Part 1 out of 5
ACTIONS AND REACTIONS BY RUDYARD KIPLING
An Habitation Enforced
The Power of the Dog
The Mother Hive
The Bees and the Flies
With the Night Mail
The Four Angels
A Deal in Cotton
The New Knighthood
The Puzzler Little Foxes
The House Surgeon
The Rabbi's Song
ACTIONS AND REACTIONS
AN HABITATION ENFORCED
My friend, if cause doth wrest thee,
Ere folly hath much oppressed thee,
Far from acquaintance kest thee
Where country may digest thee . . .
Thank God that so hath blessed thee,
And sit down, Robin, and rest thee.
It came without warning, at the very hour his hand was
outstretched to crumple the Holz and Gunsberg Combine. The New
York doctors called it overwork, and he lay in a darkened room,
one ankle crossed above the other, tongue pressed into palate,
wondering whether the next brain-surge of prickly fires would
drive his soul from all anchorages. At last they gave judgment.
With care he might in two years return to the arena, but for the
present he must go across the water and do no work whatever. He
accepted the terms. It was capitulation; but the Combine that had
shivered beneath his knife gave him all the honours of war:
Gunsberg himself, full of condolences, came to the steamer and
filled the Chapins' suite of cabins with overwhelming
"Smilax," said George Chapin when he saw them. "Fitz is right.
I'm dead; only I don't see why he left out the 'In Memoriam' on
"Nonsense!" his wife answered, and poured him his tincture.
"You'll be back before you can think."
He looked at himself in the mirror, surprised that his face had
not been branded by the hells of the past three months. The noise
of the decks worried him, and he lay down, his tongue only a
little pressed against his palate.
An hour later he said: "Sophie, I feel sorry about taking you
away from everything like this. I--I suppose we're the two
loneliest people on God's earth to-night."
Said Sophie his wife, and kissed him: "Isn't it something to you
that we're going together?"
They drifted about Europe for months--sometimes alone, sometimes
with chance met gipsies of their own land. From the North Cape to
the Blue Grotto at Capri they wandered, because the next steamer
headed that way, or because some one had set them on the road.
The doctors had warned Sophie that Chapin was not to take
interest even in other men's interests; but a familiar sensation
at the back of the neck after one hour's keen talk with a
Nauheimed railway magnate saved her any trouble. He nearly wept.
"And I'm over thirty," he cried. "With all I meant to do!"
"Let's call it a honeymoon," said Sophie. "D' you know, in all
the six years we've been married, you've never told me what you
meant to do with your life?"
"With my life? What's the use? It's finished now." Sophie looked
up quickly from the Bay of Naples. "As far as my business goes, I
shall have to live on my rents like that architect at San
"You'll get better if you don't worry; and even if it rakes time,
there are worse things than--How much have you?"
"Between four and five million. But it isn't the money. You know
it isn't. It's the principle. How could you respect me? You never
did, the first year after we married, till I went to work like
the others. Our tradition and upbringing are against it. We can't
accept those ideals."
"Well, I suppose I married you for some sort of ideal," she
answered, and they returned to their forty-third hotel.
In England they missed the alien tongues of Continental streets
that reminded them of their own polyglot cities. In England all
men spoke one tongue, speciously like American to the ear, but on
"Ah, but you have not seen England," said a lady with iron-grey
hair. They had met her in Vienna, Bayreuth, and Florence, and
were grateful to find her again at Claridge's, for she commanded
situations, and knew where prescriptions are most carefully made
up. "You ought to take an interest in the home of our ancestors
as I do."
"I've tried for a week, Mrs. Shonts," said Sophie, "but I never
get any further than tipping German waiters."
"These men are not the true type," Mrs. Shouts went on. "I know
where you should go."
Chapin pricked up his ears, anxious to run anywhere from the
streets on which quick men, something of his kidney, did the
business denied to him.
"We hear and we obey, Mrs. Shonts," said Sophie, feeling his
unrest as he drank the loathed British tea.
Mrs. Shonts smiled, and took them in hand. She wrote widely and
telegraphed far on their behalf till, armed with her letter of
introduction, she drove them into that wilderness which is
reached from an ash-barrel of a station called Charing Cross.
They were to go to Rockett's--the farm of one Cloke, in the
southern counties--where, she assured them, they would meet the
genuine England of folklore and song.
Rocketts they found after some hours, four miles from a station,
and, so far as they could, judge in the bumpy darkness, twice as
many from a road. Trees, kine, and the outlines of barns showed
shadowy about them when they alighted, and Mr. and Mrs. Cloke, at
the open door of a deep stone-floored kitchen, made them shyly
welcome. They lay in an attic beneath a wavy whitewashed ceiling,
and, because it rained, a wood fire was made in an iron basket on
a brick hearth, and they fell asleep to the chirping of mice and
the whimper of flames.
When they woke it was a fair day, full of the noises, of birds,
the smell of box lavender, and fried bacon, mixed with an
elemental smell they had never met before.
"This," said Sophie, nearly pushing out the thin casement in an
attempt to see round the, corner, " is--what did the hack-cabman
say to the railway porter about my trunk--'quite on the top?'"
"No; 'a little bit of all right.' I feel farther away from
anywhere than I've ever felt in my life. We must find out where
the telegraph office is."
"Who cares?" said Sophie, wandering about, hairbrush in hand, to
admire the illustrated weekly pictures pasted on door and
But there was no rest for the alien soul till he had made sure of
the telegraph office. He asked the Clokes' daughter, laying
breakfast, while Sophie plunged her face in the lavender bush
outside the low window.
"Go to the stile a-top o' the Barn field," said Mary, "and look
across Pardons to the next spire. It's directly under. You can't
miss it--not if you keep to the footpath. My sister's the
telegraphist there. But you're in the three-mile radius, sir. The
boy delivers telegrams directly to this door from Pardons
"One has to take a good deal on trust in this country," he
Sophie looked at the close turf, scarred only with last night's
wheels, at two ruts which wound round a rickyard, and at the
circle of still orchard about the half-timbered house.
"What's the matter with it?" she said. "Telegrams delivered to
the Vale of Avalon, of course," and she beckoned in an
earnest-eyed hound of engaging manners and no engagements, who
answered, at times, to the name of Rambler. He led them, after
breakfast, to the rise behind the house where the stile stood
against the skyline, and, "I wonder what we shall find now," said
Sophie, frankly prancing with joy on the grass.
It was a slope of gap-hedged fields possessed to their centres by
clumps of brambles. Gates were not, and the rabbit-mined,
cattle-rubbed posts leaned out and in. A narrow path doubled
among the bushes, scores of white tails twinkled before the
racing hound, and a hawk rose, whistling shrilly.
"No roads, no nothing!" said Sophie, her short skirt hooked by
briers. "I thought all England was a garden. There's your spire,
George, across the valley. How curious!"
They walked toward it through an all abandoned land. Here they
found the ghost of a patch of lucerne that had refused to die:
there a harsh fallow surrendered to yard-high thistles; and here
a breadth of rampant kelk feigning to be lawful crop. In the
ungrazed pastures swaths of dead stuff caught their feet, and the
ground beneath glistened with sweat. At the bottom of the valley
a little brook had undermined its footbridge, and frothed in the
wreckage. But there stood great woods on the slopes beyond--old,
tall, and brilliant, like unfaded tapestries against the walls of
a ruined house.
"All this within a hundred miles of London," he said. "Looks as
if it had had nervous prostration, too." The, footpath turned the
shoulder of a slope, through a thicket of rank rhododendrons, and
crossed what had once been a carriage drive, which ended in the
shadow of two gigantic holm-oaks.
"A house!" said Sophie, in a whisper. "A Colonial house!"
Behind the blue-green of the twin trees rose a dark-bluish brick
Georgian pile, with a shell-shaped fan-light over its pillared
door. The hound had gone off on his own foolish quests. Except
for some stir it the branches and the flight of four startled
magpies; there was neither life nor sound about the square house,
but it looked out of its long windows most friendlily.
"Cha-armed to meet you, I'm sure," said Sophie, and curtsied to
the ground. "George, this is history I can understand. We began
here." She curtsied again.
The June sunshine twinkled on all the lights. It was as though an
old lady, wise in three generations' experience, but for the
present sitting out, bent to listen to her flushed and eager
"I must look!" Sophie tiptoed to a window, and shaded her eyes
with her hand. "Oh, this room's half-full of cotton-bales--wool,
I suppose! But I can see a bit of the mantelpiece. George, do
come! Isn't that some one?"
She fell back behind her husband. The front door opened slowly,
to show the hound, his nose white with milk, in charge of an
ancient of days clad in a blue linen ephod curiously gathered on
breast and shoulders.
"Certainly," said George, half aloud. "Father Time himself. This
is where he lives, Sophie."
"We came," said Sophie weakly. "Can we see the house? I'm afraid
that's our dog."
"No, 'tis Rambler," said the old man. "He's been, at my
swill-pail again. Staying at Rocketts, be ye? Come in. Ah! you
The hound broke from him, and he tottered after him down the
drive. They entered the hall--just such a high light hall as such
a house should own. A slim-balustered staircase, wide and shallow
and once creamy-white, climbed out of it under a long oval
window. On either side delicately moulded doors gave on to
wool-lumbered rooms, whose sea-green mantelpieces were adorned
with nymphs, scrolls, and Cupids in low relief.
