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The History of Sir Richard Calmady: a Romance . Malet, Lucas, 1852–1931.
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page: 574

CHAPTER IX

TELLING HOW LUDOVIC QUAYLE AND HONORIA ST. QUENTIN WATCHED THE TROUT RISE IN THE LONG WATER

SOME hour and a half later Miss St. Quentin passed down the flight of stone steps, leading from the southern end of the terrace to the grass slopes of the park. Arrived at the lowest step she gathered the skirt of her dress up over one arm, thereby page: 575 securing greater freedom of movement, and displaying a straight length of pink and white petticoat. Thus prepared she fared forth over the still smoking turf. The storm had passed, but the atmosphere remained thick and humid. A certain opulence of colour obtained in the landscape. The herbs in the grass, wild‐thyme, wild‐balm, and star‐flowered camomile, smelt strongly aromatic as she trod them under foot, while the beds of bracken, dried and yellowed by the drought, gave off a sharp, woody scent.

Usually, when thus alone and in contact with nature, such matters claimed Honoria’s whole attention, ministering to her love of earth‐lore and of Mother Earth—producing in her silent worship of those primitive deities who at once preside over and inhabit the waste‐land and the tilth, the untamed forest and the pastures where heavy‐uddered, sweet‐breathed cows lie in the deep, meadow grass, the garden ground, all pleasant orchard places, and the broad promise of the waving crops. But this afternoon, although the colour, odour, warmth, and all the many voices praising the refreshment of the rain, were sensibly present to her, Honoria’s thought failed to be engrossed by them. For she was in process of worshipping younger and more compassionate deities, sadder, because more human ones, whose office lies not with Nature in her eternal repose and fecundity, but with man in his eternal failure and unrest. Not august Ceres, giver of the golden harvest‐fields, or fierce Cybele, the goddess of the many paps, but spare, brown‐habited St. Francis, serving his brethren with bleeding hands and feet, held empire over her meditations.—In imagination she saw—saw with only too lively realisation of detail—that eighteen‐year‐old lad, in the factory at Westchurch, drawn up—all the unspent hopes and pleasures of his young manhood active in him—by the loose gearing, into the merciless vortex of revolving wheels; and there, without preparation, without pause of warning, without any dignity of shouting multitude, of arena or of stake, martyred—converted in a few horrible seconds from health and wholeness into a formless lump of human waste. And up and down the land, as she reflected, wherever the great systems of trade and labour, which build up the mechanical and material prosperity of our day, go forward, kindred things happen—let alone question of all those persons who are born into the world already injured, or bearing the seeds of foul and disfiguring diseases in their organs and their blood. Verily Richard Calmady’s sad family was a rather terribly large one, well calculated to maintain its numbers, even to increase! For neither the age of human page: 576 sacrifice nor of cannibalism is really done with; nor is the practice of them limited to savage peoples in distant lands or far‐away isles of the sea. They form the basis actually, though in differing of outward aspect, of all existing civilisations, just as they formed the basis of all past civilisations—a basis, moreover, perpetually recemented and relaid. And, as she considered—being courageous and fair‐minded—it was inevitable that this should be so, unthinkable that it should be otherwise, since it made, at least indirectly, for the prosperity of the majority and development of the race. Considering which—the apparently cruel paradox and irony of it—Honoria swung down past the scattered hawthorns, thick with ruddy fruit, across the fragrant herbs and short, sweet turf, through the straggling fern‐brakes, which impeded her progress plucking at her skirts, careless of the rich colour and ample beauty out‐spread before her.

