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BROWN, THOMSON & GO.,
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
PIGS IN CLOVER
THE SPHINX'S LAWYER
THE HEART OF A CHILD
AN INCOMPLEAT ETONIAN
LET THE ROOF FALL IN
JOSEPH IN JEOPARDY
A BABE OF BOHEMIA
THE STORY BEHIND THE VERDICT
AUTHOR OF " PIGS IN CLOVER," " THE HEART OF A CHILD,
"THE STORY BEHIND THE VERDICT." ETC.
COPYRIGHT, 1916. BY
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
A COUPLE of years ago, on the very verge of the ill-
ness that subsequently overwhelmed me, I took a
small furnished house in Pineland. I made no in-
spection of the place, but signed the agreement at
the instance of the local house-agent, who proved
little less inventive than the majority of his con-
Three months of neuritis, only kept within
bounds by drugs, had made me comparatively indif-
ferent to my surroundings. It was necessary for
me to move because I had become intolerant of the
friends who exclaimed at my ill looks, and the
acquaintances who failed to notice any alteration
in me. One sister whom I really loved, and who
really loved me, exasperated me by constant visits
and ill-concealed anxiety. Another irritated me
little less by making light of my ailment and speak-
ing of neuritis in an easy familiar manner as one
might of toothache or a corn. I had no natural
sleep, and if I were not on the borderland of in-
sanity, I was at least within sight of the home park
of inconsequence. Reasoned behaviour was no
longer possible, and I knew it was necessary for me
to be alone.
I do not wish to recall this bad time nor the
worse that ante-dated my departure, when I was
at the mercy of venal doctors and indifferent
nurses, dependent on grudged bad service and over-
paid inattention, taking a so-called rest cure. But
I do wish to relate a most curious circumstance, or
set of circumstances, that made my stay in Pine-
land memorable, and left me, after my sojourn
there, obsessed with the story of which I found the
beginning on the first night of my arrival, and the
end in the long fevered nights that followed. I
myself hardly know how much is true and
how much is fiction in this story; for what the
cache of letters is responsible, and for what the
The house at Pineland was called Carbies, and it
was haunted for me from the first by Margaret
Capel and Gabriel Stanton. Quite early in my stay
I must have contemplated writing about them,
knowing that there was no better way of ridding
myself of their phantoms, than by trying to make
them substantial in pen and ink. I had their letters
and some scraps of an unfinished diary to help me,
a notebook with many blank pages, the garrulous
reticence of the village apothecary, and the evidence
of the sun-washed God's Acre by the old church.
To begin at the beginning.
It was a long drive from Pineland station to
Carbies. I had sent my maid in advance, but there
was no sign of her when my ricketty one-horse
fly pulled up at the garden gate of a suburban villa
of a house " standing high " it is true, and with
" creeper climbing about its white-painted walls."
But otherwise with no more resemblance to the ex-
quisite and secluded cottage ornee I had in my mind,
and that the house-agent had portrayed in his let-
ters, than a landscape by Matise to one by Ruysdael.
I was too tired then to be greatly disappointed.
Two servants had been sent in by my instructions,
and the one who opened the door to me proved to
be a cheerful-looking young person of the golly wog
type, with a corresponding cap, who relieved
me of my hand luggage and preceded me to the
drawing-room, where wide windows and a bright
fire made me oblivious for the moment of the
shabby furniture, worn carpet, and mildewed wall-
paper. Tea was brought to me in a cracked pot
on a veneered tray. The literary supplement of
The Times and an American magazine were all I
had with which to occupy myself. And they proved
insufficient. I began to look about me; and
became curiously and almost immediately conscious
that my new abode must have been inhabited by a
sister or brother of the pen. The feeling was not
psychic. The immense writing-table stood side-
ways in the bow-window as only " we " know how
to place it. The writing-chair looked sufficiently
luxurious to tempt me to an immediate trial ; there
were a footstool and a big waste-paper basket; all
incongruous with the cheap and shabby drawing-
room furniture. Had only my MS. paper been
to hand, ink in the substantial glass pot, and my
twin enamel pens available, I think I should then
and there have abjured all my vows of rest and
called upon inspiration to guide me to a fresh
" Work whilst ye have the light " had been my
text for months; driving me on continually. It
seemed possible, even then, that the time before
me was short. I left the fire and my unfinished
tea. Instinctively I found the words rising to my
lips, " I could write here." That was the way a
place always struck me. Whether I could or could
not write there? Seated in that convenient easy-
chair I felt at once that my shabby new surround-
ings were sympathetic to me, that I fitted in and
was at home in them.
I had come straight from a narrow London
house where my bedroom overlooked a mews, and
my sitting-room other narrow houses with a road-
way between. Here, early in March, from the
wide low window I saw yellow gorse overgrowing
a rough and unkempt garden. Beyond the garden
more flaming gorse on undulating common land,
then hills, and between them, unmistakable, the
sombre darkness of the sea. Up here the air was
very still, but the smell of the gorse was strong with
the wind from that distant sea. I wished for pens
and paper at first; then drifted beyond wishes,
dreaming I knew not of what, but happier and more
content than I had been for some time past. The
air was healing, so were the solitude and silence. My
silence and solitude were interrupted, my content
came abruptly to an end.
I did not rise. In those bad neuritis days rising
was not easy. I stared at the intruder, and he at
me. But I guessed in a minute to what his unwel-
come presence was due. My anxious, dearly
beloved, and fidgetty sister had found out the name
of the most noted ^sculapius of the neighbourhood
and had notified him of my arrival, probably had
given him a misleading and completely erroneous
account of my illness, certainly asked him to call.
I found out afterwards I was right in all my
guesses save one. This was not the most noted
^Esculapius of the neighbourhood, but his more
youthful partner. Dr. Lansdowne was on his
holiday. Dr. Kennedy had read my sister's letter
and was now bent upon carrying out her instruc-
tions. As I said, we stared at each other in the
"You have only just come?" he ventured then.
" I've been here about an hour," I replied " a
" I had your sister's letter," he said apologetic-
ally, if a little awkwardly, as he advanced into the
" She wrote you, then ? "
" Oh yes ! I've got the letter somewhere." He
felt in his pocket and failed to find it.
" Won't you sit down? "
There was no chair near the writing-table save
the one upon which I sat. A further reason why I
knew my predecessor here had been a writer ! Dr.
Kennedy had to fetch one, and I took shallow
stock of him meanwhile. A tall and not ill-look-
ing man in the late thirties or early forties, he had
on the worst suit of country tweeds I had ever
seen and incongruously well-made boots. Now he
sprawled silently in the selected chair, and I waited
for his opening. Already I was nauseated with
doctors and their methods. In town I had seen
everybody's favourite nostrum-dispenser, and none
of them had relieved me of anything but my hardly
earned cash. I mean to present a study of them
one day, to get something back from what I have
given. Dr. Kennedy did not accord with the black-
coated London brigade, and his opening was
" How long have you been feeling unwell ? "
That was what I expected, this was the common
gambit. Dr. Kennedy sat a few minutes without
speaking at all. Then he asked me abruptly :
" Did you know Mrs. Capel ? "
" Margaret Capel. You knew she lived here,
didn't you ? That it was here it all happened ? "
" Then you don't know ? " He got up from his
chair in a fidgetty sort of way and went over to the
other window. " I hoped you knew her, that she
had been a friend of yours. I hoped so ever since
I had your sister's letter. Carbies! It seemed so
strange to be coming here again. I can't believe
it is ten years ago ; it is all so vivid ! " He came
back and sat down again. " I ought not to talk
about her, but the whole room and house are so
full of memories. She used to sit, just as you are
sitting now, for hours at a time, dreaming. Some-
times she would not speak to me at all. I had to
go away; I could see I was intruding."
The cynical words on my lips remained unut-
tered. He was tall, and if his clothes had fitted
him he might have presented a better figure. I
hate a morning coat in tweed material. The adjec-
tive " uncouth " stuck. I saw it was a clever head
under the thick mane of black hair, and wondered
at his tactlessness and provincial garrulity. I
nevertheless found myself not entirely uninterested
" Do you mind my talking about her ? Incan-
descent! I think that word describes her best.
She burned from the inside, was strung on wires,
and they were all alight. She was always sitting
just where you are now, or upstairs at the piano.
She was a wonderful pianist. Have you been
upstairs, into the room she turned into a music
room ? "
" As I told you, I have only been here an hour.
This is the only room I have seen."
My tone must have struck him as wanting in
cordiality, or interest.
" You didn't want me to come up to-night ? " He
looked through his pocketbook for Ella's let-
ter, found it, and began to read, half aloud.
How well I knew what Ella would have said to
" She has taken ' Carbies ' ; call upon her at
once ... let me know what you think . . .
don't be misled by her high spirits . . ." He
read it half aloud and half to himself. He seemed
to expect my sympathy. " I used to come here so
often, two or three times a day sometimes."
"Was she ill?" The question was involuntary.
Margaret Capel was nothing to me.
" Part of the time. Most of the time."
" Did you do her any good ? "
Apparently he had no great sense or sensitive-
ness of professional dignity. There was a strange
light in his eyes, brilliant yet fitful, conjured up by
the question. It was the first time he seemed to
recognize my existence as a separate entity. He
looked directly at me, instead of gazing about him
" I don't know. I did my best. When she was in
pain I stopped it ... sometimes. She did
not always like the medicines I prescribed. And
you? You are suffering from neuritis, your sister
says. That may mean anything. Where is it ? "
" In my legs."
I did not mean him to attend me; I had come
away to rid myself of doctors. And anyway I
liked an older man in a professional capacity. But
his eccentricity of manner or deportment, his want
of interest in me and absorption in his former
patient, his ill-cut clothes and unlikeness to his
brother professionals, were a little variety, and I
found myself answering his questions.
" Have you tried Kasemol ? It is a Japanese
cure very efficacious; or any other paint? "
" I am no artist."
He smiled. He had a good set of teeth, and his
smile was pleasant.
" You've got a nurse, or a maid ? "
" A maid. I'm not ill enough for nurses."
" Good. Did you know this was once a nursing-
home? After she found that out she could never
bear the place . . ."
He was talking again about the former occupant
of the house. My ailment had not held his atten-
" She said she smelt ether and heard groaning in
the night. I suppose it seems strange to you I
should talk so much about her? But Carbies with-
out Margaret Capel . . . You do mind ? "
" No, I don't. I daresay I shall be glad to hear
all about her one day, and the story. I see you have
a story to tell. Of course I remember her now.
She wrote a play or two, and some novels that had
quite a little vogue at one time. But I'm tired
" So short a journey ought not to tire you." He
was observing me more closely. " You look over-
driven, too fine-drawn. We must find out all
about it. Not to-night of course. You must not
look upon this as a professional visit at all, but
I could not resist coming. You would understand,
if you had known her. And then to see you sitting
at her table, and in the same attitude . . ."
He left off abruptly. So the regard I had flattered
myself to be personal was merely reminiscent.
" You don't write too, by any chance, do you ? That
would be an extraordinary coincidence."
He might as well have asked Melba if she sang.
Blundering fool! I was better known than
Margaret Capel had ever been. Not proud of my
position because I have always known my limita-
tions, but irritated nevertheless by his ignorance,
and wishful now to get rid of him.
" Oh, yes ! I write a little sometimes. Sorry my
position at the table annoys you. But I don't play
the piano." He seemed a little surprised or hurt
at my tone, as he well might, and rose to go. I
rose, too, and held out my hand. After all I did
not write under my own name, so how could he
have known unless Ella had told him? When he
shook hands with me he made no pretence of feel-
ing my pulse, a trick of the trade which I particu-
larly dislike. So I smiled at him. " I am a little
" Irritability is characteristic of the complaint.
And I have bored you horribly, I fear. But it was
such an excitement coming up here again. May I
come in the morning and overhaul you? My
partner, Dr. Lansdowne, for whom your sister's
letter was really intended, is away. Does that
matter ? "
" I shouldn't think so."
" He is a very able man," he said seriously.
" And are you not ? " By this time my legs were
aching badly and I wanted to get rid of him.
" In the morning, then."
He seemed as if he would have spoken again,
but thought better of it. He had certainly a per-
sonality, but one that I was not sure I liked. He
took an inconceivable time winding up or starting
his machine, the buzz of it was in my ears long
after he went off, blowing an unnecessary whistle,
making my pain unbearable.
I dined in bed and treated myself to an extra
dose of nepenthe on the excuse of the fatigue of my
journey. The prescription had been given to me by
one of those eminent London physicians of whom
I hope one day to make a pen-and-ink drawing. It
is an insidious drug with varying effects. That
night I remember the pain was soon under weigh
and the strange half-wakeful dreams began early.
It was good to be out of pain even if one knew it to
be only a temporary deliverance. The happiness of a
recovered amiability soon became mine, after which
conscience began to worry me because I had been
ungrateful to my sister and had run away from her,
and been rude to her doctor, that strange doctor. I
smiled in my drowsiness when I thought of him and
his beloved Margaret Capel, a strange devotee at a
forgotten shrine, in his cutaway checked coat and
the baggy trousers. But the boots might have come
from Lobb. His hands were smooth, of the right
texture. Evidently the romance of his life had been
this Margaret Capel.
So this place had been a nursing-home, and when
she knew it she heard groans and smelt ether. Her
books were like that : fanciful, frothy. She had
never a straightforward story to tell. It was years
since I had heard her name, and I had forgotten
what little I knew, except that I had once been
resentful of the fuss the critics had made over her.
I believed she was dead, but could not be sure.
Then I thought of Death, and was glad it had no
terrors for me. No one could go on living as I
had been doing, never out of pain, without seeing
Death as a release.
A burning point of pain struck me again, and
because I was drugged I found it unbearable. Be-
fore it was too late and I became drowsier I roused
myself for another dose. To pour out the medicine
and put the glass down without spilling it was
difficult, the table seemed uneven. Later my
brain became confused, and my body comfort-
It was then I saw Margaret Capel for the first
time, not knowing who she was, but glad of her
appearance, because it heralded sleep. Always
before the drug assumed its fullest powers, I saw
kaleidoscopic changes, unsubstantial shapes, things
and people that were not there. Wonderful things
sometimes. This was only a young woman in a
grey silk dress, of old-fashioned cut, with puffed
sleeves and wide skirts. She had a mass of fair
hair, blonde cendre, and with a blue ribbon snooded
through it. At first her face was nebulous, after-
wards it appeared with a little more colour in it,
and she had thin and tremulous pink lips. She
looked plaintive, and when our eyes met she
seemed a little startled at seeing me in her bed.
The last thing I saw of her was a wavering smile,
rather wonderful and alluring. I knew at once
that she was Margaret Capel. But she was quickly
replaced by two Chinese vases and a conventional
design in black and gold. I had been too liberal
with that last dose of nepenthe, and the result was
the deep sleep or unconsciousness I liked the least
of its effects, a blank passing of time.
The next morning, as usual after such a debauch,
I was heavy and depressed, still drowsy but without
any happiness or content. I had often wondered I
could keep a maid, for latterly I was always either
irritable or silent. Not mean, however. That has
never been one of my faults, and may have been the
explanation. Suzanne asked how I had slept and
hoped I was better, perfunctorily, without waiting
for an answer. She was a great fat heavy French-
woman, totally without sympathetic quality. I told
her not to pull up the blinds nor bring coffee until
" I am quite well, but I don't want to be bothered.
The servants must do the housekeeping. If Dr.
Kennedy calls say I am too ill to see him."
I often wish one could have dumb servants. But
Suzanne was happily lethargic and not argumenta-
tive. I heard afterwards that she gave my message
verbatim to the doctor : " Madame was not well
enough to see him," but softened it by a sugges-
tion that I would perhaps be better tomorrow and
perhaps he would come again. His noisy machine
and unnecessary horn spoiled the morning and
angered me against Ella for having brought him
I felt better after lunch and got up, making a
desultory exploration of the house and finding my
last night's impression confirmed. The position
was lonely without being secluded. All round the
house was the rough garden, newly made, un-
finished, planted with trees not yet grown and
kitchen stuff. Everywhere was the stiff and
prickly gorse. On the front there were many
bedrooms; some, like my own, had broad balconies
whereon a bed could be wheeled. The place had
probably at one time been used as an open-air
cure. Then Margaret Capel must have taken it,
altered this that and the other, but failed to make
a home out of what had been designed for a
hospital. By removing a partition two of these
bedrooms had been turned into one. This one was
large, oak-floored, and a Steinway grand upon a
platform dominated one corner. There was a big
music stand. I opened it and found no clearance of
music had been made. It was full and deplorably
untidy. The rest of the furniture consisted of
tapestry-covered small and easy-chairs, a round
table, a great sofa drawn under one of the windows,
and some amateur water colours.
On the ground floor the dining-room looked
unused and the library smelt musty. It was lined
with open cupboards or bookcases, the top shelves
fitted with depressing-looking tomes and the lower
one bulging with yellow-backed novels, old-
fashioned three-volume novels, magazines dated ten
years back, and an " olla podrida " of broken-backed
missing-leaved works by Hawley Smart, Mrs.
Lovett Cameron, and Charles Lever. Nothing in
either of these rooms was reminiscent of Margaret
Capel. I was glad to get back to the drawing-
room, on the same floor, but well-proportioned and
agreeable. Today, with the sun out and my fatigue
partly gone, its shabbiness looked homely and even
attractive. The position of the writing-table again
made its appeal. Suzanne had unpacked my writ-
ing-things and they stood ready for arrangement,
heaped up together on the green leather top. I saw
with satisfaction that there were many drawers
and that the table was both roomy and convenient.
The view from the window was altered by the
sunlight. The yellow gorse was still the most
prominent feature, but beyond it today one saw
the sea more plainly, a little dim and hazy in the
distance but unmistakable ; melting into the horizon.
Today the sky was of a summer blue although it
was barely spring. I felt my courage revive.
Again I said to myself that I could write here, and
silently rescinded my intention of resting. " Work
whilst ye have the light." I had not a great light,
but another than myself to work for, and perhaps
not much time.
The gollywog put a smiling face and a clean cap
halfway into the room and said:
" Please, ma'am, cook wishes to know if she can
speak to you, and if you please there is no . . ."
There tumbled out a list of household necessities,
which vexed me absurdly. But the writing-chair
was comfortable and helped me through the nar-
rative. The table was alluring, and I wanted to
be alone. Cook arrived before Mary had finished,
and then the monologue became a duet.
"There's not more than half a dozen glasses
altogether, and I'm sure I don't know what to do
about the teapot. There's only one tray . . ."
"And as for the cooking utensils, well, I never
see such a lot. And that dirty! The kitchen
dresser has never been cleaned out since the flood,
I should think. Stuffed up with dirty cloths and
broken crockery. As for the kitchen table, there's
knives without handles and forks without prongs;
not a shape that isn't dented; the big fish kettle's
got a hole in it as big as your 'and, and the others
ain't fit to use. The pastry board's broke . . ."
I wanted to stop my ears and tell them to get
out. I had asked for competent servants, and
understood that competent servants bought or hired
whatever was necessary for their work. That was
the way things were managed at home. But then
my cook had been with me for eight years and my
housemaid for eleven. They knew my ways, and
that I was never to be bothered with household
details, only the bills were my affair. And those
my secretary paid.
" It was one of them there writing women as had
the place last, with no more idea of order than the
kitchen cat," cook said indignantly, or perhaps
suspiciously, eyeing the writing-table. I had come
here for rest and change, to lead the simple life,
with two servants instead of five and everything in
proportion. Now I found myself giving reckless
" Buy everything you want ; there is sure to be
a shop in the village. If not, make out a list, and
one of you go up to the Stores or Harrod's. If
the place is dirty get in a charwoman. Some one
will recommend you a charwoman, the house-agent
or the doctor." I reminded cook that she was a
cook-housekeeper, but failed to subdue her.
" You can't be cook-housekeeper in a desert
island. I call it no better than a desert island. I'd
get hold of that there house-agent that engaged us
if I was you. He said the 'ouse was well-found.
Him with his well-found 'ouse! They're bound
to give you what you need, but if you don't mind
Of course I minded expense, never more so than
now when I saw the possibility before me of a
long period of inaction. . . . But I minded
other things more. Household detail for instance,
and uneducated voices. I compromised and sanc-
tioned the appeal to the house-agent, confirming that
the irreducible minimum was to be purchased,
explaining I was ill, not to be troubled about this
sort of thing. I brushed aside a few " buts " and
finally rid myself of them. I caught myself yearn-
ing for Ella, who would have saved me this and
every trouble. Then scorned my desire to send for
her and determined to be glad of my solitude, to
rejoice in my freedom. I could look as ill as I
liked without comment. I could sit where I was
without attempting to tidy my belongings, and no
one would ask me if I felt seedy, if the pain was
coming on, if they could do anything for me. And
then, fool that I was, I remember tears coming to
my eyes because I was lonely, and sure that I had
tired out even Ella's patience. I wondered how
any one could face a long illness, least of all any
one like me who loved work, and above all independ-
ence, freedom. I knew, I knew even then that
the time was coming when I could neither work nor
be independent ; the shadow was upon me that very
first afternoon at Carbies. When I could see to
write I dashed off a postcard to Ella telling her I
was quite well and she was not to bother about me.
" I like the place, I'm sure I shall be able to write
here. Don't think of coming down, and keep the
rest of the family off me if you can . . ."
I spent the remainder of the evening weakly
longing for her, and feeling that she need not have
taken me at my word, that she might have come
with me although I urged her not, that she should
have understood me better.
That night I took less nepenthe, yet saw
Margaret Capel more vividly. She stayed a long
time too. This time she wore a blue peignoir, her
hair down, and she looked very young and girlish.
There were gnomes and fairies when she went, and
after that the sea, swish and awash as if I had been
upon a yacht. Unconsciousness only came to me
when the yacht was submerged in a great wave
. . . semiconsciousness.
But I am not telling the story of my illness. I
should like to, but I fear it would have no interest
for the general public, or for the young people
amongst whom one looks for readers. I have some-
times thought nevertheless, both then and after-
wards, that there must be a public who would like
to hear what one does and thinks and suffers when
illness catches one unawares ; and all life's interests
alter and narrow down to temperatures and medi-
cine-time, to fighting or submitting to nurses and
weakness, to hatred and contempt of doctors, and
a dumb blind rage against fate; to pain and the
soporifics behind which its hold tightens.
Pineland did not cure me, although I spent hours
in the open air and let my pens lie resting in their
case. Under continual pains I grew sullen and
resentful, always more ill-tempered and desirous of
solitude. Dr. Kennedy called frequently. Some-
times I saw him and sometimes not, as the mood
took me. He never came without speaking of the
former occupant of the house, of Margaret Capel.
He seemed to take very little personal interest in
me or my condition. And I was too proud (or
stupid) to force it on his notice. I asked him once,
crudely enough, if he had been in love with
Margaret Capel. He answered quite simply, as if
he had been a child:
" One had no chance. From the first I knew
there was no chance."
" There was some one else ? "
" He came up and down. I seldom met him.
Then there were the circumstances. She was
between the Nisi and the Absolute, the nether and
the upper stone . . ."
" Oh, yes, I remember now. She was divorced."
" No, she was not. She divorced her husband,"
he answered quite sharply and a little distressed.
" Courts of Justice they are called, but Courts of
Injustice would be a better name. They put her to
the question, on the rack ; no inquisition could have
been worse. And she was broken by it . . ."
" But there was some one else, you said yourself
there was some one else. Probably these probing
questions, this rack, were her deserts. Personally
I am a monogamist," I retorted. Not that I was
really narrow or a Pharisee, only in contentious
mood and cruel under the pressure of my own
harrow. " Probably anything she suffered served
her right," I added indifferently.
" It all happened afterwards. I thought you
knew," he said incoherently.
" I know nothing except that you are always
talking of Margaret Capel, and I am a little tired
of the subject," I answered pettishly. " Who was
" Yes, the man who came up and down to see
" Gabriel Stanton ! " I sat upright in my chair ;
that really startled me. " Gabriel Stanton," I
repeated, and then, stupidly enough : " Are you
" Quite sure. But I won't talk about it any more
since it bores you. The house is so haunted for me,
and you seemed so sympathetic, so interested. You
won't let me doctor you."
"You haven't tried very hard, have you?"
" You put me off whenever I try to ask you how
you are, or any questions."
" What is the good ? I've seen twelve London
" London has not the monopoly of talent." He
took up his hat, and then my hand.
"Offended?" I asked him.
" No. But my partner will be home tomorrow,
and I'm relinquishing my place to him. It is really
" I refuse to be anybody's case. I've heard from
the best authorities that no one knows anything
about neuritis and that it is practically incurable.
One has to suffer and suffer. Even Almroth
Wright has not found the anti-bacilli. Nepenthe
gives me ease; that is all the doctoring I want
ease ! "
" It is doing you a lot of harm. And what makes
you think you've got neuritis ? "
" What ailed your Margaret ? " I answered
mockingly. " Did you ever find that out? "
" No . . . yes. Of course I knew."
"Did you ever examine her?" I was curious
to know that ; suddenly and inconsequently curious.
" Why do you ask? " But his face changed, and
I knew the question had been cruel or impertinent.
He let go my hand abruptly, he had been holding
it all this time. " I did all that any doctor could."
He was obviously distressed and I ashamed.
" Don't go yet. Sit down and have a cup of tea
with me. I've been here three weeks and every
meal has been solitary. Your Margaret" I
smiled at him then, knowing he would not under-
stand " comes to me sometimes at night with my
nepenthe, but all day I am alone."
" By your own desire then, I swear. You are
not a woman to be left alone if you wanted com-
pany." He dropped into a chair, seemed glad to
stay. Presently over tea and crumpets, we were
really talking of my illness, and if I had permitted
it I have no doubt he would have gone into the
matter more closely. As it was he warned me
solemnly against the nepenthe and suggested I
should try codein as an alternative, a suggestion I
ignored completely, unfortunately for myself.
" Tell me about your partner," I said, drinking
my tea slowly.
" Oh ! you'll like him, all the ladies like him. He
is very spruce and rather handsome ; dapper, band-
boxy. Not tall, turning grey ..."
" Did she like him? " I persisted.
" She would not have him near her. After his
first visit she denied herself to him all the time.
He used to talk to me about her, he could never
understand it, he was not used to that sort of treat-
ment, he is a tremendous favourite about here."
" What did she say of him? "
" That he grinned like a Cheshire cat, talked in
cliches, rubbed his hands and seemed glad when
she suffered. He has a very cheerful bedside
manner; most people like it."
" I quite understand. I won't have him. Mind
that; don't send him to see me, because I won't see
him. I'd rather put up with you." I have explained
I was beyond convention. He really tried hard to
persuade me, urged Dr. Lansdowne's degrees and
qualifications, his seniority. I grew angry in the
" Surely I need not have either of you if I don't
want to. I suppose there are other doctors in the
He gave me a list of the medical men practising
in and about Pineland ; it was not at all badly done,
he praised everybody yet made me see them clearly.
In the end I told him I would choose my own medi-
cal attendant when I wanted one.
" Am I dismissed, then ? " he asked.
"Have you ever been summoned?" I answered
in the same tone.
" Seriously now, I'd like to be of use to you if
you'd let me."
" In order to retain the entree to the house where
the wonderful Margaret moved and had her
" No ! Well, perhaps yes, partly. And you are
a very attractive woman yourself."
" Don't be ridiculous."
" It is quite true. I expect you know it."
" I'm over forty and ill. I suppose that is what
you find attractive, that I am ill ? "
" I don't think so. I hate hysterical women as
" With any form of nerve disease."
" Do you really think I am suffering from nerve
disease? From the vapours?" I asked scornfully,
thinking for the thousand and first time what a
fool the man was.
" You don't occupy yourself? "
" I'm one of the busiest women on God's earth."
" I've never seen you doing anything, except
sitting at her writing-table with two bone-dry pens
set out and some blank paper. And you object to
be questioned about your illness, or examined."
" I hate scientific doctoring. And then you have
not inspired me with confidence, you are obsessed
with one idea."
" I can't help that. From the first you've
reminded me of Margaret."
" Oh ! damn Margaret Capel, and your infatua-
tion for her! I'm sorry, but that's the way I feel
just now. I can't escape from her, the whole place
is full of her. And yet she hasn't written a thing
that will live. I sent to the London Library soon
after I came and got all her books. I waded through
the lot. Just epigram and paradox, a weak Bernard
Shaw in petticoats."
" I never read a word she wrote," he answered
indifferently. "It was the woman herself . . ."
" I am sure. Well, gocd-bye ! I can't talk any
more tonight, I'm tired. Don't send Dr.
Lansdowne. If I want any one I'll let you know/'
Margaret came to me again that night when the
house was quite silent and all the lights out except
the red one from the fire. She sat in the easy-chair
on the hearthrug, and for the first time I heard her
speak. She was very young and feeble-looking,
and I told her I was sorry I had been impatient and
said " damn " about her.
" But you are all over the place, you know. And
I can't write unless I am alone. I'm always
solitary and never alone here ; you haunt and obsess
me. Can't you go away? I don't mean now. I
am glad you are here now, and talking. Tell me
about Dr. Kennedy. Did you care for him at all?
Did you know he was in love with you? "
" Peter Kennedy ! No, I never thought about
him at all, not until the end. Then he was very
kind, or cruel. He did what I asked him. You
know why I obsess you, don't you? It used to be
just the same with me when a subject was evolving.
You are going to write my story; you will do it
better in a way than I could have done it myself,
although worse in another. I have left you all the
" Not a word."
" You haven't found it yet. I put it together
myself, the day Gabriel sent back my letters. You
will have my diary and a few notes ..."
" In a drawer in the writing-table. But it is
only half there. . . . You will have to add to
" I see you quite well when I keep my eyes shut.
If I open them the room sways and you are not
there. Why should I write your life? I am no
historian, only a novelist."
" I know, but you are on the spot, with all the
material and local colour. You know Gabriel too;
we used to speak about you."
" He is no admirer of mine."
" No. He is a great stylist, and you have no
sense of style."
" Nor you of anything else," I put in rudely,
" A harsh judgment, characteristic. You are a
blunt realist, I should say, hard and a little un-
womanly, calling a spade by its ugliest name;
but sentimental with pen in hand you really do
write abominably sometimes. But you will remind
the world of me again. I don't want to be forgotten.
I would rather be misrepresented than forgotten.
There are so few geniuses! Keats and I ...
Don't go to sleep."
I could not help it, however. Several times after
that, whenever I remembered something I wished
to ask her, and opened dulled eyes, she was not
there at all. The chair where she had sat was
empty, and the fire had died down to dull ash.
I drowsed and dreamed. In my dreams I achieved
style, an ambient, exquisite style, and wrote about
Margaret Capel and Gabriel Stanton so glowingly
and convincingly that all the world wept for them
and wondered, and my sales ran into hundreds of
" We have always expected great things of this
author, but she has transcended our highest expecta-
tions . . ." The reviews were all on this scale.
For the remainder of that night no writer in
England was as famous as I. Publishers and
literary agents hung round my doorsteps and I
rejected marvellous offers. If I had not been so
thirsty and my mouth dry, no one could have been
happier, but the dryness and thirst woke me contin-
uously, and I execrated Suzanne for having put
the water bottle out of my reach, and forgotten to
supply me with acid drops. I remember grumbling
about it to Margaret.
I BEGAN the search for those letters the very next
day, knowing how absurd it was, as if one were
still a child who expected to find the pot of gold
at the end of the rainbow. I made Suzanne telephone
to Dr. Kennedy that I was much better and would
prefer he did not call. I really wanted to be alone,
to make my search complete, not to be interrupted.
If it were not true that I was better, at least I was
no worse, only heavy and dull in body and mind,
every movement an almost unbearable fatigue.
Nevertheless I sat down with determination at the
writing-table, intent on opening every drawer and
cupboard, calling to Suzanne to help me, on the
pretence of wanting white paper to line the drawers,
and a duster to clean them. In reality, that
she should do the stooping instead of me. But
everywhere was emptiness or dust. I crawled to
the music room after lunch and tried my luck
there, amid the heaped disorderly music, but there
too the search proved unavailing. It was no use
going downstairs again, so I went to bed, before
dinner, passing a white night with red pain points,
beyond the reach even of nepenthe. I had counted
on seeing Margaret Capel again, getting fuller
instructions, but was disappointed in that also.
The next day and many others were equally full
and equally empty. I looked in unlikely places until
I was tired out; dragging about my worn-out body
that had been whipped into a pretence of activity
by my driving brain. Dr. Kennedy came and
went, talking spasmodically of Margaret Capel,
watching me, I thought sometimes, with puzzled
enquiring eyes. My family in London was duly
informed how well I was, and the good that the
rest and solitude were doing me. I felt horribly
ill, and towards the end of my second week gave
up seeking for Margaret Capel's letters or papers.
I was still intent upon writing her story, but had
made up my mind now to compile it from the facts
I could persuade or force from Dr. Kennedy, from
old newspaper reports, and other sources. It was
borne in upon me that to go on with, my work was
the only way to save myself from what I now
thought was mental as well as physical breakdown.
I saw Margaret elusively, was never quite free from
the sense that I was not alone. The chills that
ran through me meant that she was behind me;
the hot flushes that she was about to materialise.
In normal times I was the most dogmatic disbeliever
in the occult; but now I believed Carbies to be
When I was able to think soundly and consecu-
tively, I began to piece together what little I knew
of these two people by whom I was obsessed. For
it was not only Margaret, but Gabriel Stanton
whom I felt, or suspected, about the house. Stanton
& Co. were my own publishers. I had not known
them as Margaret Capel's. Gabriel was not the
member of the firm I saw when I made my rare
calls in Greyfriars' Square. He was understood
to be occupied only with the classical works issued by
the well-known house. Somewhere or other I had
heard that he had achieved a great reputation at
Oxford and knew more about Greek roots than
any living authority. On the few occasions we
met I had felt him antagonistic or contemptuous.
He would come into the room where I was talking
to Sir George and back out again quickly, saying he
was sorry, or that he did not know his cousin was
engaged. Sir George introduced us more than
once, but Mr. Gabriel Stanton always seemed to
have forgotten the circumstance. I remembered
him as a tall thin man, with deep-set eyes and
sunken mouth, a gentleman, as all the Stantons
were, but as different as possible from his genial
partner. I had, I have, a soft spot in my heart for
Sir George Stanton, and had met with much kind-
ness from him. Gabriel, too, may have had a charm
they were notoriously a charming family, but
he had not exerted it for my benefit. He and all of
them were so respectable, so traditionally and
inalienably respectable, that it was difficult to
readjust my slowly working mind and think of him
as any woman's lover; illegitimate lover, as he
seemed to be in this case. I wrote to my secretary
in London to look up everything that was known
about Margaret Capel. Before her reply came I
had another attack of pleurisy I had had several
in London, and this brought Ella to me, to say
nothing of various hungry and impotent London
As I said before, this is not a history of my
illness, nor of my sister's encompassing love that
ultimately enabled me to weather it, that forced
me again and again from the arms of Death, that
friend for whom at times my weakness yearned.
The fight was all from the outside. As for me, I
laid down my weapons early. I dreaded pain more
than death, and do still, the passing through and
not the arrival, writhing under the shame of my
beaten body, wanting to hide. Yet publicity beat
upon me, streamed into the room like midday sun.
There were bulletins in the papers and the Press
Association rang up and asked for late and early
news. Obituary notices were probably being pre-
pared. Everybody knew that at which I was still
only guessing. It irked me sometimes to know they
would be only paragraphs and not columns, and I
knew Ella would be vexed.
When the acuteness of this particular attack
subsided I thought again of Margaret Capel and
Gabriel Stanton, yet could not talk of them. For
Ella knew nothing of the former occupants of the
house, and for some inexplicable reason Dr.
Kennedy had left off coming. His partner, or sub-
stitute, whose Cheshire-cat grin I easily recognised,
made no secret, notwithstanding his cheerfulness,
of the desperate view he took of my condition. I
hated his futile fruitless examinations, the consulta-
tions whereat I was sure he aired his provincial
self-importance, his great cool hands on my
pulse and smug dogmatic ignorance. " The pain is
just here," he would announce, but not even by
accident did he ever once hit upon the right
Fortunately Ella was there. She must have
arrived many days before I recognised her. The
household was moving on oiled wheels, my meals
were brought me now on trays with delicate napery
and a flower or two. Scent sprays and early straw-
berries, down pillows and Jaegar sheets, a water
bed presently, and all the luxuries, told me undeni-
ably she was in the vicinity. I had always known
how it would be. That once I admitted to helpless-
ness she would give up her home life and all the joys
of her well-filled days, and would live for me only.
Because her tenderness for me met mine for her and
was too poignant for my growing weakness, I had
denied us both. Her the joy of giving and myself
of taking. Now, without acknowledgment or word
of gratitude, I accepted all.
" Don't go away," were the first words I said
to her. I ! who had begged her so hard not to
come, repudiated her anxiety so violently.
"Of course not. Why should I ? I always like
the country in the early spring," she answered
coolly. " Do you want anything ? " She came
nearer to the bed.
" What has become of Dr. Kennedy ? " I
" I thought you did not like him. Suzanne told
me that often you would not see him when he called.
And you were quite right. It was evident he did
not know what was the matter with you."
" No one does."
" You have not helped us." Her eyelids were
pink, but otherwise she did not reproach me.
" And now I am going to die, I suppose."
" Die ! You are not going to die ; don't be so
absurd. I wouldn't let you, for one thing. And
why should you? People don't die of pleurisy, or
neuritis. You are better today than you were yes-
terday, and you will be better still tomorrow. I
Outside the room she may have wept, for, as I
said, her eyelids were pink. Inside it she was all
quiet confidence and courage.
" I want Dr. Kennedy. Get him back to me." I
did not argue with her whether I would live or
die, it was too futile.
"This man Lansdowne is F.R.C.S. and M.D.
London," she reminded me.
" I don't care if he's all the letters of the alphabet.
He grins at me, talks smugly, patronises me, pats
my shoulder. He will send his carriage to follow
the funeral. I see in his face that he has made up
his mind to it."
Nurse interfered and said that Dr. Lansdowne
was most able.
" Send her out of the room." I was impatient
at her interference.
" All right, nurse, I'll sit with Mrs. Vevaseur
until you've had your dinner. You won't talk too
much ? " she said to me imploringly.
" Perhaps," I answered, and smiled. It was
good to have Ella sitting with me again.
" The doctor did not wish her to speak at all, nor
to see visitors."
I don't know how Ella managed to get that
authoritative white-capped female out of the
room, but she did ; she had infinite tact and re-
" Shall I get my needlework ? Or would you
rather I read to you ? You really mustn't talk."
" Neither. You are not going away ? "
" I am staying as long as you want me."
Not a word about the times when I had told her
brutally to let me alone, when I had almost turned
her out of the house in London, finally fled from
her here. That was Ella all over, and characteristic
of me that I could not even thank her. When she
said she would stay it seemed too good to be true.
I questioned her about her responsibilities.
" What about Violet and Tommy, the paper ? "
For Ella, too, was bound on the Ixion wheel of the
" It's all right ; everything has been arranged, in
the best possible way. I am quite free. I shan't go
away until you ask me to go."
Then I began to cry, in my great weakness, but
hid my eyes, for I knew my tears would hurt her.
I gave way only for a moment. It was such a relief
to know her there, to feel I was being cared for.
Paid service is only for the sound.
Ella pretended not to notice my little breakdown,
although she was not far off it herself. She began
to talk of indifferent things. Who had telegraphed,
or rung up ; she told me that the news of my illness
had been in the papers. All my good friends whom
I had avoided during those dreary months had for-
gotten they had been snubbed and came forward with
genuine sympathy and offers of help. I soon
stopped her from telling me about them. It made
me feel ashamed and unworthy. I could not recol-
lect ever having done anything for anybody.
"About getting Dr. Kennedy back?"
" He neglected you disgracefully ; wrote me
lightly. I don't wonder you told him not to call."
" I want him back."
" Then you shall have him back. You shall have
everything you want, only go on getting better."
She turned her face away from me.
"Have I begun?"
She made no answer, and I knew it was because
she could not at the moment command her voice.
So I stayed quiet a little while. Then I began
again to beg her to rid me of Lansdowne.
" After all, he is independent of his profession,"
she said at length thoughtfully, thinking of his
feelings and how not to hurt them. " He married
a rich woman."
" He would. And I am sure he has no children,"
" Good heavens ! How did you know ? You are
cleverer when you are ill than other people when
they are well."
That is like Ella, too, she has an exaggerated and
absurd opinion of my talent. Just because I write
novels which are paid for beyond their deserts !
I don't know how she did it, I don't know how
she accomplished half of the magical wonderful
things she did for my comfort all that sad time.
But I was not even surprised, a few days later,
when I really was better and sitting up in bed;
propped up by pillows, I admit, but still actually
sitting up; that Dr. Kennedy, tall and unaltered,
with the same light in his eye, even the same dread-
ful country suit, lounged in and sat on the chair
by my side. Ella went away when he came in, she
always had an idea that patients like to see their
doctors alone. She flirts with hers, I think. She
is incurably flirtatious in her leisure hours.
" You've had a bad time," he said abruptly.
" You didn't try to make it any better," I
" Oh ! I ! I was dismissed. Your sister turned
me out. She said I hadn't recognised how ill you
were. I told her she was quite right. I didn't tell
her how often you had refused to see me."
" Did you know how ill I was ? "
" I'm not sure." He smiled, and so did I.
"Were you so ill?"
" I know now what Margaret Capel felt about
" He is a very able fellow. And you've had
Felton, Shorter, Lawson."
"Don't remind me."
" Anyway you are getting better now."
" Am I ? I am so hideously weak."
" Not beginning to write again yet ! You see, I
know all about you now. I've taken a course of
' Thinking all the time how much better
Margaret Capel wrote ? "
"You haven't forgotten Margaret, then?"
" Have you? " He became quite grave and
" I ! I shall never forget Margaret Capel."
Up till then he had been light and airy in manner,
as if this visit and circumstance and poor me, who
had been so near the Gates, were of little conse-
" Did you think how much worse I wrote than
she did, that I was no stylist? "
"Why do you say that?"
I was glad to see him and wished to keep him by
my side. I thought what I was going to tell him
would secure my object.
" She told me so herself " I shot at him, and
watched to see how he would take it. " The last
time I saw you, the night the pleurisy started, she
sat over there by the fireside. We talked together
confidentially, she said she knew I would write her
story, and was sorry because I had no style." There
was a flush on his forehead, he looked to where I
said she sat.
" What else did she say? " He did not seem to
doubt me or to be surprised.
" You believe I saw her, that it was not a
dream ? "
" There is an unexplored borderland between
dreams and reality. Fever often bridges it. Your
temperature was probably high. And I, and you,
were so full of her. Go on. Tell me what she
" She was dressed in grey, a white fichu over
" And a pink rose."
"Her hair ..."
" Was snooded with a blue ribbon." He finished
my sentences excitedly.
" No. It was hanging in plaits."
" Oh, no ! Not when she wore the grey dress."
He had risen and was standing by the bed now,
he seemed anxious, almost imploring. " Think
again. Shut your eyes and think again. Surely she
had the blue ribbon."
I shut my eyes as he bade me. Then opened
them and stared at him.
" But how did you know ? "
" Go on. There was a blue ribbon in her hair? "
" The first time I saw her. The next time her
hair was hanging down her back, two great plaits
of fair hair, and she had on a blue dressing-
" With a white collar like a fine handkerchief,
showing her slender throat."
" How well you knew her clothes."
"There was a sense of fitness about her, an
exquisite sense of fitness. She would not have worn
her hair down with that grey dress."
" You know I really did see her."
"Of course. Go on. Tell me exactly what she
said, word for word."
" About my bad style."
" About your good sense of comradeship with
" She said I would write the story. Hers and
I told him all she had said, word for word as well
as I could remember it, keeping my eyes shut,
speaking slowly, remembering well.
" She told me of the letters and diary, the notes,
chapter headings, all she had prepared. ..."
I turned my head away, sank down amongst the
pillows, and turned my head away. I didn't want
him to see my disappointment, to know that I had
found nothing. Now I recognised my weakness,
that I was spent with feverish nights and pain.
" I can't talk any more." He put his hand upon
" Your pulse is quite strong."
" I am not," I said shortly. I wished Ella would
" You looked for them? " I did not answer.
" I am so sorry. Blundering fool that I am. You
looked, and looked . . . that is why you kept
me at arm's length, would not see me, wanted to
be alone. You were searching. Why didn't I think
of it before ? . But how did I know she would come
to you, confide in you ? "
He was talking to himself now, seemed to forget
me and my grave illness. " I might have thought
of it though. From the first I pictured you two
together. I have them. I took them . . . didn't
you guess ? " I forgot the extreme weakness of
which I had complained, and caught hold of his
coat sleeve, a little breathless.
"You took them . . . stole them?"
" Yes. If you put it that way. Who had a
better right ? I knew everything. Her father, her
people, nothing, or very little. And she had not
wished them to know."
" She was going to write the story, whatever it
was; to publish it."
" No ! not immediately, not until long afterwards,
not until it would hurt no one. They were in the
writing-table drawer, the letters, in an elastic band.
She was not tidy as a rule with papers, but these
were tidy. The diary was bound in soft grey leather,
and there were a few rough notes; loose, on MS.
paper. You know all that happened there; the
excitement was intense. How could I bear her
papers, his letters, her notes to fall into strange
hands. I was doing what she would wish, I knew
I was carrying out her wishes. The day she . . .
she died I gathered them all together, slipped them
into my greatcoat pocket ; the car was at the door.
I hurried away as if I had been a thief, the thief
you are thinking me."
" Got home quickly, gloated over them all that
" I swear to you, I swear to you I have never
opened the packet. I have never looked at them.
I made one parcel of them all, of the letters, diary,
notes; wrapped them all together in brown paper,
tied it up with string, sealed it.
" You've got it still ! " I was in high excitement,
all my pulses throbbing, face flushed, hands hot,
"' In the safe at my bank. I took it there the
" You are going to give me the packet? "
" But of course." He seemed suddenly to
recollect that I was an invalid, that he was supposed
to be my doctor. " I say, all this excitement is very
bad for you. Your sister will turn me out again.
Can't you lie down, get quiet, you've jumped from
90 to 112." His hand was on my pulse again. I
knew I was going beyond my tether and cursed my
" You won't change your mind ! " I was lying
on my back now, quite still, trying to quiet myself
as he had told me. " Promise ! "
" I'll get the packet in the morning, as soon as
the bank is open, and come straight on here with
it. You must find some place to put it. Where you
can see it, know it's there all the time. But you
mustn't open it, you must get stronger first. You
know you can't use it yet."
" Yes, I can."
" It would be very wrong. You wouldn't do
" I'm sick of being ordered about." But I could
barely move and breathing was becoming difficult
to me, I had a sense of faintness, suffocation, the
room grew dark. He opened the door and called
nurse. Ella came in with her. I was conscious
" What does she have when she is like this ?
Smelling salts, brandy ? " Nurse began to fan me ;
my cheeks were very flushed.
Ella opened the windows, wide, quietly ; the scent
of the gorse came in. I did not want to speak, only
to be able to breathe.
Nurse telegraphed him an enquiring glance.
Strychnine? her dumb lips asked. He shook his
" Oxygen. Have you got a cylinder of oxygen
in the house?" He took the pillows from under
I don't know what they tried or left untried.
Whenever I opened my eyes I sought for Ella's. I
knew she would not let them do anything to me that
might bring the pain back. I was only overtired.
I managed to say so presently. When I was really
better and Dr. Kennedy gone, Ella said a bitter word
or two about him. Nurse too thought she should
have been called sooner. A good nurse, but dissatis-
fied up to now with all my treatment, with my
change of doctors, with my resistance to authority,
and Ella's interference.
" Ella." She had been sitting by the fire but
came over to me at once.
" What is it ? I am only going to stop a minute.
Then I shall leave you to nurse. That man stopped
too long, over-excited you. We mustn't have him
again, he doesn't understand you."
"Yes he does; perfectly." My voice may have
been faint, but I succeeded in making it urgent.
" Ella, I want to see him again in the morning,
nothing must prevent it, nothing. Don't talk against
him, I want him."
" Then you snail have him," she decided promptly.
Notwithstanding my terrible weakness and want of
breath I smiled at her.