"What's the firm that makes these things?" cried Sophie,
enraptured. "Oh, I forgot! These must be the originals. Adams, is
it? I never dreamed of anything like that steel-cut fender. Does
he mean us to go everywhere?"
"He's catching the dog," said George, looking out. "We don't
They explored the first or ground floor, delighted as children
"This is like all England," she said at last. "Wonderful, but no
explanation. You're expected to know it beforehand. Now, let's
The stairs never creaked beneath their feet. From the broad
landing they entered a long, green-panelled room lighted by three
full-length windows, which overlooked the forlorn wreck of a
terraced garden, and wooded slopes beyond.
"The drawing-room, of course." Sophie swam up and down it. "That
mantelpiece--Orpheus and Eurydice--is the best of them all. Isn't
it marvellous? Why, the room seems furnished with nothing in it!
How's that, George?"
"It's the proportions. I've noticed it."
"I saw a Heppelwhite couch once"--Sophie laid her finger to her
flushed cheek and considered. "With, two of them--one on each
side--you wouldn't need anything else. Except--there must be one
perfect mirror over that mantelpiece."
"Look at that view. It's a framed Constable," her husband cried.
"No; it's a Morland--a parody of a Morland. But about that couch,
George. Don't you think Empire might be better than Heppelwhite?
Dull gold against that pale green? It's a pity they don't make
"I believe you can get them. Look at that oak wood behind the
"'While you sat and played toccatas stately, at the clavichord,"'
Sophie hummed, and, head on one; side, nodded to where the
perfect mirror should hang:
Then they found bedrooms with dressing-rooms and
powdering-closets, and steps leading up and down--boxes of rooms,
round, square, and octagonal, with enriched ceilings and chased
"Now about servants. Oh!" She had darted up the last stairs to
the chequered darkness of the top floor, where loose tiles lay
among broken laths, and the walls were scrawled with names,
sentiments, and hop records. "They've been keeping pigeons here,"
"And you could drive a buggy through the roof anywhere," said
"That's what I say," the old man cried below them on the stairs.
"Not a dry place for my pigeons at all."
"But why was it allowed to get like this?" said Sophie.
"Tis with housen as teeth," he replied. "Let 'em go too far, and
there's nothing to be done. Time was they was minded to sell her,
but none would buy. She was too far away along from any place.
Time was they'd ha' lived here theyselves, but they took and
"Here?" Sophie moved beneath the light of a hole in the roof.
"Nah--none dies here excep' falling off ricks and such. In London
they died." He plucked a lock of wool from his blue smock. "They
was no staple--neither the Elphicks nor the Moones. Shart and
brittle all of 'em. Dead they be seventeen year, for I've been
here caretakin' twenty-five."
"Who does all the wool belong to downstairs?" George asked.
"To the estate. I'll show you the back parts if ye like. You're
from America, ain't ye? I've had a son there once myself." They
followed him down the main stairway. He paused at the turn and
swept one hand toward the wall. "Plenty room, here for your
coffin to come down. Seven foot and three men at each end
wouldn't brish the paint. If I die in my bed they'll 'ave to
up-end me like a milk-can. 'Tis all luck, dye see?"
He led them on and on, through a maze of back kitchens, dairies,
larders, and sculleries, that melted along covered ways into a
farm-house, visibly older than the main building, which again
rambled out among barns, byres, pig-pens, stalls and stables to
the dead fields behind.
"Somehow," said Sophie, sitting exhausted on an ancient
well-curb--"somehow one wouldn't insult these lovely old things
by filling them with hay."
George looked at long stone walls upholding reaches of
silvery-oak weather-boarding; buttresses of mixed flint and
bricks; outside stairs, stone upon arched stone; curves of thatch
where grass sprouted; roundels of house-leeked tiles, and a huge
paved yard populated by two cows and the repentant Rambler. He
had not thought of himself or of the telegraph office for two and
a half hours.
"But why," said Sophie, as they went back through the crater of
stricken fields,--" why is one expected to know everything in
England? Why do they never tell?"
"You mean about the Elphicks and the Moones?" he answered.
"Yes--and the lawyers and the estate. Who are they? I wonder
whether those painted floors in the green room were real oak.
Don't you like us exploring things together--better than
George turned once more to look at the view. "Eight hundred acres
go with the house--the old man told me. Five farms altogether.
Rocketts is one of 'em."
"I like Mrs. Cloke. But what is the old house called?"
George laughed. "That's one of the things you're expected to
know. He never told me."
The Clokes were more communicative. That evening and thereafter
for a week they gave the Chapins the official history, as one
gives it to lodgers, of Friars Pardon the house and its five
farms. But Sophie asked so many questions, and George was so
humanly interested, that, as confidence in the strangers grew,
they launched, with observed and acquired detail, into the lives
and deaths and doings of the Elphicks and the Moones and their
collaterals, the Haylings and the Torrells. It was a tale told
serially by Cloke in the barn, or his wife in the dairy, the last
chapters reserved for the kitchen o' nights by the big fire, when
the two had been half the day exploring about the house, where
old Iggulden, of the blue smock, cackled and chuckled to see
them. The motives that swayed the characters were beyond their
comprehension; the fates that shifted them were gods they had
never met; the sidelights Mrs. Cloke threw on act and incident
were more amazing than anything in the record. Therefore the
Chapins listened delightedly, and blessed Mrs. Shonts.
"But why--why--why--did So-and-so do so-and-so?" Sophie would
demand from her seat by the pothook; and Mrs. Cloke would answer,
smoothing her knees, "For the sake of the place."
"I give it up," said George one night in their own room. "People
don't seem to matter in this country compared to the places they
live in. The way she tells it, Friars Pardon was a sort of
"Poor old thing!" They had been walking round the farms as usual
before tea. "No wonder they loved it. Think of the sacrifices
they made for it. Jane Elphick married the younger Torrell to
keep it in the family. The octagonal room with the moulded
ceiling next to the big bedroom was hers. Now what did he tell
you while he was feeding the pigs?" said Sophie.
"About the Torrell cousins and the uncle who died in Java. They
lived at Burnt House--behind High Pardons, where that brook is
all blocked up."
"No; Burnt House is under High Pardons Wood, before you come to
Gale Anstey," Sophie corrected.
"Well, old man Cloke said--"
Sophie threw open the door and called down into the kitchen,
where the Clokes were covering the fire "Mrs. Cloke, isn't Burnt
House under High Pardons?"
"Yes, my dear, of course," the soft voice. answered absently. A
cough. "I beg your pardon, Madam. What was it you said?"
"Never mind. I prefer it the other way," Sophie laughed, and
George re-told the missing chapter as she sat on the bed.
"Here to-day an' gone to-morrow," said Cloke warningly. "They've
paid their first month, but we've only that Mrs. Shonts's letter
"None she sent never cheated us yet. It slipped out before I
thought. She's a most humane young lady. They'll be going away in
a little. An' you've talked a lot too, Alfred."
"Yes, but the Elphicks are all dead. No one can bring my loose
talking home to me. But why do they stay on and stay on so?"
In due time George and Sophie asked each other that question, and
put it aside. They argued that the climate--a pearly blend,
unlike the hot and cold ferocities of their native land--suited
them, as the thick stillness of the nights certainly suited
George. He was saved even the sight of a metalled road, which, as
presumably leading to business, wakes desire in a man; and the
telegraph office at the village of Friars Pardon, where they sold
picture post-cards and pegtops, was two walking miles across the
fields and woods.
For all that touched his past among his fellows, or their
remembrance of him, he might have been in another planet; and
Sophie, whose life had been very largely spent among husbandless
wives of lofty ideals, had no wish to leave this present of God.
The unhurried meals, the foreknowledge of deliciously empty hours
to follow, the breadths of soft sky under which they walked
together and reckoned time only by their hunger or thirst; the
good grass beneath their feet that cheated the miles; their
discoveries, always together, amid the farms--Griffons, Rocketts,
Burnt House, Gale Anstey, and the Home Farm, where Iggulden of
the blue smock-frock would waylay them, and they would ransack
the old house once more; the long wet afternoons when, they
tucked up their feet on the bedroom's deep window-sill over
against the apple-trees, and talked together as never till then
had they found time to talk--these things contented her soul, and
her body throve.
"Have you realized," she asked one morning, "that we've been here
absolutely alone for the last thirty-four days?"
"Have you counted them?" he asked.
"Did you like them?" she replied.
"I must have. I didn't think about them. Yes, I have. Six months
ago I should have fretted myself sick. Remember at Cairo? I've
only had two or three bad times. Am I getting better, or is it
"Climate, all climate." Sophie swung her new-bought English
boots, as she sat on the stile overlooking Friars Pardon, behind
the Clokes's barn.
"One must take hold of things though," he said, "if it's only to
keep one's hand in." His eyes did not flicker now as they swept
the empty fields. "Mustn't one?"
"Lay out a Morristown links over Gale Anstey. I dare say you
could hire it."
"No, I'm not as English as that--nor as Morristown. Cloke says
all the farms here could be made to pay."
"Well, I'm Anastasia in the 'Treasure of Franchard.' I'm content
to be alive and purr. There's no hurry."
"No." He smiled. "All the same, I'm going to see after my mail."
"You promised you wouldn't have any."
