Part 3 out of 7
"Well," he said: "What would you like to do now--drop into a
theatre or music-hall, or what?"
Gyp shook her head. It was so hot. Could they just drive, and
then perhaps sit in the park? That would be lovely. It had gone
dark, and the air was not quite so exhausted--a little freshness of
scent from the trees in the squares and parks mingled with the
fumes of dung and petrol. Winton gave the same order he had given
that long past evening: "Knightsbridge Gate." It had been a hansom
then, and the night air had blown in their faces, instead of as now
in these infernal taxis, down the back of one's neck. They left
the cab and crossed the Row; passed the end of the Long Water, up
among the trees. There, on two chairs covered by Winton's coat,
they sat side by side. No dew was falling yet; the heavy leaves
hung unstirring; the air was warm, sweet-smelling. Blotted against
trees or on the grass were other couples darker than the darkness,
very silent. All was quiet save for the never-ceasing hum of
traffic. From Winton's lips, the cigar smoke wreathed and curled.
He was dreaming. The cigar between his teeth trembled; a long ash
fell. Mechanically he raised his hand to brush it off--his right
hand! A voice said softly in his ear:
"Isn't it delicious, and warm, and gloomy black?"
Winton shivered, as one shivers recalled from dreams; and,
carefully brushing off the ash with his left hand, he answered:
"Yes; very jolly. My cigar's out, though, and I haven't a match."
Gyp's hand slipped through his arm.
"All these people in love, and so dark and whispery--it makes a
sort of strangeness in the air. Don't you feel it?"
"No moon to-night!"
Again they were silent. A puff of wind ruffled the leaves; the
night, for a moment, seemed full of whispering; then the sound of a
giggle jarred out and a girl's voice:
"Oh! Chuck it, 'Arry."
"I feel the dew now, Dad. Can we walk on?"
They went along paths, so as not to wet her feet in her thin shoes.
And they talked. The spell was over; the night again but a common
London night; the park a space of parching grass and gravel; the
people just clerks and shop-girls walking out.
Fiorsen's letters were the source of one long smile to Gyp. He
missed her horribly; if only she were there!--and so forth--blended
in the queerest way with the impression that he was enjoying
himself uncommonly. There were requests for money, and careful
omission of any real account of what he was doing. Out of a
balance running rather low, she sent him remittances; this was her
holiday, too, and she could afford to pay for it. She even sought
out a shop where she could sell jewelry, and, with a certain
malicious joy, forwarded him the proceeds. It would give him and
herself another week.
One night she went with Winton to the Octagon, where Daphne Wing
was still performing. Remembering the girl's squeaks of rapture at
her garden, she wrote next day, asking her to lunch and spend a
lazy afternoon under the trees.
The little dancer came with avidity. She was pale, and droopy from
the heat, but happily dressed in Liberty silk, with a plain turn-
down straw hat. They lunched off sweetbreads, ices, and fruit, and
then, with coffee, cigarettes, and plenty of sugar-plums, settled
down in the deepest shade of the garden, Gyp in a low wicker chair,
Daphne Wing on cushions and the grass. Once past the exclamatory
stage, she seemed a great talker, laying bare her little soul with
perfect liberality. And Gyp--excellent listener--enjoyed it, as
one enjoys all confidential revelations of existences very
different from one's own, especially when regarded as a superior
"Of course I don't mean to stay at home any longer than I can help;
only it's no good going out into life"--this phrase she often used--
"till you know where you are. In my profession, one has to be so
careful. Of course, people think it's worse than it is; father
gets fits sometimes. But you know, Mrs. Fiorsen, home's awful. We
have mutton--you know what mutton is--it's really awful in your
bedroom in hot weather. And there's nowhere to practise. What I
should like would be a studio. It would be lovely, somewhere down
by the river, or up here near you. That WOULD be lovely. You
know, I'm putting by. As soon as ever I have two hundred pounds, I
shall skip. What I think would be perfectly lovely would be to
inspire painters and musicians. I don't want to be just a common
'turn'--ballet business year after year, and that; I want to be
something rather special. But mother's so silly about me; she
thinks I oughtn't to take any risks at all. I shall never get on
that way. It IS so nice to talk to you, Mrs. Fiorsen, because
you're young enough to know what I feel; and I'm sure you'd never
be shocked at anything. You see, about men: Ought one to marry,
or ought one to take a lover? They say you can't be a perfect
artist till you've felt passion. But, then, if you marry, that
means mutton over again, and perhaps babies, and perhaps the wrong
man after all. Ugh! But then, on the other hand, I don't want to
be raffish. I hate raffish people--I simply hate them. What do
you think? It's awfully difficult, isn't it?"
Gyp, perfectly grave, answered:
"That sort of thing settles itself. I shouldn't bother beforehand."
Miss Daphne Wing buried her perfect chin deeper in her hands, and
"Yes; I rather thought that, too; of course I could do either now.
But, you see, I really don't care for men who are not
distinguished. I'm sure I shall only fall in love with a really
distinguished man. That's what you did--isn't it?--so you MUST
understand. I think Mr. Fiorsen is wonderfully distinguished."
Sunlight, piercing the shade, suddenly fell warm on Gyp's neck
where her blouse ceased, and fortunately stilled the medley of
emotion and laughter a little lower down. She continued to look
gravely at Daphne Wing, who resumed:
"Of course, Mother would have fits if I asked her such a question,
and I don't know what Father would do. Only it is important, isn't
it? One may go all wrong from the start; and I do really want to
get on. I simply adore my work. I don't mean to let love stand in
its way; I want to make it help, you know. Count Rosek says my
dancing lacks passion. I wish you'd tell me if you think it does.
I should believe YOU."
Gyp shook her head.
"I'm not a judge."
Daphne Wing looked up reproachfully.
"Oh, I'm sure you are! If I were a man, I should be passionately
in love with you. I've got a new dance where I'm supposed to be a
nymph pursued by a faun; it's so difficult to feel like a nymph
when you know it's only the ballet-master. Do you think I ought to
put passion into that? You see, I'm supposed to be flying all the
time; but it would be much more subtle, wouldn't it, if I could
give the impression that I wanted to be caught. Don't you think
Gyp said suddenly:
"Yes, I think it WOULD do you good to be in love."
Miss Daphne's mouth fell a little open; her eyes grew round. She
"You frightened me when you said that. You looked so different--
A flame indeed had leaped up in Gyp. This fluffy, flabby talk of
love set her instincts in revolt. She did not want to love; she
had failed to fall in love. But, whatever love was like, it did
not bear talking about. How was it that this little suburban girl,
when she once got on her toes, could twirl one's emotions as she
"D'you know what I should simply revel in?" Daphne Wing went on:
"To dance to you here in the garden some night. It must be
wonderful to dance out of doors; and the grass is nice and hard
now. Only, I suppose it would shock the servants. Do they look
out this way?" Gyp shook her head. "I could dance over there in
front of the drawing-room window. Only it would have to be
moonlight. I could come any Sunday. I've got a dance where I'm
supposed to be a lotus flower--that would do splendidly. And
there's my real moonlight dance that goes to Chopin. I could bring
my dresses, and change in the music-room, couldn't I?" She
wriggled up, and sat cross-legged, gazing at Gyp, and clasping her
hands. "Oh, may I?"
Her excitement infected Gyp. A desire to give pleasure, the
queerness of the notion, and her real love of seeing this girl
dance, made her say:
"Yes; next Sunday."
Daphne Wing got up, made a rush, and kissed her. Her mouth was
soft, and she smelled of orange blossom; but Gyp recoiled a little--
she hated promiscuous kisses. Somewhat abashed, Miss Daphne hung
her head, and said:
"You did look so lovely; I couldn't help it, really."
And Gyp gave her hand the squeeze of compunction.
They went indoors, to try over the music of the two dances; and
soon after Daphne Wing departed, full of sugar-plums and hope.
She arrived punctually at eight o'clock next Sunday, carrying an
exiguous green linen bag, which contained her dresses. She was
subdued, and, now that it had come to the point, evidently a little
scared. Lobster salad, hock, and peaches restored her courage.
She ate heartily. It did not apparently matter to her whether she
danced full or empty; but she would not smoke.
"It's bad for the--" She checked herself.
When they had finished supper, Gyp shut the dogs into the back
premises; she had visions of their rending Miss Wing's draperies,
or calves. Then they went into the drawing-room, not lighting up,
that they might tell when the moonlight was strong enough outside.
Though it was the last night of August, the heat was as great as
ever--a deep, unstirring warmth; the climbing moon shot as yet but
a thin shaft here and there through the heavy foliage. They talked
in low voices, unconsciously playing up to the nature of the
escapade. As the moon drew up, they stole out across the garden to
the music-room. Gyp lighted the candles.
"Can you manage?"
Miss Daphne had already shed half her garments.
"Oh, I'm so excited, Mrs. Fiorsen! I do hope I shall dance well."
Gyp stole back to the house; it being Sunday evening, the servants
had been easily disposed of. She sat down at the piano, turning
her eyes toward the garden. A blurred white shape flitted suddenly
across the darkness at the far end and became motionless, as it
might be a white-flowering bush under the trees. Miss Daphne had
come out, and was waiting for the moon. Gyp began to play. She
pitched on a little Sicilian pastorale that the herdsmen play on
their pipes coming down from the hills, softly, from very far,
rising, rising, swelling to full cadence, and failing, failing away
again to nothing. The moon rose over the trees; its light flooded
the face of the house, down on to the grass, and spread slowly back
toward where the girl stood waiting. It caught the border of
sunflowers along the garden wall with a stroke of magical,
unearthly colour--gold that was not gold.
