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The Foolish Lovers by St. John G. Ervine

Part 6 out of 8

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own. I'm to marry you, of whom I know absolutely nothing, merely
because you want me to marry you. I don't know whether you are a
gentleman or not. You have a very funny accent!..."

"What's wrong with my accent?" he demanded.

"I don't know. It's just funny. I've never heard an accent like that
before, and so I can't tell whether you're a gentleman or not. If you
were an Englishman, I should know at once, but it's different with
Irish people. Your very queer manners may be quite the thing in
Ireland!"

He put out his hand to her, but she drew back. "Sit down," he said.
"Just for a minute or two till I talk to you. I'll let you go then!"

She hesitated. Then she did as he asked her. "Very well!" she said
primly.

"Listen to me, Eleanor, I know very well that my behaviour is strange
to you. It's strange to me. Till last night we'd never exchanged a
dozen words. I know that. But I tell you this, if you live to be a
hundred and have boys by the score, you'll never have a man that'll
love you as I love you. I'm in earnest, Eleanor. I'm not codding you.
I'm not trying to humbug you. I love you. I'm desperate in love with
you!..."

She leant forward a little, moved by his sincerity. "But," she said,
and then stopped as if unable to find words, adequate to her meaning.

"There's no buts about it," he replied. "I love you. I don't know why I
love you, and I don't care whether I know or not. All I know is that
the minute I saw you, I loved you. I wanted to see you again, and I
schemed to make you talk to me!..."

"Yes, and very silly your schemes were. Asking me if I wanted the
_Graphic_ back again!..."

"You remember that, do you?" he asked.

"Well, it was so obvious and so stupid," she answered.

"Listen. Tell me this. Do you believe me when I tell you I love you?
It's no use me telling you if you don't believe me!"

"It's so difficult to say!..."

"Do you believe me," he insisted. "Do I look like a man that would tell
lies to a girl like you. Answer me that, now?"

She raised her eyes, and gazed very straightly at him. "No," she said;
"I don't think you would. I ... I think you mean what you say!..."

"I do, Eleanor. As true as God's in heaven, I do. Will you not believe
me?"

"But I don't love you," she burst out.

"Well, mebbe you don't. That's understandable!" he admitted.

"And the whole thing's so unusual," she protested.

"What does that matter? If I love you and you get to love me, does it
matter about anything else? Have wit, woman, have wit!"

"Don't speak to me like that. You're very abrupt, Mr. MacDermott!..."
"My name's John to you! Now, don't flare up again. You were nice and
amenable a minute ago. You can stop like that. You and me are going to
marry some time. The sooner the better. All I want you to do now, as
you say you don't love me, is to give me a chance to make you love me.
Come out with me for a walk ... or we'll go to a theatre, if you like!
Anyway, let's be friends. I don't know anybody in this town except one
man, and him and me's had a row over the head of the _Daily
Sensation!_..." "Yes," she interrupted, "you've lost your work
through your foolishness. What are you going to do now? It isn't very
easy to get work." "I'll get it all right if I want it, I've enough
money to keep me easy for a year without doing a hand's turn, and I
daresay my mother and my Uncle William 'ud let me have more if I wanted
it. I don't want to be on a paper much. I want to write books!" Her
interest was restored. "Tell me about the book you've written. Is it
printed yet?" she said. He told her of his work, and of the Creams and
of Hinde. He told her, too, of his life in Ballyards. "Where do you
come from?" he said. "Devonshire," she answered. "My father was rector
of a village there until he died. Then mother and I lived in Exeter
until she died!..." "You're alone then?" he asked. "Yes. My mother
had an annuity. That stopped when she died. My cousin ... he's a doctor
in Exeter ... settled up her affairs for me, and when everything was
arranged, there was just enough money to pay for my secretarial
training and keep me for a year. I trained for six months and then I
went as a stop-gap to that office where you saw me. I'm in an office in
Long Acre now--a motor place!" "And have you no friends here--relations,
I mean?" "Some cousins. I don't often see them. And one or
two people who knew father and mother!" "You're really alone then ...
like me?" he said. "Yes," she answered. "Yes, I suppose I am!" He
leant back in his chair. "It seems like the hand of God," he said,
"bringing the two of us together!" "I wish," she said, "you wouldn't
talk about God so much!"

III

When he went home that evening, he wrote to his mother. _Dear
Mother_, he wrote, _I've got acquainted with a girl here called
Eleanor Moore, and I've made up my mind I'm going to marry her. She's
greatly against it at present, but I daresay she'll change her
mind_.... There was more than that in the letter, but it is not
necessary to repeat the remainder of it here. He also wrote to Eleanor.
_My dearest_, the letter ran, _I'm looking forward to meeting
you again tomorrow night at the same place. I know you said you
wouldn't meet me, but I'm hoping you'll change your mind. I'll be
waiting for you anyway, and I'll wait till seven o'clock for you.
Remember that, Eleanor! If you don't turn up, it'll be hard for you to
sit in comfort and you thinking of me waiting for you. You'll never
have the heart to refuse me, will you? We can have our tea together,
and then go for a walk or a ride on a 'bus till dinner-time, and then,
if you like, after we've had something to eat, we'll go to a theatre.
Don't disappoint me, for I'm terribly in love with you. Yours only,
John MacDermott. P. S. Don't be any later than you can help. I hate
waiting about for people._

IV

She came, reluctantly so she said, to the bookstall at Charing
Cross station, but only to tell him that she could not do as he wished
her to do. She would take tea with him for this once, but it was
useless to ask her to go for a walk with him or for a 'bus-ride either,
and she certainly would not dine with him nor would she go to a
theatre. Yet she went for a walk on the Embankment with him, and they
paced up and down so long that she saw the force of his argument that
she might as well have her dinner in town as go back to her club where
the food would be tepid, if not actually cold, by the time she was
ready to eat it. She need not go to a theatre unless she wished to do,
but he could not help telling her that a great deal of praise had been
given to a piece called _Justice_ by a man called Galsworthy.
Mebbe she would like to see it. She was not to imagine that he was
forcing her to go to the theatre.... And so she went, and they sat
together in the pit, hearing with difficulty because of the horrible
acoustics of the Duke of York's Theatre; and when the play was over, he
had to comfort her, for the fate of Falder had pained her. They climbed
on to the top of a 'bus at Oxford Circus and were carried along Oxford
Street to the Bayswater Road. They sat close together on the back seat
of the 'bus, with a waterproofed apron over their knees because the
night was damp and chilly; and as the 'bus drove along to Marble Arch
they did not speak. The rain had ceased to fall before they quitted
the theatre, but the streets were still wet, and John found himself
again realising their beauty. Trees and hills and rivers in the country
and flowers and young animals were beautiful, but until this moment
he had never known that wet pavements and wooden or macadamised roads
were beautiful, too, when the lamps were lit and the cold grey gleam
of electric arcs or the soft, yellow, reluctant light of gas lamps
fell upon them. He could see a long wet gleam stretching far ahead
of him, past the Marble Arch and the darkness of Hyde Park and Kensington
Gardens into a region of which he knew nothing; and as he contemplated
that loveliness, he remembered that the sight of tramlines shining at
night had unaccountably moved him more than once. Once, at Ballyards,
he had stood still for a few moments to look at the railway track
glistening in the sunshine, and he remembered how puzzled he had been
when, in some magazine, he had read a complaint of trains, that they
marred the beauty of the fields. He had seen trains a long way off,
moving towards him and sending up puffs of thick white smoke that
trailed into thin strips of blown cloud, and had waited until the
silence of the distant engine, broken once or twice by a shrill, sharp
whistle, had become a stupendous noise, and the great machine,
masterfully hauling its carriages behind it, had galloped past him,
roaring and cheering and sending the debris swirling tempestuously
about it! ... The sight of a train going at a great speed had always
seemed to him to be a wonderful thing, but now he realised that it
was more than wonderful, that it was actually beautiful.... He turned
his head a little and looked past Eleanor to the Park. Little vague
yellow lights flickered through the trees, all filmy with the evening
mists, and he could smell the rich odour of wet earth. He looked
at Eleanor and as he did so, they both smiled, and he realised that
suddenly affection for him had come to life in her. Beneath the
protection of the waterproofed apron, his hand sought for hers and
held it. Half-heartedly she tried to withdraw her fingers from his grasp,
but he would not let them go, and so she did not persist in her effort.

"Look!" he said, snuggling closer to her.

She turned towards the Park, and then, after a little while, turned
back again. "I've always loved the Park," she said. "It's the most
friendly thing in London!"

He urged his love for her again. He had seen affection for him in her
eyes and had felt that her hand was not being firmly withdrawn from
his.

"No, no," she protested, "don't let's talk about it any more. I don't
love you!..."

"Well, marry me anyhow!"

Backwards and forwards their arguments passed, returning always to that
point: _But I don't love you! Well, marry me anyhow!..._

He took her to the door of her club, and for a while, they stood at the
foot of the steps talking of the play they had seen that evening and of
his love for her.

"It's no good," she said, trying to leave him, but unable to do so
because he had taken hold of her hand and would not release it.

"Don't go in yet," he pleaded. "Wait a wee while longer!"

"What's the use?" she exclaimed.

"You'll meet me again to-morrow?..."

"I can't meet you _every _night!"

"Why not?" he demanded. "Tell me why not!"

"Well... well, because I can't. It's ridiculous. You're so absurd. You
keep on saying the same thing over and over... and it's so silly. If I
were in love with you, I might go out with you every evening, but!..."

"Do you like me!"

"I don't know. I... I suppose I must or I wouldn't go out with you at
all. Really, I'm sorry for you!..."

"Well, if you're sorry for me, come out with me tomorrow night. We'll
have our dinner in town again!"

"No, no! Don't you understand, Mr. MacDermott!..."

"John, John, John!" he said.

"I can't call you by your Christian name!..."

"Why not? I call you by yours, don't I?"

"Yes, but you oughtn't to. I've asked you not to call me Eleanor, but
it doesn't seem to be any good asking you to do anything that you don't
want to do. But even you must understand that I can't let you take me
out every evening. I can't let you pay for things!..."

"Oh," he said, as if his mind were illuminated. "Is that your trouble?
We can soon settle that. If you won't let me pay for things, pay for
them yourself ... only let me be with you when you're doing it. You
have to have food, haven't you? Well, so have I. We have no friends
in London that matter to us, and you like me ... you admitted it
yourself ... and I love you ... so why shouldn't we have our meals
together even, if you do pay for your own food?"

"Of course, it sounds all right as you put it," she answered, "but it
isn't all right. I can't explain things. I don't know how to explain
them, but I know about them all the same. And I know it isn't all
right. You'll begin to think I'm in love with you!..."

"I hope you will be, but you'll never be certain unless you see me fair
and often. You'll come again to-morrow, won't you?"

"Oh, good-night," she said impatiently, suddenly breaking from him.
"You're like a baby. You think you've only got to keep on asking for
things and people will get tired of saying 'No!' I won't go out with
you again. You make me feel tired and cross!..."

"Well, if you won't meet me to-morrow night, will you meet me the next
night?"

"No!"

"Then will you stay a wee while longer now?"

She turned on the top step and looked at him, and he saw with joy that
the anger had gone out of her eyes and that she was smiling at him.
"You really are!..." she said, and then she stopped. He waited for her
to go on, but she shrugged her shoulders and said only, "I don't know!
It simply isn't any good talking to you!"

He went up the steps and stood beside her and took hold of her hand.
"Let me kiss you, Eleanor," he said.

She started away from him. "No, of course I won't!"

"Just once!"

"No!"

"Well, why not? You've let me hold your hand. What's the difference?"

"There's every difference. Besides I didn't let you hold my hand. You
took it. I couldn't prevent you. You're so rough!..."

"No, my dear, not rough. Not really rough. Eleanor, just once!..."

"No," she said again, this time speaking so loudly that she startled
herself. "Please go away. I shan't go out with you again. I was silly
to go out with you at all. You don't know how to behave!..."

She broke off abruptly and turned to open the door, but she had
difficulty with the key because of her anger.

"Let me open it for you," he said, taking the key from her hand and
inserting it in the lock. "There!" he added, when the door was open.

"Thank you," she said, taking the key from him. "Good-night!"

"Good-night, Eleanor!" he replied very softly.

They did not move. She stood with, her hand on the door and he stood on
the top step and gazed at her.

"Well--good-night," she said again.

"Dear Eleanor," he replied. "My dear Eleanor!"

She gulped a little. "Goo--good-night!" she said.

"I love you, my dear, so much. I shall never love anyone as I love you.
I have never loved anybody else but you, never, never!... Well, I
thought I loved someone else, but I didn't!..."

"It's no good," she began, but he interrupted her.

"Well, meet me again to-morrow night at the same place!..."

"No, I won't!"

"At five o'clock. I'll be there before you ... long before you. You'll
meet me, won't you?"

"No."

"Please, Eleanor!"

She hesitated. Then she said, "Oh, very well, then! But it'll be the
last time. Good-night!"

She pushed the door to, but before she could close it, he whispered
"Good-night, my darling!" to her, and then the door was between them.

He waited until he saw the flash of the light in her room, and hoped
that she would come to the window; but she did not do so, and after a
while he went away.

V

Up in her room, she was staring at her reflection in the mirror, while
he was waiting below on the pavement for her to come to the window, and
as he walked away, she began to talk to the angry, baffled girl she saw
before her.

"I won't marry him," she said. "I won't marry him. I don't love him. I
don't even like him. I _won't_ marry him!..."

THE SIXTH CHAPTER

I

Now that he had found Eleanor again, he was able to settle down to
work. It was necessary, he told himself, that he should have some
substantial achievements behind him before she and he were married,
particularly as he had lost his employment on the _Daily
Sensation_. The money he possessed would not last for ever and he
could hardly hope to sponge on his Uncle William ... even if he were
inclined to do so ... for the rest of his life. He must earn money by
his own work and earn it quickly. In one way, it was a good thing that
he had lost his work on the newspaper ... for he would have all the
more time to write his tragedy. The sketch for the Creams had been
hurriedly finished and posted to them at a music-hall in Scotland where
they were playing, so Cream wrote in acknowledging the MS., to
"enormous business. Dolly fetching 'em every time!..." Two pounds per
week, John told himself, would pay for the rent and some of the food
until he was able to earn large sums of money by his serious plays. The
tragedy would establish him. It would not make a fortune for him, for
tragedians did not make fortunes, but it would make his name known, and
Hinde had assured him that a man with a known name could easily earn a
reasonable livelihood as an occasional contributor to the newspapers.
It was Hinde who had proposed the subject of the tragedy to him. For
years he had dallied with the notion of writing it himself, he said,
but now he knew that he would never write anything but newspaper
stuff!...

"Do you know anything about St. Patrick?" he said to John.

"A wee bit. Not much."

"Well, you know he was a slave before he was a saint?" John nodded his
head. "A man called Milchu," Hinde continued, "was his master. An
Ulsterman. He was the chieftain of a clan that spread over Down and
Antrim. Our country. He had Patrick for six years, and then he lost
him. Patrick escaped. He returned to Ireland as a missionary and sent
word to Milchu that he had come to convert him to Christianity, and
Milchu sent word back that he'd see him damned first. Milchu wasn't
going to be converted by his slave. No fear. And he destroyed
himself ... set fire to his belongings and perished in his own flames
rather than have it said that an Ulster chieftain was converted by his own
slave. That's a great theme for a tragedy. I suppose you're a
Christian, Mac?"

"I am. I'm a Presbyterian!"

"Oh, well, you won't see the tragedy of it as well as I see it. Think
of a slave trying to convert a free man to a slave religion. There's a
tragedy for you!..."

"I don't understand you," said John.

"No? Well, it doesn't matter. There's a theme for you to write about. A
free man killing himself rather than be conquered by a slave! Of
course, the real tragedy is that St. Patrick converted the rest of
Ireland to Christianity! ... Milchu escaped: the others surrendered. It
wasn't the English that beat the Irish, Mac. They were beaten before
ever the English put their feet on Irish ground. St. Patrick beat them.
The slave made slaves of them!..."

"Is that what you call Christians?" John indignantly demanded.
"Slaves?"

Hinde shrugged his shoulders. "The Irish people are the most Christian
people on earth," he said. "That's all!..."

They put the subject away from them, because they felt that if they did
not do so, there must be antagonism between them. But John determined
that he would write a play about St. Patrick and the Pagan Milchu.
Hinde lent him his ticket for the London Library, and he spent his
mornings reading biographies of the saint: Todd and Whitley, Stokes and
Zimmer and Professor J. B. Bury; and accounts of the ancient Irish
church. Slowly there came into his mind a picture of the saint that was
not very like the picture he had known before and was very different
from Hinde's conception of the relationship between Milchu and St.
Patrick. To him, the wonderful thing was that the slave had triumphed
over his owner. Milchu, in his conception, had not been sufficiently
manly to stand before Patrick and contend with him, and to own himself
the inferior of the two. He had run away from St. Patrick! With that
conception of the two men in his mind, he began to write his play.

"You're wrong" said Hinde. "Milchu was a gentleman and Patrick was a
slave!..."

"The son of a magistrate!" John indignantly interrupted.

"A lawyer's son!" Hinde sneered. "And Milchu, being a gentleman, would
not be governed by a slave. Think of an Irish gentleman being governed
by an Irish peasant!" There was a wry look on his face, "And a little
common Irish priest to govern a little common Irish peasant!... They
won't get gentlemen to live in a land like that!"

"I'm a peasant," said John. "There's not much difference between a
shopkeeper and a peasant!..."

"I'm talking of minds," said Hinde, "not of positions. I believe in
making peasants comfortable and secure, but I believe also in keeping
them in their place. I'm one of the world's Milchus, Mac. I'd rather
set fire to myself than submit to my inferiors!"

John sat in his chair in silence for a few moments, trying to
understand Hinde's argument. "Then why do you write for papers like the
_Daily Sensation_?" he asked at last.

Hinde winced. "I suppose because I'm not enough of a Milchu," he
replied.

II

John had met Eleanor at their customary trysting-place, in front of the
bookstall at Charing Cross Road, and they had walked along the
Embankment towards Blackfriars. The theme of his tragedy was very
present in his mind and he told the story to Eleanor as they walked
along the side of the river in the glowing dusk. They stood for a
while, with their elbows resting on the stone balustrade, and looked
down on the dark tide beneath them. The great, grim arches of Waterloo
Bridge, made melancholy by the lemon-coloured light of the lamps which
surmounted them, cast big, black shadows on the water. They could hear
little lapping waves splashing against the pillars, and presently a tug
went swiftly down to the Pool. Neither of them spoke. Behind them the
tramcars went whirring by, and once when John looked round, he felt as
if he must cry because of the beauty of these swift caravans of light,
gliding easily through the misty darkness of a London night. He had
turned quickly again to contemplate the river, and as he did so,
Eleanor stirred a little, moving more closely to him, demanding, so it
seemed, his comfort and protection, and instantly he put his arm about
her and drew her tightly to him. He did not care whether anyone saw
them or not. It was sufficient for him that in her apprehension she had
turned to him. Both his arms were about her, and his lips were on her
lips. "Dear Eleanor," he said....

Then she released herself from his embrace. "I felt frightened," she
said. "I don't know why. It's so lovely to-night ... and yet I felt
frightened!"

"Will we go?" he asked.

"Yes!"

He put his arm in hers and she did not resist him. "You're my
sweetheart now, aren't you, Eleanor?" he whispered to her, as they
walked along towards Westminster.

She did not answer.

"My dear sweetheart," he went on, "and presently you'll be my dear
wife, and we'll have a little house somewhere, and we'll love each
other for ever and ever. Won't we?" He pressed her arm in his. "Won't
we, Eleanor? Every night when I come home from work and we have had our
supper, we'll go for a walk like this, and I'll talk and you'll listen,
and we'll be very happy, and we'll never be lonely again. Oh, I pity
the poor men who don't know you, Eleanor!..."

She smiled up at him, but still she did not speak.

"I couldn't have believed I should be so happy as I am," he continued.
"I wonder if it's right for one woman to have so much power over a
man ... to be able to make him happy or miserable just as the fancy takes
her ... but I don't care whether it's right or wrong. I'm content so
long as I have you. We're going to be married, aren't we, Eleanor?
Aren't we?"

He stopped and turned her round so that they were facing each other.

"Aren't we, Eleanor?" he repeated.

"Don't let's talk about that," she murmured. "I'm so happy to-night,
and I don't want to think about what's past or what's to come. I only
want to be happy now!"

"With me?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Then you do love me?..."

"I don't know. I can't tell. But I'm frightfully happy. I expect I
shall feel that I've made a fool of myself ... in the morning, but just
now I don't care whether I'm fool or not. I'm like you. I'm content.
Let's go on walking!"

They turned back at Boadicea's statue, and when they were in the
shadows again, he took his arm from hers and put it about her waist.
"Let's pretend there's nobody else here but us," he said.

III

They dined in Soho, and when they had finished their meal, they walked
to Oxford Circus and once more climbed to the top of a 'bus that would
take them along the Bayswater Road.

"You must like me, Eleanor," he said to her, as they sat huddled
together on the back seat, "or you wouldn't come out with me as you
do!"

"Yes," she answered, "I think I do like you. It seems odd that I should
like you, and I made up my mind that I shouldn't ever like you. But I
do. You're very likeable, really. It's because you're so silly, I
suppose. And so persistent!"

"Then why can't we get married, my dear? Isn't it sickening for you to
be living in that club and me to be living at Brixton, when we might be
living in our own home? I hate this beastly separation every night.
Let's get married, Eleanor!"

"I suppose we will in the end," she said, "but I don't feel like
getting married to you. After all, John!..." She called him by his
Christian name now. "After all, John, if I were to marry you now, when
we know so little of each other, it would be very poor fun for me, if
you discovered after we were married that you did not care for me as
much as you imagined. And suppose I never fell in love with you?"

"Yes," he said gloomily.

"How awful!"

"But I'd have you. I'd have the comfort of being your husband and of
having you for my wife!"

"It mightn't be a comfort. Oh, no, it's too risky, John. We must wait.
We must know more of each other!..."

"Will you get engaged to me then?" he suggested.

"But that's a promise. No. Let's just go on as we are now, being
friends and meeting sometimes!"

"Supposing we were engaged without anybody knowing about it?" he said.
"Would that do?"

"I don't want either of us to be bound ... not yet. Oh, not yet. Do be
sensible, John!"

"I am sensible. I know that I want to marry you. That's sensible, isn't
it?"

"Yes, I suppose it is," she replied, laughing.

"Well, isn't it sensible to want to be sensible as soon as possible?
You needn't laugh. I mean it. It's just foolishness to be going on like
this. I'm as sensible as anybody, and I can't see any sense in our not
marrying at once. Get engaged to me for a while anyway!"

"But what would be the good of that?"

"All the good in the world. I just want the comfort of knowing there's
a chance of you marrying me!"

"It seems so unsatisfactory to me ... and so risky!" she protested.

"I'm willing to take the risk. I'll wait as long as you like."

"I'll think about it. But if I do get engaged to you, we won't get
married for a long time!"

"How long?"

"Oh, a long time. A very long time."

"What do you mean? Six months?"

"No, years. Oh, five years, perhaps!"

"My God Almighty!" he said. "Do you know what you're saying! Five
years? We might all be dead and buried long before then. What age will
I be in five years time. Oh, wheesht with you, Eleanor, and don't be
talking such balderdash. Five years! Holy O!"

"What does 'Holy O!' mean?" she demanded.

"I don't know. It's just a thing to say when you can't think of
anything else. Five years! Five minutes is more like it!"

"We're too young to be married yet, and in five years' time we'll know
each other much better!"

"I should think so, too," he said. "It's a lifetime, woman! Whatever
put that idea into your head!"

"If I get engaged to you at all," she replied, "and I'm not sure that I
will, it'll be for five years or not at all. You may be willing to take
risks, but I'm not. Risks are all right for men ... they can afford to
take them ... but women can't. If you don't agree to that, you'll have
to give up the idea altogether!"

"Then you'll get engaged to me?"

"No, I didn't say that. I said that if I got engaged to you at all, it
would be for five years. I'm not sure that I shall get engaged to you.
I don't think I really like you. I think I'd just get tired of saying
'No' to you!..." She could see that his face had become glum, and she
hurriedly reassured him. "Yes, I do like you! I like you quite well ...
but I'm not going to marry you ... if I ever marry you ... till I'm
sure about you!"

They descended from the 'bus and walked towards her club.

"Anyway," he said, "I consider myself engaged to you. And I'll buy you
a ring the morrow morning!"

"Indeed, you won't," she said.

"Indeed, I will," he replied. "I'll have it handy for the time you
agree to have me!"

"You won't be able to get one until you know the size, and I won't tell
you that!..."

They wrangled on the doorstep until it was late, but she would not
yield to him. He could consider himself engaged to her if he liked ...
she could not prevent him from considering anything he chose to
consider ... but she would not consider herself engaged to him nor
would she wear a ring until she was sure of her feelings.

He kissed her when they parted, and she did not resist him. It was
useless to try to resist an accomplished thing. His childlike
insistence both attracted and irritated her. She felt drawn to him
because his mind seemed to be so completely centred upon her, and
repelled by him because his own wishes appeared to be the only
considerations he had. She could not decide whether the love he had for
her ... and she believed that he loved her ... was complete devotion or
complete selfishness. Love at first sight was a perfectly credible,
though unusual thing. It was possible that he had fallen in love with
her ... her vanity was pleased by the thought that he had done so ...
but she certainly had not fallen in love with him either at first or at
second sight. She was not in love with him now. She felt certain of
that. He was likeable and kind and a very comforting person, and there
was much more pleasure to be had from a walk with him than from an
evening spent in the club!... Ugh, that club, that dreadful
conglomeration of isolated women! Oh, oh, oh! She gave little shudders
as she reflected on her club-mates. Most of them were girls like
herself, working as secretaries either in offices or in other places
... to medical men or writers ... and, like her, they had few friends
in London. Their homes were in the country. Among them were a number of
aimless spinsters, subsisting sparely on private means ... poor,
wilting women without occupation or interest. They were of an earlier
generation than Eleanor, the generation which was too genteel to work
for its living, and they had survived their friends and their families
and were left high and dry, without any obvious excuse for existing,
among young women who were profoundly contemptuous of a woman who could
not earn a living for herself. They sat about in the drawing-room and
sizzled! They knew exactly at what hour this girl came in on Monday
night, and at exactly what hour the other girl came in on Tuesday
night. They whispered things to each other! They thought it was very
peculiar behaviour for a girl to come back to the club alone with a man
at twelve o'clock ... "midnight, my dear!" they would say, as if
"midnight" had a more terrible sound than twelve o'clock ... and they
were certain that Miss Dilldall's parents should be informed of the
fact that on Saturday evening she went off in a taxi-cab with a man who
was wearing dress-clothes and a gibus-hat. Miss Dilldall publicly
boasted of the fact that she had smoked a cigarette in a restaurant in
Soho!...

Ugh! Even if John were selfish, he was preferable to these drab women,
these pitiful females herded together. Women in the mass were very
displeasing to look at, and they frightened you. They turned down the
corners of their mouths and looked coldly and condemningly at you. It
was extraordinary how unanimous the girls were in their dislike of
working under women. The woman in authority was more hateful to women
even than to men. Eleanor had done some work for an advanced woman, an
eminent suffragette, who had crept about the house in rubber-soled
shoes so that she might come unexpectedly into the room where Eleanor
was working and assure herself that she was getting value for her
money!... She was always spying and sneaking round! What an experience
that had been! How impossible it had been to work with that woman! A
girl in the club had worked for a royal princess ... not at all an
advanced woman ... and she, too, had had to seek for employment under a
man. The princess was a foolish, spoilt, utterly incompetent person who
did not know her own mind for two consecutive hours. She sneaked
around, too, and spied!... All these women in authority seemed to spend
half their day peering through keyholes.... Perhaps it was because the
club was such a dingy, cheerless hole that she liked to go out with
John. The food was meagre and poor in quality and vilely cooked.
Somehow, women living together seemed unable to feed themselves
decently. Miss Dilldall, gay little woman of the world, had solemnly
proposed that a man should be hired to _growse_ about the meals.
"We'll never get good food in this damned compound," she said, "until
we get some men into it. Bringing them as guests isn't any good.
They're too polite to their hostesses to say anything, but I'm sure
that every man who has a meal in this place goes away convinced that
the food we are content to eat is a strong argument against votes for
women! And so it is. What a hole!"

"That's really why I like going out with him," Eleanor confided to her
reflection in the looking-glass as she brushed her hair. "It's really
to escape from this dreary club! But I can't marry him for that reason.
It wouldn't be fair to him. It would be much less fair to me. Of
course, I _like_ him!... Oh, no! No, no!..."

IV

Lizzie was in the hall when John let himself into the house that night.

"Hilloa," he said, "not gone to bed yet?"

"I never 'ave time to go to bed," she said. "'Ow can I get any sleep
when I 'ave to look after men! You an' Mr. 'Inde!" She came nearer to
him. "You'll get a bit of a surprise when you go upstairs," she said
very knowingly.

"Me!"

She nodded her head and giggled.

"What sort of a surprise?" he demanded.

"You'll see when you get upstairs. It's been, waitin' for you 'ere
since seven o'clock!..."

"Seven o'clock! What is it? A parcel?"

Lizzie could not control her laughter when he said "parcel." "Ow!" she
giggled. "Ow, dear, ow, dear! A parcel! Ow, yes, it's a parcel all
right! You'll see when you get up!..."

He began to mount the stairs. "You're an awful fool, Lizzie," he said
crossly, leaning over the banisters.

"Losin' your temper, eih?" she replied, bolting the street door.

He hurried up to the sitting-room and as he climbed the flight of
stairs that led directly to it, Hinde called out to him, "Is that you,
Mac?"

"Yes," he answered.

Hinde came to the door and opened it fully. "There's someone here to
see you," he said.

"To see me! At this hour?"

He entered the room as he spoke. His mother was sitting in front of the
fire.

"Mother!" he exclaimed, remembering just in time not to say "Ma!" which
would have sounded very childish in front of Hinde.

"This is a nice hour of the night to be coming home," she said, trying
to speak severely, but she could not maintain the severity in her
voice, for his arms were about her and she was hugging him.

"You never told me you were coming," he said. "What brought you over?"

"I've come to see this girl you've got hold of," she answered.

V

"But why didn't you tell me you were coming?" he asked. "I'd have met
you at the station!"

She ignored his question. "This is a terrible town," she said. "Mr.
Hinde says there's near twice as many people in this place as there is
in the whole of Ireland. How in the earthly world do they manage to get
about their business?"

"Oh, quite easily," he said nonchalantly, and as he spoke he realised
that he had come to be a Londoner.

"When I got out at the station," Mrs. MacDermott continued, "I called a
porter and said to him, 'Just put that bag on your shoulder and carry
it for me!' 'Where to, ma'am?' says he, and then I gave him your
address. I thought the man 'ud drop down dead. 'Is it far?' says I.
'Far!' says he. 'It's miles!' By all I can make out, John, you live as
far from the station as Millreagh is from Ballyards. I had to come here
in one of them things that runs without horses ... what do you call
them?"

"Taxi-cabs!"

"That's the name. It's a demented mad place this. Such traffic! Worse
nor Belfast on the fair-day!"

"It's like that every day, Mrs. MacDermott!" Hinde interjected.

"What bothers me," she went on, "is how ever you get to know your
neighbours!"

"We don't get to know them," Hinde replied. "I've lived in this house
for several years, but I don't know the names of the people on either
side of it!"

"My God," said Mrs. MacDermott, "what sort of people are you at all!
Are you all fell out with each other?"

"No. We're just not interested!"

"I wouldn't live in this place for the wide world," she exclaimed. "And
you," she continued turning to her son, "could come here where you know
nobody from a place where you knew everybody. The world's queer! What
was that water I passed on the way out?..."

"Water!"

"Aye. We went over it on a bridge!"

"Oh, the river!"

"What river!" she said.

"Why, the Thames, of course!"

"Is that what you call it?"

Hinde smiled at John. "So you've learned to call it the river, have
you? Mrs. Hinde, in this town we always talk as if there were only one
river in the world. A Londoner always says he's going up the river or
down the river or on the river. He always speaks of it as the river. He
never speaks of it as the Thames. In Belfast, you speak of the
Lagan ... never of the river. The same in Dublin. They speak of the
Liffey ... never of the river. John's become a Londoner. He knows the
proper way to speak of the Thames!"

"London seems to be full of very conceited and unneighbourly people,"
Mrs. MacDermott said.

John demanded information of his mother. How were Uncle William and Mr.
Cairnduff and the minister and Willie Logan?...

"His wife's got a child," Mrs. MacDermott replied severely.

"A boy or a girl?"

"A boy, and the spit of his father, God help him. Thon lad Logan'll
come to no good. Aggie's courting hard. Some fellow from Belfast that
travels in drapery. She told me to remember her to you!"

"Thank you, mother!"

Hinde rose to leave them. "You'll have a lot to say to each other, and
I'm tired," he explained, as he went off to bed.

"I like that man," said Mrs. MacDermott when he had gone. "And now tell
me about this girl you've got. Are you in earnest?"

"Yes, ma!" John answered, using the word "ma," now that he was alone
with his mother.

"Will she have you?"

"I hope so. She hasn't said definitely yet, but I think she will!"

"Who is she? Moore you said her name was. That's an Irish name!"

"But she's not Irish. She's English. Her father was a clergyman, but
he's dead. So is her mother. She has hardly any friends!"

"Does she keep herself?"

"Yes, ma. She works in a motor-place ... in the office, typing letters.
She's an awful nice girl, ma! I'm just doting on her, so I am!"

"Do you like her better nor that Belfast girl that married the
peeler?..."

"Och, that one," John laughed. "I never think of her now ... never for
a minute. Eleanor's the one I think about!"

"Are you sure of yourself?..."

"As sure as God's in heaven, ma!"

"Oh, yes, we know all about that, but are you sure you're sure? You
were queerly set on that Belfast girl, you know!"

He pledged himself as convincingly as he could to Eleanor, and told his
mother that he could never be happy without her.

"And how do you propose to keep her?" she said, when he had finished.

"Work for her, of course!"

"How much have you earned since you came here?"

"Nothing!"

"And you've no work fornent you?"

"No, not at the minute. I had a job, but I lost it!"

He gave an account of his relationship with the _Daily Sensation._

"You'll not be able to buy much with that amount of work," she
interrupted.

He told her of the sketch for the Creams and of the tragedy of St.
Patrick.

"What's the use of writing about him," she said. "Sure, he's been dead
this long while back!"

He did not attempt to make her understand. "And then there's the novel
I wrote when I was at home," he concluded.

"But you've heard nothing of it yet. As far as I can see you've done
little here that you couldn't have done at home!"

"Oh, yes I have. I've learned a great deal more than I could ever have
learned in Ballyards. And I've met Eleanor!"

"H'm!" she said, rising from her seat. "I'm going to my bed now. That
girl Lizzie seems a good-natured sort of a soul. Where does Eleanor
live?"

"Oh, a long way from here!..."

"Give me her address, will you?"

"Yes, ma, but why?"

"I'm going to see her the morrow!"

He had to explain that Eleanor could not be seen in the day-time
because of her employment, and he proposed that his mother should go
with him in the evening to meet her at the bookstall at Charing Cross
station.

"Very well," she said as she kissed him, "Good-night!"

THE SEVENTH CHAPTER

I

Mrs. MacDermott had remained in London for a week. John, eager to show
the sights to her, had tried to persuade her to stay for a longer
period, but she was obstinate in her determination to return to Ireland
at the end of the week. "I don't like the place," she said; "it's not
neighbourly!" She repeated this objection so frequently that John began
for the first time in his life to understand something of his mother's
point of view. He remembered how she had insisted upon the fact that
the MacDermotts had lived over the shop in Ballyards for several
generations; and now, with her repetition of the statement that London
was an unneighbourly town, he realised that Ballyards in her mind was a
place of kinsmen, that the people of Ballyards were members of one
family. She was horrified when she discovered that Hinde had been
stating the bare truth when he said that he had lived in Miss Squibb's
house for several years, but still was ignorant of the names of his
neighbours. Miss Squibb had told her that people in London made a habit
of taking a house on a three-years' lease. "When it expires, they go
somewhere else," she had said. Miss Squibb had never heard of a family
that had lived in the same house in London for several generations. She
did not think it was a nice idea, that. She liked "chynge" herself, and
was sorry she could not afford to get as much of it as she would like
to have.

"I do not understand the people in this place," Mrs. MacDermott had
complained to Hinde. "They've no feeling for anything. They don't love
their homes!..."

But although she had stayed in London for a week only, she had seen
much of Eleanor Moore in that time. It had not occurred to John, until
the moment his mother and he entered Charing Cross station, that Mrs.
MacDermott and Eleanor might not like each other. He imagined that his
mother must like Eleanor simply because he liked her, but as he held a
swing-door open so that his mother might pass through, a sudden dubiety
took possession of him and he became full of alarm. Supposing they did
not care for each other?... The doubt had hardly time to enter his mind
when it was resolved for him. Eleanor arrived at the bookstall almost
simultaneously with themselves. (It struck him then that Eleanor was a
remarkably punctual girl.) "This is my mother, Eleanor!" he had said,
and stood anxiously by to watch their greeting. The old woman and the
girl regarded each other for a moment, and then Mrs. MacDermott had
taken Eleanor's outstretched hand and had drawn her to her and had
kissed her; and John's dubiety disappeared from his mind. They had
dined together in Soho that night, but Mrs. MacDermott had not enjoyed
the meal. The number of diners and the clatter of dishes and knives and
the foreign look and the foreign language of the waiters disconcerted
her and made her feel as if she were a stranger. Above all else in the
world, Mrs. MacDermott hated to feel like a stranger! She demanded
familiar surroundings and faces, and was unhappy when she found herself
without recognition. The menu made her suspicious of the food because
it was written in French. She distrusted foreigners. London appeared to
be full of all sorts of people from all parts of the world. Never in
her life had she seen so many black men as she had seen in London that
day. John had taken her to St. Paul's Cathedral in the afternoon and
had shown her the place where Queen Victoria returned thanks to
Almighty God for her Diamond Jubilee ... and there, standing on the
very steps of a Christian church, was a Chinaman! There were no
Chinamen in Ballyards, thank God, nor were there any black men either.
She realised, of course, that God had made black men and Chinamen and
every other sort of men, but she wished that they would stay in the
land in which God had put them and would not go trapesing about the
world!...

"What about us, then?" said John. "We don't stay in the one place!"

"I know that," she replied. "That's what's wrong with the world.
Everyone should stay in his own country!"

The dinner had not entirely pleased John. Somehow, in a way that he
could not understand, he found himself being edged out of the
conversation, not altogether, but as a principal. His mother and
Eleanor addressed each other primarily; they only addressed him now and
then and in a way that seemed to indicate that they had suddenly
remembered his presence and were afraid he might feel hurt at being
left out of their talk. He was glad, of course, that his mother and
Eleanor were getting on so well together, but after all he was in
charge of this affair.... When his mother proposed to Eleanor that they
should meet on the following evening and go somewhere for a quiet talk,
he could hardly believe his ears.

"But what about me?" he said.

"Oh, you! You'll do rightly!" his mother replied.

"But!..."

"You can come and bring me home from wherever we go," Mrs. MacDermott
continued.

Eleanor had suggested that Mrs. MacDermott should meet her at the
bookstall and go to her club from which John would fetch her at ten
o'clock.

"That'll do nicely, Eleanor!" Mrs. MacDermott said.

John hardly noticed that his mother had called Eleanor by her Christian
name: it seemed natural that she should do so; but he was vaguely
disturbed by the arrangement that had just been made.

"I wonder what she's up to?" he said to himself as he moodily examined
his mother's face.

He sat back in his chair and listened while Eleanor and his mother
talked together. He was not accustomed to taking a subsidiary part in
discussions and he greatly disliked his present position, but he could
not think of any way of altering it.

"Do you like living in London?" Mrs. MacDermott had suddenly said to
Eleanor.

"No, I hate it," Eleanor vehemently answered.

"Then why do you stay?" Mrs. MacDermott continued.

"I have to. A girl gets better-paid work in London than in the
provinces. That's the only reason!"

"Would you rather live in the country, then?"

"Yes!" Eleanor said.

"I wonder would you like Ballyards!" Mrs. MacDermott said almost as if
she were speaking to herself. Then she began to talk of something else.

II

He had taken his mother to Charing Cross station on the following day,
hoping that they would relent and allow him to go to Eleanor's club
with them, but neither of them made any sign of relenting. His mother,
indeed, turned to him immediately after Eleanor had arrived and said,
"Well, we'll say 'Good-bye' for the present, John. We'll expect you at
ten!" and very sulkily he had departed from them. He saw Eleanor lead
his mother out of the station. She had taken hold of Mrs. MacDermott's
arm and drawn it into hers, and linked thus, they had gone out, but
neither of them had turned to look back at him. He had not known how to
fill in the time between then and ten o'clock ... whether to go to a
theatre or walk about the streets ... and had ended by spinning out his
dinner-time as long as possible, and then walking from Soho to
Eleanor's club. He had arrived there before ten o'clock, but they
allowed him to sit with them!... He had an overwhelming sense of being
_allowed_ to do so. Suddenly and unaccountably all his power had
gone from him, his instinctive insistence upon his own will, his
immediate assumption that what he desired must be acceptable to others
and his complete indifference to whether what he desired was acceptable
or not to others... suddenly and unaccountably these things had gone
from him and he was submitting to the will of his mother and of
Eleanor. His mother's conversation, too, had been displeasing to him.
She talked of Ballyards and of the shop all the time. She talked of the
prosperity of the business and of the respect in which the MacDermotts
were held in their town. Mr. Hinde had told her of the harsh conditions
in which journalists and writers had to work, particularly the
journalists. They had no settled life... they went here, there and
everywhere, but their wives stayed always in the one place... and
sometimes money was not easily obtainable. Anything might happen to put
a journalist out of employment!...

"But I don't want to be a journalist, mother!" John had testily
interrupted. "I want to write books and plays!"

"That's even worse." she had said. "It takes a man years and years
before he can earn a living out of books. Mr. Hinde told me that!..."

"He seems to have told you a fearful lot," John sarcastically
exclaimed.

"I asked him a lot," Mrs. MacDermott replied. "If you ever get that
book of yours printed at all, he says, you'll not get more nor thirty
pounds for it, if you get that much. And there's little hope of you
making your fortune with the tragedy you're wasting your time over.
Now, your Uncle William has a big turnover in the shop!..."

"I daresay he has," John snapped, "but I'm not interested in the shop,
and I am interested in books!"

"Oh, well," Mrs. MacDermott murmured, "It's nice to have work that
takes your fancy, but if you get married I'm thinking your wife'll have
a poor job of it making ends meet on the amount of interest you take in
your work, if that's all the reward you get for it. You were a year
writing that story of yours, and you haven't had a penny-farthing for
it yet. However, you know best what suits you. I suppose it's time we
were thinking about the road!" She rose as she spoke, and Eleanor rose
too. "Come up to my room," Eleanor said, "and we'll get your things!"

They left John sitting in the cheerless room. "That's a queer way for
her to be talking," he said to himself. "Making little of me like
that!"

He maintained a sulky manner towards his mother as they returned to
Brixton, but Mrs. MacDermott paid no heed to him.

"Fancy having to go all this way to see your girl," she said, as they
climbed the steps of Miss Squibb's house. "In Ballyards you'd only have
to go round the corner!"

"I daresay," he replied, "but you wouldn't find Eleanor's match there
if you went!"

"No," she agreed. "Eleanor's a fine girl. I like her queer and well.
She was very interested to hear about Ballyards and the shop. Very
interested!"

She turned to him at the top of the stairs.

"Good-night, son," she said. "I'm away to my bed. I'm tired!"

She put her arms round him. "You're a queer headstrong wee fellow," she
said. "Queer and headstrong! Good-night, son!"

"Good-night, ma!" he replied as he kissed her.

He held her for a moment. "I can't make out what you and Eleanor had to
talk about," he said. "What were you talking about?"

"Oh, nothing!" she replied. "Just about things that interest women. You
wouldn't be bothered with such talk. And you know, son, women likes to
have a wee crack together when there's no men about. It's just a wee
comfort to them. Good-night!"

"Good-night, ma!"

She went up the stairs, and when she had disappeared round the bend of
the bannisters, John went into the sitting-room. There was a postal
packet for him lying on the table. It contained the MS. of his novel.
Messrs. Hatchway and Seldon informed him that they had read his story
with great interest, but they were sorry to have to inform him that
conditions of the publishing trade at present were such that they saw
no hope of a return for the money they would be obliged to spend on the
book. They would esteem it a favour if he would permit them to see
future work of his and they begged to remain his faithfully per pro
Hatchway and Selden, J.P.T.

"Asses!" he said, as he wrapped the MS. up again in the very paper in
which Messrs. Hatchway and Selden had returned it to him. Then he tied
the parcel securely and addressed it to Messrs. Gooden and Knight, who,
he told himself, were much better publishers than Messrs. Hatchway and
Selden. He would post it in the morning.

III

And then a queer thing happened to him. He had been about to extinguish
the light and go to bed, when he remembered that the parcel of MS. was
lying on the table and that his mother would see it in the morning. She
would probably ask questions about it ... and he would have to tell her
that Messrs. Hatchway and Selden had refused to publish it. He seized
the parcel and tucked it under his arm. He would keep it in his room
and post it without saying anything to her about it. He did not wish
her to know that it had been declined. Messrs. Hatchway and Selden had
given a very good excuse for not publishing it--conditions of the
publishing trade--and they had manifested a desire to see other work of
his. That could hardly be said to be a refusal to print the book ... at
all events, it could not be called an ordinary, condemnatory refusal.
No doubt, had the conditions of the publishing trade been easier,
Messrs. Hatchway and Selden would have been extremely pleased to print
the book. It was not their fault that the conditions of the publishing
trade were so difficult!... Anyhow, he did not wish his mother to know
that the book had been refused, even though the conditions of the
publishing trade were so difficult. So he took the MS. up to his
bedroom with him.

IV

He had been enormously relieved when his mother returned to Ireland.
Eleanor and he had seen her off from Euston ... Hinde had come for
a few moments snatched from an important job ... and he had been
very conscious of some understanding between the two women which
was not expressible. It was as if his mother were not his mother,
but Eleanor's mother ... as if he were simply Eleanor's young man
come to say good-bye to Eleanor's mother ... and she were being polite
to him, because Eleanor would like her to be polite to him. He felt
that things were being taken out of his control, that he had ceased
to have charge of things and was now himself being ordered and controlled;
but he could not definitely say what caused him to feel this nor
could he think of any notable incident which would confirm him in his
fear that control had passed out of his hands. All he knew was that
he was glad his mother had resisted his importunities to her to stay
for a longer time in London. This state of uncertainty had not begun
until Mrs. MacDermott suddenly and without warning had arrived at his
lodgings. He hoped that it would end with her departure from Euston.
Eleanor's attitude towards him during the week of his mother's visit had
been very odd. She accepted him now without any qualms, but not, he felt,
as her husband to be, hardly even as her lover. She accepted him, instead,
as one who might become her lover if she could persuade herself to
consent to allow him to do so. Once, in a moment of dreadful humility,
he imagined that she accepted him merely as Mrs. MacDermott's son!...
He had watched the train haul itself out of the station and had waved
his hat to his mother until she was no longer distinguishable, and then
he had turned to Eleanor with a curiously determined look in his eye.

"Are you going to marry me?" he demanded.

"Yes," she said, "I think I will. I like your mother awf'lly, John!..."

"It's me you're going to marry. Not her. Do you like me?"

"Yes, I like you ... though you're frightfully conceited and
selfish!..."

"Selfish! Me? Because I try hard to get what I want?" he indignantly
exclaimed.

"Oh, we won't argue about it. You'll never understand. I don't know
whether I love you or not. But I like you. I like you very much. Of
course, we may be making a mistake. It's foolish of me to marry you
when I know so little about you ... and that little scares me!..."

"What scares you!"

"Your selfishness scares me. You are selfish. You're frightfully
selfish. You think of nothing and no one but yourself!..."

"Amn't I always thinking of you?"

"Oh, yes, but only because you want me to marry you. That's all!"

He was very puzzled by this statement. "What other reason would a man
have for thinking of a woman?" he asked.

"That's just it," she replied. "You can't think of any other reason for
thinking about a woman ... and I can think of a whole lot of reasons.
But I shall marry you in spite of your selfishness because I know
you're as good as I'm likely to get!..."

"That's a queer reason for marrying a man!"

"I suppose it is. You're really rather a dear, John, and I daresay I
shall get to love you quite well ... but I don't now. Why should I? I
haven't known you very long ... and you've rather pestered me, haven't
you?"

"No, I haven't!"

"Yes, you have. But I don't mind that. Being pestered by you is somehow
different from being pestered by other men...."

"Have any other men bothered you?" he interrupted.

They were walking towards Tottenham Court Road as they spoke, and her
arm was securely held in his.

"Of course they have," she answered. "Do you think a girl can walk
about London without some man pestering her. Old men!..." She shuddered
and said "Oh!" in tones of disgust. "Why are old men so beastly?"

"Are they?"

"Oh, yes, of course they are. Beastly old things. I think old men ought
to be killed before they get nasty ... but never mind that. Being
pestered by you is very different from that sort of thing. I know very
well that you won't stop asking me to marry you until I either say I
will or I run away from London altogether and hide myself from you; and
I don't want to do that. So I'll marry you!"

He glanced at her in a wrathful manner.

"Is that what my mother told you to say?" he asked.

"Your mother? She never said anything at all about it!"

John laughed. "I told her about it," he said. "That's what she came
over about. She wanted to have a look at you!"

"Yes, I suppose I ought to have guessed that. I did in a way, but I
didn't know you'd said anything definite about it!"

"I'm always definite," said John.

"Yes. M' yes, I suppose you are!"

They walked down Tottenham Court Road and caught a 'bus going along
Oxford Street.

"You don't seem very pleased now that I've said I'll marry you," she
murmured, as they sat together on the back seat on top of the 'bus.

"I believe you're only marrying me to get away from that club you're
living in!" he replied.

"That's one reason, but it isn't the only reason. I _do_ like you,
John. Really, I do!"

"I want you to love me, love me desperately, the way I love you."

"But you've no right to expect that. Women don't love men for a long
time after men love them ... and sometimes they never love them.
There's a girl in our club ... well, she's not a girl, but she's
unmarried, so, of course we call her a girl ... and she says that most
of us can live fairly happily with quite a number of people. She says
that a person has one supreme love affair ... which may not come to
anything ... and enough liking for about a hundred people to be able to
marry and live happily with anyone of them. I think that's true. I've
known plenty of men that I think I could have married and been happy
enough with. You're one of them!..."

"This is a nice thing to be telling me when my heart's bursting for
you. I tell you, Eleanor, I love you till I don't know what I'm doing
or thinking, and all you tell me is that I'm one out of a hundred and
you like me well enough to put up with me!..."

"You don't want me to tell you that I'm in love with you ... like
that ... when I'm not?"

"No, of course not ... only!..."

"Perhaps you don't want to marry me now!"

He put his arm round her and pressed her so tightly that she gave a
little cry of rebuke. "I love you so much," he said, "that I'm thankful
glad for the least bit of liking you have for me. I wish I'd known
sooner. I'd have told my mother before she went back to Ballyards!"

"I'll write and tell her myself," said Eleanor. "I'd like to tell her
myself!"

V

"I'm going to be married," John said to Hinde that night.

"I thought as much," Hinde replied.

"Why?"

"Well, when a man does one dam-fool thing, he generally follows it up
with another. You lose your job on the _Sensation,_ and then you
get engaged to be married. I daresay your wife'll have a child just
about the time you've spent every ha'penny you possess. I suppose that
was her at the station to-night?" John nodded his head. "Well, you're a
lucky man!"

"Thank you," said John.

"I don't know whether she's a lucky woman or not!"

"_Thank_ you," said John. "If you've no more compliments to pay,
I'll go to my bed!"

"Good-night. Cream's coming back to-morrow. Miss Squibb had a letter
from him this evening!"

But John took no interest in the Creams.

"If I were you, I wouldn't fall out with the Creams," said Hinde. "Now
that you're going to get married, the money he'll pay you for a sketch
will be useful. I suppose you'll begin to be serious when you're
married?"

"I'm serious now," John replied.

"At present, Mac, you're merely bumptious. I was like that when I first
came to London. I had noble ideals, but I very soon discovered that the
other high-minded men were not quite so idealistic as I was. I know one
high-souled fellow who went into a newspaper office and asked to be
allowed to review a novel with the express intention of damning it
because he had some grudge against the author. Half the exalted
scribblers in London are busily employed scratching each other's backs,
and if you aren't in their little gang, you either are not noticed at
all in their papers or you are unfairly judged or very, very faintly
praised. You've either got to be in a gang in London or to be so
immeasurably great or lucky that you can disregard gangs ... otherwise
there's very little likelihood of you getting a foothold in what you
call good papers. I know these papers. Mr. Noblemind is editor of one
paper and Mr. Greatfellow is a regular contributor to another and Mr.
PraisemeandI'llpraiseyou is the literary editor of a third, and they
employ each other; and Mr. Noblemind calls attention to the beauty of
his pals' work in his paper, and they call attention to the beauty of
his in theirs. My dear Mac, if you really want to know what dishonesty
in journalism is, worm yourself into the secrets of the highbrow Press
and the noble poets. I'm a Yellow Journalist and a failure, but by
heaven, I'm an honest Yellow Journalist and an honest failure. I'm not
an indifferent journalist pretending to be a poet!..."

"I don't see what all this has got to do with me," John said.

"No," Hinde replied in a quieter tone. "No, I suppose it hasn't
anything to do with you. You're quite right. I'm in a bad temper
to-night. I'm glad you're engaged to that girl. She looks a sensible
sort of woman. Heard any more about your book?"

"Yes. It's been returned to me!..."

"Oh, my dear chap, I'm very sorry!"

"I've sent it out again. It's sure to be printed by someone," John
said.

"I hope so. I wish you'd let me read it!"

"Yes, I'd like you to read it. I wish I'd kept it back a while. But
you'll see it some day. Good-night!"

"Good-night, Mac!"

VI

The Creams returned to Miss Squibb's on the following evening, and
Cream came to see Hinde and John soon after they arrived. Dolly, he
said, was too tired after her journey to do more than send a friendly
greeting to them.

"I wanted to have a talk to you about that sketch," he said to John.
"It's very good, of course, quite classy, in fact, but it wants
tightening up. Snap! That's what it wants. And a little bit of
vulgarity. Oh, not too much. Of course not. But it doesn't do to
overlook vulgarity, Mac. We've all got a bit of it in us, and
pers'nally, I see no harm in it, _pro_-vided ... _pro-vided_,
mind you ... that it's comic. That's the only excuse for vulgarity ...
that it's comic. Now, the first thing is the title!"

Mr. Cream took the MS. of John's sketch from his pocket and spread
it on the table. "This won't do at all," he said, pointing to the
title-page of the play. "_Love's Tribute!_ My dear old Mac, what the
hell's the good of a title like that? Where's the snap in it? Where's
the attraction, the allurement? Nowhere. A title like that wouldn't
draw twopence into a theatre. _Love's Tribute!_ I ask you!..." His
feelings made him inarticulate and he gazed round the room in a
helpless manner.

"Well, what would you call it?" John demanded.

"Something snappy. I often say a title's half the play. Now, take a
piece like _The Girl Who Lost Her Character_ or _The Man With
Two Wives_ ... there's a bit of snap about that. Titles like those
simply haul 'em into the theatre. _Snap! Go! Ginger!_ Something
that sounds 'ot, but isn't ... that's the stuff to give the British
public. You make 'em think they're going to see something ... well,
_you_ know ... and they'll stand four deep in the snow waiting to
get into the theatre. If you were to put the Book of Genesis on the
stage and call it _The Girl Who Took The Wrong Turning_, people
'ud think they'd seen something they oughtn't to ... and they'd tell
all their friends. Now, how about _The Guilty Woman_ for your
sketch, Mac?"

John looked at him in astonishment. "But the woman in it isn't guilty
of anything," he protested.

"That doesn't matter. The title needn't have anything to do with it.
Very few titles have anything to do with the piece. So long as they're
snappy, that's all you need think about. Pers'nally, I like _The
Guilty Woman_ myself; but Dolly's keen on _The Sinful Woman_.
And that just reminds me, Mac! Here's a tip for you. Always have
_Woman_ in your title if you can. _A Sinful Woman_'ll draw
better than _A Sinful Man_. People seem to expect women to be more
sinful than men when they are sinful ... or p'raps they're more used to
men being sinful than women. I dunno. But it's a fact ... _Woman_
in the title is a bigger draw than _Man_. And you got to think of
these little things. If you want to make a fortune out of a piece, take
my advice and think of a snappy adjective to put in front of
_Woman_ or _Girl!_ Really, you know, play-writing's very
simple, if you only remember a few tips like that!..."

"But my play isn't about sin at all," John protested.

"Well, what's the good of it then?" Cream demanded. "All plays are
about sin of some sort, aren't they? If people aren't breaking a rule
or a commandment, there's no plot, and if there's no plot, there's no
play. Of course, Bernard Shaw and all these chaps, they don't believe
in plots or climaxes or anything, and they turn out pieces that sound
as if they'd wrote the first half in their Oxford days and the second
half when they were blind drunk. You've got to have a plot, Mac, and if
you've got to have a plot, you've got to have sin. What 'ud Hamlet be
without the sin in it? Nothing! Why, there wasn't any drama in the
world 'til Adam and Eve fell! You take it from me, Mac, there'll be no
drama in heaven. Why? Because there'll be no sin there. But there'll be
a hell of a lot in hell! Now, I like _The Guilty Woman_. It's not
quite so bare-faced as _The Sinful Woman_, but as Dolly likes it
better ... she's more intense than I am ... we'll have to have it, I
expect!"

"I don't like either of those titles," John said, gulping as he spoke,
for he felt that there was a difference of view between Cream and him
that could not be overcome.

"Well, think of a better one then," Cream good-naturedly answered.
"There's another thing. As I said, the piece wants overhauling, but you
can leave that to me. When I've had a good go at it!..."

"But!..."

"Now, look here, Mac," Cream firmly proceeded, "you be guided by me.
You're a youngster at the game, and I'm an old hand. I never met a
young author yet that didn't imagine his play had come straight from
the mind of God and mustn't have a word altered. The tip-top chaps
don't think like that. They're always altering and changing their plays
during rehearsal ... and sometimes after they've been produced, too.
Look at Pinero! He's altered the whole end of a play before now. He had
a most unhappy end to _The Profligate_ ... the hero committed
suicide in the last act ... but the public wouldn't have it. They said
they wanted a happy end, and Pinero had the good sense to give it to
them. In my opinion the public was right. The happy end was the right
end for that piece!..."

"But artistically!..." John pleaded.

"Artistically!" Cream exclaimed in mocking tones to Hinde. "I ask you!
Artistically! What's Art? Pleasing people. That's what Art is!"

"Oh, no," John protested. "Pleasing yourself, perhaps!..."

"And aren't you most pleased when you feel that people are pleased with
you, I ask you! What do you publish books for if you only want to
please yourself? Why don't you keep your great thoughts to yourself if
you don't want to please anybody else? Yah-r-r, this Art talk makes me
feel sick. You'd rather sell two thousand copies of a book than two
hundred, wouldn't you? Of course, you would. I've heard these highbrow
chaps talking about the Mob and the Tasteful Few. I acted in a play
once by a fellow who was always bleating about the Tasteful Few ... and
you should have heard the way he went on when his play only drew the
Tasteful Few to see it. If his piece had had a chance of a long run, do
you think he'd have stopped it at the end of a month because he
objected to long runs as demoralizing to Art? Not likely, my lad!...
Now, this piece of yours, Mac, has too much talk in it and not enough
incident, see! You'll have to cut some of it. The talk's good, but in
plays the talk mustn't take the audience off the point, no matter how
good it is. See! You don't want long speeches: you want short ones. The
talk ought to be like a couple of chaps sparring ... only not too much
fancy work. I've seen a lot of boxing in my time. There's boxers that
goes in for what's called pretty work ... nice, neat boxing ... but
the spectators soon begin to yawn over it. What people like to see
is one chap getting a smack on the jaw and the other chap getting a
black eye. And it's the same with everything. Ever seen Cinquevalli
balancing a billiard ball on top of another one? Took him years to learn
that trick, but he'll tell you himself ... he lives round the corner from
here ... that his audiences take more interest in some flashy-looking
thing that's dead easy to do. When he throws a cannon-ball up into the
air and catches it on the back of his neck ... they think that's
wonderful ... but it isn't half so wonderful as balancing one billiard
ball on top of another one. See? So it's no good being subtle before
simple people. They don't understand you, and they just get up and walk
out or give you the bird!..."

"I'm going to tell you something," he continued, as if he had not said
a word before. "I've noticed human nature a good deal, and I think I
know something about it. There was a sketch we did once, called _The
Twiddley Bits_. It was written by the same chap that did _The Girl
Who Gets Left_ ... he had a knack, that chap ... only he took to
drink and died. There was a joke in _The Twiddley Bits_ that went
down everywhere. Here it is. I played the part of a comic footman, and
I had to say to the villain, 'What are you looking at, guv'nor?' and he
replied, 'I'm wondering what on earth that is!' and then he pointed to
my face. That got a laugh to start with. Then I had to say, 'It's my
face. What did you think it was? A sardine tin?' That got a roar.
Brought the house down, that did. We played that piece all over the
world, Mac, and that joke never failed once. Not once. We played it in
England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, America, New Zealand, South Africa
and Australia, and it never missed once. Fetched 'em every time. Human
nature's about the same everywhere, once you get to understand it, Mac,
and if you like you can put that joke in your play. It'll help it out a
bit in the middle!..."

VII

"Well?" said Hinde to John when Cream had left them.

"I'd rather sell happorths of tea and sugar than write the kind of play
he wants," John replied.

Hinde paused for a few moments. Then he said, "Why don't you sell tea
and sugar. You've got a shop, haven't you?"

"Because I'm going to write books," John answered tartly.

"I see," said Hinde.

THE EIGHTH CHAPTER

I

Three months after Mrs. MacDermott departed from London, Eleanor and
John were married. They walked into St. Chad's Church in the Bayswater
Road, accompanied by Mr. Hinde and Mrs. MacDermott (who had come
hurriedly to London again for the ceremony) and Lizzie and a cousin of
Eleanor's who excited John's wrath by using the marriage ceremony for
propaganda purposes in connexion with Women's Suffrage; and there,
prompted by an asthmatic curate, they swore to love and cherish each
other until death did them part. Mrs. MacDermott had begged for a
Presbyterian marriage in Ballyards ... "where your da and me were
married"... but there were difficulties in the way of satisfying her
desire, and she had consented to see them married in what, to her mind,
was an imitation of a Papist church. Eleanor had stipulated for at
least a year's engagement, partly so that they might become more
certain of each other and partly to enable John to prove that he could
earn enough money to maintain a home, but John had worn down her
opposition to an immediate marriage by asserting repeatedly that he
could easily earn money for her, would, in fact, be better able to do
so because of his marriage which would stimulate him to greater
activity, and, finally, by his announcement that his tragedy had been
accepted for production by the Cottenham Repertory Theatre. The manager
had written to him to say that the Reading Committee were of opinion
that his interesting play should be performed, and he enclosed an
agreement which he desired John to sign and return to him at his
convenience. He had not been able to restrain his joy when he received
the letter, and he had hurried to the nearest post office so that he
might telephone the news to Eleanor.

"My dear!" she said proudly over the telephone.

"Didn't I tell you I could do it," he exclaimed. "Didn't I?"

"Yes, darling, you did!"

"Wait till Hinde conies back! This'll be one in the eye for him. He
thought the play was a very ordinary one, but this proves that it
isn't, doesn't it, Eleanor?"

"Yes, dear!"

"It's a well-known theatre, the Cottenham Repertory. One of the best-known
in the world. Can you get off for the day, do you think, and we'll
go out and celebrate it?..."

"Don't be silly, John!..."

"Well, we'll have lunch together. We'll have wine for lunch!... Oh, my
dear, I'm nearly daft with joy. We ought to make enough money out of
the play to set up house at once. I don't know how much you make out of
plays, but you make a great deal. We'll get married at once!..."

"But we can't!..."

"Och, quit, woman! This makes all the difference In the world. Aren't
you just aching for a wee house of your own, the same way that I
am!..."

And after a struggle for time to think, Eleanor had consented to be
married much sooner than she had ever meant to be. They were married in
June, and the play was to be performed at the Cottenham Repertory
Theatre in the following September. The manager had written to John,
after the business preliminaries were settled, to say that if the play
were successful in Cottenham, he would include it in the Company's
repertoire of pieces to be performed in London during their annual
season. "And of course, it'll be successful," said John when he had
read the letter to Eleanor. "I should think we'd easily make several
hundred pounds out of the play ... and there's always the chance that
it may be a popular success!" His high hopes were dashed by the return
of his novel from Messrs. Gooden and Knight who regretted that the
novel was not suitable for publication by them; but he recovered some
of them when he reflected that the fame he would achieve with his play
would cause Messrs. Gooden and Knight to feel exceedingly sorry that
they had not jumped at the chance of publishing his book. Hinde had
read it and thought it was as good as most first novels. "Nothing very
great about it," he said, "but it isn't contemptible!" That seemed very
chilly praise to John, and he was grateful to Eleanor for her
enthusiasm about the book. "Of course, it has faults," she admitted. "I
daresay it has, but then it's your _first book_. You wouldn't be
human if you could write a great book at the first attempt, would you?"

That had consoled him for much, and very hopefully he sent the book on
its third adventure, this time to Mr. Claude Jannissary, who called
himself "The Progressive Publisher."

II

On the night before he was married, John, vaguely nervous, left his
mother at Miss Squibb's and went for a walk. All day, he had been "on
pins and needles," and now, although it was nine o'clock, he could not
remain in the house any longer. He felt that his head would burst if he
stayed indoors. The house seemed to be unusually stuffy, and the
spectacle of Lizzie gazing at him with mawkish interest, made him wish
to rise up and assault her. He had fidgetted about the room, taking a
book from its shelf and then, without reading in it, replacing it,
until his mother, observing him with cautious eyes, proposed that he
should go for a walk. "I won't wait up for you," she said, "so you
needn't hurry back!"

