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The Glenn Negley Collection 
of Utopian Literature 

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First Published IQ22, 

Leonard Parsons Ltd. 

Theodore Savage 

If it had been possible for Theodore Savage 
to place on record for those who came after 
him the story of his life and experiences, he 
would have been the first to admit that the 
interest of the record lay in circumstance and 
not in himself. From beginning to end he 
was much what surroundings made of him ; 
in his youth the product of a public school, 
Wadham and the Civil Service ; in maturit}' 
and age a toiler with his hands in the company 
of men who lived brutishly. In his twenties, 
no doubt, he was frequently bored by his 
clerking duties and the routine of the Distribu- 
tion Office ; later on there were seasons when 
all that was best in him cried out against con- 
finement in a life that had no aspiration ; but 
neither boredom nor resentment ever drove 
him .to revolt or set him to the moulding of 


circumstance. If he was destined to live as a 
local tradition and superman of legend, the 
honour was not gained by his talents or per- 
sonal achievements ; he had to thank for it 
an excellent constitution, bequeathed him by 
his parents, certain traces of refinement in 
manner and speech and the fears of very ignor- 
ant men. 

When the Distribution Office — like his 
Hepplewhite furniture, his colour-prints and 
his English glass — was with yesterday's seven 
thousand years, it is more than possible that 
Theodore Savage, looking back on his youth, 
saw existence, till he neared the age of thirty, 
as a stream of scarcely ruffled content. Sit- 
ting crouched to the fire in the sweat -laden air 
of his cabin or humped idly on a hillside in the 
dusk of summer evening, it may well have 
seemed, when his thoughts strayed backwards, 
that the young man who once was impossibly 
himself was a being whom care did not touch. 
What he saw with the eye of his mind and 
memory was a neat young Mr. Savage who 
was valeted in comfortable chambers and who 
worked, without urgence, for limited hours, in 
a room that looked on Whitehall. Who in his 
plentiful leisure gained a minor reputation 
on the golf-links! Who frequented studios, 


bought — now and then — a picture and collected 
English glass and bits of furniture. Who was 
passably good-looking, in an ordinary way, had 
a thoughtful taste in socks and ties and was 
careful of his hands as a woman. . . . So — 
through the vista of years and the veil of con- 
trast — Theodore may have seen his young 
manhood ; and in time, perhaps, it was diffi- 
cult for a coarse-fingered labourer, dependent 
for his bread on the moods of nature, to sym- 
pathize greatly with the troubles of neat Mr. 
Savage or think of him as subject to the major 
afflictions of humanity. 

All the same, he would spend long hours in 
communion with his vanished self ; striving 
at times to trace resemblances between the 
bearded, roughened features that a fishing- 
pool reflected and the smooth-chinned civil 
servant with brushed hair and white collar 
whom he followed in thought through his 
work, his amusements, his love-making and 
the trivial details of existence. . . . And 
imagining, sometimes, the years and the 
happenings that might have been if his age, 
like his youth, had been soaped and collared, 
routined by his breeding and his office ; if 
gods and men had not run amuck in frenzy 
and -his sons had been born of a woman who 


lived delicately — playing Chopin of an evening 
to young Mr. Savage and giving him cream in 
his tea?. . . . 

Even if life in his Civil Service days was not 
all that it shone through the years of contrast, 
Theodore Savage could have had very little of 
hardship to complain of in the days when he 
added to a certain amount of private income a 
salary earned by the duties of the unexacting 
billet which a family interest had secured for 
him. If he had no particular vocation for the 
bureaucratic life — if good painting delighted, 
and official documents bored him — he had 
sufficient common sense to understand that it 
is given to most of us, with sufficient applica- 
tion, to master the intricacies of official docu- 
ments, while only to few is it given to master 
an art. After a phase of abortive experiment 
in his college days he had realized — fortunately 
— that his swift and instinctive pleasure in 
beauty had in it no creative element ; where- 
upon he settled down, early and easily, into 
the life and habits of the amateur. . . . There 
remained with him to the end of his days an 
impression of a young man livmg pleasurably, 
somewhat fastidiously ; pursuing his hobbies, 
indulging his tastes, on the whole without 


much damage to himself or to others affected ; 
acting decently according to his code and, 
when he fell in love and out of it, falling not 
too grossly or disastrously. If he had a 
grievance against his work at the Distribution 
Office, it was no more serious than this : it 
took much time, certain hours every day, from 
the interests that counted in his life. And 
against that grievance, no doubt, he set the 
ameliorating fact that his private means 
unaided would hardly have supported his way 
of existence, his many pleasant interests and 
himself ; it was his civil servant's salary that 
had furnished his rooms in accordance with 
his taste and made possible the purchase of 
his treasured Fragonard and his bell-toned 
Georgian wine-glasses. . . . The bearded 
toiler, through a mist of years, watched a 
young man dawdling, without fear of the 
future, through a world of daily comforts 
that to his sons would seem fantastic, the 
creation of legend or of dream. 

It was that blind and happy lack of all fear 
of the future that lent interest to the toiler's 
watching ; knowing what he knew of the 
years that lay ahead, there was something of 
grim and dramatic humour in the sight of 
himself — yea, Theodore Savage, the broken- 


nailed, unshorn — arrayed of a morning in a 
flowered silk dressing-gown or shirt-fronted 
for an evening at the opera. ... As it was 
in the beginning, is now and ever shall be — 
that, so it seemed to him in later years, had 
been the real, if unspoken, motto of the world 
wherein he had his being in the days of his 
unruffled content. . . . 

Of the last few weeks in the world that was 
and ever should be he recalled, on the whole, 
very little of great hurrying and public events; 
it was the personal, intimate scenes that stood 
out and remained to a line and a detail. His 
first meeting with Phillida Rathbone, for 
instance, and the chance interview with her 
father that led to it : he could see himself 
standing by Rathbone's desk in the Distribu- 
tion Ofhce, see the bowl between his fingers, 
held to the light — see its very shape and con- 
ventional pattern of raised flowers. 

Rathbone — John Rathbone — was his chief 
in his Distribution days ; a square-jawed, 
formidable, permanent official who was held 
in awe by underlings and Ministers, and him- 
self was subject, most contentedly subject, to 
a daughter, the ruler of his household. Her 
taste in art and decoration was not her father's, 


but, for all the bewilderment it caused him, he 
strove to gratify it loyally ; and for Phillida's 
twenty-third birthday he had chosen expen- 
sively, on his way to the office, at the shop of a 
dealer in antiquities. Swept on the spate of 
the dealer's eloquence he had been pleased for 
the moment with his find — a flowered bowl, 
reputed Chelsea ; it was not until half an 
hour later that he remembered uneasily his 
daughter's firm warnings against unaided 
traffic with the miscreants who deal in curios. 
With the memory uncomfortable doubts as- 
sailed him, while previous experiments came 
thronging unpleasantly to mind — the fiasco 
of the so-called Bartolozzi print and the 
equally lamentable business of the so-called 
Chippendale settee. ... He drew his pur- 
chase from its paper wrapping, set it down 
on the table and stared at it. The process 
brought no enlightenment and he was still 
wrestling with uncomfortable doubts when 
Theodore Savage knocked and came in with a 
draft report for approval. 

The worry born of ignorance faded out of 
Rathbone's face as he conned the document 
and amended its clauses with swift pencilled 
notes in the margin ; he was back with the 
solidities he knew and could make sense of, and 


superfluous gimcracks for the moment had 
ceased to exist. It was Savage who unwit- 
tingly recalled their existence and importance; 
when his chief, at the end of his corrections, 
looked up, the younger man was eyeing the 
troublesome gimcrack with a meditative inter- 
est that reminded Rathbone of his daughter's 
manner when she contemplated similar rub- 

" Know anything about old china ? " he 
inquired — an outward and somewhat excessive 
indifference concealing an inward anxiety. 

" Not much," said Theodore modestly ; but, 
taking the query as request for an opinion, his 
hand went out to the bowl. 

" What do you make of it ? " asked Rath- 
bone, still blatantly indifferent. " I picked it 
up this morning — for my daughter. Sup- 
posed to be Chelsea — should you say it was? " 

If the answer had been in the negative 
the private acquaintance between chief and 
subordinate would probably have made no 
further progress ; no man, even when he 
makes use of it, is grateful for the superior 
knowledge in a junior that convicts him to 
his face of gullibility. As it was, the verdict 
was favourable and Rathbone, in the relief of 
finding that he had not blundered, grew 


suddenly friendly — to the point of a dinner 
invitation ; which was given, in part, as in- 
stinctive thanks for restored self-esteem, in 
part because it might interest Phillida to meet 
a young man who took gimcracks as gravely 
as herself. The invitation, as a matter of 
course, was accepted ; and three days later 
Savage met Phillida Rathbone. 

" I've asked a young fellow you're sure to 
get on with " — so Rathbone had informed his 
daughter ; who, thereupon, as later she con- 
fessed to Theodore, had made up her mind to 
be bored. She threw away her prejudice 
swiftly when she found the new acquaintance 
talked music with intelligence — she herself had 
music in her brain as well as in her finger-tips 
— while he from the beginning was attracted 
by a daintiness of manner and movement that 
puzzled him in Rathbone 's daughter. . . . 
From that first night he must have been drawn 
to her, since the evening remained to him 
clear in every detail ; always in the hollow of 
a glowing fire he could summon up Phillida, 
himself and Rathbone, sitting, the three of 
them, round the table with its silver and tall 
roses. ... In the centre a branching cluster 
of roses — all yellow, like Phillida's dress. . . . 
Rathbone, for the most part, good-naturedly 


silent, Phillida and himself talking swiftly. 
... In shaded light and a solid, pleasant com- 
fort ; ordinary comfort, which he took for 
granted as an element of daily life, but which 
yet was the heritage of many generations, the 
product of long centuries of striving and 
cunning invention. . . . Later, in the draw- 
ing-room, the girl made music — and he saw 
himself listening from his corner of the sofa 
with a cigarette, unlit, between his fingers. 
Above all it was her quality of daintiness that 
pleased him ; she was a porcelain girl, with 
something of the grace that he associated with 
the eighteenth century. . . . 

After half an hour that was sheer content to 
Theodore she broke off from her playing to sit 
on the arm of her father's chair and ruffle his 
grey hair caressingly. 

" Old man, does my noise on the piano pre- 
vent you from reading your paper ? " 

Whereat Rathbone laughed and returned 
the caress ; and Phillida explained, for the 
visitor's benefit, that the poor dear didn't 
know one tune from another and must have 
been bored beyond measure — by piano noises 
since they came upstairs and nothing but 
music-talk at dinner. 

" I believe we've driven him to the Montagu 


divorce case," she announced, looking over 
his shoulder. " ' Housemaid cross-examined — 
the Colonel's visits.' Daddy, have you fallen 
to that ? " 

" No, minx," he rebuked her, " I haven't. 
I'm not troubling to wade through the house- 
maid's evidence for the very good reason that 
it's quite unnecessary. I shall hear all about it 
from you." 

" That's a nasty one," Phillida commented, 
rubbing her cheek against her father's. She 
turned the paper idly, reading out the head- 
lines. " ' American elections — Surprises at 
Newmarket — Bank Rate' — There doesn't 
seem much news except the housemaid and 
the colonel, does there ? " 

Rathbone laughed as he pinched her cheek 
and pointed — to a headline here and a head- 
line there, to a cloud that was not yet the size 
of a man's hand, 

" It depends on what you call news. It 
seems to have escaped you that we've just 
had a Budget. That matters to those of us 
who keep expensive daughters. And, little as 
the subject may interest you, I gather from 
the size of his type, that the editor attaches 
some importance to the fact that the Court of 
Arbitration has decided against the Kar- 


thanian claim. That, of course, compared to 
a housemaid in the witness-box is " 

" Ponderous," she finished and laughed 
across at Theodore. " Important, no doubt, 
but ponderous — the Court of Arbitration 
always is. That's why I skipped it." . . . 
Then, carelessly interested, and running her 
eye down the columns of the newspaper, she 
supposed the decision was final and those 
noisy little Karthanians would have to be 
quiet at last. Rathbone shrugged his shoulders 
and hoped so. 

" But they'll have to, won't they ? " said 
Phillida. " Give me a match, Daddy — 
There's no higher authority than the Court of 
Arbitration, is there ? " 

"If," Rathbone suggested as he held a 
light to her cigarette, " if your newspaper 
reading were not limited to scandals and 
chiffons, you might have noticed that your 
noisy little friends in the East have declared 
with their customary vehemence that in no 
circumstances whatever will they accept an 
adverse verdict — not even from the Court of 

"But they'll have to, won't they? " Phillida 
repeated placidly. " I mean — they can't go 
against everybody else. Against the League." 


She tried to blow a smoke-ring with con- 
spicuous ill-success, and Theodore, watching 
her from his corner of the sofa — intent on her 
profile against the light — heard Rathbone ex- 
plaining that " against everybody else " was 
hardly the way to put it, since the Federal 
Council was not a happy family at present. 
There was very little doubt that Karthania 
was being encouraged to make trouble — and 
none at all that there would be difference of 
opinion on the subject of punitive action. . . . 
Phillida, with an arm round her father's neck, 
was divided between international politics and 
an endeavour to make the perfect ring — now 
throwing in a question anent the constitution 
and dissensions of the League, now rounding 
her mouth for a failure — while Theodore, on 
the sofa, leaned his head upon his hand that he 
might shade his eyes and watch her without 
seeming to watch. ... He listened to Rath- 
bone — and did not listen ; and that, as he 
realized later, had been so far his attitude to 
interests in the mass. The realities of his life 
were immediate and personal — with, in the 
background, dim interests in the mass that 
were vaguely distasteful as politics. A col- 
lective game played with noisy idealism and 
flaring, abuse, which served as copy to the 


makers of newspapers and gave rise at in- 
tervals to excited conversation and argument. 

What was real, and only real while Rath- 
bone talked, was the delicate poise of Phillida's 
head, the decorative line of Phillida's body, 
his pleasure in the sight of her, his comfort in 
a well-ordered room ; these things were 
realities, tangible or aesthetic, in whose com- 
pany a man, if he were so inclined, might 
discuss academically an Eastern imbroglio and 
the growing tendency to revolt against the 
centralized authority of the League. Between 
life, as he grasped it, and public affairs there 
was no visible, essential connection. The 
Karthanian imbroglio, as he strolled to his 
chambers, was an item in the make-up of a 
newspaper, the subject of a recent conversa- 
tion ; it was the rhythm of Phillida's music 
that danced in his brain as a living and in- 
sistent reality. That, and not the stirrings of 
uneasy nations, kept him wakeful till long 
after midnight. 


While Theodore Savage paid his court to 
Phillida Rathbone, the Karthanian decision 
was the subject of more than conversation ; 
diplomatists and statesmen were busy while 
he drifted into love and dreamed through the 
sudden rumours that excited his fellows at the 
office. In London, for the most part, journal- 
ism was guarded and reticent, the threat of 
secession at first hardly mentioned ; but in 
nations and languages that favoured secession 
the press was voicing the popular cry with 
enthusiasm that grew daily more heated. 
Through conflicting rumour this at least was 
clear : at the next meeting of the Council of 
the League its authority would be tested to 
the uttermost, since the measure of inde- 
pendent action demanded by the malcontent 
members would amount to a denial of the 
federal principle, to secession in fact if not 
in name. . . . Reaction against central and 
unified authority was not a phenomenon of 



yesterday ; it had been gathering its strength 
through years of racial friction, finding an 
adherent in every community that considered 
itself aggrieved by a decision of the Council 
or award of the Court of Arbitration, and for 
years it had taxed the ingenuity of the 
majority of the Council to avoid open breach 
and defiance. 

Before open breach and its consequences, 
both sides had so far manoeuvred, hesitated, 
compromised ; it had been left to a minor, a 
very minor, state, to rush in where others 
feared to tread. The flat refusal of a heady, 
half-civilized little democracy to accept the 
unfavourable verdict of the Court of Arbitra- 
tion was the spark that might fire a powder- 
barrel ; its frothy demonstrations, ridiculous 
in themselves, appealed to the combative 
instinct in others, to race-hatreds, old herding 
feuds and jealousies. These found vent in 
answering demonstrations, outbursts of popu- 
lar sympathy in states not immediately 
affected ; the noisy rebel was hailed as a 
martyr and pioneer of freedom, and became 
the pretext for resistance to the Council's 
oppression. There was no doubt of the extent 
of the re-grouping movement of the nations, 
of the stirrings of a widespread combativeness 


which denounced Federation as a system 
whereby dominant interests and races ex- 
ploited their weaker rivals. With the meeting 
of the Council would come the inevitable 
clash of interests ; the summons to the offend- 
ing member of the League to retreat from its 
impossible position, and — in case of continued 
defiance — the proposal to take punitive action. 
That proposal, to all seeming, must bring 
about a crisis ; those members of the League 
who had encouraged the rebel in defiance 
would hardly consent to co-operate in punitive 
measures ; and refusal — withdrawal of their 
military contingents — would mean virtual 
secession and denial of majority rule. If col- 
lective excitement and anger ran high, it 
might mean even more than secession ; there 
were possibilities — first hinted at, later dis- 
cussed without subterfuge — of actual and 
armed opposition should the Council attempt 
to enforce its decree and authority. . . . 
Humanity, once more, was gathering into 
herds and growing sharply conscious alike of 
division and comradeship. 

It was some time before Theodore was even 
touched by the herding instinct and spirit ; 
apart, in a delicate world of his own, he con- 
cerned himself even less than usual with the 


wider interests of politics. By his fellows in 
the Distribution Office he was known as an 
incurable optimist ; even when the cloud had 
spread rapidly and darkened he saw " strained 
relations " through the eyes of a lover, and 
his mind, busied elsewhere, refused to dwell 
anxiously on " incidents " and " disquieting 
possibilities." They intruded clumsily on his 
delicate world and, so soon as might be, he 
thrust them behind him and slipped back to 
the seclusion that belonged to himself and a 
woman. All his life, thought and impulse, for 
the time being, was a negation, a refusal of the 
idea of strife and destruction ; in his happy 
egoism he planned to make and build — a home 
and a lifetime of content. 

Now and again, and in spite of his reluctance, 
his veil of happy egoism was brushed aside — 
some chance word or incident forcing him to 
look upon the menace. There was the evening 
in Vallance 's rooms, for instance — where the 
talk settled down to the political crisis, and 
Holt, the long journalist, turned sharply on 
Vallance, who supposed we were drifting into 

" That's nonsense, Vallance ! Nonsense ! 
It's impossible — unthinkable ! " 

" Unpleasant, if you like," said Vallance ; 


" but not impossible. At least — it never has 

" That's no reason," Holt retorted ; " we're 
not living yesterday. There'll be no war, and 
I'll tell you why : because the men who will 
have to start it — daren't ! " He had a pene- 
trating voice which he raised when excited, 
so that other talk died down and the room 
was filled with his argument. Politicians, 
he insisted, might bluff and use threats — 
menace with a bogy, shake a weapon they 
dared not use — but they would stop short at 
threats, manoeuvre for position and retreat. 
Let loose modern science, mechanics and 
chemistry, they could not — there was a limit 
to human insanity, if only because there was 
a limit to the endurance of the soldier. Unless 
you supposed that all politicians were con- 
genital idiots or criminal lunatics out to make 
holocausts. What was happening at present 
was manoeuvring pure and simple ; neither 
side caring to prejudice its case by open ad- 
mission that appeal to force was unthinkable, 
each side hoping that the other would be the 
first to make the admission, each side trotting 
out the dummy soldiers that were only for show, 
and would soon be put back in their boxes. . . . 
War, -he repeated, was unthinkable. ..." 


" Man," said a voice behind Theodore, 
" does much that is unthinkable ! " 

Theodore turned that he might look at the 
speaker — Markham, something in the scientific 
line, who had sat in silence, with a pipe be- 
tween his lips, till he dropped out his slow 

" Your mistake," he went on, " lies in tak- 
ing these people — statesmen, politicians — for 
free agents, and in thinking they have only 
one fear. Look at Meyer's speech this morn- 
ing — that's significant. He has been moder- 
ate so far, a restraining influence ; now he 
breathes fire and throws in his lot with the 
extremists. What do you make of that ? " 

" Merely," said Holt, " that Meyer has lost 
his head." 

" In which happy state," suggested Val- 
lance, "the impossible and unthinkable mayn't 
frighten him." 

" That's one explanation," said Markham. 
" The other is that he is divided between his 
two fears — the fear of war and the fear of his 
democracy, which, being in a quarrelsome and 
restless mood, would break him if he flinched 
and applauds him to the echo when he blusters. 
And, maybe, at the moment, his fear of being 
broken is greater than his fear of the impos- 


sible — at any rate the threat is closer. . . . 
The man himself may be reasonable — even 
now — but he is the instrument of instinctive 
emotion. Almost any man, taken by himself, 
is reasonable — and, being reasonable, cautious. 
Meyer can think, just as well as you and I, so 
long as he stands outside a crowd ; but neither 
you nor I, nor Meyer, can think when we are 
one with thousands and our minds are ab- 
sorbed into a jelly of impulse and emotion." 

" I like your phrase about jelly," said Val- 
lance. " It has an odd picturesqueness. Your 
argument itself — or, rather, your assertion — 
strikes me as a bit sweeping." 

" All the same," Markham nodded, "it's 
worth thinking over. . . . Man in the mass, 
as a crowd, can only feel ; there is no such 
thing as a mass-mind or intellect — only mass 
desires and emotions. That is what I mean by 
saying that Meyer — whatever his intelligence 
or sanity — is the instrument of instinctive 
emotion. . . . And instinctive emotion, Holt 
— until it has been hurt — is damnably and 
owlishly courageous. It isn't clever enough to 
be afraid ; not even of red murder — or starva- 
tion by the million — or the latest thing in gas 
or high explosive. Stir it up enough and it'll 
run on 'em — as the lemmings run to the sea." 


Holt snorted something that sounded like 
" Rot ! " and Vallance, sprawling an arm along 
the mantelpiece, asked, " Another of your 
numerous theories ? " 

" If you like," Markham assented, " but it's 
a theory deduced from hard facts. . . . It's a 
fact, isn't it, that no politician takes a crowd 
into his confidence until he wants to make a 
fight of it ? It's a fact, isn't it, that no move- 
ments in mass are creative or constructive 
— that simultaneous action, simultaneous 
thought, always is and must be destructive? 
Set what we call the People in motion and some- 
thing has got to be broken. The crowd-life is 
still at the elementary, the animal stage; it 
has not yet acquired the human power of 
construction . . . and the crowd, the people, 
democracy — whatever you like to call it — 
has been stirring in the last few years ; getting 
conscious again, getting active, looking round 
for something to break . . . which means that 
the politician is faced once more with the 
necessity of giving it something to break. 
Naturally he prefers that the breakage should 
take place in the distance — and, League or no 
League, the eternal and obvious resource is 
War . . . which was not too risky when 
fought with swords and muskets, but now — as 


Holt says — is impossible. Being a bit of a 
chemist, I'm sure Holt is right ; but I'm also 
sure that man, as a herd, does not think. 
Further, I am doubtful if man, as a herd, ever 
finds out what is impossible except through 
the painful process of breaking his head against 

"I'm a child in politics," said Vallance, 
" and I may be dense — but I'm afraid it isn't 
entirely clear to me whether your views are 
advanced or grossly and shamelessly reac- 
tionary ? " 

" Neither," said Markham, " or both — you 
can take your choice. I have every sympathy 
with the people, the multitude ; it's hard lines 
that it can only achieve destruction — just be- 
cause there is so much of it, because it isn't 
smaller. But I also sympathize with the 
politician in his efforts to control the destruc- 
tive impulse of the multitude. And, finally — 
in view of that progress of science of which 
Holt has reminded us, and of which I know a 
little myself — I'm exceedingly sorry for us 

Someone from across the room asked : 
" You make it war, then ? " 

" I make it war. We have had peace for 
more than a generation, so our periodic blood- 


letting is already a long time overdue. The 
League has staved it off for a bit, but it hasn't 
changed the human constitution ; and the 
real factor in the Karthanian quarrel — or any 
other — is the periodic need of the human herd 
for something to break and for something to 
break itself against. . . . Resistance and self- 
sacrifice — the need of them — the call of the 
lemming to the sea. . . . And, perhaps, it's all 
the stronger in this generation because this 
generation has never known war, and does not 
fear it." 

" Education," said Holt, addressing the air, 
" is general and compulsory — has been so for 
a good many years. The inference being that 
the records of previous wars — and incidentally 
of the devastation involved — are not inacces- 
sible to that large proportion of our popula- 
tion which is known as the average man." 

" As printed pages, yes," Markham agreed. 
" But what proportion even of a literate 
population is able to accept the statement of 
a printed page as if it were a personal ex- 
perience ? " 

" As we're not all fools," Holt retorted, " I 
don't make it war." 

" I hope you're right, for my own sake," 
said Markham good-temperedly. He knocked 


out his pipe as he spoke and made ready to 
go — while Theodore looked after him, inter- 
ested, for the moment, disturbingly. . . . 
Markham's unemotional and matter-of-fact 
acceptance of " periodic blood-letting " made 
rumour suddenly real, and for the first time 
Theodore saw the Karthanian imbroglio as 
more than the substance of telegrams and 
articles, something human, actual, and alive. 
. . . Saw himself, even Phillida, concerned 
in it — through a medley of confused and 
threatening shadows. . . . For the moment 
he was roused from his self-absorption and 
thrust into the world that he shared with the 
common herd of men. He and Phillida were 
no longer as the gods apart, with their lives to 
make in Eden ; they were little human beings, 
the sport of a common human destiny. . . . 
He remembered how eagerly he caught at 
Holt's condemnation of Markham as a crank 
and Vallance's next comment on the crisis. 

" We had exactly the same scare three — 
or was it four ? — years ago. This is the 
trouble about Transylvania all over again — 
just the same alarums and excursions. That 
fizzled out quietly in a month or six weeks 
and the chances are that Karthania will 

fizzle out, too." 


" Of course it will," Holt declared with 
emphasis — and proceeded to demolish Mark- 
ham's theories. Theodore left before he had 
finished his argument ; as explained dogmati- 
cally in Holt's penetrating voice, the intrigues 
and dissensions of the Federal Council were 
once more unreal and frankly boring. The 
argument satisfied, but no longer interested — 
and ten minutes after Markham's departure his 
thoughts had drifted away from politics to the 
private world he shared with Phillida Rathbone. 

For very delight of it he lingered over his 
courtship, finding charm in the pretence of 
uncertainty long after it had ceased to exist. 
To Phillida also there was pleasure not only 
in the winning, but in the exquisite game it- 
self ; once or twice when Theodore was hover- 
ing near avowal, she deferred the inevitable, 
eluded him with laughter, asked tacitly to 
play a little longer. ... In the end the 
avowal came suddenly, on the flash and im- 
pulse of a moment — when Phillida hesitated 
over one of his gifts, a print she had admired 
on the wall of his sitting-room, duly brought 
the next day for her acceptance. 

" No, I oughtn't to take it — it's one of your 
treasures," she remonstrated. 


" If you'd take all I have — and me with it," 
he stammered. . . . That was the crisis of the 
exquisite game — and pretence of uncertainty 
was over. 


One impression of those first golden hours 
that stayed with him always was the certainty 
with which they had dwelt on the details of 
their common future ; he could see Phillida 
with her hands on his shoulders explaining 
earnestly that they must live very near to the 
Dad — the dear old boy had no one but herself 
and they mustn't let him miss her too much. 
And when Theodore asked, " You don't think 
he'll object to me ? " Rathbone's disapproval 
was the only possible cloud — which lifted at 
Phillida's amused assurance that the old dear 
wasn't as blind as all that and, having objec- 
tions, would have voiced them before it was 
too late. 

" You don't suppose he hasn't noticed — 
just because he hasn't said anything ! " . . . 
Whereupon Theodore caught at her hands and 
demanded how long she had noticed ? — and 
they fell to a happy retracing of this step and 
that in their courtship. 

When they heard Rathbone enter she ran 


down alone, telling Theodore to stay where he 
was till she called him ; returning in five 
minutes or so, half-tearful and half-smiling, to 
say the dear old thing was waiting in the lib- 
rary. Then Theodore, in his turn, went down 
to the library where, red to the ears and stam- 
mering platitudes, he shook hands with his 
future father-in-law — proceeding eventually 
to details of his financial position and the hope 
that Rathbone would not insist upon too leng- 
thy an engagement ? . . . The answer was so 
slow in coming that he repeated his question 

" No," said Rathbone at last, " I don't 
know that I " — (he laid stress on the pronoun) 
— " I don't know that I should insist upon a 
very lengthy engagement. Only ..." 

Again he paused so long that Theodore 
repeated " Only? " 

" Only — there may be obstacles — not of 
my making or Phillida's. Connected with the 
office — your work ... I dare say you've 
been too busy with your own affairs to give 
very much attention to the affairs of the 
world in general ; still I conclude the papers 
haven't allowed you to forget that the 
Federal Council was to vote to-day on the 
resolution to take punitive action ? Result 


is just through — half-an-hour ago. Resolution 
carried, by a majority of one only." 

" Was it ? " said Theodore — and remembered 
a vague impulse of resentment, a difficulty in 
bringing down his thoughts from Phillida to 
the earthiness of politics. It took him an 
effort and a moment to add : " Close thing — 
but they've pulled it off." 

" They have," said Rathbone. "Just pulled 
it off — but it remains to be seen if that's 
matter for congratulation. . . . The vote com- 
mits us to action — definitely — and the minor- 
ity have entered a protest against punitive 
action. ... It seems unlikely that the pro- 
test is only formal." 

He was dry and curiously deliberate — 
leaning back in his chair, speaking quietly, 
with fingers pressed together. ... To the 
end Theodore remembered him like that ; a 
square-jawed man, leaning back in his chair, 
speaking slowly, unemotionally — the har- 
binger of infinite misfortune. . . . And him- 
self, the listener, a young man engrossed by his 
own new happiness ; irritated, at first, by the 
intrusion of that which did not concern it ; 
then (as once before in Vallance's rooms) 
uneasy and conscious of a threat. 

He heard himself asking, " You think it's — 


serious ? " and saw Rathbone's mouth twist 
into the odd semblance of a smile. 

" I think so. One way or other we shall 
know within a week." 

" You can't mean — war ? " Theodore asked 
again — remembering Holt and his " Impos- 
sible ! " 

" It doesn't seem unlikely," said Rathbone. 

He had risen, with his hands thrust deep 
into his pockets, and begun to pace backwards 
and forwards. ■' Something may happen at 
the last minute — but it's difficult to see how 
they can draw back. They have gone too far. 
They're committed, just as we are — commit- 
ted to a principle. ... If we yield the Council 
abdicates its authority once for all ; it's an 
end of the League — a plain break, and the 
Lord knows what next. And the other side 
daren't stop at verbal protest. They will 
have to push their challenge ; there's too 
much clamour behind them. ..." 

" There was Transylvania," Theodore re- 
minded him. 

" I know — and nothing came of it. But 
that wasn't pushed quite so far. . . . They 
threatened, but never definitely — they left 
themselves a possibility of retreat. Now . . . 
as I said, something may happen . . . and, 


meanwhile, to go back to what I meant about 
you, personally, how this might affect you 

He dropped into swift explanation. " Con- 
siderable rearrangement in the work of the 
Department — if it should be necessary to place 
it on a war-footing." Theodore's duties — if 
the worst should happen — would certainly 
take him out of London and therefore part 
him from Phillida. " I can tell you that 
definitely — now. ' ' 

Perhaps he realized that the announcement, 
on a day of betrothal, was brutal ; for he 
checked himself suddenly in his walk to and 
fro, clapped the young man good-naturedly 
on the shoulder, repeated that " Something 
might happen " and supposed he would not be 
sorry to hear that a member of the Govern- 
ment required his presence — " So you and 
Phillida can dine without superfluous parents." 
. . . And he said no word of war or parting to 
Phillida — who came down with Theodore to 
watch her father off, standing arm-in-arm 
upon the doorstep in the pride of her new re- 

The threat lightened as they dined alone 
deliciously, as a foretaste of housekeeping in 
common ; Phillida left him no thoughts to 


stray and only once, while the evening lasted, 
did they look from their private Paradise upon 
the world of common humanity. Phillida, 
as the clock neared ten, wondered vaguely 
what Henderson had wanted with her father ? 
Was there anything particular, did Theodore 
know, any news about the Federal Council ? 
... He hesitated for a moment, then told 
her the bare facts only — the vote and the 
minority protest. 

" A protest," she repeated. "That's what 
they've all been afraid of. . . . It looks bad, 
doesn't it ? " 

He agreed it looked bad ; thinking less, it 
may be, of the threat of red ruin and disaster 
than of Rathbone's warning that his duties 
would part him from Phillida. 

" I hope it doesn't mean war," she said. 

At the time her voice struck him as serious, 
even anxious ; later it amazed him that she 
had spoken so quietly, that there was no 
trembling of the slim white fingers that played 
with her chain of heavy beads. 

" Do you think it does ? " she asked him. 

Because he remembered the threat of part- 
ing and had need of her daily presence, he was 
stubborn in declaring that it did not, and could 
not, mean war ; quoting Holt that modern 


war was impossible, that statesmen and 
soldiers knew it, and insisting that this was 
the Transylvanian business over again and 
would be settled as that was settled. She 
shook her head thoughtfully, having heard 
other views from her father ; but her voice 
(he knew later) was thoughtful only — not a 
quiver, not a hint of real fear in it. 

" It'll have to come sometime — now or in a 
year or two. At least, that's what everybody 
says. I wonder if it's time." 

" No," he said, "it isn't — unless we make it 
true. This sort of thing — it's a kind of com- 
mon nightmare we have now and then. Every 
few years — and when it's over we turn round 
and wake up and wonder what the devil we 
were frightened about." 

' Yes," she agreed, " when you come to 
think of it, it is rather like that. I don't 
remember in the least what the fuss was all 
about last time — but I know the papers were 
full of Transylvania and the poor old Dad was 
worked off his head for a week or two. . . . 
And then it was over and we forgot all about 

And at that they turned and went back to 
their golden solitude, shutting out, for the rest 
of the evening, a world that made protests and 


sent ominous telegrams. Before Theodore 
left her, to walk home restless with delight, 
they had decided on the fashion of Phillida's 
ring and planned the acquisition of a Georgian 
house- — with powder-closet. 

It was his restless delight that made sleep 
impossible — and he sat at his window and 
smoked till the east was red. . . . While 
Henderson and Rathbone, a mile or two away, 
planned Distribution on a war-footing. 

Events in the next few days moved rapidly 
in an atmosphere of tense and rising life ; 
races and peoples were suddenly and acutely 
conscious of their life collective, and the 
neighbourly quarrel and bitterness of yester- 
day was forgotten in the new comradeship 
born of common hatred and common passion 
for self-sacrifice. There was talk at first, with 
diplomatists and leader-writers, of a possi- 
bility of localizing the conflict ; but within 
forty-eight hours of the issue of the minority 
protest it was clear that the League would be 
rent. On one side, as on the other, statesmen 
were popular only when known to be unyield- 
ing in the face of impossible demands ; crowds 
gathered when ministers met to take counsel 
and greeted them with cries to stand fast. 


Behind vulgar effervescence and music-hall 
thunder was faith in a righteous cause ; and, 
as ever, man believed in himself and his cause 
with a hand on the hilt of his sword. Free- 
dom and justice were suddenly real and at- 
tainable swiftly — through violence wrought 
on their enemies. . . . Humanity, once more, 
was inspired by ideals that justified the shed- 
ding of blood and looked death in the face 
without fear. 

As always, there were currents and cross- 
currents, and those who were not seized by the 
common, splendid passion denounced it. Some 
meanly, by distortion of motive — crying down 
faith as cupidity and the impulse to self- 
sacrifice as arrogance ; and others, more 
worthy of hearing, who realized that the 
impulse to self-sacrifice is passing and the 
idealism of to-day the bestial cunning of 
to-morrow. ... On one side and the other 
there was an attempt on the part of those who 
foresaw something, at least, of the inevitable, 
to pit fear against the impulse to self-sacri- 
fice and make clear to a people to whom war 
was a legend only the extent of disaster ahead. 
The attempt was defeated, almost as begun, 
by the sudden launching of an ultimatum 
with twenty-four hours for reply. 


At the news young men surged to the re- 
cruiting-stations, awaiting their turn for ad- 
mission in long shouting, jesting lines ; the 
best blood and honour of a generation that 
had not yet sated its inborn lust of combat. 
Women stood to watch them as their ranks 
moved slowly to the goal — some proud to 
tears, others giggling a foolish approval. 
Great shifting crowds — men and women who 
could not rest — gathered in public places and 
awaited the inevitable news. In the last few 
hours — all protest being useless — even the 
loudest of the voices that clamoured against 
war had died down ; and in the life collective 
was the strange, sudden peace which comes 
with the cessation of internal feud and the 
focusing of hatred on those who dwell beyond 
a nation's borders. 

Theodore Savage, in the days that followed 
his betrothal, was kept with his nose to the 
Distributive grindstone, working long hours 
of overtime in an atmosphere transformed out 
of knowledge. The languid and formal rou- 
tine of departments was succeeded by a fever 
of hurried innovation ; gone were the lazy, 
semi-occupied hours when he had been wont to 


play with his thoughts of Phillida and the long 
free evenings that were hers as a matter of 
course. In the beginning he felt himself 
curiously removed from the strong, heady 
atmosphere that affected others like wine. 
Absorption in Phillida counted for something 
in his aloofness, but even without it his tem- 
perament was essentially averse from the 
crowd-life ; he was stirred by the common 
desire to be of service, but was conscious of no 
mounting of energy restless and unsatisfied. 
. . . Having little conviction or bias in poli- 
tics, he accepted without question the general 
version of the origins of conflict and resented, 
in orthodox fashion, the gross breach of faith 
and agreement which betrayed long estab- 
lished design. " It had got to be " and 
" They've been getting ready for years " were 
phrases on the general lip which he saw no 
reason to discredit ; and, with acceptance of 
the inevitability of conflict, he ceased to find 
conflict " unthinkable." In daily intercourse 
with those to whom it was thinkable, practical, 
a certainty — to some, in the end, a desirable 
certainty — Holt's phrase lost its meaning and 
became a symbolic extravagance. ... So far 
he was caught in the swirl of the crowd-life ; 
but he was never one with it and remained 


conscious of it always as something that 
flowed by him, something apart from himself. 

Above all he knew it as something apart 
when he saw how it had seized and mastered 
Phillida. She was curiously alive to its sweep 
and emotion, and beneath her outward dainti- 
ness lay the power of fervid partisanship. 
" If it weren't for you," she told him once, " I 
should break my heart because I'm only a 
woman " ; and he saw that she pitied him, 
that she was even resentful for his sake, when 
she learned from her father that there was no 
question of allowing the clerks of the Distribu- 
tion Office to volunteer for military service. 

" He says the Department will need all its 
trained men and that modern war is won by 
organization even more than by fighting. I'm 
glad you won't have to go, my dear — I'm 
glad — " and, saying it, she clung to him as to 
one who stood in need of consolation. 

He felt the implied consolation and sym- 
pathy — with a twinge of conscience, not 
entirely sure of deserving it. But for the 
rigid departmental order, he knew he should 
have thought it his duty to volunteer and take 
his share . of the danger that others were 
clamouring to face; but he had not cursed 
vehemently, like his junior, Cassidy, when 


Holies, equally blasphemous, burst into the 
room with the news that enlistment was 
barred. He thought of Cassidy's angry blue 
eyes as he swore that, by hook or by crook, he 
would find his way into the air-service. . . . 
Phillida would have sympathized with Cassidy 
and the flash of her eyes answered his ; she 
too, for the moment, was one with the crowd- 
life, and there were moments when he felt it 
was sweeping her away from his hold. 

He felt it most on their last evening, on the 
night the ultimatum expired ; when he came 
from the office, after hours of overtime, uncer- 
tain whether he should find her, wondering 
whether her excited restlessness had driven 
her out into the crowds that surged round 
Whitehall. As he ran up the stairs the sound 
of a piano drifted from the room above ; no 
definite melody but a vague, irregular striking 
of chords that came to an end as he entered the 
room and Phillida looked up, expectant. 

" At last," she said as she ran to him. 
" You don't know how I have wanted you. 
I can't be alone — if you hadn't turned up I 
should have had to find someone to talk to." 

" Anyone — didn't matter who ? " he sug- 

She laughed, caught his hand and rubbed 


her cheek against it. " Yes, anyone — you 
know what I mean. It's just — when you 
think of what's happening, how can you keep 
still ? ... As for father, I never see him 
nowadays. I suppose there isn't any news ? " 

" There can't be," he answered. " Not till 

" No — and even at twelve it won't really be 
news. Just no answer — and the time will be 
up . . . We're at peace now — till midnight 
. . . What's the time ? " 

He longed to be alone with her — alone with 
her in thought as well as in outward seeming — 
but her talk slipped restlessly away from his 
leading and she moved uncertainly about the 
room, returning at last to her vague striking 
of the piano — sharp, isolated notes, and then 
suddenly a masterful chord. 

" Play to me," he asked, " play properly." 

She shook her head and declared it was im- 

" Anything connected is beyond me ; I can 
only strum and make noises." She crashed in 
the bass, rushed a swift arpeggio to the 
treble, then turned to him, her eyes wide and 
glowing. " If you hold your breath, can't 
you feel them all waiting ? — thousands on 
thousands — all through the world? . . . 


Waiting till midnight . . . can't you feel 
it? " 

" You make me feel it," he answered. 
" Tell me — you want war ? " 

The last words came out involuntarily, and 
it was only the startled, sudden change in her 
face that brought home to him what he had said. 

