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The Captives by Hugh Walpole

Part 5 out of 11

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"Does he? . . . Yes, I remember. He spoke to me about it."

"Of course it's simply his infernal cheek . . ."

Mr. Warlock sighed. "I don't know, I'm sure. Amy seemed to wish it."

Martin felt then more strongly than before the Something that drove
him. It said to him: "Now, then . . . here's a thing for you to make
a row about--a big row. And then you can go off with Maggie." But,
on the other hand, there was Something that said: "Don't hurt him.
Don't hurt him. You may regret it all your life if . . ."

If what? He didn't know. He was always threatened with regretting
things all his life. The blow was always going to fall. And that
pleasant very British phrase came back to him, "He would put his
foot down"--however--he was very angry--very angry.

He burst out: "Oh, but that's absurd, father. Impossible--utterly.
Thurston in the family? Why, you must see yourself how monstrous it
would be. Amy's got some silly, sentimental whim and she's got to be
told that it won't do. If you ask me, I don't think Amy's improved
much since I was away. But that's not the question. The idea of
Thurston's disgusting. You can't seriously consider it for a minute
. . ."

"Why is Thurston disgusting, my boy?"

Martin hated to be called "my boy"--it made him feel so young and

"You've only got to look at him!" Martin jumped up, disregarding his
father's hand, and began to stamp about the room. "He's a cad--he's
not your friend, father. He isn't, really. He'd like to out you from
the whole thing if he could. He thinks you're old-fashioned and
behind the times, and all he thinks about is bringing in
subscriptions and collecting new converts. He's like one of those
men who beat drums outside tents in a fair . . . He's a sickening
man! He doesn't believe in his religion or anything else. I should
think he's crooked about money, and immoral probably too. You're
much too innocent, father. You're so good and trustful yourself that
you don't know how these fellows are doing you in. There's a regular
plot against you and they'd be most awfully pleased if you were to
retire. They're not genuine like you. They simply use the Chapel for
self-advertisement and making money. Of course there are some
genuine ones like the Miss Cardinals, but Thurston's an absolute
swindler . . ."

He stopped short at that. He had said more than he had intended and
he was frightened suddenly. He swung round on his heel and looked at
his father.

"Come here, Martin." He came across the room. "Closer. Now, tell me.
We're good friends, aren't we?"

"Of course, father."

He put his hand on his son's shoulder. "Do you know that I love you
more than anything in the whole world? More, I'm sometimes terribly
afraid, than God Himself. I can't help myself. I love you, Martin,
so that it's like hunger or thirst . . . It's the only earthly
passion that I've ever had. And I'll tell you another thing. It's
the one terror of my earthly life that you'll leave me. Now that
I've got you back I'm afraid every time you go out of the house that
you'll run away, round the corner, and never come back again. I love
you and I'm not going to let you go again.--Not until--until--the
Time has come . . . What does it matter to you and me what Thurston
and Amy do? God will come and He will find us both together--you and
I--and He will take us up and keep us together and we shall never be
separated any more . . . I love your strength, Martin, your
happiness, your youth--all the things I've never had. And you're not
going to leave me, not though Amy married a hundred Thurstons . . ."

Mr. Warlock's grip on his son's shoulder was iron.

Martin bent down and sat on the arm of his dusty leather chair to
bring himself on to the same level. He put his arm round his father
and drew him close to him. Maggie, Life, Money, Adventure--
everything seemed to draw away from him and he saw himself, a little
boy, pattering on bare feet down the aisle towards the font--just as
though a spell had been cast over him.

They sat close together in silence. Then slowly the thought of
Thurston came back again. Martin drew away a little.

"All the same, father," he said, "Thurston mustn't marry Amy."

"They're only engaged. There's no question of marriage yet."

"Then they are engaged?" Martin drew right away, standing up again.

"Oh, yes, they're engaged."

"Then I'm not going to stand it. I tell you I won't stay here if
Thurston marries Amy."

Mr. Warlock sighed. "Well then, let's leave it, my boy. I daresay
they'll never marry."

"No. I won't have it. It's too serious to leave."

His father's voice was sharper suddenly.

"Well, we won't talk about it just now, Martin, if you don't mind."

"But I must. You can't leave a thing like that. Thurston will simply
own the place . . ."

"I tell you, Martin, to leave it alone." They were both angry now.

"And I tell you, father, that if you let Thurston marry Amy I leave
the house and never come back again."

"Isn't that rather selfish of you? You've been away all these years.
You've left us to ourselves. You come back suddenly without seeing
how we live or caring and then you dictate to us what we're to do.
How can you expect us to listen?"

"And how can you expect me to stay?" Martin broke into a torrent of
words: "I'm miserable here and you know that I am. Mother and Amy
hate me and you're always wrapped up in your religion. What kind of
a place is it for a fellow? I came back meaning that you and I
should be the best pals father and son have ever been, but you
wouldn't come out with me--you only wanted to drag me in. You tell
me always to wait for something. To wait for what? I don't know. And
nobody here does seem to know. And I can't wait for ever. I've got
to lead my own life and if you won't come with me I must go off by

He was following his own ideas now--not looking at his father at
all. "I've discovered since I've been home that I'm not the sort of
fellow to settle down. I suppose I shall go on wandering about all
my days. I'm not proud of myself, you know, father. I don't seem to
be much good to any one, but the trouble is I don't want to be much
better. I feel as though it wouldn't be much good if I did try. I
can't give up my own life--for nobody--not even for you--and however
rotten my own life is I'd rather lead it than some one else's."

He stopped and then went on quietly, as though he were arguing
something out with himself: "The strange thing is that I do feel
this place has got a kind of a hold on me. When you remind me of
what I was like as a kid I go right back and feel helpless as though
you could do anything with me you like. All the same I don't believe
in this business, father--all this Second Coming and the rest of it.
We're in the Twentieth Century now, you know, and everybody knows
that that kind of thing is simply impossible. Only an old maid or
two . . . Why, I don't believe you believe in it really, father.
That's why you're so keen on making me believe. But I don't; it's no
use. You can't make me. I don't believe there's any God at all. If
there were a God he'd let a fellow have more free will . . ."

He was interrupted by an extraordinary cry. He turned to see his
father standing, one hand pressed back on the chair, his face white,
his eyes black and empty, like sightless eyes.

"Martin! That's blasphemy! . . . Take care! Take care! . . . Oh, my
son, my son! . . ."

Then he suddenly collapsed backwards, crouching on to the chair as
though he were trying to flee from some danger. Martin sprang
towards him. He caught him round the body, holding him to him--
something was leaping like a furious animal inside his father's

"What is it?" he cried, desperately frightened.

"It's my heart," Warlock answered in a voice very soft and distant.
"Bad . . . Excitement . . . Ring that bell . . . Amy . . ."

A moment later Amy entered. She came quickly into the room, she said
nothing--only gave Martin one look.

She gave her father something from a little bottle, kneeling in
front of him.

At last she turned to her brother. "You'd better go," she said. "You
can do nothing here."

Miserable, repentant, feeling as though he had no place in the world
and yet eager too to defend himself, he left the room.



Maggie had a week.

She did not need it. From the first half-hour after Martin's leaving
her her mind was made up. This question of marriage did not, on
further reflection, very greatly disturb her. She had known, in her
time, a number of married people and they had been invariably
unhappy and quarrelsome. The point seemed to be that you should be,
in some way, near the person whom you loved, and she had only loved
one person in all her life, and intended never to love another. Even
this question of love was not nearly so tangled for her as it would
be for any more civilised person. She knew very little about
marriage and only in the most sordid fashion about sexual relations
which were definitely connected in her mind with drunken peasants
and her father's cook. They had nothing at all to do with Martin.

The opinion of the world was an unknown factor in her vision, she
only knew of the opinion of her aunts and Miss Warlock and with
these she was already in rebellion.

She would have been in great trouble had she supposed that this
woman still loved Martin and needed him, but that, from what Martin
had said, was obviously not so. No, it was all quite clear. They
would escape together, out of this tangle of unnatural mysteries and
warnings, and live happily for ever after in the country.

As to Martin's self-portrait, that did not greatly distress her. She
had never supposed that he or any one else was "good." She had never
known a "good" person. Nor did it occur to her, in her pristine
state of savagery, that you loved any one the less for their
drawbacks. She would rather be with Martin at his worst than with
any one else at their best--that was all.

Half-an-hour was enough time to settle the whole affair. She then
waited patiently until the end of the week. She did not quite know
how she would arrange a meeting, but that would, she expected,
arrange itself.

Two events occurred that filled her mind and made the week pass
quickly. One was that she received an answer to her adventurous
letter, the other was a remarkable conversation with Miss Caroline
Smith. The answer to her letter was lying on her plate when she came
down to breakfast, and Aunt Elizabeth was watching it with an
excited stare.

It read as follows:



Of course I remember you perfectly. I wondered whether you would
write to me one day. I am married now and live most of the year in
London. Would you come and see me at Bryanston Square? I am nearly
always at home at tea-time. If you are free would you perhaps come
next Friday?

It will be so nice to see you again.

Yours sincerely,

KATHERINE MARK. "You've got a letter, dear. Your aunt isn't quite so
well this morning, I'm afraid. Scrambled eggs."

"Yes," she looked her aunt in the face without any confusion. How
strangely her decision about Martin had altered her relationship now
to every one! What did it matter whether any one were angry? "I
ought to have told you, Aunt Elizabeth. I wrote about a fortnight
ago to a lady who came once to see us at home. She was a Miss
Trenchard then. She said that if ever I wanted any help I was to
write to her. So I have written--to ask her whether she can find me
any work to do, and she has asked me to go and see her."

