Part 6 out of 8
make some little show, if less than it seemed to him. That little
adventure in the park; well, if it started wrongly, it but helped to
show the change in him, for he had determinedly kept away from Mrs.
Jerry's house. He had met her once since the book came out, and she
had blushed exquisitely when referring to it, and said: "How you have
suffered! I blame myself dreadfully." Yes, and there was an unoccupied
sofa near by, and he had not sat down on it with her and continued the
conversation. Was not that a feather? And there were other ladies,
and, without going into particulars, they were several feathers
between them. How doggedly, to punish himself, he had stuck to the
company of men, a sex that never interested him!
"But all that is nothing. I am beyond the pale, I did so monstrous a
thing that I must die for it. What was this dreadful thing? When I saw
you with that glove I knew you loved me, and that you thought I loved
you, and I had not the heart to dash your joy. You don't know it, but
that was the crime for which I must be exterminated, fiend that I am!"
Gusts of fury came at intervals all the morning. He wrote her
appalling letters and destroyed them. He shook his fist and snapped
his fingers at her, and went out for drink (having none in the house),
and called a hansom to take him to Mrs. Jerry's, and tore round the
park again and glared at everybody. He rushed on and on. "But the one
thing you shall never do, Grizel, is to interfere with my work; I
swear it, do you hear? In all else I am yours to mangle at your will,
but touch it, and I am a beast at bay."
And still saying such things, he drew near the publishing offices of
Goldie & Goldie, and circled round them, less like a beast at bay than
a bird that is taking a long way to its nest. And about four of the
afternoon what does this odd beast or bird or fish do but stalk into
Goldie & Goldie's and order "Unrequited Love" to be withdrawn from
"Madam, I have carried out your wishes, and the man is hanged."
Not thus, but in words to that effect, did Tommy announce his deed to
"I think you have done the right thing," she wrote back, "and I admire
you for it." But he thought she did not admire him sufficiently for
it, and he did not answer her letter, so it was the last that passed
Such is the true explanation (now first published) of an affair that
at the time created no small stir. "Why withdraw the book?" Goldie &
Goldie asked of Tommy, but he would give no reason. "Why?" the public
asked of Goldie & Goldie, and they had to invent several. The public
invented the others. The silliest were those you could know only by
belonging to a club.
I swear that Tommy had not foreseen the result. Quite unwittingly the
favoured of the gods had found a way again. The talk about his
incomprehensible action was the turning-point in the fortunes of the
book. There were already a few thousand copies in circulation, and now
many thousand people wanted them. Sandys, Sandys, Sandys! where had
the ladies heard that name before? Society woke up, Sandys was again
its hero; the traveller had to go lecturing in the provinces.
The ladies! Yes, and their friends, the men. There was a Tommy society
in Mayfair that winter, nearly all of the members eminent or
beautiful, and they held each other's hands. Both sexes were eligible,
married or single, and the one rule was something about sympathy. It
afterwards became the Souls, but those in the know still call them the
They blackballed Mrs. Jerry (she was rather plump), but her married
stepdaughter, Lady Pippinworth (who had been a Miss Ridge-Fulton), was
one of them. Indeed, the Ridge-Fultons are among the thinnest families
in the country.
T. Sandys was invited to join the society, but declined, and thus
never quite knew what they did, nor can any outsider know, there being
a regulation among the Tommies against telling. I believe, however,
that they were a brotherhood, with sisters. You had to pass an
examination in unrequited love, showing how you had suffered, and
after that either the men or the women (I forget which) dressed in
white to the throat, and then each got some other's old love's hand to
hold, and you all sat on the floor and thought hard. There may have
been even more in it than this, for one got to know Tommies at sight
by a sort of careworn halo round the brow, and it is said that the
House of Commons was several times nearly counted out because so many
of its middle-aged members were holding the floor in another place.
Of course there were also the Anti-Tommies, who called themselves
(rather vulgarly) the Tummies. Many of them were that shape. They held
that, though you had loved in vain, it was no such mighty matter to
boast of; but they were poor in argument, and their only really strong
card was that Mr. Sandys was stoutish himself.
Their organs in the press said that he was a man of true genius, and
slightly inclined to _embonpoint_.
This maddened him, but on the whole his return was a triumph, and
despite thoughts of Grizel he was very, very happy, for he was at play
again. He was a boy, and all the ladies were girls. Perhaps the lady
he saw most frequently was Mrs. Jerry's stepdaughter. Lady Pippinworth
was a friend of Lady Rintoul, and had several times visited her at the
Spittal, but that was not the sole reason why Tommy so frequently
drank tea with her. They had met first at a country house, where, one
night after the ladies had retired to rest, Lady Pippinworth came
stealing into the smoking-room with the tidings that there were
burglars in the house. As she approached her room she had heard
whispers, and then, her door being ajar, she had peeped upon the
miscreants. She had also seen a pile of her jewellery on the table,
and a pistol keeping guard on top of it. There were several men in the
house, but that pistol cowed all of them save Tommy. "If we could lock
them in!" someone suggested, but the key was on the wrong side of the
door. "I shall put it on the right side," Tommy said pluckily, "if you
others will prevent their escaping by the window"; and with
characteristic courage he set off for her Ladyship's room. His
intention was to insert his hand, whip out the key, and lock the door
on the outside, a sufficiently hazardous enterprise; but what does he
do instead? Locks the door on the inside, and goes for the burglars
with his fists! A happy recollection of Corp's famous one from the
shoulder disposed at once of the man who had seized the pistol; with
the other gentleman Tommy had a stand-up fight in which both of them
took and gave, but when support arrived, one burglar was senseless on
the floor and T. Sandys was sitting on the other. Courageous of Tommy,
was it not? But observe the end. He was left in the dining-room to
take charge of his captives until morning, and by and by he was
exhorting them in such noble language to mend their ways that they
took the measure of him, and so touching were their family histories
that Tommy wept and untied their cords and showed them out at the
front door and gave them ten shillings each, and the one who begged
for the honour of shaking hands with him also took his watch. Thus did
Tommy and Lady Pippinworth become friends, but it was not this that
sent him so often to her house to tea. She was a beautiful woman, with
a reputation for having broken many hearts without damaging her own.
He thought it an interesting case.
GRIZEL ALL ALONE
It was Tommy who was the favoured of the gods, you remember, not
Elspeth wondered to see her, after the publication of that book,
looking much as usual. "You know how he loved you now," she said,
perhaps a little reproachfully.
"Yes," Grizel answered, "I know; I knew before the book came out."
"You must be sorry for him?"
"But proud of him also," Elspeth said. "You have a right to be proud."
"I am as proud," Grizel replied, "as I have a right to be."
Something in her voice touched Elspeth, who was so happy that she
wanted everyone to be happy. "I want you to know, Grizel," she said
warmly, "that I don't blame you for not being able to love him; we
can't help those things. Nor need you blame yourself too much, for I
have often heard him say that artists must suffer in order to produce
"But I cannot remember," Elspeth had to admit, with a sigh, to David,
"that she made any answer to that, except 'Thank you.'"
Grizel was nearly as reticent to David himself. Once only did she
break down for a moment in his presence. It was when he was telling
her that the issue of the book had been stopped.
"But I see you know already," he said. "Perhaps you even know
why--though he has not given any sufficient reason to Elspeth."
David had given his promise, she reminded him, not to ask her any
questions about Tommy.
"But I don't see why I should keep it," he said bluntly.
"Because you dislike him," she replied.
"Grizel," he declared, "I have tried hard to like him. I have thought
and thought about it, and I can't see that he has given me any just
cause to dislike him."
"And that," said Grizel, "makes you dislike him more than ever."
"I know that you cared for him once," David persisted, "and I know
that he wanted to marry you--"
But she would not let him go on. "David," she said, "I want to give up
my house, and I want you to take it. It is the real doctor's house of
Thrums, and people in need of you still keep ringing me up of nights.
The only door to your surgery is through my passage; it is I who
should be in lodgings now."
"Do you really think I would, Grizel!" he cried indignantly.
"Rather than see the dear house go into another's hands," she answered
steadily; "for I am determined to leave it. Dr. McQueen won't feel
strange when he looks down, David, if it is only you he sees moving
about the old rooms, instead of me."
"You are doing this for me, Grizel, and I won't have it."
"I give you my word," she told him, "that I am doing it for myself
alone. I am tired of keeping a house, and of all its worries. Men
don't know what they are."
She was smiling, but his brows wrinkled in pain. "Oh, Grizel!" he
said, and stopped. And then he cried, "Since when has Grizel ceased to
care for housekeeping?"
She did not say since when. I don't know whether she knew; but it was
since she and Tommy had ceased to correspond. David's words showed her
too suddenly how she had changed, and it was then that she broke down
before him--because she had ceased to care for housekeeping.
But she had her way, and early in the new year David and his wife were
established in their new home, with all Grizel's furniture, except
such as was needed for the two rooms rented by her from Gavinia. She
would have liked to take away the old doctor's chair, because it was
the bit of him left behind when he died, and then for that very reason
she did not. She no longer wanted him to see her always. "I am not so
nice as I used to be, and I want to keep it from you," she said to the
chair when she kissed it good-bye.
Was Grizel not as nice as she used to be? How can I answer, who love
her the more only? There is one at least, Grizel, who will never
Ah, but was she?
I seem again to hear the warning voice of Grizel, and this time she is
crying: "You know I was not."
She knew it so well that she could say it to herself quite calmly. She
knew that, with whatever repugnance she drove those passions away,
they would come back--yes, and for a space be welcomed back. Why does
she leave Gavinia's blue hearth this evening, and seek the solitary
Den? She has gone to summon them, and she knows it. They come thick in
the Den, for they know the place. It was there that her mother was
wont to walk with them. Have they been waiting for you in the Den,
Grizel, all this time? Have you found your mother's legacy at last?
