Full text of "Cynthia"
By LEONARD MERRICK
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
681 FIFTH AVENUE
BY MITCHELL. KENNERLY
BY E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
All Rights Reserved
First American Definitive Edition, with Introduction by
Maurice Hewlett, limited to 1550 copies
(of which only 1500 were for sale)
Published June 2, 1919, Out of Print June 9, 1919.
Second American Edition, June 23, 1919.
Third " " July, 1919.
Fourth " " October, 1919.
Fifth " " " 1919.
Printed In the United States of America
My first acquaintance with Mr. Merrick's
engaging and stimulating muse was made in the
pages of Violet Moses, an early work, which ap-
peared, I remember, in three volumes. Reading
it again in the light of my appreciation of what
its author has done since, I think of it now as I
felt of it then. It has great promise, and though
its texture is slight its fibres are of steel. It
shows the light hand, which has grown no heavier,
though it has grown surer, the little effervescence
of cynicism, with never a hiccough in it, the
underlying, deeply-funded sympathy with real
things, great things and fine things, and the
seriousness of aim which, tantalisingly, stops
short just where you want it to go on, and pro-
vokes the reader to get every book of Mr. Mer-
rick's as it appears, just to see him let himself
go — which he never does. He is one of the most
discreet dissectors of the human heart we have.
In Violet Moses Mr. Merrick avoided the great
issue after coming up against it more than once.
So did he in The Quaint Companions, a maturer
but less ambitious study. I don't know why he
avoided h in Violet's case, unless it was because
he found it too big a matter for his light battery.
In the Companions' case I do know. It was
because he came upon another problem which
interested him more, a problem with a senti-
mental attraction far more potent than any he
could have got out of miscegenation. The result
was the growth, out of a rather ugly root, of a
charming and tender idyll of two poets, an idyll,
nevertheless, with a psychological crux involved
in its delicate tracery. All this seems a long
way from Cynthia, which is my immediate busi-
ness, but is not so in truth. In Cynthia (which,
I believe, followed Violet) you have a problem
of psychology laid out before you, and again Mr.
Merrick does not, I think, fairly tackle it. But
he fails to tackle it, not because it is too big for
his guns, as Violet's was, and not because he finds
another which he likes better, as he did when he
was upon The Companions, but because, I am
going to suggest, he found it too small. He took
up his positions, opened his attack, and the
enemy in his trenches dissolved in mist.
The problem with which Cynthia opens is the
familiar one of the novelist, considered as such,
and as lover, husband, father and citizen. Now
it's an odd thing, but not so odd as it seems at
first blush, that while you may conceive a poet
in these relations and succeed in interesting your
readers, you will fail with a novelist. I cannot
now remember a single interesting novel abou£
a novelist. There is Pendennis, of course; but
who believes that Pen was a great novelist, or
cares what kind of a novelist he was? Who
cares about Walter Lorraine? Would anybody
give twopence to read it? The reason is that
in the poet the manifestations of literary genius
are direct and explicit — some are susceptible of
quotation, some may be cut out with the scissors
— while in the novelist they are oblique and im-
plied. Humphrey Kent in Cynthia is in no
sense an explicit genius ; we are not, in fact, told
that he was a genius at all. His technique seems
to have been that of Mr. George Moore, then
rather fashionable. The book puts it no higher
than this, that the hero, with an obvious bent for
writing, marries in a hurry and then finds out
that he cannot be an honest man and support
his wife and child by the same stroke. It is not
whether he can be a good novelist and a good
lover too, but whether he can be a good novelist
and pay his bills. That's not very exciting,
though George Gissing in New Grub Street drew
out of it a squalid and miserable tale which,
once begun, had to be finished. Luckily, in
Cynthia, Mr. Merrick finds a secondary theme,
and handles it so delicately and so tenderly that
the book has an abiding charm because of it.
That theme is the growth of Cynthia's soul.
I myself am one of Cynthia's victims, and I
am sure that Mr. Merrick is another. He
sketches her with admirable reticence in the be-
ginning, where she is shown to us as very little
more than a pretty girl. His strokes are few and
sure. But she grows from chapter to chapter,
and at the end, after the tragic crisis, she sweeps
onward to the sentimental crisis which crowns the
tale of her married life with a dignity and grave
beauty which justify a belief in Hestia, even
now, when modern testimony and practice alike
are against such a belief. She justifies Mr.
Merrick's conclusion too. It is seldom enough
that we are able to believe in the happy solution
of such troubles as he has traced out in Cynthia.
Cynics against inclination, we feel that the dog
will return to his vomit after the easy reconcilia-
tion and facile tears upon Hestia's generous
bosom. Not so here. Cynthia has got her
Humphrey for what he is worth, and will hold
him. She is one of Mr, Merrick's loveliest
women; and he has made many lovely women.
Two friends were sitting together outside the
Cafe des Tribunaux at Dieppe. One of them
was falling in love; the other, an untidy and
morose little man, was wasting advice. It was
the hour of coffee and liqueurs, on an August
"You are," said the adviser irritably, "at the
very beginning of a career. You have been sur-
prisingly fortunate ; there's scarcely a novelist in
England who wouldn't be satisfied with such
reviews as yours, and it's your first book. Think :
twelve months ago you were a clerk in the city,
and managed to place about three short stories a
year at a guinea each. Then your aunt what-
was-her-name left you the thousand pounds, and
you chucked your berth and sat down to a novel.
'Nothing happens but the unforeseen' — the result
justified you. You sold your novel; you got a
hundred quid for it ; and The Saturday, and The
Spectator, and every paper whose opinion is
worth a rush, hails you as a coming light. For
you to consider marrying now would be flying
in the face of a special providence."
"Why?" said Humphrey Kent.
"'Why'! Are you serious? Because your
income is an unknown quantity. Because you've
had a literary success, not a popular one. Be-
cause, if you keep single, you've a comfortable
life in front of you. Because you'd be a damned
"The climax is comprehensive, if it isn't con-
vincing. But the discussion is a trifle 'previous,'
eh? I can't marry you, my pretty maid, et
"You are with her all day," said Turquand —
"I conclude she likes you. And the mother
"There's really nothing to countenance; and,
remember, they haven't any idea of my position:
they meet me at a fashionable hotel, they had
read the book, and they saw The Times review.
What do they know of literary earnings? the
father is on the Stock Exchange, I believe. I
am an impostor !"
"You should have gone to the little show I
recommended on the quay, then. I find it good
Kent laughed and stretched himself.
"I am rewarding industry," he said. "For
once I wallow. I came into the money, and I
put it in a bank, and by my pen, which is
mightier than the sword, I've replaced all I drew
to live during the year. Ain't I entitled to a
brief month's splash? Besides, I've never said
I want to marry — I don't know what you're
"You haven't 'said' it, but the danger is about
as plain as pica to the average intelligence, all
the same. My son, how old are you — twenty-
seven, isn't it? Pack your bag, ask for your bill,
and go back with me by the morning boat ; and,
if you're resolved to make an ass of yourself over
a woman, go and live in gilded infamy and buy
sealskin jackets and jewellery while your legacy
lasts. I'll forgive you that."
"The prescription wouldn't be called ortho-
"You'd find it cheaper than matrimony in the
long-run, I promise you. Now and again, when
some man plays ducks and drakes with a fortune
for a cocotte there are shrieks enough to wake his
ancestors; but marriage ruins a precious sight
more men every year than the demi-monde and
the turf and the tables put together, and nobody
shrieks at all — except the irrepressible children.
Did it never occur to you that the price paid for
the virtuous woman is the most exorbitant price
known in an expensive world?"
"No," said Kent shortly, "it never did"
"And they call you 'an acute observer' ! Mar-
riage is Man's greatest extravagance."
"The apothegm excepted. It sounds like a
"It's a fact, upon my soul. I tell you, a sensi-
ble girl would shudder at the thought of entrust-
ing her future to a man improvident enough to
propose to her; a fellow capable of marrying a
woman is the sport of a reckless and undisci-
plined nature that she should beware of."
"The end is curac/m-and-brandy," said Kent,
*'and in your best vein. What else? You'll
contradict yourself with brilliance in a moment
if you go on."
The journalist dissembled a grin, and Kent,
gazing down the sunny little street, inhaled his
cigarette pleasurably. To suppose that Miss
Walford would ever be his wife looked to him
so chimerical that his companion's warnings did
not disturb him, yet he was sufficiently attracted
by her to find it exciting that a third person could
think it likely. He was the son of a man who
had once been very wealthy, and who, having
attempted to repair injudicious investments by
rasher speculation, had died owning little more
than enough to defray the cost of his funeral.
At the age of nineteen Humphrey had realised
that, with no stock-in-trade beyond an education
and a bundle of rejected manuscripts, it was in-
cumbent on him to fight the world unassisted,
and, suppressing his literary ambitions as likely
to tell against him, he had betaken himself to
some connections who throve in commerce and
had been socially agreeable. To be annihilated
by a sense of your own deficiencies, seek an ap-
pointment at the hands of relations. The boy
registered the aphorism, and withdrew. When
4 'life" means merely a struggle to sustain exist-
ence, it is not calculated to foster optimism, and
the optimistic point of view is desirable for the
production of popular English fiction. His
prospect of achieving many editions would have
been greater if his father had been satisfied with
five per cent. He shifted as best he could, and
garnered various experiences which he would
have been sorry to think would be cited by his
biographer, if he ever had one. "Poverty is no
disgrace," but there are few disgraces that cause
such keen humiliations. Eventually he found
regular employment in the office of a stranger,
and, making Turquand's acquaintance in the
lodging-house at which he obtained a bedroom,
contemplated him with respect and envy. Tur-
quand was sub-editing The Outpost, a hybrid
weekly for which he wrote a little of what he
thought and much that he disapproved, in con-
sideration of a modest salary. The difference
in their years was not too great to preclude con-
fidences. An intimacy grew between the pair
over their evening pipes in the arid enclosure to
which the landlady's key gave them access; and
it was transplanted to joint quarters embellished
with their several possessions, chiefly portman-
teaus and photographs, equally battered. The
elder man, perceiving that there was distinction
in the unsuccessful stories displayed to him, im-
parted a good deal of desultory advice, of which
the most effectual part was not the assurance
that the literary temperament was an affliction,
and authorship a synonym for despair. The
younger listened, sighed, and burned. Aching
to be famous, and fettered to a clerk's stool, he
tugged at his chains. He had begun to doubt
his force to burst them, when he was apprised,
to his unspeakable amazement, that a maternal
aunt, whom he had not seen since he was a school-
boy, had bequeathed him a thousand pounds.
Dieppe had dined, and the Grande Rue was
astir. He watched the passers-by with interest.
In the elation of his success he was equal to
tackling another novel on the morrow, and he
saw material in everything: in the chattering
party of American girls rumiing across the road
to eat more ices at the pastrycook's; in the
^ ^ (^ CYNTHIA 7
coquettish dealer in rosaries and Lives of the
Saints, who had put up her shutters for the night
and was bound for the Opera; in the little boy-
soldiers from the barracks, swaggering every-
where in uniforms several sizes too big for them.
Sentences from the reviews that he was still re-
ceiving bubbled through his consciousness deli-
riously, and he wished, swelling with gratitude,
that the men who wrote them were beside him,
that he might be introduced, and grip their
hands, and try to express the inexpressible in
"I should like to live here, Turk," he remarked :
"the atmosphere is right. It's suggestive, stimu-
lating. When I see a peasant leaning out of a
window in France, I want to write verses about
her ; when I see the same thing at home, I only
notice she's dirty."
"Ah!" said Turquand, "that's another reason
why you had better go back with me to-morrow.
The tendency to write verses leads to the casual
ward. Let us go and watch the Insolent Opu-
lence losing its francs."
The Casino was beginning to refill, and the
path and lawn were gay with the flutter of
toilettes when they reached the gates. Two of
the figures approaching the rooms were familiar
to the novelist, and he discovered their presence
with a distinct shock, though his gaze had been
scanning the crowd in search of them.
"There are the Walfords," he said.
The other grunted — he also had recognised a
girl in mauve; and Kent watched her silently
as long as she remained in view. He knew that
he had nerves when he saw Miss Walford. The
sight of her aroused a feeling of restlessness in
him latterly which demanded her society for its
relief; and he had not denied to himself that
when a stranger, sitting behind him yesterday in
the salon de lecture, had withdrawn a handker-
chief redolent of the corylopsis which Miss Wal-
ford affected, it had provided him with a sensa-
tion profoundly absurd.
If he had nerves, however, there was no occa-
sion to parade the fact, and he repressed impa-
tience laudably. It was half an hour before the
ladies were met. Objecting to be foolish, he felt,
nevertheless, that Cynthia Walford was an ex-
cuse for folly as she turned to him on the terrace
with her faint smile of greeting; felt, with un-
reasoning gratification, that Turquand must
She was a fair, slight girl, with dreamy blue
eyes bewitchingly lashed, and lips so delicately
modelled that the faint smile always appeared
a great tribute upon them. She was no less
beautiful for her manifest knowledge that she
was a beauty, and though she could not have
been more than twenty-two, she had the air of
carrying her loveliness as indifferently as her
frocks — which tempted a literary man to destruc-
tion. She accepted admiration like an entremets
at a table d'hote — something included in the
menu and arriving as a matter of course ; but her
acceptance was so graceful that it was delightful
to bend to her and offer it.
Kent asked if they were going in to the con-
cert, and Mrs. Walford said they were not. It
was far too warm to sit indoors to listen to that
kind of music ! She found Dieppe insufferably
hot, and ridiculously overrated. Now, Trouville
was really lively ; didn't he think so ?
He said he did not know Trouville.
"Don't you? Oh, it is ever so much better;
very jolly — really most jolly. We were there
last year, and enjoyed it immensely. We — we
had such a time!" She giggled loudly. "How
long are you gentlemen remaining?"
"Mr. Turquand is 'deserting' to-morrow," he
said. "I? Oh, I shall have to leave in about
a week, I'm afraid."
"You said that a week ago," murmured Miss
"I like the place," he confessed; "I find it
very pleasant, myself."
Mrs. Walford threw up her hands with a
scream of expostulation. Her face was elderly,
despite her attentions to it, but in her manner
she was often a great deal more youthful than
her daughter ; indeed, while the girl had already
acquired something of the serenity of a woman,
the woman was superficially reverting to the art-
lessness of a girl.
"What is there to like? Dieppe is the Casino,
and the Casino is Dieppe!"
"But the Casino is very agreeable," he said,
his glance wandering from her.
"And the charges are perfectly monstrous.
Though, of course, you extravagant young men
don't mind that!"
"A friend might call me young," said Tur-
quand gloomily; "my worst enemy couldn't call
"Oh, I mind some of the charges," returned
Kent. "I hate being 'done.' "
She was pleased to hear him say so. Her
chief requirement of a young man was that he
should be well provided for, but if he had the
good feeling to exercise a nice economy till he
became engaged, it was an additional recom-
mendation. Her giggle was as violent as before,
"Oh, I daresay!" she exclaimed facetiously;
"I'm always being taken in; I don't believe those
stories any longer. Do you remember Willy
Holmes, Cynthia, and the tales he used to tell
me? I used to think that young man was so
steady, I was always quoting him! And it
turned out he was a regular scapegrace and
everybody knew it all the time, and had been
laughing at me. I've given up believing in any
one, Mr. Kent — in anyone, do you hear?" She
shook the splendours of her hat at him, and
gasped and gurgled archly. "I've no doubt
you're every bit as bad as the rest!"
He answered with some inanity. Miss Wal-
ford asked him a question, and he took a seat
beside her in replying. Turquand sat down too.
Twilight was falling, and a refreshing breeze
began to make itself felt. A fashionable sea
purled on the sand below with elegant decorum.
In the building the concert commenced, and
snatches of orchestration reached them through
the chatter of American and English and French
from the occupants of the chairs behind. Pres-
ently Mrs. Walford wanted to go and play petits
chevaux. The sub-editor, involuntarily attached
to the party, accompanied her, and Kent and the
girl followed. The crowd round the tables was
fairly large, but Turquand prevailed on the dame
to see that there was space for four persons in
a group. She complimented him on his dexter-
ity, but immediately afterwards became "fa-
tigued," and begged him to take her to the "set-
tee in the corner." The party was now divided
He had appreciated the manoeuvres suffi-
ciently to feel no surprise when she found the
room "stifling" ten minutes later and said that
she must return to the terrace. She had shown
such small desire for his companionship hitherto,
however, that he was momentarily uncertain
which tete-a-tete was the one that she was anxious
"Pouf !" she exclaimed, as they emerged into
the air. "It was unbearable. Where are the
others? Didn't they come out too?"
"They have no idea we've gone," said Tur-
She was greatly astonished; she had to turn
before she could credit it.
"I thought they were behind us," she repeated
several times. "I'm sure they saw us move.
Oh, well, they'll find it out in a minute, I expect!
They strolled up and down.
"Sorry you're going, Mr. Turquand? Your
friend will miss you very much."
"I don't think so," he answered. "He knew
I was only running over for a few days."
"He tells me it is the first holiday he has taken
for years," she said. "His profession seems to
engross him. I suppose it is an engrossing one.
But he oughtn't to exhaust his strength. I
needn't ask you if you've read his novel. What
do you think of it?"
"I think it extremely clever work," said
"And it's been a great success, too, eh? 'One
of the books of the year,' The Times called it."
"It has certainly given him a literary position."
"How splendid!" she said. "Yes, that's what
I thought it: 'extremely clever,' brilliant — most
brilliant! His parents must be very proud of
"They're dead," said Turquand.
Mrs. Walford was surprised again. She had
"somehow taken it for granted that they were
living," and as she understood that he had no
brothers or sisters, it must be very lonely for
"He sees a good deal of me" said her escort,
"and I'm quite a festive sort of person when you
Her giggle announced that she found this
entertaining, but the approval did not loosen his
tongue. She fanned herself strenuously, and
decided that, besides being untidy, he was dense.
"Of course, in one way," she pursued, "his
condition is an advantage to him. Literary
people have to work so hard if they depend on
their writing, don't they?"
"I do," he assented, "I'm sorry to say."
His constant obtrusion of himself into the
matter annoyed her very much. She had neither
inquired nor cared if he worked hard, and she
felt disposed to say so. Turquand, who realised
now why honours had been thrust upon him this
evening, regretted that loyalty to Kent prevented
his doing him what he felt would be the greatest
service that could be rendered and removing the
temptation of the mauve girl permanently from
"With talent and private means our author is
"I often tell him so," he said.
"If it doesn't tempt him to rest on his oars,"
she added delightedly. "Wealth has its dangers.
Young men will be young men!"
" 'Wealth' is a big word," said he. "Kent
certainly can't be called 'wealthy.' "
"But he doesn't depend on his pen?" she cried
with painful carelessness.
"He has some private means, I believe; in
fact, I know it."
"I am so glad — so glad for him. Now I have
no misgivings about his future at all. . . . Have
"I'm not sure that I follow you."
She played with her fan airily.
"He is certain to succeed, I mean; he needn't
fear anything, as he has a competence. Oh, I
know what these professions are," she went on,
laughing. "My son is in the artistic world, we
are quite behind the scenes. I know how hard-up
some of the biggest professionals are when they
have nothing but their profession to depend on.
A profession is so precarious — shocking — even
when one has aptitude for it."
"Kent has more than 'aptitude,' " he said. "He
has power. Perhaps he'll always work too much
for himself and the reviewers to attract the
widest public. Perhaps he's a trifle inclined to
over-do the analytical element in his stuff; but
that's the worst that can be said. And, then, it's
a question of taste. For myself, I'm a believer,
in the introspective school, and I think his
"Schools" and "methods" were meaningless to
the lady in such a connection. Novels were
novels, and they were either "good" or they were
"rubbish," if she understood anything about them
— and she had read them all her life. She looked
perplexed, and reiterated the phrase that she had
"Oh, extremely clever, brilliant — most bril-
liant, really! I quite agree with you."
"Your son writes, did you say, Mrs. Walford?"
"Oh no, not writes — no! No, my son sings.
He sings. He is studying for the operatic stage."
Her tone couldn't have been more impressive if
she had said he^was de Reszke. "His voice is
"Really!" he replied with interest. "That's a
great gift — a voice."
"He is 'coming out' soon," she said. "He —
er — he could get an engagement at any moment,
but — he is so conscientious. He feels he must
do himself justice when he makes his debut. Jus-
tice. In professional circles he is thought an im-
mense amount of — immense!"
"Has he sung at any concerts?"
"In private," she explained — "socially. He
visits among musicians a great deal. And of
course it makes it very lively for us. He is quite
— er — in the swim !"
"You're to be congratulated on your family,"
said Turquand. "With such a son, and a daugh-
ter like Miss Walford "
"Yes, she is very much admired," she ad-
mitted — "very much! But a strange girl, Mr.
Turquand. You wouldn't believe how strange!"
He did not press her to put him to the test,
but she supplied the particulars as if glad of the
opportunity. He remarked that, in narrating
matters of which she was proud, she adopted a
breathless, staccato delivery, which provoked the
suspicion that she was inventing the facts as she
"She is most peculiar," she insisted. "The
matches she has refused ! Appalling !"
"No?" he said.
"A Viscount!" she gasped. "She refused a
Viscount in Monte Carlo last year. A splendid
fellow! Enormously wealthy. Perfectly wild
about her. She wouldn't look at him."
"You astonish me," he murmured.
Mrs. Walford shook her head speechlessly,
with closed eyes.
"And there were others," she said in a reviving
spasm — "dazzling positions! Treated them like
dirt. She said, if she didn't care for a man,
nothing would induce her. What can one do
with such a romantic goose? Be grateful that
you aren't a mother, Mr. Turquand."
"Some day," he opined, without returning
thanks, "the young lady will be induced."
"Oh, and before long, if it comes to that!"
She nodded confidentially. "To tell you the truth,
I expect somebody here next week. A young
man rolling in riches, and with expectations that
— oh, tremendous ! He raves about her. She has
refused him — er — seven times — seven times. He
wanted to commit suicide after her last rejection.
But she respects him immensely. A noble fel-
low he is — oh, a most noble fellow! And when
he asks her again, I rather fancy that pity'll make
her accept him, after all."
"She must have felt it a grave responsibility,"
observed the journalist politely, "that a young
man said he wanted to commit suicide on her
"That's just it, she feels it a terrible responsi-
bility. Oh, she's not fond of him! Sorry for
him, you understand — sorry. And, between our-
selves, I'm sure I really don't know what to think
would be for the best — I don't indeed! But I
wouldn't mind wagering a pair of gloves, that,
if she doesn't meet Mr. Right soon, she'll end
by giving in and Mr. Somebody-else will have
stolen the prize before he comes — hee, hee, hee!"
Turquand groaned in his soul. In his mental
vision his friend already flopped helplessly in the
web, and he derived small encouragement from
the reflection that she was mistaken in the
succulence of her fly.
"You're not smoking," she said. "Do! I
don't mind it a bit."
He scowled at her darkly, and was prepared to
see betrothal in the eyes of the absent pair when
they rejoined them.
As yet, however, they were still wedged in the
crowd around the tables. On their right, a fat
Frenchwoman cried "Assez! assez!" imploringly
as her horse, leading by a foot, threatened at last
to glide past the winning-post and leave victory
in the rear ; to their left, an English girl, evident-
ly on her honeymoon, was making radiant de-
mands on the bridegroom's gold. Kent had lost
sixteen francs, and Miss Walford had lost five
before they perceived that the others had retired.
"We had better go and look for them," she
The well-bred sea shimmered in the moon-
light now, and the terrace was so thronged that
investigation could be made only in a saunter.
"I wonder where they have got to," she mur-
Her companion was too contented to be
"We're sure to come upon them in a minute,"
he said. "Do you abuse Dieppe, too, Miss
"Not at all — no. It is mamma who is bored."
"I should like to show you Arques," he said.
"I'm sure your mother would be interested by
that. Do you think we might drive over one
"I don't know," she replied. "Is it nice?"
"Well, 'nice' isn't what you will call it when
you are there. It's a ruined castle, you know;
and you can almost 'hear' the hush of the place —
it's so solemn, and still, and old. If you're very
imaginative, you can hear men clanking about in
armour. You would hear the men in armour,
"Am I imaginative?" she smiled.
"Aren't you?" he asked.
"Perhaps I am; I don't know. What makes
you think so?"
He was puzzled to adduce any reason except-
ing that she was so pretty. He did not pursue
"There are several things worth seeing here,"
he said. "Of course Dieppe 'is only the Casino,'
if one never goes anywhere else. I suppose you
haven't even heard of the cave-dwellers?"
"The 'cave-dwellers'?" she repeated.
"Their homes are the caves in the cliffs. Have
you never noticed there are holes? They are
caves when you get inside — vast ones — one room
leading out of another. The people are beggars,
very dirty, and occasionally picturesque. They
exist by what they can cadge, and, of course,
they pay no rent; it's only when they come out
that they see daylight."
"How horrid!" she shivered. "And you went
to look at them?"
"Rather! They are very pleased to 'receive/
One of the inhabitants has lived there for twenty
years. I don't think he has been outside it for
ten — he sends his family. Many of the colony
were born there. Don't you think they were worth
"I don't know," she said; "one might be
robbed and murdered in such a place."
"Oh, rather!" he agreed. "Some of the inner
rooms are so black that you literally can't see
your hand before you. It would be a beautiful
place for a murder! The next-of-kin lures the
juvenile heiress there, and bribes the beggars to
make away with her. Unknown to him, they
spare her life because — because Why do
they spare her life? But they keep her prisoner
and bring her up as one of themselves. Twenty
years later I believe I could write a sensa-
tional novel, after all!"
"What nonsense!" laughed Miss Walford
"Do you like that kind of story?"
"I like plots about real life best," she said.
He found this an exposition of the keenest
literary sympathies, and regarded her adoringly.
She preferred analysis to adventure, and realism
to romance! What work he might accomplish
inspired by the companionship of such a girl!
"Wherever have you been, Cynthia? We
thought you were lost," he heard Mrs. Walford
say discordantly, and the next moment they were
"It's where have you been, mamma, isn't it?"
"Well, I like that ! We didn't stop a minute ;
I made certain you saw us get up. We've been
hunting for you everywhere. Mr. Turquand and
I have been out here ever so long, haven't we,
Mr. Turquand? Looking at the moon, too, if
you want to know, and — hee, hee, hee! — talking;
Turquand, who was staring at Kent, allowed
an eyelid to droop for an instant at the conclu-
sion, and the latter stroked his moustache and
"Such a time we've been having, all by our-
selves!" she persisted uproariously. "Mr. Kent,
are you shocked? Oh, I've shocked Mr. Kent!
He'll always remember it — I can see it in his
"I shall always remember you, Mrs. Walford,"
he said, trying to make the fatuity sound grace-
"We were left by ourselves, and we had to get
on as we could!" she cried. "Hadn't we, Mr.
Turquand ? I say we had to amuse ourselves as
we could. Now Cynthia's glowering at me ! Oh
— hee, hee, hee! — you two young people are too
respectable for us. We don't ask any questions,
but — but I daresay Mr. Turquand and I aren't
the only ones — hee, hee, hee! — who have been
'looking at the moon.' "
"Shall we find chairs again?" said Kent
quickly, noting the frown that darkened the
girl's brow. "It's rather an awkw r ard spot to
stand still, isn't it?"
She agreed that it was, and a waiter brought
them ices, and Mrs. Walford w r as giddy over a
liqueur. They remained at the table until she
said that it was time to return to their hotel.
Parting from them at its gates, the two men
turned away together. Both felt in their pockets,
filled their pipes, and, smoking silently, drifted
through the rugged little streets to the cafe
where they had had their conversation after
" 'Thank you for a very pleasant evening,' "
said Turquand, breaking a long pause.
It was the only criticism that he permitted him-
self, and Kent did not care to inquire if it was
to be regarded as ironical.
After his friend's departure, the mother and
daughter became the pivot round which the
author's movements revolved. Primarily his
own companionship and the novelty of Dieppe
had been enough; but now he found it dreary
to roam about the harbour, or to sit sipping
mazagrans, alone. Reviewing the weeks before
Turquand joined him, he wondered what he had
done with himself in various hours of the day.
Solitude hung so unfamiliarly on his hands that
Miss Walford's society was indispensable.
Soon after the chocolate and rolls, he went
with the ladies to the Casino, and spent the
morning beside them under the awning. Mrs.
Walford did not bathe: while people could have
comfortable baths in the vicinity of their toilet-
tables, she considered that recourse to tents and
the sea was making an unnecessary confidence —
and she disliked to see Cynthia swim, "with a
lot of Frenchmen in the water." Whether it
was their sex, or only their nationality, that was
the objection was not clear. She usually de-
stroyed a copy of a novel while Mr. Kent and her
daughter talked. Considering the speed with
which she read it, indeed, it was constantly as-
tonishing to him that she could contrive to do
a book so much damage. In the evening they
strolled out again, and but for the afternoon he
would have had small cause for complaint. Even
this gained a spice of excitement, however, from
the fact that it was uncertain how long Miss
Walford's siesta would last, and there was al-
ways the chance, as he lounged about the hotel,
smoking to support the tedium, that a door would
open and cause heart-leaps.
Mrs. Waif ord thought that the visit to Arques
would be "very jelly," and the excursion was
made about a week later. Kent found the girl's
concurrence in his enthusiasm as pretty as he
had promised himself it would be, and when they
had escaped from the information of the gardien
and wandered where they chose to go, the cha-
peron was the only blot upon perfection.
Perhaps she realised the influence of the scene,
though her choice of adjectives was not happy —
the explorations "made her tired" before long.
Since the others were so indefatigable, they
"might explore while she rested!"
It was, as Kent had said, intensely still. The
practical obtruding itself for a moment, he
thought how blessed it would be to work here,
where doors could never slam and the yells of
children were unknown. They mounted a hillock
and looked across the endless landscape silently.
In the dungeons under their feet lay dead men's
bones, but such facts concerned him little now.
Far away some cattle — or were they deer? —
browsed sleepily under the ponderous trees. Of
what consequence if they were cattle or deer?
Still further, where the blue sky dij)ped and the
woodland rose, a line of light glinted like water.
Perhaps it ucas water, and if not, what matter?
It was the kingdom of imagination; deer, water,
fame, or love — the Earth was what he pleased!
Among the crumbling walls the girl's frock flut-
tered charmingly; his eyes left the landscape and
sought her face.
"It's divine!" she said.
He could not disguise from himself that life
without her would be unendurable.
"I knew you'd like it," he said unsteadily.
She regarded the questionable cattle again; his
tone had said much more.
Kent stood beside her in a pause in which he
believed that he struggled. He felt that she
was unattainable; but there was an intoxication
in the moment that he was not strong enough to
resist. He touched her hand, and, his hear!
pounding, met her gaze as she turned.
"Cynthia I" he said in his throat. The colour*
left her cheeks, and her head drooped. "Are
you angry with me?" She was eminently
graceful in the attitude. "I love you," he said —
"I love you. What shall I say besides? I love
She looked slowly up, and blinded him with a
smile. Its newness jumped and quivered through
"Cynthia! Can you care for me?"
"Perhaps," she whispered.
He was alone with her in Elysium; Adam and
Eve were not more secure from human observa-
tion when they kissed under the apple tree. He
drew nearer to her — her eyes permitted. In a
miracle he had clasped a goddess, and he would
not have been aware of it if all the pins of
Birmingham had been concealed about her
toilette to protest.
Presently she said :
"We must go back to mamma!"
He had forgotten that she had one, and the
recollection was a descent.
"What will she say?" he asked. "I'm not a
millionaire, dearest; I am afraid she won't be
"I'll tell her when we get home. Oh, mamma
"And you have a father?" he added, feeling
vaguely that the ideal marriage would be one
between orphans, whose surviving relatives were
abroad and afraid of a voyage. "Do you think
they will give you to me?"
"After I've spoken to them," she said deli-
ciously. "Yes — oh, they will be nice, I am sure,
Mr. Kent! . . . There, then! But one can't
shorten it, and it sounds a disagreeable sort of
"Not as you said it."
"It was very wrong of you to make me say
it so soon. Are you a tyrant? . . . We must
really go back to mamma!"
"Did you know I was fond of you?" asked
"Why did I wonder?"
"I don't know."
"No; tell me! Was it because — you liked me?"
"You're vain enough already."
"Haven't I an excuse for vanity?"
"Am I an excuse?"
Language failed him.
"Tell me why you wondered," he begged.
"Because You're wickedly persistent!"
"I am everything that is awful. Cynthia?"
"Because you liked me?"
"Perhaps; the weeniest scrap in the world.
Oh, you are horrid! What things you make me
say! And we are only just "
"Engaged! It's a glorious word; don't be
afraid of it."
"I shall be afraid of you in a minute. How
do you think of your — your proposals in your
"I've only written one book."
"Did you make it up? He didn't talk as you
talk to me? 3 '
"He wasn't so madly in love with her."
"But he said the very sweetest things!"
"You are horrid!" she declared again. "I don't
know what you mean a bit . . . Mr. Kent "
"Who is her
"Yes — sweetheart ?"
"Now you've put it out of my head." She
laughed softly. "I was going to say something."
"Let me look at you till you think what it
"Perhaps that wouldn't help me."
"Oh, you're an angel!" he exclaimed. "Cyn-
thia, we shall always remember Arques?"
She breathed assent. "Was this Joan of Arc's
"Whose?" she said.
He was penitent ; he made haste to add :
"Not hers; it is spelt differently, besides."
"I believe you're being silly," she said, in a
puzzled tone. "I don't understand. Oh, we
must go back to mamma; she'll think we're
Mrs. Walford didn't evince any signs of per-
turbation, however, when they rejoined her, nor
did she ask for particulars of what they had seen.
She seemed to think it likely that they might
not feel talkative. She said that she had "en-
joyed it all immensely," sitting there in the
shade, and that the gardien, who had come back
to her, had imparted the most romantic facts
about the chateau. Around some of them she
was convinced that Mr. Kent could easily write
an historical novel, which she was sure would be
deeply interesting, though she never read histori-
cal novels herself. Had Mr. Kent and Cynthia
any idea of the quantity of pippins grown in the
immediate neighbourhood every summer? The
gardien had told her that as well. No; it had
nothing to do with the chateau, but it was
simply extraordinary, and the bulk of the fruit
was converted into cider, and the peasantry
got it for nothing. Cider for nothing must be so
very nice for them when they couldn't afford the
wine, and she had no doubt that it was much
more wholesome too y though, personally, she
had tasted cider only once, and then it had made
They drove down the dusty hill listening to
her. The girl spoke scarcely at all, and the onus
of appearing entertained devolved upon Kent.
When the fiacre deposited them at the hotel at
last, he drew a sigh in which relief and appre-
hension mingled. Cynthia followed her mother
upstairs, and he caught a glance from her, and
smiled his gratitude; but he questioned inwardly
what would be the upshot of the announcement
that she was about to make. He perceived with
some amusement that he was on the verge of an
experience of whose terrors he had often read.
He was a candidate for a young lady's hand.
Yes, it made one nervous. He asked himself for
the twentieth time in the past few days if he had
been mistaken in supposing that Mrs. Walford
over-estimated his eligibility; perhaps he was no
worse off than she thought? But even then he
quaked, for he had seen too little society since he
was a boy to be versed in such matters, and he
was by no means ready to make an affidavit that
she had encouraged him. What was "encourage-
A signal at the entrance to the dining-room
was exciting but obscure, and there was no op-
portunity for inquiries before the ladies took
their seats. He anathematised an epergne which
to-night seemed more than usually obstructive.
Cynthia was in white. He did not remember
having seen her in the gown before, and the
glimpse of her queenliness shook him. No mother
would accord to him so peerless a treasure — he
had been mad!
It was interminable, this procession of courses,
relieved by glances at a profile down the table.
His mouth was dry, and he ordered champagne
to raise his pluck. It heated him, without
steadying his nerves. The room was like a Turk-
ish bath; yet the curve of cheek that he de-
scried was as pale as the corsage. How could
she manage it? He himself was bedewed with
He could wait no longer. He went on to the
veranda and lit a cigar. He saw Mrs. Waif or d
come out, and, throwing the cigar away, rose to
meet her. She was alone. Where was Cynthia?
Seeking him? or was her absence designed?
"I hope our excursion hasn't tired you, Mrs.
"Oh dear no!" she assured him. She hesi-
tated, but her manner was blithesome. His cour-
age mounted. "Shall we take a turn?" she sug-
"Mrs. Walford, your daughter has told you
what I ... of our conversation this afternoon,
perhaps? I haven't many pretensions, but I'm
devoted to her, and she is good enough to care a
little for me. Will you give her to me and let me
spend my life in making her happy?"
She made a gesture of sudden artlessness.
"I was perfectly astonished!" she exclaimed.
"To tell you the truth, Mr. Kent, I was perfectly
astonished when Cynthia spoke to me. I hadn't
an idea of it. I — er — I don't know whether I'm
particularly obtuse in these affairs — hee, hee,
hee! — but I hadn't a suspicion!"
"But you don't refuse?" he begged. "You
She waved her hands afresh, and went on
jerkily, with a wide, fixed smile:
"I never was more astounded in my life. Of
course, I — er — from what we've seen of you . . .
most desirable — most desirable in many ways.
At the same time — er — Cynthia's a delicate girl ;
she has always been used to every luxury. So
few young men are really in a position to justify
"My position is this," he said. "I've my
profession, and a little money — not much; a
thousand pounds, left me by a relative last year.
With a thousand pounds behind us, I reckon
that my profession would certainly enable us
to live comfortably till I could support a wife
by my pen alone." Her jaw dropped. He felt
it before he turned, and shivered. "I'm afraid
you don't think it very excellent?" he mur-
She was breathing agitatedly.
"It ... I must say — er — I fear her father
would never sanction Oh no; I am sure!
It's out of the question."
"A man may keep a wife on less without her
suffering, Mrs. Waif ord. My God ! if I thought
that Cynthia would ever know privation or dis-
tress, do you suppose I would "
"A wife!" she said, "a wife! My dear Mr.
Kent, a man must be prepared to provide for a
family as well. Have you — er — any expecta-
"I expect to succeed," said Kent; "I've the
right to expect it. No others."
"May I ask how much your profession brings
"I sold my novel for a hundred pounds," he
answered. "It was my first," he added, as he
heard her gasp, "it was my first! . . . Mrs. Wal-
ford, I love her! At least think it over. Let
me speak to her again, let me ask her if she is
afraid. Don't refuse to consider!"
The pain in his voice was not without an effect
on her disgust. She* was mercenary, though she
did not know it; she was not good-natured,
though she had good impulses; she was ludi-
crously artificial. But she was a woman, and he
was a young man. She did not think of her own
courtship, for she had been sentimental only
when her parents approved — she hadn't "married
for money," but her heart had been providen-
tially warmed towards the one young gentleman
of her acquaintance who was "comfortably off."
She thought, however, of Cynthia, who had dis-
played considerable feeling in the bedroom an
"I must write to her father," she said, in a
worried voice. "I really can't promise you any-
thing ; I am very vexed at this sort of thing going
: on without my knowledge — very vexed. I shall
| write to her father to-night. I must ask you
to consider the whole matter entirely indefinite
until he comes. Immense responsibility . . .
immense ! I can't say any more, Mr. Kent."
She left him on the veranda. His sensation
was that she had shattered the world about him,
and that a weighty portion of the ruin was lying
on his chest.
When Sam Walford ran over to Dieppe, in
obedience to his wife's summons, he said :
"Well, what's this damn nonsense, Louisa, eh?
There's nothing in this, you know — this won't
"Cynthia is very cut up; you had better tell
her so! I'm sure I wish we had waited and gone
to Brighton instead. ... A lot of bother!"
"An author," he said, with amusement; "what
do you do with authors? You do 'find 'em/ my
"I don't know what you mean," she returned
tartly. "I can't help a young man taking a
fancy to her, can I? If you're so clever, it's a«
pity you didn't stop here with her yourself. If'
you don't think it's good enough, you must say
so and finish the matter, that's all. You're her
"I'll talk to her," he declared. "Where is she
now? Let's go and see! And where's Mr. —
what d'ye call him? What's he like?"
"Mr. Kent. He is a very nice fellow. If he
had been in a different position, it would have
been most satisfactory. There's no doubt he's
very clever — highly talented — the newspapers
are most complimentary to him. And — er — of
course a novelist is socially — er — he has a cer-
"Damn it! he can't keep a family on com-
pliments, can he? I suppose he's a bull of him-
self, eh? Thinks he ought to be snapped at?"
"Nothing of the sort; you always jump to
such extraordinary conclusions," she said. "He
is a perfect gentleman and proposed for her
beautifully. After all, there aren't many young
men who've got so much as a thousand pounds
in ready money."
"But he isn't making anything, you tell me,"
objected Mr. Walford; "they'll eat up a thou-
sand pounds before they know where they are.
. . . He wouldn't expect anything with her, I
She shook her head violently.
"No earthly occasion. Oh dear no!"
"Let me go and see Cynthia," he said again.
"It's a funny thing a girl like that hasn't ever
had a good offer — upon my soul it is!"
"You ask home such twopenny-halfpenny
men," retorted his wife. "She is in her room;
I'll let her know you're here."
Cynthia was "cut up." She liked Humphrey-
Kent very much — and everything is relative : she
felt herself to be a Juliet. She considered it
very unkind of mamma to oppose their mar-
riage, and said as much to her father, with tears
on her lashes and pathetic little sobs. Sam Wal-
f ord was sorry for her ; his affection for his chil-
dren was his best attribute. He said "Damn
it!" several times more. And then he patted
her on the cheek, and told her not to cry, and
went out on the Plage to commune with tobacco.
After his cigar, he sought a coiffeur — there
is a very excellent one in Dieppe; and he was
shaved, an operation that freshened him ex-
tremely; and he had his thin hair anointed with
various liquids of agreeable fragrance and most
attractive hues, and submitted his moustache to
the curling-irons. The French barber will play
w T ith one for hours, and when Mr. Walford
had acquired a carnation for his buttonhole, and
sipped a vermouth over the pages of Gil Blas s
it was time to think of returning to the hotel.
A pretty woman, who had looked so demure in
approaching that the impropriety was a sensa-
tion, lifted her eyes to him and smiled as she
passed. He momentarily hesitated, but remem-
bered that it was near the dinner-hour, and that
he .was a father with a daughter's love-affair
upon his hands. But he re-entered the hotel in
a good humour.
Cynthia went to bed radiantly happy that
night, and kissed a bundle of lilies that had cost
fifty francs, for the Capulets had relented.
The two men had had a long conversation on
the terrace over their coffee, and the senior, who
was favourably impressed, had ended by being
jovial and calling Kent "my boy," and smacking
him on the shoulder.
Mrs. Walford was not displeased by the de-
cision, since it could never be said that she had
advocated it. "My daughter's fiance, Mr. Kent,
the novelist, you know," sounded very well, and
she foresaw herself expatiating on his impor-
tance, and determined what his income should be
in her confidences to intimate friends. Really,
if the house were nice, he might be making any-
thing she liked — who could dispute her asser-
The Capulets had relented, and the sun shone
— especially in Paris, where Kent went in haste
to get the engagemerit-ring ; the thirsty trees
were shuddering in the glare, and the asphalt
steamed. But to wait had been impossible,
though the stay at Dieppe was drawing to a
close and they would all be back in London soon.