But soon, as a bird after describing far‐ranging circles drops at last upon the from at‐first‐determined spot, so her thought settled down with relief yet in a way unwillingly—and that not out of any lingering repulsion, but rather from a certain proud modesty and self‐respect—upon Richard Calmady himself. Not only did he apprehend all this, far more clearly, more intimately than she could—had he not spoken of the advantages of a certain blackness?—Honoria’s vision became somewhat indistinct—but he set out to deal with it in a practical manner. And in this connection she began to understand how it had come about that through years of ingratitude and neglect, and of loose‐living on his part, his mother could still remain patient, could endure, and supremely love. For behind the obvious, the almost coarse, tragedy and consequent appeal of the man’s deformity, there was the further appeal of something very admirable in the man himself, for the emergence and due blossoming of which it would be very possible, very worth while, for whoso once recognised its existence to wait. John Knott had been right in his estimate of Richard. Ludovic Quayle had been right. Lady Calmady had been right.—Honoria had begun to believe that, even before Richard had come forth from his self‐imposed seclusion, in the spring. The belief had increased during her subsequent intercourse with him, had been reinforced during her few days’ visit at Whitsuntide. Yet, until now, she had never freely and openly admitted it. She wondered why? And then hastily she put such wondering from her. Again a certain proud modesty held her back. She did not want to think of herself in relation to him, or of him in relation to herself. She wished, for a reason she refused to define, to exclude the personal page: 577 element. Doing that she could permit herself larger latitude of admiration. His acknowledgment of fellowship with, and obligation of friendship towards, all victims of physical disaster kindled her enthusiasm. She perceived that it was contrary to the man’s natural arrogance, natural revolt against the humiliation put upon him—a rather superb overcoming, in short, of nature by grace. Nor was it the outgrowth of any morbid or sentimental emotion. It had no tincture of the hysteric element. It took its rise in conviction and in experiment. For Richard, though still young, struck her as remarkably mature. He had lived his life, sinned his sins—she did not doubt that—suffered unusual sorrows, bought his experience in the open market and at a sufficiently high price. And this was the result! It pleased her imagination by its essential unworldliness, its idealism and individuality of outlook. She went back on her earlier judgment of him, first formulated as a complaint,—he was strong, whether for good or evil, now unselfishly for good; and Honoria, being herself among the strong, supremely valued and welcomed strength. And so it happened that the tone of her meditations altered, being increasingly attuned to a serious, but very real congratulation; for she perceived that the tragedy of human life also constitutes the magnificence of human life, since it affords, and always must afford, supreme opportunity of heroism.

She had traversed the open space of turf, and come to the tall, iron hurdles enclosing the paddock. She folded her arms on the topmost bar of the iron gate and stood there. She wanted to rest a little in these thoughts that had come to her. She was not quite sure of them as yet. But, if they meant anything, if they were other than mere rhetoric, they must mean a very great deal, into harmony with which it would be necessary to bring her thought upon many other subjects. She was conscious of an excitement, a reaching out towards some but‐half‐disclosed glory, some new and very exquisite fulness of life. But was it new, after all? Was it not rather the at‐last‐permitted activity of faculties and sensibilities hitherto refused development, voluntarily, perhaps cowardly, held in check and repressed? She appeared to be making acquaintance with unexpected depths of apprehension and emotion in herself. And this, for cause unknown, brought her into more lively commerce with her immediate surroundings and the sentiment of them. Her eyes rested upon them questioningly, as though they might afford a tally to, perhaps an explanation of, the strange, yet lovely emotion which had invaded her.

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Here in the valley, notwithstanding the recent drought, the grass was lush. Across the paddock, just within the circuit of the far railings, a grove of large beech trees broke the expanse of living green. Beyond, seen beneath their down‐sweeping branches, the surface of the Long Water repeated the hot purple, the dun‐colour and silver‐pink, of the sky. On the opposite slope, extending from the elm avenue to the outlying masses of the woods and upward to the line of oaks which run parallel with the park palings, were cornlands. The wheat, a red‐gold, was already for the most part bound in shocks. A company of women, wearing lilac and pink sun‐bonnets and all‐round, blue, linen aprons faded by frequent washing to a fine clearness of tone, came down over the blond stubble. They carried, in little baskets and shining tins, tea for the white‐shirred harvesters who were busy setting up the storm‐fallen sheaves. They laughed and talked together, and their voices came to Honoria with a pleasant quality of sound. Two stumbling baby‐children, hand in hand, followed them, as did a small, white‐and‐tan spotted dog. One woman was bare‐headed and wore a black bodice, which gave a singular value to her figure amid the all‐obtaining yellow of the corn.