Don't think that she sought them often. It was never when she seemed
to have anything to live for. Tommy would not write to her, and so did
not want her to write to him; but if that bowed her head, it never
made her rebel. She still had her many duties. Whatever she suffered,
so long as she could say, "I am helping him," she was in heart and
soul the Grizel of old. In his fits of remorse, which were many, he
tried to produce work that would please her. Thus, in a heroic attempt
to be practical, he wrote a political article in one of the reviews,
quite in the ordinary style, but so much worse than the average of
such things that they would never have printed it without his name. He
also contributed to a magazine a short tale,--he who could never write
tales,--and he struck all the beautiful reflections out of it, and
never referred to himself once, and the result was so imbecile that
kindly people said there must be another writer of the same name.
"Show them to Grizel," Tommy wrote to Elspeth, inclosing also some of
the animadversions of the press, and he meant Grizel to see that he
could write in his own way only. But she read those two efforts with
delight, and said to Elspeth, "Tell him I am so proud of them."
Elspeth thought it very nice of Grizel to defend the despised in this
way (even Elspeth had fallen asleep over the political paper). She did
not understand that Grizel loved them because they showed Tommy trying
to do without his wings.
Then another trifle by him appeared, shorter even than the others; but
no man in England could have written it except T. Sandys. It has not
been reprinted, and I forget everything about it except that its
subject was love. "Will not the friends of the man who can produce
such a little masterpiece as this," the journals said, "save him from
wasting his time on lumber for the reviews, and drivelling tales?" And
Tommy suggested to Elspeth that she might show Grizel this exhortation
Grizel saw she was not helping him at all. If he would not fight, why
should she? Oh, let her fall and fall, it would not take her farther
from him! These were the thoughts that sent her into solitude, to meet
with worse ones. She could not face the morrow. "What shall I do
to-morrow?" She never shrank from to-day--it had its duties; it could
be got through: but to-morrow was a never-ending road. Oh, how could
she get through to-morrow?
Her great friend at this time was Corp; because he still retained his
faith in Tommy. She could always talk of Tommy to Corp.
How loyal Corp was! He still referred to Tommy as "him." Gavinia, much
distressed, read aloud to Corp a newspaper attack on the political
article, and all he said was, "He'll find a wy."
"He's found it," he went upstairs to announce to Grizel, when the
praises of the "little masterpiece" arrived.
"Yes, I know, Corp," she answered quietly. She was sitting by the
window where the plant was. Tommy had asked her to take care of it,
without telling her why.
Something in her appearance troubled the hulking, blundering man. He
could not have told what it was. I think it was simply this--that
Grizel no longer sat erect in her chair.
"I'm nain easy in my mind about Grizel," he said that evening to
Gavinia. "There's something queery about her, though I canna bottom
"Yea?" said Gavinia, with mild contempt.
He continued pulling at his pipe, grunting as if in pleasant pain,
which was the way Corp smoked.
"I could see she's no pleased, though he has found a wy," he said.
"What pleasure should she be able to sook out o' his keeping
ding-ding-danging on about that woman?" retorted Gavinia.
"The London besom that gae him the go-by."
"Was there sic a woman!" Corp cried.
"Of course there was, and it's her that he's aye writing about."
"Havers, Gavinia! It's Grizel he's aye writing about, and it was
Grizel that gae him the go-by. It's town talk."
But whatever the town might say, Gavinia stuck to her opinion.
"Grizel's no near so neat in her dressing as she was," she informed
Corp, "and her hair is no aye tidy, and that bonnet she was in
yesterday didna set her."
"I've noticed it," cried Corp. "I've noticed it this while back,
though I didna ken I had noticed it, Gavinia. I wonder what can be the
"It's because nobody cares," Gavinia replied sadly. Trust one woman to
"We a' care," said Corp, stoutly.
"We're a' as nothing, Corp, when he doesna care. She's fond o' him,
"Of course she is, in a wy. Whaur's the woman that could help it?"
"There's many a woman that could help it," said Gavinia, tartly, for
the honour of her sex, "but she's no are o' them." To be candid,
Gavinia was not one of them herself. "I'm thinking she's terrible fond
o' him," she said, "and I'm nain sure that he has treated her weel."
"Woman, take care; say a word agin him and I'll mittle you!" Corp
thundered, and she desisted in fear.
But he made her re-read the little essay to him in instalments, and at
the end he said victoriously, "You blethering crittur, there's no sic
woman. It's just another o' his ploys!"
He marched upstairs to Grizel with the news, and she listened kindly.
"I am sure you are right," she said; "you understand him better than
any of them, Corp," and it was true.
He thought he had settled the whole matter. He was burning to be
downstairs to tell Gavinia that these things needed only a man. "And
so you'll be yoursel' again, Grizel," he said, with great relief.
She had not seen that he was aiming at her until now, and it touched
her. "Am I so different, Corp?"
Not at all, he assured her delicately, but she was maybe no quite so
neatly dressed as she used to be, and her hair wasna braided back so
smooth, and he didna think that bonnet quite set her.
"Gavinia has been saying that to you!"
"I noticed it mysel', Grizel; I'm a terrible noticher."
"Perhaps you are right," she said, reflecting, after looking at
herself for the first time for some days. "But to think of your
"I care most michty," he replied, with terrific earnestness.
"I must try to satisfy you, then," she said, smiling. "But, Corp,
please don't discuss me with Gavinia."
This request embarrassed him, for soon again he did not know how to
act. There was Grizel's strange behaviour with the child, for
instance. "No, I won't come down to see him to-day, Corp," she had
said; "somehow children weary me."
Such words from Grizel! His mouth would not shut and he could say
nothing. "Forgive me, Corp!" she cried remorsefully, and ran
downstairs, and with many a passionate caress asked forgiveness of the
Corp followed her, and for the moment he thought he must have been
dreaming upstairs. "I wish I saw you wi' bairns o' your ain, Grizel,"
he said, looking on entranced; but she gave him such a pitiful smile
that he could not get it out of his head. Deprived of Gavinia's
counsel, and afraid to hurt Elspeth, he sought out the doctor and said
bluntly to him, "How is it he never writes to Grizel? She misses him
"So," David thought, "Grizel's dejection is becoming common talk."
"Damn him!" he said, in a gust of fury.
But this was too much for loyal Corp. "Damn you!" he roared.
But in his heart he knew that the doctor was a just man, and
henceforth, when he was meaning to comfort Grizel, he was often
seeking comfort for himself.
He did it all with elaborate cunning, to prevent her guessing that he
was disturbed about her: asked permission to sit with her, for
instance, because he was dull downstairs; mentioned as a ludicrous
thing that there were people who believed Tommy could treat a woman
badly, and waited anxiously for the reply. Oh, he was transparent, was
Corp, but you may be sure Grizel never let him know that she saw
through him. Tommy could not be blamed, she pointed out, though he did
not care for some woman who perhaps cared for him.
"Exac'ly," said Corp.
And if he seemed, Grizel went on, with momentary bitterness, to treat
her badly, it could be only because she had made herself cheap.
"That's it," said Corp, cheerfully. Then he added hurriedly, "No,
that's no it ava. She's the last to mak' hersel' cheap." Then he saw
that this might put Grizel on the scent. "Of course there's no sic
woman," he said artfully, "but if there was, he would mak' it a'
right. She mightna see how it was to be done, but kennin' what a
crittur he is, she maun be sure he would find a wy. She would never
lose hope, Grizel."
And then, if Grizel did not appease him instantly, he would say
appealingly, "I canna think less o' him, Grizel; no, it would mak' me
just terrible low. Grizel," he would cry sternly, "dinna tell me to
think less o' that laddie."
Then, when she had reassured him, he would recall the many instances
in which Tommy as a boy had found a way. "Did we ever ken he was
finding it, Grizel, till he did find it? Many a time I says to mysel',
says I, 'All is over,' and syne next minute that holy look comes ower
his face, and he stretches out his legs like as if he was riding on a
horse, and all that kens him says, 'He has found a wy.' If I was the
woman (no that there is sic a woman) I would say to mysel', 'He was
never beat,' I would say, 'when he was a laddie, and it's no likely
he'll be beat when he's a man'; and I wouldna sit looking at the fire
wi' my hands fauded, nor would I forget to keep my hair neat, and I
would wear the frock that set me best, and I would play in my auld
bonny wy wi' bairns, for says I to mysel', 'I'm sure to hae bairns o'
my ain some day, and--"'
But Grizel cried, "Don't, Corp, don't!"
"I winna," he answered miserably, "no, I winna. Forgive me, Grizel; I
think I'll be stepping"; and then when he got as far as the door he
would say, "I canna do 't, Grizel; I'm just terrible wae for the woman
(if sic a woman there be), but I canna think ill o' him; you mauna
speir it o' me."
He was much brightened by a reflection that came to him one day in
church. "Here have I been near blaming him for no finding a wy, and
very like he doesna ken we want him to find a wy!"
How to inform Tommy without letting Grizel know? She had tried twice
long ago to teach him to write, but he found it harder on the wrists
than the heaviest luggage. It was not safe for him even to think of
the extra twirl that turned an _n_ into an _m_, without first removing
any knick-knacks that might be about. Nevertheless, he now proposed a
third set-to, and Grizel acquiesced, though she thought it but another
of his inventions to keep her from brooding.
The number of words in the English tongue excited him, and he often
lost all by not confining the chase to one, like a dog after rabbits.
Fortunately, he knew which words he wanted to bag.
"Change at Tilliedrum!" "Tickets! show your tickets!" and the like, he
much enjoyed meeting in the flesh, so to speak.