It seemed to him that it would be as the signing
of the agreement when Cynthia put her ringer
through his ring; and he was resolved that it
should be a better one than any of those that her
mother wore with such complacence. Poor devil
of an author though he was, her acquaintances
shouldn't see that Cynthia was marrying badly
by the very emblem of his devotion!
In the rue de la Paix he spent an hour scruti-
nising windows before he permitted himself to
enter a shop. He chose finally a pearl and dia-
monds — one big white pearl, and a diamond
flashing on either side of it. It was in a pale blue
velvet case, lined with white satin. He was satis-
fied with his purchase, and so was the salesman.
Cynthia's flush of delight as he disclosed it
repaid him superabundantly, and when the girl
proudly displayed it to them, he was gratified
to observe her parents' surprise. The cries of
admiration into which Mrs. Walford broke were
fervent, and instantaneously she decided to say
that he was making three thousand a year.
His days were now delicious to Kent. A magic
haze enwrapped their stereotyped incidents, so
that the terrace of the Casino, the veranda of
the hotel, Nature, and the polyglot lounging
crowd itself, were all beatified. They were as
familiar things viewed in a charming dream —
"the pleasant fields traversed so oft," which were
still more pleasant as they appeared to the sleep-
ing soldier. A tenderness overflowing from his
own emotions was imparted to the scenes, and he
found it almost impossible to realise sometimes
that the goddess beside him, who had been so
unapproachable a month ago, was actually to
belong to him. It dazzled him; it seemed in-
He had once sat down in the salon de lecture
with the intention of informing Turquand of
his joy; but the knowledge that the news en-
tailed a defence, if he didn't wish to write for-
mally, had resulted in his writing nothing. Deli-
cacy demanded that he should excuse his ac-
tion by word of mouth if excuses were required
at all. To do such a thing in permanent pen-
strokes looked to him profanation of an angel
and an insult to the bounty of God.
Mr. Walford was not able to remain at Dieppe
till the day fixed for the others' return; nor, he
said genially, was there any occasion for him to
put himself out now that he had a prospective
son-in-law to take his place. Humphrey was
well content. He understood that the elder lady
was a bad sailor and clung obstinately to the
saloon, and he anticipated several golden hours
to which the paternal presence would have proved
He was not disappointed. Sustained by Heid-
sieck and the stewardess, Mrs. Walford stayed
below, as usual, and he tasted the responsibility
of having the girl in his charge. He let the
flavour dissolve on his palate slowly. It was
as if they were already on the honeymoon, he
thought, as they paced the deck together, or he
made her comfortable in a chair and brought
her strawberries; he watched her eat them with
amused interest, vaguely conscious that he found
it wonderful to see her mouth unclose and a
delicate forefinger and thumb grow pinky.
"You are sure you have the address right?"
she asked. "Humphrey, fancy if you lost it and
could never find us again after we said good-
bye to-day! Wouldn't it be awful?"
"Such a thing might happen," she declared.
"You try and try your hardest to remember
where we told you we lived, but you can't. It
is terrible! You go mad "
"Or to a post-office," he said.
She laughed gaily.
"How could you write to me when you'd for-
gotten the address ? You foolish fellow ! There,
I was brighter than you that time."
He felt it would be prolix to explain that he
was thinking of a directory, and not of stamps.
"Come, after that, I must really hear if you've
learnt your lesson! What is it? Quick!"
"You live in a house called The Hawthorns,"
he said — "one of the houses. You would have
called it The Cedars, only that was the name of
the house next door. I take the train to Streat-
ham Hill — I must be very particular to say
'Hill,' or catastrophes will happen. To begin
with, I shall lose an hour of your society "
"And dinner — dinner will certainly be over!"
"Dinner will certainly be over. When I come
out, I turn to the right, pass the estate agent's,
take the first to the left, and recollect that I'm
looking for a bow-window and a white balcony,
and a fence that makes it impossible to see them.
Do I know it?"
"Not 'impossible.' But — yes, I'll trust you."
He parted from the women at Victoria, and,
getting into a hansom, gave himself up to reflec-
tion. The rooms that he shared with Turquand
were in the convenient, if unfashionable, neigh-
bourhood of Soho, and an all-pervading odour
of jam reminded him presently that he was near-
ing his destination. He wasn't sure of finding
Turquand in at this hour. He opened the door
with his latchkey, and, dragging his portman-
teaus into the passage, ran upstairs. The jour-
nalist, in his shirt-sleeves, was reading an eve-
ning paper, with his slippered feet crossed on the
"Hallo!" he said; "you've got back?"
"Yes," said Humphrey. "How the jam
"It's raspberry to-day. I've come to the con-
clusion that the raspberry's the most penetrating.
How are you?"
"Dry, and hungry too. Is there anything to
drink in the place?"
"There's a very fine brand of water on the
landing, and there's the remainder of a roll,
extra sec, in the cupboard, I believe; I finished
the whisky last night. We can go and have some
dinner at the Suisse. Madame is desolee; she's
asked after you most tenderly."
"Good old madame! And her moustache?"
There was a pause, in which Humphrey con-
sidered how best to impart his tidings. The
other shifted his feet, and contemplated the
smoke-dried wall — the only view attainable from
the window. Kent stared at him. It was dis-
played to him clearly for the first time that his
marriage would mean severance from Turquand
and the Restaurant Suisse and all that had been
his life hitherto, and that Turquand might feel
it more sorely than he expressed. He was sorry
for Turquand. He lounged over to the mantel-
piece and dipped his hand in the familiar to-
bacco-jar, and filled a pipe before he spoke.
"Well," he said, with an elaborate effort to
sound careless, "I suppose you'll hardly be as-
tonished, old chap — I'm engaged."
Turqtjand did not answer immediately.
"No," he said at last; "I'm not astonished.
Nothing could astonish me, excepting good news.
When is the event to take place?"
"That's not settled. Soon. . . . We shall al-
ways be pals, Turk?"
"I'll come and see you sometimes — oh yes.
"Things are quite smooth all round."
He looked hard at the wall and pulled his
"You said it would happen, didn't you? I
didn't see a glimmer of a possibility myself."
"Love's blind, you know."
"You said, too, it — er — it wouldn't be alto-
gether a wise step. You'll change your mind
about that one day, Turk."
"Hope so," said Turquand. "Can't to-night."
"You still believe I'm making a mistake?"
"Whr.t need is there to discuss it now?"
"Why shouldn't we?"
"Why should we? Why argue with a man
whether the ice will bear after he has made a hole
"We shan't be extravagant, and I shall work
like blazes. I've a plot simmering already."
"Happy ending this time?"
"I don't quite see it, to be consistent — no."
"You must manage it. They like happy end-
ings, consistent or not."
"Damn it, I mean to be true! I won't sell
my birthright for a third edition! I shall work
like blazes, and we shall live quite quietly some-
where in a little house "
"That's impossible," said Turquand. "You
may live in a little house, or you may live quietly,
but you can't do both things at the same time."
"In the suburbs — in Streatham, probably.
Her people live in Streatham, and of course she
would like to be near them."
"And you will have a general servant, eh,
with large and fiery hands — like Cornelia down-
stairs? Only she'll look worse than Cornelia,
because your wife will dress her up in muslins
and streamers, and try to disguise the generality.
If you work in the front of your pretty little
house, your nervous system '11 be shattered by
the shrieks of your neighbours' children swinging
on the gates — forty-pound-a-year houses in the
suburbs are infested with children; nothing
seems to exterminate them, and the inevitable
gates groan like souls in hell — and if you choose
the back, you'll be assisted by the arrival of the
joint, and the vegetables, and the slap of the
milk-cans, and Cornelia the Second's altercations
with the errand-boys. A general servant with a
tin pail alone is warranted to make herself heard
for eleven hundred and sixty yards."
"Life hasn't made an optimist of you," ob-
served Kent, less cheerfully, "that you clack
about 'happy endings'!"
"The optimist is like the poet — he's born, he
isn't made. Speaking of life, I suppose you'll
assure yours when you marry?"
"Yes," said Kent meditatively; "yes, that's
a good idea. I shall. . . . But your suggestions
are none of them too exhilarating," he added;
"let's go to dinner!"
The sub-editor put on his jacket and sought his
"I'm ready," he announced. "By the way,
I never thought to inquire: Mrs. Walford
hasn't a large family, has she?"
"A son as well, that's all. Why?"
"I congratulate you," said Turquand; it was
the first time the word had passed his lips. "It's
a truism to sav that a man should never marry
anybody; but if he must blunder with someone,
let him choose an only child! Marrying into
a large family's more expensive still. His wife
has for ever got a sister having a wedding, or a
christening, or a birthday and wanting a present;
or a brother asking for a loan, or dying and
plunging her into costly crape. Yes, I con-
Humphrey expressed no thanks, and he deter-
mined to avoid the subject of his engagement as
much as possible in their conversations hence-
He was due at The Hawthorns the following
afternoon at five o'clock, and his impatience to
see the girl again was intensified by the knowl-
edge that he was about to see her in her home.
The day was tedious. In the morning it was
showery, and he was chagrined to think that he
was doomed to enter the drawing-room in muddy
shoes ; but after lunch the sky cleared, and when
he reached Victoria the pavements were dry. The
train started late, and travelled slowly; but he
heard a porter bawling "Stretta Mill!" on the
welcome platform at last, and, making the sta-
tion's acquaintance with affectionate eyes, he
hastened up the steps, and in the direction of
He was prepossessed by its exterior, and his
anticipations were confirmed on entering the
Mrs. Walford was in the garden, he was told,
and the parlourmaid led him there. It was an
extremely charming garden. It was well de-
signed, and it had a cedar and a tennis-court,
which was pleasant to look at, though tennis was
not an accomplishment that his life had furnished
opportunities for acquiring; and it contained a
tea-table under the cedar's boughs, and Cynthia
in a basket-chair and a ravishing frock.
He was welcomed with effusion, and he pre-
sented his chocolates. Mr. Walford, already
returned from town, was quite parental in his
greeting. Tea was very nice and English in
the cedar's shade and Cynthia's presence. It
was very nice, too, to be made so much of in the
circumstances. Really they were very delightful
The son was in Germany, he learnt.
"Or we could have given you a treat, my
boy, if you are fond of music!" exclaimed the
stockjobber. "You will hear a voice when he
comes back. That's luck for a fellow, to be born
with an organ like Csesar's! He'll be making
five hundred a week in twelve months. I tell you
" 'Five hundred a week'?" echoed Mrs. Wal-
ford. "He'll be making more than five hundred
a week, I hope, before long! They get two or
three hundred a night — not voices as fine as
Caesar's — and won't go on the stage till they have
had their money, either. You talk such nonsense,
Sam . . . absurd!"
"I said 'in twelve months,' " murmured her
husband deprecatingly. "I said in 'twelve
months,' my dear." He turned to Kent, and
added confidentially, "There isn't a bass in ex-
istence to compare with him. You'll say so when
you hear. Ah, let me introduce you to another
member of the family — my wife's sister."
Kent saw that they had been joined by a spare
little woman with a thin, pursed mouth and a
nose slightly pink. She was evidently a maiden
lady, and his hostess's senior. Her tones were
tart, and when she said that she was pleased to
meet him, he permitted himself no illusion that
she spoke the truth.
Miss Wix, as a matter of fact, was not particu-
larly pleased to meet anybody. She lived with
the Walfords because she had no means of her
own and it was essential for her to live some-
where; but she accepted her dependence with
mental indignation, and fate had soured her.
Under a chilly demeanour she often burned se-
cretly with the consciousness that she was not
wanted, and the knowledge found expression at
long intervals in an emotional outbreak, in which
she quarrelled with Louisa violently, and pro-
claimed an immediate intention of "taking a
situation." What kind of situation she thought
she was competent to fill nobody inquired;
neither did the "threat" ever impose on anyone,
nor did she take more than a preliminary step
towards fulfilling it. She nursed the "Wanted"
columns of the Telegraph ostentatiously for a
day or two, and*waited for the olive-branch. The
household were aware that she must be persuaded
to forgive them, and she was duly persuaded —
relapsing into the acidulated person, in w T hom
hysteria looked impossible. A year or so later
the outbreak would be repeated, and she would
then threaten to "take a situation" quite as
vehemently as before.
"Tea, Aunt Emily?"
"Yes, please, if it hasn't got cold."
Humphrey took it to her. She stirred the cup
briskly, and eyed him with critical disfavour,
"I've read your book, Mr. Kent."
"Oh," he responded, as she did not say any
more. "Have you, Miss Wix?"
"Very good, I'm sure," she brought out, after
a further silence. He would not have imagined
the simple words capable of conveying so clearly
that she thought it very small beer indeed, "I
suppose you're in the middle of another?"
"No," he replied, "not yet."
She obviously considered that he ought to be.
"You should call her 'aunt,' " exclaimed Sam
Walford. "You'll have to call her 'Aunt Emily.'
We don't go in for formality, my boy. Rough
"Perhaps Mr. Kent thinks it would be rather
premature," suggested Miss Wix.
He talked to Cynthia.
Fruit and fowls might be admired if he liked,
and she and papa took him on a tour of inspec-
tion. There were moments when he was alone
with Cynthia, while her father discovered that
there weren't any eggs.
"He is very good-looking," said Mrs. Wal-
ford; "don't you think so?"
"I can't say he struck me as being remarkable
for beauty," said the spinster.
"I didn't say he was 'remarkable for beauty/
but he has — er — distinction — decided distinction.
I'm surprised you don't see it. And he has very
"His eyes won't give 'em any carriage-and-
pair," replied Miss Wix. "I used to have fine
eyes, my dear, but I've stared at hard times so
"I don't know where the 'hard times' come
in, I'm sure!" exclaimed Mrs. Walford sharply.
"And he wanted to give her a carriage directly
they marry, but Sam's forbidden it."
The maiden sniffed.
"He is most modest for his position! I tell
you, he was chased in Dieppe; the women ran
after him. A baroness in the hotel positively
threw her daughter at his head. . . . He
wouldn't look at anybody but Cynthia. . . . The
Baroness was miserable the day the engagement
"Cynthia ought to be very proud," returned
her sister dryly.
"Oh, of course the girl is making a wonderful
match — no doubt about it! He sold his novel
for an extraordinary sum — quite extraordinary!
— and the publishers have implored him to let
them have another at his own terms; I saw the
telegrams. . . . Astonishing position for such a
"She's in luck!"
"She's a very taking girl. Her smile is so
sweet, and her teeth are quite perfect."
"She was in luck to meet such a catch — some
people didn't have the opportunity. ... I once
had a beautiful set of teeth," added Miss Wix
morosely; "but you can't pick rich husbands off
On the white balcony, after dinner, Kent
begged Cynthia to fix the wedding-day. After
she had named one in May, it was agreed that,
subject to her parents' approval, they should be
married two months hence. He made his way
to the station about eleven o'clock, with a flower
in his coat and rapture in his soul.
The first weeks of the period were intermina-
He went to The Hawthorns daily, and Mrs.
Waif ord was so good as to look about for a house
for them in the neighbourhood. He was in love,
but not a fool; he was determined not to cripple
himself at the outset by a heavy rental. In con-
ference with the fiancee he intimated that it
would be preposterous for them to think of pay-
ing a higher rent than fifty pounds. Cynthia
was a little disappointed, for mamma had just
seen a villa at sixty-five that was a "picturesque
duck." He strangled an impulse to say, "We'll
take it," and repeated that as soon as their cir-
cumstances brightened they could remove. She
did not argue the point, though the vara avis
evidently allured her, and Kent felt her acquies-
cence to be very gracious, and wondered if he
The outlay on furniture did not worry him
much. As Mrs. Walford pointed out, the things
would "always be there" and "once they were
bought, they were bought!" In her company
they proceeded to Tottenham Court Road every
morning for a week, and this one sped more
quickly to him than any yet. It was a foretaste
of life with Cynthia to choose armchairs, and
etchings, and ornaments, and the rest, for their
home together. They had found a house at
fifty pounds per annum; it was about ten min-
utes' walk from The Hawthorns, a semi-detached
villa in red brick, with nice wide windows, and
electric bells, and rose-trees on either side of the
tessellated path. They wanted to be able to
drive up to it when they returned from the honey-
moon and find it ready for them. Mrs. Walford
was to buy the kitchen utensils, and engage a
servant while they were away. All they had to
do now was to buy the articles of interest, and
settle the wall-papers, and have little interme-
diate luncheons, and go back to the shop, and
sip tea while rolls of carpet were displayed. It
was great fun.
In the shops, though, the things seldom seemed
to look so nice as thev had done in the cata-
logues, and it was generally necessary to pay
more than had been foreseen. But, again, "once
they were bought, they were bought!" The
thought was sustaining. If Kent felt blank when
he contemplated the total of what they had spent,
and remembered that the kitchen clamoured still,
he reflected that to kiss Cynthia in such a jolly
little menage would certainly be charming, and
the girl averred ecstatically that the dessert serv-
ice "looked better than mamma's!" He esti-
mated that they could live in comfort on two
hundred and fifty a year — for the first year, at
all events; and by then he would have finished
a novel, which, in view of the Press notices that
he had had, he believed would bring them in as
much as that. Even if it did not, there would
be a substantial portion of his capital remaining;
and with the third book No, he had no cause
for dismay, he told himself.
They had decided upon Mentone for the wed-
ding trip — a fortnight. It was long enough,
and they both felt that they would rather go to
Mentone for a fortnight than to Bournemouth
or Ventnor for a month. It would amount to
much the same thing financially, and be much
"The morning after we come back, darling,"
said Kent, "I shall go straight to my desk after
breakfast, and you know you'll see scarcely more
of me till evening than if I were a business man
and had to go to the City."
"Y-e-s," concurred Cynthia meekly. "Of
course — I understand."
Mr. and Mrs. Walford's present was to be
a grand piano — or possibly a semi-grand, since
the drawing-room was not extensive — and with
a son being educated for the musical profession,
it was natural that they shouldn't select it till
he returned; they wished for the advantage of
He was travelling. He was on the Continent
with Pincocca, the master under whom he
studied. On hearing of his sister's engagement,
he had at once despatched affectionate letters,
and now he was expected home in two or three
days to make Mr. Kent's acquaintance, and ten-
der his felicitations in person.
The better Kent learnt to know the Walfords,
the more clearly he perceived how inordinately
proud they were of their son. Caesar's arrival,
and Caesar's approaching debut were topics dis-
cussed with a frequency he found tedious. Even
Cynthia was so much excited by the prospect of
reunion that a tete-a-tete with her lost a little of
its fascination. He occasionally feared that if
his prospective brother-in-law did not arrive
without delay, he would have been bored into a
cordial dislike for him by the time they met.
He foresaw himself telling him so, at a distant
date, and their joking over the matter together.
Miss Wix alone appeared untainted by the pre-
vailing enthusiasm, and the first ray of friendli-
ness for the spinster of which he had been con-
scious was due to a glance of comprehension from
her eyes one afternoon when Cgesar had been dis-
cussed energetically for upwards of half an hour.
It struck him that there was even a gleam of
ironical humour in her gaze.
"Enthralling, isn't it?" she seemed to say.
"What do you think of 'em?"
He said to Cynthia later:
"They do talk about your brother and his
voice an awful lot, dearest, don't they?"
She looked somewhat startled.
"Well, I suppose we do," she answered slowly,
"now you point it out. But I didn't know. You
see, ever since his voice was discovered, Caesar's
been brought up for the profession. When
you've heard it, you'll understand."
"Is it really so wonderful?" he asked respect-
"Oh, I'm sure you'll say so. Signor Pincocca
told mamma it would be a crime if she didn't
let him study seriously for the career. And
Caesar has been under him years since then.
Pincocca says when he 'comes out' people '11
rave about him. If he had had just a 'fine voice/
he would have gone on the Stock Exchange, you
know, with papa; but — but there could be no
question about it with a gift like that."
Kent acknowledged that it was natural they
should be profoundly interested by the young
fellow's promise. Privately he wished that a
literary man could also leap into fame and for-
tune with his debut.
The next afternoon when he reached The
Hawthorns he heard that Caesar had already
come — indeed, he had divined as much by Mrs.
Walford's jubilant air. At the moment the gen-
tleman was not in the room ; Cynthia ran to fetch
him. Humphrey awaited his entrance with con-
siderable curiosity, and the mother kept looking
impatiently towards the door.
"I don't know what's keeping him," she said
in her most staccato tones. "Pie went to fetch
my book. Oh, he'll be here in a minute — or shall
we go and look for him? Perhaps he's in the
garden, and Cynthia can't find him. What do
"Just as you please," said Kent.
Eut as he spoke the girl returned, to announce
that her brother was following her, and the next
moment there was an atmosphere of brillantine
and tuberoses, and Humphrey found his finger-
tips being gently pressed in a large, moist palm.
"I am charmed," said Caesar Walford with a
lingering smile. "Charmed."
Kent saw a fat young man of six or seven and
twenty, with an enormous chest development,
and a waist that suggested that he wore stays
and was already wrestling with his figure. His
hair, which had been grown long, was arranged
on his forehead in a negligent curl, and his shirt-
collar, low in the neck, surmounted a flowing
"I'm very pleased to meet you," said the au-
thor with disgust.
"I am charmed!" repeated Caesar tenderly.
"It's quite a delight. And it's you who are going
to take Cynthia away from us, eh?" He glanced
from one to the other, and shook a playful fore-
finger. "You bad man! . . . O wicked puss!"
Mrs. Walford viewed these ponderous antics
"There's grace!" her expression cried.
"There's dramatic gesture for you !"
Again Humphrey's gaze sought the sour spin-
ster's, and — yes, her own was eloquent.
He sipped his tea abstractedly. So this was
the gifted being of whom he had heard so much
— this dreadful creature who bulged out of his
frock coat, and minced, and posed, and was
alternately frisky and pompous. What a con-
nection to have! Was it possible that his voice
was so magnificent as they all declared, or would
that be a disappointment too? In any case, his
self-complacence made a stranger ill.
It was about two hours after dinner that the
young man was begged to oblige the company,
and Humphrey, who was now truly eager to hear
him, feared for a long while that the persuasions
would not succeed, for the coming bass objected
in turn to Wagner, and Verdi, and all the songs
in his repertoire. He shrugged his shoulders
pityingly at this one, had forgotten another, and
was "not equal" this evening to a third. At last,
however, Cynthia rose, and insisted that he should
give them "Infelice." Ernani was "intolerable,"
but, since they would not let him alone He
crossed languidly to her side.
A hush of suspense settled upon the long
drawing-room. Sam Walford fixed Kent with
a stare, as if he meant to watch the admiration
begin to bubble in him. Louisa, the hilarious
and untruthful, appeared to be experiencing
some divine emotion even before the first note.
Miss Wix closed her eyes, with her mouth to
one side. Then the young man languished at
the gasalier, and roared.
It was a prodigious roar. No one could dis-
pute that he possessed a voice of phenomenal
power, if it were once conceded to be a voice, in
the musical sense, at all. It seemed as if he must
burst his corsets, and shift the furniture — that
the ceiling itself must split with the noise that
he hurled up. Perspiration broke out on him,
and rolled down his face, as he writhed at the
gas-globes. His large body was contorted with
exertion. But he never faltered. Bellow upon
bellow he produced, to the welcome end — till
Cynthia struck the final chord and he bowed.
"A performance?" asked Walford, swollen
Kent said indeed it was.
The compliments were effusive. It was dis-
cussed whether he was, or was not, "in voice"
to-night. He explained that to "lose himself"
when he sang he needed Pincocca at the piano.
He sank into his chair again, and mopped his
"The amateur accompaniment is very pain-
ful," he said winningly.
Kent took leave of the family earlier than
was his custom, asserting that he had work to
The momentous date was now close at hand,
and Turquand, who had not refused to be best
man, had made a present that was lavish, all
things considered. In the days that intervened,
Humphrey and he found it impracticable to
taboo the subject of the wedding; it was arranged
that on the eve of the ceremony they should
have a "bachelor dinner" by themselves, and sub-
sequently smoke a few cigars together in a music-
hall. Neither wanted anybody else, nor, in point
of fact, did Humphrey know many men to in-
vite. For time to attend the wedding the jour-
nalist had applied to his Editor on the grounds
of "a bereavement," and as he watched Kent col-
lect possessions, and pore over a Continental
Bradshaw, and fondle the sacred ring, he was
more than ever convinced that he had used the
It was a wet evening — the eve of the wedding-
day. A yellow mist hung over Soho, and a light
rain had fallen doggedly since noon, turning the
grease of the pavements to slush. On the moist
air the smell of the jam clung persistently, and
along the narrow streets fewer children played
tip-cat than was usual in the district.
Kent's impedimenta were packed and labelled,
and a brown-paper parcel among the litter con-
tained the best man's new suit. The coat would
be creased by the morrow, and he knew it ; but he
ihad a repugnance to undoing the parcel sooner
I than was compulsory, and once, when Kent was
I not looking, he had kicked it.
The two men put up their collars, and made
their way across the square.
"Are you sure we'll go to the Suisse?" asked
Kent. "It isn't festive, Turk."
"Yes, let's go to the Suisse," said Turquand
[grumpily. "It's close."
Both knew that its proximity was not the rea-
Ison that it had been chosen, but the pretence was
"We'll have champagne, of course," said
JHumphrey, as they passed in, and took their
(seats at their customary little table, with its half-
jrard of crusty bread and damp napkins. "We'll
nave champagne, and — and be lively. For
.[Heaven's sake don't look as if you were at a
jfuneral, Turk! This is to be an enjoyable eve-
ling. Where's the wine-list?"
"Champagne? What for?" said Turquand.
'Auguste will think you're getting at him."
Auguste was prevailed upon to believe that
:he demand was made in sober earnest. That
oeing the case, he could run out for champagne
10 less easily than for "bittare"! Madame, at
he semi-circular counter, waved her fat hand
in their direction gaily. Monsieur had inherited
a fortune, it was evident!
"Well," said Turquand, when the cork had
popped, "here's luck! Wish you lots of happi-
ness, old chap, I'm sure."
"Same to you," murmured Kent. "God
knows I do! . . . It's awful muck, this stuff,
isn't it? What's he brought?"
"It's what you ordered. Your mouth's out
of taste. Eat some more kidneys."
Humphrey shook his head.
"I suppose you'll come here to-morrow eve-
ning — the same as usual, eh?"
"May as well, I suppose. One's got to feed
somewhere. You'll be all rice and rapture then,
I'll think of you."
"Do! I don't know how it is, but — but just
now, somehow, between ourselves But per-
haps I oughtn't to say that. ... I say, don't
think I was going to — to I wouldn't have
you think I meant I wasn't fond of her, old boy,
for the world! You don't think that, do you?:
She — oh, Heaven! — she's a perfect angel, Turk!!
. . . Fill up your glass, for goodness' sake, man, |
and do look jolly! Turk, next time we dine to
gether it'll be at Streatham, and there'll be ai
little hostess to make you welcome; and — and
there'll always be a bottle of Irish, old man, and
we'll keep a pipe in the rack with the biggest
bowl we can find, and call it yours. By God,
"Yes," said Turquand huskily. . . . "Going
to have any more of this stew ?"
"I've had enough. Help yourself!"
"No, I'm not ravenous either — smoked too
much, perhaps. I say, madame doesn't know
yet; better tell her."
She was induced to join them presently, and
to drink a glass of champagne, enchanted by the
invitation. Monsieur Kent was always si gentil.
But champagne! Was it that he celebrated al-
ready another romance? Comment? he was
going to be married — nevare? But yes — to-mor-
row? Ah, mon Dieu! She rocked herself to and
fro, and screamed the intelligence down the din-
ner-lift to her husband in the kitchen. Alors,
they must drink a chartreuse with her — she in-
sisted. Yes, and she would have one of mon-
sieur Kent's cigarettes. To the health of the
Outside, the rain was still falling as they left
the Restaurant Suisse and tramped to a music-
hall. Here their entrance was unfortunately
timed. Some good turns appeared earlier in the
programme, some good turns figured lower
down; but during the half -hour that they re-
mained the monotony of the material that the
average music-hall "comedian" regards as hu-
morous struck Kent more forcibly than ever.
Wives eloped with the lodgers, or husbands beat
their wives and got drunk with "the boys."
There seemed nothing else — nothing but con-
jugal infelicity; it was rang-tang-tang on the
one vulgar, discordant note.
"I've had enough of this," he said; "let's go.
What time is it?"
"Time for a quiet pipe at home, and then to
turn in early. Let's cab it!"
They were glad to take off their wet boots and
to find themselves back in their own shabby
chairs. But Cornelia had let the fire out, and
the dismantled room was chilly. Turquand pro-
duced the whisky and the glasses, and, blowing
a cloud, they drew up to the cold hearth, re-
marking that the weather had "turned muggy"
and that a fire would have been out of place on
such a night.
"It looks bare without my things, doesn't it?"
observed Kent. "One wouldn't have believed
they made so much difference."
"Yes," assented Turquand.
"You'll have to get some books for that shelf
over there, you know — it's awful empty."
Turquand shivered, and said that he should.
"You aren't cold?"
"Cold? Not a bit — no. You were say-
"I don't know, I wasn't saying anything par-
ticular. I'll write you from Mentone, old fellow
— not at once, but you shall have a line."
"Thanks," answered Turquand; "be glad to
hear from you."
"Not that there'll be anything to say."
"No, of course not. Still, you may just as
well twaddle, if you will."
There was a pause, while the pair smoked
slowly, each busy with his thoughts, and con-
sidering if anything of what he felt could be said
wdthout its sounding sentimental. Both were
remembering that they would never be sitting
at home together in the room again, and though
it had many faults, it assumed to the one who
was leaving it a "tender grace" now. He had
written his novel at that table ; .his first review
had come to him here. Associations crept out
and trailed across the floor; he felt that this
room must always contain an integral portion
of his life. And Turquand would miss him.
"Be dull for you to-morrow evening, rather,
I'm afraid, won't it?" he said in a burst.
"Oh, I was alone while you were at Dieppe,
you know. I shall jog along all right. . . .
You've bought a desk for yourself, haven't
"Yes. Swagger, eh?"
"You won't 'know where yer are.' ...
What's that — do you feel a draught?"
"No — I — well, perhaps there is a draught now
you mention it. Yes, I shall work in style when
we come back. Strange feeling, going to be
"Is it?" said Turquand. "Haven't had the
experience. Hope Mrs. Kent will like me — they !
never do in fiction. You . . . you might tell her
I'm not a bad sort of a damned fool, will you?
And — er — I want to say, don't have the funks
about asking me to your house once in a way, old
chap, when I shan't be a nuisance ; take my oath
I'll never shock your wife, Humphrey . . . too
fond of you. . . . Be as careful as — as you can, I
give you my word."
His teeth closed round his pipe tightly.
Neither man looked at the other ; Humphrey put
out his hand without speaking, and Turquand
gripped it. There was a silence again. Both
stared at the dead ashes. The clock of St. Giles-
in-the-Fields tolled twelve, and neither com-
merited on it, though each reflected that it was
now the marriage morning.
"Strikes me we were nearly making bally asses
of ourselves," said Turquand at last, in a shaky
voice. "Finish your whisky, and let's to bed!"
As the wheels began to revolve, he looked at
the girl with thanksgiving. Perhaps the top
feeling in the tangle of his consciousness was
relief that the worry and publicity of the day
were over. They w T ere married. For good or
for ill — for always — whether things went well or
went badly with him, she was his wife now ! He
realised the fact much more clearly here in the
train than he had done at the altar; indeed, at
the altar he had realised little but the awkward-
ness of his attitude, and that Cynthia was very
nervous. And he was glad; but, knowing that
he was glad, he wondered vaguely why he did
not feel more exhilarated.
They were alone in the compartment, and he
took her hand and spoke to her. She answered
by an obvious effort, and both sat gazing from
the window over the flying fields. She thought
of her home, and that "everything was very
strange," and that she would have liked to cry
"properly," without having Humphrey's eyes
upon her. Kent wondered whether she would
like to cry while he affected to be unaware of it
behind a paper, or whether she would imagine
he wanted to read and consider him unfeeling.
He thought that a wedding-day was a very
exhausting experience for a girl, and that her
evident desire to avoid conversation was fortu-
nate, since, to save his soul, he could not think
of anything to say that wasn't stupid. He
thought, also, though his palate did not crave
tobacco, .that a cigar would have helped him tre-
mendously, and that it was really extraordinary
to reflect that he and "Cynthia Walford" were
man and wife.
Next, he questioned inwardly what she was
thinking, and attempted, in a mental meta-
morphosis, to put himself in her place. It made
him feel horribly sorry for her. He pitied her
hotly, though he could not say so; and by a
sudden impulse he squeezed her gloved fingers
again, with remorseful sympathy. At the mo-
ment that he was moved to the demonstration,
however, she was really wishing that the dress-
maker had cut the corsage of her blue theatre
frock square, instead of in a "V." She was sure
it would have looked much better. He was
agreeably conscious that his mind had "some-
thing feminine in it" and congratulated himself
on his insight into hers. Some men would have
failed to comprehend ! Cynthia was distressfully
conscious that the tears with which she was fight-
ing had made her nose red, and she longed for
an opportunity to use her powder-puff. The en-
gine screamed. Both spoke perfunctorily. The
train sped on.
As he sat by her side before the sea, he looked,
not at the girl but within him. He thought of
the book that had formed in his head, and per-
haps his paramount feeling was impatience, and
the desire to find the first chapter already ma-
terialising into words. They were married. The
unconscious pretences of the betrothal period
were over in both. To him, as well as to her,
the magic, the subtile enchantment, was past.
She was still Cynthia — more than ever Cynthia,
he understood; but there had been a fascination
when "Cynthia" was a goddess to him, which
an acquaintance with strings and buttons had
destroyed. The corylopsis stood in a squat little
bottle with a silver lid among brushes and hair-
pins on a toilet-table, and his senses swam no
more when he detected its faintness on her frock.
Companionship, and not worship, was required
now, and neither found the other quite so com-
panionable as had been expected. This the girl
in her heart excused less readily than the man.
Primarily, indeed, the latter refused to acknowl-
edge it. It was preposterous to suppose that if
they did not possess much in common, he would
not have perceived the disparity during the en-
gagement! Then he reminded himself that his
life might have tendered him a shade intolerant;
he must remember that the subject of literary
work, all-engrossing to his own mind, made
| on hers unaccustomed demands. To try to phrase
a sensation, the attempt to seize a fleeting impres-
sion so delicately that it would survive the pro-
cess and not expire on the pen's point, were in-
stinctive habits with himself; to her they ap-
peared motiveless and wearisome games.
He had endeavoured, in the novels that they
read together during the honeymoon, to cultivate
her appreciation of what was fine; for she had
told him some of her favourite authors and he
had shuddered. She had obtained a book for
herself one day, and offered it to him. He had
thanked her, but said that he was sure by the
title that he wouldn't care for it. She answered
that it was very silly and unlit erary — she had
acquired that word — to judge a book by what
it was called. She was surprised at him! If she
had done such a thing, he would have ridiculed
her. And, apart from that, she did not see that
"Winsome Winnie" was a bad title. What was
the matter with it?
Kent said he could not explain. She declared
with a little triumphant laugh that that just
showed how wrong he was.
He made his endeavour very tenderly. To he
looked upon as the schoolmaster abroad was a
constant dread with him when he discovered
that, to effect a similarity of taste between them,
either she must advance, or he must regress.
Sometimes — very occasionally — he handed her a
passage with an air of taking it for granted that
the pleasure would be mutual, but her assent was
always so constrained that he was forced to realise
that the cleverness of expression was lost upon
her, that to her the word-painting had painted
nothing at all.
He wondered if his wife's dulness of vision fair-
ly represented the eyes with which the novel-
reading public read, and if it was folly to spend
an hour revising a paragraph in which the major-
ity would, after all, see no more artistry than if it
had been allowed to remain as it was written first.
He knew that it was folly, in a man like himself,
with whom literature was a profession, and not a
luxury, though he was aware at the same time
that he would never be able to help it — that to the
end there would be nights when he went up to bed
II having written no more than a hundred words all
i day, and yet went up with elation, because, right-
I ly or wrongly, he felt the hundred words to have
been admirably said. He knew that there would
i< be evenings in the future, as there had been in
i the past, when, after reading a page of a master's
l prose with delight, he would go and tear up five
sheets of his own manuscript with disgust. And
] he knew already — though he shrank from ad-
mitting this — that when it happened he would
never be able to confess it to Cynthia, as he had
1 done to Turquand, because Cynthia would find
The fortnight was near its conclusion, and both
looked forward with eagerness to the return to
England. He would plunge into his work; she
w r ould be near The Hawthorns, and have friends
to come to see her. Neither of the pair regretted
the step that they had taken; each loved the
other; but a honeymoon was a trying institution,
viewed as a whole.
Presently, where they sat, she turned and put
some questions to him about his projected book.
Her intentions were praiseworthy; she was a
good girl, and having married an author, she
understood that it was incumbent on her to take
an interest in his work, though she had fancied
once or twice that perhaps it w T ould have been
nicer if, like a stock-jobber, he had preferred
not to discuss his business at home. Papa had
never cared to do so, she knew. Discussing an
author's business was not so simple as she had
assumed. There seemed to be such a mass of
tedious detail that really didn't matter.
"When do you think it will be finished, Hum-
phrey?" she said.
"In nine months, I hope, if I stick to it."
"So long as nine months?" she exclaimed with
surprise. "Why, I've read — let me see — two,
three new ones of Mrs. St. Julian's this year!
Will it really take so long as nine months?"
"Quite, sweetheart; perhaps longer. I don't
write quickly, I'm sorry to say. Still, it won't
be bad business if Cousins pay the two hundred
and fifty that I expect. I think they ought to,
after the way the last has been received."
"Some people get much more, don't they?"
"Just a trifle!" he said. "Yes; but I'm not
a popular writer, you see. Wait a bit, though;
we'll astonish your mother with our grandeurs
yet. You shall have a victoria, and two men en
the box, with powdered hair, and drive out on a
wet day and splash mud at your enemies."
"I don't think I have any enemies," she
"You will have when you have the victoria and
pair. Some poor beggar of an author who's hop-
ing to get two hundred and fifty pounds for nine
months' toil will look at you from a bus and cuss
"Suppose you can't get two hundred and
fifty?" she inquired. "You can't be sure."
"Oh, well, if it were only a couple of hundred,
we shouldn't have to go to the workhouse, you
know. If it comes to that, a hundred, the same
as I got for the other, would see us through,
though of course I wouldn't accept such a price.
Don't begin to worry your little head about
ways and means on your honeymoon, darling;
there's time enough for arithmetic. And it's go-
ing to be good work. I've been practical, too. I
can end it happily, and retain a conscience. It's
almost a different plot from what it was when I
began to think, and it's better. It ends well, and
it's better — the thing's a Koh-i-noor!"
"Tell me all about it," she suggested.
He complied enthusiastically. She was being
very sympathetic, and he felt with perfect mo-
mentary content how jolly it was to have a
lovely wife and talk over these things with her.
Just what he had pictured !
"But wouldn't it be more exciting if you
kept that a mystery till the third volume?" she
said, at the end of five minutes.
It was as if she had thrown a bucket of ice-
water on his animation.
"I don't want it to be a mystery," he said.
"That isn't the aim at all. What I mean to do
is to analyse the woman's sensations when she
learns it. I want to show how she feels and
suffers ; yes, and the temptation that she wrestles
with, and loathes herself for being too weak to
put aside. Don't you see — don't you see?"
She was chiefly sensible that his pleasure had
vanished and that the note of interest in his
voice had died. She, however, repeated her sug-
gestion; to be a literary critic, she must be pre-
pared to maintain her views!
"I think all that would be much duller than if
you had the surprise," she declared.
He did not argue — he did not attempt to
demonstrate that her suggestion amounted to
proposing that he should write quite another
story than the one he was talking about; he felt
hopelessly that argument would be waste of time.
"Perhaps you are right," he said; "but one
does what one can."
"But you should say, 'What one trill/ dear;
it can be done whichever way you like."
"There's only one way possible to me, I assure
you; for once 'the wrong way' is the more diffi-
"That which you think is the wrong way,"
said Cynthia, with gentle firmness.
He looked at her a moment incredulously.
"Good Lord!" he said; "let me know some-
thing about my own business! I don't want to
pose on the strength of a solitary novel — I'm not
arrogant — but let me know something — at all
events, more than you! Heavens above! a novel-
ist devotes his life to trying to learn the technique
of an art which it wants three lifetimes to acquire,
and Mr. Jones, who is a solicitor, and Mr. Smith
the shoe manufacturer, and little Miss Pink of
Putney, who don't know the first laws of fiction
— who aren't even aware there are any laws to
know — are all prepared to tell him how his
books should be written."
"I am not Miss Pink of Putney," she said.
"And if I were, we all know whether we like a
book or whether we don't."
" 'Like'!" he echoed. "To 'like' and to 'criti-
cise' Men are paid to criticise books when
they can do it ; it's thought to be worth payment.
Editors, who don't exactly bubble over with gene-
rosity, sign cheques for reviews. I don't pretend
to teach Mr. Smith how to make his shoes; I've
sense enough to understand that he knows the
way better than I. Nor do these people think that
they can teach a painter how to compose his pic-
tures, or that they can give a musician lessons in
counterpoint. Why on earth should they im-
agine they're competent to instruct a novelist?
It is absurd!"
"Your comparisons are far-fetched," she said.
"A painter and a musician, we all know, have
to study; they "
"They're entitled to the consideration due to
a certain amount of money sunk — eh? That's
really it. There are thousands upon thousands
of families in the upper middle classes of Eng-
land to whom fiction will never be an art, because
the novelist hasn't been to an academy and paid
fees. As a matter of fact, it is only in artistic and
professional circles that a novelist in England
is regarded with any other feeling than good-
humoured contempt, unless he's publicly known
to be making a large income. The commercial
majority smile at him. They've a shibboleth —
I'm sure it's familiar to you : * You can't improve
your mind by reading novels.' They're per-
suaded it's true. They have heard it ever since
they were children, in these families where no
artist, no professional man of any kind, has ever
let in a little light. 'You can't improve your
mind by reading novels' is one of the stock
phrases of middle-class English Philistia. Ask
them if they improve their minds by looking at
pictures in the National Gallery, or even at the
Academy, and they know it is essential that they
should answer, 'Certainly.' Ask them how they
do it, and they are 'done.' Of course, they don't
really improve their minds either way, because,
before the contemplation of art in any form can
be anything more than a vague amusement, a
very much higher standard of education than
they have reached is necessary; only they have
learnt to pretend about pictures. It's an odd
thing — or, perhaps, a natural one — that an au-
thor of the sort of book that they are impressed
by, a scientist, a brain-worker of any description,
literary or not, talks and thinks of a novelist
with respect, while these people themselves find
him beneath them."
There was a silence, in which both stared again
at the sea. His irritation subsiding, it occurred
to him that he might have expressed his opinions
less freely, considering that Philistia was Ins
wife's birthplace. He was beginning to excuse
himself, when she interrupted him.
