Part 7 out of 7
In his laziest voice, he answered:
"I suppose you mean--does she hunt me?"
She knew that tone, that expression on his face, knew he was angry;
but could not stop herself.
"So you're going to become jealous, Gyp?"
It was one of those cold, naked sayings that should never be spoken
between lovers--one of those sayings at which the heart of the one
who speaks sinks with a kind of dismay, and the heart of the one
who hears quivers. She cantered on. And he, perforce, after her.
When she reined in again, he glanced into her face and was afraid.
It was all closed up against him. And he said softly:
"I didn't mean that, Gyp."
But she only shook her head. He HAD meant it--had wanted to hurt
her! It didn't matter--she wouldn't give him the chance again.
And she said:
"Look at that long white cloud, and the apple-green in the sky--
rain to-morrow. One ought to enjoy any fine day as if it were the
Uneasy, ashamed, yet still a little angry, Summerhay rode on beside
That night, she cried in her sleep; and, when he awakened her,
clung to him and sobbed out:
"Oh! such a dreadful dream! I thought you'd left off loving me!"
For a long time he held and soothed her. Never, never! He would
never leave off loving her!
But a cloud no broader than your hand can spread and cover the
The summer passed, and always there was that little patch of
silence in her heart, and in his. The tall, bright days grew
taller, slowly passed their zenith, slowly shortened. On Saturdays
and Sundays, sometimes with Winton and little Gyp, but more often
alone, they went on the river. For Gyp, it had never lost the
magic of their first afternoon upon it--never lost its glamour as
of an enchanted world. All the week she looked forward to these
hours of isolation with him, as if the surrounding water secured
her not only against a world that would take him from her, if it
could, but against that side of his nature, which, so long ago she
had named "old Georgian." She had once adventured to the law
courts by herself, to see him in his wig and gown. Under that
stiff grey crescent on his broad forehead, he seemed so hard and
clever--so of a world to which she never could belong, so of a
piece with the brilliant bullying of the whole proceeding. She had
come away feeling that she only possessed and knew one side of him.
On the river, she had that side utterly--her lovable, lazy,
impudently loving boy, lying with his head in her lap, plunging in
for a swim, splashing round her; or with his sleeves rolled up, his
neck bare, and a smile on his face, plying his slow sculls down-
stream, singing, "Away, my rolling river," or puffing home like a
demon in want of his dinner. It was such a blessing to lose for a
few hours each week this growing consciousness that she could never
have the whole of him. But all the time the patch of silence grew,
for doubt in the heart of one lover reacts on the heart of the
When the long vacation came, she made an heroic resolve. He must
go to Scotland, must have a month away from her, a good long rest.
And while Betty was at the sea with little Gyp, she would take her
father to his cure. She held so inflexibly to this resolve, that,
after many protests, he said with a shrug:
"Very well, I will then--if you're so keen to get rid of me."
"Keen to get rid!" When she could not bear to be away from him!
But she forced her feeling back, and said, smiling:
"At last! There's a good boy!" Anything! If only it would bring
him back to her exactly as he had been. She asked no questions as
to where, or to whom, he would go.
Tunbridge Wells, that charming purgatory where the retired prepare
their souls for a more permanent retirement, was dreaming on its
hills in long rows of adequate villas. Its commons and woods had
remained unscorched, so that the retired had not to any extent
deserted it, that August, for the sea. They still shopped in the
Pantiles, strolled the uplands, or flourished their golf-clubs in
the grassy parks; they still drank tea in each other's houses and
frequented the many churches. One could see their faces, as it
were, goldened by their coming glory, like the chins of children by
reflection from buttercups. From every kind of life they had
retired, and, waiting now for a more perfect day, were doing their
utmost to postpone it. They lived very long.
Gyp and her father had rooms in a hotel where he could bathe and
drink the waters without having to climb three hills. This was the
first cure she had attended since the long-past time at Wiesbaden.
Was it possible that was only six years ago? She felt so utterly,
so strangely different! Then life had been sparkling sips of every
drink, and of none too much; now it was one long still draft, to
quench a thirst that would not be quenched.
During these weeks she held herself absolutely at her father's
disposal, but she lived for the post, and if, by any chance, she
did not get her daily letter, her heart sank to the depths. She
wrote every day, sometimes twice, then tore up that second letter,
remembering for what reason she had set herself to undergo this
separation. During the first week, his letters had a certain
equanimity; in the second week they became ardent; in the third,
they were fitful--now beginning to look forward, now moody and
dejected; and they were shorter. During this third week Aunt
Rosamund joined them. The good lady had become a staunch supporter
of Gyp's new existence, which, in her view, served Fiorsen right.
Why should the poor child's life be loveless? She had a definitely
low opinion of men, and a lower of the state of the marriage-laws;
in her view, any woman who struck a blow in that direction was
something of a heroine. And she was oblivious of the fact that Gyp
was quite guiltless of the desire to strike a blow against the
marriage-laws, or anything else. Aunt Rosamund's aristocratic and
rebellious blood boiled with hatred of what she called the "stuffy
people" who still held that women were men's property. It had made
her specially careful never to put herself in that position.
She had brought Gyp a piece of news.
"I was walking down Bond Street past that tea-and-tart shop, my
dear--you know, where they have those special coffee-creams, and
who should come out of it but Miss Daphne Wing and our friend
Fiorsen; and pretty hangdog he looked. He came up to me, with his
little lady watching him like a lynx. Really, my dear, I was
rather sorry for him; he'd got that hungry look of his; she'd been
doing all the eating, I'm sure. He asked me how you were. I told
him, 'Very well.'
"'When you see her,' he said, 'tell her I haven't forgotten her,
and never shall. But she was quite right; this is the sort of lady
that I'm fit for.' And the way he looked at that girl made me feel
quite uncomfortable. Then he gave me one of his little bows; and
off they went, she as pleased as Punch. I really was sorry for
Gyp said quietly:
"Ah! you needn't have been, Auntie; he'll always be able to be
sorry for himself."
A little shocked at her niece's cynicism, Aunt Rosamund was silent.
The poor lady had not lived with Fiorsen!
That same afternoon, Gyp was sitting in a shelter on the common, a
book on her knee--thinking her one long thought: 'To-day is
Thursday--Monday week! Eleven days--still!'--when three figures
came slowly toward her, a man, a woman, and what should have been a
dog. English love of beauty and the rights of man had forced its
nose back, deprived it of half its ears, and all but three inches
or so of tail. It had asthma--and waddled in disillusionment. A
"This'll do, Maria. We can take the sun 'ere."
But for that voice, with the permanent cold hoarseness caught
beside innumerable graves, Gyp might not have recognized Mr. Wagge,
for he had taken off his beard, leaving nothing but side-whiskers,
and Mrs. Wagge had filled out wonderfully. They were some time
settling down beside her.
"You sit here, Maria; you won't get the sun in your eyes."
"No, Robert; I'll sit here. You sit there."
"No, YOU sit there."
"No, I will. Come, Duckie!"
But the dog, standing stockily on the pathway was gazing at Gyp,
while what was left of its broad nose moved from side to side. Mr.
Wagge followed the direction of its glance.
"Oh!" he said, "oh, this is a surprise!" And fumbling at his straw
hat, he passed his other hand over his sleeve and held it out to
Gyp. It felt almost dry, and fatter than it had been. While she
was shaking it, the dog moved forward and sat down on her feet.
Mrs. Wagge also extended her hand, clad in a shiny glove.
"This is a--a--pleasure," she murmured. "Who WOULD have thought of
meeting you! Oh, don't let Duckie sit against your pretty frock!
But Duckie did not move, resting his back against Gyp's shin-bones.
Mr. Wagge, whose tongue had been passing over a mouth which she saw
to its full advantage for the first time, said abruptly:
"You 'aven't come to live here, 'ave you?"
"Oh no! I'm only with my father for the baths."
"Ah, I thought not, never havin' seen you. We've been retired here
ourselves a matter of twelve months. A pretty spot."
"Yes; lovely, isn't it?"
"We wanted nature. The air suits us, though a bit--er--too irony,
as you might say. But it's a long-lived place. We were quite a
time lookin' round."
Mrs. Wagge added in her thin voice:
"Yes--we'd thought of Wimbledon, you see, but Mr. Wagge liked this
better; he can get his walk, here; and it's more--select, perhaps.
We have several friends. The church is very nice."
Mr. Wagge's face assumed an uncertain expression. He said bluffly:
"I was always a chapel man; but--I don't know how it is--there's
something in a place like this that makes church seem more--more
suitable; my wife always had a leaning that way. I never conceal
"It's a question of atmosphere, isn't it?"
Mr. Wagge shook his head.
"No; I don't hold with incense--we're not 'Igh Church. But how are
YOU, ma'am? We often speak of you. You're looking well."
His face had become a dusky orange, and Mrs. Wagge's the colour of
a doubtful beetroot. The dog on Gyp's feet stirred, snuffled,
turned round, and fell heavily against her legs again. She said
"I was hearing of Daisy only to-day. She's quite a star now, isn't
Mrs. Wagge sighed. Mr. Wagge looked away and answered:
"It's a sore subject. There she is, making her forty and fifty
pound a week, and run after in all the papers. She's a success--no
doubt about it. And she works. Saving a matter of fifteen 'undred
a year, I shouldn't be surprised. Why, at my best, the years the
influenza was so bad, I never cleared a thousand net. No, she's a
Mrs. Wagge added:
"Have you seen her last photograph--the one where she's standing
between two hydrangea-tubs? It was her own idea."
Mr. Wagge mumbled suddenly:
"I'm always glad to see her when she takes a run down in a car.
But I've come here for quiet after the life I've led, and I don't
want to think about it, especially before you, ma'am. I don't--
that's a fact."
