish to prevent a wound, "I won't accept 
the notice. I'm not going to let you go. 







IN THE MOUNTAINS 167 

That is, of course/' I added, "if you and Dolly 
don't mind the quiet up here and the mo- 
notony. Won't you stay on here till I so awav 
myself?" 

Mrs. Barnes opened her mouth u; speak, 
but I got up quickly and crossed over to her 
and kissed her. Instinct made me go and 
kiss her, so as to gain a little time, so as to 
put off the moment of having to hear what- 
ever it was she was going to say; for whether 
she accepted the invitation or refused it, I 
knew there would be an equally immense, un- 
bearable number of grateful speeches. 

But when I went over and kissed her 
Mrs. Barnes put her arm round my neck and 
held me tight; and there was something in 
this sudden movement on the part of one so 
chary of outward signs of affection that made 
my heart give a little leap of response, and I 
found myself murmuring into her ear — amaz- 
ing that I should be murmuring into Mrs. 
Barnes's ear— "Please don't go away and 
leave me— please don't— please stay " 

And as she didn't say anything I kissed her 
again, and again murmured, "Please " 

And as she still didn't say anything I 
murmured, "Won't you.? Say you will 



And then I discovered to my horror that 



fnnSMWWTT^. 



fiS!^S,S«nmPf-4iSiSSS!SISSMI-XiliaB^immK!iF'-i 



m 



168 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

why she didn't say anything was because she 
was crying. 

I have been slow and unimaginative about 
Mrs. Barnes. Having guessed that Dolly 
was a German widow I might so easily have 
guessed the rest: the poverty arising out of 
such a situation, the vexations and humili- 
ations of the attitude of people in the pensions 
she has dragged about in during and since the 
war— places in which Dolly's name must 
needs be registered and her nationality known; 
the fatigue and loneliness of such a life, with 
no home anywhere at all, forced to wander and 
wander, her little set at Dulwich probably 
repudiating her because of Dolly, or scolding 
her, in rare letters, for the folly of her sacrifice; 
with nothing to go Sack to and nothing to 
look forward to, an*! the memory stabbing 
her always of the lost glories of that ordered 
life at home in her well-found house, with the 
church bells ringing on Sundays, and every- 
body polite, and a respectful crossing-sweeper 
at the end of the road. 

All her life Mrs. Barnes has been luminously 
respectable. Her respectability has been, I 
gather from things she has said, her one 
great treasure. To stand clear and plain 
before her friends, without a corner in her 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 109 

actions that needed defending or even ex- 
plaining, was what the word happiness meant 
to her. And now here she is, wandering 
about in a kind of hiding. With Dolly. 
With the beloved, the difficult, the unex- 
plainable Dolly. Unwelcomed, unwanted, 
and I daresay quite often asked by the many 
pension proprietors who are angrily anti- 
German to go somewhere else. 

I have been thick-skinned about Mrs. 
Barnes. I am ashamed. And whether I 
have guessed right or wrong she shall keep 
her secrets. I shall not try again, however 
good my silly intentions may seem to me, 
however much I may think it would ease our 
daily intercourse, to blunder in among things 
about which she wishes to be silent. When 
she cried like that this morning, after a 
moment of looking at her bewildered and 
aghast, I suddenly understood. I knew what 
I have just been writing as if she had told me. 
And I stroked her hand, and tried to pretend 
I didn't notice anything, because it was so 
dreadful to see how she, for her part, was 
trying so very hard to pretend she wasn't 
crying. And I kept on saying— for indeed I 
didn't know what to say— "Then you'll stay 
—how glad I am— then that's settled " 



c^'' 



I 



J^''\- 



'M 



170 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

And actually I heard myself expressing 
pleasure at the certainty of my now hearing 
Merivale toafinish! 

How the interview ended was by my con- 
ceiving the brilliant idea of going away on 
the pretext of giving an order, and leaving 
Mrs. Barnes alone in my room till she should 
have recovered sufficiently to appear down- 
stairs. 

"I must go and tell Mrs. Antoine some- 
thing," I suddenly said, "something I've 
forgotten." And I hurried away. 

For once I had been tactful. Wonderful. 
I couldn't help feeling pleased at having been 
able to think of this solution to the situation. 
Mrs. Barnes wouldn't want Dolly to see she 
had been crying. She would stay up quietly 
in my room till her eyes had left off being red, 
and would then come down as calm and as 
ready to set a good example as ever. 

Continuing to be tactful I avoided going 
into the hall, because in it was Dolly all by 
herself, offering me my very first opportunity 
for the talk alone with her that I have so long 
been wanting; but of course I wouldn't do 
anything now that might make Mrs. Barnes 
uneasy; I hope I never may again. 
To avoid the hall, however, meant finding 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 171 

myself in the servants' quarters. I couldn't 
take shelter in the kitchen and once more 
warm myself, because it was their dinner 
hour. There remained the back door, the 
last refuge of a hostess. It was open; and 
outside was the yard, the rain, and Mou- 
Mou's kennel looming through the mist. 

I went and stood in the door, contemplating 
what I saw, waiting till I thought Mrs. Barnes 
would have had time to be able to come out of 
my bedroom. I knew she would stay there 
till her eyes were ready to face the world again, 
so I knew I must have patience. Therefore 
I stood in the door and contemplated what I 
saw from it, while I sought patience and 
ensued it. But it is astonishing how cold 
and penetrating these wet mountain mists 
are. They seem to get right through one's 
body into one's very spirit, and make it cold, 
too and doubtful of the future. 

September Uh. 

Dolly looked worried, I thought, yesterday 
when Mrs. Barnes, as rocky and apparently 
arid as ever— but I knew better— told her at 
tea-time in my presence that I had invited 
them to stay on as long as I did. 

There were fortunately few expressions of 



172 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

gratitude this time decorating Mrs. Barnes's 
announcement. I think she still wasn*t quite 
sure enough of herself to be anything but 
brief. Dolly looked quickly at me, without 
her usual smile. 1 said what a great pleasure 
It was to know they weren't going away. 
"You do like staying, don't you, Dolly?" 
IJ asked, breaking off suddenly in my speech, 
for her serious eyes were not the eyes of the 
particularly pleased. 

She said she did; of course she did; and 
added the proper politenesses. But she went 
on looking thoughtful, and I believe she wants 
to tell me, or have me told by Mrs. Barnes 
about Siegfried. I think she things I ought 
to know what sort of guest I've got before 
decidmg whether I really want her here any 
longer or not. 

I wish I could somehow convey to Dolly, 
without upsetting Mrs. Barnes, that I do 
know and don't mind. I tried to smile re- 
assuringly at her, but the more I smiled the 
more serious she grew. 

As for Mrs. Barnes, there is now between 
her and me the shyness, the affection, of a 
secret understanding. She may look as arid 
and stiff as she likes, but we have kissed each 
other with real affection and I have felt her 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 173 

arm tighten round my neck. How much 
more enhghtening, how much more efficacious 
than any words, than any explanations, is 
that ver>' simple thing, a kiss. I believe if 
we all talked less and kissed more we should 
arrive far quicker at comprehension. I give 
this opinion with diffidence. It is rather 
a conjecture than an opinion. I have not 
found It shared in literature~in conversation 
I would omit it-^xcept once, and then by a 
German. He wrote a poem whose first line 
was: 

schwdre nichi und ktisse nurt 
And I thought it sensible advice. 
September 5th. 

The weather after all hasn't broken We 
have had the thunderstorm and the one bad 
day and then it cleared up. It didn't clear 
up back to heat again-this year there will 
be no more heat-but to a kind of cool, pure 
gold. All day yesterday it was clearing up 
and toward evening there came a great 
wind and swept the sky clear during the 
night of everything but stars; and when I 
woke this morning there was the familiar 
golden patch on the wall again, and I knew 
the day was to be beautiful. 



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^B^ 1653 Eost Main Street " 

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!-i: 






174 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

And so it has been, with the snow come 
much lower down the mountains, and the 
still air very fresh. Things sparkle; and 
one feels like some bright bubble of light 
oneself. Actually even Mrs. Barnes has al- 
most been like that— has been, for her, 
astonishingly, awe-inspiringly gay. 

*'Ah," she said, standing on the terrace 
after breakfast, drawing in deep draughts of 
air, "now I understand the expression so 
frequently used in descriptions of scenery. 
Ihis air indeed is like champagne.'* 

*'It does make one feel very healthy'* I 
said. * 

There are several things I wanted to say 
instead of this, things suggested by her 
remark, but I refrained. I mean to be 
careful now to let my communications with 
Mrs. Barnes be Yea, yea, and Nay, nay— 
that is, straightforward and brief, with noth- 
ing whatever in them that might directly 
or indirectly lead to the encouragement of 
Dolly. Dolly has been trying to catch me 
alone. She has tried twice since Mrs. Barnes 
yesterday at tea told her I had asked them to 
stay on, but I have avoided her. 

"Healthy.?" repeated Mrs. Barnes. "It 
makes one feel more than healthy. It goes 



IN THE MOLXTAIXS 175 

to one's head. I can imagine it turning me 
quite dizzy— quite turning my head." 

And then she actually asked me a riddle- 
Mrs. Barnes asked a riddle, at ten o'clock in 
the morning, asked me, a person long since 
callous to riddles and at no time since six 
years old particularly appreciati\e of them. 

Of course I answered wrong. Discon- 
certed, I impetuously hazarded Brandy as 
the answer, when it should have been Whisky; 
but really I think it was wonderful to have got 
even so near the right answer as Brandy. I 
won't record the riddle. It was old in Mrs. 
Barnes's youth, for she told me she had it 
from her father, who, she said, could enjoy a 
joke as heartily as she can herself. 

But what was so surprising was that the 
effect of the crisp, sunlit air on Mrs. Barnes 
should be to engender riddles. It didn't do 
this to my pre-war guests. They grew young, 
but not younger than twenty. Mrs. Barnes 
to-day descended to the age of bibs. I never 
could have believed it of her. I never could 
have believed she would come so near what 
I can only call an awful friskiness. And it 
wasn't just this morning, in the first intoxi- 
cation of the splendid new air; it has gone on 
like it all day. On the mountain slopes, 



1 1 



176 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



shppery now and d fficult to walk on because 
of the heavy ram of the thunderstorm, might 
have been seen this afternoon three figures 
^o black ones and a white one, proofing 
for a space m a rather wobbly single file, then 

^r,^y »n t::''"'''^ S^o^P- then once mor^ 
priding. When they paused it was becau2 
Mrs. Barnes had thought of another riddle 
My was very quick at the answers 

h^n k" u! "* ^ '"'P^'«'^ h^"- of having 
been brought up on these veiy ones, as she 

no doubt was, but I cut a lamentable figure. 
I tried to make up for my natural incapacity 
by great goodwill. Mrs. Barnes's spirits were 
too rare and precious, I felt, not to be wel- 
comed; and having failed in answers I desper- 
ately ransacked my memory in search of ques- 
tions, so that I could ask riddles, too 

But by a strange perversion of recollection 
1 could remember several answers and not 
their questions. I„ my brain, on inquiry, 
wer« fixed qmte firmly things like this- 

riddles^ ^°'''^'' *° ''^^ "'"^ ^'^ heen 

Becttuae hig tail cmnea mi of his head. 
So did the other donkey. 
He took a fly and went home. 
Orleans. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 177 

Having nothing else to offer Mrs. Barnes I 
offered her tnese, and suggeUed she should 
supply the questions. 

She thought this way of <lealing with riddles 
subversive and difficult. Dolly began to 
laugh. Mrs. Barnes, filled with the invigc^ 
rating air actually laughed, too. It was the 
first time I have heard her laugh. I listened 

for DoUy looked so extraordinarily pleased- 

Ibf f 'n ': ^t« '' """'' ''^^'y ~: 

i'yZ ^°"^ ' ^^^' *"™^ t° h" sister in 
a delighted surprise, had the expression on it 
that a mother's has when her offspring 
suddenly behaves in a way unhoped for and 
gratifying. 

So there we stood, gesticulating gaily on 
the shppery slope. ^ ^ ° 

This is a strange place. Its effects are 
incalculable. I suppose it is because it is 
five thousand feet up, and has so great a 
proportion of sunshine. 

September 6th. 

ull'^r'^ '^"^'' ^'' '"°™'"S fr°°» Eng- 
land that wiped out all the gaiety of yester- 
day; letters that reminded me. It was as if 
the cold mist had come back again, and blotted 



i' u 



1il 



ft-. 



178 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

outthe light after I had hoped it had gone fo^ 
good. It was as if a weight had dropped down 
agam on my heart, suffocating it, making it 
d^cult to breathe after I had hoped it was 
lifted off for ever. I feel sick. Sick with the 
return of the familiar pain, sick with fear thai 
I am gomg to fall back hopelesjy into it. 
I wonder .f I am. Oh, I had such hope that 
I was better! Shall I ever get quife wel 
agam? Won't it at best after every etfor 
every perseverance in struggle, be just a 
more or less skilful mending, a more or less 
successful putting together of broken bits' 
I thought I had been, growing whole. I 
thought I wouldn't any longer wince. And 
now these letters. . . . 

Ridiculous, hateful and' ridiculous, to be so 
httle master of one's own body that one has to 
look on helplessly at one's hands shaking 

•T'i* ^? ^'"«^*- I '^on't want to be 
reminded. It is my one chance of safety, my 
one hope of escape. To forget-forget tin 
I have got my soul safe back again, really 
my own agam. no longer a half-destroyed 
thmg. I call It my soul. I don't know what 
It IS. I am very miserable. 

It is details that I find so difficult to bear 
As long as m my mind eveo'thing is one great.' 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 179 

unhappy blur, there is a ehance of quietness 
of gradual creeping baek to peaee But 

But it p,ea.sed J:'::i:i' ^i^i^^ 

wriUnfofT 'T^- J*^^^^' "•'^-^" *^ "-"- 
writing of friends. How eould I guess, wlien 

I saw them on the breakfast-table, that 5 

whe^"hT"*!f ^ " '"" "f hurt? aZ 
when I had read them, and I picked up my 
oup and tried to look as if nothing had han 
pened and I were drinking coffee' S any 
body else, my silly hand shook so much 
that Dolly noticed it. 

Our eyes met. 

1 couldn't get that wretched cup back on 

the i f'T-^ 'u" '"^'"'^'^' '"^'^^ has been 
the good of bemg here? What has the time 

IraLlrr'-' ^^^at has t,. cure bee: 

I have come up to my room. I can't stay 
downstairs. It would be unbearable tWs 

try to thmk of an excuse, quickly. Mrs. 
Barnes may be up any minute to ask-oh 
I am hunted! * 



r*',-'t 




180 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

It is a comfort to write this. To write does 
make one in some strange way less lonely. 
Yet— having to go and look at oneself in the 
glass for companionship— isn't that to have 
reached the very bottom level of loneliness.'* 

Evening. 

The direct result of those letters has been 
to bring Dolly and me at last together. 

She came down to the kitchen-garden after 
me, where I went this morning when I had 
succeeded in straightening myself out a little. 
On the way I told Mrs. Barnes, with as tran- 
quil a face as I could manage, that I had 
arrangements to discuss with Antoine, and so, 
I was afraid, would for once miss the reading. ' 
Antoine I knew was working in the kitchen- 
garden, a plot of ground hidden from the 
house at the foot of a steep descent, and I 
went to hi:n and asked to be allowed to 
help. I said I would do anything— dig, weed, 
collect slugs, anything at all, but he must let 
me work. Work with my hands out of doors 
was the only thing I felt I could bear to-day. 
It wasn't the first time, I reflected, that peace 
has been found among cabbages. 

Antoine demurred, of course, but did at 
last consent to let me pick red currants. 



IN THE MOUNTAIXS 181 

That was an easy task, and useful as well, 
for It would save Lisette the assistant's time,' 
who would otherwise presently have to pick 
them. So I chose the bushes nearest to where 
he was digging, because I wanted to be near 
someone who neither talked nor noticed, 
someone alive, someone kind and good who 
wouldn't look at me, and I began to pick 
these strange, belated fruits, finished and 
forgotten two months ago in the valley. 

Then I saw Dolly coming down the steps 
cut m the turf. She was holding up her long 
black skirt. She had nothing on her head, 
and the sun shone in her eyes and made her 
screw them up as she stood still for a moment 
on the bottom step searching for me. I 
saw all this, though I was stooping over the 
bushes. 

Then she came and stood beside me. 
"You oughtn't to be here," I said, going on 
pickmg and not looking at her. 
*'I know," said Dolly. 
"Then hadn't you better go back.?*" 
"Yes. But I'm not going to." 
I picked in silence. 