"Let's see 'Find a wy,' Grizel," he would say. "Ay, ay, and is that
the crittur!" and soon the sly fellow could write it, or at least draw
He affected an ambition to write a letter to his son on that
gentleman's first birthday, and so "Let's see what 'I send you these
few scrapes' is like, Grizel." She assured him that this is not
essential in correspondence, but all the letters he had ever heard
read aloud began thus, and he got his way.
Anon Master Shiach was surprised and gratified to receive the
following epistle: "My dear sir, I send you these few scrapes to tell
you as you have found a way to be a year of age the morn. All tickets
ready in which Gavinia joins so no more at present I am, sir, your
obed't father Corp Shiach."
The fame of this letter went abroad, but not a soul knew of the next.
It said: "My dear Sir, I send you these few scrapes to tell you as
Grizel needs cheering up. Kindly oblidge by finding a way so no more
at present. I am sir your obed't Serv't Corp Shiach."
To his bewilderment, this produced no effect, though only because
Tommy never got it, and he wrote again, more sternly, requesting his
hero to find a way immediately. He was waiting restlessly for the
answer at a time when Elspeth called on Grizel to tell her of
something beautiful that Tommy had done. He had been very ill for
nearly a fortnight, it appeared, but had kept it from her to save her
anxiety. "Just think, Grizel; all the time he was in bed with
bronchitis he was writing me cheerful letters every other day
pretending there was nothing the matter with him. He is better now. I
have heard about it from a Mrs. Jerry, a lady whom I knew in London,
and who has nursed him in the kindest way." (But this same Mrs. Jerry
had opened Corp's letters and destroyed them as of no importance.) "He
would never have mentioned it himself. How like him, Grizel! You
remember, I made him promise before he went back to London that if he
was ill he would let me know at once so that I could go to him, but he
is so considerate he would not give me pain. He wrote those letters,
Grizel, when he was gasping for breath."
"But she seemed quite unmoved," Elspeth said sadly to her husband
Unmoved! Yes; Grizel remained apparently unmoved until Elspeth had
gone, but then--the torture she endured! "Oh, cruel, cruel!" she
cried, and she could neither stand nor sit; she flung herself down
before the fire and rocked this way and that, in a paroxysm of woe.
"Oh, cruel, cruel!"
It was Tommy who was cruel. To be ill, near to dying, apparently, and
not to send her word! She could never, never have let him go had he
not made that promise to Elspeth; and he kept it thus. Oh, wicked,
"You would have gone to him at once, Elspeth! You! Who are you, that
talks of going to him as your right? He is not yours, I tell you; he
is mine! He is mine alone; it is I who would go to him. Who is this
woman that dares take my place by his side when he is ill!"
She rose to go to him, to drive away all others. I am sure that was
what gave her strength to rise; but she sank to the floor again, and
her passion lasted for hours. And through the night she was crying to
God that she would be brave no more. In her despair she hoped he heard
Her mood had not changed when David came to see her next morning, to
admit, too, that Tommy seemed to have done an unselfish thing in
concealing his illness from them. Grizel nodded, but he thought she
was looking strangely reckless. He had a message from Elspeth. Tommy
had asked her to let him know whether the plant was flourishing.
"So you and he don't correspond now?" David said, with his old,
"No," was all her answer to that. The plant, she thought, was dead;
she had not, indeed, paid much attention to it of late; but she showed
it to David, and he said it would revive if more carefully tended. He
also told her its rather pathetic history, which was new to Grizel,
and of the talk at the wedding which had led to Tommy's taking pity on
it. "Fellow-feeling, I suppose," he said lightly; "you see, they both
The words were forgotten by him as soon as spoken; but Grizel sat on
with them, for they were like a friend--or was it an enemy?--who had
come to tell her strange things. Yes, the doctor was right. Now she
knew why Tommy had loved this plant. Of the way in which he would sit
looking wistfully at it, almost nursing it, she had been told by
Aaron; he had himself begged her to tend it lovingly. Fellow-feeling!
The doctor was shrewder than he thought.
Well, what did it matter to her? All that day she would do nothing for
the plant, but in the middle of the night she rose and ran to it and
hugged it, and for a time she was afraid to look at it by lamplight,
lest Tommy was dead. Whether she had never been asleep that night, or
had awakened from a dream, she never knew, but she ran to the plant,
thinking it and Tommy were as one, and that they must die together. No
such thought had ever crossed his mind, but it seemed to her that she
had been told it by him, and she lit her fire to give the plant
warmth, and often desisted, to press it to her bosom, the heat seemed
to come so reluctantly from the fire. This idea that his fate was
bound up with that of the plant took strange possession of the once
practical Grizel; it was as if some of Tommy's nature had passed into
her to help her break the terrible monotony of the days.
And from that time there was no ailing child more passionately tended
than the plant, and as spring advanced it began once more to put forth
And Grizel also seemed glorified again. She was her old self. Dark
shapes still lingered for her in the Den, but she avoided them, and if
they tried to enter into her, she struggled with them and cast them
out. As she saw herself able to fight and win once more, her pride
returned to her, and one day she could ask David, joyously, to give
her a present of the old doctor's chair. And she could kneel by its
side and say to it, "You can watch me always; I am just as I used to
Seeing her once more the incarnation of vigor and content, singing
gaily to his child, and as eager to be at her duties betimes as a
morning in May, Corp grunted with delight, and was a hero for not
telling her that it was he who had passed Tommy the word. For, of
course, Tommy had done it all.
"Somebody has found a wy, Grizel!" he would say, chuckling, and she
smiled an agreement.
"And yet," says he, puzzled, "I've watched, and you hinna haen a
letter frae him. It defies the face o' clay to find out how he has
managed it. Oh, the crittur! Ay, I suppose you dinna want to tell me
what it is that has lichted you up again?"
She could not tell him, for it was a compact she had made with one who
did not sign it. "I shall cease to be bitter and despairing and
wicked, and try every moment of my life to be good and do good, so
long as my plant flourishes; but if it withers, then I shall go to
him--I don't care what happens; I shall go to him."
It was the middle of June when she first noticed that the plant was
beginning to droop.
Nothing could have been less expected. In the beginning of May its
leaves had lost something of their greenness. The plant seemed to be
hesitating, but she coaxed it over the hill, and since then it had
scarcely needed her hand; almost light-headedly it hurried into its
summer clothes, and new buds broke out on it, like smiles, at the
fascinating thought that there was to be a to-morrow. Grizel's plant
had never been so brave in its little life when suddenly it turned
That was the day on which Elspeth and David were leaving for a
fortnight's holiday with his relatives by the sea; for Elspeth needed
and was getting special devotion just now, and Grizel knew why. She
was glad they were going; it was well that they should not be there to
ask questions if she also must set forth on a journey.
For more than a week she waited, and everything she could do for her
plant she did. She watched it so carefully that she might have
deceived herself into believing that it was standing still only, had
there been no night-time. She thought she had not perhaps been
sufficiently good, and she tried to be more ostentatiously satisfied
with her lot. Never had she forced herself to work quite so hard for
others as in those few days, and then when she came home it had
drooped a little more.
When she was quite sure that it was dying, she told Corp she was going
to London by that night's train. "He is ill, Corp, and I must go to
Ill! But how had he let her know?
"He has found a way," she said, with a tremulous smile. He wanted her
to telegraph; but no, she would place no faith in telegrams.
At least she could telegraph to Elspeth and the doctor. One of them
"It is I who am going," she said quietly. "I can't wait any longer. It
was a promise, Corp. He loves me." They were the only words she said
which suggest that there was anything strange about Grizel at this
Corp saw how determined she was when she revealed, incidentally, that
she had drawn a sum of money out of the bank a week ago, "to be
"What will folk say!" he cried.
"You can tell Gavinia the truth when I am gone," she told him. "She
will know better than you what to say to other people." And that was
some comfort to him, for it put the burden of invention upon his wife.
So it was Corp who saw Grizel off. He was in great distress himself
about Tommy, but he kept a courageous face for her, and his last words
flung in at the carriage window were, "Now dinna be down-hearted; I'm
nain down-hearted mysel', for we're very sure he'll find a wy." And
Grizel smiled and nodded, and the train turned the bend that shuts out
the little town of Thrums. The town vanishes quickly, but the quarry
we howked it out of stands grim and red, watching the train for many a
Of Grizel's journey to London there are no particulars to tell. She
was wearing her brown jacket and fur cap because Tommy had liked them,
and she sat straight and stiff all the way. She had never been in a
train since she was a baby, except two or three times to Tilliedrum,
and she thought this was the right way to sit. Always, when the train
stopped, which was at long intervals, she put her head out at the
window and asked if this was the train to London. Every station a
train stops at in the middle of the night is the infernal regions, and
she shuddered to hear lost souls clanking their chains, which is what
a milk-can becomes on its way to the van; but still she asked if this
was the train to London. When fellow-passengers addressed her, she was
very modest and cautious in her replies. Sometimes a look of
extraordinary happiness, of radiance, passed over her face, and may
have puzzled them. It was part of the thought that, however ill he
might be, she was to see him now.
She did not see him as soon as she expected, for at the door of
Tommy's lodgings they told her that he had departed suddenly for the
Continent about a week ago. He was to send an address by and by to
which letters could be forwarded. Was he quite well when he went away?
Grizel asked, shaking.
The landlady and her daughter thought he was rather peakish, but he
had not complained.
He went away for his health, Grizel informed them, and he was very ill
now. Oh, could they not tell her where he was? All she knew was that
he was very ill. "I am engaged to be married to him," she said with
dignity. Without this strange certainty that Tommy loved her at last,
she could not have trod the road which faced her now. Even when she
had left the house, where at their suggestion she was to call
to-morrow, she found herself wondering at once what he would like her
to do now, and she went straight to a hotel, and had her box sent to
it from the station, and she remained there all day because she
thought that this was what he would like her to do. She sat bolt
upright on a cane chair in her bedroom, praying to God with her eyes
open; she was begging Him to let Tommy tell her where he was, and
promising to return home at once if he did not need her.