A silence followed, during which Mr. and Mrs. Wagge looked at their
feet, and Gyp looked at the dog.
"Ah!--here you are!" It was Winton, who had come up from behind
the shelter, and stood, with eyebrows slightly raised. Gyp could
not help a smile. Her father's weathered, narrow face, half-veiled
eyes, thin nose, little crisp, grey moustache that did not hide his
firm lips, his lean, erect figure, the very way he stood, his thin,
dry, clipped voice were the absolute antithesis of Mr. Wagge's
thickset, stoutly planted form, thick-skinned, thick-featured face,
thick, rather hoarse yet oily voice. It was as if Providence had
arranged a demonstration of the extremes of social type. And she
"Mr. and Mrs. Wagge--my father."
Winton raised his hat. Gyp remained seated, the dog Duckie being
still on her feet.
"'Appy to meet you, sir. I hope you have benefit from the waters.
They're supposed to be most powerful, I believe."
"Thank you--not more deadly than most. Are you drinking them?"
Mr. Wagge smiled.
"Nao!" he said, "we live here."
"Indeed! Do you find anything to do?"
"Well, as a fact, I've come here for rest. But I take a Turkish
bath once a fortnight--find it refreshing; keeps the pores of the
Mrs. Wagge added gently:
"It seems to suit my husband wonderfully."
"Yes. Is this your dog? Bit of a philosopher, isn't he?"
Mrs. Wagge answered:
"Oh, he's a naughty dog, aren't you, Duckie?"
The dog Duckie, feeling himself the cynosure of every eye, rose and
stood panting into Gyp's face. She took the occasion to get up.
"We must go, I'm afraid. Good-bye. It's been very nice to meet
you again. When you see Daisy, will you please give her my love?"
Mrs. Wagge unexpectedly took a handkerchief from her reticule. Mr.
Wagge cleared his throat heavily. Gyp was conscious of the dog
Duckie waddling after them, and of Mrs. Wagge calling, "Duckie,
Duckie!" from behind her handkerchief.
Winton said softly:
"So those two got that pretty filly! Well, she didn't show much
quality, when you come to think of it. She's still with our
friend, according to your aunt."
"Yes; and I do hope she's happy."
"HE isn't, apparently. Serves him right."
Gyp shook her head.
"Oh no, Dad!"
"Well, one oughtn't to wish any man worse than he's likely to get.
But when I see people daring to look down their noses at you--by
Jove! I get--"
"Darling, what does that matter?"
Winton answered testily:
"It matters very much to me--the impudence of it!" His mouth
relaxed in a grim little smile: "Ah, well--there's not much to
choose between us so far as condemning our neighbours goes.
'Charity Stakes--also ran, Charles Clare Winton, the Church, and
They opened out to each other more in those few days at Tunbridge
Wells than they had for years. Whether the process of bathing
softened his crust, or the air that Mr. Wagge found "a bit--er--too
irony, as you might say," had upon Winton the opposite effect, he
certainly relaxed that first duty of man, the concealment of his
spirit, and disclosed his activities as he never had before--how
such and such a person had been set on his feet, so and so sent out
to Canada, this man's wife helped over her confinement, that man's
daughter started again after a slip. And Gyp's child-worship of
him bloomed anew.
On the last afternoon of their stay, she strolled out with him
through one of the long woods that stretched away behind their
hotel. Excited by the coming end of her self-inflicted penance,
moved by the beauty among those sunlit trees, she found it
difficult to talk. But Winton, about to lose her, was quite
loquacious. Starting from the sinister change in the racing-world--
so plutocratic now, with the American seat, the increase of
bookmaking owners, and other tragic occurrences--he launched forth
into a jeremiad on the condition of things in general. Parliament,
he thought, especially now that members were paid, had lost its
self-respect; the towns had eaten up the country; hunting was
threatened; the power and vulgarity of the press were appalling;
women had lost their heads; and everybody seemed afraid of having
any "breeding." By the time little Gyp was Gyp's age, they would
all be under the thumb of Watch Committees, live in Garden Cities,
and have to account for every half-crown they spent, and every
half-hour of their time; the horse, too, would be an extinct
animal, brought out once a year at the lord-mayor's show. He
hoped--the deuce--he might not be alive to see it. And suddenly he
added: "What do you think happens after death, Gyp?"
They were sitting on one of those benches that crop up suddenly in
the heart of nature. All around them briars and bracken were just
on the turn; and the hum of flies, the vague stir of leaves and
life formed but a single sound. Gyp, gazing into the wood,
"Nothing, Dad. I think we just go back."
"Ah--My idea, too!"
Neither of them had ever known what the other thought about it
"La vie est vaine--
Un peu d'amour,
Un peu de haine,
Et puis bonjour!"
Not quite a grunt or quite a laugh emerged from the depths of
Winton, and, looking up at the sky, he said:
"And what they call 'God,' after all, what is it? Just the very
best you can get out of yourself--nothing more, so far as I can
see. Dash it, you can't imagine anything more than you can
imagine. One would like to die in the open, though, like Whyte-
Melville. But there's one thing that's always puzzled me, Gyp.
All one's life one's tried to have a single heart. Death comes,
and out you go! Then why did one love, if there's to be no meeting
"Yes; except for that, who would care? But does the wanting to
meet make it any more likely, Dad? The world couldn't go on
without love; perhaps loving somebody or something with all your
heart is all in itself."
Winton stared; the remark was a little deep.
"Ye-es," he said at last. "I often think the religious johnnies
are saving their money to put on a horse that'll never run after
all. I remember those Yogi chaps in India. There they sat, and
this jolly world might rot round them for all they cared--they
thought they were going to be all right themselves, in Kingdom
Come. But suppose it doesn't come?"
Gyp murmured with a little smile:
"Perhaps they were trying to love everything at once."
"Rum way of showing it. And, hang it, there are such a lot of
things one can't love! Look at that!" He pointed upwards.
Against the grey bole of a beech-tree hung a board, on which were
the freshly painted words:
TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED
"That board is stuck up all over this life and the next. Well, WE
won't give them the chance to warn us off, Gyp."
Slipping her hand through his arm, she pressed close up to him.
"No, Dad; you and I will go off with the wind and the sun, and the
trees and the waters, like Procris in my picture."
The curious and complicated nature of man in matters of the heart
is not sufficiently conceded by women, professors, clergymen,
judges, and other critics of his conduct. And naturally so, since
they all have vested interests in his simplicity. Even journalists
are in the conspiracy to make him out less wayward than he is, and
dip their pens in epithets, if his heart diverges inch or ell.
Bryan Summerhay was neither more curious nor more complicated than
those of his own sex who would condemn him for getting into the
midnight express from Edinburgh with two distinct emotions in his
heart--a regretful aching for the girl, his cousin, whom he was
leaving behind, and a rapturous anticipation of the woman whom he
was going to rejoin. How was it possible that he could feel both
at once? "Against all the rules," women and other moralists would
say. Well, the fact is, a man's heart knows no rules. And he
found it perfectly easy, lying in his bunk, to dwell on memories of
Diana handing him tea, or glancing up at him, while he turned the
leaves of her songs, with that enticing mockery in her eyes and
about her lips; and yet the next moment to be swept from head to
heel by the longing to feel Gyp's arms around him, to hear her
voice, look in her eyes, and press his lips on hers. If, instead
of being on his way to rejoin a mistress, he had been going home to
a wife, he would not have felt a particle more of spiritual
satisfaction, perhaps not so much. He was returning to the
feelings and companionship that he knew were the most deeply
satisfying spiritually and bodily he would ever have. And yet he
could ache a little for that red-haired girl, and this without any
difficulty. How disconcerting! But, then, truth is.
From that queer seesawing of his feelings, he fell asleep, dreamed
of all things under the sun as men only can in a train, was
awakened by the hollow silence in some station, slept again for
hours, it seemed, and woke still at the same station, fell into a
sound sleep at last that ended at Willesden in broad daylight.
Dressing hurriedly, he found he had but one emotion now, one
longing--to get to Gyp. Sitting back in his cab, hands deep-thrust
into the pockets of his ulster, he smiled, enjoying even the smell
of the misty London morning. Where would she be--in the hall of
the hotel waiting, or upstairs still?
Not in the hall! And asking for her room, he made his way to its
She was standing in the far corner motionless, deadly pale,
quivering from head to foot; and when he flung his arms round her,
she gave a long sigh, closing her eyes. With his lips on hers, he
could feel her almost fainting; and he too had no consciousness of
anything but that long kiss.
Next day, they went abroad to a little place not far from Fecamp,
in that Normandy countryside where all things are large--the
people, the beasts, the unhedged fields, the courtyards of the
farms guarded so squarely by tall trees, the skies, the sea, even
the blackberries large. And Gyp was happy. But twice there came
letters, in that too-well-remembered handwriting, which bore a
Scottish postmark. A phantom increases in darkness, solidifies
when seen in mist. Jealousy is rooted not in reason, but in the
nature that feels it--in her nature that loved desperately, felt
proudly. And jealousy flourishes on scepticism. Even if pride
would have let her ask, what good? She would not have believed the
answers. Of course he would say--if only out of pity--that he
never let his thoughts rest on another woman. But, after all, it
was only a phantom. There were many hours in those three weeks
when she felt he really loved her, and so--was happy.
They went back to the Red House at the end of the first week in
October. Little Gyp, home from the sea, was now an almost
accomplished horsewoman. Under the tutelage of old Pettance, she
had been riding steadily round and round those rough fields by the
linhay which they called "the wild," her firm brown legs astride of
the mouse-coloured pony, her little brown face, with excited, dark
eyes, very erect, her auburn crop of short curls flopping up and
down on her little straight back. She wanted to be able to "go out
riding" with Grandy and Mum and Baryn. And the first days were
spent by them all more or less in fulfilling her new desires. Then
term began, and Gyp sat down again to the long sharing of Summerhay
with his other life.
