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suffer too much.’

She sat on that bench a long time before it came into her mind that she was due at Monsieur Harmost’s for a music lesson at three o’clock. It was well past two already; and she set out across the grass. The summer day was full of murmurings of bees and flies, cooings of blissful pigeons, the soft swish and stir of leaves, and the scent of lime blossom under a sky so blue, with few white clouds slow, and calm, and full. Why be unhappy? And one of those spotty spaniel dogs, that have broad heads, with frizzy topknots, and are always rascals, smelt at her frock and moved round and round her, hoping that she would throw her sunshade on the water for him to fetch, this being in his view the only reason why anything was carried in the hand.

She found Monsieur Harmost fidgeting up and down the room, whose opened windows could not rid it of the smell of latakia.

“Ah,” he said, “I thought you were not coming! You look pale; are you not well? Is it the heat? Or”–he looked hard into her face– “has someone hurt you, my little friend?” Gyp shook her head. “Ah, yes,” he went on irritably; “you tell me nothing; you tell nobody nothing! You close up your pretty face like a flower at night. At your age, my child, one should make confidences; a secret grief is to music as the east wind to the stomach. Put off your mask for once.” He came close to her. “Tell me your troubles. It is a long time since I have been meaning to ask. Come! We are only once young; I want to see you happy.”

But Gyp stood looking down. Would it be relief to pour her soul out? Would it? His brown eyes questioned her like an old dog’s. She did not want to hurt one so kind. And yet–impossible!

Monsieur Harmost suddenly sat down at the piano. Resting his hands on the keys, he looked round at her, and said:

“I am in love with you, you know. Old men can be very much in love, but they know it is no good–that makes them endurable. Still, we like to feel of use to youth and beauty; it gives us a little warmth. Come; tell me your grief!” He waited a moment, then said irritably: “Well, well, we go to music then!”

It was his habit to sit by her at the piano corner, but to-day he stood as if prepared to be exceptionally severe. And Gyp played, whether from overexcited nerves or from not having had any lunch, better than she had ever played. The Chopin polonaise in A flat, that song of revolution, which had always seemed so unattainable, went as if her fingers were being worked for her. When she had finished, Monsieur Harmost, bending forward, lifted one of her hands and put his lips to it. She felt the scrub of his little bristly beard, and raised her face with a deep sigh of satisfaction. A voice behind them said mockingly:


There, by the door, stood Fiorsen.

“Congratulations, madame! I have long wanted to see you under the inspiration of your–master!”

Gyp’s heart began to beat desperately. Monsieur Harmost had not moved. A faint grin slowly settled in his beard, but his eyes were startled.

Fiorsen kissed the back of his own hand.

“To this old Pantaloon you come to give your heart. Ho–what a lover!”

Gyp saw the old man quiver; she sprang up and cried:

“You brute!”

Fiorsen ran forward, stretching out his arms toward Monsieur Harmost, as if to take him by the throat.

The old man drew himself up. “Monsieur,” he said, “you are certainly drunk.”

Gyp slipped between, right up to those outstretched hands till she could feel their knuckles against her. Had he gone mad? Would he strangle her? But her eyes never moved from his, and his began to waver; his hands dropped, and, with a kind of moan, he made for the door.

Monsieur Harmost’s voice behind her said:

“Before you go, monsieur, give me some explanation of this imbecility!”

Fiorsen spun round, shook his fist, and went out muttering. They heard the front door slam. Gyp turned abruptly to the window, and there, in her agitation, she noticed little outside things as one does in moments of bewildered anger. Even into that back yard, summer had crept. The leaves of the sumach-tree were glistening; in a three-cornered little patch of sunlight, a black cat with a blue ribbon round its neck was basking. The voice of one hawking strawberries drifted melancholy from a side street. She was conscious that Monsieur Harmost was standing very still, with a hand pressed to his mouth, and she felt a perfect passion of compunction and anger. That kind and harmless old man–to be so insulted! This was indeed the culmination of all Gustav’s outrages! She would never forgive him this! For he had insulted her as well, beyond what pride or meekness could put up with. She turned, and, running up to the old man, put both her hands into his.

“I’m so awfully sorry. Good-bye, dear, dear Monsieur Harmost; I shall come on Friday!” And, before he could stop her, she was gone.

She dived into the traffic; but, just as she reached the pavement on the other side, felt her dress plucked and saw Fiorsen just behind her. She shook herself free and walked swiftly on. Was he going to make a scene in the street? Again he caught her arm. She stopped dead, faced round on him, and said, in an icy voice:

“Please don’t make scenes in the street, and don’t follow me like this. If you want to talk to me, you can–at home.”

Then, very calmly, she turned and walked on. But he was still following her, some paces off. She did not quicken her steps, and to the first taxicab driver that passed she made a sign, and saying:

“Bury Street–quick!” got in. She saw Fiorsen rush forward, too late to stop her. He threw up his hand and stood still, his face deadly white under his broad-brimmed hat. She was far too angry and upset to care.

From the moment she turned to the window at Monsieur Harmost’s, she had determined to go to her father’s. She would not go back to Fiorsen; and the one thought that filled her mind was how to get Betty and her baby. Nearly four! Dad was almost sure to be at his club. And leaning out, she said: “No; Hyde Park Corner, please.”

The hall porter, who knew her, after calling to a page-boy: “Major Winton–sharp, now!” came specially out of his box to offer her a seat and The Times.

Gyp sat with it on her knee, vaguely taking in her surroundings–a thin old gentleman anxiously weighing himself in a corner, a white- calved footman crossing with a tea-tray; a number of hats on pegs; the green-baize board with its white rows of tapelike paper, and three members standing before it. One of them, a tall, stout, good-humoured-looking man in pince-nez and a white waistcoat, becoming conscious, removed his straw hat and took up a position whence, without staring, he could gaze at her; and Gyp knew, without ever seeming to glance at him, that he found her to his liking. She saw her father’s unhurried figure passing that little group, all of whom were conscious now, and eager to get away out of this sanctum of masculinity, she met him at the top of the low steps, and said:

“I want to talk to you, Dad.”

He gave her a quick look, selected his hat, and followed to the door. In the cab, he put his hand on hers and said:

“Now, my dear?”

But all she could get out was:

“I want to come back to you. I can’t go on there. It’s–it’s– I’ve come to an end.”

His hand pressed hers tightly, as if he were trying to save her the need for saying more. Gyp went on:

“I must get baby; I’m terrified that he’ll try to keep her, to get me back.”

“Is he at home?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t told him that I’m going to leave him.”

Winton looked at his watch and asked:

“Does the baby ever go out as late as this?”

“Yes; after tea. It’s cooler.”

“I’ll take this cab on, then. You stay and get the room ready for her. Don’t worry, and don’t go out till I return.”

And Gyp thought: ‘How wonderful of him not to have asked a single question.’

The cab stopped at the Bury Street door. She took his hand, put it to her cheek, and got out. He said quietly:

“Do you want the dogs?”

“Yes–oh, yes! He doesn’t care for them.”

“All right. There’ll be time to get you in some things for the night after I come back. I shan’t run any risks to-day. Make Mrs. Markey give you tea.”

Gyp watched the cab gather way again, saw him wave his hand; then, with a deep sigh, half anxiety, half relief, she rang the bell.


When the cab debouched again into St. James’ Street, Winton gave the order: “Quick as you can!” One could think better going fast! A little red had come into his brown cheeks; his eyes under their half-drawn lids had a keener light; his lips were tightly closed; he looked as he did when a fox was breaking cover. Gyp could do no wrong, or, if she could, he would stand by her in it as a matter of course. But he was going to take no risks–make no frontal attack. Time for that later, if necessary. He had better nerves than most people, and that kind of steely determination and resource which makes many Englishmen of his class formidable in small operations. He kept his cab at the door, rang, and asked for Gyp, with a kind of pleasure in his ruse.

“She’s not in yet, sir. Mr. Fiorsen’s in.”

“Ah! And baby?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll come in and see her. In the garden?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dogs there, too?”

“Yes, sir. And will you have tea, please, sir?”

“No, thanks.” How to effect this withdrawal without causing gossip, and yet avoid suspicion of collusion with Gyp? And he added: “Unless Mrs. Fiorsen comes in.”

Passing out into the garden, he became aware that Fiorsen was at the dining-room window watching him, and decided to make no sign that he knew this. The baby was under the trees at the far end, and the dogs came rushing thence with a fury which lasted till they came within scent of him. Winton went leisurely up to the perambulator, and, saluting Betty, looked down at his grandchild. She lay under an awning of muslin, for fear of flies, and was awake. Her solemn, large brown eyes, already like Gyp’s, regarded him with gravity. Clucking to her once or twice, as is the custom, he moved so as to face the house. In this position, he had Betty with her back to it. And he said quietly:

“I’m here with a message from your mistress, Betty. Keep your head; don’t look round, but listen to me. She’s at Bury Street and going to stay there; she wants you and baby and the dogs.” The stout woman’s eyes grew round and her mouth opened. Winton put his hand on the perambulator. “Steady, now! Go out as usual with this thing. It’s about your time; and wait for me at the turning to Regent’s Park. I’ll come on in my cab and pick you all up. Don’t get flurried; don’t take anything; do exactly as you usually would. Understand?”

It is not in the nature of stout women with babies in their charge to receive such an order without question. Her colour, and the heaving of that billowy bosom made Winton add quickly:

“Now, Betty, pull yourself together; Gyp wants you. I’ll tell you all about it in the cab.”

The poor woman, still heaving vaguely, could only stammer:

“Yes, sir. Poor little thing! What about its night-things? And Miss Gyp’s?”

Conscious of that figure still at the window, Winton made some passes with his fingers at the baby, and said:

“Never mind them. As soon as you see me at the drawing-room window, get ready and go. Eyes front, Betty; don’t look round; I’ll cover your retreat! Don’t fail Gyp now. Pull yourself together.”

With a sigh that could have been heard in Kensington, Betty murmured: “Very well, sir; oh dear!” and began to adjust the strings of her bonnet. With nods, as if he had been the recipient of some sage remarks about the baby, Winton saluted, and began his march again towards the house. He carefully kept his eyes to this side and to that, as if examining the flowers, but noted all the same that Fiorsen had receded from the window. Rapid thought told him that the fellow would come back there to see if he were gone, and he placed himself before a rose-bush, where, at that reappearance, he could make a sign of recognition. Sure enough, he came; and Winton quietly raising his hand to the salute passed on through the drawing-room window. He went quickly into the hall, listened a second, and opened the dining-room door. Fiorsen was pacing up and down, pale and restless. He came to a standstill and stared haggardly at Winton, who said:

“How are you? Gyp not in?”


Something in the sound of that “No” touched Winton with a vague–a very vague–compunction. To be left by Gyp! Then his heart hardened again. The fellow was a rotter–he was sure of it, had always been sure.

“Baby looks well,” he said.

Fiorsen turned and began to pace up and down again.

“Where is Gyp? I want her to come in. I want her.”

Winton took out his watch.

“It’s not late.” And suddenly he felt a great aversion for the part he was playing. To get the baby; to make Gyp safe–yes! But, somehow, not this pretence that he knew nothing about it. He turned on his heel and walked out. It imperilled everything; but he couldn’t help it. He could not stay and go on prevaricating like this. Had that woman got clear? He went back into the drawing-room. There they were–just passing the side of the house. Five minutes, and they would be down at the turning. He stood at the window, waiting. If only that fellow did not come in! Through the partition wall he could hear him still tramping up and down the dining-room. What a long time a minute was! Three had gone when he heard the dining-room door opened, and Fiorsen crossing the hall to the front door. What was he after, standing there as if listening? And suddenly he heard him sigh. It was just such a sound as many times, in the long-past days, had escaped himself, waiting, listening for footsteps, in parched and sickening anxiety. Did this fellow then really love–almost as he had loved? And in revolt at spying on him like this, he advanced and said:

“Well, I won’t wait any longer.”

Fiorsen started; he had evidently supposed himself alone. And Winton thought: ‘By Jove! he does look bad!’

“Good-bye!” he said; but the words: “Give my love to Gyp,” perished on their way up to his lips.

“Good-bye!” Fiorsen echoed. And Winton went out under the trellis, conscious of that forlorn figure still standing at the half-opened door. Betty was nowhere in sight; she must have reached the turning. His mission had succeeded, but he felt no elation. Round the corner, he picked up his convoy, and, with the perambulator hoisted on to the taxi, journeyed on at speed. He had said he would explain in the cab, but the only remark he made was:

“You’ll all go down to Mildenham to-morrow.”

And Betty, who had feared him ever since their encounter so many years ago, eyed his profile, without daring to ask questions. Before he reached home, Winton stopped at a post-office, and sent this telegram:

“Gyp and the baby are with me letter follows.–WINTON.”

It salved a conscience on which that fellow’s figure in the doorway weighed; besides, it was necessary, lest Fiorsen should go to the police. The rest must wait till he had talked with Gyp.

There was much to do, and it was late before they dined, and not till Markey had withdrawn could they begin their talk.

Close to the open windows where Markey had placed two hydrangea plants–just bought on his own responsibility, in token of silent satisfaction–Gyp began. She kept nothing back, recounting the whole miserable fiasco of her marriage. When she came to Daphne Wing and her discovery in the music-room, she could see the glowing end of her father’s cigar move convulsively. That insult to his adored one seemed to Winton so inconceivable that, for a moment, he stopped her recital by getting up to pace the room. In her own house–her own house! And–after that, she had gone on with him! He came back to his chair and did not interrupt again, but his stillness almost frightened her.

Coming to the incidents of the day itself, she hesitated. Must she tell him, too, of Rosek–was it wise, or necessary? The all-or- nothing candour that was part of her nature prevailed, and she went straight on, and, save for the feverish jerking of his evening shoe, Winton made no sign. When she had finished, he got up and slowly extinguished the end of his cigar against the window-sill; then looking at her lying back in her chair as if exhausted, he said: “By God!” and turned his face away to the window.

At that hour before the theatres rose, a lull brooded in the London streets; in this quiet narrow one, the town’s hum was only broken by the clack of a half-drunken woman bickering at her man as they lurched along for home, and the strains of a street musician’s fiddle, trying to make up for a blank day. The sound vaguely irritated Winton, reminding him of those two damnable foreigners by whom she had been so treated. To have them at the point of a sword or pistol–to teach them a lesson! He heard her say:

“Dad, I should like to pay his debts. Then things would be as they were when I married him.”

He emitted an exasperated sound. He did not believe in heaping coals of fire.

“I want to make sure, too, that the girl is all right till she’s over her trouble. Perhaps I could use some of that–that other money, if mine is all tied up?”

It was sheer anger, not disapproval of her impulse, that made him hesitate; money and revenge would never be associated in his mind. Gyp went on:

“I want to feel as if I’d never let him marry me. Perhaps his debts are all part of that–who knows? Please!”

Winton looked at her. How like–when she said that “Please!” How like–her figure sunk back in the old chair, and the face lifted in shadow! A sort of exultation came to him. He had got her back– had got her back!


Fiorsen’s bedroom was–as the maid would remark–“a proper pigsty”– until he was out of it and it could be renovated each day. He had a talent for disorder, so that the room looked as if three men instead of one had gone to bed in it. Clothes and shoes, brushes, water, tumblers, breakfast-tray, newspapers, French novels, and cigarette-ends–none were ever where they should have been; and the stale fumes from the many cigarettes he smoked before getting up incommoded anyone whose duty it was to take him tea and shaving- water. When, on that first real summer day, the maid had brought Rosek up to him, he had been lying a long time on his back, dreamily watching the smoke from his cigarette and four flies waltzing in the sunlight that filtered through the green sun- blinds. This hour, before he rose, was his creative moment, when he could best see the form of music and feel inspiration for its rendering. Of late, he had been stale and wretched, all that side of him dull; but this morning he felt again the delicious stir of fancy, that vibrating, half-dreamy state when emotion seems so easily to find shape and the mind pierces through to new expression. Hearing the maid’s knock, and her murmured: “Count Rosek to see you, sir,” he thought: ‘What the devil does he want?’ A larger nature, drifting without control, in contact with a smaller one, who knows his own mind exactly, will instinctively be irritable, though he may fail to grasp what his friend is after.

And pushing the cigarette-box toward Rosek, he turned away his head. It would be money he had come about, or–that girl! That girl–he wished she was dead! Soft, clinging creature! A baby! God! What a fool he had been–ah, what a fool! Such absurdity! Unheard of! First Gyp–then her! He had tried to shake the girl off. As well try to shake off a burr! How she clung! He had been patient–oh, yes–patient and kind, but how go on when one was tired–tired of her–and wanting only Gyp, only his own wife? That was a funny thing! And now, when, for an hour or two, he had shaken free of worry, had been feeling happy–yes, happy–this fellow must come, and stand there with his face of a sphinx! And he said pettishly:

“Well, Paul! sit down. What troubles have you brought?”

Rosek lit a cigarette but did not sit down. He struck even Fiorsen by his unsmiling pallor.

“You had better look out for Mr. Wagge, Gustav; he came to me yesterday. He has no music in his soul.”

Fiorsen sat up.

“Satan take Mr. Wagge! What can he do?”

“I am not a lawyer, but I imagine he can be unpleasant–the girl is young.”

Fiorsen glared at him, and said:

“Why did you throw me that cursed girl?”

Rosek answered, a little too steadily:

“I did not, my friend.”

“What! You did. What was your game? You never do anything without a game. You know you did. Come; what was your game?”

“You like pleasure, I believe.”

Fiorsen said violently:

“Look here: I have done with your friendship–you are no friend to me. I have never really known you, and I should not wish to. It is finished. Leave me in peace.”

Rosek smiled.

“My dear, that is all very well, but friendships are not finished like that. Moreover, you owe me a thousand pounds.”

“Well, I will pay it.” Rosek’s eyebrows mounted. “I will. Gyp will lend it to me.”

“Oh! Is Gyp so fond of you as that? I thought she only loved her music-lessons.”

Crouching forward with his knees drawn up, Fiorsen hissed out:

“Don’t talk of Gyp! Get out of this! I will pay you your thousand pounds.”

Rosek, still smiling, answered:

“Gustav, don’t be a fool! With a violin to your shoulder, you are a man. Without–you are a child. Lie quiet, my friend, and think of Mr. Wagge. But you had better come and talk it over with me. Good-bye for the moment. Calm yourself.” And, flipping the ash off his cigarette on to the tray by Fiorsen’s elbow, he nodded and went.

Fiorsen, who had leaped out of bed, put his hand to his head. The cursed fellow! Cursed be every one of them–the father and the girl, Rosek and all the other sharks! He went out on to the landing. The house was quite still below. Rosek had gone–good riddance! He called, “Gyp!” No answer. He went into her room. Its superlative daintiness struck his fancy. A scent of cyclamen! He looked out into the garden. There was the baby at the end, and that fat woman. No Gyp! Never in when she was wanted. Wagge! He shivered; and, going back into his bedroom, took a brandy-bottle from a locked cupboard and drank some. It steadied him; he locked up the cupboard again, and dressed.

Going out to the music-room, he stopped under the trees to make passes with his fingers at the baby. Sometimes he felt that it was an adorable little creature, with its big, dark eyes so like Gyp’s. Sometimes it excited his disgust–a discoloured brat. This morning, while looking at it, he thought suddenly of the other that was coming–and grimaced. Catching Betty’s stare of horrified amazement at the face he was making at her darling, he burst into a laugh and turned away into the music-room.

While he was keying up his violin, Gyp’s conduct in never having come there for so long struck him as bitterly unjust. The girl– who cared about the wretched girl? As if she made any real difference! It was all so much deeper than that. Gyp had never loved him, never given him what he wanted, never quenched his thirst of her! That was the heart of it. No other woman he had ever had to do with had been like that–kept his thirst unquenched. No; he had always tired of them before they tired of him. She gave him nothing really–nothing! Had she no heart or did she give it elsewhere? What was that Paul had said about her music-lessons? And suddenly it struck him that he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, of where she went or what she did. She never told him anything. Music-lessons? Every day, nearly, she went out, was away for hours. The thought that she might go to the arms of another man made him put down his violin with a feeling of actual sickness. Why not? That deep and fearful whipping of the sexual instinct which makes the ache of jealousy so truly terrible was at its full in such a nature as Fiorsen’s. He drew a long breath and shuddered. The remembrance of her fastidious pride, her candour, above all her passivity cut in across his fear. No, not Gyp!

He went to a little table whereon stood a tantalus, tumblers, and a syphon, and pouring out some brandy, drank. It steadied him. And he began to practise. He took a passage from Brahms’ violin concerto and began to play it over and over. Suddenly, he found he was repeating the same flaws each time; he was not attending. The fingering of that thing was ghastly! Music-lessons! Why did she take them? Waste of time and money–she would never be anything but an amateur! Ugh! Unconsciously, he had stopped playing. Had she gone there to-day? It was past lunch-time. Perhaps she had come in.

He put down his violin and went back to the house. No sign of her! The maid came to ask if he would lunch. No! Was the mistress to be in? She had not said. He went into the dining-room, ate a biscuit, and drank a brandy and soda. It steadied him. Lighting a cigarette, he came back to the drawing-room and sat down at Gyp’s bureau. How tidy! On the little calendar, a pencil-cross was set against to-day–Wednesday, another against Friday. What for? Music-lessons! He reached to a pigeon-hole, and took out her address-book. “H–Harmost, 305A, Marylebone Road,” and against it the words in pencil, “3 P.M.”

Three o’clock. So that was her hour! His eyes rested idly on a little old coloured print of a Bacchante, with flowing green scarf, shaking a tambourine at a naked Cupid, who with a baby bow and arrow in his hands, was gazing up at her. He turned it over; on the back was written in a pointed, scriggly hand, “To my little friend.–E. H.” Fiorsen drew smoke deep down into his lungs, expelled it slowly, and went to the piano. He opened it and began to play, staring vacantly before him, the cigarette burned nearly to his lips. He went on, scarcely knowing what he played. At last he stopped, and sat dejected. A great artist? Often, nowadays, he did not care if he never touched a violin again. Tired of standing up before a sea of dull faces, seeing the blockheads knock their silly hands one against the other! Sick of the sameness of it all! Besides–besides, were his powers beginning to fail? What was happening to him of late?

He got up, went into the dining-room, and drank some brandy. Gyp could not bear his drinking. Well, she shouldn’t be out so much– taking music-lessons. Music-lessons! Nearly three o’clock. If he went for once and saw what she really did–Went, and offered her his escort home! An attention. It might please her. Better, anyway, than waiting here until she chose to come in with her face all closed up. He drank a little more brandy–ever so little–took his hat and went. Not far to walk, but the sun was hot, and he reached the house feeling rather dizzy. A maid-servant opened the door to him.

“I am Mr. Fiorsen. Mrs. Fiorsen here?”

“Yes, sir; will you wait?”

Why did she look at him like that? Ugly girl! How hateful ugly people were! When she was gone, he reopened the door of the waiting-room, and listened.

Chopin! The polonaise in A flat. Good! Could that be Gyp? Very good! He moved out, down the passage, drawn on by her playing, and softly turned the handle. The music stopped. He went in.

When Winton had left him, an hour and a half later that afternoon, Fiorsen continued to stand at the front door, swaying his body to and fro. The brandy-nurtured burst of jealousy which had made him insult his wife and old Monsieur Harmost had died suddenly when Gyp turned on him in the street and spoke in that icy voice; since then he had felt fear, increasing every minute. Would she forgive? To one who always acted on the impulse of the moment, so that he rarely knew afterward exactly what he had done, or whom hurt, Gyp’s self-control had ever been mysterious and a little frightening. Where had she gone? Why did she not come in? Anxiety is like a ball that rolls down-hill, gathering momentum. Suppose she did not come back! But she must–there was the baby–their baby!

For the first time, the thought of it gave him unalloyed satisfaction. He left the door, and, after drinking a glass to steady him, flung himself down on the sofa in the drawing-room. And while he lay there, the brandy warm within him, he thought: ‘I will turn over a new leaf; give up drink, give up everything, send the baby into the country, take Gyp to Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome– anywhere out of this England, anywhere, away from that father of hers and all these stiff, dull folk! She will like that–she loves travelling!’ Yes, they would be happy! Delicious nights– delicious days–air that did not weigh you down and make you feel that you must drink–real inspiration–real music! The acrid wood- smoke scent of Paris streets, the glistening cleanness of the Thiergarten, a serenading song in a Florence back street, fireflies in the summer dusk at Sorrento–he had intoxicating memories of them all! Slowly the warmth of the brandy died away, and, despite the heat, he felt chill and shuddery. He shut his eyes, thinking to sleep till she came in. But very soon he opened them, because– a thing usual with him of late–he saw such ugly things–faces, vivid, changing as he looked, growing ugly and uglier, becoming all holes–holes–horrible holes–Corruption–matted, twisted, dark human-tree-roots of faces! Horrible! He opened his eyes, for when he did that, they always went. It was very silent. No sound from above. No sound of the dogs. He would go up and see the baby.

While he was crossing the hall, there came a ring. He opened the door himself. A telegram! He tore the envelope.

“Gyp and the baby are with me letter follows.–WINTON.”

He gave a short laugh, shut the door in the boy’s face, and ran up- stairs; why–heaven knew! There was nobody there now! Nobody! Did it mean that she had really left him–was not coming back? He stopped by the side of Gyp’s bed, and flinging himself forward, lay across it, burying his face. And he sobbed, as men will, unmanned by drink. Had he lost her? Never to see her eyes closing and press his lips against them! Never to soak his senses in her loveliness! He leaped up, with the tears still wet on his face. Lost her? Absurd! That calm, prim, devilish Englishman, her father–he was to blame–he had worked it all–stealing the baby!

He went down-stairs and drank some brandy. It steadied him a little. What should he do? “Letter follows.” Drink, and wait? Go to Bury Street? No. Drink! Enjoy himself!

He laughed, and, catching up his hat, went out, walking furiously at first, then slower and slower, for his head began to whirl, and, taking a cab, was driven to a restaurant in Soho. He had eaten nothing but a biscuit since his breakfast, always a small matter, and ordered soup and a flask of their best Chianti–solids he could not face. More than two hours he sat, white and silent, perspiration on his forehead, now and then grinning and flourishing his fingers, to the amusement and sometimes the alarm of those sitting near. But for being known there, he would have been regarded with suspicion. About half-past nine, there being no more wine, he got up, put a piece of gold on the table, and went out without waiting for his change.

In the streets, the lamps were lighted, but daylight was not quite gone. He walked unsteadily, toward Piccadilly. A girl of the town passed and looked up at him. Staring hard, he hooked his arm in hers without a word; it steadied him, and they walked on thus together. Suddenly he said:

“Well, girl, are you happy?” The girl stopped and tried to disengage her arm; a rather frightened look had come into her dark- eyed powdered face. Fiorsen laughed, and held it firm. “When the unhappy meet, they walk together. Come on! You are just a little like my wife. Will you have a drink?”

The girl shook her head, and, with a sudden movement, slipped her arm out of this madman’s and dived away like a swallow through the pavement traffic. Fiorsen stood still and laughed with his head thrown back. The second time to-day. SHE had slipped from his grasp. Passers looked at him, amazed. The ugly devils! And with a grimace, he turned out of Piccadilly, past St. James’s Church, making for Bury Street. They wouldn’t let him in, of course–not they! But he would look at the windows; they had flower-boxes– flower-boxes! And, suddenly, he groaned aloud–he had thought of Gyp’s figure busy among the flowers at home. Missing the right turning, he came in at the bottom of the street. A fiddler in the gutter was scraping away on an old violin. Fiorsen stopped to listen. Poor devil! “Pagliacci!” Going up to the man–dark, lame, very shabby, he took out some silver, and put his other hand on the man’s shoulder.

“Brother,” he said, “lend me your fiddle. Here’s money for you. Come; lend it to me. I am a great violinist.”

“Vraiment, monsieur!”

“Ah! Vraiment! Voyons! Donnez–un instant–vous verrez.”

The fiddler, doubting but hypnotized, handed him the fiddle; his dark face changed when he saw this stranger fling it up to his shoulder and the ways of his fingers with bow and strings. Fiorsen had begun to walk up the street, his eyes searching for the flower- boxes. He saw them, stopped, and began playing “Che faro?” He played it wonderfully on that poor fiddle; and the fiddler, who had followed at his elbow, stood watching him, uneasy, envious, but a little entranced. Sapristi! This tall, pale monsieur with the strange face and the eyes that looked drunk and the hollow chest, played like an angel! Ah, but it was not so easy as all that to make money in the streets of this sacred town! You might play like forty angels and not a copper! He had begun another tune–like little pluckings at your heart–tres joli–tout a fait ecoeurant! Ah, there it was–a monsieur as usual closing the window, drawing the curtains! Always same thing! The violin and the bow were thrust back into his hands; and the tall strange monsieur was off as if devils were after him–not badly drunk, that one! And not a sou thrown down! With an uneasy feeling that he had been involved in something that he did not understand, the lame, dark fiddler limped his way round the nearest corner, and for two streets at least did not stop. Then, counting the silver Fiorsen had put into his hand and carefully examining his fiddle, he used the word, “Bigre!” and started for home.


Gyp hardly slept at all. Three times she got up, and, stealing to the door, looked in at her sleeping baby, whose face in its new bed she could just see by the night-light’s glow. The afternoon had shaken her nerves. Nor was Betty’s method of breathing while asleep conducive to the slumber of anything but babies. It was so hot, too, and the sound of the violin still in her ears. By that little air of Poise, she had known for certain it was Fiorsen; and her father’s abrupt drawing of the curtains had clinched that certainty. If she had gone to the window and seen him, she would not have been half so deeply disturbed as she was by that echo of an old emotion. The link which yesterday she thought broken for good was reforged in some mysterious way. The sobbing of that old fiddle had been his way of saying, “Forgive me; forgive!” To leave him would have been so much easier if she had really hated him; but she did not. However difficult it may be to live with an artist, to hate him is quite as difficult. An artist is so flexible–only the rigid can be hated. She hated the things he did, and him when he was doing them; but afterward again could hate him no more than she could love him, and that was–not at all. Resolution and a sense of the practical began to come back with daylight. When things were hopeless, it was far better to recognize it and harden one’s heart.

Winton, whose night had been almost as sleepless–to play like a beggar in the street, under his windows, had seemed to him the limit!–announced at breakfast that he must see his lawyer, make arrangements for the payment of Fiorsen’s debts, and find out what could be done to secure Gyp against persecution. Some deed was probably necessary; he was vague on all such matters. In the meantime, neither Gyp nor the baby must go out. Gyp spent the morning writing and rewriting to Monsieur Harmost, trying to express her chagrin, but not saying that she had left Fiorsen.

Her father came back from Westminster quiet and angry. He had with difficulty been made to understand that the baby was Fiorsen’s property, so that, if the fellow claimed it, legally they would be unable to resist. The point opened the old wound, forced him to remember that his own daughter had once belonged to another– father. He had told the lawyer in a measured voice that he would see the fellow damned first, and had directed a deed of separation to be prepared, which should provide for the complete payment of Fiorsen’s existing debts on condition that he left Gyp and the baby in peace. After telling Gyp this, he took an opportunity of going to the extempore nursery and standing by the baby’s cradle. Until then, the little creature had only been of interest as part of Gyp; now it had for him an existence of its own–this tiny, dark-eyed creature, lying there, watching him so gravely, clutching his finger. Suddenly the baby smiled–not a beautiful smile, but it made on Winton an indelible impression.

Wishing first to settle this matter of the deed, he put off going down to Mildenham; but “not trusting those two scoundrels a yard”– for he never failed to bracket Rosek and Fiorsen–he insisted that the baby should not go out without two attendants, and that Gyp should not go out alone. He carried precaution to the point of accompanying her to Monsieur Harmost’s on the Friday afternoon, and expressed a wish to go in and shake hands with the old fellow. It was a queer meeting. Those two had as great difficulty in finding anything to say as though they were denizens of different planets. And indeed, there ARE two planets on this earth! When, after a minute or so of the friendliest embarrassment, he had retired to wait for her, Gyp sat down to her lesson.

Monsieur Harmost said quietly:

“Your letter was very kind, my little friend–and your father is very kind. But, after all, it was a compliment your husband paid me.” His smile smote Gyp; it seemed to sum up so many resignations. “So you stay again with your father!” And, looking at her very hard with his melancholy brown eyes, “When will you find your fate, I wonder?”


Monsieur Harmost’s eyebrows rose.

“Ah,” he said, “you think! No, that is impossible!” He walked twice very quickly up and down the room; then spinning round on his heel, said sharply: “Well, we must not waste your father’s time. To work.”

Winton’s simple comment in the cab on the way home was:

“Nice old chap!”

At Bury Street, they found Gyp’s agitated parlour-maid. Going to do the music-room that morning, she had “found the master sitting on the sofa, holding his head, and groaning awful. He’s not been at home, ma’am, since you–you went on your visit, so I didn’t know what to do. I ran for cook and we got him up to bed, and not knowing where you’d be, ma’am, I telephoned to Count Rosek, and he came–I hope I didn’t do wrong–and he sent me down to see you. The doctor says his brain’s on the touch and go, and he keeps askin’ for you, ma’am. So I didn’t know what to do.”

Gyp, pale to the lips, said:

“Wait here a minute, Ellen,” and went into the dining-room. Winton followed. She turned to him at once, and said:

“Oh, Dad, what am I to do? His brain! It would be too awful to feel I’d brought that about.”

Winton grunted. Gyp went on:

“I must go and see. If it’s really that, I couldn’t bear it. I’m afraid I must go, Dad.”

Winton nodded.

“Well, I’ll come too,” he said. “The girl can go back in the cab and say we’re on the way.”

Taking a parting look at her baby, Gyp thought bitterly: ‘My fate? THIS is my fate, and no getting out of it!’ On the journey, she and Winton were quite silent–but she held his hand tight. While the cook was taking up to Rosek the news of their arrival, Gyp stood looking out at her garden. Two days and six hours only since she had stood there above her pansies; since, at this very spot, Rosek had kissed her throat! Slipping her hand through Winton’s arm, she said:

“Dad, please don’t make anything of that kiss. He couldn’t help himself, I suppose. What does it matter, too?”

A moment later Rosek entered. Before she could speak, Winton was saying:

“Thank you for letting us know, sir. But now that my daughter is here, there will be no further need for your kind services. Good- day!”

At the cruel curtness of those words, Gyp gave the tiniest start forward. She had seen them go through Rosek’s armour as a sword through brown paper. He recovered himself with a sickly smile, bowed, and went out. Winton followed–precisely as if he did not trust him with the hats in the hall. When the outer door was shut, he said:

“I don’t think he’ll trouble you again.”

Gyp’s gratitude was qualified by a queer compassion. After all, his offence had only been that of loving her.

Fiorsen had been taken to her room, which was larger and cooler than his own; and the maid was standing by the side of the bed with a scared face. Gyp signed to her to go. He opened his eyes presently:

“Gyp! Oh! Gyp! Is it you? The devilish, awful things I see– don’t go away again! Oh, Gyp!” With a sob he raised himself and rested his forehead against her. And Gyp felt–as on the first night he came home drunk–a merging of all other emotions in the desire to protect and heal.

“It’s all right, all right,” she murmured. “I’m going to stay. Don’t worry about anything. Keep quite quiet, and you’ll soon be well.”

In a quarter of an hour, he was asleep. His wasted look went to her heart, and that expression of terror which had been coming and going until he fell asleep! Anything to do with the brain was so horrible! Only too clear that she must stay–that his recovery depended on her. She was still sitting there, motionless, when the doctor came, and, seeing him asleep, beckoned her out. He looked a kindly man, with two waistcoats, the top one unbuttoned; and while he talked, he winked at Gyp involuntarily, and, with each wink, Gyp felt that he ripped the veil off one more domestic secret. Sleep was the ticket–the very ticket for him! Had something on his mind–yes! And–er–a little given to–brandy? Ah! all that must stop! Stomach as well as nerves affected. Seeing things–nasty things–sure sign. Perhaps not a very careful life before marriage. And married–how long? His kindly appreciative eyes swept Gyp from top to toe. Year and a half! Quite so! Hard worker at his violin, too? No doubt! Musicians always a little inclined to be immoderate–too much sense of beauty–burn the candle at both ends! She must see to that. She had been away, had she not–staying with her father? Yes. But–no one like a wife for nursing. As to treatment? Well! One would shove in a dash of what he would prescribe, night and morning. Perfect quiet. No stimulant. A little cup of strong coffee without milk, if he seemed low. Keep him in bed at present. No worry; no excitement. Young man still. Plenty of vitality. As to herself, no undue anxiety. To-morrow they would see whether a night nurse would be necessary. Above all, no violin for a month, no alcohol–in every way the strictest moderation! And with a last and friendliest wink, leaning heavily on that word “moderation,” he took out a stylographic pen, scratched on a leaf of his note-book, shook Gyp’s hand, smiled whimsically, buttoned his upper waistcoat, and departed.

Gyp went back to her seat by the bed. Irony! She whose only desire was to be let go free, was mainly responsible for his breakdown! But for her, there would be nothing on his mind, for he would not be married! Brooding morbidly, she asked herself–his drinking, debts, even the girl–had she caused them, too? And when she tried to free him and herself–this was the result! Was there something fatal about her that must destroy the men she had to do with? She had made her father unhappy, Monsieur Harmost–Rosek, and her husband! Even before she married, how many had tried for her love, and gone away unhappy! And, getting up, she went to a mirror and looked at herself long and sadly.


Three days after her abortive attempt to break away, Gyp, with much heart-searching, wrote to Daphne Wing, telling her of Fiorsen’s illness, and mentioning a cottage near Mildenham, where–if she liked to go–she would be quite comfortable and safe from all curiosity, and finally begging to be allowed to make good the losses from any broken dance-contracts.

Next morning, she found Mr. Wagge with a tall, crape-banded hat in his black-gloved hands, standing in the very centre of her drawing- room. He was staring into the garden, as if he had been vouchsafed a vision of that warm night when the moonlight shed its ghostly glamour on the sunflowers, and his daughter had danced out there. She had a perfect view of his thick red neck in its turndown collar, crossed by a black bow over a shiny white shirt. And, holding out her hand, she said:

“How do you do, Mr. Wagge? It was kind of you to come.”

Mr. Wagge turned. His pug face wore a downcast expression.

“I hope I see you well, ma’am. Pretty place you ‘ave ‘ere. I’m fond of flowers myself. They’ve always been my ‘obby.”

“They’re a great comfort in London, aren’t they?”

“Ye-es; I should think you might grow the dahlia here.” And having thus obeyed the obscure instincts of savoir faire, satisfied some obscurer desire to flatter, he went on: “My girl showed me your letter. I didn’t like to write; in such a delicate matter I’d rather be vivey vocey. Very kind, in your position; I’m sure I appreciate it. I always try to do the Christian thing myself. Flesh passes; you never know when you may have to take your turn. I said to my girl I’d come and see you.”

“I’m very glad. I hoped perhaps you would.”

Mr. Wagge cleared his throat, and went on, in a hoarser voice:

“I don’t want to say anything harsh about a certain party in your presence, especially as I read he’s indisposed, but really I hardly know how to bear the situation. I can’t bring myself to think of money in relation to that matter; all the same, it’s a serious loss to my daughter, very serious loss. I’ve got my family pride to think of. My daughter’s name, well–it’s my own; and, though I say it, I’m respected–a regular attendant–I think I told you. Sometimes, I assure you, I feel I can’t control myself, and it’s only that–and you, if I may say so, that keeps me in check.”

During this speech, his black-gloved hands were clenching and unclenching, and he shifted his broad, shining boots. Gyp gazed at them, not daring to look up at his eyes thus turning and turning from Christianity to shekels, from his honour to the world, from his anger to herself. And she said:

“Please let me do what I ask, Mr. Wagge. I should be so unhappy if I mightn’t do that little something.”

Mr. Wagge blew his nose.

“It’s a delicate matter,” he said. “I don’t know where my duty lays. I don’t, reelly.”

Gyp looked up then.

“The great thing is to save Daisy suffering, isn’t it?”

Mr. Wagge’s face wore for a moment an expression of affront, as if from the thought: ‘Sufferin’! You must leave that to her father!’ Then it wavered; the curious, furtive warmth of the attracted male came for a moment into his little eyes; he averted them, and coughed. Gyp said softly:

“To please me.”

Mr. Wagge’s readjusted glance stopped in confusion at her waist. He answered, in a voice that he strove to make bland:

“If you put it in that way, I don’t reelly know ‘ow to refuse; but it must be quite between you and me–I can’t withdraw my attitude.”

Gyp murmured:

“No, of course. Thank you so much; and you’ll let me know about everything later. I mustn’t take up your time now.” And she held out her hand.

Mr. Wagge took it in a lingering manner.

“Well, I HAVE an appointment,” he said; “a gentleman at Campden Hill. He starts at twelve. I’m never late. GOOD-morning.”

When she had watched his square, black figure pass through the outer gate, busily rebuttoning those shining black gloves, she went upstairs and washed her face and hands.

For several days, Fiorsen wavered; but his collapse had come just in time, and with every hour the danger lessened. At the end of a fortnight of a perfectly white life, there remained nothing to do in the words of the doctor but “to avoid all recurrence of the predisposing causes, and shove in sea air!” Gyp had locked up all brandy–and violins; she could control him so long as he was tamed by his own weakness. But she passed some very bitter hours before she sent for her baby, Betty, and the dogs, and definitely took up life in her little house again. His debts had been paid, including the thousand pounds to Rosek, and the losses of Daphne Wing. The girl had gone down to that cottage where no one had ever heard of her, to pass her time in lonely grief and terror, with the aid of a black dress and a gold band on her third finger.

August and the first half of September were spent near Bude. Fiorsen’s passion for the sea, a passion Gyp could share, kept him singularly moderate and free from restiveness. He had been thoroughly frightened, and such terror is not easily forgotten. They stayed in a farmhouse, where he was at his best with the simple folk, and his best could be charming. He was always trying to get his “mermaid,” as he took to calling Gyp, away from the baby, getting her away to himself, along the grassy cliffs and among the rocks and yellow sands of that free coast. His delight was to find every day some new nook where they could bathe, and dry themselves by sitting in the sun. And very like a mermaid she was, on a seaweedy rock, with her feet close together in a little pool, her fingers combing her drowned hair, and the sun silvering her wet body. If she had loved him, it would have been perfect. But though, close to nature like this–there are men to whom towns are poison–he was so much more easy to bear, even to like, her heart never opened to him, never fluttered at his voice, or beat more quickly under his kisses. One cannot regulate these things. The warmth in her eyes when they looked at her baby, and the coolness when they looked at him, was such that not even a man, and he an egoist, could help seeing; and secretly he began to hate that tiny rival, and she began to notice that he did.

As soon as the weather broke, he grew restless, craving his violin, and they went back to town, in robust health–all three. During those weeks, Gyp had never been free of the feeling that it was just a lull, of forces held up in suspense, and the moment they were back in their house, this feeling gathered density and darkness, as rain gathers in the sky after a fine spell. She had often thought of Daphne Wing, and had written twice, getting in return one naive and pathetic answer:


‘Oh, it is kind of you to write, because I know what you must be feeling about me; and it was so kind of you to let me come here. I try not to think about things, but of course I can’t help it; and I don’t seem to care what happens now. Mother is coming down here later on. Sometimes I lie awake all night, listening to the wind. Don’t you think the wind is the most melancholy thing in the world? I wonder if I shall die? I hope I shall. Oh, I do, really! Good- bye, dear Mrs. Fiorsen. I shall never forgive myself about you.

‘Your grateful,


The girl had never once been mentioned between her and Fiorsen since the night when he sat by her bed, begging forgiveness; she did not know whether he ever gave the little dancer and her trouble a thought, or even knew what had become of her. But now that the time was getting near, Gyp felt more and more every day as if she must go down and see her. She wrote to her father, who, after a dose of Harrogate with Aunt Rosamund, was back at Mildenham. Winton answered that the nurse was there, and that there seemed to be a woman, presumably the mother, staying with her, but that he had not of course made direct inquiry. Could not Gyp come down? He was alone, and cubbing had begun. It was like him to veil his longings under such dry statements. But the thought of giving him pleasure, and of a gallop with hounds fortified intensely her feeling that she ought to go. Now that baby was so well, and Fiorsen still not drinking, she might surely snatch this little holiday and satisfy her conscience about the girl. Since the return from Cornwall, she had played for him in the music-room just as of old, and she chose the finish of a morning practice to say:

“Gustav, I want to go to Mildenham this afternoon for a week. Father’s lonely.”

He was putting away his violin, but she saw his neck grow red.

“To him? No. He will steal you as he stole the baby. Let him have the baby if he likes. Not you. No.”

Gyp, who was standing by the piano, kept silence at this unexpected outburst, but revolt blazed up in her. She never asked him anything; he should not refuse this. He came up behind and put his arms round her.

“My Gyp, I want you here–I am lonely, too. Don’t go away.”

She tried to force his arms apart, but could not, and her anger grew. She said coldly:

“There’s another reason why I must go.”

“No, no! No good reason–to take you from me.”

“There is! The girl who is just going to have your child is staying near Mildenham, and I want to see how she is.”

He let go of her then, and recoiling against the divan, sat down. And Gyp thought: ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to–but it serves him right.’

He muttered, in a dull voice:

“Oh, I hoped she was dead.”

“Yes! For all you care, she might be. I’m going, but you needn’t be afraid that I shan’t come back. I shall be back to-day week; I promise.”

He looked at her fixedly.

“Yes. You don’t break your promises; you will not break it.” But, suddenly, he said again: “Gyp, don’t go!”

“I must.”

He got up and caught her in his arms.

“Say you love me, then!”

But she could not. It was one thing to put up with embraces, quite another to pretend that. When at last he was gone, she sat smoothing her hair, staring before her with hard eyes, thinking: “Here–where I saw him with that girl! What animals men are!”

Late that afternoon, she reached Mildenham. Winton met her at the station. And on the drive up, they passed the cottage where Daphne Wing was staying. It stood in front of a small coppice, a creepered, plain-fronted, little brick house, with a garden still full of sunflowers, tenanted by the old jockey, Pettance, his widowed daughter, and her three small children. “That talkative old scoundrel,” as Winton always called him, was still employed in the Mildenham stables, and his daughter was laundress to the establishment. Gyp had secured for Daphne Wing the same free, independent, economic agent who had watched over her own event; the same old doctor, too, was to be the presiding deity. There were no signs of life about the cottage, and she would not stop, too eager to be at home again, to see the old rooms, and smell the old savour of the house, to get to her old mare, and feel its nose nuzzling her for sugar. It was so good to be back once more, feeling strong and well and able to ride. The smile of the inscrutable Markey at the front door was a joy to her, even the darkness of the hall, where a gleam of last sunlight fell across the skin of Winton’s first tiger, on which she had so often sunk down dead tired after hunting. Ah, it was nice to be at home!

In her mare’s box, old Pettance was putting a last touch to cleanliness. His shaven, skin-tight, wicked old face, smiled deeply. He said in honeyed tones:

“Good evenin’, miss; beautiful evenin’, ma’am!” And his little burning brown eyes, just touched by age, regarded her lovingly.

“Well, Pettance, how are you? And how’s Annie, and how are the children? And how’s this old darling?”

“Wonderful, miss; artful as a kitten. Carry you like a bird to- morrow, if you’re goin’ out.”

“How are her legs?”

And while Gyp passed her hand down those iron legs, the old mare examined her down the back of her neck.

“They ‘aven’t filled not once since she come in–she was out all July and August; but I’ve kept ‘er well at it since, in ‘opes you might be comin’.”

“They feel splendid.” And, still bending down, Gyp asked: “And how is your lodger–the young lady I sent you?”

“Well, ma’am, she’s very young, and these very young ladies they get a bit excited, you know, at such times; I should say she’ve never been–” With obvious difficulty he checked the words, “to an ‘orse before!” “Well, you must expect it. And her mother, she’s a dreadful funny one, miss. She does needle me! Oh, she puts my back up properly! No class, of course–that’s where it is. But this ‘ere nurse–well, you know, miss, she won’t ‘ave no nonsense; so there we are. And, of course, you’re bound to ‘ave ‘ighsteria, a bit–losin’ her ‘usband as young as that.”

Gyp could feel his wicked old smile even before she raised herself. But what did it matter if he did guess? She knew he would keep a stable secret.

“Oh, we’ve ‘ad some pretty flirts–up and cryin’, dear me! I sleeps in the next room–oh, yes, at night-time–when you’re a widder at that age, you can’t expect nothin’ else. I remember when I was ridin’ in Ireland for Captain O’Neill, there was a young woman–“

Gyp thought: ‘I mustn’t let him get off–or I shall be late for dinner,’ and she said:

“Oh, Pettance, who bought the young brown horse?”

“Mr. Bryn Summer’ay, ma’am, over at Widrington, for an ‘unter, and ‘ack in town, miss.”

“Summerhay? Ah!” With a touch of the whip to her memory, Gyp recalled the young man with the clear eyes and teasing smile, on the chestnut mare, the bold young man who reminded her of somebody, and she added:

“That’ll be a good home for him, I should think.”

“Oh, yes, miss; good ‘ome–nice gentleman, too. He come over here to see it, and asked after you. I told ‘im you was a married lady now, miss. ‘Ah,’ he said; ‘she rode beautiful!’ And he remembered the ‘orse well. The major, he wasn’t ‘ere just then, so I let him try the young un; he popped ‘im over a fence or two, and when he come back he says, ‘Well, I’m goin’ to have ‘im.’ Speaks very pleasant, an’ don’t waste no time–‘orse was away before the end of the week. Carry ‘im well; ‘e’s a strong rider, too, and a good plucked one, but bad ‘ands, I should say.”

“Yes, Pettance; I must go in now. Will you tell Annie I shall be round to-morrow, to see her?”

“Very good, miss. ‘Ounds meets at Filly Cross, seven-thirty. You’ll be goin’ out?”

“Rather. Good-night.”

Flying back across the yard, Gyp thought: “‘She rode beautiful!’ How jolly! I’m glad he’s got my horse.”


Still glowing from her morning in the saddle, Gyp started out next day at noon on her visit to the “old scoundrel’s” cottage. It was one of those lingering mellow mornings of late September, when the air, just warmed through, lifts off the stubbles, and the hedgerows are not yet dried of dew. The short cut led across two fields, a narrow strip of village common, where linen was drying on gorse bushes coming into bloom, and one field beyond; she met no one. Crossing the road, she passed into the cottage-garden, where sunflowers and Michaelmas daisies in great profusion were tangled along the low red-brick garden-walls, under some poplar trees yellow-flecked already. A single empty chair, with a book turned face downward, stood outside an open window. Smoke wreathing from one chimney was the only sign of life. But, standing undecided before the half-open door, Gyp was conscious, as it were, of too much stillness, of something unnatural about the silence. She was just raising her hand to knock when she heard the sound of smothered sobbing. Peeping through the window, she could just see a woman dressed in green, evidently Mrs. Wagge, seated at a table, crying into her handkerchief. At that very moment, too, a low moaning came from the room above. Gyp recoiled; then, making up her mind, she went in and knocked at the room where the woman in green was sitting. After fully half a minute, it was opened, and Mrs. Wagge stood there. The nose and eyes and cheeks of that thinnish, acid face were red, and in her green dress, and with her greenish hair (for it was going grey and she put on it a yellow lotion smelling of cantharides), she seemed to Gyp just like one of those green apples that turn reddish so unnaturally in the sun. She had rubbed over her face, which shone in streaks, and her handkerchief was still crumpled in her hand. It was horrible to come, so fresh and glowing, into the presence of this poor woman, evidently in bitter sorrow. And a desperate desire came over Gyp to fly. It seemed dreadful for anyone connected with him who had caused this trouble to be coming here at all. But she said as softly as she could:

“Mrs. Wagge? Please forgive me–but is there any news? I am–It was I who got Daphne down here.”

The woman before her was evidently being torn this way and that, but at last she answered, with a sniff:

“It–it–was born this morning–dead.” Gyp gasped. To have gone through it all for that! Every bit of mother-feeling in her rebelled and sorrowed; but her reason said: Better so! Much better! And she murmured:

“How is she?”

Mrs. Wagge answered, with profound dejection:

“Bad–very bad. I don’t know I’m sure what to say–my feelings are all anyhow, and that’s the truth. It’s so dreadfully upsetting altogether.”

“Is my nurse with her?”

“Yes; she’s there. She’s a very headstrong woman, but capable, I don’t deny. Daisy’s very weak. Oh, it IS upsetting! And now I suppose there’ll have to be a burial. There really seems no end to it. And all because of–of that man.” And Mrs. Wagge turned away again to cry into her handkerchief.

Feeling she could never say or do the right thing to the poor lady, Gyp stole out. At the bottom of the stairs, she hesitated whether to go up or no. At last, she mounted softly. It must be in the front room that the bereaved girl was lying–the girl who, but a year ago, had debated with such naive self-importance whether or not it was her duty to take a lover. Gyp summoned courage to tap gently. The economic agent opened the door an inch, but, seeing who it was, slipped her robust and handsome person through into the corridor.

“You, my dear!” she said in a whisper. “That’s nice!”

“How is she?”

“Fairly well–considering. You know about it?”

“Yes; can I see her?”

“I hardly think so. I can’t make her out. She’s got no spirit, not an ounce. She doesn’t want to get well, I believe. It’s the man, I expect.” And, looking at Gyp with her fine blue eyes, she asked: “Is that it? Is he tired of her?”

Gyp met her gaze better than she had believed possible.

“Yes, nurse.”

The economic agent swept her up and down. “It’s a pleasure to look at you. You’ve got quite a colour, for you. After all, I believe it MIGHT do her good to see you. Come in!”

Gyp passed in behind her, and stood gazing, not daring to step forward. What a white face, with eyes closed, with fair hair still damp on the forehead, with one white hand lying on the sheet above her heart! What a frail madonna of the sugar-plums! On the whole of that bed the only colour seemed the gold hoop round the wedding- finger.

The economic agent said very quietly:

“Look, my dear; I’ve brought you a nice visitor.”

Daphne Wing’s eyes and lips opened and closed again. And the awful thought went through Gyp: ‘Poor thing! She thought it was going to be him, and it’s only me!’ Then the white lips said:

“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, it’s you–it is kind of you!” And the eyes opened again, but very little, and differently.

The economic agent slipped away. Gyp sat down by the bed and timidly touched the hand.

Daphne Wing looked at her, and two tears slowly ran down her cheeks.

“It’s over,” she said just audibly, “and there’s nothing now–it was dead, you know. I don’t want to live. Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, why can’t they let me die, too?”

Gyp bent over and kissed the hand, unable to bear the sight of those two slowly rolling tears. Daphne Wing went on:

“You ARE good to me. I wish my poor little baby hadn’t–“

Gyp, knowing her own tears were wetting that hand, raised herself and managed to get out the words:

“Bear up! Think of your work!”

“Dancing! Ho!” She gave the least laugh ever heard. “It seems so long ago.”

“Yes; but now it’ll all come back to you again, better than ever.”

Daphne Wing answered by a feeble sigh.

There was silence. Gyp thought: ‘She’s falling asleep.’

With eyes and mouth closed like that, and all alabaster white, the face was perfect, purged of its little commonnesses. Strange freak that this white flower of a face could ever have been produced by Mr. and Mrs. Wagge!

Daphne Wing opened her eyes and said:

“Oh! Mrs. Fiorsen, I feel so weak. And I feel much more lonely now. There’s nothing anywhere.”

Gyp got up; she felt herself being carried into the mood of the girl’s heart, and was afraid it would be seen. Daphne Wing went on:

“Do you know, when nurse said she’d brought a visitor, I thought it was him; but I’m glad now. If he had looked at me like he did–I couldn’t have borne it.”

Gyp bent down and put her lips to the damp forehead. Faint, very faint, there was still the scent of orange-blossom.

When she was once more in the garden, she hurried away; but instead of crossing the fields again, turned past the side of the cottage into the coppice behind. And, sitting down on a log, her hands pressed to her cheeks and her elbows to her breast, she stared at the sunlit bracken and the flies chasing each other over it. Love! Was it always something hateful and tragic that spoiled lives? Criss-cross! One darting on another, taking her almost before she knew she was seized, then darting away and leaving her wanting to be seized again. Or darting on her, who, when seized, was fatal to the darter, yet had never wanted to be seized. Or darting one on the other for a moment, then both breaking away too soon. Did never two dart at each other, seize, and cling, and ever after be one? Love! It had spoiled her father’s life, and Daphne Wing’s; never came when it was wanted; always came when it was not. Malevolent wanderer, alighting here, there; tiring of the spirit before it tired of the body; or of the body before it tired of the spirit. Better to have nothing to do with it–far better! If one never loved, one would never feel lonely–like that poor girl. And yet! No–there was no “and yet.” Who that was free would wish to become a slave? A slave–like Daphne Wing! A slave–like her own husband to his want of a wife who did not love him. A slave like her father had been–still was, to a memory. And watching the sunlight on the bracken, Gyp thought: ‘Love! Keep far from me. I don’t want you. I shall never want you!’

Every morning that week she made her way to the cottage, and every morning had to pass through the hands of Mrs. Wagge. The good lady had got over the upsetting fact that Gyp was the wife of that villain, and had taken a fancy to her, confiding to the economic agent, who confided it to Gyp, that she was “very distangey–and such pretty eyes, quite Italian.” She was one of those numberless persons whose passion for distinction was just a little too much for their passionate propriety. It was that worship of distinction which had caused her to have her young daughter’s talent for dancing fostered. Who knew to what it might lead in these days? At great length she explained to Gyp the infinite care with which she had always “brought Daisy up like a lady–and now this is the result.” And she would look piercingly at Gyp’s hair or ears, at her hands or her instep, to see how it was done. The burial worried her dreadfully. “I’m using the name of Daisy Wing; she was christened ‘Daisy’ and the Wing’s professional, so that takes them both in, and it’s quite the truth. But I don’t think anyone would connect it, would they? About the father’s name, do you think I might say the late Mr. Joseph Wing, this once? You see, it never was alive, and I must put something if they’re not to guess the truth, and that I couldn’t bear; Mr. Wagge would be so distressed. It’s in his own line, you see. Oh, it is upsetting!”

Gyp murmured desperately:

“Oh! yes, anything.”

Though the girl was so deathly white and spiritless, it soon became clear that she was going to pull through. With each day, a little more colour and a little more commonness came back to her. And Gyp felt instinctively that she would, in the end, return to Fulham purged of her infatuation, a little harder, perhaps a little deeper.

Late one afternoon toward the end of her week at Mildenham, Gyp wandered again into the coppice, and sat down on that same log. An hour before sunset, the light shone level on the yellowing leaves all round her; a startled rabbit pelted out of the bracken and pelted back again, and, from the far edge of the little wood, a jay cackled harshly, shifting its perch from tree to tree. Gyp thought of her baby, and of that which would have been its half-brother; and now that she was so near having to go back to Fiorsen, she knew that she had not been wise to come here. To have been in contact with the girl, to have touched, as it were, that trouble, had made the thought of life with him less tolerable even than it was before. Only the longing to see her baby made return seem possible. Ah, well–she would get used to it all again! But the anticipation of his eyes fixed on her, then sliding away from the meeting with her eyes, of all–of all that would begin again, suddenly made her shiver. She was very near to loathing at that moment. He, the father of her baby! The thought seemed ridiculous and strange. That little creature seemed to bind him to her no more than if it were the offspring of some chance encounter, some pursuit of nymph by faun. No! It was hers alone. And a sudden feverish longing to get back to it overpowered all other thought. This longing grew in her so all night that at breakfast she told her father. Swallowing down whatever his feeling may have been, he said:

“Very well, my child; I’ll come up with you.”

Putting her into the cab in London, he asked:

“Have you still got your key of Bury Street? Good! Remember, Gyp– any time day or night–there it is for you.”

She had wired to Fiorsen from Mildenham that she was coming, and she reached home soon after three. He was not in, and what was evidently her telegram lay unopened in the hall. Tremulous with expectation, she ran up to the nursery. The pathetic sound of some small creature that cannot tell what is hurting it, or why, met her ears. She went in, disturbed, yet with the half-triumphant thought: ‘Perhaps that’s for me!’

Betty, very flushed, was rocking the cradle, and examining the baby’s face with a perplexed frown. Seeing Gyp, she put her hand to her side, and gasped:

“Oh, be joyful! Oh, my dear! I AM glad. I can’t do anything with baby since the morning. Whenever she wakes up, she cries like that. And till to-day she’s been a little model. Hasn’t she! There, there!”

Gyp took up the baby, whose black eyes fixed themselves on her mother in a momentary contentment; but, at the first movement, she began again her fretful plaint. Betty went on:

“She’s been like that ever since this morning. Mr. Fiorsen’s been in more than once, ma’am, and the fact is, baby don’t like it. He stares at her so. But this morning I thought–well–I thought: ‘You’re her father. It’s time she was getting used to you.’ So I let them be a minute; and when I came back–I was only just across to the bathroom–he was comin’ out lookin’ quite fierce and white, and baby–oh, screamin’! And except for sleepin’, she’s hardly stopped cryin’ since.”

Pressing the baby to her breast, Gyp sat very still, and queer thoughts went through her mind.

“How has he been, Betty?” she said.

Betty plaited her apron; her moon-face was troubled.

“Well,” she said, “I think he’s been drinkin’. Oh, I’m sure he has–I’ve smelt it about him. The third day it began. And night before last he came in dreadfully late–I could hear him staggerin’ about, abusing the stairs as he was comin’ up. Oh dear–it IS a pity!”

The baby, who had been still enough since she lay in her mother’s lap, suddenly raised her little voice again. Gyp said:

“Betty, I believe something hurts her arm. She cries the moment she’s touched there. Is there a pin or anything? Just see. Take her things off. Oh–look!”

Both the tiny arms above the elbow were circled with dark marks, as if they had been squeezed by ruthless fingers. The two women looked at each other in horror; and under her breath Gyp said: “He!”

She had flushed crimson; her eyes filled but dried again almost at once. And, looking at her face, now gone very pale, and those lips tightened to a line, Betty stopped in her outburst of ejaculation. When they had wrapped the baby’s arm in remedies and cotton-wool, Gyp went into her bedroom, and, throwing herself down on her bed, burst into a passion of weeping, smothering it deep in her pillow.

It was the crying of sheer rage. The brute! Not to have control enough to stop short of digging his claws into that precious mite! Just because the poor little thing cried at that cat’s stare of his! The brute! The devil! And he would come to her and whine about it, and say: “My Gyp, I never meant–how should I know I was hurting? Her crying was so–Why should she cry at me? I was upset! I wasn’t thinking!” She could hear him pleading and sighing to her to forgive him. But she would not–not this time! He had hurt a helpless thing once too often. Her fit of crying ceased, and she lay listening to the tick of the clock, and marshalling in her mind a hundred little evidences of his malevolence toward her baby–his own baby. How was it possible? Was he really going mad? And a fit of such chilly shuddering seized her that she crept under the eider down to regain warmth. In her rage, she retained enough sense of proportion to understand that he had done this, just as he had insulted Monsieur Harmost and her father–and others–in an ungovernable access of nerve- irritation; just as, perhaps, one day he would kill someone. But to understand this did not lessen her feeling. Her baby! Such a tiny thing! She hated him at last; and she lay thinking out the coldest, the cruellest, the most cutting things to say. She had been too long-suffering.

But he did not come in that evening; and, too upset to eat or do anything, she went up to bed at ten o’clock. When she had undressed, she stole across to the nursery; she had a longing to have the baby with her–a feeling that to leave her was not safe. She carried her off, still sleeping, and, locking her doors, got into bed. Having warmed a nest with her body for the little creature, she laid it there; and then for a long time lay awake, expecting every minute to hear him return. She fell asleep at last, and woke with a start. There were vague noises down below or on the stairs. It must be he! She had left the light on in her room, and she leaned over to look at the baby’s face. It was still sleeping, drawing its tiny breaths peacefully, little dog-shivers passing every now and then over its face. Gyp, shaking back her dark plaits of hair, sat up by its side, straining her ears.

Yes; he WAS coming up, and, by the sounds, he was not sober. She heard a loud creak, and then a thud, as if he had clutched at the banisters and fallen; she heard muttering, too, and the noise of boots dropped. Swiftly the thought went through her: ‘If he were quite drunk, he would not have taken them off at all;–nor if he were quite sober. Does he know I’m back?’ Then came another creak, as if he were raising himself by support of the banisters, and then–or was it fancy?–she could hear him creeping and breathing behind the door. Then–no fancy this time–he fumbled at the door and turned the handle. In spite of his state, he must know that she was back, had noticed her travelling-coat or seen the telegram. The handle was tried again, then, after a pause, the handle of the door between his room and hers was fiercely shaken. She could hear his voice, too, as she knew it when he was flown with drink, thick, a little drawling.

“Gyp–let me in–Gyp!”

The blood burned up in her cheeks, and she thought: ‘No, my friend; you’re not coming in!’

After that, sounds were more confused, as if he were now at one door, now at the other; then creakings, as if on the stairs again, and after that, no sound at all.

For fully half an hour, Gyp continued to sit up, straining her ears. Where was he? What doing? On her over-excited nerves, all sorts of possibilities came crowding. He must have gone downstairs again. In that half-drunken state, where would his baffled frenzies lead him? And, suddenly, she thought that she smelled burning. It went, and came again; she got up, crept to the door, noiselessly turned the key, and, pulling it open a few inches, sniffed.

All was dark on the landing. There was no smell of burning out there. Suddenly, a hand clutched her ankle. All the blood rushed from her heart; she stifled a scream, and tried to pull the door to. But his arm and her leg were caught between, and she saw the black mass of his figure lying full-length on its face. Like a vice, his hand held her; he drew himself up on to his knees, on to his feet, and forced his way through. Panting, but in utter silence, Gyp struggled to drive him out. His drunken strength seemed to come and go in gusts, but hers was continuous, greater than she had ever thought she had, and she panted:

“Go! go out of my room–you–you–wretch!”

Then her heart stood still with horror, for he had slued round to the bed and was stretching his hands out above the baby. She heard him mutter:

“Ah-h-h!–YOU–in my place–YOU!”

Gyp flung herself on him from behind, dragging his arms down, and, clasping her hands together, held him fast. He twisted round in her arms and sat down on the bed. In that moment of his collapse, Gyp snatched up her baby and fled out, down the dark stairs, hearing him stumbling, groping in pursuit. She fled into the dining-room and locked the door. She heard him run against it and fall down. Snuggling her baby, who was crying now, inside her nightgown, next to her skin for warmth, she stood rocking and hushing it, trying to listen. There was no more sound. By the hearth, whence a little heat still came forth from the ashes, she cowered down. With cushions and the thick white felt from the dining-table, she made the baby snug, and wrapping her shivering self in the table-cloth, sat staring wide-eyed before her–and always listening. There were sounds at first, then none. A long, long time she stayed like that, before she stole to the door. She did not mean to make a second mistake. She could hear the sound of heavy breathing. And she listened to it, till she was quite certain that it was really the breathing of sleep. Then stealthily she opened, and looked. He was over there, lying against the bottom chair, in a heavy, drunken slumber. She knew that sleep so well; he would not wake from it.

It gave her a sort of evil pleasure that they would find him like that in the morning when she was gone. She went back to her baby and, with infinite precaution, lifted it, still sleeping, cushion and all, and stole past him up the stairs that, under her bare feet, made no sound. Once more in her locked room, she went to the window and looked out. It was just before dawn; her garden was grey and ghostly, and she thought: ‘The last time I shall see you. Good-bye!’

Then, with the utmost speed, she did her hair and dressed. She was very cold and shivery, and put on her fur coat and cap. She hunted out two jerseys for the baby, and a certain old camel’s-hair shawl. She took a few little things she was fondest of and slipped them into her wrist-bag with her purse, put on her hat and a pair of gloves. She did everything very swiftly, wondering, all the time, at her own power of knowing what to take. When she was quite ready, she scribbled a note to Betty to follow with the dogs to Bury Street, and pushed it under the nursery door. Then, wrapping the baby in the jerseys and shawl, she went downstairs. The dawn had broken, and, from the long narrow window above the door with spikes of iron across it, grey light was striking into the hall. Gyp passed Fiorsen’s sleeping figure safely, and, for one moment, stopped for breath. He was lying with his back against the wall, his head in the hollow of an arm raised against a stair, and his face turned a little upward. That face which, hundreds of times, had been so close to her own, and something about this crumpled body, about his tumbled hair, those cheek-bones, and the hollows beneath the pale lips just parted under the dirt-gold of his moustache–something of lost divinity in all that inert figure– clutched for a second at Gyp’s heart. Only for a second. It was over, this time! No more–never again! And, turning very stealthily, she slipped her shoes on, undid the chain, opened the front door, took up her burden, closed the door softly behind her, and walked away.

Part III


Gyp was going up to town. She sat in the corner of a first-class carriage, alone. Her father had gone up by an earlier train, for the annual June dinner of his old regiment, and she had stayed to consult the doctor concerning “little Gyp,” aged nearly nineteen months, to whom teeth were making life a burden.

Her eyes wandered from window to window, obeying the faint excitement within her. All the winter and spring, she had been at Mildenham, very quiet, riding much, and pursuing her music as best she could, seeing hardly anyone except her father; and this departure for a spell of London brought her the feeling that comes on an April day, when the sky is blue, with snow-white clouds, when in the fields the lambs are leaping, and the grass is warm for the first time, so that one would like to roll in it. At Widrington, a porter entered, carrying a kit-bag, an overcoat, and some golf- clubs; and round the door a little group, such as may be seen at any English wayside station, clustered, filling the air with their clean, slightly drawling voices. Gyp noted a tall woman whose blonde hair was going grey, a young girl with a fox-terrier on a lead, a young man with a Scotch terrier under his arm and his back to the carriage. The girl was kissing the Scotch terrier’s head.

“Good-bye, old Ossy! Was he nice! Tumbo, keep DOWN! YOU’RE not going!”

“Good-bye, dear boy! Don’t work too hard!”

The young man’s answer was not audible, but it was followed by irrepressible gurgles and a smothered:

“Oh, Bryan, you ARE–Good-bye, dear Ossy!” “Good-bye!” “Good- bye!” The young man who had got in, made another unintelligible joke in a rather high-pitched voice, which was somehow familiar, and again the gurgles broke forth. Then the train moved. Gyp caught a side view of him, waving his hat from the carriage window. It was her acquaintance of the hunting-field–the “Mr. Bryn Summer’ay,” as old Pettance called him, who had bought her horse last year. Seeing him pull down his overcoat, to bank up the old Scotch terrier against the jolting of the journey, she thought: ‘I like men who think first of their dogs.’ His round head, with curly hair, broad brow, and those clean-cut lips, gave her again the wonder: ‘Where HAVE I seen someone like him?’ He raised the window, and turned round.

“How would you like–Oh, how d’you do! We met out hunting. You don’t remember me, I expect.”

“Yes; perfectly. And you bought my horse last summer. How is he?”

“In great form. I forgot to ask what you called him; I’ve named him Hotspur–he’ll never be steady at his fences. I remember how he pulled with you that day.”

They were silent, smiling, as people will in remembrance of a good run.

Then, looking at the dog, Gyp said softly:

“HE looks rather a darling. How old?”

“Twelve. Beastly when dogs get old!”

There was another little silence while he contemplated her steadily with his clear eyes.

“I came over to call once–with my mother; November the year before last. Somebody was ill.”



Gyp shook her head.

“I heard you were married–” The little drawl in his voice had increased, as though covering the abruptness of that remark. Gyp looked up.

“Yes; but my little daughter and I live with my father again.” What “came over” her–as they say–to be so frank, she could not have told.

He said simply:

“Ah! I’ve often thought it queer I’ve never seen you since. What a run that was!”

“Perfect! Was that your mother on the platform?”

“Yes–and my sister Edith. Extraordinary dead-alive place, Widrington; I expect Mildenham isn’t much better?”

“It’s very quiet, but I like it.”

“By the way, I don’t know your name now?”


“Oh, yes! The violinist. Life’s a bit of a gamble, isn’t it?”

Gyp did not answer that odd remark, did not quite know what to make of this audacious young man, whose hazel eyes and lazy smile were queerly lovable, but whose face in repose had such a broad gravity. He took from his pocket a little red book.

“Do you know these? I always take them travelling. Finest things ever written, aren’t they?”

The book–Shakespeare’s Sonnets–was open at that which begins:

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove–“

Gyp read on as far as the lines:

“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks But bears it out even to the edge of doom–“

and looked out of the window. The train was passing through a country of fields and dykes, where the sun, far down in the west, shone almost level over wide, whitish-green space, and the spotted cattle browsed or stood by the ditches, lazily flicking their tufted tails. A shaft of sunlight flowed into the carriage, filled with dust motes; and, handing the little book back through that streak of radiance, she said softly:

“Yes; that’s wonderful. Do you read much poetry?”

“More law, I’m afraid. But it is about the finest thing in the world, isn’t it?”

“No; I think music.”

“Are you a musician?”

“Only a little.”

“You look as if you might be.”

“What? A little?”

“No; I should think you had it badly.”

“Thank you. And you haven’t it at all?”

“I like opera.”

“The hybrid form–and the lowest!”

“That’s why it suits me. Don’t you like it, though?”

“Yes; that’s why I’m going up to London.”

“Really? Are you a subscriber?”

“This season.”

“So am I. Jolly–I shall see you.”

Gyp smiled. It was so long since she had talked to a man of her own age, so long since she had seen a face that roused her curiosity and admiration, so long since she had been admired. The sun-shaft, shifted by a westward trend of the train, bathed her from the knees up; and its warmth increased her light-hearted sense of being in luck–above her fate, instead of under it.

Astounding how much can be talked of in two or three hours of a railway journey! And what a friendly after-warmth clings round those hours! Does the difficulty of making oneself heard provoke confidential utterance? Or is it the isolation or the continual vibration that carries friendship faster and further than will a spasmodic acquaintanceship of weeks? But in that long talk he was far the more voluble. There was, too, much of which she could not speak. Besides, she liked to listen. His slightly drawling voice fascinated her–his audacious, often witty way of putting things, and the irrepressible bubble of laughter that would keep breaking from him. He disclosed his past, such as it was, freely–public- school and college life, efforts at the bar, ambitions, tastes, even his scrapes. And in this spontaneous unfolding there was perpetual flattery; Gyp felt through it all, as pretty women will, a sort of subtle admiration. Presently he asked her if she played piquet.

“Yes; I play with my father nearly every evening.”

“Shall we have a game, then?”

She knew he only wanted to play because he could sit nearer, joined by the evening paper over their knees, hand her the cards after dealing, touch her hand by accident, look in her face. And this was not unpleasant; for she, in turn, liked looking at his face, which had what is called “charm”–that something light and unepiscopal, entirely lacking to so many solid, handsome, admirable faces.

But even railway journeys come to an end; and when he gripped her hand to say good-bye, she gave his an involuntary little squeeze. Standing at her cab window, with his hat raised, the old dog under his arm, and a look of frank, rather wistful, admiration on his face, he said:

“I shall see you at the opera, then, and in the Row perhaps; and I may come along to Bury Street, some time, mayn’t I?”

Nodding to those friendly words, Gyp drove off through the sultry London evening. Her father was not back from the dinner, and she went straight to her room. After so long in the country, it seemed very close in Bury Street; she put on a wrapper and sat down to brush the train-smoke out of her hair.

For months after leaving Fiorsen, she had felt nothing but relief. Only of late had she begun to see her new position, as it was–that of a woman married yet not married, whose awakened senses have never been gratified, whose spirit is still waiting for unfoldment in love, who, however disillusioned, is–even if in secret from herself–more and more surely seeking a real mate, with every hour that ripens her heart and beauty. To-night–gazing at her face, reflected, intent and mournful, in the mirror–she saw that position more clearly, in all its aridity, than she had ever seen it. What was the use of being pretty? No longer use to anyone!