This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

Lady Summerhay, from whose comely face a frock, as it were, had slipped, clasped her hands together on the book.

Such a swift descent of “life” on one to whom it had for so long been a series of “cases” was cruel, and her son felt this without quite realizing why. In the grip of his new emotions, he still retained enough balance to appreciate what an abominably desolate piece of news this must be to her, what a disturbance and disappointment. And, taking her hand, he put it to his lips.

“Cheer up, Mother! It’s all right. She’s happy, and so am I.”

Lady Summerhay could only press her hand against his kiss, and murmur:

“Yes; that’s not everything, Bryan. Is there–is there going to be a scandal?”

“I don’t know. I hope not; but, anyway, HE knows about it.”

“Society doesn’t forgive.”

Summerhay shrugged his shoulders.

“Awfully sorry for YOU, Mother.”

“Oh, Bryan!”

This repetition of her plaint jarred his nerves.

“Don’t run ahead of things. You needn’t tell Edith or Flo. You needn’t tell anybody. We don’t know what’ll happen yet.”

But in Lady Summerhay all was too sore and blank. This woman she had never seen, whose origin was doubtful, whose marriage must have soiled her, who was some kind of a siren, no doubt. It really was too hard! She believed in her son, had dreamed of public position for him, or, rather, felt he would attain it as a matter of course. And she said feebly:

“This Major Winton is a man of breeding, isn’t he?”

“Rather!” And, stopping before her, as if he read her thoughts, he added: “You think she’s not good enough for me? She’s good enough for anyone on earth. And she’s the proudest woman I’ve ever met. If you’re bothering as to what to do about her–don’t! She won’t want anything of anybody–I can tell you that. She won’t accept any crumbs.”

“That’s lucky!” hovered on Lady Summerhay’s lips; but, gazing at her son, she became aware that she stood on the brink of a downfall in his heart. Then the bitterness of her disappointment rising up again, she said coldly:

“Are you going to live together openly?”

“Yes; if she will.”

“You don’t know yet?”

“I shall–soon.”

Lady Summerhay got up, and the book on dreams slipped off her lap with a thump. She went to the fireplace, and stood there looking at her son. He had altered. His merry look was gone; his face was strange to her. She remembered it like that, once in the park at Widrington, when he lost his temper with a pony and came galloping past her, sitting back, his curly hair stivered up like a little demon’s. And she said sadly:

“You can hardly expect me to like it for you, Bryan, even if she is what you say. And isn’t there some story about–“

“My dear mother, the more there is against her, the more I shall love her–that’s obvious.”

Lady Summerhay sighed again.

“What is this man going to do? I heard him play once.”

“I don’t know. Nothing, I dare say. Morally and legally, he’s out of court. I only wish to God he WOULD bring a case, and I could marry her; but Gyp says he won’t.”

Lady Summerhay murmured:

“Gyp? Is that her name?” And a sudden wish, almost a longing, not a friendly one, to see this woman seized her. “Will you bring her to see me? I’m alone here till Wednesday.”

“I’ll ask her, but I don’t think she’ll come.” He turned his head away. “Mother, she’s wonderful!”

An unhappy smile twisted Lady Summerhay’s lips. No doubt! Aphrodite herself had visited her boy. Aphrodite! And–afterward? She asked desolately:

“Does Major Winton know?”


“What does he say to it?”

“Say? What can anyone say? From your point of view, or his, it’s rotten, of course. But in her position, anything’s rotten.”

At that encouraging word, the flood-gates gave way in Lady Summerhay, and she poured forth a stream of words.

“Oh, my dear, can’t you pull up? I’ve seen so many of these affairs go wrong. It really is not for nothing that law and conventions are what they are–believe me! Really, Bryan, experience does show that the pressure’s too great. It’s only once in a way–very exceptional people, very exceptional circumstances. You mayn’t think now it’ll hamper you, but you’ll find it will– most fearfully. It’s not as if you were a writer or an artist, who can take his work where he likes and live in a desert if he wants. You’ve got to do yours in London, your whole career is bound up with society. Do think, before you go butting up against it! It’s all very well to say it’s no affair of anyone’s, but you’ll find it is, Bryan. And then, can you–can you possibly make her happy in the long-run?”

She stopped at the expression on his face. It was as if he were saying: “I have left your world. Talk to your fellows; all this is nothing to me.”

“Look here, Mother: you don’t seem to understand. I’m devoted– devoted so that there’s nothing else for me.”

“How long will that last, Bryan? You mean bewitched.”

Summerhay said, with passion:

“I don’t. I mean what I said. Good-night!” And he went to the door.

“Won’t you stay to dinner, dear?”

But he was gone, and the full of vexation, anxiety, and wretchedness came on Lady Summerhay. It was too hard! She went down to her lonely dinner, desolate and sore. And to the book on dreams, opened beside her plate, she turned eyes that took in nothing.

Summerhay went straight home. The lamps were brightening in the early-autumn dusk, and a draughty, ruffling wind flicked a yellow leaf here and there from off the plane trees. It was just the moment when evening blue comes into the colouring of the town–that hour of fusion when day’s hard and staring shapes are softening, growing dark, mysterious, and all that broods behind the lives of men and trees and houses comes down on the wings of illusion to repossess the world–the hour when any poetry in a man wells up. But Summerhay still heard his mother’s, “Oh, Bryan!” and, for the first time, knew the feeling that his hand was against everyone’s. There was a difference already, or so it seemed to him, in the expression of each passer-by. Nothing any more would be a matter of course; and he was of a class to whom everything has always been a matter of course. Perhaps he did not realize this clearly yet; but he had begun to take what the nurses call “notice,” as do those only who are forced on to the defensive against society.

Putting his latch-key into the lock, he recalled the sensation with which, that afternoon, he had opened to Gyp for the first time– half furtive, half defiant. It would be all defiance now. This was the end of the old order! And, lighting a fire in his sitting- room, he began pulling out drawers, sorting and destroying. He worked for hours, burning, making lists, packing papers and photographs. Finishing at last, he drank a stiff whisky and soda, and sat down to smoke. Now that the room was quiet, Gyp seemed to fill it again with her presence. Closing his eyes, he could see her there by the hearth, just as she stood before they left, turning her face up to him, murmuring: “You won’t stop loving me, now you’re so sure I love you?” Stop loving her! The more she loved him, the more he would love her. And he said aloud: “By God! I won’t!” At that remark, so vehement for the time of night, the old Scotch terrier, Ossian, came from his corner and shoved his long black nose into his master’s hand.

“Come along up, Ossy! Good dog, Oss!” And, comforted by the warmth of that black body beside him in the chair, Summerhay fell asleep in front of the fire smouldering with blackened fragments of his past.


Though Gyp had never seemed to look round she had been quite conscious of Summerhay still standing where they had parted, watching her into the house in Bury Street. The strength of her own feeling surprised her, as a bather in the sea is surprised, finding her feet will not touch bottom, that she is carried away helpless–only, these were the waters of ecstasy.

For the second night running, she hardly slept, hearing the clocks of St. James’s strike, and Big Ben boom, hour after hour. At breakfast, she told her father of Fiorsen’s reappearance. He received the news with a frown and a shrewd glance.

“Well, Gyp?”

“I told him.”

His feelings, at that moment, were perhaps as mixed as they had ever been–curiosity, parental disapproval, to which he knew he was not entitled, admiration of her pluck in letting that fellow know, fears for the consequences of this confession, and, more than all, his profound disturbance at knowing her at last launched into the deep waters of love. It was the least of these feelings that found expression.

“How did he take it?”

“Rushed away. The only thing I feel sure of is that he won’t divorce me.”

“No, by George; I don’t suppose even he would have that impudence!” And Winton was silent, trying to penetrate the future. “Well,” he said suddenly, “it’s on the knees of the gods then. But be careful, Gyp.”

About noon, Betty returned from the sea, with a solemn, dark-eyed, cooing little Gyp, brown as a roasted coffee-berry. When she had been given all that she could wisely eat after the journey, Gyp carried her off to her own room, undressed her for sheer delight of kissing her from head to foot, and admiring her plump brown legs, then cuddled her up in a shawl and lay down with her on the bed. A few sleepy coos and strokings, and little Gyp had left for the land of Nod, while her mother lay gazing at her black lashes with a kind of passion. She was not a child-lover by nature; but this child of her own, with her dark softness, plump delicacy, giving disposition, her cooing voice, and constant adjurations to “dear mum,” was adorable. There was something about her insidiously seductive. She had developed so quickly, with the graceful roundness of a little animal, the perfection of a flower. The Italian blood of her great-great-grandmother was evidently prepotent in her as yet; and, though she was not yet two years old, her hair, which had lost its baby darkness, was already curving round her neck and waving on her forehead. One of her tiny brown hands had escaped the shawl and grasped its edge with determined softness. And while Gyp gazed at the pinkish nails and their absurdly wee half-moons, at the sleeping tranquillity stirred by breathing no more than a rose-leaf on a windless day, her lips grew fuller, trembled, reached toward the dark lashes, till she had to rein her neck back with a jerk to stop such self-indulgence. Soothed, hypnotized, almost in a dream, she lay there beside her baby.

That evening, at dinner, Winton said calmly:

“Well, I’ve been to see Fiorsen, and warned him off. Found him at that fellow Rosek’s.” Gyp received the news with a vague sensation of alarm. “And I met that girl, the dancer, coming out of the house as I was going in–made it plain I’d seen her, so I don’t think he’ll trouble you.”

An irresistible impulse made her ask:

“How was she looking, Dad?”

Winton smiled grimly. How to convey his impression of the figure he had seen coming down the steps–of those eyes growing rounder and rounder at sight of him, of that mouth opening in an: “Oh!”

“Much the same. Rather flabbergasted at seeing me, I think. A white hat–very smart. Attractive in her way, but common, of course. Those two were playing the piano and fiddle when I went up. They tried not to let me in, but I wasn’t to be put off. Queer place, that!”

Gyp smiled. She could see it all so well. The black walls, the silver statuettes, Rops drawings, scent of dead rose-leaves and pastilles and cigarettes–and those two by the piano–and her father so cool and dry!

“One can’t stand on ceremony with fellows like that. I hadn’t forgotten that Polish chap’s behaviour to you, my dear.”

Through Gyp passed a quiver of dread, a vague return of the feelings once inspired by Rosek.

“I’m almost sorry you went, Dad. Did you say anything very–“

“Did I? Let’s see! No; I think I was quite polite.” He added, with a grim, little smile: “I won’t swear I didn’t call one of them a ruffian. I know they said something about my presuming on being a cripple.”

“Oh, darling!”

“Yes; it was that Polish chap–and so he is!”

Gyp murmured:

“I’d almost rather it had been–the other.” Rosek’s pale, suave face, with the eyes behind which there were such hidden things, and the lips sweetish and restrained and sensual–he would never forgive! But Winton only smiled again, patting her arm. He was pleased with an encounter which had relieved his feelings.

Gyp spent all that evening writing her first real love-letter. But when, next afternoon at six, in fulfilment of its wording, she came to Summerhay’s little house, her heart sank; for the blinds were down and it had a deserted look. If he had been there, he would have been at the window, waiting. Had he, then, not got her letter, not been home since yesterday? And that chill fear which besets lovers’ hearts at failure of a tryst smote her for the first time. In the three-cornered garden stood a decayed statue of a naked boy with a broken bow–a sparrow was perching on his greenish shoulder; sooty, heart-shaped lilac leaves hung round his head, and at his legs the old Scotch terrier was sniffing. Gyp called: “Ossian! Ossy!” and the old dog came, wagging his tail feebly.

“Master! Where is your master, dear?”

Ossian poked his long nose into her calf, and that gave her a little comfort. She passed, perforce, away from the deserted house and returned home; but all manner of frightened thoughts beset her. Where had he gone? Why had he gone? Why had he not let her know? Doubts–those hasty attendants on passion–came thronging, and scepticism ran riot. What did she know of his life, of his interests, of him, except that he said he loved her? Where had he gone? To Widrington, to some smart house-party, or even back to Scotland? The jealous feelings that had so besieged her at the bungalow when his letters ceased came again now with redoubled force. There must be some woman who, before their love began, had claim on him, or some girl that he admired. He never told her of any such–of course, he would not! She was amazed and hurt by her capacity for jealousy. She had always thought she would be too proud to feel jealousy–a sensation so dark and wretched and undignified, but–alas!–so horribly real and clinging.

She had said she was not dining at home; so Winton had gone to his club, and she was obliged to partake of a little trumped-up lonely meal. She went up to her room after it, but there came on her such restlessness that presently she put on her things and slipped out. She went past St. James’s Church into Piccadilly, to the further, crowded side, and began to walk toward the park. This was foolish; but to do a foolish thing was some relief, and she went along with a faint smile, mocking her own recklessness. Several women of the town–ships of night with sails set–came rounding out of side streets or down the main stream, with their skilled, rapid-seeming slowness. And at the discomfited, half-hostile stares on their rouged and powdered faces, Gyp felt a wicked glee. She was disturbing, hurting them–and she wanted to hurt.

Presently, a man, in evening dress, with overcoat thrown open, gazed pointblank into her face, and, raising his hat, ranged up beside her. She walked straight on, still with that half-smile, knowing him puzzled and fearfully attracted. Then an insensate wish to stab him to the heart made her turn her head and look at him. At the expression on her face, he wilted away from her, and again she felt that wicked glee at having hurt him.

She crossed out into the traffic, to the park side, and turned back toward St. James’s; and now she was possessed by profound, black sadness. If only her lover were beside her that beautiful evening, among the lights and shadows of the trees, in the warm air! Why was he not among these passers-by? She who could bring any casual man to her side by a smile could not conjure up the only one she wanted from this great desert of a town! She hurried along, to get in and hide her longing. But at the corner of St. James’s Street, she stopped. That was his club, nearly opposite. Perhaps he was there, playing cards or billiards, a few yards away, and yet as in another world. Presently he would come out, go to some music-hall, or stroll home thinking of her–perhaps not even thinking of her! Another woman passed, giving her a furtive glance. But Gyp felt no glee now. And, crossing over, close under the windows of the club, she hurried home. When she reached her room, she broke into a storm of tears. How could she have liked hurting those poor women, hurting that man–who was only paying her a man’s compliment, after all? And with these tears, her jealous, wild feelings passed, leaving only her longing.

Next morning brought a letter. Summerhay wrote from an inn on the river, asking her to come down by the eleven o’clock train, and he would meet her at the station. He wanted to show her a house that he had seen; and they could have the afternoon on the river! Gyp received this letter, which began: “My darling!” with an ecstasy that she could not quite conceal. And Winton, who had watched her face, said presently:

“I think I shall go to Newmarket, Gyp. Home to-morrow evening.”

In the train on the way down, she sat with closed eyes, in a sort of trance. If her lover had been there holding her in his arms, he could not have seemed nearer.

She saw him as the train ran in; but they met without a hand-clasp, without a word, simply looking at each other and breaking into smiles.

A little victoria “dug up”–as Summerhay said–“horse, driver and all,” carried them slowly upward. Under cover of the light rugs their hands were clasped, and they never ceased to look into each other’s faces, except for those formal glances of propriety which deceive no one.

The day was beautiful, as only early September days can be–when the sun is hot, yet not too hot, and its light falls in a silken radiance on trees just losing the opulent monotony of summer, on silvery-gold reaped fields, silvery-green uplands, golden mustard; when shots ring out in the distance, and, as one gazes, a leaf falls, without reason, as it would seem. Presently they branched off the main road by a lane past a clump of beeches and drew up at the gate of a lonely house, built of very old red brick, and covered by Virginia creeper just turning–a house with an ingle- nook and low, broad chimneys. Before it was a walled, neglected lawn, with poplars and one large walnut-tree. The sunlight seemed to have collected in that garden, and there was a tremendous hum of bees. Above the trees, the downs could be seen where racehorses, they said, were trained. Summerhay had the keys of the house, and they went in. To Gyp, it was like a child’s “pretending”–to imagine they were going to live there together, to sort out the rooms and consecrate each. She would not spoil this perfect day by argument or admission of the need for a decision. And when he asked:

“Well, darling, what do you think of it?” she only answered:

“Oh, lovely, in a way; but let’s go back to the river and make the most of it.”

They took boat at ‘The Bowl of Cream,’ the river inn where Summerhay was staying. To him, who had been a rowing man at Oxford, the river was known from Lechlade to Richmond; but Gyp had never in her life been on it, and its placid magic, unlike that of any other river in the world, almost overwhelmed her. On this glistening, windless day, to drift along past the bright, flat water-lily leaves over the greenish depths, to listen to the pigeons, watch the dragon-flies flitting past, and the fish leaping lazily, not even steering, letting her hand dabble in the water, then cooling her sun-warmed cheek with it, and all the time gazing at Summerhay, who, dipping his sculls gently, gazed at her–all this was like a voyage down some river of dreams, the very fulfilment of felicity. There is a degree of happiness known to the human heart which seems to belong to some enchanted world–a bright maze into which, for a moment now and then, we escape and wander. To-day, he was more than ever like her Botticelli “Young Man,” with his neck bare, and his face so clear-eyed and broad and brown. Had she really had a life with another man? And only a year ago? It seemed inconceivable!

But when, in the last backwater, he tied the boat up and came to sit with her once more, it was already getting late, and the vague melancholy of the now shadowy river was stealing into her. And, with a sort of sinking in her heart, she heard him begin:

“Gyp, we MUST go away together. We can never stand it going on apart, snatching hours here and there.”

Pressing his hand to her cheeks, she murmured:

“Why not, darling? Hasn’t this been perfect? What could we ever have more perfect? It’s been paradise itself!”

“Yes; but to be thrown out every day! To be whole days and nights without you! Gyp, you must–you must! What is there against it? Don’t you love me enough?”

She looked at him, and then away into the shadows.

“Too much, I think. It’s tempting Providence to change. Let’s go on as we are, Bryan. No; don’t look like that–don’t be angry!”

“Why are you afraid? Are you sorry for our love?”

“No; but let it be like this. Don’t let’s risk anything.”

“Risk? Is it people–society–you’re afraid of? I thought YOU wouldn’t care.”

Gyp smiled.

“Society? No; I’m not afraid of that.”

“What, then? Of me?”

“I don’t know. Men soon get tired. I’m a doubter, Bryan, I can’t help it.”

“As if anyone could get tired of you! Are you afraid of yourself?”

Again Gyp smiled.

“Not of loving too little, I told you.”

“How can one love too much?”

She drew his head down to her. But when that kiss was over, she only said again:

“No, Bryan; let’s go on as we are. I’ll make up to you when I’m with you. If you were to tire of me, I couldn’t bear it.”

For a long time more he pleaded–now with anger, now with kisses, now with reasonings; but, to all, she opposed that same tender, half-mournful “No,” and, at last, he gave it up, and, in dogged silence, rowed her to the village, whence she was to take train back. It was dusk when they left the boat, and dew was falling. Just before they reached the station, she caught his hand and pressed it to her breast.

“Darling, don’t be angry with me! Perhaps I will–some day.”

And, in the train, she tried to think herself once more in the boat, among the shadows and the whispering reeds and all the quiet wonder of the river.


On reaching home she let herself in stealthily, and, though she had not had dinner, went up at once to her room. She was just taking off her blouse when Betty entered, her round face splotched with red, and tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Betty! What is it?”

“Oh, my dear, where HAVE you been? Such a dreadful piece of news! They’ve stolen her! That wicked man–your husband–he took her right out of her pram–and went off with her in a great car–he and that other one! I’ve been half out of my mind!” Gyp stared aghast. “I hollered to a policeman. ‘He’s stolen her–her father! Catch them!’ I said. ‘However shall I face my mistress?'” She stopped for breath, then burst out again. “‘He’s a bad one,’ I said. ‘A foreigner! They’re both foreigners!’ ‘Her father?’ he said. ‘Well, why shouldn’t he? He’s only givin’ her a joy ride. He’ll bring her back, never you fear.’ And I ran home–I didn’t know where you were. Oh dear! The major away and all–what was I to do? I’d just turned round to shut the gate of the square gardens, and I never saw him till he’d put his great long arm over the pram and snatched her out.” And, sitting on the bed, she gave way utterly.

Gyp stood still. Nemesis for her happiness? That vengeful wretch, Rosek! This was his doing. And she said:

“Oh, Betty, she must be crying!”

A fresh outburst of moans was the only answer. Gyp remembered suddenly what the lawyer had said over a year ago–it had struck her with terror at the time. In law, Fiorsen owned and could claim her child. She could have got her back, then, by bringing a horrible case against him, but now, perhaps, she had no chance. Was it her return to Fiorsen that they aimed at–or the giving up of her lover? She went over to her mirror, saying:

“We’ll go at once, Betty, and get her back somehow. Wash your face.”

While she made ready, she fought down those two horrible fears–of losing her child, of losing her lover; the less she feared, the better she could act, the more subtly, the swifter. She remembered that she had somewhere a little stiletto, given her a long time ago. She hunted it out, slipped off its red-leather sheath, and, stabbing the point into a tiny cork, slipped it beneath her blouse. If they could steal her baby, they were capable of anything. She wrote a note to her father, telling him what had happened, and saying where she had gone. Then, in a taxi, they set forth. Cold water and the calmness of her mistress had removed from Betty the main traces of emotion; but she clasped Gyp’s hand hard and gave vent to heavy sighs.

Gyp would not think. If she thought of her little one crying, she knew she would cry, too. But her hatred for those who had dealt this cowardly blow grew within her. She took a resolution and said quietly:

“Mr. Summerhay, Betty. That’s why they’ve stolen our darling. I suppose you know he and I care for each other. They’ve stolen her so as to make me do anything they like.”

A profound sigh answered her.

Behind that moon-face with the troubled eyes, what conflict was in progress–between unquestioning morality and unquestioning belief in Gyp, between fears for her and wishes for her happiness, between the loyal retainer’s habit of accepting and the old nurse’s feeling of being in charge? She said faintly:

“Oh dear! He’s a nice gentleman, too!” And suddenly, wheezing it out with unexpected force: “To say truth, I never did hold you was rightly married to that foreigner in that horrible registry place– no music, no flowers, no blessin’ asked, nor nothing. I cried me eyes out at the time.”

Gyp said quietly:

“No; Betty, I never was. I only thought I was in love.” A convulsive squeeze and creaking, whiffling sounds heralded a fresh outburst. “Don’t cry; we’re just there. Think of our darling!”

The cab stopped. Feeling for her little weapon, she got out, and with her hand slipped firmly under Betty’s arm, led the way upstairs. Chilly shudders ran down her spine–memories of Daphne Wing and Rosek, of that large woman–what was her name?–of many other faces, of unholy hours spent up there, in a queer state, never quite present, never comfortable in soul; memories of late returnings down these wide stairs out to their cab, of Fiorsen beside her in the darkness, his dim, broad-cheekboned face moody in the corner or pressed close to hers. Once they had walked a long way homeward in the dawn, Rosek with them, Fiorsen playing on his muted violin, to the scandal of the policemen and the cats. Dim, unreal memories! Grasping Betty’s arm more firmly, she rang the bell. When the man servant, whom she remembered well, opened the door, her lips were so dry that they could hardly form the words:

“Is Mr. Fiorsen in, Ford?”

“No, ma’am; Mr. Fiorsen and Count Rosek went into the country this afternoon. I haven’t their address at present.” She must have turned white, for she could hear the man saying: “Anything I can get you, ma’am?”

“When did they start, please?”

“One o’clock, ma’am–by car. Count Rosek was driving himself. I should say they won’t be away long–they just had their bags with them.” Gyp put out her hand helplessly; she heard the servant say in a concerned voice: “I could let you know the moment they return, ma’am, if you’d kindly leave me your address.”

Giving her card, and murmuring:

“Thank you, Ford; thank you very much,” she grasped Betty’s arm again and leaned heavily on her going down the stairs.

It was real, black fear now. To lose helpless things–children– dogs–and know for certain that one cannot get to them, no matter what they may be suffering! To be pinned down to ignorance and have in her ears the crying of her child–this horror, Gyp suffered now. And nothing to be done! Nothing but to go to bed and wait– hardest of all tasks! Mercifully–thanks to her long day in the open–she fell at last into a dreamless sleep, and when she was called, there was a letter from Fiorsen on the tray with her tea.


“I am not a baby-stealer like your father. The law gives me the right to my own child. But swear to give up your lover, and the baby shall come back to you at once. If you do not give him up, I will take her away out of England. Send me an answer to this post- office, and do not let your father try any tricks upon me.


Beneath was written the address of a West End post-office.

When Gyp had finished reading, she went through some moments of such mental anguish as she had never known, but–just as when Betty first told her of the stealing–her wits and wariness came quickly back. Had he been drinking when he wrote that letter? She could almost fancy that she smelled brandy, but it was so easy to fancy what one wanted to. She read it through again–this time, she felt almost sure that it had been dictated to him. If he had composed the wording himself, he would never have resisted a gibe at the law, or a gibe at himself for thus safeguarding her virtue. It was Rosek’s doing. Her anger flamed up anew. Since they used such mean, cruel ways, why need she herself be scrupulous? She sprang out of bed and wrote:

“How COULD you do such a brutal thing? At all events, let the darling have her nurse. It’s not like you to let a little child suffer. Betty will be ready to come the minute you send for her. As for myself, you must give me time to decide. I will let you know within two days.


When she had sent this off, and a telegram to her father at Newmarket, she read Fiorsen’s letter once more, and was more than ever certain that it was Rosek’s wording. And, suddenly, she thought of Daphne Wing, whom her father had seen coming out of Rosek’s house. Through her there might be a way of getting news. She seemed to see again the girl lying so white and void of hope when robbed by death of her own just-born babe. Yes; surely it was worth trying.

An hour later, her cab stopped before the Wagges’ door in Frankland Street. But just as she was about to ring the bell, a voice from behind her said:

“Allow me; I have a key. What may I–Oh, it’s you!” She turned. Mr. Wagge, in professional habiliments, was standing there. “Come in; come in,” he said. “I was wondering whether perhaps we shouldn’t be seeing you after what’s transpired.”

Hanging his tall black hat, craped nearly to the crown, on a knob of the mahogany stand, he said huskily:

“I DID think we’d seen the last of that,” and opened the dining- room door. “Come in, ma’am. We can put our heads together better in here.”

In that too well remembered room, the table was laid with a stained white cloth, a cruet-stand, and bottle of Worcestershire sauce. The little blue bowl was gone, so that nothing now marred the harmony of red and green. Gyp said quickly:

“Doesn’t Daph–Daisy live at home, then, now?”

The expression on Mr. Wagge’s face was singular; suspicion, relief, and a sort of craftiness were blended with that furtive admiration which Gyp seemed always to excite in him.

“Do I understand that you–er–“

“I came to ask if Daisy would do something for me.”

Mr. Wagge blew his nose.

“You didn’t know–” he began again.

“Yes; I dare say she sees my husband, if that’s what you mean; and I don’t mind–he’s nothing to me now.”

Mr. Wagge’s face became further complicated by the sensations of a husband.

“Well,” he said, “it’s not to be wondered at, perhaps, in the circumstances. I’m sure I always thought–“

Gyp interrupted swiftly.

“Please, Mr. Wagge–please! Will you give me Daisy’s address?”

Mr. Wagge remained a moment in deep thought; then he said, in a gruff, jerky voice:

“Seventy-three Comrade Street, So’o. Up to seeing him there on Tuesday, I must say I cherished every hope. Now I’m sorry I didn’t strike him–he was too quick for me–” He had raised one of his gloved hands and was sawing it up and down. The sight of that black object cleaving the air nearly made Gyp scream, her nerves were so on edge. “It’s her blasted independence–I beg pardon–but who wouldn’t?” he ended suddenly.

Gyp passed him.

“Who wouldn’t?” she heard his voice behind her. “I did think she’d have run straight this time–” And while she was fumbling at the outer door, his red, pudgy face, with its round grey beard, protruded almost over her shoulder. “If you’re going to see her, I hope you’ll–“

Gyp was gone. In her cab she shivered. Once she had lunched with her father at a restaurant in the Strand. It had been full of Mr. Wagges. But, suddenly, she thought: ‘It’s hard on him, poor man!’


Seventy-three Comrade Street, Soho, was difficult to find; but, with the aid of a milk-boy, Gyp discovered the alley at last, and the right door. There her pride took sudden alarm, and but for the milk-boy’s eyes fixed on her while he let out his professional howl, she might have fled. A plump white hand and wrist emerging took the can, and Daphne Wing’s voice said:

“Oh, where’s the cream?”

“Ain’t got none.”

“Oh! I told you always–two pennyworth at twelve o’clock.”

“Two penn’orth.” The boy’s eyes goggled.

“Didn’t you want to speak to her, miss?” He beat the closing door. “Lidy wants to speak to you! Good-mornin’, miss.”

The figure of Daphne Wing in a blue kimono was revealed. Her eyes peered round at Gyp.

“Oh!” she said.

“May I come in?”

“Oh, yes! Oh, do! I’ve been practising. Oh, I am glad to see you!”

In the middle of the studio, a little table was laid for two. Daphne Wing went up to it, holding in one hand the milk-can and in the other a short knife, with which she had evidently been opening oysters. Placing the knife on the table, she turned round to Gyp. Her face was deep pink, and so was her neck, which ran V-shaped down into the folds of her kimono. Her eyes, round as saucers, met Gyp’s, fell, met them again. She said:

“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, I am glad! I really am. I wanted you so much to see my room–do you like it? How DID you know where I was?” She looked down and added: “I think I’d better tell you. Mr. Fiorsen came here, and, since then, I’ve seen him at Count Rosek’s– and–and–“

“Yes; but don’t trouble to tell me, please.”

Daphne Wing hurried on.

“Of course, I’m quite mistress of myself now.” Then, all at once, the uneasy woman-of-the-world mask dropped from her face and she seized Gyp’s hand. “Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, I shall never be like you!”

With a little shiver, Gyp said:

“I hope not.” Her pride rushed up in her. How could she ask this girl anything? She choked back that feeling, and said stonily: “Do you remember my baby? No, of course; you never saw her. HE and Count Rosek have just taken her away from me.”

Daphne Wing convulsively squeezed the hand of which she had possessed herself.

“Oh, what a wicked thing! When?”

“Yesterday afternoon.”

“Oh, I AM glad I haven’t seen him since! Oh, I DO think that was wicked! Aren’t you dreadfully distressed?” The least of smiles played on Gyp’s mouth. Daphne Wing burst forth: “D’you know–I think–I think your self-control is something awful. It frightens me. If my baby had lived and been stolen like that, I should have been half dead by now.”

Gyp answered stonily as ever:

“Yes; I want her back, and I wondered–“

Daphne Wing clasped her hands.

“Oh, I expect I can make him–” She stopped, confused, then added hastily: “Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“I shouldn’t mind if he had fifty loves. Perhaps he has.”

Daphne Wing uttered a little gasp; then her teeth came down rather viciously on her lower lip.

“I mean him to do what I want now, not what he wants me. That’s the only way when you love. Oh, don’t smile like that, please; you do make me feel so–uncertain.”

“When are you going to see him next?”

Daphne Wing grew very pink.

“I don’t know. He might be coming in to lunch. You see, it’s not as if he were a stranger, is it?” Casting up her eyes a little, she added: “He won’t even let me speak your name; it makes him mad. That’s why I’m sure he still loves you; only, his love is so funny.” And, seizing Gyp’s hand: “I shall never forget how good you were to me. I do hope you–you love somebody else.” Gyp pressed those damp, clinging fingers, and Daphne Wing hurried on: “I’m sure your baby’s a darling. How you must be suffering! You look quite pale. But it isn’t any good suffering. I learned that.”

Her eyes lighted on the table, and a faint ruefulness came into them, as if she were going to ask Gyp to eat the oysters.

Gyp bent forward and put her lips to the girl’s forehead.

“Good-bye. My baby would thank you if she knew.”

And she turned to go. She heard a sob. Daphne Wing was crying; then, before Gyp could speak, she struck herself on the throat, and said, in a strangled voice:

“Tha–that’s idiotic! I–I haven’t cried since–since, you know. I–I’m perfect mistress of myself; only, I–only–I suppose you reminded me–I NEVER cry!”

Those words and the sound of a hiccough accompanied Gyp down the alley to her cab.

When she got back to Bury Street, she found Betty sitting in the hall with her bonnet on. She had not been sent for, nor had any reply come from Newmarket. Gyp could not eat, could settle to nothing. She went up to her bedroom to get away from the servants’ eyes, and went on mechanically with a frock of little Gyp’s she had begun on the fatal morning Fiorsen had come back. Every other minute she stopped to listen to sounds that never meant anything, went a hundred times to the window to look at nothing. Betty, too, had come upstairs, and was in the nursery opposite; Gyp could hear her moving about restlessly among her household gods. Presently, those sounds ceased, and, peering into the room, she saw the stout woman still in her bonnet, sitting on a trunk, with her back turned, uttering heavy sighs. Gyp stole back into her own room with a sick, trembling sensation. If–if her baby really could not be recovered except by that sacrifice! If that cruel letter were the last word, and she forced to decide between them! Which would she give up? Which follow–her lover or her child?

She went to the window for air–the pain about her heart was dreadful. And, leaning there against the shutter, she felt quite dizzy from the violence of a struggle that refused coherent thought or feeling, and was just a dumb pull of instincts, both so terribly strong–how terribly strong she had not till then perceived.

Her eyes fell on the picture that reminded her of Bryan; it seemed now to have no resemblance–none. He was much too real, and loved, and wanted. Less than twenty-four hours ago, she had turned a deaf ear to his pleading that she should go to him for ever. How funny! Would she not rush to him now–go when and where he liked? Ah, if only she were back in his arms! Never could she give him up– never! But then in her ears sounded the cooing words, “Dear mum!” Her baby–that tiny thing–how could she give her up, and never again hold close and kiss that round, perfect little body, that grave little dark-eyed face?

The roar of London came in through the open window. So much life, so many people–and not a soul could help! She left the window and went to the cottage-piano she had there, out of Winton’s way. But she only sat with arms folded, looking at the keys. The song that girl had sung at Fiorsen’s concert–song of the broken heart–came back to her.

No, no; she couldn’t–couldn’t! It was to her lover she would cling. And tears ran down her cheeks.

A cab had stopped below, but not till Betty came rushing in did she look up.


When, trembling all over, she entered the dining-room, Fiorsen was standing by the sideboard, holding the child.

He came straight up and put her into Gyp’s arms.

“Take her,” he said, “and do what you will. Be happy.”

Hugging her baby, close to the door as she could get, Gyp answered nothing. Her heart was in such a tumult that she could not have spoken a word to save her life; relieved, as one dying of thirst by unexpected water; grateful, bewildered, abashed, yet instinctively aware of something evanescent and unreal in his altruism. Daphne Wing! What bargain did this represent?

Fiorsen must have felt the chill of this instinctive vision, for he cried out:

“Yes! You never believed in me; you never thought me capable of good! Why didn’t you?”

Gyp bent her face over her baby to hide the quivering of her lips.

“I am sorry–very, very sorry.”

Fiorsen came closer and looked into her face.

“By God, I am afraid I shall never forget you–never!”

Tears had come into his eyes, and Gyp watched them, moved, troubled, but still deeply mistrusting.

He brushed his hand across his face; and the thought flashed through her: ‘He means me to see them! Ah, what a cynical wretch I am!’

Fiorsen saw that thought pass, and muttering suddenly:

“Good-bye, Gyp! I am not all bad. I AM NOT!” He tore the door open and was gone.

That passionate “I am not!” saved Gyp from a breakdown. No; even at his highest pitch of abnegation, he could not forget himself.

Relief, if overwhelming, is slowly realized; but when, at last, what she had escaped and what lay before her were staring full in each other’s face, it seemed to her that she must cry out, and tell the whole world of her intoxicating happiness. And the moment little Gyp was in Betty’s arms, she sat down and wrote to Summerhay:


“I’ve had a fearful time. My baby was stolen by him while I was with you. He wrote me a letter saying that he would give her back to me if I gave you up. But I found I couldn’t give you up, not even for my baby. And then, a few minutes ago, he brought her– none the worse. Tomorrow we shall all go down to Mildenham; but very soon, if you still want me, I’ll come with you wherever you like. My father and Betty will take care of my treasure till we come back; and then, perhaps, the old red house we saw–after all. Only–now is the time for you to draw back. Look into the future– look far! Don’t let any foolish pity–or honour–weigh with you; be utterly sure, I do beseech you. I can just bear it now if I know it’s for your good. But afterward it’ll be too late. It would be the worst misery of all if I made you unhappy. Oh, make sure–make sure! I shall understand. I mean this with every bit of me. And now, good-night, and perhaps–good-bye.



She read it over and shivered. Did she really mean that she could bear it if he drew back–if he did look far, far into the future, and decided that she was not worth the candle? Ah, but better now– than later.

She closed and sealed the letter, and sat down to wait for her father. And she thought: ‘Why does one have a heart? Why is there in one something so much too soft?’

Ten days later, at Mildenham station, holding her father’s hand, Gyp could scarcely see him for the mist before her eyes. How good he had been to her all those last days, since she told him that she was going to take the plunge! Not a word of remonstrance or complaint.

“Good-bye, my love! Take care of yourself; wire from London, and again from Paris.” And, smiling up at her, he added: “He has luck; I had none.”

The mist became tears, rolled down, fell on his glove.

“Not too long out there, Gyp!”

She pressed her wet cheek passionately to his. The train moved, but, so long as she could see, she watched him standing on the platform, waving his grey hat, then, in her corner, sat down, blinded with tears behind her veil. She had not cried when she left him the day of her fatal marriage; she cried now that she was leaving him to go to her incredible happiness.

Strange! But her heart had grown since then.



Little Gyp, aged nearly four and a half that first of May, stood at the edge of the tulip border, bowing to two hen turkeys who were poking their heads elegantly here and there among the flowers. She was absurdly like her mother, the same oval-shaped face, dark arched brows, large and clear brown eyes; but she had the modern child’s open-air look; her hair, that curled over at the ends, was not allowed to be long, and her polished brown legs were bare to the knees.

“Turkeys! You aren’t good, are you? Come ON!” And, stretching out her hands with the palms held up, she backed away from the tulip-bed. The turkeys, trailing delicately their long-toed feet and uttering soft, liquid interrogations, moved after her in hopes of what she was not holding in her little brown hands. The sun, down in the west, for it was past tea-time, slanted from over the roof of the red house, and painted up that small procession–the deep blue frock of little Gyp, the glint of gold in the chestnut of her hair; the daisy-starred grass; the dark birds with translucent red dewlaps, and checkered tails and the tulip background, puce and red and yellow. When she had lured them to the open gate, little Gyp raised herself, and said:

“Aren’t you duffies, dears? Shoo!” And on the tails of the turkeys she shut the gate. Then she went to where, under the walnut-tree–the one large tree of that walled garden–a very old Scotch terrier was lying, and sitting down beside him, began stroking his white muzzle, saying:

“Ossy, Ossy, do you love me?”

Presently, seeing her mother in the porch, she jumped up, and crying out: “Ossy–Ossy! Walk!” rushed to Gyp and embraced her legs, while the old Scotch terrier slowly followed.

Thus held prisoner, Gyp watched the dog’s approach. Nearly three years had changed her a little. Her face was softer, and rather more grave, her form a little fuller, her hair, if anything, darker, and done differently–instead of waving in wings and being coiled up behind, it was smoothly gathered round in a soft and lustrous helmet, by which fashion the shape of her head was better revealed.

“Darling, go and ask Pettance to put a fresh piece of sulphur in Ossy’s water-bowl, and to cut up his meat finer. You can give Hotspur and Brownie two lumps of sugar each; and then we’ll go out.” Going down on her knees in the porch, she parted the old dog’s hair, and examined his eczema, thinking: “I must rub some more of that stuff in to-night. Oh, ducky, you’re not smelling your best! Yes; only–not my face!”

A telegraph-boy was coming from the gate. Gyp opened the missive with the faint tremor she always felt when Summerhay was not with her.

“Detained; shall be down by last train; need not come up to-morrow.– BRYAN.”

When the boy was gone, she stooped down and stroked the old dog’s head.

“Master home all day to-morrow, Ossy–master home!”

A voice from the path said, “Beautiful evenin’, ma’am.”

The “old scoundrel,” Pettance, stiffer in the ankle-joints, with more lines in his gargoyle’s face, fewer stumps in his gargoyle’s mouth, more film over his dark, burning little eyes, was standing before her, and, behind him, little Gyp, one foot rather before the other, as Gyp had been wont to stand, waited gravely.

“Oh, Pettance, Mr. Summerhay will be at home all to-morrow, and we’ll go a long ride: and when you exercise, will you call at the inn, in case I don’t go that way, and tell Major Winton I expect him to dinner to-night?”

“Yes, ma’am; and I’ve seen the pony for little Miss Gyp this morning, ma’am. It’s a mouse pony, five year old, sound, good temper, pretty little paces. I says to the man: ‘Don’t you come it over me,’ I says; ‘I was born on an ‘orse. Talk of twenty pounds, for that pony! Ten, and lucky to get it!’ ‘Well,’ he says, ‘Pettance, it’s no good to talk round an’ round with you. Fifteen!’ he says. ‘I’ll throw you one in,’ I says, ‘Eleven! Take it or leave it.’ ‘Ah!’ he says, ‘Pettance, YOU know ‘ow to buy an ‘orse. All right,’ he says; ‘twelve!’ She’s worth all of fifteen, ma’am, and the major’s passed her. So if you likes to have ‘er, there she is!”

Gyp looked at her little daughter, who had given one excited hop, but now stood still, her eyes flying up at her mother and her lips parted; and she thought: “The darling! She never begs for anything!”

“Very well, Pettance; buy her.”

The “old scoundrel” touched his forelock:

“Yes, ma’am–very good, ma’am. Beautiful evenin’, ma’am.” And, withdrawing at his gait of one whose feet are at permanent right angles to the legs, he mused: ‘And that’ll be two in my pocket.’

Ten minutes later Gyp, little Gyp, and Ossian emerged from the garden gate for their evening walk. They went, not as usual, up to the downs, but toward the river, making for what they called “the wild.” This was an outlying plot of neglected ground belonging to their farm, two sedgy meadows, hedged by banks on which grew oaks and ashes. An old stone linhay, covered to its broken thatch by a huge ivy bush, stood at the angle where the meadows met. The spot had a strange life to itself in that smooth, kempt countryside of cornfields, grass, and beech-clumps; it was favoured by beasts and birds, and little Gyp had recently seen two baby hares there. From an oak-tree, where the crinkled leaves were not yet large enough to hide him, a cuckoo was calling and they stopped to look at the grey bird till he flew off. The singing and serenity, the green and golden oaks and ashes, the flowers–marsh-orchis, ladies’ smocks, and cuckoo-buds, starring the rushy grass–all brought to Gyp that feeling of the uncapturable spirit which lies behind the forms of nature, the shadowy, hovering smile of life that is ever vanishing and ever springing again out of death. While they stood there close to the old linhay a bird came flying round them in wide circles, uttering shrill cries. It had a long beak and long, pointed wings, and seemed distressed by their presence. Little Gyp squeezed her mother’s hand.

“Poor bird! Isn’t it a poor bird, mum?”

“Yes, dear, it’s a curlew–I wonder what’s the matter with it. Perhaps its mate is hurt.”

“What is its mate?”

“The bird it lives with.”

“It’s afraid of us. It’s not like other birds. Is it a real bird, mum? Or one out of the sky?”

“I think it’s real. Shall we go on and see if we can find out what’s the matter?”


They went on into the sedgy grass and the curlew continued to circle, vanishing and reappearing from behind the trees, always uttering those shrill cries. Little Gyp said:

“Mum, could we speak to it? Because we’re not going to hurt nothing, are we?”

“Of course not, darling! But I’m afraid the poor bird’s too wild. Try, if you like. Call to it: ‘Courlie! Courlie!”‘

Little Gyp’s piping joined the curlew’s cries and other bird-songs in the bright shadowy quiet of the evening till Gyp said:

“Oh, look; it’s dipping close to the ground, over there in that corner–it’s got a nest! We won’t go near, will we?”

Little Gyp echoed in a hushed voice:

“It’s got a nest.”

They stole back out of the gate close to the linhay, the curlew still fighting and crying behind them.

“Aren’t we glad the mate isn’t hurt, mum?”

Gyp answered with a shiver:

“Yes, darling, fearfully glad. Now then, shall we go down and ask Grandy to come up to dinner?”

Little Gyp hopped. And they went toward the river.

At “The Bowl of Cream,” Winton had for two years had rooms, which he occupied as often as his pursuits permitted. He had refused to make his home with Gyp, desiring to be on hand only when she wanted him; and a simple life of it he led in those simple quarters, riding with her when Summerhay was in town, visiting the cottagers, smoking cigars, laying plans for the defence of his daughter’s position, and devoting himself to the whims of little Gyp. This moment, when his grandchild was to begin to ride, was in a manner sacred to one for whom life had scant meaning apart from horses. Looking at them, hand in hand, Gyp thought: ‘Dad loves her as much as he loves me now–more, I think.’

Lonely dinner at the inn was an infliction which he studiously concealed from Gyp, so he accepted their invitation without alacrity, and they walked on up the hill, with little Gyp in the middle, supported by a hand on each side.

The Red House contained nothing that had been in Gyp’s married home except the piano. It had white walls, furniture of old oak, and for pictures reproductions of her favourites. “The Death of Procris” hung in the dining-room. Winton never failed to scrutinize it when he came in to a meal–that “deuced rum affair” appeared to have a fascination for him. He approved of the dining- room altogether; its narrow oak “last supper” table made gay by a strip of blue linen, old brick hearth, casement windows hung with flowered curtains–all had a pleasing austerity, uncannily redeemed to softness. He got on well enough with Summerhay, but he enjoyed himself much more when he was there alone with his daughter. And this evening he was especially glad to have her to himself, for she had seemed of late rather grave and absent-minded. When dinner was over and they were undisturbed, he said:

“It must be pretty dull for you, my dear, sometimes. I wish you saw more people.”

“Oh no, Dad.”

Watching her smile, he thought: ‘That’s not sour grapes”–What is the trouble, then?’

“I suppose you’ve not heard anything of that fellow Fiorsen lately?”

“Not a word. But he’s playing again in London this season, I see.”

“Is he? Ah, that’ll cheer them.” And he thought: ‘It’s not that, then. But there’s something–I’ll swear!’

“I hear that Bryan’s going ahead. I met a man in town last week who spoke of him as about the most promising junior at the bar.”

“Yes; he’s doing awfully well.” And a sound like a faint sigh caught his ears. “Would you say he’s changed much since you knew him, Dad?”

“I don’t know–perhaps a little less jokey.”

“Yes; he’s lost his laugh.”

It was very evenly and softly said, yet it affected Winton.

“Can’t expect him to keep that,” he answered, “turning people inside out, day after day–and most of them rotten. By George, what a life!”

But when he had left her, strolling back in the bright moonlight, he reverted to his suspicions and wished he had said more directly: “Look here, Gyp, are you worrying about Bryan–or have people been making themselves unpleasant?”

He had, in these last three years, become unconsciously inimical to his own class and their imitators, and more than ever friendly to the poor–visiting the labourers, small farmers, and small tradesmen, doing them little turns when he could, giving their children sixpences, and so forth. The fact that they could not afford to put on airs of virtue escaped him; he perceived only that they were respectful and friendly to Gyp and this warmed his heart toward them in proportion as he grew exasperated with the two or three landed families, and that parvenu lot in the riverside villas.

When he first came down, the chief landowner–a man he had known for years–had invited him to lunch. He had accepted with the deliberate intention of finding out where he was, and had taken the first natural opportunity of mentioning his daughter. She was, he said, devoted to her flowers; the Red House had quite a good garden. His friend’s wife, slightly lifting her brows, had answered with a nervous smile: “Oh! yes; of course–yes.” A silence had, not unnaturally, fallen. Since then, Winton had saluted his friend and his friend’s wife with such frigid politeness as froze the very marrow in their bones. He had not gone there fishing for Gyp to be called on, but to show these people that his daughter could not be slighted with impunity. Foolish of him, for, man of the world to his fingertips, he knew perfectly well that a woman living with a man to whom she was not married could not be recognized by people with any pretensions to orthodoxy; Gyp was beyond even the debatable ground on which stood those who have been divorced and are married again. But even a man of the world is not proof against the warping of devotion, and Winton was ready to charge any windmill at any moment on her behalf.

Outside the inn door, exhaling the last puffs of his good-night cigarette, he thought: ‘What wouldn’t I give for the old days, and a chance to wing some of these moral upstarts!’


The last train was not due till eleven-thirty, and having seen that the evening tray had sandwiches, Gyp went to Summerhay’s study, the room at right angles to the body of the house, over which was their bedroom. Here, if she had nothing to do, she always came when he was away, feeling nearer to him. She would have been horrified if she had known of her father’s sentiments on her behalf. Her instant denial of the wish to see more people had been quite genuine. The conditions of her life, in that respect, often seemed to her ideal. It was such a joy to be free of people one did not care two straws about, and of all empty social functions. Everything she had now was real–love, and nature, riding, music, animals, and poor people. What else was worth having? She would not have changed for anything. It often seemed to her that books and plays about the unhappiness of women in her position were all false. If one loved, what could one want better? Such women, if unhappy, could have no pride; or else could not really love! She had recently been reading “Anna Karenina,” and had often said to herself: “There’s something not true about it–as if Tolstoy wanted to make us believe that Anna was secretly feeling remorse. If one loves, one doesn’t feel remorse. Even if my baby had been taken away, I shouldn’t have felt remorse. One gives oneself to love–or one does not.”

She even derived a positive joy from the feeling that her love imposed a sort of isolation; she liked to be apart–for him. Besides, by her very birth she was outside the fold of society, her love beyond the love of those within it–just as her father’s love had been. And her pride was greater than theirs, too. How could women mope and moan because they were cast out, and try to scratch their way back where they were not welcome? How could any woman do that? Sometimes, she wondered whether, if Fiorsen died, she would marry her lover. What difference would it make? She could not love him more. It would only make him feel, perhaps, too sure of her, make it all a matter of course. For herself, she would rather go on as she was. But for him, she was not certain, of late had been less and less certain. He was not bound now, could leave her when he tired! And yet–did he perhaps feel himself more bound than if they were married–unfairly bound? It was this thought– barely more than the shadow of a thought–which had given her, of late, the extra gravity noticed by her father.

In that unlighted room with the moonbeams drifting in, she sat down at Summerhay’s bureau, where he often worked too late at his cases, depriving her of himself. She sat there resting her elbows on the bare wood, crossing her finger-tips, gazing out into the moonlight, her mind drifting on a stream of memories that seemed to have beginning only from the year when he came into her life. A smile crept out on her face, and now and then she uttered a little sigh of contentment.

So many memories, nearly all happy! Surely, the most adroit work of the jeweller who put the human soul together was his provision of its power to forget the dark and remember sunshine. The year and a half of her life with Fiorsen, the empty months that followed it were gone, dispersed like mist by the radiance of the last three years in whose sky had hung just one cloud, no bigger than a hand, of doubt whether Summerhay really loved her as much as she loved him, whether from her company he got as much as the all she got from his. She would not have been her distrustful self if she could have settled down in complacent security; and her mind was ever at stretch on that point, comparing past days and nights with the days and nights of the present. Her prevision that, when she loved, it would be desperately, had been fulfilled. He had become her life. When this befalls one whose besetting strength and weakness alike is pride–no wonder that she doubts.

For their Odyssey they had gone to Spain–that brown un-European land of “lyrio” flowers, and cries of “Agua!” in the streets, where the men seem cleft to the waist when they are astride of horses, under their wide black hats, and the black-clothed women with wonderful eyes still look as if they missed their Eastern veils. It had been a month of gaiety and glamour, last days of September and early days of October, a revel of enchanted wanderings in the streets of Seville, of embraces and laughter, of strange scents and stranger sounds, of orange light and velvety shadows, and all the warmth and deep gravity of Spain. The Alcazar, the cigarette- girls, the Gipsy dancers of Triana, the old brown ruins to which they rode, the streets, and the square with its grave talkers sitting on benches in the sun, the water-sellers and the melons; the mules, and the dark ragged man out of a dream, picking up the ends of cigarettes, the wine of Malaga, burnt fire and honey! Seville had bewitched them–they got no further. They had come back across the brown uplands of Castile to Madrid and Goya and Velasquez, till it was time for Paris, before the law-term began. There, in a queer little French hotel–all bedrooms, and a lift, coffee and carved beds, wood fires, and a chambermaid who seemed all France, and down below a restaurant, to which such as knew about eating came, with waiters who looked like monks, both fat and lean–they had spent a week. Three special memories of that week started up in the moonlight before Gyp’s eyes: The long drive in the Bois among the falling leaves of trees flashing with colour in the crisp air under a brilliant sky. A moment in the Louvre before the Leonardo “Bacchus,” when–his “restored” pink skin forgotten– all the world seemed to drop away while she listened, with the listening figure before her, to some mysterious music of growing flowers and secret life. And that last most disconcerting memory, of the night before they returned. They were having supper after the theatre in their restaurant, when, in a mirror she saw three people come in and take seats at a table a little way behind– Fiorsen, Rosek, and Daphne Wing! How she managed to show no sign she never knew! While they were ordering, she was safe, for Rosek was a gourmet, and the girl would certainly be hungry; but after that, she knew that nothing could save her being seen–Rosek would mark down every woman in the room! Should she pretend to feel faint and slip out into the hotel? Or let Bryan know? Or sit there laughing and talking, eating and drinking, as if nothing were behind her?

Her own face in the mirror had a flush, and her eyes were bright. When they saw her, they would see that she was happy, safe in her love. Her foot sought Summerhay’s beneath the table. How splendid and brown and fit he looked, compared with those two pale, towny creatures! And he was gazing at her as though just discovering her beauty. How could she ever–that man with his little beard and his white face and those eyes–how could she ever! Ugh! And then, in the mirror, she saw Rosek’s dark-circled eyes fasten on her and betray their recognition by a sudden gleam, saw his lips compressed, and a faint red come up in his cheeks. What would he do? The girl’s back was turned–her perfect back–and she was eating. And Fiorsen was staring straight before him in that moody way she knew so well. All depended on that deadly little man, who had once kissed her throat. A sick feeling seized on Gyp. If her lover knew that within five yards of him were those two men! But she still smiled and talked, and touched his foot. Rosek had seen that she was conscious–was getting from it a kind of satisfaction. She saw him lean over and whisper to the girl, and Daphne Wing turning to look, and her mouth opening for a smothered “Oh!” Gyp saw her give an uneasy glance at Fiorsen, and then begin again to eat. Surely she would want to get away before he saw. Yes; very soon she rose. What little airs of the world she had now–quite mistress of the situation! The wrap must be placed exactly on her shoulders; and how she walked, giving just one startled look back from the door. Gone! The ordeal over! And Gyp said:

“Let’s go up, darling.”

She felt as if they had both escaped a deadly peril–not from anything those two could do to him or her, but from the cruel ache and jealousy of the past, which the sight of that man would have brought him.

Women, for their age, are surely older than men–married women, at all events, than men who have not had that experience. And all through those first weeks of their life together, there was a kind of wise watchfulness in Gyp. He was only a boy in knowledge of life as she saw it, and though his character was so much more decided, active, and insistent than her own, she felt it lay with her to shape the course and avoid the shallows and sunken rocks. The house they had seen together near the river, under the Berkshire downs, was still empty; and while it was being got ready, they lived at a London hotel. She had insisted that he should tell no one of their life together. If that must come, she wanted to be firmly settled in, with little Gyp and Betty and the horses, so that it should all be for him as much like respectable married life as possible. But, one day, in the first week after their return, while in her room, just back from a long day’s shopping, a card was brought up to her: “Lady Summerhay.” Her first impulse was to be “not at home”; her second, “I’d better face it. Bryan would wish me to see her!” When the page-boy was gone, she turned to the mirror and looked at herself doubtfully. She seemed to know exactly what that tall woman whom she had seen on the platform would think of her–too soft, not capable, not right for him!–not even if she were legally his wife. And touching her hair, laying a dab of scent on her eyebrows, she turned and went downstairs fluttering, but outwardly calm enough.

In the little low-roofed inner lounge of that old hotel, whose rooms were all “entirely renovated,” Gyp saw her visitor standing at a table, rapidly turning the pages of an illustrated magazine, as people will when their minds are set upon a coming operation. And she thought: ‘I believe she’s more frightened than I am!’

Lady Summerhay held out a gloved hand.

“How do you do?” she said. “I hope you’ll forgive my coming.”

Gyp took the hand.

“Thank you. It was very good of you. I’m sorry Bryan isn’t in yet. Will you have some tea?”

“I’ve had tea; but do let’s sit down. How do you find the hotel?”

“Very nice.”

On a velvet lounge that had survived the renovation, they sat side by side, screwed round toward each other.

“Bryan’s told me what a pleasant time you had abroad. He’s looking very well, I think. I’m devoted to him, you know.”

Gyp answered softly:

“Yes, you must be.” And her heart felt suddenly as hard as flint.

Lady Summerhay gave her a quick look.

“I–I hope you won’t mind my being frank–I’ve been so worried. It’s an unhappy position, isn’t it?” Gyp did not answer, and she hurried on. “If there’s anything I can do to help, I should be so glad–it must be horrid for you.”

Gyp said very quietly:

“Oh! no. I’m perfectly happy–couldn’t be happier.” And she thought: ‘I suppose she doesn’t believe that.’

Lady Summerhay was looking at her fixedly.

“One doesn’t realize these things at first–neither of you will, till you see how dreadfully Society can cold-shoulder.”

Gyp made an effort to control a smile.

“One can only be cold-shouldered if one puts oneself in the way of it. I should never wish to see or speak to anyone who couldn’t take me just for what I am. And I don’t really see what difference it will make to Bryan; most men of his age have someone, somewhere.” She felt malicious pleasure watching her visitor jib and frown at the cynicism of that soft speech; a kind of hatred had come on her of this society woman, who–disguise it as she would– was at heart her enemy, who regarded her, must regard her, as an enslaver, as a despoiler of her son’s worldly chances, a Delilah dragging him down. She said still more quietly: “He need tell no one of my existence; and you can be quite sure that if ever he feels he’s had enough of me, he’ll never be troubled by the sight of me again.”

And she got up. Lady Summerhay also rose.

“I hope you don’t think–I really am only too anxious to–“

“I think it’s better to be quite frank. You will never like me, or forgive me for ensnaring Bryan. And so it had better be, please, as it would be if I were just his common mistress. That will be perfectly all right for both of us. It was very good of you to come, though. Thank you–and good-bye.”

Lady Summerhay literally faltered with speech and hand.

With a malicious smile, Gyp watched her retirement among the little tables and elaborately modern chairs till her tall figure had disappeared behind a column. Then she sat down again on the lounge, pressing her hands to her burning ears. She had never till then known the strength of the pride-demon within her; at the moment, it was almost stronger than her love. She was still sitting there, when the page-boy brought her another card–her father’s. She sprang up saying:

“Yes, here, please.”

Winton came in all brisk and elated at sight of her after this long absence; and, throwing her arms round his neck, she hugged him tight. He was doubly precious to her after the encounter she had just gone though. When he had given her news of Mildenham and little Gyp, he looked at her steadily, and said:

“The coast’ll be clear for you both down there, and at Bury Street, whenever you like to come, Gyp. I shall regard this as your real marriage. I shall have the servants in and make that plain.”

A row like family prayers–and Dad standing up very straight, saying in his dry way: “You will be so good in future as to remember–” “I shall be obliged if you will,” and so on; Betty’s round face pouting at being brought in with all the others; Markey’s soft, inscrutable; Mrs. Markey’s demure and goggling; the maids’ rabbit-faces; old Pettance’s carved grin the film lifting from his little burning eyes: “Ha! Mr. Bryn Summer’ay; he bought her orse, and so she’s gone to ‘im!” And she said:

“Darling, I don’t know! It’s awfully sweet of you. We’ll see later.”

Winton patted her hand. “We must stand up to ’em, you know, Gyp. You mustn’t get your tail down.”

Gyp laughed.

“No, Dad; never!”

That same night, across the strip of blackness between their beds, she said:

“Bryan, promise me something!”

“It depends. I know you too well.”

“No; it’s quite reasonable, and possible. Promise!”

“All right; if it is.”

“I want you to let me take the lease of the Red House–let it be mine, the whole thing–let me pay for everything there.”

“Reasonable! What’s the point?”

“Only that I shall have a proper home of my own. I can’t explain, but your mother’s coming to-day made me feel I must.”

“My child, how could I possibly live on YOU there? It’s absurd!”

“You can pay for everything else; London–travelling–clothes, if you like. We can make it square up. It’s not a question of money, of course. I only want to feel that if, at any moment, you don’t need me any more, you can simply stop coming.”

“I think that’s brutal, Gyp.”

“No, no; so many women lose men’s love because they seem to claim things of them. I don’t want to lose yours that way–that’s all.”

“That’s silly, darling!”

“It’s not. Men–and women, too–always tug at chains. And when there is no chain–“

“Well then; let me take the house, and you can go away when you’re tired of me.” His voice sounded smothered, resentful; she could hear him turning and turning, as if angry with his pillows. And she murmured:

“No; I can’t explain. But I really mean it.”

“We’re just beginning life together, and you talk as if you want to split it up. It hurts, Gyp, and that’s all about it.”

She said gently:

“Don’t be angry, dear.”

“Well! Why don’t you trust me more?”

“I do. Only I must make as sure as I can.”

The sound came again of his turning and turning.

“I can’t!”

Gyp said slowly:

“Oh! Very well!”

A dead silence followed, both lying quiet in the darkness, trying to get the better of each other by sheer listening. An hour perhaps passed before he sighed, and, feeling his lips on hers, she knew that she had won.


There, in the study, the moonlight had reached her face; an owl was hooting not far away, and still more memories came–the happiest of all, perhaps–of first days in this old house together.

Summerhay damaged himself out hunting that first winter. The memory of nursing him was strangely pleasant, now that it was two years old. For convalescence they had gone to the Pyrenees– Argeles in March, all almond-blossom and snows against the blue–a wonderful fortnight. In London on the way back they had their first awkward encounter. Coming out of a theatre one evening, Gyp heard a woman’s voice, close behind, say: “Why, it’s Bryan! What ages!” And his answer defensively drawled out:

“Halo! How are you, Diana?”

“Oh, awfully fit. Where are you, nowadays? Why don’t you come and see us?”

Again the drawl:

“Down in the country. I will, some time. Good-bye.”

A tall woman or girl–red-haired, with one of those wonderful white skins that go therewith; and brown–yes, brown eyes; Gyp could see those eyes sweeping her up and down with a sort of burning-live curiosity. Bryan’s hand was thrust under her arm at once.

“Come on, let’s walk and get a cab.”

As soon as they were clear of the crowd, she pressed his hand to her breast, and said:

“Did you mind?”

“Mind? Of course not. It’s for you to mind.”

“Who was it?”

“A second cousin. Diana Leyton.”

“Do you know her very well?”

“Oh yes–used to.”

“And do you like her very much?”


