Part 2 out of 6
Pierson flushed. "I don't follow you," he said painfully. "How can
you say such things, when you yourself are only just No; I refuse
to argue, George; I refuse."
Laird stretched out his hand to his wife, who came to him, and stood
clasping it with her own. "Well, I'm going to argue," he said; "I'm
simply bursting with it. I challenge you, sir, to show me where
there's any sign of altruistic pity, except in man. Mother love
doesn't count--mother and child are too much one."
The curious smile had come already, on both their faces.
"My dear George, is not man the highest work of God, and mercy the
highest quality in man?"
"Not a bit. If geological time be taken as twenty-four hours, man's
existence on earth so far equals just two seconds of it; after a few
more seconds, when man has been frozen off the earth, geological time
will stretch for as long again, before the earth bumps into
something, and be comes nebula once more. God's hands haven't been
particularly full, sir, have they--two seconds out of twenty-four
hours--if man is His pet concern? And as to mercy being the highest
quality in, man, that's only a modern fashion of talking. Man's
highest quality is the sense of proportion, for that's what keeps him
alive; and mercy, logically pursued, would kill him off. It's a sort
of a luxury or by-product."
"George! You can have no music in your soul! Science is such a
little thing, if you could only see."
"Show me a bigger, sir."
"In what has been revealed to us."
"Ah! There it is again! By whom--how?
"By God Himself--through our Lord."
A faint flush rose in Laird's yellow face, and his eyes brightened.
"Christ," he said; "if He existed, which some people, as you know,
doubt, was a very beautiful character; there have been others. But
to ask us to believe in His supernaturalness or divinity at this time
of day is to ask us to walk through the world blindfold. And that's
what you do, don't you?"
Again Pierson looked at his daughter's face. She was standing quite
still, with her eyes fixed on her husband. Somehow he was aware that
all these words of the sick man's were for her benefit. Anger, and a
sort of despair rose within him, and he said painfully:
"I cannot explain. There are things that I can't make clear, because
you are wilfully blind to all that I believe in. For what do you
imagine we are fighting this great war, if it is not to reestablish
the belief in love as the guiding principle of life?"
Laird shook his head. "We are fighting to redress a balance, which
was in danger of being lost."
"The balance of power?"
"Heavens!--no! The balance of philosophy."
Pierson smiled. "That sounds very clever, George; but again, I don't
"The balance between the sayings: 'Might is Right,' and 'Right is
Might.' They're both half-truth, but the first was beating the other
out of the field. All the rest of it is cant, you know. And by the
way, sir, your Church is solid for punishment of the evildoer.
Where's mercy there? Either its God is not merciful, or else it
doesn't believe in its God."
"Just punishment does not preclude mercy, George."
"It does in Nature."
"Ah! Nature, George--always Nature. God transcends Nature."
"Then why does He give it a free rein? A man too fond of drink, or
women--how much mercy does he get from Nature? His overindulgence
brings its exact equivalent of penalty; let him pray to God as much
as he likes--unless he alters his ways he gets no mercy. If he does
alter his ways, he gets no mercy either; he just gets Nature's due
reward. We English who have neglected brain and education--how much
mercy are we getting in this war? Mercy's a man-made ornament,
disease, or luxury--call it what you will. Except that, I've nothing
to say against it. On the contrary, I am all for it."
Once more Pierson looked at his daughter. Something in her face hurt
him--the silent intensity with which she was hanging on her husband's
words, the eager search of her eyes. And he turned to the door,
"This is bad for you, George."
He saw Gratian put her hand on her husband's forehead, and thought--
jealously: 'How can I save my poor girl from this infidelity? Are my
twenty years of care to go for nothing, against this modern spirit?'
Down in his study, the words went through his mind: "Holy, holy,
holy, Merciful and Mighty!" And going to the little piano in the
corner, he opened it, and began playing the hymn. He played it
softly on the shabby keys of this thirty-year old friend, which had
been with him since College days; and sang it softly in his worn
A sound made him look up. Gratian had come in. She put her hand on
his shoulder, and said:
"I know it hurts you, Dad. But we've got to find out for ourselves,
haven't we? All the time you and George were talking, I felt that
you didn't see that it's I who've changed. It's not what he thinks,
but what I've come to think of my own accord. I wish you'd
understand that I've got a mind of my own, Dad."
Pierson looked up with amazement.
"Of course you have a mind."
Gratian shook her head. "No, you thought my mind was yours; and now
you think it's George's. But it's my own. When you were my age
weren't you trying hard to find the truth yourself, and differing
from your father?"
Pierson did not answer. He could not remember. It was like stirring
a stick amongst a drift of last year's leaves, to awaken but a dry
rustling, a vague sense of unsubstantiality. Searched? No doubt he
had searched, but the process had brought him nothing. Knowledge was
all smoke! Emotional faith alone was truth--reality
"Ah, Gracie!" he said, "search if you must, but where will you find
bottom? The well is too deep for us. You will come back to God, my
child, when you're tired out; the only rest is there."
"I don't want to rest. Some people search all their lives, and die
searching. Why shouldn't I.
"You will be most unhappy, my child."
"If I'm unhappy, Dad, it'll be because the world's unhappy. I don't
believe it ought to be; I think it only is, because it shuts its
Pierson got up. "You think I shut my eyes?"
"If I do, it is because there is no other way to happiness."
"Are you happy; Dad?"
"As happy as my nature will let me be. I miss your mother. If I
lose you and Noel--"
"Oh, but we won't let you!"
Pierson smiled. "My dear," he said, "I think I have!"
Some wag, with a bit of chalk, had written the word "Peace" on three
successive doors of a little street opposite Buckingham Palace.
It caught the eye of Jimmy Fort, limping home to his rooms from a
very late discussion at his Club, and twisted his lean shaven lips
into a sort of smile. He was one of those rolling-stone Englishmen,
whose early lives are spent in all parts of the world, and in all
kinds of physical conflict--a man like a hickory stick, tall, thin,
bolt-upright, knotty, hard as nails, with a curved fighting back to
his head and a straight fighting front to his brown face. His was
the type which becomes, in a generation or so, typically Colonial or
American; but no one could possibly have taken Jimmy Fort for
anything but an Englishman. Though he was nearly forty, there was
still something of the boy in his face, something frank and curly-
headed, gallant and full of steam, and his small steady grey eyes
looked out on life with a sort of combative humour. He was still in
uniform, though they had given him up as a bad job after keeping him
nine months trying to mend a wounded leg which would never be sound
again; and he was now in the War Office in connection with horses,
about which he knew. He did not like it, having lived too long with
all sorts and conditions of men who were neither English nor
official, a combination which he found trying. His life indeed, just
now, bored him to distraction, and he would ten times rather have
been back in France. This was why he found the word "Peace" so
Reaching his rooms, he threw off his tunic, to whose stiff regularity
he still had a rooted aversion; and, pulling out a pipe, filled it
and sat down at his window.
Moonshine could not cool the hot town, and it seemed sleeping badly
--the seven million sleepers in their million homes. Sound lingered
on, never quite ceased; the stale odours clung in the narrow street
below, though a little wind was creeping about to sweeten the air.
'Curse the war!' he thought. 'What wouldn't I give to be sleeping
out, instead of in this damned city!' They who slept in the open,
neglecting morality, would certainly have the best of it tonight, for
no more dew was falling than fell into Jimmy Fort's heart to cool the
fret of that ceaseless thought: 'The war! The cursed war!' In the
unending rows of little grey houses, in huge caravanserais, and the
mansions of the great, in villas, and high slum tenements; in the
government offices, and factories, and railway stations where they
worked all night; in the long hospitals where they lay in rows; in
the camp prisons of the interned; in bar racks, work-houses, palaces
--no head, sleeping or waking, would be free of that thought: 'The,
cursed war!' A spire caught his eye, rising ghostly over the roofs.
Ah! churches alone, void of the human soul, would be unconscious!
But for the rest, even sleep would not free them! Here a mother
would be whispering the name of her boy; there a merchant would snore
and dream he was drowning, weighted with gold; and a wife would be
turning to stretch out her arms to-no one; and a wounded soldier wake
out of a dream trench with sweat on his brow; and a newsvendor in his
garret mutter hoarsely. By thousands the bereaved would be tossing,
stifling their moans; by thousands the ruined would be gazing into
the dark future; and housewives struggling with sums; and soldiers
sleeping like logs--for to morrow they died; and children dreaming of
them; and prostitutes lying in stale wonder at the busyness of their
lives; and journalists sleeping the sleep of the just. And over them
all, in the moonlight that thought 'The cursed war!' flapped its
black wings, like an old crow! "If Christ were real," he mused,
"He'd reach that moon down, and go chalking 'Peace' with it on every
door of every house, all over Europe. But Christ's not real, and
Hindenburg and Harmsworth are!" As real they were as two great bulls
he had once seen in South Africa, fighting. He seemed to hear again
the stamp and snort and crash of those thick skulls, to see the
beasts recoiling and driving at each other, and the little red eyes
of them. And pulling a letter out of his pocket, he read it again by
the light of the moon:
"15, Camelot Mansions,
"St. John's Wood.
"DEAR MR. FORT,
"I came across your Club address to-night, looking at some old
letters. Did you know that I was in London? I left Steenbok when my
husband died, five years ago. I've had a simply terrific time since.
While the German South West campaign was on I was nursing out there,
but came back about a year ago to lend a hand here. It would be
awfully nice to meet you again, if by any chance you are in England.