"You've been crying," was what she said 
next. 

"No," I said. 



II' ! 



188 I\ THE MOUNTAINS 

"Perhaps not with your eyes, but you 
have with your heart." 

At this I felt very much like Mrs. Barnes- 
very mueh like what Mrs. Barnes must have 
felt when I tried to get her to he frank. 

Do you know what your sister said to me 
the other day?" I asked, busily picking, 
hhe said she has a great opinion of discretion." 
Yes, said Dolly. "But I haven't " 

admtt"'' ^ *'"''*'"'** "*''"'" ^ """ ^"'■'^^^ t° 
"Well, then," said Dolly. 
I straightened myself, and we looked at 
each other. Her eyes have a kind of sweet 
radiance. Siegfried must have been pleased 
when he saw her coming down the sheet into 
ills arms. 

"You mustn't tell me anything you don't 
qu> e T nt to," said Dolly, her sweet eyes 
smdrng, "but I couldn't see you looking so 
unhappy and not come and-well, stroke 

"There isn't anything to tell," I said 
comforted by the mere idea of being stroked.' 
Yes, there is. 

J* Not really. It»s only that once-oh, well 
whats the good.P I don't want to think of 
It— I want to forget." 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 183 

Dolly nocJded. "Yes," she said. "Yes" 
You see I came here to get cured by 
forgetting, and I thought I was cured. And 
this morning I found I wasn't, and it has- 
and It has disappointed me." 

"You musn't cry, you know, said Dolly, 
gently. "Not in the middle of picking red 

currants. There's the man " 

She glanced at Antoine, digging. 
I snuffled away my tears without the 
betrayal of a pocket handkerchief, and man- 
aged to smile at her. 

"What idiots we go on being," I said, 
ruefully. ' 

"Oh— idiots!" 

Dolly made a gesture as of including the 
whole world. 

"Does one ever grow up.?" I asked. 

^ I don't know. I haven't." 

"But do you think one ever learns to bear 
pain without wanting to run crying bitterly 
to one's mother.?" ^ 

"I think it/s difficult. It seems to take 
more time , she added, smiling, "than I've 

forty?" ^"""^ ^'"^ ^'''^^' ^^" ^"^'^ ^'^« 

"Yes That is, I've been told so, but it 
hasn t been proved." 



r J 



I,-: Ij 

1'' 



184 IN THE MOI'NTAINS 

^^jOh, I never could prove anything." said 

tha?w„.S' k""' "I "" "'■' °f determination 
3 ^ould have alarmed Mrs. Barnes, and 
sa>d. There are several other thing, that I 
am that you don't know, and as f 'm here 

;-the^. eurrL-tti-tr rc/rj;^ 

wiZfh^'" ^ '"'''• "''?''"'' y°" '«="er help me 

i>fted the basket across and put it on th^ 
ground between us ^ 

Dy Uollys mere presence and the sw«>t 

understandingthatseemstoshineout oX 
She turned up her sleeve and plunced 

her arms mto the currant bushes. LuS 
currants don't have thorns, for if it had been 
a gooseberiy bush she would have Jlun^d 
her bare arms in just the same. ^ ^^ 

"an J'^t n ^f"^^ T *° ^^'^y °"'" «he began. 

ex^tlv WW "" *''"' ^°" ^•'""'''"'t know 
exactly what you are in for '* 

is Zk'^^'rS-V" '"" """ '""^ y°"r "ame 
it Su;hs " "' ' '^ ^'■^^ *•»«* ^'-dy. 



Iff' 
4-1 



IN THE MOLXTAIXS i85 

1 don t know what you would say to «ome of 
the things I think of." °' 

Dolly laughed. Then she looked «,rious 
««a,n, and tugged at the currants in T way 
that wasn't very good for the bush. "" 

<'v:» ■ I """"^ "'"•'' Juchs," she said 

wasnfth "'' '1 """"""- " J-^-- t 
wasntthewar. It wasn't camouflage She 
thought , was the way. .S„ ,,;,, th" ..tj.^ 
relations m England. That is when tl ev 

STei.' " •"'• -'■'^'' ^ «-'^ ttS 
"You mean they called him Siegfried," I sai.l 
Dolly stopped short in her pWcing t„ Zk 
at me m surprise. "Siegfried.'" she ^Lt^d 
her arrested hands full of currants. '^*"'^' 
Ihat s another of the things IVe guessed " 
I said, proudly. "By sheer intellSly^u't 
tmg two and two together " "^*""y P"'" 

"IS^'L'^'"'' ^'^Striedr said Dolly 
Not Siegfried?" ^' 

suii^d. "^ *"™ *° ^^OP P-king and look 
.^it^Vufr^—' And so affection. 



If 

i 



186 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

"Siegfried wasn't Juchs, he was Bretter- 
stangel," said Dolly. "Did I say his name 
that day in my sleep? Dear Siegfried." 
And her eyes, even while they rested on mine, 
became softly reminiscent. 

"But Dolly— if Siegfried wasn't your hus- 
band, ought you to have— well, do you think 
it was wise to be dreaming of him.'^" 

"But he was my husband." 

I stared. 

"But you said your husband was Juchs," 
I said. 

"So he was," said Dolly. 

"He was.? Then why— I'm fearfully slow, 
I know, but do tell me— if Juchs was your 
husband why wasn't he called Siegfried?" 

"Because Siegfried's name was Bretter- 
stangel. I began with Siegfried." 

There was a silence. We stood looking at 
each other, our hands full of currants. 

Then I said, "Oh." And after a moment I 
said, "I see." And after another moment I 
said, "You began with Siegfried." 

I was greatly taken aback. The guesses 
which had been arranged so neatly in my 
mind were swept into confusion. 

"What you've got to realize," said Dolly 
evidently with an effort, "is that I kept on 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 137 

marrying Germans. I ought to have left off 
at Siegfried I wish now I had. But one 

gets into a habit ** 

"But," I interrupted, my mouth I think 
rather open, "you kept on.?" 

"Yes," said Dolly, holding herself very 
straight and defiantly, "I did keep on, and 
that s what I want you to be quite clear 
about before we settle down to stay here 
indefinitely. Kitty can't stay if I won't 
1 do put my foot down sometimes, and I 
would about this. Poor darling-she feels 
desperately what I've done, and I try to help 
her to keep it quiet with ordinary people as 
much as I can-oh, I'm always letting little 
bits out! But I can't, I won't, not tell a 

triend who so wonderfully invites us " 

" You're not going to begin being gratefuP" 
I mterrupted, quickly. 

"You've no idea," Dolly answered, irrele- 
vantly her eyes wide with wonder at her past 
self, how difficult it is not to marry Germans 
once you ve begun." 

"But— how many?" I got out. 
"Oh, only two. It wasn't their number so 
much. It was their quality." 
"What— Junkers .?>" 
"Junkers? Would you mind more if they 



¥ H 



188 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

had been? Do you mind veiy much any. 
how? '' 

"I don't mind anything. I don't mind 
your bemg technically German a scrap. All 
I think is that it was a little-well, perhaps 
a little excessive to marry another German 
when you had done it once already. But 
then I'm always rather on the side of frugality 
I do definitely prefer the few instead of the 
many and the little instead of the much." 

"In husbands as well?" 

"Well, yes— I think so." 
Dolly sighed. 

"I wish I had been like that," she said. 

It would have saved poor Kitty so much." 

She dropped the currants she held in her 
hands slowly bunch by bunch into the basket 

"But I don't see," I said, "what difference 
It could make to Kitty. I mean, once you 
had started having German husbands at all, 
what^ did it matter one more or less? And 
wasn't the second one d— I mean, hadn't he 
left off being alive when the war began? So 
I don't see what difference it could make to 
Kitty." 

"But that's just what you've got to realize," 
said Dolly, letting the last bunch of currants 
drop out of her hand into the basket. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS jgo 

She looked at me ami T k„ 
that she was sW.^SJ,'^-™ 
d^cate flush was slowly sprfading over her 
face, so delicate that for a moment I L„l 
see what ,t was that was making her ook ' 

:trs'^gr;rn?ei-«^^ 

.c.deh„,!aeterrrU.atrt^«^«i^^^^ 

GermXt;::f.-t:;^- 

And ;t s different from England." 
Yes, I said. "So I understand. " 
^.Theway^hey^ things. Their laws." 

shea's tr:av"tfh'' 1!''™'* *" -^ -hat 
if I dtdn-t S at ht°"so'l 1""^'* n" '•^'• 
to pick currants Sh u !* """^ "^ga" 

my example ^' ">^banically followed 

ov:/^E;';ru?h?"rhi„r^^^^^^^^ 

?-f' • So did all our" Enjth L aUol? 
t t'o^SlJou'''"^^ '"■"'^ ^''' *-' ^hat": 

m:ke:;SS;i---f'"<ion-t please 



190 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Book> ^"* ^''' ^"'^^^^^" ''^ *h^ Prayer 

"What is?" 

"What I did." 

''What did you do, Dolly?" I aski»fl n««, 
thoroughly uneasy; had hef reck es *£' "nl 
^ai:!^^ -- - '-P<^-^th the cr 

Dolly tore off currants and leaves in hand 
uls and flung them together into the basket 

ZT^ -ny "ncle," she said. 

_^ What? "I said, really astonished. 
Aarl— that was my second husband 
-was S.egfried's-that was my first hus 
band-s-uncle. V, „,, Siegfried's mother's' 
brother-my firs, mother-in-law's broker 
My second mother-in-law was my fe ' 
husbands grandmother. In Gennany yol 
.nthe wT7 ^°" t ^"* '*'« ^»'Wdden 

mustn't. It's number nine ofle nihl°d 
-^mn-Husband's Mother's Br^hf 'i 
Rtty-wel, you can guess what Kitty has 
felt about ,t. If it had been my own uncle 
n>y own mother's brother, she c^uXt hate 
bfen more horrified and heartbroken r 
Adn't realize. I didn't think of thfeff^ct il 



I 



er 



IN THE MOUNTAINS ,9, 

«'ways think it Tves L^^ "^ ''• ' 

-d tell afte JaJ" '£^\*° --y fct 
years in Germanv T* , ^" ^ many 

JS-taye/ZintlZg.--^ 

">e straight in the eyes "it /u' '°°'''"S 

•f you think n,e in.p„Se I'll;?^ ^°"' ^"^ 
But—" I beg,„ «o. 

ey"ve^bSt^'°''^^^«-''«d«ow.andher 
ousS%f thteSLT'" ^'•^ -'■''• -P^t"- 

may hate it so I had to t^ ^""'^ ^^^ 
|0tadea„ in yourfl Jf ^^"- ^ouVe 
Book is in your blooH T J '•, ^^ ^''"yer 

'•t I shall uLltird^perf^etlv -^""/r'^.^^ 
away and take Kitty and v ''.'" «" 

see or hear of me oeLf ^"" ""^^ »^^« 
saying—" ^^"'' "° y"" "mustn't mind 

"Oh, do wait a minute!" I cried "T j .. 
•■^teu. I don, mind. I'd on^hate itt] 



m 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



If' ^- 1 

Hi ' V 



tr M 

i 



mind if it was I who had to marry a German 
uncle. I can't imagine why anybody should 
ever want to marry uncles anyhow, but if 
they do, and they're not blood-uncles, and 
it's the custom of the country, why not? 
You'll stay here, Dolly. I won't let you go. 
I don't care if you've married fifty German 
uncles. I've loved you from the moment 
I saw you on the top of the wall in your 
funny petticoat. WTiy, you don't suppose," 
I finished, suddenly magnificently British, 
"that I'm going to let any mere German 
come between you and me?" 

Whereupon we kissed each other — not 
once, but several times; fell, indeed, upon 
each other's necks. And Antoine, coming to 
fetch the red currants for Lisette who had 
been making signs to him from the steps for 
some time past, stood waiting quietly till we 
should have done. 

When he thought we had done he stepped 
forward and said, ** Pardon, mesdames'' — and 
stooping down deftly extracted the basket 
from between us. 

As he did so his eye rested an instant on the 
stripped and broken branches of the currant 
bush. 

He wasn't surprised. 



!i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



193 



September 7th. 

1 couldn't finish about yesterday last night. 
When I had got as far as Antoine and the 
basket I looked at the little clock on my 
writing-table and saw to my horror that it 
was nearly twelve. So I fled into bed; for 
what would Mrs. Barnes have said if she 
had seen me burning the electric light and 
doing what she calls trying my eyes at such 
an hour? It doesn't matter that they are 
my eyes and my light: Mrs. Barnes has 
become, by virtue of her troubles, the secret 
standard of my behaviour. She is like the 
eye of God to me now — in every place. And 
my desire to please her and make her happy 
has increased a hundredfold since Dolly and 
I have at last, in spite of her precautions, 
become real friends. 

We decided before we left the kitchen- 
garden yesterday that this was the important 
thing: to keep Mrs. Barnes from any hurt 
that we can avoid. She has had so many. 
She will have so many more. I understand 
now Dolly's deep sense of all her poor Kitty 
has given up and endured for her sake, and 
I understand the shackles these sacrifices 
have put on Dolly. It is a terrible burden to 
be very much loved. If Dolly were of a less 



II 



it 



194 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

naturally serene temperament she would «o 
under beneath the weight, she would be, after 
five years of it, a colourless, meek thing 

We agreed that Mrs. Barnes mustn't know 
that I know about Dolly's marriages. Dolly 
^id roundly that it would kill her. Mrs 
Barnes regards her misguided sister as having 
commuted a crime. It is forbidden in the 

Prayer Books of other countries. Therefore 
the word German shall never I hope again 
escape me while she is here, nor will I ulk 
of husbands, and perhaps it will be as well 
to avoid mentioning uncles. Dear me, how 
very watchful I shall have to be. For Z 

unmentionable. 

I am writing this before breakfast. I 
haven t seen Dolly alone again since the 
kitchen-garden. 1 doa't know how she con- 
trived to appease Mrs. Barnes and explain 
her long absence, but that she did contrive 
.t was evident from the harmonious pic- 
ture I beheld when, half an hour later, I, too, 

together ,n the smi just outside the front 
door kmttmg. Mrs. Barr^es's face was quite 
contenteo. DoUy looked specially rJa^ 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 195 

L^Jir^* " """'* "P •^""■^'y "f '°ve and 
teughter-dangerous. endearing ingredienU! 
We just looked at each other as I came out of 
the house. It is the most comforting, the 
warmest thing, this unexpected finding of a 
completely understanding friend. 

September 10th. 

Once you have achieved complete under- 
standmg with anybody it isn't necessary, I 
know, to talk much. I have been told this 
by the w,se. They have said mere knowledge 
that the understanding is there is enough. 
I hey have said that perfect understanding 
needs no expression, that the perfect inter- 
course is without words. That may be; but 
i want to talk. Not excessively, but some- 
times Speech does add grace and satisfac- 
tion to fnendship. It may not be necessary, 
but It IS very agreeable. 

As far as I can see I am never, except by 
the rarest chance, going to get an opportunity 
of talking to Dolly alone. And there are so 
many thmgs I want to ask her. Were her 
experiences all pleasant.' Or is it her gay. 
indomitable spirit that has left her, after 
them, so entirely unmarked? Anyhow, the 
last five years can't possibly have been 



196 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



r 1 



pleasant, and yet they've not left the shadow 
of a stain on her serenity. I feel that she 
would think very sanely about anything her 
bright mipj touched. There is something 
disinfecting about Dolly. I believe she would 
disinfect me of the last dregs of morbidness I 
still may have lurking inside me. 

She and Mrs. Barnes are utterly poor. 
When the war began Dolly was in Germany, 
she told me that morning in the kitchen- 
garden, and had been a widow nearly a year. 
Not Siegfried's widow: Juchs's. I find her 
widowhoods confusing. 

"Didn't you ever have a child, Dolly?" 
I asked. 

"No," she said. 

"Then how is it you twitched the hand- 
kerchief off your sister's sleeping face that 
first day and said Peep bo to her so profes- 
sionally?" 

"I used to do that to Siegfried. We were 
both quite young to begin with, and played 
silly games." 

"I see," I said. "Goon." 

Juchs had left her some money; just 
enough to live on. Siegfried hadn't ever had 
any, except what he earned as a clerk in a 
bank, but Juchs had had some. She hadn't 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 197 

married Juchs for any reason, I gathered, 
except to please him. It did please him very 
much, she said, and I can quite imagine it. 
Siegfried, too, had been pleased in his day. 
** I seem to have a gift for pleasing Germans,'* 
she remarked, smiling. "They were both 
very kind to me. I ended by being very 
fond of them both. I believe I'd be fond of 
any one who was kind. There's a good deal 
of the dog about me." 

