Part 6 out of 9
She couldn't even remember what it had been like.
New Year's night. She was lying awake in her white cell.
She hated Maurice Jourdain. His wearily searching eyes made her restless.
His man's voice made her restless with its questions. "Do you know what
it will be like--afterwards?" "Do you really want me?"
She didn't want him. But she wanted Somebody. Somebody. Somebody. He had
left her with this ungovernable want.
Somebody. If you lay very still and shut your eyes he would come to you.
You would see him. You knew what he was like. He had Jimmy's body and
Jimmy's face, and Mark's ways. He had the soul of Shelley and the mind of
Spinoza and Immanuel Kant.
They talked to each other. Her reverie ran first into long, fascinating
conversations about Space and Time and the Thing-in-itself, and the
Transcendental Ego. He could tell you whether you were right or wrong;
whether Substance and the Thing-in-itself were the same thing or
"Die--If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek." He wrote that.
He wrote all Shelley's poems except the bad ones. He wrote Swinburne's
_Atalanta in Calydon_. He could understand your wanting to know what the
Thing-in-itself was. If by dying to-morrow, to-night, this minute, you
could know what it was, you would be glad to die. Wouldn't you?
The world was built up in Space and Time. Time and Space were forms of
thought--ways of thinking. If there was thinking there would be a
thinker. Supposing--supposing the Transcendental Ego was the
That was _his_ idea. She was content to let him have the best ones. You
could keep him going for quite a long time that way before you got tired.
The nicest way of all, though, was not to be yourself, but to be him; to
live his exciting, adventurous, dangerous life. Then you could raise an
army and free Ireland from the English, and Armenia from the Turks. You
could go away to beautiful golden cities, melting in sunshine. You could
sail in the China Sea; you could get into Central Africa among savage
people with queer, bloody gods. You could find out all sorts of things.
You were he, and at the same time you were yourself, going about with
him. You loved him with a passionate, self-immolating love. There wasn't
room for both of you on the raft, you sat cramped up, huddled together.
Not enough hard tack. While he was sleeping you slipped off. A shark got
you. It had a face like Dr. Charles. The lunatic was running after him
like mad, with a revolver. You ran like mad. Morfe Bridge. When he raised
his arm you jerked it up and the revolver went off into the air. The fire
was between his bed and the door. It curled and broke along the floor
like surf. You waded through it. You picked him up and carried him out as
Sister Dora carried the corpses with the small-pox. A screw loose
somewhere. A tap turned on. Your mind dribbled imbecilities.
She kicked. "I won't think. I won't think about it any more!"
Restlessness. It ached. It gnawed, stopping a minute, beginning again,
only to be appeased by reverie, by the running tap.
Restlessness. That was desire. It must be.
Desire: imeros. Eros. There was the chorus in the Antigone:
"Eros anikate machan,
Eros os en ktaemasi pipteis."
There was Swinburne:
"...swift and subtle and blind as a flame of fire,
Before thee the laughter, behind thee the tears of desire."
There was the song Minna Acroyd sang at the Sutcliffes' party. "Sigh-ing
and sad for des-ire of the bee." How could anybody sing such a silly
Through the wide open window she could smell the frost; she could hear it
tingle. She put up her mouth above the bedclothes and drank down the
clear, cold air. She thought with pleasure of the ice in her bath in the
morning. It would break under her feet, splintering and tinkling like
glass. If you kept on thinking about it you would sleep.
Her mother was reading the Lessons for the Day. Mary waited till she had
"Mamma--what was the matter with Aunt Charlotte?"
"I'm sure I don't know. Except that she was always thinking about getting
married. Whatever put Aunt Charlotte in your head?"
Her mother looked up from the Prayer Book as she closed it. Sweet and
pretty; sweet and pretty; young almost, as she used to look, and
"It's my belief," she said, "there wouldn't have been anything the matter
with her if your Grandmamma Olivier hadn't spoiled her. Charlotte was as
vain as a little peacock, and your Grandmamma was always petting and
praising her and letting her have her own way."
"If she'd had her own way she'd have been married, and then perhaps she
wouldn't have gone mad."
"She might have gone madder," said her mother. "It was a good thing for
you, my dear, you didn't get your way. I'd rather have seen you in your
coffin than married to Maurice Jourdain."
"Whoever it had been, you'd have said that."
"Perhaps I should. I don't want my only daughter to go away and leave me.
It would be different if there were six or seven of you."
Her mother's complacence and tranquillity annoyed her. She hated her
mother. She adored her and hated her. Mamma had married for her own
pleasure, for her passion. She had brought you into the world, without
asking your leave, for her own pleasure. She had brought you into the
world to be unhappy. She had planned for you to do the things that she
did. She cared for you only as long as you were doing them. When you left
off and did other things she left off caring.
"I shall never go away and leave you," she said.
She hated her mother and she adored her.
An hour later, when she found her in the garden kneeling by the violet
bed, weeding it, she knelt down beside her, and weeded too.
April, May, June.
One afternoon before post-time her mother called her into the study to
show her Mrs. Draper's letter.
Mrs. Draper wrote about Dora's engagement and Effie's wedding. Dora was
engaged to Hubert Manisty who would have Vinings. Effie had broken off
her engagement to young Tom Manisty; she was married last week to Mr.
Stuart-Gore, the banker. Mrs. Draper thought Effie had been very wise to
give up young Manisty for Mr. Stuart-Gore. She wrote in a postscript:
"Maurice Jourdain has just called to ask if I have any news of Mary. I
think he would like to know that that wretched affair has not made her
Mamma was smiling in a nervous way. "What am I to say to Mrs. Draper?"
"Tell her that Mr. Jourdain was right and that I am not at all unhappy."
She was glad to take the letter to the post and set his mind at rest.
It was in June last year that Maurice Jourdain had come to her: June the
twenty-fourth. To-day was the twenty-fifth. He must have remembered.
The hayfields shone, ready for mowing. Under the wind the shimmering hay
grass moved like waves of hot air, up and up the hill.
She slipped through the gap by Morfe Bridge and went up the fields to the
road on Greffington Edge. She lay down among the bracken in the place
where Roddy and she had sat two years ago when they had met Mr. Sutcliffe
coming down the road.
The bracken hid her. It made a green sunshade above her head. She shut
"Kikerikueh! sie glaubten
Es waere Hahnen geschrei."
That was all nonsense. Maurice Jourdain would never have crept in the
little hen-house and hidden himself under the straw. He would never have
crowed like a cock. Mark and Roddy would. And Harry Craven and Jimmy.
Jimmy would certainly have hidden himself under the straw.
Supposing Jimmy had had a crystal mind. Shining and flashing. Supposing
he had never done that awful thing they said he did. Supposing he had had
Mark's ways, had been noble and honourable like Mark--
The interminable reverie began. He was there beside her in the bracken.
She didn't know what his name would be. It couldn't be Jimmy or Harry or
any of those names. Not Mark. Mark's name was sacred.
_Why_ Cecil? _Cecil_?--You ape! You drivelling, dribbling idiot! That was
the sort of thing Aunt Charlotte would have thought of.
She got up with a jump and stretched herself. She would have to run if
she was to be home in time for tea.
From the top hayfield she could see the Sutcliffes' tennis court; an
emerald green space set in thick grey walls. She drew her left hand
slowly down her right forearm. The muscle was hardening and thickening.
Mamma didn't like it when you went by yourself to play singles with Mr.
Sutcliffe. But if Mr. Sutcliffe asked you you would simply have to go.
You would have to play a great many singles against Mr. Sutcliffe if you
were to be in good form next year when Mark came home.
She was always going to the Sutcliffes' now. Her mother shook her head
when she saw her in her short white skirt and white jersey, slashing at
nothing with her racquet, ready. Mamma didn't like the Sutcliffes. She
said they hadn't been nice to poor Papa. They had never asked him again.
You could see she thought you a beast to like them.
"But, Mamma darling, I can't help liking them."
And Mamma would look disgusted and go back to her pansy bed and dig her
trowel in with little savage thrusts, and say she supposed you would
always have your own way.
