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Part II


When a girl first sits opposite the man she has married, of what does she think? Not of the issues and emotions that lie in wait. They are too overwhelming; she would avoid them while she can. Gyp thought of her frock, a mushroom-coloured velvet cord. Not many girls of her class are married without “fal-lals,” as Winton had called them. Not many girls sit in the corner of their reserved first-class compartments without the excitement of having been supreme centre of the world for some flattering hours to buoy them up on that train journey, with no memories of friends’ behaviour, speech, appearance, to chat of with her husband, so as to keep thought away. For Gyp, her dress, first worn that day, Betty’s breakdown, the faces, blank as hats, of the registrar and clerk, were about all she had to distract her. She stole a look at her husband, clothed in blue serge, just opposite. Her husband! Mrs. Gustav Fiorsen! No! People might call her that; to herself, she was Ghita Winton. Ghita Fiorsen would never seem right. And, not confessing that she was afraid to meet his eyes, but afraid all the same, she looked out of the window. A dull, bleak, dismal day; no warmth, no sun, no music in it–the Thames as grey as lead, the willows on its banks forlorn.

Suddenly she felt his hand on hers. She had not seen his face like that before–yes; once or twice when he was playing–a spirit shining though. She felt suddenly secure. If it stayed like that, then!–His hand rested on her knee; his face changed just a little; the spirit seemed to waver, to be fading; his lips grew fuller. He crossed over and sat beside her. Instantly she began to talk about their house, where they were going to put certain things–presents and all that. He, too, talked of the house; but every now and then he glanced at the corridor, and muttered. It was pleasant to feel that the thought of her possessed him through and through, but she was tremulously glad of that corridor. Life is mercifully made up of little things! And Gyp was always able to live in the moment. In the hours they had spent together, up to now, he had been like a starved man snatching hasty meals; now that he had her to himself for good, he was another creature altogether–like a boy out of school, and kept her laughing nearly all the time.

Presently he got down his practise violin, and putting on the mute, played, looking at her over his shoulder with a droll smile. She felt happy, much warmer at heart, now. And when his face was turned away, she looked at him. He was so much better looking now than when he had those little whiskers. One day she had touched one of them and said: “Ah! if only these wings could fly!” Next morning they had flown. His face was not one to be easily got used to; she was not used to it yet, any more than she was used to his touch. When it grew dark, and he wanted to draw down the blinds, she caught him by the sleeve, and said:

“No, no; they’ll know we’re honeymooners!”

“Well, my Gyp, and are we not?”

But he obeyed; only, as the hours went on, his eyes seemed never to let her alone.

At Torquay, the sky was clear and starry; the wind brought whiffs of sea-scent into their cab; lights winked far out on a headland; and in the little harbour, all bluish dark, many little boats floated like tame birds. He had put his arm round her, and she could feel his hand resting on her heart. She was grateful that he kept so still. When the cab stopped and they entered the hall of the hotel, she whispered:

“Don’t let’s let them see!”

Still, mercifully, little things! Inspecting the three rooms, getting the luggage divided between dressing-room and bedroom, unpacking, wondering which dress to put on for dinner, stopping to look out over the dark rocks and the sea, where the moon was coming up, wondering if she dared lock the door while she was dressing, deciding that it would be silly; dressing so quickly, fluttering when she found him suddenly there close behind her, beginning to do up her hooks. Those fingers were too skilful! It was the first time she had thought of his past with a sort of hurt pride and fastidiousness. When he had finished, he twisted her round, held her away, looked at her from head to foot, and said below his breath:


Her heart beat fast then; but suddenly he laughed, slipped his arm about her, and danced her twice round the room. He let her go demurely down the stairs in front of him, saying:

“They shan’t see–my Gyp. Oh, they shan’t see! We are old married people, tired of each other–very!”

At dinner it amused him at first–her too, a little–to keep up this farce of indifference. But every now and then he turned and stared at some inoffensive visitor who was taking interest in them, with such fierce and genuine contempt that Gyp took alarm; whereon he laughed. When she had drunk a little wine and he had drunk a good deal, the farce of indifference came to its end. He talked at a great rate now, slying nicknaming the waiters and mimicking the people around–happy thrusts that made her smile but shiver a little, lest they should be heard or seen. Their heads were close together across the little table. They went out into the lounge. Coffee came, and he wanted her to smoke with him. She had never smoked in a public room. But it seemed stiff and “missish” to refuse–she must do now as his world did. And it was another little thing; she wanted little things, all the time wanted them. She drew back a window-curtain, and they stood there side by side. The sea was deep blue beneath bright stars, and the moon shone through a ragged pine-tree on a little headland. Though she stood five feet six in her shoes, she was only up to his mouth. He sighed and said: “Beautiful night, my Gyp!” And suddenly it struck her that she knew nothing of what was in him, and yet he was her husband! “Husband”–funny word, not pretty! She felt as a child opening the door of a dark room, and, clutching his arm, said:

“Look! There’s a sailing-boat. What’s it doing out there at night?” Another little thing! Any little thing!

Presently he said:

“Come up-stairs! I’ll play to you.”

Up in their sitting-room was a piano, but–not possible; to-morrow they would have to get another. To-morrow! The fire was hot, and he took off his coat to play. In one of his shirt-sleeves there was a rent. She thought, with a sort of triumph: ‘I shall mend that!’ It was something definite, actual–a little thing. There were lilies in the room that gave a strong, sweet scent. He brought them up to her to sniff, and, while she was sniffing, stooped suddenly and kissed her neck. She shut her eyes with a shiver. He took the flowers away at once, and when she opened her eyes again, his violin was at his shoulder. For a whole hour he played, and Gyp, in her cream-coloured frock, lay back, listening. She was tired, not sleepy. It would have been nice to have been sleepy. Her mouth had its little sad tuck or dimple at the corner; her eyes were deep and dark–a cloudy child. His gaze never left her face; he played and played, and his own fitful face grew clouded. At last he put away the violin, and said:

“Go to bed, Gyp; you’re tired.”

Obediently she got up and went into the bedroom. With a sick feeling in her heart, and as near the fire as she could get, she undressed with desperate haste, and got to bed. An age–it seemed– she lay there shivering in her flimsy lawn against the cold sheets, her eyes not quite closed, watching the flicker of the firelight. She did not think–could not–just lay stiller than the dead. The door creaked. She shut her eyes. Had she a heart at all? It did not seem to beat. She lay thus, with eyes shut, till she could bear it no longer. By the firelight she saw him crouching at the foot of the bed; could just see his face–like a face–a face–where seen? Ah yes!–a picture–of a wild man crouching at the feet of Iphigenia–so humble, so hungry–so lost in gazing. She gave a little smothered sob and held out her hand.


Gyp was too proud to give by halves. And in those early days she gave Fiorsen everything except–her heart. She earnestly desired to give that too; but hearts only give themselves. Perhaps if the wild man in him, maddened by beauty in its power, had not so ousted the spirit man, her heart might have gone with her lips and the rest of her. He knew he was not getting her heart, and it made him, in the wildness of his nature and the perversity of a man, go just the wrong way to work, trying to conquer her by the senses, not the soul.

Yet she was not unhappy–it cannot be said she was unhappy, except for a sort of lost feeling sometimes, as if she were trying to grasp something that kept slipping, slipping away. She was glad to give him pleasure. She felt no repulsion–this was man’s nature. Only there was always that feeling that she was not close. When he was playing, with the spirit-look on his face, she would feel: ‘Now, now, surely I shall get close to him!’ But the look would go; how to keep it there she did not know, and when it went, her feeling went too.

Their little suite of rooms was at the very end of the hotel, so that he might play as much as he wished. While he practised in the mornings she would go into the garden, which sloped in rock- terraces down to the sea. Wrapped in fur, she would sit there with a book. She soon knew each evergreen, or flower that was coming out–aubretia, and laurustinus, a little white flower whose name was uncertain, and one star-periwinkle. The air was often soft; the birds sang already and were busy with their weddings, and twice, at least, spring came in her heart–that wonderful feeling when first the whole being scents new life preparing in the earth and the wind–the feeling that only comes when spring is not yet, and one aches and rejoices all at once. Seagulls often came over her, craning down their greedy bills and uttering cries like a kitten’s mewing.

Out here she had feelings, that she did not get with him, of being at one with everything. She did not realize how tremendously she had grown up in these few days, how the ground bass had already come into the light music of her life. Living with Fiorsen was opening her eyes to much beside mere knowledge of “man’s nature”; with her perhaps fatal receptivity, she was already soaking up the atmosphere of his philosophy. He was always in revolt against accepting things because he was expected to; but, like most executant artists, he was no reasoner, just a mere instinctive kicker against the pricks. He would lose himself in delight with a sunset, a scent, a tune, a new caress, in a rush of pity for a beggar or a blind man, a rush of aversion from a man with large feet or a long nose, of hatred for a woman with a flat chest or an expression of sanctimony. He would swing along when he was walking, or dawdle, dawdle; he would sing and laugh, and make her laugh too till she ached, and half an hour later would sit staring into some pit of darkness in a sort of powerful brooding of his whole being. Insensibly she shared in this deep drinking of sensation, but always gracefully, fastidiously, never losing sense of other people’s feelings.

In his love-raptures, he just avoided setting her nerves on edge, because he never failed to make her feel his enjoyment of her beauty; that perpetual consciousness, too, of not belonging to the proper and respectable, which she had tried to explain to her father, made her set her teeth against feeling shocked. But in other ways he did shock her. She could not get used to his utter oblivion of people’s feelings, to the ferocious contempt with which he would look at those who got on his nerves, and make half-audible comments, just as he had commented on her own father when he and Count Rosek passed them, by the Schiller statue. She would visibly shrink at those remarks, though they were sometimes so excruciatingly funny that she had to laugh, and feel dreadful immediately after. She saw that he resented her shrinking; it seemed to excite him to run amuck the more. But she could not help it. Once she got up and walked away. He followed her, sat on the floor beside her knees, and thrust his head, like a great cat, under her hand.

“Forgive me, my Gyp; but they are such brutes. Who could help it? Now tell me–who could, except my Gyp?” And she had to forgive him. But, one evening, when he had been really outrageous during dinner, she answered:

“No; I can’t. It’s you that are the brute. You WERE a brute to them!”

He leaped up with a face of furious gloom and went out of the room. It was the first time he had given way to anger with her. Gyp sat by the fire, very disturbed; chiefly because she was not really upset at having hurt him. Surely she ought to be feeling miserable at that!

But when, at ten o’clock, he had not come back, she began to flutter in earnest. She had said a dreadful thing! And yet, in her heart, she did not take back her judgment. He really HAD been a brute. She would have liked to soothe herself by playing, but it was too late to disturb people, and going to the window, she looked out over the sea, feeling beaten and confused. This was the first time she had given free rein to her feeling against what Winton would have called his “bounderism.” If he had been English, she would never have been attracted by one who could trample so on other people’s feelings. What, then, had attracted her? His strangeness, wildness, the mesmeric pull of his passion for her, his music! Nothing could spoil that in him. The sweep, the surge, and sigh in his playing was like the sea out there, dark, and surf- edged, beating on the rocks; or the sea deep-coloured in daylight, with white gulls over it; or the sea with those sinuous paths made by the wandering currents, the subtle, smiling, silent sea, holding in suspense its unfathomable restlessness, waiting to surge and spring again. That was what she wanted from him–not his embraces, not even his adoration, his wit, or his queer, lithe comeliness touched with felinity; no, only that in his soul which escaped through his fingers into the air and dragged at her soul. If, when he came in, she were to run to him, throw her arms round his neck, make herself feel close, lose herself in him! Why not? It was her duty; why not her delight, too? But she shivered. Some instinct too deep for analysis, something in the very heart of her nerves made her recoil, as if she were afraid, literally scared of letting herself go, of loving–the subtlest instinct of self-preservation against something fatal; against being led on beyond–yes, it was like that curious, instinctive sinking which some feel at the mere sight of a precipice, a dread of going near, lest they should be drawn on and over by resistless attraction.

She passed into their bedroom and began slowly to undress. To go to bed without knowing where he was, what doing, thinking, seemed already a little odd; and she sat brushing her hair slowly with the silver-backed brushes, staring at her own pale face, whose eyes looked so very large and dark. At last there came to her the feeling: “I can’t help it! I don’t care!” And, getting into bed, she turned out the light. It seemed queer and lonely; there was no fire. And then, without more ado, she slept.

She had a dream of being between Fiorsen and her father in a railway-carriage out at sea, with the water rising higher and higher, swishing and sighing. Awakening always, like a dog, to perfect presence of mind, she knew that he was playing in the sitting-room, playing–at what time of night? She lay listening to a quivering, gibbering tune that she did not know. Should she be first to make it up, or should she wait for him? Twice she half slipped out of bed, but both times, as if fate meant her not to move, he chose that moment to swell out the sound, and each time she thought: ‘No, I can’t. It’s just the same now; he doesn’t care how many people he wakes up. He does just what he likes, and cares nothing for anyone.’ And covering her ears with her hands, she continued to lie motionless.

When she withdrew her hands at last, he had stopped. Then she heard him coming, and feigned sleep. But he did not spare even sleep. She submitted to his kisses without a word, her heart hardening within her–surely he smelled of brandy! Next morning he seemed to have forgotten it all. But Gyp had not. She wanted badly to know what he had felt, where he had gone, but was too proud to ask.

She wrote twice to her father in the first week, but afterwards, except for a postcard now and then, she never could. Why tell him what she was doing, in company of one whom he could not bear to think of? Had he been right? To confess that would hurt her pride too much. But she began to long for London. The thought of her little house was a green spot to dwell on. When they were settled in, and could do what they liked without anxiety about people’s feelings, it would be all right perhaps. When he could start again really working, and she helping him, all would be different. Her new house, and so much to do; her new garden, and fruit-trees coming into blossom! She would have dogs and cats, would ride when Dad was in town. Aunt Rosamund would come, friends, evenings of music, dances still, perhaps–he danced beautifully, and loved it, as she did. And his concerts–the elation of being identified with his success! But, above all, the excitement of making her home as dainty as she could, with daring experiments in form and colour. And yet, at heart she knew that to be already looking forward, banning the present, was a bad sign.

One thing, at all events, she enjoyed–sailing. They had blue days when even the March sun was warm, and there was just breeze enough. He got on excellently well with the old salt whose boat they used, for he was at his best with simple folk, whose lingo he could understand about as much as they could understand his.

In those hours, Gyp had some real sensations of romance. The sea was so blue, the rocks and wooded spurs of that Southern coast so dreamy in the bright land-haze. Oblivious of “the old salt,” he would put his arm round her; out there, she could swallow down her sense of form, and be grateful for feeling nearer to him in spirit. She made loyal efforts to understand him in these weeks that were bringing a certain disillusionment. The elemental part of marriage was not the trouble; if she did not herself feel passion, she did not resent his. When, after one of those embraces, his mouth curled with a little bitter smile, as if to say, “Yes, much you care for me,” she would feel compunctious and yet aggrieved. But the trouble lay deeper–the sense of an insuperable barrier; and always that deep, instinctive recoil from letting herself go. She could not let herself be known, and she could not know him. Why did his eyes often fix her with a stare that did not seem to see her? What made him, in the midst of serious playing, break into some furious or desolate little tune, or drop his violin? What gave him those long hours of dejection, following the maddest gaiety? Above all, what dreams had he in those rare moments when music transformed his strange pale face? Or was it a mere physical illusion–had he any dreams? “The heart of another is a dark forest”–to all but the one who loves.

One morning, he held up a letter.

“Ah, ha! Paul Rosek went to see our house. ‘A pretty dove’s nest!’ he calls it.”

The memory of the Pole’s sphinxlike, sweetish face, and eyes that seemed to know so many secrets, always affected Gyp unpleasantly. She said quietly:

“Why do you like him, Gustav?”

“Like him? Oh, he is useful. A good judge of music, and–many things.”

“I think he is hateful.”

Fiorsen laughed.

“Hateful? Why hateful, my Gyp? He is a good friend. And he admires you–oh, he admires you very much! He has success with women. He always says, ‘J’ai une technique merveilleuse pour seduire une femme'”

Gyp laughed.

“Ugh! He’s like a toad, I think.”

“Ah, I shall tell him that! He will be flattered.”

“If you do; if you give me away–I–“

He jumped up and caught her in his arms; his face was so comically compunctious that she calmed down at once. She thought over her words afterwards and regretted them. All the same, Rosek was a sneak and a cold sensualist, she was sure. And the thought that he had been spying at their little house tarnished her anticipations of homecoming.

They went to Town three days later. While the taxi was skirting Lord’s Cricket-ground, Gyp slipped her hand into Fiorsen’s. She was brimful of excitement. The trees were budding in the gardens that they passed; the almond-blossom coming–yes, really coming! They were in the road now. Five, seven, nine–thirteen! Two more! There it was, nineteen, in white figures on the leaf-green railings, under the small green lilac buds; yes, and their almond- blossom was out, too! She could just catch a glimpse over those tall railings of the low white house with its green outside shutters. She jumped out almost into the arms of Betty, who stood smiling all over her broad, flushed face, while, from under each arm peered forth the head of a black devil, with pricked ears and eyes as bright as diamonds.

“Betty! What darlings!”

“Major Winton’s present, my dear–ma’am!”

Giving the stout shoulders a hug, Gyp seized the black devils, and ran up the path under the trellis, while the Scotch-terrier pups, squeezed against her breast, made confused small noises and licked her nose and ears. Through the square hall she ran into the drawing-room, which opened out on to the lawn; and there, in the French window, stood spying back at the spick-and-span room, where everything was, of course, placed just wrong. The colouring, white, ebony, and satinwood, looked nicer even than she had hoped. Out in the garden–her own garden–the pear-trees were thickening, but not in blossom yet; a few daffodils were in bloom along the walls, and a magnolia had one bud opened. And all the time she kept squeezing the puppies to her, enjoying their young, warm, fluffy savour, and letting them kiss her. She ran out of the drawing-room, up the stairs. Her bedroom, the dressing-room, the spare room, the bathroom–she dashed into them all. Oh, it was nice to be in your own place, to be–Suddenly she felt herself lifted off the ground from behind, and in that undignified position, her eyes flying, she turned her face till he could reach her lips.


To wake, and hear the birds at early practise, and feel that winter is over–is there any pleasanter moment?

That first morning in her new house, Gyp woke with the sparrow, or whatever the bird which utters the first cheeps and twitters, soon eclipsed by so much that is more important in bird-song. It seemed as if all the feathered creatures in London must be assembled in her garden; and the old verse came into her head:

“All dear Nature’s children sweet
Lie at bride and bridegroom’s feet, Blessing their sense.
Not a creature of the air,
Bird melodious or bird fair,
Be absent hence!”

She turned and looked at her husband. He lay with his head snoozled down into the pillow, so that she could only see his thick, rumpled hair. And a shiver went through her, exactly as if a strange man were lying there. Did he really belong to her, and she to him–for good? And was this their house–together? It all seemed somehow different, more serious and troubling, in this strange bed, of this strange room, that was to be so permanent. Careful not to wake him, she slipped out and stood between the curtains and the window. Light was all in confusion yet; away low down behind the trees, the rose of dawn still clung. One might almost have been in the country, but for the faint, rumorous noises of the town beginning to wake, and that film of ground-mist which veils the feet of London mornings. She thought: “I am mistress in this house, have to direct it all–see to everything! And my pups! Oh, what do they eat?”

That was the first of many hours of anxiety, for she was very conscientious. Her fastidiousness desired perfection, but her sensitiveness refused to demand it of others–especially servants. Why should she harry them?

Fiorsen had not the faintest notion of regularity. She found that he could not even begin to appreciate her struggles in housekeeping. And she was much too proud to ask his help, or perhaps too wise, since he was obviously unfit to give it. To live like the birds of the air was his motto. Gyp would have liked nothing better; but, for that, one must not have a house with three servants, several meals, two puppy-dogs, and no great experience of how to deal with any of them.

She spoke of her difficulties to no one and suffered the more. With Betty–who, bone-conservative, admitted Fiorsen as hardly as she had once admitted Winton–she had to be very careful. But her great trouble was with her father. Though she longed to see him, she literally dreaded their meeting. He first came–as he had been wont to come when she was a tiny girl–at the hour when he thought the fellow to whom she now belonged would most likely be out. Her heart beat, when she saw him under the trellis. She opened the door herself, and hung about him so that his shrewd eyes should not see her face. And she began at once to talk of the puppies, whom she had named Don and Doff. They were perfect darlings; nothing was safe from them; her slippers were completely done for; they had already got into her china-cabinet and gone to sleep there! He must come and see all over.

Hooking her arm into his, and talking all the time, she took him up-stairs and down, and out into the garden, to the studio, or music-room, at the end, which had an entrance to itself on to a back lane. This room had been the great attraction. Fiorsen could practice there in peace. Winton went along with her very quietly, making a shrewd comment now and then. At the far end of the garden, looking over the wall, down into that narrow passage which lay between it and the back of another garden he squeezed her arm suddenly and said:

“Well, Gyp, what sort of a time?”

The question had come at last.

“Oh, rather lovely–in some ways.” But she did not look at him, nor he at her. “See, Dad! The cats have made quite a path there!”

Winton bit his lips and turned from the wall. The thought of that fellow was bitter within him. She meant to tell him nothing, meant to keep up that lighthearted look–which didn’t deceive him a bit!

“Look at my crocuses! It’s really spring today!”

It was. Even a bee or two had come. The tiny leaves had a transparent look, too thin as yet to keep the sunlight from passing through them. The purple, delicate-veined crocuses, with little flames of orange blowing from their centres, seemed to hold the light as in cups. A wind, without harshness, swung the boughs; a dry leaf or two still rustled round here and there. And on the grass, and in the blue sky, and on the almond-blossom was the first spring brilliance. Gyp clasped her hands behind her head.

“Lovely–to feel the spring!”

And Winton thought: ‘She’s changed!’ She had softened, quickened– more depth of colour in her, more gravity, more sway in her body, more sweetness in her smile. But–was she happy?

A voice said:

“Ah, what a pleasure!”

The fellow had slunk up like the great cat he was. And it seemed to Winton that Gyp had winced.

“Dad thinks we ought to have dark curtains in the music-room, Gustav.”

Fiorsen made a bow.

“Yes, yes–like a London club.”

Winton, watching, was sure of supplication in her face. And, forcing a smile, he said:

“You seem very snug here. Glad to see you again. Gyp looks splendid.”

Another of those bows he so detested! Mountebank! Never, never would he be able to stand the fellow! But he must not, would not, show it. And, as soon as he decently could, he went, taking his lonely way back through this region, of which his knowledge was almost limited to Lord’s Cricket-ground, with a sense of doubt and desolation, an irritation more than ever mixed with the resolve to be always at hand if the child wanted him.

He had not been gone ten minutes before Aunt Rosamund appeared, with a crutch-handled stick and a gentlemanly limp, for she, too, indulged her ancestors in gout. A desire for exclusive possession of their friends is natural to some people, and the good lady had not known how fond she was of her niece till the girl had slipped off into this marriage. She wanted her back, to go about with and make much of, as before. And her well-bred drawl did not quite disguise this feeling.

Gyp could detect Fiorsen subtly mimicking that drawl; and her ears began to burn. The puppies afforded a diversion–their points, noses, boldness, and food, held the danger in abeyance for some minutes. Then the mimicry began again. When Aunt Rosamund had taken a somewhat sudden leave, Gyp stood at the window of her drawing-room with the mask off her face. Fiorsen came up, put his arm round her from behind, and said with a fierce sigh:

“Are they coming often–these excellent people?”

Gyp drew back from him against the wall.

“If you love me, why do you try to hurt the people who love me too?”

“Because I am jealous. I am jealous even of those puppies.”

“And shall you try to hurt them?”

“If I see them too much near you, perhaps I shall.”

“Do you think I can be happy if you hurt things because they love me?”

He sat down and drew her on to his knee. She did not resist, but made not the faintest return to his caresses. The first time–the very first friend to come into her own new home! It was too much!

Fiorsen said hoarsely:

“You do not love me. If you loved me, I should feel it through your lips. I should see it in your eyes. Oh, love me, Gyp! You shall!”

But to say to Love: “Stand and deliver!” was not the way to touch Gyp. It seemed to her mere ill-bred stupidity. She froze against him in soul, all the more that she yielded her body. When a woman refuses nothing to one whom she does not really love, shadows are already falling on the bride-house. And Fiorsen knew it; but his self-control about equalled that of the two puppies.

Yet, on the whole, these first weeks in her new home were happy, too busy to allow much room for doubting or regret. Several important concerts were fixed for May. She looked forward to these with intense eagerness, and pushed everything that interfered with preparation into the background. As though to make up for that instinctive recoil from giving her heart, of which she was always subconscious, she gave him all her activities, without calculation or reserve. She was ready to play for him all day and every day, just as from the first she had held herself at the disposal of his passion. To fail him in these ways would have tarnished her opinion of herself. But she had some free hours in the morning, for he had the habit of lying in bed till eleven, and was never ready for practise before twelve. In those early hours she got through her orders and her shopping–that pursuit which to so many women is the only real “sport”–a chase of the ideal; a pitting of one’s taste and knowledge against that of the world at large; a secret passion, even in the beautiful, for making oneself and one’s house more beautiful. Gyp never went shopping without that faint thrill running up and down her nerves. She hated to be touched by strange fingers, but not even that stopped her pleasure in turning and turning before long mirrors, while the saleswoman or man, with admiration at first crocodilic and then genuine, ran the tips of fingers over those curves, smoothing and pinning, and uttering the word, “moddam.”

On other mornings, she would ride with Winton, who would come for her, leaving her again at her door after their outings. One day, after a ride in Richmond Park, where the horse-chestnuts were just coming into flower, they had late breakfast on the veranda of a hotel before starting for home. Some fruit-trees were still in blossom just below them, and the sunlight showering down from a blue sky brightened to silver the windings of the river, and to gold the budding leaves of the oak-trees. Winton, smoking his after-breakfast cigar, stared down across the tops of those trees toward the river and the wooded fields beyond. Stealing a glance at him, Gyp said very softly:

“Did you ever ride with my mother, Dad?”

“Only once–the very ride we’ve been to-day. She was on a black mare; I had a chestnut–” Yes, in that grove on the little hill, which they had ridden through that morning, he had dismounted and stood beside her.

Gyp stretched her hand across the table and laid it on his.

“Tell me about her, dear. Was she beautiful?”


“Dark? Tall?”

“Very like you, Gyp. A little–a little”–he did not know how to describe that difference–“a little more foreign-looking perhaps. One of her grandmothers was Italian, you know.”

“How did you come to love her? Suddenly?”

“As suddenly as”–he drew his hand away and laid it on the veranda rail–“as that sun came on my hand.”

Gyp said quietly, as if to herself:

“Yes; I don’t think I understand that–yet.”

Winton drew breath through his teeth with a subdued hiss.

“Did she love you at first sight, too?”

He blew out a long puff of smoke.

“One easily believes what one wants to–but I think she did. She used to say so.”

“And how long?”

“Only a year.”

Gyp said very softly:

“Poor darling Dad.” And suddenly she added: “I can’t bear to think I killed her–I can’t bear it!”

Winton got up in the discomfort of these sudden confidences; a blackbird, startled by the movement, ceased his song. Gyp said in a hard voice:

“No; I don’t want to have any children.”

“Without that, I shouldn’t have had you, Gyp.”

“No; but I don’t want to have them. And I don’t–I don’t want to love like that. I should be afraid.”

Winton looked at her for a long time without speaking, his brows drawn down, frowning, puzzled, as though over his own past.

“Love,” he said, “it catches you, and you’re gone. When it comes, you welcome it, whether it’s to kill you or not. Shall we start back, my child?”

When she got home, it was not quite noon. She hurried over her bath and dressing, and ran out to the music-room. Its walls had been hung with Willesden scrim gilded over; the curtains were silver-grey; there was a divan covered with silver-and-gold stuff, and a beaten brass fireplace. It was a study in silver, and gold, save for two touches of fantasy–a screen round the piano-head, covered with brilliantly painted peacocks’ tails, and a blue Persian vase, in which were flowers of various hues of red.

Fiorsen was standing at the window in a fume of cigarette smoke. He did not turn round. Gyp put her hand within his arm, and said:

“So sorry, dear. But it’s only just half-past twelve.”

His face was as if the whole world had injured him.

“Pity you came back! Very nice, riding, I’m sure!”

Could she not go riding with her own father? What insensate jealousy and egomania! She turned away, without a word, and sat down at the piano. She was not good at standing injustice–not good at all! The scent of brandy, too, was mixed with the fumes of his cigarette. Drink in the morning was so ugly–really horrid! She sat at the piano, waiting. He would be like this till he had played away the fumes of his ill mood, and then he would come and paw her shoulders and put his lips to her neck. Yes; but it was not the way to behave, not the way to make her love him. And she said suddenly:

“Gustav; what exactly have I done that you dislike?”

“You have had a father.”

Gyp sat quite still for a few seconds, and then began to laugh. He looked so like a sulky child, standing there. He turned swiftly on her and put his hand over her mouth. She looked up over that hand which smelled of tobacco. Her heart was doing the grand ecart within her, this way in compunction, that way in resentment. His eyes fell before hers; he dropped his hand.

“Well, shall we begin?” she said.

He answered roughly: “No,” and went out into the garden.

Gyp was left dismayed, disgusted. Was it possible that she could have taken part in such a horrid little scene? She remained sitting at the piano, playing over and over a single passage, without heeding what it was.


So far, they had seen nothing of Rosek at the little house. She wondered if Fiorsen had passed on to him her remark, though if he had, he would surely say he hadn’t; she had learned that her husband spoke the truth when convenient, not when it caused him pain. About music, or any art, however, he could be implicitly relied on; and his frankness was appalling when his nerves were ruffled.

But at the first concert she saw Rosek’s unwelcome figure on the other side of the gangway, two rows back. He was talking to a young girl, whose face, short and beautifully formed, had the opaque transparency of alabaster. With her round blue eyes fixed on him, and her lips just parted, she had a slightly vacant look. Her laugh, too, was just a little vacant. And yet her features were so beautiful, her hair so smooth and fair, her colouring so pale and fine, her neck so white and round, the poise of her body so perfect that Gyp found it difficult to take her glance away. She had refused her aunt’s companionship. It might irritate Fiorsen and affect his playing to see her with “that stiff English creature.” She wanted, too, to feel again the sensations of Wiesbaden. There would be a kind of sacred pleasure in knowing that she had helped to perfect sounds which touched the hearts and senses of so many listeners. She had looked forward to this concert so long. And she sat scarcely breathing, abstracted from consciousness of those about her, soft and still, radiating warmth and eagerness.

Fiorsen looked his worst, as ever, when first coming before an audience–cold, furtive, defensive, defiant, half turned away, with those long fingers tightening the screws, touching the strings. It seemed queer to think that only six hours ago she had stolen out of bed from beside him. Wiesbaden! No; this was not like Wiesbaden! And when he played she had not the same emotions. She had heard him now too often, knew too exactly how he produced those sounds; knew that their fire and sweetness and nobility sprang from fingers, ear, brain–not from his soul. Nor was it possible any longer to drift off on those currents of sound into new worlds, to hear bells at dawn, and the dews of evening as they fell, to feel the divinity of wind and sunlight. The romance and ecstasy that at Wiesbaden had soaked her spirit came no more. She was watching for the weak spots, the passages with which he had struggled and she had struggled; she was distracted by memories of petulance, black moods, and sudden caresses. And then she caught his eye. The look was like, yet how unlike, those looks at Wiesbaden. It had the old love-hunger, but had lost the adoration, its spiritual essence. And she thought: ‘Is it my fault, or is it only because he has me now to do what he likes with?’ It was all another disillusionment, perhaps the greatest yet. But she kindled and flushed at the applause, and lost herself in pleasure at his success. At the interval, she slipped out at once, for her first visit to the artist’s room, the mysterious enchantment of a peep behind the scenes. He was coming down from his last recall; and at sight of her his look of bored contempt vanished; lifting her hand, he kissed it. Gyp felt happier than she had since her marriage. Her eyes shone, and she whispered:


He whispered back:

“So! Do you love me, Gyp?”

She nodded. And at that moment she did, or thought so.

Then people began to come; amongst them her old music-master, Monsieur Harmost, grey and mahogany as ever, who, after a “Merveilleux,” “Tres fort” or two to Fiorsen, turned his back on him to talk to his old pupil.

So she had married Fiorsen–dear, dear! That was extraordinary, but extraordinary! And what was it like, to be always with him–a little funny–not so? And how was her music? It would be spoiled now. Ah, what a pity! No? She must come to him, then; yes, come again. All the time he patted her arm, as if playing the piano, and his fingers, that had the touch of an angel, felt the firmness of her flesh, as though debating whether she were letting it deteriorate. He seemed really to have missed “his little friend,” to be glad at seeing her again; and Gyp, who never could withstand appreciation, smiled at him. More people came. She saw Rosek talking to her husband, and the young alabaster girl standing silent, her lips still a little parted, gazing up at Fiorsen. A perfect figure, though rather short; a dovelike face, whose exquisitely shaped, just-opened lips seemed to be demanding sugar- plums. She could not be more than nineteen. Who was she?

A voice said almost in her ear:

“How do you do, Mrs. Fiorsen? I am fortunate to see you again at last.”

She was obliged to turn. If Gustav had given her away, one would never know it from this velvet-masked creature, with his suave watchfulness and ready composure, who talked away so smoothly. What was it that she so disliked in him? Gyp had acute instincts, the natural intelligence deep in certain natures not over intellectual, but whose “feelers” are too delicate to be deceived. And, for something to say, she asked:

“Who is the girl you were talking to, Count Rosek? Her face is so lovely.”

He smiled, exactly the smile she had so disliked at Wiesbaden; following his glance, she saw her husband talking to the girl, whose lips at that moment seemed more than ever to ask for sugar-plums.

“A young dancer, Daphne Wing–she will make a name. A dove flying! So you admire her, Madame Gyp?”

Gyp said, smiling:

“She’s very pretty–I can imagine her dancing beautifully.”

“Will you come one day and see her? She has still to make her debut.”

Gyp answered:

“Thank you. I don’t know. I love dancing, of course.”

“Good! I will arrange it.”

And Gyp thought: “No, no! I don’t want to have anything to do with you! Why do I not speak the truth? Why didn’t I say I hate dancing?”

Just then a bell sounded; people began hurrying away. The girl came up to Rosek.

“Miss Daphne Wing–Mrs. Fiorsen.”

Gyp put out her hand with a smile–this girl was certainly a picture. Miss Daphne Wing smiled, too, and said, with the intonation of those who have been carefully corrected of an accent:

“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, how beautifully your husband plays–doesn’t he?”

It was not merely the careful speech but something lacking when the perfect mouth moved–spirit, sensibility, who could say? And Gyp felt sorry, as at blight on a perfect flower. With a friendly nod, she turned away to Fiorsen, who was waiting to go up on to the platform. Was it at her or at the girl he had been looking? She smiled at him and slid away. In the corridor, Rosek, in attendance, said:

“Why not this evening? Come with Gustav to my rooms. She shall dance to us, and we will all have supper. She admires you, Madame Gyp. She will love to dance for you.”

Gyp longed for the simple brutality to say: “I don’t want to come. I don’t like you!” But all she could manage was:

“Thank you. I–I will ask Gustav.”

Once in her seat again, she rubbed the cheek that his breath had touched. A girl was singing now–one of those faces that Gyp always admired, reddish-gold hair, blue eyes–the very antithesis of herself–and the song was “The Bens of Jura,” that strange outpouring from a heart broken by love:

“And my heart reft of its own sun–“

Tears rose in her eyes, and the shiver of some very deep response passed through her. What was it Dad had said: “Love catches you, and you’re gone!”

She, who was the result of love like that, did not want to love!

The girl finished singing. There was little applause. Yet she had sung beautifully; and what more wonderful song in the world? Was it too tragic, too painful, too strange–not “pretty” enough? Gyp felt sorry for her. Her head ached now. She would so have liked to slip away when it was all over. But she had not the needful rudeness. She would have to go through with this evening at Rosek’s and be gay. And why not? Why this shadow over everything? But it was no new sensation, that of having entered by her own free will on a life which, for all effort, would not give her a feeling of anchorage or home. Of her own accord she had stepped into the cage!

On the way to Rosek’s rooms, she disguised from Fiorsen her headache and depression. He was in one of his boy-out-of-school moods, elated by applause, mimicking her old master, the idolatries of his worshippers, Rosek, the girl dancer’s upturned expectant lips. And he slipped his arm round Gyp in the cab, crushing her against him and sniffing at her cheek as if she had been a flower.

Rosek had the first floor of an old-time mansion in Russell Square. The smell of incense or some kindred perfume was at once about one; and, on the walls of the dark hall, electric light burned, in jars of alabaster picked up in the East. The whole place was in fact a sanctum of the collector’s spirit. Its owner had a passion for black–the walls, divans, picture-frames, even some of the tilings were black, with glimmerings of gold, ivory, and moonlight. On a round black table there stood a golden bowl filled with moonlight- coloured velvety “palm” and “honesty”; from a black wall gleamed out the ivory mask of a faun’s face; from a dark niche the little silver figure of a dancing girl. It was beautiful, but deathly. And Gyp, though excited always by anything new, keenly alive to every sort of beauty, felt a longing for air and sunlight. It was a relief to get close to one of the black-curtained windows, and see the westering sun shower warmth and light on the trees of the Square gardens. She was introduced to a Mr. and Mrs. Gallant, a dark-faced, cynical-looking man with clever, malicious eyes, and one of those large cornucopias of women with avid blue stares. The little dancer was not there. She had “gone to put on nothing,” Rosek informed them.

He took Gyp the round of his treasures, scarabs, Rops drawings, death-masks, Chinese pictures, and queer old flutes, with an air of displaying them for the first time to one who could truly appreciate. And she kept thinking of that saying, “Une technique merveilleuse.” Her instinct apprehended the refined bone- viciousness of this place, where nothing, save perhaps taste, would be sacred. It was her first glimpse into that gilt-edged bohemia, whence the generosities, the elans, the struggles of the true bohemia are as rigidly excluded as from the spheres where bishops moved. But she talked and smiled; and no one could have told that her nerves were crisping as if at contact with a corpse. While showing her those alabaster jars, her host had laid his hand softly on her wrist, and in taking it away, he let his fingers, with a touch softer than a kitten’s paw, ripple over the skin, then put them to his lips. Ah, there it was–the–the TECHNIQUE! A desperate desire to laugh seized her. And he saw it–oh, yes, he saw it! He gave her one look, passed that same hand over his smooth face, and–behold!–it showed as before, unmortified, unconscious. A deadly little man!

When they returned to the salon, as it was called, Miss Daphne Wing in a black kimono, whence her face and arms emerged more like alabaster than ever, was sitting on a divan beside Fiorsen. She rose at once and came across to Gyp.

“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen”–why did everything she said begin with “Oh”– “isn’t this room lovely? It’s perfect for dancing. I only brought cream, and flame-colour; they go so beautifully with black.”

She threw back her kimono for Gyp to inspect her dress–a girdled cream-coloured shift, which made her ivory arms and neck seem more than ever dazzling; and her mouth opened, as if for a sugar-plum of praise. Then, lowering her voice, she murmured:

“Do you know, I’m rather afraid of Count Rosek.”


“Oh, I don’t know; he’s so critical, and smooth, and he comes up so quietly. I do think your husband plays wonderfully. Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, you are beautiful, aren’t you?” Gyp laughed. “What would you like me to dance first? A waltz of Chopin’s?”

“Yes; I love Chopin.”

“Then I shall. I shall dance exactly what you like, because I do admire you, and I’m sure you’re awfully sweet. Oh, yes; you are; I can see that! And I think your husband’s awfully in love with you. I should be, if I were a man. You know, I’ve been studying five years, and I haven’t come out yet. But now Count Rosek’s going to back me, I expect it’ll be very soon. Will you come to my first night? Mother says I’ve got to be awfully careful. She only let me come this evening because you were going to be here. Would you like me to begin?”

She slid across to Rosek, and Gyp heard her say:

“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen wants me to begin; a Chopin waltz, please. The one that goes like this.”

Rosek went to the piano, the little dancer to the centre of the room. Gyp sat down beside Fiorsen.

Rosek began playing, his eyes fixed on the girl, and his mouth loosened from compression in a sweetish smile. Miss Daphne Wing was standing with her finger-tips joined at her breast–a perfect statue of ebony and palest wax. Suddenly she flung away the black kimono. A thrill swept Gyp from head to foot. She COULD dance– that common little girl! Every movement of her round, sinuous body, of her bare limbs, had the ecstasy of natural genius, controlled by the quivering balance of a really fine training. “A dove flying!” So she was. Her face had lost its vacancy, or rather its vacancy had become divine, having that look–not lost but gone before–which dance demands. Yes, she was a gem, even if she had a common soul. Tears came up in Gyp’s eyes. It was so lovely–like a dove, when it flings itself up in the wind, breasting on up, up–wings bent back, poised. Abandonment, freedom–chastened, shaped, controlled!

When, after the dance, the girl came and sat down beside her, she squeezed her hot little hand, but the caress was for her art, not for this moist little person with the lips avid of sugar-plums.

“Oh, did you like it? I’m so glad. Shall I go and put on my flame-colour, now?”

The moment she was gone, comment broke out freely. The dark and cynical Gallant thought the girl’s dancing like a certain Napierkowska whom he had seen in Moscow, without her fire–the touch of passion would have to be supplied. She wanted love! Love! And suddenly Gyp was back in the concert-hall, listening to that other girl singing the song of a broken heart.

“Thy kiss, dear love–
Like watercress gathered fresh from cool streams.”

Love! in this abode–of fauns’ heads, deep cushions, silver dancing girls! Love! She had a sudden sense of deep abasement. What was she, herself, but just a feast for a man’s senses? Her home, what but a place like this? Miss Daphne Wing was back again. Gyp looked at her husband’s face while she was dancing. His lips! How was it that she could see that disturbance in him, and not care? If she had really loved him, to see his lips like that would have hurt her, but she might have understood perhaps, and forgiven. Now she neither quite understood nor quite forgave.

And that night, when he kissed her, she murmured:

“Would you rather it were that girl–not me?”

“That girl! I could swallow her at a draft. But you, my Gyp–I want to drink for ever!”

Was that true? IF she had loved him–how good to hear!


After this, Gyp was daily more and more in contact with high bohemia, that curious composite section of society which embraces the neck of music, poetry, and the drama. She was a success, but secretly she felt that she did not belong to it, nor, in truth, did Fiorsen, who was much too genuine a bohemian, and artist, and mocked at the Gallants and even the Roseks of this life, as he mocked at Winton, Aunt Rosamund, and their world. Life with him had certainly one effect on Gyp; it made her feel less and less a part of that old orthodox, well-bred world which she had known before she married him; but to which she had confessed to Winton she had never felt that she belonged, since she knew the secret of her birth. She was, in truth, much too impressionable, too avid of beauty, and perhaps too naturally critical to accept the dictates of their fact-and-form-governed routine; only, of her own accord, she would never have had initiative enough to step out of its circle. Loosened from those roots, unable to attach herself to this new soil, and not spiritually leagued with her husband, she was more and more lonely. Her only truly happy hours were those spent with Winton or at her piano or with her puppies. She was always wondering at what she had done, longing to find the deep, the sufficient reason for having done it. But the more she sought and longed, the deeper grew her bewilderment, her feeling of being in a cage. Of late, too, another and more definite uneasiness had come to her.

She spent much time in her garden, where the blossoms had all dropped, lilac was over, acacias coming into bloom, and blackbirds silent.

Winton, who, by careful experiment, had found that from half-past three to six there was little or no chance of stumbling across his son-in-law, came in nearly every day for tea and a quiet cigar on the lawn. He was sitting there with Gyp one afternoon, when Betty, who usurped the functions of parlour-maid whenever the whim moved her, brought out a card on which were printed the words, “Miss Daphne Wing.”

“Bring her out, please, Betty dear, and some fresh tea, and buttered toast–plenty of buttered toast; yes, and the chocolates, and any other sweets there are, Betty darling.”

Betty, with that expression which always came over her when she was called “darling,” withdrew across the grass, and Gyp said to her father:

“It’s the little dancer I told you of, Dad. Now you’ll see something perfect. Only, she’ll be dressed. It’s a pity.”

She was. The occasion had evidently exercised her spirit. In warm ivory, shrouded by leaf-green chiffon, with a girdle of tiny artificial leaves, and a lightly covered head encircled by other green leaves, she was somewhat like a nymph peering from a bower. If rather too arresting, it was charming, and, after all, no frock could quite disguise the beauty of her figure. She was evidently nervous.

“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, I thought you wouldn’t mind my coming. I did so want to see you again. Count Rosek said he thought I might. It’s all fixed for my coming-out. Oh, how do you do?” And with lips and eyes opening at Winton, she sat down in the chair he placed for her. Gyp, watching his expression, felt inclined to laugh. Dad, and Daphne Wing! And the poor girl so evidently anxious to make a good impression! Presently she asked:

“Have you been dancing at Count Rosek’s again lately?”

“Oh, yes, haven’t you–didn’t you–I–” And she stopped.

The thought flashed through Gyp, ‘So Gustav’s been seeing her, and hasn’t told me!’ But she said at once:

“Ah, yes, of course; I forgot. When is the night of your coming- out?”

“Next Friday week. Fancy! The Octagon. Isn’t it splendid? They’ve given me such a good engagement. I do so want you and Mr. Fiorsen to come, though!”

Gyp, smiling, murmured:

“Of course we will. My father loves dancing, too; don’t you, Dad?”

Winton took his cigar from his mouth.

“When it’s good,” he said, urbanely.

“Oh, mine IS good; isn’t it, Mrs. Fiorsen? I mean, I HAVE worked– ever since I was thirteen, you know. I simply love it. I think YOU would dance beautifully, Mrs. Fiorsen. You’ve got such a perfect figure. I simply love to see you walk.”

Gyp flushed, and said:

“Do have one of these, Miss Wing–they’ve got whole raspberries inside.”

The little dancer put one in her mouth.

“Oh, but please don’t call me Miss Wing! I wish you’d call me Daphne. Mr. Fior–everybody does.”

Conscious of her father’s face, Gyp murmured:

“It’s a lovely name. Won’t you have another? These are apricot.”

“They’re perfect. You know, my first dress is going to be all orange-blossom; Mr. Fiorsen suggested that. But I expect he told you. Perhaps you suggested it really; did you?” Gyp shook her head. “Count Rosek says the world is waiting for me–” She paused with a sugar-plum halfway to her lips, and added doubtfully: “Do you think that’s true?”

Gyp answered with a soft: “I hope so.”

“He says I’m something new. It would be nice to think that. He has great taste; so has Mr. Fiorsen, hasn’t he?”

Conscious of the compression in the lips behind the smoke of her father’s cigar, and with a sudden longing to get up and walk away, Gyp nodded.

The little dancer placed the sweet in her mouth, and said complacently:

“Of course he has; because he married you.”

Then, seeming to grow conscious of Winton’s eyes fixed so intently on her, she became confused, swallowed hastily, and said:

“Oh, isn’t it lovely here–like the country! I’m afraid I must go; it’s my practice-time. It’s so important for me not to miss any now, isn’t it?” And she rose.

Winton got up, too. Gyp saw the girl’s eyes, lighting on his rigid hand, grow round and rounder; and from her, walking past the side of the house, the careful voice floated back:

“Oh, I do hope–” But what, could not be heard.

Sinking back in her chair, Gyp sat motionless. Bees were murmurous among her flowers, pigeons murmurous among the trees; the sunlight warmed her knees, and her stretched-out feet through the openwork of her stockings. The maid’s laughter, the delicious growling of the puppies at play in the kitchen came drifting down the garden, with the distant cry of a milkman up the road. All was very peaceful. But in her heart were such curious, baffled emotions, such strange, tangled feelings. This moment of enlightenment regarding the measure of her husband’s frankness came close on the heels of the moment fate had chosen for another revelation, for clinching within her a fear felt for weeks past. She had said to Winton that she did not want to have a child. In those conscious that their birth has caused death or even too great suffering, there is sometimes this hostile instinct. She had not even the consolation that Fiorsen wanted children; she knew that he did not. And now she was sure one was coming. But it was more than that. She had not reached, and knew she could not reach, that point of spirit-union which alone makes marriage sacred, and the sacrifices demanded by motherhood a joy. She was fairly caught in the web of her foolish and presumptuous mistake! So few months of marriage– and so sure that it was a failure, so hopeless for the future! In the light of this new certainty, it was terrifying. A hard, natural fact is needed to bring a yearning and bewildered spirit to knowledge of the truth. Disillusionment is not welcome to a woman’s heart; the less welcome when it is disillusionment with self as much as with another. Her great dedication–her scheme of life! She had been going to–what?–save Fiorsen from himself! It was laughable. She had only lost herself. Already she felt in prison, and by a child would be all the more bound. To some women, the knowledge that a thing must be brings assuagement of the nerves. Gyp was the opposite of those. To force her was the way to stiver up every contrary emotion. She might will herself to acquiesce, but–one cannot change one’s nature.

And so, while the pigeons cooed and the sunlight warmed her feet, she spent the bitterest moments of her life–so far. Pride came to her help. She had made a miserable mess of it, but no one must know–certainly not her father, who had warned her so desperately! She had made her bed, and she would have to lie on it.

When Winton came back, he found her smiling, and said:

“I don’t see the fascination, Gyp.”

“Don’t you think her face really rather perfect?”


“Yes; but that drops off when she’s dancing.”

Winton looked at her from under half-closed eyelids.

“With her clothes? What does Fiorsen think of her?”

Gyp smiled.

“Does he think of her? I don’t know.”

She could feel the watchful tightening of his face. And suddenly he said:

“Daphne Wing! By George!”

The words were a masterpiece of resentment and distrust. His daughter in peril from–such as that!

After he was gone Gyp sat on till the sun had quite vanished and the dew was stealing through her thin frock. She would think of anything, anybody except herself! To make others happy was the way to be happy–or so they said. She would try–must try. Betty–so stout, and with that rheumatism in her leg–did she ever think of herself? Or Aunt Rosamund, with her perpetual rescuings of lost dogs, lame horses, and penniless musicians? And Dad, for all his man-of-the-world ways, was he not always doing little things for the men of his old regiment, always thinking of her, too, and what he could do to give her pleasure? To love everybody, and bring them happiness! Was it not possible? Only, people were hard to love, different from birds and beasts and flowers, to love which seemed natural and easy.

She went up to her room and began to dress for dinner. Which of her frocks did he like best? The pale, low-cut amber, or that white, soft one, with the coffee-dipped lace? She decided on the latter. Scrutinizing her supple, slender image in the glass, a shudder went through her. That would all go; she would be like those women taking careful exercise in the streets, who made her wonder at their hardihood in showing themselves. It wasn’t fair that one must become unsightly, offensive to the eye, in order to bring life into the world. Some women seemed proud to be like that. How was that possible? She would never dare to show herself in the days coming.

She finished dressing and went downstairs. It was nearly eight, and Fiorsen had not come in. When the gong was struck, she turned from the window with a sigh, and went in to dinner. That sigh had been relief. She ate her dinner with the two pups beside her, sent them off, and sat down at her piano. She played Chopin–studies, waltzes, mazurkas, preludes, a polonaise or two. And Betty, who had a weakness for that composer, sat on a chair by the door which partitioned off the back premises, having opened it a little. She wished she could go and take a peep at her “pretty” in her white frock, with the candle-flames on each side, and those lovely lilies in the vase close by, smelling beautiful. And one of the maids coming too near, she shooed her angrily away.

It grew late. The tray had been brought up; the maids had gone to bed. Gyp had long stopped playing, had turned out, ready to go up, and, by the French window, stood gazing out into the dark. How warm it was–warm enough to draw forth the scent of the jessamine along the garden wall! Not a star. There always seemed so few stars in London. A sound made her swing round. Something tall was over there in the darkness, by the open door. She heard a sigh, and called out, frightened:

“Is that you, Gustav?”

He spoke some words that she could not understand. Shutting the window quickly, she went toward him. Light from the hall lit up one side of his face and figure. He was pale; his eyes shone strangely; his sleeve was all white. He said thickly:

“Little ghost!” and then some words that must be Swedish. It was the first time Gyp had ever come to close quarters with drunkenness. And her thought was simply: ‘How awful if anybody were to see–how awful!’ She made a rush to get into the hall and lock the door leading to the back regions, but he caught her frock, ripping the lace from her neck, and his entangled fingers clutched her shoulder. She stopped dead, fearing to make a noise or pull him over, and his other hand clutched her other shoulder, so that he stood steadying himself by her. Why was she not shocked, smitten to the ground with grief and shame and rage? She only felt: “What am I to do? How get him upstairs without anyone knowing?” And she looked up into his face–it seemed to her so pathetic with its shining eyes and its staring whiteness that she could have burst into tears. She said gently:

“Gustav, it’s all right. Lean on me; we’ll go up.”

His hands, that seemed to have no power or purpose, touched her cheeks, mechanically caressing. More than disgust, she felt that awful pity. Putting her arm round his waist, she moved with him toward the stairs. If only no one heard; if only she could get him quietly up! And she murmured:

“Don’t talk; you’re not well. Lean on me hard.”

He seemed to make a big effort; his lips puffed out, and with an expression of pride that would have been comic if not so tragic, he muttered something.

Holding him close with all her strength, as she might have held one desperately loved, she began to mount. It was easier than she had thought. Only across the landing now, into the bedroom, and then the danger would be over. Done! He was lying across the bed, and the door shut. Then, for a moment, she gave way to a fit of shivering so violent that she could hear her teeth chattering yet could not stop them. She caught sight of herself in the big mirror. Her pretty lace was all torn; her shoulders were red where his hands had gripped her, holding himself up. She threw off her dress, put on a wrapper, and went up to him. He was lying in a sort of stupor, and with difficulty she got him to sit up and lean against the bed-rail. Taking off his tie and collar, she racked her brains for what to give him. Sal volatile! Surely that must be right. It brought him to himself, so that he even tried to kiss her. At last he was in bed, and she stood looking at him. His eyes were closed; he would not see if she gave way now. But she would not cry–she would not. One sob came–but that was all. Well, there was nothing to be done now but get into bed too. She undressed, and turned out the light. He was in a stertorous sleep. And lying there, with eyes wide open, staring into the dark, a smile came on her lips–a very strange smile! She was thinking of all those preposterous young wives she had read of, who, blushing, trembling, murmur into the ears of their young husbands that they “have something–something to tell them!”


Looking at Fiorsen, next morning, still sunk in heavy sleep, her first thought was: ‘He looks exactly the same.’ And, suddenly, it seemed queer to her that she had not been, and still was not, disgusted. It was all too deep for disgust, and somehow, too natural. She took this new revelation of his unbridled ways without resentment. Besides, she had long known of this taste of his–one cannot drink brandy and not betray it.

She stole noiselessly from bed, noiselessly gathered up his boots and clothes all tumbled on to a chair, and took them forth to the dressing-room. There she held the garments up to the early light and brushed them, then, noiseless, stole back to bed, with needle and thread and her lace. No one must know; not even he must know. For the moment she had forgotten that other thing so terrifically important. It came back to her, very sudden, very sickening. So long as she could keep it secret, no one should know that either– he least of all.

The morning passed as usual; but when she came to the music-room at noon, she found that he had gone out. She was just sitting down to lunch when Betty, with the broad smile which prevailed on her moon- face when someone had tickled the right side of her, announced:

“Count Rosek.”

Gyp got up, startled.

“Say that Mr. Fiorsen is not in, Betty. But–but ask if he will come and have some lunch, and get a bottle of hock up, please.”

In the few seconds before her visitor appeared, Gyp experienced the sort of excitement one has entering a field where a bull is grazing.

But not even his severest critics could accuse Rosek of want of tact. He had hoped to see Gustav, but it was charming of her to give him lunch–a great delight!

He seemed to have put off, as if for her benefit, his corsets, and some, at all events, of his offending looks–seemed simpler, more genuine. His face was slightly browned, as if, for once, he had been taking his due of air and sun. He talked without cynical submeanings, was most appreciative of her “charming little house,” and even showed some warmth in his sayings about art and music. Gyp had never disliked him less. But her instincts were on the watch. After lunch, they went out across the garden to see the music-room, and he sat down at the piano. He had the deep, caressing touch that lies in fingers of steel worked by a real passion for tone. Gyp sat on the divan and listened. She was out of his sight there; and she looked at him, wondering. He was playing Schumann’s Child Music. How could one who produced such fresh idyllic sounds have sinister intentions? And presently she said:

“Count Rosek!”


“Will you please tell me why you sent Daphne Wing here yesterday?”

“I send her?”


But instantly she regretted having asked that question. He had swung round on the music-stool and was looking full at her. His face had changed.

“Since you ask me, I thought you should know that Gustav is seeing a good deal of her.”

He had given the exact answer she had divined.

“Do you think I mind that?”

A flicker passed over his face. He got up and said quietly:

“I am glad that you do not.”

“Why glad?”

She, too, had risen. Though he was little taller than herself, she was conscious suddenly of how thick and steely he was beneath his dapper garments, and of a kind of snaky will-power in his face. Her heart beat faster.

He came toward her and said:

“I am glad you understand that it is over with Gustav–finished–” He stopped dead, seeing at once that he had gone wrong, and not knowing quite where. Gyp had simply smiled. A flush coloured his cheeks, and he said:

“He is a volcano soon extinguished. You see, I know him. Better you should know him, too. Why do you smile?”

“Why is it better I should know?”

He went very pale, and said between his teeth:

“That you may not waste your time; there is love waiting for you.”

But Gyp still smiled.

“Was it from love of me that you made him drunk last night?”

His lips quivered.

“Gyp!” Gyp turned. But with the merest change of front, he had put himself between her and the door. “You never loved him. That is my excuse. You have given him too much already–more than he is worth. Ah! God! I am tortured by you; I am possessed.”

He had gone white through and through like a flame, save for his smouldering eyes. She was afraid, and because she was afraid, she stood her ground. Should she make a dash for the door that opened into the little lane and escape that way? Then suddenly he seemed to regain control; but she could feel that he was trying to break through her defences by the sheer intensity of his gaze–by a kind of mesmerism, knowing that he had frightened her.

Under the strain of this duel of eyes, she felt herself beginning to sway, to get dizzy. Whether or no he really moved his feet, he seemed coming closer inch by inch. She had a horrible feeling–as if his arms were already round her.

With an effort, she wrenched her gaze from his, and suddenly his crisp hair caught her eyes. Surely–surely it was curled with tongs! A kind of spasm of amusement was set free in her heart, and, almost inaudibly, the words escaped her lips: “Une technique merveilleuse!” His eyes wavered; he uttered a little gasp; his lips fell apart. Gyp walked across the room and put her hand on the bell. She had lost her fear. Without a word, he turned, and went out into the garden. She watched him cross the lawn. Gone! She had beaten him by the one thing not even violent passions can withstand–ridicule, almost unconscious ridicule. Then she gave way and pulled the bell with nervous violence. The sight of the maid, in her trim black dress and spotless white apron, coming from the house completed her restoration. Was it possible that she had really been frightened, nearly failing in that encounter, nearly dominated by that man–in her own house, with her own maids down there at hand? And she said quietly:

“I want the puppies, please.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Over the garden, the day brooded in the first-gathered warmth of summer. Mid-June of a fine year. The air was drowsy with hum and scent.

And Gyp, sitting in the shade, while the puppies rolled and snapped, searched her little world for comfort and some sense of safety, and could not find it; as if there were all round her a hot heavy fog in which things lurked, and where she kept erect only by pride and the will not to cry out that she was struggling and afraid.

Fiorsen, leaving his house that morning, had walked till he saw a taxi-cab. Leaning back therein, with hat thrown off, he caused himself to be driven rapidly, at random. This was one of his habits when his mind was not at ease–an expensive idiosyncrasy, ill-afforded by a pocket that had holes. The swift motion and titillation by the perpetual close shaving of other vehicles were sedative to him. He needed sedatives this morning. To wake in his own bed without the least remembering how he had got there was no more new to him than to many another man of twenty-eight, but it was new since his marriage. If he had remembered even less he would have been more at ease. But he could just recollect standing in the dark drawing-room, seeing and touching a ghostly Gyp quite close to him. And, somehow, he was afraid. And when he was afraid–like most people–he was at his worst.

If she had been like all the other women in whose company he had eaten passion-fruit, he would not have felt this carking humiliation. If she had been like them, at the pace he had been going since he obtained possession of her, he would already have “finished,” as Rosek had said. And he knew well enough that he had not “finished.” He might get drunk, might be loose-ended in every way, but Gyp was hooked into his senses, and, for all that he could not get near her, into his spirit. Her very passivity was her strength, the secret of her magnetism. In her, he felt some of that mysterious sentiency of nature, which, even in yielding to man’s fevers, lies apart with a faint smile–the uncapturable smile of the woods and fields by day or night, that makes one ache with longing. He felt in her some of the unfathomable, soft, vibrating indifference of the flowers and trees and streams, of the rocks, of birdsongs, and the eternal hum, under sunshine or star-shine. Her dark, half-smiling eyes enticed him, inspired an unquenchable thirst. And his was one of those natures which, encountering spiritual difficulty, at once jib off, seek anodynes, try to bandage wounded egoism with excess–a spoiled child, with the desperations and the inherent pathos, the something repulsive and the something lovable that belong to all such. Having wished for this moon, and got her, he now did not know what to do with her, kept taking great bites at her, with a feeling all the time of getting further and further away. At moments, he desired revenge for his failure to get near her spiritually, and was ready to commit follies of all kinds. He was only kept in control at all by his work. For he did work hard; though, even there, something was lacking. He had all the qualities of making good, except the moral backbone holding them together, which alone could give him his rightful–as he thought–pre-eminence. It often surprised and vexed him to find that some contemporary held higher rank than himself.

Threading the streets in his cab, he mused:

“Did I do anything that really shocked her last night? Why didn’t I wait for her this morning and find out the worst?” And his lips twisted awry–for to find out the worst was not his forte. Meditation, seeking as usual a scapegoat, lighted on Rosek. Like most egoists addicted to women, he had not many friends. Rosek was the most constant. But even for him, Fiorsen had at once the contempt and fear that a man naturally uncontrolled and yet of greater scope has for one of less talent but stronger will-power. He had for him, too, the feeling of a wayward child for its nurse, mixed with the need that an artist, especially an executant artist, feels for a connoisseur and patron with well-lined pockets.

‘Curse Paul!’ he thought. ‘He must know–he does know–that brandy of his goes down like water. Trust him, he saw I was getting silly! He had some game on. Where did I go after? How did I get home?’ And again: ‘Did I hurt Gyp?’ If the servants had seen– that would be the worst; that would upset her fearfully! And he laughed. Then he had a fresh access of fear. He didn’t know her, never knew what she was thinking or feeling, never knew anything about her. And he thought angrily: ‘That’s not fair! I don’t hide myself from her. I am as free as nature; I let her see everything. What did I do? That maid looked very queerly at me this morning!’ And suddenly he said to the driver: “Bury Street, St. James’s.” He could find out, at all events, whether Gyp had been to her father’s. The thought of Winton ever afflicted him; and he changed his mind several times before the cab reached that little street, but so swiftly that he had not time to alter his instructions to the driver. A light sweat broke out on his forehead while he was waiting for the door to be opened.

“Mrs. Fiorsen here?”

“No, sir.”

“Not been here this morning?”

“No, sir.”

He shrugged away the thought that he ought to give some explanation of his question, and got into the cab again, telling the man to drive to Curzon Street. If she had not been to “that Aunt Rosamund” either it would be all right. She had not. There was no one else she would go to. And, with a sigh of relief, he began to feel hungry, having had no breakfast. He would go to Rosek’s, borrow the money to pay his cab, and lunch there. But Rosek was not in. He would have to go home to get the cab paid. The driver seemed to eye him queerly now, as though conceiving doubts about the fare.

Going in under the trellis, Fiorsen passed a man coming out, who held in his hand a long envelope and eyed him askance.

Gyp, who was sitting at her bureau, seemed to be adding up the counterfoils in her cheque-book. She did not turn round, and Fiorsen paused. How was she going to receive him?

“Is there any lunch?” he said.

She reached out and rang the bell. He felt sorry for himself. He had been quite ready to take her in his arms and say: “Forgive me, little Gyp; I’m sorry!”

Betty answered the bell.

“Please bring up some lunch for Mr. Fiorsen.”

He heard the stout woman sniff as she went out. She was a part of his ostracism. And, with sudden rage, he said:

“What do you want for a husband–a bourgeois who would die if he missed his lunch?”

Gyp turned round to him and held out her cheque-book.

“I don’t in the least mind about meals; but I do about this.” He read on the counterfoil:

“Messrs. Travers & Sanborn, Tailors, Account rendered: L54 35s. 7d.” “Are there many of these, Gustav?”

Fiorsen had turned the peculiar white that marked deep injury to his sell-esteem. He said violently:

“Well, what of that? A bill! Did you pay it? You have no business to pay my bills.”

“The man said if it wasn’t paid this time, he’d sue you.” Her lips quivered. “I think owing money is horrible. It’s undignified. Are there many others? Please tell me!”

“I shall not tell you. What is it to you?”

“It is a lot to me. I have to keep this house and pay the maids and everything, and I want to know how I stand. I am not going to make debts. That’s hateful.”

Her face had a hardness that he did not know. He perceived dimly that she was different from the Gyp of this hour yesterday–the last time when, in possession of his senses, he had seen or spoken to her. The novelty of her revolt stirred him in strange ways, wounded his self-conceit, inspired a curious fear, and yet excited his senses. He came up to her, said softly:

“Money! Curse money! Kiss me!” With a certain amazement at the sheer distaste in her face, he heard her say:

“It’s childish to curse money. I will spend all the income I have; but I will not spend more, and I will not ask Dad.”

He flung himself down in a chair.

“Ho! Ho! Virtue!”


He said gloomily:

“So you don’t believe in me. You don’t believe I can earn as much as I want–more than you have–any time? You never have believed in me.”

