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Full text of "Cynthia"

" 



CYNTHIA 

By LEONARD MERRICK 

¥ 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

MAURICE HEWLETT 




NEW YORK 

E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY 

681 FIFTH AVENUE 



Copyright, 1912, 
BY MITCHELL. KENNERLY 



Copyright, 1919, 
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 









INTRODUCTION 

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 



vi INTRODUCTION 

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 



INTRODUCTION vii 

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 



viii INTRODUCTION 

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. 

Maurice Hewlett. 



CYNTHIA 



CHAPTER I 

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 
evening. 

"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." 

1 



2 CYNTHIA 

"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 
fool." 

"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 
cetera." 

"You are with her all day," said Turquand — 
"I conclude she likes you. And the mother 
countenances it." 

"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 
enough." 

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 



CYNTHIA 3 

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 
hacking at." 

"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- 
dox?" 

"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" 



4 CYNTHIA 

"And they call you 'an acute observer' ! Mar- 
riage is Man's greatest extravagance." 

"The apothegm excepted. It sounds like a 
dissipated copybook." 

"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 



CYNTHIA 5 

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- 



6 CYNTHIA 

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 
words. 

"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 



8 CYNTHIA 

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 
acknowledge it. 

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 



CYNTHIA 9 

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 
Walford. 



10 CYNTHIA 

"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 
me extravagant." 

"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- 



CYNTHIA 11 

mendation. Her giggle was as violent as before, 
though. 

"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 



12 CYNTHIA 

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 
into couples. 



CHAPTER II 

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 
to prolong. 

"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- 
quand dryly. 

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! 
Nevermind!" 

They strolled up and down. 

"Sorry you're going, Mr. Turquand? Your 
friend will miss you very much." 

13 



14 CYNTHIA 

"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 
Turquand. 

"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 
him?" 

"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 
him? 

"He sees a good deal of me" said her escort, 
"and I'm quite a festive sort of person when you 
know me." 

Her giggle announced that she found this 
entertaining, but the approval did not loosen his 



CYNTHIA 15 

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 
his path. 

"With talent and private means our author is 
fortunate?" 

"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. 



16 CYNTHIA 

"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 
youf 

"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 
method's It." 

"Schools" and "methods" were meaningless to 
the lady in such a connection. Novels were 
novels, and they were either "good" or they were 



CYNTHIA IT 

"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 
already used. 

"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 
quite magnificent." 

"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 " 



18 CYNTHIA 

"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 
went on. 

"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." 



CYNTHIA 19 

"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 
account." 

"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 



20 CYNTHIA 

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 
declared. 

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- 
mured. 

Her companion was too contented to be 
curious. 

"We're sure to come upon them in a minute," 



CYNTHIA %\ 

he said. "Do you abuse Dieppe, too, Miss 
Walford?" 

"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 
afternoon?" 

"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, 
I think." 

"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 
the subject. 

"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 



22 CYNTHIA 

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 
a visit?" 

"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!" 



CYNTHIA 23 

"What nonsense!" laughed Miss Walford 
daintily. 

"Do you like that kind of story?" 

"I like plots about real life best," she said. 
"Don't you?" 

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 
all together. 

"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; 
sentiment." 

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 
smiled. 

"Such a time we've been having, all by our- 
selves!" she persisted uproariously. "Mr. Kent, 



U CYNTHIA 

are you shocked? Oh, I've shocked Mr. Kent! 
He'll always remember it — I can see it in his 
face." 

"I shall always remember you, Mrs. Walford," 
he said, trying to make the fatuity sound grace- 
ful. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 25 

where they had had their conversation after 
dinner. 

" '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. 



CHAPTER III 

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- 

26 



CYNTHIA n 

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 



28 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA £9 

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 
you!" 

She looked slowly up, and blinded him with a 
smile. Its newness jumped and quivered through 
his nerves. 

"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 
pleased." 



80 CYNTHIA 

"I'll tell her when we get home. Oh, mamma 
likes you!" 

"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 
person." 

"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 
Kent. 

"I— wondered." 

"Why?" 

"Why did I wonder?" 

"Yes." 

"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. 



CYNTHIA 81 

"Tell me why you wondered," he begged. 

"Because You're wickedly persistent!" 

"I am everything that is awful. Cynthia?" 

"Yes?" 

"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 
books?" 

"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!" 

"That's why." 

