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The Foolish Lovers by St. John G. Ervine

Part 7 out of 8

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Ask, is Love divine,
Voices all are, ay.
Question for the sign,
There's a common sigh.
Would we through our years,
Love forego,
Quit of scars and tears?
Ah, but no, no, no!



The honeymoon at Ballyards had been a triumph for Eleanor. Uncle
William had immediately surrendered to her, making, indeed, no pretence
to resist her. She had demanded his company on a boating excursion on
the Lough, and when he had turned to her, sitting behind him in the bow
of the boat, and had said, "This is great health! It's the first time
I've been in a boat these years and years!" she had retorted
indignantly, "The first time! But why?"

"Och ... busy!" he had explained.

She had called to John, sitting with his mother in the stern, and
demanded an explanation of the causes which prevented Uncle William
from taking holidays like other people.

"Sure, he likes work!" said John.

"Nobody likes work to that extent," Eleanor replied, and then Mrs.
MacDermott gave the explanation. "There's no one else but him to do
it," she said. "Uncle Matthew had his head full of romantic dreams and
John fancied himself in other ways, so Uncle William had to do it all
by himself!"

John flushed, and was angry with his mother for speaking in this way
before Eleanor. He felt that she was stating the case unfairly. Had he
not once offered to quit from his monitorial work to help in the shop
and had not his offer been firmly refused?...

"There'll be no need for Uncle William to work hard when my play is
produced," he said.

"Ah, quit blethering about hard work," Uncle William exclaimed, bending
to the oars. "Sure, I'd be demented mad if I hadn't my work to do. What
would an old fellow like me do gallivanting up and down the shore in my
bare feet, paddling like a child in the water! Have sense, do, all of
you. Eleanor, I'm surprised at you trying to make a loafer out of me!"

She leant forward and pulled him suddenly backwards and he fell into
the bottom of the boat. "We'll all be drowned," he shouted. "I'll cowp
the boat if you assault me again!..."

"What does 'cowp' mean?" she demanded.

"In God's name, girl, where were you brought up not to know what 'cowp'
means! Upset!" said he.

"Well, why don't you say upset, you horrible old Orangeman," she

"I'm no Orangeman," he giggled at her. "I wouldn't own the name!"

"You are. You are. You say your prayers every night to King William and

"Ah, you're the tormenting wee tory, so you are! Here, take a hold of
these oars and do something for your living!"

She had changed places with Uncle William, and John felt very proud of
her as he observed the skilful way in which she handled the oars. Her
strokes were clean and strong and deliberate. She did not thrust the
oars too deeply into the water nor did she pull them, impotently along
the surface nor did she lean too heavily on one oar so that the boat
was drawn too much to one side or sent ungainly to this side and to
that in an exhausting effort to keep a straight course. He lay back
against his mother and regarded Eleanor out of half-shut eyes. She
mystified him. Her timidity when he had first spoken to her had seemed
to him then to be her chief characteristic and it had caused him to
feel tenderly for her: he would be her protector. But she was not
always timid. He had discovered courage in her and something uncommonly
like obstinacy of mind. She uttered opinions which startled him, less
because of the flimsy grounds on which they were built, than because of
the queer chivalry that made her utter them. She defended the weak
because they were weak, whereas he would have had her defend the truth
because it was the truth. The attacked had her sympathy, whether they
were in the right or in the wrong, and John demanded that sympathy
should be given only to those who were in the right even if they
happened also to be the stronger of the contestants. He had seen her
behaving with extraordinary calmness at a time when he had been certain
that she would show signs of hysteria, and while he was marvelling at
her imperturbability, he had heard her screaming with fright at the
sight of an ear-wig. He had rushed to her help, imagining that she was
in terrible danger, and had found her trembling and shuddering because
this pitiful insect had crawled on to her dressing-gown.... He had been
very frightened when he heard her screaming to him for help, and he
suffered so strange a reaction when he discovered that her trouble was
trivial that he lost his temper. "Don't be such a fool," he said,
putting his foot on the ear-wig. "You couldn't have made more noise if
someone had been murdering you!"

"I hate ear-wigs!" she replied, still shuddering. "I hate all crawly
things. Oh-h-h!"

And here was another aspect of her: her skill in doing things that
required effort and thought. She handled a boat better than he could
handle it. He was more astonished at this feat than he had been when he
discovered that she had great skill in managing a house and in cooking
food, for he assumed that all women were inspired by Almighty God with
a genius for housekeeping and that only a deliberately sinful nature
prevented a woman from serving her husband with an excellently-prepared
dinner. In a vague way, he had imagined that Eleanor would need
instruction in housekeeping, but that she would "soon pick it up." Any
woman could "soon pick it up." His mother, he decided, would give tips
to Eleanor while they were at Ballyards, and thereafter things would go
very smoothly. He had determined that the flat at Hampstead which they
had rented should be furnished according to his taste so that there
should be no mistake about it; but when they began to choose furniture,
he found that Eleanor had better judgment than he had, and he wisely
deferred to her opinion. He was inclined, he discovered, to accept
things which he disliked or did not want rather than take the trouble
to get only the things he desired and appreciated; but Eleanor had no
compunction in making a disinterested shop-assistant run about and
fetch and carry until she had either obtained the thing for which she
wished or was satisfied that it was not in the shop. John always had a
sense of shame at leaving a shop without making a purchase when the
assistant had been given much bother in their behalf; but Eleanor said
that this was silliness. "That's what he's there for," she said of the
shop-assistant. "I'm not going to buy things I don't want just because
you're afraid of hurting his feelings!"

He began to feel, while they were furnishing their flat, that she knew
her own mind at least as well as he knew his, and a fear haunted his
thoughts that perhaps this adequacy of knowledge might bring trouble to
them. Gradually he found himself consulting her as an equal, even
accepting her advice, and seldom instructing her as one instructs a
beloved pupil. When she required advice, she asked for it. At
Ballyards, he had seen his mother quickening into zestful life because
of Eleanor's desire to be informed of things. One evening he had come
home from a visit to Mr. Cairnduff to find Eleanor seated on the high
stool in the "Counting House" of the shop while Uncle William explained
the working of the business to her.

"She's a great wee girl, that!" Uncle William said afterwards to John.
"The great wee girl! You've done well for yourself marrying her, my
son. She's a well-brought-up girl ... a girl with a family ... and
that's more nor you could say for some of the women you might 'a'
married. That Logan girl, now!..."

"I'd never have married her," John interrupted.

"No, I suppose you wouldn't. They're no family at all, the Logans ...
just a dragged-up, thrown-together lot. They've no pride in themselves.
They'd marry anybody, that family would. Willie's away to the bad
altogether ... drinking and gambling and worse ... and Aggie got
married on a traveller from Belfast, and two hours after she married
the man, he was dead drunk. He's been drunk ever since, they say. Aw,
she's a poor mouth, that woman, and not fit to hold a candle to
Eleanor. I'm thankful glad you've married a sensible woman with her
head on the right way, and not one of these flyaway pieces you see
knocking around these times. I'd die of despair to see you married to a
woman with no more gumption than an old hen!..."


He had experienced his most humiliating defect in comparison with
Eleanor on board the mail-boat from Kingstown to Holyhead. He had been
sea-sick, but she had seemed unaware of the fact that she was afloat on
a rough sea. That terribly swift race of water that beats against a
boat off Holyhead and causes the least queasy of stomachs a certain
amount of discomposure, affected Eleanor not at all; and when they
disembarked, it was she who found comfortable seats in the London train
for them and saw to their luggage; for John still felt ill and
miserable. "Poor old thing," she said, "you do look a sight!"


Mrs. MacDermott had begged him to stay beyond the stipulated time in
Ballyards, and Uncle William, with a glance towards Eleanor, had
reinforced her appeal; but John had refused to yield to it. There was
work to be done in London, and Eleanor and he must return to town to do
it. In a short while, his play would be produced ... he must attend the
rehearsals of it ... and then there was his novel for which he had yet
to find a publisher; and he must write another book. Eleanor had
hesitated for a few moments, not irresponsive to Uncle William's look,
but the desire to be in her own home had conquered her desire to remain
in Ballyards, and so she had not asked John to stay away from London
any longer. The flat was a small and incommodious one, but it was in a
quiet street and not very far from Hampstead Heath. They had spent more
money on furnishing it than they had intended to spend, but John had
soothed Eleanor's mind by promising that his play would more than make
up for their extravagance; and when, a fortnight after their return to
town, Mr. Claude Jannissary, "the Progressive Publisher," wrote to John
and invited him to call on him, they felt certain that their anxieties
had been very foolish. John visited Mr. Jannissary on the morning after
he had received that enlightened gentleman's letter, and was
overwhelmed by the praise paid to his book. Mr. Jannissary said that he
was not merely willing, but actually eager to publish it. He felt
certain that its author had a great future before him, and he wished to
be able to say in after years that he had been the first to recognize
John's genius. He did not anticipate that he would make any profit
whatever out of _The Enchanted Lover_ ... the title of the
story ... at all events for several years, partly because John still had
to create a reputation for himself and partly because of the appalling
conditions with which enlightened publishers had to contend. In time,
no doubt, John would attract a substantial body of loyal readers, but
in the meantime there was, if John would forgive the gross
commercialism of the expression, "no immediate money in him."
Nevertheless, Mr. Jannissary was prepared to gamble on John's future.
Even if he should never make enough to cover the expense of publishing
John's book, he would still feel compensated for his loss merely
through having introduced the world to so excellent a novel. Idealism
was not very popular, he said, but thank God he was an idealist. He
believed in Art _and_ Literature _and_ Beauty, and he was
prepared to make sacrifices for his beliefs. He could not offer any
payment in advance on account of royalties to John ... much as he would
like to do so ... for the conditions with which an enlightened
publisher who tried to preserve his ideals intact had to contend were
truly appalling; but he would publish the book immediately if John
would consent to forego all royalties on the first five hundred copies,
and would accept a royalty of ten per cent on all copies sold in excess
of that number, the royalty to rise to fifteen per cent when the copies
sold exceeded two thousand. Mr. Jannissary would put himself to the
great inconvenience of trying to find a publisher for the book in
America, and would only expect to receive twenty-five per cent of the
author's proceeds for his trouble....