The scene in its simple and homely charm held the poetry of that happier side of labour, of that most ancient of all industries—the husbandman’s—and of the generous giving of the soil. Set in a frame of opulently coloured woodland and sky, the stately red‐brick and freestone house crowning the high land and looking forth upon it all, the whole formed, to Honoria’s thinking, a very noble picture. And then, of a sudden, in the midst of her quiet enjoyment of it and a tenderness which the sight of it somehow begot in her, she was seized by sharp, unreasoning regret that she must so soon leave it. Unreasoning regret that she had engaged to go abroad this winter, with poor, pretty, frivolous, young Lady Tobermory—spoilt child of society and of wealth—now half‐crazed, rendered desperate, by the fear that disease, which had laid a threatening finger on her, might lay its whole hand, cutting short her playtime and breaking her many toys. Of anything other than toys and playtime she had no conception.—“Those brutes of doctors tell Tobermory I must give up low gowns,” she wrote. “And I adore my neck and shoulders. Everyone always has admired them. It makes me utterly miserable to cover them up. And now that I am thinner I could have my gowns cut lower than ever, nearly down to my waist, which makes it all the more intolerable. I went to Dessaix about it, went over to Paris on page: 579 purpose, though Tobermory was wild at my travelling in the heat. He—Dessaix, I mean, not poor T.—was just as nice as possible, and promised to invent new styles. Still, of course, I must look dowdy at night in a high gown. Everybody does. I shall feel exactly like our clergyman’s wife at Ellerhay, when she comes to dine with us at Christmas and Easter and once in the summer. I refuse to have her oftener than that. She has a long back and about fourteen children, which she seems to think a great credit to her. I don’t, as they are ugly, and she is dreadfully poor. She wears her Sunday silk with lace wound about, don’t you know, but wound tight. That means full dress. I am buying some lace, Duchesse at three and a half guineas a yard. I suppose I shall come to winding that of an evening. Then I shall look like her. It makes me cry dreadfully, and, as I tell Tobermory, that is worse for me than any number of lungs. Darling H., if you really love me in the least, bring nothing but high gowns. Perhaps I mayn’t mind quite so much if I never see you in a low one.”—There had been much more to the same effect, pathetic in its inadequacy and egoism. Only, as Honoria reflected, that is a style of pathos dangerously liable to pall upon one. She sighed, for the prospect of spending the winter participating in the frivolities, and striving to restrain the indiscretions of this little, damaged butterfly, did not smile upon her. She might have stayed on here, stayed on at Brockhurst, and worked over the dear place as she had so often done before—helping Lady Calmady. Why had she promised?—Well—because she had been rather restless, unsettled, and at loose ends of late—

Whereupon the young lady bent down and unfastened the padlock with a certain decision of movement, closed the gate, relocking it carefully behind her; and started off across the deep grass of the paddock, her pale face very serious, her small head held high. She would keep faith with Evelyn Tobermory. Of course she would keep faith with her. It was not only a matter of honour, but of expediency. It was much, very much, better to go. Yet whence this sudden heat proceeded, and why the Egyptian journey assumed suddenly such paramount desirability, she carefully did not stay to inquire—an omission not, perhaps, without significance.

