Part 7 out of 11
Because it was New Year's Eve there were many people about, voices
laughing and shouting through the mist and then some one running
with a flaring light, then some men walking singing in chorus. The
aunts said nothing as they went. Maggie's thoughts were given now to
wondering whether Martin would be there. She tied her mind to that,
but behind it was the irritating knowledge that her teeth were
chattering and her knees trembling and that she did not maintain her
courage as a Cardinal should.
As they entered the Chapel the hoarse ugly clock over the door
grunted out half-past eleven. The Chapel seemed on Maggie's entering
it to be half in darkness, there was a thin splutter of gas over the
reading-desk at the far end and some more light by the door, but the
centre of the building was a shadowy pool. Only a few were present,
gathered together in the middle seats below the desk, perhaps in all
a hundred persons. Of these three-quarters were women. The aunts and
Maggie went into their accustomed seat some six rows from the front.
When Maggie rose from her knees and looked about her she recognised
at once that only the Inside Saints were here.
Amongst the men she recognised Mr. Smith, Caroline's father, two old
men, brothers, who had followed Mr. Warlock from their youth, and a
young pale man who had once been to tea with her aunts. Martin she
saw at once was not there.
For some time, perhaps for ten minutes, they all sat in silence, and
only the gruff comment of the clock sounded in the building. Then
the lights went up with a flare and Thurston, followed by Mr.
Warlock, entered. It was at that moment that Maggie had a
revelation. The faces around her seemed to be suddenly gathered in
front of her, and it was with a start of surprise that she suddenly
realised: "Oh, but they don't believe in this any more than I do!"
The faces around her were agitated, with odd humble beseeching
looks, as though they were helpless utterly and were hoping that
some one would suddenly come and lead them somewhere that they might
be comfortable again and at ease.
There was not to-night, as there had been on other occasions (and
especially during that service that Mr. Crashaw had conducted), any
sign of religious and mystical excitement. The people seemed huddled
together in the cold and draughty place against their will, and the
very fact that the Chapel was only half full chilled the blood. No
drama of exultation here, no band of God's servants gloriously
preparing to meet Him, only the frightened open-mouthed gaze of a
little gathering of servant girls and old maids. That was Maggie's
first impression; then, when the service began, when the first hymn
had been sung and Thurston had stumbled into his extempore prayer.
Maggie found herself caught into a strange companionship with the
people around her. Not now ecstasy nor the excitement of religious
fanaticism nor the superstitious preparation for some awful events--
none of these emotions now lifted her into some strained unnatural
sphere--no, nothing but a strange sympathy and kindness and
understanding that she had never known in all her life before. She
felt the hunger, the passionate appeal: "Oh God come! Prove Thy-
self! We have waited so long. We have resisted unbelievers, we have
fought our own doubts and betrayals, give us now a Sign! something
by which we may know Thee!" and with that appeal the conviction in
the hearts of almost all present that nothing would happen, that God
would give no sign, that the age of miracles was past.
"Oh, why did He want to be so definite," she thought. "Why couldn't
He have left them as they were without forcing them to this."
They were sitting down now, and Thurston, with his cheap sense of
the dramatic and false emphasis, was reading from the New Testament.
Maggie looked to where Mr. Warlock was, a little to the right of
Thurston, in his black gown, his head a little lowered, his hands on
When she saw him she was touched to the very heart. Why, he had aged
in the last month a hundred years! He looked, sitting there, so
frail and helpless that it seemed wonderful that he should have been
able to get there at all.
His hair seemed to have an added intensity of whiteness to-night,
and his beard lay against the black cloth of his gown with a
contrast so sharp that it was unreal. Maggie fancied, as she watched
him, that he was bewildered and scarcely knew where he was. Once he
looked up and round about him; he put his hand to his brow and then
let it fall as though he had no longer any control over it.
She was now so touched by the pathos of his helplessness that she
could think of nothing else and longed to go to him and comfort him.
Time stole on and it was now ten minutes to twelve. They sang
another hymn, but the voices were very weak and feeble and the words
quivered round the building in a ghostly whisper. Then Thurston came
to the Master and gave him his arm and led him to the reading-desk.
The old man seemed for a moment as though he would fall, then,
holding to the front of the desk, he spoke in a very weak and
faltering voice. Maggie could not catch many of his words: "My
children--only a little time--Our preparation now is finished . . .
God has promised . . . Not the least of these His little ones shall
perish . . . Let us not fear but be ready to meet Him as our Friend
. . . our Friend . . . God our Father . . ." Then in a stronger
voice: "Now during these last minutes let us kneel in silent
They all knelt down. Maggie had no thoughts, no desire except that
the time might pass; she seemed to kneel there asleep waiting for
the moment when some one should tell her that the time had gone and
she was safe. The moments dragged eternally; a thrilling suspense
like a flood of water pouring into an empty space had filled the
Chapel. No one moved. Suddenly into the heart of the silence there
struck the first note of the clock tolling the hour. With Maggie it
was as though that sound liberated her from the spell that had been
upon her. She looked up; she saw the master standing, his hands
stretched out, his face splendid with glory and happiness.
He looked beyond them all, beyond the Chapel, beyond the world. He
gave one cry:
"My God, Thou art come." Some other words followed but were caught
up and muffled. He fell forward, collapsing in a heap against the
desk. His head struck the wood and then he lay there perfectly
Maggie could only dimly gather what happened after the sound of that
fall. There seemed to her to be a long and terrible silence during
which the clock continued remorselessly to strike. The Chapel
appeared to be a place of shadows as though the gas had suddenly
died to dim haloes; she was conscious that people moved about her,
that Aunt Anne had left them, and that Aunt Elizabeth was saying to
her again and again: "How terrible! How terrible! How terrible!"
Then as though it were some other person, Maggie found herself very
calmly speaking to Aunt Elizabeth.
"Are we to wait for Aunt Anne?" she whispered.
"Anne said we were to go home."
"Then let's go," whispered Maggie.
They went to the door, pushing, it seemed, through shadows who
whispered and forms that vanished as soon as one looked at them.
Out in the open air Maggie was aware that she was trembling from
head to foot, but a determined idea that she must get Aunt Elizabeth
home at once drove her like a goad. Very strange it was out here,
the air ringing with the clamour of bells. The noise seemed
deafening, whistles blowing from the river, guns firing and this
swinging network of bells echoing through the fog. Figures, too, ran
with lights, men singing, women laughing, all mysteriously in the
They were joined at once by Aunt Anne, who said:
"God has called him home," by which Maggie understood that Mr.
Warlock was dead.
They went home in silence. Inside the hall Aunt Elizabeth began to
cry. Aunt Anne put her arm around her and led her away; they seemed
completely to forget Maggie, leaving her standing in the dark hall
She found a candle and went up to her room. The noise in the streets
had ceased quite suddenly as though some angry voice had called the
world to order.
Maggie undressed and lay down in her bed. She lay there staring in
front of her without closing her eyes. She watched the grey dawn,
then the half-light, then, behind her blind, bright sunshine. The
fog was no more.
The strangest fancies and visions passed through her brain during
that time. She saw Mr. Warlock hanging forward like a sack of
clothes, the blood trickling stealthily across his beard. Poor old
man! What were the others all thinking now? Were they sorry or glad?
Were they disappointed or relieved? After all, he had, perhaps,
spoken the truth so far as he was himself concerned. God had come
for him. He was now it might be happy somewhere at peace and at
rest. Then like a flash of lightning across the darkness came the
thought of Martin. What had he said? "If anything happened to his
The terror of that made her heart stop beating. She wanted instantly
to go to him and see what he was doing. She even rose from her bed,
stumbled in the darkness towards her dressing-table, then remembered
where she was and what time and went back and sat upon her bed.
She sat there, her fingers tightly pressed together, staring in
front of her until the morning came. She felt at her heart a
foreboding worse than any pain that she had ever known. She
determined that, directly after breakfast, whatever the aunts would
say, she would go to his house and demand to see him. She did not
mind who might try to prevent her, she would fight her way through
them all. Only one look, one word of assurance from him, and then
she could endure anything. That she must have or she would die.
At last Martha knocked on the door; she had her bath, dressed, still
with this terrible pain at her heart.
She was alone at breakfast, she drank some coffee, then went up to
the drawing-room to think for a moment what course she should
pursue. The room was flooded with sunlight that struck the fire into
a dead, lifeless yellow.
As she stood there she heard through the open door voices in the
hall. But before she had heard the voices she knew that it was
Martha was expostulating, her voice following his step up the hall.
"I shall go and tell my mistress," Maggie heard.
Then Martin came in.
When she saw him she stood speechless where she was. The change in
him terrified her so that her heart seemed to leap into her throat
choking her. The colour had drained from his face, leaving it dry
and yellow. He had an amazing resemblance to his father, his eyes
had exactly the same bewildered expression as though he were lost
and yet he seemed quite calm, his only movement was one hand that
wandered up and down his waistcoat feeling the buttons one after the
He looked at her as though he did not know her, and yet he spoke her
"Maggie," he said, "I've come to say good-bye. You know what I said
before. Well, it's come true. Father is dead, and I killed him."
With a terrible effort, beating down a terror that seemed personally
to envelop her, she said:
"No, Martin. I saw him die. It wasn't you, Martin dear."
"It was I," he answered. "You don't know. I came into the house
drunk and he heard what I said to Amy. He nearly died then. The
doctor in the evening said he must have had some shock."
She tried to come to him then. She was thinking: "Oh, if I've only
got time I can win this. But I must have time. I must have time."
He moved away from her, as he had done once before.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter," he said. "I've killed him by the way
I've been behaving to him all these months. I'm going away where I
can't do any harm."
She desperately calmed herself, speaking very quietly.
"Listen, Martin. You haven't done him any harm. He's happier now
than he's been for years. I know he is. And that doesn't touch us.
