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A Laodicean by Thomas Hardy

Part 3 out of 10

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the permanent way. The ideas of both had been so centred on
the tunnel as the source of danger, that the probability of a
train from the opposite quarter had been forgotten. It rushed
past them, causing Paula's dress, hair, and ribbons to flutter
violently, and blowing up the fallen leaves in a shower over
their shoulders.

Neither spoke, and they went up several steps, holding each
other by the hand, till, becoming conscious of the fact, she
withdrew hers; whereupon Somerset stopped and looked earnestly
at her; but her eyes were averted towards the tunnel wall.

'What an escape!' he said.

'We were not so very near, I think, were we?' she asked
quickly. 'If we were, I think you were--very good to take my
hand.'

They reached the top at last, and the new level and open air
seemed to give her a new mind. 'I don't see the carriage
anywhere,' she said, in the common tones of civilization.

He thought it had gone over the crest of the hill; he would
accompany her till they reached it.

'No--please--I would rather not--I can find it very well.'
Before he could say more she had inclined her head and smiled
and was on her way alone.

The tunnel-cutting appeared a dreary gulf enough now to the
young man, as he stood leaning over the rails above it,
beating the herbage with his stick. For some minutes he could
not criticize or weigh her conduct; the warmth of her presence
still encircled him. He recalled her face as it had looked
out at him from under the white silk puffing of her black hat,
and the speaking power of her eyes at the moment of danger.
The breadth of that clear-complexioned forehead--almost
concealed by the masses of brown hair bundled up around it--
signified that if her disposition were oblique and insincere
enough for trifling, coquetting, or in any way making a fool
of him, she had the intellect to do it cruelly well.

But it was ungenerous to ruminate so suspiciously. A girl not
an actress by profession could hardly turn pale artificially
as she had done, though perhaps mere fright meant nothing, and
would have arisen in her just as readily had he been one of
the labourers on her estate.

The reflection that such feeling as she had exhibited could
have no tender meaning returned upon him with masterful force
when he thought of her wealth and the social position into
which she had drifted. Somerset, being of a solitary and
studious nature, was not quite competent to estimate precisely
the disqualifying effect, if any, of her nonconformity, her
newness of blood, and other things, among the old county
families established round her; but the toughest prejudices,
he thought, were not likely to be long invulnerable to such
cheerful beauty and brightness of intellect as Paula's. When
she emerged, as she was plainly about to do, from the
seclusion in which she had been living since her father's
death, she would inevitably win her way among her neighbours.
She would become the local topic. Fortune-hunters would learn
of her existence and draw near in shoals. What chance would
there then be for him?

The points in his favour were indeed few, but they were just
enough to keep a tantalizing hope alive. Modestly leaving out
of count his personal and intellectual qualifications, he
thought of his family. It was an old stock enough, though not
a rich one. His great-uncle had been the well-known Vice-
admiral Sir Armstrong Somerset, who served his country well in
the Baltic, the Indies, China, and the Caribbean Sea. His
grandfather had been a notable metaphysician. His father, the
Royal Academician, was popular. But perhaps this was not the
sort of reasoning likely to occupy the mind of a young woman;
the personal aspect of the situation was in such circumstances
of far more import. He had come as a wandering stranger--that
possibly lent some interest to him in her eyes. He was
installed in an office which would necessitate free communion
with her for some time to come; that was another advantage,
and would be a still greater one if she showed, as Paula
seemed disposed to do, such artistic sympathy with his work as
to follow up with interest the details of its progress.

The carriage did not reappear, and he went on towards Markton,
disinclined to return again that day to the studio which had
been prepared for him at the castle. He heard feet brushing
the grass behind him, and, looking round, saw the Baptist
minister.

'I have just come from the village,' said Mr. Woodwell, who
looked worn and weary, his boots being covered with dust; 'and
I have learnt that which confirms my fears for her.'

'For Miss Power?'

'Most assuredly.'

'What danger is there?' said Somerset.

'The temptations of her position have become too much for her!
She is going out of mourning next week, and will give a large
dinner-party on the occasion; for though the invitations are
partly in the name of her relative Mrs. Goodman, they must
come from her. The guests are to include people of old
cavalier families who would have treated her grandfather, sir,
and even her father, with scorn for their religion and
connections; also the parson and curate--yes, actually people
who believe in the Apostolic Succession; and what's more,
they're coming. My opinion is, that it has all arisen from
her friendship with Miss De Stancy.'

'Well,' cried Somerset warmly, 'this only shows liberality of
feeling on both sides! I suppose she has invited you as
well?'

'She has not invited me!. . . Mr. Somerset, not withstanding
your erroneous opinions on important matters, I speak to you
as a friend, and I tell you that she has never in her secret
heart forgiven that sermon of mine, in which I likened her to
the church at Laodicea. I admit the words were harsh, but I
was doing my duty, and if the case arose to-morrow I would do
it again. Her displeasure is a deep grief to me; but I serve
One greater than she. . . . You, of course, are invited to
this dinner?'

'I have heard nothing of it,' murmured the young man.

Their paths diverged; and when Somerset reached the hotel he
was informed that somebody was waiting to see him.

'Man or woman?' he asked.

The landlady, who always liked to reply in person to
Somerset's inquiries, apparently thinking him, by virtue of
his drawing implements and liberality of payment, a possible
lord of Burleigh, came forward and said it was certainly not a
woman, but whether man or boy she could not say. 'His name is
Mr. Dare,' she added.

'O--that youth,' he said.

Somerset went upstairs, along the passage, down two steps,
round the angle, and so on to the rooms reserved for him in
this rambling edifice of stage-coach memories, where he found
Dare waiting. Dare came forward, pulling out the cutting of
an advertisement.

'Mr. Somerset, this is yours, I believe, from the
Architectural World?'

Somerset said that he had inserted it.

'I think I should suit your purpose as assistant very well.'

'Are you an architect's draughtsman?'

'Not specially. I have some knowledge of the same, and want
to increase it.'

'I thought you were a photographer.'

'Also of photography,' said Dare with a bow. 'Though but an
amateur in that art I can challenge comparison with Regent
Street or Broadway.'

Somerset looked upon his table. Two letters only, addressed
in initials, were lying there as answers to his advertisement.
He asked Dare to wait, and looked them over. Neither was
satisfactory. On this account he overcame his slight feeling
against Mr. Dare, and put a question to test that gentleman's
capacities. 'How would you measure the front of a building,
including windows, doors, mouldings, and every other feature,
for a ground plan, so as to combine the greatest accuracy with
the greatest despatch?'

'In running dimensions,' said Dare.

As this was the particular kind of work he wanted done,
Somerset thought the answer promising. Coming to terms with
Dare, he requested the would-be student of architecture to
wait at the castle the next day, and dismissed him.

A quarter of an hour later, when Dare was taking a walk in the
country, he drew from his pocket eight other letters addressed
to Somerset in initials, which, to judge by their style and
stationery, were from men far superior to those two whose
communications alone Somerset had seen. Dare looked them over
for a few seconds as he strolled on, then tore them into
minute fragments, and, burying them under the leaves in the
ditch, went on his way again.

XIII.

Though exhibiting indifference, Somerset had felt a pang of
disappointment when he heard the news of Paula's approaching
dinner-party. It seemed a little unkind of her to pass him
over, seeing how much they were thrown together just now.
That dinner meant more than it sounded. Notwithstanding the
roominess of her castle, she was at present living somewhat
incommodiously, owing partly to the stagnation caused by her
recent bereavement, and partly to the necessity for
overhauling the De Stancy lumber piled in those vast and
gloomy chambers before they could be made tolerable to
nineteenth-century fastidiousness.

To give dinners on any large scale before Somerset had at
least set a few of these rooms in order for her, showed, to
his thinking, an overpowering desire for society.

During the week he saw less of her than usual, her time being
to all appearance much taken up with driving out to make calls
on her neighbours and receiving return visits. All this he
observed from the windows of his studio overlooking the castle
ward, in which room he now spent a great deal of his time,
bending over drawing-boards and instructing Dare, who worked
as well as could be expected of a youth of such varied
attainments.

Nearer came the Wednesday of the party, and no hint of that
event reached Somerset, but such as had been communicated by
the Baptist minister. At last, on the very afternoon, an
invitation was handed into his studio--not a kind note in
Paula's handwriting, but a formal printed card in the joint
names of Mrs. Goodman and Miss Power. It reached him just
four hours before the dinner-time. He was plainly to be used
as a stop-gap at the last moment because somebody could not
come.