"You are horrid!" she declared again. "I don't 
know what you mean a bit . . . Mr. Kent " 

"Who is her 

"Humphrey " 

"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 
was." 



S2 CYNTHIA 

"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 
Arques?" 

"No— Noah'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 
lost!" 

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 



CYNTHIA S3 

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 
her ill. 

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 



34i CYNTHIA 

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- 
ment"? 

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 
perspiration. 

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 



CYNTHIA 35 

meet her. She was alone. Where was Cynthia? 
Seeking him? or was her absence designed? 

"I hope our excursion hasn't tired you, Mrs. 
Watford?" 

"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- 
gested. 

"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 
don't disapprove?" 

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. 



86 CYNTHIA 

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 
their marrying." 

"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- 
mured. 

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- 
tions?" 

"I expect to succeed," said Kent; "I've the 
right to expect it. No others." 



CYNTHIA 37 

"May I ask how much your profession brings 
you in?" 

"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 
hour ago. 

"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 



S8 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CHAPTER IV 

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 
do." 

"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 
dear!" 

"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 
father!" 

"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 

39 



40 CYNTHIA 

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- 
tain " 

"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 
suppose?" 

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 41 

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 



42 CYNTHIA 

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- 
tions? 

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 



CYNTHIA 43 

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 



44 CYNTHIA 

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- 
credible. 

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 
alloy. 



CYNTHIA 45 

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?" 

"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. 



46 CYNTHIA 

"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- 



CYNTHIA 47 

ning paper, with his slippered feet crossed on the 
window-sill. 

"Hallo!" he said; "you've got back?" 

"Yes," said Humphrey. "How the jam 
smells!" 

"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?" 

"More luxuriant." 

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 



48 CYNTHIA 

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." 



CHAPTER V 

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. 
Father consented?" 

"Things are quite smooth all round." 

"H'mph!" 

He looked hard at the wall and pulled his 
beard. 

"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?" 

49 



50 CYNTHIA 

"Why should we? Why argue with a man 
whether the ice will bear after he has made a hole 
in it?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 51 

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 
boots. 

"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 



52 CYNTHIA 

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- 
gratulate you." 

Humphrey expressed no thanks, and he deter- 
mined to avoid the subject of his engagement as 
much as possible in their conversations hence- 
forward. 

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 
the house. 

He was prepossessed by its exterior, and his 



CYNTHIA 53 

anticipations were confirmed on entering the 
hall. 

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 
people! 

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 
it's wonderful!" 

" 'Five hundred a week'?" echoed Mrs. Wal- 



54 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 55 

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 



56 CYNTHIA 

that she thought it very small beer indeed, "I 
suppose you're in the middle of another?" 

"No," he replied, "not yet." 

"Really?" 

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 
diamonds!" 

"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 
fine eyes." 

"His eyes won't give 'em any carriage-and- 
pair," replied Miss Wix. "I used to have fine 



CYNTHIA 67 

eyes, my dear, but I've stared at hard times so 
long." ' 

"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 
was known." 

"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 
young man!" 

"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 



58 CYNTHIA 

had a beautiful set of teeth," added Miss Wix 
morosely; "but you can't pick rich husbands off 
gooseberry-bushes." 

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- 
ble. 

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- 



CYNTHIA 59 

cence to be very gracious, and wondered if he 
sounded mean. 

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- 



60 CYNTHIA 

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 
more pleasant. 

"The morning after we come back, darling," 
said Kent, "I shall go straight to my desk after 



CYNTHIA 61 

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." 



CHAPTER VI 

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 
his judgment. 

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 

62 



CYNTHIA 63 

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- 
fully. 

"Oh, I'm sure you'll say so. Signor Pincocca 
told mamma it would be a crime if she didn't 



64 CYNTHIA 

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 
you say?" 

"Just as you please," said Kent. 

Eut as he spoke the girl returned, to announce 



CYNTHIA 65 

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 
bow. 

"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 
beamingly. 

"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 



66 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 67 

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 
with pride. 

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 
wet curl. 

"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 
do. 



68 CYNTHIA 

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 
right term. 

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 



CYNTHIA 69 

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 
[desirable. 

"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 



70 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 71 

we'll keep a pipe in the rack with the biggest 
bowl we can find, and call it yours. By God, 
we will!" 

"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 
happy pair! 

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- 



72 CYNTHIA 

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." 



CYNTHIA 73 

Turquand shivered, and said that he should. 

"You aren't cold?" 

"Cold? Not a bit — no. You were say- 
ing ?" 

"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. 



74 CYNTHIA 

"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 
you?" 

"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 
married, Turk!" 

"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- 



CYNTHIA 75 

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!" 



CHAPTER VII 

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 



CYNTHIA 77 

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 



78 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CYNTHIA 79 

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 



80 CYNTHIA 

"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 



CYNTHIA 81 

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 
it absurd. 

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 



82 CYNTHIA 

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 
laughed. 

"You will have when you have the victoria and 



CYNTHIA 83 

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 

you." 

"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. 



84 CYNTHIA 

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- 
cult.'* 



CYNTHIA 85 

"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- 



86 CYNTHIA 

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 






CYNTHIA 87 

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 
you." 



88 CYNTHIA 

"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. 



CHAPTER VIII 

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* 

89 



90 CYNTHIA 

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 
stared. 

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 



CYNTHIA 91 

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 



92 CYNTHIA 

a certain restraint in speaking of his profession 
here. 

"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 
he wrote. 

"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 
Wix. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 93 

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 



94 CYNTHIA 

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 
boisterously. 

"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." 



CYNTHIA 95 

Kent said it was really of no consequence at 
all. 

"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 
other day." 

"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 
curiosity. 

"Well, then, Cassar, tell us what it was." 

"Do, Csesar," begged his sister; "I haven't 
heard, either." 

"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 



96 CYNTHIA 

of the men was prepared to be bored. ... This 
really is so very personal that " 

"No, no, no! go on. What nonsense!" said 
his mother. 

"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, 
"/know!" 

"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 
Lassalle." 

"Flattering ?" shouted his father to Kent. 
"Flattering? 'If I could command such a ca- 
reer!' Eh?" 

Kent asked himself speechlessly if this thing 
could be. 

"'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. 
"Where?" 

"That's not settled; here in town, I expect, at 



CYNTHIA 97 

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 
with?" 

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 
simple observation." 

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 — \ 



98 CYNTHIA 

what was he called? — now? Has he — er — er — ■ 
any influence with the Press?" 

"He knows a good many people of a kind. 
Why?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 99 

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 



100 CYNTHIA 

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- 
cumstances. 

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. 






CYNTHIA 101 

"No, dearest," he said, surprised. "What is 
it?" 

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 
feel cold?" 

"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 



102 CiNTHIA 

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, 
ami?" 

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 



CYNTHIA 103 

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. 



CHAPTER IX 

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." 

104 



CYNTHIA 105 

"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 
without complaint. 

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. 



106 CYNTHIA 

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 
lost paradise. 

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. 



CYNTHIA 107 

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 



108 CYNTHIA 

haven't fulfilled its promise? Honest Injun, 
you know?" 

"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 
course?" 

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!" 

"Whose?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 109 

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 
pounds." 



110 CYNTHIA 

"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." 

"Why not?" 

"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." 



CYNTHIA 111 

"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!" 
She laughed. 

"Turk didn't imply that he liked them either. 
Isn't it painful, though, to think of the follow- 



112 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 113 

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," 



114 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 115 

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 
glad. 



CHAPTER X 

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. 

116 



CYNTHIA 117 

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 
her hand. 

"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. 



118 CYNTHIA 

"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 
you need." 

"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 what?" 

"Or nobody," she murmured. 

The eyes that she bent upon the fire glittered. 
He squeezed her hand, and laughed constrain- 
edly. 

"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. 



CYNTHIA 119 

"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- 
gently. 

"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 
it away." 

"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 



120 CYNTHIA 

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 go?" 

"She can't leave Baby until we get another, 
you know. At least, I hope she won't have to." 

"Another?" 

"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, 
and " 

"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 
was hard. 

She looked at him tenderly. 



CYNTHIA 121 

"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 
name? /have!" 

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 



122 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 123 

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 
insufficient sleep. 

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 



124 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 125 

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 



126 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 127 

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. 



CHAPTER XI 

"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 
that's all." 

12s 



CYNTHIA 129 

"Oh, you mustn't stand any airs and graces; 
put her in her place at the start. What has she 
done?" 

"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, 
Sam!" 



130 CYNTHIA 

"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 
about, mamma." 

"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- 
rect." 

"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 
likes." 

"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?" 



CYNTHIA 131 

"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 
ill-bred!" 

"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'? 
Now, then!" 

"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 
it there." 

Momentarily she looked disconcerted. Then 
she said: 

"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 
altogether." 

Miss Wix gave a sharp little laugh. 

"You may consider it more euphonious to say 



132 CYNTHIA 

'heggs' and 'happles,' too, but that doesn't make 
it right." 

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 
crazy." 

"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 
violently aside. 

"I'll take a situation; I've made up my mind. 
Thank Heaven! I'm not quite dependent on a 



CYNTHIA 133 

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 
hysterics. 

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. 



13* UIJN±±ilA 

"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 
then." 

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 



CYNTHIA 135 

gesticulated about the drawing-room and foretold 
such triumphs. 

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- 
velope open. 

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 



136 CYNTHIA 

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 
look!" ' 

Kent handed the letter to her mutelv, his wife 
watching him with startled, pitying eyes, and 
she read it aloud: 



CYNTHIA 187 

" '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. 



138 CYNTHIA 

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 
facts." 

"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 
say next?" 

"I think we'll say 'good-night,' " said Mrs. 



CYNTHIA 139 

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- 



140 CYNTHIA 

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 
supposed. 



CHAPTER XII 

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. 

141 



I4£ CYNTHIA 

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, 



CYNTHIA 143 

! 
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 
Beholder. 

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' ! 



144 CYNTHIA 

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 
resentful. 

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 



CYNTHIA 145 

speak German, while his mother invented an ex- 
planation. 

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 
to him: 

"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- 
count now?" 

"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 
fresh?" 

"Nothing, sir." 

"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!" 



146 CYNTHIA 

"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 
eighteen months!" 

"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 
sharply. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 147 

ought to listen to his opinion with more respect. 
Especially under the circumstances." 

"Oh?" he murmured. "Have you said that 
to Cynthia?" 

"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 



148 CYNTHIA 

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- 
pressively. 

"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." 

"With " 

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 



CYNTHIA 149 

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 



150 CYNTHIA 

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 
work. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 151 

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, 
did you?" 

"A guinea each; one in six months. No; but 



152 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CHAPTER XIII 

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 

153 



154 CYNTHIA 

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— 
fulsomely!" 

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 



CYNTHIA 155 

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 : 

"What nonsense!" 

"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 " 

"What?" 

"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 



156 CYNTHIA 

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- 
an's robes. 

"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 
shall be." 

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." 



CYNTHIA 157 

"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 
girl. 

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 



158 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 159 

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- 



160 CYNTHIA 

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 
assistant-editor's duties?" 

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 



CYNTHIA 161 

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 — 
nothing?" 

"There's the paste; I don't imagine you'll need 
much else." 

"You're a trump!" repeated Kent gratefully. 



168 CYNTHIA 

"I feel an awful fraud taking such a berth, Turk; 
but in this world one has to do what one " 

"Can't!" 

"Exactly. By George ! it seems to be a paying 
line." 

"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 
behind. 

"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 
be!" 

"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?" 



CYNTHIA 163 

Cynthia paled. 

"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 
now." 

"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 
notice." 

"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 
about Nurse?" 

"Perhaps," said Cynthia nervously, "if you 
were to mention it to her, darling, if you don't 
mind » 

"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 



164 CYNTHIA 

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 
full days." 

"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, 



CYNTHIA 165 

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 
dignity. 

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. 



CHAPTER XIV 

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, 

166 



CYNTHIA 167 

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 



168 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 169 

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- 



170 CYNTHIA 

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 
department himself. 

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 



CYNTHIA 171 

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 
him. 

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 



172 CYNTHIA 

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 
meet. 

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 
to thirty-five. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 173 

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 
an amateur." 

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 
Husband" 

"Does she bolt with him, or do you end it 
virtuously?" 

"Virtuously, monsieur," she said, smiling. 
"You travel fast!" 



174 CYNTHIA 

"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 
a question-point." 

"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 
pride'?" 

"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 
people's children." 

Kent laughed. 

"I'll explain to Mr. Beaufort," he declared; 
"you shall have a revise sent on to-morrow. I'm 



CYNTHIA 175 

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 
said. 

"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,' 
isn't it?" 

"Thank you," he said. "Yes, 'Humphrey 
Kent.' " 

"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 
fiction up?" 

"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 



176 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CYNTHIA 177 

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 — 
Eva Deane-Pitt." 



CHAPTER XV 

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 

178 



CYNTHIA 179 

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- 
tions. 

Mrs. Walford's letters to her daughter had 



180 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CYNTHIA 181 

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- 



182 CYNTHIA 

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 
rings shone. 

"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 
that?" 

"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 






CYNTHIA 188 

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 
I'm extravagant?" 

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- 
tain " 

"No; not so far as that, but I toddle a bit." 

"Your champagne is above criticism, and you 



184 CYNTHIA 

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 ' " 

he murmured. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 185 

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 



186 CYNTHIA 

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." 

"Pretty well. And it looks prettier out of a 
big house." 

"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 
anything." 

" 'First catch your hare/ " he observed. "I'm 
not popular." 

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 



CYNTHIA 187 

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 
it. 

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 



188 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 189 

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 
days. 

"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, 



190 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CHAPTER XVI 

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. 

191 



192 CYNTHIA 

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 
head. 

"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 
her steps. 

"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, 
'don't you?" 

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 



CYNTHIA 193 

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 



194 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 195 

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 
the shop." 

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- 



196 CYNTHIA 

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 
disposed of. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 197 

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 
lot?" 

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 



198 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CYNTHIA 199 

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 



200 CYNTHIA 

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 
otherwise. 

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?" 



CYNTHIA 201 

"I've been so fearfully busy," he answered 
lamely. 

"On the paper?" 

"Of course." 

"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 
his Wife/' 



202 CYNTHIA 

"May I offer you some tea and cake in the 
meantime ?" 

"No, thanks." 

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* 
Mrs. Deane-Pitt." 

"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 



CYNTHIA 203 

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 
laugh himself. 



CHAPTER XVII 

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 
more. 

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 

204 



CYNTHIA 205 

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 



206 CYNTHIA 

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- 
day." 

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 



CYNTHIA 207 

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 
shrug. 

"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 



208 CYNTHIA 

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 
face. 

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." 



CYNTHIA 209 

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 
again. 

"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 
paid there." 

"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 
any case." 

"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, 



210 CYNTHIA 

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 
blankly. 

"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 
think!" 

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- 
time.' Eh?" 

Cynthia mused. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 211 

the time struggling to live up to the teapot. I 
wish to heaven we could get rid of her alto- 
gether!" 

"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 
it!" 

"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 



212 CYNTHIA 

their lot would be comparatively a bed of roses 
if they were spared the astonished inquiries of 
the nurse. 

"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- 
lion!" 

He blew clouds, and waited for an inspiration, 
while she walked about the room with her hands 
behind her. 

"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 






CYNTHIA 213 

the draft comes. You can't get blood out of a 
stone." 

"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 



214 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 215 

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 



216 CYNTHIA 

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, 
nice-minded girl." 






CHAPTER XVIII 

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 

217 



218 CYNTHIA 

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 
frigidly : 



CYNTHIA 219 

"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. 
Nothing else." 

"My God 1" exclaimed Kent with a gasp ; "you 
don't mean to say you won't let the girl take her 
box?" 

"But certainly I mean it," she returned. "It 
was perfectly understood. I have already been 
too liberal." 

"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 



220 CYNTHIA 

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!" 



CYNTHIA 221 

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 
this way!" 

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 



222 CYNTHIA 

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- 






CYNTHIA 223 

adventures, his statement was that he was un- 
able to obtain any money until Saturday after- 
noon. 

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. 

"Beautiful!" 

"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- 



2M CYNTHIA 

stant, we could have the money to-morrow night. 
Good Lord! how tired I am! Where's the sta- 
tionery?" 

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 
again. 

"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 
were out. 

"Do you think Nurse herself has got one?" 
he suggested, coming back, "or — or twenty-five 
centimes?" 

"She is out, too. She took baby ten minutes 
ago. . . . Humphrey!" 

"Another inspiration?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 225 

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 
their hearts. 

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- 



226 CYNTHIA 

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 !" 

Etienne appeared. 

"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, 
Turk." 



CYNTHIA 227 

Cynthia gave a hysterical laugh. They were 
sa r 

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, 
and said; 

"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 
station." 

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- 
ble thanksgiving. 

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 



228 CYNTHIA 

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- 



CYNTHIA 229 

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 
mind. 

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 
be rewarded. 

He made for the boarding-house at his best 



230 CYNTHIA 



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 
trunks." 

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 



CYNTHIA 231 

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- 
lowed!" 

"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- 
side." 

"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- 



232 CYNTHIA 

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- 
terminedly. 

"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 
face. 

"And the box?" he gasped, fighting for the 
ground inch by inch. "Do you allow that?' 3 

"Never, never, never! Go and fetch your 
things down!" 

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. 



CYNTHIA 233 

"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 
go!" 

"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!" 

"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 



234 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 235 

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. 



236 CYNTHIA 

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- 



CYNTHIA 237 

tened the paper of his cigarette before he an- 
swered. 

"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 



238 CYNTHIA 

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 






CYNTHIA 239 

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 



240 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 241 

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 



242 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CHAPTER XIX 

"Good-morning, monsieur. Here is the 
chocolate." 

"Good-morning. And madame, has hers been 
taken in?" 

"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 

243 



244 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 245 

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 



246 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 247 

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, 



348 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 249 

anxiety to us, mamma. Naturally. How's Aunt 
Emily?" 

"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 
any parties." 

"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 



250 CYNTHIA 

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- 
rope." 

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 



CYNTHIA 251 

— 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 



252 CYNTHIA 

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 
kindly. 

"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." 



CYNTHIA 253 

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 
confession." 

"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 



254 CYNTHIA 

will do you more good. If we sold our furni- 
ture " 

"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 
independent." 

One of the advertisements was to appear on 
Monday. 



CHAPTER XX 

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- 
zine." 

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 

255 



256 CYNTHIA 

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 
speak English?" 

"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 
myself." 

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 



CYNTHIA 257 

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 



258 CYNTHIA 

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 
of her?" 

"She has left the Walfords, you mean? Who 
told your 

"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- 
thing." 

"Get out!" scoffed Kent. "Did she really 
come to see you, though? Very improper of 
her!" 

"Oh, Miss Wix and I always took to each 



CYNTHIA 259 

other. I think she dislikes me less than any- 
body she knows. I'm not kidding you; it's true, 
honour bright." 

"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 
circulation." 

Kent stared at him incredulously. 

"A journal for young girls?" he echoed. "The 
acrimonious Wix? Is this a fact, or delirium 
tremens?" 

"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 



260 CYNTHIA 

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 
letter.' " 

"Miss Wix?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 261 

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 



262 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CYNTHIA 263 

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. 
Deane-Pitt. 

"How d'ye do, Mr. Kent? Are you trying to 
cut me?" 

"I beg your pardon, I didn't see ! It's awfully 
stupid of me; I'm always passing people like 
that." 

"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 
a detail." 

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. 



264 CYNTHIA 

"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 
funeral." 

"I trust you've recovered from the bereave- 
ment," she laughed. "Are you on anything 
here?" 

"Not yet. Editors are so blind to their own 
interests." 

"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 



CYNTHIA 265 

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 



266 CYNTHIA 

somewhere till he found a berth and she rejoined 
him. 

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 
by herself. 

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- 



CYNTHIA 267 

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, 



268 CYNTHIA 

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 
too talkative." 

"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 



now." 



"You underrate your public," he murmured. 
"Winsome Words has an enormous circulation, 
I hear?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 269 

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- 



270 CYNTHIA 

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 
door." 

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 



CYNTHIA OT 

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. 



CHAPTER XXI 

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, 

272 



CYNTHIA 273 

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 
there. 

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 



274 CYNTHIA 

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?" 






CYNTHIA 275 

"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?" 
she asked. 

Instantaneously he did not grasp her mean- 
ing. 

"How?" he exclaimed. "Do you mean you 
are offering to collaborate with me?" 



276 CYNTHIA 

"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 



CYNTHIA OT 

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 
words !" 

"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 



278 CYNTHIA 

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- 
nificent reward. 

"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 ; 



CYNTHIA 279 

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 
motives." 

"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. 



280 CYNTHIA 

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 
artist's affair." 

"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- 



CYNTHIA 281 

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 
in it. 

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- 



282 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 28S 

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- 
meanour. 

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- 



284 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CHAPTER XXII 

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 
a charm. 

When he began her novel, it was with the dis- 
comfiting consciousness that the breakneck speed 
imposed on him would prevent the labourer being 

285 



286 CYMTHIA 

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. 






CYNTHIA 287 

"You have read it?" asked Kent, with mis- 
giving. 

"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 
a day." 

"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 



288 CYNTHIA 

hundred pounds, I shall be at the end of my 
troubles." 

"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?" 

"Or try." 

"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 
forbids'?" 

"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- 
ruptly : 



CYNTHIA 289 

"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, 
poor boy." 

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. 



290 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 291 

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 



292 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 293 

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 
work. 

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. 



294 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 295 

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 
was. 

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 



296 CYNTHIA 

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." 

"To-night, then?" 

"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 
said: 

"I suppose your starting another novel for 
yourself needn't stand in the way of our business 



CYNTHIA 297 

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? 



298 CYNTHIA 

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 
her? 

"If you won't think me boorish," he said at 
last abruptly, "I'd rather keep to my intention. 



CYNTHIA 299 

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 
can't do." 

"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 



800 CYNTHIA 

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 
regret. 

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 



CYNTHIA 301 

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 
lived. 

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 



302 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 

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- 
night." 



304 CYNTHIA 

"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?" 

"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 



CYNTHIA 305 

to come down here with you?" she laughed. 
"Supposing somebody had met us!" 

"And then?" 

"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- 
day." 

"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' 
really." 

" '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." 



608 CYNTHIA 

"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. 



CYNTHIA 307 

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 



308 CYNTHIA 

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 

listlessly. 

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- 



CYNTHIA 309 

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. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

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 

310 



CYNTHIA 311 

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 



812 CYNTHIA 

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 
a profession? 



CYNTHIA 313 

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 
them. 

Well, he must do the tale for The Metropolis! 
But he would write some short stories for himself 



314 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 315 

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 



316 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 317 

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 
content. 

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 
arise. 

[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- 



318 CYNTHIA 

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 
without exception. 

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- 



CYNTHIA 319 

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, 



820 CYNTHIA 

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- 
dom. 

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 
situation probable." 

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 
copyright. 

He did not hesitate even for an instant; he 



CYNTHIA 321 

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 
spring?" 

"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 



322 CYNTHIA 

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 
again to-night. 

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 



CYNTHIA 323 

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 



324 CYNTHIA 

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. 
Deane-Pitt! 

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 



CYNTHIA 325 

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- 
don? 

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 



326 CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 827 

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- 
where else. 

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. . . • 



328 CYNTHIA 

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- 
ment?" 

"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, 



CYNTHIA 329 

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 
pin!" 

"You shall have some tea — or would you rather 
have dinner? You must be hungry!" 

"Tea, please, and cake. Can you produce 
cake?" 

"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, 



330 CYNTHIA 

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 
heavier. 

"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- 
morrow." 

"I was thinking of the child," he muttered. 

"He's as safe with the nurse as with me," she 



CYNTHIA 331 

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!" 

"Well?" 

"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 " 

"'Expensive!'" 

"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 



332 CYNTHIA 

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 
unfaithful." 

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 



CYNTHIA 333 

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 
agony. 

"I'll try." 

"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 
later." 

"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 
tolled four. 

"What am I to do?" he said. 

"Oh," she moaned, "don't ask me; I can't think 



334 CYNTHIA 

yet. . . . You've killed me, Humphrey — you've 
killed me!" 

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 



CYNTHIA 335 

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 
say?" 

"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?" 

"You're merciful." 

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 



336 CYNTHIA 

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. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

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 
his parents. 

337 



338 CYNTHIA 

"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 
her. 

"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 



CYNTHIA 339 

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 



340 CYNTHIA 

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 
with gladness. 

The alteration in her impressed him still more 



CYNTHIA 341 

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 



342 CYNTHIA 

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 
bench. 

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 



CYNTHIA 343 

i 
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 



344s CYNTHIA 

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 



CYNTHIA 345 

her pride, and joy at what she read flooded her 
soul. 

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- 
thing! 

The first time, Kent was merely disappointed, 



346 CYNTHIA 

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 
to-night?" 

"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- 
pect perfection." 

"Yesterday something else prevented you. 
You have only been out with me once this 
week." 

"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 
by it. 

"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 
book." 

Kent regarded her hungrily. 



CYNTHIA 347 

"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- 
morrow." 

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 



348 CYNTHIA 

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 
sauntered nearer. 

"Aren't you going to smoke any more?" she 
said. 

"Not now; I've been smoking all day." 



CYNTHIA 349 

"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- 



350 CYNTHIA 

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. 



THE END 






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