Part 4 out of 15
narrowly. He liked her much better in the evening than in the morning. In
the morning she was rather lined and the skin of her neck was just a
little rough. He wished she would hide it, but the weather was very warm
just then and she wore blouses which were cut low. She was very fond of
white; in the morning it did not suit her. At night she often looked very
attractive, she put on a gown which was almost a dinner dress, and she
wore a chain of garnets round her neck; the lace about her bosom and at
her elbows gave her a pleasant softness, and the scent she wore (at
Blackstable no one used anything but Eau de Cologne, and that only on
Sundays or when suffering from a sick headache) was troubling and exotic.
She really looked very young then.
Philip was much exercised over her age. He added twenty and seventeen
together, and could not bring them to a satisfactory total. He asked Aunt
Louisa more than once why she thought Miss Wilkinson was thirty-seven: she
didn't look more than thirty, and everyone knew that foreigners aged more
rapidly than English women; Miss Wilkinson had lived so long abroad that
she might almost be called a foreigner. He personally wouldn't have
thought her more than twenty-six.
"She's more than that," said Aunt Louisa.
Philip did not believe in the accuracy of the Careys' statements. All they
distinctly remembered was that Miss Wilkinson had not got her hair up the
last time they saw her in Lincolnshire. Well, she might have been twelve
then: it was so long ago and the Vicar was always so unreliable. They said
it was twenty years ago, but people used round figures, and it was just as
likely to be eighteen years, or seventeen. Seventeen and twelve were only
twenty-nine, and hang it all, that wasn't old, was it? Cleopatra was
forty-eight when Antony threw away the world for her sake.
It was a fine summer. Day after day was hot and cloudless; but the heat
was tempered by the neighbourhood of the sea, and there was a pleasant
exhilaration in the air, so that one was excited and not oppressed by the
August sunshine. There was a pond in the garden in which a fountain
played; water lilies grew in it and gold fish sunned themselves on the
surface. Philip and Miss Wilkinson used to take rugs and cushions there
after dinner and lie on the lawn in the shade of a tall hedge of roses.
They talked and read all the afternoon. They smoked cigarettes, which the
Vicar did not allow in the house; he thought smoking a disgusting habit,
and used frequently to say that it was disgraceful for anyone to grow a
slave to a habit. He forgot that he was himself a slave to afternoon tea.
One day Miss Wilkinson gave Philip La Vie de Boheme. She had found it by
accident when she was rummaging among the books in the Vicar's study. It
had been bought in a lot with something Mr. Carey wanted and had remained
undiscovered for ten years.
Philip began to read Murger's fascinating, ill-written, absurd
masterpiece, and fell at once under its spell. His soul danced with joy at
that picture of starvation which is so good-humoured, of squalor which is
so picturesque, of sordid love which is so romantic, of bathos which is so
moving. Rodolphe and Mimi, Musette and Schaunard! They wander through the
gray streets of the Latin Quarter, finding refuge now in one attic, now in
another, in their quaint costumes of Louis Philippe, with their tears and
their smiles, happy-go-lucky and reckless. Who can resist them? It is only
when you return to the book with a sounder judgment that you find how
gross their pleasures were, how vulgar their minds; and you feel the utter
worthlessness, as artists and as human beings, of that gay procession.
Philip was enraptured.
"Don't you wish you were going to Paris instead of London?" asked Miss
Wilkinson, smiling at his enthusiasm.
"It's too late now even if I did," he answered.
During the fortnight he had been back from Germany there had been much
discussion between himself and his uncle about his future. He had refused
definitely to go to Oxford, and now that there was no chance of his
getting scholarships even Mr. Carey came to the conclusion that he could
not afford it. His entire fortune had consisted of only two thousand
pounds, and though it had been invested in mortgages at five per cent, he
had not been able to live on the interest. It was now a little reduced. It
would be absurd to spend two hundred a year, the least he could live on at
a university, for three years at Oxford which would lead him no nearer to
earning his living. He was anxious to go straight to London. Mrs. Carey
thought there were only four professions for a gentleman, the Army, the
Navy, the Law, and the Church. She had added medicine because her
brother-in-law practised it, but did not forget that in her young days no
one ever considered the doctor a gentleman. The first two were out of the
question, and Philip was firm in his refusal to be ordained. Only the law
remained. The local doctor had suggested that many gentlemen now went in
for engineering, but Mrs. Carey opposed the idea at once.
"I shouldn't like Philip to go into trade," she said.
"No, he must have a profession," answered the Vicar.
"Why not make him a doctor like his father?"
"I should hate it," said Philip.
Mrs. Carey was not sorry. The Bar seemed out of the question, since he was
not going to Oxford, for the Careys were under the impression that a
degree was still necessary for success in that calling; and finally it was
suggested that he should become articled to a solicitor. They wrote to the
family lawyer, Albert Nixon, who was co-executor with the Vicar of
Blackstable for the late Henry Carey's estate, and asked him whether he
would take Philip. In a day or two the answer came back that he had not a
vacancy, and was very much opposed to the whole scheme; the profession was
greatly overcrowded, and without capital or connections a man had small
chance of becoming more than a managing clerk; he suggested, however, that
Philip should become a chartered accountant. Neither the Vicar nor his
wife knew in the least what this was, and Philip had never heard of anyone
being a chartered accountant; but another letter from the solicitor
explained that the growth of modern businesses and the increase of
companies had led to the formation of many firms of accountants to examine
the books and put into the financial affairs of their clients an order
which old-fashioned methods had lacked. Some years before a Royal Charter
had been obtained, and the profession was becoming every year more
respectable, lucrative, and important. The chartered accountants whom
Albert Nixon had employed for thirty years happened to have a vacancy for
an articled pupil, and would take Philip for a fee of three hundred
pounds. Half of this would be returned during the five years the articles
lasted in the form of salary. The prospect was not exciting, but Philip
felt that he must decide on something, and the thought of living in London
over-balanced the slight shrinking he felt. The Vicar of Blackstable wrote
to ask Mr. Nixon whether it was a profession suited to a gentleman; and
Mr. Nixon replied that, since the Charter, men were going into it who had
been to public schools and a university; moreover, if Philip disliked the
work and after a year wished to leave, Herbert Carter, for that was the
accountant's name, would return half the money paid for the articles. This
settled it, and it was arranged that Philip should start work on the
fifteenth of September.
"I have a full month before me," said Philip.
"And then you go to freedom and I to bondage," returned Miss Wilkinson.
Her holidays were to last six weeks, and she would be leaving Blackstable
only a day or two before Philip.
"I wonder if we shall ever meet again," she said.
"I don't know why not."
"Oh, don't speak in that practical way. I never knew anyone so
Philip reddened. He was afraid that Miss Wilkinson would think him a
milksop: after all she was a young woman, sometimes quite pretty, and he
was getting on for twenty; it was absurd that they should talk of nothing
but art and literature. He ought to make love to her. They had talked a
good deal of love. There was the art-student in the Rue Breda, and then
there was the painter in whose family she had lived so long in Paris: he
had asked her to sit for him, and had started to make love to her so
violently that she was forced to invent excuses not to sit to him again.
It was clear enough that Miss Wilkinson was used to attentions of that
sort. She looked very nice now in a large straw hat: it was hot that
afternoon, the hottest day they had had, and beads of sweat stood in a
line on her upper lip. He called to mind Fraulein Cacilie and Herr Sung.
He had never thought of Cacilie in an amorous way, she was exceedingly
plain; but now, looking back, the affair seemed very romantic. He had a
chance of romance too. Miss Wilkinson was practically French, and that
added zest to a possible adventure. When he thought of it at night in bed,
or when he sat by himself in the garden reading a book, he was thrilled by
it; but when he saw Miss Wilkinson it seemed less picturesque.
At all events, after what she had told him, she would not be surprised if
he made love to her. He had a feeling that she must think it odd of him to
make no sign: perhaps it was only his fancy, but once or twice in the last
day or two he had imagined that there was a suspicion of contempt in her
"A penny for your thoughts," said Miss Wilkinson, looking at him with a
"I'm not going to tell you," he answered.
He was thinking that he ought to kiss her there and then. He wondered if
she expected him to do it; but after all he didn't see how he could
without any preliminary business at all. She would just think him mad, or
she might slap his face; and perhaps she would complain to his uncle. He
wondered how Herr Sung had started with Fraulein Cacilie. It would be
beastly if she told his uncle: he knew what his uncle was, he would tell
the doctor and Josiah Graves; and he would look a perfect fool. Aunt
Louisa kept on saying that Miss Wilkinson was thirty-seven if she was a
day; he shuddered at the thought of the ridicule he would be exposed to;
they would say she was old enough to be his mother.
"Twopence for your thoughts," smiled Miss Wilkinson.
"I was thinking about you," he answered boldly.
That at all events committed him to nothing.
"What were you thinking?"
"Ah, now you want to know too much."
"Naughty boy!" said Miss Wilkinson.
There it was again! Whenever he had succeeded in working himself up she
said something which reminded him of the governess. She called him
playfully a naughty boy when he did not sing his exercises to her
satisfaction. This time he grew quite sulky.
"I wish you wouldn't treat me as if I were a child."
"Are you cross?"
"I didn't mean to."
She put out her hand and he took it. Once or twice lately when they shook
hands at night he had fancied she slightly pressed his hand, but this time
there was no doubt about it.
He did not quite know what he ought to say next. Here at last was his
chance of an adventure, and he would be a fool not to take it; but it was
a little ordinary, and he had expected more glamour. He had read many
descriptions of love, and he felt in himself none of that uprush of
emotion which novelists described; he was not carried off his feet in wave
upon wave of passion; nor was Miss Wilkinson the ideal: he had often
pictured to himself the great violet eyes and the alabaster skin of some
lovely girl, and he had thought of himself burying his face in the
rippling masses of her auburn hair. He could not imagine himself burying
his face in Miss Wilkinson's hair, it always struck him as a little
sticky. All the same it would be very satisfactory to have an intrigue,
and he thrilled with the legitimate pride he would enjoy in his conquest.
He owed it to himself to seduce her. He made up his mind to kiss Miss
Wilkinson; not then, but in the evening; it would be easier in the dark,
and after he had kissed her the rest would follow. He would kiss her that
very evening. He swore an oath to that effect.