He looked round into her face, with laughter bubbling up behind his gravity. Ah, but could one tease on such a subject as their love? And to this day the figure of that tall girl with the burning-white skin, the burning-brown eyes, the burning-red hair was not quite a pleasant memory to Gyp. After that night, they gave up all attempt to hide their union, going to whatever they wished, whether they were likely to meet people or not. Gyp found that nothing was so easily ignored as Society when the heart was set on other things. Besides, they were seldom in London, and in the country did not wish to know anyone, in any case. But she never lost the feeling that what was ideal for her might not be ideal for him. He ought to go into the world, ought to meet people. It would not do for him to be cut off from social pleasures and duties, and then some day feel that he owed his starvation to her. To go up to London, too, every day was tiring, and she persuaded him to take a set of residential chambers in the Temple, and sleep there three nights a week. In spite of all his entreaties, she herself never went to those chambers, staying always at Bury Street when she came up. A kind of superstition prevented her; she would not risk making him feel that she was hanging round his neck. Besides, she wanted to keep herself desirable–so little a matter of course that he would hanker after her when he was away. And she never asked him where he went or whom he saw. But, sometimes, she wondered whether he could still be quite faithful to her in thought, love her as he used to; and joy would go down behind a heavy bank of clouds, till, at his return, the sun came out again. Love such as hers– passionate, adoring, protective, longing to sacrifice itself, to give all that it had to him, yet secretly demanding all his love in return–for how could a proud woman love one who did not love her?– such love as this is always longing for a union more complete than it is likely to get in a world where all things move and change. But against the grip of this love she never dreamed of fighting now. From the moment when she knew she must cling to him rather than to her baby, she had made no reservations; all her eggs were in one basket, as her father’s had been before her–all!

The moonlight was shining full on the old bureau and a vase of tulips standing there, giving those flowers colour that was not colour, and an unnamed look, as if they came from a world which no human enters. It glinted on a bronze bust of old Voltaire, which she had bought him for a Christmas present, so that the great writer seemed to be smiling from the hollows of his eyes. Gyp turned the bust a little, to catch the light on its far cheek; a letter was disclosed between it and the oak. She drew it out thinking: ‘Bless him! He uses everything for paper-weights’; and, in the strange light, its first words caught her eyes:


“But I say–you ARE wasting yourself–“

She laid it down, methodically pushing it back under the bust. Perhaps he had put it there on purpose! She got up and went to the window, to check the temptation to read the rest of that letter and see from whom it was. No! She did not admit that she was tempted. One did not read letters. Then the full import of those few words struck into her: “Dear Bryan. But I say–you ARE wasting yourself.” A letter in a chain of correspondence, then! A woman’s hand; but not his mother’s, nor his sisters’–she knew their writings. Who had dared to say he was wasting himself? A letter in a chain of letters! An intimate correspondent, whose name she did not know, because–he had not told her! Wasting himself–on what?–on his life with her down here? And was he? Had she herself not said that very night that he had lost his laugh? She began searching her memory. Yes, last Christmas vacation–that clear, cold, wonderful fortnight in Florence, he had been full of fun. It was May now. Was there no memory since–of his old infectious gaiety? She could not think of any. “But I say–you ARE wasting yourself.” A sudden hatred flared up in her against the unknown woman who had said that thing–and fever, running through her veins, made her ears burn. She longed to snatch forth and tear to pieces the letter, with its guardianship of which that bust seemed mocking her; and she turned away with the thought: ‘I’ll go and meet him; I can’t wait here.’

Throwing on a cloak she walked out into the moonlit garden, and went slowly down the whitened road toward the station. A magical, dewless night! The moonbeams had stolen in to the beech clump, frosting the boles and boughs, casting a fine ghostly grey over the shadow-patterned beech-mast. Gyp took the short cut through it. Not a leaf moved in there, no living thing stirred; so might an earth be where only trees inhabited! She thought: ‘I’ll bring him back through here.’ And she waited at the far corner of the clump, where he must pass, some little distance from the station. She never gave people unnecessary food for gossip–any slighting of her irritated him, she was careful to spare him that. The train came in; a car went whizzing by, a cyclist, then the first foot- passenger, at a great pace, breaking into a run. She saw that it was he, and, calling out his name, ran back into the shadow of the trees. He stopped dead in his tracks, then came rushing after her. That pursuit did not last long, and, in his arms, Gyp said:

“If you aren’t too hungry, darling, let’s stay here a little–it’s so wonderful!”

They sat down on a great root, and leaning against him, looking up at the dark branches, she said:

“Have you had a hard day?”

“Yes; got hung up by a late consultation; and old Leyton asked me to come and dine.”

Gyp felt a sensation as when feet happen on ground that gives a little.

“The Leytons–that’s Eaton Square, isn’t it? A big dinner?”

“No. Only the old people, and Bertie and Diana.”

“Diana? That’s the girl we met coming out of the theatre, isn’t it?”

“When? Oh–ah–what a memory, Gyp!”

“Yes; it’s good for things that interest me.”

“Why? Did she interest you?”

Gyp turned and looked into his face.

“Yes. Is she clever?”

“H’m! I suppose you might call her so.”

“And in love with you?”

“Great Scott! Why?”

“Is it very unlikely? I am.”

He began kissing her lips and hair. And, closing her eyes, Gyp thought: ‘If only that’s not because he doesn’t want to answer!’ Then, for some minutes, they were silent as the moonlit beech clump.

“Answer me truly, Bryan. Do you never–never–feel as if you were wasting yourself on me?”

She was certain of a quiver in his grasp; but his face was open and serene, his voice as usual when he was teasing.

“Well, hardly ever! Aren’t you funny, dear?”

“Promise me faithfully to let me know when you’ve had enough of me. Promise!”

“All right! But don’t look for fulfilment in this life.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“I am.”

Gyp put up her lips, and tried to drown for ever in a kiss the memory of those words: “But I say–you ARE wasting yourself.”


Summerhay, coming down next morning, went straight to his bureau; his mind was not at ease. “Wasting yourself!” What had he done with that letter of Diana’s? He remembered Gyp’s coming in just as he finished reading it. Searching the pigeonholes and drawers, moving everything that lay about, he twitched the bust–and the letter lay disclosed. He took it up with a sigh of relief:


“But I say–you ARE wasting yourself. Why, my dear, of course! ‘Il faut se faire valoir!’ You have only one foot to put forward; the other is planted in I don’t know what mysterious hole. One foot in the grave–at thirty! Really, Bryan! Pull it out. There’s such a lot waiting for you. It’s no good your being hoity- toity, and telling me to mind my business. I’m speaking for everyone who knows you. We all feel the blight on the rose. Besides, you always were my favourite cousin, ever since I was five and you a horrid little bully of ten; and I simply hate to think of you going slowly down instead of quickly up. Oh! I know ‘D–n the world!’ But–are you? I should have thought it was ‘d–ning’ you! Enough! When are you coming to see us? I’ve read that book. The man seems to think love is nothing but passion, and passion always fatal. I wonder! Perhaps you know.

“Don’t be angry with me for being such a grandmother.

“Au revoir.

“Your very good cousin,


He crammed the letter into his pocket, and sat there, appalled. It must have lain two days under that bust! Had Gyp seen it? He looked at the bronze face; and the philosopher looked back from the hollows of his eyes, as if to say: “What do you know of the human heart, my boy–your own, your mistress’s, that girl’s, or anyone’s? A pretty dance the heart will lead you yet! Put it in a packet, tie it round with string, seal it up, drop it in a drawer, lock the drawer! And to-morrow it will be out and skipping on its wrappings. Ho! Ho!” And Summerhay thought: ‘You old goat. You never had one!’ In the room above, Gyp would still be standing as he had left her, putting the last touch to her hair–a man would be a scoundrel who, even in thought, could–“Hallo!” the eyes of the bust seemed to say. “Pity! That’s queer, isn’t it? Why not pity that red-haired girl, with the skin so white that it burns you, and the eyes so brown that they burn you–don’t they?” Old Satan! Gyp had his heart; no one in the world would ever take it from her!

And in the chair where she had sat last night conjuring up memories, he too now conjured. How he had loved her, did love her! She would always be what she was and had been to him. And the sage’s mouth seemed to twist before him with the words: “Quite so, my dear! But the heart’s very funny–very–capacious!” A tiny sound made him turn.

Little Gyp was standing in the doorway.

“Hallo!” he said.

“Hallo, Baryn!” She came flying to him, and he caught her up so that she stood on his knees with the sunlight shining on her fluffed out hair.

“Well, Gipsy! Who’s getting a tall girl?”

“I’m goin’ to ride.”

“Ho, ho!”

“Baryn, let’s do Humpty-Dumpty!”

“All right; come on!” He rose and carried her upstairs.

Gyp was still doing one of those hundred things which occupy women for a quarter of an hour after they are “quite ready,” and at little Gyp’s shout of, “Humpty!” she suspended her needle to watch the sacred rite.

Summerhay had seated himself on the foot-rail of the bed, rounding his arms, sinking his neck, blowing out his cheeks to simulate an egg; then, with an unexpectedness that even little Gyp could always see through, he rolled backward on to the bed.

And she, simulating “all the king’s horses,” tried in vain to put him up again. This immemorial game, watched by Gyp a hundred times, had to-day a special preciousness. If he could be so ridiculously young, what became of her doubts? Looking at his face pulled this way and that, lazily imperturbable under the pommelings of those small fingers, she thought: ‘And that girl dared to say he was WASTING HIMSELF!’ For in the night conviction had come to her that those words were written by the tall girl with the white skin, the girl of the theatre–the Diana of his last night’s dinner. Humpty-Dumpty was up on the bed-rail again for the finale; all the king’s horses were clasped to him, making the egg more round, and over they both went with shrieks and gurgles. What a boy he was! She would not–no, she would not brood and spoil her day with him.

But that afternoon, at the end of a long gallop on the downs, she turned her head away and said suddenly:

“Is she a huntress?”