Next morning they showed her, at his lodgings, two lines in a
newspaper, which said that he was ill with bronchitis at the Hotel
Krone, Bad-Platten, in Switzerland.
It may have been an answer to her prayer, as she thought, but we know
now how the paragraph got into print. On the previous evening the
landlady had met Mr. Pym on the ladder of an omnibus, and told him,
before they could be plucked apart, of the lady who knew that Mr.
Sandys was ill. It must be bronchitis again. Pym was much troubled; he
knew that the Krone at Bad-Platten had been Tommy's destination. He
talked that day, and one of the company was a reporter, which accounts
for the paragraph.
Grizel found out how she could get to Bad-Platten. She left her box
behind her at the cloakroom of the railway station, where I suppose it
was sold years afterwards. From Dover she sent a telegram to Tommy,
saying: "I am coming. GRIZEL."
On entering the train at Calais she had a railway journey of some
thirty hours, broken by two changes only. She could speak a little
French, but all the use she made of it was to ask repeatedly if she
was in the right train. An English lady who travelled with her for
many hours woke up now and again to notice that this quiet,
prim-looking girl was always sitting erect, with her hand on her
umbrella, as if ready to leave the train at any moment. The lady
pointed out some of the beauties of the scenery to her, and Grizel
tried to listen. "I am afraid you are unhappy," her companion said at
"That is not why I am crying," Grizel said; "I think I am crying
because I am so hungry."
The stranger gave her sandwiches and claret as cold as the rivers that
raced the train; and Grizel told her, quite frankly, why she was going
to Bad-Platten. She did not tell his name, only that he was ill, and
that she was engaged to him, and he had sent for her. She believed it
all. The lady was very sympathetic, and gave her information about the
diligence by which the last part of Grizel's journey must be made, and
also said: "You must not neglect your meals, if only for his sake; for
how can you nurse him back to health if you arrive at Bad-Platten ill
yourself? Consider his distress if he were to be told that you were in
the inn, but not able to go to him."
"Oh!" Grizel cried, rocking her arms for the first time since she knew
her plant was drooping. She promised to be very practical henceforth,
so as to have strength to take her place by his side at once. It was
strange that she who was so good a nurse had forgotten these things,
so strange that it alarmed her, as if she feared that, without being
able to check herself, she was turning into some other person.
The station where she alighted was in a hubbub of life; everyone
seemed to leave the train here, and to resent the presence of all the
others. They were mostly English. The men hung back, as if, now that
there was business to be done in some foolish tongue, they had better
leave the ladies to do it. Many of them seemed prepared, if there was
dissension, to disown their womankind and run for it. They looked
haughty and nervous. Such of them as had tried to shave in the train
were boasting of it and holding handkerchiefs to their chins. The
ladies were moving about in a masterful way, carrying bunches of keys.
When they had done everything, the men went and stood by their sides
Outside the station buses and carriages were innumerable, and
everybody was shouting; but Grizel saw that nearly all her
fellow-passengers were hurrying by foot or conveyance to one spot, all
desirous of being there first, and she thought it must be the place
where the diligence started from, and pressed on with them. It proved
to be a hotel where they all wanted the best bedroom, and many of them
had telegraphed for it, and they gathered round a man in uniform and
demanded that room of him; but he treated them as if they were little
dogs and he was not the platter, and soon they were begging for a room
on the fourth floor at the back, and swelling with triumph if they got
it. The scrimmage was still going on when Grizel slipped out of the
hotel, having learned that the diligence would not start until the
following morning. It was still early in the afternoon. How could she
wait until to-morrow?
Bad-Platten was forty miles away. The road was pointed out to her. It
began to climb at once. She was to discover that for more than thirty
miles it never ceased to climb. She sat down, hesitating, on a little
bridge that spanned a horrible rushing white stream. Poets have sung
the glories of that stream, but it sent a shiver through her. On all
sides she was caged in by a ring of splendid mountains, but she did
not give them one admiring glance (there is a special spot where the
guide-books advise you to stop for a moment to do it); her one
passionate desire was to fling out her arms and knock them over.
She had often walked twenty miles in a day, in a hill country too,
without feeling tired, and there seemed no reason why she should not
set off now. There were many inns on the way, she was told, where she
could pass the night. There she could get the diligence next day. This
would not bring her any sooner to him than if she waited here until
to-morrow; but how could she sit still till to-morrow? She must be
moving; she seemed to have been sitting still for an eternity. "I must
not do anything rash," she told herself, carefully. "I must arrive at
Bad-Platten able to sit down beside him the moment I have taken off my
jacket--oh, without waiting to take off my jacket." She went into the
hotel and ate some food, just to show herself how careful she had
become. About three o'clock she set off. She had a fierce desire to
get away from that heartless white stream and the crack of whips and
the doleful pine woods, and at first she walked very quickly; but she
never got away from them, for they marched with her. It was not that
day, but the next, that Grizel thought anything was marching with her.
That day her head was quite clear, and she kept her promise to
herself, and as soon as she felt tired she stopped for the night at a
village inn. But when she awoke very early next morning she seemed to
have forgotten that she was to travel the rest of the way by
diligence; for, after a slight meal, she started off again on foot,
and she was walking all day.
She passed through many villages so like each other that in time she
thought they might be the same. There was always a monster inn whence
one carriage was departing as another drove up, and there was a great
stone water-tank in which women drew their washing back and forward,
and there was always a big yellow dog that barked fiercely and then
giggled, and at the doors of painted houses children stood. You knew
they were children by their size only. The one person she spoke to
that day was a child who offered her a bunch of wild flowers. No one
was looking, and Grizel kissed her and then hurried on.
The carriage passed and repassed her. There must have been a hundred
of them, but in time they became one. No sooner had it disappeared in
dust in front of her than she heard the crack of its whip behind.
It was a glorious day of sweltering sun; but she was bewildered now,
and did not open the umbrella with which she had shielded her head
yesterday. In the foreground was always the same white road, on both
sides the same pine wood laughing with wild flowers, the same roaring
white stream. From somewhere near came the tinkle of cow-bells. Far
away on heights, if she looked up, were villages made of match-boxes.
She saw what were surely the same villages if she looked down; or the
one was the reflection of the other, in the sky above or in the valley
below. They stood out so vividly that they might have been within
arm's reach. They were so small that she felt she could extinguish
them with her umbrella. Near them was the detestably picturesque
castle perched upon a bracket. Everywhere was that loathly waterfall.
Here and there were squares of cultivated land that looked like
door-mats flung out upon the hillsides. The huge mountains raised
their jagged heads through the snow, and were so sharp-edged that they
might have been clipped out of cardboard. The sky was blue, without a
flaw; but lost clouds crawled like snakes between heaven and earth.
All day the sun scorched her, but the night was nipping cold.
From early morn till evening she climbed to get away from them, but
they all marched with her. They waited while she slept. She woke up in
an inn, and could have cried with delight because she saw nothing but
bare walls. But as soon as she reached the door, there they all were,
ready for her. An hour after she set off, she again reached that door;
and she stopped at it to ask if this was the inn where she had passed
the night. Everything had turned with her. Two squalls of sudden rain
drenched her that day, and she forced her way through the first, but
sought a covering from the second.
It was then afternoon, and she was passing through a village by a
lake. Since Grizel's time monster hotels have trampled the village to
death, and the shuddering lake reflects all day the most hideous of
caravansaries flung together as with a giant shovel in one of the
loveliest spots on earth. Even then some of the hotels had found it
out. Grizel drew near to two of them, and saw wet halls full of open
umbrellas which covered the floor and looked like great beetles. These
buildings were too formidable, and she dragged herself past them. She
came to a garden of hops and evergreens. Wet chairs were standing in
the deserted walks, and here and there was a little arbour. She went
into one of these arbours and sat down, and soon slid to the floor.
The place was St. Gian, some miles from Bad-Platten; but one of the
umbrellas she had seen was Tommy's. Others belonged to Mrs. Jerry and
TWO OF THEM
When Tommy started impulsively on what proved to be his only
Continental trip he had expected to join Mrs. Jerry and her
stepdaughter at Bad-Platten. They had been there for a fortnight, and
"the place is a dream," Mrs. Jerry had said in the letter pressing him
to come; but it was at St. Gian that she met the diligence and told
him to descend. Bad-Platten, she explained, was a horror.
Her fuller explanation was that she was becoming known there as the
"Now, am I as round as all that?" she said plaintively to Tommy.
"Mrs. Jerry," he replied, with emotion, "you must not ask me what I
think of you." He always treated her with extraordinary respect and
chivalry now, and it awed her.
She had looked too, too round because she was in the company of Lady
Pippinworth. Everyone seemed to be too round or too large by the side
of that gifted lady, who somehow never looked too thin. She knew her
power. When there were women in the room whom she disliked she merely
went and stood beside them. In the gyrations of the dance the onlooker
would momentarily lose sight of her; she came and went like a blinking
candle. Men could not dance with her without its being said that they
were getting stout. There is nothing they dislike so much, yet they
did dance with her. Tommy, having some slight reason, was particularly
sensitive about references to his figure, yet it was Lady Pippinworth
who had drawn him to Switzerland. What was her strange attraction?
Calmly considered, she was preposterously thin, but men, at least,
could not think merely of her thinness, unless, when walking with her,
they became fascinated by its shadow on the ground. She was tall, and
had a very clear, pale complexion and light-brown hair. Light brown,
too, were her heavy eyelashes, which were famous for being
black-tipped, as if a brush had touched them, though it had not. She
made play with her eyelashes as with a fan, and sometimes the upper
and lower seemed to entangle for a moment and be in difficulties, from
which you wanted to extricate them in the tenderest manner. And the
more you wanted to help her the more disdainfully she looked at you.