Gyp began to play the dance. The pale blurr in the darkness
stirred. The moonlight fell on the girl now, standing with arms
spread, holding out her drapery--a white, winged statue. Then,
like a gigantic moth she fluttered forth, blanched and noiseless
flew over the grass, spun and hovered. The moonlight etched out
the shape of her head, painted her hair with pallid gold. In the
silence, with that unearthly gleam of colour along the sunflowers
and on the girl's head, it was as if a spirit had dropped into the
garden and was fluttering to and fro, unable to get out.
A voice behind Gyp said: "My God! What's this? An angel?"
Fiorsen was standing hall-way in the darkened room staring out into
the garden, where the girl had halted, transfixed before the
window, her eyes as round as saucers, her mouth open, her limbs
rigid with interest and affright. Suddenly she turned and,
gathering her garment, fled, her limbs gleaming in the moonlight.
And Gyp sat looking up at the apparition of her husband. She could
just see his eyes straining after that flying nymph. Miss Daphne's
faun! Why, even his ears were pointed! Had she never noticed
before, how like a faun he was? Yes--on her wedding-night! And
she said quietly:
"Daphne Wing was rehearsing her new dance. So you're back! Why
didn't you let me know? Are you all right--you look splendid!"
Fiorsen bent down and clutched her by the shoulders.
"My Gyp! Kiss me!"
But even while his lips were pressed on hers, she felt rather than
saw his eyes straying to the garden, and thought, "He would like to
be kissing that girl!"
The moment he had gone to get his things from the cab, she slipped
out to the music-room.
Miss Daphne was dressed, and stuffing her garments into the green
linen bag. She looked up, and said piteously:
"Oh! Does he mind? It's awful, isn't it?"
Gyp strangled her desire to laugh.
"It's for you to mind."
"Oh, I don't, if you don't! How did you like the dance?"
"Lovely! When you're ready--come along!"
"Oh, I think I'd rather go home, please! It must seem so funny!"
"Would you like to go by this back way into the lane? You turn to
the right, into the road."
"Oh, yes; please. It would have been better if he could have seen
the dance properly, wouldn't it? What will he think?"
Gyp smiled, and opened the door into the lane. When she returned,
Fiorsen was at the window, gazing out. Was it for her or for that
September and October passed. There were more concerts, not very
well attended. Fiorsen's novelty had worn off, nor had his playing
sweetness and sentiment enough for the big Public. There was also
a financial crisis. It did not seem to Gyp to matter. Everything
seemed remote and unreal in the shadow of her coming time. Unlike
most mothers to be, she made no garments, no preparations of any
kind. Why make what might never be needed? She played for Fiorsen
a great deal, for herself not at all, read many books--poetry,
novels, biographies--taking them in at the moment, and forgetting
them at once, as one does with books read just to distract the
mind. Winton and Aunt Rosamund, by tacit agreement, came on
alternate afternoons. And Winton, almost as much under that shadow
as Gyp herself, would take the evening train after leaving her, and
spend the next day racing or cub-hunting, returning the morning of
the day after to pay his next visit. He had no dread just then
like that of an unoccupied day face to face with anxiety.
Betty, who had been present at Gyp's birth, was in a queer state.
The obvious desirability of such events to one of motherly type
defrauded by fate of children was terribly impinged on by that old
memory, and a solicitude for her "pretty" far exceeding what she
would have had for a daughter of her own. What a peony regards as
a natural happening to a peony, she watches with awe when it
happens to the lily. That other single lady of a certain age, Aunt
Rosamund, the very antithesis to Betty--a long, thin nose and a
mere button, a sense of divine rights and no sense of rights at
all, a drawl and a comforting wheeze, length and circumference,
decision and the curtsey to providence, humour and none, dyspepsia,
and the digestion of an ostrich, with other oppositions--Aunt
Rosamund was also uneasy, as only one could be who disapproved
heartily of uneasiness, and habitually joked and drawled it into
But of all those round Gyp, Fiorsen gave the most interesting
display. He had not even an elementary notion of disguising his
state of mind. And his state of mind was weirdly, wistfully
primitive. He wanted Gyp as she had been. The thought that she
might never become herself again terrified him so at times that he
was forced to drink brandy, and come home only a little less far
gone than that first time. Gyp had often to help him go to bed.
On two or three occasions, he suffered so that he was out all
night. To account for this, she devised the formula of a room at
Count Rosek's, where he slept when music kept him late, so as not
to disturb her. Whether the servants believed her or not, she
never knew. Nor did she ever ask him where he went--too proud, and
not feeling that she had the right.
Deeply conscious of the unaesthetic nature of her condition, she
was convinced that she could no longer be attractive to one so
easily upset in his nerves, so intolerant of ugliness. As to
deeper feelings about her--had he any? He certainly never gave
anything up, or sacrificed himself in any way. If she had loved,
she felt she would want to give up everything to the loved one; but
then--she would never love! And yet he seemed frightened about
her. It was puzzling! But perhaps she would not be puzzled much
longer about that or anything; for she often had the feeling that
she would die. How could she be going to live, grudging her fate?
What would give her strength to go through with it? And, at times,
she felt as if she would be glad to die. Life had defrauded her,
or she had defrauded herself of life. Was it really only a year
since that glorious day's hunting when Dad and she, and the young
man with the clear eyes and the irrepressible smile, had slipped
away with the hounds ahead of all the field--the fatal day Fiorsen
descended from the clouds and asked for her? An overwhelming
longing for Mildenham came on her, to get away there with her
father and Betty.
She went at the beginning of November.
Over her departure, Fiorsen behaved like a tired child that will
not go to bed. He could not bear to be away from her, and so
forth; but when she had gone, he spent a furious bohemian evening.
At about five, he woke with "an awful cold feeling in my heart," as
he wrote to Gyp next day--"an awful feeling, my Gyp; I walked up
and down for hours" (in reality, half an hour at most). "How shall
I bear to be away from you at this time? I feel lost." Next day,
he found himself in Paris with Rosek. "I could not stand," he
wrote, "the sight of the streets, of the garden, of our room. When
I come back I shall stay with Rosek. Nearer to the day I will
come; I must come to you." But Gyp, when she read the letter, said
to Winton: "Dad, when it comes, don't send for him. I don't want
With those letters of his, she buried the last remnants of her
feeling that somewhere in him there must be something as fine and
beautiful as the sounds he made with his violin. And yet she felt
those letters genuine in a way, pathetic, and with real feeling of
From the moment she reached Mildenham, she began to lose that
hopelessness about herself; and, for the first time, had the
sensation of wanting to live in the new life within her. She first
felt it, going into her old nursery, where everything was the same
as it had been when she first saw it, a child of eight; there was
her old red doll's house, the whole side of which opened to display
the various floors; the worn Venetian blinds, the rattle of whose
fall had sounded in her ears so many hundred times; the high
fender, near which she had lain so often on the floor, her chin on
her hands, reading Grimm, or "Alice in Wonderland," or histories of
England. Here, too, perhaps this new child would live amongst the
old familiars. And the whim seized her to face her hour in her old
nursery, not in the room where she had slept as a girl. She would
not like the daintiness of that room deflowered. Let it stay the
room of her girlhood. But in the nursery--there was safety,
comfort! And when she had been at Mildenham a week, she made Betty
change her over.
No one in that house was half so calm to look at in those days as
Gyp. Betty was not guiltless of sitting on the stairs and crying
at odd moments. Mrs. Markey had never made such bad soups. Markey
so far forgot himself as frequently to talk. Winton lamed a horse
trying an impossible jump that he might get home the quicker, and,
once back, was like an unquiet spirit. If Gyp were in the room, he
would make the pretence of wanting to warm his feet or hand, just
to stroke her shoulder as he went back to his chair. His voice, so
measured and dry, had a ring in it, that too plainly disclosed the
anxiety of his heart. Gyp, always sensitive to atmosphere, felt
cradled in all the love about her. Wonderful that they should all
care so much! What had she done for anyone, that people should be
so sweet--he especially, whom she had so grievously distressed by
her wretched marriage? She would sit staring into the fire with
her wide, dark eyes, unblinking as an owl's at night--wondering
what she could do to make up to her father, whom already once she
had nearly killed by coming into life. And she began to practise
the bearing of the coming pain, trying to project herself into this
unknown suffering, so that it should not surprise from her cries
She had one dream, over and over again, of sinking and sinking into
a feather bed, growing hotter and more deeply walled in by that
which had no stay in it, yet through which her body could not fall
and reach anything more solid. Once, after this dream, she got up
and spent the rest of the night wrapped in a blanket and the eider-
down, on the old sofa, where, as a child, they had made her lie
flat on her back from twelve to one every day. Betty was aghast at
finding her there asleep in the morning. Gyp's face was so like
the child-face she had seen lying there in the old days, that she
bundled out of the room and cried bitterly into the cup of tea. It
did her good. Going back with the tea, she scolded her "pretty"
for sleeping out there, with the fire out, too!
But Gyp only said:
"Betty, darling, the tea's awfully cold! Please get me some more!"
From the day of the nurse's arrival, Winton gave up hunting. He
could not bring himself to be out of doors for more than half an
hour at a time. Distrust of doctors did not prevent him having ten
minutes every morning with the old practitioner who had treated Gyp
for mumps, measles, and the other blessings of childhood. The old
fellow--his name was Rivershaw--was a most peculiar survival. He
smelled of mackintosh, had round purplish cheeks, a rim of hair
which people said he dyed, and bulging grey eyes slightly
bloodshot. He was short in body and wind, drank port wine, was
suspected of taking snuff, read The Times, spoke always in a husky
voice, and used a very small brougham with a very old black horse.
But he had a certain low cunning, which had defeated many ailments,
and his reputation for assisting people into the world stood
extremely high. Every morning punctually at twelve, the crunch of
his little brougham's wheels would be heard. Winton would get up,
and, taking a deep breath, cross the hall to the dining-room,
extract from a sideboard a decanter of port, a biscuit-canister,
and one glass. He would then stand with his eyes fixed on the
door, till, in due time, the doctor would appear, and he could say:
"Well, doctor? How is she?"
