Part 1 out of 5
LOVE AND MR. LEWISHAM
H. G. WELLS
[Illustration: "Why on earth did you put my roses here?" he asked.]
I. INTRODUCES MR. LEWISHAM
II. "AS THE WIND BLOWS"
III. THE WONDERFUL DISCOVERY
IV. RAISED EYEBROWS
VI. THE SCANDALOUS RAMBLE
VII. THE RECKONING
VIII. THE CAREER PREVAILS
IX. ALICE HEYDINGER
X. IN THE GALLERY OF OLD IRON
XII. LEWISHAM IS UNACCOUNTABLE
XIII. LEWISHAM INSISTS
XIV. MR. LAGUNE'S POINT OF VIEW
XV. LOVE IN THE STREETS
XVI. MISS HEYDINGER'S PRIVATE THOUGHTS
XVII. IN THE RAPHAEL GALLERY
XVIII. THE FRIENDS OF PROGRESS MEET
XIX. LEWISHAM'S SOLUTION
XX. THE CAREER IS SUSPENDED
XXIII. MR. CHAFFERY AT HOME
XXIV. THE CAMPAIGN OPENS
XXV. THE FIRST BATTLE
XXVI. THE GLAMOUR FADES
XXVII. CONCERNING A QUARREL
XXVIII. THE COMING OF THE ROSES
XXIX. THORNS AND ROSE PETALS
XXX. A WITHDRAWAL
XXXI. IN BATTERSEA PARK
XXXII. THE CROWNING VICTORY
INTRODUCES MR. LEWISHAM.
The opening chapter does not concern itself with Love--indeed that
antagonist does not certainly appear until the third--and Mr. Lewisham
is seen at his studies. It was ten years ago, and in those days he was
assistant master in the Whortley Proprietary School, Whortley, Sussex,
and his wages were forty pounds a year, out of which he had to afford
fifteen shillings a week during term time to lodge with Mrs. Munday,
at the little shop in the West Street. He was called "Mr." to
distinguish him from the bigger boys, whose duty it was to learn, and
it was a matter of stringent regulation that he should be addressed as
He wore ready-made clothes, his black jacket of rigid line was dusted
about the front and sleeves with scholastic chalk, and his face was
downy and his moustache incipient. He was a passable-looking youngster
of eighteen, fair-haired, indifferently barbered, and with a quite
unnecessary pair of glasses on his fairly prominent nose--he wore
these to make himself look older, that discipline might be
maintained. At the particular moment when this story begins he was in
his bedroom. An attic it was, with lead-framed dormer windows, a
slanting ceiling and a bulging wall, covered, as a number of torn
places witnessed, with innumerable strata of florid old-fashioned
To judge by the room Mr. Lewisham thought little of Love but much on
Greatness. Over the head of the bed, for example, where good folks
hang texts, these truths asserted themselves, written in a clear,
bold, youthfully florid hand:--"Knowledge is Power," and "What man has
done man can do,"--man in the second instance referring to
Mr. Lewisham. Never for a moment were these things to be
forgotten. Mr. Lewisham could see them afresh every morning as his
head came through his shirt. And over the yellow-painted box upon
which--for lack of shelves--Mr. Lewisham's library was arranged, was a
"_Schema_." (Why he should not have headed it "Scheme," the editor of
the _Church Times_, who calls his miscellaneous notes "_Varia_," is
better able to say than I.) In this scheme, 1892 was indicated as the
year in which Mr. Lewisham proposed to take his B.A. degree at the
London University with "hons. in all subjects," and 1895 as the date
of his "gold medal." Subsequently there were to be "pamphlets in the
Liberal interest," and such like things duly dated. "Who would control
others must first control himself," remarked the wall over the
wash-hand stand, and behind the door against the Sunday trousers was a
portrait of Carlyle.
These were no mere threats against the universe; operations had
begun. Jostling Shakespeare, Emerson's Essays, and the penny Life of
Confucius, there were battered and defaced school books, a number of
the excellent manuals of the Universal Correspondence Association,
exercise books, ink (red and black) in penny bottles, and an
india-rubber stamp with Mr. Lewisham's name. A trophy of bluish green
South Kensington certificates for geometrical drawing, astronomy,
physiology, physiography, and inorganic chemistry adorned his further
wall. And against the Carlyle portrait was a manuscript list of French
Attached by a drawing-pin to the roof over the wash-hand stand,
which--the room being an attic--sloped almost dangerously, dangled a
Time-Table. Mr. Lewisham was to rise at five, and that this was no
vain boasting, a cheap American alarum clock by the books on the box
witnessed. The lumps of mellow chocolate on the papered ledge by the
bed-head indorsed that evidence. "French until eight," said the
time-table curtly. Breakfast was to be eaten in twenty minutes; then
twenty-five minutes of "literature" to be precise, learning extracts
(preferably pompous) from the plays of William Shakespeare--and then
to school and duty. The time-table further prescribed Latin
Composition for the recess and the dinner hour ("literature," however,
during the meal), and varied its injunctions for the rest of the
twenty-four hours according to the day of the week. Not a moment for
Satan and that "mischief still" of his. Only three-score and ten has
the confidence, as well as the time, to be idle.
But just think of the admirable quality of such a scheme! Up and busy
at five, with all the world about one horizontal, warm, dreamy-brained
or stupidly hullish, if roused, roused only to grunt and sigh and roll
over again into oblivion. By eight three hours' clear start, three
hours' knowledge ahead of everyone. It takes, I have been told by an
eminent scholar, about a thousand hours of sincere work to learn a
language completely--after three or four languages much less--which
gives you, even at the outset, one each a year before breakfast. The
gift of tongues--picked up like mushrooms! Then that "literature"--an
astonishing conception! In the afternoon mathematics and the
sciences. Could anything be simpler or more magnificent? In six years
Mr. Lewisham will have his five or six languages, a sound, all-round
education, a habit of tremendous industry, and be still but
four-and-twenty. He will already have honour in his university and
ampler means. One realises that those pamphlets in the Liberal
interests will be no obscure platitudes. Where Mr. Lewisham will be at
thirty stirs the imagination. There will be modifications of the
Schema, of course, as experience widens. But the spirit of it--the
spirit of it is a devouring flame!
He was sitting facing the diamond-framed window, writing, writing
fast, on a second yellow box that was turned on end and empty, and the
lid was open, and his knees were conveniently stuck into the
cavity. The bed was strewn with books and copygraphed sheets of
instructions from his remote correspondence tutors. Pursuant to the
dangling time-table he was, you would have noticed, translating Latin
Imperceptibly the speed of his writing diminished. "_Urit me Glycerae
nitor_" lay ahead and troubled him. "Urit me," he murmured, and his
eyes travelled from his book out of window to the vicar's roof
opposite and its ivied chimneys. His brows were knit at first and then
relaxed. "_Urit me_!" He had put his pen into his mouth and glanced
about for his dictionary. _Urare_?
Suddenly his expression changed. Movement dictionary-ward ceased. He
was listening to a light tapping sound--it was a footfall--outside.
He stood up abruptly, and, stretching his neck, peered through his
unnecessary glasses and the diamond panes down into the
street. Looking acutely downward he could see a hat daintily trimmed
with pinkish white blossom, the shoulder of a jacket, and just the
tips of nose and chin. Certainly the stranger who sat under the
gallery last Sunday next the Frobishers. Then, too, he had seen her
He watched her until she passed beyond the window frame. He strained
to see impossibly round the corner....
Then he started, frowned, took his pen from his mouth. "This wandering
attention!" he said. "The slightest thing! Where was I? Tcha!" He
made a noise with his teeth to express his irritation, sat down, and
replaced his knees in the upturned box. "Urit me," he said, biting the
end of his pen and looking for his dictionary.
It was a Wednesday half-holiday late in March, a spring day glorious
in amber light, dazzling white clouds and the intensest blue, casting
a powder of wonderful green hither and thither among the trees and
rousing all the birds to tumultuous rejoicings, a rousing day, a
clamatory insistent day, a veritable herald of summer. The stir of
that anticipation was in the air, the warm earth was parting above the
swelling seeds, and all the pine-woods were full of the minute
crepitation of opening bud scales. And not only was the stir of Mother
Nature's awakening in the earth and the air and the trees, but also in
Mr. Lewisham's youthful blood, bidding him rouse himself to live--live
in a sense quite other than that the Schema indicated.
He saw the dictionary peeping from under a paper, looked up "Urit me,"
appreciated the shining "nitor" of Glycera's shoulders, and so fell
idle again to rouse himself abruptly.
"I _can't_ fix my attention," said Mr. Lewisham. He took off the
needless glasses, wiped them, and blinked his eyes. This confounded
Horace and his stimulating epithets! A walk?
"I won't be beat," he said--incorrectly--replaced his glasses, brought
his elbows down on either side of his box with resonant violence, and
clutched the hair over his ears with both hands....
In five minutes' time he found himself watching the swallows curving
through the blue over the vicarage garden.
"Did ever man have such a bother with himself as me?" he asked vaguely
but vehemently. "It's self-indulgence does it--sitting down's the
beginning of laziness."
So he stood up to his work, and came into permanent view of the
village street. "If she has gone round the corner by the post office,
she will come in sight over the palings above the allotments,"
suggested the unexplored and undisciplined region of Mr. Lewisham's
She did not come into sight. Apparently she had not gone round by the
post office after all. It made one wonder where she had gone. Did she
go up through the town to the avenue on these occasions?... Then
abruptly a cloud drove across the sunlight, the glowing street went
cold and Mr. Lewisham's imagination submitted to control. So "_Mater
saeva cupidinum_," "The untamable mother of desires,"--Horace (Book
II. of the Odes) was the author appointed by the university for
Mr. Lewisham's matriculation--was, after all, translated to its
Precisely as the church clock struck five Mr. Lewisham, with a
punctuality that was indeed almost too prompt for a really earnest
student, shut his Horace, took up his Shakespeare, and descended the
narrow, curved, uncarpeted staircase that led from his garret to the
living room in which he had his tea with his landlady, Mrs.