You can't leave me now. Where you go I must go."
"No," he answered. "No, Maggie. I ought to have gone before. I knew
it then, but I know it absolutely now. Everything I touch I hurt, so
I mustn't touch anything I care for."
She put her hands out towards him; words had left her. She would
have given her soul for words and she could say nothing.
She was surrounded with a hedge of fright and terror and she could
not pass it.
He seemed to see then in her eyes her despair. For an instant he
recognised her. Their eyes met for the first time; she felt that she
was winning. She began eagerly to speak: "Listen, Martin dear. You
can't do me any harm. You can only hurt me by leaving me. I've told
you before. Just think of that and only that."
The door opened and Aunt Anne came in.
He turned to her very politely. "I beg your pardon for coming, Miss
Cardinal," he said. "I know what you must think of me, but it's all
right. I've only come to say good-bye to Maggie. It's all right.
Neither you nor Maggie will be bothered with me again."
He turned to the open door. Aunt Anne stood aside to let him pass.
"Martin, don't go! Martin, don't leave me! Don't leave me, Martin!"
He seemed to break then in his resolution.
"It's better. It's better," he cried, as though he were shouting
himself down, and then pushing Aunt Anne with his arm he hurried out
almost running, his steps stumbling down the stairs.
Maggie ran to the door. Her aunt stopped her, holding her back.
"It's better, Maggie dear," she said very gently, repeating Martin's
The sound of the hall door closing echoed through the house.
Maggie struggled, crying again and again: "Let me go! Let me go! I
must go with him! I can't live without him! Let me go!"
She fought then, and with one hand free hit Aunt Anne's face,
twisting her body. Then, suddenly weak, so that she saw faintness
coming towards her like a cloak, she whispered:
"Oh, Aunt Anne, let me go! Oh, Aunt Anne, let me go! Please, please,
let me go!"
Suddenly the house was darkened, at her feet was a gulf of
blackness, and into it she tumbled, down, far down, with a last
little gasping sigh of distress.
THE THREE VISITS
On a spring day, early in March of the next year, 1908, Mathew
Cardinal thought that he would go and discover how his niece was
prospering. He had seen nothing of her for a very long time.
He did not blame himself for this, but then he never blamed himself
for anything. A fate, often drunken and always imbecile, was to
blame for everything that he did, and he pitied himself sincerely
for having to be in the hands of such a creature. He happened to be
just now very considerably frightened about himself, more frightened
than he had been for a very long time, so frightened in fact that he
had drunk nothing for weeks. For many years he had been leading a
see-saw existence, and the see-saw had been swung by that mysterious
force known as Finance. He had a real gift for speculation, and had
he been granted from birth a large income he might have ended his
days as a Justice of the Peace and a Member of Parliament.
Unfortunately he had never had any private means, and he had never
been able to make enough by his mysterious speculations to float him
into security--"Let me once get so far," he would say to himself,
"and I am a made man." But drink, an easy tolerance of bad company,
and a rather touching conceit had combined to divorce him from so
fine a destiny. He had risen, he had fallen, made a good thing out
of this tip, been badly done over that, and missed opportunity after
opportunity through a fuddled brain and an overweening self-
Last year for several months everything had succeeded; it was during
that happy period that he had visited Maggie. Perhaps it was well
for his soul that success had not continued. He was a man whom
failure improved, having a certain childish warmth of heart and
simplicity of outlook when things went badly with him. Success made
him abominably conceited, and being without any morality self-
confidence drove him to disastrous lengths. Now once more he was
very near destruction and he knew it, very near things like forging
and highway robbery, and other things worse than they. He knew that
he was very near; he peered over into the pit and did not wish to
descend. He was not a bad man, and had he not believed himself to be
a clever one all might yet have been well. The temptation of his
cleverness lured him on. A stroke of the pen was a very simple thing
. . .
To save his soul he thought that he would go and see Maggie. His
affection for her, conceited and selfish though it was, was the most
genuine thing in him. For three-quarters of the year he forgot her,
but when life went badly he thought of her again--not that he
expected to get anything out of her, but she was good to him and she
knew nothing about his life, two fine bases for safety.
"What have they been doing to her, those damned hypocrites, I
wonder," was his thought. He admired, feared, and despised his
sisters. "All that stuff about God" frightened him in spite of
himself, and he knew, in his soul, that Anne was no hypocrite.
He rang the bell and faced Martha. He had dressed himself with some
care and was altogether more tidy just then, having a new mistress
who cared about outside appearances. Also, having been sober for
nearly two months, he looked a gentleman.
"Is my niece at home?" he asked, blinking because he was frightened
She did not seem to be prepared to let him in.
"Miss Maggie has been very ill," she said, frowning at him.
"Ill?" That really hurt him. He stammered, "Why? . . . When?"
She moved aside then for him to pass into the hall. He came into the
dark stuffy place.
"Yes," said Martha. "Just after Christmas. Brain-fever, the doctors
said. They thought she'd die for weeks. Had two doctors . . . You
can't see her, sir," she ended grumpily.
Then Aunt Anne appeared, coming through the green-baize door.
"Why, Mathew," she said. Mathew thought how ill she looked.
"They're all ill here," he said to himself.
"So Maggie's ill," he said, dropping his eyes before her as he
"Yes," Aunt Anne answered. "She was very ill indeed, poor child. I'm
glad to see you, Mathew. It's a long time since you've been."
He thought she was gentler to him than she had been, so, mastering
his fear of her, fingering his collar, he said:
"Can't I see her?"
"Well, I'm not . . . I think you might. It might do her good. She
wants taking out of herself. She comes down for an hour or two every
day now. I'll go and see." She left him standing alone there. He
looked around him, sniffing like a dog. How he hated the house and
everything in it! Always had . . . You could smell that fellow
Warlock's trail over everything. The black cat, Tom, came slipping
along, looked for a moment as though he would rub himself against
Mathew's stout legs, then decided that he would not. Mysterious this
place like a well, with its green shadows. No wonder the poor child
had been ill here. At the thought of her being near to death Mathew
felt a choke in his throat. Poor child, never had any fun all her
life and then to die in a green well like this. And his sisters
wouldn't care if she did, hard women, hard women. Funny how religion
made you hard, darn funny. Good thing he'd been irreligious all his
life. Think of his brother Charles! There was religion for you,
living with his cook and preaching to her next morning. Bad thing
Aunt Anne returned, coming down the stairs with that queer halting
gait of hers.
"Maggie's in the drawing-room," she said. "She'll like to see you."
As they went up, Aunt Anne said: "Be careful with her, Mathew. She's
still very weak. Don't say anything to upset her?"
He mumbled something in his throat. Couldn't trust him. Of course
they couldn't. Never had . . . Fine sort of sisters they were.
Maggie was sitting by the fire, a shawl over her shoulders. By God,
but she looked ill. Mathew had another gulp in his throat. Poor kid,
but she did look ill. Poor kid, poor kid.
"Sorry you've been bad, Maggie," he said.
She looked up, smiling with pleasure, when she saw who it was. Yes,
she was really pleased to see him. But how different a smile from
the old one! No blood behind it, none of that old Maggie
determination. He was filled with compassion. He took a chair close
beside her and sat down, leaning towards her, his large rather
sheepish eye gazing at her.
"What's been the matter?" he asked.
"I don't know," Maggie said. "I was suddenly ill one day, and after
that I didn't know any more for weeks. But I'm much better now."
"Well, I'm delighted to hear that anyway," he said heartily. He was
determined to cheer her up. "You'll be as right as rain presently."
"Of course I shall. I've felt so lazy, as though I didn't want to do
anything. Now I must stir myself."
"Have the old women been good to you?" he asked, dropping his voice.
"Very," she answered.
"Not bothering you about all their religious tommy-rot?"
She looked down at her hands.
"No," she said.
"And that hypocritical minister of theirs hasn't been at you again?"
"Mr. Warlock's dead," she answered very quietly.
"Warlock dead!" Uncle Mathew half rose from his chair in his
astonishment. "That fellow dead! Well, I'm damned, indeed I am. That
fellow--! Well, there's a good riddance! I know it isn't good form
to speak about a man who's kicked the bucket otherwise than kindly,
but he was a weight on my chest that fellow was, with his long white
beard and his soft voice . . . Well, well. To be sure! Whatever will
my poor sisters do? And what's happened to that young chap, his son,
nice lad he was, took dinner with us that day last year?"
"He's gone away," said Maggie. Mathew, stupid though he was, heard
behind the quiet of Maggie's voice a warning. He flung her a hurried
surreptitious look. Her face was perfectly composed, her hands still
upon her lap. Nevertheless he said to himself, "Danger there, my
boy! Something's happened there!"
And yet his curiosity drove him for a moment further.
"Gone, has he? Where to?"
"He went abroad," said Maggie, "after his father's death. I don't
know where he's gone."
"Oh, did he? Pity! Restless, I expect--I was at his age."
There was a little pause between them when Maggie sat very quietly
looking at her hands. Then, smiling, she glanced up and said:
"But tell me about yourself, Uncle Mathew. You've told me nothing."
He fidgeted a little, shifting his thick legs, stroking his nose
with his finger.
"I don't know that I've anything very good to tell you, my dear.
Truth is, I haven't been doing so very well lately."
"Oh, Uncle, I'm sorry!"
"It's nothing to make yourself miserable about, my dear. I always
turn my corners. Damn rocky ones they are sometimes too.
Everything's turned itself wrong these last weeks, either too soon
or too late. I don't complain, all the same it makes things a bit
inconvenient. Thank you for that five pounds you sent me, my dear,
very helpful it was I can tell you."
"Do you want another five pounds?" she asked him. He struggled with
himself. His hesitation was so obvious that it was quite touching.
She put her hand on his knee.
"Do have another five pounds, Uncle. It won't be difficult for me at
all. I've been spending nothing all these weeks when I've been ill.