"Nicely; quite nicely."
"Nothing to make one anxious?"
The doctor, puffing out his cheeks, with eyes straying to the
decanter, would murmur:
"Cardiac condition, capital--a little--um--not to matter. Taking
its course. These things!"
And Winton, with another deep breath, would say:
"Glass of port, doctor?"
An expression of surprise would pass over the doctor's face.
"Cold day--ah, perhaps--" And he would blow his nose on his
Watching him drink his port, Winton would mark:
"We can get you at any time, can't we?"
And the doctor, sucking his lips, would answer:
"Never fear, my dear sir! Little Miss Gyp--old friend of mine. At
her service day and night. Never fear!"
A sensation of comfort would pass through Winton, which would last
quite twenty minutes after the crunching of the wheels and the
mingled perfumes of him had died away.
In these days, his greatest friend was an old watch that had been
his father's before him; a gold repeater from Switzerland, with a
chipped dial-plate, and a case worn wondrous thin and smooth--a
favourite of Gyp's childhood. He would take it out about every
quarter of an hour, look at its face without discovering the time,
finger it, all smooth and warm from contact with his body, and put
it back. Then he would listen. There was nothing whatever to
listen to, but he could not help it. Apart from this, his chief
distraction was to take a foil and make passes at a leather
cushion, set up on the top of a low bookshelf. In these
occupations, varied by constant visits to the room next the
nursery, where--to save her the stairs--Gyp was now established,
and by excursions to the conservatory to see if he could not find
some new flower to take her, he passed all his time, save when he
was eating, sleeping, or smoking cigars, which he had constantly to
By Gyp's request, they kept from him knowledge of when her pains
began. After that first bout was over and she was lying half
asleep in the old nursery, he happened to go up. The nurse--a
bonny creature--one of those free, independent, economic agents
that now abound--met him in the sitting-room. Accustomed to the
"fuss and botheration of men" at such times, she was prepared to
deliver him a little lecture. But, in approaching, she became
affected by the look on his face, and, realizing somehow that she
was in the presence of one whose self-control was proof, she simply
"It's beginning; but don't be anxious--she's not suffering just
now. We shall send for the doctor soon. She's very plucky"; and
with an unaccustomed sensation of respect and pity she repeated:
"Don't be anxious, sir."
"If she wants to see me at any time, I shall be in my study. Save
her all you can, nurse."
The nurse was left with a feeling of surprise at having used the
word "Sir"; she had not done such a thing since--since--! And,
pensive, she returned to the nursery, where Gyp said at once:
"Was that my father? I didn't want him to know."
The nurse answered mechanically:
"That's all right, my dear."
"How long do you think before--before it'll begin again, nurse?
I'd like to see him."
The nurse stroked her hair.
"Soon enough when it's all over and comfy. Men are always fidgety."
Gyp looked at her, and said quietly:
"Yes. You see, my mother died when I was born."
The nurse, watching those lips, still pale with pain, felt a queer
pang. She smoothed the bed-clothes and said:
"That's nothing--it often happens--that is, I mean,--you know it
has no connection whatever."
And seeing Gyp smile, she thought: 'Well, I am a fool.'
"If by any chance I don't get through, I want to be cremated; I
want to go back as quick as I can. I can't bear the thought of the
other thing. Will you remember, nurse? I can't tell my father
that just now; it might upset him. But promise me."
And the nurse thought: 'That can't be done without a will or
something, but I'd better promise. It's a morbid fancy, and yet
she's not a morbid subject, either.' And she said:
"Very well, my dear; only, you're not going to do anything of the
sort. That's flat."
Gyp smiled again, and there was silence, till she said:
"I'm awfully ashamed, wanting all this attention, and making people
miserable. I've read that Japanese women quietly go out somewhere
by themselves and sit on a gate."
The nurse, still busy with the bedclothes, murmured abstractedly:
"Yes, that's a very good way. But don't you fancy you're half the
trouble most of them are. You're very good, and you're going to
get on splendidly." And she thought: 'Odd! She's never once
spoken of her husband. I don't like it for this sort--too perfect,
too sensitive; her face touches you so!'
Gyp murmured again:
"I'd like to see my father, please; and rather quick."
The nurse, after one swift look, went out.
Gyp, who had clinched her hands under the bedclothes, fixed her
eyes on the window. November! Acorns and the leaves--the nice,
damp, earthy smell! Acorns all over the grass. She used to drive
the old retriever in harness on the lawn covered with acorns and
the dead leaves, and the wind still blowing them off the trees--in
her brown velvet--that was a ducky dress! Who was it had called
her once "a wise little owl," in that dress? And, suddenly, her
heart sank. The pain was coming again. Winton's voice from the
"Well, my pet?"
"It was only to see how you are. I'm all right. What sort of a
day is it? You'll go riding, won't you? Give my love to the
horses. Good-bye, Dad; just for now."
Her forehead was wet to his lips.
Outside, in the passage, her smile, like something actual on the
air, preceded him--the smile that had just lasted out. But when he
was back in the study, he suffered--suffered! Why could he not
have that pain to bear instead?
The crunch of the brougham brought his ceaseless march over the
carpet to an end. He went out into the hall and looked into the
doctor's face--he had forgotten that this old fellow knew nothing
of his special reason for deadly fear. Then he turned back into
his study. The wild south wind brought wet drift-leaves whirling
against the panes. It was here that he had stood looking out into
the dark, when Fiorsen came down to ask for Gyp a year ago. Why
had he not bundled the fellow out neck and crop, and taken her
away?--India, Japan--anywhere would have done! She had not loved
that fiddler, never really loved him. Monstrous--monstrous! The
full bitterness of having missed right action swept over Winton,
and he positively groaned aloud. He moved from the window and went
over to the bookcase; there in one row were the few books he ever
read, and he took one out. "Life of General Lee." He put it back
and took another, a novel of Whyte Melville's: "Good for Nothing."
Sad book--sad ending! The book dropped from his hand and fell with
a flump on the floor. In a sort of icy discovery, he had seen his
life as it would be if for a second time he had to bear such loss.
She must not--could not die! If she did--then, for him--! In old
times they buried a man with his horse and his dog, as if at the
end of a good run. There was always that! The extremity of this
thought brought relief. He sat down, and, for a long time, stayed
staring into the fire in a sort of coma. Then his feverish fears
began again. Why the devil didn't they come and tell him
something, anything--rather than this silence, this deadly solitude
and waiting? What was that? The front door shutting. Wheels?
Had that hell-hound of an old doctor sneaked off? He started up.
There at the door was Markey, holding in his hand some cards.
Winton scanned them.
"Lady Summerhay; Mr. Bryan Summerhay. I said, 'Not at home,' sir."
"Nothing at present. You have had no lunch, sir."
"What time is it?"
"Bring in my fur coat and the port, and make the fire up. I want
any news there is."
Odd to sit in a fur coat before a fire, and the day not cold! They
said you lived on after death. He had never been able to feel that
SHE was living on. SHE lived in Gyp. And now if Gyp--! Death--
your own--no great matter! But--for her! The wind was dropping
with the darkness. He got up and drew the curtains.
It was seven o'clock when the doctor came down into the hall, and
stood rubbing his freshly washed hands before opening the study
door. Winton was still sitting before the fire, motionless, shrunk
into his fur coat. He raised himself a little and looked round
The doctor's face puckered, his eyelids drooped half-way across his
bulging eyes; it was his way of smiling. "Nicely," he said;
"nicely--a girl. No complications."
Winton's whole body seemed to swell, his lips opened, he raised his
hand. Then, the habit of a lifetime catching him by the throat, he
stayed motionless. At last he got up and said:
"Glass of port, doctor?"
The doctor spying at him above the glass thought: 'This is "the
fifty-two." Give me "the sixty-eight"--more body.'
After a time, Winton went upstairs. Waiting in the outer room he
had a return of his cold dread. "Perfectly successful--the patient
died from exhaustion!" The tiny squawking noise that fell on his
ears entirely failed to reassure him. He cared nothing for that
new being. Suddenly he found Betty just behind him, her bosom
"What is it, woman? Don't!"
She had leaned against his shoulder, appearing to have lost all
sense of right and wrong, and, out of her sobbing, gurgled:
"She looks so lovely--oh dear, she looks so lovely!"
Pushing her abruptly from him, Winton peered in through the just-
opened door. Gyp was lying extremely still, and very white; her
eyes, very large, very dark, were fastened on her baby. Her face
wore a kind of wonder. She did not see Winton, who stood stone-
quiet, watching, while the nurse moved about her business behind a
screen. This was the first time in his life that he had seen a
mother with her just-born baby. That look on her face--gone right
away somewhere, right away--amazed him. She had never seemed to
like children, had said she did not want a child. She turned her
head and saw him. He went in. She made a faint motion toward the
baby, and her eyes smiled. Winton looked at that swaddled speckled
mite; then, bending down, he kissed her hand and tiptoed away.
At dinner he drank champagne, and benevolence towards all the world
spread in his being. Watching the smoke of his cigar wreathe about
him, he thought: 'Must send that chap a wire.' After all, he was a
fellow being--might be suffering, as he himself had suffered only
two hours ago. To keep him in ignorance--it wouldn't do! And he
wrote out the form--
"All well, a daughter.--WINTON,"
and sent it out with the order that a groom should take it in that
Gyp was sleeping when he stole up at ten o'clock.
He, too, turned in, and slept like a child.
Returning the next afternoon from the first ride for several days,
Winton passed the station fly rolling away from the drive-gate with
the light-hearted disillusionment peculiar to quite empty vehicles.
The sight of a fur coat and broad-brimmed hat in the hall warned
him of what had happened.
"Mr. Fiorsen, sir; gone up to Mrs. Fiorsen."
Natural, but a d--d bore! And bad, perhaps, for Gyp. He asked:
"Did he bring things?"
