Part 5 out of 5
"Because you're the only man with whom I can imagine the other
kind of greatness."
It moved him--moved him unexpectedly. He got as far as saying
to himself: "Good God, if she were not so hideously rich--" and
then of yielding for a moment to the persuasive vision of all
that he and she might do with those very riches which he
dreaded. After all, there was nothing mean in her ideals they
were hard and material, in keeping with her primitive and
massive person; but they had a certain grim nobility. And when
she spoke of "the other kind of greatness" he knew that she
understood what she was talking of, and was not merely saying
something to draw him on, to get him to commit himself. There
was not a drop of guile in her, except that which her very
"The other kind of greatness?" he repeated.
"Well, isn't that what you said happiness was? I wanted to be
happy ... but one can't choose."
He went up to her. "No, one can't choose. And how can anyone
give you happiness who hasn't got it himself?" He took her
hands, feeling how large, muscular and voluntary they were, even
as they melted in his palms.
"My poor Coral, of what use can I ever be to you? What you need
is to be loved."
She drew back and gave him one of her straight strong glances:
"No," she said gallantly, "but just to love."
IN the persistent drizzle of a Paris winter morning Susy Lansing
walked back alone from the school at which she had just
deposited the four eldest Fulmers to the little house in Passy
where, for the last two months, she had been living with them.
She had on ready-made boots, an old waterproof and a last year's
hat; but none of these facts disturbed her, though she took no
particular pride in them. The truth was that she was too busy
to think much about them. Since she had assumed the charge of
the Fulmer children, in the absence of both their parents in
Italy, she had had to pass through such an arduous
apprenticeship of motherhood that every moment of her waking
hours was packed with things to do at once, and other things to
remember to do later. There were only five Fulmers; but at
times they were like an army with banners, and their power of
self-multiplication was equalled only by the manner in which
they could dwindle, vanish, grow mute, and become as it were a
single tumbled brown head bent over a book in some corner of the
house in which nobody would ever have thought of hunting for
them--and which, of course, were it the bonne's room in the
attic, or the subterranean closet where the trunks were kept,
had been singled out by them for that very reason.
These changes from ubiquity to invisibility would have seemed to
Susy, a few months earlier, one of the most maddening of many
characteristics not calculated to promote repose. But now she
felt differently. She had grown interested in her charges, and
the search for a clue to their methods, whether tribal or
individual, was as exciting to her as the development of a
What interested her most in the whole stirring business was the
discovery that they had a method. These little creatures,
pitched upward into experience on the tossing waves of their
parents' agitated lives, had managed to establish a rough-and-
ready system of self-government. Junie, the eldest (the one who
already chose her mother's hats, and tried to put order in her
wardrobe) was the recognized head of the state. At twelve she
knew lots of things which her mother had never thoroughly
learned, and Susy, her temporary mother, had never even guessed
at: she spoke with authority on all vital subjects, from
castor-oil to flannel under-clothes, from the fair sharing of
stamps or marbles to the number of helpings of rice-pudding or
jam which each child was entitled to.
There was hardly any appeal from her verdict; yet each of her
subjects revolved in his or her own orbit of independence,
according to laws which Junie acknowledged and respected; and
the interpreting of this mysterious charter of rights and
privileges had not been without difficulty for Susy.
Besides this, there were material difficulties to deal with.
The six of them, and the breathless bonne who cooked and slaved
for them all, had but a slim budget to live on; and, as Junie
remarked, you'd have thought the boys ate their shoes, the way
they vanished. They ate, certainly, a great deal else, and
mostly of a nourishing and expensive kind. They had definite
views about the amount and quality of their food, and were
capable of concerted rebellion when Susy's catering fell beneath
their standard. All this made her life a hurried and harassing
business, but never-- what she had most feared it would be a
dull or depressing one.
It was not, she owned to herself, that the society of the Fulmer
children had roused in her any abstract passion for the human
young. She knew--had known since Nick's first kiss--how she
would love any child of his and hers; and she had cherished poor
little Clarissa Vanderlyn with a shrinking and wistful
solicitude. But in these rough young Fulmers she took a
positive delight, and for reasons that were increasingly clear
to her. It was because, in the first place, they were all
intelligent; and because their intelligence had been fed only on
things worth caring for. However inadequate Grace Fulmer's
bringing-up of her increasing tribe had been, they had heard in
her company nothing trivial or dull: good music, good books and
good talk had been their daily food, and if at times they
stamped and roared and crashed about like children unblessed by
such privileges, at others they shone with the light of poetry
and spoke with the voice of wisdom.
That had been Susy's discovery: for the first time she was
among awakening minds which had been wakened only to beauty.
>From their cramped and uncomfortable household Grace and Nat
Fulmer had managed to keep out mean envies, vulgar admirations,
shabby discontents; above all the din and confusion the great
images of beauty had brooded, like those ancestral figures that
stood apart on their shelf in the poorest Roman households.
No, the task she had undertaken for want of a better gave Susy
no sense of a missed vocation: "mothering" on a large scale
would never, she perceived, be her job. Rather it gave her, in
odd ways, the sense of being herself mothered, of taking her
first steps in the life of immaterial values which had begun to
seem so much more substantial than any she had known.
On the day when she had gone to Grace Fulmer for counsel and
comfort she had little guessed that they would come to her in
this form. She had found her friend, more than ever distracted
and yet buoyant, riding the large untidy waves of her life with
the splashed ease of an amphibian. Grace was probably the only
person among Susy's friends who could have understood why she
could not make up her mind to marry Altringham; but at the
moment Grace was too much absorbed in her own problems to pay
much attention to her friend's, and, according to her wont, she
immediately "unpacked" her difficulties.
Nat was not getting what she had hoped out of his European
opportunity. Oh, she was enough of an artist herself to know
that there must be fallow periods--that the impact of new
impressions seldom produced immediate results. She had allowed
for all that. But her past experience of Nat's moods had taught
her to know just when he was assimilating, when impressions were
fructifying in him. And now they were not, and he knew it as
well as she did. There had been too much rushing about, too
much excitement and sterile flattery ... Mrs. Melrose? Well,
yes, for a while ... the trip to Spain had been a love-journey,
no doubt. Grace spoke calmly, but the lines of her face
sharpened: she had suffered, oh horribly, at his going to Spain
without her. Yet she couldn't, for the children's sake, afford
to miss the big sum that Ursula Gillow had given her for her
fortnight at Ruan. And her playing had struck people, and led,
on the way back, to two or three profitable engagements in
private houses in London. Fashionable society had made "a
little fuss" about her, and it had surprised and pleased Nat,
and given her a new importance in his eyes. "He was beginning
to forget that I wasn't only a nursery-maid, and it's been a
good thing for him to be reminded ... but the great thing is
that with what I've earned he and I can go off to southern Italy
and Sicily for three months. You know I know how to manage ...
and, alone with me, Nat will settle down to work: to observing,
feeling, soaking things in. It's the only way. Mrs. Melrose
wants to take him, to pay all the expenses again-well she
shan't. I'll pay them." Her worn cheek flushed with triumph.
"And you'll see what wonders will come of it .... Only there's
the problem of the children. Junie quite agrees that we can't
take them ...."
Thereupon she had unfolded her idea. If Susy was at a loose
end, and hard up, why shouldn't she take charge of the children
while their parents were in Italy? For three months at most-
Grace could promise it shouldn't be longer. They couldn't pay
her much, of course, but at least she would be lodged and fed.
"And, you know, it will end by interesting you--I'm sure it
will," the mother concluded, her irrepressible hopefulness
rising even to this height, while Susy stood before her with a
Take care of five Fulmers for three months! The prospect cowed
her. If there had been only Junie and Geordie, the oldest and
youngest of the band, she might have felt less hesitation. But
there was Nat, the second in age, whose motor-horn had driven
her and Nick out to the hill-side on their fatal day at the
Fulmers' and there were the twins, Jack and Peggy, of whom she
had kept memories almost equally disquieting. To rule this
uproarious tribe would be a sterner business than trying to
beguile Clarissa Vanderlyn's ladylike leisure; and she would
have refused on the spot, as she had refused once before, if the
only possible alternatives had not come to seem so much less
bearable, and if Junie, called in for advice, and standing
there, small, plain and competent, had not said in her quiet
grown-up voice: "Oh, yes, I'm sure Mrs. Lansing and I can
manage while you're away--especially if she reads aloud well."
Reads aloud well! The stipulation had enchanted Susy. She had
never before known children who cared to be read aloud to; she
remembered with a shiver her attempts to interest Clarissa in
anything but gossip and the fashions, and the tone in which the
child had said, showing Strefford's trinket to her father:
"Because I said I'd rather have it than a book."
And here were children who consented to be left for three months
by their parents, but on condition that a good reader was
provided for them!
"Very well--I will! But what shall I be expected to read to
you?" she had gaily questioned; and Junie had answered, after
one of her sober pauses of reflection: "The little ones like
nearly everything; but Nat and I want poetry particularly,
because if we read it to ourselves we so often pronounce the
puzzling words wrong, and then it sounds so horrid."
"Oh, I hope I shall pronounce them right," Susy murmured,
stricken with self-distrust and humility.
Apparently she did; for her reading was a success, and even the
twins and Geordie, once they had grown used to her, seemed to
prefer a ringing page of Henry V, or the fairy scenes from the
Midsummer Night's Dream, to their own more specialized
literature, though that had also at times to be provided.