Directly the war began she packed up and 
came to Switzeriand; she didn't wish, under 
such circumstances, to risk pleasing any more 
Germans. Since her marriage to Juchs all 
her English relations except Kitty had cast 
her off, so that only a neutral country was 
open to her, and Kitty instantly gave up 
everybody and everything to come and be 
with her. At first her little income was sent 
to her by her German bank, but after the 
first few months it sent no more, and she 
became entirely dependent on Kitty. All 
that Kitty had was what she got from selling 
her house. The Germans, Dolly said, would 
send no money out of the country. Though 
the war was over she could get nothing out 
of them unless she went back. She would 
never go back. It would kill Kitty; and 



m 



198 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

she, too, she thought, would very likely die. 
Her career of pleasing Germans does seem to 
be de6nitely over. 

**So you see,'* she said, smiling, "how won- 
derful it is for us to have found you.** 

"What I can't get over," I said, "is having 
found you.** 

But I wish, having found her, I might 
sometimes talk to her. 

September I2th. 

We live here in an atmosphere of combats 
de generosiU. It is tremendous. Mrs. Barnes 
and I are always doing things we don't want 
to do because we suppose it is what is going 
to make the other one happy. The tyranny 
of unselfishness! I can hardly breathe. 

September \9th. 

I think it isn't good for women to be shut 
up too long alone together without a man. 
They seem to fester. Even the noblest. 
Taking our intentions all round they really 
are quite noble. We do only want to de- 
velop in ideal directions, and remove what we 
think are the obstacles to this development 
in each other's paths; and yet we fester. 
Not Dolly. Nothing ever smudges her 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 199 

equable, clear wholesomeness; but there are 
moments when I feel as if Mrs. Barnes and I 
got much mixed up together in a sort of 
sticky mass. Faint struggles from time to 
time brief efforts at extrication, show there 
IS still a hfe in me that is not flawlessly 
benevolent, but I repent of them as soon as 
made because of the pain and surprise that 
instantly appear in Mrs. Barnes's tired 
pathetic eyes, and hastily I engulf myself 
once more in goodness. 

That's why I haven't written lately-not 
for a whole week. It is glutinous, the pre- 
vailmg goodness. I have stuck. I have 
felt as though my mind were steeped in 
treacle. Then to-day I remembered m I 
age, and the old lady waiting at the em' r 
the years who will want to be amused, so I've 
begun again. I have an idea that what will 
rea ly most amuse that old lady, that wrinkled, 
philosophical old thing, will be all the times 
when I was being uncomfortable. She will 
be so very comfortable herself, so done with 
everything, so entirely an impartial looker- 
on, that the rebellions and contortions and 
woes of the creature who used to be herself 
will only make her laugh. She will be blithe 
m her security. Besides, she will know the 



200 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



m 



sequel, she will know what came next, and 
will see, I daresay, how vain the expense of 
trouble and emotions was. So that naturally 
> e will laugh. "You silly little thing!" 
I can imagine her exclaiming, "if only you 
had known how it all wasn't going to matter!'* 
And she will laugh very heartily; for I am 
sure she will be a gay old lady. 

But what we really want here now is an 

occasional breath of brutality — the passage, 

infrequent and not too much prolonged, of a 

man. If he came to tea once in a way it 

wou'a do. He would be a blast of fresh air. 

He would be like opening a window. We 

have minced about among solicitudes and 

delicacies so very long. I want to smell the 

rankness of a pipe, and see the cushions 

thrown anyhow. I want to see somebody who 

doesn't knit. I want to hear Mrs. Barnes 

being contradicted. Especially do I want to 

hear Mrs. Barnes being contradicted . . . 

oh, I'm afraid I'm still not very good! 

September 20th. 

The grapes are ripe down in the vineyards 
along the edge of the valley, and this morning 
I proposed that we should start off early and 
spend the day among them doing a grape-cure. 



IN THE MOUNTALXS 201 

Mrs. Barnes liked the idea very much, and 
sandwiches were ordered, for we were not to 
come back till evening; then at the last 
moment she thought it would be too hot in 
the valley, and that her head, which has been 
aching lately, might get worse. The sand- 
wiches were ready on the hall table. Dolly 
and I were ready, too, boots on and sticks in 
hand. To our great surprise Mrs. Barnes, 
contemplating the sandwiches, said that as 
they had been cut they mustn't be wasted, 
and therefore we had better go without her 

We were astonished. We were like chil- 
dren being given a holiday. She kissed us 
affectionately when we said good-bye, as 
though to mark her trust in us-in Dolly that 
she wouldn t tell me the dreadful truth about 
herself, m me that I wouldn't encourage her 
in undesirable points of view. How safe we 
were, how deserving of trust, Mrs. Barnes 
naturally didn't know. Nothing that either of 
us could say could possibly upset the other. 

It Mrs. Barnes knew the worst, knew I 
knew everything, wouldn't she be happier?" 
I asked Dolly as we went briskly down the 
mountain. ^ Wouldn't at least part of her 
daily anxiety be got rid of, her daily fear lest 
l^AowWget toknow?" 



202 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



?fr 






"It would kill her," said Dolly, firmly. 
"But surely " 



<(- 



You mustn't forget that she thinks what 
I did was a crime." 

"You mean the uncle." 

"Oh, she wouldn't very much mind your 
knowing about Siegfried. She would do her 
utmost to prevent it, because of her horror 
of Germans and of the horror she assumes 
you have of Germans. But once you did 

know she would be resigned. The other " 

Dolly shook her head. "It would kill her," 
she said again. 

We came to a green slope starred thick 
with autumn crocuses, and sat down to look 
at them. These delicate, lovely things have 
been appearing lately on the mountain, at 
first one by one and then in flocks — pale 
cups of light, lilac on long white stalks that 
snap off at a touch. Like the almond trees 
in the suburban gardens round London that 
flower when the winds are cruellest, the 
autumn crocuses seem too frail to face the 
cold nights we are having now; yet it is just 
when conditions are growing unkind that they 
come out. There they are, all over the moun- 
tain fields, flowering in greater profusion 
the further the month moves toward winter. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 203 

TTiis particular field of them was so beautiful 
that with one accord Dolly and I sat down to 
look. One doesn't pass such beauty by. 
1 think we sat quite half an hour drinking in 
those crocuses, and their sunny plateau, and 
the way the tops of the pine trees on the slope 
below stood out against the blue emptiness 
of the valley. We were most content. The 
sun was so warm, i'ie air of such an extraor- 
dmaiy fresh purity. Just to breathe was 
happiness. I thirJc that in my life I have 
been most blest in this, that so often just to 
breathe has been happiness. 

Dolly and I, now that we could talk as 
much as we wanted to, didn't after all talk 
much. Suddenly I felt incurious about her 
Germans. I didn't want them among the 
crocuses. The past, both hers and mine 
seemed to matter very little, seemed a stuffy! 
indifferent thing, in that clear present. I 
don t suppose if we hadn't brought an empty 
basket with us on purpose to take back 
grapes to Mrs. Barnes that we would have 
gone on down to the vineyards at all, but 
rather have spent the day just where we 
were The basket, however, had to be filled; 
It had to be brought back filled. It was to 
be the proof that we had done what we said 



204 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 






we would. Kitty, said Dolly, would be 
fidgeted if we hadn't carried out the original 
plan, and might be afraid that if we weren't 
eating grapes all day as arranged we were 
probably using our idle mouths for saying 
things she wished left unsaid. 

"Does poor Kitty always fidget?" I asked. 

"Always," said Dolly. 

"About every single thing that might 
happen?" 

"Every single thing," said Dolly. "She 
spends her life now entirely in fear — and it's 
all because of me." 

"But really, while she is with me she could 
have a holiday from fear if we told her I knew 
about your uncle and had accepted it with calm . ' ' 

"It would kill her," said Dolly once more, 
firmly. 

We lunched in the vineyards, and our 
dessert was grapes. We ate them for a long 
while with enthusiasm, and went on eating 
them through every degree of declining 
pleas ve till we disliked them. For fifty 
centimes each the owner gave us permission 
to eat grapes till we died if we wished to. 
For another franc we were allowed to fill the 
basket for Mrs. Barnes. Only conscientious- 
ness made us fill it full, for we couldn't believe 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 205 

anybody would really want to eat such things 
as grapes. Then we began to crawl up the 
mountain again, greatly burdened both inside 
and out. 

It took us over three hours to get home 
We carried the basket in turns, half an hour 
at a time; but what about those other, 
invisible, grapes, that came with us as well? 
I think people who have been doing a grape- 
cure should sit quiet for the rest of the day 
or else waiR only on the level. To have to 
take one's cure up five thousand feet with 
one IS hard. Again we didn't talk; this time 
because we couldn't. All that we could do 
was to pant and to perspire. It was a bril- 
liant afternoon, and the way led up when 
the vineyards left oflF through stunted fir 
trees that gave no shade, along narrow paths 
strewn with dry fir needles-the slipperiest 
things m the world to walk on. Through 
these hot, shadeless trees the sun beat on our 
bent and burdened figures. Whenever we 
stopped to rest and caught sight of each 
other's flushed, wet faces we laughed. 

"Kitty needn't have been afraid we'd say 
much," panted Dolly in one of these pauses, 
her eyes screwed up with laughter at my 
melted state. 



206 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 






■ I 



II 



I knew what a must be looking like by 
looking at her. 

It was five o'clock by the time we reached 
the field with the crocuses, and we sank down 
on the grass where we had sat in the morning, 
speechless, dripping, overwhelmed by grapes. 
For a long while we said nothing. It was 
bliss tu lie in the cool grass and not to have 
to carry anything. The sun, low in the 
sky, slanted almost level along the field, 
and shining right through the thin-petalled 
crocuses made of each c little star. I don't 
know anything more happy than to be where 
it is beautiful with someone who sees and 
loves it as much as you do yourself. We lay 
stretched out on the grass, quite silent, 
watching the splendour grow and grow till, 
having reached a supreme moment of radi- 
ance, it suddenly went out. The sun dropped 
behind the mountains along to the west, 
and out went the light; with a flick; in an 
instant. And the crocuses, left standing in 
their drab field, looked like so many blown- 
out candles. 

Dolly sat up. 

"There, now," she said. "That's over. 
They look as blind and dim as a woman whose 
lover has left her. Have you ever," she asked, 



mm i 




IN THE MOUNTAINS 207 

turning her head to me still lying pillowed 
on Mrs. Barnes's grapes— the basket had a 
lid— "seen a woman whose lover has left 
her?'' 

"Of course I have. Everybody has been 
left by somebody." 
"I mean JM^Meft." 
"Yes. I've seen that, too." 
"They look exactly like that," said Dolly, 
nodding toward the crocuses. "Smitten 
colourless. Light gone, life gone, beauty 
gone— dead things in a dead world. I don't,'* 
she concluded, shaking her head slowlv, 
"hold with love." 

At this I L;at up, too, and began to tidy my 
hair and put my hat on again. "It's cold," 
I said, "now that the sun is gone. Let us go 
home." 

Dolly didn't move. 
"Do you?" she asked. 
"Do I what?" 
"Hold with love." 
"Yes," I said. 
" Whatever happens? " 
"Yes," I said. 
"Whatever its end is?" 
"Yes," I said. "And I won't even say yes 
and no, as the cautious Charlotte Bronte did 



208 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



when she was asked if she liked London. I 
won't be cautious in love. I won't look at all 
the reasons for saying no. It's a glorious 
thing to have had. It's splendid to have 
believed all one did believe." 

"Even when there never was a shred of 
justification for the belief?" asked Dolly, 
watching me. 

**Yes," I said; and began passionately to 
pin my hat on, digging the pins into my head 
in my vehemence. "Yes. The thing is to 
believe. Not go round first cautiously on 
tip-toe so as to be sure before believing and 
trusting that your precious belief and trust 
are going to be safe. Safe! There's no 
safety in love. You risk the whole of life. 
But the great thing is to risk — to believe, 
and to risk everything for your belief. And 
if there wasn't anything there, if it was you 
all by yourself who imagined the beautiful, 
kind things in the other one, the wonderful, 
generous, beautiful kind things, what does it 
matter? They weren't there, but you for 
once were capable of imagining them. You 
were up among the stars for a little, you did 
touch heaven. And when you've had the 
tumble down again and you're scrunched all 
to pieces and are just a miserable heap of 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 209 

blood and brokenness, where's your grit that 
you should complain? Haven't you seen 
wonders up there past all telling, and had 
supreme joys? It's because you were up in 
heaven that your fall is so tremendous and 
hurts so. What you've got to do is not to be 
killed. You've got at all costs to stay alive 
so that for the rest of your days you may 
go gratefully, giving thanks to God that 
once . . . you see," I finished, suddenly, 
im a great believer in saying thank 
you. 

"Oh," said Dolly, laying her hand on my 
knee and looking at me very kindlv, "I'm 
so glad!" ^. im 

"Now what are you glad about, Dolly?" 
I asked, turning on her and giving my hat a 
pull straight. And I added, my chin in the 
air, Those dead women of yours in their 
dead world, indeed! Ashamed of them- 
selves—that's what they ought to be." 

"You're cured," said Dolly. 

"Cured?" I echoed. 

I stared at her severely. "Oh— I see " I 
said. "You've been drawing me out." 

"Of course I have. I couldn't bear to 
haSr . _^„^'''°» ^° ^^'""S unhappy- 



210 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 




"Hankering?" 

Dolly got up. "Now let's go home," she 
said. "It's my turn to carry 'the basket. 
Yes, it's a horrid word. Nobody should ever 
hanker. I couldn't bear it if you did. I've 
been afraid that perhaps " 

"Hankering!" 

I got up, too, and stood very straight. 

"Give me those grapes," said Dolly. 

"Hankering!" I said again. 

And the rest of the way home, along the 
cool path where the dusk was gathering 
among the bushes and the grass was damp 
now beneath our dusty shoes, we walked 
with heads held high— hankering indeed!— 
two women surely in perfect harmony with 
life and the calm evening, women of wisdom 
and intelligence, of a proper pride and self- 
respect, kind women, good women, pleasant, 
amiable women, contented women, pleased 
women; and at the last corner, the last one 
between us and Mrs. Barnes's eye on the 
terrace, Dolly stopped, put down the basket, 
and laying both her arms about my shoulders 

kissed me. 

"Cured," she said, kissing me on one side of 
my face. "Safe," she said, kissing me on the 
other. 



i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS «ii 

And we laughed, both of us, confident 
and glad. And I went up to my room 
confident and glad, for if I felt cured and 
Dolly was sure I was cured, mustn't it be 
true? 

Hankering indeed. 

September 21st. 

But I'm not cured. For when I was alone 
in my room last night and the house was 
quiet with sleep, a great emptiness came upon 
me, and those fine, defiant words of mine in 
the afternoon seemed poor things, poor 
dwindled things, like kaisers in their night- 
gowns. For hou I lay awake with only one 
longing: to creep back— back into my shat- 
tered beliefs, even if it were the littlest 
corner of them. Surely there must be some 
corner of them still, with squeezing, habit- 
able? I'm so small. I need hardly any 
room. I'd curl up. I'd fit myself in. And 
I wouldn't look at the ruin uf the great-splen- 
did spaces I once thought I lived in, but be 
content with a few inches. Oh, it's cold, cold, 
cold, left outside of faith like this. . . 

For hours I lay awake; and being ashamed 
of myself did no good, because love doesn't 
mind about being ashamed. 



<212 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 









Evening. 

All day I've slunk about in silence, watch- 
ing for a moment alone with Dolly. I want 
to tell her that it was only one side of me 
yesterday, and that there's another, and 
another — oh, so many others; that I meant 
every word I said, but there are other things, 
quite different, almost opposite things that I 
also mean; that it's true I'm cured, but only 
cured in places, and over the rest of me, the 
rest that is still sick, great salt waves of 
memories wash every now and then and bite 
and bite. 

But Dolly, who seems more like an un- 
ruffled pool of clear water to-day than ever, 
hasn't left Mrs. Barnes's side; making up, 
I suppose, for being away from her all yester- 
day. 

Toward tea-lime I became aware that 
Mrs. Barnes was watching me with a worried 
face, tlio well-known worried, anxious face, 
and I guessed she was wondering if Dolly 
had been indiscreet on our picnic and told me 
things that had shocked me into silence. 
So I cast about in my mind for something to 
reassure her, and, as I thought fortunately, 
very soon remembered the grapes. 