"There's some business coming through that's amusing me. Honest.
It doesn't get on my nerves at all."
"Want a secretary?"
"No, thanks, old thing! Isn't that quite English?"
"Too English! Go away." But none the less in broad daylight she
returned the kiss. "I'm off to Pardons. I haven't been to the
house for nearly a week."
"How've you decided to furnish Jane Elphick's bedroom?" he
laughed, for it had come to be a permanent Castle in Spain
"Black Chinese furniture and yellow silk brocade," she answered,
and ran downhill. She scattered a few cows at a gap with a
flourish of a ground-ash that Iggulden had cut for her a week
ago, and singing as she passed under the holmoaks, sought the
farm-house at the back of Friars Pardon. The old man was not to
be found, and she knocked at his half-opened door, for she needed
him to fill her idle forenoon. A blue-eyed sheep-dog, a new
friend, and Rambler's old enemy, crawled out and besought her to
Iggulden sat in his chair by the fire, a thistle-spud between his
knees, his head drooped. Though she had never seen death before,
her heart, that missed a beat, told her that he was dead. She did
not speak or cry, but stood outside the door, and the dog licked
her hand. When he threw up his nose, she heard herself saying:
"Don't howl! Please don't begin to howl, Scottie, or I shall run
She held her ground while the shadows in the rickyard moved
toward noon; sat after a while on the steps by the door, her arms
round the dog's neck, waiting till some one should come. She
watched the smokeless chimneys of Friars Pardon slash its roofs
with shadow, and the smoke of Iggulden's last lighted fire
gradually thin and cease. Against her will she fell to wondering
how many Moones, Elphicks, and Torrells had been swung round the
turn of the broad Mall stairs. Then she remembered the old man's
talk of being "up-ended like a milk-can," and buried her face on
Scottie's neck. At last a horse's feet clinked upon flags,
rustled in the old grey straw of the rickyard, and she found
herself facing the vicar--a figure she had seen at church
declaiming impossibilities (Sophie was a Unitarian) in an
"He's dead," she said, without preface.
"Old Iggulden? I was coming for a talk with him." The vicar
passed in uncovered. "Ah!" she heard him say. "Heart-failure! How
long have you been here?"
"Since a quarter to eleven." She looked at her watch earnestly
and saw that her hand did not shake.
"I'll sit with him now till the doctor comes. D'you think you
could tell him, and--yes, Mrs. Betts in the cottage with the
wistaria next the blacksmith's? I'm afraid this has been rather a
shock to you."
Sophie nodded, and fled toward the village. Her body failed her
for a moment; she dropped beneath a hedge, and looked back at the
great house. In some fashion its silence and stolidity steadied
her for her errand.
Mrs. Betts, small, black-eyed, and dark, was almost as
unconcerned as Friars Pardon.
"Yiss, yiss, of course. Dear me! Well, Iggulden he had had his
day in my father's time. Muriel, get me my little blue bag,
please. Yiss, ma'am. They come down like ellum-branches in still
weather. No warnin' at all. Muriel, my bicycle's be'ind the
fowlhouse. I'll tell Dr. Dallas, ma'am."
She trundled off on her wheel like a brown bee, while
Sophie--heaven above and earth beneath changed--walked stiffly
home, to fall over George at his letters, in a muddle of laughter
"It's all quite natural for them," she gasped. "They come down
like ellum-branches in still weather. Yiss, ma'am.' No, there
wasn't anything in the least horrible, only--only--Oh, George,
that poor shiny stick of his between his poor, thin knees! I
couldn't have borne it if Scottie had howled. I didn't know the
vicar was so--so sensitive. He said he was afraid it was
ra--rather a shock. Mrs. Betts told me to go home, and I wanted
to collapse on her floor. But I didn't disgrace myself. I--I
couldn't have left him--could I?"
"You're sure you've took no 'arm?" cried Mrs. Cloke, who had
heard the news by farm-telegraphy, which is older but swifter
"No. I'm perfectly well," Sophie protested.
"You lay down till tea-time." Mrs. Cloke patted her shoulder.
"THEY'll be very pleased, though she 'as 'ad no proper
understandin' for twenty years."
"They" came before twilight--a black-bearded man in moleskins,
and a little palsied old woman, who chirruped like a wren.
"I'm his son," said the man to Sophie, among the lavender bushes.
"We 'ad a difference--twenty year back, and didn't speak since.
But I'm his son all the 'same, and we thank you for the
"I'm only glad I happened to be there," she answered, and from
the bottom of her heart she meant it.
"We heard he spoke a lot o' you--one time an' another since you
came. We thank you kindly," the man added.
"Are you the son that was in America?" she asked.
"Yes, ma'am. On my uncle's farm, in Connecticut. He was what they
call rood-master there."
"Whereabouts in Connecticut?" asked George over her shoulder.
"Veering Holler was the name. I was there six year with my
"How small the world is!" Sophie cried. "Why, all my mother's
people come from Veering Hollow. There must be some there
still--the Lashmars. Did you ever hear of them?"
"I remember hearing that name, seems to me," he answered, but his
face was blank as the back of a spade.
A little before dusk a woman in grey, striding like a
foot-soldier, and bearing on her arm a long pole, crashed through
the orchard calling for food. George, upon whom the unannounced
English worked mysteriously, fled to the parlour; but Mrs. Cloke
came forward beaming. Sophie could not escape.
"We've only just heard of it;" said the stranger, turning on her.
"I've been out with the otter-hounds all day. It was a splendidly
sportin' thing "
"Did you--er--kill?" said Sophie. She knew from books she could
not go far wrong here.
"Yes, a dry bitch--seventeen pounds," was the answer. "A
splendidly sportin' thing of you to do. Poor old Iggulden--"
"Oh--that!" said Sophie, enlightened.
"If there had been any people at Pardons it would never have
happened. He'd have been looked after. But what can you expect
from a parcel of London solicitors?"
Mrs. Cloke murmured something.
"No. I'm soaked from the knees down. If I hang about I shall get
chilled. A cup of tea, Mrs. Cloke, and I can eat one of your
sandwiches as I go." She wiped her weather-worn face with a green
and yellow silk handkerchief.
"Yes, my lady!" Mrs. Cloke ran and returned swiftly.
"Our land marches with Pardons for a mile on the south," she
explained, waving the full cup, "but one has quite enough to do
with one's own people without poachin'. Still, if I'd known, I'd
have sent Dora, of course. Have you seen her this afternoon, Mrs.
Cloke? No? I wonder whether that girl did sprain her ankle. Thank
you." It was a formidable hunk of bread and bacon that Mrs. Cloke
presented. "As I was sayin', Pardons is a scandal! Lettin' people
die like dogs. There ought to be people there who do their duty.
You've done yours, though there wasn't the faintest call upon
you. Good night. Tell Dora, if she comes, I've gone on."
She strode away, munching her crust, and Sophie reeled breathless
into the parlour, to shake the shaking George.
"Why did you keep catching my eye behind the blind? Why didn't
you come out and do your duty?"
"Because I should have burst. Did you see the mud on its cheek?"
"Once. I daren't look again. Who is she?"
"God--a local deity then. Anyway, she's another of the things
you're expected to know by instinct."
Mrs. Cloke, shocked at their levity, told them that it was Lady
Conant, wife of Sir Walter Conant, Baronet, a large landholder in
the neighbourhood; and if not God; at least His visible
Providence. George made her talk of that family for an hour.
"Laughter," said Sophie afterward in their own room, "is the mark
of the savage. Why couldn't you control your emotions? It's all
real to her."
"It's all real to me. That's my trouble," he answered in an
altered tone. "Anyway, it's real enough to mark time with. Don't
you think so?"
"What d'you mean?" she asked quickly, though she knew his voice.
"That I'm better. I'm well enough to kick."
"This!" He waved his hand round the one room. "I must have
something to play with till I'm fit for work again."
"Ah!" She sat on the bed and leaned forward, her hands clasped.
"I wonder if it's good for you."
"We've been better here than anywhere," he went on slowly. "One
could always sell it again."
She nodded gravely, but her eyes sparkled.
"The only thing that worries me is what happened this morning. I
want to know how you feel about it. If it's on your nerves in the
least we can have the old farm at the back of the house pulled
down, or perhaps it has spoiled the notion for you?"
"Pull it down?" she cried. "You've no business faculty. Why,
that's where we could live while we're putting the big house in
order. It's almost under the same roof. No! What happened this
morning seemed to be more of a--of a leading than anything else.
There ought to be people at Pardons. Lady Conant's quite right."
"I was thinking more of the woods and the roads. I could double
the value of the place in six months."
"What do they want for it?" She shook her head, and her loosened
hair fell glowingly about her cheeks.
"Seventy-five thousand dollars. They'll take sixty-eight."
"Less than half what we paid for our old yacht when we married.
And we didn't have a good time in her. You were--"
"Well, I discovered I was too much of an American to be content
to be a rich man's son. You aren't blaming me for that?"
"Oh, no. Only it was a very businesslike honeymoon. How far are
you along with the deal, George?"
"I can mail the deposit on the purchase money to-morrow morning,
and we can have the thing completed in a fortnight or three
weeks--if you say so."
"Friars Pardon--Friars Pardon!" Sophie chanted rapturously, her
dark gray eyes big with delight. "All the farms? Gale Anstey,
Burnt House, Rocketts, the Home Farm, and Griffons? Sure you've
got 'em all?"
