Part 1 out of 9
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BENN'S ESSEX LIBRARY
_Edited by Edward G. Hawke, M.A._
_First published_ 1898
_Reprinted (Essex Library_) 1929
Arthur Symons and W.B. Yeats
Two contemporary writers
I am in sympathy_
The thin winter day had died early, and at four o'clock it was dark
night in the long room in which Mr. Innes gave his concerts of early
music. An Elizabethan virginal had come to him to be repaired, and he
had worked all the afternoon, and when overtaken by the dusk, he had
impatiently sought a candle end, lit it, and placed it so that its light
fell upon the jacks.... Only one more remained to be adjusted. He picked
it up, touched the quill and dropped it into its place, rapidly tuned
the instrument, and ran his fingers over the keys.
Iron-grey hair hung in thick locks over his forehead, and, shining
through their shadows, his eyes drew attention from the rest of his
face, so that none noticed at first the small and firmly cut nose, nor
the scanty growth of beard twisted to a point by a movement habitual to
the weak, white hand. His face was in his eyes: they reflected the flame
of faith and of mission; they were the eyes of one whom fate had thrown
on an obscure wayside of dreams, the face of a dreamer and propagandist
of old-time music and its instruments. He sat at the virginal, like one
who loved its old design and sweet tone, in such strict keeping with the
music he was playing--a piece by W. Byrd, "John, come kiss me now"--and
when it was finished, his fingers strayed into another, "Nancie," by
Thomas Morley. His hands moved over the keyboard softly, as if they
loved it, and his thoughts, though deep in the gentle music, entertained
casual admiration of the sixteenth century organ, which had lately come
into his possession, and which he could see at the end of the room on a
slightly raised platform. Its beautiful shape, and the shape of the old
instruments, vaguely perceived, lent an enchantment to the darkness. In
the corner was a viola da gamba, and against the walls a harpsichord and
Above the virginal on which Mr. Innes was playing there hung a portrait
of a woman, and, happening to look up, a sudden memory came upon him,
and he began to play an aria out of _Don Giovanni_. But he stopped
before many bars, and holding the candle end high, so that he could see
the face, continued the melody with his right hand. To see her lips and
to strike the notes was almost like hearing her sing it again. Her voice
came to him through many years, from the first evening he had heard her
sing at La Scala. Then he was a young man spending a holiday in Italy,
and she had made his fortune for the time by singing one of his songs.
They were married in Italy, and at the end of some months they had gone
to Paris and to Brussels, where Mrs. Innes had engagements to fulfil. It
was in Brussels that she had lost her voice. For a long while it was
believed that she might recover it, but these hopes proved illusory,
and, in trying to regain what she had lost irrevocably, the money she
had earned dwindled to a last few hundred pounds. The Innes had returned
to London, and, with a baby-daughter, settled in Dulwich. Mr. Innes
accepted the post of organist at St. Joseph's, the parish church in
Southwark, and Mrs. Innes had begun her singing classes.
Her reputation as a singer favoured her, and an aptitude for teaching
enabled her to maintain, for many years, a distinguished position in the
musical world. Mr. Innes's abilities contributed to their success, and
he might have become a famous London organist if he had devoted himself
to the instrument. But one day seeing in a book the words "viola
d'amore," he fancied he would like to possess an instrument with such a
name. The instrument demanded the music that had been written for it.
Byrd's beautiful vocal Mass had led him to Palestrina and Vittoria, and
these wakened in him dreams of a sufficient choir at St. Joseph's for a
revival of their works.
So when Evelyn clambered on her father's knee, it was to learn the
chants that he hummed from old manuscripts and missals, and it was the
contrapuntal fancies of the Elizabethan composers that he gave her to
play on the virginal, or the preludes of Bach on the clavichord. Her
infantile graces at these instruments were the delight and amazement of
her parents. She warbled this old-time music as other children do the
vulgar songs of the hour; she seemed less anxious to learn the operatic
music which she heard in her mother's class-rooms, and there was a shade
of uneasiness in Mrs. Innes's admiration of the beauty of Evelyn's
taste; but Mr. Innes said that it was better that her first love should
be for the best, and he could not help hoping that it would not be with
the airs of _Lucia_ and _Traviata_ that she would become famous. As if
in answer, the child began to hum the celebrated waltz, a moment after a
beautiful Ave Maria, composed by a Fleming at the end of the fifteenth
century, a quick, sobbing rhythm, expressive of naive petulance at delay
in the Virgin's intercession. Mr. Innes called it natural music--music
which the modern Church abhorred and shamefully ostracised; and the
conversation turned on the incurably bad taste and the musical misdeeds
of a certain priest, Father Gordon, whom Mr. Innes judged to be
responsible for all the bad music to be heard at St. Joseph's.
For Mr. Innes's ambition was to restore the liturgical chants of the
early centuries, from John Ockeghem, the Flemish silver-smith of Louis
XI., whose recreation it was to compose motets, to Thomas da Vittoria;
and, after having made known the works of Palestrina and of those who
gravitated around the great Roman composer, he hoped to disinter the
masses of Orlando di Lasso, of Goudimel and Josquin des Pres, the motets
of Nannini, of Felice Anerio, of Clemens non Papa.... He would go still
further back. For before this music was the plain chant or Gregorian,
bequeathed to us by the early Church, coming down to her, perhaps, from
Egyptian civilisation, the mother of all art and all religion, an
incomparable treasure which unworthy inheritors have mutilated for
centuries. It was Mr. Innes's belief that the supple, free melody of the
Gregorian was lost in the shouting of operatic tenors and organ
accompaniments. The tradition of its true interpretation had been lost,
and the text itself, but by long study of ancient missals, Mr. Innes had
penetrated the secret of the ancient notation, vague as the eyeballs of
the blind, and in the absence of a choir that could read this strange
alphabet of sound, he cherished a plan for an edition of these old
chants, re-written by him into the ordinary notation of our day. But
impassable obstacles intervened: the apathy and indifference of the
Jesuits, and their fear lest such radical innovations should prove
unpopular and divert the congregation of St. Joseph's elsewhere. He had
abandoned hope of converting them from their error, but he was confident
that reaction was preparing against the jovialities of Rossini, whose
_Stabat Mater_, he said, still desecrated Good Friday, and against the
erotics of M. Gounod and his suite. And this inevitable reaction Mr.
Innes strove to advance by his pupils. Many became disciples and helped
to preach the new musical gospel. He induced them to learn the old
instruments, and among them found material for his concerts. Though a
weak man in practical conduct, he was steadfast in his ideas. His
concerts had begun to attract a little attention; he was receiving
support from some rich amateurs, and was able to continue his propaganda
under the noses of the worthy fathers in whose church he was now
serving, but where he knew that one day he would be master.
But, unfortunately, Mr. Innes could only give a small part of his time
to these concerts. Notwithstanding his persuasiveness, there remained on
his hands some intractable pupils who would not hear of viol or
harpsichord, who insisted upon being taught to play modern masses on the
organ, and these he could not afford to refuse. For of late years his
wife's failing health had forced her to relinquish teaching, and the
burden of earning their living had fallen entirely upon him. She hoped
that a long rest might improve her in health, and that in some
months--six, she imagined as a sufficient interval--she would be able to
undertake in full earnestness her daughter's education. To do this had
become her dearest wish; for there could now be little doubt that Evelyn
had inherited her voice, the same beautiful quality and fluency in
vocalisation; and thinking of it, Mrs. Innes held out her hands and
looked at them, striving to read in them the progress of her illness.
Evelyn wondered why, just at that moment, her father had turned from the
bedside overcome by sudden tears. But whoever dies, life goes on the
same, our interests and necessities brook little interference.
Meal-times are always fixed times, and when father and daughter met in
the parlour--it was just below the room in which Mrs. Innes was
dying--Evelyn asked why her mother had looked at her hands so
He said that it was thus her mother foreshadowed Violetta's death, when
Armand's visit is announced to her.
In the silence which followed this explanation their souls seemed to say
what their lips could not. Sympathies and perceptions hitherto dormant
were awakened; he recognised in her, and she, in herself, an unsuspected
inheritance. Her voice she had received from her mother, but all else
came from her father. She felt his life and character stirring in her,
and moved as by a new instinct, she sat by his side, holding his hand.
They sat waiting for the announcement of the death which could not be
delayed much longer, and each thought of the difference the passing
would make in their lives! It was her death that had brought them
together, that had given them a new and mutual life. And in those hours
their eyes had seemed to seal a compact of love and fealty.
This was three years ago; but since Mrs. Innes's death very little had
been done with Evelyn's voice. The Jesuits had spent money in increasing
their choir and orchestra, and Mr. Innes was constantly rehearsing the
latest novelties in religious music. All his spare time was occupied
with private teaching; and discovering in his daughter a real aptitude
for the lute, he had taught her that instrument, likewise the viola da
gamba, for which she soon displayed even more original talent. She
played both instruments at his concerts, and as several pupils offered
themselves, he encouraged her to give lessons--he had made of her an
excellent musician, able to write fugue and counterpoint; only the
production of the voice he had neglected. Now and again, in a fit of
repentance, he had insisted on her singing some scales, but his heart
was not in the lesson, and it fell through.
He was suspicious that she knew she could not learn singing from him;
but an avowal of his inability to teach her would necessitate some
departure from his own ideas, and, like all men with a mission, Mr.
Innes was deficient in moral courage, and in spite of himself he evaded
all that did not coincide with the purpose of his life. He loved his
daughter above everything, except his music, and the thought that he was
sacrificing her to his ambition afflicted him with cruel assaults of
conscience. Often he asked himself if he were capable of redeeming his
promise to his dead wife, or if he shirked the uncongenial labour it
entailed? And it was this tormenting question that had impelled him to
light the candle, and raise it so that he could better see his wife's
Though an indifferent painting, the picture was elaborately like the
sitter. The pointed oval of the face had been faithfully drawn, and its
straight nose and small brown eyes were set characteristically in the
head. Remembering a photograph of his daughter, Mr. Innes fetched it
from the other end of the room, and stood with it under the portrait, so
that he could compare both faces, feature by feature. Evelyn's face was
rounder, her eyes were not deep-set like her mother's; they lay nearly
on the surface, pools of light illuminating a very white and flower-like
complexion. The nose was short and high; the line of the chin deflected,
giving an expression of wistfulness to the face in certain aspects. Her
father was still bent in examination of the photograph when she entered.
It was very like her, and at first sight Nature revealed only two more
significant facts: her height--she was a tall girl--and a beautiful
undulation in her walk, occasioned by the slight droop in her shoulders.
She was dressed in dark green woollen, with a large hat to match.
"Well, darling! and how have you been getting on?"
The vague pathos of his grey face was met by the bright effusion of
hers, and throwing her arms about him, she kissed him on the cheek.
"Pretty well, dear; pretty well."
"Only pretty well," she answered reproachfully. "No one has been here to
interrupt you; you have had all the afternoon for finishing that
virginal, and you've only been getting on 'pretty well.' But I see your
necktie has come undone."