“I think you earn now as much as you are ever likely to earn.”

“That is what you think! I don’t want money–your money! I can live on nothing, any time. I have done it–often.”


He looked round and saw the maid in the doorway.

“Please, sir, the driver says can he have his fare, or do you want him again? Twelve shillings.”

Fiorsen stared at her a moment in the way that–as the maid often said–made you feel like a silly.

“No. Pay him.”

The girl glanced at Gyp, answered: “Yes, sir,” and went out.

Fiorsen laughed; he laughed, holding his sides. It was droll coming on the top of his assertion, too droll! And, looking up at her, he said:

“That was good, wasn’t it, Gyp?”

But her face had not abated its gravity; and, knowing that she was even more easily tickled by the incongruous than himself, he felt again that catch of fear. Something was different. Yes; something was really different.

“Did I hurt you last night?”

She shrugged her shoulders and went to the window. He looked at her darkly, jumped up, and swung out past her into the garden. And, almost at once, the sound of his violin, furiously played in the music-room, came across the lawn.

Gyp listened with a bitter smile. Money, too! But what did it matter? She could not get out of what she had done. She could never get out. Tonight he would kiss her; and she would pretend it was all right. And so it would go on and on! Well, it was her own fault. Taking twelve shillings from her purse, she put them aside on the bureau to give the maid. And suddenly she thought: ‘Perhaps he’ll get tired of me. If only he would get tired!’ That was a long way the furthest she had yet gone.


They who have known the doldrums–how the sails of the listless ship droop, and the hope of escape dies day by day–may understand something of the life Gyp began living now. On a ship, even doldrums come to an end. But a young woman of twenty-three, who has made a mistake in her marriage, and has only herself to blame, looks forward to no end, unless she be the new woman, which Gyp was not. Having settled that she would not admit failure, and clenched her teeth on the knowledge that she was going to have a child, she went on keeping things sealed up even from Winton. To Fiorsen, she managed to behave as usual, making material life easy and pleasant for him–playing for him, feeding him well, indulging his amorousness. It did not matter; she loved no one else. To count herself a martyr would be silly! Her malaise, successfully concealed, was deeper–of the spirit; the subtle utter discouragement of one who has done for herself, clipped her own wings.

As for Rosek, she treated him as if that little scene had never taken place. The idea of appealing to her husband in a difficulty was gone for ever since the night he came home drunk. And she did not dare to tell her father. He would–what would he not do? But she was always on her guard, knowing that Rosek would not forgive her for that dart of ridicule. His insinuations about Daphne Wing she put out of mind, as she never could have if she had loved Fiorsen. She set up for herself the idol of pride, and became its faithful worshipper. Only Winton, and perhaps Betty, could tell she was not happy. Fiorsen’s debts and irresponsibility about money did not worry her much, for she paid everything in the house– rent, wages, food, and her own dress–and had so far made ends meet; and what he did outside the house she could not help.

So the summer wore on till concerts were over, and it was supposed to be impossible to stay in London. But she dreaded going away. She wanted to be left quiet in her little house. It was this which made her tell Fiorsen her secret one night, after the theatre. He had begun to talk of a holiday, sitting on the edge of the settee, with a glass in his hand and a cigarette between his lips. His cheeks, white and hollow from too much London, went a curious dull red; he got up and stared at her. Gyp made an involuntary movement with her hands.

“You needn’t look at me. It’s true.”

He put down glass and cigarette and began to tramp the room. And Gyp stood with a little smile, not even watching him. Suddenly he clasped his forehead and broke out:

“But I don’t want it; I won’t have it–spoiling my Gyp.” Then quickly going up to her with a scared face: “I don’t want it; I’m afraid of it. Don’t have it.”

In Gyp’s heart came the same feeling as when he had stood there drunk, against the wall–compassion, rather than contempt of his childishness. And taking his hand she said:

“All right, Gustav. It shan’t bother you. When I begin to get ugly, I’ll go away with Betty till it’s over.”

He went down on his knees.

“Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! My beautiful Gyp!”

And Gyp sat like a sphinx, for fear that she too might let slip those words: “Oh, no!”

The windows were open, and moths had come in. One had settled on the hydrangea plant that filled the hearth. Gyp looked at the soft, white, downy thing, whose head was like a tiny owl’s against the bluish petals; looked at the purple-grey tiles down there, and the stuff of her own frock, in the shaded gleam of the lamps. And all her love of beauty rebelled, called up by his: “Oh, no!” She would be unsightly soon, and suffer pain, and perhaps die of it, as her own mother had died. She set her teeth, listening to that grown-up child revolting against what he had brought on her, and touched his hand, protectingly.

It interested, even amused her this night and next day to watch his treatment of the disconcerting piece of knowledge. For when at last he realized that he had to acquiesce in nature, he began, as she had known he would, to jib away from all reminder of it. She was careful not to suggest that he should go away without her, knowing his perversity. But when he proposed that she should come to Ostend with him and Rosek, she answered, after seeming deliberation, that she thought she had better not–she would rather stay at home quite quietly; but he must certainly go and get a good holiday.

When he was really gone, peace fell on Gyp–peace such as one feels, having no longer the tight, banded sensations of a fever. To be without that strange, disorderly presence in the house! When she woke in the sultry silence of the next morning, she utterly failed to persuade herself that she was missing him, missing the sound of his breathing, the sight of his rumpled hair on the pillow, the outline of his long form under the sheet. Her heart was devoid of any emptiness or ache; she only felt how pleasant and cool and tranquil it was to lie there alone. She stayed quite late in bed. It was delicious, with window and door wide open and the puppies running in and out, to lie and doze off, or listen to the pigeons’ cooing, and the distant sounds of traffic, and feel in command once more of herself, body and soul. Now that she had told Fiorsen, she had no longer any desire to keep her condition secret. Feeling that it would hurt her father to learn of it from anyone but herself, she telephoned to tell him she was alone, and asked if she might come to Bury Street and dine with him.

Winton had not gone away, because, between Goodwood and Doncaster there was no racing that he cared for; one could not ride at this time of year, so might just as well be in London. In fact, August was perhaps the pleasantest of all months in town; the club was empty, and he could sit there without some old bore buttonholing him. Little Boncarte, the fencing-master, was always free for a bout–Winton had long learned to make his left hand what his right hand used to be; the Turkish baths in Jermyn Street were nearly void of their fat clients; he could saunter over to Covent Garden, buy a melon, and carry it home without meeting any but the most inferior duchesses in Piccadilly; on warm nights he could stroll the streets or the parks, smoking his cigar, his hat pushed back to cool his forehead, thinking vague thoughts, recalling vague memories. He received the news that his daughter was alone and free from that fellow with something like delight. Where should he dine her? Mrs. Markey was on her holiday. Why not Blafard’s? Quiet—small rooms–not too respectable–quite fairly cool–good things to eat. Yes; Blafard’s!

When she drove up, he was ready in the doorway, his thin brown face with its keen, half-veiled eyes the picture of composure, but feeling at heart like a schoolboy off for an exeat. How pretty she was looking–though pale from London–her dark eyes, her smile! And stepping quickly to the cab, he said:

“No; I’m getting in–dining at Blafard’s, Gyp–a night out!”

It gave him a thrill to walk into that little restaurant behind her; and passing through its low red rooms to mark the diners turn and stare with envy–taking him, perhaps, for a different sort of relation. He settled her into a far corner by a window, where she could see the people and be seen. He wanted her to be seen; while he himself turned to the world only the short back wings of his glossy greyish hair. He had no notion of being disturbed in his enjoyment by the sight of Hivites and Amorites, or whatever they might be, lapping champagne and shining in the heat. For, secretly, he was living not only in this evening but in a certain evening of the past, when, in this very corner, he had dined with her mother. HIS face then had borne the brunt; hers had been turned away from inquisition. But he did not speak of this to Gyp.

She drank two full glasses of wine before she told him her news. He took it with the expression she knew so well–tightening his lips and staring a little upward. Then he said quietly:


“November, Dad.”

A shudder, not to be repressed, went through Winton. The very month! And stretching his hand across the table, he took hers and pressed it tightly.

“It’ll be all right, child; I’m glad.”

Clinging to his hand, Gyp murmured:

“I’m not; but I won’t be frightened–I promise.”

Each was trying to deceive the other; and neither was deceived. But both were good at putting a calm face on things. Besides, this was “a night out”–for her, the first since her marriage–of freedom, of feeling somewhat as she used to feel with all before her in a ballroom of a world; for him, the unfettered resumption of a dear companionship and a stealthy revel in the past. After his, “So he’s gone to Ostend?” and his thought: ‘He would!’ they never alluded to Fiorsen, but talked of horses, of Mildenham–it seemed to Gyp years since she had been there–of her childish escapades. And, looking at him quizzically, she asked:

“What were you like as a boy, Dad? Aunt Rosamund says that you used to get into white rages when nobody could go near you. She says you were always climbing trees, or shooting with a catapult, or stalking things, and that you never told anybody what you didn’t want to tell them. And weren’t you desperately in love with your nursery-governess?”

Winton smiled. How long since he had thought of that first affection. Miss Huntley! Helena Huntley–with crinkly brown hair, and blue eyes, and fascinating frocks! He remembered with what grief and sense of bitter injury he heard in his first school- holidays that she was gone. And he said:

“Yes, yes. By Jove, what a time ago! And my father’s going off to India. He never came back; killed in that first Afghan business. When I was fond, I WAS fond. But I didn’t feel things like you– not half so sensitive. No; not a bit like you, Gyp.”

And watching her unconscious eyes following the movements of the waiters, never staring, but taking in all that was going on, he thought: ‘Prettiest creature in the world!’