The half‐dozen dainty fillies, meanwhile, who had eyed her shyly from their station beneath the beech trees, trotted gently towards her with friendly whinnyings, their fine ears pricked, their long tails carried well away in a sweeping curve. Honoria went on to meet them. She was glad of something to occupy her hands, some outside, concrete thing to occupy her thought. page: 580 She took the foremost, a dark bay, by the nose‐strap of its leather head‐stall, patted the beast’s sleek neck, looked into its prominent, heavy‐lidded eyes,—the blue film over the velvet‐like iris and pupil of them giving a singular softness of effect,—drew down the fine, aristocratic head, and kissed the little star where the hair turned in the centre of the smooth, hard forehead. It was as perfectly bred as she was herself—so clean, so fresh, that to touch it was wholly pleasant! Then she backed away from it, holding it at arm’s‐length, noting how every line of its limbs and body was graceful and harmonious, full of the promise of easy strength, easy freedom of movement. That it was a trifle blown out in barrel, from being at grass, only gave its contours an added suavity. It was a lovely beast, a delicious beast! Honoria smiled upon it, talked to, parted and coaxed it. While another young beauty, waxing brave, pushed its black muzzle under her arm, and lipped at her jacket pockets in search of bread and of apples. And, these good things once discovered, the rest of the drove came about her, civilly, a trifle proudly, as befitted such fine ladies, with no pushings and hustlings of vulgar greed. And they charmed her. She was very much at one with them. She fed them fearlessly, thrusting one aside in favour of another, giving each reward in due turn. She passed her hands down over their slender limbs. The warm colours and the gloss of them were pleasant to her eyes. And they smelt sweet, as did the trampled grass beneath their unshod hoofs. For a while the human problem—its tragedy, magnificence, inadequacy alike‐ceased to trouble her. The poetry of these beautiful, innocent, clean‐feeding beasts was, for the moment, sufficient in and by itself.

But, even while she thus played with and rejoiced in them, remembrance of their owner came back to her, his maiming, as against their perfection of finish, the lamentable disparity between his physical equipment and theirs. Honoria’s expression lost its nonchalant gaiety. She pushed her gentle, equine comrades away to left and right, not that they ceased to please but that the human problem and the tragedy of it once more became dominant. She walked on across the paddock rapidly, while the fillies, forming up behind her, followed in single file treading a sinuous pathway through the grass, the foremost one still pushing its black muzzle, now and again, under her elbow and nibbling insinuatingly at her empty jacket pockets.—If only that horrible misfortune had not befallen Richard Calmady! If—if— But then, had it not befallen him, would he ever have been excited to so admirable effort, would he ever have attained so page: 581 absorbing and vigorous a personality as he actually had? Again her thought turned on itself, to provocation of momentary impatience.—Honoria unfastened the second padlock with a return of her former decision. There were conclusions she wished instinctively to avoid, from which she instinctively desired escape. She forced aside the all‐too‐affectionate, bay filly who crowded upon her, shot back the bar of the gate and relocked it. Then, once again, she kissed the pretty beast on the forehead as it stretched its neck over the top of the gate.

“Good‐bye, dear lass,” she said. “Win your races and, when the time comes, drop foals as handsome as yourself; and thank your stars you’re under orders, and so have small chance to muddle your affairs—as with your good looks, my dear, you most assuredly would, like all the rest of us.”

With which excellent advice she swung away down the last twenty yards of the avenue and out on to the roadway of the red‐brick and freestone bridge. Here in the open, above the water, the air was sensibly fresher. From the paddock the deserted fillies whinnied to her. The voices of the harvesters came cheerily from the cornland. The men sat in the blond stubble, backed by a range of upstanding sheaves. The women, bright in those frail blues, clear pinks, and lilacs, knelt serving their meal. She of the black bodice stood apart, her hands upon her hips, looking towards the bridge and its solitary occupant. The tan‐and‐white spotted dog ran to and fro chasing field‐mice and yapped. The baby‐children staggered after it, uttering excited squeakings and cries. The lower cloud had parted in the west, disclosing an upper stratum of pale gold, which widened upward and outward as the minutes passed. Save immediately below, in the shadow of the bridge, this found reflection in the water, overlaying it as with the blond of the stubble and warmer tones of the sheaves. Honoria sat down sideways on the coping of the parapet. She watched the moor‐hens, dark of plumage, a splash of fiery orange on their jaunty little heads, swim out with restless, jerky motion from the edge of the reed‐beds and break up the shining surface with diverging lines of rippling, brown shadow. In the shade cast by the bridge, trout rose at the dancing gnats and flies. She could see them rush upward through the brown water. Sometimes they leapt clear of it, exposing their silver bellies, pink‐spotted sides, and the olive‐green of their backs. They dropped again with a flop, and rings circled outward from the place of their disappearing.