Munday. That good lady was alone, and after a few civilities
Mr. Lewisham opened his Shakespeare and read from a mark onward--that
mark, by-the-bye, was in the middle of a scene--while he consumed
mechanically a number of slices of bread and whort jam.
Mrs. Munday watched him over her spectacles and thought how bad so
much reading must be for the eyes, until the tinkling of her shop-bell
called her away to a customer. At twenty-five minutes to six he put
the book back in the window-sill, dashed a few crumbs from his jacket,
assumed a mortar-board cap that was lying on the tea-caddy, and went
forth to his evening "preparation duty."
The West Street was empty and shining golden with the sunset. Its
beauty seized upon him, and he forgot to repeat the passage from Henry
VIII. that should have occupied him down the street. Instead he was
presently thinking of that insubordinate glance from his window and of
little chins and nose-tips. His eyes became remote in their
The school door was opened by an obsequious little boy with "lines" to
Mr. Lewisham felt a curious change of atmosphere on his entry. The
door slammed behind him. The hall with its insistent scholastic
suggestions, its yellow marbled paper, its long rows of hat-pegs, its
disreputable array of umbrellas, a broken mortar-board and a tattered
and scattered _Principia_, seemed dim and dull in contrast with the
luminous stir of the early March evening outside. An unusual sense of
the greyness of a teacher's life, of the greyness indeed of the life
of all studious souls came, and went in his mind. He took the "lines,"
written painfully over three pages of exercise book, and obliterated
them with a huge G.E.L., scrawled monstrously across each page. He
heard the familiar mingled noises of the playground drifting in to him
through the open schoolroom door.
"AS THE WIND BLOWS."
A flaw in that pentagram of a time-table, that pentagram by which the
demons of distraction were to be excluded from Mr. Lewisham's career
to Greatness, was the absence of a clause forbidding study out of
doors. It was the day after the trivial window peeping of the last
chapter that this gap in the time-table became apparent, a day if
possible more gracious and alluring than its predecessor, and at
half-past twelve, instead of returning from the school directly to his
lodging, Mr. Lewisham escaped through the omission and made his
way--Horace in pocket--to the park gates and so to the avenue of
ancient trees that encircles the broad Whortley domain. He dismissed a
suspicion of his motive with perfect success. In the avenue--for the
path is but little frequented--one might expect to read undisturbed.
The open air, the erect attitude, are surely better than sitting in a
stuffy, enervating bedroom. The open air is distinctly healthy, hardy,
The day was breezy, and there was a perpetual rustling, a going and
coming in the budding trees.
The network of the beeches was full of golden sunlight, and all the
lower branches were shot with horizontal dashes of new-born green.
"_Tu, nisi ventis
Debes ludibrium, cave_."
was the appropriate matter of Mr. Lewisham's thoughts, and he was
mechanically trying to keep the book open in three places at once, at
the text, the notes, and the literal translation, while he turned up
the vocabulary for _ludibrium_, when his attention, wandering
dangerously near the top of the page, fell over the edge and escaped
with incredible swiftness down the avenue....
A girl, wearing a straw hat adorned with white blossom, was advancing
towards him. Her occupation, too, was literary. Indeed, she was so
busy writing that evidently she did not perceive him.
Unreasonable emotions descended upon Mr. Lewisham--emotions that are
unaccountable on the mere hypothesis of a casual meeting. Something
was whispered; it sounded suspiciously like "It's her!" He advanced
with his fingers in his book, ready to retreat to its pages if she
looked up, and watched her over it. _Ludibrium_ passed out of his
universe. She was clearly unaware of his nearness, he thought, intent
upon her writing, whatever that might be. He wondered what it might
be. Her face, foreshortened by her downward regard, seemed
infantile. Her fluttering skirt was short, and showed her shoes and
ankles. He noted her graceful, easy steps. A figure of health and
lightness it was, sunlit, and advancing towards him, something, as he
afterwards recalled with a certain astonishment, quite outside the
Nearer she came and nearer, her eyes still downcast. He was full of
vague, stupid promptings towards an uncalled-for intercourse. It was
curious she did not see him. He began to expect almost painfully the
moment when she would look up, though what there was to expect--! He
thought of what she would see when she discovered him, and wondered
where the tassel of his cap might be hanging--it sometimes occluded
one eye. It was of course quite impossible to put up a hand and
investigate. He was near trembling with excitement. His paces, acts
which are usually automatic, became uncertain and difficult. One might
have thought he had never passed a human being before. Still nearer,
ten yards now, nine, eight. Would she go past without looking up?...
Then their eyes met.
She had hazel eyes, but Mr. Lewisham, being quite an amateur about
eyes, could find no words for them. She looked demurely into his
face. She seemed to find nothing there. She glanced away from him
among the trees, and passed, and nothing remained in front of him but
an empty avenue, a sunlit, green-shot void.
The incident was over.
From far away the soughing of the breeze swept towards him, and in a
moment all the twigs about him were quivering and rustling and the
boughs creaking with a gust of wind. It seemed to urge him away from
her. The faded dead leaves that had once been green and young sprang
up, raced one another, leapt, danced and pirouetted, and then
something large struck him on the neck, stayed for a startling moment,
and drove past him up the avenue.
Something vividly white! A sheet of paper--the sheet upon which she
had been writing!
For what seemed a long time he did not grasp the situation. He glanced
over his shoulder and understood suddenly. His awkwardness
vanished. Horace in hand, he gave chase, and in ten paces had secured
the fugitive document. He turned towards her, flushed with triumph,
the quarry in his hand. He had as he picked it up seen what was
written, but the situation dominated him for the instant. He made a
stride towards her, and only then understood what he had seen. Lines
of a measured length and capitals! Could it really be--? He
stopped. He looked again, eyebrows rising. He held it before him,
staring now quite frankly. It had been written with a stylographic
pen. Thus it ran:--
"_Come! Sharp's the word._"
And then again,
"_Come! Sharp's the word._"
"_Come! Sharp's the word._"
"_Come! Sharp's the word._"
And so on all down the page, in a boyish hand uncommonly like
Surely! "I say!" said Mr. Lewisham, struggling with, the new aspect
and forgetting all his manners in his surprise.... He remembered
giving the imposition quite well:--Frobisher ii. had repeated the
exhortation just a little too loudly--had brought the thing upon
himself. To find her doing this jarred oddly upon certain vague
preconceptions he had formed of her. Somehow it seemed as if she had
betrayed him. That of course was only for the instant.
She had come up with him now. "May I have my sheet of paper, please?"
she said with a catching of her breath. She was a couple of inches
less in height than he. Do you observe her half-open lips? said Mother
Nature in a noiseless aside to Mr. Lewisham--a thing he afterwards
recalled. In her eyes was a touch of apprehension.
"I say," he said, with protest still uppermost, "you oughtn't to do
"This. Impositions. For my boys."
She raised her eyebrows, then knitted them momentarily, and looked at
him. "Are _you_ Mr. Lewisham?" she asked with an affectation of entire
ignorance and discovery.
She knew him perfectly well, which was one reason why she was writing
the imposition, but pretending not to know gave her something to say.
Mr. Lewisham nodded.
"Of all people! Then"--frankly--"you have just found me out."
"I am afraid I have," said Lewisham. "I am afraid I _have_ found you
They looked at one another for the next move. She decided to plead in
"Teddy Frobisher is my cousin. I know it's very wrong, but he seemed
to have such a lot to do and to be in _such_ trouble. And I had
nothing to do. In fact, it was _I_ who offered...."
She stopped and looked at him. She seemed to consider her remark
That meeting of the eyes had an oddly disconcerting quality. He tried
to keep to the business of the imposition. "You ought not to have done
that," he said, encountering her steadfastly.
She looked down and then into his face again. "No," she said. "I
suppose I ought not to. I'm very sorry."
Her looking down and up again produced another unreasonable effect. It
seemed to Lewisham that they were discussing something quite other
than the topic of their conversation; a persuasion patently absurd and
only to be accounted for by the general disorder of his faculties. He
made a serious attempt to keep his footing of reproof.
"I should have detected the writing, you know."
"Of course you would. It was very wrong of me to persuade him. But I
did--I assure you. He seemed in such trouble. And I thought--"
She made another break, and there was a faint deepening of colour in
her cheeks. Suddenly, stupidly, his own adolescent cheeks began to
glow. It became necessary to banish that sense of a duplicate topic
"I can assure you," he said, now very earnestly, "I never give a
punishment, never, unless it is merited. I make that a rule.
I--er--_always_ make that a rule. I am very careful indeed."
"I am really sorry," she interrupted with frank contrition. "It _was_
silly of me."
Lewisham felt unaccountably sorry she should have to apologise, and he
spoke at once with the idea of checking the reddening of his face. "I
don't think _that_," he said with a sort of belated alacrity. "Really,
it was kind of you, you know--very kind of you indeed. And I know
that--I can quite understand that--er--your kindness...."
"Ran away with me. And now poor little Teddy will get into worse
trouble for letting me...."
"Oh no," said Mr. Lewisham, perceiving an opportunity and trying not
to smile his appreciation of what he was saying. "I had no business to
read this as I picked it up--absolutely no business. Consequently...."
"You won't take any notice of it? Really!"
"Certainly not," said Mr. Lewisham.
Her face lit with a smile, and Mr. Lewisham's relaxed in sympathy. "It
is nothing--it's the proper thing for me to do, you know."
"But so many people won't do it. Schoolmasters are not usually
He was chivalrous! The phrase acted like a spur. He obeyed a foolish
"If you like--" he said.