Then overlooking him from head to foot--
"Well, you have been making a day of it."
"Oh, these are my old clothes--that is glue; don't look at me--I had an
accident with the glue-pot; and that's paint. Yes; I must get some new
shirts, these won't hold a button any longer."
The conversation paused a few seconds, then running her finger down the
keys, she said--
"But it goes admirably."
"Yes; I've finished it now; it is an exquisite instrument. I could not
leave it till it was finished."
"Then what are you complaining of, darling? Has Father Gordon been here?
Has he discovered any new Belgian composer, and does he want all his
music to be given at St. Joseph's?"
"No; Father Gordon hasn't been here, and as for the Belgian composers,
there are none left; he has discovered them all."
"Then you've been thinking about me, about my voice.
That's it," she said, catching sight of her own photograph. "You've
been frowning over that photograph, thinking"--her eyes went up to her
mother's portrait--"all sorts of nonsense, making yourself miserable,
reproaching yourself that you do not teach me to vocalise, a thing which
you know nothing about, or lamenting that you are not rich enough to
send me abroad, where I could be taught it." Then, with a pensive note
in her voice which did not escape him, she said--
"As if there was any need to worry. I'm not twenty yet."
"No, you're not twenty yet, but you will be very soon. Time is going
"Well, let time go by, I don't care. I'm happy here with you, father. I
wouldn't go away, even if you had the money to send me. I intend to help
you make the concerts a success. Then, perhaps, I shall go abroad."
His heart went out to his daughter. He was proud of her, and her fine
nature was a compensation for many disappointments. He took her in his
arms and thankfully kissed her. She was touched by his emotion, and
conscious that her eyes were threatening tears, she said--
"I can't stand this gloom. I must have some light. I'll go and get a
lamp. Besides, it must be getting late. I wonder what kind of a dinner
Margaret has got for us. I left it to her. A good one, I hope. I'm
A few minutes after she appeared in the doorway, holding a lamp high,
the light showing over her white skin and pale gold hair. "Margaret has
excelled herself--boiled haddock, melted butter, a neck of mutton and a
rice pudding. And I have brought back a bag of oranges. Now come,
darling. You've done enough to that virginal. Run upstairs and wash your
hands, and remember that the fish is getting cold."
She was waiting for him in the little back room--the lamp was on the
table--and when they sat down to dinner she began the tale of her day's
doings. But she hadn't got farther than the fact that they had asked her
to stay to tea at Queen's Gate, when her tongue, which always went quite
as fast as her thoughts, betrayed her, and before she was aware, she had
said that her pupil's sister was in delicate health and that the family
was going abroad for the winter. This was equivalent to saying she had
lost a pupil. So she rattled on, hoping that her father would not
perceive the inference.
"There doesn't seem to be much luck about at present," he said. "That's
the third pupil you've lost this month."
"It is unfortunate ... and just as I was beginning to save a little
money." A moment after her voice had recovered its habitual note of
cheerfulness. "Then what do you think I did? An idea struck me; I took
the omnibus and went straight to St. James's Hall."
"To St. James's Hall!"
"Yes, you old darling; don't you know that M. Desjardin, the French
composer, has come over to give a series of concerts. I thought I should
like him to try my voice."
"You didn't see him?"
"Yes I did. When I asked for him, the clerk said, pointing to a
gentleman coming downstairs, that is Monsieur Desjardin. I went straight
up to him, and told him who I was, and asked him if he had ever heard of
mother. Just fancy, he never had; but he seemed interested when I told
him that everyone said my voice was as good as mother's. We went into
the hall, and I sang to him."
"What did you sing to him?"
"'Have you seen but a white lily grow?' and 'Que vous me coutez cher,
mon coeur, pour vos plaisirs.'"
"Ah! that music must have surprised him. What did he say?"
"I don't think I sang very well, but he seemed pleased, and asked me if
I knew any modern music. I said 'Very little.' He was surprised at that.
But he said I had a very fine voice, and sang the old music beautifully,
but that it would be impossible for me to sing modern music without
ruining my voice, until I had been taught. I asked him if it would not
be well to try to earn a little money by concert singing, so that I
might go abroad later on. He said, 'I am glad that all my arrangements
are made, otherwise I might be tempted to offer you an engagement. One
engagement leads to another, and if you sing before your voice is
properly placed'--'posee' was the word he used--'you will ruin it.'"
"Is that all?"
"Yes, that's all." Then, noticing the pained look that had come into her
father's face, she added, "It was nice to hear that he thought well of
But she could tell what he was thinking of, and regretting her tongue's
indiscretion, she tried to divert his thoughts from herself. His
brooding look continued, and to remove it she had to fetch his pipe and
tobacco. When he had filled it for the third time he said--
"There is the Bach and the Handel sonata waiting for us; we ought to be
getting to work."
"I'm quite ready, father. I suppose I must not eat any more oranges,"
and she surveyed her plate full of skins.
Mr. Innes took up the lamp, Evelyn called to the servant to get another,
and followed him into the music-room. The lamps were placed on the
harpsichord. She lighted some candles, and in the moods and aspirations
of great men they found a fairyland, and the lights disappeared from the
windows opposite, leaving them still there.
The wings of the hours were light--weariness could not reach them--and
at half-past eleven Mr. Innes was speaking of a beautiful motet, "O
Magnum Mysterium," by Vittoria. His fingers lingered in the wailing
chords, and he said--
"That is where Wagner went for his chorus of youths in the cupola. The
critics haven't discovered it yet; they are still talking of
Jesuits from St. Joseph's were not infrequently seen at Mr. Innes's
concerts. The worthy fathers, although they did not see their way to
guaranteeing a yearly grant of money sufficient to ensure adequate
performances of Palestrina's finest works, were glad to support, with
occasional guineas, their organist's concerts. Painters and men of
letters were attracted by them; musicians seldom. Nor did Mr. Innes
encourage their presence. Musicians were of no use to him. They were, he
said, divided into two classes--those who came to scoff, and those who
came to steal. He did not want either sort.
The rare music interested but a handful, and the audience that had come
from London shivered in remembrance of the east wind which had
accompanied their journey. But this little martyrdom did not seem to be
entirely without its satisfactions, and conscious of superiority, they
settled themselves to listen to the few words of explanation with which
Mr. Innes was accustomed to introduce the music that was going to be
played. He was speaking, when he was interrupted by the servant-maid,
who whispered and gave him a card: "Sir Owen Asher, Bart., 27 Berkeley
Square." He left the room hurriedly, and his audience surmised from his
manner that something important had happened.
Sir Owen, seemingly a tall man, certainly above the medium height, was
waiting for him in the passage. His thin figure was wrapped tightly in
an overcoat, most of his face was concealed in the collar, and the pale
gold-coloured moustache showed in contrast to the dark brown fur. The
face, wide across the forehead, acquired an accent in the pointed chin
and strongly marked jaw. The straight nose was thin and well shaped in
the nostrils. "An attractive man of forty" would be the criticism of a
woman. Sir Owen's attractiveness concentrated in his sparkling eyes and
his manner, which was at once courteous and manly. He told Mr. Innes
that he had heard of his concerts that morning at the office of the
_Wagnerian Review_, and Mr. Innes indulged in his habitual dream of a
wealthy patron who would help him to realise his musical ambitions. Sir
Owen had just bought the periodical, he intended to make it an organ of
advanced musical culture, and would like to include a criticism of these
concerts. Mr. Innes begged Sir Owen to come into the concert-room. But
while taking off his coat, Sir Owen mentioned what he had heard
regarding Mr. Innes's desire to revive the vocal masses of the sixteenth
century at St. Joseph's, and the interest of this conversation delayed
them a little in the passage.
The baronet's evening clothes were too well cut for those of a poet, a
designer of wall paper, or a journalist, and his hands were too white
and well cared for at the nails. His hair was pale brown, curling a
little at the ends, and carefully brushed and looking as if it had been
freshened by some faintest application of perfumed essence. Three pearl
studs fastened his shirt front, and his necktie was tied in a butterfly
bow. He displayed some of the nonchalant ease which wealth and position
create, smiled a little on catching sight of the jersey worn by a lady
who had neglected to fasten the back of her bodice, and strove to
decipher the impression the faces conveyed to him. He grew aware of that
flitting anxiety which is inseparable from the task of finding a daily
living, and that pathos which tells of fidelity to idea and abstinence
from gross pleasure. A young man, who stood apart, in a carefully
studied attitude, a dark lock of hair falling over his forehead, amused
him, and the young man in the chair next Sir Owen wore a threadbare coat
and clumsy boots, and sat bolt upright. Sir Owen pitied him and imagined
him working all day in some obscure employment, finding his life's
pleasure once a week in a score by Bach. Catching sight of a priest's
profile, a look of contempt appeared on his face.
He was of his class, he had lived its life and lived it still, in a
measure, but from the beginning his ideas and tastes had been superior
to those of a merely fashionable man. At five-and-twenty he had
purchased a Gainsborough, and at thirty he had spent a large sum of
money in exhuming some sonatas of Bach from the dust in which they were
lying. At three-and-thirty he had wrecked the career of a fashionable
soprano by inspiring her with the belief that she might become a great
singer, a great artist; at five-and-thirty Bayreuth and its world of
musical culture and ideas had interested him in spite of his
unconquerable aversion to long hair and dirty hands. After some
association with geniuses he withdrew from the art-world, confessing
himself unable to bear the society of those who did not dress for
dinner; but while repudiating, he continued to spy the art-world from a
distance. An audience is, however, necessary to a 'cello player, and the
Turf Club and the Royal Yacht Club contained not a dozen members, he
said, who would recognise the Heroica Symphony if they happened to hear
it, which was not likely. Lately he had declared openly that he was
afraid of entering any of his clubs, lest he should be asked once more
what he thought of the Spring Handicaps, and if he intended sailing the
_Medusa_ in the Solent this season. Nevertheless, his journey to
Bayreuth could not but produce an effect. He had purchased the
_Wagnerian Review_; it had led him to Mr. Innes's concerts, and he was
already interested in the prospect of reviving the early music and its
instruments. That this new movement should be begun in Dulwich, a suburb
he would never have heard of if it had not been for its picture gallery,
stimulated his curiosity.
It is the variation, not the ordinary specimen, that is most typical,
for the variation contains the rule in essence, and the deviation
elucidates the rule. So in his revolt against the habitual pleasures and
ideas of his class, Sir Owen became more explanatory of that class than
if he had acquiesced in the usual ignorance of L20,000 a year. To the
ordinary eye he was merely the conventional standard of the English
upper classes, but more intimate observation revealed the slight glaze
of Bohemianism which natural inclination and many adventures in that
land had left upon him. He listened without parade, his grey eyes
following the music--they, not the head, seeming to nod to it; and when
Mr. Innes approached to ask him his opinion, he sprang to his feet to
One of the pieces they had heard was a pavane for five viols and a
harpsichord, composed by Ferrabosco, son of the Italian musician who had
settled in Greenwich at the end of the sixteenth century. Sir Owen was
extraordinarily pleased and interested, and declared the pavane to be as
complete as a sonata by Bach or Beethoven; but his appreciation was
suddenly interrupted by someone looking at him.