"Sure." He smiled.
"And the woods? High Pardons Wood, Lower Pardons, Suttons,
Dutton's Shaw, Reuben's Ghyll, Maxey's Ghyll, and both the Oak
Hangers? Sure you've got 'em all?"
"Every last stick. Why, you know them as well as I do." He
laughed. "They say there's five thousand--a thousand pounds'
worth of lumber--timber they call it--in the Hangers alone."
"Mrs. Cloke's oven must be mended first thing, and the kitchen
roof. I think I'll have all this whitewashed," Sophie broke in,
pointing to the ceiling. "The whole place is a scandal. Lady
Conant is quite right. George, when did you begin to fall in love
with the house? In the greenroom that first day? I did."
"I'm not in love with it. One must do something to mark time till
one's fit for work."
"Or when we stood under the oaks, and the door opened? Oh! Ought
I to go to poor Iggulden's funeral?" She sighed with utter
"Wouldn't they call it a liberty now?" said he.
"But I liked him."
"But you didn't own him at the date of his death."
"That wouldn't keep me away. Only, they made such a fuss about
the watching"--she caught her breath--"it might be ostentatious
from that point of view, too. Oh, George"--she reached for his
hand--"we're two little orphans moving in worlds not realized,
and we shall make some bad breaks. But we're going to have the
time of our lives."
"We'll run up to London to-morrow, and see if we can hurry those
English law solicitors. I want to get to work."
They went. They suffered many things ere they returned across the
fields in a fly one Saturday night, nursing a two by
two-and-a-half box of deeds and maps--lawful owners of Friars
Pardon and the five decayed farms therewith.
"I do most sincerely 'ope and trust you'll be 'appy, Madam," Mrs.
Cloke gasped, when she was told the news by the kitchen fire.
"Goodness! It isn't a marriage!" Sophie exclaimed, a little awed;
for to them the joke, which to an American means work, was only
"If it's took in a proper spirit"--Mrs. Cloke's eye turned toward
"Send and have that mended to-morrow," Sophie whispered.
"We couldn't 'elp noticing," said Cloke slowly, "from the times
you walked there, that you an' your lady was drawn to it,
but--but I don't know as we ever precisely thought--" His wife's
glance checked him.
"That we were that sort of people," said George. "We aren't sure
of it ourselves yet."
"Perhaps," said Cloke, rubbing his knees, "just for the sake of
saying something, perhaps you'll park it?"
"What's that?" said George.
"Turn it all into a fine park like Violet Hill"--he jerked a
thumb to westward--"that Mr. Sangres bought. It was four farms,
and Mr. Sangres made a fine park of them, with a herd of faller
"Then it wouldn't be Friars Pardon," said Sophie. "Would it?"
"I don't know as I've ever heard Pardons was ever anything but
wheat an' wool. Only some gentlemen say that parks are less
trouble than tenants." He laughed nervously. "But the gentry, o'
course, they keep on pretty much as they was used to."
"I see," said Sophie. "How did Mr. Sangres make his money?"
"I never rightly heard. It was pepper an' spices, or it may ha'
been gloves. No. Gloves was Sir Reginald Liss at Marley End.
Spices was Mr. Sangres. He's a Brazilian gentleman--very sunburnt
"Be sure o' one thing. You won't 'ave any trouble," said Mrs.
Cloke, just before they went to bed.
Now the news of the purchase was told to Mr. and Mrs. Cloke alone
at 8 P.M. of a Saturday. None left the farm till they set out for
church next morning. Yet when they reached the church and were
about to slip aside into their usual seats, a little beyond the
font, where they could see the red-furred tails of the bellropes
waggle and twist at ringing time, they were swept forward
irresistibly, a Cloke on either flank (and yet they had not
walked with the Clokes), upon the ever-retiring bosom of a
black-gowned verger, who ushered them into a room of a pew at the
head of the left aisle, under the pulpit.
"This," he sighed reproachfully, "is the Pardons' Pew," and shut
They could see little more than the choir boys in the chancel,
but to the roots of the hair of their necks they felt the
congregation behind mercilessly devouring them by look.
"When the wicked man turneth away." The strong, alien voice of
the priest vibrated under the hammer-beam roof, and a loneliness
unfelt before swamped their hearts, as they searched for places
in the unfamiliar Church of England service. The Lord's Prayer
"Our Father, which art"--set the seal on that desolation. Sophie
found herself thinking how in other lands their purchase would
long ere this have been discussed from every point of view in a
dozen prints, forgetting that George for months had not been
allowed to glance at those black and bellowing head-lines. Here
was nothing but silence--not even hostility! The game was up to
them; the other players hid their cards and waited. Suspense, she
felt, was in the air, and when her sight cleared, saw, indeed, a
mural tablet of a footless bird brooding upon the carven motto, "
Wayte awhyle--wayte awhyle."
At the Litany George had trouble with an unstable hassock, and
drew the slip of carpet under the pewseat. Sophie pushed her end
back also, and shut her eyes against a burning that felt like
tears. When she opened them she was looking at her mother's
maiden name, fairly carved on a blue flagstone on the pew floor:
Ellen Lashmar. ob. 1796. aetat 27.
She nudged George and pointed. Sheltered, as they kneeled, they
looked for more knowledge, but the rest of the slab was blank.
"Ever hear of her?" he whispered.
"Never knew any of us came from here."
"Perhaps. But it makes me feel better," and she smiled and winked
away a tear on her lashes, and took his hand while they prayed
for "all women labouring of child"--not "in the perils of
childbirth"; and the sparrows who had found their way through the
guards behind the glass windows chirped above the faded gilt and
alabaster family tree of the Conants.
The baronet's pew was on the right of the aisle. After service
its inhabitants moved forth without haste, but so as to block
effectively a dusky person with a large family who champed in
"Spices, I think," said Sophie, deeply delighted as the Sangres
closed up after the Conants. "Let 'em get away, George."
But when they came out many folk whose eyes were one still
lingered by the lychgate.
"I want to see if any more Lashmars are buried here," said
"Not now. This seems to be show day. Come home quickly," he
A group of families, the Clokes a little apart, opened to let
them through. The men saluted with jerky nods, the women with
remnants of a curtsey. Only Iggulden's son, his mother on his
arm, lifted his hat as Sophie passed.
"Your people," said the clear voice of Lady Conant in her ear.
"I suppose so," said Sophie, blushing, for they were within two
yards of her; but it was not a question.
"Then that child looks as if it were coming down with mumps. You
ought to tell the mother she shouldn't have brought it to
"I can't leave 'er behind, my lady," the woman said. "She'd set
the 'ouse afire in a minute, she's that forward with the matches.
Ain't you, Maudie dear?"
"Has Dr. Dallas seen her?"
"Not yet, my lady."
"He must. You can't get away, of course. M-m! My idiotic maid is
coming in for her teeth to-morrow at twelve. She shall pick her
up--at Gale Anstey, isn't it?--at eleven."
"Yes. Thank you very much, my lady."
"I oughtn't to have done it," said Lady Conant apologetically,
"but there has been no one at Pardons for so long that you'll
forgive my poaching. Now, can't you lunch with us? The vicar
usually comes too. I don't use the horses on a Sunday"--she
glanced at the Brazilian's silver-plated chariot. "It's only a
mile across the fields."
"You--you're very kind," said Sophie, hating herself because her
"My dear," the compelling tone dropped to a soothing gurgle,
"d'you suppose I don't know how it feels to come to a strange
county--country I should say--away from one's own people? When I
first left the Shires--I'm Shropshire, you know--I cried for a
day and a night. But fretting doesn't make loneliness any better.
Oh, here's Dora. She did sprain her leg that day."
"I'm as lame as a tree still," said the tall maiden frankly. "You
ought to go out with the otter-hounds, Mrs. Chapin. I believe
they're drawing your water next week."
Sir Walter had already led off George, and the vicar came up on
the other side of Sophie. There was no escaping the swift
procession or the leisurely lunch, where talk came and went in
low-voiced eddies that had the village for their centre. Sophie
heard the vicar and Sir Walter address her husband lightly as
Chapin! (She also remembered many women known in a previous life
who habitually addressed their husbands as Mr. Such-an-one.)
After lunch Lady Conant talked to her explicitly of maternity as
that is achieved in cottages and farm-houses remote from aid, and
of the duty thereto of the mistress of Pardons.
A gate in a beech hedge, reached across triple lawns, let them
out before tea-time into the unkempt south side of their land.
"I want your hand, please," said Sophie as soon as they were safe
among the beech boles and the lawless hollies. "D'you remember
the old maid in 'Providence and the Guitar' who heard the
Commissary swear, and hardly reckoned herself a maiden lady
afterward? Because I'm a relative of hers. Lady Conant is--"
"Did you find out anything about the Lashmars?" he interrupted.
"I didn't ask. I'm going to write to Aunt Sydney about it first.
Oh, Lady Conant said something at lunch about their having bought
some land from some Lashmars a few years ago. I found it was at
the beginning of last century."
"What did you say?"
"I said, 'Really, how interesting!' Like that. I'm not going to
push myself forward. I've been hearing about Mr. Sangres's
efforts in that direction. And you? I couldn't see you behind the
flowers. Was it very deep water, dear?"
