The Ffolliots of Redmarley
by L. Allen Harker
CHAPTER II. ONE
ANOTHER OF THEM
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER VII. THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. “THE
THE THIN END
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XV. OF
MARY AND HER
CHAPTER XX. THE
CHAPTER XXI. A
RETROSPECT AND A
THE DREAM GOES
THE FFOLLIOTS OF REDMARLEY
L. ALLEN HARKER
MABEL VIOLET JEANS.
For that dread move you saw me through,
For all the things you found to do.
For china washed and pictures hung
And oh, those books, the hours among!
For merry heart that goes all day,
For jest that turns work into play,
For all the dust and dusters shared,
For that dear self you never spared:
And most of all, that all of it
Was light with laughter, spiced with wit
Take, dear, my love, and with it take
The little book you helped to make.
First Edition . . . . . . . July, 1913 Cheaper Edition . . . . . .
September, 1919 Reprinted . . . . . . . . . January, 1925
THE FFOLLIOTS OF REDMARLEY
CHAPTER I. ELOQUENT
Father, what d'you think we'd better call him? Mrs Gallup asked,
when the baby was a week old; have you thought of a name?
I've fixed on a name, her husband replied, triumphantly.
The child shall be called Eloquent.
Eloquent, Mrs Gallup repeated, dubiously. That's a queer name,
isn't it? 'Tisn't a name at all, not really.
It's going to be my son's name, anyhow, Mr Gallup retorted,
positively. I've thought the matter out, most careful I've considered
it, and that's the name my son's got to be called . . . Eloquent Gallup
he'll be, and a very good name too.
But why Eloquent? Mrs Gallup persisted. How d'you know as he'll
be eloquent? an' if he isn't, that name'll make him a
laughing-stock. Suppose he was to grow up one of them
say-nothing-to-nobody sort of chaps, always looking down his nose, and
afraid to say 'Bo' to a goose: what's he to do with such a
There's no fear my son will grow up a-say-nothing-to-nobody sort of
chap, said Mr Gallup, boastfully. I'll take care of that. Now you
listen to me, mother. You know the proverb 'Give a dog a bad name'
I never said it was a bad name, Mrs Gallup pleaded.
I should think you didn'tbut look here, if it's true of a bad
name, mustn't it be equally true of a good one? Why, it's argument,
it's logic, that is. Call a boy Eloquent and ten to one he'll be
eloquent, don't you see?
But what d'you want him to be eloquent for? Mrs Gallup enquired
almost tearfully. What good will it do himprecious lamb?
There's others to be thought of as well as 'im, Mr Gallup
Who? More children? asked Mrs Gallup. I don't see as he'd need to
be eloquent just to mind his little brother or sister.
Ellen Gallup, you listen to me. That babe lying there on your knee
with a red face all puckered up is going to sway the multitude. Mrs
Gallup gasped, and clutched her baby closer. He's going to be one of
those whose voice shall ring clarion-likehere Mr Gallup
unconsciously raised his own, and the baby stirred uneasilyoverhe
paused for a similehe had been going to say land and sea, but it
didn't finish the sentence to his liking, far and wide, he concluded,
Mrs Gallup made no remark, so he continued: Eloquent Gallup shall
be a politician. Some day he'll stand for parlyment, and he'll get
in, and when he's there he'll speak up and he'll speak out for the
rights of his fellow men, and he'll proclaim their wrongs.
And there and then, as if in vindication of his father's belief in
him, the baby began to roar so lustily that further converse was
A week later, the baby was baptized Eloquent Abel Gallup. Abel was a
concession to his mother's qualms. It was his father's name, and by her
it was looked upon as a loophole of escape for her son, should Eloquent
prove a misnomer.
After all, she reflected, if the poor chap shouldn't have the
gift of the gab, Abel's a good everyday workin' name, and he can drop
the E if it suits 'im. 'Tain't always them as has most to say does
most, that's certain; and why his father's so set on him being one of
those chaps forever standing on platforms and haranguing passes me. I
never see no good come of an election yet, an' I've seen plenty of
harm: what with drinkin' and quarrellin', and standin' for hours at
street corners argifying. Politics is all very well in their place, but
let it be a small place, says I, and let 'em keep there.
Abel Gallup was fifty years old and his wife over forty when they
married; staid, home-loving people both. Abel's business was that of a
General Outfitter, and The Golden Anchor that was hung over the
entrance to the shop presided over the fortunes of a sound, going
concern. Only ready-made clothes were sold, only ready money was
accepted. They were well-to-do, and living simply above their shop in
the main street of Marlehouse were able to save largely.
Abel Gallup, however, was not merely a keen man of business and
successful tradesman. He was, in addition, an idealist and a dreamer of
dreams; but so shrewd and level-headed was he, that he kept the two
things quite apart. His business was never neglected, and he returned
to it all the fresher, inasmuch as in his off times his mind was
ardently concerned with other things.
He was a self-educated, self-made man, who had started as shop-boy
and risen to be proprietor. He had always been interested in politics,
and in their study had found the relaxation that others sought in art,
music, literature, or less intellectual pursuits. He was proud of his
liking for politics, counting it for much righteousness that he should
be able to find such joy in what he considered so useful and important
a matter. In fact, he had a habit of saying, Seek ye first the Kingdom
of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto
you, with the comfortable reflection that such temporal prosperity as
had been added to him was probably a reward for his abstention from all
frivolous pleasures. He had no particular desire to rise in the world,
himself. When he married, comparatively late in life, it was a woman of
his own class, a comely, sensible, comfortable woman, who would order
his house well, and see to it that there was no waste.
She did all this; but she did infinitely more. She gave him a son,
and in that son all his hopes and dreams, his secret humilities and
unconscious vanities, his political devotions and antipathies were all
brought together and focussed in one great determination that this son
of his should have all that he had been denied; that in this son every
one of his own inarticulate aspirations should find a voice.
He was a Congregationalist and a prominent member of this sect, the
chief dissenting body in Marlehouse. He read little poetry and no
fiction, but he was widely read in and thoroughly conversant with all
the political events and controversies of both his own generation and
of the one before it. A political meeting was to him what a
public-house is to the habitual drunkard; he could not pass it. He
never spoke in public himself, but he longed to do so with a longing
that was intense as it was hopeless. He knew his limitations, and was
quite conscious that his English was not that of the platform.
Little Eloquent could never remember when he first began to hear the
names that were afterwards to be the most familiar household words to
him. Two names, two personalities ever stood out in memory as an
integral part of his child-lifethose of William Ewart Gladstone and
These were his father's idols.
They glowed, fixed planets in the political firmament, stable,
unquenchable, a lamp to the feet of the faithful. Each shining with a
steady radiance that the divergence in their views on many points could
neither confuse nor obscure.
The square, dogged, fighting face of the man of peace; the serene,
scholarly, aquiline features of the great Liberal leader were familiar
to the little boy as the face of his own father.
That John Bright died when Eloquent was about six made no difference
in his influence. There were two likenesses of him in the sitting-room,
and under one of these the words were inscribed: Be just and fear
not; and Eloquent, who was brought up to look upon justice as the
first of political virtues, used to wonder wistfully whether such
fearlessness could be achieved by one whose face at present showed none
of those characteristics of force, strength, and pugnacity manifested
in the portraits of the great commoner. But he found comfort in the
reflection that Dada, mirror of all the virtues, was yet quite mild
and almost insignificant in appearance; a small, stout, dapper, very
clean-looking little tradesman, with trim white whiskers, a bald head,
and a round, rosy face, wherein shrewd, blue eyes twinkled cheerfully.
No, dada bore not the slightest resemblance either to Mr Gladstone
or Mr Bright, and yet, Eloquent reflected, what a man he was! Dada
was the chief factor in Eloquent's little worldlaw-giver, lover, and
It is probable that his childhood would have been more normal and
less politically precocious had his mother lived. But she died when he
was four years old, a fortnight after the birth of a little sister who
lived but a few hours.
Abel Gallup's sister came to keep house for them, and luckily, she,
like his wife, was sensible and kindly, but she stood in great awe of
her brother and never dreamt of criticising his conduct. Now his wife
had never spared him her caustic, common-sense comments. Politics,
especially where they might have affected the well-being of the child,
were strictly kept in their proper place, And naturally she considered
that, in the upbringing of a very small boy, that place should be
remote almost to invisibility.
With her death all this was altered. Abel Gallup was very lonely,
and turned to his little son for comfort. The child was biddable,
loving, and gentle, and to please his dada had ever been held before
him as his highest honour and duty.
Before he could read he could repeat long portions from the various
speeches his father particularly admired; he learned by heart easily
and had a retentive memory, and his father had only to say over a
sentence two or three times when the child was word perfect. It gave
Abel Gallup the most exquisite delight to stand his little son between
his knees and hear the stirring, sonorous sentences rolled out in the
high, child voice; and even in those early days he used to impress upon
Eloquent that when he was grown-up he would have to speak different to
And little Eloquent, not realising that his father referred merely
to accent and general grammar, would puzzle for hours wondering how
such men as Mr Gladstone or John Bright would express their common
wants. In what lofty terms, for instance, would Mr Gladstone inform his
aunt, if he had an aunt, that his collar was frayed at the back and was
scratching his neck. This, Eloquent felt, was quite a likely
contingency, seeing as he wore 'em so high. And how, he wondered,
would Mr John Bright intimate delicately to the authorities who ruled
his home that he hoped there would be pork for dinner on Sunday and
plenty of crackling. He felt certain that Mr Bright would be
sympathetic in the matter of crackling; he didn't know why, but he was
sure of it. Equally convinced was he that the great statesman would
express his desire in impressive and rhetorical language. He repeated
bits from the speeches that he knew, to see if he could fasten on a
chance phrase here and there that could be introduced into the common
conversations of life; but they never did fit, and he was fain to
express his small wants in the plain language of the folk about him.
Another name floated vague and nebulous among the impressions of
very early childhood: that of one Herbert Spencer; and this was
curious, for Abel Gallup was what he would himself have described as a
sincere Believer. Nevertheless, he was immensely attracted by the
philosopher's Study of Sociology, and little Eloquent was made
to learn and repeat many long bits from that dispassionate work. There
was no portrait of Mr Herbert Spencer hanging upon the walls; he was
not a living force, a real presence, like Mr Gladstone or Mr Bright; he
spake not with the words of a great soul greatly stirred; yet there
was something in his polished and logical sentences that gave Eloquent
a doubtless quite erroneous sense of his personality, and of a certain
aloofness in his attitude. He never called into council the bits from
Mr Herbert Spencer in order to find majestic language in which to
express the ordinary wants of life.
Eloquent was taken to his first political meeting when he was six
years old, and he fell asleep before he had been there half an hour.
His father put his arm round the child, rested the heavy little head
against his shoulder and let him sleep in peace. Not even the cheering
woke him, and his father carried him home, still sleeping. Perhaps Abel
believed that in some mysterious manner the child absorbed the opinions
of the speakers through the pores. He was not in the least annoyed with
the little boy for falling asleep, nor did his tender years prevent a
repetition of the experiment a few months later. This time Eloquent
kept awake for nearly an hour. He was dreadfully bored, but at the same
time felt very elated and important. He was the only little boy in the
Abel Gallup was never tired of impressing upon Eloquent that the
people had the power, and the people had the votes to send you to
parlyment or keep you out. Don't you be misled, my boy, by them as
would wish you to try to please the gentry by and bye. The gentry's few
and the people's many. I don't say a word against the gentry, mind,
they're all right in their proper place, and very pleasant they be,
some of them, but when the time comes for you to stand, just you
remember that even hereabout there's hundreds of little houses for one
manshun, and in every one of those little houses there's a vote, and
you can have it if you go the right way about. When you're in,
Eloquent, then you can hob-a-nob with the gentry if it so pleases you;
but till you're in, remember it's the working man as can make or
Eloquent's aunt, Miss Gallup, had for many years kept the
post-office and general shop in the village of Redmarley; but when her
brother asked her to come and look after his home and his motherless
child, she did not hesitate. She resigned her position of
post-mistress, sold the good-will of her shop, and went to live in
Marlehouse at The Sign of the Golden Anchor.
She did not lose her interest in Redmarley, however; she had many
friends there, and it was one of the treats of little Eloquent's
childhood to drive there with his aunt in a shay, to spend the
afternoon in the woods, and have tea afterwards either with the
housekeeper at the Manshun or in one of the cottages in the village.
In those days, only one old gentleman lived at the Manshun. He
kept himself very much to himself, so aunt said, and Eloquent never
saw him except from an upper window in the Golden Anchor, when he
happened to drive through Marlehouse.
Neither did the little boy ever see much of the interior of the
Manshun itself, except the housekeeper's room, which was down a
passage just inside the back entrance.
It was during these visits to the housekeeper at Redmarley that it
first dawned upon Eloquent that there could be two opinions as to the
absolute righteousness of the Liberal Cause. Moreover, he found out
that his aunt's political views were not on all fours with those of his
father. This last discovery was quite a shock to him, and there was
worse in store. For while he sat in solemn silence devouring bread and
jam at the housekeeper's well-spread table, with his own ears he heard
her dare to speak of the Grand Old Man as that there Gladstone, and
the butler, an imposing gentleman in black, actually described him as
a snake in the grass.
It's curious, Miss Gallup, the butler said, thoughtfully, that
your brother should be that side in politics, and him so well-to-do and
all. If he'd been in the boot trade now, I could have understood
itthere's something in the smell of leather that breeds Radicals like
a bad drain breeds fever; but clothes now, and lining and neck-ties and
hosiery, you'd think they'd have a softening effect on a man.
Dissenter, too, he is, isn't he?
My brother's altogether out of the common run, Miss Gallup
remarked, rather huffily. She might deplore his politics herselfwhen
she was some distance away from himbut no one else should presume to
find fault. He may be mistaken in his viewsI think he is
mistakenbut that don't alter the fact that he's a very successful
man: a solid man, well thought of in Marlehouse, I can tell you.
Dada says, Eloquent broke in, that he's successful because
of his views.
Well, to be sure, exclaimed the housekeeper in astonishment,
who'd have thought the child could understand.
The child, groaned Miss Gallup, hears nothing but politics all
day longit turns me cold sometimes, it does really.
CHAPTER II. ONE OF THEM
When Eloquent was six years old his visits to the Manshun at
Old Mr Ffolliot died, and his nephew, Mr Hilary, reigned in his
stead. The butler and the housekeeper, handsomely pensioned, left the
village. The staff of servants was much reduced, and at first Mr Hilary
Ffolliot only came down to Redmarley for two or three days at a time.
Then he married and came to live there altogether.
Eloquent had liked going to Redmarley. The place attracted him, and
the people were kind, even if they were wrong-headed as to politics.
One day he asked his aunt when they would go again.
I don't fancy we shall go much now, she replied; most of my
friends have left. It's all different now up at the 'Manshun,' with a
young missus and a new housekeeper; though they seem pleased enough
about it in the village; a well-spoken, nice-looking young lady they
says she is, but I shan't go there no more. They don't know me and I
don't know them, and there we'll have to leave it.
And there it was left.
Redmarley would probably have faded altogether from Eloquent's mind,
but for something that occurred to give it a new interest in his eyes.
The summer that he was seven, he was sent to the Grammar School. He
came home every day directly after morning lessons, for he was as yet
considered too small to take part in the games which were at that time
but slightly supervised.
One day he returned to find a victoria and pair standing at the shop
door, coachman on the box, footman standing on the pavement. This was
unusual. Such an equipage must, he felt, belong to some member of the
dangerously seductive upper classes his dada warned him against so
often. The class that some day would want him. The class he was
to keep at arm's length till he was safely in.
The shop door was open, and Eloquent looked in. Dada, himself, was
serving a customer; moreover, he was looking particularly brisk and
Eloquent crept into the shop cautiously. None noticed him. The four
shopmen were serving other customers, and they all happened to be at
the counter on the right-hand side.
It was a long shop with two counters that stretched its entire
length, and was rather dark and close as a rule, but to-day there was
bright sunshine outside. It shone through the big plate-glass windows,
the glass door stood open, and somehow the shop looked gay. Dada had
the left-hand counter all to himself.