"I'm afraid I ate too many grapes yester- 



IN THE MOUNTAINS us 

day," I said, when next I caught her worried, 
questioning eye. 

n,^"t !?-^ t""^- ^ ~»8«>t"'«ted myself. 
But I didn t congratulate myself long; for 
Mrs. Barnes, all motherly solicitude, inquired 
«f by any chance I had swallowed some of the 
stones; and desiring to reassure her to the 
utmost as to the reason of my thoughtfulness. 
I said that vciy likely I had; from the fee 
of things; from the kind of heaviness. . 
And she, before I could stop her. had darted 
nto the kitchen-these lean women are 
terribly nimble-and before I could turn 
round or decide what to do next, for by this 
t-me I was suspicious, she was back again 

rlnl, .-^"'f'"" ""'' "" the dreadful 
paraphernalia of castor oil. And I had to 

tIJ\ ^"'^ •' '^'^^'^ •'"d that because 
i had been so benevolently desirous to 
reassure Mrs. Barnes I should have to drink 
"'f'^l?''.^"'' he grateful to her as well. 

... K .f." '?"^'" ^ thought, sombrely eyeing 
the bottl^I alluded in my mind to Fate. 

But as I had to drink the stuff I might as 
well do It gallantly. And so I did; tossing 
It off with an air. after raising the glass and 
wishing the onlookers health and happiness 
m what I tried to make a pleasant speech. 



214 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



m i 



HI 



Mrs. Barnes, Mrs. Antoine, and Dolly stood 
watching me spellbound. A shudder rippled 
over them as the last drops slid down. 

Then I came up here. 

September 29 nd. 

Let me draw your attention, O ancient 
woman sitting at the end of my life, to the 
colour of th€ trees and bushes in this place 
you once lived in, in autumns that for you 
are now so far away. Do you remember 
how it was like flames, and the very air was 
golden .J* The hazel -bushes — do you remem- 
ber them? Along the path that led down 
from the terrace to the village? How each 
separate one was like a heap of light? Do 
you remember how you spent to-day, the 
22nd of September, 1919, lying on a rug in 
the sun close up under one of them, content 
to stare at the clear yellow leaves against 
the amazing sky? You've forgotten, I dare- 
say. You're only thinking of your next 
meal and being put to bed. But you did 
spend a day to-day worth remembering. 
You were very content. You were exactly 
balanced in the present, without a single 
oscillation toward either the past, a period 
you hadn't then learned to regard with the 






i 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 215 

levity for which you are now so remarkable 
or to the future, which you at llir.t time* 
however much the attitude mj y omuse , oj 
now, thought of with doubt ai,d often vith 
fear. Mrs. Barnes let you go to-day, having 
an appreciation of the privileges due to the 
dosed, and you took a cushion and a rug- 
active, weren't you?— and there you lay the 
whole blessed day, the sun warm on your 
body, enfolded in freshness, thinking of 
nothmg but calm things. Rather like a baby 
you were; a baby on its back sucking its thumb 
and placidly contemplating the nursery ceil- 
ing. But the ceiling was the great sky, with 
two eagles ever so far up curving in its depths, 
and when they sloped their wings the sun 
caught them and they flashed. 

It seems a pity to forget these things. 
They make up. after all, the real preciousness 
of life. But I'm afraid my writing them 
down won't make you feel any joy in them 
again, you old thing. You'll be too brittle 
and rheumaticky to be able to think of lying 
on the grass for a whole day except with 
horror. I'm beginning to dislike the idea of 
^■cing forced into your old body; and, on 
refleraon, your philosophical detachment, 
your incapacity to do anything but laugh at 



216 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



ii^ 




the hopes and griefs and exultations and 
disappointments and bitter pains of your 
past, seems to me very like the fixed grimace 
of fleshless death. 

September ^Srd. 

Mrs. Barnes can't, however hard she tries, 
be with us absolutely continuously. Gaps 
in her attendance do inevitably occur. There 
was one of them to-day; and I seized it to 
say to Dolly across the momentarily empty 
middle chair — we were on the terrace and 
the reading was going on — "I've not seen 
you alone since the grape day. I wanted to 
tell you that I'm not cured. I had a relapse 
that very night. I meant all I said to you, 
but I meant, too, all I said to myself while I 
was having the relapse. You'd better know 
the worst. I simply intolerably hankered." 

Dolly let Merivale fall on her lap, and 
gazed pensively at the distant mountains 
across the end of the valley. 

"It's only the last growlings," she said 
after a moment. 

"Growlings?" I echoed. 

"It's only the last growlings and mutter- 
ings of a thunderstorm that's going away. 
Whatever it was that happened to you — 



m 

m 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 217 

you've never told me. you know, but I'm 

like a T''/' "'"^''°" knowing-wasvtry 
like a thuaderstorm. A violent one. It was 

While t was going on, like some otherwise 
promising crop— ' • "-cuvise 

y^Cu Pf°t^«t«d; but I had to laugh. 

t. I wouldn't talk like this." she said 
Uirning her sweet eyes to me. "I wouS 
make fun if I weren't sure you are on the 

Szl r.f f r' '''^' ^'^^" y"" begin to 
realize that falling out of love is every bit as 

agreeable as falling in. It is, you know 
Us a wonderful feeling, that gradual rettor" 
tion to freedom and one's friends." 

"You don't understand, after all," I said 

Dolly said she did. 

lovl^"m!rr''J°" ^"'.'^ "f ^''"'"S °"t of 
love. What has happened to me is far worse 

than that. That? That's nothing. It's 
what everybody is doing all the time ^at 
has happened to me is that I've lost my faith 
It has been like losing God, after years of 
trust in Him. I believed with all my heart 
And I am desolate." 



218 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



;■,' 



But Dolly only shook her head. "You're 
not as desolate as you were," she said. "No- 
body who loves all this as you do" — and she 
turned up her face to the warm sun, blinking 
her eyes — "can go on being desolate long. 
Besides — really, you know — look at that." 

And she pointed to the shining mountains 
across the valley's eastern end. 

"Yes. That is eternal. Beauty is eternal. 
When I look at that, when I am in the clear 
mood that, looking at the mountains, really 
sees them, all the rest, the bewilderment and 
crying out, the clinging and the hankering, 
seem indeed unworthy. Imagine, with the 
vast landscape of the splendid world spread 
out before you, not moving freely in it on 
and on, rejoicing and praising God, but 
sitting quite still lamenting in one spot, 
stuck in sediment." 

"Did you say sentiment.?" asked Dolly. 

"Did I say anything?" I asked in surprise, 
turning my head to her. "I thought I was 
thinking." 

"\ou were doing it aloud, then," said 
Dolly. "Was the word sentiment?" 

"No. Sediment." 

"They're the same thing. I hate them 
both." 



f 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 2,9 

September iith. 
What will happen to Mrs n„„ 

Dolly when I go back tf Fn„? T ^!"' 

weather was a^itSffidgety lodlv Th 
yesterday, a little troubled, hke a e^tu- 

that st.« fretfully in its sleep, and It L7 
me th.nk.ng. For once the change real 
»^g«ns at this time of the year it dS 
«top any more. It goes on th ougnn 
increasing unpleasantness-winds, rah, snow 
bhezards-till. after Christmas, the red^^' 

tTe trr T'''''. " ^■°"'^' wiihout r tirof 

the air. ,ts short days flooded with sunshin^ 
US dawns and twilights miracles of cZr "' 
an^K r '" ''"'^ "°'^« «f snow-flurries 

elrinl "' "'^''"- ^« 'a^t blizzard, 

tearmg away over the mountains, is like 

new"i"^'"'o"" '°".!"^ "P= -d "behold a 
new word. One night while you are asleep 

iintle ''"''.'^"""Ss suddenly leave o^ 

and for tm"^-^"" '"""^ ""' of the window 
and for the first time for weeks you see the 

mountams at the end of the valley dear 

against the eastern sky, clothed in Til „ew 

now from head to foot, and behind them thi 

know, because I was obliged to be here 



220 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



i! 



through the October and November and 
December of the year the house was built and 
was being furnished. They were three most 
horrid months; and the end of them was 
heaven. 

But what will become of Mrs. Barnes and 
Dolly when the weather does finally break up? 

I can*t face the picture of them spending 
a gloomy, half-warmed winter down in some 
cheap pension; an endless winter of doing 
without things, of watching every franc. 
They've been living like that for five years 
now. Where does Dolly get her sweet serenity 
from? I wish I could take them to England 
with me. But Dolly can't go to England. 
She is German. She is doomed. And Mrs. 
Barnes is doomed, too, inextricably tied up in 
Dolly's fate. Of course I am going to beg 
them to stay on here, but it seems a poor thing 
to offer them, to live up here in blizzards 
that I run away from myself. It does seem a 
very doubtful offer of hospitality. I ought, 
to make it real, to stay on with them. And I 
simply couldn't. I do believe I would die if 
I had three months shut up with Mrs. Barnes 
in blizzards. Let her have everything — the 
house, the Antoines, all, all that I possess; 
but only let me go. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 221 

My spirit faints at the task before me 
at the thought of the persuasions and tlie 
protests that will have to be gone through. 
And Dolly; how can I leave Dolly? J 
shall be haunted in London by visions of 
these two up here, the wind raging round 
the house, the snow piled up to the bedroom 
wmdows, sometimes cut off for a whole 
week from the village, because only in a 
pause m the blizzard can the little black 
figures that are peasants come sprawling 
over the snow with their shovels to dig 
one out. I know because I have been through 
It that first winter. But it was all new to us 
then, and we were a care-free, cheerful group 
inside the house, five people who loved each 
other and talked about anything they wanted 
to, besides being backed reassuringly by a sack 
of lentils and several sacks of potatoes that 
Antome, even then prudent and my right 
hand, had laid in for just this eventuality. 
\\e made great fires, and brewed strange 
drinks. We sat round till far into the 
nights telhng ghost stories. We laughed 
a good deal, and said just what we felt 
like saymg. But Mrs. Barnes and Dolly? 
Alone up here, and undug out? It will haunt 
me. 



222 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



September 25th. 

She hasn*t noticed the weather yet. At 
least, she has drawn no deductions from it. 
Evidently she thinks its fitfulness, its gleams 
of sunshine and its uneasy cloudings over, 
are just a passing thing and that it soon 
will settle down again to what it was before. 
After all, she no doubt says to herself, it 
is still September. But Antoine knows bet- 
ter, and so do I, and it is merely hours now 
before the break-up will be plain even to 
Mrs. Bames. Then the combats de gene- 
rositS will begin. I can't, I can't stop here 
so that Mrs. Barnes may be justified to 
herself in stopping, too, ont he ground of 
cheering my solitude. I drank the castor 
oil solely that her mind might be at rest, 
but I can't develop any further along 
lines of such awful magnanimity. I would 
die. 



September 26th. 

To-day I smoked twelve cigarettes, only 
that the house should smell virile. They're 
not as good as a pipe for that, but they're 
better than the eternal characterless, clean 
smell of unselfish women. 

After each cigarette Mrs. Barnes got up 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 223 

itroS^ ""' "'^ ^^ -- '"'- 

Also I threw the cushions on the floor 
be ore fl,„g,„g mys^it „„ ^^^ ^^^^ .^ ' 

Then I threw them down again. 
Toward evening she asked me if I was 
eehng qu,te well. I wasn't, because of 

I saidTf U ' •'"' ^ *'^"'* *«" her that. 
I M ./ * T'y '^*" '°'1«^- Naturally 
1 could.,'t explain to her that I had only 

been trymg to pretend there was a man about 

*ou re sure those grape-stones ?" she 

began, anxiously. 

"Oh. certain!" I cried; and hastily be- 
came meek. ^ 

September 27/A. 

Oaths, now. I shrink from so much as 

fuggesting it but the«. u something to 

be sa,d for them. They're so brief. They 

get the mood over. They dear the air. 

Women explam and protest and tip-toe tax:t- 

fuliy about among what they think are 

your feehngs, and there's no end to it. And 

then, if they're good women, good, affec- 

tionate, unselfish women, they have a way of 



224 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

forgiving you. They keep on forgiving you. 
Freely. With a horrible magnanimousness. 
Mrs. Barnes insisted on forgiving me yester- 
day for the cigarettes, for the untidiness. It 
isn't a happy thing, I think, to be shut up in a 
small, lonely house being forgiven. 

September ^Sth. 

In the night the wind shook the windows 
and the rain pelted against them, and I 
knew that when I went down to break- 
fast the struggle with Mrs. Barnes would 
begin. 

It did. It began directly after breakfast in 
the hall, where Antoine, remarking firmly 
''Cest Vhiver,'* had lit a roaring fire, deter- 
mined this time to stand no parsimonious 
nonsense; and it has gone on all day, with the 
necessary intervals for recuperation. 

Nothing has been settled. I still don't 
in the least know what to do. Mrs. Barnes's 
attitude is obstinately unselfish. She and 
Dolly, she reiterates, won't dream of staying 
on here unless they feel that by doing so 
they could be of service to me by keeping 
me company. If I'm not here I can't be 
kept company with; that, she says, I must 
admit. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 225 

I do. Every time she says it— it has been 
a day of reiterations— I admit it. There- 
fore, if I go they go, she finishes with a 
kmd of sombre triumph at her determina- 
tion not to give trouble or be an expense; 
but words fail her, she adds (this is a delu- 
sion) to express her gratitude for my offer, 
etc., and never, for the rest of their lives, will 
she and Dolly forget the delightful etc., etc. 

What am I to do? I don't know. How 
lightly one embarks on marriage and on 
j guests, and in what unexpected directions 

n do both develop! Also, what a terrible 

thing is unselfishness. Once it has become 
a habit, how tough, how difficult to uproot. 
A single obstinately unselfish person can 
wreck the happiness of a whole household. 
Is it possible that I shall have to stay here? 
And I have so many things waiting for me 
in England that have to be done. 

There's a fire in my bedroom, and I've been 
sitting on the floor staring into it for the past 
hour, seeking a solution. Because all the 
while Mrs. Barnes is firmly refusing to listen 
for a moment to my entreaties to use the 
house while I'm away, her thin face is hungry 
with longing to accept, and the mere talking, 
however bravely, of taking up the old home- 



2«6 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

less wandering again 61Is her tired eyes with 
tears. 

Once I got so desperate that I begged her 
to stay as a kindness to me, in order to 
keep an eye on those patently efficient 
and trustworthy Antoines. This, indeed, was 
the straw-clutching of the drowning, and 
even Mrs. Barnes, that rare smiler, smiled. 

No. I don't know what to do. How 
the wind screams. 1*11 go to bed. 

September 29/A. 

And there's nothing to be done with 
Dolly, either. 

"You told me you put your foot down 
sometimes," I said, appealing to her this 
morning in one of Mrs. Barnes's brief ab- 
sences. " Wby don't you put it down now?" 

"Because . don't want to," said Dolly. 
^^ "But why not?" I asked, exasperated. 
"It's so reasonable what I suggest, so easy " 

"I don't want to stay here without you," 
said Dolly. "This place is you. You've 
made it. It is soaked in you. I should 
feel haunted here without you. Why, I 
should feel lost." 

"As though you would! When we hardly 
speak to each other as it is " 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 227 

^^ "But I watch you." said Dolly, smiling, 
and I know what you're thinking. You've 
no idea how what you're thinking comes out 
on your face." 

*'But if it makes your unhappy sister's 
mind more comfortable? If she feels free 
from anxiety here? If she feels you are 
safe here?'* I passionately reasoned. 
**I don't want to be safe." 
**0h, Dolly— you're not going to break 
out again?" I asked, as anxiously every 
bit as poor Mrs. Barnes would have asked. 

Dolly laughed. *'ril never rio anythi.ig 
again that makes Kitty unhappy," she said. 
"But I do like the feeling—" she made a 
movement with her arms as though they 
were wings— "oh, I like the feeling of having 
room!" ^ 

September SOth. 

The weather is better again, and there 
has been a pause in our strivings. Mrs. 
Barnes and I drifted, tired both of us, I rest- 
ing in that refuge of the weak, the putting 
off of making up my mind, back into talking 
only of the situation and the view. If 
Mrs. Barnes were either less good or more 
intelligent! But the combination of noii- 



i 

i 



^1 



228 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

intelligence with goodness is unassailable 
You can't get through. Nothing gets through. 
You give in. You are flattened out. You 
become a slave. And your case is indeed 
hopeless if the non-intelligent and good are at 
the same time the victims, nobly enduring, of 
undeserved misfortune. 

