Part 6 out of 9
wonder, then, that men had come to seek reality beyond this life; it was
natural to believe that this life must be the shadow of another life
lying beyond it, and she leaned forward, pale and nervous, in the pale
grace of the Sheraton sofa.
Her depression that morning was itself a mystery. What did it mean?
Whence did it proceed? She had not lost her voice. Owen did not love her
less. Ulick was coming to see her; but within her was an unendurable
anxiety. It proceeded from nothing without; it was her own mind that
frightened her. But just now she had been exalted and happy in the
memory of that deeply emotional music. She tried to remember the exact
moment when this strange, penetrating sorrow had fallen upon her.
Whence had it come, and what did it mean? A few minutes ago it was not
with her. She knew that it would not always be with her, yet it did not
seem as if it would ever leave her. She could not think of herself as
ever being happy again. But Ulick would distract this misery from her
brain. She would send him to the piano, and the exalted sorrow in the
music, which she could but faintly remember, would raise her above
sorrow, would bear her out of and above the circle of personal
despondency. Ulick might help her; she could not help herself. She was
incapable of going to the piano, though she was fully conscious that her
mood would pass away in music. She walked across the room, her eyes
contracted with suffering, and she stretched herself like one who would
rid herself of a burden.
She felt as if she could resign with a little smile the part that she
had to play in life. Not the past, that was no longer hers either to
preserve or to blot out; she could not wish herself different from what
she had been; but the future--was that to be the same as the past? Then,
with an apparent contradiction to what she had been thinking a few
moments before regarding the worthlessness of life, she began to think
that her unhappiness was possibly the result of her eccentric life. She
had lived in defiance of rules, governed by individual caprice.
Apparently it had succeeded, but only apparently. Underneath the surface
of her life she had always been unhappy. All her talent, all her
intelligence had not been able to save her. And Owen? All that pride of
intelligence had resulted in unhappiness in his case as in hers. Both
had disobeyed the law which we feel to be right when we look into the
very recesses of our soul, and that these laws seem foolish and
illogical when criticised by the light of reason does not prove their
untruth. There is something beyond reason, and to become concentric, to
enter into the conventions, seemed to her in a vague and distant manner
to be indispensable. She was weary of living in the inhospitable regions
outside of prejudice and authority.... She felt that it was prejudice
and authority that gave a meaning, or a sufficient semblance of a
meaning, to life as it was; she was a helpless atom tossed hither and
thither by every gust of passion as a leaf in a whirlwind, and she
longed to understand herself and her mission in life.
In her present attitude towards life, nothing mattered except the
present reality, the satisfaction of the moment; her present conception
of life only counselled sacrifice of personal desires for the sake of
larger desires. But these larger satisfactions did not differ in kind
from the lesser, and all went the same way, the pleasure we take in a
bunch of violets, or that which a love story brings, and both pass, but
one leaves neither remorse nor bitterness behind. A thought told her
that she was, while in the midst of these moral reflections, preparing
herself to be Ulick's mistress. She denied the thought and put it
behind her angrily, attributing its intrusion to her nerves, and to
separate herself from it she allowed thoughts on the mutability of
things to again exclusively occupy her. If she were to get up from the
sofa she would create another division in her life, and to-morrow she
would not remember her mood of to-day; it would have vanished as if it
had never been. She asked, What do we live for? and rose nervously from
the sofa, and then stood still. That half-hour was now behind her; again
her place in life had been shifted. Yesterday, too, was gone, and with
it the pleasure of her walk with Ulick. She had walked with him
yesterday in the Green Park, in the still crystal evening. She could
almost see the two figures, she could see them at one spot, but if she
looked too long they disappeared from her eyes. She remembered nothing
of what they had said, only that the colour of the evening was pale
blue, with a little east wind in it, and that was yesterday! They had
talked and walked, and been tremulously interested in each other; but
she remembered nothing that had been said until they turned to go home.
Then arose an exact vision of herself and Ulick walking under the
graceful trees which overhung the Piccadilly railings. There the park
had been shaped into little dells, and it had reminded her of the
picture in the Dulwich Gallery. There his pleading was more passionate.
He had begged her to go away with him, and she had had to answer that
she could not give Owen up. She had felt that it was better to speak
frankly, though she was sorry to have to say things that would give him
pain. She had told him the truth, and was glad she had done so, but she
liked him very much, and had said it was a pity they had not met
earlier. "I missed you by about a year," he answered. His words came
back to her, and she wondered if there was a cause for the accident, and
if it could have been predicted. They had walked slowly up the pathways,
and seeing the young summer in the sky and trees, they had walked as
upon air, borne up by the sadness of finding themselves divided. They
had thought of what forms and colours their lives would have taken if
she had waited a few months, if she had not gone away with Owen; or,
better still, if she had never met Owen. She was conscious that such
thoughts amounted to an infidelity, and she knew that she did love Ulick
as she loved Owen. But the temptation was cruelly intense, and she could
not wrench herself out of its grip. Their voices had fallen, they
suffocated in the silence. Ulick had mentioned Blake's name, and she had
accepted an artistic discussion as an escapement, but their hearts were
overloaded, and it was in answer to his own thoughts that Ulick had
spoken of the eighteenth-century mystic. For the question had arisen in
him whether the passions of the flesh are not destructive of spiritual
exaltation, and he told her that exaltation was the gospel according to
Blake. We must seek to exalt ourselves, to live in the idea; sexual
passion was a merely inferior state, but mean content was the true
"Then passion is the highest plane to which the materialist can rise?"
asked Evelyn, thinking of Owen.
"Yes; I don't think I'm wrong in admitting that, in the main, that is
But at this point he had broken off his discourse, and told an anecdote
in his half-witty, half-wistful way about an article which he had
written on Blake and which had somehow strayed into the hands of a man
and his wife living in Normandy. This couple were at the time engaged in
continuing the tradition of Bastien Lepage. They laboriously copied what
they saw in the fields--grey days, hobnailed boots and the rest of it.
His article had, however, awakened them to the vanity of realism; and
they had taken their pictures to a neighbouring tower, and at the top of
it made a holocaust of all their abominable endeavour. And a few days
after, two faded human beings had presented themselves at Ulick's
lodgings in Bloomsbury, seemingly at once unhappy and excited, and
professing their complete willingness to accept the gospel of life
according to Blake. It was the man who did the talking, the woman, who
was dressed in olive-green garments, acquiesced in what he said. They
were tired of materialism; they had trudged that bleak road till they
were weary, and now they desired Blake, submission to Blake, and were
therefore disappointed when Ulick explained that Blake's doctrine was
not subordination to Blake, but the very opposite, the development of
self, the cultivation of personal will.
"It was clear to me," Ulick said, "that the woman had abased herself
before the man, that she ate what he ate, drank what he drank, thought
what he thought, so I decided that we should begin with first
principles; that the woman should decide for herself, without referring
to her husband, what she should eat for dinner. But after some efforts
to attain sufficient personal will, she confessed her incapacity, and I
therefore proposed to the husband that she should be kept in her room
until she had regained her will. They went away hopeful, but he called a
few days after to tell me that the experiment had failed. For after
striving for many hours to decide between soles and plaice, she had
burst into tears, and I felt I could not advise him further."
It had seemed a pity to ask Ulick how much of this story was true, how
much invention; and it was a remembrance of the will-less lady in the
olive-green gown that caused Evelyn's face to light up into smiles as
she stood at the window watching for his coming.
Her excuse for not marrying Owen was that she would have to retire from
the stage. But she was not convinced that that was the real reason.
There seemed to be another reason at the back of her mind which her
reason could not drag out. She tried again and again, but it eluded
her, and it was frightening to find that she had so little knowledge of
the motives that had determined her life. Feeling that she must change
her thoughts, she asked herself what a man like Ulick, of spiritual
temperament, but uninfected with religious dogma, would think of her
relations with Owen. "Ah, that was the front door bell!" She waited in a
delicious tremble of expectation, and the servant announcing Sir Owen
awoke her, and with a shock as painful as if she had been struck on the
nape of the neck.
On account of the numerous rehearsals demanded by Evelyn for the
production of "Tristan and Isolde," Mr. Hermann Goetze's opera season
was limited to four nights a week. But the hours she spent in the
theatre were only a small part of the time she devoted to her idea. Her
entire life was lived in or about the new incarnation, her whole life
seemed to converge and rush into an ultimate channel, and Lady Ascott
sought her in vain. She avoided social distractions, and the friends she
saw were those who could talk to her about her idea. But while listening
she forgot them, and absorbed in her dream strayed round the piano. She
meditated journeys to Cornwall and Brittany; and one day when Owen
called he heard that she had gone to Ireland, and was expected back
to-morrow evening. She read Isolde into the morning paper, receiving
hints from the cases that came up before the magistrates. She found
Isolde in every book, all that happened seemed extraordinarily
fortuitous, the light of her idea revealing significance in the most
ordinary things. Her life was ransacked like an old work-box, all kinds
of stages of mentality, opinions, beliefs, prejudices, trite and
conventional enough, came up and were thrown aside. But now and then the
memory of an emotion, of a feeling, would prove to be just what she
wanted to add a moment's life to her Isolde; the memory of a gesture, of
a look was sufficient, and she sank back in her chair, her eyes dilated
and moody, thinking how she could work this truth to herself into the
harmony of the picture she was elaborating.
Evelyn had seen Rosa Sucher play the part, and had admired her rendering
as far as we can admire that which is not only antagonistic, but even
discordant to our own natures. She admitted it to be very sweeping,
triumphant and loud, a fine braying of trumpets from the rise to the
fall of the curtain. Rosa Sucher had no doubt attained an extraordinary
oneness of idea, but at what price? Her Isolde was a hurricane, a sort
of avalanche; and the woman was lost in the storm. She had missed the
magic of the woman who, personal to our flesh and dream, breaks upon our
life like the Spring; and this was just what Evelyn wanted to out on the
stage. There was plenty of breadth, but it was breadth at the price of
accent. There was a great frame and a sort of design within the frame,
but in Evelyn's sense the picture was wanting. There was an
extraordinary and incomprehensible neglect of that personal accent
without which there is no life. And the difference between the Isolde
who has not drunk, and the Isolde who has drunk the love potion which
she, Evelyn, was so intent upon indicating, had never occurred to Rosa
Sucher, or if it had, it had been swept aside as a negligible detail.
