Part 4 out of 5
and you've promised to take in Minnie Beebe because of the
diphtheria scare. It simply can't be done."
"Nonsense! It can."
"If Minnie sleeps in the bath. Not otherwise."
"Minnie can sleep with you."
"I won't have her."
"Then, if you're so selfish, Mr. Floyd must share a room with
"Miss Bartlett, Miss Bartlett, Miss Bartlett," moaned Cecil,
again laying his hand over his eyes.
"It's impossible," repeated Lucy. "I don't want to make
difficulties, but it really isn't fair on the maids to fill up
the house so."
"The truth is, dear, you don't like Charlotte."
"No, I don't. And no more does Cecil. She gets on our nerves. You
haven't seen her lately, and don't realize how tiresome she can
be, though so good. So please, mother, don't worry us this last
summer; but spoil us by not asking her to come."
"Hear, hear!" said Cecil.
Mrs. Honeychurch, with more gravity than usual, and with more
feeling than she usually permitted herself, replied: "This isn't
very kind of you two. You have each other and all these woods to
walk in, so full of beautiful things; and poor Charlotte has only
the water turned off and plumbers. You are young, dears, and
however clever young people are, and however many books they
read, they will never guess what it feels like to grow old."
Cecil crumbled his bread.
"I must say Cousin Charlotte was very kind to me that year I
called on my bike," put in Freddy. "She thanked me for coming
till I felt like such a fool, and fussed round no end to get an
egg boiled for my tea just right."
"I know, dear. She is kind to every one, and yet Lucy makes this
difficulty when we try to give her some little return."
But Lucy hardened her heart. It was no good being kind to Miss
Bartlett. She had tried herself too often and too recently. One
might lay up treasure in heaven by the attempt, but one enriched
neither Miss Bartlett nor any one else upon earth. She was
reduced to saying: "I can't help it, mother. I don't like
Charlotte. I admit it's horrid of me."
"From your own account, you told her as much."
"Well, she would leave Florence so stupidly. She flurried--"
The ghosts were returning; they filled Italy, they were even
usurping the places she had known as a child. The Sacred Lake
would never be the same again, and, on Sunday week, something
would even happen to Windy Corner. How would she fight against
ghosts? For a moment the visible world faded away, and memories
and emotions alone seemed real.
"I suppose Miss Bartlett must come, since she boils eggs so
well," said Cecil, who was in rather a happier frame of mind,
thanks to the admirable cooking.
"I didn't mean the egg was WELL boiled," corrected Freddy,
"because in point of fact she forgot to take it off, and as a
matter of fact I don't care for eggs. I only meant how jolly kind
Cecil frowned again. Oh, these Honeychurches! Eggs, boilers,
hydrangeas, maids--of such were their lives compact. "May me and
Lucy get down from our chairs?" he asked, with scarcely veiled
insolence. "We don't want no dessert."
Chapter XIV : How Lucy Faced the External Situation Bravely
0f course Miss Bartlett accepted. And, equally of course, she
felt sure that she would prove a nuisance, and begged to be given
an inferior spare room--something with no view, anything. Her
love to Lucy. And, equally of course, George Emerson could come
to tennis on the Sunday week.
Lucy faced the situation bravely, though, like most of us, she
only faced the situation that encompassed her. She never gazed
inwards. If at times strange images rose from the depths, she put
them down to nerves. When Cecil brought the Emersons to Summer
Street, it had upset her nerves. Charlotte would burnish up past
foolishness, and this might upset her nerves. She was nervous at
night. When she talked to George--they met again almost
immediately at the Rectory--his voice moved her deeply, and she
wished to remain near him. How dreadful if she really wished to
remain near him! Of course, the wish was due to nerves, which
love to play such perverse tricks upon us. Once she had suffered
from "things that came out of nothing and meant she didn't
know what." Now Cecil had explained psychology to her one wet
afternoon, and all the troubles of youth in an unknown world
could be dismissed.
It is obvious enough for the reader to conclude, "She loves young
Emerson." A reader in Lucy's place would not find it obvious.
Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice, and we
welcome "nerves" or any other shibboleth that will cloak our
personal desire. She loved Cecil; George made her nervous; will
the reader explain to her that the phrases should have been
But the external situation--she will face that bravely.
The meeting at the Rectory had passed off well enough. Standing
between Mr. Beebe and Cecil, she had made a few temperate
allusions to Italy, and George had replied. She was anxious to
show that she was not shy, and was glad that he did not seem shy
"A nice fellow," said Mr. Beebe afterwards "He will work off his
crudities in time. I rather mistrust young men who slip into life
Lucy said, "He seems in better spirits. He laughs more."
"Yes," replied the clergyman. "He is waking up."
That was all. But, as the week wore on, more of her defences
fell, and she entertained an image that had physical beauty.
In spite of the clearest directions, Miss Bartlett contrived to
bungle her arrival. She was due at the South-Eastern station at
Dorking, whither Mrs. Honeychurch drove to meet her. She arrived
at the London and Brighton station, and had to hire a cab up. No
one was at home except Freddy and his friend, who had to stop
their tennis and to entertain her for a solid hour. Cecil and
Lucy turned up at four o'clock, and these, with little Minnie
Beebe, made a somewhat lugubrious sextette upon the upper
lawn for tea.
"I shall never forgive myself," said Miss Bartlett, who kept on
rising from her seat, and had to be begged by the united company
to remain. "I have upset everything. Bursting in on young people!
But I insist on paying for my cab up. Grant that, at any rate."
"Our visitors never do such dreadful things," said Lucy, while
her brother, in whose memory the boiled egg had already grown
unsubstantial, exclaimed in irritable tones: "Just what I've been
trying to convince Cousin Charlotte of, Lucy, for the last half
"I do not feel myself an ordinary visitor," said Miss Bartlett,
and looked at her frayed glove
"All right, if you'd really rather. Five shillings, and I gave a
bob to the driver."
Miss Bartlett looked in her purse. Only sovereigns and pennies.
Could any one give her change? Freddy had half a quid and his
friend had four half-crowns. Miss Bartlett accepted their moneys
and then said: "But who am I to give the sovereign to?"
"Let's leave it all till mother comes back," suggested Lucy.
"No, dear; your mother may take quite a long drive now that she
is not hampered with me. We all have our little foibles, and mine
is the prompt settling of accounts."
Here Freddy's friend, Mr. Floyd, made the one remark of his that
need be quoted: he offered to toss Freddy for Miss Bartlett's
quid. A solution seemed in sight, and even Cecil, who had been
ostentatiously drinking his tea at the view, felt the eternal
attraction of Chance, and turned round.
But this did not do, either.
"Please--please--I know I am a sad spoilsport, but it would make
me wretched. I should practically be robbing the one who lost."
"Freddy owes me fifteen shillings," interposed Cecil. "So it will
work out right if you give the pound to me."
"Fifteen shillings," said Miss Bartlett dubiously. "How is that,
"Because, don't you see, Freddy paid your cab. Give me the pound,
and we shall avoid this deplorable gambling."
Miss Bartlett, who was poor at figures, became bewildered and
rendered up the sovereign, amidst the suppressed gurgles of the
other youths. For a moment Cecil was happy. He was playing at
nonsense among his peers. Then he glanced at Lucy, in whose face
petty anxieties had marred the smiles. In January he would rescue
his Leonardo from this stupefying twaddle.
"But I don't see that!" exclaimed Minnie Beebe who had narrowly
watched the iniquitous transaction. "I don't see why Mr. Vyse is to
have the quid."
"Because of the fifteen shillings and the five," they said
solemnly. "Fifteen shillings and five shillings make one pound,
"But I don't see--"
They tried to stifle her with cake.
"No, thank you. I'm done. I don't see why--Freddy, don't poke me.
Miss Honeychurch, your brother's hurting me. Ow! What about Mr.
Floyd's ten shillings? Ow! No, I don't see and I never shall see
why Miss What's-her-name shouldn't pay that bob for the driver."'
"I had forgotten the driver," said Miss Bartlett, reddening.
"Thank you, dear, for reminding me. A shilling was it? Can any
one give me change for half a crown?"
"I'll get it," said the young hostess, rising with decision.
"Cecil, give me that sovereign. No, give me up that sovereign.
I'll get Euphemia to change it, and we'll start the whole thing
again from the beginning."
"Lucy--Lucy--what a nuisance I am!" protested Miss Bartlett, and
followed her across the lawn. Lucy tripped ahead, simulating
hilarity. When they were out of earshot Miss Bartlett stopped her
wails and said quite briskly: "Have you told him about him yet?"
"No, I haven't," replied Lucy, and then could have bitten her
tongue for understanding so quickly what her cousin meant. "Let
me see--a sovereign's worth of silver."
She escaped into the kitchen. Miss Bartlett's sudden transitions
were too uncanny. It sometimes seemed as if she planned every
word she spoke or caused to be spoken; as if all this worry about
cabs and change had been a ruse to surprise the soul.