Evening. 

A really remarkable thing happened to-day: 
I've had a prayer answered. I shall never 
dare pray again. I prayed for a man, any 
man, to come and leaven us, and I've got him. 

Let me set it down in order. 

This afternoon on our walk, soon after 
we had left the house and were struggling 
along against gusts of wind and whirling 
leaves in the direction, as it happened, of 
the carriage road up from the valley, Dolly 
said, "Who is that funny little man coming 
toward us?" 

And I looked, and said after a moment in 
which my heart stood still—for what had 
he come for.?— "That funny Httle man is 
my uncle." 

There he was, the authentic uncle: gaiters, 
apron, shovel hat. He was holding on his 
hat, and the rude wind, thwarted in its 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 229 

desire to frolic with it, frisked instead about 
his apron, twitching it up, bellying it out; 
so that his remaining hand had all it could 
do to smooth the apron down again decor- 
ously, and he was obliged to carry his um- 
brella pressed tightly against his side under 
his arm. 

"Not your uncle the Dean?" asked Mrs. 
Barnes in a voice of awe, hastily arranging 
her toque; for a whiff of the Church, any 
whiff, even one so faint as a curate, is as 
the breath of life to her. 

"Yes,'* I said, amazed and helpless. "My 
Uncle Rudolph." 

"Why, he might be a German," said 
Dolly, "with a name like that." 

"Oh, but don't say so to him!" I cried. 

"He has a perfect horrw of Germans '* 

And it was out before I remembered, 
before I could stop it. Good heavens, I 
thought; good heavens. 

I looked sideways at Mrs. Barnes. She 
was, I am afraid, very red. So I plunged 
in again, eager to reassure her. "That is 
to say," I said, "he used to have during the 
war. But of course now that the war is 
over it would be mere silliness — nobody 
minds now — nobody ought to mind now " 



230 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



My voice, however, trailed out into silence, 
for I knew, and Mrs. Barnes knew, that 
people do mind. 

By this time we were within hail of my 
uncle and with that joy one instinctively 
assumes on such occasions I waved my 
stick in exultant circles at him and called 
out, "How very delightful of you. Uncle 
Rudolph!" And I advanced to greet him, 
the others tactfully dropping behind, alone. 

There on the mountain side, with the rude 
wind whisking his clothes irreverently about, 
we kissed; and in my uncle's kiss I instantly 
perceived something of the quality of Mrs. 
Barnes's speeches the day I smoked the 
twelve cigarettes—he was forgiving me. 

"I have come to escort you home to 
England," he said, his face spread over 
with the spirit of allowing byegones to be 
byegones; and in that spirit he let go of 
his apron in order reassuringly to pat my 
shoulder. Immediately the apron bellied. 
His hand had abruptly to leave my shoulder 
so as to clutch it down again. "You are 
with ladies?" he said a little distractedly, 
holding on to this turbulent portion of his 
clothing. 

"Yes, Uncle Rudolph," I replied, modestly. 




IN THE MOUNTAINS 231 

"I hope you didn't expect to find me with 
gentlemen?" 

"I expected to find you, dear child, as 
I have always found you— ready to admit 
and retrace. Generously ready to admit 
and retrace." 

"Sweet of you," I murmured. "But you 
should have let me know you were coming. 
I'd have had things killed for you. Fatted 
things." 

"It is not I," he said, in as gentle a voice 
as he could manage, the wind being what 
It was, "who am the returning prodigal. 
Indeed I wish for your sake that I were. 
My shoulders could bear the 'urden better 
than those little ones of yours." 

This talk was ominous, so I said, "I must 
introduce you to Mrs. Barnes and her sister 
Mrs. Jewks. Let me present," I said, cere- 
moniously, turning to them who were now 
fortunately near enough, "my Uncle Rudolph 
to you, of whom you have often heard me 
speak." 

"Indeed we have," said Mrs. Barnes, with 
as extreme a cordiality as awe permitted. 

My uncle, obviously relieved to find his 
niece not eccentrically alone but flanked by 
figures so respectable, securely, as it were. 



Ml 



1*1 



^* i 




232 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

embedded in widows, was very gracious. Mrs 
Barnes received his pleasant speeches with 
dehghted reverence; and as we went back to 
the house, for the first thing to do with arrivals 
from England is to give them a bath, he and 
she fell naturally into each other's company 
along the narrow track, and Dolly and I 
followed behind. 

We looked at each other simultaneously, 
perceivmg the advantages of four rather 
than of three. Behind Mrs. Barnes's absorbed 
and obsequious back we looked at each other 
with visions in our eyes of unsupervised talks 
opening before us. 

"They have their uses, you see," I said 
in a low voice— not that I need have lowered 
it in that wind. 

"Deans Iiave," agreed Dolly, nodding. 

And my desire to laugh— discreetly, under 
my breath, ready to pull my face sober 
and be gazing at the clouds the minute our 
relations should turn round, was strangled 
by the chill conviction that my uncle's coming 
means painful things for me. 

He is going to talk to me; talk about 
what I am trying so hard not to think of 
what I really am succeeding in not thinking 
of; and he is going to approach the deso- 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 233 

lating subject in, as he will say and perhaps 
even persuade himself to believe, a Christian 
spirit, but in what really is a spirit of sheer 
woridliness. He has well-founded hopes of 
soon going to be a bishop. I am his niece. 
The womenkind of bishops should be incon- 
spicuous, should see to it that comment 
cannot touch them. Therefore he is going 
to try to get me to deliver myself up to a 
life of impossible wretchedness again, only 
that the outside of it may look in order. 
The outside of the house— of the house of 
a bishop's niece— at all costs keep it neat, 
keep it looking like all the others in the 
street; so shall nobody know what is going 
on inside, and the neighbours won't talk 
about one's uncle. 

If I were no relation but just a mere, ordinary 
stranger-soul in difficulties, he, this very same 
man, would be full of understanding, would 
find himself unable, indeed, the facts being 
what they are, to be anything but most earn- 
estly concerned to help me keep clear of all 
temptations to do what he calls retrace. 
And at the same time he would be con- 
cerned also to strengthen me in that mood 
which is I am sure the right one, and does 
very often recur, of being entirely without 



234 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



k 



'^««»ntment and so glad to have the remem- 
brance at least of the beautiful things I 
believed in. But I am his niece. He is 
about to become a bishop. Naturally he has 
to be careful not to be too much like Christ. 

Accordingly, I followed uneasily in his 
footsteps toward the house, dreading what 
was going to happen next. And nothing 
has happened next. Not yet, anyhow. I 
expect to-morrow. . . , 

We spent a most bland evening. I'm 
as sleepy and as much satiated by ecclesias- 
tical good things as though I had been the 
whole day in church. My uncle, washed, 
shaven, and restored by tea, laid himself 
out to entertain. He was the decorous life 
of the party. He let himself go to that 
tempered exuberance with which good men 
of his calling like to prove that they really 
are not so very much different from other 
people after all. Round the hall fire we 
sat after tea, and again after supper, Dolly 
and I facing each other at the corners, my 
uncle and Mrs. Barnes in the middle, and 
the room gently echoed with seemly and 
strictly wholesome mirth. "How enjoyable," 
my uncle seemed to say, looking at us at the 
end of each of his good stories, gathering in 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 235 

the harvest of our appreciation, "how enjoy- 
able is the indulgence of legitimate fun. Why 
need one ever indulge in illegitimacy?" 

And indeed his stories were so very good 
that every one of them, before they reached 
the point of bringing forth their joke, must 
have been to church and got married. 

Dolly sat knitting, the light shining on 
her infantile fair hair, her eyes downcast in 
a dove-like meekness. Punctually her dimple 
flickered out at the right moment in each 
anecdote. She appeared to know by in- 
stinct where to smile; and several times I 
was only aware that the moment had come by 
happening to notice her dimple. 

As for Mrs. Barnes, for the first time since 
I have known her, her face was cloudless. 
My uncle embarked on anecdote, did not 
mention the war. We did not once get on 
to Germans. Mrs. Barnes could give herself 
up to real enjoyment. She beamed. She 
was suffused with reverential delight. And 
her whole body, the very way she sat in her 
chair, showed an absorption, an eagerness 
not to miss a crumb of my uncle's talk, 
that would have been very gratifying to 
him if he were not used to just this. It is 
strange how widows cling to clergymen. 



!■!■ 



1 I 



If 
h 




236 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Ever since I can remember, like the afflicted 
Margaret's apprehensions in Wordsworth's 
poem, they have come to Uncle Rudolph in 
crowds. My aunt used to raise her eye- 
brows and ask me if I could at all tell her 
what they saw in him. 

When we bade each other good-night there 
was something in Mrs. Barnes's manner to 
me that showed me the presence of a man 
was already doing its work. She was aerated. 
Fresh air had got into her and was circulating 
freely. At my bedroom door she embraced 
me with warm and simple heartiness, without 
the usual painful search of my face to see if 
by any chance there was anything she had left 
undone in her duty of being unselfish. My 
uncle's arrival has got her thoughts off me 
for a bit. I knew that what we wanted was a 
man. Not that a dean is quite my idea of a 
man, but then, on the other hand, neither is he 
quite my idea of a woman, and his arrival does 
put an end for the moment to Mrs. Barnes's 
and my dreadful combats de generosite. He in- 
fuses fresh blood into our anaemic little 
circle. Different blood, perhaps I should 
rather say; the blood of deans not being, 
I think, ever very fresh. 

"Good-night, Uncle Rudolph," I said. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 237 

getting up at ten o'clock and holding up 
my face to him. "We have to thank you 
for a delightful evening.'* 

"Most delightful," echoed Mrs. Barnes, 
enthusiastically, getting up, too, and rolling 
up her knitting. 

My uncle was gratified. He felt he had 
been at his best, and that his best had been 
appreciated. 

"Good-night, dear child," he said, kissing 
my offered cheek. "May the blessed angels 
watch about your bed." 

"Thank you, Uncle Rudolph," I said, 
bowing my head beneath this benediction. 

Mrs. Barnes looked on at the little domestic 
scene with reverential sympathy. Then her 
turn came. 

"Goorf-night, Mrs. Barnes," said my uncle 
most graciously, shaking hands and doing 
what my dancing mistress used to call bend- 
ing from the waist. 

And to Dolly, "Goorf-night, Miss " 

Then he hesitated, groping for the name. 

"Mrs," said Dolly, sweetly correcting him, 
her hand in Lis. 

"Ah, I beg your pardon. Married. These 

introductions—especially in that noisy wind." 

"No— not exactly married," said Dolly^ 



238 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



•H 




Still sweetly correcting him, her hand still in 
his. 

"Not exactly ?" 

"My sister has lost her — my sister is a 
widow," said Mrs. Barnes, hastily and ner- 
vously; alas, these complications of Dolly *s! 

"Indeed. Indeed. Sad, sad,'* said my 
uncle, sympathetically, continuing to hold 
her hand. "And so young. Ah. Yes. Well, 
good night then, Mrs. " 

But again he had to pause and grope. 

" Jewks," said Dolly, sweetly. 

"Forgive me. You may depend I shall 
not again be so stupid. Good-night. And 
may the blessed angels " 

A third time he stopped; pulled up, I 
suppose, by the thought that it was perhaps 
not quite seemly to draw the attention of 
even the angels to an unrelated lady's bed. 
So he merely very warmly shook her hand, 
while she smiled a really heavenly smile at 
him. 

We left him standing with his back to the 
fire watching us go up the stairs, holding 
almost tenderly, for one must expend one's 
sympathy on something, a glass of hot water. 

My uncle is very sympathetic. In matters 
that do not touch his own advancement he 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 239 

is all sympathy. That is why widows like 
him, I expect. My aunt would have known 
the reason if she hadn't been his wife. 

October l«f. 

While I dress it is my habit to read. Some 
book is propped up open against the looking- 
glass, and sometimes, for one's eyes can't be 
everywhere at once, my hooks in conse- 
quence don't get quite satisfactorily fastened. 
Indeed I would be very neat if I could, 
but there are other things. This morning 
the book was the Bible, and in it I read, 
A prudent man — how much more prudently, 
then, a woman— foreseeth the evil and hideth 
himself, but tJie simple pass on and are 
punished. 

This made me late for breakfast. I sat 
looking out of the window, my hands in 
my lap, the sensible words of Solomon ring- 
ing in my ears, and considered if there was 
any way of escaping the fate of the simple. 

There was no way. It seemed hard that 
without being exactly of the simple I yet 
should be doomed to their fate. And out- 
side it was one of those cold windy mornings 
when male relations insist on taking one 
for what they call a run — as if one were a 



'■ I 



h 



ii= 



■; .1 
•If 1 



240 IN THE MOUN WINS 

dog— in order to go through the bleak proc- 
ess they describe as getting one's cobwebs 
blown off. I can't bear being parted from 
my cobwebs. I never want them blown off. 
Uncle Rudolph is small and active, besides 
havmg since my aunt's death considerably 
dwindled beneath his apron, and I felt sure 
he mtended to run me up the mountain after 
brealdast, and, having got me breathless and 
speechless on to some cold rock, sit with me 
there and say all the things I am dreading 
having to hear. 

It was quite difficult to get myself to go 
downstairs. I seemed rooted. I knew that, 
seeing that I am that unfortunately situated' 
person the hostess, my duty lay in morning 
smiles behind the coffee pot; but the con- 
viction of what was going to happen to me 
after the coffee pot kept me rooted, even 
when the bell had rung twice. 

When, however, after the second ringing 
quick footsteps pattered along the passage to 
my door I did get up— jumped up, afraid of 
what might be coming in. Bedrooms are 
no real protection from uncles. Those quick 
footsteps might easily be Uncle Rudolph's. 
I hurried across to the door and pulled it 
open, so that at least by coming out I might 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 241 

stop his coming in; and there was Mrs. 
Antoine, her hand lifted up to knock. 

*'Cea dames et Monsieur VEv^que atten- 
dent,'* she said, with an air of reproachful 
surprise. 

yi n'est pas un eveque,'' I replied a little 
irritably, for I knew I was in the wrong 
staying upstairs like that, and naturally 
resented not being allowed to be in the wrong 
in peace. *'// est seulement presque un.** 

Mrs. Antoine said nothing to that, but 
stepping aside to let me pass informed me 
rather severely that the coffee had been on 
the table a whole quarter of an hour. 

*'C(mmeni appeUe-t-on chez vous** I said, 
lingering in the doorway to gain time, "cc 
qui vient devant un eveque?** 

*'Ce qui vient devant un eveque?** repeated 
Mrs. Antoine, doubtfully. 

**Oui. L*esp^ce de monsieur qui n*est pas 
tout a fait eveque mais presque?** 

Mrs. Antoine knit her brows. " Mafoi " 

she began. 

''Oh, fai ouhlie;* I said. ''Vous n*etes 
plus catJiolique. II n*y a rien comme des 
eveques et comme les messieurs qui sont presque 
eveques dans votre eglise protestante, n*est-ce 
pas?** 



ii 



h i 



242 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

"J/aw nen, rien, rien," asseverated Mrs 
Antome, vehemently, her hands spread out 
her shoulders up to her ears, passionately 
protesting the empty purity of her adopted 
church— ♦* maw rien du tout, du tout. Ma- 

darm peut venir un dimanche voir -" 

Then, having cleared off these imputations, 
she switched back to the coffee. "Ze cafe— 
Madame desire que fen fosse encore? Ces 

dames et Monsieur VEveque '* 

"// n'est pas un ev '* 

"Ah— here you are!" exclaimed my uncle 
his head appearing at the top of the stairs! 
1 was just coming to see if there was any- 
thing the matter. Here she is-coming, 
coming!" he called out, genially, to the others; 
and on my hurrying to join him, for I am not 
one to struggle against the inevitable, he put 
his arm through mine and we went down to- 
gether. 

Having got me to the bottom he placed both 
hands on my shoulders and twisted me round 
to the light. "Dear child," he said, scruti- 
nizing my face while he held me firmly in this 
position, "we were getting quite anxious about 
you. Mrs. Barnes feared you might be ill, 
and was already contemplating remedies—" 
I shuddered-"however-" he twisted me 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 243 

round to Mrs. Barnes— *' nothing ill about this 
little lady, Mrs. Barnes, eh?" 

Then he took my chin between his finger 
and thumb and kissed me lightly, gaily even, 
on each cheek, and then, letting me go, he 
rubbed his hands and briskly approached the 
table, all the warm things on which were 
swathed as usual when I am late either in 
napkins or in portions of Mrs. Barnes's 
clothing. 

