Part 1 out of 5
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THE SECRET PLACES OF THE HEART
BY H. G. WELLS
1. THE CONSULTATION
2. LADY HARDY
3. THE DEPARTURE
4. AT MAIDENHEAD
5. IN THE LAND OF THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLES
6. THE ENCOUNTER AT STONEHENGE
8. FULL MOON
9. THE LAST DAYS OF SIR RICHMOND HARDY
THE SECRET PLACES OF THE HEART
CHAPTER THE FIRST
The maid was a young woman of great natural calmness; she was
accustomed to let in visitors who had this air of being
annoyed and finding one umbrella too numerous for them. It
mattered nothing to her that the gentleman was asking for Dr.
Martineau as if he was asking for something with an
unpleasant taste. Almost imperceptibly she relieved him of
his umbrella and juggled his hat and coat on to a massive
mahogany stand. "What name, Sir?" she asked, holding open the
door of the consulting room.
"Hardy," said the gentleman, and then yielding it reluctantly
with its distasteful three-year-old honour, "Sir Richmond
The door closed softly behind him and he found himself in
undivided possession of the large indifferent apartment in
which the nervous and mental troubles of the outer world
eddied for a time on their way to the distinguished
specialist. A bowl of daffodils, a handsome bookcase
containing bound Victorian magazines and antiquated medical
works, some paintings of Scotch scenery, three big armchairs,
a buhl clock, and a bronze Dancing Faun, by their want of any
collective idea enhanced rather than mitigated the
promiscuous disregard of the room. He drifted to the midmost
of the three windows and stared out despondently at Harley
For a minute or so he remained as still and limp as an empty
jacket on its peg, and then a gust of irritation stirred him.
"Damned fool I was to come here," he said..."DAMNED fool!
"Rush out of the place? . . .
"I've given my name." . . .
He heard the door behind him open and for a moment pretended
not to hear. Then he turned round. "I don't see what you can
do for me," he said.
"I'm sure _I_ don't," said the doctor. "People come here and
There was something reassuringly inaggressive about the
figure that confronted Sir Richmond. Dr. Martineau's height
wanted at least three inches of Sir Richmond's five feet
eleven; he was humanly plump, his face was round and pink and
cheerfully wistful, a little suggestive of the full moon, of
what the full moon might be if it could get fresh air and
exercise. Either his tailor had made his trousers too short
or he had braced them too high so that he seemed to have
grown out of them quite recently. Sir Richmond had been
dreading an encounter with some dominating and mesmeric
personality; this amiable presence dispelled his preconceived
Dr. Martineau, a little out of breath as though he had been
running upstairs, with his hands in his trouser pockets,
seemed intent only on disavowals. "People come here and talk.
It does them good, and sometimes I am able to offer a
"Talking to someone who understands a little," he expanded
"I'm jangling damnably...overwork.. . . ."
"Not overwork," Dr. Martineau corrected. "Not overwork.
Overwork never hurt anyone. Fatigue stops that. A man can
work--good straightforward work, without internal resistance,
until he drops,--and never hurt himself. You must be working
"Friction! I'm like a machine without oil. I'm grinding to
death. . . . And it's so DAMNED important I SHOULDN'T break
down. It's VITALLY important."
He stressed his words and reinforced them with a quivering
gesture of his upraised clenched hand. "My temper's in rags.
I explode at any little thing. I'm RAW. I can't work steadily
for ten minutes and I can't leave off working."
"Your name," said the doctor, "is familiar. Sir Richmond
Hardy? In the papers. What is it?"
"Of course! The Fuel Commission. Stupid of me! We certainly
can't afford to have you ill."
"I AM ill. But you can't afford to have me absent from that
"Your technical knowledge--"
"Technical knowledge be damned! Those men mean to corner the
national fuel supply. And waste it! For their profits. That's
what I'm up against. You don't know the job I have to do. You
don't know what a Commission of that sort is. The moral
tangle of it. You don't know how its possibilities and
limitations are canvassed and schemed about, long before a
single member is appointed. Old Cassidy worked the whole
thing with the prime minister. I can see that now as plain as
daylight. I might have seen it at first. . . . Three experts
who'd been got at; they thought _I_'d been got at; two Labour
men who'd do anything you wanted them to do provided you
called them 'level-headed.' Wagstaffe the socialist art
critic who could be trusted to play the fool and make
nationalization look silly, and the rest mine owners, railway
managers, oil profiteers, financial adventurers. . . . "
He was fairly launched. "It's the blind folly of it! In the
days before the war it was different. Then there was
abundance. A little grabbing or cornering was all to the
good. All to the good. It prevented things being used up too
fast. And the world was running by habit; the inertia was
tremendous. You could take all sorts of liberties. But all
this is altered. We're living in a different world. The
public won't stand things it used to stand. It's a new
public. It's--wild. It'll smash up the show if they go too
far. Everything short and running shorter--food, fuel,
material. But these people go on. They go on as though
nothing had changed. . . . Strikes, Russia, nothing will warn
them. There are men on that Commission who would steal the
brakes off a mountain railway just before they went down in
it. . . . It's a struggle with suicidal imbeciles. It's--!
But I'm talking! I didn't come here to talk Fuel."
"You think there may be a smash-up?"
"I lie awake at night, thinking of it."
"A social smash-up."
"Economic. Social. Yes. Don't you?"
"A social smash-up seems to me altogether a possibility. All
sorts of people I find think that," said the doctor. "All
sorts of people lie awake thinking of it."
"I wish some of my damned Committee would!"
The doctor turned his eyes to the window. "I lie awake too,"
he said and seemed to reflect. But he was observing his
patient acutely--with his ears.
"But you see how important it is," said Sir Richmond, and
left his sentence unfinished.
"I'll do what I can for you," said the doctor, and considered
swiftly what line of talk he had best follow.
"This sense of a coming smash is epidemic," said the doctor.
"It's at the back of all sorts of mental trouble. It is a new
state of mind. Before the war it was abnormal--a phase of
neurasthenia. Now it is almost the normal state with whole
classes of intelligent people. Intelligent, I say. The others
always have been casual and adventurous and always will be. A
loss of confidence in the general background of life. So that
we seem to float over abysses."
"We do," said Sir Richmond.
"And we have nothing but the old habits and ideas acquired in
the days of our assurance. There is a discord, a jarring."
The doctor pursued his train of thought. "A new, raw and
dreadful sense of responsibility for the universe.
Accompanied by a realization that the job is overwhelmingly
too big for us."
"We've got to stand up to the job," said Sir Richmond.
"Anyhow, what else is there to do? We MAY keep things
together. . . . "I've got to do my bit. And if only I could
hold myself at it, I could beat those fellows. But that's
where the devil of it comes in. Never have I been so desirous
to work well in my life. And never have I been so slack and
weak-willed and inaccurate. ... Sloppy. . . . Indolent. . . .
VISCIOUS! . . . "
The doctor was about to speak, but Sir Richmond interrupted
him. "What's got hold of me? What's got hold of me? I used to
work well enough. It's as if my will had come untwisted and
was ravelling out into separate strands. I've lost my unity.
I'm not a man but a mob. I've got to recover my vigour. At
Again as the doctor was about to speak the word was taken out
of his mouth. "And what I think of it, Dr. Martineau, is
this: it's fatigue. It's mental and moral fatigue. Too much
effort. On too high a level. And too austere. One strains and
fags. FLAGS! 'Flags' I meant to say. One strains and flags
and then the lower stuff in one, the subconscious stuff,
There was a flavour of popularized psychoanalysis about this,
and the doctor drew in the corners of his mouth and gave his
head a critical slant. "M'm." But this only made Sir Richmond
raise his voice and quicken his speech. "I want," he said, "a
good tonic. A pick-me-up, a stimulating harmless drug of some
sort. That's indicated anyhow. To begin with. Something to
pull me together, as people say. Bring me up to the scratch
"I don't like the use of drugs," said the doctor.
The expectation of Sir Richmond's expression changed to
disappointment. "But that's not reasonable," he cried.
"That's not reasonable. That's superstition. Call a thing a
drug and condemn it! Everything is a drug. Everything that
affects you. Food stimulates or tranquillizes. Drink. Noise
is a stimulant and quiet an opiate. What is life but response
to stimulants? Or reaction after them? When I'm exhausted I
want food. When I'm overactive and sleepless I want
tranquillizing. When I'm dispersed I want pulling together."
"But we don't know how to use drugs," the doctor objected.
"But you ought to know."
Dr. Martineau fixed his eye on a first floor window sill on
the opposite side of Harley Street. His manner suggested a
lecturer holding on to his theme.