John had not greatly liked the look of Mr. Claude Jannissary. So
uncompromising an idealist might have been expected to possess a more
pleasing appearance and a less shifty look in his eyes ... but soothed
vanity and youthful eagerness to appear in print and a feeling that
very often appearances were against idealists, caused him to sign the
agreement which Mr. Jannissary had already prepared for him. A great
thrill of pleasure went through him as he signed the long document,
full of involved clauses. He was now entitled to call himself an
author. In a little while, a book of his would be purchaseable in
bookshops.... "We'll print immediately," said Mr. Jannissary, handing a
copy of the agreement, signed by himself, to John and putting the other
copy carefully away. "I'm sure the book will be a great success ...
_artistically_, at all events ... and after all, that's the chief
thing. _That's_ the chief thing. Ah, Art, _Art_, Mr.
MacDermott, what a compelling thing it is! I often feel that I have
thrown my life away ever since I resolved to publish books instead of
writing them. There are times when I long to throw up everything and
run away into the country and meditate. Meditate! But one can't escape
from the bonds of the body, Mr. MacDermott!"

"Oh, no," John vaguely answered.

"The world is too much for us ... poor, bewildered idealists, searching
for the gleam and so often losing it. Rent has to be paid, butchers
demand payment for their meat ... I'm speaking figuratively, of course,
for I'm a vegetarian myself ... and one must pay one's way. So the body
has us, and we have to compromise. Ah, yes! But at the bottom of
Pandora's box, Mr. MacDermott, there is always.... Hope! This way,
please, and _good_ afternoon! It's been very nice indeed to meet

Hinde had disturbed John's complacency very considerably when he saw
the agreement which John had signed. Eleanor had begun the process by
failing to understand why the first five hundred copies of the novel
should be published free of royalty. If Mr. Jannissary was to make
money out of these five hundred copies why was John not to make any? He
quelled her doubts momentarily by informing her that she was totally
ignorant of the conditions of publishing. If she only knew how
appalling they were!... Mr. Jannissary had so impressed John with the
terrible state of the publisher's business that he had gone away from
the office feeling exceedingly fortunate to have his book published at
all without being asked to pay for it. Eleanor's doubts, however, had
revived when Hinde, who dined with them on the evening of the day on
which the agreement had been signed, declared with extraordinary
emphasis that Mr. Jannissary was a common robber and would, if he had
his way, be enduring torture in gaol.

"He's a notorious little scoundrel who has been living for years on
robbing young authors by flattering their vanity. I suppose he told you
you were a marvel and bleated about his ideals?"

John could not deny that Mr. Jannissary had spoken of his ideals
several times during their interview.

"I know him, the greasy little bounder!" Hinde exclaimed. "You'll never
get one farthing from that book of yours, for he won't print more than
five hundred copies!..."

"He will if they're demanded."

"_If_ they're demanded. Do you think they will be?"

"I hope so!"

"Oh, we can all hope, but there's not much chance of you realising your
hope. Your book isn't a very good one!..." Eleanor glanced up at this.
She had not felt very certain about John's book herself, but now that
Hinde was belittling it, she was angry with him.

"_I_ think it's good," she said decisively.

"Even if it is," Hinde retorted, "it will only sell well if it's
advertised well. Lots of good books don't sell even when they are
advertised. But Jannissary doesn't advertise. He hasn't got enough
money to advertise. Look at the newspapers! How many times do you see
Jannissary's list in the advertisements?" John could not remember.
"Very seldom," said Hinde. "His books get less attention from reviewers
than other people's because the reviewers know that he's a rascal and
that nine out of ten of his books aren't worth the paper they're
printed on. Booksellers will hardly stock them. He makes his living by
selling copies to the libraries and persuading mugs to pay for the
publication of their books. That's how Jannissary lives!..."

"He didn't ask me to pay for publishing my book," John murmured.

"That's a wonder," Hinde replied. "Why didn't you ask for advice before
you signed this thing?"

"I want the book published as soon as possible. I have to make my name
and I daresay I shall have to pay for making it!"

Hinde put the agreement down. "Oh, well, if you look at it like that,"
he said, "there's no more to be said, but you've done a silly thing!"

"I don't see it," John boldly asserted, though there was doubt in his

"You'll see it some day!"

Hinde had parted from them earlier that evening than he had intended or
they had expected. He made an excuse for leaving them by saying that he
was tired and needed sleep after late nights of work, but he went
because John's vanity had been hurt by his criticism of the agreement
and also because he had said that John's book had no remarkable
qualities. "I'm telling you the truth that you're always demanding, and
I won't tell you anything else. You've been very anxious to tell it to
other people and now you'll have a chance of hearing it yourself. Your
book is not a good book. There are dozens like it published every year.
The _Sensation_ reviews them six-a-time in three or four hundred
words. You may write good books some day, but _The Enchanted
Lover_ is just an ordinary, mediocre book. I think your tragedy is

"Well, it ought to be. It was written afterwards," John said, trying
hard to speak without revealing resentment.

"Yes. Yes, of course!" Hinde murmured.

A little later, he had taken his leave of them.

"I wonder if he's right!" Eleanor said to John when he had gone.

"Of course he isn't," John tartly replied. "I believe he's jealous!"


"Yes. He's been talking for years of writing a tragedy about St.
Patrick, but he's not done it, and then I come along and do it quite
easily and get the play accepted. And my novel's to be published, too.
Of course he's jealous! Any disappointed man's jealous when he sees
someone else doing things he's failed to do. I'm sorry for him really!"

"Perhaps that is it," Eleanor said, taking comfort to herself.

"No doubt about it. Anyhow, even if the novel is a failure, there's the
play. That's good. I know it's good. The novel was bound to have some
faults. All first books have!"


Then came the disappointment of the tragedy. The manager of the
Cottenham Repertory Theatre wrote to say that they were compelled to
postpone the production of it for a few weeks because their season had
been unfortunate and they were eager to replenish their treasury by the
production of popular pieces. They all admired John's play very much
and were quite certain that it would be a great artistic success, but
its tragical nature made it unlikely to be profitable to any of them
just at present....

"It's funny how these people keep on talking about _artistic_
success when they think a thing isn't going to be any good," Eleanor
said when he had finished reading the letter to her.

"No good!" he exclaimed. "What do you mean, no good!"

"Well ... of course I don't mean that your play isn't any good ... only
I begin to feel doubtful about things when I hear the word
_artistic_ mentioned."

"They're only postponing the play for a short while until they've got
enough money together to keep on. That's reasonable, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes. It's reasonable. I'm not saying anything about that ... only
it's a disappointment!"

"I'm disappointed myself," he said, ruefully contemplating the letter.

"How much do you think you'll make out of it, John?" Eleanor asked

"Make? Oh, I don't know. About a hundred pounds or so on the first
performances ... and then there's the London season ... and of course
if the play's a great success, we shall make our fortune. But I think
we can reckon on a hundred pounds anyhow. I don't want to expect too
much. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I'm getting anxious about money. You see, dear, you haven't
earned much since we got married, have you?"

"No, not much. One or two articles in the _Sensation._ But you
needn't worry about that. I'll look after the money part. Don't you

"Perhaps you could get a regular job on the _Evening Herald_ now
that Mr. Hinde's in charge of it," she suggested.

Hinde had recently been appointed editor of the _Evening Herald._

"Oh, no, Eleanor, I don't want a journalist's job. I'm a writer ... an
artist ... not a reporter. Besides, I shouldn't have time to work at
the book I'm doing now. Look at Hinde. He never has time to do anything
but journalism. The worst of work like that is that after a time you
can't do anything else. You think in paragraphs!..."

"Supposing the play isn't a success ... I mean a financial success?"
she asked.

"Well, I'll make money for you some other way. Leave it to me, Eleanor,
I'm pretty confident about myself. I feel convinced that the play
_and_ the novel will be successful financially as well as
artistically. I've always been confident about myself!"


"And I feel quite confident about this. So don't worry your head any
more like a good girl!"

The receipt of the proofs and the excitement of correcting them caused
Eleanor to forget her anxiety about their finances. John and she sat in
front of the fire, she with one batch of galley sheets in her lap, he
with another; and he read the story to her, correcting misprints and
making alterations as he went along, while she copied the corrections
on to her proofs.

"Do you like it?" he asked, eager for her praise.

"Yes," she said, leaning her head against his shoulder, "I do like it.
It's ... it's quite good, isn't it?"

He imagined that there was a note of dubiety in her voice, but he did
not press her for greater praise, and they finished the correction of
the proofs and sent them to Mr. Claude Jannissary as quickly as they

"What does it feel like to have written a book?" Eleanor said to him
when the proofs had been dispatched.

"Fine," he replied. "I wish my Uncle Matthew were alive. He'd feel very
proud of me!"

"I'm proud of you," she said, drawing nearer to him.

"Are you?" he exclaimed, his eyes brightening. He put his arm round her
neck and she took hold of his hand. "Do you like me better now,
Eleanor, than you did when we were married?"