Yet though she looked disdainful she also looked helpless. Now we have
the secret of her charm.
This helpless disdain was the natural expression of her face, and I am
sure she fell asleep with a curl of the lip. Her scorn of men so
maddened them that they could not keep away from her. "Damn!" they
said under their breath, and rushed to her. If rumour is to be
believed, Sir Harry Pippinworth proposed to her in a fury brought on
by the sneer with which she had surveyed his family portraits. I know
nothing more of Sir Harry, except that she called him Pips, which
seems to settle him.
"They will be calling me the round gentleman," Tommy said ruefully to
her that evening, as he strolled with her towards the lake, and indeed
he was looking stout. Mrs. Jerry did not accompany them; she wanted to
be seen with her trying stepdaughter as little as possible, and
Tommy's had been the happy proposal that he should attend them
alternately--"fling away my own figure to save yours," he had said
gallantly to Mrs. Jerry.
"Do you mind?" Lady Pippinworth asked.
"I mind nothing," he replied, "so long as I am with you."
He had not meant to begin so near the point where they had last left
off; he had meant to begin much farther back: but an irresistible
desire came over him to make sure that she really did permit him to
say this sort of thing.
Her only reply was a flutter of the little fans and a most
"Alice," said Tommy, in the old way.
"You don't understand what it is to me to say Alice again."
"Many people call me Alice."
"But they have a right to."
"I supposed you thought you had a right to also."
"No," said Tommy. "That is why I do it."
She strolled on, more scornful and helpless than ever. Apparently it
did not matter what one said to Lady Pippinworth; her pout kept it
within the proprieties.
There was a magnificent sunset that evening, which dyed a snow-topped
mountain pink. "That is what I came all the way from London to see,"
Tommy remarked, after they had gazed at it.
"I hope you feel repaid," she said, a little tartly.
"You mistake my meaning," he replied. "I had heard of these wonderful
sunsets, and an intense desire came over me to see you looking
disdainfully at them. Yes, I feel amply repaid. Did you notice, Alice,
or was it but a fancy of my own, that when he had seen the expression
on your face the sun quite slunk away?"
"I wonder you don't do so also," she retorted. She had no sense of
humour, and was rather stupid; so it is no wonder that the men ran
"I am more gallant than the sun," said he. "If I had been up there in
its place, Alice, and you had been looking at me, I could never have
She pouted contemptuously, which meant, I think, that she was well
pleased. Yet, though he seemed to be complimenting her, she was not
sure of him. She had never been sure of Tommy, nor, indeed, he of her,
which was probably why they were so interested in each other still.
"Do you know," Tommy said, "what I have told you is really at least
half the truth? If I did not come here to see you disdaining the sun,
I think I did come to see you disdaining me. Odd, is it not, if true,
that a man should travel so far to see a lip curl up?"
"You don't seem to know what brought you," she said.
"It seems so monstrous," he replied, musing. "Oh, yes, I am quite
certain that the curl of the lip is responsible for my being here; it
kept sending me constant telegrams; but what I want to know is, do I
come for the pleasure of the thing or for the pain? Do I like your
disdain, Alice, or does it make me writhe? Am I here to beg you to do
it again, or to defy it?"
"Which are you doing now?" she inquired.
"I had hoped," he said with a sigh, "that you could tell me that."
On another occasion they reached the same point in this discussion,
and went a little beyond it. It was on a wet afternoon, too, when
Tommy had vowed to himself to mend his ways. "That disdainful look is
you," he told her, "and I admire it more than anything in nature; and
yet, Alice, and yet----"
"Well?" she answered coldly, but not moving, though he had come
suddenly too near her. They were on a private veranda of the hotel,
and she was lolling in a wicker chair.
"And yet," he said intensely, "I am not certain that I would not give
the world to have the power to drive that look from your face. That, I
begin to think, is what brought me here."
"But you are not sure," she said, with a shrug of the shoulder.
It stung him into venturing further than he had ever gone with her
before. Not too gently, he took her head in both his hands and forced
her to look up at him. She submitted without a protest. She was
disdainful, but helpless.
"Well?" she said again.
He withdrew his hands, and she smiled mockingly.
"If I thought----" he cried with sudden passion, and stopped.
"You think a great deal, don't you?" she said. She was going now.
"If I thought there was any blood in your veins, you icy woman----"
"Or in your own," said she. But she said it a little fiercely, and he
"Alice," he cried, "I know now. It is to drive that look from your
face that I am here."
She courtesied from the door. She was quite herself again.
But for that moment she had been moved. He was convinced of it, and
his first feeling was of exultation as in an achievement. I don't know
what you are doing just now, Lady Pippinworth, but my compliments to
you, and T. Sandys is swelling.
There followed on this exultation another feeling as sincere--devout
thankfulness that he had gone no further. He drew deep breaths of
relief over his escape, but knew that he had not himself to thank. His
friends, the little sprites, had done it, in return for the amusement
he seemed to give them. They had stayed him in the nick of time, but
not earlier; it was quite as if they wanted Tommy to have his fun
first. So often they had saved him from being spitted, how could he
guess that the great catastrophe was fixed for to-night, and that
henceforth they were to sit round him counting his wriggles, as if
this new treatment of him tickled them even more than the other?
But he was too clever not to know that they might be fattening him for
some very special feast, and his thanks took the form of a vow to need
their help no more. To-morrow he would begin to climb the mountains
around St. Gian; if he danced attendance on her dangerous Ladyship
again, Mrs. Jerry should be there also, and he would walk
circumspectly between them, like a man with gyves upon his wrists. He
was in the midst of all the details of these reforms, when suddenly he
looked at himself thus occupied, and laughed bitterly; he had so often
come upon Tommy making grand resolves!
He stopped operations and sat down beside them. No one could have
wished more heartily to be anybody else, or have had less hope. He had
not even the excuse of being passionately drawn to this woman; he
remembered that she had never interested him until he heard of her
effect upon other men. Her reputation as a duellist, whose defence
none of his sex could pass, had led to his wondering what they saw in
her, and he had dressed himself in their sentiments and so approached
her. There were times in her company when he forgot that he was
wearing borrowed garments, when he went on flame, but he always knew,
as now, upon reflection. Nothing seemed easier at this moment than to
fling them aside; with one jerk they were on the floor. Obviously it
was only vanity that had inspired him, and vanity was satisfied: the
easier, therefore, to stop. Would you like to make the woman unhappy,
Tommy? You know you would not; you have somewhere about you one of the
softest hearts in the world. Then desist; be satisfied that you did
thaw her once, and grateful that she so quickly froze again. "I am;
indeed I am," he responds. "No one could have himself better in hand
for the time being than I, and if a competition in morals were now
going on, I should certainly take the medal. But I cannot speak for
myself an hour in advance. I make a vow, as I have done so often
before, but it does not help me to know what I may be at before the
night is out."
When his disgust with himself was at its height he suddenly felt like
a little god. His new book had come into view. He flicked a finger at
his reflection in a mirror. "That for you!" he said defiantly; "at
least I can write; I can write at last!"
The manuscript lay almost finished at the bottom of his trunk. It
could not easily have been stolen for one hour without his knowing.
Just when he was about to start on a walk with one of the ladies, he
would run upstairs to make sure that it was still there; he made sure
by feeling, and would turn again at the door to make sure by looking.
Miser never listened to the crispness of bank-notes with more avidity;
woman never spent more time in shutting and opening her jewel-box.
"I can write at last!" He knew that, comparatively speaking, he had
never been able to write before. He remembered the fuss that had been
made about his former books. "Pooh!" he said, addressing them
Once more he drew his beloved manuscript from its hiding-place. He did
not mean to read, only to fondle; but his eye chancing to fall on a
special passage--two hours afterwards he was interrupted by the
dinner-gong. He returned the pages to the box and wiped his eyes.
While dressing hurriedly he remembered with languid interest that Lady
Pippinworth was staying in the same hotel.
There were a hundred or more at dinner, and they were all saying the
same thing: "Where have you been to-day?" "Really! but the lower path
is shadier." "Is this your first visit?" "The glacier is very nice."
"Were you caught in the rain?" "The view from the top is very nice."
"After all, the rain lays the dust." "They give you two sweets at
Bad-Platten and an ice on Sunday." "The sunset is very nice." "The
poulet is very nice." The hotel is open during the summer months only,
but probably the chairs in the dining-room and the knives and forks in
their basket make these remarks to each other every evening throughout
Being a newcomer, Tommy had not been placed beside either of his
friends, who sat apart "because," Mrs. Jerry said, "she calls me
mamma, and I am not going to stand that." For some time he gave
thought to neither of them; he was engrossed in what he had been
reading, and it turned him into a fine and magnanimous character. When
gradually her Ladyship began to flit among his reflections, it was not
to disturb them, but because she harmonized. He wanted to apologize to
her. The apology grew in grace as the dinner progressed; it was so
charmingly composed that he was profoundly stirred by it.
The opportunity came presently in the hall, where it is customary
after dinner to lounge or stroll if you are afraid of the night air.
Or if you do not care for music, you can go into the drawing-room and
listen to the piano.
"I am sure mamma is looking for you everywhere," Lady Pippinworth
said, when Tommy took a chair beside her. "It is her evening, you
"Surely you would not drive me away," he replied with a languishing
air, and then smiled at himself, for he was done with this sort of
thing. "Lady Pippinworth," said he, firmly--it needs firmness when of
late you have been saying "Alice."
"I have been thinking----" Tommy began.
"I am sure you have," she said.