"No, I haven't told Cecil or any one," she remarked, when she
returned. "I promised you I shouldn't. Here is your money--all
shillings, except two half-crowns. Would you count it? You can
settle your debt nicely now."
Miss Bartlett was in the drawing-room, gazing at the photograph
of St. John ascending, which had been framed.
"How dreadful!" she murmured, "how more than dreadful, if Mr.
Vyse should come to hear of it from some other source."
"Oh, no, Charlotte," said the girl, entering the battle. "George
Emerson is all right, and what other source is there?"
Miss Bartlett considered. "For instance, the driver. I saw him
looking through the bushes at you, remember he had a violet
between his teeth."
Lucy shuddered a little. "We shall get the silly affair on our
nerves if we aren't careful. How could a Florentine cab-driver
ever get hold of Cecil?"
"We must think of every possibility."
"Oh, it's all right."
"Or perhaps old Mr. Emerson knows. In fact, he is certain to
"I don't care if he does. I was grateful to you for your letter,
but even if the news does get round, I think I can trust Cecil to
laugh at it."
"To contradict it?"
"No, to laugh at it." But she knew in her heart that she could
not trust him, for he desired her untouched.
"Very well, dear, you know best. Perhaps gentlemen are different
to what they were when I was young. Ladies are certainly
"Now, Charlotte!" She struck at her playfully. "You kind,
anxious thing. What WOULD you have me do? First you say 'Don't
tell'; and then you say, 'Tell'. Which is it to be? Quick!"
Miss Bartlett sighed "I am no match for you in conversation,
dearest. I blush when I think how I interfered at Florence, and
you so well able to look after yourself, and so much cleverer in
all ways than I am. You will never forgive me."
"Shall we go out, then. They will smash all the china if we
For the air rang with the shrieks of Minnie, who was being
scalped with a teaspoon.
"Dear, one moment--we may not have this chance for a chat again.
Have you seen the young one yet?"
"Yes, I have."
"We met at the Rectory."
"What line is he taking up?"
"No line. He talked about Italy, like any other person. It is
really all right. What advantage would he get from being a cad,
to put it bluntly? I do wish I could make you see it my way. He
really won't be any nuisance, Charlotte."
"Once a cad, always a cad. That is my poor opinion."
Lucy paused. "Cecil said one day--and I thought it so
profound--that there are two kinds of cads--the conscious and the
subconscious." She paused again, to be sure of doing justice to
Cecil's profundity. Through the window she saw Cecil himself,
turning over the pages of a novel. It was a new one from Smith's
library. Her mother must have returned from the station.
"Once a cad, always a cad," droned Miss Bartlett.
"What I mean by subconscious is that Emerson lost his head. I
fell into all those violets, and he was silly and surprised. I
don't think we ought to blame him very much. It makes such a
difference when you see a person with beautiful things behind him
unexpectedly. It really does; it makes an enormous difference,
and he lost his head: he doesn't admire me, or any of that
nonsense, one straw. Freddy rather likes him, and has asked him
up here on Sunday, so you can judge for yourself. He has
improved; he doesn't always look as if he's going to burst into
tears. He is a clerk in the General Manager's office at one of
the big railways--not a porter! and runs down to his father for
week-ends. Papa was to do with journalism, but is rheumatic and
has retired. There! Now for the garden." She took hold of her
guest by the arm. "Suppose we don't talk about this silly Italian
business any more. We want you to have a nice restful visit at
Windy Corner, with no worriting."
Lucy thought this rather a good speech. The reader may have
detected an unfortunate slip in it. Whether Miss Bartlett
detected the slip one cannot say, for it is impossible to
penetrate into the minds of elderly people. She might have spoken
further, but they were interrupted by the entrance of her
hostess. Explanations took place, and in the midst of them Lucy
escaped, the images throbbing a little more vividly in her brain.
Chapter XV: The Disaster Within
The Sunday after Miss Bartlett's arrival was a glorious day, like
most of the days of that year. In the Weald, autumn approached,
breaking up the green monotony of summer, touching the parks with
the grey bloom of mist, the beech-trees with russet, the
oak-trees with gold. Up on the heights, battalions of black pines
witnessed the change, themselves unchangeable. Either country was
spanned by a cloudless sky, and in either arose the tinkle of
The garden of Windy Corners was deserted except for a red book,
which lay sunning itself upon the gravel path. From the house
came incoherent sounds, as of females preparing for worship. "The
men say they won't go"-- "Well, I don't blame them"-- Minnie
says, need she go?"-- "Tell her, no nonsense"-- "Anne! Mary!
Hook me behind!"-- "Dearest Lucia, may I trespass upon you for a
pin?" For Miss Bartlett had announced that she at all events was
one for church.
The sun rose higher on its journey, guided, not by Phaethon, but
by Apollo, competent, unswerving, divine. Its rays fell on the
ladies whenever they advanced towards the bedroom windows; on
Mr. Beebe down at Summer Street as he smiled over a letter from
Miss Catharine Alan; on George Emerson cleaning his father's
boots; and lastly, to complete the catalogue of memorable
things, on the red book mentioned previously. The ladies move,
Mr. Beebe moves, George moves, and movement may engender shadow.
But this book lies motionless, to be caressed all the morning by
the sun and to raise its covers slightly, as though acknowledging
Presently Lucy steps out of the drawing-room window. Her new
cerise dress has been a failure, and makes her look tawdry and
wan. At her throat is a garnet brooch, on her finger a ring set
with rubies--an engagement ring. Her eyes are bent to the Weald.
She frowns a little--not in anger, but as a brave child frowns
when he is trying not to cry. In all that expanse no human eye is
looking at her, and she may frown unrebuked and measure the
spaces that yet survive between Apollo and the western hills.
"Lucy! Lucy! What's that book? Who's been taking a book out of
the shelf and leaving it about to spoil?"
"It's only the library book that Cecil's been reading."
"But pick it up, and don't stand idling there like a flamingo."
Lucy picked up the book and glanced at the title listlessly,
Under a Loggia. She no longer read novels herself, devoting all
her spare time to solid literature in the hope of catching Cecil
up. It was dreadful how little she knew, and even when she
thought she knew a thing, like the Italian painters, she found
she had forgotten it. Only this morning she had confused
Francesco Francia with Piero della Francesca, and Cecil had
said, "What! you aren't forgetting your Italy already?" And this
too had lent anxiety to her eyes when she saluted the dear view
and the dear garden in the foreground, and above them, scarcely
conceivable elsewhere, the dear sun.
"Lucy--have you a sixpence for Minnie and a shilling for
She hastened in to her mother, who was rapidly working herself
into a Sunday fluster.
"It's a special collection--I forget what for. I do beg, no
vulgar clinking in the plate with halfpennies; see that Minnie
has a nice bright sixpence. Where is the child? Minnie! That
book's all warped. (Gracious, how plain you look!) Put it under
the Atlas to press. Minnie!"
"Oh, Mrs. Honeychurch--" from the upper regions.
"Minnie, don't be late. Here comes the horse" --it was always the
horse, never the carriage. "Where's Charlotte? Run up and hurry
her. Why is she so long? She had nothing to do. She never brings
anything but blouses. Poor Charlotte-- How I do detest blouses!
Paganism is infectious--more infectious than diphtheria or piety
--and the Rector's niece was taken to church protesting. As
usual, she didn't see why. Why shouldn't she sit in the sun with
the young men? The young men, who had now appeared, mocked her
with ungenerous words. Mrs. Honeychurch defended orthodoxy, and
in the midst of the confusion Miss Bartlett, dressed in the very
height of the fashion, came strolling down the stairs.
"Dear Marian, I am very sorry, but I have no small change--
nothing but sovereigns and half crowns. Could any one give me--"
"Yes, easily. Jump in. Gracious me, how smart you look! What a
lovely frock! You put us all to shame."
"If I did not wear my best rags and tatters now, when should I
wear them?" said Miss Bartlett reproachfully. She got into the
victoria and placed herself with her back to the horse. The
necessary roar ensued, and then they drove off.
"Good-bye! Be good!" called out Cecil.
Lucy bit her lip, for the tone was sneering. On the subject of
"church and so on" they had had rather an unsatisfactory
conversation. He had said that people ought to overhaul
themselves, and she did not want to overhaul herself; she did not
know it was done. Honest orthodoxy Cecil respected, but he always
assumed that honesty is the result of a spiritual crisis; he
could not imagine it as a natural birthright, that might grow
heavenward like flowers. All that he said on this subject pained
her, though he exuded tolerance from every pore; somehow the
Emersons were different.
She saw the Emersons after church. There was a line of carriages
down the road, and the Honeychurch vehicle happened to be
opposite Cissie Villa. To save time, they walked over the green
to it, and found father and son smoking in the garden.
"Introduce me," said her mother. "Unless the young man considers
that he knows me already."
