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and you’ve promised to take in Minnie Beebe because of the diphtheria scare. It simply can’t be done.”

“Nonsense! It can.”

“If Minnie sleeps in the bath. Not otherwise.”

“Minnie can sleep with you.”

“I won’t have her.”

“Then, if you’re so selfish, Mr. Floyd must share a room with Freddy.”

“Miss Bartlett, Miss Bartlett, Miss Bartlett,” moaned Cecil, again laying his hand over his eyes.

“It’s impossible,” repeated Lucy. “I don’t want to make difficulties, but it really isn’t fair on the maids to fill up the house so.”

Alas!

“The truth is, dear, you don’t like Charlotte.”

“No, I don’t. And no more does Cecil. She gets on our nerves. You haven’t seen her lately, and don’t realize how tiresome she can be, though so good. So please, mother, don’t worry us this last summer; but spoil us by not asking her to come.”

“Hear, hear!” said Cecil.

Mrs. Honeychurch, with more gravity than usual, and with more feeling than she usually permitted herself, replied: “This isn’t very kind of you two. You have each other and all these woods to walk in, so full of beautiful things; and poor Charlotte has only the water turned off and plumbers. You are young, dears, and however clever young people are, and however many books they read, they will never guess what it feels like to grow old.”

Cecil crumbled his bread.

“I must say Cousin Charlotte was very kind to me that year I called on my bike,” put in Freddy. “She thanked me for coming till I felt like such a fool, and fussed round no end to get an egg boiled for my tea just right.”

“I know, dear. She is kind to every one, and yet Lucy makes this difficulty when we try to give her some little return.”

But Lucy hardened her heart. It was no good being kind to Miss Bartlett. She had tried herself too often and too recently. One might lay up treasure in heaven by the attempt, but one enriched neither Miss Bartlett nor any one else upon earth. She was reduced to saying: “I can’t help it, mother. I don’t like Charlotte. I admit it’s horrid of me.”

“From your own account, you told her as much.”

“Well, she would leave Florence so stupidly. She flurried–“

The ghosts were returning; they filled Italy, they were even usurping the places she had known as a child. The Sacred Lake would never be the same again, and, on Sunday week, something would even happen to Windy Corner. How would she fight against ghosts? For a moment the visible world faded away, and memories and emotions alone seemed real.

“I suppose Miss Bartlett must come, since she boils eggs so well,” said Cecil, who was in rather a happier frame of mind, thanks to the admirable cooking.

“I didn’t mean the egg was WELL boiled,” corrected Freddy, “because in point of fact she forgot to take it off, and as a matter of fact I don’t care for eggs. I only meant how jolly kind she seemed.”

Cecil frowned again. Oh, these Honeychurches! Eggs, boilers, hydrangeas, maids–of such were their lives compact. “May me and Lucy get down from our chairs?” he asked, with scarcely veiled insolence. “We don’t want no dessert.”

Chapter XIV : How Lucy Faced the External Situation Bravely

0f course Miss Bartlett accepted. And, equally of course, she felt sure that she would prove a nuisance, and begged to be given an inferior spare room–something with no view, anything. Her love to Lucy. And, equally of course, George Emerson could come to tennis on the Sunday week.

Lucy faced the situation bravely, though, like most of us, she only faced the situation that encompassed her. She never gazed inwards. If at times strange images rose from the depths, she put them down to nerves. When Cecil brought the Emersons to Summer Street, it had upset her nerves. Charlotte would burnish up past foolishness, and this might upset her nerves. She was nervous at night. When she talked to George–they met again almost immediately at the Rectory–his voice moved her deeply, and she wished to remain near him. How dreadful if she really wished to remain near him! Of course, the wish was due to nerves, which love to play such perverse tricks upon us. Once she had suffered from “things that came out of nothing and meant she didn’t know what.” Now Cecil had explained psychology to her one wet afternoon, and all the troubles of youth in an unknown world could be dismissed.

It is obvious enough for the reader to conclude, “She loves young Emerson.” A reader in Lucy’s place would not find it obvious. Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice, and we welcome “nerves” or any other shibboleth that will cloak our personal desire. She loved Cecil; George made her nervous; will the reader explain to her that the phrases should have been reversed?

But the external situation–she will face that bravely.

The meeting at the Rectory had passed off well enough. Standing between Mr. Beebe and Cecil, she had made a few temperate allusions to Italy, and George had replied. She was anxious to show that she was not shy, and was glad that he did not seem shy either.

“A nice fellow,” said Mr. Beebe afterwards “He will work off his crudities in time. I rather mistrust young men who slip into life gracefully.”

Lucy said, “He seems in better spirits. He laughs more.”

“Yes,” replied the clergyman. “He is waking up.”

That was all. But, as the week wore on, more of her defences fell, and she entertained an image that had physical beauty. In spite of the clearest directions, Miss Bartlett contrived to bungle her arrival. She was due at the South-Eastern station at Dorking, whither Mrs. Honeychurch drove to meet her. She arrived at the London and Brighton station, and had to hire a cab up. No one was at home except Freddy and his friend, who had to stop their tennis and to entertain her for a solid hour. Cecil and Lucy turned up at four o’clock, and these, with little Minnie Beebe, made a somewhat lugubrious sextette upon the upper lawn for tea.

“I shall never forgive myself,” said Miss Bartlett, who kept on rising from her seat, and had to be begged by the united company to remain. “I have upset everything. Bursting in on young people! But I insist on paying for my cab up. Grant that, at any rate.”

“Our visitors never do such dreadful things,” said Lucy, while her brother, in whose memory the boiled egg had already grown unsubstantial, exclaimed in irritable tones: “Just what I’ve been trying to convince Cousin Charlotte of, Lucy, for the last half hour.”

“I do not feel myself an ordinary visitor,” said Miss Bartlett, and looked at her frayed glove

“All right, if you’d really rather. Five shillings, and I gave a bob to the driver.”

Miss Bartlett looked in her purse. Only sovereigns and pennies. Could any one give her change? Freddy had half a quid and his friend had four half-crowns. Miss Bartlett accepted their moneys and then said: “But who am I to give the sovereign to?”

“Let’s leave it all till mother comes back,” suggested Lucy.

“No, dear; your mother may take quite a long drive now that she is not hampered with me. We all have our little foibles, and mine is the prompt settling of accounts.”

Here Freddy’s friend, Mr. Floyd, made the one remark of his that need be quoted: he offered to toss Freddy for Miss Bartlett’s quid. A solution seemed in sight, and even Cecil, who had been ostentatiously drinking his tea at the view, felt the eternal attraction of Chance, and turned round.

But this did not do, either.

“Please–please–I know I am a sad spoilsport, but it would make me wretched. I should practically be robbing the one who lost.”

“Freddy owes me fifteen shillings,” interposed Cecil. “So it will work out right if you give the pound to me.”

“Fifteen shillings,” said Miss Bartlett dubiously. “How is that, Mr. Vyse?”

“Because, don’t you see, Freddy paid your cab. Give me the pound, and we shall avoid this deplorable gambling.”

Miss Bartlett, who was poor at figures, became bewildered and rendered up the sovereign, amidst the suppressed gurgles of the other youths. For a moment Cecil was happy. He was playing at nonsense among his peers. Then he glanced at Lucy, in whose face petty anxieties had marred the smiles. In January he would rescue his Leonardo from this stupefying twaddle.

“But I don’t see that!” exclaimed Minnie Beebe who had narrowly watched the iniquitous transaction. “I don’t see why Mr. Vyse is to have the quid.”

“Because of the fifteen shillings and the five,” they said solemnly. “Fifteen shillings and five shillings make one pound, you see.”

“But I don’t see–“

They tried to stifle her with cake.

“No, thank you. I’m done. I don’t see why–Freddy, don’t poke me. Miss Honeychurch, your brother’s hurting me. Ow! What about Mr. Floyd’s ten shillings? Ow! No, I don’t see and I never shall see why Miss What’s-her-name shouldn’t pay that bob for the driver.”‘

“I had forgotten the driver,” said Miss Bartlett, reddening. “Thank you, dear, for reminding me. A shilling was it? Can any one give me change for half a crown?”

“I’ll get it,” said the young hostess, rising with decision.

“Cecil, give me that sovereign. No, give me up that sovereign. I’ll get Euphemia to change it, and we’ll start the whole thing again from the beginning.”

“Lucy–Lucy–what a nuisance I am!” protested Miss Bartlett, and followed her across the lawn. Lucy tripped ahead, simulating hilarity. When they were out of earshot Miss Bartlett stopped her wails and said quite briskly: “Have you told him about him yet?”

“No, I haven’t,” replied Lucy, and then could have bitten her tongue for understanding so quickly what her cousin meant. “Let me see–a sovereign’s worth of silver.”

She escaped into the kitchen. Miss Bartlett’s sudden transitions were too uncanny. It sometimes seemed as if she planned every word she spoke or caused to be spoken; as if all this worry about cabs and change had been a ruse to surprise the soul.

“No, I haven’t told Cecil or any one,” she remarked, when she returned. “I promised you I shouldn’t. Here is your money–all shillings, except two half-crowns. Would you count it? You can settle your debt nicely now.”

Miss Bartlett was in the drawing-room, gazing at the photograph of St. John ascending, which had been framed.

“How dreadful!” she murmured, “how more than dreadful, if Mr. Vyse should come to hear of it from some other source.”

“Oh, no, Charlotte,” said the girl, entering the battle. “George Emerson is all right, and what other source is there?”

Miss Bartlett considered. “For instance, the driver. I saw him looking through the bushes at you, remember he had a violet between his teeth.”

Lucy shuddered a little. “We shall get the silly affair on our nerves if we aren’t careful. How could a Florentine cab-driver ever get hold of Cecil?”

“We must think of every possibility.”

“Oh, it’s all right.”

“Or perhaps old Mr. Emerson knows. In fact, he is certain to know.”

“I don’t care if he does. I was grateful to you for your letter, but even if the news does get round, I think I can trust Cecil to laugh at it.”

“To contradict it?”

“No, to laugh at it.” But she knew in her heart that she could not trust him, for he desired her untouched.

“Very well, dear, you know best. Perhaps gentlemen are different to what they were when I was young. Ladies are certainly different.”

“Now, Charlotte!” She struck at her playfully. “You kind, anxious thing. What WOULD you have me do? First you say ‘Don’t tell’; and then you say, ‘Tell’. Which is it to be? Quick!”

Miss Bartlett sighed “I am no match for you in conversation, dearest. I blush when I think how I interfered at Florence, and you so well able to look after yourself, and so much cleverer in all ways than I am. You will never forgive me.”

“Shall we go out, then. They will smash all the china if we don’t.”

For the air rang with the shrieks of Minnie, who was being scalped with a teaspoon.

“Dear, one moment–we may not have this chance for a chat again. Have you seen the young one yet?”

“Yes, I have.”

“What happened?”

“We met at the Rectory.”

“What line is he taking up?”

“No line. He talked about Italy, like any other person. It is really all right. What advantage would he get from being a cad, to put it bluntly? I do wish I could make you see it my way. He really won’t be any nuisance, Charlotte.”

“Once a cad, always a cad. That is my poor opinion.”

Lucy paused. “Cecil said one day–and I thought it so profound–that there are two kinds of cads–the conscious and the subconscious.” She paused again, to be sure of doing justice to Cecil’s profundity. Through the window she saw Cecil himself, turning over the pages of a novel. It was a new one from Smith’s library. Her mother must have returned from the station.

“Once a cad, always a cad,” droned Miss Bartlett.

“What I mean by subconscious is that Emerson lost his head. I fell into all those violets, and he was silly and surprised. I don’t think we ought to blame him very much. It makes such a difference when you see a person with beautiful things behind him unexpectedly. It really does; it makes an enormous difference, and he lost his head: he doesn’t admire me, or any of that nonsense, one straw. Freddy rather likes him, and has asked him up here on Sunday, so you can judge for yourself. He has improved; he doesn’t always look as if he’s going to burst into tears. He is a clerk in the General Manager’s office at one of the big railways–not a porter! and runs down to his father for week-ends. Papa was to do with journalism, but is rheumatic and has retired. There! Now for the garden.” She took hold of her guest by the arm. “Suppose we don’t talk about this silly Italian business any more. We want you to have a nice restful visit at Windy Corner, with no worriting.”

Lucy thought this rather a good speech. The reader may have detected an unfortunate slip in it. Whether Miss Bartlett detected the slip one cannot say, for it is impossible to penetrate into the minds of elderly people. She might have spoken further, but they were interrupted by the entrance of her hostess. Explanations took place, and in the midst of them Lucy escaped, the images throbbing a little more vividly in her brain.

Chapter XV: The Disaster Within

The Sunday after Miss Bartlett’s arrival was a glorious day, like most of the days of that year. In the Weald, autumn approached, breaking up the green monotony of summer, touching the parks with the grey bloom of mist, the beech-trees with russet, the oak-trees with gold. Up on the heights, battalions of black pines witnessed the change, themselves unchangeable. Either country was spanned by a cloudless sky, and in either arose the tinkle of church bells.

The garden of Windy Corners was deserted except for a red book, which lay sunning itself upon the gravel path. From the house came incoherent sounds, as of females preparing for worship. “The men say they won’t go”– “Well, I don’t blame them”– Minnie says, need she go?”– “Tell her, no nonsense”– “Anne! Mary! Hook me behind!”– “Dearest Lucia, may I trespass upon you for a pin?” For Miss Bartlett had announced that she at all events was one for church.

The sun rose higher on its journey, guided, not by Phaethon, but by Apollo, competent, unswerving, divine. Its rays fell on the ladies whenever they advanced towards the bedroom windows; on Mr. Beebe down at Summer Street as he smiled over a letter from Miss Catharine Alan; on George Emerson cleaning his father’s boots; and lastly, to complete the catalogue of memorable things, on the red book mentioned previously. The ladies move, Mr. Beebe moves, George moves, and movement may engender shadow. But this book lies motionless, to be caressed all the morning by the sun and to raise its covers slightly, as though acknowledging the caress.

Presently Lucy steps out of the drawing-room window. Her new cerise dress has been a failure, and makes her look tawdry and wan. At her throat is a garnet brooch, on her finger a ring set with rubies–an engagement ring. Her eyes are bent to the Weald. She frowns a little–not in anger, but as a brave child frowns when he is trying not to cry. In all that expanse no human eye is looking at her, and she may frown unrebuked and measure the spaces that yet survive between Apollo and the western hills.

“Lucy! Lucy! What’s that book? Who’s been taking a book out of the shelf and leaving it about to spoil?”

“It’s only the library book that Cecil’s been reading.”

“But pick it up, and don’t stand idling there like a flamingo.”

Lucy picked up the book and glanced at the title listlessly, Under a Loggia. She no longer read novels herself, devoting all her spare time to solid literature in the hope of catching Cecil up. It was dreadful how little she knew, and even when she thought she knew a thing, like the Italian painters, she found she had forgotten it. Only this morning she had confused Francesco Francia with Piero della Francesca, and Cecil had said, “What! you aren’t forgetting your Italy already?” And this too had lent anxiety to her eyes when she saluted the dear view and the dear garden in the foreground, and above them, scarcely conceivable elsewhere, the dear sun.

“Lucy–have you a sixpence for Minnie and a shilling for yourself?”

She hastened in to her mother, who was rapidly working herself into a Sunday fluster.

“It’s a special collection–I forget what for. I do beg, no vulgar clinking in the plate with halfpennies; see that Minnie has a nice bright sixpence. Where is the child? Minnie! That book’s all warped. (Gracious, how plain you look!) Put it under the Atlas to press. Minnie!”

“Oh, Mrs. Honeychurch–” from the upper regions.

“Minnie, don’t be late. Here comes the horse” –it was always the horse, never the carriage. “Where’s Charlotte? Run up and hurry her. Why is she so long? She had nothing to do. She never brings anything but blouses. Poor Charlotte– How I do detest blouses! Minnie!”

Paganism is infectious–more infectious than diphtheria or piety –and the Rector’s niece was taken to church protesting. As usual, she didn’t see why. Why shouldn’t she sit in the sun with the young men? The young men, who had now appeared, mocked her with ungenerous words. Mrs. Honeychurch defended orthodoxy, and in the midst of the confusion Miss Bartlett, dressed in the very height of the fashion, came strolling down the stairs.

“Dear Marian, I am very sorry, but I have no small change– nothing but sovereigns and half crowns. Could any one give me–“

“Yes, easily. Jump in. Gracious me, how smart you look! What a lovely frock! You put us all to shame.”

“If I did not wear my best rags and tatters now, when should I wear them?” said Miss Bartlett reproachfully. She got into the victoria and placed herself with her back to the horse. The necessary roar ensued, and then they drove off.

“Good-bye! Be good!” called out Cecil.

Lucy bit her lip, for the tone was sneering. On the subject of “church and so on” they had had rather an unsatisfactory conversation. He had said that people ought to overhaul themselves, and she did not want to overhaul herself; she did not know it was done. Honest orthodoxy Cecil respected, but he always assumed that honesty is the result of a spiritual crisis; he could not imagine it as a natural birthright, that might grow heavenward like flowers. All that he said on this subject pained her, though he exuded tolerance from every pore; somehow the Emersons were different.

She saw the Emersons after church. There was a line of carriages down the road, and the Honeychurch vehicle happened to be opposite Cissie Villa. To save time, they walked over the green to it, and found father and son smoking in the garden.

“Introduce me,” said her mother. “Unless the young man considers that he knows me already.”

He probably did; but Lucy ignored the Sacred Lake and introduced them formally. Old Mr. Emerson claimed her with much warmth, and said how glad he was that she was going to be married. She said yes, she was glad too; and then, as Miss Bartlett and Minnie were lingering behind with Mr. Beebe, she turned the conversation to a less disturbing topic, and asked him how he liked his new house.

“Very much,” he replied, but there was a note of offence in his voice; she had never known him offended before. He added: “We find, though, that the Miss Alans were coming, and that we have turned them out. Women mind such a thing. I am very much upset about it.”

“I believe that there was some misunderstanding,” said Mrs. Honeychurch uneasily.

“Our landlord was told that we should be a different type of person,” said George, who seemed disposed to carry the matter further. “He thought we should be artistic. He is disappointed.”

“And I wonder whether we ought to write to the Miss Alans and offer to give it up. What do you think?” He appealed to Lucy.

“Oh, stop now you have come,” said Lucy lightly. She must avoid censuring Cecil. For it was on Cecil that the little episode turned, though his name was never mentioned.

“So George says. He says that the Miss Alans must go to the wall. Yet it does seem so unkind.”

“There is only a certain amount of kindness in the world,” said George, watching the sunlight flash on the panels of the passing carriages.

“Yes!” exclaimed Mrs. Honeychurch. “That’s exactly what I say. Why all this twiddling and twaddling over two Miss Alans?”

“There is a certain amount of kindness, just as there is a certain amount of light,” he continued in measured tones. “We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm–yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”

“Oh, Mr. Emerson, I see you’re clever!”

“Eh–?”

“I see you’re going to be clever. I hope you didn’t go behaving like that to poor Freddy.”

George’s eyes laughed, and Lucy suspected that he and her mother would get on rather well.

“No, I didn’t,” he said. “He behaved that way to me. It is his philosophy. Only he starts life with it; and I have tried the Note of Interrogation first.”

“What DO you mean? No, never mind what you mean. Don’t explain. He looks forward to seeing you this afternoon. Do you play tennis? Do you mind tennis on Sunday–?”

“George mind tennis on Sunday! George, after his education, distinguish between Sunday–“

“Very well, George doesn’t mind tennis on Sunday. No more do I. That’s settled. Mr. Emerson, if you could come with your son we should be so pleased.”

He thanked her, but the walk sounded rather far; he could only potter about in these days.

She turned to George: “And then he wants to give up his house to the Miss Alans.”

“I know,” said George, and put his arm round his father’s neck. The kindness that Mr. Beebe and Lucy had always known to exist in him came out suddenly, like sunlight touching a vast landscape–a touch of the morning sun? She remembered that in all his perversities he had never spoken against affection.

Miss Bartlett approached.

“You know our cousin, Miss Bartlett,” said Mrs. Honeychurch pleasantly. “You met her with my daughter in Florence.”

“Yes, indeed!” said the old man, and made as if he would come out of the garden to meet the lady. Miss Bartlett promptly got into the victoria. Thus entrenched, she emitted a formal bow. It was the pension Bertolini again, the dining-table with the decanters of water and wine. It was the old, old battle of the room with the view.

George did not respond to the bow. Like any boy, he blushed and was ashamed; he knew that the chaperon remembered. He said: “I– I’ll come up to tennis if I can manage it,” and went into the house. Perhaps anything that he did would have pleased Lucy, but his awkwardness went straight to her heart; men were not gods after all, but as human and as clumsy as girls; even men might suffer from unexplained desires, and need help. To one of her upbringing, and of her destination, the weakness of men was a truth unfamiliar, but she had surmised it at Florence, when George threw her photographs into the River Arno.

“George, don’t go,” cried his father, who thought it a great treat for people if his son would talk to them. “George has been in such good spirits today, and I am sure he will end by coming up this afternoon.”

Lucy caught her cousin’s eye. Something in its mute appeal made her reckless. “Yes,” she said, raising her voice, “I do hope he will.” Then she went to the carriage and murmured, “The old man hasn’t been told; I knew it was all right.” Mrs. Honeychurch followed her, and they drove away.

Satisfactory that Mr. Emerson had not been told of the Florence escapade; yet Lucy’s spirits should not have leapt up as if she had sighted the ramparts of heaven. Satisfactory; yet surely she greeted it with disproportionate joy. All the way home the horses’ hoofs sang a tune to her: “He has not told, he has not told.” Her brain expanded the melody: “He has not told his father–to whom he tells all things. It was not an exploit. He did not laugh at me when I had gone.” She raised her hand to her cheek. “He does not love me. No. How terrible if he did! But he has not told. He will not tell.”

She longed to shout the words: “It is all right. It’s a secret between us two for ever. Cecil will never hear.” She was even glad that Miss Bartlett had made her promise secrecy, that last dark evening at Florence, when they had knelt packing in his room. The secret, big or little, was guarded.

Only three English people knew of it in the world. Thus she interpreted her joy. She greeted Cecil with unusual radiance, because she felt so safe. As he helped her out of the carriage, she said:

“The Emersons have been so nice. George Emerson has improved enormously.”

“How are my proteges?” asked Cecil, who took no real interest in them, and had long since forgotten his resolution to bring them to Windy Corner for educational purposes.

“Proteges!” she exclaimed with some warmth. For the only relationship which Cecil conceived was feudal: that of protector and protected. He had no glimpse of the comradeship after which the girl’s soul yearned.

“You shall see for yourself how your proteges are. George Emerson is coming up this afternoon. He is a most interesting man to talk to. Only don’t–” She nearly said, “Don’t protect him.” But the bell was ringing for lunch, and, as often happened, Cecil had paid no great attention to her remarks. Charm, not argument, was to be her forte.

Lunch was a cheerful meal. Generally Lucy was depressed at meals. Some one had to be soothed–either Cecil or Miss Bartlett or a Being not visible to the mortal eye–a Being who whispered to her soul: “It will not last, this cheerfulness. In January you must go to London to entertain the grandchildren of celebrated men.” But to-day she felt she had received a guarantee. Her mother would always sit there, her brother here. The sun, though it had moved a little since the morning, would never be hidden behind the western hills. After luncheon they asked her to play. She had seen Gluck’s Armide that year, and played from memory the music of the enchanted garden–the music to which Renaud approaches, beneath the light of an eternal dawn, the music that never gains, never wanes, but ripples for ever like the tideless seas of fairyland. Such music is not for the piano, and her audience began to get restive, and Cecil, sharing the discontent, called out: “Now play us the other garden–the one in Parsifal.”

She closed the instrument.

“Not very dutiful,” said her mother’s voice.

Fearing that she had offended Cecil, she turned quickly round. There George was. He had crept in without interrupting her.

“Oh, I had no idea!” she exclaimed, getting very red; and then, without a word of greeting, she reopened the piano. Cecil should have the Parsifal, and anything else that he liked.

“Our performer has changed her mind,” said Miss Bartlett, perhaps implying, she will play the music to Mr. Emerson. Lucy did not know what to do nor even what she wanted to do. She played a few bars of the Flower Maidens’ song very badly and then she stopped.

“I vote tennis,” said Freddy, disgusted at the scrappy entertainment.

“Yes, so do I.” Once more she closed the unfortunate piano. “I vote you have a men’s four.”

“All right.”

“Not for me, thank you,” said Cecil. “I will not spoil the set.” He never realized that it may be an act of kindness in a bad player to make up a fourth.

“Oh, come along Cecil. I’m bad, Floyd’s rotten, and so I dare say’s Emerson.”

George corrected him: “I am not bad.”

One looked down one’s nose at this. “Then certainly I won’t play,” said Cecil, while Miss Bartlett, under the impression that she was snubbing George, added: “I agree with you, Mr. Vyse. You had much better not play. Much better not.”

Minnie, rushing in where Cecil feared to tread, announced that she would play. “I shall miss every ball anyway, so what does it matter?” But Sunday intervened and stamped heavily upon the kindly suggestion.

“Then it will have to be Lucy,” said Mrs. Honeychurch; “you must fall back on Lucy. There is no other way out of it. Lucy, go and change your frock.”

Lucy’s Sabbath was generally of this amphibious nature. She kept it without hypocrisy in the morning, and broke it without reluctance in the afternoon. As she changed her frock, she wondered whether Cecil was sneering at her; really she must overhaul herself and settle everything up before she married him.

Mr. Floyd was her partner. She liked music, but how much better tennis seemed. How much better to run about in comfortable clothes than to sit at the piano and feel girt under the arms. Once more music appeared to her the employment of a child. George served, and surprised her by his anxiety to win. She remembered how he had sighed among the tombs at Santa Croce because things wouldn’t fit; how after the death of that obscure Italian he had leant over the parapet by the Arno and said to her: “I shall want to live, I tell you,” He wanted to live now, to win at tennis, to stand for all he was worth in the sun–the sun which had begun to decline and was shining in her eyes; and he did win.

Ah, how beautiful the Weald looked! The hills stood out above its radiance, as Fiesole stands above the Tuscan Plain, and the South Downs, if one chose, were the mountains of Carrara. She might be forgetting her Italy, but she was noticing more things in her England. One could play a new game with the view, and try to find in its innumerable folds some town or village that would do for Florence. Ah, how beautiful the Weald looked!

But now Cecil claimed her. He chanced to be in a lucid critical mood, and would not sympathize with exaltation. He had been rather a nuisance all through the tennis, for the novel that he was reading was so bad that he was obliged to read it aloud to others. He would stroll round the precincts of the court and call out: “I say, listen to this, Lucy. Three split infinitives.”

“Dreadful!” said Lucy, and missed her stroke. When they had finished their set, he still went on reading; there was some murder scene, and really every one must listen to it. Freddy and Mr. Floyd were obliged to hunt for a lost ball in the laurels, but the other two acquiesced.

“The scene is laid in Florence.”

“What fun, Cecil! Read away. Come, Mr. Emerson, sit down after all your energy.” She had “forgiven” George, as she put it, and she made a point of being pleasant to him.

He jumped over the net and sat down at her feet asking: “You–and are you tired?”

“Of course I’m not!”

“Do you mind being beaten?”

She was going to answer, “No,” when it struck her that she did mind, so she answered, “Yes.” She added merrily, “I don’t see you’re such a splendid player, though. The light was behind you, and it was in my eyes.”

“I never said I was.”

“Why, you did!”

“You didn’t attend.”

“You said–oh, don’t go in for accuracy at this house. We all exaggerate, and we get very angry with people who don’t.”

“‘The scene is laid in Florence,'” repeated Cecil, with an upward note.

Lucy recollected herself.

“‘Sunset. Leonora was speeding–‘”

Lucy interrupted. “Leonora? Is Leonora the heroine? Who’s the book by?”

“Joseph Emery Prank. ‘Sunset. Leonora speeding across the square. Pray the saints she might not arrive too late. Sunset–the sunset of Italy. Under Orcagna’s Loggia–the Loggia de’ Lanzi, as we sometimes call it now–‘”

Lucy burst into laughter. “‘Joseph Emery Prank’ indeed! Why it’s Miss Lavish! It’s Miss Lavish’s novel, and she’s publishing it under somebody else’s name.”

“Who may Miss Lavish be?”

“Oh, a dreadful person–Mr. Emerson, you remember Miss Lavish?”

Excited by her pleasant afternoon, she clapped her hands.

George looked up. “Of course I do. I saw her the day I arrived at Summer Street. It was she who told me that you lived here.”

“Weren’t you pleased?” She meant “to see Miss Lavish,” but when he bent down to the grass without replying, it struck her that she could mean something else. She watched his head, which was almost resting against her knee, and she thought that the ears were reddening. “No wonder the novel’s bad,” she added. “I never liked Miss Lavish. But I suppose one ought to read it as one’s met her.”

“All modern books are bad,” said Cecil, who was annoyed at her inattention, and vented his annoyance on literature. “Every one writes for money in these days.”

“Oh, Cecil–!”

“It is so. I will inflict Joseph Emery Prank on you no longer.”

Cecil, this afternoon seemed such a twittering sparrow. The ups and downs in his voice were noticeable, but they did not affect her. She had dwelt amongst melody and movement, and her nerves refused to answer to the clang of his. Leaving him to be annoyed, she gazed at the black head again. She did not want to stroke it, but she saw herself wanting to stroke it; the sensation was curious.

“How do you like this view of ours, Mr. Emerson?”

“I never notice much difference in views.”

“What do you mean?”

“Because they’re all alike. Because all that matters in them is distance and air.”

“H’m!” said Cecil, uncertain whether the remark was striking or not.

“My father”–he looked up at her (and he was a little flushed)– “says that there is only one perfect view–the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.”

“I expect your father has been reading Dante,” said Cecil, fingering the novel, which alone permitted him to lead the conversation.

“He told us another day that views are really crowds–crowds of trees and houses and hills–and are bound to resemble each other, like human crowds–and that the power they have over us is sometimes supernatural, for the same reason.”

Lucy’s lips parted.

“For a crowd is more than the people who make it up. Something gets added to it–no one knows how–just as something has got added to those hills.”

He pointed with his racquet to the South Downs.

“What a splendid idea!” she murmured. “I shall enjoy hearing your father talk again. I’m so sorry he’s not so well.”

“No, he isn’t well.”

“There’s an absurd account of a view in this book,” said Cecil. “Also that men fall into two classes–those who forget views and those who remember them, even in small rooms.”

“Mr. Emerson, have you any brothers or sisters?”

“None. Why?”

“You spoke of ‘us.'”

“My mother, I was meaning.”

Cecil closed the novel with a bang.

“Oh, Cecil–how you made me jump!”

“I will inflict Joseph Emery Prank on you no longer.”

“I can just remember us all three going into the country for the day and seeing as far as Hindhead. It is the first thing that I remember.”

Cecil got up; the man was ill-bred–he hadn’t put on his coat after tennis–he didn’t do. He would have strolled away if Lucy had not stopped him.

“Cecil, do read the thing about the view.”

“Not while Mr. Emerson is here to entertain us.”

“No–read away. I think nothing’s funnier than to hear silly things read out loud. If Mr. Emerson thinks us frivolous, he can go.”

This struck Cecil as subtle, and pleased him. It put their visitor in the position of a prig. Somewhat mollified, he sat down again.

“Mr. Emerson, go and find tennis balls.” She opened the book. Cecil must have his reading and anything else that he liked. But her attention wandered to George’s mother, who–according to Mr. Eager–had been murdered in the sight of God according to her son–had seen as far as Hindhead.

“Am I really to go?” asked George.

“No, of course not really,” she answered.

“Chapter two,” said Cecil, yawning. “Find me chapter two, if it isn’t bothering you.”

Chapter two was found, and she glanced at its opening sentences.

She thought she had gone mad.

“Here–hand me the book.”

She heard her voice saying: “It isn’t worth reading–it’s too silly to read–I never saw such rubbish–it oughtn’t to be allowed to be printed.”

He took the book from her.

“‘Leonora,'” he read, “‘sat pensive and alone. Before her lay the rich champaign of Tuscany, dotted over with many a smiling village. The season was spring.'”

Miss Lavish knew, somehow, and had printed the past in draggled prose, for Cecil to read and for George to hear.

“‘A golden haze,'” he read. He read: “‘Afar off the towers of Florence, while the bank on which she sat was carpeted with violets. All unobserved Antonio stole up behind her–‘”

Lest Cecil should see her face she turned to George and saw his face.

He read: “‘There came from his lips no wordy protestation such as formal lovers use. No eloquence was his, nor did he suffer from the lack of it. He simply enfolded her in his manly arms.'”

“This isn’t the passage I wanted,” he informed them. “there is another much funnier, further on.” He turned over the leaves.

“Should we go in to tea?” said Lucy, whose voice remained steady.

She led the way up the garden, Cecil following her, George last. She thought a disaster was averted. But when they entered the shrubbery it came. The book, as if it had not worked mischief enough, had been forgotten, and Cecil must go back for it; and George, who loved passionately, must blunder against her in the narrow path.

“No–” she gasped, and, for the second time, was kissed by him.

As if no more was possible, he slipped back; Cecil rejoined her; they reached the upper lawn alone.

Chapter XVI: Lying to George

But Lucy had developed since the spring. That is to say, she was now better able to stifle the emotions of which the conventions and the world disapprove. Though the danger was greater, she was not shaken by deep sobs. She said to Cecil, “I am not coming in to tea–tell mother–I must write some letters,” and went up to her room. Then she prepared for action. Love felt and returned, love which our bodies exact and our hearts have transfigured, love which is the most real thing that we shall ever meet, reappeared now as the world’s enemy, and she must stifle it.

She sent for Miss Bartlett.

The contest lay not between love and duty. Perhaps there never is such a contest. It lay between the real and the pretended, and Lucy’s first aim was to defeat herself. As her brain clouded over, as the memory of the views grew dim and the words of the book died away, she returned to her old shibboleth of nerves. She “conquered her breakdown.” Tampering with the truth, she forgot that the truth had ever been. Remembering that she was engaged to Cecil, she compelled herself to confused remembrances of George; he was nothing to her; he never had been anything; he had behaved abominably; she had never encouraged him. The armour of falsehood is subtly wrought out of darkness, and hides a man not only from others, but from his own soul. In a few moments Lucy was equipped for battle.

“Something too awful has happened,” she began, as soon as her cousin arrived. “Do you know anything about Miss Lavish’s novel?”

Miss Bartlett looked surprised, and said that she had not read the book, nor known that it was published; Eleanor was a reticent woman at heart.

“There is a scene in it. The hero and heroine make love. Do you know about that?”

“Dear–?”

“Do you know about it, please?” she repeated. “They are on a hillside, and Florence is in the distance.”

“My good Lucia, I am all at sea. I know nothing about it whatever.”

“There are violets. I cannot believe it is a coincidence. Charlotte, Charlotte, how could you have told her? I have thought before speaking; it must be you.”

“Told her what?” she asked, with growing agitation.

“About that dreadful afternoon in February.”

Miss Bartlett was genuinely moved. “Oh, Lucy, dearest girl–she hasn’t put that in her book?”

Lucy nodded.

“Not so that one could recognize it. Yes.”

“Then never–never–never more shall Eleanor Lavish be a friend of mine.”

“So you did tell?”

“I did just happen–when I had tea with her at Rome–in the course of conversation–“

“But Charlotte–what about the promise you gave me when we were packing? Why did you tell Miss Lavish, when you wouldn’t even let me tell mother?”

“I will never forgive Eleanor. She has betrayed my confidence.”

“Why did you tell her, though? This is a most serious thing.”

Why does any one tell anything? The question is eternal, and it was not surprising that Miss Bartlett should only sigh faintly in response. She had done wrong–she admitted it, she only hoped that she had not done harm; she had told Eleanor in the strictest confidence.

Lucy stamped with irritation.

“Cecil happened to read out the passage aloud to me and to Mr. Emerson; it upset Mr. Emerson and he insulted me again. Behind Cecil’s back. Ugh! Is it possible that men are such brutes? Behind Cecil’s back as we were walking up the garden.”

Miss Bartlett burst into self-accusations and regrets.

“What is to be done now? Can you tell me?”

“Oh, Lucy–I shall never forgive myself, never to my dying day. Fancy if your prospects–“

“I know,” said Lucy, wincing at the word. “I see now why you wanted me to tell Cecil, and what you meant by ‘some other source.’ You knew that you had told Miss Lavish, and that she was not reliable.

It was Miss Bartlett’s turn to wince. “However,” said the girl, despising her cousin’s shiftiness, “What’s done’s done. You have put me in a most awkward position. How am I to get out of it?”

Miss Bartlett could not think. The days of her energy were over. She was a visitor, not a chaperon, and a discredited visitor at that. She stood with clasped hands while the girl worked herself into the necessary rage.

“He must–that man must have such a setting down that he won’t forget. And who’s to give it him? I can’t tell mother now–owing to you. Nor Cecil, Charlotte, owing to you. I am caught up every way. I think I shall go mad. I have no one to help me. That’s why I’ve sent for you. What’s wanted is a man with a whip.”

Miss Bartlett agreed: one wanted a man with a whip.

“Yes–but it’s no good agreeing. What’s to be DONE. We women go maundering on. What DOES a girl do when she comes across a cad?”

“I always said he was a cad, dear. Give me credit for that, at all events. From the very first moment–when he said his father was having a bath.”

“Oh, bother the credit and who’s been right or wrong! We’ve both made a muddle of it. George Emerson is still down the garden there, and is he to be left unpunished, or isn’t he? I want to know.”

Miss Bartlett was absolutely helpless. Her own exposure had unnerved her, and thoughts were colliding painfully in her brain. She moved feebly to the window, and tried to detect the cad’s white flannels among the laurels.

“You were ready enough at the Bertolini when you rushed me off to Rome. Can’t you speak again to him now?”

“Willingly would I move heaven and earth–“

“I want something more definite,” said Lucy contemptuously. “Will you speak to him? It is the least you can do, surely, considering it all happened because you broke your word.”

“Never again shall Eleanor Lavish be a friend of mine.”

Really, Charlotte was outdoing herself.

“Yes or no, please; yes or no.”

“It is the kind of thing that only a gentleman can settle.” George Emerson was coming up the garden with a tennis ball in his hand.

“Very well,” said Lucy, with an angry gesture. “No one will help me. I will speak to him myself.” And immediately she realized that this was what her cousin had intended all along.

“Hullo, Emerson!” called Freddy from below. “Found the lost ball? Good man! Want any tea?” And there was an irruption from the house on to the terrace.

“Oh, Lucy, but that is brave of you! I admire you–“

They had gathered round George, who beckoned, she felt, over the rubbish, the sloppy thoughts, the furtive yearnings that were beginning to cumber her soul. Her anger faded at the sight of him. Ah! The Emersons were fine people in their way. She had to subdue a rush in her blood before saying:

“Freddy has taken him into the dining-room. The others are going down the garden. Come. Let us get this over quickly. Come. I want you in the room, of course.”

“Lucy, do you mind doing it?”

“How can you ask such a ridiculous question?”

“Poor Lucy–” She stretched out her hand. “I seem to bring nothing but misfortune wherever I go.” Lucy nodded. She remembered their last evening at Florence–the packing, the candle, the shadow of Miss Bartlett’s toque on the door. She was not to be trapped by pathos a second time. Eluding her cousin’s caress, she led the way downstairs.

“Try the jam,” Freddy was saying. “The jam’s jolly good.”

George, looking big and dishevelled, was pacing up and down the dining-room. As she entered he stopped, and said:

“No–nothing to eat.”

“You go down to the others,” said Lucy; “Charlotte and I will give Mr. Emerson all he wants. Where’s mother?”

“She’s started on her Sunday writing. She’s in the drawing-room.”

“That’s all right. You go away.”

He went off singing.

Lucy sat down at the table. Miss Bartlett, who was thoroughly frightened, took up a book and pretended to read.

She would not be drawn into an elaborate speech. She just said: “I can’t have it, Mr. Emerson. I cannot even talk to you. Go out of this house, and never come into it again as long as I live here–” flushing as she spoke and pointing to the door. “I hate a row. Go please.”

“What–“

“No discussion.”

“But I can’t–“

She shook her head. “Go, please. I do not want to call in Mr. Vyse.”

“You don’t mean,” he said, absolutely ignoring Miss Bartlett– “you don’t mean that you are going to marry that man?”

The line was unexpected.

She shrugged her shoulders, as if his vulgarity wearied her. “You are merely ridiculous,” she said quietly.

Then his words rose gravely over hers: “You cannot live with Vyse. He’s only for an acquaintance. He is for society and cultivated talk. He should know no one intimately, least of all a woman.”

It was a new light on Cecil’s character.

“Have you ever talked to Vyse without feeling tired?”

“I can scarcely discuss–“

“No, but have you ever? He is the sort who are all right so long as they keep to things–books, pictures–but kill when they come to people. That’s why I’ll speak out through all this muddle even now. It’s shocking enough to lose you in any case, but generally a man must deny himself joy, and I would have held back if your Cecil had been a different person. I would never have let myself go. But I saw him first in the National Gallery, when he winced because my father mispronounced the names of great painters. Then he brings us here, and we find it is to play some silly trick on a kind neighbour. That is the man all over–playing tricks on people, on the most sacred form of life that he can find. Next, I meet you together, and find him protecting and teaching you and your mother to be shocked, when it was for YOU to settle whether you were shocked or no. Cecil all over again. He daren’t let a woman decide. He’s the type who’s kept Europe back for a thousand years. Every moment of his life he’s forming you, telling you what’s charming or amusing or ladylike, telling you what a man thinks womanly; and you, you of all women, listen to his voice instead of to your own. So it was at the Rectory, when I met you both again; so it has been the whole of this afternoon. Therefore –not ‘therefore I kissed you,’ because the book made me do that, and I wish to goodness I had more self-control. I’m not ashamed. I don’t apologize. But it has frightened you, and you may not have noticed that I love you. Or would you have told me to go, and dealt with a tremendous thing so lightly? But therefore– therefore I settled to fight him.”

Lucy thought of a very good remark.

“You say Mr. Vyse wants me to listen to him, Mr. Emerson. Pardon me for suggesting that you have caught the habit.”

And he took the shoddy reproof and touched it into immortality. He said:

“Yes, I have,” and sank down as if suddenly weary. “I’m the same kind of brute at bottom. This desire to govern a woman–it lies very deep, and men and women must fight it together before they shall enter the garden. But I do love you surely in a better way than he does.” He thought. “Yes–really in a better way. I want you to have your own thoughts even when I hold you in my arms,” He stretched them towards her. “Lucy, be quick–there’s no time for us to talk now–come to me as you came in the spring, and afterwards I will be gentle and explain. I have cared for you since that man died. I cannot live without you, ‘No good,’ I thought; ‘she is marrying some one else’; but I meet you again when all the world is glorious water and sun. As you came through the wood I saw that nothing else mattered. I called. I wanted to live and have my chance of joy.”

“And Mr. Vyse?” said Lucy, who kept commendably calm. “Does he not matter? That I love Cecil and shall be his wife shortly? A detail of no importance, I suppose?”

But he stretched his arms over the table towards her.

“May I ask what you intend to gain by this exhibition?”

He said: “It is our last chance. I shall do all that I can.” And as if he had done all else, he turned to Miss Bartlett, who sat like some portent against the skies of the evening. “You wouldn’t stop us this second time if you understood,” he said. “I have been into the dark, and I am going back into it, unless you will try to understand.”

Her long, narrow head drove backwards and forwards, as though demolishing some invisible obstacle. She did not answer.

“It is being young,” he said quietly, picking up his racquet from the floor and preparing to go. “It is being certain that Lucy cares for me really. It is that love and youth matter intellectually.”

In silence the two women watched him. His last remark, they knew, was nonsense, but was he going after it or not? Would not he, the cad, the charlatan, attempt a more dramatic finish? No. He was apparently content. He left them, carefully closing the front door; and when they looked through the hall window, they saw him go up the drive and begin to climb the slopes of withered fern behind the house. Their tongues were loosed, and they burst into stealthy rejoicings.

“Oh, Lucia–come back here–oh, what an awful man!”

Lucy had no reaction–at least, not yet. “Well, he amuses me,” she said. “Either I’m mad, or else he is, and I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. One more fuss through with you, Charlotte. Many thanks. I think, though, that this is the last. My admirer will hardly trouble me again.”

And Miss Bartlett, too, essayed the roguish:

“Well, it isn’t every one who could boast such a conquest, dearest, is it? Oh, one oughtn’t to laugh, really. It might have been very serious. But you were so sensible and brave–so unlike the girls of my day.”

“Let’s go down to them.”

But, once in the open air, she paused. Some emotion–pity, terror, love, but the emotion was strong–seized her, and she was aware of autumn. Summer was ending, and the evening brought her odours of decay, the more pathetic because they were reminiscent of spring. That something or other mattered intellectually? A leaf, violently agitated, danced past her, while other leaves lay motionless. That the earth was hastening to re-enter darkness, and the shadows of those trees over Windy Corner?

“Hullo, Lucy! There’s still light enough for another set, if you two’ll hurry.”

“Mr. Emerson has had to go.”

“What a nuisance! That spoils the four. I say, Cecil, do play, do, there’s a good chap. It’s Floyd’s last day. Do play tennis with us, just this once.”

Cecil’s voice came: “My dear Freddy, I am no athlete. As you well remarked this very morning, ‘There are some chaps who are no good for anything but books’; I plead guilty to being such a chap, and will not inflict myself on you.”

The scales fell from Lucy’s eyes. How had she stood Cecil for a moment? He was absolutely intolerable, and the same evening she broke off her engagement.

Chapter XVII: Lying to Cecil

He was bewildered. He had nothing to say. He was not even angry, but stood, with a glass of whiskey between his hands, trying to think what had led her to such a conclusion.

She had chosen the moment before bed, when, in accordance with their bourgeois habit, she always dispensed drinks to the men. Freddy and Mr. Floyd were sure to retire with their glasses, while Cecil invariably lingered, sipping at his while she locked up the sideboard.

“I am very sorry about it,” she said; “I have carefully thought things over. We are too different. I must ask you to release me, and try to forget that there ever was such a foolish girl.”

It was a suitable speech, but she was more angry than sorry, and her voice showed it.

“Different–how–how–“

“I haven’t had a really good education, for one thing,” she continued, still on her knees by the sideboard. “My Italian trip came too late, and I am forgetting all that I learnt there. I shall never be able to talk to your friends, or behave as a wife of yours should.”

“I don’t understand you. You aren’t like yourself. You’re tired, Lucy.”

“Tired!” she retorted, kindling at once. “That is exactly like you. You always think women don’t mean what they say.”

“Well, you sound tired, as if something has worried you.”

“What if I do? It doesn’t prevent me from realizing the truth. I can’t marry you, and you will thank me for saying so some day.”

“You had that bad headache yesterday–All right”–for she had exclaimed indignantly: “I see it’s much more than headaches. But give me a moment’s time.” He closed his eyes. “You must excuse me if I say stupid things, but my brain has gone to pieces. Part of it lives three minutes back, when I was sure that you loved me, and the other part–I find it difficult–I am likely to say the wrong thing.”

It struck her that he was not behaving so badly, and her irritation increased. She again desired a struggle, not a discussion. To bring on the crisis, she said:

“There are days when one sees clearly, and this is one of them. Things must come to a breaking-point some time, and it happens to be to-day. If you want to know, quite a little thing decided me to speak to you–when you wouldn’t play tennis with Freddy.”

“I never do play tennis,” said Cecil, painfully bewildered; “I never could play. I don’t understand a word you say.”

“You can play well enough to make up a four. I thought it abominably selfish of you.”

“No, I can’t–well, never mind the tennis. Why couldn’t you–couldn’t you have warned me if you felt anything wrong? You talked of our wedding at lunch–at least, you let me talk.”

“I knew you wouldn’t understand,” said Lucy quite crossly. “I might have known there would have been these dreadful explanations. Of course, it isn’t the tennis–that was only the last straw to all I have been feeling for weeks. Surely it was better not to speak until I felt certain.” She developed this position. “Often before I have wondered if I was fitted for your wife–for instance, in London; and are you fitted to be my husband? I don’t think so. You don’t like Freddy, nor my mother. There was always a lot against our engagement, Cecil, but all our relations seemed pleased, and we met so often, and it was no good mentioning it until–well, until all things came to a point. They have to-day. I see clearly. I must speak. That’s all.”

“I cannot think you were right,” said Cecil gently. “I cannot tell why, but though all that you say sounds true, I feel that you are not treating me fairly. It’s all too horrible.”

“What’s the good of a scene?”

“No good. But surely I have a right to hear a little more.”

He put down his glass and opened the window. From where she knelt, jangling her keys, she could see a slit of darkness, and, peering into it, as if it would tell him that “little more,” his long, thoughtful face.

“Don’t open the window; and you’d better draw the curtain, too; Freddy or any one might be outside.” He obeyed. “I really think we had better go to bed, if you don’t mind. I shall only say things that will make me unhappy afterwards. As you say it is all too horrible, and it is no good talking.”

But to Cecil, now that he was about to lose her, she seemed each moment more desirable. He looked at her, instead of through her, for the first time since they were engaged. From a Leonardo she had become a living woman, with mysteries and forces of her own, with qualities that even eluded art. His brain recovered from the shock, and, in a burst of genuine devotion, he cried: “But I love you, and I did think you loved me!”

“I did not,” she said. “I thought I did at first. I am sorry, and ought to have refused you this last time, too.”

He began to walk up and down the room, and she grew more and more vexed at his dignified behaviour. She had counted on his being petty. It would have made things easier for her. By a cruel irony she was drawing out all that was finest in his disposition.

“You don’t love me, evidently. I dare say you are right not to. But it would hurt a little less if I knew why.”

“Because”–a phrase came to her, and she accepted it–“you’re the sort who can’t know any one intimately.”

A horrified look came into his eyes.

“I don’t mean exactly that. But you will question me, though I beg you not to, and I must say something. It is that, more or less. When we were only acquaintances, you let me be myself, but now you’re always protecting me.” Her voice swelled. “I won’t be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult. Can’t I be trusted to face the truth but I must get it second-hand through you? A woman’s place! You despise my mother–I know you do–because she’s conventional and bothers over puddings; but, oh goodness!”–she rose to her feet–“conventional, Cecil, you’re that, for you may understand beautiful things, but you don’t know how to use them; and you wrap yourself up in art and books and music, and would try to wrap up me. I won’t be stifled, not by the most glorious music, for people are more glorious, and you hide them from me. That’s why I break off my engagement. You were all right as long as you kept to things, but when you came to people–” She stopped.

There was a pause. Then Cecil said with great emotion:

“It is true.”

“True on the whole,” she corrected, full of some vague shame.

“True, every word. It is a revelation. It is–I.”

“Anyhow, those are my reasons for not being your wife.”

He repeated: “‘The sort that can know no one intimately.’ It is true. I fell to pieces the very first day we were engaged. I behaved like a cad to Beebe and to your brother. You are even greater than I thought.” She withdrew a step. “I’m not going to worry you. You are far too good to me. I shall never forget your insight; and, dear, I only blame you for this: you might have warned me in the early stages, before you felt you wouldn’t marry me, and so have given me a chance to improve. I have never known you till this evening. I have just used you as a peg for my silly notions of what a woman should be. But this evening you are a different person: new thoughts–even a new voice–“

“What do you mean by a new voice?” she asked, seized with incontrollable anger.

“I mean that a new person seems speaking through you,” said he.

Then she lost her balance. She cried: “If you think I am in love with some one else, you are very much mistaken.”

“Of course I don’t think that. You are not that kind, Lucy.”

“Oh, yes, you do think it. It’s your old idea, the idea that has kept Europe back–I mean the idea that women are always thinking of men. If a girl breaks off her engagement, every one says: ‘Oh, she had some one else in her mind; she hopes to get some one else.’ It’s disgusting, brutal! As if a girl can’t break it off for the sake of freedom.”

He answered reverently: “I may have said that in the past. I shall never say it again. You have taught me better.”

She began to redden, and pretended to examine the windows again. “Of course, there is no question of ‘some one else’ in this, no ‘jilting’ or any such nauseous stupidity. I beg your pardon most humbly if my words suggested that there was. I only meant that there was a force in you that I hadn’t known of up till now.”

“All right, Cecil, that will do. Don’t apologize to me. It was my mistake.”

“It is a question between ideals, yours and mine–pure abstract ideals, and yours are the nobler. I was bound up in the old vicious notions, and all the time you were splendid and new.” His voice broke. “I must actually thank you for what you have done– for showing me what I really am. Solemnly, I thank you for showing me a true woman. Will you shake hands?”

“Of course I will,” said Lucy, twisting up her other hand in the curtains. “Good-night, Cecil. Good-bye. That’s all right. I’m sorry about it. Thank you very much for your gentleness.”

“Let me light your candle, shall I?”

They went into the hall.

“Thank you. Good-night again. God bless you, Lucy!”

“Good-bye, Cecil.”

She watched him steal up-stairs, while the shadows from three banisters passed over her face like the beat of wings. On the landing he paused strong in his renunciation, and gave her a look of memorable beauty. For all his culture, Cecil was an ascetic at heart, and nothing in his love became him like the leaving of it.

She could never marry. In the tumult of her soul, that stood firm. Cecil believed in her; she must some day believe in herself. She must be one of the women whom she had praised so eloquently, who care for liberty and not for men; she must forget that George loved her, that George had been thinking through her and gained her this honourable release, that George had gone away into–what was it?–the darkness.

She put out the lamp.

It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that to feel. She gave up trying to understand herself, and the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy that matters–the enemy within. They have sinned against passion and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, their wit becomes cynicism, their unselfishness hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go. They have sinned against Eros and against Pallas Athene, and not by any heavenly intervention, but by the ordinary course of nature, those allied deities will be avenged.

Lucy entered this army when she pretended to George that she did not love him, and pretended to Cecil that she loved no one. The night received her, as it had received Miss Bartlett thirty years before.

Chapter XVIII: Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and The Servants

Windy Corner lay, not on the summit of the ridge, but a few hundred feet down the southern slope, at the springing of one of the great buttresses that supported the hill. On either side of it was a shallow ravine, filled with ferns and pine-trees, and down the ravine on the left ran the highway into the Weald.

Whenever Mr. Beebe crossed the ridge and caught sight of these noble dispositions of the earth, and, poised in the middle of them, Windy Corner,–he laughed. The situation was so glorious, the house so commonplace, not to say impertinent. The late Mr. Honeychurch had affected the cube, because it gave him the most accommodation for his money, and the only addition made by his widow had been a small turret, shaped like a rhinoceros’ horn, where she could sit in wet weather and watch the carts going up and down the road. So impertinent–and yet the house “did,” for it was the home of people who loved their surroundings honestly. Other houses in the neighborhood had been built by expensive architects, over others their inmates had fidgeted sedulously, yet all these suggested the accidental, the temporary; while Windy Corner seemed as inevitable as an ugliness of Nature’s own creation. One might laugh at the house, but one never shuddered. Mr. Beebe was bicycling over this Monday afternoon with a piece of gossip. He had heard from the Miss Alans. These admirable ladies, since they could not go to Cissie Villa, had changed their plans. They were going to Greece instead.

“Since Florence did my poor sister so much good,” wrote Miss Catharine, “we do not see why we should not try Athens this winter. Of course, Athens is a plunge, and the doctor has ordered her special digestive bread; but, after all, we can take that with us, and it is only getting first into a steamer and then into a train. But is there an English Church?” And the letter went on to say: “I do not expect we shall go any further than Athens, but if you knew of a really comfortable pension at Constantinople, we should be so grateful.”

Lucy would enjoy this letter, and the smile with which Mr. Beebe greeted Windy Corner was partly for her. She would see the fun of it, and some of its beauty, for she must see some beauty. Though she was hopeless about pictures, and though she dressed so unevenly–oh, that cerise frock yesterday at church!–she must see some beauty in life, or she could not play the piano as she did. He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood. This theory, had he known it, had possibly just been illustrated by facts. Ignorant of the events of yesterday he was only riding over to get some tea, to see his niece, and to observe whether Miss Honeychurch saw anything beautiful in the desire of two old ladies to visit Athens.

A carriage was drawn up outside Windy Corner, and just as he caught sight of the house it started, bowled up the drive, and stopped abruptly when it reached the main road. Therefore it must be the horse, who always expected people to walk up the hill in case they tired him. The door opened obediently, and two men emerged, whom Mr. Beebe recognized as Cecil and Freddy. They were an odd couple to go driving; but he saw a trunk beside the coachman’s legs. Cecil, who wore a bowler, must be going away, while Freddy (a cap)–was seeing him to the station. They walked rapidly, taking the short cuts, and reached the summit while the carriage was still pursuing the windings of the road.

They shook hands with the clergyman, but did not speak.

“So you’re off for a minute, Mr. Vyse?” he asked.

Cecil said, “Yes,” while Freddy edged away.

“I was coming to show you this delightful letter from those friends of Miss Honeychurch. He quoted from it. “Isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it romance? most certainly they will go to Constantinople. They are taken in a snare that cannot fail. They will end by going round the world.”

Cecil listened civilly, and said he was sure that Lucy would be amused and interested.

“Isn’t Romance capricious! I never notice it in you young people; you do nothing but play lawn tennis, and say that romance is dead, while the Miss Alans are struggling with all the weapons of propriety against the terrible thing. ‘A really comfortable pension at Constantinople!’ So they call it out of decency, but in their hearts they want a pension with magic windows opening on the foam of perilous seas in fairyland forlorn! No ordinary view will content the Miss Alans. They want the Pension Keats.”

“I’m awfully sorry to interrupt, Mr. Beebe,” said Freddy, “but have you any matches?”

“I have,” said Cecil, and it did not escape Mr. Beebe’s notice that he spoke to the boy more kindly.

“You have never met these Miss Alans, have you, Mr. Vyse?”

“Never.”

“Then you don’t see the wonder of this Greek visit. I haven’t been to Greece myself, and don’t mean to go, and I can’t imagine any of my friends going. It is altogether too big for our little lot. Don’t you think so? Italy is just about as much as we can manage. Italy is heroic, but Greece is godlike or devilish–I am not sure which, and in either case absolutely out of our suburban focus. All right, Freddy–I am not being clever, upon my word I am not–I took the idea from another fellow; and give me those matches when you’ve done with them.” He lit a cigarette, and went on talking to the two young men. “I was saying, if our poor little Cockney lives must have a background, let it be Italian. Big enough in all conscience. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for me. There the contrast is just as much as I can realize. But not the Parthenon, not the frieze of Phidias at any price; and here comes the victoria.”

“You’re quite right,” said Cecil. “Greece is not for our little lot”; and he got in. Freddy followed, nodding to the clergyman, whom he trusted not to be pulling one’s leg, really. And before they had gone a dozen yards he jumped out, and came running back for Vyse’s match-box, which had not been returned. As he took it, he said: “I’m so glad you only talked about books. Cecil’s hard hit. Lucy won’t marry him. If you’d gone on about her, as you did about them, he might have broken down.”

“But when–“

“Late last night. I must go.”

“Perhaps they won’t want me down there.”

“No–go on. Good-bye.”

“Thank goodness!” exclaimed Mr. Beebe to himself, and struck the saddle of his bicycle approvingly, “It was the one foolish thing she ever did. Oh, what a glorious riddance!” And, after a little thought, he negotiated the slope into Windy Corner, light of heart. The house was again as it ought to be–cut off forever from Cecil’s pretentious world.

He would find Miss Minnie down in the garden.

In the drawing-room Lucy was tinkling at a Mozart Sonata. He hesitated a moment, but went down the garden as requested. There he found a mournful company. It was a blustering day, and the wind had taken and broken the dahlias. Mrs. Honeychurch, who looked cross, was tying them up, while Miss Bartlett, unsuitably dressed, impeded her with offers of assistance. At a little distance stood Minnie and the “garden-child,” a minute importation, each holding either end of a long piece of bass.

“Oh, how do you do, Mr. Beebe? Gracious what a mess everything is! Look at my scarlet pompons, and the wind blowing your skirts about, and the ground so hard that not a prop will stick in, and then the carriage having to go out, when I had counted on having Powell, who–give every one their due–does tie up dahlias properly.”

Evidently Mrs. Honeychurch was shattered.

“How do you do?” said Miss Bartlett, with a meaning glance, as though conveying that more than dahlias had been broken off by the autumn gales.

“Here, Lennie, the bass,” cried Mrs. Honeychurch. The garden-child, who did not know what bass was, stood rooted to the path with horror. Minnie slipped to her uncle and whispered that every one was very disagreeable to-day, and that it was not her fault if dahlia-strings would tear longways instead of across.

“Come for a walk with me,” he told her. “You have worried them as much as they can stand. Mrs. Honeychurch, I only called in aimlessly. I shall take her up to tea at the Beehive Tavern, if I may.”

“Oh, must you? Yes do.–Not the scissors, thank you, Charlotte, when both my hands are full already–I’m perfectly certain that the orange cactus will go before I can get to it.”

Mr. Beebe, who was an adept at relieving situations, invited Miss Bartlett to accompany them to this mild festivity.