"I have been thinking," he went on determinedly, "that I played a poor
part this afternoon. I had no right to say what I said to you."
"As far as I can remember," she answered, "you did not say very much."
"It is like your generosity, Lady Pippinworth," he said, "to make
light of it; but let us be frank: I made love to you."
Anyone looking at his expressionless face and her lazy disdain (and
there were many in the hall) would have guessed that their talk was of
where were you to-day? and what should I do to-morrow?
"You don't really mean that?" her Ladyship said incredulously. "Think,
Mr. Sandys, before you tell me anything more. Are you sure you are not
confusing me with mamma?"
"I did it," said Tommy, remorsefully.
"In my absence?" she asked.
"When you were with me on the veranda."
Her eyes opened to their widest, so surprised that the lashes had no
time for their usual play.
"Was that what you call making love, Mr. Sandys?" she inquired.
"I call a spade a spade."
"And now you are apologizing to me, I understand?"
"If you can in the goodness of your heart forgive me, Lady
"Oh, I do," she said heartily, "I do. But how stupid you must have
thought me not even to know! I feel that it is I who ought to
apologize. What a number of ways there seem to be of making love, and
yours is such an odd way!"
Now to apologize for playing a poor part is one thing, and to put up
with the charge of playing a part poorly is quite another.
Nevertheless, he kept his temper.
"You have discovered an excellent way of punishing me," he said
manfully, "and I submit. Indeed, I admire you the more. So I am paying
you a compliment when I whisper that I know you knew."
But she would not have it. "You are so strangely dense to-night," she
said. "Surely, if I had known, I would have stopped you. You forget
that I am a married woman," she added, remembering Pips rather late in
"There might be other reasons why you did not stop me," he replied
"Well, you--you might have wanted me to go on."
He blurted it out.
"So," said she slowly, "you are apologizing to me for not going on?"
"I implore you, Lady Pippinworth," Tommy said, in much distress, "not
to think me capable of that. If I moved you for a moment, I am far
from boasting of it; it makes me only the more anxious to do what is
best for you."
This was not the way it had shaped during dinner, and Tommy would have
acted wisely had he now gone out to cool his head. "If you moved me?"
she repeated interrogatively; but, with the best intentions, he
continued to flounder.
"Believe me," he implored her, "had I known it could be done, I should
have checked myself. But they always insist that you are an iceberg,
and am I so much to blame if that look of hauteur deceived me with the
rest? Oh, dear Lady Disdain," he said warmly, in answer to one of her
most freezing glances, "it deceives me no longer. From that moment I
knew you had a heart, and I was shamed--as noble a heart as ever beat
in woman," he added. He always tended to add generous bits when he
found it coming out well.
"Does the man think I am in love with him?" was Lady Disdain's
"No, no, indeed!" he assured her earnestly. "I am not so vain as to
think that, nor so selfish as to wish it; but if for a moment you were
"But I was not," said she, stamping her shoe.
His dander began to rise, as they say in the north; but he kept grip
"If you were moved for a moment, Lady Pippinworth," he went on, in a
slightly more determined voice,--"I am far from saying that it was so;
"But as I was not----" she said.
It was no use putting things prettily to her when she snapped you up
in this way.
"You know you were," he said reproachfully.
"I assure you," said she, "I don't know what you are talking about,
but apparently it is something dreadful; so perhaps one of us ought to
As he did not take this hint, she opened a tattered Tauchnitz which
was lying at her elbow. They are always lying at your elbow in a Swiss
hotel, with the first pages missing.
Tommy watched her gloomily. "This is unworthy of you," he said.
He was not quite sure, but as he sat there misgivings entered his mind
and began to gnaw. Was it all a mistake of his? Undeniably he did
think too much. After all, had she not been moved? 'Sdeath!
His restlessness made her look up. "It must be a great load off your
mind," she said, with gentle laughter, "to know that your apology was
"It is," Tommy said; "it is." ('Sdeath!)
She resumed her book.
So this was how one was rewarded for a generous impulse! He felt very
bitter. "So, so," he said inwardly; also, "Very well, ve-ry well."
Then he turned upon himself. "Serve you right," he said brutally.
"Better stick to your books, Thomas, for you know nothing about
women." To think for one moment that he had moved her! That streak of
marble moved! He fell to watching her again, as if she were some
troublesome sentence that needed licking into shape. As she bent
impertinently over her book, she was an insult to man. All Tommy's
interest in her revived. She infuriated him.
"Alice," he whispered.
"Do keep quiet till I finish this chapter," she begged lazily.
It brought him at once to the boiling-point.
"Alice!" he said fervently.
She had noticed the change in his voice. "People are looking," she
said, without moving a muscle.
There was some subtle flattery to him in the warning, but he could not
ask for more, for just then Mrs. Jerry came in. She was cloaked for
the garden, and he had to go with her, sulkily. At the door she
observed that the ground was still wet.
"Are you wearing your goloshes?" said he, brightening. "You must get
them, Mrs. Jerry; I insist."
She hesitated. (Her room was on the third floor.) "It is very good of
you to be so thoughtful of me," she said, "but----"
"But I have no right to try to take care of you," he interposed in a
melancholy voice. "It is true. Let us go."
"I sha'n't be two minutes," said Mrs. Jerry, in a flutter, and went
off hastily for her goloshes, while he looked fondly after her. At the
turn of the stair she glanced back, and his eyes were still begging
her to hurry. It was a gracious memory to her in the after years, for
she never saw him again.
As soon as she was gone he returned to the hall, and taking from a peg
a cloak with a Mother Goose hood, brought it to Lady Pippinworth, who
had watched her mamma trip upstairs.
"Did I say I was going out?" she asked.
"Yes," said Tommy, and she rose to let him put the elegant thing round
her. She was one of those dangerous women who look their best when you
are helping them to put on their cloaks.
"Now," he instructed her, "pull the hood over your head."
"Is it so cold as that?" she said, obeying.
"I want you to wear it," he answered. What he meant was that she never
looked quite so impudent as in her hood, and his vanity insisted that
she should be armed to the teeth before they resumed hostilities. The
red light was in his eyes as he drew her into the garden where Grizel
THE RED LIGHT
It was an evening without stars, but fair, sufficient wind to make her
Ladyship cling haughtily to his arm as they turned corners. Many of
the visitors were in the garden, some grouped round a quartet of gaily
attired minstrels, but more sitting in little arbours or prowling in
search of an arbour to sit in; the night was so dark that when our two
passed beyond the light of the hotel windows they could scarce see the
shrubs they brushed against; cigars without faces behind them
sauntered past; several times they thought they had found an
unoccupied arbour at last, when they heard the clink of coffee-cups.
"I believe the castle dates from the fifteenth century," Tommy would
then say suddenly, though it was not of castles he had been talking.
With a certain satisfaction he noticed that she permitted him, without
comment, to bring in the castle thus and to drop it the moment the
emergency had passed. But he had little other encouragement. Even when
she pressed his arm it was only as an intimation that the castle was
"I can't even make her angry," he said wrathfully to himself.
"You answer not a word," he said in great dejection to her.
"I am afraid to speak," she admitted. "I don't know who may hear."
"Alice," he said eagerly, "what would you say if you were not afraid
They had stopped, and he thought she trembled a little on his arm, but
he could not be sure. He thought--but he was thinking too much again;
at least, Lady Pippinworth seemed to come to that conclusion, for with
a galling little laugh she moved on. He saw with amazing clearness
that he had thought sufficiently for one day.
On coming into the garden with her, and for some time afterwards, he
had been studying her so coolly, watching symptoms rather than words,
that there is nothing to compare the man to but a doctor who, while he
is chatting, has his finger on your pulse. But he was not so calm now.
Whether or not he had stirred the woman, he was rapidly firing
When next he saw her face by the light of a window, she at the same
instant turned her eyes on him; it was as if each wanted to know
correctly how the other had been looking in the darkness, and the
effect was a challenge.
Like one retreating a step, she lowered her eyes. "I am tired," she
said. "I shall go in."
"Let us stroll round once more."
"No, I am going in."
"If you are afraid----" he said, with a slight smile.
She took his arm again. "Though it is too bad of me to keep you out,"
she said, as they went on, "for you are shivering. Is it the night air
that makes you shiver?" she asked mockingly.
But she shivered a little herself, as if with a presentiment that she
might be less defiant if he were less thoughtful. For a month or more
she had burned to teach him a lesson, but there was a time before that
when, had she been sure he was in earnest, she would have preferred to
be the pupil.
Two ladies came out of an arbour where they had been drinking coffee,
and sauntered towards the hotel. It was a tiny building, half
concealed in hops and reached by three steps, and Tommy and his
companion took possession. He groped in the darkness for a chair for
her, and invited her tenderly to sit down. She said she preferred to
stand. She was by the open window, her fingers drumming on the sill.
Though he could not see her face, he knew exactly how she was looking.
"Sit down," he said, rather masterfully.
"I prefer to stand," she repeated languidly.
He had a passionate desire to take her by the shoulders, but put his
hand on hers instead, and she permitted it, like one disdainful but
helpless. She said something unimportant about the stillness.
"Is it so still?" he said in a low voice. "I seem to hear a great
noise. I think it must be the beating of my heart."
"I fancy that is what it is," she drawled.
"Do you hear it?"
"Did you ever hear your own heart beat, Alice?"
He had both her hands now. "Would you like to hear it?"
She pulled away her hands sharply. "Yes," she replied with defiance.
"But you pulled away your hands first," said he.
He heard her breathe heavily for a moment, but she said nothing.
"Yes," he said, as if she had spoken, "it is true."
"What is true?"
"What you are saying to yourself just now--that you hate me."
She beat the floor with her foot.
"How you hate me, Alice!"
"Yes, indeed you do."