"A day will come when we shall be able to manipulate drugs--
all sorts of drugs--and work them in to our general way of
living. I have no prejudice against them at all. A time will
come when we shall correct our moods, get down to our
reserves of energy by their help, suspend fatigue, put off
sleep during long spells of exertion. At some sudden crisis
for example. When we shall know enough to know just how far
to go with this, that or the other stuff. And how to wash out
its after effects . . . . I quite agree with you,--in
principle . . . . But that time hasn't come yet. . . .
Decades of research yet. . . . If we tried that sort of thing
now, we should be like children playing with poisons and
explosives. . . . It's out of the question."
"I've been taking a few little things already. Easton Syrup
"Strychnine. It carries you for a time and drops you by the
way. Has it done you any good--any NETT good? It has--I can
see--broken your sleep."
The doctor turned round again to his patient and looked up
into his troubled face.
"Given physiological trouble I don't mind resorting to a
drug. Given structural injury I don't mind surgery. But
except for any little mischief your amateur drugging may have
done you do not seem to me to be either sick or injured.
You've no trouble either of structure or material. You are--
worried--ill in your mind, and otherwise perfectly sound.
It's the current of your thoughts, fermenting. If the trouble
is in the mental sphere, why go out of the mental sphere for
a treatment? Talk and thought; these are your remedies. Cool
deliberate thought. You're unravelled. You say it yourself.
Drugs will only make this or that unravelled strand behave
disproportionately. You don't want that. You want to take
stock of yourself as a whole--find out where you stand.
"But the Fuel Commission?"
"Is it sitting now?"
"Adjourned till after Whitsuntide. But there's heaps of work
to be done.
"Still," he added, "this is my one chance of any treatment."
The doctor made a little calculation. "Three weeks. . . .
It's scarcely time enough to begin."
"You're certain that no regimen of carefully planned and
"Dismiss the idea. Dismiss it." He decided to take a plunge.
"I've just been thinking of a little holiday for myself. But
I'd like to see you through this. And if I am to see you
through, there ought to be some sort of beginning now. In
this three weeks. Suppose. . . . "
Sir Richmond leapt to his thought. "I'm free to go anywhere."
"Golf would drive a man of your composition mad?"
"That's that. Still--. The country must be getting beautiful
again now,--after all the rain we have had. I have a little
two-seater. I don't know. . . . The repair people promise to
release it before Friday."
"But _I_ have a choice of two very comfortable little cars.
Why not be my guest?"
"That might be more convenient."
"I'd prefer my own car."
"Then what do you say?"
"I agree. Peripatetic treatment."
"South and west. We could talk on the road. In the evenings.
By the wayside. We might make the beginnings of a treatment.
. . . A simple tour. Nothing elaborate. You wouldn't bring a
"I always drive myself."
"There's something very pleasant, said the doctor, envisaging
his own rash proposal, "in travelling along roads you don't
know and seeing houses and parks and villages and towns for
which you do not feel in the slightest degree responsible.
They hide all their troubles from the road. Their backyards
are tucked away out of sight, they show a brave face; there's
none of the nasty self-betrayals of the railway approach. And
everything will be fresh still. There will still be a lot of
apple-blossom--and bluebells. . . . And all the while we can
be getting on with your affair."
He was back at the window now. "I want the holiday myself,"
He addressed Sir Richmond over his shoulder. "Have you noted
how fagged and unstable EVERYBODY is getting? Everybody
intelligent, I mean."
"It's an infernally worrying time."
"Exactly. Everybody suffers."
"It's no GOOD going on in the old ways--"
"It isn't. And it's a frightful strain to get into any new
ways. So here we are.
"A man," the doctor expanded, "isn't a creature in vacuo.
He's himself and his world. He's a surface of contact, a
system of adaptations, between his essential self and his
surroundings. Well, our surroundings have become--how shall I
put it?--a landslide. The war which seemed such a definable
catastrophe in 1914 was, after all, only the first loud crack
and smash of the collapse. The war is over and--nothing is
over. This peace is a farce, reconstruction an exploded
phrase. The slide goes on,--it goes, if anything, faster,
without a sign of stopping. And all our poor little
adaptations! Which we have been elaborating and trusting all
our lives! . . . One after another they fail us. We are
stripped. . . . We have to begin all over again. . . . I'm
fifty-seven and I feel at times nowadays like a chicken new
hatched in a thunderstorm."
The doctor walked towards the bookcase and turned.
"Everybody is like that...it isn't--what are you going to do?
It isn't--what am I going to do? It's--what are we all going
to do! . . Lord! How safe and established everything was in
1910, say. We talked of this great war that was coming, but
nobody thought it would come. We had been born in peace,
comparatively speaking; we had been brought up in peace.
There was talk of wars. There were wars--little wars--that
altered nothing material. . . . Consols used to be at 112 and
you fed your household on ten shillings a head a week. You
could run over all Europe, barring Turkey and Russia, without
even a passport. You could get to Italy in a day. Never were
life and comfort so safe--for respectable people. And we WERE
respectable people. . . . That was the world that made us
what we are. That was the sheltering and friendly greenhouse
in which we grew. We fitted our minds to that. . . . And here
we are with the greenhouse falling in upon us lump by lump,
smash and clatter, the wild winds of heaven tearing in
through the gaps."
Upstairs on Dr. Martineau's desk lay the typescript of the
opening chapters of a book that was intended to make a great
splash in the world, his PSYCHOLOGY OF A NEW AGE. He had his
"We said: 'This system will always go on. We needn't bother
about it.' We just planned our lives accordingly. It was like
a bird building its nest of frozen snakes. My father left me
a decent independence. I developed my position; I have lived
between here and the hospital, doing good work, enormously
interested, prosperous, mildly distinguished. I had been born
and brought up on the good ship Civilization. I assumed that
someone else was steering the ship all right. I never knew; I
"Nor did I" said Sir Richmond, "but--"
"And nobody was steering the ship," the doctor went on.
"Nobody had ever steered the ship. It was adrift."
"I realized that. I--"
"It is a new realization. Always hitherto men have lived by
faith--as children do, as the animals do. At the back of the
healthy mind, human or animal, has been this persuasion:
'This is all right. This will go on. If I keep the rule, if I
do so and so, all will be well. I need not trouble further;
things are cared for.'"
"If we could go on like that!" said Sir Richmond.
"We can't. That faith is dead. The war--and the peace--have
The doctor's round face became speculative. His resemblance
to the full moon increased. He seemed to gaze at remote
things. "It may very well be that man is no more capable of
living out of that atmosphere of assurance than a tadpole is
of living out of water. His mental existence may be
conditional on that. Deprived of it he may become incapable
of sustained social life. He may become frantically self-
seeking--incoherent . . . a stampede. . . . Human sanity
"That's our trouble," the doctor completed. "Our fundamental
trouble. All our confidences and our accustomed adaptations
are destroyed. We fit together no longer. We are--loose. We
don't know where we are nor what to do. The psychology of the
former time fails to give safe responses, and the psychology
of the New Age has still to develop."
"That is all very well," said Sir Richmond in the resolute
voice of one who will be pent no longer. "That is all very
well as far as it goes. But it does not cover my case. I am
not suffering from inadaptation. I HAVE adapted. I have
thought things out. I think--much as you do. Much as you do.
So it's not that. But-- . . . Mind you, I am perfectly clear
where I am. Where we are. What is happening to us all is the
breakup of the entire system. Agreed! We have to make another
system or perish amidst the wreckage. I see that clearly.
Science and plan have to replace custom and tradition in
human affairs. Soon. Very soon. Granted. Granted. We used to
say all that. Even before the war. Now we mean it. We've
muddled about in the old ways overlong. Some new sort of
world, planned and scientific, has to be got going.
Civilization renewed. Rebuilding civilization--while the
premises are still occupied and busy. It's an immense
enterprise, but it is the only thing to be done. In some ways
it's an enormously attractive enterprise. Inspiring. It grips
my imagination. I think of the other men who must be at work.
Working as I do rather in the dark as yet. With whom I shall
presently join up. . . The attempt may fail; all things human
may fail; but on the other hand it may succeed. I never had
such faith in anything as I have in the rightness of the work
I am doing now. I begin at that. But here is where my
difficulty comes in. The top of my brain, my innermost self
says all that I have been saying, but-- The rest of me
won't follow. The rest of me refuses to attend, forgets,
The word irritated Sir Richmond. "Not 'exactly' at all.