"A bag, sir."
"Get a room ready, then."
To dine tete-a-tete with that fellow!
Gyp had passed the strangest morning in her life, so far. Her baby
fascinated her, also the tug of its lips, giving her the queerest
sensation, almost sensual; a sort of meltedness, an infinite
warmth, a desire to grip the little creature right into her--which,
of course, one must not do. And yet, neither her sense of humour
nor her sense of beauty were deceived. It was a queer little
affair with a tuft of black hair, in grace greatly inferior to a
kitten. Its tiny, pink, crisped fingers with their infinitesimal
nails, its microscopic curly toes, and solemn black eyes--when they
showed, its inimitable stillness when it slept, its incredible
vigour when it fed, were all, as it were, miraculous. Withal, she
had a feeling of gratitude to one that had not killed nor even hurt
her so very desperately--gratitude because she had succeeded,
performed her part of mother perfectly--the nurse had said so--she,
so distrustful of herself! Instinctively she knew, too, that this
was HER baby, not his, going "to take after her," as they called
it. How it succeeded in giving that impression she could not tell,
unless it were the passivity, and dark eyes of the little creature.
Then from one till three they had slept together with perfect
soundness and unanimity. She awoke to find the nurse standing by
the bed, looking as if she wanted to tell her something.
"Someone to see you, my dear."
And Gyp thought: 'He! I can't think quickly; I ought to think
quickly--I want to, but I can't.' Her face expressed this, for the
nurse said at once:
"I don't think you're quite up to it yet."
"Yes. Only, not for five minutes, please."
Her spirit had been very far away, she wanted time to get it back
before she saw him--time to know in some sort what she felt now;
what this mite lying beside her had done for her and him. The
thought that it was his, too--this tiny, helpless being--seemed
unreal. No, it was not his! He had not wanted it, and now that
she had been through the torture it was hers, not his--never his.
The memory of the night when she first yielded to the certainty
that the child was coming, and he had come home drunk, swooped on
her, and made her shrink and shudder and put her arm round her
baby. It had not made any difference. Only--Back came the old
accusing thought, from which these last days she had been free:
'But I married him--I chose to marry him. I can't get out of
that!' And she felt as if she must cry out to the nurse: "Keep him
away; I don't want to see him. Oh, please, I'm tired." She bit
the words back. And presently, with a very faint smile, said:
"Now, I'm ready."
She noticed first what clothes he had on--his newest suit, dark
grey, with little lighter lines--she had chosen it herself; that
his tie was in a bow, not a sailor's knot, and his hair brighter
than usual--as always just after being cut; and surely the hair was
growing down again in front of his ears. Then, gratefully, almost
with emotion, she realized that his lips were quivering, his whole
face quivering. He came in on tiptoe, stood looking at her a
minute, then crossed very swiftly to the bed, very swiftly knelt
down, and, taking her hand, turned it over and put his face to it.
The bristles of his moustache tickled her palm; his nose flattened
itself against her fingers, and his lips kept murmuring words into
the hand, with the moist warm touch of his lips. Gyp knew he was
burying there all his remorse, perhaps the excesses he had
committed while she had been away from him, burying the fears he
had felt, and the emotion at seeing her so white and still. She
felt that in a minute he would raise a quite different face. And
it flashed through her: "If I loved him I wouldn't mind what he
did--ever! Why don't I love him? There's something loveable. Why
He did raise his face; his eyes lighted on the baby, and he
"Look at this!" he said. "Is it possible? Oh, my Gyp, what a
funny one! Oh, oh, oh!" He went off into an ecstasy of smothered
laughter; then his face grew grave, and slowly puckered into a sort
of comic disgust. Gyp too had seen the humours of her baby, of its
queer little reddish pudge of a face, of its twenty-seven black
hairs, and the dribble at its almost invisible mouth; but she had
also seen it as a miracle; she had felt it, and there surged up
from her all the old revolt and more against his lack of
consideration. It was not a funny one--her baby! It was not ugly!
Or, if it were, she was not fit to be told of it. Her arm
tightened round the warm bundled thing against her. Fiorsen put
his finger out and touched its cheek.
"It IS real--so it is. Mademoiselle Fiorsen. Tk, tk!"
The baby stirred. And Gyp thought: 'If I loved I wouldn't even
mind his laughing at my baby. It would be different.'
"Don't wake her!" she whispered. She felt his eyes on her, knew
that his interest in the baby had ceased as suddenly as it came,
that he was thinking, "How long before I have you in my arms
again?" He touched her hair. And, suddenly, she had a fainting,
sinking sensation that she had never yet known. When she opened
her eyes again, the economic agent was holding something beneath
her nose and making sounds that seemed to be the words: "Well, I am
a d--d fool!" repeatedly expressed. Fiorsen was gone.
Seeing Gyp's eyes once more open, the nurse withdrew the ammonia,
replaced the baby, and saying: "Now go to sleep!" withdrew behind
the screen. Like all robust personalities, she visited on others
her vexations with herself. But Gyp did not go to sleep; she gazed
now at her sleeping baby, now at the pattern of the wall-paper,
trying mechanically to find the bird caught at intervals amongst
its brown-and-green foliage--one bird in each alternate square of
the pattern, so that there was always a bird in the centre of four
other birds. And the bird was of green and yellow with a red beak.
On being turned out of the nursery with the assurance that it was
"all right--only a little faint," Fiorsen went down-stairs
disconsolate. The atmosphere of this dark house where he was a
stranger, an unwelcome stranger, was insupportable. He wanted
nothing in it but Gyp, and Gyp had fainted at his touch. No wonder
he felt miserable. He opened a door. What room was this? A
piano! The drawing-room. Ugh! No fire--what misery! He recoiled
to the doorway and stood listening. Not a sound. Grey light in
the cheerless room; almost dark already in the hall behind him.
What a life these English lived--worse than the winter in his old
country home in Sweden, where, at all events, they kept good fires.
And, suddenly, all his being revolted. Stay here and face that
father--and that image of a servant! Stay here for a night of
this! Gyp was not his Gyp, lying there with that baby beside her,
in this hostile house. Smothering his footsteps, he made for the
outer hall. There were his coat and hat. He put them on. His
bag? He could not see it. No matter! They could send it after
him. He would write to her--say that her fainting had upset him--
that he could not risk making her faint again--could not stay in
the house so near her, yet so far. She would understand. And
there came over him a sudden wave of longing. Gyp! He wanted her.
To be with her! To look at her and kiss her, and feel her his own
again! And, opening the door, he passed out on to the drive and
strode away, miserable and sick at heart. All the way to the
station through the darkening lanes, and in the railway carriage
going up, he felt that aching wretchedness. Only in the lighted
street, driving back to Rosek's, did he shake it off a little. At
dinner and after, drinking that special brandy he nearly lost it;
but it came back when he went to bed, till sleep relieved him with
its darkness and dreams.
Gyp's recovery proceeded at first with a sure rapidity which
delighted Winton. As the economic agent pointed out, she was
beautifully made, and that had a lot to do with it!
Before Christmas Day, she was already out, and on Christmas morning
the old doctor, by way of present, pronounced her fit and ready to
go home when she liked. That afternoon, she was not so well, and
next day back again upstairs. Nothing seemed definitely wrong,
only a sort of desperate lassitude; as if the knowledge that to go
back was within her power, only needing her decision, had been too
much for her. And since no one knew her inward feelings, all were
puzzled except Winton. The nursing of her child was promptly
It was not till the middle of January that she said to him.
"I must go home, Dad."
The word "home" hurt him, and he only answered:
"Very well, Gyp; when?"
"The house is quite ready. I think I had better go to-morrow.
He's still at Rosek's. I won't let him know. Two or three days
there by myself first would be better for settling baby in."
"Very well; I'll take you up."
He made no effort to ascertain her feelings toward Fiorsen. He
knew too well.
They travelled next day, reaching London at half-past two. Betty
had gone up in the early morning to prepare the way. The dogs had
been with Aunt Rosamund all this time. Gyp missed their greeting;
but the installation of Betty and the baby in the spare room that
was now to be the nursery, absorbed all her first energies. Light
was just beginning to fail when, still in her fur, she took a key
of the music-room and crossed the garden, to see how all had fared
during her ten weeks' absence. What a wintry garden! How
different from that languorous, warm, moonlit night when Daphne
Wing had come dancing out of the shadow of the dark trees. How
bare and sharp the boughs against the grey, darkening sky--and not
a song of any bird, not a flower! She glanced back at the house.
Cold and white it looked, but there were lights in her room and in
the nursery, and someone just drawing the curtains. Now that the
leaves were off, one could see the other houses of the road, each
different in shape and colour, as is the habit of London houses.
It was cold, frosty; Gyp hurried down the path. Four little
icicles had formed beneath the window of the music-room. They
caught her eye, and, passing round to the side, she broke one off.
There must be a fire in there, for she could see the flicker
through the curtains not quite drawn. Thoughtful Ellen had been
airing it! But, suddenly, she stood still. There was more than a
fire in there! Through the chink in the drawn curtains she had
seen two figures seated on the divan. Something seemed to spin
round in her head. She turned to rush away. Then a kind of
superhuman coolness came to her, and she deliberately looked in.
He and Daphne Wing! His arm was round her neck. The girl's face
riveted her eyes. It was turned a little back and up, gazing at
him, the lips parted, the eyes hypnotized, adoring; and her arm
round him seemed to shiver--with cold, with ecstasy?
Again that something went spinning through Gyp's head. She raised
her hand. For a second it hovered close to the glass. Then, with
a sick feeling, she dropped it and turned away.
Never! Never would she show him or that girl that they could hurt
her! Never! They were safe from any scene she would make--safe in
their nest! And blindly, across the frosty grass, through the
unlighted drawing-room, she went upstairs to her room, locked the
door, and sat down before the fire. Pride raged within her. She
stuffed her handkerchief between her teeth and lips; she did it
unconsciously. Her eyes felt scorched from the fire-flames, but
she did not trouble to hold her hand before them.