You would go down to Greffington Hall and find Mr. Sutcliffe sitting
under the beech tree on the lawn, in white flannels, looking rather tired
and bored. And Mrs. Sutcliffe, a long-faced, delicate-nosed Beauty of
Victorian Albums, growing stout, wearing full skirts and white cashmere
shawls and wide mushroomy hats when nobody else did. She had an air of
doing it on purpose, to be different, like royalty. She would take your
hand and press it gently and smile her downward, dragging smile, and she
would say, "How is your mother? Does she mind the hot weather? She must
come and see me when it's cooler." That was the nice way she had, so that
you mightn't think it was Mamma's fault, or Papa's, if they didn't see
each other often. And she would look down at her shawl and gather it
about her, as if in spirit she had got up and gone away.
And Mr. Sutcliffe would be standing in front of you, looking suddenly
years younger, with his eyes shining and clean as though he had just
And after tea you would play singles furiously. For two hours you would
try to beat him. When you jumped the net Mrs. Sutcliffe would wave her
hand and nod to you and smile. You had done something that pleased her.
To-day, when it was all over, Mr. Sutcliffe took her back into the house,
and there on the hall table were the books he had got for her from the
London Library: The Heine, the Goethe's _Faust_, the Sappho, the Darwin's
_Origin of Species_, the Schopenhauer, _Die Welt als Wille und
"Five? All at once?"
"I get fifteen. As long as we're here you shall have your five."
He walked home with her, carrying the books. Five. Five. And when you had
finished them there would be five more. It was unbelievable.
"Why are you so nice to me? Why? _Why_?"
"I think it must be because I like you, Mary."
"I liked you the first day I saw you. With your brother. On Greffington
"I wonder why." She wondered what he was thinking, what, deep down inside
him, he was really thinking.
"Perhaps it was because you wanted something I could give you....
Tennis.... You wanted it so badly. Everything you want you want so
"And I never knew we were going to be such friends."
"No more did I. And I don't know now how long it's going to last."
"Why shouldn't it last?"
"Because next year 'Mark' will have come home and you'll have nothing to
say to me."
"Mark won't make a scrap of difference."
"Well--if it isn't 'Mark' ... You'll grow up, Mary, and it won't amuse
you to talk to me any more. I shan't know you. You'll wear long skirts
and long hair done in the fashion."
"I shall always want to talk to you. I shall never do up my hair. I cut
it off because I couldn't be bothered with it. But I was sold. I thought
it would curl all over my head, and it didn't curl."
"It curls at the tips," Mr. Sutcliffe said. "I like it. Makes you look
like a jolly boy, instead of a dreadful, unapproachable young lady. A
little San Giovanni. A little San Giovanni."
That was his trick: caressing his own words as if he liked them.
She wondered what, deep down inside him, he was really like.
"Mr. Sutcliffe--if you'd known a girl when she was only fourteen, and you
liked her and you never saw her again till she was seventeen, and then
you found that she'd gone and cut her hair all off, would it give you an
"Depends on how much I liked her."
"If you'd liked her awfully--would it make you leave off liking her?"
"I think my friendship could stand the strain."
"If it wasn't just friendship? Supposing it was Mrs. Sutcliffe?"
"I shouldn't like my wife to cut her hair off. It wouldn't be at all
becoming to her."
"No. But when she was young?"
"Ah--when she was young--"
"Would it have made any difference?"
"No. No. It wouldn't have made any difference at all."
"You'd have married her just the same?"
"Just the same, Mary. Why?"
"Oh, nothing. I thought you'd be like that. I just wanted to make sure."
He smiled to himself. He had funny, secret thoughts that you would never
"Well," she said, "I didn't beat you."
"Form not good enough yet--quite."
He promised her it should be perfect by the time Mark came home.
"The pale pearl-purple evening--" The words rushed together. She couldn't
tell whether they were her own or somebody else's.
There was the queer shock of recognition that came with your own real
things. It wasn't remembering though it felt like it.
Shelley--"The pale purple even." Not pearl-purple. Pearl-purple was what
you saw. The sky to the east after sunset above Greffington Edge. Take
out "pale," and "pearl-purple evening" was your own.
The poem was coming by bits at a time. She could feel the rest throbbing
behind it, an unreleased, impatient energy.
Her mother looked in at the door. "What are you doing it for, Mary?"
"Then for pity's sake come down into the warm room and do it there.
You'll catch cold."
She hated the warm room.
The poem would be made up of many poems. It would last a long time,
through the winter and on into the spring. As long as it lasted she would
be happy. She would be free from the restlessness and the endless idiotic
reverie of desire.
"From all blindness of heart; from pride, vain-glory and hypocrisy; from
envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness,
"_Good Lord, deliver us_."
Mary was kneeling beside her mother in church.
"From fornication, and all other deadly sin--"
Happiness, the happiness that came from writing poems; happiness that
other people couldn't have, that you couldn't give to them; happiness
that was no good to Mamma, no good to anybody but you, secret and
selfish; that was your happiness. It was deadly sin.
She felt an immense, intolerable compassion for everybody who was
unhappy. A litany of compassion went on inside her: For old Dr. Kendal,
sloughing and rotting in his chair; for Miss Kendal; for all women
labouring of child; for old Mrs. Heron; for Dorsy Heron; for all
prisoners and captives; for Miss Louisa Wright; for all that were
desolate and oppressed; for Maggie's sister, dying of cancer; and for
Mamma, kneeling there, praying.
Sunday after Sunday.
And she would work in the garden every morning, digging in leaf mould and
carrying the big stones for the rockery; she would go to Mrs. Sutcliffe's
sewing parties; she would sit for hours with Maggie's sister, trying not
to look as if she minded the smell of the cancer. You were no good unless
you could do little things like that. You were no good unless you could
keep on doing them.
She tried to keep on.
Some people kept on all day, all their lives. Still, it was not you so
much as the world that was wrong. It wasn't fair and right that Maggie's
sister should have cancer while you had nothing the matter with you. Or
even that Maggie had to cook and scrub while you made poems.
Not fair and right.
"Mamma, what is it? Why are you in the dark?"
By the firelight she could see her mother sitting with her eyes shut, and
her hands folded in her lap.
"I can't use my eyes. I think there must be something the matter with
"Your eyes? ... Do they hurt?"
(You might have known--you might have known that something would happen.
While you were upstairs, writing, not thinking of her. You might have
"_Something_ hurts. Just there. When I try to read. I must be going
"Are you sure it isn't your glasses?"
"How can it be my glasses? They never hurt me before."
But the oculist in Durlingham said it _was_ her glasses. She wasn't going
blind. It wasn't likely that she ever would go blind.
For a week before the new glasses came Mamma sat, patient and gentle, in
her chair, with her eyes shut and her hands folded in her lap. And you
read aloud to her: the Bible and _The Times_ in the morning, and Dickens
in the afternoon. And in the evening you played draughts and Mamma beat
Mamma said, "I shall be quite sorry when the new glasses come."
Mary was sorry too. They had been so happy.
April. Mark's ship had left Port Said nine days ago.
Mamma had come in with the letter.
"I've got news for you. Guess."
"Mark's coming to-day."
"No.... Mr. Jourdain was married yesterday."
"Some girl he used to see in Sussex."
(That one. She was glad it was the little girl, the poor one. Nice of
Maurice to marry her.)
"Do you mind, Mary?"
"No, not a bit. I hope they'll be happy. I want them to be happy.... Now,
you see--that was why he didn't want to marry me."
Her mother sat down on the bed. There was something she was going to say.
"Well--thank goodness that's the last of it."
"Does Mark know?"
"No, he does not. You surely don't imagine anybody would tell him a thing
like that about his sister?"
"Well--he wouldn't think it very nice of you."
"You talk as if I was Aunt Charlotte.... Do you think I'm like her?"
"I never said you were like her...."
"You think--you think and won't say."
"Well, if you don't want to be thought like your Aunt Charlotte you
should try and behave a little more like other people. For pity's sake,
do while Mark's here, or he won't like it, I can tell you."
"I don't do anything Mark wouldn't like."
"You do very queer things sometimes, though you mayn't think so.... I'm
not the only one that notices. If you really want to know, that was what
Mr. Jourdain was afraid of--the queer things you say and do. You told me
yourself you'd have gone to him if he hadn't come to you."
She remembered. Yes, she had said that.
"Did he know about Aunt Charlotte?"
"You may be sure he did."
Mamma didn't know. She never would know what it had been like, that
night. But there were things you didn't know, either.
"What did Aunt Charlotte _do_?"