There were, in fact, no lulls in her life with the Fulmers; but
its commotions seemed to Susy less meaningless, and therefore
less fatiguing, than those that punctuated the existence of
people like Altringham, Ursula Gillow, Ellie Vanderlyn and their
train; and the noisy uncomfortable little house at Passy was
beginning to greet her with the eyes of home when she returned
there after her tramps to and from the children's classes. At
any rate she had the sense of doing something useful and even
necessary, and of earning her own keep, though on so modest a
scale; and when the children were in their quiet mood, and
demanded books or music (or, even, on one occasion, at the
surprising Junie's instigation, a collective visit to the
Louvre, where they recognized the most unlikely pictures, and
the two elders emitted startling technical judgments, and called
their companion's attention to details she had not observed); on
these occasions, Susy had a surprised sense of being drawn back
into her brief life with Nick, or even still farther and deeper,
into those visions of Nick's own childhood on which the trivial
later years had heaped their dust.
It was curious to think that if he and she had remained
together, and she had had a child--the vision used to come to
her, in her sleepless hours, when she looked at little Geordie,
in his cot by her bed--their life together might have been very
much like the life she was now leading, a small obscure business
to the outer world, but to themselves how wide and deep and
She could not bear, at that moment, the thought of giving up
this mystic relation to the life she had missed. In spite of
the hurry and fatigue of her days, the shabbiness and discomfort
of everything, and the hours when the children were as "horrid"
as any other children, and turned a conspiracy of hostile faces
to all her appeals; in spite of all this she did not want to
give them up, and had decided, when their parents returned, to
ask to go back to America with them. Perhaps, if Nat's success
continued, and Grace was able to work at her music, they would
need a kind of governess-companion. At any rate, she could
picture no future less distasteful.
She had not sent to Mr. Spearman Nick's answer to her letter.
In the interval between writing to him and receiving his reply
she had broken with Strefford; she had therefore no object in
seeking her freedom. If Nick wanted his, he knew he had only to
ask for it; and his silence, as the weeks passed, woke a faint
hope in her. The hope flamed high when she read one day in the
newspapers a vague but evidently "inspired" allusion to the
possibility of an alliance between his Serene Highness the
reigning Prince of Teutoburg-Waldhain and Miss Coral Hicks of
Apex City; it sank to ashes when, a few days later, her eye lit
on a paragraph wherein Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer Hicks "requested to
state" that there was no truth in the report.
On the foundation of these two statements Susy raised one watch-
tower of hope after another, feverish edifices demolished or
rebuilt by every chance hint from the outer world wherein Nick's
name figured with the Hickses'. And still, as the days passed
and she heard nothing, either from him or from her lawyer, her
flag continued to fly from the quaking structures.
Apart from the custody of the children there was indeed little
to distract her mind from these persistent broodings. She
winced sometimes at the thought of the ease with which her
fashionable friends had let her drop out of sight. In the
perpetual purposeless rush of their days, the feverish making of
winter plans, hurrying off to the Riviera or St. Moritz, Egypt
or New York, there was no time to hunt up the vanished or to
wait for the laggard. Had they learned that she had broken her
"engagement" (how she hated the word!) to Strefford, and had the
fact gone about that she was once more only a poor hanger-on, to
be taken up when it was convenient, and ignored in the
intervals? She did not know; though she fancied Strefford's
newly-developed pride would prevent his revealing to any one
what had passed between them. For several days after her abrupt
flight he had made no sign; and though she longed to write and
ask his forgiveness she could not find the words. Finally it
was he who wrote: a short note, from Altringham, typical of all
that was best in the old Strefford. He had gone down to
Altringham, he told her, to think quietly over their last talk,
and try to understand what she had been driving at. He had to
own that he couldn't; but that, he supposed, was the very head
and front of his offending. Whatever he had done to displease
her, he was sorry for; but he asked, in view of his invincible
ignorance, to be allowed not to regard his offence as a cause
for a final break. The possibility of that, he found, would
make him even more unhappy than he had foreseen; as she knew,
his own happiness had always been his first object in life, and
he therefore begged her to suspend her decision a little longer.
He expected to be in Paris within another two months, and before
arriving he would write again, and ask her to see him.
The letter moved her but did not make her waver. She simply
wrote that she was touched by his kindness, and would willingly
see him if he came to Paris later; though she was bound to tell
him that she had not yet changed her mind, and did not believe
it would promote his happiness to have her try to do so.
He did not reply to this, and there was nothing further to keep
her thoughts from revolving endlessly about her inmost hopes and
On the rainy afternoon in question, tramping home from the
"cours" (to which she was to return at six), she had said to
herself that it was two months that very day since Nick had
known she was ready to release him--and that after such a delay
he was not likely to take any further steps. The thought filled
her with a vague ecstasy. She had had to fix an arbitrary date
as the term of her anguish, and she had fixed that one; and
behold she was justified. For what could his silence mean but
that he too ....
On the hall-table lay a typed envelope with the Paris postage-
mark. She opened it carelessly, and saw that the letter-head
bore Mr. Spearman's office address. The words beneath spun
round before her eyes .... "Has notified us that he is at your
disposal ... carry out your wishes ... arriving in Paris ... fix
an appointment with his lawyers ...."
Nick--it was Nick the words were talking of! It was the fact of
Nick's return to Paris that was being described in those
preposterous terms! She sank down on the bench beside the
dripping umbrella-stand and stared vacantly before her. It had
fallen at last--this blow in which she now saw that she had
never really believed! And yet she had imagined she was
prepared for it, had expected it, was already planning her
future life in view of it--an effaced impersonal life in the
service of somebody else's children--when, in reality, under
that thin surface of abnegation and acceptance, all the old
hopes had been smouldering red-hot in their ashes! What was the
use of any self-discipline, any philosophy, any experience, if
the lawless self underneath could in an instant consume them
She tried to collect herself--to understand what had happened.
Nick was coming to Paris--coming not to see her but to consult
his lawyer! It meant, of course, that he had definitely
resolved to claim his freedom; and that, if he had made up his
mind to this final step, after more than six months of inaction
and seeming indifference, it could be only because something
unforeseen and decisive had happened to him. Feverishly, she
put together again the stray scraps of gossip and the newspaper
paragraphs that had reached her in the last months. It was
evident that Miss Hicks's projected marriage with the Prince of
Teutoburg-Waldhain had been broken off at the last moment; and
broken off because she intended to marry Nick. The announcement
of his arrival in Paris and the publication of Mr. and Mrs.
Hicks's formal denial of their daughter's betrothal coincided
too closely to admit of any other inference. Susy tried to
grasp the reality of these assembled facts, to picture to
herself their actual tangible results. She thought of Coral
Hicks bearing the name of Mrs. Nick Lansing--her name, Susy's
own!--and entering drawing-rooms with Nick in her wake, gaily
welcomed by the very people who, a few months before, had
welcomed Susy with the same warmth. In spite of Nick's growing
dislike of society, and Coral's attitude of intellectual
superiority, their wealth would fatally draw them back into the
world to which Nick was attached by all his habits and
associations. And no doubt it would amuse him to re-enter that
world as a dispenser of hospitality, to play the part of host
where he had so long been a guest; just as Susy had once fancied
it would amuse her to re-enter it as Lady Altringham .... But,
try as she would, now that the reality was so close on her, she
could not visualize it or relate it to herself. The mere
juxtaposition of the two names--Coral, Nick--which in old times
she had so often laughingly coupled, now produced a blur in her
She continued to sit helplessly beside the hall-table, the tears
running down her cheeks. The appearance of the bonne aroused
her. Her youngest charge, Geordie, had been feverish for a day
or two; he was better, but still confined to the nursery, and he
had heard Susy unlock the house-door, and could not imagine why
she had not come straight up to him. He now began to manifest
his indignation in a series of racking howls, and Susy, shaken
out of her trance, dropped her cloak and umbrella and hurried
"Oh, that child!" she groaned.
Under the Fulmer roof there was little time or space for the
indulgence of private sorrows. From morning till night there
was always some immediate practical demand on one's attention;
and Susy was beginning to see how, in contracted households,
children may play a part less romantic but not less useful than
that assigned to them in fiction, through the mere fact of
giving their parents no leisure to dwell on irremediable
grievances. Though her own apprenticeship to family life had
been so short, she had already acquired the knack of rapid
mental readjustment, and as she hurried up to the nursery her
private cares were dispelled by a dozen problems of temperature,
diet and medicine.
Such readjustment was of course only momentary; yet each time it
happened it seemed to give her more firmness and flexibility of
temper. "What a child I was myself six months ago!" she
thought, wondering that Nick's influence, and the tragedy of
their parting, should have done less to mature and steady her
than these few weeks in a house full of children.
Pacifying Geordie was not easy, for he had long since learned to
use his grievances as a pretext for keeping the offender at his
beck with a continuous supply of stories, songs and games.
"You'd better be careful never to put yourself in the wrong with
Geordie," the astute Junie had warned Susy at the outset,
"because he's got such a memory, and he won't make it up with
you till you've told him every fairy-tale he's ever heard
But on this occasion, as soon as he saw her, Geordie's
indignation melted. She was still in the doorway, compunctious,
abject and racking her dazed brain for his favourite stories,
when she saw, by the smoothing out of his mouth and the sudden
serenity of his eyes, that he was going to give her the
delicious but not wholly reassuring shock of being a good boy.
Thoughtfully he examined her face as she knelt down beside the
cot; then he poked out a finger and pressed it on her tearful
"Poor Susy got a pain too," he said, putting his arms about her;
and as she hugged him close, he added philosophically: "Tell
Geordie a new story, darling, and you'll forget all about it."