One afternoon at the beginning of November, the old Scotch terrier,
Ossian, lay on the path in the pale sunshine. He had lain there
all the morning since his master went up by the early train.
Nearly sixteen years old, he was deaf now and disillusioned, and
every time that Summerhay left him, his eyes seemed to say: "You
will leave me once too often!" The blandishments of the other nice
people about the house were becoming to him daily less and less a
substitute for that which he felt he had not much time left to
enjoy; nor could he any longer bear a stranger within the gate.
From her window, Gyp saw him get up and stand with his back ridged,
growling at the postman, and, fearing for the man's calves, she
Among the letters was one in that dreaded hand writing marked
"Immediate," and forwarded from his chambers. She took it up, and
put it to her nose. A scent--of what? Too faint to say. Her
thumb nails sought the edge of the flap on either side. She laid
the letter down. Any other letter, but not that--she wanted to
open it too much. Readdressing it, she took it out to put with the
other letters. And instantly the thought went through her: 'What a
pity! If I read it, and there was nothing!' All her restless,
jealous misgivings of months past would then be set at rest! She
stood, uncertain, with the letter in her hand. Ah--but if there
WERE something! She would lose at one stroke her faith in him, and
her faith in herself--not only his love but her own self-respect.
She dropped the letter on the table. Could she not take it up to
him herself? By the three o'clock slow train, she could get to him
soon after five. She looked at her watch. She would just have
time to walk down. And she ran upstairs. Little Gyp was sitting
on the top stair--her favourite seat--looking at a picture-book.
"I'm going up to London, darling. Tell Betty I may be back to-
night, or perhaps I may not. Give me a good kiss."
Little Gyp gave the good kiss, and said:
"Let me see you put your hat on, Mum."
While Gyp was putting on hat and furs, she thought: "I shan't take
a bag; I can always make shift at Bury Street if--" She did not
finish the thought, but the blood came up in her cheeks. "Take
care of Ossy, darling!" She ran down, caught up the letter, and
hastened away to the station. In the train, her cheeks still
burned. Might not this first visit to his chambers be like her old
first visit to the little house in Chelsea? She took the letter
out. How she hated that large, scrawly writing for all the
thoughts and fears it had given her these past months! If that
girl knew how much anxiety and suffering she had caused, would she
stop writing, stop seeing him? And Gyp tried to conjure up her
face, that face seen only for a minute, and the sound of that
clipped, clear voice but once heard--the face and voice of one
accustomed to have her own way. No! It would only make her go on
all the more. Fair game, against a woman with no claim--but that
of love. Thank heaven she had not taken him away from any woman--
unless--that girl perhaps thought she had! Ah! Why, in all these
years, had she never got to know his secrets, so that she might
fight against what threatened her? But would she have fought? To
fight for love was degrading, horrible! And yet--if one did not?
She got up and stood at the window of her empty carriage. There
was the river--and there--yes, the very backwater where he had
begged her to come to him for good. It looked so different, bare
and shorn, under the light grey sky; the willows were all polled,
the reeds cut down. And a line from one of his favourite sonnets
came into her mind:
"Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang."
Ah, well! Time enough to face things when they came. She would
only think of seeing him! And she put the letter back to burn what
hole it liked in the pocket of her fur coat.
The train was late; it was past five, already growing dark, when
she reached Paddington and took a cab to the Temple. Strange to be
going there for the first time--not even to know exactly where
Harcourt Buildings were. At Temple Lane, she stopped the cab and
walked down that narrow, ill-lighted, busy channel into the heart
of the Great Law.
"Up those stone steps, miss; along the railin', second doorway."
Gyp came to the second doorway and in the doubtful light
scrutinized the names. "Summerhay--second floor." She began to
climb the stairs. Her heart beat fast. What would he say? How
greet her? Was it not absurd, dangerous, to have come? He would
be having a consultation perhaps. There would be a clerk or
someone to beard, and what name could she give? On the first floor
she paused, took out a blank card, and pencilled on it:
"Can I see you a minute?--G."
Then, taking a long breath to quiet her heart, she went on up.
There was the name, and there the door. She rang--no one came;
listened--could hear no sound. All looked so massive and bleak and
dim--the iron railings, stone stairs, bare walls, oak door. She
rang again. What should she do? Leave the letter? Not see him
after all--her little romance all come to naught--just a chilly
visit to Bury Street, where perhaps there would be no one but Mrs.
Markey, for her father, she knew, was at Mildenham, hunting, and
would not be up till Sunday! And she thought: 'I'll leave the
letter, go back to the Strand, have some tea, and try again.'
She took out the letter, with a sort of prayer pushed it through
the slit of the door, heard it fall into its wire cage; then slowly
descended the stairs to the outer passage into Temple Lane. It was
thronged with men and boys, at the end of the day's work. But when
she had nearly reached the Strand, a woman's figure caught her eye.
She was walking with a man on the far side; their faces were turned
toward each other. Gyp heard their voices, and, faint, dizzy,
stood looking back after them. They passed under a lamp; the light
glinted on the woman's hair, on a trick of Summerhay's, the lift of
one shoulder, when he was denying something; she heard his voice,
high-pitched. She watched them cross, mount the stone steps she
had just come down, pass along the railed stone passage, enter the
doorway, disappear. And such horror seized on her that she could
hardly walk away.
"Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!" So it went in her mind--a kind of
moaning, like that of a cold, rainy wind through dripping trees.
What did it mean? Oh, what did it mean? In this miserable tumult,
the only thought that did not come to her was that of going back to
his chambers. She hurried away. It was a wonder she was not run
over, for she had no notion what she was doing, where going, and
crossed the streets without the least attention to traffic. She
came to Trafalgar Square, and stood leaning against its parapet in
front of the National Gallery. Here she had her first coherent
thought: So that was why his chambers had been empty! No clerk--
no one! That they might be alone. Alone, where she had dreamed of
being alone with him! And only that morning he had kissed her and
said, "Good-bye, treasure!" A dreadful little laugh got caught in
her throat, confused with a sob. Why--why had she a heart? Down
there, against the plinth of one of the lions, a young man leaned,
with his arms round a girl, pressing her to him. Gyp turned away
from the sight and resumed her miserable wandering. She went up
Bury Street. No light; not any sign of life! It did not matter;
she could not have gone in, could not stay still, must walk! She
put up her veil to get more air, feeling choked.
The trees of the Green Park, under which she was passing now, had
still a few leaves, and they gleamed in the lamplight copper-
coloured as that girl's hair. All sorts of torturing visions came
to her. Those empty chambers! She had seen one little minute of
their intimacy. A hundred kisses might have passed between them--a
thousand words of love! And he would lie to her. Already he had
acted a lie! She had not deserved that. And this sense of the
injustice done her was the first relief she felt--this definite
emotion of a mind clouded by sheer misery. She had not deserved
that he should conceal things from her. She had not had one
thought or look for any man but him since that night down by the
sea, when he came to her across the garden in the moonlight--not
one thought--and never would! Poor relief enough! She was in Hyde
Park now, wandering along a pathway which cut diagonally across the
grass. And with more resolution, more purpose, she began searching
her memory for signs, proofs of WHEN he had changed to her. She
could not find them. He had not changed in his ways to her; not at
all. Could one act love, then? Act passion, or--horrible
thought!--when he kissed her nowadays, was he thinking of that
She heard the rustling of leaves behind. A youth was following her
along the path, some ravening youth, whose ungoverned breathing had
a kind of pathos in it. Heaven! What irony! She was too
miserable to care, hardly even knew when, in the main path again,
she was free from his pursuit. Love! Why had it such possession
of her, that a little thing--yes, a little thing--only the sight of
him with another, should make her suffer so? She came out on the
other side of the park. What should she do? Crawl home, creep
into her hole, and lie there stricken! At Paddington she found a
train just starting and got in. There were other people in the
carriage, business men from the city, lawyers, from that--place
where she had been. And she was glad of their company, glad of the
crackle of evening papers and stolid faces giving her looks of
stolid interest from behind them, glad to have to keep her mask on,
afraid of the violence of her emotion. But one by one they got
out, to their cars or their constitutionals, and she was left alone
to gaze at darkness and the deserted river just visible in the
light of a moon smothered behind the sou'westerly sky. And for one
wild moment she thought: 'Shall I open the door and step out--one
She hurried away from the station. It was raining, and she drew up
her veil to feel its freshness on her hot face. There was just
light enough for her to see the pathway through the beech clump.
The wind in there was sighing, soughing, driving the dark boughs,
tearing off the leaves, little black wet shapes that came whirling
at her face. The wild melancholy in that swaying wood was too much
for Gyp; she ran, thrusting her feet through the deep rustling
drifts of leaves not yet quite drenched. They clung all wet round
her thin stockings, and the rainy wind beat her forehead. At the
edge, she paused for breath, leaning against the bole of a beech,
peering back, where the wild whirling wind was moaning and tearing
off the leaves. Then, bending her head to the rain, she went on in
the open, trying to prepare herself to show nothing when she
She got in and upstairs to her room, without being seen. If she
had possessed any sedative drug she would have taken it. Anything
to secure oblivion from this aching misery! Huddling before the
freshly lighted fire, she listened to the wind driving through the
poplars; and once more there came back to her the words of that
song sung by the Scottish girl at Fiorsen's concert:
"And my heart reft of its own sun,
Deep lies in death-torpor cold and grey."
Presently she crept into bed, and at last fell asleep.
She woke next morning with the joyful thought: 'It's Saturday;
he'll be down soon after lunch!' And then she remembered. Ah, no!