Eloquent had never before seen anyone in the least like this
customer, who, with slender hands, sat turning over little ready-made
suits, boy's suits, and feeling the stuff to see if it were strong; she
had taken off one of her long white gloves, and it lay beside the
Eloquent gazed and gazed, and edged up the side of the counter
towards her. Had he possessed eyes for anybody else he would have
observed that the four assistants were staring also, and that his
father, even, seemed very much absorbed by this particular purchaser.
And, after all, why?
She was just a tall, quite young woman, very simply dressed in
But she was beautiful.
Not pretty; beautiful in a large, luminous, quite intelligible way.
It was all there, the gracious sovereignty of feature, colouring,
above all, expressionthat governs men.
Little Eloquent knew it and came edging up the shop, drawn
irresistibly as by some powerful magnetic force.
The young shopmen knew it, and neglected their patrons as much as
they dared to stare at her.
Mr Gallup knew it, and stood rubbing his hands and thoroughly
enjoying the good moment.
Those other customers knew it, and although the inattention of the
young shopmen annoyed them, they sat well sideways in their chairs that
they, too, might take a peep at the lady without rudely turning round.
The only person in the shop who appeared to know nothing about it
was the lady herself. She bent her lovely head over the little suits
and pondered, murmuring:
I do wish I knew which they'd like best, a Norfolk jacket, or a
jacket and waistcoat. Can you remember which you liked best? she
asked, suddenly lifting large, earnest eyes to Mr Gallup's flushed and
Really, madam, said Mr Gallup, rather taken aback at the very
personal turn the subject had taken, I shouldn't think it matters in
the least. Both are equally suitable.
At that moment, the lady caught sight of Eloquent edging, edging up
the side of the counter, ever nearer to this astonishing vision.
Here's somebody who can tell us, she exclaimed. I'll explain to
him. . . . I'm buying suits for three little boysSunday suits, for
church and Sunday school, you knowI want them plain and serviceable
so that by and bye they won't look funny for schoolyou know;
well, would they like coats and waistcoats, or a Norfolkwhich do you
Coats and waistcoats, said Eloquent promptly, his eyes still glued
to her face.
Why? asked the lady.
Because you can take off your coat, and then you're in your
But aren't you in your shirt-sleeves when you take off a Norfolk?
No, said Eloquent, then you're in your shirt.
The lady laughed. Mr Gallup laughed. The assistants, who had not
heard, for Eloquent spoke very low, sniggered sympathetically, and the
other customers frowned.
That settles it, said the lady, and I'm very much obliged to you.
I'll have the three little grey suits with coats and waistcoats. Poor
little chaps, their mother died just a fortnight ago, and they've
My mother's dead, Eloquent announced abruptly.
The lady's eyes had been so soft, her face so tender and full of
pity as she said, poor little chaps, he felt a sudden spasm of
jealousy. He wanted her to look at him like that.
He did not see his father's start, nor the momentary pained
contraction of his cheerful features.
Eloquent's eyes were fixed on the lady's face, and sure enough he
got what he wanted.
I'm so sorry, she said simply, and she looked it; she had turned
her kind eyes full upon him, eyes wide apart and grey and limpid.
He edged still nearer to her; so near that he stood upon her white
dress with his dusty little boots, and still he stared unblinkingly.
The young lady looked puzzled. Why did the child regard her so
fixedly? She suddenly awoke to the fact that everyone in the shop was
looking at her. Even Mr Gallup, on the other side of the counter,
seemed suddenly stricken by inertia, and instead of putting up the
little suits in paper, was staring at the pair of them.
Then Eloquent was moved to explain.
I've never seen anybody look like you before, he said gravely,
and I like watching you.
Thank you, said the lady, and she patted his cheek.
Mr Gallup laughed, and came back to the affairs of the Golden
Anchor, busying himself in tying up her parcel, while he explained that
Eloquent was his only child.
Eloquent did not laugh, for she was going away.
Dada carried the parcel to the shop door and gave it to the footman.
He put it in the carriage, and held out a thin silken cloak for the
lady, which she put on. He covered her knees with a linen dust rug, and
smiling and bowing she drove away.
Eloquent turned back into the shop with his father.
It seemed to have got very dark and gloomy again.
Dada, he asked, who is that lady?
That, said Mr Gallup, loudly and with no little pride, is Mrs
Ffolliot of Redmarley, the bride.
The customers were all listening, the four assistants were all
Mr Gallup held out his hand to Eloquent, and together they went
through the shop and upstairs into the sitting-room, that looked out
upon the market-place.
Dada, is she one of the Classes? Eloquent inquired, nervously.
I believe you, my boy, Mr Gallup responded jocosely, very much
so, she is; a regular out and outer.
His father went away chuckling, but Eloquent was much depressed.
He went and stood over against one of the portraits of John Bright
and looked at him for help.
Be just and fear not, said that statesman.
All very well, thought Eloquent, she didn't pat your
He went and sought counsel of Mr Gladstone, a youngish Mr Gladstone
in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester: At last, my friends, I have come
amongst you . . . unmuzzled, said the legend underneath his portrait.
But Eloquent felt that this was just what he was not. He felt very
muzzled indeed. All sorts of vague thoughts went surging through his
brain that could find no expression in words.
I do believe, he said desperately, if she was to give the
whisperingest little call, I'd be obliged to go . . . and so would
you, he continued, shaking his head at Mr Gladstone, you'd do just
He felt that, in some inexplicable, subtly mysterious fashion, there
was a kind of affinity between Mr Gladstone and Mrs Ffolliot.
Mr Gladstone would understand, and not be too hard upon him.
In the years that followed, he saw Mrs Ffolliot from time to time
from the window or in the street, but never again did he come so close
to her as to touch her.
Never did he see her, however, without that strange thrill of
enthusiastic admiration; that dumb, inarticulate sense of having seen
something entirely satisfying and delightful; satisfying for the moment
only: he paid dearly for his brief joy in after hours of curious
depression and an aching sense of emptiness and loss. She was so far
Sometimes she was driving with her husband, and little Eloquent
wondered after they had passed what manner of man it could be who had
the right to sit by her whenever he liked. He never had time to notice
Mr Ffolliot, till one day he saw him in the carriage alone, and
scrutinised him sternly. Long afterwards he read how some admirer of
Lord Hartington had said that what he liked most about him was his
You-be-damnedness. The phrase, Eloquent felt, exactly described Mr
Ffolliot; aloof, detached, a fastidious, fine gentleman to his finerer
tips, entirely careless as to what the common people thought of him;
not willingly conscious, unless rudely reminded of their existence,
that there were any common people: such, Eloquent felt sure, was Mr
Ffolliot's mental attitude, and he hated him.
Mr Ffolliot wore a monocle, and just at that time a new figure
loomed large on the little boy's political horizona figure held up
before him not for admiration, but reprobationas a turncoat, an
apostate, a real and menacing danger to the Cause dada had most at
heart; the well-known effigy of Mr Joseph Chamberlain. He always
appeared with monocle and orchid. In his expression, judged by the
illustrated papers, there was something of that same
you-be-damnedness he disliked so much in Mr Ffolliot. Eloquent lumped
them together in his mind, and hated Mr Ffolliot as ardently as he
worshipped his wife; and to no one at all did he ever say a word about
either of them.
He rose rapidly in the school, and when he was nine years old had
reached a form with boys much older than himself, boys old enough to
write essays; and Eloquent wrote essays too; essays which were cruder
and quainter than those of his companions. One day the subject
givenrather an abstruse theme for boys to tacklewas Beauty.
Eloquent wrote as follows:
Beauty is tall and has a pleasant sounding voice, and you want to
come as near as you can. You want to look at her all the time because
you don't see it often. Beauty is most pretty to look at and you don't
seem to see anyone else when it's there. She smells nice, a wafty smell
like tobacco plants not pipes in the evening. When beauty looks at you
you feel glad and funny and she smiles at you and looks with her eyes.
She is different to aunts and people's wives. Taller and quite a
different shape. Beauty is different.E. A. Gallup, class IIIb.
He was twelve years old when they left Marlehouse. His father had
bought a larger business in a busy commercial town, where there was a
grammar school famous throughout the Midlands.
There Eloquent was educated until he was seventeen, when he, too,
went into the outfitting business. He attended lectures and the science
school in his free time, and belonged to two or three debating clubs.
He was in great request at the smaller political gatherings as a
speaker, and with constant practice bade fair to justify his name.
He occasionally went to Marlehouse, generally on political business,
but never to Redmarley. Nevertheless, stray items of Redmarley news
reached him through his aunt, who still kept up her friendship with
some of the village folk there.
From her he learned that there were a lot of young Ffolliots; that
they were wild and mishtiful, unmanageable and generally troublesome;
that Mrs Ffolliot was still immensely popular and her husband hardly
known after all these years; that, owing, it was supposed, to their
increasing family, they did not entertain much, and that the Manshun
itself looked much as it had always looked.
Eloquent made no comment on these revelations, but he treasured them
in his heart. Some day he intended to go back to Redmarley. He never
forgot Mrs Ffolliot, or the impression she had made upon him the first
time he saw her.
When Eloquent was four-and-twenty Abel Gallup died. He then learned
that his father was a much wealthier man than anyone had supposed. Miss
Gallup was left an annuity of a hundred a year. The rest of the very
considerable property (some seventy thousand pounds) was left to
Eloquent, but with the proviso that until he was elected a member of
Parliament he could not touch more than three hundred a year, though he
was to be allowed two thousand pounds for his election expenses
whenever, and as often as he chose to stand, until he was elected; as
long as the money lasted. Once he was in Parliament the property was
his absolutely, to dispose of as he thought fit.
It was proof of Abel Gallup's entire trust in his son, that there
was not one word in the will that in any way whatsoever expressed even
a hope as to the legatee's political convictions.
Miss Gallup went back to Redmarley. Eloquent sold the outfitting
business, and went to London to study parliamentary business from the
CHAPTER III. ANOTHER OF THEM
A young man was walking through Redmarley woods towards Redmarley
village, and from time to time he gazed sorrowfully at his boots. There
had been a lot of rain that winter, and now on this, the third Sunday
in December, the pathway was covered with mud, which, when it was not
sticky, was extremely slippery.
The young man walked rather slowly, twirling a smart cane as he
went, and presently he burst into speechmore accuratelya speech.
What, gentlemen, he demanded, loudly and rhetorically, but noI
will not call you gentlemen; here to-night, I note it with pride and
gladness, there are but few who can claim that courtesy title. I who
speak, and most of you who do me the honour to listen, can lay claim to
no prouder appellation than that of MEN. What then, fellow-men, I ask
you, what is the House of Lords? What purpose does it serve
except to delay all beneficent legislation, to waste the country's time
and to nullify the best efforts. . . . Confound . . .
He slipped, he staggered, his hat went one way, his stick another,
and he sat down violently and with a splash in a particularly large
puddle. And at that instant he was suddenly beset by a doga curiously
long-legged fox-terrierwho came bouncing round him with short rushes
and sharp barks. He had reached a part of the woods where the paths
cross. Fir trees were very thick just there, and footsteps made hardly
any sound in the soft mud.
A tall girl came quickly round the corner, calling Parker! and
pulled up short as she beheld the stranger seated ingloriously in the
puddle. But it was only for a moment; she hastened towards him,
rebuking the dog as she came: Be quiet, Parker, how rude of you, come
off now, come to heelthen, as he of the puddle, apparently paralysed
by his undignified position, made no effort to arise, on reaching him
she held out her hands, saying; I wouldn't sit there if I were
you, it's so awfully wet. Shall I pull you up? Dig your heels in,
that's it. I say, you are in a mess!
The leggy fox-terrier ceased to bark. Instead, he thrust an
inquisitive nose into the stranger's bowler hat and sniffed dubiously.
The girl was strong and had pulled with a will.
I am much obliged to you, the young man remarked stiffly, at the
same time regarding his rescuer with a suspicious and inimical eye, to
see if she were laughing at him.
She did nothing of the kind. Her candid gaze merely expressed
dismay, subtly mingled with commiseration. I don't see how we're to
clean you, she said; only scraping would do ita trowel's best, but,
then, I don't suppose you've got one about you.
The young man tried to look down his back, always a difficult feat.
You're simply covered with mud from head to foot, she continued.
The only thing I can think of for you to do is to come to the stables,
and I'll get Heaven to clean you . . . unless, perhaps, she added,
doubtfully, you were coming to the house.
If you will kindly direct me to the village, he said, I have to
pay a call there, and no doubt my friends will assist me to remove some
of this mud.
But you can't go calling like that, she expostulated; you'd far
better come to the stables first. Heaven's so used to us, he'd clean
you up in no time; besides, by far the quickest way to the village is
down our drive. There's no right-of-way through these woods; didn't you
see the boards?
Whenever, he spoke with deliberate emphasis, I see a board to the
effect that trespassers will be prosecuted, I make a point of walking
over that land as a protest.
Dear me, she said. It must take you sadly out of your way
sometimes. Where have you come from to-day?
Then you'd have saved yourself at least a mile and a half, and your
trousers all that mud, if you'd stuck to the road; it's ever such a
long way round to come by the woods.
I prefer the woods.
There was such superior finality in his tone, that the girl was
apparently crushed. She started to walk, he followed; she waited for
him, and they tramped along side by side in silence; he, covertly
taking stock of his companion; she, gazing straight ahead as though for
the moment she had forgotten his existence.
A tall girl, evidently between sixteen and seventeen, for her hair
was not done up, but tied together at the back with a large bow,
whence it streamed long and thick and wavy to her waist: abundant light
brown hair, with just enough red in it to give it life and warmth.
His appraising eye took in the fact at once that all her clothes
were old, shabby, and exceedingly well cut. Her hat was a shapeless
soft felt with no trimming, save a rather ragged cord, and she wore it
turned down all round. It had once been brown, but was now a mixture of
soft faded tints like certain lichens growing on a roof. Her covert
coat, rather too big, and quite nondescript in colour, washed by the
rains of many winters, revealed in flowing lines the dim grace of the
broad, yet slender shoulders beneath.
Her exceedingly short skirt was almost as weather-beaten as the
coat, but it swung evenly with every step and there was no sagging at
Last of all, his eyes dropped to her boots: wide welted, heavy brown
boots; regular country boots; but here again was the charm of graceful
line, and he knew instinctively that the feet they encased were slender
and shapely and unspoiled.
He raised his eyes again to the serenely unconscious profile
presented to his view: a very finished profile with nothing smudgy or
uncertain about it. The little nose was high-bridged and decided, the
red lips full and shut closely together, the upper short and deeply
cleft in the centre.
He was just thinking that, in spite of his muddy hat, he would
rather like her to look at him again, when she turned her large gaze
upon him with the question:
Were you preaching just before you fell down?
He flushed hotly. Certainly notdid it sound like . . . that?
Well, I wasn't sure. I thought if you were a curate trying a sermon
you'd have said 'brethren,' but 'fellow men' would do, you know; and
then I heard something about the 'house of the Lord,' and I was sure
you must be a sucking parson; but when I came up I wasn't so sure. What
were you saying over, if it wasn't a sermon?
It was stupid of me . . . but I do a good deal of public speaking,
and I never dreamt anyone was within miles . . .
Oh, a speech, was it? Where are you going to speak it?
I shall probably address a meeting in Marlehouse to-morrow night.
Because I've been asked to do so.
Will it be in the paper on Saturday?
How grand; do tell me your name, then I can look for your speech.
I'd love to read it and see if you begin with the bit I heard about
fellow men and the house of the Lord.
The House of Lords, he corrected.
Oh, said the girl. Them! It's them you're against. I was afraid
you objected to churches.
I don't care much for churches, either, he observed, gloomily. Do
I've really never thought about it, she confessed. One's supposed
to like them . . . they're good things, surely?
Institutions must be judged by their actual utility; their
adaptability to present needs. Traditional benefits can no longer be
accepted as a reason for the support of any particular cause.
I think, she said, that the mud on your clothes is drying. It
will probably brush off quite nicely.