"Nothing. She just fell in love with every man she met. If she'd only
seen him for five minutes she was off after him. Ordering her trousseau
and dressing herself up. She was no more mad than I am except just on
that one point."
"Aunt Lavvy said that was why Uncle Victor never married. He was afraid
of something--something happening to his children. What do you think he
thought would happen?"
Her mother's foot tapped on the floor.
"I'm sure I can't tell you what he thought. And I don't know what there
was to be afraid of. I wish you wouldn't throw your stockings all about
Mamma picked up the stockings and went away. You could see that she was
annoyed. Annoyed with Uncle Victor for having been afraid to marry.
A dreadful thought came to her. "Does Mamma really think I'm like Aunt
Charlotte? I won't be like her. I won't.... I'm not. There was Jimmy and
there was Maurice Jourdain. But I didn't fall in love with the Proparts
or the Manistys, or Norman Waugh, or Harry Craven, or Dr. Charles. Or Mr.
Sutcliffe.... She _said_ I was as bad as Aunt Charlotte. Because I said
I'd go to Maurice.... I meant, just to see him. What did she think I
meant?... Oh, not _that_.... Would I really have gone? Got into the train
and gone? _Would_ I?"
She would never know.
"I wish I knew what Uncle Victor was afraid of."
Wondering what he had been afraid of, she felt afraid.
Mamma and Mark had turned their backs to her as they clung together. But
there was his sparrow-brown hair, clipped close into the nape of his
red-brown neck. If only Mamma wouldn't cry like that--
"Is that Minky?"
They held each other and let go in one tick of the clock, but she had
stood a long time seeing his eyes arrested in their rush of recognition.
The square dinner-table stretched itself into an immense white space
between her and Mark. It made itself small again for Mark and Mamma.
Across the white space she heard him saying things: about Dan meeting him
at Tilbury, and poor Victor coming to Liverpool Street, and Cox's. Last
night he had stayed at Ilford, he had seen Bella and Edward and Pidgeon
and Mrs. Fisher and the Proparts. "Do you remember poor Edward and his
sheep? And Mary's lamb!"
Mark hadn't changed, except that he was firmer and squarer, and thinner,
because he had had fever. And his eyes--He was staring at her with his
She called to him. "You don't know me a bit, Mark."
He laughed. "I thought I'd see somebody grown up. Victor said Mary was
dreadfully mature. What did he mean?"
Mamma said she was sure she didn't know.
"What do you do with yourself all day, Minky?"
"Nothing much. Read--work--play tennis with Mr. Sutcliffe."
"Never mind Mr. Sutcliffe. Mark doesn't want to hear about him."
"Is there a _Mrs._ Sutcliffe?"
"Does _she_ play?"
"No. She's too old. Much older than he is."
"That'll do, Mary."
Mamma's eyes blinked. Her forehead was pinched with vexation. Her foot
tapped on the floor.
Mark's eyes kept up their puzzled stare.
"What's been happening?" he said. "What's the matter? Everywhere I go
there's a mystery. There was a mystery at Ilford. About Dan. And about
poor Charlotte. I come down here and there's a mystery about some people
called Sutcliffe. And a mystery about Mary." He laughed again. "Minky
seems to be in disgrace, as if she'd done something.... It's awfully
queer. Mamma's the only person something hasn't happened to."
"I should have thought everything had happened to me," said Mamma.
"That makes it queerer."
Mamma went up with Mark into his room. Papa's room. You could hear her
feet going up and down in it, and the squeaking wail of the wardrobe door
as she opened and shut it.
She waited, listening. When she heard her mother come downstairs she went
Mark didn't know that the room had been Papa's room. He didn't know that
she shivered when she saw him sitting on the bed. She had stood just
there where Mark's feet were and watched Papa die. She could feel the
basin slipping, slipping from the edge of the bed.
Mark wasn't happy. There was something he missed, something he wanted.
She had meant to say, "It's all right. Nothing's happened. I haven't done
anything," but she couldn't think about it when she saw him sitting
"Mark--what is it?"
"I don't know, Minky."
"_I_ know. You've come back, and it isn't like what you thought it would
"No," he said, "it isn't.... I didn't think it would be so awful without
The big package in the hall had been opened. The tiger's skin lay on the
Mark was sorry for the tiger.
"He was only a young cat. You'd have loved him, Minky, if you'd seen him,
with his shoulders down--very big cat--shaking his haunches at you, and
his eyes shining and playing; cat's eyes, sort of swimming and shaking
with his fun."
"How did you feel?"
"Beastly mean to go and shoot him when he was happy and excited."
"Five years without any fighting.... Anything else happen?"
"No. No polo. No fighting. Only a mutiny in the battery once."
"What was it like?"
"Oh, it just tumbled into the office and yelled and waved jabby things
and made faces at you till you nearly burst with laughing."
"You laughed?" Mamma said. "At a mutiny?"
"Anybody would. Minky'd have laughed if she'd been there. It frightened
them horribly because they didn't expect it. The poor things never know
when they're being funny."
"What happened," said Mary, "to the mutiny?"
"Oh--Mark--" She adored him.
She went to bed, happy, thinking of the tiger and the mutiny. When Catty
called her in the morning she jumped out of bed, quickly, to begin
another happy day. Everything was going to be interesting, to be
At any minute anything might happen, now that Mark had come home.
"Mark, are you coming?"
She was tired of waiting on the flagstones, swinging her stick. She
called through the house for him to come. She looked through the rooms,
and found him in the study with Mamma. When they saw her they stopped
talking suddenly, and Mamma drew herself up and blinked.
Mark shook his head. After all, he couldn't come.
Mamma wanted him. Mamma had him. As long as they lived she would have
him. Mamma and Mark were happy together; their happiness tingled, you
could feel it tingling, like the happiness of lovers. They didn't want
anybody but each other. You existed for them as an object in some
unintelligible time and in a space outside their space. The only
difference was that Mark knew you were there and Mamma didn't.
She chose the Garthdale road. Yesterday she had gone that way with Mamma
and Mark. She had not talked to him, for when she talked the pinched,
vexed look came into Mamma's face though she pretended she hadn't heard
you. Every now and then Mark had looked at her over his shoulder and
said, "Poor Minx." It was as if he said, "I'm sorry, but you see how it
is. I can't help it."
And just here, where the moor track touched the road, she had left them,
clearing the water-courses, and had gone up towards Karva.
She had looked back and seen them going slowly towards the white sickle
of the road, Mark very upright, taut muscles held in to his shortened
stride; Mamma pathetic and fragile, in her shawl, moving with a stiff,
Her love for them was a savage pang that cut her eyes and drew her throat
Then suddenly she had heard Mark whooping, and she had run back, whooping
and leaping, down the hill to walk with them again.
She turned back now, at the sickle. Perhaps Mark would come to meet her.
He didn't come. She found them sitting close on the drawing-room sofa;
the tea-table was pushed aside; they were looking at Mark's photographs.
She came and stood by them to see.
Mark didn't look up or say anything. He went on giving the photographs to
Mamma, telling her the names. "Dicky Carter. Man called St. John. Man
called Bibby--Jonas Bibby. Allingham. Peters. Gunning, Stobart Hamilton.
Sir George Limond, Colonel Robertson."
Photographs of women. Mamma's fingers twitched as she took them, one by
one. Women with smooth hair and correct, distinguished faces. She looked
at each face a long time; her mouth half-smiled, half-pouted at them. She
didn't hand on the photographs to you, but laid them down on the sofa,
one by one, as if you were not there.
A youngish woman in a black silk gown; Mrs. Robertson, the Colonel's
wife. A girl in a white frock; Mrs. Dicky Carter, she had nursed Mark
through his fever. A tall woman in a riding habit and a solar topee,
standing very straight, looking very straight at you, under the shadow of
the topee. Mamma didn't mind the others so much, but she was afraid of
this one. There was danger under the shadow of the topee.
"Lady Limond." Mark had stayed with them at Simla.
"Oh. Very handsome face."
You could see by Mark's face that he didn't care about Lady Limond.
Mamma had turned again to the girl in the white frock who had nursed him.
"Are those all, Mark?"
"Those are all."
She took off her glasses and closed her eyes. Her face was smooth now:
her hands were quiet. She had him. She would always have him.
But when he went away for a fortnight to stay with the man called St.
John, she was miserable till he had come back, safe.