It was too much! At the pang of that remembrance, it was as if a
devil entered into her--a devil of stubborn pride, which grew
blacker with every hour of that morning. After lunch, that she
might not be in when he came, she ordered her mare, and rode up on
the downs alone. The rain had ceased, but the wind still blew
strong from the sou'west, and the sky was torn and driven in
swathes of white and grey to north, south, east, and west, and
puffs of what looked like smoke scurried across the cloud banks and
the glacier-blue rifts between. The mare had not been out the day
before, and on the springy turf stretched herself in that
thoroughbred gallop which bears a rider up, as it were, on air,
till nothing but the thud of hoofs, the grass flying by, the
beating of the wind in her face betrayed to Gyp that she was
moving. For full two miles they went without a pull, only stopped
at last by the finish of the level. From there, one could see far--
away over to Wittenham Clumps across the Valley, and to the high
woods above the river in the east--away, in the south and west,
under that strange, torn sky, to a whole autumn land, of whitish
grass, bare fields, woods of grey and gold and brown, fast being
pillaged. But all that sweep of wind, and sky, freshness of rain,
and distant colour could not drive out of Gyp's heart the hopeless
aching and the devil begotten of it.
There are men who, however well-off--either in money or love--must
gamble. Their affections may be deeply rooted, but they cannot
repulse fate when it tantalizes them with a risk.
Summerhay, who loved Gyp, was not tired of her either physically or
mentally, and even felt sure he would never tire, had yet dallied
for months with this risk which yesterday had come to a head. And
now, taking his seat in the train to return to her, he felt
unquiet; and since he resented disquietude, he tried defiantly to
think of other things, but he was very unsuccessful. Looking back,
it was difficult for him to tell when the snapping of his defences
had begun. A preference shown by one accustomed to exact
preference is so insidious. The girl, his cousin, was herself a
gambler. He did not respect her as he respected Gyp; she did not
touch him as Gyp touched him, was not--no, not half--so deeply
attractive; but she had--confound her! the power of turning his
head at moments, a queer burning, skin-deep fascination, and, above
all, that most dangerous quality in a woman--the lure of an
imperious vitality. In love with life, she made him feel that he
was letting things slip by. And since to drink deep of life was
his nature, too--what chance had he of escape? Far-off cousinhood
is a dangerous relationship. Its familiarity is not great enough
to breed contempt, but sufficient to remove those outer defences to
intimacy, the conquest of which, in other circumstances, demands
the conscious effort which warns people whither they are going.
Summerhay had not realized the extent of the danger, but he had
known that it existed, especially since Scotland. It would be
interesting--as the historians say--to speculate on what he would
have done, if he could have foretold what would happen. But he had
certainly not foretold the crisis of yesterday evening. He had
received a telegram from her at lunch-time, suggesting the
fulfilment of a jesting promise, made in Scotland, that she should
have tea with him and see his chambers--a small and harmless
matter. Only, why had he dismissed his clerk so early? That is
the worst of gamblers--they will put a polish on the risks they
run. He had not reckoned, perhaps, that she would look so pretty,
lying back in his big Oxford chair, with furs thrown open so that
her white throat showed, her hair gleaming, a smile coming and
going on her lips; her white hand, with polished nails, holding
that cigarette; her brown eyes, so unlike Gyp's, fixed on him; her
slim foot with high instep thrust forward in transparent stocking.
Not reckoned that, when he bent to take her cup, she would put out
her hands, draw his head down, press her lips to his, and say: "Now
you know!" His head had gone round, still went round, thinking of
it! That was all. A little matter--except that, in an hour, he
would be meeting the eyes of one he loved much more. And yet--the
poison was in his blood; a kiss so cut short--by what--what counter
impulse?--leaving him gazing at her without a sound, inhaling that
scent of hers--something like a pine wood's scent, only sweeter,
while she gathered up her gloves, fastened her furs, as if it had
been he, not she, who had snatched that kiss. But her hand had
pressed his arm against her as they went down the stairs. And
getting into her cab at the Temple Station, she had looked back at
him with a little half-mocking smile of challenge and comradeship
and promise. The link would be hard to break--even if he wanted
to. And yet nothing would come of it! Heavens, no! He had never
thought! Marriage! Impossible! Anything else--even more
impossible! When he got back to his chambers, he had found in the
box the letter, which her telegram had repeated, readdressed by Gyp
from the Red House. And a faint uneasiness at its having gone down
there passed through him. He spent a restless evening at the club,
playing cards and losing; sat up late in his chambers over a case;
had a hard morning's work, and only now that he was nearing Gyp,
realized how utterly he had lost the straightforward simplicity of
When he reached the house and found that she had gone out riding
alone, his uneasiness increased. Why had she not waited as usual
for him to ride with her? And he paced up and down the garden,
where the wind was melancholy in the boughs of the walnut-tree that
had lost all its leaves. Little Gyp was out for her walk, and only
poor old Ossy kept him company. Had she not expected him by the
usual train? He would go and try to find out. He changed and went
to the stables. Old Pettance was sitting on a corn-bin, examining
an aged Ruff's Guide, which contained records of his long-past
glory, scored under by a pencil: "June Stakes: Agility. E.
Pettance 3rd." "Tidport Selling H'Cap: Dorothea, E. Pettance, o."
"Salisbury Cup: Also ran Plum Pudding, E. Pettance," with other
triumphs. He got up, saying:
"Good-afternoon, sir; windy afternoon, sir. The mistress 'as been
gone out over two hours, sir. She wouldn't take me with 'er."
"Hurry up, then, and saddle Hotspur."
"Yes, sir; very good, sir."
Over two hours! He went up on to the downs, by the way they
generally came home, and for an hour he rode, keeping a sharp
lookout for any sign of her. No use; and he turned home, hot and
uneasy. On the hall table were her riding-whip and gloves. His
heart cleared, and he ran upstairs. She was doing her hair and
turned her head sharply as he entered. Hurrying across the room he
had the absurd feeling that she was standing at bay. She drew
back, bent her face away from him, and said:
"No! Don't pretend! Anything's better than pretence!"
He had never seen her look or speak like that--her face so hard,
her eyes so stabbing! And he recoiled dumbfounded.
"What's the matter, Gyp?"
"Nothing. Only--don't pretend!" And, turning to the glass, she
went on twisting and coiling up her hair.
She looked lovely, flushed from her ride in the wind, and he had a
longing to seize her in his arms. But her face stopped him. With
fear and a sort of anger, he said:
"You might explain, I think."
An evil little smile crossed her face.
"YOU can do that. I am in the dark."
"I don't in the least understand what you mean."
"Don't you?" There was something deadly in her utter disregard of
him, while her fingers moved swiftly about her dark, shining hair--
something so appallingly sudden in this hostility that Summerhay
felt a peculiar sensation in his head, as if he must knock it
against something. He sat down on the side of the bed. Was it
that letter? But how? It had not been opened. He said:
"What on earth has happened, Gyp, since I went up yesterday? Speak
out, and don't keep me like this!"
She turned and looked at him.
"Don't pretend that you're upset because you can't kiss me! Don't
be false, Bryan! You know it's been pretence for months."
Summerhay's voice grew high.
"I think you've gone mad. I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, yes, you do. Did you get a letter yesterday marked
Ah! So it WAS that! To meet the definite, he hardened, and said
"Yes; from Diana Leyton. Do you object?"
"No; only, how do you think it got back to you from here so
He said dully:
"I don't know. By post, I suppose."
"No; I put it in your letter-box myself--at half-past five."
Summerhay's mind was trained to quickness, and the full
significance of those words came home to him at once. He stared at
"I suppose you saw us, then."
He got up, made a helpless movement, and said:
"Oh, Gyp, don't! Don't be so hard! I swear by--"
Gyp gave a little laugh, turned her back, and went on coiling at
her hair. And again that horrid feeling that he must knock his
head against something rose in Summerhay. He said helplessly:
"I only gave her tea. Why not? She's my cousin. It's nothing!
Why should you think the worst of me? She asked to see my
chambers. Why not? I couldn't refuse."
"Your EMPTY chambers? Don't, Bryan--it's pitiful! I can't bear to
At that lash of the whip, Summerhay turned and said:
"It pleases you to think the worst, then?"
Gyp stopped the movement of her fingers and looked round at him.
"I've always told you you were perfectly free. Do you think I
haven't felt it going on for months? There comes a moment when
pride revolts--that's all. Don't lie to me, PLEASE!"
"I am not in the habit of lying." But still he did not go. That
awful feeling of encirclement, of a net round him, through which he
could not break--a net which he dimly perceived even in his
resentment to have been spun by himself, by that cursed intimacy,
kept from her all to no purpose--beset him more closely every
minute. Could he not make her see the truth, that it was only her
he REALLY loved? And he said:
"Gyp, I swear to you there's nothing but one kiss, and that was
A shudder went through her from head to foot; she cried out:
"Oh, please go away!"
He went up to her, put his hands on her shoulders, and said:
"It's only you I really love. I swear it! Why don't you believe
me? You must believe me. You can't be so wicked as not to. It's
foolish--foolish! Think of our life--think of our love--think of
all--" Her face was frozen; he loosened his grasp of her, and
muttered: "Oh, your pride is awful!"
"Yes, it's all I've got. Lucky for you I have it. You can go to
her when you like."
"Go to her! It's absurd--I couldn't--If you wish, I'll never see
She turned away to the glass.
"Oh, don't! What IS the use?"
Nothing is harder for one whom life has always spoiled than to find
his best and deepest feelings disbelieved in. At that moment,
Summerhay meant absolutely what he said. The girl was nothing to
him! If she was pursuing him, how could he help it? And he could
not make Gyp believe it! How awful! How truly terrible! How
unjust and unreasonable of her! And why? What had he done that
she should be so unbelieving--should think him such a shallow
scoundrel? Could he help the girl's kissing him? Help her being
fond of him? Help having a man's nature? Unreasonable, unjust,
ungenerous! And giving her a furious look, he went out.