George mopped a brow already browned by outdoor exposures.
"Oh no--dead easy," he answered. "I've bought Friars Pardon to
prevent Sir Walter's birds straying."
A cock pheasant scuttered through the dry leaves and exploded
almost under their feet. Sophie jumped.
"That's one of 'em," said George calmly.
"Well, your nerves are better, at any rate," said she. "Did you
tell 'em you'd bought the thing to play with?"
"No. That was where my nerve broke down. I only made one bad
break--I think. I said I couldn't see why hiring land to men to
farm wasn't as much a business proposition as anything else."
"And what did they say?"
"They smiled. I shall know what that smile means some day. They
don't waste their smiles. D'you see that track by Gale Anstey?"
They looked down from the edge of the hanger over a cup-like
hollow. People by twos and threes in their Sunday best filed
slowly along the paths that connected farm to farm.
"I've never seen so many on our land before," said Sophie. "Why
"To show us we mustn't shut up their rights of way."
"Those cow-tracks we've been using cross lots?" said Sophie
"Yes. Any one of 'em would cost us two thousand pounds each in
legal expenses to close."
"But we don't want to," she said.
"The whole community would fight if we did."
"But it's our land. We can do what we like."
"It's not our land. We've only paid for it. We belong to it, and
it belongs to the people--our people they call 'em. I've been to
lunch with the English too."
They passed slowly from one bracken-dotted field to the
next--flushed with pride of ownership, plotting alterations and
restorations at each turn; halting in their tracks to argue,
spreading apart to embrace two views at once, or closing in to
consider one. Couples moved out of their way, but smiling
"We shall make some bad breaks," he said at last.
"Together, though. You won't let anyone else in, will you?"
"Except the contractors. This syndicate handles, this proposition
by its little lone."
"But you might feel the want of some one," she insisted.
"I shall--but it will be you. It's business, Sophie, but it's
going to be good fun."
"Please God," she answered flushing, and cried to herself as they
went back to tea. "It's worth it. Oh, it's worth it."
The repairing and moving into Friars Pardon was business of the
most varied and searching, but all done English fashion, without
friction. Time and money alone were asked. The rest lay in the
hands of beneficent advisers from London, or spirits, male and
female, called up by Mr. and Mrs. Cloke from the wastes of the
farms. In the centre stood George and Sophie, a little aghast,
their interests reaching out on every side.
"I ain't sayin' anything against Londoners," said Cloke,
self-appointed clerk of the outer works, consulting engineer,
head of the immigration bureau, and superintendent of woods and
forests; "but your own people won't go about to make more than a
fair profit out of you."
"How is one to know?" said George.
"Five years from now, or so on, maybe, you'll be lookin' over
your first year's accounts, and, knowin' what you'll know then,
you'll say: 'Well, Billy Beartup'--or Old Cloke as it might
be--'did me proper when I was new.' No man likes to have that
sort of thing laid up against him."
"I think I see," said George. "But five years is a long time to
"I doubt if that oak Billy Beartup throwed in Reuben's Ghyll will
be fit for her drawin-room floor in less than seven," Cloke
"Yes, that's my work," said Sophie. (Billy Beartup of Griffons, a
woodman by training and birth, a tenant farmer by misfortune of
marriage, had laid his broad axe at her feet a month before.)
"Sorry if I've committed you to another eternity."
"And we shan't even know where we've gone wrong with your new
carriage drive before that time either," said Cloke, ever anxious
to keep the balance true with an ounce or two in Sophie's favour.
The past four months had taught George better than to reply. The
carriage road winding up the hill was his present keen interest.
They set off to look at it, and the imported American scraper
which had blighted the none too sunny soul of "Skim" Winsh, the
But young Iggulden was in charge now, and under his guidance,
Buller and Roberts, the great horses, moved mountains.
"You lif' her like that, an' you tip her like that," he explained
to the gang. "My uncle he was roadmaster in Connecticut."
"Are they roads yonder?" said Skim, sitting under the laurels.
"No better than accommodation roads. Dirt, they call 'em. They'd
suit you, Skim."
"Why?" said the incautious Skim.
"Cause you'd take no hurt when you fall out of your cart drunk on
a Saturday," was the answer.
"I didn't last time neither," Skim roared.
After the loud laugh, old Whybarne of Gale Anstey piped feebly,
"Well, dirt or no dirt, there's no denyin' Chapin knows a good
job when he sees it. 'E don't build one day and dee-stroy the
next, like that nigger Sangres."
"SHE's the one that knows her own mind," said Pinky, brother to
Skim Winsh, and a Napoleon among carters who had helped to bring
the grand piano across the fields in the autumn rains.
"She had ought to," said Iggulden. "Whoa, Buller! She's a
Lashmar. They never was double-thinking."
"Oh, you found that? Has the answer come from your uncle?" said
Skim, doubtful whether so remote a land as America had posts.
The others looked at him scornfully. Skim was always a day behind
the fair. Iggulden rested from his labours. "She's a Lashmar
right enough. I started up to write to my uncle--at once--the
month after she said her folks came from Veering Holler."
"Where there ain't any roads?" Skim interrupted, but none
"My uncle he married an American woman for his second, and she
took it up like a like the coroner. She's a Lashmar out of the
old Lashmar place, 'fore they sold to Conants. She ain't no Toot
Hill Lashmar, nor any o' the Crayford lot. Her folk come out of
the ground here, neither chalk nor forest, but wildishers. They
sailed over to America--I've got it all writ down by my uncle's
woman--in eighteen hundred an' nothing. My uncle says they're all
slow begetters like."
"Would they be gentry yonder now?" Skim asked.
"Nah--there's no gentry in America, no matter how long you're
there. It's against their law. There's only rich and poor
allowed. They've been lawyers and such like over yonder for a
hundred years but she's a Lashmar for all that."
"Lord! What's a hundred years?" said Whybarne, who had seen
seventy-eight of them.
"An' they write too, from yonder--my uncle's woman writes--that
you can still tell 'em by headmark. Their hair's foxy-red
still--an' they throw out when they walk. He's in-toed-treads
like a gipsy; but you watch, an' you'll see 'er throw, out--like
"Your trace wants taking up." Pinky's large ears had caught the
sound of voices, and as the two broke through the laurels the men
were hard at work, their eyes on Sophie's feet.
She had been less fortunate in her inquiries than Iggulden, for
her Aunt Sydney of Meriden (a badged and certificated Daughter of
the Revolution to boot) answered her inquiries with a two-paged
discourse on patriotism, the leaflets of a Village Improvement
Society, of which she was president, and a demand for an overdue
subscription to a Factory Girls' Reading Circle. Sophie burned it
all in the Orpheus and Eurydice grate, and kept her own counsel.
"What I want to know," said George, when Spring was coming, and
the gardens needed thought. "is who will ever pay me for my
labour? I've put in at least half a million dollars' worth
"Sure you're not taking too much out of yourself?" his wife
"Oh, no; I haven't been conscious of myself all winter." He
looked at his brown English gaiters and smiled. "It's all behind
me now. I believe I could sit down and think of all that--those
months before we sailed."
"Don't--ah, don't!" she cried.
"But I must go back one day. You don't want to keep me out of
business always--or do you?" He ended with a nervous laugh.
Sophie sighed as she drew her own ground-ash (of old Iggulden's
cutting) from the hall rack.
"Aren't you overdoing it too? You look a little tired," he said.
"You make me tired. I'm going to Rocketts to see Mrs. Cloke about
Mary." (This was the sister of the telegraphist, promoted to be
sewing-maid at Pardons.) "Coming?"
"I'm due at Burnt House to see about the new well. By the way,
there's a sore throat at Gale Anstey--"
"That's my province. Don't interfere. The Whybarne children
always have sore throats. They do it for jujubes."
"Keep away from Gale Anstey till I make sure, honey. Cloke ought
to have told me."
"These people don't tell. Haven't you learnt that yet? But I'll
obey, me lord. See you later!"
She set off afoot, for within the three main roads that bounded
the blunt triangle of the estate (even by night one could
scarcely hear the carts on them), wheels were not used except for
farm work. The footpaths served all other purposes. And though at
first they had planned improvements, they had soon fallen in with
the customs of their hidden kingdom, and moved about the
soft-footed ways by woodland, hedgerow, and shaw as freely as the
rabbits. Indeed, for the most part Sophie walked bareheaded
beneath her helmet of chestnut hair; but she had been plagued of
late by vague toothaches, which she explained to Mrs. Cloke, who
asked some questions. How it came about Sophie never knew, but
after a while behold Mrs. Cloke's arm was about her waist, and
her head was on that deep bosom behind the shut kitchen door.
"My dear! My dear!" the elder woman almost sobbed. "An' d'you
mean to tell me you never suspicioned? Why--why--where was you
ever taught anything at all? Of course it is. It's what we've
been only waitin' for, all of us. Time and again I've said to
Lady--" she checked herself. "An' now we shall be as we should
"But--but--but--" Sophie whimpered.
"An' to see you buildin' your nest so busy--pianos and books--an'
never thinkin' of a nursery!"
"No more I did." Sophie sat bolt upright, and began to laugh.