"He needn't do this. The Impot., I mean. I'll let him off."
"It's awfully kind of you."
"I don't mind," he said. "It's nothing much. If you really think ..."
He was full of self-applause for this scandalous sacrifice of justice.
"It's awfully kind of you," she said.
"It's nothing, really," he explained, "nothing."
"Most people wouldn't--"
"It's all right," he said. "Really."
He would have given worlds for something more to say, something witty
and original, but nothing came.
The pause lengthened. She glanced over her shoulder down the vacant
avenue. This interview--this momentous series of things unsaid was
coming to an end! She looked at him hesitatingly and smiled again. She
held out her hand. No doubt that was the proper thing to do. He took
it, searching a void, tumultuous mind in vain.
"It's awfully kind of you," she said again as she did so.
"It don't matter a bit," said Mr. Lewisham, and sought vainly for some
other saying, some doorway remark into new topics. Her hand was cool
and soft and firm, the most delightful thing to grasp, and this
observation ousted all other things. He held it for a moment, but
nothing would come.
They discovered themselves hand in hand. They both laughed and felt
"silly." They shook hands in the manner of quite intimate friends, and
snatched their hands away awkwardly. She turned, glanced timidly at
him over her shoulder, and hesitated. "Good-bye," she said, and was
suddenly walking from him.
He bowed to her receding back, made a seventeenth-century sweep with
his college cap, and then some hitherto unexplored regions of his mind
flashed into revolt.
Hardly had she gone six paces when he was at her side again.
"I say," he said with a fearful sense of his temerity, and raising his
mortar-board awkwardly as though he was passing a funeral. "But that
sheet of paper ..."
"Yes," she said surprised--quite naturally.
"May I have it?"
He felt a breathless pleasure, like that of sliding down a slope of
snow. "I would like to have it."
She smiled and raised her eyebrows, but his excitement was now too
great for smiling. "Look here!" she said, and displayed the sheet
crumpled into a ball. She laughed--with a touch of effort.
"I don't mind that," said Mr. Lewisham, laughing too. He captured the
paper by an insistent gesture and smoothed it out with fingers that
"You don't mind?" he said.
"If I keep it?"
"Why should I?"
Pause. Their eyes met again. There was an odd constraint about both of
them, a palpitating interval of silence.
"I really _must_ be going," she said suddenly, breaking the spell by
an effort. She turned about and left him with the crumpled piece of
paper in the fist that held the book, the other hand lifting the
mortar board in a dignified salute again.
He watched her receding figure. His heart was beating with remarkable
rapidity. How light, how living she seemed! Little round flakes of
sunlight raced down her as she went. She walked fast, then slowly,
looking sideways once or twice, but not back, until she reached the
park gates. Then she looked towards him, a remote friendly little
figure, made a gesture of farewell, and disappeared.
His face was flushed and his eyes bright. Curiously enough, he was out
of breath. He stared for a long time at the vacant end of the
avenue. Then he turned his eyes to his trophy gripped against the
closed and forgotten Horace in his hand.
THE WONDERFUL DISCOVERY.
On Sunday it was Lewisham's duty to accompany the boarders twice to
church. The boys sat in the gallery above the choirs facing the organ
loft and at right angles to the general congregation. It was a
prominent position, and made him feel painfully conspicuous, except in
moods of exceptional vanity, when he used to imagine that all these
people were thinking how his forehead and his certificates
accorded. He thought a lot in those days of his certificates and
forehead, but little of his honest, healthy face beneath it. (To tell
the truth there was nothing very wonderful about his forehead.) He
rarely looked down the church, as he fancied to do so would be to meet
the collective eye of the congregation regarding him. So that in the
morning he was not able to see that the Frobishers' pew was empty
until the litany.
But in the evening, on the way to church, the Frobishers and their
guest crossed the market-square as his string of boys marched along
the west side. And the guest was arrayed in a gay new dress, as if it
was already Easter, and her face set in its dark hair came with a
strange effect of mingled freshness and familiarity. She looked at him
calmly! He felt very awkward, and was for cutting his new
acquaintance. Then hesitated, and raised his hat with a jerk as if to
Mrs. Frobisher. Neither lady acknowledged his salute, which may
possibly have been a little unexpected. Then young Siddons dropped his
hymn-book; stooped to pick it up, and Lewisham almost fell over
him.... He entered church in a mood of black despair.
But consolation of a sort came soon enough. As _she_ took her seat she
distinctly glanced up at the gallery, and afterwards as he knelt to
pray he peeped between his fingers and saw her looking up again. She
was certainly not laughing at him.
In those days much of Lewisham's mind was still an unknown land to
him. He believed among other things that he was always the same
consistent intelligent human being, whereas under certain stimuli he
became no longer reasonable and disciplined but a purely imaginative
and emotional person. Music, for instance, carried him away, and
particularly the effect of many voices in unison whirled him off from
almost any state of mind to a fine massive emotionality. And the
evening service at Whortley church--at the evening service surplices
were worn--the chanting and singing, the vague brilliance of the
numerous candle flames, the multitudinous unanimity of the
congregation down there, kneeling, rising, thunderously responding,
invariably inebriated him. Inspired him, if you will, and turned the
prose of his life into poetry. And Chance, coming to the aid of Dame
Nature, dropped just the apt suggestion into his now highly responsive
The second hymn was a simple and popular one, dealing with the theme
of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and having each verse ending with the
word "Love." Conceive it, long drawn out and disarticulate,--
"Faith will van ... ish in ... to sight,
Hope be emp ... tied in deli ... ight,
Love in Heaven will shine more bri ... ight,
There ... fore give us Love."
At the third repetition of the refrain, Lewisham looked down across
the chancel and met her eyes for a brief instant....
He stopped singing abruptly. Then the consciousness of the serried
ranks of faces below there came with almost overwhelming force upon
him, and he dared not look at her again. He felt the blood rushing to
Love! The greatest of these. The greatest of all things. Better than
fame. Better than knowledge. So came the great discovery like a flood
across his mind, pouring over it with the cadence of the hymn and
sending a tide of pink in sympathy across his forehead. The rest of
the service was phantasmagorial background to that great reality--a
phantasmagorial background a little inclined to stare. He,
Mr. Lewisham, was in Love.
"A ... men." He was so preoccupied that he found the whole
congregation subsiding into their seats, and himself still standing,
rapt. He sat down spasmodically, with an impact that seemed to him to
re-echo through the church.
As they came out of the porch into the thickening night, he seemed to
see her everywhere. He fancied she had gone on in front, and he
hurried up the boys in the hope of overtaking her. They pushed through
the throng of dim people going homeward. Should he raise his hat to
her again?... But it was Susie Hopbrow in a light-coloured dress--a
raven in dove's plumage. He felt a curious mixture of relief and
disappointment. He would see her no more that night.
He hurried from the school to his lodging. He wanted very urgently to
be alone. He went upstairs to his little room and sat before the
upturned box on which his Butler's Analogy was spread open. He did not
go to the formality of lighting the candle. He leant back and gazed
blissfully at the solitary planet that hung over the vicarage garden.
He took out of his pocket a crumpled sheet of paper, smoothed and
carefully refolded, covered with a writing not unlike that of
Frobisher ii., and after some maidenly hesitation pressed this
treasure to his lips. The Schema and the time-table hung in the
darkness like the mere ghosts of themselves.
Mrs. Munday called him thrice to his supper.
He went out immediately after it was eaten and wandered under the
stars until he came over the hill behind the town again, and clambered
up the back to the stile in sight of the Frobishers' house. He
selected the only lit window as hers. Behind the blind, Mrs.
Frobisher, thirty-eight, was busy with her curl-papers--she used
papers because they were better for the hair--and discussing certain
neighbours in a fragmentary way with Mr. Frobisher, who was in
bed. Presently she moved the candle to examine a faint discolouration
of her complexion that rendered her uneasy.
Outside, Mr. Lewisham (eighteen) stood watching the orange oblong for
the best part of half an hour, until it vanished and left the house
black and blank. Then he sighed deeply and returned home in a very
glorious mood indeed.
He awoke the next morning feeling extremely serious, but not clearly
remembering the overnight occurrences. His eye fell on his clock. The
time was six and he had not heard the alarum; as a matter of fact the
alarum had not been wound up. He jumped out of bed at once and
alighted upon his best trousers amorphously dropped on the floor
instead of methodically cast over a chair. As he soaped his head he
tried, according to his rules of revision, to remember the overnight
reading. He could not for the life of him. The truth came to him as he
was getting into his shirt. His head, struggling in its recesses,
became motionless, the handless cuffs ceased to dangle for a
Then his head came through slowly with a surprised expression upon his
face. He remembered. He remembered the thing as a bald discovery, and
without a touch of emotion. With all the achromatic clearness, the
unromantic colourlessness of the early morning....
Yes. He had it now quite distinctly. There had been no overnight
reading. He was in Love.
The proposition jarred with some vague thing in his mind. He stood
staring for a space, and then began looking about absent-mindedly for
his collar-stud. He paused in front of his Schema, regarding it.
"Work must be done anyhow," said Mr. Lewisham.
But never had the extraordinary advantages of open-air study presented
themselves so vividly. Before breakfast he took half an hour of
open-air reading along the allotments lane near the Frobishers' house,
after breakfast and before school he went through the avenue with a
book, and returned from school to his lodgings circuitously through
the avenue, and so back to the avenue for thirty minutes or so before
afternoon school. When Mr. Lewisham was not looking over the top of
his book during these periods of open-air study, then commonly he was
glancing over his shoulder. And at last who should he see but--!