"Oh, yes, dear, of course I do."

"Do you remember that night on the Embankment when we were both so
scared of getting married?"

"Yes. Weren't we silly? I very nearly ran away that night ... only I
didn't know where to run to. I was awfully frightened, John. I thought
we were both making terrible mistakes!..."

"Well, we haven't regretted it yet, have we?"

"No, not yet. So far our marriage has been successful!"

"I told you it would be all right, didn't I? I knew I could make you
happy. You're such a darling ... how could I help loving you?"


The novel was published in the same week that the tragedy was produced
at the Cottenham Repertory Theatre. John had intended to be present at
all the rehearsals of his play, but the manager of the theatre informed
him that this was hardly necessary. It would be sufficient if he were
to attend the last two and the dress rehearsal, and when John
considered the state of his work on the second novel, he decided to
accept the manager's advice. "After all," he said to Eleanor, "I don't
know anything at all about producing plays and this chap spends his
life at the job, so I can safely leave it to him!"

The complimentary copies of his novel reached him on the evening before
he was to travel to Cottenham to attend his first rehearsal. He opened
the parcel with trembling fingers and took out the six red-covered
volumes and spread them on the table. He liked the bold black letters
in which the title of the book and his name were printed on the covers:
THE ENCHANTED LOVER by JOHN MACDERMOTT. It seemed incredible to him
that a book should bear his name, but there, in big, black letters on a
red ground, was his name. He turned the pages, reading a sentence here
and a sentence there until Eleanor, who had been out when the parcel
arrived, came in.

"Look!" he said, holding one of the books towards her. She exclaimed
with delight and ran forward to take the book from him. "Oh, my dear,"
she said, clasping the novel with one hand while she embraced him with
the other. "I'm so proud of you, you clever creature!"

He was greatly moved by her affection, and he felt that he wanted to
cry. There were very queer sensations in his throat, and he had
tremendous difficulty in keeping his eyes from blinking.

"It's rather nice?" he said, touching the book.

"It's lovely," she said. She went to the table. "Are these the others?"
She drew a chair forward and sat down. "Let's send them out to-night.
This one to your mother and this one to Uncle William. I'll keep this
one!" She opened the book at the dedication "To Eleanor." "Here," she
said, "write your name in it!" He found a pen and ink and wrote under
the dedication, "from her devoted husband," and when she saw what he
had written, she hugged him and told him again that she was proud of

"What about the others? Are you going to send them out, too?" she
asked, and he proposed to her that one should be sent to Hinde, one to
Mr. Cairnduff and one to Mr. McCaughan....

"We shan't have any left, except my copy, if you do that!" she

"We can easily get some more," he replied.

"I'd like to send one to that beastly cousin in Exeter just to let him
see how clever you are. He hadn't the decency to send us a wedding
present, the stingy miser!"

They packed up the books after John had inscribed them, and went off to
the post-office together to send them off.

"Won't it be fun reading the reviews?" said John as they walked up High

"I hope they'll like it, the people who review it," she answered.
"Don't let's go in just yet. Let's walk along the Spaniards' Road a
little while!"

They walked up Heath Street, and when they came to the railings above
The Vale of Health, they stood against them and looked towards London.
A blue haze had settled over the city and the trees were like long
hanging veils through which little, yellow lights from the street-lamps
shone like tiny jewels. The air was full of drowsy sounds, as if the
earth were happily tired and were resting for a while before the
pleasures of the night began.

"Would you like to go back to your club, Eleanor?" John said.

"Silly old silly!" she replied, pinching his arm.

"I feel as if I want to tell everybody that you've written a book and a
play," she said, as they walked on. "It doesn't seem right that all
these people don't know about you!"

He went to Cottenham on the next day, carrying with him an early
edition of the _Evening Herald_ in which Hinde had printed a very
flattering review of _The Enchanted Lover._ Eleanor had been
puzzled by the promptness with which the review had appeared until John
explained to her that review copies of books were sent to the
newspapers a week or a fortnight before the date of publication.

"It's a very good review," she said. "I thought he didn't like the book

"So did I. I hope he isn't just writing like this to please me. I don't
want insincere reviews!..."

"I expect," said Eleanor, "he didn't tell you how much, he really liked

"Hmmm! Perhaps that's it," John replied.

He put the paper in his pocket, and as the train drew out of Easton and
started on its journey to Cottenham, he speculated on the sincerity of
Hinde's review. He took the paper out of his pocket and read it again.
The review was headed, "A REMARKABLE FIRST NOVEL" and was full of
phrases that seemed fulsome even to John. "We prophesy that this
notable novel will have a very great success among the reading public.
It is certainly the finest story of its kind that has been _published
in this country for a generation_."

"I wouldn't have said that about it myself," John reflected. "Of
course, I'd like to think it's true, but!... I hope this isn't just
logrolling!" He remembered how fiercely Hinde had described the
back-scratching, high-minded poets who boomed each other in their papers.
"I don't want to get praise that way," he thought, putting the paper back
into his pocket. "I'll order half-a-dozen copies of the _Herald_
when I get back from Cottenham. My Uncle William will be glad of a
copy, and so will Mr. Cairnduff and the minister!..."


The Cottenham Repertory Theatre was a dingy, ill-built house in a back
street in Cottenham. It had been a music-hall of a low class until the
earnest playgoers of Cottenham, extremely anxious about the condition
of the drama, formed themselves into a society to improve the theatre.
By dint of agitation and much hard work, they contrived to get enough
money together to take the music-hall over from its owner who was
unable to compete against the syndicate halls and was steadily drinking
himself to death in consequence, and turned it into a repertory
theatre. Their success had been moderate, for they united to their good
intentions a habit of denunciation of all plays that were not
"repertory" plays which had the effect partly of irritating the common
playgoer and partly of frightening him. All the plays that were
labelled "repertory" plays were praised by these earnest students of
the drama without any sort of discrimination, and when, as often
happened, a very poor play was produced at the Repertory Theatre, any
common playgoer who saw it and was bored by it, went away in the belief
that he was not educated up to the standard of such austere work and
resolved that he would seek his entertainment elsewhere in future. It
was to this theatre that John went on the day after his arrival in
Cottenham. The town itself depressed him immeasurably. It was the most
shapeless, nondescript, undignified town he had ever seen, and yet it
was one of the richest places in England. There was no seemliness in
its main streets; little huckstering shops hustled larger and more
pretentious shops, but all of them had an air of vivacious vulgarity.
They had not been given the look of sobriety which age gives even to
ugly streets in ugly towns. They seemed to be striving against each
other in a competition to decide which was the commonest and shoddiest
shop in the city. It seemed to John that all these Cottenham shops
dropped their aitches!... The clouds were grey when he arrived in
Cottenham, dirty-grey and very cheerless; they were still dirty-grey
when he went to the theatre, and rain fell before he reached it; and
the clouds remained in that dismal state until he quitted Cottenham
after the first performance of _Milchu and St. Patrick: A
Tragedy_. It seemed to John that they would never be otherwise than
dirty-grey, that the streets would always be wet and the shops always
clamantly vulgar.

"I wouldn't live in this place for the wide world," he said, as he
turned into the stage-door of the Repertory Theatre.

He was directed to the manager's office by the doorkeeper. The Manager
was on the stage, so the girl secretary informed him, and if Mr.
MacDermott would kindly follow her she would take him there at once. He
had never seen the stage side of the proscenium before, and although
the place was dark and he stumbled over properties, he felt enormously
interested in what he saw.

"Is that the scenery?" he said to the secretary as they passed some
tawdry looking flats lying against the walls of the scene-dock.

"Yes," she answered. "It looks awful in the daylight, doesn't it? But
when the footlights are on and the limes are lit, you'd be surprised to
see how fine it looks. They say that common materials look better in
limelight than good things do. Funny, isn't it?"

She led him on to the stage and brought him to the manager.

"This is Mr. MacDermott," she said to a tall, lean, worried man who was
standing immediately in front of the footlights, directing the
rehearsal which was then beginning.

"Oh, ah, yes!" said the manager, and then he turned to John. "I'm
Gidney," he said.

John murmured a politeness.

"Now, let me introduce you to people!" He turned to the players, all of
whom had that appearance of depression which actors habitually wear in
daylight, as if they felt naked and ashamed without their grease-paint.
"This is the author of the play," he exclaimed to them. "Mr.
MacDermott!" He led John to each of the players, naming them as he did
so, and each of them murmured that he or she was delighted to have the

"I think if you were to sit in the front row of the stalls, Mr.
MacDermott!" said Gidney, "while the rehearsal proceeds, that would be
best. You can tell me at the end of each act what alterations or
suggestions you wish to propose!"

"Very good," said John, feeling his spirits running rapidly into his
boots. What were these cheerless people going to do with the play over
which he had laboured and sweated for weeks and weeks?...

They went through their parts with a lifeless facility that turned his
tragedy, he imagined, into a neat piece of machinery and left it
without any glow of emotion whatever. Now and then the ease with which
they recited their words was interrupted by forgetfulness and the
player, whose memory had failed him, would snap his fingers and call to
the prompter, "What is it?" or "Give me that line, will you?"

"How do you think it's going?" said the manager to John at the end of
the first act.

"Well, I don't know," he answered with a nervous laugh. "They aren't
putting much enthusiasm into it, are they?"