Had he ever read Alice in Wonderland he might have remembered
what preceded the Caucus Race. But he never had, so he merely thought
that she was singularly frivolous and irrelevant.
You haven't told me your name, she continued, so that I can look
for that speech. We're nearly home, and I'll hand you over to Heaven so
that he can make you tidy for your call.
My name is E. A. Gallup, he replied, shortly.
Up or op? she asked.
Up, he replied, wishing to heaven it weren't.
Mine's M. B. Ffolliot, two 'fs' and two 'ls'. We live here, you
I guessed you were a Miss Ffolliot. In fact, I may say I knew it.
Everyone knows us about here, she said sadly. That's the worst of
it. You can never get out of anything you've done.
E. A. Gallup looked surprised, but as she was again gazing into
space she did not observe him.
Whenever hay's trampled, or pheasants startled, or gates left open,
or pigs chased, or turkeys furious, they always say, 'It's them
varmints of young Ffolliots.'
Do you know, he said, and his grave face suddenly broke into a
most boyish grin, I believe even I have heard something of the kind.
If you live anywhere within six miles of Redmarley you'll hear
little else, and it isn't always us . . . though it is generally. This
stupid gate's locked. We'll have to get over. It's easiest to do it
This was to go back a few paces, run forward, put her hands on the
top and vault the gate as a boy vaults a gym horse. E. A. Gallup did
not attempt to follow suit. He climbed over, clumsily enough, dropping
his stick on the wrong side. When he had recovered it, he raised his
muddy hat with a sweep. I see we are in a road of some sort, perhaps
you will kindly direct me to the village, and I will not trouble . . .
er . . . Mr Heaven
But much the nearest way to the village is down our front drive.
And we pass the stables to go to it.
I couldn't think of intruding in your drive. Have the goodness to
But the woods are ours just as much as the drive; where's the
difference? In fact, we'd rather have people walk in the drive
because of the pheasants.
There is a difference, though it may not be apparent to you
. . . if I follow this road, do I come to the village?
Don't be silly, she said shortly. If you prefer to be all over
mud there's no more to be said, but I can't direct you any more than
I've done. If you want to get to the village you must go down our
drive, unless you go wandering another mile and a half out of your way.
It's quite a short drive; only you must come by the stables to get to
it. Are you coming?
I'm afraid I seem ungrateful, he began.
You do rather, she interrupted.
I assure you I am not. I appreciate your kindness, but I cannot see
why I should trouble . . .
Oh, Heaven's used to it; he wouldn't mind, but it's evident
you would, so come along. It will be dark before long, and I'll get
into no end of a row if I'm out alone, and father meets me when I get
in. Not a soul will see you, please hurry.
She led him across a deserted stableyard, and round the back of the
house through a wide-walked formal garden, where Christmas roses shone
star white in the herbacious border, where yew trees were clipped into
fantastic shapes, and tall grey statues looked like ghosts in the
gathering dusk, till they reached the sweep of gravelled drive in front
of the house. Wide lawns sloped steeply to the banks of the Marle,
which flowed through the grounds. The red December sun was reflected in
a myriad flames in the many mullioned windows of the Manor. As the girl
had promised, not a soul was in sight, and it was very still.
There, Mr Gallup, she announced, cheerfully, follow the drive and
you'll find the village outside the gates. Good-bye! I must go in by
the side door with these boots. And before he could do more than lift
his hat while he murmured inarticulate thanks, she had walked swiftly
away and vanished round the angle of the house.
For a moment he stood quite still, looking at the beautiful old
Jacobean manor-house so warmly red in the sunset. Then he, too, turned
and walked quickly down the winding drive, and as he went he murmured
softly: So that's what they're like . . . curious anomaly . . .
The girl entered the house by the side door, changed her muddy boots
and hung up her coat and hat in a little room devoted to boot boxes and
pegs, and ran upstairs to the schoolroom. Her elder brother, Grantly,
who lounged smoking in the deep window-seat, swung his feet to the
floor with a plump, and sat facing her as she came in, saying sternly:
Mary, who on earth was that man you were with? Where did you pick
Mary laughed. I literally picked him up from the very wettest part
of the wood, where all the firs are, you know. He was sitting
mournfully in a young pond, apparently quite incapable of getting up by
himself, and very much afraid of Parker, who was barking furiously.
Showed his sense; but what was that chap doing there, and who is
He was trespassing, of course; makes a point of it, he says, but
he'd evidently lost his way, so I put him right. I thought if he and
the pater met there'd be words. He isn't at all a meek young man, and
talks like that Course of Reading Miss Glover loves so.
If he talked so much, he must have told you something about
Not much; his name is E. A. Gallup, and he was going to pay a call
What's he like? I only saw his back, and deucedly disreputable it
was. He looked as if he had been rolling drunk.
Mary laughed again. I shouldn't think he ever got drunk,
she said; he's far too solemn. In appearance, he's rather like a very
respectable young milkman, fresh-coloured, you know, and sort of blunt
everywhere, but he speaksif you can imagine a cross between a very
superior curate and the paterthat's what he speaks like, except that
there's just an echo of an accentnot bad, you know, but there.
Grantly took the pipe out of his mouth and pulled the lobe of his
Gallup, he repeated. Gallup, I've heard something about that name
quite lately. Surely, if you walked with him right from the Forty Firs
and talked all the time, you must have found out something more?
He's going to make a speech at Marlehouse to-morrow night; he was
spouting away like anything just before he fell down. That's what made
Parker bark so.
I've got it, cried Grantly. He's the Liberal candidate, that's
what he is. He's standing against poor old Brooke of Medenham, and they
say he'll get in, tooyoung brute.
Is he a Labour member?
No, Liberal, they couldn't run a Labour member at Marlehouse; not
enough cash in the constituency . . . tell you who he is, son of old
Gallup that kept the ready-made clothes shop in the
market-place'Golden Anchor' or something, they called it. Mother used
to buy suits there for the kids in the village for Easter, jolly decent
suits they were, too.
And does he keep on the 'Golden Anchor'?
I don't think so, but I don't know. Jolly good cheek marching
through our woods, as if they belonged to him. Wish I'd met him.
My dear chap, we're the last people in the world who can say
anything to people for marching through other people's property, you
especially. Why, nine-tenths of the bad rows, ever since any of us
could walk, have been about that sort of thing.
Good old Mary, that Radical chap's converted you. What else did he
say? Come on; get it off your chest.
At that moment, the door was opened by an elderly man-servant, who
announced: The master wishes to speak to you, Miss Mary.
Oh, Botticelli! Cimabue! Burne Jones! Mary ejaculated. The pater
must have been looking out of the window, too. What bad luck.
I wouldn't mention having touched the chap in your interview
with the pater, Grantly called after her.
As Eloquent neared the Manor gatesthose great gates famous
throughout the country for the gryphons on their posts and their
wonderful fairy-like iron tracerya little boy came out from amongst
the tall chestnuts in the avenue. His face was dirty and his
sailor-suit much the worse for wear, but his outstanding, high-bridged
little nose and broad, confident smile proclaimed him one of the
family. He stood right in the stranger's path, exclaiming:
Hullo! had a scrap with the keeper?
His tone proclaimed a purely friendly curiosity. Certainly not,
Eloquent answered, coldly. I had the misfortune to slip and fall.
Why ever didn't they clean you up a bit at the house? the little
Your sister was kind enough to suggest it
Miss he hardly liked to say M. B., and paused.
Big or little? There's only two.
Rather big, I should say.
Oh, that's Marydid she bump into you?
Eloquent looked hopelessly puzzled, and the boy hastened to add:
She's a bit of a gawk, you know, and awfully strong. I thought she
might have charged into you and knocked you over . . . she wouldn't
mean to do it . . .
I must be going, said Eloquent, good-evening, and he hastened on
Sorry you couldn't stop to tea, the small boy called after him
hospitably. I'm Ger, so you'll know me again when you see me.
The child stood for a minute looking after the stranger in the hope
that he would turn his head, and nod or wave to him in friendly
farewell, but he did neither. Ger gave a little sigh, and trotted up
the drive towards home.
Outside the gates Eloquent paused and looked back at them. Brought
from Verona generations ago, they were a perfect example of a perfect
period. Richly decorative, various in design, light and flowing in
form, the delicate curves broke into actual leafage, sweeping and free
as nature's own. The Ffolliots were proud of their gates.
He gazed at them admiringly, and then, like Ger, he sighed.
Why, he muttered, why should they have had all this always? I
wonder if it's the constant passing through gates like this that helps
to make them what they are.
CHAPTER IV. REFLECTION AND
Eloquent found that M. B. Ffolliot had not deceived him as to the
nearness of the village. A few yards to the left, over the bridge, and
the long, irregular street lay in front of him; the river on one side;
the houses, various in size and shape, but alike in one respect, that
the most modern of them was over two hundred years old. He knew that
his aunt's house was at the very end of the street and furthest from
the bridge, and that Redmarley village was nearly a mile in length. Yet
he did not hurry. He walked very slowly in the middle of the muddy
road, resolved to marshal and tabulate his impressions as was his
But in this instance his impressions refused to conform to either
process, and remained mutinously chaotic.
He found that, in thinking of Mary, he unconsciously called her
that girl, whereas such maidens as he hitherto had encountered were
always young ladies. He didn't know many young ladies, but those he
did know he there and then called into review and compared with Mary
They were all of them much better dressed, he was certain of that.
But he was equally assured that not one of them would have forborne to
laugh at his plight, as he sat abject and ridiculous in the very
largest puddle in Redmarley woods.
She had not laughed.
And would any one of these well-dressed young ladies (Eloquent took
into account that it was Sunday) have held out helping hands to a total
stranger with such absolute simplicity, so entirely as a matter of
course? not as a young woman to a young man, but as one fellow-creature
to another who had, literally, in this instance, fallen upon evil
How tall she was, and how strong.
Again (he blushed at the recollection) he seemed to feel the clasp
of those muscular young hands in the worn tan-coloured gloves, gloves
loose at the wrists, that did not button but were drawn on. He had
noticed her leather gloves as she held out her hands to him, and knew
that in the language of the trade they were rather costly to start
with, but lasted for ever.
They did not stock goods of that class in the particular branch of
the outfitting trade that he knew best. People wouldn't pay the price.
And he found himself saying over and over again, wouldn't pay the
price, and it was of the girl he was thinking, not of her gloves.
How eager she had been that he should come and be brushed; I've no
objection, Eloquent reflected, to being under an obligation to her,
but I'm hanged if I'd be beholden to Ffolliot for anything. Somehow it
gave him infinite satisfaction to think of Mary's father in that
familiar fashion. He, to put up boards about trespassers in the woods!
Who was he?
Eloquent ignored the fact that they were the same boards that had
been there in old Mr Ffolliot's time, and badly needed repainting.
That little boy, too, who first appeared to suspect him of poaching,
and then expressed sorrow that he would not stay to tea. What an
extraordinary family they seemed to be!
The girl had actually owned to being constantly suspected of all
sorts of damage, and not always wrongfully either. He was devoured by
curiosity as to what forms her lawlessness could take.
A bit of a gawk her young brother had called her. How dared he?
Goddess, thought Eloquent, was much more appropriate than gawk. He
had no very clear conception of a goddess, but vaguely pictured a woman
fair and simple and superb and youngnot quite so young as Mary
Ffolliot. It was only during the last year or two that he had read any
poetry, and he was never quite sure whether he liked it or not. It was
upsetting stuff he considered, vaguely disquieting and suggestive. Yet
there were times when it came in useful. It said things for a chap that
he couldn't say for himself. It expressed the inexpressible . . . in
words. It synthesised and formulated fantastic and illusive
His youthful facility in learning bits of prose by heart had not
deserted him, and he found verse even easier to remember; in fact,
sometimes certain stanzas would recur with irritating persistency when
he didn't want them at all; and in thinking of this, to him, new type
of girl, there flowed into his mind the lines:
Walking in maiden wise,
Modest and kind and fair,
The freshness of spring in her eyes
And the fulness of spring in her hair.
Gawk, indeed! that little boy ought to have his head smacked.
And having come to a definite condition at last, he found he had
reached his aunt's house. The lamp was lit in the parlour and the blind
was down, for it was already quite dark. He had taken twenty-five
minutes to walk from Mr Ffolliot's gates to his aunt's house.
Miss Gallup, plump, ruddy, and garrulous, very like her brother Abel
with her round pink face and twinkling eyes, was greatly delighted to
You've come to your old aunt first thing, Eloquent, she cried
triumphantly, which is no more than I expected, though none the less
gratifying, and you nearly a member and all. How things do come to
pass, to be sure. I wish as your poor father had lived to see this day,
and you going into parlyment with the best of 'em.
Don't say 'going in,' aunt, Eloquent expostulated. It's quite on
the cards that they won't elect me. Personally, I think they would have
done better to put up a stronger candidate. Marlehouse is always looked
upon as a safe Tory seat; you know Mr Brooke has been member for a long
time, and was unopposed at the last election.
An' never opens his mouth in London from one year's end to the
other, sits and sleeps, so I've heard, and leaves the rest to do all
the talking and bills and that. My dear boy, don't tell me! Marlehouse
folk's got too much sense to give the go-by to one as can talk and was
born amongst 'em, and they all know you.
But, Aunt Susan, I thought you were ever such a Tory. What has
become of all your political convictions, if you want me to get in?
Miss Gallup laughed. Precious little chance; I had of 'aving any
convictions all the years I kept house for your dear father; an' a
pretty aunt I'd be if I could go against you now. Politics is all very
well, but flesh and blood's a deal more, an' a woman wouldn't be half a
woman if she didn't stand by her own. It don't seem to matter much
which side's in. There'll be plenty to find fault with 'em whichever it
is, and anyway from all I can hear just now you're on the winnin' side,
so 'vote for Gallup,' says I, an' get someone as'll speak up for
youand not sit mumchance for all the world like a stuckey image night
after night. Your bag come by the carrier all right yesterday. And now
you must want your tea after that long walkbut, good gracious me,
boy, have you met with an accident, or what, that you're all over with
mud like that? You aren't hurted, are you?
Eloquent again explained his mishap, but he said nothing about Mary
Ffolliot. His aunt took him to the back-door and brushed him
vigorously, then they both sat down to tea in her exceedingly cosy
Do you like being back here again after all these years, Aunt
Susan? asked Eloquent. I suppose everything has changed very much
since you lived here before.
Not so much as you'd think; and then the place is the same,
and as one grows older that counts for a lot. When one's young, one's
all for change and gallivantin', but once you're up in years 'tis the
old things you cares for most; 'an when I heard as the house I was born
in was empty I just had to come back. Redmarley village don't change,
because no one can build. Mr Ffolliot sees to that; not one rood of
land will he sell, and the old houses looks just the same as when I was
a little girl. Your father he left Redmarley when he was fourteen, and
went 'prentice to the 'Golden Anchor,' an' he never cared for the
village like me. I hardly knew him when I was young, he being twelve
years older than me, and him coming home but seldom.
It must make a good deal of difference having a family at . . . the
Manor, said Eloquent, with studied carelessness. He had nearly said
the Manshun, after the fashion of the villagers.
Of course it do. There's changes there, if you like.
I suppose you sometimes see . . . the young people?
See them? I should just think we do, and hear them and hear
about them from morning to night. There never was more mixable
children than the young Ffolliots.
How many are there? Eloquent tried to keep his voice cool and
uninterested, but he felt as he used to feel when he was a child in
hiding games, when some one told him he was getting warm.
Well, there's Mr Grantly, he's the eldest; he's going to be an
officer in the army like his grandpa; he's gone apprentice to some
What? asked Eloquent, in astonishment.
I thought it a bit queer myself, but Miss Mary herself did say it.
'Grantly's gone to the shop,' she said, 'to learn to be a soldier'; and
I said, 'Well, the gentry's got more sense than I thought for, if they
gives 'em a trade as well.' And Miss Mary she said again, he'd gone to
a shop right enough, and went off laughing.
But that's impossible, said Eloquent. He must have gone either to
Sandhurst or Woolwich; there's nowhere else he could go.