Having previously arranged to pass a quiet evening in his
rooms at the Lord Quantock Arms, in reading up chronicles of
the castle from the county history, with the view of gathering
some ideas as to the distribution of rooms therein before the
demolition of a portion of the structure, he decided off-hand
that Paula's dinner was not of sufficient importance to him as
a professional man and student of art to justify a waste of
the evening by going. He accordingly declined Mrs. Goodman's
and Miss Power's invitation; and at five o'clock left the
castle and walked across the fields to the little town.

He dined early, and, clearing away heaviness with a cup of
coffee, applied himself to that volume of the county history
which contained the record of Stancy Castle.

Here he read that 'when this picturesque and ancient structure
was founded, or by whom, is extremely uncertain. But that a
castle stood on the site in very early times appears from many
old books of charters. In its prime it was such a masterpiece
of fortification as to be the wonder of the world, and it was
thought, before the invention of gunpowder, that it never
could be taken by any force less than divine.'

He read on to the times when it first passed into the hands of
'De Stancy, Chivaler,' and received the family name, and so on
from De Stancy to De Stancy till he was lost in the reflection
whether Paula would or would not have thought more highly of
him if he had accepted the invitation to dinner. Applying
himself again to the tome, he learned that in the year 1504
Stephen the carpenter was 'paid eleven pence for necessarye
repayrs,' and William the mastermason eight shillings 'for
whyt lyming of the kitchen, and the lyme to do it with,'
including 'a new rope for the fyer bell;' also the sundry
charges for 'vij crockes, xiij lytyll pans, a pare of pot
hookes, a fyer pane, a lanterne, a chafynge dyshe, and xij
candyll stychs.'

Bang went eight strokes of the clock: it was the dinner-hour.

'There, now I can't go, anyhow!' he said bitterly, jumping up,
and picturing her receiving her company. How would she look;
what would she wear? Profoundly indifferent to the early
history of the noble fabric, he felt a violent reaction
towards modernism, eclecticism, new aristocracies, everything,
in short, that Paula represented. He even gave himself up to
consider the Greek court that she had wished for, and passed
the remainder of the evening in making a perspective view of
the same.

The next morning he awoke early, and, resolving to be at work
betimes, started promptly. It was a fine calm hour of day;
the grass slopes were silvery with excess of dew, and the blue
mists hung in the depths of each tree for want of wind to blow
them out. Somerset entered the drive on foot, and when near
the castle he observed in the gravel the wheel-marks of the
carriages that had conveyed the guests thither the night
before. There seemed to have been a large number, for the
road where newly repaired was quite cut up. Before going
indoors he was tempted to walk round to the wing in which
Paula slept.

Rooks were cawing, sparrows were chattering there; but the
blind of her window was as closely drawn as if it were
midnight. Probably she was sound asleep, dreaming of the
compliments which had been paid her by her guests, and of the
future triumphant pleasures that would follow in their train.
Reaching the outer stone stairs leading to the great hall he
found them shadowed by an awning brilliantly striped with red
and blue, within which rows of flowering plants in pots
bordered the pathway. She could not have made more
preparation had the gathering been a ball. He passed along
the gallery in which his studio was situated, entered the
room, and seized a drawing-board to put into correct drawing
the sketch for the Greek court that he had struck out the
night before, thereby abandoning his art principles to please
the whim of a girl. Dare had not yet arrived, and after a
time Somerset threw down his pencil and leant back.

His eye fell upon something that moved. It was white, and lay
in the folding chair on the opposite side of the room. On
near approach he found it to be a fragment of swan's-down
fanned into motion by his own movements, and partially
squeezed into the chink of the chair as though by some person
sitting on it.

None but a woman would have worn or brought that swan's-down
into his studio, and it made him reflect on the possible one.
Nothing interrupted his conjectures till ten o'clock, when
Dare came. Then one of the servants tapped at the door to
know if Mr. Somerset had arrived. Somerset asked if Miss
Power wished to see him, and was informed that she had only
wished to know if he had come. Somerset sent a return message
that he had a design on the board which he should soon be glad
to submit to her, and the messenger departed.

'Fine doings here last night, sir,' said Dare, as he dusted
his T-square.

'O indeed!'

'A dinner-party, I hear; eighteen guests.'

'Ah,' said Somerset.

'The young lady was magnificent--sapphires and opals--she
carried as much as a thousand pounds upon her head and
shoulders during that three or four hour. Of course they call
her charming; Compuesta no hay muger fea, as they say at
Madrid.'

'I don't doubt it for a moment,' said Somerset, with reserve.

Dare said no more, and presently the door opened, and there
stood Paula.

Somerset nodded to Dare to withdraw into an adjoining room,
and offered her a chair.

'You wish to show me the design you have prepared?' she asked,
without taking the seat.

'Yes; I have come round to your opinion. I have made a plan
for the Greek court you were anxious to build.' And he
elevated the drawing-board against the wall.

She regarded it attentively for some moments, her finger
resting lightly against her chin, and said, 'I have given up
the idea of a Greek court.'

He showed his astonishment, and was almost disappointed. He
had been grinding up Greek architecture entirely on her
account; had wrenched his mind round to this strange
arrangement, all for nothing.

'Yes,' she continued; 'on reconsideration I perceive the want
of harmony that would result from inserting such a piece of
marble-work in a mediaeval fortress; so in future we will
limit ourselves strictly to synchronism of style--that is to
say, make good the Norman work by Norman, the Perpendicular by
Perpendicular, and so on. I have informed Mr. Havill of the
same thing.'

Somerset pulled the Greek drawing off the board, and tore it
in two pieces.

She involuntarily turned to look in his face, but stopped
before she had quite lifted her eyes high enough. 'Why did
you do that?' she asked with suave curiosity.

'It is of no further use,' said Somerset, tearing the drawing
in the other direction, and throwing the pieces into the
fireplace. 'You have been reading up orders and styles to
some purpose, I perceive.' He regarded her with a faint
smile.

'I have had a few books down from town. It is desirable to
know a little about the architecture of one's own house.'

She remained looking at the torn drawing, when Somerset,
observing on the table the particle of swan's-down he had
found in the chair, gently blew it so that it skimmed across
the table under her eyes.

'It looks as if it came off a lady's dress,' he said idly.

'Off a lady's fan,' she replied.

'O, off a fan?'

'Yes; off mine.'

At her reply Somerset stretched out his hand for the swan's-
down, and put it carefully in his pocket-book; whereupon
Paula, moulding her cherry-red lower lip beneath her upper one
in arch self-consciousness at his act, turned away to the
window, and after a pause said softly as she looked out, 'Why
did you not accept our invitation to dinner?'

It was impossible to explain why. He impulsively drew near
and confronted her, and said, 'I hope you pardon me?'

'I don't know that I can quite do that,' answered she, with
ever so little reproach. 'I know why you did not come--you
were mortified at not being asked sooner! But it was purely
by an accident that you received your invitation so late. My
aunt sent the others by post, but as yours was to be delivered
by hand it was left on her table, and was overlooked.'

Surely he could not doubt her words; those nice friendly
accents were the embodiment of truth itself.

'I don't mean to make a serious complaint,' she added, in
injured tones, showing that she did. 'Only we had asked
nearly all of them to meet you, as the son of your illustrious
father, whom many of my friends know personally; and--they
were disappointed.'

It was now time for Somerset to be genuinely grieved at what
he had done. Paula seemed so good and honourable at that
moment that he could have laid down his life for her.

'When I was dressed, I came in here to ask you to reconsider
your decision,' she continued; 'or to meet us in the drawing-
room if you could not possibly be ready for dinner. But you
were gone.'

'And you sat down in that chair, didn't you, darling, and
remained there a long time musing!' he thought. But that he
did not say.

'I am very sorry,' he murmured.

'Will you make amends by coming to our garden party? I ask
you the very first.'

'I will,' replied Somerset. To add that it would give him
great pleasure, etc., seemed an absurdly weak way of
expressing his feelings, and he said no more.

'It is on the nineteenth. Don't forget the day.'

He met her eyes in such a way that, if she were woman, she
must have seen it to mean as plainly as words: 'Do I look as
if I could forget anything you say?'

She must, indeed, have understood much more by this time--the
whole of his open secret. But he did not understand her.
History has revealed that a supernumerary lover or two is
rarely considered a disadvantage by a woman, from queen to
cottage-girl; and the thought made him pause.

XIV.

When she was gone he went on with the drawing, not calling in
Dare, who remained in the room adjoining. Presently a servant
came and laid a paper on his table, which Miss Power had sent.
It was one of the morning newspapers, and was folded so that
his eye fell immediately on a letter headed 'Restoration or
Demolition.'