He went down to his study, flung himself on the sofa and turned his
face to the wall. Devilish! But he had not been there five
minutes before his anger seemed childish and evaporated into the
chill of deadly and insistent fear. He was perceiving himself up
against much more than a mere incident, up against her nature--its
pride and scepticism--yes--and the very depth and singleness of her
love. While she wanted nothing but him, he wanted and took so much
else. He perceived this but dimly, as part of that feeling that he
could not break through, of the irritable longing to put his head
down and butt his way out, no matter what the obstacles. What was
coming? How long was this state of things to last? He got up and
began to pace the room, his hands clasped behind him, his head
thrown back; and every now and then he shook that head, trying to
free it from this feeling of being held in chancery. And then
Diana! He had said he would not see her again. But was that
possible? After that kiss--after that last look back at him! How?
What could he say--do? How break so suddenly? Then, at memory of
Gyp's face, he shivered. Ah, how wretched it all was! There must
be some way out--some way! Surely some way out! For when first,
in the wood of life, fatality halts, turns her dim dark form among
the trees, shows her pale cheek and those black eyes of hers, shows
with awful swiftness her strange reality--men would be fools indeed
who admitted that they saw her!
Gyp stayed in her room doing little things--as a woman will when
she is particularly wretched--sewing pale ribbons into her
garments, polishing her rings. And the devil that had entered into
her when she woke that morning, having had his fling, slunk away,
leaving the old bewildered misery. She had stabbed her lover with
words and looks, felt pleasure in stabbing, and now was bitterly
sad. What use--what satisfaction? How by vengeful prickings cure
the deep wound, disperse the canker in her life? How heal herself
by hurting him whom she loved so? If he came up again now and made
but a sign, she would throw herself into his arms. But hours
passed, and he did not come, and she did not go down--too truly
miserable. It grew dark, but she did not draw the curtains; the
sight of the windy moonlit garden and the leaves driving across
brought a melancholy distraction. Little Gyp came in and prattled.
There was a tree blown down, and she had climbed on it; they had
picked up two baskets of acorns, and the pigs had been so greedy;
and she had been blown away, so that Betty had had to run after
her. And Baryn was walking in the study; he was so busy he had
only given her one kiss.
When she was gone, Gyp opened the window and let the wind full into
her face. If only it would blow out of her heart this sickening
sense that all was over, no matter how he might pretend to love her
out of pity! In a nature like hers, so doubting and self-
distrustful, confidence, once shaken to the roots, could never be
restored. A proud nature that went all lengths in love could never
be content with a half-love. She had been born too doubting,
proud, and jealous, yet made to love too utterly. She--who had
been afraid of love, and when it came had fought till it swept her
away; who, since then, had lived for love and nothing else, who
gave all, and wanted all--knew for certain and for ever that she
could not have all.
It was "nothing" he had said! Nothing! That for months he had
been thinking at least a little of another woman besides herself.
She believed what he had told her, that there had been no more than
a kiss--but was it nothing that they had reached that kiss? This
girl--this cousin--who held all the cards, had everything on her
side--the world, family influence, security of life; yes, and more,
so terribly much more--a man's longing for the young and
unawakened. This girl he could marry! It was this thought which
haunted her. A mere momentary outbreak of man's natural wildness
she could forgive and forget--oh, yes! It was the feeling that it
was a girl, his own cousin, besieging him, dragging him away, that
was so dreadful. Ah, how horrible it was--how horrible! How, in
decent pride, keep him from her, fetter him?
She heard him come up to his dressing-room, and while he was still
there, stole out and down. Life must go on, the servants be
hoodwinked, and so forth. She went to the piano and played,
turning the dagger in her heart, or hoping forlornly that music
might work some miracle. He came in presently and stood by the
Dinner, with the talk needful to blinding the household--for what
is more revolting than giving away the sufferings of the heart?--
was almost unendurable and directly it was over, they went, he to
his study, she back to the piano. There she sat, ready to strike
the notes if anyone came in; and tears fell on the hands that
rested in her lap. With all her soul she longed to go and clasp
him in her arms and cry: "I don't care--I don't care! Do what you
like--go to her--if only you'll love me a little!" And yet to
love--a LITTLE! Was it possible? Not to her!
In sheer misery she went upstairs and to bed. She heard him come
up and go into his dressing-room--and, at last, in the firelight
saw him kneeling by her.
She raised herself and threw her arms round him. Such an embrace a
drowning woman might have given. Pride and all were abandoned in
an effort to feel him close once more, to recover the irrecoverable
past. For a long time she listened to his pleading, explanations,
justifications, his protestations of undying love--strange to her
and painful, yet so boyish and pathetic. She soothed him, clasping
his head to her breast, gazing out at the flickering fire. In that
hour, she rose to a height above herself. What happened to her own
heart did not matter so long as he was happy, and had all that he
wanted with her and away from her--if need be, always away from her.
But, when he had gone to sleep, a terrible time began; for in the
small hours, when things are at their worst, she could not keep
back her weeping, though she smothered it into the pillow. It woke
him, and all began again; the burden of her cry: "It's gone!" the
burden of his: "It's NOT--can't you see it isn't?" Till, at last,
that awful feeling that he must knock his head against the wall
made him leap up and tramp up and down like a beast in a cage--the
cage of the impossible. For, as in all human tragedies, both were
right according to their natures. She gave him all herself, wanted
all in return, and could not have it. He wanted her, the rest
besides, and no complaining, and could not have it. He did not
admit impossibility; she did.
At last came another of those pitying lulls till he went to sleep
in her arms. Long she lay awake, staring at the darkness,
admitting despair, trying to find how to bear it, not succeeding.
Impossible to cut his other life away from him--impossible that,
while he lived it, this girl should not be tugging him away from
her. Impossible to watch and question him. Impossible to live
dumb and blind, accepting the crumbs left over, showing nothing.
Would it have been better if they had been married? But then it
might have been the same--reversed; perhaps worse! The roots were
so much deeper than that. He was not single-hearted and she was.
In spite of all that he said, she knew he didn't really want to
give up that girl. How could he? Even if the girl would let him
go! And slowly there formed within her a gruesome little plan to
test him. Then, ever so gently withdrawing her arms, she turned
over and slept, exhausted.
Next morning, remorselessly carrying out that plan, she forced
herself to smile and talk as if nothing had happened, watching the
relief in his face, his obvious delight at the change, with a
fearful aching in her heart. She waited till he was ready to go
down, and then, still smiling, said:
"Forget all about yesterday, darling. Promise me you won't let it
make any difference. You must keep up your friendship; you mustn't
lose anything. I shan't mind; I shall be quite happy." He knelt
down and leaned his forehead against her waist. And, stroking his
hair, she repeated: "I shall only be happy if you take everything
that comes your way. I shan't mind a bit." And she watched his
face that had lost its trouble.
"Do you really mean that?"
"Then you do see that it's nothing, never has been anything--
compared with you--never!"
He had accepted her crucifixion. A black wave surged into her
"It would be so difficult and awkward for you to give up that
intimacy. It would hurt your cousin so."
She saw the relief deepen in his face and suddenly laughed. He got
up from his knees and stared at her.
"Oh, Gyp, for God's sake don't begin again!"
But she went on laughing; then, with a sob, turned away and buried
her face in her hands. To all his prayers and kisses she answered
nothing, and breaking away from him, she rushed toward the door. A
wild thought possessed her. Why go on? If she were dead, it would
be all right for him, quiet--peaceful, quiet--for them all! But he
had thrown himself in the way.
"Gyp, for heaven's sake! I'll give her up--of course I'll give her
up. Do--do--be reasonable! I don't care a finger-snap for her
compared with you!"
And presently there came another of those lulls that both were
beginning to know were mere pauses of exhaustion. They were
priceless all the same, for the heart cannot go on feeling at that
It was Sunday morning, the church-bells ringing, no wind, a lull in
the sou'westerly gale--one of those calms that fall in the night
and last, as a rule, twelve or fifteen hours, and the garden all
strewn with leaves of every hue, from green spotted with yellow to
Summerhay was afraid; he kept with her all the morning, making all
sorts of little things to do in her company. But he gradually lost
his fear, she seemed so calm now, and his was a nature that bore
trouble badly, ever impatient to shake it off. And then, after
lunch, the spirit-storm beat up again, with a swiftness that showed
once more how deceptive were those lulls, how fearfully deep and
lasting the wound. He had simply asked her whether he should try
to match something for her when he went up, to-morrow. She was
silent a moment, then answered:
"Oh, no, thanks; you'll have other things to do; people to see!"
The tone of her voice, the expression on her face showed him, with
a fresh force of revelation, what paralysis had fallen on his life.
If he could not reconvince her of his love, he would be in
perpetual fear--that he might come back and find her gone, fear
that she might even do something terrible to herself. He looked at
her with a sort of horror, and, without a word, went out of the
room. The feeling that he must hit his head against something was
on him once more, and once more he sought to get rid of it by
tramping up and down. Great God! Such a little thing, such
fearful consequences! All her balance, her sanity almost,
destroyed. Was what he had done so very dreadful? He could not
help Diana loving him!
In the night, Gyp had said: "You are cruel. Do you think there is
any man in the world that I wouldn't hate the sight of if I knew
that to see him gave you a moment's pain?" It was true--he felt it
was true. But one couldn't hate a girl simply because she loved
you; at least he couldn't--not even to save Gyp pain. That was not
reasonable, not possible. But did that difference between a man
and a woman necessarily mean that Gyp loved him so much more than
he loved her? Could she not see things in proportion? See that a
man might want, did want, other friendships, even passing moments
of passion, and yet could love her just the same? She thought him
cruel, called him cruel--what for? Because he had kissed a girl
who had kissed him; because he liked talking to her, and--yes,
might even lose his head with her. But cruel! He was not! Gyp
would always be first with him. He must MAKE her see--but how?