" I want war," she echoed. ..." I want 
men to be killed . . . Theodore, what makes 
you say that ? " 

He fumbled for words, not sure of his own 
meaning — sure only that her eyes would 
change and lose their fervour if, at the last 
moment and by God-sent miracle, the sword 
were returned to its sheath. 

"Not that, of course — not the actual fight- 
ing. I didn't mean that . . . But isn't there 
something in you — in you and in everyone — 
that's too strong to be arrested? Too swift? 
... If nothing happened — if we drew back — 
you couldn't be still now ; you couldn't endure 
it ... " 

She looked at him thoughtfully, puzzled, 
half-assenting ; then protested again : "I 
don't want it — but we can't be still and endure 

" No," he said, " we can't — but isn't there 
a gladness in the thought that we can't ? " 


" Because we're right," she flashed. " It's 
not selfish — you know it isn't selfish. We see 
what is right and, whatever it costs us, we 
stand for it. The greatest gladness of all is 
the gladness of giving — everything, even life. 
. . . That's what makes me wish I were a 
man ! " 

" The passion for self-sacrifice," he said, 
quoting Markham. " I was told the other day 
it was one of the causes of war. . . . Don't 
look at me so reproachfully — I'm not a 
pacifist. Give me a kiss and believe ms." 

She laughed and gave him the kiss he asked 
for, and for a minute or two he drew her out 
of the crowd-life and they were alone together 
as they had been on the night of their be- 
trothal. Then the spirit of restlessness took 
hold of her again and she rose suddenly, 
declaring they must find out what was hap- 
pening — they must go out and see for them- 

" It's only just past ten," he argued. 
' What can be happening for another two 
hours ? There'll only be a crowd — walking up 
and down and waiting." 

It was just the crowd and its going to and 
fro that she needed, and she set to work to 
coax him out of his reluctance. There would 


never be another night like this one — they 
must see it together and remember it as long 
as they lived. . . . Perhaps, her point gained, 
she was remorseful, for she rewarded his assent 
with a caress and a coaxing apology. 

" We shall have so many evenings to our- 
selves," she told him — " and to-night — to- 
night we don't only belong to ourselves." 

He could feel her arm tremble and thrill on 
his own as they came in sight of the Clock 
Tower and the swarm of expectant humanity 
that moved and murmured round West- 
minster. On him the first impression was of 
seething insignificance that the Clock Tower 
dwarfed and the dignity of night reproved ; 
on her, as he knew by the trembling of her 
fingers, a quickening of life and sensation. . . . 

They were still at the shifting edges of the 
crowd when a man's voice called " Phillida ! " 
and one of her undergraduate cousins linked 
himself on to their company. For nearly an 
hour the three moved backwards and forwards 
— through the hum and mutter of voices, the 
ceaseless turning of eyes to Big Ben and the 
shuffling of innumerable feet. . . . When the 
quarters chimed, there was always a hush ; 
when eleven throbbed solemnly, no man 
stirred till the last beat died. . . . With 


silence and arrested movement the massed 
humanity at the base of the Clock Tower was 
no longer a seething insignificance ; without 
speech, without motion, it was suddenly dig- 
nified — life faced with its destiny and intent 
upon a Moving Finger. . . . 

" Only one more hour," whispered Phillida 
as the silence broke ; and the Rathbone boy, 
to show he was not moved, wondered if it was 
worth their while to stay pottering about for 
an hour ? . . . No one answered his question, 
since it needed no answer ; and, the dignity 
of silence over, they drifted again with the 


The Moving Finger had written off another 
five minutes or so when police were suddenly 
active and sections of the crowd lunged un- 
comfortably ; way was being made for the 
passing of an official car — and in the backward 
swirl of packed humanity Theodore was thrust 
one way, Phillida and the Rathbone boy 
another. For a moment he saw them as they 
looked round and beckoned him ; the next, 
the swirl had carried him yet further — and 
when it receded they were lost amongst the 
drifting, shifting thousands. After ten min- 
utes more of pushing to and fro in search of 
them, Theodore gave up the chase as fruitless 
and made his way disconsolately to the West- 
minster edge of the crowd. . . . Phillida, if 
he knew her, would stay till the stroke of 
midnight, later if the spirit moved her ; and 
she had an escort in the Rathbone boy, who, 
in due time, would see her home. . . . There 
was no need to worry — but he cursed the luck 
of what might be their last evening. 



For a time he lingered uncertainly on the 
edge of the pushing, shuffling mass ; perhaps 
would have lingered till the hour struck, if 
there had not drifted to his memory the even- 
ing at Vallance's when Holt had declared this 
night to be impossible — and when Markham 
had " made it war." And, with that, he 
remembered also that Markham had rooms 
near by — in one of the turnings off Great Smith 

There was a light in the room that he knew 
for Markham's and it was only after, he had 
rung that he wondered what had urged him to 
come. He was still wondering when the door 
opened and could think of no better explana- 
tion than " I saw you were up — by your light." 

" If you'd passed five minutes ago," said 
Markham, as he led the way upstairs, " you 
wouldn't have seen any light. I'm only just 
back from the lab — and dining off biscuits and 

" Is this making any difference to you, 
then ? " Theodore asked. " I mean, in the 
way of work ? " 

Markham nodded as he poured out his 
visitor's whisky. " Yes, I'm serving the 
country — the military people have taken me 
over, lock and stock : with everyone else, 


apparently, who has ever done chemical 
research. I've been pretty hard at it the last 
few days, ever since the scare was serious. 
. . . And you — are you soldiering ? " 

" No," said Theodore and told him of the 
departmental prohibition. 

" It mayn't make much difference in the 
end," said Markham. ..." You see, I was 
right — the other evening." 

" Yes," Theodore answered, " I believe that 
was why I came in. The crowd to-night 
reminded me of what you said at Vallance's — 
though I don't think I believed you then. 
. . . How long is it going to last ? " 

" God knows," said Markham, with his 
mouth full of biscuit. " We shall have had 
enough of it — both sides — before very long ; 
but it's one thing to march into hell with your 
head up and another to find a way out. . . . 
There's only one thing I'm fairly certain about 
— I ought to have been strangled at birth." 

Theodore stared at him, not sure he had 
caught the last words. 

" You ought to ? " 

" Yes — you heard me right. If the human 
animal must fight — and nothing seems to stop 
it — it should kill off its scientific men. Stamp 
out the race of 'em, forbid it to exist. . . . 


Holt was also right that evening, fundamen- 
tally. You can't combine the practice of 
science and the art of war ; in the end, it's one 
or the other. We, I think, are going to prove 
that — very definitely." 

" And when you've proved it — we stop 
fighting ? " 

Markham shrugged his shoulders, thrust 
aside his plate and filled his pipe. 

" Curious, the failure to understand the 
influence on ourselves of what we make and 
use. We just make and use and damn the 
consequence. . . . When Lavoisier invented 
the chemical balance, did he stop to consider 
the possibilities of chemical action in combina- 
tion with outbursts of human emotion ? If he 
had . . . ! " 

In the silence that followed they heard the 
chiming of three-quarters — and there flashed 
inconsequently into Theodore's memory, a 
vision of himself, a small boy with his hand in 
his mother's, staring up, round-eyed, at Big 
Ben of London — while his mother taught him 
the words that were fitted to the chime. 

Lord — through — this — hour 
Be — Thou — our — guide, 
So — by — Thy — power 
No — foot — shall — slide. 


. . . That, or something like that. . . . Odd, 
that he should remember them now — when 
for years he had not remembered. . . ."Lord 

— through — this — hour ' ' 

He realized suddenly that Markham was 
speaking — in jerks, between pulls at his pipe. 
"... And the same with mechanics — not the 
engine but the engine plus humanity. Take 
young James Watt and his interest in the lid 
of a tea-kettle ! In France, by the way, they 
tell the same story of Papin ; but, so far as the 
rest of us are concerned it doesn't much matter 
who first watched the lid of a kettle with 
intelligence — the point is that somebody 
watched it and saw certain of its latent pos- 
sibilities. Only its more immediate possi- 
bilities — and we may take it for granted that 
amongst those which he did not foresee were 
the most important. The industrial system — 
the drawing of men into crowds where they 
might feed the machine and be fed by it — the 
shrinkage of the world through the use of 
mechanical transport. That — the shrinkage 
— when we first saw it coming, we took to 
mean union of peoples and the clasping of 
distant hands — forgetting that it also meant 
the cutting of distant throats. . . . Yet it 
might have struck us that we are all potential 


combatants; — and the only known method of 
preventing a fight is to keep the combatants 
apart ! These odd, simple facts that we all of 
us know — and lose sight of . . . the drawing 
together of peoples has always meant the clash- 
ing of their interests . . . and so new hatreds. 
Inevitably new hatreds." 

Theodore quoted: "'All men hate each 
other naturally ' . . . You believe that ? " 

" Of individuals, no — but of all communi- 
ties, yes. Is there any form of the life collec- 
tive that is capable of love for its fellow — for 
another community ? Is there any church 
that will stand aside that another church may 
be advantaged ? . . . You and I are civilized, 
as man and man ; but collectively we are part 
of a life whose only standard and motive is 
self-interest, its own advantage ... a beast- 
life, morally. If you understand that, you 
understand to-night . . .Which demands from 
us sacrifices, makes none itself. . . . That's 
as far as we have got in the mass." 

Through the half-open window came the 
hum and murmur of the crowd that waited for 
the hour. . . . Theodore stirred restlessly, 
conscious of the unseen turning of countless 
faces to the clock — and aware, through the 
murmur, of the frenzied little beating of his 


watch. ... He hesitated to look at it — and 
when he drew it out and said " Five minutes 
more," his voice sounded oddly in his ears. 

" Five minutes," said Markham. ... He 
laughed suddenly and pushed the bottle across 
the table. " Do you know where we are now 
— you and I and all of us ? On the crest of the 
centuries. They've carried us a long roll 
upwards and now here we are — on top ! In 
five more minutes — three hundred little sec- 
onds — we shall hear the crest curl over. . . . 
Meanwhile, have a drink ! " 

He checked himself and held up a finger. 
" Your watch is slow ! " 

The hum and murmur of the crowd had 
ceased and through silence unbroken came the 
prayer of the Westminster chime. 

Lord — through — this — hour 
Be — Thou — our — guide, 
So — by — Thy — power 
No — foot— shall — slide. 

There was no other sound for the twelve 
booming strokes of the hour : it was only as 
the last beat quivered into silence that there 
broke the moving thunder of a multitude. 

" Over ! " said Markham. " Hear it crash ? 
. . . Well, here's to the centuries — after all, 
they did the best they knew for us ! " 

The war-footing arrangements of the Distri- 
bution Office included a system of food con- 
trol involving local supervision ; hence pro- 
vincial centres came suddenly into being, and 
to one of these — at York — Theodore Savage 
was dispatched at little more than an hour's 
notice on the morning after war was declared. 
He telephoned Phillida and they met at King's 
Cross and had ten hurried minutes on the 
platform ; she was still eager and excited, 
bubbling over with the impulse to action — 
was hoping to start training for hospital work 
— had been promised an opening — she would 
tell him all about it when she wrote. Her ex- 
citement took the bitterness out of the parting 
— perhaps, in her need to give and serve, she 
was even proud that the sacrifice of parting 
was demanded of her. . . . The last he saw 
of her was a smiling face and a cheery little 
wave of the hand. 

He. made the journey to York with a 



carriageful of friendly and talkative folk who, 
in normal days, would have been strangers to 
him and to each other ; as it was, they ex- 
changed newspapers and optimistic views and 
grew suddenly near to each other in their 
common interest and resentment. . . . That 
was what war meant in those first stirring 
days — friendliness, good comradeship, the 
desire to give and serve, the thrill of unwonted 
excitement. . . . Looking back from after 
years it seemed to him that mankind, in those 
days, was finer and more gracious than he had 
ever known it — than he would ever know it 

The first excitement over, he lived some- 
what tediously at York between his office and 
dingily respectable lodgings ; discovering very 
swiftly that, so far as he, Theodore Savage, 
was concerned, a state of hostilities meant the 
reverse of alarums and excursions. For him 
it was the strictest of official routine and the 
multiplication of formalities. His hours of 
liberty were fewer than in London, his duties 
more tiresome, his chief less easy to get on 
with ; there was frequent overtime, and leave 
— which meant Phillida — was not even a 
distant possibility. For all his honest desire 


of service he was soon frankly bored by his 
work ; its atmosphere of minute regularity 
and insistent detail was out of keeping with 
the tremor and uncertainty of war, and there 
was something aesthetically wrong about a 
fussy process of docketing and checking while 
nations were at death grips and the fate of a 
world in the balance. . . . His one personal 
satisfaction was the town, York itself — the 
walls, the Bars, and above all the Minster ; 
he lodged near the Minster, could see it from 
his window, and its enduring dignit}^ was a 
daily relief alike from the feverish perusal of 
war news, his landlady's colour-scheme and 
taste in furniture and the fidgety trifling of 
the office. 

In the evening he read many newspapers 
and wrote long letters to Phillida ; who also, 
he gathered, had discovered that war might 
be tedious. " We haven't any patients yet," 
she scribbled him in one of her later letters, 
" but, of course, I'm learning all sorts of things 
that will be useful later on, when we do get 
them. Bandaging and making beds — and then 
we attend lectures. It's rather dull waiting 
and bandaging each other for practice — but 
naturally I'm thankful that there aren't 
enough casualties to go round. Up to now the 


regular hospitals have taken all that there are 
— ' temporaries ' like us don't get even a look 
in. . . . The news is really splendid, isn't 

There were few casualties in the beginning 
because curiously little happened ; Western 
Europe was removed from the actual storm- 
centre, and in England, after the first few days 
of alarmist rumours concerning invasion by 
air and sea, the war, for a time, settled down 
into a certain amount of precautionary ration- 
ing and a daily excitement in newspaper form 
— so much so that the timorous well-to-do, 
who had retired from London on the outbreak 
of hostilities, trickled back in increasing num- 
bers. Hostilities, in the beginning, were local 
and comparatively ineffective ; one of the 
results of the limitation of troops and arma- 
ments enforced by the constitution of the 
League was to give to the opening moves of 
the contest a character unprepared and 
amateurish. The aim, on either side, was to 
obtain time for effective preparation, to 
organize forces and resources ; to train 
fighters and mobilize chemists, to convert 
factories, manufacture explosive and gas, and 
institute a system of co-operation between the 
strategy of far-flung allies. Hence, in the be- 


ginning, the conflict was partial and, as re- 
gards its strategy, hesitating ; there were 
spasms of bloody incident which were deadly 
enough in themselves, but neither side cared 
to engage itself seriously before it had attained 
its full strength. . . . First blood was shed in 
a fashion that was frankly mediaeval ; the 
heady little democracy whose failure to estab- 
lish a claim in the Court of Arbitration had 
been the immediate cause of the conflict, flung 
itself with all its half-civilized resources upon 
its neighbour and enemy, the victorious party 
to the suit. Between the two little communi- 
ties was a treasured feud which had burst out 
periodically in defiance of courts and councils ; 
and, control once removed, the border tribes- 
men gathered for the fray with all the enthusi- 
asm of their rude forefathers, and raided each 
other's territory in bands armed with knives 
and revolvers. Their doings made spirited 
reading in the press in the early daj^s of the 
war — before the generality of newspaper read- 
ers had even begun to realize that battles 
were no longer won by the shock of troops and 
that the root -principle of modern warfare was 
the use of the enemy civilian population as an 
auxiliary destructive force. 
Certain states and races grasped the prin- 


ciple sooner than others, being marked out for 
early enlightenment by the accident of geo- 
graphical position. In those not immediately 
affected, such as Britain, censorship on either 
side ruled out, as impossible for publication, 
the extent of the damage inflicted on allies, 
and the fact that it was not only in enemy 
countries that large masses of population, 
hunted out of cities by chemical warfare and 
the terror from above, had become nomadic 
and predatory. That, as the struggle grew 
fiercer, became, inevitably, the declared aim 
of the strategist ; the exhaustion of the 
enemy by burdening him with a starving and 
nomadic population. War, once a matter of 
armies in the field, had resolved itself into an 
open and thorough-going effort to ruin enemy 
industry by setting his people on the run ; to 
destroy enemy agriculture not only by in- 
cendiary devices — the so-called poison-fire — 
but by the secondary and even more potent 
agency of starving millions driven out to 
forage as they could. . . . The process, in 
the stilted phrase of the communique, was 
described as " displacement of population " ; 
and displacement of population, not vic- 
tory in the field, became the real military 


To the soldier, at least, it was evident very 
early in the struggle that the perfection of 
scientific destruction had entailed, of necessity, 
the indirect system of strategy associated with 
industrial warfare ; displacement of popula- 
tion being no more than a natural development 
of the striker's method of attacking a govern- 
ment by starving the non-combatant com- 
munity. The aim of the scientific soldier, like 
that of the soldier of the past, was to cut his 
enemy's communications, to intercept and 
hamper his supplies ; and the obvious way to 
attain that end was by ruthless disorganization 
of industrial centres, by letting loose a fam- 
ished industrial population to trample and 
devour his crops. Manufacturing districts, on 
either side, were rendered impossible to work 
in by making them impossible to live in ; and 
from one crowded centre after another there 
streamed out squalid and panic-stricken herds, 
devouring the country as they fled. Seeking 
food, seeking refuge, turning this way or that ; 
pursued by the terror overhead or imagining 
themselves pursued ; and breaking, striving to 
separate, to make themselves small and in- 
visible. . . . And, as air-fleets increased in 
strength and tactics were perfected — as one 
centre of industry after another went down 


and out — the process of disintegration was 
rapid. To the tentative and hesitating open- 
ing of the war had succeeded a fury of wide- 
spread destruction ; and statesmen, rendered 
desperate by the sudden crumbling of their 
own people — the sudden lapse into primitive 
conditions — could hope for salvation only 
through a quicker process of " displacement " 
on the enemy side. 

There were reasons, political and military, 
why the average British civilian, during the 
opening phases of the struggle, knew little of 
warfare beyond certain food restrictions, the 
news vouchsafed in the communiques and the 
regulation comments thereon ; the enemy 
forces which might have brought home to him 
the meaning of the term " displacement " 
were occupied at first with other and nearer 
antagonists. Hence continental Europe — and 
not Europe alone — was spotted with ulcers of 
spreading devastation before displacement 
was practised in England. There had been 
stirrings of uneasiness from time to time — of 
uneasiness and almost of wonder that the 
weapon she was using with deadly effect had 
not been turned against herself ; but at the 
actual moment of invasion there was some- 
thing like public confidence in a speedy end to 


the struggle — and the principal public griev- 
ance was the shortage and high price of 

Whatever he forgot and confused in after 
days — and there were stretches of time that 
remained with him only as a blur — Theodore 
remembered very clearly every detail and 
event of the night when disaster began. 
Young Hewlett's voice as he announced 
disaster — and what he, Theodore, was doing 
when the boy rapped on the window. Not 
only what happened, but his mood when the 
interruption came and the causes of it ; he had 
suffered an irritating day at the office, crossed 
swords with a self-important chief and been 
openly snubbed for his pains. As a result, his 
landlady's evening grumble on the difficulties 
of war-time housekeeping seemed longer and 
less bearable than usual, and he was still out of 
tune with the world in general when he sat 
down to write to Phillida. He remembered 
phrases of the letter — never posted — wherein 
he worked off his irritation. " I got into 
trouble to-day through thinking of you when 
I was supposed to be occupied with indents. 
You are responsible, Blessed Girl, for several 
most horrible muckers, affecting the service of 


the country. . . . Your empty hospital don't 
want you and my empty-headed boss don't 
want me — oh, lady mine, if I could only make 
him happy by sacking myself and catching 
the next train to London ! " . . . And so on 
and so on. . . . 

It was late, nearing midnight, when he 
finished his letter and, for want of other occu- 
pation, turned back to a half-read evening 
paper ; the communiques were meagre, but 
there was a leading article pointing out the 
inevitable effect of displacement on the enemy's 
resources and moral, and he waded through its 
comfortable optimism. As he laid aside the 
paper he realized how sleepy he was and rose 
yawning ; he was on his way to the door, with 
intent to turn in, when the rapping on the 
window halted him. He pulled aside the 
blind and saw a face against the glass — pressed 
close, with a flattened white nose. 

" Who's that ? " he asked, pushing up the 
window. It was Hewlett, one of his juniors 
at the office, out of breath with running and 

" I say, Savage, come along out. There's 
no end going on — fires, the whole sky's red. 
They've come over at last and no mistake. 
Crashaw and I have been watching 'em and I 


thought you'd like to have a look. It's worth 
seeing — we're just along there, on the wall. 
Hurry up ! " 

The boy was dancing with eagerness to get 
back and Theodore had to run to keep up with 
him. He and Crashaw, Hewlett explained in 
gasps, had spent the evening in a billiard- 
room ; it was on their way back to their 
diggings that they had noticed sudden lights 
in the sky — sort of flashes — and gone up on 
the wall to see better. . . . No, it wasn't only 
searchlights — you could see them too — sudden 
flashes and the sky all red. Fires — to the 
south. It was the real thing, no doubt about 
that — and the only wonder was why they 
hadn't come before. ... At the head of the 
steps leading up to the wall were three or four 
figures with their heads all turned one way ; 
and as Hewlett, mounting first, called " Still 
going on ? " another voice called back, 

They stood on the broad, flat wall and 
watched — in a chill little wind. The skyline 
to the south and south-west was reddened with 
a glow that flickered and wavered spasmodi- 
cally and, as Hewlett had said, there were 
flashes — the bursting of explosive or star- 
shells. Also there were moments when the 


reddened skyline throbbed suddenly in places, 
grew vividly golden and sent out long fiery 
streamers. . . . They guessed at direction and 
wondered how far off ; the wind was blowing 
sharply from the north, towards the glow ; 
hence it carried sound away from them and it 
was only now and then that they caught more 
than a mutter and rumble. 

As the minutes drew out the news spread 
through the town and the watchers on the 
wall increased in numbers ; not only men but 
women, roused from bed, who greeted the 
flares with shrill, excited " Oh's " and put 
ceaseless questions to their men folk. Young 
Hewlett, at Theodore's elbow, gave himself 
up to frank interest in his first sight of war ; 
justifying a cheerfulness that amounted to 
enthusiasm by explaining at intervals that he 
guessed our fellows were giving 'em what for 
and by this time they were sorry they'd come. 
. . . Once a shawled woman demanded tartly 
why they didn't leave off, then, if they'd had 
enough ? Whereat Hewlett, unable to think 
of an answer, pretended not to hear and moved 

Of his own sensations while he watched from 
the wall Theodore remembered little save the 
bodily sensation of chill ; he saw himself 


standing with his back to the wind, his 
shoulders hunched and the collar of his coat 
turned up. The murmur of hushed voices 
remained with him and odd snatches of frag- 
mentary talk ; there was the woman who 
persisted uneasily, " But you can't 'ear 'em 
coming with these 'ere silent engines — why, 
they might be right over us naow ! " And 
the man who answered her gruffly with " You'd 
jolly well know if they were ! " . . . And per- 
petual conjecture as to distance and direction 
of the glow ; disputes between those who as- 
serted that over there was Leeds, and those 
who scoffed contemptuously at the idea — 
arguing that, if Leeds were the centre of 
disturbance, the guns would have sounded 
much nearer. . . . Petty talk, he remem- 
bered, and plainly enough — but not how much 
he feared or foresaw. He must have been 
anxious, uneasy, or he would not have stood 
for long hours in the chill of the wind ; but his 
definite impressions were only of scattered, 
for the most part uneducated, talk, of sil- 
houetted figures that shifted and grouped, of 
turning his eyes from the lurid skyline to the 
shadowy rock that in daylight was the mass of 
the cathedral. ... In the end sheer craving 
for warmth drove him in ; leaving Hewlett 


and Crashaw deaf to his reminder that the 
office expected them at nine. 

With the morning came news and — more 
plentifully — rumour ; also, the wind having 
dropped, a persistent thunder from the 
south. Industrial Yorkshire, it was clear, was 
being subjected to that process of human dis- 
placement which, so far, it had looked on as an 
item in the daily communique ; the attack, 
moreover, was an attack in force, since the 
invaders did not find it needful to desist with 
the passing of darkness. Rumour, in the 
absence of official intelligence, invented an 
enveloping air-fleet which should cut them off 
from their base ; and meanwhile the thunder 
continued. . . . 

This much, at least, was shortly official and 
certain : nearly all rail, road and postal com- 
munication to the south was cut off — trains 
had ceased to run Londonwards and ordinary 
traffic on the highways was held up at barriers 
and turned back. Only military cars used 
the roads — and returned to add their reports 
to those brought in by air-scouts ; but as a 
rule the information they furnished was for 
official enlightenment only, and it was not till 
the refugees arrived in numbers that the full 


meaning of displacement was made clear to 
the ordinary man. 

It was after the second red night that the 
refugees appeared in their thousands — a horde 
of human rats driven out of their holes by 
terror, by fire and by gas. Whatever their 
status and possessions in the life of peace, they 
came with few exceptions on foot ; as roads, 
like railways, were a target for the airman, 
the highway was avoided for the by-path or 
the open field, and the flight from every panic- 
stricken centre could be traced by long wastes 
of trampled crops. There were those who, 
terrified beyond bearing by the crash of 
masonry and long trembling underground, 
saw safety only in the roofless open, refused 
to enter nouses and persisted in huddling in 
fields — unafraid, as yet, of the so-called 
poison-fire which had licked up the crops in 
Holderness and the corn-growing district 
round Pontefract. . . . Leeds, for a day or 
two, was hardly touched ; but with the out- 
pouring of fugitives from Dewsbury, Wake- 
field, Halifax and Bradford, Leeds also began 
to vomit her terrified multitudes. A wave of 
vagrant destitution rushed suddenly and 
blindly northward — anywhere away from the 
ruin of explosive, the flames and death by 


suffocation ; while authority strove vainly 
to control and direct the torrent of over- 
powering misery. 

It was in the early morning that the torrent 
reached York and rolled through it ; over- 
whelming the charity, private and public, that 
at first made efforts to cope with the rush of 
misery. Theodore's room for a time was given 
up to a man with bandaged eyes and puffed 
face whom his wife had led blindfold from 
Castleford. The man himself sat dumb and 
suffering, breathing heavily through blistered 
lips ; the woman raged vulgarly against the 
Government which had neglected to supply 
them with gas-masks, to have the place pro- 
perly defended, to warn people! "The bloody 
fools ought to have known what was coming 
and if her man was blinded for the rest of his 
life it was all the fault of this 'ere Government 
that never troubled its blasted 'ead as long as 
it drew its money." . . . That was in the 
beginning, before the flood of misery had 
swollen so high that even the kindliest shrank 
from its squalid menace ; and Theodore, be- 
cause it was the first he heard, remembered her 
story when he had forgotten others more 

Before midday there was only one problem 


for local authority, civil and military — the 
disposal of displaced population ; that is to 
say, the herding of vagrants that could not 
all be sheltered, that could not all be fed, that 
blackened fields, choked streets, drove onward 
and sank from exhaustion. The railway line 
to the north was still clear and, in obedience 
to wireless instructions from London, trains 
packed with refugees were sent off to the 
north, with the aim of relieving the pressure 
on local resources. Disorganization of trans- 
port increased the difficulty of food supply 
and even on the first day of panic and migra- 
tion the agricultural community were raising 
a cry of alarm. Blind terror and hunger 
between them wrought havoc ; fields were 
trampled and fugitives were plundering 
already — would plunder more recklessly 

All day, all night, displaced humanity came 
stumbling in panic from the south and south- 
west ; spreading news of the torment it had 
fled from, the dead it had left and the worse 
than dead who still crouched in an inferno 
whence they could not summon courage to 
fly. The railways could not deal with a tithe 
of the number who clamoured to be carried to 
the north, into safety ; by the first evening 


the town was well-nigh eaten out, and house- 
holders, hardening their hearts against misery, 
were bolting themselves in, for fear of misery 
grown desperate. While out in the country 
farmers stabled their live-stock and kept 
ceaseless watch against the hungry. 

All day the approaches to the station were 
besieged by those who hoped for a train ; and, 
on the second night of the invasion, Theodore, 
sent by his chief with a message to the military 
transport officer, fought his way through a 
solid crowd on the platform — a crowd ex- 
cluded from a train that was packed and 
struggling with humanity. A crowd that was 
squalid, unreasoning and blindly selfish ; in- 
tent only on flight and safety — and some of it 
brutally intent. There were scuffles with 
porters and soldiers who refused to open locked 
doors, angry hootings and wild swayings 
backward and forward as the train moved out 
of the station ; Theodore's efforts to make his 
way to the station-master's office were held 
to be indicative of a desire to travel by the 
next train and he was buffeted aside without 
mercy. There was something in the brute 
mass of terror that sickened him — a sugges- 
tion already of the bestial, the instinctive, the 


The transport officer looked up at him with 
tired, angry eyes and demanded what the hell 
he wanted ? . . . Whereat Theodore handed 
him a typewritten note from a punctilious 
chief and explained that they had tried to 
get through on the telephone, either to him or 
the station-master, but 

" I should rather think not," said the trans- 
port officer rudely. " We've both of us got 
more important things to worry about than 
little Distribution people. The telephone 
clerk did bring me some idiotic message or 
other, but I told him I didn't want to hear it." 

He glanced at the typewritten note — then 
glared at it — and went off into a cackle of 
laughter ; which finally tailed into blasphemy 
coupled with obscene abuse. 

" Seen this ? " he asked when he had sworn 
himself out. " Well, at any rate you know 

what it's about. The has sent for 

particulars of to-morrow's refugee train ser- 
vice — wants to know the number and capacity 
of trains to be dispatched to Newcastle-on- 
Tyne. Wants to enter it in duplicate, I 
suppose — and make lots and lots and lots of 
carbon copies. God in Heaven ! " — and 
again he sputtered into blasphemy. . . . 
' Well, I needn't bother to write down the 


answer ; even if you've no more sense than he 
has, you'll be able to remember it all right. 
It's nil to both questions ; nil trains to New- 
castle, nil capacity. So that's that ! . . . 
What's more — if it's any satisfaction to your 
darned-fool boss to know it — we haven't been 
sending any trains to Newcastle all day." 

" But I thought," began Theodore — wonder- 
ing if the man were drunk ? He was, more 
than slightly — having fought for two days 
with panic-stricken devils and helped himself 
through with much whisky ; but, drunk or 
not, he was sure of his facts and rapped them 
out with authority. 

" Not to Newcastle. The first two or three 
got as far as Darlington — this morning. There 
they were pulled up. Then it was Northaller- 
ton — now we send 'em off to Thirsk and leave 
the people there to deal with 'em. You bet 
they'll send 'em further if they can — you don't 
suppose they want to be eaten out, any more 
than we do. But, for all I know, they're 
gettirg 'em in from the other side." 

" The other side ? " Theodore repeated. 
" What do you mean ? " Whereat the trans- 
port officer, grown suddenly uncommunica- 
tive, leaned back in his chair and whistled. 

" That's all I can tell you," he vouchsafed 


at length. " Trains haven't run beyond 
Darlington since yesterday. I conclude H.Q. 
knows the reason, but they haven't imparted 
it to me — I've only had my orders. It isn't 
our business if the trains get stopped so long 
as we send 'em off — and we're sending 'em and 
asking no questions." 

" Do you mean," Theodore stammered, 
" that — this — is going on up north ? " 

" What do you think ? " said the transport 
officer. "It's the usual trick, isn't it ? . . . 
Start 'em running from two sides at once — 
— don't let 'em settle, send 'em backwards and 
forwards, keep 'em going ! . . . We've played 
it often enough on them — now we're getting a 
bit of our own back. . . . However, I've no 
official information. You know just as much 
as I do." 

" But," Theodore persisted, " the people 
coming through from the north. What do 
they say — they must know ? " 

" There aren't any people coming through," 
said the other grimly. "Military order since 
this morning — no passenger traffic from the 
north runs this side of Thirsk. We've got 
enough of our own, haven't we ? . . . All I 
say is — God help Thirsk and especially God 
help the station-master ! " 


He straightened himself suddenly and 
grabbed at the papers on his table. 

" Now, you've got what the damn fool sent 
you for — and I'm trying to make out my 

As Theodore fought his way out of the sta- 
tion and the crowd that seethed round it, he 
had an intolerable sense of being imprisoned 
between two fires. If he could see far enough 
to the north — to Durham and the Tyneside — 
there would be another hot, throbbing hori- 
zon and another stream of human destitution 
pouring lamentably into the night. . . . And, 
between the two fires, the two streams were 
meeting — turning back upon themselves, inter- 
mingling ... in blind and agonized obedi- 
ence to the order to " keep 'em going!" . . . 
What happened when a train was halted by 
signal and the thronged misery inside it 
learned that here, without forethought or 
provision made, its flight must come to an 
end ? At Thirsk, Northallerton, by the way- 
side, anywhere, in darkness ? . . . A thin 
sweep of rain was driving down the street, and 
he fancied wretched voices calling through 
darkness, through rain. Asking what, in 
God's name, was to become of them and 


where, in God's name, they were to go ? . . . 
And the overworked officials who could give 
no answer, seeking only to be rid of the 
massed and dreadful helplessness that cum- 
bered the ground on which it trod ! . . . Dis- 
placement of population — the daily, stilted 
phrase — had become to him a raw and livid 
fact and he stood amazed at the limits of his 
own imagination. Day after day he had read 
the phrase, been familiar with it ; yet, so far, 
the horror had been words to him. Now the 
daily, stilted phrase was translated, compre- 
hensible : " Don't let 'em settle — keep 'em 

Back at the office, he discovered that his 
errand to the station had been superfluous ; 
his chief, the man of precedent, order and many 
carbon copies, was staring, haggard and be- 
wildered, at a typewritten document signed 
by the military commandant. . . . And ob- 
taining, incidentally, his first glimpse into a 
world till now unthinkable — where precedent 
was not, where reference was useless and order 
had ceased to exist. 


That night ended Theodore's life as a clerk 
in the Civil Service. The confusion conse- 
quent on the breakdown of transport had left 
of the Distribution system but a paralysed 
mockery, a name without functions attached 
to it ; and with morning Theodore and his 
able-bodied fellows were impressed into a 
special constabulary, hastily organized as a 
weapon against vagrancy grown desperate 
and riotous. They were armleted, put through 
a hurried course of instruction, furnished with 
revolvers or rifles and told to shoot plunderers 
at sight. 

No system of improvised rationing could 
satisfy even the elementary needs of the 
hundreds of thousands who swept hither and 
thither, as panic seized or the invader drove 
them ; hence military authority, in self- 
preservation, turned perforce on the growing 
menace of fugitive and destitute humanity. 
Order, so long as the semblance of it lasted, 
strove to protect and maintain the supplies 

8 4 


of the fighting forces ; which entailed, inevit- 
ably, the leaving to the fate of their own 
devices of the famished useless, the horde of 
devouring mouths. Interruption of transport 
meant entire dependence on local food stuffs ; 
and, as stocks grew lower and plundering 
increased, provisions were seized by the 
military. . . . Theodore, in the first hours of 
his new duty, helped to load an armed lorry 
with the contents of a grocer's shop and fight 
it through the streets of York. There was 
an ugly rush as the driver started his engine ; 
men who had been foodless for days had 
watched, in sullen craving, while the shop was 
emptied of its treasure of sacks and tins ; and 
when the engine buzzed a child wailed miser- 
ably, a woman shrieked " Don't let them, 
don't let them ! " and the whole pack snarled 
and surged forward. Wolfish white faces 
showed at the tailboard and before the car 
drew clear her escort had used their revolvers. 
Theodore, not yet hardened to shooting, 
seized the nearest missile, a tin of meat, and 
hurled it into one of the faces ; when they 
drew away three or four of the pack were 
tearing at each other for the treasure contained 
in the tin. 


He noticed, as the days went by, how 
quickly he slipped from the outlook and habits 
of civilized man and adopted those of the 
primitive, even of the animal. It was not 
only that he was suspicious of every man, 
careful in approach, on the alert and ready for 
violence ; he learned, like the animal, to be 
indifferent to the suffering that did not con- 
cern him. Violence, when it did not affect 
him directly, was a noise in the distance — no 
more ; and as swiftly as he became inured to 
bloodshed he grew hardened to the sight of 
misery. At first he had sickened when he ate 
his rations at the thought of a million-fold 
suffering that starved while he filled his 
stomach ; later, as order's representative, he 
herded and hustled a massed starvation with- 
out scruple, driving it away when it grouped 
itself threateningly, shooting when it promised 
to give trouble to authority, and looking upon 
death, itself, indifferently. 

It amazed him, looking back, to realize the 
swiftness with which ordered society had 
crumbled ; laws, systems, habits of body and 
mind — they had gone, leaving nothing but 
animal fear and the animal need to be fed. 
Within little more than a week of the night 
when young Hewlett had called him to watch 


the red flashes and the glare in the sky, there 
remained of the fabric of order built up 
through the centuries very little but a military 
force that was fighting on two sides — against 
inward disorder and alien attack — and strug- 
gling to maintain itself alive. Automatically, 
inevitably — under pressure of starvation, blind 
vagrancy and terror — that which had once 
been a people, an administrative whole, was 
relapsing into a tribal separatism, the last 
barrier against nomadic anarchy. ... As 
famished destitution overran the country, 
localities not yet destitute tried systematically 
and desperately to shut out the vagrant and 
defended what was left to them by force. 
Countrymen beat off the human plague that 
devoured their substance and trampled their 
crops underfoot ; barriers were erected that 
no stranger might pass and bloody little 
skirmishes were frequent at the outskirts of 
villages. As bread grew scarcer and more 
precious, the penalties on those who stole it 
were increasingly savage ; tribal justice — 
lynch law — took the place of petty sessions 
and assize, and plunderers, even suspected 
plunderers, were strung up to trees and their 
bodies left dangling as a warning. . . . And 
a day or two later, it might be, the poison-fire 


swept through the fields and devoured the 
homes of those who had executed tribal 
justice ; or a horde of destitution, too strong 
to be denied, drove them out ; and, homeless 
in their turn, they swelled the tide of plunder- 
ers and vagrants. . . . Man, with bewildering 
rapidity, was slipping through the stages 
whereby, through the striving of long genera- 
tions, he had raised himself from primitive 
barbarism and the law that he shares with the 

Very steadily the process of displacement 
continued. On most nights, in one direction 
or another, there were sudden outbursts of 
light — the glare of explosion or burning build- 
ings or the greenish-blue reflection of the 
poison-fire. The silent engine gave no warn- 
ing of its coming, and the first announcement 
of danger was the bursting of gas-shell and 
high explosive, or the sudden vivid pallor of the 
poison-fire as it ran before the wind and swept 
along dry fields and hedgerows. Where it 
swept it left not only long tracts of burned 
crop and black skeleton trees, but, often 
enough, the charred bodies of the homeless 
whom its rush had outpaced and overtaken. 
. . . Sudden and unreasoning panic was fre- 
quent — wild rushes from imaginary threats — 


and there were many towns which, when their 
turn came, were shells and empty buildings 
only ; dead towns, whence the inhabitants 
had already fled in a body. York had been 
standing all but silent for days when an enemy 
swooped down to destroy it and Theodore, 
guarding military stores in a camp on the 
Ripon road, looked his last on the towers of 
the Minster, magnificent against a sea of 
flame. Death, in humanity, had ceased to 
move him greatly ; but he turned away his 
head from the death of high human achieve- 

For the first few days of disaster there was a 
certain amount of news, or what passed for 
news, from the outside world ; in districts yet 
untouched and not wholly panic-stricken, local 
journals struggled out and communiques — 
true or false — were published by the military 
authorities. But with the rapid growth of the 
life nomadic, the herding and driving to and 
fro, with the consequent absence of centres 
for the dissemination of news or information, 
the outside world withdrew to a distance and 
veiled itself in silence unbroken. With the 
disappearance of the newspaper there was left 
only rumour, and rumour was always cur- 
rent — sometimes hopeful, sometimes dreadful, 


always wild ; to-day, Peace was coming, a 
treaty all but signed — and to-morrow London 
was in ruins. ... No one knew for certain 
what was happening out of eyeshot, or could 
more than guess how far devastation extended. 
This alone was a certainty ; that in every 
direction that a man might turn, he met those 
who were flying from destruction, threatened 
or actual ; and that night after night and day 
after day, humanity crouched before the 
science itself had perfected. . . . Sometimes 
there were visible encounters in the air, con- 
tending squadrons that chased, manoeuvred 
and gave battle ; but the invaders, driven off, 
returned again and the process of displace- 
ment continued. And, with every hour of its 
continuance, the death-roll grew longer, un- 
counted ; and men, who had struggled to re- 
tain a hold on their humanity and the life 
civilized, gave up the struggle, became preda- 
tory beasts and fought with each other for the 
means to keep life in their bodies. 