He probably did; but Lucy ignored the Sacred Lake and introduced
them formally. Old Mr. Emerson claimed her with much warmth, and
said how glad he was that she was going to be married. She said
yes, she was glad too; and then, as Miss Bartlett and Minnie were
lingering behind with Mr. Beebe, she turned the conversation to a
less disturbing topic, and asked him how he liked his new house.
"Very much," he replied, but there was a note of offence in his
voice; she had never known him offended before. He added: "We
find, though, that the Miss Alans were coming, and that we have
turned them out. Women mind such a thing. I am very much upset
"I believe that there was some misunderstanding," said Mrs.
"Our landlord was told that we should be a different type of
person," said George, who seemed disposed to carry the matter
further. "He thought we should be artistic. He is disappointed."
"And I wonder whether we ought to write to the Miss Alans and
offer to give it up. What do you think?" He appealed to Lucy.
"Oh, stop now you have come," said Lucy lightly. She must avoid
censuring Cecil. For it was on Cecil that the little episode
turned, though his name was never mentioned.
"So George says. He says that the Miss Alans must go to the wall.
Yet it does seem so unkind."
"There is only a certain amount of kindness in the world," said
George, watching the sunlight flash on the panels of the passing
"Yes!" exclaimed Mrs. Honeychurch. "That's exactly what I say.
Why all this twiddling and twaddling over two Miss Alans?"
"There is a certain amount of kindness, just as there is a
certain amount of light," he continued in measured tones. "We
cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good
moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow
always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm--yes,
choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it
for all you are worth, facing the sunshine."
"Oh, Mr. Emerson, I see you're clever!"
"I see you're going to be clever. I hope you didn't go behaving
like that to poor Freddy."
George's eyes laughed, and Lucy suspected that he and her mother
would get on rather well.
"No, I didn't," he said. "He behaved that way to me. It is his
philosophy. Only he starts life with it; and I have tried the
Note of Interrogation first."
"What DO you mean? No, never mind what you mean. Don't explain.
He looks forward to seeing you this afternoon. Do you play
tennis? Do you mind tennis on Sunday--?"
"George mind tennis on Sunday! George, after his education,
distinguish between Sunday--"
"Very well, George doesn't mind tennis on Sunday. No more do I.
That's settled. Mr. Emerson, if you could come with your son we
should be so pleased."
He thanked her, but the walk sounded rather far; he could only
potter about in these days.
She turned to George: "And then he wants to give up his house to
the Miss Alans."
"I know," said George, and put his arm round his father's neck.
The kindness that Mr. Beebe and Lucy had always known to exist in
him came out suddenly, like sunlight touching a vast landscape--a
touch of the morning sun? She remembered that in all his
perversities he had never spoken against affection.
Miss Bartlett approached.
"You know our cousin, Miss Bartlett," said Mrs. Honeychurch
pleasantly. "You met her with my daughter in Florence."
"Yes, indeed!" said the old man, and made as if he would come out
of the garden to meet the lady. Miss Bartlett promptly got into
the victoria. Thus entrenched, she emitted a formal bow. It was
the pension Bertolini again, the dining-table with the decanters
of water and wine. It was the old, old battle of the room with
George did not respond to the bow. Like any boy, he blushed and
was ashamed; he knew that the chaperon remembered. He said: "I--
I'll come up to tennis if I can manage it," and went into the
house. Perhaps anything that he did would have pleased Lucy, but
his awkwardness went straight to her heart; men were not gods
after all, but as human and as clumsy as girls; even men might
suffer from unexplained desires, and need help. To one of her
upbringing, and of her destination, the weakness of men was a
truth unfamiliar, but she had surmised it at Florence, when
George threw her photographs into the River Arno.
"George, don't go," cried his father, who thought it a great
treat for people if his son would talk to them. "George has been
in such good spirits today, and I am sure he will end by coming
up this afternoon."
Lucy caught her cousin's eye. Something in its mute appeal made
her reckless. "Yes," she said, raising her voice, "I do hope he
will." Then she went to the carriage and murmured, "The old man
hasn't been told; I knew it was all right." Mrs. Honeychurch
followed her, and they drove away.
Satisfactory that Mr. Emerson had not been told of the Florence
escapade; yet Lucy's spirits should not have leapt up as if she
had sighted the ramparts of heaven. Satisfactory; yet surely she
greeted it with disproportionate joy. All the way home the
horses' hoofs sang a tune to her: "He has not told, he has not
told." Her brain expanded the melody: "He has not told his
father--to whom he tells all things. It was not an exploit. He
did not laugh at me when I had gone." She raised her hand to her
cheek. "He does not love me. No. How terrible if he did! But he
has not told. He will not tell."
She longed to shout the words: "It is all right. It's a secret
between us two for ever. Cecil will never hear." She was even
glad that Miss Bartlett had made her promise secrecy, that last
dark evening at Florence, when they had knelt packing in his
room. The secret, big or little, was guarded.
Only three English people knew of it in the world. Thus she
interpreted her joy. She greeted Cecil with unusual radiance,
because she felt so safe. As he helped her out of the carriage,
"The Emersons have been so nice. George Emerson has improved
"How are my proteges?" asked Cecil, who took no real interest in
them, and had long since forgotten his resolution to bring them
to Windy Corner for educational purposes.
"Proteges!" she exclaimed with some warmth. For the only
relationship which Cecil conceived was feudal: that of protector
and protected. He had no glimpse of the comradeship after which
the girl's soul yearned.
"You shall see for yourself how your proteges are. George Emerson
is coming up this afternoon. He is a most interesting man to talk
to. Only don't--" She nearly said, "Don't protect him." But the
bell was ringing for lunch, and, as often happened, Cecil had
paid no great attention to her remarks. Charm, not argument, was
to be her forte.
Lunch was a cheerful meal. Generally Lucy was depressed at meals.
Some one had to be soothed--either Cecil or Miss Bartlett or a
Being not visible to the mortal eye--a Being who whispered to her
soul: "It will not last, this cheerfulness. In January you must
go to London to entertain the grandchildren of celebrated men."
But to-day she felt she had received a guarantee. Her mother
would always sit there, her brother here. The sun, though it had
moved a little since the morning, would never be hidden behind
the western hills. After luncheon they asked her to play. She had
seen Gluck's Armide that year, and played from memory the music
of the enchanted garden--the music to which Renaud approaches,
beneath the light of an eternal dawn, the music that never gains,
never wanes, but ripples for ever like the tideless seas of
fairyland. Such music is not for the piano, and her audience
began to get restive, and Cecil, sharing the discontent, called
out: "Now play us the other garden--the one in Parsifal."
She closed the instrument.
"Not very dutiful," said her mother's voice.
Fearing that she had offended Cecil, she turned quickly round.
There George was. He had crept in without interrupting her.
"Oh, I had no idea!" she exclaimed, getting very red; and then,
without a word of greeting, she reopened the piano. Cecil should
have the Parsifal, and anything else that he liked.
"Our performer has changed her mind," said Miss Bartlett, perhaps
implying, she will play the music to Mr. Emerson. Lucy did not
know what to do nor even what she wanted to do. She played a few
bars of the Flower Maidens' song very badly and then she stopped.
"I vote tennis," said Freddy, disgusted at the scrappy
"Yes, so do I." Once more she closed the unfortunate piano. "I
vote you have a men's four."
"Not for me, thank you," said Cecil. "I will not spoil the set."
He never realized that it may be an act of kindness in a bad
player to make up a fourth.
"Oh, come along Cecil. I'm bad, Floyd's rotten, and so I dare
George corrected him: "I am not bad."
One looked down one's nose at this. "Then certainly I won't
play," said Cecil, while Miss Bartlett, under the impression that
she was snubbing George, added: "I agree with you, Mr. Vyse. You
had much better not play. Much better not."
Minnie, rushing in where Cecil feared to tread, announced that
she would play. "I shall miss every ball anyway, so what does it
matter?" But Sunday intervened and stamped heavily upon the
"Then it will have to be Lucy," said Mrs. Honeychurch; "you must
fall back on Lucy. There is no other way out of it. Lucy, go and
change your frock."
Lucy's Sabbath was generally of this amphibious nature. She kept
it without hypocrisy in the morning, and broke it without
reluctance in the afternoon. As she changed her frock, she
wondered whether Cecil was sneering at her; really she must
overhaul herself and settle everything up before she married him.
Mr. Floyd was her partner. She liked music, but how much better
tennis seemed. How much better to run about in comfortable
clothes than to sit at the piano and feel girt under the arms.
Once more music appeared to her the employment of a child. George
served, and surprised her by his anxiety to win. She remembered
how he had sighed among the tombs at Santa Croce because things
wouldn't fit; how after the death of that obscure Italian he had
leant over the parapet by the Arno and said to her: "I shall want
to live, I tell you," He wanted to live now, to win at tennis, to
stand for all he was worth in the sun--the sun which had begun to
decline and was shining in her eyes; and he did win.