He shook his head firmly.
"No, my dear, I won't. As I came along I said to myself, 'Now,
you'll be asking Maggie for money, and when she says "Yes" you're
not to take it'--and so I'm not going to. I may be a rotter--but I'm
not a rotten rotter."
He clung to his decision with the utmost resolve as though it were
his last plank of respectability.
"I can't believe," he said to her with great solemnity, "that things
can really go wrong. I know too much. It isn't men like me who go
under. No. No."
He saw then her white face and strange grey ghostly eyes as though
her soul had gone somewhere on a visit and the house was untenanted.
He felt again the gulp in his throat. He bent forward, resting his
fat podgy hand on her knee.
"Don't you worry, Maggie dear. I've always noticed that things are
never bad for long. You've still got your old uncle, and you're
young, and there are plenty of fish in the sea . . . there are
indeed. You cheer up! It will be all right soon."
She put her hands on his.
"Oh I'm not--worrying." But as she spoke a strange strangled little
sob had crept unbidden into her throat, choking her.
He thought, as he got up, "It's that damned young feller I gave
dinner to. I'd like to wring his neck."
But he said no more, bent closer and kissed her, said he was soon
coming again, and went away.
After he had gone the house sank into its grey quiet again. What was
Maggie thinking? No one knew. What was Aunt Anne thinking? No one
knew . . . But there was something between these two, Maggie and
Aunt Anne. Every one felt it and longed for the storm to burst. Bad
enough things outside with Mr. Warlock dead, members leaving right
and left, and the Chapel generally going to wrack and ruin, but
Old Martha, who had never liked Maggie, felt now a strange,
uncomfortable pity for her. She didn't want to feel pity, no, not
she, pity for no one, and especially not for an ugly untidy girl
like that, but there it was, she couldn't help herself! Such a child
that girl, and she'd been as nearly dead as nothing, and now she was
suffering, suffering awful . . . Any one could see . . . All that
Warlock boy. Martha had seen him come stumbling down the stairs that
day and had heard Maggie's cry and then the fall. Awful noise it
made. Awful. She'd stood in the hall, looking up the stairs, her
heart beating like a hammer. Yes, just like a hammer! Then she'd
gone up. It wasn't a nice sight, the poor girl all in a lump on the
floor and Miss Anne just as she always looked before one of her
attacks, as though she were made of grey glass from top to toe . . .
But Martha hadn't pitied Maggie then. Oh, no. Might as well die as
not. Who wanted her? No one. Not even her young man apparently.
Better if she died. But slowly something happened to Martha. Not
that she was sentimental. Not in the least. But thoughts would steal
in--steal in just when you were at your work. The girl lying there
so good and patient--all the pots and pans winking at you from the
kitchen-wall. Must remember to order that ketchup--cold last night
in bed--think another blanket . . . yes, very good and patient.
Can't deny it. Always smiles just that same way. Smiles at every one
except Miss Arne. Won't smile at her. Wonder why not? Something
between those two. What about dinner? A little onion fry--that's the
thing these damp days--Onion fry--Onion Fry. ONION FRY . . . One
last look back before the world is filled with the sense, smell, and
taste of it.--Poor girl, so white and so patient--the young man will
never come back--never . . . never . . . ONION FRY.
No; no one knew what Maggie was thinking. No one found out until
Maggie had her second visitor, Miss Avies.
When Martha opened the door to Miss Avies she was astonished. Miss
Avies hadn't been near the house since old Warlock died. What was
she wanting here now, with her stiff back and bossy manner.
"I don't know whether you can see--"
"Oh nonsense, it's Maggie Cardinal I want to see. She's now in the
drawing-room sitting on a chair with a shawl on by the fire. Don't
Martha quivered with anger. "The doctor's orders is--"
"I'm going to be doctor to-day," she said, and strode inside. She
went upstairs and found Aunt Elizabeth sitting with Maggie.
"How do you do, Miss Cardinal?" They shook hands, Miss Avies
standing over Aunt Elizabeth like the boa constrictor raised above
"That's all right . . . No, I don't want to see your sister. And to
be quite honest, I don't want to see you either. It's your niece I
want to see. And alone--"
"Certainly--it's only the doctor said--"
"Not to excite her. I know. But I'm not going to excite her. I'm
going to give her some medicine. You come back in half an hour from
now. Will you? That's right. Thank you so much."
Aunt Elizabeth, unhappy, uncomfortable, filled with misgivings, as
in these days she always was, left the room.
"Well, there . . . that's right," said Miss Avies, settling herself
in the opposite side of the fire from Maggie and looking at her with
not unfriendly eyes. "How are you?"
"Oh much better, thank you," said Maggie. "Ever so much better."
"No, you're not," said Miss Avies. "And you're only lying when you
say you are. You'll never get better unless you do what I tell you--
"What's that?" asked Maggie.
"Face things. Face everything. Have it all out. Don't leave a bit of
it alone, and then just keep what's useful."
"I don't quite know what you mean," said Maggie--but the faint
colour had faded from her cheeks and her hands had run together for
Miss Avies's voice softened--"I'm probably going away very soon,"
she said, "going away and not coming back. All my work's over here.
But I wanted to see you before I went. You remember another talk we
"Very well," said Maggie.
"You remember what I told you?"
"You told me not to stay here," said Maggie.
"Yes, I did." said Miss Avies. "and I meant it. The matter with you
is that you've been kept here all this time without any proper work
to do and that's been very bad for you and made you sit with your
hands folded in front of you, your head filling with silly fancies."
Maggie couldn't help smiling at this description of herself.
"Oh, you smile," said Miss Avies vigorously, "but it's perfectly
"Well, it's all right now." said Maggie, "because I am going away--
as soon as ever I'm well enough." "What to do?" asked Miss Avies.
"I don't quite know yet," said Maggie.
"Well, I know," said Miss Avies. "You're going away to brood over
that young man."
Maggie said nothing.
"Oh I know . . . It seems cruel of me to speak of it just when
you've had such a bad time, but it's kindness really. If I don't
force you to think it all out and face it properly you'll be burying
it in some precious spot and always digging it up to look at it. You
face it, my girl. You say to yourself--well, he wasn't such a
wonderful young man after all. I can lead my life all right without
him--of course I can. I'm not going to be dependent on him and sigh
and groan and waste away because I can't see him. I know what it is.
I've been through it myself."
Then there was a pause; then Maggie suddenly looked up and smiled.
"But you're quite wrong, Miss Avies. I've no intention of not facing
Martin, and I've no intention either of having my life ruined
because he's not here. At first, when I was very ill, I was unhappy,
and then I saw how silly I was."
"Why?" said Miss Avies with great pleasure. "You've got over it
already! I must say I'm delighted because I never thought much of
Martin Warlock if you want to know, my dear. I always thought him a
weak young man, and he wouldn't have done you any good. I'm
delighted--indeed I am."
"That's not true either," said Maggie quietly. "If by getting over
it you mean that I don't love Martin you're quite wrong. I loved him
the first moment I saw him and I shall love him in just the same way
until I die. I don't think it matters what he does or where he is so
far as loving him goes. But that doesn't mean I'm sitting and
pining. I'm not."
Miss Avies looked at her with displeasure.
"It's the same thing then," she said. "You may fancy you're going to
lead an ordinary life again, but all the time you'll just be waiting
for him to come back."
"No," said Maggie, "I shall not. I've had plenty of time for
thinking these last weeks, and I've made up my mind to his never
coming back--never at all. And even if he did come back he mightn't
want me. So I'm not going to waste time about it. I shall find work
and make myself useful somewhere, but I shall always love Martin
just as I do now."
"You're rery young," said Miss Avies, touched in spite of herself.
"Later on you'll find some one much better than young Warlock."
"Perhaps I shall," said Maggie. "But what's the use of that if he
isn't Martin? I've heard people say that before--some one's 'better'
or 'stronger' or 'wiser.'--But what has that got to do with it? I
love Martin because he's Martin. He's got a weak character you say.
That's why he wants me, and I want to be wanted more than anything
"Why, child," said Miss Avies, astonished. "How you've grown these
"Do you want to know how I love Martin," said Maggie, "so that there
shall be no mistake about it? Well, I can't tell you. I couldn't
tell any one. I don't know how I love him, but I know that I shall
never change or alter all my life--even though he never comes back
again. I've given over being silly," she went on. "There were days
and days at first when I just wanted to die. But now I'm going to
make my own life and have a good time--and never stop loving Martin
for one single second."
"Supposing," said Miss Avies, "some one wanted to marry you? Would
"It would depend," said Maggie; "if I liked him and he really wanted
me and I could help him I might. Only, of course, I'd tell him about
She went on after a little pause: "You see, Miss Avies, I haven't
been very happy with my aunts, and I always thought it was their
fault that I wasn't. But during these weeks when I've been lying in
bed I saw that it was my own fault for being so gloomy about
everything. Now that I've got Martin--"
"Got him!" interrupted Miss Avies; "why, you've only just lost him!"
"No, I haven't," answered Maggie. "He didn't go away because he
hated me or was tired of me, he went away because he didn't want to
do me any harm, and I think he cared for me more just at that minute
than he'd ever done before. So I've nothing to spoil my memory of
him. I daresay we wouldn't have got on well, together, I don't think
I would ever have fascinated him enough to keep him with me for very
long--but now I know that he loved me at the very moment he went
away and wasn't thinking how ugly I was or what a nasty temper I had
or how irritating I could be."
"But, my dear child," said Miss Avies, astonished. "How can you say
you loved one another if you were always quarrelling and expecting
to part?" "We weren't always quarrelling," said Maggie. "We weren't
together enough, but if we had been it wouldn't have meant that we
didn't love one another. I don't think we'd ever been very happy,
but being happy together doesn't seem to me the only sign of love.