"Work," said Aunt Elizabeth. "But you won't go away while your
aunt's so ill."

Wouldn't she? Maggie didn't know so much about that.

"I want to be independent," said Maggie, trying to fix Aunt
Elizabeth's eyes. "It isn't fair that I should be a burden to you."

"You're no burden, dear." Aunt Elizabeth looked uneasily round the
room. "Your aunt depends on you."

"Depends on me for what?"

"For everything."

"Then she oughtn't to, Aunt Elizabeth, I've said it again and again.
I'm not fit for any one to depend on. I'm forgetful and careless and
untidy. You know I am. And I'm different from every one here. I'm
very grateful to Aunt Anne, but I'm not good enough for her to
depend on."

Aunt Elizabeth blinked nervously.

"She's got very little. You mustn't take away all she has."

"I'm not all she has," answered Maggie, knowing that she was
becoming excited and cross. "I don't belong to any one except
myself." "And Martin" her soul whispered. Then she added, suddenly
moved by remorse as she looked at Aunt Elizabeth's meek and
trembling face, "You're so good to me, both of you, and I'm so bad.
I'll give you anything but my freedom."

"You talk so strangely, dear," said Aunt Elizabeth. "But there are
so many things I don't understand."

Maggie took the letter up to her bedroom and there read it a number
of times. It all seemed wonderful to her, the stamped blue address,
the rich white square notepaper, and above all the beautiful
handwriting. She thought of her own childish scrawl and blushed, she
even sat down, there and then, at her dressing-table and, with a
pencil, began to imitate some of the letters.

On Friday! To-day was Tuesday. Bryanston Square. Wherever was
Bryanston Square, and how would she find it? She determined to ask
Caroline Smith.

She had not long to wait for her opportunity. On Wednesday evening
about half-past five Miss Smith poked her head into the Cardinal
drawing-room to discover Maggie sitting with her hands on her lap
looking down on to the street.

"Are your aunts anywhere?" asked Caroline.

"No," said Maggie. "Aunt Anne's in bed and Aunt Elizabeth's at Miss

"That's right," said Caroline, "because I haven't seen you, darling,
for ages."

"The day before yesterday," said Maggie.

"You're a literal pet," said Caroline kissing her. "I always
exaggerate, of course, and it's so sweet of you to tell me about
it." She rushed off to the fire and spread out her blue skirt and
dangled her feet.

"Isn't it cold and dark? You funny dear, not to have the blinds down
and to sit staring into the beastly street like that . . . I believe
you're in love."

Maggie came to herself with a start, got up and slowly went over to
the fire.

"Caroline, where's Bryanston Square?"

"Oh, you pet, don't you know where Bryanston Square is?"

cried Caroline suddenly fixing her bright eyes upon Maggie with
burning curiosity.

"If I did I wouldn't ask," said Maggie.

"Quite right--neither you would. Well, it's near Marble Arch."

"But I don't know where the Marble Arch is."

"Lord!" cried Caroline. "And she's been in London for months. You
really are a pet. Well, what you'd better do is to get into the
first taxi you see and just say 'Bryanston Square.'"

How stupid of her! She might have thought of that for herself.

"Is there a park near Bryanston Square?" she asked.

"Yes. Of course--Hyde Park."

"And is it open at six?"

"Of course. You can't shut Hyde Park."


Maggie pursued her thoughts. Caroline watched her with intense

"What do you want with a Park, you darling?" she asked at last.

"Oh, nothing," said Maggie, slowly. Then she went on, laughing:
"I've been asked out to tea--for the first time in my life. And I'm
terribly frightened."

"How exciting!" said Caroline clapping her hands. "Who's it with?"

"It's a Mrs. Mark. She was a Miss Trenchard. She used to live in
Glebeshire. She's going to find me some work to do."

"Work!" cried Caroline. "Aren't you going to stay with your aunts

"I want to be independent," said Maggie slowly.

"Well!" said Caroline, amazed.

Could Maggie have seen just then into Miss Smith's mind and could
she only have realised that, with Miss Smith, every action and
intention in the human heart pivoted upon love-affairs and love-
affairs only, she might have been warned and have saved much later
trouble. She was intent on her own plans and was thinking of
Caroline only as a possible agent.

"Caroline," she asked, "would you take a note for me to some one?"

"Of course," said Caroline. "Who is it?"

"Martin Warlock," said Maggie.

At the name she suddenly blushed crimson. She knew that Caroline was
looking at her with eager curiosity. She suspected then that she had
done something foolish and would have given anything to recall her
words, but to recall them now seemed only to make it the more

"It's only something his sister wanted to know," she said casually.
"I thought you'd be seeing him soon. I hardly ever do."

"Yes, I'm going up there to-night," said Caroline staring at Maggie.
"Well, I'll give it you before you go," then she went on as casually
as she could. "What's been happening lately?"

"Of course you know all about the excitement," said Caroline sitting
back in the faded arm-chair with her blue dress spread all about her
like a cloud.

"What excitement?" said Maggie, pulling herself up, with a desperate
struggle, from her own private adventures.

"What! you don't know ?" Caroline exclaimed in an awed whisper.

"Know what?" Maggie asked, rather crossly, repenting more and more
of asking Caroline to carry her note.

"Why, where DO you live? . . . All about Mr. Warlock and his

"I've heard nothing at all," said Maggie.

This was unexpected joy to Caroline, who had never imagined that
there would be any one so near the Inner Saints as Maggie who yet
knew nothing about these recent events.

"Do you really know nothing about it?"

"Nothing," said Maggie.

"Aren't you wonderful?" said Caroline. "What happened was this.
About three weeks ago Mr. Warlock had a vision in the middle of the
night. He saw God at about three in the morning."

"How did he see God?" asked Maggie, awed in spite of herself.

Caroline's voice dropped to a mysterious whisper. "He just woke up
and there God was at the end of the bed. Of course he's not spoken
to me about it, but apparently there was a blaze of light and
Something in the middle. And then a voice spoke and told Mr. Warlock
that on the last night of this year everything would be fulfilled."

"What did He mean?" asked Maggie.

"Different people think He meant different things," said Caroline.
"Of course there's most fearful excitement about it. Mr. Warlock's
had two since."

"Two what?" asked Maggie.

"Two visions. Just like the first. The blazing light and the voice
and telling him that the last night of the year's to be the time."
Caroline then began to be carried away by her excitement. She talked
faster and faster. "Oh! You don't know what a state every one's in!
It's causing all sorts of divisions. First there are all his own
real believers. Miss Pyncheon, your aunts, and the others. My
father's one. They all believe every word he says. They're all quite
certain that the last day of this year is to be the time of the
Second Coming. They won't any of them, look a minute further than
that. Father doesn't care a bit now what mother does with the money
because, he says, we shan't want any next year. Mother isn't so sure
so she's taking as much care of it as ever, and of course it's nice
for her now to have it all in her own hands. They're all of them
doing everything to make themselves ready. It doesn't matter how
aggravating you are, father never loses his temper now. He's so
sweet that it's maddening. Haven't you noticed how good your aunts

"They're always the same," said Maggie.

"Well. I expect they're different really. Then there's the middle-
class like Mr. Thurston and Miss Avies who pretend to believe all
that Mr. Warlock says, but of course, they don't believe a word of
it, and they hope that this will prove his ruin. They know there
won't be any Second Coming on New Year's Eve, and then they think he
will be finished and they'll be able to get rid of him. So they're
encouraging him to believe in all this, and then when the moment
comes they'll turn on him!"

"Beasts!" said Maggie suddenly.

"Well, I daresay you're right," said Caroline. "Only it does make me
laugh, all of it. Thurston and Miss Avies have all their plans made,
only now they're quarrelling because Thurston wants to marry Amy
Warlock and Miss Avies meant him to marry her!"

"Is Mr. Thurston going to marry Miss Warlock?" cried Maggie.

"So they say," said Caroline again watching Maggie curiously. "Well,
anyway, Miss Avies is the strongest of the lot really. I'd back her
against anybody. I'm terrified of her myself, I tell you frankly.
She'd wring any one's neck for twopence. Oh yes, she would! . . .
Then there are the third lot who simply don't believe in Mr.
Warlock's visions at all and just laugh at him. People like Miss
Smythe and Mrs. Bellaston. A lot of them are leaving the chapel. Mr.
Warlock won't listen to anybody. He's getting stranger and stranger,
and his heart's so bad they say he might die any day if he had a
shock. Then he's always quarrelling with Martin."

Caroline suddenly stopped. She looked at Maggie.

"Martin's a terrible trial to his father," she said.

But Maggie was secure now.

"Is he?" she asked indifferently. Then she added slowly, "What do
you believe, Caroline?"

"What do I believe?"

"Yes, about Mr. Warlock's visions."

"Oh, of course, it's only because he's ill and prays for hours
without getting off his knees, and won't eat enough, that he sees
things. And yet I don't know. There may be something in it. If I
were on my knees for weeks I'd never see anything. But I'll be
terribly sorry for Mr. Warlock if the time comes and nothing
happens. He'll just have to go."

They sat a little longer together and then Caroline said: "Well,
darling, I must be off. Where's that note?" She hesitated, looking
at Maggie with a wicked gleam in her pale blue eyes. "You know,
Maggie, I can't make up my mind. I've had an offer of marriage."

"I'm so glad, Caroline," said Maggie.

"Yes, but I don't know what to do. It's a man--Mr. Purdie. His
father's ever so rich and they've got a big place down at Skeaton."

"Where's that?" asked Maggie.

"Oh, don't you know? Skeaton-on-Sea. It's a seaside resort. I've
known William for a long time. His father knows father. He came to
tea last week, and proposed. He's rather nice although he's so

"Why don't you marry him then?" asked Maggie.