"Time enough yet." The fingers tapped thoughtfully on the broad
knee. "But--they must be strange-minded folk over yonder with
you! Have you thought to send for your mother? She dead? My dear,
my dear! Never mind! She'll be happy where she knows. 'Tis God's
work. An' we was only waitin' for it, for you've never failed in
your duty yet. It ain't your way. What did you say about my
Mary's doings?" Mrs. Cloke's face hardened as she pressed her
chin on Sophie's forehead. "If any of your girls thinks to be'ave
arbitrary now, I'll--But they won't, my dear. I'll see they do
their duty too. Be sure you'll 'ave no trouble."
When Sophie walked back across the fields heaven and earth
changed about her as on the day of old Iggulden's death. For an
instant she thought of the wide turn of the staircase, and the
new ivory-white paint that no coffin corner could scar, but
presently, the shadow passed in a pure wonder and bewilderment
that made her reel. She leaned against one of their new gates and
looked over their lands for some other stay.
"Well," she said resignedly, half aloud, "we must try to make him
feel that he isn't a third in our party," and turned the corner
that looked over Friars Pardon, giddy, sick, and faint.
Of a sudden the house they had bought for a whim stood up as she
had never seen it before, low-fronted, broad-winged, ample,
prepared by course of generations for all such things. As it had
steadied her when it lay desolate, so now that it had meaning
from their few months of life within, it soothed and promised
good. She went alone and quickly into the hall, and kissed either
door-post, whispering: "Be good to me. You know! You've never
failed in your duty yet."
When the matter was explained to George, he would have sailed at
once to their own land, but this Sophie forbade.
"I don't want science," she said. "I just want to be loved, and
there isn't time for that at home. Besides," she added, looking
out of the window, "it would be desertion."
George was forced to soothe himself with linking Friars Pardon to
the telegraph system of Great Britain by
telephone--three-quarters of a mile of poles, put in by Whybarne
and a few friends. One of these was a foreigner from the next
parish. Said he when the line was being run: "There's an old
ellum right in our road. Shall us throw her?"
"Toot Hill parish folk, neither grace nor good luck, God help
'em." Old Whybarne shouted the local proverb from three poles
down the line. "We ain't goin' to lay any axe-iron to coffin-wood
here not till we know where we are yet awhile. Swing round 'er,
To this day, then, that sudden kink in the straight line across
the upper pasture remains a mystery to Sophie and George. Nor can
they tell why Skim Winsh, who came to his cottage under Dutton
Shaw most musically drunk at 10.45 P.M of every Saturday night,
as his father had done before him, sang no more at the bottom of
the garden steps, where Sophie always feared he would break his
neck. The path was undoubtedly an ancient right of way, and at
10.45 P.M. on Saturdays Skim remembered it was his duty to
posterity to keep it open--till Mrs. Cloke spoke to him once. She
spoke likewise to her daughter Mary, sewing maid at Pardons, and
to Mary's best new friend, the five-foot-seven imported London
house-maid, who taught Mary to trim hats, and found the country
But there was no noise--at no time was there any noise--and when
Sophie walked abroad she met no one in her path unless she had
signified a wish that way. Then they appeared to protest that all
was well with them and their children, their chickens, their
roofs, their water-supply, and their sons in the police or the
"But don't you find it dull, dear?" said George, loyally doing
his best not to worry as the months went by.
"I've been so busy putting my house in order I haven't had time
to think," said she. "Do you?"
"No--no. If I could only be sure of you."
She turned on the green drawing-room's couch (it was Empire, not
Heppelwhite after all), and laid aside a list of linen and
"It has changed everything, hasn't it?" she whispered.
"Oh, Lord, yes. But I still think if we went back to Baltimore "
"And missed our first real summer together. No thank you, me
"But we're absolutely alone."
"Isn't that what I'm doing my best to remedy? Don't you worry. I
like it--like it to the marrow of my little bones. You don't
realize what her house means to a woman. We thought we were
living in it last year, but we hadn't begun to. Don't you rejoice
in your study, George?"
"I prefer being here with you." He sat down on the floor by the
couch and took her hand.
"Seven," she said, as the French clock struck. "Year before last
you'd just be coming back from business."
He winced at the recollection, then laughed. "Business! I've been
at work ten solid hours to-day."
"Where did you lunch? With the Conants?"
"No; at Dutton Shaw, sitting on a log, with my feet in a swamp.
But we've found out where the old spring is, and we're going to
pipe it down to Gale Anstey next year."
"I'll come and see to-morrow. Oh, please open the door, dear. I
want to look down the passage. Isn't that corner by the
stair-head lovely where the sun strikes in?" She looked through
half-closed eyes at the vista of ivory-white and pale green all
steeped in liquid gold.
"There's a step out of Jane Elphick's bedroom," she went on--"and
his first step in the world ought to be up. I shouldn't wonder if
those people hadn't put it there on purpose. George, will it make
any odds to you if he's a girl?"
He answered, as he had many times before, that his interest was
his wife, not the child.
"Then you're the only person who thinks so." She laughed. "Don't
be silly, dear. It's expected. I know. It's my duty. I shan't be
able to look our people in the face if I fail."
"What concern is it of theirs, confound 'em!"
"You'll see. Luckily the tradition of the house is boys, Mrs.
Cloke says, so I'm provided for. Shall you ever begin to
understand these people? I shan't."
"And we bought it for fun--for fun!" he groaned. "And here we are
held up for goodness knows bow long!"
"Why? Were you thinking of selling it?" He did not answer. "Do
you remember the second Mrs. Chapin?" she demanded.
This was a bold, brazen little black-browed woman--a widow for
choice--who on Sophie's death was guilefully to marry George for
his wealth and ruin him in a year. George being busy, Sophie had
invented her some two years after her marriage, and conceived she
was alone among wives in so doing.
"You aren't going to bring her up again?" he asked anxiously.
"I only want to say that I should hate any one who bought Pardons
ten times worse than I used to hate the second Mrs. Chapin. Think
what we've put into it of our two selves."
"At least a couple of million dollars. I know I could have
made--" He broke off.
"The beasts!" she went on. "They'd be sure to build a red-brick
lodge at the gates, and cut the lawn up for bedding out. You must
leave instructions in your will that he's never to do that,
George, won't you?"
He laughed and took her hand again but said nothing till it was
time to dress. Then he muttered "What the devil use is a man's
country to him when he can't do business in it?"
Friars Pardon stood faithful to its tradition. At the appointed
time was born, not that third in their party to whom Sophie meant
to be so kind, but a godling; in beauty, it was manifest,
excelling Eros, as in wisdom Confucius; an enhancer of delights,
a renewer of companionships and an interpreter of Destiny. This
last George did not realise till he met Lady Conant striding
through Dutton Shaw a few days after the event.
"My dear fellow," she cried, and slapped him heartily on the
back, "I can't tell you how glad we all are. Oh, she'll be all
right. (There's never been any trouble over the birth of an heir
at Pardons.) Now where the dooce is it?" She felt largely in her
leather-boundskirt and drew out a small silver mug. "I sent a
note to your wife about it, but my silly ass of a groom forgot to
take this. You can save me a tramp. Give her my love." She
marched off amid her guard of grave Airedales.
The mug was worn and dented: above the twined initials, G.L., was
the crest of a footless bird and the motto: " Wayte awhyle--wayte
"That's the other end of the riddle," Sophie whispered, when he
saw her that evening. "Read her note. The English write beautiful
The warmest of welcomes to your little man. I hope he will
appreciate his native land now he has come to it. Though you have
said nothing we cannot, of course, look on him as a little
stranger, and so I am sending him the old Lashmar christening
mug. It has been with us since Gregory Lashmar, your
George stared at his wife.
"Go on," she twinkled, from the pillows.
--mother's brother, sold his place to Walter's family. We seem to
have acquired some of your household gods at that time, but
nothing survives except the mug and the old cradle, which I found
in the potting-shed and am having put in order for you. I hope
little George--Lashmar, he will be too, won't he?--will live to
see his grandchildren cut their teeth on his mug.
P.S.--How quiet you've kept about it all!
"Don't swear," said Sophie. "Bad for the infant mind."
"But how in the world did she get at it? Have you ever said a
word about the Lashmars?"
"You know the only time--to young Iggulden at Rocketts--when
"Your great-grandmother's brother! She's traced the whole
connection--more than your Aunt Sydney could do. What does she
mean about our keeping quiet?"
Sophie's eyes sparkled. "I've thought that out too. We've got
back at the English at last. Can't you see that she thought that
we thought my mother's being a Lashmar was one of those things
we'd expect the English to find out for themselves, and that's
impressed her?" She turned the mug in her white hands, and sighed
happily. "'Wayte awhyle--wayte awhyle.' That's not a bad motto,
George. It's been worth it."
"But still I don't quite see--"
"I shouldn't wonder if they don't think our coming here was part
of a deep-laid scheme to be near our ancestors. They'd understand
that. And look how they've accepted us, all of them."
"Are we so undesirable in ourselves?" George grunted.
"Be just, me lord. That wretched Sangres man has twice our money.
Can you see Marm Conant slapping him between the shoulders? Not
by a jugful! The poor beast doesn't exist!"
"Do you think it's that then?" He looked toward the cot by the
fire where the godling snorted.
"The minute I get well I shall find out from Mrs. Cloke what
every Lashmar gives in doles (that's nicer than tips) every time
a Lashmite is born. I've done my duty thus far, but there's much
expected of me."