"Don't let us discuss it any more, Humphrey,"
she said, in a grieved voice, "please! I am sorry
I said so much."
ee I was wrong," said Kent; "I have vexed
"No; I am not vexed," she replied, in a tone
that intimated she was only hurt.
"Cynthia, don't be angry! . . . Make it up!"
She turned instantly, with a touch of her hand,
and a quick, pleased smile ; and he set himself to
efface the effect of his ill-humour, with entirely
successful results. As they strolled back to the
hotel side by side, he felt her to be a long way
from him — there was even a sense of physical re-
moteness. Mentally, she did not seem so near as
in the days of their earliest acquaintance. He
caught himself wishing that he could debate a cer-
tain point in construction with Turquand, and
from that it was the merest step to perceiving that
Mentone would be jollier if Turquand were with
him instead. He was appalled to think that such
a fancy should have crossed his brain, and strove
guiltily to believe that it had not ; but once again
he felt spiritless and blank, and it was a labour
to maintain the necessary disguise. He observed
forlornly that Cynthia always appeared happiest
in their association when the ineptitude of it was
weighing most heavily upon himself.
Mrs. Kent placed few obstacles in the way of
her husband's industry, and installed in Leaming-
ton Road, Streatham, he began his novel, and
deleted, and destroyed, and rewrote, until at the
expiration of three weeks he had accomplished
Chapter I. Primarily he did not experience so
many domestic discomforts to impede him as
Turquand had predicted. Mrs. Walford had
obtained a very respectable and nice-looking
servant, whose only drawback was a father in a
lunatic asylum and the frequently expressed
fear that if she were given too much to do she
might go out of her mind on the premises. Ann
was so "superior," and a "general" had really
proved so difficult to get, that the thought of an
hereditary taint had not been allowed to dis-
qualify her. Cynthia confessed to finding it a
little awkward when a duty was neglected, but
apart from this Arm was an acquisition.
The author's working hours were supposed
to be from ten o'clock till seven, with an interval
for luncheon, but the irregular habits of bachelor*
hood made it hard for him to accustom himself
to them, and it was often agreed that he should
take his leisure in the afternoon, and reseat him-
self at his desk in the alluring hours of lamplight,
when the neighbours' children were at rest and
scales ceased from troubling. To these neigh-
bours he found that he was an object of consider-
able curiosity. He had not lived in a suburb
hitherto, and he discovered that for a man to
remain at home all day offered much food for
conjecture there. Subsequently, in some inex-
plicable manner, his vocation was ascertained,
and then, when Cynthia and he went out, people
whispered behind their window-curtains and
Of his wife's family he saw a good deal, both
at The Hawthorns and at No. 64, Leamington
Road, and his liking for his brother-in-law did
not increase. There was an air of condescension
in Mr. Csesar Walford's self-sufficiency that he
found highly exasperating. The bass's debut
had been fixed, during their absence, for the
coming season, and he repeated the newest
compliments paid to him by his master with the
languid assurance of an artist whose supremacy
was already acknowledged by the world. The
latest burst of admiration into which Pincocca
had been betrayed had always to be dragged by
his parents from reluctant lips, but he never
forgot any of it.
Humphrey was sure that the artist thought
\ even less of him than the neighbours did. Fiction
he rarely read, he said. He said it with an eieva-
I tion of his eyebrows, as if novels were fathoms
beneath his attention. His eyebrows were, in
fact, singularly expressive, and he could dismiss
an author's claim to consideration, or ridicule
a masterpiece, without uttering a word. There
had been more truth than is usual in such state-
ments when Humphrey said that he was not
conceited on the score of his unprofitable spurs,
but when he contemplated the complacent sneer
by which this affected young man pronounced
a novelist of reputation to be entirely fatuous,
he was galled.
Cynthia had told her mother how hard he was
working, and once, when they were spending an
evening at The Hawthorns some weeks after
their return, his industry was mentioned.
"Well," exclaimed the stock-jobber tolerantly,
"and how's the story? — getting along, heh?"
"Yes," said Kent, "I'm plodding on with it
fairly well, sir."
He was aware that his father-in-law did not
view fiction seriously, either, and he always felt
a certain restraint in speaking of his profession
"And what's it about?" asked Mrs. Walford,
in the indulgent tone in which she might have
put such a question to a child. "Have you made
Cynthia your lovely heroine, and are you flirting
with her at Dieppe again? I know what it'll be
— hee, hee, hee! I'm sure you meant yourself by
the hero in your last book; you know I told you
that long ago!"
He knew also that she would tell him that,
just as mistakenly, about the hero of every book
"N-no," he said, "I shouldn't quite care to try
to make 'copy' out of my wife. It wouldn't be
easy, and it wouldn't be congenial."
"You ought to know her faults better than any-
body else, I should think, by this time," said Miss
"And her virtues," said Humphrey.
"Oh," said Miss Wix, with acidulated humour,
"he says two months are quite long enough to
find out all Cynthia's virtues, Louisa!"
"I didn't hear him say anything of the sort,"
said Mrs. Walford crossly. "Well, what is it
about? Tell us!"
He felt awkward and embarrassed.
"I can't explain a plot; I'm very stupid at
it," he said. "You shall have a copy the moment
it is published, mater, and read the thing."
"I do wish he'd call me 'mamma'!" she cried.
"He makes me feel a hundred years old."
To change the subject, he inquired if she had
read Henry James's new book.
"I don't know," she said. "Oh yes, they sent
it me from the library this week. It isn't bad;
I didn't like it much. Did you read it, Caesar?"
Caesar became conscious that people talked.
"Read?" he echoed wearily. "Read what?"
"Henry James's last. I forget what it was
called Something. I saw you with it the
other day. A red book."
"I looked through it. I had nothing to do."
"Quite amusing?" she said. "Wasn't it?"
"I forget," he murmured; "I never do re-
member these things."
"It took a clever man some time to write,"
said Kent; "it might have been worth your at-
tention for a whole afternoon."
Caesar was not disturbed. Neither his confi-
dence nor his amiability was shaken.
"Do you think so?" he said with gentleness.
"I cant read these things any more. There's
nothing to be gained. What does one acquire?
Whether Angelina marries Edwin, or whether
she marries Charles !" He shook his head
and smiled compassionately. Sam Walford
guffawed. "When I feel that my mind's been
at too great a tension, I sometimes glance at a
novel; but I'm afraid — I'm really afraid — I can't
concede that I should be justified in giving up an
afternoon to one."
"Caesar has his work to think of, you know,"
put in Cynthia; "he's not like us women."
"You'll find it a tough job to get the best of
Caesar in an argument," proclaimed Walford
"Oh, I don't deny that I have read novels in
my time. There was a time w T hen I could read a
yellow-back." He made this admission in the
evident belief that a book was more frivolous in
cardboard covers than in the cloth of its first
edition. "But I can't do it to-day."
"Well," cried Mrs. Walford, "I must say I
agree with Humphrey; I must say I think it's
very clever to write a good novel — I do really!
J couldn't write one; I'm sure I couldn't — I
haven't the patience."
"Oh!" exclaimed Caesar, with charming con-
fusion; "it's Humphrey's own line — of course it
is! I always forget." He turned to Kent de-
precatingly: "You know, I never associate you
w r ith it; it's a surprise every time I remember."
Kent said it was really of no consequence at
"Well, well, well," said Walford, "everybody
to his trade ! We can't all be born with a fortune
in our throats. Wish we could — eh, Humphrey,
my boy? Did you hear what Lassalle said about
his voice the other day? Caesar, just tell Hum-
phrey what Lassalle said about your voice the
"Oh, Humphrey doesn't want to listen to that
long story," said Mrs. Walford, "I'm sure?"
He could do no less, after this, than express
"Well, then, Cassar, tell us what it was."
"Do, Csesar," begged his sister; "I haven't
"A trifle," he demurred, "not interesting. I
didn't know I'd mentioned it."
"Oh yes," said Miss Wix. "Don't you remem-
ber you told us the story at tea, and then you
told it again to your father at dinner? Eut do
tell Cynthia and Humphrey!"
"I — er — dined with Pincocca last night at his
rooms," he drawled. "One or two men came in
afterwards. He introduced me. I didn't pay
much attention to the names — you know what it
is — and by-and-by Pincocca pressed me to sing.
He said I was 'a pupil,' and I could see that one
of the men was prepared to be bored. ... This
really is so very personal that "
"No, no, no! go on. What nonsense!" said
"I could see he was prepared to be bored; so I
made up my mind to — sing! I was nettled —
very childish, I admit it — but I was nettled. I
didn't watch him while I sang — I couldn't. I
did better than I expected. I "
"You forgot everything" cried Sam Walford,
"I did, yes. I didn't think of Pincocca, or of
him, or of anybody in the room. When I had
finished, he came up to me, and said, 'Mr. Wal-
ford, I am green with jealousy. All, Heaven!
if I could command such a career !' The man was
"Flattering ?" shouted his father to Kent.
"Flattering? 'If I could command such a ca-
Kent asked himself speechlessly if this thing
"'If I could command such a career!'" de-
claimed Mi*. Walford. "What do you think of
that? He's coming out in the spring, you know."
"Yes, so I've heard," said Humphrey.
"That's not settled; here in town, I expect, at
Covent Garden. He sang to the manager last
week. The man was — was staggered."
"Ha!" said Kent perfunctorily.
"There's never been anything heard like it. I
tell you, he'll take London by storm."
"What I can't understand," said Miss Wix,
her mouth pursed to a buttonhole, "is how it was
you didn't know Lassalle directly he came in. Is
he the only musical celebrity you aren't intimate
Her nephew looked momentarily disconcerted.
"One doesn't know everybody," he said feebly;
"Lassalle happened to be a man I hadn't met."
"What do you mean, Emily?" flared Mrs.
Waif or d. "You don't imagine that Csssar made
the story up, I suppose?"
"'Mean'?" said Miss Wix with wonder.
"*Make it up'? Why should he make it up?
I said I 'didn't understand/ that is all. Quite a
She rose, and seated herself stiffly on a distant
couch. Mrs. Walford panted, and turned to
Humphrey, who she was afraid had overheard.
"How very absurd," she said jerkily — "how
very absurd of her to make such a remark I So
liable to misconstruction. By the way, do you
see anything of that Mr. Turkey — Turquand — \
what was he called? — now? Has he — er — er — ■
any influence with the Press?"
"He knows a good many people of a kind.
"We shall be very pleased to see him," she
said; "I liked him very much. He might dine
with us one night, when there's nobody particular
here. ... I was thinking he might be useful to
Caesar. The Press can be so spiteful, can't it —
so very spiteful? Of course, Caesar will really be
independent of criticism, but still "
"Still, you'll give Turquand a dinner."
"Oh, you satirical villain!" she said playfully.
"Hee, hee, hee! You're all alike, you writing
men; you'll even lash your mamma-in-law.
Aren't you going to have anything to drink?
Sam, Humphrey has nothing to drink. Cynthia,
a glass of wine?"
The servant had entered with a salver and the
tantalus, and Sam Walford proposed the toast
of his son's debut. They prepared to drink it,
and it was noticed then that Miss Wix sat alone
in her distant corner.
"Emily, aren't you going to join us?"
"I beg your pardon, Emily," exclaimed Wal-
ford; "I didn't know you were with us, upon
my word I didn't!"
" 'The poor are always with us,' " said Miss
Wix, in a low and bitter voice. "If it can be
spared, a drop of whisky."
"Then, you'll tell Mr. Turquand we shall be
happy to see him?" said Mrs. Walford to Kent.
"Don't forget it. You might bring him in with
you one evening. I dare say he'll be very glad
of the invitation — and he can hear Caesar sing.
What's your hurry? I want to talk to Cynthia.
You aren't going to write any more when you
get back, I suppose?"
He acknowledged that he was- — that he had
taken his wife to a matinee on that understanding
— but it was past twelve when they left her
mother's house and turned homeward through the
silent suburb. The railway had just yielded back
a few theatre-goers, weary and incongruous-
looking. In the cold clearness of the winter night
the women's long-cloaked figures and flimsy
head-gear drooped dejectedly, and the men, with
their dress-trousers flapping thinly as they
walked, appeared already oppressed by the
thought of the early breakfast to which they
would be summoned in time to hurry to the sta-
tion again. The prosperous residences lying
back behind spruce, trim shrubberies and curves
of carriage-drive finished abruptly, and then be-
gan borders in which fifty pounds was already a
distinguished rental. The monotonous rows of
villas, with their little hackneyed gables, and
their little hackneyed gates, their painful gran-
diloquence of nomenclature, seemed to Kent a
pathetic expression of lives which had for the
most part reached the limit of their potentialities
and were now passed without ambition and
without hope. Some doubtless looked forward
or looked back from the red brick maze, but to
the majority the race was run, and this was con-
quest. He was about to comment on it, but the
girl was unusually quiet, and the remark on his
lips was not one that would have been productive
of more than a monosyllabic assent in any cir-
Their front-garden slept. He unlocked the
door, and, saying that she was very tired, Cynthia
held up her face immediately and went upstairs.
After he had extinguished the gas, Kent mounted
to the little room where he worked, and lit the
lamp. Beyond the window, over the bare trees,
the moon was shining whitely. He stood for a
few moments staring out, and thinking he scarce-
ly knew of what; then he began to re-read the last
page of the manuscript that lay on the desk.
He had just begun to write, when Cynthia stole
in and joined him.
"Are you busy?" she asked.
"No, dearest," he said, surprised. "What is
She came forward, and hung beside him, fin-
gering the pen that he had laid down. She had
put on her dressing-gown, and her hair was loose.
She was very lovely, very youthful so ; she looked
like a child playing at being a woman. The
sleeves fell away, giving a glimpse of the delicate
forearms, and he thought the softness of the neck
she displayed seemed made for a parent's kisses.
"How cold it is!" she murmured; "don't you
"You shouldn't have come in," he said ; "you'll
take a chill. You'd be better off in bed, Baby."
She shook her head.
"I want to stop."
"Then, let me get you a rug and wrap you
up." He rose, but she stayed him petulantly.
"I don't want you to go away; I want to speak
to you. . . . Humphrey "
"Is anything the matter?"
"I've something to tell you." She pricked the
paper nervously with the nib. "Something . . .
can't you guess what it is, Humphrey ? Think —
it's about me"
A tear splashed on to the paper between them.
Kent's heart gave one loud throb of comprehen-
sion and then yearned over her with the truest
emotion that she had wakened in him yet, He
caught her close and caressed her, while she
clung to him sobbing spasmodically.
"Oh, you do love me? You do love me, don't
you?" she gasped. "I'm not a disappointment,
She slipped on to the hassock at his feet, rest-
ing her head on his leg. With the tumbled fair-
ness of her hair across his trouser as she crouched
there, she looked more like a child than ever, a
penitent child begging forgiveness for some fault.
He swore that she had fulfilled and exceeded his
most ardent dreams, that she was sweeter in real-
ity than his imagination had promised him; and
he pitied her vehemently and remorsefully as he
spoke, because in such a moment she was an-
swered by a lie. The lamp, which the servant had ,
neglected, flickered and expired, and on a sudden
the room, and the two bent figures before the desk
were lit only by the pallor of the moon. Cynthia
turned, and looked up in his face deprecatingly:
"Oh, I'm so sorry; I meant to remind her.
I'm punished — I'm left in the dark myself!"
He stooped and kissed her. The fondness that
he felt for her normally, intensified by compas-
sion, assumed in this ephemeral circumscription
of idea the quality of love, and he rejoiced to
think that, after all, he was deceived and that
their union was indeed, indeed, the mental com-
panionship to which he had looked forward. He
did not withdraw his lips ; her mouth lay beneath
them like a flower; and, his arms enclosing her,
she nestled to him voicelessly, pervaded by a deep
sense of restfulness and content. In a transient
ecstasy of illusive union their spirits met, and
life seemed to Kent divine.
As, chapter by chapter, the novel grew under
his hand, Kent saw, from the little back-window,
the snow disappear and the bare trees grow green,
until at last a fire was no longer necessary in the
room, and the waving fields that he overlooked
were yellow with buttercups.
He rose at six now, and did about three hours*
work before Cynthia went down. Then they
breakfasted, and, with an effort to throw some
interest into her voice, she would inquire how
he had been getting on. He probably felt that
he had not been "getting on" at all, and his
response was not encouraging. After breakfast
he would make an attempt to read the newspaper,
with his thoughts wandering back to his manu-
script, and Cynthia would have an interview
with Ann. This interview, ostensibly concluded
before he went back to his desk, was generally
reopened as soon as he took his seat, and for
some unexplained reason the sequel usually
occurred on the stairs. "Oh, what from the
grocer's, ma'am?" "So and so, and so forth."
"Yes, ma'am." "Oh, and— Ann!" "What do
you say, ma'am?" More instructions, inter-
rupted hy a prolonged hanging at the trades-
man's door, and the girl's rush to open it. "What
is it, Ann?" "The fishmonger, ma'am." "No-
thing this morning." "Nothing this morning,"
echoed by Ann; the boy's departing whistle.
"Ann!" "Yes, ma'am?" "Ask him how much a
pound the salmon is to-day." "Hi! how much a
pound's the salmon?" Meanwhile, Kent beat
his fists on the desk, and swore. Once he had
pitched his pen at the wall in a frenzy, and dashed
on to the landing to remonstrate ; but he had felt
such a brute when Cynthia cried and declared
that he had insulted her before the servant, and
it had wasted so much of his morning kissing her
into serenity again, that he decided it would
hinder him less on the whole to bear the nuisance
The ink-splashes on the wall-paper testified to
his having raged in private on more than the one
occasion, however, and the superior Ann's feet
appeared to him to grow heavier every week.
The domestic machinery w r as in his ears from
morning till nightfall — from the time that she
began to bang about the house for cleaning pur-
poses to the hour that he heard her rattle the last
of the dinner things in the scullery and go to bed.
It seemed to him often that it could not take much
longer to wash the plates and dishes of a Lord
Mayor's banquet than Ann took to wash those of
his and Cynthia's simple meals, and when, like
the report of a cannon, the oven-door slammed,
he yearned for his late lodging in Soho as for a
And this wasn't all. His wife was less com-
panionable to him daily. Fifty times he had
registered a mental oath that he would abandon
his hope of cultivating her and resign himself to
her remaining what she was; but he had too
much affection for her to succeed in doing it yet,
and with every fresh endeavour and failure that
he made his dissatisfaction was intensified. He
burned to talk about his work, about other men's
work, to speak of his ambitions, to laugh with
someone over a witty article; instead, their con-
versation was of Caesar, whose debut had been
postponed till the autumn; of the engagement
of Dolly Brown, whom he did not know, to young
Styles, of Norwood, whom he had not met; of
the laundress, who had formerly charged four-
pence for a blouse, and who now asked fivepence.
When he pretended to be entertained, she spoke
of such things with animation. When he dropped
the mask, her manner was as dull as her topics,
for she was as sensitive as she was uninteresting.
Her wistful question, whether she had proved a
disappointment, recurred to him frequently, and
to avoid wounding her he affected good spirits
more often than he yawned. But the strain was
awful; and when he escaped from it at last and
sank into a chair alone, it was with the sense of
exhaustion that one feels after having been sad-
dled for an afternoon with a too talkative child.
The oases in his desert were Turquand's visits;
but Turquand never came without a definite in-
vitation. Streatham was a long distance from
Soho, and there was always the risk of finding
that they had gone to the Walfords'. Besides,
it was necessary to book to Streatham Hill, from
the West End, and the service was appalling,
with the delays at the stations and the stoppages
between them, especially on the return journey,
when the train staggered to a standstill at almost
every hundred yards.
One evening when he dined with them, Hum-
phrey gave him some sheets of his manuscript to
read. He did not expect eulogies from Tur-
quand, but he would rather have had to listen to
intelligent disapproval than refrain from dis-
cussing the book any longer, and when the other
praised the work he was delighted.
"You really think it good?" he asked. "Better
than the last? You don't think they'll say I
haven't fulfilled its promise? Honest Injun,
"Seems very strong," said Turquand, sucking
his pipe. "No, I don't think you need tremble,
if these pages aren't the top strawberries. Rather
Meredithian, that line about her eyes in the pause,
isn't it? You remember the one I mean, of
Kent laughed gaily.
"It came like that," he said. "Fact! Does it
look like a deliberate imitation? Would you
alter it? Oh, I say, talking of lines, I'm ill with
envy. 'Occasionally a girl, kissed from behind
as she stretched to reach a honeysuckle, rent with
a scream the sickly-coloured, airless evening.'
The 'sickly-coloured, airless evening.' Isn't it
great? What do you think of that for atmos-
phere? And he's got it with the two adjectives.
But the 'honeysuckle' — the 'honeysuckle' with
that 'sickly-coloured, airless' — you can smell it!"
"Moore's. I opened the book the other day,
and it was the first thing I saw. I had been ham-
mering at a lane and summer evening paragraph
myself, and when I read that, I knew there wasn't
an impression in all my two hundred words."
"You shouldn't let him read, Mrs. Kent, while
he has work on the stocks," said the journalist.
"I know this phase in him of old."
"Yes, and you used to be very rude," put in
Kent perfunctorily. "My wife isn't! I can be
depressed now without being abused."
Cynthia laughed. She was very pretty where
she lay back in the rocker by the window. Her
face was a trifle drawn now, but she looked girlish
and graceful still. She looked a wife of whom
any man might be proud.
"You didn't mention it," she said; "I didn't
know. But I don't see anything wonderful
in what you quoted, I must say! Do you, Mr.
Turquand? I'm sure 'sickly-coloured, airless,
doesn't mean anything at all."
"It means a good deal to me/' said Kent.
"I'd give a fiver to have found that line."
"Cousins wouldn't give you any more for your
book if you had," said Turquand. "Put money
in thy purse ! I suppose you'll stick to Cousins?"
"Why not? Life's too short to find a publisher
who'll pay you what you think you're worth ; and
Cousins are affable. Affability covers a multi-
tude of sins, and there's a lot of compensation in
a compliment. Cousins senior told me I had a
'great gift.' "
"Perhaps he was referring to his hundred
"He was referring to my talent, though I says
it as shouldn't. That was your turn, Cynthia!"
"Yes," said Turquand; "a wife's very valuable
at those moments, isn't she, Mrs. Kent?"
"How do you mean?" said Cynthia, who found
the conversational pace inconveniently rapid.
"I shall send it to Cousins," went on Hum-
phrey hastily; "and I want two hundred and
fifty this time."
"They won't give it you."
"Partly because you'll accept less. And you
haven't gone into a second edition, remember."
"Look at the reviews!"
"Cousins's will look at the sale. The thing
will have to be precious good for you to get as
much as that!"
"It will be precious good," said Kent seriously.
"I'm doing all I know! You shall wade right
through it when it's finished, if you will, and tell
me your honest opinion. I won't say it's going
to 'live' or any rot like that; but it's the best
work it is in me to do, and it will be an advance
on the other, that I'll swear."
"Mrs. St. Julian's last goes into a fourth edi-
tion next week," observed Turquand grimly, "if
that's any encouragement to you."
"Good Lord," said Kent, "it only came out in
January! Is that a fact?"
"One of 'Life's Little Ironies'! Hers is the
kind of stuff to sell, my boy ! The largest public
don't want nature and style; they want an im-
probable story and virtue rewarded. The poor
'companion' rambles in the moonlight and a be-
coming dress, and has love passages in the
grounds at midnight — which wouldn't be respect-
able, only she's so innocent. The heiress sighs
for a title and an establishment in Park Lane;
and the poor 'companion' says, 'Give me a
cottage, with the man I love,' making eyes at
the biggest catch in the room, no doubt, though
the writer doesn't tell you that — and hooks him.
Blessed is the 'companion' whose situation is in a
story by Mrs. St. Julian, for she shall be called
the wife of the lord. Sonny, the first mission of
a novel is to be a pecuniary success — you are an
ass! Excuse me, Mrs. Kent."
"You may give him all the good advice you
can. I've said before that I like Mrs. St. Julian's
stories, but Humphrey has made up his mind not
to. That's firmness, I suppose, as he is a man!"
"Turk didn't imply that he liked them either.
Isn't it painful, though, to think of the follow-
ing a woman like that can command? What a
world to write for — it breaks one's heart!"
"It's an over-rated place,'' said Turquand;
"it's a fat-headed, misguided, beast of a world!"
"It isn't the world," said Cynthia brightly;
"it's the people in it!"
A ghastly silence followed her comment, a
pause in which the journalist stared at the stove
ornament, affecting not to have heard her, and
Kent felt the sickness of death in his soul. Shame
that his wife should say such a stupid thing in
Turquand's presence paralysed his tongue; and
Turquand, pitying his embarrassment, turned
to the girl with an inquiry about her relatives.
Humphrey had taken him to The Hawthorns,
as requested, and Turquand, with characteristic
perversity, had professed to discover a congenial
spirit in Miss Wix. It was about Miss Wix that
he asked now.
Cynthia laughed again.
"Yes, your favourite is quite well," she an-
swered — "as cheerful as ever."
"Fate hasn't been kind to Miss Wix," said
Turquand; "she's been chastened and chidden
too much. In other circumstances "
"Skittles!" said Humphrey.
"In other circumstances, she might have been
sweeter, and less amusing. Personally, I am
grateful that there were not other circumstances.
I like Miss Wix as she is ; she refreshes me."
"I wish she had that effect on me" said Kent,
as the guest rose to go and he reflected gloomily
that he would hear nothing refreshing until the
next time they met. He begged him to remain
a little longer. And, when Turquand withstood
his persuasions, he insisted on accompanying
him to the station, and parted from him on the
platform with almost sentimental regret.
Only his interest in his book sustained him.
He was deep enough in it for it to have a fascina-
tion for him now, and, though there were still
days when he did not produce more than a single
page, there were others on which composition
was spontaneous and delightful, and happy
sentences seemed to fall off his pen of their own
accord. He wrote under difficulties when the
summer came, for Cynthia required more and
more attention; but while he often devoted a
whole morning or afternoon to her, he made up
for it by working on the novel half the night.
More than once he worked on it all night, and
after a bath and a shave he joined her at break-
fast on very good terms with himself. To sup-
port the sprightliness, however, he needed to
breakfast with someone to whom he could report
his progress, and cry, "I've come to such a point,"
or, "That difficulty that we foresaw, you know,
is overcome — a grand idea!" His exhilaration
speedily evaporated at breakfast, and, if he
returned to his room an hour later, he did so
feeling far less fresh than when he had left it.
Yes, Cynthia demanded many attentions
through the summer months; she was petulant,
capricious, and dissolved into tears at the smallest
provocation. There was much for Kent to con-
sider besides the novel. Also there were anticipa-
tions in which they momentarily united and he
felt her to be as close to him as she was dear.
But these moments could not make a life; and
despite the fact that the time when they expected
their baby to be born was rapidly approaching,
he was living more and more within himself.
Cynthia had no complaint to make against him;
if marriage was not altogether the elysium that
she had imagined it would prove, she did not
hold that to be Humphrey's fault. She found
him, if eccentric, tender and considerate. But
he was bored and weary. His feeling for her
was the affection of a man for a child, tinged more
or less consciously by compassion, since he knew
that she would sob her heart out if she suspected
how tedious she appeared to him. Though she
would have been a happier woman with a differ-
ent man, the cost of the mistake that they had
made was far more heavy to him than to her. He
(realised what a mistake it had been, while she
was ignorant of it. And of this, at least, he was
She was very ill after her confinement, and
for several weeks it was doubtful if she would re-
cover. The boy throve, but the mother seemed to
be sinking. The local doctor came three times a
day, and a physician was called in, and then
other consultations were held between the physi-
cian and a specialist, and it appeared to Kent
that he was never remembered by Mrs. Walford,
or the nurse, during this period, excepting when
he was required to write a cheque. "You shall
see her for a moment by-and-by," one or the
other of them would say; "she is to be kept
very quiet this afternoon. Yes, yes, now you're
not to worry; go and work, and you shall be sent
for later on !" Then he would wander round the
neglected little sitting-room, and note drearily,
and without its striking him that he might at-
tend to them, that the ferns in the dusty majolica
pots were dying for want of water — or he would
sit down and write, by a dogged effort, at the
rate of a word a minute, asking himself anxious-
ly what sum it was safe to expect from Messrs.
Cousins. His banking account was diminishing
rapidly under the demands made upon it now,
and he found it almost as hard to write a chapter
of a novel as if he had never attempted to do such
a thing before. He returned thanks to Heaven
that he was not a journalist, to whom the neces-
sity for covering a certain number of pages by
a stated hour daily v/as unavoidable; but he
wished himself a mechanic or a petty tradesman,
whose vocations, he presumed, were independent
of their moods.
It was not till the crisis was past and Cynthia
was downstairs again, in a wrapper on the sofa,
that he began to feel that he was within measur-
able distance of the conclusion. The nine months
that he had allotted to the task had long gone by,
but that it would have taken him a year did not
trouble him, for he knew the work to be good.
He told her so one afternoon when they were
alone together again, she with her couch drawn
to the fire, and he sitting at the edge, holding
"I'm satisfied," he declared. "When I say
'satisfied,' you know what I mean, of course?
It's as well done as I expected to do it. Another
week '11 see it finished, darling."
She patted his arm.
"Poor old boy! it hasn't been a happy time for
him either, has it?"
"I've known j oilier. But you're all right again
now, thank God! and I'm going to pack you
off to Bournemouth or somewhere soon, to bring
your colour back. I was speaking to Dr. Roberts
about it this morning. He says it's just what
"I've been very expensive, Humphrey," she
said wistfully. "How much? We didn't think
it would cost so much as it has, did we? You
should have married a big, strong woman,
Humphrey, or "
"Or nobody," she murmured.
The eyes that she bent upon the fire glittered.
He squeezed her hand, and laughed constrain-
"I'm quite content, thank you," he said, in as
light a tone as he could manage. "What are you
crying for? Nurse will look daggers at me and
think I've been bullying you. Tell me — was she
kind to you? I've been haunted by the idea thajb
she was treating you badly and you were too
frightened of her to let anyone know. You're
such a kid, little woman, in some things — such
an awful kid."
"Not such a kid as you imagine," she said.
"I've been thinking; I've thought of many things
since Baby was born. Often when they believed
I was asleep, I used to lie and think and think,
till I was wretched."
"What did you think of?" asked Kent indul-
"You mustn't be vexed with me if I tell you.
I've thought that, perhaps, although you don't
feel it yet — though you don't suppose you ever
mil feel it — it might have been best for you,
really and seriously best, if you had married no-
body, Humphrey — if you had had nothing to
interfere with your work, and had lived on with
Mr. Turquand just as you were. There, now
you are vexed! Bend down, and let me smooth
"What can have put such a stupid idea into
your head?" said Kent, wishing pityingly that
he had not felt it quite so often. "Don't be a
goose, sweetheart ! What nonsense ! I should be
lost without you."
"I think I suit you better than any other wom-
an would," she said, with pathetic confidence.
"But if you had kept single? That's what I've
wondered — if you wouldn't be better off without
a wife at all. Oh, you should hear some of the
stories Xurse has told me of places she has been
in! I didn't think there could be such awfulness
in the world. And in the first confinement, too!
It makes one afraid that no woman can ever ex-
pect to understand any man."
"Hang your nurse!" said Humphrey. "Cack-
ling old fool! I suppose in every situation she
is in she talks scandal about the last, and where
there wasn't any, she makes it up. When does
"She can't leave Baby until we get another,
you know. At least, I hope she won't have to."
"Another nurse. Mamma is going to advertise
in The Horning Post for us at once. We want a
thoroughly ^experienced woman, don't we, dear?;
We don't know anything about babies ourselves,
"Oh, rather! Poor little soul! we owe him
as much as that. Life is the cost of the parents'
pleasure defrayed by the child. We'll make the
world as desirable to him as we can."
He paused for her to comment on his im-
promptu definition of life, by which he was agree-
ably conscious he had said something brilliant;
but it passed by her unheeded. He reflected that
Turquand would either have approved it, or
picked it to pieces, and that for it to go unnoticed
She looked at him tenderly.
"I knew you'd say so. It doesn't really make
much difference to our expenses whether we
pay twenty pounds a year or twenty-five — and
to the kind of nurse we shall get it makes all the
difference on earth. What shall we call him?"
"Him! You're not going to get a man?"
"Baby, you silly! Have you thought of a
He was still wishing that she had a sense of
humour and occasionally made a witty remark.
"What?" he asked.
"Yours. I want to call him 'Humphrey/
What do you say to it?"
"What for? It's ugly. You said so the first
time you heard it. I think we might choose
something better than that."
"But it's yours," she persisted. "I want him
called by your name — I do, I do!" She held his
; hand tightly, and her lips trembled. "If ... if
I were ever to lose you, Humphrey, I should
like our child to have your name. Don't laugh
; at me, I can't help feeling that. That night when
• he was born — oh, that night ! shall I ever forget
! it? — and Dr. Roberts looked across at me and
said, 'Well, you have a little son come to see you,
Mrs. Kent,' the first thing I thought was, 'We
can call him "Humphrey." ' I wanted to say it
to you when they let you in, but I couldn't, I was
so tired; I thought it instead. When nurse
brought him over to me, or when he cried, or when
I saw him moving under the blanket in the bas-
sinet, I thought, 'There's my other Humphrey!' '
He kissed her, and sat staring at the fire, his
conscience clamorous. He had not realised that
he had grown so dear to her, and the discovery
made his own dissatisfaction crueller. He felt
a thankless brute, a beast. It seemed to him mo-
mentarily that the situation would be much less
painful if the disappointment were mutual — if
she, too, were discontented with the bargain she
had made. To listen to her speaking in such a
way, to accept her devotion, knowing how little
devotion she inspired in return, stabbed him. He
asked himself what he had done that she should
love him so fondly. He had not openly neglect-
ed her, but secretly he had done it often, and with
relief. Had she missed him when he had shut
himself in his room, not to write, but to wish that
he had never met her? His mind smote him.
The question obtruded itself during the follow-
ing days, but now at least his plea of being busy
was always genuine enough; he was writing
fiercely. The pile of manuscript to which he add-
ed sheet after sheet was heavy and thick. Then
there came a morning when he went to bed at
three, and rose again at eight, to begin his final
chapter, having told the servant to bring him a
sandwich and a glass of claret for luncheon.
When one o'clock struck, and she entered, to-
bacco had left him with no appetite and a furred
tongue. Ke threw a "thank you" at her, and
remained in the same bent attitude, his pen tra-
versing the paper steadily. Ke was working
with an exaltation which rarely seized him, the
exaltation with which the novelist is depicted
in fiction as working all the time. His aspect was
untidy enough for him to have served as an ad-
mirable model for that personage. He had not
shaved for three days, and a growth of stubbly
beard intensified the haggardness that came of
The wind w T as causing the fire to be more a
nuisance than a comfort, and every now and then
a gust of smoke shot out of the narrow stove,
obscuring the page before him, and making him
cough and swear. The atmosphere was villain-
ous, but, excepting in these moments, he was un-
conscious of it. He was near the closing lines.
His empty pipe was gripped between his teeth,
and he wanted to refill it, but he couldn't bring
himself to take his eyes from the paper while he
stretched for his pouch and the matches. He
meant to refill it the instant he had written the
last words, but now an access of uncertainty
assailed him and he could not decide upon them.
He stared at the paper without daring to set
a sentence down, and drew at the empty bowl
mechanically, his palate craving for the taste of
tobacco, while his sight was magnetised by the
pen's point hovering under his hand. He sat so
for a quarter of an hour. Then he wrote with
supreme satisfaction what he had thought of first
and rejected. His pen was dropped. Tie drew
a breath of relief and thanksgiving, and lit his
pipe. His novel was done.
Unlike the novelist in fiction again, he did not
mourn beautifully that the characters who had
peopled his solitude for twelve months, and whom
he loved, were about to leave him for the harsher
criticism of the world. He was profoundly glad
of it. He felt exhilaration leap in his jaded veins
as he picked up his pen and added "The End."
He felt that he was free of an enormous load, a
tremendous responsibility, of which he had
acquitted himself well. Almost every morning,
with rare exceptions, for a year he had, so to
speak, awakened with this unfinished novel star-
ing him in the face ; almost every night for a year
he had gone up the stairs to the bedroom re-
membering what a lump of writing had still to be
accomplished. And now it was done; and he
couldn't do it better. Blessed thought! If he
recast it chapter by chapter and phrase by phrase,
he could not handle the idea more carefully or
strongly than he had handled it in the bulky
package that lay in front of him — the story told I
He was eager to forward it to the publishers
without delay, but Turquand had so recently
referred to his expectation of reading it in the
manuscript that he sent it to Soho first. "Let me
have it back quickly," he begged; and the jour-
nalist's answer in returning the parcel reached
him on the next evening but one. He showed it
to Cynthia with delight; Turquand wrote very
warmly. The manuscript was submitted to
Messrs. Cousins with a note, requesting them to
give it their early consideration; and now Kent
was asked constantly by the Waif ords if they had
written yet, and what terms he had obtained.
Cynthia had not regained strength enough to
care to travel at present, and her parents and
brother generally spent the evening at No. 64,
where, truth to tell, Kent found their interest
rather a nuisance. His father-in-law evidently
held that it was derogatory for him to be kept
waiting a fortnight for his publishers' offer, and
Mrs. Walford made so many foolish inquiries
and ridiculous suggestions that he was sometimes
in danger of being rude. Caesar alone displayed
no curiosity in a matter so frivolous, but listened
with his superior air, which tried Kent's patience
even more. The fat young man's debut had
been postponed again. Now he was to appear
for certain in the spring, and he explained, in a
tone implying that he could, if he might, impart
esoteric facts, that the delay had been discreet.
"No outsider can have any idea," he said
languidly, "what wheels within wheels there
are in our world." He meant the operatic world,
into which he had still to squeeze a foot. "This
last season it would have been madness for a new
bass to sing in London; he was doomed before he
opened his mouth — doomed!" He looked at the
ceiling with a meditative smile, as if dwelling
upon curiously amusing circumstances. "Very
funny!" he added.
Excepting his master, he did not know a pro-
fessional singer in England, and, whenever a
benefit concert was to be given, he would chase
the organiser all over the town in hansoms,
and telegraph to him for an appointment "on
urgent business" in the hope of being allowed to
sing. But his assurance was so consummate that
— although one was aware he had not yet done
anything at all — he almost persuaded one while
he talked that he was the pivot round which the
musical world revolved. Caesar excepted, Kent
had really no grounds for complaint against the
Walfords. The others' quer.'es might worry him,
but their cordiality was extreme ; and they made
Cynthia relate Turquand's opinion of the book —
for which no title had been found — again and
again. Even the stock-jobber's view that a fort-
night's silence was surprising was due to an ex-
aggerated estimate of the author's importance,
and Mrs. Walford, when she refrained from giv-
ing him advice, appeared to think him a good deal
cleverer now that the manuscript was in Messrs.
Cousins' hands than she had done while it was
lying on his desk. Indeed, there were moments
at this stage when his mother-in-law gushed at
him with an ardour that reminded him of the
early days of his acquaintance with her in Dieppe.
"Well, have those publishers of yours made
you an offer yet?"
"No, sir; I haven't heard from them."
"You should drop them a line," said Walford
irritably. "Damn nonsense! How long have
they had the thing now?"
"About three weeks."
"Drop 'em a line ! They may keep you wait-
ing a month if you don't wake them up. Don't
you think so, Cynthia? He ought to write."
"Oh, I expect we shall have a letter in a day
or two, papa. We were afraid you weren't com-
ing round this evening; you're late. How d'ye
do, mamma? How d'ye do, Aunt Emily?"
"And how are you?" asked Mrs. Walford.
"Have you made up your mind about Bourne-
mouth yet? She is quite fit to go now, Hum-
phrey. You ought to pack her off at once;
there's nothing to wait for now you've got your
nurse. How does she suit you?"
"She seems all right," said Cynthia, rather
doubtfully. "A little consequential, perhaps — s
"Oh, you mustn't stand any airs and graces;
put her in her place at the start. What has she
"She hasn't done anything, only "
"She's our first," explained Kent, "and we're
rather in awe of her. She was surprised to find
that there weren't two nurseries — she is frequent-
ly 'surprised,' and then we apologise to her."
"Don't be so absurd!" murmured his wife; "he
does exaggerate so, mamma! No; but, of course,
she has always been in better situations, with
people richer than us. . . . 'Us'?" she repeated
questioningly, looking at Kent with a smile.
He laughed and shook his head.
"Than we, then! And she's the least bit in the
world too self-important."
"Than 'we'?" echoed Mrs. Walford. "Than
'we'? Nonsense! 'Than us 9 ?'
Kent pulled his moustache silently, and there
was a moment's pause.
"Than us!" said the lady again defiantly. "Un-
questionably it is 'than us 3 !"
"Very well," he replied; "I'm not arguing
about it, mater."
"1 always say 'than us,' " said Sam Walford
good-humouredly. "Ain't it right?"
"No," said Miss Wix; "of course it isn't,
"Ridiculous!" declared Mrs. Walford, with
asperity. " 'Than we' is quite wrong — quite un-
grainmatical. I don't care who says it isn't — I
say it is/'
"A literary man might have been supposed to
know," said Miss Wix ironically. "But Hum-
phrey is mistaken too, then?"
"What's the difference — what does it matter?"
put in Cynthia. "There's nothing^to get excited
"I'm not in the least excited," said her mother,
with a white face; "but I don't accept anybody's
contradiction on such a point. I'm not to be con-
vinced to the contrary when I'm sure I'm cor-
"Well, let's return to our muttons," said Kent.
"Once upon a time there was a nurse, and "
"Oh, you are very funny!" Mrs. Walford ex-
claimed. "Let me tell you, you don't know any-
thing about it. And as to Emily, I don't take
any notice of her at all. She may say what she
"What I like is decent English," said Miss
Wix, "since you don't mind. This lively conver-
sation must be very good for Cynthia. Hum-
phrey, you're quite a member of the family; you
see we're rude to one another in front of you.
Isn't it nice?"
"I shouldn't come to you to learn politeness,
either," retorted Mrs. Walford hotly. "I
shouldn't come to you to learn grammar, or po-
liteness either. You're most rude yourself — most
"That'll do— that'll do," said the stock-jobber;
"we don't want a row. Damn it! let everybody
say what they choose; it ain't a hanging matter,
I suppose, if they're wrong!"
"I'm not wrong, Sam. Humphrey, just tell
me this: Do you say 'than who' or 'than whom'?
"You say 'than whom,' but that's the one in-
stance where the comparative does govern the ob-
jective in English. And Angus, or Morell, or
somebody august, denies that it ought to govern
Momentarily she looked disconcerted. Then
"All I maintain is that 'than we' is very pe-
dantic in ordinary conversation — very pedantic
indeed; and I shall stick to my opinion if you
argue for ever. 'Than us' is much more usual,
and much more euphonious. I consider it's much
more euphonious than the other. I prefer it
Miss Wix gave a sharp little laugh.
"You may consider it more euphonious to say
'heggs' and 'happles,' too, but that doesn't make
Her sister turned to her wrathfully, and the
ensuing passage at arms was terminated by the
spinster putting her handkerchief to her eyes and
beginning to cry.