He saw her out of the corner of his eye, and he turned away at once,
pretending not to have seen her. His whole being was suddenly
irradiated with emotion. The hands holding his book gripped it very
tightly. He did not glance back again, but walked slowly and
steadfastly, reading an ode that he could not have translated to save
his life, and listening acutely for her approach. And after an
interminable time, as it seemed, came a faint footfall and the swish
of skirts behind him.
He felt as though his head was directed forward by a clutch of iron.
"Mr. Lewisham," she said close to him, and he turned with a quality of
movement that was almost convulsive. He raised his cap clumsily.
He took her extended hand by an afterthought, and held it until she
withdrew it. "I am so glad to have met you," she said.
"So am I," said Lewisham simply.
They stood facing one another for an expressive moment, and then by a
movement she indicated her intention to walk along the avenue with
him. "I wanted so much," she said, looking down at her feet, "to thank
you for letting Teddy off, you know. That is why I wanted to see you."
Lewisham took his first step beside her. "And it's odd, isn't it," she
said, looking up into his face, "that I should meet you here in just
the same place. I believe ... Yes. The very same place we met before."
Mr. Lewisham was tongue-tied.
"Do you often come here?" she said.
"Well," he considered--and his voice was most unreasonably hoarse when
he spoke--"no. No.... That is--At least not often. Now and then. In
fact, I like it rather for reading and that sort of thing. It's so
"I suppose you read a great deal?"
"When one teaches one has to."
"But you ..."
"I'm rather fond of reading, certainly. Are you?"
"I _love_ it."
Mr. Lewisham was glad she loved reading. He would have been
disappointed had she answered differently. But she spoke with real
fervour. She _loved_ reading! It was pleasant. She would understand
him a little perhaps. "Of course," she went on, "I'm not clever like
some people are. And I have to read books as I get hold of them."
"So do I," said Mr. Lewisham, "for the matter of that.... Have you
read ... Carlyle?"
The conversation was now fairly under way. They were walking side by
side beneath the swaying boughs. Mr. Lewisham's sensations were
ecstatic, marred only by a dread of some casual boy coming upon
them. She had not read _much_ Carlyle. She had always wanted to, even
from quite a little girl--she had heard so much about him. She knew he
was a Really Great Writer, a _very_ Great Writer indeed. All she _had_
read of him she liked. She could say that. As much as she liked
anything. And she had seen his house in Chelsea.
Lewisham, whose knowledge of London had been obtained by excursion
trips on six or seven isolated days, was much impressed by this. It
seemed to put her at once on a footing of intimacy with this imposing
Personality. It had never occurred to him at all vividly that these
Great Writers had real abiding places. She gave him a few descriptive
touches that made the house suddenly real and distinctive to him. She
lived quite near, she said, at least within walking distance, in
Clapham. He instantly forgot the vague design of lending her his
"_Sartor Resartus_" in his curiosity to learn more about her
home. "Clapham--that's almost in London, isn't it?" he said.
"Quite," she said, but she volunteered no further information about
her domestic circumstances, "I like London," she generalised, "and
especially in winter." And she proceeded to praise London, its public
libraries, its shops, the multitudes of people, the facilities for
"doing what you like," the concerts one could go to, the theatres. (It
seemed she moved in fairly good society.) "There's always something to
see even if you only go out for a walk," she said, "and down here
there's nothing to read but idle novels. And those not new."
Mr. Lewisham had regretfully to admit the lack of such culture and
mental activity in Whortley. It made him feel terribly her
inferior. He had only his bookishness and his certificates to set
against it all--and she had seen Carlyle's house! "Down here," she
said, "there's nothing to talk about but scandal." It was too true.
At the corner by the stile, beyond which the willows were splendid
against the blue with silvery aments and golden pollen, they turned by
mutual impulse and retraced their steps. "I've simply had no one to
talk to down here," she said. "Not what _I_ call talking."
"I hope," said Lewisham, making a resolute plunge, "perhaps while you
are staying at Whortley ..."
He paused perceptibly, and she, following his eyes, saw a voluminous
black figure approaching. "We may," said Mr. Lewisham, resuming his
remark, "chance to meet again, perhaps."
He had been about to challenge her to a deliberate meeting. A certain
delightful tangle of paths that followed the bank of the river had
been in his mind. But the apparition of Mr. George Bonover, headmaster
of the Whortley Proprietary School, chilled him amazingly. Dame
Nature no doubt had arranged the meeting of our young couple, but
about Bonover she seems to have been culpably careless. She now
receded inimitably, and Mr. Lewisham, with the most unpleasant
feelings, found himself face to face with a typical representative of
a social organisation which objects very strongly _inter alia_ to
promiscuous conversation on the part of the young unmarried junior
"--chance to meet again, perhaps," said Mr. Lewisham, with a sudden
lack of spirit.
"I hope so too," she said.
Pause. Mr. Bonover's features, and particularly a bushy pair of black
eyebrows, were now very near, those eyebrows already raised,
apparently to express a refined astonishment.
"Is this Mr. Bonover approaching?" she asked.
Would he stop and accost them? At any rate this frightful silence must
end. Mr. Lewisham sought in his mind for some remark wherewith to
cover his employer's approach. He was surprised to find his mind a
desert. He made a colossal effort. If they could only talk, if they
could only seem at their ease! But this blank incapacity was eloquent
of guilt. Ah!
"It's a lovely day, though," said Mr. Lewisham. "Isn't it?"
She agreed with him. "Isn't it?" she said.
And then Mr. Bonover passed, forehead tight reefed so to speak, and
lips impressively compressed. Mr. Lewisham raised his mortar-board,
and to his astonishment Mr. Bonover responded with a markedly formal
salute--mock clerical hat sweeping circuitously--and the regard of a
searching, disapproving eye, and so passed. Lewisham was overcome with
astonishment at this improvement on the nod of their ordinary
commerce. And so this terrible incident terminated for the time.
He felt a momentary gust of indignation. After all, why should Bonover
or anyone interfere with his talking to a girl if he chose? And for
all he knew they might have been properly introduced. By young
Frobisher, say. Nevertheless, Lewisham's spring-tide mood relapsed
into winter. He was, he felt, singularly stupid for the rest of their
conversation, and the delightful feeling of enterprise that had
hitherto inspired and astonished him when talking to her had
shrivelled beyond contempt. He was glad--positively glad--when things
came to an end.
At the park gates she held out her hand. "I'm afraid I have
interrupted your reading," she said.
"Not a bit," said Mr. Lewisham, warming slightly. "I don't know when
I've enjoyed a conversation...."
"It was--a breach of etiquette, I am afraid, my speaking to you, but I
did so want to thank you...."
"Don't mention it," said Mr. Lewisham, secretly impressed by the
"Good-bye." He stood hesitating by the lodge, and then turned back up
the avenue in order not to be seen to follow her too closely up the
And then, still walking away from her, he remembered that he had not
lent her a book as he had planned, nor made any arrangement ever to
meet her again. She might leave Whortley anywhen for the amenities of
Clapham. He stopped and stood irresolute. Should he run after her?
Then he recalled Bonover's enigmatical expression of face. He decided
that to pursue her would be altogether too conspicuous. Yet ... So he
stood in inglorious hesitation, while the seconds passed.
He reached his lodging at last to find Mrs. Munday halfway through
"You get them books of yours," said Mrs. Munday, who took a motherly
interest in him, "and you read and you read, and you take no account
of time. And now you'll have to eat your dinner half cold, and no time
for it to settle proper before you goes off to school. It's ruination
to a stummik--such ways."
"Oh, never mind my stomach, Mrs. Munday," said Lewisham, roused from a
tangled and apparently gloomy meditation; "that's _my_ affair." Quite
crossly he spoke for him.
"I'd rather have a good sensible actin' stummik than a full head,"
said Mrs. Monday, "any day."
"I'm different, you see," snapped Mr. Lewisham, and relapsed into
silence and gloom.
("Hoity toity!" said Mrs. Monday under her breath.)
Mr. Bonover, having fully matured a Hint suitable for the occasion,
dropped it in the afternoon, while Lewisham was superintending cricket
practice. He made a few remarks about the prospects of the first
eleven by way of introduction, and Lewisham agreed with him that
Frobisher i. looked like shaping very well this season.
A pause followed and the headmaster hummed. "By-the-bye," he said, as
if making conversation and still watching the play; "I,
ah,--understood that you, ah--were a _stranger_ to Whortley."
"Yes," said Lewisham, "that's so."
"You have made friends in the neighbourhood?"
Lewisham was troubled with a cough, and his ears--those confounded
ears--brightened, "Yes," he said, recovering, "Oh yes. Yes, I have."
"Local people, I presume."
"Well, no. Not exactly." The brightness spread from Lewisham's ears
over his face.
"I saw you," said Bonover, "talking to a young lady in the avenue. Her
face was somehow quite familiar to me. Who _was_ she?"
Should he say she was a friend of the Frobishers? In that case
Bonover, in his insidious amiable way, might talk to the Frobisher
parents and make things disagreeable for her. "She was," said
Lewisham, flushing deeply with the stress on his honesty and dropping
his voice to a mumble, "a ... a ... an old friend of my mother's. In
fact, I met her once at Salisbury."
"And her name?"
"Smith," said Lewisham, a little hastily, and repenting the lie even
as it left his lips.
"Well _hit_, Harris!" shouted Bonover, and began to clap his
hands. "Well _hit_, sir."
"Harris shapes very well," said Mr. Lewisham.
"Very," said Mr. Bonover. "And--what was it? Ah! I was just remarking
the odd resemblances there are in the world. There is a Miss
Henderson--or Henson--stopping with the Frobishers--in the very same
town, in fact, the very picture of your Miss ..."
"Smith," said Lewisham, meeting his eye and recovering the full
crimson note of his first blush.
"It's odd," said Bonover, regarding him pensively.