After all, Isolde has to be a woman a man could be in love with, and
that is not the impact and the shriek of a gale from the south-west. No
doubt Rosa Sucher's idea of the part was Wagner's idea at one moment of
his life. Wagner was a man with hundreds of ideas; he tried them all,
retaining some and discarding others. Some half-dozen have fixed
themselves immutably in certain minds, and an undue importance is given
to them, an importance that Wagner would never have allowed. The absurd
idea, propounded in the heat of controversy, that all the arts were to
wax to one art in the music drama, that even sculpture was to be
represented by attitudes of the actors and actresses! Wagner had written
this thing in order to confound his enemies and bring the weak-kneed to
his side, or maybe, it was merely written to make himself clear to
himself. For it was impossible that a man of genius should be so
seriously wanting in appreciation of sculpture as to think with the
centre of his brain, that an actor standing, his hand on his hip, could
fill the place hitherto occupied in the mind by, let us say, the Hermes
of Praxiteles. Yet this idea still obtained at Bayreuth, and Rosa Sucher
walked about, her arms raised and posed above her head, in the
conventional, statuesque attitude designed for the decoration of beer
"It really is very sad," Evelyn said, her eyes twinkling with the humour
of the idea, "that anyone should think that such figuration could
"But you will not deny that the actor and the actress can supply part of
the picturesqueness of a dramatic action."
"No, indeed; but not by attitudinising, but by gestures that tell the
emotion that is in the mind."
By some obscure route of which they were not aware, these artistic
discussions wound around the idea which dominated their minds, and they
were led back to it continually. The story of "Tristan and Isolde"
seemed to be their own story, and when their eyes met, each divined what
was passing in the other's mind. The music was afloat on the currents of
their blood. It gathered in the brain, paralysing it, and the nervous
exhaustion was unbearable about six, when the servant had taken away the
tea things; and as the afternoon drooped and the beauty of the summer
evening began in the park, speech seemed vain, and they could not bring
themselves to argue any longer.
It was quite true that she had begun to feel the blankness of the
positivist creed, if it were possible to call it a creed. There seemed
nothing left of it, it seemed to have shrivelled up like a little
withered leaf; true or false, it meant nothing to her, it crushed up
like a dried leaf, and the dust escaped through her fingers. Then
without any particular reason she remembered a phrase she had heard in
"As I always says, if one man isn't enough for a woman, twenty aren't
The homeliness of this speech seemed to accentuate the moral truth, and
making application of it to herself, she felt that if she were to take
another lover she would not stop at twenty. Her face contracted in an
expression of disgust at this glimpse of her inner nature which had been
flashed upon her; and looking into herself she could discover nothing
but a talent for singing and acting. If she had not had her voice, God
only knows what she would have been, and she turned her eyes from a
vision of gradual decadence. If she were not to sink to the lowest, she
must hold to her love of Owen, and not yield to her love of Ulick. This
low nature which she could distinguish in herself she must conquer, or
it would conquer her. "If one man isn't enough for a woman, twenty are
not too many." The humble working woman who had uttered these words was
right.... If she were to give way she would have twenty and would end by
throwing herself over one of the bridges.
She felt that she must marry Owen, and under this conclusion she stopped
like one who has come face to face with a blank wall. But did she love
him well enough to marry him? She loved him, but was her present love as
intense as the love that had obsessed her whole nature in Paris six
years ago? She tried to think that it was, and found casual consolation
in the thought that if she were not so mad about him now as she was
then, her love was deeper; it had become a part of herself, and was
founded on such knowledge of his character that nothing could change or
alter it. She knew now that in spite of all his faults she could trust
him, and that was something; she knew that his love for her was
enduring, that it was not a mere passing passion, as it easily might
have been. He had given her fame, wealth, position--everything a woman
could desire. Some might blame him for having taken her away from her
home, but she did not blame him, for she knew that she could not have
remained with her father at that time. If she had not gone away with
Owen she might have killed herself; something had given way within her,
she had to do what she had done.
But did she love Owen, or was she getting tired of him? It was so easy
to ask and so difficult to answer these questions. However closely we
look into our souls, some part of the truth escapes us. One always
slurred something or exaggerated something.... She remembered that Owen
had been very tiresome lately; his egoism was ceaseless; it got upon her
nerves, and she felt that, no matter what happened to her, she could
not endure it. There were his songs! How tired she was of talking about
his songs, the long considerations whether this chord or the other
chord, this modulation or another, were the better. He could not compose
a dozen bars without having them engraved and sending copies to his
friends. He wished the whole world to be occupied about him and his
affairs. He was so childish about his music. Other people said, "Oh,
yes, very pretty," but she had to sing it. If she refused, it meant
unpleasantness, and though he did not often say so, a charge of
ingratitude, for, of course, without him she wouldn't have been able to
sing at all. The worst of it was that he did not see the ridiculous
When singing some of his songs, she had caught a look in people's eyes,
a pitying look, and she could not help wondering if they thought that
she liked such commonplace, or worse still, if they thought that she was
obliged to sing it. But when she had remembered all he had done for her,
it seemed quite a disgrace that she should hate to sing his songs. It
was the one thing she could do to please him, and she reflected on her
selfishness. She seemed to have no moral qualities; the idea she had
expressed to Ulick regarding the necessity of chastity in women
returned, and she felt sure that in women at least every other virtue is
dependent on that virtue. But when Owen was ill she had travelled
hundreds of miles to nurse him; she had not hesitated a moment, and she
might have caught the fever. She wouldn't have done that if she did not
love him.... She was always thinking how she could help him, she would
do anything for him. But he was such a strange man. There were times
when there was no one kinder, gentler, more affectionate, but at other
times he turned round and snapped like a mad dog. The desire to be rude
took him at times like a disease; this was his most obvious fault. But
his worst fault, at least in her eyes, was his love of parade; his
determination to appear to the world in the aspect which he thought was
his by birth and position. Notwithstanding a seeming absence of
affection and candour, he was always acting a part. True that he played
the part very well; and his snobbery was never vulgar.
Thinking of him profoundly, looking into his nature with the clear sight
of six years of life with him, she decided that the essential fault was
an inability to forego the temptation of the moment. For him the
temptation of the moment was the greatest of all. He was the essential
child, and had carried all the child's passionate egoism into his middle
age. One gave way because everything seemed to mean so much more to him
that it could to oneself. He could not be deprived of his toy; his toy
came before everything. But why did he make himself offensive to many
people by speaking against Christianity? It was so illogical to love
art as he did and to hate religion.... He had listened much more
indulgently to Ulick than she had expected, and seemed to perceive the
picturesqueness of the gods, Angus and Lir. It was Christianity that
irritated and changed him to the cynic he was not, and forced him into
arguments which she hated: "that when you went to the root of things, no
one ever acted except from a selfish motive" and his aphorism, "I don't
believe in temptations that one doesn't yield to." Her thoughts went
back over years, to the very day he had said the words to her for the
first time.... It was true in a way, but it was not the whole truth. But
to him it was the whole truth, that was the unfortunate part of it, and
his life was a complete exemplification of this theory, and the result
was one of the unhappiest men on the face of the earth. He would tell
you he had the finest place in the world, and the finest pictures in the
world, yet these things did not save him from unhappiness. He could not
understand that happiness is attained through renunciation. He had never
renounced anything, and so his life was a mere triviality. The clearness
of her vision surprised her; she paused a moment and then continued. He
must always be amused, he could not bear to be alone. Distraction,
distraction, distraction was his one cry. She had to combat the spectre
of boredom and save the man from himself. Hitherto she had done this, it
had been her pleasure, but if she married him it would become her
mission, her duty, her life. Could she undertake it? Her heart sank. He
had worn her out, she could do no more. She grew frightened, life seemed
too much for her; and then she bit her lips, and vowed that whatever it
cost her she would marry him if he wished her to.... If she did not mean
to take the consequences, she ought not to have gone away with him. To
be Owen's wife was perchance her mission.
It had always been arranged that they were to be married when she left
the stage. But he wished her to remain on the stage till she had played
Kundry; but if she were going to leave the stage she did not care to
delay, nor did she care for the part of Kundry. The meaning of the part
escaped her.... So the time had come for her to offer herself to Owen.
Whatever his desires might be, his honour would force him to say Yes. So
there was no escape. Fate had decreed it so, she was to be his wife; but
one thing she need not endure, and that was unnecessary suspense. She
had decided to go to Lady Ascott's ball.... But she wouldn't see him
there. He was kept indoors by the gout. He had written asking her to
come and pass the evening with him.... She might call to see him on her
way to the ball; yes, that is what she would do, and she sat down at
once and wrote a note.
And she laughed and talked during dinner, and was surprised when Lady
Duckle remarked how pale and ill she was looking, for she thought she
was making a fine outward show of high spirits. She and Lady Duckle
were dining alone, and she tried to devise a plan for going to Berkeley
Square without taking Lady Duckle into her confidence. The horrible
scene with Owen flitted before her eyes while talking of other things.
And so the evening dragged itself out in the drawing-room.
"Olive, I want to make a call before going to Lady Ascott's; I will send
the carriage back for you."
"But we need not get there until a quarter to one. There will be plenty
"Very well," Evelyn answered, as unconcernedly as she could. "I'll be
here a little after twelve."
In the carriage she remembered that she was going to the same house to
tell him that she would be his wife as she had gone to tell him she
would be his mistress.
"Sir Owen has been very bad to-day, miss," the butler said in a
confidential undertone. "It has taken him again in his right toe;" and
he leaned forward to open the door of Owen's private sitting-room.
She passed in, the door closed softly behind her, and she saw her lover
lying in a large, chintz-covered arm-chair, full of cushions, deep like
a feather bed. He held his book high, so that all the light of the
electric lamp fell upon it, and the small, wrinkled face seemed to have
suddenly grown older behind the spectacles, and the appearance at that
moment was of a man just slipping over the years that divides middle
from old age.
In the single second that elapsed before they spoke, Evelyn felt and
understood a great deal. Never had Owen seemed so like himself; the old
age which so visibly had laid its wrinkles and infirmities upon him was
clearly his old age, and the old age of his fathers before him. He was
in his own old room, planned and ordered by himself. Even his arm-chair
seemed characteristic of him. With whatever hardships he might put up in
the hunting field or the deer forest, he believed in the deepest
arm-chair that upholstery could stuff when he came home. In this room
were his personal pictures, those he had bought himself. They, of
course, included a beautiful woman by Gainsborough, and a pellucid
evening sky, with a group of pensive trees, by Corot. There were
beautiful painted tables and chairs, and marble and ormolu clocks, the
refined and gracious designs of the best periods; and the sight of Owen
sitting amid all these attempts to capture happiness, revealed to her
the moral idea of which this man was but a symbol; and the thought that
life without a moral purpose is but a passing spectre, and that our
immortality lies in our religious life, occurred to her again. His first
remark, too, about his gout, that it wasn't much, but just enough to
make life a curse--could she tell him what end was served by torturing
us in this way?--laid, as it were, an accent upon the thoughts of him
that were passing in her mind.