"Well, I know Martin Warlock's going to ask me. It's been getting
closer and closer. I expect he will this week. Of course, he isn't
so safe as William, but he's much more exciting. And he's got quite
a lot of money of his own."

Strange, the sure, confident, happy security that Maggie felt in her
heart at this announcement.

"I should wait for Martin Warlock," she said. "He'd be rather fun to

"Do you think so?" answered Caroline. "Do you know, I believe I
will. You're always right, you darling . . . Only suppose I should
miss them both. William won't wait for ever! Got that note, dear?"

Maggie was defiant. She would just show the creature that she wasn't
afraid of her. She'd give her the note and she might imagine what
she pleased.

She got a pencil and a piece of paper and wrote hurriedly.

The week is up on Friday. Will you meet me that evening at a quarter
past six under the Marble Arch? MAGGIE.

The boldness, the excitement of this inflamed her. It was so like
her to challenge any action once she was in it by taking it to its
furthest limit. She put it in an envelope and wrote Martin's name
with a flourish.

"There!" she said, giving it to Caroline.

"Thank you," said Caroline, and with a number of rather wet and
elaborate kisses (Maggie hated kissing) departed.

But her afternoon was not yet over; hardly had Caroline left when
the door was opened and Miss Avies was shown in. Maggie started up
with dismay and began to stammer excuses. Miss Avies brushed them

"It doesn't matter," she said. "You'll do as well--even, it may be,

A strange woman Miss Avies! Maggie had, of course, seen her at
Chapel, but this was the first time that they had been alone
together. Miss Avies was like a thin rod of black metal, erect and
quivering and waiting to strike. Her long sallow face was stiff, not
with outraged virtue, or elaborate pride, or burning scorn, but
simply with the accumulated concentration of fiery determination.
She was the very symbol of self-centred energy, inhuman, cold,
relentless. Her hair was jet black and gleamed like steel, and she
had thick black eyebrows like ink-marks against her forehead of
parchment. Her eyes were dead, like glass eyes, and she had some
false teeth that sometimes clicked in her mouth. She wore a black
dress with no ornament and thin black gloves.

She did not seem, however, to Maggie unkindly, as she stood there,
looking about the room rather short-sightedly. (She would not wear
glasses. Could it have been vanity?) She was not hostile, nor
scornful, nor even patronising . . . but had Maggie been struck
there, dead at her feet she would not have moved a step to help her.
Her voice was ugly, with a crack in it, as though it needed oil.
Maggie, as she looked at her, did not need to be told that she did
not believe in Mr. Warlock's mysticism. She came across and shook
Maggie's hand. Her touch was cold and stiff and a little damp like
that of a wet stone.

"Sorry your Aunt's out," she said, "but I can talk to you for a
while." She looked at Maggie for a moment. Then she said:

"Why don't you clear out of all this?"

The voice was so abrupt and the words so unexpected that Maggie

"Why don't I?" she repeated.

"Yes, you," said Miss Avies. "You've no place here in all this
business. You don't believe in it, do you?"

"No," said Maggie.

"And you don't want to use it for something you do believe in?"

"No," said Maggie. "Well then, clear out."

Maggie, colouring a little, said:

"My aunts have been very good to me. I oughtn't to leave them."

"Fiddlesticks," said Miss Avies. "Your life's your own, not your

She sat down and stayed bolt upright and motionless near the fire;
she flung a thin dark shadow like a stain on the wall. There was a
long pause between them. After that abrupt opening there seemed to
be nothing to say. Maggie's thoughts also were elsewhere. She was
wishing now passionately that she had not given that note to

Suddenly Miss Avies said, "What do you do with yourself all day?"

Maggie laughed. "Try and make myself less careless, Miss Avies."

Miss Avies replied, "You'll never make yourself less careless. We
are as we are."

"But don't you think," said Maggie, "that one can cure one's

"One gets rid of one only to make room for another . . . But that
doesn't matter. The point is that one should have an ambition.
What's your ambition, child?"

Maggie didn't answer. Her ambition was Martin, but she couldn't tell
Miss Avies so.

At last, after a long pause, as Miss Avies still seemed to be
waiting, she answered:

"I suppose that I want to earn my living--to be independent."

"Well, leave this place then," said Miss Avies. "There's no
independence here." Then added, as though to herself. "They think
they're looking for the face of God . . . It's only for themselves
and their vanity they're looking."

Maggie said, to break another of the long pauses that seemed to be
always forming between them:

"I think every one ought to earn their own living, don't you?"

Miss Avies shook her head. "You're very young--terribly young. I've
got no advice to give you except to lead a healthy life somewhere
away from these surroundings. We're an unnatural lot here and you're
a healthy young creature . . . Have you got a lover?"

Maggie smiled. "I've got a friend," she said. Miss Avies sighed.
"That's more than I've got," she said.

"Not that I've time for one," she added. She got up. "I won't wait
for your aunt," she said, "I've left a note downstairs . . . You
clear out as soon as you can, that's my advice to you."

She said good-bye, looking into Maggie's clear eyes. She was
suddenly less inhuman, the touch of her hand was warmer.

"Don't you cheat yourself into believing in the Deity," she said,
and was gone.

When Friday arrived Maggie had not seen Caroline again, and she
could not tell whether the note had been safely delivered or no. She
was not sure what she had better do. Caroline might hare done
anything with the note, torn it up, burnt it, lost it, forgotten it
altogether. Well, that was a risk that Maggie must take. If he did
not appear she would wait a little while and then come away. They
must soon meet in any case. They had all their lives before them.

Aunt Anne was up again--very, very pale now and so thin that the
light seemed to shine through her making her more of a stained
window saint than ever.

Maggie told her about the visit, Aunt Anne looked at her curiously.
She seemed so weak and frail that Maggie suddenly felt warm maternal
love. Rather shyly she put her hand upon her aunt's: "I won't go
away until you're better--"

Aunt Anne nodded her head.

"I know you won't, dear," she said. "Don't be out late to-day. We
shall be anxious about you."

Maggie had made a promise and was terrified when she thought of it.
Suppose her aunt did not get better for years and years?

People often had long lingering illnesses with no apparent change in
their condition. To Maggie a promise was an utterly final thing. She
could not dream that one ever broke one's word. She trembled now
when she thought of what she had done. She had been entrapped after
all and by her own free will.

In her little room as she was putting on her hat she suddenly prayed
to a God, of whom she knew nothing, that her aunt might get better

She started out on her great adventure with a strange self-assurance
as though loving Martin had given her the wisdom of all the ages.

Turning down the street towards the Strand she found almost at once
a taxi-cab drawn up, as though it had been waiting there especially
for her like an eloping coach in a romantic tale. A fat red-faced
fellow with a purple nose, a cloth cap and a familiar vague eye, as
though he always saw further than he intended, waited patiently for
her to speak.

Boldly, as though she had done such things all her life, she said,
"Fourteen Bryanston Square." Then she slipped in and was hidden from
the gay world. She sat there, her hands on her lap staring at the
three crimson rolls in the neck of her driver. She was thinking of
nothing, nothing at all. Did she struggle to think? Only words would
come, "Martin," or "Bryanston Square," or "cab," again and again,
words that did not mean anything but physical sensations. "Martin"
hot fire at the throat, "Bryanston Square" an iron rod down the
spine, and "cab" dust and ashes in the eyes.

She tried to look at herself in the little mirror opposite her, but
she could only catch the corner of her cheek and half her hat. But
she minded less about her appearance now. If Martin could love her
it did not matter what others thought--nevertheless she pulled her
hat about a little and patted her dress. The cab stopped and she
felt desperately lonely. Did any one care about her anywhere? No, no
one. She could have cried with pity at the thought of her own

"One and sixpence, Miss," said the cabman in so husky a voice.

She gave it to him.

"What's this?" he asked, looking at it.

"One and sixpence," she answered timidly, wondering at his sarcastic

"Oh well, o' course," he said, looking her all over.

She knew instinctively that he demanded more. She found another
sixpence. "Is that enough?" she asked.

He seemed ashamed.

"If I 'adn't a wife sick--" he began.

She ran up the high stone steps and rang a bell. The episode with
the driver had disturbed her terribly. It had shown in what a
foreign world she was. All her self-confidence was gone. She had to
take a pull at herself and say: "Why, Maggie, you might be ringing
the dentist's bell at this moment."

That helped her, and then the thought of Martin. She saw his boyish
smile and felt the warm touch of his rough hand. When the maid was
there instead of the green door, she almost said: "Is Martin in?"

But she behaved very well.

"Mrs. Mark?" she said in precisely the voice required.

The maid smiled and stood aside. And then into what a world she
entered! A world of comfort and reassurance, of homeliness and
kindliness, without parrots and fierce-eyed cats and swaying
pictures of armoured men--a world of urbanity and light and space.
There was a high white staircase with brown etchings in dark frames
on the white walls. There was a thick soft carpet and a friendly fat
grandfather clock. Many doors but none of them mysterious, all ready
to be opened.

She climbed the staircase and was shown into a room high and gaily
coloured and full of flowers. She saw the deep curtains, blue silk
shot with purple, the chairs of blue silk and a bowl of soft amber
light hanging from the ceiling. A mass of gold-red chrysanthemums
flamed against the curtains. Several people were gathered round a
tea-table near the fire.

She stood lost on the thick purple carpet under the amber light, all
too brilliant for her. She had come from a world of darkness, owl-
like she must blink before the blaze. Some one came forward to her,
some one so kind and comforting, so easy and unsurprised that Maggie
suddenly felt herself steadied as though a friend had put an arm
around her. Before she had felt: "This light--I am shabby." Now she
felt, "I am with friendly people." She was surprised at the way that
she was suddenly at her ease.