The letter was professedly written by a dispassionate person
solely in the interests of art. It drew attention to the
circumstance that the ancient and interesting castle of the De
Stancys had unhappily passed into the hands of an iconoclast
by blood, who, without respect for the tradition of the
county, or any feeling whatever for history in stone, was
about to demolish much, if not all, that was interesting in
that ancient pile, and insert in its midst a monstrous
travesty of some Greek temple. In the name of all lovers of
mediaeval art, conjured the simple-minded writer, let
something be done to save a building which, injured and
battered in the Civil Wars, was now to be made a complete ruin
by the freaks of an irresponsible owner. Her sending him the
paper seemed to imply that she required his opinion on the
case; and in the afternoon, leaving Dare to measure up a wing
according to directions, he went out in the hope of meeting
her, having learnt that she had gone to the village. On
reaching the church he saw her crossing the churchyard path
with her aunt and Miss De Stancy. Somerset entered the
enclosure, and as soon as she saw him she came across.

'What is to be done?' she asked.

'You need not be concerned about such a letter as that.'

'I am concerned.'

'I think it dreadful impertinence,' spoke up Charlotte, who
had joined them. 'Can you think who wrote it, Mr. Somerset?'

Somerset could not.

'Well, what am I to do?' repeated Paula.

'Just as you would have done before.'

'That's what _I_ say,' observed Mrs. Goodman emphatically.

'But I have already altered--I have given up the Greek court.'

'O--you had seen the paper this morning before you looked at
my drawing?'

'I had,' she answered.

Somerset thought it a forcible illustration of her natural
reticence that she should have abandoned the design without
telling him the reason; but he was glad she had not done it
from mere caprice.

She turned to him and said quietly, 'I wish YOU would answer
that letter.'

'It would be ill-advised,' said Somerset. 'Still, if, after
consideration, you wish it much, I will. Meanwhile let me
impress upon you again the expediency of calling in Mr.
Havill--to whom, as your father's architect, expecting this
commission, something perhaps is owed--and getting him to
furnish an alternative plan to mine, and submitting the choice
of designs to some members of the Royal Institute of British
Architects. This letter makes it still more advisable than
before.'

'Very well,' said Paula reluctantly.

'Let him have all the particulars you have been good enough to
explain to me--so that we start fair in the competition.'

She looked negligently on the grass. 'I will tell the
building steward to write them out for him,' she said.

The party separated and entered the church by different doors.
Somerset went to a nook of the building that he had often
intended to visit. It was called the Stancy aisle; and in it
stood the tombs of that family. Somerset examined them: they
were unusually rich and numerous, beginning with cross-legged
knights in hauberks of chain-mail, their ladies beside them in
wimple and cover-chief, all more or less coated with the green
mould and dirt of ages: and continuing with others of later
date, in fine alabaster, gilded and coloured, some of them
wearing round their necks the Yorkist collar of suns and
roses, the livery of Edward the Fourth. In scrutinizing the
tallest canopy over these he beheld Paula behind it, as if in
contemplation of the same objects.

'You came to the church to sketch these monuments, I suppose,
Mr. Somerset?' she asked, as soon as she saw him.

'No. I came to speak to you about the letter.'

She sighed. 'Yes: that letter,' she said. 'I am persecuted!
If I had been one of these it would never have been written.'
She tapped the alabaster effigy of a recumbent lady with her
parasol.

'They are interesting, are they not?' he said. 'She is
beautifully preserved. The gilding is nearly gone, but beyond
that she is perfect.'

'She is like Charlotte,' said Paula. And what was much like
another sigh escaped her lips.

Somerset admitted that there was a resemblance, while Paula
drew her forefinger across the marble face of the effigy, and
at length took out her handkerchief, and began wiping the dust
from the hollows of the features. He looked on, wondering
what her sigh had meant, but guessing that it had been somehow
caused by the sight of these sculptures in connection with the
newspaper writer's denunciation of her as an irresponsible
outsider.

The secret was out when in answer to his question, idly put,
if she wished she were like one of these, she said, with
exceptional vehemence for one of her demeanour--

'I don't wish I was like one of them: I wish I WAS one of
them.'

'What--you wish you were a De Stancy?'

'Yes. It is very dreadful to be denounced as a barbarian. I
want to be romantic and historical.'

'Miss De Stancy seems not to value the privilege,' he said,
looking round at another part of the church where Charlotte
was innocently prattling to Mrs. Goodman, quite heedless of
the tombs of her forefathers.

'If I were one,' she continued, 'I should come here when I
feel alone in the world, as I do to-day; and I would defy
people, and say, "You cannot spoil what has been!"'

They walked on till they reached the old black pew attached to
the castle--a vast square enclosure of oak panelling occupying
half the aisle, and surmounted with a little balustrade above
the framework. Within, the baize lining that had once been
green, now faded to the colour of a common in August, was
torn, kicked and scraped to rags by the feet and hands of the
ploughboys who had appropriated the pew as their own special
place of worship since it had ceased to be used by any
resident at the castle, because its height afforded convenient
shelter for playing at marbles and pricking with pins.

Charlotte and Mrs. Goodman had by this time left the building,
and could be seen looking at the headstones outside.

'If you were a De Stancy,' said Somerset, who had pondered
more deeply upon that new wish of hers than he had seemed to
do, 'you would be a churchwoman, and sit here.'

'And I should have the pew done up,' she said readily, as she
rested her pretty chin on the top rail and looked at the
interior, her cheeks pressed into deep dimples. Her quick
reply told him that the idea was no new one with her, and he
thought of poor Mr. Woodwell's shrewd prophecy as he perceived
that her days as a separatist were numbered.

'Well, why can't you have it done up, and sit here?' he said
warily.

Paula shook her head.

'You are not at enmity with Anglicanism, I am sure?'

'I want not to be. I want to be--what--'

'What the De Stancys were, and are,' he said insidiously; and
her silenced bearing told him that he had hit the nail.

It was a strange idea to get possession of such a nature as
hers, and for a minute he felt himself on the side of the
minister. So strong was Somerset's feeling of wishing her to
show the quality of fidelity to paternal dogma and party, that
he could not help adding--

'But have you forgotten that other nobility--the nobility of
talent and enterprise?'

'No. But I wish I had a well-known line of ancestors.'

'You have. Archimedes, Newcomen, Watt, Telford, Stephenson,
those are your father's direct ancestors. Have you forgotten
them? Have you forgotten your father, and the railways he
made over half Europe, and his great energy and skill, and all
connected with him as if he had never lived?'

She did not answer for some time. 'No, I have not forgotten
it,' she said, still looking into the pew. 'But, I have a
predilection d'artiste for ancestors of the other sort, like
the De Stancys.'

Her hand was resting on the low pew next the high one of the
De Stancys. Somerset looked at the hand, or rather at the
glove which covered it, then at her averted cheek, then beyond
it into the pew, then at her hand again, until by an
indescribable consciousness that he was not going too far he
laid his own upon it.

'No, no,' said Paula quickly, withdrawing her hand. But there
was nothing resentful or haughty in her tone--nothing, in
short, which makes a man in such circumstances feel that he
has done a particularly foolish action.

The flower on her bosom rose and fell somewhat more than usual
as she added, 'I am going away now--I will leave you here.'
Without waiting for a reply she adroitly swept back her skirts
to free her feet and went out of the church blushing.

Somerset took her hint and did not follow; and when he knew
that she had rejoined her friends, and heard the carriage roll
away, he made towards the opposite door. Pausing to glance
once more at the alabaster effigies before leaving them to
their silence and neglect, he beheld Dare bending over them,
to all appearance intently occupied.

He must have been in the church some time--certainly during
the tender episode between Somerset and Paula, and could not
have failed to perceive it. Somerset blushed: it was
unpleasant that Dare should have seen the interior of his
heart so plainly. He went across and said, 'I think I left
you to finish the drawing of the north wing, Mr. Dare?'

'Three hours ago, sir,' said Dare. 'Having finished that, I
came to look at the church--fine building--fine monuments--two
interesting people looking at them.'

'What?'

'I stand corrected. Pensa molto, parla poco, as the Italians
have it.'

'Well, now, Mr. Dare, suppose you get back to the castle?'

'Which history dubs Castle Stancy. . . . Certainly.'

'How do you get on with the measuring?'

Dare sighed whimsically. 'Badly in the morning, when I have
been tempted to indulge overnight, and worse in the afternoon,
when I have been tempted in the morning!'

Somerset looked at the youth, and said, 'I fear I shall have
to dispense with your services, Dare, for I think you have
been tempted to-day.'