At a little distance, Evelyn stood looking at him. The moment she had
seen him she had stopped, and her eyes were delighted as by a vision.
Though he represented to her the completely unknown, she seemed to have
known him always in her heart; she seemed to have been waiting for
knowledge of this unknown, and the rumour of the future grew loud in her
He raised his eyes and saw a tall, fair girl dressed in pale green. Mr.
Innes introduced them.
"My daughter--Sir Owen Asher."
In the little while which he took to decide whether he would take tea or
coffee, he thought that something could be said for her figure, and he
liked her hair, but, on the whole, he did not think he cared for her.
She seemed to him an unimportant variety of what he had met before. He
said he would take tea, and then he changed his mind and said he would
have coffee, but Evelyn came back with a cup of tea, and perceiving her
mistake, she laughed abstractedly.
"You are going to sing two songs, Miss Innes. I'm glad; I hear your
voice is wonderful."
The sound of his voice conveyed a penetrating sense of his presence. It
was the same happiness which the very sight of him had awakened in her,
and she felt herself yielding to it as to a current. She was borne far
away into mists of dream, where she seemed to live a long while. Time
seemed to have ceased and the outside world to have fallen behind her.
The sensation was the most delicious she had ever experienced. She
hardly heard the answers that she made to his questions, and when her
father called her, it was like returning after a long absence.
She sang much more beautifully than he had expected, and during the
preludes and fugues and the sonatas by Bach, which finished the
programme, he thought of her voice, occasionally questioning himself
regarding his taste for her. Even in this short while he had come to
like her better. She had beautiful teeth and hair, and he liked her
figure, notwithstanding the fact that her shoulders sloped a
little--perhaps because they did slope a little. He noticed, whether her
eyes wandered or remained fixed, that they returned to him, and that
their glance was one of interrogation, as if all depended upon him. When
the concert was over he was anxious to speak to her, so that he grew
impatient with the people who stopped his way. The back room was filled
with musical instruments--there were two harpsichords, a clavichord and
an organ, and Mr. Innes insisted on explaining these instruments to him.
He seemed to Owen to pay too slight a heed to his daughter's voice. That
she played the viola da gamba very well was true enough, but what sense
was there in a girl like that playing an instrument? Her voice was her
When he was able to get a few words with her, he told her about Madame
Savelli. There was no one else, he said, who could teach singing. She
must go to France at once, and he seemed to take it for granted that she
might start at the end of the week, if she only made up her mind. She
did not know what answer to make, and was painfully conscious how silly
she must look standing before him unable to say a word. It was no longer
the same; some of the dream had been swept aside, and reality had begun
to look through it. Her intense consciousness of this tall, aristocratic
man frightened her. She saw the embroidered waistcoat, the slight hips,
the gold moustache, and the sparkling grey eyes asked her questions to
which her whole nature violently responded, and, though her feelings
were inexplicable to herself, she was overcome with physical shame.
Father Railston was looking at her, and the thought crossed her mind
that he would not approve of Sir Owen Asher. Feeling very uncomfortable,
she seized an opportunity of saying good-bye to a friend, and escaped
from Sir Owen, leaving him, as she knew, under the impression that she
was a little fool not worth taking further trouble about. But his ideas
were different from all that she had been taught, and it would be better
if she never saw him again. She did not doubt, however, that she would
see him again, and when, two days after, the servant announced him and
he walked into the music room, she was less surprised than her father.
The review, he said, could not go to press without an article on the
concert, but to do this article he must consult Mr. Innes, for in the
first piece, "La my," the viols had seemed to him out of tune. Of course
this was not so--perhaps one of the players had played a wrong note;
that might be the explanation. But on referring to the music, Mr. Innes
discovered a better one. "From the twelfth to the fifteenth century,
writers," he said, "did not consider their music as moderns do. Now we
watch the effect of a chord, a combination of notes heard at the same
moment, the top note of which is the tune, but the older writers used
their skill in divining musical phrases which could be followed
simultaneously, each one going logically its own way, irrespective of
some temporary clashing. They considered their music horizontally, as
the parts went on; we consider it vertically, each chord producing its
impression in turn. To them all the parts were of equal importance.
Their music was a purely decorative interweaving of melodies. Now we
have a tune with accompanying parts."
"What a wonderful knowledge of music your father has, Miss Innes!"
"Yes, father reads old MSS. that no one else can decipher."
"These discords happened," Mr. Innes said, as he went to the
harpsichord, "when a composition was based upon some old plain song
melody, the notes of which could not be altered. Then the musician did
not scruple to write in one of the other parts the same note altered by
a sharp or flat to suit the passing requirement of the musical phrase
allotted to that part. You could thus have together, say an F natural in
one part and an F sharp in another. This to modern ears, not trained to
understanding the meaning of the two parts, is intolerable."
While he spoke of the relative fineness of the ancient and modern ear,
maintaining that the reason ancient singers could sing without an
accompaniment was that they were trained to sing from the monochord,
Owen considered the figure of this tall, fair girl, and wondered if she
would elect to remain with her father, playing the viola da gamba in
Dulwich, or bolt with a manager--that was what generally happened. Her
father was a most interesting old man, a genius in his way, but just
such an one as might prove his daughter's ruin. He would keep her
singing the old music, perhaps marry her to a clerk, and she would be a
fat, prosaic mother of three in five years.
However this might be, he, Owen, was interested in her voice, and, if he
had never met Georgina, he might have liked this girl. It would be
better that he should take her away than that she should go away with a
manager who would rob and beat her. But, if he were to take her away, he
would be tied to her; it would be like marrying her. Far better stick to
married women, and he remembered his epigram of last night. It was at
Lady. Ascott's dinner-party, the conversation had turned on marriage,
and its necessity had been questioned. "But, of course, marriage is
necessary," he had answered. "You can't have husbands without marriage,
and if there were no husbands, who would look after our mistresses?" A
lot of hypocrites had chosen to look shocked; Georgina had said it was a
horrid remark and had hardly spoken to him all the evening; and this
afternoon she had said she should not come and see him any more--she was
afraid her husband suspected, her children were growing up, etc. When
women cease to care for one, how importunate their consciences are! A
little terror took him, and he wondered if he were about to lose
Georgina, or if she were only trying to make him jealous. Perhaps he
could not do better than make her jealous. For that purpose this young
girl was just the thing.
Moreover, he was interested in the revival of Palestrina at St.
Joseph's, and he liked Ferrabosco's pavane. He would like to have a
harpsichord; even if he did not play on it much, it would be a
beautiful, characteristic piece of furniture.... And it would be a good
idea to ask Mr. Innes to bring all his queer instruments to Berkeley
Square, and give a concert to-morrow night after his dinner-party. His
friends had bored him with Hungarian bands, and the improvisations the
bands had been improvising for the last ten years, and he saw no reason
why he should not bore them, just for a change, with Mr. Innes.
At this moment his reflections were interrupted by Mr. Innes, who wanted
to know if he did not agree with him regarding the necessity for the
re-introduction of the monochord, if the sixteenth century masses were
ever to be sung again properly. All this was old story to Evelyn. In a
sort of dream, through a sort of mist, she saw the embroidered waistcoat
and the gold moustache, and when the small, grey, smiling eyes were
raised from her father's face and looked at her, a delicious sensation
penetrated through the very tissues of her flesh, and she experienced
the tremor of a decisive moment; and then there came again a gentle
sense of delicious bewilderment and illusion.
She did not know how it would all happen, but her life seemed for the
first time to have come to a definite issue. The very moment he had
spoken of Madame Savelli, the great singing mistress, it was as if a
light had begun in her brain, and she saw a faint horizon line; she
seemed to see Paris from afar; she knew she would go there to study, and
that night she had fallen asleep listening to the applause of three
But she did not like to stand before him, offering him first the cup of
tea, then the milk and sugar, then the cake, and bread and butter. Her
repugnance had nothing to do with him; it was an obscure feeling, quite
incomprehensible to herself. When he looked up she answered him with a
smile which she felt to be mysterious, and he perceived its mystery, for
he compared it to the hesitating smile of the Monna Lisa, a print of
which hung on the wall. But the remark increased her foreboding and
premonition. And she was sorry for her father, who was saying that he
hoped to send her abroad in the spring; that he would have done so
before, but she was studying harmony with him. And she could see that
Owen was bored. He was only staying on in the hope of speaking to her,
but she knew that her father was not going out, so there was no chance
of their having a few words together. His invitation to Mr. Innes to
bring the instruments to London, and give a concert to-morrow night at
Berkeley Square, he had reserved till the moment he had got up to go.
Mr. Innes was taken aback. He doubted if there would be time to get the
instruments to London. But Owen said that all that was necessary was a
Pickford van, and that if he would say "Yes," the van and a competent
staff of packers would be at Dulwich in the morning, and would take all
further trouble off his hands. The question was debated. Mr. Innes
thought the instruments had better go by train, and Owen could not help
smiling when he said that he would arrive with the big harpsichord and
Evelyn about nine or half-past.
She had two evening gowns--a pale green silk and a white. The pale green
looked very nice; it had cost her three pounds. The white had nearly
ruined her, but it had seemed to suit her so well that she had not been
able to resist, and had paid five pounds ten, a great deal for her to
spend on a dress. Its great fault was that it soiled at the least touch.
She had worn it three times, and could not wear it again till it had
been cleaned. It was a pity, but there was no help for it. She would
have to wear the green, and to console herself she thought of the
compliments she had had for it at different parties. But these seemed
insignificant when she thought of the party she was going to to-night.
She had never been to Berkeley Square, and expected to be surprised. But
it lay in a hollow, a dignified, secluded square, exactly as she had
imagined it. Nor did the great doorway, and the carpet that stretched
across the pavement for her to walk upon, surprise her, nor the lines of
footmen, nor the natural grace of the wide staircase. She seemed to have
seen it all before, only she could not remember where. It came back to
her like a dream. She seemed to recognise the pictures of the goddesses,
the Holy Families and the gold mirrors; and lifting her eyes, she saw
Owen at the head of the stairs, and he smiled so familiarly, that it
seemed strange to think that this was only the third time she had seen
He introduced her father to a fashionable musician, whose pavanes and
sonatas were composed with that lack of matter and excess of erudition
which delight the amateur and irritate the artist, and he walked down
the rooms looking for seats where they could talk undisturbed for a few
minutes. He was nervous lest Georgina should find him sitting with this
girl in an intimate corner, but he did not expect her for another
half-hour, and could not resist the temptation. He was curious to know
how far Evelyn acquiesced in the obscure lot which her father imposed
upon her, to play the viola da gamba, and sing old music, instead of
singing for her own fame upon the stage. But had she a great voice? If
she had, he would like to help her. The discovery of a new prima donna
would be a fine feather in his cap. Above all, he was also curious to
find out if she were the innocent maiden she appeared to be, or if she
had had flirtations with the clerks in the neighbourhood, and he found
his opportunity to speak to her on this subject in the first line of a
French song she was going to sing:--
"Que vous me coutez cher, mon coeur, pour vos plaisirs."