Mrs. Mark was not beautiful, but she had soft liquid eyes and her
hand that held Maggie's was firm and warm and strong.

"Let me introduce you," said Mrs. Mark. "That is Miss Trenchard, and
that Mr. Trenchard. This is my husband. Philip, this is Miss

Miss Trenchard must be forty, Maggie thought. She was plump and
thick-set, with a warm smile. Then Mr. Trenchard was a clergyman--he
would be stout were he not so broad. His face was red, his hair
snowy white, but he did not look old.

He smiled at Maggie as though he had known her all his life. Then
there was Mr. Mark, who was stocky and thick, and reminded Maggie of
Martin, although his face was quite different, he looked much
cleverer and not such a boy; he was not, in fact, a boy at all. "I'm
sure he thinks too hard," decided Maggie, who had habits of making
up her mind at once about people.

"Well, there's no one to be frightened about here," she decided. And
indeed there was not! It was as though they had all some especial
reason for being nice to her. Perhaps they saw that she was not in
her own world here. And yet they did not make her feel that. She
drank in the differences with great gulps of appreciation, but it
was not they who insisted.

Here were light and colour and space above all--rest. Nothing was
about to happen, no threat over their heads that the roof would fall
beneath one's feet, that the floor would sink. No sudden catching of
the breath at the opening of a door, no hesitation about climbing
the stairs, no surveillance by the watching Thomas, no distant
clanging of the Chapel bell. How strange they all seemed, looking
back from this safe harbour. The aunts, the Warlocks, Thurston, Mr.
Crashaw, Caroline--all of them. There the imagination set fire to
every twig--here the imagination was not needed, because everything
occurred before your eyes.

She did not figure it all out in so many words at once, but the
contrast of the two worlds was there nevertheless. Why had she been
so anxious, so nervous, so distressed? There was no need. Had she
not known that this other world existed? Perhaps she had not. She
must never again forget it . . .

Katherine Mark was so kind and friendly, her voice so soft and her
interest so eager, that Maggie felt that she could tell her
anything. But their talk was not to come just yet--first there must
be general conversation.

The clergyman with the white hair and the rosy face laughed a great
deal in a schoolboy kind of way, and every time that he laughed his
sister, who was like a pippin apple with her sunburnt cheeks, looked
at him with protecting eyes.

"She looks after him in everything," said Maggie to herself. He was
called Paul by them all.

"He's my cousin, you know, Miss Cardinal," said Mrs. Mark. "And yet
I scarcely ever see him. Isn't it a shame? Grace makes everything so
comfortable for him . . ."

Grace smiled, well pleased.

"It's Paul's devotion to his parish . . ." she said in calm, happy,
self-assured voice, as though she'd never had a surprise in her

"I'm sure it isn't either of those things," thought Maggie to
herself. "He's lazy."

Lazy but nice. She had never seen a clergyman so healthy, so happy
so clean and so kind. She smiled across the table at him.

"Do you know Skeaton?" he asked her. Skeaton! Where had she heard of
the place? Why, of course, it was Caroline!

"Only yesterday I heard of it for the first time," she said. "A
friend of mine knows some one there."

"Beastly place," said Mr. Mark. "Sand always blowing into your

Mr. and Mrs. Trenchard got up to go.

He stood a moment holding Maggie's hand. "If ever you come to
Skeaton, Miss Cardinal," he said, "we shall be delighted . . ." His
eyes she noticed were light blue like a baby's. She felt that he
liked her and would not forget her.

"Come, Paul," said Miss Trenchard, rather sharply Maggie fancied.

Soon afterwards Philip departed. "Must finish that beastly thing,"
he assured his wife.

"It's an article," Katherine Mark explained. "He's always writing
about politics. I hate them, so he pretends to hate them too. But he
doesn't really. He loves them."

"I know nothing about politics," said Maggie with profound truth.
"Your husband must be very clever."

"He's better than that," said Katherine with pride; "I hate perfect
people, don't you?"

"Oh, indeed I do!" said Maggie from the bottom of her heart. They
then came to her particular business.

"I would like to get some work to do," said Maggie, "that would make
me independent. I have three hundred pounds of my own."

"What can you do?" asked Katherine.

"I don't know," said Maggie.

"Can you shorthand and type?"

"No, I can't," said Maggie; "but I'll learn."

"Must you be independent soon?" asked Katherine. "Are you unhappy
where you are?"

Maggie paused.

"Don't tell me anything you oughtn't to," said Katherine.

"No," answered Maggie. "It isn't that exactly. I'm not happy at
home, but I think that's my fault. My aunts are very good. But I
want to be free. It is all very religious where I am, and they want
me to believe in their religion. I'm afraid I'm not religious at
all. Then I don't want to be dependent on people. I'm very ignorant.
I know nothing about anything, and so long as I am kept with my
aunts I shall never learn."

She stopped abruptly. She had thought suddenly of Martin. His coming
had altered everything. How could she say what she wanted her life
to be until her relation to him were settled? Everything depended on

This sense of Martin's presence silenced her. "If I can feel," she
said at last, "that I can ask your advice. I have nobody . . . We
all seem . . . Oh! how can I make you understand properly! You never
will have seen anything like our house. It is all so queer. so shut-
up, away from everything. I'm like a prisoner . . ."

And that is perhaps what she was like to Mrs. Mark, sitting there in
her funny ill-fitting clothes, her anxious old-fashioned face as of
a child aged long before her time. Katherine Mark, who had had, in
her life, her own perplexities and sorrows, felt her heart warm to
this strange isolated girl. She had needed in her own life at one
time all her courage, and she had used it; she had never regretted
the step that she had then taken. She believed therefore in courage
. . . Courage was eloquent in every movement of Maggie's square
reliant body.

"She could be braver than I have ever been," she thought.

"Miss Cardinal," she said, "I want you to come here whenever you
can. You haven't seen our boy, Tim, yet--one and a half--and there
are so many things I want to show you. Will you count yourself a
friend of the house?"

Maggie blushed and twisted her hands together.

"You're very good," she said, "but . . . I don't know . . . perhaps
you won't like me, or what I do."

"I do like you," said Katherine. "And if I like any one I don't care
what they do."

"All the same," said Maggie, "I don't belong . . . to your world,
your life. I should shock you, I know. You might be sorry afterwards
that you knew me. Supposing I broke away . . ."

"But I broke away myself," said Katherine, "it is sometimes the only
thing to do. I made my mother, who had been goodness itself to me,
desperately unhappy."

"Why did you do that?" asked Maggie.

"Because I wanted to marry my husband."

"Well, I love a man too," said Maggie.

"Oh, I do hope you'll be happy!" said Katherine. "As happy as I am."

"No," said Maggie, shaking her head, "I don't expect to be happy."

She seemed to herself as she said that to be hundreds of miles away
from Katherine Mark and her easy life, the purple curtains and her
amber light.

"Not happy but satisfied," she said.

She saw that it was five minutes past six. "I must go," she said.

When they said good-bye Katherine bent forward and kissed her.

"If ever, in your life. I can help in any way at all," she said,
"come to me."

"I'll do that," promised Maggie. She coloured, and then herself bent
forward and kissed Katherine. "I shall like to think of you--and all
this--" she said and went.

She was let out into the outer world by the smiling maid-servant.
Bryanston Square was dark with purple colour as though the purple
curtains inside the house had been snipped off from a general
curtained world. There was a star or two and some gaunt trees with
black pointing fingers, and here a lighted window and there a
shining doorway; behind it all the rumble of a world that
disregarded love and death and all the Higher Catechism.

Maggie confronted a policeman.

"Please, can you tell me where the Marble Arch is?" she asked.

"Straight ahead, Miss," he answered, pointing down the street, "you
can't miss it."

And she could not. It soon gleamed white ahead of her against the
thick folds of the sky. When she saw it her heart raced in front of
her, like a pony, suddenly released, kicking its heels. And her
thoughts were so strangely wild! The lovely night, yes, purple like
Mrs. Mark's curtains and scented oranges, chrysanthemums, boot-
polish and candied sugar.--Oh yes! how kind they had been--nice
clergyman, fat a little, but young in spite of his white hair, and
Aunt Anne in bed under the crucifix struggling and Mr. Crashaw
smiling lustfully at Caroline . . . The long black streets, strips
of silk and the lamps like fat buttons on a coat, there was a cat!
Hist! Hist! A streak of black against black . . . and the Chapel
bell ringing and Thomas' fiery eyes . . .

Behind all this confusion there was Martin, Martin, Martin. Creeping
nearer and nearer as though he were just behind her, or was it that
she was creeping nearer and nearer to him? She did not know, but her
heart now was beating so thickly that it was as though giants were
wrapping cloth after cloth round it, hot cloths, but their hands
were icy cold. No, she was simply excited, desperately, madly

She had never been excited before, and now, with the excitement,
there was mingled the strangest hot pain and cold pity. She noticed
that now her knees were trembling and that if they trembled much
more she would not be able to walk at all.

"Now, Maggie, steady your knees!" she said to herself. But look, the
houses now were trembling a little too! Ridiculous those smart
houses with their fine doors and white steps to tremble! No, it was
her heart, not the houses . . .

"Do I look queer?" she thought; "will people be looking at me?"

Ideas raced through her head, now like horses in the Derby.

"Woof! Poof! Off we go!" St. Dreot's, that square piece of grass on
the lawn with the light on it, her clothes, the socks that must be
mended, Caroline's silk and the rustle it made, shops, houses,
rivers, seas, death--yes, Aunt Anne's cancer . . . and then, with a
great upward surge like rising from the depths of the sea after a
dive, Martin! Martin, Martin! . . . For a moment then she had to
pause. She had been walking too fast. Her heart jumped, then ran a
step or two, then fell into a dead pause . . . She went on, seeing
now nothing but two lamps that watched her like the eyes of a giant.