"I won't be spoken to so," she faltered — "I
won't ! Oh, I quite understand — I know what it
means; but this is the last time I'll be trampled
on and insulted — the last time, Sam!"
"Don't be a fool, Emily; nobody wants to
'trample' on you. You can give as good as you
get, too. What an infernal rumpus about noth-
ing! 'Pon my soul! I think you have both gone
"I'm in the way — yes! And I'm shown every
hour that I'm in the way!" she sobbed, in cre-
scendo. "Humphrey is a witness how I am treat-
ed. I won't stop where I'm not wanted. This
is the end of it. I'll go — I'll take a situation!"
Everybody excepting the offender en-
deavoured to pacify her. Cynthia put an arm
round her waist and spoke consolingly, while
Walford patted her on the back. Humphrey
brought her whisky-and-water, but she waved it
"I'll take a situation; I've made up my mind.
Thank Heaven! I'm not quite dependent on a
sister and a brother-in-law yet. Thank Heaven!
I've the health to work for my living. I'd rather
live in one room on a pound a week than remain
with you. I shall leave your house the moment
I can get something to do. I'll be a paid com-
panion — I'll go into a shop !" And she went into
When she recovered, she drank the whisky-and-
water tearfully, and begged Kent to take her
back to The Hawthorns. He complied amiably,
and tried on the way to dissuade her from her
determination. It was his first experience of this
phase of Hiss Wix, and he was a good deal sur-
prised by the valour that she displayed. Her
weakness had passed, and the light of resolution
shone in the little woman's eyes. Her nostrils
were dilated, her carriage was firm and erect. He
felt that it was no empty boast when she asserted
stoutly that she would go to a registry-office on
the morrow — nor was it; as much as that she
would probably do. But the prospect of employ-
ment was as the martyr's stake or an arena of
! lions, to her mind ; and, after the office had been
\ visited, the decision of her manner would decrease,
I and the heroism in her eyes subside, until at last
| she trembled in a cold perspiration lest her rela-
tives should take her at her word.
"It'll be a small household if you go," he said;
"I suppose Caesar won't live at home after he
comes out, and they will be left by themselves."
Miss Wix sniffed.
"When he comes out!"
"Yes; he seems to have been rather a long
while doing it. But there can't be any doubt
about it this time; the agreement for the spring
is signed, I hear."
They were passing a lamp-post. Miss Wix's
mouth was the size of a sixpence, and her eye-
brows had entirely disappeared under her bonnet.
"It always is," she said. "The agreements are
always signed — and written in invisible ink. I
don't seem to remember the time when that young
man wasn't coming out 'next spring,' and I knew
him in his cradle. He was an affected horror
Kent laughed to himself in walking home; he
had suspected the accuracy of the proud parents'
statements already, just as he had suspected,
when he had been invited to meet an operatic
celebrity at The Hawthorns, who it was that sent
the telegram of regrets and apologies that bore
the star's name. He wondered how much the
Walfords' foolishness and his pupil's vanity had
been worth to the Italian singing-master, who
gesticulated about the drawing-room and foretold
When he re-entered No. 64, he was relieved to
find the company cheerful again; they seemed
even to be in high spirits, and the cause was
promptly evident. Cynthia pointed radiantly to
a letter lying on the table.
"For you," she cried, "from Cousins! Be
quick; we're all dying of impatience. How did
you leave Aunt Emily?"
"She's going to bed," he said, tearing the en-
His heart had leapt, and he trusted only that
he wasn't destined to be damped by the suggested
price. The others sat regarding him eagerly,
waiting for him to speak. Cynthia tried to guess
the amount by his expression.
"Well?" said Mrs. Walford at last— "Well?
What do they say?"
Kent put the note down; all the colour had
gone from his face. His lips twitched, and his
voice was not under control as he answered.
"They haven't accepted it," he said; "they're
returning it to me. They don't think it good."
"What?" she ejaculated.
"Oh, Humphrey!" he heard Cynthia gasp;
and then there were seconds in which he was
conscious that everyone was staring at him, sec-
onds in which he would have paid heavily to be in
the room alone. That the book might be refused,
after such reviews as had been written of his last,
was a calamity that he had never contemplated,
and he was overwhelmed. When he had been
despondent he had imagined the publishers pro-
posing to pay a couple of hundred pounds for it;
when he had been gloomier still, he had fancied
that the sum would be a hundred and fifty; in
moments of profound depression he had even
groaned, "I shan't get a shilling more for it than
I did for the other one!" But to be rejected,
"declined with thanks," was a shock for which
he was wholly unprepared. It almost dazed him.
"What do you mean?" demanded Sam Wal-
ford, breaking the silence angrily. "Xot accept-
ing it? But — but — this is a fine sort of thing!
It takes you a year to write, and then they don't
accept it. A damn good business you're in, upon
my word !"
"Hush, Sam!" said Mrs. Walford. "What do
they say? what reason do they give? Let me
Kent handed the letter to her mutelv, his wife
watching him with startled, pitying eyes, and
she read it aloud:
" 'Dear Sir,
" 'We are obliged by the kind offer of
your IMS., to which our most careful considera-
tion has been given.' "
"Been better if they'd considered it a little
less!" grunted Walford.
" 'We regret to say, however, that, in view of
our reader's report, we are reluctantly forced to
decide that the construction of the story precludes
any hope of its succeeding. The faults seem in-
herent to the story, and irremediable, and we are
therefore returning the MS. to you to-day, with
our compliments and thanks.' "
"Ha, ha!" said Kent wildly; "they return it
with their compliments!"
"I don't see anything to laugh at!" said his
mother-in-law with temper; "I call it dreadful.
Anything but funny, I'm sure !"
"Do you think so?" he said. "I call it very
funny. There's a touch of humour about their
'compliments' that'd be hard to beat."
"Ah," said Walford, "your mother-in-law's
sense of humour isn't so keen and 'literary' as
yours. She only sees that your year's work 's
not worth a tinker's curse!"
"Papa!" murmured Cynthia, wincing.
Kent's mouth closed viciously.
"Against your judgment on such a matter,
sir/' he said, "of course there can be no appeal."
"It ain't my judgment," answered Walford;
"it's your own publishers'. It's no good putting
on the sarcastic, my boy. Here" — he caught up
the letter and slapped it — "here you've got the
opinion of a practical man, and he tells you the
thing's valueless. There's no getting away from
"And I say the thing's strong, sound work,"
exclaimed Kent, "and the reader's an ass! Oh,
w r hat's the use of arguing with you? You see it
rejected, and so to you it's rubbish; and when you
see it paid for, to you it will be very good ! I want
some whisky — has 'Aunt Emily' drunk it all?"
He helped himself liberally, and invited his fath-
er-in-law to follow his example. Walford shook
his head with a grunt. "You won't have a drink?
I will ! I want to return thanks for Messrs. Cous-
ins 5 compliments. It's very flattering to receive
compliments from one's publishers. I'm afraid
you none of you appreciate it so much as you
ought. We're having a ripping evening, aren't
we, with hysterics and rejections? And whisky's
good for both. Well, sir, what have you got to
"I think we'll say 'good-night,' " said Mrs.
Waif or d coldly; "I'll be round in the morning,
Cynthia. Come, Sam, it's past ten!"
She rose, and put on her things, Kent assisting
her. The stock-jobber took leave of him with
a scowl; and when the last "good-night" had
been exchanged, Cynthia and the unfortunate
author stood on the hearth vis-a-vis. The girl was
relieved that her parents were gone. The atmos-
phere had been electric and made her nervous of
what might happen next. She had been looking
forward, besides, to consoling him when the door
closed — to his lying in her arms under her kisses,
while she smoothed away his mortification. She
could enter into his mood to-night better than she
had entered into any of his moods yet, and she
ached with sorrow for him. To turn to his wife
on any matters connected with his work, however,
never entered his head any more; so when she
murmured deprecatingly, "Papa didn't mean
anything by what he said, darling; you mustn't
be vexed with him," all he replied was, "Oh, he
hasn't made an enemy for life, my dear! If
you're going up to your room now, I think I'll
take a stroll."
She said, "Do, and — and cheer up !" But her
heart sank miserably. He dropped a kiss on her
cheek with a response as feeble as her own, and
went out. A woman may have little comprehen-
sion of her husband's work, and yet feel the ten-
derest sympathies for the disappointments that
it brings him, but of this platitude the novelist
had shown himself ignorant.
Cynthia did not go up to her room at once.
She sat down by the dying fire and wondered.
She wondered — in the hour in which she had come
mentally nearest to him — if, after all, Hum-
phrey and she were united so closely as she had
She loved him. When they married, perhaps
neither had literally loved the other, but the girl
had roused much stronger feelings in the man
than the man had wakened in the girl. To-day
the position was reversed; and her perception
that he did not find her so companionable as she
had dreamed was the beginning of a struggle to
render herself a companion to him.
If she had been a woman of keener intuitions,
she must have perceived it long ago, but her in-
tuitions were not keen. She was not so dull as
he thought her, nor was she so dull as when she
married, but a woman of the most rapid intelli-
gence she would never be. Her heart was great-
er than her mind — much greater; her heart en-
titled her to a devotion that she was far from re-
ceiving. To her mind marriage had made a
trifling difference; her sensibilities it had devel-
oped enormously. Her husband overlooked her
sensibilities, and chafed at her mind. Fortunately
for her peace, her tardy perception of their rela-
tions did not embrace quite so much as that.
She stayed at Bournemouth for a fortnight,
and when she came home her efforts to acquire
the quickness that she lacked, to talk in the same
strain as Kent, to utter the kind of extravagance
which seemed to he his idea of wit, were laboured
and pathetic. Especially as he did not notice
them. She read the books that he admired, and
was bored by them more frequently than she was
moved. She attempted, in fact, to mould herself
upon him, and she attempted it with such scanty
encouragement, and with so little apparent result,
that, if her imitation had not become instinctive
by degrees, she would have been destined to re-
nounce it in despair.
He was not at this time the most agreeable
of models; he was too much humiliated and too
anxious. Though Mr. and Mrs. Walford were
superficially affable again, he felt a difference
that he could not define in their manner, and
was always uncomfortable in their presence. He
had called the book The Eye of the Beholder,
and he submitted it to Messrs. Percival and King.
But February waned without any communication
coming from the firm, and once more the Wal-
fords asked him almost every day if he had "any
news." His only prop now was Turquand, whom
he often went to town to see. Turquand had been
genuinely dismayed by Messrs. Cousins' refusal,
and it was by his advice that the author had
chosen Percival and King. Kent awaited their
verdict feverishly. Not only was his humiliation
bad to bear, but his financial position was begin-
ning to be serious, and the Walfords' knowledge
of the fact aggravated the unpleasantness of it.
Messrs. Percival sent the manuscript back at
the end of April. They did not offer any criti-
cism upon the work; they regretted merely that
in the present state of the book market they could
not undertake the publication of The Eye of the
Then the novelist packed it up again, and post-
ed it to Fendall and Green. Messrs. Fendall and
Green were longer in replying, and the fact of the
second rejection could not be withheld from the
Walfords. After they had heard of it, the change
in their manner towards him was more marked.
They obviously regarded him as a poor pretender
in literature, and her mother admitted as much
to Cynthia once.
"Well, mamma," said Cynthia valiantly, "I
don't see how you can speak like that! It's ter-
ribly unfortunate, and he's very worried, but you
know what Humphrey's reviews have been —
nothing can take away the success he has had/ 3
"Oh, "reviews'!" said Mrs. Walford, with im-
patience. "He mustn't talk to us about 'reviews' !
Of course all those were 'worked' for him by
Cousins. We are behind the scenes, we know
what such things are worth."
This conviction of hers, that his publishers had
paid a few pounds to the leading London papers
to praise him in their columns, was not to be
shaken. Cynthia did not repeat it to him, and
Kent did not divine it, but Miss Wix — who had
consented to remain at The Hawthorns — ap-
peared quite a lovable person to him now in com-
parison with his wife's mother. Of intention
Louisa did not snub him, the stock-jobber was
not rude to him deliberately, but both felt that
their girl had done badly indeed for herself, and
their very tones in addressing him w r ere new and
In secret they were passionately mortified on
another score. Their prodigy, the coming bass,
had once more failed to secure a debut, and at
last there was nothing for it but to admit that
the thought of a musical career must be aban-
doned. The circumstances surrounding this final
failure were veiled in mystery, even from Cyn-
thia, but the fact w T as sufficiently damning in it-
self. The wily Pincocca was paid fees no longer,
and Caesar took a trip to Berlin with a company-
promoter whom his father knew, and who did not
speak German, while his mother invented an ex-
It was trying for the Walfords, both their
swans turning out to be ganders at the same time,
and that one of them had been acquired, not
hatched, was more than they could forgive them-
selves, or him. There were occasions soon when
Kent was more than slighted, when no disguise
was made at all. One day in July, Waif ord said
"I tell you what it is, Humphrey, this can't
go on! You'll have to give your profession up
and look for a berth, my boy. How's your ac-
"Pretty low," confessed his son-in-law, feeling
like a lad rebuked for a misdemeanour.
Waif ord looked at him indignantly.
"Ha!" he said. "It's a nice position, 'pon
my word! And no news, I suppose — nothing
"You'll have to chuck it all. You'll have to
chuck this folly of yours, and put your shoulder
to the wheel and work."
"I thought I did work," said Kent doggedly.
"Do you think literature is a game?"
"I think it's an infernal rotten game — yes!"
"Ah, well, there," said Kent, "many literary
men have agreed with you."
"You'll have to put your mind to something
serious. If you only earn thirty bob a week, it's
more than your novels bring you in. What your
wife and child will do, God knows — have to come
to us, I suppose. A fine thing for a girl married
"She hasn't arrived at it yet," answered Kent,
very pale, "and I don't fancy she will. Many
thanks for the invitation."
Walford stopped short — they had met in the
High Road — and cocked his head, his legs apart.
"Will you take a berth in the City for a couple
of quid, if I can get you one?" he demanded
"No," said Kent, "I'll be damned if I will!
I'll stick to my pen, whatever happens, and I'll
stick to my wife and child, too I"
The other did not pursue the conversation, but
the next time that Humphrey saw Mrs. Walford
she told him that his father-in-law was very much
incensed against him for his ingratitude.
"It is sometimes advisable for a man to change
his business," she said. "A man goes into one
business, and if it doesn't pay he tries another.
Your father-in-law is much older than you, and
— er — naturally more experienced. I think you
ought to listen to his opinion with more respect.
Especially under the circumstances."
"Oh?" he murmured. "Have you said that
"No; it is not necessary to say it to anybody
but you. And it might make her unhappy. She
is troubled enough without!"
She had, as a matter of fact, said it to her with
much eloquence the previous afternoon.
"And another thing," she continued: "I am
bound to say I don't see any grounds for your
believing — er — er — that your profession has any
prizes in store for you, even if you could afford
to remain in it. You mustn't mind my speaking
plainly, Humphrey. You are a young man, and
— er — you have no one to advise you, and you
may thank me for it one day."
"Let me thank you now," he said, righting to
| conceal his rage.
"If you can," she said; "if you feel it, I am
very glad. You see what you have done: you
wrote a book, which you got very little for — some
nice reviews" — she smiled meaningly — "which
we needn't talk about. And then you spend a
year on another, which nobody wants. To suc-
ceed as a novelist, one must have a very strong
gift ; there is no doubt about it. A novelist must
be very brilliant to do any good to-day — very
brilliant. He wants — er — to know the world —
to know the world, and — er — oh, he must be very
polished — very smart !"
"I see," he said shakily, as she paused. "You
don't think I've the necessary qualifications?"
"You have aptitude," she said; "you have a
certain aptitude, of course, but to make it your
profession So many young men, who have
been educated, could write a novel. You happen
to have done it ; others haven't had the time. They
open a business, or go on the Stock Exchange, or
perhaps they haven't the patience. I'm afraid
your publishers did you a mistaken kindness by
those unfortunate reviews."
"How do you mean?" he asked. "Yes, the re-
viewers didn't agree with you, did they?"
She smiled again, and waved her hands ex-
"Oh, they were very pretty, very nice to have;
but — er — newspaper notices do not take us in.
Naturally, they were paid for. Cousins ar-
ranged with the papers for all that."
He looked at her open-mouthed, as the n?mes
of some of the papers recurred to him.
"With them all," she said. "Oh yes! You
must remember we are quite behind the scenes."
"Pincocca," he said musingly. "Yes, you knew
Pincocca. But he was a singing-master, and he
doesn't come here now."
"Oh, Pincocca was one of many — one of very
many." She giggled nervously. "How very ab-
surd that you should suppose I meant Pincocca!
You mustn't forget that Caesar knows everybody.
I'm almost glad he isn't going on the stage, for
that reason. He brought such crowds to the
house at one time that really we lived in a whirl.
I believe — between ourselves — that this man he
has gone to Berlin with is at the bottom of his
throwing up his career, if financier. A Mr.
JMcCullough. One of the greatest powers in the
City. And — er — Caesar was always wonderfully
shrewd in these things. Don't say anything, but
I believe McCullough wants to keep him !"
"I won't say anything," he said.
"JMcCullough controls millions!" she gasped.
"And your father-in-law thinks, from rumours
that are going about, that he's persuaded Caesar
to join him in some negotiations that he has
with the German Government. Of course we
mustn't breathe a word about it. Sh ! What were
we saying? Oh yes, I'm afraid those unfortunate
reviews did you more harm than good. Nothing
great in the City can be got for you, because you
haven't the commercial experience, but a clerk-
ship would be better than doing nothing. You
must really think about it, Humphrey, if you
can't do anything for yourself. As your father-
in-law says, you are sitting down with your hands
in your pockets, eating up your last few pounds."
It occurred to her that a clerkship might look
small beside the ease with which her son was se-
curing a partnership in millions. "Of course,"
she added, "Caisar always did have a head for
finance. And — er — he's a way with him. He
has aplomb — aplomb that makes him immensely
valuable for negotiations with a Government.
It's different for Caesar."
Kent left her, and cursed aloud. He went the
same evening to Turquand's, partly as a relief to
his feelings, and partly to ask his friend's opinion
of the feasibility of his obtaining journalistic
"For Heaven's sake, talk!" he exclaimed, as
he flung himself into the rickety chair that used
to be his own. "Say anything you like, but talk.
I've just had an hour and a half of my mother-
in-law neat! Take the taste out of my mouth.
Turk, I wish I were dead ! What the devil is to
be the end of it? The Walfords say 'a clerk-
ship'! Oh, my God, you should hear the Wal-
fords! I've 'a little aptitude,' but I mustn't be
conceited. I mustn't seriously call myself a
novelist. I've frivolled away a year on The Eye
of the Beholder, and Cousins squared the review-
ers for me on The Spectator and The Saturday
and the rest! Look here, I must get something
to do. Don't you know of anything, can't you
introduce me to an editor, isn't there anything
stirring at all ? I'm buried ; I live in a red-brick
tomb in Streatham; I hear nothing, and see no-
body, except my blasted parents-in-law. But
you're in the thick of it; you sniff the mud of
Fleet Street every day; you're the salaried sub of
a paper that's going to put a cover on itself and
'throw it in' at the penny; you "
"Yes," said Turquand, "I
* 'Ave flung my thousands gily ter the benefit of tride,
And gin'rally (they tells me) done the grand.'
It looks like it, doesn't it?"
"I know all about that! But surely you can
tell me of a chance? I don't say an opening,
but a chance of an opening. Man, the outlook's
awful. I shall be stony directly. You must !"
"Fendall and Green haven't written, eh?"
"No; their regrets haven't come yet. How
about short stories?"
"You didn't find 'em particularly lucrative,
"A guinea each; one in six months. No; but
I want to be invited to contribute: 'Can you
let us have anything this month, Mr. Kent?' '
"My dear chap! should I have stuck to The
Outpost all these years if I had such advice to
give away? I did" — he coughed, and spat out
an invisible shred of tobacco — "I did stick to it."
"You weren't going to say that! You were
going to say, 'I did advise you once, but you
"would marry!' Well, I don't complain that I
married. The only fault I have to find with my
wife is that she's the Walford's daughter. She's
not literary, but she's a very good girl. Don't
blink facts, Turk; my money would have lasted
longer if I hadn't married, but I shouldn't have
got my novel taken on that account. The point
of this situation is that, after being lauded to
the skies by every paper of importance in Eng-
land, I can't place the book I write next at any
price at all, nor find a way to earn bread and
cheese by my pen! If a musician had got such
criticisms on a composition, he'd be a made man.
If an artist had had them on a picture, the ball
would be at his feet. If an actor had got them
on a performance, he'd be offered engagements
at a hundred a week. It's only in literature that
such an anomalous and damnable condition of
affairs as mine is possible. You can't deny it."
"I don't," said Turquand.
Nor did the conference, which was protracted
until a late hour, provide an outlet to the dilem-
ma; it was agreeable, but it did not lead any-
where. If he should hear of anything, he would
certainly let the other know; that was the most
the sub-editor could say. Authors are not of-
fered salaries to write their novels, and Kent was
not a journalist by temperament, nor possessed
of any journalistic experience. As to tales or
articles for The Outpost, that paper did not pub-
lish fiction, and their rate for other matter was
seven and sixpence a column. However, some
attempt had to be made, and Kent went to town
every day, and Cynthia saw less of him than
when he had been writing The Eye of the Be-
holder. He hunted up his few acquaintances,
and haunted the literary club that he had joined
in the flush of his success. He applied for vari-
ous posts that were advertised vacant, and he in-
serted a skilfully-framed advertisement. No
answer arrived; and the tradesmen's bills, and
the poor rates, and the gas notices, and the very
competent nurse's wages, continued to fall due in
the meanwhile. When the competent nurse's
were not due, the incompetent "general's" were.
Dr. Roberts' account came in, and the sight of
his pass-book now terrified the young man.
They had not been married quite two years
yet, and he asked himself if they had been ex-
travagant, in view of this evidence of the rapidity
with which money had melted; but, excepting
the style in which they had furnished, he could
not perceive any cause for such self-reproach.
They had lived comfortably, of course, but if the
novel had been placed when it was finished, they
could have continued to live just as comfortably
while he wrote the next. He feared they would
have to take a bill of sale on the too expensive
furniture, and that way lay destitution. Cyn-
thia's composure in the circumstances surprised
him. Pie told her so.
"It'll all come right," she said. "You are sure
to get something soon, and perhaps Fendall and
Green will accept The Eye of the Beholder—
This was an improvement, for a few months
since she would have been unable to recollect
their name and have referred to them vaguely as
"the publishers." He felt the sense of intimacy
deepen as "Fendall and Green" dropped glibly
from her lips, and the "fulsomely" made him feel
quite warm towards her. s
"Have you told your people what a tight cor-
ner we're in?" he asked.
She shook her head.
"Why should I? That's our affair."
"So it is," he assented. "Poor little girl! it's
'orrible rough on you, though; I wonder you
aren't playing with straws. You didn't know
what economy meant when we married."
Praise from him was nectar and ambrosia to
her. She wanted to embrace him, but felt that if
she embraced the opportunity to give a happy
definition of "economy" it would be appreciated
better. She perched herself on the arm of his
chair, and struggled to evolve an epigram. As
she could not think of one, she said :
"I wish you had read the book, and liked it,"
said Kent, speaking spontaneously.
"Say you wish I'd read it?" replied his wife.
"Oh, you'd like it, because it was mine. But I
mean I wish "
"I don't know."
She twisted a piece of his hair round her dinger.
"My taste is much maturer than it was," she
averred, with satisfaction. "Somehow, I can't
stand the sort of things that used to please me;
I don't know how I was able to read them. They
bore me now."
He smiled. As she had often done to him be-
fore, she seemed a child masquerading in a wom-
"You're getting quite a critic!"
"Well," she said happily, "you'll laugh, but
I got A Peacock's Tail from the library, and
when the review in The Chronicle came out, the
reviewer said just what I'd felt about it. He
did! I'm not such a silly as you think, you see."
"My love!" he cried, "I never thought you
were a 'silly.' "
"Not very wise, though! Oh, I know what I
lack, Humphrey; but I am better than I was —
I am really ! Remember, I never heard literature
talked about until I met you ; it was all new to me
when we married, and — if you've noticed it — you
aren't very, very interested in anything else. The
longer we live together, the more — the nicer I
He answered lightly:
"You're nice enough now."
But he was touched.
After a long pause, as if uttering the conclu'
sion of a train of thought aloud, she murmured?
"Baby's got your shaped head."
"I hope to God it'll be worth more to him than
mine to me !" he exclaimed.
She was silent again.
"What are you so serious for, all of a sudden?"
he said, looking round.
Cynthia bent over him quickly with a caress,
and sprang up.
"It was you who wanted the t's crossed for
once!" she said tremulously. "There, now I
must go and knock at the nursery door and ask
if I'm allowed to go in!"
The man of acute perceptions wondered what
she meant, and in what way he had shown
himself dull at comprehending so transparent a
It was in October, when less than twenty
pounds remained to them, that something at last
turned up. Turquand had learnt that an assist-
ant-editor was required on The World and Ids
Wife, a weekly journal recently started for the
benefit of the English and Americans in Paris.
The Editor was familiarly known as "Billy"
Beaufort, and the proprietor was a sporting baro-
net who had reduced his income from fourteen
thousand per annum to eight by financing, and
providing with the diamonds, which were the
brightest feature of her performance, a lady who
fancied that she was an actress. Beaufort had
been the one dramatic critic who did not imply-
that she was painful, and it was Beaufort who had
latterly assured the Baronet that The World and
his Wife would realise a fortune. Pie had gone
about London for thirteen years assuring people
that various enterprises would realise a fortune
— that was his business — but the Baronet was
one of the few persons who had believed him.
Then Billy Beaufort took his watch, and his
scarf-pin, and his sleeve-links away from Atten-
borough's — when in funds he could always pawn
himself for a considerable amount — and turned
up again resplendent at the club, whose secretary
had been writing him sharp letters on the subject
of his subscription. The only alloy to his com-
placence, though it did not diminish it to any ap-
preciable degree, was that he was scarcely more
qualified to edit a paper than was a landsman to
navigate a ship. He described himself as a jour-
nalist, and the description was probably as ac-
curate as any other he could have furnished of a
definite order; but he was a journalist whose at-
tainments were limited to puffing a prospectus
and serving up a rechauffe from Truth. Never
attached to a paper for longer than two or three
months, he was, during that period, usually at-
tached to a woman too. He drove in hansoms
every day of the year; always appeared to have
bought his hat half an hour ago; affected a big
picotee as a buttonhole, and lived — nobody knew
how. While he was ridiculed in Fleet Street as
a Pressman, he was treated with deference there
on account of his reputed smartness in the City,
and — while the City laughed at his business pre-
tensions — there he was respected for his supposed
abilities in Fleet Street. So he beamed out of the
hansoms perkily, and drove from one atmosphere
of esteem to another, waving a gloved hand, on
the way, to clever men who envied him.
In days gone by he had tasted a spell of actual
prosperity. By what coup he had made the
money, and how he had lost it, are details, but he
had now developed the fatal symptom of dwell-
ing lovingly on that epoch when he had been so
lucky, and so courted, and so rich. There is hope
for the man who boasts of what he means to do ;
there is hope for the boaster who lies about what
he is doing; but the man whose weakness is to
boast of what he once did is doomed — he is a man
who will succeed no more. If the sporting Baro-
net had grasped this fact, The World and his
Wife would never have been started, and Billy
Beaufort would not have been looking for an as-
sistant-editor to do all the work.
Kent obtained the post. The man with whom
Beaufort had parted was a thoroughly experi-
enced journalist, who had put his chief in the way
of things, but had subsequently called him an ass,
and what Billy sought now was a zealous young
fellow who would have no excuse for giving him-
self airs. Beaufort believed in Turquand r s opin-
ion, and had always thought him a fool for being
so shabby, knowing him to have ten times the
brain-power that he himself possessed, and Tur-
quand had blown Humphrey's trumpet sturdily.
He did more than merely recommend him ; he de-
clared — with a recollection of the nurse and baby
— that Kent was the man to get, but that he was
afraid it would not be worth his while to accept
less than seven pounds a week. When the matter
was settled, Humphrey sought his friend again,
and, wringing his hand, exclaimed:
"You're a pal ; but — but, I say ! What are an
Exhilaration and misgiving were mixed in
equal parts in his breast.
Turquand laughed, as nearly as he could be
said ever to approach a laugh.
"The assistant-editor of The World and his
Wife will have to cut pars nimbly out of the Eng-
lish society journals and the Paris dailies, and
'put 'em all in different language — the more in-
different, the better!' He must handle the scis-
sors without fatigue, and arrange with someone
on this side to supply a column of London theat-
rical news every week — out of The Daily Tele-
graph, Say with me! It's worth a guinea, and
I may as well have it as anybody else."
"You're appointed our London dramatic
critic," said Kent. "Won't you have thirty bob?"
"A guinea's the market price; and I can have
some cards printed and go to the theatres for
nothing, you see, when I feel like it; they don't
take any stock in The Outpost. He must attend
the repetitions generates himself — if he can get
in — and make all the acquaintances he can,
against the time when the rag dies."
" 'Dies'?" echoed Kent. "Is it going to die?"
"Oh, it won't live, my boy! If it had been a
permanent job, I shouldn't have handed it over
to you — I'm not a philanthropist. But it will
give you a chance to turn round, and an enlight-
ened publisher may discern the merits of The Eye
of the Beholder in the meanwhile. You'd better
go on looking for something while you are on the
thing; perhaps you'll be able to get the Paris Cor-
respondence for a paper, if you try."
"What more? What besides the scissors —
"There's the paste; I don't imagine you'll need
"You're a trump!" repeated Kent gratefully.
"I feel an awful fraud taking such a berth, Turk;
but in this world one has to do what one "
"Exactly. By George ! it seems to be a paying
"There is always room at the top, you know,"
said Turquand. "When you rise in what you
can't do, the emolument is dazzling."
Beaufort was returning to Paris the same day,
and he was anxious for Kent to join him there
with all possible speed. Kent's first intention
was to go alone and let Cynthia follow him at her
leisure; but when he reached home and cried,
" 'Mary, you shall drive in your carriage, and
Charles shall go to Eton!' " she refused to be left
"I can be ready by Wednesday or Thursday at
the latest," she exclaimed delightedly, when ex-
planations were forthcoming. "What did you
mean by 'Charles' and 'Mary'? Oh, Humphrey,
didn't I tell you it would all come all right ? How
lovely ! and how astonished mamma and papa will
"Yes, I fancy it will surprise 'em a trifle," he
said. "We'll go round there this evening, shall
we? And we'll put the salary in francs — it
sounds more." He hesitated. "I say, do you
think Nurse will mind living in Paris?"
"I must ask her; I hadn't thought of that.
Oh . . . oh, I dare say I shall be able to persuade
her! It's rather a hurry for her, though, isn't it?
She does so dislike being hurried."
"Tell her at once," he suggested; "she'll have
all the more time to prepare in. Run up to her
"Let — let us think," murmured Cynthia; "we'll
consider. . . . Ann must be sent away, and we
shall have to give her a month's wages instead of
"She's no loss," he observed. "I don't know
what your mother ever saw in her. She can't
even cook a steak, the wench 1"
"She fries them, dear."
"I know she does," said Kent. "A woman
who'd fry a steak would do a murder. Well,
we shall have to give her a month's wages in-
stead of notice — it's an iniquitous law ! But what
"Perhaps," said Cynthia nervously, "if you
were to mention it to her, darling, if you don't
"Of course I don't mind," he answered, but
without alacrity. "What an idea! Tell Ann to
send her down."
She entered presently, an important young
person in a stiff white frock; and he played witK
the newspaper, trying to feel that he had grown
quite accustomed to seeing an important young
person in his service.
"You wished to speak to me, madam, but baby
will be waking directly "
"I shan't keep you a moment," said Kent. "Er
— your mistress and I are going to Paris; we
shall be there some time. I suppose it's all the
same to you where you live ? We want you to be
ready by Thursday, Nurse."
"To Paris?" said Nurse, with cold amazement,
and a pause that said even more.
Cynthia became engrossed by a bowl of flow-
ers, and Kent felt that, after all, Paris was a
long way off.
"I suppose it's all the same to you where you
live?" he said again, though he no longer sup-
posed anything of the sort. "And there are three
days for you to pack in, you know — three nice
"Three days, sir?" she echoed reproachfully.
"To go abroad! May I ask you if you would
be staying in a place like that all the winter, sir?"
"Yes, certainly through the winter — or pro-
bably so. It mightn't be so long; it depends."
"I could not undertake to leave 'ome for good,
gtr," said the nurse. "I am engaged. My friend
lives in 'Olloway, and "
"Oh, it wouldn't be for good," declared Cyn-
thia ingratiatingly; "we couldn't stay there for
good ourselves — oh no! And, of course, if you
found we stopped too long to suit you, Nurse,
why, you could leave us when you liked, couldn't
you? Though Mr. Kent and I would both be
very sorry to lose you, I'm sure!" They looked
at her pleadingly while she meditated.
"What Baby will do, Hi don't know, madam,"
she said; "changing his cow, poor little dear!"
"Will it hurt him?" demanded the mother and
father, in a breath.
"If you have the doctor's consent, madam, you
may chance it. It isn't a thing that Hi would
i ever advise."
"Well, well, look here," said Kent; "we'll see
, Dr. Roberts about it to-day, and if he says there's
no risk, that'll settle it. You will get ready to
start Thursday morning, Nurse."
"I will endeavour to do so, sir," she said with
They felt that on the whole she had been gra-
cious. And Kent, having obtained Dr. Roberts'
sanction to change the cow, commissioned a house-
i agent to try to let No. 64 furnished at four
guineas a week.
Lest he should feel unduly elated, The Eye
of the Beholder came back on Wednesday
afternoon, but this time he did not post it to
another firm instanter. He could not very well
ask for it to be returned to Paris, and he left it
with Turquand when he bade him good-bye.
"Send it where you like," he begged; "perhaps
you might try Farqueharsen next. Yes, I've ra-
ther a fancy for Farqueharsen! But let it make
the round, old chap, and drop me a line when
there aren't any more publishers for it to go to."
The nurse's "endeavour" was crowned by suc-
cess. The Walfords had congratulated him so
warmly that he almost began to think they were
nice people again. And the departure was made
on Thursday morning as arranged.
They travelled, of course, by the Newhaven
route, and reached the gare St. Lazare after dark
on a rainy evening. The amount of luggage that
they possessed among them made Kent stare, as
he watched half a dozen porters hoisting trunks,
and a perambulator, and a bassinet on to the bus,
and it seemed as if they would never get out of
the station. At last they rattled away, through
the wet streets, the baby whimpering, and the
nurse flustered, and he and Cynthia very tired.
They drove to a little hotel near the Madeleine,
where they intended to stay until they found a
suitable pension de famille, and where dinner and
the warmth of beaune was very grateful. Nurse
also "picked up" after the waiter's appearance
with her tray and a half -bottle of vin ordinaire,
and, as their fatigue passed, exhilaration was in
the ascendant once more. Cynthia's recovery
was so marked that, finding the rain had ceased
and the moon was shining, she wanted to go out
and look at the Grand Boulevard. So Hum-
phrey and she took a stroll for an hour, and said
how strange it was to think that they had come
to live in Paris, and how funnily things happened.
And they had a curacoa each at a cafe, and went
back to their fusty red room on the third-floor,
with the inevitable gilt clock and a festooned
bedstead, quite gaily.
The chambermaid brought in their chocolate
at eight o'clock next morning, and her brisk
"Bonjour, m'sieur et madame!" sounded much
more cheerful to them both than Ann's knock at
the door, with "The 'ot water, mum!" to which
they were accustomed. The sun streamed in
brilliantly as she parted the window-curtains.
After the chocolate and rolls were finished, Kent
proceeded to dress, and leaving Cynthia in bed,
betook himself to the office of the paper in the
rue du Quatre Septembre.
Beaufort had not come yet, and, pending his
chief's arrival, he occupied himself by examining
a copy. The tone of the notes struck him as
decidedly poor, and a lengthy interview with one
of the prominent French actresses abounded in
all the well-worn cliches of the amateur. The
"daintv and artistic" room into which the inter-
viewer was ushered, the lady's "mock" despair,
which gave place to "graceful" resignation and
"fragrant" cigarettes, made him sick. Beaufort
was very cordial when he entered, though, and
it was vastly reassuring to discover how lightly
he took things. The work, Mr. Kent would find,
was as easy as A, B, C. "Turf Topics" was
contributed by a fellow called Jordan, and, real-
ly, Mr. Kent would find a few hours daily more
than enough to prepare an issue ! They went into
the private room, where a bottle of vermouth and
a pile of French and English journals, marked
and mutilated, were the most conspicuous fea-
tures of the writing-table ; and Kent came to the
conclusion that his Editor was an extremely
pleasant man, as the vermouth was sipped and
they chatted over two excellent cigars.
At first the duties did not prove quite so simple
as had been promised to one who had never had
anything to do with producing a paper before,
and the printer worried him a good deal. But
Beaufort was highly satisfied. The novice was
swift to grasp details, and took such an infinity
of pains in seasoning and amplifying the re-
chauffes, that really his stuff read almost like
original matter. As he began to feel his feet,
too, he put forth ideas, and, finding that the
other was quite ready to listen to them, gained
confidence, and was not without a mistaken be-
lief that in so quickly mastering the mysteries of
a weekly and painfully exiguous little print, of
which four-fifths were eclectic, he had displayed
ability of a brilliant order.
Primarily the labour that he devoted to the
task was ludicrously disproportionate to the re-
sult, but by degrees he got through it with more
rapidity. When a month had passed since the
morning that he first sat down in the assistant-
editorial chair of The World and his Wife, he
discovered that he was doing in an afternoon
what it had formerly taken two days to accom-
plish, and he marvelled how he could have been so
stupid. The work had devolved upon him al-
most entirely now, for Beaufort, having shown
him the way in which he should go, dropped in
late, and withdrew early, and did little but drink
vermouth and say, "Yes, certainly, capital!"
while he was there. It was Kent who proposed
the subject for the week's interview, wrote — or
re-wrote — the causerie, and who even secured the
majority of the few advertisements that they
obtained. Also, when the semi-celebrity to be
interviewed was not a good-looking woman, it
was he who was the interviewer. When the lady
was attractive, Billy Beaufort attended to that
Cynthia had found a pension de famille in the
Madeleine quarter, highly recommended for a
permanency, and here they had removed. They
had two fairly large bedrooms, communicating,
on the fourth floor, and paid a hundred and
fifty francs a week. It did not leave much over
from the salary for their incidental expenses,
after reckoning the nurse's wages; but it was
supposed to be very cheap, and madame Garin
and her vivacious daughter, who skipped a good
deal for thirty years of age, and was voluble in
bad English, begged them on no account to let
any of the other boarders hear that they were
received at such terms, for that would certainly
be the commencement of madame Garin and her
daughter's ruin. Some of the boarders were
French people, but the meals, with which twenty-
five persons down the long table appeared to be
fairly content, were very bad. They would have
been thought bad even in a boarding-house in
Bloomsbury. The twenty-five persons were
waited on by a leisurely and abstracted Italian,
and the intervals between the meagre courses
were of such duration that Kent swore that he
had generally forgotten what the soup had been
called by the time that the cold entree reached
Yet they were not uncomfortable. Their room
was cosy in the lamplight when the winter had
set in and Etienne had made a fire, and the cur-
tains of the windows were drawn to hide the view
of snowy roofs ; and though the dinner often left
them hungry, they could go out and have choco-
late and cakes. And even as a foreign Press-
man, Kent got some tickets for theatres and con-
certs. It was livelier than Leamington Road, to
say the least of it — more lively for him than for
Cynthia, perhaps; but an improvement for her
as well, since one or two of the women were com-
panionable. She took walks with them while he
was at the office, and practised her French on
them in the chilly salon.
One afternoon when he was sitting at the office
table and Beaufort had gone, the clerk came in
to him with a card that bore the name of "Mrs.
Deane-Pitt." She was staying in Paris, and the
Editor had accepted his suggestion that it might
be a good idea to interview a novelist for a
change. Kent had sent the proofs to her the day
before, but he had never seen her. He told the
clerk with some satisfaction to show her in, and
he wished he had put on his other j acket, for the
author of Two and a Passion was a woman to
He felt shabbier still when she entered; she
looked to him like an' animated fashion-plate
reduced to human height. From the hues of her
hat to the swirl of her skirt, it was evident that
Mrs. Deane-Pitt made money and knew where
to spend it. An osprey in the hat was the only
touch of vulgarity. Everybody would not have
termed her "pretty"; but her eyes and teeth
were good, and both flashed when she talked.
Her age might have been anything from thirty
"I wanted to see Mr. Beaufort," she said, in a
clear, crisp voice; "but I hear he's out."
"Yes; he is out," said Kent. "Is it anything
I can do?"
"Well, I don't like that interview. I dare
say it was my own fault, but I object to suffering
for my own faults — one has to suffer for so many
other people's in this world. It's all about Two
and a Passion. I wrote Two and a Passion seven
years ago — and I didn't get a royalty on it,
either! Why not talk about the books I've done
since, and say more about the one that's just out?
You say, 'Mrs. Deane-Pitt confessed to having
recently published another novel,' and then you
drop it as if it were a failure. And 'confessed' —
why 'confessed'? That's the tone I don't like
in the thing. You write about me as if I were
He felt that Beaufort would not be sorry to
have missed her.
"May I see the proofs again?" he asked.
She gave them to him, and settled herself in
her chair. He looked at them pen in hand, and
she looked at him.
"It can easily be put right, can't it, Mr. "
"'Kent.' Easily— oh yes! Will you tell me
something about your new book? I'm ashamed
to say I haven't read it yet."
"Don't apologise. It's called Thy Neighbour s
"Does she bolt with him, or do you end it
"Virtuously, monsieur," she said, smiling.
"You travel fast!"
"And — please go on! Are there cakes and
ale, or does she tend the sick and visit the poor?"
"You appal me!" said Mrs. Deane-Pitt.
"Whatever my faults, I am modern; I end with
"Not questioning the lady's "
"Oh, her happiness, of course!"
; 'This brilliant and absorbing study, which is
already giving rise to considerable discussion,'
would be the kind of thing?"
"Quite," she said. "I'm awfully sorry to give
you so much trouble."
"The 'trouble' 's a pleasure. You don't want
your 'favourite dog' mentioned, do you? Fa-
vourite dogs are rather at a discount. Er "
"Three," she said. "Yes ; a boy and two girls."
"Does the boy — 'in a picturesque suit' — come
into the room, and lead up to 'evident maternal
"He's a dear little fellow!" she answered. "But
do you think 'evident maternal pride' would be
quite in the key? No; I'd stick to me and the
work! Besides, domesticity is tedious to read
about; the dullest topic in the world is other
"I'll explain to Mr. Beaufort," he declared;
"you shall have a revise sent on to-morrow. I'm
sure you'll find it all right when he understands
the style of thing you want."
"Thank you," she said dryly. "I assure you
I have no misgivings, Mr. Kent. 'Kent'! I've
never had any correspondence with you, have I?
I The name's familiar to me, somehow."
"An alias is 'The garden of England,' " he
"No; you haven't written anything, have you?"