Whit Sunday morning. She would walk home with Mark after church while
Mamma stayed behind for the Sacrament.
But it didn't happen. Mark scowled as he turned out into the aisle to
make way for her. He went back into the pew and sat there, looking stiff
and stubborn. He would go up with Mamma to the altar rails. He would eat
the bread and drink the wine.
That afternoon she took her book into the garden. Mark came to her there.
Mamma, tired with the long service, dozed in the drawing-room.
Mark read over her shoulder: "'Wir haben in der Transcendentalen
Aesthetik hinreichend bewiesen.' Do it in English."
"'In the Transcendental Aesthetic we have sufficiently proved that all
that is perceived in space or time, and with it all objects of any
experience possible to us are mere Vorstellungen--Vorstellungen--
ideas--presentations, which, so far as they are presented, whether as
extended things or series of changes, have no existence grounded in
themselves outside our thoughts--'"
"Why have you taken to that dreadful stodge?"
"I'm driven to it. It's like drink; once you begin you've got to go on."
"What on earth made you begin?"
"I wanted to know things--to know what's real and what isn't, and what's
at the back of everything, and whether there _is_ anything there or not.
And whether you can know it or not. And how you can know anything at all,
anyhow. I'd give anything ... Are you listening?"
"Yes, Minky, you'd give anything--"
"I'd give everything--everything I possess--to know what the
"I'd rather know Arabic. Or how to make a gun that would find its own
range and feed itself with bullets sixty to the minute."
"That would be only knowing a few; more things. I want _the_ thing.
Reality, Substance, the Thing-in-itself. Spinoza calls it God. Kant
doesn't; but he seems to think it's all the God you'll ever get, and
that, even then, you can't know it. Transcendental Idealism is just
"Supposing," Mark said, "there isn't any God at all."
"Then I'd rather know _that_ than go on thinking there was one when there
"But you'd feel sold?"
"Sort of sold. But it's the risk--the risk that makes it so exciting ...
Why? Do _you_ think there isn't any God?"
"I'm afraid I think there mayn't be."
"Oh, Mark--and you went to the Sacrament. You ate it and drank it."
"Why shouldn't I?"
"You don't believe in it any more than I do."
"I never said anything about believing in it."
"_You ate and drank it_."
"Poor Jesus said he wanted you to do that and remember him. I did it and
"I don't care. It was awful of you."
"Much more awful to spoil Mamma's pleasure in God and Jesus. I did it to
make her happy. Somebody had to go with her. You wouldn't, so I did ...
It doesn't matter, Minky. Nothing matters except Mamma."
"Truth matters. You'd die rather than lie or do anything dishonourable.
Yet that was dishonourable."
"I'd die rather than hurt Mamma ... If you make her unhappy, Minky, I
shall hate you."
"You can't go in that thing."
They were going to the Sutcliffes' dance. Mamma hadn't told Mark she
didn't like them. She wanted Mark to go to the dance. He had said Morfe
was an awful hole and it wasn't good for you to live in it.
The frock was black muslin, ironed out. Mamma's black net Indian scarf,
dotted with little green and scarlet flowers, was drawn tight over her
hips to hide the place that Catty had scorched with the iron. The heavy,
brilliant, silk-embroidered ends, green and scarlet, hung down behind.
She felt exquisitely light and slender.
Mamma was shaking her head at Mark as he stared at you.
"If you knew," he said, "what you look like ... That's the way the funny
ladies dress in the bazaars--If you'd only take that awful thing off."
"She can't take it off," Mamma said. "He's only teasing you."
Funny ladies in the bazaars--Funny ladies in the bazaars. Bazaars were
Indian shops ... Shop-girls ... Mark didn't mean shop-girls, though. You
could tell that by his face and by Mamma's ... Was that what you really
looked like? Or was he teasing? Perhaps you would tell by Mrs.
Sutcliffe's face. Or by Mr. Sutcliffe's.
Their faces were nicer than ever. You couldn't tell. They would never let
you know if anything was wrong.
Mrs. Sutcliffe said, "What a beautiful scarf you've got on, my dear."
"It's Mamma's. She gave it me." She wanted Mrs. Sutcliffe to know that
Mamma had beautiful things and that she would give them. The scarf was
beautiful. Nothing could take from her the feeling of lightness and
slenderness she had in it.
Her programme stood: Nobody. Nobody. Norman Waugh. Dr. Charles. Mr.
Sutcliffe. Mr. Sutcliffe. Nobody. Nobody again, all the way down to Mr.
Sutcliffe, Mr. Sutcliffe, Mr. Sutcliffe. Then Mark. Mr. Sutcliffe had
wanted the last dance, the polka; but she couldn't give it him. She
didn't want to dance with anybody after Mark.
The big, long dining-room was cleared; the floor waxed. People had come
from Reyburn and Durlingham. A hollow square of faces. Faces round the
walls. Painted faces hanging above them: Mr. Sutcliffe's ancestors
looking at you.
The awful thing was she didn't know how to dance. Mark said you didn't
have to know. It would be all right. Perhaps it would come, suddenly,
when you heard the music. Supposing it came like skating, only after you
had slithered a lot and tumbled down?
The feeling of lightness and slenderness had gone. Her feet stuck to the
waxed floor as if they were glued there. She was frightened.
It had begun. Norman Waugh was dragging her round the room. Once. Twice.
She hated the feeling of his short, thick body moving a little way in
front of her. She hated his sullen bull's face, his mouth close to hers,
half open, puffing. From the walls Mr. Sutcliffe's ancestors looked at
you as you shambled round, tied tight in your Indian scarf, like a funny
lady in the bazaars. Raised eyebrows. Quiet, disdainful faces. She was
glad when Norman Waugh left her on the window-seat.
Dr. Charles next. He was kind. You trod on his feet and he pretended he
had trodden on yours.
"My dancing days are over."
"And mine haven't begun."
They sat out and she watched Mark. He didn't dance very well: he danced
tightly and stiffly as if he didn't like it; but he danced: with Miss
Frewin and Miss Louisa Wright, because nobody else would; with the
Acroyds because Mrs. Sutcliffe made him; five dances with Dorsy Heron,
because he liked her, because he was sorry for her, because he found her
looking sad and shy in a corner. You could see Dorsy's eyes turn and
turn, restlessly, to look at Mark, and her nose getting redder as he came
Dr. Charles watched them. You knew what he was thinking. "She's in love
with him. She can't take her eyes off him."
Supposing you told her the truth? "He won't marry you. He won't care for
you. He won't care for anybody but Mamma. Can't you see, by the way he
looks at you, the way he holds you? It's no use your caring for him.
It'll only make your little nose redder."
He wouldn't mind her red nose; her little proud, high-bridged nose. He
liked her small face, trying to look austere with shy hare's eyes; her
vague mouth, pointed at the corners in a sort of sharp tenderness; her
smooth, otter-brown hair brushed back and twisted in a tight coil at the
nape of her neck. Dorsy was sweet and gentle and unselfish. He might have
cared for Dorsy if it hadn't been for Mamma. Anyhow, for one evening in
her life Dorsy was happy, dancing round and round, with her wild black
hare's eyes shining.
Mr. Sutcliffe. She stood up. She would have to tell him.
"I can't dance."
"Nonsense. You can run and you can jump. Of course you can dance."
"I don't know how to."
"The sooner you learn the better. I'll teach you in two minutes."
He steered her into the sheltered bay behind the piano. They practised.
"Mark's looking at us."
"Is he? What has he done to you, Mary? We'll go where he can't look at
They went out into the hall.
"That's it; your feet between mine. In and out. Don't throw your
shoulders back. Don't keep your elbows in. It's not a hurdle race."
"I wish it was."
"You won't in a minute. Don't count your steps. Listen for the beat. It's
the beat that does it."
She began to feel light and slender again.
"Now you're off. You're all right."
Off. Turning and turning. You steered through the open door; in and out
among the other dancers; you skimmed; you swam, whirling, to the steady
tump-tump of the piano, and the queer, exciting squeak of the fiddles--
Whirling together, you and Mr. Sutcliffe and the piano and the two
fiddles. One animal, one light, slender animal, whirling and playing.
Every now and then his arm tightened round your waist with a sort of
impatience. When it slackened you were one light, slender animal again,
four feet and four arms whirling together, the piano was its heart, going
tump-tump, and the fiddles--
"Why did I think I couldn't do it?"