'Amazingly,' if you like. . . . I have this unlimited faith
in our present tremendous necessity--for work--for devotion;
I believe my share, the work I am doing, is essential to the
whole thing--and I work sluggishly. I work reluctantly. I
"Exact--" The doctor checked himself . "All that is
explicable. Indeed it is. Listen for a moment to me! Consider
what you are. Consider what we are. Consider what a man is
before you marvel at his ineptitudes of will. Face the
accepted facts. Here is a creature not ten thousand
generations from the ape, his ancestor. Not ten thousand. And
that ape again, not a score of thousands from the monkey, his
forebear. A man's body, his bodily powers, are just the body
and powers of an ape, a little improved, a little adapted to
novel needs. That brings me to my point. CAN HIS MIND AND
WILL BE ANYTHING BETTER? For a few generations, a few
hundreds at most, knowledge and wide thought have flared out
on the darknesses of life. . . . But the substance of man is
ape still. He may carry a light in his brain, but his
instincts move in the darkness. Out of that darkness he draws
"Or fails to draw them," said Sir Richmond.
"Or fails. . . . And that is where these new methods of
treatment come in. We explore that failure. Together. What
the psychoanalyst does-and I will confess that I owe much to
the psychoanalyst--what he does is to direct thwarted,
disappointed and perplexed people to the realities of their
own nature. Which they have been accustomed to ignore and
forget. They come to us with high ambitions or lovely
illusions about themselves, torn, shredded, spoilt. They are
morally denuded. Dreams they hate pursue them; abhorrent
desires draw them; they are the prey of irresistible yet
uncongenial impulses; they succumb to black despairs. The
first thing we ask them is this: 'What else could you
"What else could I expect?" Sir Richmond repeated, looking
down on him. "H'm!"
"The wonder is not that you are sluggish, reluctantly
unselfish, inattentive, spasmodic. The wonder is that you are
ever anything else. . . . Do you realize that a few million
generations ago, everything that stirs in us, everything that
exalts human life, self-devotions, heroisms, the utmost
triumphs of art, the love--for love it is--that makes you and
me care indeed for the fate and welfare of all this round
world, was latent in the body of some little lurking beast
that crawled and hid among the branches of vanished and
forgotten Mesozoic trees? A petty egg-laying, bristle-covered
beast it was, with no more of the rudiments of a soul than
bare hunger, weak lust and fear. . . . People always seem to
regard that as a curious fact of no practical importance. It
isn't: it's a vital fact of the utmost practical importance.
That is what you are made of. Why should you expect--because
a war and a revolution have shocked you--that you should
suddenly be able to reach up and touch the sky?"
"H'm!" said Sir Richmond. "Have I been touching the sky!"
"You are trying to play the part of an honest rich man."
"I don't care to see the whole system go smash."
"Exactly," said the doctor, before he could prevent himself.
"But is it any good to tell a man that the job he is
attempting is above him--that he is just a hairy reptile
twice removed--and all that sort of thing?"
"Well, it saves him from hoping too much and being too
greatly disappointed. It recalls him to the proportions of
the job. He gets something done by not attempting everything.
. . . And it clears him up. We get him to look into himself,
to see directly and in measurable terms what it is that puts
him wrong and holds him back. He's no longer vaguely
incapacitated. He knows."
"That's diagnosis. That's not treatment."
"Treatment by diagnosis. To analyze a mental knot is to untie
"You propose that I shall spend my time, until the Commission
meets, in thinking about myself. I wanted to forget myself."
"Like a man who tries to forget that his petrol is running
short and a cylinder missing fire. . . . No. Come back to the
question of what you are," said the doctor. "A creature of
the darkness with new lights. Lit and half-blinded by science
and the possibilities of controlling the world that it opens
out. In that light your will is all for service; you care
more for mankind than for yourself. You begin to understand
something of the self beyond your self. But it is a partial
and a shaded light as yet; a little area about you it makes
clear, the rest is still the old darkness--of millions of
intense and narrow animal generations. . . . You are like
someone who awakens out of an immemorial sleep to find
himself in a vast chamber, in a great and ancient house, a
great and ancient house high amidst frozen and lifeless
mountains--in a sunless universe. You are not alone in it.
You are not lord of all you survey. Your leadership is
disputed. The darkness even of the room you are in is full of
ancient and discarded but quite unsubjugated powers and
purposes. . . . They thrust ambiguous limbs and claws
suddenly out of the darkness into the light of your
attention. They snatch things out of your hand, they trip
your feet and jog your elbow. They crowd and cluster behind
you. Wherever your shadow falls, they creep right up to you,
creep upon you and struggle to take possession of you. The
souls of apes, monkeys, reptiles and creeping things haunt
the passages and attics and cellars of this living house in
which your consciousness has awakened . . . . "
The doctor gave this quotation from his unpublished book the
advantages of an abrupt break and a pause.
Sir Richmond shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "And you
propose a vermin hunt in the old tenement?"
"The modern man has to be master in his own house. He has to
take stock and know what is there."
"Three weeks of self vivisection."
"To begin with. Three weeks of perfect honesty with yourself.
As an opening. . . . It will take longer than that if we are
to go through with the job."
It is a considerable--process."
"Yet you shrink from simple things like drugs!"
"Has this sort of thing ever done anyone any good at all?"
"It has turned hundreds back to sanity and steady work."
"How frank are we going to be? How full are we going to be?
Anyhow--we can break off at any time. . . . We'll try it.
We'll try it. . . . And so for this journey into the west of
England. . . . And--if we can get there--I'm not sure that we
can get there--into the secret places of my heart.
CHAPTER THE SECOND
The patient left the house with much more self possession
than he had shown when entering it. Dr. Martineau had thrust
him back from his intenser prepossessions to a more
generalized view of himself, had made his troubles objective
and detached him from them. He could even find something
amusing now in his situation. He liked the immense scope of
the theoretical duet in which they had indulged. He felt that
most of it was entirely true--and, in some untraceable
manner, absurd. There were entertaining possibilities in the
prospect of the doctor drawing him out--he himself partly
assisting and partly resisting.
He was a man of extensive reservations. His private life was
in some respects exceptionally private.
"I don't confide . . . . Do I even confide in myself? I
imagine I do . . . . Is there anything in myself that I
haven't looked squarely in the face? . . . How much are we
going into? Even as regards facts?
"Does it really help a man--to see himself?. . ."
Such thoughts engaged him until he found himself in his
study. His desk and his writing table were piled high with a
heavy burthen of work. Still a little preoccupied with Dr.
Martineau's exposition, he began to handle this
confusion. . . .
At half past nine he found himself with three hours of good
work behind him. It had seemed like two. He had not worked
like this for many weeks. "This is very cheering," he said.
"And unexpected. Can old Moon-face have hypnotized me?
Anyhow--. . . Perhaps I've only imagined I was ill. . . .
Dinner?" He looked at his watch and was amazed at the time.
"Good Lord! I've been at it three hours. What can have
happened? Funny I didn't hear the gong."
He went downstairs and found Lady Hardy reading a magazine in
a dining-room armchair and finely poised between devotion and
martyrdom. A shadow of vexation fell athwart his mind at the
sight of her.
"I'd no idea it was so late," he said. "I heard no gong."
"After you swore so at poor Bradley I ordered that there
should be no gongs when we were alone. I did come up to your
door about half past eight. I crept up. But I was afraid I
might upset you if I came in."
"But you've not waited--"
"I've had a mouthful of soup." Lady Hardy rang the bell.
"I've done some work at last," said Sir Richmond, astride on
"I'm glad," said Lady Hardy, without gladness. "I waited for
Lady Hardy was a frail little blue-eyed woman with uneven
shoulders and a delicate sweet profile. Hers was that type of
face that under even the most pleasant and luxurious
circumstances still looks bravely and patiently enduring. Her
refinement threw a tinge of coarseness over his eager
consumption of his excellent clear soup.
"What's this fish, Bradley?" he asked.
"Turbot, Sir Richmond."
"Don't you have any?" he asked his wife.
"I've had a little fish, " said Lady Hardy.
When Bradley was out of the room, Sir Richmond remarked: "I
saw that nerves man, Dr. Martineau, to-day. He wants me to
take a holiday. "
The quiet patience of the lady's manner intensified. She said
nothing. A flash of resentment lit Sir Richmond's eyes. When
he spoke again, he seemed to answer unspoken accusations.
"Dr. Martineau's idea is that he should come with me."
The lady adjusted herself to a new point of view.
"But won't that be reminding you of your illness and
"He seems a good sort of fellow. . . . I'm inclined to like
him. He'll be as good company as anyone. . . . This TOURNEDOS
looks excellent. Have some."
"I had a little bird," said Lady Hardy, "when I found you
"But I say--don't wait here if you've dined. Bradley can see
She smiled and shook her head with the quiet conviction of
one who knew her duty better. "Perhaps I'll have a little ice
pudding when it comes," she said.
Sir Richmond detested eating alone in an atmosphere of
observant criticism. And he did not like talking with his
mouth full to an unembarrassed interlocutor who made no
conversational leads of her own. After a few mouthfuls he
pushed his plate away from him. "Then let's have up the ice
pudding," he said with a faint note of bitterness.
"But have you finished--?"
"The ice pudding!" he exploded wrathfully. "The ice pudding!"