He laid his plans. After supper he suggested that they should take a
stroll in the garden. Miss Wilkinson accepted, and they sauntered side by
side. Philip was very nervous. He did not know why, but the conversation
would not lead in the right direction; he had decided that the first thing
to do was to put his arm round her waist; but he could not suddenly put
his arm round her waist when she was talking of the regatta which was to
be held next week. He led her artfully into the darkest parts of the
garden, but having arrived there his courage failed him. They sat on a
bench, and he had really made up his mind that here was his opportunity
when Miss Wilkinson said she was sure there were earwigs and insisted on
moving. They walked round the garden once more, and Philip promised
himself he would take the plunge before they arrived at that bench again;
but as they passed the house, they saw Mrs. Carey standing at the door.
"Hadn't you young people better come in? I'm sure the night air isn't good
"Perhaps we had better go in," said Philip. "I don't want you to catch
He said it with a sigh of relief. He could attempt nothing more that
night. But afterwards, when he was alone in his room, he was furious with
himself. He had been a perfect fool. He was certain that Miss Wilkinson
expected him to kiss her, otherwise she wouldn't have come into the
garden. She was always saying that only Frenchmen knew how to treat women.
Philip had read French novels. If he had been a Frenchman he would have
seized her in his arms and told her passionately that he adored her; he
would have pressed his lips on her nuque. He did not know why Frenchmen
always kissed ladies on the nuque. He did not himself see anything so
very attractive in the nape of the neck. Of course it was much easier for
Frenchmen to do these things; the language was such an aid; Philip could
never help feeling that to say passionate things in English sounded a
little absurd. He wished now that he had never undertaken the siege of
Miss Wilkinson's virtue; the first fortnight had been so jolly, and now he
was wretched; but he was determined not to give in, he would never respect
himself again if he did, and he made up his mind irrevocably that the
next night he would kiss her without fail.
Next day when he got up he saw it was raining, and his first thought was
that they would not be able to go into the garden that evening. He was in
high spirits at breakfast. Miss Wilkinson sent Mary Ann in to say that she
had a headache and would remain in bed. She did not come down till
tea-time, when she appeared in a becoming wrapper and a pale face; but she
was quite recovered by supper, and the meal was very cheerful. After
prayers she said she would go straight to bed, and she kissed Mrs. Carey.
Then she turned to Philip.
"Good gracious!" she cried. "I was just going to kiss you too."
"Why don't you?" he said.
She laughed and held out her hand. She distinctly pressed his.
The following day there was not a cloud in the sky, and the garden was
sweet and fresh after the rain. Philip went down to the beach to bathe and
when he came home ate a magnificent dinner. They were having a tennis
party at the vicarage in the afternoon and Miss Wilkinson put on her best
dress. She certainly knew how to wear her clothes, and Philip could not
help noticing how elegant she looked beside the curate's wife and the
doctor's married daughter. There were two roses in her waistband. She sat
in a garden chair by the side of the lawn, holding a red parasol over
herself, and the light on her face was very becoming. Philip was fond of
tennis. He served well and as he ran clumsily played close to the net:
notwithstanding his club-foot he was quick, and it was difficult to get a
ball past him. He was pleased because he won all his sets. At tea he lay
down at Miss Wilkinson's feet, hot and panting.
"Flannels suit you," she said. "You look very nice this afternoon."
He blushed with delight.
"I can honestly return the compliment. You look perfectly ravishing."
She smiled and gave him a long look with her black eyes.
After supper he insisted that she should come out.
"Haven't you had enough exercise for one day?"
"It'll be lovely in the garden tonight. The stars are all out."
He was in high spirits.
"D'you know, Mrs. Carey has been scolding me on your account?" said Miss
Wilkinson, when they were sauntering through the kitchen garden. "She says
I mustn't flirt with you."
"Have you been flirting with me? I hadn't noticed it."
"She was only joking."
"It was very unkind of you to refuse to kiss me last night."
"If you saw the look your uncle gave me when I said what I did!"
"Was that all that prevented you?"
"I prefer to kiss people without witnesses."
"There are no witnesses now."
Philip put his arm round her waist and kissed her lips. She only laughed
a little and made no attempt to withdraw. It had come quite naturally.
Philip was very proud of himself. He said he would, and he had. It was the
easiest thing in the world. He wished he had done it before. He did it
"Oh, you mustn't," she said.
"Because I like it," she laughed.
Next day after dinner they took their rugs and cushions to the fountain,
and their books; but they did not read. Miss Wilkinson made herself
comfortable and she opened the red sun-shade. Philip was not at all shy
now, but at first she would not let him kiss her.
"It was very wrong of me last night," she said. "I couldn't sleep, I felt
I'd done so wrong."
"What nonsense!" he cried. "I'm sure you slept like a top."
"What do you think your uncle would say if he knew?"
"There's no reason why he should know."
He leaned over her, and his heart went pit-a-pat.
"Why d'you want to kiss me?"
He knew he ought to reply: "Because I love you." But he could not bring
himself to say it.
"Why do you think?" he asked instead.
She looked at him with smiling eyes and touched his face with the tips of
"How smooth your face is," she murmured.
"I want shaving awfully," he said.
It was astonishing how difficult he found it to make romantic speeches. He
found that silence helped him much more than words. He could look
inexpressible things. Miss Wilkinson sighed.
"Do you like me at all?"
When he tried to kiss her again she did not resist. He pretended to be
much more passionate than he really was, and he succeeded in playing a
part which looked very well in his own eyes.
"I'm beginning to be rather frightened of you," said Miss Wilkinson.
"You'll come out after supper, won't you?" he begged.
"Not unless you promise to behave yourself."
"I'll promise anything."
He was catching fire from the flame he was partly simulating, and at
tea-time he was obstreperously merry. Miss Wilkinson looked at him
"You mustn't have those shining eyes," she said to him afterwards. "What
will your Aunt Louisa think?"
"I don't care what she thinks."
Miss Wilkinson gave a little laugh of pleasure. They had no sooner
finished supper than he said to her:
"Are you going to keep me company while I smoke a cigarette?"
"Why don't you let Miss Wilkinson rest?" said Mrs. Carey. "You must
remember she's not as young as you."
"Oh, I'd like to go out, Mrs. Carey," she said, rather acidly.
"After dinner walk a mile, after supper rest a while," said the Vicar.
"Your aunt is very nice, but she gets on my nerves sometimes," said Miss
Wilkinson, as soon as they closed the side-door behind them.
Philip threw away the cigarette he had just lighted, and flung his arms
round her. She tried to push him away.
"You promised you'd be good, Philip."
"You didn't think I was going to keep a promise like that?"
"Not so near the house, Philip," she said. "Supposing someone should come
He led her to the kitchen garden where no one was likely to come, and this
time Miss Wilkinson did not think of earwigs. He kissed her passionately.
It was one of the things that puzzled him that he did not like her at all
in the morning, and only moderately in the afternoon, but at night the
touch of her hand thrilled him. He said things that he would never have
thought himself capable of saying; he could certainly never have said them
in the broad light of day; and he listened to himself with wonder and
"How beautifully you make love," she said.
That was what he thought himself.
"Oh, if I could only say all the things that burn my heart!" he murmured
It was splendid. It was the most thrilling game he had ever played; and
the wonderful thing was that he felt almost all he said. It was only that
he exaggerated a little. He was tremendously interested and excited in the
effect he could see it had on her. It was obviously with an effort that at
last she suggested going in.
"Oh, don't go yet," he cried.
"I must," she muttered. "I'm frightened."
He had a sudden intuition what was the right thing to do then.
"I can't go in yet. I shall stay here and think. My cheeks are burning. I
want the night-air. Good-night."
He held out his hand seriously, and she took it in silence. He thought she
stifled a sob. Oh, it was magnificent! When, after a decent interval
during which he had been rather bored in the dark garden by himself, he
went in he found that Miss Wilkinson had already gone to bed.
After that things were different between them. The next day and the day
after Philip showed himself an eager lover. He was deliciously flattered
to discover that Miss Wilkinson was in love with him: she told him so in
English, and she told him so in French. She paid him compliments. No one
had ever informed him before that his eyes were charming and that he had
a sensual mouth. He had never bothered much about his personal appearance,
but now, when occasion presented, he looked at himself in the glass with
satisfaction. When he kissed her it was wonderful to feel the passion that
seemed to thrill her soul. He kissed her a good deal, for he found it
easier to do that than to say the things he instinctively felt she
expected of him. It still made him feel a fool to say he worshipped her.
He wished there were someone to whom he could boast a little, and he would
willingly have discussed minute points of his conduct. Sometimes she said
things that were enigmatic, and he was puzzled. He wished Hayward had been
there so that he could ask him what he thought she meant, and what he had
better do next. He could not make up his mind whether he ought to rush
things or let them take their time. There were only three weeks more.
"I can't bear to think of that," she said. "It breaks my heart. And then
perhaps we shall never see one another again."
"If you cared for me at all, you wouldn't be so unkind to me," he
"Oh, why can't you be content to let it go on as it is? Men are always the
same. They're never satisfied."
And when he pressed her, she said:
"But don't you see it's impossible. How can we here?"
He proposed all sorts of schemes, but she would not have anything to do
"I daren't take the risk. It would be too dreadful if your aunt found
A day or two later he had an idea which seemed brilliant.
"Look here, if you had a headache on Sunday evening and offered to stay at
home and look after the house, Aunt Louisa would go to church."
Generally Mrs. Carey remained in on Sunday evening in order to allow Mary
Ann to go to church, but she would welcome the opportunity of attending
Philip had not found it necessary to impart to his relations the change in
his views on Christianity which had occurred in Germany; they could not be
expected to understand; and it seemed less trouble to go to church
quietly. But he only went in the morning. He regarded this as a graceful
concession to the prejudices of society and his refusal to go a second
time as an adequate assertion of free thought.
When he made the suggestion, Miss Wilkinson did not speak for a moment,
then shook her head.
"No, I won't," she said.
But on Sunday at tea-time she surprised Philip. "I don't think I'll come
to church this evening," she said suddenly. "I've really got a dreadful
Mrs. Carey, much concerned, insisted on giving her some `drops' which she
was herself in the habit of using. Miss Wilkinson thanked her, and
immediately after tea announced that she would go to her room and lie
"Are you sure there's nothing you'll want?" asked Mrs. Carey anxiously.