"Very well, ma!" he said, getting ready to go out.

He left the house and started to walk towards Streatham, but before he
had gone very far, he felt drawn away from Streatham, and he turned and
walked past his home and on towards Kennington. At the Horns, he paused
indecisively. There were more light and stir towards the Elephant and
Castle than there was in the Kennington Road, and light and stir were
attractive to him, but to-night he ought to be in quiet places and in
shadows. He was beginning to feel dubious about himself. Marriage,
after all, was a very serious business, but here he was thrusting
himself into it with very little consideration. Eleanor had protested
all along that they were insufficiently acquainted with each other and
had pleaded for a long engagement, but he had overruled her: they knew
each other well enough. The best way for a man and woman to get to know
each other, he said, was to marry. Eleanor had exclaimed against that
doctrine because, she said, if the couple discovered that they did not
care for each other, they could not get free without misery and
possibly disgrace.

"You have to run the risk of that," said John.

That always had been his determining argument: that one must take
risks. Now, on this night before his marriage, the risk he was about to
take alarmed him. The fidgettiness, the nervous irritability which had
been characteristic of him all day now concretely became fright. Who
was this woman he was about to marry? What did he know of her? She was
a pleasant, nice-looking girl and she had an extraordinary power over
him ... but what did he _know_ of her? Nothing. Nothing whatever.
He liked kissing her and holding her in his arms, but he had liked
kissing Maggie Carmichael and holding her in his arms; and now he was
very thankful he had not married Maggie. How was he to know that he
would feel any more for Eleanor in six months' time than he now felt
for Maggie ... for whom he had once felt everything? Eleanor had told
him that she only liked him ... was not in love with him ... that he
was one of a hundred men, anyone of whom she might have married and
lived with in tolerable happiness!...

A cold shiver ran through his body as he thought that he might be about
to make the greatest mistake that any man could make ... marry the
wrong woman. Ought he to postpone the marriage so that Eleanor and he
should have more time in which to consider things? Postponement would
mean terrible inconvenience to everybody, but it would be better to
suffer such inconvenience than to enter into a dismal marriage because
one was reluctant to upset arrangements. This marrying was a terrible
affair!... He walked steadily along the Kennington Road and presently
found himself in Westminster Bridge Road, and then he crossed the river
and turned on to the Embankment. There was a cool breeze blowing from
the sea, and he took his hat off and let the air play about his head.
He leant against the parapet and gazed across the water to the dark
warehouses on the Lambeth side and wondered why they were so beautiful
at night when they were so hideous by day. Even the railway bridge at
Charing Cross seemed to be beautiful in the dusk, and when a train
rumbled across it, sending up clouds of lit smoke from the funnel of
the engine and making flickering lights as the carriages rolled past
the iron bars of the bridge-side, it seemed to him to be a very
wonderful and appealing spectacle. His fidgettiness fell from him as he
contemplated the swift river and the great dark shapes of warehouses
and the black hulks of barges going down to the Pool and the immutable
loveliness of Waterloo Bridge. He had walked along the Embankment past
Hungerford Bridge, and then had stopped to look at Waterloo Bridge for
a few moments. Even the moving lights of the advertisements of tea and
whiskey on the Lambeth side of the river made beauty for him as they
were reflected in the water. There were little crinkled waves of green
and red and gold on the river as the changing lights of the
advertisements ran up and down.... He had seen articles in the
newspapers protesting against these illuminated signs ... "the ugly
symbols of commercialism" ... but to-night they had the look of
loveliness in his eyes. Very often since he had come to London had he
found himself in disagreement with the views of men who wrote as if
Almighty God had committed Beauty to their charge ... he had never been
able to understand or agree with their arguments against great engines
and the instruments of power and energy ... and it seemed to him that
many of these writers were querulous, fractious people who had not the
capacity to make themselves at ease in a striving world. That poet
fellow ... what was his name? ... whom he had met at Hampstead ...
Palfrey, that was the man's name ... had sneered at Commerce! John had
not been able to make head or tail of his arguments against Commerce,
and he had found himself defending it against the Poet ... "the very
word is beautiful!" he had asserted several times ... mainly on his
recollection of his Uncle William. Palfrey had had the best of the
argument, because Palfrey could use his tongue more effectively,
but John had felt certain that the truth was not in Palfrey, and here
to-night, in this place where Commerce was most compactly to be seen, he
knew that there was Beauty in the labours of men, that bargaining and
competition and striving energies and rivalry in skill were elements of
loveliness. "These little poets sitting in their stuffy attics
scribbling about the moon!... Yah-rr-r!" he said, putting his hat on to
his head again.

His mind was quieter now. He was certain of his love for Eleanor. How
wise his mother had been to suggest that he should go out for a walk.
She had guessed, no doubt, that he was ill at ease and full of doubt,
and had sent him forth to find rest in movement and ease in energy. It
was a great comfort to have his mother by him now. That morning he had
looked at her, sitting in the light of the window, and had seen for the
first time the great depth of her eyes and the wonderful patience in
her face.... He must consider her more in future. Eleanor liked her,
and she liked Eleanor. That was all to the good!... He must go home
now. He would walk to Blackfriars Bridge, cross the river and go home
by the Elephant and Castle. He started to walk briskly along the
Embankment, but he had not gone very far on his way when he heard his
name called.

"Oh, John!" the call was, and looking round, he saw Eleanor rising from
one of the garden-seats near the kerb.

"Eleanor!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

She came quickly to him and he took hold of her hands.

"I was frightened," she said, half sobbing as she spoke.

"Frightened!"

"Yes. I lost my nerve this evening and I ... I came out to think. Oh, I
wonder are we wise!..."

He drew her arm in his. "Come home, my dear," he said.

He led her across the road, through the District Railway Station and up
Villiers Street to the Strand, and as they walked along he told her of
his own fears. "You were frightened, too?" she said in astonishment.

"Not frightened," he replied, "only ... well, dubious!"

"Perhaps we'd better wait," she suggested.

"Oh, no, no. I should feel such a fool if I were to tell people we'd
postponed our marriage because we'd both got scared about it!"

"It's better to feel a fool than!..."

"And anyhow I know that it's all right. I feel sure it's all right.
When I walked along the Embankment before I met you, I became certain
that I wanted you, Eleanor, and no one else but you. My dear, I'm
terribly happy!"

"Are you?"

"Yes. Why, of course, I am. How can I be anything else when I shall be
your husband this time to-morrow?"

They walked along Bond Street because they had discovered that Bond
Street, when the shops are shut, is dark and quiet, and once they
stopped and faced each other, and John took her in his arms and kissed
her. "Sweetheart!" he murmured, with his lips against hers.

Then he took her to her club. "What a place for you to be married
from!" he said, as he bade her good-night.

"This is my last night in it," she answered. "I shall never live in a
place where there are only women again!" She paused for a moment, and
then, with a sigh of relief, added, "Thank Goodness!"

III

On the following morning they were married; and in the evening they
went to Ireland for their honeymoon. They were to go to Dublin for a
week, and then up to Ballyards for a fortnight. Eleanor had proposed
that Mrs. MacDermott should cross to Ireland with them, but she shook
her head and smiled. "I'm foolish enough," she said, "but I'm not as
foolish as all that. You'll want to be by yourselves, my dear!"

"I'll see your mother safely off from Euston," Hinde said, "when she
makes up her mind to go!"

They spent the day quietly together until the time came for Eleanor and
John to go to the railway station. Mrs. MacDermott took him out of the
room. "I want to have a wee talk with you," she said in explanation.

"Here," she said, putting an envelope into his hand. "That's a wedding
present for you from me!..."

"But you've given me one already," he interrupted.

"Oh, aye, that was just an ordinary one, but this is the one that
matters. It'll be useful to you sometime!"

He opened the envelope, and inside it were ten notes for ten pounds
each. "Ma!" he said.

"Now, now, never mention it," she exclaimed hurriedly. "What does an
old woman like me want with money when there's two young ones in need
of it. It'll help to keep you going till you're earning!"

He hugged her to show his gratitude. "My son," she said, patting his
back.

"Listen, John," she went on, "while I speak to you!"

"Yes, ma!"

"Don't forget that Eleanor's a young girl with no one to tell her
things. She's very young, and ... and!..." She stumbled over her words.
"You'll be very kind to her, won't you, son?"

"Of course, I will, ma," John replied with no comprehension whatever of
what it was she was trying to say.

Then she let him go back to Eleanor.

They gathered in the hall to make their "Good-byes." There was a
telegram from the Creams to wish them happiness that Eleanor insisted
on taking with her although she had never seen the Creams; and Miss
Squibb mournfully insisted on giving a packet of sandwiches to them to
eat on the journey. She told them that they knew what these trains and
boats were like, and that they would be lucky if they got anything at
all to sustain them during their travels. "Though you probably won't
want to eat nothink when you get on the boat," she added encouragingly.

"Good-bye! Good-bye! Good-bye!"

John went up the hall to Lizzie. "Good-bye, Lizzie!" he said, and then,
"What on earth are you crying for?"

"I dunno," she answered, wiping her eyes. "Just 'appiness, I s'pose.
I'll be doin' it myself some dy. See if I down't. It'd annoy aunt,
anyway!"

They scrambled into the cab and were driven off. They leant back
against the cushions and looked at each other.

"Well, we're married, Eleanor. I always said we would be," John said.

"It's frightfully funny," Eleanor replied. "Isn't it?"

He did not answer. He took her in his arms instead.

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