'On my honour no. My manner is a little against me, Mr.
Somerset. But you need not fear for my ability to do your
work. I am a young man wasted, and am thought of slight
account: it is the true men who get snubbed, while traitors
are allowed to thrive!'

'Hang sentiment, Dare, and off with you!' A little ruffled,
Somerset had turned his back upon the interesting speaker, so
that he did not observe the sly twist Dare threw into his
right eye as he spoke. The latter went off in one direction
and Somerset in the other, pursuing his pensive way towards
Markton with thoughts not difficult to divine.

From one point in her nature he went to another, till he again
recurred to her romantic interest in the De Stancy family. To
wish she was one of them: how very inconsistent of her. That
she really did wish it was unquestionable.

XV.

It was the day of the garden-party. The weather was too
cloudy to be called perfect, but it was as sultry as the most
thinly-clad young lady could desire. Great trouble had been
taken by Paula to bring the lawn to a fit condition after the
neglect of recent years, and Somerset had suggested the design
for the tents. As he approached the precincts of the castle
he discerned a flag of newest fabric floating over the keep,
and soon his fly fell in with the stream of carriages that
were passing over the bridge into the outer ward.

Mrs. Goodman and Paula were receiving the people in the
drawing-room. Somerset came forward in his turn; but as he
was immediately followed by others there was not much
opportunity, even had she felt the wish, for any special mark
of feeling in the younger lady's greeting of him.

He went on through a canvas passage, lined on each side with
flowering plants, till he reached the tents; thence, after
nodding to one or two guests slightly known to him, he
proceeded to the grounds, with a sense of being rather lonely.
Few visitors had as yet got so far in, and as he walked up and
down a shady alley his mind dwelt upon the new aspect under
which Paula had greeted his eyes that afternoon. Her black-
and-white costume had finally disappeared, and in its place
she had adopted a picturesque dress of ivory white, with satin
enrichments of the same hue; while upon her bosom she wore a
blue flower. Her days of infestivity were plainly ended, and
her days of gladness were to begin.

His reverie was interrupted by the sound of his name, and
looking round he beheld Havill, who appeared to be as much
alone as himself.

Somerset already knew that Havill had been appointed to
compete with him, according to his recommendation. In
measuring a dark corner a day or two before, he had stumbled
upon Havill engaged in the same pursuit with a view to the
rival design. Afterwards he had seen him receiving Paula's
instructions precisely as he had done himself. It was as he
had wished, for fairness' sake: and yet he felt a regret, for
he was less Paula's own architect now.

'Well, Mr. Somerset,' said Havill, 'since we first met an
unexpected rivalry has arisen between us! But I dare say we
shall survive the contest, as it is not one arising out of
love. Ha-ha-ha!' He spoke in a level voice of fierce
pleasantry, and uncovered his regular white teeth.

Somerset supposed him to allude to the castle competition?

'Yes,' said Havill. 'Her proposed undertaking brought out
some adverse criticism till it was known that she intended to
have more than one architectural opinion. An excellent stroke
of hers to disarm criticism. You saw the second letter in the
morning papers?'

'No,' said the other.

'The writer states that he has discovered that the competent
advice of two architects is to be taken, and withdraws his
accusations.'

Somerset said nothing for a minute. 'Have you been supplied
with the necessary data for your drawings?' he asked, showing
by the question the track his thoughts had taken.

Havill said that he had. 'But possibly not so completely as
you have,' he added, again smiling fiercely. Somerset did not
quite like the insinuation, and the two speakers parted, the
younger going towards the musicians, who had now begun to fill
the air with their strains from the embowered enclosure of a
drooping ash. When he got back to the marquees they were
quite crowded, and the guests began to pour out upon the
grass, the toilets of the ladies presenting a brilliant
spectacle--here being coloured dresses with white devices,
there white dresses with coloured devices, and yonder
transparent dresses with no device at all. A lavender haze
hung in the air, the trees were as still as those of a
submarine forest; while the sun, in colour like a brass
plaque, had a hairy outline in the livid sky.

After watching awhile some young people who were so madly
devoted to lawn-tennis that they set about it like day-
labourers at the moment of their arrival, he turned and saw
approaching a graceful figure in cream-coloured hues, whose
gloves lost themselves beneath her lace ruffles, even when she
lifted her hand to make firm the blue flower at her breast,
and whose hair hung under her hat in great knots so well
compacted that the sun gilded the convexity of each knot like
a ball.

'You seem to be alone,' said Paula, who had at last escaped
from the duty of receiving guests.

'I don't know many people.'

'Yes: I thought of that while I was in the drawing-room. But
I could not get out before. I am now no longer a responsible
being: Mrs. Goodman is mistress for the remainder of the day.
Will you be introduced to anybody? Whom would you like to
know?'

'I am not particularly unhappy in my solitude.'

'But you must be made to know a few.'

'Very well--I submit readily.'

She looked away from him, and while he was observing upon her
cheek the moving shadow of leaves cast by the declining sun,
she said, 'O, there is my aunt,' and beckoned with her parasol
to that lady, who approached in the comparatively youthful
guise of a grey silk dress that whistled at every touch.

Paula left them together, and Mrs. Goodman then made him
acquainted with a few of the best people, describing what they
were in a whisper before they came up, among them being the
Radical member for Markton, who had succeeded to the seat
rendered vacant by the death of Paula's father. While talking
to this gentleman on the proposed enlargement of the castle,
Somerset raised his eyes and hand towards the walls, the
better to point out his meaning; in so doing he saw a face in
the square of darkness formed by one of the open windows, the
effect being that of a highlight portrait by Vandyck or
Rembrandt.

It was his assistant Dare, leaning on the window-sill of the
studio, as he smoked his cigarette and surveyed the gay groups
promenading beneath.

After holding a chattering conversation with some ladies from
a neighbouring country seat who had known his father in bygone
years, and handing them ices and strawberries till they were
satisfied, he found an opportunity of leaving the grounds,
wishing to learn what progress Dare had made in the survey of
the castle.

Dare was still in the studio when he entered. Somerset
informed the youth that there was no necessity for his working
later that day, unless to please himself, and proceeded to
inspect Dare's achievements thus far. To his vexation Dare
had not plotted three dimensions during the previous two days.
This was not the first time that Dare, either from
incompetence or indolence, had shown his inutility as a house-
surveyor and draughtsman.

'Mr. Dare,' said Somerset, 'I fear you don't suit me well
enough to make it necessary that you should stay after this
week.'

Dare removed the cigarette from his lips and bowed. 'If I
don't suit, the sooner I go the better; why wait the week?' he
said.

'Well, that's as you like.'

Somerset drew the inkstand towards him, wrote out a cheque for
Dare's services, and handed it across the table.

'I'll not trouble you to-morrow,' said Dare, seeing that the
payment included the week in advance.

'Very well,' replied Somerset. 'Please lock the door when you
leave.' Shaking hands with Dare and wishing him well, he left
the room and descended to the lawn below.

There he contrived to get near Miss Power again, and inquired
of her for Miss De Stancy.

'O! did you not know?' said Paula; 'her father is unwell, and
she preferred staying with him this afternoon.'

'I hoped he might have been here.'

'O no; he never comes out of his house to any party of this
sort; it excites him, and he must not be excited.'

'Poor Sir William!' muttered Somerset.

'No,' said Paula, 'he is grand and historical.'

'That is hardly an orthodox notion for a Puritan,' said
Somerset mischievously.

'I am not a Puritan,' insisted Paula.

The day turned to dusk, and the guests began going in relays
to the dining-hall. When Somerset had taken in two or three
ladies to whom he had been presented, and attended to their
wants, which occupied him three-quarters of an hour, he
returned again to the large tent, with a view to finding Paula
and taking his leave. It was now brilliantly lighted up, and
the musicians, who during daylight had been invisible behind
the ash-tree, were ensconced at one end with their harps and
violins. It reminded him that there was to be dancing. The
tent had in the meantime half filled with a new set of young
people who had come expressly for that pastime. Behind the
girls gathered numbers of newly arrived young men with low
shoulders and diminutive moustaches, who were evidently
prepared for once to sacrifice themselves as partners.

Somerset felt something of a thrill at the sight. He was an
infrequent dancer, and particularly unprepared for dancing at
present; but to dance once with Paula Power he would give a
year of his life. He looked round; but she was nowhere to be
seen. The first set began; old and middle-aged people
gathered from the different rooms to look on at the gyrations
of their children, but Paula did not appear. When another
dance or two had progressed, and an increase in the average
age of the dancers was making itself perceptible, especially
on the masculine side, Somerset was aroused by a whisper at
his elbow--

'You dance, I think? Miss Deverell is disengaged. She has
not been asked once this evening.' The speaker was Paula.