Suddenly she thought: 'Suppose I HAD loved him?' and laughed. The
handkerchief dropped to her lap, and she looked at it with wonder--
it was blood-stained. She drew back in the chair, away from the
scorching of the fire, and sat quite still, a smile on her lips.
That girl's eyes, like a little adoring dog's--that girl, who had
fawned on her so! She had got her "distinguished man"! She sprang
up and looked at herself in the glass; shuddered, turned her back
on herself, and sat down again. In her own house! Why not here--
in this room? Why not before her eyes? Not yet a year married!
It was almost funny--almost funny! And she had her first calm
thought: 'I am free.'
But it did not seem to mean anything, had no value to a spirit so
bitterly stricken in its pride. She moved her chair closer to the
fire again. Why had she not tapped on the window? To have seen
that girl's face ashy with fright! To have seen him--caught--
caught in the room she had made beautiful for him, the room where
she had played for him so many hours, the room that was part of the
house that she paid for! How long had they used it for their
meetings--sneaking in by that door from the back lane? Perhaps
even before she went away--to bear his child! And there began in
her a struggle between mother instinct and her sense of outrage--a
spiritual tug-of-war so deep that it was dumb, unconscious--to
decide whether her baby would be all hers, or would have slipped
away from her heart, and be a thing almost abhorrent.
She huddled nearer the fire, feeling cold and physically sick. And
suddenly the thought came to her: 'If I don't let the servants know
I'm here, they might go out and see what I saw!' Had she shut the
drawing-room window when she returned so blindly? Perhaps already--!
In a fever, she rang the bell, and unlocked the door. The maid
"Please shut the drawing-room, window, Ellen; and tell Betty I'm
afraid I got a little chill travelling. I'm going to bed. Ask her
if she can manage with baby." And she looked straight into the
girl's face. It wore an expression of concern, even of
commiseration, but not that fluttered look which must have been
there if she had known.
"Yes, m'm; I'll get you a hot-water bottle, m'm. Would you like a
hot bath and a cup of hot tea at once?"
Gyp nodded. Anything--anything! And when the maid was gone, she
thought mechanically: 'A cup of hot tea! How quaint! What should
it be but hot?'
The maid came back with the tea; she was an affectionate girl, full
of that admiring love servants and dogs always felt for Gyp,
imbued, too, with the instinctive partisanship which stores itself
one way or the other in the hearts of those who live in houses
where the atmosphere lacks unity. To her mind, the mistress was
much too good for him--a foreigner--and such 'abits! Manners--he
hadn't any! And no good would come of it. Not if you took her
"And I've turned the water in, m'm. Will you have a little mustard
Again Gyp nodded. And the girl, going downstairs for the mustard,
told cook there was "that about the mistress that makes you quite
pathetic." The cook, who was fingering her concertina, for which
she had a passion, answered:
"She 'ides up her feelin's, same as they all does. Thank 'eaven
she haven't got that drawl, though, that 'er old aunt 'as--always
makes me feel to want to say, 'Buck up, old dear, you ain't 'alf so
precious as all that!'"
And when the maid Ellen had taken the mustard and gone, she drew
out her concertina to its full length and, with cautionary
softness, began to practise "Home, Sweet Home!"
To Gyp, lying in her hot bath, those muffled strains just mounted,
not quite as a tune, rather as some far-away humming of large
flies. The heat of the water, the pungent smell of the mustard,
and that droning hum slowly soothed and drowsed away the vehemence
of feeling. She looked at her body, silver-white in the yellowish
water, with a dreamy sensation. Some day she, too, would love!
Strange feeling she had never had before! Strange, indeed, that it
should come at such a moment, breaking through the old instinctive
shrinking. Yes; some day love would come to her. There floated
before her brain the adoring look on Daphne Wing's face, the shiver
that had passed along her arm, and pitifulness crept into her
heart--a half-bitter, half-admiring pitifulness. Why should she
grudge--she who did not love? The sounds, like the humming of
large flies, grew deeper, more vibrating. It was the cook, in her
passion swelling out her music on the phrase,
"Be it ne-e-ver so humble,
There's no-o place like home!"
That night, Gyp slept peacefully, as though nothing had happened,
as though there were no future at all before her. She woke into
misery. Her pride would never let her show the world what she had
discovered, would force her to keep an unmoved face and live an
unmoved life. But the struggle between mother-instinct and revolt
was still going on within her. She was really afraid to see her
baby, and she sent word to Betty that she thought it would be safer
if she kept quite quiet till the afternoon.
She got up at noon and stole downstairs. She had not realized how
violent was her struggle over HIS child till she was passing the
door of the room where it was lying. If she had not been ordered
to give up nursing, that struggle would never have come. Her heart
ached, but a demon pressed her on and past the door. Downstairs
she just pottered round, dusting her china, putting in order the
books which, after house-cleaning, the maid had arranged almost too
carefully, so that the first volumes of Dickens and Thackeray
followed each other on the top shell, and the second volumes
followed each other on the bottom shelf. And all the time she
thought dully: 'Why am I doing this? What do I care how the place
looks? It is not my home. It can never be my home!'
For lunch she drank some beef tea, keeping up the fiction of her
indisposition. After that, she sat down at her bureau to write.
Something must be decided! There she sat, her forehead on her
hand, and nothing came--not one word--not even the way to address
him; just the date, and that was all. At a ring of the bell she
started up. She could not see anybody! But the maid only brought
a note from Aunt Rosamund, and the dogs, who fell frantically on
their mistress and instantly began to fight for her possession.
She went on her knees to separate them, and enjoin peace and good-
will, and their little avid tongues furiously licked her cheeks.
Under the eager touch of those wet tongues the band round her brain
and heart gave way; she was overwhelmed with longing for her baby.
Nearly a day since she had seen her--was it possible? Nearly a day
without sight of those solemn eyes and crinkled toes and fingers!
And followed by the dogs, she went upstairs.
The house was invisible from the music-room; and, spurred on by
thought that, until Fiorsen knew she was back, those two might be
there in each other's arms any moment of the day or night, Gyp
wrote that evening:
"DEAR GUSTAV,--We are back.--GYP."
What else in the world could she say? He would not get it till he
woke about eleven. With the instinct to take all the respite she
could, and knowing no more than before how she would receive his
return, she went out in the forenoon and wandered about all day
shopping and trying not to think. Returning at tea-time, she went
straight up to her baby, and there heard from Betty that he had
come, and gone out with his violin to the music-room.
Bent over the child, Gyp needed all her self-control--but her self-
control was becoming great. Soon, the girl would come fluttering
down that dark, narrow lane; perhaps at this very minute her
fingers were tapping at the door, and he was opening it to murmur,
"No; she's back!" Ah, then the girl would shrink! The rapid
whispering--some other meeting-place! Lips to lips, and that look
on the girl's face; till she hurried away from the shut door, in
the darkness, disappointed! And he, on that silver-and-gold divan,
gnawing his moustache, his eyes--catlike---staring at the fire!
And then, perhaps, from his violin would come one of those swaying
bursts of sound, with tears in them, and the wind in them, that had
of old bewitched her! She said:
"Open the window just a little, Betty dear--it's hot."
There it was, rising, falling! Music! Why did it so move one even
when, as now, it was the voice of insult! And suddenly she
thought: "He will expect me to go out there again and play for him.
But I will not, never!"
She put her baby down, went into her bedroom, and changed hastily
into a teagown for the evening, ready to go downstairs. A little
shepherdess in china on the mantel-shelf attracted her attention,
and she took it in her hand. She had bought it three and more
years ago, when she first came to London, at the beginning of that
time of girl-gaiety when all life seemed a long cotillion, and she
its leader. Its cool daintiness made it seem the symbol of another
world, a world without depths or shadows, a world that did not
feel--a happy world!
She had not long to wait before he tapped on the drawing-room
window. She got up from the tea-table to let him in. Why do faces
gazing in through glass from darkness always look hungry--
searching, appealing for what you have and they have not? And
while she was undoing the latch she thought: 'What am I going to
say? I feel nothing!' The ardour of his gaze, voice, hands seemed
to her so false as to be almost comic; even more comically false
his look of disappointment when she said:
"Please take care; I'm still brittle!" Then she sat down again and
"Will you have some tea?"
"Tea! I have you back, and you ask me if I will have tea Gyp! Do
you know what I have felt like all this time? No; you don't know.
You know nothing of me--do you?"
A smile of sheer irony formed on her lips--without her knowing it
was there. She said:
"Have you had a good time at Count Rosek's?" And, without her
will, against her will, the words slipped out: "I'm afraid you've
missed the music-room!"
His stare wavered; he began to walk up and down.
"Missed! Missed everything! I have been very miserable, Gyp.
You've no idea how miserable. Yes, miserable, miserable,
miserable!" With each repetition of that word, his voice grew
gayer. And kneeling down in front of her, he stretched his long
arms round her till they met behind her waist: "Ah, my Gyp! I
shall be a different being, now."
And Gyp went on smiling. Between that, and stabbing these false
raptures to the heart, there seemed to be nothing she could do.
The moment his hands relaxed, she got up and said:
"You know there's a baby in the house?"
"Ah, the baby! I'd forgotten. Let's go up and see it."
She could feel him thinking: 'Perhaps it will make her nice to me!'
He turned suddenly and went.
She stood with her eyes shut, seeing the divan in the music-room
and the girl's arm shivering. Then, going to the piano, she began
with all her might to play a Chopin polonaise.
That evening they dined out, and went to "The Tales of Hoffmann."