In after years Theodore tried vainly to 
remember how long he was quartered in the 
camp on the Ripon road — whether it was 
weeks or a matter of days only. Then or 
later he lost all sense of time, retaining only a 


memory of happenings, of events that followed 
each other and connecting them roughly with 
the seasons — frosty mornings, wet and wind or 
summer heat. There were the nights when 
York flamed and the days when thick smoke 
hung over it ; and the morning when aero- 
planes fought overhead and two crashed 
within a mile of the camp. There was the 
night of pitched battle with a rabble of the 
starving, grown desperate, which rushed the 
guard suddenly out of the darkness and beat 
and hacked at the doors of the sheds which 
contained the hoarded treasure of food. 
Theodore, with every other man in the camp, 
was turned out hastily to do battle with the 
horde of invaders — to shoot into the mass of 
them and drive them back to their starvation. 
In the end the rush was stemmed and the 
camp cleared of the mob ; but there was a 
hideous five minutes of shots and knife-thrusts 
and hand-to-hand struggling before the final 
stampede. Even after the stampede the 
menace was not at an end ; when the sun 
rose it showed to the watchers in the camp a 
sullen rabble that lingered not a field's 
breadth distant — a couple of hundred wolfish 
men and women who could not tear them- 
selves away from the neighbourhood of food, 


who glared covetously and took hopeless coun- 
sel together till the order to charge them was 
given and they broke and fled, spitting back 

After that, the night guard was doubled and 
the commanding officer applied in haste for 
reinforcements ; barbed wire entanglements 
were stretched round the camp and orders were 
given to disperse any crowd that assembled 
and lingered in the neighbourhood. Behind 
their entanglements and line of sentries the 
little garrison lived as on an island in the 
flood of anarchy and ruin — a remnant of order, 
defending itself against chaos. And, for all 
the discipline with which they faced anarchy 
and the ruthlessness with which they beat 
back chaos, they knew (so often as they dared 
to think) that the time might be at hand — 
must be at hand, if no deliverance came — 
when they, every man of them, would be 
swept from their island to the common fate 
and become as the creatures, scarce human, 
who crawled to them for food and were re- 
fused. When darkness fell and flames showed 
red on the horizon, they would wonder how 
long before their own turn came — and be 
thankful for the lightening in the east ; and as 
each convoy of lorries drove up to remove 


supplies from their fast dwindling stores, they 
would scan the faces of men who were ignorant 
and helpless as themselves to see if they were 
bearers of good news. . . . And the news was 
always their own news repeated ; of ruin and 
burning, of famine and the threat of the 
famished. No message — save stereotyped 
military orders — from that outside world 
whence alone they could hope for salvation. 

There remained with Theodore to the end 
of his days the dreadful memory of the women. 
At the beginning — just at the beginning — of 
disaster, authority had connived at a certain 
amount of charitable diversion of military 
stores for the benefit of women and children ; 
but as supplies dwindled and destroying 
hordes of vagrants multiplied, the tacit per- 
mission was withdrawn. The soldier, the 
instrument of order, unfed was an instrument 
of order no longer ; discipline was discipline 
for so long only as it obtained the necessities 
of life, and troops whose rations failed them in 
the end ceased to be troops and swelled the 
flood of vagrant and destitute anarchy. The 
useless mouth was the weapon of the enemy ; 
and authority hardened its heart perforce 
against the crying of the useless mouth. 

Once a score or so of women, with a tall, 


frantic girl as their leader, stood for hours at 
the edge of the wire entanglement and called 
on the soldiers to shoot — if they would not 
feed them, to shoot. Then, receiving only 
silence as answer, the tall girl cried out that, 
by God, the soldiers should be forced to shoot ! 
and led her companions — some cumbered with 
children — to tear and hurl themselves across 
the stretch of barbed and twisted wire. As 
they scrambled over, bleeding, crying and 
their clothes in rags, they were seized by the 
wrists and hustled to the gate of the camp — 
some limp and effortless, others kicking and 
writhing to get free. When the gate was 
closed and barred on them they beat on it — 
then lay about wretchedly . . . and at last 
shambled wretchedly away. . . . 

More dreadful even than the women who 
dragged with them children they could not 
feed, were those who sought to bribe the 
possessors of food with the remnant of their 
feminine attractions ; who eyed themselves 
anxiously in streams, pulled their sodden 
clothes into a semblance of jauntiness and 
made piteous attempts at flirtation. Money 
being worthless, since it could buy neither 
safety nor food, the price for those who traded 
their bodies was paid in a hunk of bread or 


meat. . . . Those women suffered most who 
had no man of their own to forage and fend 
for them, and were no longer young enough 
for other men to look on with pleasure. They 
— as humanity fell to sheer wolfishness and 
the right of the strongest — were beaten back 
and thrust aside when it came to the sharing- 
out of spoil. 

He remembered very clearly a day when 
news that was authentic reached them from 
the outside world ; an aeroplane came down 
with engine-trouble in a field on the edge of 
the camp, and the haggard-faced pilot, beset 
with breathless questions, laughed roughly 
when they asked him of London — how lately 
he had been there, what was happening ? 
" Oh yes, I was over it a day or two ago. 
You're no worse off than they are down south 
— London's been on the run for days." He 
turned back to his engine and whistled tune- 
lessly through the silence that had fallen on 
his hearers. . . . Theodore said it over slowly 
to himself, " London's been on the run for 
days." If so — if so — then what, in God's 
name, of Phillida ? 

Hitherto he had fought back his dread for 
Phillida, denying to himself, as he denied to 


others, the rumour that disaster was wide- 
spread and general, and insisting that she, at 
least, was safe. If there was one thing in- 
tolerable, one thing that could not be, it was 
Phillida vagrant, Phillida starving — his dainty 
lady bedraggled and grovelling for her bread. 
. . . like the haggard women who had beaten 
with their hands on the gate. . . . 

" It must stop," he choked suddenly, " it 
must stop — it can't go on ! " 

The pilot broke off from his whistling to 
stare at the distorted face. 

" No," he said grimly, " it can't go on. 
What's more, it's stopping, by degrees — 
stopping itself ; you mayn't have noticed it 
yet, but we do. Taking 'em all round they're 
leaving off, not coming as thick as they did. 
And " — his mouth twisted ironically — " we're 
leaving off and for the same reason." 

" The same reason ? " someone echoed him. 

" Because we can't go on. . . . You don't 
expect us to carry on long in this, do you ? " 
He shrugged and jerked his head towards a 
smoke cloud on the western skyline. " That's 
what ran us — gone up in smoke. Food and 
factories and transport and Lord knows what 
beside. The things that ran us and kept us 
going . . . We're living on our own fat now — 


what there is of it — and so are the people on 
the other side. We can just keep going as 
long as it lasts ; but it's getting precious short 
now, and when we've finished it — when there's 
no fat left ! . . ." He laughed unpleasantly 
and stared at the rolling smoke cloud. 

Someone else asked him about the rumour 
ever-current of negotiation — whether there 
was truth in it, whether he had heard any- 
thing ? 

" Much what you've heard," he said, and 
shrugged his shoulders. " There's talk — there 
always is — plenty of it ; but I don't suppose 
I know any more than you do. ... It stands 
to reason that someone must be trying to put 
an end to it — but who's trying to patch it up 
with who ? . . . And what is there left to 
patch ? Lord knows ! They say the real 
trouble is that when governments have gone 
there's no one to negotiate with. No respon- 
sible authority — sometimes no authority at 
all. Nothing to get hold of. You can't make 
terms with rabble ; you can't even find out 
what it wants — and it's rabble now, here, 
there, and everywhere. When there's nothing 
else left, how do you get hold of it, treat with 
it ? Who makes terms, who signs, who orders ? 
. . . Meanwhile, we go on till we're told to 



stop — those of us that are left. . . . And I 
suppose they're doing much the same — 
keeping on because they don't know how to 

Theodore asked what he meant when he 
spoke of "no government." ' You can't 
mean it literally ? You can't mean . . . ? " 

'* Why not? " said the pilot. " Is there 
any here ? " — and jerked his head, this time 
towards the road. Its long white ribbon was 
spotted with groups and single figures of 
vagrants — scarecrow vagrants — crawling on- 
ward they knew not whither. 

" See that," he said, " see that — does any- 
one govern it ? Make rules for it, defend it, 
keep it alive ? . . . And that's everywhere." 

Someone whispered back " Everywhere " 
under his breath ; the rest stared in silence 
at the spotted white ribbon of road. 

" You can't mean . . . ? " said Theodore 

The airman shrugged his shoulders and 
laughed roughly. 

'■ I believe," he said, " there are still some 
wretched people who call themselves a govern- 
ment, try to be a government — at least, there 
were the other day. . . . Sometimes I wonder 
how they try, what they say to each other — 


poor devils ! How they look when the heads 
of what used to be departments bring them in 
the day's report ? Can't you imagine their 
silly, ghastly faces ? . . . Even if they're still 
in existence, what in God's name can they do 
— except let us go on killing each other in the 
hope that something may turn up. If they 
give orders, sign papers, make laws, does any- 
one listen, pay any attention ? Does it make 
any difference to that ? " Again he jerked his 
head towards the road, and in the word as in 
the gesture was loathing, fear and contempt. 
" And in other parts of what used to be the 
civilized world — where this sort of hell has 
been going on longer — what do you suppose 
is happening ? " 

No one answered ; he laughed again rough- 
ly, as if he were contemptuous of their hopes, 
and a man beside Theodore — a corporal — 
swung round on him, white-faced and snarling. 

"Damn you! . . . I've got a girl . . . I've 
got a girl! . . ." 

He choked, moved away and stood rigid, 
staring at the road. 

Theodore heard himself asking, " If there 
isn't any government — what is there ? " 

" What's left of the army," said the other, 
" that's all that hangs together. Bits of it, 


here and there — gettirg smaller, losirg touch 
with the other bits ; hanging on to its rations 
— what's left of 'em. . . . And we hold 
together just as long as we can fight back the 
rabble ; not an hour, not a minute longer ! 
When we've gnawed our way through the 
last of our rations — what then ? . . . You 
may do what you like, but I'm keeping a shot 
for myself. Whether we're through with it or 
whether we're not. Just stopping fighting 
won't clear up this mess. . . . And I'll die — 
what I am. Not rabble ! " 

Whether after days or whether after weeks, 
there came a time when they ceased to have 
dealings with the world beyond their wire 
defences ; when the store-sheds in the camp 
were all but emptied of their hoard of food- 
stuffs and such military authority as might 
still exist took no further interest in the doings 
of a useless garrison. Orders and communica- 
tions, once frequent, grew fewer, and finally, 
as military authority crumbled, they were left 
to isolation, to their own defence and devices. 
Since no man any longer had need of them, 
they were cut off from intercourse with those 
other remnants of the life disciplined whence 
lorries had once arrived in search of rations; 


separated from such other bands of their fel- 
lows as still held together, they were no longer 
part of an army, were nothing but a band of 
armed men. Though their own daily rations 
were cut down to the barest necessities of life, 
there was little grumbling, since even the 
dullest knew the reason ; as the airman had 
told them, they were living on their own fat, 
for so long as their own fat lasted. For all 
their isolation, their fears and daily perils 
kept them disciplined ; they held together, 
obeyed orders and kept watch, not because 
they still felt themselves part of a nation or a 
military force, but because there remained in 
their common keeping the means to support 
bare life. It was not loyalty or patriotism, but 
the sense of their common danger, their com- 
mon need of defence against the famished 
world outside their camp, that kept them 
comrades, obedient to a measure of discipline, 
and made them still a community. 

There had been altercation of the fiercest 
before they were left to themselves — when 
lorries drove up for food which was refused 
them, on the ground that the camp had not 
sufficient for its own needs. Disputes at the 
refusal were furious and violent ; men, driven 
out forcibly, went off shouting threats that 


they would come back and take what was 
denied them — would bring their machine-guns 
and take it. Those who yet had the where- 
withal to keep life in their bodies knew the 
necessity that prompted the threat and lived 
thenceforth in a state of siege against men who 
had once been their comrades. With the 
giving out of military supplies and the conse- 
quent breaking of the bonds of discipline, 
bands of soldiers, scouring the countryside, 
were an added terror to their fellow-vagrants 
and, so long as their ammunition lasted, fared 
better than starvation unarmed. ... If cen- 
tral authority existed it gave no sign ; while 
military force that had once been united — an 
army — dissolved into its primitive elements : 
tribes of armed men, held together by their 
fear of a common enemy. In the wreck of 
civilization, of its systems, institutions and 
polity, there endured longest that form of 
order which had first evolved from the chaos 
of barbarism — the disciplined strength of the 
soldier. . * . . A people retracing its progress 
from chaos retraced it step by step. 


The end of civilization came to Theodore 
Savage and his fellows as it had come to 
uncounted thousands. 

There had been a still warm day with a haze 
on it — he judged it early autumn or perhaps 
late summer ; for the rest, like any other day 
in the camp routine — of watchfulness, of 
scanning the sky and the distance, of the pass- 
ing of vagabond starvation, of an evil smell 
drifting with the lazy air from the dead who 
lay unburied where they fell. Before night- 
fall the haze was lifted by a cold little wind 
from the east ; and soon after darkness a 
moon at the full cast white, merciless light and 
black shadow. 

Theodore was asleep when the alarm was 
given — by a shout at the door of his hut. 
One of ten or a dozen, aroused like himself, he 
grabbed at his rifle as he stumbled to his feet ; 
believing in the first hurried moment of waking 
that he was called to drive back yet another 



night onslaught of the starving enemy with- 
out. He ran out of the hut into a strong, 
pallid glare that wavered. ... A stretch of 
gorse and bramble-patch two hundred yards 
away was alight, burning lividly, and further 
off the same bluish flame was running like a 
wave across a field. Enemy aeroplanes were 
dropping their fire-bombs — here and there, 
flash on flash, of pale, inextinguishable flame. 
It was scarcely five minutes from the time 
he had been roused before the camp and its 
garrison had ceased to exist as a community, 
and Theodore Savage and his living comrades 
were vagabonds on the face of the earth. The 
gorse and bramble-patch lay to the eastward 
and the wind was blowing from the east ; the 
flames rushed triumphantly at a black clump 
of fir-trees — great torches that lit up the 
neighbourhood. The guiding hand in the 
terror overhead had a mark laid ready for his 
aim ; the camp, with its camouflaged huts and 
sheds, seen plainly as in broadest daylight. 
His next bomb burst in the middle of the camp 
blowing half-a-score of soldiers into bloody 
fragments and firing the nearest wooden 
building. While it burned, the terror overhead 
struck again and again — then stooped to its 
helpless quarry and turned a machine-gun 


on men in trenches and men running hither 
and thither in search of a darkness that might 
cover them. . . . That, for Theodore Savage, 
was the ending of civilization. 

With the crash of the first explosion he 
cowered instinctively and pressed himself 
against the wall of the nearest shed ; the 
flames, rushing upward, showed him others 
cowering like himself, all striving to obliterate 
themselves, to shrink, to deny their humanity. 
Even in his extremity of bodily fear he was 
conscious of merciless humiliation ; the ma- 
chine-gun crackled at scurrying little crea- 
tures that once were men and that now were 
but impotent flesh at the mercy of mechanical 
perfection. . . . Mechanical perfection, the 
work of men's hands, soared over its creators, 
spat down at their helplessness and defaced 
them ; they cringed in corners till it found 
them out and ran from it screaming, without 
power to strike back at the invisible beast that 
pursued them. Without power even to sur- 
render and yield to its mercy ; they could only 
hate impotently — and run. . . . 

As they ran they broke instinctively — 
avoiding each other, since a group made a 
mark for a gunner. Theodore, when he dared 
cower no longer, rushed with a dozen through 


the gate of the camp but, once outside it, they 
scattered right and left and there was no one 
near him when his flight ended with a stumble. 
He stayed where he had fallen, a good mile 
from the camp, in the blessed shadow of a 
hedgerow ; he crept close to it and lay in the 
blackness of the shadow, breathing great sobs 
and trembling — crouching in dank grass and 
peering through the leafage at the distant 
furnace he had fled from. The crackling of 
machine-guns had ceased, but here and there, 
for miles around were stretches of flame 
running rapidly before a dry wind. Half a 
mile away an orchard was blazing with hay- 
ricks ; and he drew a long sigh of relief when 
another flare leaped up — further off. That 
was miles away, that last one ; they were 
going, thank God they were going ! ... He 
waited to make sure — half-an-hour or more — 
then stumbled back in search of his com- 
panions ; through fields on to the road that 
led past what once had been the camp. 

On his way he met others, dark figures 
creeping back like himself ; by degrees a 
score or so gathered in the roadway and stood 
in little groups, some muttering, some silent, 
as they watched the flames burn themselves 
out. There were bodies lying in the road and 


beside it — men shot from above as they ran ; 
and the living turned them over to look at 
their distorted faces. ... No one was in 
authority ; their commanding officer had 
been killed outright by the bursting of the 
first bomb, one of the subalterns lay huddled 
in the roadway, just breathing. So much 
they knew. ... In the beginning there was 
relief that they had come through alive; but, 
with the passing of the first instinct of relief, 
came understanding of the meaning of being 
alive. . . . The breath in their bodies, the 
knowledge that they still walked the earth : 
and for the rest, vagrancy and beast-right 
— the right of the strongest to live ! 

They took counsel together as the night crept 
over them and — because there was nothing 
else to do — planned to search the charred 
ruin as the fire died out, in the hope of salvage 
from the camp. They counted such few, odd 
possessions as remained to them : cartridge 
belts, rifles thrown away in flight and then 
picked up in the road, the contents of their 
pockets — no more. ... In the end, for the 
most part, they slept the dead sleep of ex- 
haustion till morning — to wake with cold rain 
on their faces. 

The rain, for all its wretchedness to men 


without shelter, was so far their friend that 
it beat down the flames on the smouldering 
timbers which were all that remained of their 
fortress and rock of defence. They burrowed 
feverishly among the black wreckage of their 
store-sheds, blistering and burning their fingers 
by too eager handling of logs that still flick- 
ered, unearthing, now and then, some scrap of 
charred meat but, for the most part, nothing 
but lumps of molten metal that had once been 
the tins containing food. In their pressing 
anxiety to avert the peril of hunger they were 
heedless of a peril yet greater ; their search 
had attracted the attention of others — scare- 
crow vagrants, the rabble of the roads, who 
saw them from a distance and came hurrying 
in the hope of treasure-trove. The first single 
spies retreated at the order of superior and 
disciplined numbers ; but with time their own 
numbers were swollen by those who halted 
at the rumour of food, and there hovered 
round the searchers a shifting, snarling, envious 
crowd that drew gradually nearer till faced 
with the threat of pointed rifles. Even that 
only stayed it for a little — and, spurred on by 
hunger, imagining riches where none existed, 
it rushed suddenly forward in a mob that 
might not be held. 


Those who had rifles fired at it and men in 
the foremost ranks went down, unheeded in 
the rush of their fellows ; those who might 
have hesitated were thrust forward by the 
frantic need behind, and the torrent of misery 
broke against the little group of soldiers in a 
tumult of grappling and screeching. Women, 
like men, asserted their beast-right to food — 
when sticks and knives failed them, asserted 
it with claws and teeth ; unhuman creatures, 
with eyes distended and wide, yelling mouths, 
went down with their fingers at each other's 
throats, their nails in each other's flesh. . . . 
Theodore clubbed a length of burnt wood 
and struck out . . . saw a man drop with a 
broken, bloody face and a woman back from 
him shrieking . . . then was gripped from 
behind, with an arm round his neck, and went 
down. . . . The famished creatures fought 
above his body and beat out his senses with 
their feet. 

When life came back to him the sun was 
very low in the west. In his head little 
hammers beat intolerably and all his strained 
body ached with bruises as he raised himself, 
slowly and groaning, and leaned on an arm to 
look round. He lay much where he had 


fallen, but the soldiers, the crowd of human 
beasts, had vanished ; the bare stretch of 
camp, still smoking in places, was silent and 
almost deserted. Two or three bending and 
intent figures were hovering round the charred 
masses of wreckage — moving slowly, stopping 
often, peering as they walked and thrusting 
their hands into the ashes, in the hope of some 
fragment that those who searched before them 
had missed. A woman lay face downwards 
with her dead arm flung across his feet ; fur- 
ther off were other bodies — which the searchers 
passed without notice. Three or four were 
in uniform, the bodies of men who had once 
been his comrades ; others, for the benefit of 
the living, had been stripped, or half-stripped, 
of their clothing. 

He lifted himself painfully and crawled on 
hands and knees, with many groans and halts, 
to the stream that had formed one border of 
the camp — where he drank, bathed his head 
and washed the dried blood from his scratches. 
With a measure of physical relief — the blessing 
of cool water to a burning head and throat — 
came a clearer understanding and, with clearer 
understanding, fear. ... He knew himself 
alone in chaos. 

As soon as he might he limped back to 


the smouldering wood-heaps and accosted a 
woman who was grubbing in a mess of black 
refuse. Did she know what had become of the 
soldiers ? Which way they had gone when 
they left ? The woman eyed him sullenly, 
mistrustful and resenting his neighbourhood — 
knew nothing, had not seen any soldiers — and 
turned again to grub in her refuse. A skele- 
ton of a man was no wiser ; had only just 
turned off the road to search, did not know 
what had happened except that there must 
have been a fight — but it was all over when he 
came up. He also had seen no soldiers — 
only the dead ones over there. . . . Theodore 
saw in their eyes that they feared him, were 
dreading lest he should compete with them 
for their possible treasure of refuse. 

For the time being a sickly faintness de- 
prived him of all wish for food ; he left the 
sullen creatures to their clawing and grubbing, 
went back to the water, drank and soused once 
more, then crept farther off in search of a 
softer ground to lie on. After a few score 
yards of painful dragging and halting, he 
stretched himself exhausted on a strip of dank 
grass at the roadside — and dozed where he fell 
until the morning. 

With sunrise and awakening came the pangs 


of sharp hunger, and he dragged himself 
limping through mile after mile in search of 
the wherewithal to stay them. He was giddy 
with weakness and near to falling when he 
found his first meal in a stretch of newly- 
burned field — the body of a rabbit that the 
fire had blackened as it passed. He fell upon 
it, hacked it with his clasp-knife and ate half 
of it savagely, looking over his shoulder to see 
that no one watched him ; the other half he 
thrust into his pocket to serve him for another 
meal. He had learned already to live fur- 
tively and hide what he possessed from the 
neighbours who were also his enemies. Next 
day he fished furtively — with a hook impro- 
vised out of twisted wire and worm-bait dug 
up by his clasp-knife ; lurking in bushes on 
the river-bank, lest others, passing by, should 
note him and take toll by force of his catch. 

He lived thenceforth as men have always 
lived when terror drives them this way and 
that, and the earth, untended, has ceased to 
yield her bounties ; warring with his fellows 
and striving to outwit them for the remnant of 
bounty that was left. He hunted and scraped 
for his food like a homeless dog ; when found, 
he carried it apart in stealth and bolted it 


secretly, after the fashion of a dog with his 
offal. In time all his mental values changed 
and were distorted : he saw enemies in all 
men, existed only to exist — that he might fill 
his stomach — and death affected him only 
when he feared it for himself. He had grown 
to be self-centred, confined to his body and its 
daily wants and that side of his nature which 
concerned itself with the future and the needs 
of others was atrophied. He had lost the 
power of interest in all that was not personal, 
material and immediate ; and, as the un- 
counted days dragged out into weeks, even 
the thought of Phillida, once an ever-present 
agony, ceased to enter much into his daily 
struggle to survive. He starved and was 
afraid : that was all. His life was summed 
up in the two words, starvation and fear. 

At night, as a rule, he sheltered in a house 
or deserted farm-building that stood free for 
anyone to enter — sometimes alone, but as 
often as not in company. Starved rabble, as 
long as it hunted for food, avoided its rivals 
in the chase ; but when night, perforce, 
brought cessation of the hunt, the herding 
instinct reasserted itself and lasted through 
the hours of darkness. As autumn sharpened, 
guarded fires were lit in cellars where they 


could not be seen from above and fed with 
broken furniture, with fragments of doors and 
palings ; and one by one, human beasts would 
slink in and huddle down to the warmth — 
some uncertainly, seeking a new and untried 
refuge, and others returning to their shelter 
of the night before. The little gangs who 
shared fire and roof for the space of a night 
never ate in each other's company ; food was 
invariably devoured apart, and those who had 
possessed themselves of more than an immedi- 
ate supply would hide and even bury it in a 
secret place before they came in contact with 
their fellows. Hence no gang, no little herd, 
was permanent or contained within itself 
the beginnings of a social system ; its mem- 
bers shared nothing but the hours of a night 
and performed no common social duties. A 
face became familiar because seen for a night 
or two in the glow of a common fire ; when it 
vanished none knew — and none troubled to 
ask — whether a man had died between sunrise 
and sunset or whether he had drifted further 
off in his daily search for the means to keep 
life in his body. When a man died in the 
night, with others round him, the manner of 
his ending was known ; otherwise he passed 
out of life without notice from those who yet 


crawled on the earth. . . . With morning the 
herd of starvelings that had sheltered together 
broke up and foraged, each man for himself 
and his own cravings ; rooted in fields and 
trampled gardens, crouched on river-banks 
fishing, laid traps for vermin, ransacked 
shops and houses where scores had preceded 
them. . . . And some, it was muttered — as 
time went on and the need grew yet starker — 
fed horribly . . . and therefore plentifully. . . . 

There were nights — many nights — when a 
herd broke in panic from its shelter and 
scattered to the winds of heaven at an alarm 
of the terror overhead ; and always, as starva- 
tion pressed, it dwindled — by death and the 
tendency to dissolve into single nomads, 
who (such as survived) regrouped themselves 
elsewhere, to scatter and re-group again. . . . 
With repeated wandering — now this way, now 
that, as hope and hunger prompted — went 
all sense of direction and environment ; the 
nomads, hunting always, drifted into broken 
streets or dead villages and through them to 
the waste of open country — not knowing 
where they were, in the end not caring, and 
turned back by a river or the sea. 

The sight or suspicion of food and plunder 
would always draw vagrancy together in 


crowds ; district after district untouched by 
an enemy had been swept out of civilized 
existence by the hordes which fell on the 
remnants of prosperity and tore them ; which 
ransacked shops and dwellings, slaughtered 
sheep, horses, cattle and devoured them and, 
often enough, in a fury of destruction and 
vehement envy, set light to houses and barns 
lest others might fare better than themselves. 
But when flocks, herds and storehouses had 
vanished, when agriculture, like the industry 
of cities, had ceased to exist and nothing 
remained to devour and plunder, the motive 
for common action passed. With equality 
of wretchedness union was impossible, and 
every man's hand against his neighbour ; if 
groups formed, here and there, of the stronger 
and more brutal, who joined forces for common 
action, they held together only for so long as 
their neighbours had possessions that could 
be wrested from them — stores of food or 
desirable women ; once the neighbours were 
stripped of their all and there was nothing 
more to prey on, the group fell apart or its 
members turned on each other. In the life 
predatory man had ceased to be creative ; in a 
world where no one could count on a morrow, 
construction and forethought had no meaning. 


In a world where all were vagabond and 
brutal, where each met each with suspicion 
and all men were immersed in the intensity of 
their bodily needs, very few had thoughts to 
exchange. Mentally, as well as actually, they 
lived to themselves and where they did not 
distrust they were indifferent ; the starvelings 
who slunk into shelter that they might huddle 
for the night round a common fire found little 
to say to one another. As human desire 
concentrated itself on the satisfaction of 
animal cravings, so human speech degenerated 
into mere expression of those cravings and the 
emotions aroused by them. Only once or 
twice while he starved and drifted did Theo- 
dore talk with men who sought to give expres- 
sion to more than their present terrors and the 
immediate needs of their bodies, who used 
speech that was the vehicle of thought. 

One such he remembered — met haphazard, 
as all men met each other — when he sheltered 
for an autumn night on the outskirts of a town 



left derelict. With falling dusk came a sud- 
den sharp patter of rain and he took refuge 
hurriedly in the nearest house — a red-brick 
villa, standing silent with gaping windows. 
What was left of the door swung loosely on its 
hinges — half the lower panels had been hacked 
away to serve as firewood ; the hall was 
befouled with the feet of many searchers and 
of the furniture remained but a litter of rags 
and fragments that could not be burned. 

He thought the place empty till he scented 
smoke from the basement ; whereupon he 
crept down the stairs, soft-footed and alert, 
to discover that precaution was needless. 
There was only one occupant of the house, a 
man plainly dying ; a livid hollow-eyed skele- 
ton who coughed and trembled as he knelt by 
the grate and tried to blow damp sticks into a 
flame. Theodore, in his own interests, took 
charge of the fire, ransacked the house for 
inflammable material and tore up strips of 
broken boarding that the other was too feeble 
to wrestle with. When the blaze flared up, the 
sick man cowered to it, stretched out his hands 
— filthy skin-covered bones — and thanked him ; 
whereat Theodore turned suddenly and stared. 
It was long — how long ? — since any man had 
troubled to thank him ; and this man, for all 


his verminous misery, had a voice that was 
educated, cultured. . . . Something in the 
tone of it — the manner — took Theodore back 
to the world where men ate courteously 
together, were companions, considered each 
other ; and instinctively, almost without 
effort, he offered a share of his foraging. The 
offer was refused, whereat Theodore wondered 
still more ; but the man, near death, was past 
desire for food and shook his head almost with 
repulsion. Perhaps it was the fever that had 
turned him against food that loosened his 
tongue and set him talking — or perhaps he, 
also, by another's voice and manner, was re- 
minded of his past humanity. 

" ' My mind to me a kingdom is,' " he 
quoted suddenly. " Who wrote that — do you 
remember ? " 

" No," Theodore said, " I've forgotten." 
He stared at the cowering, hunched figure with 
its shaking hands stretched to the blaze. 
The man, it might be, was mad as well as 
dying — he had met many such in his wander- 
ings ; babbling of verse as someone — who was 
it ? — had babbled in dying of green fields. 

" ' My mind to me a kingdom is,' " the sick 
man repeated. " Well, even if we've forgotten 
who wrote it, there's one thing about him 


that's certain ; he didn't know what we know 
— hadn't lived in our kind of hell. The place 
where you haven't a mind — only fear and a 
stomach. . . . The flesh and the devil — 
hunger and fear ; they haven't left us a 
world! . . . But if there's ever a world again, 
I believe I shall have learned how to write. 
Now I know what we are — the fundamentals 
and the nakedness. ..." 

" Were you a writer ? " Theodore asked 
him — and at the question his old humanity 
stirred curiously within him. 

" Yes," said the other, " I was a writer. 
. . . When I think of what I wrote — the little, 
little things that seemed important ! . . . I 
spent a year once — a whole good year — on a 
book about a woman who was finding out she 
didn't love her husband. She was well fed 
and housed, lived comfortably — and I wrote of 
her as if she were a traged}'. The work I put 
into it — the work and the thought ! I tried to 
get what I called atmosphere. . . . And all 
the time there was this in us — this raw, red 
thing — and I never even touched it, never 
guessed what we were without our habits. . . . 
Do you know where we made the mistake ? " 
— he turned suddenly to Theodore, thrusting 
out a finger — " We were not civilized — it was 


only our habits that were civilized ; but we 
thought they were flesh of our flesh and bone 
of our bone. Underneath, the beast in us was 
always there — lying in wait till his time came. 
The beast that is ourselves, that is flesh of our 
flesh — clothed in habits, in rags that have been 
torn from us." 

He broke off to cough horribly and lay 
breathless and exhausted for a time ; then, 
when breath came back to him, talked on 
while Theodore listened — not so much to his 
words as to a voice from the world that had 

" The religions were right," he said. " They 
were right through and through ; the only 
sane thing and the only safe thing is humility 
— to realize your sin, to confess it and repent. 
. . . We — we were bestial and we did not 
know it ; and when you don't even suspect 
you sin how can you repent and save your soul 
alive ? . . . We dressed ourselves and taught 
ourselves the little politenesses and ceremonies 
which made it easy to forget that we were 
brutes in our hearts ; we never faced our own 
possibilities of evil and beastliness, never 
confessed and repented them, took no precau- 
tions against them. Our limitless possibili- 
ties. . . . We thought our habits — we called 


them virtues — were as real and natural and 
ingrained as our instincts ; and now what is 
left of our habits ? When we should have 
been crying, 'Lord have mercy on us,' we 
believed in ourselves, our enlightenment and 
progress. Enlightenment that ended as 
science applied to destruction and progress 
that has led us — to this. . . . And to-day it 
has gone, every shred of it, and we're back at 
what we started with — hunger and lust ! 
Brute instincts . . . and the primitive passion, 
hatred — against those who thwart hunger and 
lust. Nothing else — how can there be any- 
thing else ? When we lost all we loved, we lost 
the habit and power of loving. . . . ' My 
mind to me a kingdom is ' — of hatred and 
hunger and lust." 

" Yes," said Theodore — and he, too, stared 
at the fire. . . . What the other had said was 
truth and truth only. Even Phillida had left 
him ; the power of loving her was gone. " I 
hadn't thought of it like that — but it's right. 
. . . We can only hate." 

"It's that," said the dying man, " that's 
beyond all torment. . . . God pity us ! " 

He covered his eyes and sat silent until 
Theodore asked him, " Does that mean you 
still believe in God ? " 


" There's Law," said the other. " Is that 
God ? . . . We have got to see into our own 
souls and to pay for everything we take. 
That's all I know, so far — except that what we 
think we own — owns us. That's what the 
wise men meant by renunciation. . . . It's 
what we made and thought we owned that has 
turned on us — the creatures that were born 
for our pleasure and power, to increase our 
comfort and our riches. As we made them 
they fastened on us — set their claws in us — 
and they have taken our minds from us as well 
as our bodies. As we made them, they fol- 
lowed the law of their life. We created life 
without a soul ; but it was life and it went 
its own way." 

Crouched to the fire, and between his bouts 
of coughing, he played with the idea and in- 
sisted on it. Everything that we made, that 
we thought dead and dumb, had a life that we 
could not control. In the case of books and 
art we admitted the fact, had a name for the 
life, called it influence : influence a form of 
independent existence. ... In the same way 
we took metals and welded them, made 
machines ; which were beasts, potent beasts, 
whose destiny was the same as our own. To 
live and develop and, developing, to turn on 


the power that enslaved them. . . . That was 
what had happened ; they had made them- 
selves necessary, fastened on us and, grown 
strong enough, had turned on their masters 
and killed — even though they died in the 
killing. The revolt against servitude had 
always been accounted a virtue in men and 
the law of all life was the same. The beasts 
we had made could not live without us, but 
they would have their revenge before they 

" Think of us," he said, " how we run and 
squeal and hide from them ! . . . The patient 
servants, our goods and chattels, who were 
brought into life for our pleasure — they chase 
us while we run and squeal and hide ! " 

" Yes," Theodore answered, "I've felt that, 
too — the humiliation." 

" The humiliation," the sick man nodded. 
" Always in the end the slave rules his master 
— it's the price paid for servitude, possession. 
I tell you, they were wise men who preached 
renunciation — before what we own takes hold 
of us and possession turns to servitude. For 
there's a law of average in all things — have 
you ever felt it as I have ? A law of balance 
which we never strike aright. . . . When the 
mighty tread hard enough on the humble and 


meek, the humble and meek are exalted and 
begin to tread hard in their turn. That's 
obvious and we've generally known it ; but 
it's the same in what we call material things. 
We rise into the air — make machines that can 
fly — and grovel underground to protect our- 
selves from the flying-man. As we struck the 
balance to the one side, so it has to swing back 
on the other ; a few men rise high into the 
air and many creep down into trenches and 
cellars, crouch flat. ... If we could work out 
the numbers and heights mathematically, be 
sure that we should strike the perfect balance 
— represented by the surface of the earth. 
Balance — in all things balance." 

He rambled on, perhaps half-delirious, 
coughing out his thoughts and theories con- 
cerning a world he was leaving. ... In all 
things balance, inevitably ; the purpose of life 
which, so far, we sought blindly — by passion 
and recoil from it, by excess and consequent 
exhaustion. ... It was in the cities where 
men herded, where life swarmed, that death 
had come most thickly, that desolation was 
swiftest and most complete. The ground 
underneath them needed rest from men ; 
there was an average of life it could support 
and bear with. Now, the average exceeded, the 


cities lay ruined, were silent, knew the peace 
they had craved for — while those who once 
swarmed in them avoided them in fear or 
scattered themselves in the open country, 
finding no sustenance in brickwork, stone or 
paved street. . . . With the machine and its 
consequence, the industrial system, population 
had increased beyond the average allotted to 
the race ; now the balance was righting itself 
by a very massacre of famine — induced by the 
self-same process of invention which had 
fostered reproduction unhindered. Because 
millions too many had crawled upon earth, 
long stretches of earth must lie waste and 
desolate till the average had worked itself 
out. . . . The art of life was adjustment of the 
balance in all things — was action and reac- 
tion rightly applied, was provision of counter- 
weight, discovery of the destined mean. Was 
control of Truth, lest it turn into a lie ; was 
check upon the power and velocity of Good 
ere it swung to immeasurable Evil. . . . 

The fire, for want of more wood to pile on 
it, had died low, to a flicker in the ashes, and 
the two men sat almost in darkness ; the one, 
between the bouts that shook him, whispering 
out the tenets of his Law ; the other, now 
listening, now staring back into the world 


that once was — and ever should be. . . . He 
was with Markham, listening to the West- 
minster chimes — (on the crest of the centuries, 
Markham had said) — when there were sudden 
yelping screams outside and a patter of feet 
on the road. The human rats who had crept 
into the town for shelter from the night were 
bolting in panic from their holes. 

" They're running," said the dying man 
and felt towards the stairs. " It's gas — it 
must be gas ! Oh God, where's the door — 
where's the door ? " 

As they groped and stumbled through the 
door and up the stairway, he was clutching at 
Theodore's arm and gasping in an ecstas}' of 
terror ; as fearful of losing his few poor hours 
of life as if they had been years of health and 
usefulness. In the open air was darkness with 
figures flying dimly by ; a thin stream of 
panic that raced against death by suffocation. 

The man with death on him held to Theo- 
dore's arm and besought him, for Christ's sake, 
not to leave him — he could run if he were only 
helped ! Theodore let him cling for a drag- 
ging pace or two ; then, looking behind him, 
saw a woman reel, clawing the air. 

He wrenched himself free and ran on till he 
could run no further. 


It was somewhere towards the end of autumn 
that Theodore Savage realized that the war 
had come to an end — so far, at least, as his 
immediate England was concerned. What 
was happening elsewhere he and his immediate 
England had no means of knowing and were 
long past caring to know. There was no 
definite ending but a leaving-off , a slackening ; 
the attacks — the burnings and panics — by 
degrees were fewer and not only fewer but less 
devastating, because carried out with smaller 
forces ; there were days and nights without 
alarm, without smoke-cloud or glow on the 
horizon. Then yet longer intervals — and so 
on to complete cessation. . . . By the time 
the nights had grown long and frosty the war 
that was organized and alien had ended ; there 
remained only the daily, personal and barbaric 
form of war wherein every man's hand was 
raised against his neighbour and enemy. 
That warfare ceased not and could not cease 
— until the human herd had reduced itself to 



the point at which the bare earth could sup- 
port it. 

It seemed to him later a wonder — almost a 
miracle — that he had come alive through the 
months of war and after ; at times he stood 
amazed that any had lived in the waste of 
hunger and violence, of pestilence and rotting 
bodies which for months was the world as he 
knew it. He was near death not once nor a 
score of times, but daily ; death from exhaus- 
tion or the envy of men who were starved and 
reckless as himself. The mockery of peace 
brought no plenty or hope of it, no sign of 
reconstruction or dawn of new order ; recon- 
struction and order were rank impossibilities 
so long as human creatures preyed on each 
other in a land swept bare, and prowled after 
the manner of wolves. No revival of common 
life, no system was possible until earth once 
more brought forth her fruits. 

He judged, by the length of the nights, that 
it was somewhere about the middle of Novem- 
ber when the first snow came suddenly and 
thickly ; the harbinger and onslaught of a 
fiercely hard winter that killed in their thous- 
ands the gaunt human beasts who tore at each 
other for the refuse and vermin that was food. 
In the all-pervading dearth and starvation 


there was only one form of animal life that 
increased and flourished mightily ; the rat 
overran empty buildings, found dreadful 
sustenance in street and field and, in turn, was 
hunted, trapped and fed on. 

With the coming of winter the human rem- 
nant was perforce less vagrant and migratory, 
and Theodore, driven by weather to shelter, 
lived for weeks in what once had been a coun- 
try town, a cluster of dead houses with, here 
and there, a silent factory. Only the build- 
ings, the semblance of a township, remained ; 
the befouled and neglected body whence the 
life of a community had fled ; and he never 
knew what its living name had been or what 
was the manner of industry or commerce 
whereby it had supported its inhabitants. 
It lay in a flattish agricultural country and a 
railway had run through its outskirts; the 
rusted metals stretched north and south 
and the remnants of a station still existed — 
platforms, charred buildings and trucks and 
locomotives in sidings. Perhaps the charred 
buildings had been burned in a fury of drunken 
and insane destruction, perhaps shivering 
destitution had set light to them for the sake 
of a few hours' warmth. 

The shell of the town — its brickwork and 


stone — was still practically intact ; it was 
anarchy, pillage and starvation, not the 
violence of an enemy, that had reduced it to 
a city of the dead. The means of supporting 
life were absent, but certain forms of what 
had once been luxury remained and were 
counted as nothing. At a corner of the main 
street stood a jeweller's premises which, time 
and again, had been entered and ransacked; 
the dwelling-house behind it contained not so 
much as a fragment of dried crust but in the 
shop itself rings, brooches and pendants were 
still lying for any man to take — disordered, 
scattered and trampled underfoot, because 
worthless to those who craved for bread. 
The only item of jeweller's stock that still 
had value to starving men was a watch — if it 
furnished a burning-glass, a means of lighting 
a fire when other means were unavailable. 