She never mentioned neither of those names. 'Shop,' she said . . .
you needn't look at me like that, Eloquent . . . I'm positive.
You were telling me how many children there were, Eloquent
remarked pacifically, Grantly, the eldest son, and then . . . ?
I'm getting warm, his mind kept saying.
Then Miss Mary, just a year younger, very like her mother she is .
. . in looks, but she hasn't got the gumption of Mrs Ffolliot. That'll
come, perhaps . . . later. A bit of a tomboy she's bin, but she's
I suppose she is nearly grown up?
Between seventeen and eighteen, she'll be, but not done up her hair
yetthat's Mr Ffolliot's doin's; he's full of fads as an egg's full o'
meat. Then there's the twins, Uz and Buz they calls 'em. They're at
Rugby School, they are, but they'll be home for the holidays almost
directly. I can't say I'm partial to scripture names myself, and only
last time he was here I asked Mr Grantly what they called them that
for, when there was so many prettier names in our language, and he
said, quite solemn like, 'Uz his first-born and Buz his brother, that's
why, you see.' And I said, 'but they're twins, sir'; and he said, 'but
Uz was born five minutes before Buz, so it's quite correct,' and went
off laughing. They're always laughing at something, those children.
Then are there just the four?' asked Eloquent, who knew perfectly
well there were more.
Oh, bless you, no; there's Master Ger; now I call him the pick of
the bunch, the most conformable little chap and full of sense: he'll
talk to you like one of yourselves; he's everybody's friend, is Master
Ger. Miss Kitten's the youngest, and a nice handful she is. She and
Master Ger does everything together, and they do say as she's the only
one as don't care two pins for her papa; nothing cows her, she'd sauce
the king himself if she got the chance.
From what you say, I gather that they seem to do pretty much as
they like, Eloquent remarked primly.
Outside they do, but in the house they say those poor children's
hushed up something dreadful. Mr Ffolliot's a regular old Betty, he
never ought to have had one child, let alone six. He's always reading
and writing and studying and sitting with his nose in a book, and then
he complains of nerves. I'd nerve him if I was his wifebut she's all
for peace, poor lady, and I suppose she makes the best of a bad job.
Is she unhappy? Eloquent demanded, with real solicitude.
If she is, she don't show it, anyhow. She goes her way, and he goes
his, and her way's crowded with the children, and there it is.
Are you thinking of going to church, Aunt Susan?
Miss Gallup looked surprised.
Well, no, not if you don't want to come. I generally go, but I'm
more than willing to stop with you.
But I'd like to go, Eloquent asserted, and got very red in the
face as he did so. I don't think I've ever been in the church here.
Well, there's no chapel as you could go to if you was ever so
minded. Old Mr Molyneux mayn't be so active as some, but there's never
been no dissent since he was vicar, and that's forty years last
What about my father? Eloquent suggested.
Your dear father got his dissenting opinions and his politics in
Marlehouse, not here.
Then I'm afraid I shan't get many votes from this village, said
Eloquent, but he said it cheerfully, as though he didn't care.
That's for you to see to, Miss Gallup said significantly; there's
no tellin' what a persuasive tongue mayn't do.
As Eloquent walked through the darkness with his aunt, he heard her
cheerful voice go rippling on as in a dream. He had no idea what she
talked about, his whole mind was concentrated in the question: Will
she be there?
CHAPTER V. THE IMPRESSIONS ARE
The service at Redmarley Church was medium high. It boasted an
organist and a surpliced choir, and the choir intoned the responses.
The old Vicar, as Mr Molyneux liked to be called, was musical, and
saw to it that the Sunday services were melodiously and well rendered.
Very rarely was there a week-day service. The villagers would have
regarded them in the light of a dangerous innovation; yet,
notwithstanding the lack of daily services, the church stood open from
sunrise to sunset always, and though very few people ever entered it
during the week, they would have been most indignant had it ever been
The church was too big for the village: it was built early in the
fourteenth century when the Manor House was a monastery, and at a time
when Redmarley was the religious centre for half a dozen outlying
villages that now had churches of their own. Therefore, it was never
full, and even if every soul in the village had made a point of going
to divine service at the same time, it would still have appeared but
Miss Gallup's seat, with a red cushion and red footstools and
everything handsome about it, was about half-way up the aisle on the
On the right, one behind the other, were two long oaken pews next
the chancel steps belonging to the Manor House. In the one, there were
three young women, obviously servants; the front one was empty.
Eloquent began to wish he had not come.
People bustled and creaked and pattered up the aisle after their
several fashions. The organist started the voluntary, and the choir
The congregation stood up, when suddenly his aunt gave Eloquent's
elbow a jerk, and whispered: There's Mr Grantly and Miss Mary.
As if he didn't know!
Just the same leisurely, unconscious, strolling walk that got over
the ground so much more quickly than one would have thought.
She had changed her clothes and looked, he noted it with positive
relief, much more Sundayish. In fact, her costume (Eloquent used this
dreadful word) now compared quite favourably with those of the other
young ladies of his acquaintance. Not that she in the least resembled
them. Not a bit. Her things were ever so much plainer, but Eloquent's
eagle eye, trained to acute observation by his long service in the
outfitting line, grasped at once that plain as was the dark blue coat
and skirt, it was uncommonly well made. She wore blue fox furs, too,
hat and stole and muff all matching, and her hair was tied twice with
dark blue ribbon, at the nape of the neck and about half-way down.
Yes, M. B. Ffolliot was very tidy indeed. Behind her followed a
youth ridiculously like her in feature, but he was half a head taller.
He walked with quick, short steps, and had a very flat back and square
shoulders. His appearance, even allowing for the high seriousness of an
outfitter's point of view, was eminently satisfactory. There was no
fleck or speck of fluff or dust or mud about his clothes. He
was, Eloquent decided grimly, a knut of the nuttiest flavour; from
the top of his exceedingly smooth head to his admirable grey spats and
well-shaped boots, a thoroughly well-dressed young man.
Shop, indeed! thought Eloquent. He's never seen the wrong side of
a counter in his life.
Rend your hearts and not your garments, so the Vicar adjured the
congregation in his agreeable monotone, and the service began.
Eloquent could see Mary's back between the heads of two maids: her
hair shone burnished and bright in the lamplight. Just before the
psalms she turned and whispered to her brother, and he caught a glimpse
of her profile for the space of three seconds.
When the psalms ended, the knut came out into the aisle, mounted
the steps leading to the lectern, and started to read the first lesson.
Woe to thee that spoilest and thou wast not spoiled, Grantly
Ffolliot began in a voice of thunder. The congregation lifted startled
heads, and looked considerably surprised. Grantly was nervous. He read
very fast, and so loud that Mary was moved to cover her ears with her
hands; and Eloquent saw her and sympathised.
Now here was a matter in which he could give young Ffolliot points
and a beating. He longed passionately to stand up at that brass bird
and read the Bible to the people of Redmarley; to one person in
particular. He knew exactly the pitch of voice necessary to fill a
building of that size.
He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly; he that
despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from the
holding of bribes. . . .
How curiously applicable certain of Isaiah's exhortations are to the
present day, thought Eloquent. . . . The knut had somewhat subdued
his voice, and even he could not spoil the music and the majesty of the
words, a place of broad rivers and streams wherein shall go no galley
with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. Two more verses,
and the first lesson was ended, and Grantly Ffolliot, flushed but
supremely thankful, made his way back to his seat.
Eloquent registered a vow.
The vicar himself read the second lesson, and the meditations of the
assembled worshippers were undisturbed.
The vicar always preached for exactly ten minutes. He took an
old-fashioned hour-glass up into the pulpit with him, and when it ran
out he concluded his discourse. Redmarley folk highly approved this
ritual. When stray parsons came to preach, especially if they were
dignitaries of the church, a body could never tell what they might be
at, and the suspense was wearing. Why, the Dean of Garchester had been
known to keep on for half an hour.
The Redmarley worshippers rarely slept. It wasn't worth while.
Instead, they kept a wary eye upon the hour-glass. They trusted to
their vicar's honour, and he rarely failed them. As the last grains of
sand ran out he turned to the east, and most people were back home and
sitting down to supper by eight o'clock.
Miss Gallup never hurried out of church. She thought it unseemly.
Therefore, it came to pass that Eloquent was still standing in his
place as Mary Ffolliot and her brother came down the aisle. Mary looked
him full in the face as she passed, and smiled frankly at him with
The knut had gone on ahead.
Eloquent gave no answering smile. For one thing, he had never for
one moment expected her to take the slightest notice of him, and the
fact that she had done so raised a perfect tumult of unexpected and
The hot blood rushed to his face, and there was a singing in his
ears. He turned right round and stared down the aisle at her retreating
form, and was only roused to a sense of mundane things by a violent
poke in the small of his back, and his aunt's voice buzzing in an
irritated whisper: Go on, my boy, do you want to stop here all night?
Mr Grantly read very nice, didn't he?
Miss Gallup remarked complacently, as they were walking home.
To tell you the truth, Aunt Susan, I thought he read very badly: he
bellowed so, and was absolutely wanting in expression.
Poor young gentleman, Miss Gallup said tolerantly. Last time he
read, back in summer it was, he did read so soft like, no one could
hear a word he said, and I know they all went on at him something
dreadful, so this time I suppose he thought as they should hear
Do you think, Eloquent asked diffidently, that Mr Molyneux would
like me to read the lessons some Sunday when I'm down here?
Miss Gallup stopped short.
Well, now, she exclaimed, to think of you suggestin' that, an' I
was just wonderin' at that very minute whether if I was to ask
youyou'd snap my head off, you being chapel and all.
Eloquent longed to say that he was not so wrapped up in chapel as
all that, but long habits of self-restraint stood him in good stead.
Where possible votes were concerned it did not do to speak the thought
of the moment, so he merely remarked indifferently that he'd be
pleased to be of any assistance.
Of course, Miss Gallup continued, as she walked on, there's no
knowing whether, with the election coming on and all, the vicar might
think it quite suitable, though he's generally glad to get any one to
read as will.
Surely, Eloquent said severely, he does not carry his political
views into his religious life, to the extent of boycotting those who do
not agree with him.
It's his church, Miss Gallup rejoined stoutly; no one can read in
it without 'tis his wish.
My dear aunt, you surely don't imagine that I want to read the
lessons at Redmarley except as a matter of kindness . . . assistance to
Mr Molyneux. What other reason can I have?
Well, said Miss Gallup, shrewdly, it might be that you wanted to
show how well you could do it . . . she paused.
Eloquent blushed in the darkness.
And with an election coming on, you never know what motives folks
has, she continued. But it's my belief Mr Molyneux'd be pleased as
Punch. He's all for friendliness, he is. I know who wouldn't be
Who is that? asked Eloquent, as his aunt had stopped, evidently
waiting to be questioned.
Why, Mr Ffolliot; he don't take much part in politics, but he
thinks Redmarley belongs to him, and he'd be mighty astonished if you
was to get up and read in the parish church, and him not been told
anything about it.
I shall certainly call on Mr Molyneux tomorrow, said Eloquent.
CHAPTER VI. THE SQUIRE
Hilary Ffolliot, squire of Redmarley in the county of Garsetshire,
did not appreciate the blessings heaped upon him by providence in the
shape of so numerous a family, and from their very earliest years
manifested a strong determination that no child of his should be spoilt
through any injudicious slackening of discipline.
His rules and regulations were as the sands of the sea for number,
and as they all tended in the same direction, namely, to the effacement
of his lively and ubiquitous offspring, it is hardly surprising that
such a large and healthy family found it difficult, not to say
impossible, to attain to his ideal of the whole duty of children. And
although a desire not to transgress his code regarding silence and
decorum in such parts of the house as were within ear-shot of his study
was strong in the children, knowing how swift and sure was the
retribution overtaking such offendersyet, however willing the spirit,
the flesh was weak, and succumbed to temptations to jump whole flights
of stairs, to slide down bannisters, arriving with a sounding thump at
the bottom, and occasionally to bang the schoolroom door in the faces
of the pursuing brethren.
Thus it was that strangers ringing the front-door bell at the Manor
House were, on being admitted, faced by large cards on the opposite
wall bearing such devices as, Be sure you shut the door quietly, Do
not speak loudly, Go round to the back if possible. And it is told
of one timid guest, that on reading the aforesaid directions (which, by
the way, were only supposed to apply to the children) he incontinently
fled before the astonished butler could stop him; and, as directed,
meekly rang the back-door bell, some five minutes afterwards.
Mr Ffolliot suffered from nerves. He was by temperament quite
unfitted to be either a country squire or the father of a large family.
Above all, was he singularly unable to bear with equanimity the strain
upon his income such a large family entailed. He liked his comforts
about him, he was by nature of a contemplative and aesthetically
studious turn, and saw no good reason why his learned leisure should
suffer interruption, or his delicate susceptibilities be ruffled by
such incongruities as the loud voices and inharmonious movements of a
set of thoughtless children.
The village was small and well-to-do, his duties as a landowner sat
lightly upon him, and he was very awe-inspiring, didactic, and distant
in his dealings with the surrounding neighbours. He had a fine taste in
old prints and old port, and every spring his health necessitated a
somewhat lengthened stay in an oasis which he had discovered, so he
said, in the south of France, where he communed with nature, and
manifested a nice appreciation of the artistic efforts of his host's
most excellent cook.
In fact, the matter of intercourse with outsiders was largely left
to the discretion of his wife; and whoever had much to do with Mrs
Ffolliot (and most people wanted as much as they could get) spent a
good deal of time in the society of the children. And to the
childrenwhat was she not to those children?
For them mother signified everything that was kind, and gay, and
gracious, and above all, understanding. Other people might be stupid,
and attaint with evil intention accidents, which while certainly
unfortunate in their results, were wholly unpremeditated, but mother
always gave the offender the benefit of the doubt, and not infrequently
by her charms of person and persuasive arts of conversation, so
effectually turned away the wrath of the injured one (generally a
farmer), that no hint of the escapade reached Mr Ffolliot's ears.
For the fact is that being somewhat tightly kept at home, the young
Ffolliots were more than something of a nuisance when they went abroad;
and as several of them generally were abroad, in their train did
mischief and destruction follow.
For three hundred years there had been Ffolliots at Redmarley; of
the last three owners two were married and childless, and the one
immediately preceding Mr Hilary Ffolliot was a bachelor. But the fact
that the Manor had not for over a hundred years descended from father
to son, in no way affected the love each reigning Ffolliot felt for it.
There was something about Redmarley that seized the imagination and
the affection of the dwellers there. The little grey stone village that
lay so lovingly along the banks of the Marle was so enduring, so
valorous in its sturdy indifference to time; in the way its gabled
cottages under their overhanging eaves faced summer sun and winter
rains, and instead of crumbling away seemed but to stand the firmer and
more dignified in their cheery eld.
The Ffolliots were good landlords. No leaking roofs or defective
walls were complained of at Redmarley. Never was Ffolliot yet who had
not realised the unique quality of the village, and done his best to
maintain it. It never grew, rarely was a house to let, and the jerry
builder was an unknown evil. It was a healthy village, too, set high in
the clean Cotswold air. Big farms surrounded it, the nearest railway
line was three miles off, and the nearest station almost seven.
Of course there was poverty and a good deal of rheumatism among the
older inhabitants, but on the whole the periodic outbursts of
industrial discontent and unrest that convulsed other parts of England
seemed to pass Redmarley by.
Had the Manor stood empty or the vicar been a poor man with a large
family, doubtless things would have been uncomfortable enough to stir
the villagers out of their habitual philosophic acceptance of the rich
man in his castle, the poor man at his gate as an inevitable and
immutable law. But they couldn't actively dislike either squire or
parson, and although the agricultural labourer is slow of speech he is
not lacking in shrewdness, and those at Redmarley realised that things
would be much worse than they were if Squire and Parson were suddenly
Hilary Ffolliot liked the rôle of landed proprietor in the abstract.