"Come along— come along, now— break- 
fast, breakfast," cried my uncle. ^'Fcxr tJxse 

and all Thy mercies Lord ' he continued 

with hardly a break, his eyes shut, his hands 
outspread over Mrs. Barnes's white woollen 
shawl in benediction. 

We were overwhelmed. The male had 
arrived and taken us in hand. But we were 
happily overwhelmed, judging from Mrs. 
Barnes's face. For the first time since she 
has been with me the blessing of heaven had 
been implored and presumably obtained for 
her egg, and I realized from her expression as 
she ate it how much she had felt the daily en- 
forced consumption, owing to my graceless 
habits, of eggs unsanctified. And Dolly, too, 
looked pleased, as she always does when her 
poor Kitty is happy. I alone wasn't. Be- 



244 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



hind the coffee pot I sat pensive. I knew too 
well what was before me. I distrusted my 
uncle's gaiety. He had thought it all out 
in the night, and had decided that the best line 
of approach to the painful subject he had come 
to discuss would be one of cheerful affection. 
Certainly I had never seen him in such spirits; 
but then I haven't seen him since my aunt's 
death. 

"Dear child," he said, when the table had 
been picked up and carried off bodily by 
the Antoines from our midst, leaving us 
sitting round nothing with the surprised 
feeling of sudden nakedness that, as I have 
already explained, this way of clearing away 
produces— my uncle was actually surprised 
for a moment into silence — "dear child, I 
would like to take you for a little run before 
lunch." 

'Yes, Uncle Rudolph?" 

'That we may get rid of our cobwebs." 

Tes, Uncle Rudolph." 

"I know you are a quick-limbed little 
lady " 

"Yes, Uncle Rudolph?" 
"So you shall take the edge off my appetite 
for exercise." 

"Yes, Uncle Rudolph." 



(f 



«i 



«■ 






IN THE MOUNTAINS 245 

"Then perhaps this afternoon one or other 

of these ladies "I noted his caution in 

not suggesting both. 

"Oh, delightful,'* Mrs. Barnes hastened to 
assure him. '*We shall be only too pleased 
to accompany you. We are great walkers. 
We think a very great deal of the benefits 
to be derived from regular exercise. Our 
father brought us up to a keen appreciation 
of its necessity. If it were not that we so 
strongly feel that the greater part of each 
day should be employed in some useful 
pursuit, we would spend it, I believe, almost 
altogether in outdoor exercise." 

"Why not go with my uncle this morning, 
then?" I asked, catching at a straw. "IVe 
got to order dinner " 

"Oh, no, no— not on any account. The 
Dean's wishes " 

But who should pass through the hall at 
that moment, making for the small room 
where I settle my household affairs, his 
arms full of the monthly books, but Antoine. 
It IS the first of October. Pay day. I had 
forgotten. And for this one morning, at 
least, I knew that I was saved. 

"Look," I said to Mrs. Barnes, nodding in 
the direction of Antoine and his burden. 



!!■ 

r 

11 

11 
I 

ill 






246 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

I felt certain she would have all the ap- 
preciation of the solemnity, the undefera- 
hility, of settling up that is characteristic of 
the virtuous poor; she would understand 
that even the wishes of deans must come 
second to this holy household rite. 
^^ "Oh, how unfortunate!" she exclaimed. 
** Just this day of all days— your uncle's first 
day." 

But there was nothing to be done. She 
saw that. And besides, never was a woman 
so obstinately determined as T was to do my 
duty. 

"Dear Uncle Rudolph," I said very amiably 
—I did suddenly feel very amiable—" I'm 
so sorry. This is the one day in the month 
when I am tethered. Any other day " 

And I withdrew with every appearance of 
reluctant but indomitable virtue into my 
little room and stayed there shut in safe till 
I heard them go out. 

From the window I could see them pres- 
ently starting off up the mountain, actively 
led by my uncle who hadn't succeeded in 
taking only one, Mrs. Barnes following with 
the devoutness— she who in our walks goes 
always first and chooses the way— of an 
obedient hen, and some way behind, as 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 247 

though she disliked having to shed her cob- 
webs as much as I do. straggled Dolly. 
Then, when they had dwindled into just 
black specks away up the slope, I turned 
with lively pleasure to paying the books. 

Those blessed books! If only I could 
have gone on paying them over and over 
again, paying them all day! But when I 
had done them, and conversed about the hens 
and bees and cow with Antoine, and it was 
getting near lunch-time, and at any moment 
through the window I might see the three 
specks that had dwindled appearing as three 
specks that were swelling, I thought I noticed 
I had a headache. 

Addings-up often give me a headache, es- 
pecially when they won't, which they cu- 
nously often won't, add up the same twice 
ninnmg, so that it was quite likely that 
I had got a, headache. I sat waiting to be 
quite sure, and presently, just as the three 
tmy specks appeared on the sky line, I was 
quite sure; and I came up here and put 
myself to bed. For, I argued, it isn't grape^ 
stones this time, it's sums, and Mrs. Bames 
can't dose me for what is only arithmetic; 
also, even if Uncle Rudolph insists on com- 
ing to my bedside he can't be so inhumane 



i 

I 

III 



^1^ 



248 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

as to torment somebody who isn't very 
well. 

So here I have been ever since snugly in 
bed, and I must say my guests have been 
most considerate. They have left me almost 
altogether alone. Mrs. Barnes did look in 
once, and when I said, closing my eyes, "It*s 

those tradesmen's books '* she understood 

immediately, and simply nodded her head 
and disappeared. 

Dolly came and sat with me for a little, 
but we hadn't said much before Mrs. Antoine 
brought a message from my uncle asking her 
to go down to tea. 

"What are you all doing?" I asked. 
"Oh, just sitting round the fire not talking," 
she said, smiling. 

"Not talking?" I said, surprised. 
But she was gone. 

Perhaps, I thought, they're not talking for 
fear of disturbing me. This really was most 
considerate. 

As for Uncle Rudolph, he hasn't even tried 
to come and see me. The only sign of life 
he has made was to send me the current 
number of the Nineteenth Century he brought 
out with him, in which he has an article— a 
very good one. Else he, too, has been quite 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 249 

quiet; and I have read, and I have pondered. 

and I have written this, and now it really is 

bedtime and I'm going to sleep. 

Well a whole day has been gained anyhow, 
and I have had hours and hours of complete 
peace. Rather a surprising lot of peace, 
really. It u rather surprising, I think I 
mean, that they haven't wanted to come and 
see me more. Nobody has even been to say 
good-mght to me. I think I like being said 
good-mght to. Especially if nobody does 
say it. 

October <ind. 

Twenty-four hours sometimes produce re- 
markable changes. These have. 

Again it is night, and again I'm in my room 
on my way to going to sleep; but before I get 
any sleepier I'll write what I can about to-day 
because it has been an extremely interesting 
day. I knew that what we wanted was a man. 
At breakfast, to which I proceeded punctu- 
ally, refreshed by my retreat yesterday, armed 
from head to foot in all the considerations 
1 had collected during those quiet hours 
most likely to make me immune from Uncle 
Kudolphs mevitable attacks, having said 
my prayers and emptied my mind of weaken- 



250 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



I 




ing memories, I found my three guests silent. 
Uncle Rudolph's talkativeness, so conspicuous 
at yesterday's breakfast, was confined at 
to-day's to saying grace. Except for that, 
he didn't talk at all. And neither, once 
having said her Amen, did Mrs. Barnes. 
Neither did Dolly, but then she never does. 

"I've not got a headache," I gently said 
at last, looking round at them. 

Perhaps they were still going on being con- 
siderate, I thought. At least, perhaps Mrs. 
Barnes was. My uncle's silence was merely 
ominous of what I was in for, of how strongly, 
after another night's thinking it out, he felt 
about my affairs and his own lamentable con- 
nection with them owing to God's having 
given me to him for a niece. But Mrs. 
Barnes — why didn't she talk? She couldn't 
surely intend, because once I had a headache, 
to go on tip-toe for the rest of our days to- 
gether? 

Nobody having taken any notice of my 
first announcement I presently said, "I'm 
very well, indeed, thank you, this morning." 

At this Dolly laughed, and her ryes sent 
little morning kisses across to me. She, at 
least, was in her normal state. 

"Aren't you — " I looked at the other two 



IN THE MOUNTAINS isi 

unresponsive breakfasting heads- "aren't you 

she d.dn t raise her eyes from her egg. and my 
uncle agam took no notice. 

So then I thought I might as well not take 
any notice either, and I ate my breakfast in 
dignity and retirement, occasionally fortifyinc 
myself against what awaited me after it bv 
looking at Dolly's restful and refreshing face 
buch an unclouded face; so sweet, so 
dean so sunny with morning graciousness. 
Really an ideal breakfast-table face. For- 
tunate Juchs and Siegfried, I thought, to 
have had it to look forward to every morning. 
Ihat they were undeserving of their good 
fortune I patriotically felt sure, as I sat 
considering the gentle sweep of her eyelashes 
whde she buttered her toast. Yet they did 
both of them make her happy; or perhaps 
It was that she made them happy, and caught 
her own happiness back again, as it were on 
the rebound. With any ordinarily kind and 
decent husband this must be possible. That 
she had been happy was evident, for un- 
happmess leaves traces, and IVe never seen 
an object quite so unmarked, quite so can- 
did as Dolly's mtelligent and charming brow 



252 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



We finished our breakfast in silence; and 
no sooner had the table been plucked out 
from our midst by the swift, disconcerting 
Antoines, than my uncle got up and went to 
the window. 

There he stood with his back to us. 

**Do you feel equal to a walk?*' he asked, 
not turning round. 

Profound silence. 

We three, still sitting round the blank the 
vanished table had left, looked at each other, 
our eyes inquiring mutely, *'Is it I?'* 

But I knew it was me. 

**Do you mean me. Uncle Rudolph?'* I 
therefore asked; for after all it had best be 
got over quickly. 

"Yes, dear child." 

"Now?" 

"If you will." 

"There's no esc — you don't think the 
weather too horrid?" 

"Bracing." 

I sighed, and went away to put on my 
nailed boots. 

Relations . . . what right had he 
. . . as though I hadn't suffered hor- 
ribly. . . and on such an unpleasant 
morning. . . if at least it had been fine 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



2S3 

llr— • • u.- ''"' '" ^ '"''«'' up a 
mountem m a bitter wind so as to be made 
miserable on the top. ... 

And two hours later, when I was perched 
exaetly as I had feaml on a cold root CS 
after breathless toil in a seai^hing wtj 
perched draughtily and shorn of ev«y cob 
web I could ever in my life have Ss2 
helplessly exposed to the dreaded Wk^^o 
Uncle Rudolph, settling himself at mXt 
after a long and terrifying silence duS 
wh.ch I U^mblingly went over my deS 
m the vam effort to assu«, myself^ha Tr 
haps I wasn't going to be muck hurt, said 
How does she spell it?'* 

Really one is very fatuous. Absorb^rl in 
myself, I hadn't thought of Dolly 

October Srd. 
It was so late last night when I got to that 

ftt LdT'll fi ^- K ""'^ '' '^ "«'- '>-''k- 
tt' , J ^"'^'' "•"'"' yesterday. 

tam only to talk of Dolly. Incredible as it 

sTZ T' : •'n ''"^" '" '°^'=- At first 
1*1' . T*''- ' *■" '"'^ "^ '^"■nan can't 
do that, so that this by itself convinces me he 
.s a man. Three days ago I wK,te in this ver^ 



254 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



book that a dean isn*t quite my idea of a 
man. I retract. He is. 

Well, while I was shrinking and shivering 
on my own account, waiting for him to begin 
digging about among my raw places, he said 
instead, "How does she spell it?** and threw 
my thoughts into complete confusion. 

Blankly I gazed at him while I struggled 
to rearrange them on this new basis. It was 
such an entirely unexpected question. I did 
not at this stage dream of what had happened 
to him. It never would have occurred to 
me that Dolly would have so immediate 
an effect, simply by sitting there, simply by 
producing her dimple at the right moment. 
Attractive as she is, it is her ways rather than 
her looks that are so adorable; and what 
could Uncle Rudolph have seen of her ways 
in so brief a time? He has simply fallen 
in love with a smile. And he sixty. And 
he one*s uncle. Amazing Dolly; irresistible; 
apparently, to uncles. 

"Do you mean Mrs. Jewks's name?" I 
asked, when I was able to speak. 

"Yes," said my uncle. 

"I haven't seen it written," I said, restored 
so far by my relief — for Dolly had saved me — 
that I had the presence of mind to hedge. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 255 

I was obliged to hedge. In my mind's eye 
1 saw Mrs. Barnes's face imploring me. 

"No doubt." said my uncle after another 
sUence, it is spelt on the same principle as 
Molyneux.* 

"Very likely," I agreed. 
"It sounds as though her late husband'., 
family might originally have been Frencli " 
"It does rather." 
"Possibly Huguenot." 
"Yes." 

"I was much astonished that she should I e u. 
widow." 

" Vet not one vridow but two widows 
ran at this like a refrain in my mind, perhaps 
because I was sitting so close to a dean. 
Aloud I said, for by now I had completely 
recovered, "Why, Uncle Rudolph? Widows 
do abound." 

"Alas, yes. But there is something pecu- 
iiarly virginal about Mrs. Jewks." 

I admitted that this was so. Part of 
Dolly s attractiveness is the odd impression 
she gives of untouchedness, of gay aloofness. 

My uncle broke off a stalk of the withered 
^st summer's grass and began nibbling it. 
He was lying on his side a little below me 
resting on his elbow. His black, neat legs 



256 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



looked quaint stuck through the long yellow 
grass. He had taken off his hat, hardy 
creature, and the wind blew his gray hair 
this way and that, and sometimes flattened 
it down in a fringe over his eyes. When this 
happened he didn't look a bit like anybody 
good, but he pushed it back each time, 
smoothing it down again with an abstracted 
carefulness, his eyes fixed on the valley far 
below. He wasn*t seeing the valley. 

"How long has the poor young thing *' 

he began. 

"You will be surprised to hear," I inter- 
rupted him, "that Mrs. Jewks is forty." 

"Really," said my uncle, staring round at 
me. "Really. That is indeed surprising." 
And after a pause he added, "Surprising and 
gratifying." 

"Why gratifying. Uncle Rudolph?" I in- 
quired. 

"When did she lose her husband?" he 
asked, taking no not'ce of my inquiry. 

The preliminary to an accurate answer to 
this question was, of course. Which? But 
again a vision of Mrs. Barnes's imploring face 
rose before me, and accordingly, restricting 
myself to Juchs, I said she had lost him 
shortly before the war. 



Itti 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 257 

"Ah. So he was prevented, poor fellow, 
from having the honour of dying for England " 
"Yes, Uncle Rudolph." 
" Poor fellow. Poor fellow." 
"Yes." 

"Poor fellow. Well, he was spared know- 
ing w.iat he had missed. At least he was 
spared that. And she~his poor wife-how 
did she take it?" 
"Well, I think." 

"Yes. I can believe it. She wouldn't— 
I am very sure she wouldn't— intrude her 
sorrows selfishly on others." 

It was at this point that I became aware 
my uncle had fallen in love. Up to this 
oddly enough, it hadn't dawned on me* 
Now It did more than dawn, it blazed. 

I looked at him with a new and startled 
mterest. "Uncle Rudolph," I said, impetu- 
ously, no longer a distrustful niece talking to 
an uncle she suspects, but an equal with an 
equal, a human being with another human 
being, "haven't you ever thought of marrying 
again? It's quite a long time now since 

Aunt Winifred " 

"Thought?" said my uncle, his voice 
sounding for the first time simply, ordinarily 
human, without a trace in it of the fatal pul- 



258 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



pit flavour. "Thought? I*m always thinking 

And except for his apron and gaiters he 
might have been any ordinary, solitary little 
man eating out his heart for a mate. 

"But then why don't you? Surely a 
deanery of all places wants a wife in it?" 

"Of course it does. Those strings of rooms 
— empty, echoing. It shouts for a wife. 
Shouts, I tell you. At least mine does. 
But IVe never found — I hadn't seen '* 

He broke off, biting at the stalk of grass. 

"But I remember you," I went on, eagerly, 
"always surrounded by flocks of devoted 
women. Weren't any of them ?" 

"No," said my uncle shortly. And after 
a second of silence he said again, and so loud 
that I jumped, "No!" And then he went on 
even more violently, '*They didn't give me 
a chance. They never let me alone a minute. 
After Winifred's death they were like flies. 
Stuck to me — made me sick — great flies — 

crawling " And he shuddered, and shook 

himself as though he were shaking off the lot 
of them. 