" I suppose you've fallen in love with him," she
said. Love and love-making were half her life, the
game she found most fascinating. They were noth-
ing to do with mine.
" See that he comes. That's all. However ill
I am, whether I'm ill or not, he is to come."
" You noticed his clothes ? "
Nurse I suppose thought we had both gone mad.
But she came over to me and lifted me into a more
comfortable position, fanned me again, and when
the fanning had done its work brought eau de
Cologne and water and sponged my face, my hot
hands. She told Ella that she ought to go, that I
ought to be alone, that I should have a bad night if
I were not left to myself. Ella only wanted to do
what was best for me.
" I am sure you are right, nurse. I shan't come
in again. Sleep well."
" You are sure? "
" Quite sure that Dr. Kennedy shall come in the
morning, if I have to drag him here. It's a pity
you will have an executioner instead of a, doctor;
he seems to do you harm every time he comes. You
had your worst attack when he was here before.
Good-night. I do wish you had better taste."
She kept her light tone up to the last, although I
saw she was pale with anxiety and sympathy. Days
ago she had asked me if the nurses were good and
kind to me, and if I liked them, and had received
my assurance that this one at least was the best
I had ever had, clever and untiring. If only she had
not been so sure of herself and that she knew better
than I did what was good for me, I should have
thought her perfect. She had a delightful voice,
never touched me unnecessarily, nor brushed against
the bed. But she was younger than I, and I resented
her authority. We were often in antagonism, for
I was a bad invalid, in resistance all the time. I had
not learnt yet how to be ill ! The lesson was taught
me slowly, cruelly, but I recognised Benham's
quality long before I gave in to her. Now I was
glad that Ella should go, that nurse should minister
to me alone. I wanted the night to come . . . and
go. But my exhaustion was so complete that I had
I SEEM to be a long time coming to the story, but
my own will intervene, my own dreadful tale of
dependence and deepening illness. Benham was my
day nurse. At ten o'clock that night she left me,
considerably better and calm. Then Lakeby came
on duty, a very inferior person who always talked
to me as if I were a child to be humoured : " Now
then be a dear good girl and drink it up " represents
her fairly well. Then she would yawn in my face
without apology or attempt to hide her fatigue or
boredom. Nepenthe and I were no longer friends.
It gave me no ease, yet I drank it to save argument.
Lakeby took away the glass and then lay down at
the foot of the bed. I thought again, as I had
thought so many times, that no one ever sleeps so
soundly as a night nurse. I could indulge my rest-
lessness without any fear of disturbing her. To-
morrow's promised excitement would not let me
sleep. Their letters, the very letters they had written
to each other! I did not care so much about the
diary. I had once kept a diary myself and knew
how one leaves out all the essentials. I suppose I
drowsed a little. Nepenthe was no longer my
friend, but we were not enemies, only disappointed
lovers, without reliance on each other. As I
approached the borderland I wished Margaret were
in her easy-chair by the fireside. I did not care
whether she was in her grey, or with her plaits and
peignoir. I watched for her in vain. I knew she
would not come whilst nurse snored on the sofa.
Ella would have to get rid of the nurse from my
room. Surely now that I was better I could sleep
alone, a bell could be fixed up. Two nurses were
unnecessary, extravagant. I woke to cough and was
conscious of a strange sensation. I turned on the
light by my side, but then only roused the nurse
(she had slept all day) with difficulty. I knew what
had happened, although this was the first time it
had happened to me, and wanted to reassure her or
myself. Also to tell her what to do.
" Get ice. Call Benham ; ring up the doctor." This
was my first haemorrhage, very profuse and alarm-
ing, and Lakeby although she was inferior was not
inefficient. When she was really roused she carried
out my instructions to the letter. Once Benham
was in the room I knew at least I was in good hands.
I begged them not to rouse the house more than
necessary, not to call Ella.
" Don't you speak a word. Lie quite still. We
know exactly what is to be done. Mrs. Lovegrove
won't be disturbed, nor anybody if you will only do
what you are told."
Benham's voice changed in an emergency; it
was always a beautiful voice if a little hard; now
it was gentle, soft, and her whole manner altered.
She had me and the situation completely under her
control, and that, of course, was what she always
wanted. That night she was the perfect nurse.
Lakeby obeyed her as if she had been a probationer.
I often wonder I am not more grateful to Benham,
failed to become quickly attached to her. I don't
think perhaps that mine is a grateful nature, but I
surely recognised already to-night, in this bad hour,
her complete and wonderful competence. I was in
high fever, very agitated, yet striving to keep com-
mand of my nerves.
" It looks bad, you know, but it is not really
serious, it is only a symptom, not a disease. All you
have to do is to keep very quiet. The doctor will
soon be here."
" I'm not frightened."
" Hush ! I'm sure you are not."
A hot bottle to my feet, little lumps of ice to
suck; loose warm covering adjusted round me
quickly, the blinds pulled up, and the window
opened, there was nothing of which she did not
think. And the little she said was all in the right key,
not making light of my trouble, but explaining,
minimizing it, helping me to calm my disordered
" I would give you a morphia injection only that
Dr. Kennedy will be here any moment now."
I don't think it could have been long after that
before he was in the room. In the meantime I was
hating the sight of my own blood and kept begging
the nurses or signing to them to remove basins and
Nurse Benham told him very quietly what had
happened. He was looking at me and said encour-
" You will soon be all right."
I was still coughing up blood and did not feel
reassured. I heard him ask for hot water. Nurse
and he were at the chest of drawers, whispering
over something that might be cooking operations.
Then nurse came back to the bed.
" Dr. Kennedy is going to give you a morphia
injection that will stop the haemorrhage at once."
She rolled up the sleeve of my nightgown, and
I saw he was beside her.
"How much?" I got out.
" A quarter of a grain," he answered quietly.
" You'll find it will be quite enough. If not, you
can have another."
I resented the prick of the needle, and that having
hurt me he should rub the place with his finger,
making it worse, I thought. I got reconciled to
it however, and his presence there, very soon. He
was still in tweeds and they smelt of gorse or peat,
of something pleasant.
There was no doubt the haemorrhage was coming
to an end, and I was no longer shivering and appre-
hensive. He felt my pulse and said it was " very
" The usual cackle ! " I was able to smile.
" I shouldn't talk if I were you." He smiled too.
" You will be quite comfortable in half an hour."
" I am not uncomfortable now." He laughed, a
low and pleasant laugh.
" She is wonderful, isn't she ? " he said to
Benham. Benham was clearing away every evidence
of what had occurred, and I felt how competent
they both were, and again that I was in good hands.
I was glad Ella was asleep and knew nothing of
what was happening.
Dr. Kennedy was over at the chest of drawers
" I'll leave you another dose," he said, and they
talked together. Then he came to say " good-bye "
"Can't I sleep by myself? I hate any one in
the room with me." I wanted to add, " it spoils my
dreams," but am not sure if I actually said the
' You'll find you will be all right, as right as rain.
Nurse will fix you up. All you have to do is to go
to sleep. If not she will give you another dose. I've
left it measured out. You are not afraid, are you ? "
" The good dreams will come. I am willing them
to you." I found it difficult to concentrate.
" What did you promise me before? "
" Nothing I shan't perform. Good-night ..."
He went away quickly.
I was wider awake than I wished to be, and soon
a desire for action was racing in my disordered
mind. I thought the haemorrhage meant death, and
I had left so many things undone. I could not recol-
lect the provisions of my will, and felt sure it was
unjust. I could have been kinder to so many people,
the dead as well as the living. It is so easy to say
sharp, clever things; so difficult to unsay them. I
remembered one particular act of unkindness . . .
even now I cannot bear to recall it. Alas ! it was to
one now dead. And Ella, Ella did not know I
returned her love, full measure, pressed down,
brimming over. Once, very many years ago, when
she was in need and I supposed to be rich, she asked
me to lend her five hundred pounds. Because I
hadn't it, and was too proud to say so, I was ruder
to her than seems possible now, asking why I should
work to supply her extravagances. But she was
never extravagant, except in giving. Oh, God!
That five hundred pounds! How many times I
have thought of it. What would I not give not to
have said no, to have humbled my pride, admitted I
could not put my hands on so large a sum? Now
she lavishes her all on me. And if it were true
that I was dying, already I was not sure, she would
be lonely in her world. Without each other we were
always lonely. Love of sisters is unlike all other
love. We had slept in each other's bed from baby-
hood onward, told each other all our little secrets,
been banded together against nurses and govern-
esses, maintained our intimacy in changed and
changing circumstances, through long and varied
years. Ella would be lonely when I was dead. A
hot tear or two oozed through my closed lids when
I thought of Ella's loneliness without me. I wiped
those tears away feebly with the sheet. The room
was very strange and quiet, not quite steady when
I opened my eyes. So I shut them. The morphia
was beginning to act.
"Why are you crying?"
" How could you see me over there ? " But I no
longer wanted to cry and I had forgotten Ella. I
opened my eyes when she spoke. The fire was low
and the room dark, quite steady and ordinary.
Margaret was sitting by the fireside, and I saw her
more clearly than I had ever seen her before, a
pale, clever, whimsical face, thin-featured and mo-
bile, with grey eyes.
"It is absurd to cry," she said. "When I
finished crying there were no tears in the world to
shed. All the grief, all the unhappiness died with
" Why were you so unhappy? " I asked.
" Because I was a fool," she answered. " When
you tell my story you must do it as sympathetically
as possible, make people sorry for me. But that
is the truth. I was unhappy because I was a
" You still think I shall write your story. The
critics will be pleased ..." I began to remember
all they would say, the flattering notices.
" Why were you crying? " she persisted. " Are
you a fool too? "
" No. Only on Ella's account I don't want to
" You need not fear. Is Ella some one who loves
you? If so she will keep you here. Gabriel did
not love me enough. If some one needs us desper-
ately and loves us completely, we don't die."
" Did no one love you like that ? "
" I died," she answered concisely, and then gazed
into the fire.
My limbs relaxed, I felt drowsy and convinced of
great talent. I had never done myself justice, but
with this story of Margaret Capel's I should come
into my own. I wrote the opening sentence, a
splendid sentence, arresting. And then I went on
easily. I, who always wrote with infinite difficulty,
slowly, and trying each phrase over again, weighing
and appraising it, now found an amazing fluency
come to me. I wrote and wrote.
De Quincey has not spoken the last word on
morphia dreams. It is only a pity he spoke so
well that lesser writers are chary of giving their
experiences. The next few days, as I heard after-
wards, I lay between life and death, the temperature
never below 102 and the haemorrhage recurring. I
only know that they were calm and happy days.
Ella was there and we understood each other per-
fectly, without words. The nurses came and went,
and when it was Benham I was glad and she knew
my needs, when I was thirsty, or wanted this or
that. But when Lakeby replaced her she would
talk and say silly soothing things, shake up my
pillows when I wanted to be left alone, touch the
bed when she passed it, coax me to what I would
do willingly, intrude on my comfortable time. I
liked best to be alone, for then I saw Margaret. She
never spoke of anything but herself and the letters
and diary she had left me, the rough notes. We
had strange little absurd arguments. I told her not
to doubt that I would write her story, because I loved
writing, I lived to write, every day was empty that
held no written word, that I only lived my fullest,
my completest when I was at my desk, when there
was wide horizon for my eyes and I saw the real
true imagined people with whom I was more
intimate than with any I met at receptions and
" The absurdity is that any one who feels what
you describe should write so badly. It is incredible
that you should have the temperament of the writer
without the talent," she said to me once.
" What makes you say I write badly ? I sell
well ! " I told her what I got for my books, and
about my dear American public.
" Sell ! sell ! " She was quite contemptuous.
" Hall Caine sells better than you do, and Marie
Corelli, and Mrs. Barclay."
" Would you rather I gave one of them your
MS. ? " I asked pettishly. I was vexed with her
now, but I did not want her to go. She used to
vanish suddenly like a light blown out. I think
that was when I fell asleep, but I did not want to
keep awake always, or hear her talking. She was
inclined to be melancholy, or cynical, and so jarred
my mood, my sense of well-being.
Night and morning they gave me my injections
of morphia, until the morning when I refused it, to
Dr. Kennedy's surprise and against Benham's
" It is good for you, you are not going to set
yourself against it?"
" I can have it again tonight. I don't need it
in the daytime. The haemorrhage has left off."
Dr. Kennedy supported me in my refusal. I will
admit the next few days were dreadful. I found
myself utterly ill and helpless, and horribly conscious
of all that was going on. The detail of desperate
illness is almost unbearable to a thinking person of
decent and reticent physical habits. The feeding
cup and gurgling water bed, the lack of privacy, are
hourly humiliations. All one's modesties are out-
raged. I improved, although as I heard afterwards
it had not been expected that I would live. The
consultants gave me up, and the nurses. Only Dr.
Kennedy and Ella refused to admit the condition
hopeless. When I continued to improve Ella was
boastful and Benham contradictory. The one
dressed me up, making pretty lace and ribbon caps,
sending to London for wonderful dressing- jackets
and nightgowns, pretending I was out of danger
and on the road to convalescence, long before I
even had a normal temperature. Benham fought
against all the indulgences that Ella and I ordered
and Dr. Kennedy never opposed. Seeing visitors,
sitting up in bed, reading the newspapers, abandon-
ing invalid diet in favour of caviare and foie gras,
strange rich dishes. Benham despised Dr. Kennedy
and said we could always get round him, make him
say whatever we wished. More than once she
threatened to throw up the case. I did not want
her to go. I knew, if I did not admit it, that my
convalescence was not established. I had no real
confidence in myself, was much weaker than any-
body but myself knew, with disquieting symptoms.
It exhausted me to fight with her continually, one
day I told her so, and that she was retarding my
recovery. " I am older than you, and I hate to be
ordered about or contradicted."
" But I am so much more experienced in illness.
You know I only want to do what is best for you.
You are not strong enough to do half the things you
are doing. You turn Dr. Kennedy round your
little finger, you and Mrs. Lovegrove. He knows
well enough you ought not to be getting up and
seeing people. You will want to go down next.
And as for the things you eat ! "
" I shall go down next week. I suppose I shall
be exhausted before I get there, arguing with you
whether I ought or ought not to go."
By this time I had got rid of the night nurse,
Benham looked after me night and day devotedly.
I was no longer indifferent to her. She angered me
nevertheless, and we quarrelled bitterly. The least
drawback, however, and I could not bear her out
of the room. She did not reproach me, I must say
that for her. When a horrible bilious attack
followed an invalid dinner of melon and homard a
I'americaine she stood by my side for hours trying
every conceivable remedy. And without a word of
After my haemorrhage I had a few weeks' rest
from the neuritis and then it started again. I cried
out for my forsaken nepenthe, but Peter Kennedy
and Nurse Benham for once agreed, persuaded or
forced me to codein. Dear half-sister to my beloved
morphia, we became friends at once. Three or four
days later the neuritis went suddenly, and has never
returned. One night I took the nepenthe as well,
and that night I saw Margaret Capel again.
" When are you going to begin ? " she asked me
" The very moment I can hold a pen. Now my
hand shakes. And Ella or nurse is always here
I am never alone."
" You've forgotten all about me," she said with
indescribable sadness. " You won't write it at
" No, I haven't. I shall. But when one has been
so ill . . . " I pleaded.
" Other people write when they are ill. You
remember Green, and Robert Louis Stevenson. As
for me, I never felt well."
The next day, before Dr. Kennedy came, I asked
Benham to leave us alone together. He still came
daily, but she disapproved of his methods and told
me that she only stayed in the room and gave him
her report because she thought it her duty. They
were temperamentally opposed. She had the
scientific mind and believed in authority. His was
imaginative, desultory, doubtful, but wide and
enquiring. Both of them were interested in me, so
at least Ella told me. She was satisfied now with my
doctoring and nursing. At least a week had passed
since she suggested a substitute for either,
Dr. Kennedy, when we were alone, said, as he did
when nurse was standing there :
" Well! how are you getting on?"
" Splendidly." And then, without any circumlo-
cution, although we had not spoken of the matter
for weeks, and so much had occurred in the mean-
time, I asked him.: " What did you do about that
packet? I want it now. I am quite well enough."
" You have not seen her since? "
" Over and over again. She thinks I am shirking
" Are you well enough to write ? "
" I am well enough to read. When will you bring
me the letters?"
" I brought them when I said I would, the day
you were taken ill."
"Where are they?"
" In the first drawer, the right-hand drawer of the
chest of drawers." He turned round to it. " That
is, if they have not been moved. I put the packet
there myself, told nurse it was something that was
not to be touched. The morphia things are in the
same place. I don't know what she thinks it is, some
new and useless drug or apparatus; she has no
opinion of me, you know. I used to see it night
and morning, as long as you were having the injec-
" See if it is there now."
He went over and opened the drawer :
" It is there right enough."
" Oh ! don't be like nurse," I said impatiently. " I
am strong enough to look at the packet."
He gave it to me, into my hands, an ordinary
brown paper parcel, tied with string and heavily,
awkwardly, splotched and protected with sealing-
wax. I could have sworn to his handiwork.
" Why are you smiling? " he asked.
" Only at the neatness of your parcel." He smiled
" I tied it up in a hurry. I didn't want to be
tempted to look inside."
" So you make me guardian and executrix ..."
" Margaret herself said you were to have them,"
he answered seriously.
" She didn't tell you so. You have only my word
for it," I retorted.
" Better evidence than that, although that would
have been enough. How else did you know they
were in existence? Why were you looking for
The parcel lay on the quilt, and all sorts of
difficulties rose in my mind. I would not open it
unless I was alone, and I was never alone ; literally
never alone unless I was supposed to be asleep. And,
thanks to codein, when I was supposed to be asleep
the supposition was generally correct! Thinking
aloud, I asked Dr. Kennedy:
"Am I out of danger?"
He answered lightly and evasively :
" No one is ever really out of danger. I take my
life in my hands every time I go in my motor."
" Oh, yes ! I've heard about your driving," I
" I am supposed to be reckless, but really I am
only unlucky. With luck now ..."
"Yes, with luck?"
" You might go on for any time. I shouldn't
worry about that if I were you. You are getting
" I am not worrying, only thinking about Mrs.
Lovegrove. She has two children, a large house,
literary and other engagements. Will you tell her
I am well enough to be left alone ? " He answered
quickly and surprised :
" She does not want to go, she likes being with
you. Not that I wonder at that."
He was a strange person. Sometimes I had an
idea he was not " all there." He said whatever
came into his mind, and had other divergencies from
the ordinary type. I had to explain to him my
need of solitude. If Ella went back to town,
Benham would soon, I hoped, with a little encourage-
ment, fall into the way of ordinary nurses. I had
had them in London and knew their habits. Two
or three hours in the morning for their so-called
" constitutionals," two or three hours in the after-
noon for sleep, whether they had been disturbed in
the night or not; in the intervals there were the
meals over which they lingered. Solitude would
be easily secured if Ella went away and there was
no one to watch or comment on the amount of atten-
tion purchased or purchasable for two guineas a
week. I misread Benham, by the way, but that is
a detail. She was not like the average nurse, and
never behaved in the same way.
My first objective, once that brown paper parcel
lay on the bed, was to persuade Ella to go back to
home and children. Without hurting her feelings.
She would not have left the house for five minutes
before I should be longing for her back again. I
knew that, but one cannot work and play. I have
never had any other companion but Ella. Still . . .
Work whilst ye have the light. One more book I
must do, and here was one to my hand.
I made Dr. Kennedy put the parcel back in the
drawer. Then I lay and made plans. I must talk
to Ella of Violet and Tommy, make her homesick
for them. Unfortunately Ella knew me so well. I
started that very afternoon.
" How does Violet get on without you ? "
" She is all right."
But soon afterwards Ella asked me quietly
whether there was any one else I would like down.
" God forbid ! " I answered in alarm, and she
understood, understood without showing pang or
offence, that I wanted to be alone. One thing Ella
never quite realised, my wretched inability to live in
two worlds at once, the real and the unreal. When
I want to write there is no use giving me certain
hours or times to myself. I want all the days and
all the nights. I don't wish to be spoken to, nor
torn away from my story and new friends. For this
reason I have always had to leave London many
months in the year, for the seaside or abroad.
London meant Ella, almost daily, at the telephone if
"You don't write all day, do you? What are
you pretending? Don't be so absurd, you must go
out sometimes. I am fetching you in the car
at . . ."
And then I was lured by her to theatres, dinners,
lunches. She thought people liked to meet me, but
I have rarely noticed any interest taken in a female
novelist, however many editions she may run
through. My strength was returning, if slowly.
Ella of course had duties to those children of hers
that sometimes I resented so unreasonably. I
always wished her early widowhood had left her
without ties. However, the call of them came in
usefully now ; it was not necessary for me to press
it. I came first with her, I exulted in it. But since
I was getting better . . .
I wished to be alone with that parcel. I did
make a tentative effort before Ella left.
" I don't want to settle off to sleep just yet, nurse,
I should like to read a little. There is a packet of
letters . . ."
" No ! No ! I wouldn't hear of such a thing.
Starting reading at ten o'clock. What will you be
wanting to do next ? "
" It would not do me any harm," I answered
irritably. " I've told you before it does me more
harm to be contradicted every time I make a sugges-
" Well, you won't get me to help you to commit
suicide. Night is the time for sleep, and you've had
" The codein does not send me to sleep, it only
soothes and quiets me."
" All the more reason you should not wake your-
self up by any old letters." She argued, and I ...
At the end I was too tired and out of humour to
insist. I made up my mind to do without a nurse
as soon as possible, and in the meantime not to
argue but to circumvent her. At this time, before
Ella went, I was getting up every day for a few
hours, lying on the couch by the window. I tested
my strength and found I could walk from bed to
sofa, from sofa to easy-chair without nurse's arm,
if I made the effort.
"You will take care of yourself?" were Ella's
last words, and I promised impatiently.
" I don't so much mind leaving you alone now,
you have your Peter, and nurse won't let you overdo
" You have your Peter." Can one imagine any-
thing more ridiculous! My incurably frivolous
sister imagined I had fallen in love, with that lout !
I was unable to persuade her to the contrary. She
argued, that at my worst and before, I would have
no other attendant. And she pointed out that it
could not possibly be Peter Kennedy's skill that
attracted me. I defended him, feebly perhaps, for
it was true that he had not shown any special apti-
tude or ability. I said he was quite as good as any of
the others, and certainly less depressing.
"There is no good humbugging me, or trying
to. You are in love with the man. Don't trouble
to contradict it. And I am not a bit jealous. I
only hope he will make you happy. Nurse told me
you do not even like her to come into the room
when he is here."
" Don't you know how old I am ? It is really
undignified, humiliating, to be talked to or of in
that way ..."
" Age has nothing to do with it. A woman is
never too old to fall in love. And besides, what is
thirty-nine ? "
" In this case it is forty-two," I put in drily,
my sense of humour not being entirely in abeyance.
" Well ! or forty-two. Anyway you will admit
I took a hint very quickly. I am going to leave you
alone with your Corydon."
" He is not bad-looking really, it is only his
clothes. And if anything comes of it you will send
him to Poole's. Anyway his feet and hands are
all right, and there is a certain grace about his
" Really, Ella, I can't bear any more. Love runs
in your head ; feeds your activities, agrees with you.
But as for me, I've long outgrown it. I am tired,
old, ill. Peter Kennedy is just not objectionable.
Other doctors are. He is honest, simple . . ."
" I will hear all about his qualities next time I
come. Only don't think you are deceiving me. God
bless you, dear." She turned suddenly serious.
' You know I would not go if you wanted me to
stop or if I were uneasy about you any more. You
know I will come down again at any moment you
want me. I shall miss my train if I don't rush.
Can I send you anything? I won't forget the sofa
rug, and if you think of anything else . . ."
Her maid knocked at the door and said the flyman
had called up to say she must come at once. Her
last words were : " Well, good-bye again, and tell
him I give my consent. Tell him he gave the show
away himself. I have known about it ever since
the first night I was here when he told me what an
interesting woman you were ..."
" Good-bye . . thanks for everything. I'm
sorry you've got that mad idea in your silly
head. . ." She was gone. I heard her voice outside
the window giving directions to the man and then
the crunch of the fly wheels on the gravel as she was
THAT night, the very night after Ella had gone, I
tested my slowly returning strength. Benham gave
me my codein, and saw that I was well provided
with all I might need for the night; the lemonade
and glycerine lozenges, a second codein on the table
by my side, the electric bell to my hand. This bell
had been put up since the night nurse left; it rang
into Benham's bedroom. I waited for a quarter of
an hour after she had gone, she had a habit of
coming back to see if I had forgotten anything,
or to show me how thick and abundant her hair was
without the uniform cap. I should have felt like a
criminal when I stole out of bed. But I did not,
I felt like an invalid, and a feeble one at that. It
was only a couple of steps from the bed to the chest
of drawers and I accomplished it without mishap,
then was back again in bed, only to remember the
seals were still unbroken and the string firm. A
pair of nail scissors were on the dressing-table. I
was disinclined for the journey, but managed it
all the same. I was then so exhausted I had to
wait for a quarter of an hour before I was able to
use them. Only then was my curiosity rewarded.
A small number of letters, not more than fifteen
or sixteen in all, a bound diary, a very cursory
glance at which showed me the disingenuousness,
and half a dozen pages of MS. notes or chapter
headings with several trial titles, " Between the
Nisi and the Absolute," " Publisher and Sinner,"
headed two separate pages. " The Story of an
Unhappy Woman " the third. The notes were all
in the first person, and I should have known them
anywhere for Margaret Capel's.
Small as the whole cache was, I did not think it
possible I could get through it all that night.
Neither did it seem possible to get out of bed again.
The papers must remain where they were, or under-
neath my pillow. I should be strong enough, I
hoped, by the morning to put up with or con-
front any wrath or argument Benham would
I had got up because I chose. That was the
beginning and end of it. She must learn to put up
with my ways, or I with a change of nurse.
The letters were in an elastic band, without
envelopes, labelled and numbered. Margaret's were
on paper of a light mauve, with lines, like foreign
paper. Her handwriting, masculine and square,
was not very readable. She rarely dotted an i or
crossed a t, used the Greek e and many ellipses.
Gabriel's letters were as easy to read as print. It
was a pity therefore that hers were so much longer
than his. Still, once I began I was sorry to leave
off, and should not have done so if I could have
kept my eyes open or my attention from wandering.
I am printing them just as they stand, those that I
read that night, at least. Here they are:
No. i. 211 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W.,
January 29th, 1902.
Would you care to publish a book by me on
Staffordshire Pottery? What I have in my mind
is a limited edition de luxe, illustrated in colours,
highly priced. I may say I have a collection which
I believe to be unique, if not complete, upon which
I propose to draw largely. Of course the matter
would have to be discussed both from your point
of view and, mine. This is merely to ask if you
My name is probably not unknown to you, or
rather my pseudonym.
The critics have been kind to my novels, and I see
no reason why they should be less so to a
monograph on a subject I thoroughly understand.
Although perhaps that will be hard for them to
forgive. For it will be reviewed, if at all, by critics
less well informed.
MARGARET CAPEL ("Simon Dare"}.
Author of " The Immoralists,"
" Love and the Lutist," etc.
Messrs. Stanton & Co.
No. 2. 117-118 Greyfriars' Square, E.G.,
January 3Oth, 1902.
I have to thank you for your letter of yesterday
with its suggestion for a book on Staffordshire
The subject is outside my own knowledge, but
I find there is no comprehensive work dealing with
it, a small elementary booklet published in the Mid-
lands some three years ago being the only volume
In any case there can hardly be a large public for
so special an interest, and it will probably be best,
as you indicate, to issue a limited edition at a high
price and appeal direct by prospectus to collectors.
The success of the publication would be then largely
dependent on the beauty of the illustrations and
the general " get up " of the volume, for although I
have no doubt your text will be excellent and
accurate it must be properly " dressed " to secure
Indeed I have the privilege of knowing your
novels well. They have always appealed to me as
having the cardinal qualities of courage and actual-
ity. Complete frankness combined with delicacy
and literary skill is so rare with modern-day writers
that your work stands out.
Could you very kindly make it convenient to call
here so that we may discuss the details and plan
for the Staffordshire book? This would save a
good deal of correspondence.
I will gladly keep any appointment you make
please avoid Saturday, as I try to take that day
off at this time of year to go to a little fishing I
have in Hampshire.
,, . GABRIEL STANTON.
No. 3. 211 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W.,
February ist, 1902.
I am obliged by your courteous letter, and will
be with you at four o'clock whichever day suits you.
I propose to bring with me a short synopsis of " The
Staffordshire Potters, Their Inspiration and
Results," and also a couple of specimens from which
you might make experiments for illustrations. I
want to place the book definitely before writing it.
Domestic circumstances with which I need not
trouble you, they are I fear already public
property, make it advisable I should remain, if not
sequestered, at least practically in retreat for the
next few months. I find I cannot concentrate my
mind on a novel at this juncture. But my cottages
and quaint figures, groups and animals, jugs and
plates, retain their attraction, and I shall do a better
book about them now, when I am dependent on
things and isolated from people, than I should at
any other time.
It is good of you to say what you do about my
novels, but I doubt if I shall ever write another.
My courage has turned to cowardice, and under
cross-examination I found my frankness was no
longer complete. I have taken a dislike to humanity.
No. 4. 211 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W.,
February 6th, 1902.
Dear Mr, Stanton:
The agreement promised has not yet arrived ; nor
your photographer ; but I have made a first selection
for him, and I think you will find it sufficiently
varied according to your suggestion. Thirty illustra-
tions in colour and seventy in monochrome will
give the cream of my collection, and be representa-
tive, although of course not exhaustive. I have
375 specimens, no two alike ! Ten groups, with the
dancing dogs for the half-title, six cottages, six
single figures, and the rest animal pieces will all
look well in the process you showed me. I propose
the large so-called classical examples in mono-
chrome; their undoubted coarseness will then be
toned down in black or brown and none of their
interest destroyed. Julia, Lady Tweeddale, has one
piece of which I have never been able to secure a
duplicate, and so has Mr. Montague Guest. Do you
think it advisable to ask permission to photograph
these for inclusion, or would it be better to use only
my own collection, and keep to the personal note
in the letterpress?
Our brief interview gave me the feeling that I
may ask you for help in any difficulty or perplexity
that occurs in the preparation of a work so new to
me. You were very kind to me. I daresay I seemed
to you nervous and uncertain of how I meant to
proceed. I felt like a trembling amateur in that big
office of yours. I have never interviewed a
publisher before ; my novels always went by post
and came back that way too, at first ! I had a false
conception of publishers, based on but I must not
tell you upon whom it was based. Although why
not? Perhaps you will recognise the portrait. A
little pot-bellied person, Jewish or German, with a
cough, or a sniff, or a sneeze, a suggestion of a
coming expectoration, speaking many languages
badly and apparently all at once ; impressed with his
own importance, talking Turgenieff and looking
Abimelech. Why Abimelech I don't know ; but that
is the hero of whom he reminds me. I met him at
a literary garden party to which I was bidden after
" The Immoralists " had been so favourably
reviewed. It was given by a lady who seemed to
know everybody and like no one, a keen two-bladed
tongue leapt out among her guests, scarifying them.
She told me Mr. Rosenstein was not only a publisher
but an amorist. He looked curiously unlike it; but
an introduction and a short interview turned me
sceptic of my own impression, inclined me to the
belief in hers.
I have wandered from my theme your kindness,
my nervousness. I shall try to do credit to your
penetration. You said that you were sure I should
make a success of anything I undertook ! I wonder
if you were right. And if my Staffordshire book
will prove you so? I am going to try and make it
interesting, not too technical! But my intentions
vary all the time. A preliminary chapter on clays
was in my first scheme, I now want instead to tell
of the family history of half a dozen potters. From
this I begin to dream of stories of the figures ; the
short- waisted husband and wife a-marketing with
their basket of fruit and vegetables, the clergyman
in the tithe piece, a benignant villain this, with a
Dear Mr. Stanton, what will happen if it turns out
that I cannot write a monograph, but am only a
novelist? You said I could trust you to act as
Editor and blue-pencil my redundancies. But what
if it should be all redundancy? Put something
about this in the agreement, will you? I want to
make money, but not at your expense. I am
nervous. I fear that instead of a book on Stafford-
shire Pottery I shall give you an illustrated volume
of short stories published at five guineas!! What
an outcry from the press! Already I have been
called " precious." Now they will talk of " preten-
tiousness " ; the " grand manner " without the grand
brain behind it! Will you really help and advise
me? I have never felt less self-confident.
No. 5. 118 Greyfriars' Square, E.G.,
February 6th, 1902.
Dear Mrs. Cap el:
As we arranged at our interview yesterday I now
enclose a draft contract for the book.
If there is any point not entirely clear to you
please do not hesitate to tell me, and I shall be glad
also of any suggestion or criticism that may occur
to you in regard to possible alteration of the various
clauses, and will do my best to meet your wishes.
For I am more than anxious that we shall begin
what I hope will prove a long and successful
" partnership " with complete understanding and
Further enquiry makes me sanguine that the
scheme is a good one, and we will do everything we
can to produce a beautiful book.
May I say that it was a great pleasure and
privilege to me to meet you here yesterday ? I hope
the interest you will find in this present work will
afford you some relief during this time of trouble
and anxiety you are passing through ; and counteract
to some extent at least the pettiness and publicity
of litigation. I only refer to this with the greatest
respect and sympathy.
There are many details, not only of the contract,
but for the plan of the book, which we could
certainly best arrange if we discussed them, rather
than by writing.
Could you make it convenient to lunch with me
one day next week ? I shall be in the West End on
Wednesday, and suggest the Cafe Royal at two
It would be good of you to meet me there.
No. 6. 211 Queen Anne's Gate,
February yth, 1902.
Dear Mr. Stanton:
Our letters crossed. Thanks for yours with
agreement. The greater part seems to me to be
merely technical, and I have no observations to
make about it.
Par. 2 : guaranteeing that the work is in no way
" a violation of any existing copyright," etc. I
think this is your concern rather than mine. You
say there is a book existing on Staffordshire Pottery,
perhaps you can get me a copy, and then I can see
that ours shall be entirely different.
Par. 7 : beginning " accounts to be made up
annually," etc., seems to give you an exceptionally
long time to pay me anything that may be due. But
perhaps I misunderstand it.
Therefore, and perhaps for other reasons, I very
gladly accept your kind invitation to lunch with you
on Wednesday at the Cafe Royal, and will be there
at two, bringing the agreement with me.
With kind regards,
Yours very truly,
No. 7. 118 Greyfriars' Square, E.G.,
February i3th, 1902.
Dear Mrs. Cap el:
I am breaking into the commonplace routine of a
particularly tiresome business day, to give myself
the pleasure of writing to you, and you will forgive
me if I purposely avoid business for indeed it
seems to me today that life might be so pleasant
without work. That little grumble has done me
good. I want to say what I fear I did not express
to you yesterday how greatly I enjoyed our talk.
It was good of you to come and more good of you
to tell me something of your present difficulties. I
wish I could have been more helpful but please
believe I am more sympathetic than I was able to
let you know, and I do understand much of what
must be trying and unhappy for you during these
weeks. Counsels of perfection are poor comfort,
but perhaps that some one is most genuinely in
accord with you and anxious to help in any way
possible may be of some little value.
I beg you to believe that this is so, and I should
welcome the chance of being of any service to you.
This all reads very formal I fear, but your kindness
must interpret the spirit rather than the letter.
Last evening I went into an old curiosity shop
to try and find a wedding-present for a niece who
is also my god-daughter, and I secured six beautiful
Chippendale chairs. Curiously enough the man
showed me what he said was the best specimen of
Staffordshire he had ever had. A group of musi-
cians seeming to my inexperienced eye good in
colour and design. I know not what impulse per-
suaded me to buy the piece. To-day I am fearing
that my purchase is not genuine. May I bring it
to you on Sunday for approval or condemnation?
Don't trouble to answer if you will be at home
I will call at five o'clock.
Now I must return to less pleasant business
affairs the telephone is insistent.
Yours very sincerely,
No. 8. 211 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W.,
I4th February, 1902.
Dear Mr. Stanton:
Thank you so much for your kind letter, it made
a charming savoury to that little luncheon you
ordered. Did I tell you how much I enjoyed it? If
not, please understand I am doing so now. The
mousse was a dream of delight, the roses were very
helpful. I have a theory about flowers and food,
and how to blend them. Which reminds me that
my father wants to share with me in the pleasure of
your acquaintance and bids me ask if you will dine
with us on the 24th at eight o'clock. This of course
must not prevent your coming Sunday afternoon
with your pottery " find." I am more than curious,
I am devoured with curiosity to see it. I don't know
a Staffordshire " group of musicians," it sounds like
Chelsea ! Bring it by all means, but if it is Stafford-
shire and not in my collection, I warn you I shall at
once begin bargaining with you, spending my royal-
ties in advance ! Yes ! I think I hate business too,
as you say, and should like to avoid it. We were
fairly successful, by the way, in the Cafe Royal!
Our talk ranged over a large field, became rather
personal I think I spoke too freely; it must have
been the Steinberger! or because I am really very
worried and depressed. Depression is the old age
of the emotions, and garrulousness its distressing
No. 9. 118 Greyfriars' Square, E.C.,
1 5th February, 1902.
Dear Mrs. Capel:
I am so glad to have your letter and look forward
to Sunday. Should my little pottery " find " prove
authentic* I have no doubt we can arrange for its
transfer to you, on business or even unbusiness
I accept with pleasure your invitation to dinner
on the 24th. I have heard often of your father
from my friend Wilfrid Henning, who attends to
what little investments I make and who meets
your father in connection with that big Newfound-
land scheme for connecting the traffic from the
Eastern ports to Lake Ontario. I should value the
opportunity to hear of it, first hand.
Yours most sincerely,
No. 10. 211 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W.,
1 6th February, 1902.
Dear Mr. Stanton:
I am no longer puzzled about the " musicians " ;
it is Staffordshire, I was convinced of that from the
first but had to confirm my impression. I will tell
you all about it when we meet again (on the 24th),
I am sure you will be interested. I want you to let
me have it. Whatever you paid for it I will give
you, and any profit you like. I won't bargain with
you, but I really feel I can never part with it again.
It was a wonderful chance that you should find
it. Wasn't Sunday altogether strange? Such a
crowd, and so difficult to talk. I shall have to get
out of London, I have a sense of fatigue all the
time, of restless incoherent fear. I dread sympathy,
and scent curiosity as if it were carrion. In that
little talk I had among the tea-things I said none of
the things I meant. I believe you understood this,
although you only said yes, and yes again to my
wildest suggestions. I am only epigrammatic when
I am shy; it is the form taken by my mental stam-
mer. Epigrams come to me too, when I have a
scene in my head too big to write. I find my hand
shaking, heart beating, tremulous. Then my queer
brain relieves the pressure on my feelings and
stammers out my scene in short cryptic sentences.
That is why, although I am an emotional thinker,
I am what you are pleased to call an intellectual
And now for the agreement, in which I have
ventured to make alterations, and even additions.
Will you return it to me with comments if you think
I have been too difficult or exacting. My father tells
me I have inherited his business ability. He means
to pay me a compliment, but I gather your point of
view is that business ability is but deformity in an
intellectual woman? I'm sorry for this deformity
of mine, realising the unfavourable impression it
may create. Try and forgive me for it, won't you ?
You need not even remember it when you are telling
me what I am to give you for the Staffordshire
With kind regards,
Yours very sincerely,
No. n. 118 Greyfriars' Square, E.G.,
1 7th February, 1902.
Dear Mrs. Capel:
What good news about the little " Staffordshire "
piece ! I am really delighted. Please don't mar my
pleasure in thinking of it happily housed with you
by questions of price or bargaining. Rather add
to my pride in my " find " by accepting it as a
small recognition of my great good fortune in
having made your acquaintance.
Out of the chatter and clatter of the tea on
Sunday the things you said remain with me; if they
were epigrams they were vivid and to me very real.
I hated everything that interrupted and hated
going away. Quite humbly I say that I think I did
understand, and was longing to tell you so. But I
have never had the tongue of a ready speaker, and
as I left your beautiful home I was choked with
unspoken words a cleverer man would have found
How much I wished I could have expressed my-
self. I wanted to say that I had no hateful curiosity,
but only an overwhelming sympathy and desire for
your confidence, a bedrock craving for your friend-
ship. May I be your friend? May I? Or am I
presuming on your kindness and too short an
Anyhow, I can't write on business, the contract
is to go through with all your alterations.
Looking forward to the 24th, I need only sign,
Yours very truly,
No. 12. 211 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W.,
1 8th February, 1902.
Dear Mr. Stanton:
I don't know what to say about " The Musicians,"
that is why I have not already written to say it ! I
have not put the group into my collection, it is on
my bedroom mantelpiece. I see it when I first wake
in the morning, it is the last thing upon which my
tired eyes rest before I turn off the light at night.
Sometimes I think those musicians are playing the
prelude to the friendship of which you speak.
I wonder why you are so curiously sympathetic to
me, and why I mind so little admitting it. Friend-
ship has been rare in my life. You offer me yours,
and I am on the point of accepting it; thinking all
the time what it may mean, what I can give you in
return. An hour now and again of detached talk, a
great deal of trouble with my literary affairs . . .
there is not much in that for you; is there? Are
the Musicians really a gift? They must go on play-
ing to me softly then, and the prelude be slow and
long-drawn-out. I am afraid even of friendship,
that is the truth. I'm disillusioned, disappointed,
tired. Nothing has ever happened to me as I meant
it. When I first came from America with my
father, I was full of the wildest hopes, and now I
have outlived them all. It is not an affectation, it is
a profound truth, and at twenty-eight I find myself
worn out, dimmed, exhausted. I have had fame
(a small measure of it, but enough for comparison),
wealth, and that horrid nightmare, love.
My father spoiled me when I was small, believed
too much in me. He thought me a genius, and I
. . . perhaps I thought so too. I puzzled and per-
plexed him, and he felt overweighted with his
responsibilities, with character-studying an egotistic
girl of sixteen. The result was a stepmother. Can
you imagine what I suffered! She began almost
immediately to suffocate me with her kindness. She
too admitted I was a genius. Do you know we had
the idea, these besotted parents of mine and I, that
I was to be a great pianist ! I practised many hours
a day, sustained by jellies, and beef-tea and encour-
agement. I had the best teachers, a few weeks in
Dresden with Lentheric, my father poured out his
money like water. The end of that period was a
prolonged fainting fit, the first of many, the
discovery I had a weak heart, that the exertion of
piano-playing affected it unfavourably. I came back
from Dresden at eighteen, was presented the same
year, the papers said I was beautiful; father put
himself out of the way to be nice to pressmen; he
had acquired the habit in America whilst he was
building up his fortune. That I was accounted
beautiful and could play Chopin and was to have a
fortune, made me appear also brilliant. My father
paid for the printing of my first book. My first
one-act play was performed at a West End theatre.
Then I met James Capel. Mr. Justice Jeune knows
the story of my married life better than any one
else. I was high-spirited before it began. At the
end of a year I was physically, mentally, morally
a wreck. I don't know which of us hated the other
more, my husband or I. Anyway, he made no
objection to my returning to my father. My step-
mother's suffocating kindness descended upon me
again, and now I found it healing. When I was
healed I wrote " The Immoralists." Then my
father's pride in me revived. He and my step-
mother kept open house and collected celebrities to
show the dimness of their light as a background for
my supposed more brilliant shining! Society was
pleased to come, my father growing always richer.
... I wrote "The Farce of Fearlessness" and
"Love and the Lutist " about this time, and my
other play. When my husband made it imperative
by his proved and public blackguardism I resorted to
the law, and acting under advice, fought him in the
arena he chose, and have now won my freedom, but
at an incredible, hardly yet to be realised cost, all
my wounds exposed in the market-place.
I wonder why I am recapitulating all this. I think
it is to show you I am in no mood for friendship.
There are times when I am savage with pain, and
times when I am exhausted from it, times when I
feel bruised all over, so tender that the touch of
a word brings tears, times when my overwhelming
pity for myself leaves me incapable of realizing
anything beyond my wrongs. I say I have won my
freedom, but even this is untrue : at present I have
only won six months of probation, during which I
am still James Capel's wife. Sometimes I think
I shall never live through them, the stain of my
connection with him is like mortification.
The prelude played by the Musicians is a prelude
to a dream.
And still I am grateful you gave them to me.
Your very truly,
When I had read as far as this the codein exerted
its influence. My eyelids drooped, I slept and re-
covered myself. The sense of what I was reading
began to escape, I knew it was time to put the bundle
away. There were not very many more letters. I
put all the papers on the table by my side, then
dropped off. Margaret betrayed herself completely
in her letters. Gabriel Stanton was still a strange
THE few words I had with Nurse Benham the next
morning cleared the air and the situation between
us. The strange thing was that at first she did not
notice the parcel at all, still loose and untidy in the
paper in which Dr. Kennedy had enwrapped it. Not
until I told her to be careful not to spill the tea
over it did it strike her to wonder how it came there.
" Did Suzanne give you that ? " she asked suspi-
" She has not been in my room since you left
" That's the very parcel you asked for the other
night. How ever did you get hold of it ? "
" After you left me I got out of bed and fetched
" You got out of bed ! " She grew red in the
face with rage or incredulity.
" Yes, twice. Once for the parcel and once for
the scissors ! "
She did not speak at once, standing there with her
flushed face. So I went on :
" It is absurd for you to insist on me doing this
or that, or leaving it undone. You are here to take
care of me, not to bully and tyrannise over me."
" I am no good to you at all. I'd better go. You
will take matters into your own hands. I never
knew such a patient, never. One would think you'd
no sense at all, that you didn't know how ill you
" That is no reason why I should not be allowed
to get better. Believe me, the only way for that
to come about is that I should be allowed to lead my
own life in my own way."
" To get up in the middle of the night with the
window wide open, to walk about the room in your
nightgown ! "
" I should not have done so, you know, if you had
passed me the things when I asked you for them."
" You don't want a nurse at all," she repeated.
" Yes, I do. What I don't want is a gaoler."
I was on the sofa when Dr. Kennedy called, the
papers on the table beside me. He asked eagerly
what I thought of them :
" I see you have got at them. Are you disap-
pointed, exhilarated? Are they illuminative? Tell
me about them ; I want so much to hear."
He had forgotten to ask how I was.
" I will tell you about them presently. I haven't
read them all. Up to now they are certainly
disappointing, if not dull ! They are business letters,
to begin with. But it is obvious she is trying to get
up something like a flirtation with him."
" Oh, yes ! I have watched Ella, my sister Mrs.
Lovegrove, for years. She is past mistress of the
art of flirtation. Sentiment and the appeal of her
femininity, a note of unhappiness and the suggestion
the man's friendship may assuage it ..."
" Mrs. Lovegrove is a very charming woman.
But Margaret Capel was not in the least like her."
" Or any other woman? "
" You have put yourself out of court. No woman
is unlike any other. Your ' pale fair Margaret '
admits, from the first, that Gabriel Stanton attracts
her. And this at a moment when she should allow
herself to be attracted by no man. When she has
just gone through the horrors of the Divorce Court."
" You are not bringing that up against her ? "
" I am not bringing anything up against her.
But you asked me about the letters. I have only
read a dozen of them, and that is how they strike
me. A little dull and, on her part, flirtatious."
" I hope you won't do the book at all if you don't
" Believe me I shall be sympathetic if there is
anything with which to sympathise. Do you know
her early life, or history? It is hinted at, partly
revealed here, but I should like to see it clearly."
"Won't she tell you herself?" He smiled. I
answered his smile.
" She has left off coming since I have begun to
get well. I shall have to write the book, if I write
it at all, without further help. By the way, talking
about getting better, I know that doctoring bores
you, but I want to know how much better I am
going to get ? I am as weak as a rat ; my legs refuse
to carry me, my hand shakes when I get a pen in it.
I shall get the story into my head from these
papers," I added, with something of the depression
that I was feeling : " But I don't see how I am to get
it out again. I don't see how I shall ever have the
strength to put it on paper."
" That will come. There is no hurry about that.
As a matter of fact I believe letters are copyright
for fourteen years. It isn't twelve yet."
It was not worth while to put him right on the
t pyright acts.