Love seems to me to be moments of great joy rising from every kind
of trouble and bother. I don't call tranquillity happiness."
"Well, you have thought things out," said Miss Avies, "and all of us
considering you so stupid--"
"I'm not going to squash myself into a corner any more," said
Maggie. "Why should I? I find I'm as good as any one else. I made
Martin love me--even though it was only for a moment. So I'm going
to be shy no longer."
"And here was I thinking you heart-broken," said Miss Avies.
"I'm going out into the world," said Maggie half to herself. "I'm
going to have adventures. I've been in this house long enough. I'm
going to see what men and women are really like--I know this isn't
real here. And I want to discover about religion too. Since Martin
went away I've felt that there was something in it. I can't think
what and the aunts can't think either; none of you know here, but
some one must have found out something. I'm going to settle what it
"You've got your work cut out," said Miss Avies. "I'll come and see
you again one day soon."
"Yes, do," said Maggie.
When Miss Avies had gone Maggie realised that she had been talking
with bravado--in fact she hid her head in the cushion of the chair
and cried for at least five minutes. Then she sat up and wiped her
eyes because she heard Aunt Anne coming. When Aunt Anne came towards
her now she was affected with a strange feeling of sickness. She
told herself that that was part of her illness. She did not hate
Aunt Anne. For some weeks, when she had risen slowly from the
nightmare that the first period of her illness had been, she hated
Aunt Anne, hated her fiercely, absorbingly, desperately. Then
suddenly the hatred had left her, and had she only known it she was
from that moment never to hate any one again. A quite new love for
Martin was suddenly born in her, a love that was, as yet, like the
first faint stirring of the child in the mother's womb. This new
love was quite different from the old; that had been acquisitive,
possessive, urgent, restless, and often terribly painful; this was
tranquil, sure, utterly certain, and passive. The immediate fruit of
it was that she regarded all human creatures with a lively interest,
an interest too absorbing to allow of hatred or even active dislike.
Her love for Martin was now like a strong current in her soul
washing away all sense of irritation and anger. She regarded people
from a new angle. What were they all about? What were they thinking?
Had they too had some experience as marvellous as her meeting with
and parting from Martin? Probably; and they too were shy of speaking
of it. Her love for Martin slowly grew, a love now independent of
earthly contact and earthly desire, a treasure that would be hers
so long as life lasted, that no one could take from her.
She no longer hated Aunt Anne, but she did not intend to live with
her any more. So soon as she was well enough she would go. That
moment of physical contact when Aunt Anne had held her back made any
more relation between them impossible. There was now a great gulf
The loneliness, the sense of desperate loss, above all the agonising
longing for Martin, his step, his voice, his smile--she faced all
these and accepted them as necessary companions now on her life's
journey, but she did not intend to allow them to impede progress.
She wondered now about everybody. Her own experience had shown her
what strange and wonderful things occur to all human beings, and, in
the face of this, how could one hate or grudge or despise? She had a
fellowship now with all humanity.
But she was as ignorant about life as ever. The things that now she
wanted to know! About Aunt Anne, for instance. How had she been
affected by Mr. Warlock's death and the disappointment of her
expectations? The Chapel now apparently was to be taken over by
Thurston, who had married Amy Warlock and was full of schemes and
enterprises. Maggie knew that the aunts went now very seldom to
Chapel, and the Inside Saints were apparently in pieces. Was Aunt
Anne utterly broken by all this? She did not seem to be so. She
seemed to be very much as she had been, except that she was in her
room now a great deal. Her health appeared, on the whole, to be
better than it had been. And what was Aunt Elizabeth thinking? And
Martha? And Miss Avies? And Caroline Smith? . . .
No, she must get out into the world and discover these things for
herself. She did not know how the way of escape would come, but she
was certain of its arrival.
It arrived, and through her third visitor. Her third visitor was
When Katherine Mark came in Maggie was writing to Uncle Mathew. She
put aside her writing-pad with a little exclamation of surprise.
Mrs. Mark, the very last person in all the world whom she had
expected to see! As she saw her come in she had a swift intuition
that this was Destiny now that was dealing with her, and that a new
scene, involving every sort of new experience and adventure, was
opening before her. More than ever before she realised how far
Katherine Mark was from the world in which she, Maggie, had during
all these months been living. Katherine Mark was Real--Real in her
beautiful quiet clothes, in her assurance, her ease, the sense that
she gave that she knew life and love and business and all the
affairs of men at first hand, not only seen through a mist of
superstition and ignorance, or indeed not seen at all.
"This is what I want," something in Maggie called to her.
"This will make me busy and quiet and sensible--at last--"
When Katherine Mark sat down and took her hand for a moment, smiling
at her in the kindliest way, Maggie felt as though she had known her
all her life.
"Oh! I'm so glad you've come!" she cried spontaneously; and then, as
though she felt she'd gone too far, she blushed and drew back.
But Katherine held her hand fast.
"I wrote," she said, "some weeks ago to you, and your aunt answered
the letter saying you were very ill. Then, as I heard nothing of
you, I was anxious and came to see what had happened. You've not
kept your word, Maggie, you know. We were to have been great
friends, and you've never been near me."
At the use of her Christian name Maggie blushed with pleasure.
"I couldn't come," she said. "I didn't want to until--until--until
some things had settled themselves."
"Well--and they have?" asked Katherine.
"Yes--they have," said Maggie.
"What's been the matter?" asked Katherine.
"I was worried about something, and then I was ill," said Maggie.
"And you're not worried now?" said Katherine.
"I'm not going to give in to it, anyway," said Maggie. "As soon as
I'm well, I'm off. I'll find some work somewhere."
"I've got a plan," said Katherine. "It came into my head the moment
I saw you sitting there. Will you come and stay with us for a
That sense that Maggie had had when she saw Katherine of fate having
a hand in all of this deepened now and coloured her thoughts, so
that she could feel no surprise but only a curious instinct that she
had been through all this scene before.
"Stay with you!" she cried. "Oh, I should love to!"
"That's good," said Katherine. "Your aunts won't mind, will they?"
"They can't keep me," said Maggie. "I'm free. But they won't want
to. Our time together is over--"
"I'll come and fetch you to-morrow," said Katherine. "You shall stay
with us until you're quite well, and then we'll find some work for
"Why are you good to me like this?" Maggie asked.
"I'm not good to you," Katherine answered, laughing. "It's simply
selfish. It will be lovely for me having you with me."
"Oh, you don't know," said Maggie, throwing up her head.
"No, I don't think I'll come. I'm frightened. I'm not what you
think. I'm untidy and careless and can't talk to strangers. Perhaps
I'll lose you altogether as a friend if I come."
"You'll never do that," said Katherine, suddenly bending forward and
kissing her. "I don't change about people. It's because I haven't
any imagination, Phil says."
"I shall make mistakes," Maggie said. "I've never been anywhere. But
I don't care. I can look after myself."
The thought of her three hundred pounds (which were no longer three
hundred) encouraged her. She kissed Katherine.
"I don't change either," she said.
She had a strange conversation with Aunt Anne that night, strange as
every talk had always been because of things left unsaid. They faced
one another across the fireplace like enemies who might have been
lovers; there had been from the very first moment of this meeting a
romantic link between them which had never been defined. They had
never had it out with one another, and they were not going to have
it out now; but Maggie, who was never sentimental, wondered at the
strange mixture of tenderness, pity, affection, irritation and
hostility that she felt.
"Aunt Anne, I'm going away to-morrow," said Maggie.
"To-morrow!" Aunt Anne looked up with her strange hostile arrogance.
"Oh no, Maggie. You're not well yet."
"Mrs. Mark," said Maggie, "the lady I told you about, is coming in a
motor to fetch me. She will take me straight to her house, and then
I shall go to bed."
Aunt Anne said nothing.
"You know that it's better for me to go," said Maggie. "We can't
live together any more after what happened. You and Aunt Elizabeth
have been very very good to me, but you know now that I'm a
disappointment. I haven't ever fitted into the life here. I never
"The life here is over," said Aunt Anne. "Everything is over--the
house is dead. Of course you must go. If you feel anger with me now
or afterwards remember that I have lost every hope or desire I ever
had. I don't want your pity. I want no one's pity. I wanted once
your affection, but I wanted it on my own terms. That was wrong. I
do not want your affection any longer; you were never the girl I
thought you. You're a strange girl, Maggie, and you will have, I am
afraid, a very unhappy life."
"No, I will not," said Maggie. "I will have a happy life."
"That is for God to say," said Aunt Anne.
"No, it is not," said Maggie. "I can make my own happiness. God
can't touch it, if I don't let Him."
"Maggie, you're blasphemous," said Aunt Anne, but not in anger.
"I'm not," said Maggie. "When I came here first I didn't believe in
God, but now--I'm not sure. There's something strange, which may be
God for all I know. I'm going to find out. If He has the doing of
everything then He's taken away all I cared for, and I'm not going
to give Him the satisfaction of seeing that it hurt; if He didn't do
it, then it doesn't matter."
"You'll believe in Him before you die, Maggie," said Aunt Anne.
"It's in you, and you won't escape it. I thought it was I who was to
bring you to Him, but I was going too fast. The Lord has His own
time. You'll come to Him afterwards."
"Oh," cried Maggie. "I'm so glad I'm going somewhere where it won't
be always religion, where they'll think of something else than the
Lord and His Coming. I want real life, banks and motor-cars and
shops and clothes and work . . ."
She stopped suddenly.
Aunt Anne was doing what Maggie had never seen her do before, even
in the worst bouts of her pain--she was crying . . . cold solitary
lonely tears that crept slowly, reluctantly down her thin cheeks.
"I meant to do well. In everything I have done ill . . . Everything
has failed in my hands--"
Once again, as long before at St. Dreot's, Maggie could do nothing.