Somerset looked at Miss Deverell--a sallow lady with black
twinkling eyes, yellow costume, and gay laugh, who had been
there all the afternoon--and said something about having
thought of going home.

'Is that because I asked you to dance?' she murmured. 'There-
-she is appropriated.' A young gentleman had at that moment
approached the uninviting Miss Deverell, claimed her hand and
led her off.

'That's right,' said Somerset. 'I ought to leave room for
younger men.'

'You need not say so. That bald-headed gentleman is forty-
five. He does not think of younger men.'

'Have YOU a dance to spare for me?'

Her face grew stealthily redder in the candle-light. 'O!--I
have no engagement at all--I have refused. I hardly feel at
liberty to dance; it would be as well to leave that to my
visitors.'

'Why?'

'My father, though he allowed me to be taught, never liked the
idea of my dancing.'

'Did he make you promise anything on the point?'

'He said he was not in favour of such amusements--no more.'

'I think you are not bound by that, on an informal occasion
like the present.'

She was silent.

'You will just once?' said he.

Another silence. 'If you like,' she venturesomely answered at
last.

Somerset closed the hand which was hanging by his side, and
somehow hers was in it. The dance was nearly formed, and he
led her forward. Several persons looked at them
significantly, but he did not notice it then, and plunged into
the maze.

Never had Mr. Somerset passed through such an experience
before. Had he not felt her actual weight and warmth, he
might have fancied the whole episode a figment of the
imagination. It seemed as if those musicians had thrown a
double sweetness into their notes on seeing the mistress of
the castle in the dance, that a perfumed southern atmosphere
had begun to pervade the marquee, and that human beings were
shaking themselves free of all inconvenient gravitation.

Somerset's feelings burst from his lips. 'This is the
happiest moment I have ever known,' he said. 'Do you know
why?'

'I think I saw a flash of lightning through the opening of the
tent,' said Paula, with roguish abruptness.

He did not press for an answer. Within a few minutes a long
growl of thunder was heard. It was as if Jove could not
refrain from testifying his jealousy of Somerset for taking
this covetable woman so presumptuously in his arms.

The dance was over, and he had retired with Paula to the back
of the tent, when another faint flash of lightning was visible
through an opening. She lifted the canvas, and looked out,
Somerset looking out behind her. Another dance was begun, and
being on this account left out of notice, Somerset did not
hasten to leave Paula's side.

'I think they begin to feel the heat,' she said.

'A little ventilation would do no harm.' He flung back the
tent door where he stood, and the light shone out upon the
grass.

'I must go to the drawing-room soon,' she added. 'They will
begin to leave shortly.'

'It is not late. The thunder-cloud has made it seem dark--see
there; a line of pale yellow stretches along the horizon from
west to north. That's evening--not gone yet. Shall we go
into the fresh air for a minute?'

She seemed to signify assent, and he stepped off the tent-
floor upon the ground. She stepped off also.

The air out-of-doors had not cooled, and without definitely
choosing a direction they found themselves approaching a
little wooden tea-house that stood on the lawn a few yards
off. Arrived here, they turned, and regarded the tent they
had just left, and listened to the strains that came from
within it.

'I feel more at ease now,' said Paula.

'So do I,' said Somerset.

'I mean,' she added in an undeceiving tone, 'because I saw
Mrs. Goodman enter the tent again just as we came out here; so
I have no further responsibility.'

'I meant something quite different. Try to guess what.'

She teasingly demurred, finally breaking the silence by
saying, 'The rain is come at last,' as great drops began to
fall upon the ground with a smack, like pellets of clay.

In a moment the storm poured down with sudden violence, and
they drew further back into the summer-house. The side of the
tent from which they had emerged still remained open, the rain
streaming down between their eyes and the lighted interior of
the marquee like a tissue of glass threads, the brilliant
forms of the dancers passing and repassing behind the watery
screen, as if they were people in an enchanted submarine
palace.

'How happy they are!' said Paula. 'They don't even know that
it is raining. I am so glad that my aunt had the tent lined;
otherwise such a downpour would have gone clean through it.'

The thunder-storm showed no symptoms of abatement, and the
music and dancing went on more merrily than ever.

'We cannot go in,' said Somerset. 'And we cannot shout for
umbrellas. We will stay till it is over, will we not?'

'Yes,' she said, 'if you care to. Ah!'

'What is it?'

'Only a big drop came upon my head.'

'Let us stand further in.'

Her hand was hanging by her side, and Somerset's was close by.
He took it, and she did not draw it away. Thus they stood a
long while, the rain hissing down upon the grass-plot, and not
a soul being visible outside the dancing-tent save themselves.

'May I call you Paula?' asked he.

There was no answer.

'May I?' he repeated.

'Yes, occasionally,' she murmured.

'Dear Paula!--may I call you that?'

'O no--not yet.'

'But you know I love you?'

'Yes,' she whispered.

'And shall I love you always?'

'If you wish to.'

'And will you love me?'

Paula did not reply.

'Will you, Paula?' he repeated.

'You may love me.'

'But don't you love me in return?'

'I love you to love me.'

'Won't you say anything more explicit?'

'I would rather not.'

Somerset emitted half a sigh: he wished she had been more
demonstrative, yet felt that this passive way of assenting was
as much as he could hope for. Had there been anything cold in
her passivity he might have felt repressed; but her stillness
suggested the stillness of motion imperceptible from its
intensity.

'We must go in,' said she. 'The rain is almost over, and
there is no longer any excuse for this.'

Somerset bent his lips toward hers. 'No,' said the fair
Puritan decisively.

'Why not?' he asked.

'Nobody ever has.'

'But!--' expostulated Somerset.

'To everything there is a season, and the season for this is
not just now,' she answered, walking away.

They crossed the wet and glistening lawn, stepped under the
tent and parted. She vanished, he did not know whither; and,
standing with his gaze fixed on the dancers, the young man
waited, till, being in no mood to join them, he went slowly
through the artificial passage lined with flowers, and entered
the drawing room. Mrs. Goodman was there, bidding good-night
to the early goers, and Paula was just behind her, apparently
in her usual mood. His parting with her was quite formal, but
that he did not mind, for her colour rose decidedly higher as
he approached, and the light in her eyes was like the ray of a
diamond.

When he reached the door he found that his brougham from the
Quantock Arms, which had been waiting more than an hour, could
not be heard of. That vagrancy of spirit which love induces
would not permit him to wait; and, leaving word that the man
was to follow him when he returned, he went past the glare of
carriage-lamps ranked in the ward, and under the outer arch.
The night was now clear and beautiful, and he strolled along
his way full of mysterious elation till the vehicle overtook
him, and he got in.

Up to this point Somerset's progress in his suit had been,
though incomplete, so uninterrupted, that he almost feared the
good chance he enjoyed. How should it be in a mortal of his
calibre to command success with such a sweet woman for long?
He might, indeed, turn out to be one of the singular
exceptions which are said to prove rules; but when fortune
means to men most good, observes the bard, she looks upon them
with a threatening eye. Somerset would even have been content
that a little disapproval of his course should have occurred
in some quarter, so as to make his wooing more like ordinary
life. But Paula was not clearly won, and that was drawback
sufficient. In these pleasing agonies and painful delights he
passed the journey to Markton.

BOOK THE SECOND. DARE AND HAVILL.

I.

Young Dare sat thoughtfully at the window of the studio in
which Somerset had left him, till the gay scene beneath became
embrowned by the twilight, and the brilliant red stripes of
the marquees, the bright sunshades, the many-tinted costumes
of the ladies, were indistinguishable from the blacks and
greys of the masculine contingent moving among them. He had
occasionally glanced away from the outward prospect to study a
small old volume that lay before him on the drawing-board.
Near scrutiny revealed the book to bear the title 'Moivre's
Doctrine of Chances.'

The evening had been so still that Dare had heard
conversations from below with a clearness unsuspected by the
speakers themselves; and among the dialogues which thus
reached his ears was that between Somerset and Havill on their
professional rivalry. When they parted, and Somerset had
mingled with the throng, Havill went to a seat at a distance.
Afterwards he rose, and walked away; but on the bench he had
quitted there remained a small object resembling a book or
leather case.