By such devices it was possible to put off a little longer what she
was going to do. During the drive home in the dark cab, she shrank
away into her corner, pretending that his arm would hurt her dress;
her exasperated nerves were already overstrung. Twice she was on
the very point of crying out: "I am not Daphne Wing!" But each
time pride strangled the words in her throat. And yet they would
have to come. What other reason could she find to keep him from
But when in her mirror she saw him standing behind her--he had
crept into the bedroom like a cat--fierceness came into her. She
could see the blood rush up in her own white face, and, turning
round she said:
"No, Gustav, go out to the music-room if you want a companion."
He recoiled against the foot of the bed and stared at her
haggardly, and Gyp, turning back to her mirror, went on quietly
taking the pins out of her hair. For fully a minute she could see
him leaning there, moving his head and hands as though in pain.
Then, to her surprise, he went. And a vague feeling of compunction
mingled with her sense of deliverance. She lay awake a long time,
watching the fire-glow brighten and darken on the ceiling, tunes
from "The Tales of Hoffmann" running in her head; thoughts and
fancies crisscrossing in her excited brain. Falling asleep at
last, she dreamed she was feeding doves out of her hand, and one of
them was Daphne Wing. She woke with a start. The fire still
burned, and by its light she saw him crouching at the foot of the
bed, just as he had on their wedding-night--the same hungry
yearning in his face, and an arm outstretched. Before she could
speak, he began:
"Oh, Gyp, you don't understand! All that is nothing--it is only
you I want--always. I am a fool who cannot control himself.
Think! It's a long time since you went away from me."
Gyp said, in a hard voice:
"I didn't want to have a child."
He said quickly:
"No; but now you have it you are glad. Don't be unmerciful, my
Gyp! It is like you to be merciful. That girl--it is all over--I
His hand touched her foot through the soft eiderdown. Gyp thought:
'Why does he come and whine to me like this? He has no dignity--
none!' And she said:
"How can you promise? You have made the girl love you. I saw her
He drew his hand back.
"You saw her?"
He was silent, staring at her. Presently he began again:
"She is a little fool. I do not care for the whole of her as much
as I care for your one finger. What does it matter what one does
in that way if one does not care? The soul, not the body, is
faithful. A man satisfies appetite--it is nothing."
"Perhaps not; but it is something when it makes others miserable."
"Has it made you miserable, my Gyp?"
His voice had a ring of hope. She answered, startled:
"Her? Ho! It is an experience for her--it is life. It will do
her no harm."
"No; nothing will do anybody harm if it gives you pleasure."
At that bitter retort, he kept silence a long time, now and then
heaving a long sigh. His words kept sounding in her heart: "The
soul, not the body, is faithful." Was he, after all, more faithful
to her than she had ever been, could ever be--who did not love, had
never loved him? What right had she to talk, who had married him
out of vanity, out of--what?
And suddenly he said:
She uttered a sigh, and turned away her face.
He bent down against the eider-down. She could hear him drawing
long, sobbing breaths, and, in the midst of her lassitude and
hopelessness, a sort of pity stirred her. What did it matter? She
said, in a choked voice:
"Very well, I forgive."
The human creature has wonderful power of putting up with things.
Gyp never really believed that Daphne Wing was of the past. Her
sceptical instinct told her that what Fiorsen might honestly mean
to do was very different from what he would do under stress of
opportunity carefully put within his reach.
Since her return, Rosek had begun to come again, very careful not
to repeat his mistake, but not deceiving her at all. Though his
self-control was as great as Fiorsen's was small, she felt he had
not given up his pursuit of her, and would take very good care that
Daphne Wing was afforded every chance of being with her husband.
But pride never let her allude to the girl. Besides, what good to
speak of her? They would both lie--Rosek, because he obviously saw
the mistaken line of his first attack; Fiorsen, because his
temperament did not permit him to suffer by speaking the truth.
Having set herself to endure, she found she must live in the
moment, never think of the future, never think much of anything.
Fortunately, nothing so conduces to vacuity as a baby. She gave
herself up to it with desperation. It was a good baby, silent,
somewhat understanding. In watching its face, and feeling it warm
against her, Gyp succeeded daily in getting away into the hypnotic
state of mothers, and cows that chew the cud. But the baby slept a
great deal, and much of its time was claimed by Betty. Those
hours, and they were many, Gyp found difficult. She had lost
interest in dress and household elegance, keeping just enough to
satisfy her fastidiousness; money, too, was scarce, under the drain
of Fiorsen's irregular requirements. If she read, she began almost
at once to brood. She was cut off from the music-room, had not
crossed its threshold since her discovery. Aunt Rosamund's efforts
to take her into society were fruitless--all the effervescence was
out of that, and, though her father came, he never stayed long for
fear of meeting Fiorsen. In this condition of affairs, she turned
more and more to her own music, and one morning, after she had come
across some compositions of her girlhood, she made a resolution.
That afternoon she dressed herself with pleasure, for the first
time for months, and sallied forth into the February frost.
Monsieur Edouard Harmost inhabited the ground floor of a house in
the Marylebone Road. He received his pupils in a large back room
overlooking a little sooty garden. A Walloon by extraction, and of
great vitality, he grew old with difficulty, having a soft corner
in his heart for women, and a passion for novelty, even for new
music, that was unappeasable. Any fresh discovery would bring a
tear rolling down his mahogany cheeks into his clipped grey beard,
the while he played, singing wheezily to elucidate the wondrous
novelty; or moved his head up and down, as if pumping.
When Gyp was shown into this well-remembered room he was seated,
his yellow fingers buried in his stiff grey hair, grieving over a
pupil who had just gone out. He did not immediately rise, but
stared hard at Gyp.
"Ah," he said, at last, "my little old friend! She has come back!
Now that is good!" And, patting her hand he looked into her face,
which had a warmth and brilliance rare to her in these days. Then,
making for the mantelpiece, he took therefrom a bunch of Parma
violets, evidently brought by his last pupil, and thrust them under
her nose. "Take them, take them--they were meant for me. Now--how
much have you forgotten? Come!" And, seizing her by the elbow, he
almost forced her to the piano. "Take off your furs. Sit down!"
And while Gyp was taking off her coat, he fixed on her his
prominent brown eyes that rolled easily in their slightly blood-
shot whites, under squared eyelids and cliffs of brow. She had on
what Fiorsen called her "humming-bird" blouse--dark blue, shot with
peacock and old rose, and looked very warm and soft under her fur
cap. Monsieur Harmost's stare seemed to drink her in; yet that
stare was not unpleasant, having in it only the rather sad yearning
of old men who love beauty and know that their time for seeing it
is getting short.
"Play me the 'Carnival,'" he said. "We shall soon see!"
Gyp played. Twice he nodded; once he tapped his fingers on his
teeth, and showed her the whites of his eyes--which meant: "That
will have to be very different!" And once he grunted. When she
had finished, he sat down beside her, took her hand in his, and,
examining the fingers, began:
"Yes, yes, soon again! Spoiling yourself, playing for that
fiddler! Trop sympathique! The back-bone, the back-bone--we shall
improve that. Now, four hours a day for six weeks--and we shall
have something again."
Gyp said softly:
"I have a baby, Monsieur Harmost."
Monsieur Harmost bounded.
"What! That is a tragedy!" Gyp shook her head. "You like it? A
baby! Does it not squall?"
"Mon Dieu! Well, well, you are still as beautiful as ever. That
is something. Now, what can you do with this baby? Could you get
rid of it a little? This is serious. This is a talent in danger.
A fiddler, and a baby! C'est beaucoup! C'est trop!"
Gyp smiled. And Monsieur Harmost, whose exterior covered much
sensibility, stroked her hand.
"You have grown up, my little friend," he said gravely. "Never
mind; nothing is wasted. But a baby!" And he chirruped his lips.
"Well; courage! We shall do things yet!"
Gyp turned her head away to hide the quiver of her lips. The scent
of latakia tobacco that had soaked into things, and of old books
and music, a dark smell, like Monsieur Harmost's complexion; the
old brown curtains, the sooty little back garden beyond, with its
cat-runs, and its one stunted sumach tree; the dark-brown stare of
Monsieur Harmost's rolling eyes brought back that time of
happiness, when she used to come week after week, full of gaiety
and importance, and chatter away, basking in his brusque admiration
and in music, all with the glamourous feeling that she was making
him happy, and herself happy, and going to play very finely some
The voice of Monsieur Harmost, softly gruff, as if he knew what she
was feeling, increased her emotion; her breast heaved under the
humming-bird blouse, water came into her eyes, and more than ever
her lips quivered. He was saying:
"Come, come! The only thing we cannot cure is age. You were right
to come, my child. Music is your proper air. If things are not
all what they ought to be, you shall soon forget. In music--in
music, we can get away. After all, my little friend, they cannot
take our dreams from us--not even a wife, not even a husband can do
that. Come, we shall have good times yet!"
And Gyp, with a violent effort, threw off that sudden weakness.
From those who serve art devotedly there radiates a kind of
glamour. She left Monsieur Harmost that afternoon, infected by his
passion for music. Poetic justice--on which all homeopathy is
founded--was at work to try and cure her life by a dose of what had
spoiled it. To music, she now gave all the hours she could spare.
She went to him twice a week, determining to get on, but uneasy at
the expense, for monetary conditions were ever more embarrassed.
At home, she practised steadily and worked hard at composition.
She finished several songs and studies during the spring and
summer, and left still more unfinished. Monsieur Harmost was
tolerant of these efforts, seeming to know that harsh criticism or
disapproval would cut her impulse down, as frost cuts the life of
flowers. Besides, there was always something fresh and individual
in her things. He asked her one day:
"What does your husband think of these?"
Gyp was silent a moment.
"I don't show them to him."
