Part 3 out of 7
Eastern Alps. In January, in an outbreak of enquiry, he had gone
with Lionel Maxim to St. Petersburg and had eaten zakuska,
brightened his eyes with vodka, talked with a number of charming
people of the war that was then imminent, listened to gipsy singers
until dawn, careered in sledges about the most silent and stately of
capitals, and returned with Lionel, discoursing upon autocracy and
assassination, Japan, the Russian destiny, and the government of
Peter the Great. That excursion was the most after his heart of all
the dispersed employments of his first year. Through the rest of
the winter he kept himself very fit, and still further qualified
that nervous dislike for the horse that he had acquired from
Prothero by hunting once a week in Essex. He was incurably a bad
horseman; he rode without sympathy, he was unready and convulsive at
hedges and ditches, and he judged distances badly. His white face
and rigid seat and a certain joylessness of bearing in the saddle
earned him the singular nickname, which never reached his ears, of
the "Galvanized Corpse." He got through, however, at the cost of
four quite trifling spills and without damaging either of the horses
he rode. And his physical self-respect increased.
On his writing-desk appeared a few sheets of manuscript that
increased only very slowly. He was trying to express his Cambridge
view of aristocracy in terms of Finacue Street, West.
The artistic and intellectual movements of London had made their
various demands upon his time and energies. Art came to him with a
noble assumption of his interest and an intention that presently
became unpleasantly obvious to sell him pictures that he did not
want to buy and explain away pictures that he did. He bought one or
two modern achievements, and began to doubt if art and aristocracy
had any necessary connection. At first he had accepted the
assumption that they had. After all, he reflected, one lives rather
for life and things than for pictures of life and things or pictures
arising out of life and things. This Art had an air of saying
something, but when one came to grips with it what had it to say?
Unless it was Yah! The drama, and more particularly the
intellectual drama, challenged his attention. In the hands of Shaw,
Barker, Masefield, Galsworthy, and Hankin, it, too, had an air of
saying something, but he found it extremely difficult to join on to
his own demands upon life anything whatever that the intellectual
drama had the air of having said. He would sit forward in the front
row of the dress-circle with his cheek on his hand and his brow
slightly knit. His intentness amused observant people. The drama
that did not profess to be intellectual he went to with Lady
Marayne, and usually on first nights. Lady Marayne loved a big
first night at St. James's Theatre or His Majesty's. Afterwards,
perhaps, Sir Godfrey would join them at a supper party, and all
sorts of clever and amusing people would be there saying keen
intimate things about each other. He met Yeats, who told amusing
stories about George Moore, and afterwards he met George Moore, who
told amusing stories about Yeats, and it was all, he felt, great fun
for the people who were in it. But he was not in it, and he had no
very keen desire to be in it. It wasn't his stuff. He had, though
they were nowadays rather at the back of his mind, quite other
intentions. In the meanwhile all these things took up his time and
distracted his attention.
There was, as yet, no practicable aviation to beguile a young man of
spirit, but there were times when Benham found himself wondering
whether there might not be something rather creditable in the
possession and control of a motor-car of exceptional power. Only
one might smash people up. Should an aristocrat be deterred by the
fear of smashing people up? If it is a selfish fear of smashing
people up, if it is nerves rather than pity? At any rate it did not
come to the car.
Among other things that delayed Benham very greatly in the
development of his aristocratic experiments was the advice that was
coming to him from every quarter. It came in extraordinary variety
and volume, but always it had one unvarying feature. It ignored and
tacitly contradicted his private intentions.
We are all of us disposed to be propagandists of our way of living,
and the spectacle of a wealthy young man quite at large is enough to
excite the most temperate of us without distinction of age or sex.
"If I were you," came to be a familiar phrase in his ear. This was
particularly the case with political people; and they did it not
only from the natural infirmity of humanity, but because, when they
seemed reluctant or satisfied with him as he was, Lady Marayne egged
There was a general assumption that he was to go into Parliament,
and most of his counsellors assumed further that on the whole his
natural sympathies would take him into the Conservative party. But
it was pointed out to him that just at present the Liberal party was
the party of a young man's opportunity; sooner or later the swing of
the pendulum which would weed the Conservatives and proliferate
Liberals was bound to come, there was always more demand and
opportunity for candidates on the Liberal side, the Tariff Reformers
were straining their ministerial majority to the splitting point,
and most of the old Liberal leaders had died off during the years of
exile. The party was no longer dominated; it would tolerate ideas.
A young man who took a distinctive line--provided it was not from
the party point of view a vexatious or impossible line--might go
very rapidly far and high. On the other hand, it was urged upon him
that the Tariff Reform adventure called also for youth and energy.
But there, perhaps, there was less scope for the distinctive line--
and already they had Garvin. Quite a number of Benham's friends
pointed out to him the value of working out some special aspect of
our national political interests. A very useful speciality was the
Balkans. Mr. Pope, the well-known publicist, whose very sound and
considerable reputation was based on the East Purblow Labour
Experiment, met Benham at lunch and proposed to go with him in a
spirit of instructive association to the Balkans, rub up their Greek
together, and settle the problem of Albania. He wanted, he said, a
foreign speciality to balance his East Purblow interest. But Lady
Beach Mandarin warned Benham against the Balkans; the Balkans were
getting to be too handy for Easter and summer holidays, and now that
there were several good hotels in Servia and Montenegro and Sofia,
they were being overdone. Everybody went to the Balkans and came
back with a pet nationality. She loathed pet nationalities. She
believed most people loathed them nowadays. It was stale: it was
GLADSTONIAN. She was all for specialization in social reform. She
thought Benham ought to join the Fabian Society and consult the
Webbs. Quite a number of able young men had been placed with the
assistance of the Webbs. They were, she said, "a perfect fount. . . ."
Two other people, independently of each other, pointed out to
Benham the helpfulness of a few articles in the half-crown
monthlies. . . .
"What are the assumptions underlying all this?" Benham asked himself
in a phase of lucidity.
And after reflection. "Good God! The assumptions! What do they
think will satisfy me? . . ."
Everybody, however, did not point to Parliament. Several people
seemed to think Travel, with a large T, was indicated. One distant
cousin of Sir Godfrey's, the kind of man of the world who has long
moustaches, was for big game shooting. "Get right out of all this
while you are young," he said. "There's nothing to compare with
stopping a charging lion at twenty yards. I've done it, my boy.
You can come back for all this pow-wow afterwards." He gave the
diplomatic service as a second choice. "There you are," he said,
"first-rate social position, nothing to do, theatres, operas, pretty
women, colour, life. The best of good times. Barring Washington,
that is. But Washington, they say, isn't as bad as it used to be--
since Teddy has Europeanized 'em. . . ."
Even the Reverend Harold Benham took a subdued but thoughtful share
in his son's admonition. He came up to the flat--due precautions
were taken to prevent a painful encounter--he lunched at his son's
new club, and he was visibly oppressed by the contrast between the
young man's youthful fortunes and his own. As visibly he bore up
bravely. "There are few men, Poff, who would not envy you your
opportunities," he said. "You have the Feast of Life spread out at
your feet. . . . I hope you have had yourself put up for the
Athenaeum. They say it takes years. When I was a young man--and
ambitious--I thought that some day I might belong to the
Athenaeum. . . . One has to learn. . . ."
And with an effect of detachment, just as though it didn't belong to
the rest of him at all, there was beginning a sort of backstairs and
underside to Benham's life. There is no need to discuss how
inevitable that may or may not be in the case of a young man of
spirit and large means, nor to embark upon the discussion of the
temptations and opportunities of large cities. Several ladies, of
various positions and qualities, had reflected upon his manifest
need of education. There was in particular Mrs. Skelmersdale, a
very pretty little widow with hazel eyes, black hair, a mobile
mouth, and a pathetic history, who talked of old music to him and
took him to a Dolmetsch concert in Clifford's Inn, and expanded that
common interest to a general participation in his indefinite
outlook. She advised him about his probable politics--everybody did
that--but when he broke through his usual reserve and suggested
views of his own, she was extraordinarily sympathetic. She was so
sympathetic and in such a caressing way that she created a temporary
belief in her understanding, and it was quite imperceptibly that he
was drawn into the discussion of modern ethical problems. She
herself was a rather stimulating instance of modern ethical
problems. She told him something of her own story, and then their
common topics narrowed down very abruptly. He found he could help
her in several ways. There is, unhappily, a disposition on the part
of many people, who ought to know better, to regard a role played by
Joseph during his earlier days in Egypt as a ridiculous one. This
point of view became very inopportunely dominant in Benham's mind
when he was lunching TETE A TETE with Mrs. Skelmersdale at her
flat. . . .
The ensuing intimacy was of an entirely concealed and respectable
nature, but a certain increased preoccupation in his manner set Lady
Marayne thinking. He had as a matter of fact been taken by surprise.
Still he perceived that it is no excuse for a man that he has been
taken by surprise. Surprises in one's own conduct ought not to
happen. When they do happen then an aristocrat ought to stick to
what he had done. He was now in a subtle and complicated
relationship to Mrs. Skelmersdale, a relationship in which her pride
had become suddenly a matter of tremendous importance. Once he had
launched himself upon this affair, it was clear to him that he owed
it to her never to humiliate her. And to go back upon himself now
would be a tremendous humiliation for her. You see, he had helped
her a little financially. And she looked to him, she wanted him. . . .