She was there! This was a Marble Arch! All by itself in the middle
of the road. She crossed to it, first went under it, then thought
that he would not see her there so came out and stood, nervously
rubbing her gloved hands against one another and turning her head,
like a bird, swiftly from side to side. She didn't like standing
there. It seemed to make her so prominent. Men stared at her. He
should have been there first. He might have known . . . But perhaps
Caroline never gave him the letter. At that thought her heart really
did stop. She was terrified at once as though some one had told her
disastrous news. She would not wait very long; then she would go
home . . .

She saw him. He stood only a little away from her staring about him,
looking for her. She felt that she had not seen him for years; she
drank in his sturdiness, his boyish face, his air of caring nothing
for authority. She had not seen his dark blue overcoat before. He
stood directly under a lamp, swaying ever so little on his heels,
his favourite, most characteristic, movement. He stood there as
though he were purposely giving her a portrait that she might
remember for the rest of her days. She was too nervous to move and
then she wanted that wonderful moment to last, that moment when she
had realised that he had come to meet her, that he was there,
amongst all those crowds, simply for her, that he was looking for
her and wanting her, that he would be bitterly disappointed did she
not come . . .

She saw him give a little impatient jerk of the head, the same
movement that she had seen him make in Chapel. That jerk set her in
motion again, and she was suddenly at his side. She touched his arm;
he turned and his eyes lit with pleasure. They smiled at one another
and then, without a word, moved off towards the park. He took her
arm and put it through his. She felt the warm thick stuff of the
blue coat, and beneath that the steady firm beat of his heart. They
walked closely together, his thigh pressed against hers, and once
and again her hair brushed his cheek. She was so shy that, until
they were through the gates of the park, she did not speak. Then she

"I was so afraid that Caroline would not give you the note."

"Oh, she gave it me all right." He pressed her arm closer to him.
"But I expect that she read it first."

"Oh, is she like that?"

"Yes, she's like that . . ."

There was another pause; they turned down the path to the right
towards the trees that were black lumps of velvet against the purple
sky. There were no stars, and it was liquidly dark as though they
ploughed through water. Maggie felt suffocated with heat and
persecuted by a strange weariness; she was suddenly so tired that it
was all that she could do to walk.

"I'm tired . . ." she murmured--"expecting you--afraid that you
wouldn't come."

"I believe that I would have come," he answered quite fiercely,
"even if I hadn't had the note--I was determined to see you to-night
some way. But you know, Maggie, it had better be for the last
time . . ."

"No," she said, whispering, "it's the first time."

"Let's sit down here," he said. "We're alone all right."

There was no seat near them. The trees made a cave of black above
them, and in front of them the grass swept like a grey beach into
mist. There was no sound save a distant whirr like the hum of a top
that died to a whisper and then was lashed by some infuriated god to
activity again.

They sat close together on the bench. She felt his arm move out as
though he would embrace her, then suddenly he drew back.

"No," he said, "until we've talked this out we've got to be like
strangers. We can't go on, you know, Maggie, and it's no use your
saying we can."

She pressed her hands tightly together. "I can convince him better,"
she thought to herself, "if I'm very quiet and matter-of-fact." So,
speaking very calmly and not looking at him, she went on:

"But, Martin, you promised last time that it would depend on
me . . . You said that if I didn't mind your being married and was
willing to take risks that we would go on together. Well, I've
thought all about it and I know that I'd rather be miserable with
you than happy with any one else. But then I shouldn't be miserable.
You seem to think you could make me miserable just as soon as you
like. But that depends on myself. If I don't want to be miserable
nobody can make me be." She paused. He moved a little closer and
suddenly took her hand.

She drew it away and went on:

"Don't think I'm inexperienced about this, Martin. You say I know
nothing about men. Perhaps I don't. But I know myself. I know what I
want, and I can look after myself. However badly you treated me, it
would be you that I was with all the time."

"No, no, Maggie," he answered, speaking rapidly and as though he
were fiercely protesting against some one. "It isn't that at all.
You say you know yourself--but then I know myself. It isn't only
that I'm a rotten fellow. It is that I seem to bring a curse on
every one I'm fond of. I love my father, and I've come back and made
him miserable. It's always like that. And if I made you miserable it
would be the worst thing I ever did . . . I don't even know whether
I love you. If I do it's different from any love I've ever had.
Other women I'd be mad about. I'd go for them whatever happened and
got them somehow, and I wouldn't care a bit whether they were happy
or no. But I feel about you almost as though you were a man--not
sensually at all, but that safe steady security that you feel for a
man sometimes . . . You're so restful to be with. I feel now as
though you were the one person in the world who could turn me into a
decent human being. I feel as though we were just meant to move
along together; but then some other woman would come like a fire and
off I'd go . . . Then I'd hate myself worse than ever and be really

Maggie looked at him.

"You don't love me then, Martin?" she asked.

"Yes I do," he answered suddenly, "I keep telling myself that I
don't, but I know that I do. Only it's different. It's as though I
were loving myself, the better part of myself. Not something new and
wildly exciting, but something old that I had known always and that
had always been with me. If I went away now. Maggie, I know I'd come
back one day--perhaps years afterwards--but I know I'd come back.
It's like that religious part of me, like my legs and my arms. Oh!
it's not of my own comfort I'm doubting, but it's you! . . . I don't
want to hurt you, Maggie darling, just as I've hurt every one I

"I'll come with you, Martin," said Maggie, "as long as you want me,
and if you don't want me, later you will again and I'll be waiting
for you."

He put his arm round her. She crept up close to him, nestled into
his coat and put her hand up to his cheek. He bent down his head and
they kissed.

After that there could be no more argument. What had he not intended
to press upon her? With what force arid power had he not planned to
persuade her? How he would tell her that he did not love her, that
he would not be faithful to her, that he would treat her cruelly.
Now it was all gone. With a gesture of almost ironic abandonment he
flung away his scruples. It was always so; life was stronger than
he. He had tried, in this at least, to behave like a decent man. But
life did not want him to be decent . . .

And how he needed that rest that she gave him! As he felt her close
up against him, folded into him with that utterly naif and childish
trust that had allured and charmed him on the very first occasion,
he felt nothing but a sweet and blessed rest. He would not think of
the future. He would not . . . HE WOULD NOT. And perhaps all would
be well. As he pressed her closer to him, as he felt her lips
suddenly strike through the dark, find his check and then his mouth,
as he felt her soft confident hand find his and then close and fold
inside it like a flower, he wondered whether this once he might not
force things to be right. It was time he took things in hand. He
could. He must . . .

He began to whisper to her:

"Maggie darling . . . It mayn't be bad. I'll find out where this
other woman is and she shall divorce me. I'll arrange it all. And
we'll go away somewhere where I can work, and we won't allow anybody
to interfere. After all, I'm older now. The mess I've been in before
is because I always make wrong shots . . ."

His words ceased. Their hearts were beating too tumultuously
together for words to be possible. Maggie did not wish to speak, she
could not. She was mingled with him, her heart his, her lips his,
her check his . . . She did not believe that words would come even
though she wished for them. She was utterly happy--so utterly that
she was, as it were, numb with happiness. They murmured one
another's names.


"Maggie! . . ."

At last, dreaming, scarcely knowing what they did, like two children
in a dark wood, they wandered towards home.



Maggie had never really been happy before. She had of course not
known this; her adventures in introspection had been very few,
besides she had not known what happiness looked like; her father,
her uncle, and her aunts were not exactly happy people . . .

Now she flung herself without thought or care into a flood of
happiness, and as sometimes occurs in life, she was granted by the
gods, beneficent or ironic as you please, a period of security when
everything menacing or dangerous withdrew and it seemed as though
the whole world were in a conspiracy to cheat her into confidence.
She was confident because she did not think; she simply did not
think at all. She loved Martin and Martin loved her; cased in that
golden armour, she confronted her aunts and the house and the world
behind the house with a sublime and happy confidence. She loved her
aunts now, she loved Martha and the parrot and the cat, and she
could not believe that they did not all love her. Because Martin
loved her the rest of the world must also do so, and if they did not
she would compel them.

For three whole weeks the spell lasted, for three marvellous golden
weeks. When she looked back afterwards she wondered that she had not
seen many things, warnings, portents, whatever you please to call
them. But for three weeks she saw nothing but Martin, and for three
weeks he saw nothing but Maggie.

She began her career of defiance at once by informing Aunt Anne that
she was now going out every morning to do her shopping. Considering
the confinement to the house that her life had always been, this was
such a declaration of independence as those walls had never
encountered before. But Aunt Anne never turned one of her shining
neatly ordered hairs. "Shopping, my dear?" she asked. "Yes," said
Maggie, looking her full in the face. "What sort of shopping, dear?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Maggie. "There's always something every

Maggie had an uncomfortable feeling that her aunt had in some way
mysteriously defeated her by this sudden abandonment of all protest,
and for a moment the mysterious house closed around her, with its
shadows and dim corners and the little tinkling Chapel hell in the
heart of it. But the thought of Martin dissolved the shadows, and
off she went.