"Funk. Pure funk. You wanted to dance--you wanted to so badly that it
His arm tightened.
As they passed she could see Mrs. Sutcliffe sitting in an arm-chair
pushed back out of the dancers' way. She looked tired and bored and a
When the last three dances were over he took her back to Mark.
Mark scowled after Mr. Sutcliffe.
"What does he look at you like that for?"
"Perhaps he thinks I'm--a funny lady in a bazaar."
"_That's_ the sort of thing you oughtn't to say."
"_You_ said it."
"All the more reason why you shouldn't."
He put his arm round her and they danced. They danced.
"You can do it all right now," he said.
"I've learnt. He taught me. He took me outside and taught me. I'm not
frightened any more."
Mark was dancing better now. Better and better. His eyes shone down into
yours. He whispered.
"Minky--Poor Minky--Pretty Minky."
He swung you. He lifted you off your feet. He danced like mad, carrying
you on the taut muscle of his arm.
Somebody said, "That chap's waked up at last. Who's the girl?"
Somebody said, "His sister."
Mark laughed out loud. You could have sworn he was enjoying himself.
But when he got home he said he hadn't enjoyed himself at all. And he had
a headache the next day. It turned out that he hadn't wanted to go. He
hated dancing. Mamma said he had only gone because he thought you'd like
it and because he thought it would be good for you to dance like other
"Why are you always going to the Sutcliffes'?" Mark said suddenly.
"Because I like them."
They were coming down the fields from Greffington Edge in sight of the
"You oughtn't to like them when they weren't nice to poor Papa. If Mamma
doesn't want to know them you oughtn't to."
Mark, too. Mark saying what Mamma said. Her heart swelled and tightened.
She didn't answer him.
"Anyhow," he said, "you oughtn't to go about all over the place with old
Sutcliffe." When he said "old Sutcliffe" his eyes were merry and insolent
as they used to be. "What do you do it for?"
"Because I like him. And because there's nobody else who wants to go
about with me."
"There's Miss Heron."
"Dorsy isn't quite the same thing."
"Whether she is or isn't you've got to chuck it."
"Because Mamma doesn't like it and I don't like it. That ought to be
enough." (Like Papa.)
"It isn't enough."
"Minky--why are you such a brute to little Mamma?"
"Because I can't help it ... It's all very well for you--"
Mark turned in the path and looked at her; his tight, firm face tighter
and firmer. She thought: "He doesn't know. He's like Mamma. He won't see
what he doesn't want to see. It would be kinder not to tell him. But I
can't be kind. He's joined with Mamma against me. They're two to one.
Mamma must have said something to make him hate me." ...Perhaps she
hadn't. Perhaps he had only seen her disapproving, reproachful face ...
"If he says another word--if he looks like that again, I shall tell him."
"It's different for you," she said. "Ever since I began to grow up I felt
there was something about Mamma that would kill me if I let it. I've had
to fight for every single thing I've ever wanted. It's awful fighting
her, when she's so sweet and gentle. But it's either that or go under."
"Minky--you talk as if she hated you."
"She does hate me."
"You lie." He said it gently, without rancour.
"No. I found that out years ago. She doesn't _know_ she hates me. She
never knows that awful sort of thing. And of course she loved me when I
was little. She'd love me now if I stayed little, so that she could do
what she liked with me; if I'd sit in a corner and think as she thinks,
and feel as she feels and do what she does."
"If you did you'd be a much nicer Minx."
"Yes. Except that I _should_ be lying then, the whole time. Hiding my
real self and crushing it. It's your _real_ self she hates--the thing she
can't see and touch and get at--the thing that makes you different. Even
when I was little she hated it and tried to crush it. I remember
"You don't love her. You wouldn't talk like that about her if you loved
"It's _because_ I love her. Her self. _Her_ real self. When she's working
in the garden, planting flowers with her blessed little hands, doing what
she likes, and when she's reading the Bible and thinking about God and
Jesus, and when she's with _you_, Mark, happy. That's her real self. I
adore it. Selves are sacred. You ought to adore them. Anybody's self.
Catty's.... I used to wonder what the sin against the Holy Ghost was.
They told you nobody knew what it was. _I_ know. It's that. Not adoring
the self in people. Hating it. Trying to crush it."
"I see. Mamma's committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, has she?"
He laughed. "You mustn't go about saying those things. People will think
"Let them. I don't care--I don't care if _you_ think I'm mad. I only
think it's beastly of you to say so."
"You're not madder than I am. We're all mad. Mad as hatters. You and me
and Dank and Roddy and Uncle Victor. Poor Charlotte's the sanest of the
lot, and she's the only one that's got shut up."
"Why do you say she's the sanest?"
"Because she knew what she wanted."
"Yes. She knew what she wanted. She spent her whole life trying to get
it. She went straight for that one thing. Didn't care a hang what anybody
thought of her."
"So they said poor Charlotte was mad."
"She was only mad because she didn't get it."
"Yes, Minx.... Would poor Minky like to be married?"
"No. I'm not thinking about that. I'd like to write poems. And to get
away sometimes and see places. To get away from Mamma."
"You little beast."
"Not more beast than you. You got away. Altogether. I believe you knew."
Mark's face was stiff and red. He was angry now.
"That if you stayed you'd be crushed. Like Roddy. Like me."
"I knew nothing of the sort."
"Deep down inside you you knew. You were afraid. That's why you wanted to
be a soldier. So as not to be afraid. So as to get away altogether."
"You little devil. You're lying. Lying."
He threw his words at you softly, so as not to hurt you. "Lying. Because
you're a beast to Mamma you'd like to think I'm a beast, too."
"No--no." She could feel herself making it out more and more. Flash after
flash. Till she knew him. She knew Mark.
"You _had_ to. To get away from her, to get away from her sweetness and
gentleness so that you could be yourself; so that you could be a man."
She had a tremendous flash.
"You haven't got away altogether. Half of you still sticks. It'll never
get away.... You'll never love anybody. You'll never marry."
"No, I won't. You're right there."
"Yes. Papa never got away. That was why he was so beastly to us."
"He wasn't beastly to us."
"He was. You know he was. You're only saying that because it's what Mamma
would like you to say.... He couldn't help being beastly. He couldn't
care for us. He couldn't care for anybody but Mamma."
"That's why I care for _him_," Mark said.
"I know.... None of it would have mattered if we'd been brought up right.
But we were brought up all wrong. Taught that our selves were beastly,
that our wills were beastly and that everything we liked was bad. Taught
to sit on our wills, to be afraid of our selves and not trust them for a
single minute.... Mamma was glad when I was jilted, because that was one
"Were you jilted?"
"Yes. She thought it would make me humble. I always was. I am. I'm afraid
of my self _now_. I can't trust it. I keep on asking people what they
think when _I_ ought to _know_.... But I'm going to stop all that. I'm
going to fight."
"Fight little Mamma?"
"No. Myself. The bit of me that claws on to her and can't get away. My
body'll stay here and take care of her all her life, but my _self_ will
have got away. It'll get away from all of them. It's got bits of them
sticking to it, bits of Mamma, bits of Papa, bits of Roddy, bits of Aunt
Charlotte. Bits of you, Mark. I don't _want_ to get away from you, but I
shall have to. You'd kick me down and stamp on me if you thought it would
please Mamma. There mayn't be much left when I'm done, but at least it'll
"Mad. Quite mad, Minx. You ought to be married."
"And leave little Mamma? ... I'll race you from the bridge to the top
of the hill."
He raced her. He wasn't really angry. Deep down inside him he knew.
November, and Mark's last morning. He had got promotion. He was going
back to India with a new battery. He would be stationed at Poona, a place
he hated. Nothing ever happened as he wanted it to happen.
She was in Papa's room, helping him to pack. The wardrobe door gave out
its squeaking wail again and again as he opened it and threw his things
on to the bed. Her mother had gone away because she couldn't bear to see
them, his poor things.
They were all folded now and pressed down into the boxes and
portmanteaus. She sat on the bed with Mark's sword across her knees,
rubbing vaseline on the blade. Mark came and stood before her, looking
down at her.
"Minky, I don't like going away and leaving Mamma with you.... When I
went before you promised you'd be kind to her."
"What do I do?"
There was a groove down the middle of the blade for the blood to run in.