He would not have let the Manor and lived elsewhere for the world. He
went regularly to church on Sunday morning, though it bored him
extremely, because, like Major Pendennis, he thought that when a
gentleman is sur ses terres he must give an example to the
country people. Had he been starving he would not have sold a single
rood of Redmarley land to assuage his hunger. Similarly he would
himself have done without a great many things rather than let any of
his people go hungry. But it was only because they were his
people, part of the state and circumstance of Redmarley. He didn't care
for them a bit as individuals. Any intercourse with the peasantry was
irksome to him. Dialect afflicted him. He had nothing to say to them,
and they were stricken dumb in his awe-inspiring presence. He was well
content to have few personal dealings with those, who, in his own mind,
he thought of as his retainers. He left everything of that sort to
It was the same with the children. He looked upon them as a
concession to Marjory's liking for that sort of thing: and by that
sort of thing he meant his wife's enthusiastic interest in her
To be sure he was pleased that there should be no question as to a
direct heir . . . but . . . six of them was really rather a nuisance.
Children were like peasantry, inclined to be awkward and uncouth, crude
in thought and word and deed; apt to be sticky unless fresh from the
hands of nurse; in summer nearly always hot, frequently dirty, and
certainly always noisy, with, moreover, a distinct leaning towards low
company and a plainly manifest discomfort in his own.
He was proud of them because they were Ffolliots, and because they
were tall and straight and handsome (how wisely he had chosen their
mother!), and he supposed that some day, when they became more
civilised, he would be able to take some pleasure in their society.
Even the two eldest, Grantly and Mary, wearied him. He could never seem
to find any topic of mutual interest, except Redmarley itself, and then
they always introduced irrelevant matter relating to the inhabitants
that he had no desire to hear.
Had Marjory, his wife, grown plain and anxious during her twenty
years of married life, it is probable she would have bored him too. But
she kept her hold upon him because she was not only the most beautiful
woman he knew, but she satisfied his artistic sensibilities all round.
She was full of individuality and quick-witted decision. Long ago she
had made up her mind that it was quite impossible to alter him, but she
was equally assured as to her perfect right to differ from him in every
possible way. He quite fell in with this view of the situation; so long
as he was allowed unchallenged to be as stiff and stand-off and
unapproachable as he pleased, he was well content that she should be
extraordinarily sympathetic, gracious, and gay. It pleased him that the
retainers should adore her and come to her in their troubles and
difficulties; that she should be constantly surrounded by her children;
that she should be in great request at every social gathering in the
Did it happen that his need of her clashed with the children's, and
that just then she considered theirs was the stronger claim, he was
annoyed; but apart from that he approved of her devotion to them.
Somebody must look after the children; and it was not in his line.
So many things were not in his line.
One day, early in their married life, with unusual want of tact,
Marjory had asked him what his line was.
The question surprised and distressed him, it was so difficult to
answer. However, the retort courteous came easily to Mr Ffolliot, and
raising her hand to his lips, he replied, To provide a sufficiently
beautiful setting for you, my dear, that is my métier at
present. And Marjory, who had spent a long, hot morning in
superintending the removal of books, busts, and pictures to the room
that, for the future, was to be his study, the room that till then had
been her drawing-room, felt an unregenerate desire to slap him with the
hand he had just kissed.
Mr Ffolliot believed that he could best develop the ultimate highest
that was in him if his surroundings were entirely harmonious. Therefore
had he selected the sunniest, largest room on the entrance floor for
his own study. It had a lovely view of the river.
The oak wainscotting and shelves were removed there piece by piece
from the old library at the back, which faced north and had rather an
uninteresting outlook towards the woods. This rather gloomy chamber he
caused to be newly panelled with wood enamelled white, and presented it
to his wife for her own use with a God bless you, my darling, I hope
you may have many happy hours here.
Her drawing-room was the only room in Redmarley that Marjory
Ffolliot thoroughly disliked, and she never sat there if she could help
On that Sunday afternoon when Eloquent thought fit to visit his
aunt, Mr Ffolliot had left his writing-table and was standing in one of
the great windows that he might look out and, with the delicate
appreciation of the connoisseur, savour the crimson beauties of the
As he gazed he mentally applauded the pageant of colour provided for
his enjoyment, and then he perceived two figures standing not fifty
yards from his window.
One he recognised at once as his daughter, and for a moment he
included her in his beatitude at the prospect presented to his view.
Yes; Mary was undoubtedly pleasing to the eye, she was growing very
like his wife, and for that resemblance, like the Ancient Mariner, he
blessed her unaware.
But when he became fully cognisant of the other figure, his feeling
wholly changed. He screwed his eyeglass firmly into his eye and glared
at the couple.
Who on earth was this muddy, rather plebeian-looking person with
whom Mary was conversing on apparently friendly and familiar terms? He
suddenly realised with an irritated sense of rapidly approaching
complications that Mary was nearly grown up.
In another minute the young man was walking down the drive alone,
and his daughter had vanished.
He gave her time to take off her boots, then he sent for her.
He sat down at his writing-table and awaited her, feeling intensely
How dared that mud-bespattered young man speak to her?
How could Mary be so wanting in dignity as to reply?
What was Marjory about to allow it?
Those children had far too much latitude.
He was in that frame of mind which, during the middle ages, resulted
in the immurement of such disturbing daughters in the topmost turrets
of their fathers' castles.
Mary came in, shut the door softly, and waited just inside it to say
You sent for me, father?
Come here, said Mr Ffolliot.
Mary crossed the big room and stood at the other side of the
knee-hole table facing him.
I sent for you, Mr Ffolliot began slowly, and paused. Angry as he
was, he found a moment in which to feel satisfaction at her pure
colouring . . . to make enquiries he continued, as to your late
companion. Who is that exceedingly muddy person with whom you were
talking in the front drive a few minutes ago?
Yes; her colouring was certainly admirable. A good healthy blush
sweeping over the white forehead till it reached the pretty growth of
hair round the temples and dying away as rapidly as it had arisen, was
quite a forgivable weakness in a young girl.
I believe, said Mary cautiously, that he is Mr Gallup, the new
Did he tell you so?
No, father. He told me his name, but it was Grantly who thought he
was that one.
And may I ask what reason Mr Gallup had for imparting his name to
youdid no one introduce him?
Well, how did the man come to speak to you? Mr Ffolliot demanded,
irritably. You must see that the matter requires explanation.
He was lost, Mary said mournfully, and so I showed him the way.
Lost, Mr Ffolliot repeated scornfully; lost in Redmarley!
No, father, in the wood.
And what was he doing in our woods, pray?
He had tried to come by a short-cut and got muddled and he fell
down, and I couldn't pass by without speaking, could I . . . he might
have broken his leg or something.
What were you doing in the woods alone? I have told you repeatedly
that I will not have you scouring the country by yourself. You have
plenty of brothers, let one of them accompany you.
I wasn't exactly alone, Mary pleaded; Parker was with me.
Mary, Mr Ffolliot said solemnly, has it ever occurred to you that
you are very nearly eighteen years old?
Well, that being the case, don't you think that decorum in your
conduct, more dignity and formality in your manner are a concession you
owe to your family. You know as well as I do that a young girl in your
position does not converse haphazard with any stranger that she happens
to find prone in the woods. It's not done, Mary, and what is more, I
will not have it. This impertinent young counter-jumper probably was
only too ready to seize upon any excuse to address you. You should have
given him the information he asked and walked on.
But we were going the same way, Mary objected; it seemed so
snobby to walk on, besides . . . again that glorious blush, he didn't
speak to me first, I spoke to him.
Mr Ffolliot sighed. Remember, he said solemnly, that should you
see him again you do not know that young man. . . .
Silence on the part of Mary. Deep thought on the brow of Mr
To-morrow, he said at last, you may do up your hair.
Oh, father, mayn't I do it up to-night before church. I should love
to, do let me.
No, my child, to-morrow is more suitable.
Mary did not ask why. None of the children except the Kitten ever
questioned any of Mr Ffolliot's decisions . . . to him.
Have you done with me, father? Mary asked. I think it must be
Yes, Mary, you may go, but remember, nothing of this sort must ever
occur again; it has distressed and annoyed me.
I'm sorry, father, I didn't think . . .
You never do, said Mr Ffolliot, that is what I complain of.
Thus it came about that Mr Ffolliot was himself directly responsible
for the friendly smile which greeted Eloquent as Mary passed him in the
aisle of Redmarley church that evening.
She had not been allowed to put up her hair that evening. She was
not a grown-up lady yet.
Therefore would she grin at whomsoever she pleased.
CHAPTER VII. THE KITTEN
The Kitten was born on a Whitsunday morning about eight o'clock. Mr
Ffolliot went himself to announce the news to Ger, who was sitting in
his high chair eating bread and milk at nursery breakfast. Ger was all
alone with Thirza, the under-nurse, and he was thunderstruck to see his
father at such an unusual hour, above all, in such an unusual place as
Ger, said Mr Ffolliot, quite genially for him, you've got a new
Ger regarded his father solemnly with large, mournful eyes, then
said aggrievedly, Well, I can't help it.
Mr Ffolliot laughed. You don't seem overjoyed, he remarked.
Are you sorry, father? Ger asked anxiously.
Sorry, Mr Ffolliot repeated, of course not; why should you think
Well, you see, said Ger, it makes another of us.
Mr Ffolliot ignored this remark. He moved towards the door. At the
door he paused; You may, he said graciously, go and see your little
sister in an hour or two; mother said so.
As the door was closed behind him, Thirza sat down again with a sort
of gasp. Whatever did you mean, my dear, talking to Squire like that?
she demanded shrilly.
Like what? asked Ger.
Sayin' as it wasn't your fault, and seemin' so down about it all.
Why, you ought to be glad there's a dear little new baby, and you such
an affectionate child an' all.
It makes another of us, Ger persisted, and Thirza gave him up as
In due time he went to the dressing-room off the big spare bedroom,
and there sat the kind, comfortable lady he knew as mother's nurse
(Ger had not seen her as often as the others, but still she came from
time to time just to see how they were all getting on, and he liked
her). There she sat on a small rocking-chair with a bundle on her knee.
Come, my darling, and see your little sister, she cried
Ger advanced. She opened the head flannel and displayed a small,
dark head, and a red, puckered countenance.
When will she be able to see? asked Ger.
As if in answer the baby opened a pair of large dark eyes and stared
fixedly at the round, earnest face bent above her.
See, bless you! mother's nurse exclaimed, see! why, she isn't a
kitten. She can see right enough. Look how she's taking you in. She has
stared about from the minute she was born, as if she'd been here before
and was looking round to see that things were all the same. She's the
living image of Squire.
I think she's rather like a kitten, Ger persisted, but I'm glad
she can see. I think she likes me rather.
And that was how the Kitten got her name.
She was not a Grantly. She was all Ffolliot, and she was the only
one of the children absolutely fearless in the presence of her father.
Small and dark and delicately made, with quick-sighted
falcon-coloured eyes that nothing escaped. Unlike her big, healthy
brethren, she was never in the slightest degree shy or clumsy, and she
cared not a single groat for anyone or anything in the whole wide world
so long as she got her own way. And this, being a member of the
Ffolliot family, she did not get nearly as often as she would have
liked. But she understood her father as did none of the others, and she
could get round him in a fashion that filled those others with
She also considerably astonished Mr Ffolliot, for from the very
first she was familiar, and familiarity on the part of his children he
neither encouraged nor desired. Moreover, she was ubiquitous and
elusive. No army of nurses could restrain the Kitten in her
peregrinations. She could speak distinctly, run, and run fast, when she
was little over a year old, and she possessed a singularly enquiring
mind. She was demonstrative but not affectionate; she was enchanting,
and stony-hearted was the creature who could resist her. She liked an
audience, and she loved to tell things. To this end she would sit on
your knee and lay one small but determined hand upon your cheek to turn
your face towards her, so that she could make sure you were attending.
She kept the small hand there, soft and light, a fairy-like caress,
unless your attention wandered. If this happened, a sharp little pinch
quickly diverted your thoughts into the proper channel. As she pinched
you, the Kitten dropped her eyes so that you noticed how long and black
were her eyelashes. Then, having punished you, she raised her eyes to
yours with so seraphic an expression that you thought of large-eyed
cherubim and entirely forgot that she had pinched you at all, unless
next day as you looked in the glass you happened to notice a little
blue mark on your cheek. The Kitten could pinch hard.
She was Ger's greatest joy and his unceasing anxiety. From the very
first he had constituted himself her guide, philosopher . . . and
slave. Yet the dictatorial little lady found out very early in the day,
that in certain things she had to conform to her indulgent brother's
standards, the family standards; and though she might be all Ffolliot
in certain matters, the Grantly ethics were too strong for her. That
Ger should love her, that he should be always kind and protective and
unselfish she took as a matter of course; but she wanted him to admire
her too, and ready as he was to oblige her in most things, she found
that here he was strangely firm. If she told tales or complained of
people, or persisted in tiresome teasing when asked politely to desist,
Ger withdrew the light of his countenance, and the Kitten was
To tell tales, or complain, or try to get another into trouble for
any reason whatsoever was forbidden. The others had each in their turn
accepted this doctrine as they accepted day and night, the sun and moon
and stars. The Kitten had to be taught these things, and Ger it was who
saw to it that she learned them.
There was a law in the family that if any member of it, after
enduring for a space a certain line of conduct from another, said,
Please stop it, that person had to stop, or nemesis, by no means
leaden-footed, overtook the offender. It took quite a long time to get
it into the Kitten's head that it was a law.
She had an extraordinarily loud and piercing cry when she was
angrya cry that penetrated to the sacred study itself, no matter
where she might be in the house.
One day when she was about three years old she was so naughty, so
disobedient, so entirely unmanageable at nursery tea, that Nana, the
long-suffering, fairly lost her temper. The Kitten placed the final
stone on a pillar of wrongdoing by drawing patterns on the tablecloth
with a long line of golden syrup dropped from a blob she had secured on
her small finger, and Nana gave the chubby hand belonging to the finger
a good hard smack. The Kitten opened her mouth and gave vent to a yell
almost demoniacal in its volume and intensity.
Mr Ffolliot, reading the Quarterly Review in dignified
seclusion, heard it in his study, was convinced that his youngest child
was being tortured by the others, and hastened hot-foot to the nursery.
Ger had his fingers in his ears. Nana, flushed and angry, stirred
her tea pretending that she didn't hear; Thirza murmured pacific and
wholly useless nothings. At her father's sudden and wholly unexpected
appearance, accompanied as it was by the swift uprising of both the
nurses, the Kitten stopped her clamorous vociferation, and with bunches
of tears still hanging on her lashes smiled radiantly at the Squire,
announcing with a wave of her sticky little hand.
What, Mr Ffolliot demanded angrily, what in heaven's name has
been done to that child to make her shriek like that? What happened?
Miss Kitten, sir, Nana said slowly, has not been very good at tea
But what made her shriek like that? Mr Ffolliot continueda more
alarming cry I never heard.
She smacked me, said the Kitten, glowering at Nana, she 'urted
me; and at that moment she met Ger's eyes.
The Kitten turned very red.
Who smacked you? asked Mr Ffolliot unwisely.
Ger stared at the Kitten, and the Kitten wriggled in her chair.
Say what you did, muttered Ger, still holding his small
sister in compelling gaze.
Nana smiled. She had started with Grantly, and knew the family.
Fahver, said the Kitten in her most seductive tones, take me,
and she held out her arms.
Mr Ffolliot succumbed. He went round to his youngest daughter and
lifted her out of her high chair, only to put her down with exceeding
haste a moment later.
The child is all over some horrible sticky substance, he cried,
'At was it, said the Kitten.
Mr Ffolliot fled to wash his hands and change his coat. Nana and
Thirza sat down again. Ger shook his head at his small sister. You
are a rotter, he said, sadly.
The Kitten began to cry again, but this time she cried quite softly,
and Nana, in spite of the libations of golden syrup, took her upon her
knee to comfort her.
Every evening the children went down to the hall to play with their
mother, and when their grandparents were there things were more than
usually festive. Ganpie never seemed to mind how many children swarmed
over himin fact, he rather seemed to like it; and Grannie assuredly
knew more entrancing games than anyone else in the world.