Ah, how beautiful the Weald looked! The hills stood out above its
radiance, as Fiesole stands above the Tuscan Plain, and the South
Downs, if one chose, were the mountains of Carrara. She might be
forgetting her Italy, but she was noticing more things in her
England. One could play a new game with the view, and try to find
in its innumerable folds some town or village that would do for
Florence. Ah, how beautiful the Weald looked!
But now Cecil claimed her. He chanced to be in a lucid critical
mood, and would not sympathize with exaltation. He had been
rather a nuisance all through the tennis, for the novel that he
was reading was so bad that he was obliged to read it aloud to
others. He would stroll round the precincts of the court and call
out: "I say, listen to this, Lucy. Three split infinitives."
"Dreadful!" said Lucy, and missed her stroke. When they had
finished their set, he still went on reading; there was some
murder scene, and really every one must listen to it. Freddy and
Mr. Floyd were obliged to hunt for a lost ball in the laurels,
but the other two acquiesced.
"The scene is laid in Florence."
"What fun, Cecil! Read away. Come, Mr. Emerson, sit down after
all your energy." She had "forgiven" George, as she put it, and
she made a point of being pleasant to him.
He jumped over the net and sat down at her feet asking: "You--and
are you tired?"
"Of course I'm not!"
"Do you mind being beaten?"
She was going to answer, "No," when it struck her that she did
mind, so she answered, "Yes." She added merrily, "I don't see
you're such a splendid player, though. The light was behind you,
and it was in my eyes."
"I never said I was."
"Why, you did!"
"You didn't attend."
"You said--oh, don't go in for accuracy at this house. We all
exaggerate, and we get very angry with people who don't."
"'The scene is laid in Florence,'" repeated Cecil, with an upward
Lucy recollected herself.
"'Sunset. Leonora was speeding--'"
Lucy interrupted. "Leonora? Is Leonora the heroine? Who's the
"Joseph Emery Prank. 'Sunset. Leonora speeding across the square.
Pray the saints she might not arrive too late. Sunset--the sunset
of Italy. Under Orcagna's Loggia--the Loggia de' Lanzi, as we
sometimes call it now--'"
Lucy burst into laughter. "'Joseph Emery Prank' indeed! Why it's
Miss Lavish! It's Miss Lavish's novel, and she's publishing it
under somebody else's name."
"Who may Miss Lavish be?"
"Oh, a dreadful person--Mr. Emerson, you remember Miss Lavish?"
Excited by her pleasant afternoon, she clapped her hands.
George looked up. "Of course I do. I saw her the day I arrived at
Summer Street. It was she who told me that you lived here."
"Weren't you pleased?" She meant "to see Miss Lavish," but when
he bent down to the grass without replying, it struck her that
she could mean something else. She watched his head, which was
almost resting against her knee, and she thought that the ears
were reddening. "No wonder the novel's bad," she added. "I never
liked Miss Lavish. But I suppose one ought to read it as one's
"All modern books are bad," said Cecil, who was annoyed at her
inattention, and vented his annoyance on literature. "Every one
writes for money in these days."
"It is so. I will inflict Joseph Emery Prank on you no longer."
Cecil, this afternoon seemed such a twittering sparrow. The ups
and downs in his voice were noticeable, but they did not affect
her. She had dwelt amongst melody and movement, and her nerves
refused to answer to the clang of his. Leaving him to be annoyed,
she gazed at the black head again. She did not want to stroke it,
but she saw herself wanting to stroke it; the sensation was
"How do you like this view of ours, Mr. Emerson?"
"I never notice much difference in views."
"What do you mean?"
"Because they're all alike. Because all that matters in them is
distance and air."
"H'm!" said Cecil, uncertain whether the remark was striking or
"My father"--he looked up at her (and he was a little flushed)--
"says that there is only one perfect view--the view of the sky
straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are
but bungled copies of it."
"I expect your father has been reading Dante," said Cecil,
fingering the novel, which alone permitted him to lead the
"He told us another day that views are really crowds--crowds of
trees and houses and hills--and are bound to resemble each other,
like human crowds--and that the power they have over us is
sometimes supernatural, for the same reason."
Lucy's lips parted.
"For a crowd is more than the people who make it up. Something
gets added to it--no one knows how--just as something has got
added to those hills."
He pointed with his racquet to the South Downs.
"What a splendid idea!" she murmured. "I shall enjoy hearing your
father talk again. I'm so sorry he's not so well."
"No, he isn't well."
"There's an absurd account of a view in this book," said Cecil.
"Also that men fall into two classes--those who forget views and
those who remember them, even in small rooms."
"Mr. Emerson, have you any brothers or sisters?"
"You spoke of 'us.'"
"My mother, I was meaning."
Cecil closed the novel with a bang.
"Oh, Cecil--how you made me jump!"
"I will inflict Joseph Emery Prank on you no longer."
"I can just remember us all three going into the country for the
day and seeing as far as Hindhead. It is the first thing that I
Cecil got up; the man was ill-bred--he hadn't put on his coat
after tennis--he didn't do. He would have strolled away if Lucy
had not stopped him.
"Cecil, do read the thing about the view."
"Not while Mr. Emerson is here to entertain us."
"No--read away. I think nothing's funnier than to hear silly
things read out loud. If Mr. Emerson thinks us frivolous, he can
This struck Cecil as subtle, and pleased him. It put their
visitor in the position of a prig. Somewhat mollified, he sat
"Mr. Emerson, go and find tennis balls." She opened the book.
Cecil must have his reading and anything else that he liked. But
her attention wandered to George's mother, who--according to Mr.
Eager--had been murdered in the sight of God according to her
son--had seen as far as Hindhead.
"Am I really to go?" asked George.
"No, of course not really," she answered.
"Chapter two," said Cecil, yawning. "Find me chapter two, if it
isn't bothering you."
Chapter two was found, and she glanced at its opening sentences.
She thought she had gone mad.
"Here--hand me the book."
She heard her voice saying: "It isn't worth reading--it's too
silly to read--I never saw such rubbish--it oughtn't to be
allowed to be printed."
He took the book from her.
"'Leonora,'" he read, "'sat pensive and alone. Before her lay the
rich champaign of Tuscany, dotted over with many a smiling
village. The season was spring.'"
Miss Lavish knew, somehow, and had printed the past in draggled
prose, for Cecil to read and for George to hear.
"'A golden haze,'" he read. He read: "'Afar off the towers of
Florence, while the bank on which she sat was carpeted with
violets. All unobserved Antonio stole up behind her--'"
Lest Cecil should see her face she turned to George and saw his
He read: "'There came from his lips no wordy protestation such as
formal lovers use. No eloquence was his, nor did he suffer from
the lack of it. He simply enfolded her in his manly arms.'"
"This isn't the passage I wanted," he informed them. "there is
another much funnier, further on." He turned over the leaves.
"Should we go in to tea?" said Lucy, whose voice remained steady.
She led the way up the garden, Cecil following her, George last.
She thought a disaster was averted. But when they entered the
shrubbery it came. The book, as if it had not worked mischief
enough, had been forgotten, and Cecil must go back for it; and
George, who loved passionately, must blunder against her in the
"No--" she gasped, and, for the second time, was kissed by him.
As if no more was possible, he slipped back; Cecil rejoined her;
they reached the upper lawn alone.
Chapter XVI: Lying to George
But Lucy had developed since the spring. That is to say, she was
now better able to stifle the emotions of which the conventions
and the world disapprove. Though the danger was greater, she was
not shaken by deep sobs. She said to Cecil, "I am not coming in
to tea--tell mother--I must write some letters," and went up to
her room. Then she prepared for action. Love felt and
returned, love which our bodies exact and our hearts have
transfigured, love which is the most real thing that we shall
ever meet, reappeared now as the world's enemy, and she must
She sent for Miss Bartlett.
The contest lay not between love and duty. Perhaps there never is
such a contest. It lay between the real and the pretended, and
Lucy's first aim was to defeat herself. As her brain clouded
over, as the memory of the views grew dim and the words of the
book died away, she returned to her old shibboleth of nerves. She
"conquered her breakdown." Tampering with the truth, she forgot
that the truth had ever been. Remembering that she was engaged to
Cecil, she compelled herself to confused remembrances of George;
he was nothing to her; he never had been anything; he had behaved
abominably; she had never encouraged him. The armour of falsehood
is subtly wrought out of darkness, and hides a man not only from
others, but from his own soul. In a few moments Lucy was equipped
"Something too awful has happened," she began, as soon as her
cousin arrived. "Do you know anything about Miss Lavish's novel?"
Miss Bartlett looked surprised, and said that she had not read
the book, nor known that it was published; Eleanor was a reticent
woman at heart.
"There is a scene in it. The hero and heroine make love. Do you
know about that?"
"Do you know about it, please?" she repeated. "They are on a
hillside, and Florence is in the distance."
"My good Lucia, I am all at sea. I know nothing about it
"There are violets. I cannot believe it is a coincidence.
Charlotte, Charlotte, how could you have told her? I have thought
before speaking; it must be you."
"Told her what?" she asked, with growing agitation.
"About that dreadful afternoon in February."