There was a long miserable silence, then Aunt Anne got up and went
Next day Katherine came in a beautiful motor-car to fetch Maggie.
Maggie had packed her few things. Bound her neck next her skin was
the ring with three pearls . . .
She said good-bye to the house: her bedroom beneath which the motor-
omnibuses clanged, the sitting-room with the family group, the
passage with the Armed Men, the dark hall with the green baize door
. . . then good-bye to Aunt Elizabeth (two kisses), Aunt Anne (one
kiss), Martha, Thomas the cat, the parrot . . . all, everything,
good-bye, good-bye, good-bye!
May I never see any of you again. Never, never, never, never! . . .
She was helped into the car, rugs were wrapped round her, there was
a warm cosy smell of rich leather, a little clock ticked away, a
silver vase with red and blue flowers winked at her, and Katherine
was there close beside her . . .
Never again, never again! And yet how strange, as they turned the
corner of the street down into the Strand, Maggie felt a sudden pang
of regret, of pathos, of loneliness, as though she were leaving
something that had loved her dearly, and leaving it without a word
"Poor dear!" She wanted to return, to tell it . . . to tell it what?
She had made her choice. She was plunging now into the other half of
the world, and plunging not quite alone, because she was taking
Martin with her.
"I do hope you won't mind, dear," said Katherine. "My cousin Paul--
the clergyman you met once--is staying with us. He and his sister.
No one else."
"Oh, I shan't mind," said Maggie. Her fingers, inside her blouse,
tightly clutched the little pearl ring.
PLUNGE INTO THE OTHER HALF
For a week Maggie was so comfortable that she could think of nothing
but that. It must be remembered that she had never before known what
comfort was, never at St. Dreot's, never at Aunt Anne's, and these
two places had been the background of all her life.
She had never conceived of the kind of way that she now lived. Her
bedroom was so pretty that it made her almost cry to look at it: the
wall-paper scattered with little rosy trees, the soft pink cretonne
on the chairs, the old bureau with a sheet of glass covering its
surface that was her dressing-table, the old gold mirror--all these
things were wonders indeed. She was ordered to have breakfast in
bed; servants looked after her with a kindliness and ease and
readiness to help that she had never dreamed of as possible. The
food was wonderful; there was the motor ready to take her for a
drive in the afternoon, and there was the whole house at her
service, soft and cosy and ordered so that it seemed to roll along
upon its own impulse without any human agency.
"I believe if every one went away and left it," she thought, "it
would go on in exactly the same way."
Figures gradually took their places in front of this background. The
principals at first were Katherine and Philip, Henry and Millicent,
Katherine's brother and sister, Mr. Trenchard senior, Katherine's
father, Lady Rachel Seddon, Katherine's best friend, and Mr.
Faunder, Katherine's uncle. She saw at once that they all revolved
around Katherine; if Katherine were not there they would not hold
together at all. They were all so different--so different and yet so
strangely alike. There was, for instance, Millicent Trenchard, whom
Maggie liked best of them all after Katherine. Millie was a young
woman of twenty-one, pretty, gay, ferociously independent,
enthusiastic about one thing after another, with hosts of friends,
male and female, none of whom she took very seriously. The love of
her life, she told Maggie almost at once, was Katherine. She would
never love any one, man or woman, so much again. She lived with her
mother and father in an old house in Westminster, and Maggie
understood that there had been some trouble about Katherine's
marriage, so that, although it happened three years ago, Mrs.
Trenchard would not come to see Katherine and would not allow
Katherine to come and see her.
Then there was Henry, a very strange young man. He was at Cambridge
and said to be very clever. He did indeed seem to lead a mysterious
life of his own and paid very little attention to Maggie, asking her
once whether she did not think The Golden Ass wonderful, and what
did she think of Petronius; and when Maggie laughed and said that
she was glad to say she never read anything, he left her in an
agitated horror. Lady Rachel Seddon was very grand and splendid, and
frightened Katherine. She was related to every kind of duke and
marquis, and although that fact did not impress Maggie in the least,
it did seem to remove Lady Rachel into quite another world.
But they were all in another world--Maggie discovered that at once.
They had, of course, every sort of catch-word and allusion and joke
that no one but themselves and the people whom they brought into the
house understood; Katherine was kindness itself. Philip too (he
seemed to Maggie a weak, amiable young man) took a lot of trouble
about her, but they did not belong to her nor she to them.
"And why should they?" said Maggie to herself. "I must look on it as
though I were staying at a delightful hotel and were going on with
my journey very soon."
There was somebody, however, who did not belong any more than Maggie
did, and very soon he became Maggie's constant companion--this was
the Rev. Paul Trenchard, Kathorine's cousin.
From the very moment months ago, when Maggie and he had first met in
Katherine's drawing-room, they had been friends. He had liked her,
Maggie felt, at once. She on her side was attracted by a certain
childlike simplicity and innocence. This very quality, she soon saw,
moved the others, Philip and Henry and Mr. Trenchard senior, to
derision. They did not like the Rev. Paul. They chaffed him, and he
was very easily teased, because he was not clever and did not see
their jokes. This put Maggie up in arms in his defence at once. But
they had all the layman's distrust of a parson. They were all polite
to him, of course, and Maggie discovered that in this world
politeness was of the very first importance, so that you really
never said what you thought nor did what you wanted to. They frankly
could not understand why Katherine asked the parson to stay, but
because they loved Katherine they were as nice to him as their
natures would allow them to be. Paul did not apparently notice that
they put him outside their life. He was always genial, laughed a
great deal when there WAS no reason to laugh at all, and told simple
little stories in whose effect he profoundly believed. He was
supported in his confidence by his sister Grace, who obviously
adored him. She too was "outside" the family, but she seemed to be
quite happy telling endless stories of Paul's courage and cleverness
and popularity. She did indeed believe that Skeaton-on-Sea, where
Paul had his living, was the hub of the universe, and this amused
all the Trenchard family very much indeed. It must not be supposed
that Paul and his sister were treated unkindly. They were shown the
greatest courtesy and hospitality, but Maggie knew that that was
only because it was the Trenchard tradition to do so, and not from
motives of affection or warmth of heart.
They could be warm-hearted; it was wonderful to see the way that
they all adored Katherine, and they had many friends for whom they
would do anything, but the Rev. Paul seemed to them frankly an ass,
and they would be glad when he went away.
He did not seem to Maggie an ass. She thought him the kindest person
she had ever known, kinder even than Katherine, because with
Katherine there was the faintest suspicion of patronage; no, not of
patronage--that was unfair . . . but of an effort to put herself in
exactly Maggie's place so that she might understand perfectly what
were Maggie's motives. With Paul Trenchard there was no effort, no
deliberate slipping out of one world into another one. He was
frankly delighted to tell Maggie everything--all about Skeaton-on-
Sea and its delights, about the church and its marvellous east
window, about the choir and the difficulties with the choir-boys and
the necessity for repairing the organ, about the troubles with the
churchwardens, especially one Mr. Bellows, who, in his cantankerous
and dyspeptic objections to everything that any one proposed, became
quite a lively figure to Maggie's imagination, about the St. John's
Brotherhood which had been formed to keep the "lads" out of the
public-houses and was doing so well, about the Shakespeare Reading
Society and a Mrs. Tempest (who also became a live figure in
Maggie's brain), "a born tragedian" and wonderful as Lady Macbeth
and Katherine of Aragon. Skeaton slowly revealed itself to Maggie as
a sunny sparkling place, with glittering sea, shining sand, and dark
cool woods, full of kindliness, too, and friendship and good-humour.
Paul and Grace Trenchard seemed to be the centre of this sunshine.
How heartily Paul laughed as he recounted some of the tricks and
escapades of his "young scamps." "Dear fellows," he would say, "I
love them all . . ." and Grace sat by smiling and nodding her head
and beaming upon her beloved brother.
To Maggie, fresh from the dark and confused terrors of the Chapel,
it was all marvellous. Here was rest indeed, here, with Martin
cherished warmly in her heart, she might occupy herself with duties
and interests. Here surely she would be useful to "somebody." She
heard a good deal of an old Mr. Toms, "a little queer in his head,
poor man," who seemed to figure in the outskirts of Skeaton society
as a warning and a reassurance. ("No one in Skeaton thinks of him in
any way but tenderly.") Maggie wondered whether he might not want
looking after . . .
The thought gradually occurred to her that this kindly genial
clergyman might perhaps find her some work in Skeaton. He even
himself hinted at something . . . She might be some one's secretary
About Grace Trenchard Maggie was not quite so sure. She was kindness
itself and liked to hold Maggie's hand and pat it--but there was no
doubt at all that she was just a little bit tiresome. Maggie rebuked
herself for thinking this, but again and again the thought arose.
Grace was in a state of perpetual wonder, everything amazed her. You
would not think to look at her flat broad placidity that she was a
creature of excitement, and it might be that her excitement was
rather superficial. She would say: "Why! Just fancy, Maggie! . . .
To-day's Tuesday!" Then you wondered what was coming next and
nothing came at all. She had endless stories about her adventures in
the streets of London, and these stories were endless because of all
the details that must be fitted in, and then the details slipped out
of her grasp and winked at her maliciously as they disappeared. The
fact was perhaps that she was not very clever, but then Maggie
wasn't very clever either, so she had no right to criticise Miss
Trenchard, who was really as amiable as she could be. Henry
Trenchard said once to Maggie in his usual scornful way:
"Oh, Grace! . . . She's the stupidest woman in Skeaton, which means
the stupidest woman in the world."
The Trenchards, Maggie thought, were rather given to scorning every
one save themselves. Even Philip, who was not a Trenchard, had
caught the habit. Katherine, of course, despised no one and liked
every one, but that was rather tiresome too.