One Christmas Eve, just after tea, the whole family, including Mr
Ffolliot, were gathered in the hall. Fusby had just taken the tray, the
General was sitting by the fire with Ger on his knee, the Kitten sat on
the opposite side of the hearth on her father's, while the rest of the
young people indulged in surreptitious ragging. Uz and Buz, by some
mischance, charged into a heavy oaken post crowned by a large palm,
with such force that they knocked it over, and the big flower-pot
missed their grandfather and Ger by a hair's breadth.
When the universal consternation had subsided, the scattered earth
been swept up, and the twins had been suitably reprimanded, the Kitten
scrambled down from her father's knee, and trotted across to her
grandmother, was duly taken up, and with small insistant hand turned
her Grannie's face towards her.
Which would you rather? she asked in her high clear voice, that
Ganpie had been killed or Ger?
Mrs Grantly shudderedBaby, don't suggest such dreadful things,
But which would you rather? the Kitten persisted. You're all
saying 'another inch and it would have killed one of zem'which one
would you rather?
But Mrs Grantly flatly refused to state her preference, and the
Kitten was clearly disappointed.
That night she added an additional clause to her prayers: Thank
you, God dear, for not letting the flower-pot kill Ganpie or Ger, and
I'm sure Grannie's very much obliged too.
At her prayers the Kitten always knelt bolt upright with her hands
tightly clasped under her chin, her nightgown draped in graceful folds
about hera most reverent and saintly little figure, except that she
had from the very first firmly refused to shut her eyes.
She was fond of adding a sort of P.S. to her regular prayers, and
enjoyed its effect upon her mother, who made a point of, herself,
attending the orisons of her two youngest children. One evening when
Mrs Ffolliot had been reading her a rather pathetic story of a
motherless child, the Kitten added this petition, Please, God, take
care of all the little girls wiv no mummies.
Mrs Ffolliot was touched and related the story afterwards to Uz and
Buz, who grinned sceptically.
Next night, when the Kitten had been very naughty, and Mrs Ffolliot
had punished her, she repeated her prayers with the greatest unction,
and when she reached the usual postscript, fixed her eyes sternly on
her mother's face as she prayed fervently, And please, dear God, take
great care of the poor little girls what have got mummies.
A mystically minded friend of Mrs Ffolliot's had talked a good deal
of guardian angels to Ger and the Kitten. Ger welcomed the belief with
enthusiasm. It appealed at once to his friendly nature, and the thought
of an angel, a dear and great angel, all for himself, specially
concerned about him, and there always, though invisible save to the eye
of faith, was a most pleasing conception.
Not that it would have pleased Ger unless he had been assured that
everyone else had one too. And he forthwith constructed a theory that
when people got tired of doing nothing in heaven they came back again
and looked after folks down here.
His views of the angel's actual attributes would much have
astonished his mother's friend had he expressed them. But Ger said
nothing, and quietly constructed an angel after his own heart, who was
in point of fact an angelic sort of soldier servant, never in the way,
but always there and helpful if wanted.
He could not conceive of any servant who was not also a friend, and
having received much kindness from soldiers in the ranks he fixed upon
that type as the most agreeable for a guardian angel. And although he
greatly admired the two framed pictures of angels the lady had given
them to hang in the nurseryGuercino's Angel and Carpaccio's Tobias
and the angelshis own particular angel was quite differently clad,
and was called Spinks after a horse gunner he had dearly loved, who
was now in India.
The Kitten, far less impressionable, and extremely cautious, was
pleased with the idea when it was first mooted, and discussed the
question exhaustively with Ger, deciding that her angel had large wings
like the one with the child in the picture.
Does it stay with me in the night-nursery all night? she enquired.
'He,' not 'it,' Ger corrected; but perhaps yours is a 'she.'
I won't have a she, the Kitten said decidedly, for even at four
years old she had already learnt that her own sex had small patience
with her vagaries.
You'll have to have what's sent you, Ger said solemnly.
I won't have a lady angel, so there, said the Kitten, I'll have a
I daresay they'll let you, Ger said soothingly. A great, big,
kind man with wings like you said.
Has yours got wings? the Kitten demanded.
I don't think so, said Ger, he's not that sort; but, he added
proudly, he's got spurs.
Will it stay in the nursery all night? the Kitten asked
again rather nervously.
Of course that's what he's for, to take care of you, so that you'll
feel quite safe and happy.
Oh, said the Kitten, and her voice betrayed the fact that she
found this statement far from reassuring.
She said nothing to her mother, and Mrs Ffolliot heard her say her
prayers as usual, kissed her, blessed her, and tucked her in. No
sooner, however, had Mrs Ffolliot gone down the passage than the most
vigorous yells brought her back to the night-nursery, while both Nana
and Thirza hastened there also.
The Kitten was sitting up in bed, wide-eyed and apparently more
indignant than frightened.
Take it away, she exclaimed; open the window and let it out.
Let what out? asked the bewildered Mrs Ffolliot.
The angel, sobbed the Kitten, I don't want it, I heard its wings
rustling and it disturbed me dreffullyI don't want it, open the
The window is open at the top, said Mrs Ffolliot; but why do you
want to get rid of an angel? Surely that's a lovely thing to have in
No, said the Kitten firmly, I don't like it, and I don't want it.
I don't want no angel I haven't seen. I don't like people in my room
when I go to sleep.
Nana and Thirza had melted away, only too thankful not to be called
upon to arbitrate in the angel question. Mrs Ffolliot and her small
daughter stared at each other in the flickering firelight.
I'm sure, said Mrs Ffolliot, trying hard to steady her voice,
that no self-respecting angel would stay for a minute with a little
girl that didn't want him. You may be certain of that.
A she might, the Kitten suggested suspiciously.
No angel would, Mrs Ffolliot said decidedly.
Do you think, the Kitten asked anxiously, that there's enough
room at the top for it to squeege froo? I can't bear those wings
Mrs Ffolliot switched on the light. You can see for yourself.
Thank you, mummy dear, I'll be much happier by myself, really, and
the Kitten lay down quite contentedly.
CHAPTER VIII. GENTLEMAN GER
It was the 22nd of December, the younger Ffolliots were gathered in
the schoolroom, and Ger was in disgrace.
The twins were back from school, and that afternoon they had unbent
sufficiently to take part in a representation of Sherlock Holmes in
the hall. The whole family, with the exception of the Kitten, had seen
the play in the Artillery Theatre at Woolwich during their last visit
It is a play that not only admits of, but necessitates, varied and
Everything ought to have gone without a hitch, for earlier in the
afternoon Mr Ffolliot had departed in the carriage to take the chair at
a lecture in Marlehouse; and a little later Grantly had driven his
mother to the station in the dogcart to meet a guest.
Unfortunately the lecture on Carpaccio at the Literary Institute was
of unusually short duration, and Mr Ffolliot returned tired and rather
cross, just as Ger was enacting the hansom cab accident at the foot of
the staircase, by beating a deafening tattoo on the Kitten's bath with
The twins and the Kitten (who had proved a wrapt and appreciative
audience) melted away with Boojum-like stealth the moment the hall door
was opened; but Ger, absorbed in the entrancing din he was making,
noticed nothing, and his father had to shake him by the shoulders
before he would stop.
I suppose, Ger remarked thoughtfully, that we must look upon
father as a cross.
He certainly is jolly cross, Uz murmured. He should hear
the row we kick up at school when we've won a match, and nobody says a
But I mean, Ger persisted, wriggling about on his seat as though
the problem tormented him, that if father were as nice as mother we'd
be too happy, and it wouldn't be good for us; like the people in Fairy
stories, you know, when they're too well off, misfortunes come.
I don't think, Buz said dryly, that we have any cause to dread
misfortunes on that score. But cheer up, Ger, it'll soon be time for
the pater to go abroad, and then nobody will get jawed for six long
I shouldn't mind the jawings so much or the punishments, said Ger,
after a minute's pause, if it wasn't for mother. She minds so, she
never seems to get used to it. I'm glad she was out this
afternoonthough we did want her to see the playbut whatever will
she say when I can't go down to meet Reggie with the rest of you? And
what'll he think?
Ger's voice broke. Punishment had followed hard on the heels of the
crime, and banishment to the schoolroom for the rest of the evening was
Ger's lot. Had Mr Ffolliot belonged to a previous generation he would
probably, when angry, have whacked his sons and whacked them hard. They
would infinitely have preferred it. But his fastidious taste revolted
from the idea of corporal punishment, and his ingenuity in devising
peculiarly disagreeable penalties in expiation of their various
offences, was the cause of much tribulation to his indignant offspring.
Here is mother! cried Buz, and she's got Reggie. Come down
and see him you others, but for heaven's sake, come quietly.
The Reggie in question was a young Sapper just then stationed at
Chatham, and a very favourite cousin.
The Ffolliot children were in the somewhat unusual position of
having no uncles and aunts, and no cousins of their own, for the sad
reason that both their parents were onlies. Therefore did they right
this omission on the part of providence in their own fashion, by
adopting as uncles, aunts, and cousins all pleasant guests.
Reggie wasn't even a second cousin; but his people being mostly in
India, he had for many years spent nearly all his holidays, and later
on his leave, at Redmarley, and he was very popular with the whole
family. Even Mr Ffolliot unbent to a dignified urbanity in his
presence. He approved of Reggie, who had passed seventh into Woolwich
and first into the Sappers, and Grantly always thanked his lucky stars
that he was destined for Field Artillery, and was not expected to
follow in Reggie's footsteps in the matter of marks.
Ger worshipped Reggie, and it was with a heart full of bitterness,
and eyes charged with hot tears that blurred the firelight into long
bands of crimson, that he leant against the schoolroom table, alone,
while the others all trooped off on tiptoe into the hall to give
rapturous though whispered greeting to their guest.
Reggie did not whisper though; the warning cards had no sort of
effect upon him, and the forlorn little figure drooping against the
table sprang erect and shook the big drops from his cheeks as he heard
his cousin's jolly voice Where's my friend Ger?a murmured
explanationthen, O bad luck! I'll go to himNo don't come
with menot for two minutes.
How Ger blessed him for that forethought! To be found in disgrace
was bad enough; but to be seen in tears, and by his whole family! . . .
Hastily scraping his cheeks with a corner of his dilapidated Norfolk
jacketif you have ever tried to do this you'll know that it is more
or less of a test of supplenesshe went slowly to the door, and in
another minute was lifted high into the air and shaken violently by a
slight, rather plain young man, who bore with the utmost meekness a
passionate embrace highly detrimental to his immaculate collar: and the
best of it all was, that he was quite unconscious of the fact that Ger
had not met him with the others, nor seemed aware of anything unusual
beyond the pleasantness of once more sitting in the big slippery
leather-covered arm-chair beside the schoolroom fire, while the rest of
the family, having given him exactly the two minutes' start he had
demanded, came flocking back to sit all over him and shout their news
in an excited chorus.
Next morning, while his father was out in the village, Ger ensconced
himself in one of the deep-seated windows of the study, as a quiet
haven wherein he might wrestle in solitude with the perfect and
pluperfect of the verb esse, which he had promised his mother he
would repeat to her that morning.
Their governess had gone home for the holidays, but Ger was so
backward that his father insisted that he must do a short lesson (with
Mrs Ffolliot) every morning. Ger could not read. It was extraordinary
how difficult he found it, and how dull it appeared to him, this art
that seemed to come by nature to other people; which, once mastered,
appeared capable of giving so much pleasure.
It puzzled Ger extremely.
Mrs Ffolliot had, herself, instructed all her sons in the rudiments
of the Latin Grammar, and very well and thoroughly she did it, but so
pleasantly, that in their minds the declensions and the conjugations
were ever vaguely associated with the scent of violets. The reason for
this being, that the instructed one invariably squeezed as close as
possible to his teacher, and as there were violets at Redmarley nearly
all the year round, Mrs Ffolliot always wore a bunch tucked into her
It was characteristic of the trust the squire had in his wife's
training that he had not the slightest objection to the children using
the library when he, himself, was not there to be disturbed, being
quite certain that as they had promised her not to touch his writing
table, the promise would be faithfully kept. Besides, like all true
book-lovers, he was generous in the matter of his books, and provided
the children treated them with due care and respect, had no objection
to their taking them out of the shelves and reading them.
For a long time there was no sound in the room but an occasional
whispered, fui, fuisti, fuit. Presently Grantly and Mary came
in to discuss a fancy-dress dance to which they were bidden that
evening at a neighbour's; then, in rushed Reggie in coat and hat with a
newly arrived parcel in his hand. Ger had seen the railway van come up
the drive, but as he had promised his mother not to move until he had
mastered his verb, he did not make his presence known to anyone.
Reggie went over to Mr Ffolliot's desk, and seeing a shilling lying
on the table seized it and fled from the room. Three minutes later Ger
saw him bowling down the drive in the dog-cart, then Mr Ffolliot
returned, and Ger, feeling tolerably certain of the perfect and
pluperfect and future perfect, went slowly upstairs to his mother to
All went on peacefully and quietly in the schoolroom for the next
half hour, when suddenly Grantly and Mary whirled into the room in a
state of such excited indignation as took their mother quite five
minutes to discover what all the fuss was about. When at last they had
been induced to tell their story separately, and not in a chorus almost
oratorio-like in its confusion, Mrs Ffolliot discovered to her dismay
that they were accused of meddling with a shilling which their father
had placed on the book-club collecting card, ready for the collector
when she should call.
When she did call the shilling was gone, and as Grantly and
Mary were known to have been in the study, the squire came to the
conclusion that one of them must have knocked against his table and
brushed it off, and he gave it out that unless they found it, and thus
repaired the mischief and annoyance their carelessness had caused, he
would not allow them to go to the dance that evening!
He never suspected that any member of his family would take the
shilling, but he was ready to believe all things of their clumsiness.
In vain did Grantly and Mary protest that they had never been near his
desk; the squire might have been Sherlock Holmes himself, so certain
was he as to the exactitude of his deductions.
The card has been pushed from where it was originally placed to the
extreme edge of the table; the shilling must have been knocked off, and
had doubtless rolled under some article of furniture; let them see to
it that it was found; they might hunt there and then if they liked, as
he would not require the room for half an hour.
The consciousness of their innocence in no way sustained Grantly and
Mary under the appalling prospect of losing the party. They had of
course hunted frantically everywhere, but naturally had found no trace
of the shilling.
Ger sat quite still during the recital of their wrong's, his face
growing paler and paler, and his honest grey eyes wider and wider in
the horror of his knowledge. For he knew who had taken the shilling,
and he knew also that it was his plain duty to right his innocent
brother and sister. But at what a cost! He could not tell of Reggie,
and yet it was so unlike Reggie for it was . . . even to himself Ger
hardly liked to confess what it wasand he had gone off in such a
hurry! To Ger, a shilling seemed a very large sum, his own greatest
wealth, amassed after many weeks of hoarding, had once reached five
pence halfpenny, nearly all in farthings; and he even found himself
conjecturing the sort of monetary difficulty into which Reggie had
fallen, and from which a shilling might extricate him. He knew there
were such things as debts, and that the army was very expensive,
for he had heard his grandfather say so. Like many extremely upright
people Ger was gentle in his judgments of others. Himself of the most
crystalline honesty, he could yet conceive of circumstances wherein a
like probity might be hard for somebody else: at all costs poor Reggie
must be screened, but it was equally clear to him that his brother and
sister must not lose the pleasure long looked-forward-to as the opening
joy of the holidays.
Now there was about Ger a certain loyalty and considerateness in his
dealings with others, that had earned for him the sobriquet of
Gentleman Ger. He was very proud of the title, and his mother, whom
he adored, had done all in her power to foster the feeling of
noblesse oblige; so Ger felt that here and now a circumstance had
arisen which would try what stuff he was made of. The excited talk
raged round him like a storm, but after the first he heard none of it.
He slipped quietly off his chair, and unnoticed by the group round his
mother, left the room and crept down the back staircase. All doubt and
questioning was at an end. His duty seemed quite clear to him: he would
take the blame of that shilling, Mary and Grantly would go to their
party, and Reggie . . . Reggie would not be back till quite late, when
he, too, was going to the fancy-dress dance. Reggie need never know
anything about it.