"Quite sure, thank you."
"Because, if there isn't, I think I'll go to church. I don't often have
the chance of going in the evening."
"Oh yes, do go."
"I shall be in," said Philip. "If Miss Wilkinson wants anything, she can
always call me."
"You'd better leave the drawing-room door open, Philip, so that if Miss
Wilkinson rings, you'll hear."
"Certainly," said Philip.
So after six o'clock Philip was left alone in the house with Miss
Wilkinson. He felt sick with apprehension. He wished with all his heart
that he had not suggested the plan; but it was too late now; he must take
the opportunity which he had made. What would Miss Wilkinson think of him
if he did not! He went into the hall and listened. There was not a sound.
He wondered if Miss Wilkinson really had a headache. Perhaps she had
forgotten his suggestion. His heart beat painfully. He crept up the stairs
as softly as he could, and he stopped with a start when they creaked. He
stood outside Miss Wilkinson's room and listened; he put his hand on the
knob of the door-handle. He waited. It seemed to him that he waited for at
least five minutes, trying to make up his mind; and his hand trembled. He
would willingly have bolted, but he was afraid of the remorse which he
knew would seize him. It was like getting on the highest diving-board in
a swimming-bath; it looked nothing from below, but when you got up there
and stared down at the water your heart sank; and the only thing that
forced you to dive was the shame of coming down meekly by the steps you
had climbed up. Philip screwed up his courage. He turned the handle softly
and walked in. He seemed to himself to be trembling like a leaf.
Miss Wilkinson was standing at the dressing-table with her back to the
door, and she turned round quickly when she heard it open.
"Oh, it's you. What d'you want?"
She had taken off her skirt and blouse, and was standing in her petticoat.
It was short and only came down to the top of her boots; the upper part of
it was black, of some shiny material, and there was a red flounce. She
wore a camisole of white calico with short arms. She looked grotesque.
Philip's heart sank as he stared at her; she had never seemed so
unattractive; but it was too late now. He closed the door behind him and
Philip woke early next morning. His sleep had been restless; but when he
stretched his legs and looked at the sunshine that slid through the
Venetian blinds, making patterns on the floor, he sighed with
satisfaction. He was delighted with himself. He began to think of Miss
Wilkinson. She had asked him to call her Emily, but, he knew not why, he
could not; he always thought of her as Miss Wilkinson. Since she chid him
for so addressing her, he avoided using her name at all. During his
childhood he had often heard a sister of Aunt Louisa, the widow of a naval
officer, spoken of as Aunt Emily. It made him uncomfortable to call Miss
Wilkinson by that name, nor could he think of any that would have suited
her better. She had begun as Miss Wilkinson, and it seemed inseparable
from his impression of her. He frowned a little: somehow or other he saw
her now at her worst; he could not forget his dismay when she turned round
and he saw her in her camisole and the short petticoat; he remembered the
slight roughness of her skin and the sharp, long lines on the side of the
neck. His triumph was short-lived. He reckoned out her age again, and he
did not see how she could be less than forty. It made the affair
ridiculous. She was plain and old. His quick fancy showed her to him,
wrinkled, haggard, made-up, in those frocks which were too showy for her
position and too young for her years. He shuddered; he felt suddenly that
he never wanted to see her again; he could not bear the thought of kissing
her. He was horrified with himself. Was that love?
He took as long as he could over dressing in order to put back the moment
of seeing her, and when at last he went into the dining-room it was with
a sinking heart. Prayers were over, and they were sitting down at
"Lazybones," Miss Wilkinson cried gaily.
He looked at her and gave a little gasp of relief. She was sitting with
her back to the window. She was really quite nice. He wondered why he had
thought such things about her. His self-satisfaction returned to him.
He was taken aback by the change in her. She told him in a voice thrilling
with emotion immediately after breakfast that she loved him; and when a
little later they went into the drawing-room for his singing lesson and
she sat down on the music-stool she put up her face in the middle of a
scale and said:
When he bent down she flung her arms round his neck. It was slightly
uncomfortable, for she held him in such a position that he felt rather
"Ah, je t'aime. Je t'aime. Je t'aime," she cried, with her extravagantly
Philip wished she would speak English.
"I say, I don't know if it's struck you that the gardener's quite likely
to pass the window any minute."
"Ah, je m'en fiche du jardinier. Je m'en refiche, et je m'en
Philip thought it was very like a French novel, and he did not know why it
slightly irritated him.
At last he said:
"Well, I think I'll tootle along to the beach and have a dip."
"Oh, you're not going to leave me this morning--of all mornings?" Philip
did not quite know why he should not, but it did not matter.
"Would you like me to stay?" he smiled.
"Oh, you darling! But no, go. Go. I want to think of you mastering the
salt sea waves, bathing your limbs in the broad ocean."
He got his hat and sauntered off.
"What rot women talk!" he thought to himself.
But he was pleased and happy and flattered. She was evidently frightfully
gone on him. As he limped along the high street of Blackstable he looked
with a tinge of superciliousness at the people he passed. He knew a good
many to nod to, and as he gave them a smile of recognition he thought to
himself, if they only knew! He did want someone to know very badly. He
thought he would write to Hayward, and in his mind composed the letter. He
would talk of the garden and the roses, and the little French governess,
like an exotic flower amongst them, scented and perverse: he would say she
was French, because--well, she had lived in France so long that she almost
was, and besides it would be shabby to give the whole thing away too
exactly, don't you know; and he would tell Hayward how he had seen her
first in her pretty muslin dress and of the flower she had given him. He
made a delicate idyl of it: the sunshine and the sea gave it passion and
magic, and the stars added poetry, and the old vicarage garden was a fit
and exquisite setting. There was something Meredithian about it: it was
not quite Lucy Feverel and not quite Clara Middleton; but it was
inexpressibly charming. Philip's heart beat quickly. He was so delighted
with his fancies that he began thinking of them again as soon as he
crawled back, dripping and cold, into his bathing-machine. He thought of
the object of his affections. She had the most adorable little nose and
large brown eyes--he would describe her to Hayward--and masses of soft
brown hair, the sort of hair it was delicious to bury your face in, and a
skin which was like ivory and sunshine, and her cheek was like a red, red
rose. How old was she? Eighteen perhaps, and he called her Musette. Her
laughter was like a rippling brook, and her voice was so soft, so low, it
was the sweetest music he had ever heard.
"What ARE you thinking about?"
Philip stopped suddenly. He was walking slowly home.
"I've been waving at you for the last quarter of a mile. You ARE
Miss Wilkinson was standing in front of him, laughing at his surprise.
"I thought I'd come and meet you."
"That's awfully nice of you," he said.
"Did I startle you?"
"You did a bit," he admitted.
He wrote his letter to Hayward all the same. There were eight pages of it.
The fortnight that remained passed quickly, and though each evening, when
they went into the garden after supper, Miss Wilkinson remarked that one
day more had gone, Philip was in too cheerful spirits to let the thought
depress him. One night Miss Wilkinson suggested that it would be
delightful if she could exchange her situation in Berlin for one in
London. Then they could see one another constantly. Philip said it would
be very jolly, but the prospect aroused no enthusiasm in him; he was
looking forward to a wonderful life in London, and he preferred not to be
hampered. He spoke a little too freely of all he meant to do, and allowed
Miss Wilkinson to see that already he was longing to be off.
"You wouldn't talk like that if you loved me," she cried.
He was taken aback and remained silent.
"What a fool I've been," she muttered.
To his surprise he saw that she was crying. He had a tender heart, and
hated to see anyone miserable.
"Oh, I'm awfully sorry. What have I done? Don't cry."
"Oh, Philip, don't leave me. You don't know what you mean to me. I have
such a wretched life, and you've made me so happy."
He kissed her silently. There really was anguish in her tone, and he was
frightened. It had never occurred to him that she meant what she said
quite, quite seriously.
"I'm awfully sorry. You know I'm frightfully fond of you. I wish you would
come to London."
"You know I can't. Places are almost impossible to get, and I hate English
Almost unconscious that he was acting a part, moved by her distress, he
pressed her more and more. Her tears vaguely flattered him, and he kissed
her with real passion.
But a day or two later she made a real scene. There was a tennis-party at
the vicarage, and two girls came, daughters of a retired major in an
Indian regiment who had lately settled in Blackstable. They were very
pretty, one was Philip's age and the other was a year or two younger.
Being used to the society of young men (they were full of stories of
hill-stations in India, and at that time the stories of Rudyard Kipling
were in every hand) they began to chaff Philip gaily; and he, pleased with
the novelty--the young ladies at Blackstable treated the Vicar's nephew
with a certain seriousness--was gay and jolly. Some devil within him
prompted him to start a violent flirtation with them both, and as he was
the only young man there, they were quite willing to meet him half-way. It
happened that they played tennis quite well and Philip was tired of
pat-ball with Miss Wilkinson (she had only begun to play when she came to
Blackstable), so when he arranged the sets after tea he suggested that
Miss Wilkinson should play against the curate's wife, with the curate as
her partner; and he would play later with the new-comers. He sat down by
the elder Miss O'Connor and said to her in an undertone:
"We'll get the duffers out of the way first, and then we'll have a jolly
Apparently Miss Wilkinson overheard him, for she threw down her racket,
and, saying she had a headache, went away. It was plain to everyone that
she was offended. Philip was annoyed that she should make the fact public.
The set was arranged without her, but presently Mrs. Carey called him.
"Philip, you've hurt Emily's feelings. She's gone to her room and she's
"Oh, something about a duffer's set. Do go to her, and say you didn't mean
to be unkind, there's a good boy."
He knocked at Miss Wilkinson's door, but receiving no answer went in. He
found her lying face downwards on her bed, weeping. He touched her on the
"I say, what on earth's the matter?"
"Leave me alone. I never want to speak to you again."
"What have I done? I'm awfully sorry if I've hurt your feelings. I didn't
mean to. I say, do get up."
"Oh, I'm so unhappy. How could you be cruel to me? You know I hate that
stupid game. I only play because I want to play with you."