Give up everything? Give up--Diana? (Truth is so funny--it will
out even in a man's thoughts!) Well, and he could! His feeling
was not deep--that was God's truth! But it would be difficult,
awkward, brutal to give her up completely! It could be done,
though, sooner than that Gyp should think him cruel to her. It
could be--should be done!
Only, would it be any use? Would she believe? Would she not
always now be suspecting him when he was away from her, whatever he
did? Must he then sit down here in inactivity? And a gust of
anger with her swept him. Why should she treat him as if he were
utterly unreliable? Or--was he? He stood still. When Diana had
put her arms round his neck, he could no more have resisted
answering her kiss than he could now fly through the window and
over those poplar trees. But he was not a blackguard, not cruel,
not a liar! How could he have helped it all? The only way would
have been never to have answered the girl's first letter, nearly a
year ago. How could he foresee? And, since then, all so gradual,
and nothing, really, or almost nothing. Again the surge of anger
swelled his heart. She must have read the letter which had been
under that cursed bust of old Voltaire all those months ago. The
poison had been working ever since! And in sudden fury at that
miserable mischance, he drove his fist into the bronze face. The
bust fell over, and Summerhay looked stupidly at his bruised hand.
A silly thing to do! But it had quenched his anger. He only saw
Gyp's face now--so pitifully unhappy. Poor darling! What could he
do? If only she would believe! And again he had the sickening
conviction that whatever he did would be of no avail. He could
never get back, was only at the beginning, of a trouble that had no
end. And, like a rat in a cage, his mind tried to rush out of this
entanglement now at one end, now at the other. Ah, well! Why
bruise your head against walls? If it was hopeless--let it go!
And, shrugging his shoulders, he went out to the stables, and told
old Pettance to saddle Hotspur. While he stood there waiting, he
thought: 'Shall I ask her to come?' But he could not stand another
bout of misery--must have rest! And mounting, he rode up towards
Hotspur, the sixteen-hand brown horse, with not a speck of white,
that Gyp had ridden hunting the day she first saw Summerhay, was
nine years old now. His master's two faults as a horseman--a habit
of thrusting, and not too light hands--had encouraged his rather
hard mouth, and something had happened in the stables to-day to put
him into a queer temper; or perhaps he felt--as horses will--the
disturbance raging within his rider. At any rate, he gave an
exhibition of his worst qualities, and Summerhay derived perverse
pleasure from that waywardness. He rode a good hour up there;
then, hot, with aching arms--for the brute was pulling like the
devil!--he made his way back toward home and entered what little
Gyp called "the wild," those two rough sedgy fields with the linhay
in the corner where they joined. There was a gap in the hedge-
growth of the bank between them, and at this he put Hotspur at
speed. The horse went over like a bird; and for the first time
since Diana's kiss Summerhay felt a moment's joy. He turned him
round and sent him at it again, and again Hotspur cleared it
beautifully. But the animal's blood was up now. Summerhay could
hardly hold him. Muttering: "Oh, you BRUTE, don't pull!" he jagged
the horse's mouth. There darted into his mind Gyp's word: "Cruel!"
And, viciously, in one of those queer nerve-crises that beset us
all, he struck the pulling horse.
They were cantering toward the corner where the fields joined, and
suddenly he was aware that he could no more hold the beast than if
a steam-engine had been under him. Straight at the linhay Hotspur
dashed, and Summerhay thought: "My God! He'll kill himself!"
Straight at the old stone linhay, covered by the great ivy bush.
Right at it--into it! Summerhay ducked his head. Not low enough--
the ivy concealed a beam! A sickening crash! Torn backward out of
the saddle, he fell on his back in a pool of leaves and mud. And
the horse, slithering round the linhay walls, checked in his own
length, unhurt, snorting, frightened, came out, turning his wild
eyes on his master, who never stirred, then trotted back into the
field, throwing up his head.
When, at her words, Summerhay went out of the room, Gyp's heart
sank. All the morning she had tried so hard to keep back her
despairing jealousy, and now at the first reminder had broken down
again. It was beyond her strength! To live day after day knowing
that he, up in London, was either seeing that girl or painfully
abstaining from seeing her! And then, when he returned, to be to
him just what she had been, to show nothing--would it ever be
possible? Hardest to bear was what seemed to her the falsity of
his words, maintaining that he still really loved her. If he did,
how could he hesitate one second? Would not the very thought of
the girl be abhorrent to him? He would have shown that, not merely
said it among other wild things. Words were no use when they
contradicted action. She, who loved with every bit of her, could
not grasp that a man can really love and want one woman and yet, at
the same time, be attracted by another.
That sudden fearful impulse of the morning to make away with
herself and end it for them both recurred so vaguely that it hardly
counted in her struggles; the conflict centred now round the
question whether life would be less utterly miserable if she
withdrew from him and went back to Mildenham. Life without him?
That was impossible! Life with him? Just as impossible, it
seemed! There comes a point of mental anguish when the
alternatives between which one swings, equally hopeless, become
each so monstrous that the mind does not really work at all, but
rushes helplessly from one to the other, no longer trying to
decide, waiting on fate. So in Gyp that Sunday afternoon, doing
little things all the time--mending a hole in one of his gloves,
brushing and applying ointment to old Ossy, sorting bills and
At five o'clock, knowing little Gyp must soon be back from her
walk, and feeling unable to take part in gaiety, she went up and
put on her hat. She turned from contemplation of her face with
disgust. Since it was no longer the only face for him, what was
the use of beauty? She slipped out by the side gate and went down
toward the river. The lull was over; the south-west wind had begun
sighing through the trees again, and gorgeous clouds were piled up
from the horizon into the pale blue. She stood by the river
watching its grey stream, edged by a scum of torn-off twigs and
floating leaves, watched the wind shivering through the spoiled
plume-branches of the willows. And, standing there, she had a
sudden longing for her father; he alone could help her--just a
little--by his quietness, and his love, by his mere presence.
She turned away and went up the lane again, avoiding the inn and
the riverside houses, walking slowly, her head down. And a thought
came, her first hopeful thought. Could they not travel--go round
the world? Would he give up his work for that--that chance to
break the spell? Dared she propose it? But would even that be
anything more than a putting-off? If she was not enough for him
now, would she not be still less, if his work were cut away?
Still, it was a gleam, a gleam in the blackness. She came in at
the far end of the fields they called "the wild." A rose-leaf hue
tinged the white cloud-banks, which towered away to the east beyond
the river; and peeping over that mountain-top was the moon, fleecy
and unsubstantial in the flax-blue sky. It was one of nature's
moments of wild colour. The oak-trees above the hedgerows had not
lost their leaves, and in the darting, rain-washed light from the
setting sun, had a sheen of old gold with heart of ivy-green; the
hail-stripped beeches flamed with copper; the russet tufts of the
ash-trees glowed. And past Gyp, a single leaf blown off, went
soaring, turning over and over, going up on the rising wind, up--
up, higher--higher into the sky, till it was lost--away.
The rain had drenched the long grass, and she turned back. At the
gate beside the linhay, a horse was standing. It whinnied.
Hotspur, saddled, bridled, with no rider! Why? Where--then?
Hastily she undid the latch, ran through, and saw Summerhay lying
in the mud--on his back, with eyes wide-open, his forehead and hair
all blood. Some leaves had dropped on him. God! O God! His eyes
had no sight, his lips no breath; his heart did not beat; the
leaves had dropped even on his face--in the blood on his poor head.
Gyp raised him--stiffened, cold as ice! She gave one cry, and
fell, embracing his dead, stiffened body with all her strength,
kissing his lips, his eyes, his broken forehead; clasping, warming
him, trying to pass life into him; till, at last, she, too, lay
still, her lips on his cold lips, her body on his cold body in the
mud and the fallen leaves, while the wind crept and rustled in the
ivy, and went over with the scent of rain. Close by, the horse,
uneasy, put his head down and sniffed at her, then, backing away,
neighed, and broke into a wild gallop round the field. . . .
Old Pettance, waiting for Summerhay's return to stable-up for the
night, heard that distant neigh and went to the garden gate,
screwing up his little eyes against the sunset. He could see a
loose horse galloping down there in "the wild," where no horse
should be, and thinking: "There now; that artful devil's broke away
from the guv'nor! Now I'll 'ave to ketch 'im!" he went back, got
some oats, and set forth at the best gait of his stiff-jointed
feet. The old horseman characteristically did not think of
accidents. The guv'nor had got off, no doubt, to unhitch that
heavy gate--the one you had to lift. That 'orse--he was a
masterpiece of mischief! His difference with the animal still
rankled in a mind that did not easily forgive.
Half an hour later, he entered the lighted kitchen shaking and
gasping, tears rolling down his furrowed cheeks into the corners of
his gargoyle's mouth, and panted out:
"O, my Gord! Fetch the farmer--fetch an 'urdle! O my Gord!
Betty, you and cook--I can't get 'er off him. She don't speak. I
felt her--all cold. Come on, you sluts--quick! O my Gord! The
poor guv'nor! That 'orse must 'a' galloped into the linhay and
killed him. I've see'd the marks on the devil's shoulder where he
rubbed it scrapin' round the wall. Come on--come on! Fetch an
'urdle or she'll die there on him in the mud. Put the child to bed
and get the doctor, and send a wire to London, to the major, to
come sharp. Oh, blarst you all--keep your 'eads! What's the good
o' howlin' and blubberin'!"