" You'll be going downstairs next week, you'll be
at your writing-table, her writing-table in the draw-
ing-room. You ask me about her early life. I only
know her father was a wealthy American absolutely
devoted to her. He married for the second time
when she was fifteen or sixteen and they both
concentrated on her. She was remarkable even as a
child, obviously a genius, very beautiful."
" She outgrew that," I said emphatically.
" She was a very beautiful woman," he insisted.
And then said more lightly, " You must remember
you have only seen her ghost." The retort pleased
me and I let the subject of Margaret Capel's beauty
drop. She interested me less when I felt well, and
notwithstanding my active night I felt compara-
tively well this morning. Since I could not get him
to take my weakness seriously I told him my griev-
ance against nurse.
" When she hears I am to go down next week she
will have a fit. I wish for once you would use your
medical authority and tell her I am on no account
to be contradicted or thwarted."
" I'll tell her so if you like, but I never see her.
She runs like a rabbit when I come near."
" You are not professional enough for her taste,
there are too few examinations and prescriptions.
How is my unsatisfactory lung, by the way? Give
a guess, something scientific to retail. I must keep
" There has not been time for the physical signs
to have cleared up yet. I'll listen if you like, but
after seeing all those specialists I should have
thought you were tired of saying ' 99 '."
" They varied it sometimes. ' 999 ' seems to be
the latest wheeze."
" I wish you had not left off seeing Margaret,"
" It is a pity," I laughed at him. " You should
not have dropped giving me the morphia so soon."
" You wouldn't have it."
" It was dulling my brain. I felt myself growing
stupid and more stupid."
" You only had one-quarter grain twice a day for
the inside of a week, and there was atropin in it. If
it had really had a deadening effect upon you you
would not have refused it, but just gone on. Not
that I believe anything would ever dull your brain."
I wished Ella could have heard him, it would have
confirmed her in her folly and made for my amuse-
ment. He left shortly after paying me that remark-
able compliment, but stopped on his way out to speak
to Benham. The immediate effect of his words was
to make her silent and perhaps sullen for a few
hours. After which, but still under protest, she
gave me whatever I asked for, and began to be
more like other nurses in the time she took off duty
for exercise, sleep, and meals. She even yawned in
my face on the rare occasions when I summoned
her in the night. I tried to chaff her back into good
humour, but without much success.
" Do you find me any worse for having got out of
leading strings? " I asked her. " Have pencils and
MS. paper sent up my temperature ? "
" You are not out of the wood yet," she retorted
" No, but I am enjoying its unbrageous rest," I
returned. " Reading my papers in the shadows."
" Shadow enough ! "
" That's right. Mind you go on keeping up my
spirits." She did smile then, but she was obviously
dissatisfied, both with me and Dr. Kennedy. I was
taking no drugs, doing a little more each day, in the
way of moving about. And yet I could not call
myself convalescent. My legs were stiff and my
back heavy. I had no feeling of returning vigour.
What little I did I forced myself to do. I had
hardly the energy to finish the letters. Had it not
been for Dr. Kennedy I don't believe, at this stage,
I should have finished them! Although the next
two or three set me thinking, and I was again
visualising the writers. Not that Gabriel Stanton
betrayed himself in his letters, as Margaret did in
hers. I had to reconcile him with the donnish master
of Greek roots, whom I had met and been ignored
by, in Greyfriars' Square. This was his answer to
her last effusion.
No. 13. 1 1 8 Greyfriars' Square,
1 9th February, 1902.
Dear Mrs. Capel:
I have read your letter ten twenty times; my
business day was filled and transformed by it. Now
it is midnight and I am alone in the stillness of my
room, the routine of the day and the evening over,
and my brain, not always very quick, alight with
the wonderment of your words, and my restless
anxiety to respond. Don't, I implore you, belittle
the possibility of friendship!
Surely the value of it is only proved by its needs?
May I not say that in this crisis in your life
friendship may be much to you. Can I hope that my
privilege may be to fill the need ?
Fowhave been so splendidly frank and outspoken.
7 have suffered all my life from a sort of stupid
reticence, probably cowardly. But to-night, and
to you, I want to throw off the habit of years and
not miss, before it is too late, the luxury of being
Well, I am hot with hatred that you should have
been hurt, and yet I am happy that you have told
me of your wounds. To-night I pray that it may
be given to me to heal them.
I am writing this because I must though conven-
tionally the shortness of our acquaintance does not
justify me. But I have been conventional so long
circumstance has ruled and limited my doings. And
tonight it comes to me that chance and fate are, or
should be, greater than environment. The Gods
only rarely offer gifts, and the blackness and blank-
ness of despair follow their refusal. So I cling to
the hope that they have now offered me a precious
gift, and that in spite of all your pain all the past
which now so embitters you, to me may come the
chance in some small way of proving to you that
in friendship there is healing, and in sympathy and
understanding, at least the hope of forgetfulness.
I shall hardly dare to read over what I have
written, for I should either be conscious that it is
inadequate to express what I have wanted to say
to you or that I have presumed too much in writing
what is in my mind.
Look upon those Musicians as playing a prelude,
not to a dream but to a happier future, and then
my pleasure in the little gift will be enormously
It has been a sort of joke in my family that I am
over-cautious and too deliberate, but for to-night
at least in these still quiet hours I mean to conquer
this, and go out to post this letter myself ; just as I
have written it, with no alteration; yet with confi-
dence in the kindness you have already shown me.
And I shall see you at dinner on Thursday.
Yours very sincerely,
A little over a fortnight passed before there was
any further correspondence. Meanwhile the two
must have met frequently. Her letters were often
undated, and her figures even more difficult to read
than her handwriting generally. The hieroglyphic
over the following looks like 5, but I could not be
sure. The intimacy between them must have grown
apace, and yet the running away could have been
nothing but a ruse. There could have been little
fear of so sedate a lover as Gabriel Stanton. I
found something artificial in the next letter of hers,
recapitulative, as if already she had publication in
her mind. Of course it is more difficult for a novel-
ist or a playwright to be genuine and simple with a
pen than it is for a person of a different avocation,
but I could not help thinking how much better than
Margaret Ella would have acted her part, and my
sympathy began to flow more definitely toward the
inexperienced gentleman, no longer young, to whom
she was introducing the game of flirtation under the
old name of Platonic friendship.
No. 14. Carbies,
March 5th, 1902.
I have run away, you realise this, don't you,
simply turned tail and run. That long dinner which
seemed so short ; the British Museum the next day,
and your illuminating lecture so abruptly ended
that dreadful lunch . . . boiled fish and ginger
beer ! Ye Gods ! Greek or Roman, how could you
appear satisfied, eat with appetite? I sickened in
the atmosphere. Thursday at the National Gallery
was better. Our taste in pictures is the same if our
taste in food differs. But perhaps you did not know
what you were given in the refreshment room of the
British Museum ? I throw out this suggestion as an
extenuating circumstance, for I find it difficult to
forgive you that languid cod and its egg sauce. Our
other two meals together were so different. That
first lunch at the Cafe Royal was perfect in its way.
As for our dinner, did I not myself superintend the
menu, curb the exuberance of the chef and my
stepmother; dock the unfashionable sorbet; change
Mayonnaise sauce into Hollandaise ; duck and green
peas into an idealised animal of the same variety,
stuffed with foie gras, enriched and decorated with
cherries? For you I devoted myself to the decora-
tion of the table, interested myself in the wine list
my father produced, discussed vintages with our
pompous and absurd butler. I must tell you a story
about that butler. You said he looked like an
Archdeacon. Can you imagine an Archdeacon in
the Divorce Court ? No ! No ! No ! Nothing to do
with mine. Had it been I could not have written
of it, the very thought sets me writhing again.
Poor Burden was with the Sylvestres, you remember
the case. Everybody defended and it was fought
for five interminable days. The papers devoted
columns to it, nothing else was discussed in the
Clubs, the whole air of London Mayfair end
was foetid and foul with it. Burden was a witness,
he had seen too much, and his evidence sent poor
silly Ann Sylvestre to hide her divorced and dis-
graced head in Monte Carlo. And can a head
properly ondule be said to be divorced? Heavens!
how my pen runs on, or away, like me. And I
haven't come to the story, which now I come to
think of it is not so very good. I will tell you
it in Burden's own words. He applied for our
situation through a registry office, and stood before
my stepmother and me, hat in hand, sorrowful, but
always dignified, as he answered questions.
" My last situation was with a Mrs. Solomon.
I'm sorry, milady, to have to ask you to take up a
character from such people. I'd always been in the
best service before that ... I was hallboy with
the Jutes, third and then second with His Grace the
Duke of Richland, first footman under the Countess
Foreglass. I was five years with the Sylvestres;
you know, Ma'am, he was first cousin to the Duke
of Trent, near to the Throne itself, as one might
say. I'd never lowered myself to an untitled family
before. But after the divorce I couldn't get nothing.
Ma'am, I hope you'll believe me, but from the
moment I accepted Mr. Solomon's place all I was
planning to do was to get out of it. They was
Jews, if I may mention such a thing to you. I took
ten pounds a year less than I'd had at his Lordship's,
but Mr. Solomon, he said in his facetious way that
being in the witness box 'ad knocked at least ten
pounds off my value, an' he ground me down. But
I'll have to ask you to take up my character from
him. That's the worst of it, Ma'am, milady."
We had to break it to him that we were without
titles, but he said sorrowfully that having been in a
witness box in the divorce court made it impossible
for him to stand out.
Burden and I have always been on good terms.
I understand him, you see, his point of view, and
his descent in the social scale when he went to live
with Jews. What I was going to tell you was, that
notwithstanding our friendship he resented my inter-
ference in his department when I insisted on select-
ing the wine for your our dinner party. I am
almost sorry I quarrelled with him on your account.
He looks at me coldly now, he is remembering my
American blood, despising it. And to think I have
lost the priceless regard of Burden for a man who
can eat boiled and tired cod, masked with egg sauce,
washed down with ginger beer !
Where was I? The sculpture at the British
Museum ; then the next day at the National Gallery.
Our spirits kneeled there; we grew small. No, we
didn't, I'm disingenuous. We said so, not meaning
it in the least. After twenty minutes we forgot all
about the pictures. Rumpelmayer's, St. James's
Park, out to Coombe.
Did you realise we were seeing each other every
day, how much time we spent together?
Am I eighteen or twenty-eight ? You've a reputa-
tion for knowing more about Greek roots than any
other Englishman. Should I have run away down
here if you had talked about Greek roots? I'm
excited, exhausted, bewildered. For three nights
sleep failed me. Nothing is so wonderful as a
perfect friendship between a man of your age and a
woman of mine. Why did you change your mind,
or your note, so quickly yesterday? / knew all the
time what was happening to us. I think there is
-something arrogant in your humility. I am natur-
ally so much more outspoken than you, although my
troubles have made me more fearful. You are a
strange man. I think you may send me a portrait.
When I try to recall you, you don't always come
whole, only bits of you, inconsistent bits, a gleam
of humour in your eyes, your stoop, the height that
makes us so incongruous together. I like you,
Gabriel Stanton, and I've run away from you ; that's
the truth. That disingenuous aggressive humility
of yours is a subtle appeal to my sympathies. I
don't want to sympathise with you overmuch, with
the loneliness of your life, or anything about you.
We were meeting too often, talking too freely. I
curl up and want to hide when I think of some of
the things we have said (7 have said!!!). I know
I am too impulsive.
I'm going to settle down here and start seriously
on my Staffordshire Potters. I've taken the house
for three months. If I had not already written the
longest letter ever penned I'd describe it to you.
Perhaps I'll write again if you encourage me. Think
of me as a novelist out of work, using up my MS.
paper. Down here everything has become unreal.
You and I, but especially " us"\ I want every-
thing to be unreal, I'm not strong enough for more
reality. Keep unsubstantial. I don't suppose you
will understand me (I am not sure that I under-
stand myself). But you begged me to " let myself
go," " pour myself out on you." Can I take your
strength and lean upon it, the tenderness you promise
me and revel in it, all that I believe you are offering
me, and give you nothing? I am mean, afraid of
giving. It all came so quickly, so unexpectedly. I
have never had a real companion. Never, never,
never even as a child been wholly natural with any-
body, posing always. The only daughter of a
millionaire with more talent than she ought to have,
a shy soul behind a brazen forehead, is in a difficult
position. To undrape that shy soul of mine as you
so nearly make me do, unwillingly but it might
happen makes me shiver. That's why I ran away,
I want to be isolated, to stand alone. Here is the
truth again, not at the bottom of a well, but at the
end of an interminable letter. I am afraid of pain,
and this intimacy presages it. You cannot be all I
think you. I don't want to be near enough to see
your clay feet.
I am going to get some picture postcards with
small space for writing; this MS. paper demoralises
Will you ever know what your dear wonderful
letter has given me? I passed through moments
of doubt, of bewildered unbelief into a golden trance
of joy and hope. And as again and again I read it
some of your far braver personality fills me, and
I refuse to think this new spring of hope is a mere
dream, and take courage and tell myself I am some-
thing to you something in your life, and that to
me, Gabriel Stanton, has come at last the chance of
helping, tending, caring for against all the world
if need be, such a woman as Margaret Capel.
Let me revel in this new strange happiness. You
are too kind, too generous to destroy it ! For it is
all strange and marvellous to me I've lived so
much alone have missed so much by circumstance
and the fault of what you call my " aggressive
humility." I can help you ! As I write I feel I want
nothing else in life. Oh! my wonderful friend,
don't let us miss a relationship which on my part
I swear to you shall be consecrated to your service,
to your happiness in any and every way you decide
or will ask. Let me come into your life, give me
the chance of healing those wounds which have
bruised you grievously, but can never conquer your
brave spirit. You must let me help.
You have gone away, but your dear letter is with
me it is so much your letter so much you that
I am not even lonely any more. And yet I long to
see you hear you talk, be near you. Thoughts
hopes ideas, crowd upon me tonight, things to
tell you It is like having a new sense I've
wakened up in a new and so beautiful country. Do
you wish for those weeks of solitude? Only what
you wish matters. But I confess I've looked up
the trains to Pineland. I will come on any day at
any moment you say. There is no duty that could
keep me should you say " come." Give me at least
one chance of seeing you in your new home. Then
I will keep away and respect your solitude if you
The joy of your letter and the golden castles I am
building help the hours until I hear from you.
It is my opinion still that she only ran away in
order to bring him after her, to secure a greater soli-
tude than they could enjoy in places of public resort,
or in her father's house. I don't mean that she
deliberately planned what followed, but had that
been her intention she could have devised no better
strategy than to leave him at the point at which they
had arrived without a word of farewell other than
that letter. As for me, when I had finished reading
it and the answer, I had recourse to the diary and
MS. notes. They would, however, have been of but
little use had not a second dose of codein that night
brought me again in closer relation with the writer.
As I said, I took two codein pills instead of one
that night, and in an hour or so was conscious of
the comfort and phantasmagoria of morphia. I
was no longer in the bedroom of which I had tired,
nor in the rough garden without trees or shade. I
had escaped from these and in returning health was
beside the sea, happily listening to the little waves
breaking on the stones, no soul in sight but those
two, Margaret Capel and Gabriel Stanton, in earnest
talk that came to me as I sat with my back against a
rock, the salt wind in my face. How it was they did
not see me and moderate their voices I do not
know, morphia gives one these little lapses and sur-
Margaret looked extraordinarily sedate and yet
perverse, her thin lips pink and eyes dancing. I
saw the incandescent effect of which Peter Kennedy
had told me. It was not only her eyes that were
alight but the woman herself, the luminous fair
skin and the fairness of her hair stirred and bright-
ened by the sun and the sea-wind. She talked vividly,
whilst he sat at her feet listening intently, offering
her the homage of his softened angularities, his
abandoned scholarship, his adoring eyes.
" Why did you come ? I told you not to come.
Of course I meant to wire in answer to your letter
that you were to stay in London. What was the
use of my running away ? "
I saw that he fingered the hem of her skirt, and
watched her all the time she spoke.
" Tomorrow I shall have no expectation in the
post. I hate not to care whether my letters come or
not. And Monday too. You have spoiled two
mornings for me."
" I am not as satisfying as my letters to you."
Even his voice was changed, the musical charming
Stanton voice. His had deepened and there was
the note of an organ in it. She looked at him
critically or caressingly.
" Not quite, not yet. I understand your letters
better than I do you. And you are never twice
alike, not quite alike. We part as friends, intimates.
Then we come together again and you are almost a
stranger; we have to begin all over again."
" I am sorry." He looked perplexed. " How do
I change or vary? I cannot bear to think that you
should look upon me as a stranger."
" Only for a few moments."
" When you met me at the station today? "
" I was at the station early, and then was vexed
I had come, looking about me to see if there were
any one I knew or who knew me. I took refuge at
the bookstall, found ' The Immoralists ' among
the two-shilling soiled." She left off abruptly, and
her face clouded.
" Don't ! " he whispered.
" How quick you are ! " Now their hands ,met.
She smiled and went on talking. " I heard a click
and saw that the signals were down. The train
rounded the curve and came in slowly. People
descended ; I was conscious of half a dozen, although
I saw but one. No, I didn't see you, only your
covert coat and felt hat. I felt a pang of disappoint-
ment." Their hands fell apart. I saw he was hurt.
She may have seen it too, but made no sign.
" It was not your fault, you had done nothing
. . . you just were not as I expected you. You had
cut yourself shaving, for one thing." He put
his hand to his chin involuntarily, there was barely
a scratch. " As we walked back from the station
my heart felt quite dead and cold. I hated the
scratch on your cheek, the shape of your hat, every-
thing." He turned pale. " I wondered how I was
going to bear two whole days, what I should say to
" I know, but it was outside talk, forced, laboured.
You remember, ' How warm the weather was in
London ' ; and that the train was not too full for
comfort. You had papers in your hand, the
Saturday Review, the Spectator. You spoke of an
article by Runciman in the first."
" You seemed interested."
" I was thinking how we were going to get
through the two days. What I had ever seen in
you, why I thought I liked you so much."
He was quite dumb by now, the sunken eyes were
full of pain, the straight austere mouth was only
a line; he no longer touched the hem of her dress.
" You left me in the garden of the hotel when you
went to book a room, to leave your bag. I sat on a
seat in the garden and looked at the sea, the blue
wonder of the sea, the jagged coast-line, and one
rock that stood out, then hills and always more hills,
the sky so blue, spring in the air. Gabriel ..."
she leaned forward, touched him lightly on the
shoulder. A deep flush came over his face, but
he did not move nor put up his hand to take hers.
'' You were only gone ten minutes. I could not
have borne for you to have been away longer.
There were a thousand things I wanted to say to
you, that I knew I could say to no one but you.
About the spring and my heart hunger, what it
" And when I came out I suppose all you remem-
bered was that I had cut myself shaving?"
She seemed astonished at the bitterness of his
" You are not angry with me, are you ? "
" No! Not angry. How could I be? "
" When you came out and I felt rather than saw
you were moving toward me across the grass I
thought of nothing but that you were coming; that
we were going io have tea together, on the ricketty
iron table, that I should pour it out for you. That
after that we should walk here together, and then
you would go home with me, dine together at
Carbies, talk and talk and talk. ..."
He could not help taking her hand again, because
she gave it to him, but his face was set and serious.
"Tell me, is it the same with you as it is with
me ? Am I a stranger to you sometimes ? Different
from what you expect? Do I disappoint you, and
leave you cold, almost as if you disliked me? Don't
answer. I expect, I know it is the same with you.
You find me plain, gone off, you wonder what you
ever saw in me."
He answered with a quiet yet passionate sincerity :
" When I see you after an interval my heart
rushes out to you, my pulses leap. I feel myself
growing pale. I am paralysed and devoid of words.
Margaret! My very soul breathes Margaret, my
wonderful Margaret. I cannot get my breath."
Her eyes shone and exulted.
"It is not like that always?" she whispered,
leaning towards him.
" It is like that always. But today it was more
than that. I had not seen you for a week, a whole
long week. Sometimes in that week I had not
dared look forward."
" And then you saw me." She was hanging upon
his words. He got up abruptly and walked a few
paces away from her, to the edge of the sea. She
smiled quietly to herself when he left her like that.
He was suffering, he could not bear the contrast
between what she had thought of him and he of her.
" Gabriel ! " she called him back presently, called
softly and he came swiftly.
" I had better go back to town by the next train.
I disappoint you."
" Silly ! " She was amazingly, alluringly smiling
into his dour eyes, not satisfied until he smiled too.
" It is my sense of style. I am like grammar ; all
moods and tenses. You want me to tell you every-
thing, don't you ? "
" Am I the man for you ? that is what I want you
to tell me. I don't know what you mean by that
sense of strangeness I cannot bear it."
" Don't you vary ? wonder, doubt ? "
" I always knew from the first afternoon when
you were shown into my room in Grey friars', your
black fur framing your exquisite porcelain face,
your eyes like wavering stars, that you were the only
woman in the world. Since then the conviction of
it grows deeper and deeper, more certain. You are
never out of my mind. I know I am not good
enough for you, too old and grave. But you have
let me hope. Oh ! you wonderful child." For still
she was smiling at him in that dazzling alluring
way. He was at her feet and the hem of her dress
again against his lips. " Don't you understand,
can't I make you understand ? I adore you, I wor-
ship you. I want nothing from you except that you
let me tell you so sometimes."
" It is so much nicer when you write it," she
" Don't." She cajoled him.
" I can't take it lightly," he burst out. " Pity me,
forgive me, but don't laugh at me."
" I am not laughing."
" I know. You are an angel of sweetness, good-
ness. Margaret, let me love you ! "
I was back again in bed, very drowsy and com-
fortable, wondering how I had got there, what had
happened, what time it was. I took a drink of
lemonade and thought what a bad night I was
having. I remembered my dream ; it had been very
vivid, and I was sorry for Gabriel Stanton and tried
to remember what had become of him, when I had
heard of or seen him last ; it must have been a long
time ago. Margaret was a minx. If ever I wrote
about them it would be to tell the truth, to analyse
and expose the spirit and soul of a woman flirt. And
again when I lay down I thought of what the critics
would say of this fine and intimate study, this
human document that I was to give the world.
Phrases came to me, vivid lightning touches . . .
I hoped I should be able to remember them, but
hardly doubted it, for others came, even better than
these, and then in consequence, sleep. . . .
Benham said in the morning :
" Whatever did you take another pill for ? Was
anything the matter with you? You could have
called me up."
" But you might have argued with me."
" I am sure I don't know what good a nurse is
to you at all ! "
" You would be invaluable if you would only get
it into your head that I am not a mental case. Don't
you realise that I am a very clever woman, quite as
clever as you ? "
" I don't call it clever to retard your own
" Am I going to recover? " I asked quickly.
" Your beloved Dr. Kennedy says you are."
" By the way, is he coming to-day ? "
" It isn't many days he misses."
" He comes to protect me from you, to see I have
some few privileges and ameliorations of my condi-
tion, that my confinement is not too close, my gaoler
We understood each other better now, and I could
chaff her without provoking anything but a difficult
smile. I, of course, was a bad patient. I found it
difficult to believe that I ought not to try and over-
come my weakness and inertia, that it was my duty
to leave off fighting and sink into invalidism as if
it were a feather bed.
That afternoon she helped me to the writing-table
in the drawing-room, and I sat there trying to recap-
ture the conversation I had heard. But although I
could remember every word I found it hard to write.
I could lie back in the chair and look at the gorse,
the distant hills, the sea, the dim wide horizon, but
to lean forward, take pen in hand, dip it in the ink,
write, was almost beyond that still slowly ebbing
strength. I whipped myself with the thought of
what weak women had done, and dying men. " My
head is bloody but unbowed ..." Mine was
bowed then, quickly over the writing-table ; tears of
self-pity welled hot, but I would not let them fall.
It was not because Death was coming to me. I
swear that then nor ever have I feared Death. But
I was leaving so much undone. I had a place, and
it was to know me no more. And the world was so
lovely, the promise of spring in the air. When I
lifted my bowed head Peter Kennedy was there,
very pitiful as I could see by his eyes, and with a
new gift of silence. Silence as to essentials, at least.
He did not ask what ailed me, but spoke of a break-
down to the motor, of the wonder of the April
weather. I soon regained my self-possession.
" How soon after Margaret Capel came here did
you make her acquaintance ? " I asked him sud-
denly, and a propos of nothing either of us had
" It must have been a week or two, not more. I
knew the house had been taken, but not by whom.
And at first the name meant nothing to me. I am
not a reading man ; at least I don't read novels."
" Don't apologise. I have heard of the Sporting
Times, Bell's Life"
" Go on, gibe away, I like it. She was just the
same only kinder, much kinder."
" I knew she would be kind, and soft, and wom-
anly. Didn't she say she was lonely? "
" And then say quickly : ' But of course you are
quite right. Reading is a waste of time, living
everything, and you are doing a fine work, a man's
work in the world.' She said she envied you. I
can hear her saying it." He looked ecstatic.
" So can I. Ella says the same thing."
" Why are you so bitter ? "
I could not tell him it was because I had heard
other women, many women, who were all things to
all men, and that I despised, or perhaps envied them,
lacking their gift and so having lived lonely save for
Ella and Ella's love. Until now, when it was too
late. And then I looked at him, at Dr. Kennedy,
" Why do you laugh ? You are so like and so
unlike her. She would laugh for nothing, cry for
" Tell me all about her from the beginning." It
was an excuse to rest on the cushions in the easy-
chair, to cease whipping my tired conscience.
' " There is little or nothing to tell. It was about
a week after she came here we had the first call.
Urgent, the message said. So I got on my bicycle
and spun away up here. I did not even wait to
get out the car."
" What day of the week was it ? " I asked, inter-
"What day of the week?" he repeated in sur-
"Yes, what day?"
" As a matter of fact it was on a Monday.
What's the point? I remember because it happens
to have been my Infirmary day. I had just come
home, dog-tired, but of course when the call came
I had to go. I actually thought what a bore it was
as I pedalled up. It's nearly all uphill from our house
to Carbies. The maid looked frightened when she
opened the door."
" Oh, sir, I am so glad you are here. Will you
please come into the drawing-room? Mrs. Capel,
she fainted right away. Miss Stevens has tried
hartshorn an' burnt feathers, everything we could
" Everything that had a smell ? "
" Yes, sir. I perceived it as I approached the
drawing-room this room. She was on the sofa,"
he looked over to it, " very pale and dishevelled, only
" Who was Miss Stevens? "
" Her maid. Quite a character. Something like
your nurse, only more so."
"What did you do?"
" I felt her pulse, her heart, thought of strych-
" You are not a great doctor, are you ? " I scoffed
" Oh ! I know my work all right ; it's simple
enough. You try this drug or the other ..."
" Or none, as in my case."
" That's right."
" And then if the patient does not get better or
her relatives get restive, you call in some one else,
who makes another shot." There was a twinkle in
his eye. I always thought he knew more about
medicine than he pretended. " And what did you
do for Margaret ? " I went on.
" Opened the window, and her dress ; waited.
The first thing she said was, ' Has he gone ? ' I did
not know to whom she referred, but the maid told
me primly : ' Mrs. Capel's publisher has been down
for the week-end. He left this morning. She don't
know what she's saying.' Margaret opened her
eyes, her sweet eyes, dark-irised, the light in them
wavered and grew strong. She seemed to recall
herself with difficulty and slowly. 'Did I faint?
I'm all right now. Is that you, Stevens? What
happened ? '
" ' I came in to bring your afternoon tea and you
were in a dead faint, at the writing-table, all in a
heap. I rang for cook and we carried you to the
sofa, and tried to bring you round. Then cook tele-
phoned for Dr. Lansdowne.'
" ' Are you Dr. Lansdowne ? '
" * He was out. I'm his partner, Dr. Kennedy.
How are you feeling ? ' I asked her.
' Better. Stevens, you can go away. Bring me
some more tea. Dr. Kennedy will have a cup with
me.' She struggled into a sitting position and I
helped her. Then she told me she had always been
subject to these attacks, ever since she was a child,
that she was to have been a pianist, had studied
seriously. But the doctors forbade her practising.
Now she wrote. She admitted that her own emo-
tional scenes overcame her. Then we talked of the
Dr. Kennedy looked at me as if enquiringly.
" Do you want to hear any more? "
" You saw her often after that? "
" Nearly every day, all the time she was here."
" And talked about the emotions? "
"Sometimes. What are you implying? What
are you trying to get at? Whatever it is, you are
wrong. I was in her confidence, she liked talking
to me. I did her good."
" With drugs or dogma ? " I asked.
" With sympathy. She had suffered terribly,
more than any woman should be allowed to suffer.
And she was ultra-sensitive, her nerves were all
exposed, inflamed. You have sometimes that elu-
sive, strange resemblance to her. But she had
neither strength nor courage and as for hardness
. . . she did not know the meaning of the word."
" You are wrong. Last night I heard her talk
to Gabriel Stanton."
"Did you?" His eyes lightened. "Tell me.
But he was not the man for her, never the man for
her. Not sufficiently flexible. He took her too
" Can a man take a woman too seriously? "
" An emotional, nervous, delicate woman. Yes.
You've been through all the letters ? "
" No. There are a few more."
They were on the table, and I put my hand on
them. I was sure that no one but I must see them.
" The first two or three times that Gabriel Stanton
came down he stayed at ' The King's Arms.' She
was always ill after he left, always. She made a
brave effort, poor girl. Day after day I have come
in and seen her sitting as you are, paper before her,
and ink. I don't think anything ever came of it.
She would play too, for hours."
" You stayed away when he was here, I sup-
" No ! Not always. I was sent for once or
twice. She had those heart attacks."
" Heart attacks. He did not know how to treat
or calm her."
" Poor Gabriel Stanton ! "
"Poor Margaret Capel!" he retorted. "I
wouldn't try to write the story if I were you. You
misjudge her, I am sure you do. She was delicate-
" Why did she have him down here at all ? She
knew the risk she ran. Why did she not wait until
the decree was made absolute?" For by now, of
course, I knew how the trouble came about.
" She was in love with him."
" She did not know the meaning of the word.
She was philandering with you at the time." He
" She was not. I was her doctor."
" And are not doctors men ? "
"Not with their patients."
I looked at him thoughtfully and remembered
Ella. He answered as if he read my thoughts.
'* You are not my patient, you are Lansdowne's."
He gave a short uncertain laugh when he had said
that. That seemed amusing to me, for I did not
care whether he was a man or not, feeling ill and
superlatively old and sexless, also that he lacked
something, had played this game with Margaret, the
game she had taught him, until his withers were all
unwrung, until she had bereft him of reason, leav-
ing him empty, as it were hollow, filled up with
words, meaningless words that were part of the
fine game, of which he had forgotten or never
known the rules.
After he left I read her next letter, the one written
after Gabriel Stanton had been to Pineland for the
first time, and she had told him how she felt about
I have been writing to you and tearing up the
letters ever since you left. I look back and cannot
believe you were here only two days. The two days
passed like two hours, but now it seems as if we
must have been together for weeks. You told me
so much and I ... I exposed myself to you com-
pletely. You know everything about me, it is in-
credible but nevertheless true that I tried all I
knew to show you the real woman on whom you
are basing such high hopes. What are you thinking
of me now, I wonder. That I am a little mad,
not quite human? What is this genius that sep-
arates me from the world, from all my kind? My
books, my little plays, my piano-playing! There
is a little of it in all of them, is there not, my friend,
my companion, the first person to whom I have
ever spoken so frankly. Is it not true that I have
a wider vision, intenser emotions than other wo-
men? Love me therefore better, and differently
than any man has ever loved a woman. You
say that you will, you do, that I am to pour myself
out on you. I like that phrase of yours you need
never use it again, you have already used it twice.
" I shall remember while the light is yet,
And when the darkness comes I shall not forget."
It went through me, there is nowhere it has not
permeated. And see, I obey you. I no longer feel
a pariah and an outcast, with all the world pointing
at me. The degradation of my marriage is only a
nightmare, something, as you say, that never hap-
pened. I look out on the garden and the sea be-
yond, on the jagged coast-line and the green tree-
clad hills, all bathed in sunshine, and forget that I
have suffered. I am glad to know you so inti-
mately that I can picture each hour what you are
doing. You are not happy, and I am almost glad.
What could I give you if you were happy? But as
it is when you are bored and wearied, with your
office work, depressed in your uncongenial home, I
can send you my thoughts and they will flow in upon
you like fresh water to a stagnant pool. I have at
times so great a sense of strength and power. At
others, as you know, I am faint and fearful. No-
body but you has ever understood that I am not
inconsistent, only a different woman at different
times. I know I see things that are hidden from
other people, not mystic things, but the great Scheme
unfolded, the scheme of the world, why some suffer
and some enjoy, what God means by it all. In my
visions it is blindingly brilliant and clear, and I
understand God as no human being has ever under-
stood Him before. I want to be His messenger,
to show the interblending marvel. I know it is for
that I am here. Then I write a short story that says
nothing at all, or I sit at the piano and try to ex-
press, all alone by myself, that for which I cannot
find words. Afterwards I go to bed and know I
am a fool, and lie awake all night, miserable enough
at my futility. I have always lived like this save
during those frenzied months when I thought love
was the expression for which I had waited, and with
my eyes on the stars, blundered into a morass. Not-
withstanding we have hardly spoken of it, you know
the love I ask from you has nothing in common
with the love ordinary men and women have for
each other, nothing at all in common. The very
thought of physical love makes me sick and ill.
That is still a nightmare, nothing more nor less.
I want my thoughts held, not my hands. How
intimate we must be for me to write you like this,
and the weeks we have known each other so few.
You won't read this in the office, you will
take it home with you to the bookish and precise
flat in Hampstead, and hoard it up until the little
round-backed sister with her claim and her queru-
lousness has left you in peace. She is part of that
great scheme of things which evades me when I try
to write it. Why should you sacrifice your free-
dom to make a home for her? Poor cripple, with
her cramped small brain ; your companion to whom
you are tied like a sound man to a leper, and with
whom you cannot converse and yet must some-
times talk. You cannot read or write very well in
the atmosphere she creates for you, but must
listen to gossip and answer fittingly, wasting the
precious hours. Nevertheless you will find time
to answer this letter. I shall not watch for the
coming of the post and be disappointed. She does
not care for you overmuch I fear, this poor sister
of yours, only for herself. I am sorry she is
hunchbacked and ailing. But I am sorrier still that
she is your sister and burdens you. Life has given
you so little. Your dreary orphaned childhood in
your uncle's large hospitable family, of which you
were always the one apart, you and that same suffer-
ing sister ; your strenuous schooldays. You say you
were happy at Oxford, but for the cramping cer-
tainty that there was no choice of a career; only
the stool at Stanton's, and so repayment for all your
uncle had done for you. My poor Gabriel, it seems
to me your boyhood and your manhood have been
spent. And now you have only me. Me! with
hands without gifts and arid lips, an absorbing
egotism, and only my passionate desire for expres-
sion. I don't want to live; I want to write, and
even for that I am not strong enough! My mes-
sage is too big for me. Hold me and enfold me,
I want to rest in you ; you are unlike all other men
because you want to give and give and give, asking
nothing. And therefore you are my mate, because
I am unlike all other women, being a genius. You
alone of all men or women I have ever known will
not doubt that I have a message, although I may
never prove it. You don't want to be proud of me,
only to rest me.
Which reminds me that book on Staffordshire
Pottery will never be written. How will you ex-
plain it to your partners, and the wasted expense
of the illustrations? I shall send you a business
letter withdrawing; then I suppose you will say
that you had better run down and discuss the matter
with me. But, oh! it's so wonderful to know that
you, you yourself will know without any explaining
that I cannot write about pottery just now. I have
written a few verses. I will send them to you when
they are polished and the rhythm is perfect. There
will .be little else left by 'then !
Write and tell me that one day you will come
again to Pineland. One day, but not yet. I could
not bear it, not to think of you concretely here with
me again, this week or next. I want you as a light
in the distance, my eyes are too weak to see you
more closely ... I won't even erase that, although
it will hurt you. Sometimes I feel I am not going
to bring you happiness, only drain you of sympathy.
Church Row, Hampstead.
My dear, dear love, you wonderful, wonderful
I wish I could tell you, I wish I could begin to
tell you all you mean to me, what our two days
together meant to me. You ask me what I am
thinking of you. If only I could let you know that,
you would know everything. For your sufferings
I love you, for your crucified gift and agonies. You
say I am to love you better and differently than any
man has ever loved woman. My angel child, I do.
Can't you feel it? Tell me you do. That is all I
want, that you tell me you do know how I worship
you, that it means something to you, helps you a
What am I to answer to your next sentence?
You say you ask of me a love that has nothing
in common with the love ordinary men and women
have for each other, that physical love makes you
sick and ill. Beloved, everything shall be as you
wish between us. I would not so much as kiss the
hem of your dress if you forbade it by a look, nor
your delicate white hands. I love your hands. You
let me hold them, you must let me hold them some-
times. Dear generous one, I will never trouble you.
I am for you to use as you will, that you use
me at all is gift enough. This time will pass
this trying dreadful time. Until then, and
afterwards if you wish it, I will be only
your comrade your very faithful knight. I love
your delicacy and reserve, all you withhold from
me. I yearn to be your lover, your husband; all
and everything to you. Don't hate and despise me.
You say when radiant love came to you, your eyes
were on the stars, and you blundered into a morass.
But, sweetheart, darling, if I had been your lover
husband, do you think this would have happened?
Think, think. I cannot bear that you should con-
fuse any love with mine. I want to hold you in
my arms, teach you. I can't write any more, not
now. Thank you for your letter, for my sleepless
nights, for my dreams, for everything. You are
my whole world.
I fear I wrote you a stupid letter last night. I
had had a long evening with my sister. She in-
sisted on reading to me from a wonderful book
she has just bought. It was on some new craze
with the high-sounding name of Christian Science.
The book was called " Science and Health." More
utter piffle and balderdash I have never heard.
There were whole sentences without meaning, and
many calling themselves sentences were without
verbs. I swallowed yawn after yawn. Then she
left off reading and asked my opinion. I suggested
the stuff might have emanated from Earlswood.
She made me a dreadful scene. It seemed she had
already consulted a prophetess of this new religion
and had been promised she should be made whole
if only she had sufficient faith ! Now I was trying
to " shake her faith and so retard her cure " ; she
sobbed. Poor woman ! I tried reasoning with her,
went over a few passages and asked her to note in-
consistency after inconsistency, stupidity after
stupidity, blasphemy and irrelevance. She cried
more. Then my own unkindness struck me. She
too had had a vision, seen the marvellous sun rise.
To be made whole ! She who had been thirty years
a cripple and in pain always. I tried to withdraw
all I had said, to find a strange and mystic sense
and meaning in the stuff. I think I comforted her
a little. I insisted she should go on with her in-
duction, or initiation, or whatever they call it.
There are paid healers ; the prophets play the game
for cash. I gave her money. I could not bear her
thanks or to remember I had been unkind, I, with
my own overwhelming happiness. If I were able
I would make happiness for all the world. When
at last I was alone I sat a long time with your letter
in my hand, your dear, dear letter. I don't know
what I wrote; dare not recall my words. Forgive
me, whatever it was. If there was a word in my
letter that should not have been there forgive me.
Bear with me, dear. You don't know what you
are to me, I am bewildered with the mystery.
About the book on Staffordshire Pottery. Don't
give it another thought. I can arrange everything
here without any trouble. You need not write. But
if you do, and suggest, as you say, that I shall come
down and discuss the matter with you, why then,
then will you write? I want to come. I promise
not to cut myself shaving this time. Although is
it not natural my hand should have been unsteady?
It shakes now. I must come and discuss the pottery
book or anything. Let me. It is much to ask, but
I won't be in your way. I've some manuscripts to
go through. I'll never leave the hotel. But I want
to be in the same place.
For ever and ever,
OF course she let him come. Not only that week-
end but many others, until the early spring deepened
into the late, the yellow gorse grew more golden,
and the birds sang as they mated. It was the same
time of year with me now, and I saw Margaret
Capel and Gabriel Stanton often together in the
house or garden, lying on the stones by the sea,
walking toward the hills. My strength was always
ebbing and I was glad to be alone, drowsily listening
to or dreaming of the lovers, drugging myself with
codein, seeing visions. I fancy Benham began to
suspect me, counted the little silver pills that held
my ease and entertainment. I circumvented her
easily. Copied the prescription and sent it to my
secretary in London to be made up, replaced each
extra one I took. I was not getting better, although
I wrote Ella in every letter of returning strength,
and told her that I was again at work. My con-
science had loosened a little, and I almost believed
it to be true. Anyway I had the letters, and knew
that when the time came it would be easy to
transcribe them. Meanwhile I told myself disin-
genuously that I hoped to become better acquainted
with my hero and heroine. I was wooing their
confidence, learning their hearts. Now Gabriel's was
clear, but Margaret's less distinct. I saw them
sometimes as in a magic-lantern show, when the
house was quiet, and I in the darkness of my bed-
room. On the circle in the white sheet that hung
then against the wall, I saw them walk and talk, he
pleading, she coquetting. Whilst the slide was being
changed Peter Kennedy acted as spokesman:
" Week-end after week-end Gabriel Stanton came
down, and all the hours of the day they passed to-
gether. Four months of the waiting time had gone
by and her freedom was in sight. Her nerves were
taut and fretted. She often had fainting attacks.
He never questioned me about her but once. I told
him the truth, that she had suffered, was suffering
more than any woman can endure, any young and
delicate woman. And her love for him grew ..."
I did not want to stop the show, the moving
figures and changing slides, yet I called out from my
swaying bed :
" No, no, she never loved him." And Peter
Kennedy turned his eyes upon me, his surprised and
" Why do you say that? Do you know a better
way of loving ? "
" Yes, many better ways."
" You have loved, then ? "
" Read my books."
"The love-making in your novels? Is that all
you know?" A coal fell from the fire; I frowned
and said something sharply. He did not go on, and
I may have slept a little. When I looked up again
there was no more sheet nor Peter. Instead
Margaret herself sat in the easy-chair and asked
me how I was getting on with her story.
" Not very well. I don't understand why you
took pleasure in making Gabriel miserable by your
scenes and vapours. That first day now. What did
you mean by telling him of your reaction on seeing
him, that it might have been because he had cut
himself shaving, or because of the shape of his
hat ; the hang of his coat disappointed you. Either
you loved the man or you did not. Why hurt his
feelings, deliberately, unnecessarily? Why did you
tell him not to come and then telegraph him ? Why
should I write your story? I don't know the end of
it, but already I am out of sympathy with you."
" You were that from the first," she answered
unhappily. " Don't think I am ignorant of that. In
a way, I suppose you are still jealous of me."
" I ! jealous ! And of you ? "
" Why did you pretend you did not know my
books, and send for them to the London Library?
You knew them well enough and resented my repu-
tation. The Spectator, the Saturday Review, the
Quarterly; you were dismissed in a paragraph where
I had a column and a turn."
" At least you never sold as well as I did."
" That is where the trouble comes in, as you
would say although you are a little better in that
way than you used to be. You wanted to ' serve
God and Mammon,' to be applauded in the literary
reviews whilst working up sentimental situations
with which to draw tears from shopgirls ..."
" I am conscious of being unfairly treated by the
so-called literary papers," I argued. " I write of
human beings, men and women; loving, suffering,
living. You wrote of abstractions, making phrases.
The sentences of one of your characters could have
been put in the mouths of any of the others. Life,
it was of life I wrote. Now that I am dying . . ."
" You are not dying, only drugged. And you are
jealous again all the time. Jealous of Gabriel
Stanton, who despised your work and could not
recall your personality, however often he met you.
Jealous of the literary critics who ignored you and
praised me. And jealous of Peter, Peter Kennedy,
who from the first would have laid down his great
awkward body for me to tread upon."
I half woke up, raised myself on my arm, and
drank a little water, looked over to where Margaret
sat, but she was no longer there. I did not want to
go to sleep again, and lay on my back thinking of
what had been told me. " Jealous! " Why should
I be jealous of Margaret Capel's dead fame, of her
dying memory? But perhaps it was true. I had a
large public, made a large income, but had no recog-
nition, no real reputation, was never in the "Literary
Review of the Year," was not jeered at as other
popular writers, but only ignored. Well, I did not
overrate my work. I never succeeded in pleasing
myself. I began every book with unextinguishable
hope, and every one fell short of my expectations.
People wrote to me and told me I had made them
laugh or cry, helped them through convalescence,
cheered their toilsome day.
" I love your ' Flash of the Footlights.' "
To repletion I had had such letters, requests for
autographs, praise, and always : " I love your 'Flash
of the Footlights.' ' Fifty-eight thousand copies
had been sold in the six-shilling edition. I wonder
what were the figures of Margaret Capel's biggest
seller. Under four thousand I knew. Little Billie
Black told me, cherubic Billie, the publisher, with
his girlish complexion and his bald head, who knew
everybody and everything and told us even more.
I was getting drowsy again, figures, confused and
confusing, passing over the surface of my mind.
Billie Black and Sir George Stanton, Gabriel, then
Ella, a dim glance of my long-lost husband, Dennis,
a smiling flash in the foreground; my eyes were
hot with tears because of this short glad sight of
him. Then Peter Kennedy again; awkward in his
tweed cutaway morning coat. What did she mean
by saying I was jealous of Peter Kennedy ? I smiled
in my deepening somnolence. Then there was an
organ and children dancing, a monkey, a policeman,
and the end of a string of absurdities in a long
narrow vista. Sleep and unconsciousness at the
I observed Dr. Kennedy with more interest the
next few times he came to see me. A personable
man without self -consciousness, some few years
younger than myself, the light in his eyes was
strange and fitful, and he talked abruptly. He was
not well-read, ignorant of many things familiar to
me, yet there was nothing of the village idiot about
him such as I have found in many country apothe-
caries. He looked at me too long and too often, but
at these times I knew he was thinking of Margaret
Capel, comparing me with her. And I did not resent
it, she was at least fourteen years younger than I,
and I never had any pretensions to beauty. Dr.
Kennedy had good hands, long-fingered, muscular;
dark hair interspersed with grey covered his big
" What are you thinking about me ? " he asked.
" What sort of doctor you are ! " I answered with
a fair amount of candour. " Here have I been with-
out any one else for three or is it five weeks ? You
don't write me prescriptions, nor tell me how I shall
live, what to eat, drink, or avoid. You call con-
" Not as often as I should like," he put in
promptly. Then he smiled at me. " You don't mind
my coming? "
" Have you found out what is the matter with
" I know what is the matter with you ! "
" Do you know I get weaker instead of
stronger ? "
" I thought you would."
" Tell me the truth. Is there no hope for me ? "
" Patients ask so often for the truth. But they
never want it."
" I am not like other patients. Haven't I got
a dog's chance ? " He shook his head.
" Months. Very likely years. No one can tell.
You are full of vitality. If you live in the right
" More or less."
" And nothing more can be done for me? "
" Rest, open air, occupation for the mind." I
thought over what he had just told me. I had known
or guessed it before, but put into words it seemed
different, more definite. " Not a dog's chance."
" You think Margaret Capel and Gabriel Stanton
will do me good? They are part of your treat-
ment ? " I asked him.
" They and I," he said. I was silent after that,
silent for quite a long time. He was sitting beside
me and put his shapely hand on mine. I did not
withdraw it, my thoughts were fully occupied.
" You know I shall do everything I can for you ;
you are a reincarnation." He spoke with some
emotion. " Some day I shall want to ask you some-
thing ; you will know more about me soon. You are
in touch with her."
"Do you really believe it?" I asked him. We
were in the upstairs room. Today I had not adven-
tured the stairs.
" May I play ? " he asked. It was not the first time
he had played to me. I rather think he played well,
but I know nothing of music. If he were talking to
me through the keys he was talking to a deaf mute.
I lay on the sofa and thought how tired I was, may
even have slept. I was taking six grains of codein
in the twenty-four hours when the prescription said
two, and often fell asleep in the daytime without
preparation or expectation.
" I will tell you why I would do anything on earth
for you," he said, turning round abruptly on the
piano stool. " If you want to know." I was wide-
awake now and surprised, for I had forgotten of
what we had talked before I went off. " It is
because you are so brave and uncomplaining."
" It isn't true. Ask Ella. She has had an
awful time with me, grumbling and ungrateful."
" Your sister adores you, thinks there is no one
" That is merely her idiosyncrasy."
" Well ! there is another reason. You asked for
it and you are going to be told. The love of my
life was Margaret Capel." He stared at me when
he said it. " You remind me of her all the time."