Entered here Mrs. Cloke, and hung worshipping over the cot. They
showed her the mug and her face shone. "Oh, now Lady Conant's
sent it, it'll be all proper, ma'am, won't it? 'George' of course
he'd have to be, but seein' what he is we was hopin'--all your
people was hopin'--it 'ud be 'Lashmar' too, and that'ud just
round it out. A very 'andsome mug quite unique, I should imagine.
'Wayte awhyle--wayte awhyle.' That's true with the Lashmars, I've
heard. Very slow to fill their houses, they are. Most like Master
George won't open 'is nursery till he's thirty."
"Poor lamb!" cried Sophie. "But how did you know my folk were
Mrs. Cloke thought deeply. "I'm sure I can't quite say, ma'am,
but I've a belief likely that it was something you may have let
drop to young Iggulden when you was at Rocketts. That may have
been what give us an inkling. An' so it came out, one thing in
the way o' talk leading to another, and those American people at
Veering Holler was very obligin' with news, I'm told, ma'am."
"Great Scott!" said George, under his breath. "And this is the
"Yiss," Mrs. Cloke went on. "An' Cloke was only wonderin' this
afternoon--your pillow's slipped my dear, you mustn't lie that
a-way--just for the sake o' sayin' something, whether you
wouldn't think well now of getting the Lashmar farms back, sir.
They don't rightly round off Sir Walter's estate. They come
caterin' across us more. Cloke, 'e 'ud be glad to show you over
"But Sir Walter doesn't want to sell, does he?"
"We can find out from his bailiff, sir, but"--with cold
contempt--"I think that trained nurse is just comin' up from her
dinner, so 'm afraid we'll 'ave to ask you, sir ... Now, Master
George--Ai-ie! Wake a litty minute, lammie!"
A few months later the three of them were down at the brook in
the Gale Anstey woods to consider the rebuilding of a footbridge
carried away by spring floods. George Lashmar Chapin wanted all
the bluebells on God's earth that day to eat, and--Sophie adored
him in a voice like to the cooing of a dove; so business was
"Here's the place," said his father at last among the water
forget-me-nots. "But where the deuce are the larch-poles, Cloke?
I told you to have them down here ready."
"We'll get 'em down if f you say so," Cloke answered, with a
thrust of the underlip they both knew.
"But I did say so. What on earth have you brought that timber-tug
here for? We aren't building a railway bridge. Why, in America,
half-a-dozen two-by-four bits would be ample."
"I don't know nothin' about that," said Cloke.
"An' I've nothin' to say against larch--IF you want to make a
temp'ry job of it. I ain't 'ere to tell you what isn't so, sir;
an' you can't say I ever come creepin' up on you, or tryin' to
lead you further in than you set out--"
A year ago George would have danced with impatience. Now he
scraped a little mud off his old gaiters with his spud, and
"All I say is that you can put up larch and make a temp'ry job of
it; and by the time the young master's married it'll have to be
done again. Now, I've brought down a couple of as sweet
six-by-eight oak timbers as we've ever drawed. You put 'em in an'
it's off your mind or good an' all. T'other way--I don't say it
ain't right, I'm only just sayin' what I think--but t'other way,
he'll no sooner be married than we'll lave it all to do again.
You've no call to regard my words, but you can't get out of
"No," said George after a pause; "I've been realising that for
some time. Make it oak then; we can't get out of it."
I am the land of their fathers,
In me the virtue stays;
I will bring back my children,
After certain days.
Under their feet in the grasses
My clinging magic runs.
They shall return as strangers,
They shall remain as sons.
Over their heads in the branches
Of their new-bought, ancient trees,
I weave an incantation,
And draw them to my knees.
Scent of smoke in the evening,
Smell of rain in the night,
The hours, the days and the seasons
Order their souls aright;
Till I make plain the meaning
Of all my thousand years
Till I fill their hearts with knowledge,
While I fill their eyes with tears.
0ne night, a very long time ago, I drove to an Indian military
cantonment called Mian Mir to see amateur theatricals. At the
back of the Infantry barracks a soldier, his cap over one eye,
rushed in front of the horses and shouted that he was a dangerous
highway robber. As a matter of fact, he was a friend of mine, so
I told him to go home before any one caught him; but he fell
under the pole, and I heard voices of a military guard in search
of some one.
The driver and I coaxed him into the carriage, drove home
swiftly, undressed him and put him to bed, where he waked next
morning with a sore headache, very much ashamed. When his uniform
was cleaned and dried, and he had been shaved and washed and made
neat, I drove him back to barracks with his arm in a fine white
sling, and reported that I had accidentally run over him. I did
not tell this story to my friend's sergeant, who was a hostile
and unbelieving person, but to his lieutenant, who did not know
us quite so well.
Three days later my friend came to call, and at his heels
slobbered and fawned one of the finest bull-terriers--of the
old-fashioned breed, two parts bull and one terrier--that I had
ever set eyes on. He was pure white, with a fawn-coloured saddle
just behind his neck, and a fawn diamond at the root of his thin
whippy tail. I had admired him distantly for more than a year;
and Vixen, my own fox-terrier, knew him too, but did not approve.
"'E's for you," said my friend; but he did not look as though he
liked parting with him.
"Nonsense! That dog's worth more than most men, Stanley," I said.
"'E's that and more. 'Tention!"
The dog rose on his hind legs, and stood upright for a full
He sat on his haunches and turned his head sharp to the right. At
a sign he rose and barked thrice. Then he shook hands with his
right paw and bounded lightly to my shoulder. Here he made
himself into a necktie, limp and lifeless, hanging down on either
side of my neck. I was told to pick him up and throw him in the
air. He fell with a howl, and held up one leg.
"Part o' the trick," said his owner. "You're going to die now.
Dig yourself your little grave an' shut your little eye."
Still limping, the dog hobbled to the garden-edge, dug a hole and
lay down in it. When told that he was cured, he jumped out,
wagging his tail, and whining for applause. He was put through
half-a-dozen other tricks, such as showing how he would hold a
man safe (I was that man, and he sat down before me, his teeth
bared, ready to spring), and how he would stop eating at the word
of command. I had no more than finished praising him when my
friend made a gesture that stopped the dog as though he had been
shot, took a piece of blue-ruled canteen-paper from his helmet,
handed it to me and ran away, while the dog looked after him and
howled. I read:
SIR--I give you the dog because of what you got me out of. He is
the best I know, for I made him myself, and he is as good as a
man. Please do not give him too much to eat, and please do not
give him back to me, for I'm not going to take him, if you will
keep him. So please do not try to give him back any more. I have
kept his name back, so you can call him anything and he will
answer. but please do not give him back. He can kill a man as
easy as anything, but please do not give him too much meat. He
knows more than a man.
Vixen sympathetically joined her shrill little yap to the
bull-terrier's despairing cry, and I was annoyed, for I knew that
a man who cares for dogs is one thing, but a man who loves one
dog is quite another. Dogs are at the best no more than verminous
vagrants, self-scratchers, foul feeders, and unclean by the law
of Moses and Mohammed; but a dog with whom one lives alone for at
least six months in the year; a free thing, tied to you so
strictly by love that without you he will not stir or exercise; a
patient, temperate, humorous, wise soul, who knows your moods
before you know them yourself, is not a dog under any ruling.
I had Vixen, who was all my dog to me; and I felt what my friend
must have felt, at tearing out his heart in this style and
leaving it in my garden. However, the dog understood clearly
enough that I was his master, and did not follow the soldier. As
soon as he drew breath I made much of him, and Vixen, yelling
with jealousy, flew at him. Had she been of his own sex, he might
have cheered himself with a fight, but he only looked worriedly
when she nipped his deep iron sides, laid his heavy head on my
knee, and howled anew. I meant to dine at the Club that night;
but as darkness drew in, and the dog snuffed through the empty
house like a child trying to recover from a fit of sobbing, I
felt that I could not leave him to suffer his first evening
alone. So we fed at home, Vixen on one side, and the stranger-dog
on the other; she watching his every mouthful, and saying
explicitly what she thought of his table manners, which were much
better than hers.
It was Vixen's custom, till the weather grew hot, to sleep in my
bed, her head on the pillow like a Christian; and when morning
came I would always find that the little thing had braced her
feet against the wall and pushed me to the very edge of the cot.
This night she hurried to bed purposefully, every hair up, one
eye on the stranger, who had dropped on a mat in a helpless,
hopeless sort of way, all four feet spread out, sighing heavily.
She settled her head on the pillow several times, to show her
little airs and graces, and struck up her usual whiney sing-song
before slumber. The stranger-dog softly edged toward me. I put
out my hand and he licked it. Instantly my wrist was between
Vixen's teeth, and her warning aaarh! said as plainly as speech,
that if I took any further notice of the stranger she would bite.
I caught her behind her fat neck with my left hand, shook her
severely, and said:
"Vixen, if you do that again you'll be put into the verandah.
She understood perfectly, but the minute I released her she
mouthed my right wrist once more, and waited with her ears back
and all her body flattened, ready to bite. The big dog's tail
thumped the floor in a humble and peace-making way.