Dare put away the drawing-board and plotting-scales which he
had kept before him during the evening as a reason for his
presence at that post of espial, locked up the door, and went
downstairs. Notwithstanding his dismissal by Somerset, he was
so serene in countenance and easy in gait as to make it a fair
conjecture that professional servitude, however profitable,
was no necessity with him. The gloom now rendered it
practicable for any unbidden guest to join Paula's assemblage
without criticism, and Dare walked boldly out upon the lawn.
The crowd on the grass was rapidly diminishing; the tennis-
players had relinquished sport; many people had gone in to
dinner or supper; and many others, attracted by the cheerful
radiance of the candles, were gathering in the large tent that
had been lighted up for dancing.

Dare went to the garden-chair on which Havill had been seated,
and found the article left behind to be a pocket-book.
Whether because it was unclasped and fell open in his hand, or
otherwise, he did not hesitate to examine the contents. Among
a mass of architect's customary memoranda occurred a draft of
the letter abusing Paula as an iconoclast or Vandal by blood,
which had appeared in the newspaper: the draft was so
interlined and altered as to bear evidence of being the
original conception of that ungentlemanly attack.

The lad read the letter, smiled, and strolled about the
grounds, only met by an occasional pair of individuals of
opposite sex in deep conversation, the state of whose emotions
led them to prefer the evening shade to the publicity and
glare of the tents and rooms. At last he observed the white
waistcoat of the man he sought.

'Mr. Havill, the architect, I believe?' said Dare. 'The
author of most of the noteworthy buildings in this
neighbourhood?'

Havill assented blandly.

'I have long wished for the pleasure of your acquaintance, and
now an accident helps me to make it. This pocket-book, I
think, is yours?'

Havill clapped his hand to his pocket, examined the book Dare
held out to him, and took it with thanks. 'I see I am
speaking to the artist, archaeologist, Gothic photographer--
Mr. Dare.'

'Professor Dare.'

'Professor? Pardon me, I should not have guessed it--so young
as you are.'

'Well, it is merely ornamental; and in truth, I drop the title
in England, particularly under present circumstances.'

'Ah--they are peculiar, perhaps? Ah, I remember. I have
heard that you are assisting a gentleman in preparing a design
in opposition to mine--a design--'

'"That he is not competent to prepare himself," you were
perhaps going to add?'

'Not precisely that.'

'You could hardly be blamed for such words. However, you are
mistaken. I did assist him to gain a little further insight
into the working of architectural plans; but our views on art
are antagonistic, and I assist him no more. Mr. Havill, it
must be very provoking to a well-established professional man
to have a rival sprung at him in a grand undertaking which he
had a right to expect as his own.'

Professional sympathy is often accepted from those whose
condolence on any domestic matter would be considered
intrusive. Havill walked up and down beside Dare for a few
moments in silence, and at last showed that the words had
told, by saying: 'Every one may have his opinion. Had I been
a stranger to the Power family, the case would have been
different; but having been specially elected by the lady's
father as a competent adviser in such matters, and then to be
degraded to the position of a mere competitor, it wounds me to
the quick--'

'Both in purse and in person, like the ill-used hostess of the
Garter.'

'A lady to whom I have been a staunch friend,' continued
Havill, not heeding the interruption.

At that moment sounds seemed to come from Dare which bore a
remarkable resemblance to the words, 'Ho, ho, Havill!' It was
hardly credible, and yet, could he be mistaken? Havill
turned. Dare's eye was twisted comically upward.

'What does that mean?' said Havill coldly, and with some
amazement.

'Ho, ho, Havill! "Staunch friend" is good--especially after
"an iconoclast and Vandal by blood"--"monstrosity in the form
of a Greek temple," and so on, eh!'

'Sir, you have the advantage of me. Perhaps you allude to
that anonymous letter?'

'O-ho, Havill!' repeated the boy-man, turning his eyes yet
further towards the zenith. 'To an outsider such conduct
would be natural; but to a friend who finds your pocket-book,
and looks into it before returning it, and kindly removes a
leaf bearing the draft of a letter which might injure you if
discovered there, and carefully conceals it in his own pocket-
-why, such conduct is unkind!' Dare held up the abstracted
leaf.

Havill trembled. 'I can explain,' he began.

'It is not necessary: we are friends,' said Dare assuringly.

Havill looked as if he would like to snatch the leaf away, but
altering his mind, he said grimly: 'Well, I take you at your
word: we are friends. That letter was concocted before I
knew of the competition: it was during my first disgust, when
I believed myself entirely supplanted.'

'I am not in the least surprised. But if she knew YOU to be
the writer!'

'I should be ruined as far as this competition is concerned,'
said Havill carelessly. 'Had I known I was to be invited to
compete, I should not have written it, of course. To be
supplanted is hard; and thereby hangs a tale.'

'Another tale? You astonish me.'

'Then you have not heard the scandal, though everybody is
talking about it.'

'A scandal implies indecorum.'

'Well, 'tis indecorous. Her infatuated partiality for him is
patent to the eyes of a child; a man she has only known a few
weeks, and one who obtained admission to her house in the most
irregular manner! Had she a watchful friend beside her,
instead of that moonstruck Mrs. Goodman, she would be
cautioned against bestowing her favours on the first
adventurer who appears at her door. It is a pity, a great
pity!'

'O, there is love-making in the wind?' said Dare slowly.
'That alters the case for me. But it is not proved?'

'It can easily be proved.'

'I wish it were, or disproved.'

'You have only to come this way to clear up all doubts.'

Havill took the lad towards the tent, from which the strains
of a waltz now proceeded, and on whose sides flitting shadows
told of the progress of the dance. The companions looked in.
The rosy silk lining of the marquee, and the numerous coronas
of wax lights, formed a canopy to a radiant scene which, for
two at least of those who composed it, was an intoxicating
one. Paula and Somerset were dancing together.

'That proves nothing,' said Dare.

'Look at their rapt faces, and say if it does not,' sneered
Havill.

Dare objected to a judgment based on looks alone.

'Very well--time will show,' said the architect, dropping the
tent-curtain. . . . 'Good God! a girl worth fifty thousand
and more a year to throw herself away upon a fellow like that-
-she ought to be whipped.'

'Time must NOT show!' said Dare.

'You speak with emphasis.'

'I have reason. I would give something to be sure on this
point, one way or the other. Let us wait till the dance is
over, and observe them more carefully. Horensagen ist halb
gelogen! Hearsay is half lies.'

Sheet-lightnings increased in the northern sky, followed by
thunder like the indistinct noise of a battle. Havill and
Dare retired to the trees. When the dance ended Somerset and
his partner emerged from the tent, and slowly moved towards
the tea-house. Divining their goal Dare seized Havill's arm;
and the two worthies entered the building unseen, by first
passing round behind it. They seated themselves in the back
part of the interior, where darkness prevailed.

As before related, Paula and Somerset came and stood within
the door. When the rain increased they drew themselves
further inward, their forms being distinctly outlined to the
gaze of those lurking behind by the light from the tent
beyond. But the hiss of the falling rain and the lowness of
their tones prevented their words from being heard.

'I wish myself out of this!' breathed Havill to Dare, as he
buttoned his coat over his white waistcoat. 'I told you it
was true, but you wouldn't believe. I wouldn't she should
catch me here eavesdropping for the world!'

'Courage, Man Friday,' said his cooler comrade.

Paula and her lover backed yet further, till the hem of her
skirt touched Havill's feet. Their attitudes were sufficient
to prove their relations to the most obstinate Didymus who
should have witnessed them. Tender emotions seemed to pervade
the summer-house like an aroma. The calm ecstasy of the
condition of at least one of them was not without a coercive
effect upon the two invidious spectators, so that they must
need have remained passive had they come there to disturb or
annoy. The serenity of Paula was even more impressive than
the hushed ardour of Somerset: she did not satisfy curiosity
as Somerset satisfied it; she piqued it. Poor Somerset had
reached a perfectly intelligible depth--one which had a single
blissful way out of it, and nine calamitous ones; but Paula
remained an enigma all through the scene.

The rain ceased, and the pair moved away. The enchantment
worked by their presence vanished, the details of the meeting
settled down in the watchers' minds, and their tongues were
loosened. Dare, turning to Havill, said, 'Thank you; you have
done me a timely turn to-day.'

'What! had you hopes that way?' asked Havill satirically.

'I! The woman that interests my heart has yet to be born,'
said Dare, with a steely coldness strange in such a juvenile,
and yet almost convincing. 'But though I have not personal
hopes, I have an objection to this courtship. Now I think we
may as well fraternize, the situation being what it is?'

'What is the situation?"

'He is in your way as her architect; he is in my way as her
lover: we don't want to hurt him, but we wish him clean out
of the neighbourhood.'