She never had; she instinctively kept back the knowledge that she
composed, dreading his ruthlessness when anything grated on his
nerves, and knowing that a breath of mockery would wither her
belief in herself, frail enough plant already. The only person,
besides her master, to whom she confided her efforts was--strangely
enough--Rosek. But he had surprised her one day copying out some
music, and said at once: "I knew. I was certain you composed. Ah,
do play it to me! I am sure you have talent." The warmth with
which he praised that little "caprice" was surely genuine; and she
felt so grateful that she even played him others, and then a song
for him to sing. From that day, he no longer seemed to her odious;
she even began to have for him a certain friendliness, to be a
little sorry, watching him, pale, trim, and sphinx-like, in her
drawing-room or garden, getting no nearer to the fulfilment of his
desire. He had never again made love to her, but she knew that at
the least sign he would. His face and his invincible patience made
him pathetic to her. Women such as Gyp cannot actively dislike
those who admire them greatly. She consulted him about Fiorsen's
debts. There were hundreds of pounds owing, it seemed, and, in
addition, much to Rosek himself. The thought of these debts
weighed unbearably on her. Why did he, HOW did he get into debt
like this? What became of the money he earned? His fees, this
summer, were good enough. There was such a feeling of degradation
about debt. It was, somehow, so underbred to owe money to all
sorts of people. Was it on that girl, on other women, that he
spent it all? Or was it simply that his nature had holes in every
Watching Fiorsen closely, that spring and early summer, she was
conscious of a change, a sort of loosening, something in him had
given way--as when, in winding a watch, the key turns on and on,
the ratchet being broken. Yet he was certainly working hard--
perhaps harder than ever. She would hear him, across the garden,
going over and over a passage, as if he never would be satisfied.
But his playing seemed to her to have lost its fire and sweep; to
be stale, and as if disillusioned. It was all as though he had
said to himself: "What's the use?" In his face, too, there was a
change. She knew--she was certain that he was drinking secretly.
Was it his failure with her? Was it the girl? Was it simply
heredity from a hard-drinking ancestry?
Gyp never faced these questions. To face them would mean useless
discussion, useless admission that she could not love him, useless
asseveration from him about the girl, which she would not believe,
useless denials of all sorts. Hopeless!
He was very irritable, and seemed especially to resent her music
lessons, alluding to them with a sort of sneering impatience. She
felt that he despised them as amateurish, and secretly resented it.
He was often impatient, too, of the time she gave to the baby. His
own conduct with the little creature was like all the rest of him.
He would go to the nursery, much to Betty's alarm, and take up the
baby; be charming with it for about ten minutes, then suddenly dump
it back into its cradle, stare at it gloomily or utter a laugh, and
go out. Sometimes, he would come up when Gyp was there, and after
watching her a little in silence, almost drag her away.
Suffering always from the guilty consciousness of having no love
for him, and ever more and more from her sense that, instead of
saving him she was, as it were, pushing him down-hill--ironical
nemesis for vanity!--Gyp was ever more and more compliant to his
whims, trying to make up. But this compliance, when all the time
she felt further and further away, was straining her to breaking-
point. Hers was a nature that goes on passively enduring till
something snaps; after that--no more.
Those months of spring and summer were like a long spell of
drought, when moisture gathers far away, coming nearer, nearer,
till, at last, the deluge bursts and sweeps the garden.
The tenth of July that year was as the first day of summer. There
had been much fine weather, but always easterly or northerly; now,
after a broken, rainy fortnight, the sun had come in full summer
warmth with a gentle breeze, drifting here and there scent of the
opening lime blossom. In the garden, under the trees at the far
end, Betty sewed at a garment, and the baby in her perambulator had
her seventh morning sleep. Gyp stood before a bed of pansies and
sweet peas. How monkeyish the pansies' faces! The sweet peas,
too, were like tiny bright birds fastened to green perches swaying
with the wind. And their little green tridents, growing out from
the queer, flat stems, resembled the antennae of insects. Each of
these bright frail, growing things had life and individuality like
The sound of footsteps on the gravel made her turn. Rosek was
coming from the drawing-room window. Rather startled, Gyp looked
at him over her shoulder. What had brought him at eleven o'clock
in the morning? He came up to her, bowed, and said:
"I came to see Gustav. He's not up yet, it seems. I thought I
would speak to you first. Can we talk?"
Hesitating just a second, Gyp drew off her gardening-gloves:
"Of course! Here? Or in the drawing-room?"
"In the drawing-room, please."
A faint tremor passed through her, but she led the way, and seated
herself where she could see Betty and the baby. Rosek stood
looking down at her; his stillness, the sweetish gravity of his
well-cut lips, his spotless dandyism stirred in Gyp a kind of
"What is it?" she said.
"Bad business, I'm afraid. Something must be done at once. I have
been trying to arrange things, but they will not wait. They are
even threatening to sell up this house."
With a sense of outrage, Gyp cried:
"Nearly everything here is mine."
Rosek shook his head.
"The lease is in his name--you are his wife. They can do it, I
assure you." A sort of shadow passed over his face, and he added:
"I cannot help him any more--just now."
Gyp shook her head quickly.
"No--of course! You ought not to have helped him at all. I can't
bear--" He bowed, and she stopped, ashamed. "How much does he owe
"About thirteen hundred pounds. It isn't much, of course. But
there is something else--"
"I am afraid to tell you; you will think again perhaps that I am
trying to make capital out of it. I can read your thoughts, you
see. I cannot afford that you should think that, this time."
Gyp made a little movement as though putting away his words.
"No; tell me, please."
Rosek shrugged his shoulders.
"There is a man called Wagge, an undertaker--the father of someone
"Yes. A child is coming. They have made her tell. It means the
cancelling of her engagements, of course--and other things."
Gyp uttered a little laugh; then she said slowly:
"Can you tell me, please, what this Mr.--Wagge can do?"
Again Rosek shrugged his shoulders.
"He is rabid--a rabid man of his class is dangerous. A lot of
money will be wanted, I should think--some blood, perhaps."
He moved swiftly to her, and said very low:
"Gyp, it is a year since I told you of this. You did not believe
me then. I told you, too, that I loved you. I love you more, now,
a hundred times! Don't move! I am going up to Gustav."
He turned, and Gyp thought he was really going; but he stopped and
came back past the line of the window. The expression of his face
was quite changed, so hungry that, for a moment, she felt sorry for
him. And that must have shown in her face, for he suddenly caught
at her, and tried to kiss her lips; she wrenched back, and he could
only reach her throat, but that he kissed furiously. Letting her
go as suddenly, he bent his head and went out without a look.
Gyp stood wiping his kisses off her throat with the back of her
hand, dumbly, mechanically thinking: "What have I done to be
treated like this? What HAVE I done?" No answer came. And such
rage against men flared up that she just stood there, twisting her
garden-gloves in her hands, and biting the lips he would have
kissed. Then, going to her bureau, she took up her address book
and looked for the name: Wing, 88, Frankland Street, Fulham.
Unhooking her little bag from off the back of the chair, she put
her cheque-book into it. Then, taking care to make no sound, she
passed into the hall, caught up her sunshade, and went out, closing
the door without noise.
She walked quickly toward Baker Street. Her gardening-hat was
right enough, but she had come out without gloves, and must go into
the first shop and buy a pair. In the choosing of them, she forgot
her emotions for a minute. Out in the street again, they came back
as bitterly as ever. And the day was so beautiful--the sun bright,
the sky blue, the clouds dazzling white; from the top of her 'bus
she could see all its brilliance. There rose up before her the
memory of the man who had kissed her arm at the first ball. And
now--this! But, mixed with her rage, a sort of unwilling
compassion and fellow feeling kept rising for that girl, that
silly, sugar-plum girl, brought to such a pass by--her husband.
These feelings sustained her through that voyage to Fulham. She
got down at the nearest corner, walked up a widish street of narrow
grey houses till she came to number eighty-eight. On that newly
scrubbed step, waiting for the door to open, she very nearly turned
and fled. What exactly had she come to do?
The door was opened by a servant in an untidy frock. Mutton! The
smell of mutton--there it was, just as the girl had said!
"Is Miss--Miss Daphne Wing at home?"
In that peculiar "I've given it up" voice of domestics in small
households, the servant answered:
"Yes; Miss Disey's in. D'you want to see 'er? What nyme?"
Gyp produced her card. The maid looked at it, at Gyp, and at two
brown-painted doors, as much as to say, "Where will you have it?"
Then, opening the first of them, she said:
"Tyke a seat, please; I'll fetch her."
Gyp went in. In the middle of what was clearly the dining-room,
she tried to subdue the tremor of her limbs and a sense of nausea.
The table against which her hand rested was covered with red baize,
no doubt to keep the stains of mutton from penetrating to the wood.
On the mahogany sideboard reposed a cruet-stand and a green dish of
very red apples. A bamboo-framed talc screen painted with white
and yellow marguerites stood before a fireplace filled with pampas-
grass dyed red. The chairs were of red morocco, the curtains a
brownish-red, the walls green, and on them hung a set of Landseer
prints. The peculiar sensation which red and green in
juxtaposition produce on the sensitive was added to Gyp's distress.
And, suddenly, her eyes lighted on a little deep-blue china bowl.
It stood on a black stand on the mantel-piece, with nothing in it.
To Gyp, in this room of red and green, with the smell of mutton
creeping in, that bowl was like the crystallized whiff of another
world. Daphne Wing--not Daisy Wagge--had surely put it there!
And, somehow, it touched her--emblem of stifled beauty, emblem of
all that the girl had tried to pour out to her that August
afternoon in her garden nearly a year ago. Thin Eastern china,
good and really beautiful! A wonder they allowed it to pollute
A sigh made her turn round. With her back against the door and a
white, scared face, the girl was standing. Gyp thought: 'She has
suffered horribly.' And, going impulsively up to her, she held out
Daphne Wing sighed out: "Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen!" and, bending over that
hand, kissed it. Gyp saw that her new glove was wet. Then the
girl relapsed, her feet a little forward, her head a little
forward, her back against the door. Gyp, who knew why she stood
thus, was swept again by those two emotions--rage against men, and
fellow feeling for one about to go through what she herself had
"It's all right," she said, gently; "only, what's to be done?"