"Ah, but this is only a rehearsal. Wait till you see the dress

He felt considerably relieved. A rehearsal, of course, must be very
different from a performance. But on the night of the dress
rehearsal ... it took place on Sunday, for the stage was occupied on
week-nights by regular performances ... the players seemed to go
to pieces. All of them had difficulty in remembering their lines,
and when at the end of the last act, a piece of the scenery collapsed
upon St. Patrick, John felt that he could have cheerfully seen the
entire theatre collapse on everybody concerned with it. He went to
the grubby Temperance hotel in which he had taken a room, and gave
himself completely to gloom and despair. He felt that his play was
not quite so brilliant as he had imagined it to be, but he was not
sure that his dissatisfaction with it ought not really to be displayed
against the actors. Any play, treated as his had been treated, must seem
to be a poor piece. Gidney had appeared to be pleased with the dress
rehearsal and had wrung John's hand with great heartiness when they
separated. "Going splendidly!" he murmured. "Congratulate you. Excellent
piece!..." On the way to his hotel, he had seen a play-bill in the
window of a tobacconist's shop, and a thrill of pleasure had quickened
him as he stood in front of the glass and read his name beneath the
title of the play. He must remember to ask Gidney for a copy of the
play-bill to hang up in his flat! Now, in the dull and not very clean
bedroom of the Temperance Hotel, he felt indifferent to play-bills and
the thrill of seeing his name in print. He wished that Eleanor were
with him. They had decided that she should not be present at the first
night in Cottenham because of the expense of hotel bills and railway

"I'll see it in London," she had said bravely, trying to conceal her
disappointment. Now, however, he wished that she were with him. She had
remarkable powers of comforting. If he were depressed, Eleanor would
draw his head down to her shoulder and would soothe him into a good
temper again. There had been times since their marriage when he had
been dubious about her ... when it seemed to him that she had only a
kindly affection for him and still had not got love for him ... and the
thought filled him with resentment against her. Why could she not love
him? He was lovable enough and he loved her. A woman ought to love a
man who loved her!... Then some perception of the self-sufficiency and
the smugness of these thoughts went through his mind and he would abase
himself in spirit before her and reproach himself for unkindnesses that
he imagined he had shown to her ... hasty words that hurt her. His
temper was quick to rise, but equally quick to fall; and sometimes he
failed to realise that in the sudden outburst of anger he had said
cruel, hurting things which made no impression on him because they were
said without any feeling, but left a hard impression on those to whom
they were addressed. He had seen pain in Eleanor's eyes when he had
spoken some swift and biting word to her, and then, all repentance, he
had tried to kiss the pain from her....

To-night, in this grubby bedroom, smelling of teetotallers and grim,
forbidding people in whom are to be found none of the genial foibles of
ordinary, hearty men, he felt an excess of remorse for any unkind thing
he had ever said to Eleanor. His pessimism about his play caused him to
exaggerate the enormity of his offences. He pictured her, looking at
him with that queer air of puzzled pathos that had so impressed him
when he first saw her, and intense shame filled him when he thought
that he had done or said anything to make her look at him in that way.
Well, he would compensate her for any pain that he had caused her. He
would love her so dearly that her life would be passed in continual
sunshine and comfort. Even if she were never to return his love or to
return only a slight share of it, he would devote himself to her just
as completely as if she gave everything to him. His play might be
miserably acted and be a failure, apart from the acting, but what
mattered that! While he had Eleanor he had everything.


He went down to the theatre on the evening of the first performance in
a state of calm and quietness which greatly astonished him. He had
expected to tremble and quake with nervousness and to be reluctant to
go near the theatre. He remembered to have read somewhere an account of
the way in which some melodramatist of repute behaved on a first night.
He walked up and down the Embankment while his play was being
performed, mopping his fevered brow and groaning in agony. Someone had
found the melodramatist on one occasion, sitting at the foot of
Cleopatra's Needle, howling into his handkerchief.... John, however,
had no terrors whatever when he entered the theatre, and he told
himself that the melodramatist was either an extremely emotional
man or a very considerable liar. There was a moderate number of people
in the auditorium, enough to preserve the theatre from seeming sparsely-
occupied, but not enough to justify anyone in saying that the house was
full. The atmosphere resembled that of a church. People spoke, when
they spoke at all, in whispers, and John was so infected by the air of
solemnity that when a small boy in the gallery began to call out "Acid
drops or cigarettes!" he felt that a sidesman must appear from a pew
and take the lad to the police-station for brawling in a sacred
edifice. He waited for the orchestra to appear, but the play began
without any preliminary music. The lights were lowered, and soon
afterwards someone beat the floor of the stage with a wooden mallet ...
sending forth three sepulchral sounds that seemed to hammer out of the
audience any tendency it might have had to enjoy itself. Then the
curtain ascended, and the play began.


The actors were much better than they had promised to be at the dress
rehearsal, but they were still far from being good. It was very plain
that they had been insufficiently rehearsed and there were some bad
cases of mis-casting. Nevertheless, the performance was better than he
had anticipated, and his spirits rose almost as rapidly as they had
fallen on the previous night; and when at the end of the performance
there were calls for the author, he passed through the door that gave
access from the auditorium to the stage with a great deal of elation.
He was thrust on to the stage by Gidney, and found himself standing
between two of the actresses. There was a great black cavern in front
of him which, he realised, was the auditorium, and he could hear
applause rising out of it. The curtain rose and fell again, and the
buzz of voices calling praise to him grew louder. Then the curtain fell
again, and this time it remained down. He realised that he had gripped
the actresses by the hand and that he was holding them very tightly....
"I beg your pardon!" he said, releasing them.

"Awf'lly good!" said one of the actresses, smiling at him as she moved
across the stage. How horrible actors and actresses in their make-up
looked close to! He could not conceive of himself kissing that woman
while she had so much paint on her face.... He turned to walk off the
stage, and found that walking was very difficult. He was trembling so
that his knees were almost knocking together and when he moved, he
reeled slightly.

"I say," he said to one of the actors, "my nerve's gone to pieces.
Funny thing ... I ... felt nothing at all ... nothing ... until just

The actor took hold of his arm and steadied him. "Queer how nerves
affect people," he said, as John and he left the stage. "I knew a
man who got stage fright two days before the first night of a play
in which he had a big part. Nearly collapsed in the street. All right
afterwards ... never turned a hair on the stage. Must congratulate you on
your play ... jolly good, I call it. Tragedy, of course!..."

He had expected some sort of festivity after the performance, but there
was none. The players were eager to get home, and Gidney had a
headache, so John thanked each of them and went back to his hotel.

"Thank goodness," he said, "I shall be at home tomorrow."

He got into bed and lay quietly in the darkness, but he could not
sleep, and so he turned on the light again and tried to read; but his
head was thumping, thumping and the words had no meaning for him. He
put the book down. How extraordinary is the common delusion, he
thought, that actors and actresses lead gay lives! Could anything be
more dull than the life of an actor in a repertory theatre? Daily
rehearsals in a dingy and draughty theatre and nightly performances in
half-rehearsed plays!... "Give me the life of a bank clerk for real
gaiety," he murmured. "An actor's just a drudge ... and a dull drudge,
too! Very uninteresting people, actors!... Why the devil did I leave
Eleanor behind?"


He returned to London on the following morning, carrying copies of the
_Cottenham Daily Post_ and the _Cottenham Mercury_ with him.
The notices of his play were mildly appreciative ... that of the
_Post_ being so mild as to be almost denunciatory. The critic
asserted that John's play, while interesting, showed that its author
had no real understanding of the meaning of tragedy. He found no
evidence in _Milchu and St. Patrick_ that John appreciated the
importance of the pressure of the Significant Event. The Significant
Event decided the development of a tragedy, but in Mr. MacDermott's
play there was no Significant Event. The play just happened, so to
speak, and it ought not to "just happen." It was an excellent discursus
on the drama from the time of the morality plays to the time of the
Irish Players, and it included references to Euripides, Ibsen, the Noh
plays of Japan, Mr. Bernard Shaw (in a patronising manner), Synge and
Mr. Masefield; but John felt, when he had read it, that most of it had
been written before its author had seen his play. The other notice was
less learned, but it left no doubt in the mind of the readers that
although _Milchu and St. Patrick_ was an interesting piece ... the
word "interesting," after he had read these notices, seemed to John to
be equivalent to the word "poor" ... it was not likely to mark any

"I don't think much of Cottenham anyhow!" said John, putting, the
papers in his pocket.

Eleanor met him at Euston. The fatigue which settles on a traveller in
the last hour of a long railway journey had raised the devil of
depression in John. He had reread the notices in the Cottenham papers,
and as he considered their very restrained praises of his play, he
remembered that Hinde had said _The Enchanted Lover_ was an
ordinary novel.

"I wonder am I any good," he said to himself as the train hauled itself
into Euston.

He looked out of the window and saw Eleanor standing on the platform,
scanning the carriage as she sought for him.

"Well, she thinks I am," he thought, as he alighted from the train.
"Eleanor!" he called to her, and she turned and when she saw him, her
eyes lit and she hurried to him.



Hinde's enthusiastic review of _The Enchanted Lover_ had not been
followed by other reviews equally enthusiastic or nearly so. Many
papers failed to do more than include it in the List of Books Received.
_The Times Literary Supplement_ gave six lines of small type to a
cold account of it. The reviewer declared that "this first novel is not
without merit" but either had not been able to discover the merit or
had not enough space in which to describe it, for he omitted to say
what it was. John had paid a visit to the local lending library every
morning for a week in order that he might see all the London newspapers
and such of the provincial papers as were exhibited, and had searched
their columns eagerly for references to his book; but the references
were few and slight. Mr. Claude Jannissary, when John visited him,
wagged his head dolefully and uttered some mournful remarks on the sad
state of idealism in England. He regretted to say that the book was not
selling so well as he had hoped it would sell. The appalling conditions
of the publishing trade were accentuated by the extraordinary
reluctance of the booksellers to take risks or to show any enthusiasm
for new things. Between Mr. Jannissary and John, he might say that
booksellers were a very unsatisfactory lot. Most of them were quite
uncultured men. Hardly any of them read books. Mr. Jannissary longed
for the day when booksellers would look upon their shops as places of
adventure and romance!...