"Do? You do nothing. Nothing. You don't talk to her. You don't want to
talk to her. You behave as if she wasn't there."
The blade was blunt. It would have to be sharpened before Mark took it
into a battle. Mark's eyes hurt her. She tried to fix her attention on
"What makes you?"
"I don't know," she said. "Whatever it is it was done long ago."
"She hasn't got anybody," he said. "Roddy's gone. Dan's no good to her.
She won't have anybody but you."
"I know, Mark. I shall never go away and leave her."
"Don't talk about going away and leaving her!"
* * * * *
He didn't want her to see him off at the train. He wanted to go away
alone, after he had said good-bye to Mamma. He didn't want Mamma to be
left by herself after he had gone.
They stood together by the shut door of the drawing-room. She and her
mother stood between Mark and the door. She had said good-bye a minute
ago, alone with him in Papa's room. But there was something they had
She thought: "We must get it now, this minute. He'll say good-bye to
Mamma last. He'll kiss her last. But I must kiss him again, first."
She came to him, holding up her face. He didn't see her; but when his arm
felt her hand it jerked up and pushed her out of his way, as he would
have pushed anything that stood there between him and Mamma.
Old Mr. Peacock of Sarrack was dead, and Dr. Kendal was the oldest man in
the Dale. He was not afraid of death; he was only afraid of dying before
Mr. Peacock died. Mamma had finished building the rockery in the garden.
You had carried all the stones. There were no more stones to carry. That
was all that had happened in the year and nine months since Mark had
To you nothing happened. Nothing ever would happen. At twenty-one and a
half you were old too, and very wise. You had given up expecting things
to happen. You put 1883 on your letters to Mark and Dan and Roddy,
instead of 1882. Then 1884. You measured time by the poems you wrote and
by the books you read and by the Sutcliffes' going abroad in January and
coming back in March.
You had advanced from the Critique of Pure Reason to the Critique of
Practical Reason, and the Critique of Judgment and the Prolegomena. And
in the end you were cheated. You would never know the only thing worth
knowing. Reality. For all you knew there was no Reality, no God, no
freedom, no immortality. Only doing your duty. "You can because you
ought." Kant, when you got to the bottom of him, was no more exciting
than Mamma. "_Du kannst, weil du sollst_."
Why not "You can because you shall"? It would never do to let Mamma know
what Kant thought. She would say "Your Bible could have told you that."
There was Schopenhauer, though. _He_ didn't cheat you. There was "_reine
Anschauung_," pure perception; it happened when you looked at beautiful
things. Beautiful things were crystal; you looked through them and saw
Reality. You saw God. While the crystal flash lasted "_Wille und
Vorstellung_," the Will and the Idea, were not divided as they are in
life; they were one. That was why beautiful things made you happy.
And there was Mamma's disapproving, reproachful face. Sometimes you felt
that you couldn't stand it for another minute. You wanted to get away
from it, to the other end of the world, out of the world, to die. When
you were dead perhaps you would know. Or perhaps you wouldn't. Perhaps
death would cheat you, too.
"Oh--have I come too soon?"
She had found Mr. Sutcliffe at his writing-table in the library, a pile
of papers before him. He turned in his chair and looked at her above the
fine, lean hand that passed over his face as if it brushed cobwebs.
"They didn't tell me you were busy."
"I'm not. I ought to be, but I'm not."
"You _are_. I'll go and talk to Mrs. Sutcliffe till you've finished."
"No. You'll stay here and talk to me. Mrs. Sutcliffe really _is_ busy."
She could see them sitting round the dining-room: Mrs. Waugh and Miss
Frewin, Mrs. Belk with her busy eyes, and Miss Kendal and Miss Louisa,
Mrs. Oldshaw and Dorsy; and Mrs. Horn, the grocer's wife, very stiff in a
corner by herself, sewing unbleached calico and hot red flannel, hot
sunlight soaking into them. The library was dim, and leathery and
tobaccoey and cool.
The last time she came on a Wednesday Mrs. Sutcliffe had popped out of
the dining-room and made them go round to the tennis court by the back,
so that they might not be seen from the windows. She wondered why Mrs.
Sutcliffe was so afraid of them being seen, and why she had not looked
And to-day--there was something about Mr. Sutcliffe.
"You don't want to play?"
"After tea. When it's cooler. We'll have it in here. By ourselves." He
got up and rang the bell.
The tea-table between them, and she, pouring out the tea. She was grown
up. Her hair was grown up. It lay like a wreath, plaited on the top of
He was smoothing out the wrinkles of one hand with the other, and
smiling. "Everybody busy except you and me, Mary.... How are you getting
on with Kant?"
"I've done with him. It's taken me four years. You see, either the
German's hard or I'm awfully stupid."
"German hard, I should imagine. Do you _like_ Kant?"
"I like him awfully when he says exciting things about Space and Time. I
don't like him when he goes maundering on about his old Categorical
Imperative. You can because you ought--putting you off, like a
"Kant said that, did he? That shows what an old humbug he was.... And it
isn't true, Mary, it isn't true."
"If it was it wouldn't prove anything. That's what bothers me."
"What bothers me is that it isn't true. If I did what I ought I'd be the
busiest man in England. I wouldn't be sitting here. If I even did what I
want--Do you know what I should like to do? To farm my own land instead
of letting it out to these fellows here. I don't suppose you think me
clever, but I've got ideas."
"What sort of ideas?"
"Practical ideas. Ideas that can be carried out. That ought to be carried
out because they can. Ideas about cattle-breeding, cattle-feeding,
chemical manuring, housing, labour, wages, everything that has to do with
Two years ago you talked and he listened. Now that you were grown up he
talked to you and you listened. He had said it would make a difference.
That was the difference it made.
"Here I am, a landowner who can't do anything with his land. And I can't
do anything for my labourers, Mary. If I keep a dry roof over their heads
and a dry floor under their feet I'm supposed to have done my duty....
People will tell you that Mr. Sootcliffe's the great man of the place,
but half of them look down on him because he doesn't farm his own land,
and the other half kow-tow to him because he doesn't, because he's the
landlord. And they all think I'm a dangerous man. They don't like ideas.
They're afraid of 'em.... I'd like to sell every acre I've got here and
buy land--miles and miles of it--that hasn't been farmed before. I'd show
them what farming is if you bring brains to it."
"I see. You _could_ do that."
"Could I? The land's entailed. I can't sell it away from my son. And
_he_'ll never do anything with it."
"Aren't there other things you could have done?"
"I suppose I could have got the farmers out. Turned them off the land
they've sweated their lives into. Or I could have sold my town house
instead of letting it and bought land."
"Of course you could. Oh--why didn't you?"
"Why didn't I? Ah--now you've got me. Because I'm a lazy old humbug,
Mary. All my farming's in my head when it isn't on my conscience."
"You don't really like farming: you only think you ought to. What do you
"Going away. Getting out of this confounded country into the South of
France. I'm not really happy, Mary, till I'm pottering about my garden at
She looked where he was looking. Two drawings above the chimney-piece. A
chain of red hills swung out into a blue sea. The Esterel. A pink and
white house on the terrace of a hill. House and hill blazing out
Agaye. Agaye. Pottering about his garden at Agaye. He was happy there.
"Well, you can get away. To Agaye."
"Not as much as I should like. My wife can't stand more than six weeks of
"So that you aren't really happy at Agaye.... I thought I was the only
person who felt like that. Miserable because I've been doing my own
things instead of sewing, or reading to Mamma."
"That's the way conscience makes cowards of us all."
"If it was even _my_ conscience. But it's Mamma's. And her conscience was
Grandmamma's. And Grandmamma's--"
"Isn't yours a sort of landlord's conscience? Your father's?"
"No. No. It's mine all right. My youth had a conscience."
"Are you sure it wasn't put off with somebody else's?"
"Perhaps. At Oxford we were all social reformers. The collective
conscience of the group, perhaps. I wasn't strong enough to rise to it.
Wasn't strong enough to resist it...."
Don't you do that, my child. Find out what you want, and when you see
your chance coming, take it. Don't funk it."
"I don't see _any_ chance of getting away."
"Where do you want to get away to?"
He leaned forward. His eyes glittered. "You'd like that?"
"I'd like it more than anything on earth."
"Then," he said, "some day you'll go there."
"No. Don't let's talk about it. I shall never go."
"I don't see why not. I don't really see why not."