It was that crouching attitude in the arm-chair that had made him seem
so old. Now that he had taken off his spectacles, and was standing up,
he did not look older than his age. He wore a silk shirt and a black
velvet smoking suit, and had kept his figure--it still went in at the
waist. She admired him for a moment and then pitied him, for he limped
painfully and pulled over one of his own chairs for her. But she
declined it, choosing a less comfortable one, feeling that she must sit
straight up if she were to moralise. She had imagined that the subject
would introduce itself in the course of conversation, and that it would
develop imperceptibly. She had imagined that they would speak of the
first performance of "Tristan and Isolde," now distant but a couple of
days, or of Lady Ascott's ball, at which she had promised to appear. But
Owen had spoken of a song which he had re-written that afternoon, not
having anything else to do. He believed he had immensely improved it,
and wished that she would try it over. To sing one of his songs, to
decipher manuscript, was the last thing she felt she could do, and the
proposal irritated her. Her whole life was at stake; it had cost her a
great deal to come to the decision that she must either marry him or
send him away. Partly on purpose, and partly because she could not help
it, her face assumed a calm and fixed expression which he knew well.
"Evelyn, you're going to say something disagreeable. Don't, I've had
enough to worry me lately; there's my mother's health, and this,
miserable attack of gout."
"I hope you won't think what I've come to say disagreeable, but one
never knows." He waited anxiously, and after some pause she said, though
it seemed to her that she had come to the point much too abruptly,
"Owen, was it not arranged that we should marry when I left the stage?"
She had not been able to lend herself to the diplomatic subtleties which
she had been considering all the evening, and had stumbled in the first
step. But the mistake had been made, they were face to face with the
question--it was for her not to give way. She had noticed the look that
had passed between his eyes, and she was not surprised at the slight
evasion of his answer, "But you are going to sing Kundry next year?" for
she knew him to be naturally as averse to marriage as she was herself.
"I don't think I should succeed as Kundry. I don't know what the part
"But she's a penitent. You like penitents; your Elisabeth--"
"Elizabeth is different. Elizabeth is an inward penitent, Kundry is an
external, and you know I can do nothing with externalities."
He did not understand, and it was impossible to explain without entering
into a complete exposition of Ulick's idea regarding "Parsifal." The
subject of "Parsifal" had always been disagreeable to him, but he had
not been able to find any argument against the art of it. So the
criticism "revolting hypocrisy," "externality," and the statement that
the prelude to "Lohengrin" was an inspiration, whereas the prelude to
"Parsifal" was but a marvellous piece of handicraft, delighted him. He
had always known these things, but had not been able to give them
expression. He wondered how Evelyn had attained to so clear an
understanding, and then, unconsciously detecting another mind in the
argument, he said--
"I wonder what Ulick Dean thinks of 'Parsifal?' Something original, I'm
She could not explain that she had not intended to deceive; she could
not tell him that she was so pressed and obsessed by the question of her
marriage that she hardly knew what she was saying, and had repeated
Ulick's ideas mechanically. She already seemed to stand convicted of
insincerity. He evidently suspected her, and all the while he spoke of
Ulick and "Parsifal," she suffered a sort of trembling sickness, and
that he should have perceived whence her enlightenment had come
embittered her against him. Suddenly he came to the end of what he had
to say; their eyes met, and he said,--
"Very well, Evelyn, we'll be married next week; is that soon enough?"
The abruptness of his choice fell upon her so suddenly, that she
answered stupidly that next week would do very well. She felt that she
ought to get up and kiss him, and she was painfully conscious that her
expression was the reverse of pleased.
"I don't want to limp to the altar; were it not for the gout I'd say
to-morrow.... But something has happened, something has forced you to
He did not dare to suggest scruples of conscience. But his thoughts were
already back in Florence.
"Only that you often have said you'd like to marry me. One never knows
if such things are true. It may have been mere gallantry on your part;
on the other hand, I am vain enough to believe that perhaps you meant
it." Then it seemed to her that she must be sincere. "As I am determined
that our present relations shall cease, there was no help for it but to
come and tell you."
Her eyes were cast down; the expression of her face was calm resolution,
whereas his face betrayed anxiety, and the twitching and pallor of the
eyes a secret indecision with which he was struggling.
"Then I suppose it is scruples of conscience.... You've been to Mass at
"We won't enter into that question. We've talked it for the last six
years; you cannot change me."
The desire to please was inveterate in her, and she felt that she had
never been so displeasing, and she was aware that he was showing to
better advantage in this scene than she was. She wished that he had
hesitated; if he had only given her some excuse for--She did not finish
the sentence in her mind, but thought instead that she liked him better
when he wasn't so good; goodness did not seem to suit him.
She wore a beautiful attractive gown, a mauve silk embroidered with
silver irises, and he regretted his gout which kept him from the ball.
He caught sight of her as she passed down the glittering floor, saving
with a pretty movement of her shoulders the dress that was slipping from
them, he saw himself dancing with her.... They passed in front of a
mirror, and looking straight over her shoulder his eyes followed the
tremulous sparkle of the diamond wings which she wore in her hair. Then,
yielding to an impulse of which he was not ashamed, for it was as much
affection as it was sensual, he drew over a chair--he would have knelt
at her feet had it not been for his gout--and passing his arm about her
waist, he said--
"Dearest, I'm very fond of you, you know that. It is not my fault if I
prefer to be your lover rather than your husband." He kissed her on her
shoulders, laying his cheek on her bosom. "Don't you believe that I am
fond of you, Evelyn?"
"Yes, Owen, I think you are."
"Not a very enthusiastic reply. It used to be you who delighted to throw
your arms about my neck. But all that is over and done with."
"One is not always in such humours, Owen."
Watching each other's eyes they were conscious of their souls; every
moment it seemed as if their souls must float up and be discovered; and,
while fearing discovery, there came a yearning to stand out of all
shadow in the full light. But they could not tell their souls; words
fell back abortive; and they recognised the mortal lot of alienation;
and rebelling against it, he held her face, he sought her lips, but she
turned her face aside, leaving him her cheek.
"Why do you turn your lips away? It is a long time since I've kissed you
... you're cold and indifferent lately, Evelyn."
A memory of Ulick shot through her mind, and he would have divined her
thought if his perception had not been blinded by the passion which
"No, Owen, no. We're an engaged couple; we're no longer lovers."
"And you think that we should begin by respecting the marriage
She seemed to lose sight of him, she perceived only the general idea,
that outline of her life which he represented, and which she could in a
way trace in the furniture of the room. It was in this room she had said
she would be his mistress. It was from this room she had started for
Paris. Her eyes lighted on the harpsichord. He had bought it in some
vague intention of presenting it to her father, some day when they were
reconciled; the viola da gamba he had bought for her sake; it was the
poor little excuse he had devised for coming to see her at Dulwich.
She saw the Gainsborough: how strange and remote it seemed! She looked
at the Corot, its sentimentality was an irritation. In the Chippendale
bookcases there were many books she had given him; and the white chimney
piece was covered with her photographs. There he was, a tall, thin man,
elegant and attractive notwithstanding the forty-five years, dressed in
a silk shirt and a black smoking suit. Their eyes met again, she could
see that he was thinking it over; but it was all settled now, neither
could draw back, and the moments were tense and silent; and as if
confronted by some imminent peril, she wondered.
"You arranged that I should leave the stage when I married, and you say
that we are to be married next week. You don't want me to throw up my
engagement at Covent Garden? I should like to play Isolde."
"Of course you must play Isolde; I must hear you sing Isolde."
She felt that she must get up and thank him, she felt that she must be
nice to him; and laying her hand on his shoulder, she said--
"I hope I don't seem ungrateful; you have always been very good to me,
Owen. I hope I shall make a good wife."
"I think I am less changed than you; I don't think you care for me as
you used to."
"Yes, I do, Owen, but I am not always the same. I can't help myself."
He watched her face; she had forgotten him, she was again thinking of
herself. She had tried to be sincere, but again had been mastered by her
mood. No, she did not dislike him, but she wished for an interval, a
temporary separation. It seemed to her that she didn't want to see him
for some weeks, some months, perhaps. If he would consent to such an
alienation, she felt that she would come back fonder of him than ever.
All this did not seem very sane, but she could not think otherwise, and
the desire of departure was violent in her as a nostalgia.
"We have been very fond of each other. I wonder if we shall be as happy
in married life? Do you think we shall?"
"I hope so, Owen, but somehow I don't see myself as Lady Asher."
"You know everyone--Lady Ascott, Lady. Somersdean, they are all your
friends, it will be just the same."
"Yes, it'll be just the same."
He did not catch the significance of the repetition. He was thinking of
the credit she would do him as Lady Asher. He heard his friends
discussing his marriage at the clubs. She was going to Lady Ascott's
ball, and would announce her engagement there. To-morrow everyone would
be talking about it. He would like his engagement known, but not while
she was on the stage. But when he mentioned this, she said she did not
see why their engagement should be kept a secret. It did not matter
much; he was quite ready to give way, but he could not understand why
the remark should have angered her. And her obstinacy frightened him not
a little. If he were to find a different woman in his wife from the
woman he had loved in the opera singer!
"Evelyn, you have lived with me in spite of your scruples for the last
six years; why should we not go on for one more year? When you have sung
Kundry, we can be married."
"Owen, do you think you want to marry me? Is not your offer mere
chivalry? _Noblesse oblige_?"
That he was still master of the situation caused a delicious pride to
mount to his head. For a moment he could not answer, then he asked if
she were sure that she had not come to care for someone else, and
feeling this to be ineffective, he added--
"I've always noticed that when women change their affections, they
become a prey to scruples of conscience."
"If I cared for anyone else, should I come to you to-night and offer to
"You're a strange woman; it would not surprise me if the reason why you
wish to be married is because you're afraid of a second lover. That
would be very like you."
His words startled her in the very bottom of her soul; she had not
thought of such a thing, but now he mentioned it, she was not sure that
he had not guessed rightly.
How well he understood one side of her nature; how he failed to
understand the other! It was this want in him that made marriage between
them impossible. She smiled mysteriously, for she was thinking how far
and how near he had always been.
"Tell me, Evelyn, tell me truly, is it on account of religious scruples,
or is it because you are afraid of falling in love with Ulick Dean, that
you came here to-night and asked me to marry you?"
"Owen, we can live in contradiction to our theories, but not in
contradiction to our feelings, and you know that my life has always
seemed to me fundamentally wrong."
For a moment he seemed to understand, but his egotism intervened, and a
moment after he understood nothing, except that for some stupid morality
she was about to break her artistic career sharp off.
He strove to think what was passing behind that forehead. He tried to
read her soul in the rounded temples, the bright, nervous eyes. His and
her understanding of life and the mystery of life were as wide apart as
the earth and the moon, and he could but stare wondering. No inkling of
the truth reached him. As he strove to understand her mind he grew
irritated, and turned against that shadow religion which had always
separated them. Without knowing why--almost in spite of himself--he
began to argue with her. He reminded her of her inconsistencies. She had
always said that a lover was much more exciting than a husband. If it
had not been for her religion, he did not believe they would have
thought of marriage, they would have gone on to the end as they had
begun. The sound of his voice entered her ears, but the meaning of the
words did not reach her brain, and when she had said that she had come
to him not on account of Ulick, but on account of her conscience, she
sat perplexed, trying to discover if she had told the truth.