NICK Lansing arrived in Paris two days after his lawyer had
announced his coming to Mr. Spearman.
He had left Rome with the definite purpose of freeing himself
and Susy; and though he was not pledged to Coral Hicks he had
not concealed from her the object of his journey. In vain had
he tried to rouse in himself any sense of interest in his own
future. Beyond the need of reaching a definite point in his
relation to Susy his imagination could not travel. But he had
been moved by Coral's confession, and his reason told him that
he and she would probably be happy together, with the temperate
happiness based on a community of tastes and an enlargement of
opportunities. He meant, on his return to Rome, to ask her to
marry him; and he knew that she knew it. Indeed, if he had not
spoken before leaving it was with no idea of evading his fate,
or keeping her longer in suspense, but simply because of the
strange apathy that had fallen on him since he had received
Susy's letter. In his incessant self-communings he dressed up
this apathy as a discretion which forbade his engaging Coral's
future till his own was assured. But in truth he knew that
Coral's future was already engaged, and his with it: in Rome
the fact had seemed natural and even inevitable.
In Paris, it instantly became the thinnest of unrealities. Not
because Paris was not Rome, nor because it was Paris; but
because hidden away somewhere in that vast unheeding labyrinth
was the half-forgotten part of himself that was Susy .... For
weeks, for months past, his mind had been saturated with Susy:
she had never seemed more insistently near him than as their
separation lengthened, and the chance of reunion became less
probable. It was as if a sickness long smouldering in him had
broken out and become acute, enveloping him in the Nessus-shirt
of his memories. There were moments when, to his memory, their
actual embraces seemed perfunctory, accidental, compared with
this deep deliberate imprint of her soul on his.
Yet now it had become suddenly different. Now that he was in
the same place with her, and might at any moment run across her,
meet her eyes, hear her voice, avoid her hand--now that
penetrating ghost of her with which he had been living was
sucked back into the shadows, and he seemed, for the first time
since their parting, to be again in her actual presence. He
woke to the fact on the morning of his arrival, staring down
from his hotel window on a street she would perhaps walk through
that very day, and over a limitless huddle of roofs, one of
which covered her at that hour. The abruptness of the
transition startled him; he had not known that her mere
geographical nearness would take him by the throat in that way.
What would it be, then, if she were to walk into the room?
Thank heaven that need never happen! He was sufficiently
informed as to French divorce proceedings to know that they
would not necessitate a confrontation with his wife; and with
ordinary luck, and some precautions, he might escape even a
distant glimpse of her. He did not mean to remain in Paris more
than a few days; and during that time it would be easy--knowing,
as he did, her tastes and Altringham's--to avoid the places
where she was likely to be met. He did not know where she was
living, but imagined her to be staying with Mrs. Melrose, or
some other rich friend, or else lodged, in prospective
affluence, at the Nouveau Luxe, or in a pretty flat of her own.
Trust Susy--ah, the pang of it--to "manage"!
His first visit was to his lawyer's; and as he walked through
the familiar streets each approaching face, each distant figure
seemed hers. The obsession was intolerable. It would not last,
of course; but meanwhile he had the exposed sense of a fugitive
in a nightmare, who feels himself the only creature visible in a
ghostly and besetting multitude. The eye of the metropolis
seemed fixed on him in an immense unblinking stare.
At the lawyer's he was told that, as a first step to freedom, he
must secure a domicile in Paris. He had of course known of this
necessity: he had seen too many friends through the Divorce
Court, in one country or another, not to be fairly familiar with
the procedure. But the fact presented a different aspect as
soon as he tried to relate it to himself and Susy: it was as
though Susy's personality were a medium through which events
still took on a transfiguring colour. He found the "domicile"
that very day: a tawdrily furnished rez-de-chaussee, obviously
destined to far different uses. And as he sat there, after the
concierge had discreetly withdrawn with the first quarter's
payment in her pocket, and stared about him at the vulgar plushy
place, he burst out laughing at what it was about to figure in
the eyes of the law: a Home, and a Home desecrated by his own
act! The Home in which he and Susy had reared their precarious
bliss, and seen it crumble at the brutal touch of his
unfaithfulness and his cruelty--for he had been told that he
must be cruel to her as well as unfaithful! He looked at the
walls hung with sentimental photogravures, at the shiny bronze
"nudes," the moth-eaten animal-skins and the bedizened bed-and
once more the unreality, the impossibility, of all that was
happening to him entered like a drug into his veins.
To rouse himself he stood up, turned the key on the hideous
place, and returned to his lawyer's. He knew that in the hard
dry atmosphere of the office the act of giving the address of
the flat would restore some kind of reality to the phantasmal
transaction. And with wonder he watched the lawyer, as a matter
of course, pencil the street and the number on one of the papers
enclosed in a folder on which his own name was elaborately
As he took leave it occurred to him to ask where Susy was
living. At least he imagined that it had just occurred to him,
and that he was making the enquiry merely as a measure of
precaution, in order to know what quarter of Paris to avoid; but
in reality the question had been on his lips since he had first
entered the office, and lurking in his mind since he had emerged
from the railway station that morning. The fact of not knowing
where she lived made the whole of Paris a meaningless
unintelligible place, as useless to him as the face of a huge
clock that has lost its hour hand.
The address in Passy surprised him: he had imagined that she
would be somewhere in the neighborhood of the Champs Elysees or
the Place de l'Etoile. But probably either Mrs. Melrose or
Ellie Vanderlyn had taken a house at Passy. Well--it was
something of a relief to know that she was so far off. No
business called him to that almost suburban region beyond the
Trocadero, and there was much less chance of meeting her than if
she had been in the centre of Paris.
All day he wandered, avoiding the fashionable quarters, the
streets in which private motors glittered five deep, and furred
and feathered silhouettes glided from them into tea-rooms,
picture-galleries and jewellers' shops. In some such scenes
Susy was no doubt figuring: slenderer, finer, vivider, than the
other images of clay, but imitating their gestures, chattering
their jargon, winding her hand among the same pearls and sables.
He struck away across the Seine, along the quays to the Cite,
the net-work of old Paris, the great grey vaults of St.
Eustache, the swarming streets of the Marais. He gazed at
monuments dawdled before shop-windows, sat in squares and on
quays, watching people bargain, argue, philander, quarrel, work-
girls stroll past in linked bands, beggars whine on the bridges,
derelicts doze in the pale winter sun, mothers in mourning
hasten by taking children to school, and street-walkers beat
their weary rounds before the cafes.
The day drifted on. Toward evening he began to grow afraid of
his solitude, and to think of dining at the Nouveau Luxe, or
some other fashionable restaurant where he would be fairly sure
to meet acquaintances, and be carried off to a theatre, a boite
or a dancing-hall. Anything, anything now, to get away from the
maddening round of his thoughts. He felt the same blank fear of
solitude as months ago in Genoa .... Even if he were to run
across Susy and Altringham, what of it? Better get the job
over. People had long since ceased to take on tragedy airs
about divorce: dividing couples dined together to the last, and
met afterward in each other's houses, happy in the consciousness
that their respective remarriages had provided two new centres
of entertainment. Yet most of the couples who took their re-
matings so philosophically had doubtless had their hour of
enchantment, of belief in the immortality of loving; whereas he
and Susy had simply and frankly entered into a business contract
for their mutual advantage. The fact gave the last touch of
incongruity to his agonies and exaltations, and made him appear
to himself as grotesque and superannuated as the hero of a
He stood up from a bench on which he had been lounging in the
Luxembourg gardens, and hailed a taxi. Dusk had fallen, and he
meant to go back to his hotel, take a rest, and then go out to
dine. But instead, he threw Susy's address to the driver, and
settled down in the cab, resting both hands on the knob of his
umbrella and staring straight ahead of him as if he were
accomplishing some tiresome duty that had to be got through with
before he could turn his mind to more important things.
"It's the easiest way," he heard himself say.
At the street-corner--her street-corner--he stopped the cab, and
stood motionless while it rattled away. It was a short vague
street, much farther off than he had expected, and fading away
at the farther end in a dusky blur of hoardings overhung by
trees. A thin rain was beginning to fall, and it was already
night in this inadequately lit suburban quarter. Lansing walked
down the empty street. The houses stood a few yards apart, with
bare-twigged shrubs between, and gates and railings dividing
them from the pavement. He could not, at first, distinguish
their numbers; but presently, coming abreast of a street-lamp,
he discovered that the small shabby facade it illuminated was
precisely the one he sought. The discovery surprised him. He
had imagined that, as frequently happened in the outlying
quarters of Passy and La Muette, the mean street would lead to a
stately private hotel, built upon some bowery fragment of an old
country-place. It was the latest whim of the wealthy to
establish themselves on these outskirts of Paris, where there
was still space for verdure; and he had pictured Susy behind
some pillared house-front, with lights pouring across glossy
turf to sculptured gateposts. Instead, he saw a six-windowed
house, huddled among neighbours of its kind, with the family
wash fluttering between meagre bushes. The arc-light beat
ironically on its front, which had the worn look of a tired
work-woman's face; and Lansing, as he leaned against the
opposite railing, vainly tried to fit his vision of Susy into so
humble a setting.
The probable explanation was that his lawyer had given him the
wrong address; not only the wrong number but the wrong street.