"Two novels. One is published, and the post
is wearing out the other."
"I remembe'r," she cried, uttering the title
triumphantly; "I read it. What grand reviews
you had! Of course, I know now. I liked your
book extremely, Mr. Kent. 'Humphrey Kent,'
"Thank you," he said. "Yes, 'Humphrey
"And you go in for journalism, too, eh?"
"Oh, this is a departure. I was never on a
paper till lately."
"Really!" she exclaimed. "You aren't giving
"I'm pot-boiling, Mrs. Deane-Pitt. Do you
think it very inartistic of me?"
"Don't!" she said. "Inartistic! I hate that
cant. There are papers that are always calling
me inartistic. One's got to live. Oh, I admire
the people who can put up with West Kensing-
ton and take three years to write a novel, but
their altitude is beyond me. I write to sell, moi
— though you needn't put that in the interview.
But I shouldn't have thought you'd have any
trouble in placing your books — you oughtn't to
to-day! I expect you've been too 'literary' —
you'll grow out of it."
"You don't believe in "
"I'm a practical woman. The public read to be
amused, and the publishers want what the public
will read, good, bad, or rotten; that's my view.
You mustn't make me say these things, though,"
she broke off, laughing, and getting up; "it's
most indiscreet — to a Pressman. ... I shall send
you a copy of Thy Neighbour s Husband — to
a colleague. Good-afternoon, Mr. Kent. I'll
leave you to go on with your work now. Pray
don't look so relieved."
"I should value the copy ever so much," he
said. "It was anything but relief — I was strug-
gling to conceal despair."
She put out her hand, and a faint perfume
clung to his own after the door had closed.
Though her standpoint was not his own, her per-
sonality had impressed him, and, as he watched
her from the window re-entering her cab, Kent
was sorry that she hadn't remained longer.
He hoped she would not forget her promise to
send her novel to him, and when it reached him,
a few days later, he opened it with considerable
eagerness. The style disappointed him some-
what, and the story seemed to him unworthy of
the pen that had written Two and a Passion.
But he replied, as he was bound to do, with a
letter of grateful appreciation, and endeavoured,
moreover, to persuade himself that he liked it
better than he did. The lady, on her side, wrote
a cordial little note, thanking him for the
amended proof-sheets — "I had no idea that I was
so clever or so charming." She said she should be
pleased to see him if he could ever spare the time
to look in — she could give him a cup of "real
English tea"; and she was "Very truly his —
She was living in the avenue Wagram — she
had taken a small furnished flat there for a few
months — and when he saw her on the Boulevard,
about a week afterwards, Kent was puzzled to
discover the reason that he had not availed him-
self of her invitation. He called a day or two
later, and found her cynical but stimulating. In
recalling the visit, it appeared to him that she was
more entertaining in conversation than in print,
which suggested that her good things were not so
good as they sounded, but while she talked he was
amused. He left the flat with the consciousness
of having spent a very agreeable half-hour, and
was sorry that her "day," which she had men-
tioned to him, was a fortnight ahead. She
seemed to know many persons in Paris whom he
would be glad to meet, and apart from the host-
ess, with whom he had drunk "English tea" and
smoked Egyptian cigarettes, the entree to the
little yellow drawing-room promised to be en-
joyable. That she was a widow he had taken for
granted from the first, and his assumption had
proved to be correct. She was a woman who
struck one as born to be a widow ; it was difficult
to conceive her either with a husband or living
in her parents' home. As to her children, she
spoke of them frequently, and saw them seldom.
Kent decided that she was too fashionable and
a trifle hard, but this did not detract from the
pleasure that the visits afforded him; perhaps
xiis perception of her character was indeed re-
sponsible for much of the pleasure, for it ren-
dered it more complimentary still that she was
nice to him.
She was surprised to learn that he was mar-
ried, and declared that she looked forward to
knowing his wife. She did not, however, take any
steps to gratify the desire, and Kent was not re-
gretful. He felt that few things more produc-
tive of boredom for two could be devised than a
tete-a-tete between Mrs. Deane-Pitt and Cyn-
thia ; and, though he was reluctant to acknowl-
li edge it to himself, he had a feeling also that, if it
occurred, the lady would be a little contemptu-
ous of him afterwards. He knew her opinion of
| young men's marriages in the majority of cases,
k and was uncomfortably conscious that she would
J not pronounce his own to be one of the excep-
Mrs. Walford's letters to her daughter had
hitherto been in her most enthusiastic vein. Mr.
McCullough had given the disappointed bass a
berth in Berlin, and in her letters this was al-
luded to as a "position," upon which she showered
her favourite adjectives of "jolly" and "extra-
ordinary" and "immense." Caesar was "Mc-
Cullough's right hand," the "best houses in
Berlin" were open to him, and his prospects, so-
cial and financial, were dazzling. Of late, how-
ever, he had been dwelt on less, and one morning
there came a letter that contained a confession
of personal anxiety. The recent heavy drop in
American stocks, and the failure of two or three
brokers, had seriously affected the jobber. They
thought of trying to let The Hawthorns, which
was much too large for them now, and moving
out of the neighbourhood. Cssar remained Mc-
Cullough's "right hand," but briefly; and it was
evident that the writer was in great distress.
Cynthia was terribly grieved and startled. She
dashed off eight pages of love and inquiries by
the evening mail, and when the news was con-
firmed, with more particulars, she felt that she
could do no less than run over to utter her sym-
pathy in person.
Kent agreed that it was perhaps advisable,
and raised the money that was necessary cheer-
fully enough by pawning his watch and chain.
Only when she sent him a rather lengthy tele-
gram from Streatham, detailing her mother's
frame of mind, did he feel that she was exagger-
ating his share in her solicitude.
The chilly salon, where the ladies played for-
feits after dinner, or where the vivacious daugh-
ter thumped the piano, was not attractive during
[Cynthia's absence. Neither was it lively to smoke
alone in his room, or to go to a theatre or a music-
•hall by himself; and when, in calling on Mrs.
*Deane-Pitt, he mentioned his loneliness and she
'proposed that he should take her to the Varietes,
he accepted the suggestion with alacrity.
As he obtained the tickets for nothing, his only
expense was cabs, and the liqueurs between the
acts; and it was so enjoyable, laughing with her
^on the lounge of the cafe, that the recollection
'of their being paid for out of the balance of his
(loan from the mont-de-piete was banished. Mrs.
Deane-Pitt made some more of her happy re-
marks while they sipped the chartreuse, and her
teeth and eyes flashed superbly. The piece was a
[great success, but Kent thought the entr'actes
[were even gayer. And when the curtain had
ifallen and they reached the avenue Wagram, she
would not hear of his leaving her before going
n and having some supper.
His liqueurs looked very paltry to him con-
trasted with the table that exhibited mayon-
naise and champagne, and his exhilaration was
momentarily damped by envy. Fiction meant a
good deal when one was lucky; how jolly to be
able to live as this woman did! Her maid took
away her cloak and hat, and he opened the bottle.
She drew off her long gloves, and patted her
hair before the mirror with fingers on which some
"Let's sit down! Am I all right?"
He thought he had never seen her look so
charming or so young.
"You have a colour," he said.
"A proof it's natural ; when we went out I was
as pale as a ghost! I work too hard, I do —
what are you smiling at? — I work horribly hard.
Life's so dear — yes, 'expensive' — don't say it, it
would be unworthy of you. And I can't do a
fifth part of what's offered me, with all my fag."
"Am I supposed to sympathise with you for
"Certainly you should sympathise; what dc
you suppose I tell you for — to be felicitated ? Do
you think it's agreeable to have to refuse work
when one needs the money it would bring ins
The trials of Tantalus were a joke to it. I had
to let a twenty-thousand-word story for The
Metropolis slide only the other day, and I coulc
place half a dozen shorter stories every week if
I'd the time to write them."
"You do write a great many," said Kent, "and
you seem fairly comfortable."
" 'Wise judges are we of each other!' You
ought to see my bills ; that music-stand over there
is full of them! That's the place I always keep
them in — I'm naturally tidy, it's one of my vir-
tues. I had to turn out Chopin's Mazurkas yes-
terday to make room for some more. I only
came to Paris because people don't write you so
many abusive letters when they have to pay two-
pence-halfpenny postage. Oh, I'm comfortable
enough in a fashion, but I've my worries like my
neighbours. I suppose I'm extravagant, but I
, can't help it. Besides, I'm not! Do you think
He looked at her, and nodded, smiling.
"No," she said, "not really? Why?
"Heavens! you haven't the illusion that you're
economical ? I believe you spend a small fortune
I on cabs alone."
"I don't spend a solitary franc on one when
I'm not alone."
"You never walk, so far as I can ascer-
"No; not so far as that, but I toddle a bit."
"Your champagne is above criticism, and you
dress like — like an angel. The simile is bad "
"And improper. Go on; what other faults
have I? I like to know my friends' opinion of me."
" 'If to her share some human errors fall ' "
"Dont look, then! Shall I hide it behind my
table-napkin ? That's sheer cowardice, Fill your
glass, and mine, please. Go on; tell me how I
strike you frankly! I know; you think I don't
approach literature reverently enough and ought
to devote twelve months to a book, and let my
poor little children go barefoot in the meanwhile?
Well, I did give twelve months to a book once;
but I had a husband when I wrote Two and a
Passion, and he provided the shoes. Now, if I
didn't work as I do, I should have to live at Bat-
tersea, and buy my clothes at Brixton, and take
my holidays at Southend. You wouldn't calmly
condemn me to Southend? My income, apart
from what I make, barely pays my rent."
"Your rent is somewhat heavy," suggested
Kent, "with two flats going at once."
"Wretch! do you lecture me because I couldn't
find a tenant for the Victoria Street place? He
blames me for my misfortunes!"
She caught the long gloves up, and swirled
them round on his cheek. Like the others, they
were perfumed ; but now their scent was in his I ss
face. They looked in each other's eyes an instant,
smiling across the corner of the table. Then, as
the smile died away, they remained looking in
each other's eyes attentively. He drew the gloves
from her hold, and played with them. Her hand
lay upturned to take them back, and in restoring
them his own rested on it. She averted her gaze,
but her palm did not slip away so quickly as it
might have done.
"You know you may smoke," she said, rising
and going over to the fire. "I'll have one, too."
"Isn't it too late?" he asked, joining her.
His voice was not quite steady, and now he
didn't look at her as he spoke.
"You can have one cigarette," she said, sink-
ing into an armchair, and crossing her feet on the
fender. "How's the paper going? Eclipsing
Le Petit Journal?"
"Of course," he said. "Did you ever know
anybody's paper that wasn't?"
"You count Paris your home, I suppose? You
mean to stop here permanently? I go back in
March; the people are returning here then. I
loathe London after Paris, but I shall have es-
caped most of the winter there, that's one thing.
Where did you live in town?"
"My neighbourhood was Batter sea, that is to
say, it was suburban wilds. We had a villa at
Streatham — have it now, in fact," he added, re-
membering with dismay that there was a quar-
ter's rent due. "]\ T o, I'm afraid I can't condole
with you, Mrs. Deane-Pitt."
" 'Pride sleeps in a gilded crown, contentment
in a cotton night-cap,' " she said. "An address is
only skin-deep, after all; besides, Streatham is
"Pretty well. And it looks prettier out of a
"Get money, my friend," she said languidly;
"you are young enough, and I think you're clever
enough. When all things were made, nothing
was made better. And it's really very easy; as
soon as you are popular, the editors will take
" 'First catch your hare/ " he observed. "I'm
The clock on the mantelshelf struck one, and
he threw away his cigarette-end and got up.
"Good-night, Mrs. Deane-Pitt."
"Good-night," she said.
Her touch lingered again, and her personality
dominated him as he walked back to the pension
de famille through the silent streets. He was
angry with himself to perceive that it was so.
What the devil had he been about in that business
with the gloves over the table? She had let him
do it, too! Did she like him. He wouldn't go
to see her any more ! Well, that was absurd, but
he would not go so frequently as he had. And
he must keep a rein on himself. Nothing could
come of it, he was convinced, even if he wished;
and he did not wish. It would be too beastly to
deceive a girl like Cynthia . . . and their baby
only a year old ! He decided, as he mounted the
stairs, to tell Cynthia when she came back that
he had been to the Varietes with Mrs. Deane-
Pitt. It would not disturb her to hear that, and,
though it was juggling with his conscience, he
would feel cleaner afterwards. There was a
letter from her waiting for him on the bedroom
table, and he washed his hands before he opened
Cynthia wrote to say that she should be home
the next evening but one, and that her parents
had been rejoiced to see her. On the whole,
things did not seem to be so desperate as she had
feared; but it was quite determined that The
Hawthorns should be let, for, fortunately, there
was a Peruvian family who were prepared to take
it just as it stood, and mamma had already been
to view a house at Strawberry Hill which was
quite nice, and far cheaper. Whether Miss Wix
would remove with them was doubtful.
"Mamma's temper is naturally not of the best
just now, and I gather that the dissensions have
been rather bad. Papa talks of allowing Aunt
Emily a pound a week to live by herself, and
really she seems to prefer it."
She added, underlined, that Caesar was still
"the right hand of McCullough." She had learnt
to smile a little at Caesar, and Kent winced as he
came to that allusion to a mutual joke. And
then there followed a dozen affectionate injunc-
tions : he was not to be dull, "poor boy who had
no watch and chain!" but to go somewhere every
night; he was to hug baby for her, and to give
and keep a score of kisses. She was "Always
his loving wife." He read it under the paraffin
lamp with his overcoat on, and wished that ft
hadn't arrived till the morning.
Mrs. Deane-Pitt's inquiry how The World and
his Wife was going had had more significance
than Kent's careless reply. The band of Paris
Correspondents in the vicinity of the boulevard
Magenta and elsewhere were already beginning
to talk about Billy Beaufort, for, not only was
he neglecting the first chance of a competence
that had fallen his way for years — he was squan-
dering the whole of a very handsome salary, and
getting into difficulties, besides. The amount of
energy which this man, when in his deepest
waters, expended upon a search for opportunities
was equalled only by the abysmal folly by which
he ruined all that he obtained. He was one of
the fools who devote their lives to disproving the
adage that experience teaches them. The circu-
lation of the paper was purely nominal, and the
Baronet had constantly to be applied to for fur-
ther funds; indeed, the only work in connection
with the journal which Billy did now was to write
euphemistic reports to the proprietor. The
money did not supply the journal's deficiencies
alone. Card debts had to be settled somehow;
and an ephemeral attachment to a girl who tied
herself in knots at the Nouveau Cirque was re-
sponsible for some embarrassment.
Hitherto, however, Beaufort had always
spared the hurdred and seventy-five francs at the
end of the we. I: to his assistant-editor. But on
the Saturday after Cynthia's return he asked him
casually if he would mind waiting for it a few
"Sorry if it puts you out at all," he said. "I
can't help myself. You shall have it for certain
Wednesday or Thursday. I suppose you can
finance matters in the meanwhile, eh?"
Kent could do no less than answer that he
would try. On Monday morning, though,
madame Garin's bill would come up with the
first breakfast, and he saw that he would be
compelled either to make an excuse to her, or
to pretend to forget it till he could pay.
Their bills had been paid with such exceeding
regularity up to the present that he decided to
take the bolder course, distasteful as it was. He
had been obliged to ask landladies to wait longer
in his time, but it was one thing to be "disap-
pointed" as a bachelor, and quite another when
one had a wife, and baby, and nurse in the house.
Madame Garin's countenance, moreover, was of
a rather forbidding type, and did not suggest a
yielding disposition in money matters. He was
agreeably surprised to hear her say, after a
scarcely perceptible pause, that it was of no con-
sequence when he spoke to her in passing her
little office in the hall on Monday morning.
Cynthia's relief was immense ; it had been a seri-
ous crisis to her, her earliest experience of having
to ask for credit; and, to be on the safe side, he
had not promised to pay before Thursday Both
trusted that the salary would be forthcoming
on Wednesday, though, for if the nurse wanted
anything bought in the meanwhile they would
be obliged to temporise with her, and that would
have its awkwardness.
Beaufort did not refer to the subject on
Wednesday, and Kent went home with sixty-five
centimes in his pocket. He got in late, and Cyn-
thia was already at dinner. She glanced at him
inquiringly as he took his seat, and he shook his
"Not yet," he murmured.
She disguised her feelings and continued to
talk chiffons with the woman opposite ; but when
they mounted to their room and the proprietress
looked out of the bureau at them with a greet-
ing, she felt a shade uncomfortable, and hastened
"I hate that bureau," she said as soon as they
had reached the haven of the first landing. "The
Garins seem to live in it, and you can't get by
without their seeing you! Well, he didn't give
it to you, eh?"
"No; it'll be all right to-morrow, though. It's
lucky I said 'Thursday' instead of to-day. Has
Nurse been to you for anything?"
"Thank goodness, she hasn't! But Baby is
bound to be out of something directly. You do
think we are sure of it to-morrow, Humphrey,
He said there was no doubt about it, and they
drew their chairs to the hearth. The night was
cold, and presently he went out to a grocer's
and spent sixty centimes on a bottle of the kind
of red wine that the restaurants threw in with
the cheapest meal, smuggling it upstairs under
his overcoat. In madame Garin's wine-list it
figured as "medoc" at two francs, and she would
not have been pleased with him for getting it at a
shop. They made it hot over their fire in one of
the infant's saucepans ; and, sweetened with sugar
from the nursery cupboard, they found it com-
forting. Though their capital was now a sou,
they were not unhappy, in the prospect of a
hundred and seventy-five francs in the course of
twenty-four hours, and once Cynthia laughed so
gaily that the nurse came in and intimated that
"the rooms hopening into one another made the
noise very disturbing to Baby."
Kent went to the office next day without a
cigarette, for he had smoked his last, and he
I awaited his chief's arrival with considerable im-
patience. The Editor had not been in when he
returned to luncheon, but in reply to Cynthia's
eager question he assured her that he was certain
to have the money in his pocket when he saw her
again in the evening. He wanted a cigarette by
this time very badly indeed, and when the office
clock struck three, he left his desk, and stood
pulling his moustache at the window moodily.
He began to fear that it was going to be one of
the days when Billy Beaufort did not appear in
the rue du Quatre Septembre at all.
His misgiving proved to be well founded, and
dinner that night was agreeable neither to him
nor the girl. She had been reluctant to go down
to it, on hearing that madame Garin could not
be paid, and, though he persuaded her to go
down, she sped past the bureau with averted eyes.
It was useless to go in search of Beaufort; the
only thing of which one could be positive with
regard to his movements at this hour was that
he would not be at his hotel ; but Kent promised
her to see him before commencing work in the
morning, and said that the amount necessary
should be sent round to her at once.
Beaufort was staying at the Grand, and he was
still in his room when Kent called there. He was
found in bed, reading his letters. A suit of dress-
clothes trailed disconsolately across a chair, and
by the window a fur-coat and a hat-box had
rolled on to the floor. He had not drunk his
chocolate, but a tumbler of soda-water and some-
thing, and a syphon, stood on the table beside
him, surrounded by his watch and chain, some
scattered cigarettes, and the bulk of his corre-
spondence. He looked but half awake and cross.
"What's the matter?" he murmured. "Sit
down. There's a seat there, if you move those
things. Will you have anything to drink?"
"I won't have a drink, but I'll take one of those
cigarettes, if I may," said Kent, sticking it in his
mouth and inhaling gratefully. "I'm sorry to dun
you, but you told me I could have the money
'Wednesday or Thursday,' and I'm pressed for
it. I wish you w T ould let me have it now ; I want
to send it up to my pension before going on to
Beaufort put out his tongue and drank some
more of the contents of the tumbler thirstily.
"That'll be all right," he said, yawning; "don't
you bother about that!"
"But the point is, that I want it now," said
Kent. "I dare say it would be 'all right,' but I'm
in need of it this morning. My bill came up on
Monday, and I put the woman off till yesterday
— I can't put her off any more."
"What? Is this the first week you owe her?
My boy, a week ! I haven't paid my bill here for
eleven weeks. Let her wait."
"You haven't a wife," said Kent. ct I have. It's
damned unpleasant for a girl, I can tell you!"
"How much does the old harpy want?" in-
quired the Editor, with resentment.
"A hundred and sixty, more or less, with ex-
tras. I have the interesting document with me,
if you'd like to see it."
Billy gaped again.
"Oh, well," he said, "we'll engineer it. You
— you tell your wife not to worry herself; and
don't trouble any more. I'll see you through."
He settled his head on the pillow, and appeared
to be under the impression that the difficulty was
"It's very good of you," answered Kent, as
his tone seemed to call for gratitude, "I'm glad
to hear you say so. But how soon can I have it?"
"Eh? Oh, I shall be able to draw to-morrow.
You shall have a hundred and sixty to-morrow.
I give you my word of honour on it. I'll work
it for you somehow. I won't see you in a hole."
Kent stared at him. On the morrow a second
week's salary would be due — and on the next
day but one, a second account from madame
Garin. He pointed the fact out to Beaufort
quietly, but with emphasis. He said that, if
matters were financially complicated, it would be
well for him to understand the position, in order
that he might realise his outlook, and, if essential,
make a temporary removal to a quarter where he
could live more cheaply. He did not want to
badger him, he explained, but Beaufort's pro-
gramme was not capable of imitation in his own
case, and, as a family man, he must cut his coat
according to his cloth.
"If you want me to let part of my salary
stand over for the next few weeks, and it's un-
avoidable, I suppose it is unavoidable," he said
finally; "only, I can't be left in the dark about it.
Am I to understand that you propose to pay me
a hundred and sixty francs to-morrow, instead of
three hundred and fifty? Or shall I have the
What he received was a peaceful snore, and he
perceived that Billy Beaufort had fallen asleep.
He contemplated him for a minute desperately,
and lit another cigarette. The thought of Cyn-
thia sitting at home in the bedroom, waiting in
suspense for a messenger's knock at the door,
nerved him to upset a chair, and Beaufort opened
his eyes with a grunt.
"What can you do?" demanded Kent, briefly
this time, lest slumber should overtake him again.
"Can you give me any money before I go?"
"I've told you I'll do my utmost. You shall
have a hundred and sixty francs to-morrow; I
can't give it you now — I haven't got it. If I
had, you may be sure you wouldn't have to ask
twice for it. I'm not a chap of that sort, Kent.
By George! I never desert a pal. I've my
faults, but I never desert a pal. ... If a louis
on account is any good, I can let you have that."
"Well," said Humphrey, seeing that there was
no more to be done, "I rely on you. And —
thanks — I'll take the louis to go on with."
He went down and out on to the Boulevard,
and sent Cynthia a petit bleu, saying, "Got
something. Balance to-morrow," and wondered
gloomily whether madame Garin would continue
complacent when she discovered that, after all,
he suggested paying one week's bill instead of
two. Perhaps it would be easier to arrange with
the vivacious daughter?
He resolved to try, and the young lady was all
smiles and "Mais parfaitement, monsieur," when
he spoke to her. He congratulated himself on
having had the idea; but, though Beaufort pro-
vided him with the sum agreed upon next day,
and repeated that he "never deserted a pal" with
an air of having achieved a triumph, he did not
make up the deficit, and, instead of being able to
square accounts with the Garins, the assistant-
editor gradually found himself getting deeper
into their debt. From its being a doubtful point
whether he would receive his salary in full, it be-
came a question whether he would get any of it
at all; and when he obtained half, he learnt by
degrees to esteem it a fortunate week. Beaufort
overflowed with promises and protestations.
Everything was always "on the eve of being
righted," but the day of righteousness never
dawned. Mademoiselle Garin began to stop
"monsieur Kent" in the hall and convey to him
with firmness that her mother had very heavy
obligations to meet, and Cynthia sat at the dinner-
table in constant terror of the old woman coming
in and publicly insulting them.
One morning, when the laundress brought
back their linen, Humphrey had to feign to be
asleep, while Cynthia explained that "monsieur
had all the money and was so unwell that she did
not like to wake him." The poor creature was
sympathetic, and went away telling madame not
to disquiet herself — it was doubtless only a pass-
ing indisposition. But after she had gone, the
girl begged Humphrey to take a loan on her en-
gagement-ring, and after some discussion he
[complied. Everything is more valuable in Paris
than in London until one has occasion to pawn
it, and then it is worth much less, especially jew-
ellery. From the mont-de-piete Kent procured
i about forty per cent, of what a London pawn-
broker would have lent him. However, the loan
ivas useful. Though it did not clear them, it
afforded temporary relief ; and it paid the nurse's
Ivages, which were due the same day. Cynthia
aid that she had become so "demoralised" — she
used a happy term now with a frequency he would
have found astonishing if he had recalled how she
talked when they first met — that a substantial
payment on account "made her feel quite meri-
torious" ; and there was a week in which they went
to the theatres again, and walked past the bureau
with heads erect.
March had opened mildly, and people were
once more beginning to sit outside the cafes ; and
Mrs. Deane-Pitt was returning to England.
Kent had kept his resolution not to enter the
yellow drawing-room in the avenue Wagram
when it could be avoided — partly, no doubt, be-
cause of the anxieties he had had to occupy his
mind, but partly also by force of will. When he
heard that she was leaving, though, he could do
no less — nor did he feel it necessary to do less
■ — than call to bid her "au revoir," and he was
conscious, as the servant replied that she was at
home, that he would have been disappointed
He gown betokened that visitors were ex-
pected; teacups demonstrated that visitors had
been. She welcomed him languidly, and mo
tioned him to a seat.
"I thought you must have gone to London, or
to Paradise," she said. "What have you beer
doing with yourself?"
"I've been so fearfully busy," he answered
"On the paper?"
"I don't hear good reports of the paper," she
said. "I hope they aren't true?"
"The paper is as good as it always was," re-
sponded Kent — "neither better nor worse. May
I ask what you hear?"
"I heard that Sir Charles Eames is getting
tired of it. Says he is running a journal that
nobody reads but himself, and he 'don't read it
much.' He informed a man in his club, who told
it privately to another man, who told it in con-
fidence to a woman who told me — I wouldn't
breathe a w T ord of it to anyone myself — that 'if
the price didn't improve soon he should scratch
it.' What will the robin do then, Mr. Kent?"
Humphrey looked grave. This was the first
; plain intimation he had had that The World and
his Wife was likely to collapse, and badly as the
post was paying him now, it was more lucrative
than any that awaited him. He thought that
'Mrs. Deane-Pitt might have communicated her
news more considerately.
"The robin will manage to find crumbs, I sup-
pose," he said; "I wasn't born on The World and
"May I offer you some tea and cake in the
Her tone annoyed him this afternoon; it was
hard and careless. He fancied at the moment
that his only feeling for her was dislike, and
sneered at the mental absurdities into which he
had strayed. There was a lengthy pause — a
thing that had seldom occurred between them —
followed by platitudes.
"Well," he murmured, getting up, "I'm afraid
I must go."
She did not press him to remain.
"Must you?" she said. "I dare say we shall
meet again. It's a small world in every sense."
"I hope we shall. Au re voir, and bon voyage*
"If you should go back yourself, you'll come
to see me? You know where I live."
"Thank you ; I shall be very glad."
But as he went down the stairs Kent was sur-
prised to perceive that he felt suddenly mournful.
The noise of the door closing behind him was
charged with ridiculous melancholy, and there
appeared to him something sad in this conven-
tional ending that had the semblance of estrange-
ment. The sentiment and impression of the hour
that he had spent in the room after the Varietes
recurred to him, and contrasted with it their
adieu became full of pathos. He questioned re-
proachfully if, in his determination not to be
more than a friend, he might not have repaid her
own friendship by ingratitude, and so have
wounded her. He first decided that he would
send her a letter, and then that he would not
send her a letter. He made his way through the
Champ Elysees reflectively, and once half obeyed
a violent temptation to turn back. He would
have obeyed it wholly but that he felt its indul-
gence would be laughable, or that Mrs. Deane-
Pitt would be likely to look upon it in that light.
So he restrained the impulse. But he could not
The respite afforded by the mont* de-piete was
brief, and all that Kent received from Beaufort
in the next three weeks was twenty francs. The
Garins' faces in the hall were very glum, now,
and the sum against "Notes remises" at the top
of the bills that came up to the bedroom on Mon-
day mornings had swelled to such disheartening
dimensions that the debtor no longer gave him-
self the trouble to decipher the various items.
In addition to this, the affairs of The World and
his Wife had reached a crisis, and he learnt from
the Editor that it was doomed. An interval of
restored hope ensued. The life of the paper
hung in the balance — then they went to press no
Beaufort declared that Kent's claim would be
discharged without delay, and, knowing the ex-
proprietor's position, Humphrey could not be-
lieve that he would be allowed to suffer. That
the Baronet was ignorant of his claim's existence
and that it was Billy Beaufort who had to find
the money for hiin, he had no idea ; no more had i
he suspected, when he took Cynthia to the Nou-
veau Cirque and applauded the contortions of
"Mile. Veronique," that the artiste who stood on
her head, and kissed her toes to them, was in part
responsible for their plight. Billy, realising that
the matter must be squared somehow, if things
weren't to become more unpleasant, spoke re-
assuringly of Sir Charles being momentarily in
tight quarters ; and Humphrey, in daily expecta-
tion of a cheque, made daily promises of a settle-
ment to the Garins, while he discussed with Cyn-
thia what should be their next move.
To remain in Paris would be useless, and they
decided that they would go back to England as
soon as the cheque was cashed. Perhaps it was
fortunate, after all, that No. 64< had not been let!
In London he must advertise again, and a post
might be easier to find now that he could call
himself an "assistant-editor" in the advertise-
ment. The days went by, however, and Beau-
fort, whom he awoke, like an avenging angel, at
early morning and tracked in desperation from
bar to bar until he ran him to earth at night, still
remained "in hourly expectation of the money."
Both Cynthia and Kent feared that their inability
to pay was known to everybody in the house ; and
they imagined disdain on the face of the Italian
who waited on them at meals, and indifference in
the bearing of Etienne when he laid the fire. The
chambermaid's "Bonjour, m'sieur et madame,"
had a ring of irony to their ears, and on Mon-
days, in particular, they were convinced that she
sneered when she put down their tray.
The thought made the girl so miserable that
Kent took an opportunity of asking mademoiselle
Garin if it was so, and she informed him that
he was mistaken.
"Nobody 'as been told, monsieur," she said;
"oh, not at all! But, monsieur, it is impossible
that you remain, you know, if your affairs do
not permit of a settlement. Your intentions are
quite honourable — well understood; but my
mother cannot wait. Her expense is terrible
'eavy 'ere; vraiment, c'est epouvantable, je vous
assure, et — and — and my mother 'as an offer for
your rooms, and she asks that you and madame
locate yourselves elsewhere, monsieur, on Satur-
After an instant of dismay, Humphrey was, on
the whole, relieved at the idea of being allowed
to depart in peace and to await his cheque where
the situation wouldn't be strained. It was rather
a nuisance, having to make a removal for so short
a time, but when it was effected, he felt that they
would be a great deal more comfortable. He re-
plied that they would go, of course, and that
madame Garin could depend upon his sending
her the amount that he owed the moment that his
arrears of salary were forthcoming. He said
he thoroughly appreciated the consideration that
she had shown them, and could not express how
deeply he regretted to have inconvenienced her.
"Yes, monsieur," murmured mademoiselle
Garin. She hesitated; she added, in a slightly
embarrassed tone: "You know, monsieur, my
mother must keep your luggage 'ere? Her law-
yer 'as advised that."
"What?" said Kent. "Oh, my dear mademoi-
selle Garin! I will give your mother an ac-
knowledgment — a promissory note — whatever
she likes ! She will only have to trust me for a
few more days; I'm perfectly certain to have
the money in the course of a w r eek. She won't
keep the luggage, surely? My — my dear young
lady, think what it means with a wife and child!"
Mademoiselle Garin spread her arms with a
"It is always 'a few more days,' monsieur," she
said. "My mother will permit you to take your
necessaries for the few days, and the things be-
longing to the little one. No more."
"Can I see her?" inquired Kent, rather pale.
"Oh yes; she is in the bureau."
"The servants can hear everything that goes
on in the bureau," he demurred. "Can't I talk
to her in her room?"
Mademoiselle Garin preceded him there, and
he tried his best to wring consent from the old
woman, but she was as hard as nails, and would
not listen for long. An "acknowledgment of the
debt," certainly — the lawyer had advised that,
too, and he would prepare it — but their luggage,
jamais de la vie! The baby's box, and the bassi-
net ; and for madame Kent and himself such ar-
ticles as were indispensable for one week. She
would agree to nothing else,
Cynthia was upstairs, playing with the baby,
and Kent went in and shut the door that com-
municated with the nursery.
"What is it?" she asked, after a glance at his
He wondered if he could soften the news, but
it did not lend itself to euphemisms. He told
it to her in as light a tone as he could acquire.
"It won't be for any length of time, and we
can easily make shift for a bit," he said. "It
isn't as if the child's things had to be left behind,
you see. A handbag will hold all we really need
for ourselves. What do we want, after all, for
a week? It isn't a serious matter, if one comes
to look at it. It sounds worse than it is, I think."
She sat startled and still. Then she cuddled
the baby close, and forced a smile.
"My brown frock will do," she assented; "I
shall go in that! Oh, it isn't so dreadful, no.
Of course, just for a moment it does give one
a shock, doesn't it? But — but, as you say, it
sounds w r orse than it is. Were they nasty to you ?"
"The old lady wasn't very affectionate; the
girl wasn't so bad. It's cussed awkward, darling,
I know. Poor little woman ! I was funking tell-
ing you like anything. It took me ten minutes
coming up those stairs, and I nearly went out for
a walk first."
She laughed; she was already quite brave
"We shall get through it all right," she said.
"Where shall we go? We might go back to the
hotel where we stayed first, mightn't we? We
"I thought of that," he replied; "but it was
rather dear, wasn't it? We had better spend as
little a possible; there are our passages, and we
mustn't arrive in London with nothing. I'm
afraid we shan't be able to get your ring out in
"That can't be helped. I'm sorrier about your
watch and chain. A man is so lost without a
Watch. Saturday? Saturday will be mi-careme,
won't it? We shall celebrate it nicely. . . . Oh!"
She sat upright, and stared at him with fright-
ened eyes. "Humphrey — Nurse!"
His jaw dropped, and he looked back at her
"I'd forgotten her," he said.
"To see our luggage detained — it could only
mean the one thing! Humphrey, what would she
think? What can we do? She mustn't, mustn't
know ; I should die of shame."
"No," he said; "she mustn't know, that's cer-
tain. Good Lord ! what an infernal complication
at the last minute! I don't know what's to be
done, I'm sure. Take the child in to her, and let's
He filled a pipe, and puffed furiously, until
Cynthia came back.
"Couldn't we," he suggested — -"couldn't we
say that as we're at the point of going home, we
don't think it's worth while carting the heavy
trunks to another place? Madame Garin has
'kindly allowed us to leave them here in the mean-
"Then, what are we going to another place
ourselves for?" she said.
"Yes," said Kent; "that won't do. Hang the
woman! she's a perfect bugbear to us; we're all
the time struggling to live up to the teapot. I
wish to heaven we could get rid of her alto-
"That," answered the girl, after a pause —
"that is the only thing we can do. We must send
her away, and Vll take baby,"
"You? A nice job for you! You could never
go down to a meal; and travelling too — imagine
"I can do it; I'd like it! Anything, anything
rather than she should see us turned out and our
luggage seized. That would be too awful ! Yes,
we must get her away, Humphrey. We must get
her away before we leave here. Whatever hap-
pens afterwards is our own affair. She'll be gone
and know nothing about it."
"That's very good," he said thoughtfully. "But
there'll be her wages, and her passage back.
Great Scott! and another month's wages because
we don't give her proper notice! How much
would it come to? I've got two francs fifty, and
I've po wned my match-box. I'm afraid we must
think of something else."
"\T e could send her second-class on the boat as
wel) Yes, certainly second-class. What does
that cost? Have you got the paper you had?
"Look for it, do! it used to be in your bag."
Kent searched, and found it. He also felt that
their lot would be comparatively a bed of roses
if they were spared the astonished inquiries of
"Second-class tickets are twenty-five and
sevenpence," he announced, "and two months'
wages are four pounds. Say five pounds ten.
Well, dear, I might as well try to raise a mil-
He blew clouds, and waited for an inspiration,
while she walked about the room with her hands
"Even if we could get it," she remarked,
breaking a heavy silence, "I don't know what
reason we could give for packing her off so sud-
denly. It would look rather a curious proceed-
ing, wouldn't it?"
"We could say," said Kent, "that we have
decided to live in Paris permanently. She'd
want to go then — the charms of 'Olloway!"
"Yes," answered Cynthia, "we could say that.
But why in such a gasping hurry?"
"Yes, it would be rather a rush, it's a fact.
Well, I'll tell you! We are going on a visit to
some friends in the country, and they haven't
room for another nurse. Mrs. Harris's i.urse
will do all that's needed while we're there. . . .
But five pounds ten! I can see Beaufort ami
make the attempt; but the man hasn't got it till
the draft comes. You can't get blood out of a
"Let him go and pawn his match-box, then,
and his watch and chain, and his engagement-
ring. He must find it for you. Humphrey, tell
him you must have it. Say it's — it's a matter of
life or death. Think of what we've gone through
already, trembling in case she suspected what a
state we were in. The blessed relief it will be
to be alone and have no pretences to make! I
shall feel new-born."
"I'll see him to-day," said Kent, catching her
enthusiasm. "He's often in a place in the rue
Saint-Honore about four o'clock. What time
is it now ? Go in and ask her — she's the only one
among us with a watch. Tell her mine has
stopped — unless it has stopped too often."
"Yours is 'being cleaned.' " She disappeared
for a second, and returned to say that it was
half -past three. "Hurry, and you may catch
him now!" she continued. "And — and, Hum-
phrey, be very firm about it, won't you? If he
hasn't got it, make him give you a definite prom-
ise when you shall have it. To-day's Tuesday
— say you must have it by Thursday, at the
latest. And come back and tell me the result as
quickly as you can. Wait, here's a kiss for luck."
Kent kissed her warmly — she had never before
seemed to him so companionable, such "a good
fellow," as she did in this dilemma — and, picking
up his hat and cane, he ran down the stairs, and
made his way to the buffet in the rue Saint-
Honore at his best pace.
Beaufort was not to be seen in the bar, nor
was he in the inner room ; but on inquiring at the
counter, Kent learnt that a gentleman there was
now waiting for Billy, having an appointment
with him for a quarter to four. This was very
lucky. Kent took a seat on the divan and or-
dered a bock. Boiling a cigarette, he debated
how he could put the matter strongly enough.
He had expended so much eloquence of late with-
out deriving any benefit from the interviews that
he did not feel very hopeful of the upshot. How-
ever, he was resolved that he wouldn't fail for
any lack of endeavour. After Beaufort came in,
a little before five, he sat watching him warily
until the other man took his leave.
Beaufort expressed pleasure at seeing him,
and asked him to have a drink. Kent did not
refuse the invitation, for it would be easier to
talk there, in the corner, than dodging among
the crowd in the streets, and he opened fire at
once. He felt that his best card was absolute
frankness, and explained the situation without
reserve. Billy was entirely sympathetic. He
romanced about Sir Charles, but was subse-
quently truthful. A draft from the Baronet
might be delivered any morning or evening, but
in the event of its not coming in time, he would
straighten matters out himself! "He was
damnably short, but he had arranged with a pal
to jump for him. If he touched a bit to-morrow
— of which there was, humanly speaking, no
doubt — Kent should have a hundred and forty
francs at night, and the balance of what was
owing to him early in the week." Damon would
repay himself when the draft arrived !
Such devotion demanded another drink, and
though this left him with less than a franc in
his pocket, Kent went back to the pension de
famille in much better spirits, and feeling that
he had good news to impart. Cynthia looked
upon the tidings in the same light. As the nurse
might learn from the servants that their rooms
were to be vacated on Saturday, they decided
to speak to her without delay. Kent informed
her that they were going to friends in the coun-
try, preparatory to settling in Paris for two
years, and that she must make her preparations
'to return to England on Saturday morning.
This gave a margin for delay on Beaufort's part.
The young woman was greatly taken aback, and
though she did not wish to stay, there was real
feeling in her voice as she said how sorry she
would be to leave the baby. She hung over the
bassinet, and tears came into her eyes. Then
Cynthia choked, and began to cry too, and Hum-
phrey found her five minutes later with her face
buried in her pillow, sobbing that she felt
"ashamed to have told lies to such a conscientious,
Kent's appointment with Beaufort next even-
ing was for half -past eight, outside the Cafe de
la Paix. The sous remaining after the conversa-
tion in the rue Saint-Honore had gone for a
nursery requirement, so he was unable to sit
down while he waited. His man was very late,
and he walked to and fro before the stretch of
chairs and tables on the boulevard for nearly an
hour, tacitly confessing himself penniless to every
idler there. When Billy arrived at last, he be-
gan by saying that his news was "not altogether
unsatisfactory," whereat Humphrey's heart
sank, and when details were forthcoming, it ap-
peared to him about as unsatisfactory as it could
possibly have been. Stripped of the circum-
locution by which the speaker sought to palliate
its asperities, the news was, that the completion
of his business had been deferred till Saturday,
and that while he was confident of "touching"
then, he feared that he could do nothing in the
meantime. Kent took no pains to conceal his
despondence. Seeing that he and Cynthia must
leave the boarding-house by noon, and get the
nurse out of the way and into the train by ten
o'clock in the morning, "Saturday" sounded as
hopeless as Doomsday. He explained the
urgency of the situation afresh, over a fine, and,
after reflection, Billy thought that, assisted by
the signature of somebody else, he could raise a
hundred and fifty francs in another quarter.
When he had had a second fine he was sure of it,
and bade Humphrey meet him there again on
the morrow at a quarter to two.
The following day was Thursday, and when
Kent descended about eleven, madame Garin
requested him to sign the document her lawyer
had drawn up. After that had been done, and
duly witnessed — one may do anything one likes
in France excepting not pay — Kent told her that
his wife wished her to view the contents of the
baby's trunk before it was closed. As a matter
of fact, it was a rather large one, and they were
anxious to avoid the possibility of its giving rise
to remark in front of servants at the moment of
departure. She replied that such an examina-
tion was not necessary; it would be sufficient if
they instructed their nurse to pack nothing that
didn't belong to the little one. This led to his
informing her that the girl was quitting their
service, and, to his horror, madame Garin said
"You know what I have consented to, mon-
sieur? The things of the child; and for madame
Kent and yourself what is enough for one week.
"My God 1" exclaimed Kent with a gasp ; "you
don't mean to say you won't let the girl take her
"But certainly I mean it," she returned. "It
was perfectly understood. I have already been
"But — but — heavens above!" he stammered,
"the girl doesn't owe you anything! My wife
is dismissing her, so as to keep our humiliation
from her knowledge, madame. If you refuse to
let her box go, the exposure is complete!"
The proprietress shrugged her shoulders:
"That does not concern me!"