I shut my eyes. When I opened them again his
back was all I saw and he was again playing softly ;
talking at the same time. " When I came here, the
first time, the first day, and saw you sitting in her
chair, at her table, in her attitude, as I said, it was a
reincarnation." He got up from the music stool and
came over to me. He said, without preliminary or
excuse, " You are taking opium in some form or
" I am taking my medicine."
" I am not blaming you. You've read De
Quincey, haven't you ? You know his theory ? "
" Some of it."
" Never mind ; perhaps you've missed it, better if
you have. In those days it was often thought that
opium cured consumption."
" Then it is consumption ? "
" What does it matter what we call it ? Pleurisy,
as you have had it, generally means tubercle. But
you will hang on a long time. The life of Margaret
Capel must be written and by you. She always
wanted it written. From what you tell me she still
wants it. I poured my life at her feet those few
months she was here, but she never gave me a
thought, not until the end. Then, then at the last,
I held her eyes, her thoughts, her bewildered ques-
tioning eyes. Bewildered or grateful? Shall I ever
know ? Will you tell me, I wonder, hear it from her,
reassure me . . ." He stopped. "I suppose you
think I am mad? "
" I have never thought you quite sane. But," I
added consolingly, " that is better than being merely
stupid, like most doctors. So you regard me," I
could not help my tone being bitter, " as a clairvoy-
ante, expectantly ..."
" Does any man ever care for a woman except
expectantly, or retrospectively ? "
" How should I know ? " He sat down by my
" No one should know better. Tell me more
about yourself, I have only heard from Mrs. Love-
" She told you, I suppose, that I had a great
and growing reputation, had faithful lovers sighing
for me, that I was thirty-eight ..."
" She told me a great deal more than that."
" I have no doubt. Well ! in the first place I am
not thirty-eight, but forty-two. My books sell, but
the literary papers ignore them. I make enough for
myself and Dennis."
" Denis ? " His tone was surprised.
" Ella never mentioned Dennis to you ? "
I did not want to talk about Dennis. Since he had
left me I never wanted to talk of him. His long
absence had meant pain from the first, then agony.
Afterwards the agony became physical, and they
called it neuritis. Now it has pierced some vital
part and I don't even know what they call it. De-
cline, consumption, tuberculosis? What does it
matter? In the two years he had been away my
heart had bled to death. That was the truth and the
whole truth. No one knew my trouble and I had
spoken of it to nobody save once, in early days, to
Ella. Ella indignantly had said the boy was selfish
to leave me, and so closed my confidence. It is
natural our children should wish to leave us, they
make their trial flights, like the birds, joyously.
My son wanted to see the world, escape from thral-
dom, try his wings. But I had only this one. And
it seemed to me from his letters that he was never
out of danger, now with malaria, and in Australia
with smallpox. The last time I heard he had been
caught in a typhoon. After that my health declined
rapidly. But it was not his fault.
" Since you know so much you can hear the rest.
I married at eighteen. I forget what my husband
was like. I've no recollection of his ever having
interested me particularly. Married life itself I
abhorred, I abhor. But it gave me Dennis. My
husband died when I was two-and-twenty. Ever
since Ella has been trying to remarry me. But when
one writes, and has a son " I could talk no
" You are tired now."
" I am always tired. Why do you say years ?
You mean months, surely?"
" You will write one more book."
" Still harping on Margaret ? "
" Let me carry you into your room ; I have so
often carried her."
" Physically at least I am a bigger woman than
" A little heavier, not much."
" Well, give me your arm, help me. I don't need
to be carried." I leaned on his arm. " We will
talk more about your Margaret another day. I dare-
say I shall write her story. Not using all the
letters, people are bored with letters. I am myself.
And I am not sure about the copyright acts ! "
" You will give them back to me when you have
done with them ? "
Benham bullied him for having let me sit up so
late. My illness was deepening upon me so quietly,
so imperceptibly that I had forgotten I once resented
her overbearing ways. Now I depended on her for
many things. Suzanne had gone, finding the house
too triste, and seeing no possibility of further emolu-
ment from my neglected wardrobe. Benham did
everything for me; yawningly at night, but will-
ingly in the day.
I was desperately homesick for Ella this evening.
I wondered what she would say when she knew what
Dr. Kennedy had told me. I cried again a little
because he said I had not a dog's chance, but was
quickly ashamed. Why should I cry? I was so
hopelessly tired. The restfulness of Death began to
appeal to me. Not to have to get up and go to bed,
dress and undress daily, drag myself from room to
room. I had not done all my work, but like an
idle child I wanted to be excused from doing any
more. I was in bed and my mind wandered a little.
Why was not Ella here ? It seemed cruel she should
have left me at such a time. But of course she did
not know that I was going to die. Well ! I would
tell her, then she would come, would stay with me
to the end. I forgot Margaret and Gabriel Stanton,
two ghosts who walked at night. No extra codein
for me any more. I no longer wanted to dream,
only to face what was before me with courage. My
writing-block was by my side and pencils, one of
Ella's last gifts, and I drew them toward me. I had
to break to her that if she would be lonely in the
world without me, then it was time for her to pre-
pare for loneliness. I wanted to break it to her
gently, but for the life of me I could not think, with
pencil in my hand and writing-block before me, of
any other way than that of the man who, bidden to
break gently to a woman that her husband was dead,
had called up to the window from the garden:
" Good-morning, Widow Brown." So I started my
farewell letter to Ella :
" Good-morning, Widow Lovegrove."
I never got any further. The haemorrhage broke
out again and I rang for Benham. She came yawn-
ing, buttoning up her dressing-gown, pushing back
her undressed hair, but when she saw what was
happening her whole note changed. This time I
was neither alarmed nor confused, even watching
her with interest. She rang for more help, got ice,
gave rapid instructions about telephoning for a
" Will you wait for an injection until he comes,
or would you like me to give it to you? "
" Very well, lie quite quiet, I shan't be a minute."
I lay as quietly as circumstances would allow
whilst she brewed her witches' broth.
" What dreams may come."
" Hush, do keep quiet."
" Mind you give me enough."
" I shall give you the same dose he does, a quarter
of a grain."
" It won't stop it this time."
"Oh, yes! it will."
She gave the injection as well, or better than Dr.
Kennedy. I hardly felt the prick, and when she
rubbed the place, so cleverly and gently, she almost
made a suffragist of me. Women who did things
so well deserved the vote.
" Do you want the vote ? " I asked her feebly.
" I want you to lie quite still," was her inappro-
priate answer. I seemed to be wasting words. The
room was slowly filling with the scent of flowers.
When I shut my eyes I saw growing pots of
hyacinth, then lilies, floating in deep glass bowls,
afterwards Suzanne came in, and began folding up
my clothes, in her fat lethargic way.
" I thought Suzanne went away."
" So she did."
" Who is in the room, then ? "
" No one. Only you and I."
"And Dr. Kennedy?"
" You have sent for him ? "
" I thought you wouldn't care for me to give you
a morphia injection."
" Why not ? You give it better than he does. I
want to see him when he comes."
" You may be asleep."
" No ! I shan't. Morphia keeps me awake, com-
fortably awake. De Quincey used to go to the
opera when he was full up with it."
Peter Kennedy came in, and I followed the line
of my own thoughts. I was feeling drowsy.
" I don't want you to play for me," I said, a
little pettishly perhaps. " I should never have gone
to the opera."
" All right, I won't." He asked nurse in a
low voice, " How much did you give her? "
" A quarter of a.grain, the same as before." The
bleeding had not left off. Benham straightened
me amongst the pillows and fed me with ice.
" I shall give her another quarter," he said
abruptly after watching for a few minutes. I smiled
gratefully at him. Benham made no comment, but
got more hot water. He made the injection care-
fully enough, but I preferred nurse's manipulation.
" For Margaret ? " I asked him.
" Partly," he answered. " You will dream to-
" I shall die tonight. I want to die tonight. Give
me something to hurry things, be kind. I don't
mind dying, but all this ! "
" Don't. I can't. Not again. For God's sake
don't ask me ! " There was more than sympathy in
his voice. There was agitation, even tears. " You
will get better from this."
" And then worse again, always worse. I want
it ended. Give me something."
" Oh ! God ! I can't bear this. Margaret ! "
" Don't call me Margaret. My name is Jane.
What is that stuff that criminals take in the dock?
Italian poisoners keep it in a ring. I see one now,
with pointed beard, melancholy eyes, a great ruby
in the ring. Is anything the matter with my eyes?
I can't see."
" Shut them. Be perfectly quiet. The Italian
poisoner will pass."
" You will give me something? "
" Not this time."
I must have slept. When I woke he was still
there. I was very comfortable and pleased to see
him. " Why am I not asleep? "
" You are, but you don't know it."
"You won't tell Ella?"
" Not unless you wish it."
" I've written to her. See it goes." I heard
afterwards he searched for a letter, but could only
find four words " Good-morning, Widow Love-
grove ..." which held no meaning for him.
" Don't let me wake again. I want to go."
"Not yet, not yet ..."
There followed another week of morphia dreams
and complete content. I was roused with difficulty,
and reluctantly, to drink milk from a feeding-cup,
to have my temperature taken, my hands and face
washed, my sheets changed. There was neither
morning nor evening, only these disturbances and
Ella's eyes and voice in the clouded distance, vague
" You will soon be better, your temperature is
going down. Don't speak. Only nod your head.
Shall I cable for Dennis?"
I shook it, went on slowly shaking it, I liked the
motion, turning from side to side on the pillow,
continuing it. Ella, frightened, begged me to leave
off, summoned nurse, who took my cheeks gently
between her hands. That did not stop it, at least
I recollect being angry at the slight compulsion and
making up my mind, my poor lost feeble mind
that I should do what I liked, that I would never
leave off moving my head from side to side.
That night I dreamed of water, great masses of
black water, heaving; too deep for sound or foam.
Upon them I was borne backwards and forwards
until I turned giddy and sick, very cold. The Gates
of Silence were beyond, but I was too weak to get
there, the bar was between us. I saw the Gates, but
could not reach them. The waters were cold and
ever rising. Sometimes, submerged, my lips tasted
their dank saltness and I knew that my strength was
all spent. Soon I should sink deeper. I wished it
Then One came, when I was past help, or hope,
drowning in the dark waters, and said :
" Now I will take you with me." We were going
rapidly through air currents, soft warm air-currents
and amazing space, a swift journey, over plains and
mountains. At last to the North, and there I saw
snow-mountains and at the foot the cold sea, frozen
and blue, heaving slowly. Swimming in that slow
frozen sea, I saw a seal, brown and beautiful, swim-
ming calmly, with happy handsome eyes. They
met mine. One who was beside me said :
"That is your sister Julia. See how happy she
looks, and content ..."
Then everything was gone and I woke up in my
quiet bedroom, the fire burning low and Ella in the
chair by my side.
" Do you want anything? " She leaned over me
for the answer.
" I have just seen Julia."
She hushed me, tears were in her reddened eyes.
Our sister Julia had been dead two years, to our
" Don't cry, she is very happy."
I told her my dream. She said it was a beautiful
dream, and I was to try and sleep again.
" Why are you sitting up ? " I asked her.
" It is not late," was her evasive reply.
Many nights after that I saw her sitting there, I
forgot even to ask her why, I was too far gone, or
perhaps only selfish. I did not know for a long time
whether it was night or day. I always asked the
time when I woke, but forgot or did not hear the
answer, drank obediently through the feeding-cup,
the feeding-cup was always there; enormously
large, unnaturally white, holding little or nothing,
unsatisfactory. Once I remember I decided upon
remaining awake to tell poor Ella how much better
I told it to Margaret instead, and she had no
interest in the news, none at all.
" I knew you were not going to die yet. Not
until you had written my story."
" It seems not to matter," I answered feebly, " to
be small and trivial."
" Work whilst ye have the light" she quoted.
The words were in the room, in the air.
" It is not light, not very light," I pleaded.
" There has been no biography of me. How
would you like it if it had been you? And all the
critics said I would live ..."
"Must I stay for that?"
" You promised, you know."
"Did I? I had forgotten."
" No, no. You could not forget, not even you.
And you will make your readers cry."
" But if I make myself cry too? "
And I wrote, sick with exhaustion, without con-
scious volition or the power to stop. I wonder
whether any other writer has ever had this experi-
ence. I could not stop writing although my arm
swelled to an unnatural size and my side ached. I
covered ream after ream of paper. I never stopped
nor halted for word or thought. I was wearied,
aching from head to foot, shaking and even crying
with fatigue and the pain in my swollen arm or
side, but never ceasing to write, like a galley slave
at his oar. Sometimes in swimming semi-conscious-
ness I thought this was my eternal punishment, that
because I had swept so much aside that I might
write, and yet had written badly, now I must write
for ever and for ever, words and scenes and sen-
tences that would be obliterated, that would not
stand. I knew in these semi-conscious moments that
I was writing in water and not in ink. But I was
driven on, and on, relentlessly.
HERE is the story I wrote under morphia and in
that strange driving stress, set down as well as I can
recall it, but seeming now so much less real and
distinct. I have not tried to polish, only to remem-
ber. There was then no effort after composition, no
correction, transposition nor alteration, and neither
is there now; nor conscious psychology nor senti-
ment. The scenes were all set in the house where I
lay, and there was no pause in the continuity of the
drama. I saw every gesture and heard every word
spoken. The letters were and are before me as
confirmatory evidence. My own intrusive illness
minimised the interest of the circumstances to my
immediate surroundings. But to me it seems that
the consecutive actuality of the morphia dream or
dreams is unusual if not unique, and gives value to
I refer to the MS. notes and diary for the begin-
ning of the story, but have had to make several
emendations and additions. There were too many
epigrams, and the impression the writer wished to
convey was only in the intention, and not in the
execution. What she left out I have put in. It
should be easy to separate my work from hers. And
she carried her story very little way. From the
beginning of the letters the autobiography stopped.
It started abruptly, and ended in the same way.
There were trial titles in the MS. notes. " Be-
tween the Nisi and the Absolute " competed in
favour with " The Love Story of a Woman of
Margaret Belinda Rysam was the daughter of
a New Yorker on the up-grade. Her father began
to make money when she was a baby and never left
off, even to take breath, until she was between thir-
teen and fourteen. Then his wife died, not of a
broken heart, but of her appetites fed to repletion,
and an overwhelming desire for further provender.
Her poor mouth, so much larger than her stom-
ach, was always open. He piled a great house
on Fifth Avenue into it and a bewilderment of
furniture, modern old Masters and antiquities, also
pearls and other jewellery. She never shut it,
although later there were a country house to digest
and some freak entertainments, a multiplicity of
reporters and a few disappointments. The really
" right people " were difficult to secure, the nearly
" right people " were dust and ashes. A con-
tinental tour was to follow and a London season.
. . . Before they started she died of a surfeit which
the doctors called by some other name and operated
In the pause of the hushed house and the funeral
Edgar B. Rysam began to think that perhaps he had
made sufficient money. He really grieved for that
poor open mouth and those upturned grasping
hands, realising that it was to overfill them that he
had worked. He gave up his office and found the
days empty, discovered his young daughter, and,
nearly to her undoing, filled them with her. During
her mother's life she had been left to the happy
seclusion of nursery or schoolroom; subsidiary to
the maelstrom of gold-dispensing. Now she had
more governesses and tutors than could be fitted into
the hurrying hours, and became easily aware of
her importance, that she was the adored and only
child of a widowed millionaire. Forced into con-
centrating her entire attention upon herself she
discovered a remarkable personality. Bent at first
on astonishing her surroundings she succeeded in
astonishing herself. She found that she acquired
knowledge with infinite ease and had a multiplicity
of minor talents. She wrote verses and essays, sang,
and played on various instruments. Highly paid
governesses and tutors exclaimed and proclaimed.
The words prodigy, and genius, pursued and illumi-
nated her. At the age of sixteen no subject seemed
to her so interesting as the consideration of her own
Nothing could have saved her at this juncture but
what actually occurred. For she had no incen-
tive to concentration, and every battle was won
before it was fought. To be was almost sufficient.
To do, superfluous, almost arrogant.
Edgar B. Rysam had, however, forgotten to safe-
guard his resources. That is to say, his fortune was
invested in railroad bonds and stocks. In the great
railway panic of 1893 prices came tumbling down
and public confidence fell with them. Edgar B. in
alarm, for he had forgotten the ways of railway
magnates and financiers, sold out and lost half his
capital. He reopened his office, and by dint of
buying and selling at the wrong time, rid himself of
another quarter. When he woke to his position,
and retired for the second time, he had only suffi-
cient means to be considered a rich man away from
his native land. The sale of the mansion in Fifth
Avenue, the country house, and the yacht damned
him in the sight of his fellow-citizens. He found
himself with a bare fifty thousand dollars a year,
and no friends. Under the circumstances there was
nothing for it but emigration, and he finally decided
upon England as being the most hospitable as well
as the most congenial of abiding-places. His
linguistic attainments consisted of a fair fluency in
During the year he had spent in ruining himself,
his young daughter became conscious of a pause in
the astonished admiration she excited. She bore it
better than might have been expected, because it
synchronised with her first love affair. She had
become passionately enamoured of the " cold white
keys " and practised the piano innumerable hours
in every day.
When Edgar B. remembered her existence again
she had grown pale and remote, enwrapped in her
gift and in her egotism, not doubting at all she would
be the greatest pianist the world had ever seen, and
that all those friends and acquaintances who had
ignored or cold-shouldered her during the last year
would wither with self-disdain at not having per-
ceived it earlier. Not by her father's millions would
she shine, but by reason of her unparalleled powers.
The decision to visit Europe and settle in England,
for a time was not unconnected with these visions.
She insisted she required more and better lessons.
Edgar B. was awed by her decision, by her playing,
by her astonishingly perverse and burdened youth.
He was grateful to her for not reproaching him for
his failure to grapple with a new position, and con-
trasted her, favourably, notwithstanding an uneasy
fear of disloyalty, with her mother.
" What do we want of wealth? " she asked in her
young scorn. And spoke of the vulgarity of money
and their scampered friends of the Four Hundred.
In those early days, when she hoped to become a
pianist, she had many of the faults of inferior
novelists or writers. She used, for instance, other
people's words instead of her own, and said she
wished to " scorn delight and live laborious days."
Edgar B., who knew no vision but money against a
background of rapacious domestic affection, gaped
at and tried to understand her. It was not until
they were on board the " Minotaur " and he had
come across an amiable English widow, that he
learnt his daughter was indeed a genius, ethereal, a
wonder-child. But one who needed mothering !
Even genius must eat, sleep for reasonable hours,
wear warm clothes in cold weather. Margaret's
absorbed self -consciousness left her no weapons
to fight Mrs. Merrill-Cotton's kindness. She
accepted it without surprise. It seemed quite natural
to her ; the only wonder was that the whole shipload
had eyes or ears for any one else once they had heard
her play the piano! Mrs. Merrill-Cotton brought
her port wine and milk, shawls and rugs, volubly
admiring her reticence, her unlikeness to other girls,
her dawning delicate beauty. In truth Margaret at
that period was girlishly angular and emaciated,
from midnight and other labours, too much intro-
spection and too little exercise, other than digital.
She was desultorily interested in her appearance
and a little uncertain as to whether the mass of
her fair hair accorded with her pallid complexion.
Her eyes were hazel and seemed to her lacking
in expression. She did not think herself beautiful,
but admitted she was " mystic " and of an unusual
Mrs. Merrill-Cotton found the more appropriate
words. " Dawning delicate beauty." They led her
to the looking-glass so often that she had no time
nor thought for what was happening elsewhere.
Meanwhile Mrs. Merrill-Cotton and Mr. Rysam
foregathered on deck, and at mealtimes, at the
bridge table and in the saloon. Margaret was
assured of a stepmother long before she realised the
possibility of her father having a thought for any-
body but herself. And then she was told that it
was only for her sake that the engagement had
been entered into ! Mrs. Merrill-Cotton, it appeared,
was the centre of English society, had a large income
and a larger heart. She, Margaret, would be the
chief interest of the two of them.
Margaret's indifference to mundane things was
sufficient to make her presently accept the position,
if not enthusiastically, yet agreeably. And, strangely
enough, Mrs. Merrill-Cotton proved to be as
alleged. She had never had a daughter, and wished
to mother Margaret: she had no other ulterior
motive in marrying the American. Her income
was at least as much as she had said, and she knew
a great many people. That they were city people of
greater wealth than distinction made no difference
to her future husband. He wanted a domestic
hearth and some one to share the embarrassment of
his exceptional daughter.
The first thing they did after the wedding was to
take Margaret to Dresden for those piano lessons
she craved. She broke down quickly, had not the
health, so the doctors said, for her chosen profession.
They said her heart was weak, and that she was
anaemic. So father and stepmother brought her
back to England, and installed her as the centre of
interest in the big house in Queen Anne's Gate.
At eighteen she published her first novel, at her
father's expense. It was new in method and tone.
Word was sent round by the publisher that the
authoress was a young and beautiful American
heiress, and the result was quite an extraordinary
The Lady Mayoress presented her to her
Sovereign, after which the social atmosphere of the
house quickly changed. Margaret began to under-
stand, and act. Into the thick coagulated stream of
city folk for whom the new Mrs. Rysam had an
indefinable respect there meandered journalists,
actors, painters, musicians. The whole tone of the
house unconsciously but quickly altered. Culture
was now the watchword. Money, no longer a topic
of conversation, was nevertheless permitted to min-
ister to the creature comfort of men and women of
distinction in art and letters. The two elderly
people accustomed themselves easily to the change,
they were of the non-resistant type, and Margaret
led them. When in her twentieth year her first
play was produced at a West End theatre, and she
came before the curtain to bow her acknowledgment
of the applause, their pride was overwhelming. The
next book was praised by all the critics who had been
entertained and the journalists who hoped for fur-
ther entertainment. Another and another followed.
Open house was kept in Queen Anne's Gate, and
there was an idea afloat in lower Bohemia that here
was the counterpart of the Eighteenth-century salon.
This was the high-water tide of Margaret's good
fortune. She had (as she told Gabriel Stanton in
one of her letters) everything that a young woman
could desire. The disposition of wealth, a measure
of fame, the reputation of beauty, lovers and ad-
mirers galore. Why, out of the multiplicity of these,
she should have selected James Capel, is one of
those mysteries that always remain inexplicable. It
is possible that he wooed her perfunctorily, and set
her aflame by his comparative indifference ! She
imbued him with diffidence and a hundred chivalrous
qualities to which he had no claim.
James Capel, at the piano, his head flung back,
his dark and too long locks flowing, his dark eyes
full of slumbrous passions, singing mid^Victorian
love songs in a voluptuous manner and rich vibrat-
ing voice, was irresistible to many women, although
his lips were thick and his nose not classic. A
woman like Margaret should have been immune
from his virus. Alas ! she proved ultra-susceptible,
and the resultant fever exacted from her nearly the
James Capel accepted all his tributes and seemed to
dispense his favours equally, kissing this one's hands
and casting languorous glances on the others. He
made love to Margaret with the rest, knowing no
other language nor approach. Probably he liked the
Rysams' establishment, their big Steinway Grand
and the fine dinners, the riot of wealth and the
unlimited hospitality !
He said afterwards, and every one believed it, all
the women at least, that the last thing in the world he
contemplated was marriage, that the whole situation
and final elopement were of Margaret's contriving.
Be that as it may, one cannot but pity her. She was
only twenty, ignorant of evil, with the defects of her
qualities, emotional, highly strung. She contracted
a secret marriage with the musician. What she
suffered in her quick disillusionment can easily be
realised. James Capel was ill-bred, and of a vanity
at least as great as hers. But hers had justification
and his none.
Margaret may have been inadequate as a wife,
she had been used to every consideration and found
herself without any. James Capel was beneath her
in everything, in culture and education, refinement.
He said openly that men like himself were not des-
tined for one woman. Their short married life was
tragedy, a crucifixion of her young womanhood.
She had, with all her faults, delicacy, physical
reserve, a subtlety of charm and brilliant intellect.
She had given herself to a man who could appreciate
none of these, who was coarse from his thick lips
to his language, from his large spatulate hands to
his lascivious small brain. He burned her with his
taunts of how she had pursued him, torn him from
other women, forced her love upon him. There was
just enough truth in it to make her writhe in her
desecrated soul and modesties. Of course she
thought he had feared to aspire. Now he made it
evident he considered it was she who had aspired ! ! !
He told her of duchesses who had sought his songs
and his caresses, and gloatingly of unimaginable
incidents. He tortured her beyond endurance.
She left him for the shelter of her father's home
within a few months of their marriage. There she
was nursed back into moral and physical health,
welcomed, comforted, pitied, and she slowly emerged
from this mud bath of matrimony. Her press,
theatrical and lettered friends rallied round her;
wealth and foreign travel ameliorated the position.
She wrote again and with greater success than
before. Suffering had deepened her note, she was
still without sentiment, but had acquired something
Years passed. She had almost forgotten the deg-
radation and humiliation of her marriage, when an
escapade of her husband's, brazenly public, forced
her to take definite steps for legal freedom. She was
now sufficiently famous for the papers to treat
the news as a cause celebre. James Capel unex-
pectedly defended himself, and fought her with
every weapon malice and an unscrupulous solicitor
could forge. Part of the evidence was heard in
camera, the rest should have been relegated to the
same obscurity. All the bitterness and misery of
those terrible months were revived. Now it seemed
there was nothing for her but obliteration. She
thought it impossible she could ever again come
before the public, for her story to be recalled. She
was all unnerved and shaken, refusing to go out or
to see people. She thought she desired nothing but
Yet she had to write.
The book on pottery was a sudden inspiration. It
would be something entirely new and unassociated
with her in the public mind. There were dreadful
months to be got through, the waiting months during
which, in law at least, she was still James Capel's
wife, a condition more intolerable now than it had
Whatever she may have thought about herself it
is obvious that in essentials she was unaltered. Her
egotism had re-established itself under her father
and good stepmother's care, and her amazing self-
consciousness. To her it seemed as if all the world
were talking about her. There was some founda-
tion for her belief, of course. In so much as she was
a public character, she was a favourite of that small
eclectic public. She may have overrated her posi-
tion, taken as due to herself alone that which was
equally if not more essentially owing to her father's
wealth and habit of keeping open house. Her letters
are eminently characteristic. Her self is more
prominent in them than her lover. She seems to
have bewildered Gabriel Stanton, who knew little or
nothing of women, and carried him off his feet. He
may have begun by pitying her, she appealed to his
pity, to his chivalry. As she said herself, she " ex-
posed herself entirely to him." Young, rich, beauti-
ful, famous, she was, nevertheless, at the time she
first met Gabriel Stanton as a bird in flight, shot on
the wing and falling; blood-stained, shrinking, ter-
rified, the stain spreading. Into Gabriel Stanton's
pitiful powerless hands, set on healing, she fell
almost without a struggle. This at least is her own
phrasing, and the way she wished the matter to
appear. As it did appear to him, and perhaps some-
times to herself. To others of course it might
seem she was the fowler, he the bird !
Certainly after the first visit to Greyfriars', when
she opened the matter of the ill-fated book on Staf-
fordshire Pottery there were constant letters, inter-
views and meetings, conventional and unconven-
tional. Perhaps it was only her dramatic brain,
working for copy behind its enforced and
vowed inactivity, that made her act as she did.
Her letters all read as if they were intended for pub-
lication. In her disingenuous diary and short MS.
notes, there were trial titles, without a date, and
forced epigrammatic phrases. " Publisher and
Sinner " occurred once. There is a note that
" Between the Nisi and the Absolute " met the posi-
tion more accurately.
She told Gabriel Stanton, she must have convinced
Peter Kennedy and herself, that she never knew the
danger she ran until it was too late. But the papers
she left disproved the tale.
THE early letters have already been transcribed.
Also the description of when and how I first saw
Margaret and Gabriel Stanton together, on the
beach when she told him that his coming had been a
Recalling the swift and painful writing of the
story it would seem I saw them again two days later,
and that she was occupied in making amends. They
had talked and grown in intimacy, and now it was
Sunday evening. They were in the music room at
Carbies, and she had been playing to him while
he sat spellbound, listening to and adoring her. She
was in that grey silk dress with the white muslin
fichu finished with a pink rose, her pale hair was
parted in the middle and she wore her Saint Cecilia
expression. She left off playing presently, came
over to him with swift grace and sank on the foot-
stool at his feet.
" What are you thinking about ? You are not
vexed with me still ? "
" Was I ever vexed with you ? "
" Yesterday afternoon, when I said I was disap-
pointed in you."
1 64 TWILIGHT
" Not vexed, surely not vexed, only infinitely
" Have you enjoyed your visit, notwithstanding
that strange slow beginning? Tell me, have you
been happy ? "
" I don't know. I don't quite know. I have been
so excited, restless. I have not wanted any one else.
It is difficult for me to know myself. Are you still
sorry for me, like you were in London ? "
" My heart goes out to you. You have suffered,
but you have great compensations; great gifts. I
would sympathise with you, but you make me feel
my own limitations. I fear to fail you. You have
the happier nature, the wider vision ..."
"Then you have not been happy?"
" Yes, I have, inexpressibly happy. I wish I could
tell you. But I matter so little in comparison with
" I don't want you to be humble."
" I am not humble, I am proud."
" Because you have taken me for your friend."
He never touched her whilst she sat there at his
feet, but his eyes never left her and his voice was
deep and tender. They talked of friendship, all the
time, they only spoke of friendship. And he was
unsure of himself, or of her, more deeply shy than
she, and moved, though less able to express it.
" Next week you will come again. Will it be the
same between us ? "
" I will come whenever you let me. With me it
will always be the same, or more. Sometimes I
cannot believe that it is to me this is happening. To
me, Gabriel Stanton! What is it you find in me?
Sometimes I think it is only your own sweet good-
ness; that what you expressed in seeing me this
time you will find again and again disappointment ;
that I am not the man you think me, the man you
" Am I what you thought I would be? Are you
satisfied with me ? "
" I am overpowered with you."
She stole a look at him. His close and thin-
lipped mouth had curves that were wholly new, his
sunken eyes were lit up. She was secretly enrap-
tured with him.
" I thought you very grave and severe when I
first came to the office. What did you think of
"What I do now, that you were wonderful.
After you left I could not settle to work . . . but
I have told you this."
" Tell me again. Why didn't you say something
nice to me then ? You were short, sharp, non-com-
mittal. I went away quite downcast, I made sure
you did not want my poor little book, that you would
write and refuse it, in set businesslike terms."
" I knew I would not. If George had said no, I
should have fought him. I was determined upon
that book of Staffordshire Pottery. Were you dis-
appointed with my letter when it came?"
" I loved it. I have always loved your letters.
You never disappoint me then."
Because they had grown more intimate he was
able to say to her gently, but with unmistakable
" Dear, it hurts me so when you say that. I know
I shall think of it when I am alone, wonder in what
way I fail you, how I can alter or change. Can you
help me, tell me? I came down with such con-
" But you had cut yourself shaving."
" Be a little serious, beloved. Tell me."
" You thought I cared for you . . . that we
should begin in Pineland where we left off in
"I hoped ..."
" But I had run away from you ! "
They smiled at each other.
" You will come again next week ? " she asked
" And if I should again disappoint you? "
" Then you must be patient with me, good to me
until it is all right again. I am a strange creature,
a woman of moods." She was silent a moment.
" I have been through so much." He bent toward
her. She rose abruptly, there had been little or no
caressing between them. Now she spoke quickly :
" Don't hope too much ... or ... or expect
anything. I am a megalomaniac: everything that
happens to me seems larger, grander, finer, more
wonderful than that which happens to any one
She paused a moment. " This . . . then, between
us is friendship ? " she went on tentatively.
He answered her very steadily :
" This, between us, is what you will."
"You know how it has been with me?" Her
voice was broken. He was deeply moved and
" God gave it to me to comfort you."
There was a long pause after that. It was getting
late, and they must soon part. He kissed her hands
when he went away, first one and then the other.
" Until next week."
" Until next week, or any time you need me."
Then there were letters between them, letters that
have already been transcribed.
He came the next week and the next. A man of
infinite culture, widely read and with a very real
knowledge of every subject of which he spoke, it
was not perhaps strange that she fell under the
spell of his companionship, and found it ever more
Her own education was American and superficial,
but her intelligence was really of a high order and
browsed eagerly upon his. The only other she
was seeing at this time was Dr. Peter Kennedy, a
man of very different calibre. Peter Kennedy,
country born and bred, of a coarsening profession
and provincial experience.
Margaret was not made to live alone, for all her
talk of resources, her piano and her books, her
writing materials. The house, Carbies, was soon
obnoxious to her. She had taken it for three months
against the advice of her people, who feared solitude
for her. She could not give in so soon, tell them
they were right. But it was and remains ugly,
ill-furnished, with its rough garden. She had some
sort of heart attack the Monday after Gabriel Stan-
ton's first visit, and it was then Dr. Kennedy told
her about her house, wondered at her having taken
After he told her that it had been a nursing-home
she began to dislike the place actively, said the rooms
were haunted with the groans of people who had
been operated upon, that she smelt ether and disin-
fectants. She did not tell Gabriel Stanton these
things. To Gabriel, Carbies was enchanted ground,
he came here as to a shrine, worshipping. He used
to talk to her of the golden bloom of the gorse, and
the purple of the distant sea, of the way the sun
shone on his coming. When with him she made no
mention of distaste. For five successive weeks that
spring the weather held, and each week-end was
lovelier than the last. From Friday to Monday she
may have felt the charm of which he spoke. From
Monday to Friday she lamented to her doctor about
the groans and the smell of disinfectants, and he con-
soled her in his own way, which was not hers, and
would not have been Gabriel's, but was the best he
Peter Kennedy at this time was recently qualified,
not very learned in his profession, nor in anything
else for that matter. He became quickly infatuated
with his new patient. She told him she had heart
disease, and he looked up " Diseases of the Heart "
in Ouain's " Dictionary of Medicine " and gave her
all the prescribed remedies, one after another.
He heard of her reputation ; chiefly from herself,
probably. And that she was rich. Mr. and Mrs.
Rysam came down once, with motors and maids,
and made it clear; they told him what a precious
charge he had. He took Edgar Rysam out golfing,
golfing had been Peter Kennedy's chief interest in
life until he met Margaret Capel. And Edgar found
him very companionable and most considerate to a
beginner. Edgar Rysam had taken to golf because
he was putting on flesh, because his London doctor
and some few stock-broking friends advised it. He
had practised assiduously with a professional, learnt
how to stand, but forgotten the lessons in approach
and drive an4 putt.
He had succeeded in acquiring a bag of fine clubs
and some golfing jargon. He never knew there
was any enjoyment in the game until Peter Kennedy
walked round the Pineland course with him and
handicapped him into winning a match. After that
he wanted to play every day and always, talked of
prolonging his stay, of coming down again. Mar-
garet reproached Peter for what he had done.
" I did it to please you ... I thought you
wanted them to be amused."
"If that was all I wanted I would have stayed in
London," she retorted. She was extraordinarily
and almost contemptuously straightforward with
Peter Kennedy. She knew that with a man of his
limited experience it was unnecessary to be subtle.
She may have sometimes encouraged his approaches,
but the greater part of the time snubbed him unmer-
" You don't put yourself on the same level as
Gabriel Stanton, do you? " she asked him scornfully
one day when he was gloomily complaining that " a
fellow never had a chance."
" If I were not more of a man than that I'd kick
" More of a man ! "
" You wouldn't get me to stay at the hotel." She
flushed and said :
" Well, you can go now. I've had enough of you,
you tire me."
" You'll send for me to come back directly you are
" Very likely. That only means I like your drugs
better than you."
He seized her hand, her waist, not for the first
time, swore that he would kill himself if she despised
and flouted him. Probably she liked the scenes he
made her, for she often provoked them. They were
mere rough animal scenes, acutely different from
those she was able to bring about with Gabriel. But
she did not do the only obvious and correct thing,
which was to dismiss him and find another doctor.
In these strange days, waiting for her freedom,
seeing Gabriel Stanton from Saturday to Monday
and only Peter Kennedy all the long intervening
week, she may have liked the excitement of being
attended by a doctor who was madly in love with
her. She excused herself to me on the ground that
she was a novelist and he a strange and primitive
creature of whom she was making a study. Also,
curiously enough, he was genuinely musical. Some-
thing of an executant and an enthralled listener.
He himself suggested more than once that she
should have other advice about her heart and he
brought his partner to see her. But never repeated
the experiment. Dr. Lansdowne purred and
prodded her, talking all the time he used his stetho-
scope, smiling between whiles in a superior way as
if he knew everything. Particularly when she tried
to tell him her symptoms, or what other doctors
" You have a nurse ? " he asked her. " I had
better see her nurse, Kennedy."
" A nurse, why should I have a nurse ? I have
" You ought never to be without a nurse. You
ought never to be alone," he told her solemnly.
" Now do, my dear child, be guided by me." He
smiled and patted her. " I will tell Dr. Kennedy
all about it, give him full instructions. I will see
you again in a few days. Come, Kennedy, I can
give you a lift; we will decide what is to be done."
He smiled his farewell.
" See me again in a day or two ! Not if I know
it. Not in a day or two, or a week or two, or a
month or two."
She was furious with him, and with Dr. Kennedy
for having brought him. Peter Kennedy had acted
well, according to his lights. He did not wish to
turn his beloved patient over to his all-conquering
partner, but the more infatuated he became about
her the less he trusted his own knowledge.
" A bad case of angina, extensive valvular disease.
Keep her as quiet as possible, she ought not to be
contradicted. Get a nurse or a couple of nurses
for her. Daughter of Edgar Rysam, the American
millionaire, isn't she? Seems to have taken quite
a fancy to you. Extraordinary creatures these so-
called clever women! You ought to make a good
thing out of the case."
Kennedy went back to Carbies after Dr. Lans-
downe dropped him, made his way back as quickly
as possible. Margaret had bidden him return to tell
her what had been said.
" Not that I believe in him or in anything he may
have told you. He did not even listen to my heart,
he was so busy talking and grinning and reassuring
me. What did he tell you? That he heard a mur-
mur? I am so sick of that murmur. I have been
hearing of it ever since I was a child."
Peter slurred over everything Lansdowne had
said to him, except that she must be kept quiet ; she
must not allow herself to get excited. He implored
her to keep very quiet. She laughed and asked
whether he thought he had a calmative influence?
He put his arms about her for all that she resisted
him and blubbered over her like the great baby he
" I adore you, I want to take care of you, and you
won't look at anybody but him."
She pushed him away, told him she could not
bear to be touched.
" If it hadn't been for him? Tell me, if it hadn't
been for Gabriel Stanton it would have been me,
wouldn't it ? You do like me a little, don't you? "
It was impossible to keep him at a proper dis-
" Like you ! not particularly. Why should I ?
You are very troublesome and presumptuous."
She could not deal with him as she did with
Gabriel. To this young country doctor, ten years
before I knew him and he had acquired wisdom,
men and women were just men and women, no more
and no less. He had fallen headlong in love with
Margaret, and when he saw he had, as he said, no
chance, he could not be brought to believe that
Gabriel Stanton was not her lover. He was demon-
stratively primitive, and many of his so-called medi-
cal visits she spent in fighting his advances. He
knew that what she had to give she was giving to
Gabriel Stanton, because she told him so, made no
secret of it, but was for ever asking " If it hadn't
been for him? If you'd met me first? " One would
have thought that Margaret, Gabriel's " fair pale
Margaret," would have resented or at least tired of
this rough persistent wooing, but if this were so
there was nothing in her conduct to show it.
She said or wrote to Gabriel Stanton : " the very
thought of physical love is repugnant to me,
horrible." Yet Peter kissed her hands, her feet,
attempted her lips, made her fierce wild scenes. She
called him a boy, but he was a year older than her-
self. Gabriel brought her books and the most
reverent worship, was mindful of her slightest wish.
He hoped that one day she would be his wife, but
scarcely dared to say it, since once she put the
matter aside, almost imploringly, growing pale,
" Don't talk to me of marriage, not yet. How
can you ? At least, wait ! "
She spoke of her sensitiveness. But her sensitive-
ness was as a mountain to a mist compared with his.
She would tell him her most intimate thoughts, sit
with him by dying fire or in gathering twilight, hold-
ing herself aloof. If, because he was so different
from Peter Kennedy, she did sometimes try her
woman's wiles on him, she never moved him to
depart from the programme or the principles she
herself had laid down.
Another Sunday evening, it was either the third
or fourth of his coming, sitting in the lamplight,
after dinner, in the music room, after a long enervat-
ing day of mutual confidences and ever-growing
intimacy, she tried to break through his defences.
They had been talking of Nietzsche, not of his
philosophy, but his life. She had been envying
Nietzsche's devoted sister and her opportunities
when, suddenly and disingenuously, she startled
Gabriel by saying :
" You are not a bit interested in what I am
saying, you are thinking of something else all the
" Of you . . . only of you ! "
" Of the intellectual me or the physical me? Do
I please you to-night ? "
1 76 TWILIGHT
She nearly always wore grey, a ribbon or a flower,
material or cut, diversified her wardrobe. To-night
the grey material was the softest crepe de chine ; and
she wore one pink rose in a blue belt. This treat-
ment gave value to her blonde cendre hair and fair
complexion, she gave the impression of a most
delicate, slightly faded, yet modern miniature.
" You always please me."
" Please, or excite you ? "
" My dear one ! "
He was startled, thought she did not know what
it was she was saying. His blood leaped, but he had
it under control. What was growing perfectly be-
tween them was love. She would soon be a free
" I want to know. Sometimes I wonder if I
were more beautiful ..."
" You could not be more beautiful."
" More like other women, or perhaps if you were
more like other men ..."
"There is no difference between me and other
men," he answered quickly. And then although he
thought she did not know what she was implying, or
where the conversation might carry them, he went
on even more steadily : " I want to carry out your
wishes. If I had the privilege of telling you all that
is in my heart ..."
" I am admiring your self-control."
It was true she hardly knew what was impelling
her to this reckless mood. " My wishes ! What are
my wishes? Sometimes one thing and sometimes
another. To-night for instance ..."
He was in the corner of the sofa, she on the high
fender stool in the firelight. There were only oil
lamps in the room, and she and the fireside shone
more brightly than they.
When she said softly, " To-night for instance,"
she got up ; her eyes seemed to challenge him. He
rose too, and would have taken her in his arms,
but that she resisted.
" No, no, no, you don't really want to ...
talking is enough for you."
" You strange Margaret," he said tenderly.
" I sometimes wonder if you care for me or only
for my talk," she said with a nervous laugh.
" If you only knew." His arms remained about
" If I only knew ! " she exclaimed. " Tell me,"
she whispered coaxingly.
" How I long for this waiting time to be at an
end. To woo you, win you. You say anything
approaching physical love is hateful and abhorrent
to you. Yet, if I thought . . . Margaret!"
She did not repel him, although his arms were
around her. And now, reverently, softly, he sought
and found her unreluctant lips. One of the lamps
flickered and went out. His arms tightened about
her ; she had not thought to be so happy in any man's
1 78 TWILIGHT
arms. Her heart beat very fast and the blood in her
" How much do you care for me ? " she whis-
pered ; her voice trembled.
" More than for life itself," he whispered back.
"And I . . . I . . ." He felt her trembling
in his arms as if with fear. He loved and hushed her
with ineffable tenderness, his control keeping pace
with his rising blood. " My love, my love, I will
take care of you. Trust yourself to me. I love
you perfectly, beloved."
He had an exquisite sense of honour and a com-
plete ignorance of womanhood. A flash of electric-
ity from him and all would have been aflame. But
she had said once that until the decree was made
absolute she did not look upon herself as a free
" My little brave one, beloved. It will not be
always like this between us. Tell me that it will
not. I count the days and hours. You will take
me for your husband ? "
She could feel the beating of his pulses, her cheek
lay against his coat. But her heart slowed down a
little. How steadfast he was and reliable, the soul
of honour. But she was a woman, difficult to
satisfy. She had wanted from him this evening,
this moment, something of that she won so easily
from Peter Kennedy. The temperament she denied
was alight and clamorous.
" Heart of my innermost heart."
" I am so lonely in this house."
" So lonely ; it is haunted, I think. I can never
sleep, I lie awake . . . for hours. Don't go"
Her own words shook and shocked her. She was
still and supine in his encompassing arm. There
was perhaps a relaxation of his moral fineness, a
faint disintegration. But of only a moment's dura-
tion, and no man ever held a woman more rever-
ently or more tenderly.
" My wife that will be ... that will be soon.
How I adore you."
Their hands were interlocked, they felt the dear
sweetness of each other's breath; their hearts were
Silence then, a long-drawn silence.
" It is not long now. I am counting the days,
the hours. You won't say again I disappoint you,
will you? You will bear with me?"
She clung closer to him. To-night he moved her
" You really do love me ? " she whispered.
" I want to take care of you always. My dear,
darling, how good you are to let me love you ! One
day I will be your husband ! I dare hardly say the
words. Promise me ! " And again his lips sought
hers. " Your husband and your lover ..."
An extraordinary chill came upon her. She could
not herself say what had happened, the effect, but
never the cause.
She disengaged herself from him. When he saw
she wanted to go he made no effort to hold
" It is very late, isn't it ? " He made no answer,
and she repeated the question. " It's very late, isn't
" I don't know."
" I wish you would look."
He took out his watch.
" Barely ten. You are tired ? "
" Yes, a little."
" Margaret, you say you are lonely in this house,
nervous. Would you feel better if I patrolled the
garden, if you felt I was at hand? "
" Oh, no, no. I didn't know what I was saying."
All her mood had changed.
" I must have forgotten Stevens and the other
Then she moved away from him, over to the
round table where the dead lamp still gave an
She tried it this way and that, but there was no
flame, only flicker.
" You always take me so seriously, misunder-
He came near her again.
" I don't think I misunderstand you," he said
" I am sorry," she answered vaguely. " It was
" Fault ! You have not a fault ! "
" But now I want you to go."
His eyes questioned and caressed her.
" Until next week then."
He took her in his arms, but her lips were cold,
unresponsive, it was almost an apology she made :
" I am really so tired."
When he had gone, lying among the pillows on
the sofa, she said to herself :
" Greek roots ! He is supposed to be more learned
in Greek roots than any one in England. But the
root word of this he missed entirely. REACTION.
That is the root word. I don't know what came over
me. Why is he so unlike other men ? What if such
a moment had come to me with Peter Kennedy ! "
She smiled faintly all by herself in the firelight.
How impossible it was that she should have played
like this with Peter Kennedy. He moved her no
more than a log of wood. Then she was suddenly
ashamed, her cheeks dyed red in the darkness.
SHE was surprised at what had happened to her,
thought a great deal about it, magnifying or mini-
mising it according to her mood. But in a way the
incident drew her more definitely toward Gabriel
Stanton. She began to admit she was in love with
him, to do as he had bidden her, " let herself go."
In imagination at least. Had she been a psychologi-
cal instead of an epigrammatic novelist, she would
have understood herself better. To me, writing her
story at this headlong pace, it was nevertheless all
quite clear. I had not to linger to find out why she
did this or that, what spirit moved her. I knew all
the time, for although none of my own novels ever
had the success of " The Dangerous Age " I knew
more about what the author wrote there than he did
himself, much more. The Dangerous Age comes
to a woman at all periods. With Margaret Capel it
was seven years after her marriage and over six
from the time when she had left her husband. She
was impulsive, and for all her introspective egotism,
most pitifully ignorant of herself and her emotional
capacity. Fortunately Gabriel Stanton was almost
as ignorant as she. But, at least after that Sunday
evening, there was no more talk of friendship
between them. There was coquetting on her side
and some obtuseness on his. Rare flashes of under-
standing as well, and on her part deepening feeling
under a light and varying surface.
She was rarely twice alike, often she merely
acted, thinking of herself as a strange character in
a drama. She was genuinely uncertain of herself.
Her love flamed wild sometimes. Then she would
pull herself up and remember that something like
this she had felt once before, and it had proved a
will o' the wisp over a bog. She wanted to walk
" Supposing I am wrong again this time ? " she
asked him once with wide eyes.