Miss Bartlett was genuinely moved. "Oh, Lucy, dearest girl--she
hasn't put that in her book?"
"Not so that one could recognize it. Yes."
"Then never--never--never more shall Eleanor Lavish be a friend
"So you did tell?"
"I did just happen--when I had tea with her at Rome--in the
course of conversation--"
"But Charlotte--what about the promise you gave me when we were
packing? Why did you tell Miss Lavish, when you wouldn't even let
me tell mother?"
"I will never forgive Eleanor. She has betrayed my confidence."
"Why did you tell her, though? This is a most serious thing."
Why does any one tell anything? The question is eternal, and it
was not surprising that Miss Bartlett should only sigh faintly in
response. She had done wrong--she admitted it, she only hoped
that she had not done harm; she had told Eleanor in the strictest
Lucy stamped with irritation.
"Cecil happened to read out the passage aloud to me and to Mr.
Emerson; it upset Mr. Emerson and he insulted me again. Behind
Cecil's back. Ugh! Is it possible that men are such brutes?
Behind Cecil's back as we were walking up the garden."
Miss Bartlett burst into self-accusations and regrets.
"What is to be done now? Can you tell me?"
"Oh, Lucy--I shall never forgive myself, never to my dying day.
Fancy if your prospects--"
"I know," said Lucy, wincing at the word. "I see now why you
wanted me to tell Cecil, and what you meant by 'some other
source.' You knew that you had told Miss Lavish, and that she was
It was Miss Bartlett's turn to wince. "However," said the girl,
despising her cousin's shiftiness, "What's done's done. You have
put me in a most awkward position. How am I to get out of it?"
Miss Bartlett could not think. The days of her energy were over.
She was a visitor, not a chaperon, and a discredited visitor at
that. She stood with clasped hands while the girl worked herself
into the necessary rage.
"He must--that man must have such a setting down that he won't
forget. And who's to give it him? I can't tell mother now--owing
to you. Nor Cecil, Charlotte, owing to you. I am caught up every
way. I think I shall go mad. I have no one to help me. That's why
I've sent for you. What's wanted is a man with a whip."
Miss Bartlett agreed: one wanted a man with a whip.
"Yes--but it's no good agreeing. What's to be DONE. We women go
maundering on. What DOES a girl do when she comes across a cad?"
"I always said he was a cad, dear. Give me credit for that, at
all events. From the very first moment--when he said his father
was having a bath."
"Oh, bother the credit and who's been right or wrong! We've both
made a muddle of it. George Emerson is still down the garden
there, and is he to be left unpunished, or isn't he? I want to
Miss Bartlett was absolutely helpless. Her own exposure had
unnerved her, and thoughts were colliding painfully in her brain.
She moved feebly to the window, and tried to detect the cad's
white flannels among the laurels.
"You were ready enough at the Bertolini when you rushed me off to
Rome. Can't you speak again to him now?"
"Willingly would I move heaven and earth--"
"I want something more definite," said Lucy contemptuously. "Will
you speak to him? It is the least you can do, surely, considering
it all happened because you broke your word."
"Never again shall Eleanor Lavish be a friend of mine."
Really, Charlotte was outdoing herself.
"Yes or no, please; yes or no."
"It is the kind of thing that only a gentleman can settle."
George Emerson was coming up the garden with a tennis ball in his
"Very well," said Lucy, with an angry gesture. "No one will help
me. I will speak to him myself." And immediately she realized
that this was what her cousin had intended all along.
"Hullo, Emerson!" called Freddy from below. "Found the lost ball?
Good man! Want any tea?" And there was an irruption from the
house on to the terrace.
"Oh, Lucy, but that is brave of you! I admire you--"
They had gathered round George, who beckoned, she felt, over the
rubbish, the sloppy thoughts, the furtive yearnings that were
beginning to cumber her soul. Her anger faded at the sight of
him. Ah! The Emersons were fine people in their way. She had to
subdue a rush in her blood before saying:
"Freddy has taken him into the dining-room. The others are going
down the garden. Come. Let us get this over quickly. Come. I want
you in the room, of course."
"Lucy, do you mind doing it?"
"How can you ask such a ridiculous question?"
"Poor Lucy--" She stretched out her hand. "I seem to bring
nothing but misfortune wherever I go." Lucy nodded. She
remembered their last evening at Florence--the packing, the
candle, the shadow of Miss Bartlett's toque on the door. She was
not to be trapped by pathos a second time. Eluding her cousin's
caress, she led the way downstairs.
"Try the jam," Freddy was saying. "The jam's jolly good."
George, looking big and dishevelled, was pacing up and down the
dining-room. As she entered he stopped, and said:
"No--nothing to eat."
"You go down to the others," said Lucy; "Charlotte and I will
give Mr. Emerson all he wants. Where's mother?"
"She's started on her Sunday writing. She's in the drawing-room."
"That's all right. You go away."
He went off singing.
Lucy sat down at the table. Miss Bartlett, who was thoroughly
frightened, took up a book and pretended to read.
She would not be drawn into an elaborate speech. She just said:
"I can't have it, Mr. Emerson. I cannot even talk to you. Go out
of this house, and never come into it again as long as I live
here--" flushing as she spoke and pointing to the door. "I hate a
row. Go please."
"But I can't--"
She shook her head. "Go, please. I do not want to call in Mr.
"You don't mean," he said, absolutely ignoring Miss Bartlett--
"you don't mean that you are going to marry that man?"
The line was unexpected.
She shrugged her shoulders, as if his vulgarity wearied her. "You
are merely ridiculous," she said quietly.
Then his words rose gravely over hers: "You cannot live with
Vyse. He's only for an acquaintance. He is for society and
cultivated talk. He should know no one intimately, least of all a
It was a new light on Cecil's character.
"Have you ever talked to Vyse without feeling tired?"
"I can scarcely discuss--"
"No, but have you ever? He is the sort who are all right so long
as they keep to things--books, pictures--but kill when they come
to people. That's why I'll speak out through all this muddle even
now. It's shocking enough to lose you in any case, but generally
a man must deny himself joy, and I would have held back if your
Cecil had been a different person. I would never have let myself
go. But I saw him first in the National Gallery, when he winced
because my father mispronounced the names of great painters. Then
he brings us here, and we find it is to play some silly trick on
a kind neighbour. That is the man all over--playing tricks on
people, on the most sacred form of life that he can find. Next, I
meet you together, and find him protecting and teaching you and
your mother to be shocked, when it was for YOU to settle whether
you were shocked or no. Cecil all over again. He daren't let a
woman decide. He's the type who's kept Europe back for a thousand
years. Every moment of his life he's forming you, telling you
what's charming or amusing or ladylike, telling you what a man
thinks womanly; and you, you of all women, listen to his voice
instead of to your own. So it was at the Rectory, when I met you
both again; so it has been the whole of this afternoon. Therefore
--not 'therefore I kissed you,' because the book made me do that,
and I wish to goodness I had more self-control. I'm not ashamed.
I don't apologize. But it has frightened you, and you may not
have noticed that I love you. Or would you have told me to go,
and dealt with a tremendous thing so lightly? But therefore--
therefore I settled to fight him."
Lucy thought of a very good remark.
"You say Mr. Vyse wants me to listen to him, Mr. Emerson. Pardon
me for suggesting that you have caught the habit."
And he took the shoddy reproof and touched it into immortality.
"Yes, I have," and sank down as if suddenly weary. "I'm the same
kind of brute at bottom. This desire to govern a woman--it lies
very deep, and men and women must fight it together before they
shall enter the garden. But I do love you surely in a better way
than he does." He thought. "Yes--really in a better way. I want
you to have your own thoughts even when I hold you in my arms,"
He stretched them towards her. "Lucy, be quick--there's no time
for us to talk now--come to me as you came in the spring, and
afterwards I will be gentle and explain. I have cared for you
since that man died. I cannot live without you, 'No good,' I
thought; 'she is marrying some one else'; but I meet you again
when all the world is glorious water and sun. As you came through
the wood I saw that nothing else mattered. I called. I wanted to
live and have my chance of joy."
"And Mr. Vyse?" said Lucy, who kept commendably calm. "Does he
not matter? That I love Cecil and shall be his wife shortly? A
detail of no importance, I suppose?"
But he stretched his arms over the table towards her.
"May I ask what you intend to gain by this exhibition?"
He said: "It is our last chance. I shall do all that I can." And
as if he had done all else, he turned to Miss Bartlett, who sat
like some portent against the skies of the evening. "You wouldn't
stop us this second time if you understood," he said. "I have
been into the dark, and I am going back into it, unless you will
try to understand."
Her long, narrow head drove backwards and forwards, as though
demolishing some invisible obstacle. She did not answer.