Lady Hardy sat for a moment, a picture of meek distress.
Then, her delicate eyebrows raised, and the corners of her
mouth drooping, she touched the button of the silver table-
CHAPTER THE THIRD
No wise man goes out upon a novel expedition without
misgivings. And between their first meeting and the appointed
morning both Sir Richmond Hardy and Dr. Martineau were the
prey of quite disagreeable doubts about each other,
themselves, and the excursion before them. At the time of
their meeting each had been convinced that he gauged the
other sufficiently for the purposes of the proposed tour.
Afterwards each found himself trying to recall the other with
greater distinctness and able to recall nothing but queer,
ominous and minatory traits. The doctor's impression of the
great fuel specialist grew ever darker, leaner, taller and
more impatient. Sir Richmond took on the likeness of a
monster obdurate and hostile, he spread upwards until like
the Djinn out of the bottle, he darkened the heavens. And he
talked too much. He talked ever so much too much. Sir
Richmond also thought that the doctor talked too much. In
addition, he read into his imperfect memory of the doctor's
face, an expression of protruded curiosity. What was all this
problem of motives and inclinations that they were "going
into" so gaily? He had merely consulted the doctor on a
simple, straightforward need for a nervous tonic--that was
what he had needed--a tonic. Instead he had engaged himself
for--he scarcely knew what--an indiscreet, indelicate, and
altogether undesirable experiment in confidences.
Both men were considerably reassured when at last they set
eyes on each other again. Indeed each was surprised to find
something almost agreeable in the appearance of the other.
Dr. Martineau at once perceived that the fierceness of Sir
Richmond was nothing more than the fierceness of an
overwrought man, and Sir Richmond realized at a glance that
the curiosity of Dr. Martineau's bearing had in it nothing
personal or base; it was just the fine alertness of the
Sir Richmond had arrived nearly forty minutes late, and it
would have been evident to a much less highly trained
observer than Dr. Martineau that some dissension had arisen
between the little, ladylike, cream and black Charmeuse car
and its owner. There was a faint air of resentment and
protest between them. As if Sir Richmond had been in some way
rude to it.
The cap of the radiator was adorned with a little brass
figure of a flying Mercury. Frozen in a sprightly attitude,
its stiff bound and its fixed heavenward stare was highly
suggestive of a forced and tactful disregard of current
Nothing was said, however, to confirm or dispel this
suspicion of a disagreement between the man and the car. Sir
Richmond directed and assisted Dr. Martineau's man to adjust
the luggage at the back, and Dr. Martineau watched the
proceedings from his dignified front door. He was wearing a
suit of fawn tweeds, a fawn Homburg hat and a light Burberry,
with just that effect of special preparation for a holiday
which betrays the habitually busy man. Sir Richmond's brown
gauntness was, he noted, greatly set off by his suit of grey.
There had certainly been some sort of quarrel. Sir Richmond
was explaining the straps to Dr. Martineau's butler with the
coldness a man betrays when he explains the uncongenial
habits of some unloved intimate. And when the moment came to
start and the little engine did not immediately respond to
the electric starter, he said: "Oh! COME up, you--!"
His voice sank at the last word as though it was an entirely
confidential communication to the little car. And it was an
extremely low and disagreeable word. So Dr. Martineau decided
that it was not his business to hear it. . . .
It was speedily apparent that Sir Richmond was an experienced
and excellent driver. He took the Charmeuse out into the
traffic of Baker Street and westward through brisk and busy
streets and roads to Brentford and Hounslow smoothly and
swiftly, making a score of unhesitating and accurate
decisions without apparent thought. There was very little
conversation until they were through Brentford. Near
Shepherd's Bush, Sir Richmond had explained, "This is not my
own particular car. That was butted into at the garage this
morning and its radiator cracked. So I had to fall back on
this. It's quite a good little car. In its way. My wife
drives it at times. It has one or two constitutional
weaknesses--incidental to the make--gear-box over the back
axle for example--gets all the vibration. Whole machine
rather on the flimsy side. Still--"
He left the topic at that.
Dr. Martineau said something of no consequence about its
being a very comfortable little car.
Somewhere between Brentford and Hounslow, Sir Richmond
plunged into the matter between them. "I don't know how deep
we are going into these psychological probings of yours," he
said. "But I doubt very much if we shall get anything out of
"Probably not," said Dr. Martineau.
"After all, what I want is a tonic. I don't see that there is
anything positively wrong with me. A certain lack of energy--
"Lack of balance," corrected the doctor. "You are wasting
energy upon internal friction. "But isn't that inevitable? No
machine is perfectly efficient. No man either. There is
always a waste. Waste of the type; waste of the individual
idiosyncrasy. This little car, for instance, isn't pulling as
she ought to pull--she never does. She's low in her class. So
with myself; there is a natural and necessary high rate of
energy waste. Moods of apathy and indolence are natural to
me. (Damn that omnibus! All over the road!)"
"We don't deny the imperfection--" began the doctor.
"One has to fit oneself to one's circumstances," said Sir
Richmond, opening up another line of thought.
"We don't deny the imperfection" the doctor stuck to it.
"These new methods of treatment are based on the idea of
imperfection. We begin with that. I began with that last
Tuesday. . . ."
Sir Richmond, too, was sticking to his argument. "A man, and
for that matter the world he lives in, is a tangle of
accumulations. Your psychoanalyst starts, it seems to me,
with a notion of stripping down to something fundamental. The
ape before was a tangle of accumulations, just as we are. So
it was with his forebears. So it has always been. All life is
an endless tangle of accumulations."
"Recognize it," said the doctor.
"And then?" said Sir Richmond, controversially.
"Recognize in particular your own tangle."
"Is my particular tangle very different from the general
tangle? (Oh! Damn this feeble little engine!) I am a
creature of undecided will, urged on by my tangled heredity
to do a score of entirely incompatible things. Mankind, all
life, is that."
"But our concern is the particular score of incompatible
things you are urged to do. We examine and weigh--we weigh--"
The doctor was still saying these words when a violent and
ultimately disastrous struggle began between Sir Richmond and
the little Charmeuse car. The doctor stopped in mid-sentence.
It was near Taplow station that the mutual exasperation of
man and machine was brought to a crisis by the clumsy
emergence of a laundry cart from a side road. Sir Richmond
was obliged to pull up smartly and stopped his engine. It
refused an immediate obedience to the electric starter. Then
it picked up, raced noisily, disengaged great volumes of
bluish smoke, and displayed an unaccountable indisposition
to run on any gear but the lowest. Sir Richmond thought
aloud, unpleasing thoughts. He addressed the little car as a
person; he referred to ancient disputes and temperamental
incompatibilities. His anger betrayed him a coarse, ill-bred
man. The little car quickened under his reproaches. There
were some moments of hope, dashed by the necessity of going
dead slow behind an interloping van. Sir Richmond did not
notice the outstretched arm of the driver of the van, and
stalled his engine for a second time. The electric starter
refused its office altogether.
For some moments Sir Richmond sat like a man of stone.
"I must wind it up " he said at last in a profound and awful
voice. "I must wind it up."
"I get out, don't I?" asked the doctor, unanswered, and did
so. Sir Richmond, after a grim search and the displacement
and replacement of the luggage, produced a handle from the
locker at the back of the car and prepared to wind.
There was a little difficulty. "Come UP!" he said, and the
small engine roared out like a stage lion.
The two gentlemen resumed their seats. The car started and
then by an unfortunate inadvertency Sir Richmond pulled the
gear lever over from the first speed to the reverse. There
was a metallic clangour beneath the two gentlemen, and the
car slowed down and stopped although the engine was still
throbbing wildly, and the dainty veil of blue smoke still
streamed forward from the back of the car before a gentle
breeze. The doctor got out almost precipitately, followed by
a gaunt madman, mouthing vileness, who had only a minute or
so before been a decent British citizen. He made some blind
lunges at the tremulous but obdurate car, but rather as if he
looked for offences and accusations than for displacements to
adjust. Quivering and refusing, the little car was
extraordinarily like some recalcitrant little old
aristocratic lady in the hands of revolutionaries, and this
made the behaviour of Sir Richmond seem even more outrageous
than it would otherwise have done. He stopped the engine, he
went down on his hands and knees in the road to peer up at
the gear-box, then without restoring the spark, he tried to
wind up the engine again. He spun the little handle with an
insane violence, faster and faster for--as it seemed to the
doctor--the better part of a minute. Beads of perspiration
appeared upon his brow and ran together; he bared his teeth
in a snarl; his hat slipped over one eye. He groaned with
rage. Then, using the starting handle as a club, he assailed
the car. He smote the brazen Mercury from its foothold and
sent it and a part of the radiator cap with it flying across
the road. He beat at the wings of the bonnet, until they bent
in under his blows. Finally, he hurled the starting-handle at
the wind-screen and smashed it. The starting-handle rattled
over the bonnet and fell to the ground. . . .