This time Kent literally lacked the courage to
tell Cynthia what had occurred. He went out,
and dropped on to the first bench that he came
to, sick in his soul. What was the use now if
Beaufort did bring him the money when they
met? The girl could not be sent home without
her luggage, and they would have to make a clean
breast of the whole affair to her, and beg her to
be tolerant with them. Cynthia had been very
plucky; she had taken the disappointment of
last night like a brick, and was at the moment
full of hope for the result of the appointment
at a quarter to two; but he felt that this unex-
pected blow would surely crush her. It was the
death-stroke to their scheme and entailed even
more mortification than they had feared origin-
ally. He was at the foot of the Champs Ely sees,
and he sat staring with wide eyes at the passers-
by — at the bonnes, big of bosom, with the broad,
bright ribbons depending from their caps; at
the children with their hoops, and the women in
knicker-bockers, flashing through the sunshine on
their bicycles. Paris looked so light-hearted that
woe seemed incongruous in it.
Now, it happened, about half an hour subse-
quent to his leaving the house, that Cynthia de-
cided to go with her baby and the nurse for a
walk. Halfway down the stairs it was perceived
that something had been forgotten, and she con-
tinued the descent alone. To her dismay, she
saw the gaunt figure of madame Garin standing
at the office door, and as she came timorously
down the last flight, the proprietress stood with
folded arms, watching her. Perhaps her ner-
vousness was very evident ; perhaps the other had
been sorrier for her than she had shown; but as
the girl reached the hall the grim old woman
moved towards her, and, with a gesture that said
as plainly as words, "Oh, you poor little soul!"
took her face between her hands, and kissed her
on the forehead.
"Listen," she said; "that's all right about the
box of your servant — be easy I"
Cynthia murmured a response to her kindness
without realising what was meant.
Presently Kent became aware that, among the
stream of nurses and infants flowing up from the
place de la Concorde, were his own nurse and
infant, and that Cynthia accompanied them.
She recognised him before they reached the
bench, and coming over to him with surprise,
sat down. And then each spoke of what the
other did not know.
"What a half-hour you have had!" she cried
when she understood.
And he exclaimed:
"But the relief! Heaven be praised you came
Their fate now hung once more on what Billy
Beaufort would have to say, and Kent sped to
the rendez-vous with restored energy. By the
clock in the middle of the road it was twenty
minutes to two when he reached the Cafe de la
Paix, and, as before, it was impossible for him
to take a chair. He rolled a thin cigarette with
a morsel of tobacco that remained in his pouch,
and paced his beat, smoking. At two o'clock
Billy had not come. He had not come at half-
past two. Kent doubted if this augured well for
the tidings that were to be communicated, but
he fortified himself by remembering that he
awaited a man who was rarely punctual in any
circumstances. Nevertheless, the later it became,
the worse the chance looked, and when the clock
pointed to three, he began to lose both hope and
patience. At a quarter to four there was still
no sign of Beaufort. The watcher's feet ached,
and the pavement seemed to grow harder, and
his boots to get tighter, with every turn. A little
tobacco-dust lurked in the corners of his pouch
— he thanked God to see it; and carefully, as if
it had been dust of gold, he shook it on to a
paper, and assuaged his weariness and rage with
another cigarette. Beaufort meant the success
or the failure of their plan, and while he had but
scant expectation of his turning up now, he dared
not go away. He promised himself to go at four,
but at four dreaded lest he might miss him just
by five minutes and determined to stop until a
quarter past. Despair had mastered him wholly
when a cab rattled to a standstill and, forgetting
the pain of his feet, he saw Billy spring out. A
glance, however, assured him that the waiting
had been to no purpose ; and after Billy had made
many apologies, and recounted a series of mis-
adventures, his statement was that he was un-
able to obtain any money until Saturday after-
Kent dragged himself home, and Cynthia and
he sat with bowed heads.
"We're done," said Humphrey, "and that's
all about it! I must tell the girl we can't pay
our bills and are turned out. But she's always
been paid up to the present ; what's it to do with
her, after all?"
"We wont be done!" declared Cynthia; "we
won't! Humphrey, if — if I wrote "
"No, by Jove !" he said ; "I do bar that. We've
kept our affairs from your people all along, and
we won't give ourselves away now. ... Do you
mind very much?"
She did, but lied nobly.
"You're perfectly right," she answered; "I
was a coward to think of it."
Kent squeezed her hand.
"You're a trump," he said. "Little woman,
I've another idea — Turquand!"
She was breathless.
"If Turquand has got it, Turquand will lend
it; but — but has he? Well, it's worth trying.
Let's see: I can catch the post; he'll get the let-
ter in the morning. If he answered on the in-
stant, we could have the money to-morrow night.
Good Lord! how tired I am! Where's the sta-
He dashed off a note begging his friend to
send five pounds ten — or six pounds, if he could
manage to spare so much — immediately, and then
he remembered that he could not buy a stamp.
There was a sick pause; defeat confronted them
"There's nothing for it," he said; "I must go
and ask the Garins! I'd post it without one if
we were in England, but here "
He left her walking about the room in excite-
ment and went down.
The bureau was shut ; he learnt that the women
"Do you think Nurse herself has got one?"
he suggested, coming back, "or — or twenty-five
"She is out, too. She took baby ten minutes
ago. . . . Humphrey!"
"The bottles!" she cried triumphantly, point-
ing to the wardrobe. "There are three!"
On an empty bottle of the wine that they
sometimes boiled in the evening, two sous were
refunded if a customer chose to give himself the
trouble to take it back. They had had occasion
to acquire the knowledge. Kent pulled the bot-
tles out, and, after an abortive effort to make
a parcel of them, caught up his letter and ran
to the shop. He got thirty centimes — bolted to
the post-office, and saved the mail.
Nothing could be done now but pray that Tur-
quand might be in a position to oblige him.
In the meantime the young woman — all un-
conscious of the jeopardy in which it had been —
packed her box calmly in the room behind their
door, and prepared for her departure on Satur-
day morning with the composure of one whose
ticket and wages were as good as in her purse.
By Friday evening the box was corded and la-
belled. When Kent and Cynthia entered and
beheld it so, suspense tightened its grip about
The mail would not be delivered until about
nine o'clock, and when they judged that the hour
was near, they sat with tense nerves, straining
to hear Etienne's heavy footsteps on the land-
ing. As yet they had not arranged where to re-
move to on the morrow, and they spoke dis-
jointedly of the necessity for deciding some-
thing. Kent said that it would be desirable to
have two rooms in the new place also; then they
would be able to talk when the baby was asleep ;
in one room it would be awful. This assump-
tion that the nurse would not be with the^v was
followed by intensified misgivings, anil ai .,'
agination both saw her sitting on her A in box,
with her hat on, while they faltered to £r \\ia\
after all, she couldn't go.
"If it comes in the morning, you j ow," he
said, at the end of a long silence, "it
time. Her train doesn't start till ten."
"Y-e-s," said Cynthia; "she expects it to-night.
. . . Is that some one coming upstairs?"
"Nobody," answered Kent, listening intently.
. . . "No, her train doesn't start till ten. I
don't think, in point of fact, that we can look for
it to-night. You see "
"We needn't give up if it hasn't come when
we go to bed."
"No; that's what I mean. One must allow
for — hark! ... no; it's nothing — one must al-
low for him having to "
Cynthia uttered a cry.
"It is! Come in — entrez — yes !"
"A letter for monsieur!"
Kent snatched it from his hand; it was from
Turquand. He tore it open. Postal orders for
six pounds dazzled their eyes. In pencil was
scribbled: "Here you are, sonny! — Yours ever,
Cynthia gave a hysterical laugh. They were
Ten minutes later, after she had blessed Tur-
quand and her eyes were dried, she opened the
door ol the adjoining room with great dignity,
"Ey the way, Nurse, I had better give you
your money now. You can change enough postal
orders for your ticket, you know, opposite the
Then she came back radiant. And Kent said
salvation must be celebrated and, as their cab
next day wouldn't cost ten shillings, they would
go out on the Boulevard and drink Turquand's
health — and buy some tobacco on the way.
Compared with what their state of mind had
been, they were supremely contented now that
the danger of their servant witnessing their dis-
grace was over; and in the morning, when they
had bidden her good-bye, and watched her drive
away, and their misfortunes were nobody's busi-
ness but their own, they drew a breath of verita-
Cynthia's trunks, and Humphrey's, and his
hat-box, and the dressing-case that somebody
had given to the girl as a wedding-present, were
drawn together in a corner of the room to be left
behind; and, with intermittent attentions to the
baby, they stored their toilet articles, and all
the linen that it would hold, in the hand-bag
that was to be taken with them. The bassinet
was already shut up and sewn in its canvas wrap-
per; and the blankets, and such of the child's
clothing as would not go in its box, had been
packed downstairs in the perambulator. There
was nothing further to do but to put the oat-
meal, and the saucepan, and a few other infan-
tile necessaries, in a basket.
Leaving Cynthia to collect these, Kent hurried
out to obtain accommodation at an hotel. He
went first to the one where they had stayed on
their arrival — it was close at hand. But all the
communicating rooms were occupied, and he was
forced to try somewhere else. Jordan, who had
done "Turf Topics" for The World and his
Wife, had once mentioned to him a place in the
rue de Constantinople as being cheap and com-
fortable, and he bent his steps there impatiently,
regretting that they had not made their arrange-
ments earlier. The mother had intended to see
to the matter, in order to be sure that everything
was suitable, and that there wasn't a draught
from the window, and the rest of it, but, being so
much worried, she had put it off.
When he reached the address in the rue de
Constantinople, he was not favourably im-
pressed. The terms were low, but the proprie-
tress seemed so, too ; and, though her manner was
jovial enough, and the place looked clean, he
hesitated to settle with her. After he had tried
at an hotel in the rue des Soeurs Filandieres, at
which he was obliged to own that the rate was
higher than he was prepared to pay, he decided
that he had been hypercritical and went back;
but, as ill-luck would have it, the woman had let
the apartments that she had shown him five min-
utes after he left. It was mi-careme, and the
streets were beginning to be blocked by sight-
seers. He remembered that Cynthia would be
sitting anxiously in the chaotic bedroom, won-
dering why he was gone so long; and, hurrying
through the crowd, he returned to the rue des
Soeurs Filandieres and said he had changed his
He was glad when he had done so. It was for
only a week, perhaps for less; and there was a
chambermaid who would be willing to assist
! madame with the little one when she could, since
madame found herself temporarily without a
bonne. She had a cock eye, but she seemed to
| have a good heart, and Kent assured her that
any extra services that she might render should
He made for the boarding-house at his best
pace and told the waiter to send for a cab con-
structed to carry luggage on the roof. Cynthia
was in a chair, with the baby on her lap s and
she looked up eagerly. On the table was a tray
with luncheon, for which she would have been
unable to go down, even if she had had the au-
dacity; and she explained that madame Garin,
finding that she did not appear, had sent it up
to her, unasked. Cynthia had not been hungry,
but that was very nice of madame Garin ! They
were not entitled to dejeuner to-day.
The little basket was ready now, and Kent
cast a gloomy glance at the impedimenta that
were to be detained, questioning if he could
manage to distribute more than three francs
among the servants. Almost at the same mo-
ment there was a knock, and Etienne entered.
"I have called a cab," he announced surlily.
"The patronne says there is no need for a voiture
en galerie, because monsieur must not take his
The colour fell from their faces, and for a sec-
ond they stood dumb and stock-still.
"Oh yes," stammered Kent at last, "we are
leaving our heaviest trunks — we are going to
send for them. But we need a voiture en galerie,
all the same. I will speak to madame Garin."
He found her erect in the hall in her favourite
attitude, her arms folded across her flat breast.
Her face was as pale as his own, and her eyes
were angry. Pie looked at her amazed.
"I don't understand your message, madame,"
he murmured. "I cannot have a voiture en
galerie? But it is for the things you have al-
"Not at all!" she exclaimed. "What do you
suppose you will remove from my house? You
will take 'what I have allowed'? But you need
no voiture en galerie for that !"
"Pray speak quietly," he implored. "Look,
there's the perambulator over there; and there
are the box and bassinet! Of course they must
go on the roof of a cab, we can't put them in-
"Zut!" she answered; "I do not permit you
to take such things. I will watch what you take.
! Fetch your things down!"
"Do you mean to say," muttered Kent with
I dry lips, "that at the last moment you refuse to
let us take the child's bassinet?"
"I never consented to it. You lie!"
"Good God!" he said. "Isn't mademoiselle
Garin at home? I want to see mademoiselle —
where is she?"
"My daughter is out. No; you will not take
the bassinet, and you will not take the per am-
bulator. You will take what you can carry in
the hand, and that is all."
"The perambulator we must have," he insisted.
"If you keep the bassinet, you must let us have
the perambulator — the child's bedding and half
its clothes are in it."
"Never!" she repeated, and hugged herself de-
"You have had my acknowledgment of the
debt, and then you repudiate the agreement,"
said Kent, trembling with passion. "It is very
honest, such behaviour!"
" 'Honest'?" she echoed. "Ha! ha! it was per-
haps 'honest' that you came here with your wife,
and your little one, and your nurse, to live in
my house, and eat at my table, and did not pay
me for it? You are a thief — you are a rogue
and a thief!"
His fingers twitched to smash some man in the
"And the box?" he gasped, fighting for the
ground inch by inch. "Do you allow that?' 3
"Never, never, never! Go and fetch your
He went up slowly with weak knees. Cynthia i
was standing in the middle of the room, pale and I
frightened. She had her hat on; the baby,
dressed for the streets, was clasped in her arms.
"She won't let the luggage go," said Kent
hoarsely. "God knows what's come to her — I
don't! Perhaps she thinks we were trying to
get out more than was arranged ; she swears now
that she promised nothing. Come on; it's no
good waiting. There's a cab at the door, let's
"But — but what shall we do?" faltered the
: girl. "Humphrey, Baby must have his things;
it's impossible to do without them! Oh, this is
"Awful or not, we must put up with it. For
Heaven's sake, let's get out of the damned place
as fast as we can! Where were the most im-
portant things put?"
"I don't know — they are everywhere," she de-
clared tremulously. "I want the basket when
i we get in; but afterwards I want the box, and
; the bedding — I want everything of Baby's. She
must be a perfect wretch!"
He seized the basket and the hand-bag, and
: they descended the stairs, the baby crying loudly,
and the tears dripping down the girl's cheeks.
Fortunately, the boarders had all gone to see the
procession; but madame Garin was still where
I Kent had left her, and Etienne, and the chamber-
maid, and the Italian waiter, suppressing a smile,
stood watching about the hall. In an agony of
shame that seemed as if it would suffocate her,
Cynthia slunk past them to the cab, her head
bent low over the child, and as the driver opened
the door, she fell, rather than sank, on to the
seat. Kent made to follow her immediately,
but this was not to be. Madame Garin stopped
him. She commanded him to display the con-
tents of the bag; and then ensued a scene in
which she became a mouthing, shrieking harri-
dan. Remonstrance was futile. Collars, stock-
ings, handkerchiefs, slippers, were wrested from
him piece by piece, and flung on the office floor,
while she loaded him with abuse, and the servants
nudged one another, grinning. Kent clung to
the basket like grim death, but the hand-bag,
when she threw it back at his feet at last, had
been emptied of so much that he dreaded to
guess what was left in it. He picked it up with-
out a word, and scurried through the hail, and
plunged into the fiacre. Even then the ordeal
was not over. As the man mounted to the box,
a woman approached with whom they had
grown rather friendly in the house, and, seeing
Humphrey with the bag, she came to the cab-
window and put amiable and maddening ques-
tions as to where they were going and when they
were coming back. Kent was voiceless, but Cyn-
thia leant forward and replied. In the midst of
his misery and abasement, he admired his wife
for the composure she contrived to simulate in
such a moment.
On reaching the hotel it was necessary to in-
vent some story to account for the absence of lug-
gage, and he remarked as carelessly as possible
that it would be delivered on the morrow. He
had ordered luncheon to be ready for them; and
in the room intended for Cynthia and the boy a
fire had been lighted. She flew to the basket,
and boiled some oatmeal while Kent endeavoured
to soothe the mite, whose meal had been delayed
by the disturbance, and who cried as if he would
never be pacified any more. When the food was
cooked, and something like order was restored,
the luncheon was allowed to be brought up, the
fillet overdone, and the potatoes hard and stifF*
However, after what they had been through, it
tasted to them delicious; and emboldened by
the thought that there would be no bill for a
week, Kent told the waiter to take away the
wine that was included and to bring them a bot-
tle of burgundy instead. The wine put heart
i into them both, and as their fatigue passed, they
drew their chairs to one of the windows, and
found courage to discuss the situation, while they
gazed at the little ornamental garden at the cor-
ner of the street.
The baby slept, tucked in the quilt of the high
big bed, and Cynthia said that by-and-by he
must be put inside the bed for the night, in the
frock that he had on. Every minute revealed
some further deficiency. They opened the bag,
and they had neither brushes, nor sponges, and
but a single comb. Yet she laughed again, for
instinctively she realised that she was at the apex
of her opportunity — that at such a crisis a wife
must be either a solace or an affliction; she real-
ised, that, whatever happened to them during
the rest of their lives, there would be moments
when he looked back on their experiences in
Paris and remembered how she had behaved.
As they sat there beside the open window, with
the remainder of the bottle of burgundy between
them, and a smile forced to her lips, the philistine
might have been a bohemian born and bred.
Again Kent marvelled silently at her pluck.
By the time the dinner was laid their nerves
were almost as equable as their speech. But this
renewed calmness received a sudden shock. It
was the rule of the proprietress, they were told
politely, to ask for a deposit from strangers, and
she would be obliged if monsieur Kent would let
her have twenty or thirty francs, purely as a mat-
ter of form.
Cynthia started painfully, and Kent refas-
tened the paper of his cigarette before he an-
"Certainly," he said. "Is thirty francs
enough? I've only a cheque in my pocket, but
tell madame I'll give her the money to-night."
When the waiter had withdrawn, he and Cyn-
thia looked at each other aghast. Their breath-
ing-space had been brief. They knew that their
having no luggage had made the woman sus-
picious of them, and that, unless they were to
be promptly turned out here as well, the thirty
francs must be found. Dinner had to be eaten,
lest they should appear discomfited by the mes-
sage; but the coffee was no sooner swallowed
than Kent prepared to go out. Swearing to ob-
tain two or three louis before they slept, and
reminding the girl that if Beaufort's expecta-
tions had been fulfilled he would now be in a
position to let them have much more, he went
to search for Billy among his various haunts.
The streets were massed, and the slow pace per-
mitted by the mob infuriated him. All Paris
seemed to have surged on to the Boulevard,
thronging the pavements and the roads, and
playing the fool. He pushed forward as best he
could, and tried the Grand, in the faint hope
that the other might be dining there, or that
something could be learnt of his movements, but
he was able to learn nothing. After all, he
thought, it would have been wiser to inquire at
the bar in the rue Saint-IIonore; and retracing
his steps, he now pressed through the crowd in
the direction of the Madeleine, impeded and
pelted with confetti at every yard. At the cor-
ner of the rue Caumartin a clown in scarlet satin
thrust a pasteboard nose into his face. Kent
cursed him and shoved him aside, and the buf-
foon spun into the arms of a couple of shop-girls,
who received him with shrill screams. The con-
course appeared to grow noisier and more im-
penetrable every moment. It was the first mi-
careme celebration that the young man had wit-
nessed, and with fever in his veins, and wretched-
ness in every fibre of him, this carnival confusion,
with its horseplay and hindrance, was madden-
ing. The lamplight sparkled with the rain of
coloured discs — they were pitched into his eyes
and his ears as he struggled on — the asphalt was
soft and heavy with them.
When he reached the Madeleine things were
better. But at the buffet Beaufort had not been
seen since five o'clock. Somebody there believed
that he had an appointment at nine at the Cafe
de la Paix. Kent edged into the throng again,
and forged his way until the cafe was gained
The figure that he sought was in none of the
rooms. He squeezed along to all the likeliest
cafes on the Boulevard in turn, and in one of
them he descried Jordan, whom he buttonholed
eagerly. Yes, Jordan had met Beaufort this
evening. Beaufort had said that later on he
might go to the Moulin Rouge. This was a clue,
at least, and Kent tramped wearily until the
glittering sails of the windmill revolved in view.
The price of admission had been raised to-night,
but he could not hesitate. The dancing had al-
ready begun, and two-thirds of the assembly ran
about in fancy dress. A quadrille was going on,
and in different parts of the ballroom three sets
were enclosed by vociferous, English spectators,
while the band brayed a tuneless measure. His
gaze roved among the company vainly, and he
thought that he would be able to make his ex-
amination better when the sets broke up. The
listless dancers, with stuff skirts and elaborate,
be-ribboned petticoats lifted to their shoulders,
looked like factory hands as they lumped per-
functorily over the floor. Momentarily a me-
chanical smile alleviated the gloom of their ex-
cessive plainness; at long intervals, spurred to
energy by the cries of the audience, one of them
gave a kick higher than usual, or threw a bit of
slang to her vis-a-vis; but for the most part the
performers were as spiritless as marionettes; the
air of gaiety and interest was confined entirely
to those who looked on.
It was midnight when Beaufort was found,
and he was partially drunk. Kent caught him
by the arm, and heard that his business had not
been completed to-day, but was — once more —
"certain for next week." Completed or not, how-
ever, Kent had to have money, and he made the
circumstances clear, a task which, in his com-
panion's condition, was somewhat difficult. He
said that they were in new quarters, penniless,
and that the woman demanded a deposit; their
luggage was detained at the Garins', and could
not be recovered unless he paid the bill, or, at
all events, a substantial portion of it. In the
meanwhile, they possessed literally nothing; a
good round sum on account of his claim was ab*
solutely essential. Billy was "tremendously
grieved." He answered that he could "manage
— twenty francs." And he repeated with emo-
tion that "he never deserted a pal." In the end
Kent extracted fifty, and, secretly relieved even
by this, but dog-tired, dragged himself down the
rue Blanche towards the hotel.
Cynthia was waiting up for him, reading a
sheet of an old newspaper that had lined one of
the drawers, to keep herself awake. She heard
the result of his expedition with gratitude. They
could now give the proprietress what she wanted,
and would be able to buy a hairbrush and one or
two other immediate necessaries. She kissed him,
and retired to the next bedroom, where she
prayed that the child would allow her a good
night. Kent, whose fatigue was so great that it
was a labour to undress, bade her call him if
he could help her in any way.
It seemed but a few minutes afterwards that
he was startled back to consciousness by the
baby's crying, and, listening in the darkness, he
heard Cynthia moving about. Blundering to the
door with half-opened eyes, he found her trying
to quiet the boy, and to heat some food at the
same time, and the weariness of her aspect made
his heart bleed. The fire, which had been built
up to last until the chambermaid's entrance, had
gone out, and rocking the child on her lap with
one hand, the girl, semi-nude, held a saucepan
with the other over the flame of a candle. She
rebuked him for coming in, for, "poor fellow!
he must be so tired." He took the saucepan
from her, and, fetching the candle from his own
room, held the food to warm over both flames,
while Maternity paced the floor. A clock in the
distance told them that the hour was three.
At last a tremor stirred the placid surface of
the milk. The baby was fed, and coaxed to re-
pose again. And, oblivious now of everything
but the need for sleep, they dropped upon their
beds and slept.
"Good-morning, monsieur. Here is the
"Good-morning. And madame, has hers been
"Ah, three hours ago! . . . Look, it is a beau-
tiful day, monsieur!"
Then, when the waiter had let in the sunshine
and gone, Kent would rise, and find Cynthia
either busily stirring more food over the fire, or
preparing the boy's bath. Afterwards she would
carry him into the little enclosure opposite, and,
what with her unfamiliarity with a nurse's duties
and the makeshifts that she was put to, it often
seemed to her that this was the only time during
the day that she was free to sit down.
Their meals were all served in Kent's bedroom;
but just as the luncheon appeared, the baby, who
was feverish and fretful, would surely cry, and
she would be obliged to call out that Kent was
not to wait for her. "Begin!" For dinner, she
made desperate efforts. By this time the child,
bathed once more, was supposed to be already
asleep; and more oatmeal had to be stirred and
carefully watched for five-and-twenty minutes,
an operation that entailed burning cheeks and oc-
casionally despair, since the saucepan had a
habit of boiling over without warning and re-
quiring to be filled and stirred for twenty-five
minutes again. When the task was achieved,
there followed a hurried attempt to make herself
look cool and nice before the soup arrived —
Kent was apt to be irritable if she was not ready
— and providing the baby did not wake at the
last moment and prevent her going in after all,
the dinner-hour was very agreeable.
Thanks to the chambermaid, they had been
able to dispense with the tallow candles at six-
pence each, and had obtained a lamp, which was
much more cheerful. The vin compris had
turned out to be rather good, too, and after the
appalling meals at the Garins' the cuisine struck
them as quite first-rate. Not infrequently, when
the coffee was brought in, they sent down for
liqueurs, and their evenings, despite the worry
of the day, and their ignorance where the money
was coming from to pay the bill, were very jolly.
Beaufort's expectations were still unrealised.
On Tuesday^ he was certain "Things would be
right on Thursday," and on Thursday, with un-
diminished confidence, he repeated, "Early in
the week." The proprietress of the hotel was
a huge red woman, who had been a low-class
domestic servant. The "gracious service unex-
pressed" by which she had attained her present
prosperity, the squinting chambermaid did not
know, and she added, with a grin and a grimace,
that it was really very difficult to conjecture it.
The flaming countenance and belligerent eye of
the proprietress would, in the circumstances,
have scared Kent from the door, had she been
visible when he came there to arrange, and on
Friday night he slept uneasily. She presented
the bill next morning at nine o'clock, and at
twelve sent him a message that she wished it to
be settled at once. His interview with her was
eminently unpleasant, and on Monday, when the
fire for the child was not laid and Cynthia in-
quired the reason, she learnt that the woman had
forbidden the servant to take up any fuel.
But for Nanette, their position would now
have been untenable. She smuggled wood to the
room; pacified her mistress by the recital of im-
aginary telegrams picked up on monsieur Kent's
floor; and finally, squeezing Cynthia's hand one
afternoon, offered to bring down some money
that she had saved out of her wages. This was
the last straw. Cynthia put her arms round her
neck and kissed her; and when Humphrey came
home and she told him what had happened, they
both felt that to have to decline such a loan and
wish that it could be accepted, was about the
deepest humiliation to which it was possible for
people to sink.
They were mistaken, but it was the lowest
point that they themselves were called upon to
touch. The day following, Beaufort telegraphed,
asking Humphrey to meet him at the Cabaret
Lyonnais, where, at a moderate price, he ordered
a little dinner of supreme excellence. Billy had
not had his loan made yet — that, he said buoy-
antly, was "certain for next week" — but he had
had a lucky night at baccarat. And after the
benedictine he pulled out a bundle of notes on
to the table of the shabby restaurant and, beam-
ing with rectitude, paid his debt in full.
With a cigar in his mouth and delight bub-
bling in his veins, Kent jumped into a cab, and,
having rattled to the rue des Sceurs Filandieres,
threw their receipt and the remainder of the
money into Cynthia's lap. She nearly dropped
the baby with astonishment, and though they
were unable to go out anywhere, it was perhaps
the liveliest night that they had spent in Paris.
After adding the Garins' account, and the cost
of their return, and a present to Nanette, it was
momentarily disconcerting to perceive how few
of the notes would be left; but the relief was so
enormous that their spirits speedily arose again,
and, extravagant as it was, they ordered cham-
pagne, and invited Nanette to share it.
Kent recovered their luggage the next morn-
ing, and the morning after that they departed
for London. They had heard in the meanwhile
that the Walfords could easily put them up until
No. 64 was ready for them. The journey with-
out a nurse was awkward, and though it had been
essential to go to the Walfords', Kent was cha-
grined to reflect that her absence would have
to be explained. Compared with the crossing
from Newhaven, this passage was, to Cynthia,
who had to remain below all the time, a long
voyage; when they reached Victoria at last, she
felt that she would have given a good deal to
be going to the Grosvenor Hotel. Strawberry
Hill was gained about nine o'clock, and Kent
found the house a pathetic descent from The
Hawthorns. Mr. and Mrs. Walford, however*
w T ere not unamiable, and as they did not refer
to the absence of the nurse otherwise than by
inquiring how soon he expected to replace her y
he concluded that his wife had anticipated their
surprise and discounted it more or less dexter-
ously in her letters.
"So the paper was a failure?" said Walford,
when the excitement of the entrance had sub-
sided. "Oh, well, you will be able to get some-
thing to do here, I dare say, before long. What
do you think of the house? Not so bad, eh?"
"Not bad at all," said Kent— "very pretty!
That was awful news, sir ! I was infernally sorry
to hear about it. Might have been worse, though
— a good deal."
"Ups and downs," said the jobber; "we'll get
square at the finish. Grin and bear it, Louisa,
old girl! You'll always have enough to eat."
Mrs. Walford laughed constrainedly. She did
not relish allusion to their reverses; it appeared
to her insult added to injury.
"I don't think we've either of us much cause
to grieve," she answered. "We're very comfort-
able here, don't you think so, Humphrey? There
are such nice people in the neighbourhood, Cyn-
thia — people who move in the best society, and
- — hee, hee, hee! — we are making quite a fash-
ionable circle; we are out almost every night.
Well, I don't hear much about Paris? Did you
have a jolly time?"
"We went everywhere and saw everything,"
said Cynthia. "Humphrey got no end of tickets,
and — well, yes, Paris is lovely!"
"Why 'well, yes'?"
"Well, of course, the paper's stopping was an
anxiety to us, mamma. Naturally. How's Aunt
"Emily writes us once a week, acknowledging
the receipt of her allowance. How she is I really
can't tell you ; she says very little more than that
she has 'received the money.' She's living in
apartments in Brunswick Square, and I believe
she is very glad she is alone. I am, I can tell
you! She has become very sour, Emily has."
"Apartments in Brunswick Square aren't so
remarkably cheap," said Kent. "Aunt Emily
must be expensive, mater?"
"Well, she has — er — one room. It's a nice
large room, I understand, and quite enough for
one person, I'm sure! There was no occasion
for her to take a suite, she isn't going to give
"No occasion whatever. A bedroom can be
very cosy when the lamp's lighted and there's
a bottle of wine on the table, can't it, Cynthia?"
"She won't have any bottles of wine. What
are you thinking of?" said Mrs. Walford. "Not
but what she could afford wine," she added
hastily; "but it doesn't agree with her; it never
did! I suppose you know that Csesar is still in
Germany? He has settled there. If there are
moments when I feel out of it in spite of the
company we see at Strawberry Hill, it's when
I read of the life that boy leads in Berlin. He
is in a brilliant circle — most brilliant!"
"Cynthia told me he had a first-rate thing."
"Capital thing!" affirmed Sam briskly. "I
tell you, he's going to the top of the tree. When
he's my age Caesar will be a big figure in Eu-
Kent thought he was a fair size already, but
replied briefly that he had been "very fortunate."
"Ability, my lad! He's got the brains! Do
you know, Louisa, it was damn foolishness of
us ever to persuade that boy to go on the stage?
He was meant for what he is — we'd no right to
divert his natural bent. He's in the proper
groove because his tendency was too strong for
us. But we were wrong — I say we did very
wrong! By George! he might never have made
more than a couple of hundred a week among
greasy opera-singers all his life. What a thing!"
By dint of many midnight conferences with
Louisa, he had almost succeeded in believing that
he meant part of what he said.
"Are his prospects so very wonderful, then?"
asked Cynthia, surprised. "What is it he is
doing? It is only a sort of clerkship, isn't it?"
"A clerkship?" shrieked her mother. "How
can you talk such ridic'lous nonsense? A clerk-
ship? Absurd! He's McCullough's right hand
— quite his right hand! McCullough says he
would be worth twice as much as he is to-day
if he had met Csesar five years ago. He told
your papa so last week — didn't he, Sam?"
"He did," said the jobber. But there was less
conviction in his tone. This was new, and he
hadn't taught himself to try to credit it yet.
"He told your papa that Caesar's power of —
er — of gripping a subject was immense; he had
never met anything like it. He consults him in
everything ; he doesn't take a step without asking
Caesar's opinion first; I don't suppose a young
man ever had such an extraordinary position be-
fore. Clerkship? Ho, you don't know what
you're talking about!"
Kent gave the conversation a twist by inquir-
ing Miss Wix's number, as he and Cynthia would
have to pay her a visit; and, on searching for
her address, Mrs. Walford discovered, with much
surprise, that she was not in Brunswick Square,
after all, but that her one room was in a street
leading out of it.
The mistake was unimportant. Moreover, his
mind was too much occupied for him really to
think of making social calls on any one but Tur-
quand. To the office of The Outpost he betook
himself next morning, and learnt that his friend
was at Brighten until Monday. This did not
look as if he had been pressed for his six pounds,
but in other respects it was disappointing. Kent
proceeded from The Outpost to the offices of two
other papers, where he left advertisements, and
after that he had only to stroll back through
the streets, which looked very ugly and depress-
ing after Paris, to Ludgate Hill. Luncheon
was over when he re-entered the villa, but it had
not been cleared away, and he found Cynthia
in the dining-room alone, reading a novel. He
noted, with as agreeable surprise as she could
have afforded him, that it was the copy of his own
book that he had given to Mrs. Walford on their
return from Dieppe. He looked at his wife
"Turk's not in town," he said, helping himself
to cold sirloin and salad; "gone to Brighton for
a day or two. I've paid for my advertisements.
Have you sent off yours yet, to try to induce a
general servant to accept a situation?"
Cynthia shook her head meaningly, and came
across and took a chair beside him.
"Kemp is awfully nice with Baby," she said;
"she is upstairs with him now, and on the whole
I've been thinking that we had better not hurry
to get home again ; we had better be a long time
arranging matters, Humphrey! While we are
here we haven't any expenses."
Kent stared, and then smiled.
"This is abominable morality," he said. "Paris
has certainly corrupted you, young woman.
And, besides, your people would worry my life
out with questions. Nothing puts me in a worse
temper than being asked what my news is when
I haven't any."
"That's all very well, my dear boy, but we
have no money. There's a quarter's rent over-
due now, isn't there? and we should only have a
month's peace before the tradespeople began to
bother. I really think we ought to take two or
three weeks, at all events, finding a girl; I do
indeed. Mamma and papa would beg us to stop
if they knew what a state we were in; it seems
to me we ought to do it without giving them
the — ahem — needless pain of listening to our
"You're very specious," laughed Kent. The
semi-serious conclusion might have been uttered
by himself, and he approved the tone without
recognising the model. "Has your mother no-
ticed that you haven't got your ring on?"
! "No. I couldn't tell her a story about it, and
I'm praying that she won't. I've been envying
you your trouser-pockets ever since we arrived.
Don't take ale, Humphrey — have some claret, it
will do you more good. If we sold our furni-
"What would it fetch at a sale? And apart-
ments would cost us more than the house! No
. . . we'll make ourselves welcome here for a
week or so. And — well, let's hope the advertise-
ments will turn up trumps! Then we shall be
One of the advertisements was to appear on
It was slightly disheartening to perceive how
many other assistant-editors were open to offers,
and he had the uncomfortable consciousness that
his competitors' experience was probably a great
deal wider than his own. He knew that a daily
was out of the question for him, and his chance
of securing a post on a periodical seemed scarcely
better on Monday morning, when he saw the
"Wanted" columns. Cynthia declared that his
own advertisement "read nicer than any in the
list" and that if she were an editor it would cer-
tainly be the one to attract her attention; but
Cynthia was his wife and not an editor, and her
view encouraged him no more than Sam Wal-
ford's supposition at the breakfast table, that he
might "obtain the management of a sound maga-
He went in the evening to Soho, and Cornelia's
successor, in opening the door, told him that Tur-
quand had returned. The journalist was at the
table, writing furiously, and Kent declined to
interrupt him more than he had already done
by entering. Turquand indicated the cupboard
where the whisky was kept; and, picking up a
special edition, Kent sat silent until the other
laid down his pen.
"That's off my chest!" said Turquand, look-
ing up after twenty minutes. "Well, my Pari-
sian, how do you carry yourself? Do you still
"I can still say 'thanks' in English," answered
Kent. "I was devilish obliged to you, old chap.
Here's your oof."
"Rot!" said Turquand. "Have you been pop-
ping anything to get it?"
"The popping took place before I wrote you.
Don't be an ass; I couldn't take the things out,
even if I kept it. Go on; don't play the fool!
Well, I've had some bad quarters of an hour
in the pleasant land of France, I can tell you."
"That's what I want you to do," said Tur-
quand. "Let's hear all about it. What do you
think of that whisky? Half a crown, my boy;
my latest discovery! I think it's damned good
He listened to the recital with an occasional
smile, and somehow, now the trouble was past,
many of the circumstances displayed a comic side
to the narrator. What was quite destitute of
humour was the present, and when they fell to
discussing this, both men were glum.
"I suppose you haven't been able to do any-
thing with the novel?" Kent asked. "Has it
made the round yet, or does a publisher remain
who hasn't seen it?"
"It came back last week from Shedlock and
Archer. Oh yes, publishers remain. It's at
Thurgate and Tatham's now; I packed it off to
them on Friday. Farqueharsen was no use; I
tried him, as you asked; he rejected it in a few
days. I wrote you that, didn't I ?"
"You did communicate the gratifying intelli-
gence. Vv r here has it been?"
Turquand produced a pocket-book.
"Farqueharsen, Rowland Ellis, Shedlock and
Archer," he announced. "I must enter 'Thur-
gate and Tatham.' I dare say you'll place it
somewhere in the long-run ; we haven't exhausted
the good firms yet. By-the-bye, the front page
has got a bit dilapidated; you'd better copy that
i! out and restore the air of virgin freshness when
Thurgate sends it home."
"You expect he will, then?"
"I don't know what to expect, you seem so
infernally unlucky with it. For the life of me,
I don't know why it wasn't taken by Cousins,
in the first instance. I looked it through again
the other night, and I consider it's — I don't want
to butter you, but I consider it's great work;
by Jove, I do!"
Kent glowed ; he felt, as he had done all along,
that it was the best of which he was capable,
and praise of it was very dear to him, even though
the praise was a friend's.
"I say, you know about your wife's aunt, I
suppose?" said Turquand. "What do you think
"She has left the Walfords, you mean? Who
"Miss Wix told me. But I didn't mean that
departure; I meant her other one."
"Not heard of any other departure of the
lady's. What? Where's she gone?"
"She has gone to journalism," said Turquand,
with a grin; "the fair Miss Wix is a full-blown
journalist! Don't your wife's people know?
She's keeping it dark then. She came to see me,
and said her income was slightly inadequate, and
she 'thought she could do some writing.' Wanted
to know if I could put her in the way of any-
"Get out!" scoffed Kent. "Did she really
come to see you, though? Very improper of
"Oh, Miss Wix and I always took to each
other. I think she dislikes me less than any-
body she knows. I'm not kidding you; it's true,
"What, that she's writing?"
Turquand nodded. His face was preter-
naturally solemn, but his eyes twinkled.
"I got her the work," he said; "it just hap-
pened I knew of a vacancy."
"Well, upon my soul!" exclaimed Humphrey.
"I wish you'd get some for me. Doesn't it just
happen that you know of another?"
"Ah! you aren't so easy to accommodate.
Miss Wix is a maiden, and her exes aren't large.
She gets a guinea a week, and is affluent with it.
It's a beautiful publication, sonny — a journal for
young gals — and it sells like hot cakes. I tell
you, The Outpost would give its ears for such a
Kent stared at him incredulously.
"A journal for young girls?" he echoed. "The
acrimonious Wix? Is this a fact, or delirium
"Fact, I swear. She does the Correspondence
; page; she's been on it a fortnight now. She's
rAunt' something — I forget what, at the moment
|| — they're always 'Aunt' something on that kind
of paper. The young gals write and ask her
questions on their personal affairs. One of 'em
says she is desperately in love with a gentleman
of her own age — seventeen — and isn't it time
he told her his intentions, as his 'manner is rather
like that of a lover' ; and another inquires if 'mar-
riage between first cousins once removed is pun-
ishable by law.' She calls them her nieces, and
says, 'No, my dear Plaintive Girlie; I do not
think you need despair because the gentleman of
your own age has not avowed his feelings yet.
A true lover is shy in the presence of his queen;
but, with gentle encouragement on your part, all
will be well. I was so glad to have your sweet
"Miss Wix, yes. Her comforting reply to
Changed Pansy the first week was a master-
piece. Must have bucked Changed Pansy up a
lot. And occasionally she has to invent a letter
from a mercenary mother and admonish her.
The admonishments of mercenary mothers are
estimated to sell fifteen thousand alone. You
should buy a copy; it's on all the bookstalls."
"Buy it!" said Humphrey; "I'd buy it if it
cost a shilling. What's it called? Well, I'm not
easily astonished, but Miss Wix comforting
Changed Pansy would stagger the Colossus of
Rhodes. Does she like the work?"
" 'Like' it? My boy, she execrates it — sniffs I
violently, and gets stiff in the back, whenever
the stuff is mentioned. That's the cream of the
whole affair. The disgust of that envenomed
spinster as she sits ladling out gush to romantic
schoolgirls makes me shake in the night. I've
got her name now! She's 'Auntie Bluebell.'
'Auntie Bluebell's Advice to Our Readers';
Winsome Words, One penny weekly."
Kent himself began to shake, and but that the
bookstalls were shut when he took his leave, he
would have borne a copy home. He told the
news to Cynthia, and she laughed so much that
Sam Walford, underneath, turned on his pillow,
and remarked gruffly to Louisa that he didn't
know what Cynthia and Humphrey had got to
be so lively about, he was sure, considering their
circumstances, and that he was afraid Hum-
phrey was "a damn improvident bohemian."
Their mirth was short-lived, unfortunately.
The first advertisement was productive of no
Tesult; and the solitary communication received
after the appearance of the second was a cir-
cular from a typewriting office. The outlook
[now was as desperate as before the post on The
[World and Ids Wife turned up, and their pecu-
niary position was even worse than then. When
they had been at Strawberry Hill a week, too,
the warmth of the Walfords' manner towards
their son-in-law had perceptibly decreased; and
though Kent did not comment on the difference
in his conferences with Cynthia, he knew that she
was conscious of it by her acquiescing when he
asserted that they had been here long enough.
At this stage he would have taken a clerk-
ship gladly if it carried a salary sufficing for
their needs; and after they had returned to
Leamington Road, and had temporised with the
landlord, and sold a wedding present for some
taxes, and were living on credit from the trades-
people, he began to debate whether the wisest
thing he could do wouldn't be to drown himself
and relieve Cynthia's necessities with the money
from his life policy.
The idea, which primarily presented itself as
an extravagance, came, by reason of the fre^
quency with which it recurred to him, to be re-
volved quite soberly; he wondered if Cynthia
would grieve much, and if, when his boy coulc
understand, she would talk to him of his "papa,"
or provide him with a stepfather. He did not,
in these conjectures as to the post-mortem pro-;
ceedings, lose sight of The Eye of the Beholder £
and devoutly he trusted that it would see the
light after he was dead, and make so prodigiouSi
a stir that the names of the publishers who had
refused it were held up to obloquy and scorn.
He was walking through Victoria Street to-
wards the station one afternoon, and mentally
lying in his grave while the world wept for him,
when he was brought to an abrupt standstill by
a greeting. He roused himself to realities with
a start, and found that the white-gloved hand
that waited to be taken by him belonged to Mrs.