“Yes, Charlotte, I don’t want you–do go; there’s nothing to stop about for, either in the house or out of it.”

Miss Bartlett said that her duty lay in the dahlia bed, but when she had exasperated every one, except Minnie, by a refusal, she turned round and exasperated Minnie by an acceptance. As they walked up the garden, the orange cactus fell, and Mr. Beebe’s last vision was of the garden-child clasping it like a lover, his dark head buried in a wealth of blossom.

“It is terrible, this havoc among the flowers,” he remarked.

“It is always terrible when the promise of months is destroyed in a moment,” enunciated Miss Bartlett.

“Perhaps we ought to send Miss Honeychurch down to her mother. Or will she come with us?”

“I think we had better leave Lucy to herself, and to her own pursuits.”

“They’re angry with Miss Honeychurch because she was late for breakfast,” whispered Minnie, “and Floyd has gone, and Mr. Vyse has gone, and Freddy won’t play with me. In fact, Uncle Arthur, the house is not AT ALL what it was yesterday.”

“Don’t be a prig,” said her Uncle Arthur. “Go and put on your boots.”

He stepped into the drawing-room, where Lucy was still attentively pursuing the Sonatas of Mozart. She stopped when he entered.

“How do you do? Miss Bartlett and Minnie are coming with me to tea at the Beehive. Would you come too?”

“I don’t think I will, thank you.”

“No, I didn’t suppose you would care to much.”

Lucy turned to the piano and struck a few chords.

“How delicate those Sonatas are!” said Mr. Beebe, though at the bottom of his heart, he thought them silly little things.

Lucy passed into Schumann.

“Miss Honeychurch!”

“Yes.”

“I met them on the hill. Your brother told me.”

“Oh he did?” She sounded annoyed. Mr. Beebe felt hurt, for he had thought that she would like him to be told.

“I needn’t say that it will go no further.”

“Mother, Charlotte, Cecil, Freddy, you,” said Lucy, playing a note for each person who knew, and then playing a sixth note.

“If you’ll let me say so, I am very glad, and I am certain that you have done the right thing.”

“So I hoped other people would think, but they don’t seem to.”

“I could see that Miss Bartlett thought it unwise.”

“So does mother. Mother minds dreadfully.”

“I am very sorry for that,” said Mr. Beebe with feeling.

Mrs. Honeychurch, who hated all changes, did mind, but not nearly as much as her daughter pretended, and only for the minute. It was really a ruse of Lucy’s to justify her despondency–a ruse of which she was not herself conscious, for she was marching in the armies of darkness.

“And Freddy minds.”

“Still, Freddy never hit it off with Vyse much, did he? I gathered that he disliked the engagement, and felt it might separate him from you.”

“Boys are so odd.”

Minnie could be heard arguing with Miss Bartlett through the floor. Tea at the Beehive apparently involved a complete change of apparel. Mr. Beebe saw that Lucy–very properly–did not wish to discuss her action, so after a sincere expression of sympathy, he said, “I have had an absurd letter from Miss Alan. That was really what brought me over. I thought it might amuse you all.”

“How delightful!” said Lucy, in a dull voice.

For the sake of something to do, he began to read her the letter. After a few words her eyes grew alert, and soon she interrupted him with “Going abroad? When do they start?”

“Next week, I gather.”

“Did Freddy say whether he was driving straight back?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Because I do hope he won’t go gossiping.”

So she did want to talk about her broken engagement. Always complaisant, he put the letter away. But she, at once exclaimed in a high voice, “Oh, do tell me more about the Miss Alans! How perfectly splendid of them to go abroad!”

“I want them to start from Venice, and go in a cargo steamer down the Illyrian coast!”

She laughed heartily. “Oh, delightful! I wish they’d take me.”

“Has Italy filled you with the fever of travel? Perhaps George Emerson is right. He says that ‘Italy is only an euphuism for Fate.'”

“Oh, not Italy, but Constantinople. I have always longed to go to Constantinople. Constantinople is practically Asia, isn’t it?”

Mr. Beebe reminded her that Constantinople was still unlikely, and that the Miss Alans only aimed at Athens, “with Delphi, perhaps, if the roads are safe.” But this made no difference to her enthusiasm. She had always longed to go to Greece even more, it seemed. He saw, to his surprise, that she was apparently serious.

“I didn’t realize that you and the Miss Alans were still such friends, after Cissie Villa.”

“Oh, that’s nothing; I assure you Cissie Villa’s nothing to me; I would give anything to go with them.”

“Would your mother spare you again so soon? You have scarcely been home three months.”

“She MUST spare me!” cried Lucy, in growing excitement. “I simply MUST go away. I have to.” She ran her fingers hysterically through her hair. “Don’t you see that I HAVE to go away? I didn’t realize at the time–and of course I want to see Constantinople so particularly.”

“You mean that since you have broken off your engagement you feel–“

“Yes, yes. I knew you’d understand.”

Mr. Beebe did not quite understand. Why could not Miss Honeychurch repose in the bosom of her family? Cecil had evidently taken up the dignified line, and was not going to annoy her. Then it struck him that her family itself might be annoying. He hinted this to her, and she accepted the hint eagerly.

“Yes, of course; to go to Constantinople until they are used to the idea and everything has calmed down.”

“I am afraid it has been a bothersome business,” he said gently.

“No, not at all. Cecil was very kind indeed; only–I had better tell you the whole truth, since you have heard a little–it was that he is so masterful. I found that he wouldn’t let me go my own way. He would improve me in places where I can’t be improved. Cecil won’t let a woman decide for herself–in fact, he daren’t. What nonsense I do talk! but that is the kind of thing.”

“It is what I gathered from my own observation of Mr. Vyse; it is what I gather from all that I have known of you. I do sympathize and agree most profoundly. I agree so much that you must let me make one little criticism: Is it worth while rushing off to Greece?”

“But I must go somewhere!” she cried. “I have been worrying all the morning, and here comes the very thing.” She struck her knees with clenched fists, and repeated: “I must! And the time I shall have with mother, and all the money she spent on me last spring. You all think much too highly of me. I wish you weren’t so kind.” At this moment Miss Bartlett entered, and her nervousness increased. “I must get away, ever so far. I must know my own mind and where I want to go.”

“Come along; tea, tea, tea,” said Mr. Beebe, and bustled his guests out of the front-door. He hustled them so quickly that he forgot his hat. When he returned for it he heard, to his relief and surprise, the tinkling of a Mozart Sonata.

“She is playing again,” he said to Miss Bartlett.

“Lucy can always play,” was the acid reply.

“One is very thankful that she has such a resource. She is evidently much worried, as, of course, she ought to be. I know all about it. The marriage was so near that it must have been a hard struggle before she could wind herself up to speak.”

Miss Bartlett gave a kind of wriggle, and he prepared for a discussion. He had never fathomed Miss Bartlett. As he had put it to himself at Florence, “she might yet reveal depths of strangeness, if not of meaning.” But she was so unsympathetic that she must be reliable. He assumed that much, and he had no hesitation in discussing Lucy with her. Minnie was fortunately collecting ferns.

She opened the discussion with: “We had much better let the matter drop.”

“I wonder.”

“It is of the highest importance that there should be no gossip in Summer Street. It would be DEATH to gossip about Mr. Vyse’s dismissal at the present moment.”

Mr. Beebe raised his eyebrows. Death is a strong word–surely too strong. There was no question of tragedy. He said: “Of course, Miss Honeychurch will make the fact public in her own way, and when she chooses. Freddy only told me because he knew she would not mind.”

“I know,” said Miss Bartlett civilly. “Yet Freddy ought not to have told even you. One cannot be too careful.”

“Quite so.”

“I do implore absolute secrecy. A chance word to a chattering friend, and–“

“Exactly.” He was used to these nervous old maids and to the exaggerated importance that they attach to words. A rector lives in a web of petty secrets, and confidences and warnings, and the wiser he is the less he will regard them. He will change the subject, as did Mr. Beebe, saying cheerfully: “Have you heard from any Bertolini people lately? I believe you keep up with Miss Lavish. It is odd how we of that pension, who seemed such a fortuitous collection, have been working into one another’s lives. Two, three, four, six of us–no, eight; I had forgotten the Emersons–have kept more or less in touch. We must really give the Signora a testimonial.”

And, Miss Bartlett not favouring the scheme, they walked up the hill in a silence which was only broken by the rector naming some fern. On the summit they paused. The sky had grown wilder since he stood there last hour, giving to the land a tragic greatness that is rare in Surrey. Grey clouds were charging across tissues of white, which stretched and shredded and tore slowly, until through their final layers there gleamed a hint of the disappearing blue. Summer was retreating. The wind roared, the trees groaned, yet the noise seemed insufficient for those vast operations in heaven. The weather was breaking up, breaking, broken, and it is a sense of the fit rather than of the supernatural that equips such crises with the salvos of angelic artillery. Mr. Beebe’s eyes rested on Windy Corner, where Lucy