All this Honoria saw, but dreamily, pensively. She realised, page: 582 as never before, that, much as she might love this place and the life of it, she was a guest only, a pilgrim and sojourner. The absoluteness of her own independence ceased to please.—“Me this unchartered freedom tries.” As she quoted the line, Honoria smiled. These were, indeed, new aspects of herself! Where would they carry her, both in thought and in action? It was a little alarming to contemplate that. And then her pensiveness increased, a strange nostalgia taking her—amounting almost to physical pain—for that same but‐half‐disclosed glory, that same new and very exquisite fulness of life, apprehension of which had lately been vouchsafed to her. If she could remain very still and undisturbed, if she could empty her consciousness of all else, bend her whole will to an act at once of determination and of reception, perhaps, it would be given her clearly to see and understand. The idealist, the mystic, were very present in Honoria just then. She fixed her eyes upon the shining surface of the water. A conviction grew upon her that, could she maintain a certain mental and emotional equilibrium, something of permanent and very vital importance must take place.

Suddenly she heard footsteps upon the gravel of the roadway. She started, turned deliberately, holding in check the agitation which possessed her, to find herself confronted by the tall, pre‐eminently modern and mundane figure of Ludovic Quayle. Honoria gave herself a little shake of uncontrollable impatience. For less than twopence‐halfpenny she could have given the very gentlemanlike intruder a shake too! He let her down with a bump, so to speak, from regions mysterious and supernal, to regions altogether social and of this world worldly. And yet she knew that such feelings were not a little hard and unjust as entertained towards poor Mr. Quayle.

The young man, in any case, was happily ignorant of having offended. He sauntered out on to the bridge, hat in hand, his head a trifle on one side, his long neck directed slightly forward, his expression that of polite and intimate amusement—but whether amusement at his own, or his fellow‐creatures’ expense, it would have been difficult to declare.

“At last, I find you, my dear Miss St. Quentin,” he said. “And I have sought for you as for lost treasure. Forgive a biblical form of address—a reminiscence merely of my father’s morning ministrations to my unmarried sisters, the footmen, and the maids. He reads them the most surprising little histories at times, which make me positively blush; but that’s a detail. To account for my invasion of your idyllic solitude—I learned page: 583 incidentally you proposed coming here from Ormiston this week. I thought I would venture on an early attempt to find you. But I drew the house blank, though assisted by Winter—the terrace also blank. Then from the troco‐ground I beheld that which looked promising, coquetting with Dickie’s yearlings. So I followed on to know—my father and the maids again—followed on to—to my reward.”

Mr. Quayle stood directly in front of her. He spoke with admirable urbanity, yet with even greater rapidity than usual. His beautifully formed mouth pursed itself up between the sentences, with that effect of indulgent superiority which was at once so attractive and so excessively provoking. But, for all that, Honoria perceived that for once in his life the young man was distinctly, not to say acutely, nervous.

“The reward will be limited I’m afraid,” she replied, “for my temper is unaccountably out of sorts this afternoon.”

“And, if one may make bold to inquire, why out of sorts, dear Miss St. Quentin?”

He sat down on the parapet near her, crossed his legs, and fell to nursing his left knee. The woman of the black bodice went up across the pale stubble to her companions. She talked to them, nodding her head in the direction of the bridge.