" You are not. This is real. Trust me, trust
yourself." She liked to nestle in the shelter of his
arm, to feel his lips on her hair, to torment and
adore him. The week-ends seemed very short; the
week-days long. Week-days during which she was
restless and excitable, and Peter Kennedy and his
bag of tricks, medical tricks, often in request. She
was very capricious with Peter, calling him ignorant,
and a country yokel. As a companion he compared
very badly with Gabriel. As an emotional machine
he was easier to play upon. She spared him nothing,
he was her whipping-boy. Watching him one
noticed that he grew quieter, improved in many ways
as she secured more and more mastery over him.
When there were scenes now they were of her and
1 84 TWILIGHT
not of his making. He was wax in her hands, plastic
to her moulding. Sometimes she was sorry for him
and a little ashamed of herself. Then she gave him
a music lesson or lectured him gravely on his short-
comings. But from first to last he was nothing to
her but a stop-gap. His devotion had the smallest
The weeks went by. Gabriel Stanton coming and
going, staying always at the local hotel. Ever more
secure in his position with her, but never taking
advantage of it.
" He is naturally of a cold nature," she argued.
And once her confidant was Peter Kennedy and she
compared the two of them. This was in early days,
before her treatment of Peter had subdued him.
" What's he afraid of ? " Peter asked brusquely.
" Until the decree has been made absolute I am
" So what he is afraid of is the King's Proctor? "
" His precious respectability, the great house of
" You take it all wrong, you don't understand.
How should you ? "
" Don't I? I wish I'd half his chances."
" You are really not in the same category of men.
It is banal I have never fully realised the value of
a banal phrase before, but you are ' not fit to wipe the
mud off his shoes.' "
" Because I am a country doctor."
" Because you are Peter Kennedy."
She knew then how comparatively thick-skinned
he was; that if he had some sense or senses in
e.vcelsis, in others he was lacking, altogether lacking
and unconscious. It is not paradoxical but plain that
the more she saw of Gabriel Stanton the less heed
she took of Peter Kennedy's freedom of speech and
ways. The two men were as apart as the poles, that
they both adored her proved nothing but her un-
doubted charm. She was not quite looking forward,
like Gabriel Stanton, through the " decree absolute "
to marriage. She lived in the immediate present;
in the Saturdays to Mondays when she tortured
Gabriel Stanton and in a way was tortured by him.
For she had never met so fine a brain, nor honour
and simplicity so clean and clear, and she was up-
borne by and with him. And the Tuesdays to Fri-
days she had attacks or crises of the nerves and
Kennedy alternately doctored and clumsily courted
There came a time when she wrote and asked
Gabriel to bring his sister next time he came, and
that both of them should stay in the house with her,
at Carbies. It was clear, if it had not been put into
actual words, that they would marry as soon as she
was free, and she thought it would please him that
she should recognise the position.
" I want to know her. Tell her I am a friend of
yours who is interested in Christian Science, then
she won't think it strange that I should invite her
here." She was not frank enough to say " since
she is to be my sister-in-law." .
Gabriel, nevertheless, was translated when the
letter came, and answered it rapturously. The invi-
tation to his sister seemed to admit his footing, to
make the future more definite and domestic.
But if you want me to stay away I will stay away.
Remember it is your wishes not mine that count.
I tired you, perhaps? Did I tire you? God bless
I can never tell you half that is in my heart.
You are an angel of goodness, and I am on my knees
before you all the time. I will tell Anne as little
as possible until you give me permission, yet I am
sure she must guess the rest. My voice alters when
I speak of you, although I try to keep it even
and calm. I went to her when I got your letter.
" A friend of mine wants to know you." I began
as absurdly as that. She looked at me in surprise,
and I went on hurriedly, " She wants you to go
down with me to her house in Pineland at the end
of the week. . . ."
"You have been there before?" she asked sus-
piciously, sharply. " Is that where you have been
each week lately ? "
" Yes," I answered, priding myself that I did
not go on to tell her each week I entered Paradise,
lingered there a little while. She began to question,
probe me. Were you old, young, beautiful; the
questions poured forth. Somehow or other, in the
end these questions froze and silenced me. I could
not tell her, you were you! She would not have
understood. Nor was I able to satisfy her com-
pletely on any point. I could not describe you, felt
myself stammering like a schoolboy over the colour
of your hair, your eyes. How could I say to her
' This sweet lady who invites you to make her ac-
quaintance is just perfection, no more nor less; all
compound of fire and dew, made composite and
credible with genius " ? As for giving a description
of you, it would need a poet and a painter working
together, and in the end they would give up the
task in despair. I did not tell Anne this.
She is now reviewing her wardrobe. And I
... I am reviewing nothing . . . past definite
thought. Do you know that when I left you on
Sunday I feared that I had vexed or disappointed
you again? You seemed to me a little cold con-
strained. Monday and Tuesday I have examined
and cross-examined myself suffered. My whole
life is yours but if I fail to please you! I was in
a hotel in the country once, when a man was
brought in from the football field, very badly hurt.
His eyes were shut, his face agonised ; he moaned,
for all his fortitude. There was a doctor in the
crowd that accompanied him, who gave what
seemed to me a strange order : " Put him in a hot
bath, just as he is, don't delay a moment; don't
wait to undress him." My own bath was just pre-
pared and I proffered it. They lowered him in.
He was a fine big fellow, but suffering beyond self-
restraint. Within a minute of the water reaching
him, clothes on and everything, he left off moaning.
His face grew calm. " My God ! I am in heaven ! "
The relief must have been exquisite. I thought
of the incident when your letter came, when I had
submerged myself in it. I had forgotten it for
years, but remembered it then. I too had passed
in one moment from exquisite agony to a most
wonderful calm. Dear love, how can I thank you!
I am not going to try. Anne and I will come by
the train arriving at Pineland at 4.52. I will not
ask your kindness for her; I see you diffusing it.
She will be grateful, and the form her gratitude
will take will be the endeavour to convert you to
Christian Science. My sweet darling, you will
listen gravely, patiently. And I shall know it will
be for me. I have done nothing to deserve you,
am nothing, only your worshipper. Some day per-
haps you will let me do something for you. Dear
heart, I love you, love you, love you, however I
Friday, Margaret decided it was better that she
should entertain her guests alone. She had to learn
the idiosyncrasies of this poor sister of her lover's,
to acclimatise herself to a new atmosphere between
herself and Gabriel. She invited Peter Kennedy to
dine with them on Saturday, but bade him not to
speak lightly of Christian Science.
" What's the game ? " he asked her.
" I think it is probably some form of mesmerism ;
I don't quite know. Anyway Mr. Stanton's sister
is an invalid and thinks Christian Science has re-
lieved her. You are not to laugh at or argue with
" I am to dine here and talk to her, I suppose,
whilst you and that fellow ogle and make love to
each other." She turned a cold shoulder to him.
" I withdraw my invitation, you need not come
" Of course I shall come. And what is the name
of the thing? Christian Science? I'll get it up.
You know I'd do anything on earth you asked me,
though you treat me like a dog."
" At least you snatch an occasional bone," she
smiled as he mumbled her hand.
Margaret sent for Mary Baker Eddy's " Science
and Health ; with a Key to the Scriptures," and spent
the emptiest two hours she could remember in trying
to master the viewpoint of the book, the essential
dogma. Failing completely she flung it to Peter
Kennedy, who read aloud to her sentence after
sentence as illuminative as these :
r ' Destructive electricity is not the offspring of
infinite good.' Who the devil said it was? "
" Hush, go on. There must be something more
in it than that." He turned to the title-page,
" ' Printed and published at Earlswood ' ? No, my
mistake at Boston. ' Christian Science rationally
explains that all other pathological methods are the
fruits of human faith in matter, in the -working, not
of spirit, but of the fleshly mind, which must yield
to Science.' Don't knit your brows. What's the
good of swotting at it? Let's say Abracadabra to
her and see what happens."
" What an indolent man you are. Is that the way
you worked at your examination ? "
" I qualified."
" I suppose that was the height of your ambi-
" You don't give a man much encouragement to
" But this was before I knew you."
" Don't you believe it. I never lived at all before
you knew me."
" I'm getting on for thirty."
" You can't expect me to remember it whilst you
behave as if you were seventeen. Take the book
up again, let us give it an honest trial."
He read on obediently, and she listened with a real
desire for instruction. Then all at once she put her
fingers in her ears and called a halt.
" That will do. Ring for tea, I can't listen to any
He went on nevertheless : " ' Mind is not the
author of Matter/ I say, this is jolly good. You
can read it the other way too. 'Matter is not the
author of mind. There is no matter . . . put
matter under the foot of mind/ Put Mrs. Eddy
under the foot of a militant suffragette. Oh ! I say
. . . listen to this ..."
" No, I won't, not to another word. Poor Ga-
briel ..." He threw the book away.
" Always that damned fellow ! " he said.
When Friday came and the house had been swept
and garnished Margaret drove to the station to
receive her guests. The room prepared for Anne
was on the same corridor as her own, facing south,
and with a balcony. Margaret herself had seen to
all the little details for her comfort. A big sofa
and easy-chair, pen and ink and paper, the latest
novel : flowers on the mantelpiece and dressing-table,
a filled biscuit box, and small spirit stand. Then,
more slowly, she had gone into the little suite pre-
pared for Gabriel, bedroom and bathroom, no bal-
cony, but a wide window. She only stayed a
moment, she did not give a thought to his little
comforts. She was out of the room again quickly.
She arrived late at the station, and Gabriel was
already on the platform; he never had the same
happy certainty as the first time, nor knew how she
would greet him. The first impression she had of
Anne was of a little old woman, bent-backed, fussing
about the luggage, about some bag after which she
enquired repeatedly and excitedly, of whose safety
she could not be assured until Gabriel produced it
to her from among the others already on the plat-
" Shall we go on and leave him to follow with the
luggage ? " Margaret asked.
" Oh, no, no, I couldn't think of moving until it
is found. So tiresome ..."
" I am sure you are tired after your journey."
" I don't know what it is to be tired since I have
taken up Christian Science. You know we are
never tired unless we think we are," Anne said,
when they were in the carriage, bowling along the
good road toward the reddening glow of the sunset.
Margaret and Gabriel, sitting opposite, but not fac-
ing each other embarrassed, shy with the memory
of their last parting, were glad of this interven-
ing person who chattered of her non-fatigue, the
essential bag, and the number of things she had had
to see to before she left home. All the way from
Pineland station to the crunching gravel path at
Carbies Anne talked and they made a feint of listen-
ing to her. The feeling between them was a great
height. They were almost glad of her presence, of
her fretting small talk. Margaret said afterwards
she felt damp and deluged with it, properly subdued.
" I felt as if I had come all out of curl," she told
him. No wonder you speak so little, are reserved."
" I am not reserved with you," he answered.
" I think sometimes that you are."
" There is not a corner or cranny of my mind I
should not wish you to explore if it interested you,"
he replied passionately.
All that evening Anne's volubility never failed.
She was of the type of woman, domestic and fre-
quent, who can talk for hours without succeeding in
saying anything. Most of it seemed simultaneous!
Anne Stanton, who was ten years older than Gabriel
and had an idea that she " managed " him, prided
herself also on her good social quality and capacity
for carrying off a situation. She thought of this
invitation and introduction to the young lady with
whom her brother had evidently fallen in love as
" a situation " and she felt herself of immense
importance in it. Gabriel must have kept his secret
better than he knew. She believed that he was seek-
ing her opinion of his choice, that the decision, if
there was to be a decision, rested with her. One
must do her the justice to admit that she did not
give a thought to any possible alteration in her own
position. She had always lived with Gabriel, she
knew he would not cast her off. Conscious of her
adaptability she had already said to him on the way
" I could live with anybody, any nice person, and,
of course, since I have been so well everything is
even easier. I do hope I shall like her. ..."
She did like her, very much, Margaret saw to
that, behaving exquisitely under the stimulus of
Gabriel's worshipping eyes; listening as if she were
absorbedly interested in a description of the par-
ticular Healer who had Anne's case in hand.
" At first you see I was quite strange to it, I
didn't understand completely. Mr. Roope is a little
deaf, but he says he hears as much as he wants to
... so beautifully content and devout."
" Has Mrs. Roope any defect? " Margaret got a
word or two in edgeways before the end of the
evening, her sense of humour helping her.
" She has a sort of hysterical affection. She goes
' Bupp, bupp,' like a turkey-cock and swells at the
throat. At least that is what I thought, but I am
very backward at present. Some one asked her the
cause once, when I was there, and she said she had
no such habit, the mistake was ours. It is all very
" Are there any other members of the family? "
" Her dear mother ! Such a nice creature, and
quite a believer ; she has gall-stones."
" Not really, you know, they pass with prayer.
She looks ill, very ill sometimes, but of course that is
another of my mistakes. I am having absent treat-
" They know where you are ? " Gabriel asked,
perhaps a little anxiously.
" Oh ! dear, yes. I am never out of touch with
After she had retired for the night, for notwith-
standing her immunity from fatigue and pain, she
retired early, explaining that she wanted to put her
things in order, Gabriel lingered to tell Margaret
again what an angel she was, and of his gratitude to
her for the way she was receiving and making much
of his sister.
" I like doing it, she interests me. I suppose she
really believes in it all."
" I think so. You see her illness is partly nervous,
partly her spine, but still to a certain extent, nervous.
She is undoubtedly better since she had this hobby.
The only thing that worries me is this family of
whom she speaks, these Roopes. Of course they
will get everything she has out of her, every penny.
If it only stops at that ..."
"You have seen them?"
" Not yet. I hear the man is an emaciated idler,
not over-clean, his wife has evidently a bad form of
St. Vitus's dance. The woman leads them all, the
old mother, all of them. I expect they live upon
what she makes. I've heard a story or two . . .
I had not realized about this absent treatment, that
Anne tells them where she goes. You don't mind ? "
"Why should I mind?"
" She may have told them I come here ..."
" Oh ! that ! I had forgotten."
It was true, she had forgotten that she must walk
circumspectly. She had spoken of and forgotten it.
Now she remembered, because he reminded her;
reddened and wished she had not invited Anne.
Anne, with her undesirable acquaintances and me-
andering talk, who would keep her and Gabriel com-
pany on their walks and drives for the next two
But Providence, or a broken chain in the sequence
of the Roope Christian Science treatment, came to
her aid. On Saturday Anne was prostrated with
" She has never been able to bear a railway
" Does she explain? "
" I went in to see her. ' If only I had faith
enough,' she moaned, and asked me to send Mrs.
Roope a telegram. I persuaded her to five grains
of aspirin, but I could see she felt very guilty about
it. She will sleep until the afternoon."
" We can leave her? "
" Oh, yes ! I doubt if she will be well awake by
dinner, certainly not before."
" Let us get away from here, from Carbies and
" Right to the other side of the island. We could
lunch at Ryde. I'll get a car."
Nothing suited either of them so well today as a
long silent drive. The car went too fast for them to
talk. Retrospect or the comparison of notes was
practically impossible. They sat side by side, smil-
ing rarely, one at the other as the spring burst into
life around them. The tall hedges were full of may
blossom, with here and there a flowering currant,
the trees wore their coronal of young green leaves,
great clumps of primroses succeeded the yellow
gorse of which they had tired, fields were already
green with the autumn-sown corn, there was nothing
to remind them of Carbies. For a long time the
sea was out of sight. Never had they been happier
together, for all they spoke so little.
At Ryde he played the host to her, and she sat
on the verandah whilst he went in to give his orders.
A few ships were aride in the bay, but the scene was
very different from what she had ever seen it
before, in Regatta time, when it was gay with bunt-
ing and familiar faces. Today they had it to them-
selves, the hotel she only knew as overcrowded, and
the view of the town, so strangely quiet. And excel-
lent was the luncheon served to them. A lobster
mayonnaise and a fillet steak, a pie of early goose-
berries, which nevertheless Margaret declared were
bottled. They spoke of other meals they had had
together, of one in the British Museum in particular.
On this occasion it pleased her to declare that boiled
cod, not crimped, but flabby and served with luke-
warm egg sauce, was the most ambrosial food she
" I don't know when I enjoyed a meal so much,"
she said reflectively.
r< You wrote and reproached me for it." His eyes
caressed and forgave her for it.
" You did indeed. I can produce your plaint in
your own handwriting."
" You don't mean to say you keep my let-
" I would rather part with my Elzevirs."
This was the only time they approached sentiment,
approached and sheered off. There was something
between them, in wait for them, at which at that
moment neither wished to look.
The sun sparkled on the waters, a boatload of
smart young naval officers put off from a strange
yacht in the bay. Gabriel and Margaret wished that
their landing at the pier should synchronise with
their own departure. Nothing was to break the
unusualness of their solitude in this whilom crowded
place. He showed his tenderness in the way he
cloaked her, tucked the rugs about her, not in any
spoken word. She felt it subtly about her, and
glowed in it, most amazingly content.
When they got back to Carbies, after having
satisfied herself that her guest had recovered and
would join them at dinner, she astonished her maid
by demanding an evening toilette. She wore a gown
of grey and silver brocade, very stiff and Eliza-
bethan, a chain of uncut cabochon emeralds hung
round her neck, and a stomacher of the same deco-
rated her corsage. The mauve osprey upstanding in
her hair was clasped by a similar encrusted jewel.
She carried herself regally. Had she not come into
her woman's Kingdom? Tonight she meant that
he should see what he had won.
It was a strange evening, nevertheless, and they
were a strangely assorted quartette. There was a
little glow of colour in Margaret's cheeks, such as
Peter Kennedy had never seen there before, her eyes
shone like stars, and she wore this regal toilette.
Peter was introduced to Anne. Anne, yellowish and
subdued after the migraine, dressed in brown taffeta,
opening at the wizened throat to display a locket
of seed pearls on a gold chain ; her brown toupee had
slipped a little and discovered a few grey hairs, her
hands, covered with inexpensive rings, showed claw-
like and tremulous. Margaret's unringed hands, so
pale and small, were like Japanese flowers. Peter
had to take in Anne. Gabriel gave his arm to
Margaret. The poverty of the dining-room furni-
ture was out of the circle of the white spread table,
where the suspended lamp shone on fine silver and
glass. Flowers came constantly to Carbies from
London. Tonight red roses scented the room;
hothouse roses, blooming before their time, on
long thornless stems. Margaret drew a vase toward
her, exclaimed at the wealth of perfume.
" I only hope they won't make your headache
Anne tried to insist she had no headache. Peter
advised a glass of champagne. She began to tell
him something of her new-found panacea for all ills,
but ceased upon finding he was what she called a
" medical man," one of the enemies of their creed.
Before the dinner had passed the soup stage he
hardly made a pretence of listening to her. Both
men were absorbed in this regal Margaret. All her
graciousness was for Gabriel, but she found occasion
now and again for a smile and a word for Peter.
Poor Peter ! guest at this high feast where there was
no food for him. But he made the most of the ma-
terial provender, and proved fortunately to be an
excellent trencherman. Otherwise Margaret's good
cook had exerted herself in vain. For none of them
had appetite but Peter; Margaret because she
talked too much, and Gabriel because he could do
nothing but listen; Anne because she was feeling
the after-effects, and regretting she had yielded to
the temptation of the aspirin.
The men sat together but a short time after the
ladies left them. They had one subject in common
of which neither wished to speak. Gabriel smoked
only a cigarette, Peter praised the port, which hap-
pened to be exceptionally bad; the weather was a
topic that drew blank. Fortunately they struck upon
Pineland and its health-giving qualities, upon which
both were enthusiastic. Peter Kennedy was in
Gabriel's secret, but Gabriel had no intuition of
" Mrs. Capel seems to have derived great benefit
from her stay. Probably from your treatment also,"
he said courteously. His thoughts were so full of
her; how could he speak of anything else?
" I can't do much for her," Peter said gloomily.
He had had the greater part of a bottle of cham-
pagne, and the port on the top of it. " She doesn't
do a thing I tell her. She doesn't care whether I'm
dead or alive."
" I am sure you are wrong," Gabriel reassured
him earnestly. " She has, I am sure, the highest
possible opinion of your skill. She carries out your
regime as far as possible. You think she should
rest more ? "
" She should do nothing but rest."
"But with an active mind?"
" It is not only her mind that is active."
" You mean the piano-playing, writing ..."
" She ought just to vegetate. She has a weak
heart, one of the valves ..."
Gabriel rose hurriedly, it was not possible for him
to listen to a description of his beloved's physical ail-
ments. He was shocked with Peter for wishing to
tell him, genuinely shocked. It was a breach of
professional etiquette, of good manners. They
arrived upstairs in the music room completely out
" He wouldn't even listen when I told him how
seedy you were, that you ought to be kept quiet.
Selfish owl. You've been out with him all day."
" I rested for half an hour before dinner. Do I
look tired or washed out ? " She turned a radiant
face to Peter for investigation. " I am going to
play to you presently, when you will see if I am
"Power! Who said you were without that?
You'd have power over the devil tonight."
" Or over my eccentric physician." She smiled
at him. " Have you been behaving yourself prettily
downstairs ? "
" I haven't told him what I think of him, if that's
what you mean ! "
"Will you play first?" she asked him. Peter
Kennedy was a genuine music lover, and he played
well, very much better since Margaret Capel had
come to Pineland. He sang also, but this accom-
plishment Margaret would never let him display.
She had no use for a man's singing since James
Capel had lured her with his love songs.
Gabriel was talking to his sister whilst Margaret
and Peter had this little conversation. He was
persuading her to an early retreat.
" Did you send my telegram to Mrs. Roope ? I
am sure I am getting better, I have been thinking so
all the evening. She must have been treating me."
" I am sure, but are not the vibrations stronger
between you if you are alone, if there is nothing to
disturb your thoughts? ..." Even Gabriel
Stanton could be disingenuous when the occasion
demanded. She hesitated.
" Wouldn't Mrs. Capel be offended ? One owes
something to one's hostess. She has promised to
play. You told me she played beautifully. I do
think she is very sweet. But, Gabriel, have you
thought of the flat? I shouldn't like to give it up.
The gravel soil and air from the heath, and every-
thing. Isn't she . . . isn't she ..."
" A size too big for it ? " He finished her sen-
tence for her.
" Too grand, I meant."
" Yes, too grand. Of course she is too grand."
He turned to look at her. This time their eloquent
eyes met. She indicated the piano stool to Peter
Kennedy and came swiftly to the brother and sister.
" Has he made you comfortable ? " She adjusted
the pillows, and stole a glance at Gabriel. Whenever
she looked at him it seemed that his eyes were upon
her. They were extraordinarily conscious of each
other, acting a little because Anne and Peter were
there. Peter Kennedy, over on the music stool,
struck a chord or two, as if to lure her back.
" One can always listen better when one is com-
fortable," she said to Anne. Then went over to
the fender stool, where Gabriel joined her, after a
" Isn't it too hot for you ? " she asked him inno-
" It might have been," he answered, smiling,
" only the fire is out."
" Is it? " she turned to look. " I had not noticed
it. Hush ! He is going to play the Berceuse. You
haven't heard him before, have you ? He plays quite
So they sat there together whilst Peter Kennedy
played, and every now and then Anne said from the
" How delicious ! Thank you ever so much.
What was it ? I thought I knew the piece."
Peter got up from the piano before Gabriel and
Margaret had tired of sitting side by side on the
fender stool, or Anne of ejaculating her little com-
plimentary, grateful, or enquiring phrases.
" I suppose you've had enough of it," he said
abruptly to Margaret.
" No, I haven't. You could have gone on for
" I daresay."
Gabriel thought his manner singularly abrupt,
almost rude. This was only the second or third
time he had met Margaret's medical attendant, and
he was not at all favourably impressed by him. As
for Peter :
" Damned dry stick," he said to Margaret, when
he had persuaded her to the redemption of her
promise, and was leading her to the piano.
" What a boor you really are, notwithstanding
your playing," she answered calmly, adjusting the
candles, the height of the piano stool, looking out
some music. " I really thought you were going to
behave well tonight. And not a word about Chris-
tian Science," she chaffed him gently, " after all the
She too tried a few chords.
" I say, don't you play too long tonight. Don't
you go overdoing it." Her chaff made no impres-
sion upon him, he was used to it. But he was
struck by some alteration or intensification of her
brilliancy. How could he know the secret of it?
The love of which he was capable gave him no key
to the spell that was on those two tonight.
Anne slipped off to bed presently, at Gabriel's
whispered encouragement, and Margaret went on
playing to the two men. Peter commented some-
times, asked for this or the other, went over and
stood by her side, turning over the music, sat down
beside her now and again. Gabriel remained on the
corner of the sofa Anne had vacated, and listened.
Therefore it was Peter who caught her when she
fell forward with a little sigh or moan, Peter who
caught her up in his arms and strode over with her
to the sofa. Gabriel would have taken her from
him, but Peter issued impatient orders.
" Open the window, pull the blind up, let us have
as much air as possible. Ring for her maid, ring
like blazes ... she has only fainted. Within a
minute she was sitting up, radiantly white, but with
shadows round her pale mouth and deep under her
" It is nothing, it is only a touch of faintness.
Not an attack. Gabriel, you were not frightened ? "
she asked, and put out her hand to him.
Peter said something inarticulate and got up from
where he had been kneeling beside her.
" I'll get you some brandy."
" Shall I go? " Gabriel asked, but was holding her
" No, no. You stay. Dr. Kennedy knows where
Gabriel knelt beside her now.
" Were you frightened ? " she asked, still a little
" Love, lover, sweet, my heart was shaken with
" It is really nothing. We have had such a won-
derful day I was trying to play it all to you. Then
the glory spread, brightened, overwhelmed me ..."
" Hush ! he is coming back. You won't believe
anything he tells you ? "
" Not if you tell me you are not really ill? Oh!
my darling! I could not bear it if you were to
suffer. Let me get some one else ..."
Peter was back with the brandy, a measured dose,
he brushed Gabriel aside as if now at least he had
the mastery of the position. For all Gabriel's pre-
occupation with Margaret, Dr. Kennedy managed
to attract from him a wondering moment of atten-
tion. Need he have knelt to administer the draught ?
What was it he was murmuring ? Whatever it was
Margaret was unwilling to hear. She leaned back,
closing her eyes. When the maid came, torn reluc-
tantly from her supper, she was able, nevertheless, to
" Nothing of consequence, Stevens, not an attack.
I am going across to my bedroom. One of you will
lend me an arm," they were both in readiness, " or
both." She took an arm of one and an arm of the
other, smiled in both their faces. " What a way to
wind up our little evening ! You will have to forgive
me, entertain each other."
" I'll come in again and see you when you are
comfortable," the doctor said, a little defiantly,
" No, don't wait. Not on any account. Stevens
knows everything to do for me. Show Mr. Stan-
ton where the cigars are."
They were not in good humour when they left her.
" I don't smoke cigars," Gabriel said abruptly
when Dr. Kennedy made a feint of carrying out her
wishes. Peter shrugged his shoulders.
" She told me to find them for you."
" Has she had attacks like this before ? " Gabriel
asked, after a pause. Peter answered gloomily :
" And will again if she is allowed to overtire her-
self by driving for hours in the sun, and then
encouraged to sit through a long dinner, talking all
" She ought not to have played ? " Peter
Kennedy threw himself on to the sofa, desecrating
it, bringing an angry flush to Gabriel's brow. But
when he groaned and said :
" If one could only do anything for her! "
Gabriel forgave him in that instant. Gabriel had
lived all his life with an invalid. Attacks of hys-
teria and faintness had been his daily menu for
" But surely an attack of faintness is not very
unusual or alarming ? My sister often faints ..."
" She isn't Margaret Capel, is she ? "
" You . . . you knew Mrs. Capel before she
came to Carbies ? "
" No, I didn't. But I know her now, don't I ? "
Gabriel was silent. He had seen a great many
doctors too, before the Christian Scientists had
broken their influence, but such a one as this was
new to him. Margaret was so sacred and special
to him that he did not know what to think. But
Peter gave him little time for thinking. He fixed
a gloomy eye upon him and said :
" A man's a man, you know, although he's noth-
ing but a country practitioner." Gabriel was acutely
annoyed, a little shocked, most supremely uncom-
" But ought you to go on attending her ? " he got
" I shan't do her any harm, shall I, because I am
madly in love with her, because I could kiss the
ground she walks on, because I'd give my life for
hers and day?" Gabriel's face might have been
carved. " She treats me like a dog. ..."
Gabriel made a gesture of dissent, Margaret could
not treat any one like a dog.
" Oh, yes, she does, she says I'm not fit to wipe
the mud off your shoes. ..."
Then Margaret knew. He was a little stunned
and taken by surprise to think Margaret knew her
doctor was in love with her, knew and had kept him
in attendance. But of course she was right, every-
thing she did was right. She had not taken the
" I suppose I'd better go." Peter dropped his feet
to the ground, rose slowly. " She won't see me
again if she says she won't. She's got her bromide.
You might ring me up in the morning and tell me
how she is, if she wants me to come round. That's
not too much to ask, is it ? " he said savagely.
" Not at all," Gabriel answered coldly. " I
should of course do anything she wished." Peter
paused a moment at the door.
" I say, you're not going to try and put her off me,
are you? Just because I've let myself go to you? "
" I am not authorised to interfere in Mrs. Capel's
affairs." Gabriel was quite himself again and very
" But I understand you will be."
" I would rather not discuss the future with you."
" Then you do intend to try and out me ? "
Gabriel was suddenly a little sorry for him, he
looked so desperately miserable and anxious, and
after all he, Peter Kennedy, was leaving the house.
Gabriel was remaining, sleeping under the same roof.
" I will see her maid if possible. You shall be
called up if you are needed. Nothing but her well-
being, her own wish will be thought of ... Any-
way you shall have a report."
" As her doctor she trusts me. I can ease her
symptoms." It was almost a plea. " She need not
" Of course you will be sent for. They have your
telephone number? "
Peter held out his hand.
" Good-night. You're a good fellow. She is
quite right. I suppose I ought not to have told
you how it is with me . . . ? "
" It is of no consequence," Gabriel answered,
intending to be courteous.
SUNDAY morning the church bells were chiming
against the blue sky in the clear air. Both invalids
were better. The reports Gabriel received whilst
he sat over his solitary breakfast were to the effect
that Miss Stanton had slept well and was without
headache, she sent word also of her intention to go
to church if it were possible. Stevens herself told
him that Mrs. Capel would be coming down at
eleven o'clock or half -past, having had an excellent
night. He was not to stay in for her.
" Can you tell me how far off is the nearest
church ? "
Stevens was fully informed on the matter. There
were two almost within equal distance.
" Not more than a quarter of an hour to twenty
minutes away. The nearest is the 'ighest. ..."
Stevens was a typical English maid, secretly devoted
to her mistress, well up in her duties but with a
perpetual grievance or list of grievances. " Not
that I get there myself, not on Sunday mornings,
since I've been here."
Gabriel was sympathetic. Contempt, however,
was thrown upon his suggestion of the afternoon.
" Children's services and such-like, no thank
As for the evenings Stevens said " they was
mostly hymns." He detained her for a few minutes,
for was she not Margaret's confidential maid, com-
pensating her, too, for her lack of religious privi-
leges. He told her to tell her mistress he would walk
to church with his sister and then return, that he
looked forward to seeing her if she were really
better. Otherwise she was not to think of
" She'll get up right enough. I'm to have her
bath ready at 'alf-past ten."
When Anne came down he walked with her over
the commonland, bright with gorse and broom that
lay between Carbies and the higher of the two
churches, heard how Anne had lain awake and then
how she had slept, sure of the intervention of
Mrs. Roope. Her headache had completely disap-
" You did send that telegram, didn't you? "
Gabriel assured her that the telegram had been
" She must have started on me at once. She is a
good creature. I wish you were more sympathetic
to it. You've never once been with me to a meet-
" But I have not put anything in the way of your
" Oh, yes ! I know how good you are. Which
reminds me, Gabriel, about Mrs. Capel. We must
talk things over when we get home. You must
not do anything in a hurry. I heard about her
fainting away last night. It is not only that she
is a widow, and terribly delicate, her maid tells
me, but she takes no care of herself, none at all.
. . . What a rate you are walking at; I'm sure we
have plenty of time, the bells are still going. I can't
keep up with you." He slowed down. " As I was
saying, I shouldn't like you to be more particular
with her until we have talked things over together.
Of course as far as her delicacy is concerned, we
might persuade her to see Mrs. Roope."
" I have already asked Mrs. Capel if she will do
me the honour of becoming my wife," her brother
said in a tone she found curious, peculiar, not at
all like himself.
" Oh, dear ! how tiresome ! You really are so
impulsive. Of course I like her very much, very
much indeed, but there are so many things to be
thought of. How long has her husband been dead ?
You know she is more than half an American, she
told me so herself, and such strange things do hap-
pen with American husbands."
" Mrs. Capel divorced her husband ! " He spoke
quickly, abruptly, hurrying her on toward the
church, through the gate and up the path where a
little stream of people was already before them,
people carrying prayer-books, or holding by the
hand a stiffly dressed unwilling child; one or two
women with elderly husbands.
Anne gave a little subdued scream when Gabriel
told her that Mrs. Capel had divorced her husband,
a little gasp.
" Oh dear, oh dear ! " It was impossible to say
more under the circumstances, she could not make
a scene here.
" You will be able to find your way back all
right ? " he asked her. The bells were clashing now
almost above their heads, clashing slowly to the
" I'm sure I don't know whether I am standing
on my head or my heels."
" You will be all right when you are inside."
" I haven't even got my smelling-salts with me,
I promised to leave off carrying them." She was
almost crying with agitation.
" You will be all right," he said again. He waited
until she had gone through the door, the little bent
figure in its new coat and skirt and Victorian hat
tied under the chin. Then he was free to return
on swift feet to Carbies to await Margaret's coming.
He walked so swiftly that although it had taken
them twenty minutes to get there he was barely ten
in coming back. He hurried faster when he saw
there was a figure at the gate.
" It is too fine to be indoors this morning. I
am going down to the sea. I yearn for the sea this
morning. Go up to the house, will you? Fetch a
cushion or so. Then we can be luxurious." He
executed his commission quickly, and when he came
up to her again had not only a cushion but a rug
on his arm. She said quickly :
" What a wonderful morning ! Isn't it a God-
given morning? "
" All mornings are wonderful and God-given that
bring me to you," he answered little less soberly,
walking by her side. " Won't you lean a little on
me, take my arm ? "
"Do I look decrepit?" She laughed, walking
on light feet. Spring was everywhere, in the soft
air, and the throats of courting birds, in the breeze
and both their hearts. They went down to the sea
and he arranged the cushions against that very rock
behind which I had once sat and heard them talk.
She said now she must face the sea, the winds that
blew from it.
" Not too cold ? " he asked her.
" Not too anything. You may sit on the rug too,
there is a bit to spare for you. What book have
you in your pocket? "
" No book today. I carried Anne's prayer-book."
"'Science and Health'?"
She was full of merriment and laughter.
" No ; the ordinary Church Service. There was
nothing else available."
" Oh, yes, there was. I sent for a copy of Mrs.
" Of course I did. I had to make myself ac-
quainted with a subject on which I should be com-
pelled to talk."
" What a wonderful woman you are."
" Not at all. If she had been a South Sea
Islander I'd have welcomed her with shells or beads.
Tell me, have I made a success? Will she give her
consent ? "
" Have you given yours, have you really given
yours ? You have never said so in so many words."
" Well, the implication must have been fairly
obvious." The eyes she turned on him were full
of happy laughter, almost girlish. Since yesterday
she had had this new strange bloom of youth.
" Don't tell me your sister has not guessed."
" I told her."
" You told her ! Well ! I never ! as Stevens
would say. And you were pretending not to
" I only said you had never put it into words.
Say it now, Margaret, out here, this wonderful
"What am I to say?"
" Put your little hand in mine, your sweet flower
of a hand." He took it.
" Not a flower, a weed. See how brown they
have got since I've been here." He kissed the weed
or flower of her hand.
" Say, ' Gabriel, you shall be my husband. I will
marry you the very first day I am free ! ' Her
brows knitted, she took her hand away a little
" I am free. Why do you remind me ? "
" Say, ' I will marry you on the last day in May,
in six weeks from today.' "
" May marriages are unlucky."
" Ours could not be."
" Oh, yes ! it could. I am a woman of moods."
" Every one more lovely than the last."
" Impatient and irritable."
" You shall have no time to be impatient. Any-
thing you want I will rush to obtain for you. If
you are irritable I will soothe you."
" And then I want hours to myself."
" I'll wait outside your door, on the mat, to
keep interruptions from you."
" I want to write ... to play the piano, to rest
a great deal."
" Give me your odd half-hours." She gave him
back her hand instead.
"Let's pretend. We are to sail away into the
unknown; to be happy ever afterwards. Where
shall we go, Gabriel ? Can we have a yacht ? "
" I am not rich."
"Pretend you are. Where shall we go? To
Greece, where every stone is hallowed ground to
you. All the white new buildings shall be blotted
out and you may turn your back on the
museum . . ."
" I shall only want to look at you."
" No, on rocks and the blue ./Egean Sea. No, we
won't go to Greece at all. You will be so learned,
know so much more than I about everything. I
shall feel small, insignificant."
" Never. Bigger than the Pantheon."
" We will go to Sicily instead, go down among
" I bar the tombs."
" Contradicting me already. How dare you,
So the time passed in happy fooling, but often
their hands met, the under-currents between them
ran swift and strong, deep too. Then it was time
for lunch. It was Margaret who suggested they
would be in time to meet Anne, walk up to the
house with her. Nothing had been said about Dr.
Kennedy. Gabriel had meant to broach the subject,
only touch it lightly, suggest if she still needed
medical attendance some one older, less interested
might perhaps be advisable.
But he never did broach the subject, it had been
impossible on such a morning as this, she in such a
mood, he in such accord with her. Anne, when they
met her, dashed them both a little. She twittered
away about the service and the sermon, but it was
nervous and disjointed twitter, and her eyes were
red. She responded awkwardly to all Margaret's
kind speeches, her enquiries after her headache;
she was even guilty of the heinous offence, heinous
in her own eyes when she remembered it afterwards,
of saying nothing of the other's faintness. Her
landmarks had been swept away, the ground yawned
under her feet. Divorce! She did not think she
could live in the house with a divorced person. She
knew that some clergymen would not even marry
divorced people, nor give them the sacrament. She
was miserably distressed, and longing to be at home.
She felt she was assisting at something indecorous,
if not worse; she thought she ought not to have
waited for the sermon, she ought not to have left
them so long alone together. All her mingled emo-
tions made her feel ill again. She told Gabriel
crossly that he was walking too fast.
" Perhaps Mrs. Capel likes fast walking? Don't
mind me if you do," she said to Margaret, " I
can manage by myself."
When they had adapted their pace to hers she
was little better satisfied; querulous, and as Mar-
garet had pictured her before they met. Luncheon
was a miserable meal, or would have been but that
nothing could have really damped the spirits of
these other two. First Anne found herself in a
draught, and then too hot. She never eat eggs, and
explained about her digestion, the asparagus tops
could not tempt her. A lobster mayonnaise was a
fresh offence or disappointment. And she could
not disguise her disapproval. After all she prided
herself she did know something about housekeep-
" I never give Gabriel eggs except for break-
" I do hope I have not upset your liver." Mar-
garet's eyes were full of laughter when she ques-
" In my young days, in my papa's house, nor for
the matter of that in my uncle's either, did we ever
have lobster salad except for a supper dish."
Gabriel suggested gently that the whole art of
eating had altered in England.
" Cod and egg sauce," put in Margaret.
" Nectar and ambrosia."
" We never gave either of them," said poor hun-
Fortunately a spatchcock with mushrooms was
produced, and the mousse of jambon, although it
seemed " odd," was very light.
" Why didn't I have boiled mutton and rice pud-
ding?" Margaret lamented in an aside to Gabriel
when the omelette au rhum was most decisively de-
clined. Cream cheese and gingerbread proved the
last straw. Anne admitted it made her feel ill to
see the others eat these in combination.
" I should like to get back to town as early as
possible this afternoon," she said. " I am sure I
don't know what has come over me, I felt well be-
fore I came. The place cannot agree with me. I
hope you don't think me very rude, but if we can
have a fly for the first train . . ."
Gabriel was full of consternation and remon-
strated with her. Margaret whispered to him it was
better so. Nothing was to be gained by detaining
her against her will.
" We have next week . . ."
" All the weeks," he whispered back.
Margaret offered Stevens' services, but Anne
said she preferred to pack for herself, then she knew
just where everything was. The lovers had an
hour to themselves whilst she was engaged in this
congenial occupation. She reminded Gabriel that
he too must put his things together, and he agreed.
She thought this made matters safe.
" Stevens will do them for you," Margaret said
softly. He did not care how they were jumbled
in, or what left behind, so that he secured this
" Something has upset her, it was not only the
lunch," Margaret said sapiently. He did not wish
to enlighten her.
"Has she worried you, beloved one?"
" Not very much, not as much as she ought to
perhaps. I was selfish with her, left her too much
alone. I shall know better another time. But at least
we had yesterday afternoon, and this morning . . .
oh! and part of the evening, too. Did I frighten
you very much? " she asked him.
" Before I had time to be frightened you smiled,
something of your colour came back. Margaret,
that reminds me. Do you mind if I suggest to you
that if you were really seedy Dr. Kennedy is com-
paratively a young man . . ." She laughed.
" But look how devoted he is ! "
" That is why." He spoke a little gravely, and
she put her hand in his.
" Jealous ! " Her voice was very soft.
" The whole world loves you."
" I don't love the whole world." And when she
said this her voice was no longer only soft, it was
"Thank God!" He kissed her hand.
But returned to his text as a man will. " No,
I am not jealous. How could I be? You have
honoured me, dowered me beyond all other men.
But you are so precious, so supremely and unutter-
ably precious. Margaret, my heart is suddenly
shaken. Tell me again. You are not ill, not really
ill? When this trying time is over, when I can be
with you always . . ."
"How about those hours I want to myself?"
" When I can be within sound of you, taking care
of you all the time, you will be well then? " Now
she put a hand on his knee. " Your little fairy
hand ! " he exclaimed, capturing it.
" I want you to listen," she began. She did not
know or believe herself that she was seriously ill,
but remembered what Dr. Lansdowne had said and
shivered over it a little.
" Suppose I am really ill, that it is heart disease
with me as the German doctors and Lansdowne told
me? Not only heart weakness as the others
say, would you be afraid? Do you think I ought
not to ... to marry ? "
" My darling, it is impossible, your beautiful
vitality makes it impossible. But if it were true,
incredibly true, then all the more reason that we
should be married as quickly as possible. I must
snatch you up, carry you away." There was an in-
terlude. " You want petting . . ." He was a little
awkward at it nevertheless, inexperienced.
" Isn't there some great man you could see, and
who would reassure you, some specialist?"
" The Roopes ? " She laughed, and her short
fit of seriousness was over.
" I will find out who is the best man, the head
of the profession. No one but the best is good
enough for my Margaret. You will let me take
you to him? "
" Perhaps. When I come back to London ; if
I am not well by then."
" You like this place, don't you ? " he asked.
" You don't think it is the place ? "
" Pineland and Carbies? I am not sure. If I
had not taken it for three months I believe I'd go
back today or tomorrow. I ran away from you
. . . and social guns. I'm armed now." He
thanked her for that mutely. " Do you really love
this ill-fixed house?"
" How should I not ? But what does that mat-
ter? Leave it empty if it doesn't suit you. There
is Queen Anne's Gate."
" I know, but we should never be alone."
" Nothing matters but that you should be well,
happy. I'd take my vacation now, stay down, only
I want at least six weeks in June. I could not do
with less than six weeks." And this time the inter-
lude was longer, more silent. Margaret recovered
" About Peter Kennedy. He really suits me bet-
ter than any of the other doctors here. Lansdowne
is a soft-soapy grinning pessimist, with an all-con-
quering air. He tells you how ill you are as if it
doesn't matter since he has warned you, and will
come constantly to remind you. There is a Dr.
Lushington who, I believe, knows more than all
of them put together, but he is a delicate man him-
self, overburdened with children, and cramped with
small means. He gives me fresh heartache, I am
so sorry for him all the time he is with me. Lans-
downe and Lushington have each young partners
or assistants, straight from London hospitals, smell-
ing of iodoform, talking in abstruse medical or sur-
gical terms, nosing for operations, as dogs for truf-
fles. You don't want me to have any of these, do
" I want you to do what you please, now and
" Even if it pleases me that Peter Kennedy should
medicine and make love to me ? "
" Even that. Does he make love to you ? "
"What did he tell you?"
" That he adored you that you treated him like
" He gives me amyl, bromide. He was only a
country practitioner when I first knew him, with
a gift for music, but not for diagnosis."
" He has done more reading, medical reading,
since I have been here than in all his life before.
Treatises on the heart; all that have ever been
written. He is really studying, he intends to take a
higher degree. In music s too, I have given him an
Gabric/ was obviously, nevertheless, not quite
satisfied, started a tentative " but," and would per-
haps have enquired whether ultimately it would
he for Peter Kennedy's good that she had done so
much for him. Anne, however, intervened, coming
down dressed for the journey, very agitated at
finding the two together. She gave him no op-
portunity for further conversation, monopolising
the attention of the whole household, in searching
for something she had mislaid, which it was event-
ually decided had possibly been left in Hampstead !
Her conscience reproached her for her behaviour
over lunch, and she found the cup of tea which
Margaret pressed upon her before she left " de-
" I do so much like this Chinese tea, ever so
much better than the Indian. You remember, Ga-
briel, don't you, that rough tea we used to have
from Pounds? . . ." And she told a wholly ir-
relevant anecdote of rival grocers and their wares.
She betrayed altogether in the last ten minutes
an uneasy semi-consciousness that her visit had not
been a great success and talked quickly in belated
" You've been so kind to me. I am afraid I have
not responded as I ought. My silly headache, which
of course I never exactly had . . . you know what
I mean, don't you? And I did no credit to your
Margaret succeeded in assuring her that she
had behaved exactly as a guest should, whilst Ga-
briel stood by silently.
" I hope you will come again," she said, and Anne
replied nervously, noncommittal.
" That would be nice, wouldn't it ? But I am
always so busy, and now that I have my treatment
it is so much more difficult to get away . . ."
A kiss was avoided. Margaret went to the hall
door with them, but not to the station. Gabriel
had asked her not to do so.
" You ought to rest after yesterday."
" Yes, of course she ought to rest," Anne cho-
russed. There was a certain awkwardness in the
farewells, somewhat mitigated by the luggage that
occupied, so to speak, the foreground of the pic-
ture. As they drove away Anne nodded her head,
threw a kiss. But neither Margaret nor Gabriel
was conscious of her condescension, only of how
long it was from now until next Friday.
" I am glad that is over," Anne said complacently,
as the carriage turned through the gates. " It was
very trying, very trying indeed. In many ways
she is quite a nice person. But not suited to us,
in our quiet lives. Divorced too! I thought there
was something last night. So ... so overdressed
and peculiar. I am glad I came down before things
had gone any further . . ."
"Further than what?" Gabriel asked her, wak-
ing up, if a little slowly, to the position. " Mar-
garet and I are to be married in about a month's
time. You shall stay on in the flat if you wish. I
think I shall be able to arrange . . . Have you
thought about any one you would like to share it
with you? "
" Any one I should like ! Share it with me ? "
She was very shrill and he hushed her, although
there was no one to hear but the flyman, who
flicked at the trotting horse and wheezed indif-
ferently. They got to the station long before Anne
had taken in the fact that Gabriel was telling her his
intention, not asking her advice. In the train;
after they got home ; and for many weary days she
showed her unreasoning and ineffective opposition.
It was not worth recording, or would not be but
for the sympathetic interest taken by the Roopes,
when Anne, reluctantly and under pressure, gave
her brother's approaching marriage as a reason for
her own impaired health, and the failure of their
ministrations. Anne felt it her duty to tell them
this, and Mrs. Roope no less hers to make further
enquiries; the results being more far-reaching
than either of them could have anticipated. James
Capel was a relation of the Roopes and it was
natural they should be interested in the wife who
had so flagrantly divorced him.
Ten days after Anne's unlucky visit to Carbies,
Gabriel received a bewildering telegram. He had
been down once in the interval, but had found it
unnecessary to speak of Anne, her vagaries c?
vapours. He stayed at Carbies because once having
done so it seemed absurd that his room should re-
main empty. The very contrast between this visit
and the last accentuated its intimate charm. Anne
was not there, and Peter Kennedy's services not
being required, he had the good sense or taste to
keep away. Margaret, closely questioned, admitted
to having stayed a couple of days in bed, after the
last week-end, admitted to weakness, but not ill-
" I have always been like that ever since I was a
child. What is called, I believe, ' a little delicate.'