I looked at him in amazement. "Why," 
I cried, "you're talking exactly like a 
man!" 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 259 

But he, staring at the view without seeing 
an inch of it, took no heed of me, and I heard 
him say under his breath, as though I hadn't 
been there at all, "My God, Tm so lonely at 
night!" 

That finished it. In that moment I began 
to love my uncle. At this authentic cry of 
forlomness I had great difl5culty in not 
bending over and putting my arms round 
him— just to comfort him, just to keep him 
warm. It must be a dreadful thing to be 
Mxty and all alone. You look so grown up. 
You look as though you must have so many 
resources, so few needs; and you are accepted 
as provided for, what with your career ac- 
complished, and your houses and servants 
and friends and books and all the rest of it- 
all the empty, meaningless rest of it for really 
you are the most miserable of motherless cold 
babies, conscious that you are motherless, 
conscious that nobody soft and kind and 
adoring is ever again coming to croon over 
you and kiss you good-night and be there 
next morning to smile when you wake up. 

"Uncle Rudolph " I began. 

Then I stopped, and bending over took the 
stalk of grass he kept on biting o.t of his 
hand. 



260 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

'} ^f°^ '®* ^®" ®** *°y ™o''e of that," I 
said. "It*s not good for you." 

And having got hold of his hand I kept 

"There, now," I said, holding it tight. 
He looked up at me vaguely, absorbed in 
his thoughts; then, realizing how tight his 
hand was being held, he smiled. 

"You dear child," he said, sci ^ning my 
,f ^^ *,^^"^^ ^^ had never seen it before. 
\ "7^^'" I said, smiling in my turn and not 
lettmg go of his hand. "I like that. I 
didn't like any of the other dear children I 
was." 

"Which other dear children?" 

"Uncle Rudolph," I said, "let's go home. 
This IS a bleak place. Why do we sit here 
shivering forlornly when there's all that 
waiting for us down there.?" 

And loosing his hand I got on to my feet, 
and when I was on them I held out both my 
hands to him and pulled him up, and he 
standing lower than where I was our eyes 
were then on a level. 

"All what?" he asked, hi^s eyes searching 
mine. 

"Oh, Uncle Rudolph! Warmth and Dolly, 
of course." 









IN THE MOUNTAINS 261 

Octobei- 4th. 

But it hasn't been quite so simple. Noth- 
ing last mght was different. My uncle «- 
mamed tongue-tied. Dolly sat waiting Z 
sm.le at anecdotes that he never told. Mrs 
Barnes knitted uneasily, already fearing, per! 
haps, because of his strange silence^' ^at 
he somehow may have scented Sierfried 
else how mexplicable his silence after thS "ne 
bnght, wonderful first evening and morning 

It was I last mght who did the talking it 
was I who took up the line, abandoned^ 

Z Tu • "f7'»°'«^«°«e entertainment. { 
too. told anecdotes; and when I had told al 

tl.n Ti''"*" ""^ '**'" ''^^y -W any- 

know. Anythmg rather than that continued 
uncomfortable silence. But how v. ,y dTffi 
cult .t was. I grew quite damp with effort 
And nobody except Dolly so much as smS^ 
and even Dolly though she smiled. esp^S 
when I embarked on my second series of 
anecdotes, looked at me with a mild inquiry 

with tr*"" ''""'^'""^ ^^"^ ""^ *■"= ■"''"^■•' 

Wretched, indeed, is the hostess upon 
who^^guests has fallen, from whatever cau^e. 



m-smi: 




262 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

October 5th. 

Crabbe's son, in the life he wrote of his 
father, asks: *'Will it seem wonderful when we 
cmiMder how he was situated at this time, that 
with a most affectionate heart, a peculiar 
attachment to female society, and with unwasted 
passions, Mr, Crahbe, though in his sixty- 
second year should have again thought of 
marriage ? I feel satisfied thai no one will be 
seriously shocked with such an evidence of the 
freshness of his feelings" 

A little shocked; Crabbe's son was pre- 
pared to allow this much; but not seriously. 

Well, it is a good thing my uncle didn't live 
at that period, for it w.»uld have gone hard 
with him. His feelings are more than fresh, 
they are violent. 

October 6th. 

While Dolly is in the room Uncle Rudolph 
never moves, but sits tongue-tied staring at 
her. If she goes away he at once gets up and 
takes me by the arm and walks me off on to 
the terrace, where in a biting wind we pace 
up and down. 

Our positions are completely reversed. It is 
I now who am the wise old relative, counsel- 
ling, encouraging, listening to outpours. Up 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 963 

«nd down we pace, up and down, very fast 
because of the freshness of Uncle's Rudolph's 
feehngs and also of the wind, arm in arm, 
I t^mg to keep step, he not bothering about 
such thmgs c^ step, absorbed in his condition, 

vL t°^\ •'« ''""-^"PecWly his fears, 
for he IS terrified lest, having at last found 

the perfect woman, she won't have him. 

Why should she?" he asks, almost angrily. 

Why should she? Tell me why she should/' 
I can t tell you," I say. for Uncle Rudolph 
and I are now the frankest friends. "But 
I can t tell you either why she shouldn't. 
Ihmk how nice you are. Uncle Rudolph. 
And Dolly is naturally very affectionate." 

bhe IS perfect, perfect." vehemently de- 
clares my uncle. 

And Mrs. Barnes, who from the window 
watches us while we walk, looks with anxious, 
questioning eyes at my face when we come in. 
V\hat can my uncle have to talk about so 
eagerly to me when he is out on the terrace 
and why does he sta,^ in such stony silence at 
Dolly when he comes in? Poor Mrs. Barnes. 

October 7th. 

The difficulty about Dolly for courtirg 
purposes is that she is never to be got alone. 



»'■'•'.. 



^:^^mr^^msr.*m 



9 



«8* IN THE MOUxVTAINS 

not even into a corner out of earshot of 
Mrs. Barnes. Mrs. Barnes doesn't go away 
for a moment, except together with Dolly 
Wonderful how cleyer she is at it. She i, 
obse^ by terror lest the horrid ma^fa^ 
to the German uncle should somehow be 

is her hu i„,; ^ ZrfnLm'-oteTCt 
taor does he seem to her. that the real sit^a- 
t.on hasn't even glimmered on her. A she 
craves .s to keep this holy and distin^thed 
»an s good opmion. to protect her DoHy. her 
darhng errmg one. from his just buf u^- 

budge. Dolly ,s never to be got alone. 

A man. said my uncle violenUy to me 

T i^T'r ''.""^ ^"^'^^^ y°"'re going to»" 
trottmg beside h.m up and down the terrace 
can'^^tr T"^" ' """ ""*<='' ^" ''lone. I 

have ml^f-r "•^"•y «<^' if «he won't 
I laid hold affectionately of his arm. "Oh, 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 265 

but she will," I said, reassuringly. "Dollv 
.s rather a creature of habit, you know." "^ 

Vou mean shehasgotused tomarriage " 

Well. I do think she is rather us^^TTf 
Uncle Rudolph." I went on. hes tS as f 
have hesitated a dozen times thes^ laft ft J 
days as to whether I oughtn't to ell V 
about Juchs-Siegfried .12 C ^Ltk 
but Juchs would be crushing unless vmr' 
carefully explained— "you dnn-r f ^ ^ 
don-t think you'd like'^^o" ktV s^^^^" 
pZ'^^' ^°"^ '^' I -- «>efo;'yo"« 

A?^**' shouted my uncle. 

Afterward he said more quietly that h^ 
could see through a brick walUs wdl Is most 
men. and that Dolly wasn't a brick wall bu 
the perfect woman. What could be toM 

^Smr„tf"'*^^-''^'--'^' ^-•''^ 

Nori:i::;^''°"'"^''-'-"«»'ove? 

October 8tk. 

Sometimes I feel very angry with Dolly 
that she shouW have got her^lf so tiresomej^ 
mixed up with Germans. How simple every 
thmg would be now if only she hadfi't- B^t 



«66 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

when I am calm again I realize that she 
couldn't help it. It is as natural to her to 
get mixed up as to breathe. Very sweet, 
affectionate natures are always getting mixed 
up. I suppose if it weren't for Mrs. Barnes's 
constant watchfulness and her own earnest 
desire never again to distress poor Kitty, 
she would at an early stage of their war 
wanderings have become some ardent Swiss 
hotelkeeper's wife. Just to please him; just 
because else he would be miserable. Dolly 
ought to be married. It is the only certain 
way of saving her from marriage. 

October 9tk. 

It is snowing. The wind howls, and the 
snow whirls, and we can't go out and so get 
away from each other. Uncle Rudolph is 
obliged, when Dolly isn't there, to continue 
sittmg with Mrs. Barnes. He can't to-day 
hurry me out on to the terrace. There's only 
the hall in this house to sit in, for that place 
I pay the household books in is no r\ore than 
a cupboard. 

Uncle Rudolph could just bear Mrs. Barnes 
when he could get away from her; to-day 
he can't bear her at all. Everything that 
should be characteristic of a dean— patience, 




IN THE MOUNTAINS 867 

c..urte8y Jdndliness. has been stripped off 
itl ^K,^" T""''' '» P^Po*' and the 

October lOtt. 

D«?Jjn.^"*'''' "• '*"°™«"8 With Checked. 

back ,n England. He ought to have gone 
back almost at once, he says. He only came 

out for three or four days 

"Yes: just time to settle me in." I said. 
Ves. he said, smiling. " and then take vou 
home with me by the ear." ^ 

He has some very important meetings he 
■s to pres.de at coming off soon, and he,^ he L 
Jung up^ It Is Mrs. Barnes who is the cau^ 
of U. and naturally he isn't very nice to her 
In vam does she try to please him; the one 

hS* r^T*^ '"u'" ^°' '° «° '"'-y ^nd leave 

sitT Thl ^- ''"' °' ~"'- '•«'-''• She 
s^ts there, saymg meek things about the 

weather, expressing a modest optimism. Jdy 

to relmqmsh even that if my uncle d^"^ 

beeommg when he takes up a book, respect-' 

fully qu,et. ready the moment he puts it cWn 

to rejoice with him if he wishes to rejoice or 



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268 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 




weep with him if he prefers weeping; and the 
more she is concerned to give satisfaction the 
less well-disposed is he toward her. He can't 
forgive her inexplicable fixedness. Her per- 
sistent, unintermittent gregariousness is incom- 
prehensible to him. All he wants, being re- 
duced to simplicity by love, is to be left alone 
with Dolly. He can't understand, being a 
man, why if he wants this he shouldn't get it, 

*' You're not kind to Mrs. Barnes," I said 
to him this afternoon. "You've made her 
quite unnatural. She is cowed." 

"I am unable to like her," said my uncle, 
shortly. 

*' You are quite wrong not to. She has had 
bitter trouble, and is all goodness. I don't 
think I ever met anybody so completely 
unselfish." 

"I wish she would go and be unselfish in 
her own room, then," said my uncle. 

"I don't know you," I said, shrugging my 
shoulders. "You arrived here dripping unc- 
tion and charitableness, and now " 

"Why doesn't she give me a chance?" he 
cried. " She never budges. These women who 
stick, who can't bear to be by themselves — good 
heavens, hasn't she prayers she ought to be 
saying, and underclothes she ought to mend?" 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 269 

*|I don't believe you care so veiy much for 
Dolly, after all," I said, "or you would be 
kind tc the sister she is so deeply devoted to." 

This sobered him. "I'll try," said my 
uncle; and it was quite hard not to laugh 
at the change in our positions— I the gray 
beard now, the wise rebuker, he the hot- 
headed yet well-intentioned young relative. 

October Uth. 
I think guests ought to like each other: 

ove each other if they prefer it, but at least 
like They, too, have their duties, and one 
of them IS to resist nourishing aversions; 
or. If owing to their implacable dispositions 
they cant help nourishing them oughtn't 
they to try very hard not to show it.? 
They should consider the helpless position 
ot the hostess-she who, at any rate theoreti- 
cally ,,s bound to be equally attached to 
them all. 

Before my uncle came it is true we had 
begun to fester, but we festered nicely 
Mrs. Barnes and I did it with every mark 
of consideration and politeness. We were 
adies Uncle Rudolph is no lady; and this 
little house, which I daresay looks a picture 
of peace from outside with the snow falling 



il 



570 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



on its roof and the firelight shining in its 
windows, seethes with elemental passions* 
Fear, love, anger — they all dwell in it now, 
all brought into it by him, all coming out of 
the mixture, so innocuous one would think, 
so likely, one would think, to produce only 
the fruits of the spirit — the mixture of two 
widows and one clergyman. Wonderful how 
much can be accomplished with small means. 
Also, most wonderful the centuries that seem 
to separate me from those July days when I 
lay innocently on the grass watching the clouds 
pass over the blue of the delphinium tops, 
before ever I had set eyes on Mrs. Barnes and 
Dolly, and while Uncle Rudolph, far away at 
home and not even beginning to think of a 
passport, was being normal in his Deanery. 

He has, I am sure, done what he promised, 
and tried to be kinder to Mrs. Barnes, and I 
can only conclude he was not able to manage 
it, for I see no difference. He glowers and 
glowers, and she immovably knits. And in 
spite of the silence that reigns except when, 
for a desperate moment, I make an effort to 
be amusing, there is a curious feeling that we 
are really living in a state of muffled uproar, 
in a constant condition of barely suppressed 
brawl. I feel as though the least thing, the 




IN THE MOUNTAINS 271 

least touch, even somebody coughing, and 
the hous. will blow up. I catch myself 
walkmg carefully across the hall so as not to 
shake it, not to knock against the furniture. 
How secure, how peaceful, of what a great 
and splendid simplicity do those July days, 
those pre-guest days, seem now! 

October im: 

I went into Dolly's bedroom last night, 
crept in on tip-toe because there is a door 
leading from it into Mrs. Barnes's room, 
caught hold firmly of her wrist, and led her, 
without saying a word and taking infinite 
care to move quietly, into my bedroom. 
Then, havmg shut her in, I said, "What are 
you going to do about it.?'* 

She didn't pretend not to understand. 
The candour of Dolly's brow is an exact 
reflection of the candour of her mind. 
^^ "About your uncle," she said, nodding. 
"I like him very much." 

"Enough to marry him?" 

" Oh, quite. I always like people enough to 
marry them." And she added, as though in 
explanation of this perhaps rather excessively 
amiable tendency, "Husbands are so kind." 

"You ought to know," I conceded. 



272 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



(( 



'I do,** said Dolly, with the sweetest 
reminiscent smile. 

"Uncle Rudolph is only waiting to get you 
alone to propose," I said. 

Dolly nodded. There was nothing I could 
tell her that she wasn't already aware of. 

"As you appear to have noticed every- 
thing,'* I said, "I suppose you have also 
noticed that he is very much in love with 
you." 

"Oh, yes,'* said Dolly, placidly. 

"So much in love that he doesn't seem even 
to remember that he's a dignitary of the 
Church, and when he*s alone with me he 
behaves in a way I*m sure the Church wouldn*t 
like at all. Why, he almost swears." 

*'Isn*t it a good thing," said Dolly, ap- 
provingly. 

"Yes. But now what is to be done about 
Siegfried ** 

"Dear Siegfried,** murmured Dolly. 

"And Juchs ** 

"Poor darling," murmured Dolly. 

"Yes, yes. But oughtn't Uncle Rudolph 
to be told?" 

"Of course," said Dolly, her eyes a Httle 
surprised that I should want to know any- 
thing so obvious. 



>^Li 



L\ THE MOUNTAINS 273 

"You told me it would kill Kitty if I knew 
about Juchs It will kill her twice as much 
It Lncle Rudolph knows." 

"Kitty won't know anything about it. 
At least, not till it's all over. My dear, when 
It comes to marrying I can't be stuck aU 
about with secrets." 

**Do you mean to tell my uncle yourself. 5" 
Of course," said Dolly, again with surprise 
in her eyes. 

"When.?" 

"When he asks me to marry him. Till he 
does I don't quite see what it has to do with 
him. 

"And you're not afraid— you don't think 
your second marriage will be a great shock to 

^"Z ^^*^^'°^ ^ '^^^"' ^'^^ nourished on 
Tables of Affinity.?" 

"I can't help it if it is. He has got to 
know. If he loves me enough it won't matter 
to him, and if he doesn't love me enough it 
won t matter to him either." 

"Because then his objections to Juchs 
would be greater than his wish to marry you?" 