"Very odd," mumbled Lewisham, cursing his own stupidity and looking
"_Very_--very odd," said Bonover.
"In fact," said Bonover, turning towards the school-house, "I hardly
expected it of you, Mr. Lewisham."
"Expected what, sir?"
But Mr. Bonover feigned to be already out of earshot.
"Damn!" said Mr. Lewisham. "Oh!--_damn_!"--a most objectionable
expression and rare with him in those days. He had half a mind to
follow the head-master and ask him if he doubted his word. It was only
too evident what the answer would be.
He stood for a minute undecided, then turned on his heel and marched
homeward with savage steps. His muscles quivered as he walked, and his
face twitched. The tumult of his mind settled at last into angry
"Confound him!" said Mr. Lewisham, arguing the matter out with the
bedroom furniture. "Why the _devil_ can't he mind his own business?"
"Mind your own business, sir!" shouted Mr. Lewisham at the wash-hand
stand. "Confound you, sir, mind your own business!"
The wash-hand stand did.
"You overrate your power, sir," said Mr. Lewisham, a little
mollified. "Understand me! I am my own master out of school."
Nevertheless, for four days and some hours after Mr. Bonover's Hint,
Mr. Lewisham so far observed its implications as to abandon open-air
study and struggle with diminishing success to observe the spirit as
well as the letter of his time-table prescriptions. For the most part
he fretted at accumulating tasks, did them with slipshod energy or
looked out of window. The Career constituent insisted that to meet and
talk to this girl again meant reproof, worry, interference with his
work for his matriculation, the destruction of all "Discipline," and
he saw the entire justice of the insistence. It was nonsense this
being in love; there wasn't such a thing as love outside of trashy
novelettes. And forthwith his mind went off at a tangent to her eyes
under the shadow of her hat brim, and had to be lugged back by main
force. On Thursday when he was returning from school he saw her far
away down the street, and hurried in to avoid her, looking
ostentatiously in the opposite direction. But that was a
turning-point. Shame overtook him. On Friday his belief in love was
warm and living again, and his heart full of remorse for laggard days.
On Saturday morning his preoccupation with her was so vivid that it
distracted him even while he was teaching that most teachable subject,
algebra, and by the end of the school hours the issue was decided and
the Career in headlong rout. That afternoon he would go, whatever
happened, and see her and speak to her again. The thought of Bonover
arose only to be dismissed. And besides--
Bonover took a siesta early in the afternoon.
Yes, he would go out and find her and speak to her. Nothing should
Once that decision was taken his imagination became riotous with
things he might say, attitudes he might strike, and a multitude of
vague fine dreams about her. He would say this, he would say that,
his mind would do nothing but circle round this wonderful pose of
lover. What a cur he had been to hide from her so long! What could he
have been thinking about? How _could_ he explain it to her, when the
meeting really came? Suppose he was very frank--
He considered the limits of frankness. Would she believe he had not
seen her on Thursday?--if he assured her that it was so?
And, most horrible, in the midst of all this came Bonover with a
request that he would take "duty" in the cricket field instead of
Dunkerley that afternoon. Dunkerley was the senior assistant master,
Lewisham's sole colleague. The last vestige of disapprobation had
vanished from Bonover's manner; asking a favour was his autocratic way
of proffering the olive branch. But it came to Lewisham as a cruel
imposition. For a fateful moment he trembled on the brink of
acquiescence. In a flash came a vision of the long duty of the
afternoon--she possibly packing for Clapham all the while. He turned
white. Mr. Bonover watched his face.
"_No_," said Lewisham bluntly, saying all he was sure of, and
forthwith racking his unpractised mind for an excuse. "I'm sorry I
can't oblige you, but ... my arrangements ... I've made arrangements,
in fact, for the afternoon."
Mr. Bonover's eyebrows went up at this obvious lie, and the glow of
his suavity faded, "You see," he said, "Mrs. Bonover expects a friend
this afternoon, and we rather want Mr. Dunkerley to make four at
"I'm sorry," said Mr. Lewisham, still resolute, and making a mental
note that Bonover would be playing croquet.
"You don't play croquet by any chance?" asked Bonover.
"No," said Lewisham, "I haven't an idea."
"If Mr. Dunkerley had asked you?..." persisted Bonover, knowing
Lewisham's respect for etiquette.
"Oh! it wasn't on that account," said Lewisham, and Bonover with
eyebrows still raised and a general air of outraged astonishment left
him standing there, white and stiff, and wondering at his
THE SCANDALOUS RAMBLE.
As soon as school was dismissed Lewisham made a gaol-delivery of his
outstanding impositions, and hurried back to his lodgings, to spend
the time until his dinner was ready--Well?... It seems hardly fair,
perhaps, to Lewisham to tell this; it is doubtful, indeed, whether a
male novelist's duty to his sex should not restrain him, but, as the
wall in the shadow by the diamond-framed window insisted, "_Magna est
veritas et prevalebit_." Mr. Lewisham brushed his hair with
elaboration, and ruffled it picturesquely, tried the effect of all his
ties and selected a white one, dusted his boots with an old
pocket-handkerchief, changed his trousers because the week-day pair
was minutely frayed at the heels, and inked the elbows of his coat
where the stitches were a little white. And, to be still more
intimate, he studied his callow appearance in the glass from various
points of view, and decided that his nose might have been a little
smaller with advantage....
Directly after dinner he went out, and by the shortest path to the
allotment lane, telling himself he did not care if he met Bonover
forthwith in the street. He did not know precisely what he intended to
do, but he was quite clear that he meant to see the girl he had met in
the avenue. He knew he should see her. A sense of obstacles merely
braced him and was pleasurable. He went up the stone steps out of the
lane to the stile that overlooked the Frobishers, the stile from which
he had watched the Frobisher bedroom. There he seated himself with his
arms, folded, in full view of the house.
That was at ten minutes to two. At twenty minutes to three he was
still sitting there, but his hands were deep in his jacket pockets,
and he was scowling and kicking his foot against the step with an
impatient monotony. His needless glasses had been thrust into his
waistcoat pocket--where they remained throughout the afternoon--and
his cap was tilted a little back from his forehead and exposed a wisp
of hair. One or two people had gone down the lane, and he had
pretended not to see them, and a couple of hedge-sparrows chasing each
other along the side of the sunlit, wind-rippled field had been his
chief entertainment. It is unaccountable, no doubt, but he felt angry
with her as the time crept on. His expression lowered.
He heard someone going by in the lane behind him. He would not look
round--it annoyed him to think of people seeing him in this
position. His once eminent discretion, though overthrown, still made
muffled protests at the afternoon's enterprise. The feet down the lane
stopped close at hand.
"Stare away," said Lewisham between his teeth. And then began
mysterious noises, a violent rustle of hedge twigs, a something like a
very light foot-tapping.
Curiosity boarded Lewisham and carried him after the briefest
struggle. He looked round, and there she was, her back to him,
reaching after the spiky blossoming blackthorn that crested the
opposite hedge. Remarkable accident! She had not seen him!
In a moment Lewisham's legs were flying over the stile. He went down
the steps in the bank with such impetus that it carried him up into
the prickly bushes beside her. "Allow me," he said, too excited to see
she was not astonished.
"Mr. Lewisham!" she said in feigned surprise, and stood away to give
him room at the blackthorn.
"Which spike will you have?" he cried, overjoyed. "The whitest? The
"That piece," she chose haphazard, "with the black spike sticking out
A mass of snowy blossom it was against the April sky, and Lewisham,
straggling for it--it was by no means the most accessible--saw with
fantastic satisfaction a lengthy scratch flash white on his hand, and
turn to red.
"Higher up the lane," he said, descending triumphant and breathless,
"there is blackthorn.... This cannot compare for a moment...."
She laughed and looked at him as he stood there flushed, his eyes
triumphant, with an unpremeditated approval. In church, in the
gallery, with his face foreshortened, he had been effective in a way,
but this was different. "Show me," she said, though she knew this was
the only place for blackthorn for a mile in either direction.
"I _knew_ I should see you," he said, by way of answer, "I felt sure I
should see you to-day."
"It was our last chance almost," she answered with as frank a quality
of avowal. "I'm going home to London on Monday."
"I knew," he cried in triumph. "To Clapham?" he asked.
"Yes. I have got a situation. You did not know that I was a shorthand
clerk and typewriter, did you? I am. I have just left the school, the
Grogram School. And now there is an old gentleman who wants an
"So you know shorthand?" said he. "That accounts for the stylographic
pen. Those lines were written.... I have them still."
She smiled and raised her eyebrows. "Here," said Mr. Lewisham, tapping
"This lane," he said--their talk was curiously inconsecutive--"some
way along this lane, over the hill and down, there is a gate, and that
goes--I mean, it opens into the path that runs along the river
bank. Have you been?"
"No," she said.
"It's the best walk about Whortley. It brings you out upon Immering
Common. You _must_--before you go."
"_Now_?" she said with her eyes dancing.
"I told Mrs. Frobisher I should be back by four," she said.
"It's a walk not to be lost."
"Very well," said she.
"The trees are all budding," said Mr. Lewisham, "the rushes are
shooting, and all along the edge of the river there are millions of
little white flowers floating on the water, _I_ don't know the names
of them, but they're fine.... May I carry that branch of blossom?"
As he took it their hands touched momentarily ... and there came
another of those significant gaps.
"Look at those clouds," said Lewisham abruptly, remembering the remark
he had been about to make and waving the white froth of blackthorn,
"And look at the blue between them."
"It's perfectly splendid. Of all the fine weather the best has been
kept for now. My last day. My very last day."