He pulled out the slip of paper, and was crossing over to
decipher it under the lamp, when an errand-boy appeared out of
the obscurity, and approached the house. Nick drew back, and
the boy, unlatching the gate, ran up the steps and gave the bell
Almost immediately the door opened; and there stood Susy, the
light full upon her, and upon a red-checked child against her
shoulder. The space behind them was dark, or so dimly lit that
it formed a black background to her vivid figure. She looked at
the errand-boy without surprise, took his parcel, and after he
had turned away, lingered a moment in the door, glancing down
the empty street.
That moment, to her watcher, seemed quicker than a flash yet as
long as a life-time. There she was, a stone's throw away, but
utterly unconscious of his presence: his Susy, the old Susy,
and yet a new Susy, curiously transformed, transfigured almost,
by the new attitude in which he beheld her.
In the first shock of the vision he forgot his surprise at her
being in such a place, forgot to wonder whose house she was in,
or whose was the sleepy child in her arms. For an instant she
stood out from the blackness behind her, and through the veil of
the winter night, a thing apart, an unconditioned vision, the
eternal image of the woman and the child; and in that instant
everything within him was changed and renewed. His eyes were
still absorbing her, finding again the familiar curves of her
light body, noting the thinness of the lifted arm that upheld
the little boy, the droop of the shoulder he weighed on, the
brooding way in which her cheek leaned to his even while she
looked away; then she drew back, the door closed, and the
street-lamp again shone on blankness.
"But she's mine!" Nick cried, in a fierce triumph of
His eyes were so full of her that he shut them to hold in the
It remained with him, at first, as a complete picture; then
gradually it broke up into its component parts, the child
vanished, the strange house vanished, and Susy alone stood
before him, his own Susy, only his Susy, yet changed, worn,
tempered--older, even--with sharper shadows under the cheek-
bones, the brows drawn, the joint of the slim wrist more
prominent. It was not thus that his memory had evoked her, and
he recalled, with a remorseful pang, the fact that something in
her look, her dress, her tired and drooping attitude, suggested
poverty, dependence, seemed to make her after all a part of the
shabby house in which, at first sight, her presence had seemed
"But she looks poor!" he thought, his heart tightening. And
instantly it occurred to him that these must be the Fulmer
children whom she was living with while their parents travelled
in Italy. Rumours of Nat Fulmer's sudden ascension had reached
him, and he had heard that the couple had lately been seen in
Naples and Palermo. No one had mentioned Susy's name in
connection with them, and he could hardly tell why he had
arrived at this conclusion, except perhaps because it seemed
natural that, if Susy were in trouble, she should turn to her
old friend Grace.
But why in trouble? What trouble? What could have happened to
check her triumphant career?
"That's what I mean to find out!" he exclaimed.
His heart was beating with a tumult of new hopes and old
memories. The sight of his wife, so remote in mien and manner
from the world in which he had imagined her to be re-absorbed,
changed in a flash his own relation to life, and flung a mist of
unreality over all that he had been trying to think most solid
and tangible. Nothing now was substantial to him but the stones
of the street in which he stood, the front of the house which
hid her, the bell-handle he already felt in his grasp. He
started forward, and was halfway to the threshold when a private
motor turned the corner, the twin glitter of its lamps carpeting
the wet street with gold to Susy's door.
Lansing drew back into the shadow as the motor swept up to the
house. A man jumped out, and the light fell on Strefford's
shambling figure, its lazy disjointed movements so unmistakably
the same under his fur coat, and in the new setting of
Lansing stood motionless, staring at the door. Strefford rang,
and waited. Would Susy appear again? Perhaps she had done so
before only because she had been on the watch ....
But no: after a slight delay a bonne appeared --the breathless
maid-of-all-work of a busy household--and at once effaced
herself, letting the visitor in. Lansing was sure that not a
word passed between the two, of enquiry on Lord Altringham's
part, or of acquiescence on the servant's. There could be no
doubt that he was expected.
The door closed on him, and a light appeared behind the blind of
the adjoining window. The maid had shown the visitor into the
sitting-room and lit the lamp. Upstairs, meanwhile, Susy was no
doubt running skilful fingers through her tumbled hair and
daubing her pale lips with red. Ah, how Lansing knew every
movement of that familiar rite, even to the pucker of the brow
and the pouting thrust-out of the lower lip! He was seized with
a sense of physical sickness as the succession of remembered
gestures pressed upon his eyes .... And the other man? The
other man, inside the house, was perhaps at that very instant
smiling over the remembrance of the same scene!
At the thought, Lansing plunged away into the night.
SUSY and Lord Altringham sat in the little drawing-room, divided
from each other by a table carrying a smoky lamp and heaped with
In another half hour the bonne, despatched to fetch the children
from their classes, would be back with her flock; and at any
moment Geordie's imperious cries might summon his slave up to
the nursery. In the scant time allotted them, the two sat, and
visibly wondered what to say.
Strefford, on entering, had glanced about the dreary room, with
its piano laden with tattered music, the children's toys
littering the lame sofa, the bunches of dyed grass and impaled
butterflies flanking the cast-bronze clock. Then he had turned
to Susy and asked simply: "Why on earth are you here?"
She had not tried to explain; from the first, she had understood
the impossibility of doing so. And she would not betray her
secret longing to return to Nick, now that she knew that Nick
had taken definite steps for his release. In dread lest
Strefford should have heard of this, and should announce it to
her, coupling it with the news of Nick's projected marriage, and
lest, hearing her fears thus substantiated, she should lose her
self-control, she had preferred to say, in a voice that she
tried to make indifferent: "The 'proceedings,' or whatever the
lawyers call them, have begun. While they're going on I like to
stay quite by myself .... I don't know why ...."
Strefford, at that, had looked at her keenly. "Ah," he
murmured; and his lips were twisted into their old mocking
smile. "Speaking of proceedings," he went on carelessly, "what
stage have Ellie's reached, I wonder? I saw her and Vanderlyn
and Bockheimer all lunching cheerfully together to-day at
The blood rushed to Susy's forehead. She remembered her tragic
evening with Nelson Vanderlyn, only two months earlier, and
thought to herself. "In time, then, I suppose, Nick and I ....
Aloud she said: "I can't imagine how Nelson and Ellie can ever
want to see each other again. And in a restaurant, of all
Strefford continued to smile. "My dear, you're incorrigibly
old-fashioned. Why should two people who've done each other the
best turn they could by getting out of each other's way at the
right moment behave like sworn enemies ever afterward? It's too
absurd; the humbug's too flagrant. Whatever our generation has
failed to do, it's got rid of humbug; and that's enough to
immortalize it. I daresay Nelson and Ellie never liked each
other better than they do to-day. Twenty years ago, they'd have
been afraid to confess it; but why shouldn't they now?"
Susy looked at Strefford, conscious that under his words was the
ache of the disappointment she had caused him; and yet conscious
also that that very ache was not the overwhelming penetrating
emotion he perhaps wished it to be, but a pang on a par with a
dozen others; and that even while he felt it he foresaw the day
when he should cease to feel it. And she thought to herself
that this certainty of oblivion must be bitterer than any
certainty of pain.
A silence had fallen between them. He broke it by rising from
his seat, and saying with a shrug: "You'll end by driving me to
marry Joan Senechal."
Susy smiled. "Well, why not? She's lovely."
"Yes; but she'll bore me."
"Poor Streff! So should I--"
"Perhaps. But nothing like as soon--" He grinned sardonically.
"There'd be more margin." He appeared to wait for her to speak.
"And what else on earth are you going to do?" he concluded, as
she still remained silent.
"Oh, Streff, I couldn't marry you for a reason like that!" she
murmured at length.
"Then marry me, and find your reason afterward."
Her lips made a movement of denial, and still in silence she
held out her hand for good-bye. He clasped it, and then turned
away; but on the threshold he paused, his screwed-up eyes fixed
on her wistfully.
The look moved her, and she added hurriedly: "The only reason I
can find is one for not marrying you. It's because I can't yet
feel unmarried enough."
"Unmarried enough? But I thought Nick was doing his best to
make you feel that."
"Yes. But even when he has--sometimes I think even that won't
make any difference."
He still scrutinized her hesitatingly, with the gravest eyes she
had ever seen in his careless face.
"My dear, that's rather the way I feel about you," he said
simply as he turned to go.
That evening after the children had gone to bed Susy sat up late
in the cheerless sitting-room. She was not thinking of
Strefford but of Nick. He was coming to Paris--perhaps he had
already arrived. The idea that he might be in the same place
with her at that very moment, and without her knowing it, was so
strange and painful that she felt a violent revolt of all her
strong and joy-loving youth. Why should she go on suffering so
unbearably, so abjectly, so miserably? If only she could see
him, hear his voice, even hear him say again such cruel and
humiliating words as he had spoken on that dreadful day in
Venice when that would be better than this blankness, this utter
and final exclusion from his life! He had been cruel to her,
unimaginably cruel: hard, arrogant, unjust; and had been so,
perhaps, deliberately, because he already wanted to be free.
But she was ready to face even that possibility, to humble
herself still farther than he had humbled her--she was ready to
do anything, if only she might see him once again.
She leaned her aching head on her hands and pondered. Do
anything? But what could she do? Nothing that should hurt him,
interfere with his liberty, be false to the spirit of their
pact: on that she was more than ever resolved. She had made a
bargain, and she meant to stick to it, not for any abstract
reason, but simply because she happened to love him in that way.
Yes--but to see him again, only once!