In fact at the end of her first week Maggie thought that as soon as
possible she would find a room for herself somewhere and start to
earn her living. She discovered that she was developing a new
sensitiveness. When she was living with the aunts she had not minded
very seriously the criticisms made upon her; she had indeed been
disappointed when Aunt Anne had not admired her new dress, and she
had hated Amy Warlock's rudeness, but that was because Martin had
been involved. This new sensitiveness worried her; she hated to care
whether people laughed at the way she came into a room or whether
she expressed foolish opinions about books and pictures. She had
always said just what she thought, but now, before Philip's kindly
attention and Mr. Trenchard senior's indulgence (he wrote books and
articles in the papers), she hated her ignorance. Paul Trenchard
knew frankly nothing about Art. "I know what I like," he said, "and
that's enough for me." He liked Watts's pictures and In Memoriam and
Dickens, and he heard The Messiah once a year in London if he could
leave his parish work. He laughed about it all. "The souls of men!
The souls of men!" he would say. "That is what I'm after, Miss
Cardinal. You're not going to catch them with the latest neurotic
novel, however well it's written."
Oh, he was kind to her! He was kinder and kinder and kinder. She
told him everything--except about Martin. She told him all about her
life at St. Dreot's and her father and Uncle Mathew, the aunts and
He was frankly shocked by the Chapel. "That's not the way to get
into heaven," he said. "We must be more patient than that. The daily
round, the daily task, that's the kind."
His physical presence began to pervade all her doings. He was
not handsome, but so clean, so rosy, and so strong. No mystery
about him, no terrors, no invasions from the devil. Everything
was clear and certain. He knew just where he was and exactly
whither he was going. One afternoon, when they were out in the
motor together, he took Maggie's hand under the rug and he held
it so calmly, so firmly, with so kindly a benevolence that she
could not be frightened or uncomfortable. He was like a large
friendly brother . . .
One day he called her Maggie. He blushed and laughed. "I'm so
sorry," he said. "It slipped out. I caught it from Katherine."
"Oh, please, . . . never mind," she answered. "Miss Cardinal's so
"Then you must call me Paul," he said.
A little conversation that Maggie had after this with Millicent
showed her in sharp relief exactly where she stood in relation to
the Trenchard family. They had been out in the motor together.
Millie had been shopping and now they were rolling back through the
"Are you happy with us, Maggie?" Millicent suddenly asked.
"Very happy," Maggie answered.
"Well, I hope you are," said Millicent. "I don't think that as a
family we're very good at making any one happy except ourselves. I
think we're very selfish."
"No, I don't think you're selfish," said Maggie, "but I think you're
sufficient for yourselves. I don't fancy you really want any one
"No, I don't think the others do. I do though. You don't suppose I'm
going to stay in the Trenchard bosom for ever, do you? I'm not, I
assure you. But what you've said means that you don't really feel at
home with us."
"I don't think I want to feel at home with you," Maggie answered. "I
don't belong to any of you. Contrast us, for instance. You've got
everything--good looks, money, cleverness, position. You can get
what you like out of life. I've got nothing. I'm plain, poor,
awkward, uneducated--and yet you know I wouldn't change places with
any one. I'd rather be myself than any one alive."
"Yes, you would," said Millicent, nodding her head. "That's you all
over. I felt it the moment you came into the house. You're
adventurous. We're not. Katherine was adventurous for a moment when
she married Philip, but she soon slipped back again. But you'll do
just what you want to always."
"I shall have to," said Maggie, laughing. "There's no one else to do
it for me. It isn't only that I don't belong to you--I've never
belonged to any one, only one person--and he's gone now. I belong to
him--and he'll never come back."
"Were you frightfully in love?" asked Millie, deeply interested.
"Yes," said Maggie.
"He oughtn't to have gone away like that," said Millicent.
"Yes, he ought," said Maggie. "He was quite right. But don't let's
bother about that. I've got to find some place now where I can work.
The worst of it is I'm so ignorant. But there must be something that
I ran do."
"There's Paul," said Millie.
"What do you mean?" asked Maggie.
"Oh, he cares like anything for you. You must have noticed. It began
after the first time he met you. He was always asking about you. Of
course every one's noticed it."
"Cares for me," Maggie repeated.
"Yes, of course. He's wanted to marry for a long time. Tired of
Grace bossing him, I expect. That doesn't sound very polite to you,
but I know that he cares for you apart from that--for yourself, I
mean. And I expect Grace is tired of housekeeping."
Maggie's feelings were very strange. Why should he care about her?
Did she want him to care? A strange friendly feeling stole about her
heart. She was not alone then, after all. Some one wanted her,
wanted her so obviously that every one had noticed it--did not want
her as Martin had wanted her, against his own will and judgment. If
he did offer her his home what would she feel?
There was rest there, rest and a real home, a home that she had
never in all her life known. Of course she did not love him in the
least. His approach did not make her pulses beat a moment faster,
she did not long for him to come when he was not there--but he
wanted her! That was the great thing. He wanted her!
"Of course if he asked you, you wouldn't really think of marrying
him?" said Millicent.
"I don't know," said Maggie slowly.
"What! Marry him and live in Skeaton!" Millicent was frankly amazed.
"Why, Skeaton's awful, and the people in it are awful, and Grace is
awful. In the summer it's all nigger-minstrels and bathing-tents,
and in the winter there isn't a soul--" Millicent shivered.
Maggie smiled. "Of course it seems dull to you, but my life's been
very different. It hasn't been very exciting, and if I could really
help him--" she broke off. "I do like him," she said. "He's the
kindest man I've ever met. Of course he seems dull to you who have
met all kinds of brilliant people. I hate brilliant people."
The car was in Bryanston Square. Just before it stopped Millie bent
over and kissed Maggie.
"I think you're a darling," she said.
But Millie didn't think Maggie "a darling" for long--that is, she
did not think about her at all for long; none of the family did.
So quiet was Maggie, so little in any one's way that, at the end of
a fortnight, she made no difference to any one in the house. She was
much better now, looking a different person, colour in her cheeks
and light in her eyes. During her illness they had cut her hair and
this made her look more than ever like a boy. She wore her plain
dark dresses, black and dark blue; they never quite fitted and, with
her queer odd face, her high forehead, rather awkward mouth, and
grave questioning eyes she gave you the impression that she had been
hurried into some disguise and was wearing it with discomfort but
amusement. Some one who met her at the Trenchards at this time said
of her: "What a funny girl! She's like a schoolboy dressed up to
play a part in the school speeches." Of course she was not playing a
part, no one could have been more entirely natural and honest, but
she was odd, strange, out of her own world, and every one felt it.
It was, perhaps, this strangeness that attracted Paul Trenchard. He
was, above everything, a kindly man-kindly, perhaps a little through
laziness, but nevertheless moved always by distress or misfortune in
others. Maggie was not distressed--she was quite cheerful and
entirely unsentimental--nevertheless she had been very ill, was
almost penniless, had had some private trouble, was au orphan, had
no friends save two old aunts, and was amazingly ignorant of the
This last was, perhaps, the thing that struck him most of all. He,
too, was ignorant of the world, but he didn't know that, and he was
amazed at the things that Maggie brushed aside as unimportant. He
found that he was beginning to think of her as "my little heathen."
His attitude was the same as that of a good missionary discovering a
naked but trusting native.
The thought of training this virgin mind was delightful to him.
He liked her quaintness, and one day suddenly, to his own surprise,
when they were alone in the drawing-room, he kissed her, a most
chaste kiss, gently on the forehead.
"Oh. my dear child--" he said in a kind of dismay.
She looked up at him with complete confidence. So gentle a kiss had
it been that it had been no more than a pressure of the hand.
A few days later Katherine spoke to her. She came up to her bedroom
just as Maggie was beginning to undress. Maggie stood in front of
the glass, her evening frock off, brushing her short thick hair
before the glass.
"Have you made any plans yet, dear?" asked Katherine.
Maggie shook her head.
"No." she said. "Not yet."
"I've got a confession to make," she said at last.
Maggie turned to look at her with her large childish eyes.
"Oh, I do hope you've done something wrong," she said, laughing,"
something really bad that I should have to 'overlook.'"
"What do you mean?" asked Katherine.
Maggie only said: "We'd be more on a level then."
"I don't think it's anything very bad. But the truth is, Maggie,
that I didn't ask you here only for my own pleasure and to make you
well. There was a third reason."
"I know," said Maggie; "Paul."
"My dear!" said Katherine, amazed. "How did you guess? I never
should have done."
"Paul's asked you to find out whether I like him," said Maggie.
"Yes," said Katherine.
"Well, I do like him." said Maggie.
"Don't think that I've been unfair," said Katherine. They were
sitting now side by side on Maggie's bed and Katherine's hand was on
Maggie's knee. "I'll tell you exactly how it happened. Paul was
interested in you from the moment that he saw you at my house ever
so long ago. He asked ever so many questions about you, and the next
time he stayed he wanted me to write and ask you to come and stay.
Well, I didn't. I knew from what you told me that you cared for
somebody else, and I didn't want to get Paul really fond of you if
it was going to be no good. You see, I've known Paul for ages. He's
nearly ten years older than I, but he used to come and stay with us
at Garth, when he was at Cambridge and before he was a clergyman."
"I'm very fond of him. I know the others think he's stupid simply
because he doesn't know the things that they do, but he's good and
kind and honest, and just exactly what he seems to be."
"I like him," repeated Maggie, nodding her head.
"He's been wanting to be married," went on Katherine, "for some
time. I'm going to tell you everything so that I shall have been
perfectly fair. Grace wants him to be married too. All her life
she's looked after him and he's always done exactly what she told
him. He's rather lazy and it's not hard for some one to get an
influence over him. Well, she's not really a very good manager. She
thinks she is, but she isn't. She arranges things and wants things
to stay just where she puts them, but she arranges all the wrong
unnecessary things. Still, it's easy to criticise, and I'm not a
very good manager myself. I think she's growing rather tired of it
and would like some one to take it off her hands. Of course Paul
must marry the right person, some one whom she can control and
manage, and some one who won't transplant her in Paul's affection.