The paroxysm was over. Ten seconds later this cataclysmal
lunatic had reverted to sanity--a rather sheepish sanity.
He thrust his hands into his trouser pockets and turned his
back on the car. He remarked in a voice of melancholy
detachment: "It was a mistake to bring that coupe."
Dr. Martineau had assumed an attitude of trained observation
on the side path. His hands rested on his hips and his hat
was a little on one side. He was inclined to agree with Sir
Richmond. "I don't know," he considered. "You wanted some
such blow-off as this."
"Did I? "
"The energy you have! That car must be somebody's whipping
"The devil it is!" said Sir Richmond, turning round sharply
and staring at it as if he expected it to display some
surprising and yet familiar features. Then he looked
questioningly and suspiciously at his companion.
"These outbreaks do nothing to amend the originating
grievance," said the doctor. "No. And at times they are even
costly. But they certainly lift a burthen from the nervous
system. . . . And now I suppose we have to get that little
ruin to Maidenhead."
"Little ruin!" repeated Sir Richmond. "No. There's lots of
life in the little beast yet."
He reflected. "She'll have to be towed." He felt in his
breast pocket. "Somewhere I have the R.A.C. order paper, the
Badge that will Get You Home. We shall have to hail some
passing car to take it into Maidenhead."
Dr. Martineau offered and Sir Richmond took and lit a
For a little while conversation hung fire. Then for the first
time Dr. Martineau heard his patient laugh.
"Amazing savage," said Sir Richmond. "Amazing savage!"
He pointed to his handiwork. "The little car looks ruffled.
Well it may."
He became grave again. "I suppose I ought to apologize.
"Dr. Martineau weighed the situation. "As between doctor and
patient," he said. "No."
"Oh!" said Sir Richmond, turned to a new point of view. "But
where the patient ends and the host begins. . . . I'm really
very sorry." He reverted to his original train of thought
which had not concerned Dr. Martineau at all. "After all, the
little car was only doing what she was made to do."
The affair of the car effectively unsealed Sir Richmond's
mind. Hitherto Dr. Martineau had perceived the possibility
and danger of a defensive silence or of a still more
defensive irony; but now that Sir Richmond had once given
himself away, he seemed prepared to give himself away to an
unlimited extent. He embarked upon an apologetic discussion
of the choleric temperament.
He began as they stood waiting for the relief car from the
Maidenhead garage. "You were talking of the ghosts of apes
and monkeys that suddenly come out from the darkness of the
subconscious . . . ."
"You mean--when we first met at Harley Street?"
"That last apparition of mine seems to have been a gorilla at
The doctor became precise. Gorillaesque. We are not descended
"Queer thing a fit of rage is!"
"It's one of nature's cruder expedients. Crude, but I doubt
if it is fundamental. There doesn't seem to be rage in the
vegetable world, and even among the animals--? No, it is not
universal." He ran his mind over classes and orders. "Wasps
and bees certainly seem to rage, but if one comes to think,
most of the invertebrata show very few signs of it."
"I'm not so sure," said Sir Richmond. "I've never seen a
snail in a towering passion or an oyster slamming its shell
behind it. But these are sluggish things. Oysters sulk, which
is after all a smouldering sort of rage. And take any more
active invertebrate. Take a spider. Not a smashing and
swearing sort of rage perhaps, but a disciplined, cold-
blooded malignity. Crabs fight. A conger eel in a boat will
"A vertebrate. Yes. But even among the vertebrata; who has
ever seen a furious rabbit?"
"Don't the bucks fight?" questioned Sir Richmond.
Dr. Martineau admitted the point.
"I've always had these fits of passion. As far back as I can
remember. I was a kicking, screaming child. I threw things. I
once threw a fork at my elder brother and it stuck in his
forehead, doing no serious damage--happily. There were whole
days of wrath--days, as I remember them. Perhaps they were
only hours. . . . I've never thought before what a peculiar
thing all this raging is in the world. WHY do we rage? They
used to say it was the devil. If it isn't the devil, then
what the devil is it? "After all," he went on as the doctor
was about to answer his question; "as you pointed out, it
isn't the lowlier things that rage. It's the HIGHER things
"The devil nowadays," the doctor reflected after a pause, "so
far as man is concerned, is understood to be the ancestral
ape. And more particularly the old male ape."
But Sir Richmond was away on another line of thought. "Life
itself, flaring out. Brooking no contradiction." He came
round suddenly to the doctor's qualification. "Why male?
Don't little girls smash things just as much?"
"They don't," said Dr. Martineau. "Not nearly as much."
Sir Richmond went off at a tangent again. "I suppose you have
watched any number of babies?"'
"Not nearly as many as a general practitioner would do.
There's a lot of rage about most of them at first, male or
"Queer little eddies of fury. . . . Recently--it happens--
I've been seeing one. A spit of red wrath, clenching its
fists and squalling threats at a damned disobedient
The doctor was struck by an idea and glanced quickly and
questioningly at his companion's profile.
"Blind driving force," said Sir Richmond, musing.
"Isn't that after all what we really are?" he asked the
doctor. "Essentially--Rage. A rage in dead matter, making it
"Schopenhauer," footnoted the doctor. "Boehme."
"Plain fact, "said Sir Richmond. "No Rage--no Go."
"But rage without discipline?"
"Discipline afterwards. The rage first."
"But rage against what? And FOR what?"
"Against the Universe. And for--? That's more difficult. What
IS the little beast squalling itself crimson for? Ultimately?
. . . What is it clutching after? In the long run, what will
("Yours the car in distress what sent this?" asked an
"Of course, if you were to say 'desire'," said Dr. Martineau,
"then you would be in line with the psychoanalysts. They talk
of LIBIDO, meaning a sort of fundamental desire. Jung speaks
of it at times almost as if it were the universal driving
"No," said Sir Richmond, in love with his new idea. "Not
desire. Desire would have a definite direction, and that is
just what this driving force hasn't. It's rage."
"Yours the car in distress what sent this?" the voice
repeated. It was the voice of a mechanic in an Overland car.
He was holding up the blue request for assistance that Sir
Richmond had recently filled in.
The two philosophers returned to practical matters.
For half an hour after the departure of the little Charmeuse
car with Sir Richmond and Dr. Martineau, the brass Mercury
lay unheeded in the dusty roadside grass. Then it caught the
eye of a passing child.
He was a bright little boy of five. From the moment when he
caught the gleam of brass he knew that he had made the find
of his life. But his nurse was a timorous, foolish thing.
"You did ought to of left it there, Masterrarry," she said.
"Findings ain't keepings nowadays, not by no manner of means,
"Yew'd look silly if a policeman came along arsting people if
they seen a goldennimage.
"Arst yer 'ow you come by it and look pretty straight at
All of which grumblings Master Harry treated with an
experienced disregard. He knew definitely that he would never
relinquish this bright and lovely possession again. It was
the first beautiful thing he had ever possessed. He was the
darling of fond and indulgent parents and his nursery was
crowded with hideous rag and sawdust dolls, golliwogs, comic
penguins, comic lions, comic elephants and comic policemen
and every variety of suchlike humorous idiocy and visual
beastliness. This figure, solid, delicate and gracious, was a
thing of a different order.
There was to be much conflict and distress, tears and wrath,
before the affinity of that cleanlimbed, shining figure and
his small soul was recognized. But he carried his point at
last. The Mercury became his inseparable darling, his symbol,
his private god, the one dignified and serious thing in a
little life much congested by the quaint, the burlesque, and
all the smiling, dull condescensions of adult love.
CHAPTER THE FOURTH
The little Charmeuse was towed to hospital and the two
psychiatrists took up their quarters at the Radiant Hotel
with its pleasant lawns and graceful landing stage at the
bend towards the bridge. Sir Richmond, after some trying work
at the telephone, got into touch with his own proper car. A
man would bring the car down in two days' time at latest, and
afterwards the detested coupe could go back to London. The
day was still young, and after lunch and coffee upon a sunny
lawn a boat seemed indicated. Sir Richmond astonished the
doctor by going to his room, reappearing dressed in tennis
flannels and looking very well in them. It occurred to the
doctor as a thing hitherto unnoted that Sir Richmond was not
indifferent to his personal appearance. The doctor had no
flannels, but he had brought a brown holland umbrella lined
with green that he had acquired long ago in Algiers, and this
served to give him something of the riverside quality.