His appreciation of her changed every moment. Truly her eyes lit up with
a beautiful light, and her remarks about the length of our payment for
our pleasures revealed an apprehension which he had not credited her
with. But he was alarmed at the quickness with which they had strayed to
the very verge of things: From the other room they would seem very
intimate, sitting on a sofa together, and he was expecting Georgina
every minute. If she were to see them, it would lead to further
discussion, and supply her with an excuse. But his curiosity was
kindled, and while he considered how he could lead Evelyn into
confidences, he saw her arm trembling through the gauze sleeve, for it
seemed to her that all that was happening now had happened before. The
walls covered with red pleated silk, the bracket-clocks, the
brocade-covered chairs: where had she seen them? And Owen's grey eyes
fixed upon her: where had she seen them? In a dream perhaps. She asked
him if he had ever experienced the sensation of having already lived
through a scene that was happening at the very moment. He did not seem
to hear; he seemed expecting someone; and then the vision returned to
her again, and she could not but think that she had known Sir Owen long
ago, but how and where she could not tell. At that moment she noticed
his absent-mindedness, and it was suddenly flashed upon her that he was
in love with some woman and was waiting for her, and almost at the same
moment she saw a tall, red-haired woman cross the further room. The
woman paused in the doorway, as if looking for someone. She nodded to
Owen and engaged in conversation with a group of men standing by the
fireplace. Something told Evelyn that that smooth, cream-coloured neck
was the woman Owen was in love with, and the sudden formality of his
manner convinced her that she was right, that that was the woman he was
in love with. He said that he must go and see after his other guests,
and, as she expected, he went straight to the woman with the red hair.
But she did not leave her friends. After shaking hands with Owen, she
continued talking to them, and he was left out of the conversation.
The concert began with a sonata for the harpsichord and the viola da
gamba, and then Evelyn sang her two songs. She sang for Owen, and it
seemed to her that she was telling him that she was sorry that it had
all happened as it had happened, and that he must go away and be happy
with the woman he loved. She did not think that she sang particularly
well, but Owen came and told her that she had sung charmingly, and in
their eyes were strange questions and excuses, and an avowal of regret
that things were not different. Slim women in delicious gowns glided up
and praised her, but she did not think that they had been as much
impressed by her singing as they said; distinguished men were introduced
to her, and she felt she had nothing to say to them; and looking round
the circle of men and women she saw Owen in the doorway, and noticed
that his eyes were restless and constantly wandered in the direction of
the tall woman with the red hair, who sat calmly talking to her friends,
never noticing him. He seemed waiting for a look that never came; his
glances were furtive and quickly withdrawn, as if he feared he was being
watched. When she got up to leave, Owen came forward and spoke to her,
but she barely replied, and left the room alone. Evelyn saw all this,
and she was surprised when Owen came rapidly through the room and sat
down by her. He was painfully absent-minded, and so nervous that he did
not seem to know what he was saying: indeed, that was the only excuse
she could make for his remarks. She hardly recognised this man as the
man she had hitherto known. She hated all his sentiments and his ideas;
she thought them horrid, and was glad when her father came to tell her
it was time for her to go.
"You didn't sing well," he said, as they went home. "What was the matter
Owen and the red-haired lady seemed to fall behind this last misfortune.
If she had lost her voice she was no longer herself, and as she went to
her teaching she saw herself a music mistress to the end of her days.
But on Sunday morning she came down stairs singing, and Mr. Innes heard
a future prima donna in her voice. Her face lit up, and she said, "Do
you think so, dear. It was unlucky I sang so badly the other night. I
seemed to have no voice at all."
He told her that there were times when her mother suddenly lost her
"But, father, you are not fit to go out, and can't go out in that
"What is the matter?" and his hand went to his shirt collar.
"No, your necktie is all right. Ah! there you've untied it; I'll tie it
for you. It's your coat that wants brushing."
The black frock coat which he wore on Sundays was too small for him. If
he buttoned it, it wrinkled round the waist and across the chest; if he
left it open, its meagre width and the shortness of the skirts (they
were the fashion of more than ten years ago) made it seem ridiculous.
At the elbows the cloth was shiny with long wear, and the cuffs were
frayed. His hat was as antiquated as his coat. It was a mere pulp,
greasy inside and brown outside; the brim was too small, it was too low
in the crown, and after the severest brushing it remained rough like a
blanket. Evelyn handed it back to him in despair. He thanked his
daughter, put it on his head, and forgot its appearance. But in spite of
shabby coat and shabbier hat, Mr. Innes remained free from suspicion of
vulgarity--the sad dignity of his grey face and the dreams that haunted
his eyes saved him from that.
"And whose mass are you going to play to-day?" she asked him.
"A mass by Hummel, in B; on Thursday, a mass by Dr. Gladstone; and next
Sunday, Mozart's Twelfth, beloved of Father Gordon and village choirs. I
wonder if he will allow the Reproaches to be sung in Holy Week? He will
insist on the expense of the double choir."
"But, father, do you think that the congregation of St. Joseph's is one
that would care for the refinement of Palestrina? Would you not require
a cultivated West-end audience--the Oratory or Farm Street?"
"That is Sir Owen's opinion."
"I never heard him say so."
How had she come to repeat anything she had heard him say? Moreover, why
had she said that she had not heard him say so? And Evelyn argued with
herself until the train reached their station--it was one of those
absurd little mental complications, the infinitesimal life that
flourishes deep in the soul.
A little way down a side street, a few yards from the main thoroughfare,
where the roads branched, the great gaunt facade of St. Joseph's pointed
against a yellow sky. Its foundations had been laid and its walls built
by a priest, who had collected large sums of money in America, and whose
desire had been to have the largest church that could be built for the
least money, in the shortest possible time. The result was the great,
sprawling, grey stone building with a desolate spire, now fading into
the darkness of the snow-storm. Money had run short. The church had not
been completed when its founder died; then another energetic priest had
raised another subscription. Doors and stained glass had been added,
and, for a while, St. Joseph's had become a flourishing parish church,
supported by various suburbs, and projects for the completion of its
interior decoration had begun to be entertained; but while these
projects were under consideration, the suburbs had acquired churches of
their own, and the congregation of St. Joseph's had dwindled until it
had lost all means of support, except the meagre assistance it received
from the poor Irish and Italians of the neighbourhood. There had been
talk of closing the church, and it would have had to be closed if the
Jesuits had not accepted the mission. Another subscription had been
started, but the greater part of this third subscription the Jesuits had
spent upon their schools, so the fate of St. Joseph's seemed to be to
remain, as someone had said, an unfinished ruin. Their resources were
exhausted, and they surveyed the barren aisles, dreaming of the painting
and mosaics they would put up when the promises of Father Gordon were
realised. For it was understood that their fortunes should be retrieved
by his musical abilities, and his competence to select the most
attractive masses. Father Gordon was a type often found among amateur
musicians--a man with a slight technical knowledge, a good ear, a nice
voice, and absolutely no taste whatever. His natural ear was for obvious
rhythm, his taste coincided with the popular taste, and as the necessity
of attracting a congregation was paramount, it is easy to imagine how
easily he conceded to his natural inclinations. And the arguments with
which he rebutted those of his opponents were unanswerable, that
whatever moved the heart to the love of God was right; that if the plain
chant failed to help the soul to aspiration, we were justified in
substituting Rossini's _Stabat Mater_, or whatever other musical idiom
the neighbourhood craved for.
Religious rite, according to Father Gordon, should conform to the
artistic taste of the congregation, and he urged, with some force, that
the artistic taste of Southwark stood on quite as high a level as that
of Mayfair. To get a Mayfair audience they had only to follow the taste
of Southwark. And so, under his guidance, the Jesuits had increased
their orchestra and employed the best tenors that could be hired.
Nevertheless, their progress was slow. Father Gordon pleaded patience.
The neighbourhood was unfashionable; it was difficult to persuade their
friends to come so far. Mr. Innes answered that if they gave him a choir
of forty-five voices--he could do nothing with less--the West-end would
come at once to hear Palestrina. The distance, and the fact of the
church being in a slum, he maintained, would not be in itself a
drawback. Half the success of Bayreuth, he urged, is owing to its being
so far off. And this plan, too, seemed to possess some elements of
success, and so the Jesuits hesitated between very divergent methods by
which the same result might be attained.
A few flakes of snow were falling, and Evelyn and her father put up
their umbrellas as they crossed the road to the church. Three steps led
to the pointed door above which was the figure of the patron saint.
The nakedness of the unfinished and undecorated church was hidden in the
twilight of the approaching storm, and Evelyn trembled as she walked up
the aisle, so menacing seemed the darkness that descended from the sky.
The stained glass, blackened by the smoke of the factory chimneys, let
in but little light, the aisles were plunged in darkness, and kneeling
in her favourite place the ineffectual gaslight seemed to her like
painted flames on a dark background. The side chapels which opened on to
the aisles were shut off by no ornamental screens, indeed, the only
piece of decoration seemed to be the fine modern ironwork which veiled
She opened her prayer book, but in the shadow of the pillar where she
was kneeling there was not sufficient light for her to read, so she bent
her face upon her hands, intent upon losing herself in prayer. She
abased herself before her Father in Heaven; attaining once more the
wonderful human moment when the creature who crouches on this rim of
earth implores pardon for her trespass from the beneficent Creator of
things. But to-day her devotional mood was interrupted by sudden thought
and sensation of Owen's presence; she was forced to look up, and
convinced that he was very near her, she sought him amid the crowd of
people who sat and knelt in front of her, blackening the dusk, a vague
darkness in which she could at first distinguish nothing but an
occasional white plume and a bald head. But her eyes grew accustomed to
the darkness, and above the uninteresting backs of middle-aged men she
recognised his thin sharp shoulders. She had been compelled to look up
from her prayers, and she wondered if he had been thinking of her. If
so, it was very wrong of him to interrupt her at her prayers. But a
sensation of pleasure arose spontaneously in her. At that moment he had
to remove his hat from the chair on which he had placed it, and she
noticed the gold stud links in his large shirt cuffs, the rough material
of which the coat was made, and how well it lay along the thin arm. She
imagined the look of vexation on the grave interesting face, and laughed
a little to herself. What was the poor woman to do? She had a right to
her chair. But she did look so frightened, and was visibly perturbed by
the presence of so fine a gentleman. Evelyn knew the woman by sight--a
curious thin and crooked creature, who wore a strange bonnet and a
little black mantle, and walked up the church, her hands crossed like a
No doubt he had driven all the way from Berkeley Square. She could see
him leaning back in his brougham, humming various music, or plaintively
thinking about the lady with the red hair, who did not care for him. Her
breath caught her in the throat. That was the reason why he had come to
St. Joseph's. It was all over with the red-haired lady, and it was for
her that he had come to St. Joseph's! But that could not be.... She saw
him moving in rich and elegant society, where everyone had a title, and
the narrowness of her life compared with his dismayed her. It was
impossible that he could care for her. She was remaining in Dulwich,
with nothing but a few music lessons to look forward to.... But when she
reached the operatic stage her life would be like his, and the vision
of her future passed before her eyes--diamonds in stars, baskets of
wonderful flowers, applause, and the perfume of a love story, swinging
like a censer over it all.