Suddenly she remembered what Strefford had said about Nelson
Vanderlyn and his wife. "Why should two people who've just done
each other the best turn they could behave like sworn enemies
ever after?" If in offering Nick his freedom she had indeed
done him such a service as that, perhaps he no longer hated her,
would no longer be unwilling to see her .... At any rate, why
should she not write to him on that assumption, write in a
spirit of simple friendliness, suggesting that they should meet
and "settle things"? The business-like word "settle" (how she
hated it) would prove to him that she had no secret designs upon
his liberty; and besides he was too unprejudiced, too modern,
too free from what Strefford called humbug, not to understand
and accept such a suggestion. After all, perhaps Strefford was
right; it was something to have rid human relations of
hypocrisy, even if, in the process, so many exquisite things
seemed somehow to have been torn away with it ....
She ran up to her room, scribbled a note, and hurried with it
through the rain and darkness to the post-box at the corner. As
she returned through the empty street she had an odd feeling
that it was not empty--that perhaps Nick was already there,
somewhere near her in the night, about to follow her to the
door, enter the house, go up with her to her bedroom in the old
way. It was strange how close he had been brought by the mere
fact of her having written that little note to him!
In the bedroom, Geordie lay in his crib in ruddy slumber, and
she blew out the candle and undressed softly for fear of waking
Nick Lansing, the next day, received Susy's letter, transmitted
to his hotel from the lawyer's office.
He read it carefully, two or three times over, weighing and
scrutinizing the guarded words. She proposed that they should
meet to "settle things." What things? And why should he accede
to such a request? What secret purpose had prompted her? It
was horrible that nowadays, in thinking of Susy, he should
always suspect ulterior motives, be meanly on the watch for some
hidden tortuousness. What on earth was she trying to "manage"
now, he wondered.
A few hours ago, at the sight of her, all his hardness had
melted, and he had charged himself with cruelty, with injustice,
with every sin of pride against himself and her; but the
appearance of Strefford, arriving at that late hour, and so
evidently expected and welcomed, had driven back the rising tide
Yet, after all, what was there to wonder at? Nothing was
changed in their respective situations. He had left his wife,
deliberately, and for reasons which no subsequent experience had
caused him to modify. She had apparently acquiesced in his
decision, and had utilized it, as she was justified in doing, to
assure her own future.
In all this, what was there to wail or knock the breast between
two people who prided themselves on looking facts in the face,
and making their grim best of them, without vain repinings? He
had been right in thinking their marriage an act of madness.
Her charms had overruled his judgment, and they had had their
year ... their mad year ... or at least all but two or three
months of it. But his first intuition had been right; and now
they must both pay for their madness. The Fates seldom forget
the bargains made with them, or fail to ask for compound
interest. Why not, then, now that the time had come, pay up
gallantly, and remember of the episode only what had made it
seem so supremely worth the cost?
He sent a pneumatic telegram to Mrs. Nicholas Lansing to say
that he would call on her that afternoon at four. "That ought
to give us time," he reflected drily, "to 'settle things,' as
she calls it, without interfering with Strefford's afternoon
HER husband's note had briefly said:
"To-day at four o'clock. N.L."
All day she pored over the words in an agony of longing, trying
to read into them regret, emotion, memories, some echo of the
tumult in her own bosom. But she had signed "Susy," and he
signed "N.L." That seemed to put an abyss between them. After
all, she was free and he was not. Perhaps, in view of his
situation, she had only increased the distance between them by
her unconventional request for a meeting.
She sat in the little drawing-room, and the cast-bronze clock
ticked out the minutes. She would not look out of the window:
it might bring bad luck to watch for him. And it seemed to her
that a thousand invisible spirits, hidden demons of good and
evil, pressed about her, spying out her thoughts, counting her
heart-beats, ready to pounce upon the least symptom of over-
confidence and turn it deftly to derision. Oh, for an altar on
which to pour out propitiatory offerings! But what sweeter
could they have than her smothered heart-beats, her choked-back
The bell rang, and she stood up as if a spring had jerked her to
her feet. In the mirror between the dried grasses her face
looked long pale inanimate. Ah, if he should find her too
changed--! If there were but time to dash upstairs and put on a
touch of red ....
The door opened; it shut on him; he was there.
He said: "You wanted to see me?"
She answered: "Yes." And her heart seemed to stop beating.
At first she could not make out what mysterious change had come
over him, and why it was that in looking at him she seemed to be
looking at a stranger; then she perceived that his voice sounded
as it used to sound when he was talking to other people; and she
said to herself, with a sick shiver of understanding, that she
had become an "other person" to him.
There was a deathly pause; then she faltered out, not knowing
what she said: "Nick--you'll sit down?"
He said: "Thanks," but did not seem to have heard her, for he
continued to stand motionless, half the room between them. And
slowly the uselessness, the hopelessness of his being there
overcame her. A wall of granite seemed to have built itself up
between them. She felt as if it hid her from him, as if with
those remote new eyes of his he were staring into the wall and
not at her. Suddenly she said to herself: "He's suffering more
than I am, because he pities me, and is afraid to tell me that
he is going to be married."
The thought stung her pride, and she lifted her head and met his
eyes with a smile.
"Don't you think," she said, "it's more sensible-with
everything so changed in our lives--that we should meet as
friends, in this way? I wanted to tell you that you needn't
feel--feel in the least unhappy about me."
A deep flush rose to his forehead. "Oh, I know--I know that--"
he declared hastily; and added, with a factitious animation:
"But thank you for telling me."
"There's nothing, is there," she continued, "to make our meeting
in this way in the least embarrassing or painful to either of
us, when both have found ...." She broke off, and held her hand
out to him. "I've heard about you and Coral," she ended.
He just touched her hand with cold fingers, and let it drop.
"Thank you," he said for the third time.
"You won't sit down?"
He sat down.
"Don't you think," she continued, "that the new way of ... of
meeting as friends ... and talking things over without ill-
will ... is much pleasanter and more sensible, after all?"
He smiled. "It's immensely kind of you to feel that."
"Oh, I do feel it!" She stopped short, and wondered what on
earth she had meant to say next, and why she had so abruptly
lost the thread of her discourse.
In the pause she heard him cough slightly and clear his throat.
"Let me say, then," he began, "that I'm glad too--immensely glad
that your own future is so satisfactorily settled."
She lifted her glance again to his walled face, in which not a
"Yes: it--it makes everything easier for you, doesn't it?"
"For you too, I hope." He paused, and then went on: "I want
also to tell you that I perfectly understand--"
"Oh," she interrupted, "so do I; your point of view, I mean."
They were again silent.
"Nick, why can't we be friends real friends? Won't it be
easier?" she broke out at last with twitching lips.
"I mean, about talking things over--arrangements. There are
arrangements to be made, I suppose?"
"I suppose so." He hesitated. "I'm doing what I'm told-simply
following out instructions. The business is easy enough,
apparently. I'm taking the necessary steps--"
She reddened a little, and drew a gasping breath. "The
necessary steps: what are they? Everything the lawyers tell
one is so confusing .... I don't yet understand--how it's
"My share, you mean? Oh, it's very simple." He paused, and
added in a tone of laboured ease: "I'm going down to
She stared, not understanding. "To Fontainebleau--?"
Her bewilderment drew from him his first frank smile. "Well--
I chose Fontainebleau--I don't know why ... except that we've
never been there together."
At that she suddenly understood, and the blood rushed to her
forehead. She stood up without knowing what she was doing, her
heart in her throat. "How grotesque--how utterly disgusting!"
He gave a slight shrug. "I didn't make the laws ...."
"But isn't it too stupid and degrading that such things should
be necessary when two people want to part--?" She broke off
again, silenced by the echo of that fatal "want to part." ...
He seemed to prefer not to dwell farther on the legal
"You haven't yet told me," he suggested, "how you happen to be
"Here--with the Fulmer children?" She roused herself, trying to
catch his easier note. "Oh, I've simply been governessing them
for a few weeks, while Nat and Grace are in Sicily." She did
not say: "It's because I've parted with Strefford." Somehow it
helped her wounded pride a little to keep from him the secret of
her precarious independence.
He looked his wonder. "All alone with that bewildered bonne?
But how many of them are there? Five? Good Lord!" He
contemplated the clock with unseeing eyes, and then turned them
again on her face.
"I should have thought a lot of children would rather get on
"Oh, not these children. They're so good to me."
"Ah, well, I suppose it won't be for long."
He sent his eyes again about the room, which his absent-minded
gaze seemed to reduce to its dismal constituent elements, and
added, with an obvious effort at small talk: "I hear the
Fulmers are not hitting it off very well since his success. Is
it true that he's going to marry Violet Melrose?"
The blood rose to Susy's face. "Oh, never, never! He and Grace
are travelling together now."
"Oh, I didn't know. People say things ...." He was visibly
embarrassed with the subject, and sorry that he had broached it.
"Some of the things that people say are true. But Grace doesn't
mind. She says she and Nat belong to each other. They can't
help it, she thinks, after having been through such a lot
"Dear old Grace!"
He had risen from his chair, and this time she made no effort to
detain him. He seemed to have recovered his self-composure, and
it struck her painfully, humiliatingly almost, that he should
have spoken in that light way of the expedition to Fontainebleau
on the morrow .... Well, men were different, she supposed; she
remembered having felt that once before about Nick.
It was on the tip of her tongue to cry out: "But wait--wait!
I'm not going to marry Strefford after all!"--but to do so would
seem like an appeal to his compassion, to his indulgence; and
that was not what she wanted. She could never forget that he
had left her because he had not been able to forgive her for
"managing"--and not for the world would she have him think that
this meeting had been planned for such a purpose.