I'm working in a V. A. D. hospital in these parts, but my evenings
are usually free. Do you remember that moonlit night at grape
harvest? The nights here aren't scented quite like that. Listerine!
Oh! This war!
"With all good remembrances,
A terrific time! If he did not mistake, Leila Lynch had always had a
terrific time. And he smiled, seeing again the stoep of an old Dutch
house at High Constantia, and a woman sitting there under the white
flowers of a sweet-scented creeper--a pretty woman, with eyes which
could put a spell on you, a woman he would have got entangled with if
he had not cut and run for it! Ten years ago, and here she was
again, refreshing him out of the past. He sniffed the fragrance of
the little letter. How everybody always managed to work into a
letter what they were doing in the war! If he answered her he would
be sure to say: "Since I got lamed, I've been at the War Office,
working on remounts, and a dull job it is!" Leila Lynch! Women
didn't get younger, and he suspected her of being older than himself.
But he remembered agreeably her white shoulders and that turn of her
neck when she looked at you with those big grey eyes of hers. Only a
five-day acquaintanceship, but they had crowded much into it as one
did in a strange land. The episode had been a green and dangerous
spot, like one of those bright mossy bits of bog when you were snipe-
shooting, to set foot on which was to let you down up to the neck, at
least. Well, there was none of that danger now, for her husband was
dead-poor chap! It would be nice, in these dismal days, when nobody
spent any time whatever except in the service of the country, to
improve his powers of service by a few hours' recreation in her
society. 'What humbugs we are!' he thought: 'To read the newspapers
and the speeches you'd believe everybody thought of nothing but how
to get killed for the sake of the future. Drunk on verbiage! What
heads and mouths we shall all have when we wake up some fine morning
with Peace shining in at the window! Ah! If only we could; and
enjoy ourselves again!' And he gazed at the moon. She was dipping
already, reeling away into the dawn. Water carts and street sweepers
had come out into the glimmer; sparrows twittered in the eaves. The
city was raising a strange unknown face to the grey light, shuttered
and deserted as Babylon. Jimmy Fort tapped out his pipe, sighed, and
got into bed.
Coming off duty at that very moment, Leila Lynch decided to have her
hour's walk before she went home. She was in charge of two wards,
and as a rule took the day watches; but some slight upset had given
her this extra spell. She was, therefore, at her worst, or perhaps
at her best, after eighteen hours in hospital. Her cheeks were pale,
and about her eyes were little lines, normally in hiding. There was
in this face a puzzling blend of the soft and hard, for the eyes, the
rather full lips, and pale cheeks, were naturally soft; but they were
hardened by the self-containment which grows on women who have to
face life for themselves, and, conscious of beauty, intend to keep
it, in spite of age. Her figure was contradictory, also; its soft
modelling a little too rigidified by stays. In this desert of the
dawn she let her long blue overcoat flap loose, and swung her hat on
a finger, so that her light-brown, touched-up hair took the morning
breeze with fluffy freedom. Though she could not see herself, she
appreciated her appearance, swaying along like that, past lonely
trees and houses. A pity there was no one to see her in that round
of Regent's Park, which took her the best part of an hour, walking in
meditation, enjoying the colour coming back into the world, as if
especially for her.
There was character in Leila Lynch, and she had lived an interesting
life from a certain point of view. In her girlhood she had fluttered
the hearts of many besides Cousin Edward Pierson, and at eighteen had
made a passionate love match with a good-looking young Indian
civilian, named Fane. They had loved each other to a standstill in
twelve months. Then had begun five years of petulance, boredom, and
growing cynicism, with increasing spells of Simla, and voyages home
for her health which was really harmed by the heat. All had
culminated, of course, in another passion for a rifleman called
Lynch. Divorce had followed, remarriage, and then the Boer War, in
which he had been badly wounded. She had gone out and nursed him
back to half his robust health, and, at twenty-eight, taken up life
with him on an up-country farm in Cape Colony. This middle period
had lasted ten years, between the lonely farm and an old Dutch house
at High Constantia. Lynch was not a bad fellow, but, like most
soldiers of the old Army, had been quite carefully divested of an
aesthetic sense. And it was Leila's misfortune to have moments when
aesthetic sense seemed necessary. She had struggled to overcome this
weakness, and that other weakness of hers--a liking for men's
admiration; but there had certainly been intervals when she had not
properly succeeded. Her acquaintance with Jimmy Fort had occurred
during one of these intervals, and when he went back to England so
abruptly, she had been feeling very tenderly towards him. She still
remembered him with a certain pleasure. Before Lynch died, these
"intervals" had been interrupted by a spell of returning warmth for
the invalided man to whom she had joined her life under the romantic
conditions of divorce. He had failed, of course, as a farmer, and
his death left her with nothing but her own settled income of a
hundred and fifty pounds a year. Faced by the prospect of having
almost to make her living, at thirty-eight, she felt but momentary
dismay--for she had real pluck. Like many who have played with
amateur theatricals, she fancied herself as an actress; but, after
much effort, found that only her voice and the perfect preservation
of her legs were appreciated by the discerning managers and public of
South Africa; and for three chequered years she made face against
fortune with the help of them, under an assumed name. What she did
--keeping a certain bloom of refinement, was far better than the
achievements of many more respectable ladies in her shoes. At least
she never bemoaned her "reduced circumstances," and if her life was
irregular and had at least three episodes, it was very human. She
bravely took the rough with the smooth, never lost the power of
enjoying herself, and grew in sympathy with the hardships of others.
But she became deadly tired. When the war broke out, remembering
that she was a good nurse, she took her real name again and a change
of occupation. For one who liked to please men, and to be pleased by
them, there was a certain attraction about that life in war-time; and
after two years of it she could still appreciate the way her Tommies
turned their heads to look at her when she passed their beds. But in
a hard school she had learned perfect self-control; and though the
sour and puritanical perceived her attraction, they knew her to be
forty-three. Besides, the soldiers liked her; and there was little
trouble in her wards. The war moved her in simple ways; for she was
patriotic in the direct fashion of her class. Her father had been a
sailor, her husbands an official and a soldier; the issue for her was
uncomplicated by any abstract meditation. The Country before
everything! And though she had tended during those two years so many
young wrecked bodies, she had taken it as all in the a day's work,
lavishing her sympathy on the individual, without much general sense
of pity and waste. Yes, she had worked really hard, had "done her
bit"; but of late she had felt rising within her the old vague
craving for "life," for pleasure, for something more than the mere
negative admiration bestowed on her by her "Tommies." Those old
letters--to look them through them had been a sure sign of this vague
craving--had sharpened to poignancy the feeling that life was
slipping away from her while she was still comely. She had been long
out of England, and so hard-worked since she came back that there
were not many threads she could pick up suddenly. Two letters out of
that little budget of the past, with a far cry between them, had
awakened within her certain sentimental longings.
"DEAR LADY OF THE STARRY FLOWERS,
"Exiturus (sic) to saluto! The tender carries you this message of
good-bye. Simply speaking, I hate leaving South Africa. And of all
my memories, the last will live the longest. Grape harvest at
Constantia, and you singing: 'If I could be the falling dew: If ever
you and your husband come to England, do let me know, that I may try
and repay a little the happiest five days I've spent out here.
"Your very faithful servant,
She remembered a very brown face, a tall slim figure, and something
gallant about the whole of him. What was he like after ten years?
Grizzled, married, with a large family? An odious thing--Time! And
Cousin Edward's little yellow letter.
Good heavens! Twenty-six years ago--before he was a parson, or
married or anything! Such a good partner, really musical; a queer,
dear fellow, devoted, absentminded, easily shocked, yet with flame
burning in him somewhere.
"After our last dance I went straight off'--I couldn't go in. I went
down to the river, and walked along the bank; it was beautiful, all
grey and hazy, and the trees whispered, and the cows looked holy; and
I walked along and thought of you. And a farmer took me for a
lunatic, in my dress clothes. Dear Leila, you were so pretty last
night, and I did love our dances. I hope you are not tired, and that
I shall see you soon again:
"Your affectionate cousin,
And then he had gone and become a parson, and married, and been a
widower fifteen years. She remembered the death of his wife, just
before she left for South Africa, at that period of disgrace when she
had so shocked her family by her divorce. Poor Edward--quite the
nicest of her cousins! The only one she would care to see again. He
would be very old and terribly good and proper, by now
Her wheel of Regent's Park was coming full circle, and the sun was up
behind the houses, but still no sound of traffic stirred. She
stopped before a flower-bed where was some heliotrope, and took a
long, luxurious sniff: She could not resist plucking a sprig, too,
and holding it to her nose. A sudden want of love had run through
every nerve and fibre of her; she shivered, standing there with her
eyes half closed, above the pale violet blossom. Then, noting by her
wrist-watch that it was four o'clock, she hurried on, to get to her
bed, for she would have to be on duty again at noon. Oh! the war!
She was tired! If only it were over, and one could live!...
Somewhere by Twickenham the moon had floated down; somewhere up from
Kentish Town the sun came soaring; wheels rolled again, and the seven
million sleepers in their million houses woke from morning sleep to
that same thought....
Edward Pierson, dreaming over an egg at breakfast, opened a letter in
a handwriting which he did not recognise.
"V. A. D. Hospital,
"Mulberry Road, St. John's Wood N. W.
"DEAR COUSIN EDWARD,
"Do you remember me, or have I gone too far into the shades of night?
I was Leila Pierson once upon a time, and I often think of you and
wonder what you are like now, and what your girls are like. I have
been here nearly a year, working for our wounded, and for a year
before that was nursing in South Africa. My husband died five years
ago out there. Though we haven't met for I dare not think how long,
I should awfully like to see you again. Would you care to come some
day and look over my hospital? I have two wards under me; our men
are rather dears.