"I wonder why," she said, and she trembled a little.
"I know why." He had come close to her again. "Shall I tell you why?"
She said "No," hurriedly.
"I am so glad you say No." He spoke passionately, and yet there was
banter in his voice, or so it seemed to her. "It is because you fear
to be told; it is because you had hoped that I did not know."
"Tell me why I hate you!" she cried.
"Tell me first that you do."
"Oh, I do, I do indeed!" She said the words in a white heat of hatred.
Before she could prevent him he had raised her hand to his lips.
"Dear Alice!" he said.
"Why is it?" she demanded.
"Listen!" he said. "Listen to your heart, Alice; it is beating now. It
is telling you why. Does it need an interpreter? It is saying you hate
me because you think I don't love you."
"Don't you?" she asked fiercely.
"No," Tommy said.
Her hands were tearing each other, and she could not trust herself to
speak. She sat down deadly pale in the chair he had offered her.
"No man ever loved you," he said, leaning over her with his hand on
the back of the chair. "You are smiling at that, I know; but it is
true, Lady Disdain. They may have vowed to blow their brains out, and
seldom did it; they may have let you walk over them, and they may have
become your fetch-and-carry, for you were always able to drive them
crazy; but love does not bring men so low. They tried hard to love
you, and it was not that they could not love; it was that you were
unlovable. That is a terrible thing to a woman. You think you let them
try to love you, that you might make them your slaves when they
succeeded; but you made them your slaves because they failed. It is a
power given to your cold and selfish nature in place of the capacity
for being able to be loved, with which women not a hundredth part as
beautiful as you are dowered, and you have a raging desire, Alice, to
exercise it over me as over the others; but you can't."
Had he seen her face then, it might have warned him to take care; but
he heard her words only, and they were not at all in keeping with her
"I see I can't," was what she cried, almost in a whisper.
"It is all true, Alice, is it not?"
"I suppose so. I don't know; I don't care." She swung round in her
chair and caught his sleeve. Her hands clung to it. "Say you love me
now," she said. "I cannot live without your love after this. What
shall I do to make you love me? Tell me, and I will do it."
He could not stop himself, for he mistrusted her still.
"I will not be your slave," he said, through his teeth. "You shall be
"You shall submit to me in everything. If I say 'come,' you shall come
to wheresoever it may be; and if I say 'stay,' and leave you for ever,
you shall stay."
"Very well," she said eagerly. She would have her revenge when he was
"You can continue to be the haughty Lady Disdain to others, but you
shall be only obedient little Alice to me."
"Very well." She drew his arm towards her and pressed her lips upon
it. "And for that you will love me a little, won't you? You will love
me at last, won't you?" she entreated.
He was a masterful man up to a certain point only. Her humility now
tapped him in a new place, and before he knew what he was about he
began to run pity.
"To humiliate you so, Alice! I am a dastard. I am not such a dastard
as you think me. I wanted to know that you would be willing to do all
these things, but I would never have let you do them."
"I am willing to do them."
"No, no." It was he who had her hands now. "It was brutal, but I did
it for you, Alice--for you. Don't you see I was doing it only to make
a woman of you? You were always adorable, but in a coat of mail that
would let love neither in nor out. I have been hammering at it to
break it only and free my glorious Alice. We had to fight, and one of
us had to give in. You would have flung me away if I had yielded--I
had to win to save you."
"Now I am lost indeed," he was saying to himself, even as it came
rushing out of him, and what appalled him most was that worse had
probably still to come. He was astride two horses, and both were at
the gallop. He flung out his arms as if seeking for something to check
As he did so she had started to her feet, listening. It seemed to her
that there was someone near them.
He flung out his arms for help, and they fell upon Lady Pippinworth
and went round her. He drew her to him. She could hear no breathing
now but his.
"Alice, I love you, for you are love itself; it is you I have been
chasing since first love rose like a bird at my feet; I never had a
passing fancy for any other woman; I always knew that somewhere in the
world there must be you, and sometime this starless night and you for
me. You were hidden behind walls of ice; no man had passed them; I
broke them down and love leaped to love, and you lie here, my
beautiful, love in the arms of its lover."
He was in a frenzy of passion now; he meant every word of it; and her
intention was to turn upon him presently and mock him, this man with
whom she had been playing. Oh, the jeering things she had to say! But
she could not say them yet; she would give her fool another moment--so
she thought, but she was giving it to herself; and as she delayed she
was in danger of melting in his arms.
"What does the world look like to you, my darling? You are in it for
the first time. You were born but a moment ago. It is dark, that you
may not be blinded before you have used your eyes. These are your
eyes, dear eyes that do not yet know their purpose; they are for
looking at me, little Alice, and mine are for looking into yours. I
cannot see you; I have never seen the face of my love--oh, my love,
come into the light that I may see your face."
They did not move. Her head had fallen on his shoulder. She was to
give it but a moment, and then----But the moment had passed and still
her hair pressed his cheek. Her eyes were closed. He seemed to have
found the way to woo her. Neither of them spoke. Suddenly they jumped
apart. Lady Pippinworth stole to the door. They held their breath and
It was not so loud now, but it was distinctly heard. It had been heavy
breathing, and now she was trying to check it and half succeeding--but
at the cost of little cries. They both knew it was a woman, and that
she was in the arbour, on the other side of the little table. She must
have been there when they came in.
"Who is that?"
There was no answer to him save the checked breathing and another
broken cry. She moved, and it helped him to see vaguely the outlines
of a girl who seemed to be drawing back from him in terror. He thought
she was crouching now in the farthest corner.
"Come away," he said. But Lady Pippinworth would not let him go. They
must know who this woman was. He remembered that a match-stand usually
lay on the tables of those arbours, and groped until he found one.
"Who are you?"
He struck a match. They were those French matches that play an
infernal interlude before beginning to burn. While he waited he knew
that she was begging him, with her hands and with cries that were too
little to be words, not to turn its light on her. But he did.
Then she ceased to cower. The girlish dignity that had been hers so
long came running back to her. As she faced him there was even a
crooked smile upon her face.
[Illustration: "I woke up," she said.]
"I woke up," she said, as if the words had no meaning to herself, but
might have some to him.
The match burned out before he spoke, but his face was terrible.
"Grizel!" he said, appalled; and then, as if the discovery was as
awful to her as to him, she uttered a cry of horror and sped out into
the night. He called her name again, and sprang after her; but the
hand of another woman detained him.
"Who is this girl?" Lady Pippinworth demanded fiercely; but he did not
answer. He recoiled from her with a shudder that she was not likely to
forget, and hurried on. All that night he searched for Grizel in vain.
THE LITTLE GODS DESERT HIM
And all next day he searched like a man whose eyes would never close
again. She had not passed the night in any inn or village house of St.
Gian; of that he made certain by inquiries from door to door. None of
the guides had seen her, though they are astir so late and so early,
patiently waiting at the hotel doors to be hired, that there seems to
be no night for them--darkness only, that blots them out for a time as
they stand waiting. At all hours there is in St. Gian the tinkle of
bells, the clatter of hoofs, the crack of a whip, dust in retreat; but
no coachman brought him news. The streets were thronged with other
coachmen on foot looking into every face in quest of some person who
wanted to return to the lowlands, but none had looked into her face.
Within five minutes of the hotel she might have been on any of half a
dozen roads. He wandered or rushed along them all for a space, and
came back. One of them was short and ended in the lake. All through
that long and beautiful day this miserable man found himself coming
back to the road that ended in the lake.
There were moments when he cried to himself that it was an apparition
he had seen and heard. He had avoided his friends all day; of the
English-speaking people in St. Gian one only knew why he was
distraught, and she was the last he wished to speak to; but more than
once he nearly sought her to say, "Partner in my shame, what did you
see? what did you hear?" In the afternoon he had a letter from Elspeth
telling him how she was enjoying her holiday by the sea, and
mentioning that David was at that moment writing to Grizel in Thrums.
But was it, then, all a dream? he cried, nearly convinced for the
first time, and he went into the arbour saying determinedly that it
was a dream; and in the arbour, standing primly in a corner, was
Grizel's umbrella. He knew that umbrella so well! He remembered once
being by while she replaced one of its ribs so deftly that he seemed
to be looking on at a surgical operation. The old doctor had given it
to her, and that was why she would not let it grow old before she was
old herself. Tommy opened it now with trembling hands and looked at
the little bits of Grizel on it: the beautiful stitching with which
she had coaxed the slits to close again; the one patch, so artful that
she had clapped her hands over it. And he fell on his knees and kissed
these little bits of Grizel, and called her "beloved," and cried to
his gods to give him one more chance.
"I woke up." It was all that she had said. It was Grizel's excuse for
inconveniencing him. She had said it apologetically and as if she did
not quite know how she came to be there herself. There was no look of
reproach on her face while the match burned; there had been a pitiful
smile, as if she was begging him not to be very angry with her; and
then when he said her name she gave that little cry as if she had
recognized herself, and stole away. He lived that moment over and over
again, and she never seemed to be horror-stricken until he cried
"Grizel!" when her recognition of herself made her scream. It was as
if she had wakened up, dazed by the terrible things that were being
said, and then, by the light of that one word "Grizel," suddenly knew
who had been listening to them.
Did he know anything more? He pressed his hands harshly on his temples
and thought. He knew that she was soaking wet, that she had probably
sought the arbour for protection from the rain, and that, if so, she
had been there for at least four hours. She had wakened up. She must
have fallen asleep, knocked down by fatigue. What fatigue it must have
been to make Grizel lie there for hours he could guess, and he beat
his brow in anguish. But why she had come he could not guess. "Oh,
miserable man, to seek for reasons," he cried passionately to himself,
"when it is Grizel--Grizel herself--you should be seeking for!"