“I have promised to do a certain thing, and, having promised, of course I must do it.”

Honoria looked away towards the harvesters up there among the gold of the corn.

“And yet, now I have committed myself, thinking it over I find I dislike doing it warmly.”

“The statement of the case is just a trifle vague,” Mr. Quayle remarked. “But—if one may brave a suggestion—supersede a first duty by a second and, of course, a greater. With a little exercise of imagination, a little goodwill, a little assistance from a true friend thrown in perhaps, it is generally quite possible to manage that, I think.”

“And you are prepared to play the part of the true friend?”

“Undoubtedly.”

“Then go to Cairo for the winter with Evelyn Tobermory. You must take no low gowns—ah! poor little soul, it is pathetic, though—she’s forbidden to wear them. And—let me stay here,” Honoria said.

Ludovic gazed at his hands as they clasped his knee, then he looked sideways at his companion.

“Here, meaning—meaning Brockhurst, dear Miss St. Quentin?” he asked very sweetly.

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“Meaning England,” she declared.

“England?—ah! really. That pleases me better. Patriotism is an excellent virtue. The remark is not a wholly original one, but it comes in handy just now, all the same.”

The young lady’s head went up. She was displeased. Turning sideways, she leaned both hands on the stonework and stared down into the water. But speedily she repented.

“See how the fish rise,” she said. “It really is a pity one hasn’t a fly‐rod.”

“I was under the impression you once told me that you objected to taking life, except in self‐defence or for purposes of commissariat. The trout would almost certainly be muddy. And I am quite unconscious of being exposed to any danger—at least from the trout.”

Miss St. Quentin kept her eyes fixed upon the water.

“I told you my temper was out of sorts,” she said.

“Is that a warning?” Ludovic inquired, with the utmost mildness.

Honoria was busy feeling in her jacket pockets. At the bottom of them a few crumbs remained. She emptied these on to the surface of the water, by the simple expedient of turning the pockets inside out.

“I know nothing about warnings,” she said. “I state a plain fact. You can make of it what you please.”

The young man rose leisurely from his place, sauntered across the roadway, and stood with his back to her, looking down the valley. The. harvesters, their meal finished, moved away towards the farther side of the great cornfield. The women followed them slowly, gleaning as they went. It was very quiet. And again there came to Honoria that ache of longing for the but‐half‐disclosed glory and fulness of life. It was there, an actuality—could she but find it, had she but the courage and the wit. Then, from the open moorland beyond the park palings came the sound of horses trotting sharply. Ludovic Quayle turned and recrossed the road. He smiled, but his superfine manner, his effect of slight impertinence were, for the moment, in abeyance.

“Miss St. Quentin,” he said, “what is the use of fencing any longer? 1 have done that which I engaged to do, namely displayed the patience of innumerable asses. And—if I may be pardoned mentioning such a thing—the years pass. Really they do. And I seem to get no forwarder! My position becomes slightly ludicrous.”

“I know it, I know it,” Honoria cried penitently.

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“That I am ludicrous?”

“No, no,” she protested, “that I have been unreasonable and traded on your forbearance, that I have done wrong in allowing you to wait.”

“That you could not very well help,” he said, “since I chose to wait. And, indeed, I greatly preferred waiting as long as there seemed to be a hope there was something—anything, in short—to wait for.”

“Ah! but that is precisely what I have never been sure about myself—whether there really was anything to wait for or not.”

She sat straight on the coping of the parapet again. Her face bore the most engaging expression. There was a certain softness in her aspect to‐day. She was less of a youth, a comrade, so it seemed to Mr. Quayle, more distinctly, more consciously a woman. But now, to the sound of trotting horse‐hoofs was added that of wheels. With a clang the lodge‐gates were thrown open.

“And are you still uncertain? In the back of your mind is there still a trifle of doubt?—If so, give me the benefit of it,” the young man pleaded, half laughingly, half brokenly.