The day was full of sunshine and the river had a Maytime
animation. Pink geraniums, vivid green lawns, gay awnings,
bright glass, white paint and shining metal set the tone of
Maidenhead life. At lunch there had been five or six small
tables with quietly affectionate couples who talked in
undertones, a tableful of bright-coloured Jews who talked in
overtones, and a family party from the Midlands, badly
smitten with shyness, who did not talk at all. "A resort, of
honeymoon couples," said the doctor, and then rather
knowingly: "Temporary honeymoons, I fancy, in one or two of
"Decidedly temporary," said Sir Richmond, considering the
company--"in most of the cases anyhow. The two in the corner
might be married. You never know nowadays."
He became reflective. . . .
After lunch and coffee he rowed the doctor up the river
"The last time I was here," he said, returning to the
subject, "I was here on a temporary honeymoon."
The doctor tried to look as though he had not thought that
could be possible.
"I know my Maidenhead fairly well," said Sir Richmond.
"Aquatic activities, such as rowing, punting, messing about
with a boat-hook, tying up, buzzing about in motor launches,
fouling other people's boats, are merely the stage business
of the drama. The ruling interests of this place are love--
largely illicit--and persistent drinking. . . . Don't you
think the bridge charming from here?"
"I shouldn't have thought--drinking," said Dr. Martineau,
after he had done justice to the bridge over his shoulder.
"Yes, the place has a floating population of quiet
industrious soakers. The incurable river man and the river
girl end at that."
Dr. Martineau encouraged Sir Richmond by an appreciative
"If we are to explore the secret places of the heart," Sir
Richmond went on, "we shall have to give some attention to
this Maidenhead side of life. It is very material to my case.
I have,--as I have said--BEEN HERE. This place has beauty and
charm; these piled-up woods behind which my Lords Astor and
Desborough keep their state, this shining mirror of the
water, brown and green and sky blue, this fringe of reeds and
scented rushes and forget-me-not and lilies, and these
perpetually posing white swans: they make a picture. A little
artificial it is true; one feels the presence of a
Conservancy Board, planting the rushes and industriously
nicking the swans; but none the less delightful. And this
setting has appealed to a number of people as an invitation,
as, in a way, a promise. They come here, responsive to that
promise of beauty and happiness. They conceive of themselves
here, rowing swiftly and gracefully, punting beautifully,
brandishing boat-hooks with ease and charm. They look to
meet, under pleasant or romantic circumstances, other
possessors and worshippers of grace and beauty here. There
will be glowing evenings, warm moonlight, distant voices
singing. . . .There is your desire, doctor, the desire you
say is the driving force of life. But reality mocks it. Boats
bump and lead to coarse ungracious quarrels; rowing can be
curiously fatiguing; punting involves dreadful indignities.
The romance here tarnishes very quickly. Romantic encounters
fail to occur; in our impatience we resort to--accosting.
Chilly mists arise from the water and the magic of distant
singing is provided, even excessively, by boatloads of cads--
with collecting dishes. When the weather keeps warm there
presently arises an extraordinary multitude of gnats, and
when it does not there is a need for stimulants. That is why
the dreamers who come here first for a light delicious brush
with love, come down at last to the Thamesside barmaid with
her array of spirits and cordials as the quintessence of all
"I say," said the doctor. "You tear the place to pieces."
"The desires of the place," said Sir Richmond.
"I'm using the place as a symbol."
He held his sculls awash, rippling in the water.
"The real force of life, the rage of life, isn't here," he
said. "It's down underneath, sulking and smouldering. Every
now and then it strains and cracks the surface. This stretch
of the Thames, this pleasure stretch, has in fact a curiously
quarrelsome atmosphere. People scold and insult one another
for the most trivial things, for passing too close, for
taking the wrong side, for tying up or floating loose. Most
of these notice boards on the bank show a thoroughly nasty
spirit. People on the banks jeer at anyone in the boats. You
hear people quarrelling in boats, in the hotels, as they walk
along the towing path. There is remarkably little happy
laughter here. The RAGE, you see, is hostile to this place,
the RAGE breaks through. . . . The people who drift from one
pub to another, drinking, the people who fuddle in the
riverside hotels, are the last fugitives of pleasure, trying
to forget the rage. . . ."
"Isn't it that there is some greater desire at the back of
the human mind?" the doctor suggested. "Which refuses to be
content with pleasure as an end?"
"What greater desire?" asked Sir Richmond, disconcertingly.
"Oh! . . . " The doctor cast about.
"There is no such greater desire," said Sir Richmond. "You
cannot name it. It is just blind drive. I admit its
discontent with pleasure as an end--but has it any end of its
own? At the most you can say that the rage in life is seeking
its desire and hasn't found it."
"Let us help in the search," said the doctor, with an
afternoon smile under his green umbrella. "Go on."
"Since our first talk in Harley Street," said Sir Richmond,
"I have been trying myself over in my mind. (We can drift
down this backwater.) "
"Big these trees are," said the doctor with infinite
"I am astonished to discover what a bundle of discordant
motives I am. I do not seem to deserve to be called a
personality. I cannot discover even a general direction. Much
more am I like a taxi-cab in which all sorts of aims and
desires have travelled to their destination and got out. Are
we all like that?"
"A bundle held together by a name and address and a certain
thread of memory?" said the doctor and considered. "More than
that. More than that. We have leading ideas, associations,
"We build ourselves a prison of circumstances that keeps us
from complete dispersal."
"Exactly," said the doctor. "And there is also something, a
consistency, that we call character."
"Consistently with itself."
"I have been trying to recall my sexual history," said Sir
Richmond, going off at a tangent. "My sentimental education.
I wonder if it differs very widely from yours or most men's."
"Some men are more eventful in these matters than others,"
said the doctor,--it sounded--wistfully.
"They have the same jumble of motives and traditions, I
suspect, whether they are eventful or not. The brakes may be
strong or weak but the drive is the same. I can't remember
much of the beginnings of curiosity and knowledge in these
matters. Can you?"
"Not much," said the doctor. "No."
"Your psychoanalysts tell a story of fears, suppressions,
monstrous imaginations, symbolic replacements. I don't
remember much of that sort of thing in my own case. It may
have faded out of my mind. There were probably some uneasy
curiosities, a grotesque dream or so perhaps; I can't recall
anything of that sort distinctly now. I had a very lively
interest in women, even when I was still quite a little boy,
and a certain--what shall I call it?--imaginative
slavishness--not towards actual women but towards something
magnificently feminine. My first love--"
Sir Richmond smiled at some secret memory. "My first love was
Britannia as depicted by Tenniel in the cartoons in PUNCH. I
must have been a very little chap at the time of the
Britannia affair. I just clung to her in my imagination and
did devoted things for her. Then I recall, a little later, a
secret abject adoration for the white goddesses of the
Crystal Palace. Not for any particular one of them that I can
remember,--for all of them. But I don't remember anything
very monstrous or incestuous in my childish imaginations,--
such things as Freud, I understand, lays stress upon. If
there was an Oedipus complex or anything of that sort in my
case it has been very completely washed out again. Perhaps a
child which is brought up in a proper nursery of its own and
sees a lot of pictures of the nude human body, and so on,
gets its mind shifted off any possible concentration upon the
domestic aspect of sex. I got to definite knowledge pretty
early. By the time I was eleven or twelve."
"What is normally? Decently, anyhow. Here again I may be
forgetting much secret and shameful curiosity. I got my ideas
into definite form out of a little straightforward
physiological teaching and some dissecting of rats and mice.
My schoolmaster was a capable sane man in advance of his
times and my people believed in him. I think much of this
distorted perverse stuff that grows up in people's minds
about sex and develops into evil vices and still more evil
habits, is due to the mystery we make about these things."
"Not entirely," said the doctor.
"Largely. What child under a modern upbringing ever goes
through the stuffy horrors described in James Joyce's
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN."
"I've not read it."
"A picture of the Catholic atmosphere; a young soul shut up
in darkness and ignorance to accumulate filth. In the name of
purity and decency and under threats of hell fire."
"Quite. A study of intolerable tensions, the tensions that
make young people write unclean words in secret places. "
"Yes, we certainly ventilate and sanitate in those matters
nowadays. Where nothing is concealed, nothing can explode."
"On the whole I came up to adolescence pretty straight and
clean," said Sir Richmond. "What stands out in my memory now
is this idea, of a sort of woman goddess who was very lovely
and kind and powerful and wonderful. That ruled my secret
imaginations as a boy, but it was very much in my mind as I
"The mother complex," said Dr. Martineau as a passing
botanist might recognize and name a flower.
Sir Richmond stared at him for a moment.
"It had not the slightest connexion with my mother or any
mother or any particular woman at all. Far better to call it
the goddess complex."
"The connexion is not perhaps immediately visible," said the
"There was no connexion," said Sir Richmond. "The women of my
adolescent dreams were stripped and strong and lovely. They
were great creatures. They came, it was clearly traceable,
from pictures sculpture--and from a definite response in
myself to their beauty. My mother had nothing whatever to do
with that. The women and girls about me were fussy bunches of
clothes that I am sure I never even linked with that dream
world of love and worship."