He walked and ran the round of the lake, and it was not on the bank
that his staring eyes were fixed.
At last he came for a moment upon her track. The people of an inn six
miles from St. Gian remembered being asked yesterday by an English
miss, walking alone, how far she was from Bad-Platten. She was wearing
something brown, and her boots were white with dust, and these people
had never seen a lady look so tired before; when she stood still she
had to lean against the wall. They said she had red-hot eyes.
Tommy was in an einspaenner now, the merry conveyance of the country
and more intoxicating than its wines, and he drove back through St.
Gian to Bad-Platten, where again he heard from Grizel, though he did
not find her. What he found was her telegram from London: "I am
coming. GRIZEL." Why had she come? why had she sent that telegram?
what had taken her to London? He was not losing time when he asked
himself distractedly these questions, for he was again in his gay
carriage and driving back to the wayside inn. He spent the night
there, afraid to go farther lest he should pass her in the darkness;
for he had decided that, if alive, she was on this road. That she had
walked all those forty miles uphill seemed certain, and apparently the
best he could hope was that she was walking back. She had probably no
money to enable her to take the diligence. Perhaps she had no money
with which to buy food. It might be that while he lay tossing in bed
she was somewhere near, dying for want of a franc.
He was off by morning light, and several times that day he heard of
her, twice from people who had seen her pass both going and coming,
and he knew it must be she when they said she rocked her arms as she
walked. Oh, he knew why she rocked her arms! Once he thought he had
found her. He heard of an English lady who was lying ill in the house
of a sawmiller, whose dog (we know the dogs of these regions, but not
the people) had found her prostrate in the wood, some distance from
the highroad. Leaving his einspaenner in a village, Tommy climbed down
the mountain-side to this little house, which he was long in
discovering. It was by the side of a roaring river, and he arrived
only an hour too late. The lady had certainly been Grizel; but she was
gone. The sawyer's wife described to him how her husband had brought
her in, and how she seemed so tired and bewildered that she fell
asleep while they were questioning her. She held her hands over her
ears to shut out the noise of the river, which seemed to terrify her.
So far as they could understand, she told them that she was running
away from the river. She had been sleeping there for three hours, and
was still asleep when the good woman went off to meet her husband; but
when they returned she was gone.
He searched the wood for miles around, crying her name. The sawyer and
some of his fellow-workers left the trees they were stripping of bark
to help him, and for hours the wood rang with "Grizel, Grizel!" All
the mountains round took up the cry; but there never came an answer.
This long delay prevented his reaching the railway terminus until noon
of the following day, and there he was again too late. But she had
been here. He traced her to that hotel whence we saw her setting
forth, and the portier had got a ticket for her for London. He had
talked with her for some little time, and advised her, as she seemed
so tired, to remain there for the night. But she said she must go home
at once. She seemed to be passionately desirous to go home, and had
looked at him suspiciously, as if fearing he might try to hold her
back. He had been called away, and on returning had seen her
disappearing over the bridge. He had called to her, and then she ran
as if afraid he was pursuing her. But he had observed her afterwards
in the train.
So she was not without money, and she was on her way home! The relief
it brought him came to the surface in great breaths, and at first
every one of them was a prayer of thankfulness. Yet in time they were
triumphant breaths. Translated into words, they said that he had got
off cheaply for the hundredth time. His little gods had saved him
again, as they had saved him in the arbour by sending Grizel to him.
He could do as he liked, for they were always there to succour him;
they would never desert him--never. In a moment of fierce elation he
raised his hat to them, then seemed to see Grizel crying "I woke up,"
and in horror of himself clapped it on again. It was but a momentary
aberration, and is recorded only to show that, however remorseful he
felt afterwards, there was life in our Tommy still.
The train by which he was to follow her did not leave until evening,
and through those long hours he was picturing, with horrible vividness
and pain, the progress of Grizel up and down that terrible pass. Often
his shoulders shook in agony over what he saw, and he shuddered to the
teeth. He would have walked round the world on his knees to save her
this long anguish! And then again it was less something he saw than
something he was writing, and he altered it to make it more dramatic.
"I woke up." How awful that was! but in this new scene she uttered no
words. Lady Pippinworth was in his arms when they heard a little cry,
so faint that a violin string makes as much moan when it snaps. In a
dread silence he lit a match, and as it flared the figure of a girl
was seen upon the floor. She was dead; and even as he knew that she
was dead he recognized her. "Grizel!" he cried. The other woman who
had lured him from his true love uttered a piercing scream and ran
towards the hotel. When she returned with men and lanterns there was
no one in the arbour, but there were what had been a man and a girl.
They lay side by side. The startled onlookers unbared their heads. A
solemn voice said, "In death not divided."
He was not the only occupant of the hotel reading-room as he saw all
this, and when his head fell forward and he groaned, the others looked
up from their papers. A lady asked if he was unwell.
"I have had a great shock," he replied in a daze, pulling his hand
across his forehead.
"Something you have seen in your paper?" inquired a clergyman who had
been complaining that there was no news.
"People I knew," said Tommy, not yet certain which world he was in.
"Dead?" the lady asked sympathetically.
"I knew them well," he said, and staggered into the fresh air.
Poor dog of a Tommy! He had been a total abstainer from sentiment, as
one may say, for sixty hours, and this was his only glass. It was the
nobler Tommy, sternly facing facts, who by and by stepped into the
train. He even knew why he was going to Thrums. He was going to say
certain things to her; and he said them to himself again and again in
the train, and heard her answer. The words might vary, but they were
always to the same effect.
"Grizel, I have come back!"
He saw himself say these words, as he opened her door in Gavinia's
little house. And when he had said them he bowed his head.
At his sudden appearance she started up; then she stood pale and firm.
"Why have you come back?"
"Not to ask your forgiveness," he replied hoarsely; "not to attempt to
excuse myself; not with any hope that there remains one drop of the
love you once gave me so abundantly. I want only, Grizel, to put my
life into your hands. I have made a sorry mess of it myself. Will you
take charge of what may be left of it? You always said you were ready
to help me. I have come back, Grizel, for your help. What you were
once willing to do for love, will you do for pity now?"
She turned away her head, and he went nearer her. "There was always
something of the mother in your love, Grizel; but for that you would
never have borne with me so long. A mother, they say, can never quite
forget her boy--oh, Grizel, is it true? I am the prodigal come back.
Grizel, beloved, I have sinned and I am unworthy, but I am still your
boy, and I have come back. Am I to be sent away?"
At the word "beloved" her arms rocked impulsively. "You must not call
me that," she said.
"Then I am to go," he answered with a shudder, "for I must always call
you that; whether I am with you or away, you shall always be beloved
"You don't love me!" she cried. "Oh, do you love me at last!" And at
that he fell upon his knees.
"Grizel, my love, my love!"
"But you don't want to be married," she said.
"Beloved, I have come back to ask you on my knees to be my wife."
"She was a married woman, Grizel."
"Oh, oh, oh!"
"And now you know the worst of me. It is the whole truth at last. I
don't know why you took that terrible journey, dear Grizel, but I do
know that you were sent there to save me. Oh, my love, you have done
so much, will you do no more?"
And so on, till there came a time when his head was on her lap and her
hand caressing it, and she was whispering to her boy to look up and
see her crooked smile again.
He passed on to the wedding. All the time between seemed to be spent
in his fond entreaties to hasten the longed-for day. How radiant she
looked in her bridal gown! "Oh, beautiful one, are you really mine?
Oh, world, pause for a moment and look at the woman who has given
herself to me!"
"My wife--this is my wife!" They were in London now; he was showing
her to London. How he swaggered! There was a perpetual apology on her
face; it begged people to excuse him for looking so proudly at her. It
was a crooked apology, and he hurried her into dark places and kissed
Do you see that Tommy was doing all this for Grizel and pretending to
her that it was for himself? He was passionately desirous of making
amends, and he was to do it in the most generous way. Perhaps he
believed when he seemed to enter her room saying, "Grizel, I have come
back," that she loved him still; perhaps he knew that he did not love
in the way he said; perhaps he saw a remorseful man making splendid
atonement: but never should she know these things; tenderly as he had
begun he would go on to the end. Here at last is a Tommy worth looking
at, and he looked.
Yet as he drew near Thrums, after almost exactly two days of
continuous travel, many a shiver went down his back, for he could not
be sure that he should find Grizel here; he sometimes seemed to see
her lying ill at some wayside station in Switzerland, in France;
everything that could have happened to her he conceived, and he moved
restlessly in the carriage. His mouth went dry.
"Has she come back?"
The train had stopped for the taking of tickets, and his tremulous
question checked the joy of Corp at sight of him.
"She's back," Corp answered in an excited whisper; and oh, the relief
to Tommy! "She came back by the afternoon train; but I had scarce a
word wi' her, she was so awid to be hame. 'I am going home,' she
cried, and hurried away up the brae. Ay, and there's one queer thing."
"Her luggage wasna in the van."
Tommy could smile at that. "But what sent her," he asked eagerly, "on
Corp told him the little he knew. "But nobody kens except me and
Gavinia," he said. We pretend she gaed to London to see her father. We
said he had wrote to her, wanting her to go to him. Gavinia said it
would never do to let folk ken she had gaen to see you, and even
Elspeth doesna ken."
"Is Elspeth back?"
"They came back yesterday."
Did David know the truth from Grizel? was what Tommy was asking
himself now as he strode up the brae. But again he was in luck, for
when he had explained away his abrupt return to Elspeth, and been
joyfully welcomed by her, she told him that her husband had been in
one of the glens all day. "He does not know that Grizel has come
back," she said. "Oh," she exclaimed, "but you don't even know that
she has been away! Grizel has been in London."
"Corp told me," said Tommy.
"And did he tell you why she had gone?"