I get very easily over-tired. Then if I don't pull
up and recuperate with bed and Benger, I get an
attack of pain . . ."
"Of pain! My poor darling!"
" Unbearable. I mean 7 can't bear it. Gabriel,
don't you think you are doing a very foolish thing,
taking this half -broken life of mine? "
" If only the time were here! "
" Sometimes I think it will never come," she
sighed. " I am clairvoyante in a way. I don't see
myself in harbour."
" Only three weeks more, then you shall be as
clairvoyante as you like." He laughed happily,
holding her to him.
On this visit she seemed glad of his love, to de-
pend upon and need him. He always had that for
which to be glad. In truth that weakness of which
she spoke, and which was the cause, or perhaps the
effect, of two unmistakable heart attacks, had left
her in the mood for Gabriel Stanton, his serious
tenderness, and deep, almost overwhelming devo-
tion. She was a whimsical, strange little creature,
genius as she called herself, and for the moment had
ceased to act.
The weather changed, it rained almost continu-
ously from Saturday night until Monday morning.
They spent the time between the music room and
the uncongenial dining-room where they had their
meals. On the sofa, she lay practically in his arms,
she sheltered there. She had been frightened by
her own agitation and uncertainty; the attacks
that followed. And now believed that all she
needed was calm ; happy certainty ; Gabriel Stanton.
" Don't make me care for you too much," she
said on one of these days. " I want you to rest
me, not to get excited over you, to keep calm."
" I am here only for you to use. Think of me
as refuge, sanctuary, what you will."
" A sort of cathedral ? "
" You may laugh at me. I like you to laugh at
me. Why not as a cathedral, cool and restful ? "
" Cool and restful," she repeated. " Yes, you
are like that. But suppose I want to wander out-
side, restless creature that I am; suppose nothing
you do satisfies me ? "
" I'll do more."
"And after that?"
" Always more."
There were no scenes between them ; Gabriel was
not the man for scenes, he was deeply happy,
humbly happy, not knowing his own worth, much
more careful of her than any woman could have
been, and gentle beyond speech. Even in those days
she wondered how it would be with her if she were
well, robust, whether all these little cares would not
irritate her, whether this was indeed the lover for
her. There was something donnish and Oxonian
" I'm not sure I look upon you as a cathedral,
whether it isn't more as a college."
When he could not follow her he remained silent.
" Think of me any way you want so long as you
do think of me," he said, after a pause.
" I thought you would say that."
" Was it what you wanted me to say ? "
" I only want to hear you say you adore me.
You say it so nicely too."
" Do I ? I don't know what I have done to de-
" Just loved me," she said dreamily.
" Any man would do that."
" Not in the same way."
" As long as my way pleases you I am the most
fortunate of men."
" Even if I never wrote another line? "
"As if it mattered which way you express your-
self, by writing or simply living."
" Such love is enervating. Are you not ambitious
" You've done enough."
" I am capable of doing much better work."
" You are capable of anything."
" Except of that book on Staffordshire Pottery."
" That was only to have been a stop-gap. You
replaced that with me, darling that you are ! "
"What will Sir George say when he knows?"
" He will say ' Lucky fellow ' and envy me. Mar-
garet, about how we shall live, and where ? "
He told her again he was not rich. There was
Anne, a certain portion of his income must be put
aside for Anne.
" You are quite rich enough. For the matter of
that I have still my marriage settlement. Father
would give me more if we needed it. James had
thousands from him."
Then they both coloured, she in shame that this
ineffable James had ever called her wife. He, be-
cause the idea that any of her comforts or luxuries
should emanate from her father or from any one
but himself was repellent to him. He would have
talked ways and means, considered the advantages
of house or flat, spoken of furniture, but that at
first she was wayward and said it was unlucky to
" count chickens before they were boiled, or was it
a watched pot ? " She would only banter and say
things that were without meaning or for which he
could not find the meaning. Presumably, however,
she allowed him to lead her back to the subject.
" I have in my mind sometimes a little old house
in Westminster, built in the seventeenth or eight-
eenth century, with panelled walls and uneven floors.
And hunting for furniture in old curiosity shops.
It mustn't be earlier than the eighteenth century, by
the way. Not too early in that; or my Stafford-
shire won't look well. In the living-room with the
eighteenth-century chintz I see all little rosebuds
and green leaves. A few colour prints on the
Gabriel had spoken of his collection of old prints.
He said he would set about looking for the house
at once. He told her there were a few such still
standing, they were snapped up so eagerly.
Soon, quite excitedly they were both planning,
talking of old oak, James I. silver, William and
Mary walnut. Of all their happy hours this I think
was the happiest they ever spent. Their tastes were
so congenial, Gabriel's knowledge so far beyond
her own; the home they would build so essentially
suited to them. There Margaret would write and
play, hold something of a salon. He would see that
all her surroundings were appropriate, dignified,
congenial. She would be the centre of an ascend-
ing chorus of admiration. He would, as it were,
conduct the band. With adoring eyes he would
watch her effects, temper this or straighten that,
setting the stage and noting the audience ; all for her
When they parted on that Sunday night they
could scarcely tear themselves asunder. Three
weeks seemed so long, so desperately long. Mar-
garet, woman of moods, suddenly launched at him
that they would have no honeymoon at all. He was
to look for the house at once, to find it without
" Then I'll come up and confirm ; set the painters
to work, begin to look for things."
Gabriel pleaded for his honeymoon.
" But it will all be honeymoon."
"I want you all to myself; for at least a little
time. I won't be selfish, but for a little while, just
you and I ..."
He must have pleaded well, for though she made
him no promise in words he knew she had an-
swered " yes " by her eyes downcast, and breath
that came a little quicker, by the clinging hands,
by finding her in his arms, her undenying lips.
ON Monday morning he went up to town with-
out seeing her again. Tuesday he got that fateful
Stevens seen man hanging about house, shabby
peering man. Questioned cook. Sick with fear.
Send back all my letters at once by special messen-
ger. In panic. On no account come down or near
me but letters urgent.
Stevens had told her in the evening whilst put-
ting her to bed. Stevens knew all about the case
and was alert for possible complications. The
shabby man had been under the observation of
cook and housemaid.
" And much satisfaction he got out of what they
told him. Askin' questions an' peerin' about ! Cook
told him off, said no one hadn't been stayin' here,
an' if they had 'twas no business of his."
Margaret, pale and stricken, asked if the man
looked like . . . like a detective.
" Lawyer's clerk more like, but I thought I'd
best let you know."
The news would have kept until the morning, but
one could not expect a servant to take into con-
sideration the effect her stories might have on Mar-
garet's sensitiveness. She had no sleep at all.
Sleepless and shaken she lay awake the whole night,
conjuring up ghosts, chiefly the ghost or vision of
James, coarse-mouthed, cruel, vindictive. The bare
idea of the case being reopened made her shudder,
she had been so tormented in court, her modesties
outraged. She knew she could never, would never
bear it again. If the dreadful choice were all that
was left to her she would give up Gabriel. At the
thought of giving up Gabriel it seemed there was
nothing else for which she cared, nothing on
She conjured up not only ghosts but absurdities.
The shabby peering man would go to Hampstead,
question Gabriel's silly sister, be shown letters.
This was more than she could bear. On the last
occasion letters of hers had been read in court ; love
letters to James! She cringed in her bed at the
remembrance of them. And what had she written
to Gabriel? Not one word came back to her of
anything she had written. At first she knew they
had been laboured letters, laboured or literary. But
since she had been down here, and Peter Kennedy,
by sheer force of contrast, had taught her how much
she could care for a really good and clever man,
she had written with entire unrestraint, freely.
She wrote that telegram to Gabriel Stanton at
four o'clock in the morning, going down to the
drawing-room for a telegram form in dressing-
gown and slippers, her hair in two plaits, shivering
with cold and apprehension. The house was full
of eerie sounds; she heard pursuing feet. After
she had secured the forms she rushed for the shelter
of her room and the warmth of her bed ; cowering
under the clothes, not able for a long time to do
the task she had set herself. When she became
sufficiently rested she took more time and care over
the wording of her telegram to Gabriel than she
might have done over a sonnet. She wanted to say
just enough, not too much, not to bring him down,
yet to make the matter urgent. Stevens was rung
for at six o'clock for tea and perhaps sympathy.
" Get me a cup of tea as quickly as you can, I've
been awake the whole night. I want this telegram
sent off as soon as the office opens, not later anyway
than eight o'clock. Keep the house as quiet as you
can. I shall try and sleep now."
She slept until Gabriel's telegram came back.
One of our own men coming with package by
She met the train, looking pale and wretched.
Stanton's man wore the familiar cap. She had been
to the office two or three times about the pottery
book, and he recognised her easily.
" You have a parcel for me ? "
" Mr. Gabriel said I was to tell you there was a
"A letter! But I thought ... oh, yes! Give
it to me."
" And I was to ask if there was an answer."
" An answer, but I can't write here ! "
" He didn't know you was meeting me. ' Go
up to the house,' he said ; ' give it to her in her own
hands. Ask if there is any answer.''
"Tell him . . . tell him I'll write," she said
But as yet she had not read. What would he say,
what comfort send her ? For all her wired definite-
ness she wished he had come himself, had a mo-
ment's disloyalty to him, thought he should have
disregarded her wishes, rushed down, even if they
had met only at the station. He need not have been
She could not let the man go back until she had
read and answered Gabriel's letter. She made him
drive back with her to Carbies, seated on the box
beside the driver. She held the precious package
tight, but did not open it. For that she must be
Stanton's man was handed over to the house-
hold's care for lunch or tea. He was to go back by
the 5.5. " Mr. Gabriel " had given him his in-
Now she was at her writing-table and alone.
The packet was sealed with sealing-wax. Inside
there were all her own letters, and a closed en-
velope superscribed in the dear familiar hand-
writing. She tore it open. After she had read
her lover's letter she had no more reproaches for
him, vague or otherwise.
My Own, my Beloved:
Here are the letters. I could refuse you nothing,
but to part from these has overwhelmed me, weak-
ened me. I have turned coward. For it is all so
unknown. I am in the dark, bewildered. Your
wire was an awful shock. I am haunted with
terror, the harder to bear because it came in the
midst of all the sweet sacred thoughts and re-
membrances of a wonderful week-end, of the things
3 r ou said or allowed me to say which filled me with
high hopes, promise of joy and happiness I dared
hardly dwell upon. I don't know what has hap-
pened. I only know you must not be alone and
have forbidden me to come to you. Rescind your
decision, I implore you. As I think and think with
restless brain and heart my great ache and anxiety
are that you are in trouble and that I am away and
useless, just when I would give my soul for the
chance of standing by you and with you in any
need and for always. By all the remembrance of
our happy hours, by all the new and sweet happi-
ness you have given me, by all I yearn for in the
future give me this chance. Let me come to you.
To think of you suffering alone is maddening.
Trust me, give me your trust, solemnly I swear not
to fail you whatever may happen. It is of you
only I am thinking. I can be strong for you, wise
for you, and should thank God, both in pride and
humbleness, for the chance to serve you; to serve
you with reverence and love. Send for me. Tell
me let me share all and always.
She sat a long time with the letter in her hand,
read it again and yet again. She forgot the night
terrors, began to question herself. Of what had she
been so frightened? What had Stevens told her?
Only that a shabby man had questioned cook about
their visitors. Now she wanted to analyse and
sift the trouble, get to bedrock with it. She rang
the bell and sent for the maids. They had singu-
larly little to tell her ; summarised it came to this :
A shabby man had hung about Carbies all Mon-
day; cook had called him up to the back door
and asked him what he was after " No good, I'll
be bound," she told him. He had paid her
a compliment and said that " with her in the
kitchen it was no wonder men 'ung about."
And after that they seemed to have had some-
thing of a colloquy and cook had been asked
if she walked out with anybody. " Like his nasty
impidence," she commented, when telling the story
to her mistress. " I up and told him whether I
walked out with anybody or not I wasn't for the
likes of him."
It was not without question and cross-question
Margaret elicited that this final snub was not given
until after tea. Cook defended the invitation.
" It's 'ard if in an establishment like this you
can't offer a young man a cup of tea." She com-
plained, not without waking a sympathetic echo in
Margaret's own heart, that Pineland was that dull,
not a bit o' life in it. Married men came round
with the carts and a girl delivered the milk.
" 'E was pleasant company enough till 'e started
Then it appeared it was Stevens who " gave him
as good as he gave," asking him what it was he did
want to know, and being satirical with him. The
housemaid had chimed in with Stevens; there may
have been some little feminine jealousy at the back
of it. Cook was young and frivolous, the two
others more sedate. Stevens and the housemaid
must have set upon cook and her presumed admirer.
In any case the young man was given his conge
immediately after tea, before he had established a
footing. Stevens' report had been exaggerated,
Margaret's terror excessive and unreasonable. She
dismissed the erring cook now with the mildest of
rebukes, then set herself to write to Gabriel. The
time was limited, since the man was returning by
the 5.5. She heard later, by the way, that he quite
replaced the stranger in the cook's facile affections.
Stevens again was responsible for the statement that
cook was " that light and talked away to any man."
Contrasting with herself, Stevens, who " didn't
'old with making herself cheap."
Margaret wrote slowly, even if it were only a
letter. She had to recall her mood, to analyse the
panic. She was quite calm now. His letter seemed
exaggerated beyond what the occasion or the tele-
How good you are, and safe. Your letter calmed
and comforted me. Panic ! no other word describes
my condition at four o'clock this morning after a
sleepless night. Servants' gossip was at the bot-
tom of it. I have always wished for a dumb maid,
but Stevens' tongue is hung on vibrating wires,
never still. There was a man, it seems now he was
a suitor of cook's! He did ask questions, but
chiefly as to her hours off duty, whether she was
already " walking out," an expression for an en-
gagement on probation, I understand. He was an
aspirant. I cannot write you a proper letter, my
bad night has turned me into a wreck, a " beautiful
ruin " as you would say. No, you wouldn't, you
are too polite. You must take it then that all is
well; except that your choice has fallen upon a
woman easily unnerved. Was I so foolish after
all? James is capable of any blackguardism, he
would hate that I should be happy with you. He
can no longer excuse his conduct to me, or my re-
sentment of it on the plea that I am unlike other
women. I know his mind so well ! " Women of
genius have no sex," he said among other things
to account for the failure of our married life. He
can say so no longer. " Women of genius have
no sex ! " It isn't true. Do you see me reddening
as I write it? What about that little house in
Westminster ? Have you written to all the agents ?
Are you searching? Sunday night I was so happy.
One large room there must be. Colour prints on
the walls and chintz on the big sofas, my Stafford-
shire everywhere, a shrine somewhere, central place
for the musicians; cushions of all shades of roses,
some a pale green. I can't see the carpets or cur-
tains yet. I incline to dark green for both. No,
I am not frivolous, only emotional. I think I shall
alter when we are together, begin to develop and
grow uniform in the hothouse of your love, under
the forcing glass of your great regard. It is into
that house, under that glass I want to creep, to be
warmed through, to blossom.
Picture me then as no longer unhappy or dis-
tressed, although all day I have neither worked
nor played. Your letter healed me ; take thanks for
it therefore and come down Saturday as usual, with
a plan of the house that is to be. (By the way, I
must have dog stoves.) In a few days now I, or
you, will tell my father and stepmother. The days
crawl, each one emptier than the other, until the
one that brings you. A rivierdici.
She sent it, but not the old ones back. She
wanted to read them again, it would be an occupa-
tion for the evening. She would place them in
order, together with his answers. She saw a story
there. " The Love Tale of a Woman of Genius."
After all, both she and Gabriel were of sufficient
interest for the world to wish to read about them.
( It was not until a few days later, by the way, that
the title was altered, others tried, that the disin-
genuous diary began, the MS. started.)
She slept well that night and wrote him again in
the morning, the most passionate love-letter of any
of the series. Then she sent for Peter Kennedy.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday had to be got
through. And then another week, and one other.
And Safety, safety with Gabriel !
Peter came hot-foot like a starving animal. It
was five days since he had seen her, and he looked
worn and cadaverous. She gave him an intermit-
tent pulse to count, told him she had had a sleep-
less night, found herself restless, unnerved, told him
no more. He was purely professional at first,
brusquely uneasy about her, blaming her for all
she had done and left undone, the tonic she had
missed, the unrest to which she admitted. After
that they found little more to say to each other,
though Peter could not tear himself away.
She talked best to Peter through the piano, as he
to her. Even in these few weeks his playing had
enormously improved. The whole man had altered.
She had had more and different effect upon him
than would have seemed possible at first. He had
never been in love before, only known vulgar in-
trigue, how to repel the glad-eye attentions of pro-
vincial maidens to whom his size was an attraction,
and his stupidity no deterrent. This was some-
thing altogether different, and in a measure he had
grown to meet it, become more ambitious and less
demonstrative, perceptibly humbler. She knew he
loved her but made light of it. He filled up the
hours until Gabriel would come again. That was
all. But less amusingly now that she had less
difficulty in managing him. This mutual attrac-
tion of music slurred over many weak places in
Wednesday he sat through the afternoon, stayed
on to dinner playing to her and listening. Thurs-
day he paid her a professional visit in the morning,
would have sounded her heart but that his stetho-
scope was unsteady, and he heard his own heart-
beats louder and more definitely than hers. Thurs-
day evening he ran up on his bicycle to see if she
was all right. There was more music, and for all
his newly found self-restraint a scene at parting, a
scene that troubled her because she could not hold
herself guiltless in bringing it about, and Gabriel
was in her mind now to the exclusion of any other
man. Gabriel had won solidly that which at first
was little more than an incitement, an inclina-
Gabriel Stanton would not have made love to an-
other man's fiancee. His standard was higher than
her own, just as his scholarship was deeper and
more profound. She was proud that he loved her,
simpler and more sincere than she had ever been
Tonight, when Peter Kennedy broke down, and
cried at her feet and told her that his days were
hell and all his nights sleepless, she was ashamed
and distressed, much more repelled than attracted.
She told him she would refuse to see him, that she
would not have him at the house at all if he could
not learn to behave himself.
" You are a disgrace to your profession," she
said crossly, knowing she was not blameless.
" You do not really think so, do you ? " he asked.
" I can't help being in love with you."
" Yes, I do. You have given me a pain."
When she said that and pressed both hands over
her heart his whole attitude changed. It was true
that under the influence of his love his skill had
developed. Her lips grew pale and her eyes fright-
ened. He made her lie down, loosened her dress,
gave her restoratives. The pain had been but slight,
and she recovered rapidly.
" It was entirely your fault," she said when she
was able to speak. " You know I can't bear any
agitation or excitement."
"The last you'll have through me, I swear it.
You can trust me."
" Until the first time the spirit moves you." She
never had considered his feelings and did not pause
to do so now. " You've no self-control. You dump
your ungainly love upon me . . ."
" And you throw it back in my face with both
hands, as if it were mud. But you'll never have
another chance, never . . ."
She was a little sorry for him, and to show it
reproached him more.
" Why do you do it, then ? You know that, as
far as I can be, I am engaged to Gabriel Stanton,
that the moment the decree is made absolute we shall
be married. Perhaps I ought not to have let you
come so often . . ."
" I fell in love with you the very first moment
I saw you. If I'd never seen you again it would
have been the same thing. And you've nothing to
reproach yourself with. You've made a different
man of me. I play better."
" And your taste in music has improved." He
looked so forlorn standing up and saying he played
the piano better since he had known her, that she
regretted the cruelty of her words. He had relieved
her pain not once but many times. Instead of
sending him away, as she had intended, she kept
him with her until quite late. She let him tell her
about himself ; and what a change his love for her
had brought into his life, and there was nothing
he would not do, nor sacrifice for her. He said,
humbly enough, that he knew she could never, never
have cared for such a man as himself.
" Stanton has been to a public school and uni-
versity, is no end of a swell at classics. I got what
little education I have at St. Paul's and the London
University, walked the hospitals and thought well
of myself for doing it, that I was coming up in the
world. My father was a country dentist. I've
studied more, learnt more since you've been here
than in all my student days. You've opened a new
world to me. I didn't know there were women
like you. After the girls I've met ! You were such
a ... lady, and all that. You are so clever too,
and satirical, I don't mind you being down on me.
It isn't as if you were strong."
She smiled and asked him whether her delicacy
was an additional charm.
" Well, yes, in a way it is. I can always bring
you round. I want you to go on letting me be your
doctor. You hardly had that pain a minute tonight.
It is angina, you know, genuine angina pectoris,
and I can do no end of things for it."
" You don't mean I must always have these
pains, that they will grow worse ? " She grew pale
and he saw he had made a mistake, hastening to re-
" You've only got to live quietly, take things
" Oh, that will be all right. When I am mar-
ried everything will be easy," she said almost
placently. And then in plaintive explanation or
apology added, " I bear pain so badly."
" And I may go on doctoring you? "
" I don't suppose I shall send to Pineland if I
should feel not quite well," she answered seriously.
" We are going to live in London."
" I'll come up to London. There is no difficulty
about that. I've started reading for my M.D. I
can get back to my old hospital." She rallied him
a little and then sent him away.
" I shall expect to hear you are house physician
when I return from my honeymoon ! "
" May I come up in the morning ? I want to
hear that attack has not recurred."
" The morning is a long way off, the night has
to be got through first." Suddenly she remembered
her panic and had a faint recrudescence of fear.
" I've so many things on my mind. I wish you
could ensure me a good night."
" But I can," he said eagerly. " I can easily."
" And without after-effects? "
" Without any bad after-effects."
" The bromide ! but it always makes me feel dull
" I am frightened of veronal."
" Adolin, paraldehyde, trional, a small injec-
tion of morphia ? "
" But it is so late. You would have to get any-
thing from a chemist."
" No, I shouldn't. I've got my case."
" Yes." He showed it to her, full of strange
little bottles and unknown drugs. She showed in-
terest, asking what was this or the other, then
changing her mind suddenly :
" No, I won't try any experiments. I'll sleep, or
I'll stay awake."
"You don't trust me?"
" Indeed I do, but I distrust drugs. Unless I am
in pain, then I would take anything. Tell me, can
you really always help me if I get into pain?
Would you ? At any risk ? "
" At any risk to myself, not at any risk to
you. But we won't talk of pain, it mustn't hap-
"But if it did?" she persisted.
" Don't fear, I couldn't see you in pain."
" Yet I've always heard and sometimes seen
how callous doctors are."
" But I'm not only a doctor . . ."
" Hush ! I thought we had agreed you were.
My very good and concerned doctor. Now you
really must go. Yes, you can come up in the
" You will take your bromide ? "
"If I need it. Good-night!"
Margaret slept well. But she heard from Stevens
again next morning over her toilette that cook was
not to be trusted, should be got rid of, that she
was deceitful, had been seen, after all, with the
shabby man from London.
" She took her oath that she'd never mentioned
you to him, you nor your visitors, only Dr. Ken-
nedy who attends you. But I'd not believe her
oath. A hat with feathers she had on, and a ring
on her ringer when she went out with him. Such
goings-on are not fit for a respectable Christian
house, and so I told her."
Margaret listened inattentively, and irritably.
She did not want ever to think again of that shabby
man or her own unreasoned fears. She bade the
maid be silent, attend to her duties. Stevens sniffed
and grumbled under her breath. Afterwards she
asked if the doctor were coming up again this
" He might want to sound you. You'd best have
your Valenciennes slip."
" Don't be so absurd."
Nevertheless the query set her thinking of Peter
Kennedy and his love for her. Desultory thinking
connects itself naturally with a leisurely toilette.
She was sorry for Peter and composed phrases for
him, comforting noncommittal phrases. She
thought it would do him good to get to London, his
ideas wanted expanding, his provincialisms brushed
off. She was under the impression she would do
great things for Peter one day, let him into her
circle; that salon she and Gabriel would hold. Her
father should consult him, she would help him to
build up a practice.
When he came up, later on, she told him some-
thing of her good intentions. They did not interest
him very much, it was not service he wanted from
her. He heard her night had been good, that she
felt rested and better this morning. He had not
been told what had disturbed the last one. They
were sitting together in the drawing-room, doctor
and patient, when the parlourmaid came in with
a card. Margaret looked at it and laughed, passed
it over to him.
" That's Anne," she said. " Anne evidently
thinks I am a hopeful subject."
The card bore the name of " Mrs. Roope, Chris-
" Stay and see her with me," she said to Peter.
" It will be almost like a consultation, won't it ?
.,' . . Yes," she told the parlourmaid, " I will see
the lady. Let her come up. Now, Peter Kennedy,
is opportunity to show your quality, your tact. I
expect to be amused, I want to be amused."
Peter was not loath to stay, whatever the excuse.
Mrs. Roope, tall, and dressed something like a
hospital nurse, in long flowing cloak and bonnet with
veil, was ushered in, but delayed a little in her
greeting, because that hysterical affection of the
throat of which Anne had spoken, caught and held
her, and at first she could only make uncanny
noises, something between a hiccough and a bad
" I've come to see you," she said not once but
several times without getting any further.
" Sit down," Margaret said good-naturedly.
" This is my doctor. I would suggest you ask him
to cure your affliction, only I understand you prefer
your own methods."
" There is nothing the matter with me," said the
Christian Scientist with an unavoidable contortion.
" So I see," said Margaret, her eyes sparkling
" I would prefer that this interview should take
place without witnesses."
Margaret found that a little surprising, but even
then she was not disturbed. There was no con-
nection in her mind between Anne Stanton's healer
and the shabby man who had wooed her cook.
" I have no secrets from this gentleman," she
answered, her eyes still laughing. " He has no
prejudice against you irregular practitioners. You
can decide together what is to be done for me. He
is my present physician."
" I had thought he was " bupp, bupp, explo-
sion " your co-respondent,"
When she said that Peter Kennedy looked up.
He tingled all over and his forehead flushed. He
made a step forward and then stood still. His
instinct told him here was an enemy, an enemy of
Margaret's. He looked, too, at Margaret.
" Your name is Gabriel Stanton."
" My name is Peter Kennedy."
Margaret's quick mind leapt to the truth, saw,
and foresaw what was coming. She turned very
pale, as if she had been struck. Peter Kennedy
moved nearer to her.
" Shall I turn her out? " he asked.
Mrs. Roope fanned herself with her bonnet
strings as if she had said nothing unusual.
" You had better see me alone," she said, not
menacingly but as if she had established her point.
To save repetition the rest of her conversation
can be recorded without the affliction that re-
" No," Margaret answered, her courage at low
ebb. " Stay where you are," she said to Peter
" You don't suppose I am going, do you ? " he
asked. Mrs. Roope, after a glance, ignored
" Perhaps you are not aware that you have been
under observation for some time. My call on you
is one of kindness, of kindness only. James Capel
is my husband's cousin."
At the name of James Capel Margaret gave a
little low cry and Peter Kennedy sat down by her
" We heard you were being visited by Gabriel
Stanton and a watch was set upon you. Your de-
cree is not yet made absolute. It never will be now,
if the King's Proctor is informed. James, I know,
does not wish for a divorce from you."
Margaret sat very still and speechless, any
movement, she knew, might bring on that sickening
pain. Peter too realised the position, although he
had so little to guide him.
" Answer her. Don't let her think you are afraid.
It's blackmail she's after. I am sure of it," he
whispered to his patient. Thus strengthened Mar-
garet made an effort for self-control. Peter saw
then that the fear was not as new to her as it was
" So it is you who have been having this house
watched ? Is it perhaps your husband who has been
making love to my cook ? " Since Peter Kennedy
was here she would not show the cold fear at her
heart. Mrs. Roope was not offended. She had
been kicked out of too many houses by irate
fathers, brothers, and husbands to be sensitive.
" No, that is not my husband. The gentleman
who has been here is my nephew. As for making
love to your cook, I will not admit it. I suggested
"If she had only sent her husband instead of
coming herself. One can talk to a man."
Peter might have been talking to himself. He
had risen and now was walking about the room on
soft-balled feet like a captive panther.
" You don't know our religion, our creed. We
have the true Christian spirit and desire to help
others. The sensual cannot be made the mouthpiece
of the spiritual. Sensuality palsies the right hand
and causes the left to let go its divine grasp. That
is why I interfere, for your own good as we are
enjoined. Uncleanliness must lead to the body's
hurt, in so far as it can be hurt. But mind and
matter being one, what hurts the one will hurt the
" You can cut the cackle and come to the horses,"
Peter interrupted rudely. He had summed up the
situation and thought he might control it. To him
it was obvious the woman was a common black-
mailer, although she had formulated no terms.
" You are making a great deal of the fact that Mr.
Stanton has been down here two or three times. I
suppose you know he is Mrs. Capel's publisher."
" Do not interfere, young man. You are a mem-
ber of a mendacious profession. I am not here to
speak to you. I know Gabriel Stanton slept in the
house," she said to Margaret.
"What then? Show us your foul mind, if you
" There is no mind . . ."
" Oh ! damn your jargon. What have you come
here for ? What do you want ? " He stopped
opposite to her in his restless walking. There shot
a gleam of avarice into her dull eye.
"Is he your mouthpiece?" she asked Margaret,
who nodded her assent. " I want nothing for my-
"For whom, then?"
" The labourer is worthy of his hire. . . . Our
Church . . ."
" You call it a church, do you ? And you are
short of cash. There are not enough silly women,
half-witted men. You want money . . ."
" For the promulgation of our tenets." She in-
terrupted. " Yes, we need money for that, for the
regeneration of the world."
" And to keep your own house going."
" Your insults do not touch me. I am uplifted
from them. Nothing touches the true believer."
Margaret called him over to her and whis-
" Find out whether James knows anything of this
or whether she is acting on her own; what she
really wants. I can't talk to her."
Mrs. Roope went on talking and spluttering out
" Cannot you see that Mrs. Capel is ill? " he said
The Christian Healer was quick to take the open-
ing he gave her.
" Sickness is a growth of error, springing from
man's ignorance of Christian Science."
"Oh! more rot rot rot, rot! Shut it! What
we want to know is if there is any one in this but
yourself. We don't admit a word of truth in your
allegations. They are lies, and we have no doubt
you know they are lies."
" Mrs. Capel will make her own deductions.
What have you to do with it, young man ? "
" I'll tell you what I have to do with it. I am
here to protect this lady."
" Mr. Capel and his lawyer will understand."
" That isn't what you came down here to say."
" I knew that I should be guided. I prayed about
it with my husband."
" A pretty sight ! ' The Blackmailers' Prayer ! '
How it must have stank to Heaven ! And this fel-
low here ? "
" My nephew. An honourable young man, one
of the believers."
" He would be. What's the proverb? Bon sang
ne pent pas mentir. Well, for the whole lot of you,
your prayerful husband, your honourable nephew,
and yourself ? "
" What is it you are asking me? "
" As you are here and not with James Capel it
is fair to presume you've got your price. Mrs. Capel
does not wish to argue or defend herself, she wants
to be left alone. You don't know anything because
there is nothing to know. But I daresay you could
make mischief. What are you asking to keep your
venomous mouth shut? There is no good beating
about the bush or talking Christian Science. Come
to the point. How much ? "
" A thousand pounds ! " They were both star-
tled, but Peter spoke first.
" That be damned for a tale." A most unedify-
ing dialogue ensued. Then Peter said, after a short
whispered colloquy with Margaret :
" She will give you a hundred pounds, no more
and no less. Come, close, or leave it alone. A
hundred pounds ! Take it or leave it."
Margaret would have interrupted. " I said
double," she whispered. He translated it quickly:
" Not a farthing more, she says. She has made
up her mind. Either that or clear out and do your
Sarah Roope stood out for her price until she
nearly exhausted his patience, would have ex-
hausted it but that Margaret, terrified, kept urging
and soothing him. Before the end Mrs. Roope
said a word that justified him and he put his two
hands on her shoulders. He made no point now of
her being a woman. There are times when a man's
brutality stands him in good stead, and this was
one of such occasions.
" Get out of that chair," he jerked it away from
her. " Out of her presence. You'll deal with me,
or not at all."
He slid his hands from her shoulders to under
her elbows : the noises she made in her throat were
indescribable, but her actual resistance was small.
" You are not to sit down in her presence."
" I prefer to stand."
" Nor stand either. Outside . . ." he bundled
her towards the door, she tried to hold her ground,
but he forced her along. " We've had nearly
enough of you, very nearly enough. You wait out-
side that door. I'll have a word with Mrs. Capel
and give you your last chance." She bup ped out
" I came here to do her a service. As Mrs. Eddy
writes : ' Light and darkness cannot mingle.' I
must do as I am guided, and I said from the first
we should go to James Capel. Husband and wife
should never separate if there is no Christian de-
mand for it."
"Oh! goto hell!"
He shut the door in her face and came back to
" You'd better let me get rid of her for you. I
shouldn't pay her a brass farthing."
" I'd pay her anything, anything, rather than go
through again what I went through before." She
burst into tears.
" Oh ! if that's the case . . ." he said indecisively.
" Pay her what she wants."
" I can get her down a good bit." He had no
definite idea but to stop her 'tears, carry out her
wishes. In a measure he acted cleverly, going
backward and forward between dining and drawing-
room negotiating terms. Mrs. Roope said she had
no wish to expose Mrs. Capel, and repeated, " I
came here to do her a kindness."
In the end two hundred and fifty pounds was
agreed upon, a hundred down and a hundred and
fifty when the decree was made absolute, this latter
represented by a post-dated cheque. Peter had to
write the cheques himself, it was as much as Mar-
garet could do to sign them. Her hands were shak-
ing and her eyelids red, the sight swept away all
" You've got to go to bed and stay there," he told
her when he came back to her finally. He forgot
everything but that she looked terribly ill and ex-
hausted, and that he was her physician. " You
need not have a minute's more anxiety. I know the
type. She has gone. She won't bother you again.
She's taken her hundred pounds. That's a lot to
the woman who makes her money by shillings.
That absent treatment business is a pound a week at
the outside. There's a limited number of fools who
pay for isolated visits. Did you see her boots?
They didn't look like affluence! and her cotton
gloves! She will have another hundred and fifty
if nothing comes out, if she keeps her mouth shut
until the 3Oth of May. You are quite safe. Don't
look so woebegone. I ... I can't bear it."
He turned his back to her.
"What will Gabriel say?"
" The most priggish thing he can think of," he
" He doesn't look at things in the same way you
" Do you think I don't know his superiority ? "
" Now you are angry, offended."
" You've done the right thing. You are not in
the health for any big annoyance."
She was holding her side with both hands.
" I believe the pain is coming on again."
" Oh ; no, it isn't." But he moved nearer to her.
No contradiction or denial warded off the attack.
She bore it badly too, pulse and colour evidencing
her collapse. Hurriedly and perhaps without suffi-
cient thought he rang for Stevens, called for hot
water, gave her her first injection of morphia.
Stevens knew or guessed what had been going on,
and took a gloomy view. Every one in the house
knew of Mrs. Roope's visit.
" It will be the death of her."
" No, it won't," he said savagely. " You do what
you are told."
" I 'ope I know my duty," she replied primly.
" I'm sure you do, but not the effect of a morphia
injection," he retorted.
He said Stevens knew nothing of the effect of a
morphia injection, but he was not quite sure of it
himself in those days and with such a patient. The
immediate effect was instantaneous. Margaret
grew easier, she smiled at him with her pale lips :
" How wonderful," she said. He made her
stay as she was for half an hour, then helped to
carry her to bed. Stevens said she required no
help in undressing her.
" You are not to let her do a thing for herself,
not to let her move. Give her iced milk, or milk
and soda. . . ."
The afternoon was not so satisfactory, there were
disquieting symptoms, and not the sleep for which
he hoped. He suggested Dr. Lansdowne, but she
would not hear of him being sent for. When night
fell he found it impossible to leave her.
He walked up and down outside the house for a
long time, only desisting when Margaret herself
sent down a message that she heard his footsteps
on the gravel and they disturbed her. The rest of
the night he spent on the drawing-room sofa, run-
ning upstairs to listen outside her bedroom door,
now and then, to reassure himself. Tomorrow he
knew Gabriel would be there and he would not be
needed. But tonight she had no one but himself.
Wild thoughts came to him in the dawn. What if
Gabriel Stanton were not such a good fellow after
all? What if he were put off by the thought of a
scandal and figuring as a co-respondent ? He, Peter,
would stick to her through thick and thin. She
might turn to him, get to care.
But he had not an ounce of real hope. He was
as humble as Gabriel by now, and the nearer to
being a true lover.
MARGARET was not a very good subject for morphia.
True it relieved her pain, set her mind at rest, or
deadened her nerve centres for the time. But when
the immediate effect wore off she was intolerably
restless, and although the bromide tided her over
the night, she drowsed through an exhausted morn-
ing and woke to sickness and misery, to depression
and a tendency towards tears. She was utterly
unable to see her lover, she felt she could not face
him, meet him, conceal or reveal what had hap-
pened. Dr. Kennedy came up and she told him
exactly how she felt. She told him also that
he must go to the station in her stead. She said she
was too broken, too ill.
This unnerved and weakened Margaret distracted
Peter, and he thought of every drug in the phar-
macopoeia in the way of a pick-me-up. He said
that of course he would go to the station, go any-
where, do anything she asked him. But, he added
gloomily, that he would probably blunder and make
" He would ever so much rather hear it from
you if it must be told him," he urged. " He'll
guess you are ill when you are not at the station.
He'll rush up here and see you and everything will
be all right. He has only got to see you."
Dr. Kennedy then begged her to go back to bed,
but without effect. Fortunately the only drug to
which he could ultimately persuade her was car-
bonate of soda! That and a strong cup of coffee
helped to revive her. Stevens had the qualities of
her defects and insisted later upon beef tea. Mar-
garet, although still looking ill, was really almost
normal when four o'clock came bringing Gabriel.
Her plan of Peter Kennedy meeting him mis-
carried, and she need not have feared his anxiety
when she was not at the station. Gabriel had caught
an earlier train than usual. Ever since Tuesday his
anxiety had been growing, notwithstanding her let-
ters and reassurances.
He was dismayed at seeing Dr. Kennedy's hat in
the hall. Little more so than Margaret was when
she heard the wheels of the car on the gravel and
learnt from Peter, at the window, that Gabriel was
in it. They were unprepared for each other when
he walked in. Yet if Peter had not been there all
might still have been well. It was Dr. Kennedy's
instinct to stand between her and trouble, and his
misfortune to stand between her and Gabriel
"You are ill?" and
" You are early? " came from each of them simul-
taneously. If the doctor had slipped out of the
room they would perhaps have found more to say.
But he stayed and joined in that short dialogue,
thinking he was meeting her wishes.
" She has had an attack of angina, a pretty hot
one at that. I gave her a morphia injection and it
did not suit her. She is simply not fit for any emo-
tion or excitement. As a matter of fact she ought
not to be out of bed today."
" Has my coming by an earlier train distressed
you ? " Gabriel asked Margaret, perhaps a little
coldly. Certainly not as he would have asked her
had they been 'alone. Nor were matters improved
when she answered faintly:
" Tell him, Peter."
Her lover wanted to hear nothing that Peter Ken-
nedy might tell him. He was startled when she used
his Christian name. He had a distaste at hearing
his fiancee's health discussed, a sensitiveness not un-
natural. From an older or more impersonal physi-
cian he might have minded it less ; or from one who
had not admitted to him, and gloried in the admis-
sion, that he was in love with his patient.
" I don't want to hear anything that Dr. Ken-
nedy can tell me," was what he said, but it mis-
represented his mind. It sounded sullen or ill-
tempered, but was neither, only an inarticulate evi-
dence of distress of mind.
" Surely, Margaret, your news can wait . . ."
This was added in a lower tone. But Margaret was
beyond, and Peter Kennedy impervious to hint.
The only thing that softened the situation to Ga-
briel was that she made room for him on the sofa,
by a gesture inviting him to seat himself there. Al-
most he pretended not to see it, he felt rigid and
uncompromising. Nevertheless, after a moment's
hesitation, he found himself beside her, listening to
Dr. Kennedy's unwelcome voice.
" You knew, didn't you, that there had been a
man hanging about the place, trying to get in-
formation from the servants ? Margaret first heard
of this last Tuesday. . . ." Gabriel missed the next
sentence. That the fellow should speak of her as
" Margaret " made him see red. When his vision
cleared Peter was still talking. There had been
some allusion to or description of cook's weakness,
and the discursiveness was a fresh offence.
" What she told him in her amorous moments
we have no means of knowing, but that it included
the information that you had stayed in the house
there is not much reason to doubt. And down came
this woman like a ton of bricks on Wednesday
morning and flung a bomb on us in the shape of a
demand for a thousand pounds."
' The man's employer. She had set him on
" This blackmailing person."
The " us " tightened Gabriel's thin lips and hard-
ened his deep-set eyes. Had they been alone he
might have remembered what Margaret must have
suffered, what a dreadful thing this visit must have
been to her. As it was, and for the moment, he
thought of nothing but of Peter Kennedy's inter-
" Why did you see her? " he asked Margaret.
" I thought she came from Anne," she faltered.
" From Anne ! "
" She is the Christian Science woman," Peter
And now indeed the full force of the blow struck
" Mrs. Roope ? " he got out.
" No other," Peter answered. " Crammed choke-
full of extracts from Mrs. Eddy. James Capel is
her husband's cousin. At least so she says. And
that he never wanted to be divorced from his wife,
and would welcome a chance of stopping the decree
from being made absolute. She said the higher
morality bade her go to him. ' Husband and wife
should never separate if there is no Christian de-
mand for it,' she quoted. But help toward the
Christian Science Church, or movement, she would
construe as ' a Christian demand.' She asked for
a thousand pounds! Mrs. Capel," this time for
some unknown reason he said " Mrs. Capel " and
Gabriel heard better, " was quite overwhelmed,
knocked to pieces by her impudence. That's when
I came on the scene. I told the woman what I
thought of her ; you may bet I didn't mince matters.
And then I offered her a hundred . . ."
Gabriel got up suddenly, abruptly, his face
" You . . . you offered her a hundred pounds ? "
" Well ! there was not a bit of good trying for
less. It was a round sum."
" You allowed Mrs. Capel to be blackmailed ! "
" What would you have done? Of course I did."
" It was disgraceful, indefensible."
" Gabriel." She called him by his name, she
wanted him to sit down by her, but he remained
standing. " There was no time to send for any
one, ask for advice . . ."
" It was a case of ' your money or your life/
The woman put a pistol to our heads. ' Pay up or
I'll take my tale to James Capel ' was the beginning
and end of what she said. I got her down finally
" You gave the woman, this infamous, black-
mailing person, 250? "
" And cheap enough too. Wait a bit. I can
guess what you are thinking. I'm not such a fool
as you take me for. She only had a hundred in
cash, the other is a post-dated cheque, not due until
the decree is made absolute. Then I ran her out
of the house."
"Who wrote those cheques?" The flush deep-
ened, Gabriel could hardly control his voice.
" I wrote them and Mrs. Capel signed them. She
was absolutely bowled over, it was as much as she
could do to sign her name."
Gabriel was beside himself or he would not have
spoken as he did.
" You did an infamous thing, sir, an infamous
thing. You should have guarded this lady, since I
was not here, sheltered her innocence. To allow
oneself to be blackmailed is an admission of guilt.
The way you sheltered her innocence was to advise
her practically to admit guilt." He was choked with
" Gabriel," she pleaded.
" My dear," never had he spoken to her in such
a way, he seemed hardly to remember she was
there, " I acquit you entirely. You did not know
what you were doing, could not be expected to
know. But this fellow, this blackguard . . ." He
actually advanced a step or two toward him,
threateningly. " Her good name was at stake, mine
as well as hers, was and is at stake."
" And I saved it for you, for both of you. I've
shut Mrs. Roope's mouth. You'll never hear a
word more . . ."
" Not hear more ? " Gabriel was deeply con-
temptuous. " Did you ever know a blackmailer
who was satisfied with the first blood? You have
opened the door wide to her exactions . . ."
" You are taking an entirely wrong view, you
are prejudiced. Because you don't like me you
blame me whether I am right or wrong."
" You don't know the difference between right
" I wasn't going to have my patient upset," he
" Gabriel, listen to me, hear me. Don't be so an-
gry with Peter. / wanted the woman paid to keep
quiet. I insisted upon her being paid." And then
under her breath she said, "There is such a little
" There is all our lives," Gabriel answered in that
deep outraged voice. " All our lives it will be a
stain that money was paid. As if we had some-
thing to conceal."
His point of view was not theirs, neither Peter's
nor Margaret's. They argued and protested, justi-
fying themselves and each other. But it seemed to
Gabriel there was no argument. When Margaret
pleaded he had to listen, to hold himself in hand,
to say as little as possible. Toward Peter Kennedy
he was irreconcilable. " A man ought to have
known," he said doggedly.
" He wanted to ward off an attack."
Dr. Kennedy went away ultimately, he had that
amount of sense. By this time he was at least as
antagonistic to Gabriel Stanton as Gabriel to
" Stiff-necked blighter ! He'd talk ethics if she
were dying. What does it matter whether it was
right or wrong? Anyway, I got rid of the woman
for her, set her mind at rest. I bet my way was as
good as any he'd have found ! Now I suppose he'll
argue her round until she looks upon me as the
villain of the play." In which, as the sequel shows,
he wronged his lady love. "Insufferable prig!"
And with that and a few more muttered epithets
he went off to endure a hideous few days, fearing
for her all the time, in the hands of such a man as
Gabriel Stanton, whom he deemed hard and self-
But he need not have feared. The two men
were poles apart in temperament, education, and
environment. Circumstances aided in making
them intolerant of each other. Their judgment
was biased. Margaret saw them both more clearly
than they saw each other. Her lover was the
stronger, finer man, had the higher standard. And
he was right, right this time, as always. Yet she
thought sympathetically of the other and the
weakness that led him to compromise. The Chris-
tian Scientist should not have been paid, she should
have been prosecuted. Margaret saw it now, she,
too, had not seen it at the moment. She confessed
herself a coward.
" But our happiness was at stake, our whole hap-
piness. In less than three weeks now . . ."
Now that they were alone Gabriel could show his
quality. The thing she had done was indefensible.
And he had hardly a hope that it would achieve its
object. He, himself, would not have done evil that
good might come of it, submitted, admitted . . .
the blood rushed to his face and he could not trust
himself even to think of what had practically been
admitted. But she had done it for love of him to
secure their happiness together. What man but
would be moved by such an admission, what lover ?
He could not hold out against her, nor continue to
express his doubts.
" Must we talk any more about it ? I can't bear
your reproaches. Gabriel, don't reproach me any
more." She was nestling in the shelter of his arms.
" You know why I did it. I wish you would be
" My darling, I wish I could be. It was not your
fault. I ought to have come down. You ought
not to have been left alone, or with an unscrupulous
person like this doctor."
" Peter acted according to his lights. He did it
for the best, he thought only of me."
" His lights are darkness, his best outrageous.
Never mind, I will not say another word, only you
must promise me faithfully, swear to me that if you
do hear any more of this woman, or of the circum-
stance, from this or any other quarter, you will do
nothing without consulting me, you will send for
me at once . . ."
Margaret promised, Margaret swore.
" I want to lean upon your strength. I have so
altered I don't know myself. Love has loosened,
weakened me. I am no longer as I was, proud, self-
reliant. Gabriel, don't let me be sorry that I love
you. I am startled by myself, by this new self.
What have you done to me? Is this what love
means weakness? "
When she said she needed to lean upon his
strength his heart ran like water to her. When
she pleaded to him for forgiveness because she had
allowed herself to be blackmailed rather than de-
lay their happiness together, his tenderness over-
flowed and flooded the rock of his logic, of his
clear judgment. His arms tightened about her.
" I ought to have come to you whether you said
yes or no. I knew you were in trouble."
" Not any longer." She nestled to him.
" God knows . . ."
He thrust aside his misgivings later and gave
himself up to soothing and nursing her. Peter
Kennedy need have had no fear, but then of course
this was a Gabriel Stanton he did not know.
Gabriel would not hear of Margaret coming
down to dinner nor into the drawing-room. She
was to stay on the sofa in the music room, to have
her dinner served to her there. He said he would
carve for her, not be ten minutes away.