"You're not listening, Evelyn."
"Yes, I am, Owen. You said that I had always said that a lover was much
more exciting than a husband."
"If so, why then--"
They stared blankly at each other. Everything had been said. They were
engaged to be married. What was the use of further argument? She
mentioned that it was getting late, and that Lady Duckle was waiting for
"She will tell her first," he thought, "and she'll tell Lady Ascott.
They'll all be talking of it at supper. 'So Owen has gone off at last,'
they'll say. I'll hear of it at the club to-morrow."
"I wonder what Lady Ascott will think?" he said, as he put her into the
"I don't know.... I shall not go to the ball. Tell him to take me home."
She lay back in the blue shadows of the brougham, striving to come to
terms with herself, to arrive at some plain conclusion. It seemed to her
that she had been animated by an honest and noble purpose. She had gone
to Owen in the intention of marrying him if he wished to marry her,
because it had seemed to her that it was her duty to marry him. But
everything had turned out the very opposite of what she had intended,
and looking back upon the hour she had spent with him, it seemed to her
that she had certainly deceived him. She certainly had deceived herself.
She could not believe that she was going to marry Owen. She felt that it
was not to be, and before the presentiment her her soul paused. She
asked herself why she felt that it was not to be. There was no reason;
but she felt quite clear on the point, and could not combat the clear
conviction. She began thinking the obvious drama--Owen discovering her
with Ulick, declining ever to see her again, her suicide or his, etc.
But she could not believe that Owen would decline ever to see her again
even if--but she was not going to go wrong with Ulick, there was no use
supposing such things, And again her thoughts paused, and like things
frightened by the dark, withdrew silently, not daring to look further.
She met Ulick every night at the theatre, and she had him to sit with
her in her dressing-room during the entr'actes.... She remembered the
pleasure she had taken in these conversations, and the strange, whirling
impulse which drew them all the while closer, until they dreaded the
touching of their knees. She had taken him back in the carriage and he
had kissed her; she had allowed him to kiss her the other night, and she
knew that if she were alone with him again that she would not be able to
resist the temptation. Her thoughts turned a little, and she considered
what her life would be if she were to yield to Ulick. Her life would
become a series of subterfuges, and in a flash of thought she saw how,
after spending the afternoon with Ulick, she would come home to find
Owen waiting for her: he would take her in his arms, she would have to
free herself, and, feeling his breath upon her cheek, save herself
somehow from his kiss. He would suspect and question her. He would say,
"Give me your word of honour that Ulick Dean is not your lover;" and she
heard herself pledge her word in a lie, and the lie would have to be
repeated again and again.
Until she had met Ulick, she had not seen a man for years whose thoughts
ranged above the gross pleasure of the moment, the pleasure of eating,
of drinking, of love-making ... and she was growing like those people.
The other night at dinner at the Savoy she had looked round the table at
the men's faces, some seven or eight, varying in age from twenty-four to
forty-eight, and she had said to herself, "Not one of these men has done
anything worth doing, not one has even tried." Looking at the men of
twenty-four, she had said to herself, "He will do all the man of
forty-eight has done,--the same dinners, the same women, the same
racecourses, the same shooting, the same tireless search after
amusement, the same life unlit by any ideal." She was no better, Owen
was no better. There was no hope for either of them? He had surrounded
her with his friends, and she thought of the invitations ahead of her.
Her profession of an opera singer chained her to this life.... She felt
that a miracle would have to happen to extricate her from the social
mire into which she was sinking, sinking.
To give up Ulick would only make matters worse. He was the plank she
clung to in the shipwreck of all her convictions. She could not tell how
or why, but the conviction was overpowering that she could not give him
up. Happen what might happen, she must see him. If Owen were to go for a
sea voyage.... In three or four months she would have acquired that
something which he could give her and which was necessary to complete
her soul. She seemed to be quite certain on this point, and she lay back
in the brougham lost in vague wonderment. Her thoughts sank still
deeper, and thoughts came to her that had never come before, that she
had never dared to think before. Even if she were not done with Ulick
when Owen returned, it seemed to her that she could make them and
herself very happy; they both seemed necessary to her happiness, to her
fulfilment; and in her dream, for she was not responsible for her
thoughts, the enjoyment of this double love seemed to her natural and
But she awoke from her dream frightened, and feeling like one who has
lost the clue which was to lead her out of the labyrinth.
Instead of sending the footman to tell Lady Duckle that the carriage was
waiting, Evelyn got out and went up to the drawing-room.
"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Olive, but I can't go with you.
Tell Lady Ascott I am very sorry. Good-night, I'm going to my room."
"Oh, my dear Evelyn, not going ... and now that you're dressed."
Evelyn allowed herself to be persuaded. If she went to bed now she would
not sleep. She went to the ball with Lady Duckle, and as she went round
in the lancers, giving her hand first to one and then to the other, she
heard a voice crying within her, "Why are you doing these things? They
don't interest you at all."
"Eternal night, oh, lovely night, oh, holy night of love." Rapture
succeeded rapture, and the souls of the lovers rose, nearer to the
surface of life. In a shudder of silver chords he saw them float away
like little clouds towards the low rim of the universe.
But at that moment of escape reality broke in upon the dream. Melot had
betrayed them, and Ulick heard King Mark's noble and grave reproaches
like a prophecy, "Thou wert my friend and didst deceive me," he sang,
and his melancholy motive seemed to echo like a cry along the shore of
Ulick's own life. Amid calm and mysteriously exalted melodies,
expressive of the terror and pathos of fate fulfilled, Tristan's resolve
took shape, and as he fell mortally wounded, the melancholy Mark motive
was heard again, and again Ulick asked what meaning it might have for
him. He heard the applause, loud in the stalls, growing faint as it rose
tier above tier. Baskets of flowers, wreaths and bouquets were thrown
from the boxes or handed up from the orchestra, the curtain was rung up
again, and her name was called from different parts of the theatre. And
when the curtain was down for the last time, he saw her in the middle of
the stage talking to Tristan and Brangaene. The garden scene was being
carried away, and to escape from it Evelyn took Tristan's hand and ran
to the spot where Ulick was standing. She loosed the hand of her stage
lover, and dropping a bouquet, held out two small hands to Ulick covered
with violet powder. The hallucination of the great love scene was still
in her eyes; it still, he could see, surged in her blood. She had nearly
thrown herself into his arms, seemed regardless of those around; she
seemed to have only eyes for him; he heard her say under her breath,"
That music maddens me," then with sudden composure, but looking at him
intently, she asked him to come upstairs with her.
For the last few days he had been engaged in prediction, and last night
he had been visited by dreams, the significance of which he could not
doubt. But his reading of her horoscope had been incomplete, or else he
had failed to understand the answers. That he was a momentous event in
her life seemed clear, yet all the signs were set against their
marriage; but what was happening had been revealed--that he should stand
with her in a room where the carpet was blue, and they were there; that
the furniture should be of last century, and he examined the cabinets in
the corners, which were satinwood inlaid with delicate traceries, and on
the walls were many mirrors and gold and mahogany frames.
"Merat!" The maid came from the dressing-room. "You have some friends in
front. You can go and sit with them. I sha'n't want you till the end."
When the door closed, their eyes met, and they trembled and were in
dread. "Come and sit by me." She indicated his place by her side on the
sofa. "We are all alone. Talk to me. How did I sing to-night?"
"Never did the music ever mean so much as it did to-night," he said,
"What did it mean?"
"Everything. All the beauty and the woe of existence were in the music
Their thoughts wandered from the music, and an effort was required to
return to it.
"Do you remember," she said, with a little gasp in her voice, "how the
music sinks into the slumber motive, 'Hark, beloved;' then he answers,
'Let me die'?"
"Yes, and with the last note the undulating tune of the harps begins in
the orchestra. Brangaene is heard warning them."
They sat looking at each other. In sheer desperation she said--
"And that last phrase of all, when the souls of the lovers seemed to
"Over the low rim of the universe--like little clouds."
He tried to speak of his ideas, but he could not collect his thoughts,
and after a few sentences he said, "I cannot talk of these things."
The room seemed to sway and cloud, and her arms to reach out
instinctively to him, and she would have fallen into his arms if he had
not suddenly asked her what had been decided at Sir Owen Asher's.
"Let me kiss you, Evelyn," he said, "or I shall go mad."
"No, Ulick, this is not nice of you. I shall not be able to ask you to
my room again."
He let go her hand, and she said--
"I'm not going to marry Sir Owen, but I must not let you kiss me."
"But you must, Evelyn, you must."
"Why must I?"
"Do you not feel that it is to be?"
"What is to be?"
"I do not know what, but I have been drawn towards you so long a
while--long before I saw you, ever since I heard your name, the moment I
saw that old photograph in the music-room, I knew."
"What did you know?"
"When I heard your name it called up an image in my mind, and that image
has never wholly left me--it comes back often like a ghost."
"When you were thinking of something different?"
"I am your destiny, or one of your destinies."
Her eyes were fixed eagerly upon him; his darkness and the mysteries he
represented attracted her, and she even felt she could follow. At the
same moment his eyes seemed the most beautiful in the world, and she
desired him to make love to her. While enticing, she resisted him, now
more feebly, and when he let go her hands she sat looking at him,
wondering how she was to get through the evening without kissing him....
She spoke to him about his opera. He asked her if she were going to sing
it, and she looked at him with vague, uncertain eyes. He said he knew
she never would. She asked him why he thought so, and again a great
longing bent him towards her. She withdrew her hands and face from his
lips, and they had begun to talk of other things when he perceived her
face close to his. Unable to resist he kissed her cheek, fearing that
she would order him from the room. But at the instant of the touching of
his lips, she threw her arm about his neck, and drew him down as a
mermaiden draws her mortal lover into the depths, and in a wondering
world of miraculous happiness he surrendered himself.
"Dearest, dearest," he said, raising himself to look at her.
"Ulick, Ulick," she said, "let me kiss you, I've longed such a while."
He thought he had never seen so radiant a face. What disguise had
fallen? And looking at her, he strove to discover the woman who had
denied him so often. This new woman seemed made all of light and love
and transport, the woman of all his divinations, the being the old
photograph in the old music-room had warned him of, the being that the
voice of his destiny had told him he was to meet. And as they stood by
the fireplace looking into each other's eyes, he gradually became aware
of his happiness. It broke in his heart with a thrill and shiver like an
exquisite dawn, opal and rose; the brilliancy of her eyes, the rapture
of her face, the magnetic stirring of the little gold curls along her
forehead were so wonderful that he feared her as an enchanter fears the
spirit he has raised. Like one who has suddenly chanced on the hilltop,
he gazed on the prospect, believing it all to be his. They stood gazing
into each other's eyes too eager to speak, and when she called his name
he remembered the legended forest, and replied with the song of the bird
that leads Siegfried to Brunnhilde. She laughed, and sang the next two
bars, and then seemed to forget everything.