A curious sensation of distaste for these words passed through John
when he heard them spoken by Mr. Jannissary. The booksellers, said the
publishers, should be ambitious to earn the title of the new
Elizabethans ... hungering and thirsting after dangerous experiences.
He would like to see a bookseller turning disdainfully from "best
sellers" and eagerly purchasing large quantities of books by unknown
authors. "Think of the thrill of it," said Mr. Jannissary; and John,
perturbed in his mind, tried hard to think of the thrill of it. His
mental perturbation was due to the lean look of his bank balance. Money
was going out of his house more rapidly than it was coming in, and
Eleanor had been full of anxiety that morning. He had not yet received
a cheque from the Cottenham Repertory Theatre for the royalties due on
the week's performance of _Milchu and St. Patrick_, but he had
soothed Eleanor's fears by assuring her that there would be the better
part of a hundred pounds to come to them from Cottenham in a few days.
In the meantime, he told her, he would call on Jannissary and see
whether he could not obtain some money from him. "He must have sold
much more than five hundred copies by this time," he said. "If all the
bookshops in the country only took one copy each, he'd have sold more
than five hundred, and I'm sure they'd all take two or three each.
Perhaps more!"

The suggestion that he might make a small advance to John on account
of accrued royalties had a very chilling effect upon Mr. Jannissary.
"My dear fellow," he said, putting up his hands in a benedictory
manner and then dropping them as if to say that even he found difficulty
in believing in the nobility of man, "impossible! Absolutely impossible!
I've sunk ... Money ... much Money ... in your book ... I don't regret
it ... not for a moment ... I believe in you, MacDermott ... strongly
... but it will be a long time before I recover any of that ... Money
... if I ever recover it. I'm sorry!..."

John had come away from the publisher in a cheerless state of mind, and
as he turned into the Strand, he collided with Hinde.

"How's the book getting on?" Hinde demanded when they had greeted each

John told him of what Jannissary had said.

"I tell you what I'll do." said Hinde. "I'll work up a boom for it in
the _Evening Herald_. I'll turn one of my chaps on to writing half
a dozen letters to the Editor about it!..."

"But you don't like the book," John expostulated. "You told me it
wasn't much good!"

"Och, I know that," Hinde replied, "but that doesn't matter. I'd like
to do you a good turn. There's a smart chap working for me now ... he
can put more superlatives into a paragraph than any other man in Fleet
Street, and he isn't afraid of committing himself to anything. Most
useful fellow to have on your staff. He does our Literary article, and
he's discovered a fresh genius every week since he came to me. He'll
get on, that chap! I'll turn him on to your book!"

"I don't want praise that I don't deserve," John said, thrusting out
his lower lip.

"Oh, you'll deserve it all right. Everybody deserves some praise. How's

"All right!"

Then Hinde hurried away, and John went home. There was a letter from
the Cottenham Repertory Theatre awaiting him, and he eagerly opened the

"You needn't worry any longer," he said to Eleanor as he took out the
contents of the envelope....

He gaped at the cheque and the Returns Sheet.

"How much is it?" Eleanor asked.

"There must be a mistake!..."

"How much is it?" she repeated.

"Sixteen pounds, nine shillings and sevenpence! But!..."


She took the Returns Sheet from him. "No," she said after she had
examined it, "there doesn't appear to be any mistake. It seems to be
all right!"

She put the paper and the cheque down, and turned away.

"It's queer, isn't it?" he said.

"Yes. Yes, very! We shall have to do something, John. We've very little

"Of course, there's the London season to come yet," he said to comfort

"Not for a very long time," she answered, "and it may not be any better
than this!" She hesitated for a moment, then she hurriedly said, "John,
why shouldn't I go on with my work!"

"On with your work! What do you mean?"

"Why shouldn't I get a job again? We could manage, I think, and the
money I'd earn would be useful. You could finish your new book!..."

His pride was hurt. "Oh, no," he said at once. "No, no, I can't agree
to that. What sort of a husband would I look like if people heard that
I couldn't maintain my wife. Oh, Eleanor, I couldn't think of such a

"I don't see why not. You're not going to make money easily, so far as
I can see, and either you or I must get work of some sort. I know you
want to finish your book, so why shouldn't I earn something to help us
to keep going?"

"No," he said, "that's my job. I daresay Hinde would give me work if I
asked for it!"

"But you've always been against doing journalism."

"I know. I'm still against it, but one can't always resist things.
He might let me do literary work for him. I'll go in and see him

He told her of his encounter with Hinde that day and of Hinde's
proposal to boom _The Enchanted Lover_. "I don't like the idea
much, but perhaps it'll be useful!" He picked up the cheque from the
Cottenham Repertory Theatre. "I'm actually out of pocket over this
affair," he said. "What with the cost of typing the play and my
expenses in Cottenham...."

"I wish we could go back to Ballyards," Eleanor said.

"Go back to Ballyards!" he exclaimed, staring at her in astonishment.

"Yes, we'd be much better off there!"

"Go back and admit I've failed in London! Crawl home with my tail
between my legs!..."

"Don't be melodramatic," said Eleanor.

"I have my pride," he retorted. "You can call that being melodramatic,
if you like, but I call it decent pride. I won't admit to anybody that
I've failed. I haven't failed!..."

"I didn't say you had, dear!"

"I won't fail. You wait. Just you wait. I'll succeed all right. If I
have failed so far, I can try again, can't I? Can't I?"

"Yes, John!..."

"I'm not going to take a knock-down blow as a knockout. I know I can
write. I feel the stuff inside me. The book I'm doing now, isn't that


"Isn't it good? You'll have to admit it's good!"

"I daresay it is. It isn't the kind of book I like, but I'm sure it's
good. That's why I want to get a job, so that you can finish it in
peace. Let me try ... just until you've finished the book. Then perhaps
things will be all right. I'd like to be able to say that I helped

"You're a lot too good for me."

"Oh, no, I'm not. Any girl who _is_ a girl would want to help,
wouldn't she?"

His temper had subsided now, and the reproach he always felt after such
a scene as this made him feel very ashamed of himself.

"I'm sorry, Eleanor, that I lost my temper just now. I didn't mean to
say what I did!..."

"But, my dear," she exclaimed, "you didn't say much, and if you did it
was because you were upset about the play and the novel. Don't worry
about that. Now, listen to me. I met Mr. Crawford this morning!..."


"Yes. He's managing director of that motor place I used to be in. He
told me he had never had a secretary so useful as I was, and that he
wished I'd never met you!..."

"Did he, indeed?"

"Yes. Of course, that was only a joke. I'm sure he'd let me go back to
my old job for a while!..."

"No. No, no!"

She stood up, half turned away from him, and said, "Well, I'm going to
ask for it anyhow!"

"You're what?"

"Yes, John, I'm going to ask for it. Don't shout at me! You really must
listen to sense. I'm not going to run into debt or have trouble with
tradesmen about money just because of your pride. I want you to finish
that book!"

"I'd rather sweep the streets than let you go back to your old job."

"Well, I'll get a new one then!"

"Or any job," he said. "I don't care what it is. That man Crawford,
what do you think he'd say if you went back to him? I know. 'Poor Mrs.
MacDermott, her husband must be a rum sort of a fellow ... not able to
keep his wife ... she had to go out to work again soon after he married
her!' That's what he'd say!"

"But does it matter what he says?"

"Yes. I'm not going to have anybody say that I can't earn enough to
keep you decently!"

"That's all very fine, John, but you're not doing it. Your novel hasn't
brought you any money at all, and you've spent as much on the play as
you've got so far. You've had one or two articles printed, and that's
all. The rest of the money we've lived on has come from your Uncle

"Uncle William! None of it came from him. Uncle Matthew left me his
money and my mother gave me the rest!"

"Yes, and how did they get it? From your Uncle William, of course. His
work has kept them, hasn't it? And you? We're sponging on your Uncle
William, and I hate to think we're sponging on him. You're very proud
about not letting me go out to work, but you're not so proud about
letting Uncle William keep you!"

This was a blow between the eyes for him. "That's a bitterly unkind
thing to say," he murmured.

"It's true, isn't it?" she retorted. "I don't want to be unkind, John,
but we've really got to face things. I'm frightened. I don't like the
thought of getting into debt. I've never been in debt before. Never!
And I can't see what's going to happen when we've spent our money if
one of us doesn't start to earn something now!" She changed her tone.
"John, don't be silly about it. Do agree to my getting a job for the
present. You'll be able to get on with your book at home, and any other
writing you want to do, and then perhaps things will get straight and
we'll be all right!"

"The point is, do you believe in me?" he demanded.

"Of course I believe in you!..."

"Ah, but I mean in my work. In my writing. Do you believe in that?"

"What's that got to do with it? Lots of books are very good that I
don't much care for. I liked _The Enchanted Lover_--it was quite
good--but I don't much care for the one you're doing now. I can't help
that. I daresay other people will like it better!"

"Why don't you like it?"

"Well, it doesn't seem to me to be about anything."

"Listen, Eleanor! I don't want just to be one of a mob of fairly good
writers. If I can't be a great writer, I don't want to be a writer at
all. I'll have everything or I'll have nothing!"