" All this trouble has made me forget that I have
something to tell you. No, no ! Not now, not until
you have rested."
" I can't wait, I can't wait. Tell me now, at once.
But I know. I know by your face. It is about
our little house. You have seen a house our
" Not until after dinner. I must not tell you any-
thing until you have rested, had something to eat.
You have been too agitated. Dear love, you have
been through so much. Yes, I have seen the house
that seems to have been built for us. Don't urge
me to tell you now. This has been the first cloud
that has come between us. It will never happen
again. You will keep nothing from me."
" Haven't I promised ? Sworn ? "
" Sweetheart ! " And as he held her she whis-
" You will never be angry with me again ? "
" I was not angry with you. How could I be ? "
She smiled. She was quite happy again now, and
" It looked like anger."
" You focussed it wrongly," he answered.
After they had dined; she on her sofa from a
tray he supervised and sent up to her, he in solitary
state in the dining-room, hurrying through the food
that had no flavour to him in her absence: he told
her about the little house in Westminster that he
had seen, and that seemed to fit all their require-
ments. It was very early eighteenth-century, every
brick of it had been laid before Robert Adam and
his brother went to Portland Place, the walls were
panelled and the mantelpieces untouched. They
were of carved wood in the drawing-room, painted
alabaster in the library and bedrooms, marble in the
dining-room only. It was almost within the pre-
cincts of the Abbey and there was a tiny courtyard
or garden. Margaret immediately envisaged it tiled
and Dutch. Gabriel left it stone and defended his
opinion. There was a lead figure with the pretence
of a fountain.
" I could hardly believe my good luck when first
I saw the place. I saw you there at once. It was
just as you had described, as we had hoped for,
unique and perfect in its way, a real home. It needs
very careful furnishing, nothing must be large, nor
handsome, nor on an elaborate scale. I shall find
out the history, when it was built and for whom.
A clergy house, I think."
She was full of enthusiasm and pressed for de-
tail. Gabriel had to admit he did not know how it
was lit, nor if electric light had been installed. He
fancied not. Then there was the question of bath-
room. Here too there was a lapse in his memory.
But that there was space for one he was sure. There
was a powder room off the drawing-room.
" In a clergy house? "
" I am not sure it was a clergy house."
" Or that there is a powder room ! "
" It may have been meant for books.' Anyway,
there is one like it on the next floor."
"Where a bath could be put?"
" Yes, I think so. I am not sure. You will have
to see it yourself. Nurse yourself for a few days
and then come up."
" For a few days ! That is good. Why, I am
all right now, tonight. There, feel my pulse." She
put her hand in his and he held it; her hand, not
"Isn't it quite calm?"
" I don't know ... 7 am not."
" I shall go up with you on Monday morning, or
by the next train."
He argued with her, tried to dissuade her, said
she was still pale, fatigued. But the words had
no effect. She said that he was too careful of her,
and he replied that it was impossible.
" When a man has been given a treasure into his
keeping . . ." She hushed him.
They were very happy tonight. Gabriel may still
have had a misgiving. He knew money ought never
to have been paid as blackmail. That the trouble
should have come through Anne, Anne and her
mad religion, was more than painful to him. But
true to promise he said no further word. He had
Margaret's promise that if anything more was heard
he would be advised, sent for.
When he went back to the hotel that night he com-
forted himself with that, tried to think that nothing
further would be heard. Peter Kennedy's name
had not been mentioned again between them. He
meant to persuade her, use all his influence that she
should select another doctor. That would be for
another time. Tonight she needed only care.
He had taken no real alarm at her delicate looks,
he had lived all his life with an invalid. As for
Margaret, there were times when she was quite
well, in exuberant health and spirits. She was
under the spell of her nerves, excitable, she had the
artistic temperament in excelsis. So he thought,
and although he felt no uneasiness he was full of
consideration. Before he had left her tonight, at
ten o'clock for instance, and notwithstanding she
wished him to stay, he begged her to rest late in
the morning, said he would be quite content to sit
downstairs and await her coming, to read or only
sit still and think of her. She urged the complete-
ness of her recovery, but he persisted in treating
her as an invalid.
; ' You are an invalid tonight, my poor little in-
valid, you must go to bed early. Tomorrow you
are to be convalescent, and we will go down to the
2 8o TWILIGHT
sea, walk, or drive. I will wrap you up and take
care of you. Monday . . ."
" Monday I have quite decided to go up to town."
" We shall see how you are. I am not going to
allow you to take any risks."
Such a different Gabriel Stanton from the one
Peter Kennedy knew! One would have thought
there was not a hard spot in him. Margaret was
sure of it ... almost sure.
The morphia that had failed her last night put
out its latent power and helped her through this
one. The dreams that came to her were all pleasant,
tinged with romance, filled with brocade and
patches, with fair women and gallant men in pow-
der and knee-breeches. No man was more gallant
than hers. She saw Gabriel that night idealised,
as King's man and soldier, poet, lover, on the stairs
of that house of romance.
The next day was superb, spring merging into
summer, a soft breeze, blue sky flecked with white,
sea that fell on the shore with convoluted waves,
foam-edged, but without force. Everything in
Nature was fresh and renewed, not calm, but with a
bursting undergrowth, and one would have thought
Margaret had never been ill. She laughed and even
lilted into light song when Gabriel feared the
piano for her. Her eyes were filled with love and
laughter, and her skin seemed to have upon it a
new and childish bloom, lightly tinged with rose,
clear pale and exquisite. Today one would have
said she was more child than woman, and that life
had hardly touched her. Not touched to soil. Yet
beneath her lightness now and again Gabriel
glimpsed a shadow, or a silence, rare and quickly
passing. This he placed to his own failure of tem-
per yesterday, and set himself to assuage it. He
felt deeply that he was responsible for her happi-
ness. As she said, she had altered greatly since
they first met. In a way she had grown younger.
This was not her first passion, but it was her first
surrender. That there was an unknown in him,
an uncompromising rectitude, had as it were but-
tressed her love. She had pride in him now and
pride in her love for him. For the first and only
time in her life self was in the background. He
was her lover and was soon to be her husband.
Today they hardly held each other's hand, or kissed.
Margaret held herself lightly aloof from him and
his delicacy understood and responded. Their hour
was so near. There had been different vibrations
and uneasy moments between them, but now they
had grown steady in love.
Margaret went up to town with Gabriel on Mon-
day. She forgot all about Peter Kennedy eating
his heart out and wondering just how harsh and
dogmatic Gabriel Stanton was being with her.
They were going first to see the house.
" I must show it you myself."
" We must see it together first."
They were agreed about that. Afterwards Mar-
garet had decided to go alone to Queen Anne's
Gate and make full confession. She had wired, an-
nouncing herself for lunch, asking that they should
be alone. Then, later on in the day, Gabriel was
to see her father. In a fortnight they could be
married. Neither of them contemplated delay. The
marriage was to be of the quietest possible descrip-
tion. She no longer insisted upon the yacht. Ga-
briel should arrange their honeymoon. They were
not to go abroad at all, there were places in Eng-
land, historic, quite unknown to her where he meant
to take her. The main point was that they would
be together . . . alone.
The first part of the programme was carried
out. The house more than fulfilled expectations.
They found in it a thousand new and unexpected
beauties ; leaded windows and eaves with gargoyles,
a flagged path to the kitchen with grass growing
between the flags, a green patine on the Pan, which
Margaret declared was the central figure in her
group of musicians. Enlarged and piping solitary,
but the same figure; an almost miraculous coinci-
dence. A momentary fright she had lest it was all
too good to be true, lest some one had forestalled
them, would forestall them even as they stood here
talking, mentally placing print and pottery, car-
peting the irregular steps and slanting floors. That
was Gabriel's moment of triumph. He had been so
sure, he felt he knew her taste sufficiently that he
need not hesitate. The day he had seen the house
he had secured it. Nothing but formalities re-
mained to be concluded. She praised him for his
promptitude and he wore her praise proudly, as if
it had been the Victoria Cross. A spasm of doubt
may have crossed her mind as to whether her father
and stepmother would view it with the same eyes,
or would point out the lack of later-day luxuries or
necessities; light, baths, sanitation. Gabriel said
everything could be added, they had but to be care-
ful not to interfere with the main features of the
little place, not to disturb its amenities. Margaret
was insistent that nothing at all should be done.
" We don't want glaring electric light. We shall
use wax candles ..." He put her into a cab be-
fore the important matter was decided. Privately
he thought one bath at least was desirable, but he
found himself unable to argue with her. Not just
now, not at this minute when they came out of the
home they would make together. Such a home as
it would mean !
Mrs. Rysam was less reticent and Margaret per-
suadable, but that came later. Her father and
stepmother were alone to lunch as she had asked
them. And she broke her news without delay. She
was going to marry Gabriel Stanton. There fol-
lowed exclamation and surprise, but in the end a
real satisfaction. The house of Stanton was
a great one. More than a hundred years had gone
to its upbuilding. Sir George was the doyen of the
profession of publisher. He was the fifth of his line.
Gabriel, although a cousin, was his partner and
would be his successor. And he himself was a man
of mark. He had edited, or was editing the Union
Classics, and had contributed valuable matter to the
Compendium on which the whole strength of the
house had been employed for the last fifteen years,
and which had already Royal recognition in the
shape of the baronetcy conferred on the head of
"Of course it should have been given to Ga-
briel," Margaret said when she had explained or
reminded them of his position. Naturally she
thought this. They consoled her by predicting a
similar honour for him in the future. Margaret
said she did not care one way or the other. She
did not unbare her heart, but she gave them more
than a glimpse of it. That this time she was marry-
ing wisely and that happiness awaited her was suffi-
cient for them. Edgar B. looked forward to seeing
Gabriel and telling him so. He promised himself
that he would find a way of forwarding that happi-
ness he foresaw for her. Giving was his self-expres-
sion. Already before lunch was over he was think-
ing of settlements. Mrs. Rysam, a little disappointed
about the wedding, which Margaret insisted was to
be of the quietest description, was compensated by
talk about the house. Margaret might arrange, but
her stepmother made up her mind that she would
superintend the improvements. Then there were
clothes. However quiet the wedding might be a
trousseau was essential. From the time the divorce
had been decided upon until now Margaret had
had no heart for clothes. Her wardrobe was at the
lowest possible ebb. Father and stepmother agreed
she was to grudge herself nothing. And there was
no time to lose, this very afternoon they must start
purchasing, also installing workmen in The Close,
for so the little house was named. A tremendous
programme. Margaret of course must not go back to
Pineland, but must stay at Queen Anne's Gate for
the fortnight that was to elapse before the wedding.
Margaret demurred at this, but thought it best to
avoid argument. It was not that she had grown
fond of Pineland, or that Carbies suited her any
better than it did. But the atmosphere of Queen
Anne's Gate was not a romantic one, and her mood
was attuned to romance. Father and stepmother
were material. Mr. Rysam gave her a cheque for
five hundred pounds and told her to fit herself out
properly. Mrs. Rysam promised house linen. Mar-
garet could not but be grateful although the one
spoke too much and shrilly, and the other too little
and to the point.
"What is his income?" Edgar B. asked.
" That's what I've got to learn and see what's to
be added to it to make you really comfortable."
" We shall want so little, Gabriel doesn't care a
bit about money," Margaret put in hastily.
" I daresay not."
" And neither do I," she was quick to add.
Edgar B. with a twinkle in his eye suggested she
might not care for money but she liked what money
could buy. He was less original than most Ameri-
cans in his expressions, but unvaryingly true to type
in his outlook.
What an afternoon they had, Margaret and her
stepmother ! The big car took them to Westminster
and the West End and back again. They were mak-
ing appointments, purchasing wildly, discussing end-
lessly. Or so it seemed to Margaret, who, exhila-
rated at first, became conscious towards the end of
the day of nothing but an overmastering fatigue.
She had ordered several dozens of underwear, tea-
gowns, dressing-gowns, whitewash, a china bath,
and electric lights ! They appeared and disappeared
incongruously in her bewildered brain. She had
protected her panels, yet yielded to the necessity for
drains. Her head was in a whirl and Gabriel him-
self temporarily eclipsed. Her stepmother was in-
defatigable, the greater the rush the greater her
enjoyment. She would even have started furnishing
but that Margaret was firm in refusing to visit
either of the emporiums she suggested.
" Gabriel and I have our own ideas, we know
exactly what we want. The glib fluency of the
shopmen takes my breath away."
Mrs. Rysam urged their expert knowledge.
Whatever her private opinion of the house, its
size or position, she fell in easily with Margaret's
" You must not risk making any mistake.
Messrs. Rye & Gilgat or Maturin's, that place in
Albemarle Street, they all have experts who have
the periods at their fingers' ends. You've only got
to tell them the year, and they'll set to work and get
you chintzes and brocades and everything suitable
from a coal scuttle to a cabinet. . . ."
Margaret, however, although over-tired, was not
to be persuaded to put herself and her little house
unreservedly into any one's hands. She was not
capable of effort, only of resistance. Tea at Rum-
pelmayer's was an interregnum and not a rest.
More clothes became a nightmare, she begged to be
taken home, was alarmed when Mrs. Rysam offered
to go on alone, and begged her to desist. When the
car took them back to Queen Anne's Gate, Gabriel
had already left after a most satisfactory interview
with her father. Edgar B., seeing his daughter's
exhaustion and pallor, had the grace not to insist
on explaining the word " satisfactory." He in-
sisted instead that she should rest, sleep till dinner-
time. The inexhaustible stepmother heard that
Gabriel had been pleased with everything Mar-
garet's father had suggested. He would settle
house and furniture, make provision for the future.
Whatever was done for Margaret or her children
was to be done for her alone, he wanted nothing
but the dear privilege of caring for her. Edgar
appreciated his attitude and it did not make him
feel less liberal.
" And the house ? How about this house they've
seen in Westminster? Is it good enough? big
enough? He said it was a little house, but why so
" They are just dead set on it. Small or large
you won't get them to look at another. It's just
something out of the way and quaint, such as Mar-
garet would go crazy on. No bathroom, no drains,
but a paved courtyard and a lead figure ..."
" Well, well ! each man to his taste, and woman
too. She knows what she wants, that's one thing.
She made a mistake last time and it has cost her
eight years' suffering. She's made none this time
and everything has come right. He's a fine fellow,
this Gabriel Stanton, a white man all through. One
might have wished him a few years younger, he said
that himself. He's going on for forty."
" What's forty ! Margaret is twenty-eight, her-
" Well ! bless her, there's a lifetime of happiness
before her and I'll gild it."
" The drawing-room will take a grand piano."
" That's good."
" And I've settled to give her the house linen
" No place for a car, I suppose. In an out-of-the-
way place like that she'll need a car."
So they planned for her; having suffered in her
suffering and eclipse, and eager now to make up to
her for them, as indeed they had always been. Only
in the bitter past it proved difficult because her
sensitiveness had baffled them. It was that which
had kept her bound so long. All that could be done
had been done, to arrange a divorce via lawyers
through Edgar B/s cheque-book. But James Capel,
when it came to the end, proved that he cared less
for money than for limelight, and had defended the
suit recklessly with the help of an unscrupulous
attorney. The nightmare of the case was soon
over, but the shadow of it had darkened many of
their days. This wedding was really the end and
would put the coping stone on their content.
Neither Edgar B. nor his wife heard anything
of the attempt at blackmail. Gabriel, of course, did
not tell them. Margaret, strange as it may sound,
had forgotten all about it! Something had given
an impetus to her feeling for Gabriel : and now it
was at its flood tide. She had written once, " Men
do not love good women, they have a high opinion
of them." She would not have written it now, she
herself had found goodness lovable. Gabriel Stan-
ton was a better man than she had ever met. He
was totally unlike an American, and had scruples
even about making money.
Her father and he, discoursing one evening upon
commercial morality, she found that they spoke
different languages, and could arrive at no under-
standing. But she discovered in herself a linguistic
gift and so saw through her father's subtlety into
Gabriel's simplicity. She knew then that the man
who enthralled her was the type of which she had
read with interest, and written with enthusiasm,
but never before encountered. An English gentle-
man ! With this in her consciousness she could per-
mit herself to revel in all his other attractions, his
lean vigour and easy movements, shapely hands and
deep-set eyes under the thin straight brows. His
mouth was an inflexible line when his face was in
repose. When he smiled at her the asceticism
vanished. He smiled at her very often in these
strange full days. The days hurried past, there was
little time for private conversation, an orgy of buy-
ing held them.
Margaret, yielding to pressure and inclination,
stayed on and on until the week passed and the next
one was broken in upon. Now it was Tuesday and
there was only one more week. One more week!
Sometimes it seemed incredible. Always it seemed
as if the sun was shining and the light growing more
intense, blinding. She moved toward it unsteadily.
This semi-American atmosphere into which she and
her lover had become absorbed was an atmosphere
of hustle, kaleidoscopic, shifting.
"If they had only given me time to think I
should have known that the clothes and the house-
linen, the carpets and curtains, the piano and the
choice of a car, could all wait until we came back,
could wait even after that. But they tear along and
carry us after them in a whirlwind of tempestuous
good-nature," Margaret said ruefully in the five
minutes they secured together before dinner that
" You are doing too much, exhausting your
energy, using up your strength. And we have not
found time for even one prowl after old furniture
in our own way, that we spoke of at Carbies."
" They are spoiling the house with the talk
of preserving it. To-day Father told me it
was absolutely necessary the floors should be
" I know. And he wants the kitchen concreted.
Some wretched person with the lips of a day-
labourer and the soul of an iconoclast told him the
place was swarming with rats . . ."
" We wanted to hear mysterious noises behind
They were half -laughing, but there was an under-
current of seriousness in their complaining. They
and their house were caught in the torpedo-netting
of the parental Rysams' strong common sense.
Confronted and caught they had to admit there was
little glamour in rats and none at all in black beetles.
Still . . . concrete! To yield to it was weakness,
to deny it, folly.
" I have lost sight of logic and forgotten how to
argue. There is nothing for it but to run away
again. Gabriel, I have quite made up my mind.
Tomorrow, I am going back to Carbies. There
are things to settle up there, arrange. Stevens is
coming back with me, and we are going before
anybody is up. Every day I have said that I must
go, and each time Father and Mother have an-
swered breathlessly that it was impossible, inter-
posed the most cogent arguments. Now I am going
without telling them."
" I am sure there is nothing else to be done. And
stay until next week. Let me come down Satur-
day. We need quiet. I feel as if I had been in a
machine room the last few days."
" ' All day the wheels keep turning,' ' she
" Yes, that expresses it perfectly. Run away
and let me run after you. Saturday afternoon and
Sunday we will be on the beach, listen to the sea,
and forget the use of speech."
" The use and abuse of speech. I'll wear my
oldest clothes. No! I won't. You shall have a
treat. I really have some most exquisite things.
I'll take them all down ; change every hour or two,
give you a private view ..."
" You are lovely in everything you wear. You
need never trouble to change. Think what a
fatigue it will be. I want you to rest."
" How serious you are ! I was not in earnest,
not quite in earnest. But I can't wait to show you
a teagown, all lacy and transparent, made of chiffon
and mist . . ."
" I love you in grey."
She laughed :
" You have had no opportunity of loving me in
any other colour. Not indoors at least. But you
will. I could not have a one-coloured trousseau.
I've a wonderful beige walking-dress; one in blue
serge, lined with chiffon . . ."
" Tell me of your wedding-dress. Only a week
today . . ." Before she had told him her step-
mother bustled in, her arms full of parcels that
Margaret must unpack, investigate, try on imme-
diately after dinner, or before. Dinner could wait.
Margaret had already been tried on and tried on
until her head swam. She yielded again and Ga-
briel and her father waited for dinner.
Nothing was as they had planned it. So, al-
though they were too happy to complain, and too
grateful to resent what was being done for them,
the scheme that Margaret should return to Carbies
without again announcing her intention was hur-
riedly confirmed between them and carried out.
This time Margaret did not complain that the
place was remote, the garden desolate, the furni-
ture ill-sorted and ill-suited. She was glad to find
herself anchored as it were in a quiet back-water,
out of the hurly-burly, able to hear herself breathe.
Wednesday she spent in resting, dreaming. She
went to bed early.
Thursday found her at her writing-desk, sorting,
re-sorting, reading those early letters of hers, and
of his; recapturing a mood. She recognised that
in those early days she had not been quite genuine,
that her letters did not ring as true as his. She saw
there was a literary quality in them that detracted
from their value. Yet, taking herself seriously,
as always, and remembering the Brownings, she
put them all in orderly sequence, made attempts
at a title, in the event of their ever being published,
wrote up her disingenuous diary. All that day, all
Thursday and part of Friday, she rediscovered her
fine style, her gift "of phrase. The thing that held
her was her own wonderful and beautiful love
story. And it was of that she wrote. She knew
she would make her mark upon the literature of
the nineteenth century, had no doubt of it at all.
She had done much already. She rated highly her
three or four novels, her two plays. Unhappiness
had dulled her gift, but today she felt how won-
drously it would be revived. There are epigrams
among her MS. notes.
" All his life he had kept his emotions soldered
up in tin boxes, now he was surprised that they
were like little fish, compressed and without life."
This was tried in half a dozen ways but never
seemed to please her.
" Happiness, true happiness, holds the senses
in solution, it requires matrimony to diffuse
It seemed extraordinary now that she should
have found content in these futilities. But it was
nevertheless true. She came down to Carbies on
Wednesday and it was Friday before she even re-
membered Peter Kennedy's existence, and that it
would be only polite to let him know she was here,
greatly improved in health, on the eve of marriage.
Friday morning she telephoned for him. When he
came she was sitting at her writing-table, with that
inner radiance about her of which he spoke so
often, her soft lips in smiling curves, her eyes
Peter had known she was there, known it since
the hour she came. He had bad news for her and
would not hurry to tell her, not now, when she had
sent for him. In the presence of that radiance he
found it difficult to speak. He could not bear to
think it would be blurred or obscured. If the cruel-
lest of necessities had not impelled him he would
have kept silence for always.
" ARE you glad to see me ? "
" I am not sure," was an answer she under-
" I know you have been down here since Wednes-
" You knew it ! Then why didn't you come and
see me? You are very inattentive."
" I knew you would send if you wanted me."
Now he looked at her with surprised, almost grudg-
ing admiration. " Your change has agreed with
you ; you look thundering well."
' Thundering ! What an absurdly incongruous
word. Never mind, I always knew you were no
stylist. Yes, I am quite well, although from morn-
ing till night I did almost everything you told me
not to do. I was in a whirl of excitement, tiring
and overtiring myself all the time."
" I suppose I was wrong then. It seems you
need excitement." He spoke with less interest than
he usually gave to her, almost perfunctorily, but
she noticed no difference and went on :
"The fact is I have found the elixir of life.
There is such a thing, the old necromancers knew
more than we. The elixir is happiness."
" You have been so happy? "
She leaned back in her chair, her eyes sought not
him but the horizon. The window was open and
the air was scented with the coming summer, with
the fecund beauty of growing things.
" So happy," she repeated. " Incredibly happy.
And only on the threshold . . ." Then she looked
away from the sky and toward him, smiled.
" Peter, Peter Kennedy, you are not to be sour
nor gloomy, you are to be happy too, to rejoice
with me. You say you love me." He drew a long
" You will never know how much."
" Then be glad with me. My health has revived,
my youth has come back, my wasted devastated
youth. I am a girl again with this added glory of
womanhood. Am I hurting you? I don't want
to hurt you, I only want you to understand, I can
speak freely, for you always knew I was not for
you. Would you like me to be uncertain, delicate,
despondent? Surely not."
" I want you to be happy," he said unevenly.
" Add to it a little." She held out her hand to
him. " Stay and have tea with me. Afterwards
we will go up to the music room, I will give you a
last lesson. Have you been practising? Peter, are
you glad or sorry that we ever met ? I don't think I
have harmed you. You admit I roused your am-
bition, and surely your music has improved, not
only in execution, but your musical taste. Do you
remember the first time you played and sang to me ?
' Put Me Among the Girls ! ' was the name of the
masterpiece you rolled out. I put my fingers to my
ears, but afterwards you played without singing,
and you listened to me without fidgetting. Peter,
you won't play ' Put Me Among the Girls ' this
afternoon, will you? What will you play to me
when tea is over and we go upstairs? "
Peter Kennedy, with that strange uneasiness or
lambent agony in his eyes, eyes that all the time
avoided hers, answered:
" I shall play you Beethoven's ' Adieu.' '
" Poor Peter ! " she said softly.
She thought he was unhappy because he loved
and was losing her, because she was going to be
married next week and could not disguise that the
crown of life was coming to her. She was very
sweet to him all that afternoon, and sorry for him,
fed him with little cress sandwiches and pretty
speeches, spoke to him of his talents and pressed
him to practise assiduously, make himself master
of the classical musicians. She really thought she
was elevating him and was conscious of how well
' Then as to your profession, I am sure you
have a gift. No one who has ever attended me
has done me more good. I want you to take your
profession very, very seriously. If it is true that
you have the gift of healing and the gift of music,
and I think it is, you will not be unhappy, nor
And the poor fellow, who was really thinking
all that time of the bad news and how to break it,
listened to her, hearing only half she said. He did
not know how to break his news, that was the truth,
yet dared not leave it unbroken.
" When is Mr. Stanton coming down ? " he asked
" Why do you dwell upon it ? You have this
afternoon, make the best of the time. I should like
to think you were glad, not sorry we met."
He broke into crude and confused speech then
and told her all she had meant to him, what new
views of life she had given to him.
" You have been a perfect revelation to me. I
had not dreamed a woman could be so sweet . . ."
And then, stammeringly, he thanked her for every-
thing. He was a little overcome because he was
not sure this happiness of hers was going to last,
that it would not be almost immediately eclipsed.
He really did love her and in the best way, would
have secured her happiness at the expense of his
own, would have sacrificed everything he held dear
to save her from what he feared was inevitable.
He was miserably undecided, and could not throw
off his depression. Not, as Margaret thought, be-
cause of his jealousy of Gabriel and ungratified
love, but because he feared the wedding might never
take place. He eat a great many hot cakes and
sandwiches, drank two cups of tea. Afterwards
in the music room he played Beethoven, and listened
when she replied with Chopin. Or if he did not
listen the pretence he made was good enough to
satisfy her. She was secretly flattered, elated, at
the effect she had produced, a little sorry for him,
a little sentimental. " Why should a heart have
been there in the way of a fair woman's foot ? " she
quoted to herself.
She sent him away before dinner. She had
promised Gabriel she would keep early hours, rest,
and rest, and rest until he came down on Saturday,
and she meant to keep her promise. She gave Dr.
Kennedy both her hands in farewell.
" I wish you did not look so woebegone. Say
you are glad I am happy."
" Oh, my God ! " he lost himself then, kissing
the hands she gave him, speaking wildly. "If the
fellow were not such a prig, if only your happiness
would last . . ."
She drew her hands away, angry or offended.
" Last ! of course it will last. Hush ! don't say
anything unworthy of you. Don't make me dis-
appointed. I don't want to think I have made a
With something very like a groan he made a
precipitate retreat. He could not tell her what he
had come here to say, to consult her about, he would
have to write, or wait until Stanton was there. He
wanted her to have one more good night. He loved
her radiance. She wronged him if she thought he
was jealous of her happiness, or of Gabriel Stanton,
although he wished so desperately and so ignorantly
that her lover had been other than he was.
Margaret had her uninterrupted night, her last
happy night. Peter Kennedy turned and tossed,
and tossed and turned on his narrow bed, the sheets
grew hot and crumpled and the pillow iron-hard,
making his head ache. Towards morning he left
his bed, abandoning his pursuit of the sleep that
had played him false, and went for a long tramp.
At six o'clock, the sun barely risen and the sea
cold in a retreating tide, he tried a swim. At eight
o'clock he was nevertheless no better, and no worse
than he had been the day before, and the day before
that. He breakfasted on husks ; the bacon and eggs
tasted little better. Then he read Mrs. Roope's
letter for about the twentieth time and wished he
had the doctoring of her !
Dear Dr. Kennedy:
I am sorry to say that since I last saw you
additional facts have come to my knowledge which
in fairness to the purity which is part of the higher
life I cannot ignore. That Mr. Gabriel Stanton
had been visiting my cousin's wife during the six
months in which she should have been penitently
contemplating the errors and misdemeanours of
her past, her failure in true wifeliness, I knew.
That you had been passing many hours daily with
her, and at unseemly hours, have also slept in her
house, has only now come to my knowledge. I
am nauseated by this looseness. Marriage should
improve the human species, becoming a barrier
against vice. This has not been so with the wife
of my husband's cousin. As Mrs. Eddy so truly
says " the joy of intercourse becomes the jest of
sin." I return you the cheque you gave me and
which becomes due next Wednesday. If neither
you nor Mrs. Capel has any argument to advance
that would cause me to alter my opinion I am con-
strained to lay the facts in my possession before
the King's Proctor. Two co-respondents make the
case more complicated, but my duty more simple.
Yours without any spiritual arrogance but con-
scious of rectitude,
" Damn her ! " He had said it often, but it never
forwarded matters. Time pressed, and he had done
nothing, or almost nothing. He had received the
letter Wednesday. On Friday before going up to
Carbies he had wired, " Am consulting Mrs. C.
The early morning post came late to Pineland.
Dr. Kennedy had to wait until nine o'clock for his
letters. As he anticipated on Saturday morning
there was another letter from the follower of Mrs.
Dear Dr. Kennedy:
It is my duty to let you know that I have an
appointment with James Capel's lawyer for Mon-
day the 29th inst.
In desperation he wired back, " Name terms,
Kennedy," and paid reply. There were a few pa-
tients he was bound to see. The time had to be
got through somehow. But at twelve o'clock he
started for Carbies. Margaret had not expected
to see him again. She had said good-bye to him,
to the whole incident. Her " consciousness of recti-
tude," as far as Peter Kennedy was concerned, was
as complete as Mrs. Roope's. She had found him
little better than a country yokel, and now saw him
with a future before him, a future she still vaguely
meant to forward only vaguely. Definitely all
her thoughts were with Gabriel and the hours they
would pass together. She was meeting him at the
station at three o'clock. She remembered the first
time she had met him at Pineland station, and
smiled at the remembrance. He might cut himself
shaving with impunity now, and the shape of his
hat or his coat mattered not one jot.
Not expecting Peter Kennedy, but Gabriel Stan-
ton, she was already arrayed in one of her trous-
seau dresses, a simple walking-costume of blue
serge, a shirt of fine cambric, and was spending a
happy hour trying on hat after hat to decide not
only which was most suitable but which was the
most becoming. Hearing wheels on the gravel she
looked out of the window. Seeing Peter she al-
most made up her mind not to go down. She had
just decided on a toque of pansies . . . she might
try the effect on Peter. She was a little disingenu-
ous with herself, vanity was the real motive, al-
though she sought for another as she went down-
Peter was in the drawing-room, staring vacantly
out of the window. He never noticed her new
clothes. She saw that in his eyes, and it quenched
any welcome there might have been in hers. It was
her expression he answered with his impulsive:
" I had to come ! "
" You mustn't be satirical," he said desperately.
" Or be what you like, what does it matter ? I'd
rather have shot myself than come to you with such
news . . ." Her sudden pallor shook him. " You
can guess of course."
" No, I can't."
" That blasted woman ! "
" Go on."
" She has written again. Sit down." She sank
into the easy-chair. All her radiance was quenched,
she looked piteous, pitiable. He could not look at
" I came up here yesterday afternoon, meaning
to tell you. You were so damned happy I couldn't
get it out."
" So damned happy ! " she repeated after him,
and the words were strange on her white lips,
her laugh was stranger still and made him feel
" You haven't got to take it like that ; we'll find
a way out. I suppose, after all, it's only a question
of money . . ."
" I cannot give her more money."
" I've got some. I can get more. You know
I haven't a thing in the world you are not welcome
to, you've made a man of me."
" It is not because I haven't the money to give
her." She spoke in a strange voice, it seemed to
have shrunk somehow, there was no volume in it,
it was small and colourless.
" I don't know how much she wants. I have
wired her and paid a reply. I daresay her answer is
there by now. I'll phone and ask if you like."
"What's the use?"
" Well, we'd better know."
" He said that is what would happen. That she
would come again and yet again." She was taking
things even worse than he expected. " He will
never give in to her, never . . ." She collapsed
fitfully, like an electric lamp with a broken wire.
" Everything is over, everything."
" I don't see that."
She went on in that small colourless voice :
" I know. We don't see things the way Gabriel
does. I promised to tell him, to consult him if she
He hesitated, even stammered a little before he
"He ... he had better not be told of this."
She laughed again, that little incongruous hope-
" I haven't any choice, I promised him."
"Promised him what?"
" To let him know if she came back again, if I
heard anything more about it."
" This isn't exactly ' it.' " This is a fresh start
altogether. I suppose you know how I hate what
I am saying. The position can't be faced, it's got
to be dodged. It's not only Gabriel Stanton she's
got hold of . . ."
He did not want to go on, and she found some
strange groundless hope in his hesitation.
" Not Gabriel Stanton ? " she asked, and there
seemed more tone in her voice, more interest. She
" Perhaps you'd like to see her letter." He gave
it to her, then without a word went over to the
other window, turned his face away from her.
3 o8 TWILIGHT
There was a long silence. Margaret's face was
aflame, but her heart felt like ice. Peter Kennedy
to be dragged in, to have to defend herself from
such a charge ! And Gabriel yet to be told ! She
covered her eyes, but was conscious presently that
the man was standing beside her, speaking.
" Margaret ! " His voice was as unhappy as
hers, his face ravaged. " It is not my fault. I'd
give my life it hadn't happened. That night you
had the heart attack I did stay for hours, prowled
about . . . then slept on the drawing-room sofa.
"Oh! hush! hush!"
" You must listen, we must think what is best
to be done," he said desperately. " Let me go up
to London and see her. I'm sure I can manage
something. It's not . . . it's not as if there were
anything in it." His tactlessness was innate, he
meant so well but blundered hopelessly, even putting
a hand on her knee in the intensity of his sympathy.
She shook it off as if he had been the most ob-
noxious of insects. " Let me go up and see her,"
he pleaded. " Authorise me to act. May I see if
there is an answer to my telegram? I sent it a
little before nine. May I telephone ? "
" Do what you like."
"You loathe me."
" I wish you had never been born."
He was gone ten minutes ... a quarter of an
hour perhaps. When he came back she had slipped
on to the couch, was lying in a huddled-up position.
For a moment, one awful moment, he thought she
was dead, but when he lifted her he saw she had
only fainted. He laid her very gently on the sofa
and rang for help, glad of her momentary uncon-
sciousness. He knew what he intended to do now,
and to what he must try to persuade her. Stevens
came and said, unsympathetically enough :
" She's drored her stays too tight. I told her so
this morning." But she worked about her effectively
and presently she struggled back, seeming to have
forgotten for the moment what had stricken her.
" Have I had another heart attack ? " she asked
" I told you you were lacing too tight. I knew
what would happen with these new stays and
things." She actually smiled at Stevens, a wan
" I feel rather seedy still."
Peter took the cushion from her, made her lie
flat. Then she said in a puzzled way, her mind
" Something happened ? "
There was little time to be lost and he answered
" I brought you bad news."
She shut her eyes and lay still thinking that over.
She opened them and saw his working face and
" About Mrs. Roope," he reminded her. They
were alone, the impeccable Stevens had gone for a
" What is it exactly ? Tell me all over again.
I am feeling rather stupid. I thought we had set-
tled and finished with her ? "
" She has reopened the matter, dragged me in."
She remembered now, and the flush in his face was
reflected in hers. " But it is only a question of
money. I've got her terms."
" We must not give her money. Gabriel
says . . ."
He would not let her speak, interrupting her
hurriedly, continuing to speak without pause.
" The sum isn't impossible. As a matter of fact
I can find it myself, or almost the whole amount.
Then there's Lansdowne, he's really not half a
bad fellow when you know him. And he's as rich
as Croesus, he would gladly lend it to me."
" No. Nonsense ! Don't be absurd." She was
thinking, he could see that she was thinking whilst
" It's my affair as much as yours," he pleaded.
" There is my practice to consider."
She almost smiled :
" Then you actually have a practice ? "
" I'm going to have. Quite a big one too.
Haven't you told me so? " He was glad to get the
talk down for one moment to another level. " It
would be awfully bad for me if anything came out.
I am only thinking of myself. I want to settle with
her once for all."
Her faint had weakened her, she was just re-
covering from it. Physically she was more com-
fortable, mentally less alert, and satisfied it should
" Perhaps I took it too tragically ? " she said
slowly. " Perhaps as you say, in a way, it is your
He answered her eagerly.
" That's right. My affair, and nothing to do with
your promise to him. Then you'll leave it in my
hands . . ."
" You go so fast," she complained.
" The time is so short ; she can't have anything
else up her sleeve. I funked telling you, I've left it
so late." He showed more delicacy than one would
have given him credit for and stumbled over the
next sentences. " He would hate to think of me in
this connection. You'd hate to tell him. Just give
me leave to settle with her. I'll dash up to town."
" How much does she want ? "
" Five hundred. I can find the money."
" Nonsense ; it isn't the money. I wish I knew
what I ought to do," she said indecisively. " If
only I hadn't promised . . ."
" This is nothing to do with what you promised
. . . this is a different thing altogether."
He was sophistical and insistent and she was
weak, allowed herself to be persuaded. The money
of course must be her affair, she could not allow him
to be out of pocket.
They disputed about this and he had more argu-
ments to bring forward. These she brushed aside
impatiently. If the money was to be paid she would
pay it, could afford it better than he.
" I'm sure I am doing wrong," she repeated
when she wrote out the cheque, blotted and gave it
" He'll never know. No one will ever know."
Peter Kennedy was only glad she had yielded.
He had, of course, no thought of himself in the
matter. Why should he? In losing her he lost
everything that mattered, that really mattered. And
he had never had a chance, not an earthly chance.
He believed her happiness was only to be secured
by this marriage, and he dreaded the effect upon
her health of any disappointment or prolonged
anxiety. " Once you are married it doesn't matter
a hang what she says or does," he said gloomily
or consolingly when she had given him the
" Suppose . . . suppose . . . Gabriel were to get to
know ? " she asked with distended eyes. Some re-
assurance she found for herself after Peter Ken-
nedy had gone, taking with him the cheque that was
the price of her deliverance.
Would Gabriel be so inflexible, seeing what was
at stake? The last fortnight in a way had drawn
them so- much closer to each other. They must live
together in that house within the Sanctuary at West-
minster. Must. Oh ! if only life .would stand still
until next Wednesday! The next hour or two
crushed heavily over her. She knew she had done
wrong, that she had promised and broken her
promise. No sophistry really helped her. But,
whatever happened, she must have this afternoon
and a long Sunday, alone with him, growing more
necessary to him. Finally she succeeded in con-
vincing herself that he would never know, or that
he would forgive her when he did know, at the
right time, when the time came to tell him.
She forced herself to a pretence at lunch. Then
went slowly upstairs to complete her interrupted
toilette. Looking in the glass now she saw a pale
and distraught face that ill-fitted the pansy toque.
She changed into something darker, more suitable,
with a cock's feather. All her desire was that Ga-
briel should be pleased with her appearance, to give
" I haven't any rouge, have I, Stevens ? "
" I should 'ope not."
" I don't want Mr. Stanton to find me looking
" You look well enough, considering. He won't
notice nothing. The carriage is here." Stevens
gave her gloves and a handkerchief.
Now she was bowling along the quiet country
road, on the way to meet him. The sky was as blue,
the air as sweet as she had anticipated. On the sur-
face she was all throbbing expectation. She was
going to meet her lover, nothing had come between
them, could come between them.
But in her subconsciousness she was suffering
acutely. It seemed she must faint again when the
train drew in and she saw him on the platform, but
the feeling passed. Never had she seen him look so
completely happy. There was no hint or sugges-
tion of austerity about him, or asceticism. The
porter swung his bag to the coachman. Gabriel
took his place beside her in the carriage. A greet-
ing passed between them, only a smile of mutual
understanding, content. Nothing had happened
since they parted, she told herself passionately, else
he had not looked so happy, so content.
" We'll drop the bag at the hotel, if you don't
" Like we did the first time you came," Mar-
garet answered. His hand lay near hers and he
pressed it, keeping it in his.
"We might have tea there, on that iron table,
as we did that day," he said.
" And hear the sea, watch the waves," she mur-
mured in response.
" You like me better than you did that day."
" I know you better." She found it difficult to
" Everything is better now," he said with a sigh
of satisfaction. It was twenty minutes' drive from
the station to the hotel. He was telling her of an
old oak bureau he had seen, of the way the work-
men were progressing, of a Spode dinner service
George was going to give them. Once when they
were between green hedges in a green solitude, he
raised the hand he held to his lips and said :
" Only three days more."
She was in a dream from which she had no wish
" You don't usually wear a veil, do you ? " he
asked. " There is something different about you
today . . ."
" It is my new trousseau," she answered, not
without inward agitation, but lightly withal. " The
latest fashion. Don't you like it ? " Now they had
left the sheltering hedges and were within sight of
the white painted hostelry.
" The hat and dress and everything are lovely.
But your own loveliness is obscured by the veil.
It makes you look ethereal; I cannot see you so
clearly through it. Beloved, you are quite well,
are you not ? " There was a note of sudden anxiety
in his voice. " It is the veil, isn't it? You are not
pale ? " She shook her head.
" No, it is the veil." They pulled up at the door
of the hotel. There was another fly there, but
empty, the horse with a nose-bag, feeding, the
coachman not on the box.
" The carriage is to wait. You can take the bag
up to my room," he said to the porter. Then turned
to help Margaret.
" Send out tea for two as quickly as you can.
The table is not occupied, is it ? "
"There is a lady walking about," the man said.
" I don't know as she 'as ordered tea. She's been
here some time, seems to be waiting for some one."
" Oh ! we don't want any one but ourselves,"
Margaret exclaimed, still with that breathless
" I'll see to that, milady." He touched his cap.
When they walked down the path to where, on
the terrace overlooking the sea, the iron table and
two chairs awaited them, Margaret said reminis-
" I sat and waited for you here whilst you saw
your room, washed your hands . . ."
" And today I cannot leave you even to wash my
The deep tenderness in his voice penetrated,
shook her heart. He remembered what they had
for tea last time, and ordered it again when the
waiter came to them: Strawberry jam in a little
glass dish, clotted cream, brown and white bread
and butter. " The sea is calmer than it was on that
day," he said when the waiter went to execute the
" The sky is not less blue," Margaret answered,
and it seemed as if they were talking in symbols.
" How wonderful it all is ! " That was his ex-
clamation, not hers. She was unusually silent, but
was glad of the tea when it came, ministering to him
and spreading the jam on the bread and butter.
" Let me do it."
" No," she answered. When she drew her veil
up a little way to drink her tea one could see that
her lips were a little tremulous, not as pink as usual.
Gabriel, however, was too supremely happy and con-
tent to notice anything. He poured out all his news,
all that had happened since she left, little things,
chiefly details of paper and paint and the protection
of their property from her father and stepmother's
" It will be all right. I had a chat with Travers."
Travers was the foreman of the painters. " He will
do nothing but with direct orders from us.
The concrete in the basement won't affect the gen-
eral appearance, we can put back the old boards over
it. But I think that might be a mistake although
the boards are very interesting, about four times
as thick as the modern ones, worm or rat eaten
3 i8 TWILIGHT
through. They will make the pipes for the bath as
little obtrusive as possible. The electric wire cas-
ings will go behind the ceiling mouldings. They
are not really mouldings, but carved wood, fallen
to pieces in many places. But I am having them
replaced. Margaret, are you listening?"
She had been. But some one had come out of
the hotel. Far off as they were she heard that tur-
key gobble and impedimented speech.
" You can tell Dr. Kennedy that I would not
wait any longer. Tell him I have gone straight up
to Carbies. I shall see Mrs. Capel."
" The lady from Carbies is here, ma'am; having
tea on the terrace, that's her carriage."
Gabriel had not heard, he was so intent on Mar-
garet and his news. The sea was breaking on the
shingle, and to that sound, so agreeable to him, he
was also listening idly, in the intervals of his talk.
The strange voice in the distance escaped him. The
familiar impediment was not familiar to him. Mar-
garet was cold in the innermost centre of her un-
evenly beating heart.
" Are you listening ? " he asked her, and the face
she turned on him was white through the obscuring
" I am listening, Gabriel."
" I will go down and speak to her," Mrs. Roope
was saying to the waiter. " No, you need not go
Margaret's heart stood still, the space of a sec-
ond, and then thundered on, irregularly. She had
no plan ready, her quick brain was numbed.
Gabriel looked up and saw a tall woman con-
spicuously dressed as nun or nursing sister, in
blue flowing cloak and bonnet. A woman with ir-
regular features, large nose and coarse complexion.
When she had said " Mrs. Capel " Margaret
cringed, a shiver went through her, she seemed to
shrink into the corner of the chair. " You know
me. I wrote to Dr. Kennedy Wednesday and the
letter required an immediate answer. Now I've
come for it."
" He went up to London to see you," she got out.
" I shall have to be sure you are telling me the
" You can ask at the station."
Gabriel looked from one to the other perplexedly.
But his perplexity was of short duration, the turkey
gobble and St. Vitus twist it was impossible to
mistake. He intervened sharply:
:< You are Mrs. Roope, my sister's so-called
' healer.' When Mrs. Capel assures you of anything
you have not to doubt it." He spoke haughtily.
" Why are you here ? "
" You know that well enough, Gabriel Stanton."
" This is the woman who blackmailed you ? "
The " yes " seemed wrung from her unwillingly.
His voice was low and tender when he questioned
Margaret, quite a different voice to the one in which
he spoke again to the Christian Scientist.
" How dare you present yourself again ? You
ought to have been given in charge the first time.
Are you aware that blackmailing is a criminal
offence ? "
" I am aware of everything I wish. If you care
for publicity my motive can stand the light of day."
" You ought to be in gaol."
" It would not harm me. There is no sensation
" You would be able to test your faith."
" Are you sure of yours ? "
Margaret caught hold of his sleeve:
" Don't bandy words with her, Gabriel. She
says things without meaning. Let her go. I will
send her away." She got up and spoke quickly.
" Dr. Kennedy has gone up to town to see you.
To . . . take you what you asked. When he does
not find you in London he will come straight back
here. They will have told him, I suppose, where
you have gone? He has the money with him."
" What are you saying, Margaret ? " Gabriel
rose too, stood beside her.
" Wait a minute. Leave me alone, I have to make
Margaret was in an agony of anxiety that the
woman should know her claims had been met, that
she should say nothing more before Gabriel. She
did not realise what she was admitting, did not see
the change in his face, the petrifaction.
" Why don't you go up to his house, wait for him
there ? " Then she said to Gabriel quickly and un-
" This is Dr. Kennedy's affair. It was Dr. Ken-
nedy for whom you were asking, wasn't it? " Mrs.
Roope's cunning was equal to the occasion.
" It is Dr. Kennedy I have got to see," she said
"If he misses you in London he will get back
as quickly as possible." Margaret's strained anx-
iety was easy to read. Afterwards Gabriel fol-
lowed her, as she moved quickly toward the hotel.
" What has she got to do with Dr. Kennedy or
he with her ? " he asked then. Margaret spoke
" She sent back the post-dated cheque. It is all
settled only they missed each other. Peter went
up to town to find her and she misunderstood and
came after him. He has the other cheque with
She was purposely incoherent, meaning him to
misunderstand, hoping against hope that he would
show no curiosity. Mrs. Roope came after them,
planted herself heavily in their path.
" I'll give him until the last train."
" Telephone to your own house and you will find
he has been there," Margaret said desperately.
" Let me pass."
" You may go."
" Insolence ! " But Margaret hurried on and he
could not let her go alone.
" I will go into the drawing-room. Get the car-
riage up. We mustn't stay here ..." She spoke
" You are not frightened of her ? " He hardly
knew what to think, that Margaret was concealing
anything from him was unbelievable, unbearable.
" Frightened ? No. But I want to be away from
her presence, vicinity. She makes me feel ill . . ."
Margaret thought the danger was averted, or
would be if she could get away without any more
explanation. She had obscured the issue. Peter
Kennedy would come back and pay all that was
asked. Gabriel would never know that it was the
second and not the first attempt at blackmailing
from which they were suffering. But she under-
rated his intelligence, he was not at all so easily
put off. He got the carriage round and put her in
it, enwrapping her with the same care as always.