She shook her head. "No. That sort of thing doesn't happen."
She stitched and stitched, making new underclothing. It was going to
happen. Summer and Christmas and the New Year had gone. In another week
it would happen. She would be sitting with the Sutcliffes in the
Paris-Lyons-Mediterranee express, going with them to Agaye. She had to
have new underclothing. They would be two days in Paris. They would pass,
in the train, through Dijon, Avignon, Toulon and Cannes, then back to
Agaye. She had no idea what it would be like. Only the sounds, Agaye,
rose up out of the other sounds, like a song, a slender foreign song,
bright and clear, that you could sing without knowing what it meant. She
would stay there with the Sutcliffes, for weeks and weeks, in the pink
and white house on the terrace. Perhaps they would go on into Italy.
Mr. Sutcliffe was going to send to Cook's for the tickets to-morrow.
Expensive, well-fitting clothes had come from Durlingham, so that nothing
could prevent it happening.
Mr. Sutcliffe was paying for her ticket. Uncle Victor had paid for the
clothes. He had kept on writing to Mamma and telling her that she really
ought to let you go. Aunt Bella and Uncle Edward had written, and Mrs.
Draper, and in the end Mamma had given in.
At first she had said, "I won't hear of your going abroad with the
Sutcliffes," and, "The Sutcliffes seem to think they've a right to take
you away from me. They've only to say 'Come' and you'll go." Then, "I
suppose you'll have to go," and, "I don't know what your Uncle Victor
thinks they'll do for you, but he shan't say I've stood in your way." And
suddenly her face left off disapproving and reproaching and behaved as it
did on Christmas Days and birthdays.
She smiled now as she sat still and sewed, as she watched you sitting
still and sewing, making new underclothes.
Aunt Bella would come and stay with Mamma, then Aunt Lavvy, then Mrs.
Draper, so that she would not be left alone.
Stitch--stitch. She wondered: Supposing they weren't coming? Could
she have left her mother alone, or would she have given up going and
stayed? No. She couldn't have given it up. She had never wanted anything
in her life as she wanted to go to Agaye with the Sutcliffes. With Mr.
Sutcliffe. Mrs. Sutcliffe didn't count; she wouldn't do anything at
Agaye, she would just trail about in the background, kind and smiling,
in a shawl. She might almost as well not be there.
The happiness was too great. She could not possibly have given it up.
She went on stitching. Mamma went on stitching. Catty brought the lamp
Then Roddy's telegram came. From Queenstown.
"Been ill. Coming home. Expect me to-morrow. Rodney."
She knew then that she would not go to Agaye.
But not all at once.
When she thought of Roddy it was easy to say quietly to herself, "I
shall have to give it up." When she thought of Mr. Sutcliffe and the
Paris-Lyons-Mediterranee train and the shining, gold-white, unknown
towns, it seemed to her that it was impossible to give up going to Agaye.
You simply could not do it.
She shut her eyes. She could feel Mr. Sutcliffe beside her in the train
and the carriage rocking. Dijon, Avignon, Cannes. She could hear his
voice telling her the names. She would stand beside him at the window,
and look out. And Mrs. Sutcliffe would sit in her corner, and smile at
them kindly, glad because they were so happy.
"Roddy doesn't say he _is_ ill," her mother said. "I wonder what he's
coming home for."
Supposing you had really gone? Supposing you were at Agaye when Roddy--
The thought of Roddy gave her a pain in her heart. The thought of not
going to Agaye dragged at her waist and made her feel weak, suddenly, as
if she were trying to stand after an illness.
She went up to her room. The shoulder line of Greffington Edge was fixed
across the open window, immovable, immutable. Her knees felt tired. She
lay down on her bed, staring at the immovable, immutable white walls. She
tried to think of Substance, of the Reality behind appearances. She could
feel her mind battering at the walls of her body, the walls of her room,
the walls of the world. She could hear it crying out.
She was kneeling now beside her bed. She could see her arms stretched out
before her on the counterpane, and her hands, the finger-tips together.
She pressed her weak, dragging waist tighter against the bed.
"If Anything's there--if Anything's there--make me give up going. Make
me think about Roddy. Not about myself. About Roddy. _Roddy_. Make me not
want to go to Agaye."
She didn't really believe that anything would happen.
Her mind left off crying. Outside, the clock on the Congregational Chapel
was striking six. She was aware of a sudden checking and letting go, of a
black stillness coming on and on, hushing sound and sight and the touch
of her arms on the rough counterpane, and her breathing and the beating
of her heart. There was a sort of rhythm in the blackness that caught you
and took you into its peace. When the thing stopped you could almost hear
She stood up. Her white room was grey. Across the window the shoulder of
the hill had darkened. Out there the night crouched, breathing like an
immense, quiet animal. She had a sense of exquisite security and clarity
and joy. She was not going to Agaye. She didn't want to go.
She thought: "I shall have to tell the Sutcliffes. Now, this evening. And
Mamma. They'll be sorry and Mamma will be glad."
But Mamma was not glad. Mamma hated it when you upset arrangements. She
said, "I declare I never saw anybody like you in my life. After all the
trouble and expense."
But you could see it was Roddy she was thinking about. She didn't want to
believe there was anything the matter with him. If you went that would
look as though he was all right.
"What do you suppose the Sutcliffes will think? And your Uncle Victor?
With all those new clothes and that new trunk?"
"Mr. Sutcliffe, I mean."
She went down to Greffington Hall that night and told him. He understood.
But not quite so well as Mrs. Sutcliffe. She gave you a long look,
sighed, and smiled. Almost you would have thought she was glad. _He_
didn't look at you. He looked down at his own lean fine hands hanging in
front of him. You could see them trembling slightly. And when you were
going he took you into the library and shut the door.
"Is this necessary, Mary?" he said.
"Yes. We don't quite know what's wrong with Roddy."
"Then why not wait and see?"
"Because I _do_ know. And Mamma doesn't. There's something, or he
wouldn't have come home."
A long pause. She noticed little things about him. The proud, handsome
corners of his mouth had loosened; his eyelids didn't fit nicely as they
used to do; they hung slack from the eyebone.
"You care more for Roddy than you do for Mark," he said.
"I don't care for him half so much. But I'm sorry for him. You can't be
sorry for Mark.... Roddy wants me and Mark doesn't. He wants nobody but
"He knows what he wants.... Well. It's my fault. I should have known what
I wanted. I should have taken you a year ago."
"If you had," she said, "it would have been all over now."
"I wonder, would it?"
For the life of her she couldn't imagine what he meant.
When she got home she found her mother folding up the work in the
"Well, anyhow," Mamma said, "you've laid in a good stock of
She was sitting in the big leather chair in the consulting-room. The
small grey-white window panes and the black crooked bough of the apple
tree across them made a pattern in her brain. Dr. Charles stood before
her on the hearthrug. She saw his shark's tooth, hanging sharp in the
snap of his jaws. He was powerful, savage and benevolent.
He had told her what was wrong with Roddy.
The savage light went out of his eyes. They were dull and kind under his
red shaggy eyebrows.
"It means that you won't have him with you very long, Mary."
That Roddy would die. That Roddy would die. _Roddy_. That was what he had
come home for.
"He ought never to have gone out with his heart in that state. It beats
me how he's pulled through those five years. Five weeks of it were enough
to kill him.... Jem Alderson must have taken mighty good care of him."
Jem Alderson. She remembered. The big shoulders, the little screwed up
eyes, the long moustaches, the good, gladiator face. Jem Alderson had
taken care of him. Jem Alderson had cared.
"I don't know what your mother could have been thinking of to let him
"Mamma doesn't think of things. It wasn't her fault. She didn't know.
Uncle Edward and Uncle Victor made him."
"They ought to be hung for it."
"They didn't know, either. It was my fault. _I_ knew."
It seemed to her that she had known, that she had known all the time,
that she remembered knowing.
"Did he tell you?"
"He didn't tell anybody.... Did he know?"
"Yes, Mary. He came to me to be overhauled. I told him he wasn't fit to
"I did _try_ to stop him."
He looked at her sharply, as if he were trying to find out something, to
"Because I _knew_."
"You couldn't have known if nobody told you."
"I did know. If he dies I shall have killed him. I ought to have stopped
him. I was the only one who knew."