"Were you co-educated?"
"No. But I had a couple of sisters, one older, one younger
than myself, and there were plenty of girls in my circle. I
thought some of them pretty--but that was a different affair.
I know that I didn't connect them with the idea of the loved
and worshipped goddesses at all, because I remember when I
first saw the goddess in a real human being and how amazed I
was at the discovery. . . . I was a boy of twelve or
thirteen. My people took me one summer to Dymchurch in Romney
Marsh; in those days before the automobile had made the Marsh
accessible to the Hythe and Folkestone crowds, it was a
little old forgotten silent wind-bitten village crouching
under the lee of the great sea wall. At low water there were
miles of sand as smooth and shining as the skin of a savage
brown woman. Shining and with a texture--the very same. And
one day as I was mucking about by myself on the beach, boy
fashion,--there were some ribs of a wrecked boat buried in
the sand near a groin and I was busy with them--a girl ran
out from a tent high up on the beach and across the sands to
the water. She was dressed in a tight bathing dress and not
in the clumsy skirts and frills that it was the custom to
inflict on women in those days. Her hair was tied up in a
blue handkerchief. She ran swiftly and gracefully, intent
upon the white line of foam ahead. I can still remember how
the sunlight touched her round neck and cheek as she went
past me. She was the loveliest, most shapely thing I have
ever seen--to this day. She lifted up her arms and thrust
through the dazzling white and green breakers and plunged
into the water and swam; she swam straight out for a long way
as it seemed to me, and presently came in and passed me again
on her way back to her tent, light and swift and sure. The
very prints of her feet on the sand were beautiful. Suddenly
I realized that there could be living people in the world as
lovely as any goddess. . . . She wasn't in the least out of
"That was my first human love. And I love that girl still. I
doubt sometimes whether I have ever loved anyone else. I kept
the thing very secret. I wonder now why I have kept the thing
so secret. Until now I have never told a soul about it. I
resorted to all sorts of tortuous devices and excuses to get
a chance of seeing her again without betraying what it was I
Dr. Martineau retained a simple fondness for a story.
"And did you meet her again?"
"Never. Of course I may have seen her as a dressed-up person
and not recognized her. A day or so later I was stabbed to
the heart by the discovery that the tent she came out of had
been taken away. "
"She had gone?"
Sir Richmond smiled brightly at the doctor's disappointment.
"I was never wholehearted and simple about sexual things,"
Sir Richmond resumed presently. "Never. I do not think any
man is. We are too much plastered-up things, too much the
creatures of a tortuous and complicated evolution."
Dr. Martineau, under his green umbrella, nodded his conceded
"This--what shall I call it?--this Dream of Women, grew up in
my mind as I grew up--as something independent of and much
more important than the reality of Women. It came only very
slowly into relation with that. That girl on the Dymchurch
beach was one of the first links, but she ceased very
speedily to be real--she joined the women of dreamland at
last altogether. She became a sort of legendary incarnation.
I thought of these dream women not only as something
beautiful but as something exceedingly kind and helpful. The
girls and women I met belonged to a different
creation. . . ."
Sir Richmond stopped abruptly and rowed a few long strokes.
Dr. Martineau sought information.
"I suppose," he said, "there was a sensuous element in these
"Certainly. A very strong one. It didn't dominate but it was
a very powerful undertow."
"Was there any tendency in all this imaginative stuff to
concentrate? To group itself about a single figure, the sort
of thing that Victorians would have called an ideal?"
"Not a bit of it," said Sir Richmond with conviction. "There
was always a tremendous lot of variety in my mind. In fact
the thing I liked least in the real world was the way it was
obsessed by the idea of pairing off with one particular set
and final person. I liked to dream of a blonde goddess in her
own Venusberg one day, and the next I would be off over the
mountains with an armed Brunhild."
"You had little thought of children?"
"As a young man?"
"None at all. I cannot recall a single philoprogenitive
moment. These dream women were all conceived of, and I was
conceived of, as being concerned in some tremendous
enterprise--something quite beyond domesticity. It kept us
related--gave us dignity. . . . Certainly it wasn't babies."
"All this is very interesting, very interesting, from the
scientific point of view. A PRIORI it is not what one might
have expected. Reasoning from the idea that all instincts and
natural imaginations are adapted to a biological end and
seeing that sex is essentially a method of procreation, one
might reasonably expect a convergence, if not a complete
concentration, upon the idea of offspring. It is almost as if
there were other ends to be served. It is clear that Nature
has not worked this impulse out to any sight of its end. Has
not perhaps troubled to do so. The instinct of the male for
the female isn't primarily for offspring--not even in the
most intelligent and farseeing types. The desire just points
to glowing satisfactions and illusions. Quite equally I think
the desire of the female for the male ignores its end. Nature
has set about this business in a CHEAP sort of way. She is
like some pushful advertising tradesman. She isn't frank
with us; she just humbugs us into what she wants with us. All
very well in the early Stone Age--when the poor dear things
never realized that their mutual endearments meant all the
troubles and responsibilities of parentage. But NOW--!"
He shook his head sideways and twirled the green umbrella
like an animated halo around his large broad-minded face.
Sir Richmond considered. "Desire has never been the chief
incentive of my relations with women. Never. So far as I can
analyze the thing, it has been a craving for a particular
sort of life giving companionship."
"That I take it is Nature's device to keep the lovers
together in the interest of the more or less unpremeditated
"A poor device, if that is its end. It doesn't keep parents
together; more often it tears them apart. The wife or the
mistress, so soon as she is encumbered with children, becomes
all too manifestly not the companion goddess. . . ."
Sir Richmond brooded over his sculls and thought.
"Throughout my life I have been an exceedingly busy man. I
have done a lot of scientific work and some of it has been
very good work. And very laborious work. I've travelled much.
I've organized great business developments. You might think
that my time has been fairly well filled without much
philandering. And all the time, all the time, I've been--
about women--like a thirsty beast looking for water. . . .
Always. Always. All through my life."
Dr. Martineau waited through another silence.
"I was very grave about it at first. I married young. I
married very simply and purely. I was not one of those young
men who sow a large crop of wild oats. I was a fairly decent
youth. It suddenly appeared to me that a certain smiling and
dainty girl could make herself into all the goddesses of my
dreams. I had but to win her and this miracle would occur. Of
course I forget now the exact things I thought and felt then,
but surely I had some such persuasion. Or why should I have
married her? My wife was seven years younger than myself,--a
girl of twenty. She was charming. She is charming. She is a
wonderfully intelligent and understanding woman. She has made
a home for me--a delightful home. I am one of those men who
have no instinct for home making. I owe my home and all the
comfort and dignity of my life to her ability. I have no
excuse for any misbehaviour--so far as she is concerned. None
at all. By all the rules I should have been completely
happy. But instead of my marriage satisfying me, it presently
released a storm of long-controlled desires and imprisoned
cravings. A voice within me became more and more urgent.
'This will not do. This is not love. Where are your
goddesses? This is not love.' . . . And I was unfaithful to
my wife within four years of my marriage. It was a sudden
overpowering impulse. But I suppose the ground had been
preparing for a long time. I forget now all the emotions of
that adventure. I suppose at the time it seemed beautiful and
wonderful. . . . I do not excuse myself. Still less do I
condemn myself. I put the facts before you. So it was."
"There were no children by your marriage?"
"Your line of thought, doctor, is too philoprogenitive. We
have had three. My daughter was married two years ago. She is
in America. One little boy died when he was three. The other
is in India, taking up the Mardipore power scheme again now
that he is out of the army. . . . No, it is simply that I was
hopelessly disappointed with everything that a good woman and
a decent marriage had to give me. Pure disappointment and
vexation. The anti-climax to an immense expectation built up
throughout an imaginative boyhood and youth and early
manhood. I was shocked and ashamed at my own disappointment.
I thought it mean and base. Nevertheless this orderly
household into which I had placed my life, these almost
methodical connubialities . . . ."
He broke off in mid-sentence.
Dr. Martineau shook his head disapprovingly.
"No," he said, "it wasn't fair to your wife."
"It was shockingly unfair. I have always realized that. I've
done what I could to make things up to her. . . . Heaven
knows what counter disappointments she has concealed. . . .
But it is no good arguing about rights and wrongs now. This
is not an apology for my life. I am telling you what
"Not for me to judge," said Dr. Martineau. "Go on."
"By marrying I had got nothing that my soul craved for, I had
satisfied none but the most transitory desires and I had
incurred a tremendous obligation. That obligation didn't
restrain me from making desperate lunges at something vaguely
beautiful that I felt was necessary to me; but it did cramp
and limit these lunges. So my story flops down into the
comedy of the lying, cramped intrigues of a respectable,
married man. . .I was still driven by my dream of some
extravagantly beautiful inspiration called love and I sought
it like an area sneak. Gods! What a story it is when one
brings it all together! I couldn't believe that the glow and
sweetness I dreamt of were not in the world--somewhere.