And off these two young people went together in a highly electrical
state--to the infinite astonishment of Mrs. Frobisher, who was looking
out of the attic window--stepping out manfully and finding the whole
world lit and splendid for their entertainment. The things they
discovered and told each other that afternoon down by the river!--that
spring was wonderful, young leaves beautiful, bud scales astonishing
things, and clouds dazzling and stately!--with an air of supreme
originality! And their naive astonishment to find one another in
agreement upon these novel delights! It seemed to them quite outside
the play of accident that they should have met each other.
They went by the path that runs among the trees along the river bank,
and she must needs repent and wish to take the lower one, the towing
path, before they had gone three hundred yards. So Lewisham had to
find a place fit for her descent, where a friendly tree proffered its
protruding roots as a convenient balustrade, and down she clambered
with her hand in his.
Then a water-vole washing his whiskers gave occasion for a sudden
touching of hands and the intimate confidence of whispers and silence
together. After which Lewisham essayed to gather her a marsh mallow at
the peril, as it was judged, of his life, and gained it together with
a bootful of water. And at the gate by the black and shiny lock, where
the path breaks away from the river, she overcame him by an unexpected
feat, climbing gleefully to the top rail with the support of his hand,
and leaping down, a figure of light and grace, to the ground.
They struck boldly across the meadows, which were gay with lady's
smock, and he walked, by special request, between her and three
matronly cows--feeling as Perseus might have done when he fended off
the sea-monster. And so by the mill, and up a steep path to Immering
Common. Across the meadows Lewisham had broached the subject of her
occupation. "And are you really going away from here to be an
amanuensis?" he said, and started her upon the theme of herself, a
theme she treated with a specialist's enthusiasm. They dealt with it
by the comparative methods and neither noticed the light was out of
the sky until the soft feet of the advancing shower had stolen right
"Look!" said he. "Yonder! A shed," and they ran together. She ran
laughing, and yet swiftly and lightly. He pulled her through the hedge
by both hands, and released her skirt from an amorous bramble, and so
they came into a little black shed in which a rusty harrow of gigantic
proportions sheltered. He noted how she still kept her breath after
She sat down on the harrow and hesitated. "I _must_ take off my hat,"
she said, "that rain will spot it," and so he had a chance of admiring
the sincerity of her curls--not that he had ever doubted them. She
stooped over her hat, pocket-handkerchief in hand, daintily wiping off
the silvery drops. He stood up at the opening of the shed and looked
at the country outside through the veil of the soft vehemence of the
"There's room for two on this harrow," she said.
He made inarticulate sounds of refusal, and then came and sat down
beside her, close beside her, so that he was almost touching her. He
felt a fantastic desire to take her in his arms and kiss her, and
overcame the madness by an effort. "I don't even know your name," he
said, taking refuge from his whirling thoughts in conversation.
"Henderson," she said.
She smiled in his face--hesitated. "Yes--_Miss_ Henderson."
Her eyes, her atmosphere were wonderful. He had never felt quite the
same sensation before, a strange excitement, almost like a faint echo
of tears. He was for demanding her Christian name. For calling her
"dear" and seeing what she would say. He plunged headlong into a
rambling description of Bonover and how he had told a lie about her
and called her Miss Smith, and so escaped this unaccountable emotional
The whispering of the rain about them sank and died, and the sunlight
struck vividly across the distant woods beyond Immering. Just then
they had fallen on a silence again that was full of daring thoughts
for Mr. Lewisham. He moved his arm suddenly and placed it so that it
was behind her on the frame of the harrow.
"Let us go on now," she said abruptly. "The rain has stopped."
"That little path goes straight to Immering," said Mr. Lewisham.
"But, four o'clock?"
He drew out his watch, and his eyebrows went up. It was already nearly
a quarter past four.
"Is it past four?" she asked, and abruptly they were face to face with
parting. That Lewisham had to take "duty" at half-past five seemed a
thing utterly trivial. "Surely," he said, only slowly realising what
this parting meant. "But must you? I--I want to talk to you."
"Haven't you been talking to me?"
"It isn't that. Besides--no."
She stood looking at him. "I promised to be home by four," she
said. "Mrs. Frobisher has tea...."
"We may never have a chance to see one another again."
Lewisham suddenly turned very white.
"Don't leave me," he said, breaking a tense silence and with a sudden
stress in his voice. "Don't leave me. Stop with me yet--for a little
while.... You ... You can lose your way."
"You seem to think," she said, forcing a laugh, "that I live without
eating and drinking."
"I have wanted to talk to you so much. The first time I saw you.... At
first I dared not.... I did not know you would let me talk.... And
now, just as I am--happy, you are going."
He stopped abruptly. Her eyes were downcast. "No," she said, tracing a
curve with the point of her shoe. "No. I am not going."
Lewisham restrained an impulse to shout. "You will come to Immering?"
he cried, and as they went along the narrow path through the wet
grass, he began to tell her with simple frankness how he cared for her
company, "I would not change this," he said, casting about for an
offer to reject, "for--anything in the world.... I shall not be back
for duty. I don't care. I don't care what happens so long as we have
"Nor I," she said.
"Thank you for coming," he said in an outburst of gratitude.--"Oh,
thank you for coming," and held out his hand. She took it and pressed
it, and so they went on hand in hand until the village street was
reached. Their high resolve to play truant at all costs had begotten
a wonderful sense of fellowship. "I can't call you Miss Henderson," he
said. "You know I can't. You know ... I must have your Christian
"Ethel," she told him.
"Ethel," he said and looked at her, gathering courage as he did
so. "Ethel," he repeated. "It is a pretty name. But no name is quite
pretty enough for you, Ethel ... _dear_."...
The little shop in Immering lay back behind a garden full of
wallflowers, and was kept by a very fat and very cheerful little
woman, who insisted on regarding them as brother and sister, and
calling them both "dearie." These points conceded she gave them an
admirable tea of astonishing cheapness. Lewisham did not like the
second condition very much, because it seemed to touch a little on his
latest enterprise. But the tea and the bread and butter and the whort
jam were like no food on earth. There were wallflowers, heavy scented,
in a jug upon the table, and Ethel admired them, and when they set out
again the little old lady insisted on her taking a bunch with her.
It was after they left Immering that this ramble, properly speaking,
became scandalous. The sun was already a golden ball above the blue
hills in the west--it turned our two young people into little figures
of flame--and yet, instead of going homeward, they took the Wentworth
road that plunges into the Forshaw woods. Behind them the moon, almost
full, hung in the blue sky above the tree-tops, ghostly and
indistinct, and slowly gathered to itself such light as the setting
sun left for it in the sky.
Going out of Immering they began to talk of the future. And for the
very young lover there is no future but the immediate future.
"You must write to me," he said, and she told him she wrote such
_silly_ letters. "But I shall have reams to write to you," he told
"How are you to write to me?" she asked, and they discussed a new
obstacle between them. It would never do to write home--never. She was
sure of that with an absolute assurance. "My mother--" she said and
That prohibition cut him, for at that time he had the makings of a
voluminous letter-writer. Yet it was only what one might expect. The
whole world was unpropitious--obdurate indeed.... A splendid isolation
Perhaps she might find some place where letters might be sent to her?
Yet that seemed to her deceitful.
So these two young people wandered on, full of their discovery of
love, and yet so full too of the shyness of adolescence that the word
"Love" never passed their lips that day. Yet as they talked on, and
the kindly dusk gathered about them, their speech and their hearts
came very close together. But their speech would seem so threadbare,
written down in cold blood, that I must not put it here. To them it
was not threadbare.
When at last they came down the long road into Whortley, the silent
trees were black as ink and the moonlight made her face pallid and
wonderful, and her eyes shone like stars. She still carried the
blackthorn from which most of the blossoms had fallen. The fragrant
wallflowers were fragrant still. And far away, softened by the
distance, the Whortley band, performing publicly outside the vicarage
for the first time that year, was playing with unctuous slowness a
sentimental air. I don't know if the reader remembers it that,
favourite melody of the early eighties:--
"Sweet dreamland faces, passing to and fro, (pum, pum)
Bring back to Mem'ry days of long ago-o-o-oh,"
was the essence of it, very slow and tender and with an accompaniment
of pum, pum. Pathetically cheerful that pum, pum, hopelessly cheerful
indeed against the dirge of the air, a dirge accentuated by sporadic
vocalisation. But to young people things come differently.
"I _love_ music," she said.
"So do I," said he.
They came on down the steepness of West Street. They walked athwart
the metallic and leathery tumult of sound into the light cast by the
little circle of yellow lamps. Several people saw them and wondered
what the boys and girls were coming to nowadays, and one eye-witness
even subsequently described their carriage as "brazen." Mr. Lewisham
was wearing his mortarboard cap of office--there was no mistaking
him. They passed the Proprietary School and saw a yellow picture
framed and glazed, of Mr. Bonover taking duty for his aberrant
assistant master. And outside the Frobisher house at last they parted
"Good-bye," he said for the third time. "Good-bye, Ethel."
She hesitated. Then suddenly she darted towards him. He felt her hands
upon his shoulders, her lips soft and warm upon his cheek, and before
he could take hold of her she had eluded him, and had flitted into the
shadow of the house. "Good-bye," came her sweet, clear voice out of
the shadow, and while he yet hesitated an answer, the door opened.
He saw her, black in the doorway, heard some indistinct words, and
then the door closed and he was alone in the moonlight, his cheek
still glowing from her lips....
So ended Mr. Lewisham's first day with Love.
And after the day of Love came the days of Reckoning.
Mr. Lewisham. was astonished--overwhelmed almost--by that Reckoning,
as it slowly and steadily unfolded itself. The wonderful emotions of
Saturday carried him through Sunday, and he made it up with the
neglected Schema by assuring it that She was his Inspiration, and that
he would work for Her a thousand times better than he could possibly
work for himself. That was certainly not true, and indeed he found
himself wondering whither the interest had vanished out of his
theological examination of Butler's Analogy. The Frobishers were not
at church for either service. He speculated rather anxiously why?