At that moment the priests entered; mass began. She opened her prayer
book, but, however firmly she fixed her thoughts in prayer, they sprang
back, without her knowing it, to Owen and the red-haired woman, with the
smooth, cream-coloured shoulders. Without being aware of it, she was
looking at him, and it was such a delight to think of him that she could
not refrain. His chair was the last on the third line from the altar
rail, and she noticed that he wore patent leather shoes; the hitching of
the dark grey trousers displayed a silk sock; but he suddenly uncrossed
his legs, and assumed a less negligent attitude. In a sudden little
melancholy she remembered how he had watched the woman with the red
hair, and the determined indifference of this woman's face as she left
the room. Immediately after she was amused at the way in which his face
expressed his opinion of the music, and she had to admit to herself that
he listened as if he understood it.
It was not until her father began to play the offertory, one of
Schubert's beautiful inspirations, that she noticed the look of real
delight that held the florid profile till the last note, and for some
seconds after. "He certainly does love music," she thought; and when the
bell rang for the Elevation, she bowed her head and became aware of the
Real Presence. When it rang a second time she felt life stifle in her.
When it rang a third time she again became conscious of time and place.
But the sensation of awe which the accomplishment of the mystery had
inspired was dissipated in the tumult of a very hideous Agnus Dei, in
the voice of a certain concert singer, who seemed determined to shout
down the organ. Evelyn had some difficulty in keeping her countenance,
so plain was the expression of amazement upon the profile in front of
Then the book was carried from the right to the left side of the altar,
and when the priest had read the Gospel, she began once more to ask
herself the reason that had brought Sir Owen to St. Joseph's. The manner
in which he genuflected before the altar told her that he was a
Catholic; perhaps he had come to St. Joseph's merely to hear mass.
"I have come to see your father."
"You will find him in the organ loft.... But he'll be down presently."
And at the end of the church, in a corner out of the way of the crowd,
they waited for Mr. Innes, and she learnt almost at once, from his face
and the remarks that he addressed to her, that it was not for her that
he had come to St. Joseph's. His carriage was waiting, he told the
coachman to follow; all three tramped through the snow together to the
station. In this miserable walk she learnt that he had decided to go for
a trip round the world in his yacht, and expected to be away for nearly
a year. As he bade them good-bye he looked at her, and his eyes seemed
to say he was sorry that it was so, that he wished it were otherwise.
She felt that if she had been able to ask him to stay he would have
stayed; but, of course, that was impossible, and the last she saw of him
was as he turned, just before getting into his brougham, to tell her
father that the best critic of the _Review_ should attend the concerts,
and that he hoped that what he would write would bring some people of
taste to hear them.
The name was no indication. None remembered that Dowlands was the name
of Henry the Eight's favourite lute player, and there was nothing in the
snug masonry to suggest an aestheticism of any kind. The dulcimers, lutes
and virginals surprised the visitor coming in from the street, and he
stayed his steps as he might on the threshold of a fairy land.
The villas, of which Dowlands was one, were a builder's experiment. They
had been built in the hopes of attracting wealthy business West-end
shopkeepers; but Dulwich had failed to become a fashionable suburb. Many
had remained empty, and when Mr. Innes had entered into negotiations
with the house agents, they declared themselves willing to entertain all
his proposals, and finally he had acquired a lease at a greatly reduced
In accordance with his and Mrs. Innes's wishes, the house had been
considerably altered. Partition walls had been taken away, and
practically the whole ground floor converted into class-rooms, leaving
free only one little room at the back where they had their meals. During
his wife's lifetime the house suited their requirements. The train
service from Victoria was frequent, and on the back of their notepaper
was printed a little map, whereby pupils coming and going from the
station could find their way. On the second floor was Mr. Innes's
workshop, where he restored the old instruments or made new ones after
the old models. There was Evelyn's bedroom--her mother had re-furnished
it before she died--and she often sat there; it was, in truth, the most
habitable room in the house. There was Evelyn's old nursery, now an
unoccupied room; and there were two other empty rooms. She had tried to
convert one into a little oratory. She had placed there a statue of the
Virgin, and hung a crucifix on the wall, and bought a _prie-Dieu_ and
put it there. But the room was too lonely, and she found she could say
her prayers more fervently by her bedside. Their one servant slept
downstairs in a room behind the kitchen. So the house often had the
appearance of a deserted house; and Evelyn, when she returned from
London, where she went almost daily to give music lessons, often paused
on the threshold, afraid to enter till her ear detected some slight
sound of her servant at work. Then she cried, "Is that you, Margaret?"
and she advanced cautiously, till Margaret answered, "Yes, miss."
The last summer and autumn had been the pleasantest in her life since
her mother's death. Her pupils interested her--she had some six or
seven. Her flow of bright talk, her eager manner, her beautiful playing
of the viola da gamba, her singing of certain old songs, her mother's
fame, and the hopes she entertained of one day achieving success on the
stage made her a heroine among her little circle of friends. Her father
was a remarkable man, but he seemed to her the most wonderful of men. It
was exciting to go to London with him, to bid him good-bye at
Victoria--she to her lessons, he to his--to meet him in the evenings,
and in conjunction to arrange the programme of their next concert. These
interests and ambitions had sufficed to fill her life, and to keep the
greater ambition out of sight; and since her mother's death she had
lived happily with her father, helping him in his work. But lately
things had changed. Some of her pupils had gone abroad, others had
married, and interest in the concerts declined. For a little while the
old music had seemed as if it were going to attract sufficient
attention, but already their friends had heard enough, and Mr. Innes had
been compelled to postpone the next, which had been announced for the
beginning of February. There would be no concert now till March, perhaps
not even then; so there was nothing for her to look forward to, and the
wet windy weather which swept the suburb contributed to her
disheartenment. The only event of the day seemed to be her father's
departure in the morning. Immediately after breakfast he tied up his
music in a brown paper parcel and put his violin into its case; he spoke
of missing his train, and, from the windows of the music-room, she saw
him hastening down the road. She had asked him if there were any MSS. he
wished copied in the British Museum; absent-mindedly he had answered
"No;" and, drumming on the glass with her fingers, she wondered how the
day would pass. There was nothing to do; there was nothing even to think
about. She was tired of thinking that a pupil might come back--that a
new pupil might at any moment knock at the door. She was tired of
wondering if her father's concerts would ever pay--if the firm of music
publishers with whom he was now in treaty would come to terms and enable
him to give a concert in their hall, or if they would break off
negotiations, as many had done before. And, more than of everything
else, she was tired of thinking if her father would ever have money to
send her abroad, or if she would remain in Dulwich always.
One morning, as she was returning from Dulwich, where she had gone to
pay the weekly bills, she discovered that she was no longer happy. She
stopped, and, with an empty heart, saw the low-lying fields with poultry
pens, and the hobbled horse grazing by the broken hedge. The old
village was her prison, and she longed as a bird longs. She had trundled
her hoop there; she ought to love it, but she didn't, and, looking on
its too familiar aspect, her aching heart asked if it would never pass
from her. It seemed to her that she had not strength nor will to return
home. A little further on she met the vicar. He bowed, and she wondered
how he could have thought that she could care for him. Oh, to live in
that Rectory with him! She pitied the young man who wore brown clothes,
and whose employment in a bank prevented him from going abroad for his
health. These people were well enough, but they were not for her. She
seemed to see beyond London, beyond the seas, whither she could not say,
and she could not quell the yearning which rose to her lips like a wave,
and over them.
Formerly, when there was choir practice at St. Joseph's, she used to go
there and meet her father, but lately, for some reason which she could
not explain to herself, she had refrained. The thought of this church
had become distasteful to her, and she returned home indifferent to
everything, to music and religion alike. Her eyes turned from the pile
of volumes--part of Bach's interminable works--and all the old
furniture, and she stood at the window and watched the rain dripping
into the patch of black garden in front of the house, surrounded by a
low stone wall. The villas opposite suggested a desolation which found a
parallel in her heart; the sloppy road and the pale brown sky frightened
her, so menacing seemed their monotony. She knew all this suburb; it was
all graven on her mind, and all that ornamental park where she must go,
if it cleared a little, for her afternoon walk. She must tramp round
that park once more. She strove to keep out of her mind its symmetrical
walls, its stone basins, where the swans floated like white china
ornaments, almost as lifeless. But worse even than these afternoons were
the hours between six and eight. For very often her father was detained,
and if he missed the half-past six train he had to come by the half-past
seven, and in those hours of waiting the dusk grew oppressive and
fearful in the music-room. Startled by a strange shadow, she crouched in
her armchair, and when the feeling of dread passed she was weak from
want of food. Why did her father keep her waiting? Hungry, faint and
weary of life, she opened a volume of Bach; but there was no pleasure
for her in the music, and if she opened a volume of songs she had
neither strength nor will to persevere even through the first, and,
rising from the instrument, she walked across the room, stretching her
arms in a feverish despair. She had not eaten for many hours, and out of
the vacuity of the stomach a dimness rose into her eyes. Pressing her
eyes with her hand, she leaned against the door.
One evening she walked into the garden. The silence and damp of the
earth revived her, and the sensation of the cold stone, against which
she was leaning, was agreeable. Little stars speckled a mauve and misty
sky, and out of the mysterious spring twilight there came a strange and
ultimate yearning, a craving which nothing she had ever known could
assuage. But those stars--could they tell her nothing? One, large almost
as the moon itself, flamed up in the sky, and a voice within her
whispered that that was her star, that it held the secret of her
destiny. She gazed till her father called to her from the gate; and all
that evening she could think of nothing else. The conviction flowed
within her that the secret of her destiny was there; and as she lay in
bed the star seemed to take a visible shape.
A face rose out of the gulf beneath her. She could not distinguish
whether it was the face of man or woman; it was an idea rather than a
face. The ears were turned to her for her to take the earrings, the
throat was deeply curved, the lips were large and rose-red, the eyes
were nearly closed, and the hair was curled close over a straight, low
forehead. The face rose up to hers. She looked into the subtle eyes, and
the thrill of the lips, just touching hers, awakened a sense of sin, and
her eyes when they opened were frightened and weary. And as she sat up
in her bed, trembling, striving vainly to separate the real from the
unreal, she saw the star still shining. She hid her face in the pillow,
and was only calmed by the thought that it was watching her.