"How d'ye do, Mr. Kent? Are you trying to
"I beg your pardon, I didn't see ! It's awfully
stupid of me; I'm always passing people like
"You've returned, then! For good?"
"Oh yes; we live in town, you know— in the
suburbs, at least."
"You told me," she smiled. " 'Battersea.' "
"So I did. 'Battersea' is Streatham, but that's
The mechanicalness of his utterance passed,
and animation leapt back in him as he recovered
from his surprise. The sun was shining and
her sequins were iridescent. She was wearing
, violets. His impression embraced the trifles with
a confused sense that they made a delightful
whole — the smart, smiling woman in the sun-
shine, the purple of the flowers, and the warmth
of her familiar tones.
"So you come to Victoria every day, and you
haven't been to see me!" she said. "When did
you leave Paris?"
"I — I've done nothing. Of course you know
The World and his Wife is dead, Mrs. Deane-
Pitt? When did I leave? Oh, soon after the
"I trust you've recovered from the bereave-
ment," she laughed. "Are you on anything
"Not yet. Editors are so blind to their own
"Well !" She put out her hand again, and
repeated her number. "When will you come in?
I'm nearly always at home about five. Good-
bye; I'm going to the Army and Navy, and I
shall be late."
Kent continued his way cheerfully. The brief
interchange of conventionalities had diverted his
thoughts, and his glimpse of this woman who
took her debts with a shrug, and had candidly
adapted her ideals to her requirements till the
former had all gone, acted as a fillip to him.
She typified success, of a kind, and in a minute
he had seemed to acquire something of her owni
vigour. It made him happy, also, to observe
that the manner of their parting had had no
sequel; and, in recalling the mood in which he
had walked through the Champs Elysees, he de-
cided that he had been extremely stupid to attach
so much importance to it. She was an agreeable
woman towards whom his feeling was a friend-
ship that he had once been in danger of exagge-
rating; he would certainly call upon her at the
first opportunity! It was quite possible that she
might be able to tell him something useful too.
Before he fulfilled his intention, however, an
unlooked-for development occurred. The office
of the agent who had endeavoured to find a ten-
ant for him was on the road to the station, and
a day or two later the man ran out after him
and asked if he was still willing to let No. 64.
Kent replied shortly that the opportunity had
presented itself too late; but after he passed on
he reflected. The house was wanted at once
by some Americans who had considered it pre-
viously. They now made an offer of three and
a half guineas a week for a period of six or twelve
months. It appeared to Kent that he had been
very idiotic in dismissing the suggestion off-hand.
With three and a half guineas a week, less the
rent and taxes, he could send Cynthia to the
I country for a few months, which was exactly
\ what she stood in need of; and though he could
not leave London himself, he could shift alone
somewhere till he found a berth and she rejoined
Cynthia and he discussed the idea lengthily.
She was opposed to the separation, but she
agreed that it would be very unwise of them to
refuse to let the house. She said that they might
all live together in apartments on the money;
fresh air and peace would be delicious if Kent
were with her, but she thought that she would
rather stay with him in London than go away
This point was debated a good deal. There
was much against it. It was absurd to deny
that their anxieties, and the restraint imposed
by her charge of the baby, had told upon her
health; in a little village where living was cheap
she would not only recover her roses — as soon as
he earned a trifle she could have a nursemaid.
If they took lodgings together, on the other hand,
they must be reconciled to going to a suburb —
and a suburb would be twice as expensive as the
country. By himself, Humphrey could get a
top bedroom in Eloomsbury for the same sum
that he now spent on third-class railway tickets.
The logic was inexorable, and the only further
question to decide was where she should go.
She recollected that a few years back Miss Wix
had been sent to a cottage at Monmouth to re-
coup after an attack of influenza. The spinster
had spoken very highly of it all — the picturesque
surroundings, the attention she had received, and
the cosy accommodation. If Miss Wix praised
it, there could be little to complain of, surely ? As
to the terms, Cynthia knew that they had been
ridiculously low. She determined to write to her
aunt and ask if she remembered the address.
On second thoughts, though, she said she must
ask her in person. She had not paid her a visit
yet, nor had Kent, and an inquiry by post
wouldn't do at all. They went the following
morning, having looked in on the agent, and in-
formed him that they were prepared to accept
the offer, and to give up possession at the end
of the week. The payments, of course, were to
be made monthly in advance.
Miss Wix lodged in Hunter Street, and they
found that in her improved circumstances she
boasted two rooms. The parlour that she had
acquired was furnished chiefly with a large round
table, a number of Berlin-wool antiinacassars,
and a waxwork bouquet under a flyblown shade ;
and at the table, which was strewn with letters,
the spinster had been sourly engaged upon her
"Advice" for Winsome Words. She welcomed
them politely, and offered to have some tea made
if they would like it, but, as it was one o'clock,
they said that they weren't thirsty. The request
for a five-years-old address evidently perturbed
her very much; but after a rummage behind the
folding doors, she emerged with it, and, to
mollify her, Cynthia referred again to her jour-
nalism and reiterated congratulations.
"Mr. Turquand told Humphrey, or we should
never have known, Aunt Emily. Why have you
kept it so quiet ? We were delighted by the news ;
I think it is very clever of you indeed."
"There is nothing to be delighted about. I
kept it quiet because I did not wish it known —
a very sufficient reason. Mr. Turquand is much
"I think you ought to be very proud," said
Kent — "a lady journalist! May I — am I al-
lowed to look at some of the copy?"
"As I can't prevent you seeing it whenever
you like to spend a penny," said Miss Wix bit-
terly, "it would be mere mockery to prevent you
"You underrate your public," he murmured.
"Winsome Words has an enormous circulation,
"Among chits," exclaimed the spinster, with
sudden wrath — "among chits and fools. Smack
'em and put 'em in an asylum! If you want to,
then, read it aloud. Cynthia shall hear what I
have to do in order to live. If Louisa weren't
your mother, my dear, I'd say that it's a greater
shame to her than to me. I would! If she
weren't your mother, that's what I'd say."
"Well, let's have a look," said Humphrey
quickly. "Where is it? Now, then — what's
this? Oh, Miserable Maidiel 'Yours is indeed
a sad story, Miserable Maidie, because you seem
to have no one to turn to for help and counsel.
I am so glad you resolved to come to your Auntie
Bluebell and tell her all about it. So you and
your lover have parted in anger, and now you
are heartbroken, and would give worlds to have
him back? Ah, my dear, I can feel for you! It's
the old, old story ' "
"That'll do," snapped Miss Wix. " 'The old,
old story'? My word, I'd 'old story' the sickly
little imbecile if I had her here!" She sat bolt
upright, her eyes darting daggers, and her pink-
tipped nose disdainful. "Haven't you had
enough of it yet? What do you think of me?"
"I think with respect of anyone who can earn
a salary," said Kent. "I see there's one to Anx-
ious Parent. May I glance at your advice to
Anxious Parent? 'My dear friend, were you
never young yourself? And didn't you love your
little Ermyntrude's papa? If so, you can cer-
tainly feel for two young things who rightly be-
lieve that love is more valuable than a good set-
tlement. Let them wed as they wish, and be
thankful that Ermyntrude is going to have a
husband against whom you can urge no other
objection than that he is unable to support her.' "
"I'm a sensible woman, Cynthia," said Miss
Wix, quivering; "and for me to have to write
that incomes don't matter, and sign myself
'Auntie Bluebell,' is heavy at your mother's
Her mortification was so evidently genuine
that Kent gave her back her copy, with replies
to A Lover of "Winsome Words' and Constant
Daffodil unread, and as soon as was practicable
he and Cynthia rose and made their adieux. The
apartments in the cottage proved to be vacant,
and as the references of the American family
were satisfactory, and the inventory was taken
without delay, there was nothing in the way of
the migration being effected by the suggested
date. Cynthia had proposed that her husband
should try to obtain his old bedroom at Tur-
quand's, where he could have the run of a sit-
ting-room for nothing, and this idea was adopted
with the approval of all concerned. Humphrey
saw her off at Paddington, and, kissing her af-
fectionately, told her to "Make haste and get
strong." And the close of a week, which had
opened without a hint of such developments, saw
Cynthia living with her baby in Monmouth, and
Kent reinstalled in his bachelor quarters in Soho.
It was very jolly to be back with Turquand.
The first evening, while they smoked with the
enjoyable consciousness of there being no last
train to catch, was quick with the sentiment of
their old association. And after a letter arrived
from Cynthia, in which she clapped her hands
with pleasure, the respite was complete. Kent
had been impatient to hear how the place struck
her, and she wrote that she had been agreeably
astonished. The cottage was roomier than she
had expected, and beautifully located. It was
furnished very simply, of course; but there was
a charm in its simplicity and freshness. The
landlady was a rosy-cheeked young woman who
had already "fallen in love with Baby," and over-
whelmed her with attentions. "If you do not see
what you want, please step inside and ask for
it." Kent smiled at that; it was a quotation
from one of the Streatham shop -windows. Also
there was a quite respectable garden, which her
bedroom overlooked. "There are fruit-trees in
it — not my bedroom, the garden — and a little,
not too spidery, bench, where I know I shall sit
and read your answer when it comes." She
wrote a very happy, spontaneous sort of letter,
and Kent's spirits rose as he read it. There
was the rustle of dimity and the odour of lav-
ender in the pages, and momentarily he pic-
tured her sitting on the bench under the fruit-
trees, and thought that it would be delightful if
he could run down one day and surprise her
It was very jolly to be back with Turquand,
though the satisfaction was perhaps a shade
calmer than, during the first year of his married
life, he had fancied that it would be. It was
convenient, moreover, to be in town, and a re-
lief to feel that the unsettled accounts with the
tradespeople round Leamington Road were, at
any rate, not waxing mightier. Nevertheless, he
missed Cynthia a good deal; not only in the
daytime when he was alone, but even in minutes
during the evening when he was in Turquand's
company. It was curious how much he did miss
her — and the baby: the baby, whose newest ac-
complishment was to stroke his father's cheek,
and murmur "poor" until the attention was
reciprocated, when he bounded violently and
grew red in the face with ridiculous laughter.
Soho, too, though it saved him train-fares, soon
began to appear as distant from a salary as
Streatham. Turquand remained powerless to
put any work in his way, and, despite his econ-
omies and the cheapness of Monmouth, Kent
found his expenses dismaying. He was en-
croaching on the money laid aside for the land-
lord and the rates, and, if nothing turned up,
there would speedily be trouble again. The
butcher who had supplied No. 64 had been to
the agent for Mr. Kent's address, and he pre-
sented himself and his bill with no redundance
of euphemism. When another advertisement had
been inserted ineffectually, the respite was over
and anxiety returned.
As yet Kent had not called on Mrs. Deane-
Pitt, and on the afternoon following his inter-
view with the butcher he paid his visit to the
lady. He was very frank in his replies to her
questions. He did not disguise that it was im-
perative for him to secure an appointment at
once, and when she agreed with him that it was
immensely difficult, instead of answering that it
was likely some opening might be mentioned to
her, his face fell. He felt that it behoved him
to deprecate his confidences.
"You must forgive my boring you about my
affairs,'' he said. "And what are you doing?
Are you at work on another book now?"
"I've a serial running in Fashion" she said;
"and they print such ghastly long instalments
that it takes me all my time to keep pace with
them. You haven't bored me at all. A post
on a paper is a thing you may have to wait a
long time for, I'm afraid. You see, you aren't a
journalist really, are you? You're a novelist."
"I'm nothing," said Kent, with a dreary laugh.
"For that matter, I wouldn't care if it weren't
on a paper. I'd jump at anything — a secretary-
ship for preference."
"Secretaryships want personal introductions;
they aren't got through advertisements." She
hesitated. "I can tell you how you might make
some money, if you'd like to do it," she added
tentatively. "It's between ourselves — if it doesn't
suit you, you'll be discreet?"
"Oh, of course," said Kent, with surprise.
"But I can promise you in advance that any
means of making some money will suit me just
now. What are you going to say?"
She looked at him steadily with a slow smile.
"How would you like to write a novel for me?"
Instantaneously he did not grasp her mean-
"How?" he exclaimed. "Do you mean you
are offering to collaborate with me?"
"I can't do that," she said quickly. "I'm sure
you know I should be delighted, but I shouldn't
get the same terms if I did, and I haven't the
time, either. That's just it! I'm obliged to re-
fuse work because I haven't time to undertake it.
No, but it might be a partnership as far as the
payment goes. If you care to write a novel, I
can place it under my own name, and you can
have — well, a couple of hundred pounds almost
as soon as you give it to me! I can guarantee
that. You can have a couple of hundred a week
or two after it's finished, whether I sell serial
rights or not."
She took a cigarette out of a box on a table
near her and lit it, a shade nervously. Kent sat
pale and disturbed. That such things were done,
at all events in France, he knew, but her pro-
posal startled him more than he could say, or
than he wished to say. His primary,emotion was
astonishment that Mrs. Deane-Pitt had had the
courage to place her literary reputation in his
hands ; and then, as he reflected, an awful horror
seized him at the thought of a year of his toil,
of effort and accomplishment, going out for re-
view with another person's name on it. The
pause lasted some time.
"I don't much fancy the idea," he said at last
slowly, * 'thanks. And it wouldn't assist me. I
want money now, not a year hence."
"A year hence!" she murmured. "A year
hence would be no use to me. But you could do
it in a month ! Pray don't mistake me. I'm not
anxious to get any kudos at your expense, I don't
want you to do the kind of thing that I suppose
you have done in this novel of yours that's mak-
ing the round now; I don't want introspection
and construction, and all that. All I want is
to buy shoes for my poor little children, and what
I suggested was that you should knock off a
story at your top speed. I don't care a pin what
it's like; only turn me out a hundred thousand
"A hundred thousand words," cried Kent, "in
a month ? You might as well suggest my carry-
ing off one of the lions out of Trafalgar Square !
The Eye of the Beholder isn't a hundred thou-
sand words, and I worked at it day and night,
and then it took me a year! Besides, that's an-
other thing; it is going the round — the story
. mightn't be any use to you if I did it."
"I can place it," said Mrs. Deane-Pitt, w^h
emphasis. "Don't concern yourself about its
fate, my friend ; your responsibility will be
limited to writing it. Your book took a year?
I've no doubt you considered, and corrected, and
spent an afternoon polishing a paragraph. Sup-
posing you take six or seven weeks, then? Do
you mean to say you couldn't write two thousand
words a day?"
"No, I don't believe I could — not if you of-
fered me the Mint!" said Kent.
"But you can put down the first words that
come into your head ! Any thing will do. Natur-
ally, it would be no use to me if you wrote
'Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard' over all
the pages, but any trivial thing in the shape of a
story, I assure you, I can arrange for at once. I
Indeed, it is practically arranged for; all that
remains is for you to give it to me."
She puffed her cigarette silently, and the |
young man mused. The plan was repugnant to '
him, but if, as she said, anything would do — well,
perhaps he could manage it in the time; he did
not know. Two hundred pounds would certainly
be salvation, and, for seven weeks' work, a mag-
"I'll tell you," she continued, after a few mo-
ments: "if you liked to do me a short story or
two now and again, we should have money from
those in the meanwhile. I don't want to per-
suade you against your convictions, if you have
any, but our business together would pay you
better than an appointment, even if you found ;
one; and — though that's nothing to do with it —
it would be a tremendous benefit to me as well.
See, with our two pens we can produce double
the work, and we share the advantage of the
popularity I've gained."
"Oh, I quite appreciate the pecuniary pull,"
he answered. "I could hardly write short stories
while I was fagging at a novel, though."
"I think myself one goes back to the novel all
the fresher for the break," she said; "but, of
course, everybody has his own system of work-
ing. Would you care to write me a couple of
three-thousand-word stories first? We can dis-
cuss the book later. If you let me have two
stories to-morrow night, I could give you five
guineas each for them on Saturday."
"To-morrow is out of the question. You don't
realise how slowly I write, and I haven't the
"Say the next day — say by Thursday. But it
must be by then. The man goes out of town on
Saturday, and I want him to read them before
he goes. If I can have the manuscripts on Thurs-
day, you can have ten guineas Saturday night."
"It's a very good offer," said Kent. "You
must get a royal rate."
"Well, I couldn't always offer you so much,
but, then, I don't often want them quite so long.
Two, of three thousand words, and to end hap-
pily, for choice. Not too strong. If they will
illustrate well, all the better, but you needn't
give yourself any trouble on that score — it's the
"I'll do them," said Humphrey. "I suppose
I must make an attempt to imitate your style?"
"It isn't necessary. I generally begin with a
very short sentence, like 'It was noon,' or 'It
rained'; you might do that; but I really don't
know that it matters. . . . Mr. Kent "
"Yes?" he said.
"This is a confidential matter; I rely on your
honour not to mention it to a living soul, of
course! I don't know how much married you
are, but I depend on you not to tell your wife.
It would ruin me if it came out."
He assured her that she might trust him, and
having pledged himself to the lighter task, he
resolved on his way home that he would under-
take the heavier, too. She did not want a year
of his best work — he doubted if he could con-
template that, even if refusal meant Strawberry
Hill for Cynthia and the baby, and the work-
house for himself — she asked only a few weeks
of his worst. Money was indispensable ; he must
make it in whatever way he could. A ghost,
eh? He was rising finely in the career of litera-
ture. His first novel had received what was
almost the highest possible cachet; his second
was "declined with thanks"; and now no mode
of livelihood was left him but to be a ghost. His
throat was tight with shame; there were tears
That passed. He reflected that with two hun-
dred pounds in his pocket he would be able to
sit down to another novel on his own account;
he might be luckier with that than with The Eye
of the Beholder, What were a few weeks com-
pared with two hundred pounds? Mrs. Deane-
Pitt must have thought him a fool to hesitate.
Practical herself, indeed ! But — well, for all that,
it was rather fascinating to feel that so intimate
a confidence was going to subsist between them!
'■> She had been a trifle nervous, too, as she took
I that cigarette; he hoped he hadn't been a prig.
She was very nice ; it distressed him to think that
she had been afraid of him even for a second.
Two hundred pounds? He wondered what share
I it was — half, or more than half, or less. With a
j woman, however, he could not go into that. His
i admission that five guineas seemed a lot to him
for a three-thousand-word story had probably
been injudicious — and it must have made him
sound very ignorant besides. Well, that couldn't
be helped. And he would be glad if the partner-
ship paid her well; whatever terms she obtained,
she must be perfectly aware that her offer was
a liberal one to a man in his position, and he
was grateful to her. He felt it again — she had
been "nice." He began to revolve a plot for the
first of the stories, and by the time he reached
home he had vaguely thought of one. When
Turquand came in, it had shaped. Saying that
he had work to do, Kent left him, and went up-
stairs. He drew a chair to the table, and sat
down and wrote — slowly, painfully. The man
was an artist, and he could not help the care he
took. He sneered at himself for it. Mrs. Deane-
Pitt had impressed on him that anything would
do, and here he was meditating and revising as
if it were a story to submit to the most exclusive
of the magazines in his own name. He dashed
his pen in the ink, and threw a paragraph on the
paper. But he could not go on. His conscious-
ness of that slip-shod paragraph higher up
clogged his invention, so that he had to go back
to it and put it right. Presently a touch of cheer-
fulness crept into his mood. That was well said.
Yes, she would praise that! The pride of au-
thorship possessed him; he wrote with pleasure;
and at two o'clock, when a third of the tale was
achieved, he went to bed feeling exhilarated.
It was no easy duty to him to complete both
stories by Thursday morning, and, confronted
by the necessity for making Turquand a further
excuse for retirement, he almost wished now
that he were living alone. He was vastly re-
lieved that the other accepted his allusions to
"something that would keep him busy for a
month or so" with no apparent perception of a
mystery. After the first inevitable question was
shirked, the journalist put no more, and behaved
as if the explanation had been explicit. Neither
Kent's friendship, nor his admiration for him,
had ever been so warm, as while he decided that
Turquand's experience must lead him to sus-
pect something like the truth and enabled him
to conceal the suspicion under his normal de-
With Cynthia the ghost was less fortunate,
though he barely divined it by her answer. He
told her as much as he was free to tell : he wrote
that he had work on hand at last, and that they
would have ten guineas on Saturday, and a large
sum in a couple of months. Where the stuff
would appear, he could not say without a false-
hood, and he trusted she would not be curious
on the point. The reservation that he regretted
gave to his tone an aloofness that he did not
design; Cynthia refrained from inquiring, but
she was hurt. She felt that he might have im-
parted such intelligence a little more enthu-
siastically, at a little greater length. Did he
suppose that her interest was limited to the pay-
ment? Was she only held sympathetic enough
to mind the baby when they were obliged to dis-
charge the nurse? Now that he returned to
work, her husband was going to treat her as a
child again, just as he had done when he was
engaged on his book ! She did not perceive that,
while he had been writing the book, she had oc-
cupied the position most natural to her; she did
not detect that the attitude in which she recalled
it was a new one. It was, however, the attitude
of a woman. The hidden chagrin and urbanity
of her reply was a woman's. These things were
part of a development of which, while they had
remained together, neither she nor the man who
missed her had been acutely aware.
Mrs. Deane-Pitt paid Kent the ten guineas
a few days after the Saturday on which she had
expected to receive the Editor's cheque, and she
made no secret of being delighted with the two
tales. They were based upon rather original
ideas, and after she had had them typewritten,
and read them, she talked to him about them with
the frankest appreciation possible. Kent almost
lost sight of his regret that they weren't to appear
under his own name, as the lady expressed her
approval, and declared enthusiastically that to
call them "excellent" was to say too little. He
found it very stimulating to hear his work praised
by Mrs. Deane-Pitt, especially as it was work
done for her. Although she had professed to be
careless of the quality, it was not to be supposed
that she would not rather sign good stuff than
bad, and the warmth and gaiety of her comments
took the sting from the association and lent it
When he began her novel, it was with the dis-
comfiting consciousness that the breakneck speed
imposed on him would prevent the labourer being
worthy of his hire. He was too nurried to be able
to frame a scenario, and neither he nor the lady
who was to figure as the author had more than
a hazy idea of what the book was going to be
about. He had mentally sworn to keep his crit-
ical faculty in check and to produce a chapter of
two thousand words every day — if he did not
bind himself to the accomplishment of a fixed in-
stalment daily, the book would not be finished in
double the time at his disposal! And he rose at
seven, and worked till about midnight, on the day
on which Chapter I. was done. He had corrected
in a fashion as he composed, and he did not read
it through when he put down his pen — that would
be too disheartening. He remembered the open-
ing chapter of The Eye of the Beholder, and, con-
trasted with the remembrance, these pages that
he had perpetrated appeared to him puerile and
painful. He folded them up, and posted them to
Mrs. Deane-Pitt with a note before he slept.
"Whether you will want the novel after you
have seen this, I don't know," he wrote; "I am
sending it to you to ascertain. It is a specimen
of the rubbish the thing will be if I have to turn
it out at such a rate. I will call, on the chance
of your being in, to-morrow afternoon."
He found her at home, and she welcomed him
with a humorous smile.
"You have read it?" asked Kent, with mis-
"Yes; I've read it," she said. "Violet! Pray
don't look so frightened of me!"
"Why Violet'? Well?"
"The type of modesty. Well, what's the mat-
ter with it? It'll do all right."
Kent drew a breath.
"I'm glad to hear you say so. I'm bound to
confess I thought it very slovenly myself."
"Oh, nonsense!" she said. "Have you gone
on with it?"
"No ; I waited for your verdict. I thought you
might call me names and cry off. I'll go on with
it now, though, like steam."
"Do! I suppose you couldn't manage a five-
thousand-word story for me this week, could you?
It would be good business."
He stared ruefully.
"No, indeed! Not if I'm to write a chapter
"Oh, the chapter a day, please ! Get the novel
done at the earliest moment possible; that's the
chief thing. You will, won't you? I should be so
grateful to you if you finished it in six weeks."
"I promise to finish it as quickly as I can," he
said. "Even if I didn't care to serve you, I
should do that, for my own sake. When I get two
hundred pounds, I shall be at the end of my
"Happy man!" said Mrs. Deane-Pitt. "Would
that two hundred pounds would see the end of
mine! And as you do want to serve me, you'll
do it even more quickly than you can?"
"That's very nice of you. I wonder how true
it is. One of the answers one has to make, isn't
it? Then when you're behind with the work,
and your wife wants to be taken out somewhere,
you'll nobly remember there's a miserable woman
in Victoria Street depending on you and per-
suade Mrs. Kent to go with a sister, or a cousin,
or an aunt? You'll say to yourself 'Excelsior!'
and other improving mottoes, meaning 'Loyalty
"I'll say 'Loyalty forbids' when I want to go
out by myself; my wife's in the country."
"Tant mieux! if it isn't shocking," she laughed.
"I'm afraid a woman on the spot would prove
too strong for me. Am I grossly selfish? Poor
boy who has got no wife !"
She looked at him as she had looked across the
supper-table in the avenue Wagram. He could
not think of anything to say, of a nature that
commended itself to him; and he exclaimed ab-
"Oh, you may rely on me, Mrs. Deane-Pitt;
I'll never go anywhere; I'll be a hermit! By the
way, you don't know I'm in Soho now. Perhaps
I'd better give you the address?"
"Certainly," she said; "I may want to write to
you. The Hermit of Soho! Well, when you've
been good and done penance thoroughly, hermit,
you may come and see me sometimes; I'll allow
you that distraction. Come in whenever you
like, and you can tell me how the thing is going.
Any afternoon you please at this time. And
don't come in trembling at me any more ; I don't
expect you to write me a masterpiece in six weeks,
Kent kept his word to her doggedly, and, al-
though he continued to rise early, he was seldom
free to join Turquand until about nine o'clock
in the evening. When the chapter was done, he
w r ould go downstairs, and light another pipe, and
Turquand would put away his book or his paper
without any indication of curiosity. With a wom-
an such a state of things would have been im-
possible; but Turquand's manner was so un-
forced that by degrees Kent came to own that
he was tired, or to make some other allusion to
his labour quite freely. And not once did the
other say to him, "Well, but what is it you're
doing?" On the days that he called on Mrs.
Deane-Pitt, it was later still before he could loll
in the parlour; the temptation to go to her, how-
Jcver, was more than he could resist. He realised
Very soon that she had an attraction for him
which was not in the least like friendship, and
which he could never term "friendship" any more.
In moments, as he sat writing in his shabby bed-
room under the tiles, the thought of her would
suddenly creep into him, and beat in his pulses
till he was assailed by a furious longing to be in
her presence; and though he often denied the
longing, he frequently obeyed it. He would throw
down his pen, and change his coat, and leave the
house impetuously, seeing her, in fancy, all the
way to the flat. During a fortnight or so, he
sought some reason for the visit. Would she like
the heroine to go on the stage when her husband
lost his money? Did she think it would be a good
idea to kill the husband, and introduce a new
character to reinstate the girl in luxury? But
presently such excuses were abandoned. For
one thing, Sirs. Deane-Pitt was too much oc-
cupied with her serial to accord any serious con-
sideration to his work ; and for another, she wel-
comed him as a matter of course. It was agree-
able to her to see this man who was in love with
her, and whom she liked, looking at her with eyes
that betrayed what he would not allow his tongue
to acknowledge. "Oh, I'm glad," she would say,
"I was hoping it was you. Sit down and make
yourself comfortable — no, bring me that cushion
first — and talk to me, and be amusing." Some-
times she received him radiantly, sometimes wea-
rily. On one afternoon she declared she was in the
best of spirits, and had just been wishing for
someone to bear her company; on the next she
sighed that she was worried to death, and that
he had only arrived in time to save her from ex-
tinction. "Bills," she would yawn, when he ques-
tioned her, "bills! A dressmaker, a schoolmis-
tress — I forget which. Some wretch threatens
something, I know. Don't look so concerned; I
shall survive. Cheer me up." Then the servant
would enter with the tea-things, and afterwards,
in the cool shadows of the drawing-room, through
which the perfume of the heliotrope that grew in
a huge bowl under the crimson lamp floated de-
liciously, there would be cigarettes, and a half-
hour that he found exquisite in its air of intimate
familiarity. Though no verbal admission was ever
made, there were seconds in which Kent's voice,
as plainly as his face, told her what he felt for her,
and seconds in which the tones of the woman said,
"I'm quite conscious of the effect I have on you;
we both understand, of course." Occasionally he
had a glimpse of her children, and once when he
was there, Mrs. Deane-Pitt took the boy on her
lap, among the folds of her elaborate tea-gown,
and fondled him. "Do you think I make a nice
mother, Mr. Kent?" she said, flashing a glance.
"This monkey doesn't appreciate his privileges."
She kissed the child three times, and in the gaze
that she lifted over his curly head there was, for
an instant, provocation that shook the man.
But such incidents as this were exceptional,
and, as a rule, Kent could not have cited a single
instance of coquetry when he took his leave and
returned to the attic. Nor did the passion she
had aroused in him militate against the success of
his enterprise, taking "success" to mean its com-
pletion by the given date. Perhaps he was more
industrious, even, in the perception that she was
always warmest when he had done the most. "I
finished the thirtieth chapter last night!" Then
she would be delightful, and if she had appeared
harassed at all, her languor would speedily give
place to gaiety. The tremulous afternoons were
never so quick with the sense of alliance, so en-
tirely fascinating to him, as when he was able to
surprise her by some such report. The desire to
please the woman became fully as strong a stim-
ulus to the ghost as his eagerness to receive the
money that would permit him to begin a third
novel for himself. The two short stories had been
published now, in a periodical in which Kent
would have been very proud to see his own name,
and though he did not grudge them to her, he
could not help feeling, as he read them, that they
were better than he had known and that it would
be eminently satisfactory to resume legitimate
After the fortieth chapter was scrawled, con-
clusion was in sight, and though he could not
quite sustain his earlier pace, he never turned out
less than one thousand words a day. Had any-
body told him, a couple of months before, that
he could do even this, he would have ridiculed
the statement, but the consciousness that accept-
ance was certain had been very fortifying. He
scarcely allowed himself leisure to eat after pass-
ing the fortieth chapter. The stuff was undeni-
ably poor, though it was not so jejune as it
seemed to Kent. The worst part was the con-
struction, for, ignorant what the next develop-
ment was to be, he was often forced to write
sheets of intermediate and motiveless dialogue
until an idea presented itself; but for the style,
hasty as it was, there was still something to be
said. Instinctively Kent gave to a commonplace
redundancy a literary twist, and the writing had
almost invariably a veneer, though the matter
written might be of no account.
During the final week he did not go to Victoria
Street at all. He could not suppress the artist
in him wholly, and for the climax he meant to do
his utmost. It was a sop to his conscience —
he could remember the last chapter and forget
the rest. He had sent or taken the manuscript
to Mrs. Deane-Pitt piece by piece, and he took
her the last of it on the evening that he wrote
"The End." A telegram had told her to expect
him. He had written the book in seven weeks;
but he felt as exhausted as if he had built a house
in the time, brick by brick, with his own hands.
She read the pages that he had brought, while
he watched her from an arm-chair ; and, with the
candour which was so striking a feature in such
an association, she cried that the scene was ad-
mirable — that she could not have done it half so
well. Kent's weariness faded from him as they
talked, and momentarily he regretted that he
had not been able to write a book for her equal
to The Eye of the Beholder.
With regard to her negotiations, however,
she was not so outspoken — it was only by chance
that Kent had seen the two short stories; she had
not even told him for what paper they were in-
tended. There was some delay in paying the
two hundred pounds, and her explanations were
vague and various. The partner with whom she
always dealt was on the Continent ; she would not
sign an agreement before American copyright
was arranged; she generally ran her stories as
serials before they were issued in book-form and
it was not decided what she was going to do —
half a dozen reasons f orpostponement were forth-
coming. She gave him his share at last, though,
and very cordially, and he felt some embarrass-
ment in taking her cheque when the moment ar-
rived, its being his earliest experience of business
with a woman. If he had had others, he would
have appreciated her action in paying him in full,
and only a little late, more keenly than he did,
though he was far from ungrateful to her as it
He put the cheque in his pocket as carelessly as
he could manage, and said:
"Well, you've done me a tremendous service,
Mrs. Deane-Pitt, and, by Jove! I thank you for
it — heartily."
"Oh, rubbish!" she replied; "the work's been
as useful to me as to you; you've nothing to
thank me for."
"It makes more difference to me," said Kent;
"it means — you hardly know what it means! I
needn't look out for a berth now ; I can sit down
to another novel. I owe you that."
"If you like to think so " She smiled, but
her tone was constrained. "I should be glad if
somebody owed me something; I'm more used to
its being the other way round."
"I feel a Croesus. We ought to celebrate this
accession to wealth; it demands a festivity! If
I get seats for a theatre, will you go to dinner
with me somewhere to-morrow night ? What shall
we go to see? Have you been to Daly's yet?"
"I'm engaged to-morrow night, and the next."
"This evening I am dining out; there's the
card on my desk."
''What a fashionable person you are!" ex*
claimed Kent, rather enviously. "Would Friday
evening suit you ?"
"Yes, I'm free on Friday; but a theatre is aw-
fully stifling this weather, isn't it?"
"Well, we needn't go to a theatre," he said;
"we might dine at Richmond. Will you drive
down to Richmond, and have dinner at the Star
and Garter on Friday?"
Mrs. Deane-Pitt promised that she would, but
the animation with which she had given him the
cheque had deserted her ; and after a minute, she
"I suppose your starting another novel for
yourself needn't stand in the way of our business
together? There are several things I can offer
you, if you care to do them."
"Oh, thanks," said Kent; "but I'm afraid I'd
better stick to the novel. I want to do all I can
with it, you see."
"L'un n'empeche pas l'autre — a short story
now and then won't interfere with it, surely? I
can place a ten-thousand-word story at once if
you like to write it for me."
The refusal was difficult, and he hesitated how
to express himself. He had never contemplated
the association as a permanent one, and now that
an alternative was open to him, its indignity
looked doubly repellant. He was surprised that
Mrs. Deane-Pitt expected it to continue. Could-
n't she understand that he felt it a humiliation —
that he had adopted the course merely as a des-
perate measure in a desperate case? He had
taken her comprehension for granted.
"I'd rather not, if you don't mind," he said
awkwardly. "It would take me off my own work
more than you can imagine. My motive for
doing this was to make it possible for me to de-
vote myself heart and soul to a novel; and that
is what I want to do."
She looked downcast.
"When do you mean to begin it? You could
knock off ten thousand words first, couldn't you?
And I believe an occasional short story would
come as a relief to you, too ! I wouldn't persuade
you against your will — pray don't think that —
but, as a matter of fact, there is no reason why
you shouldn't make a few pounds a week all the
time you're writing your book, you know^ if
you like. I don't want another novel yet, but I
can take almost any number of short stories;
or, if you preferred it, you might write me a short
thing that could be published in paper covers at
a shilling. Will you think it over ? I don't want
to hurry your decision." She hummed a snatch
of tune, and picked up a new song that was lying
on the piano. "Have you seen this?" she said
carelessly. "It's pretty."
Kent took it from her, and played with the
leaves in a pause. He was conscious that he
must decline now, and definitely, and the insist-
ence of her request made the duty harder every
second. Mrs. Deane-Pitt sauntered about the
room; she felt blank and annoyed with herself.
Was this her reward for liking the man enough
to give him two hundred pounds in a lump,
instead of paying him by instalments, which
would have been infinitely more convenient to
"If you won't think me boorish," he said at
last abruptly, "I'd rather keep to my intention.
I'm not a boy — I need all the time at my dispo-
sal to succeed in."
She gave a forced laugh.
"How much younger do you want to be? If
the money doesn't attract you, it won't be in
your way, I suppose; and — you can do it to ob-
lige me! Come, I'm quite frank! I own that
you're very useful to me. You don't mean that
you're going to strike and leave me in the lurch ?"
The face upturned to him was more earnest
than her words. Her brown eyes widened, and
fastened on him, and for an instant his resolution
broke down. But it was his work, and his am-
bition, his fidelity to his art, that she was asking
him to waive — he would not !
"Nobody so sorry as the 'striker,' " he said,
in a tone to match her own. "Let me be your
banker when I'm going into a dozen editions,
Mrs. Deane-Pitt, and I'll serve you all you want.
The service you ask me to-day is just the one I
"Bien," she murmured; "I suppose you know
your own business best."
But she was plainly disappointed, and, though
she speedily spoke of another subject, her voice
lacked spontaneity. Kent's courage knew no
approving glow, and if, during the minutes he
remained, she had begged him to assist her by
returning the cheque, he would most certainly
have done it. He thought that she must hate
him — though in truth he had never appealed to
her so strongly — and it was the only occasion on
which he had ever taken leave of her without
To Cynthia he wrote immediately, telling her
he had been paid two hundred pounds, and en-
closing twenty-five, that she might have a surplus
to draw upon without applying to him. He also
remitted to Paris the amount necessary to redeem
her ring, and his watch and chain, and the rest.
He had now an opportunity of going down to see
her, and he told her that she might expect him
on Monday or Tuesday in the following week.
The picture he had once seen of surprising her in
the garden had long since ceased to present itself
to him, and he was not impatient to find himself
in his wife's company in the circumstances. He
questioned if Mrs. Deane-Pitt would be disposed
to go with him to Richmond after what had
passed. To refuse a woman's petition to aug-
ment her income, but to invite her to dinner at
Richmond, was rather suggestive of the bread
and the stone. Yet, now that propinquity was not
her ally, he was fervently glad that he had had
strength to refuse. It was a partnership that
every month would have made more difficult to
sever, and she had, apparently, looked for it to
extend over years. As to Richmond, he hoped
the engagement would be fulfilled; it would pain
him intensely otherwise. He owed her too much
to be reconciled to their separating with coldness,
and he determined to send a note, reminding her
of her promise.
Her reply allayed his misgivings. It was con-
firmed by her demeanour when they met. In-
deed, her display of even more good fellowship
than usual made him feel rather guilty.
She seemed to divine his reflections, and to
assure him that such self-reproach was needless.
She had never been brighter or more informal
with him than in the hansom as they drove down.
Her air implied that their previous interview had
been a trivial folly which, as sensible people, they
must banish from their minds, and she talked of
everything and nothing with the gaiety of a
schoolgirl on an unforeseen excursion, and the
piquancy of a woman who had observed and
Her vivacity was infectious, and Kent's con-
straint gradually melted in a rush of the warmest
gratitude for her forbearance. He was so entire-
ly at her mercy here, and he thought that few
women similarly placed would have refrained
from planting at least one little sting among their
verbal honey. His admiration began to comprise
details. He remarked the hat she wore, and the
delicacy of a little ear against her hair's duskiness.
He noted with pleasure the quick, petulant twitch
of a corner of her mouth as her veil got in the
way, and the appreciative gaze of young men in
the cabs that rolled towards them — a gaze which
invariably terminated in a swift scrutiny of the
charming woman's companion.
When the hotel was reached, he had never been
livelier; and, often as he had read an opposite
opinion, he found it very delightful to see the
woman he was in love with eat, and drink her
champagne. It was intimate, it lessened the noli
me tangere mien of feminine fashion and brought
her closer. The attire of an attractive woman
who has never belonged to him has always a
mystery for a man, though he may have had three
wives and kept a dressmaker's shop. But liveli-
ness was succeeded by a vaguer emotion, as they
lounged on the terrace over their coffee and
liqueurs. Under the moon the river shone divine,
limitless in its glint and shadow. Her features
took tenderness from the tremulous light, and
sometimes a silence fell which, as he yielded him-
self to the subtile endearment of the moment, soft
as the breath of love on his face, Kent felt to be
the supplement of speech. A woman who could
have uttered epigrams in the mood that possessed
him now would have disgusted him, and insen-
sibly their tones sank. She spoke gently, seri-
ously. Presently some allusion that she made
begot a confidence about her earlier life — her
marriage. It disturbed him to hear that she had
been fond of Deane-Pitt when she married him,
yet he was grieved when she owned how quickly
her illusions had died. Her belief that she might
have been "a better woman" if she had married
a different man was pathetic in its revelation of
unsuspected heart-aches, and sympathy made
him execrate the feebleness of words. Her voice
acquired an earnestness that he had never heard
in it before, and while he was stirred with the sin-
cerest pity for her, a throb of rapture was in his
veins that she could be talking so to him. The min-
utes were ineffable, in which she seemed to discard
the social mask and surrender more and more of
her identity to his view. Spiritually she appeared
to be lying in his arms; and when she checked
herself, and rallied with a laugh which was over-
taken by a sigh, he felt that he could have listened
to her for ever.
"How solemn we've become!" she ex-
claimed; "and we came out to be 'festive' to-
"I shall always remember the 'y ou ' of to-
night," he said.
They were silent again. She passed her hand
across her eyes impatiently, as if to wave away
the pictures of the past. By transitions their
tones regained their former cheerfulness. She
mentioned the hour, and drew her wrap about
her. It was time to return.
"It has been delicious," she murmured, looking
up at the stars. "Only you let me bore you."
"By talking of yourself?"
"So stupid of me!"
"You know," said Kent — "you know!"
"I wanted to tell you ; you won't think so badly
of me, perhaps."
"I'm sure you have. Now, sometimes?"
"If I confessed my thoughts, you'd never say
so any more."
"Really?" Her eyes flashed mockery. "You
mustn't tell me, then — I might be vain."
The cab bowled over the white roads rapidly.
The flutter of her scarf on his shoulder stole
through his blood, and the clip-clop sound of the
horse's hoofs seemed to him to waken echoes
in his inside.
"Do you know, it was very indiscreet of me
to come down here with you?" she laughed.
"Supposing somebody had met us!"
"What would be thought?"
"What could be thought?" he asked unsteadily.
"Scandal, perhaps. I'm very angry with you;
you've made me do wrong. Why did you make
me do wrong when I had such faith in you?"
"You've given me the happiest evening of my
life," said Kent; "is that the wrong?"
"Do you think happiness must always be right?
It's a convenient creed. Happiness at any price
■ — and let the woman pay it. eh? That's a man's
philosophy. You're quite right, though; but,
then, you're at the happiest time of life. IsTo,
nobody is ever that! The happiest time of life's
the past. Believe me, or believe me not, the past
is always beautiful; to-morrow I shall regret to-
"So shall I," said Kent. "But very much in-
deed I appreciate it now. . . . What are you
cynical for? You only put it on. It's not 'you'
" 'Wise judges are we of each other.' How
do you know?"
"You said that to me once before — in Paris."
"Said what? Oh, the quotation! When?"
"At your place, after the Varietes."
"What a memory! Yes, you're certainly re-
solved to try to make me vain. But I'm ada-
mant. Did you know that? I'm made of stone.
Do you treasure up what every woman says to
you? The answer is a wounded gaze; it's dark
to see expressions, but I'll take it for granted."
"I remember what you said to me half an hour
ago, and I know your bitterness is a sham. You
were meant to be "
"Oh, 'meant'!" she cried recklessly; "a wom-
an's what she's made. I'm afraid Tve been made
untidy. Do you mind driving in a hansom with
such a figure?"
She plucked at her veil in the strip of looking-
glass, and bent her face to him for criticism.