She wasn't, he knew, altogether respectable. Indeed, poor dear, her
ethical problems, already a little worn, made her seem at times
anything but respectable. He had met her first one evening at Jimmy
Gluckstein's when he was forming his opinion of Art. Her manifest
want of interest in pictures had attracted him. And that had led to
music. And to the mention of a Clementi piano, that short, gentle,
sad, old, little sort of piano people will insist upon calling a
spinet, in her flat.
And so to this. . . .
It was very wonderful and delicious, this first indulgence of sense.
It was shabby and underhand.
The great god Pan is a glorious god. (And so was Swinburne.) And
what can compare with the warmth of blood and the sheen of sunlit
But Priapus. . . .
She was the most subtle, delightful and tender of created beings.
She had amazing streaks of vulgarity.
And some astonishing friends.
Once she had seemed to lead the talk deliberately to money matters.
She loved him and desired him. There was no doubt of it.
There was a curious effect about her as though when she went round
the corner she would become somebody else. And a curious recurrent
feeling that round the corner there was somebody else.
He had an extraordinary feeling that his mother knew about this
business. This feeling came from nothing in her words or acts, but
from some indefinable change in her eyes and bearing towards him.
But how could she know?
It was unlikely that she and Mrs. Skelmersdale would ever meet, and
it seemed to him that it would be a particularly offensive incident
for them to meet.
There were times now when life took on a grey and boring quality
such as it had never had before he met Mrs. Skelmersdale, and the
only remedy was to go to her. She could restore his nervous
tranquillity, his feeling of solidity and reality, his pride in
himself. For a time, that is.
Nevertheless his mind was as a whole pervaded by the feeling that he
ought not to have been taken by surprise.
And he had the clearest conviction in his mind that if now he could
be put back again to the day before that lunch. . . .
No! he should not have gone there to lunch.
He had gone there to see her Clementi piano.
Had he or had he not thought beforehand of any other possibility?
On a point so vital his memory was curiously unsure.
The worry and disorganization of Benham's life and thoughts
increased as the spring advanced. His need in some way to pull
things together became overpowering. He began to think of Billy
Prothero, more and more did it seem desirable to have a big talk
with Billy and place everything that had got disturbed. Benham
thought of going to Cambridge for a week of exhaustive evenings.
Small engagements delayed that expedition. . . .
Then came a day in April when all the world seemed wrong to Benham.
He was irritable; his will was unstable; whatever presented itself
to be done presented itself as undesirable; he could settle to
nothing. He had been keeping away from Mrs. Skelmersdale and in the
morning there came a little note from her designed to correct this
abstention. She understood the art of the attractive note. But he
would not decide to go to her. He left the note unanswered.
Then came his mother at the telephone and it became instantly
certain to Benham that he could not play the dutiful son that
evening. He answered her that he could not come to dinner. He had
engaged himself. "Where?"
"With some men."
There was a pause and then his mother's voice came, flattened by
disappointment. "Very well then, little Poff. Perhaps I shall see
He replaced the receiver and fretted back into his study, where the
notes on aristocracy lay upon his desk, the notes he had been
pretending to work over all the morning.
"Damned liar!" he said, and then, "Dirty liar!" He decided to lunch
at the club, and in the afternoon he was moved to telephone an
appointment with his siren. And having done that he was bound to
About one o'clock in the morning he found himself walking back to
Finacue Street. He was no longer a fretful conflict of nerves, but
if anything he was less happy than he had been before. It seemed to
him that London was a desolate and inglorious growth.
London ten years ago was much less nocturnal than it is now. And
not so brightly lit. Down the long streets came no traffic but an
occasional hansom. Here and there a cat halted or bolted in the
road. Near Piccadilly a policeman hovered artfully in a doorway,
and then came a few belated prostitutes waylaying the passers-by,
and a few youths and men, wearily lust driven.
As he turned up New Bond Street he saw a figure that struck him as
familiar. Surely!--it was Billy Prothero! Or at any rate it was
astonishingly like Billy Prothero. He glanced again and the
likeness was more doubtful. The man had his back to Benham, he was
halting and looking back at a woman.
By some queer flash of intuition it came to Benham that even if this
was not Prothero, still Prothero did these things. It might very
well be Prothero even, though, as he now saw, it wasn't. Everybody
did these things. . . .
It came into Benham's head for the first time that life could be
This Bond Street was a tiresome place; with its shops all shut and
muffled, its shops where in the crowded daytime one bought costly
furniture, costly clothes, costly scent, sweets, bibelots, pictures,
jewellery, presents of all sorts, clothes for Mrs. Skelmersdale,
sweets for Mrs. Skelmersdale, presents for Mrs. Skelmersdale, all
the elaborate fittings and equipage of--THAT!
"Good night, dear," a woman drifted by him.
"I've SAID good night," he cried, "I've SAID good night," and so
went on to his flat. The unquenchable demand, the wearisome
insatiability of sex! When everything else has gone, then it shows
itself bare in the bleak small hours. And at first it had seemed so
light a matter! He went to bed, feeling dog-tired, he went to bed
at an hour and with a finished completeness that Merkle would have
regarded as entirely becoming in a young gentleman of his position.
And a little past three o'clock in the morning he awoke to a mood of
indescribable desolation. He awoke with a start to an agony of
remorse and self-reproach.
For a time he lay quite still staring at the darkness, then he
groaned and turned over. Then, suddenly, like one who fancies he
hears a strange noise, he sat up in bed and listened. "Oh, God!" he
said at last.
And then: "Oh! The DIRTINESS of life! The dirty muddle of life!
"What are we doing with life? What are we all doing with life?
"It isn't only this poor Milly business. This only brings it to a
head. Of course she wants money. . . ."
His thoughts came on again.
"But the ugliness!
"Why did I begin it?"
He put his hands upon his knees and pressed his eyes against the
backs of his hands and so remained very still, a blankness beneath
his own question.
After a long interval his mind moved again.
And now it was as if he looked upon his whole existence, he seemed
to see in a large, clear, cold comprehensiveness, all the wasted
days, the fruitless activities, the futilities, the perpetual
postponements that had followed his coming to London. He saw it all
as a joyless indulgence, as a confusion of playthings and
undisciplined desires, as a succession of days that began amiably
and weakly, that became steadily more crowded with ignoble and
trivial occupations, that had sunken now to indignity and
uncleanness. He was overwhelmed by that persuasion, which only
freshly soiled youth can feel in its extreme intensity, that life
was slipping away from him, that the sands were running out, that in
a little while his existence would be irretrievably lost.
By some trick of the imagination he saw life as an interminable Bond
Street, lit up by night lamps, desolate, full of rubbish, full of
the very best rubbish, trappings, temptations, and down it all he
drove, as the damned drive, wearily, inexplicably.
WHAT ARE WE UP TO WITH LIFE! WHAT ARE WE MAKING OF LIFE!
But hadn't he intended to make something tremendous of life? Hadn't
he come to London trailing a glory? . . .
He began to remember it as a project. It was the project of a great
World-State sustained by an aristocracy of noble men. He was to
have been one of those men, too fine and far-reaching for the dull
manoeuvers of such politics as rule the world to-day. The project
seemed still large, still whitely noble, but now it was unlit and
dead, and in the foreground he sat in the flat of Mrs. Skelmersdale,
feeling dissipated and fumbling with his white tie. And she was
looking tired. "God!" he said. "How did I get there?"
And then suddenly he reached out his arms in the darkness and prayed
aloud to the silences.
"Oh, God! Give me back my visions! Give me back my visions!"
He could have imagined he heard a voice calling upon him to come out
into life, to escape from the body of this death. But it was his
own voice that called to him. . . .
The need for action became so urgent in him, that he got right out
of his bed and sat on the edge of it. Something had to be done at
once. He did not know what it was but he felt that there could be
no more sleep, no more rest, no dressing nor eating nor going forth
before he came to decisions. Christian before his pilgrimage began
was not more certain of this need of flight from the life of routine
What was to be done?
In the first place he must get away and think about it all, think
himself clear of all these--these immediacies, these associations
and relations and holds and habits. He must get back to his vision,
get back to the God in his vision. And to do that he must go alone.
He was clear he must go alone. It was useless to go to Prothero,
one weak man going to a weaker. Prothero he was convinced could
help him not at all, and the strange thing is that this conviction
had come to him and had established itself incontestably because of
that figure at the street corner, which had for just one moment
resembled Prothero. By some fantastic intuition Benham knew that
Prothero would not only participate but excuse. And he knew that he
himself could endure no excuses. He must cut clear of any
possibility of qualification. This thing had to be stopped. He
must get away, he must get free, he must get clean. In the
extravagance of his reaction Benham felt that he could endure
nothing but solitary places and to sleep under the open sky.
He wanted to get right away from London and everybody and lie in the
quiet darkness and stare up at the stars.
His plans grew so definite that presently he was in his dressing-
gown and turning out the maps in the lower drawer of his study
bureau. He would go down into Surrey with a knapsack, wander along
the North Downs until the Guildford gap was reached, strike across
the Weald country to the South Downs and then beat eastward. The
very thought of it brought a coolness to his mind. He knew that
over those southern hills one could be as lonely as in the
wilderness and as free to talk to God. And there he would settle
something. He would make a plan for his life and end this torment.
When Merkle came in to him in the morning he was fast asleep.
The familiar curtain rings awakened Benham. He turned his head
over, stared for a moment and then remembered.
"Merkle," he said, "I am going for a walking tour. I am going off
this morning. Haven't I a rucksack?"
"You 'ave a sort of canvas bag, sir, with pockets to it," said
Merkle. "Will you be needing the VERY 'eavy boots with 'obnails--
Swiss, I fancy, sir--or your ordinary shooting boots?"
"And when may I expect you back, sir?" asked Merkle as the moment
for departure drew near.
"God knows," said Benham, "I don't."
"Then will there be any address for forwarding letters, sir?"
Benham hadn't thought of that. For a moment he regarded Merkle's
scrupulous respect with a transient perplexity.
"I'll let you know, Merkle," he said. "I'll let you know."
For some days at least, notes, telephone messages, engagements, all
this fuss and clamour about nothing, should clamour for him in
vain. . . .
"But how closely," cried White, in a mood of cultivated enthusiasm;
"how closely must all the poor little stories that we tell to-day
follow in the footsteps of the Great Exemplars! A little while ago
and the springtime freshness of Tobias irradiated the page. Now
see! it is Christian--."
Indeed it looked extremely like Christian as Benham went up across
the springy turf from Epsom Downs station towards the crest of the
hill. Was he not also fleeing in the morning sunlight from the City
of Destruction? Was he not also seeking that better city whose name
is Peace? And there was a bundle on his back. It was the bundle, I
think, that seized most firmly upon the too literary imagination of
But the analogy of the bundle was a superficial one. Benham had not
the slightest desire to lose it from his shoulders. It would have
inconvenienced him very greatly if he had done so. It did not
contain his sins. Our sins nowadays are not so easily separated.
It contained a light, warm cape-coat he had bought in Switzerland
and which he intended to wrap about him when he slept under the
stars, and in addition Merkle had packed it with his silk pyjamas,
an extra pair of stockings, tooth-brush, brush and comb, a safety
razor. . . . And there were several sheets of the Ordnance map.
The urgency of getting away from something dominated Benham to the
exclusion of any thought of what he might be getting to. That
muddle of his London life had to be left behind. First, escape. . . .
Over the downs great numbers of larks were singing. It was warm
April that year and early. All the cloud stuff in the sky was
gathered into great towering slow-sailing masses, and the rest was
blue of the intensest. The air was so clean that Benham felt it
clean in the substance of his body. The chestnuts down the hill to
the right were flowering, the beeches were luminously green, and the
oaks in the valley foaming gold. And sometimes it was one lark
filled his ears, and sometimes he seemed to be hearing all the larks
for miles about him. Presently over the crest he would be out of
sight of the grand stand and the men exercising horses, and that
brace of red-jacketed golfers. . . .
What was he to do?
For a time he could think of nothing to do except to keep up and out
of the valley. His whole being seemed to have come to his surfaces
to look out at the budding of the year and hear the noise of the
birds. And then he got into a long road from which he had to
escape, and trespassing southward through plantations he reached the
steep edge of the hills and sat down over above a great chalk pit
somewhere near Dorking and surveyed all the tumbled wooded spaces of
the Weald. . . . It is after all not so great a country this
Sussex, nor so hilly, from deepest valley to highest crest is not
six hundred feet, yet what a greatness of effect it can achieve!
There is something in those downland views which, like sea views,
lifts a mind out to the skies. All England it seemed was there to
Benham's vision, and the purpose of the English, and his own purpose
in the world. For a long time he surveyed the large delicacy of the
detail before him, the crests, the tree-protected houses, the fields
and farmsteads, the distant gleams of water. And then he became
interested in the men who were working in the chalk pit down below.
They at any rate were not troubled with the problem of what to do
with their lives.
Benham found his mind was now running clear, and so abundantly that
he could scarcely, he felt, keep pace with it. As he thought his
flow of ideas was tinged with a fear that he might forget what he
was thinking. In an instant, for the first time in his mental
existence, he could have imagined he had discovered Labour and seen
it plain. A little while ago and he had seemed a lonely man among
the hills, but indeed he was not lonely, these men had been with him
all the time, and he was free to wander, to sit here, to think and
choose simply because those men down there were not free. HE WAS
SPENDING THEIR LEISURE. . . . Not once but many times with Prothero
had he used the phrase RICHESSE OBLIGE. Now he remembered it. He
began to remember a mass of ideas that had been overlaid and
stifling within him. This was what Merkle and the club servants and
the entertainments and engagements and his mother and the artistic
touts and the theatrical touts and the hunting and the elaboration
of games and--Mrs. Skelmersdale and all that had clustered thickly
round him in London had been hiding from him. Those men below there
had not been trusted to choose their work; they had been given it.
And he had been trusted. . . .
And now to grapple with it! Now to get it clear! What work was he
going to do? That settled, he would deal with his distractions
readily enough. Until that was settled he was lax and exposed to
every passing breeze of invitation.
"What work am I going to do? What work am I going to do?" He
It is the only question for the aristocrat. What amusement? That
for a footman on holiday. That for a silly child, for any creature
that is kept or led or driven. That perhaps for a tired invalid,
for a toiler worked to a rag. But able-bodied amusement! The arms
of Mrs. Skelmersdale were no worse than the solemn aimlessness of
hunting, and an evening of dalliance not an atom more reprehensible
than an evening of chatter. It was the waste of him that made the
sin. His life in London had been of a piece together. It was well
that his intrigue had set a light on it, put a point to it, given
him this saving crisis of the nerves. That, indeed, is the chief
superiority of idle love-making over other more prevalent forms of
idleness and self-indulgence; it does at least bear its proper
label. It is reprehensible. It brings your careless honour to the
challenge of concealment and shabby evasions and lies. . . .
But in this pellucid air things took their proper proportions again.
And now what was he to do?
"Politics," he said aloud to the turf and the sky.
Is there any other work for an aristocratic man? . . . Science?
One could admit science in that larger sense that sweeps in History,
or Philosophy. Beyond that whatever work there is is work for which
men are paid. Art? Art is nothing aristocratic except when it is a
means of scientific or philosophical expression. Art that does not
argue nor demonstrate nor discover is merely the craftsman's
He pulled up at this and reflected for a time with some
distinguished instances in his mind. They were so distinguished, so
dignified, they took their various arts with so admirable a gravity
that the soul of this young man recoiled from the verdicts to which
his reasoning drove him. "It's not for me to judge them," he
decided, "except in relation to myself. For them there may be
tremendous significances in Art. But if these do not appear to me,
then so far as I am concerned they do not exist for me. They are
not in my world. So far as they attempt to invade me and control my
attitudes or my outlook, or to judge me in any way, there is no
question of their impudence. Impudence is the word for it. My
world is real. I want to be really aristocratic, really brave,
really paying for the privilege of not being a driven worker. The
things the artist makes are like the things my private dream-artist
makes, relaxing, distracting. What can Art at its greatest be, pure
Art that is, but a more splendid, more permanent, transmissible
reverie! The very essence of what I am after is NOT to be an
artist. . . ."
After a large and serious movement through his mind he came back to
Science, Philosophy or Politics as the sole three justifications for
the usurpation of leisure.
So far as devotion to science went, he knew he had no specific
aptitude for any departmentalized subject, and equally he felt no
natural call to philosophy. He was left with politics. . . .
"Or else, why shouldn't I go down there and pick up a shovel and set
to work? To make leisure for my betters. . . ."
And now it was that he could take up the real trouble that more than
anything else had been keeping him ineffective and the prey of every
chance demand and temptation during the last ten months. He had not
been able to get himself into politics, and the reason why he had
not been able to do so was that he could not induce himself to fit
in. Statecraft was a remote and faded thing in the political life
of the time; politics was a choice of two sides in a game, and
either side he found equally unattractive. Since he had come down
from Cambridge the Tariff Reform people had gone far to capture the
Conservative party. There was little chance of a candidature for
him without an adhesion to that. And he could find nothing he could
imagine himself working for in the declarations of the Tariff Reform
people. He distrusted them, he disliked them. They took all the
light and pride out of imperialism, they reduced it to a shabby
conspiracy of the British and their colonies against foreign
industrialism. They were violent for armaments and hostile to
education. They could give him no assurance of any scheme of growth
and unification, and no guarantees against the manifest dangers of
economic disturbance and political corruption a tariff involves.
Imperialism without noble imaginations, it seemed to him, was simply
nationalism with megalomania. It was swaggering, it was greed, it
was German; its enthusiasm was forced, its nobility a vulgar lie.
No. And when he turned to the opposite party he found little that
was more attractive. They were prepared, it seemed, if they came
into office, to pull the legislature of the British Isles to pieces
in obedience to the Irish demand for Home Rule, and they were
totally unprepared with any scheme for doing this that had even a
chance of success. In the twenty years that had elapsed since
Gladstone's hasty and disastrous essay in political surgery they had
studied nothing, learnt nothing, produced no ideas whatever in the
matter. They had not had the time. They had just negotiated, like
the mere politicians they were, for the Nationalist vote. They
seemed to hope that by a marvel God would pacify Ulster. Lord
Dunraven, Plunkett, were voices crying in the wilderness. The sides
in the party game would as soon have heeded a poet. . . . But
unless Benham was prepared to subscribe either to Home Rule or
Tariff Reform there was no way whatever open to him into public
life. He had had some decisive conversations. He had no illusions
left upon that score. . . .
Here was the real barrier that had kept him inactive for ten months.
Here was the problem he had to solve. This was how he had been left
out of active things, a prey to distractions, excitements, idle
temptations--and Mrs. Skelmersdale.
Running away to shoot big game or explore wildernesses was no
remedy. That was just running away. Aristocrats do not run away.
What of his debt to those men down there in the quarry? What of his
debt to the unseen men in the mines away in the north? What of his
debt to the stokers on the liners, and to the clerks in the city?
He reiterated the cardinal article of his creed: The aristocrat is a
privileged man in order that he may be a public and political man.
But how is one to be a political man when one is not in politics?
Benham frowned at the Weald. His ideas were running thin.
He might hammer at politics from the outside. And then again how?
He would make a list of all the things that he might do. For
example he might write. He rested one hand on his knee and lifted
one finger and regarded it. COULD he write? There were one or two
men who ran papers and seemed to have a sort of independent
influence. Strachey, for example, with his SPECTATOR; Maxse, with
his NATIONAL REVIEW. But they were grown up, they had formed their
ideas. He had to learn first.
He lifted a second finger. How to learn? For it was learning that
he had to do.
When one comes down from Oxford or Cambridge one falls into the
mistake of thinking that learning is over and action must begin.
But until one perceives clearly just where one stands action is
How is one with no experience of affairs to get an experience of
affairs when the door of affairs is closed to one by one's own
convictions? Outside of affairs how can one escape being flimsy?
How can one escape becoming merely an intellectual like those wordy
Fabians, those writers, poseurs, and sham publicists whose wrangles
he had attended? And, moreover, there is danger in the leisure of
your intellectual. One cannot be always reading and thinking and
discussing and inquiring. . . . WOULD IT NOT BE BETTER AFTER ALL TO
MAKE A CONCESSION, SWALLOW HOME RULE OR TARIFF REFORM, AND SO AT
LEAST GET HIS HANDS ON THINGS?
And then in a little while the party conflict would swallow him up?
Still it would engage him, it would hold him. If, perhaps, he did
not let it swallow him up. If he worked with an eye open for
opportunities of self-assertion. . . .
The party game had not altogether swallowed "Mr. Arthur." . . .
But every one is not a Balfour. . . .
He reflected profoundly. On his left knee his left hand rested with
two fingers held up. By some rapid mental alchemy these fingers had
now become Home Rule and Tariff Reform. His right hand which had
hitherto taken no part in the controversy, had raised its index
finger by imperceptible degrees. It had been raised almost
subconsciously. And by still obscurer processes this finger had
become Mrs. Skelmersdale. He recognized her sudden reappearance
above the threshold of consciousness with mild surprise. He had
almost forgotten her share in these problems. He had supposed her
dismissed to an entirely subordinate position. . . .
Then he perceived that the workmen in the chalk pit far below had
knocked off and were engaged upon their midday meal. He understood
why his mind was no longer moving forward with any alacrity.
The question where he should eat arose abruptly and dismissed all
other problems from his mind. He unfolded a map. Here must be the
chalk pit, here was Dorking. That village was Brockham Green.
Should he go down to Dorking or this way over Box Hill to the little
inn at Burford Bridge. He would try the latter.
The April sunset found our young man talking to himself for greater
emphasis, and wandering along a turfy cart-track through a
wilderness mysteriously planted with great bushes of rhododendra on
the Downs above Shere. He had eaten a belated lunch at Burford
Bridge, he had got some tea at a little inn near a church with a
splendid yew tree, and for the rest of the time he had wandered and
thought. He had travelled perhaps a dozen or fifteen miles, and a
good way from his first meditations above the Dorking chalk pit.
He had recovered long ago from that remarkable conception of an
active if dishonest political career as a means of escaping Mrs.
Skelmersdale and all that Mrs. Skelmersdale symbolized. That would
be just louting from one bad thing to another. He had to settle
Mrs. Skelmersdale clean and right, and he had to do as exquisitely
right in politics as he could devise. If the public life of the
country had got itself into a stupid antagonism of two undesirable
things, the only course for a sane man of honour was to stand out
from the parties and try and get them back to sound issues again.
There must be endless people of a mind with himself in this matter.
And even if there were not, if he was the only man in the world, he
still had to follow his lights and do the right. And his business
was to find out the right. . . .
He came back from these imaginative excursions into contemporary
politics with one idea confirmed in his mind, an idea that had been
indeed already in his mind during his Cambridge days. This was the
idea of working out for himself, thoroughly and completely, a
political scheme, a theory of his work and duty in the world, a plan
of the world's future that should give a rule for his life. The
Research Magnificent was emerging. It was an alarmingly vast
proposal, but he could see no alternative but submission, a
plebeian's submission to the currents of life about him.
Little pictures began to flit before his imagination of the way in
which he might build up this tremendous inquiry. He would begin by
hunting up people, everybody who seemed to have ideas and promise
ideas he would get at. He would travel far--and exhaustively. He
would, so soon as the ideas seemed to indicate it, hunt out facts.
He would learn how the world was governed. He would learn how it
did its thinking. He would live sparingly. ("Not TOO sparingly,"
something interpolated.) He would work ten or twelve hours a day.
Such a course of investigation must pass almost of its own accord
into action and realization. He need not trouble now how it would
bring him into politics. Inevitably somewhere it would bring him
into politics. And he would travel. Almost at once he would
travel. It is the manifest duty of every young aristocrat to
travel. Here he was, ruling India. At any rate, passively, through
the mere fact of being English, he was ruling India. And he knew
nothing of India. He knew nothing indeed of Asia. So soon as he
returned to London his preparations for this travel must begin, he
must plot out the men to whom he would go, and so contrive that also
he would go round the world. Perhaps he would get Lionel Maxim to
go with him. Or if Maxim could not come, then possibly Prothero.
Some one surely could be found, some one thinking and talking of
statecraft and the larger idea of life. All the world is not
swallowed up in every day. . . .
His mind shifted very suddenly from these large proposals to an
entirely different theme. These mental landslips are not unusual
when men are thinking hard and wandering. He found himself holding
a trial upon himself for Presumptuousness, for setting himself up
against the wisdom of the ages, and the decisions of all the
established men in the world, for being in short a Presumptuous Sort
of Ass. He was judge and jury and prosecutor, but rather
inexplicably the defence was conducted in an irregular and
undignified way by some inferior stratum of his being.
At first the defence contented itself with arguments that did at
least aim to rebut the indictment. The decisions of all the
established men in the world were notoriously in conflict. However
great was the gross wisdom of the ages the net wisdom was remarkably
small. Was it after all so very immodest to believe that the
Liberals were right in what they said about Tariff Reform, and the
Tories right in their criticism of Home Rule?
And then suddenly the defence threw aside its mask and insisted that
Benham had to take this presumptuous line because there was no other
tolerable line possible for him.
"Better die with the Excelsior chap up the mountains," the defence
Consider the quality Benham had already betrayed. He was manifestly
incapable of a decent modest mediocre existence. Already he had
ceased to be--if one may use so fine a word for genteel abstinence--
virtuous. He didn't ride well, he hadn't good hands, and he hadn't
good hands for life. He must go hard and harsh, high or low. He
was a man who needed BITE in his life. He was exceptionally capable
of boredom. He had been bored by London. Social occasions
irritated him, several times he had come near to gross incivilities,
art annoyed him, sport was an effort, wholesome perhaps, but
unattractive, music he loved, but it excited him. The defendant
broke the sunset calm by uttering amazing and improper phrases.
"I can't smug about in a state of falsified righteousness like these
"I shall roll in women. I shall rollick in women. If, that is, I
stay in London with nothing more to do than I have had this year
"I've been sliding fast to it. . . .
"NO! I'M DAMNED IF I DO! . . ."
For some time he had been bothered by a sense of something,
something else, awaiting his attention. Now it came swimming up
into his consciousness. He had forgotten. He was, of course, going
to sleep out under the stars.
He had settled that overnight, that was why he had this cloak in his
rucksack, but he had settled none of the details. Now he must find
some place where he could lie down. Here, perhaps, in this strange
forgotten wilderness of rhododendra.
He turned off from the track and wandered among the bushes. One
might lie down anywhere here. But not yet; it was as yet barely
twilight. He consulted his watch. HALF-PAST SEVEN.
Nearly dinner-time. . . .
No doubt Christian during the earlier stages of his pilgrimage
noticed the recurrence of the old familiar hours of his life of
emptiness and vanity. Or rather of vanity--simply. Why drag in the
thought of emptiness just at this point? . . .
It was very early to go to bed.
He might perhaps sit and think for a time. Here for example was a
mossy bank, a seat, and presently a bed. So far there were only
three stars visible but more would come. He dropped into a
reclining attitude. DAMP!
When one thinks of sleeping out under the stars one is apt to forget
He spread his Swiss cloak out on the soft thick carpeting of herbs
and moss, and arranged his knapsack as a pillow. Here he would lie
and recapitulate the thoughts of the day. (That squealing might be
a young fox.) At the club at present men would be sitting about
holding themselves back from dinner. Excellent the clear soup
always was at the club! Then perhaps a Chateaubriand. That--what
was that? Soft and large and quite near and noiseless. An owl!
The damp feeling was coming through his cloak. And this April night
air had a knife edge. Early ice coming down the Atlantic perhaps.
It was wonderful to be here on the top of the round world and feel
the icebergs away there. Or did this wind come from Russia? He
wasn't quite clear just how he was oriented, he had turned about so
much. Which was east? Anyhow it was an extremely cold wind.
What had he been thinking? Suppose after all that ending with Mrs.
Skelmersdale was simply a beginning. So far he had never looked sex
in the face. . . .
He sat up and sneezed violently.
It would be ridiculous to start out seeking the clue to one's life
and be driven home by rheumatic fever. One should not therefore
incur the risk of rheumatic fever.
Something squealed in the bushes.
It was impossible to collect one's thoughts in this place. He stood
up. The night was going to be bitterly cold, savagely, cruelly
cold. . . .
No. There was no thinking to be done here, no thinking at all. He
would go on along the track and presently he would strike a road and
so come to an inn. One can solve no problems when one is engaged in
a struggle with the elements. The thing to do now was to find that
track again. . . .
It took Benham two hours of stumbling and walking, with a little
fence climbing and some barbed wire thrown in, before he got down
into Shere to the shelter of a friendly little inn. And then he
negotiated a satisfying meal, with beef-steak as its central fact,
and stipulated for a fire in his bedroom.
The landlord was a pleasant-faced man; he attended to Benham himself
and displayed a fine sense of comfort. He could produce wine, a
half-bottle of Australian hock, Big Tree brand No. 8, a virile
wine, he thought of sardines to precede the meal, he provided a
substantial Welsh rarebit by way of a savoury, he did not mind in
the least that it was nearly ten o'clock. He ended by suggesting
coffee. "And a liqueur?"
Benham had some Benedictine!
One could not slight such sympathetic helpfulness. The Benedictine
was genuine. And then came the coffee.
The cup of coffee was generously conceived and honestly made.
A night of clear melancholy ensued. . . .
Hitherto Benham had not faced in any detail the problem of how to
break with Mrs. Skelmersdale. Now he faced it pessimistically. She
would, he knew, be difficult to break with. (He ought never to have
gone there to lunch.) There would be something ridiculous in
breaking off. In all sorts of ways she might resist. And face to
face with her he might find himself a man divided against himself.
That opened preposterous possibilities. On the other hand it was
out of the question to do the business by letter. A letter hits too
hard; it lies too heavy on the wound it has made. And in money
matters he could be generous. He must be generous. At least
financial worries need not complicate her distresses of desertion.
But to suggest such generosities on paper, in cold ink, would be
outrageous. And, in brief--he ought not to have gone there to
lunch. After that he began composing letters at a great rate.
Delicate--explanatory. Was it on the whole best to be
explanatory? . . .
It was going to be a tremendous job, this breaking with her. And it
had begun so easily. . . .
There was, he remembered with amazing vividness, a little hollow he
had found under her ear, and how when he kissed her there it always
made her forget her worries and ethical problems for a time and turn
to him. . . .
"No," he said grimly, "it must end," and rolled over and stared at
the black. . . .
Like an insidious pedlar, that old rascal whom young literary
gentlemen call the Great God Pan, began to spread his wares in the
young man's memory. . . .
After long and feverish wanderings of the mind, and some talking to
himself and walking about the room, he did at last get a little away
from Mrs. Skelmersdale.
He perceived that when he came to tell his mother about this journey
around the world there would be great difficulties. She would
object very strongly, and if that did not do then she would become
extremely abusive, compare him to his father, cry bitterly, and
banish him suddenly and heartbrokenly from her presence for ever.
She had done that twice already--once about going to the opera
instead of listening to a lecture on Indian ethnology and once about
a week-end in Kent. . . . He hated hurting his mother, and he was
beginning to know now how easily she was hurt. It is an abominable
thing to hurt one's mother--whether one has a justification or
whether one hasn't.
Recoiling from this, he was at once resumed by Mrs. Skelmersdale.
Who had in fact an effect of really never having been out of the
room. But now he became penitent about her. His penitence expanded
until it was on a nightmare scale. At last it blotted out the
heavens. He felt like one of those unfortunate victims of religious
mania who are convinced they have committed the Sin against the Holy
Ghost. (Why had he gone there to lunch? That was the key to it.
WHY had he gone there to lunch?) . . . He began to have remorse for
everything, for everything he had ever done, for everything he had
ever not done, for everything in the world. In a moment of lucidity
he even had remorse for drinking that stout honest cup of black
coffee. . . .
And so on and so on and so on. . . .
When daylight came it found Benham still wide awake. Things crept
mournfully out of the darkness into a reproachful clearness. The
sound of birds that had been so delightful on the yesterday was now
no longer agreeable. The thrushes, he thought, repeated themselves
a great deal.
He fell asleep as it seemed only a few minutes before the landlord,
accompanied by a great smell of frying bacon, came to call him.
The second day opened rather dully for Benham. There was not an
idea left in his head about anything in the world. It was--SOLID.
He walked through Bramley and Godalming and Witley and so came out
upon the purple waste of Hindhead. He strayed away from the road
and found a sunny place of turf amidst the heather and lay down and
slept for an hour or so. He arose refreshed. He got some food at
the Huts Inn on the Hindhead crest and went on across sunlit
heathery wildernesses variegated by patches of spruce and fir and
silver birch. And then suddenly his mental inanition was at an end
and his thoughts were wide and brave again. He was astonished that
for a moment he could have forgotten that he was vowed to the
"Continence by preoccupation;" he tried the phrase. . . .
"A man must not give in to fear; neither must he give in to sex.
It's the same thing really. The misleading of instinct."
This set the key of his thought throughout the afternoon--until
Amanda happened to him.
CHAPTER THE THIRD
Amanda happened to Benham very suddenly.
From Haslemere he had gone on to further heaths and gorse beyond
Liphook, and thence he had wandered into a pretty district beset
with Hartings. He had found himself upon a sandy ridge looking very
beautifully into a sudden steep valley that he learnt was Harting
Coombe; he had been through a West Harting and a South Harting and
read finger-posts pointing to others of the clan; and in the
evening, at the foot of a steep hill where two roads met, he sat
down to consider whether he should go back and spend the night in
one of the two kindly-looking inns of the latter place or push on
over the South Downs towards the unknown luck of Singleton or
Chichester. As he sat down two big retrievers, black and brown,
came headlong down the road. The black carried a stick, the brown
disputed and pursued. As they came abreast of him the foremost a
little relaxed his hold, the pursuer grabbed at it, and in an
instant the rivalry had flared to rage and a first-class dogfight
was in progress.
Benham detested dog-fights. He stood up, pale and distressed. "Lie
down!" he cried. "Shut up, you brutes!" and was at a loss for
Then it was Amanda leapt into his world, a light, tall figure of a
girl, fluttering a short petticoat. Hatless she was, brown,
flushed, and her dark hair tossing loose, and in a moment she had
the snarling furious dogs apart, each gripped firmly by its collar.
Then with a wriggle black was loose and had closed again. Inspired
by the best traditions of chivalry Benham came to her assistance.
He was not expert with dogs. He grasped the black dog under its
ear. He was bitten in the wrist, rather in excitement than malice,
and with a certain excess of zeal he was strangling the brute before
you could count ten.
Amanda seized the fallen stick and whacked the dog she held,
reasonably but effectively until its yelps satisfied her. "There!"
she said pitching her victim from her, and stood erect again. She
surveyed the proceedings of her helper for the first time.
"You needn't," she said, "choke Sultan anymore."
"Ugh!" she said, as though that was enough for Sultan. And peace
"I'm obliged to you. But-- . . . I say! He didn't bite you, did
he? Oh, SULTAN!"
Sultan tried to express his disgust at the affair. Rotten business.
When a fellow is fighting one can't be meticulous. And if people
come interfering. Still--SORRY! So Sultan by his code of eye and
"May I see? . . . Something ought to be done to this. . . ."
She took his wrist in her hand, and her cheek and eyelashes came
within a foot of his face.
Some observant element in his composition guessed, and guessed quite
accurately, that she was nineteen. . . .
She had an eyebrow like a quick stroke of a camel's-hair brush, she
had a glowing face, half childish imp, half woman, she had honest
hazel eyes, a voice all music, a manifest decision of character.
And he must have this bite seen to at once. She lived not five
minutes away. He must come with her.
She had an aunt who behaved like a mother and a mother who behaved
like a genteel visitor, and they both agreed with Amanda that
although Mr. Walter Long and his dreadful muzzles and everything did
seem to have stamped out rabies, yet you couldn't be too careful
with a dog bite. A dog bite might be injurious in all sorts of
ways--particularly Sultan's bite. He was, they had to confess, a
dog without refinement, a coarse-minded omnivorous dog. Both the
elder ladies insisted upon regarding Benham's wound as clear
evidence of some gallant rescue of Amanda from imminent danger--
"she's always so RECKLESS with those dogs," as though Amanda was not
manifestly capable of taking care of herself; and when he had been
Listerined and bandaged, they would have it that he should join them
at their supper-dinner, which was already prepared and waiting.
They treated him as if he were still an undergraduate, they took his
arrangements in hand as though he was a favourite nephew. He must
stay in Harting that night. Both the Ship and the Coach and Horses
were excellent inns, and over the Downs there would be nothing for
miles and miles. . . .
The house was a little long house with a verandah and a garden in
front of it with flint-edged paths; the room in which they sat and
ate was long and low and equipped with pieces of misfitting good
furniture, an accidental-looking gilt tarnished mirror, and a
sprinkling of old and middle-aged books. Some one had lit a fire,
which cracked and spurted about cheerfully in a motherly fireplace,
and a lamp and some candles got lit. Mrs. Wilder, Amanda's aunt, a
comfortable dark broad-browed woman, directed things, and sat at the
end of the table and placed Benham on her right hand between herself
and Amanda. Amanda's mother remained undeveloped, a watchful little
woman with at least an eyebrow like her daughter's. Her name, it
seemed, was Morris. No servant appeared, but two cousins of a vague
dark picturesqueness and with a stamp of thirty upon them, the first
young women Benham had ever seen dressed in djibbahs, sat at the
table or moved about and attended to the simple needs of the
service. The reconciled dogs were in the room and shifted inquiring
noses from one human being to another.
Amanda's people were so easy and intelligent and friendly, and
Benham after his thirty hours of silence so freshly ready for human
association, that in a very little while he could have imagined he
had known and trusted this household for years. He had never met
such people before, and yet there was something about them that
seemed familiar--and then it occurred to him that something of their
easy-going freedom was to be found in Russian novels. A
photographic enlargement of somebody with a vegetarian expression of
face and a special kind of slouch hat gave the atmosphere a flavour
of Socialism, and a press and tools and stamps and pigments on an
oak table in the corner suggested some such socialistic art as
bookbinding. They were clearly 'advanced' people. And Amanda was
tremendously important to them, she was their light, their pride,
their most living thing. They focussed on her. When he talked to
them all in general he talked to her in particular. He felt that
some introduction of himself was due to these welcoming people. He
tried to give it mixed with an itinerary and a sketch of his
experiences. He praised the heather country and Harting Coombe and
the Hartings. He told them that London had suddenly become
intolerable--"In the spring sunshine."
"You live in London?" said Mrs. Wilder.
Yes. And he had wanted to think things out. In London one could do
"Here we do nothing else," said Amanda.
"Except dog-fights," said the elder cousin.
"I thought I would just wander and think and sleep in the open air.
Have you ever tried to sleep in the open air?"
"In the summer we all do," said the younger cousin. "Amanda makes
us. We go out on to the little lawn at the back."
"You see Amanda has some friends at Limpsfield. And there they all
go out and camp and sleep in the woods."
"Of course," reflected Mrs. Wilder, "in April it must be different."
"It IS different," said Benham with feeling; "the night comes five
hours too soon. And it comes wet." He described his experiences
and his flight to Shere and the kindly landlord and the cup of
coffee. "And after that I thought with a vengeance."
"Do you write things?" asked Amanda abruptly, and it seemed to him
with a note of hope.
"No. No, it was just a private puzzle. It was something I couldn't
"And you have got it straight?" asked Amanda.
"I think so."
"You were making up your mind about something?"
"Amanda DEAR!" cried her mother.
"Oh! I don't mind telling you," said Benham.
They seemed such unusual people that he was moved to unusual
confidences. They had that effect one gets at times with strangers
freshly met as though they were not really in the world. And there
was something about Amanda that made him want to explain himself to
"What I wanted to think about was what I should do with my life."
"Haven't you any WORK--?" asked the elder cousin.
"None that I'm obliged to do."
"That's where a man has the advantage," said Amanda with the tone of
profound reflection. "You can choose. And what are you going to do
with your life?"
"Amanda," her mother protested, "really you mustn't!"
"I'm going round the world to think about it," Benham told her.
"I'd give my soul to travel," said Amanda.
She addressed her remark to the salad in front of her.
"But have you no ties?" asked Mrs. Wilder.
"None that hold me," said Benham. "I'm one of those unfortunates
who needn't do anything at all. I'm independent. You see my
riddles. East and west and north and south, it's all my way for the
taking. There's not an indication."
"If I were you," said Amanda, and reflected. Then she half turned
herself to him. "I should go first to India," she said, "and I
should shoot, one, two, three, yes, three tigers. And then I would
see Farukhabad Sikri--I was reading in a book about it yesterday--
where the jungle grows in the palaces; and then I would go right up
the Himalayas, and then, then I would have a walking tour in Japan,
and then I would sail in a sailing ship down to Borneo and Java and
set myself up as a Ranee-- . . . And then I would think what I
would do next."
"All alone, Amanda?" asked Mrs. Wilder.
"Only when I shoot tigers. You and mother should certainly come to
"But Mr. Benham perhaps doesn't intend to shoot tigers, Amanda?"
said Amanda's mother.
"Not at once. My way will be a little different. I think I shall
go first through Germany. And then down to Constantinople. And
then I've some idea of getting across Asia Minor and Persia to
India. That would take some time. One must ride."
"Asia Minor ought to be fun," said Amanda. "But I should prefer
India because of the tigers. It would be so jolly to begin with the
tigers right away."
"It is the towns and governments and peoples I want to see rather
than tigers," said Benham. "Tigers if they are in the programme.
But I want to find out about--other things."
"Don't you think there's something to be found out at home?" said
the elder cousin, blushing very brightly and speaking with the
effort of one who speaks for conscience' sake.
"Betty's a Socialist," Amanda said to Benham with a suspicion of
"Well, we're all rather that," Mrs. Wilder protested.
"If you are free, if you are independent, then don't you owe
something to the workers?" Betty went on, getting graver and redder
with each word.
"It's just because of that," said Benham, "that I am going round the
He was as free with these odd people as if he had been talking to
Prothero. They were--alert. And he had been alone and silent and
full of thinking for two clear days. He tried to explain why he
found Socialism at once obvious and inadequate. . . .
Presently the supper things got themselves put away and the talk
moved into a smaller room with several armchairs and a fire. Mrs.
Wilder and the cousins and Amanda each smoked a cigarette as if it
were symbolical, and they were joined by a grave grey-bearded man
with a hyphenated name and slightly Socratic manner, dressed in a
very blue linen shirt and collar, a very woolly mustard-coloured
suit and loose tie, and manifestly devoted to one of those branches
of exemplary domestic decoration that grow upon Socialist soil in
England. He joined Betty in the opinion that the duty of a free and
wealthy young man was to remain in England and give himself to
democratic Socialism and the abolition of "profiteering." "Consider
that chair," he said. But Benham had little feeling for the
craftsmanship of chairs.
Under cross-examination Mr. Rathbone-Sanders became entangled and
prophetic. It was evident he had never thought out his
"democratic," he had rested in some vague tangle of idealism from
which Benham now set himself with the zeal of a specialist to rout
him. Such an argument sprang up as one meets with rarely beyond the
happy undergraduate's range. Everybody lived in the discussion,
even Amanda's mother listened visibly. Betty said she herself was
certainly democratic and Mrs. Wilder had always thought herself to
be so, and outside the circle round the fire Amanda hovered
impatiently, not quite sure of her side as yet, but eager to come
down with emphasis at the first flash of intimation.
She came down vehemently on Benham's.
And being a very clear-cutting personality with an instinct for the
material rendering of things, she also came and sat beside him on
the little square-cornered sofa.
"Of course, Mr. Rathbone-Sanders," she said, "of course the world
must belong to the people who dare. Of course people aren't all
alike, and dull people, as Mr. Benham says, and spiteful people, and
narrow people have no right to any voice at all in things. . . ."
In saying this she did but echo Benham's very words, and all she
said and did that evening was in quick response to Benham's earnest
expression of his views. She found Benham a delightful novelty.
She liked to argue because there was no other talk so lively, and
she had perhaps a lurking intellectual grudge against Mr. Rathbone-
Sanders that made her welcome an ally. Everything from her that
night that even verges upon the notable has been told, and yet it
sufficed, together with something in the clear, long line of her
limbs, in her voice, in her general physical quality, to convince
Benham that she was the freest, finest, bravest spirit that he had
In the papers he left behind him was to be found his perplexed
endeavours to explain this mental leap, that after all his efforts
still remained unexplained. He had been vividly impressed by the
decision and courage of her treatment of the dogs; it was just the
sort of thing he could not do. And there was a certain
contagiousness in the petting admiration with which her family
treated her. But she was young and healthy and so was he, and in a
second mystery lies the key of the first. He had fallen in love
with her, and that being so whatever he needed that instantly she
was. He needed a companion, clean and brave and understanding. . . .
In his bed in the Ship that night he thought of nothing but her
before he went to sleep, and when next morning he walked on his way
over the South Downs to Chichester his mind was full of her image
and of a hundred pleasant things about her. In his confessions he
wrote, "I felt there was a sword in her spirit. I felt she was as
clean as the wind."
Love is the most chastening of powers, and he did not even remember
now that two days before he had told the wind and the twilight that
he would certainly "roll and rollick in women" unless there was work
for him to do. She had a peculiarly swift and easy stride that went
with him in his thoughts along the turf by the wayside halfway and
more to Chichester. He thought always of the two of them as being
side by side. His imagination became childishly romantic. The open
down about him with its scrub of thorn and yew became the wilderness
of the world, and through it they went--in armour, weightless
armour--and they wore long swords. There was a breeze blowing and
larks were singing and something, something dark and tortuous dashed
suddenly in headlong flight from before their feet. It was an
ethical problem such as those Mrs. Skelmersdale nursed in her bosom.
But at the sight of Amanda it had straightened out--and fled. . . .
And interweaving with such imaginings, he was some day to record,
there were others. She had brought back to his memory the fancies
that had been aroused in his first reading of Plato's REPUBLIC; she
made him think of those women Guardians, who were the friends and
mates of men. He wanted now to re-read that book and the LAWS. He
could not remember if the Guardians were done in the LAWS as well as
in the REPUBLIC. He wished he had both these books in his rucksack,
but as he had not, he decided he would hunt for them in Chichester.
When would he see Amanda again? He would ask his mother to make the
acquaintance of these very interesting people, but as they did not
come to London very much it might be some time before he had a
chance of seeing her again. And, besides, he was going to America
and India. The prospect of an exploration of the world was still
noble and attractive; but he realized it would stand very much in
the way of his seeing more of Amanda. Would it be a startling and
unforgivable thing if presently he began to write to her? Girls of
that age and spirit living in out-of-the-way villages have been
known to marry. . . .
Marriage didn't at this stage strike Benham as an agreeable aspect
of Amanda's possibilities; it was an inconvenience; his mind was
running in the direction of pedestrian tours in armour of no
particular weight, amidst scenery of a romantic wildness. . . .
When he had gone to the house and taken his leave that morning it
had seemed quite in the vein of the establishment that he should be
received by Amanda alone and taken up the long garden before anybody
else appeared, to see the daffodils and the early apple-trees in
blossom and the pear-trees white and delicious.
Then he had taken his leave of them all and made his social
tentatives. Did they ever come to London? When they did they must
let his people know. He would so like them to know his mother, Lady
Marayne. And so on with much gratitude.
Amanda had said that she and the dogs would come with him up the
hill, she had said it exactly as a boy might have said it, she had
brought him up to the corner of Up Park and had sat down there on a
heap of stones and watched him until he was out of sight, waving to
him when he looked back. "Come back again," she had cried.
In Chichester he found a little green-bound REPUBLIC in a second-
hand book-shop near the Cathedral, but there was no copy of the LAWS
to be found in the place. Then he was taken with the brilliant idea
of sleeping the night in Chichester and going back next day via
Harting to Petersfield station and London. He carried out this
scheme and got to South Harting neatly about four o'clock in the
afternoon. He found Mrs. Wilder and Mrs. Morris and Amanda and the
dogs entertaining Mr. Rathbone-Sanders at tea, and they all seemed a
little surprised, and, except Mr. Rathbone-Sanders, they all seemed
pleased to see him again so soon. His explanation of why he hadn't
gone back to London from Chichester struck him as a little
unconvincing in the cold light of Mr. Rathbone-Sanders' eye. But
Amanda was manifestly excited by his return, and he told them his
impressions of Chichester and described the entertainment of the
evening guest at a country inn and suddenly produced his copy of the
REPUBLIC. "I found this in a book-shop," he said, "and I brought it
for you, because it describes one of the best dreams of aristocracy
there has ever been dreamt."
At first she praised it as a pretty book in the dearest little
binding, and then realized that there were deeper implications, and
became grave and said she would read it through and through, she
loved such speculative reading.
She came to the door with the others and stayed at the door after
they had gone in again. When he looked back at the corner of the
road to Petersfield she was still at the door and waved farewell to
He only saw a light slender figure, but when she came back into the
sitting-room Mr. Rathbone-Sanders noted the faint flush in her cheek
and an unwonted abstraction in her eye.
And in the evening she tucked her feet up in the armchair by the
lamp and read the REPUBLIC very intently and very thoughtfully,
occasionally turning over a page.
When Benham got back to London he experienced an unwonted desire to
perform his social obligations to the utmost.
So soon as he had had some dinner at his club he wrote his South
Harting friends a most agreeable letter of thanks for their kindness
to him. In a little while he hoped he should see them again. His
mother, too, was most desirous to meet them. . . . That done, he
went on to his flat and to various aspects of life for which he was
But here we may note that Amanda answered him. Her reply came some
four days later. It was written in a square schoolgirl hand, it
covered three sheets of notepaper, and it was a very intelligent
essay upon the REPUBLIC of Plato. "Of course," she wrote, "the
Guardians are inhuman, but it was a glorious sort of inhumanity.
They had a spirit--like sharp knives cutting through life."
It was her best bit of phrasing and it pleased Benham very much.
But, indeed, it was not her own phrasing, she had culled it from a
disquisition into which she had led Mr. Rathbone-Sanders, and she
had sent it to Benham as she might have sent him a flower.
Benham re-entered the flat from which he had fled so precipitately
with three very definite plans in his mind. The first was to set
out upon his grand tour of the world with as little delay as
possible, to shut up this Finacue Street establishment for a long
time, and get rid of the soul-destroying perfections of Merkle. The
second was to end his ill-advised intimacy with little Mrs.
Skelmersdale as generously and cheerfully as possible. The third
was to bring Lady Marayne into social relations with the Wilder and
Morris MENAGE at South Harting. It did not strike him that there
was any incompatibility among these projects or any insurmountable
difficulty in any of them until he was back in his flat.
The accumulation of letters, packages and telephone memoranda upon
his desk included a number of notes and slips to remind him that
both Mrs. Skelmersdale and his mother were ladies of some
determination. Even as he stood turning over the pile of documents
the mechanical vehemence of the telephone filled him with a restored
sense of the adverse will in things. "Yes, mam," he heard Merkle's
voice, "yes, mam. I will tell him, mam. Will you keep possession,
mam." And then in the doorway of the study, "Mrs. Skelmersdale,
sir. Upon the telephone, sir."
Benham reflected with various notes in his hand. Then he went to
"You Wicked Boy, where have you been hiding?"
"I've been away. I may have to go away again."
"Not before you have seen me. Come round and tell me all about it."
Benham lied about an engagement.
"Then to-morrow in the morning." . . . Impossible.
"In the afternoon. You don't WANT to see me." Benham did want to
"Come round and have a jolly little evening to-morrow night. I've
got some more of that harpsichord music. And I'm dying to see you.
Don't you understand?"
Further lies. "Look here," said Benham, "can you come and have a
talk in Kensington Gardens? You know the place, near that Chinese
garden. Paddington Gate. . . ."
The lady's voice fell to flatness. She agreed. "But why not come
to see me HERE?" she asked.
Benham hung up the receiver abruptly.
He walked slowly back to his study. "Phew!" he whispered to
himself. It was like hitting her in the face. He didn't want to be
a brute, but short of being a brute there was no way out for him
from this entanglement. Why, oh! why the devil had he gone there to
lunch? . . .
He resumed his examination of the waiting letters with a ruffled
mind. The most urgent thing about them was the clear evidence of
gathering anger on the part of his mother. He had missed a lunch
party at Sir Godfrey's on Tuesday and a dinner engagement at Philip
Magnet's, quite an important dinner in its way, with various
promising young Liberals, on Wednesday evening. And she was furious
at "this stupid mystery. Of course you're bound to be found out,
and of course there will be a scandal." . . . He perceived that
this last note was written on his own paper. "Merkle!" he cried
Merkle had been just outside, on call.
"Did my mother write any of these notes here?" he asked.
"Two, sir. Her ladyship was round here three times, sir."
"Did she see all these letters?"
"Not the telephone calls, sir. I 'ad put them on one side.
But. . . . It's a little thing, sir."
He paused and came a step nearer. "You see, sir," he explained with
the faintest flavour of the confidential softening his mechanical
respect, "yesterday, when 'er ladyship was 'ere, sir, some one rang
up on the telephone--"
"But you, Merkle--"
"Exactly, sir. But 'er ladyship said 'I'LL go to that, Merkle,' and
just for a moment I couldn't exactly think 'ow I could manage it,
sir, and there 'er ladyship was, at the telephone. What passed,
sir, I couldn't 'ear. I 'eard her say, 'Any message?' And I FANCY,
sir, I 'eard 'er say, 'I'm the 'ousemaid,' but that, sir, I think
must have been a mistake, sir."
"Must have been," said Benham. "Certainly--must have been. And the
call you think came from--?"
"There again, sir, I'm quite in the dark. But of course, sir, it's
usually Mrs. Skelmersdale, sir. Just about her time in the
afternoon. On an average, sir. . . ."
"I went out of London to think about my life."
It was manifest that Lady Marayne did not believe him.
"Alone?" she asked.
"Of course alone."
"STUFF!" said Lady Marayne.
She had taken him into her own little sitting-room, she had thrown
aside gloves and fan and theatre wrap, curled herself comfortably
into the abundantly cushioned corner by the fire, and proceeded to a
mixture of cross-examination and tirade that he found it difficult
to make head against. She was vibrating between distressed
solicitude and resentful anger. She was infuriated at his going
away and deeply concerned at what could have taken him away. "I was
worried," he said. "London is too crowded to think in. I wanted to
get myself alone."
"And there I was while you were getting yourself alone, as you call
it, wearing my poor little brains out to think of some story to tell
people. I had to stuff them up you had a sprained knee at
Chexington, and for all I knew any of them might have been seeing
you that morning. Besides what has a boy like you to worry about?
It's all nonsense, Poff."
She awaited his explanations. Benham looked for a moment like his
"I'm not getting on, mother," he said. "I'm scattering myself. I'm
getting no grip. I want to get a better hold upon life, or else I
do not see what is to keep me from going to pieces--and wasting
existence. It's rather difficult sometimes to tell what one thinks
She had not really listened to him.
"Who is that woman," she interrupted suddenly, "Mrs. Fly-by-Night,
or some such name, who rings you up on the telephone?"
Benham hesitated, blushed, and regretted it.
"Mrs. Skelmersdale," he said after a little pause.
"It's all the same. Who is she?"
"She's a woman I met at a studio somewhere, and I went with her to
one of those Dolmetsch concerts."
Lady Marayne considered him in silence for a little while. "All
men," she said at last, "are alike. Husbands, sons and brothers,
they are all alike. Sons! One expects them to be different. They
aren't different. Why should they be? I suppose I ought to be
shocked, Poff. But I'm not. She seems to be very fond of you."
"She's--she's very good--in her way. She's had a difficult life. . . ."
"You can't leave a man about for a moment," Lady Marayne reflected.
"Poff, I wish you'd fetch me a glass of water."
When he returned she was looking very fixedly into the fire. "Put
it down," she said, "anywhere. Poff! is this Mrs. Helter-Skelter a
discreet sort of woman? Do you like her?" She asked a few
additional particulars and Benham made his grudging admission of
facts. "What I still don't understand, Poff, is why you have been
"I went away," said Benham, "because I want to clear things up."
"But why? Is there some one else?"
"You went alone? All the time?"
"I've told you I went alone. Do you think I tell you lies, mother?"
"Everybody tells lies somehow," said Lady Marayne. "Easy lies or
stiff ones. Don't FLOURISH, Poff. Don't start saying things like a
moral windmill in a whirlwind. It's all a muddle. I suppose every
one in London is getting in or out of these entanglements--or
something of the sort. And this seems a comparatively slight one.
I wish it hadn't happened. They do happen."
An expression of perplexity came into her face. She looked at him.
"Why do you want to throw her over?"
"I WANT to throw her over," said Benham.
He stood up and went to the hearthrug, and his mother reflected that
this was exactly what all men did at just this phase of a
discussion. Then things ceased to be sensible.
From overhead he said to her: "I want to get away from this
complication, this servitude. I want to do some--some work. I want
to get my mind clear and my hands clear. I want to study government
and the big business of the world."
"And she's in the way?"
"You men!" said Lady Marayne after a little pause. "What queer
beasts you are! Here is a woman who is kind to you. She's fond of
you. I could tell she's fond of you directly I heard her. And you
amuse yourself with her. And then it's Gobble, Gobble, Gobble,
Great Work, Hands Clear, Big Business of the World. Why couldn't
you think of that before, Poff? Why did you begin with her?"
"It was unexpected. . . ."
"STUFF!" said Lady Marayne for a second time. "Well," she said,
"well. Your Mrs. Fly-by-Night,--oh it doesn't matter!--whatever she
calls herself, must look after herself. I can't do anything for
her. I'm not supposed even to know about her. I daresay she'll
find her consolations. I suppose you want to go out of London and
get away from it all. I can help you there, perhaps. I'm tired of
London too. It's been a tiresome season. Oh! tiresome and
disappointing! I want to go over to Ireland and travel about a
little. The Pothercareys want us to come. They've asked us
twice. . . ."
Benham braced himself to face fresh difficulties. It was amazing
how different the world could look from his mother's little parlour
and from the crest of the North Downs.
"But I want to start round the world," he cried with a note of acute
distress. "I want to go to Egypt and India and see what is
happening in the East, all this wonderful waking up of the East, I
know nothing of the way the world is going-- . . ."
"India!" cried Lady Marayne. "The East. Poff, what is the MATTER
with you? Has something happened--something else? Have you been
having a love affair? --a REAL love affair?"
"Oh, DAMN love affairs!" cried Benham. "Mother!--I'm sorry, mother!
But don't you see there's other things in the world for a man than
having a good time and making love. I'm for something else than
that. You've given me the splendidest time-- . . ."
"I see," cried Lady Marayne, "I see. I've bored you. I might have
known I should have bored you."
"You've NOT bored me!" cried Benham.
He threw himself on the rug at her feet. "Oh, mother!" he said,
"little, dear, gallant mother, don't make life too hard for me.
I've got to do my job, I've got to find my job."
"I've bored you," she wept.
Suddenly she was weeping with all the unconcealed distressing grief
of a disappointed child. She put her pretty be-ringed little hands
in front of her face and recited the accumulation of her woes.
"I've done all I can for you, planned for you, given all my time for
you and I've BORED you."
"Don't come near me, Poff! Don't TOUCH me! All my plans. All my
ambitions. Friends--every one. You don't know all I've given up
for you. . . ."
He had never seen his mother weep before. Her self-abandonment
amazed him. Her words were distorted by her tears. It was the most
terrible and distressing of crises. . . .
"Go away from me! How can you help me? All I've done has been a
failure! Failure! Failure!"
That night the silences of Finacue Street heard Benham's voice
again. "I must do my job," he was repeating, "I must do my job.
Anyhow. . . ."
And then after a long pause, like a watchword and just a little
unsurely: "Aristocracy. . . ."
The next day his resolution had to bear the brunt of a second
ordeal. Mrs. Skelmersdale behaved beautifully and this made
everything tormentingly touching and difficult. She convinced him
she was really in love with him, and indeed if he could have seen
his freshness and simplicity through her experienced eyes he would
have known there was sound reason why she should have found him
exceptional. And when his clumsy hints of compensation could no
longer be ignored she treated him with a soft indignation, a tender
resentment, that left him soft and tender. She looked at him with
pained eyes and a quiver of the lips. What did he think she was?
And then a little less credibly, did he think she would have given
herself to him if she hadn't been in love with him? Perhaps that
was not altogether true, but at any rate it was altogether true to
her when she said it, and it was manifest that she did not for a
moment intend him to have the cheap consolation of giving her money.
But, and that seemed odd to Benham, she would not believe, just as
Lady Marayne would not believe, that there was not some other woman
in the case. He assured her and she seemed reassured, and then
presently she was back at exactly the same question. Would no woman
ever understand the call of Asia, the pride of duty, the desire for
One sort of woman perhaps. . . .
It was odd that for the first time now, in the sunshine of
Kensington Gardens, he saw the little gossamer lines that tell that
thirty years and more have passed over a face, a little wrinkling of
the eyelids, a little hardening of the mouth. How slight it is, how
invisible it has been, how suddenly it appears! And the sunshine of
the warm April afternoon, heightened it may be by her determined
unmercenary pose, betrayed too the faintest hint of shabbiness in
her dress. He had never noticed these shadows upon her or her
setting before and their effect was to fill him with a strange
regretful tenderness. . . .
Perhaps men only begin to love when they cease to be dazzled and
admire. He had thought she might reproach him, he had felt and
feared she might set herself to stir his senses, and both these
expectations had been unjust to her he saw, now that he saw her
beside him, a brave, rather ill-advised and unlucky little
struggler, stung and shamed. He forgot the particulars of that
first lunch of theirs together and he remembered his mother's second
Indeed he knew now it had not been unexpected. Why hadn't he left
this little sensitive soul and this little sensitive body alone?
And since he hadn't done so, what right had he now to back out of
their common adventure? He felt a sudden wild impulse to marry Mrs.
Skelmersdale, in a mood between remorse and love and self-
immolation, and then a sunlit young woman with a leaping stride in
her paces, passed across his heavens, pointing to Asia and Utopia
and forbidding even another thought of the banns. . . .
"You will kiss me good-bye, dear, won't you?" said Mrs.
Skelmersdale, brimming over. "You will do that."
He couldn't keep his arm from her little shoulders. And as their
lips touched he suddenly found himself weeping also. . . .
His spirit went limping from that interview. She chose to stay
behind in her chair and think, she said, and each time he turned
back she was sitting in the same attitude looking at him as he
receded, and she had one hand on the chair back and her arm drawn up
to it. The third time he waved his hat clumsily, and she started
and then answered with her hand. Then the trees hid her. . . .
This sex business was a damnable business. If only because it made
one hurt women. . . .
He had trampled on Mrs. Skelmersdale, he had hurt and disappointed
his mother. Was he a brute? Was he a cold-blooded prig? What was
this aristocracy? Was his belief anything more than a theory? Was
he only dreaming of a debt to the men in the quarry, to the miners,
to the men in the stokeholes, to the drudges on the fields? And
while he dreamt he wounded and distressed real living creatures in
the sleep-walk of his dreaming. . . .
So long as he stuck to his dream he must at any rate set his face
absolutely against the establishment of any further relations with
Unless they were women of an entirely different type, women hardened
and tempered, who would understand.
So Benham was able to convert the unfortunate Mrs. Skelmersdale into
a tender but for a long time an entirely painful memory. But
mothers are not so easily disposed of, and more particularly a
mother whose conduct is coloured deeply by an extraordinary
persuasion of having paid for her offspring twice over. Nolan was
inexplicable; he was, Benham understood quite clearly, never to be
mentioned again; but somehow from the past his shadow and his legacy
cast a peculiar and perplexing shadow of undefined obligation upon
Benham's outlook. His resolution to go round the world carried on
his preparations rapidly and steadily, but at the same time his
mother's thwarted and angry bearing produced a torture of remorse in
him. It was constantly in his mind, like the suit of the
importunate widow, that he ought to devote his life to the little
lady's happiness and pride, and his reason told him that even if he
wanted to make this sacrifice he couldn't; the mere act of making it
would produce so entirely catastrophic a revulsion. He could as
soon have become a croquet champion or the curate of Chexington
church, lines of endeavour which for him would have led straightly
and simply to sacrilegious scandal or manslaughter with a mallet.
There is so little measure in the wild atonements of the young that
it was perhaps as well for the Research Magnificent that the
remorses of this period of Benham's life were too complicated and
scattered for a cumulative effect. In the background of his mind
and less subdued than its importance could seem to warrant was his
promise to bring the Wilder-Morris people into relations with Lady
Marayne. They had been so delightful to him that he felt quite
acutely the slight he was putting upon them by this delay. Lady
Marayne's moods, however, had been so uncertain that he had found no
occasion to broach this trifling matter, and when at last the
occasion came he perceived in the same instant the fullest reasons
for regretting it.
"Ah!" she said, hanging only for a moment, and then: "you told me
you were alone!" . . .
Her mind leapt at once to the personification of these people as all
that had puzzled and baffled her in her son since his flight from
London. They were the enemy, they had got hold of him.
"When I asked you if you were alone you pretended to be angry," she
remembered with a flash. "You said, 'Do I tell lies?'"
"I WAS alone. Until-- It was an accident. On my walk I was
But he flinched before her accusing, her almost triumphant,
From the instant she heard of them she hated these South Harting
people unrestrainedly. She made no attempt to conceal it. Her
valiant bantam spirit caught at this quarrel as a refuge from the
rare and uncongenial ache of his secession. "And who are they?