Hidden away from me. I seemed to catch glimpses of the dear
lost thing, now in the corners of a smiling mouth, now in
dark eyes beneath a black smoke of hair, now in a slim form
seen against the sky. Often I cared nothing for the woman I
made love to. I cared for the thing she seemed to be hiding
from me . . . . "
Sir Richmond's voice altered.
"I don't see what possible good it can do to talk over these
things." He began to row and rowed perhaps a score of
strokes. Then he stopped and the boat drove on with a whisper
of water at the bow and over the outstretched oar blades.
"What a muddle and mockery the whole thing is!" he cried.
"What a fumbling old fool old Mother Nature has been! She
drives us into indignity and dishonour: and she doesn't even
get the children which are her only excuse for her mischief.
See what a fantastic thing I am when you take the machine to
pieces! I have been a busy and responsible man throughout my
life. I have handled complicated public and industrial
affairs not unsuccessfully and discharged quite big
obligations fully and faithfully. And all the time, hidden
away from the public eye, my life has been laced by the
thread of these--what can one call them? --love adventures.
How many? you ask. I don't know. Never have I been a whole-
hearted lover; never have I been able to leave love alone. .
. . Never has love left me alone.
"And as I am made, said Sir Richmond with sudden insistence,
"AS I AM MADE--I do not believe that I could go on without
these affairs. I know that you will be disposed to dispute
Dr. Martineau made a reassuring noise.
"These affairs are at once unsatisfying and vitally
necessary. It is only latterly that I have begun to perceive
this. Women MAKE life for me. Whatever they touch or see or
desire becomes worth while and otherwise it is not worth
while. Whatever is lovely in my world, whatever is
delightful, has been so conveyed to me by some woman. Without
the vision they give me, I should be a hard dry industry in
the world, a worker ant, a soulless rage, making much,
"You are, I think, abnormal," considered the doctor.
"Not abnormal. Excessive, if you like. Without women I am a
wasting fever of distressful toil. Without them there is no
kindness in existence, no rest, no sort of satisfaction. The
world is a battlefield, trenches, barbed wire, rain, mud,
logical necessity and utter desolation--with nothing whatever
worth fighting for. Whatever justifies effort, whatever
restores energy is hidden in women . . . ."
"An access of sex," said Dr. Martineau. " This is a
phase. . . ."
"It is how I am made," said Sir Richmond.
A brief silence fell upon that. Dr. Martineau persisted. "It
isn't how you are made. We are getting to something in all
this. It is, I insist, a mood of how you are made. A
distinctive and indicative mood."
Sir Richmond went on, almost as if he soliloquized.
"I would go through it all again. . . . There are times when
the love of women seems the only real thing in the world to
me. And always it remains the most real thing. I do not know
how far I may be a normal man or how far I may not be, so to
speak, abnormally male, but to me life has very little
personal significance and no value or power until it has a
woman as intermediary. Before life can talk to me and say
anything that matters a woman must be present as a medium. I
don't mean that it has no significance mentally and
logically; I mean that irrationally and emotionally it has no
significance. Works of art, for example, bore me, literature
bores me, scenery bores me, even the beauty of a woman bores
me, unless I find in it some association with a woman's
feeling. It isn't that I can't tell for myself that a picture
is fine or a mountain valley lovely, but that it doesn't
matter a rap to me whether it is or whether it isn't until
there is a feminine response, a sexual motif, if you like to
call it that, coming in. Whatever there is of loveliness or
pride in life doesn't LIVE for me until somehow a woman comes
in and breathes upon it the breath of life. I cannot even
rest until a woman makes holiday for me. Only one thing can I
do without women and that is work, joylessly but effectively,
and latterly for some reason that it is up to you to
discover, doctor, even the power of work has gone from me."
"This afternoon brings back to me very vividly my previous
visit here. It was perhaps a dozen or fifteen years ago. We
rowed down this same backwater. I can see my companion's
hand--she had very pretty hands with rosy palms--trailing in
the water, and her shadowed face smiling quietly under her
sunshade, with little faint streaks of sunlight, reflected
from the ripples, dancing and quivering across it. She was
one of those people who seem always to be happy and to
"By ordinary standards," said Sir Richmond, "she was a
thoroughly bad lot. She had about as much morality, in the
narrower sense of the word, as a monkey. And yet she stands
out in my mind as one of the most honest women I have ever
met. She was certainly one of the kindest. Part of that
effect of honesty may have been due to her open brow, her
candid blue eyes, the smiling frankness of her manner. . . .
But--no! She was really honest.
"We drifted here as we are doing now. She pulled at the sweet
rushes and crushed them in her hand. She adds a remembered
brightness to this afternoon.
"Honest. Friendly. Of all the women I have known, this woman
who was here with me came nearest to being my friend. You
know, what we call virtue in a woman is a tremendous handicap
to any real friendliness with a man. Until she gets to an age
when virtue and fidelity are no longer urgent practical
concerns, a good woman, by the very definition of feminine
goodness, isn't truly herself. Over a vast extent of her
being she is RESERVED. She suppresses a vast amount of her
being, holds back, denies, hides. On the other hand, there is
a frankness and honesty in openly bad women arising out of
the admitted fact that they are bad, that they hide no
treasure from you, they have no peculiarly precious and
delicious secrets to keep, and no poverty to conceal.
Intellectually they seem to be more manly and vigorous
because they are, as people say, unsexed. Many old women,
thoroughly respectable old women, have the same quality.
Because they have gone out of the personal sex business.
Haven't you found that?"
"I have never," said the doctor, known what you call an
openly bad woman,--at least, at all intimately. . . . "
Sir Richmond looked with quick curiosity at his companion.
"You have avoided them!"
"They don't attract me."
"They repel you?"
"For me," said the doctor, "for any friendliness, a woman
must be modest. . . . My habits of thought are old-fashioned,
I suppose, but the mere suggestion about a woman that there
were no barriers, no reservation, that in any fashion she
might more than meet me half way . . . "
His facial expression completed his sentence.
"Now I wonder," whispered Sir Richmond, and hesitated for a
moment before he carried the great research into the
explorer's country. "You are afraid of women?" he said, with
a smile to mitigate the impertinence.
"I respect them."
"An element of fear."
"Well, I am afraid of them then. Put it that way if you like.
Anyhow I do not let myself go with them. I have never let
"You lose something. You lose a reality of insight."
There was a thoughtful interval.
"Having found so excellent a friend," said the doctor, "why
did you ever part from her?"
Sir Richmond seemed indisposed to answer, but Dr. Martineau's
face remained slantingly interrogative. He had found the
effective counterattack and he meant to press it. "I was
jealous of her," Sir Richmond admitted. "I couldn't stand
that side of it."
After a meditative silence the doctor became briskly
"You care for your wife," he said. "You care very much for
your wife. She is, as you say, your great obligation and you
are a man to respect obligations. I grasp that. Then you tell
me of these women who have come and gone. . . . About them
too you are perfectly frank. . . There remains someone
else." Sir Richmond stared at his physician.
"Well," he said and laughed. "I didn't pretend to have made
my autobiography anything more than a sketch."
"No, but there is a special person, the current person."
"I haven't dilated on my present situation, I admit."
"From some little things that have dropped from you, I should
say there is a child."
"That," said Sir Richmond after a brief pause, "is a good
guess." "Not older than three." "Two years and a half."
"You and this lady who is, I guess, young, are separated. At
any rate, you can't go to her. That leaves you at loose ends,
because for some time, for two or three years at least, you
have ceased to be--how shall I put it?--an emotional
wanderer." "I begin to respect your psychoanalysis."
"Hence your overwhelming sense of the necessity of feminine
companionship for weary men. I guess she is a very jolly
companion to be with, amusing, restful--interesting."
"H'm," said Sir Richmond. "I think that is a fair
description. When she cares, that is. When she is in good
"Which she isn't at present," hazarded the doctor. He
exploded a mine of long-pent exasperation.
"She is the clumsiest hand at keeping well that I have ever
known. Health is a woman's primary duty. But she is incapable
of the most elementary precautions. She is maddeningly
receptive to every infection. At the present moment, when I
am ill, when I am in urgent need of help and happiness, she
has let that wretched child get measles and she herself won't
let me go near her because she has got something disfiguring,
something nobody else could ever have or think of having,
called CARBUNCLE. Carbuncle!"
"It is very painful," said Dr. Martineau. "No doubt it is,"
said Sir Richmond.
"No doubt it is." His voice grew bitter. He spoke with
deliberation. "A perfectly aimless, useless illness,--and as
painful as it CAN be."