"Yes,'' said Dolly, smiling. "It would 
mean, she went on, "that he wasn't fond of 
me enough." 

"And you wouldn't mind?" 



274 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



Her eyes widened a little. "Why should 
I mind?" 

"No. I suppose you wouldn't, as you're 
not in love." 

I then remarked that, though I could 
understand her not being in love with a man 
my uncle's age, it was my belief that she had 
never in her life been in love. Not even 
with Siegfried. Not with anybody. 

Dolly said she hadn't, and that she liked 
people much too much to want to grab at 
them. 

"Grab at them!" 

"That's what your being in love does," 
said Dolly, "It grabs." 

"But you've been grabbed yourself, and 
you liked it. Uncle Rudolph is certainly 
bent on grabbing you." 

"Yes. But the man gets over it quicker. 
He grabs and has done with it, and then 
settles down to the real things—affection 
and kindness. A woman hasn't ever done 
with it. She can't let go. And the poor 
thing, because she what you call loves, is so 
dreadfully vulnerable, and gets so hurt, so 
hurt; " 

Dolly began kissing me and stroking my 
hair. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



275 

inrjv'''"!';.!!'""^'''" ^ '"'''• ^^^^ ^he was do. 
•ng this, I d rather have loved thoroughly- 

you can call it grabbing if you like, I don't 

care what ugly words you use-and been 

vulnerable and got hurt, than never once 

am»bl!^" " ^"'' •" " "''^ "f '""'"W- 

"Has it occurred to you," interrupted 
Dolly, continuing to kiss m^her cheek was 
against mine, and she was stroking my hair 
veiy te„derly-"that if I mariy that dear 
little uncle of yours I shall be your aunt?" 

October IStk. 

Well, then, if Dolly is ready to many my 
uncle and my uncle is dying to mariy Dolly, 
all that remams to be done is to remove Mrs 
Barnes for an hour from the hall. An hour 
would be long enough. I think, to include 
everything-five minutes for the proposal, 
fifteen for presenting Siegfried, thirty-five 
for explaining Juehs, and five for the final 
nappy mutual acceptances. 

This very morning I must somehow manage 
to get Mrs. Barnes away. How it is to he 
done I can't think; especially for so long 
as an hour Yet Juchs and Siegfried couldn't 
be rendered intelligible, I feel, in less than 



i 



276 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 




fifty minutes between them. Yes; it will 
have to be an hour. 

I have tried over and over again the last 
few days to lure Mrs. Barnes out of the hall, 
but it has been useless. Is it possible that 
I shall have to do something unpleasant to 
myself, hurt myself, hurt something that takes 
time to bandage? The idea is repugnant to 
me; still, things can't go on like this. 

I asked Dolly last night if I hadn't better 
draw Mrs. Barnes's attention to my uncle's 
lovelorn condition, for obviously the marriage 
would be a solution of all her difficulties and 
could give her nothing but extraordinary re- 
lief and joy; but Dolly wouldn't let me. She 
said that it would only agonize poor Kitty to 
become aware that my uncle was in love, for 
she would be quite certain that the moment he 
heard about Juchs horror would take the 
place of love. How could a dean of the 
Church of England, Kitty would say, bring 
himself to take as wife one who had previously 
been married to an item in the forbidden list 
of the Tables of Affinity? And Juchs being 
German would only, she would feel, make it 
so much more awful. Besides, said Dolly, 
smiling and shaking her head, my uncle 
mightn't propose at all. He might change 



IN THE MOUNTAIXS 277 

again I myself had been astonished she 

he had already undergone from unction to 
very nearly ..wearing; he might easily undel" 
go another b-ck again, and then what a pUy 
to have disturbed the small amount of JZ 
of mind poor Kitty had. ' 

r«S."'"'"''^^^'-"^'""''=™P»'-ntly, 
"Not very much."' admitted Dollv with 

But what I was thinking was that Kitty 
never has any peace of mind because she 
hasn t any mind to have peace in. 

1 didn't say this, however. 

I practised tact. 

Later. 

of ^fhi?"' f"^ °5 ^''- Banies is out 
of the hall, and at this very moment Uncle 
Rudolph and Dolly are alone together in it 
proposmg and being proposed ^o. He is 
telhng her that he worships her, and in r^plv 
SL" Tl' ^"'"^ '"^ ''"ention o Si£ 

themt' Will he mind them at all.? Will his 
love triumphantly consume them, or, having 



2V8 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



Ih 



:|-.^ 



swallowed Siegfried, will he find h»niself un- 
able to manage Juchs? 

Oh, I love people to be happy! I love 
them to love each other! I do hope it will 
be all right! Dolly may say what she likes, 
but love is the only thing in the world that 
works miracles. Look at Uncle Rudolph. 
Fm more doubtful, though, of the result than 
I would have been yesterday, because what 
brought about Mrs. Barneses absence from 
the hall has made me nervous as to how he 
will face the disclosing of Juchs. 

While I'm waiting I may as well write it 
down — by my clock I count up that Dolly 
must be a third of the way through Siegfried 
now, so that I've still got three quarters of 
an hour. 

This is what happened: 

The morning started badly, indeed terribly. 
Dolly, bored by being stared at in silence, said 
something about more wool and went upstairs 
quite soon after breakfast. My uncle, casting 
a despairing glance at the window past which 
the snow was driving, scowled for a moment or 
two at Mrs. Barnes, then picked up a stale 
Times and hid himself behind it. 

To make up for his really dreadful scowl 
at Mrs. Barnes I began a pleasant conversa- 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 279 

lion with her. but at once she check«l ™„ 
»y.n«. "Sh-sh." „„„ defeL5y"'i„X' 

Incensed by such slavishness, I was abont 
to rebel and insist on Ulking when ^sZ^l 

nature that he saw in the Times, exclaimed 

n a veiy loud voice, "Search as I may-Tnl 

I have searched most diligently-I can't Zd 

ut,"^ ""''' ^» "^y f"' Germans." 
It /ell IJce a bomb. He hasn't mentioned 
Germans once. I had come to feel quite "afe 

knittmg needles stopped as if struck I 
d.dn't dare look at her. Dead silent 

My uncle lowered the paper and glanced 
round a us. expecting agreement, impaf ent of 
our not mstantly saying we thought as Sid 

bein?;£.'^''^''^''"-^^-'^-'^'»«. 
I was just able to shake my head. 

Barn?s" '"'"'" '"' "'''"''• *""'"« *<> ^rs. 

to mj uncle-was to get up quickly, drop all hw 
wool on the floor, and hur^^ upstairs. ^ 
He watched her departure with amaze- 



t i 

I I 



!f. n 



280 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 




m i 




ment. Still with amazement, when she had 
disappeared, his eyes sought mine. 

"Why," he said, staring at me aghast, 
"why — the woman's a pro-German!" 

In my turn I stared aghast. 

"Mrs. Barnes ?" I exclaimed, stung to quite 
a loud exclamation by the grossness of this in- 
justice. 

"Yes," said my uncle, horrified. "Yes. 
Didn't you notice her expression.^ Good 
heavens — and I who've taken care not to 
speak to a pro-German for five years, and 
had hoped, God willing, never to speak to 
one again, much less — " he banged his fists 
on the arms of the chair, and the Times slid 
on to the floor — "much less be under the 
same roof with one." 

"Well, then, you see, God wasn't willing," 
I said, greatly shocked. 

Here was the ecclesiastic coming up again 
with a vengeance in all the characteristic anti- 
Christian qualities; and I was so much stirred 
by his readiness to believe what he thinks is 
the very worst of poor, distracted Mrs. Barnes 
that I flung caution to the winds and went 
indignantly on: "It isn't Mrs. Barnes who 
is pro-German in this house — ^it's Dolly." 
"What?" cried my uncle. 



lUii, 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



281 

"it's Dolly." ^ ' ^ ''"^ ^''«^. 

arl^'X'chat"^ "" ""^'^' ^^^^^'-^ *« 

scnbe It, I hurried on, nervously, "and vet I 
dent k„ow-I think it would. Perhaps Tfs 
better to say that she is-she is of an u„! 
prejudiced international spirit " 

waltliJ ' n''-'"''' '^''""'*' '^' Mrs. Barnes 
was gone. Driven away. Not likely to ap- 
pear again for ages. ^ 

Rudofoh ' "r '"^'"^- 1 •"^•''' ^'''' Uncle 
Kudolph, I said, making hastily, even as 

Mrs. Barnes had made, for the stairs, "you 

ask Dolly about it yourself. I'll go a„d teU 

her to come down. You ask her about be „' 

pro-German. She'll tell you. Only-" I ^"1 

back to him and lowered my voicei-"proprs^ 

Sed !^ir^'' '-' ^- "^- ^-'ve Z. 

his'^S^ ^' ^ '''■ ''"*<=•''"« the arms of 
i r ''^ ^ If ™« ""^ •"«' I bent down 

Rudolh^'^r''. ^"'^'^ ^°" ^'•''°<»' Un^ 
for « t^ «■!"'" "*"'*"* P""' Mrs. Barnes 

Dollv .AK^ ''°"'* '"^^''"Pt' I'" send 
i;oliy— good-bye— good luck!" 







i 



282 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 



And hurriedly kissing him I hastened 
upstairs to Dolly's room. 

Because of the door leading out of it into 
Mrs. Barnes's room I had to be as cautious 
as I was last night. I did exactly the same 
things: went in on tip-toe, took hold of her 
firmly by the wrist, and led her out without 
a word. Then all I had to do was to point to 
the stairs, and at the same time make a face — 
but a kind face, I hope — at her sister's shut 
door, and the intelligent Dolly did the rest. 

She proceeded with a sober dignity pleasant 
to watch, along the passage in order to be 
proposed to. Practice in being proposed to 
has made her perfect. At the top of the 
stairs she turned and smiled at me — ^her 
dimple was adorable. I waved my hand; 
she disappeared; and here I am. 

Forty minutes of the hour are gone. She 
must be in the very middle now of Juchs. 

Night. 

I knew this little house was made for 
kindness and love. I've always, since first 
it was built, had the feeling that it was blest. 
Sure indeed was the instinct that brought 
me away from England, doggedly dragging 
myself up the mountain to tumble my burdens 



IN THE MOriNTAINS 883 

down in this place. It invariably conquers 
Nobody can resist it. Nobody cin golway 

stert with they were of those blessed ones 

who wherever they go cany peace with them 

° *T ""^^'ts. From the first I have feh 

that the worried had only got to corhei 

! km' TT'^"^ ""*• ^"^ the lonely to be 
exhilarated, and the unhappy to be com 
orted, and the old to be maTylg.' Now" 

to S' I.Tt ^ '"^''^= -d the tidowed 
R ^,T •'^'1= '"^^"^ all is well with U^cle 
Rudo ph and Dolly, and the house once mot 

whoilnVCy.^*^''^"''''^'"^""""^^'' 
For I grew happy-completely so for the 

i really done now with the other thing-the 
minute I caught sight of Uncle Rudolph's 
face when I went downstairs. ^ 

Dolly was sitting by the fire looking pleased 

saw me he came across to me holding out both 

hands m his, and we looked at each other and 
laughed-sheer happiness we laughed for 

Then we kissed each other, I still on the 
bottom stair and therefore level with him! 



.1 1^ 

i i 



284 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

and then he said, his face full of that sweel 
aflFection for the whole world that radiates 
from persons in his situation, "And to thinl 
that I came here only to scold you!" 

"Yes, Uncle Rudolph," I said. "To thinl 

of it!" 

"Well, if I came to scold I've stayed t< 

love," he said. 

"Which," said I, while we beamed at ead 
other, "as the Bible says, is far better." 

Then Dolly went upstairs to tell Mrs 
Barnes— lovely to be going to strike ol 
somebody's troubles with a single sentence 
—and my uncle confessed to me that for th 
first time a doubt of Dolly had shadowed h 
idea of her when I left him sitting there whi] 

I fetched her. 

"Conceive it— conceive it!" he cried, smi 
ing his hands together, "conceive lettir 
Germans— Ge/TMan*, if you please— get eve 
for half an instant between her and me!" 

But that the minute he saw her comii 
down the stairs to him such love of her flood* 
him that he got up and proposed to her bef o 
she had so much as reached the bottom. Ai 
it was from the stairs, as from a pulpit, tb 
Dolly, supporting herself on the balustrac 
expounded Siegfried and Juchs. 



sweet 

diates 
think 

think 

^ed to 

t each 

Mrs. 
ke off 
itence! 
for the 
red his 
3 while 

[, smit- 
letting 
it even 

coming 
flooded 
p before 
I. And 
it, that 
istrade. 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 285 

She wouldn't come down till she had 
finished with them. She was, I gathered, 
ample over Siegfried, but when it came to 
Juchs she was profuse. Every single aspect 
of them both that was most likely to make 
a dean think it impossible to marry her was 
pointed out and enlarged upon. She wouldn't, 
she announced, come down a stair farther 
till my uncle was in full possession of all the 
facts while at the same time carefully bearing 
in mind the Table of Affinity. 

"And were you terribly surprised and 
shocked. Uncle Rudolph.?" I asked, standing 
beside him with our backs to the fire in our 
now familiar attitude of arm in arm. 

My uncle is an ugly little man, yet at that 
moment I could have sworn that he had the 
face of an angel. He looked at me snd 
smiled. It was the wonderfullest smile. 

"I don't know what I was," he said. *' When 
she had done I just said, *My Beloved'— and 
then she came down." 

October 15th. 

This, is my last night here, and this is the 
last time I shall write in my old-age book. 
lo-moiTow we all go away together, to 
Bern, where my uncle and Dolly will be 



286 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 




II 

(I • 



married, and then he takes her to England, 
and Mrs. Barnes and I will also proceed there, 
discreetly, by another route. 

So are the wanderings of Mrs. Bames and 
Dolly ended, and Mrs. Barnes will enter into 
her idea of perfect bliss, which is to live in the 
very bosom of the Church with a cathedral 
almost in her back garden. For my uncle, 
prepared at this moment to love anybody, 
also loves Mrs. Bames, and has invited her 
to make her home with him. At this moment 
indeed he would invite everybody to make 
their homes with him, for not only has he in- 
vited me but I heard him most cordially press- 
ing those peculiariy immovable Antoines to 
use his house as their headquarters whenever 
the- happen to be in England. 

I think a tendency to invite runs in the 
family, for I, too, have been busy inviting. 
I have invited Mrs. Barnes to stay with me 
in London till she goes to the Deanery, and 
she has accepted. Together we shall travel 
thither, and together we shall dwell there, 
I am sure, in that unity which is praised 
by the Psahnist as a good and pleasant 
thing. 

She will stay with me for the weeks during 
which my uncle wishes to have Dolly all to 



IN THE MOUNTAINS 887 

Wm^lf. I think there will be a great many 
o those weeks, from what I know of Dolly^ 
but being with a happy Mrs. Barnes will be 
different from being with her as she was he^ 
She IS so happy that she consists entirely of 
unclouded affection. The puckers from her 

C'Cn t 'T """ -»-«'-ents frJm 
her heart have all gone together. She is as 
simple and as transparent as a child. She 
always was transparent, but without know! 
•ng It; now she herself has pulled off W 
veils, and cordially requests one .o look her 
through and threugh and see for one^tfhow 
there is nothing there but conteritmft. I 
httle happiness-what wonders it works- 
Was there ever anything like it? 
Ihis )s a place of blessing. When I came 

t^at i w w "° r"°" ^^ vouchsafecS me 
that I would go down it again one of four 
people, each of whom would leave the lifl 
house full of renewed life, of rtsToiS b'^^ 
of who esome looking-forward. clarified Tt 
on their feet, made useful once mo,; To 
themselves and the world. After an.we-re 

there t :;rr '° •" T'^"- ^-^ve" 
mere is of good in any of us isn't after all 

going to be destroyed by cireumstancerani 



fl^-^ll' 



288 IN THE MOUNTAINS 

thrown aside as useless. When I am so 
foolish— i/ I am so foolish I should say, for I 
feel completely cured!— as to begin thinking 
backward again with anything but a benevo- 
lent calm, I shall instantly come out here 
and invite the most wretched of my friends 
to join me, and watch them and myself being 
made whole. 

The house, I think, ought to be re-christ- 
ened. 

It ought to be called Chalet du Fleuve Jcyr- 
dan. 

But perhaps my guests mightn't like that. 






I 1 



THE END 




so 
)rl 
ing 
vo- 
ere 
ids 
ing 

ist- 

or- 



t. 




THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS 
GARDEN CITY, N. Y.