The brilliance of the eyes that she widened
glowed into him as she leant so, and his arms
trembled to enfold her. His mouth was dry as
he muttered a response.
The sweetness of June was in the air that ca-
ressed them as they sped through the moonlight.
With every sentence she let fall, with every
glance she shot at him, she dizzied him more, and
he sat strained with the struggle to retain his
self-command. Through his febrile emotions, the
horror of proving false to Cynthia loomed like
an angel betokening the revulsion of his remorse.
He could imagine the afterwards — he knew how
he would feel — and there were instants in which
he prayed for the drive to finish and permit es-
cape. But there were instants also in which he
ceased to fight, and steeped in the present,
yearned only to forget his wife, though tardy
remembrance should be a double scourge.
Her fingers were busy at a knot of violets in
her dress; and she held the flowers up to him,
looking round, smiling.
"Shall I give you a buttonhole?" she inquired
gaily. "It would be an appropriate conclusion
— my ideals, my withered hopes, and my dead
violets ! Oh, I shiver to think of what I said to
you! Did I gush towards the last? I've a fear-
ful, a ghastly misgiving that I gushed. If you
acknowledge that I did, I'll never forgive you;
but you shouldn't have encouraged me. Stoop
for the souvenir! It cost a penny — symbolic of
the sentiment. . . . Though lost to sight, to
memory dear! It will be a very dear memory,
won't it? Use me one day! I shall come in as
material — the hard woman of the world, who
bares her soul on impulse, and the Star and Gar-
ter terrace, to the man she likes and stands re-
vealed as — as what? I wonder what you'd make
of me. Child, I shall never get this buttonhole
in if you don't turn! I've admitted I'm a spec-
tacle, but you might suffer for a second."
Her hair swept his cheek as she wrestled with
refractory stalks, and the dark eyes grew and
fastened on him again.
The hansom sped on. The quietude was left
behind, and the lights of the West End twinkled
around them. There was the rattle of traffic.
Kent was laughing at something she had said,
and he heard himself with surprise — or was it
himself? The cab rolled to a standstill, and they
got out. The lift bore them to her landing. The
servant opened the door.
"Good-night," he said; "I won't come in."
"Oh, come in; it's not ten o'clock. You'll have
a brandy-and-soda before you go?"
She entered without waiting for his reply, and
he followed her reluctantly. Only the lamp had
been lighted, and the room was full of crimson
shadow. He stood watching her unpin her hat
before the mirror, and pull at her gloves.
"I don't think I'll stop," he said again, "really!
I've something to do."
"If I can't persuade you " she answered
Her gaiety had deserted her, and there was
weariness in her attitude as she drooped by the
mantelshelf; her air, her movements, had a Ian-
guor now. She put out her bare hand slowly, and
Kent's clung to it.
He stood holding her hand in a pause. . . .
"I can't leave you," said Kent.
It was a little less than a fortnight after the
dinner at Richmond that Kent brought Mrs.
Deane-Pitt the ten-thousand- word story that she
had wanted, and, like the two earliest stories that
he had written for her, it was work to which he
would have been glad to see his own name at-
tached. He had promised to let her have half
a dozen short stories as soon after its completion
as possible, and it was his delight to surprise her
by the versatility, as well as the originality, of
the invention that he displayed in these. In one
he wrote an idyll; in another a gruesome little
sketch, bound to attract attention by its weird-
ness ; in a third he seemed to be running through
the stalest of devices towards the most common-
place of conclusions, until, lo! in the last half-
column there came a literary thunder-clap, and
this story was even more startling than its pre-
decessors. But all the links fitted, if a reader
liked to take the trouble to look back, and the
tragedy had been foreshadowed from the begin-
ning. The tales tickled the fancy of the Editor i
for whom they were intended. They tickled it
so much that he asked Mrs. Deane-Pitt to con-
tribute regularly for a few months ; and the lady
accepting the compliment and the invitation,
Kent continued to supply The Society Mirror
with an idyll, or a tragedy, or a comedy every
week, astonished at his own fecundity.
It was amazing how his hand was emboldened,
his imagination stimulated, by the knowledge
that his work was accepted before it was penned.
There were weeks during which he turned out a
story for Mrs. Deane-Pitt nearly every day. All
the stories were built upon more or less brilliant
ideas, each of them was noteworthy and dis-
tinctive when it appeared in The Society Mirror
or elsewhere ; and if his share of the swindle had
been punctiliously paid to him now, he would
have been making a good deal of money. Even
as it was, he was making it in a sense, for his
i partner always credited him with the sums that
were not forthcoming — entering them in an oxi-
dised silver memorandum-book that she kept in
| one of the drawers of her desk. When he said
! that it did not matter about that, she laughingly
told him not to be a fool.
His conscience was not dull, however, and
I there were hours when Kent suffered scarcely
less acutely than one realises that a wife may
sometimes suffer in similar circumstances. His
remorse then was just what he had known it
would be. From making his projected visit to
Monmouth he had excused himself — it was re-
pugnant enough to play the hypocrite in his let-
ters — and by degrees Cynthia ceased to refer to
his coming; but while her silence on the point re-
lieved him from the necessity for telling her fur-
ther falsehoods, it intensified his shame.
His abasement was completed by the seventh
rejection of The Eye of the Beholder. He sent
it off again at once, to Messrs. Kynaston, to get
it out of his sight ; but the return of the ill-starred
package had revived all the passion of his disap-
pointment concerning it, and he could not get
rid of the burning at his heart so easily as he
did of the parcel. The weight of the slighted
manuscript lay on his spirit for days after Thur-
gate and Tatham's refusal. The irony of it,
that Mrs. Deane-Pitt could place his hasty work
in the best papers, was enabled to pay him two
hundred pounds for writing a novel of which he
was ashamed, while his own book, to which he had
devoted a year, was scorned on all sides ! True,
he had had, in his own name, very much better
reviews than those that had been accorded so
far to the novel written for her. But . . . what
Once he owned to her something of what he
was feeling. He couldn't help himself — he
wanted her to comfort him.
"The Eye of the Beholder has come hack
again," he groaned.
"Really?" she said. "How many is that?"
"God knows! It's awfully hard that you can
place whatever I do, Eva, and I get my best stuff
kicked back to me from every publisher's office
in London, I'm miserable!"
She smiled. She did not mean to be unsym-
pathetic, but Kent hated her for it furiously as
< she turned her face.
"There's much in a name," she said with a
shrug. "What's the difference, though? Your
! terms aren't bad, 'miserable one,' whether the
name is mine or yours. By the way, I can work
another tale for The Metropolis, if you'll knock
it off for me; I was going to write to you."
Kent never appealed to her for pity again.
But a little later there came a letter from Cyn-
thia, replying to his brief announcement of Thur-
gate and Tatham's rejection. Her consolation
and prophesies of "success yet" overflowed four
sheets, and the man's throat was tight as he read
Well, he must do the tale for The Metropolis!
But he would write some short stories for himself
as well, he determined. It had not been a lucra-
tive occupation when he essayed it before, but
those early stories had been the wrong kind of
thing — he perceived it now: he would write some
short stories of the pattern that was so success-
ful when it was signed "Eva Deane-Pitt."
He soon began to see his work over her signa-
ture in almost every paper that he looked at.
If he turned the leaves of a magazine on a book-
stall, a tale of his own met his eyes, signed "Eva
Deane-Pitt"; if he picked up a periodical in a
restaurant, a familiar sentence might flash out
of the pages at him, and there would be another
of his stories "By Eva Deane-Pitt." Yes, he
would submit to the editors on his own account!
He would not receive such terms as she, that he
knew; he doubted strongly whether he would
even receive so much as she spared to him after
retaining the larger share. But he could, and he
would, get what was dear to him — the recognition
and the kudos to which he was entitled!
He found that he did not write so quickly for
himself as in his capacity of ghost, but he was
not discouraged, for he felt that he was writing
better. For a week he did nothing for the woman
at all; he wrote all day and half the night as
"Humphrey Kent," and when a manuscript was
declined by The Society Mirror he sent it to The
Metropolis, and forwarded the story rejected
by The Metropolis to The Society Mirror. He
could not abandon his work for her entirely, but
under the pressure that she put upon him, and
his new interests, he wrote for her more and more
hastily — wrote frank and unmitigated rubbish at
last, and on one occasion candidly told her so.
She had telegraphed to him at six o'clock, beg-
ging him to call, and he had risen from his table
feeling that his head was vacant. She clamoured
for a two-thousand-word story by the first post
the following morning, and insisted, as usual,
that "anything would do." He assured her that
he was too exhausted even to invent a motive;
how could he produce two thousand words before
he slept? She overruled his objections, hanging
about him with caresses. She made him promise
that the sketch should reach her in time.
"Write twaddle, dearest boy," was her part-
ing injunction, "but write it! A motive? A mer-
cenary girl jilts her lover because he is poor, and
then her new fiance loses his fortune, and the
jilted lover succeeds to a dukedom! What does
it matter? Write a story that Noah told to his
family in the Ark — only cover enough pages.
Write any rot; simply fill it out. I depend on
you, Humphrey, mind!"
He went home and did it — on the lines she had
laid down. She wanted drivel — she should have
it! He did not stop to think at all. He wrote,
without a pause or a correction, as rapidly as
his pen would glide, and posted the tale to her
before half-past ten. A note went with it.
"I have done as you ordered," he scribbled.
"Don't blame me because no editor will take
such muck now you are obeyed."
She had no complaint to make when he saw
her next. And it was after this that Kent's work
for her was uniformly fatuous, while he lavished
on his own a wealth of fastidious care for which
she w r ould have mocked him had she known.
He visited her at much longer intervals now, for
a disgust of her caresses was growing in him, a
horror of the amorous afternoons, which ended
always with a plea for additional tales. But that
cowardice prevented him, he would have stayed
away altogether. There grew something like
horror of the woman herself, insatiable, no mat-
ter with how much work he might supply her —
coaxing him for "two little stories more; any-
thing will do — I must have a new costume, dar-
ling, really!" while a batch of manuscript that
he had brought to her lay in her lap. He could
remember now, with her arms about him, the
many original ideas that she had had from him
at the beginning, and he felt with a shudder that
her clutch was deadly. First she had had his
brains, and now she stole his conscience. He
foresaw that, if the strain that she put upon him
continued, a day must come when the imagina-
tion that she was squeezing like an orange would
be sterile, or fruitful of nothing better than the
literary abortions with which his mistress was
His dismay at his position did not wane. It
became so evident that, by degrees, a coldness
crept into the woman's manner towards him.
He was at no pains to dispel it. That their re-
lations drifted on to a purely business footing
[inspired him with no other fear than that pres-
ently she might make him a scene and entail
upon him the disagreeable necessity for declar-
[ing, as delicately as he could, that his infidelity
to his wife had been a madness that he violently
regretted, and would never repeat. The obvious
retort would be so superficially true that fer-
vently he trusted that the necessity would not
[Meanwhile the short stories submitted in his
own name, with silent prayers, had all been re-
fused; but, undeterred by the failure, he wrote
more and more. The present tenants of No. 64
,were anxious to renew their agreement for an-
other six months, and he was pleased to hear it.
The prospect of meeting Cynthia again fright-
ened him ; and, closing readily with the offer that
afforded him a respite, he remained at his literary
forge in Soho, writing for Mrs. Deane-Pitt and
for himself — seeing sometimes three of his tales
for her published, by different papers, in the
same week, and finding the tales submitted in
the lowlier name of "Humphrey Kent" returned
He would once have said that such a state of
things couldn't be, but now he discovered that
it could be, and was. There was not at this stage
a periodical or magazine in London that Hum-
phrey Kent did not essay in vain, and there were
not more than three or four (of the kind that
one sees in a club or an educated woman's room)
in which his stuff did not appear, at a substan-
tial rate of payment, when it was supposed to be
by Mrs. Deane-Pitt. There were not in London
five papers making a feature of fiction, which did
not repeatedly reject the man's best work, signed
by himself, and accept his worst, signed by some-
body else. Not five of the penny or sixpenny
publications — not five among the first or second-
class — not five editors appraising fiction in edi-
torial chairs who did not either find or assume a
story bearing the unfamiliar name of "Hum-
phrey Kent" to be below their standard, while
they paid ten or twelve guineas for a tale scrib-
bled by the same author in a couple of hours when
it was falsely represented to be by Mrs. Deane-
Pitt. During nine months he was never offered
a single guinea by an editor for a tale. Every
story that he submitted during nine months was
declined, and every story that he gave to Mrs.
Deane-Pitt was sold. Raging, he swore that
some day he would set the facts forth in a novel ;
and even as he swore it, he knew that they would
be challenged and that, in at least one literary
organ of eminence, a critic would write, "We do
not find the situation probable."
Once an editor did know his name. He was
the Editor of a fashionable magazine, and Kent
had called at the office to inquire about a manu-
script that had been lying there for a long while.
The gentleman was very courteous: he did not
remember the title, and, unfortunately, he could
not put his hand on the tale at the moment, but
he promised to have a search made for it, and
to read it as soon as it was found.
A letter from him (and the manuscript)
reached Kent the same week. It was as consider-
ate a letter of rejection as any one could dictate.
The Editor began by saying that the story "was
clever, as all Mr. Kent touched was clever,
but " And then he proceeded to analyse the
plot, to demonstrate that the motive was too
slight for the purpose. The tone was so kindly
that, though Kent could not perceive the justice
of the criticism — he was sensible enough to try
— he felt a glow of gratitude towards the writer;
and his appreciation was deepened when the fol-
lowing post brought him a copy of the current
issue of the magazine, "With compliments. "
He opened it at once, and the first thing that
he saw in it was a story done for Mrs. Deane-Pitt
— the story that he had written, tired and in-
solently careless, about the mercenary girl and
the jilted lover and the succession to the duke-
And this, too, he swore, should be some day
recorded in a novel, though a critic, knowing less
about it than the author, would "not find the
Now, when he was least expecting it, there
came to him the first gleam of encouragement
that he had had since he received his last review*
Messrs. Kynaston wrote, offering to undertake
the publication of The Eye of the Beholder, if
he were willing to accept forty pounds for the
He did not hesitate even for an instant; he
said "Thank God!" as devoutly as if he had
never expected more for it.
Turquand had just come in.
"It's a wicked price," grunted Turquand ; "but
I suppose you'll take it if you can't get them to
"Take it! I could take them to my heart for
it! Oh, thank God! I mean it. Yes, it's beg-
garly, it's awful; but, at any rate, the book '11
see the light. Price? It isn't a price at all, but
the thing '11 be published. There's quite enough
money for us to live while I'm writing my next,
and this will send me to it with double energy.
I shall go to Ivy nas ton's to-morrow morning."
He did go, and, though he was less enthusiastic
there, his attempt to induce the publisher to in-
crease the terms was but weak. Seven rejec-
tions had made a high hand unattainable.
"I got a hundred for my first," he said, "and
you offer me forty for my second. It isn't scal-
ing the ladder with rapidity."
"The other was longer, perhaps," suggested
Mr. Kynaston, tapping his fingers together pen-
sively — "three volumes?"
"Don't you reckon that this will make three
volumes, then?" said Kent.
"Two. It's unfortunately short; that's the
only fault I have to find with it. I like it — it's
out of the common; but there isn't enough of
it." He sighed. "I am sorry that 'forty' is the
most I can say. I considered the subject very
deeply before I wrote you — very deeply indeed."
His expression implied that he had lain awake
all night considering, and that regret at being
unable to offer more might even keep him awake
He did not disguise his opinion of the novel,
however, especially after the matter was settled.
"Send us something else, Mr. Kent," he said
warmly, as he saw the author downstairs and
pressed his hand — "something a trifle longer —
and we shall be able to do better for you. Yours
is a very rare style ; you have remarkable power,
if I may say so. If fine work alwaj^s meant a
fine sale, The Eye of the Beholder should see six
editions. I shall get it out at once. Good-day to
you: and don't forget — make your next book
a little longer!"
Turquand would not be back for some hours,
and Kent did not hurry home. He sauntered
through the streets reflecting. He resolved that
now he would do ghost-work no more, and he
wondered how Eva would receive the announce-
ment. Disappointing as she would doubtless find
it, she would not have had much to complain of,,
he thought; he congratulated himself anew on
their liaison having ended, since it left him but
one association to sever, instead of two. Again
an access of remorse in its most poignant form
assailed him, and he wished he could bear his
good news to Cynthia in lieu of writing it —
wished he could confess to Cynthia — wondered
if the desire to do so was mad.
This desire had fastened on Kent more than
once. He thought he would feel less guilty to-
wards her — would be less guilty towards her — if
she knew. There had been moments when, if
they had not been separated, he would have told
her the truth in a burst, and, whether she par-
doned him or not, have lifted his head, feeling
I happier for the fact that the avowal had been
| made. He did not imagine that his craving to
| confess to her was any shining virtue. He was
; conscious, just as he had been conscious in Paris,
1 when he had informed her casually of the supper
in the avenue Wagram, that it was as much the
weakness of his character as its nobility which
urged him to voice the load that lay on his mind ;
but, weak or noble, the longing was always there,
i and at times it mastered him completely.
Sleet began to fall, and he went into a tea-room
and ordered some coffee. A copy of Fashion
lay on the table, and, mechanically turning the
pages, he noticed that the feature of the issue
was an instalment of a story in three parts by
Lady Cornwallis. The name arrested his atten-
tion, for she was the widow of a man who had
been a connection of the late Deane-Pitt's, and
Kent was aware that Eva and she were on friend-
ly terms. He glanced at the heading with an iron-
ical smile; the lady was not known to him as an
author, though she had figured prominently of
late in the witness-box, where a shrewd solicitor,
and a dressmaker of distinction, had posed her
in a quite romantic light; he surmised bitterly
that her maiden effort in fiction had been remu-
nerated more handsomely than his second novel.
What was his astonishment, on glancing at the
opening paragraph, to discover that the story
"By Lady Cornwallis" was another of the stories
that had been written by himself for Mrs.
As a matter of fact, the Editor, thinking that
her name would be a draw just now, had offered
Lady Cornwallis a hundred pounds for a tale
to run through three numbers. Lady Cornwallis,
who had never tried to write anything more ela-
borate than a love-letter in her life, and who was
being dunned to desperation for an account at
a livery-stable, had gone to Mrs. Deane-Pitt to
do it for her. Mrs. Deane-Pitt, who wrote much
less quickly than she pretended, had relegated
the duty to Kent. It was a literary house-that-
Jack-built. Lady Cornwallis, fearing that her
friend might ascertain how much the Editor paid,
had ingenuously halved the sum with her; Mrs.
Deane-Fitt, confident that the young man would
be unable to ascertain, had given to him ten
pounds. At the details of the transaction Kent
could only guess, as he sat staring at his work
while his coffee got cold ; but the evolution of the
story, perpetrated in a Soho attic for ten pounds,
and published as Lady Cornwallis's at the cost
of a hundred, was interesting.
He was fiercely and inconsistently resentful.
In one way it mattered nothing to him. Since
his stuff wasn't printed over his own name, it
was unimportant over whose name it appeared.
But the perception did not lessen his angry sense
of having been duped. He remembered the cir-
cumstances in which he had written this tale and
the lies that Eva had told him about it. Was he
to become the ghost of every impostor in Lon-
Though he did not refer to the discovery that
he had made, it lent a firmness to his tone when
he informed her that his book was accepted and
that he was ging down to the country to devote
a year to another. She heard him without re-
monstrance. Whatever her faults, she had the
virtue of being a woman of the world, and she
did not endow the parting, for which she was
partially prepared, with any tactless tragedy.
For an instant only, recalling the benefit of his-
trionics at Richmond, she considered the feasibil-
ity of sentiment begetting a reconciliation; then
she dismissed the idea. The man was remorseful
— not of having become estranged from her, but
of having succumbed — and sentiment would be
wasted to-day. Besides, it would make the inter-
view painful for him, and she didn't care for him
half enough to be eager to give him a bad time.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Everything has an end," she said languidly —
"even Daniel Deronda. I owe you a lot of
money, by-the-by. I'm afraid I can't square ac-
counts with you at the moment, but I suppose
you don't mind trusting me?"
"You owe me nothing," said Kent. "If my
boorishness has left any liking for me possible,
let me have the pleasure of feeling that I did you
one or two trifling services."
But he did not go down to the country. More
than ever he felt that to rejoin his wife with his
guilt unacknowledged would be a greater trial
than he could endure. She was so innocent.
If she had been a different kind of woman, his
reluctance would have been duller and easier to
overcome ; but to have been false to Cynthia made
him feei as if he had robbed a blind girl.
That he could not delay rejoining her much
longer he was distressfully aware. It was ten
months since she had gone away, and even if the
people in Streatham wished to retain the house
for a third half-year, as he understood was likely
— their return to New York, or wherever they
had come from, being indefinitely postponed —
that would be no reason why he and Cynthia
should not live together at Monmouth or some-
He had written her that Messrs. Kynaston had
taken The Eye of the Beholder, and during the
next day or two he was in hourly expectation of
her reply. On the third afternoon after he had
posted his letter, the door opened and she came
into the room.
He had not heard the bell ring, and at the
sound of her footstep he turned quickly — and
then, almost before he realised it, his wife was in
his arms, laughing and half crying, saying how
glad she was to see him, how delighted she was
at the book's acceptance.
"I had to come," she exclaimed — "I had to!
Oh, darling! you don't mind because the money
isn't much? Think what Kynaston said of it!
And for your next you'll get proper terms. . . •
Well, are you surprised to see me ? Let me look
at you. You're different. What have you been
doing to yourself? And Baby — you wouldn't
know Baby. He talks! . . . I've been praying
you'd be at home. I wouldn't let them show
me in; I've been picturing walking in on you all
the way in the train. . . . Sweetheart!" She
squeezed him to her again, and then held him
at arm's length, regarding him gaily. "You've
changed," she repeated; "you look more serious.
And I? Am I all right — am I a disappoint-
"You're beautiful," said Kent slowly. "You
have changed, too."
He gazed at her with a curious sense of un-
f amiliarity, striving to define to himself the alter-
ation that puzzled him. Her face had gained
something besides the hues of health. It seemed
to him that her eyes were deeper, that her smile
was more complex. Vaguely he felt that he had
thought of her as a girl and was beholding a
woman — that he had insulted a woman who was
lovelier than any he had known.
"Aren't you going to invite me to take off my
things? May I?"
"Do," he said, with the same sense of strange-
ness. "Can I help you?" He took them from her,
awkwardly, and put her into a comfortable chair,
and made up the fire. "It's a new hat, it suits
you! I always liked you in a little hat. Did you
get it down there?"
"I trimmed it myself," she said. "Mind the
"You shall have some tea — or would you rather
have dinner? You must be hungry!"
"Tea, please, and cake. Can you produce
"There's a confectioner's just round the cor-
ner." He rang the bell.
"Then, madeira. I didn't tell the servant who
I was; better say 'my wife' casually when she
comes in. I suppose you don't have ladies to
tea and madeira cake, as a rule?"
"Not as a rule," he said — "no."
She laughed again, and stretched her shoes to
the blaze luxuriously.
"So this is the room, This is where you lived
before we knew each other. How funny that
it should be the first time I've been in it! I've
often imagined you here, and it isn't the least
bit like what I fancied, of course; I always saw
the window over there! Well, talk to me — tell
me all! what you are thinking about? I believe
you find me plain now the hat's off!"
Tea was brought to them in about a quarter of
an hour, and they sat before the fire sipping it,
and stealing glances at each other — the woman's,
amused, delicious; Kent's, guilty and tortured.
He was tempted to kiss her, but could not bring
himself to do it deliberately; and with every
phrase that fell from her lips his heart grew
"You've scarcely been to Strawberry Hill all
the time, I hear," she said. "This is very good
tea, Humphrey 1"
"Not very often; I've been so busy. Yes, it
isn't bad, is it ? the landlady gets it for me. Are
they offended with me?"
"H'mph! they'll look over it. You'll have to
be very nice and repentant."
"I will. I'll go this week if I can."
"This week? You must take me to-night!"
she cried. "What do you suppose is going to be-
come of me? I can't stop here. . . . Shall I
give you another cup ?"
Kent felt the blood sinking from his face. His
hands shook as he bent over the fire, and for a
moment he had no voice to reply.
"You don't go back to Monmouth to-night?"
he asked harshly, without looking at her.
"N" — no," she said; "I can't go back till to-
"I was thinking of the child," he muttered.
"He's as safe with the nurse as with me," she
answered; "I wouldn't have left him even for
a day if he hadn't been."
"I see," said Kent.
His pause appeared to him to become signifi-
cant and terrible.
"I can't go there with you this evening," he
said abruptly; "it can't be done. I have to be
here — there is some one I must meet. I mean,
I can take you there, but I can't possibly stay.
You — you must forgive me, Cynthia."
Still he was not looking at her. When she
spoke, her tone was different.
"You will do as you like," she said quietly.
He lifted himself, and faced her.
"Cynthia, don't think I don't care for you."
She did not answer, but she was very pale, and
her lips were proudly set.
"You're angry with me?" he stammered.
"What prevents you — your business? If you're
too late for a train, there are hansoms. It
would be expensive, I know "
"Perhaps it might cost half a sovereign."
"Cynthia! It's impossible."
"Oh, please don't let's talk about it!" she said.
"I made a mistake, that's all. I've made a good
many since I married you; this was one more."
"I can't go," gasped Kent, fighting for his
words. "I If I cared for you less, I should!
I can't go, because there's something I must tell
you first. If . . . but you won't. I want you
to know . . . I've a confession to make to you.
It's over, but . . . I've acted badly to you; I
haven't the right to go to you. For God's sake,
don't hate me more than you can help — I've been
Her first sensation was as if, without warning,
he had dealt her a brutal blow in the face. There
was the same staggered sense of fright, succeeded
by the same sick wave of horror. Another woman
had known him? Her brain did not leap for de*
tails instantaneously, as a man's would have leapt
in the inverse situation; the name the woman
bore, her position — what had such things to do
with it? Curiosity to compare her with herself
in looks would follow; now, while she stared at
him with bloodless features, she was conscious of
nothing but the pollution: another woman had
known him. Kent stared back at her, appalled at
her aspect ; but he divined what she felt no more
than he could have understood her emotions had
she analysed them for him. "Another woman had
known him" was the tumult in her soul; he be-
lieved her pride outraged that he had known
another woman. The difference was enormous.
The curiosity and thirst for vengeance apart,
the wife's sensation was what the husband's
would have been, had he heard of her own de-
filement. But that he himself appeared to her
defiled he could not grasp ; unworthy, contempti-
ble, corrupt, he realised, but "defiled," no.
"Cynthia, forgive me!"
She swayed a little as his voice struck her
"You see why I couldn't go?"
"Yes," she said hoarsely.
"I should have told you anyhow soon. . . .
You aren't sorry I've told you?"
"I don't know. I think ... I think I'm sorry
just now. I shall be able to thank you for that
"I did it for the best," said Kent.
"You were right."
He leant against the mantelpiece, his chin
sunk. The only sound in the room came from the
kettle, on which the woman's eyes were fixed
intently. The clock of St. Giles-in-the-Fields
"What am I to do?" he said.
"Oh," she moaned, "don't ask me; I can't think
yet. . . . You've killed me, Humphrey — you've
He dropped before her chair and stroked her
hand. Her pain writhed like a live thing at his
touch, but, in pity for him, she let the hand lie
still and suffered.
"Did you . . . love her so much?" she asked.
"God knows I didn't!"
"And yet Humphrey, she wasn't ?"
"I was mad. She was a lady. It wasn't love;
I didn't love her at all. ... If you were a man,
you'd understand. I sinned with my body, but
my mind — she never had that ... it was with
you — with you. It was the animal in me — how
can I explain to an angel?"
Presently she said:
"Does a woman ever learn to understand a
man? She gives him her life; yet to the end
They begin differently. . . . He has known
everything before he comes to her, and she has
known nothing. She's told that it doesn't matter,
that it's right. She doesn't believe it in her heart
— the more she loves him, the less she believes it —
but she tries to persuade herself she believes it.
It's wrong — wrong! To him she's a new girl,
and to her he is a new world. How can marriage
be the same thing to both. You didn't love her,
but you gave yourself to her. Could a husband
think less of his wife's sin for a reason like that?"
Kent rose, and stood beside her dumbly. Some
glimmer of her point of view reached him and
confused him by its strangeness.
"I'll do whatever you want. What can I
"Help me to forget," she said in a low voice.
"Will you help me to forget?"
"You'll let me come to you?"
"Give me a few days — wait a few days. Only
I can't be your wife again, Humphrey, all at once
— I can't. . . . All, don't think me unforgiving;
it isn't that. Come to me, if you will, and work,
and we'll be good friends together. Don't be
afraid, I won't make it bad for you, I promise —
I'll never remind you even by a look. . . . Are
the terms too hard?"
The seconds crept away.
"I must go," she said; "I'll write to you."
"Shall you go to your mother's?"
"I must; there's no train to Monmouth after
three. Will you send for a cab to take me to
Waterloo? I'll tell them you were coming with
me, but something prevented you. . . . Can I
bathe my eyes in your room before I go ?"
Kent showed her where it was, and waited for
her in the parlour. Then they went downstairs
together to the cab. She leant forward and gave
him her hand.
"Don't be afraid of me," she whispered again.
"God bless you!" he said, closing the door.
Cynthia wrote to him to go to her.
The day was bright, and a promise of spring
was in the air as he journeyed down. Some of
its brightness seemed to tinge his mood, and he
was conscious of a vague wonder at the pleasur-
able emotions that stirred him as fields and
hedgerows shot past.
She was on the platform awaiting him, though
he had not telegraphed the time of his arrival.
He saw her at once, and was momentarily a prey
to misgivings. Her welcoming smile as they ad-
vanced towards each other dissipated his dread.
But it revived his embarrassment, and his em-
barrassment appeared to her pitiable.
"I knew," she said frankly, "that you would
come by this train."
She gave orders to a porter about the luggage,
and Kent passed into Monmouth by her side. He
heard that her brother had come down to see her,
and was at the cottage now. Csesar was having a
holiday, and had been spending a fortnight with
"He was going back this evening, but I made
him stay till to-morrow. Mrs. Evans found him
a room a few doors off."
He understood that it was to lessen the awk-
wardness of the first evening for him that she
had detained her brother, and he was grateful to
"You must know the place well by now?" he
said, looking about him.
"Every inch, I think. It's so pretty. I'm
sorry it isn't summer; you'd see. We have a lot
of artists then. I got rather chummy with two
girls painting here in the autumn; we used to go
to tea at each other's lodgings. I learnt a lot. . . .
That's our house — the one at the corner. There's
Mrs. Evans at the gate. She calls you 'the mas-
ter.' She hopes the master will find her cooking
good enough for him. For tea she's made some
hot cakes specially in your honour."
As they drew nearer, a nurse approached
wheeling a child. He heard that it was "Hum-
phrey," and bent over the little fellow timidly.
Cynthia hung about them, praying that the boy
would not cry. She asked him who the gentle-
man was, and, having been repeatedly told that
"papa was coming," he answered "Papa!"
Whereat she triumphed and the man was pleased.
In the parlour, which struck Kent agreeably
with its quiet, old-fashioned air, the Right Hand
of McCullough was perusing a financial paper.
He put it aside to greet Kent cordially. His
presence dominated the evening, and, in the
knowledge that he was departing early next day,
Kent even found him amusing, though to be
amusing was not his aim. Ostensibly he had
come to England on a financial mission, and his
vague allusions to it were weighted by several
names of European importance. Occasionally his
attention wandered and he lapsed into a brown
study, obviously preoccupied by millions. For
this he apologised, in case it had been unnoticed,
and rallied Cynthia on the "yellow-backs" that
were visible on the bookshelf.
"I'm afraid I see a lot of yellow-backs!" he
said, lifting a playful finger.
A novel, by a woman, of which The Speaker
had written that "it's dialogue would move every
literary artist to enthusiasm," lay on the window-
sill — Kent had already observed it with gratifi-
cation — and Caesar acknowledged that he had
read it. He conceded that it possessed a "super-
ficial smartness." "Superficial" was his latest
word, and when his discourse took a literary turn,
his authoritative opinions were peppered with it.
Kent's bedroom was furnished very plainly,
but it was exquisitely neat. His gaze rested with
thankfulness on a large table, of a solidity that
seemed to promise that it would not wobble. Be-
side the blotting-pad was an inkstand, of whose
construction the primary object had been that it
should hold ink; a handful of early flowers was
arranged in a china bowl. There was a knot in
his throat as he contemplated these preparations
— the more touching for their simplicity — and
when he sat down, the table confirmed its prom-
ise, and he found that the position afforded him
a view of a corner of the garden.
It was here that he worked.
By degrees the frankness of her manner be-
came more spontaneous in Cynthia, and his em-
barrassment in her society was sometimes forgot-
ten. They were, as she had promised, the best of
friends. Their rambles together had a charm
which one associates with a honeymoon, but in
which their own honeymoon had been lacking.
In these rambles Kent was never bored; it ap-
peared to him delightful to place himself in her
hands and be taken where she listed in the April
twilight. To seek shelter from showers in strange
quarters was adventurous; and milk had a
piquancy drunk with Cynthia in farmyards. He
signed the extension of the Streatham agreement
The alteration in her impressed him still more
strongly now that he had opportunities for study-
ing it ; and the gradual result of three years, pre-
senting itself to him as the fruit of ten months,
was startling. His wife had become a woman —
in her tone, in her bearing, in her comments,,
which often had a pungency, though they might
not be brilliant. She was a woman in the com-
posure with which she ignored their anomalous
relations — a very fascinating woman withal,
whose composure, while it won his admiration,
disturbed him too, as the weeks went by. It was
in moments difficult to identify her new personal-
ity with the girl's whose love for him had been so
constantly evident. Among her other changes,
had she grown to care less for him? He could
not be surprised if she had.
Shortly after his arrival, Messrs. Kynaston
had begun to send his proof-sheets, and in May
The Eye of the Beholder was published. In the
walk that they took after Cynthia had read it,
she and Kent spoke of little else. It had amazed
him to perceive how eager he was to hear her
verdict, and at her first words, "I'm proud of
you," the colour rushed to his face. He would
never have supposed that her approval could ex-
cite him so much, or that her views would have
such interest for him. When the criticisms be-
gan to come in, it was delicious, as they sat at
breakfast, to open the yellow envelopes and de-
vour the long slips with their heads bent together;
and then, after he had paid a visit to the child, he
would go up to his room and wish that the corner
of the garden that he overlooked contained the
Despite the seven rejections, and the opinion
of Messrs. Cousins' reader that the construction
rendered the novel hopeless, the criticisms were
magnificent. The more important the paper, the
less qualified was the praise. The lighter periodi-
cals were sometimes a little "superior," but the
authoritative organs were earnest and cordial,
and in no less powerful a pronouncement than
The Spectator s the construction was called "mas-
terly." The Saturday Review repeated that Mr.
Kent's style was admirable; and The Athenceum,
and The Daily Chronicle, and The Times, and
every paper to which a novelist looks, described
him as a realist of a high order.
Delusions die hard, and the bitter reviewer,
rending the talented young author's book, is a
companion myth to the sleepless editor poring
indefatigably over illegible manuscripts in quest
of new talent. As a matter of fact, it is only
to his reviewers that the struggling novelist ever
owes a "thank you"; and Kent wrote with exul-
tation and confidence under the stimulus of the
encouragement that he received. The Eye of the
Beholder did not sell in thousands — you may lead
a donkey to good fiction, but you cannot make
him read — but in a moderate degree it was a suc-
cess even with the public ; and work had an irre-
sistible attraction in consequence.
Nevertheless, the question whether Cynthia's
attitude was not perhaps the one that had become
most natural to her haunted Kent with growing
persistency. Had it been possible, he would have
asked her. He found himself wishful of a little
tenderness from the woman who had once wea-
ried him — or from the woman who had sprung
from her. She was merciful, she was charming,
she drew him towards her strongly ; but she talked
to him as a sister might have done. The sugges-
tion of a honeymoon in their rambles now tanta-
lised him by its illusiveness, and he was piqued by
the feeling that their intercourse was devoid even
of the incipient warmth of courtship.
It occurred to him that the book that he was
writing might be dedicated to her, and the idea
pleased him vastly. It begot several other ideas
which he indulged. Roses were transferred from
a shop-window to Cynthia's bosom, and he sent
to town for a story that she had said she would
like to read. Her surprise enchanted him, and he
wished, as her gaze rested on him, that he could
surprise her oftener. The thought of the evening
to be passed beside her would come to him during
the day, and fill him with impatience to realise
the picture again. Tea was no sooner finished
than they put on their hats, to wander where
their humour led them. Generally they returned
at sunset; and sometimes they returned under
the stars. Supper would be awaiting them, and
afterwards they sat and talked — or dreamed, by
the open window — until, all too early, she gave
him her hand and said "Good-night."
His heart followed her. Surely Kent compre-
hended that the feeling that she awoke in him was
more than admiration, more than pique, was
something infinitely different from the calm af-
fection into which his first fancy had subsided.
He knew that the conditions that she had imposed
had aroused no ephemeral ardour, but had illu-
mined in himself as vividly as in her a develop-
ment that possession had left obscure. He knew
he loved her — he loved her, and he was unworthy
of her love. He could not speak — that was for
her — but his eyes besought, and the woman read
them. She made no sign. So speedily? — her
pride forbade it. Her manner towards him re-
mained unchanged. But tenderness tugged at
her pride, and joy at what she read flooded her
She would be contemptible to condone so soon,
she told herself. He would never know how he
had made her suffer — never suspect how in min-
utes the unutterable recollection that she had hid-
den for his sake had wrenched and tortured her
while she talked to him so easily ; she prayed that
he never might know! But to yield at his first
sigh, because he looked unhappy — how could she
contemplate it ?
Yet was his unhappiness her sole temptation?
She trembled. Was she despicable to long for
his arm about her again? Was it degraded to
feel that even to-day
In July Kent was lonelier than he had been
hitherto. His wife could seldom contrive to ac-
company him when he went out, and the excur-
sions were in any case curtailed. She seemed to
care less for walking, and there were little tire-
some things that demanded her attention, or to
which, at least, she chose to give it. The child
missed her, when he woke at eight o'clock, if she
was not at home to run in to him; she wanted to
practise on the wheezy piano; there was needle-
work she was compelled to do — always some-
The first time, Kent was merely disappointed,
and came back early in low spirits ; but after the
third of his solitary walks, misgivings oppressed
him with double weight. She was indifferent —
no other explanation was possible ; she was indif-
ferent, and no longer chose to mask it !
"You're always busy," he told her at last. "I
miss you dreadfully, Cynthia. Is it so important
that what you are doing should be gone on with
"I should like to finish it to-night," she said
constrainedly — "yes. I'm sorry you miss me, but
the girl is clumsy with her needle; one can't ex-
"Yesterday something else prevented you.
You have only been out with me once this
"Surely more than that?" she said calmly;
"twice, I think?"
"Once. You went with me on Tuesday.
There's all day for the boy, Cynthia; you might
spare me the evening."
She bent lower over the pinafore, engrossed
"It isn't only the boy, poor little chap ! What
a tyrant you'd make him out! Yesterday I
didn't feel like going; I was up to my eyes in a
Kent regarded her hungrily.
"I've very little claim on you, I know; but
when I first came "
" 'Sh!" she said. . . . "What a mountain out
of a molehill! If I haven't been with you since
Tuesday, we must have our walk together to-
Kent found this very unsatisfactory. It was a
concession, and he did not seek her society as a
concession. The walk, as usual latterly, was
short, and neither had the air of enjoying it very
much. They roamed along the dusty roads for the
most part in silence, and for the rest with plati-
tudes. He could not avoid seeing that her com-
panionship was reluctantly accorded, and after
their return, when she put out her hand in the
stereotyped "Good-night," he resolved not to beg
her to go with him any more.
He wasn't without a hope that, by refraining
from the request, he might move her to gratitude ;
but her avoidance of him did not diminish, and
when August came, he questioned whether he
ought to leave her for a while. The part that
she had allotted to herself was plainly more than
she could sustain; to relieve her temporarily of
his presence might be the most considerate plan
he could adopt? But the notion repelled him vio-
lently. Though she was colder and ill at ease,
she enchained him. He had very little, and that
little he was loath to lose. To look at her across
the room, unobserved, in their long pauses was
not charged with regret only — the bitterness had
an indefinable joy as well; he liked to note the ef-
fect of lamplight on her profile as she read, took
pleasure in her grace when she moved. To spare
her what distress he could, however, was his duty
— yes, if she wished it, he would go ! He debated,
where he sat smoking by the window one evening,
whether she would wish it if she knew how dear
she had grown to him; whether if he stammered
to her something of his remorse His pain had
become almost intolerable.
The hour was very still. In the west, on the
faint azure, some smears of flame colour lingered ;
then, while he stared out, faded, and hung in the
sky like curls of violet smoke. Over the myriad
tints of green came the low whinny of a horse.
His wife sat sewing by the table, and, turning,
he watched the rhythmical movement of her hand.
A passionate longing assailed him to free his
tongue from the weight that hampered it and
cry to her he loved her, though she might not care
to hear. He knocked the ashes from his pipe, and
"Aren't you going to smoke any more?" she
"Not now; I've been smoking all day."
"You should try to write without."
"I ought to — but I never could."
He touched the muslin on her lap diffidently —
it was on her lap.
"What are you making — another pinafore?"
"Yes. Do you think it's pretty?"
His hand lay close to her own ; but she held the
garment up to him, and perforce he drew back.
It was not so easy to voice emotion as to feel
it. Half an hour crept away; shadows filled the
room, and a grey peace brooded over the grass
outside. The tones deepened, and beyond a ridge
of blackened boughs the moon swam up. He de-
cided that he would speak after supper. But af-
ter supper, when she resumed her sewing, he felt
that it would be useless. He sat by the hearth,
holding a paper that he did not read. Presently
the landlady was heard slipping the bolt in the
passage, and Cynthia pushed her basket from her,
preparing to retire. With her change of posi-
tion, a reel escaped and rolled to the fender. Kent
had not noticed where it fell, but he became con-
scious, with a tremor, that she was stooping by
his side. In rising, it seemed to him that her fig-
ure brushed his arm as if with a caress. She had
drawn apart from him before he could do more
than wonder if it had been accidental, but now he
watched her with a curious intentness. She wan-
dered about the room a little aimlessly, rightii.
a photograph, settling a flower in a glass on t;
shelf. Having gathered up her work, she hes
tated, and sought some books; when she h<'<
chosen them, her arms were full and she could n
give him her hand.
But she did not say "Good-night," either. J
she passed him on the threshold, her face w
lifted, and for a moment her gaze engulfed hir
When he dared to interpret it, Kent sto
shakenly up the stairs. The way was dark; b\
ahead — in a room of which the door had been le
ajar — his eager eyes saw Light.
THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE
AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS
WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY
WILL INCREASE TO 50 CENTS ON THE FOURTH
DAY AND TO $1.00 ON THE SEVENTH DAY
OCT 26 1932 RIC CIP JUL 1 7 1984
RfcTD MAR 2 3 1982
JUL 1 6 iao4 8
*G6t i t mr m m
LD 21-5U/»-8 -32
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
S i ,