Monday dawned coldly and clearly--a Herbert Spencer of a day--and he
went to school sedulously assuring himself there was nothing to
apprehend. Day boys were whispering in the morning apparently about
him, and Frobisher ii. was in great request. Lewisham overheard a
fragment "My mother _was_ in a wax," said Frobisher ii.
At twelve came an interview with Bonover, and voices presently rising
in angry altercation and audible to Senior-assistant Dunkerley through
the closed study door. Then Lewisham walked across the schoolroom,
staring straight before him, his cheeks very bright.
Thereby Dunkerley's mind was prepared for the news that came the next
morning over the exercise books. "When?" said Dunkerley.
"End of next term," said Lewisham.
"About this girl that's been staying at the Frobishers?"
"She's a pretty bit of goods. But it will mess up your matric next
June," said Dunkerley.
"That's what I'm sorry for."
"It's scarcely to be expected he'll give you leave to attend the
"He won't," said Lewisham shortly, and opened his first exercise
book. He found it difficult to talk.
"He's a greaser." said Dunkerley. "But there!--what can you expect
from Durham?" For Bonover had only a Durham degree, and Dunkerley,
having none, inclined to be particular. Therewith Dunkerley lapsed
into a sympathetic and busy rustling over his own pile of
exercises. It was not until the heap had been reduced to a book or so
that he spoke again--an elaborate point.
"Male and female created He them," said Dunkerley, ticking his way
down the page. "Which (tick, tick) was damned hard (tick, tick) on
He closed the book with a snap and flung it on the floor behind
him. "You're lucky," he said. "I _did_ think I should be first to get
out of this scandalising hole. You're lucky. It's always acting down
here. Running on parents and guardians round every corner. That's what
I object to in life in the country: it's so confoundedly
artificial. _I_ shall take jolly good care _I_ get out of it just as
soon as ever I can. You bet!"
"And work those patents?"
"Rather, my boy. Yes. Work those patents. The Patent Square Top
Bottle! Lord! Once let me get to London...."
"I think _I_ shall have a shot at London," said Lewisham.
And then the experienced Dunkerley, being one of the kindest young men
alive, forgot certain private ambitions of his own--he cherished
dreams of amazing patents--and bethought him of agents. He proceeded
to give a list of these necessary helpers of the assistant master at
the gangway--Orellana, Gabbitas, The Lancaster Gate Agency, and the
rest of them. He knew them all--intimately. He had been a "nix" eight
years. "Of course that Kensington thing may come off," said Dunkerley,
"but it's best not to wait. I tell you frankly--the chances are
The "Kensington thing" was an application for admission to the Normal
School of Science at South Kensington, which Lewisham had made in a
sanguine moment. There being an inadequate supply of qualified science
teachers in England, the Science and Art Department is wont to offer
free instruction at its great central school and a guinea a week to
select young pedagogues who will bind themselves to teach science
after their training is over. Dunkerley had been in the habit of
applying for several years, always in vain, and Lewisham had seen no
harm in following his example. But then Dunkerley had no green-grey
So Lewisham spent all that "duty" left him of the next day composing a
letter to copy out and send the several scholastic agencies. In this
he gave a brief but appreciative sketch of his life, and enlarged upon
his discipline and educational methods. At the end was a long and
decorative schedule of his certificates and distinctions, beginning
with a good-conduct prize at the age of eight. A considerable amount
of time was required to recopy this document, but his modesty upheld
him. After a careful consideration of the time-table, he set aside the
midday hour for "Correspondence."
He found that his work in mathematics and classics was already some
time in arrears, and a "test" he had sent to his correspondence Tutor
during those troublous days after the meeting with Bonover in the
Avenue, came back blottesquely indorsed: "Below Pass Standard." This
last experience was so unprecedented and annoyed him so much that for
a space he contemplated retorting with a sarcastic letter to the
tutor. And then came the Easter recess, and he had to go home and tell
his mother, with a careful suppression of details, that he was leaving
Whortley, "Where you have been getting on so well!" cried his mother.
But that dear old lady had one consolation. She observed he had given
up his glasses--he had forgotten to bring them with him--and her
secret fear of grave optical troubles--that were being "kept" from
Sometimes he had moods of intense regret for the folly of that
walk. One such came after the holidays, when the necessity of revising
the dates of the Schema brought before his mind, for the first time
quite clearly, the practical issue of this first struggle with all
those mysterious and powerful influences the spring-time sets
a-stirring. His dream of success and fame had been very real and dear
to him, and the realisation of the inevitable postponement of his long
anticipated matriculation, the doorway to all the other great things,
took him abruptly like an actual physical sensation in his chest.
He sprang up, pen in hand, in the midst of his corrections, and began
pacing up and down the room. "What a fool I have been!" he
cried. "What a fool I have been!"
He flung the pen on the floor and made a rush at an ill-drawn attempt
upon a girl's face that adorned the end of his room, the visible
witness of his slavery. He tore this down and sent the fragments of it
It was a relief--a definite abandonment. He stared for a moment at the
destruction he had made, and then went back to the revision of the
time-table, with a mutter about "silly spooning."
That was one mood. The rarer one. He watched the posts with far more
eagerness for the address to which he might write to her than for any
reply to those reiterated letters of application, the writing of which
now ousted Horace and the higher mathematics (Lewisham's term for
conics) from his attention. Indeed he spent more time meditating the
letter to her than even the schedule of his virtues had required.
Yet the letters of application were wonderful compositions; each had a
new pen to itself and was for the first page at least in a handwriting
far above even his usual high standard. And day after day passed and
that particular letter he hoped for still did not come.
His moods were complicated by the fact that, in spite of his studied
reticence on the subject, the reason of his departure did in an
amazingly short time get "all over Whortley." It was understood that
he had been discovered to be "fast," and Ethel's behaviour was
animadverted upon with complacent Indignation--if the phrase may be
allowed--by the ladies of the place. Pretty looks were too often a
snare. One boy--his ear was warmed therefor--once called aloud
"Ethel," as Lewisham went by. The curate, a curate of the pale-faced,
large-knuckled, nervous sort, now passed him without acknowledgment of
his existence. Mrs. Bonover took occasion to tell him that he was a
"mere boy," and once Mrs. Frobisher sniffed quite threateningly at him
when she passed him in the street. She did it so suddenly she made him
This general disapproval inclined him at times to depression, but in
certain moods he found it exhilarating, and several times he professed
himself to Dunkerley not a little of a blade. In others, he told
himself he bore it for _her_ sake. Anyhow he had to bear it.
He began to find out, too, how little the world feels the need of a
young man of nineteen--he called himself nineteen, though he had
several months of eighteen still to run--even though he adds prizes
for good conduct, general improvement, and arithmetic, and advanced
certificates signed by a distinguished engineer and headed with the
Royal Arms, guaranteeing his knowledge of geometrical drawing,
nautical astronomy, animal physiology, physiography, inorganic
chemistry, and building construction, to his youth and strength and
energy. At first he had imagined headmasters clutching at the chance
of him, and presently he found himself clutching eagerly at them. He
began to put a certain urgency into his applications for vacant posts,
an urgency that helped him not at all. The applications grew longer
and longer until they ran to four sheets of note-paper--a pennyworth
in fact. "I can assure you," he would write, "that you will find me a
loyal and devoted assistant." Much in that strain. Dunkerley pointed
out that Bonover's testimonial ignored the question of moral character
and discipline in a marked manner, and Bonover refused to alter it. He
was willing to do what he could to help Lewisham, in spite of the way
he had been treated, but unfortunately his conscience....
Once or twice Lewisham misquoted the testimonial--to no purpose. And
May was halfway through, and South Kensington was silent. The future
And in the depths of his doubt and disappointment came her letter. It
was typewritten on thin paper. "Dear," she wrote simply, and it
seemed to him the most sweet and wonderful of all possible modes of
address, though as a matter of fact it was because she had forgotten
his Christian name and afterwards forgotten the blank she had left for
"Dear, I could not write before because I have no room at home now
where I can write a letter, and Mrs. Frobisher told my mother
falsehoods about you. My mother has surprised me dreadfully--I did not
think it of her. She told me nothing. But of that I must tell you in
another letter. I am too angry to write about it now. Even now you
cannot write back, for _you must not send letters here_. It would
_never_ do. But I think of you, dear,"--the "dear" had been erased and
rewritten--"and I must write and tell you so, and of that nice walk we
had, if I never write again. I am very busy now. My work is rather
difficult and I am afraid I am a little stupid. It is hard to be
interested in anything just because that is how you have to live, is
it not? I daresay you sometimes feel the same of school. But I
suppose everybody is doing things they don't like. I don't know when
I shall come to Whortley again, if ever, but very likely you will be
coming to London. Mrs. Frobisher said the most horrid things. It
would be nice If you could come to London, because then perhaps you
might see me. There is a big boys' school at Chelsea, and when I go by
it every morning I wish you were there. Then you would come out in
your cap and gown as I went by. Suppose some day I was to see you
So it ran, with singularly little information in it, and ended quite
abruptly, "Good-bye, dear. Good-bye, dear," scribbled in pencil. And
then, "Think of me sometimes."
Reading it, and especially that opening "dear," made Lewisham feel the
strangest sensation in his throat and chest, almost as though he was
going to cry. So he laughed instead and read it again, and went to and
fro in his little room with his eyes bright and that precious writing
held in his hand. That "dear" was just as if she had spoken--a voice
suddenly heard. He thought of her farewell, clear and sweet, out of
the shadow of the moonlit house.
But why that "If I never write again," and that abrupt ending? Of
course he would think of her.