"It is being young," he said quietly, picking up his racquet from
the floor and preparing to go. "It is being certain that Lucy
cares for me really. It is that love and youth matter
In silence the two women watched him. His last remark, they knew,
was nonsense, but was he going after it or not? Would not he, the
cad, the charlatan, attempt a more dramatic finish? No. He was
apparently content. He left them, carefully closing the front
door; and when they looked through the hall window, they saw him
go up the drive and begin to climb the slopes of withered fern
behind the house. Their tongues were loosed, and they burst into
"Oh, Lucia--come back here--oh, what an awful man!"
Lucy had no reaction--at least, not yet. "Well, he amuses me,"
she said. "Either I'm mad, or else he is, and I'm inclined to
think it's the latter. One more fuss through with you, Charlotte.
Many thanks. I think, though, that this is the last. My admirer
will hardly trouble me again."
And Miss Bartlett, too, essayed the roguish:
"Well, it isn't every one who could boast such a conquest,
dearest, is it? Oh, one oughtn't to laugh, really. It might have
been very serious. But you were so sensible and brave--so unlike
the girls of my day."
"Let's go down to them."
But, once in the open air, she paused. Some emotion--pity,
terror, love, but the emotion was strong--seized her, and she was
aware of autumn. Summer was ending, and the evening brought her
odours of decay, the more pathetic because they were reminiscent
of spring. That something or other mattered intellectually? A
leaf, violently agitated, danced past her, while other leaves lay
motionless. That the earth was hastening to re-enter darkness,
and the shadows of those trees over Windy Corner?
"Hullo, Lucy! There's still light enough for another set, if you
"Mr. Emerson has had to go."
"What a nuisance! That spoils the four. I say, Cecil, do play,
do, there's a good chap. It's Floyd's last day. Do play tennis
with us, just this once."
Cecil's voice came: "My dear Freddy, I am no athlete. As you well
remarked this very morning, 'There are some chaps who are no good
for anything but books'; I plead guilty to being such a chap, and
will not inflict myself on you."
The scales fell from Lucy's eyes. How had she stood Cecil for a
moment? He was absolutely intolerable, and the same evening she
broke off her engagement.
Chapter XVII: Lying to Cecil
He was bewildered. He had nothing to say. He was not even angry,
but stood, with a glass of whiskey between his hands, trying to
think what had led her to such a conclusion.
She had chosen the moment before bed, when, in accordance with
their bourgeois habit, she always dispensed drinks to the men.
Freddy and Mr. Floyd were sure to retire with their glasses,
while Cecil invariably lingered, sipping at his while she locked
up the sideboard.
"I am very sorry about it," she said; "I have carefully thought
things over. We are too different. I must ask you to release me,
and try to forget that there ever was such a foolish girl."
It was a suitable speech, but she was more angry than sorry, and
her voice showed it.
"I haven't had a really good education, for one thing," she
continued, still on her knees by the sideboard. "My Italian trip
came too late, and I am forgetting all that I learnt there. I
shall never be able to talk to your friends, or behave as a wife
of yours should."
"I don't understand you. You aren't like yourself. You're tired,
"Tired!" she retorted, kindling at once. "That is exactly like
you. You always think women don't mean what they say."
"Well, you sound tired, as if something has worried you."
"What if I do? It doesn't prevent me from realizing the truth. I
can't marry you, and you will thank me for saying so some day."
"You had that bad headache yesterday--All right"--for she had
exclaimed indignantly: "I see it's much more than headaches. But
give me a moment's time." He closed his eyes. "You must excuse me
if I say stupid things, but my brain has gone to pieces. Part of
it lives three minutes back, when I was sure that you loved me,
and the other part--I find it difficult--I am likely to say the
It struck her that he was not behaving so badly, and her
irritation increased. She again desired a struggle, not a
discussion. To bring on the crisis, she said:
"There are days when one sees clearly, and this is one of them.
Things must come to a breaking-point some time, and it happens to
be to-day. If you want to know, quite a little thing decided me
to speak to you--when you wouldn't play tennis with Freddy."
"I never do play tennis," said Cecil, painfully bewildered; "I
never could play. I don't understand a word you say."
"You can play well enough to make up a four. I thought it
abominably selfish of you."
"No, I can't--well, never mind the tennis. Why couldn't
you--couldn't you have warned me if you felt anything wrong? You
talked of our wedding at lunch--at least, you let me talk."
"I knew you wouldn't understand," said Lucy quite crossly. "I
might have known there would have been these dreadful
explanations. Of course, it isn't the tennis--that was only the
last straw to all I have been feeling for weeks. Surely it was
better not to speak until I felt certain." She developed this
position. "Often before I have wondered if I was fitted for your
wife--for instance, in London; and are you fitted to be my
husband? I don't think so. You don't like Freddy, nor my mother.
There was always a lot against our engagement, Cecil, but all our
relations seemed pleased, and we met so often, and it was no good
mentioning it until--well, until all things came to a point. They
have to-day. I see clearly. I must speak. That's all."
"I cannot think you were right," said Cecil gently. "I cannot
tell why, but though all that you say sounds true, I feel that
you are not treating me fairly. It's all too horrible."
"What's the good of a scene?"
"No good. But surely I have a right to hear a little more."
He put down his glass and opened the window. From where she
knelt, jangling her keys, she could see a slit of darkness, and,
peering into it, as if it would tell him that "little more," his
long, thoughtful face.
"Don't open the window; and you'd better draw the curtain, too;
Freddy or any one might be outside." He obeyed. "I really think
we had better go to bed, if you don't mind. I shall only say
things that will make me unhappy afterwards. As you say it is all
too horrible, and it is no good talking."
But to Cecil, now that he was about to lose her, she seemed each
moment more desirable. He looked at her, instead of through her,
for the first time since they were engaged. From a Leonardo she
had become a living woman, with mysteries and forces of her own,
with qualities that even eluded art. His brain recovered from the
shock, and, in a burst of genuine devotion, he cried: "But I love
you, and I did think you loved me!"
"I did not," she said. "I thought I did at first. I am sorry, and
ought to have refused you this last time, too."
He began to walk up and down the room, and she grew more and more
vexed at his dignified behaviour. She had counted on his being
petty. It would have made things easier for her. By a cruel irony
she was drawing out all that was finest in his disposition.
"You don't love me, evidently. I dare say you are right not to.
But it would hurt a little less if I knew why."
"Because"--a phrase came to her, and she accepted it--"you're the
sort who can't know any one intimately."
A horrified look came into his eyes.
"I don't mean exactly that. But you will question me, though I
beg you not to, and I must say something. It is that, more or
less. When we were only acquaintances, you let me be myself, but
now you're always protecting me." Her voice swelled. "I won't be
protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right.
To shield me is an insult. Can't I be trusted to face the truth
but I must get it second-hand through you? A woman's place! You
despise my mother--I know you do--because she's conventional and
bothers over puddings; but, oh goodness!"--she rose to her
feet--"conventional, Cecil, you're that, for you may understand
beautiful things, but you don't know how to use them; and you
wrap yourself up in art and books and music, and would try to
wrap up me. I won't be stifled, not by the most glorious music,
for people are more glorious, and you hide them from me. That's
why I break off my engagement. You were all right as long as you
kept to things, but when you came to people--" She stopped.
There was a pause. Then Cecil said with great emotion:
"It is true."
"True on the whole," she corrected, full of some vague shame.
"True, every word. It is a revelation. It is--I."
"Anyhow, those are my reasons for not being your wife."
He repeated: "'The sort that can know no one intimately.' It is
true. I fell to pieces the very first day we were engaged. I
behaved like a cad to Beebe and to your brother. You are even
greater than I thought." She withdrew a step. "I'm not going to
worry you. You are far too good to me. I shall never forget your
insight; and, dear, I only blame you for this: you might have
warned me in the early stages, before you felt you wouldn't marry
me, and so have given me a chance to improve. I have never known
you till this evening. I have just used you as a peg for my silly
notions of what a woman should be. But this evening you are a
different person: new thoughts--even a new voice--"
"What do you mean by a new voice?" she asked, seized with
"I mean that a new person seems speaking through you," said he.
Then she lost her balance. She cried: "If you think I am in love
with some one else, you are very much mistaken."
"Of course I don't think that. You are not that kind, Lucy."
"Oh, yes, you do think it. It's your old idea, the idea that has
kept Europe back--I mean the idea that women are always thinking
of men. If a girl breaks off her engagement, every one says: 'Oh,
she had some one else in her mind; she hopes to get some one
else.' It's disgusting, brutal! As if a girl can't break it off
for the sake of freedom."
He answered reverently: "I may have said that in the past. I
shall never say it again. You have taught me better."
She began to redden, and pretended to examine the windows again.
"Of course, there is no question of 'some one else' in this, no
'jilting' or any such nauseous stupidity. I beg your pardon most
humbly if my words suggested that there was. I only meant that
there was a force in you that I hadn't known of up till now."
"All right, Cecil, that will do. Don't apologize to me. It was my
"It is a question between ideals, yours and mine--pure abstract
ideals, and yours are the nobler. I was bound up in the old
vicious notions, and all the time you were splendid and new." His
voice broke. "I must actually thank you for what you have done--
for showing me what I really am. Solemnly, I thank you for
showing me a true woman. Will you shake hands?"