"Dearest, of what are you thinking?"
"Only if I ever shall kiss you again, Ulick."
"You will always kiss me!"
She did not answer, and, frightened by her irresponsive eyes, he said--
"But, Evelyn, you must love me, me--only me; you will never see him
She did not answer, and when he spoke, his voice trembled.
"But it is impossible you can ever marry him now."
"I am not going to marry Owen."
"You told him so the other night?"
"Yes, I told him, or very nearly, that I could not marry him."
"You cannot marry him, you love me.... But why don't you answer. What
are you thinking of?"
"Only of you, dear.... Let me kiss you again," and in the embrace he
forgot for the moment the inquietude her answer had caused him.
"That is my call," she said. "How am I to sing the Liebestod after all
this? How does it begin?"
Ulick sang the opening phrase, and she continued the music for some
"I hope I shall get through it all right. Then," she said, "we shall go
home together in the brougham."
At that moment a knock was heard, and Merat entered. "Mademoiselle, you
have no time to lose."
The call boy's voice was heard on the stairs, and Evelyn hastened away.
Ulick followed, and the first thing he heard when he got on the stage
was Tristan's death motive. He listened, not so much to the music itself
as to its occult significance regarding Evelyn and himself. And as
Isolde's grief changed from wild lament for sensual delight to a
resigned and noble prayer, the figure of ecstasy broke with a sound as
of wings shaking, and Ulick seemed to witness a soul's transfiguration.
He watched it rising in several ascensions, like a lark's flight. For an
instant it seemed to float in some divine consummation, then, like the
bird, to suddenly quench in the radiance of the sky. The harps wept
farewell over the bodies of the lovers, then all was done, and he stood
at the wings listening to the applause. She came to him at once, as soon
as the curtain was down.
"How did I sing it?"
"As well as ever."
"But you seem sad; what is it?"
"It seemed to mean something--something, I cannot tell what, something
to do with us."
"No," she said, looking at him. "I was only thinking of the music. Wait
for me, dear, I shall not keep you long."
He walked up and down the stage, and in his hand was a wreath that some
admirer had kept for the last. For excitement he could hardly bid the
singers good-night as they passed him. Now it was Tristan, now Brangaene,
now one of the chorus. The question raged within him. Was it fated that
she should marry him? So far as he understood the omens she would not;
but the readings were obscure, and his will threw itself out in
opposition to the influence of Sir Owen. But he was not certain that
that was the direction whence the danger was coming. He could only
exert, however, his will in that direction. At last he saw her coming
down the steep stairs, wrapped in a white opera cloak. They walked in
silence--she all rapture, but his happiness already clouded. The
brougham was so full of flowers that they, could hardly find place for
themselves. She drew him closer, and said--
"What is the matter, dear? Am I not nice to you?"
"Yes, Evelyn, you're an enchantment. Only--"
"Only what, dear?"
"I fear our future. I fear I shall lose you. All has come true so far,
the end must happen."
She drew his arm about her waist, and laid his face on her bare
"Let there be no foreboding. Live in the present."
"The future is too near us. Say you'll marry me, or else I shall lose
you altogether. It is the one influence on our side."
She was born, he said, under two great influences, but each could be
modified; one might be widened, the other lessened, and both
modifications might finally resolve into her destiny. So far as he could
read her future, it centred in him or another. That other, he was sure,
was not Sir Owen, nor was it himself, he thought; for when she and he
had met in the theatre, she had experienced no dread, but he had dreaded
her, recognising her as his destiny. He had even recognised her as
Evelyn Innes before she had been pointed out to him.
"But you had seen my photograph?"
"But it was not by your photograph that I knew you."
"And you knew that I should care for you?"
"I knew that something had to happen. But you did not feel that I was
your destiny. You said you experienced no dread, but when you met Sir
Owen did you experience none?"
"I suppose I did. I was afraid of him. At first I think I hated him."
"Ah, Evelyn, we shall not marry--it is not our fate. You see that you
cannot say you will marry me. Another fate is beckoning you."
"Who is it who beckons me? Have I already met him?"
He fell to dreaming again, and Evelyn asked him vainly to describe this
"Why are you singing that melancholy Mark motive?"
"I did not know I was singing it." He returned to his dream again, but
starting from it, he seized her hands.
"Evelyn," he said, "we must marry; a reason obliges us. Have you not
thought of it?" And then, as if he had not noticed that she had not
answered his question, he said, "On your father's account, if he should
ever know. Think what my position is. I have betrayed my friend. That is
why the Marie motive has been singing in my head. Evelyn, you must say
you will marry me. We must marry at once, for your father's sake. I have
betrayed him, my best friend.... I have acted worse than that other
"Ulick, dear, open the window; the scent of these flowers is
overpowering.... That is better. Throw some of those bouquets into the
street. We might give them to those poor men, they might be able to sell
them.... Tell the coachman to stop."
The chime of destiny sounded clearer than ever in their ears; it seemed
as if they could almost catch the tune, and with a convulsive movement
Evelyn drew her lover towards her.
"Every hour threatens us," he said. "Can you not hear? Do not go to Park
Lane--Park Lane threatens; your friend Lady Duckle threatens. I see
nothing but threats and menaces; all are leagued against us."
"Dearest, we cannot spend the night driving about London."
He sighed on his mistress's shoulder. She threw his black hair from his
"There is no hope. We shall be separated, scattered to different winds."
"Why do you think that? How do you know these things, Ulick?"
"Evelyn, in losing you I lose the principle of my life, but you will
lose nothing in losing me. So it is written. But you are not listening;
I am wearying you; you're clinging to the present, knowing that you will
soon lose it."
She threw herself upon him, and kissed him as if she would annihilate
destiny on his lips, and until they reached Park Lane there was no
future, only a delirious present for both of them.
"I won't ask you in; I am tired. Good-bye, dearest, good-bye. I'll
"Remember that my time is short," and there was a strange accent in his
voice which she did not hear till long after. She had locked herself
into the sensual present, and, lulled in happy sensations of gratified
sense, she allowed Merat to undress her. She thought of the soft luxury
of her bed, and lay down, her brain full of floating impressions of
flowers, music and of love.
And when Merat called her in the morning, she was dreaming of love. She
turned over, and, closing her eyes, strove to continue her dream, but it
fled like moonshine from her memory, and was soon so far distant that
she could not even perceive the subject of it. And she awoke in spite of
herself, and sat up in bed sipping her chocolate; and then lay back upon
the pillow with Ulick for the inner circle of her thought. It seemed
that she could think of him for hours; the romance of his personality
carried her on and on. At one moment she dwelt on the gold glow in his
dark eyes, the paint-like blackness of his hair, and his long thin
hands. At another her fancy liked to evoke his superstitions. For him
the past, present and future were not twain, but one thing. And every
time she saw him, she was more and more interested. Every time she
discovered something new in him--he did not exist on the surface of
things, but deep in himself; and she wondered if she would ever know
Her thoughts paused a moment, and then she remembered something he had
said. It had struck her at the time, but now it appeared to her more
than ever interesting. Catholicism, he had said, had not fallen from
him--he had merely learnt that it was only part of the truth; he had
gone further, he had raised himself to a higher spirituality. It was not
that he wanted less, but more than Catholicism could give him. In
religion, as in art, there were higher and lower states. We began by
admiring "Faust," and went on to Wagner, hence to Beethoven and
Palestrina. Catholicism was the spiritual fare of the multitude; there
was a closer communion with the divine essence. She had forgotten what
came next.... He held that we are always warned of our destiny and it
had been proved that in the hypnotic sleep, when the pulse of life was
weakest, almost at pause, there was a heightening of the powers of
vision and hearing. A patient whose eyes had been covered with layers of
cotton wool had been able to read the newspaper. Another patient had
been able to tell what was passing in another mind, and at a distance of
a mile. The only explanation that Charcot could give of this second
experiment was that the knowledge had been conveyed through the rustling
of the blood in the veins, which the hypnotic sleep had enabled the
patient to hear. And Ulick submitted that this scientific explanation
was more incredible than any spiritual one. There was much else. There
was all Ulick's wonderful talk about the creation of things by thought,
and his references to the mysterious Kabbala had strangely interested
her. But suddenly she remembered that perchance his spiritualism was
allied to the black art of the necromancers; and her Catholic conscience
was mysteriously affrighted, and she experienced the attraction of
terror. Was it possible that he believed that all the accidents, or what
we suppose are accidents, have been earned in a preceding life? Did he
really believe that lovers may tempt each other life after life, that a
group of people may come together again?
"Mademoiselle, it is half-past ten."
"Very well, Merat, I will get up. I will ring for you when I have had my
"Lady Duckle has gone out, and will not be home for lunch."
There was not even a letter, and the day stretched out before her. Ulick
might call, but she did not think he would. She thought of a visit to
her father, but something held her back, and Dulwich was a long way.
After breakfast she went to the piano and sang some of Ulick's music;
stopping suddenly in the middle of a bar, she thought she would send him
a note asking him to come to lunch. But what should she do till two
o'clock? it was now only eleven. Suddenly it struck her that she might
take a hansom and go and see him. She had never seen his rooms, and to
visit him there would be more amusing than for him to come to Park Lane;
and she imagined his surprise and delight at seeing her. Her thoughts
went to the frock she would wear--a new one had come home
yesterday--this would be an excellent opportunity to wear it. She would
take him to lunch with her at some restaurant! She was in excellent
humour. Her thoughts amused her, and she reflected that she had done
well to choose the pale shot silk with green shades in it. It was
trimmed with black lace, and she selected a large black hat with black
ostrich feathers to wear with it.
And seeing the people in the streets as she drove past, she wondered if
they were as happy as she was. She speculated on their errands, and
wondered if many of the women were going, like her, to their lovers. She
wondered what their lovers were like, and she laughed at her thoughts.
Seeing that she was passing through a very mean street, she hoped that
Ulick's rooms were not too Bohemian, and felt relieved when she found
that the street she dreaded led into a square. A square, she reflected,
always means a certain measure of respectability. And the faded,
old-fashioned neighbourhood pleased her. Some of the houses seemed as if
they had known more fashionable days; and the square exhaled a tender
melancholy; it suggested a vision of dreamy lives--lives lived in
ideas, lives of students who lived in books unaware of the externality
But the cabman could not find the number, and Evelyn impatiently
inquired it from the vagrant children. There were groups of them on the
wide doorstep, and Evelyn imagined the interior of the house, wide
passages, gently-sloping staircase, its heavy banisters. It surprised
and amused her to find that she had imagined it quite correctly; and
when she reached the landing to which she had been directed, she
stopped, hearing his voice. He was only talking to himself; she pushed
the door and called to him.