He was very silent, however, as they drove home-
ward and his expression was inscrutable. She ques-
tioned his face but without result, put out her hand
and he held it.
" We are not still thinking of Mrs. Roope,
" Have you seen her since I was here last ? " he
" Not until she came up to us this afternoon."
She was glad to be able to answer that truthfully,
breathed more freely.
" Nor heard from her ? "
" Nor heard from her."
" How did you know Dr. Kennedy had gone up
to town to see her? "
" He told me so this morning. I ... I advised
him to go."
" Was this morning the first time you saw
" No, I saw him yesterday. Am I under cross-
examination ? " She tried to smile, speak lightly,
but Gabriel sat up by her side without response.
His face was set in harsh lines. She loved him
greatly but feared him a little too, and put forth
her powers, talking lightly and of light things. He
came back to the subject and persisted :
" Why did she send back the post-dated cheque ?
Had she another given her?"
" I ... I suppose so."
" I don't like the way you are talking to me."
She pouted, and he relapsed into silence.
When they got back to Carbies she said she must
go up and change her dress. She was very shaken
by his attitude: she thought his self-control hid
3 2 4 TWILIGHT
incredulity or anger, found herself unable to face
He detained her a moment, pleaded with
" Margaret, if there is anything behind this . . .
anything you want to tell me . . ." She escaped
from his detaining arm.
" I don't like my word doubted."
" You have not given me your word. This is
not a second attempt, is it? Why did she force
herself upon you? I shall see Kennedy myself to-
morrow, find out what is going on."
" Why should there be anything going on? You
are conjuring up ghosts . . ." Then she weakened,
changed. " Gabriel, don't be so hard, so unlike
yourself. I don't know what has come over
He put his arms about her and spoke hoarsely:
" My darling, my more than treasure. I can't
doubt you, and yet I am riven with doubt. For-
give me, but how can you forgive me if I am
wrong? Tell me again, tell me once and for al-
ways that nothing has been going on of which I
have been kept in ignorance, that you would not,
could not have broken your word to me. You look
ill, scared ... I know now that from the moment
I came you have not been yourself, your beautiful
candid self. Margaret, crown of my life, sweet-
heart; darling, speak, tell me. Is there anything I
ought to know ? " He spoke with ineffable tender-
He was bending over her, holding her, her heart
beat against his heart; she would have answered
had she been able. But when her words came they
were no answer to his.
" Darling, how strange you are ! There is cer-
tainly nothing you ought to know. Let me go and
get my things off. How strange that you should
doubt me, that you should rather believe that dread-
ful woman. I have never seen her since you were
down here last, nor heard from her. . . ."
Her cheeks flamed and were hidden against his
coat, she hated her own disingenuousness. It had
been difficult to tell him, now it was impossible.
" Let me go."
He released her and she went over to the looking-
glass, adjusted her veil. She had burnt her boats,
now there was nothing for it but denial and more
denial. Thoughts went in and out of her aching
head like forked lightning. He would never know.
Peter would arrange, Peter would manage. It was
a dreadful thing she had done, dreadful. But she
had been driven to it. If the time would come over
again . . . but time never does come over again.
She must play her part and play it boldly. She was
trembling inside, but outwardly he saw her preen-
ing herself before the glass as she talked to
" I think we have had enough of Mrs. Roope.
You haven't half admired my frock. I have a great
mind not to wear my new teagown tonight. I
should resent it being ignored. We ought to go
out again until dinner, the afternoon is lovely. I
can't sit on the beach in this, but I need only slip
on an old skirt. Shall I put on another skirt? Do
you feel in the humour for the beach? I've a
thousand questions to ask you. I seem to have been
down here by myself for an age. I have actually
started a book ! What do you say to that ? I want
to tell you about it. What has been decided about
the door-plates? What did the parents say when
they heard I'd fled?"
" I didn't see them until the next day."
" Had they recovered ? "
" They were resigned. I promised to bring you
back with me on Monday."
"And now you don't want to?"
" How can you say that ? "
" Did I say it ? My mood is frivolous, you
mustn't take me too seriously. The beach . . .
you haven't answered about the beach. Perhaps
you'd rather walk. I don't mind adventuring this
skirt if we walk."
" You are not too tired ? "
" How conventional ! "
Something had come between them, some sum-
mer cloud or thunderstorm. Try as they would
during the remainder of the day they could not
break through or see each other as clearly as be-
fore. Margaret talked frivolously, or seriously,
rallied, jested with him. He struggled to keep up
with her, to take his tone from hers, to be natural.
But both of them were acutely aware of failure, of
artificiality. The walk, the dinner, the short
evening failed to better the situation. When they
bade each other good-night he made one more
"You find it impossible to forgive me?"
" There is nothing I would not forgive you.
That's the essential difference between us," she
" There is no essential difference; don't say
" The day has been something of a failure, don't
you think? But then so was the day when you
cut yourself shaving." She maintained the flippant
tone. " That came right. Perhaps tomorrow when
we meet we shall find each other wholly adorable
again." She would not be serious, was light,
frivolous to the last. " Good-night. Don't paint
devils, don't see ghosts. Tomorrow everything
may be as before. Kiss me good-night. Sleep
well ! " He kissed her, hesitated, kept her in the
shelter of his arms :
" Margaret . . ." She freed herself :
" No. I know that tone. It means more ques-
tions. You ought to have lived in the time of the
Spanish Inquisition. Don't you wish you could
put me on the rack? There is a touch of the in-
quisitor about you. I never noticed it before . . .
MARGARET slept ill that night. Round and round
in her unhappy mind swirled the irrefutable fact
that she had lied to her lover, and that he knew she
had lied. Broken her promise, her oath; and he
knew that she was forsworn. She passionately de-
sired his respect; in all things he had been on his
knees before her. If he were no longer there she
would find the change of attitude difficult to en-
dure. Yet in the watches of the night she clung to
the hope that he could know nothing definitely.
He might suspect or divine, but he could not know.
She counted on Peter Kennedy, trusted that when
the five hundred pounds were paid the woman would
be satisfied, would go quietly away, that nothing
more would ever be heard of her.
Wednesday next they were to be married. She
told herself that if she had lost anything she would
regain it then. Perhaps she would tell him, but
not until after she had re-won him. She knew her
power. If, too, she distrusted it, sensing something
in him incorruptible and granite-hard, she took
faint and feverish consolation by reminding herself
that it was night-time, when all troubles look their
worst. She resolutely refused to consider the per-
manent loss of that which she now knew she valued
more than life itself. The possibility intruded,
but she would not look.
In short snatches of troubled sleep she lived
again through the scenes of the afternoon, saw him
doubt, heard him question, gave flippant answers.
In oases of wakefulness she felt his arms about her,
and the restrained kisses that were like vows; con-
jured up thrilled moments when she knew how well
he loved her. She began to dread those nightmare
sleeps, and to force herself to keep awake. At four
o'clock she consoled herself that it would soon be
daylight. At five o'clock, after a desperate short
nightmare of estrangement from which she awoke,
quick-pulsed and pallid, she got up and put on a
dressing-gown, drew up the blind, and opened wide
the window. She watched the slow dawn and in
the darkness heard the breakers on the stony beach.
Nature calmed and quieted her. She began to
think her fears had been foolish, to believe that she
had not only played for safety but secured it, that
the coming day would bring her the Gabriel she
knew best, the humble and adoring lover. She pic-
tured their coming together, his dear smile and re-
stored confidence. He would have forgotten yes-
terday. The dawn she was watching illumined
and lightened the sky. Soon the sun would rise
grandly, already his place was roseate-hued. " Red
sky in the morning is the shepherd's warning," runs
the old proverb. But Margaret had never heard,
or had forgotten it. To her the roseate dawn was
all promise. The day before them should be ex-
quisite as yesterday, and weld them with its warmth.
She would withhold nothing from him, nothing of
her love. Then peace would fall between them?
and the renewal of love ? At six o'clock she pulled
down the blinds and went back to bed again, where
for two hours she slept dreamlessly. Stevens woke
her with the inevitable tea.
"It can't be morning yet? It is hardly light."
She struggled with her drowsiness. " I don't hear
rain, do I?"
" There's no saying what you hear, but it's
raining sure enough, a miserable morning for
" May ! But it is nearly June ! "
" I'm not gainsaying the calendar."
" Pull up the blind."
A short time before she had gazed on a roseate
dawn, now rain was driving pitilessly across the
landscape, and all the sky was grey. No longer
could she hear the breakers on the shore. All she
heard was the rain. Stevens shut the window.
" You'd best not be getting up early. There's
nothing to get up for on a morning like this. It's
not as if you was in the habit of going to church."
Margaret was conscious of depression. Stevens's
grumbling kept it at bay, and she detained her on
one excuse or another; tried to extract humour
from her habitual dissatisfaction.
" It will be like this all day, you see if it isn't.
The rain is coming down straight, too, and the
smoke's blowing all ways." She changed the sub-
ject abruptly, as maids will, intent on her duties.
" I'll have to be getting out your clothes. What do
you think you'll wear? "
" I meant to try my new whipcord."
" With the wheat-ear hat ! What's the good of
that if you won't have a chance of going out?"
" One of my new tea-gowns, then ? "
" I never did hold with tea-gowns in the morn-
ing," Stevens answered lugubriously. " I suppose
Mr. Stanton will be coming over. Not but what
he'll get wet through."
" I shouldn't be surprised if he came all the same."
Margaret smiled, and the omniscient maid reflected
the smile, if a little sourly.
" There's never no saying. There's that tele-
phone going. Another mistake, I suppose. I wish
I'd the drilling of them girls. Oh ! I'm coming, I'm
coming ! " she cried out to the insensitive instru-
ment. " Don't you attempt to get up till I come
back. You're going to have a fire to dress by;
calendar or no calendar, it's as cold as winter."
Margaret watched the rain driving in wind gusts
against the window until Stevens came back. Some-
how the rain seemed to have altered everything,
she felt the fatigue of her broken night, the irrita-
bility of her frayed nerves.
" It's that there Dr. Kennedy. He wants to
know how soon he may come over. He says he's
got something to tell you. * All the fat's in the
fire,' he said. ' Am I to tell her that? ' I arst him.
' Tell her anything you like,' he answered, ' but find
out how soon I can see her.' Very arbitrary he was
and impatient, as if I'd nothing to do but give and
take his messages."
" Tell him I'm just getting up. I can be ready in
half an hour."
"I shall tell him nothing of the sort. Half an
hour, indeed, with your bath and everything, and
no breakfast, and the fire not yet lit. Nor one
of the rooms done, I shouldn't think ..."
" Tell him I'll see him in half an hour," Mar-
garet persisted. " Now go away, that's a good
woman, and do as you are told. Don't stand there
arguing, or I'll answer the telephone myself." She
put one foot out of bed as if to be as good as her
word, and Stevens, grumbling and astonished, went
to do her bidding.
Half an hour seemed too long for Margaret.
What had Peter Kennedy to tell her? Had he met
or seen Mrs. Roope? " All the fat was in the fire."
What fat, what fire? The phrase foreshadowed
comedy and not tragedy. But that was nothing
for Peter Kennedy, who was in continual need of
editing, who had not the gift of expression nor the
capacity of appropriate words. She scrambled in
and out of her bath, to Stevens's indignation, never
waiting for the room to be warmed. She was im-
patient about her hair, would not sit still to have
it properly brushed, but took the long strands in
her own hands and " twisted them up anyhow."
Stevens's description of the whole toilette would
have been sorry reading in a dress magazine or
" Give me anything," she says, " anything.
What does it matter? He'll be here any minute
now. The old dressing-gown, or a shirt and skirt.
Whichever is quickest. What a slowcoach you're
" Slowcoach ! She called me a slowcoach, and
from first to last it hadn't been twenty minutes."
Margaret, sufficiently dressed, but without hav-
ing breakfasted, very pale and impatient, was at
the window of the music room when Peter came up
the gravel path in his noisy motor, flung in the clutch
with a grating sound, pulled the machine to a stand-
still. There was no ceremony about showing him
up. He was in the room before she had collected
herself. He, too, was pale, his chin unshaved, his
eyes a little wild; looking as if he, also, had not
"You've heard what happened?" he began, ab-
ruptly. ..." No, of course you haven't, how could
you? What a fool I am! There's been a hell
of a hullabaloo. That's why I telephoned, rushed
up. You know that she-cat came down here ? " He
had difficulty in explaining his errand.
" Yes. I saw her, she waited for you at the
hotel. Go on, what next?"
" I didn't get back until after nine o'clock. And
then I found her waiting for me. The servants did
not know what to make of her; they told me they
couldn't understand what she said, so I suppose she
talked Christian Science. Fortunately I'd got the
cheque with me. I had not been able to change it,
the London banks were all closed. She took it
like a bird. Not without some of the jargon and
hope that I'd mend my ways, give up prescribing
drugs. You know the sort of thing. I thought
I'd got through, that it was all over. The cheque
was dated Saturday, she would be able to cash it
first thing Monday morning. It was as good as
money directly the banks opened. I never dreamt
of them meeting."
"Who?" asked Margaret, with pale lips. She
knew well enough, although she asked and waited
for an answer.
" She and Gabriel Stanton. It seems she was too
late for the last train and had to put up at the
"At the King's Arms?"
" Yes. He met her there, or rather she forced
herself on him. God knows what she had in her
mind. Pure mischief, I suspect, though of course
it may have been propaganda. It seems he came
in about ten o'clock and went on to the terrace to
smoke or to look at the sea. She followed him there,
tackled him about his sister or his soul."
" How do you know all this ? "
" Let me tell the story my own way. He met
her full-face so to speak, wanted to know exactly
what she was doing in this part of the world. Per-
haps she didn't know she was giving away the show.
Perhaps she didn't know he wasn't exactly in our
confidence. There is no use thinking the worst of
" She knew what she was doing, that she was
coming between us." Margaret spoke in a low
voice, a voice of desperate certainty and hopeless-
" Well, that doesn't matter one way or another,
what her intentions were, I mean. I don't know
myself what had happened between you and him.
Although of course I spotted quick enough he'd
had some sort of shock. ..."
" Then you have seen him ! "
" I was coming to that. After his interview with
her he came straight to me."
" To you ! But it was already night ! "
" I'd gone to bed, but he rang the night bell, rang
and rang again. I didn't know who it was when I
shouted through the tube that I'd come down, that
I shouldn't be half a minute. When I let him in
I thought he was a ghost. I was quite staggered,
he seemed all frozen up, stiff. Just for a moment
it flashed across me that he'd come from you, that
you were ill, needed me. But he did not give me
time to say the wrong things. ' Mrs. Roope has
just left me/ he began. ' The devil she has/ was
all I could find to answer. I was quite taken aback.
I needn't go over it all word by word, it wasn't
very pleasant. He accused me of compromising you,
seemed to think I'd done it on purpose, had some
nefarious motive. I was in the dark about how
much he knew, and that handicapped me. I swore
you knew nothing about it, and he said haughtily
that I was to leave your name out of the conversa-
tion. And now I'm coming to the point. Why I
am here at all. It seems she tried to rush him for
a bit more, and he, well practically told her to go
to blazes, said he should stop the cheque, prosecute
her. He seemed to think I was trying to save my-
self at your expense. ASS ! He is going up this
morning to see his lawyer, he wants an information
laid at Scotland Yard. He says the Christian
Science people are practically living on blackmail,
getting hold of family secrets or skeletons. And
he's not going to stand for it. I did all I knew to
persuade him to let well alone. We nearly came to
blows, only he was so damned dignified. I said I
believed it would break you up if there was another
scandal. ' I have no doubt that Mrs. Capel will
see the matter in the same light that I do,' he said
in the stiffest of all his stiff ways." Peter Kennedy
paused. He had another word to say, but he said
it awkwardly, with an immense effort, and after a
" He'll come up here this morning and tackle you.
You don't care a curse if I'm dead or alive, I know
that. But if . . . if he drives you too far . . .
well, you know I'd lay down my life for you. He
says I've no principle, and as far as you're con-
cerned that's true enough. I'd say black was white,
I'd steal or starve to give you pleasure, save you
pain. That's what I've come to say, to put myself
at your service." She put up her hand, motioned
him to silence. All this time he had been standing
up, now he flung himself into a chair, brushed his
hand across his forehead. " I hardly know what
I'm saying, I haven't slept a wink."
" You were saying you would do anything for
" I meant that right enough."
Without any preparation, for until now she had
listened apparently calmly, she broke into a sudden
storm of tears. He got up again and went and
stood beside her.
" I can't live without him," she said. " I can't
live without him," she repeated weakly.
" Oh, I say, you know ..." But he had noth-
ing to say. The sniffing Stevens, disapproval
strongly marked upon her countenance, here
brought in a tray with coffee and rolls. Margaret,
recovering herself with an effort, motioned her to
set it down.
" You ought to make her take it," Stevens said
to Dr. Kennedy indignantly, " disturbing her be-
fore she's breakfasted. She's had nothing inside
her lips." He was glad of the interruption.
" You stay and back me up, then." Together
they persuaded or forced her to the coffee, she
could not eat, and was impatient that Stevens and
the tray should go away. Her outburst was over,
but she was pitiably shaken.
" He'll come round, all right," Peter said awk-
wardly, when they were alone again. She looked at
him with fear in her eyes :
"Do you really think so?"
" You don't think he would go up to London
without seeing me? "
" Not likely."
She spoke again presently. In the interval Peter
conjured up the image of Gabriel Stanton, speak-
ing to her as he had to him, refusing compromise,
harshly unapproachable, rigid.
" I could never go through what I went through
" You shan't."
"What could you do?"
" I'll find some way ... a medical certificate ! "
" The shame of it ! " She covered her face with
" It won't happen. She's had her money. He
may have rubbed her up the wrong way, but after
all she has nothing to gain by interfering."
"If only I had told him myself! If only I
hadn't lied to him!"
Peter, desperately miserable, walked about the
room, interjecting a word now and again, trying
to inspirit her.
" You had better go," she said to him in the end.
" It's nearly ten o'clock. If he is coming up at
all he will be here soon."
" Of course he is coming up. How can I leave
you like this ? " he answered wildly. " Can't I do
anything, say anything, see him for you?" Mar-
garet showed the pale simulacrum of a smile.
" That was my idea, once before, wasn't it? No,
you can't see him for me."
"I can't do anything?"
" I'm not sure."
She spoke slowly, hesitatingly. In truth she
did not know how she was to bear what she
saw before her. Not marriage, safety, happiness,
was to be hers, only humiliation. Death was prefer-
able, a thousand times preferable. She was im-
pulsive and leaped to this conclusion.
"Can't I do anything?" he said again.
" Peter, Peter Kennedy, you say you would do
anything, anything, for me. I wonder what you
mean by it. ... How much or how little? "
" Lay down my life."
" Or risk it ? There must be a way, you must
know a way of ... of shortening things. I
could not go through it all again . . . not now.
If the worst came to the worst, if I can't make
him listen to reason, if he won't forgive or under-
stand. If I have to face the court again, my father
and stepmother to know of my . . . my impru-
dence, all the horrors to be repeated. To have to
stand up and deny ... be cross-examined. About
you as well as him ..."
Again she hid her face. Then, after a pause in
which she saw her life befouled, and Gabriel Stan-
ton as her judge or executioner, she lifted a strained
and desperate face. " You would find a way to
She waited for his answer.
" I don't know what you mean."
" Yes, you do. If it became unbearable. Life
no longer a gift, but leprous ..."
" It isn't as if you had done anything," he ex-
" I've promised and broken my promise, lied,
deceived him. It was only to secure his happiness,
mine . . . ours . . . But if he takes it differ-
ently, and must have publicity . . ."
" I don't believe you could go through it," he
said gloomily. " One of those heart attacks of
yours might come on."
" You know the pain is intolerable."
" That amyl helps you."
" Not much."
" Was a failure last time. Peter, think, won't
you think ? Couldn't you give me anything ? Isn't
there any drug? You are fond of drugs, learned
in them. Isn't there any drug that would put me out
of my misery? "
He listened and she pressed him.
" Think, think."
" Of course there are drugs."
" But the drug."
" There's hyoscine ..."
"Tell me the effect of that?"
" It depends how it is given . . . what it is
" For f orgetf ulness ? "
" A quarter of a grain injection."
"And, and ..."
" Nothing, nothingness."
"If you love me, Peter . . . You say you
love me . . . If the worst came to the worst,
you will help me through . . . ? "
" I must. ... I want your promise."
"What is the good of promising? I couldn't
" You said you could die for me."
" It isn't my death you are asking. Unless I
should be hanged ! "
" You can safeguard yourself."
" You will never ask me."
"But if I did?"
"Oh, God knows!"
"If I not only asked but implored? Give me
this hope, this promise. // I come to the end of
my tether, can bear no more; then ask you for re-
lease, the great release . . . ? "
" My hand would drop off."
" Lose your hand."
" My heart would fail."
" Other men have done such things for the
woman they love."
" It won't come to that."
" But if it did . . . ? "
She pressed him, pressed him so hard that in the
end he yielded, gave her the promise she asked. His
night had been sleepless, he had been without break-
fast. He scarcely knew what he was saying, only
that he could not say " No " to her. And that when
he said " Yes," she took his hand in hers a mo-
ment, his reluctant hand, and laid her cheek against
" Dear friend," she said tenderly, " you give
When he went away she looked happier, or at
least quieter. He cursed himself for a fool when
he got into the car. But still against his hand he
felt the softness of her cheek and the fear of un-
manly tears made him exceed the speed limit.
Margaret, left alone, calculated her resources
and for all her whilom amazing vanity found them
poor and wanting. What would Gabriel say to her
this morning, how could she answer him? If he
truly loved her and she pointed out to him, proved
to him that their marriage, their happiness, need not
be postponed, would he listen? She saw herself
persuading him, but remembered that her father in
many an argument had failed in making him admit
that there was more than one standard of ethics,
of right conduct. If he truly loved her! In this
black moment she could doubt it. For unlike
Peter Kennedy he would put honour before her
Gabriel, her lover, came late, on slow reluctant
feet. He loved her no less, although he knew she
had deceived him, kept things back from him, com-
plicated, perhaps, both their lives by her action. He
knew her motives also, that it was because she
loved him. He had no harsh judgment, only an
overwhelming pang of tenderness. He, too, had
faced the immediate future. He knew there
must be no marriage whilst this thing hung over
and menaced them. Yet to take her into his own
keeping, guard and cherish her, was a desire sharp
as a sword is sharp, and too poignant for words.
He thought she would understand him. But more
definitely perhaps he feared her opposition. The
fear had slowed his feet. She did not know her
lover when she dreaded his reproaches. When he
came into the music room this grey, wet morning,
he saw that she looked ill, but hardly guessed that
she was apprehensive, and of him. He bent over
her hands, kissed her hands, held them against his
" My dear, my dear." Her mercurial spirits rose
at a bound.
" I thought you would reproach me."
" My poor darling ! "
" I wish I had told you."
" Never mind that now."
" But that was the worst of everything. You
don't know how I have reproached myself."
" You must not."
"You have not left off caring for me, then?"
" I never cared for you so much."
" Why do you look so grave, so serious ? "
Her heart was shaking as she questioned him.
In his tenderness there was something different,
" My darling," he said again.
" That means . . . ? "
" I am going to ask you to let me stop that
" Fortunately it is Sunday. We have the day
before us. I am going up by the two-o'clock. I've
sent my bag down to the station. I've already been
on to my lawyer by telephone and he will see me
at his private house this afternoon. In my opinion
we have nothing at all to fear. The King's Proctor
will not move on such evidence as she has to offer,
she has overreached herself. We ought to have
her in gaol by tomorrow night."
" That is where she should be. She frightened
you . . . she shall go to gaol for it. Margaret,
will you write to your bankers ... let me
" No ! " she said again.
" Sweetheart ! " and he caressed her.
" No. Gabriel, listen to me. I am overwhelmed
because I broke my promise to you, was not candid.
But though I am overwhelmed and unhappy ..."
" I will not let you be unhappy . . ."
She brushed that aside and went on :
" I am not sorry for what I have done. There
is not a word of truth in what she says. As you
say, I have admitted guilt, being innocent. Gabriel,
I was innocent before, but racked, tortured to prove
it. Here I have only paid five hundred pounds.
Oh, Heaven! give me words, the power to show
you. I am pleading with you for my life. For
my life, Gabriel . . . ours. Let the cheque go
through, give her another if necessary, and yet
another. I don't mind buying my happiness." She
" Hush! Hush! " He hushed her on his breast,
held her to him.
" Dear love ..." She wept, and the tortures
of which she spoke were his. " If only I might
yield to you."
" What is it stops you ? Obstinacy, self-right-
"If it were either would I not yield now, now,
with your dear head upon my breast ? " She was
sobbing there. " Dear love, you unman me." His
breathing was irregular. " Listen, you unman me,
you weaken me. We were both looking forward,
and must still be able to look forward. And back-
ward, too. Not stain our name, more than our
name, our own personal honour. Margaret, we
are clean, there must be no one who can say,
' Had they been innocent, would they have paid to
hide it ? ' And this fresh charge, this fresh and
hideo.us accusation ! And you would accept all, ad-
mit all ! My dear, my dear, it must not be, we have
not only ourselves to consider."
" Not only ourselves ! " He held her closer,
whispered in her ear.
She had heard him discuss commercial morality
with her father, had seen into both their souls;
learnt her lover's creed. One must not best a fel-
lowman, fool though he might be, nor take advan-
tage of his need nor ignorance. She had learnt that
there were such things as undue percentage of profit,
although no man might know what that profit was.
" Child's talk," her father had called it, and told
him Wall Street would collapse in a day if his
tenets were to hold good. Margaret had been proud
of him then, although secretly her reason had failed
to support him, for it is hard to upset the teaching
of a lifetime. To her, it seemed there were con-
ventions, but common sense or convenience might
override them. In this particular instance why
should she not submit to blackmail, paying for
the freedom she needed? But he could not be
brought to see eye to eye with her in this. She used
all the power that was in her to prove to him that
there is no sharp line of demarcation between right
and wrong, that one can steer a middle course.
The short morning went by whilst she argued.
She put forth all her powers, and in the end, quite
suddenly, became conscious that she had not moved
him in the least, that as he thought when he came
into the room, so he thought now. He used the
same words, the same hopeless unarguable words.
" Being innocent we cannot put in this plea of
guilty." She would neither listen nor talk any more,
but lay as a wrestler, who, after battling again and
again until the whistle blew and the respite came,
feels both shoulders touching the ground, and sud-
denly, without appeal, admits defeat.
When Gabriel wrote the letter to the bank stop-
ping the cheque that was to be paid to Mrs. Roope
on the morrow, she signed it silently. When he
asked her to authorise him to see her father if nec-
essary, to allow either or both of them to act for
her, she acquiesced in the same way. She was
quite spent and exhausted.
" I will let you know everything we do, every step
" I don't want to hear." She accepted his
caresses without returning them, she had no capac-
ity left for any emotion.
Then, after he had gone, for there was no time
to spare and he must not miss his train, she re-
mained immobile for a time, the panorama of the
future unfolding before her exhausted brain. What
a panorama it was! She was familiar with every
sickening scene that passed before her. Lawyer's
office, documents going to and fro, delay and yet
more delay. Appeal to Judge in Chambers, and
from Judge in Chambers, interrogatories and yet
more interrogatories, demands for further particu-
lars, the further particulars questioned; Counsel's
opinion, the case set down for hearing, adjourn-
ments and yet further adjournments.
At last the Court. Speeches. And then, stand-
ing behind the rail in the witness-box, the cynosure
of all eyes, she saw herself as in the stocks, for all
to pelt with mud . . . herself, her wretched, cow-
ering self! Gabriel said they were clean people;
she and he were clean. So far they were, but they
would be pelted with mud nevertheless; perhaps all
the more because their cleanliness would make so
tempting a target. The judge would find the mud-
flinging entertaining, would interpolate facetious
remarks. The Christian Science element would
give him opportunity. The court would be crowded
to suffocation. She felt the closeness and the musty
air, arid felt her heart contract . . . but not ex-
pand. That slight cramp woke her from her dread-
ful dream, but woke her to terror. Such a warning
she had had before. She was able, however, to ring
for help. Stevens came running and began to ad-
minister all the domestic remedies, rating her at
the same time for having " brought it on herself,"
grumbling and reminding her of all her impru-
" No breakfast, and lunch not up yet ; I never did
see such goin's-on."
She had the sense, however, in the midst of her
grumbling to send for the doctor, and before the
pain was at its height he was in the room. The
bitter-sweet smell of the amyl told him what had
been already done. What little more he could do
brought her no relief. He took out the case he
always carried, hesitated, and chose a small bottle.
" Get me some hot water," he said, to Stevens.
"Morphia?" she gasped.
" Put it away."
" Because it failed once is no reason it should
" I'm in ... I'm in ... agony."
" I know."
" And there's no hope."
" Oh, yes, you'll get through this."
" I don't want to ... only not to suffer. Re-
member, you promised." He pretended not to hear,
busying himself about her.
" He has gone. I've stopped the cheque. Pe-
ter ..." The pain rose, her voice with it, then col-
lapsed; it was dreadful to see her.
" Help me . . . give me the hyoscine," she said
faintly. His hand shook, his face was ashen. " I
can't bear this . . . you promised." The agony
broke over her again. He poured down brandy, but
it might have been water. His heart was wrung,
and drops of perspiration formed upon his forehead.
She pleaded to him in that faint voice, then was
past pleading, and could only suffer, then began
" Pity me. Do something ... let me go; help
me . . ."
One has to recollect that he loved her, that he
knew her heart was diseased, that there would be
other such attacks. Also that Gabriel Stanton, as
he feared, had proved inflexible. There would be
no wedding and inevitable publicity. Then she
cried to him again. And Stevens took up the bur-
den of her cry.
" For the Lord's sake give her something, give
her what she's asking for. Human nature can't
bear no more . . . look at her." Stevens was
moved, as any woman would be, or man, either, by
" Your promise ! " were words that were wrung
through her dry lips. Her tortured eyes raked and
" I . . .1 can't," was all the answer.
" If you care, if you ever cared. Your miserable
weakness. Oh, if I only had a man about me ! "
She turned away from him for ease and he could
hardly hear her. In the next paroxysm he lifted
her gently on to the floor, placed a pillow under her
head. He whispered to her, but she repelled him,
entreated her, but she would not listen. All the
time the pain went on. '' You promised," were
not words, but a moan.
Desperately he took the cachet from the wrong
bottle, melted it, filled his needle. When he bade
Stevens roll up her sleeve, she smiled on him,
"Dear Peter! How right I was to trust
you ! . . . " Her voice trailed. The change in her
face was almost miraculous, the writhing body re-
laxed. She sighed. Almost it seemed as if the
colour came back to her lips, to her tortured face.
" Dear, good Peter," were her last words, a message
he stooped to hear.
" Thank the Lord," said Stevens piously, " she's
getting easier." She was still lying on the floor, a
pillow under her head, and they watched her silently.
"Shall I lift her back?"
" No, leave her a few minutes." He had the sense
to add, " The morphia doesn't usually act so
quickly." Stevens had seen him give her morphia
before in the same way, with the same preliminaries.
He had saved her, he must save himself. He was
conscious now of nothing but gladness. He had
feared his strength, but his strength had been equal
to her need. She was out of pain. Nothing else
mattered. She was out of pain, he had promised
her and been equal to his promise. He was no
Gabriel Stanton to argue and deny, deny and argue.
He wiped his needle carefully, put it away. Then
a cry from Stevens roused him, brought him quickly
to her side.
"She's gone. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! She's
gone ! " He lifted her up, laid her on the sofa, the
smile was still on her face, she looked asleep. But
Stevens was there and he had to dissimulate.
" She is unconscious. Get on to the telephone.
Ask Dr. Lansdowne to come over."
Then he made a feint of trying remedies.
Strychnine, more amyl, more brandy, artificial res-
piration. He was glad, glad, glad, exulting as the
moments went on. He thanked God that she was
at rest. " He giveth His beloved sleep" He called
her beloved, whispered it in her ear when Stevens
was summoning that useless help. He had sealed
her to him, she was his woman now, and for ever.
No self-righteous iceberg could hold and deny
" Sleep well, beloved," he whispered. " Sleep
well. Smile on me, smile your thanks."
He recovered himself with an immense, an in-
credible effort. He wanted to laugh, to exult, to
call on the world to see his work, what he had done
for her, how peaceful she was, and happy. He was
as near madness as a sane man could be, but by
the time his partner came he composed his face
and spoke with professional gravity:
" I am afraid you are too late."
Dr. Lansdowne, hurrying in, wore his habitual
" I always knew it would end like this. Didn't
I tell you so? An aneurism. I diagnosed it a
long time ago." He had even forgotten his diag-
nosis. " I suppose you've tried ... so and so?"
He recapitulated the remedies. Stevens, stunned
by the calamity, but not so far as to make her for-
get to pull down the blinds, listened and realised
Dr. Kennedy had left nothing undone.
" I suppose there will have to be an inquest? "
" An inquest ! My dear fellow. An inquest!
What for? I have seen her and diagnosed, prog-
nosed. You have attended her for weeks under my
direction. Unless her family wish it, it is quite
unnecessary. I shall be most pleased to give a
death certificate. You have informed the relatives,
of course ? "
" Not yet."
Stevens emitted one dry sob which represented
her entire emotional capacity, and hastened to ring
up Queen Anne's Gate. Dr. Lansdowne began to
talk directly she left them alone. He told his silent
colleague of an eructation that troubled him after
meals, and of a faint tendency to gout. Then cast
a perfunctory glance at the sofa.
" Pretty woman ! " he said. " All that money,
Peter, suddenly, inexplicably unable to stand,
sank on his knees by the sofa, hid his face in her
dress. Dr. Lansdowne said. " God bless my soul ! "
Peter broke into tears like a girl.
" Come, come, this will never do. Pull yourself
together, or I shall think ... I shan't know what
to think ..."
Peter recovered himself as quickly as he had
collapsed, rose to his feet.
" It was so sudden," he said apologetically. " I
was unprepared ..."
" I could have told you exactly what would hap-
pen. The case could hardly have ended any other
He said a few kind words about himself and his
skill as a diagnostician. Peter listened meekly, and
was rewarded by the offer of a lift home. " You
can come up again later, when the family has ar-
rived, they will be sure to want to know about her
last moments . . . Or I might come myself, tell
them I foresaw it . . "
I WOKE up suddenly. A minute ago I had seen
Peter Kennedy kneeling by the sofa, his head against
Margaret's dress. He had looked young, little more
than a boy. Now he was by my side, bending over
me. There was grey in his hair, lines about his
" You've grown grey," was the first thing I said,
feebly enough I've no doubt, and he did not seem
to hear me. " My arm aches. How could you
" She was so young, so impetuous, everything
might have come right ..."
" She is wandering," he said. I hardly knew to
whom he spoke, but felt the necessity of protest.
" I'm not wandering. Is Ella there ? "
" Of course I am. Is there anything you want ? "
She came over to me.
" I needn't write any more, need I ? I'm so tired."
Ella looked at him as if for instructions, or guid-
ance, and he answered soothingly, as one speaks to
a child or an invalid:
" No, no, certainly not. You need not write un-
til you feel inclined. She has been dreaming," he
It did not seem worth while to contradict him
again. I was not wide-awake yet, but swayed on
the borderland between dreams and reality. Three
people were in the dusk of the well-known room.
They disentangled themselves gradually; Nurse
Benham, Dr. Kennedy, Ella in the easy-chair, Mar-
garet's easy-chair. It was evening and I heard Dr.
Kennedy say that I was better, stronger, that he
did not think it necessary to give me a morphia in-
I am sure I said that, although no one answered
me, and it was as if the words had dissolved in
the twilight of the room. Incidentally I may say I
never had an injection of morphia since that even-
ing. I knew how easy it was to make a mistake with
drugs. So many vials look alike in that small
valise doctors carry. I was either cunning or clever
that night in rejecting it. Afterwards it was only
necessary to be courageous.
I found it difficult in those first few twilight days
of recovering consciousness to separate this Dr.
Kennedy who came in and out of my bedroom from
that other Dr. Kennedy, little more than a boy,
who had wept by the woman he released, the
authoress whose story I had just written. And my
feelings towards him fluctuated considerably. My
convalescence was very slow and difficult, and I
often thought of the solution Margaret Capel had
found, sometimes enviously, at others with a shud-
dering fear. At these times I could not bear that
Dr. Kennedy should touch me, his hand on my
pulse gave me an inward shiver. At others I looked
upon him with the deepest interest, wondering if
he would do as much for me as he had done for
her, if his kindness had this meaning. For he was
kind to me, very kind, and at the beck and call of
my household by night and day. Ella sent for him
if my temperature registered half a point higher or
lower than she anticipated, any symptom or change
of symptom was sufficient to send him a peremptory
message, that he never disregarded. Ella, I could
tell, still suspected us of being in love with each
other, and she dressed me up for his visits. Lacy
underwear, soft chiffony tea-gowns, silken hose and
satin or velvet shoes diverted my weakness into
happier channel and kept her in her right milieu.
Then, not all at once, but gradually and almost
incredibly the whole circumstances changed. Dr.
Kennedy came one day full of excitement to tell
us that a new treatment had been found for my
illness. Five hundred cases had been treated, of
which over four hundred had been cured, the rest
ameliorated. Of course we were sceptical. Other
consultants were called in and, not having suggested
the treatment, damned it wholeheartedly. One or
two grudgingly admitted a certain therapeutic value
in selected cases, but were sure that mine was not
one of them! The medical world is as difficult to
persuade to adventure as an old maid in a provin-
cial town. My own tame general practitioner,
whom I had previously credited with some slight
intelligence, was moved to write to Dr. Kennedy
urging him vehemently to forbear. He was for-
tunate enough to give his reasons, and for me at
least they proved conclusive!
On the 27th of May I took my first dose of
thirty grains of iodide of potassium and spent the
rest of the day washing it down with glasses of
chlorine water masked with lemon. I was still the
complete invalid, going rapidly downhill; on a water
bed, spoon-fed, and reluctantly docile in Benham's
hard, yet capable hands. On the 2/th of June I
was walking about the house. By the 27th of July
I had put on seventeen pounds in weight and had
no longer any doubt of the result. I had found the
dosage at first both nauseous and nauseating. Now
I drank it off as if it had been champagne. Hope
effervesced in every glass. The desire to work
came back, but without the old irritability. Ella,
before she left, said I was more like myself than I
had been for years. Dr. Kennedy had unearthed
this new treatment and she extolled him, notwith-
standing her old prejudices, admitted it was to him
we owed my restoration, yet never ceased to rally
me and comment on the power of love. I agreed
with her in that, knowing hers had saved me even
before the drug began to act. It was for her hand I
had groped in the darkest hour of all. Even now I
remember her passionate avowal that she would
not let me die, my more weakly passionate response
that I could not leave her lonely in the world. Now
we said rude things to each other, as sisters will,
with an intense sense of happiness and absence of
emotion. I criticised Tommy's handwriting, and
she retorted that at least she saw it regularly.
Whilst as for Dennis . . .
But there was no agony there now to be assuaged.
My boy was on his way home and the words he
had written, the cable that he had sent when he
heard of my illness, lay near my heart, too sacred
to show her. I let her think I had not heard from
him. Closer even than a sister lies the tie between
son and mother. Not perhaps between her and her
rough Tommy, her fair Violet, but between me and
my Dennis, my wild erratic genius, who could
nevertheless pen me those words . . . who could
send me the sweetest love letter that has ever been
But this has nothing to do with me and Dr. Peter
Kennedy, and the curious position between us. For
a long time after I began to get well it seemed we
were like two wary wrestlers, watching for a hold.
Only that sometimes he seemed to drop all reserves,
to make an extraordinary rapprochement. I might
flush, call myself a fool, remember my age, but
at these times it would really appear as if Ella had
some reason in her madness, as if he had some per-
sonal interest in me. At these times I found him
nervous, excitable, utterly unlike his professional
self. As for me I had to preserve my equanimity,
ignore or rebuff without disturbing my equilibrium.
I was fully employed in nursing my new-found
strength, swallowing perpetually milk and eggs,
lying for hours on an invalid carriage amid the fad-
ing gorse, reconstructing, rebuilding, making vows.
I had been granted a respite, if not a reprieve, and
had to prove my worthiness. The desire for work
grew irresistible. When I asked for leave he com-
bated me, combated me strenuously.
" You are not strong enough, not nearly strong
enough. You have built up no reserve. You must
put on another stone at least before you can con-
sider yourself out of the wood."
" I won't begin anything new, but that story, the
story I wrote in water ..." I watched him when
I said this. I saw his colour rise and his lips trem-
" Oh, yes. I had forgotten about that." But I
saw he had not forgotten. " You never saw your
midnight visitor again? " he asked me with an at-
tempt at carelessness " Margaret Capel. Do you
remember, in the early days of your illness how
often you spoke of her, how she haunted you?"
He spoke lightly, but there was anxiety in his voice,
and Fear . . . was it Fear I saw in his eyes, or
indecision ? " Since you have begun to get better
you have never mentioned her name. You were
going to write her life . . ."he went on.
" And death," I answered to see what he would
say. We were feinting now, getting closer.
' You know she died of heart disease," he asked
quickly. " There was an inquest ..."
" I saw her die," I answered, not very coolly
or conclusively. His face was very strange and
haggard, and I felt sorry for him.
" How strange and vivid dreams can be. Mor-
phia dreams especially," he replied, rather ques-
tioningly than assertively.
" I thought you agreed mine were not dreams ? "
"Did I? When was that?"
" When you brought me their letters, told me
I was foredoomed to write her story. Hers and
his. I can't think why you did."
"Did I say that?"
" More than once. I suppose you thought I was
not going to get better." He did not answer that
except with his rising colour and confusion, and I
saw now I had hit upon the truth. " I wonder you
gave me the iodide," I said thoughtfully.
" I suppose now you think me capable of every
crime in the calendar? "
That brought us to close quarters, and I took up
" No, I don't. Your hand was forced." Then
I added, I admit more cruelly : " Have you ever
done it again ? "
He had been sitting by my couch in the garden; a
basket-work chair stood there always for him.
Now he got up abruptly, walked away a few steps.
I watched him, then thought of my question, a dozen
others rising in my mind. It was eleven years since
Margaret Capel died and a jury of twelve good men
and true had found that heart disease had been the
cause of death. There had been a rumour of sui-
cide, and, in society, some talk of cause. Absurd
enough, but, as Ella had reminded me, very preva-
lent and widespread. The rising young authoress
was supposed to have been in love with an eminent
politician. His wife died shortly before she started
the long-delayed divorce proceedings against James
Capel, and this gave colour to the rumour. It was
hazarded that he had made it clear to her that re-
marriage was not in his mind. Few people knew
of the real state of affairs. Gabriel Stanton shut
that close mouth of his and told no one. I won-
dered about Gabriel Stanton, but more about Peter
Kennedy, who had walked away from me when I
spoke. What had happened to him in these eleven
years? Into what manner of man had he grown?
He came back presently, sat down again by my
couch, spoke abruptly as if there had been no
" You want to know whether I have ever done
for anybody what I did for Margaret Capel? "
" Yes, that is what I asked you."
" Will you believe me when I tell you? "
" Perhaps. Why did you first encourage me to
write Margaret Capel's life and then try and pre-
vent my doing it? "
" You won't believe me when I tell you."
" Probably not."
" I wanted to know whether she had forgiven
me, whether she was still glad. When you told me
you saw and spoke to her ..."
" It was almost before that, if I remember
" It may have been. Do you remember I said
you were a reincarnation? The first time I came
in and saw you sitting there, at her writing-table,
in her writing-chair, I thought of you as a reincar-
The light in his eyes was rather fitful, strange.
" I was right, wasn't I, Margaret ? " He put a
hand on my knee. I remembered how she had flung
it off under similar circumstances. I let it lie there.
" My name is Jane." It came back to me that I
had said this to him once before.
" You don't care for me at all ? "
" I am glad you thought of the intensive iodide
treatment. It has its advantages over hyoscine."
" You have not changed ? "
" I would rather like you to remember this is
the twentieth century."
He sighed and took his hand off my knee, drew
it across his forehead.
" You don't know what the last few months have
meant to me, coming up here again, every day or
twice a day, taking care of you, giving you back
those letters, knowing you knew ..."
" You had not the temptation to rid yourself of
" You have grown so cold. I suppose you would
not look at the idea of marrying me ? "
" You suppose quite correctly," I answered,
thinking of Ella, and what a score this would
be to her.
" It would make everything so right. I have
been thinking of this ever since you began to get
better, before, too. You will always be delicate,
need a certain amount of care. No one could give
it to you as well as I. Why not ? I have almost the
best practice in Pineland, and I deserve it, too.
I've worked hard in these eleven years. I've given
an honest scientific trial to every new treatment.
I've saved scores of lives ..."
" Your own in jeopardy all the time."
" She asked me to do it, begged me to do it . . . "
He spoke wildly. " Gabriel Stanton was inflex-
ible, the marriage was to be postponed whilst Mrs.
Roope was prosecuted, or the case fought out in
the Law Courts. And every little anxiety or ex-
citement set her poor heart beating . . . put her
in pain . . . jeopardised her life. I'd do it again
tomorrow. I don't care who knows. You'll have
to tell if you want to. If you married me you
couldn't give evidence against me . . ."
His smile startled me; it was strange, cunning.
It seemed to say, " See how clever I am, I have
thought of everything."
" There, I have had that in my .mind ever since
you began to be better."
" It was not because you have fallen in love with
me, then?" I scoffed.
" When you are Margaret, I love you ... I
adore you." The whole secret flashed on me then,
flashed through his strange perfervid eyes. We
were in full view of a curious housemaid at a win-
dow, but he kneeled down by my couch, as he had
kneeled by Margaret's.
" You are Margaret. Tell me the truth. There
is no other fellow now. You always said if it were
not for Gabriel Stanton . . ."
I quieted him with difficulty. I saw what was the
matter. Of course I ought to have seen it before,
but vanity and Ella obscured the truth. The poor
fellow's mind was unhinged. For years he had
brooded and brooded, yet worked magnificently at
his profession, worked at making amends. The
place and I had brought out the latent mischief.
Now he implored me to marry him, to show him I
was glad he had carried out my wishes.
" Your heart is now quite well ... I have
sounded it over and over again. You will never
have a return of those pains. Margaret ..."
I got rid of him that day as quickly as possible,
not answering yes or no definitely, marking time,
soothing him disingenuously. Before the next day
was at its meridian I had hurriedly left Carbies.
Left Pineland, all the strange absorbing story, and
this poor obsessed doctor. I left a letter for him, the
most difficult piece of prose I have ever written. I
was writing to a madman to persuade him he was
sane ! I gave urgent reasons for being in London,
added a few lines, that I hoped he would under-
stand, about having abandoned my intention of
turning my morphia dreams into "copy"; tried to
convey to him that he had nothing to fear from
I never had an answer to my letter. I parried
Ella's raillery, resumed my old life. But I could
not forget my country practitioner nor what I owed
him. A peculiar tenderness lingered. However I
might try to disguise names and places he would
read through the lines. It was difficult to say what
would be the effect on his mind and I would not take
the risk. I held over my story as long as I was
able, even wrote another meantime. But three
months ago I became a free woman. I read in the
obituary column of my morning paper that Peter
Kennedy, M.D., F.R.C.S., of Pineland, Isle of
Wight, had died from the effects of a motor acci-
The obituary notices were very handsome and
raised him from the obscurity of a mere country
practitioner. It mentioned the distinguished per-
sons he had had under his care. The late Margaret
Capel, for instance. But not myself! I suspected
Dr. Lansdowne of having sent the notices to the
press, his name occurred in all of them, the part-
nership was bugled.
Peter Kennedy died well. He was driving his
car quickly on an urgent night call. Some strange
cur frisked into the road and to avoid it he swerved
suddenly. Death must have been instantaneous. I
was glad that he died without pain. I had rather
he was alive today, although my story had remained
for ever unwritten. So few people have ever cared
for me. Had I chosen I do believe his reincarnation
theory would have held. And I should have had
at least one lover to oppose to Ella's many!