She went into the garden every evening to see it rise, and a desire of
worship grew up in her heart; and thinking of the daffodils, it occurred
to her to lay these flowers on the wall as an offering. Even wilder
thoughts passed through her brain; she could not keep them back, and
more than once asked herself if she were giving way to an idolatrous
intention. If so, she would have to tell the foolish story to her
confessor. But she could hardly bring herself to tell him such
nonsense.... If she didn't, the omission might make her confession a
false one; and she was so much perplexed that it seemed to her as if the
devil took the opportunity to insinuate that she might put off going to
confession. This decided her. She resolved to combat the Evil One.
To-day was Thursday. She would confess on Saturday, and go to Communion
Till quite lately her confessor had been Father Knight--a tall, spare,
thin-lipped, aristocratic ecclesiastic, in whom Evelyn had expected to
find a romantic personality. She had looked forward to thrilling
confessions, but had been disappointed. The romance his appearance
suggested was not borne out; he seemed unable to take that special
interest in her which she desired; her confessions were barren of
spiritual adventure, and after some hesitations her choice dropped upon
Father Railston. In this selection the law of contrast played an
important part. The men were very opposites. One walked erect and tall,
with measured gait; the other walked according to the impulse of the
moment, wearing his biretta either on one side of the head or the
other. One was reserved; the other voluble in speech. One was of
handsome and regular features; the other's face was plain but
expressive. Evelyn had grown interested in Father Railston's dark,
melancholy eyes; and his voice was a human voice vibrant with the terror
and suffering of life. In listening to her sins he seemed to remember
his own. She had accused herself of impatience at the circumstances
which kept her at home, of even nourishing, she would not say projects,
but thoughts, of escape.
"Then, my child, are you so anxious to change your present life for that
of the stage?"
"You weary of the simplicity of your present life, and sigh for the
brilliancy of the stage?"
"I'm afraid I do." It was thrilling to admit so much, especially as the
life of an actress was not in itself sinful. "I feel that I should die
very soon if I were to hear I should never leave Dulwich."
The priest did not speak for a long while, and raising her eyes she
watched his expression. It seemed to her that her confession of her
desire of the world had recalled memories, and she wondered what were
"I am more than forty--I'm nearly fifty--and my life has passed like a
He seemed about to tell her the secret of life, and had stopped. But the
phrase lingered through her whole life, and eventually became part of
it. "My life has passed like a dream." She did not remember what he had
said after, and she had gone away wondering if life seemed to everyone
like a dream when they were forty, and if his life would have seemed
more real to him if he had given it to the world instead of to God? Her
subsequent confessions seemed trite and commonplace. Not that Father
Railston failed to listen with kind interest to her; not that he failed
to divine that she was passing through a physical and spiritual crisis.
His admonitions were comforting in her weariness of mind and body; but
notwithstanding her affection for him, she felt that beyond that one
phrase he had no influence over her. She almost felt that he was too
gentle and indulgent, and the thought she would have liked a confessor
who was severe, who would have inflicted heavier penances, compelled her
to fast and pray, who would have listened in deeper sternness to the
sins of thought which she with averted face shamefully owned to having
entertained. She was disappointed that he did not warn her with the loss
of her soul, that he did not invent specious expedients for her use,
whereby the Evil One might be successfully checked.
One Sunday morning the servant told Mr. Innes that Miss Evelyn has left
a little earlier, as she was going to Communion. She remained in church
for High Mass, and when chided for such long abstinence, she smiled
sadly and said that she did not think that it would do her much harm.
During the following week he noticed that she hardly touched breakfast,
and the only reason she gave was that she thought she would like to
fast. No, she had not obtained leave from her confessor; she had not
even consulted him. She, of course, knew that she was not obliged to
fast, not being of age; but she was not doing any work; she had no
pupils; the concert had been postponed; she thought she would like to
fast. Father and daughter looked at each other; they felt that they did
not understand, that there was nothing to be done, and Mr. Innes put his
fiddle into its case and went to London, deeply concerned about his
daughter, and utterly unable to arrive at any conclusion.
She fasted, and she broke through her fast, and as Lent drew to a close
she asked her father if she might make a week's retreat in a convent at
Wimbledon where she had some friends. There was no need for her at home;
it would be at least change of air and she pressed him to allow her to
go. He feared the influence the convent might have upon her, and
admitted that his selfishness was largely accountable for this religious
reaction. No doubt she wanted change, she was looking very poorly. He
spoke of the sea, but who was to take her to Brighton or Margate? The
convent seemed the only solution of the difficulty, and he had to
consent to her departure.
The retreat was to last four days, but Evelyn begged that she might stay
on till Easter Tuesday. This would give her a clear week away from home,
and the improvement that this little change wrought in her was
surprising. The convent had made her cheeks fair as roses, and given her
back all her sunny happiness and abundant conversation. She delighted in
telling her father of her week's experience. For four days she had not
spoken (perhaps that was the reason she was talking so much now), and
during these four days they were nearly always in chapel; but somehow it
hadn't seemed long, the services were so beautiful. The nuns wore grey
serge robes and head-dresses, the novices white head-dresses; what had
struck her most was the expression of happy content on their faces.
"I wish, father, you had seen them come into church--their long robes
and beautiful white faces. I don't think there is anything as beautiful
as a nun."
The mother prioress was a small woman, with an eager manner. She looked
so unimportant that Evelyn had wondered why she had been chosen, but the
moment she spoke you came under the spell of her keen, grey eyes and
clear voice.... Mother Philippa, the mistress of the novices, was quite
different--stout and middle-aged, and she wore spectacles. She was
beautiful notwithstanding; her goodness was like a soft light upon her
face. ...Evelyn paused. She could not find words to describe her; at
last she said--
"When she comes into the room, I always feel happy."
She could not say which she liked the better, but branched off into a
description of the Carmelite who had given the retreat--strong,
eagle-faced man, with thin hair drawn back from his forehead, and
intense eyes. He wore sandals, and his white frock was tied with a
leather belt, and every word he spoke had entered into her heart. He
gave the meditations, which were held in the darkened library. They
could not see each other's faces; they could only see the white figure
at the end of the room.
She had had her meals in the parlour with two other ladies who had come
to the convent for the retreat. They were both elderly women, and Evelyn
fancied that they belonged to the grandest society. She could tell that
by their voices. The one she liked best had quite white hair, and her
expression was almost that of a nun. She was tall, very stout, and
walked with a stick. On Easter Sunday this old lady had asked her if she
would care to come into the garden with her. It was such a beautiful
morning, she said, that it would do both of them good. The old lady
walked very slowly with her stick. But though Evelyn thought that she
must be at least a countess, she did not think she was very rich--she
had probably lost her money. The black dress she wore was thin and
almost threadbare, and it was a little too long for her; she held it up
in her left hand as she walked--a most beautiful hand for an old woman.
Both these ladies had been very kind to her; she had often walked with
them in the garden--a fine old garden. There were tall, shady trees;
these were sprinkled with the first tiny leaves; and the currant and
raspberry bushes were all out. And there was a fishpond swarming with
gold fish, and they were so tame that they took bread from the novices'
The conversation had begun about the convent, and after speaking of its
good sisters, the old lady, whose hair was quite white, had asked Evelyn
about herself. Had she ever thought of being a nun? Evelyn had answered
that she had not. She had never considered the question whether she had
a vocation.... She had been brought up to believe that she was going on
the stage to sing grand opera.
"It is hardly for me to advise you. But I know how dangerous the life of
an opera singer is. I shall pray God that He may watch over you. Promise
me always to remember our holy religion. It is the only thing we have
that is worth having; all the rest passes."
"Father, we were close by the edge of the fishpond, and all the greedy
fish swarmed to the surface, thinking we had come to feed them. She
said, 'I cannot walk further without resting; come, my dear, let me sit
down on that bench, and do you sing me a little song, very low, so that
no one shall hear you but I.' I sang her "John, come kiss me now," and
she said, "My dear, you have a beautiful voice, I pray that you make
good use of it."
But not in one day could all Evelyn's convent experiences be related,
and it was not until the end of the week that Evelyn told how Mother
Philippa, at the end of a long talk in which she had spoken to Evelyn
about the impulses which had led her to embrace a religious life (she
had been twenty years in this convent), had taken her upstairs to the
infirmary to see Sister Bonaventure, an American girl, only twenty-one,
who was dying of consumption. She lay on a couch in grey robes, her
hands and face waxen white, and a smile of happy resignation on her lips
and in her eyes.
"But," exclaimed Evelyn, "they told me she would die within the
fortnight, so she may be dead now; if not to-day, to-morrow or after. I
hadn't thought of that.... I shall never forget her, every few minutes
she coughed--that horrible cough! I thought she was going to die before
my eyes, but in the intervals she chattered and even laughed, and no
word of complaint escaped her. She was only twenty-one ... had known
nothing of life; all was unknown to her, except God, and she was going
to Heaven. She seemed quite happy, yet to me it seemed the saddest sight
in the world.... She'll be buried in a few days in the sunniest corner
of the garden, away from the house--that is their graveyard. The mother
Prioress, the founder of the convent, is buried there; a little
dedicatory chapel has been built, and on the green turf, tall wooden
crosses mark the graves of six nuns; next week there'll be one more
The conversation paused, and Evelyn sat looking into the corner of the
room, her large clear eyes wide open and fixed. Presently she said--
"Father," I've often thought I should like to be a nun."
"You a nun! And with that voice!"
She looked at him, smiling a little.
"What matter! Have you not thought--but I understand; you mean that your
voice is wasted here, that we shall never have the means to go
abroad.... But we shall."
"Father, dear, I wasn't thinking of that. I do believe that means will
be found to send me abroad to study. But what then? Shall I be happy?"
"Fame, fortune, art!"
"Those nuns have none of those things, and they are happy. As that old
lady said their happiness comes from within."
"And you'll be happy with those things, as happy as they are without
them. You're in a melancholy mood; come, we'll think of the work before
us. I've decided that we give our concert the week after next. That will
give us ten clear days."
He entered into the reasons which had induced him to give this concert.
But Evelyn had heard all about the firm of musical publishers, who
possibly might ask him to bring up the old instruments to London, and
give a concert in a fashionable West-end hall. Seeing that she was not
listening, he broke off his narrative with the remark that he had
received a letter that morning from Sir Owen.
"Is he coming home? I thought he was going round the world and would not
be back for a year."
"He has changed his mind. This letter was posted at Malta--a most
interesting letter it is;" and while Mr. Innes read Sir Owen's account
of the discovery of the musical text of an ancient hymn which had been
unearthed in his presence, Evelyn wondered if he had come home for her
or--the thought entered her heart with a pang--if he had come home for
the red-haired woman. Mr. Innes stopped suddenly in his reading, and
asked her of what she was thinking.
"You don't seem to take any interest. The text is incomplete, and some
notes have been conjecturally added by a French musician." But much more
interesting to Evelyn was his account of the storm that had overtaken
his yacht on the coast of Asia Minor. He had had to take his turn at the
helm, all the sailors being engaged at the sails, and, with the waves
breaking over him, he had kept her head to the wind for more than two
"I can hardly fancy him braving the elements, can you, Evelyn?"