"Oh, it is you?" he said; "you have come sooner than I expected."
"Then you expected me, Ulick?"
"Yes, I expected you."
"Expected me ...to-day! But, Ulick, what were you saying when I came
"Only some Kabbalistic formula," he replied, quite naturally.
"But you don't really believe in such superstitions, and it surely is
He looked at her incredulously, as he might at some beautiful apparition
likely at any moment to vanish from his sight, then reverentially drew
her towards him and kissed her. Her hand was laid on his shoulder, and
in a delicious apprehension she stood looking at him.
"Where shall we sit?"
He threw some books and papers from a long cane chair, and she lay down
in it. He sat on the arm, and then tried to talk.
"Let me take your hat."
She unpinned it, and he placed it on the piano.
His room was lighted by two square windows looking on the open space in
front of the square, where the vagrant children gathered in noisy groups
round a dripping iron fountain. The floor was covered with grey-green
drugget, and near the fireplace, drawn in front of the window, was a
large oak table covered with papers of various kinds. Against the end
wall there was a bookcase, and there were shelves filled with books.
There were two arm-chairs, a piano, and some prints of Blake's
illustrations to Dante on the wall. The writing table, covered with
manuscript music, roused Evelyn's curiosity. She glanced down a page of
orchestration, and then picked up the first pages of an article, and
having read them she said--
"How severe you are in your articles. You are gentler in your music,
more like yourself; but I see your servant does not waste her time
dusting your books ...and that is your bedroom, may I see it?"
He looked at her abashed. "I am afraid my room will seem to you very
unluxurious. I have read of prima donnas' bed-rooms."
But the bare simplicity of the room did not displease her; it seemed to
her more natural to sleep in a low, narrow bed like his, than in fine
linen and eiderdown quilts, and she liked the scant, bleak furniture,
the two chairs, the iron wash-hand stand, and the window curtained with
a bit of Indian muslin. They stood talking, hardly knowing what they
were saying. Her eyes embarrassed him, and she stopped in the middle of
"Now, Ulick," she said, turning towards the door, "I want you to take me
to lunch. We'll go to the Savoy."
He had to admit he had not sufficient money. Three shillings and
sixpence were what remained until he received the cheque from one of his
"But I am not going to have you pay for my lunch, Ulick. I am asking
you. Be nice, don't refuse; what does it matter? What does money matter
to me? It comes in so fast that I don't know what to do with it."
It was at the end of the season, and there were not many people in the
low-ceilinged dining-room. All the waiters knew Evelyn, and she was
conducted ceremoniously to a table. And as she passed up the room, she
wondered what was being thought of Ulick. He was so different from the
exquisite, foppish elegance of the man she was usually seen with. He was
strange-looking, but Ulick was as distinguished as Owen, only the
distinction was of another kind.
He always remembered how at the end of lunch she took out her gold
knitted purse, and emptied its contents on the tablecloth. And he was
astonished at the casualness with which she spent money in every shop
that caught her fancy. The afternoon included a visit to the saddler's,
where she had to make inquiries about bits and bridles. She called at
two jewellers, where she had left things to be mended. She ordered a
dozen pair of boots, and purchased a large quantity of stationery after
a long discussion about dies, stamps and monograms. And when all this
was finished, she proposed they should have tea in Kensington Gardens.
Ulick knew very little of London. He knew Victoria Station, for he took
the train there to Dulwich; the Strand, for he went there to see
editors; and Bloomsbury, because he lived there. But he had never been
to the park, and seemed puzzled when Evelyn spoke of the Serpentine and
the round pond. It was surprising, he said, to find forest groves in the
heart of London. They had tea at a little table set beneath huge
branches, and after tea they sat on a sloping lawn facing the long
water. She wondered if he were aware of the beauty of things, the wonder
of life, the blue of the sky, the romance of the clouds. But she was
bent on hearing of the invisible world apparently always so visible to
him, and she tried to win his thoughts away from the park, and to lead
him to speak of his visions. She did not know if she believed in them,
but she pined for exaltation, for, an unloosening of the materialistic
terror in which Owen had tied her, and in this mood Ulick's dreams
floated up in her life, like clouds in a cloudless sky. He sat talking,
lost in his dreams, and she sat listening like one enchanted. Now their
talk had strayed from the descriptions of visions beheld by folk who
lived in back parlours in Bloomsbury squares to the philosophy of his
own belief; and she smiled for delight at seeing the Druid in him. The
ancient faiths had survived in him, and it seemed natural and even right
that he should believe that after death men pass to the great plain of
the land over the sea, the land of the children of Dana. Men lived
there, he said, for a while, enjoying all their desires, and at the end
of this period they are born again. Man lives between two desires--his
desire of spiritual peace and happiness, and his desire of earthly
"Oh, how true that is!"
"Man's desire of earthly experience," Ulick continued, "draws him to
re-birth, and he is born into a form that fits his nature as a glove
fits a hand; the soul of a warrior passes into the robust form of a
warrior; the soul of a poet into the most sensitive body of a poet; so
you see how modern science has only robbed the myths of their beauty."
He spoke of the old Irish legend of Mongan and the Bard, and Evelyn
begged of him to tell it her.
"Mongan," he said, "had been Fin MacCool two hundred years before. When
he was Fin he had been present at the death of a certain king. The bard
was singing before Mongan, and mis-stated the place of the king's death.
Mongan corrected him, and the Bard was so incensed at the correction
that he threatened to satirise the kingdom so that it should become
barren. And he would only agree to withhold his terrible satire if
Mongan would give him his wife.
"Yes, just so," Ulick replied, laughing. "Mongan asked for three days'
delay to consider the dreadful dilemma in which the Bard's threat had
placed him. And during that time Mongan sat with his wife consoling her,
saying, "A man will come to us, his feet are already upon the western
sea." And at the time when the Bard stood up to claim the wife, a
strange warrior came into the encampment, holding a barbless spear. He
said that he was Caolte, one of Fin's famous warriors, that the king
whose place of death was in dispute was killed where Mongan had said,
that if they dug down into the earth they would find the spear-head,
that it would fit the shaft he held in his hand, that it was the
spear-head that had killed the king."
"Go on, and tell me some more stories. I love to listen to you--you are
better than any play."
And she wondered if he were indeed an ancient Druid come to life again,
and that the instinct of the ancient rites lingered in him. However this
might be, he could answer all her questions, and she was much interested
when at the end of another tale he told her of Blake's visions and
prophetic books. She knew little about Blake, and listened to Ulick's
account of his visions and prophecies. Evelyn thought of Owen, and to
escape from the thought she spoke of a legend which Ulick had once
mentioned to her.
"You did not tell it to me, only the end; the very last phrase is all I
know of it, 'and the further adventures of Bran are unknown.'"
"Bran, the son of Feval, is the story of a man who went to the great
plain, the land over the sea, the land of the children of Dana. He was
sitting in his court when a beautiful woman appeared, and she told him
to man his ship and sail to the land of the Gods, the land where no one
dies, where blossoms fall for ever.... I have forgotten the song, what a
wonderful song it is. Ah, I remember, 'Where music is not born, but
continually is there, where' ... no, I can't remember it. Bran sails
away, and after sailing for some days he meets a man driving a chariot
over the waves. This man says, 'To my eyes you are sailing over the tops
of a forest,' and in many other ways makes clear to him that all things
are but appearances, and change with the eye that sees them."
"How true that is. At Lady Ascott's ball I was enjoying myself,
delighted with the brilliancy of the dresses, the jewellery and the
flowers, and in a moment they all passed away; I only saw a little
triviality and heard a voice crying within me, 'Why are you here, why
are you doing these things? This ball means nothing to you.'"
"That was the voice of your destiny; your life is no longer with Owen."
"With whom is it, Ulick? Tell me, you can see into the future."
"I know no more than I told you last night. I am your destiny for
They looked at each other in fear and sadness--and though both knew the
truth, neither could speak it.
"Then what happens to Bran, the son of Feval?"
"Bran visits many islands of many delights, but wishing to see his
native land once more, he sails away, but the people of those islands
have told him that he must not set foot on any earthly shore, or he will
perish. So he sails close to his native land, but does not leave the
ship. The inhabitants ask him who he is; he tells them, and they reply,
'The voyage of Bran, son of Feval, is among our most ancient stories.'
One man swims ashore, and the moment his foot touches earth he becomes a
heap of dust. Bran sails away, and the story ends with a phrase which
you already know--'The further adventures of Bran are unknown.'"
"How true! how true! the stories of our lives are known up to a certain
point, and our further adventures are unknown."
They were glad of a little silence, and Evelyn sat striving to read her
own destiny in the legend. Bran visited many islands of many delights,
but when he wished to return to his native land he was told that he must
do no more than to sail along its coast, that if he set foot on any
earthly shore he would perish. But what did this story mean, what
meaning had it for her? She had visited many islands of many delights,
and had come home again! What meaning had this story for her? why had
she remembered the last phrase? why had she been impelled to ask Ulick
to tell her this story? She looked at him--he sat with his eyes on the
ground absorbed in thought, but she did not think he was thinking of the
legend, but of how soon he would lose her, and she shuddered in the warm
summer evening as from a sudden chill. It was now nearly seven
o'clock--she would soon have to go home to dress for dinner. They were
dining out, she and Lady Duckle, and she would meet once more Lady
Ascott, Lady Summersdean, those people whose lives she had begun to feel
had no further concern for her.
The hour was inexpressibly calm and alluring; the blue pallor of the sky
and the fading of the sunset behind the tall Bayswater houses raised the
soul with a tingling sense of exalted happiness and delicious
melancholy? She did not ask herself if she loved Ulick better than Owen;
she only knew that she must act as she was acting--that the moment had
not come when she would escape from herself. They walked by the water's
edge, their souls still like the water, and like it, full of calm
reflections. They were aware of the evening's sad serenity, and the
little struggling passions of their lives. Very often Nature seemed on
the very point of whispering her secret, but it escaped her ears like an
echo in the far distance, like a phantom that disappears in the mist.
"Will you come and see me to-morrow?" he asked suddenly.
"We had better not see each other every day," she said; "still, I don't
see there would be any harm if you came to see me in the afternoon."
Her conscience drowsed like this heavy, somnolent evening, and a red
moon rose behind the tall trees.
"The time will come," he said, "when you will hate me, Evelyn."
"I don't think I shall be as unjust as that. Good-bye, dear, the
afternoon has passed very pleasantly."
Owen had telegraphed to her and she had come at once. But how callous
and unsympathetic she was. If people knew what she was, no one would
speak to her. If Owen knew that she had desired his mother's death ...