"Of course I will," said Lucy, twisting up her other hand in the
curtains. "Good-night, Cecil. Good-bye. That's all right. I'm
sorry about it. Thank you very much for your gentleness."
"Let me light your candle, shall I?"
They went into the hall.
"Thank you. Good-night again. God bless you, Lucy!"
She watched him steal up-stairs, while the shadows from three
banisters passed over her face like the beat of wings. On the
landing he paused strong in his renunciation, and gave her a
look of memorable beauty. For all his culture, Cecil was an
ascetic at heart, and nothing in his love became him like the
leaving of it.
She could never marry. In the tumult of her soul, that stood
firm. Cecil believed in her; she must some day believe in
herself. She must be one of the women whom she had praised so
eloquently, who care for liberty and not for men; she must forget
that George loved her, that George had been thinking through her
and gained her this honourable release, that George had gone
away into--what was it?--the darkness.
She put out the lamp.
It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that to feel. She
gave up trying to understand herself, and the vast armies of the
benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and
march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of
pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy
that matters--the enemy within. They have sinned against passion
and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the
years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety
show cracks, their wit becomes cynicism, their unselfishness
hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go.
They have sinned against Eros and against Pallas Athene, and not
by any heavenly intervention, but by the ordinary course of
nature, those allied deities will be avenged.
Lucy entered this army when she pretended to George that she did
not love him, and pretended to Cecil that she loved no one. The
night received her, as it had received Miss Bartlett thirty years
Chapter XVIII: Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and
Windy Corner lay, not on the summit of the ridge, but a few
hundred feet down the southern slope, at the springing of one of
the great buttresses that supported the hill. On either side of
it was a shallow ravine, filled with ferns and pine-trees, and
down the ravine on the left ran the highway into the Weald.
Whenever Mr. Beebe crossed the ridge and caught sight of these
noble dispositions of the earth, and, poised in the middle of
them, Windy Corner,--he laughed. The situation was so glorious,
the house so commonplace, not to say impertinent. The late Mr.
Honeychurch had affected the cube, because it gave him the most
accommodation for his money, and the only addition made by his
widow had been a small turret, shaped like a rhinoceros' horn,
where she could sit in wet weather and watch the carts going up
and down the road. So impertinent--and yet the house "did," for
it was the home of people who loved their surroundings honestly.
Other houses in the neighborhood had been built by expensive
architects, over others their inmates had fidgeted sedulously,
yet all these suggested the accidental, the temporary; while
Windy Corner seemed as inevitable as an ugliness of Nature's own
creation. One might laugh at the house, but one never shuddered.
Mr. Beebe was bicycling over this Monday afternoon with a piece
of gossip. He had heard from the Miss Alans. These admirable
ladies, since they could not go to Cissie Villa, had changed
their plans. They were going to Greece instead.
"Since Florence did my poor sister so much good," wrote Miss
Catharine, "we do not see why we should not try Athens this
winter. Of course, Athens is a plunge, and the doctor has ordered
her special digestive bread; but, after all, we can take that
with us, and it is only getting first into a steamer and then
into a train. But is there an English Church?" And the letter
went on to say: "I do not expect we shall go any further than
Athens, but if you knew of a really comfortable pension at
Constantinople, we should be so grateful."
Lucy would enjoy this letter, and the smile with which Mr. Beebe
greeted Windy Corner was partly for her. She would see the fun of
it, and some of its beauty, for she must see some beauty. Though
she was hopeless about pictures, and though she dressed so
unevenly--oh, that cerise frock yesterday at church!--she must
see some beauty in life, or she could not play the piano as she
did. He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and
know far less than other artists what they want and what they
are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that
their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been
understood. This theory, had he known it, had possibly just been
illustrated by facts. Ignorant of the events of yesterday he was
only riding over to get some tea, to see his niece, and to
observe whether Miss Honeychurch saw anything beautiful in the
desire of two old ladies to visit Athens.
A carriage was drawn up outside Windy Corner, and just as he
caught sight of the house it started, bowled up the drive, and
stopped abruptly when it reached the main road. Therefore it must
be the horse, who always expected people to walk up the hill in
case they tired him. The door opened obediently, and two men
emerged, whom Mr. Beebe recognized as Cecil and Freddy. They were
an odd couple to go driving; but he saw a trunk beside the
coachman's legs. Cecil, who wore a bowler, must be going away,
while Freddy (a cap)--was seeing him to the station. They walked
rapidly, taking the short cuts, and reached the summit while the
carriage was still pursuing the windings of the road.
They shook hands with the clergyman, but did not speak.
"So you're off for a minute, Mr. Vyse?" he asked.
Cecil said, "Yes," while Freddy edged away.
"I was coming to show you this delightful letter from those
friends of Miss Honeychurch. He quoted from it. "Isn't it
wonderful? Isn't it romance? most certainly they will go to
Constantinople. They are taken in a snare that cannot fail. They
will end by going round the world."
Cecil listened civilly, and said he was sure that Lucy would be
amused and interested.
"Isn't Romance capricious! I never notice it in you young people;
you do nothing but play lawn tennis, and say that romance is
dead, while the Miss Alans are struggling with all the weapons of
propriety against the terrible thing. 'A really comfortable
pension at Constantinople!' So they call it out of decency, but
in their hearts they want a pension with magic windows opening on
the foam of perilous seas in fairyland forlorn! No ordinary view
will content the Miss Alans. They want the Pension Keats."
"I'm awfully sorry to interrupt, Mr. Beebe," said Freddy, "but
have you any matches?"
"I have," said Cecil, and it did not escape Mr. Beebe's notice
that he spoke to the boy more kindly.
"You have never met these Miss Alans, have you, Mr. Vyse?"
"Then you don't see the wonder of this Greek visit. I haven't
been to Greece myself, and don't mean to go, and I can't imagine
any of my friends going. It is altogether too big for our little
lot. Don't you think so? Italy is just about as much as we can
manage. Italy is heroic, but Greece is godlike or devilish--I am
not sure which, and in either case absolutely out of our suburban
focus. All right, Freddy--I am not being clever, upon my word I
am not--I took the idea from another fellow; and give me those
matches when you've done with them." He lit a cigarette, and went
on talking to the two young men. "I was saying, if our poor
little Cockney lives must have a background, let it be Italian.
Big enough in all conscience. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
for me. There the contrast is just as much as I can realize. But
not the Parthenon, not the frieze of Phidias at any price; and
here comes the victoria."
"You're quite right," said Cecil. "Greece is not for our little
lot"; and he got in. Freddy followed, nodding to the clergyman,
whom he trusted not to be pulling one's leg, really. And before
they had gone a dozen yards he jumped out, and came running back
for Vyse's match-box, which had not been returned. As he took it,
he said: "I'm so glad you only talked about books. Cecil's hard
hit. Lucy won't marry him. If you'd gone on about her, as you did
about them, he might have broken down."
"Late last night. I must go."
"Perhaps they won't want me down there."
"No--go on. Good-bye."
"Thank goodness!" exclaimed Mr. Beebe to himself, and struck the
saddle of his bicycle approvingly, "It was the one foolish thing
she ever did. Oh, what a glorious riddance!" And, after a little
thought, he negotiated the slope into Windy Corner, light of
heart. The house was again as it ought to be--cut off forever
from Cecil's pretentious world.
He would find Miss Minnie down in the garden.
In the drawing-room Lucy was tinkling at a Mozart Sonata. He
hesitated a moment, but went down the garden as requested. There
he found a mournful company. It was a blustering day, and the
wind had taken and broken the dahlias. Mrs. Honeychurch, who
looked cross, was tying them up, while Miss Bartlett, unsuitably
dressed, impeded her with offers of assistance. At a little
distance stood Minnie and the "garden-child," a minute
importation, each holding either end of a long piece of bass.
"Oh, how do you do, Mr. Beebe? Gracious what a mess everything
is! Look at my scarlet pompons, and the wind blowing your skirts
about, and the ground so hard that not a prop will stick in, and
then the carriage having to go out, when I had counted on having
Powell, who--give every one their due--does tie up dahlias
Evidently Mrs. Honeychurch was shattered.
"How do you do?" said Miss Bartlett, with a meaning glance, as
though conveying that more than dahlias had been broken off by
the autumn gales.
"Here, Lennie, the bass," cried Mrs. Honeychurch. The
garden-child, who did not know what bass was, stood rooted to the
path with horror. Minnie slipped to her uncle and whispered that
every one was very disagreeable to-day, and that it was not her
fault if dahlia-strings would tear longways instead of across.
"Come for a walk with me," he told her. "You have worried them as
much as they can stand. Mrs. Honeychurch, I only called in
aimlessly. I shall take her up to tea at the Beehive Tavern, if I
"Oh, must you? Yes do.--Not the scissors, thank you, Charlotte,
when both my hands are full already--I'm perfectly certain that
the orange cactus will go before I can get to it."