They agreed to meet every morning at eleven o'clock outside
Hatchards, the bookseller's, in Piccadilly. They chose that place
because you could look into a bookseller's window for quite a long
time without seeming odd, and there were so many people passing that
no one noticed you. Their habit then was to walk to the corner of
the Green Park and there climb on to the top of a motor omnibus and
go as far as they could within the allotted time. Maggie never in
after life found those streets again. They had gone, she supposed,
to Chelsea, to St. John's Wood, to the heart of the city, to the
Angel, Islington, to Westminster and beyond, but places during those
three weeks had no names, streets had no stones, houses no walls,
and human figures no substantiality. They tried on one or two
occasions to go by Tube, but they missed the swing of the open air,
the rush of the wind, and their independence of men and women. Often
he tried to persuade her to stay with him for luncheon and the
afternoon, but she was wiser than he.

"No," she said, "everything depends on keeping them quiet. A little
later on it will be lovely. You must leave that part of it to me."

She promised him definitely that soon they should go to a matinee
together, but she would not give her word about a whole evening. In
some strange way she was frightened of the evening, although she had
already pledged her word to him on something much more final: "No,"
she thought to herself, "when the moment comes for me to leave
everything, I will go, but he shall know that I am not doing it
cheaply, simply for an evening's fun." He felt something of that
too, and did not try to persuade her. He hugged his unselfishness;
for the first time in his life it seemed to him that he wanted to
follow somebody else's will; with the other women it had been so
different, if they had not wanted to obey him he had left them. But
indeed all through these three weeks they were discovering
themselves and one another, and, as though it were part of the
general conspiracy, only the best part of themselves. On the top of
the 'bus, as they sat close together, their hands locked under his
overcoat, the world bumping and jolting, and jogging about their
feet, as though indeed public houses and lamp-posts and cinemas and
town halls and sweet-shops were always jumping up tiptoe to see
whether they couldn't catch a glimpse of the lovers, Martin and
Maggie felt that they were really divine creatures, quite modestly
divine, but nevertheless safe from all human ravages and earthly
failings, wicked and cowardly thoughts, and ambitions and desires.

Indeed, during those three weeks Maggie saw nothing of Martin's
weaknesses, his suspicions and dreads, his temper and self-
abasement. The nobility that Martin had in him was true nobility,
his very weaknesses came from his sharp consciousness of what purity
and self-sacrifice and asceticism really were, and that they were
indeed the only things for man to live by. During those weeks he saw
so truly the sweetness and fidelity and simplicity of Maggie that
his conscience was killed, his scruples were numbed. He did not want
during those weeks any sensual excitement, any depravity, any
license. A quiet and noble asceticism seemed to him perfectly
possible. He burst out once to Maggie with: "I can't conceive,
Maggie, why I ever thought life complicated. You've straightened
everything out for me, made all the troubles at home seem nothing,
shown me what nonsense it was wanting the rotten things I was always

But Maggie had no eloquence in reply--she could not make up fine
sentences; it embarrassed her dreadfully to tell him even that she
loved him, and when he was sentimental it was her habit to turn it
off with a joke if she could. She wanted terribly to ask him
sometimes what he had meant when he said that he didn't love her as
he had loved other women. She had never the courage to ask him this.
She wondered sometimes why it had hurt her when he had said he loved
her as though she were a man friend, without any question of sex.
"Surely that's enough for me," she would ask herself, "it means that
it's much more lasting and safe." And yet it was not enough.

Nevertheless, during these weeks she found his brotherly care of her
adorable, he found her shyness divine.

"Every other woman I have ever been in love with," he told her once,
"I have always kept asking them would they ever change, and would
they love me always, and all that kind of nonsense. A man always
begins like that, and then the time comes when he wishes to God they
would change, and they won't. But you're not like that, Maggie, I
know you'll never change, and I know that I shall never want you
to." "No, I shall never change," said Maggie.

At the very beginning of the three weeks a little incident occurred
that was trivial enough at the time, but appeared afterwards as
something significant and full of meaning. This incident was a
little talk with poor Mr. Magnus. Maggie always thought of him as
"poor Mr. Magnus." He seemed so feckless and unsettled, and then he
wrote novels that nobody wanted to buy. He always talked like a
book, and that was perhaps one reason why Maggie had avoided him
during these last months. Another reason had been that she really
could not be sure how far he was in the general conspiracy to drive
her into the Chapel. He would not do that of his own will she was
sure, but being in love with Aunt Anne he might think it his sacred
duty, and Maggie was terrified of "sacred duties." Therefore when,
three days after that great evening in the park, he caught her alone
in the drawing-room, her first impulse was to run away; then she
looked at him and found that her love for the world in general
embraced him too "if only he won't talk like a book," she thought to

He looked more wandering than ever with his high white collar, his
large spectacles, and his thin, dusty hair; the fire of some hidden,
vital spirit burnt beneath those glasses, and his face was so kindly
that she felt ashamed of herself for having avoided him so often.

"Both the aunts are at Miss Avies'." she said.

"Oh," he said, looking at her rather blankly.

"Perhaps I'll come another time," and he turned towards the door.

"No," she cried. "You won't--I haven't seen you for months."

"That's not my fault," he answered. "I thought we were to have been
friends, and you've run away every time you saw the corner of my
dusty coat poking round the door."

"Yes," she said, "I have--I've been frightened of every one lately."

"And you're not now?" he asked, looking at her with that sudden
bright sharpness that was so peculiarly his.

"No, I'm not," she answered. "I'm frightened of nobody."

He said nothing to that, but stared fixedly in front of him.

"I'm in a bad mood," he said. "I've been trying for weeks to get on
with a novel. Just a fortnight ago a young man and a young woman
took shelter from the rain in the doorway of a deserted house--
they're still there now, and they haven't said a word to one another
all that time."

"Why not?" asked Maggie.

"They simply won't speak," he answered her.

"Well then, I should start another story," said Maggie brightly.

"Ah," he said, shaking his head. "What's the use of starting one if
you know you're never going to finish it, what's the use of
finishing it if you know no one is ever going to read it?" Maggie
shook her head.

"You've changed. When I saw you last you told me that you didn't
mind whether any one ever read them or not, and that you just wrote
them because you loved doing them."

"Every author," said Mr. Magnus gloomily," says that to himself when
he can't sell his books, but it's all vainglory, I'm afraid."

"I can't help being glad," Maggie answered. "There are such
interesting things you might do. I can't imagine why any one writes
books now when there are so many already in existence that nobody's

He wasn't listening to her. He looked up suddenly and said quite

"It's terrible all this that's going on. You know about it, of
course--Warlock's visions I mean and the trouble it's making. I'm
outside it and you're outside it, but we're being brought into it
all the same--how can we help it when we love the people who are in
it? It's so easy to say that it's nonsense, that people ought to be
wiser nowadays; that it's hysteria, even insanity--I know all that
and, of course, I don't believe for a moment that God's coming in a
chariot of fire on New Year's Eve especially for the benefit of
Thurston, Miss Avies and the rest, but that doesn't end it--it ought
to end it, but it doesn't. There's more in some people's madness
than in other people's sanity, and anyway, even if it's all nonsense
it means life or death to your aunt and some of the others, and it
means a certain breaking up of all this place. And it probably means
the triumph of a charlatan like Thurston and the increase of humbug
in the world and the discouragement of all the honest adventurers. I
call myself an adventurer, you know, Miss Maggie, although I'm a
poor specimen--but I'm damned if it isn't better to be a poor
adventurer than to be a fat, swollen, contented stay-at-home who can
see just as far as his nose and his cheque-book and might be just as
well dead as alive--I beg your pardon," he added suddenly, "for
swearing--I'm not myself, I'm not really."

She could see indeed that he was in great agitation of mind, and
some of this agitation communicated itself to her. Had she not been
selfish in forgetting all this through her own happiness? He was
right, she was part of it all, whether she wished or no.

"What do you think," she asked, dropping her voice a little, "is the
real truth about it?"

"The real truth"--he looked at her suddenly with a tender, most
charming smile that took away his ugliness. "Ah, that's a tremendous
question. Part of the truth is that Warlock's been praying so much
and eating so little that it would be odd indeed if he didn't see
visions of some sort. And part of the truth is that there are a lot
of women in the world who'll believe simply anything that you tell
them. It's part of the truth, too, that there are scoundrels in the
world who will take advantage of anybody's simple trust to fill
their pockets. But that's not all," he went on, shaking his head,
"no, that's not all. It's part of the truth that there is a mystery,
and that human beings will go on searching whatever all the
materialists and merchants in the world can try to do to stop them.
I remember years ago an old man, a little off his dot, telling my
father that he, the old man, was a treasure hunter. He told my
father that the world was divided into two halves, the treasure
hunters and the Town Councillors, and that the two halves would
never join and never even meet. My father, who was a practical man,
said that the old idiot should be shut up in an asylum, and
eventually I believe he was. 'We'll have him going off one day,' my
father said, 'in a cargo boat with a map in his pocket, looking for
gold pieces.' But it wasn't gold pieces he was after."

To Maggie it was always irritating the way that Mr. Magnus would
wander away from the subject. She brought him back now with a jerk.

"No, but what do you think is going to happen?" she asked him.

"I don't know," he answered. "I can't tell, but I know all my
happiness here is coming to an end, and I don't know what I shall
do. If I were a strong man I would go out and find all the other
treasure hunters, all the vicious ones, and the diseased, and the
drunkards and the perverted, and I would try to found some kind of a
society so that they should recognise one another all the world over
and shouldn't feel so lonely and deserted and hopelessly done for. I
don't mean a society for improving them, mind you, or warning them
or telling them they'll go to prison if they don't do better, that's
none of my business. But it seems to be a solemn fact that you
aren't a treasure hunter until there's something wrong with you,
until you've got a sin that's stronger than you are, or until you've
done something that's disgraceful in the eyes of the world--not that
I believe in weakness or in giving way to things. No one admires the
strong and the brave more than I do. I think a man's a fool if he
doesn't fight as hard as he can. But there's a brotherhood of the
dissatisfied and the uneasy and the anxious-hearted, and I believe
it's they who will discover the Grail in the end if it's ever going
to be discovered at all."