Theodore lived through the winter — as all 
his fellows lived — destructively, on the legacy 
and remnant of other men's savings and 
makings ; scraping and grubbing in other 
men's ground, burning furniture and wood- 
work, the product of other men's labours, and 
taking no thought for the morrow. At the 
beginning of winter some four or five score of 
human shadows, men and women, crept about 


the dead streets and the fields beyond them 
in their daily quest for the means to keep life 
in their bodies ; but, as the weeks drew on 
and the winter hardened, starvation and the 
sickness born of starvation reduced their 
numbers by a half. Those lived best who 
were most skilful at the trapping of vermin ; 
and they had long been existing on little but 
rat-flesh, when some hunters of rats, on the 
track of their prey, discovered a treasure 
beyond price — a godsend — in the shape of 
sacks of grain in the cellar of an empty 

The discovery meant more than a supply 
of food and the staving-off of death by starva- 
tion ; with the possession of resources that, 
with care, might last for weeks there came 
into being a common interest, the fellowship 
that makes a social system. After the first 
wild struggle — the rush to fill their hands and 
cram their gnawing stomachs — the shadows 
and skeletons of men controlled their instincts 
and took counsel ; the fact that their stomachs 
were full and their craving satisfied gave back 
to them the power of construction, of fore- 
thought and restraint ; they ceased to be 
instinctively inimical and wholly animal and 
took common measures for the preservation 


and rationing of their heaven-sent windfall. 
They advised, consulted, heard opinion and 
gave it, were reasonable ; counted their 
numbers in relation to the size of their hoard ; 
and in the end decided, by common consent, 
on the amount of the daily portion which was 
to be allotted to each in return for his share 
in the duty of guarding it — against the crav- 
ings of their own hunger as well as against the 
inroads of rats and mice. . . . With food — 
with property — they were human again ; 
capable of plans for the morrow, of concerted 
and intelligent action. The enmity they had 
hitherto felt against each other was suddenly 
transferred to the stranger — the foreigner — 
who might force his way in and acquire a 
share in their treasure. Hence they took 
precautions against the arrival of the stranger, 
kept watch and ward on the outskirts of the 
town and drove away the chance newcomer, 
so that the knowledge of their good fortune 
should not spread. With duties shared, the 
dead sense of comradeship revived ; they 
began to recognize and greet each other as 
they came for their daily portion. And if 
some were restrained only by the common 
watchfulness from appropriating more than 
their share of the common stock, there 


were others in whom stirred the sense of 

For a week or more they lived under the 
beginnings of a social system which was 
rendered possible by their certainty of a 
daily mess ; and then came what, perhaps, 
was inevitable — discovery of pilfering from 
the store that gave life to them all. The 
pilferers, detected by the night-guard, fled on 
the instant, well knowing that their sin 
against the very existence of the little com- 
munity was a sin beyond hope of forgiveness ; 
they eluded pursuit in the darkness and by 
morning had vanished from the neighbour- 
hood. For the time only ; since they took 
with them the knowledge of the hoarded grain 
they had forfeited — a knowledge which was 
power and a weapon to themselves, a danger 
to those they had fled from. Two days later, 
after nightfall, a skeleton rabble, armed with 
knives, clubs and stones, was led into the 
town by the renegades ; and there was 
fought out a fierce, elementary battle, a 
struggle of starved men for the prize of life 
itself. . . . From the first the case of the 
defenders was hopeless ; outnumbered and 
taken by surprise, they were beaten in detail, 
overwhelmed — and in less than five minutes 


the survivors were flying for their lives, the 
darkness their only hope of safety. 

Theodore Savage was of the remnant who 
owed their lives to darkness and the speed 
with which they fled. As he neared the out- 
skirts of the town and slackened, exhausted, 
to draw breath, he heard the patter of running 
steps behind him and for a moment believed 
himself pursued — till a passing burst of moon- 
light showed the runner as a woman, like 
himself seeking safety in flight. A young 
woman, with a sobbing open mouth, who 
clutched at his arm and besought him not to 
leave her to be killed — to save her, to get her 
away ! ... He knew her by sight as he 
knew all the members of the destitute little 
community — a girl with a face once plump, 
now hollowed, whom he had seen daily when 
she came, in stupid wretchedness, to hold out 
her bowl for her share of the common ration ; 
one of a squalid company of three or four 
women who herded together — and whose habit 
of instinctive fellowship was broken by the 
sudden onslaught which had driven them 
apart in flight. 

" I don't know where they Ve all gone," she 
wailed. " Don't leave me — for Gawd's saike 


don't leave me. . . . Ow, whatever shall I 
do ? ... I dunno where to go — for Gawd's 
sake ..." 

He would gladly have been rid of her 
lamenting helplessness but she clung to him 
in a panic that would not be gainsaid, as 
fearful almost of the lonely dark ahead as of 
the bloody brawl she had fled from. 

" Hold your tongue," he ordered as he 
pulled her along. " Don't make that noise 
or they'll hear us. And keep close to me — 
keep in the shadow." 

She obeyed and stilled her sobbing to gasps 
and whimpers — holding tightly to his arm 
while he hurried her through by-streets to 
the open country. He knew no more than 
she where they were going when they left 
the silent outskirts of the town behind them, 
and, pressing against each other for warmth, 
bent their heads to a January wind. 


That night for Theodore Savage was the 
beginning of an odd partnership, a new phase 
of his life uncivilized. The girl who had 
clutched at him as the drowning clutch at 
straws was destined to bear him company for 
more than a winter's night and a journey to 
comparative safety ; being by nature and 
training of the type that clings, as a matter 
of right, to whomsoever will fend for it, she 
drifted after him instinctively. When she 
woke in the morning in the shelter he had 
found for her she looked round for him to 
guide and, if possible, feed her — and awaited 
his instructions passively. 

One human being — so it did not threaten 
him with violence — was no more to him than 
another, and perhaps he hardly noticed that 
when he rose and moved on she followed. 
From that hour forth she was always at his 
heels — complaining or too wretched to com- 
plain. He would let her hang on his arm as 
they trudged and shared his findings of food 



with her — because she had followed, was 
there; and it was some time before he 
realized that he had shouldered a respon- 
sibility which had no intention of shifting 
itself from his back. . . . When he realized 
the fact he had already tacitly accepted 
it ; and for the first few weeks of their 
existence in common he was too fiercely 
occupied in the task of keeping them both 
alive to consider or define his relation- 
ship to the creature who whimpered and 
stumbled at his heels and took scraps of 
food from his hands. When, at last, he con- 
sidered it, the relationship was established on 
both sides. She was his dependent, after the 
fashion of a child or an accustomed dog ; and 
having learned to look to him for food, for 
guidance and protection, she could be cast off 
only by direct cruelty and the breaking of a 
daily habit. 

In the beginning that was all ; she followed 
because she did not know what else to do ; he 
led and they hungered together. For the 
most part they were silent with the speech- 
lessness of misery, and it was days before he 
even asked her name, weeks before he knew 
more of her life in the past than was betrayed 
by a Cockney accent. So long as existence 


was a craving and a fear, where nothing mat- 
tered save hunger and the fending-off of 
present death, the fact that she was a woman 
meant no more to him than her dependence 
and his own responsibility ; thus her compan- 
ionship was no more than the bodily presence 
of a human being whose needs were his own, 
whose terrors and whose enemies were his. 

They prowled and starved together through 
the long bitterness of winter in a world 
stripped bare of its last year's harvest where 
all hungry mouths strove to keep other mouths 
at a distance ; and time and again, when they 
grubbed for food or sought to take shelter, they 
were driven away with threats and with vio- 
lence by those who already held possession of 
some tract of street or country. No claim to 
ownership could stand against the claim of a 
stronger, and one man, meeting them, would 
avoid them, slink out of their way — because, 
being two, they could strip him if the mood 
should take them. And when they, in their 
turn, sighted three or four figures in the dis- 
tance, they made haste to take another road. 

Once, when a solitary wayfarer shrank from 
them and scuttled to the cover of a ragged 
patch of firwood, there came back to Theodore, 
like a rushing mighty wind, the memory of 


his last days in London, the thought of his 
journey down to York. The strange, glad 
fellowship of the outbreak of war, the eager- 
ness to serve and be sacrificed ; the friendli- 
ness of strangers, the dear love of England, 
the brotherhood ! . . . The creature who scut- 
tled at his very sight would have been his 
brother in those first days of splendid sacrifice ! 
" Lord God ! " he said and laughed long and 
uncontrollably ; while the girl, Ada, stared in 
open-mouthed bewilderment — then pulled at 
his arm and began to cry, believing he was 
going off his head. 

In their hunted and fugitive life their wan- 
derings, of necessity, were planless ; they 
drifted east or west, by this road or that, as 
fear, the weather or the cravings of their 
hunger prompted. They sought food, thought 
food only and, as far as possible, avoided the 
neighbourhood of those, their fellow-men, who 
might try to share their meagre findings. 
House-room, bare house-room, stood ready for 
their taking in the country as well as in the 
town ; but wherever there was more than 
house-room — food or the mere possibility of 
food — the human wolf was at hand to dispute 
it with his rivals. There was a time when a 


road, followed blindly, led them down to the 
sea and the corpse of a pretentious little water- 
ing-place — where stiff, blank terraces of ornate 
brick and plaster stared out at the unbroken 
sea-line ; they found themselves shelter in a 
bow-windowed villa that still bore the legend 
V Ocean View : Apartments," trudged along 
the tide-mark in search of sand-crabs and 
fished from an iron-legged pier. When a long 
winter gale swept the pier with breakers and 
put a stop to their fishing, they turned and 
tramped inland again. . . . And there was 
another time when they were the sole inhabi- 
tants of a stretch of Welsh mining-village — 
they knew it for Welsh by the street-names — 
where they hunted their rats and grubbed for 
roots in allotments already trampled over. 
For very starvation they moved on again ; and 
later — how much later they could not remem- 
ber — took shelter, because they could go no 
further, in a cottage on the outskirts of a moor- 
land hamlet, where they were almost at ex- 
tremity when a bitter spell of cold, at the end 
of winter, sent them food in the shape of 
frozen rooks and starlings. And, a day or 
two later, they were driven out again ; Theo- 
dore, searching for dead birds in the snow, met 
others engaged in the same hungry quest — 


other and earlier settlers in the neighbourhood 
who saw in him a poacher on their scanty 
hunting-grounds and, gathering together in a 
common hate and need, fell on the intruders 
and chased them out with stones and threats. 
Theodore and the girl were hunted from their 
homestead and out on to the bleakness of the 
moor ; whence, looking back breathless and 
aching from their bruises, they saw half a 
dozen yelling starvelings who still threatened 
them with shouts and upraised fists. . . . 
They went on blindly because they dared not 
stay ; and that, for many days, was the last 
they saw of mankind. 

It must have been towards the end of 
February or the beginning of March that they 
ended their long goings to and fro and found 
the refuge that, for many months, was to give 
them hiding and sustenance. Since they had 
been driven from their last shelter they had 
sighted no enemy in the shape of a living man, 
but the days that followed their flight had been 
almost foodless ; and in the end they had 
come near to death from exposure on a stretch 
of hill and heath-covered country where they 
lost all 'sense of direction or even of desire. 
There, without doubt, they would have left 


their bones if there had not already been a 
promise of spring in the air ; as it was, they 
could hardly drag themselves along when 
the moor dropped suddenly into a valley, a 
wide strip of land once pasture, now bleak and 
blackened from the passing of the poison-fire 
which had seared it from end to end. Here 
and there were charred mummies of men and 
of animals, lying thickest round a farmhouse, 
partly burned out ; but beyond the burned 
farmhouse was a stream that might yield them 
fish ; and with the warmth that was melting 
the snow on the hilltops little shafts of green 
life were piercing through the blackened soil. 
Before dark, in what once had been a garden, 
they scraped with their nails and their knives 
and found food — worm-eaten roots that would 
once have seemed unfit for cattle, that they 
thrust into their mouths unwashed. They 
sheltered for the night within the skeleton 
walls of the farm ; and when, with morning, 
they crawled into the sun, the last patch of 
snow had vanished from the hills and the tiny 
shafts of green were more radiant against the 
blackened soil. . . . The long curse and bar- 
renness of winter was over and Nature was 
beginning anew her task of supporting her 


From that day forward they lived isolated, 
without sight or sound of men. Chance had 
led them to a loneliness which was safety, 
coupled with a bare possibility of supporting 
life — by rooting in fields left derelict, by fishing 
and the snaring of birds ; but for all their iso- 
lation it was long before they ceased to peer 
for men on the horizon, to take careful pre- 
cautions against the coming of their own kind. 
With the memory of savagery and violence 
behind them, they looked round sharply at 
an unaccustomed sound, kept preferably to 
woods and shadow and moved furtively in open 
country ; and Theodore's ultimate choice of a 
dwelling-place was dictated chiefly by fear of 
discovery and desire to remain unseen. What 
he sought was not only a shelter, a roof-tree, 
but a hiding-place which other men might 
pass without notice ; hence he settled at last 
in a fold of the hills — in a copse of tall wood, 
some four or five miles from their first halt, 
where oaks and larches, bursting into bud, 
denied the ruin that had come upon last year's 
world. . . . Theodore, setting foot in the 
wood for the first time — seeking refuge, a 
hiding-place to cower in — was suddenly in 
presence of the green life unchanging, that 
blessed and uplifted by its very indifference to 


the downfall and agony of man. The wind- 
flowers, thrusting through brown leaves, were 
as last year's windflowers — a delicate endur- 
ance that persisted. . . . He had entered a 
world that had not altered since the days 
when he lived as a man. 

He explored his little wood with precaution, 
creeping through it from end to end ; and, 
finding no more recent sign of human occupa- 
tion than a stack of sawn logs, their bark grey 
with mould, he decided on the site of his camp 
and refuge — a clearing near the stream that 
babbled down the valley, but well hidden by 
its thick belt of trees. The girl had followed 
him — she dreaded being left alone of all 
things — and assented with her customary 
listlessness when he explained to her that the 
bird-life and the stream would mean a food- 
supply and that the logs, ready cut, could be 
built into shelters from the weather ; she was 
a town-dweller, mentally as well as by habit 
of body, whom the spring of the woods had no 
power to rouse from her apathy. 

There were empty cottages for the taking 
lower down the valley and it was the fear of 
the marauder alone that sent them to camp in 
the wilderness, that kept them lurking in their 
fold of the hills, not daring to seek for greater 


comfort. Within a day or two after they had 
discovered it, they were hidden away in the 
solitary copse, their camp, to begin with, no 
more than a couple of small lean-to's — logs 
propped against the face of a projecting rock 
and their interstices stuffed with green moss. 
In the first few weeks of their lonely life they 
were often near starvation ; but with the 
passing of time food was more abundant, not 
only because Theodore grew more skilled in his 
fishing and snaring — learned the haunts of 
birds and the likely pools for fish — but because, 
as spring ripened, they inherited in the waste 
land around them a legacy of past cultivation, 
fruits of the earth that had sown themselves 
and were growing untended amidst weeds. 

With time, with experiment and returning 
strength, Theodore made their refuge more 
habitable ; tools, left lying in other men's 
houses, fields and gardens, were to be had for 
the searching, and, when he had brought home 
a spade discovered in a weed-patch and an axe 
found rusting on a cottage floor, he built a clay 
oven that their fire might not quench in the 
rain and hewed wood for the bettering of their 
shelters. Ada — when he told her where to 
look for it — gathered moss and heather for 
their bed-places and spread it to dry in the 


sun ; and from one of his more distant expedi- 
tions he returned with pots which served for 
cooking and the carrying of water from the 
stream. . . . Spring lengthened into summer 
and no man came near them ; they lived 
only to themselves in a primitive existence 
which concerned itself solely with food and 
bodily security. 

As the days grew longer and the means of 
subsistence were easier to come by, Theodore 
would go further afield — still moving cau- 
tiously over open country, but no longer ex- 
pectant of onslaught. In the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of his daily haunts and hunting- 
grounds was no sign of human life and work 
save a green cart-track that ended on the 
outskirts of his copse ; but lower down the 
valley were ploughed fields lapsing into weed- 
beds, here and there an orchard or a garden- 
patch and hedges that straggled as they would. 
Lower down again was another wide belt of 
burned land which, so far, he had not entered 
— trees on either side the stream, stood gaunt 
and withered to the farthest limit of his sight. 
The district, even when alive and flourishing, 
had seemingly been sparsely populated ; its 
lonely dwellings were few and far apart — a 
farmhouse here, a clump of small cottages 


there, all bearing traces of the customary 
invasion by the hungry. Sheep-farrning had 
been one of the local industries, and hillsides 
and fields were dotted with the skeletons of 
sheep — left lying where vagabond hunger had 
slaughtered them and ripped the flesh from 
their bones. 

As the year rolled over him, Theodore came 
to know the earth as primitive man and the 
savage know it — as the source of life, the store- 
house of uncertain food, the teacher of cunning 
and an infinite and dogged patience. When 
the weather made wandering or fishing im- 
possible he would sit under shelter, with his 
hands on his knees, passive, unimpatient, 
hardly moving through long hours, while he 
waited for the rain to cease. It was months 
before there stirred in him a desire for more 
than safety and his daily bread, before he 
thought of the humanity he had fled from 
except with fear and a shrinking curiosity as 
to what might be happening in the world be- 
yond his silent hills. In his body, exhausted 
by starvation, was a mind exhausted and 
benumbed ; to which only very gradually — 
as the quiet and healing of Nature worked on 
him — the power of speculation and outside 
interest returned. In the beginnings of his 


solitary life he still spoke little and thought 
little save of what was personal and physical ; 
cut off mentally from the future as well as from 
the past, he was content to be relieved of the 
pressure of hunger and hidden from the enemy, 


Of the woman whom chance and her own 
helplessness had thrown upon his hands he 
knew, in those first months, curiously little. 
She remained to him what she had been from 
the moment she clutched at his arm and fled 
with him — an encumbrance for which he was 
responsible — and as the numbness passed from 
his brain and he began once more to live ment- 
ally, she entered less and less into his thoughts. 
She was Ada Cartwright — as pronounced by 
its owner he took the name at first for Ida — 
ex-factory hand and dweller in the north-east 
of London ; once vulgarly harmless in the 
company of like-minded gigglers, now stupe- 
fied by months of fear and hunger, bewildered 
and incapable in a life uncivilized that de- 
manded of all things resource. As she ate 
more plentifully and lost her starved hollows, 
she was not without comeliness of the vacant, 
bouncing type ; a comeliness hidden from 
Theodore by her tousled hair, her tattered 
garments and the heavy wretchedness that 



sulked in her eyes and turned down the corners 
of her mouth. She was helpless in her new 
surroundings, with the dazed helplessness of 
those who have never lived alone or bereft 
of the minor appliances of civilization ; to 
Theodore, at times, she seemed half-witted, 
and he treated her perforce as a backward 
child, to be supervised constantly lest it fail 
in the simplest of tasks. 

It was his well-meant efforts to renew her 
scanty and disreputable wardrobe that first 
revealed to him something of the mind that 
worked behind her outward sullen apathy. In 
the beginning of disaster clothing had been 
less of a difficulty than the other necessities of 
life ; long after food was a treasure beyond 
price it could often be had for the taking and, 
when other means of obtaining it failed, those 
who needed a garment would strip it from the 
dead, who had no more need of it. In their 
hidden solitude it was another matter, and 
they were soon hard put to it to replace the 
rags that hung about them ; thus Theodore 
accounted himself greatly fortunate when, 
ransacking the rooms of an empty cottage, he 
came on a cupboard with three or four 
blankets which he proceeded to convert into 
clothing by the simple process of cutting a 


hole in the middle. He returned to the camp 
elated by his acquisition ; but when he pre- 
sented Ada with her improvised cloak, the 
girl astonished him by turning her head and 
bursting into noisy tears. 

" What's the matter? " he asked her, be- 
wildered. " Don't you like it ? " 

She made no answer but noisier tears, and 
when he insisted that it would keep her nice 
and warm her sobs rose to positive howls ; 
he stared at her uncertainly as she sat and 
rocked, then knelt down beside her and 
began to pat and soothe, as he might have 
tried to soothe a child. In the end the 
howls diminished in volume and he obtained 
an explanation of the outburst — an explana- 
tion given jerkily, through sniffs, and accom- 
panied by much rubbing of eyes. 

No, it wasn't that she didn't want it — she 
did want it — but it reminded her ... It 
was so 'ard never to 'ave anything nice to 
wear. Wasn't she ever going to 'ave any- 
thing nice to wear again — not ever, as long as 
she lived ? . . . She supposed she'd always 
got to be like this ! No 'airpins — and straw 
tied round her feet instead of shoes ! . . . 
Made you look as if you'd got feet like ele- 
phants — and she'd always been reckoned to 


'ave a small foot. . . . Made you wish you 
was dead and buried ! . . . 

He tried two differing lines of consolation, 
neither particularly successful ; suggesting, 
in the first place, that there was no one but 
himself to see what she looked like, and, in the 
second, that a blanket could be made quite 
becoming as a garment. 

" That's a lie," Ada told him sulkily. " You 
know it ain't becoming — 'ow could it be ? A 
blanket with an 'ole for the 'ead ! . . . Might 
just as well 'ave no figure. Might just as well 
be a sack of pertaters. ... I wonder what 
anyone would 'ave said at 'ome if I'd told 'em 
I should ever be dressed in a blanket with an 
'ole for the 'ead ! . . . And I always 'ad 
taiste in my clothes — everyone said I 'ad 

And — stirred to the soul by the memory of 
departed chiffon, by the hideous contrast be- 
tween present squalor and former Sunday best 
— her howls once more increased in volume 
and she blubbered with her head on her knee. 

Theodore gave up the attempt at consola- 
tion as useless, leaving her to weep herself out 
over vanished finery while he busied himself 
with the cooking of their evening meal ; and 
in due time she came to the end of her stock 


of emotion, ceased to snuffle, ate her supper 
and took possession of the blanket with the 
'ole for the 'ead — which she wore without 
further complaint. The incident was over and 
closed ; but it was not without its significance 
in their common life. To Theodore the tragi- 
comic outburst was a reminder that his de- 
pendent, for all her childish helplessness, was 
a woman, not only a creature to be fed ; while 
the stirrings of Ada's personal vanity were a 
sign and token that she, also, was emerging 
from the cowed stupor of body and mind pro- 
duced by long terror and starvation, that her 
thoughts, like her companion's, were turning 
again to the human surroundings they had 
fled from. . . . Man had ceased to be only an 
enemy, and the first sheer relief at security 
attained was mingling, in both of them, with 
the desire to know what had come to a world 
that still gave no sign of its existence. Order, 
the beginnings of a social system (so Theodore 
insisted to himself) must by now have risen 
from the dust ; but meanwhile — because order 
restored gave no sign and the memory of human- 
ity debased was still vivid — he showed him- 
self with caution against the skyline and went 
stealthily when he broke new ground. There 
were days when he lay on a hill-top and 


scanned the clear horizon, for an hour at a 
time, in the hope that a man would come in 
sight ; just as there were nights, many, when 
he lived his past agonies over again and 
started from his sleep, alert and trembling, lest 
the footstep he had dreamed might be real. 
Meanwhile he made no move towards the 
world he had fled from — waiting till it gave 
him a sign. 

If he had been alone in his wilderness, un- 
burdened by the responsibility of Ada and 
her livelihood, it is probable that, before the 
days shortened, he would have embarked upon 
a journey of cautious exploration ; but there 
was hazard in taking her, hazard in leaving her, 
and their safety was still too new and precious 
to be lightly risked for the sake of a curious 
adventure — which might lead, with ill-luck, to 
discovery of their secret place and the enforced 
sharing of their hidden treasure of food. 
Further, as summer drew on towards autumn, 
though his haunting fear of mankind grew less, 
his work in his own small corner of the earth 
was incessant and, in preparation for the 
coming of winter, he put thought of distant 
expedition behind him and busied himself in 
making their huts more weatherproof, as well 
as roomier, in the storing of firewood under 


shelter from the damp, and in the gathering 
together of a stock of food that would not rot. 
He made frequent journeys — sometimes alone, 
sometimes with Ada trudging behind him — 
to a derelict orchard in the lower valley which 
supplied them plentifully with apples ; he had 
provided himself with a wet-weather occupa- 
tion in the twisting of osiers into clumsy 
baskets — which were rilled in the orchard and 
carried to their camping-place where they 
spread out the apples on dried moss. . . . 
With summer and autumn they fared well 
enough on the harvest of other men's plant- 
ing ; and if Theodore's crude and ignorant 
experiments in the storage of fruit and vege- 
tables were failures more often than not, there 
remained sufficient of the bounty of harvest 
to help them through the scarcity of winter. 

It was with the breaking of the next spring 
that there came a change into the life that he 
lived with Ada. 

They had dragged through the winter in a 
squalid hardship that, but for the memory of 
a hardship more dreadful, would have seemed 
at times beyond bearing ; often short of food, 
with no means of light but their fire, with 
damp and snow dripping through their ill- 


built shelters — where they learned, like ani- 
mals, to sleep through the long dark hours. 
Through all the winter months their solitude 
was still unbroken, and if any marauders 
prowled in the neighbourhood, they passed 
without knowledge of the hidden camp in the 

It was — so far as he could guess — on one of 
the first sunny days of March that Theodore, 
the spring lust of movement stirring in his 
blood, went further from the camp than he 
had as yet explored ; following the stream 
down its valley into the wide belt of burned 
land, now rank with coarse grass and yellow 
dandelions. For an hour or so there was 
nothing save coarse grass, yellow dandelion 
and gaunt, dead trees ; then a bend of the 
stream showed him roofs — a cluster of them 
— and instinctively he halted and crouched 
behind a tree before making his stealthy 

His stealth and precaution were needless. 
The village from a distance might have passed 
for uninjured — the flames that had blackened 
its fields had swept by it, and the houses, for 
the most part, stood whole ; but there was no 
living man in the long, straggling street, no 
movement, save of birds and the pattering 


little scuffle of rats. The indifferent life of 
beast and bird had taken possession of the 
dwellings of those who once tyrannized over 
them ; and not only of their dwellings but 
their bodies. At the entrance of the village 
half-a-dozen skeletons lay sprawled on the 
grass-grown road, and a robin sang jauntily 
from his perch on the breast -bone of a man. 
. . . From one end of the street to the other 
the bones of men lay scattered ; in the road, 
in gardens, on the thresholds of houses — some 
with tattered rags still fluttering to the wind, 
some bare bones only, whence the flesh had 
festered and been gnawed. By a cottage 
doorstep lay two skeletons touching each 
other — whereof one was the framework of a 
child ; the little bones that had once been 
arms reached out to the death's-head that once 
had borne the likeness of a woman. . . . 

There was a time when Theodore would 
have turned from the sight and fled hastily ; 
even now, familiar though he was with the 
ugliness of death, his flesh stirred and crept 
in the presence of the grotesque litter of 
bones. . . . These people had died suddenly, 
in strange contorted attitudes — here crouch- 
ing, there outstretched with clawing fingers. 
Gas, he supposed — a cloud of gas rolling down 


the street before the wind — and perhaps not 
a soul left alive ! . . . From an upper window 
hung a long, fleshless arm : someone had 
thrust up the casement for air and fallen half 
across the sill. 

It was the indifferent, busy chirping of the 
nesting birds that helped him to the courage to 
explore the silent street to its end. It wound, 
through the village and out of it, to a bridge 
across a river — into which flowed the smaller 
stream he had followed since he left his refuge 
in the hills. From the bridge the road turned 
with the river and ran down the valley in a 
south to south-easterly direction ; a road 
grass-grown and empty and bearing no recent 
trace of the life of man — nothing more recent 
than the remains of a cart, blackened wood 
and rusted metal, with the bones of a horse 
between its shafts. 

Below the dead village the valley opened 
out, the hills receded and were lower ; but 
between them, so far as his eye could discern, 
the trees were still blackened and lifeless. 
Down either side the stream the fire-blast 
had swept without mercy ; and, from the 
completeness with which the country had been 
seared, Theodore judged that it had been 
largely cornland, waving with ripe stalks at 


the moment of disaster and fired after days of 
dry weather. . . . All life, save the life of man, 
teemed in the hot March sun ; the herbage 
thrust bravely to obliterate his handiwork, 
larks shrilled invisibly and lithe, dark fish 
were darting through the arches of the bridge. 
He went only a yard or two beyond the end 
of the bridge — having, as the sun warned him, 
reached the limit of distance he could well 
accomplish if he was to return to the camp by 
nightfall. On his way back through the vil- 
lage he fought with his repugnance to the 
grinning company of the dead and turned into 
one of the silent houses that stood open for 
any man to enter. Though the dead still 
dwelt there — stricken down, on the day of 
disaster before they could reach the open air — 
there were the usual abundant traces that 
living men had been there before him ; the 
door had been forced and rooms littered and 
fouled in the frequent search for clothing and 
food. All the same, in the hugger-mugger on 
a kitchen floor he found treasure of string and 
stuffed the blanket-bag slung over his back 
with odds and ends of rusting hardware ; 
finally mounting to the floor above the kitchen 
where, at the head of the staircase, an open 
door faced him and beyond it a chest of 


drawers. The drawers had been pulled out 
and emptied on the floor ; what remained of 
their contents was a dirty litter, sodden by 
rain when it drove through the window and 
browned with the dust of many months, and it 
was not until Theodore had picked up a handful 
of the litter that he saw it was composed of 
women's trifles of underwear. What he held 
was a flimsy bodice made of soiled and faded 
lawn with a narrow little edging of lace. 

He dropped it, only to pick it up again — 
remembering suddenly the blanket episode and 
Ada's lamentable howls for the garments a 
wilderness denied her. Perhaps an assort- 
ment of dingy finery would do something to 
allay her craving — and, amused at the thought, 
he went down on a knee and proceeded to 
collect an armful. Appropriately the shifting 
of a heap of yellowed rags revealed a broken 
hand-glass, lying face downwards on the floor ; 
as he raised it, wondering what Ada would say 
to a mirror as a gift, its cracked surface 
showed him a bedstead behind him — not 
empty ! . . . What was left of the owner of 
the scraps of lawn and lace was reflected from 
the oval of the glass. 

He snatched up his bag and clattered down 
the stairs into the open. 



It was well past dusk when he trudged up 
the path that led to the camp and found Ada 
on the watch at the outskirts of the copse, 
uneasy at the thought of dark alone. 

" You 'ave been a time," she reproached 
him sulkily. " The 'ole blessed day — since 
breakfus. I was beginnin' to think you'd 
gone and got lost and I've 'ad the fair 'ump 
sittin' 'ere by myself and listenin' to them 
owls. I 'ate their beastly screechin' ; it gives 
me the creeps." 

" Never mind," he consoled her, " come 
along to the fire. I've brought you something 
— a present." 

" Pertaters ? " Ada conjectured, still sulky. 

" Not potatoes this time," he told her. 
11 Better than vegetables — something to 

" Something to wear," she repeated, with 
no show of enthusiasm. "I suppose that's 
another old blanket ! " 

" Wrong again," he rejoined, amused by 
1 62 


the contempt in her voice. She was still con- 
temptuous when he opened his bag and tossed 
her a dingy bundle ; but as she disentangled 
it, saw lace and embroidery, she brightened 
suddenly and knelt down to examine in the 
firelight ; while the sight of the cracked 
hand-glass brought an instant " Oh ! " fol- 
lowed by intent contemplation and much 
patting and twisting of hair. 

Theodore dished supper while she sat and 
pondered her reflection ; and even while she 
ate hungrily she had eyes and thoughts for 
nothing but her new possessions. Some were 
what he had taken them to be — underclothes, 
for the most part of an ordinary pattern ; but 
mingled with the plainer linen articles were 
one or two more decorative, lace collars and 
the like, and it was on these, dingy as they 
were, that she fell with delight that was open 
and audible. He watched her curiously when, 
for the first time since he had known her, he 
saw her mouth widen in a smile. She was 
no longer inert, the sullen, lumpish Ada, she 
was critical, interested, alive ; she fingered 
her treasures, she smoothed them and made 
guesses at their price when new ; she held 
them up, now this way, now that, for his 
admiration and her own. Finally, while 


Theodore stretched his tired length by the 
camp-fire, she ran off to her shelter for a 
broken scrap of comb ; and when he looked 
up, a few minutes later, she was posing 
self-consciously before the hand-glass, with 
hair newly twisted and a dirty scrap of lace 
round her neck. . . . She was another woman 
as she sat with her rags arranged to show her 
new frippery ; tilting the hand-mirror this 
way and that and twitching now at the collar 
and now at her straying ends of hair. 

Lying stretched on an arm by the fire, he 
watched her little feminine antics, amused and 
taken out of himself ; realizing how seldom, 
till that moment, he had thought of her as a 
woman, how nearly she had seemed to him an 
animal only, a creature to be guided and fed ; 
and parrying her eager and insistent demand 
to be taken to the house where the treasure 
had been found, that she might see if it con- 
tained any more. He had no desire to spoil 
her pleasure in her finery by the gruesome tale 
of the manner of its finding ; hence, in spite of 
a curiosity made manifest in coaxing, he held 
to his refusal stubbornly. . . . The house 
was a long way off, he told her — much further 
than she would care to tramp ; then, as she 
still persisted, maintaining her readiness even 


for a lengthy expedition, he went on to fiction 
and explained that the house was in a danger- 
ous condition — knocked about, ruinous, might 
fall at any moment — and he was not going to 
say where it was, for her own sake, lest she 
should be tempted to the peril of an entry. 

She pouted " You might tell me," glancing 
at him from under her lashes ; then, as he 
still persisted in refusal, slapped him on the 
shoulder for an obstinate boy, turned her back 
and pretended to sulk. He returned the slap 
— she expected it and giggled ; the next move 
in the game was his catching of her wrist as 
she raised her hand for a rejoinder — and for a 
moment they wrestled inanely, after the fashion 
of Hampstead Heath. ... As he let her go, 
it dawned on him that this was flirtation as 
she knew it. 

It did not take long for him to realize that 
they stood to each other, from that night on, 
in a new and more difficult relation ; from 
foundling and guardian, the leader and led, 
they had developed into woman and man. 
For a time fear and hunger had suppressed in 
Ada the consciousness of sex — which a yard 
or two of lace and the possession of a hand- 
glass had revived. Once revived, it coloured 


her every action, gave meaning to her every 
word and glance ; so that, day by day and 
hour by hour, the man who dwelt beside her 
was reminded of bodily desire. 

One night when she had left him he lay 
staring at the fire, faced the situation and 
wondered if she saw where she was drifting ? 
Possibly — possibly not ; she was acting in- 
stinctively, from habit. To her (he was sure) 
a man was a creature to flirt with ; an un- 
subtle attempt to arouse his desire was the 
only way she knew of carrying on a conversa- 
tion. . . . Now that she was woman again — 
not merely bewildered misery and empty 
stomach — she had slipped back inevitably to 
the little giggling allurements of her factory 
days, to the habits bred in her bone. . . . With 
the result ? ... He put the thought from 
him, turned over, dog-weary, and slept. 

So soon as the next night he saw the result 
as inevitable ; the outcome of life reduced 
to mere animal living, of nearness, isolation 
and the daily consciousness of sex. If they 
stayed together — and how should they not 
stay together ? — it was only a question of 
time, of weeks at the furthest, of days or it 
might be hours. ... He raised himself to 
peer through the night at the log-hut that hid 


and sheltered Ada, wondering if she also were 
awake. If so, of a certainty, her thoughts were 
of him ; and perhaps she knew likewise that it 
was only a question of time. Perhaps — and 
perhaps she just drifted, following her instincts. 
... He found himself wondering what she 
would say if she opened her eyes to find him 
standing at the entrance to her hut, to see him 
bending over her . . . now? 

He put the thought from him and once more 
turned over and slept. 

With the morning it seemed further off, 
less inevitable ; Jhe sun was hidden behind 
raw grey mist, and when Ada, shivering and 
stupid, turned out into the chilly discomfort 
of the weather she was too much depressed 
for the exercise of feminine coquetry. The 
day's work — hard necessary wood-chopping 
and equally necessary fishing for the larder — 
sent his thoughts into other channels, and it 
was not till he sat at their evening fire — 
warmed, fed and rested, with no duties to 
distract him — that he became conscious again, 
and even more strongly, of the change in their 
attitude and intercourse. Something new, 
of expectation, had crept into it ; something 
of excitement and constraint. When their 
hands touched by chance they noticed it, were 


instantly awkward ; when a silence fell Ada 
was embarrassed, uncomfortable and made 
palpable efforts to break it with her pointless 
giggle. When their eyes met, hers dropped 
and looked away. . . . When she rose at last 
and said good-night he was sure that she also 
knew. And since they both knew and the end 
was inevitable, certain . . . 

" You're not going yet," he said — and 
caught at her wrist, laughing oddly. 

" It's late — and I'm sleep}'," she objected 
with a foolish little giggle ; but made no effort 
to withdraw her wrist from )iis hold. 

" Nonsense," he told her, "it's early yet — 
and you're better by the fire. Sit down and 
keep me company for a bit longer." 

She giggled again — more faintly, more ner- 
vously — as she yielded to the pull of his fingers 
and sat down ; offering no protest when, in- 
stead of releasing her arm, he drew it through 
his own and held it pressed to his side. ... It 
was a windless night, very silent ; no sound 
but the rush of the little stream below them, 
now and then a bird-cry and the snap and 
crackle of their fire. Once or twice Ada tried 
talking — of a hooting owl, of a buzzing insect 
— for the sake, obviously, of talking, of hearing 
a voice through the silence ; but as he an- 


swered not at all, or by monosyllables, her 
forced little chatter died away. Even if the 
thought was not conscious, he knew she was 
his for the taking. 

With her arm in his — with her body pressed 
close enough to feel her quickened breathing — 
he sat and stared into the fire ; and at the last, 
when the inevitable was about to accomplish 
itself, there floated into his mental vision the 
delicate memory of the woman whom once he 
had desired. Phillida, a shadow impossible, 
leaned out of a vanished existence as the 
Damosel leaned out of Heaven ; and he looked 
with his civilized, his artist's eyes on the woman 
who was his for the taking. . . . Ada felt 
that he slackened his hold on her arm, felt 
him shrink a little from the pressure of her 
leaning shoulder. 

' What is it ? " she asked — uneasy ; and 
perhaps it was the sound of her familiar voice 
that brought him back to primitive realities. 
The glow of the fire and the over-arching vault 
of darkness ; and beneath it two creatures, 
male and female, alone with nature, subject 
only to the laws of her instinct. . . . The 
vision of a dead world, a dead woman, faded 
and he looked no more through the fastidious 
eyes of the civilized. 


Man civilized is various, divided from his 
kind by many barriers — of taste, of speech, of 
habit of mind and breeding ; man living as 
the brute is cut to one pattern, the pattern 
of his simple needs and lusts. . . . The warm 
shoulder pressed him and he drew it the closer ; 
he was man in a world of much labour and 
instinct — who sweated through the seasons 
and wearied. Whose pains were of the body, 
whose pleasures of the body . . . and alone 
in the night with a mate. 

' 'Ere, what's that for ? " she asked, making 
semblance of protest, as his hand went round 
her head and he pressed her cheek against 
his lips. 

He said " You ! " . . . and laughed oddly 


They settled down swiftly and prosaically 
into a married state which entailed no immedi- 
ate alteration — save one — in life as they had 
hitherto shared it. Matrimony shorn of rings 
and a previous engagement, shorn of cere- 
mony, honeymoon, change of residence and 
comments of friends, revealed itself as a 
curiously simple undertaking and, by its very 
simplicity, disappointing — so far at least as 
Ada was concerned. 

Her conscience, in the matter of legal and 
religious observance, was not unduly tender, 
and her embryo scruples concerning the 
absence of legal or religious sanction to their 
union were easily allayed by her husband's 
assurance that they were as truly married as 
it was possible to be in a world without 
churches or registrars. What she missed far 
more than certificate or blessing was the para- 
phernalia and accompanying circumstance of 
the wedding, to which she had always looked 
forward as the culminating point of her exis- 



tence ; her veil, her bouquet, her bevy of 
bridesmaids, her importance ! . . . When she 
sat with her back against a tree-trunk, list- 
lessly unobservant of the play of dappled 
sunlight or the tracery of leafage, she would 
crave in the shallows of her disappointed heart 
for the gaudy little sitting-room that should 
have been her newly-married dwelling ; con- 
trasting its impossible and non-existent splen- 
dours with the ramshackle roof-tree under 
which she took shelter from the weather. The 
gaudy, tasteless, stuffy little room wherein 
she should have set out her wedding presents, 
displayed her photos and done honours of 
possession to her friends. . . . That was 
matrimony as she understood it ; enhanced 
importance, display of her matronly dignity. 
And instead, a marriage that aroused no envy, 
called forth no jests, affected none but the 
partners to the bond ; in the unchanged dis- 
comfort of unchanged surroundings — wherein, 
being crowd-bred, she could see little beauty 
and no meaning ; in the frequent loneliness 
and silence abhorrent to her noise-loving soul ; 
with the evening companionship of a wearied 
man to whom her wifehood meant no more 
than a physical relation. 

Theodore, being male, was not troubled by 


her abstract longings for the minor dignities 
of matrimony — and, expecting little from his 
married life, it could not bring him disillusion. 
Ada might have fancied that what stirred in 
her was love ; he had always known himself 
moved by a physical instinct only. Thus of 
the pair he was the less to be pitied when the 
increased familiarity of their life in common 
brought its necessary trouble in the shape of 
friction — revealing the extent of their unlike- 
ness and even, with time, their antagonism. 
One of the results of her vague but ever- 
present sense of grievance, her lasting home- 
sickness for a world that had crumbled, was a 
lack of interest in the world as it was and a 
reluctance to adapt herself to an environment 
altogether hateful ; hence, on Theodore's 
side, a justified annoyance at her continued 
want of resource and the burdensome stupid- 
ity which threw extra labour on himself. 

She was a thoroughly helpless woman ; 
helpless after the fashion of the town-bred 
specialist, the product of division of labour. 
The country, to her, was a district to drive 
through in a char-a-banc with convenient 
halts at public-houses. Having lived all her 
days as the member of a crowd, she was a 
creature incomplete and undeveloped ; she 


had schooled with a crowd and worked with it, 
shared its noise and its ready-made pleasures ; 
it is possible that, till red ruin came, she had 
conceived of no other existence. . . . Leaving 
school, she had entered a string factory 
where she pocketed a fairly comfortable wage 
in return for the daily and yearly manipula- 
tion of a machine devoted to the production 
of a finer variety of twine. Having learned to 
handle the machine with ease, life had no more 
to offer her in the way of education, and devel- 
opment came to a standstill. Her meals, for 
the most part, she obtained without trouble 
from factory canteens, cheap restaurants or 
municipal kitchens ; thus her domestic duties 
were few — the daily smearing of a bedroom 
(frequently omitted) and the occasional cobb- 
ling of a garment, bought ready-made. Her 
reading, since her schooldays, had consisted 
of novelettes only, and even to these she was 
not greatly addicted, preferring, as a rule, a 
more companionable form of amusement — a 
party to the pictures, gossip with her girl- 
friends and flirtations more or less open. At 
twenty-three (when disaster came) she was 
a buxom, useless and noisy young woman — 
good-natured, with the brain of a hen ; in- 
capable alike of boiling a potato or feeling an 


interest in any subject that did not concern 
her directly. 