'I'll go as far as that,' said Havill.

'I have come here at some trouble to myself, merely to
observe: I find I ought to stay to act.'

'If you were myself, a married man with people dependent on
him, who has had a professional certainty turned to a
miserably remote contingency by these events, you might say
you ought to act; but what conceivable difference it can make
to you who it is the young lady takes to her heart and home, I
fail to understand.'

'Well, I'll tell you--this much at least. I want to keep the
place vacant for another man.'

'The place?'

'The place of husband to Miss Power, and proprietor of that
castle and domain.'

'That's a scheme with a vengeance. Who is the man?'

'It is my secret at present.'

'Certainly.' Havill drew a deep breath, and dropped into a
tone of depression. 'Well, scheme as you will, there will be
small advantage to me,' he murmured. 'The castle commission
is as good as gone, and a bill for two hundred pounds falls
due next week.'

'Cheer up, heart! My position, if you only knew it, has ten
times the difficulties of yours, since this disagreeable
discovery. Let us consider if we can assist each other. The
competition drawings are to be sent in--when?'

'In something over six weeks--a fortnight before she returns
from the Scilly Isles, for which place she leaves here in a
few days.'

'O, she goes away--that's better. Our lover will be working
here at his drawings, and she not present.'

'Exactly. Perhaps she is a little ashamed of the intimacy.'

'And if your design is considered best by the committee, he
will have no further reason for staying, assuming that they
are not definitely engaged to marry by that time?'

'I suppose so,' murmured Havill discontentedly. 'The
conditions, as sent to me, state that the designs are to be
adjudicated on by three members of the Institute called in for
the purpose; so that she may return, and have seemed to show
no favour.'

'Then it amounts to this: your design MUST be best. It must
combine the excellences of your invention with the excellences
of his. Meanwhile a coolness should be made to arise between
her and him: and as there would be no artistic reason for his
presence here after the verdict is pronounced, he would
perforce hie back to town. Do you see?'

'I see the ingenuity of the plan, but I also see two
insurmountable obstacles to it. The first is, I cannot add
the excellences of his design to mine without knowing what
those excellences are, which he will of course keep a secret.
Second, it will not be easy to promote a coolness between such
hot ones as they.'

'You make a mistake. It is only he who is so ardent. She is
only lukewarm. If we had any spirit, a bargain would be
struck between us: you would appropriate his design; I should
cause the coolness.'

'How could I appropriate his design?'

'By copying it, I suppose.'

'Copying it?'

'By going into his studio and looking it over.'

Havill turned to Dare, and stared. 'By George, you don't
stick at trifles, young man. You don't suppose I would go
into a man's rooms and steal his inventions like that?'

'I scarcely suppose you would,' said Dare indifferently, as he
rose.

'And if I were to,' said Havill curiously, 'how is the
coolness to be caused?'

'By the second man.'

'Who is to produce him?'

'Her Majesty's Government.'

Havill looked meditatively at his companion, and shook his
head. 'In these idle suppositions we have been assuming
conduct which would be quite against my principles as an
honest man.'

II.

A few days after the party at Stancy Castle, Dare was walking
down the High Street of Markton, a cigarette between his lips
and a silver-topped cane in his hand. His eye fell upon a
brass plate on an opposite door, bearing the name of Mr.
Havill, Architect. He crossed over, and rang the office bell.

The clerk who admitted him stated that Mr. Havill was in his
private room, and would be disengaged in a short time. While
Dare waited the clerk affixed to the door a piece of paper
bearing the words 'Back at 2,' and went away to his dinner,
leaving Dare in the room alone.

Dare looked at the different drawings on the boards about the
room. They all represented one subject, which, though
unfinished as yet, and bearing no inscription, was recognized
by the visitor as the design for the enlargement and
restoration of Stancy Castle. When he had glanced it over
Dare sat down.

The doors between the office and private room were double; but
the one towards the office being only ajar Dare could hear a
conversation in progress within. It presently rose to an
altercation, the tenor of which was obvious. Somebody had
come for money.

'Really I can stand it no longer, Mr. Havill--really I will
not!' said the creditor excitedly. 'Now this bill overdue
again--what can you expect? Why, I might have negotiated it;
and where would you have been then? Instead of that, I have
locked it up out of consideration for you; and what do I get
for my considerateness? I shall let the law take its course!'

'You'll do me inexpressible harm, and get nothing whatever,'
said Havill. 'If you would renew for another three months
there would be no difficulty in the matter.'

'You have said so before: I will do no such thing.'

There was a silence; whereupon Dare arose without hesitation,
and walked boldly into the private office. Havill was
standing at one end, as gloomy as a thundercloud, and at the
other was the unfortunate creditor with his hat on. Though
Dare's entry surprised them, both parties seemed relieved.

'I have called in passing to congratulate you, Mr. Havill,'
said Dare gaily. 'Such a commission as has been entrusted to
you will make you famous!'

'How do you do?--I wish it would make me rich,' said Havill
drily.

'It will be a lift in that direction, from what I know of the
profession. What is she going to spend?'

'A hundred thousand.'

'Your commission as architect, five thousand. Not bad, for
making a few sketches. Consider what other great commissions
such a work will lead to.'

'What great work is this?' asked the creditor.

'Stancy Castle,' said Dare, since Havill seemed too agape to
answer. 'You have not heard of it, then? Those are the
drawings, I presume, in the next room?'

Havill replied in the affirmative, beginning to perceive the
manoeuvre. 'Perhaps you would like to see them?' he said to
the creditor.

The latter offered no objection, and all three went into the
drawing-office.

'It will certainly be a magnificent structure,' said the
creditor, after regarding the elevations through his
spectacles. 'Stancy Castle: I had no idea of it! and when do
you begin to build, Mr. Havill?' he inquired in mollified
tones.

'In three months, I think?' said Dare, looking to Havill.

Havill assented.

'Five thousand pounds commission,' murmured the creditor.
'Paid down, I suppose?'

Havill nodded.

'And the works will not linger for lack of money to carry them
out, I imagine,' said Dare. 'Two hundred thousand will
probably be spent before the work is finished.'

'There is not much doubt of it,' said Havill.

'You said nothing to me about this?' whispered the creditor to
Havill, taking him aside, with a look of regret.

'You would not listen!'

'It alters the case greatly.' The creditor retired with
Havill to the door, and after a subdued colloquy in the
passage he went away, Havill returning to the office.

'What the devil do you mean by hoaxing him like this, when the
job is no more mine than Inigo Jones's?'

'Don't be too curious,' said Dare, laughing. 'Rather thank me
for getting rid of him.'

'But it is all a vision!' said Havill, ruefully regarding the
pencilled towers of Stancy Castle. 'If the competition were
really the commission that you have represented it to be there
might be something to laugh at.'

'It must be made a commission, somehow,' returned Dare
carelessly. 'I am come to lend you a little assistance. I
must stay in the neighbourhood, and I have nothing else to
do.'

A carriage slowly passed the window, and Havill recognized the
Power liveries. 'Hullo--she's coming here!' he said under his
breath, as the carriage stopped by the kerb. 'What does she
want, I wonder? Dare, does she know you?'

'I would just as soon be out of the way.'

'Then go into the garden.'

Dare went out through the back office as Paula was shown in at
the front. She wore a grey travelling costume, and seemed to
be in some haste.

'I am on my way to the railway-station,' she said to Havill.
'I shall be absent from home for several weeks, and since you
requested it, I have called to inquire how you are getting on
with the design.'

'Please look it over,' said Havill, placing a seat for her.

'No,' said Paula. 'I think it would be unfair. I have not
looked at Mr.--the other architect's plans since he has begun
to design seriously, and I will not look at yours. Are you
getting on quite well, and do you want to know anything more?
If so, go to the castle, and get anybody to assist you. Why
would you not make use of the room at your disposal in the
castle, as the other architect has done?'

In asking the question her face was towards the window, and
suddenly her cheeks became a rosy red. She instantly looked
another way.

'Having my own office so near, it was not necessary, thank
you,' replied Havill, as, noting her countenance, he allowed
his glance to stray into the street. Somerset was walking
past on the opposite side.

'The time is--the time fixed for sending in the drawings is
the first of November, I believe,' she said confusedly; 'and
the decision will be come to by three gentlemen who are
prominent members of the Institute of Architects.'

Havill then accompanied her to the carriage, and she drove
away.

Havill went to the back window to tell Dare that he need not
stay in the garden; but the garden was empty. The architect
remained alone in his office for some time; at the end of a
quarter of an hour, when the scream of a railway whistle had
echoed down the still street, he beheld Somerset repassing the
window in a direction from the railway, with somewhat of a sad
gait. In another minute Dare entered, humming the latest air
of Offenbach.