It was her only letter. In a little time its creases were worn
Early in June came a loneliness that suddenly changed into almost
intolerable longing to see her. He had vague dreams of going to
London, to Clapham to find her. But you do not find people in Clapham
as you do in Whortley. He spent an afternoon writing and re-writing a
lengthy letter, against the day when her address should come. If it
was to come. He prowled about the village disconsolately, and at last
set off about seven and retraced by moonlight almost every step of
that one memorable walk of theirs.
In the blackness of the shed he worked himself up to the pitch of
talking as if she were present. And he said some fine brave things.
He found the little old lady of the wallflowers with a candle in her
window, and drank a bottle of ginger beer with a sacramental air. The
little old lady asked him, a trifle archly, after his sister, and he
promised to bring her again some day. "I'll certainly bring her," he
said. Talking to the little old lady somehow blunted his sense of
desolation. And then home through the white indistinctness in a state
of melancholy that became at last so fine as to be almost pleasurable.
The day after that mood a new "text" attracted and perplexed
Mrs. Munday, an inscription at once mysterious and familiar, and this
It was in Old English lettering and evidently very carefully executed.
Where had she seen it before?
It quite dominated all the rest of the room at first, it flaunted like
a flag of triumph over "discipline" and the time-table and the
Schema. Once indeed it was taken down, but the day after it
reappeared. Later a list of scholastic vacancies partially obscured
it, and some pencil memoranda were written on the margin.
And when at last the time came for him to pack up and leave Whortley,
he took it down and used it with several other suitable papers--the
Schema and the time-table were its next-door neighbours--to line the
bottom of the yellow box in which he packed his books: chiefly books
for that matriculation that had now to be postponed.
THE CAREER PREVAILS.
There is an interval of two years and a half and the story resumes
with a much maturer Mr. Lewisham, indeed no longer a youth, but a man,
a legal man, at any rate, of one-and-twenty years. Its scene is no
longer little Whortley embedded among its trees, ruddy banks, parks
and common land, but the grey spaciousness of West London.
And it does not resume with Ethel at all. For that promised second
letter never reached him, and though he spent many an afternoon during
his first few months in London wandering about Clapham, that arid
waste of people, the meeting that he longed for never came. Until at
last, after the manner of youth, so gloriously recuperative in body,
heart, and soul, he began to forget.
The quest of a "crib" had ended in the unexpected fruition of
Dunkerley's blue paper. The green-blue certificates had, it seemed, a
value beyond mural decoration, and when Lewisham was already
despairing of any employment for the rest of his life, came a
marvellous blue document from the Education Department promising
inconceivable things. He was to go to London and be paid a guinea a
week for listening to lectures--lectures beyond his most ambitious
dreams! Among the names that swam before his eyes was Huxley--Huxley
and then Lockyer! What a chance to get! Is it any wonder that for
three memorable years the Career prevailed with him?
You figure him on his way to the Normal School of Science at the
opening of his third year of study there. (They call the place the
Royal College of Science in these latter days.) He carried in his
right hand a shiny black bag, well stuffed with text-books, notes, and
apparatus for the, forthcoming session; and in his left was a book
that the bag had no place for, a book with gilt edges, and its binding
very carefully protected by a brown paper cover.
The lapse of time had asserted itself upon his upper lip in an
inaggressive but indisputable moustache, in an added inch or so of
stature, and in his less conscious carriage. For he no longer felt
that universal attention he believed in at eighteen; it was beginning
to dawn on him indeed that quite a number of people were entirely
indifferent to the fact of his existence. But if less conscious, his
carriage was decidedly more confident--as of one with whom the world
His costume was--with one exception--a tempered black,--mourning put
to hard uses and "cutting up rusty." The mourning was for his mother,
who had died more than a year before the date when this story resumes,
and had left him property that capitalized at nearly a hundred pounds,
a sum which Lewisham hoarded jealously in the Savings Bank, paying
only for such essentials as university fees, and the books and
instruments his brilliant career as a student demanded. For he was
having a brilliant career, after all, in spite of the Whortley check,
licking up paper certificates indeed like a devouring flame.
(Surveying him, Madam, your eye would inevitably have fallen to his
collar--curiously shiny, a surface like wet gum. Although it has
practically nothing to do with this story, I must, I know, dispose of
that before I go on, or you will be inattentive. London has its
mysteries, but this strange gloss on his linen! "Cheap laundresses
always make your things blue," protests the lady. "It ought to have
been blue-stained, generously frayed, and loose about the button,
fretting his neck. But this gloss ..." You would have looked nearer,
and finally you would have touched--a charnel-house surface, dank and
cool! You see, Madam, the collar was a patent waterproof one. One of
those you wash over night with a tooth-brush, and hang on the back of
your chair to dry, and there you have it next morning rejuvenesced. It
was the only collar he had in the world, it saved threepence a week at
least, and that, to a South Kensington "science teacher in training,"
living on the guinea a week allowed by a parental but parsimonious
government, is a sum to consider. It had come to Lewisham as a great
discovery. He had seen it first in a shop window full of indiarubber
goods, and it lay at the bottom of a glass bowl In which goldfish
drifted discontentedly to and fro. And he told himself that he rather
liked that gloss.)
But the wearing of a bright red tie would have been unexpected--a
bright red tie after the fashion of a South-Western railway guard's!
The rest of him by no means dandiacal, even the vanity of glasses long
since abandoned. You would have reflected.... Where had you seen a
crowd--red ties abundant and in some way significant? The truth has to
be told. Mr. Lewisham had become a Socialist!
That red tie was indeed but one outward and visible sign of much
inward and spiritual development. Lewisham, in spite of the demands of
a studious career, had read his Butler's Analogy through by this time,
and some other books; he had argued, had had doubts, and called upon
God for "Faith" in the silence of the night--"Faith" to be delivered
immediately if Mr. Lewisham's patronage was valued, and which
nevertheless was not so delivered.... And his conception of his
destiny in this world was no longer an avenue of examinations to a
remote Bar and political eminence "in the Liberal interest (D.V.)" He
had begun to realise certain aspects of our social order that Whortley
did not demonstrate, begun to feel something of the dull stress
deepening to absolute wretchedness and pain, which is the colour of so
much human life in modern London. One vivid contrast hung in his mind
symbolical. On the one hand were the coalies of the Westbourne Park
yards, on strike and gaunt and hungry, children begging in the black
slush, and starving loungers outside a soup kitchen; and on the other,
Westbourne Grove, two streets further, a blazing array of crowded
shops, a stirring traffic of cabs and carriages, and such a spate of
spending that a tired student in leaky boots and graceless clothes
hurrying home was continually impeded in the whirl of skirts and
parcels and sweetly pretty womanliness. No doubt the tired student's
own inglorious sensations pointed the moral. But that was only one of
a perpetually recurring series of vivid approximations.
Lewisham had a strong persuasion, an instinct it may be, that human
beings should not be happy while others near them were wretched, and
this gay glitter of prosperity had touched him with a sense of
crime. He still believed people were responsible for their own lives;
in those days he had still to gauge the possibilities of moral
stupidity in himself and his fellow-men. He happened upon "Progress
and Poverty" just then, and some casual numbers of the "Commonweal,"
and it was only too easy to accept the theory of cunning plotting
capitalists and landowners, and faultless, righteous, martyr
workers. He became a Socialist forthwith. The necessity to do
something at once to manifest the new faith that was in him was
naturally urgent. So he went out and (historical moment) bought that
"Blood colour, please," said Lewisham meekly to the young lady at the
"_What_ colour?" said the young lady at the counter, sharply.
"A bright scarlet, please," said Lewisham, blushing. And he spent the
best part of the evening and much of his temper in finding out how to
tie this into a neat bow. It was a plunge into novel handicraft--for
previously he had been accustomed to made-up ties.
So it was that Lewisham proclaimed the Social Revolution. The first
time that symbol went abroad a string of stalwart policemen were
walking in single file along the Brompton Road. In the opposite
direction marched Lewisham. He began to hum. He passed the policemen
with a significant eye and humming the _Marseillaise_....
But that was months ago, and by this time the red tie was a thing of
use and wont.
He turned out of the Exhibition Road through a gateway of wrought
iron, and entered the hall of the Normal School. The hall was crowded
with students carrying books, bags, and boxes of instruments, students
standing and chattering, students reading the framed and glazed
notices of the Debating Society, students buying note-books, pencils,
rubber, or drawing pins from the privileged stationer. There was a
strong representation of new hands, the paying students, youths and
young men in black coats and silk hats or tweed suits, the scholar
contingent, youngsters of Lewisham's class, raw, shabby, discordant,
grotesquely ill-dressed and awe-stricken; one Lewisham noticed with a
sailor's peaked cap gold-decorated, and one with mittens and very
genteel grey kid gloves; and Grummett the perennial Official of the
Books was busy among them.
"Der Zozalist!" said a wit.
Lewisham pretended not to hear and blushed vividly. He often wished he
did not blush quite so much, seeing he was a man of one-and-twenty.
He looked studiously away from the Debating Society notice-board,
whereon "G.E. Lewisham on Socialism" was announced for the next
Friday, and struggled through the hall to where the Book awaited his
signature. Presently he was hailed by name, and then again. He could
not get to the Book for a minute or so, because of the hand-shaking
and clumsy friendly jests of his fellow-"men."
He was pointed out to a raw hand, by the raw hand's experienced
fellow-townsman, as "that beast Lewisham--awful swat. He was second
last year on the year's work. Frightful mugger. But all these swats
have a touch of the beastly prig. Exams--Debating Society--more
Exams. Don't seem to have ever heard of being alive. Never goes near a
Music Hall from one year's end to the other."
Lewisham heard a shrill whistle, made a run for the lift and caught it
just on the point of departure. The lift was unlit and full of black
shadows; only the sapper who conducted it was distinct. As Lewisham
peered doubtfully at the dim faces near him, a girl's voice addressed