But had she? She had only thought that, if Lady Asher were not to
recover, it were better that she died before she, Evelyn, arrived at
Riversdale. As the carriage drove through the woods she noticed that
they were empty and silent, save for the screech of one incessant bird,
and she thought of the dead woman's face, and contrasted it with the
The house stood on the side of some rising ground in the midst of the
green park. Cattle were grazing dreamily in the grass, which grew rich
and long about a string of ponds, and she could see Owen walking under
the colonnade. As the carriage came round the gravel space, his eyes
sought her in the brougham, and she knew the wild and perplexed look on
"No, don't let's go into the house unless you're tired," he said, and
they walked down the drive under the branches, making, they knew not
why, for the open park. "This is terrible, isn't it? And this beautiful
summer's day too, not a cloud in the sky, not a wind in all the air. How
peaceful the cattle are in the meadow, and the swans in the pond. But we
are unhappy. Why is this? You say that it is the will of God. That is no
answer. But you think it is?"
Fearing to irritate him, she did not speak, but he would not be put off,
and she said--
"Do not let us argue, Owen, dear. Tell me about it. It was quite
"She had been in ill-health, as you know, for some time. Let us go this
He led her through the shrubbery and through the wicket into the meadows
which lay under the terrace, and, thinking of the dead woman, she
wondered at the strange, somnolent life of the cattle in the meadows and
the swans on the pond. The willows, as if exhausted by the heat, seemed
to bend under the stream, and their eyes followed the lines of the woods
and looked into the burning blue of the sky, striving to read the secret
there. A rim of moist earth under their feet, and above their heads the
infinite blue! The stillness of the summer was in every blade of grass,
in every leaf, and the pond reflected the sky and willows in hard,
immovable reflections. An occasional ripple of the water-fowl in the
reeds impressed upon them the mystery of Nature's indifference to human
"In that house behind that colonnade she lies dead. Good God! isn't it
awful! We shall never see her. But you think we shall?"
"Owen, dear, let as avoid all discussion. She was a good woman. She was
very good to me."
"I haven't told you that it was by her wish that I sent for you. She
wanted to ask you to promise to marry me.... I told her that I had asked
you, and that in a way we were engaged. I could not say more. You seemed
unsettled, you seemed to wish to get out of your promise--is not that
Evelyn thought of the scene by Lady Asher's bedside that an accident had
saved her from. Marriage was more than ever impossible. What should she
have said if Lady Asher had not died before she arrived? The dying
woman's eyes, the dying woman's voice! Good heavens! what would she have
said? But she had considered nothing. After glancing at the telegram,
she had told Merat to pack a few clothes, and had rushed away. She
pondered the various excuses she might have sent. She might have said
she was not in when the telegram came, she had only just caught the
train as it was; if she had not got the telegram before eleven o'clock
she would have been safe. But all that was past now, Lady Asher had died
before she arrived. It were better that she had died--anything were
better rather than that scene should have taken place; for she could not
have promised to marry Owen. What would she have done? Refused while
looking into her dying eyes, or run out of the room?
"You don't answer me, Evelyn."
"Owen, don't press me. Enough has been said on that subject. This is no
time to discuss such questions."
"But it is Evelyn--it was her dearest wish.... Is it then impossible?
Have you entirely ceased to care?"
"No, Owen, I'm very fond of you. But you don't really want to marry me,
it is because your mother wished it."
His face changed expression, and she knew that he was not certain on the
"Yes, Evelyn, I do, indeed I do;" and convinced for the moment that what
he said was true, he took her hands, and looking at her he added, "It
was her wish, and if what you believe be true, she is listening now from
behind that blue sky."
Both were trembling, and while the swans floated by, they considered the
depth of blue contained in the sky. He was taken with a little dread,
and was surprised to find in himself a vague, haunting belief in the
possibility of an after life. Suddenly his self-consciousness fell from
him, was merged in his instinct of the woman.
"Evelyn, if I don't marry you I shall lose you. I cannot lose you, that
would be to lose everything. I don't ask any questions, whether you like
Ulick Dean, nor even what your relations are. I only want to know if you
will marry me."
He read in her eyes that the tale of their love was ended, and heard his
future life ring hollow. It seemed strange that at such a moment the
serene swans should float about them, that the water-fowl should move in
and out of the reeds, and that the green park and the cloudless sky were
like painted paper.
"Then everything is over, everything I had to live for, all is a blank.
But when you sent me away before, you had to take me back; you're not a
woman who can live without a lover."
"It is difficult, I know."
"What has come between us, tell me? This fellow Ulick Dean or religious
"I have no right to talk about religious scruples."
"Then it is this man. You love him, you've ceased to care for me, and
you ask me to barter my right to kiss you, to take you in my arms, so
that I may remain your friend." "Why, Evelyn, have you got tired of me?"
"But I have not got tired of you, Owen. I am very fond of you."
"Yes, but you don't care any more for me to make love to you."
"Of course it is not the same as it was in the beginning, but there is
"When passion is dead, all is dead, the rest is nothing."
It seemed so shameful that he should suffer like this, and she strove to
rouse herself out of her stony determination. She was like one upon a
rampart; she could see the surrounding country, but could not escape to
it; this rampart was the instinct, in which Nature had shut her soul.
But she could not bear to see him cry.
"Oh, Evelyn, this cannot be."
Then, feeling that the reality was too brutal, she yielded to the
temptation to disguise the truth.
"I don't know what I shall do, Owen; there would be no use making
"Then you do love me a little, Evelyn?"
"Yes, Owen, you must never doubt that. I shall always be fond of you;
remember that, whatever happens."
"Yes, I know, as a friend. Look round! the earth and the sky are quiet,
and one day we shall be quiet too, only that is sure."
As they walked towards the house, their self-consciousness rose to so
high a pitch that the park and house seemed to them like a thin
illusion, a sort of painted paper reality, which might fall to pieces
at any moment. He thought how little were the hours between the present
moment and the moment when she would be taken from him. Whereas she was
thinking that these hours would never pass. She realised the long hours
before the sunlight waned. She thought of their lonely dinner and their
evening after it. All that while she would witness his grief for the
love that had gone from her, a love which she could no more give than
she could once withhold. The great green park lay before their eyes,
they strayed through the woods talking of her Isolde. He had not seen
the performance. He had been called away the day she played it, but his
pockets were full of the articles that had been written about her. The
leaves of the beech trees shimmered in the steady sunlight, and they
could see the green park through the drooping branches. She often
detected a sob in his voice, and once, while sitting under a cedar tree
at the edge of the terrace, he had to turn aside to hide his tears, and
the sadness of everything made her sick and ill.
They had tea in the west hall. Owen had ceased to complain, and she had
begun to think that she could not give him up entirely.
The day had passed somehow; dinner was over. Around the green park the
last light of the sunset grew narrower, and the cattle faded
mysteriously into the gathering gloom. Owen held converse with himself,
but with recognition of the fact that he was listened to by the second
subject of his discourse, and that they themselves were his ideas, the
figuration of his teaching, endowed his philosophy with a dramatic
"How you used to hang round my neck and listen with eager nervous eyes.
You always had the genius of exaltation. You were wonderful; I watched
you, I understood you, I appreciated you; you were a marvellous jewel I
had found, and of which I was excessively proud. I hardly lived at all
for myself. You were my life; my life lived in you. Every time I went to
see you, every appointment was a thrill, a wonder, a mystery. But it was
not until you took me back after that separation at Florence that I sank
into the depths of love. Then I became like a diver in the deep sea.
What I had known before were but the shallows of passion. What I felt
after Florence was the translucid calm of the ocean's depth. I lived in
the light of an inner consciousness, seeing you always, your face always
before me, and my whole being held in a rapt devotion, a
self-sufficiency, an exaltation beyond the reach of words. Oh, Evelyn, I
have been extraordinarily in love. But all this is nothing to you; it
even bores you."
"No, Owen, no, but you don't understand."
The desire to tell him the truth came up in her throat, but the moment
she sought to express it in words it became untruth, and it was to save
herself from falsehood that she remained silent.
"I knew my mistake, but the temptation was irresistible. I wanted so to
tell you that I loved you. I could not deny myself, effusion, tears,
aspiration. I gained two very wonderful years, and so I lost you. I
wonder if any lover would have the courage to forswear these joys so
that he might retain his mistress? Would any mistress be worthy of the
sacrifice? 'Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.'"
"Owen, dear, you're very cruel. Why do you speak like that? I shall
never cease to love you. Owen, dear, you don't hate me?" she said,
turning towards him.
The silence was intense. It seemed to enter her ears and eyes like water
or fire, and with dim sight and a dissolution of personal control of her
body, she was moved towards him, and without any sort of thrill of
desire she was drawn, almost thrown at his feet.
She accepted his kisses wearily. There was a strange look in her eyes
which he could not interpret, and she could not confide her secret, and
there was an inexpressible sadness in these last kisses, and Owen's
heart seemed to stand still when he said,--
"Her last wish was our marriage; she would be glad if she could see us."
Evelyn hid her face on his shoulders several times. He thought she was
weeping, but her eyes remained dry. He came to her room that evening,
and now that they were lovers again, it seemed to him impossible that
she could refuse to marry him. But she stood looking at him, absorbed,
in the presence of her future life, her eyes full of a strange farewell.
He could extort no words from her, and her eyes retained their strange
melancholy till her departure; his last memory of her visit was their
The forces within her were at truce. She was conscious of a suspension
of hostilities. The moment was one in which she saw, as in a mirror, her
poor, vague little soul in its hopeless wandering through life. She drew
back, not daring to see herself, and then was drawn forward by a febrile
curiosity. She felt towards them so differently that she could not think
of herself as the same person when she was with Owen as she was when she
was with Ulick. She remembered what she had heard the "dresser" say, and
she remembered the sin. But apart from the deception she practised upon
both men, there was the wrong-doing. Her conscience did not assail her
now; but she knew that she would suffer to-morrow or next day. That
sense of sin which she could not obliterate from her nature would rise
to her lips like a salt wave, and poison her life with its bitterness,
and she asked herself vain questions: Why had she left her father? Why
had she two lovers? Why did she rise to seek things that made her
unhappy? She thought of yesterday's journey to see a dying woman, and of
to-night's performance of "Tristan and Isolde." What an unhappy,
maddening jingle. The bitter wave of conscience, which rose to her lips
and poisoned her taste, forced from her an avowal that she would mend
her life. She foresaw nothing but deception, and easily imagined that
not a day would pass without lies. All her life would be a lie, and when
her nature rose in vehement revolt, she looked round for means to free
herself from the fetters and chains in which she had locked herself.
Thinking of Owen, she vowed that it must not happen again. But what
excuse would she give? Should she tell him that Ulick was her lover?
That was the only way, only it seemed so brutal. Even so she would have
a lover; and strictly speaking, she ought to send them both away. Very
probably that is what she would do in the end.... In the meantime, she
would keep them both on! Her face contracted in an expression of terror
and disgust. Had her moralising, then, ended in such miserable
selfishness as this?