She got up and walked towards the dressing-table, but after a quick look
in the glass sank into a chair. She made her handkerchief into a ball and
dabbed her eyes with it.
"I've given you the greatest thing a woman can give a man--oh, what a fool
I was--and you have no gratitude. You must be quite heartless. How could
you be so cruel as to torment me by flirting with those vulgar girls.
We've only got just over a week. Can't you even give me that?"
Philip stood over her rather sulkily. He thought her behaviour childish.
He was vexed with her for having shown her ill-temper before strangers.
"But you know I don't care twopence about either of the O'Connors. Why on
earth should you think I do?"
Miss Wilkinson put away her handkerchief. Her tears had made marks on her
powdered face, and her hair was somewhat disarranged. Her white dress did
not suit her very well just then. She looked at Philip with hungry,
"Because you're twenty and so's she," she said hoarsely. "And I'm old."
Philip reddened and looked away. The anguish of her tone made him feel
strangely uneasy. He wished with all his heart that he had never had
anything to do with Miss Wilkinson.
"I don't want to make you unhappy," he said awkwardly. "You'd better go
down and look after your friends. They'll wonder what has become of you."
He was glad to leave her.
The quarrel was quickly followed by a reconciliation, but the few days
that remained were sometimes irksome to Philip. He wanted to talk of
nothing but the future, and the future invariably reduced Miss Wilkinson
to tears. At first her weeping affected him, and feeling himself a beast
he redoubled his protestations of undying passion; but now it irritated
him: it would have been all very well if she had been a girl, but it was
silly of a grown-up woman to cry so much. She never ceased reminding him
that he was under a debt of gratitude to her which he could never repay.
He was willing to acknowledge this since she made a point of it, but he
did not really know why he should be any more grateful to her than she to
him. He was expected to show his sense of obligation in ways which were
rather a nuisance: he had been a good deal used to solitude, and it was a
necessity to him sometimes; but Miss Wilkinson looked upon it as an
unkindness if he was not always at her beck and call. The Miss O'Connors
asked them both to tea, and Philip would have liked to go, but Miss
Wilkinson said she only had five days more and wanted him entirely to
herself. It was flattering, but a bore. Miss Wilkinson told him stories of
the exquisite delicacy of Frenchmen when they stood in the same relation
to fair ladies as he to Miss Wilkinson. She praised their courtesy, their
passion for self-sacrifice, their perfect tact. Miss Wilkinson seemed to
want a great deal.
Philip listened to her enumeration of the qualities which must be
possessed by the perfect lover, and he could not help feeling a certain
satisfaction that she lived in Berlin.
"You will write to me, won't you? Write to me every day. I want to know
everything you're doing. You must keep nothing from me."
"I shall be awfully, busy" he answered. "I'll write as often as I can."
She flung her arms passionately round his neck. He was embarrassed
sometimes by the demonstrations of her affection. He would have preferred
her to be more passive. It shocked him a little that she should give him
so marked a lead: it did not tally altogether with his prepossessions
about the modesty of the feminine temperament.
At length the day came on which Miss Wilkinson was to go, and she came
down to breakfast, pale and subdued, in a serviceable travelling dress of
black and white check. She looked a very competent governess. Philip was
silent too, for he did not quite know what to say that would fit the
circumstance; and he was terribly afraid that, if he said something
flippant, Miss Wilkinson would break down before his uncle and make a
scene. They had said their last good-bye to one another in the garden the
night before, and Philip was relieved that there was now no opportunity
for them to be alone. He remained in the dining-room after breakfast in
case Miss Wilkinson should insist on kissing him on the stairs. He did not
want Mary Ann, now a woman hard upon middle age with a sharp tongue, to
catch them in a compromising position. Mary Ann did not like Miss
Wilkinson and called her an old cat. Aunt Louisa was not very well and
could not come to the station, but the Vicar and Philip saw her off. Just
as the train was leaving she leaned out and kissed Mr. Carey.
"I must kiss you too, Philip," she said.
"All right," he said, blushing.
He stood up on the step and she kissed him quickly. The train started, and
Miss Wilkinson sank into the corner of her carriage and wept
disconsolately. Philip, as he walked back to the vicarage, felt a distinct
sensation of relief.
"Well, did you see her safely off?" asked Aunt Louisa, when they got in.
"Yes, she seemed rather weepy. She insisted on kissing me and Philip."
"Oh, well, at her age it's not dangerous." Mrs. Carey pointed to the
sideboard. "There's a letter for you, Philip. It came by the second post."
It was from Hayward and ran as follows:
My dear boy,
I answer your letter at once. I ventured to read it to a great friend of
mine, a charming woman whose help and sympathy have been very precious to
me, a woman withal with a real feeling for art and literature; and we
agreed that it was charming. You wrote from your heart and you do not know
the delightful naivete which is in every line. And because you love you
write like a poet. Ah, dear boy, that is the real thing: I felt the glow
of your young passion, and your prose was musical from the sincerity of
your emotion. You must be happy! I wish I could have been present unseen
in that enchanted garden while you wandered hand in hand, like Daphnis and
Chloe, amid the flowers. I can see you, my Daphnis, with the light of
young love in your eyes, tender, enraptured, and ardent; while Chloe in
your arms, so young and soft and fresh, vowing she would ne'er
consent--consented. Roses and violets and honeysuckle! Oh, my friend, I
envy you. It is so good to think that your first love should have been
pure poetry. Treasure the moments, for the immortal gods have given you
the Greatest Gift of All, and it will be a sweet, sad memory till your
dying day. You will never again enjoy that careless rapture. First love is
best love; and she is beautiful and you are young, and all the world is
yours. I felt my pulse go faster when with your adorable simplicity you
told me that you buried your face in her long hair. I am sure that it is
that exquisite chestnut which seems just touched with gold. I would have
you sit under a leafy tree side by side, and read together Romeo and
Juliet; and then I would have you fall on your knees and on my behalf kiss
the ground on which her foot has left its imprint; then tell her it is the
homage of a poet to her radiant youth and to your love for her.
G. Etheridge Hayward.
"What damned rot!" said Philip, when he finished the letter.
Miss Wilkinson oddly enough had suggested that they should read Romeo and
Juliet together; but Philip had firmly declined. Then, as he put the
letter in his pocket, he felt a queer little pang of bitterness because
reality seemed so different from the ideal.
A few days later Philip went to London. The curate had recommended rooms
in Barnes, and these Philip engaged by letter at fourteen shillings a
week. He reached them in the evening; and the landlady, a funny little old
woman with a shrivelled body and a deeply wrinkled face, had prepared high
tea for him. Most of the sitting-room was taken up by the sideboard and a
square table; against one wall was a sofa covered with horsehair, and by
the fireplace an arm-chair to match: there was a white antimacassar over
the back of it, and on the seat, because the springs were broken, a hard
After having his tea he unpacked and arranged his books, then he sat down
and tried to read; but he was depressed. The silence in the street made
him slightly uncomfortable, and he felt very much alone.
Next day he got up early. He put on his tail-coat and the tall hat which
he had worn at school; but it was very shabby, and he made up his mind to
stop at the Stores on his way to the office and buy a new one. When he had
done this he found himself in plenty of time and so walked along the
Strand. The office of Messrs. Herbert Carter & Co. was in a little street
off Chancery Lane, and he had to ask his way two or three times. He felt
that people were staring at him a great deal, and once he took off his hat
to see whether by chance the label had been left on. When he arrived he
knocked at the door; but no one answered, and looking at his watch he
found it was barely half past nine; he supposed he was too early. He went
away and ten minutes later returned to find an office-boy, with a long
nose, pimply face, and a Scotch accent, opening the door. Philip asked for
Mr. Herbert Carter. He had not come yet.
"When will he be here?"
"Between ten and half past."
"I'd better wait," said Philip.
"What are you wanting?" asked the office-boy.
Philip was nervous, but tried to hide the fact by a jocose manner.
"Well, I'm going to work here if you have no objection."
"Oh, you're the new articled clerk? You'd better come in. Mr.
Goodworthy'll be here in a while."
Philip walked in, and as he did so saw the office-boy--he was about the
same age as Philip and called himself a junior clerk--look at his foot. He
flushed and, sitting down, hid it behind the other. He looked round the
room. It was dark and very dingy. It was lit by a skylight. There were
three rows of desks in it and against them high stools. Over the
chimney-piece was a dirty engraving of a prize-fight. Presently a clerk
came in and then another; they glanced at Philip and in an undertone asked
the office-boy (Philip found his name was Macdougal) who he was. A whistle
blew, and Macdougal got up.
"Mr. Goodworthy's come. He's the managing clerk. Shall I tell him you're
"Yes, please," said Philip.
The office-boy went out and in a moment returned.
"Will you come this way?"
Philip followed him across the passage and was shown into a room, small
and barely furnished, in which a little, thin man was standing with his
back to the fireplace. He was much below the middle height, but his large
head, which seemed to hang loosely on his body, gave him an odd
ungainliness. His features were wide and flattened, and he had prominent,
pale eyes; his thin hair was sandy; he wore whiskers that grew unevenly on
his face, and in places where you would have expected the hair to grow
thickly there was no hair at all. His skin was pasty and yellow. He held
out his hand to Philip, and when he smiled showed badly decayed teeth. He
spoke with a patronising and at the same time a timid air, as though he
sought to assume an importance which he did not feel. He said he hoped
Philip would like the work; there was a good deal of drudgery about it,
but when you got used to it, it was interesting; and one made money, that
was the chief thing, wasn't it? He laughed with his odd mixture of
superiority and shyness.
"Mr. Carter will be here presently," he said. "He's a little late on
Monday mornings sometimes. I'll call you when he comes. In the meantime I
must give you something to do. Do you know anything about book-keeping or
"I'm afraid not," answered Philip.
"I didn't suppose you would. They don't teach you things at school that
are much use in business, I'm afraid." He considered for a moment. "I
think I can find you something to do."
He went into the next room and after a little while came out with a large
cardboard box. It contained a vast number of letters in great disorder,
and he told Philip to sort them out and arrange them alphabetically
according to the names of the writers.
"I'll take you to the room in which the articled clerk generally sits.
There's a very nice fellow in it. His name is Watson. He's a son of
Watson, Crag, and Thompson--you know--the brewers. He's spending a year
with us to learn business."
Mr. Goodworthy led Philip through the dingy office, where now six or eight
clerks were working, into a narrow room behind. It had been made into a
separate apartment by a glass partition, and here they found Watson
sitting back in a chair, reading The Sportsman. He was a large, stout
young man, elegantly dressed, and he looked up as Mr. Goodworthy entered.
He asserted his position by calling the managing clerk Goodworthy. The
managing clerk objected to the familiarity, and pointedly called him Mr.
Watson, but Watson, instead of seeing that it was a rebuke, accepted the
title as a tribute to his gentlemanliness.
"I see they've scratched Rigoletto," he said to Philip, as soon as they
were left alone.
"Have they?" said Philip, who knew nothing about horse-racing.
He looked with awe upon Watson's beautiful clothes. His tail-coat fitted
him perfectly, and there was a valuable pin artfully stuck in the middle
of an enormous tie. On the chimney-piece rested his tall hat; it was saucy
and bell-shaped and shiny. Philip felt himself very shabby. Watson began
to talk of hunting--it was such an infernal bore having to waste one's
time in an infernal office, he would only be able to hunt on
Saturdays--and shooting: he had ripping invitations all over the country
and of course he had to refuse them. It was infernal luck, but he wasn't
going to put up with it long; he was only in this internal hole for a
year, and then he was going into the business, and he would hunt four days
a week and get all the shooting there was.
"You've got five years of it, haven't you?" he said, waving his arm round
the tiny room.
"I suppose so," said Philip.
"I daresay I shall see something of you. Carter does our accounts, you
Philip was somewhat overpowered by the young gentleman's condescension. At
Blackstable they had always looked upon brewing with civil contempt, the
Vicar made little jokes about the beerage, and it was a surprising
experience for Philip to discover that Watson was such an important and
magnificent fellow. He had been to Winchester and to Oxford, and his
conversation impressed the fact upon one with frequency. When he
discovered the details of Philip's education his manner became more
"Of course, if one doesn't go to a public school those sort of schools are
the next best thing, aren't they?"
Philip asked about the other men in the office.
"Oh, I don't bother about them much, you know," said Watson. "Carter's not
a bad sort. We have him to dine now and then. All the rest are awful
Presently Watson applied himself to some work he had in hand, and Philip
set about sorting his letters. Then Mr. Goodworthy came in to say that Mr.
Carter had arrived. He took Philip into a large room next door to his own.
There was a big desk in it, and a couple of big arm-chairs; a Turkey
carpet adorned the floor, and the walls were decorated with sporting
prints. Mr. Carter was sitting at the desk and got up to shake hands with
Philip. He was dressed in a long frock coat. He looked like a military
man; his moustache was waxed, his gray hair was short and neat, he held
himself upright, he talked in a breezy way, he lived at Enfield. He was
very keen on games and the good of the country. He was an officer in the
Hertfordshire Yeomanry and chairman of the Conservative Association. When
he was told that a local magnate had said no one would take him for a City
man, he felt that he had not lived in vain. He talked to Philip in a
pleasant, off-hand fashion. Mr. Goodworthy would look after him. Watson
was a nice fellow, perfect gentleman, good sportsman--did Philip hunt?
Pity, THE sport for gentlemen. Didn't have much chance of hunting now,
had to leave that to his son. His son was at Cambridge, he'd sent him to
Rugby, fine school Rugby, nice class of boys there, in a couple of years
his son would be articled, that would be nice for Philip, he'd like his
son, thorough sportsman. He hoped Philip would get on well and like the
work, he mustn't miss his lectures, they were getting up the tone of the
profession, they wanted gentlemen in it. Well, well, Mr. Goodworthy was
there. If he wanted to know anything Mr. Goodworthy would tell him. What
was his handwriting like? Ah well, Mr. Goodworthy would see about that.
Philip was overwhelmed by so much gentlemanliness: in East Anglia they
knew who were gentlemen and who weren't, but the gentlemen didn't talk
At first the novelty of the work kept Philip interested. Mr. Carter
dictated letters to him, and he had to make fair copies of statements of
Mr. Carter preferred to conduct the office on gentlemanly lines; he would
have nothing to do with typewriting and looked upon shorthand with
disfavour: the office-boy knew shorthand, but it was only Mr. Goodworthy
who made use of his accomplishment. Now and then Philip with one of the
more experienced clerks went out to audit the accounts of some firm: he
came to know which of the clients must be treated with respect and which
were in low water. Now and then long lists of figures were given him to
add up. He attended lectures for his first examination. Mr. Goodworthy
repeated to him that the work was dull at first, but he would grow used to
it. Philip left the office at six and walked across the river to Waterloo.
His supper was waiting for him when he reached his lodgings and he spent
the evening reading. On Saturday afternoons he went to the National
Gallery. Hayward had recommended to him a guide which had been compiled
out of Ruskin's works, and with this in hand he went industriously through
room after room: he read carefully what the critic had said about a
picture and then in a determined fashion set himself to see the same
things in it. His Sundays were difficult to get through. He knew no one in
London and spent them by himself. Mr. Nixon, the solicitor, asked him to
spend a Sunday at Hampstead, and Philip passed a happy day with a set of
exuberant strangers; he ate and drank a great deal, took a walk on the
heath, and came away with a general invitation to come again whenever he
liked; but he was morbidly afraid of being in the way, so waited for a
formal invitation. Naturally enough it never came, for with numbers of
friends of their own the Nixons did not think of the lonely, silent boy
whose claim upon their hospitality was so small. So on Sundays he got up
late and took a walk along the tow-path. At Barnes the river is muddy,
dingy, and tidal; it has neither the graceful charm of the Thames above
the locks nor the romance of the crowded stream below London Bridge. In
the afternoon he walked about the common; and that is gray and dingy too;
it is neither country nor town; the gorse is stunted; and all about is the
litter of civilisation. He went to a play every Saturday night and stood
cheerfully for an hour or more at the gallery-door. It was not worth while
to go back to Barnes for the interval between the closing of the Museum
and his meal in an A. B. C. shop, and the time hung heavily on his hands.
He strolled up Bond Street or through the Burlington Arcade, and when he
was tired went and sat down in the Park or in wet weather in the public
library in St. Martin's Lane. He looked at the people walking about and
envied them because they had friends; sometimes his envy turned to hatred
because they were happy and he was miserable. He had never imagined that
it was possible to be so lonely in a great city. Sometimes when he was
standing at the gallery-door the man next to him would attempt a
conversation; but Philip had the country boy's suspicion of strangers and
answered in such a way as to prevent any further acquaintance. After the
play was over, obliged to keep to himself all he thought about it, he
hurried across the bridge to Waterloo. When he got back to his rooms, in
which for economy no fire had been lit, his heart sank. It was horribly
cheerless. He began to loathe his lodgings and the long solitary evenings
he spent in them. Sometimes he felt so lonely that he could not read, and
then he sat looking into the fire hour after hour in bitter wretchedness.
He had spent three months in London now, and except for that one Sunday at
Hampstead had never talked to anyone but his fellow-clerks. One evening
Watson asked him to dinner at a restaurant and they went to a music-hall
together; but he felt shy and uncomfortable. Watson talked all the time of
things he did not care about, and while he looked upon Watson as a
Philistine he could not help admiring him. He was angry because Watson
obviously set no store on his culture, and with his way of taking himself
at the estimate at which he saw others held him he began to despise the
acquirements which till then had seemed to him not unimportant. He felt
for the first time the humiliation of poverty. His uncle sent him fourteen
pounds a month and he had had to buy a good many clothes. His evening suit
cost him five guineas. He had not dared tell Watson that it was bought in
the Strand. Watson said there was only one tailor in London.
"I suppose you don't dance," said Watson, one day, with a glance at
"No," said Philip.
"Pity. I've been asked to bring some dancing men to a ball. I could have
introduced you to some jolly girls."
Once or twice, hating the thought of going back to Barnes, Philip had
remained in town, and late in the evening wandered through the West End
till he found some house at which there was a party. He stood among the
little group of shabby people, behind the footmen, watching the guests
arrive, and he listened to the music that floated through the window.
Sometimes, notwithstanding the cold, a couple came on to the balcony and
stood for a moment to get some fresh air; and Philip, imagining that they
were in love with one another, turned away and limped along the street
with a heavy hurt. He would never be able to stand in that man's place. He
felt that no woman could ever really look upon him without distaste for
That reminded him of Miss Wilkinson. He thought of her without
satisfaction. Before parting they had made an arrangement that she should
write to Charing Cross Post Office till he was able to send her an
address, and when he went there he found three letters from her. She wrote
on blue paper with violet ink, and she wrote in French. Philip wondered
why she could not write in English like a sensible woman, and her
passionate expressions, because they reminded him of a French novel, left
him cold. She upbraided him for not having written, and when he answered
he excused himself by saying that he had been busy. He did not quite know
how to start the letter. He could not bring himself to use dearest or
darling, and he hated to address her as Emily, so finally he began with
the word dear. It looked odd, standing by itself, and rather silly, but he
made it do. It was the first love letter he had ever written, and he was
conscious of its tameness; he felt that he should say all sorts of
vehement things, how he thought of her every minute of the day and how he
longed to kiss her beautiful hands and how he trembled at the thought of
her red lips, but some inexplicable modesty prevented him; and instead he
told her of his new rooms and his office. The answer came by return of
post, angry, heart-broken, reproachful: how could he be so cold? Did he
not know that she hung on his letters? She had given him all that a woman
could give, and this was her reward. Was he tired of her already? Then,
because he did not reply for several days, Miss Wilkinson bombarded him
with letters. She could not bear his unkindness, she waited for the post,
and it never brought her his letter, she cried herself to sleep night
after night, she was looking so ill that everyone remarked on it: if he
did not love her why did he not say so? She added that she could not live
without him, and the only thing was for her to commit suicide. She told
him he was cold and selfish and ungrateful. It was all in French, and
Philip knew that she wrote in that language to show off, but he was
worried all the same. He did not want to make her unhappy. In a little
while she wrote that she could not bear the separation any longer, she
would arrange to come over to London for Christmas. Philip wrote back that
he would like nothing better, only he had already an engagement to spend
Christmas with friends in the country, and he did not see how he could
break it. She answered that she did not wish to force herself on him, it
was quite evident that he did not wish to see her; she was deeply hurt,
and she never thought he would repay with such cruelty all her kindness.
Her letter was touching, and Philip thought he saw marks of her tears on
the paper; he wrote an impulsive reply saying that he was dreadfully sorry
and imploring her to come; but it was with relief that he received her
answer in which she said that she found it would be impossible for her to
get away. Presently when her letters came his heart sank: he delayed
opening them, for he knew what they would contain, angry reproaches and
pathetic appeals; they would make him feel a perfect beast, and yet he did
not see with what he had to blame himself. He put off his answer from day
to day, and then another letter would come, saying she was ill and lonely
"I wish to God I'd never had anything to do with her," he said.
He admired Watson because he arranged these things so easily. The young
man had been engaged in an intrigue with a girl who played in touring
companies, and his account of the affair filled Philip with envious
amazement. But after a time Watson's young affections changed, and one day
he described the rupture to Philip.
"I thought it was no good making any bones about it so I just told her I'd
had enough of her," he said.
"Didn't she make an awful scene?" asked Philip.
"The usual thing, you know, but I told her it was no good trying on that
sort of thing with me."
"Did she cry?"
"She began to, but I can't stand women when they cry, so I said she'd
better hook it."
Philip's sense of humour was growing keener with advancing years.
"And did she hook it?" he asked smiling.
"Well, there wasn't anything else for her to do, was there?"
Meanwhile the Christmas holidays approached. Mrs. Carey had been ill all
through November, and the doctor suggested that she and the Vicar should
go to Cornwall for a couple of weeks round Christmas so that she should
get back her strength. The result was that Philip had nowhere to go, and
he spent Christmas Day in his lodgings. Under Hayward's influence he had
persuaded himself that the festivities that attend this season were vulgar
and barbaric, and he made up his mind that he would take no notice of the
day; but when it came, the jollity of all around affected him strangely.
His landlady and her husband were spending the day with a married
daughter, and to save trouble Philip announced that he would take his
meals out. He went up to London towards mid-day and ate a slice of turkey
and some Christmas pudding by himself at Gatti's, and since he had nothing
to do afterwards went to Westminster Abbey for the afternoon service. The
streets were almost empty, and the people who went along had a preoccupied
look; they did not saunter but walked with some definite goal in view, and
hardly anyone was alone. To Philip they all seemed happy. He felt himself
more solitary than he had ever done in his life. His intention had been to
kill the day somehow in the streets and then dine at a restaurant, but he
could not face again the sight of cheerful people, talking, laughing, and
making merry; so he went back to Waterloo, and on his way through the
Westminster Bridge Road bought some ham and a couple of mince pies and
went back to Barnes. He ate his food in his lonely little room and spent
the evening with a book. His depression was almost intolerable.
When he was back at the office it made him very sore to listen to Watson's
account of the short holiday. They had had some jolly girls staying with
them, and after dinner they had cleared out the drawing-room and had a
"I didn't get to bed till three and I don't know how I got there then. By
George, I was squiffy."
At last Philip asked desperately:
"How does one get to know people in London?"
Watson looked at him with surprise and with a slightly contemptuous
"Oh, I don't know, one just knows them. If you go to dances you soon get
to know as many people as you can do with."
Philip hated Watson, and yet he would have given anything to change places
with him. The old feeling that he had had at school came back to him, and
he tried to throw himself into the other's skin, imagining what life would
be if he were Watson.
At the end of the year there was a great deal to do. Philip went to
various places with a clerk named Thompson and spent the day monotonously
calling out items of expenditure, which the other checked; and sometimes
he was given long pages of figures to add up. He had never had a head for
figures, and he could only do this slowly. Thompson grew irritated at his
mistakes. His fellow-clerk was a long, lean man of forty, sallow, with
black hair and a ragged moustache; he had hollow cheeks and deep lines on
each side of his nose. He took a dislike to Philip because he was an
articled clerk. Because he could put down three hundred guineas and keep
himself for five years Philip had the chance of a career; while he, with
his experience and ability, had no possibility of ever being more than a
clerk at thirty-five shillings a week. He was a cross-grained man,
oppressed by a large family, and he resented the superciliousness which he
fancied he saw in Philip. He sneered at Philip because he was better
educated than himself, and he mocked at Philip's pronunciation; he could
not forgive him because he spoke without a cockney accent, and when he
talked to him sarcastically exaggerated his aitches. At first his manner
was merely gruff and repellent, but as he discovered that Philip had no
gift for accountancy he took pleasure in humiliating him; his attacks were
gross and silly, but they wounded Philip, and in self-defence he assumed
an attitude of superiority which he did not feel.
"Had a bath this morning?" Thompson said when Philip came to the office
late, for his early punctuality had not lasted.
"Yes, haven't you?"
"No, I'm not a gentleman, I'm only a clerk. I have a bath on Saturday
"I suppose that's why you're more than usually disagreeable on Monday."
"Will you condescend to do a few sums in simple addition today? I'm afraid
it's asking a great deal from a gentleman who knows Latin and Greek."
"Your attempts at sarcasm are not very happy."
But Philip could not conceal from himself that the other clerks, ill-paid
and uncouth, were more useful than himself. Once or twice Mr. Goodworthy
grew impatient with him.
"You really ought to be able to do better than this by now," he said.
"You're not even as smart as the office-boy."
Philip listened sulkily. He did not like being blamed, and it humiliated
him, when, having been given accounts to make fair copies of, Mr.
Goodworthy was not satisfied and gave them to another clerk to do. At
first the work had been tolerable from its novelty, but now it grew
irksome; and when he discovered that he had no aptitude for it, he began
to hate it. Often, when he should have been doing something that was given
him, he wasted his time drawing little pictures on the office note-paper.
He made sketches of Watson in every conceivable attitude, and Watson was
impressed by his talent. It occurred to him to take the drawings home, and
he came back next day with the praises of his family.
"I wonder you didn't become a painter," he said. "Only of course there's
no money in it."
It chanced that Mr. Carter two or three days later was dining with the
Watsons, and the sketches were shown him. The following morning he sent
for Philip. Philip saw him seldom and stood in some awe of him.
"Look here, young fellow, I don't care what you do out of office-hours,
but I've seen those sketches of yours and they're on office-paper, and Mr.
Goodworthy tells me you're slack. You won't do any good as a chartered
accountant unless you look alive. It's a fine profession, and we're
getting a very good class of men in it, but it's a profession in which you
have to..." he looked for the termination of his phrase, but could not
find exactly what he wanted, so finished rather tamely, "in which you have
to look alive."
Perhaps Philip would have settled down but for the agreement that if he
did not like the work he could leave after a year, and get back half the
money paid for his articles. He felt that he was fit for something better
than to add up accounts, and it was humiliating that he did so ill
something which seemed contemptible. The vulgar scenes with Thompson got
on his nerves. In March Watson ended his year at the office and Philip,
though he did not care for him, saw him go with regret. The fact that the
other clerks disliked them equally, because they belonged to a class a
little higher than their own, was a bond of union. When Philip thought
that he must spend over four years more with that dreary set of fellows
his heart sank. He had expected wonderful things from London and it had
given him nothing. He hated it now. He did not know a soul, and he had no
idea how he was to get to know anyone. He was tired of going everywhere by
himself. He began to feel that he could not stand much more of such a
life. He would lie in bed at night and think of the joy of never seeing
again that dingy office or any of the men in it, and of getting away from
those drab lodgings.
A great disappointment befell him in the spring. Hayward had announced his
intention of coming to London for the season, and Philip had looked
forward very much to seeing him again. He had read so much lately and
thought so much that his mind was full of ideas which he wanted to
discuss, and he knew nobody who was willing to interest himself in
abstract things. He was quite excited at the thought of talking his fill
with someone, and he was wretched when Hayward wrote to say that the
spring was lovelier than ever he had known it in Italy, and he could not
bear to tear himself away. He went on to ask why Philip did not come. What
was the use of squandering the days of his youth in an office when the
world was beautiful? The letter proceeded.
I wonder you can bear it. I think of Fleet Street and Lincoln's Inn now
with a shudder of disgust. There are only two things in the world that
make life worth living, love and art. I cannot imagine you sitting in an
office over a ledger, and do you wear a tall hat and an umbrella and a
little black bag? My feeling is that one should look upon life as an
adventure, one should burn with the hard, gem-like flame, and one should
take risks, one should expose oneself to danger. Why do you not go to
Paris and study art? I always thought you had talent.
The suggestion fell in with the possibility that Philip for some time had
been vaguely turning over in his mind. It startled him at first, but he
could not help thinking of it, and in the constant rumination over it he
found his only escape from the wretchedness of his present state. They all
thought he had talent; at Heidelberg they had admired his water colours,
Miss Wilkinson had told him over and over again that they were chasing;
even strangers like the Watsons had been struck by his sketches. La Vie
de Boheme had made a deep impression on him. He had brought it to London
and when he was most depressed he had only to read a few pages to be
transported into those chasing attics where Rodolphe and the rest of them
danced and loved and sang. He began to think of Paris as before he had
thought of London, but he had no fear of a second disillusion; he yearned
for romance and beauty and love, and Paris seemed to offer them all. He
had a passion for pictures, and why should he not be able to paint as well
as anybody else? He wrote to Miss Wilkinson and asked her how much she
thought he could live on in Paris. She told him that he could manage
easily on eighty pounds a year, and she enthusiastically approved of his
project. She told him he was too good to be wasted in an office. Who would
be a clerk when he might be a great artist, she asked dramatically, and
she besought Philip to believe in himself: that was the great thing. But
Philip had a cautious nature. It was all very well for Hayward to talk of
taking risks, he had three hundred a year in gilt-edged securities;
Philip's entire fortune amounted to no more than eighteen-hundred pounds.
Then it chanced that one day Mr. Goodworthy asked him suddenly if he would
like to go to Paris. The firm did the accounts for a hotel in the Faubourg
St. Honore, which was owned by an English company, and twice a year Mr.
Goodworthy and a clerk went over. The clerk who generally went happened to
be ill, and a press of work prevented any of the others from getting away.
Mr. Goodworthy thought of Philip because he could best be spared, and his
articles gave him some claim upon a job which was one of the pleasures of
the business. Philip was delighted.
"You'll 'ave to work all day," said Mr. Goodworthy, "but we get our
evenings to ourselves, and Paris is Paris." He smiled in a knowing way.
"They do us very well at the hotel, and they give us all our meals, so it
don't cost one anything. That's the way I like going to Paris, at other
When they arrived at Calais and Philip saw the crowd of gesticulating
porters his heart leaped.
"This is the real thing," he said to himself.
He was all eyes as the train sped through the country; he adored the sand
dunes, their colour seemed to him more lovely than anything he had ever
seen; and he was enchanted with the canals and the long lines of poplars.
When they got out of the Gare du Nord, and trundled along the cobbled
streets in a ramshackle, noisy cab, it seemed to him that he was breathing
a new air so intoxicating that he could hardly restrain himself from
shouting aloud. They were met at the door of the hotel by the manager, a
stout, pleasant man, who spoke tolerable English; Mr. Goodworthy was an
old friend and he greeted them effusively; they dined in his private room
with his wife, and to Philip it seemed that he had never eaten anything so
delicious as the beefsteak aux pommes, nor drunk such nectar as the vin
ordinaire, which were set before them.
To Mr. Goodworthy, a respectable householder with excellent principles,
the capital of France was a paradise of the joyously obscene. He asked the
manager next morning what there was to be seen that was `thick.' He
thoroughly enjoyed these visits of his to Paris; he said they kept you
from growing rusty. In the evenings, after their work was over and they
had dined, he took Philip to the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergeres. His
little eyes twinkled and his face wore a sly, sensual smile as he sought
out the pornographic. He went into all the haunts which were specially
arranged for the foreigner, and afterwards said that a nation could come
to no good which permitted that sort of thing. He nudged Philip when at
some revue a woman appeared with practically nothing on, and pointed out
to him the most strapping of the courtesans who walked about the hall. It
was a vulgar Paris that he showed Philip, but Philip saw it with eyes
blinded with illusion. In the early morning he would rush out of the hotel
and go to the Champs Elysees, and stand at the Place de la Concorde. It
was June, and Paris was silvery with the delicacy of the air. Philip felt
his heart go out to the people. Here he thought at last was romance.
They spent the inside of a week there, leaving on Sunday, and when Philip
late at night reached his dingy rooms in Barnes his mind was made up; he
would surrender his articles, and go to Paris to study art; but so that no
one should think him unreasonable he determined to stay at the office till
his year was up. He was to have his holiday during the last fortnight in
August, and when he went away he would tell Herbert Carter that he had no
intention of returning. But though Philip could force himself to go to the
office every day he could not even pretend to show any interest in the
work. His mind was occupied with the future. After the middle of July
there was nothing much to do and he escaped a good deal by pretending he
had to go to lectures for his first examination. The time he got in this
way he spent in the National Gallery. He read books about Paris and books
about painting. He was steeped in Ruskin. He read many of Vasari's lives
of the painters. He liked that story of Correggio, and he fancied himself
standing before some great masterpiece and crying: Anch' io son'
pittore. His hesitation had left him now, and he was convinced that he
had in him the makings of a great painter.
"After all, I can only try," he said to himself. "The great thing in life
is to take risks."
At last came the middle of August. Mr. Carter was spending the month in
Scotland, and the managing clerk was in charge of the office. Mr.
Goodworthy had seemed pleasantly disposed to Philip since their trip to
Paris, and now that Philip knew he was so soon to be free, he could look
upon the funny little man with tolerance.
"You're going for your holiday tomorrow, Carey?" he said to him in the
All day Philip had been telling himself that this was the last time he
would ever sit in that hateful office.
"Yes, this is the end of my year."
"I'm afraid you've not done very well. Mr. Carter's very dissatisfied with
"Not nearly so dissatisfied as I am with Mr. Carter," returned Philip
"I don't think you should speak like that, Carey."
"I'm not coming back. I made the arrangement that if I didn't like
accountancy Mr. Carter would return me half the money I paid for my
articles and I could chuck it at the end of a year."
"You shouldn't come to such a decision hastily."
"For ten months I've loathed it all, I've loathed the work, I've loathed
the office, I loathe Loudon. I'd rather sweep a crossing than spend my
"Well, I must say, I don't think you're very fitted for accountancy."
"Good-bye," said Philip, holding out his hand. "I want to thank you for
your kindness to me. I'm sorry if I've been troublesome. I knew almost
from the beginning I was no good."
"Well, if you really do make up your mind it is good-bye. I don't know
what you're going to do, but if you're in the neighbourhood at any time
come in and see us."
Philip gave a little laugh.
"I'm afraid it sounds very rude, but I hope from the bottom of my heart
that I shall never set eyes on any of you again."
The Vicar of Blackstable would have nothing to do with the scheme which
Philip laid before him. He had a great idea that one should stick to
whatever one had begun. Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on
not changing one's mind.
"You chose to be an accountant of your own free will," he said.
"I just took that because it was the only chance I saw of getting up to
town. I hate London, I hate the work, and nothing will induce me to go
back to it."
Mr. and Mrs. Carey were frankly shocked at Philip's idea of being an
artist. He should not forget, they said, that his father and mother were
gentlefolk, and painting wasn't a serious profession; it was Bohemian,
disreputable, immoral. And then Paris!
"So long as I have anything to say in the matter, I shall not allow you to
live in Paris," said the Vicar firmly.
It was a sink of iniquity. The scarlet woman and she of Babylon flaunted
their vileness there; the cities of the plain were not more wicked.
"You've been brought up like a gentleman and Christian, and I should be
false to the trust laid upon me by your dead father and mother if I
allowed you to expose yourself to such temptation."
"Well, I know I'm not a Christian and I'm beginning to doubt whether I'm
a gentleman," said Philip.
The dispute grew more violent. There was another year before Philip took
possession of his small inheritance, and during that time Mr. Carey
proposed only to give him an allowance if he remained at the office. It
was clear to Philip that if he meant not to continue with accountancy he
must leave it while he could still get back half the money that had been
paid for his articles. The Vicar would not listen. Philip, losing all
reserve, said things to wound and irritate.
"You've got no right to waste my money," he said at last. "After all it's
my money, isn't it? I'm not a child. You can't prevent me from going to
Paris if I make up my mind to. You can't force me to go back to London."
"All I can do is to refuse you money unless you do what I think fit."
"Well, I don't care, I've made up my mind to go to Paris. I shall sell my
clothes, and my books, and my father's jewellery."
Aunt Louisa sat by in silence, anxious and unhappy. she saw that Philip
was beside himself, and anything she said then would but increase his
anger. Finally the Vicar announced that he wished to hear nothing more
about it and with dignity left the room. For the next three days neither
Philip nor he spoke to one another. Philip wrote to Hayward for
information about Paris, and made up his mind to set out as soon as he got
a reply. Mrs. Carey turned the matter over in her mind incessantly; she
felt that Philip included her in the hatred he bore her husband, and the
thought tortured her. She loved him with all her heart. At length she
spoke to him; she listened attentively while he poured out all his
disillusionment of London and his eager ambition for the future.
"I may be no good, but at least let me have a try. I can't be a worse
failure than I was in that beastly office. And I feel that I can paint. I
know I've got it in me."
She was not so sure as her husband that they did right in thwarting so
strong an inclination. She had read of great painters whose parents had
opposed their wish to study, the event had shown with what folly; and
after all it was just as possible for a painter to lead a virtuous life to
the glory of God as for a chartered accountant.
"I'm so afraid of your going to Paris," she said piteously. "It wouldn't
be so bad if you studied in London."
"If I'm going in for painting I must do it thoroughly, and it's only in
Paris that you can get the real thing."
At his suggestion Mrs. Carey wrote to the solicitor, saying that Philip
was discontented with his work in London, and asking what he thought of a
change. Mr. Nixon answered as follows:
Dear Mrs. Carey,
I have seen Mr. Herbert Carter, and I am afraid I must tell you that
Philip has not done so well as one could have wished. If he is very
strongly set against the work, perhaps it is better that he should take
the opportunity there is now to break his articles. I am naturally very
disappointed, but as you know you can take a horse to the water, but you
can't make him drink.
Yours very sincerely,
The letter was shown to the Vicar, but served only to increase his
obstinacy. He was willing enough that Philip should take up some other
profession, he suggested his father's calling, medicine, but nothing would
induce him to pay an allowance if Philip went to Paris.
"It's a mere excuse for self-indulgence and sensuality," he said.
"I'm interested to hear you blame self-indulgence in others," retorted
But by this time an answer had come from Hayward, giving the name of a
hotel where Philip could get a room for thirty francs a month and
enclosing a note of introduction to the massiere of a school. Philip read
the letter to Mrs. Carey and told her he proposed to start on the first of
"But you haven't got any money?" she said.
"I'm going into Tercanbury this afternoon to sell the jewellery."
He had inherited from his father a gold watch and chain, two or three
rings, some links, and two pins. One of them was a pearl and might fetch
a considerable sum.
"It's a very different thing, what a thing's worth and what it'll fetch,"
said Aunt Louisa.
Philip smiled, for this was one of his uncle's stock phrases.
"I know, but at the worst I think I can get a hundred pounds on the lot,
and that'll keep me till I'm twenty-one."
Mrs. Carey did not answer, but she went upstairs, put on her little black
bonnet, and went to the bank. In an hour she came back. She went to
Philip, who was reading in the drawing-room, and handed him an envelope.
"What's this?" he asked.
"It's a little present for you," she answered, smiling shyly.
He opened it and found eleven five-pound notes and a little paper sack
bulging with sovereigns.
"I couldn't bear to let you sell your father's jewellery. It's the money
I had in the bank. It comes to very nearly a hundred pounds."
Philip blushed, and, he knew not why, tears suddenly filled his eyes.
"Oh, my dear, I can't take it," he said. "It's most awfully good of you,
but I couldn't bear to take it."
When Mrs. Carey was married she had three hundred pounds, and this money,
carefully watched, had been used by her to meet any unforeseen expense,
any urgent charity, or to buy Christmas and birthday presents for her
husband and for Philip. In the course of years it had diminished sadly,
but it was still with the Vicar a subject for jesting. He talked of his
wife as a rich woman and he constantly spoke of the `nest egg.'