A carriage passed under the grey archway of the red‐brick and freestone lodges. Rapidly it came on down the wide, smooth, string‐coloured road—a space of neatly kept turf on either side—under the shade of the heavy‐foliaged elm trees. Mr. Quayle glanced at it, and paused with raised eyebrows.

“I call you to witness that I do not swear, dear Miss St. Quentin, though men have been known to become blasphemous on slighter provocation than this,” he said. “However, the rather violently‐approaching interruption will be soon over, I hope and believe; since the driving is that of Richard Calmady of Brockhurst when his temper, like your own, being somewhat out of sorts, he, as Jehu the son of Nimshi of old—my father’s morning ministrations to the maids again—driveth furiously.”

Then, with an air of humorous resignation, his mouth working a little, his long neck directed forward as in mildly surprised inquiry, he stood watching the approaching mail‐phaeton. The wheels of it made a hollow rumbling, the tramp of the horses was impetuous, the pole‐chains rattled, as it swung out on to the bridge and drew up. The grooms whipped down and ran round to the horses’ heads. And these stood, a little extended, still and rigid as of bronze, the red of their open nostrils and the silver mounting of their harness very noticeable. Lady Calmady page: 586 called to Mr. Quayle. The young man passed round at the back of the carriage, and, standing on the far side of the roadway, talked with her.

Honoria St. Quentin remained sitting on the parapet of the bridge.

A singular disinclination to risk any movement had come upon her. Not the present situation in relation to Ludovic Quayle, but that other situation of the but‐half‐disclosed glory, the new and exquisite fulness of life, oppressed her, penetrating her whole being to the point of physical weakness. Questioningly, yet with entire unself‐consciousness, she looked up at Richard Calmady. And he, from the exalted height of the driving‐seat, looked down at her. A dark, cloth rug was wrapped tight round him from the waist downward. It concealed the high driving‐iron against which his feet rested. It concealed the strap which steadied him in his place. His person appeared finely proportioned. His head and face were surprisingly handsome seen thus from below—though it must be conceded the expression of the latter was very far from angelic.

“You were well advised to stay at home, Honoria,” he said. There was a grating tone in his voice.

“The function was even more distinguished for dulness than you expected?”

“On the contrary, it was not in the least dull. It was actively objectionable, ingeniously unpleasant. Whereas this”—

His face softened a little. He glanced at the golden water and cornland, the lush green of the paddock, the rich, massive colouring of woodland and sky. Honoria glanced at it likewise, and, so doing, rose to her feet. That nostalgia of things new and glorious ached in her. Yet the pain of it had a strange and intimate charm, making it unlike any pain she had ever yet felt. It hurt her very really, it made her weak, yet she would not have had it cease.

“Yes, it is all very lovely, isn’t it?” she said.

She laid her hand on the folded leather of the carriage hood. Again she looked up.

“It is a good deal to have this—always—your own, to come back to, Richard.”

She spoke sadly, almost unwillingly. Dickie did not answer, but he looked down, a certain violence and energy very evident in him, his blue eyes hard, and, in the depth of them, desolate as the sky of a winter night. Calmly, yet in a way desperately as those who dare inquiry beyond the range of permitted human speech, the young man and woman looked at one another. Lady page: 587 Calmady’s sweet voice, meanwhile, went on in kindly question. Ludovic Quayle’s in well‐placed, slightly elaborate answer. The near horse threw back its head and the pole‐chains rattled smartly.—Honoria’s lips parted, but the words, if words indeed there were, died in her throat. She raised her hands, as though putting a tangible and actual presence away from her. She did not change colour; but for the moment her delicate features appeared thickened, as by a rush of blood. She was almost plain. Yet the effect was inexpressibly touching. It was as though she had received some mysterious injury which she was dumb, incapable to express. She let her hands drop at her sides, turned away and walked to the far end of the bridge.

Suddenly Richard’s voice came to her, aggressive, curt.