"I see!"

"So now you know. I feel I have greatness in me ... but you don't feel
like that about me," he said.

"I don't know anything about greatness. All I know is that I like some
things and that I don't like others. I don't know why a book is great
or why it isn't. You can't judge things by what I say. It's quite
possible that you are a great writer, and that's why I want you to let
me get a job, so that you can go on with your work and be able to show
the world what you can do. I'd hate to think you'd been prevented from
doing your best work because you'd had to use up your energy doing
other things. It won't take long to finish this book, will it?"


"Well, then, I shan't have to work for very long. By the time it's
finished, _The Enchanted Lover_ may have earned a lot of money for
us ... and the play, too ... and then we can just laugh at our troubles


He remained obdurate for a while, but in the end she wore his
opposition down. Mr. Crawford gladly welcomed her back to her old job,
and even offered her a larger salary than she had been receiving before
her marriage. "I've learned your value since you went away," he said.
"I'm a fool to tell you that, perhaps, but I can't help it. Half the
young women who go out to offices nowadays would be dear at ninepence a
week. The last girl we had here caused me to imperil my immortal soul
twice a day through her incompetence. I've sworn more in a week since
you left us, than I ever swore in my life before!..."

Eleanor insisted that John should not inform his mother of her return
to work. Intuitively she knew that Mrs. MacDermott's pride would be
outraged by this knowledge, and that she would make bitter complaint to
John of his failure to maintain his wife in a way worthy of his family;
and so she urged John to say nothing at all of the matter either to
Mrs. MacDermott or to Uncle William. He had made no comment on the
matter, but she knew that he had been relieved by her request.

Hinde had fulfilled his promise to boom _The Enchanted Lover_ in
the _Evening Herald_, and Mr. Jannissary reluctantly admitted that
the book was selling. "Slowly, of course, but still ... selling! I
think I shall get my money back," he said.

"Do you think I'll get any money out of it?" John asked.

"Ah, these things are on the knees of the gods, my dear fellow! It is
impossible to say!"

The second book moved in a leisurely manner to its close, and Mr.
Jannissary declared that he was delighted to hear that _The Enchanted
Lover_ would shortly have a successor. He thought that perhaps he
could promise to pay royalties from the first copy of the new novel!...

"How do writers manage to live, Mr. Jannissary?" John said to him at
this point, and Mr. Jannissary murmured that there was a divinity which
shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we may.

"Oh, is that it?" said John.

"Some men have been very hungry, MacDermott because they served their
Art faithfully. Think of the garrets, the lonely attics in which
beautiful things have been imagined!..."

"I've no desire to go hungry or to live in a lonely attic, Mr.
Jannissary. Let me tell you that!"

"No ... no, of course not. None of us have. I trust I am not a
voluptuary or self-indulgent in any way, but I too would dislike to be
excessively hungry. Still, I think it must be a great consolation to a
man to think that he had made a great work out of ... his pain, so to

John reflected for a moment on this. Then he said, "How do you manage
to keep going, Mr. Jannissary, when you publish so many books that
don't bring you any return?"

Mr. Jannissary glanced very interrogatively at John. Then he waved his
hands, and murmured vaguely. "Sacrifices," he said. "We all have to
make sacrifices!..."

John left the publisher and went on to the office of the _Evening
Herald_ where he saw Hinde. "I've brought an article I thought you'd
like to print," he said when he had been admitted to Hinde's office.
Hinde glanced quickly through it. "Good," he said, "I'll put it in
to-morrow. I suppose," he continued, "you wouldn't like to do a job for

"What sort of a job?"

"There's to be a great ceremony at Westminster Abbey to-morrow ...
dedication of a chapel for the Order of the Bath. The King'll be there.
Like to go and write an account of it?"

"Yes, I would!"

"Good. I'll get Masters to send the ticket of admission on to you

He felt much happier when he left the Herald offices than he had felt
when he entered them. He had sold an article and had been commissioned
to do an interesting job. Eleanor would be pleased. He hurried home so
that he might be there to greet her when she returned from her work.


She was sitting in front of the fire when he entered the flat.
"Hilloa," he said, "you're home early, aren't you?"

She looked up and smiled rather wanly at him.

"Yes," she said, "I came home about three!..."

"Why? Aren't you well?"

"I'm not feeling very grand!"

"What's the matter!"

"I don't know. At least I ... Oh, I don't know. It may only be

He sat down beside her. "Imagination!..." She looked at him very
steadily, and he found himself remembering how beautiful he had thought
her eyes were that day when he saw her for the first time. They were
still very beautiful.

"I'm not sure," she said. "I don't know ... but I ... I think I'm going
to have a baby!"

"Holy Smoke!"

"I don't know. I feel so stupid!..."

She had been smiling while she was telling this to him, but now she
dismayed him by bursting into tears.

"Eleanor!" he exclaimed, not knowing what to say or to do, and she let
herself subside into his arms and lay there, half laughing and half

"I'm being a ... frightful ... fool," she said between sobs, "but I ...
I can't help it!"

They sat together until the dusk had turned to darkness, holding each
other and whispering explanations and hopes and fears. A queer sense of
responsibility settled upon John, a feeling that he must bear burdens
and be glad to bear them. Eleanor seemed to him now to be a very
fragile and timid creature, turning instinctively to him for care and
protection. Immeasureable love for her surged in his heart. This very
dear and gentle girl, so full of courage and yet so full of alarm, had
become inexpressibly precious to him. She had come to him in doubt and
had entrusted her life to him, not certain that she cared for him
sufficiently to be entirely happy with him. He had tried to make her
happy, and slowly he had seen her liking for him growing into some sort
of affection. Perhaps now she loved him as he loved her. Soon she would
be the mother of a child ... his child!... How very extraordinary it
seemed! A few months ago, Eleanor and he had been strangers to each
other ... and now she was about to bear a child to him!

"I must work hard," he said to himself, and then to her, "Of course,
you can't go back to Mr. Crawford. I'll write to my mother and tell

He remembered the commission from Hinde, and while he was telling her
of it, the postman delivered a letter from the Herald in which was the
invitation card for the ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

She examined it with interest. "But it says Morning Dress must be
worn," she exclaimed, pointing to the notice in the corner of the card.
"You haven't got any Morning Dress!"

"Do you think it'll matter?"

"They may not let you in if you go as you are now. You haven't even a
silk hat!"

"What shall I do then?" he asked.

"We must think of something. Perhaps Mrs. Townley's husband would lend
you his silk hat!" The Townleys were their neighbours. "He hardly ever
wears it, and he's about your size!"

"I shouldn't like to ask them!..."

"Oh, I'll ask them all right," Eleanor said.

She left the flat and crossed the staircase to the door of the
Townleys' flat, and after a little while, she returned carrying a silk
hat that was much in need of ironing.

"She lent it quite willingly," Eleanor said. "She says Mr. Townley's
only used it twice. Once when they were married and once at a funeral.
Put it on!" She fixed it on his head. "It doesn't quite fit," she said.
"Perhaps if I were to put some paper inside the band, that would make
it sit better!"

She lined the hat with, tissue paper and then, put it on his head
again. "That's a lot better," she exclaimed. "Look at yourself in the

"I feel an awful fool in it," he murmured, glancing at his reflection
in the mirror.

"Oh, well, I suppose all men do feel like fools when they put on silk
hats ... at first anyhow ... but it isn't any worse than a bowler hat
or one of those awful squash-hats that Socialists wear. Men's hats are
hideous whatever shape they are. I don't know what we're to do about a
morning coat for you. I didn't like to ask Mrs. Townley to lend her
husband's to me!..."

"Good Lord, no! You can't borrow the man's entire wardrobe from him!"

"Your grey flannel trousers might look like ordinary trousers, if we
could get a morning-coat for you!" She paused as if she were reflecting
on the problem. "I know," she said at last. "It's sure to rain, in the
morning. King George is going to the thing, so it's sure to rain. Wear
your overcoat ... then you won't need a morning coat ... and the silk
hat and your grey flannel trousers and your patent leather boots!..."

"It's a bit of a mixture, isn't it?"

"It won't be noticed. That'll do very nicely! Thank goodness, we've
solved that problem! The money will be useful, dearest!"


"What luck!" said Eleanor, looking out of the window in the morning.
The sky was grey and the streets were wet and dirty.

John had urged her to stay at home, offering to explain to Mr. Crawford
why she was not returning to her employment, but she had insisted that
she was well enough now and must treat Mr. Crawford as fairly as he had
treated her. "I'll give notice to him at once," she said, "and he can
get someone else as soon as possible ... but I can't leave him in the

They travelled by Tube to town together, and John went on to
Westminster Abbey. He was very early and when he arrived at the
entrance nominated on the Invitation Card he found that he was the
first arrival. Ten minutes afterwards, a grubby-looking man in a slouch
hat ambled up the asphalt path to the narrow door against which John
was leaning. "Good morning!" John said, glancing at the slouch hat and
the shabby reefer coat and the brown boots. "Have you come to do this
ceremony, too?" The man nodded his head. He was very uncommunicative
and had a surly look. "But they won't let you in, like that!" said

"Won't let me in! Who won't let me in?" the man demanded.

"It says 'Morning Dress to be worn' on the Invitation Card," John
answered, showing his card as he spoke.

"That's all bunkum! They'd let me in if I were naked. I'm here to
report the performance, not to display my elegance, and these people
want the thing reported as much as possible. I don't suppose you know

"No, I don't," said John.