That's her idea. But it's all nonsense, of course. You can't have
your cake and eat it. She simply doesn't understand what marriage is
like. When Paul marries she'll learn more about life in a month than
she's learnt in all her days. Well, Maggie, dear, she thinks you're
just the girl for Paul. She thinks she can do what she likes with
you. She thinks you're nice, of course, but she's going to 'form'
you and 'train' you. You needn't worry about that, you needn't
really, if you care about Paul. You'd manage both of them in a week.
But there it is--I thought I ought to warn you about Grace."
"As to Paul, I believe you'd be happy. You'd have your home and your
life and your friends. Skeaton isn't so bad if you live in it, I
believe, and Paul could get another living if you weren't happy
Did Katherine have any scruples as she pursued her argument? A real
glance at Maggie's confiding trustful gaze might have shaken her
resolve. This child who knew so little about anything--was Skeaton
the world for her? But Katherine had so many philanthropies that she
was given to finishing one off a little abruptly in order to make
ready for the next one.
She was interested just now in a scheme for adopting illegitimate
babies. She thought Maggie an "angel" and she just longed for her to
be happy. Nevertheless Maggie was very ignorant, and it was a little
difficult to see what trade or occupation she would be able to
adopt. She was nearly well now and Katherine did not know quite what
to do with her. Here was an admirable marriage, something that would
give a home and children and friends. What could be better? She had
just passed apparently through a love affair that could have led to
no possible good--solve the difficulty, make Maggie safe for life,
and pass on to the illegitimate babies!
"Of course, I don't love him," said Maggie, staring in front of her.
"But you like him," said Katherine. "It isn't as though Paul were a
very young man. He wouldn't expect anything very romantic. He isn't
really a romantic man himself."
"And I shall always love Martin," pursued Maggie.
Katherine's own romance had fulfilled itself so thoroughly that it
had almost ceased to be romantic. The Trenchard blood in her made
her a little impatient of unfulfilled romances.
"Don't you think, Maggie, dear," she said gently, "that it would be
better to forget him?"
"No, I don't," said Maggie, moving away from Katherine. "And I
should have to tell Paul about him. I'd tell Paul the exact truth,
that if I married him it was because I liked him and I thought we'd
be good friends. I see quite clearly that I can't sit for ever
waiting for Martin to come back, and the sooner I settle to
something the better. If Paul wants a friend I can be one, but I
should never love him--even though Martin wasn't there. And as to
the managing, I'm dreadfully careless and forgetful."
"You'd soon learn," said Katherine.
"Do you think I should?" asked Maggie. "I don't know, I'm sure. As
to Grace, I think we'd get on all right. There's a greater
difficulty than that though."
"What?" asked Katherine as Maggie hesitated.
"Religion," said Maggie. "Paul's a clergyman and I don't believe in
his religion at all. Two months ago I'd have said I hated all
religion--and so would you if you'd had a time like me. But since
Martin's gone I'm not so sure. There's some-thing I want to find out
. . . But Paul's found out everything. He's quite sure and certain.
I'd have to tell him I don't believe in any of his faith."
"Tell him. of course," said Katherine. "I think he knows that
already. He's going to convert you. He looks forward to it. If he
hadn't been so lazy he'd have been a missionary."
"Tell me about Skeaton," said Maggie.
"I've only been there once," said Katherine. "Frankly, I didn't like
it very much, but then I'm so used to the Glebeshire sea that it all
seemed rather tame. There was a good deal of sand blowing about the
day I was there, but Paul's house is nice with a garden and a
croquet-lawn, and--and--Oh! very nice, and nice people next door I
"I'm glad it's not like Glebeshire," said Maggie. "That's a point in
its favour. I want to be somewhere where everything is quiet and
orderly, and every one knows their own mind and all the bells ring
at the right time and no one's strange or queer, and--most of all--
where no one's afraid of anything. All my life I've been with people
who were afraid and I've been afraid myself. Now Paul and Grace are
not afraid of anything."
"No, they're not," said Katherine, laughing.
Suddenly Maggie broke out:
"Katherine! Tell me truly. Does Paul want me, does he need me? Does
The storm of appeal in Maggie's voice made Katherine suddenly shy;
there was a hint at loneliness and desolation there that was
something beyond her reach. She wanted to help. She was suddenly
frightened at her urging of Paul's suit. Something seemed to say to
her: "Leave this alone. Don't take the responsibility of this. You
don't understand . . ."
But another voice said: "Poor child . . . all alone, penniless,
without a friend. What a chance for her! Paul such a kind man."
So she kissed Maggie, and said: "He wants you dreadfully, Maggie
Maggie's cheeks flushed.
"That's nice," she said in her most ordinary voice. "Because no one
ever has before, you know."
Paul's proposal came the very next day. It came after luncheon in a
corner of the drawing-room.
Maggie knew quite well that it was coming. She was lying in a long
chair near the fire, a shawl over her knees. It was a blustering day
at the end of February. The windows rattled, and the wind rushing
down the chimney blew the flame into little flags and pennants of
Paul came and stood by the fire, warming his hands, his legs spread
out. Maggie looked at him with a long comprehensive glance that took
him in from head to foot. She seemed to know then that she was going
to marry him. A voice seemed to say to her: "Look at him well. This
is the man you're going to live with. You'd better realise him."
She did realise him; his white hair, his rosy cheeks, his boyish
nose and mouth and rounded chin, his broad chest, thick long legs
and large white hands--soft perhaps, but warm and comfortable and
safe. Maggie could think of little else as she looked at him but of
how nice it would be to lay her head back on that broad chest, feel
his arms around her, and forget--forget--forget!
That was what she needed--forgetfulness and work . . . She did not
love him--no, not one little atom. She had never felt less
excitement about anybody, but she liked him, respected him, and
trusted him. And he wanted her, wanted her desperately, Katherine
had said, that was the chief thing of all.
"Maggie!" he said suddenly, turning round to her. "Would you ever
think of marrying me ?"
She liked that directness and simplicity, characteristic of him.
She looked up at him.
"I don't think I'd be much of a success, Paul," she said.
He saw at once from that that she did not intend instantly to refuse
him. His rosy cheeks took on an added tinge of colour and he caught
a chair, drew it up to her long one and sat down, bending eagerly
"Leave that to me," he said.
"I oughtn't to think of it," she answered, shaking her head. "And
for very good reasons. For one thing I'm not in love with you, for
another I'm not religious, and for a third I'm so careless that I'd
never do for your wife."
"Of course I knew about the first," he said eagerly. "I knew you
didn't love me, but that will come, Maggie. It MUST come . . ."
Maggie shook her head. "I love some one else," she said, "and I
always will. But he's gone away and will never come back. I've made
up my mind to that. But if he did come back and wanted me I couldn't
promise that I wouldn't--" She broke off. "You can see that it
"No, I can't see," he said, taking her hand. "I can see that you
like me, Maggie. I can see that we're splendid friends. If your
other--friend--has left you altogether, then--well, time makes a
great difference in those things. I think after we'd been together a
little--Oh, Maggie, do!" he broke off just like a boy. "Do! We suit
each other so well that we MUST be happy, and then Grace likes you--
she likes you very much. She does indeed."
"Let's leave Grace out of this," Maggie said firmly. "It's between
you and me, Paul. It's nobody else's affair. What about the other
two objections? I don't believe in your faith at all, and I'm
unpunctual and forgetful, and break things."
Strangely she was wanting him urgently now to reassure her. She
realised that if now he withdrew she would be faced with a
loneliness more terrible than anything that she had known since
Martin had left her. The warm pressure of his hand about hers
"Maggie dear," he said softly, "I love you better because you're
young and unformed. I can help you, dear, and you can help me, of
course; I'm a dreadful old buffer in many ways. I'm forty, you know,
and you're such a child. How old are you, Maggie?"
"Twenty," she said.
"Twenty! Fancy! And you can like an old parson--well, well . . . If
you care for me nothing else matters. God will see to the rest."
"I don't like leaving things to other people," Maggie said slowly.
"Now I suppose I've shocked you. But there you are; I shall always
be shocking you."
"Nothing that you can say will shock me," he answered firmly. "Do
you know that that's part of the charm you have for me, you dear
little wild thing? If you will come and live with me perhaps you
will see how God works, how mysterious are His ways, and what He
means to do for you--"
Maggie shivered: "Oh, now you're talking like Aunt Anne. I don't
want to feel that I'm something that some one can do what he likes
with. I'm not."
"No. I know you're not," Paul answered eagerly. "You're very
independent. I admire that in you--and so does Grace--"
"Would Grace like us to marry?" asked Maggie.
"It's the desire of her heart," said Paul.
"But how can you want to marry me when you know I don't love you ?"
"Love's a strange thing. Companionship can make great changes. You
like me. That is enough for the present. I can be patient. I'm not
an impetuous man."
He was certainly not. He was just a large warm comfortable
creature far, far from the terrified and strangely travelled soul
of Martin . . . Insensibly, hardly realising what she did, Maggie
was drawn towards Paul. He drew close to her, moved on to the sofa,
and then with one arm about her let her head rest against his chest.
Maggie could neither move nor speak. She only felt a warm comfort,
an intense desire for rest.
Very, very gently he bent down and kissed her forehead. The clock
ticked on. The flames of the fire spurted and fell. Maggie's eyes
closed, she gave a little sigh, and soon, her cheek against his
waistcoat, like a little child, was fast asleep.
The engagement was a settled thing. Every one in the house was
relieved. Maggie herself felt as though she had found lights and
safety, running from a wood full of loneliness and terror. She was
sharp enough to see how relieved they all were that she was
'settled.' They were true kindly people, and now they were more kind
to her than ever: that showed that they had been uneasy about her.