"If he doesn't see that I am different, in spite of
appearances ... and that I never was what he said I was that
day--if in all these months it hasn't come over him, what's the
use of trying to make him see it now?" she mused. And then, her
thoughts hurrying on: "Perhaps he's suffering too--I believe he
is suffering-at any rate, he's suffering for me, if not for
himself. But if he's pledged to Coral, what can he do? What
would he think of me if I tried to make him break his word to
There he stood--the man who was "going to Fontainebleau to-
morrow"; who called it "taking the necessary steps!" Who could
smile as he made the careless statement! A world seemed to
divide them already: it was as if their parting were already
over. All the words, cries, arguments beating loud wings in her
dropped back into silence. The only thought left was: "How
much longer does he mean to go on standing there?"
He may have read the question in her face, for turning back from
an absorbed contemplation of the window curtains he said:
"There's nothing else?"
"I mean: you spoke of things to be settled--"
She flushed, suddenly remembering the pretext she had used to
"Oh," she faltered, "I didn't know ... I thought there might
be .... But the lawyers, I suppose ...."
She saw the relief on his contracted face. "Exactly. I've
always thought it was best to leave it to them. I assure you"--
again for a moment the smile strained his lips-- "I shall do
nothing to interfere with a quick settlement."
She stood motionless, feeling herself turn to stone. He
appeared already a long way off, like a figure vanishing down a
"Then--good-bye," she heard him say from its farther end.
"Oh,--good-bye," she faltered, as if she had not had the word
ready, and was relieved to have him supply it.
He stopped again on the threshold, looked back at her, began to
speak. "I've--" he said; then he repeated "Good-bye," as though
to make sure he had not forgotten to say it; and the door closed
It was over; she had had her last chance and missed it. Now,
whatever happened, the one thing she had lived and longed for
would never be. He had come, and she had let him go again ....
How had it come about? Would she ever be able to explain it to
herself? How was it that she, so fertile in strategy, so
practiced in feminine arts, had stood there before him,
helpless, inarticulate, like a school-girl a-choke with her
first love-longing? If he was gone, and gone never to return,
it was her own fault, and none but hers. What had she done to
move him, detain him, make his heart beat and his head swim as
hers were beating and swimming? She stood aghast at her own
inadequacy, her stony inexpressiveness ....
And suddenly she lifted her hands to her throbbing forehead and
cried out: "But this is love! This must be love!"
She had loved him before, she supposed; for what else was she to
call the impulse that had drawn her to him, taught her how to
overcome his scruples, and whirled him away with her on their
mad adventure? Well, if that was love, this was something so
much larger and deeper that the other feeling seemed the mere
dancing of her blood in tune with his ....
But, no! Real love, great love, the love that poets sang, and
privileged and tortured beings lived and died of, that love had
its own superior expressiveness, and the sure command of its
means. The petty arts of coquetry were no farther from it than
the numbness of the untaught girl. Great love was wise, strong,
powerful, like genius, like any other dominant form of human
power. It knew itself, and what it wanted, and how to attain
Not great love, then ... but just the common humble average of
human love was hers. And it had come to her so newly, so
overwhelmingly, with a face so grave, a touch so startling, that
she had stood there petrified, humbled at the first look of its
eyes, recognizing that what she had once taken for love was
merely pleasure and spring-time, and the flavour of youth.
"But how was I to know? And now it's too late!" she wailed.
THE inhabitants of the little house in Passy were of necessity
early risers; but when Susy jumped out of bed the next morning
no one else was astir, and it lacked nearly an hour of the call
of the bonne's alarm-clock.
For a moment Susy leaned out of her dark room into the darker
night. A cold drizzle fell on her face, and she shivered and
drew back. Then, lighting a candle, and shading it, as her
habit was, from the sleeping child, she slipped on her dressing-
gown and opened the door. On the threshold she paused to look
at her watch. Only half-past five! She thought with
compunction of the unkindness of breaking in on Junie Fulmer's
slumbers; but such scruples did not weigh an ounce in the
balance of her purpose. Poor Junie would have to oversleep
herself on Sunday, that was all.
Susy stole into the passage, opened a door, and cast her light
on the girl's face.
"Junie! Dearest Junie, you must wake up!"
Junie lay in the abandonment of youthful sleep; but at the sound
of her name she sat up with the promptness of a grown person on
whom domestic burdens have long weighed.
"Which one of them is it?" she asked, one foot already out of
"Oh, Junie dear, no ... it's nothing wrong with the children ...
or with anybody," Susy stammered, on her knees by the bed.
In the candlelight, she saw Junie's anxious brow darken
"Oh, Susy, then why--? I was just dreaming we were all driving
about Rome in a great big motor-car with father and mother!"
"I'm so sorry, dear. What a lovely dream! I'm a brute to have
She felt the little girl's awakening scrutiny. "If there's
nothing wrong with anybody, why are you crying, Susy? Is it you
there's something wrong with? What has happened?"
"Am I crying?" Susy rose from her knees and sat down on the
counterpane. "Yes, it is me. And I had to disturb you."
"Oh, Susy, darling, what is it?" Junie's arms were about her in
a flash, and Susy grasped them in burning fingers.
"Junie, listen! I've got to go away at once-- to leave you all
for the whole day. I may not be back till late this evening;
late to-night; I can't tell. I promised your mother I'd never
leave you; but I've got to--I've got to."
Junie considered her agitated face with fully awakened eyes.
"Oh, I won't tell, you know, you old brick, " she said with
Susy hugged her. "Junie, Junie, you darling! But that wasn't
what I meant. Of course you may tell--you must tell. I shall
write to your mother myself. But what worries me is the idea of
having to go away-- away from Paris--for the whole day, with
Geordie still coughing a little, and no one but that silly
Angele to stay with him while you're out--and no one but you to
take yourself and the others to school. But Junie, Junie, I've
got to do it!" she sobbed out, clutching the child tighter.
Junie Fulmer, with her strangely mature perception of the case,
and seemingly of every case that fate might call on her to deal
with, sat for a moment motionless in Susy's hold. Then she
freed her wrists with an adroit twist, and leaning back against
the pillows said judiciously: "You'll never in the world bring
up a family of your own if you take on like this over other
Through all her turmoil of spirit the observation drew a laugh
from Susy. "Oh, a family of my own--I don't deserve one, the
way I'm behaving to your"
Junie still considered her. "My dear, a change will do you
good: you need it," she pronounced.
Susy rose with a laughing sigh. "I'm not at all sure it will!
But I've got to have it, all the same. Only I do feel
anxious--and I can't even leave you my address!"
Junie still seemed to examine the case.
"Can't you even tell me where you're going?" she ventured, as if
not quite sure of the delicacy of asking.
"Well--no, I don't think I can; not till I get back. Besides,
even if I could it wouldn't be much use, because I couldn't give
you my address there. I don't know what it will be."
"But what does it matter, if you're coming back to-night?"
"Of course I'm coming back! How could you possibly imagine I
should think of leaving you for more than a day?"
"Oh, I shouldn't be afraid--not much, that is, with the poker,
and Nat's water-pistol," emended Junie, still judicious.
Susy again enfolded her vehemently, and then turned to more
practical matters. She explained that she wished if possible to
catch an eight-thirty train from the Gare de Lyon, and that
there was not a moment to lose if the children were to be
dressed and fed, and full instructions written out for Junie and
Angele, before she rushed for the underground.
While she bathed Geordie, and then hurried into her own clothes,
she could not help wondering at her own extreme solicitude for
her charges. She remembered, with a pang, how often she had
deserted Clarissa Vanderlyn for the whole day, and even for two
or three in succession--poor little Clarissa, whom she knew to
be so unprotected, so exposed to evil influences. She had been
too much absorbed in her own greedy bliss to be more than
intermittently aware of the child; but now, she felt, no sorrow
however ravaging, no happiness however absorbing, would ever
again isolate her from her kind.
And then these children were so different! The exquisite
Clarissa was already the predestined victim of her surroundings:
her budding soul was divided from Susy's by the same barrier of
incomprehension that separated the latter from Mrs. Vanderlyn.
Clarissa had nothing to teach Susy but the horror of her own
hard little appetites; whereas the company of the noisy
argumentative Fulmers had been a school of wisdom and
As she applied the brush to Geordie's shining head and the
handkerchief to his snuffling nose, the sense of what she owed
him was so borne in on Susy that she interrupted the process to
catch him to her bosom.
"I'll have such a story to tell you when I get back to-night, if
you'll promise me to be good all day," she bargained with him;
and Geordie, always astute, bargained back: "Before I promise,
I'd like to know what story."
At length all was in order. Junie had been enlightened, and
Angele stunned, by the minuteness of Susy's instructions; and
the latter, waterproofed and stoutly shod, descended the
doorstep, and paused to wave at the pyramid of heads yearning to
her from an upper window.
It was hardly light, and still raining, when she turned into the
dismal street. As usual, it was empty; but at the corner she
perceived a hesitating taxi, with luggage piled beside the
driver. Perhaps it was some early traveller, just arriving, who
would release the carriage in time for her to catch it, and thus
avoid the walk to the metro, and the subsequent strap-hanging;
for it was the work-people's hour. Susy raced toward the
vehicle, which, overcoming its hesitation, was beginning to move
in her direction. Observing this, she stopped to see where it
would discharge its load. Thereupon the taxi stopped also, and
the load discharged itself in front of her in the shape of Nick
The two stood staring at each other through the rain till Nick
broke out: "Where are you going? I came to get you."
"To get me? To get me?" she repeated. Beside the driver she
had suddenly remarked the old suit-case from which her husband
had obliged her to extract Strefford's cigars as they were
leaving Como; and everything that had happened since seemed to
fall away and vanish in the pang and rapture of that memory.