"Well, I'm known as the Funeral Expert in Fleet Street. My paper always
sends me out on special occasions to report big funerals. I'm very good
at that sort of thing. I seem to have a flair for funerals somehow.
I've never done a show like this before, but if I can only persuade
myself to believe that there's a corpse about, I'll do it better than
anybody else. I make a specialty of quoting the more literary parts of
the Burial Service in my reports!..."

"You won't be able to do that to-day. This isn't a funeral," said John.

"No, but I can quote the hymns if they've got any merit at all.
Otherwise I shall drag in the psalms. Hymns aren't very quotable as a
rule. Shocking doggerel most of 'em!..."

They were joined by other reporters, and John observed that he alone
among them was wearing a silk hat. He commented on the fact to the
Funeral Expert.

"There's only one silk hat in the whole of Fleet Street," the Funeral
Expert replied, "and it belongs to the man who specialises in Murders.
He never investigates a murder without wearing his silk hat. He says
it's in keeping with the theme!"

The door was opened by a verger and the journalists entered the Abbey
and were led up some very narrow and dark and damp stone stairs until
at last they emerged on to a rude platform of planks high up in the
roof. At one end of the platform a pole had been placed breast-high
between two pillars, and against this the journalists were invited to
lean. Far below, the ceremony was to take place. John felt giddy as he
looked down on the floor of the Cathedral.

"We shan't be able to see anything up here," he said to the Funeral

"What do you want to see?" was the reply he received. "You've got a
programme of the ceremony, haven't you, and an imagination. That's all
you need. I suppose you've never done a job of this sort before?"

"No. I'm a beginner!"

"Well, write a lot of slushy staff about the sun shining through the
rose-coloured window just as the King entered the Abbey. That always
goes down well. There are three psalms to be sung during the service.
If you quote the first one, I'll quote the second, and then we shan't
clash. Is that agreed?"

"All right!"

Half the journalists retreated from the pole-barrier and sat on a pile
of planks at the back of the platform. Like John, they suffered from
giddiness. They had their writing-pads open, however, and were busily
engaged in inventing accounts of the ceremonial that was presently to
be performed. John glanced over a man's shoulder and caught sight of
the words, "As His Majesty entered the ancient abbey, a burst of
sunlight fell through the old rose window and cast a glorious crimson
light on his beautiful regalia!...."

"Lord!" said John, moving away.

He went to the end of the platform, and then, moved by some feeling
which he could not explain, descended the dark, stone stairs which he
had lately mounted. He could hear the music of the organ, and presently
the choir began to sing an anthem.

"I suppose it's beginning," he thought.

He reached the ground-floor, and presently found himself standing
behind a stone-screen in the company of selected persons and officials
in brilliant uniforms. There were three special reporters here, to whom
an official in a gorgeous green garb, looking very like a figure on a
pack of cards, was giving information. John edged nearer to them, and
as he did so, he saw that some ceremony was proceeding in one of the

"What's happening?" he asked in a whisper.

His neighbor whispered back that this was to be the chapel of the Order
of the Bath, and that the King was about to conduct some ceremonial
with the Knights of the Order. He raised himself on the edge of a tomb
and saw two lines of old men in rich claret-coloured robes facing each
other, with a broad space between them, and while he looked, the King
passed between the Knights who bowed to him as he passed towards the
altar. He heard the murmur of old, feeble voices as the Knights swore
to protect the widow and the orphan and the virgin from wrong and

"They haven't the strength to protect a fly," John whispered to his

"Ssh!" his neighbour whispered back, "it's a symbolical promise!..."


He hurried to the offices of the _Evening Herald_ and wrote his
account of the ceremony he had seen. He described the old and venerable
men who had sworn to protect the widow and the orphan and the
distressed virgin, and demanded of those in authority by what right
they degraded an ancient and honourable Order by allowing feeble
octogenarians to make promises they were incapable of fulfilling.
Heaven help the distressed virgin who depended on these tottering
knights for succour!... He had written half a column of very
vituperative stuff when Hinde came into the room.

"Hilloa," said Hinde, "done that job all right?"

John smiled and nodded his head.

"I've got a letter for you," Hinde continued. "Cream sent it to me and
asked me to pass it on to you. He hasn't got your address!"

He handed the letter to John and then picked up some of the sheets on
which the report of the ceremony in the Abbey was being written. He
read the first two sheets and then uttered a sharp exclamation.

"Anything wrong?" John asked.

"Wrong!" Hinde gaped at him, incapable of expressing himself with
sufficient force. He swallowed and then, with a great effort, spoke
very calmly. "My dear chap," he said, "I regard it as a merciful act of
God that I came into this room when I did. What the!... Oh, well, it's
no good talking to you. You're absolutely hopeless!"

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Matter! I can't print your stuff. I should get the sack if I were to
let this sort of thing go into the paper. Haven't you any sense of
proportion at all?"

"But the whole thing was ridiculous!..."

"What's that got to do with it? Half the world is ridiculous, but
there's no need to run about telling everybody!"

"But if you'd seen them ... _old_ fellows swearing to draw their
swords in defence of women and children, and them not fit to do more
than draw their pensions!..."

"Yes, yes, we know all about that. But a certain amount of humbug is
decent and necessary!" He turned to a young man who had just entered
the room. "Here, Chilvers, I want you to do a couple of columns on that
stunt at the Abbey this morning!"

"Righto," said Chilvers.

"But he wasn't there!" John protested.

"Wasn't there!" Hinde echoed scornfully. "A good journalist doesn't
need to be there. Just give the programme to him, will you?" John
handed the order of proceedings to Chilvers, and Hinde added a few
instructions. "Write up the King," he said. "Every inch a sovereign and
that sort of stuff. Royal dignity!... Was Kitchener there?" he said
turning again to John.

"Yes. A disappointing-looking man!..."

"Write him up, too. Say something about soldierly mien and stern,
unbending features!"

"I see," said Chilvers. "The other chaps.... I'll work them off as
venerable wiseacres!..."

"No, don't rub their age in. Venerable's not a nice word to use about
anything except a cathedral. You can call the Abbey a venerable edifice
or the sacred fane, but it would look nicer if you call the old buffers
"the Elder Statesmen." Good phrase that! Hasn't been used much, either.
Get it done quickly, will you?" He turned to John. "You might have made
us miss the Home Edition with your desire to tell the truth!"

John turned away. The sense of failure that had been in possession of
him since the production of _Milchu and St. Patrick_ filled him
now and made him feel terribly desolate. Whatever he did seemed to
fail. He set off with high hopes and fine intentions, but when he
reached his destination, his arrival seemed to be of very little
importance and his small boat seemed to be very small and his cargo of
slight value. Almost mechanically he opened Cream's letter. Hinde,
having discussed other matters with Chilvers, called to John. "Come and
see me in my room, will you, before you go!" and John answered, "Very
good!" He read Cream's note. Cream had suddenly to produce a new sketch,
and he had overhauled John's piece and put it on at the Wolverhampton
Coliseum. _"It went with a bang, my boy! Absolutely knocked 'em clean
off their perch! I wish you'd do another!..."_

He enclosed postal orders for two pounds, the fee for one week's
performance. John put the letter into his pocket and, nodding to
Chilvers, now busily writing up the King and Lord Kitchener, he left
the room and went to Hinde's office.

"I'm. sorry, Mac," Hinde said to him, "I'm sorry I let out at you just
now, but you gave me a fright. I'd have been fired if I'd let your
thing go to press!"

"I quite understand," John answered. "I see that I'm not fit for this
sort of work. I don't seem to be much good at anything!"

"What about Cream? He told me he'd done your sketch very successfully!"

John passed Cream's letter to him. "Well, you can do that sort of thing
all right anyhow," Hinde said when he had read the letter.

"Cream re-wrote it," John murmured. "And even if he hadn't, it's not
much of an achievement, is it? I wanted to write good stuff, and I
can't do it. I can't even do decent journalism!..."

"Oh, those articles you do aren't too bad," Hinde said encouragingly.

"What are a few articles! The only success I have is with a low
music-hall sketch, and even that has to be rewritten!"

"Come, come!" said Hinde. "You're feeling depressed now. You'll change
your mind presently. I daresay there's plenty of good stuff in you and
one of these days it'll come out. You needn't get into the dumps
because you've failed to make good as a journalist. God knows that's no
triumphant career! Plenty of good writers have tried to make a living
at journalism and failed hopelessly. Haven't had half the success
you've had! Finished that new book of yours yet?"

"Very nearly!"

"I suppose Jannissary is going to do it, too?"

"Yes. I've contracted for three novels with him!"

"I wonder how that man would live if it weren't for the vanity of young

"I don't know," said John. "I'm too busy wondering how young authors
manage to live!"