By this time he had reached the study door, and stood with his hand
upon the handle. And as he waited, screwing his courage to the sticking
point, there came into his mind the words of a psalm that he had
learned by heart only last Sunday to repeat to his mother. He learned
it more easily than usual because he liked it; when she read it to him
he found he could remember it, and now, just as a dark room is
transiently illumined by the falling together of the fire in sudden
flame, there came into Ger's mind the words, He that sweareth to his
own hurt and changeth not. He turned the handle and went in.
The squire was sitting in his big armchair in front of the fire
reading Marius the Epicurean, and trying to compose his nerves,
which still vibrated unpleasantly after all the fuss about the
shilling. He had even quoted to himself somewhat testily something
about fugitive things not good to treasure; but whether he referred
to the nimbly disappearing shilling, or to the protestations of Grantly
and Mary, was not clear. He generally solaced himself with Pater when
perturbed, and he had nearly persuaded himself that he was once more
nearly attuned to perfect tone, fresh and serenely disposed of the
Roman Gentleman, when Ger opened the door, and walked over towards him
without shutting itan unpardonable offence at any time.
Gervais, exclaimed the squire, and his tone was the reverse of
serene, Why are you not in the schoolroom? What on earth do you want?
Ger went back and shut the door carefully and quietly, and once more
crossed the room till he stood directly in front of his father. The
squire noted with a little pang of compunction how pale the child was.
What is it? he said more gently.
Father, I've come about that shilling. I took it.
You took it, exclaimed the squire in amazement. Why?
Here was a poser. Ger was so absolutely unused to lying that he was
quite unprepared for any such question as this, so he was silent.
Why did you take it? angrily reiterated his father. And what have
you done with it? Answer at once. You know perfectly well that it is a
most shocking breach of good manners to ignore a question in this
I took it, repeated Ger stupidly, his large grey eyes looking into
space beyond his father.
So I hear, said the squire, growing more and more annoyed. But
why did you take it? and where have you put it?
I can't tell you, father, said Ger firmly, and this time he met
his father's eyes unflinchingly. To himself he said, I won't tell
more'n one lie for mother's sake.
The squire was dumfoundered by this obstinacy. It was unheard
ofabsolutely without parallel in his domestic annalsthat one of his
children should actually flout him! yes! actually flout him with such
an answer as this.
Go and stand over there in that corner, he thundered, and you
shan't move until you can answer my questions, if you stand there for
the rest of the day. If you children have nothing else, I am determined
that you shall have good manners.
* * * * * *
It was nearly five o'clock, and Ger still stood in the same corner
of the study watching the last streak of red fade from the chill
January sky. There was no sound in the room save only the soft plop
of a cinder as it fell on to the tiled hearth. The fire had burned low,
and he was very cold. Never in all his life had he gone without his
dinner before, and although he was no longer hungry, everything seemed,
as he said afterwards, funny and misty.
The squire had fulfilled his threat. After sending the culprit away
to wash his tear-stained face and hands, and to procure a clean
handkerchief, he bade him return to stand in the same corner till he
should arrive at a proper sense of the respect due to a parent. He had
locked the door upon Ger when he went to lunch, and forbade any member
of the family, including his wife, to hold any sort of communication
with the culprit. Parker the fox-terrier, however, did not obey the
squire, and remained in the study with Ger regardless of the fact that
the servants' dinner bell had rung, which was also the signal for his
own. And to Parker Ger confided the whole story, and very puzzled and
unhappy it made him, for he ran between Ger and the door snuffing and
whining till the squire came back and turned him out, when he remained
upon the mat outside uneasily barking at intervals.
Mrs Ffolliot was almost beside herself with grief and consternation.
It was such an inexplicable piece of obstinacy on Ger's part, and he
was not usually obstinate.
Grantly and Mary, while relieved that they would still have the
opportunity of wearing the dresses which had been the object of so much
thought, were really concerned about Ger; it seemed so senseless of
him, why couldn't he say why he wanted the beastly shilling and have
done with it?
The squire himself was very seriously disturbed. He had stormed and
raged, he had argued, he had even spoken very kindly and eloquently on
the subject of dishonesty, and the necessity there was for full
confession before forgiveness could be obtained (this last appeal
sorely trying Ger's fortitude), but all to no avail. As the needle
points ever to the north, so all the squire's exhortations ended with
the same question, to be met with the same answer, growing fainter in
tone as the hours wore on, but no less firm in substance. I can't tell
Mr Ffolliot could no longer bear the little white-faced figure
standing so silently in the corner of the room. He went forth and
walked about the garden. He really was a much tried man just then. Only
last night Buz, lying in wait for Reggie as he came to bed, had
concealed himself in an angle of the staircase, and when his cousin, as
he thought, reached his hiding-place, pounced out upon him, blowing out
his lighted candle, and exclaiming in a sepulchral voice, Out, out,
damned candle! (Buz was doing Macbeth at school and had a
genius for inept, and generally inaccurate quotation)then flew up the
dark staircase two steps at a time fully expecting hot pursuit, but
none came. Dead silence, followed by explosive bursts of smothered
laughter from Reggie and Grantly who had followed the squire upstairs.
It did not comfort Mr Ffolliot at the present moment to reflect that
Buz had had to write out the whole scene in which the germ, as his
father called it, of his misquotation occurred. At present his mind was
full of Ger, and ever and anon like the refrain of a song, there thrust
into his thoughts a sentence he had been reading when the little boy
had interrupted him that morning, and towards such a full and complete
life, a life of various yet select sensation, the most direct and
effective auxiliary must be, in a word, insight. Could it be
possible? he asked himself, that he was in some way lacking in this
He turned somewhat hastily and went back into the house. Once more
Ger heard the key turn in the lock, and his father came in, followed by
Fusby, bearing tea upon a tray.
The front door banged, and Ger's heart positively hammered against
his ribs, for no one but Reggie ever dared to bang the Manor House
front door. In another minute he had come in, and was standing on the
hearth-rug beside Mr Ffolliot, bringing with him a savour of frosty
freshness into the warm, still room.
I got through sooner than I expected, said Reggie, in his big
cheery voice, and caught the two twenty-five, so I walked out. I've
been to the stables to tell Heaven he needn't drive in for me after
all. O tea! That's good,where's Aunt Marjory? By the way, uncle, I
owe you a shilling. A parcel came for me just as I was starting, and
there was a shilling to pay on it. I had no change and was in a tearing
hurry, so I took one I saw lying on your deskhope it was all right.
There was a little soft thud in the far corner of the room, as Ger
fell forward on his face, worn out by his long watch, and the rapture
of this immense relief.
When things grew clear again the room was full of light and he was
lying in his mother's arms. Reggie was kneeling beside him trying to
force something in a spoon between his lips, something that smelt, so
Ger said, like a shop in Woolwich and tasted very queer and hot.
Lap it up, old chap, whispered Reggie, and Ger wondered why he
seemed to have lost his voice. There now, that's all right. You'll be
as fit as possible directly, and Reggie scrambled up from his knees
and bolted from the room.
Ger sat up and looked at his father who was standing beside him. The
lamp shone full on the squire's face, and he, too, like Reggie, seemed
to have got a cold in his eyes; but in spite of this peculiarity, there
was that in their expression which told Ger that everything was all
right again, and that in this instance absolution without confession
had been fully and freely granted.
So Ger, from the safe shelter of his mother's arms, explained, I
couldn't tell more'n one lie because of mother, you know, and I thought
he wanted it for debts or something. Is those sangwidges anchovy or
jam, do you think?
CHAPTER IX. THE DANCE
Reggie Peel was not quite sure whether he liked Mary with her hair
up or not. The putting up of the hair necessitated a readjustment of
his whole conception of her, and . . . he was very conservative.
With Mary the tom-boy child, with Mary the long-legged flapper and
good chum, he was affectionately at his ease. He had petted and
tormented her by turns, ever since as a boy of ten he had first seen
her, a baby a year old, in his Aunt Marjory's arms. Throughout her
turbulent but very cheerful childhood he had been her firm, if
patronising, friend. Then as she developed into what Ger had described
to Eloquent as a bit of a gawk, he became more than ever her friend
and champion. Uncle Hilary was so beastly down on Mary; and Mary,
though she did knock things over and say quite extraordinarily stupid
things on occasion, was such a good old sort.
He had never considered the question of her appearance till this
Christmas. He supposed she was good-lookingall the Ffolliots were
good-lookingbut it really didn't matter much one way or another. She
was part of Redmarley, and Redmarley as a whole counted for a good deal
in Reginald Peel's life. He, too, had fallen under its mysterious
charm. The manor-house mothered him, and the little Cotswold village
cradled him in kindly keeping arms. His own mother had died when he was
seven, his father married again a couple of years later; but, as Mr
Peel was in the Indian Forest Department, and Reggie's young stepmother
a faithful and devoted wife, he saw little of either of them, except on
their somewhat infrequent leaves when they paid so many visits and had
to see so many people, that he never really got to know either them or
his half-brother and sister.
The love of Redmarley had grown with his growth till it became part
of him; so far he had looked upon Mary as merely one of the many
pleasant circumstances that went to the making of Redmarley. Now,
somehow, she seemed to have detached herself from the general design
and to have taken the centre of the picture. He was not sure that he
approved of such prominence.
She startled him that first evening when, with the others, she met
him in the hall. She was unexpected, she was different, and he hated
that anything at Redmarley should be different.
Mary's grown up since yesterday, Uz remarked ironically, she's
like you when you first managed to pull your moustache.
Of course Reggie suitably chastised Uz for his cheek, but all the
same there was a difference.
To be sure she still wore her skirts well above her ankles, but
nowadays quite elderly ladies wore short skirts, so that in no way
accentuated her youth; and after all was she so very young?
Mary would be eighteen on Valentine's day.
Arrayed in Elizabethan doublet and hose for Lady Campion's dance,
Reggie stood before his looking-glass and grinned at himself
Ugly devil, he called himself, and then wondered how Mary would
look as Phyllida the ideal milkmaid.
Ugly he might be, but his type was not unsuited to the period he had
chosen. A smallish head, wide across the brows, well-shaped and poised,
with straight, smooth hair that grew far back on the temples and would
recede even further as the years went on; humorous bright grey eyes,
not large, but set wide apart under slightly marked eyebrows; a
pugnacious, rather sharply-pointed nose with a ripple in it. Reggie
declared that his nose had really meant well, but changed its mind half
way down. His mouth under the fair moustache was not in the least
beautiful, but it was trustworthy, neither weak nor sensual, and the
chin was square and dogged. His face looked long with the pointed beard
he had stuck on with such care, and above the wide white ruff, might
well have belonged to some gentleman adventurer who followed the
fortunes of Raleigh or Drake. For in spite of its insignificant
irregularity of feature there was alert resolve in its expression; a
curious light-hearted fixity of purpose that was arresting.
Reggie had never been popular or distinguished at Wellington; yet
those masters who knew most about boys always prophecied that he would
make his mark.
It was the same at the Shop; although he never rose above a
corporal, there were those among the instructors who foretold great
things of his future. His pass-out place was a surprise to everyone,
himself most of all. He was reserved and did not make friends easily;
he got on quite pleasantly with such men as he was thrown with; but he
was not a persona grata in his profession. He got through such a
thundering lot of work with such apparent ease.
A decent chap, but a terrible beggar to swat, was the general
verdict upon Reginald Peel.
To Mrs Ffolliot and the children he showed a side of his character
that was rigidly concealed from outsiders, the truth being that as a
little boy he had been very hungry for affection. The Redmarley folk
loved him, and his very sincere affection for them was leavened by such
passionate gratitude as they never dreamed of.
His face grew very gentle as he gazed unseeingly into the glass. He
was thinking of loyal little Ger.
The clock on the mantelpiece struck the quarter. He blew out the
candles on his dressing-table and fled.
Few gongs or dinner bells were sounded at the Manor House. Mr
Ffolliot disliked loud noises. As he ran down the wide shallow
staircase into the hall he saw that Mary was standing in the very
centre of it, while her father slowly revolved round her in
appreciative criticism, quoting the while:
The ladies of St James's!
They're painted to the eyes;
Their white it stays for ever,
Their red it never dies;
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!
Her colour comes and goes;
It trembles to a lily,
It warms to a rose
This was strictly true, for Mary flushed and paled under her
father's gaze, standing there tall and slender in russet gown and white
bodice, a milking stool under her arm. She wore buckled shoon and a
white sunbonnet, and was as fair a maid as a man could see between
She was surprised that her father should express his approval thus
graciously, but she was not uplifted. It was Mr Ffolliot's way. He had
been detestable all day, and now he was going to be charming. His
compliments counted for little with Mary. Yesterday he had told her she
moved like a Flanders mare, and hurt her feelings very much. Her dress
was made in the house and cost about half the price of her shoes and
stockings, but Mary was not greatly concerned about her dress. She
wanted to go to the dance, to dance all night and see other people.
Mrs Ffolliot, looking tired and pale, was sitting with Ger on an oak
settle by the hearth. Ger had been allowed to stay up till dinner time
to see his family dressed. The twins were sitting on the floor in front
of the fire. Reggie paused on the staircase four steps up, and behind
him came Grantly in smock frock (borrowed from the oldest labourer in
Redmarley) and neat gaiters as the typical Georgian farmer's boy to
match Mary's milk-maid.
Aren't you coming, Aunt Marjory? Reggie asked. I thought you were
to appear as one of the Ladies of St James's as a foil for Mary.
Mrs Ffolliot shook her head. I did think of it, but I've got a bad
headache. Mary doesn't really need me as a chaperon, it's only a boy
and girl dance; besides, you and Grantly can look after her.
Mr Ffolliot went and sat down on the settle beside his wife. You're
much better at home, he said tenderly, you'd only get tired out
sitting up so late.
Grantly and Mary exchanged glances. They knew well enough that Mrs
Ffolliot had decided at the last moment that she had better stay at
home to look after the twins, who were certain, if left to their own
devices, to get into mischief during her absence.
That rumpus with Ger upset her awfully, Mary whispered to Reggie
as they went into dinner, and she won't risk anything fresh. It is a
shame, for she'd have loved it, and she always looks so ripping.
The three young people left directly after dinner. Grantly stopped
the carriage at an old Ephraim Teakle's cottage in the village, and
they all went in to let him have a look at them, for it was his smock,
a marvel of elaborate stitching, that Grantly was wearing.
Ephraim was eighty-seven years old and usually went to bed very
early, but to-night he sat up a full hour to see them childer, as he
called the Ffolliots. He was very deaf, but had the excellent sight of
a generation that had never learned to read. He stood up as the young
people came in, and joined in the chorus of laws, of did you evers,
indulged in by his granddaughter and her family.
'Er wouldn' go far seekin' sarvice at mop, not Miss Mary wouldn't,
he said; an' as for you, Master Grantly, you be the very moral of me
when I did work for Farmer Gayner over to Winson. Maids did look just
like that when I wer a young chappretty as pins, they was.
But Mrs Rouse, his granddaughter, thought Mr Peel did look far an'
away the best, something out o' the common 'e were, like what a body
sees in the theatre over to Marlehouse . . . but there, I suppose 'tis
dressin' up for the likes o' Master Grantly, an' I must say
laundry-maid, she done up grandfather's smock something beautiful.
Abinghall, Sir George Campion's place, was just outside Marlehouse
town. The house, large and square and comfortable, was built by the
first baronet early in the nineteenth century. The Campions always did
things well, and the boy and girl dance had grown very considerably
since its first inception. Indeed, had Mrs Ffolliot realised what
proportions it had assumed since she received the friendly informal
invitation some five weeks before, she would have risked the
recklessness of the twins, and made a point of chaperoning Mary
For the last three generations the Campions had been strong
Liberals, therefore it was quite natural that with an election due in a
fortnight there should be bidden to the dance many who were not
included in Lady Campion's rather exclusive visiting list.