"I don't know, father," she said, startled by the question, for at that
moment she had seen him in imagination as clearly as if he were present.
She had seen him leaning against the door-post, a half-cynical,
half-kindly smile floating through his gold moustache. "Do you think he
will like the music you are going to give at the next concert? He is
coming, I suppose?"
"It is just possible he may arrive in time; but I should hardly think
so. I've written to invite him; he'll like the music; it is the most
interesting programme we've had--an unpublished sonata by Bach--one of
the most interesting, too. If that is not good enough for him--by the
way, have you looked through that sonata?"
"No, father, but I will do so this afternoon."
And while practising the sonata, Evelyn felt as if life had begun again.
The third movement of the sonata was an exquisite piece of musical
colour, and, if she played it properly, he could not fail to come and
congratulate her.... But he would not be here in time for the concert
... not unless he came straight through, and he would not do that after
having nearly escaped shipwreck. She was sure he would not arrive in
time, but the possibility that he might gave her additional interest in
the sonata, and every day, all through the week, she discovered more and
more surprising beauties in it.
She was alone in the music-room reading a piece of music, and her back
was to the door when he entered. She hardly recognised him, tired and
tossed as he was by long journeying, and his grey travelling suit was
like a disguise.
"Is that you, Sir Owen?... You've come back?"
"Come back, yes, I have come back. I travelled straight through from
Marseilles, a pretty stiff journey.... We were nearly shipwrecked off
"I thought it was off the coast of Asia Minor?"
"That was another storm. We have had rough weather lately."
The music dropped from her hand, and she stood looking at him, for he
stood before her like an ancient seafarer. His grey tweed suit buttoned
tightly about him set off every line of his spare figure. His light
brown hair was tossed all over his head, and she could not reconcile
this rough traveller with the elegant fribble whom she had hitherto
known as Sir Owen. But she liked him in this grey suit, dusty after long
travel. He was picturesque and remote as a legend. A smile was on his
lips; it showed through the frizzled moustache, and his eyes sparkled
with pleasure at sight of her.
"But why did you travel straight through? You might have slept at
Marseilles or Paris."
"One of these days I will tell you about the gale. I wonder I am not at
the bottom of that treacherous sea; it did blow my poor old yacht
about--I thought it was her last cruise; and when we got to the hotel I
was handed your father's letter. As I did not want to miss the concert,
I came straight through."
"You must be very fond of music."
"Yes, I am.... Music can be heard anywhere, but your voice can only be
heard at Dulwich."
"Was it to hear me sing that you came back?"
She had spoken unawares, and felt that the question was a foolish one,
and was trembling lest he should be inwardly laughing at her. But the
earnest expression into which his little grey eyes concentrated
reassured her. She seemed to lose herself a little, to drift into a sort
of dream in which even he seemed to recede, and so intense and personal
was her sensation that she could not follow his tale of adventure. It
was an effort to listen to it at that moment, and she said--
"But you must be tired, you've not had a proper night's sleep ... for a
"I'm not very tired, I slept in the train, but I'm hungry. I've not had
anything since ten o'clock this morning. There was no time to get
anything at Victoria. I was told that the next train for Dulwich started
in five minutes. I left my valet to take my trunks home; he will bring
my evening clothes on here for the concert. Can you let me have a room
to dress in?"
"Of course; but you must have something to eat."
"I thought of going round to the inn and having a chop."
"We had a beefsteak pudding for dinner; I wonder if you could eat
"There's nothing better."
"Yes, warmed up."
"Then I may run and tell Margaret?"
"I shall be much obliged if you will."
She liked to wait upon him, and her pleasure quickened when she handed
him bread or poured out ale, making it foam in the glass, for
refreshment after his long journey; and when she sat opposite, her eyes
fixed on him, and he told her his tale of adventure, her happy flushed
face reminded him of that exquisite promise, the pink almond blossom
showing through the wintry wood.
"So you didn't believe me when I said that it was to hear you sing that
I came back?"
"That you renounced your trip round the world?"
"Yes, I renounced my trip round the world to hear you sing."
She did not answer, and he put the question again.
"I can understand that there might be sufficient reason for your giving
up your trip round the world. I thought that perhaps--no, I cannot
They had been thinking of each other, and had taken up their interest in
each other at their last thoughts rather than at their last words. She
was more conscious of the reason of their sudden intimacy than he was,
but he too felt that they had advanced a long way in their knowledge of
each other, and their intuition was so much in advance of facts that
they sat looking at each other embarrassed, their words unable to keep
pace with their perceptions.
Evelyn suddenly felt as if she were being borne forward, but at that
moment her father entered.
"Father, Sir Owen was famishing when he arrived. He wanted to go to the
inn and eat a chop, but I persuaded him to stop and have some beefsteak
"I am so glad ... you've arrived just in time, Sir Owen. The concert is
"He came straight through without stopping; he has not been home. So,
father, you will never be able to say again that your concerts are not
"Well, I don't think that you will be disappointed, Sir Owen. This is
one of the most interesting programmes we have had. You remember
Ferrabosco's pavane which you liked so much--"
Margaret announced the arrival of Sir Owen's valet, and while Mr. Innes
begged of Sir Owen not to put himself to the trouble of dressing, Owen
wondered at his own folly in yielding to a sudden caprice to see the
girl. However, he did not regret; she was a prettier girl than he had
thought, and her welcome was the pleasantest thing that had happened to
him for many a day.
"My poor valet, I am afraid, is quite _hors de combat_. He was
dreadfully ill while we were beating up against that gale, and the long
train journey has about finished him. At Victoria he looked more dead
Evelyn went out to see this pale victim of sea sickness and expedition.
She offered him dinner and then tea, but he said he had had all he could
eat at the refreshment bars, and struggled upstairs with the portmanteau
of his too exigent master.
A few of her guests had already arrived, and Evelyn was talking to
Father Railston when Sir Owen came into the room.
"I shall not want you again to-night," he said, turning towards the door
to speak to his valet. "Don't sit up for me, and don't call me to-morrow
She had not yet had time to speak to Owen of a dream which she had
dreamed a few nights before, and in which she was much interested. She
had seen him borne on the top of a huge wave, clinging to a piece of
wreckage, alone in the solitary circle of the sea. But Owen, when he
came downstairs dressed for the concert, looked no longer like a
seafarer. He wore an embroidered waistcoat, his necktie was tied in a
butterfly bow, and the three pearl studs, which she remembered, fastened
the perfectly-fitting shirt. She was a little disappointed, and thought
that she liked him better in the rough grey suit, with his hair tossed,
just come out of his travelling cap. Now it was brushed about his ears,
and it glistened as if from some application of brilliantine or other
toilet essence. Now he was more prosaic, but he had been extraordinarily
romantic when he ran in to see her, his grey travelling cap just
snatched from his head. It was then she should have told him her dream.
All this was a very faint impression, half humorous, half regretful, it
passed, almost without her being aware of it, in the background of her
mind. But she was keenly disappointed that he was not impressed by her
dream, and was inclined to consider it in the light of a mere
coincidence. In the first place, he hadn't been shipwrecked, and that
she should dream of shipwreck was most natural since she knew that he
had gone a-seafaring, and any gust of wind in the street was enough to
excite the idea of a castaway in the unclosed cellular tissues of her
brain. She did not answer, and he stood trying to force an answer from
her, but she could not, nor did she wish to think that her dream was no
more than a merely physiological phenomenon. But just at that moment Mr.
Innes was waiting to speak to Sir Owen.
He had a great deal to say on the subject of the disgraceful neglect of
the present Royal Family in not publishing the works of their single
artistic ancestor, Henry VIII. Up to the present time none of his
numerous writings, except one anthem played in the Chapel at Windsor,
was known; the pieces that were going to be played that evening lay in
MS. in the British Museum, and had probably not been heard for two,
maybe three hundred years. Encouraged by Sir Owen's sympathy, he
referred again, in his speech to his audience, to the indifference of
the present Royal Family to art, and he added that it was strange that
he should be doing at Dowlands what the Queen or the Prince of Wales
should have done long ago, namely, the publication of their ancestor's
work with all the prestige that their editorship or their patronage
could give it.
"I must go," she said; "they are waiting for me."
She took her place among the viol players and began playing; but she had
forgotten to tune her instrument, and her father stopped the
performance. She looked at him, a little frightened, and laughed at her
mistake. The piece they were playing was by Henry VIII., a masterpiece,
Mr. Innes had declared it to be, so, to stop the performance on account
of Evelyn's viola da gamba, and then to hear her play worse than he had
ever heard her play before, was very disappointing.
"What is the matter? Aren't you well? I never heard you play so badly."
He hoped that she would play better in the next piece, and he besought
her with a look before he signed to the players to begin. She resolved
not to think of Owen, and she played so well that the next piece was
applauded. Except for her father's sake she cared very little how she
played; she tried to play well to please him, but she was anxious to
sing well--she was singing for herself and for Owen, which was the same
thing--and she sang beautifully in the King's madrigal and the two songs
accompanied by the lute--"I loathe what I did love," and "My lytell
pretty one," both anonymous, composed in 1520, and discovered by Mr.
Innes in the British Museum. The musical interest of these two songs was
slight, and Owen reflected that all Mr. Innes's discoveries at the
British Museum were not of equal importance. But she had sung divinely,
and he thought how he should praise her at the end of the concert.
Evelyn hoped he would tell her that she had sung better than she had
sung on the fatal night of the party in Berkeley Square. This was what
she wished him to say, and she wished it partly because she knew that
that was what he would say. That party had not yet been spoken of, but
she felt sure it would be, for it seemed a decisive point in their
She was not playing in the next two pieces--fantasies for treble and
tenor viols--and she sat in the background, catching glimpses of Owen
between the hands and the heads of the viol players, and over the rims
of their, instruments. She sat apart, not hearing a note of the music,
absorbed in herself, a little exaltation afloat in her brain, her flesh
glowing as in the warmth of an inward fire, her whole instinct telling
her that Owen had not come back for the red-haired woman; he had gone
away for her, perhaps, but he had not come back for her--of that she was
sure In spite of herself, the conviction was forced upon her that the
future was for her. The red-haired lady was a past which he would tell
her some day, and that day she knew to be not very far distant.
The programme was divided into two parts, and after the first, there was
a little interval during which tea and cake were handed round. Evelyn
helped to hand them round, and when she held the cake tray to Owen, she
raised her eyes and they looked at each other, and in that interval it
almost seemed as if they kissed each other.
They met again at the end of the concert, and she waited anxiously for
him to speak. He told her, as she expected he would, that she had sung
to-night much better than she had sung at his party. But they were
surrounded by people seeking their coats and umbrellas; it was
impossible to speak without being overheard; he had told her that she
had sung to his satisfaction; that was sufficient, and they felt that
all had been said, and that they understood each other perfectly.