She was 'off their hands now.'
Maggie, when she saw this in the faces of Philip and Mr. Trenchard,
and even of Millicent, was glad that she was engaged. She was
somebody's now; she had friends and a home and work now, and she
would banish all that other world for ever. For ever? . . . How
curious it was that from the moment of her engagement her aunts,
their house, the Chapel, and the people around it began to press
upon her attention with a pathos and sentiment that she had never
felt before. She went to see the aunts, of course, and sat in the
old drawing-room for half-an-hour, and they were kind and distant.
They were glad that she was to be married; they hoped that she would
be happy. Aunt Anne looked very ill, and there was a terrible air of
desertion about the house as though all the life had gone out of it.
Maggie came away very miserable. Then she said to herself: "Now,
look here. You're in a new house now. You've got to think of nothing
but that--nothing, nothing, nothing . . ."
She meant Martin. She might think of Martin (how indeed could she
help it?) but she was not to long for him. No, no . . . not to long
for him. She did wish that she could go to sleep more quickly when
she went to bed.
Paul and Grace were very kind to her. Paul was just the big elder
brother that she loved him to be. No more sentiment than that. A
kiss morning, a kiss evening, that was all. Grace behaved to them
both with a motherly indulgence. Maggie saw that she considered that
she had arranged the whole affair. There were signs that she
intended to arrange everything for Maggie. Well, it was rather
pleasant just now to have things arranged for you. Maggie had only
one wish--that Grace would not take so long to explain everything.
Maggie always ran ahead of her long before she had finished her
involved sentences and then had to curb her impatience. However one
would get used to Grace; one would have to because she was going to
live with them after they were married. Maggie had hoped that it
would be otherwise, but it was at once obvious that neither Paul nor
Grace dreamt of being separated.
The wedding was to be as soon as possible, and very, very quiet. In
a little church close by, no bridesmaids, everything very simple.
Maggie was glad of that. She would have hated a church full of
staring people. She enjoyed immensely buying her trousseau. Paul was
very generous with his money; it was evident that Grace thought him
too generous. Maggie and Katherine went together to buy things, and
Katherine was a darling. Maggie fancied that Katherine was not quite
easy in her mind about her share in the affair.
"You won't expect Skeaton to be wildly exciting, Maggie dear, will
you?" she said. "You'll find plenty to do and there are lots of nice
people, I'm sure, and you'll come up and stay with us here."
"I think it sounds delightful," said Maggie. "If you'd lived for
years in St. Dreot's, Katherine, you wouldn't talk about other
places being dull. It isn't excitement I want. It's work."
"Don't you let Grace bully you," said Katherine.
"Bully me? Grace?" Maggie was very astonished. "Why, she's the
kindest old thing. She wants me to do everything."
"So she says," said Katherine doubtfully. "But she's very jealous of
Paul. How much she'll really like giving up her authority when it
comes to the point I don't know. You stick up to her. Paul's weak."
"I don't think he is." said Maggie rather indignantly. "Grace always
does what he says." "Yes, just now," said Katherine.
And Maggie had one funny little conversation with Henry Trenchard.
That wild youth catching her alone one day said abruptly:
"What the devil have you done it for?"
"Done what?" asked Maggie, her heart beating a little faster.
Strangely Henry reminded her of Martin. He alone of all the
Trenchards had something that was of that other world.
"Engaged yourself to Paul," said Henry.
"Why shouldn't I?" asked Maggie.
"You don't love him--of course you couldn't. You're not his sort in
the least. You're worth a million Pauls."
This was so odd for Henry, who was certainly not given to
compliments, that Maggie burst out laughing.
"Yes, you may laugh," said Henry. "I know what I'm talking about.
Have you ever seen Paul asleep after dinner?"
"No," said Maggie.
"I wish you had. That might have saved you. Have you ever seen Grace
lose her temper?"
"No," said Maggie, this time a little uneasily.
"Look here," he came close to her, staring at her with those eyes of
his that could be very charming when he liked. "Break it off. Say
you think it's a mistake. You'll be miserable."
"Indeed I shan't," said Maggie, tossing her head. "Whatever happens
I'm not going to be miserable. No one can make me that."
"So you think," Henry frowned. "I can't think what you want to be
married for at all. These days women can have such a good time,
especially a woman with character like you. If I were a woman I'd
"You don't understand," said Maggie. "You haven't been lonely all
your life as I have, and you're not afraid of making yourself cheap
and--and--looking for some one who doesn't want--you. It's so easy
for you to talk. And Paul wants me--really he does--"
"Yes, he does," said Henry slowly. "He's in love with you all right.
I'm as sorry for Paul as I am for you."
Maggie laughed. "It's very kind of you to be sorry," she said, "but
you needn't trouble. I believe we can look after ourselves."
For a quarter of an hour after this conversation she was a little
uneasy. He was a clever boy, Henry; he did watch people. But then he
was very young, It was all guesswork with him.
She became now strangely quiescent; her energy, her individuality,
her strength of will seemed, for the time, entirely to have gone.
She surrendered herself to Grace and Paul and Katherine and they did
what they would with her.
Only once was she disturbed. Two nights before the wedding she
dreamt of Martin. It did not appear as a dream at all. It seemed to
her that she had been asleep and that she suddenly woke. She was
gazing, from her bed, into her own room, but at the farther end of
it instead of the wall with the rosy trees and the gold mirror was
another room. This room was strange and cheerless with bare boards,
a large four-poster bed with faded blue hangings, two old black
prints with eighteenth-century figures and a big standing mirror. In
front of the bed, staring into the mirror, was Martin, He was
dressed shabbily in a blue reefer coat. He looked older than when
she had seen him last, was stouter and ill, with white puffy cheeks
and dark shadows under his eyes. She saw him very clearly under the
light of two candles that wavered a little in the draught.
He was staring into the mirror, absorbed apparently in what he saw
there. She cried his name and he seemed to start and turn towards
the door listening. Then the picture faded. She woke to find herself
sitting up in bed crying his name . . .
In the morning she drove this dream away from her, refusing to think
of it or listen to it, but somewhere far down in her soul something
The wedding was over so quickly that she scarcely realised it. There
was the stuffy little church, very empty and dusty, with brass
plates on the wall. She could hear, in the street, rumblings of
carts and the rattle of wheels; somewhere a barrel-organ played. The
clergyman was a little man who smiled upon her kindly. When Paul put
the ring on her finger she started as though for a moment she awoke
from a dream. She was glad that he looked so clean and tidy. Grace
was wearing too grand a hat with black feathers. In the vestry Paul
kissed her, and then they walked down the aisle together. She saw
Katherine and Millie and Henry. Her fingers caught tightly about
Paul's stout arm, but she would have been more at home she thought
with Uncle Mathew just then.
It was a nice bright spring day, although the wind blew the dust
about. They had a meal in Katherine's house and some one made a
speech, and Maggie drank some champagne. She hoped she looked nice
in her grey silk dress, and then caught sight of herself in a glass
and thought she was as ever a fright.
"My little wild thing--mine now," whispered Paul. She thought that
rather silly; she was not a wild thing, but simply Maggie Cardinal.
Oh, no! Maggie Trenchard . . . She did not feel Maggie Trenchard at
all and she did not suppose that she ever would.
They were to have a fortnight alone at Skeaton before Grace came.
Maggie was glad of that. Paul was really nicer when Grace was not
They were all very kind to her. They had given her good presents--
Millie some silver brushes, Henry some books, Philip a fan, and
Katherine a most beautiful dressing-bag. Maggie had never had such
things before. But she could have wished for something from her own
people. She had written to Uncle Mathew but had not heard from him.
At the very last moment, on the morning of the wedding day, a
present came from the aunts--an old box for handkerchiefs. The cover
was inlaid with sea-shells and there was a little looking-glass
Very soon it was all over and then to her own intense surprise she
was alone in the train with Paul. What had she expected? She did not
know--but somehow not this.
They were in a first-class carriage. Paul was doing the thing nobly.
He sat close to her, his broad knee against her dress. How broad his
knee was, a great expanse of black shining cloth. He took her hand
and rested it on the expanse, and, at the touch of the stuff and the
throb of the warm flesh beneath it, she shivered a little and would
wish to have drawn her hand away. He seemed so much larger than she
had expected; from his knee to his high shining white collar was an
immense distance and midway there was a thick gold watch-chain
rising and falling as he breathed. He smelt very faintly of tooth-
But on the whole she was comfortable; only the thin gold ring round
her finger felt strange. Deep in a little pocket inside her blouse
was the ring with the three little pearls.
"I do hope, Maggie darling," he said, "you don't think it strange
our not going somewhere else for our honeymoon. My lads will be
expecting me back--I was kept longer in London than I should have
been--by you, you little witch. My witch now--"
He put his arm round her waist and urged her head towards his coat.
But her hat, her beautiful hat that had cost so much more than she
had ever spent on a hat before, was in the way. It struck into his
chin. They were both uncomfortable and then, thank heaven, the train
slowed down; they were at a station and some one got into their
carriage, a stout man, all newspaper and creases to his trousers.
That, in the circumstances, was a great relief and soon Maggie
dozed, seeing the telegraph wires and the trees like waving hands
through a mist of sleep.
As she fell asleep she realised that this was only the second time
in all her life that she had been in a train. Some one bawled in her
car "Skeaton! Skeaton!" and she looked up to find a goat-faced
porter gazing at her through the window. She was on a storm-driven
platform, her husband's arm was through hers, she was being helped
into an old faded cab. Now they were driving down a hill, under a
railway-arch, along a road with villas and trees, trees and villas,
and then villas alone. What a wind! The bare branches were in a
frenzy, and from almost every villa blew little pennons of white
curtains. "They like to have their windows open any way," she
thought. Paul said very little; he was obviously nervous of how she