"To get you; yes. Of course." He spoke the words peremptorily,
almost as if they were an order. "Where were you going?" he
Without answering, she turned toward the house. He followed
her, and the laden taxi closed the procession.
"Why are you out in such weather without an umbrella?" he
continued, in the same severe tone, drawing her under the
shelter of his.
"Oh, because Junie's umbrella is in tatters, and I had to leave
her mine, as I was going away for the whole day." She spoke the
words like a person in a trance.
"For the whole day? At this hour? Where?"
They were on the doorstep, and she fumbled automatically for her
key, let herself in, and led the way to the sitting-room. It
had not been tidied up since the night before. The children's
school books lay scattered on the table and sofa, and the empty
fireplace was grey with ashes. She turned to Nick in the pallid
"I was going to see you," she stammered, "I was going to follow
you to Fontainebleau, if necessary, to tell you ... to prevent
He repeated in the same aggressive tone: "Tell me what?
"Tell you that there must be some other way ... some decent
way ... of our separating ... without that horror. that horror
of your going off with a woman ...."
He stared, and then burst into a laugh. The blood rushed to her
face. She had caught a familiar ring in his laugh, and it
wounded her. What business had he, at such a time, to laugh in
the old way?
"I'm sorry; but there is no other way, I'm afraid. No other way
but one," he corrected himself.
She raised her head sharply. "Well?"
"That you should be the woman. --Oh, my dear!" He had dropped
his mocking smile, and was at her side, her hands in his. "Oh,
my dear, don't you see that we've both been feeling the same
thing, and at the same hour? You lay awake thinking of it all
night, didn't you? So did I. Whenever the clock struck, I said
to myself: 'She's hearing it too.' And I was up before
daylight, and packed my traps--for I never want to set foot
again in that awful hotel where I've lived in hell for the last
three days. And I swore to myself that I'd go off with a woman
by the first train I could catch--and so I mean to, my dear."
She stood before him numb. Yes, numb: that was the worst of
it! The violence of the reaction had been too great, and she
could hardly understand what he was saying. Instead, she
noticed that the tassel of the window-blind was torn off again
(oh, those children!), and vaguely wondered if his luggage were
safe on the waiting taxi. One heard such stories ....
His voice came back to her. "Susy! Listen!" he was entreating.
"You must see yourself that it can't be. We're married--isn't
that all that matters? Oh, I know--I've behaved like a brute:
a cursed arrogant ass! You couldn't wish that ass a worse
kicking than I've given him! But that's not the point, you see.
The point is that we're married .... Married .... Doesn't it
mean something to you, something--inexorable? It does to me. I
didn't dream it would--in just that way. But all I can say is
that I suppose the people who don't feel it aren't really
married-and they'd better separate; much better. As for us--"
Through her tears she gasped out: "That's what I felt ...
that's what I said to Streff ...."
He was upon her with a great embrace. "My darling! My darling!
You have told him?"
"Yes," she panted. "That's why I'm living here." She paused.
"And you've told Coral?"
She felt his embrace relax. He drew away a little, still
holding her, but with lowered head.
"No ... I ... haven't."
"Oh, Nick! But then--?"
He caught her to him again, resentfully. "Well--then what?
What do you mean? What earthly difference does it make?"
"But if you've told her you were going to marry her--" (Try as
she would, her voice was full of silver chimes.)
"Marry her? Marry her?" he echoed. "But how could I? What
does marriage mean anyhow? If it means anything at all it
means--you! And I can't ask Coral Hicks just to come and live
with me, can I?"
Between crying and laughing she lay on his breast, and his hand
passed over her hair.
They were silent for a while; then he began again: "You said it
yourself yesterday, you know."
She strayed back from sunlit distances. "Yesterday?"
"Yes: that Grace Fulmer says you can't separate two people
who've been through a lot of things--"
"Ah, been through them together--it's not the things, you see,
it's the togetherness," she interrupted.
"The togetherness--that's it!" He seized on the word as if it
had just been coined to express their case, and his mind could
rest in it without farther labour.
The door-bell rang, and they started. Through the window they
saw the taxi-driver gesticulating enquiries as to the fate of
"He wants to know if he's to leave it here," Susy laughed.
"No--no! You're to come with me," her husband declared.
"Come with you?" She laughed again at the absurdity of the
"Of course: this very instant. What did you suppose? That I
was going away without you? Run up and pack your things," he
"My things? My things? But I can't leave the children!"
He stared, between indignation and amusement. "Can't leave the
children? Nonsense! Why, you said yourself you were going to
follow me to Fontainebleau--"
She reddened again, this time a little painfully "I didn't know
what I was doing .... I had to find you ... but I should have
come back this evening, no matter what happened."
"No matter what?"
She nodded, and met his gaze resolutely.
"No; but really--"
"Really, I can't leave the children till Nat and Grace come
back. I promised I wouldn't."
"Yes; but you didn't know then .... Why on earth can't their
nurse look after them?"
"There isn't any nurse but me."
"But it's only for two weeks more," she pleaded. "Two weeks!
Do you know how long I've been without you!" He seized her by
both wrists, and drew them against his breast. "Come with me at
least for two days--Susy!" he entreated her.
"Oh," she cried, "that's the very first time you've said my
"Susy, Susy, then--my Susy--Susy! And you've only said mine
once, you know."
"Nick!" she sighed, at peace, as if the one syllable were a
magic seed that hung out great branches to envelop them.
"Well, then, Susy, be reasonable. Come!"
"Reasonable--oh, reasonable!" she sobbed through laughter.
"Unreasonable, then! That's even better."
She freed herself, and drew back gently. "Nick, I swore I
wouldn't leave them; and I can't. It's not only my promise to
their mother--it's what they've been to me themselves. You
don't, know ... You can't imagine the things they've taught me.
They're awfully naughty at times, because they're so clever; but
when they're good they're the wisest people I know." She
paused, and a sudden inspiration illuminated her. "But why
shouldn't we take them with us?" she exclaimed.
Her husband's arms fell away from her, and he stood dumfounded.
"Take them with us?"
"All five of them?"
"Of course--I couldn't possibly separate them. And Junie and
Nat will help us to look after the young ones."
"Help us!" he groaned.
"Oh, you'll see; they won't bother you. Just leave it to me;
I'll manage--" The word stopped her short, and an agony of
crimson suffused her from brow to throat. Their eyes met; and
without a word he stooped and laid his lips gently on the stain
of red on her neck.
"Nick," she breathed, her hands in his.
"But those children--"
Instead of answering, she questioned: "Where are we going?"
His face lit up.
"Anywhere, dearest, that you choose."
"Well--I choose Fontainebleau!" she exulted.
"So do I! But we can't take all those children to an hotel at
Fontainebleau, can we?" he questioned weakly. "You see, dear,
there's the mere expense of it--"
Her eyes were already travelling far ahead of him. "The expense
won't amount to much. I've just remembered that Angele, the
bonne, has a sister who is cook there in a nice old-fashioned
pension which must be almost empty at this time of year. I'm
sure I can ma--arrange easily," she hurried on, nearly tripping
again over the fatal word. "And just think of the treat it will
be to them! This is Friday, and I can get them let off from
their afternoon classes, and keep them in the country till
Monday. Poor darlings, they haven't been out of Paris for
months! And I daresay the change will cure Geordie's cough--
Geordie's the youngest," she explained, surprised to find
herself, even in the rapture of reunion, so absorbed in the
welfare of the Fulmers.
She was conscious that her husband was surprised also; but
instead of prolonging the argument he simply questioned: "Was
Geordie the chap you had in your arms when you opened the front
door the night before last?"
She echoed: "I opened the front door the night before last?"
"To a boy with a parcel."
"Oh," she sobbed, "you were there? You were watching?"
He held her to him, and the currents flowed between them warm
and full as on the night of their moon over Como.
In a trice, after that, she had the matter in hand and her
forces marshalled. The taxi was paid, Nick's luggage deposited
in the vestibule, and the children, just piling down to
breakfast, were summoned in to hear the news.
It was apparent that, seasoned to surprises as they were, Nick's
presence took them aback. But when, between laughter and
embraces, his identity, and his right to be where he was, had
been made clear to them, Junie dismissed the matter by asking
him in her practical way: "Then I suppose we may talk about you
to Susy now?"--and thereafter all five addressed themselves to
the vision of their imminent holiday.
>From that moment the little house became the centre of a
whirlwind. Treats so unforeseen, and of such magnitude, were
rare in the young Fulmers' experience, and had it not been for
Junie's steadying influence Susy's charges would have got out of
hand. But young Nat, appealed to by Nick on the ground of their
common manhood, was induced to forego celebrating the event on
his motor horn (the very same which had tortured the New
Hampshire echoes), and to assert his authority over his juniors;
and finally a plan began to emerge from the chaos, and each
child to fit into it like a bit of a picture puzzle.
Susy, riding the whirlwind with her usual firmness, nevertheless
felt an undercurrent of anxiety. There had been no time as yet,
between her and Nick, to revert to money matters; and where
there was so little money it could not, obviously, much matter.
But that was the more reason for being secretly aghast at her
intrepid resolve not to separate herself from her charges. A
three days' honey-moon with five children in the party-and
children with the Fulmer appetite--could not but be a costly
business; and while she settled details, packed them off to
school, and routed out such nondescript receptacles as the house
contained in the way of luggage, her thoughts remained fixed on
the familiar financial problem.