He broke off, then said restlessly: "I think things out, you know,
and at last I come to a conclusion, and it ends by being a platitude
that all the goody, goody books have said times without number. But
all the same that doesn't prevent it from being my discovery. It's
nothing to do with goodness and nothing to do with evil, it's
nothing to do with strength, and nothing to do with weakness; it
simply is that there are some people who want what they can see and
no more, and there are others, the baffled, fighting and disordered
others, for whom nothing that they can see with their mortal eyes is
enough, and who'll be restless all their days with their queer
little maps and their mysterious, thumbed directions to some island
or other that they'll never reach and never even get a ship for."

He stopped and there was a long silence between them, Maggie was
silent because she never knew what to say when he burst into
parables and divided mankind, under strange names, into different
camps. And yet this time she did know a little what he was after.
There was that house of Katharine Mark's the other day, with its
comfort and quiet and kind smiling clergyman--and there was this
strange place with all of them in an odd quiver of excitement
waiting for something to happen. But she couldn't speak to him about
that, she couldn't say anything to him at all. He cleared his throat
as though he were embarrassed and were conscious that he had been
making a fool of himself. Maggie felt that he was disappointed in
her. She was sorry for that, but she was as she was.

"Well, I'm glad you're happy," he said, looking at her wistfully. He
got up and stood awkwardly looking at her.

"I want you to promise me something," he said, "that's really what I
came for. I want you to promise that you won't in any case leave
your aunts before the New Year."

She got up, looked at him and gave him her hand.

"Yes," she said. "I promise that."

The year had only a week or two more to run and she was not afraid
of that little space of time. He seemed to want to say something
more, but after hesitating he suddenly made a bolt for the door and
she could hear him stumbling downstairs.

She forgot him almost as soon as he had left the house, but his
words nevertheless brought her to consider her aunts. Next morning
at breakfast time she had a further reason to consider them. Aunt
Elizabeth met her, when she came downstairs, with a very grave face.

"Your aunt's had a terrible night," she said. "She's insisted on
coming downstairs--I told her not. She never listens to anything I

Maggie could see that something more than ordinary had occurred.
Aunt Elizabeth was on the edge of tears, and in so confused a state
of mind that she put sugar into her egg, and then ate it with a
puzzled air as though she could not be sure why it tasted so
strange. When Aunt Anne came in it was plain enough that she had
wrestled with demons during the night. Maggie had often seen her
before battling with pain and refusing to be defeated. Now she
looked as though she had but risen from the dead. It was a ghost in
very truth that stood there; a ghost in black silk dress with white
wristbands and a stiff white collar, black hair, so tightly drawn
back and ordered that it was like a shining skull-cap. Her face was
white, with the effect of a chalk drawing into which live, black,
burning eyes had been stuck. But it was none of these things that
frightened Maggie. It was the expression somewhere in the mouth, in
the eyes, in the pale bony hands, that spoke of some meeting with a
torturer whose powers were almost omniscient--almost, but not quite.
Pain, sheer physical, brutal pain, came into the room hulking,
steering behind Aunt Anne's shoulder. It grinned at Maggie and said,
"You haven't begun to feel what I can do yet, but every one has his
turn. You needn't flatter yourself that you're going to escape."

When Aunt Anne moved now it was with infinite caution, as though she
were stalking her enemy and was afraid lest any incautious gesture
should betray her into his ambush. No less marked than her torture
was her courage and the expectation that sustained that courage. She
had her eyes set upon something very sure and very certain. Maggie
was afraid to think what that expectation might be. But Maggie had
grown during these last weeks. She did not now kiss her aunt and try
to show an affection which was not so genuine as she would have
liked it to be by nervous little demonstrations. She said gravely:

"I am so sorry, Aunt Anne, that you have had so bad a night. Shall I
stay this morning and read to you?"

Even as she spoke she realised with sharp pain what giving up her
meeting with Martin meant.

"What were you going to do, dear?" asked Aunt Anne, her eyes seeing
as ever far beyond Maggie and the room and the house. As she spoke
Thomas, the cat, came forward and began rubbing himself very gently,
as though he were whispering something to his mistress, against her
dress. Maggie had an impulse, so strong that it almost defeated her,
to burst out with the whole truth. She almost said: "I'm going out
to meet Martin Warlock, whom I love and with whom I'm going to
live." She hated deceit, she hated lies. But this was some one
else's secret as well as her own, and telling the truth now would
only lead to much pain and distress, and then more lies and more

So she said:

"I'm going to Piccadilly to get some things for Aunt Elizabeth."

"Yes," said Aunt Elizabeth, "she saves me a great deal of trouble.
She's a good girl."

"I know she's a good girl," said Aunt Anne softly.

It was strange to remember the time not so long ago when to run out
of the house and post a letter had seemed a bold defiant thing to do
threatened with grave penalties. The aunts had changed their plans
about her and had given her no reasons for doing so. No reasons were
ever given in that house for anything that was done. The more Maggie
went out, the more she was drawn in.

On her way to Martin that morning the figure of Aunt Anne haunted
her. She felt for a brief moment that she would do anything, yes,
even surrender Martin, to ease her aunt's pain. And then she knew
that she would not, and she called herself cruel and selfish and
felt for an instant a dark shadow threatening her because she was
so. But when she saw Martin outside Hatchard's she forgot it all. It
was a strange thing that during those weeks they neither of them
asked any questions about their home affairs. It was as though they
both inwardly realised that there was trouble for them of every kind
waiting outside and that they could only definitely realise their
happiness by building a wall around themselves. They knew perhaps in
their secret hearts, or at any rate Martin knew, that they could not
hold their castle for long. But is not the gift of three perfect
weeks a great thing for any human being to be given--and who has the
temerity, the challenging audacity, to ask with confidence for even
so much?

On this particular morning Martin said to her:

"Before we get into the 'bus, Maggie, you've got to come into a shop
with me." He was especially boyish and happy and natural that
morning. It was strange how his face altered when he was happy. His
brow was clear, his eyes were bright, and he had a kind of crooked
confident smile that must have won anybody's heart. His whole
carriage was that of a boy who was entering life for the first time
with undaunted expectation that it could give him nothing but the
best and jolliest things. Maggie as she looked at him this morning
caught her breath with the astonishing force of her love for him.
"Oh, how I'll look after him," was her thought. "He shall never be
unhappy again."

They crossed the street together, and stood for a moment close
together on the kerb in the middle way as though they were quite
alone in the world. She caught his arm and they ran before a
charging motor-'bus, laughing. People turned back and looked at
them, so happy they seemed. They walked up Bond Street and Martin
drew her into a jeweller's. She had never possessed any ornament
except her coral necklace in all her life and she knew now for the
first time how terribly she liked beautiful things. It was useless
of her to pretend that she did not know that he was going to give
her something. She did not pretend. A very thin old man, who looked
like one of the prophets, drawn out of the wilderness and clothed by
the most fashionable of London tailors, looking over their shoulders
as he talked to them because he saw at once that they were not
customers who were likely to add very much to his shop's exchequer,
produced a large tray, full of rings that glittered and sparkled and
danced as though they'd been told to show themselves off to the best
possible advantage. But for Maggie at once there was only one
possible ring. It was a thin hoop of gold with three small pearls
set in the middle of it; nothing very especial about it, it was in
fact less striking than almost any other ring in the tray. Maggie
looked at the ring and the ring looked at Maggie. It was as though
the ring said, "I shall belong to you whether you take me or no."

"Now," said Martin with a little catch in his throat, "you make your
choice, Maggie." He was not a millionaire, but he did honestly
intend that whatever ring she chose she should have.

"Oh," said Maggie, whispering because the shop was so large and the
prophet so indifferent, "don't you think you'd better choose?"

At the same time she felt the anxious gaze of the three little
pearls upon her.

"No," said Martin, "I want to give you what you'd like."

"I'd like what you'd like," said Maggie, still whispering.

At this banality the prophet made a little impatient movement as
though he really could not be expected to stand waiting there for
ever. Also a magnificent lady, in furs so rich that you could see
nothing of her but her powdered nose, was waving ropes of pearls
about in a blase manner very close to them, and Maggie had a
strange, entirely unreasonable fear that this splendour would
suddenly turn round and snatch the little pearl ring and go off with

"I'd like that one," said Maggie, pointing. She heard the prophet
sniff his contempt, but she did not care.

Martin, although he would willingly have given her the most gorgeous
ring in the shop, was delighted to find that her taste was so good,
and like herself. He had great ideas about taste, some of his secret
fears had been lest her strange uncouth upbringing should have
caused her to like gaudy things. He could have hugged her before
them all when she chose that particular ring, which he had himself
noticed as the prettiest and neatest there.

"Just see whether it fits, darling," he said. At the word "darling"
the prophet cast another despairing look about the shop, as though
he knew well the length of time that lovers could take over these
things if they once put their hearts into it. Maggie was ashamed of
her stubby finger as she put her hand forward--but the ring fitted

"That's right," said Martin, "Now we'll have this put into a case."

"How wonderful he is," thought Maggie. Not as other women might have
thought, "I wonder how many times he's done this before." Maggie
thought then that it would be more proper to retire a little so that
she should not know the price--and she stood in the doorway of the
shop, looking upon the wind and weather in Bond Street and the
magnificent motor car that belonged to the lady with the pearls and
a magnificent chauffeur, who was so superior that it was probable
that the lady with the pearls belonged to him--and she saw none of
these things, but was conscious of herself and Martin wrapt together
in a mist of happiness that no outside force could penetrate.