"Your forgotten but still affectionate cousin
"P. S. I came across a little letter you once wrote me; it brought
back old days."
No! He had not forgotten. There was a reminder in the house. And
he looked up at Noel sitting opposite. How like the eyes were! And
he thought: 'I wonder what Leila has become. One mustn't be
uncharitable. That man is dead; she has been nursing two years. She
must be greatly changed; I should certainly like to see her. I will
go!' Again he looked at Noel. Only yesterday she had renewed her
request to be allowed to begin her training as a nurse.
"I'm going to see a hospital to-day, Nollie," he said; "if you like,
I'll make enquiries. I'm afraid it'll mean you have to begin by
"I know; anything, so long as I do begin."
"Very well; I'll see about it." And he went back to his egg.
Noel's voice roused him. "Do you feel the war much, Daddy? Does it
hurt you here?" She had put her hand on her heart. "Perhaps it
doesn't, because you live half in the next world, don't you?"
The words: "God forbid," sprang to Pierson's lips; he did not speak
them, but put his egg-spoon down, hurt and bewildered. What did the
child mean? Not feel the war! He smiled.
"I hope I'm able to help people sometimes, Nollie," and was conscious
that he had answered his own thoughts, not her words. He finished
his breakfast quickly, and very soon went out. He crossed the
Square, and passed East, down two crowded streets to his church. In
the traffic of those streets, all slipshod and confused, his black-
clothed figure and grave face, with its Vandyk beard, had a curious
remote appearance, like a moving remnant of a past civilisation. He
went in by the side door. Only five days he had been away, but they
had been so full of emotion that the empty familiar building seemed
almost strange to him. He had come there unconsciously, groping for
anchorage and guidance in this sudden change of relationship between
him and his daughters. He stood by the pale brazen eagle, staring
into the chancel. The choir were wanting new hymn-books--he must not
forget to order them! His eyes sought the stained-glass window he
had put in to the memory of his wife. The sun, too high to slant,
was burnishing its base, till it glowed of a deep sherry colour. "In
the next world!" What strange words of Noel's! His eyes caught the
glimmer of the organ-pipes; and, mounting to the loft, he began to
play soft chords wandering into each other. He finished, and stood
gazing down. This space within high walls, under high vaulted roof,
where light was toned to a perpetual twilight, broken here and there
by a little glow of colour from glass and flowers, metal, and dark
wood, was his home, his charge, his refuge. Nothing moved down
there, and yet--was not emptiness mysteriously living, the closed-in
air imprinted in strange sort, as though the drone of music and
voices in prayer and praise clung there still? Had not sanctity a
presence? Outside, a barrel-organ drove its tune along; a wagon
staggered on the paved street, and the driver shouted to his horses;
some distant guns boomed out in practice, and the rolling of wheels
on wheels formed a net of sound. But those invading noises were
transmuted to a mere murmuring in here; only the silence and the
twilight were real to Pierson, standing there, a little black figure
in a great empty space.
When he left the church, it was still rather early to go to Leila's
hospital; and, having ordered the new hymn-books, he called in at the
house of a parishioner whose son had been killed in France. He found
her in her kitchen; an oldish woman who lived by charing. She wiped
a seat for the Vicar.
"I was just makin' meself a cup o' tea, sir."
"Ah! What a comfort tea is, Mrs. Soles!" And he sat down, so that
she should feel "at home."
"Yes; it gives me 'eart-burn; I take eight or ten cups a day, now. I
take 'em strong, too. I don't seem able to get on without it. I
'ope the young ladies are well, sir?"
"Very well, thank you. Miss Noel is going to begin nursing, too."
"Deary-me! She's very young; but all the young gells are doin'
something these days. I've got a niece in munitions-makin' a pretty
penny she is. I've been meanin' to tell you--I don't come to church
now; since my son was killed, I don't seem to 'ave the 'eart to go
anywhere--'aven't been to a picture-palace these three months. Any
excitement starts me cryin'."
"I know; but you'd find rest in church."
Mrs. Soles shook her head, and the small twisted bob of her
discoloured hair wobbled vaguely.
"I can't take any recreation," she said. "I'd rather sit 'ere, or be
at work. My son was a real son to me. This tea's the only thing
that does me any good. I can make you a fresh cup in a minute."
"Thank you, Mrs. Soles, but I must be getting on. We must all look
forward to meeting our beloved again, in God's mercy. And one of
these days soon I shall be seeing you in church, shan't I."
Mrs. Soles shifted her weight from one slippered foot to the other.
"Well! let's 'ope so," she said. "But I dunno when I shall 'ave the
spirit. Good day, sir, and thank you kindly for calling, I'm sure."
Pierson walked away with a very faint smile. Poor queer old soul!
--she was no older than himself, but he thought of her as ancient
--cut off from her son, like so many--so many; and how good and
patient! The melody of an anthem began running in his head. His
fingers moved on the air beside him, and he stood still, waiting for
an omnibus to take him to St. John's Wood. A thousand people went by
while he was waiting, but he did not notice them, thinking of that
anthem, of his daughters, and the mercy of God; and on the top of his
'bus, when it came along, he looked lonely and apart, though the man
beside him was so fat that there was hardly any seat left to sit on.
Getting down at Lord's Cricket-ground, he asked his way of a lady in
a nurse's dress.
"If you'll come with me," she said, "I'm just going there."
"Oh! Do you happen to know a Mrs. Lynch who nurses"
"I am Mrs. Lynch. Why, you're Edward Pierson!"
He looked into her face, which he had not yet observed.
"Leila!" he said.
"Yes, Leila! How awfully nice of you to come, Edward!"
They continued to stand, searching each for the other's youth, till
"In spite of your beard, I should have known you anywhere!" But she
thought: 'Poor Edward! He is old, and monk-like!'
And Pierson, in answer, murmured:
"You're very little changed, Leila! We haven't, seen each other
since my youngest girl was born. She's just a little like you." But
he thought: 'My Nollie! So much more dewy; poor Leila!'
They walked on, talking of his daughters, till they reached the
"If you'll wait here a minute, I'll take you over my wards."
She had left him in a bare hall, holding his hat in one hand and
touching his gold cross with the other; but she soon came hack, and a
little warmth crept about his heart. How works of mercy suited
women! She looked so different, so much softer, beneath the white
coif, with a white apron over the bluish frock.
At the change in his face, a little warmth crept about Leila, too,
just where the bib of her apron stopped; and her eyes slid round at
him while they went towards what had once been a billiard-room.
"My men are dears," she said; "they love to be talked to."
Under a skylight six beds jutted out from a green distempered wall,
opposite to six beds jutting out from another green distempered wall,
and from each bed a face was turned towards them young faces, with
but little expression in them. A nurse, at the far end, looked
round, and went on with her work. The sight of the ward was no more
new to Pierson than to anyone else in these days. It was so
familiar, indeed, that it had practically no significance. He stood
by the first bed, and Leila stood alongside. The man smiled up when
she spoke, and did not smile when he spoke, and that again was
familiar to him. They passed from bed to bed, with exactly the same
result, till she was called away, and he sat down by a young soldier
with a long, very narrow head and face, and a heavily bandaged
shoulder. Touching the bandage reverently, Pierson said:
"Well, my dear fellow-still bad?"
"Ah!" replied the soldier. "Shrapnel wound: It's cut the flesh
"But not the spirit, I can see!"
The young soldier gave him a quaint look, as much as to say: "Not
'arf bad!" and a gramophone close to the last bed began to play:
"God bless Daddy at the war!"
"Are you fond of music?"
"I like it well enough. Passes the time."
"I'm afraid the time hangs heavy in hospital."
"Yes; it hangs a bit 'eavy; it's just 'orspital life. I've been
wounded before, you see. It's better than bein' out there. I expect
I'll lose the proper use o' this arm. I don't worry; I'll get my
"You've got some good nurses here."
"Yes; I like Mrs. Lynch; she's the lady I like."
"I see you come in together. I see everything 'ere. I think a lot,
too. Passes the time."
"Do they let you smoke?"
"Oh, yes! They let us smoke."
"Have one of mine?"
The young soldier smiled for the first time. "Thank you; I've got
The nurse came by, and smiled at Pierson.
"He's one of our blase ones; been in before, haven't you, Simson?"
Pierson looked at the young man, whose long, narrow face; where one
sandy-lashed eyelid drooped just a little, seemed armoured with a
sort of limited omniscience. The gramophone had whirred and grunted
into "Sidi Brahim." The nurse passed on.
"'Seedy Abram,'" said the young soldier. "The Frenchies sing it;
they takes it up one after the other, ye know."
"Ah!" murmured Pierson; "it's pretty." And his fingers drummed on
the counterpane, for the tune was new to him. Something seemed to
move in the young man's face, as if a blind had been drawn up a
"I don't mind France," he said abruptly; "I don't mind the shells and
that; but I can't stick the mud. There's a lot o' wounded die in the
mud; can't get up--smothered." His unwounded arm made a restless
movement. "I was nearly smothered myself. Just managed to keep me
Pierson shuddered. "Thank God you did!"
"Yes; I didn't like that. I told Mrs. Lynch about that one day when
I had the fever. She's a nice lady; she's seen a lot of us boys:
That mud's not right, you know." And again his unwounded arm made
that restless movement; while the gramophone struck up: "The boys in
brown." The movement of the arm affected Pierson horribly; he rose
and, touching the bandaged shoulder, said:
"Good-bye; I hope you'll soon be quite recovered."
The young soldier's lips twisted in the semblance of a smile; his
drooped eyelid seemed to try and raise itself.
"Good day, sir," he said; "and thank you."
Pierson went back to the hall. The sunlight fell in a pool just
inside the open door, and an uncontrollable impulse made him move
into it, so that it warmed him up to the waist. The mud! How ugly
life was! Life and Death! Both ugly! Poor boys! Poor boys!
A voice behind him said:
"Oh! There you are, Edward! Would you like to see the other ward,
or shall I show you our kitchen?"
Pierson took her hand impulsively. "You're doing a noble work,
Leila. I wanted to ask you: Could you arrange for Noel to come and
get trained here? She wants to begin at once. The fact is, a boy
she is attracted to has just gone out to the Front."
"Ah!" murmured Leila, and her eyes looked very soft. "Poor child!
We shall be wanting an extra hand next week. I'll see if she could
come now. I'll speak to our Matron, and let you know to-night." She
squeezed his hand hard.
"Dear Edward, I'm so glad to see you again. You're the first of our
family I've seen for sixteen years. I wonder if you'd bring Noel to
have supper at my flat to-night--Just nothing to eat, you know! It's
a tiny place. There's a Captain Fort coming; a nice man."
Pierson accepted, and as he walked away he thought: 'Dear Leila!
I believe it was Providence. She wants sympathy. She wants to feel
the past is the past. How good women are!'
And the sun, blazing suddenly out of a cloud, shone on his black
figure and the little gold cross, in the middle of Portland Place.
Men, even if they are not artistic, who have been in strange places
and known many nooks of the world, get the scenic habit, become open
to pictorial sensation. It was as a picture or series of pictures
that Jimmy Fort ever afterwards remembered his first supper at
Leila's. He happened to have been all day in the open, motoring
about to horse farms under a hot sun; and Leila's hock cup possessed
a bland and subtle strength. The scenic sense derived therefrom had
a certain poignancy, the more so because the tall child whom he met
there did not drink it, and her father seemed but to wet his lips, so
that Leila and he had all the rest. Rather a wonderful little scene
it made in his mind, very warm, glowing, yet with a strange dark
sharpness to it, which came perhaps from the black walls.
The flat had belonged to an artist who was at the war. It was but a
pocket dwelling on the third floor. The two windows of the little
square sitting-room looked out on some trees and a church. But
Leila, who hated dining by daylight, had soon drawn curtains of a
deep blue over them. The picture which Fort remembered was this: A
little four-square table of dark wood, with a Chinese mat of vivid
blue in the centre, whereon stood a silver lustre bowl of clove
carnations; some greenish glasses with hock cup in them; on his left,
Leila in a low lilac frock, her neck and shoulders very white, her
face a little powdered, her eyes large, her lips smiling; opposite
him a black-clothed padre with a little gold cross, over whose thin
darkish face, with its grave pointed beard, passed little gentle
smiles, but whose deep sunk grey eyes were burnt and bright; on his
right, a girl in a high grey frock, almost white, just hollowed at
the neck, with full sleeves to the elbow, so that her slim arms
escaped; her short fair hair a little tumbled; her big grey eyes
grave; her full lips shaping with a strange daintiness round every
word--and they not many; brilliant red shades over golden lights
dotting the black walls; a blue divan; a little black piano flush
with the wall; a dark polished floor; four Japanese prints; a white
ceiling. He was conscious that his own khaki spoiled something as
curious and rare as some old Chinese tea-chest. He even remembered
what they ate; lobster; cold pigeon pie; asparagus; St. Ivel cheese;
raspberries and cream. He did not remember half so well what they
talked of, except that he himself told them stories of the Boer War,
in which he had served in the Yeomanry, and while he was telling
them, the girl, like a child listening to a fairy-tale, never moved
her eyes from his face. He remembered that after supper they all
smoked cigarettes, even the tall child, after the padre had said to
her mildly, "My dear!" and she had answered: "I simply must, Daddy,
just one." He remembered Leila brewing Turkish coffee--very good,
and how beautiful her white arms looked, hovering about the cups. He
remembered her making the padre sit down at the piano, and play to
them. And she and the girl on the divan together, side by side, a
strange contrast; with just as strange a likeness to each other. He
always remembered how fine and rare that music sounded in the little
room, flooding him with a dreamy beatitude. Then--he remembered--
Leila sang, the padre standing-by; and the tall child on the divan
bending forward over her knees, with her chin on her hands. He
remembered rather vividly how Leila turned her neck and looked up,
now at the padre, now at himself; and, all through, the delightful
sense of colour and warmth, a sort of glamour over all the evening;
and the lingering pressure of Leila's hand when he said good-bye and
they went away, for they all went together. He remembered talking a
great deal to the padre in the cab, about the public school they had
both been at, and thinking: 'It's a good padre--this!' He remembered
how their taxi took them to an old Square which he did not know,
where the garden trees looked densely black in the starshine. He
remembered that a man outside the house had engaged the padre in
earnest talk, while the tall child and himself stood in the open
doorway, where the hall beyond was dark. Very exactly he remembered
the little conversation which then took place between them, while
they waited for her father.
"Is it very horrid in the trenches, Captain Fort?"
"Yes, Miss Pierson; it is very horrid, as a rule."
"Is it dangerous all the time?"
"Do officers run more risks than the men?"
"Not unless there's an attack."
"Are there attacks very often?"
It had seemed to him so strangely primitive a little catechism, that
he had smiled. And, though it was so dark, she had seen that smile,
for her face went proud and close all of a sudden. He had cursed
himself, and said gently:
"Have you a brother out there?"
She shook her head.
Someone! He had heard that answer with a little shock. This child--
this fairy princess of a child already to have someone! He wondered
if she went about asking everyone these questions, with that someone
in her thoughts. Poor child! And quickly he said:
"After all, look at me! I was out there a year, and here I am with
only half a game leg; times were a lot worse, then, too. I often
wish I were back there. Anything's better than London and the War
Office." But just then he saw the padre coming, and took her hand.
"Good night, Miss Pierson. Don't worry. That does no good, and
there isn't half the risk you think."
Her hand stirred, squeezed his gratefully, as a child's would
"Good night," she murmured; "thank you awfully."
And, in the dark cab again, he remembered thinking: 'Fancy that
child! A jolly lucky boy, out there! Too bad! Poor little fairy
To wash up is not an exciting operation. To wash up in August became
for Noel a process which taxed her strength and enthusiasm. She
combined it with other forms of instruction in the art of nursing,
had very little leisure, and in the evenings at home would often fall
asleep curled up in a large chintz-covered chair.
George and Gratian had long gone back to their respective hospitals,
and she and her father had the house to themselves. She received
many letters from Cyril which she carried about with her and read on
her way to and from the hospital; and every other day she wrote to
him. He was not yet in the firing line; his letters were descriptive
of his men, his food, or the natives, or reminiscent of Kestrel; hers
descriptive of washing up, or reminiscent of Kestrel. But in both
there was always some little word of the longing within them.
It was towards the end of August when she had the letter which said
that he had been moved up. From now on he would be in hourly danger!
That evening after dinner she did not go to sleep in the chair, but
sat under the open window, clenching her hands, and reading "Pride
and Prejudice" without understanding a word. While she was so
engaged her father came up and said:
"Captain Fort, Nollie. Will you give him some coffee? I'm afraid I
must go out."
When he had gone, Noel looked at her visitor drinking his coffee. He
had been out there, too, and he was alive; with only a little limp.
The visitor smiled and said:
"What were you thinking about when we came in?"
"Only the war."
"Any news of him?"
Noel frowned, she hated to show her feelings.
"Yes! he's gone to the Front. Won't you have a cigarette?"
"Thanks. Will you?"
"I want one awfully. I think sitting still and waiting is more
dreadful than anything in the world."
"Except, knowing that others are waiting. When I was out there I
used to worry horribly over my mother. She was ill at the time. The
cruelest thing in war is the anxiety of people about each other--
nothing touches that."
The words exactly summed up Noel's hourly thought. He said nice
things, this man with the long legs and the thin brown bumpy face!
"I wish I were a man," she said, "I think women have much the worst
time in the war. Is your mother old?" But of course she was old why
he was old himself!
"She died last Christmas."
"Oh! I'm so sorry!"
"You lost your mother when you were a babe, didn't you?"
"Yes. That's her portrait." At the end of the room, hanging on a
strip of black velvet was a pastel, very faint in colouring, as
though faded, of a young woman, with an eager, sweet face, dark eyes,
and bent a little forward, as if questioning her painter. Fort went
up to it.
"It's not a bit like you. But she must have been a very sweet
"It's a sort of presence in the room. I wish I were like her!"
Fort turned. "No," he said; "no. Better as you are. It would only
have spoiled a complete thing."
"She was good."
"And aren't you?"
"Oh! no. I get a devil."
"You! Why, you're out of a fairy-tale!"
"It comes from Daddy--only he doesn't know, because he's a perfect
saint; but I know he's had a devil somewhere, or he couldn't be the
saint he is."
"H'm!" said Fort. "That's very deep: and I believe it's true--the
saints did have devils."
"Poor Daddy's devil has been dead ages. It's been starved out of
him, I think."
"Does your devil ever get away with you?"
Noel felt her cheeks growing red under his stare, and she turned to
"Yes. It's a real devil."
Vividly there had come before her the dark Abbey, and the moon
balancing over the top of the crumbling wall, and the white owl
flying across. And, speaking to the air, she said:
"It makes you do things that you want to do."