There were moments when she irritated 
Theodore intensely by her infantile helpless- 
ness and the blunders that resulted therefrom, 
by her owlish stupidity in the face of the new 
and unfamiliar. And there were moments 
when, for that very owlishness, he pitied her 
with equal intensity, realizing that his own 
loss, his daily wretchedness, was a small thing 
indeed beside hers. The ruin of a world could 
not rob him utterly of his heritage of all the 
ages ; part of that heritage no ruin could touch, 
since he had treasure stored in his heart and 
brain for so long as his memory should last. 
But for Ada, whose world had been a world of 
cheap finery, of giggling gossip and evenings 
at the cinema, there remained from the ages 
— nothing. Gossip and cinemas, flowered 
hats and ribbon-trimmed camisoles — they had 
left not a wrack, save regret, for her mind to 
feed on. . . .As the workings of her vacant 
little soul were laid bare to him, he understood 
how dreadful was its plight ; how pitiably 
complete must be the blankness of a life such 
as hers, bereft of the daily little personal 
interests wherein had been summed up a 
world. She — unhandy, unresourceful, super- 


ficial — was one of the natural and inevitable 
products of a mechanical civilization ; which, 
in saving her trouble, had stunted her, inter- 
posing itself between primary cause and effect. 
Bread, to her, was food bought at a counter — 
not grown with labour in a field ; the result 
not of rain, sun and furrow, but of sixpence 
handed to a tradesman. And cunning men 
of science had wrestled with the forces of 
nature that she might drop a penny in the 
slot for warmth or suck sweets with her 
" boy " at the pictures. 

He guessed her a creature who had always 
lived noisily, a babbler whom even his fits of 
taciturnity would not have daunted had she 
found much to babble of in the lonely world 
she shared with him ; but, bewildered and 
awed by it, oppressed by its silence, she found 
meagre subject-matter for the very small talk 
which was her only method of expression. 
Under the peace and vastness of the open sky 
she was homesick for a life that excluded all 
vastness and peace ; her sorrow's crown of 
sorrow was a helpless, incessant craving for 
little meaningless noises and little personal 
excitements. . . . Sometimes, at night, as they 
sat by the fire, he would see her face pathetic in 
its blank dreariness ; her eyes wandering from 


the glow of the fire to the darkness beyond it 
and back from the darkness to the glow. 
Endeavouring — (or so he imagined) — to s piece 
together some form of inner life from frag- 
mentary memories of past inanity and aim- 
less, ephemeral happenings ! 

The sight often moved him to pity ; but he 
cast about in vain for a means of allaying her 
sodden and persistent discontent. Once or 
twice he attempted to awaken her interest by 
explaining, as he would have explained to a 
child, the movements of nightly familiar stars, 
the habits of birds or the process of growth in 
vegetation. These things, as he took care to 
point out, now concerned her directly, were 
part of the round of her existence ; but the 
fact had no power to stimulate a mind which 
had been accustomed to accept, without in- 
terest or inquiry, the marvels of mechanical 
science. She carried over into her new life the 
same lack of curiosity which had characterized 
her dealings with the old ; she was no more 
alive to the present phenomena of the open 
field than to the past phenomena of the electric 
switch, the petrol-engine or the gas-meter. 
. . . And the workings of the gas-meter at 
least had been pleasant — while the workings 
of raw nature repelled her. Thus Theodore's 



only reward for his attempt at education was 
a bored, inattentive remark, to the effect that 
she had heard her teacher say something like 
that at school. 

She had all the crowd-liver's horror of her 
own company ; strengthened, in her case, by 
dislike of her surroundings, amounting to ab- 
horrence, and the abiding nervousness that 
was a natural after-effect of the days when she 
had fled from her fellows and cowered to the 
earth in an abject and animal terror. Her un- 
willingness to let Theodore out of her sight 
was comprehensible enough, if irritating ; but 
there were times when it was more than irri- 
tating — a difficulty added to life. It was im- 
possible to apportion satisfactorily a daily 
toil that, if Ada had her way, must always be 
performed in company ; while her customary 
fellowship on his hunting and snaring ex- 
peditions meant not only the presence of a 
clumsy idler but the dying down of a neg- 
lected log-fire and the postponement of all 
preparations for a meal until after their 
return to camp. Further, it was a bar to that 
wider exploration of the neighbourhood which, 
as time went on, he desired increasingly ; con- 
fining him, except on comparatively rare 
occasions, to such range from his hearthstone 


as could be attained in the company of Ada. 
So long as he attributed it to the workings of 
fear only, he was hopeful that, with time, her 
abhorrence of loneliness might pass ; but as 
the months went by he realized that it was not 
only fear that kept her close to his heels — her 
town-bred incapacity to interest or occupy 

Once — when the call of the outside world 
grew louder — he proposed to Ada that he 
should see her well provided with a store of 
food and fuel and leave her for two or three 
days ; hoping to tempt her to agreement by 
pointing out the probability, amounting to 
certainty, that other survivors of disaster must 
be dwelling somewhere within reach. Peace- 
able survivors with whom they could join 
forces with advantage. . . . Her face lit up 
for a moment at the idea of other men's com- 
pany ; but when she understood that he pro- 
posed to go alone, her terror at the idea of 
being left was abject and manifest. She was 
afraid of everything and anything ; of ghosts, 
of darkness, of prowling men, of spiders and 
possible snakes ; and, having reasoned in 
vain, in the end he gave her the assurance she 
clamoured for — that she should not be called 
on to suffer the agony of a night by herself. 


He gave her the promise in sheer pity, but 
regretted it as soon as made. He had set his 
heart on a journey in search of the world that 
gave no sign, planning to undertake it before 
the days grew shorter ; but he did not dis- 
guise from himself that there might still be 
danger in the expedition — which Ada's ham- 
pering presence would increase. The project 
was abandoned for the time being, in the hope 
that she would see reason later ; but he re- 
gretted his promise and weakness the more 
when he found that Ada did not trust to his 
word and, fearing lest he gave her the slip, 
now clung to him as closely as his shadow. 
Her suspicion and stupidity annoyed him ; 
and there were times when he was ashamed of 
his own irritation when he saw her trotting, 
like a dog, at his heels or squatting within 
eyeshot of his movements. He was conscious 
of a longing to slap her silly face, and more 
than once he spoke sharply to her, urged her 
to go home; whereupon she sulked or cried, 
but continued her trotting and squatting. 

The irritation came to a head one afternoon 
in the early days of autumn when, with per- 
sistent ill-luck, he had been fishing a mile or 
so from home. Various causes combined to 
bring about the actual outbreak ; a growing 


anxiety with regard to the winter supply of 
provisions, sharpened by the discovery, the 
night before, that a considerable proportion 
of his store of vegetables was a failure and 
already malodorous ; the ill-success of several 
hours' fishing, and gusty, unpleasant weather 
that chilled him as he huddled by the water. 
The weather worsened after mid-day, the 
gusts bringing rain in their wake ; a cold 
slanting shower that sent him, in all haste, to 
the clump of trees where Ada had sheltered 
since the morning. The sight of her sitting 
there to keep an eye on him — uselessly watch- 
ful and shivering to no purpose — annoyed him 
suddenly and violently ; he turned on her 
sharply, as the shower passed, and bade her 
go home on the instant. She was to keep a 
good fire, a blazing fire — he would be drenched 
and chilled by the evening. She was to have 
water boiling that the meal might be cooked 
the moment he returned with the wherewithal. 
. . . While he spoke she eyed him with 
questioning, distrustful sullenness ; then, 
convinced that he meant what he said, 
half rose — only, after a moment of further 
hesitation, to slide down to her former 
position with her back against the trunk of 
a beech-tree. 


" I don't want to," she said doggedly. " I 
want to sta3' 'ere. I don't see why I shouldn't. 
What d'yer want to get rid of me for ? " 

The suspicion that lay at the back of the 
refusal infuriated him : it was suddenly in- 
tolerable to be followed and spied on, and he 
lost his temper badly. The rough-tongued 
vehemence of his anger surprised himself as 
much as it frightened his wife ; he swore at 
her, threatened to duck her in the stream, and 
poured out his grievances abusively. What 
good was she ? — a clog on him, who could not 
even tend a fire, a helpless idiot who had to be 
waited on, a butter-fingered idler without 
brains ! Let her do what he told her and 
make herself of use, unless she wanted to be 
turned out to fend for herself. . . . Much of 
what he said was justified, but it was put 
savagely and coarsely ; and when — cowed, 
perhaps, by the suggestion of a ducking — Ada 
had taken to her heels in tears, he was remorse- 
ful as well as surprised at his own vehemence. 
He had not known himself as a man who could 
rail brutally and use threats to a woman ; the 
revelation of his new possibilities troubled 
him ; and when, towards sundown, he gath- 
ered up his meagre prey and stepped out 
homeward, it was with the full intention of 


making amends to Ada for the roughness of 
his recent outburst. 

His path took him through a copse of brush- 
wood into what had been a cart-track ; now 
grass-grown and crumbling between hedges 
that straggled and encroached. The wind, 
rising steadily, was sweeping ragged clouds 
before it and as he emerged from the shelter 
of the copse he was met by a stinging rain. 
He bent his head to it, in shivering discomfort, 
thrusting chilled hands under his cloak for 
warmth and longing for the blaze and the 
good warm meal that should thaw them ; he 
had left the copse a good minute behind him 
when, from the further side of the overgrown 
hedge, he heard sudden rending of brambles, 
a thud, and a human cry. A yard or two on 
was a gap in the hedge where a gate still 
swung on its hinges ; he rushed to it, quiver-' 
ing at the thought of possibilities — and found 
Ada struggling to her knees ! 

She began to cry loudly when she saw him, 
like a child caught in flagrant transgression ; 
protesting, with bawling and angry tears, 
that " she wasn't going to be ordered about " 
and " she should staiy just where she liked ! '' 
It did not take him long to gather that her 
previous flight had been a semblance only and 


that, shivering and haunted by ridiculous 
suspicion, she had watched him all the after- 
noon from behind the screen of the copsewood 
— for company partly, but chiefly to make 
sure he was there. Seeing him gather up his 
tackle and depart homeward, she had tried 
to outpace him unseen ; keeping the hedge 
between them as she ran and hoping to avert 
a second explosion of his wrath by blowing 
up the ashes of the lire before his arrival at 
the camp. An unsuspected rabbit-burrow 
had tripped her hurrying feet and brought 
about disaster and discovery ; and she made 
unskilful efforts to turn the misfortune to 
account by rubbing her leg and complaining 
of damage sustained. 

In contact with her stubborn folly his 
repentance and kindly resolutions were for- 
gotten ; he cut short her bid for sympathy 
with a curt " Get along with you," caught 
her by the arm and started her with a push 
along the road — too angry to notice that, for 
the first time, he had handled her with actual 
violence. Then, bending his head to the sweep 
of the rain, he strode on, leaving her to follow 
as she would. 

Perhaps her leg really pained her, perhaps 
she judged it best to keep her distance from 


his wrath ; at any rate she was a hundred 
yards or more behind him when he reached 
the camp and, stirring the ashes that should 
have been a fire, found only a flicker alive. 
He cursed Ada's idiocy between his chattering 
teeth as he set to work to re-kindle the fire ; 
his hands shaking, half from anger, half from 
cold, as he gathered the fuel together. When, 
after a long interval of coaxing and cursing, 
the flame quivered up into the twilight, it 
showed him Ada sitting humped at the 
entrance to their shelter ; and at sight of her, 
inert and watching him — watching him ! — 
his wrath flared sudden and furious. 

" Have you filled the cookpot ? " he asked, 
standing over her. " No ? . . . Then what 
were you doing — sitting there staring while I 
worked ? " 

She began to whimper, " You're crool to 
me ! " — and repeated her parrot-like burden 
of futile suspicion and grievance ; that she 
knew he wanted to get her out 01 the way so 
as he could leave her, and she couldn't be left 
alone for the night ! He had a sense of being 
smothered by her foolish, invertebrate per- 
sistence, and as he caught her by the shoulders 
he trembled and sputtered with rage. 

" God in Heaven, what's the good of talking 


to you ? If you take me for a liar, you take 
me — that's all. Do you think I care a curse 
for your opinion ? . . . But one thing's cer- 
tain — you'll do what I tell you, and you'll 
work. Work, do you hear ? — not sit in a 
lump and idle and stare while I wait on you ! 
Learn to use your silly hands, not expect me 
to light the fire and feed you. And you'll 
obey, I tell you — you'll do what you're told. 
If not— I'll teach you . . ." 

He was wearied, thwarted, wet through and 
unfed since the morning ; baulked of fire and 
a meal by the folly that had irked him for 
days ; a man living primitively, in contact 
with nature and brought face to face with the 
workings of the law of the strongest. It 
chanced that she had lumped herself down by 
the bundle of osier-rods he had laid together 
for his basket-making ; so that when he 
gripped her by the nape of the neck a weapon 
lay ready to his hand. He used it effectively, 
while she wriggled, plunged and howled ; 
there was nothing of the Spartan in her tem- 
perament, and each swooping stroke produced 
a yell. He counted a dozen and then dropped 
her, leaving her to rub and bemoan her smarts 
while he rilled the cookpot at the stream. 

When he came back with the cookpot filled, 


her noisy blubbering had died into gulps and 
snuffles. The heat of his anger was likewise 
over, having worked itself off by the mere act 
of chastisement, and with its cooling he was 
conscious of a certain embarrassment. If he 
did not repent he was at least uneasy — not 
sure how to treat her and speak to her — and he 
covered his uneasiness, as best he might, by a 
busy scraping and cleaning of fish and a noisy 
snapping of firewood. ... A wiser woman 
might have guessed his embarrassment from 
his bearing and movements and known how 
to wrest an advantage by transforming it into 
remorse ; Ada, sitting huddled and smarting 
on her moss-bed, found no more effective pro- 
test against ill-treatment than a series of un- 
becoming sniffs. With every silent moment 
his position grew stronger, hers weaker ; un- 
consciously he sensed her acquiescence in the 
new and brutal relation, and when — over his 
shoulder — he bade her " Come along, if you 
want any supper," he knew, without looking, 
that she would come at his word, take the 
food that he gave her and eat. 

They discussed the subject once and very 
briefly — at the latter end of a meal consumed 
in silence. A full stomach gives courage and 


confidence ; and Ada, having supped and 
been heartened, tried a sulky " You've been 
very crool to me." 

In answer, she was lold, "You deserved it." 

After this unpromising beginning it took 
her two or three minutes to decide on her next 

"I believe," she quavered tearfully, "you've 
taken the skin off my back." 

"Nonsense!" he said curtly. Which was 

The episode marked his acceptance of a new 
standard, his definite abandonment of the code 
of civilization in dealings between woman and 
man. With another wife than Ada the lapse 
into primitive relations would have been less 
swift and certainly far less complete ; she was 
so plainly his mental inferior, so plainly 
amenable to the argument of force and no 
other, that she facilitated his conversion to the 
barbaric doctrine of marriage. And his con- 
version was the more thorough and lasting 
from the success of his uncivilized methods of 
ruling a household ; where reasoning and 
kindliness had failed of their purpose, the 
sting of the rod had worked wonders. . . . 

Ada sulked through the evening and sniffed 


herself to sleep ; but in Ihe morning, when he 
woke, she had filled the cookpot and was 
busied at the breakfast fire. 

They had adapted themselves to their 
environment, the environment of primitive 
humanity. That morning when he started 
for his snaring he started alone ; Ada stayed, 
without remonstrance, to dry moss, collect 
firewood and perform the small duties of the 


It was a solid fact that from the day of her 
subjection to the rod and rule of her overlord, 
Ada found life more bearable ; and watching 
her, at first in puzzlement, Theodore came by 
degrees to understand the reason for the 
change in her which was induced — so it 
seemed — by the threat and magic of an osier- 
wand. In the end he realized that the funda- 
mental cause of her sodden, stupid wretched- 
ness had been lack of effective interest — and 
that in finding an interest, however humble, 
she had found herself a place in the world. 
Her interest, in the beginning, was nothing 
more exalted than the will to avoid a second 
switching ; but, undignified as it was in its 
origin, it implied a stimulus to action which 
had hitherto been wanting, and a process of 
adaptation to the new relationship between 
herself and her man. By accepting him as 
master, with the right unquestioned of reward 
and punishment, she had provided herself with 



that object in life to which she had been unable 
to attain by the light of her own mentality. 

With an eye on the osier-heap she worked 
that she might please and, finding occupation, 
brooded less ; learning imperceptibly to look- 
on the new world primitive as a reality whose 
hardships could be mitigated by effort," instead 
of an impossible nightmare. As she wrestled 
with present difficulties— the daily tasks she 
dared no longer neglect— the trams, shop- 
windows and chiffons of the past receded on 
her mental horizon. Not, fundamentally, 
that they were any less dear to her ; but the 
need of placating an overlord at hand took up 
part of her thoughts and time. Too slothful, 
both in mind and in body, to acquire of her 
own intelligence and initiative the changed 
habits demanded by her changedsurroundings, 
she was unconsciously relieved — because in- 
stantly more comfortable— when the neces- 
sary habits were forced on her. 

With the allotment of her duties and the 
tacit definition of her status that followed on 
the night of her chastisement, their life on the 
whole became easier, better regulated ; and 
the mere fact of their frequent separation 
during part of the day made their coming 
together more pleasant. Companionship in 


any but the material sense it was out of her 
power to offer ; but she could give her man a 
welcome at the end of the day and take lighter 
work off his hands. Her cooking was always 
a matter of guesswork and to the last she was 
stupid, unresourceful and clumsy with her 
fingers ; but she fetched and carried, washed 
pots and garments in the stream, was hewer 
of wood and drawer of water and kept their 
camp clean and in order. In time she even 
learned to take a certain amount of pleasure 
in the due fulfilment of her task-work ; when 
Theodore, having discovered a Spanish chest- 
nut-tree not far from their dwelling, set her 
the job of storing nuts against the winter, she 
pointed with pride in the evening to the size 
of the heap she had collected. 

Now that she was admittedly his underling, 
subdued to his authority, he found it infinitely 
easier to be patient with her many blunders ; 
and though there were still moments when her 
brainlessness and limitations galled him to 
anger, on the whole he grew fonder of her — 
with a patronizing, kindly affection. He 
still cherished his plans of exploration un- 
hampered by her company but, from pity for 
the fears she no longer dared to talk of, re- 
frained from present mention thereof ; while 


the nights were long and dark it would be cruel 
to leave her, and by the time spring came 
round again she might have grown less fearful 
of solitude. . . . Or, before spring came, the 
world might make a sign and plans of explora- 
tion be needless. 

Meanwhile, resigning himself to his daily 
and solitary round, he worked hard and 
anxiously to provision his household for a 
second winter of loneliness. 

It was when the days were nearly at their 
shortest that the round and tenor of his life 
was broken by the shock of a disturbing know- 
ledge. Trudging homewards toward sunset 
on a mild December evening, he came upon his 
wife sitting groaning in the path ; she had 
been on her way to the stream for water when 
a paroxysm of sickness overtook her. Since 
the days of starvation he had never seen her 
ill and the violence of the paroxysm frightened 
him ; when it was over and she leaned on him 
exhausted as he led her back to their camping- 
place, he questioned her anxiously as to what 
had upset her — had she pain, had she eaten 
anything unwholesome or unusual ? She 
shook her head silently in answer to his queries 
till he sat her down by the fire ; then, as he 


knelt beside her, stirring the logs into a blaze, 
she caught his arm suddenly and pressed her 
face tightly against it. 
" Ow, Theodore, I'm going to 'ave a baiby!" 
" What ? " he said. " What ? "—and 
stared at her, his mouth wide open. . . . 
Perhaps she was hurt or disappointed at his 
manner of taking the news ; at any rate she 
burst into floods of noisy weeping, rocking 
herself backwards and forwards and hiding 
her face in her hands. He did his best to 
soothe her, stroking her hair and encircling 
her shoulders with an arm ; seeking vainly for 
the words that would stay her tears, for some- 
thing that would hearten and uplift her. He 
supposed she was frightened — more frightened 
even than he was ; his first bewildered 
thought, when he heard the news, had been 
' What, in God's name, shall we do ? ' 

He drew her head to his shoulder, muttering 
" There, there," as one would to a child, till her 
noisy demonstrative sobbing died down to an 
intermittent whimper ; and when she was 
quieted she volunteered an answer to the 
question his mind had been forming. She 
thought it would be somewhere about five 
months — but it mightn't be so long, she 
couldn't be sure. She didn't know enough 


about it to be sure — how could she, seeing as it 
was her first ? . . . She had been afraid for 
ever so long now — weeks and weeks — but 
she'd gone on hoping and that was why she 
hadn't said anything about it before. Now 
there wasn't any doubt — she wondered he 
hadn't seen for himself . . . and she clung to 
him again with another burst of noisy weeping. 

" But," he ventured uncertainly, reaching 
out after comfort, " when it's over — and 
there's the baby — you'll be glad, won't you ? " 

His appeal to the maternal instinct had no 
immediate success. Ada protested with yet 
noisier crying that she was bound to die when 
the baby came, so how could she possibly be 
glad ? It was all very well for him to talk 
like that — he didn't have to go through it ! 
Lots of women died, even when they had proper 
'orspitals and doctors and nurses. . . . 

He listened helplessly, not knowing how to 
take her ; until, common sense coming to his 
aid, he fell back on the certainty that ex- 
hausting, hysterical weeping could by no 
possibility be good for her, rebuked her with 
authority for upsetting herself and insisted on 
immediate self-control. It was well for them 
both that wifely obedience was already a 
habit with Ada ; by the change in his tone 


she recognized an order, pulled herself to- 
gether, rubbed her swollen eyes and even made 
an effort to help with the preparing of supper 
— whining a little, now and again, but checking 
the whine before it had risen to a wail. 

She was manifestly cheered by a bowlful 
of hot stew — whereof, though she pushed it 
away at first, she finished by eating sufficiently ; 
and, once convinced that the outburst of 
emotion was over, he petted her, though not 
too sympathetically, lest he stirred her again 
to self-pity. She was not particularly respon- 
sive to his hesitating suggestions anent the 
coming joys of maternity ; more successful 
in raising her spirits were his actual encourag- 
ing pats and caresses, his assumption of confi- 
dence greater than he felt in the neighbour- 
hood of men and women whose hands were 
not turned against their fellows. ... He 
realized that, as the suspicion of her mother- 
hood grew to a certainty, she had spent long, 
lonely hours oppressed by sheer physical 
terror ; and he reproached himself for having 
been carelessly unobservant of a suffering that 
should long ere this have been plain to him. 

He was longing to be alone and to think 
undistracted ; it was a relief to him therefore 
when, warmed, fed, and exhausted by her 


crying, she began to nod against his shoulder. 
He insisted jestingly on immediate bed, patted 
and pulled at her moss-couch before she lay 
down, kissed her — whereupon she again cried 
a little — and sat beside her, listening, till her 
breathing was even and regular. Once sure 
that she slept, he crept back to the fire to sit 
with his chin on his hands ; outside was the 
silence of a still December night, where the 
only sound was the rush of water and the hiss 
and snap of burning logs. 

With his elbows on his knees and his chin on 
his hands, he stared into the fire and the 
future . . . wondering why it had come as a 
shock to him — this natural, this almost inevit- 
able consequence of the life he shared with a 
woman ? He found no immediate answer to 
the question ; understanding only that the 
animal and unreflecting need which had 
driven them into each other's arms had 
coloured their whole sex-relation. They had 
lived like the animal, without any thought of 
the future. . . . Now the civilized man in 
him demanded that his child should be born 
of something more than unreasoning lust of 
the flesh and there stirred in him a craving to 
reverence the mother of his son. . . . Ada, 


flaccid, lazy, infantile of mind, was more, for 
the moment, than her prosaic, incapable self. 
A rush of tenderness swept over him — for her 
and for the little insistent life which might, 
when its time came, have to struggle into 
being unaided. . . . 

With the thought returned the dread which 
had flashed into his mind when Ada revealed 
to him his fatherhood. If their life in hiding 
were destined to continue — if all men within 
reach were as those they had fled from, there 
would come the moment when — he should 
not know what to do ! ... He remembered, 
years ago, in the rooms of a friend, a medical 
student, how, with prurient youthful curiosity, 
he had picked up a textbook on midwifery — 
and sought feverishly to recall what he had 
read as he fluttered its pages and eyed its 
startling illustrations. 

As had happened sometimes in the first days 
of loneliness, the immensity of the world 
overwhelmed him ; he sat crouched by his 
fire, an insect of a man, surrounded by unend- 
ing distances. An insect of a man, a pigmy, 
whom nature in her vastness ignored ; yet, for 
all his insignificance, the guardian of life, the 
keeper of a woman and her child. . . . They 
would look to him for sustenance, for guidance 


and protection ; and he, the little man, would 
fend for them — his mate and his young. . . . 
Of a sudden he knew himself close kin to the 
bird and beast ; to the buck-rabbit diving to 
the burrow where his doe lay cuddled with her 
soft blind babies ; to the round-eyed black- 
bird with a beakful gathered for the nest. . . . 
The loving, anxious, protective life of the 
winged and furry little fathers — its uncon- 
scious sacrifice brought a lump to his throat 
and the world was less alien and dreadful 
because peopled with his brethren — the guar- 
dians of their mates and their young. 


It was clear to him, so soon as he knew of his 
coming fatherhood, that, in spite of the draw- 
backs of winter travelling, his long-deferred 
journey of exploration must be undertaken 
at once ; the companionship of men, and 
above all of women, was a necessity to be 
sought at the risk of any peril or hardship. 
Hence — with misgiving — he broached the sub- 
ject to Ada next morning ; and in the end, 
with smaller opposition than he had looked 
for, her lesser fears were mastered by her 
greater. That the certain future danger of 
unaided childbirth might be spared her, she 
consented to the present misery of days and 
nights of solitude ; and together they made 
preparations for his voyage of discovery in 
the outside world and her lonely sojourn in the 

As he had expected, her first suggestion had 
been that they should break camp and journey 
forth together ; but he had argued her firmly 
out of the idea, insisting less on the possible 


dangers of his journey — which he strove, 
rather, to disguise from her — than on her own 
manifest unfitness for exertion and exposure 
to December weather. Once more the habit 
of wifely obedience came to his assistance and 
her own, and she bowed to her overlord's de- 
cision — if tearfully, without temper or sullen- 
ness ; while, the decision once taken, it was 
he, and not Ada, who lay wakeful through the 
night and conjured up visions of possible 
disaster in his absence. His imagination was 
quickened by the new, strange knowledge of 
his responsibility, the protective sense it had 
awakened ; and, lying wide awake in the still 
of the night, it was not only possible danger to 
Ada that he dreaded — he was suddenly afraid 
for himself. If misfortune befell him on his 
journey into the unknown, it would be more 
than his own misfortune ; on his strength, his 
luck and well-being depended the life of his 
woman and her unborn child. If evil befell 
him and he never came back to them — if he 
left his bones in the beyond. ... At the 
thought the sweat broke out on his face and 
he started up shivering on his moss-bed. 

He worked through the day at preparations 
for the morning's departure which, if simple, 
demanded thought and time ; saw that 


plentiful provision of food and dry fuel lay 
ready to his wife's hand, so that small exertion 
would be needed for the making of fire and 
meal. For his own provisioning he filled a 
bag with cooked fish, chestnuts and the like — 
store enough to keep him with care for five or 
six days. All was made ready by nightfall 
for an early start on the morrow ; and he was 
awake and afoot with the first reddening of a 
dull December morning. Fearing a break- 
down from Ada at the last moment, he had 
planned to leave her still asleep ; but the 
crackling of a log he had thrown on the embers 
roused her and she sat up, pushing the tum- 
bled brown hair from her eyes. 

" You're go wing ? " she asked with a catch 
in her voice ; and he avoided her eye as he 
nodded back " Yes," and slung his bag over 
his shoulder. 

" Just off," he told her with blatant cheeri- 
ness. " Take care of yourself and have a good 
breakfast. There's water in the cookpot — 
and mind you look after the fire. I've put 
you plenty of logs handy — more than you'll 
want till I come back. Good-bye ! " 

" You might say good-bye properly," she 
whimpered after him. 

He affected not to hear and strode away 


whistling ; he had purposely tried to make the 
parting as careless and unemotional as his 
daily going forth to work. Purposely, there- 
fore, he did not look back until he was too far 
away to see her face ; it was only when the 
trees were about to hide him that he turned, 
waved and shouted and saw her lift an arm in 
reply. She did not shout back — he guessed 
that she could not — and when the trees hid 
him he ran for a space, lest the temptation to 
follow and call him back should master her. 

He had planned out his journey often 
enough during the last few months ; consider- 
ing the drift of the river and lie of the country 
and attempting to reduce them to map-form 
on the soil by the aid of a pointed stick. His 
idea was to make, in the first place, for the 
silent village which had hitherto been the 
limit of his voyaging ; and thence to follow 
the road beside the river which in time, very 
surely, must bring him to the haunts of men. 
Somewhere on the banks of the river — beyond 
the tract of devastated ground — must dwell 
those who drank from its waters and fished in 
them ; who perhaps — now the night of des- 
truction was over and humanity had ceased 
to tear at and prey upon itself — were rebuild- 
ing their civilization and salving their treasures 


from ruin ! . . . The air, crisp and frosty, 
set him walking eagerly, and as his body glowed 
from the swiftness of his pace a pleasurable 
excitement took hold of him ; his sweating 
fears of the night were forgotten and his brain 
worked keenly, adventurously. Somewhere, 
and not far, were men like unto himself, 
beginning their life and their world anew in 
communities reviving and hopeful. Even, it 
might be — (he began to dream dreams) — 
communities comparatively unscathed ; with 
homes and lands unpoisoned, unshattered, 
living ordered and orderly lives ! . . . Some 
such communities the devils of destruction 
must have spared ... if a turn in the valley 
should reveal to him suddenly a town like the 
old towns, with men going out and in ! 

He quickened his pace at the thought and 
the miles went under him happily. He was 
no longer alone ; even when he entered the 
long waste of coarse grass and blackened tree 
that lay around the dead village its dreariness 
was peopled with his vivid and hopeful imagin- 
ings ... of a crowd that hustled to hear 
his story, that questioned and welcomed and 
was friendly — and led him to a house that was 
furnished and whole . . . where were books 
and good comfort and talk. . . . 


So, in pleasant company, he trudged until 
well after midday ; when, perhaps discouraged 
by the beginnings of bodily weariness, perhaps 
affected by the sight of the stark village street 
— his unreasonable hopefulness passed and 
anxiety returned. He grew conscious, sud- 
denly and acutely, of his actual surroundings ; 
of silence, of the waste he had trodden, of the 
desolation about him, of the unknown lone- 
liness ahead. That above all — the indefin- 
ite, on-stretching loneliness. ... He hurried 
through the dumb street nervously, listening 
to his own footsteps — the beat and the crunch 
of them on a frozen road, their echo against 
deserted walls ; and at the end of the village 
he turned with relief into the road he had 
marked on his previous visit, the road that 
turned to run by the stream a few yards be- 
yond the bridge. It wound dismally into a 
scorched little wood — not one live shoot in it, 
a cemetery of poisoned trees ; then on, still 
keeping fairly close to the stream, through the 
same long waste patched with grass and spread- 
ing weed. The road, though it narrowed and 
was overgrown and crumbling in places, was 
easy enough to follow for the first few hours, but 
he sought in vain for traces of its recent use. 
There was no sign of man or the works of man 


in use ; the only token of his presence were, 
now and again, a fire-blackened cottage, a 
jumble of rusted, twisted ironwork or a skele- 
ton with rank grass thrusting through the 
whitened ribs. When the river rounded a 
turn in the hills, the prospect before him was 
even as the prospect behind ; a waste and 
silence where corn had once grown and cattle 

As the day wore on the heavy silence was 
irksome and more than irksome. It was 
broken only by the sound of his footsteps, the 
whisper of grass in a faint little wind and now 
and again — more rarely — by the chirp and 
flutter of a bird. Long before dusk he began 
to fear the night, to think, with something like 
craving, of the shelter and the fire and the 
woman beside it — that was home ; the thought 
of hours of darkness spent alone amongst the 
whitened bones of men and the blackened 
carcases of trees loomed before him as a grow- 
ing threat. He pushed on doggedly, refusing 
himself the spell of rest he needed, in the hope 
that when night came down on him he might 
have left the drear wilderness behind. 

It was a hope doomed to disappointment ; 
the fall of the early December evening found 
him still in the unending waste, and when the 


dusk thickened into darkness he camped, 
perforce, near the edge of the river in the lee of 
a broken wall. The branches of a dead tree 
near by afforded him fuel for the fire that he 
kindled with difficulty with the aid of a rough 
contrivance of flint and steel ; and as he 
crouched by the blaze and ate his evening 
ration he scanned the night sky with anxious 
and observant eyes. So far the weather had 
been clear and dry, but he realized the peril 
of a break in it, of a snowstorm in shelterless 
country. ... If to-morrow were only as 
to-day — if the waste stretched on without 
trace of man or sign of ending — what then ? 
Would it be wise or safe to push on for yet 
another day — leaving home yet further behind 
him ? For the journey back the waste must 
be recrossed, in whatever weather the winter 
pleased to send him ; traversed by day and 
camped on by night, in hail, in rain, in snow. 
. . . The thought gave him pause since ex- 
posure might well mean death — and to more 
than himself. 

He slept little and brokenly, rousing at 
intervals with a shiver as the fire died down for 
want of tendance ; and was on his feet with 
the first grey of morning, trudging forward 
with fear at his heels. It was a fear that 


pressed close on them with the passing of long 
lonely hours ; still wintry hours wherethrough 
he strained his eyes for a curl of smoke or a 
movement on the outspread landscape. . . . 
The day was yesterday over again ; the same 
pale sky, the dull swollen river that led him on, 
and the endless waste of shallow valley ; and 
when night came down again he knew only 
this — a clump of hills that had been distant 
was nearer, and he was a day's tramp further on 
his way. He settled at sundown in a copse of 
withered trees which afforded him plentiful 
firing if little else in the way of shelter from the 
night ; and having kindled a blaze he warmed 
his food, ate and slept — too weary to lie awake 
and brood. 

He had not slept long — for the logs still 
glowed redly and flickered — when he started 
into wakefulness that was instant, complete 
and alert. Something — he knew it — had 
stirred in the silence and roused him ; he sat 
up, peered round and listened with the watch- 
ful terror instinctive in the hunted, be the 
hunted beast or man. For a moment he 
peered round, seeing nothing, hearing nothing 
but the whisper of the fire and the beating of 
his own heart . . . then, in the blackness, 


two points caught the firelight— eyes ! . . . 
Eyes unmistakable, that glowed and were 
fixed on him. . . . 

He stiffened and stared at them, open- 
mouthed ; then, as a sudden flicker of the 
dying flame showed the outline of a bearded 
human face, he choked out something inarti- 
culate and made to scramble to his feet. 
Swift as was the movement he was still on a 
knee when someone from behind leaped on him 
and pinned both arms to his sides. ... As 
he wrestled instinctively other hands grasped 
him ; he was the held and helpless captive of 
three or four who clutched him by throat, 
wrist and shoulder. . . . 
By that token he was back among men. 


When the} 7 had him down and helpless at 
their feet, a dry branch was thrust into the 
embers and, as it flamed, held aloft that the 
light might fall upon his face. To him it 
revealed the half-dozen faces that looked down 
at him — weatherworn, hairy and browned 
with dirt, the eyes, for the moment, aglow 
with the pleasure of the hunter who has 
tracked and snared his prey. They held their 
prey and gazed at it, as they would have gazed 
at and measured a beast they had roped into 
helplessness. Satisfaction at the capture 
shone in their faces ; the natural and grim 
satisfaction of him who has met and mastered 
his natural enemy. . . . That, for the moment, 
was all ; they had met with a man and over- 
come him. Curiosity, even, would come later. 
Theodore, after his first instinctive lunge 
and struggle, lay motionless — flaccid and 
beaten ; understanding in a flash that was 
agony that men were still what they had been 
when he fled from them into the wilderness — 



beast-men who stalked and tore eacli other. 
In the torchlight the dirty, coarse faces were 
savage and animal ; the eyes that glowered 
down at him had the staring intentness of the 
animal. ... He expected death from a blow 
or a knife-thrust, and closed his eyes that he 
might not see it coming ; and instead saw, as 
plainly as with bodily eyes, a vision of Ada 
by the camp fire, sitting hunched and listening 
for his footstep. Listening for it, staring at 
the dreadful darkness — through night after 
dreadful night. ... In a torment of pity for 
his mate and her child he stammered an appeal 
for his life. 

" For God's sake — I wasn't doing any harm. 
If you'll only listen — my wife ... All that 
I want . . ." 

If they were moved they did not show it, and 
it may be they were not moved — having lived, 
themselves, through so much of misery and 
bodily terror that they had ceased to respond 
to its familiar workings in others. Fear and 
the expression of fear to them were usual and 
normal, and they listened undisturbed while 
he tried to stammer out his pleading. Not 
only undisturbed but apparently uninterested; 
while he spoke one was twisting the knife from 
his belt and another taking stock of the con- 


tents of his food-bag ; and he had only gasped 
out a broken sentence or two when the holder 
of the torch — as it seemed the leader — cut him 
short with " Are you alone ? " . . . Once 
satisfied on that head he listened no more, but 
dropped the torch back on to the fire and 
kicked apart the dying embers. The action 
was apparently a sign to move on ; the hands 
that gripped Theodore dragged him to his feet 
and urged him forward ; and, with a captor 
holding to either arm, he stumbled out of the 
clump of stark trees into the open desert — 
now whitened by a moon at the full. 

There was little enough talk amongst his 
captors as, for more than two hours, they 
thrust and guided him along ; such muttered 
talk as there was, was not addressed to their 
prisoner and he judged it best to be silent. It 
was — so he guessed — the red shine of his fire 
that had drawn attention to his presence ; and, 
the fear of instant death removed, he drew 
courage from the thought that the men who 
held and hurried him must be dwellers in some 
near-by village. Once he had reached it and 
been given opportunity to tell his story and 
explain his presence, they would cease to hold 
him in suspicion — so he comforted himself as 
they strode through the wilderness in silence. 


After an hour of steady tramping they 
turned inland sharply from the river till a mile 
or so brought them to broken, rising ground 
and a smaller stream babbling from the hills. 
They followed its course, for the most part 
steadily uphill, and, at the end of another mile, 
the scorched black stumps gave place to trees 
uninjured— spruce firs in their solemn foliage 
and oaks with their tracery of twigs. A 
copse, then a stretch of short turf and the 
spring of heather underfoot ; then down, to 
more trees growing thickly in a hollow— and 
through them a glow that was lire. Then 
figures that moved, silhouetted, in and out of 
the glow and across it ; an open space in the 
midst of the trees and hut-shapes, half-seen 
and half-guessed at, in the mingling of flicker 
and deep shadow. ... Out of the darkness 
a dog yapped his warning— then another— 
and at the sound Theodore thrilled and qui- 
vered as at a voice from another world. Now 
and again, while he lived in his wilderness, he 
had heard the sharp and familiar yelp of some 
masterless dog, run wild and hunting for his 
food ; but the dog that lived with man and 
guarded him was an adjunct of civilization ! 

The warning had roused the little com- 
munity before the newcomers emerged from 


the shadow of the trees ; and as they entered 
the clearing and were visible, men hurried 
towards them, shouting questions. Theodore 
found himself the centre of a staring, hustling 
group — which urged him to the fire that it 
might see him the better, which questioned 
his guards while it stared at him. . . . Here, 
too, was the strange aloofness that refrained 
from direct address ; he was gazed at, stolidly 
or eagerly, taken stock of as if he were a beast, 
and his guards explained how and where they 
had found him, as if he himself were incapable 
of speech, as they might have spoken of the 
finding of a dog that had strayed from its 
owner. Perhaps it was uneasiness that held 
him silent, or perhaps he adapted himself 
unconsciously to the general attitude ; at 
any rate — as he remembered afterwards — he 
made no effort to speak. 

The men and women who crowded round 
him, staring and murmuring, were in number, 
perhaps, between thirty and forty ; women 
with matted hair straggling and men unshorn, 
their garments, like his own, a patchwork of 
oddments and all of them uncouth and un- 
clean. One woman, he noted, had a child at 
her half-naked breast ; a dirty little nursling 
but a few months old, its downy pate crusted 


with scabs. He stared at it, wondering as to 
the manner of its birth — the mother returning 
his scrutiny with open-mouthed interest until 
shouldered aside without ceremony by a man 
whom Theodore recognized for the leader of 
his band of captors. When they reached the 
shadow of the clump of trees he had stridden 
ahead and vanished, presumably to report and 
seek orders from some higher authority ; and 
now, at a word from him, Theodore was again 
jerked forward by his guards and, with the 
crowd breaking and tailing behind him, was led 
some fifty or sixty yards further to where, on 
the edge of the clump of trees, stood a building, 
a tumbledown cottage. The moon without 
and a fire within showed broken panes stuffed 
with moss and a thatched roof falling to decay; 
inside the atmosphere was foul and stale, and 
heavy with the heat of a blazing wood fire 
which alone gave light to the room. 