Daphne Wing put her hands up over her white face and sobbed. She
sobbed so quietly but so terribly deeply that Gyp herself had the
utmost difficulty not to cry. It was the sobbing of real despair
by a creature bereft of hope and strength, above all, of love--the
sort of weeping which is drawn from desolate, suffering souls only
by the touch of fellow feeling. And, instead of making Gyp glad or
satisfying her sense of justice, it filled her with more rage
against her husband--that he had taken this girl's infatuation for
his pleasure and then thrown her away. She seemed to see him
discarding that clinging, dove-fair girl, for cloying his senses
and getting on his nerves, discarding her with caustic words, to
abide alone the consequences of her infatuation. She put her hand
timidly on that shaking shoulder, and stroked it. For a moment the
sobbing stopped, and the girl said brokenly:
"Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, I do love him so!" At those naive words, a
painful wish to laugh seized on Gyp, making her shiver from head to
foot. Daphne Wing saw it, and went on: "I know--I know--it's
awful; but I do--and now he--he--" Her quiet but really dreadful
sobbing broke out again. And again Gyp began stroking and stroking
her shoulder. "And I have been so awful to you! Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen,
do forgive me, please!"
All Gyp could find to answer, was:
"Yes, yes; that's nothing! Don't cry--don't cry!"
Very slowly the sobbing died away, till it was just a long
shivering, but still the girl held her hands over her face and her
face down. Gyp felt paralyzed. The unhappy girl, the red and
green room, the smell of mutton--creeping!
At last, a little of that white face showed; the lips, no longer
craving for sugar-plums, murmured:
"It's you he--he--really loves all the time. And you don't love
him--that's what's so funny--and--and--I can't understand it. Oh,
Mrs. Fiorsen, if I could see him--just see him! He told me never
to come again; and I haven't dared. I haven't seen him for three
weeks--not since I told him about IT. What shall I do? What shall
His being her own husband seemed as nothing to Gyp at that moment.
She felt such pity and yet such violent revolt that any girl should
want to crawl back to a man who had spurned her. Unconsciously,
she had drawn herself up and pressed her lips together. The girl,
who followed every movement, said piteously:
"I don't seem to have any pride. I don't mind what he does to me,
or what he says, if only I can see him."
Gyp's revolt yielded to her pity. She said:
"How long before?"
Three months--and in this state of misery!
"I think I shall do something desperate. Now that I can't dance,
and THEY know, it's too awful! If I could see him, I wouldn't mind
anything. But I know--I know he'll never want me again. Oh, Mrs.
Fiorsen, I wish I was dead! I do!"
A heavy sigh escaped Gyp, and, bending suddenly, she kissed the
girl's forehead. Still that scent of orange blossom about her skin
or hair, as when she asked whether she ought to love or not; as
when she came, moth-like, from the tree-shade into the moonlight,
spun, and fluttered, with her shadow spinning and fluttering before
her. Gyp turned away, feeling that she must relieve the strain.
and pointing to the bowl, said:
"YOU put that there, I'm sure. It's beautiful."
The girl answered, with piteous eagerness:
"Oh, would you like it? Do take it. Count Rosek gave it me." She
started away from the door. "Oh, that's papa. He'll be coming in!"
Gyp heard a man clear his throat, and the rattle of an umbrella
falling into a stand; the sight of the girl wilting and shrinking
against the sideboard steadied her. Then the door opened, and Mr.
Wagge entered. Short and thick, in black frock coat and trousers,
and a greyish beard, he stared from one to the other. He looked
what he was, an Englishman and a chapelgoer, nourished on sherry
and mutton, who could and did make his own way in the world. His
features, coloured, as from a deep liverishness, were thick, like
his body, and not ill-natured, except for a sort of anger in his
small, rather piggy grey eyes. He said in a voice permanently
gruff, but impregnated with a species of professional ingratiation:
"Ye-es? Whom 'ave I--?"
"Ow!" The sound of his breathing could be heard distinctly; he
twisted a chair round and said:
"Take a seat, won't you?"
Gyp shook her head.
In Mr. Wagge's face a kind of deference seemed to struggle with
some more primitive emotion. Taking out a large, black-edged
handkerchief, he blew his nose, passed it freely over his visage,
and turning to his daughter, muttered:
The girl turned quickly, and the last glimpse of her white face
whipped up Gyp's rage against men. When the door was shut, Mr.
Wagge cleared his throat; the grating sound carried with it the
suggestion of enormously thick linings.
He said more gruffly than ever:
"May I ask what 'as given us the honour?"
"I came to see your daughter."
His little piggy eyes travelled from her face to her feet, to the
walls of the room, to his own watch-chain, to his hands that had
begun to rub themselves together, back to her breast, higher than
which they dared not mount. Their infinite embarrassment struck
Gyp. She could almost hear him thinking: 'Now, how can I discuss
it with this attractive young female, wife of the scoundrel who's
ruined my daughter? Delicate-that's what it is!' Then the words
burst hoarsely from him.
"This is an unpleasant business, ma'am. I don't know what to say.
Reelly I don't. It's awkward; it's very awkward."
Gyp said quietly:
"Your daughter is desperately unhappy; and that can't be good for
her just now."
Mr. Wagge's thick figure seemed to writhe. "Pardon me, ma'am," he
spluttered, "but I must call your husband a scoundrel. I'm sorry
to be impolite, but I must do it. If I had 'im 'ere, I don't know
that I should be able to control myself--I don't indeed." Gyp made
a movement of her gloved hands, which he seemed to interpret as
sympathy, for he went on in a stream of husky utterance: "It's a
delicate thing before a lady, and she the injured party; but one
has feelings. From the first I said this dancin' was in the face
of Providence; but women have no more sense than an egg. Her
mother she would have it; and now she's got it! Career, indeed!
Pretty career! Daughter of mine! I tell you, ma'am, I'm angry;
there's no other word for it--I'm angry. If that scoundrel comes
within reach of me, I shall mark 'im--I'm not a young man, but I
shall mark 'im. An' what to say to you, I'm sure I don't know.
That my daughter should be'ave like that! Well, it's made a
difference to me. An' now I suppose her name'll be dragged in the
mud. I tell you frankly I 'oped you wouldn't hear of it, because
after all the girl's got her punishment. And this divorce-court--
it's not nice--it's a horrible thing for respectable people. And,
mind you, I won't see my girl married to that scoundrel, not if you
do divorce 'im. No; she'll have her disgrace for nothing."
Gyp, who had listened with her head a little bent, raised it
suddenly, and said:
"There'll be no public disgrace, Mr. Wagge, unless you make it
yourself. If you send Daphne--Daisy--quietly away somewhere till
her trouble's over, no one need know anything."
Mr. Wagge, whose mouth had opened slightly, and whose breathing
could certainly have been heard in the street, took a step forward
"Do I understand you to say that you're not goin' to take
Gyp shuddered, and shook her head.
Mr. Wagge stood silent, slightly moving his face up and down.
"Well," he said, at length, "it's more than she deserves; but I
don't disguise it's a relief to me. And I must say, in a young
lady like you, and--and handsome, it shows a Christian spirit."
Again Gyp shivered, and shook her head. "It does. You'll allow me
to say so, as a man old enough to be your father--and a regular
He held out his hand. Gyp put her gloved hand into it.
"I'm very, very sorry. Please be nice to her."
Mr. Wagge recoiled a little, and for some seconds stood ruefully
rubbing his hands together and looking from side to side.
"I'm a domestic man," he said suddenly. "A domestic man in a
serious line of life; and I never thought to have anything like
this in my family--never! It's been--well, I can't tell you what
Gyp took up her sunshade. She felt that she must get away; at any
moment he might say something she could not bear--and the smell of
mutton rising fast!
"I am sorry," she said again; "good-bye"; and moved past him to the
door. She heard him breathing hard as he followed her to open it,
and thought: 'If only--oh! please let him be silent till I get
outside!' Mr. Wagge passed her and put his hand on the latch of
the front door. His little piggy eyes scanned her almost timidly.
"Well," he said, "I'm very glad to have the privilege of your
acquaintance; and, if I may say so, you 'ave--you 'ave my 'earty
The door once shut behind her, Gyp took a long breath and walked
swiftly away. Her cheeks were burning; and, with a craving for
protection, she put up her sunshade. But the girl's white face
came up again before her, and the sound of her words:
"Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, I wish I was dead! I DO!"
Gyp walked on beneath her sunshade, making unconsciously for the
peace of trees. Her mind was a whirl of impressions--Daphne Wing's
figure against the door, Mr. Wagge's puggy grey-bearded
countenance, the red pampas-grass, the blue bowl, Rosek's face
swooping at her, her last glimpse of her baby asleep under the
She reached Kensington Gardens, turned into that walk renowned for
the beauty of its flowers and the plainness of the people who
frequent it, and sat down on a bench. It was near the luncheon-
hour; nursemaids, dogs, perambulators, old gentlemen--all were
hurrying a little toward their food. They glanced with critical
surprise at this pretty young woman, leisured and lonely at such an
hour, trying to find out what was wrong with her, as one naturally
does with beauty--bow legs or something, for sure, to balance a
face like that! But Gyp noticed none of them, except now and again
a dog which sniffed her knees in passing. For months she had
resolutely cultivated insensibility, resolutely refused to face
reality; the barrier was forced now, and the flood had swept her
away. "Proceedings!" Mr. Wagge had said. To those who shrink from
letting their secret affairs be known even by their nearest
friends, the notion of a public exhibition of troubles simply never
comes, and it had certainly never come to Gyp. With a bitter smile
she thought: 'I'm better off than she is, after all! Suppose I
loved him, too? No, I never--never--want to love. Women who love