She wondered if he would laugh--it sounded so silly. But he did not.
"And damn the consequences? I know. It's rather a jolly thing to
Noel shook her head. "Here's Daddy coming back!"
Fort held out his hand.
"I won't stay. Good night; and don't worry too much, will you?"
He kept her hand rather a long time, and gave it a hard squeeze.
Don't worry! What advice! Ah! if she could see Cyril just for a
In September, 1916, Saturday still came before Sunday, in spite of
the war. For Edward Pierson this Saturday had been a strenuous day,
and even now, at nearly midnight, he was still conning his just-
A patriot of patriots, he had often a passionate longing to resign
his parish, and go like his curate for a chaplain at the Front. It
seemed to him that people must think his life idle and sheltered and
useless. Even in times of peace he had been sensitive enough to feel
the cold draughty blasts which the Church encounters in a material
age. He knew that nine people out of ten looked on him as something
of a parasite, with no real work in the world. And since he was
nothing if not conscientious, he always worked himself to the bone.
To-day he had risen at half-past six, and after his bath and
exercises, had sat down to his sermon--for, even now, he wrote a new
sermon once a month, though he had the fruits of twenty-six years to
choose from. True, these new sermons were rather compiled than
written, because, bereft of his curate, he had not time enough for
fresh thought on old subjects. At eight he had breakfasted with
Noel, before she went off to her hospital, whence she would return at
eight in the evening. Nine to ten was his hour for seeing
parishioners who had troubles, or wanted help or advice, and he had
received three to-day who all wanted help, which he had given. From
ten to eleven he had gone back to his sermon, and had spent from
eleven to one at his church, attending to small matters, writing
notices, fixing hymns, holding the daily half-hour Service instituted
during wartime, to which but few ever came. He had hurried back to
lunch, scamping it so that he might get to his piano for an hour of
forgetfulness. At three he had christened a very noisy baby, and
been detained by its parents who wished for information on a variety
of topics. At half-past four he had snatched a cup of tea, reading
the paper; and had spent from five to seven visiting two Parish
Clubs, and those whose war-pension matters he had in hand, and
filling up forms which would be kept in official places till such
time as the system should be changed and a fresh set of forms issued.
>From seven to eight he was at home again, in case his flock wanted to
see him; to-day four sheep had come, and gone away, he was afraid,
but little the wiser. From half-past eight to half-past nine he had
spent in choir practice, because the organist was on his holiday.
Slowly in the cool of the evening he had walked home, and fallen
asleep in his chair on getting in. At eleven he had woken with a
start, and, hardening his heart, had gone back to his sermon. And
now, at nearly midnight, it was still less than twenty minutes long.
He lighted one of his rare cigarettes, and let thought wander. How
beautiful those pale pink roses were in that old silver bowl-like a
little strange poem, or a piece of Debussy music, or a Mathieu Maris
picture-reminding him oddly of the word Leila. Was he wrong in
letting Noel see so much of Leila? But then she was so improved--
dear Leila!... The pink roses were just going to fall! And yet how
beautiful!... It was quiet to-night; he felt very drowsy.... Did
Nollie still think of that young man, or had it passed? She had
never confided in him since! After the war, it would be nice to take
her to Italy, to all the little towns. They would see the Assisi of
St. Francis. The Little Flowers of St. Francis. The Little
Flowers!... His hand dropped, the cigarette went out. He slept with
his face in shadow. Slowly into the silence of his sleep little
sinister sounds intruded. Short concussions, dragging him back out
of that deep slumber. He started up. Noel was standing at the door,
in a long coat. She said in her calm voice:
"Yes, my dear. Where are the maids?"
An Irish voice answered from the hall: "Here, sir; trustin' in God;
but 'tis better on the ground floor."
He saw a huddle of three figures, queerly costumed, against the
"Yes, Yes, Bridgie; you're safe down here." Then he noticed that
Noel was gone. He followed her out into the Square, alive with faces
faintly luminous in the darkness, and found her against the garden
"You must come back in, Nollie."
"Oh, no! Cyril has this every day."
He stood beside her; not loth, for excitement had begun to stir his
blood. They stayed there for some minutes, straining their eyes for
sight of anything save the little zagged splashes of bursting
shrapnel, while voices buzzed, and muttered: "Look! There! There!
There it is!"
But the seers had eyes of greater faith than Pierson's, for he saw
nothing: He took her arm at last, and led her in. In the hall she
broke from him.
"Let's go up on the roof, Daddy!" and ran upstairs.
Again he followed, mounting by a ladder, through a trapdoor on to the
"It's splendid up here!" she cried.
He could see her eyes blazing, and thought: 'How my child does love
excitement--it's almost terrible!'
Over the wide, dark, star-strewn sky travelling searchlights, were
lighting up the few little clouds; the domes and spires rose from
among the spread-out roofs, all fine and ghostly. The guns had
ceased firing, as though puzzled. One distant bang rumbled out.
"A bomb! Oh! If we could only get one of the Zeps!"
A furious outburst of firing followed, lasting perhaps a minute, then
ceased as if by magic. They saw two searchlights converge and meet
"It's above us!" murmured Noel.
Pierson put his arm round her waist. 'She feels no fear!' he
thought. The search-lights switched apart; and suddenly, from far
away, came a confusion of weird sounds.
"What is it? They're cheering. Oh! Daddy, look!" There in the
heavens, towards the east, hung a dull red thing, lengthening as they
"They've got it. It's on fire! Hurrah!"
Through the dark firmament that fiery orange shape began canting
downward; and the cheering swelled in a savage frenzy of sound. And
Pierson's arm tightened on her waist.
"Thank God!" he muttered.
The bright oblong seemed to break and spread, tilted down below the
level of the roofs; and suddenly the heavens flared, as if some huge
jug of crimson light had been flung out on them. Something turned
over in Pierson's heart; he flung up his hand to his eyes.
"The poor men in it!" he said. "How terrible!"
Noel's voice answered, hard and pitiless:
"They needn't have come. They're murderers!"
Yes, they were murderers--but how terrible! And he stood quivering,
with his hands pressed to his face, till the cheering had died out
"Let's pray, Nollie!" he whispered. "O God, Who in Thy great mercy
hath delivered us from peril, take into Thy keeping the souls of
these our enemies, consumed by Thy wrath before our eyes; give us the
power to pity them--men like ourselves."
But even while he prayed he could see Noel's face flame-white in the
darkness; and, as that glow in the sky faded out, he felt once more
the thrill of triumph.
They went down to tell the maids, and for some time after sat up
together, talking over what they had seen, eating biscuits and
drinking milk, which they warmed on an etna. It was nearly two
o'clock before they went to bed. Pierson fell asleep at once, and
never turned till awakened at half-past six by his alarum. He had
Holy Communion to administer at eight, and he hurried to get early to
his church and see that nothing untoward had happened to it. There
it stood in the sunlight; tall, grey, quiet, unharmed, with bell
And at that hour Cyril Morland, under the parapet of his trench,
tightening his belt, was looking at his wrist-watch for the hundredth
time, calculating exactly where he meant to put foot and hand for the
going over: 'I absolutely mustn't let those chaps get in front of
me,' he thought. So many yards before the first line of trenches, so
many yards to the second line, and there stop. So his rehearsals had
gone; it was the performance now! Another minute before the terrific
racket of the drum-fire should become the curtain-fire, which would
advance before them. He ran his eye down the trench. The man next
him was licking his two first fingers, as if he might be going to
bowl at cricket. Further down, a man was feeling his puttees. A
voice said: "Wot price the orchestra nah!" He saw teeth gleam in
faces burnt almost black. Then he looked up; the sky was blue beyond
the brownish film of dust raised by the striking shells. Noel!
Noel! Noel!... He dug his fingers deep into the left side of his
tunic till he could feel the outline of her photograph between his
dispatch-case and his heart. His heart fluttered just as it used
when he was stretched out with hand touching the ground, before the
start of the "hundred yards" at school. Out of the corner of his eye
he caught the flash of a man's "briquet" lighting a cigarette. All
right for those chaps, but not for him; he wanted all his breath--
this rifle, and kit were handicap enough! Two days ago he had been
reading in some paper how men felt just before an attack. And now he
knew. He just felt nervous. If only the moment would come, and get
itself over! For all the thought he gave to the enemy there might
have been none--nothing but shells and bullets, with lives of their
own. He heard the whistle; his foot was on the spot he had marked
down; his hand where he had seen it; he called out: "Now, boys!" His
head was over the top, his body over; he was conscious of someone
falling, and two men neck and neck beside him. Not to try and run,
not to break out of a walk; to go steady, and yet keep ahead! D--n
these holes! A bullet tore through his sleeve, grazing his arm--a
red-hot sensation, like the touch of an iron. A British shell from
close over his head burst sixty yards ahead; he stumbled, fell flat,
picked himself up. Three ahead of him now! He walked faster, and
drew alongside. Two of them fell. 'What luck!' he thought; and
gripping his rifle harder, pitched headlong into a declivity. Dead
bodies lay there! The first German trench line, and nothing alive in
it, nothing to clean up, nothing of it left! He stopped, getting his
wind; watching the men panting and stumbling in. The roar of the
guns was louder than ever again, barraging the second line. So far,
good! And here was his captain!
"Ready, boys? On, then!"