The money derived from Cream's sketch had compensated them for the loss
of the money earned by Eleanor; but two pounds per week was
insufficient for their needs, and, now that the bank balance was
exhausted and they were dependent upon actual earnings, John had less
time for creative work. Free lance journalism seemed likely to provide
an adequate income for them, but he soon discovered that if he were to
make a reasonable livelihood from it, he must give up the greater part
of his time and thought to it. He could not depend upon certain or
immediate acceptance of any article he wrote for the newspapers.
Sometimes a topical article was sent to the wrong newspaper and kept
there until too late for publication in another newspaper. Regularly-
employed journalists, engaged to choose contributions from outside
writers, were extraordinarily inconsiderate in their relationships with
him. They would hold up a manuscript for a long time and then
arbitrarily return it; they would return a manuscript in a dirty state,
even scribbled over, because they had capriciously changed their minds
about it, and he would waste time and money in having it re-typed; they
even mislaid manuscripts and offered neither compensation nor apology
for so doing.... In a very short while, John discovered that the more
high-minded were the principles professed by a newspaper, the worse was
the payment made to its contributors and the longer was the time
consumed in making the payment. The low-minded journals paid for
contributions well and quickly, but the noble-minded journals kept
their contributors waiting weeks for small sums.... He could not depend
upon the publication of one article each week. Could he have done so,
his financial position, while meagre, would have been fairly easy and
regular. There were weeks when no money was earned, and there were
weeks when he earned ten or twelve guineas ... gay, exhilarating weeks
were those ... and there were even weeks when he could not think of a
suitable theme for an acceptable article. In this state of uncertainty
and constant effort to get enough money to pay for common needs, the
second novel became neglected, and it was not until several months
after the adventure at Westminster Abbey that the manuscript was
completed and sent to Mr. Jannissary. By that time, John was in debt to
tradesmen and to a typewriting company from which he had purchased a
typewriter on the hire system. The Cottenham Repertory Theatre had
failed to arrange a London season, consequently he had had no further
income from _Milchu and St. Patrick,_ and Mr. Jannissary, when
John talked about royalties from _The Enchanted Lover_, never
failed to express his astonishment at the fact that the sales of that
excellent book had not exceeded five hundred copies. He had been
certain that at least a thousand copies would have been sold as a
result of the boom in the _Evening Herald._

"Why don't you put a chartered accountant on his track?" said Hinde
when John told him of what Mr. Jannissary had said.

John shrugged his shoulders. His experience with the Cottenham
Repertory Theatre had cured him of all desire to send good money after
bad. He wished now that he had taken Hinde's advice and had kept away
from Mr. Jannissary, but it was useless to repine over that. He turned
instinctively to Hinde for advice, and Hinde was generous with it. He
was generous, too, with more profitable things. He put work in John's
way as often as he could, and in spite of the fiasco over the Abbey
ceremony, had offered employment on the _Herald_ to him, but John
had refused it, feeling that his novel would never reach its end if he
were tied to a newspaper. When, however, the book was completed, he
went to Hinde again and consulted him about the prospect of obtaining
regular work. His immediate needs were important, but overshadowing
these was the need that would presently come upon him. Eleanor in a few
months would be brought to bed ... and he had no money saved for that
time. She would need a nurse ... there would be doctor's bills!...

"I must get a job of some sort that will bring a decent amount of
money," he said to Hinde.

Hinde nodded his head. "There's nothing on the _Herald_," he said,
"but I may hear of something elsewhere. What about a short series of
articles for us? Write six or seven articles on London Streets. Take
Fleet Street, Piccadilly, Bond Street, the Strand and the Mile End
Road, and write about their characteristics, showing how different they
are from each other. That kind of stuff. I'll give you three guineas
each for them, and I'll take six for certain if they're good. If
they're very good, I'll take some more. That'll help a bit, won't it?"

"It'll help a lot," said John very heartily.


Soon after this interview, Hinde informed John that the
_Sensation_ had a vacancy for a sub-editor, and that Mr.
Clotworthy was willing to try him in the job for a month. "And for
heaven's sake, don't make an ass of yourself this time!" he added.
"Clotworthy was very unwilling to take you on, but I convinced him that
you are sensible now and so he consented!" John had taken the news to
Eleanor, expecting that she would be elated by it, but when he told her
that his work would keep him in Fleet Street half the night, she showed
very little enthusiasm for it. Her normal dislike of being alone was
intensified now, and the thought of being in the flat by herself until
one or two in the morning frightened her. "I shan't see anything of
you," she complained.

"I shall be at home in the daytime," he replied.

"Yes ... writing," she said bitterly. "People like you have no right to
get married or ... have children!"

He considered for a while.

"I wonder if my mother would come and stay with us?" he said at last.

"And leave Uncle William alone?"

"Oh, he could manage all right!"

"Don't be childish, John. How can he manage all right? Is he to attend
to the house and cook his meals as well as look after the shop? It
looks as if someone has got to be left alone through this work of
yours ... either me or Uncle William ... and you don't care much who it

"That's unfair, Eleanor!"

"Everything's unfair that isn't just exactly what you want it to be.
I'm sick of this life ... debt and discomfort ... and now I'm to be
left alone half the night!..."

He remembered that she was overwrought, and made no answer to her
complaint. He would write to his mother and ask her to think of a
solution of their problem that would not involve Uncle William in
difficulties. It was useless to talk to Eleanor while she was in this
nervous state of mind. He could see quite plainly that decisions must
be made by him even against her desire. Poor Eleanor would realise all
this after the baby was born, and would thank him for not showing signs
of weakness!... He wrote to Mr. Clotworthy, as Hinde had suggested,
about the sub-editorial work, and to his mother about the problem that
puzzled them.


Mrs. MacDermott solved the problem, not by letter, but by word of
mouth. She telegraphed to John to meet her at Euston, and on the way
from the station to Hampstead, she told him of her plan.

"I'd settled this in my mind from the beginning," she said, "and you've
only just advanced things a week or two by your letter. I'm going to
take Eleanor back to Ballyards with me!..."

"What for?"

"What for!" she exclaimed. "So's your child can be born in the house
where you were born and your da and his da!... That's why! Where else
would a MacDermott be born but in his own home?"

"But what about me?"

"You! You can come home too, if you like!"

"How can I come home when I have my work to do? It'll be three months
yet before the child is born!..."

"Well, you can stay here by yourself then!"

"In the flat ... alone?"

"Aye. What's to hinder you? That's what your Uncle William that's twice
your age would have to do, if you had your way!"

"I don't see that at all. He could easily give Cassie McClurg a few
shillings a week to come and look after him while you stay here with

"I'm not thinking about you or your Uncle William. I'm thinking about
Eleanor and the child. I want it to be born at home!"

"Och, what does it matter where it's born," John impatiently demanded,
"so long as it is born?"

"You _fool_!" said Mrs. MacDermott, and there was such scorn in
her voice as John had never heard in any voice before. She turned away
and would not speak to him again. He lay back against the cushions of
the cab and considered Eleanor would certainly be well cared for at
home, but ... "what about me?" he asked. He supposed he could manage by
himself. Of course, he could. That was not the point that was worrying
him. He hated the thought of being separated from Eleanor!...

"No," he said to his mother, "I don't think I can agree to that!"

"It doesn't matter whether you agree to it or not," she replied. "It's
what's going to happen!" She turned on him furiously. "Have you no
nature or pride? Where else would Eleanor be so well-tended as at

"It isn't her home," he objected.

"It _is_ her home. She's a MacDermott now, and anyway the child
is. You'd keep her here in this Godforsaken town, surrounded by
strangers, and no relation of her own to be near her when her trouble
comes!... There's times, John, when I wonder are you a man at all? Your
mind is so set on yourself that you're like a lump of stone. You and
your old books ... as if they matter a tinker's curse to anybody!..."

"I know you never thought anything of my work," he complained, "and
Eleanor doesn't think much of it either. I get little encouragement
from any of you!"

"You get encouragement," Mrs. MacDermott retorted, "when you've earned
it. It's no use pulling a poor mouth to me, my son. I come from a
family that never asked for pity, and I married into one that never
asked for pity. My family and your da's family went through the world,
giving back as much as we got and a wee bit more, and we never let a
murmur out of us when we got hurt. There were times when I thought it
was hard on the women of the family, but I see now, well and plain,
that there's no pleasure in this world but to be keeping your head
high and never to let nothing downcast you. I'd be ashamed to be a

"I'm no cry-ba!" he muttered sulkily.

"Well, prove it then. Let Eleanor come without making a sour face over
it. Come yourself if you want to, but anyway let her come!"

"I don't believe she'll go," he said.

"She will, if you persuade her!" Suddenly her tone altered, and the
hard tone went out of her voice. She leant towards him, touching him on
the arm. "Persuade her, son!" she said. "My heart's hungry to have her
child born in its own home among its own people!"

She looked at him so pleadingly that he was deeply moved. He felt his
blood calling to him, and the ties of kinship stirring strongly in his
heart. Pictures of Ballyards passed swiftly through his mind, and in
rapid succession he saw the shop and Uncle Matthew and Uncle William
and Mr. McCaughan and Mr. Cairnduff and the Logans and the Square and
the Lough, and could smell the sweet odours of the country, the smell
of wet earth and the reek of turf fires and the cold smell of brackish

"Have your own way," he said to his mother, and she drew him to her and
kissed him more tenderly than she had kissed him for many years.


When they told their plan to Eleanor her eyes lit up immediately, and
he saw that she was eager to go to Ballyards, but almost at once, she
turned to him and said, "Oh, but you, John? What about you?"

"I'll be all right," he replied. "Don't worry about me!"

"Couldn't you come, too?"

"You know I can't. How can I give up this job on the _Sensation_
the minute I've got it!"

"Easy enough," Mrs. MacDermott interjected. "If you've only just got
it, there'll be no hardship to you or to them if you give it up now!"

"I have to earn our keep," he insisted.

"There's the shop," Mrs. MacDermott insisted.

"I won't go next or near the shop," he shouted in sudden fury. "I came
here to write books and I'll write them!"

"You're not writing books when you're sitting up half the night in a
newspaper office!"

"I know I'm not. But I must get money to ... to pay for!..."

"Are you worrying yourself about Eleanor's confinement, son? Never
bother your head about that. I'll not let her want for anything!..."

"I know you won't," he replied in a softer voice, "but I'd rather earn
the money myself!"

Mrs. MacDermott tightened her mouth. "Very well," she said.

"I've a good mind to let the flat till you come back," John murmured to

"What's that?" Mrs. MacDermott demanded.

Book of the day: