Part 4 out of 7
What are they? What sort of people can they be to drag in a passing
young man? I suppose this girl of theirs goes out every evening--
Was she painted, Poff?"
She whipped him with her questions as though she was slashing his
face. He became dead-white and grimly civil, answering every
question as though it was the sanest, most justifiable inquiry.
"Of course I don't know who they are. How should I know? What need
is there to know?"
"There are ways of finding out," she insisted. "If I am to go down
and make myself pleasant to these people because of you."
"But I implore you not to."
"And five minutes ago you were imploring me to! Of course I shall."
"One has to know SOMETHING of the people to whom one commits
"They are decent people; they are well-behaved people."
"Oh!--I'll behave well. Don't think I'll disgrace your casual
acquaintances. But who they are, what they are, I WILL know. . . ."
On that point Lady Marayne was to score beyond her utmost
"Come round," she said over the telephone, two mornings later.
"I've something to tell you."
She was so triumphant that she was sorry for him. When it came to
telling him, she failed from her fierceness.
"Poff, my little son," she said, "I'm so sorry I hardly know how to
tell you. Poff, I'm sorry. I have to tell you--and it's utterly
"But what?" he asked.
"These people are dreadful people."
"You've heard of the great Kent and Eastern Bank smash and the
Marlborough Building Society frauds eight or nine years ago?"
"Vaguely. But what has that to do with them?"
"That man Morris."
She stopped short, and Benham nodded for her to go on.
"Her father," said Lady Marayne.
"But who was Morris? Really, mother, I don't remember."
"He was sentenced to seven years--ten years--I forget. He had done
all sorts of dreadful things. He was a swindler. And when he went
out of the dock into the waiting-room-- He had a signet ring with
prussic acid in it-- . . ."
"I remember now," he said.
A silence fell between them.
Benham stood quite motionless on the hearthrug and stared very hard
at the little volume of Henley's poetry that lay upon the table.
He cleared his throat presently.
"You can't go and see them then," he said. "After all--since I am
going abroad so soon-- . . . It doesn't so very much matter."
To Benham it did not seem to be of the slightest importance that
Amanda's father was a convicted swindler who had committed suicide.
Never was a resolved and conscious aristocrat so free from the
hereditary delusion. Good parents, he was convinced, are only an
advantage in so far as they have made you good stuff, and bad
parents are no discredit to a son or daughter of good quality.
Conceivably he had a bias against too close an examination of
origins, and he held that the honour of the children should atone
for the sins of the fathers and the questionable achievements of any
intervening testator. Not half a dozen rich and established
families in all England could stand even the most conventional
inquiry into the foundations of their pride, and only a universal
amnesty could prevent ridiculous distinctions. But he brought no
accusation of inconsistency against his mother. She looked at
things with a lighter logic and a kind of genius for the acceptance
of superficial values. She was condoned and forgiven, a rescued
lamb, re-established, notoriously bright and nice, and the Morrises
were damned. That was their status, exclusion, damnation, as fixed
as colour in Georgia or caste in Bengal. But if his mother's mind
worked in that way there was no reason why his should. So far as he
was concerned, he told himself, it did not matter whether Amanda was
the daughter of a swindler or the daughter of a god. He had no
doubt that she herself had the spirit and quality of divinity. He
had seen it.
So there was nothing for it in the failure of his mother's
civilities but to increase his own. He would go down to Harting and
take his leave of these amiable outcasts himself. With a certain
effusion. He would do this soon because he was now within sight of
the beginning of his world tour. He had made his plans and prepared
most of his equipment. Little remained to do but the release of
Merkle, the wrappering and locking up of Finacue Street, which could
await him indefinitely, and the buying of tickets. He decided to
take the opportunity afforded by a visit of Sir Godfrey and Lady
Marayne to the Blights, big iron people in the North of England of
so austere a morality that even Benham was ignored by it. He
announced his invasion in a little note to Mrs. Wilder. He parted
from his mother on Friday afternoon; she was already, he perceived,
a little reconciled to his project of going abroad; and contrived
his arrival at South Harting for that sunset hour which was for his
imagination the natural halo of Amanda.
"I'm going round the world," he told them simply. "I may be away
for two years, and I thought I would like to see you all again
before I started."
That was quite the way they did things.
The supper-party included Mr. Rathbone-Sanders, who displayed a
curious tendency to drift in between Benham and Amanda, a literary
youth with a Byronic visage, very dark curly hair, and a number of
extraordinarily mature chins, a girl-friend of Betty's who had
cycled down from London, and who it appeared maintained herself at
large in London by drawing for advertisements, and a silent
colourless friend of Mr. Rathbone-Sanders. The talk lit by Amanda's
enthusiasm circled actively round Benham's expedition. It was clear
that the idea of giving some years to thinking out one's possible
work in the world was for some reason that remained obscure highly
irritating to both Mr. Rathbone-Sanders and the Byronic youth.
Betty too regarded it as levity when there was "so much to be done,"
and the topic whacked about and rose to something like a wrangle,
and sat down and rested and got up again reinvigorated, with a
continuity of interest that Benham had never yet encountered in any
London gathering. He made a good case for his modern version of the
Grand Tour, and he gave them something of his intellectual
enthusiasm for the distances and views, the cities and seas, the
multitudinous wide spectacle of the world he was to experience. He
had been reading about Benares and North China. As he talked
Amanda, who had been animated at first, fell thoughtful and silent.
And then it was discovered that the night was wonderfully warm and
the moon shining. They drifted out into the garden, but Mr.
Rathbone-Sanders was suddenly entangled and drawn back by Mrs.
Wilder and the young woman from London upon some technical point,
and taken to the work-table in the corner of the dining-room to
explain. He was never able to get to the garden.
Benham found himself with Amanda upon a side path, a little isolated
by some swaggering artichokes and a couple of apple trees and so
forth from the general conversation. They cut themselves off from
the continuation of that by a little silence, and then she spoke
abruptly and with the quickness of a speaker who has thought out
something to say and fears interruption: "Why did you come down
"I wanted to see you before I went."
"You disturb me. You fill me with envy."
"I didn't think of that. I wanted to see you again."
"And then you will go off round the world, you will see the Tropics,
you will see India, you will go into Chinese cities all hung with
vermilion, you will climb mountains. Oh! men can do all the
splendid things. Why do you come here to remind me of it? I have
never been anywhere, anywhere at all. I never shall go anywhere.
Never in my life have I seen a mountain. Those Downs there--look at
them!--are my highest. And while you are travelling I shall think
of you--and think of you. . . ."
"Would YOU like to travel?" he asked as though that was an
"Do you think EVERY girl wants to sit at home and rock a cradle?"
"I never thought YOU did."
"Then what did you think I wanted?"
"What DO you want?"
She held her arms out widely, and the moonlight shone in her eyes as
she turned her face to him.
"Just what you want," she said; "--THE WHOLE WORLD!
"Life is like a feast," she went on; "it is spread before everybody
and nobody must touch it. What am I? Just a prisoner. In a
cottage garden. Looking for ever over a hedge. I should be happier
if I couldn't look. I remember once, only a little time ago, there
was a cheap excursion to London. Our only servant went. She had to
get up at an unearthly hour, and I--I got up too. I helped her to
get off. And when she was gone I went up to my bedroom again and
cried. I cried with envy for any one, any one who could go away.
I've been nowhere--except to school at Chichester and three or four
times to Emsworth and Bognor--for eight years. When you go"--the
tears glittered in the moonlight--"I shall cry. It will be worse
than the excursion to London. . . . Ever since you were here before
I've been thinking of it."
It seemed to Benham that here indeed was the very sister of his
spirit. His words sprang into his mind as one thinks of a repartee.
"But why shouldn't you come too?" he said.
She stared at him in silence. The two white-lit faces examined each
other. Both she and Benham were trembling.
"COME TOO?" she repeated.
"Yes, with me."
Then suddenly she was weeping like a child that is teased; her
troubled eyes looked out from under puckered brows. "You don't mean
it," she said. "You don't mean it."
And then indeed he meant it.
"Marry me," he said very quickly, glancing towards the dark group at
the end of the garden. "And we will go together."
He seized her arm and drew her to him. "I love you," he said. "I
love your spirit. You are not like any one else."
There was a moment's hesitation.
Both he and she looked to see how far they were still alone.
Then they turned their dusky faces to each other. He drew her still
"Oh!" she said, and yielded herself to be kissed. Their lips
touched, and for a moment he held her lithe body against his own.
"I want you," he whispered close to her. "You are my mate. From
the first sight of you I knew that. . . ."
They embraced--alertly furtive.
Then they stood a little apart. Some one was coming towards them.
Amanda's bearing changed swiftly. She put up her little face to
his, confidently and intimately.
"Don't TELL any one," she whispered eagerly shaking his arm to
emphasize her words. "Don't tell any one--not yet. Not for a few
days. . . ."
She pushed him from her quickly as the shadowy form of Betty
appeared in a little path between the artichokes and raspberry
"Listening to the nightingales?" cried Betty.
"Yes, aren't they?" said Amanda inconsecutively.
"That's our very own nightingale!" cried Betty advancing. "Do you
hear it, Mr. Benham? No, not that one. That is a quite inferior
bird that performs in the vicarage trees. . . ."
When a man has found and won his mate then the best traditions
demand a lyrical interlude. It should be possible to tell, in that
ecstatic manner which melts words into moonshine, makes prose almost
uncomfortably rhythmic, and brings all the freshness of every spring
that ever was across the page, of the joyous exaltation of the happy
lover. This at any rate was what White had always done in his
novels hitherto, and what he would certainly have done at this point
had he had the telling of Benham's story uncontrolledly in his
hands. But, indeed, indeed, in real life, in very truth, the heart
has not this simplicity. Only the heroes of romance, and a few
strong simple clean-shaven Americans have that much emotional
integrity. (And even the Americans do at times seem to an observant
eye to be putting in work at the job and keeping up their gladness.)
Benham was excited that night, but not in the proper bright-eyed,
red-cheeked way; he did not dance down the village street of Harting
to his harbour at the Ship, and the expression in his eyes as he sat
on the edge of his bed was not the deep elemental wonder one could
have wished there, but amazement. Do not suppose that he did not
love Amanda, that a rich majority of his being was not triumphantly
glad to have won her, that the image of the two armour-clad lovers
was not still striding and flourishing through the lit wilderness of
his imagination. For three weeks things had pointed him to this.
They would do everything together now, he and his mate, they would
scale mountains together and ride side by side towards ruined cities
across the deserts of the World. He could have wished no better
thing. But at the same time, even as he felt and admitted this and
rejoiced at it, the sky of his mind was black with consternation. . . .
It is remarkable, White reflected, as he turned over the abundant
but confused notes upon this perplexing phase of Benham's
development that lay in the third drawer devoted to the Second
Limitation, how dependent human beings are upon statement. Man is
the animal that states a case. He lives not in things but in
expressed ideas, and what was troubling Benham inordinately that
night, a night that should have been devoted to purely blissful and
exalted expectations, was the sheer impossibility of stating what
had happened in any terms that would be tolerable either to Mrs.
Skelmersdale or Lady Marayne. The thing had happened with the
suddenness of a revelation. Whatever had been going on in the less
illuminated parts of his mind, his manifest resolution had been
merely to bid South Harting good-bye-- And in short they would
never understand. They would accuse him of the meanest treachery.
He could see his mother's face, he could hear her voice saying, "And
so because of this sudden infatuation for a swindler's daughter, a
girl who runs about the roads with a couple of retrievers hunting
for a man, you must spoil all my plans, ruin my year, tell me a lot
of pretentious stuffy lies. . . ." And Mrs. Skelmersdale too would
say, "Of course he just talked of the world and duty and all that
rubbish to save my face. . . ."
It wasn't so at all.
But it looked so frightfully like it!
Couldn't they realize that he had fled out of London before ever he
had seen Amanda? They might be able to do it perhaps, but they
never would. It just happened that in the very moment when the
edifice of his noble resolutions had been ready, she had stepped
into it--out of nothingness and nowhere. She wasn't an accident;
that was just the point upon which they were bound to misjudge her;
she was an embodiment. If only he could show her to them as she had
first shown herself to him, swift, light, a little flushed from
running but not in the least out of breath, quick as a leopard upon
the dogs. . . . But even if the improbable opportunity arose, he
perceived it might still be impossible to produce the Amanda he
loved, the Amanda of the fluttering short skirt and the clear
enthusiastic voice. Because, already he knew she was not the only
Amanda. There was another, there might be others, there was this
perplexing person who had flashed into being at the very moment of
their mutual confession, who had produced the entirely disconcerting
demand that nobody must be told. Then Betty had intervened. But
that sub-Amanda and her carneying note had to be dealt with on the
first occasion, because when aristocrats love they don't care a rap
who is told and who is not told. They just step out into the light
side by side. . . .
"Don't tell any one," she had said, "not for a few days. . . ."
This sub-Amanda was perceptible next morning again, flitting about
in the background of a glad and loving adventuress, a pre-occupied
Amanda who had put her head down while the real Amanda flung her
chin up and contemplated things on the Asiatic scale, and who was
apparently engaged in disentangling something obscure connected with
Mr. Rathbone-Sanders that ought never to have been entangled. . . .
"A human being," White read, "the simplest human being, is a
clustering mass of aspects. No man will judge another justly who
judges everything about him. And of love in particular is this
true. We love not persons but revelations. The woman one loves is
like a goddess hidden in a shrine; for her sake we live on hope and
suffer the kindred priestesses that make up herself. The art of
love is patience till the gleam returns. . . ."
Sunday and Monday did much to develop this idea of the intricate
complexity of humanity in Benham's mind. On Monday morning he went
up from the Ship again to get Amanda alone and deliver his ultimatum
against a further secrecy, so that he could own her openly and have
no more of the interventions and separations that had barred him
from any intimate talk with her throughout the whole of Sunday. The
front door stood open, the passage hall was empty, but as he
hesitated whether he should proclaim himself with the knocker or
walk through, the door of the little drawing-room flew open and a
black-clad cylindrical clerical person entirely unknown to Benham
stumbled over the threshold, blundered blindly against him, made a
sound like "MOO" and a pitiful gesture with his arm, and fled
forth. . . .
It was a curate and he was weeping bitterly. . . .
Benham stood in the doorway and watched a clumsy broken-hearted
flight down the village street.
He had been partly told and partly left to infer, and anyhow he was
beginning to understand about Mr. Rathbone-Sanders. That he could
dismiss. But--why was the curate in tears?
He found Amanda standing alone in the room from which this young man
had fled. She had a handful of daffodils in her hand, and others
were scattered over the table. She had been arranging the big bowl
of flowers in the centre. He left the door open behind him and
stopped short with the table between them. She looked up at him--
intelligently and calmly. Her pose had a divine dignity.
"I want to tell them now," said Benham without a word of greeting.
"Yes," she said, "tell them now."
They heard steps in the passage outside. "Betty!" cried Amanda.
Her mother's voice answered, "Do you want Betty?"
"We want you all," answered Amanda. "We have something to tell
you. . . ."
"Carrie!" they heard Mrs. Morris call her sister after an interval,
and her voice sounded faint and flat and unusual. There was the
soft hissing of some whispered words outside and a muffled
exclamation. Then Mrs. Wilder and Mrs. Morris and Betty came into
the room. Mrs. Wilder came first, and Mrs. Morris with an alarmed
face as if sheltering behind her. "We want to tell you something,"
"Amanda and I are going to marry each other," said Benham, standing
in front of her.
For an instant the others made no answer; they looked at each other.
"BUT DOES HE KNOW?" Mrs. Morris said in a low voice.
Amanda turned her eyes to her lover. She was about to speak, she
seemed to gather herself for an effort, and then he knew that he did
not want to hear her explanation. He checked her by a gesture.
"I KNOW," he said, and then, "I do not see that it matters to us in
He went to her holding out both his hands to her.
She took them and stood shyly for a moment, and then the watchful
gravity of her face broke into soft emotion. "Oh!" she cried and
seized his face between her hands in a passion of triumphant love
and kissed him.
And then he found himself being kissed by Mrs. Morris.
She kissed him thrice, with solemnity, with thankfulness, with
relief, as if in the act of kissing she transferred to him precious
and entirely incalculable treasures.
CHAPTER THE FOURTH
THE SPIRITED HONEYMOON
It was a little after sunrise one bright morning in September that
Benham came up on to the deck of the sturdy Austrian steamboat that
was churning its way with a sedulous deliberation from Spalato to
Cattaro, and lit himself a cigarette and seated himself upon a deck
chair. Save for a yawning Greek sailor busy with a mop the first-
class deck was empty.
Benham surveyed the haggard beauty of the Illyrian coast. The
mountains rose gaunt and enormous and barren to a jagged fantastic
silhouette against the sun; their almost vertical slopes still
plunged in blue shadow, broke only into a little cold green and
white edge of olive terraces and vegetation and houses before they
touched the clear blue water. An occasional church or a house
perched high upon some seemingly inaccessible ledge did but
accentuate the vast barrenness of the land. It was a land desolated
and destroyed. At Ragusa, at Salona, at Spalato and Zara and Pola
Benham had seen only variations upon one persistent theme, a
dwindled and uncreative human life living amidst the giant ruins of
preceding times, as worms live in the sockets of a skull. Forward
an unsavoury group of passengers still slumbered amidst fruit-peel
and expectorations, a few soldiers, some squalid brigands armed with
preposterous red umbrellas, a group of curled-up human lumps brooded
over by an aquiline individual caparisoned with brass like a horse,
his head wrapped picturesquely in a shawl. Benham surveyed these
last products of the "life force" and resumed his pensive survey of
the coast. The sea was deserted save for a couple of little lateen
craft with suns painted on their gaudy sails, sea butterflies that
hung motionless as if unawakened close inshore. . . .
The travel of the last few weeks had impressed Benham's imagination
profoundly. For the first time in his life he had come face to face
with civilization in defeat. From Venice hitherward he had marked
with cumulative effect the clustering evidences of effort spent and
power crumbled to nothingness. He had landed upon the marble quay
of Pola and visited its deserted amphitheatre, he had seen a weak
provincial life going about ignoble ends under the walls of the
great Venetian fortress and the still more magnificent cathedral of
Zara; he had visited Spalato, clustered in sweltering grime within
the ample compass of the walls of Diocletian's villa, and a few
troublesome sellers of coins and iridescent glass and fragments of
tessellated pavement and such-like loot was all the population he
had found amidst the fallen walls and broken friezes and columns of
Salona. Down this coast there ebbed and flowed a mean residual
life, a life of violence and dishonesty, peddling trades, vendettas
and war. For a while the unstable Austrian ruled this land and made
a sort of order that the incalculable chances of international
politics might at any time shatter. Benham was drawing near now to
the utmost limit of that extended peace. Ahead beyond the mountain
capes was Montenegro and, further, Albania and Macedonia, lands of
lawlessness and confusion. Amanda and he had been warned of the
impossibility of decent travel beyond Cattaro and Cettinje but this
had but whetted her adventurousness and challenged his spirit. They
were going to see Albania for themselves.
The three months of honeymoon they had been spending together had
developed many remarkable divergences of their minds that had not
been in the least apparent to Benham before their marriage. Then
their common resolve to be as spirited as possible had obliterated
all minor considerations. But that was the limit of their
unanimity. Amanda loved wild and picturesque things, and Benham
strong and clear things; the vines and brushwood amidst the ruins of
Salona that had delighted her had filled him with a sense of tragic
retrogression. Salona had revived again in the acutest form a
dispute that had been smouldering between them throughout a fitful
and lengthy exploration of north and central Italy. She could not
understand his disgust with the mediaeval colour and confusion that
had swamped the pride and state of the Roman empire, and he could
not make her feel the ambition of the ruler, the essential
discipline and responsibilities of his aristocratic idea. While his
adventurousness was conquest, hers, it was only too manifest, was
brigandage. His thoughts ran now into the form of an imaginary
discourse, that he would never deliver to her, on the decay of
states, on the triumphs of barbarians over rulers who will not rule,
on the relaxation of patrician orders and the return of the robber
and assassin as lordship decays. This coast was no theatrical
scenery for him; it was a shattered empire. And it was shattered
because no men had been found, united enough, magnificent and
steadfast enough, to hold the cities, and maintain the roads, keep
the peace and subdue the brutish hates and suspicions and cruelties
that devastated the world.
And as these thoughts came back into his mind, Amanda flickered up
from below, light and noiseless as a sunbeam, and stood behind his
Freedom and the sight of the world had if possible brightened and
invigorated her. Her costume and bearing were subtly touched by the
romance of the Adriatic. There was a flavour of the pirate in the
cloak about her shoulders and the light knitted cap of scarlet she
had stuck upon her head. She surveyed his preoccupation for a
moment, glanced forward, and then covered his eyes with her hands.
In almost the same movement she had bent down and nipped the tip of
his ear between her teeth.
"Confound you, Amanda!"
"You'd forgotten my existence, you star-gazing Cheetah. And then,
you see, these things happen to you!"
"I was thinking."
"Well--DON'T. . . . I distrust your thinking. This coast is wilder
and grimmer than yesterday. It's glorious. . . ."
She sat down on the chair he unfolded for her.
"Is there nothing to eat?" she asked abruptly.
"It is too early."
"This coast is magnificent," she said presently.
"It's hideous," he answered. "It's as ugly as a heap of slag."
"It's nature at its wildest."
"That's Amanda at her wildest."
"Well, isn't it?"
"No! This land isn't nature. It's waste. Not wilderness. It's
the other end. Those hills were covered with forests; this was a
busy civilized coast just a little thousand years ago. The
Venetians wasted it. They cut down the forests; they filled the
cities with a mixed mud of population, THAT stuff. Look at it"!--he
indicated the sleepers forward by a movement of his head.
"I suppose they WERE rather feeble people," said Amanda.
"They were traders--and nothing more. Just as we are. And when
they were rich they got splendid clothes and feasted and rested.
Much as we do."
Amanda surveyed him. "We don't rest."
"We are seeing things."
"Don't be a humbug, Amanda. We are making love. Just as they did.
And it has been--ripping. In Salona they made love tremendously.
They did nothing else until the barbarians came over the
mountains. . . ."
"Well," said Amanda virtuously, "we will do something else."
He made no answer and her expression became profoundly thoughtful.
Of course this wandering must end. He had been growing impatient
for some time. But it was difficult, she perceived, to decide just
what to do with him. . . .
Benham picked up the thread of his musing.
He was seeing more and more clearly that all civilization was an
effort, and so far always an inadequate and very partially
successful effort. Always it had been aristocratic, aristocratic in
the sense that it was the work of minorities, who took power, who
had a common resolution against the inertia, the indifference, the
insubordination and instinctive hostility of the mass of mankind.
And always the set-backs, the disasters of civilization, had been
failures of the aristocratic spirit. Why had the Roman purpose
faltered and shrivelled? Every order, every brotherhood, every
organization carried with it the seeds of its own destruction. Must
the idea of statecraft and rule perpetually reappear, reclothe
itself in new forms, age, die, even as life does--making each time
its almost infinitesimal addition to human achievement? Now the
world is crying aloud for a renascence of the spirit that orders and
controls. Human affairs sway at a dizzy height of opportunity.
Will they keep their footing there, or stagger? We have got back at
last to a time as big with opportunity as the early empire. Given
only the will in men and it would be possible now to turn the
dazzling accidents of science, the chancy attainments of the
nineteenth century, into a sane and permanent possession, a new
starting point. . . . What a magnificence might be made of life!
He was aroused by Amanda's voice.
"When we go back to London, old Cheetah," she said, "we must take a
For some moments he stared at her, trying to get back to their point
"Why?" he asked at length.
"We must have a house," she said.
He looked at her face. Her expression was profoundly thoughtful,
her eyes were fixed on the slumbering ships poised upon the
transparent water under the mountain shadows.
"You see," she thought it out, "you've got to TELL in London. You
can't just sneak back there. You've got to strike a note of your
own. With all these things of yours."
"There's a sort of little house, I used to see them when I was a
girl and my father lived in London, about Brook Street and that
part. Not too far north. . . . You see going back to London for us
is just another adventure. We've got to capture London. We've got
to scale it. We've got advantages of all sorts. But at present
we're outside. We've got to march in."
Her clear hazel eyes contemplated conflicts and triumphs.
She was roused by Benham's voice.
"What the deuce are you thinking of, Amanda?"
She turned her level eyes to his. "London," she said. "For you."
"I don't want London," he said.
"I thought you did. You ought to. I do."
"But to take a house! Make an invasion of London!"
"You dear old Cheetah, you can't be always frisking about in the
wilderness, staring at the stars."
"But I'm not going back to live in London in the old way, theatres,
"Oh no! We aren't going to do that sort of thing. We aren't going
to join the ruck. We'll go about in holiday times all over the
world. I want to see Fusiyama. I mean to swim in the South Seas.
With you. We'll dodge the sharks. But all the same we shall have
to have a house in London. We have to be FELT there."
She met his consternation fairly. She lifted her fine eyebrows.
Her little face conveyed a protesting reasonableness.
"Well, MUSTN'T we?"
She added, "If we want to alter the world we ought to live in the
Since last they had disputed the question she had thought out these
"Amanda," he said, "I think sometimes you haven't the remotest idea
of what I am after. I don't believe you begin to suspect what I am
She put her elbows on her knees, dropped her chin between her hands
and regarded him impudently. She had a characteristic trick of
looking up with her face downcast that never failed to soften his
"Look here, Cheetah, don't you give way to your early morning habit
of calling your own true love a fool," she said.
"Simply I tell you I will not go back to London."
"You will go back with me, Cheetah."
"I will go back as far as my work calls me there."
"It calls you through the voice of your mate and slave and doormat
to just exactly the sort of house you ought to have. . . . It is
the privilege and duty of the female to choose the lair."
For a space Benham made no reply. This controversy had been
gathering for some time and he wanted to state his view as vividly
as possible. The Benham style of connubial conversation had long
since decided for emphasis rather than delicacy.
"I think," he said slowly, "that this wanting to take London by
storm is a beastly VULGAR thing to want to do."
Amanda compressed her lips.
"I want to work out things in my mind," he went on. "I do not want
to be distracted by social things, and I do not want to be
distracted by picturesque things. This life--it's all very well on
the surface, but it isn't real. I'm not getting hold of reality.
Things slip away from me. God! but how they slip away from me!"
He got up and walked to the side of the boat.
She surveyed his back for some moments. Then she went and leant
over the rail beside him.
"I want to go to London," she said.
"Where do you want to go?"
"Where I can see into the things that hold the world together."
"I have loved this wandering--I could wander always. But . . .
Cheetah! I tell you I WANT to go to London."
He looked over his shoulder into her warm face. "NO," he said.
"But, I ask you."
He shook his head.
She put her face closer and whispered. "Cheetah! big beast of my
heart. Do you hear your mate asking for something?"
He turned his eyes back to the mountains. "I must go my own way."
"Haven't I, so far, invented things, made life amusing, Cheetah?
Can't you trust the leopard's wisdom?"
He stared at the coast inexorably.
"I wonder," she whispered.
"You ARE that, Cheetah, that lank, long, EAGER beast--."
Suddenly with a nimble hand she had unbuttoned and rolled up the
sleeve of her blouse. She stuck her pretty blue-veined arm before
his eyes. "Look here, sir, it was you, wasn't it? It was your
powerful jaw inflicted this bite upon the arm of a defenceless
"Well." She wrinkled her brows.
He turned about and stood over her, he shook a finger in her face
and there was a restrained intensity in his voice as he spoke.
"Look here, Amanda!" he said, "if you think that you are going to
make me agree to any sort of project about London, to any sort of
complication of our lives with houses in smart streets and a
campaign of social assertion--by THAT, then may I be damned for an
Her eyes met his and there was mockery in her eyes.
"This, Cheetah, is the morning mood," she remarked.
"This is the essential mood. Listen, Amanda--"
He stopped short. He looked towards the gangway, they both looked.
The magic word "Breakfast" came simultaneously from them.
"Eggs," she said ravenously, and led the way.
A smell of coffee as insistent as an herald's trumpet had called a
truce between them.
Their marriage had been a comparatively inconspicuous one, but since
that time they had been engaged upon a honeymoon of great extent and
variety. Their wedding had taken place at South Harting church in
the marked absence of Lady Marayne, and it had been marred by only
one untoward event. The Reverend Amos Pugh who, in spite of the
earnest advice of several friends had insisted upon sharing in the
ceremony, had suddenly covered his face with the sleeves of his
surplice and fled with a swift rustle to the vestry, whence an
uproar of inadequately smothered sorrow came as an obligato
accompaniment to the more crucial passages of the service. Amanda
appeared unaware of the incident at the time, but afterwards she
explained things to Benham. "Curates," she said, "are such pent-up
men. One ought, I suppose, to remember that. But he never had
anything to go upon at all--not anything--except his own
"I suppose when you met him you were nice to him."
"I was nice to him, of course. . . ."
They drove away from Harting, as it were, over the weeping remains
of this infatuated divine. His sorrow made them thoughtful for a
time, and then Amanda nestled closer to her lover and they forgot
about him, and their honeymoon became so active and entertaining
that only very rarely and transitorily did they ever think of him
The original conception of their honeymoon had been identical with
the plans Benham had made for the survey and study of the world, and
it was through a series of modifications, replacements and additions
that it became at last a prolonged and very picturesque tour in
Switzerland, the Austrian Tyrol, North Italy, and down the Adriatic
coast. Amanda had never seen mountains, and longed, she said, to
climb. This took them first to Switzerland. Then, in spite of
their exalted aims, the devotion of their lives to noble purposes,
it was evident that Amanda had no intention of scamping the detail
of love, and for that what background is so richly beautiful as
Italy? An important aspect of the grand tour round the world as
Benham had planned it, had been interviews, inquiries and
conversations with every sort of representative and understanding
person he could reach. An unembarrassed young man who wants to know
and does not promise to bore may reach almost any one in that way,
he is as impersonal as pure reason and as mobile as a letter, but
the presence of a lady in his train leaves him no longer
unembarrassed. His approach has become a social event. The wife of
a great or significant personage must take notice or decide not to
take notice. Of course Amanda was prepared to go anywhere, just as
Benham's shadow; it was the world that was unprepared. And a second
leading aspect of his original scheme had been the examination of
the ways of government in cities and the shifting and mixture of
nations and races. It would have led to back streets, and involved
and complicated details, and there was something in the fine flame
of girlhood beside him that he felt was incompatible with those
shadows and that dust. And also they were lovers and very deeply in
love. It was amazing how swiftly that draggled shameful London
sparrow-gamin, Eros, took heart from Amanda, and became wonderful,
beautiful, glowing, life-giving, confident, clear-eyed; how he
changed from flesh to sweet fire, and grew until he filled the sky.
So that you see they went to Switzerland and Italy at last very like
two ordinary young people who were not aristocrats at all, had no
theory about the world or their destiny, but were simply just
ardently delighted with the discovery of one another.
Nevertheless Benham was for some time under a vague impression that
in a sort of way still he was going round the world and working out
It was part of the fascination of Amanda that she was never what he
had supposed her to be, and that nothing that he set out to do with
her ever turned out as they had planned it. Her appreciations
marched before her achievement, and when it came to climbing it
seemed foolish to toil to summits over which her spirit had flitted
days before. Their Swiss expeditions which she had foreseen as
glorious wanderings amidst the blue ice of crevasses and nights of
exalted hardihood became a walking tour of fitful vigour and
abundant fun and delight. They spent a long day on the ice of the
Aletsch glacier, but they reached the inn on its eastward side with
magnificent appetites a little late for dinner.
Amanda had revealed an unexpected gift for nicknames and pretty
fancies. She named herself the Leopard, the spotless Leopard; in
some obscure way she intimated that the colour was black, but that
was never to be admitted openly, there was supposed to be some
lurking traces of a rusty brown but the word was spotless and the
implication white, a dazzling white, she would play a thousand
variations on the theme; in moments of despondency she was only a
black cat, a common lean black cat, and sacks and half-bricks almost
too good for her. But Benham was always a Cheetah. That had come
to her as a revelation from heaven. But so clearly he was a
Cheetah. He was a Hunting Leopard; the only beast that has an up-
cast face and dreams and looks at you with absent-minded eyes like a
man. She laced their journeys with a fantastic monologue telling in
the third person what the Leopard and the Cheetah were thinking and
seeing and doing. And so they walked up mountains and over passes
and swam in the warm clear water of romantic lakes and loved each
other mightily always, in chestnut woods and olive orchards and
flower-starred alps and pine forests and awning-covered boats, and
by sunset and moonlight and starshine; and out of these agreeable
solitudes they came brown and dusty, striding side by side into
sunlit entertaining fruit-piled market-places and envious hotels.
For days and weeks together it did not seem to Benham that there was
anything that mattered in life but Amanda and the elemental joys of
living. And then the Research Magnificent began to stir in him
again. He perceived that Italy was not India, that the clue to the
questions he must answer lay in the crowded new towns that they
avoided, in the packed bookshops and the talk of men, and not in the
picturesque and flowery solitudes to which their lovemaking carried
Moods began in which he seemed to forget Amanda altogether.
This happened first in the Certosa di Pavia whither they had gone
one afternoon from Milan. That was quite soon after they were
married. They had a bumping journey thither in a motor-car, a
little doubtful if the excursion was worth while, and they found a
great amazement in the lavish beauty and decorative wealth of that
vast church and its associated cloisters, set far away from any
population as it seemed in a flat wilderness of reedy ditches and
patchy cultivation. The distilleries and outbuildings were
deserted--their white walls were covered by one monstrously great
and old wisteria in flower--the soaring marvellous church was in
possession of a knot of unattractive guides. One of these conducted
them through the painted treasures of the gold and marble chapels;
he was an elderly but animated person who evidently found Amanda
more wonderful than any church. He poured out great accumulations
of information and compliments before her. Benham dropped behind,
went astray and was presently recovered dreaming in the great
cloister. The guide showed them over two of the cells that opened
thereupon, each a delightful house for a solitary, bookish and
clean, and each with a little secret walled garden of its own. He
was covertly tipped against all regulations and departed regretfully
with a beaming dismissal from Amanda. She found Benham wondering
why the Carthusians had failed to produce anything better in the
world than a liqueur. "One might have imagined that men would have
done something in this beautiful quiet; that there would have come
thought from here or will from here."
"In these dear little nests they ought to have put lovers," said
"Oh, of course, YOU would have made the place Thelema. . . ."
But as they went shaking and bumping back along the evil road to
Milan, he fell into a deep musing. Suddenly he said, "Work has to
be done. Because this order or that has failed, there is no reason
why we should fail. And look at those ragged children in the road
ahead of us, and those dirty women sitting in the doorways, and the
foul ugliness of these gaunt nameless towns through which we go!
They are what they are, because we are what we are--idlers,
excursionists. In a world we ought to rule. . . .
"Amanda, we've got to get to work. . . ."
That was his first display of this new mood, which presently became
a common one. He was less and less content to let the happy hours
slip by, more and more sensitive to the reminders in giant ruin and
deserted cell, in a chance encounter with a string of guns and
soldiers on their way to manoeuvres or in the sight of a stale
newspaper, of a great world process going on in which he was now
playing no part at all. And a curious irritability manifested
itself more and more plainly, whenever human pettiness obtruded upon
his attention, whenever some trivial dishonesty, some manifest
slovenliness, some spiritless failure, a cheating waiter or a
wayside beggar brought before him the shiftless, selfish, aimless
elements in humanity that war against the great dream of life made
glorious. "Accursed things," he would say, as he flung some
importunate cripple at a church door a ten-centime piece; "why were
they born? Why do they consent to live? They are no better than
some chance fungus that is because it must."
"It takes all sorts to make a world," said Amanda.
"Nonsense," said Benham. "Where is the megatherium? That sort of
creature has to go. Our sort of creature has to end it."
"Then why did you give it money?"
"Because-- I don't want the thing to be more wretched than it is.
But if I could prevent more of them-- . . . What am I doing to
"These beggars annoy you," said Amanda after a pause. "They do me.
Let us go back into the mountains."
But he fretted in the mountains.
They made a ten days' tour from Macugnaga over the Monte Moro to
Sass, and thence to Zermatt and back by the Theodule to Macugnaga.
The sudden apparition of douaniers upon the Monte Moro annoyed
Benham, and he was also irritated by the solemn English mountain
climbers at Saas Fee. They were as bad as golfers, he said, and
reflected momentarily upon his father. Amanda fell in love with
Monte Rosa, she wanted to kiss its snowy forehead, she danced like a
young goat down the path to Mattmark, and rolled on the turf when
she came to gentians and purple primulas. Benham was tremendously
in love with her most of the time, but one day when they were
sitting over the Findelen glacier his perceptions blundered for the
first time upon the fundamental antagonism of their quality. She
was sketching out jolly things that they were to do together,
expeditions, entertainments, amusements, and adventures, with a
voluble swiftness, and suddenly in a flash his eyes were opened, and
he saw that she would never for a moment feel the quality that made
life worth while for him. He saw it in a flash, and in that flash
he made his urgent resolve not to see it. From that moment forth
his bearing was poisoned by his secret determination not to think of
this, not to admit it to his mind. And forbidden to come into his
presence in its proper form, this conflict of intellectual
temperaments took on strange disguises, and the gathering tension of
his mind sought to relieve itself along grotesque irrelevant
There was, for example, the remarkable affair of the drive from
Macugnaga to Piedimulera.
They had decided to walk down in a leisurely fashion, but with the
fatigues of the precipitous clamber down from Switzerland still upon
them they found the white road between rock above and gorge below
wearisome, and the valley hot in the late morning sunshine, and
already before they reached the inn they had marked for lunch Amanda
had suggested driving the rest of the way. The inn had a number of
brigand-like customers consuming such sustenance as garlic and
salami and wine; it received them with an indifference that bordered
on disrespect, until the landlord, who seemed to be something of a
beauty himself, discovered the merits of Amanda. Then he became
markedly attentive. He was a large, fat, curly-headed person with
beautiful eyes, a cherished moustache, and an air of great
gentility, and when he had welcomed his guests and driven off the
slatternly waiting-maid, and given them his best table, and
consented, at Amanda's request, to open a window, he went away and
put on a tie and collar. It was an attention so conspicuous that
even the group of men in the far corner noticed and commented on it,
and then they commented on Amanda and Benham, assuming an ignorance
of Italian in the visitors that was only partly justifiable.
"Bellissima," "bravissima," "signorina," "Inglesa," one need not be
born in Italy to understand such words as these. Also they
addressed sly comments and encouragements to the landlord as he went
to and fro.
Benham was rather still and stiff during the meal, but it ill
becomes an English aristocrat to discuss the manners of an alien
population, and Amanda was amused by the effusion of the landlord
and a little disposed to experiment upon him. She sat radiating
light amidst the shadows.
The question of the vehicle was broached. The landlord was
doubtful, then an idea, it was manifestly a questionable idea,
occurred to him. He went to consult an obscure brown-faced
individual in the corner, disappeared, and the world without became
eloquent. Presently he returned and announced that a carozza was
practicable. It had been difficult, but he had contrived it. And
he remained hovering over the conclusion of their meal, asking
questions about Amanda's mountaineering and expressing incredulous
His bill, which he presented with an uneasy flourish, was large and
included the carozza.
He ushered them out to the carriage with civilities and compliments.
It had manifestly been difficult and contrived. It was dusty and
blistered, there had been a hasty effort to conceal its recent use
as a hen-roost, the harness was mended with string. The horse was
gaunt and scandalous, a dirty white, and carried its head
apprehensively. The driver had but one eye, through which there
gleamed a concentrated hatred of God and man.
"No wonder he charged for it before we saw it," said Benham.
"It's better than walking," said Amanda.
The company in the inn gathered behind the landlord and scrutinized
Amanda and Benham intelligently. The young couple got in.
"Avanti," said Benham, and Amanda bestowed one last ineradicable
memory on the bowing landlord.
Benham did not speak until just after they turned the first corner,
and then something portentous happened, considering the precipitous
position of the road they were upon. A small boy appeared sitting
in the grass by the wayside, and at the sight of him the white horse
shied extravagantly. The driver rose in his seat ready to jump.
But the crisis passed without a smash. "Cheetah!" cried Amanda
suddenly. "This isn't safe." "Ah!" said Benham, and began to act
with the vigour of one who has long accumulated force. He rose in
his place and gripped the one-eyed driver by the collar. "ASPETTO,"
he said, but he meant "Stop!" The driver understood that he meant
"Stop," and obeyed.
Benham wasted no time in parleying with the driver. He indicated to
him and to Amanda by a comprehensive gesture that he had business
with the landlord, and with a gleaming appetite upon his face went
running back towards the inn.
The landlord was sitting down to a little game of dominoes with his
friends when Benham reappeared in the sunlight of the doorway.
There was no misunderstanding Benham's expression.
For a moment the landlord was disposed to be defiant. Then he
changed his mind. Benham's earnest face was within a yard of his
own, and a threatening forefinger was almost touching his nose.
"Albergo cattivissimo," said Benham. "Cattivissimo! Pranzo
cattivissimo 'orrido. Cavallo cattivissimo, dangerousissimo. Gioco
abominablissimo, damnissimo. Capisce. Eh?" *
* This is vile Italian. It may--with a certain charity to Benham--
be rendered: "The beastliest inn! The beastliest! The beastliest,
most awful lunch! The vilest horse! Most dangerous! Abominable
The landlord made deprecatory gestures.
"YOU understand all right," said Benham. "Da me il argento per il
carozzo. Subito?" *
* "Give me back the money for the carriage. QUICKLY!"
The landlord was understood to ask whether the signor no longer
wished for the carriage.
"SUBITO!" cried Benham, and giving way to a long-restrained impulse
seized the padrone by the collar of his coat and shook him
There were dissuasive noises from the company, but no attempt at
rescue. Benham released his hold.
"Adesso!" said Benham. *
The landlord decided to disgorge. It was at any rate a comfort that
the beautiful lady was not seeing anything of this. And he could
explain afterwards to his friends that the Englishman was clearly a
lunatic, deserving pity rather than punishment. He made some sound
of protest, but attempted no delay in refunding the money Benham had
prepaid. Outside sounded the wheels of the returning carriage.
They stopped. Amanda appeared in the doorway and discovered Benham
He was a little short of breath, and as she came in he was
addressing the landlord with much earnestness in the following
"Attendez! Ecco! Adesso noi andiamo con questa cattivissimo
cavallo a Piedimulera. Si noi arrivero in safety, securo that is,
pagaremo. Non altro. Si noi abbiamo accidento Dio--Dio have mercy
on your sinful soul. See! Capisce? That's all." *
* "Now we will go with this beastly horse to Piedimulera. If we get
there safely I will pay. If we have an accident, then--"
He turned to Amanda. "Get back into the thing," he said. "We won't
have these stinking beasts think we are afraid of the job. I've
just made sure he won't have a profit by it if we smash up. That's
all. I might have known what he was up to when he wanted the money
beforehand." He came to the doorway and with a magnificent gesture
commanded the perplexed driver to turn the carriage.
While that was being done he discoursed upon his adjacent fellow-
creatures. "A man who pays beforehand for anything in this filthy
sort of life is a fool. You see the standards of the beast. They
think of nothing but their dirty little tricks to get profit, their
garlic, their sour wine, their games of dominoes, their moments of
lust. They crawl in this place like cockroaches in a warm corner of
the fireplace until they die. Look at the scabby frontage of the
house. Look at the men's faces. . . . Yes. So! Adequato.
Aspettate. . . . Get back into the carriage, Amanda."
"You know it's dangerous, Cheetah. The horse is a shier. That man
is blind in one eye."
"Get back into the carriage," said Benham, whitely angry. "I AM
GOING TO DRIVE!"
Just for a moment Amanda looked scared. Then with a queer little
laugh she jumped in again.
Amanda was never a coward when there was excitement afoot. "We'll
smash!" she cried, by no means woefully.
"Get up beside me," said Benham speaking in English to the driver
but with a gesture that translated him. Power over men radiated
from Benham in this angry mood. He took the driver's seat. The
little driver ascended and then with a grim calmness that brooked no
resistance Benham reached over, took and fastened the apron over
their knees to prevent any repetition of the jumping out tactics.
The recovering landlord became voluble in the doorway.
"In Piedimulera pagero," said Benham over his shoulder and brought
the whip across the white outstanding ribs. "Get up!" said Benham.
Amanda gripped the sides of the seat as the carriage started into
He laid the whip on again with such vigour that the horse forgot
altogether to shy at the urchin that had scared it before.
"Amanda," said Benham leaning back. "If we do happen to go over on
THAT side, jump out. It's all clear and wide for you. This side
won't matter so--"
"MIND!" screamed Amanda and recalled him to his duties. He was off
the road and he had narrowly missed an outstanding chestnut true.
"No, you don't," said Benham presently, and again their career
became erratic for a time as after a slight struggle he replaced the
apron over the knees of the deposed driver. It had been furtively
released. After that Benham kept an eye on it that might have been
better devoted to the road.
The road went down in a series of curves and corners. Now and then
there were pacific interludes when it might have been almost any
road. Then, again, it became specifically an Italian mountain road.
Now and then only a row of all too infrequent granite stumps
separated them from a sheer precipice. Some of the corners were
miraculous, and once they had a wheel in a ditch for a time, they
shaved the parapet of a bridge over a gorge and they drove a cyclist
into a patch of maize, they narrowly missed a goat and jumped three
gullies, thrice the horse stumbled and was jerked up in time, there
were sickening moments, and withal they got down to Piedimulera
unbroken and unspilt. It helped perhaps that the brake, with its
handle like a barrel organ, had been screwed up before Benham took
control. And when they were fairly on the level outside the town
Benham suddenly pulled up, relinquished the driving into the proper
hands and came into the carriage with Amanda.
"Safe now," he said compactly.
The driver appeared to be murmuring prayers very softly as he
examined the brake.
Amanda was struggling with profound problems. "Why didn't you drive
down in the first place?" she asked. "Without going back."
"The landlord annoyed me," he said. "I had to go back. . . . I
wish I had kicked him. Hairy beast! If anything had happened, you
see, he would have had his mean money. I couldn't bear to leave
"And why didn't you let HIM drive?" She indicated the driver by a
motion of the head.
"I was angry," said Benham. "I was angry at the whole thing."
"You see I think I did that because he might have jumped off if I
hadn't been up there to prevent him--I mean if we had had a smash.
I didn't want him to get out of it."
"But you too--"
"You see I was angry. . . ."
"It's been as good as a switchback," said Amanda after reflection.
"But weren't you a little careless about me, Cheetah?"
"I never thought of you," said Benham, and then as if he felt that
inadequate: "You see--I was so annoyed. It's odd at times how
annoyed one gets. Suddenly when that horse shied I realized what a
beastly business life was--as those brutes up there live it. I want
to clear out the whole hot, dirty, little aimless nest of them. . . ."
"No, I'm sure," he repeated after a pause as though he had been
digesting something "I wasn't thinking about you at all."
The suppression of his discovery that his honeymoon was not in the
least the great journey of world exploration he had intended, but
merely an impulsive pleasure hunt, was by no means the only obscured
and repudiated conflict that disturbed the mind and broke out upon
the behaviour of Benham. Beneath that issue he was keeping down a
far more intimate conflict. It was in those lower, still less
recognized depths that the volcanic fire arose and the earthquakes
gathered strength. The Amanda he had loved, the Amanda of the
gallant stride and fluttering skirt was with him still, she marched
rejoicing over the passes, and a dearer Amanda, a soft whispering
creature with dusky hair, who took possession of him when she chose,
a soft creature who was nevertheless a fierce creature, was also
interwoven with his life. But-- But there was now also a multitude
of other Amandas who had this in common that they roused him to
opposition, that they crossed his moods and jarred upon his spirit.
And particularly there was the Conquering Amanda not so much proud
of her beauty as eager to test it, so that she was not unmindful of
the stir she made in hotel lounges, nor of the magic that may shine
memorably through the most commonplace incidental conversation.
This Amanda was only too manifestly pleased to think that she made
peasant lovers discontented and hotel porters unmercenary; she let
her light shine before men. We lovers, who had deemed our own
subjugation a profound privilege, love not this further
expansiveness of our lady's empire. But Benham knew that no
aristocrat can be jealous; jealousy he held to be the vice of the
hovel and farmstead and suburban villa, and at an enormous
expenditure of will he ignored Amanda's waving flags and roving
glances. So, too, he denied that Amanda who was sharp and shrewd
about money matters, that flash of an Amanda who was greedy for
presents and possessions, that restless Amanda who fretted at any
cessation of excitement, and that darkly thoughtful Amanda whom
chance observations and questions showed to be still considering an
account she had to settle with Lady Marayne. He resisted these
impressions, he shut them out of his mind, but still they worked
into his thoughts, and presently he could find himself asking, even
as he and she went in step striding side by side through the red-
scarred pinewoods in the most perfect outward harmony, whether after
all he was so happily mated as he declared himself to be a score of
times a day, whether he wasn't catching glimpses of reality through
a veil of delusion that grew thinner and thinner and might leave him
disillusioned in the face of a relationship--
Sometimes a man may be struck by a thought as though he had been
struck in the face, and when the name of Mrs. Skelmersdale came into
his head, he glanced at his wife by his side as if it were something
that she might well have heard. Was this indeed the same thing as
that? Wonderful, fresh as the day of Creation, clean as flame, yet
the same! Was Amanda indeed the sister of Mrs. Skelmersdale--
wrought of clean fire, but her sister? . . .
But also beside the inimical aspects which could set such doubts
afoot there were in her infinite variety yet other Amandas neither
very dear nor very annoying, but for the most part delightful, who
entertained him as strangers might, Amandas with an odd twist which
made them amusing to watch, jolly Amandas who were simply
irrelevant. There was for example Amanda the Dog Mistress, with an
astonishing tact and understanding of dogs, who could explain dogs
and the cock of their ears and the droop of their tails and their
vanity and their fidelity, and why they looked up and why they
suddenly went off round the corner, and their pride in the sound of
their voices and their dastardly thoughts and sniffing
satisfactions, so that for the first time dogs had souls for Benham
to see. And there was an Amanda with a striking passion for the
sleekness and soft noses of horses. And there was an Amanda
extremely garrulous, who was a biographical dictionary and critical
handbook to all the girls in the school she had attended at
Chichester--they seemed a very girlish lot of girls; and an Amanda
who was very knowing--knowing was the only word for it--about
pictures and architecture. And these and all the other Amandas
agreed together to develop and share this one quality in common,
that altogether they pointed to no end, they converged on nothing.
She was, it grew more and more apparent, a miscellany bound in a
body. She was an animated discursiveness. That passion to get all
things together into one aristocratic aim, that restraint of
purpose, that imperative to focus, which was the structural
essential of Benham's spirit, was altogether foreign to her
There were so many Amandas, they were as innumerable as the Venuses--
Cytherea, Cypria, Paphia, Popularia, Euploea, Area, Verticordia,
Etaira, Basilea, Myrtea, Libertina, Freya, Astarte, Philommedis,
Telessigamma, Anadyomene, and a thousand others to whom men have
bowed and built temples, a thousand and the same, and yet it seemed
to Benham there was still one wanting.
The Amanda he had loved most wonderfully was that Amanda in armour
who had walked with him through the wilderness of the world along
the road to Chichester--and that Amanda came back to him no more.
Amanda too was making her observations and discoveries.
These moods of his perplexed her; she was astonished to find he was
becoming irritable; she felt that he needed a firm but gentle
discipline in his deportment as a lover. At first he had been
perfect. . . .
But Amanda was more prepared for human inconsecutiveness than
Benham, because she herself was inconsecutive, and her
dissatisfaction with his irritations and preoccupation broadened to
no general discontent. He had seemed perfect and he wasn't. So
nothing was perfect. And he had to be managed, just as one must
manage a dog or a cousin or a mother or a horse. Anyhow she had got
him, she had no doubt that she held him by a thousand ties, the
spotless leopard had him between her teeth, he was a prisoner in the
dusk of her hair, and the world was all one vast promise of
But the raid into the Balkans was not the tremendous success she had
expected it to be. They had adventures, but they were not the
richly coloured, mediaeval affairs she had anticipated. For the
most part until Benham broke loose beyond Ochrida they were
adventures in discomfort. In those remote parts of Europe inns die
away and cease, and it had never occurred to Amanda that inns could
die away anywhere. She had thought that they just became very
simple and natural and quaint. And she had thought that when
benighted people knocked at a door it would presently open
hospitably. She had not expected shots at random from the window.
And it is not usual in Albania generally for women, whether they are
Christian or Moslem, to go about unveiled; when they do so it leads
to singular manifestations. The moral sense of the men is shocked
and staggered, and they show it in many homely ways. Small boys at
that age when feminine beauty does not yet prevail with them, pelt.
Also in Mahometan districts they pelt men who do not wear fezzes,
while occasionally Christians of the shawl-headed or skull-cap
persuasions will pelt a fez. Sketching is always a peltable or
mobable offence, as being contrary to the Koran, and sitting down
tempts the pelter. Generally they pelt. The dogs of Albania are
numerous, big, dirty, white dogs, large and hostile, and they attack
with little hesitation. The women of Albania are secluded and
remote, and indisposed to be of service to an alien sister. Roads
are infrequent and most bridges have broken down. No bridge has
been repaired since the later seventeenth century, and no new bridge
has been made since the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. There
are no shops at all. The scenery is magnificent but precipitous,
and many of the high roads are difficult to trace. And there is
rain. In Albania there is sometimes very heavy rain.
Yet in spite of these drawbacks they spent some splendid hours in
their exploration of that wild lost country beyond the Adriatic
headlands. There was the approach to Cattaro for example, through
an arm of the sea, amazingly beautiful on either shore, that wound
its way into the wild mountains and ended in a deep blue bay under
the tremendous declivity of Montenegro. The quay, with its trees
and lateen craft, ran along under the towers and portcullised gate
of the old Venetian wall, within clustered the town, and then the
fortifications zigzagged up steeply to a monstrous fantastic
fortress perched upon a great mountain headland that overhung the
town. Behind it the rocks, slashed to and fro with the road to
Cettinje, continued to ascend into blue haze, upward and upward
until they became a purple curtain that filled half the heavens.
The paved still town was squalid by day, but in the evening it
became theatrically incredible, with an outdoor cafe amidst flowers
and creepers, a Hungarian military band, a rabble of promenaders
like a stage chorus in gorgeous costumes and a great gibbous yellow
And there was Kroia, which Benham and Amanda saw first through the
branches of the great trees that bordered the broad green track they
were following. The town and its castle were poised at a tremendous
height, sunlit and brilliant against a sombre mass of storm cloud,
over vast cliffs and ravines. Kroia continued to be beautiful
through a steep laborious approach up to the very place itself, a
clustering group of houses and bazaars crowned with a tower and a
minaret, and from a painted corridor upon this crest they had a
wonderful view of the great seaward levels, and even far away the
blue sea itself stretching between Scutari and Durazzo. The eye
fell in succession down the stages of a vast and various descent, on
the bazaars and tall minarets of the town, on jagged rocks and
precipices, on slopes of oak forest and slopes of olive woods, on
blue hills dropping away beyond blue hills to the coast. And behind
them when they turned they saw great mountains, sullenly
magnificent, cleft into vast irregular masses, dense with woods
below and grim and desolate above. . . .
These were unforgettable scenes, and so too was the wild lonely
valley through which they rode to Ochrida amidst walnut and chestnut
trees and scattered rocks, and the first vision of that place
itself, with its fertile levels dotted with sheep and cattle, its
castle and clustering mosques, its spacious blue lake and the great
mountains rising up towards Olympus under the sun. And there was
the first view of the blue Lake of Presba seen between silvery beech
stems, and that too had Olympus in the far background, plain now and
clear and unexpectedly snowy. And there were midday moments when
they sat and ate under vines and heard voices singing very
pleasantly, and there were forest glades and forest tracks in a
great variety of beauty with mountains appearing through their
parted branches, there were ilex woods, chestnut woods, beech woods,
and there were strings of heavily-laden mules staggering up torrent-
worn tracks, and strings of blue-swathed mysterious-eyed women with
burthens on their heads passing silently, and white remote houses
and ruins and deep gorges and precipices and ancient half-ruinous
bridges over unruly streams. And if there was rain there was also
the ending of rain, rainbows, and the piercing of clouds by the
sun's incandescence, and sunsets and the moon, first full, then new
and then growing full again as the holiday wore on.
They found tolerable accommodation at Cattaro and at Cettinje and at
a place halfway between them. It was only when they had secured a
guide and horses, and pushed on into the south-east of Montenegro
that they began to realize the real difficulties of their journey.
They aimed for a place called Podgoritza, which had a partially
justifiable reputation for an inn, they missed the road and spent
the night in the open beside a fire, rolled in the blankets they had
very fortunately bought in Cettinje. They supped on biscuits and
Benham's brandy flask. It chanced to be a fine night, and, drawn
like moths by the fire, four heavily-armed mountaineers came out of
nowhere, sat down beside Benham and Amanda, rolled cigarettes,
achieved conversation in bad Italian through the muleteer and
awaited refreshment. They approved of the brandy highly, they
finished it, and towards dawn warmed to song. They did not sing
badly, singing in chorus, but it appeared to Amanda that the hour
might have been better chosen. In the morning they were agreeably
surprised to find one of the Englishmen was an Englishwoman, and
followed every accessible detail of her toilette with great
interest. They were quite helpful about breakfast when the trouble
was put to them; two vanished over a crest and reappeared with some
sour milk, a slabby kind of bread, goat's cheese young but hardened,
and coffee and the means of making coffee, and they joined
spiritedly in the ensuing meal. It ought to have been
extraordinarily good fun, this camp under the vast heavens and these
wild visitors, but it was not such fun as it ought to have been
because both Amanda and Benham were extremely cold, stiff, sleepy,
grubby and cross, and when at last they were back in the way to
Podgoritza and had parted, after some present-giving from their
chance friends, they halted in a sunlit grassy place, rolled
themselves up in their blankets and recovered their arrears of
Podgoritza was their first experience of a khan, those oriental
substitutes for hotels, and it was a deceptively good khan, indeed
it was not a khan at all, it was an inn; it provided meals, it had a
kind of bar, or at any rate a row of bottles and glasses, it
possessed an upper floor with rooms, separate rooms, opening on to a
gallery. The room had no beds but it had a shelf about it on which
Amanda and Benham rolled up in their blankets and slept. "We can do
this sort of thing all right," said Amanda and Benham. "But we
mustn't lose the way again."
"In Scutari," said Benham, "we will get an extra horse and a tent."
The way presently became a lake and they reached Scutari by boat
towards the dawn of the next day. . . .
The extra horse involved the addition of its owner, a small
suspicious Latin Christian, to the company, and of another horse for
him and an ugly almost hairless boy attendant. Moreover the British
consul prevailed with Benham to accept the services of a picturesque
Arnaut CAVASSE, complete with a rifle, knives, and other implements
and the name of Giorgio. And as they got up into the highlands
beyond Scutari they began to realize the deceitfulness of Podgoritza
and the real truth about khans. Their next one they reached after a
rainy evening, and it was a cavernous room with a floor of indurated
mud and full of eye-stinging wood-smoke and wind and the smell of
beasts, unpartitioned, with a weakly hostile custodian from whom no
food could be got but a little goat's flesh and bread. The meat
Giorgio stuck upon a skewer in gobbets like cats-meat and cooked
before the fire. For drink there was coffee and raw spirits.
Against the wall in one corner was a slab of wood rather like the
draining board in a scullery, and on this the guests were expected
to sleep. The horses and the rest of the party camped loosely about
the adjacent corner after a bitter dispute upon some unknown point
between the horse owner and the custodian.
Amanda and Benham were already rolled up on their slanting board
like a couple of chrysalids when other company began to arrive
through the open door out of the moonlight, drawn thither by the
report of a travelling Englishwoman.
They were sturdy men in light coloured garments adorned
ostentatiously with weapons, they moved mysteriously about in the
firelit darknesses and conversed in undertones with Giorgio.
Giorgio seemed to have considerable powers of exposition and a gift
for social organization. Presently he came to Benham and explained
that raki was available and that hospitality would do no harm;
Benham and Amanda sat up and various romantic figures with splendid
moustaches came forward and shook hands with him, modestly ignoring
Amanda. There was drinking, in which Benham shared, incomprehensible
compliments, much ineffective saying of "BUONA NOTTE," and at last
Amanda and Benham counterfeited sleep. This seemed to remove a
check on the conversation and a heated discussion in tense undertones
went on, it seemed interminably. . . . Probably very few aspects
of Benham and Amanda were ignored. . . . Towards morning the
twanging of a string proclaimed the arrival of a querulous-faced
minstrel with a sort of embryonic one-stringed horse-headed fiddle,
and after a brief parley singing began, a long high-pitched solo.
The fiddle squealed pitifully under the persuasion of a semicircular
bow. Two heads were lifted enquiringly.
The singer had taken up his position at their feet and faced them.
It was a compliment.
"OH!" said Amanda, rolling over.
The soloist obliged with three songs, and then, just as day was
breaking, stopped abruptly and sprawled suddenly on the floor as if
he had been struck asleep. He was vocal even in his sleep. A cock
in the far corner began crowing and was answered by another
outside. . . .
But this does not give a full account of the animation of the khan.
"OH!" said Amanda, rolling over again with the suddenness of
"They're worse than in Scutari," said Benham, understanding her
"It isn't days and nights we are having," said Benham a few days
later, "it's days and nightmares."
But both he and Amanda had one quality in common. The deeper their
discomfort the less possible it was to speak of turning back from
the itinerary they had planned. . . .
They met no robbers, though an excited little English Levantine in
Scutari had assured them they would do so and told a vivid story of
a ride to Ipek, a delay on the road due to a sudden inexplicable
lameness of his horse after a halt for refreshment, a political
discussion that delayed him, his hurry through the still twilight to
make up for lost time, the coming on of night and the sudden silent
apparition out of the darkness of the woods about the road of a
dozen armed men each protruding a gun barrel. "Sometimes they will
wait for you at a ford or a broken bridge," he said. "In the
mountains they rob for arms. They assassinate the Turkish soldiers
even. It is better to go unarmed unless you mean to fight for
it. . . . Have you got arms?"
"Just a revolver," said Benham.
But it was after that that he closed with Giorgio.
If they found no robbers in Albania, they met soon enough with
bloodshed. They came to a village where a friend of a friend of
Giorgio's was discovered, and they slept at his house in preference
to the unclean and crowded khan. Here for the first time Amanda
made the acquaintance of Albanian women and was carried off to the
woman's region at the top of the house, permitted to wash, closely
examined, shown a baby and confided in as generously as gesture and
some fragments of Italian would permit. Benham slept on a rug on
the first floor in a corner of honour beside the wood fire. There
had been much confused conversation and some singing, he was dog-
tired and slept heavily, and when presently he was awakened by
piercing screams he sat up in a darkness that seemed to belong
neither to time nor place. . . .
Near his feet was an ashen glow that gave no light.
His first perplexity gave way to dismay at finding no Amanda by his
side. "Amanda!" he cried. . . .
Her voice floated down through a chink in the floor above. "What
can it be, Cheetah?"
Then: "It's coming nearer."
The screaming continued, heart-rending, eviscerating shrieks.
Benham, still confused, lit a match. All the men about him were
stirring or sitting up and listening, their faces showing distorted
and ugly in the flicker of his light. "CHE E?" he tried. No one
answered. Then one by one they stood up and went softly to the
ladder that led to the stable-room below. Benham struck a second
match and a third.
"Giorgio!" he called.
The cavasse made an arresting gesture and followed discreetly and
noiselessly after the others, leaving Benham alone in the dark.
Benham heard their shuffling patter, one after the other, down the
ladder, the sounds of a door being unbarred softly, and then no
other sound but that incessant shrieking in the darkness.
Had they gone out? Were they standing at the door looking out into
the night and listening?
Amanda had found the chink and her voice sounded nearer.
"It's a woman," she said.
The shrieking came nearer and nearer, long, repeated, throat-tearing
shrieks. Far off there was a great clamour of dogs. And there was
another sound, a whisper--?
The shrieks seemed to turn into a side street and receded. The
tension of listening relaxed. Men's voices sounded below in
question and answer. Dogs close at hand barked shortly and then
Benham seemed to himself to be sitting alone for an interminable
time. He lit another match and consulted his watch. It was four
o'clock and nearly dawn. . . .
Then slowly and stumbling up the ladder the men began to return to
"Ask them what it is," urged Amanda.
But for a time not even Giorgio would understand Benham's questions.
There seemed to be a doubt whether he ought to know. The shrieking
approached again and then receded. Giorgio came and stood, a vague
thoughtful figure, by the embers of the fire. Explanation dropped
from him reluctantly. It was nothing. Some one had been killed:
that was all. It was a vendetta. A man had been missing overnight,
and this morning his brother who had been prowling and searching
with some dogs had found him, or rather his head. It was on this
side of the ravine, thrown over from the other bank on which the
body sprawled stiffly, wet through, and now growing visible in the
gathering daylight. Yes--the voice was the man's wife. It was
raining hard. . . . There would be shrieking for nine days. Yes,
nine days. Confirmation with the fingers when Benham still fought
against the facts. Her friends and relatives would come and shriek
too. Two of the dead man's aunts were among the best keeners in the
whole land. They could keen marvellously. It was raining too hard
to go on. . . . The road would be impossible in rain. . . . Yes it
was very melancholy. Her house was close at hand. Perhaps twenty
or thirty women would join her. It was impossible to go on until it
had stopped raining. It would be tiresome, but what could one do? . . .
As they sat upon the parapet of a broken bridge on the road between
Elbassan and Ochrida Benham was moved to a dissertation upon the
condition of Albania and the politics of the Balkan peninsula.
"Here we are," he said, "not a week from London, and you see the
sort of life that men live when the forces of civilization fail. We
have been close to two murders--"
"That little crowd in the square at Scutari-- That was a murder. I
didn't tell you at the time."
"But I knew it was," said Amanda.
"And you see the filth of it all, the toiling discomfort of it all.
There is scarcely a house here in all the land that is not filthier
and viler than the worst slum in London. No man ventures far from
his village without arms, everywhere there is fear. The hills are
impassable because of the shepherd's dogs. Over those hills a
little while ago a stranger was torn to pieces by dogs--and
partially eaten. Amanda, these dogs madden me. I shall let fly at
the beasts. The infernal indignity of it! But that is by the way.
You see how all this magnificent country lies waste with nothing but
this crawling, ugly mockery of human life."
"They sing," said Amanda.
"Yes," said Benham and reflected, "they do sing. I suppose singing
is the last thing left to men. When there is nothing else you can
still sit about and sing. Miners who have been buried in mines will
sing, people going down in ships."
"The Sussex labourers don't sing," said Amanda. "These people sing
"They would probably sing as well if they were civilized. Even if
they didn't I shouldn't care. All the rest of their lives is muddle
and cruelty and misery. Look at the women. There was that party of
bent creatures we met yesterday, carrying great bundles, carrying
even the men's cloaks and pipes, while their rascal husbands and
brothers swaggered behind. Look at the cripples we have seen and
the mutilated men. If we have met one man without a nose, we have
met a dozen. And stunted people. All these people are like evil
schoolboys; they do nothing but malicious mischief; there is nothing
adult about them but their voices; they are like the heroic dreams
of young ruffians in a penitentiary. You saw that man at Scutari in
the corner of the bazaar, the gorgeous brute, you admired him--."
"The man with the gold inlaid pistols and the diamonds on his
yataghan. He wanted to show them to us."
"Yes. You let him see you admired him."
"I liked the things on his stall."
"Well, he has killed nearly thirty people."
"Good Lord! NO! Assassinations. His shoemaker annoyed him by
sending in a bill. He went to the man's stall, found him standing
with his child in his arms and blew out his brains. He blundered
against a passer-by in the road and shot him. Those are his feats.
Sometimes his pistols go off in the bazaar just by accident."
"Does nobody kill him?"
"I wanted to," said Benham and became thoughtful for a time. "I
think I ought to have made some sort of quarrel. But then as I am
an Englishman he might have hesitated. He would have funked a
strange beast like me. And I couldn't have shot him if he had
hesitated. And if he hadn't--"
"But doesn't a blood feud come down on him?"
"It only comes down on his family. The shoemaker's son thought the
matter over and squared accounts by putting the muzzle of a gun into
the small of the back of our bully's uncle. It was easier that
way. . . . You see you're dealing with men of thirteen years old
or thereabouts, the boy who doesn't grow up."
"But doesn't the law--?"
"There's no law. Only custom and the Turkish tax collector.
"You see this is what men are where there is no power, no
discipline, no ruler, no responsibility. This is a masterless
world. This is pure democracy. This is the natural state of men.
This is the world of the bully and the brigand and assassin, the
world of the mud-pelter and brawler, the world of the bent woman,
the world of the flea and the fly, the open drain and the baying
dog. This is what the British sentimentalist thinks a noble state
"They fight for freedom."
"They fight among each other. There are their private feuds and
their village feuds and above all that great feud religion. In
Albania there is only one religion and that is hate. But there are
three churches for the better cultivation of hate and cruelty, the
Latin, the Greek and the Mahometan."
"But no one has ever conquered these people."
"Any one could, the Servians, the Bulgarians, the Greeks, the
Italians, the Austrians. Why, they can't even shoot! It's just the
balance of power and all that foolery keeps this country a roadless
wilderness. Good God, how I tire of it! These men who swagger and
stink, their brawling dogs, their greasy priests and dervishes, the
down-at-heel soldiers, the bribery and robbery, the cheating over
the money. . . ."
He slipped off the parapet, too impatient to sit any longer, and
began to pace up and down in the road.
"One marvels that no one comes to clear up this country, one itches
to be at the job, and then one realizes that before one can begin
here, one must get to work back there, where the fools and pedants
of WELT POLITIK scheme mischief one against another. This country
frets me. I can't see any fun in it, can't see the humour of it.
And the people away there know no better than to play off tribe
against tribe, sect against sect, one peasant prejudice against
another. Over this pass the foolery grows grimmer and viler. We
shall come to where the Servian plots against the Bulgarian and the
Greek against both, and the Turk, with spasmodic massacres and
indulgences, broods over the brew. Every division is subdivided.
There are two sorts of Greek church, Exarchic, Patriarchic, both
teaching by threat and massacre. And there is no one, no one, with
the sense to over-ride all these squalid hostilities. All those
fools away there in London and Vienna and St. Petersburg and Rome
take sides as though these beastly tribes and leagues and
superstitions meant anything but blank, black, damnable ignorance.
One fool stands up for the Catholic Albanians, another finds heroes
in the Servians, another talks of Brave Little Montenegro, or the
Sturdy Bulgarian, or the Heroic Turk. There isn't a religion in the
whole Balkan peninsula, there isn't a tribal or national sentiment
that deserves a moment's respect from a sane man. They're things
like niggers' nose-rings and Chinese secret societies; childish
things, idiot things that have to go. Yet there is no one who will
preach the only possible peace, which is the peace of the world-
state, the open conspiracy of all the sane men in the world against
the things that break us up into wars and futilities. And here am
I--who have the light--WANDERING! Just wandering!"
He shrugged his shoulders and came to stare at the torrent under the
"You're getting ripe for London, Cheetah," said Amanda softly.
"I want somehow to get to work, to get my hands on definite things."
"How can we get back?"
She had to repeat her question presently.
"We can go on. Over the hills is Ochrida and then over another pass
is Presba, and from there we go down into Monastir and reach a
railway and get back to the world of our own times again."
But before they reached the world of their own times Macedonia was
to show them something grimmer than Albania.
They were riding through a sunlit walnut wood beyond Ochrida when
they came upon the thing.
The first they saw of it looked like a man lying asleep on a grassy
bank. But he lay very still indeed, he did not look up, he did not
stir as they passed, the pose of his hand was stiff, and when Benham
glanced back at him, he stifled a little cry of horror. For this
man had no face and the flies had been busy upon him. . . .
Benham caught Amanda's bridle so that she had to give her attention
to her steed.
"Ahead!" he said, "Ahead! Look, a village!"
(Why the devil didn't they bury the man? Why?
And that fool Giorgio and the others were pulling up and beginning
to chatter. After all she might look back.)
Through the trees now they could see houses. He quickened his pace
and jerked Amanda's horse forward. . . .
But the village was a still one. Not a dog barked.
Here was an incredible village without even a dog!
And then, then they saw some more people lying about. A woman lay
in a doorway. Near her was something muddy that might have been a
child, beyond were six men all spread out very neatly in a row with
their faces to the sky.
"Cheetah!" cried Amanda, with her voice going up. "They've been
killed. Some one has killed them."
Benham halted beside her and stared stupidly. "It's a band," he
said. "It's--propaganda. Greeks or Turks or Bulgarians."
"But their feet and hands are fastened! And-- . . . WHAT HAVE THEY
BEEN DOING TO THEM? . . ."
"I want to kill," cried Benham. "Oh! I want to kill people. Come
on, Amanda! It blisters one's eyes. Come away. Come away! Come!"
Her face was white and her eyes terror-stricken. She obeyed him
mechanically. She gave one last look at those bodies. . . .
Down the deep-rutted soil of the village street they clattered.
They came to houses that had been set on fire. . . .
"What is that hanging from a tree?" cried Amanda. "Oh, oh!"
"Come on. . . ."
Behind them rode the others scared and hurrying.
The sunlight had become the light of hell. There was no air but
horror. Across Benham's skies these fly-blown trophies of devilry
dangled mockingly in the place of God. He had no thought but to get
Presently they encountered a detachment of Turkish soldiers, very
greasy and ragged, with worn-out boots and yellow faces, toiling up
the stony road belatedly to the village. Amanda and Benham riding
one behind the other in a stricken silence passed this labouring
column without a gesture, but presently they heard the commander
stopping and questioning Giorgio. . . .
Then Giorgio and the others came clattering to overtake them.
Giorgio was too full to wait for questions. He talked eagerly to
It must have happened yesterday, he explained. They were
Bulgarians--traitors. They had been converted to the Patriarchists
by the Greeks--by a Greek band, that is to say. They had betrayed
one of their own people. Now a Bulgarian band had descended upon
them. Bulgarian bands it seemed were always particularly rough on
Bulgarian-speaking Patriarchists. . . .
That night they slept in a dirty little room in a peasant's house in
Resnia, and in the middle of the night Amanda woke up with a start
and heard Benham talking. He seemed to be sitting up as he talked.
But he was not talking to her and his voice sounded strange.
"Flies," he said, "in the sunlight!"
He was silent for a time and then he repeated the same words.