This time he moved more slowly still, over terrible going, all holes
and hummocks. Half consciously he took cover all he could. The air
was alive with the whistle from machine-gun fire storming across
zigzag fashion-alive it was with bullets, dust, and smoke. 'How
shall I tell her?' he thought. There would be nothing to tell but
just a sort of jagged brown sensation. He kept his eyes steadily
before him, not wanting to seethe men falling, not wanting anything
to divert him from getting there. He felt the faint fanning of the
passing bullets. The second line must be close now. Why didn't that
barrage lift? Was this new dodge of firing till the last second
going to do them in? Another hundred yards and he would be bang into
it. He flung himself flat and waited; looking at his wrist-watch he
noted that his arm was soaked with blood. He thought: 'A wound! Now
I shall go home. Thank God! Oh, Noel!' The passing bullets whirled
above him; he could hear them even through the screech and thunder of
the shell-fire. 'The beastly things!' he thought: A voice beside him
"It's lifted, sir."
He called: "Come on, boys!" and went forward, stooping. A bullet
struck his rifle. The shock made him stagger and sent an electric
shock spinning up his arm. 'Luck again!' he thought. 'Now for it!
I haven't seen a German yet!' He leaped forward, spun round, flung up
his arms, and fell on his back, shot through and through....
The position was consolidated, as they say, and in the darkness
stretcher-bearers were out over the half-mile. Like will-o'-the-
wisps, with their shaded lanterns, they moved, hour after hour,
slowly quartering the black honeycomb which lay behind the new
British line. Now and then in the light of some star-shell their
figures were disclosed, bending and raising the forms of the wounded,
or wielding pick and shovel.
>From the shaded lantern, lowered to just above the body, a yellowish
glare fell on face and breast. The hands of the searcher moved in
that little pool of light. The bearer who was taking notes bent
"Another boy," he said. "That all he has?"
The searcher raised himself.
"Just those, and a photo."
"Dispatch-case; pound loose; cigarette-case; wristwatch; photo.
Let's see it."
The searcher placed the photo in the pool of light. The tiny face of
a girl stared up at them, unmoved, from its short hair.
"Noel," said the searcher, reading.
"H'm! Take care of it. Stick it in his case. Come on!"
The pool of light dissolved, and darkness for ever covered Cyril
When those four took their seats in the Grand Circle at Queen's Hall
the programme was already at the second number, which, in spite of
all the efforts of patriotism, was of German origin--a Brandenburg
concerto by Bach. More curious still, it was encored. Pierson did
not applaud, he was too far gone in pleasure, and sat with a rapt
smile on his face, oblivious of his surroundings. He remained thus
removed from mortal joys and sorrows till the last applause had died
away, and Leila's voice said in his ear:
"Isn't it a wonderful audience, Edward? Look at all that khaki.
Who'd have thought those young men cared for music--good music--
German music, too?"
Pierson looked down at the patient mass of standing figures in straw
hats and military caps, with faces turned all one way, and sighed.
"I wish I could get an audience like that in my church."
A smile crept out at the corner of Leila's lips. She was thinking:
'Ah! Your Church is out of date, my dear, and so are you! Your
Church, with its smell of mould and incense, its stained-glass, and
narrowed length and droning organ. Poor Edward, so out of the
world!' But she only pressed his arm, and whispered:
"Look at Noel!"
The girl was talking to Jimmy Fort. Her cheeks were gushed, and she
looked prettier than Pierson had seen her look for a long time now,
ever since Kestrel, indeed. He heard Leila sigh.
"Does she get news of her boy? Do you remember that May Week,
Edward? We were very young then; even you were young. That was such
a pretty little letter you wrote me. I can see you still-wandering
in your dress clothes along the river, among the 'holy' cows."
But her eyes slid round again, watching her other neighbour and the
girl. A violinist had begun to play the Cesar Franck Sonata. It was
Pierson's favourite piece of music, bringing him, as it were, a view
of heaven, of devotional blue air where devout stars were shining in
a sunlit noon, above ecstatic trees and waters where ecstatic swans
"Queer world, Mr. Pierson! Fancy those boys having to go back to
barrack life after listening to that!, What's your feeling? Are we
moving back to the apes? Did we touch top note with that Sonata?"
Pierson turned and contemplated his questioner shrewdly.
"No, Captain Fort, I do not think we are moving back to the apes; if
we ever came from them. Those boys have the souls of heroes!"
"I know that, sir, perhaps better than you do."
"Ah! yes," said Pierson humbly, "I forgot, of course." But he still
looked at his neighbour doubtfully. This Captain Fort, who was a
friend of Leila's, and who had twice been to see them, puzzled him.
He had a frank face, a frank voice, but queer opinions, or so it
seemed to, Pierson--little bits of Moslemism, little bits of the
backwoods, and the veldt; queer unexpected cynicisms, all sorts of
side views on England had lodged in him, and he did not hide them.
They came from him like bullets, in that frank voice, and drilled
little holes in the listener. Those critical sayings flew so much
more poignantly from one who had been through the same educational
mill as himself, than if they had merely come from some rough
diamond, some artist, some foreigner, even from a doctor like George.
And they always made him uncomfortable, like the touch of a prickly
leaf; they did not amuse him. Certainly Edward Pierson shrank from
the rough touches of a knock-about philosophy. After all, it was but
natural that he should.
He and Noel left after the first part of the concert, parting from
the other two at the door. He slipped his hand through her arm; and,
following out those thoughts of his in the concert-hall, asked:
"Do you like Captain Fort, Nollie?"
"Yes; he's a nice man."
"He seems a nice man, certainly; he has a nice smile, but strange
views, I'm afraid."
"He thinks the Germans are not much worse than we are; he says that a
good many of us are bullies too."
"Yes, that is the sort of thing I mean."
"But are we, Daddy?"
"A policeman I talked to once said the same. Captain Fort says that
very few men can stand having power put into their hands without
being spoiled. He told me some dreadful stories. He says we have no
imagination, so that we often do things without seeing how brutal
"We're not perfect, Nollie; but on the whole I think we're a kind
Noel was silent a moment, then said suddenly:
"Kind people often think others are kind too, when they really
aren't. Captain Fort doesn't make that mistake."
"I think he's a little cynical, and a little dangerous."
"Are all people dangerous who don't think like others, Daddy?"
Pierson, incapable of mockery, was not incapable of seeing when he
was being mocked. He looked at his daughter with a smile.
"Not quite so bad as that, Nollie; but Mr. Fort is certainly
subversive. I think perhaps he has seen too many queer sides of
"I like him the better for that."
"Well, well," Pierson answered absently. He had work to do in
preparation for a Confirmation Class, and sought his study on getting
Noel went to the dining-room to drink her hot milk. The curtains
were not drawn, and bright moonlight was coming in. Without lighting
up, she set the etna going, and stood looking at the moon-full for
the second time since she and Cyril had waited for it in the Abbey.
And pressing her hands to her breast, she shivered. If only she
could summon him from the moonlight out there; if only she were a
witch-could see him, know where he was, what doing! For a fortnight
now she had received no letter. Every day since he had left she had
read the casualty lists, with the superstitious feeling that to do so
would keep him out of them. She took up the Times. There was just
enough light, and she read the roll of honour--till the moon shone in
on her, lying on the floor, with the dropped journal....
But she was proud, and soon took grief to her room, as on that night
after he left her, she had taken love. No sign betrayed to the house
her disaster; the journal on the floor, and the smell of the burnt
milk which had boiled over, revealed nothing. After all, she was but
one of a thousand hearts which spent that moonlit night in agony.
Each night, year in, year out, a thousand faces were buried in
pillows to smother that first awful sense of desolation, and grope
for the secret spirit-place where bereaved souls go, to receive some
feeble touch of healing from knowledge of each other's trouble....
In the morning she got up from her sleepless bed, seemed to eat her
breakfast, and went off to her hospital. There she washed up plates
and dishes, with a stony face, dark under the eyes.
The news came to Pierson in a letter from Thirza, received at lunch-
time. He read it with a dreadful aching. Poor, poor little Nollie!
What an awful trouble for her! And he, too, went about his work with
the nightmare thought that he had to break the news to her that
evening. Never had he felt more lonely, more dreadfully in want of
the mother of his children. She would have known how to soothe, how
to comfort. On her heart the child could have sobbed away grief.
And all that hour, from seven to eight, when he was usually in
readiness to fulfil the functions of God's substitute to his
parishioners, he spent in prayer of his own, for guidance how to
inflict and heal this blow. When, at last, Noel came, he opened.
the door to her himself, and, putting back the hair from her
forehead, said: "Come in here a moment, my darling!" Noel followed
him into the study, and sat down. "I know already, Daddy." Pierson
was more dismayed by this stoicism than he would have been by any
natural out burst. He stood, timidly stroking her hair, murmuring to
her what he had said to Gratian, and to so many others in these days:
"There is no death; look forward to seeing him again; God is
merciful" And he marvelled at the calmness of that pale face--so
"You are very brave, my child!" he said.
"There's nothing else to be, is there?"
"Isn't there anything I can do for you, Nollie?"
"When did you see it?"
"Last night." She had already known for twenty-four hours without
"Have you prayed, my darling?"
"It would be ridiculous, Daddy; you don't know."
Grievously upset and bewildered, Pierson moved away from her, and
"You look dreadfully tired. Would you like a hot bath, and your
dinner in bed?"
"I'd like some tea; that's all." And she went out.
When he had seen that the tea had gone up to her, he too went out;
and, moved by a longing for woman's help, took a cab to Leila's flat.