In the whispering corner of those fields, light from a lantern and
the moon fell on the old stone linhay, on the ivy and the broken
gate, on the mud, the golden leaves, and the two quiet bodies
clasped together. Gyp's consciousness had flown; there seemed no
difference between them. And presently, over the rushy grass, a
procession moved back in the wind and the moonlight--two hurdles,
two men carrying one, two women and a man the other, and, behind,
old Pettance and the horse.
When Gyp recovered a consciousness, whose flight had been
mercifully renewed with morphia, she was in her bed, and her first
drowsy movement was toward her mate. With eyes still closed, she
turned, as she was wont, and put out her hand to touch him before
she dozed off again. There was no warmth, no substance; through
her mind, still away in the mists of morphia, the thoughts passed
vague and lonely: 'Ah, yes, in London!' And she turned on her
back. London! Something--something up there! She opened her
eyes. So the fire had kept in all night! Someone was in a chair
there, or--was she dreaming! And suddenly, without knowing why,
she began breathing hurriedly in little half-sobbing gasps. The
figure moved, turned her face in the firelight. Betty! Gyp closed
her eyes. An icy sweat had broken out all over her. A dream! In
a whisper, she said:
The muffled answer came.
"Yes, my darlin'."
"What is it?"
No answer; then a half-choked, "Don't 'ee think--don't 'ee think!
Your Daddy'll be here directly, my sweetie!"
Gyp's eyes, wide open, passed from the firelight and that rocking
figure to the little chink of light that was hardly light as yet,
coming in at one corner of the curtain. She was remembering. Her
tongue stole out and passed over her lips; beneath the bedclothes
she folded both her hands tight across her heart. Then she was not
dead with him--not dead! Not gone back with him into the ground--
not--And suddenly there flickered in her a flame of maniacal
hatred. They were keeping her alive! A writhing smile forced its
way up on to her parched lips.
"Betty, I'm so thirsty--so thirsty. Get me a cup of tea."
The stout form heaved itself from the chair and came toward the
"Yes, my lovey, at once. It'll do you good. That's a brave girl."
The moment the door clicked to, Gyp sprang up. Her veins throbbed;
her whole soul was alive with cunning. She ran to the wardrobe,
seized her long fur coat, slipped her bare feet into her slippers,
wound a piece of lace round her head, and opened the door. All
dark and quiet! Holding her breath, stifling the sound of her
feet, she glided down the stairs, slipped back the chain of the
front door, opened it, and fled. Like a shadow she passed across
the grass, out of the garden gate, down the road under the black
dripping trees. The beginning of light was mixing its grey hue
into the darkness; she could just see her feet among the puddles on
the road. She heard the grinding and whirring of a motor-car on
its top gear approaching up the hill, and cowered away against the
hedge. Its light came searching along, picking out with a
mysterious momentary brightness the bushes and tree-trunks, making
the wet road gleam. Gyp saw the chauffeur turn his head back at
her, then the car's body passed up into darkness, and its tail-
light was all that was left to see. Perhaps that car was going to
the Red House with her father, the doctor, somebody, helping to
keep her alive! The maniacal hate flared up in her again; she flew
on. The light grew; a man with a dog came out of a gate she had
passed, and called "Hallo!" She did not turn her head. She had
lost her slippers, and ran with bare feet, unconscious of stones,
or the torn-off branches strewing the road, making for the lane
that ran right down to the river, a little to the left of the inn,
the lane of yesterday, where the bank was free.
She turned into the lane; dimly, a hundred or more yards away, she
could see the willows, the width of lighter grey that was the
river. The river--"Away, my rolling river!"--the river--and the
happiest hours of all her life! If he were anywhere, she would
find him there, where he had sung, and lain with his head on her
breast, and swum and splashed about her; where she had dreamed, and
seen beauty, and loved him so! She reached the bank. Cold and
grey and silent, swifter than yesterday, the stream was flowing by,
its dim far shore brightening slowly in the first break of dawn.
And Gyp stood motionless, drawing her breath in gasps after her
long run; her knees trembled; gave way. She sat down on the wet
grass, clasping her arms round her drawn-up legs, rocking herself
to and fro, and her loosened hair fell over her face. The blood
beat in her ears; her heart felt suffocated; all her body seemed on
fire, yet numb. She sat, moving her head up and down--as the head
of one moves that is gasping her last--waiting for breath--breath
and strength to let go life, to slip down into the grey water. And
that queer apartness from self, which is the property of fever,
came on her, so that she seemed to see herself sitting there,
waiting, and thought: 'I shall see myself dead, floating among the
reeds. I shall see the birds wondering above me!' And, suddenly,
she broke into a storm of dry sobbing, and all things vanished from
her, save just the rocking of her body, the gasping of her breath,
and the sound of it in her ears. Her boy--her boy--and his poor
hair! "Away, my rolling river!" Swaying over, she lay face down,
clasping at the wet grass and the earth.
The sun rose, laid a pale bright streak along the water, and hid
himself again. A robin twittered in the willows; a leaf fell on
her bare ankle.
Winton, who had been hunting on Saturday, had returned to town on
Sunday by the evening tram, and gone straight to his club for some
supper. There falling asleep over his cigar, he had to be awakened
when they desired to close the club for the night. It was past two
when he reached Bury Street and found a telegram.
"Something dreadful happened to Mr. Summerhay. Come quick.--
Never had he so cursed the loss of his hand as during the time that
followed, when Markey had to dress, help his master, pack bags, and
fetch a taxi equipped for so long a journey. At half-past three
they started. The whole way down, Winton, wrapped in his fur coat,
sat a little forward on his seat, ready to put his head through the
window and direct the driver. It was a wild night, and he would
not let Markey, whose chest was not strong, go outside to act as
guide. Twice that silent one, impelled by feelings too strong even
for his respectful taciturnity, had spoken.
"That'll be bad for Miss Gyp, sir."
"D'you think it means he's dead, sir?"
Winton answered sombrely:
"God knows, Markey! We must hope for the best."
Dead! Could Fate be cruel enough to deal one so soft and loving
such a blow? And he kept saying to himself: "Courage. Be ready
for the worst. Be ready."
But the figures of Betty and a maid at the open garden gate, in the
breaking darkness, standing there wringing their hands, were too
much for his stoicism. Leaping out, he cried:
"What is it, woman? Quick!"
"Oh, sir! My dear's gone. I left her a moment to get her a cup of
tea. And she's run out in the cold!"
Winton stood for two seconds as if turned to stone. Then, taking
Betty by the shoulder, he asked quietly:
"What happened to HIM?"
Betty could not answer, but the maid said:
"The horse killed him at that linhay, sir, down in 'the wild.' And
the mistress was unconscious till quarter of an hour ago."
"Which way did she go?"
"Out here, sir; the door and the gate was open--can't tell which
Through Winton flashed one dreadful thought: The river!
"Turn the cab round! Stay in, Markey! Betty and you, girl, go
down to 'the wild,' and search there at once. Yes? What is it?"
The driver was leaning out.
"As we came up the hill, sir, I see a lady or something in a long
dark coat with white on her head, against the hedge."
"Right! Drive down again sharp, and use your eyes."
At such moments, thought is impossible, and a feverish use of every
sense takes its place. But of thought there was no need, for the
gardens of villas and the inn blocked the river at all but one
spot. Winton stopped the car where the narrow lane branched down
to the bank, and jumping out, ran. By instinct he ran silently on
the grass edge, and Markey, imitating, ran behind. When he came in
sight of a black shape lying on the bank, he suffered a moment of
intense agony, for he thought it was just a dark garment thrown
away. Then he saw it move, and, holding up his hand for Markey to
stand still, walked on alone, tiptoeing in the grass, his heart
swelling with a sort of rapture. Stealthily moving round between
that prostrate figure and the water, he knelt down and said, as
best he could, for the husk in his throat:
Gyp raised her head and stared at him. Her white face, with eyes
unnaturally dark and large, and hair falling all over it, was
strange to him--the face of grief itself, stripped of the wrappings
of form. And he knew not what to do, how to help or comfort, how
to save. He could see so clearly in her eyes the look of a wild
animal at the moment of its capture, and instinct made him say:
"I lost her just as cruelly, Gyp."
He saw the words reach her brain, and that wild look waver.
Stretching out his arm, he drew her close to him till her cheek was
against his, her shaking body against him, and kept murmuring:
"For my sake, Gyp; for my sake!"
When, with Markey's aid, he had got her to the cab, they took her,
not back to the house, but to the inn. She was in high fever, and
soon delirious. By noon, Aunt Rosamund and Mrs. Markey, summoned
by telegram, had arrived; and the whole inn was taken lest there
should be any noise to disturb her.
At five o'clock, Winton was summoned downstairs to the little so-
called reading-room. A tall woman was standing at the window,
shading her eyes with the back of a gloved hand. Though they had
lived so long within ten miles of each other he only knew Lady
Summerhay by sight, and he waited for the poor woman to speak
first. She said in a low voice:
"There is nothing to say; only, I thought I must see you. How is
They stood in silence a full minute, before she whispered:
"My poor boy! Did you see him--his forehead?" Her lips quivered.
"I will take him back home." And tears rolled, one after the
other, slowly down her flushed face under her veil. Poor woman!
Poor woman! She had turned to the window, passing her handkerchief
up under the veil, staring out at the little strip of darkening
lawn, and Winton, too, stared out into that mournful daylight. At
last, he said:
"I will send you all his things, except--except anything that might
help my poor girl."
She turned quickly.
"And so it's ended like this! Major Winton, is there anything
behind--were they really happy?"
Winton looked straight at her and answered:
"Ah, too happy!"
Without a quiver, he met those tear-darkened, dilated eyes
straining at his; with a heavy sigh, she once more turned away,
and, brushing her handkerchief across her face, drew down her veil.