''Tis a mere piece of duplicity!' said Havill.

'What is?'

'Her pretending indifference as to which of us comes out
successful in the competition, when she colours carmine the
moment Somerset passes by.' He described Paula's visit, and
the incident.

'It may not mean Cupid's Entire XXX after all,' said Dare
judicially. 'The mere suspicion that a certain man loves her
would make a girl blush at his unexpected appearance. Well,
she's gone from him for a time; the better for you.'

'He has been privileged to see her off at any rate.'

'Not privileged.'

'How do you know that?'

'I went out of your garden by the back gate, and followed her
carriage to the railway. He simply went to the first bridge
outside the station, and waited. When she was in the train,
it moved forward; he was all expectation, and drew out his
handkerchief ready to wave, while she looked out of the window
towards the bridge. The train backed before it reached the
bridge, to attach the box containing her horses, and the
carriage-truck. Then it started for good, and when it reached
the bridge she looked out again, he waving his handkerchief to
her.'

'And she waving hers back?'

'No, she didn't.'

'Ah!'

'She looked at him--nothing more. I wouldn't give much for
his chance.' After a while Dare added musingly: 'You are a
mathematician: did you ever investigate the doctrine of
expectations?'

'Never.'

Dare drew from his pocket his 'Book of Chances,' a volume as
well thumbed as the minister's Bible. 'This is a treatise on
the subject,' he said. 'I will teach it to you some day.'

The same evening Havill asked Dare to dine with him. He was
just at this time living en garcon, his wife and children
being away on a visit. After dinner they sat on till their
faces were rather flushed. The talk turned, as before, on the
castle-competition.

'To know his design is to win,' said Dare. 'And to win is to
send him back to London where he came from.'

Havill inquired if Dare had seen any sketch of the design
while with Somerset?

'Not a line. I was concerned only with the old building.'

'Not to know it is to lose, undoubtedly,' murmured Havill.

'Suppose we go for a walk that way, instead of consulting
here?'

They went down the town, and along the highway. When they
reached the entrance to the park a man driving a basket-
carriage came out from the gate and passed them by in the
gloom.

'That was he,' said Dare. 'He sometimes drives over from the
hotel, and sometimes walks. He has been working late this
evening.'

Strolling on under the trees they met three masculine figures,
laughing and talking loudly.

'Those are the three first-class London draughtsmen, Bowles,
Knowles, and Cockton, whom he has engaged to assist him,
regardless of expense,' continued Dare.

'O Lord!' groaned Havill. 'There's no chance for me.'

The castle now arose before them, endowed by the rayless shade
with a more massive majesty than either sunlight or moonlight
could impart; and Havill sighed again as he thought of what he
was losing by Somerset's rivalry. 'Well, what was the use of
coming here?' he asked.

'I thought it might suggest something--some way of seeing the
design. The servants would let us into his room, I dare say.'

'I don't care to ask. Let us walk through the wards, and then
homeward.'

They sauntered on smoking, Dare leading the way through the
gate-house into a corridor which was not inclosed, a lamp
hanging at the further end.

'We are getting into the inhabited part, I think,' said
Havill.

Dare, however, had gone on, and knowing the tortuous passages
from his few days' experience in measuring them with Somerset,
he came to the butler's pantry. Dare knocked, and nobody
answering he entered, took down a key which hung behind the
door, and rejoined Havill. 'It is all right,' he said. 'The
cat's away; and the mice are at play in consequence.'

Proceeding up a stone staircase he unlocked the door of a room
in the dark, struck a light inside, and returning to the door
called in a whisper to Havill, who had remained behind. 'This
is Mr. Somerset's studio,' he said.

'How did you get permission?' inquired Havill, not knowing
that Dare had seen no one.

'Anyhow,' said Dare carelessly. 'We can examine the plans at
leisure; for if the placid Mrs. Goodman, who is the only one
at home, sees the light, she will only think it is Somerset
still at work.'

Dare uncovered the drawings, and young Somerset's brain-work
for the last six weeks lay under their eyes. To Dare, who was
too cursory to trouble himself by entering into such details,
it had very little meaning; but the design shone into Havill's
head like a light into a dark place. It was original; and it
was fascinating. Its originality lay partly in the
circumstance that Somerset had not attempted to adapt an old
building to the wants of the new civilization. He had placed
his new erection beside it as a slightly attached structure,
harmonizing with the old; heightening and beautifying, rather
than subduing it. His work formed a palace, with a ruinous
castle annexed as a curiosity. To Havill the conception had
more charm than it could have to the most appreciative
outsider; for when a mediocre and jealous mind that has been
cudgelling itself over a problem capable of many solutions,
lights on the solution of a rival, all possibilities in that
kind seem to merge in the one beheld.

Dare was struck by the arrested expression of the architect's
face. 'Is it rather good?' he asked.

'Yes, rather,' said Havill, subduing himself.

'More than rather?'

'Yes, the clever devil!' exclaimed Havill, unable to
depreciate longer.

'How?'

'The riddle that has worried me three weeks he has solved in a
way which is simplicity itself. He has got it, and I am
undone!'

'Nonsense, don't give way. Let's make a tracing.'

'The ground-plan will be sufficient,' said Havill, his courage
reviving. 'The idea is so simple, that if once seen it is not
easily forgotten.'

A rough tracing of Somerset's design was quickly made, and
blowing out the candle with a wave of his hand, the younger
gentleman locked the door, and they went downstairs again.

'I should never have thought of it,' said Havill, as they
walked homeward.

'One man has need of another every ten years: Ogni dieci anni
un uomo ha bisogno dell' altro, as they say in Italy. You'll
help me for this turn if I have need of you?'

'I shall never have the power.'

'O yes, you will. A man who can contrive to get admitted to a
competition by writing a letter abusing another man, has any
amount of power. The stroke was a good one.'

Havill was silent till he said, 'I think these gusts mean that
we are to have a storm of rain.'

Dare looked up. The sky was overcast, the trees shivered, and
a drop or two began to strike into the walkers' coats from the
east. They were not far from the inn at Sleeping-Green, where
Dare had lodgings, occupying the rooms which had been used by
Somerset till he gave them up for more commodious chambers at
Markton; and they decided to turn in there till the rain
should be over.

Having possessed himself of Somerset's brains Havill was
inclined to be jovial, and ordered the best in wines that the
house afforded. Before starting from home they had drunk as
much as was good for them; so that their potations here soon
began to have a marked effect upon their tongues. The rain
beat upon the windows with a dull dogged pertinacity which
seemed to signify boundless reserves of the same and long
continuance. The wind rose, the sign creaked, and the candles
waved. The weather had, in truth, broken up for the season,
and this was the first night of the change.

'Well, here we are,' said Havill, as he poured out another
glass of the brandied liquor called old port at Sleeping-
Green; 'and it seems that here we are to remain for the
present.'

'I am at home anywhere!' cried the lad, whose brow was hot and
eye wild.

Havill, who had not drunk enough to affect his reasoning, held
up his glass to the light and said, 'I never can quite make
out what you are, or what your age is. Are you sixteen, one-
and-twenty, or twenty-seven? And are you an Englishman,
Frenchman, Indian, American, or what? You seem not to have
taken your degrees in these parts.'

'That's a secret, my friend,' said Dare. 'I am a citizen of
the world. I owe no country patriotism, and no king or queen
obedience. A man whose country has no boundary is your only
true gentleman.'

'Well, where were you born--somewhere, I suppose?'

'It would be a fact worth the telling. The secret of my birth
lies here.' And Dare slapped his breast with his right hand.

'Literally, just under your shirt-front; or figuratively, in
your heart?' asked Havill.

'Literally there. It is necessary that it should be recorded,
for one's own memory is a treacherous book of reference,
should verification be required at a time of delirium,
disease, or death.'

Havill asked no further what he meant, and went to the door.
Finding that the rain still continued he returned to Dare, who
was by this time sinking down in a one-sided attitude, as if
hung up by the shoulder. Informing his companion that he was
but little inclined to move far in such a tempestuous night,
he decided to remain in the inn till next morning. On calling
in the landlord, however, they learnt that the house was full
of farmers on their way home from a large sheep-fair in the
neighbourhood, and that several of these, having decided to
stay on account of the same tempestuous weather, had already
engaged the spare beds. If Mr. Dare would give up his room,
and share a double-bedded room with Mr. Havill, the thing
could be done, but not otherwise.

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