On leaving the concert Leila and Jimmy Fort had secured a taxi; a
vehicle which, at night, in wartime, has certain advantages for those
who desire to become better acquainted. Vibration, sufficient noise,
darkness, are guaranteed; and all that is lacking for the furtherance
of emotion is the scent of honeysuckle and roses, or even of the
white flowering creeper which on the stoep at High Constantia had
smelled so much sweeter than petrol.
When Leila found herself with Fort in that loneliness to which she
had been looking forward, she was overcome by an access of nervous
silence. She had been passing through a strange time for weeks past.
Every night she examined her sensations without quite understanding
them as yet. When a woman comes to her age, the world-force is
liable to take possession, saying:
"You were young, you were beautiful, you still have beauty, you are
not, cannot be, old. Cling to youth, cling to beauty; take all you
can get, before your face gets lines and your hair grey; it is
impossible that you have been loved for the last time."
To see Jimmy Fort at the concert, talking to Noel, had brought this
emotion to a head. She was not of a grudging nature, and could
genuinely admire Noel, but the idea that Jimmy Fort might also admire
disturbed her greatly. He must not; it was not fair; he was too old-
-besides, the girl had her boy; and she had taken care that he should
know it. So, leaning towards him, while a bare-shouldered young lady
sang, she had whispered:
And he had whispered back:
"Tell you afterwards."
That had comforted her. She would make him take her home. It was
time she showed her heart.
And now, in the cab, resolved to make her feelings known, in sudden
shyness she found it very difficult. Love, to which for quite three
years she had been a stranger, was come to life within her. The
knowledge was at once so sweet, and so disturbing, that she sat with
face averted, unable to turn the precious minutes to account. They
arrived at the flat without having done more than agree that the
streets were dark, and the moon bright. She got out with a sense of
bewilderment, and said rather desperately:
"You must come up and have a cigarette. It's quite early, still."
He went up.
"Wait just a minute," said Leila.
Sitting there with his drink and his cigarette, he stared at some
sunflowers in a bowl--Famille Rose--and waited just ten; smiling a
little, recalling the nose of the fairy princess, and the dainty way
her lips shaped the words she spoke. If she had not had that lucky
young devil of a soldier boy, one would have wanted to buckle her
shoes, lay one's coat in the mud for her, or whatever they did in
fairytales. One would have wanted--ah! what would one not have
wanted! Hang that soldier boy! Leila said he was twenty-two. By
George! how old it made a man feel who was rising forty, and tender
on the off-fore! No fairy princesses for him! Then a whiff of
perfume came to his nostrils; and, looking up, he saw Leila standing
before him, in a long garment of dark silk, whence her white arms
"Another penny? Do you remember these things, Jimmy? The Malay
women used to wear them in Cape Town. You can't think what a relief
it is to get out of my slave's dress. Oh! I'm so sick of nursing!
Jimmy, I want to live again a little!"
The garment had taken fifteen years off her age, and a gardenia, just
where the silk crossed on her breast, seemed no whiter than her skin.
He wondered whimsically whether it had dropped to her out of the
"Live?" he said. "Why! Don't you always?"
She raised her hands so that the dark silk fell, back from the whole
length of those white arms.
"I haven't lived for two years. Oh, Jimmy! Help me to live a
little! Life's so short, now."
Her eyes disturbed him, strained and pathetic; the sight of her arms;
the scent of the flower disturbed him; he felt his cheeks growing
warm, and looked down.
She slipped suddenly forward on to her knees at his feet, took his
hand, pressed it with both of hers, and murmured:
"Love me a little! What else is there? Oh! Jimmy, what else is
And with the scent of the flower, crushed by their hands, stirring
his senses, Fort thought: 'Ah, what else is there, in these forsaken
To Jimmy Fort, who had a sense of humour, and was in some sort a
philosopher, the haphazard way life settled things seldom failed to
seem amusing. But when he walked away from Leila's he was pensive.
She was a good sort, a pretty creature, a sportswoman, an
enchantress; but--she was decidedly mature. And here he was--
involved in helping her to "live"; involved almost alarmingly, for
there had been no mistaking the fact that she had really fallen in
love with him.
This was flattering and sweet. Times were sad, and pleasure scarce,
but--! The roving instinct which had kept him, from his youth up,
rolling about the world, shied instinctively at bonds, however
pleasant, the strength and thickness of which he could not gauge; or,
was it that perhaps for the first time in his life he had been
peeping into fairyland of late, and this affair with Leila was by no
means fairyland? He had another reason, more unconscious, for
uneasiness. His heart, for all his wanderings, was soft, he had
always found it difficult to hurt anyone, especially anyone who did
him the honour to love him. A sort of presentiment weighed on him
while he walked the moonlit streets at this most empty hour, when
even the late taxis had ceased to run. Would she want him to marry
her? Would it be his duty, if she did? And then he found himself
thinking of the concert, and that girl's face, listening to the tales
he was telling her. 'Deuced queer world,' he thought, 'the way
things go! I wonder what she would think of us, if she knew--and
that good padre! Phew!'
He made such very slow progress, for fear of giving way in his leg,
and having to spend the night on a door-step, that he had plenty of
time for rumination; but since it brought him no confidence whatever,
he began at last to feel: 'Well; it might be a lot worse. Take the
goods the gods send you and don't fuss!' And suddenly he remembered
with extreme vividness that night on the stoep at High Constantia,
and thought with dismay: 'I could have plunged in over head and ears
then; and now--I can't! That's life all over! Poor Leila! Me
miserum, too, perhaps--who knows!'
When Leila opened her door to Edward Pierson, her eyes were smiling,
and her lips were soft. She seemed to smile and be soft all over,
and she took both his hands. Everything was a pleasure to her that
day, even the sight of this sad face. She was in love and was loved
again; had a present and a future once more, not only her own full
past; and she must finish with Edward in half an hour, for Jimmy was
coming. She sat down on the divan, took his hand in a sisterly way,
"Tell me, Edward; I can see you're in trouble. What is it?"
"Noel. The boy she was fond of has been killed."
She dropped his hand.
"Oh, no! Poor child! It's too cruel!" Tears started up in her grey
eyes, and she touched them with a tiny handkerchief. "Poor, poor
little Noel! Was she very fond of him?"
"A very sudden, short engagement; but I'm afraid she takes it
desperately to heart. I don't know how to comfort her; only a woman
could. I came to ask you: Do you think she ought to go on with her
work? What do you think, Leila? I feel lost!"
Leila, gazing at him, thought: 'Lost? Yes, you look lost, my poor
"I should let her go on," she said: "it helps; it's the only thing
that does help. I'll see if I can get them to let her come into the
wards. She ought to be in touch with suffering and the men; that
kitchen work will try her awfully just now: Was he very young?"
"Yes. They wanted to get married. I was opposed to it."
Leila's lip curled ever so little. 'You would be!' she thought.
"I couldn't bear to think of Nollie giving herself hastily, like
that; they had only known each other three weeks. It was very hard
for me, Leila. And then suddenly he was sent to the front."
Resentment welled up in Leila. The kill-Joys! As if life didn't
kill joy fast enough! Her cousin's face at that moment was almost
abhorrent to her, its gentle perplexed goodness darkened and warped
by that monkish look. She turned away, glanced at the clock over the
hearth, and thought: 'Yes, and he would stop Jimmy and me! He would
say: "Oh, no! dear Leila--you mustn't love--it's sin!" How I hate
"I think the most dreadful thing in life," she said abruptly, "is the
way people suppress their natural instincts; what they suppress in
themselves they make other people suppress too, if they can; and
that's the cause of half the misery in this world."
Then at the surprise on his face at this little outburst, whose cause
he could not know, she added hastily: "I hope Noel will get over it
quickly, and find someone else."
"Yes. If they had been married--how much worse it would have been.
Thank God, they weren't!"
"I don't know. They would have had an hour of bliss. Even an hour
of bliss is worth something in these days."
"To those who only believe in this 'life--perhaps."
'Ten minutes more!' she thought: 'Oh, why doesn't he go?' But at that
very moment he got up, and instantly her heart went out to him again.
"I'm so sorry, Edward. If I can help in any way--I'll try my best
with Noel to-morrow; and do come to me whenever you feel inclined."
She took his hand in hers; afraid that he would sit down again, she
yet could not help a soft glance into his eyes, and a little rush of
pitying warmth in the pressure of her hand.
Pierson smiled; the smile which always made her sorry for him.
"Good-bye, Leila; you're very good and kind to me. Good-bye."
Her bosom swelled with relief and compassion; and--she let him out.
Running upstairs again she thought: 'I've just time. What shall I
put on? Poor Edward, poor Noel! What colour does Jimmy like? Oh!
Why didn't I keep him those ten years ago--what utter waste!' And,
feverishly adorning herself, she came back to the window, and stood
there in the dark to watch, while some jasmine which grew below sent
up its scent to her. 'Would I marry him?' she thought, 'if he asked
me? But he won't ask me--why should he now? Besides, I couldn't
bear him to feel I wanted position or money from him. I only want
love--love--love!' The silent repetition of that word gave her a
wonderful sense of solidity and comfort. So long as she only wanted
love, surely he would give it.
A tall figure turned down past the church, coming towards her. It
was he! And suddenly she bethought herself. She went to the little
black piano, sat down, and began to sing the song she had sung to him
ten years ago: "If I could be the falling dew and fall on thee all
day!" She did not even look round when he came in, but continued to
croon out the words, conscious of him just behind her shoulder in the
dark. But when she had finished, she got up and threw her arms round
him, strained him to her, and burst into tears on his shoulder;
thinking of Noel and that dead boy, thinking of the millions of other
boys, thinking of her own happiness, thinking of those ten years
wasted, of how short was life, and love; thinking--hardly knowing
what she thought! And Jimmy Fort, very moved by this emotion which
he only half understood, pressed her tightly in his arms, and kissed
her wet cheeks and her neck, pale and warm in the darkness.