Yes--it was cruel to have it rear its hated head, even through
the bursting boughs of her new spring; but there it was, the
perpetual serpent in her Eden, to be bribed, fed, sent to sleep
with such scraps as she could beg, borrow or steal for it. And
she supposed it was the price that fate meant her to pay for her
blessedness, and was surer than ever that the blessedness was
worth it. Only, how was she to compound the business with her
With the children's things to pack, luncheon to be got ready,
and the Fontainebleau pension to be telephoned to, there was
little time to waste on moral casuistry; and Susy asked herself
with a certain irony if the chronic lack of time to deal with
money difficulties had not been the chief cause of her previous
lapses. There was no time to deal with this question either; no
time, in short, to do anything but rush forward on a great gale
of plans and preparations, in the course of which she whirled
Nick forth to buy some charcuterie for luncheon, and telephone
Once he was gone--and after watching him safely round the
corner--she too got into her wraps, and transferring a small
packet from her dressing-case to her pocket, hastened out in a
IT took two brimming taxi-cabs to carry the Nicholas Lansings to
the station on their second honey-moon. In the first were Nick,
Susy and the luggage of the whole party (little Nat's motor horn
included, as a last concession, and because he had hitherto
forborne to play on it); and in the second, the five Fulmers,
the bonne, who at the eleventh hour had refused to be left, a
cage-full of canaries, and a foundling kitten who had murderous
designs on them; all of which had to be taken because, if the
bonne came, there would be nobody left to look after them.
At the corner Susy tore herself from Nick's arms and held up the
procession while she ran back to the second taxi to make sure
that the bonne had brought the house-key. It was found of
course that she hadn't but that Junie had; whereupon the caravan
got under way again, and reached the station just as the train
was starting; and there, by some miracle of good nature on the
part of the guard, they were all packed together into an empty
compartment--no doubt, as Susy remarked, because train officials
never failed to spot a newly-married couple, and treat them
The children, sentinelled by Junie, at first gave promise of
superhuman goodness; but presently their feelings overflowed,
and they were not to be quieted till it had been agreed that Nat
should blow his motor-horn at each halt, while the twins called
out the names of the stations, and Geordie, with the canaries
and kitten, affected to change trains.
Luckily the halts were few; but the excitement of travel,
combined with over-indulgence in the chocolates imprudently
provided by Nick, overwhelmed Geordie with a sudden melancholy
that could be appeased only by Susy's telling him stories till
they arrived at Fontainebleau.
The day was soft, with mild gleams of sunlight on decaying
foliage; and after luggage and livestock had been dropped at the
pension Susy confessed that she had promised the children a
scamper in the forest, and buns in a tea-shop afterward. Nick
placidly agreed, and darkness had long fallen, and a great many
buns been consumed, when at length the procession turned down
the street toward the pension, headed by Nick with the sleeping
Geordie on his shoulder, while the others, speechless with
fatigue and food, hung heavily on Susy.
It had been decided that, as the bonne was of the party, the
children might be entrusted to her for the night, and Nick and
Susy establish themselves in an adjacent hotel. Nick had
flattered himself that they might remove their possessions there
when they returned from the tea-room; but Susy, manifestly
surprised at the idea, reminded him that her charges must first
be given their supper and put to bed. She suggested that he
should meanwhile take the bags to the hotel, and promised to
join him as soon as Geordie was asleep.
She was a long time coming, but waiting for her was sweet, even
in a deserted hotel reading-room insufficiently heated by a
sulky stove; and after he had glanced through his morning's
mail, hurriedly thrust into his pocket as he left Paris, he sank
into a state of drowsy beatitude. It was all the maddest
business in the world, yet it did not give him the sense of
unreality that had made their first adventure a mere golden
dream; and he sat and waited with the security of one in whom
dear habits have struck deep roots. In this mood of
acquiescence even the presence of the five Fulmers seemed a
natural and necessary consequence of all the rest; and when Susy
at length appeared, a little pale and tired, with the brooding
inward look that busy mothers bring from the nursery, that too
seemed natural and necessary, and part of the new order of
They had wandered out to a cheap restaurant for dinner; now, in
the damp December night, they were walking back to the hotel
under a sky full of rain-clouds. They seemed to have said
everything to each other, and yet barely to have begun what they
had to tell; and at each step they took, their heavy feet
dragged a great load of bliss.
In the hotel almost all the lights were already out; and they
groped their way to the third floor room which was the only one
that Susy had found cheap enough. A ray from a street-lamp
struck up through the unshuttered windows; and after Nick had
revived the fire they drew their chairs close to it, and sat
quietly for a while in the dark.
Their silence was so sweet that Nick could not make up his mind
to break it; not to do so gave his tossing spirit such a sense
of permanence, of having at last unlimited time before him in
which to taste his joy and let its sweetness stream through him.
But at length he roused himself to say: "It's queer how things
coincide. I've had a little bit of good news in one of the
letters I got this morning."
Susy took the announcement serenely. "Well, you would, you
know," she commented, as if the day had been too obviously
designed for bliss to escape the notice of its dispensers.
"Yes," he continued with a thrill of pardonable pride. "During
the cruise I did a couple of articles on Crete--oh, just travel-
impressions, of course; they couldn't be more. But the editor
of the New Review has accepted them, and asks for others. And
here's his cheque, if you please! So you see you might have let
me take the jolly room downstairs with the pink curtains. And
it makes me awfully hopeful about my book."
He had expected a rapturous outburst, and perhaps some
reassertion of wifely faith in the glorious future that awaited
The Pageant of Alexander; and deep down under the lover's well-
being the author felt a faint twinge of mortified vanity when
Susy, leaping to her feet, cried out, ravenously and without
preamble: "Oh, Nick, Nick--let me see how much they've given
He flourished the cheque before her in the firelight. "A couple
of hundred, you mercenary wretch!"
"Oh, oh--" she gasped, as if the good news had been almost too
much for her tense nerves; and then surprised him by dropping to
the ground, and burying her face against his knees.
"Susy, my Susy," he whispered, his hand on her shaking shoulder.
"Why, dear, what is it? You're not crying?"
"Oh, Nick, Nick--two hundred? Two hundred dollars? Then I've
got to tell you--oh now, at once!"
A faint chill ran over him, and involuntarily his hand drew back
from her bowed figure.
"Now? Oh, why now?" he protested. "What on earth does it
matter now--whatever it is?"
"But it does matter--it matters more than you can think!"
She straightened herself, still kneeling before him, and lifted
her head so that the firelight behind her turned her hair into a
ruddy halo. "Oh, Nick, the bracelet--Ellie's bracelet ....
I've never returned it to her," she faltered out.
He felt himself recoiling under the hands with which she
clutched his knees. For an instant he did not remember what she
alluded to; it was the mere mention of Ellie Vanderlyn's name
that had fallen between them like an icy shadow. What an
incorrigible fool he had been to think they could ever shake off
such memories, or cease to be the slaves of such a past!
"The bracelet?--Oh, yes," he said, suddenly understanding, and
feeling the chill mount slowly to his lips.
"Yes, the bracelet ... Oh, Nick, I meant to give it back at
once; I did--I did; but the day you went away I forgot
everything else. And when I found the thing, in the bottom of
my bag, weeks afterward, I thought everything was over between
you and me, and I had begun to see Ellie again, and she was kind
to me and how could I?" To save his life he could have found no
answer, and she pressed on: "And so this morning, when I saw
you were frightened by the expense of bringing all the children
with us, and when I felt I couldn't leave them, and couldn't
leave you either, I remembered the bracelet; and I sent you off
to telephone while I rushed round the corner to a little
jeweller's where I'd been before, and pawned it so that you
shouldn't have to pay for the children .... But now, darling,
you see, if you've got all that money, I can get it out of pawn
at once, can't I, and send it back to her?"
She flung her arms about him, and he held her fast, wondering if
the tears he felt were hers or his. Still he did not speak; but
as he clasped her close she added, with an irrepressible flash
of her old irony: "Not that Ellie will understand why I've done
it. She's never yet been able to make out why you returned her
For a long time she continued to lean against him, her head on
his knees, as she had done on the terrace of Como on the last
night of their honeymoon. She had ceased to talk, and he sat
silent also, passing his hand quietly to and fro over her hair.
The first rapture had been succeeded by soberer feelings. Her
confession had broken up the frozen pride about his heart, and
humbled him to the earth; but it had also roused forgotten
things, memories and scruples swept aside in the first rush of
their reunion. He and she belonged to each other for always:
he understood that now. The impulse which had first drawn them
together again, in spite of reason, in spite of themselves
almost, that deep-seated instinctive need that each had of the
other, would never again wholly let them go. Yet as he sat
there he thought of Strefford, he thought of Coral Hicks. He
had been a coward in regard to Coral, and Susy had been sincere
and courageous in regard to Strefford. Yet his mind dwelt on
Coral with tenderness, with compunction, with remorse; and he
was almost sure that Susy had already put Strefford utterly out
of her mind.
It was the old contrast between the two ways of loving, the
man's way and the woman's; and after a moment it seemed to Nick
natural enough that Susy, from the very moment of finding him
again, should feel neither pity nor regret, and that Strefford
should already be to her as if he had never been. After all,
there was something Providential in such arrangements.
He stooped closer, pressed her dreaming head between his hands,
and whispered: "Wake up; it's bedtime."
She rose; but as she moved away to turn on the light he caught
her hand and drew her to the window. They leaned on the sill in
the darkness, and through the clouds, from which a few drops
were already falling, the moon, labouring upward, swam into a
space of sky, cast her troubled glory on them, and was again