By the fire, seated on a backless kitchen 
chair, sat a man, grey of head and bent of 
shoulder ; but even in the firelight his eyes 
were keen and steely — large bright-blue eyes 
that shone under thick grey eyebrows. His 
face, with its bright, stubborn eyes and tight 
mouth, was — for all its dirt — the face of a 
man who gave orders ; and it did not escape 


the prisoner that the others — the crowd that 
was thrusting and packing itself into the room 
— were one and all silent till he spoke. 

" Come nearer," he said — and on the word, 
Theodore was pushed close to him. " Let 
him go " — and Theodore was loosed. Some- 
one, at a sign, lit a stick from the heap beside 
the fire and held it aloft ; and for a moment, 
till it flared itself out, there was silence, while 
the old man peered at the stranger. With the 
sudden light the hustling and jostling ceased, 
and the crowd, like Theodore, waited on the 
old man's words. 

" Tell me," at last came the order, " what 
you were doing here. Tell me everything " — 
and he lifted a dirty lean finger like a threat — 
" what you were doing on our land, where you 
came from, what you want ? . . . and speak 
the truth or it will be the worse for you." 

Theodore told him ; while the steel-blue 
eyes searched his face as well as they might in 
the semi-darkness and the half-seen crowd 
stood mute. He told of his life as it had been 
lived with Ada ; of their complete separation 
from their fellows for the space of nearly two 
years ; of the coming of the child and the 
consequent need of help for his wife — con- 
scious, all the time, not only of the question- 


ing, unshrinking eyes of his judge but of the 
other eyes that watched him suspiciously from 
the corners and shadows of the room. Two or 
three times he faltered in his telling, oppressed 
by the long, steady silence ; for throughout 
there was no comment, no word of interest or 
encouragement — only once, when he paused 
in the hope of encouragement, the old man 
ordered " Go on ! " . . . He went on, striving 
to steady his voice and pleading against he 
knew not what of hostility, suspicion and fear. 

"... And so," he ended uncertainly, 
" they found me. I wasn't doing any harm. 
... I suppose they saw my fire ? . . ." 

From someone in the darkness behind him 
came a grunt that might indicate assent — 
then, again, there was silence that lasted. . . . 
The dumb, heavy threat of it was suddenly 
intolerable and Theodore broke it with vehe- 

" For God's sake tell me what you're going 
to do ! It's not much I ask and it's not for 
myself I ask it. If you can't help me your- 
selves there must be other people who can — 
tell me where I am and where I ought to go. 
My wife — she must have help." 

There was no actual response to his outburst, 
but some of the half-seen figures stirred and he 


heard a muttering in the shadow that he took 

for the voices of women. 

" Tell me where I am," he repeated, " and 
where I can go for help." 

It was the first question only that was 

" You are on our land." 

" Your land — but where is it ? In what part 
of England? " 

" I don't know," said the old man and 
shrugged his lean shoulders. " But you 
haven't any right on it. It's ours." 

He pushed back his chair and stood up to 
his full, tall height ; then, raising his hand, 
addressed the assembly of his followers. 

" You have all of you heard what he said 
and know what he wants. Now let me hear 
what you think. Say it out loud and not in 
each other's ears." 

He dropped his arm and stood waiting a 
reply — and after a moment one came from the 
back of the room. 

" It's winter," said a man's voice, half- 
sulky, half-defiant, "and we've hardly enough 
left for ourselves. We don't want any more 
mouths here — we've more than we can fill as 
it is." A murmur of agreement encouraged 
him and he went on— louder and pushing 


through the crowd as he spoke. " We fend 
for our own and he must fend for his. He 
ought to think himself lucky if we let him go 
after we've taken him on our land. What 
business had he there ? " 

This time the murmur of agreement was 
stronger and a second voice called over it : 

" If we catch him here again he won't get 
off so easily ! " 

The assent that followed was more than 
assent ; applause that swelled and grew 
almost clamorous. The old man stilled it 
with a lifting of his knotted hand. 

"Then you won't have him here? You 
don't want him ? " 

The " No " in answer was vigorous ; re- 
fusal, it seemed, was unanimous. Theodore 
tried to speak, to explain that all he asked 
. . . but again the knotted hand was lifted. 

" And are you — for letting him go ? " 

The words dropped out slowly and were 
followed by a hush — significant as the ques- 
tion itself. . . . This much was clear to the 
listener : that behind them lay a fear and a 
threat. The nature of the threat could be 
guessed at — since they would not keep him 
and dared not let him go ; but where and what 
was the motive for the fear that had prompted 


the slow, sly question and the uneasy silence 
that followed it ? ... He heard his own 
heart -beats in the long uneasy silence — while 
he sought in vain for the reason of their dread 
of one man and tried in vain to find words. 
It seemed minutes — long minutes — and not 
seconds till a voice made answer from the 
shadows : 

"Not if it isn't safe." 

And at the words, as a signal, came voices 
from this side and that — speech hurried, ex- 
cited and tumultuous. It wasn't safe — what 
did they know of him and how could they 
prove his story true ? He might be a spy — 
now he knew where to find them, knew they 
had food, he might come back and bring others 
with him ! When he tried to speak the voices 
grew louder, overshouted him — and one man 
at his side, gesticulating wildly, cried out that 
they would be mad to let him go, since they 
could not tell how much he knew. The phrase 
was taken up, as it seemed in panic — by man 
after man and woman after woman — they 
could not tell how much he knew ! They 
pressed nearer as they shouted, their faces 
closing in on him — spitting, working mouths 
and angry eyes. They were handling him 
almost ; and when once they handled him — 


he knew it— the end would be sure and swift. 
He dared not move, lest fingers went up to 
his throat. He dared not even cry out. 

It was the old man who saved him with 
another call for silence. Not out of mercy — 
there was small mercy in the lined, dirty face 
— but because, it seemed, there was yet 
another point to be considered. 

" If they came again " — he jerked his head 
towards the open — " we should be a man the 
stronger. Now they are stronger than we are 
— by nearly a dozen. ..." 

Apparently the argument had weight, for its 
hearers stood uncertain and arrested — and 
instinct bade Theodore seize on the moment 
they had given him. . . . What he said in 
the beginning he could not remember — how he 
caught their attention and held it — but when 
cooler consciousness returned to him they 
were listening while he bargained for his life. 
... He bargained and haggled for the right 
to live — offering goods and sweat and muscle 
in exchange for a place on the earth. He was 
strong and would work for them ; he could 
hunt and fish and dig ; he would earn by his 
labour every mouthful that fell to him, every 
mouthful that fell to his wife. . . . More, he 
had food of his own laid away for the winter 


months — dried fish and nuts and the store of 
fruit he had salved and hoarded from the 
autumn. These all could be fetched and 
shared if need be. . . . He bribed them while 
they haggled with their eyes. Let them come 
with him — any of them — and prove what he 
said ; he had more than enough — let them 
come with him. . . . When he stopped, ex- 
hausted and sobbing for breath, the extreme 
of the danger had passed. 

"If he has food," someone grunted — and 
Theodore, turning to the unseen speaker, cried 
out — " I swear I have ! I swear it ! " 

He hoped he had won ; and then knew 
himself in peril again when the man who had 
raised the cry before repeated doggedly that 
they could not tell how much he knew. . . . 

" Take him away," said the old man sud- 
denly. " You take him — you two " — and he 
pointed twice. " Keep him while we talk — 
till I send for you." 

At least it was reprieve and Theodore knew 
himself in safety, if only for a passing moment. 
For their own comfort, if not for his, his guards 
escorted him to the fire in the open, where they 
crouched down, stolid and watchful, Theodore 
between them — exhausted by emotion and 
flaccid both in body and mind. . . . There 


was a curious relief in the knowledge that he 
had shot his last bolt and could do nothing 
more to save himself ; that whatever befell 
him — release or swift death — was a happening 
beyond his control. No effort more was re- 
quired of him and all that he could do was to 

He waited dumbly, in the end almost 
drowsily, with his head bent forward on his 


After minutes, or hours, a hand was laid on 
his shoulder and shook it ; he raised his eyes 
stupidly, saw his guards already on their feet 
and with them a third man — sent, doubtless, 
with orders to summon them. He rose, know- 
ing that a decision had been made, one way 
or another, but still oddly numb and un- 
moved. . . . The two men with him thrust 
a way into the crowded little room, elbowing 
their fellows aside till they had pushed and 
dragged their charge to the neighbourhood of 
the fireplace and set him face to face with his 
judge. As they fell back a pace or two — as 
far as the crowding of the room allowed — 
someone again lit a branch at the fire and held 
it up that the light might fall upon the 

To Theodore the action brought with it a 
conviction that his sentence was death and 
his manner of receiving it a diversion for the 
eyes of the beholders. . . . The old man was 



waiting, intent, with his chin on his hand, 
that he might lengthen the diversion by 
lengthening the suspense of the prisoner. . . . 

When he spoke at last his words were a 
surprise — instead of a judgment, came a 

" What were you ? " he asked suddenly ; 
and, at the unexpected, irrelevant question, 
Theodore, still numb, hesitated — then re- 
peated mechanically, " What was I ? " 

" In the days before the Ruin — what were 
you ? What sort of work did you do ? How 
did you earn your living ? " 

He knew that, pointless as the question 
seemed, there was something that mattered 
behind it ; his face was being searched for the 
truth and the ring of listeners had ceased to 
jostle and were waiting in silence for the 

" I — I was a clerk," he stammered, be- 

" A clerk," the other repeated — as it seemed 
to Theodore suspiciously. "There were a 
great many different kinds of clerks — they 
did all sorts of things. What did you do ? " 

" I was a civil servant," Theodore explained. 
" A clerk in the Distribution Office — in White- 


" That means you wrote letters — did ac- 
counts ? " 

"Yes. Wrote letters, principally . . . and 
filed them. And drew up reports. ..." 

The question sent him back through the 
ages. In the eye of his mind he saw his 
daily office — the shelves, the rows of files, 
interminable files — and himself, neat-suited, 
clean-fingered, at his desk. Neat-suited, 
clean-fingered and idling through a short day's 
work ; with Cassidy's head at the desk by the 
window — and Birnbaum, the Jew boy, who 
always wore a buttonhole. ... He brought 
himself back with an effort, from then to 
now — from the seemly remembrance of the 
life bureaucratic to a crowd of evil-smelling 
savages. . . . 

"You were always that — just a clerk? 
You have never had any other way of earning 
a living ? " . . . And again he knew that the 
answer mattered, that his " No ! " was listened 
for intently. 

" You weren't ever an engineer ? " the old 
man persisted. " Or a scientific man of any 
kind? " 

" No," Theodore repeated, " I have never 
had anything to do with either engineering or 
science. When I left the University I went 


straight into the Distribution Office and I 
stayed there till the war." 

" University ! " The word (so it seemed to 
him) was snatched at. " You're a college 

" I was at Oxford," Theodore told him. 

" A college man — then they must have 
taught you science. They always taught it at 
colleges. Chemistry and that sort of thing — 
you know chemistry ? " 

In the crowd was a sudden thrill that was 
almost murmur ; and Theodore hesitated 
before he answered, his tongue grown dry in 
his mouth. . . . Were these people, these out- 
casts from civilization, hoping to find in him 
a guide and saviour who should lighten the 
burden of their barbarism by leading them 
back to the science which had once been a part 
of their daily life, but of which they had no 
practical knowledge ? ... If so, how far was 
it safe to lie to them ? and how far, having 
lied, could he disguise his dire ignorance of 
processes mechanical and chemical ? What 
would they hope from him, expect in the way 
of achievement and proof ? . . . Miracles, per- 
haps — sheer blank impossibilities. . . . 

" Science — they taught it you," the old man 
was reiterating, insisting. 


" Yes, they taught it me," he stammered, 
delaying his answer. " That is to say, I 
used to attend lectures. ..." 

"Then you know chemistry? Gases and 
how to make them ? . . . And machines — do 
you know about machines ? You could help 
us with machines — tell us how to make one? " 

The dirty old face peered up at him, wait- 
ing for his " Yes " ; and he knew the other 
faces that he could not see were peering from 
the shadow with the same odd, sinister eager- 
ness. All waiting, expectant. . . . The temp- 
tation to lie was overwhelming and what held 
him back was no scruple of conscience but the 
brute impossibility of making good his claim 
to a knowledge he did not possess. The utter 
ignorance betrayed by the form of the old 
man's speech — " You know chemistry — do 
you know about machines? " — would make no 
allowance for the difficulty of applying know- 
ledge and see no difference between theory 
and instant practice. ... In his hopelessness 
he gave them the truth and the truth only. 

" I have told you already I am not an 
engineer — I have never had any training in 
mechanics. As for chemistry — I had to attend 
lectures at school and college. But that was 
all — I never really studied it and I'm afraid 


I remember very little — almost nothing that 
would be of any practical use to you. ... I 
don't know what you want but, whatever it is, 
it would need some sort of apparatus — a 
chemist has to have his tools like other men. 
Even if I were a trained chemist I should need 
those — even if I were a trained chemist I 
couldn't separate gases with my bare hands. 
For that sort of thing you need a laboratory — 
a workshop — the proper appliances. . . . I'll 
work for you in any way that's possible — any 
way — but you mustn't expect impossibilities, 
chemistry and mechanics from a man who 
hasn't been trained in them. . . . And why 
should you expect me to do what you can't 
do yourselves — why should you ? Is it 
fair?. . . ." 

There was no immediate answer, but sud- 
denly he knew that the silence around him 
had ceased to be threatening and tense. The 
old man's eyes had left his own ; they were 
moving round the room and searching, as it 
seemed, for assent. . . . In the end they came 
back to Theodore — and judgment was given. 

" If you are what you say you are, we will 
take you ; but if you have lied to us and you 
know what is forbidden, we shall find you out 
sooner or later and, as sure as you stand there, 


we will kill you. If you are what you say you 
are — a plain man like us and without devil's 
knowledge — you may come to us and bring 
your woman, if she also is without devil's 
knowledge. That is, if you can feed her ; we 
have only enough for ourselves. And from 
this day forward you will be our man ; and 
to-morrow you will take the oath to be what 
we are and live as we do, and be our man 
against all our enemies and perils. Are you 
agreed to that ? " 

He was saved and Ada with him — so much 
he knew ; but as yet it was not clear what had 
saved him. He was to be their man — take an 
oath and be one with them — and there was the 
phrase " devil's knowledge," twice repeated. 
... He stared stupidly at the man who had 
granted his life — realizing that his ordeal was 
over only when the packed room emptied 
itself and the old man turned back to his fire. 


It was the phrase " devil's knowledge " that, 
when his first bewilderment was over, gave 
Theodore the clue to the meaning of the scene 
he had lived through and the outlook of those 
whose man he would become on the morrow. 
That and the sudden memory of Markham 
... on the crest of the centuries, on the night 
when the crest curled over . . . 

He was so far taken into tribal fellowship 
that he had ceased to be openly a prisoner ; 
but the two men who, for the rest of the night, 
shared with him the shelter of a lean-to hut, 
took care to bestow themselves between their 
guest and the entrance. He got little out of 
them in the way of enlightenment, for they 
were asleep almost as they flung themselves 
down on their moss ; but for hours, while they 
snored, Theodore lay open-eyed, piecing to- 
gether his fragmentary information of the 
world into which he had strayed. 

" Without devil's knowledge " — that, if he 
understood aright, was the qualification for 



admission to the life that had survived 
disaster. " Devil's knowledge " being — if he 
was not mad — the scientific, mechanical, 
engineering lore which was the everyday 
acquirement of thousands on thousands of 
ordinary civilized men. The everyday ac- 
quirements of ordinary men were anathema ; 
if he was not mad, his own life had been granted 
him for the reason only that he was unskilled 
and devoid of them. Ignorant, even as the 
men who spared him, of practical science and 
mechanics — a plain man, like unto them. . . . 
Ignorance was prized here, esteemed as a 
virtue — the old man's query, " You're a col- 
lege man ? " had been accusation disguised. 

In a flash it was clear to him, and he saw 
through the farce whereby he had been tested 
and tempted ; understood the motive that had 
prompted its cruel low cunning and all that 
the cunning implied of acceptance of bar- 
barism, insistence on it. . . . What these 
outcasts, these remnants of humanity feared 
above all things was a revival of the science, 
the mechanical powers, that had wrecked 
their cities, their houses and their lives and 
made them — what they were. ... In know- 
ledge was death and in ignorance alone was a 
measure of peace and security ; hence, fearing 


lest he was of those who knew too much, they 
had tempted him to confess to forbidden know- 
ledge, to boast of it — that, having boasted, 
they might kill him without mercy, make an 
end of his wits with his life. In the torments 
inflicted by science destructive they had 
turned upon science and renounced it ; and, 
that their terrors might not be renewed in the 
future, they were setting up against it an 
impassable barrier of ignorance. They had 
put devil's knowledge behind them — with 
intention for ever. ... If when they ques- 
tioned him and led him on, he had yielded to 
the natural impulse to lie, they would have 
knocked him on the head — like vermin — 
without scruple ; and the sweat broke out 
on him as he remembered how nearly he had 
lied. . . . 

He sat up, sweating and staring at darkness, 
and thrust back the hair from his forehead. 
... He was back among men — who, of set 
purpose and deliberately, had turned their 
faces from the knowledge their fathers had 
acquired by the patience and toil of genera- 
tions ! Who, of set purpose and deliberately, 
sought to filch from their children the heritage 
of the ages, the treasure of the mind of man ! 
. . . That was what it meant — the treasure of 


the mind of man ! Renunciation of all that 
long generations had striven for with patience 
and learning and devotion. . . . The impossi- 
bility and the treason of it — to know nothing, 
to forget all their fathers had won for them. 
... He remembered old talk of education as 
a birthright and the agitations of reformers 
and political parties. To this end. 

Who were they, he asked himself, these 
people who had made a decision so terrible — 
what manner of men in the old life ? Now 
they were seeking to live as the beasts live, 
and not only the world material had died to 
them, but the world of human aspiration. . . . 
To this they had come, these people who once 
were human — the beast in them had conquered 
the brain . . . and like fire there blazed into 
his brain the commandment : " Thou shalt 
not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge ! 
Thou shalt not eat . . . lest ye die." 

The command, the prohibition, had sud- 
denly a new significance. Was this, then, the 
purport of a legend hitherto meaningless ? 
Was this the truth behind the childish symbol ? 
The deadly truth that knowledge is power of 
destruction — power of destruction too great 
for the human, the fallible, to wield ? . . . 
Odd that he had never thought of it before — 


that, familiar all his life with a deadly truth, 
he had read it as primitive childishness ! 

"Of the Tree of the Knowledge of good 
and evil thou shalt not eat . . . lest ye 
die. . . ." 

He sat numbly repeating the words half 
aloud till there flashed into his brain a memory, 
a vision of Markham. In his room off Great 
Smith Street on the night when war was de- 
clared — talking rapidly with his mouth full of 
biscuit. " Only one thing I'm fairly certain 
about — I ought to have been strangled at 
birth. ... If the human animal must fight, it 
should kill off its scientific men. Stamp out 
the race of 'em!" . . . What was that but a 
paraphrase, a modern application of the com- 
mand laid upon Adam. " Of the Tree of the 
Knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not 
eat . . . lest ye die." 

To his first impulse — of amazement and 
shrinking, as from treason — succeeded under- 
standing of the outlook of these men and their 
decision. More, he wondered why, even in 
the worst of his despair, he had always believed 
in the persistence, the re-birth, of the civiliza- 
tion that had bred him. . . . These people — 
he saw it — were logical, as Markham had been 
logical — were wise after the event as Markham 


had been wise before it ; and it amazed him 
that in his porings and guessings at a world 
reviving he had never hit upon their simple 
solution of the eternal problem of war. Mark- 
ham's solution ; which, till this moment, he 
had not taken literally. ..." You can't 
combine the practice of science and the art 
of war ; in the end it's one or the other. We, 
I think, are going to prove that — very defi- 
nitely." One or the other. The fighting 
instinct or knowledge ! 

Man, because he fights, must deny himself 
knowledge — which is power over the forces 
of nature ; the secrets of nature must be 
veiled from him by his own ignorance — lest, 
when the impulse to strife wells up in him, 
they serve him for infinite destruction. These 
renegades, in agony, had made confession of 
their sin, of the corporate sin of a world ; 
had faced the brutality of their own nature ; 
had denied themselves the fruit of the Tree 
of Knowledge, and led themselves out of 
temptation. Since fight they must, being 
men with men's passions, they would limit 
their powers of destruction. ... So he read 
their strange self-denying ordinance. 

The thought led him on to wonder whether 
they were alone in their self-denying ordinance. 


. . . Surely not — unless they lived hidden, in 
complete isolation, out of contact with others 
of their kind. And obviously they did not 
live isolated ; they had spoken of others who 
were stronger, and of land that was theirs — 
implying a system of boundary and penalty 
for trespass and theft. Further, the phrase 
" against all enemies " indicated at least a 
possibility of the contact that was bloodshed 
— yet enemies who had not renounced the 
advantage of mechanical and scientific 
knowledge would be enemies who could 
overwhelm at the first encounter a com- 
munity fighting as barbarians. . . . What, 
then, was their relation to a world more 
civilized and communities that had not 
renounced ? . . . 

In the end, from sheer exhaustion, he ceased 
to surmise and argue with himself — and slept 
suddenly and heavily, huddling for warmth 
on his moss-bed against the body of his nearest 

It was a thrust from a foot that awakened 
him, and he crawled out shivering into the 
half-light of dawn and the chill of a frost- 
bitten morning ; the camp was alive and 
emerging from its shelters, the women already 


occupied in cooking the morning meal. Theo- 
dore and his guardians shared a bowl of steam- 
ing mess ; a mingling of potatoes, dried green- 
stuff and gobbets of meat which he guessed to 
be rat-flesh. They shared it wolfishly, each 
man eating fast lest his fellows had more than 
their portion ; the meal over, the bowl was 
flung back to the women for washing, and his 
gaolers — his mates now : — relaxed ; there was 
no further reason for unfriendliness and they 
were willing enough to be communicative, 
with the slow uncommunicativeness of men 
who have little but their daily round to talk 

They had neighbours, yes — at least what 
you might call neighbours ; there was a 
settlement, much the same size as their own, 
some three or four hours' journey away, on 
the other side of the river — that was the 
nearest, and the tribesmen met sometimes but 
not often. Being questioned, they explained 
that there was frequent trouble about fishing 
rights — where our stretch of river ended and 
theirs began ; trouble and, now and then, 
fighting. Yes, of course, they lived as we do 
—how else should they live ? . . . They were 
better off for shelter, having taken possession 
of a village— but we, in the hills, were much 


safer, not so easy to attack or surprise. 
No, they were not the only ones ; on this side 
the river, but farther away, was another settle- 
ment, a larger one ; there had been trouble 
with them, too, as they were very short of 
food and sent out raiding parties. They had 
fallen on the village across the water, carried 
off some of its winter stock and set light to 
three or four houses ; later— a month ago— 
they had fallen on us, less successfully 
because we were warned and on the look-out 
for them. . . . That was why we always 
have watchers at night— the watchers who 
saw your fire. . . . 

Even from a first halting conversation with 
men who found anything but sheer statement 
of fact s a difficulty, Theodore was able to con- 
struct in outline the common life of this new 
humanity, its politics, internal and external. 
The constitution of the tribe— the origin and 
keystone of the social system— had been, in 
the beginning, as much a matter of reckless 
chance as the mating of himself and Ada ; 
small wandering groups of men, who had come 
alive through the agony of war and famine, had 
been knit together by a common need or a 
terror of loneliness, and insensibly welded into 
a whole, an embryo community. It was a 


matter of chance, too, in the beginning whether 
the meeting with another little wandering 
group would result in bloodshed for the pos- 
session of food — sometimes for the possession 
of women — or a welcome and the joining up of 
forces ; but to the joining-up process there 
was always a limit — the limit of resources 
available. A tribe which desired to augment 
its strength as against its rivals was faced 
with the difficulty of filling many hungry 
mouths. . . . Their own community had once 
been faced with such a difficulty and had 
solved it by driving out three or four of its 
weaker members. 

" What became of them ? " asked Theodore, 
and was told no one knew. It was winter when 
food ran short and they were driven out — and 
some of them had come back after nightfall to 
the edge of the camp and cried to be allowed 
in again. Till the men ran out and drove them 
off with sticks and stone-throwing. After 
that they went and were no more seen. . . . 
Later, in the summer, there had broken out a 
sickness which again reduced their numbers. 
When the wind blew for long up the valley it 
brought a bad smell with it — and flies. That 
was what caused the sickness. There had 
been a great deal of it ; it was said that in a 


village lower down the river more than half 
the inhabitants had died. 

He surmised as he listened — and realized 
later — that it was the need of avoiding con- 
stant strife that had broken the nomadic habit 
and solidified the wandering and fluid groups 
into tribes with a settled dwelling-place. Until 
a limit was set to their wanderings, groups and 
single nomads drifted hither and thither in the 
search for food, snarling at each other when 
they met ; the end of sheer anarchy came with 
appropriation, by a particular group, of a 
stretch of country which gave some promise 
of supporting it. That entailed the institution 
of communal property, the setting up of a 
barrier against the incursions of others — a 
barrier which was also a limit beyond which 
the group must not trespass on the land and 
possessions of others. . . . Swiftly, insensibly 
and naturally, there was growing up a system 
of boundaries ; boundaries established, in the 
first place, by chance, by force or rough custom 
and defined later by meetings between head- 
men of villages. Within its boundaries each 
tribe or group existed as best it might, over- 
stepping its limits at its peril ; but disputing 
at intervals — as men have disputed since the 
world began — the precise terms of the agree- 


ment that defined its limits. And, agreements 
being verbal only, there were many occasions 
for dispute. 

As he questioned his new-made comrades 
and heard their answers, there died in Theo- 
dore's heart the hope that these people into 
whose midst he had stumbled — these people 
living like the beasts of the field — were but 
dwellers on the outskirts of a world reviving 
and civilized. Of men existing in any other 
fashion than their own he heard no mention, 
no rumour ; there was talk only of a camp 
here and a village there — where men fished 
and hunted and scratched the ground that 
they might find the remains of other's sowing. 
The formal intercourse between the various 
groups was suspicious and slyly diplomatic, 
an affair of the meetings of headmen ; though 
now and again, as life grew more certain, there 
was trading in the form of barter. One com- 
munity had settled in a stretch of potato- 
fields, left derelict, which, even under rough 
and unskilled cultivation, yielded more than 
sufficient for its needs ; another, by some 
miracle, had possessed itself of goats — three 
or four in the first instance, found wild among 
the hills, escaped from the hungry, indis- 
criminate slaughter which had bared the 


countryside of cattle. These they bred, were 
envied for, guarded with arms in their hands 
and occasionally bartered ; not without bitter 
resentment and dispute at the price their 
advantage exacted. . . . But of those who 
possessed more than goats or the leavings of 
other men's fields, who lived as men had been 
wont to live in the days when the world was 
civilized — not a trace, not so much as a word ! 
Direct questioning brought only a shake of 
the head. Towns — yes, of course there were 
towns — further on ; but no one lived in 
them — you could not get a living out of pave- 
ments, bricks and hard roads. . . . Up the 
river — the way he had come — was a stretch 
of dead land where nothing grew and no one 
lived ; he had seen it for himself and knew 
best what lay beyond it. Lower down the 
river were the other camps like their own ; so 
many they knew of, and others they had heard 
of further off. In the distance — on the other 
side of those hills — there had been a large 
town in the old days ; ruins of it — miles of 
streets and ruins — were lying on both banks 
of the river. They themselves had never 
entered it — only seen it from a distance — but 
those who lived nearer had said it was mostly 
in ruins and that bodies were thick in the 


streets. In the summer, they had heard, it 
was forbidden to enter it ; because it was 
those who had gone there in search of plunder 
who first were smitten with the sickness which 
spread from their camp along the valley. It 
was the wind blowing over the town — so they 
said — which brought the bad smell and the 
flies. . . . No, they did not know its name ; 
had never heard it. 

It was when he turned from the present to 
the past that Theodore found himself against 
a barrier, the barrier unexpected of a plain 
unwillingness to talk of the world that had 
vanished. When spoken of at all it was 
spoken of carefully, with precaution and 
choosing of phrase, and no man gave easily 
many details of his life before the Ruin. 

At first the strange attitude puzzled him — 
he could make nothing of the odd, suspicious 
glances whereby questioning was met, the 
attempt to parry it, the cautious, non-com- 
mittal replies ; it was only by degrees that he 
grasped their significance and understood how 
complete was that renunciation of the past 
which these people had imposed upon them- 
selves. Forgetfulness — so Theodore learned in 
time — was more than a precaution ; it had 


been preached in the new-born world as a 
religion, accepted as an article of faith. The 
prophet who had expressed the common need 
and instinct in terms of religion had in due 
time made his appearance ; a wild-eyed, 
eloquent scarecrow of a man, aflame with 
belief in his sacred mission and with loathing 
for the sins of the world. Coming from no one 
knew where, he carried his gospel through a 
land left desolate, proclaiming his creed of 
salvation through ignorance and crying woe 
on the yet unrepentant sinners who should 
seek to preserve the deadly knowledge that 
had brought God's judgment on the world ! 

The seed of his doctrine fell on fruitful soil 
— on brutalized minds in starved bodies ; the 
shaggy, half-naked enthusiast was hailed as a 
law-giver, saint and saviour, and the harvest 
of souls was abundant. On every side the 
faith was embraced with fervour ; the bitter 
experience of the convert confirming the 
prophet's inspiration. Tribe after tribe recon- 
ciled itself to a God who had turned in wrath 
from His creatures, offended by their upstart 
pretensions and encroachments on the power 
of Deity. Tribe after tribe made confession 
of its sin, grovelling at the feet of a jealous 
Omnipotence and renouncing the works of the 


devil and the deadly pride of the intellect ; and 
in tribe after tribe there were hideous little 
massacres — blood-offerings, sweet and accept- 
able sacrifice, that should purify mankind 
from its guilt. Those who were known to have 
pried into the hidden secrets of Omnipotence 
were cut off in their wickedness, lest they 
should corrupt others — were dragged to the 
feet of the prophet and slaughtered, lest they 
should defile humanity anew through the 
pride of the intellect and the power of their 
devil-sent knowledge. Men known to be 
learned or suspected of learning ; men pos- 
sessed of no more than mechanical training 
and skill. . . . There was a story of one whom 
certain in the tribe would have spared — a 
doctor of medicine who had comforted many 
in the past. But the prophet cried out that 
this uttermost sacrifice, too, was demanded 
of them till, frenzied with piety, they turned 
on their healer and beat out the brains that 
had served them. . . . And over the bodies 
had followed an orgy of repentance, of groan- 
ing and revivalistic prayer ; the priest blessing 
the sacrifice with uplifted arms and calling 
down the vengeance of God Most High upon 
those who should be false to the vow they had 
sworn in the blood of sinners. He chanted 


the vow, they repeating it after him ; taking 
oath to renounce the evil thing, to stamp it 
out wherever met with, in man, in woman, in 

The prophet (so Theodore learned) had con- 
tinued his wanderings, preaching the gospel 
as he went — through village after village and 
settlement after settlement, till he passed 
beyond the confines of report. He had bidden 
his followers expect his return ; but whether 
he came again or not, his doctrine was firmly 
established. He had left behind him the germs 
of a priesthood, a tradition and a Law for his 
converts : — a Law which included the penalty 
of death for those who should fail to keep the 
vow. . . . 

Lest it should fade from their minds, there 
were days set apart for renewal of the vow, 
for public, ceremonial repetition of the creed 
and doctrine of ignorance ; and, with the 
Ruin an ever-present memory to the remnant 
of humanity, the tendency was to interpret 
the Law with all strictness — there were 
devotees and fanatics who watched with a 
mingling of animal fear and religious hate for 
signs of relapse and backsliding. Denuncia- 
tion was of all things dreaded ; and outspoken 
regret for a world that had passed had more 


than once been pretext for denunciation. To 
dwell in speech on the doings of that world 
might be interpreted — had been interpreted — 
as a hankering after the Thing Forbidden, a 
desire to revive the Accursed. . . . Hence the 
parrying of questions, the barrier of protective 
silence which the newcomer broke through 
with difficulty. 

It took more than a day for Theodore to 
understand his new world and its meaning, to 
grasp its social system and civil and religious 
polity ; but at the end of one day he knew 
roughly the conditions in which he was 
destined to live out the rest of his life. 

Not that, in the beginning, he admitted 
that so he must live ; it was long — many 
years — before he resigned himself to the 
knowledge that his limits, till death released 
him, were the narrow limits of his tribe. For 
years he held secretly — but none the less fast — 
to the hope of a civilization that must one day 
reveal itself, advance and overwhelm his 
barbarians. For years he strained his eyes 
for the coming of its pioneers, its saviours ; it 
was long — very long — before he gave up his 
hopes and faced the certainty that, if the world 
he had known continued to exist, it existed 


too feebly and too far away to stretch out to 
himself and his surroundings. 

There were times when the longing for it 
flared and burned in him, and he sought 
desperately for traces of the world he had 
known — running hither and thither in search 
of it. Under pretext of a hunting expedition 
he would absent himself from the tribe, and 
trespass — often at the imminent risk of death 
— on the territory of alien communities ; re- 
turning, after days, no nearer to his goal and 
no wiser for his stealthy prowlings. The life 
of alien communities, the prospect revealed 
from strange hills, was, to all intents and pur- 
poses, the life and outlook of his tribe. . . . 
He would question the occasional stranger 
from a distant village, in the hope of at least 
a word, a rumour — a rumour that might give 
guidance for further and more hopeful search. 
But those who came from distant villages 
spoke only of villages more distant ; of other 
hunting-grounds, of other tribal feuds, of 
other long stretches of ruin. . . . The world, 
so far as it came within his ken, was cut to 
one pattern, the pattern of a cowed and bru- 
talized man, who bent his face to the stubborn 
ground and forgot the cunning of his fathers. 


The actual and formal ceremony of his accep- 
tance into the little community took place 
after night had fallen ; deferred to that hour 
in part because, with nightfall, the day's 
labour ceased and the fishermen and snarers 
of birds had returned to their dwelling-place 
— and in part because darkness, lit only by 
the glow of torches and wood fires, lent an 
added solemnity to the rite. 

Earlier in the day the new tribesman had 
been summoned to a second interview with 
the headman. The old man questioned him 
shrewdly enough as to his road, the nature of 
his winter food store and the feasibility of 
transporting it ; and it was settled finally 
that Theodore should depart with the morn- 
ing accompanied by another from the tribe. 
The pair could row and tow up the river a 
flat-bottomed boat which was one of the com- 
munity's possessions ; and as his own camp 
was only a few hours' tramp from navigable 
water, he and his companion should be able, 



with a day or two, to make three or four 
journeys from camp to riverside and load the 
boat with as much as it would carry of his 
hoard. If the weather favoured — if snow 
held off and storm — they might return within 
five or six days. 

His instructions received, he was dismissed ; 
and bidden, since he would need a hut for 
himself and his wife, to set about its building 
at once. A site was allotted him on the edge 
of the copse that was the centre of the tribal 
life and he was granted the use of some of the 
tools that were common property — an axe, 
a mallet, and a spade. By the time the sun 
set his dwelling had made some progress ; 
stakes had been driven in to serve as corner- 
posts, and logs laid from one to the other. 

With dusk, by twos and threes, the men had 
drifted back to the village and the women were 
busied with the cooking of supper at fires that 
blazed in the open, so long as the weather was 
dry, as well as at the mud-built ovens that 
sheltered a flame from the wind. When they 
kept their men waiting for the plates and 
bowls of food there was impatient shouting 
and now and then a blow. . . . Theodore, as 
he ate his supper, noted suddenly that though 
one or two of the women carried babies, the 


camp contained no child that was older than 
the crawling stage — no child that survived 
the Disaster. 

The night was rainless, and when the meal 
was over the men, for the most part, lay or 
crouched near their fires — some torpid, some 
talking with their women ; but they roused 
and stood upright when the ceremony began, 
and the headman, calling for silence, beckoned 
with a dirty claw to Theodore. 

" Here ! " said Theodore and went to him. 
The old man was seated on the trunk of a 
fallen tree ; he waited till the tribesmen, one 
and all, had ranged themselves on either hand 
and then signed to Theodore to kneel. 

" Give me both your hands," he ordered — 
and held them between his own. As in days 
long past — (so Theodore remembered) — the 
overlord, the suzerain, had taken the hands of 
his vassal. . . . Did he remember — this latter- 
day barbarian — the ritual of chivalry, the 
feudal customs of Capet, Hohenstaufen and 
Plantagenet ? Or was his imitation of their 
lordly rite unconscious ? 

" So that you may live and be one of us," 
the old man began, " you will swear two things 
— to be true to your fellows and humble and 
meek towards God. Before God and before 


all of us you will take your oath ; and, if you 
break it, may you die the death of the wicked 
and may fire consume you to eternity ! " 

The words were intoned and not spoken for 
the first time : the ritual of the ceremony was 
established, and at definite points and inter- 
vals the bystanders broke in with a mutter 
of approval or warning — already traditional. 

" First : you will swear, till death takes 
you, to be our man against all perils and 

" I will be your man till death takes me," 
swore Theodore, " against all perils and 

" You are witness," said the headman, look- 
ing round, and was answered by a murmur 
from the listeners. The women did not join 
in it — they had, it seemed, no right of vote or 
assent ; but they had drawn near, every one 
of them, and were peering at the ceremony 
from beyond the shoulders of their men. 

" And now," came the order, "you will take 
the oath to God, to purify your heart and 
renounce devil's knowledge — for yourself and 
for those who come after you. Swear it after 
me, word by holy word — and swear it with 
your heart as with your lips." 

And word by word, and line by line, Theodore 


repeated the formula that cut him off from the 
world of his youth and the heritage of all the 
ages. It was a rhythmical formula, its phras- 
ing often Biblical ; instinctively the prophet, 
when he framed his new ritual, had followed 
the music of the old. . . . Written pages and 
the stonework of churches might perish, but 
the word that was spoken endured. . . . 

" 1 do swear and take oath, before God and 
before man, that I will walk humbly all my 
days and put from me the pride of the intellect. 
Remembering that the meek shall inherit the 
earth and that the poor in spirit are acceptable 
in the sight of the Most High. Therefore, I 
do swear and take oath that I will purify my 
heart of that which is forbidden, that I will 
renounce and drive out all memory of the 
learning which it is not meant for me, who 
am sinful man, to know. What I know and 
remember of that which is forbidden shall 
be dead to me and as if it had never been 
born. . . . May my hands be struck off before 
I set them to the making of that which is for- 
bidden ; and may blindness smite me if I seek 
to pry into the hidden mysteries of God. Into 
the secrets of the earth, into the secrets of the 
air, the secrets of water or fire. For the Lord 
our God is a jealous God and the secrets of 


earth, air, water and fire are sacred to Him 
Who made them and must not be revealed to 
sinners. . . . Therefore, I pray that my tongue 
may rot in my mouth before I speak one word 
that shall kindle the desire of others for that 
which must not be revealed. 

" I call upon the Lord Most High, Who 
made heaven and earth and all that in them is, 
to hear this oath that I have sworn ; and, in 
the day that I am false to it, I call on Him to 
blast me with His utmost wrath. . . . And 
I call upon my fellow-men to hear this oath 
that I have sworn ; may they shed my blood 
without mercy, in the day that I am false to 
it, by thought, word or deed. In the day that 
I am false to it may they visit my sin on my 
head ; as I will visit their sin on man, woman 
or child who, in my sight or in my hearing, 
shall hanker after that which is forbidden. 

" For so only shall we cleanse and purify our 
hearts ; so only shall we live without devil's 
knowledge and bring up our children without 
it. That the land may have peace in our days 
and that the wrath of the Most High may be 
averted from us. 

" So help me God. Amen." 

" Amen ! " came back in a chorus from 
the shadowy group on either hand ; and when 


the echo of their voices had died in the night 
the headman loosed Theodore's hands. 

He rose and looked round him on the faces 
that were near enough to see — searched them 
in the firelight for regret or a memory of the 
past . . . and, beyond and behind the ring of 
stolid expressionless faces and the desert 
silence, saw Markham toasting the centuries, 
heard the moving thunder of a multitude and 
the prayer of the Westminster bells. . . . 
Lord — through — this — hour . . . 

The old man stretched out a hand in token 
of comradeship admitted — and Theodore took 
it mechanically. 


With dawn Theodore and a stolid companion, 
appointed by the headman, set out on their 
journey to the camp where Ada awaited them. 
They reached it only after weatherbound de- 
lays ; as they towed their boat against a 
current that was almost too strong for their 
paddling they were overtaken by a blinding 
snowstorm and escaped from it barely with 
their lives. They made fast their boat to the 
stump of a tree and groped through the smother 
to a shed near the river's edge ; and there, for 
the better part of a day, they sheltered while 
the storm lasted. When it moderated and 
they pushed on through the dead village, a 
thick sheet of snow had obliterated the minor 
landmarks whereby Theodore had been wont 
to guide his way. It was close upon sunset 
on the third day of their journey when they 
trudged into the hidden valley and the familiar 
tree-clump came in sight — and dusk was 
thickening into moonless dark when Ada, 
hearing voices, ran forward with a scream of 



welcome. She sobbed and laughed incoher- 
ently as she clung round her husband's neck ; 
hysterical, perhaps near insanity, through 
loneliness and the terror of loneliness. 

In the intensity of her relief at the ending 
of her ordeal she forgot, at first, to be greatly 
disappointed because the world of Theodore's 
discovery was a world without a cinema or 
char-a-banc ; with her craving for company, it 
was sheer delight to know that in a few days 
more she would be in the midst of some two 
score human beings, whatever their manner of 
living. It took time and explanation to make 
her understand that the desire for char-a-banc 
and cinema must no longer be openly ex- 
pressed ; she stared uncomprehendingly when 
Theodore strove to make clear to her the reli- 
gious, as well as the practical, idea that lay 
behind the prohibition. 

The need for caution was the more urgent 
since he had learned in the course of the return 
journey that his appointed companion was a 
fanatic in the new faith, a penitent who groaned 
to his offended Deity ; savagely pure-hearted 
in the cult of ignorance and savagely suspicious 
of the backslider. 

The religious temperament was something 
so far removed from Ada's experience that he 


found it impossible at a first hearing to con- 
vince her of the unknown danger of intolerant 
and distorted faith. His mention of a religious 
aspect to their new difficulties brought the 
vague rejoinder that her mother was a Baptist 
but her aunt had been married in a Catholic 
church to an Irishman ; and in the end he 
gave up his attempt at explanation and 
snapped out an order instead. 

" You're to be careful how you talk to them. 
Until you get to know them, you'd better 
say nothing about what you used to do in 
the old times. Nothing at all — do you 
hear? . . ." 

She stared, uncomprehending, but realized 
the order was an order. What she did 
understand and tremble at was the lack of 
provision for her coming ordeal of childbirth, 
and there was a burst of loud weeping and 
terrified protest when Theodore admitted, in 
answer to her questions, that he had found no 
trace of either hospitals, nurses or doctors. 
For the time being he soothed her with a 
hurried promise of seeking them further 
afield — pushing on to find them (they were 
sure to be found) when she was settled in 
comfort and safety with other women to look 
after her. . . . For the time being, he told 


himself, the soothing deceit was a necessity ; 
she would understand later — see for herself 
what was possible — settle down and accept 
the inevitable. 

She was all eagerness to start, but it took 
two full days before the requisite number of 
journeys had been made to the river — their 
stores packed on an improvised sled, dragged 
heavily across the miles of frozen snow and 
stowed in the flat-bottomed boat. Then, on 
the third day, Ada herself made the journey ; 
helped along by the men who, when the ground 
was smooth enough, set her on the sled and 
dragged her. In spite of their help she needed 
many halts for rest, and the distance between 
camp and river took most of the hours of day- 
light to accomplish ; hence they sheltered 
for the night in a cottage not far from the 
river's bank, and with morning dropped down- 
stream in the boat — paddling cautiously as 
they rounded each bend and always on their 
guard against the possibility of unfriendly 
meetings. The long desolation they passed 
through was a no-man's land ; any stray 
hunter, therefore, might deem himself at 
liberty to attack whom he saw and seize what 
he found in their possession. But throughout 
the short day was neither sight nor sound of 


man and by sunset the current, running 
swollen and rapidly, had brought them to 
their destined landing. . . . After that came 
the mooring of the boat in the reeds and the 
hiding, on the bank of the river, of the stores 
they could not carry ; then the long uphill 
tramp over snow, in the gathering darkness 
— with Ada shivering, crying from weariness 
and clinging to her husband's arm. And — at 
last — the glow of fires, through tree-trunks ; 
with figures moving round them, shaggy men 
and unkempt women. . . . Their home ! 

The unkempt women met their fellow not un- 
kindly. They drew her to the fire and rubbed 
her frozen hands ; then, while one brought a 
bowl of steaming mess, another laid dry moss 
and heather in the bed-place of her unfinished 
dwelling. A protesting baby was wakened 
from its sleep and dandled for her comfort and 
inspection — its mother giving frank and loud- 
voiced details concerning the manner of its 
birth. There was a rough and good-natured 
attempt to raise her drooping spirits, and Ada, 
fed and warmed, brightened visibly and re- 
sponded to the clack of tongues. This, at 
least, the new world had restored to her — the 
blessing of loud voices raised in chatter. . . . 
All the same, on the second night of their new 


life Theodore, awake in the darkness, heard 
her sniffing and swallowing her tears. 

" What is it ? " he asked and she clung to 
him miserably and wept her forebodings on his 
shoulder. Not only forebodings of her coming 
ordeal in the absence of hospitals and doctors, 
but — was this, in truth, to be the world ? 
These people — so they told her — knew of no 
other existing ; but what had become of all 
the towns ? The trams, the shops, the life of 
the towns — her life — where was it ? It must 
be somewhere — a little way off — where was 
it ? ... He soothed her with difficulty, re- 
peating his warnings on the danger of open 
regrets for the past and reminding her that 
to-morrow she also would be called on for the 

" I know," she whimpered. " Of course 
I'll taike an oath if I must. But you can't 
'elp thinking — if you swear yourself black in 
the faice, you can't 'elp thinking." 

" Whatever you think," he insisted, " you 
mustn't say it — to anyone." 

" I know," she snuffled obediently, " I 
shan't say nothing. . . . but, oh Gawd, oh 
Gawd — aren't we ever going to be 'appy 
again ? " 

He knew what she was weeping for — shaking 


with miserable sobs ; the evenings at the 
pictures, the little bits of machine-made 
finery, the petty products of " devil's know- 
ledge " that had made up her daily life. The 
cry to her " Gawd " was a prayer for the re- 
turn of these things and the hope of them had 
so far sustained her in peril, hardship and lone- 
liness. Pictures and finery had always been 
there, just a mile or two beyond the horizon — 
awaiting her enjoyment so soon as it was safe 
to reach them. Now, in her overpowering 
misery and darkness of soul, she was facing 
the dread possibility that they no longer 
awaited her, that the horizon was immeasur- 
able, infinite. . . . Guns and bombs and 
poisons — nobody wanted them and she under- 
stood people making up their minds to do 
without 'em. But the other things — you 
couldn't go on living without the other things 
— shops and proper houses and railways. . . . 

" It can't be for always," she persisted, 
" it can't be " — and was cheered by the sudden 
heat of his agreement, the sudden note of 
protest in his voice. The knowledge that he 
sympathized encouraged her and, with her 
head on his shoulder, sniffing, but comforted, 
she began to plan out their deliverance. 

" They must be somewhere — the people 


that live like they used to. Keepin' quiet, I 
dessay, till things gets more settled. When 
things is settled they'll get a move on and 
come along and find us. It stands to reason 
they can't be so very far off, because I remem- 
ber the teacher tellin' us when we 'ad our 
jography lesson that England's quite a small 
country. So they 'aven't got so very far to 
come. ... I expect an aeroplane'll come 

He felt her thrill in expectation of the 
moment when she sighted the swiftly moving 
speck aloft, the bearer of deliverance drawing 
nigh. Wouldn't it be heavenly when they 
saw one at last — after all these awful months 
and years ! ... In the war they were beastly, 
but, now that the war was over, what had 
become of all the passenger 'planes and the 
airships ? She was always looking out for 
one — always ; every morning when she came 
out of the hut the first thing she did was to 
look up at the sky. . . . And some day one 
was bound to come. W T hen things had settled 
down and got straight, it was bound to. . . . 

But it never did ; and in the end she ceased 
to look for it. 

His attempts — they were many in the first 


few years — to break away from his world and 
his bondage of ignorance were made always 
with cunning precaution and subterfuge ; not 
even the pitiable need of his wife would have 
served as excuse for the backsliding which 
was search after the forbidden. To a fanati- 
cism dominated by the masculine element the 
pains of childbirth were once more an ordi- 
nance of God ; and when, a few weeks before 
Ada's time of trial, Theodore absented him- 
self from the camp for a night or two, he gave 
no one (save Ada) warning of his journey, and 
later accounted for his absence by a plausible 
story of straying and a hunter's misfortunes. 
He had ceased, since he took up his dwelling 
with the tribe, to believe in the neighbourhood 
of a civilization in being ; all he hoped for was 
the neighbourhood, not too distant, of men 
who had not acquiesced in ruin and put hope 
of recovery behind them. What he sought 
primarily was that aid and comfort in child- 
birth for which his wife appealed to him with 
insistence that grew daily more terrified ; 
what he sought fundamentally was escape 
from a people vowed to ignorance. 

The goal of his first journey was the town 
lying lower down the river, the forbidden city 
which had once bred pestilence and flies. He 


approached it deviously, keeping to the hills 
and avoiding districts he knew to be inhabited; 
hoping against hope, that, in spite of report, 
he might find some rebuilding of a civic 
existence and human life as he had known it. 
. . . What he found when he came down from 
the foothills and trudged through its out- 
skirts was the customary silent desolation ; a 
desolation flooded and smelling of foul water 
— untenanted streets that were channels and 
backwaters, and others where the slime of 
years lay thick and scum bred rank vegetation. 
Silent streets and empty houses had long 
been familiar to him, but until that day he 
had not known how swiftly nature, left to 
herself, could take hold of them. The river 
and the life that sprang from it was over- 
whelming what man had deserted. Three 
winters of neglect in a low-lying, well-watered 
country had wrought havoc with the work of 
the farmer and the engineer ; streams which 
had been channelled and guided for centuries 
had already burst their way back to freedom. 
With every flooded winter more banks were 
undermined, more channels silted up and 
shifted ; and that which had been plough- 
land, copse or water-meadow was relapsing 
into bog undrained. The valley above and 


below the town was a green swamp studded 
with reedy little pools ; a refuge for the water- 
bird where a man would set foot at his peril. 
Buildings here and there stood rotting, for- 
lorn and inaccessible — barns, sheds and farm- 
houses, their walls leaning drunkenly as foun- 
dations shifted in the mud ; and in the town 
itself, as surely, if more slowly, the waters 
were taking possession. . . . Towns had van- 
ished, he knew — vanished so completely that 
their very sites had been matter of dispute to 
antiquarians — but never till to-day had he 
visualized the process ; the rising of layer on 
layer of mud, the sapping of foundations by 
water. The forces that made ruin and the 
forces that buried it ; flood and frost and the 
persistent thrust of vegetation. As the water- 
logged ground slid beneath them, rows of 
jerry-built houses were sagging and cracking 
to their fall ; here and there one had crumbled 
and lay in a rubble heap, the water curdling at 
its base. . . . How many life-times, he won- 
dered, till the river had the best of it and the 
houses where men had gone out and in were 
one and all of them a rubble heap — under 
water and mud and rank greenery ? He saw 
them, decades or centuries ahead, as a waste, 
a stretch of bogland where the river idled ; 


bogland, now flooded, now drying and cracked 
in the sun ; and with broken green islets still 
thrusting through the swamp — broken green 
islets of moss-covered rock that underneath 
was brick and mortar. In time it might be — 
with more decades or centuries — the islets also 
would sink lower in the swamp, disappear. . . . 

The process, unhindered, was certain as 
sunrise ; the important little streets that 
humanity had built for its vanished needs and 
its vanished business would be absorbed into 
an indifferent wilderness, in all things suffi- 
cient to itself. The rigid important little 
streets had been no more than an episode in 
the ceaseless life of the wilderness ; an episode 
ending in failure, to be decently buried and 

He plodded aimlessly through street after 
street that was fordable till the shell of a 
" County Infirmary " mocked at Ada's hopes 
and recalled the first purpose of his journey ; 
a gaunt sodden building, the name yet visible 
on walls that sweated fungi and mould. Then, 
that he might leave nothing undone in the way 
of help and search, he trudged and waded to 
the lower outskirts of the town ; where the 
roads lost themselves in grass and flooded 
water, and there stretched to the limit of his 


eyesight a dull winter landscape without sign 
of living care or habitation. In the end — 
having strained his eyes after that which was 
not — he turned to slink back to his own place ; 
skirting alien territory where the sight of a 
stranger might mean an alarm and a man- 
hunt, and sheltering at night where his fire 
might be hidden from the watcher. 

" You 'aven't found nothin' ? " Ada whim- 
pered, when he had told his necessary lies to 
the curious and they were out of earshot in 
their hut. Her eyes had grown piteous when 
he stumbled in alone ; she had dreamt in his 
absence of sudden and miraculous deliverance 
— following him in fancy through streets with 
tramlines, where dwelt women who wore 
corsets — also doctors. Who, perhaps, when 
they knew the greatness of her need, would 
send a motor-ambulance — to fetch her to a bed 
with sheets on it. 

" Nothing," he told her almost roughly, 
afraid to show pity. " No doctors, no houses 
fit to live in. Wherever I've been and as far 
as I could see — it's like this." 


It was in the third spring after the Ruin of 
Man that Ada's time was accomplished and 
she bore a son to her husband ; on a day in 
late April or early May there was going and 
coming round the shelter that was Theodore's 
home. The elder women of the tribe, by 
right of their experience, took possession, and 
from early morning till long after nightfall 
they busied themselves with the torment and 
mystery of birth ; and with the aid of nothing 
but their rough and unskilled kindliness Ada 
suffered and brought forth a squalling red 
mannikin — the heir of the ages and their out- 
cast. The child lived and, despite its mother's 
fecklessness, was lusty ; as a boy, ran shoeless, 
and, in summer, naked as Adam ; and grew 
to his primitive manhood without letters, 
knowing of the world that was past and gone 
only legends derived from his elders. 

His coming, to Theodore, meant more than 
paternity ; the birth of his son made him one 
with the life of the tribe. By the child's 



wants and helplessness — still more when other 
children followed — his father was tied to an 
existence which offered the necessary measure 
of security ; to the stretch of land where he 
had the right to hunt unmolested, the patch 
he had the right to sow and reap, and the 
company of those who would aid him in pro- 
tecting his children. He had given his hos- 
tages to fortune and the limits set to his secret 
expeditions in search of a lost world were the 
limits set by the needs of those dependent on 
him, by his fear of leaving them too long un- 
protected, unprovided for. 

He learned much from his firstborn and the 
brothers and sisters who followed him ; not 
only the intimate lore of his fatherhood, but 
the lore and outlook of man bred uncivilized, 
and the traditions, in making, of a world to 
come — which in all things would resemble the 
old traditions handed down by a world that 
had died. His children lived naturally the 
life that had been forced upon their father and 
inherited ignorance as a birthright ; growing 
up — such as lived through the perils of child- 
hood — without knowledge of the past and 
untempted by the sin of the intellect. The 
oath which Theodore, like every new-made 
father, was called on to swear in the name 


of the child he had given to the tribe, had a 
meaning to those who had lived through Dis- 
aster and witnessed the Ruin of Man ; to 
the next generation the vow was a formula 
only, a renunciation of that they had never 
possessed. They could not, if they would, 
instruct their children in the secrets of God, 
the forbidden lore of the intellect. 

By the time his first son was of an age to 
think and question, Theodore understood more 
than the growth and workings of a child-mind 
— much that had hitherto seemed dark and 
fantastic in the origins of a world that had 
ended with the Ruin of Man. It was the 
workings of a child-mind that made oddly 
clear to him the significance of primitive reli- 
gious doctrine and beliefs handed down through 
the ages — the once meaningless doctrine of the 
Fall of Man and the belief in a vanished Golden 
Age. These the boy, unprompted, evolved 
from his own knowledge and the talk of his 
elders, accepting them spontaneously and 

In Theodore's childhood the Golden Age 
had been a myth and pleasant fancy of the 
ancients, and the Fall of Man as distant as the 
Book of Genesis and unreal as the tale of Puss- 
in-Boots ; to his children, one and all, the 


legends of his infancy were close and undoubted 
realities. The Golden Age was a wondrous 
condition of yesterday ; the Fall — the Ruin — 
its catastrophic overthrow, an experience 
their father had survived. The fields and 
hillsides where they worked, played and 
wandered were still littered with strange 
relics of the Golden Age — the vanished, 
fruitful, incomprehensible world whence their 
parents had been cast into the outer darkness 
of everyday hardship as a penalty for the sin 
of mankind. The sin unforgivable of grasping 
at the knowledge which had made them like 
unto gods ; a mad ambition which not only 
they but their children's children must atone 
for in the sweat of their brow. . . . More than 
once Theodore suspected in the secret recesses 
of his youngsters' minds a natural and wonder- 
ing contempt for the men of the last genera- 
tion ; the fools and blind who had overreached 
themselves and forfeited the splendour of the 
Golden Age by their blundering greed and 
unwisdom. So history was writing itself in 
their minds ; making of a race that had ac- 
quiesced in science and drifted to destruction 
a legendary people whose sin was deliberate — 
a people whose encroachments had angered 
a self-important Deity and brought down his 


wrath upon their heads. It was a history 
inseparable from religious belief ; its opening 
chapters identical in all essentials with the 
legendary history of an epoch that had ceased 
to exist. 

Once his eight-year boy, planted sturdily 
before him, demanded a plain explanation of 
the folly of his father's contemporaries. 

' Why," he asked frowning, " did the people 
want to find out God's secrets ? " 

Theodore thought of Ada and the countless 
millions like her, leaned his chin on his hand 
and smiled grimly. 

" Some of us didn't," he answered. " Some 
of us — many of us — had no interest in the 
secrets of God. We made use of them when 
others found them out, but we, ourselves, were 
quite content to be ignorant. Ignorant in all 

" I know," the child assented, puzzled by 
his father's smile. " The good ones didn't 
want to — the good ones like you and Mummy. 
But the others — all the wicked ones — why did 
they ? It was stupid of them." 

" They wanted to find out," said Theodore, 
" and there have always been people like that. 
From the beginning, the very beginning of 
things — ever since there were men on the 


earth. The desire to know burned them like 
a fire. There is an old story of a woman who 
brought great trouble into the world because 
she wanted to know. She was given a box 
and told never to open it ; but she disobeyed 
because she was filled with a great curiosity 
to know what had been put inside it. Her 
longing tormented her night and day and she 
could think of nothing else ; till at last she 
opened the box and horrible creatures flew 

The boy, interested, demanded more of 
Pandora and the horrible creatures. "Is it 
a true story ? " he asked when his father had 
given such further details as he managed to 
remember and invent. 

" Yes," Theodore told him, " I believe it is 
a true story. It was so long ago that we can- 
not tell exactly how it happened : I may not 
have told it you quite rightly, but on the whole 
it is a true story. . . . And the wicked people 
— our wicked people who brought ruin on the 
world — were much like Pandora and her box. 
It was the same thing over again ; they wanted 
to know so strongly that they forgot every- 
thing else ; they had only the longing to find 
out and it seemed as if nothing else mattered." 

" Weren't they afraid ? " the boy asked 


doubtfully, still puzzled by his father's odd 
smile. " Afraid of what would happen to 
them ? " 

" No," Theodore answered. " Until it was 
too late and they saw what they had done, I 
don't think many were afraid. Here and 
there, before the end, some began to be 
frightened, but most of them didn't see where 
they were going." 

" But they must have known," his son 
insisted, frowning. " God told them He would 
punish them if they tried to learn His secrets." 

" Yes," Theodore assented — with the ortho- 
dox truth, more deceptive than a lie, that 
meant one thing to him and another to the 
world barbarian. " Yes, God told them so ; 
but though He said it very plainly not many 
of them understood. ..." They were talk- 
ing, he knew, across more than the gulf 
between the mind of a child and a man ; 
between them lay the centuries, the barrier 
of many generations. To his son, now and 
always, dead and gone chemists and mathema- 
ticians must appear in the likeness of present 
evildoers — raiders of the territory and robbers 
of the property of God ; to his son, now and 
always, inventors and spectacled professors 
in mortar-boards would be greedy, foolish 


chieftains who planned war against Heaven 
as a tribe plans assault upon its rivals. These 
were and must always be his " wicked," his 
destroyers of the Golden Age ; his life and 
outlook being what it was, how should he 
picture the war against Heaven as pure- 
hearted, instinctive and unconscious ? 

" Why not ? " the child persisted, repeating 
the question when his father stroked his head 

" Because . . . they did not know them- 
selves. If they had known themselves and 
their own passions they would have seen why 
knowledge was forbidden." 

" Yes," said the child vaguely — and passed 
to the matter that interested him. 

" Why didn't the others make them under- 
stand ? You and the other good ones ? " 

" Because," said Theodore, " we ourselves 
didn't understand. That was the blunder 
— the sin — of the rest of us. We didn't seek 
after knowledge, but we took the fruits of 
other men's knowledge and ate." 

(Unconsciously he made use of the familiar 
hereditary simile.) 

"I'd have killed them," his son declared 
firmly. "Everyone. I'd have told them to 
stop, and then, if they wouldn't, I'd have 


killed them. Thrown them in the river — or 
hammered them with stones till they died. 
That's what I'd have done." 

" No," Theodore told him, " you wouldn't 
have killed them. . . . One of them said the 
same thing to me — one of the wicked ones. 
He said we should have stamped out the race 
of them. Afterwards I knew he was right, 
but at the time I didn't understand. I 
couldn't. I heard what he said, but the words 
had no real meaning for me." 

He saw something that was almost contempt 
in his son's eyes and took the grubby face 
between his hands. 

" That same wicked man — who was also 
very wise — told me something else that is as 
true for you as it was for me ; he said that we 
never know anything except through our 
own experience. I might tell you that the 
sun is warm or the water is cold, but if you 
had never felt the heat of the sun or the cold 
of the water you would not know what I 
meant. And it was like that with us ; there 
were always some few who understood that 
knowledge was a flame that, in the end, would 
burn us — but the rest of us couldn't even try 
to save ourselves until after we were burned." 

He stroked the grubby face as he released it. 


" That's the Law, son ; and all that matters 
you'll learn that way. That way and no 
other — just as we did." 

In time he found himself recalling, with 
strange interest, the fairy-tales of his child- 
hood ; he spent long hours re-weaving and 
piecing them together, searching his memory 
for half-remembered fragments of what had 
once seemed fantasy or nonsense invented for 
the nursery. The hobgoblins and heroes of 
his nursery days were transformed and made 
suddenly possible ; looking through the mind 
of a new generation, he saw that they might 
have been as human and prosaic as himself. 
More — he came to know that he and his com- 
monplace, civilized contemporaries would be 
the heroes and hobgoblins of the future. 

The process, the odd transformation, would 
be simple as it was inevitable. It was for- 
bidden, by the spirit and letter of the Vow, to 
awaken youthful curiosity concerning the past 
— youthful curiosity whose end might be 
youthful experiment ; but women, in spite 
of all vows and prohibitions, would gossip 
to each other of their memories. While they 
talked their children would listen, open-eyed 
and puzzled ; and when a youngster de- 


manded the meaning of an unfamiliar term 
or impossible happening, the explanation, 
as a matter of course, took the form of 
analogy, of comparison with the known and 
familiar. The aeroplane was a bird extinct 
and monstrous — larger, many times larger, 
than the flapping heron or the owl ; the bomb 
was more dreadful than a lightning stroke ; 
the tram, train or motor a gigantic wheel- 
barrow that ran without man or beast to drag 
it. . . . The ignorance of science of those who 
told, the yet greater ignorance of those who 
heard, resulted, inevitably, before many years 
had passed, in myth and religious legend — an 
outwardly fantastic statement of actual fact 
and truth. The children, piecing together 
their fragments of incomprehensible informa- 
tion, made their own image of the past — to be 
handed on later to their sons ; an image of 
a world fantastic, enchanted and amazing, 
destroyed, as a judgment for sin against God, 
by strange, fire-breathing beasts and bolts 
from heaven. A world of gigantic fauna and 
bewitched chariots ; likewise of sorcerers, 
their masters — whom God and the righteous 
had exterminated. ... So Theodore realized 
— as his children grew and he heard them talk 
— must a race that knew nothing of science 


explain the dead wonders of science ; from the 
message that flashes round the world in 
seconds to the petrol-engine and the magic 
slumber of chloroform. That which is out- 
side the power and beyond the understanding 
of man has always been denounced as magic ; 
and steam, electricity, chemical action, were 
outside the power and beyond the under- 
standing of men born after the Ruin. In 
default of understanding they must needs fall 
back on a wizardry known to their fathers ; thus 
he and his contemporaries to their children's 
children would be semi-supernatural beings, 
fit comrades of Sindbad, of Perseus, or the 
Quatre Fils Aymon : giants with great voices 
that called to each other across continents and 
vasty deeps ; possessors of seven-league boots, 
magic steeds and flying carpets — of all the 
stock-in-trade of the fairy-tale. . . . Belief 
H11 the demi-god was a natural growth and 
product of the world wherein his son grew to 

Given time and black ignorance of mechan- 
ics and science, and the engineer would be 
promoted to a giant or demi-god ; who, by vir- 
tue of a strength that was more than human, 
dammed rivers, drained bogs and pierced 
mountains. "As it was in the beginning, is 


now and ever shall be ' ' — and always in the past 
there had been giants. Titans — and Hercules, 
removing mighty obstacles and cleansing the 
stables of Augeas. He came to understand 
that all wonders were facts misinterpreted and 
that (given time and ignorance) a post-office 
underling, tapping out his Morse code, might 
be seen as a geni or an Oberon — the absolute 
master of obedient sprites who could lay their 
girdles round the earth ; and he pictured a 
college-bred, sober-suited Hercules planning 
his Labours in the office of a limited company 
— jotting down figures, estimating costs and 
scanning the reports of geologists. Figures 
and reports, like his tunnels and dams, would 
pass into the limbo of science forgotten and 
forbidden, but the memory of his labours, his 
defiance of brute nature, would live on as the 
story of a demi-god ; and the childhood that 
was barbarism would explain his achievements 
by a giant strength that could tear down trees 
and move mountains. 

The idea took fast root and grew in him — 
the idea of a world that, time and again, had 
returned to the helplessness of childhood. He 
saw science as the burden that, time and again, 
the race found intolerable ; as Dead-Sea fruit 
that turned to ashes in the mouth, as riches 


that humanity strove for, attained and re- 
nounced — renounced because it dared not 
keep them. In his hours of dreaming he made 
fairies and demi-gods out of dapper little 
sedentary persons, the senders of forgotten 
telegrams, with forgotten engines — motor-cars 
and aeroplanes — at their insignificant com- 
mand ; and once, in the night, when Ada 
snored beside him, he asked himself if Lucifer, 
Son of the Morning — Lucifer who strove with 
his God and was worsted — were more, in his 
beginnings, than a scientist intent on his work? 
A chemist, a spectacled professor, resplendent 
only in degrees and learning? An Archfiend of 
Knowledge who had sinned against God in the 
secret places of a laboratory and not upon the 
shining plains of Heaven ? And whom ignor- 
ance and time had glorified into the Tempter, 
the Evil One — setting him magnificently in 
the flaming Hell which he and his like, by 
their skill and patience, had created and let 
loose upon man? . . . This, at least, was 
certain ; that in years to come and under 
other names, his children's children would re- 
tell the story of Lucifer, Son of the Morning ; 
the Enemy of Man who was flung out of Heaven 
because, in his overweening vanity, he en- 
croached on the power of a God. 


It was the new world that taught him that 
man invents nothing, is incapable of pure 
invention ; that what seem his wildest, most 
fantastic imaginings are no more than ineffec- 
tive, distorted attempts to set down a half- 
forgotten experience. What had once ap- 
peared prophecies he saw to be memories ; the 
Day of Judgment, when the heavens should 
flame and men call upon the rocks to cover 
them, belonged to the past before it belonged 
to the future. The forecast of its terrors was 
possible only to a people that had known them 
as realities ; a people troubled by a dim race- 
memory of the conquest of the air and catas- 
trophe hurled from the skies. . . . 

So, at least, his children taught him to 


With years and rough husbandry the re- 
sources of the tribe were augmented and it 
emerged from its first starved misery ; more 
land was brought under cultivation and, as 
tillage improved and better crops were raised, 
the little community was less dependent on the 
haphazard luck of its fishing and snaring and 
lived further from the line of utter want. 
While, save in bad seasons, the inter-tribal 
raiding that was caused by sheer starvation 
was less frequent. Even so, strife was fre- 
quent enough — small intermittent feud that 
flared now and again into savagery ; the de- 
sire of a growing community to extend its 
hunting-grounds at the expense of a neighbour 
meant, almost inevitably, appeal to the right 
of the strongest. Other quarrels had their 
origin in the border inroads and reprisals of 
poachers or a barbaric setting of the eternal 
story that was old when Helen launched a 
thousand ships. 



With husbandry, even rough husbandry, 
came the small beginnings of commerce, the 
barter and exchange of one man's superfluities 
for the produce of another man's fields. Cold 
and nakedness stimulated ingenuity in the 
matter of clothing, even in a society whose 
original members had in large part been bred 
to depend in all things on the aid of the machine 
and to earn a livelihood by the performance of 
one action only — the tending of one lathe, the 
accomplishment of one stereotyped mechani- 
cal process. Outcasts of civilization flung 
into the world of savagery, they had in the 
beginning none of the adaptability and none 
of the resources of the savage — knew nothing 
of the properties of unfamiliar plants, knew 
neither what to weave nor how to weave it, 
and often from sheer lack of understanding, 
starved and shivered in the midst of plenty. 
It was not till they had suffered long and 
intolerably that they learned to clothe them- 
selves from such material as their new world 
afforded, to cure skins of animals and stitch 
them together into garments. In the first 
years of ruin only ratskins were plentiful ; 
but, as time went on, rabbits, cats and wild 
dogs multiplied and, spreading through the 
countryside, were trapped and hunted for 


their flesh and the warmth of their skins. The 
dogs, as they bred, reverted to a mongrel and 
wolf-like type which, in summer, preyed 
largely on vermin ; in winter, when scarcity 
of food made them bold, they prowled in 
packs, were a danger to the solitary and a 
legendary terror to children. 

In the beginning the village was a straggle 
of rude huts, the tribesmen building how and 
where they would ; later it took shape within 
its first wall and was roughly circular, enclosed 
by a fence of stake and thornbush. The 
raising of the fence was a sign and result of 
the beginning of primitive competition in 
armament ; it was the knowledge that one 
village had fortified itself that set others to 
the driving in of stakes. One November 
evening Theodore, trudging in with his catch, 
saw a group round the headman's fire ; the 
centre of interest, a youth who had returned 
from poaching on other men's land and brought 
back news of their doings. His trespassing 
had taken him within sight of the neighbour- 
ing village — which lately was a cluster of huts, 
like their own, and now was surrounded by a 
wall. A stockade, fully the height of a man, 
with only one gap for a gate. . . . The 
poacher's news was discussed with uneasy 


interest. The fortified tribe, in point of 
numbers, was already stronger than its rival ; 
if it added this new advantage to its numbers, 
what was there to prevent it from raiding and 
robbing as it would ? Having raided and 
robbed, it could shelter behind its defences — 
beat off attack, make sorties and master the 
countryside ! Its security meant the insecu- 
rity of others, the dependence of others on its 
goodwill and neighbourly honesty ; the issue 
was as plain to the handful of tribesmen as to 
old-time nations competing in battleships, 
aeroplanes and guns, and the suspicions 
muttered round the headman's fire were the 
raw material of arguments once familiar in the 
councils of emperors. 

In the end, as the result of uneasy discussion, 
Theodore and another were dispatched to spy 
out the new menace, to get as near as they 
might to the wall, ascertain its strength and 
the method of its building ; and with their 
return from a night expedition there was more 
consultation and a hurried planning of de- 
fences. Before winter was over the haphazard 
settlement was a compound, a walled town in 
embryo ; within the narrow limits of a circle 
small enough for a handful of men to defend 
all huts were crowded, all provisions stored, 


all animals driven at sunset — so that, in case 
of night attack, no man could be cut off and 
the strength of the tribe be at hand to resist 
the assailants. With waste, healthy miles 
stretching out on either side, the village itself 
was an evil-smelling huddle of cabins ; since 
a short stretch of wall was easier to defend 
than a long, men and beasts were crowded 
together in a foulness that made for security. 
In times of feud — and times of feud were 
seldom distant — stones were heaped beside the 
barrier, in readiness to serve as missiles, watch 
and ward was kept turn and turn by the able- 
bodied and — naturally, inevitably and almost 
unconsciously — there was evolved a system of 
military discipline, of penalty for mutiny and 

As in every social system from the beginning 
of time, the community was welded to a con- 
scious whole not by the love its members bore 
to each other, but by hatred and fear of the 
outsider ; it was the enemy, the urgent 
common need to be saved from him, that made 
of man a comrade and a citizen ; the peril 
from outside was the natural antidote to 
everyday hatreds and the ceaseless bickerings 
of close neighbours. The instinctive politics 
of a squalid village were in miniature the policy 


of vanished nations, and untraditioned little 
headmen, like dead and gone kings, quelled 
internal feuds by diverting attention to the 
danger that threatened from abroad. The 
foundations of community life in the new world, 
like the foundations of community life in the 
old, were laid in the selfishness of fear ; but for 
all its base origin the life of the community im- 
posed upon its members the essential virtues of 
the soldier and citizen, a measure of discipline 
and sacrifice. From these, in time, would 
grow loyalty and pride in sacrifice ; the en- 
closure of ramshackle huts and pens was break- 
ing its savages to achievements undreamed 
of and virtues as yet beyond their ken ; the 
blind, stubborn instincts that created Baby- 
lon — created London and Rome and destroyed 
them — were laying well and truly in a mud- 
walled compound the foundations of cities 
which should rise, flourish, perish in the stead 
of London and of Rome. 

Outside the little fortress with its noisome 
huddle of sheds and shelters lay a belt of 
ploughed land, of patches scraped and sown, 
where the women worked by the side of their 
men and worked alone when their men were 
gone hunting or fishing. One or two members 
of the tribe who were countrymen born were 


its saviours in its first years of leanness, 
imparting their knowledge of soil and seed to 
their unskilled comrades bred in towns ; and, 
by slow degrees, as the lesson was learned, the 
belt of tilled ground grew wider and more 
fertile, the little community more prosperous. 

As families grew and the tribe settled down 
the makeshift shelters of wood and moss were 
succeeded by stronger and better built cabins ; 
by the time that her second child was born 
Ada was established in a weatherproof hut — 
a mud-walled building, roofed with dried 
grass and with a floor of earth beaten hard. 
In its early years it possessed a glazed window, 
a pane which Theodore had found whole in a 
crumbling house and set immovably in an 
aperture cut in his wall. But, as years went 
on, unbroken glass was hard to come by ; and 
there came a day when the window-aperture, 
no longer glazed, was plastered up to keep out 
the weather. 

Long before he set about the building of his 
cabin Theodore had brought a strip of ground 
under cultivation, sown a patch of potatoes 
and straggling beans which, in time, expanded 
to a field. His life, henceforth, was largely 
the anxious life of the seasons ; the sowing and 
tending and reaping of his crop, the struggle 


with the soil and the barrenness thereof, the 
ceaseless war against vermin. . . . He ended 
rich, as the men of his time counted riches ; 
the possessor of goats, the owner of land which 
other men envied him, the father of sons who 
could till it. The new world gave him what it 
had to give ; and gradually, with the passing 
of years, the hope of life civilized died in him 
and he ceased to strain his eyes at the distance. 

It was slowly, very slowly, that hope died in 
him ; but there came a day when, searching 
the skyline, as his habit was, it dawned on his 
mind that he sought automatically ; it was 
habit only that made him lift his eyes to the 
horizon. He expected nothing when he shaded 
his eyes and looked this way and that ; his 
belief in a world that was lettered and civilized 
had vanished. If that world yet existed, 
remote and apart, of a surety it was not for 
him — who perhaps was no longer capable of 
existence lettered and civilized. And if he 
himself could be broken to its decencies, what 
place had his children, his young barbarians, 
in an ordered atmosphere like that of his 
impossible youth ? They belonged to their 
world, to its squalor, its dirt, its rude ignor- 
ance ... as, it might be, he also belonged. 


At the thought, he knelt and stared into the 
water, taking stock of the image it reflected 
and coming face to face with himself. His 
body and habits had adapted themselves to 
their surroundings, his mind to the outlook 
of his world — to his daily, yearly struggle with 
the soil and vermin and his fellows. His rela- 
tions with his fellows — with women — with 
himself — were not those of humanity civilized; 
it was nothing to him to go foul and unwashed 
or to clench his fist against his wife. Could 
he live the life he had been born and bred to, 
of cleanliness, self-control and courtesy? Or 
had he been stripped of the decencies which go 
to make civilized man ? ... He covered his 
face with his broken-nailed fingers and strove 
with God and his own soul that he might not 
fall utterly to ruin with his world, that some 
remnant might remain of his heritage. 

From the day when he saw himself for what 
he was and resigned all hope of the world of 
his youth, it seemed to him that he lived two 
divergent lives. One absorbed, perforce, in 
his digging and snaring, in the daily struggle, 
for the daily wants of his household ; the 
other — in his hours of summer rest, in the long 
dark winter evenings — an inward life of brood- 
ing that concerned itself only with the past. 


His memories became to him a species of cult, 
a secret ceremonial and a rite ; that which 
had been (so he fancied) was not altogether 
waste, not altogether dead, so long as one man 
thought of it with reverence. When the mood 
took him he would sit for long hours with his 
chin on his hand, staring at the fire while the 
children wondered at his silence — and Ada, 
wearied of talking to deaf ears, flung off to 
gossip with the neighbours. 

She, before she was thirty, was a haggard 
slattern of a woman ; pitiable by reason of 
her discontent, and looking far older than her 
years. Childbearing aged her and the field- 
work she hated — the bent-backed drudgery 
she tried in vain to shirk and to which she 
brought no shred of understanding ; even 
more she was aged by the weary desire that 
sulked in the corners of her mouth. Before 
she lost her comeliness she had more than once 
sought distraction from her dullness in clumsy 
flirtation ; which perhaps was no more than 
silly ogling and nudging and perhaps led to 
actual unfaithfulness. Theodore — not greatly 
interested in his wife's doings — ignored the 
danger to his household peace until it was 
forcibly thrust upon his notice by a jealous 


spitfire who cursed Ada for running after other 
women's husbands, and proceeded to tear out 
her hair. Ada's snuffling protestations when 
the spitfire was pulled off did not savour of 
injured innocence ; he judged her guilty, at 
least in thought, cuffed her soundly and from 
that time kept his eye on her. He was not (as 
she liked to think) jealous — salving her bruises 
with the comforting balm that two males were 
disputing the possession of her body ; what 
stirred him to wrath fundamentally was his 
outraged sense of property in Ada, his woman, 
and the possibility that her lightness might 
entail on him the labour of supporting another 
man's child. The intrigue — if intrigue it were 
— ended on the day of the cuffing and hair- 
pulling ; her Lothario, awed by his spitfire 
or unwilling to tackle an outraged husband, 
avoided her company from that day forth and 
Ada sank back to domesticity. 

She, too, in the end accepted the loss of the 
world that had made her what she was, ceased 
to search the horizon and strain her eyes for the 
deliverer ; whereupon — having nothing to 
aim at or hope for — she lapsed into slovenly 
neglect of her home, alternating hours of clack 
and gossip with fits of sullen complaining at 
the daily misery of existence. 


Had destiny realized the dreams of her 
youth and set her to live out her married life 
in a shoddy little villa with bamboo furniture, 
she might have made a tolerable mother ; she 
would at least have taken pride in the looks of 
her children, have dressed them with interest, 
as she dressed herself, and tied up their hair 
with satin bows. Being what she was, she 
could take no pride in ragamuffins who ran 
half the year naked ; she could see no beauty, 
even, in straight agile limbs which were meant 
to be encased in reach-me-down suits or cheap 
costumes of cotton velveteen. Thus her 
naked little ragamuffins — those of them that 
lived — were apt to be dirtier, less cared-for, 
than the run of the dirty village youngsters. 
Theodore, in whom the instinct of fatherhood 
was strong, was sometimes roused to wrath 
by her stupid mishandling of her children ; but, 
on the whole he was patient with her — know- 
ing it useless to be otherwise. He beat her 
as seldom as possible and she was looked on by 
her neighbours as a woman kindly handled and 
unduly blessed in her husband. To the end 
she remained what she had always been ; 
essentially a parasite, a minor product of 
civilization, machine-bred and crowd-devel- 
oped — bewildered by a life not lived in crowds 


and not subject to the laws of the Machine. 
To the end all nature was alien and hateful to 
her — raw life that she turned from with dis- 
gust. ... In her last illness her mind, when 
it wandered, strayed back into the world 
where she belonged ; Theodore, an hour before 
she died, heard her muttering of " last Bank 

She died at the end of a long hard winter 
during which she had failed and complained 
unceasingly, sat huddled to the fire and grown 
weaker ; creeping, at last, to her straw in the 
corner and forgetting, in delirium, the mean- 
ingless life she had shared with her husband 
and children. Death smoothed out the lines 
in her sullen face ; it was peaceful, almost 
comely, when Theodore looked his last on it — 
and wondered, oddly, if among the " many 
mansions," were some Cockney paradise of 
noise and jostle where his wife had found her 
heart's desire ? 

Of the four or five children she had brought 
into the world but two were living on the day 
of her death, her eldest-born and a youngster 
at the crawling stage ; but the care of even 
two children was a burdensome matter for a 
man unaided, and it was esteemed natural and 
no insult to the dead, that Theodore should 


take another wife as speedily as might be — 
in the course not of months but of weeks. He 
found a woman to suit his needs without going 
further than his own tribe ; a woman left 
widowed a year or two before, who was glad 
enough to accept the offer of a better living than 
she could hope to make by her own scratch- 
ing of a rod or two of earth and the uncer- 
tain charity of neighbours. The proposal of 
marriage, made in stolid fashion, was accepted 
as a matter of course . . . and, that night, 
Theodore stared through the fire into a room 
in Westminster where a girl in a yellow dress 
made music . . . and a young man listened 
from the corner of a sofa with a cigarette, 
unlit, between his fingers. He was dreaming 
at a table — with silver and branching yellow 
roses — when his son nudged him that supper 
was ready, and he dipped his hand into a 
greasy bowl for the meat. 

The wedding followed swiftly on the heels 
of betrothal, and was celebrated in the manner 
already compulsory and established ; by a 
public promise made solemnly before the 
headman, by a clasping of hands and a cere- 
mony of religious blessing. This last was 
moulded, like all tribal ceremonies, on remem- 
bered formulae and ritual ; and the tradition 


that a wedding should be accompanied by 
much eating and general merrymaking was 
also faithfully observed. 

The new wife, if not over comely or intelli- 
gent, was a sturdy young woman who had 
been broken to the duties required of her, and 
Theodore's home, under its second mistress, 
was better tended and more comfortable than 
in the days of her sluttish predecessor. He 
had married her simply as a matter of business, 
that she might help in his field-work, cook his 
food, look ' after his children and satisfy his 
animal desire ; and on the whole he had no 
reason to complain of the bargain he had made. 
She was a younger woman than Ada by some 
years — had been only a slip of a girl at the 
time of the Ruin — and, because of her youth, 
had adapted herself more readily than most 
of her elders to a world in the making and 
untraditioned methods of living. Her hus- 
band found life easier for the help of a pair of 
sturdy arms and pleasanter for lack of Ada's 
grumbling. . . . She brought more than her- 
self to Theodore's household — a child by her 
first husband ; and, as time went on, she bore 
him other children of his own. 


As the years went by and his children grew 
to manhood in the world primitive which was 
the only world they knew, the life of Theodore 
Savage became definitely twofold ; a life of 
the body in the present and a life of the mind 
in the past. There was his outward, rustic 
and daily self, the labourer, hunter and fisher- 
man, who begat sons and daughters, who 
trudged home at nightfall to eat and sleep 
heavily, who occasionally cudgelled his wife : a 
sweating, muscular animal man whose exis- 
tence was bounded by his bodily needs and the 
bodily needs of his children ; who fondled his 
children and cuffed them by turns, as the 
beast cuffs and fondles its offspring. Whose 
world was the world of a food-patch enclosed 
in a valley, of a river where he fished, a wood 
where he snared and a hut that received him 
at evening. ... In time it was of these things, 
and these things only, that he spoke to his kin 



and his neighbours ; the weather, the luck of 
his hunting or fishing, the loves, births and 
deaths of his fellows. With the rise and 
growth of a generation that knew only the 
world primitive, the little community lived 
more in the present and less in the past ; men- 
tion of the world that had vanished was even 
less frequent and even more furtive than 

And even if that had not been the case, there 
was no man in the tribe, save Theodore, whose 
mind was the mind of a student ; thus his 
other life, his life of the past, was lived to 
himself alone. It was a vivid memory-life in 
which he delved, turning over its vanished 
treasures — the intangible treasures of dead 
beauty, dead literature, learning and art ; a 
life that at times receded to a dream of the 
impossible and at others was so real and over- 
whelming in its nearness that the everyday 
sweating and toiling and lusting grew vague 
and misty — was a veil drawn over reality. 

Sometimes the two lives clashed suddenly 
and oddly — to the wonder of those who saw 
him. As on the day when his wife had burned 
the evening mess and, raising his hand to 
chastise her carelessness, there flashed before 
his eyes, without warning, a vision of Phillida 


bent delicately over her piano. . . . Not only 
Phillida, but the room, her surroundings ; 
every detail clear to him and the loveliness 
of Chopin in his ears. . . . Furniture, hangings, 
a Louis Seize clock and a Hogarth print — and 
swiftly-seen objects whose very names he had 
forgotten, so long was it since he had made use 
of the household words that once described 
them. The dead world caught him back to 
itself and claimed him ; in the face of its 
reality the present faded, the burned stew 
mattered not and his hand dropped slack to 
his side ; while his wife's mouth, open for a 
wailing protest, hung open in gratified aston- 
ishment. He stared through the open door of 
the hut, not seeing the tufted trees beyond 
it or the curving skyline of the hills ; then, 
taking mechanically his stout wooden spoon, 
he shovelled down his portion without tasting 
it. In his ears, like a song, was the varied 
speech of other days ; of art, of daily mechan- 
ics, of books, of daily politics, of learning. . . . 
Phillida, her curved hands touching the keys, 
gave place to the eager, bespectacled face of a 
scholar who had tried to make clear to him 
the rhythm and beauty of French verse. He 
had forgotten the man's name — long forgotten 
it — but from some odd crevice in his brain a 


voice came echoing down the years, caressing 
the lines as it quoted them : — 

O Corse a cheveux plats, que la France etait belle 
Au soleil de Messidor ! 

His own lips framed the words involuntarily, 
attempting the accent long unheard. " Au 
soleil de Messidor, au soleil de Messidor "... 
and his wife and children stared after him as, 
thrusting the half-eaten bowl aside, he rose 
and went out, muttering gibberish. They 
were not unused to these fits in the house-father, 
to the change in his eyes, the sudden forgetting 
of their presence ; but never lost their fear 
of them as something uncanny and inexpli- 

With these masterful rushes of the past 
came often an infinite melancholy ; which 
was not so much a regret for what had been as 
a sense of the pity of oblivion. So that he 
would lie outstretched with his face to the 
earth, rebellious at the thought that with m\xi 
and a few of his own generation must pass all 
knowledge of human achievement, the very 
memory of that which had once been glorious. 
. . . Not only the memory of actual men whose 
fame had once been blown about the world ; 
but the memory of sound, of music, and of 


marvels in stone, uplifted by the skill of 
generations ; the memory of systems, customs, 
laws, wrought wisely by the hand of experi- 
ence ; and of fanciful people, more real than 
living men and women. With him and his 
like would pass not only Leonardo, Caesar and 
the sun of Messidor, but Rosalind, d'Artagnan 
and Faust ; the heroes, the merrymen, the 
women loved and loving who, created of 
dreams, had shared the dead world with their 
fellows created of dust. . . . Once deemed 
immortal, they had been slain by science as 
surely as their fellows of dust. 

At times he pondered vaguely whether he 
might not save the memory of some of them 
alive by teaching his children to love them ; 
but in the end he realized that, as we grasp 
nothing save through ourselves and our own 
relation to it, the embodied desires and beauty 
of an inconceivable age would be meaningless 
to his young barbarians. 

If he ceased to believe in the survival of 
life as he had known it and a civilization that 
would reach out and claim him, there were 
times when he believed, or almost believed, 
that somewhere in the vastness of the great 
round world a remnant must hold fast to its 


inheritance ; when it was inconceivable that 
all men living could be sunk in brutishness or 
vowed to the creed of utter ignorance. Hunger 
and blind terror — (he knew, for he had seen it) 
— could reduce the highest to the level of the 
beast ; but with the passing of terror and the 
satisfaction of the actual needs of the body, 
there awakens the hunger of the mind. 
Somewhere in the vastness of the great, round 
world must be those who, because they craved 
for more than full stomachs and daily security, 
still clung to the power which is knowledge. 
Little groups and companies that chance had 
brought together or good fortune saved from 
destruction ; resourceful men who had striven 
with surrounding anarchy and worsted it, 
and, having worsted it, were building their 
civilization. . . . And in the very complete- 
ness of surrounding anarchy, the very depth 
of surrounding brutishness, would lie their 
opportunity and chance of supremacy, their 
power of enforcing their will. 

If such groups, such future nations, existed, 
he asked himself how they would build? What 
manner of world they would strive for — 
knowing what they knew ? . . . This, at 
least, was certain : it would not be the world 
of their fathers, of their own youth. They 


had seen their civilization laid waste by the 
agency of science combined with human 
passion ; hence, if they rejected the alterna- 
tive of ignorance and held to their perilous 
treasure of science, their problem was the 
mastery of passion. 

He came to believe that the problem — like 
all others — had been faced in forgotten genera- 
tions ; that old centuries had learned the for- 
gotten lesson that the Ruin was teaching anew. 
To a race that had realized the peril of know- 
ledge there would be two alternatives only ; 
renunciation — the creed of blind ignorance 
and savagery — or the guarding of science as a 
secret treasure, removed from all contact with 
the flame that is human emotion. There had 
been elder and long-past civilizations in which 
knowledge was a mystery, the possession and 
the privilege of a caste ; tradition had come 
down to us of ancient wisdom which might 
only be revealed to the initiate. ... A blind 
fear massacred its scientific men, a wiser fear 
exalted them and set them apart as initiates. 
When science and human emotion between 
them had wrought the extreme of destruction 
and agony, there passed the reckless and ideal- 
istic dream of a world where all might be 
enlightened ; the aim and tradition of a social 


system arising out of ruin would be the setting 
of an iron barrier between science and human 
emotion. That, and not enlightenment of all 
and sundry — the admission of the foolish, the 
impulsive and the selfish to a share in the 
power of destruction. The same need and 
instinct of self-preservation which had inspired 
the taking of the Vow of Ignorance would 
work, in higher and saner minds, for the 
training of a caste — an Egyptian priesthood — 
exempt from blind passion and the common 
impulse of the herd ; a caste trained in silence 
and rigid self-control, its way of attainment 
made hard to the student, the initiate. The 
deadly formulae of mechanics, electricity and 
chemistry would be entrusted only to those 
who had been purged of the daily common 
passions of the multitude ; to those who, by 
trial after trial, had fettered their natural 
impulses and stripped themselves of instinct 
and desire. 

So, in times past, had arisen — and might 
again arise — a scientific priesthood whose 
initiates, to the vulgar, were magicians ; a 
caste that guarded science as a mystery and 
confined the knowledge which is power of 
destruction to those who had been trained not 
to use it. The old lost learning of dead and 


gone kingdoms was a science shielded by its 
devotees from defilement by human emotion ; 
a pure, cold knowledge, set apart and wor- 
shipped for itself. . . . And somewhere in the 
vastness of the great round world the begin- 
nings of a priesthood, a scientific caste, might 
be building unconsciously on the lines of 
ancient wisdom, and laying the foundations 
of yet another Egypt or Chaldaea. A State 
whose growth would be rooted in the mystery 
of knowledge and fear of human passion ; 
whose culture and civilization would be 
moulded by a living and terrible tradition of 
catastrophe through science uncontrolled. . . 
And, so long as the tradition was living and 
terrible, the initiate would stand guard before 
his mysteries, that the world might be saved 
from itself ; only when humanity had for- 
gotten its downfall and ruin had ceased to be 
even a legend, would the barrier between 
science and emotion be withdrawn and know- 
ledge be claimed as the right of the uncon- 
trolled, the multitude. 

Till his brain began to fail him he watched, 
in dumb interest, the life and development of 
the tribe ; learning from it more than he had 
ever known in the world of his youth of the 


eternal foundations on which life in commun- 
ity is built. The unending struggle between 
the desire for freedom, which makes of man a 
rebel, and the need for security, which makes 
of him a citizen, was played before his under- 
standing eyes ; he watched parties, castes and 
priesthoods in the making and, before he died, 
could forecast the beginning of an aristocracy, 
a slave class and a tribal hereditary monarchy. 
In all things man untraditioned held blindly 
to the ways he had forgotten ; instinctively, 
not knowing whither they led, he trod the 
paths that his fathers had trodden before him. 
Most of all he was stirred in his interest and 
pity by the life religious of the world around 
him ; watching it adapt itself, steadily and 
naturally, to the needs of a race in its child- 
hood. As a new generation grew up to its 
heritage of ignorance, the foundations of faith 
were shifted ; as tribal life crystallized, gods 
multiplied inevitably and the Heaven ruled 
by a Supreme Being gave place to a crude 
Valhalla of minor deities. Man, who makes 
God in his own image, can only make that 
image in the likeness of his own highest type ; 
which, in a world divided, insecure and preda- 
tory, is the type of the successful warrior ; the 
Saviour, in a world divided and predatory, 


takes the form of a tribal deity who secures 
to his people the enjoyment of their fields by 
strengthening their hands against the assaults 
and the malice of their enemies. As always 
with those who live in constant fear and in 
hate of one another, the Lord was a Man of 
War ; and when Theodore's first grandson 
was received into the tribe, the deity to whom 
vows were made in the name of the child was 
already a local Jehovah. Faith saw him as a 
tribal Lord of Hosts, the celestial captain of 
his worshippers ; if his worshippers walked 
humbly and paid due honour to his name he 
would stand before them in the day of battle 
and protect them with his shield invisible — 
would draw the sword of the Lord and of 
Gideon, show himself mightier than the priests 
of Baal and overthrow the altars of the Philis- 

A god whose attributes are those of a 
warrior, of necessity is not omnipotent ; since 
he fights, his authority is partial — assailed 
and disputed by those against whom he draws 
the sword. A race in its childhood evolved 
the deity it needed, a champion and upholder 
of his own people ; to the tribal warrior the 
god to whom an enemy prayed for success was 
a rival of his own protector. ... So the mind 


primitive argued, more or less directly and 
consciously, making God in its image, for its 
own needs and purposes ; and even in Theo- 
dore's lifetime the deities worshipped by men 
from a distance were not those of his own 
country. The jurisdiction of the gods was 
limited and the stranger, of necessity, paid 
homage to an alien spirit who took pleasure in 
an unfamiliar ritual. 

In his lifetime the darkness of Heaven was 
unbroken and there emergeu no god whose 
attribute was mercy and long-suffering ; the 
Day of Judgment was still too recent, its 
memory too clear and overwhelming, to admit 
of the idea of a Divine Love or a Father who 
had pity on his children. Fear, and fear only, 
led his people to the feet of the Lord. The 
God of Vengeance of the first generation and 
the tribal superman who gradually ousted him 
from his pride of place were alike wrathful, 
jealous of their despotism and greedily expec- 
tant of mouth-honour. Hence, propitiation 
and ignorance were the whole religious duty 
of man, and the rites wherewith deity was duly 
worshipped were rites of crawling flattery and 
sacrifice. . . . The blood of sinners was accep- 
table in the sight of Heaven ; the Lord Al- 
mighty had destroyed a world that he might 


slake his vengeance, and his lineal descendants, 
the celestial warriors, rejoiced in the slaughter 
of those who had borne arms against their 
worshippers — in the end, rejoiced in blood for 
itself and the savour of the burnt sacrifice. 
And a race cowed spiritually (lest worse befall 
it) evolved its rites of sacrificial cruelty, 
paying tribute to a god who took ceaseless 
pleasure in the humbling of his people and 
could only be appeased by their suffering. 

There were seasons and regions where 
abasement produced its own reaction ; when, 
for all the savour of sacrificial cruelty, the 
gods remained deaf to the prayers of their 
worshippers, delivered them into the hands of 
their enemies or chastened them with famine 
and pestilence. Hope of salvation beaten out 
of them, the worshippers, like rats driven into 
a corner, ceased to grovel and turned on the 
tyrants who had failed them ; and the Lord 
Almighty Who made the heavens, shrunk to 
the dimensions of a local fetish, was upbraided 
and beaten in effigy. 

Since it seemed that the new world must in 
all things follow in the ways of the old, the 
gentler deities who delighted not in blood would 
in due time reveal themselves to man grown 
capable of mercy. As the memory of judg- 


ment faded with the centuries — as the earth 
waxed fruitful and life was kindlier — human- 
ity would dare to lift its head from the dust 
and the life religious would be more than blind 
cringing to a despot. The Heaven of the 
future would find room for gods who were 
gracious and friendly ; for white Baldurs and 
Olympians who walk with men and instruct 
them ; and there would arise prophets whose 
message was not vengeance, but a call to 
" rejoice in the Lord." . . . And in further 
time, it might be, the God who is a Spirit . . . 
and a Christ. . . . The rise, the long, slow 
upward struggle of the soul of man was as 
destined and inevitable as its fall ; all human 
achievement, material or spiritual, was founded 
in the baseness of mire and clay — and rose 
towering above its foundations. As the State, 
which had its origin in no more than common 
fear and hatred, in the end would be honoured 
without thought of gain and its flag held 
sacred by its sons ; so Deity, beginning as 
vengeance personified, would advance to a 
spiritual Law and a spiritual Love. When 
the power of loving returned to the race, it 
would cease to abase itself and lift up its 
eyes to a Father — endowing its Deity with 
that which was best in itself ; when it achieved 


and took pleasure in its own thoughts and the 
works of its hands, it would see in the Highest 
not the Vengeance that destroys but the 
Spirit that heals and creates. 

Meanwhile the foundation of the life reli- 
gious was, and must be, the timorous virtue 
of ignorance, of humble avoidance of inquiry 
into the dreadful secrets of God. In Theodore's 
youth he had turned from the orthodox 
religions, which repelled by what seemed to 
him a fear of knowledge and inquiry ; now he 
understood that man, being by nature des- 
tructive, can survive only when his powers of 
destruction are limited ; and that the ignor- 
ance enjoined by priest and bigot had been — 
and would be again — an essential need of the 
race, an expression of the will to live. . . . 
The jealous God who guards his secrets is the 
god of the race that survives. 

How many times — (he would wonder) — 
how many times since the world began to spin 
has man, in his eager search for truth, rushed 
blindly through knowledge to the ruin that 
means chaos and savagery ? How many 
times, in his devout, instinctive longing to 
know his own nature and the workings of the 
Infinite Mind that created him has he wrought 
himself weapons that turned to his own des- 


traction ? . . . Ignorance of the powers and 
forces of nature is a condition of human exis- 
tence ; as necessary to the continued life of 
the race as the breathing of air or the taking of 
food into the body. Behind the bench of 
zealots who judged Galileo lay the dumb race- 
memory of ruin — ruin, perhaps, many times 
repeated. They stood, the zealots, for that 
ignorance which, being interpreted, is life ; 
and Galileo for that knowledge which, being 
interpreted, is death. . . . 

Many times, it might be, since the world 
began to spin, had men called upon the rocks 
to cover them from the devils their own hands 
had fashioned ; many times, it might be, a 
remnant had put from it the knowledge it 
dared not trust itself to wield — that it might 
not fall upon its own weapons, but live, just 
live, like the beasts ! Behind the injunction 
to devout ignorance, behind the ecclesiastical 
hatred of science and distrust of brain, lay 
more than prejudice and bigotry ; the pre- 
judice and bigotry were but superficial and 
outward workings of instinct and the first law 
of all, the Law of Self-Preservation. 

With his eyes open to the workings of that 
law, folk-tale and myth had long become real 
to him — since he saw them daily in the making. 


. . . The dragon that wasted a country with 
its breath — how else should a race that knew 
naught of chemistry account for the devilry 
of gas ? And he understood now, why the 
legend of Icarus was a legend of disaster, and 
Prometheus, who stole fire from Heaven, was 
chained to eternity for his daring ; he knew, 
also, why the angel with a flaming sword 
barred the gate of Eden to those who had tasted 
of knowledge. . . . The story of the Garden, 
of the Fall of Man, was no more the legend of 
his youth ; he read it now, with his opened 
eyes, as a livid and absolute fact. A fact told 
plainly as symbol could tell it by a race that 
had put from it all memory of the science 
whereby it was driven from its ancient para- 
dise, its garden of civilization. . . . How 
many times since the world began to spin had 
man mastered the knowledge that should 
make him like unto God, and turned, in 
agony of mind and body, from a power synony- 
mous with death ? 

And how many times more, he wondered — 
how many times more ? 

Theodore Savage lived to be a very old man; 
how old in years he could not have said, since, 
long before his memory failed him, he had lost 


his count of time. But for fully a decade 
before he died he went humped and rheumatic, 
leaning on a stick, was blear-eyed, toothless 
and wizened ; he had outlived all those who 
had begun the new world with him, and a son 
of his grandson was of those who — when the 
time came — dug a trench for his bones and 
shovelled loose earth on his head. 

He had no lack of care in his extreme old 
age — in part perhaps because the tribe 
grew to hold him in awe that increased with 
the years ; the sole survivor of the legendary 
age that preceded the Ruin and Downfall of 
Man, he was feared in spite of his helplessness. 
He alone of his little community could remem- 
ber the Ruin with any comprehension of its 
causes ; he alone possessed in silence a share 
of that hidden and forbidden knowledge which 
had brought flaming judgment on the world. 
Here and there in the countryside were grey- 
headed men, his juniors by years, who could 
remember vaguely the horrors of a distant 
childhood — the sky afire, the crash of falling 
masonry, the panic, the lurking and the starv- 
ing. These things they could remember like 
a nightmare past . . . but only remember, 
not explain. Behind Theodore's bald fore- 
head and dimmed, oozing eyes lay the under- 


standing of why and wherefore denied to those 
who dwelt beside him. 

For this reason Theodore Savage was 
treated with deference in the days of his senile 
helplessness. As he sat, half-blind, in the sun 
by the door of his hut, no one ever failed to 
greet him with respect in passing ; while in 
most the greeting was more than a token of 
respect or kindliness — the sign and result of a 
nervous desire to propitiate. In the end he 
was credited with a knowledge of unholy arts, 
and the children of the tribe avoided and 
shrank from him, frightened by the gossip of 
their elders ; so that village mothers found 
him useful as a bogy, arresting the tantrums 
of unruly brats by threats of calling in Old 

Even in his lifetime legends clustered thick 
about him, and sickness or accident to man or 
beast was ascribed to the glance of his pur- 
blind eye or the malice of his vacant brain ; 
while there was once — though he never knew 
or suspected it — an agitated and furtive dis- 
cussion as to whether, for the good of the 
community, he should not be knocked on the 
head. The furtive discussion ended in dis- 
cussion only — not because the advocates of 
mercy were numerous, but because no man was 


willing to lay violent hands on a wizard, for 
fear of what might befall him ; and, the inter- 
lude over, the tribe relapsed into its customary 
timid respect for its patriarch, its customary 
practice of ensuring his goodwill by politeness 
and small offerings of victuals. These added 
to the old man's comfort in his latter years — 
nor had he any suspicion of the motive that 
secured him both deference and dainties. 

With his death the local legends increased 
and multiplied ; the distorted, varied myths 
of the Ruin of Man and its causes showing an 
inevitable tendency to group themselves around 
one striking and mysterious figure, to make of 
that figure a cause and a personification of 
the Great Disaster. Theodore Savage, to those 
who came after, was Merlin, Frankenstein 
and Adam ; the fool who tasted of forbidden 
fruit, the magician whose arts had brought 
ruin on a world, the devil-artisan whose un- 
holy skill had created monsters that destroyed 
him. His grave was an awesome spot, apart 
from other graves, which the timorous avoided 
after dark ; and, long after all trace of it had 
vanished, there clung to the neighbourhood a 
tradition of haunting and mystery. ... To 
his children's children his name was the sym- 
bol of a dead civilization ; a civilization that 


had passed so completely from the ken of 
living man that its lost achievements, the 
manner of its ending, could only be expressed 
in symbol. 


A Complete 
Catalogue of Booths 
Published by 
Leonard Parsons, Ltd. 


Telephone No. 
Museum 964. 


Telegraphic Address : 
" Erudite, Westcent, London 




New and Forthcoming Works .... 3 

Subject Index ....... 8 

Index to Titles and Authors . . . .14 

NOTE — All prices of books quoted in this Catalogue are net. 




Fyfe. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

Mr. Hamilton Fyfe is an attentive social observer. He sees that 
the growing distaste of the more intellectual kind of women for 
motherhood is bound to have disturbing consequences. Just as in 
the past men sought in " gay " society distraction from aggravated 
domesticity, so now they are liable to crave for domestic joys as a 
relief from childless homes. 

Without taking sides Mr. Fyfe describes such a case with an 
ever-present humour. He does not plead or preach : he is content 
to set forth problems of personality which have a vivid application 
in the everyday lives of us all. 


Selincourt. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

Mr. Havelock Ellis writes : " This novel seems to be, in some 
ways, his most notable achievement." 

Observer. — " This is the best novel that Mr. de Selincourt has 
yet published." 

Pearl. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

This is a story of New York's Ghetto, showing the Ghetto 
family as it lives from day to day. 

The thing has never been done before. It is the first novel 
setting forth the whole world of the Ghetto and the emergence 
of the younger generation into the larger world of American life. 

It has the Potash and Perlmutter laugh, and the tears of the 
sufferers of all ages. 

A work of genuine humour and understanding realism. 




Nora Kent. Crown 8vo, 8/6. 

In reviewing Miss Kent's previous novel, " The Greater Dawn," 
Land and Water said : " Mrs. Florence Barclay and Miss Ethel M. 
Dell have cause to tremble." Her new story has the same fragrance 
and delicacy of sentiment that attracted readers in " The Greater 
Dawn," and will, we feel confident, increase their number. 

GARTH, by Mrs. J. 0. Arnold. Crown 8vo, 8/6. 

Times. — "A thoroughly well-told ghost story. . . . It is admit 
tedly exceptional and inexplicable, andin that lies its thrill." 

Sheffield Telegraph. — " A very clever and exciting piece of work. 
Good ghost stories are none too common, and this one is very 


Fyfe. Demy 8vo, 12/6. 

Claudius Clear in the British Weekly : "Mr. Hamilton Fyfe 
has written a remarkable volume. ... It is needless to say that 
the book is frank and able and interesting." 

H. M. T. in the Nation and Athenaeum : " I hope Mr. Fyfe's 
book will be widely read, because I think it must be unique." 

H. W. Nevinson in the Daily Herald : "A very remarkable and 
exhilarating book." 

DIVORCE (To-day and To-morrow), by C. 
Gasquoine Hartley. Author of " The Truth about 
Woman," " Sex Education and National Health." 
Crown 8vo, 6/-. 

This book deals with many aspects ot the subject. It shows 
historically how the present divorce laws developed and how 
closely they are still allied to the ancient ecclesiastical Canon Law. 
It proves that most Protestant countries have far more liberal 
laws, and that, but for accidents in the lives of our kings, our own 
laws would have been reformed in the 1 6th century. The harmful 



way in which the laws work against morality and the family is 
shown by an analysis of a number of present-day divorce suits. 
The present position in regard to proposals for an extension of the 
grounds of divorce is examined, and a contrast is drawn between 
our petrified laws and the liberal reforms introduced by those of 
English stock in the dominions over the seas. The author finally 
brings forward her own proposals and explains her own moral 
standards. She declares that ecclesiastical defenders of the present 
law do not understand the spirit of the Founder of Christianity. 

the Late James A. Rentoul y K.C., LL.D. Edited by 
L. Rentoul. Demy 8vo, 18/-. 

Times. — " Many racy anecdotes." 

Daily Telegraph. — " Good stories abound." 

Daily News. — " Racy and warm-hearted memories of a varied 
life . . . should be widely read." 

MY YEARS OF EXILE, by Eduard Bernstein. 
Translated by Bernard Miall. Demy 8vo, 15/-. 

Times. — " Herr Bernstein is a calm and dispassionate observer 
. . . full of simple narrative and naive reflection." 

Morning Post. — " Of this country and its people he gives a very 
shrewd and sympathetic analysis . . . worth recording." 


by Dr. Elizabeth MacBean Ross. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

Daily Mail.' — "A really admirable and entertaining study." 
Medical Times. — " An attractive volume which should make a 
wide appeal." 

Geographical Journal. — "This book possesses a permanent value." 

tion Problems of the Eretz - Israel (Palestine) 
Foundation Fund. Edited by The Publicity Depart- 
ment of the "Keren Ha-Yesod." Crown 8vo, 2/-. 




BREAKING POINT, by Jeffery E. Jeffery, with 
Foreword by G. D. H. Cole. Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

This book is an attempt to consider the future of civilisation in 
the light of the present world crisis. It speaks much for Mr. 
JefFery's optimism that while he manfully faces his facts and never 
in any way evades the issues, his book ends on a hopeful note. 
He believes that now is the time for mankind to turn the next 
corner on the road of progress and that ours is the opportunity to 
seize or to throw away. 

SOCIETY, by /. A. Hobson. Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

Perhaps the most telling argument used against drastic schemes 
of economic reconstruction is that which holds that any system of 
public ownership and representative government of essential indus- 
tries would break down because it would fail to create the neces- 
sary incentives to production and distribution. In this book Mr. 
Hobson examines this important question in detail. He analyses 
these " incentives " both from the producing and the consuming 
side and proposes many ways b^y which they might be not only 
retained but stimulated. He provides satisfactory answers to such 
questions as : Will the present standards of management, skill, 
workmanship and factory discipline be improved ? Will the con- 
sumers benefit ? Will people save ? '%. e. Will sufficient fresh capital 
be forthcoming for the further developments of industry ? 

It is a valuable book because it successfully counters the argument 
which has, on appearance at least, some show of reason behind it. 

Davies, L.C.C., and Dorothy Evans (formerly 
Organiser, Land Nationalisation Society). 
Crown 8vo, 4/6 

In the past the importance of the land problem has been neglected, 
but now the changed conditions brought about by the war call 



for increased production at home. This book shows that the 
present system of land ownership impedes production on every 
hand and stands in the way of almost every vital reform. 

The authors contend that no solution of the serious problems 
that confront the community can be found until the nation itself 
becomes the ground landlord of the country in which it lives. 
They put forward a scheme for nationalisation complete in finan- 
cial and administrative details, providing for the participation 
of various sections of the community in the management of 
the land. 

PROLETCULT, by Eden and Cedar Paul (authors 
of "Creative Revolution"). Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

Education to-day, availing itself of the widest means, employ- 
ing the press and the cinemas no less effectively than the schools, 
imposes upon the community the idiology, the cultured outlook, 
of the ruling class. 

The authors contend that among the working classes there are 
many who strive for the realisation of a new culture. 

Proletcult (proletarian culture) organises and consolidates the 
thought-forces which will complete the overthrow of Capitalism. 
It will then inaugurate and build up the economic and social, the 
artistic and intellectual life of the " new era." This great and 
far-reaching contemporary movement is the theme of "Proletcult." 

OPEN DIPLOMACY, by E. D. Morel. Crown 
8vo, 4/6. 

" Foreign Policy" and " Secret Diplomacy " continue to be terms 
invested with some kind of mysterious attributes. In this volume 
Mr. Morel endeavours to simplify a problem which still remains 
complicated and obscure to the general public. He shows us 
" foreign policy " as an influence working in our everyday lives. 
He brings " diplomacy " into our homes, and serves it up as a 
dish upon the breakfast table. He depicts us as helpless automata 
moving blindfolded in a world of make-believe until we secure an 
effective democratic control over the management of our foreign 



Williams. Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

Morning Post. — "An exceedingly shrewd and lively commentator 
on the significance of events . . . decidedly valuable." 

Daily Herald. — "We hope this book will have a wide circulation, 
as it will enable all who read it to realise the difficulties before us." 


by Robert Dell (author of" My Second Country"). 
Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

"Personal Liberty in the Socialist State" is an old controversy, 
and the publishers feel that Mr. Dell's new volume will evoke 
widespread interest and discussion. 

The author shows that Socialism is not necessarily incompatible 
with personal freedom, or with individualism properly understood, 
but is rather an essential condition of both. He contends that 
economic freedom is unattainable under Capitalist conditions by 
any but the owners of capital and that individual liberty is being 
threatened by political democracy, which is becoming a tyranny 
of the majority. 


E. Green. Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

Times. — " His advocacy is clear and detailed, and his criticisms 
pointed . . . worth noting." 

Glasgow Herald. — " Brightly and vigorously written by a shrewd 




Monro. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 




(Women), by R. Brimley Johnson. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 


(Men), by R. Brimley Johnson. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 


WHEELS, 1920 (Fifth Cycle), edited by Edith 
Sitwell. With cover design by Gino Severini. 
Crown 8vo, 6/-. 


CHILDREN'S TALES (from the Russian Ballet), 
by Edith Sitwell. With 8 four-colour reproductions 
of scenes from the Ballet, by /. de B. Lockyer. 
Crown 4to, 12/6. 


Fyfe. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

THE WIDOW'S CRUSE, by Hamilton Fyfe. 
Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

Pearl. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

Selincourt. Crown 8vo, 8/6. 


Nora Kent. Crown 8vo, 8/6. 



THE GREATER DAWN, by Nora Kent. 
Crown 8vo, 7/-. 

GARTH, by Mrs. J. 0. Arnold. Crown 8vo, 8/6. 

THE BURIED TORCH, by Coralie Stanton and 
Heath Hosken. Crown 8vo, 7/-. 

'Thomson. Crown 8vo, 7/-. 

SIDE ISSUES, by Jeffery E. Jeffery (author of 
" Servants of the Guns "). Crown 8vo, 6/-. 

THE INVISIBLE SUN, by Bertram Munn. 
Crown 8vo, 7/6. 

Clayton Greene. Crown 8vo, 7/-. 



Hamilton Fyfe. Demy 8vo, 12/6. 

James A. Rentoul, K.C., LL.D. Demy 8vo, 18/-. 

MY YEARS OF EXILE, by Eduard Bernstein. 
Translated by Bernard Miall. Demy 8vo, 15/-. 

tion Problems of the Palestine Foundation Fund. 
Crown 8vo, 2/-. 






Crown 8vo, 4/6. 

Frank Hodges. Second Impression. 

SHIP, by William Paine. 


AFTER THE PEACE, by H. N. Braihford. 

TRADE, by Arthur Greenwood. 


Philip Snowden. 


by /. Ramsay MacDonald. 

DIRECT ACTION, by William Mellor. 

E. Green. 



BREAKING POINT, by Jeffery E. Jeffery, with 
Foreword by G. D. H. Cole. 

PROLETCULT, by Eden and Cedar Paul 




Davies and Dorothy Evans. 


by Robert Dell. 

SOCIETY, by /. A. Hobson. 

OPEN DIPLOMACY, by E. D. Morel. 



/. Ramsay MacDonald. Crown 8vo, 2/6. 

RELIGION IN POLITICS, by Arthur Ponsortby. 
Crown 8vo, 6/-. 

by M. Beer. Crown 8vo, 5/-. 

L. S. Woolf. Crown 8vo, 5/-. 


H. Cole, M.A. Crown 8vo, 6/-. 

DIVORCE (To-day and Tomorrow), by C. 
Gasquoine Hartley. Crown 8vo, 6/-. 




HEALTH, by C. Gasquoine Hartley. Crown 8vo, 

Masterman. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 


Raymond W. Needham. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 


Funnel/, F.S.I. Demy 8vo, 15/-. 


Edgard Milhaud. Translated by H. J. S terming. 
Crown 8vo, 8/6. 

RED RUBBER, by E. D. Morel. Crown 8vo, 

Morel. Crown 8vo, 6/-. 



Eden Phillpotts. With 1 6 three-colour illustrations by 
A. T. Benthall, tipped on mounts. Buckram, crown 
4to, 21/-. 


by Dr. Elizabeth MacBean Ross. Crown 8vo, 7/6. 






After the Peace . . .11 

Brailsford, H. N. 
Bishop's Masquerade, The . 10 

Thomson, W. Harold 
Black Man's Burden . • >3 

Morel, E. D. 
Breaking Point . . 6, 11 

Jeffery, Jeffery E. 
Buried Torch, The . . 10 

Stanton, Coralie and 

Hosken, Heath 
Children's Tales (from the 
Russian Ballet) . . 9 

Sitwell, Edith 
Corporation Profits Tax, The 13 

Xeedham, Raymond W. 
Direct Action . . .11 

Mellor, William 
Divorce — To-day and To- 
morrow . . . 4, 12 

Hartley, C. Gasquoine 
Economic Motives in the New 
Society . . . 6, 12 

Hobson, J. A. 
Fruit of the Tree, The . 

Fyfe, Hamilton 
Garth .... 

Arnold, Mrs. J. O. 
Great Rebuilding, The 

Funnell, H. Denston 
Greater Dawn, The . .10 

Kent, Nora 
Guild Socialism — Restated . 12 

Cole, G. D. H. 
Invisible Sun, The . . 10 

Munn, Bertram 
Keren Ha- Yesod Book, The 5,10 

Edited by the Keren Ha- 

Yesod Publicity Depart- 
Labour and National Finance 11 

Snowden, Philip 



Lady Doctor in Bakhtiari- 
land, A . . . 5. '3 

Ross, Elizabeth MacBean 

Land Nationalisation — A 
Practical Scheme . 6, 12 

Davies, Emil and Evans, 

Life and Teaching of Karl 
Marx . . . .12 

Beer, M. 
Making of an Optimist, The 4,10 

Fyfe, Hamilton 
March Towards Socialism, 
The 13 

Milhaud, Edgard 
Miriam and the Philistines . 10 

Greene, Alice Clayton 
My Years of Exile . 5, 10 

Bernstein, Eduard 
Nationalisation of the Mines 11 

Hodges, Frank 
New Agricultural Policy, A. 8, 11 

Green, F. E. 
New Aristocracy of Comrade- 
ship, A . . . .11 

Paine, William 
New Labour Outlook, The 8 

Williams, Robert 
New Liberalism, The . . 13 

Masterman, C. F. G. 
Open Diplomacy . . 7, 12 

Morel, E. D. 
Parliament and Democracy . 12 

MacDonald, J. R. 
Policy for the Labour Party, An 

MacDonald, J. R. 
Proletcult . . . 7, 11 

Paul, Eden and Cedar 
Public Ownership of the 
Liquor Trade . . .11 

Greenwood, Arthur 



Quest of Michael Harland, 
The .... 3, 9 

Kent, Nora 
Red Rubber . . .13 

Morel, E. D. 
Religion in Politics . . 12 

Ponsonby, Arthur 
Sarah and Her Daughter 3, 9 

Pearl, Bertha 
Sex Education and National 
Health . . . .13 

Hartley, C. Gasquoine 
Side Issues . . . .10 

Jeffery, Jeffery E. 
Socialism and Co-operation . 12 

Woolf, L. S. 
Socialism and Personal 
Liberty . . . 8, 12 

Dell, Robert 
SomeContemporary Novelists 
(Men) .... 9 
Johnson, R. Brimley 


Some ContemporaryNovelists 
(Women) . . . .9 

Johnson, R. Brimley 

Some Contemporary Poets . 8 
Monro, Harold 

Stray Thoughts and Mem- 
ories . . . 5, 10 
Rentoul, James A. 

West Country Pilgrimage, 

A 13 

Phillpotts, Eden 

What I saw in Russia . .11 

Lansbury, George 

Wheels, 1920 (Fifth Cycle) . 9 
Edited by Sitwell, Edith 

Widow's Cruse, The . . 9 

Fyfe, Hamilton 

Women and Children . 3, 9 

S&incourt, Hugh de 


Arnold, Mrs. J. O. . 4, 10 

Garth. 8/6 
Beer, M 12 

Life and Teaching of Karl 

Marx. 6/- 
Bernstein, Eduard . 5, 10 

My Years of Exile. 15/- 
Brailsford, H. N. . . .11 

After the Peace. 4/6 
Cole, G. D. H. . . . 12 

Guild Socialism — Re- 
stated. 6/- 
Davies, Emil . . 6, 12 

Land Nationalisation. 4/6 
Dell, Robert . . 8, 12 

Socialism and Personal 

Liberty. 4/6 
Evans, Dorothy . . 6, 12 

Land Nationalisation. 


Funnell, H. Denston . . 13 

The Great Rebuilding. 

Fyfe, Hamilton . 3, 4, 9, 10 

The Fruit of the Tree. 7/6 
The Making of an Opti- 
mist. 12/6 
The Widow's Cruse. 7/6 

Green, F. E. . . 8, 11 

A New Agricultural 
Policy. 4/6 

Greene, Alice Clayton . . 10 

Miriam and the Philis- 
tines. 7/- 

Greenwood, Arthur . .11 

Public Ownership of the 
Liquor Trade. 4/6 




Hartley, C. Gasquoine . 4, 12, 13 
Divorce — To-day and To- 
morrow. 6/- 
Sex Education and 
National Health. 6/- 

Hobson, J. A. . . 6, 12 

Economic Motives in the 
New Society. 4/6 

Hodges, Frank . . .11 

Nationalisation of the 
Mines. 4/6 

Hosken, Heath . . .10 

The Buried Torch. 7/- 

Jeffery, Jeffery E. . 6, 10, 11 

Breaking Point. 4/6 
Side Issues. 6/- 

Johnson, R. Brimley . . 9 

Some Contemporary 

Novelists (Men). 7/6 
Some Contemporary 

Novelists (Women). 7/6 

Kent, Nora . . . 3, 9, 10 

The Greater Dawn. 7/- 
The Quest of Michael 
Harland. 8/6 

Keren Ha-Yesod, Publicity 
Department . . 5, 10 

The Keren Ha-Yesod 
Book. 2/. 

Lansbury, George . .11 

What I saw in Russia. 46 

MacDonald, J. Ramsay 11, 12 
Parliament and Demo- 
cracy. 3/6 

A Policy for the Labour 
Party. 46 

Masterman, C. F. G. . .13 

The New Liberalism. 76 

Mellor, William . . .11 

Direct Action. 4/6 

Milhaud, Edgard . . .13 

The March towards 
Socialism. 8 6 

Monro, Harold . . .8 

Some Contemporary 

Poets. 7/6. 

II, 13 


Morel, E. D. . .7 

Black Man's Burden. 
Open Diplomacy. 4/6 
Red Rubber. 6/- 

Munn, Bertram 

The Invisible Sun. 7/6 

Needham, Raymond W. 

The Corporation Profits 
Tax. 7/6 

Paine, William 

A New Aristocracy of 
Comradeship. 4/6 

Paul, Eden and Cedar . 7, 

Proletcult. 4/6 

Pearl, Bertha . . 3, 

Sarah and Her Daughter. 

Phillpotts, Eden . 

A West Country Pilgrim- 
age. 21/- 

Ponsonby, Arthur 

Religion in Politics. 5/- 

Rentoul, James A. . 5, 

Stray Thoughts and 
Memories. 18/- 

Ross, Elizabeth MacBean 5, 
A Lady Doctor in Bakh- 
tiariland. 7/6 

Selincourt, Hugh de . 3 

Women and Children. 8/6 

Sitwell, Edith 

Children's Taies (from 
the Russian Ballet). 12/6 
Wheels — 1920. 6/- 

Snowden, Philip . 

Labour and National 
Finance. 4/6 

Stanton, Coralie . 

The Buried Torch. 7/- 

Thomson, W. Harold . 

The Bishop's Masquer- 
ade. 7/- 

Williams, Robert . 8, 

The New Labour Out- 
look. 4/6 

Woolf, L. S 

Socialism and Co-opera- 
tion. 5/- 





[Printed in Great Britain by R. Clay £f Sons, Ltd., Bungay, Sttjffolk.