As they walked away from the shop she said: "Of course I won't be
able to wear it."

He put the little square box, wrapped in tissue paper, into her
hand, and answered: "You can wear it on a ribbon under your dress."

"Oh yes," she whispered, pressing his hand for a moment.

They did not climb on to a 'bus that morning, but walked ahead
blindly, blissfully, they did not know whither. They were now in
wild days at the end of November and the weather was tempestuous,
the wind blowing with a screaming fury and black clouds scudding
across the sky like portents. Little heavy drops of rain fell with a
sudden urgency as though they were emphasising some secret; figures
were swept through the streets and the roar of the wind was so
vehement that the traffic seemed to make no sound. And yet nothing
happened--no great storm of rain, no devastating flood. It was a day
of warning.

They noticed nothing of the weather. It might have been a world of
burning sunshine for all they saw of it.

"You know," said Martin, "I've never liked giving any one anything
so much as I liked giving you that ring."

"I wish I could give you something too," she said.

"Well, you can," he said. "Some little thing that I'll carry about
with me always . . . Oh, Maggie!" he went on. "Isn't it strange how
easy it is to be good when no one worries you. These last ten days
with you I couldn't have done anything wrong if I tried. It isn't
fair to say we can help ourselves. We can't. Something just comes
along and seizes you and makes you do wrong."

"Oh, I don't know," said Maggie. "Don't let's talk about those
things. It's like Mr. Magnus, who says we're treasure hunters or
pools of water, or old men in asylums. I don't understand all that.
I'm just Maggie Cardinal.--All the same I believe one can do what
one wants to. I don't believe people can make one do things."

"Do you think any one could make me not love you if they tried? I
shall love you always, whatever happens. I know I shall never
change. I'm not one to change. I'm obstinate. Father used to say
'obstinate as a pig.'"

That made her think of the old days at St. Dreot's, just then, as
they seemed, so remote. She began to tell him of those old days, of
the Vicarage, of the holes in the floor and the ceiling, of her
loneliness and the way the villagers used to talk, of her solitary
walks and looking down on to Polchester from the hill-top, of her
father's sudden death, of Uncle Mathew . . .

"He's a funny old codger," said Martin. "What does he do?"

"I don't know," said Maggie. "I really don't know how he lives I'm
afraid it's something rather bad."

"I've known men like that," said Martin, "plenty, but it's funny
that one of them should be connected with you. It doesn't seem as
though you could have anything to do with a man like that."

"Oh, but I like him!" said Maggie. "He's been very kind to me often.
When I was all alone after father died he was very good--" She
stopped abruptly remembering how he'd come into her bedroom.
"Drink's been his trouble, and never having any money. He told me
once if he had money he'd never do a thing he shouldn't." "Yes,"
said Martin. "That's what they always say when they haven't any
money, and then when they have any it's worse than ever."

He was thinking, perhaps, of himself. At any rate to stop remorseful
thoughts he began to tell her about his own childhood.

"Mine was very different from yours, Maggie," he said. "I wasn't
lonely. You don't know what a fuss people made of me. I was
conceited, too. I thought I was chosen, by God, out of all the
world, that I was different from every one else, and better too.
When I was only about nine, at home one Sunday they asked me if I'd
say a prayer, and I did, before them all, made it up and went on for
quarter of an hour. Lord! I must have been an awful child. And
outside the religious time I was as wicked as I could be. I used to
go down into the kitchen and steal the food and I'd dress up as a
ghost to frighten Amy and I'd break mother's china. I remember once,
after we'd had a service in the drawing-room and two girls had gone
into hysterics, I stole down into the kitchen in my nightdress to
get some jam and I found one of the Elders making love to the cook.
They were both so fat and he had his coat and waistcoat off and he
was kissing her neck. My word, they were frightened when they saw
me standing there! After that I could do what I liked with the cook
. . . We used to have prayer meetings in the drawing-room, and
sometimes father would pray so hard that the glass chandelier would
shake and rattle till I used to think it would come down."

"And the funny thing was that one minute I'd be pinching Amy who was
kneeling next to me and the next I'd be shaking with religion and
seeing God standing right in front of me by the coal-scuttle. Such a
mix-up! . . . it was then and so it is now. Amy always hated me. She
was really religious and she thought I was a hypocrite. But I wasn't
altogether. There was something real in it and there still is."

"Didn't you go to school?" asked Maggie.

"No, that was the mistake. They never sent me. Father loved me too
much and he wanted to keep me always with him. He tried to teach me
himself but I never learnt anything. I always knew I could turn them
round my little finger. I always knew he'd rather do anything than
make me unhappy. Sometimes we had lovely times together, sitting in
the dusk in the front of the fire. Do you know, Maggie, I've never
changed in my love for father? I've changed in everything else, but
in that never. Yet I've hurt him over and over and over again. I've
done things . . ." Here he broke off. To-day was to be happy; they
must build up their walls faster, faster, faster to keep the world
out. He would think of nothing, nothing but the present. The wind
blew and the heavy drops of rain fell, one and one and one, slowly
between the gusts. Ho drew her close to him.

"Are you cold?"

"No, Martin dear."

"I suppose we should turn back."

"Yes, it's getting late."

"It will seem hours until to-morrow."

"And to me too."

They were at the end of the Green Park. There was no one
there. They kissed and clung together and Maggie's hand was
warm inside his coat. Then they turned back and entered the
real world once more . . .

"Now we must have our matinee," Martin said. Maggie could not refuse
and besides she herself wanted it so badly. Also the three weeks
were drawing to a close, and although she did not know what was in
store for them, she felt, in some mysterious way, that trouble was

"Yes, we'll have our matinee," she said.

It was a terrific excitement for her, apart altogether from her love
for Martin. She had, of course, never been to a theatre. She could
not imagine in the least what it was like. It so happened, by a
wonderful chance, that a note came from Katherine Mark asking her to
tea. She showed this to the aunts and said that she would accept it.
She wrote to Katherine Mark and refused and told Martin that for
that Wednesday afternoon she was quite free until at least seven
o'clock. She wove these deceits with strong disgust. She hated the
lies, and there were many, many times when she was on the edge of
confessing everything to the aunts. But the thought of what would
follow that confession held her back. She could not make things
harder for Martin.

Nevertheless she wondered why when she felt, in herself, no shame al
all at the things that she was doing, she should have to lie to
cover those things up. But everything in connection with the Chapel
seemed to lie.--The place was wrapped in intrigue and double-
dealing. How long would it be before she and Martin were out of it

She was to meet him by one of the lions in Trafalgar Square. She
bought a golden chrysanthemum which she stuck into the belt of her
black dress and she wore her coral necklace. She was tired of black.
She sometimes thought she would spend all her Three Hundred Pounds
on clothes . . . To-day, as soon as she was out of the house and had
turned the corner into King William Street, she slipped on her ring.
She kissed it before she put her glove on. He was waiting there
looking like a happy schoolboy, that way that she loved him to look.
That slow crooked smile of his, something that broke up his whole
face into geniality and friendliness, how she adored him when he
looked like that! He was wearing clothes of some rough red-brown
stuff and a black knitted tie--

She was carrying something, a little parcel in tissue paper. She
pressed it into his hand when they met. He opened it, just like a
boy, chuckling, his eyes shining, his fingers tearing the paper in
his eagerness. Her present was a round locket of thin plain gold and
inside was the funniest little black faded photograph of Maggie, her
head only, a wild untidy head of hair, a fat round schoolgirl face--
a village snapshot of Maggie taken in St. Dreot's when she was about

"It's all I had," she said. "I remembered it the other day and I
found it. A travelling photographer took it one day. He came to the
village and every one was taken, father and all. It's very bad but
it was the only one."

"It's wonderful," said Martin, and truly it was wonderful. It had
caught by a marvellous chance, in spite of its shabby faded
darkness, the very soul of Maggie. Was it her hair, her untidy hair,
or the honesty of her eyes, or the strength and trustiness of her
mouth? But then it was to any one who did not know her the bad dim
photograph of an untidy child, to any one who did know her the very
stamp and witness of Maggie and all that she was. Maggie had spent
twenty-five shillings on the locket (she had had three pounds put
away from her allowance in her drawer).

It was a very simple locket, thin plain gold round and smooth, but
good, and it would last.

"You darling," whispered Martin. "There couldn't have been anything
more like you if you'd been taken by the grandest photographer in

They started off towards Shaftesbury Avenue where the theatre was,
and as they went a funny little incident occurred. They were both
too happy to talk and Maggie was too happy even to think. Suddenly
she was aware that some one was coming towards her whom she knew.
She looked and tugged herself from that world of Martin and only
Martin in which she was immersed. It was the large, smiling, rosy-
cheeked, white-haired clergyman, Mr. Trenchard. Yes, certainly it
was he. He had recognised her and was stopping to speak to her.
Martin moved on a little and stood waiting for her. She was confused
and embarrassed but pleased too because he seemed glad to see her.
He looked the very picture of a well-dressed, kindly, genial friend
who had known her all his life. He was wearing a beautifully shining
top-hat and his stiff white collar gleamed. Yes, he was glad to see
her and he said so. He remembered her name. "Miss Cardinal," he
called her. How had she been? What had she been doing? Had she seen
Mrs. Mark? He was staying with his sister at Brown's Hotel in
Somewhere--she didn't catch the name of the street. His sister would
be so glad if she would come and see them one day. Would she come?
He wouldn't tie her down, but she had only to write and say she was
coming . . .

He took her hand and held it for a moment and looked in her eyes
with the kindliest friendliest regard. He was glad to have seen her.
He should tell his sister . . .

He was gone and Maggie really could not be sure what she had said.
Something very silly she could be certain. Stupid the pleasure that

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