I grabbed Vixen a second time, lifted her out of bed like a
rabbit (she hated that and yelled), and, as I had promised, set
her out in the verandah with the bats and the moonlight. At this
she howled. Then she used coarse language--not to me, but to the
bullterrier--till she coughed with exhaustion. Then she ran round
the house trying every door. Then she went off to the stables and
barked as though some one were stealing the horses, which was an
old trick of hers. Last she returned, and her snuffing yelp said,
"I'll be good! Let me in and I'll' be good!"
She was admitted and flew to her pillow. When she was quieted I
whispered to the other dog, "You can lie on the foot of the bed."
The bull jumped up at once, and though I felt Vixen quiver with
rage, she knew better than to protest. So we slept till the
morning, and they had early breakfast with me, bite for bite,
till the horse came round and we went for a ride. I don't think
the bull had ever followed a horse before. He was wild with
excitement, and Vixen, as usual, squealed and scuttered and
scooted, and took charge of the procession.
There was one corner of a village near by, which we generally
passed with caution, because all the yellow pariah-dogs of the
place gathered about it.
They were half-wild, starving beasts, and though utter cowards,
yet where nine or ten of them get together they will mob and kill
and eat an English dog. I kept a whip with a long lash for them.
That morning they attacked Vixen, who, perhaps of design, had
moved from beyond my horse's shadow.
The bull was ploughing along in the dust, fifty yards behind,
rolling in his run, and smiling as bull-terriers will. I heard
Vixen squeal; half a dozen of the curs closed in on her; a white
streak came up behind me; a cloud of dust rose near Vixen, and,
when it cleared, I saw one tall pariah with his back broken, and
the bull wrenching another to earth. Vixen retreated to the
protection of my whip, and the bull paddled back smiling more
than ever, covered with the blood of his enemies. That decided me
to call him "Garin of the Bloody Breast," who was a great person
in his time, or "Garm" for short; so, leaning forward, I told him
what his temporary name would be. He looked up while I repeated
it, and then raced away. I shouted "Garin!" He stopped, raced
back, and came up to ask my will.
Then I saw that my soldier friend was right, and that that dog
knew and was worth more than a man. At the end of the ride I gave
an order which Vixen knew and hated: "Go away and get washed!" I
said. Garin understood some part of it, and Vixen interpreted the
rest, and the two trotted off together soberly. When I went to
the back verandah Vixen had been washed snowy-white, and was very
proud of herself, but the dog-boy would not touch Garm on any
account unless I stood by. So I waited while he was being
scrubbed, and Garm, with the soap creaming on the top of his
broad head, looked at me to make sure that this was what I
expected him to endure. He knew perfectly that the dog-boy was
only obeying orders.
"Another time," I said to the dog-boy, "you will wash the great
dog with Vixen when I send them home."
"Does he know?" said the dog-boy, who understood the ways of
"Garm," I said, "another time you will be washed with Vixen."
I knew that Garm understood. Indeed, next washing-day, when Vixen
as usual fled under my bed, Garm stared at the doubtful dog-boy
in the verandah, stalked to the place where he had been washed
last time, and stood rigid in the tub.
But the long days in my office tried him sorely. We three would
drive off in the morning at half-past eight and come home at six
or later. Vixen knowing the routine of it, went to sleep under my
table; but the confinement ate into Garm's soul. He generally sat
on the verandah looking out on the Mall; and well I knew what he
Sometimes a company of soldiers would move along on their way to
the Fort, and Garm rolled forth to inspect them; or an officer in
uniform entered into the office, and it was pitiful to see poor
Garm's welcome to the cloth--not the man. He would leap at him,
and sniff and bark joyously, then run to the door and back again.
One afternoon I heard him bay with a full throat--a thing I had
never heard before--and he disappeared. When I drove into my
garden at the end of the day a soldier in white uniform scrambled
over the wall at the far end, and the Garm that met me was a
joyous dog. This happened twice or thrice a week for a month.
I pretended not to notice, but Garm knew and Vixen knew. He would
glide homewards from the office about four o'clock, as though he
were only going to look at the scenery, and this he did so
quietly that but for Vixen I should not have noticed him. The
jealous little dog under the table would give a sniff and a
snort, just loud enough to call my attention to the flight. Garm
might go out forty times in the day and Vixen would never stir,
but when he slunk off to see his true master in my garden she
told me in her own tongue. That was the one sign she made to
prove that Garm did not altogether belong to the family. They
were the best of friends at all times, but, Vixen explained that
I was never to forget Garm did not love me as she loved me.
I never expected it. The dog was not my dog could never be my
dog--and I knew he was as miserable as his master who tramped
eight miles a day to see him. So it seemed to me that the sooner
the two were reunited the better for all. One afternoon I sent
Vixen home alone in the dog-cart (Garm had gone before), and rode
over to cantonments to find another friend of mine, who was an
Irish soldier and a great friend of the dog's master.
I explained the whole case, and wound up with:
"And now Stanley's in my garden crying over his dog. Why doesn't
he take him back? They're both unhappy."
"Unhappy! There's no sense in the little man any more. But 'tis
"What is his fit? He travels fifty miles a week to see the brute,
and he pretends not to notice me when he sees me on the road; and
I'm as unhappy as he is. Make him take the dog back."
"It's his penance he's set himself. I told him by way of a joke,
afther you'd run over him so convenient that night, whin he was
drunk--I said if he was a Catholic he'd do penance. Off he went
wid that fit in his little head an' a dose of fever, an nothin'
would suit but givin' you the dog as a hostage."
"Hostage for what? I don't want hostages from Stanley."
"For his good behaviour. He's keepin' straight now, the way it's
no pleasure to associate wid him."
"Has he taken the pledge?"
"If 'twas only that I need not care. Ye can take the pledge for
three months on an' off. He sez he'll never see the dog again,
an' so mark you, he'll keep straight for evermore. Ye know his
fits? Well, this is wan of them. How's the dog takin' it ?"
"Like a man. He's the best dog in India. Can't you make Stanley
take him back?"
"I can do no more than I have done. But ye know his fits. He's
just doin' his penance. What will he do when he goes to the
Hills? The doctor's put him on the list."
It is the custom in India to send a certain number of invalids
from each regiment up to stations in the Himalayas for the hot
weather; and though the men ought to enjoy the cool and the
comfort, they miss the society of the barracks down below, and do
their best to come back or to avoid going. I felt that this move
would bring matters to a head, so I left Terrence hopefully,
though he called after me "He won't take the dog, sorr. You can
lay your month's pay on that. Ye know his fits."
I never pretended to understand Private Ortheris; and so I did
the next best thing I left him alone.
That summer the invalids of the regiment to which my friend
belonged were ordered off to the Hills early, because the doctors
thought marching in the cool of the day would do them good. Their
route lay south to a place called Umballa, a hundred and twenty
miles or more. Then they would turn east and march up into the
hills to Kasauli or Dugshai or Subathoo. I dined with the
officers the night before they left--they were marching at five
in the morning. It was midnight when I drove into my garden, and
surprised a white figure flying over the wall.
"That man," said my butler, "has been here since nine, making
talk to that dog. He is quite mad."
I did not tell him to go away because he has been here many times
before, and because the dog-boy told me that if I told him to go
away, that great dog would immediately slay me. He did not wish
to speak to the Protector of the Poor, and he did not ask for
anything to eat or drink."
"Kadir Buksh," said I, "that was well done, for the dog would
surely have killed thee. But I do not think the white soldier
will come any more."
Garm slept ill that night and whimpered in his dreams. Once he
sprang up with a clear, ringing bark, and I heard him wag his
tail till it waked him and the bark died out in a howl. He had
dreamed he was with his master again, and I nearly cried. It was
all Stanley's silly fault.
The first halt which the detachment of invalids made was some
miles from their barracks, on the Amritsar road, and ten miles
distant from my house. By a mere chance one of the officers drove
back for another good dinner at the Club (cooking on the line of
march is always bad), and there I met him. He was a particular
friend of mine, and I knew that he knew how to love a dog
properly. His pet was a big fat retriever who was going up to the
Hills for his health, and, though it was still April, the round,
brown brute puffed and panted in the Club verandah as though he
"It's amazing," said the officer, "what excuses these invalids of
mine make to get back to barracks. There's a man in my company
now asked me for leave to go back to cantonments to pay a debt
he'd forgotten. I was so taken by the idea I let him go, and he
jingled off in an ekka as pleased as Punch. Ten miles to pay a
debt! Wonder what it was really?"
"If you'll drive me home I think I can show you," I said.
So he went over to my house in his dog-cart with the retriever;
and on the way I told him the story of Garm.
"I was wondering where that brute had gone to. He's the best dog
in the regiment," said my friend. "I offered the little fellow
twenty rupees for him a month ago. But he's a hostage, you say,
for Stanley's good conduct. Stanley's one of the best men I have
when he chooses."
"That's the reason why," I said. "A second-rate man wouldn't have
taken things to heart as he has done."
We drove in quietly at the far end of the garden, and crept round
the house. There was a place close to the wall all grown about
with tamarisk trees, where I knew Garm kept his bones. Even Vixen
was not allowed to sit near it. In the full Indian moonlight I
could see a white uniform bending over the dog.
"Good-bye, old man," we could not help hearing Stanley's voice.
"For 'Eving's sake don't get bit and go mad by any measly pi-dog.
But you can look after yourself, old man. You don't get drunk an'
run about 'ittin' your friends. You takes your bones an' you eats
your biscuit, an' you kills your enemy like a gentleman. I'm