"Oh, please take it, Philip. I'm so sorry I've been extravagant, and
there's only that left. But it'll make me so happy if you'll accept it."
"But you'll want it," said Philip.
"No, I don't think I shall. I was keeping it in case your uncle died
before me. I thought it would be useful to have a little something I could
get at immediately if I wanted it, but I don't think I shall live very
much longer now."
"Oh, my dear, don't say that. Why, of course you're going to live for
ever. I can't possibly spare you."
"Oh, I'm not sorry." Her voice broke and she hid her eyes, but in a
moment, drying them, she smiled bravely. "At first, I used to pray to God
that He might not take me first, because I didn't want your uncle to be
left alone, I didn't want him to have all the suffering, but now I know
that it wouldn't mean so much to your uncle as it would mean to me. He
wants to live more than I do, I've never been the wife he wanted, and I
daresay he'd marry again if anything happened to me. So I should like to
go first. You don't think it's selfish of me, Philip, do you? But I
couldn't bear it if he went."
Philip kissed her wrinkled, thin cheek. He did not know why the sight he
had of that overwhelming love made him feel strangely ashamed. It was
incomprehensible that she should care so much for a man who was so
indifferent, so selfish, so grossly self-indulgent; and he divined dimly
that in her heart she knew his indifference and his selfishness, knew them
and loved him humbly all the same.
"You will take the money, Philip?" she said, gently stroking his hand. "I
know you can do without it, but it'll give me so much happiness. I've
always wanted to do something for you. You see, I never had a child of my
own, and I've loved you as if you were my son. When you were a little boy,
though I knew it was wicked, I used to wish almost that you might be ill,
so that I could nurse you day and night. But you were only ill once and
then it was at school. I should so like to help you. It's the only chance
I shall ever have. And perhaps some day when you're a great artist you
won't forget me, but you'll remember that I gave you your start."
"It's very good of you," said Philip. "I'm very grateful." A smile came
into her tired eyes, a smile of pure happiness.
"Oh, I'm so glad."
A few days later Mrs. Carey went to the station to see Philip off. She
stood at the door of the carriage, trying to keep back her tears. Philip
was restless and eager. He wanted to be gone.
"Kiss me once more," she said.
He leaned out of the window and kissed her. The train started, and she
stood on the wooden platform of the little station, waving her
handkerchief till it was out of sight. Her heart was dreadfully heavy, and
the few hundred yards to the vicarage seemed very, very long. It was
natural enough that he should be eager to go, she thought, he was a boy
and the future beckoned to him; but she--she clenched her teeth so that
she should not cry. She uttered a little inward prayer that God would
guard him, and keep him out of temptation, and give him happiness and good
But Philip ceased to think of her a moment after he had settled down in
his carriage. He thought only of the future. He had written to Mrs. Otter,
the massiere to whom Hayward had given him an introduction, and had in
his pocket an invitation to tea on the following day. When he arrived in
Paris he had his luggage put on a cab and trundled off slowly through the
gay streets, over the bridge, and along the narrow ways of the Latin
Quarter. He had taken a room at the Hotel des Deux Ecoles, which was in a
shabby street off the Boulevard du Montparnasse; it was convenient for
Amitrano's School at which he was going to work. A waiter took his box up
five flights of stairs, and Philip was shown into a tiny room, fusty from
unopened windows, the greater part of which was taken up by a large wooden
bed with a canopy over it of red rep; there were heavy curtains on the
windows of the same dingy material; the chest of drawers served also as a
washing-stand; and there was a massive wardrobe of the style which is
connected with the good King Louis Philippe. The wall-paper was
discoloured with age; it was dark gray, and there could be vaguely seen on
it garlands of brown leaves. To Philip the room seemed quaint and
Though it was late he felt too excited to sleep and, going out, made his
way into the boulevard and walked towards the light. This led him to the
station; and the square in front of it, vivid with arc-lamps, noisy with
the yellow trams that seemed to cross it in all directions, made him laugh
aloud with joy. There were cafes all round, and by chance, thirsty and
eager to get a nearer sight of the crowd, Philip installed himself at a
little table outside the Cafe de Versailles. Every other table was taken,
for it was a fine night; and Philip looked curiously at the people, here
little family groups, there a knot of men with odd-shaped hats and beards
talking loudly and gesticulating; next to him were two men who looked like
painters with women who Philip hoped were not their lawful wives; behind
him he heard Americans loudly arguing on art. His soul was thrilled. He
sat till very late, tired out but too happy to move, and when at last he
went to bed he was wide awake; he listened to the manifold noise of Paris.
Next day about tea-time he made his way to the Lion de Belfort, and in a
new street that led out of the Boulevard Raspail found Mrs. Otter. She was
an insignificant woman of thirty, with a provincial air and a deliberately
lady-like manner; she introduced him to her mother. He discovered
presently that she had been studying in Paris for three years and later
that she was separated from her husband. She had in her small drawing-room
one or two portraits which she had painted, and to Philip's inexperience
they seemed extremely accomplished.
"I wonder if I shall ever be able to paint as well as that," he said to
"Oh, I expect so," she replied, not without self-satisfaction. "You can't
expect to do everything all at once, of course."
She was very kind. She gave him the address of a shop where he could get
a portfolio, drawing-paper, and charcoal.
"I shall be going to Amitrano's about nine tomorrow, and if you'll be
there then I'll see that you get a good place and all that sort of thing."
She asked him what he wanted to do, and Philip felt that he should not let
her see how vague he was about the whole matter.
"Well, first I want to learn to draw," he said.
"I'm so glad to hear you say that. People always want to do things in such
a hurry. I never touched oils till I'd been here for two years, and look
at the result."
She gave a glance at the portrait of her mother, a sticky piece of
painting that hung over the piano.
"And if I were you, I would be very careful about the people you get to
know. I wouldn't mix myself up with any foreigners. I'm very careful
Philip thanked her for the suggestion, but it seemed to him odd. He did
not know that he particularly wanted to be careful.
"We live just as we would if we were in England," said Mrs. Otter's
mother, who till then had spoken little. "When we came here we brought all
our own furniture over."
Philip looked round the room. It was filled with a massive suite, and at
the window were the same sort of white lace curtains which Aunt Louisa put
up at the vicarage in summer. The piano was draped in Liberty silk and so
was the chimney-piece. Mrs. Otter followed his wandering eye.
"In the evening when we close the shutters one might really feel one was
"And we have our meals just as if we were at home," added her mother. "A
meat breakfast in the morning and dinner in the middle of the day."
When he left Mrs. Otter Philip went to buy drawing materials; and next
morning at the stroke of nine, trying to seem self-assured, he presented
himself at the school. Mrs. Otter was already there, and she came forward
with a friendly smile. He had been anxious about the reception he would
have as a nouveau, for he had read a good deal of the rough joking to
which a newcomer was exposed at some of the studios; but Mrs. Otter had
"Oh, there's nothing like that here," she said. "You see, about half our
students are ladies, and they set a tone to the place."
The studio was large and bare, with gray walls, on which were pinned the
studies that had received prizes. A model was sitting in a chair with a
loose wrap thrown over her, and about a dozen men and women were standing
about, some talking and others still working on their sketch. It was the
first rest of the model.
"You'd better not try anything too difficult at first," said Mrs. Otter.
"Put your easel here. You'll find that's the easiest pose."
Philip placed an easel where she indicated, and Mrs. Otter introduced him
to a young woman who sat next to him.
"Mr. Carey--Miss Price. Mr. Carey's never studied before, you won't mind
helping him a little just at first will you?" Then she turned to the
model. "La Pose."
The model threw aside the paper she had been reading, La Petite
Republique, and sulkily, throwing off her gown, got on to the stand. She
stood, squarely on both feet with her hands clasped behind her head.
"It's a stupid pose," said Miss Price. "I can't imagine why they chose
When Philip entered, the people in the studio had looked at him curiously,
and the model gave him an indifferent glance, but now they ceased to pay
attention to him. Philip, with his beautiful sheet of paper in front of
him, stared awkwardly at the model. He did not know how to begin. He had
never seen a naked woman before. She was not young and her breasts were
shrivelled. She had colourless, fair hair that fell over her forehead
untidily, and her face was covered with large freckles. He glanced at Miss
Price's work. She had only been working on it two days, and it looked as
though she had had trouble; her paper was in a mess from constant rubbing
out, and to Philip's eyes the figure looked strangely distorted.
"I should have thought I could do as well as that," he said to himself.
He began on the head, thinking that he would work slowly downwards, but,
he could not understand why, he found it infinitely more difficult to draw
a head from the model than to draw one from his imagination. He got into
difficulties. He glanced at Miss Price. She was working with vehement
gravity. Her brow was wrinkled with eagerness, and there was an anxious
look in her eyes. It was hot in the studio, and drops of sweat stood on
her forehead. She was a girl of twenty-six, with a great deal of dull gold
hair; it was handsome hair, but it was carelessly done, dragged back from
her forehead and tied in a hurried knot. She had a large face, with broad,
flat features and small eyes; her skin was pasty, with a singular
unhealthiness of tone, and there was no colour in the cheeks. She had an
unwashed air and you could not help wondering if she slept in her clothes.
She was serious and silent. When the next pause came, she stepped back to
look at her work.
"I don't know why I'm having so much bother," she said. "But I mean to get
it right." She turned to Philip. "How are you getting on?"
"Not at all," he answered, with a rueful smile.
She looked at what he had done.
"You can't expect to do anything that way. You must take measurements. And
you must square out your paper."
She showed him rapidly how to set about the business. Philip was impressed
by her earnestness, but repelled by her want of charm. He was grateful for
the hints she gave him and set to work again. Meanwhile other people had
come in, mostly men, for the women always arrived first, and the studio
for the time of year (it was early yet) was fairly full. Presently there
came in a young man with thin, black hair, an enormous nose, and a face so
long that it reminded you of a horse. He sat down next to Philip and
nodded across him to Miss Price.
"You're very late," she said. "Are you only just up?"
"It was such a splendid day, I thought I'd lie in bed and think how
beautiful it was out."
Philip smiled, but Miss Price took the remark seriously.
"That seems a funny thing to do, I should have thought it would be more to
the point to get up and enjoy it."