It was not true--he knew from the mutterings of Gyp's fever--but no
one, not even Summerhay's mother, should hear a whisper if he could
help it. At the door, he murmured:
"I don't know whether my girl will get through, or what she will do
after. When Fate hits, she hits too hard. And you! Good-bye."
Lady Summerhay pressed his outstretched hand.
"Good-bye," she said, in a strangled voice. "I wish you--good-
bye." Then, turning abruptly, she hastened away.
Winton went back to his guardianship upstairs.
In the days that followed, when Gyp, robbed of memory, hung between
life and death, Winton hardly left her room, that low room with
creepered windows whence the river could be seen, gliding down
under the pale November sunshine or black beneath the stars. He
would watch it, fascinated, as one sometimes watches the relentless
sea. He had snatched her as by a miracle from that snaky river.
He had refused to have a nurse. Aunt Rosamund and Mrs. Markey were
skilled in sickness, and he could not bear that a strange person
should listen to those delirious mutterings. His own part of the
nursing was just to sit there and keep her secrets from the others--
if he could. And he grudged every minute away from his post. He
would stay for hours, with eyes fixed on her face. No one could
supply so well as he just that coherent thread of the familiar, by
which the fevered, without knowing it, perhaps find their way a
little in the dark mazes where they wander. And he would think of
her as she used to be--well and happy--adopting unconsciously the
methods of those mental and other scientists whom he looked upon as
He was astonished by the number of inquiries, even people whom he
had considered enemies left cards or sent their servants, forcing
him to the conclusion that people of position are obliged to
reserve their human kindness for those as good as dead. But the
small folk touched him daily by their genuine concern for her whose
grace and softness had won their hearts. One morning he received a
letter forwarded from Bury Street.
"DEAR MAJOR WINTON,
"I have read a paragraph in the paper about poor Mr. Summerhay's
death. And, oh, I feel so sorry for her! She was so good to me; I
do feel it most dreadfully. If you think she would like to know
how we all feel for her, you would tell her, wouldn't you? I do
think it's cruel.
"Very faithfully yours,
So they knew Summerhay's name--he had not somehow expected that.
He did not answer, not knowing what to say.
During those days of fever, the hardest thing to bear was the sound
of her rapid whisperings and mutterings--incoherent phrases that
said so little and told so much. Sometimes he would cover his
ears, to avoid hearing of that long stress of mind at which he had
now and then glimpsed. Of the actual tragedy, her wandering spirit
did not seem conscious; her lips were always telling the depth of
her love, always repeating the dread of losing his; except when
they would give a whispering laugh, uncanny and enchanting, as at
some gleam of perfect happiness. Those little laughs were worst of
all to hear; they never failed to bring tears into his eyes. But
he drew a certain gruesome comfort from the conclusion slowly
forced on him, that Summerhay's tragic death had cut short a
situation which might have had an even more tragic issue. One
night in the big chair at the side of her bed, he woke from a doze
to see her eyes fixed on him. They were different; they saw, were
her own eyes again. Her lips moved.
"Yes, my pet."
"I remember everything."
At that dreadful little saying, Winton leaned forward and put his
lips to her hand, that lay outside the clothes.
"Where is he buried?"
It was rather a sigh than a word and, raising his head, Winton saw
her eyes closed again. Now that the fever had gone, the white
transparency of her cheeks and forehead against the dark lashes and
hair was too startling. Was it a living face, or was its beauty
that of death?
He bent over. She was breathing--asleep.
The return to Mildenham was made by easy stages nearly two months
after Summerhay's death, on New Year's day--Mildenham, dark,
smelling the same, full of ghosts of the days before love began.
For little Gyp, more than five years old now, and beginning to
understand life, this was the pleasantest home yet. In watching
her becoming the spirit of the place, as she herself had been when
a child, Gyp found rest at times, a little rest. She had not
picked up much strength, was shadowy as yet, and if her face was
taken unawares, it was the saddest face one could see. Her chief
preoccupation was not being taken unawares. Alas! To Winton, her
smile was even sadder. He was at his wits' end about her that
winter and spring. She obviously made the utmost effort to keep
up, and there was nothing to do but watch and wait. No use to
force the pace. Time alone could heal--perhaps. Meanwhile, he
turned to little Gyp, so that they became more or less inseparable.
Spring came and passed. Physically, Gyp grew strong again, but
since their return to Mildenham, she had never once gone outside
the garden, never once spoken of The Red House, never once of
Summerhay. Winton had hoped that warmth and sunlight would bring
some life to her spirit, but it did not seem to. Not that she
cherished her grief, appeared, rather, to do all in her power to
forget and mask it. She only had what used to be called a broken
heart. Nothing to be done. Little Gyp, who had been told that
"Baryn" had gone away for ever, and that she must "never speak of
him for fear of making Mum sad," would sometimes stand and watch
her mother with puzzled gravity. She once remarked uncannily to
"Mum doesn't live with us, Grandy; she lives away somewhere, I
think. Is it with Baryn?"
Winton stared, and answered:
"Perhaps it is, sweetheart; but don't say that to anybody but me.
Don't ever talk of Baryn to anyone else."
"Yes, I know; but where is he, Grandy?"
What could Winton answer? Some imbecility with the words "very
far" in it; for he had not courage to broach the question of death,
that mystery so hopelessly beyond the grasp of children, and of
He rode a great deal with the child, who, like her mother before
her, was never so happy as in the saddle; but to Gyp he did not
dare suggest it. She never spoke of horses, never went to the
stables, passed all the days doing little things about the house,
gardening, and sitting at her piano, sometimes playing a little,
sometimes merely looking at the keys, her hands clasped in her lap.
This was early in the fateful summer, before any as yet felt the
world-tremors, or saw the Veil of the Temple rending and the
darkness beginning to gather. Winton had no vision of the coif
above the dark eyes of his loved one, nor of himself in a strange
brown garb, calling out old familiar words over barrack-squares.
He often thought: 'If only she had something to take her out of
In June he took his courage in both hands and proposed a visit to
London. To his surprise, she acquiesced without hesitation. They
went up in Whit-week. While they were passing Widrington, he
forced himself to an unnatural spurt of talk; and it was not till
fully quarter of an hour later that, glancing stealthily round his
paper, he saw her sitting motionless, her face turned to the fields
and tears rolling down it. And he dared not speak, dared not try
to comfort her. She made no sound, the muscles of her face no
movement; only, those tears kept rolling down. And, behind his
paper, Winton's eyes narrowed and retreated; his face hardened till
the skin seemed tight drawn over the bones, and every inch of him
The usual route from the station to Bury Street was "up," and the
cab went by narrow by-streets, town lanes where the misery of the
world is on show, where ill-looking men, draggled and over-driven
women, and the jaunty ghosts of little children in gutters and on
doorsteps proclaim, by every feature of their clay-coloured faces
and every movement of their unfed bodies, the post-datement of the
millennium; where the lean and smutted houses have a look of
dissolution indefinitely put off, and there is no more trace of
beauty than in a sewer. Gyp, leaning forward, looked out, as one
does after a long sea voyage; Winton felt her hand slip into his
and squeeze it hard.
That evening after dinner--in the room he had furnished for her
mother, where the satinwood chairs, the little Jacobean bureau, the
old brass candelabra were still much as they had been just on
thirty years ago--she said:
"Dad, I've been thinking. Would you mind if I could make a sort of
home at Mildenham where poor children could come to stay and get
good air and food? There are such thousands of them."
Strangely moved by this, the first wish he had heard her express
since the tragedy, Winton took her hand, and, looking at it as if
for answer to his question, said:
"My dear, are, you strong enough?"
"Quite. There's nothing wrong with me now except here." She drew
his hand to her and pressed it against her heart. "What's given,
one can't get back. I can't help it; I would if I could. It's
been so dreadful for you. I'm so sorry." Winton made an
unintelligible sound, and she went on: "If I had them to see after,
I shouldn't be able to think so much; the more I had to do the
better. Good for our gipsy-bird, too, to have them there. I
should like to begin it at once."
Winton nodded. Anything that she felt could do her good--anything!
"Yes, yes," he said; "I quite see--you could use the two old
cottages to start with, and we can easily run up anything you
"Only let me do it all, won't you?"
At that touch of her old self, Winton smiled. She should do
everything, pay for everything, bring a whole street of children
down, if it would give her any comfort!
"Rosamund'll help you find 'em," he muttered. "She's first-rate at
all that sort of thing." Then, looking at her fixedly, he added:
"Courage, my soul; it'll all come back some day."
Gyp forced herself to smile. Watching her, he understood only too
well the child's saying: "Mum lives away somewhere, I think."
Suddenly, she said, very low:
"And yet I wouldn't have been without it."
She was sitting, her hands clasped in her lap, two red spots high
in her cheeks, her eyes shining strangely, the faint smile still on
her lips. And Winton, staring with narrowed eyes, thought: 'Love!
Beyond measure--beyond death--it nearly kills. But one wouldn't
have been without it. Why?'
Three days later, leaving Gyp with his sister, he went back to
Mildenham to start the necessary alterations in the cottages. He
had told no one he was coming, and walked up from the station on a
perfect June day, bright and hot. When he turned through the drive
gate, into the beech-tree avenue, the leaf-shadows were thick on
the ground, with golden gleams of the invincible sunlight thrusting
their way through. The grey boles, the vivid green leaves, those
glistening sun-shafts through the shade entranced him, coming from
the dusty road. Down in the very middle of the avenue, a small,
white figure was standing, as if looking out for him. He heard a
"Oh, Grandy, you've come back--you've come back! What FUN!"
Winton took her curls in his hand, and, looking into her face,
"Well, my gipsy-bird, will you give me one of these?"
Little Gyp looked at him with flying eyes, and, hugging his legs,
"Yes; because I love you. PULL!"