Noel went on with her work for a month, and then, one morning,
fainted over a pile of dishes. The noise attracted attention, and
Mrs. Lynch was summoned.
The sight of her lying there so deadly white taxed Leila's nerves
severely. But the girl revived quickly, and a cab was sent for.
Leila went with her, and told the driver to stop at Camelot Mansions.
Why take her home in this state, why not save the jolting, and let
her recover properly? They went upstairs arm in arm. Leila made her
lie down on the divan, and put a hot-water bottle to her feet. Noel
was still so passive and pale that even to speak to her seemed a
cruelty. And, going to her little sideboard, Leila stealthily
extracted a pint bottle of some champagne which Jimmy Fort had sent
in, and took it with two glasses and a corkscrew into her bedroom.
She drank a little herself, and came out bearing a glass to the girl.
Noel shook her head, and her eyes seemed to say: "Do you really think
I'm so easily mended?" But Leila had been through too much in her
time to despise earthly remedies, and she held it to the girl's lips
until she drank. It was excellent champagne, and, since Noel had
never yet touched alcohol, had an instantaneous effect. Her eyes
brightened; little red spots came up in her cheeks. And suddenly she
rolled over and buried her face deep in a cushion. With her short
hair, she looked so like a child lying there, that Leila knelt down,
stroking her head, and saying: "There, there; my love! There,
At last the girl raised herself; now that the pallid, masklike
despair of the last month was broken, she seemed on fire, and her
face had a wild look. She withdrew herself from Leila's touch,
and, crossing her arms tightly across her chest, said:
"I can't bear it; I can't sleep. I want him back; I hate life--
I hate the world. We hadn't done anything--only just loved each
other. God likes punishing; just because we loved each other; we had
only one day to love each other--only one day--only one!"
Leila could see the long white throat above those rigid arms
straining and swallowing; it gave her a choky feeling to watch it.
The voice, uncannily dainty for all the wildness of the words and
face, went on:
"I won't--I don't want to live. If there's another life, I shall go
to him. And if there isn't--it's just sleep."
Leila put out her hand to ward of these wild wanderings. Like most
women who live simply the life of their senses and emotions, she was
orthodox; or rather never speculated on such things.
"Tell me about yourself and him," she said.
Noel fastened her great eyes on her cousin. "We loved each other;
and children are born, aren't they, after you've loved? But mine
won't be!" From the look on her face rather than from her words, the
full reality of her meaning came to Leila, vanished, came again.
Nonsense! But--what an awful thing, if true! That which had always
seemed to her such an exaggerated occurrence in the common walks of
life--why! now, it was a tragedy! Instinctively she raised herself
and put her arms round the girl.
"My poor dear!" she said; "you're fancying things!"
The colour had faded out of Noel's face, and, with her head thrown
back and her eyelids half-closed, she looked like a scornful young
"If it is--I shan't live. I don't mean to--it's easy to die.
I don't mean Daddy to know."
"Oh! my dear, my dear!" was all Leila could stammer.
"Was it wrong, Leila?"
"Wrong? I don't know--wrong? If it really is so--it was--
unfortunate. But surely, surely--you're mistaken?"
Noel shook her head. "I did it so that we should belong to each
other. Nothing could have taken him from me."
Leila caught at the girl's words.
"Then, my dear--he hasn't quite gone from you, you see?"
Noel's lips formed a "No" which was inaudible. "But Daddy!" she
Edward's face came before Leila so vividly that she could hardly see
the girl for the tortured shape of it. Then the hedonist in her
revolted against that ascetic vision. Her worldly judgment condemned
and deplored this calamity, her instinct could not help applauding
that hour of life and love, snatched out of the jaws of death. "Need
he ever know?" she said.
"I could never lie to Daddy. But it doesn't matter. Why should one
go on living, when life is rotten?"
Outside the sun was shining brightly, though it was late October.
Leila got up from her knees. She stood at the window thinking hard.
"My dear," she said at last, "you mustn't get morbid. Look at me!
I've had two husbands, and--and--well, a pretty stormy up and down
time of it; and I daresay I've got lots of trouble before me. But
I'm not going to cave in. Nor must you. The Piersons have plenty of
pluck; you mustn't be a traitor to your blood. That's the last
thing. Your boy would have told you to stick it. These are your
'trenches,' and you're not going to be downed, are you?"
After she had spoken there was a long silence, before Noel said:
"Give me a cigarette, Leila."
Leila produced the little flat case she carried.
"That's brave," she said. "Nothing's incurable at your age. Only
one thing's incurable--getting old."
Noel laughed. "That's curable too, isn't it?"
"Not without surrender."
Again there was a silence, while the blue fume from two cigarettes
fast-smoked, rose towards the low ceiling. Then Noel got up from the
divan, and went over to the piano. She was still in her hospital
dress of lilac-coloured linen, and while she stood there touching the
keys, playing a chord now, and then, Leila's heart felt hollow from
compassion; she was so happy herself just now, and this child so very
"Play to me," she said; "no--don't; I'll play to you." And sitting
down, she began to play and sing a little French song, whose first
line ran: "Si on est jolie, jolie comme vous." It was soft, gay,
charming. If the girl cried, so much the better. But Noel did not
cry. She seemed suddenly to have recovered all her self-possession.
She spoke calmly, answered Leila's questions without emotion, and
said she would go home. Leila went out with her, and walked some way
in the direction of her home; distressed, but frankly at a loss. At
the bottom of Portland Place Noel stopped and said: "I'm quite all
right now, Leila; thank you awfully. I shall just go home and lie
down. And I shall come to-morrow, the same as usual. Goodbye!"
Leila could only grasp the girl's hand, and say: "My dear, that's
splendid. There's many a slip--besides, it's war-time."
With that saying, enigmatic even to herself, she watched the girl
moving slowly away; and turned back herself towards her hospital,
with a disturbed and compassionate heart.
But Noel did not go east; she walked down Regent Street. She had
received a certain measure of comfort, been steadied by her
experienced cousin's vitality, and the new thoughts suggested by
those words: "He hasn't quite gone from you, has he?" "Besides, it's
war-time." Leila had spoken freely, too, and the physical ignorance
in which the girl had been groping these last weeks was now removed.
Like most proud natures, she did not naturally think much about the
opinion of other people; besides, she knew nothing of the world, its
feelings and judgments. Her nightmare was the thought of her
father's horror and grief. She tried to lessen that nightmare by
remembering his opposition to her marriage, and the resentment she
had felt. He had never realised, never understood, how she and Cyril
loved. Now, if she were really going to have a child, it would be
Cyril's--Cyril's son--Cyril over again. The instinct stronger than
reason, refinement, tradition, upbringing, which had pushed her on in
such haste to make sure of union--the irrepressible pulse of life
faced with annihilation--seemed to revive within her, and make her
terrible secret almost precious. She had read about "War babies" in
the papers, read with a dull curiosity; but now the atmosphere, as it
were, of those writings was illumined for her. These babies were
wrong, were a "problem," and yet, behind all that, she seemed now to
know that people were glad of them; they made up, they filled the
gaps. Perhaps, when she had one, she would be proud, secretly proud,
in spite of everyone, in spite of her father! They had tried to kill
Cyril--God and everyone; but they hadn't been able, he was alive
within her! A glow came into her face, walking among the busy
shopping crowd, and people turned to look at her; she had that
appearance of seeing no one, nothing, which is strange and attractive
to those who have a moment to spare from contemplation of their own
affairs. Fully two hours she wandered thus, before going in, and
only lost that exalted feeling when, in her own little room, she had
taken up his photograph, and was sitting on her bed gazing at it.
She had a bad breakdown then. Locked in there, she lay on her bed,
crying, dreadfully lonely, till she fell asleep exhausted, with the
tear-stained photograph clutched in her twitching fingers. She woke
with a start. It was dark, and someone was knocking on her door.
Childish perversity kept her silent. Why couldn't they leave her
alone? They would leave her alone if they knew. Then she heard
another kind of knocking, and her father's voice:
"Nollie! Nollie !"
She scrambled up, and opened. He looked scared, and her heart smote
"It's all right, Daddy; I was asleep."
"My dear, I'm sorry, but dinner's ready."
"I don't want any dinner; I think I'll go to bed."
The frown between his brows deepened.
"You shouldn't lock your door, Nollie: I was quite frightened. I
went round to the hospital to bring you home, and they told me about
your fainting. I want you to see a doctor."
Noel shook her head vigorously. "Oh, no! It's nothing!"
"Nothing? To faint like that? Come, my child. To please me." He
took her face in his hands. Noel shrank away.
"No, Daddy. I won't see a doctor. Extravagance in wartime! I
won't. It's no good trying to make me. I'll come down if you like;
I shall be all right to-morrow."
With this Pierson had to be content; but, often that evening, she saw
him looking at her anxiously. And when she went up, he came out of
his study, followed to her room, and insisted on lighting her fire.
Kissing her at the door, he said very quietly:
"I wish I could be a mother to you, my child!"
For a moment it flashed through Noel: 'He knows!' then, by the
puzzled look on his face, she knew that he did not. If only he did
know; what a weight it would be off her mind! But she answered
quietly too; "Good night, Daddy dear!" kissed him, and shut the door.
She sat down before the little new fire, and spread her hands out to