As she lay in bed, the thought came that he might write to her a letter
asking her to meet him, to keep an appointment. But she would have to
refuse, it would be wrong; but it was not wrong to think about it. He
would be there before her; the moment he saw her coming his eyes would
light up in a smile, and they would walk on together some little way
without speaking. Then he would say, "Dearest, there will be a carriage
waiting at the corner of the road"--and then? She could see his face and
his tall, thin figure, she could picture it all so distinctly that it
was almost the same as if it were happening. All he said, as well as all
she said, kept pouring in upon her brain without a missing word, and she
hugged herself in the delight of these imaginings, and the hours went by
without weariness for her. She lay, her arms folded, thinking,
thinking, seeing him through the darkness.
He came to see them the following day. Her father was there all the
time, but to hear and see him was almost enough for her. She seemed to
lose sight of everything and to be engulfed in her own joy. When he had
gone away she remembered the smile which had lit up some pretty thought
of her; her ears were full of his voice, and she heard the lilt that
charmed her whenever she pleased. Then she asked herself the meaning of
some casual remark, and her mind repeated all he had said like a
phonograph. She already knew his habitual turns of speech; they had
begun to appear in her own conversation, and all that was not connected
with him lost interest for her. Once or twice during the week she went
to bed early so that she might not fancy her father was looking at her
while she thought of Owen.
Owen called at the end of the week--the _Wagnerian Review_ always
supplied him with sufficient excuse for a visit--but he had to spend his
visit in discussing the text of a Greek hymn which he had seen
disinterred in Greece. She was sorry for him, sorrier than she was for
herself, for she could always find him in her thoughts.... She wondered
if he could find her as vividly in his thoughts as she settled herself
(the next day was Sunday) in the corner of her pew, resolved from the
beginning not to hear a word of the sermon, but to think of Owen the
whole time. She wanted to hear why he had left England so suddenly, and
why he had returned so suddenly. She was sure that she and the
red-haired lady were the cause of one or the other, and that neither was
the cause of both. These two facts served for a warp upon which she
could weave endless mental embroideries, tales as real as the tales of
old tapestry, tales of love and jealousy, and unexpected meetings, in
which she and Owen and the red-haired lady met and re-met. Whilst Father
Railston was preaching, these tales flowed on and on, subtle as silk,
illusive as evening tinted clouds; and it was not until she had
exhausted her fancy, and Owen had made one more fruitless visit to
Dulwich, that she began to scheme how she might see him alone. There was
so much that they could only talk about if they were alone; and then she
wanted so much to hear the story of the red-haired lady. If she did not
contrive an opportunity for being with him alone, she might never hear
why he had left England for a trip round the world, and had returned
suddenly from the Mediterranean. She felt that, however difficult and
however wrong it might be, she must find this opportunity. She thought
of asking him the hour of the train by which he generally came to
Dulwich, so that she might meet him in the station. Other schemes came
into her mind, but she could think of nothing that was just right.
But one day, as she was running to post a letter, she saw Owen, more
beautifully dressed than ever, coming toward her. Her feet and her
heart stood still, for she wore her old morning gown and a pair of old
house slippers. But he had already seen her and was lifting his hat, and
with easy effrontery he told her that he had come to Dulwich to consult
her father about the Greek hymn.
"But father is at St. Joseph's," she said, and then she stopped; and
then, before she saw his smile, she knew why he had come to Dulwich so
The shadows of the leaves on the pavement drew pretty pattern for their
feet, and they strolled meditatively through the subdued sunlight.
"Why did you stop and look so startled when you saw me?"
"Because I am so badly dressed; my old house slippers and this--"
"You look very well--dress matters nothing."
"No one would gather your opinions from your appearance."
Owen laughed, and admired the girl's wit.
"Do you want to see father very much about the Greek hymn?"
"Well," he said, and he looked at her questioningly, and not liking to
tell her in so many words that he had come to Dulwich to see her, he
entered into the question of the text of the hymn, which was imperfect.
Many notes were missing, and had been conjecturely added by a French
musician, and he had wished to consult Mr. Innes about them. So a good
deal of time was wasted in conversation in which neither was interested.
Before they were aware, they were at Dowlands, and with an accent of
regret in her voice, which Owen noticed with pleasure, she held out her
hand and said good-bye.
"Are you very busy, then, are you expecting a pupil?"
"No, I have nothing to do."
"Then why should we say good-bye? It is hardly worth while getting up so
early in the morning to discuss the text of an ancient Greek hymn."
His frankness was unexpected, and it pleased her.
"No, I don't suppose it is; Greek music at eleven o'clock in the morning
would be a little trying."
A delicious sense of humour lit up in her eyes, and he felt his interest
in her advance a further stage.
"If you have nothing to do we might go to the picture gallery. There is
a wonderful Watteau--"
"Watteau at eleven, Greek hymn at one."
But she felt, all the same, that she would give everything to go to the
picture gallery with him.
"But I am not dressed, this is an old thing I wear in the morning; not
that there would be many people there, only the curator and a girl
copying at eleven in the morning."
"But is your father coming back at one?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Because you said Greek hymn at one. The time will pass quickly between
eleven and one. You need not change your dress."
Then, with an expressive little glance which went straight to his heart,
she noted his fastidious dress, the mauve necktie, the perfectly fitting
morning coat buttoned across the chest, the yellow-brown trousers, and
the long laced boots, half of patent and half of tan coloured leather.
"I could not walk about with you in this dress and hat, but I sha'n't
keep you long."
While he waited he congratulated himself on the moment when he had
determined to abandon his tour round the world, and come back to seek
Evelyn Innes at Dulwich.
"She is much nicer, a hundred times more exciting than I thought.
Poetry, sympathy, it is like living in a dream." He asked himself if he
liked her better than Georgina, and answered himself that he did; but
deep down in his heart he knew that the other woman had given him deeper
and more poignant emotions, and he knit his brows, for he hated
Owen was the first temptation in Evelyn's life, and it carried her
forward with the force of a swirling river. She tried to think, but
thoughts failed her, and she hooked her black cloth skirt and thrust her
arms into her black cloth jacket with puffed sleeves. She opened her
wardrobe, and wondered which hat he would like, chose one, and hastened
"You've not been long ... you look very nice. Yes, that is an
His notice of her occasioned in her a little flutter of joy, a little
exaltation of the senses, and she walked on without speaking, deep in
her pleasure, and as the sensation died she became aware that she was
very happy. The quiet silence of the Spring morning corresponded to her
mood, and the rustle of last year's leaves communicated a delicious
emotion which seemed to sing in the currents of her blood, and a little
madness danced in her brain at the ordinary sight of nature. "This way,"
she said, and they turned into a lane which almost looked like country.
There were hedges and fields; and the sunlight dozed amid the cows, and
over the branches of the high elm the Spring was already shaking a soft
green dust. There were nests in the bare boughs--whether last year's or
this year's was not certain. Further on there was a stile, and she
thought that she would like to lean upon it and look straight through
the dim fields, gathering the meaning which they seemed to express. She
wondered if Owen felt as she did, if he shared her admiration of the
sunlight which fell about the stile through the woven branches, making
round white spots on the roadway.
"So you were surprised to hear that I had given up my trip round the
"I was surprised to hear you had given it up so that you might hear me
"You think a man incapable of giving up anything for a woman?"
He was trembling, and his voice was confused; experience did not alter
him; on the verge of an avowal he was nervous as a schoolboy. He watched
to see if she were moved, but she did not seem to be; he waited for her
to contest the point he had raised, but her reply, which was quite
different, took him aback.
"You say you came back to hear me sing. Was it not for another woman
that you went away?"
"Yes, but how did you know?"
"The woman with the red hair who was at your party?"
The tale of a past love affair often served Owen as a plank of
transition to another. He told her the tale. It seemed to him
extraordinary because it had happened to him, and it seemed to Evelyn
very extraordinary because it was her first experience of the ways of
"Then it was she who got tired of you? Why did she get tired of you?"
"Why anything? Why did she fall in love with me?"
"Is it, then, the same thing?"
He judged it necessary to dissemble, and he advanced the theory which he
always made use of on these occasions--that women were more capricious
than men, that so far as his experience counted for anything, he had
invariably been thrown over. The object of this theory was two-fold. It
impressed his listener with an idea of his fidelity, which was essential
if she were a woman. It also suggested that he had inspired a large
number of caprices, thereby he gratified his vanity and inspired hope in
the lady that as a lover he would prove equal to her desire. It also
helped to establish the moral atmosphere in which an intrigue might
"Did you love her very much?"
"Yes, I was crazy about her. If I hadn't been, should I have rushed off
in my old yacht for a tour round the world?"
He felt the light of romance fall upon him, and this, he thought, was
how he ought to appear to her.
Yet he was sincere. He admired Evelyn, he thought he might like to be
her lover, and he regarded their present talk as a necessary subterfuge,
the habitual comedy in which we live. So, when Evelyn asked him if he
still loved Georgina, he answered that he hated her, which was only
partly true; and when she asked him if he would go back to her if she
were to invite him, he said that nothing in the world would induce him
to do so, which was wholly untrue, though he would not admit it to
himself. He knew that if Georgina were to hold up her little finger he
would leave Evelyn without a second thought, however foolish he might
know such conduct to be.
"Why did you not marry her when she was in love with you?"
"You can love a woman very well indeed without wanting to marry her;
besides, she is married. But are you sure we're going right?...Is this
the way to the picture gallery?"
"Oh, the picture gallery, I had forgotten. We have passed it a long
They turned and went back, and, in the silence, Owen considered if he
had not been too abrupt. His dealings with women had always been
conducted with the same honour that characterised his dealings on the
turf, but he need not have informed her so early in their
acquaintanceship of his vow of celibacy. While he thought how he might
retrieve his slight indiscretion, she struggled in a little crisis of
soul. Owen's words, tone of voice, manner were explicit; she could not
doubt that he hoped to induce her to leave her father, and she felt that
she ought not to see him any more. She must see him, she must go out to
walk with him, and her will fluttered like a feather in space. She
remembered with a gasp that he was the only thing between herself and
Dulwich, and at the same moment he decided that he could not do better
than to suggest to her that her father was sacrificing her to his
"I wonder," he said, assuming a meditative air, "what will become of
you? Eventually, I mean."
"What do you think?" Her eagerness told him that he had struck the right
"You have grown up in an atmosphere of great music, far removed from the
tendencies of our day. You have received from your father an
extraordinary musical education. He has prepared you on all points but
one for your career, he has not developed your voice; his ambition
"You must not say that. Father does not allow his ambition to interfere
with his duties regarding me. You only think that because you do not
know him; you don't know all the difficulties he has to contend with."
Owen smiled inwardly, pleased at the perception he had shown in divining
her feelings, and he congratulated himself on having sown some slight
seed of discontent; and then, as if he were withdrawing, or at least
attenuating, the suggestion he had thrown out, he said--
"Anyone can see that you and your father are very attached to each