Mr. Beebe, who was an adept at relieving situations, invited Miss
Bartlett to accompany them to this mild festivity.
"Yes, Charlotte, I don't want you--do go; there's nothing to stop
about for, either in the house or out of it."
Miss Bartlett said that her duty lay in the dahlia bed, but when
she had exasperated every one, except Minnie, by a refusal, she
turned round and exasperated Minnie by an acceptance. As they
walked up the garden, the orange cactus fell, and Mr. Beebe's
last vision was of the garden-child clasping it like a lover, his
dark head buried in a wealth of blossom.
"It is terrible, this havoc among the flowers," he remarked.
"It is always terrible when the promise of months is destroyed in
a moment," enunciated Miss Bartlett.
"Perhaps we ought to send Miss Honeychurch down to her mother. Or
will she come with us?"
"I think we had better leave Lucy to herself, and to her own
"They're angry with Miss Honeychurch because she was late for
breakfast," whispered Minnie, "and Floyd has gone, and Mr. Vyse
has gone, and Freddy won't play with me. In fact, Uncle Arthur,
the house is not AT ALL what it was yesterday."
"Don't be a prig," said her Uncle Arthur. "Go and put on your
He stepped into the drawing-room, where Lucy was still
attentively pursuing the Sonatas of Mozart. She stopped when he
"How do you do? Miss Bartlett and Minnie are coming with me to
tea at the Beehive. Would you come too?"
"I don't think I will, thank you."
"No, I didn't suppose you would care to much."
Lucy turned to the piano and struck a few chords.
"How delicate those Sonatas are!" said Mr. Beebe, though at the
bottom of his heart, he thought them silly little things.
Lucy passed into Schumann.
"I met them on the hill. Your brother told me."
"Oh he did?" She sounded annoyed. Mr. Beebe felt hurt, for he had
thought that she would like him to be told.
"I needn't say that it will go no further."
"Mother, Charlotte, Cecil, Freddy, you," said Lucy, playing a
note for each person who knew, and then playing a sixth note.
"If you'll let me say so, I am very glad, and I am certain that
you have done the right thing."
"So I hoped other people would think, but they don't seem to."
"I could see that Miss Bartlett thought it unwise."
"So does mother. Mother minds dreadfully."
"I am very sorry for that," said Mr. Beebe with feeling.
Mrs. Honeychurch, who hated all changes, did mind, but not nearly
as much as her daughter pretended, and only for the minute. It
was really a ruse of Lucy's to justify her despondency--a ruse of
which she was not herself conscious, for she was marching in the
armies of darkness.
"And Freddy minds."
"Still, Freddy never hit it off with Vyse much, did he? I
gathered that he disliked the engagement, and felt it might
separate him from you."
"Boys are so odd."
Minnie could be heard arguing with Miss Bartlett through the
floor. Tea at the Beehive apparently involved a complete change
of apparel. Mr. Beebe saw that Lucy--very properly--did not wish
to discuss her action, so after a sincere expression of sympathy,
he said, "I have had an absurd letter from Miss Alan. That was
really what brought me over. I thought it might amuse you all."
"How delightful!" said Lucy, in a dull voice.
For the sake of something to do, he began to read her the letter.
After a few words her eyes grew alert, and soon she interrupted
him with "Going abroad? When do they start?"
"Next week, I gather."
"Did Freddy say whether he was driving straight back?"
"No, he didn't."
"Because I do hope he won't go gossiping."
So she did want to talk about her broken engagement. Always
complaisant, he put the letter away. But she, at once exclaimed
in a high voice, "Oh, do tell me more about the Miss Alans! How
perfectly splendid of them to go abroad!"
"I want them to start from Venice, and go in a cargo steamer down
the Illyrian coast!"
She laughed heartily. "Oh, delightful! I wish they'd take me."
"Has Italy filled you with the fever of travel? Perhaps George
Emerson is right. He says that 'Italy is only an euphuism for
"Oh, not Italy, but Constantinople. I have always longed to go to
Constantinople. Constantinople is practically Asia, isn't it?"
Mr. Beebe reminded her that Constantinople was still unlikely,
and that the Miss Alans only aimed at Athens, "with Delphi,
perhaps, if the roads are safe." But this made no difference to
her enthusiasm. She had always longed to go to Greece even more,
it seemed. He saw, to his surprise, that she was apparently
"I didn't realize that you and the Miss Alans were still such
friends, after Cissie Villa."
"Oh, that's nothing; I assure you Cissie Villa's nothing to me; I
would give anything to go with them."
"Would your mother spare you again so soon? You have scarcely
been home three months."
"She MUST spare me!" cried Lucy, in growing excitement. "I simply
MUST go away. I have to." She ran her fingers hysterically
through her hair. "Don't you see that I HAVE to go away? I didn't
realize at the time--and of course I want to see Constantinople
"You mean that since you have broken off your engagement you
"Yes, yes. I knew you'd understand."
Mr. Beebe did not quite understand. Why could not Miss
Honeychurch repose in the bosom of her family? Cecil had evidently
taken up the dignified line, and was not going to annoy her. Then
it struck him that her family itself might be annoying. He hinted
this to her, and she accepted the hint eagerly.
"Yes, of course; to go to Constantinople until they are used to
the idea and everything has calmed down."
"I am afraid it has been a bothersome business," he said gently.
"No, not at all. Cecil was very kind indeed; only--I had better
tell you the whole truth, since you have heard a little--it was
that he is so masterful. I found that he wouldn't let me go my
own way. He would improve me in places where I can't be improved.
Cecil won't let a woman decide for herself--in fact, he daren't.
What nonsense I do talk! but that is the kind of thing."
"It is what I gathered from my own observation of Mr. Vyse; it is
what I gather from all that I have known of you. I do sympathize
and agree most profoundly. I agree so much that you must let me
make one little criticism: Is it worth while rushing off to
"But I must go somewhere!" she cried. "I have been worrying all
the morning, and here comes the very thing." She struck her knees
with clenched fists, and repeated: "I must! And the time I shall
have with mother, and all the money she spent on me last spring.
You all think much too highly of me. I wish you weren't so kind."
At this moment Miss Bartlett entered, and her nervousness
increased. "I must get away, ever so far. I must know my own mind
and where I want to go."
"Come along; tea, tea, tea," said Mr. Beebe, and bustled his
guests out of the front-door. He hustled them so quickly that he
forgot his hat. When he returned for it he heard, to his relief
and surprise, the tinkling of a Mozart Sonata.
"She is playing again," he said to Miss Bartlett.
"Lucy can always play," was the acid reply.
"One is very thankful that she has such a resource. She is
evidently much worried, as, of course, she ought to be. I know
all about it. The marriage was so near that it must have been a
hard struggle before she could wind herself up to speak."
Miss Bartlett gave a kind of wriggle, and he prepared for a
discussion. He had never fathomed Miss Bartlett. As he had put it
to himself at Florence, "she might yet reveal depths of
strangeness, if not of meaning." But she was so unsympathetic
that she must be reliable. He assumed that much, and he had no
hesitation in discussing Lucy with her. Minnie was fortunately
She opened the discussion with: "We had much better let the
"It is of the highest importance that there should be no gossip
in Summer Street. It would be DEATH to gossip about Mr. Vyse's
dismissal at the present moment."
Mr. Beebe raised his eyebrows. Death is a strong word--surely too
strong. There was no question of tragedy. He said: "Of course,
Miss Honeychurch will make the fact public in her own way, and
when she chooses. Freddy only told me because he knew she would
"I know," said Miss Bartlett civilly. "Yet Freddy ought not to
have told even you. One cannot be too careful."
"I do implore absolute secrecy. A chance word to a chattering
"Exactly." He was used to these nervous old maids and to the
exaggerated importance that they attach to words. A rector lives
in a web of petty secrets, and confidences and warnings, and the
wiser he is the less he will regard them. He will change the
subject, as did Mr. Beebe, saying cheerfully: "Have you heard
from any Bertolini people lately? I believe you keep up with Miss
Lavish. It is odd how we of that pension, who seemed such a
fortuitous collection, have been working into one another's
lives. Two, three, four, six of us--no, eight; I had forgotten
the Emersons--have kept more or less in touch. We must really
give the Signora a testimonial."
And, Miss Bartlett not favouring the scheme, they walked up the
hill in a silence which was only broken by the rector naming some
fern. On the summit they paused. The sky had grown wilder since
he stood there last hour, giving to the land a tragic greatness
that is rare in Surrey. Grey clouds were charging across tissues
of white, which stretched and shredded and tore slowly, until
through their final layers there gleamed a hint of the
disappearing blue. Summer was retreating. The wind roared, the
trees groaned, yet the noise seemed insufficient for those vast
operations in heaven. The weather was breaking up, breaking,
broken, and it is a sense of the fit rather than of the
supernatural that equips such crises with the salvos of angelic
artillery. Mr. Beebe's eyes rested on Windy Corner, where Lucy