"You couldn't have stopped him. You were only a child yourself when it
happened. If anybody was to blame it was his mother."
"It wasn't. She didn't know. Mamma never knows anything she doesn't want
to know. She can't see that he's ill now. She talks as if he ought to do
something. She can't stand men who don't do things like Mark and Dan."
"What on earth does she suppose he could do? He's no more fit to do
anything than my brother James.... You'll have to take care of him,
A sharp and tender pang went through her. It was like desire; like the
feeling you had when you thought of babies: painful and at the same time
"Could you?" said Dr. Charles.
"Of course I can."
"If he's taken care of he might live--"
She stood up and faced him. "How long?"
"I don't know. Perhaps--" He went with her to the door. "Perhaps," he
said, "quite a long time."
(But if he didn't live she would have killed him. She had known all the
time, and she had let him go.)
Through the dining-room window she could see Roddy as he crouched over
the hearth, holding out his hands to the fire.
He was hers, not Mamma's, to take care of. Sharp, delicious pain!
"Oh, Roddy--look! Little, little grouse, making nice noises."
The nestlings went flapping and stumbling through the roots of the
heather. Roddy gazed at them with his fixed and mournful eyes. He
couldn't share your excitement. He drew back his shoulders, bracing
himself to bear it; his lips tightened in a hard, bleak grin. He grinned
at the absurdity of your supposing that he could be interested in
anything any more.
Roddy's beautiful face was bleached and sharpened; the sallow,
mauve-tinted skin stretched close over the bone; but below the edge of
his cap you could see the fine spring of his head from his neck, like the
spring of Mark's head.
They were in April now. He was getting better. He could walk up the lower
slopes of Karva without panting.
"Why are we ever out?" he said. "Supposing we went home?"
"All right. Let's."
He was like that. When he was in the house he wanted to be on the moor;
when he was on the moor he wanted to be back in the house. They started
to go home, and he turned again towards Karva. They went on till they
came to the round pit sunk below the track. They rested there, sitting on
the stones at the bottom of the pit.
"Mary," he said, "I can't stay here. I shall have to go back. To Canada,
"You shall never go back to Canada," she said.
"I must. Not to the Aldersons. I can't go there again, because--I can't
tell you why. But if I could I wouldn't. I was no good there. They let
you know it."
"No. _He_ was all right. That beastly woman."
"His aunt. She didn't want me there. I wasn't fit for anything but
driving cattle and cleaning out their stinking pigsties.... She used to
look at me when I was eating. You could see she was thinking 'He isn't
worth his keep.' ... Her mouth had black teeth in it, with horrible gummy
gaps between. The women were like that. I wanted to hit her on the mouth
and smash her teeth.... But of course I couldn't."
"It's all over. You mustn't think about it."
"I'm not. I'm thinking about the other thing.... The thing I did. And the
dog, Mary; the dog."
She knew what was coming.
"You can't imagine what that place was like. Their sheep-run was miles
from the farm. Miles from anything. You had to take it in turns to sleep
there a month at a time, in a beastly hut. You couldn't sleep because of
that dog. Jem _would_ give him me. He yapped. You had to put him in the
shed to keep him from straying. He yapped all night. The yapping was the
only sound there was. It tore pieces out of your brain.... I didn't think
I could hate a dog.... But I did hate him. I simply couldn't stand the
yapping. And one night I got up and hung him. I hung him."
"You didn't, Roddy. You know you didn't. The first time you told me that
story you said you found him hanging. Don't you remember? He was a bad
dog. He bit the sheep. Jem's uncle hung him."
"No. It was me. Do you know what he did? He licked my hands when I was
tying the rope round his neck. He played with my hands. He was a yellow
dog with a white breast and white paws.... And that isn't the worst. That
"The other thing. What I did.... I haven't told you that. You couldn't
stand me if you knew. It was why I had to go. Somebody must have known.
Jem must have known."
"I don't believe you did anything. Anything at all."
"I tell you I did."
"No, Roddy. You only think you did. You only think you hung the dog."
They got up out of the pit. They took the track to the schoolhouse lane.
A sheep staggered from its bed and stalked away, bleating, with head
thrown back and shaking buttocks. Plovers got up, wheeling round,
sweeping close. "_Pee_-vit--_Pee_-vit. Pee-_vitt_!"
"This damned place is full of noises," Roddy said.
"The mind can bring it about, that all bodily modifications or images of
things may be referred to the idea of God."
The book stood open before her on the kitchen table, propped against the
scales. As long as you were only stripping the strings from the French
beans you could read.
The mind can bring it about. The mind can bring it about. "He who clearly
and distinctly understands himself and his emotions loves God, and so
much the more in proportion as he more understands himself and his
Fine slices of French beans fell from the knife, one by one, into the
bowl of clear water. Spinoza's thought beat its way out through the smell
of steel, the clean green smell of the cut beans, the crusty, spicy smell
of the apple pie you had made. "He who loves God cannot endeavour that
God should love him in return."
"'Shall we gather at the river--'" Catty sang as she went to and fro
between the kitchen and the scullery. Catty was happy now that Maggie had
gone and she had only you and Jesus with her in the kitchen. Through the
open door you could hear the clack of the hatchet and the thud on the
stone flags as Roddy, with slow, sorrowful strokes, chopped wood in the
"Miss Mary--" Catty's thick, loving voice and the jerk of her black eyes
Mamma looked in at the door.
"Put that book away," she said. She hated the two brown volumes of
Elwes's Spinoza you had bought for your birthday. "The dinner will be
ruined if you read."
"It'll be ruined if I don't read."
For then your mind raged over the saucepans and the fragrant, floury
pasteboard, hungry and unfed. It couldn't bring anything about. It
snatched at the minutes left over from Roddy and the house and Mamma and
the piano. You knew what every day would be like. You would get up early
to practise. When the cooking and the housework was done Roddy would want
you. You would play tennis together with Mr. Sutcliffe and Dorsy Heron.
Or you would go up on to the moors and comfort Roddy while he talked
about the "things" he had done in Canada and about getting away and about
the dog. You would say over and over again, "You know you didn't hang
him. It was Jem's uncle. He was a bad dog. He bit the sheep." In the
winter evenings you would sew or play or read aloud to Mamma and Roddy,
and Roddy would crouch over the fender, with his hands stretched out to
the fire, not listening.
But Roddy was better. The wind whipped red blood into his cheeks. He said
he would be well if it wasn't for the bleating of the sheep, and the
crying of the peewits and the shouting of the damned villagers. And
people staring at him. He would be well if he could get away.
Then--he would be well if he could marry Dorsy.
So the first year passed. And the second. And the third year. She was
five and twenty. She thought: "I shall die before I'm fifty. I've lived
half my life and done nothing."
Old Dr. Kendal was dead. He had had nothing more to live for. He had
beaten Mr. Peacock of Sarrack. Miss Kendal was wearing black ribbons in
her cap instead of pink. And Maggie's sister was dead of her cancer.
The wall at the bottom of the garden had fallen down and Roddy had built
it up again.
He had heaved up the big stones and packed them in mortar; he had laid
them true by the plumb-line; Blenkiron's brother, the stonemason,
couldn't have built a better wall.
It had all happened in the week when she was ill and went to stay with
Aunt Lavvy at Scarborough. Yesterday evening, when she got home, Roddy
had come in out of the garden to meet her. He was in his shirt sleeves;
glass beads of sweat stood out on his forehead, his face was white with
excitement. He had just put the last dab of mortar to the last stone.
In the blue and white morning Mary and her mother stood in the garden,
looking at the wall. In its setting of clean white cement, Roddy's bit
showed like the map of South Africa. They were waiting for him to come
down to breakfast.
"I must say," Mamma said, "he's earned his extra half-hour in bed."
She was pleased because Roddy had built the wall up and because he was
They had turned. They were walking on the flagged path by the
flower-border under the house. Mamma walked slowly, with meditative
pauses, and bright, sidelong glances for her flowers.
"If only," she said, "he could work without trampling the flowers down."
The sun was shining on the flagged path. Mamma was stooping over the bed;
she had lifted the stalk of the daffodil up out of the sunk print of
Roddy's boot. Catty was coming down the house passage to the side door.
Her mouth was open. Her eyes stared above her high, sallow cheeks. She
stood on the doorstep, saying something in a husky voice.
"Miss Mary--will you go upstairs to Master Roddy? I think there's