“Look out, Ludovic—stand clear of the wheel.”

The horses sprang forward, the grooms scrambled up at the back, and the carriage swung away from the brightness of the open to the gloom of the avenue and up the long hill to the house.

Mr. Quayle contemplated it for a minute or so. Then, with an air of amused toleration, he followed Miss St. Quentin across the bridge.

“Poor, dear Dickie Calmady, poor, dear Dickie!” he said. “He attempts the impossible. Fails to attain it—as a matter of course; and, meanwhile, misses the possible—equally as a matter of course. It is all very magnificent, no doubt, but it is also not a little uncomfortable, at times, for other people.—However that trifle of criticism is, after all, beside the mark. Now that the whirlwind has ceased, Miss St. Quentin, may the still, small voice of my own affairs presume to make itself”—

But there he stopped abruptly.

“My dear friend,” he asked in quick anxiety, “what is the matter? Pardon me, but what on earth has happened to you?”

For Honoria leaned both elbows on the low, carved pillar terminating the masonry of the parapet. She covered her face with her hands. And, incontestably, she shuddered queerly from head to foot.

“Wait half a second,” she said, in a stifled voice. “It’s nothing—I’m all right.”

Slowly she raised herself, and took a long breath. Then she turned to her faithful lover, showing him a brave, if somewhat drawn and tired, countenance.

“Ludovic,” she said gently, “don’t, don’t please let us talk any more about all that. And don’t, I entreat you, wait any longer. If there was any uncertainty, if there was a doubt in the back of my mind, it’s gone. Forgive me—this must sound brutal page: 588 —but there is no more doubt. I can’t marry you. I am sorry, horribly sorry—for you have been as charming to me as a man could be—but I shall never be able to marry you.”

Mr. Quayle’s expression retained its sweetness, even its effect of amusement, though his lips quivered, and his eyelids were a little red.

“I do not come up to the requirements of the grand passion?” he said. “Alas! poor me”—

“No, no, it isn’t that,” Honoria protested.

“Ah, then,”—he paused, with an air of extraordinary intelligence—“perhaps someone else does?”

“Yes,” she said simply, “I don’t like it, but it’s there, and so I’ve got to go through with it—someone else does.”

“In that case it is indeed hopeless! I give it up,” he cried.

He moved aside and stood gazing at the rising trout in the golden‐brown water. Then he raised his head sharply, as in obedience to a thought suddenly occurring to him, and gazed at Brockhurst House. The brightness of the western sky found reflection in its many windows. A noble cheerfulness seemed to pervade it, as it crowned the hillside amid its gardens and far‐ranging woods.

“By all that’s”—Mr. Quayle began. But he repressed the exclamation, and his expression was wholly friendly as he returned to Miss St. Quentin.

“Good‐bye,” he said.—“I am glad, honestly glad, you have found the grand passion, though the object of it can’t, in the first blush of the affair, be altogether persona grata to myself. But, to show that really I have a little root of magnanimity in me, I am quite prepared to undertake a winter at Cairo, plus Evelyn Tobermory and minus low dresses, if that will enable you to stay on here—I mean in England—of course.”

He pursed up his beautiful mouth, he carried his head on one side with the liveliest effect of provocation, as he held the young lady’s hand while bidding her farewell.

“Out of my heart I hope you will be very happy,” he said.

“I shall never be anything but Honoria St. Quentin,” she answered rather hastily. Then she softened, forgiving him.—“Oh! why,” she said, “why will you make me quarrel with you just now, just at the last?”

“Because—because”—Mr. Quayle’s voice broke, though his superior smile remained to him.—“I think I will not prolong the interview,” he said. “To be frank with you, dear Miss St. Quentin, I am about as miserable as is consonant with com‐ page: 589 plete sanity and excellent health. I do not propose to blow my brains out, but I think—yes, thanks—you appreciate the desirability of that course of action too?—I think it is about time I went.”

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