To escape from her thoughts she looked out at the landscape, hoping it
would distract her. But she could take no interest in it. Yesterday it
had seemed so beautiful, but to-day it was all reversed, and the light
was different. She preferred to remember it. She thought that they must
be nearing the river, and she remembered how in one place it ran round a
field, making a silver horse shoe in the green land, they had crossed it
twice in the space of a quarter of a mile; then it followed the railway,
placid, docile, reflecting the trees and sky. Then like a child it was
soon taken with a new idea; it ran far away out of sight, and Evelyn
thought it would never return. But it came back again, turbulent and
shallow; and with woods on the steep hillside, and spanned by a
beautiful stone bridge. A little later its wanderings grew still more
perplexing, and she was not sure that it had not been joined in some
strange way by another river. But flowing round a low-lying field,
coming suddenly from behind a bend in the land, it had seemed in that
place like a pond. One bank was lined with bushes, the other lay open to
a view of a treeless plain divided by ditches. Three ladies had held
their light boat in the deep current, and she had wondered who they
were, and what was their manner of living and their desires, and though
she would never know these things, the image of these ladies in their
boat had fixed itself in her mind for ever.
Soon after the train began to slacken speed, and nervously she awaited
For she was uncertain whether she would send Ulick a telegram, telling
him to come to Park Lane, or whether she would drive straight to his
lodgings. At the bottom of her heart she knew that when she arrived at
St. Pancras she would tell the cabman, "Queen's Square, Bloomsbury." And
an hour later, nervous with expectation, she sat in the cab, seeing the
streets pass behind her. She was beginning to know the characteristics
of the neighbourhood, and in the afternoon light they awoke her out of a
trembling lethargy. She recognised the old iron gateway, the open space,
the thirsty fountain and the troop of neglected children. She liked the
forlorn and rusty square. She experienced a sort of sinking anguish
while waiting on the doorstep, lest he might not be at home. But when
the servant girl said Mr. Dean was upstairs, she liked her dirty,
good-natured smile, and she loved the stairs and banisters--it was all
wonderful, and she could hardly believe that in a few moments more she
would catch the first sight of his face. She would have to tell some
part of the truth; and since Lady Asher was dead, he could not fail to
believe. He would never think of asking her--she put the ugly thought
aside, and ran up the second flight.
In the pauses of their love-making, they often wandered round the walls
participating in the mystery of the Wanderers, and the sempiternal
loveliness of figures who stood with raised arms, by the streams of
Paradise. It seemed a profanation to turn from these aspirations to the
enjoyment of material love, and Evelyn looked at Ulick questioningly.
But he said that life only became wrong when it ceased to aspire. In an
Indian temple, it had once been asked who was the most holy man of all.
A young saint who had not eaten for ten days had been pointed out, but
he said that the holiest man who ever lived stood yonder. It was then
noticed that the man pointed to was drunk ... Ulick explained that the
drunkenness did not matter; it was an unimportant detail in the man's
life, for none aspired as he did; and laughing at the story, they stood
by the dusty, windy pane, her hand resting on his shoulder, and they
always remembered that that day they had seen the foliage in the square.
Lady Duckle had gone to Homburg; Owen had been obliged to go to Bath on
account of his gout; and Evelyn was free to abandon herself to her love
of Ulick and to her love of her father, and she begged him not to spoil
her happiness, but to come to Dulwich with her. His scruples were easily
argued away. She urged that he had not taken her away, he had brought
her back to her father. This last argument was convincing, and the
happiest time in their lives was the week they spent in Dulwich. They
sat down together to dinner under the lamp at the round table in the
little back room, and their evenings were passed at the harpsichord and
the clavichord; and amid the dreams and aspirations of great men they
attained their sublime nature. The music that had been given and that
was to be given at St. Joseph's furnished a never-failing subject of
discussion, and Mr. Innes told them stories of Italy in the sixteenth
century. How almost every Sunday there was a festival in some church
where the most beautiful music was heard. Along the nave were eight
choirs, four on one side and four on the other, raised on stages eight
to ten feet high, and facing one another at equal distances. Each choir
had a portable organ, and the _maitre composateur_ beat the time for the
principal choir. And Mr. Innes's eyes lighted up when he spoke of the
admirable _style recitatif_ in the oratory of St. Marcellus when there
was a congregation of the Brothers of the Holy Crucifix. This order was
composed of the chief noblemen of Rome, who had therefore the power of
bringing together the rarest musicians Italy could produce. The voices
began with a psalm in motet form, and then the instruments played a
symphony, after which the voices sang a story from the Old Testament.
Each chorister represented a personage in the story, etc. He spoke of
the great organist at St. Peter's, and the wonderful inventions he is
said to have displayed in his improvisations. No one since had played
the harp like the renowned Horatio, but there was no one who could play
the lyre like the renowned Ferrabosco in England. Evelyn leaned across
the table, transported three centuries back, hearing all this music,
which she had known from her earliest years, performed by virtue of her
father's description in Italy, in St. Peter's, in the oratory of St.
Marcellus and in the church of Minerva. Sometimes her father and Ulick
began an argument, her sympathies alternated between them; she spoke
very little, preferring to listen, not liking to side with either,
agreeing with them, sometimes angering her father by her neutrality. But
one evening he was a little too insistent, and Evelyn burst into tears,
and ran upstairs to her room. The two men looked at each other, and Mr.
Innes begged Ulick to tell him if he had been unkind, and then besought
him to go upstairs and try to induce Evelyn to come down. Her face
brightened into merry laughter at her own folly, and it called from her
many entertaining remarks, so Ulick was tempted to set them one against
the other, and to do so he had only to ask if Evelyn could sing such
light soprano parts as Zerlina or Rosetta as well as her mother.
In the mornings Evelyn and Ulick lingered in the shade of the chestnut
trees or loitered in the lanes. At one moment they were telling each
other of the fatality of their passion; in the next, by some transition
of which they were not aware, they found themselves discussing some
musical question. They went for long drives; and Richmond Park, not more
than eight or ten miles distant, was at this season a beautiful,
plaintive languor. There was a strange stillness in the air and a tender
bloom upon the blue sky which spoke to the heart as no words, as only
music could. The shadows moved listlessly among the bracken, and every
vista was an enticement. Soft rain had allayed the dust of the road, and
the distant hillsides seemed in the morning mists extraordinarily blue
and romantic. There were wide prospects suggesting some great domain,
and about the large oaks which stood in these open spaces herds of deer
browsed, themselves the colour of the approaching month. About a sudden
hillside, brilliantly blue, the evanescent mist hung over the heavy
fronds, going out in the sunlight that was breaking through a grey sky.
Ulick exclaimed, "How beautiful," and at the same moment Evelyn said,
"Look at the deer, they are going to jump the railings." But the deer
ran underneath, and galloped down the sloping park between a line of
massive oaks; and the white and the tan hinds and fawns expressed in
their life and beauty something which thrilled in the heart, and
perforce Evelyn and Ulick remained silent. The park was wreathed that
morning in sunlight and mist, it seemed to invite confidences, and the
lovers dreamed of a perfect union of soul. The carriage was told to wait
for them, and they took a path leading under a long line of trees toward
high ground. Carts had passed there, and the ruts were full of water,
but the earth about them was a little crisp, as if there had been frost
during the night. They had brought with them a score of "Parsifal," for
it was not yet certain that Evelyn would not play the part of Kundry.
Notwithstanding Ulick's criticism, she thought she would like to act in
the third act. But they were too interested in each other to open the
score, and they were excited by the wonder of Nature in the still
morning. The sky was all silver, and a very little distance bathed the
hillsides in beautiful blue tones. The leaves of the oak trees hung
languidly, as if considering the lowly earth to which they must soon
return. Yet the blood was hot and the nerves were highly strung, and
life seemed capable of great things in this moody, contemplative
morning. There was a wonder in the little wren that picked her way among
the fronds, and a thrill in the scurry of the watchful rabbit; and when
they reached the crest of the upland and saw an open expanse of park,
with the deer moving away through the mist, their souls dilated, and in
happy ecstasy they looked upon Nature with the same innocent wonderment
as the first man and woman.
The morning seemed to inspire adventure, and the little tale that Evelyn
was telling was just what was required to enhance its suggestion. By
some accident in the conversation she had been led to speak of how she
had been nearly captured by pirates in the Mediterranean. They were
becalmed off the African coast, and a boat had rowed out with fruits and
vegetables. The suspicious countenances of this boat's crew did not
strike them at the time. But they were a reconnoitring party, and next
day about four in the afternoon they noticed a vessel propelled by sails
and oars steering straight for them, as if in the intention of running
them down. It paid no attention to the cries of the captain, but came
straight at them, and would have succeeded in its design if the yacht
had not been going through the water faster than the pirates supposed,
so they fell astern, and no one thought any more of them till they
tacked, and they had almost overtaken the yacht, they were hardly
distant more than fifty yards, when their intention was suspected. The
captain put the _Medusa's_ head up to the wind, and she soon began to
leave her pursuer behind.
"We had no arms on board, they were fifty to twenty; the men would have
been massacred, and I should have finished my days in a harem."
Ulick had brought his violin with him, and they walked under the
drooping boughs, she singing and he playing old-world melodies by Lulli
and Rameau. Sometimes a passer-by stopped, and peering through,
discovered them in a hollow sitting under an oak. A snake crawled out of
its hole, and Ulick was about to rush forward to kill it, but Evelyn
laid her hand upon his, and said--
"Let it listen, poor thing. No living thing should meet its death for
its love of music."
"You're no longer the Evelyn Innes that loved Owen Asher."
"I think I have changed a great deal. I was very young when I knew him
She spoke of the influence he had exercised over her, but now his ideas
meant as little as he did himself--it was all far away. Only a little
trick of speech and a turn of phrase remained to recall his passage
through her life. When they returned home she found a letter from him on
the table, and her face clouded as she read his letter, for it announced
an intention to call when he came to town, and to avoid his visit she
thought she would stop in Dulwich. But if she stayed over Saturday, she
would have to go to Mass on Sunday. Last Sunday she escaped by pleading
indisposition. She wondered which she would prefer, to face Owen or to
brave the effect that she knew Mass would produce upon her.
She was in the music-room, looking through the first act of "Grania,"
and thinking that perhaps after all she might remain on the stage and
create the part. Her father had gone to St. Joseph's for choir practice,
Ulick had gone to London for strings for her viola da gamba; and all the
morning she had been uneasy and expectant. The feeling never quite left
her that something was about to happen, that she was to meet
someone--someone for whom she had been waiting a long while. So she
started on hearing the front door bell ring. She could think of no one
whom it might be unless Owen. If it were, what would she say? And she
waited, eager for the servant to announce the visitor. It was Monsignor