It is extraordinary how levelling an election is, especially at
Christmas time, when peace and goodwill are acknowledged to be the
prevailing and suitable sentiments.
Even the large drawing-room at Abinghall wouldn't hold the dancers,
so a floor and a huge tent had been imported from London, and joined to
the house by a covered way. A famous Viennese band played on a stage at
one end, and around the sides were raised red baize seats for those who
wanted to watch the dancing. Lady Campion received her guests at the
door of the large drawing-room; she caught Mary by the arm and held her
to whisper rapidly, I don't know half the people, Mary, do help me,
and if you see anyone looking neglected, say a kind word, and get
partners, like a dear. I depended on your mother, and now she has
Naturally the Liberal candidate was bidden to the dance, and
Eloquent arrayed in the likeness of one of Cromwell's soldiers, a dress
he had worn in a pageant last summer, was standing exactly opposite the
entrance to the tent, when at the second dance on the programme
Phyllida and the Farmer's Boy came in, and with the greatest good-will
in the world proceeded to Boston with all the latest and dreadful
variations of that singularly unbeautiful dance. Grantly had imported
the very newest thing from Woolwich, Mary was an apt pupil, and the two
of them made a point always of dancing the first dance together
wherever they were. They were singularly well-matched, and tonight
their height, their quaint dress, their remarkable good looks and
their, to Marlehouse eyes, extraordinary evolutions, made them
Eloquent, stiff, solemn, and uncomfortable in his wide-leaved hat
and flapping collar, watched the smock-frock and russet gown as they
bobbed and glided, and twirled and crouched in the mazes of that
mysterious dance, and the moment they stopped, shouldered his way
through the usual throng of pierrots, flower-girls, Juliets, Carmens,
Sikhs, and Chinamen to Lady Campion, who was standing in the entrance
quite near the milk-maid who was already surrounded by would-be
Lady Campion, will you present me to Miss Ffolliot, Eloquent asked
in a stand-and-deliver sort of voice, the result of the tremendous
effort it had been to approach her at all.
She looked rather surprised, but long apprenticeship to politics had
taught her that you must bear all things for the sake of your party, so
she smiled graciously on the stiff, rosy-faced Cromwellian, and duly
made the presentation.
May I, Eloquent asked, with quite awful solemnity, have the
pleasure of a dance?
I've got twelve or fourteen and an extra, but I can't promise to
dance any one of them if other people are sitting out, because I've
promised Lady Campion to help see to people. I'll give you one if
you'll promise to dance it with someone elseif necessary
Eloquent looked blue. Isn't that rather hard? he asked meekly.
Everyone's in the same box, Mary said shortly, and you, of all
people, ought simply to dance till your feet drop off. Let me see your
cardWhat? no dances at all down? Oh, that's absurdcome with me.
And before poor Eloquent could protest he found himself being whisked
from one young lady to another, and his card was full all except
twelve, fourteen, and the second extrawhich he rigidly reserved.
There, said Mary, smiling upon him graciously, that's well over.
I've been most careful; you are dancing with just about an equal number
of Liberal and Tory young ladies, and you ought to take at least five
mamas into supper; don't forget; look pleased and eager, and be careful
what you say to the pretty girl in pink, she's a niece of our present
Here a partner claimed Mary, and Eloquent, feeling much as the White
King must have felt when Alice lifted him from the hearth to the table
(he certainly felt dusted), went to seek one Miss Jessie Bond whose
name figured opposite the number on his programme that was just
displayed on the bandstand.
He really worked hard. He danced carefully and laboriouslyhe had
had lessons during his last year in Londonand entirely without any
pleasure. So far, he had fulfilled Mary's instructions to the very
letter, except in the matter of looking pleased and eager. His round,
fresh-coloured face maintained its habitual expression of rather prim
gravity. The Liberal young ladies, while gratified that he should have
danced with them, thought him distinctly dull, the Tory young ladies
declared him an insufferable oaf; but Phyllida the tall milk-maid, when
she came across him in the dance, nodded and smiled at him in kindly
approval. He noticed that she danced several times with the plain young
man in the Elizabethan ruff, and that they seemed very good friends.
At last number twelve showed on the bandstand. Eloquent was not very
clear as to whether Mary had given him this dance or not, but he went
to her to claim it. It came just before the supper dances.
Yes, this is our dance, said Mary, shall we one-step for a
It seems to me, said Eloquent mournfully, that one does nothing
but change all the time. Now this is a waltz, how can you one-step to a
Poor man, Mary remarked pityingly. It is muddling if
you're not used to it. Let us waltz then, that will be a change.
Once round the room they went, and Eloquent felt that never before
had he realised the true delight of dancing. He was very careful, very
accurate, and his partner set herself to imitate exactly his archaic
style of dancing, so that they were a model of deportment to the whole
room. But it was only for a brief space that this poetry of motion was
vouchsafed to him.
Do you see, she asked, that old lady near the band. She has been
sitting there quite alone all the evening and she must be dying for
something to eat. Don't you think you'd better take her to have some
No, said Eloquent decidedly, not just now. I've been dancing with
all sorts of people with whom I didn't in the least desire to dance
solely because you said I ought, and now I'm dancing with you and I'm
not going to give it up. May we go on again?
Again they waltzed solemnly round. Again Eloquent felt the thrill
that always accompanies a perfect achievement. Again Mary stopped.
That old lady is really very much on my conscience, she said; if
you won't take her in to have some supper, I must get Reggie, he'd do
But why now? Eloquent pleaded. If, as you say, she has sat there
all night, a few minutes more or less can make no differencewhy
should we spoil our dance by worrying about her? Do you know her?
I don't think I know her, Mary said vaguely, but I have an idea
she has something to do with coal. She's probably one of your
constituents, and I think it's rather unkind of you to be so
uninterested; besides, what does it matter whether one knows her or
not, she's here to enjoy herself, it's our business to see that she
does it. . . .
Why our business? In a flash Eloquent saw he had made a mistake.
Mary looked genuinely surprised this time.
Why, don't you think in any sort of gathering it's everybody's
business . . . if you see anyone lonely . . . left out . . . one tries.
. . .
I've been lonely and left out at dozens of parties in London, where
I didn't know a soul, and I never discovered that anyone was in the
least concerned about me. At all events no one ever tried to ameliorate
But you're a man, you know. . . .
A man can feel just as out of it as a woman. It's worse for him in
fact, for it's nobody's business to look after him.
Eloquent spoke bitterly.
But surely since you, yourself, have suffered, you ought to be the
more sympathetic with that stout lady
I will go, since you wish it; but I don't know her and she may
think it impertinent. . . .
I'll come too, said Mary. I don't know her but I can
introduce you . . . we'll both go.
The lady in question was stout and rubicund, with smooth,
tightly-braided brown hair, worn very flat and close to the head, and
bright observant black eyes. She wore a high black satin dress, and had
apparently been poured into it, so tight was it, so absolutely moulded
to her form. A double gold chain was arranged over her ample bosom, and
many bracelets decorated her fat wrists. She was quite alone on the
raised red seat. For the last two hours Mary had noticed her sitting
there, and that no one, apparently, ever spoke to, or came to sit by
There she remained placidly watching the dancers, her plump ungloved
hands folded in her lap. She appeared rather cold for she wore no wrap,
and what with draughts and the breeze created by the dancers, the tent
was a chilly place to sit in.
Mary mounted the red baize step and sat down beside the solitary
Don't you think it's time you had something to eat? she shouted .
. . they were so near the band, which at that moment was braying
the waltz song from the Quaker Girl. The old lady beamed, but shook
I'm very well where I am, my dear, I can see nicely and I'm glad I
But you can come back, Mary persisted. This
gentlemanindicating Eloquentwill take you to have some supper,
and then he'll bring you back again just here if you like. . . . May I
introduce Mr Gallup? Mrs . . . I fear I don't know your name. . . .
Eloquent stood below bowing stiffly, and offered his arm. The lady
stood up, chuckled, winked cheerfully at Mary, and stepped down on to
Well, since you are so obliging, she said, and took the
proffered arm. You don't know me, Mr Gallup, she continued, but you
will do before the election's over. Don't look so down in the mouth, I
shan't keep you long, just a snack's all I want, and to stamp my feet a
bit, which they're uncommonly cold, and then you can go back to the
sweet pretty thing that fetched you to do the civiloh, I saw it all!
what a pity she's the other side, isn't it? what a canvasser she'd make
with that smile . . . well, well, there's many a pretty Tory lady
married a Radical before this and changed her politics, so don't
you lose heart . . . soup, yes, I'd fancy some soup . . . well, what a
sight to be sure . . . and how do you feel things are going in the
constituency? . . .
But Eloquent had no need to answer. His charge kept up a continual
flow of conversation, only punctuated by mouthfuls of food. When at
last he took her back to the seat near the band, Mary had gone to
supper and was nowhere to be seen.
I'm much obliged to you, Mr Gallup, said the lady, though you
wouldn't have done it if you hadn't been forced. Now let an old woman
give you a bit of advice. . . . Look willin' whether you are or
Poor Eloquent felt very much as though she had boxed his ears. A few
minutes later he saw that the Elizabethan gentleman and Mary were
seated on either side of his recent partner and were apparently well
How did they do it?
And presently when Reggie Peel and Mary passed him in the Boston he
heard Peel say, Quite the most amusing person here to-night. I shall
sit out the next two dances with her, I'm tired.
I was tired too, that's why . . . they went out of earshot, and he
never caught the end of the sentence.
Eloquent danced no more with Mary, nor did he sit out at all with
the indomitable old lady, who, bright-eyed and vigilant, still watched
from her post near the band. The end was really near, and he stood
against the wall gloomily regarding Mary as she flew about in the
armsvery closely in the arms as ruled by the new dancingof a young
barrister. He was staying with the Campions and had, all the previous
week, been helping heartily in the Liberal cause. He had come down from
London especially to do so, but during Christmas week there was a truce
on both sides, and he remained to enjoy himself.
Just then Eloquent hated him. He hated all these people who seemed
to find it so easy to be amusing and amused. Yet he stayed till the
very last dance watching Phyllida, the milkmaid, with intense
disapproval, as, her sun-bonnet hanging round her neck, she tore
through the Post Horn Gallop with that detestable barrister. He decided
that the manners of the upper classes, if easy and pleasant, were
certainly much too free.
It was a fine clear night and he walked to his rooms in Marlehouse.
He felt that he had not been a social success. He was much more at home
on the platform than in the ball-room, yet he was shrewd enough to see
that his lack of adaptability stood in his way politically.
How could he learn these things?
And as if in answer to his question, there suddenly sounded in his
ears the fat chuckling voice of the black satin lady:
Well, well, there's many a pretty Tory lady married a Radical
before this, and changed her politics, so don't you lose heart.
CHAPTER X. THE GANPIES
Father's mother, living alone far away in the Forest of Dean,
rarely came to Redmarley, and the children never went to visit her. A
frail old lady to whom one was never presented save tidily clad and
fresh from the hands of nurse for a few moments, with injunctions still
ringing in one's ears as to the necessity for a quiet and decorous
This was grandmother, a shadow rather than a reality.
The Ganpies were something very different. The name, an abbreviation
for grandparents, was invented by Grantly when he was two years old,
and long usage had turned it into a term of endearment. People who knew
them well could never think of General and Mrs Grantly apart, each was
the complement of the other; and for the Ffolliot children they
represented a dual fount of fun and laughter, understanding and
affection. They were the medium through which one beheld the
never-ending pageant unrolled before the entrancéd eyes of such happy
children as happened to belong gloriously to one commanding the R.A.
Woolwich. And intercourse with the Ganpies was largely leavened by
concrete joys in the shape of presents, pantomimes, tips, and all
things dear to the heart of youth all the world over.
Such were the Ganpies. Nothing shadowy about them. They were a
glorious reality; beloved, familiar, frequent.
They were still comparatively young people when their daughter
married, and Mrs Grantly was a grandmother at forty-one. They would
have liked a large family themselves, but seeing that Providence had
only seen fit to bestow on them one child, they looked upon the six
grandchildren as an attempt to make amends.
Mrs Grantly's one quarrel with Marjory Ffolliot was on the score of
what she called her niggardliness and greed, in refusing to hand over
entirely one of the six to their grandparents.
It is true that the large house on the edge of Woolwich Common was
seldom without one or two of the Ffolliot children. Mr Ffolliot was
most accommodating, and was more then ready to accept the General's
constant invitations to his offspring; but in spite of these
concessions Mrs Grantly was never wholly satisfied, and it was
something of a grievance with her that Marjory was so firm in her
refusal to give away any one of the six.
Casual observers would have said that Mrs Grantly was by far the
stronger character of the two, but people who knew General Grantly
well, realised that his daughter had her full share of his quiet
strength and determination. Mrs Ffolliot, like her father, was
easy-going, gentle, and tolerant; it was only when you came up
against either of them that you realised the solid rock beneath the
Now there was nothing hidden about Mrs Grantly. She appeared exactly
what she was. Everything about her was definite and decided, though she
was various and unexpected as our British weather. She was an
extraordinary mixture of whimsicality and common sense, of heroic
courage and craven timidity, of violence and tenderness, of
impulsiveness and caution. In very truth a delightful bundle of
paradox. Quick-witted and impatient, she had yet infinite toleration
for the simpleton, and could on occasion suffer fools with a gladness
quite unshared by her much gentler daughter or her husband. But the
snob, the sycophant, and, above all, the humbug met with short shrift
at her hands, and the insincere person hated her heartily. She spoke
her mind with the utmost freedom on every possible occasion, and as she
had plenty of brains and considerable shrewdness her remarks were
The villagers at Redmarley adored her, for, from her very first
visit she made her presence felt.
It had long been the custom at Redmarley for the ladies in the
village and neighbourhood to meet once a week during the earlier winter
months to make garments for presentation to the poor at Christmas, and
the first meeting since the Manor House possessed a mistress took place
there under Mrs Ffolliot's somewhat timid presidency. It coincided with
Mrs Grantly's first visit since her daughter's marriage, and she
expressed her willingness to help.
At Mrs Ffolliot's suggestion it had already been arranged that a
blouse instead of a flannel petticoat should this year be given to the
younger women. The other ladies had fallen in graciously with the idea
(they were inclined to enthuse over the sweet young bride"), and
according to custom one Miss Tibbits, a spinster of large leisure and
masterful ways, had undertaken to procure the necessary material. For
years donors and recipients alike had meekly suffered her domination.
She chose the material, settled what garments should be made and in
what style, and who should receive them when made.
On the afternoon in question Miss Tibbits duly descended from her
brougham, bearing a parcel containing the material for the blouses
which Mrs Grantly volunteered to cut out. Miss Tibbits undid the parcel
and displayed the contents to the nine ladies assembled round the
Mrs Grantly was seen to regard it with marked disapproval, and hers
was an expressive countenance.
May I ask, she began in the honeyed, society tone that in her
own family was recognised as the sure precursor of battle, why the
poor should be dressed in dusters?
The eight ladies concentrated their gaze upon the roll of material
which certainly did bear a strong resemblance to the bundles offered by
drapers at sale times as strong, useful, and much reduced.
It is the usual thing, Miss Tibbits replied shortly, we have to
consider utility, not ornament.
Mrs Grantly stretched across the table, swiftly seized the material,
gathered it up under her chin, and with a dramatic gesture stood up so
that it fell draped about her.
Look at me! she exclaimed. If I had to wear clothes made of stuff
like this, I should go straight to the Devil!
And at that very moment, just as she proclaimed in a loud voice the
downward path she would tread if clad in the material Miss Tibbits had
selected, the door was opened, and Mr Molyneux was announced.
The ladies gasped (except Marjory Ffolliot, who had dissolved into
helpless laughter at the sight of her large and portly parent draped in
yards of double-width red and brown check), but Mrs Grantly was no whit
Look at me, Mr Molyneux, she cried. Can you conceive any
self-respecting young woman ever taking any pleasure in a garment made
A garment, the vicar repeated in wonderment, is it for a
Yes, and not an undergarment either, Mrs Grantly retorted. Now
you are here, you shall tell us plainly . . . are the things we are to
make supposed to give any pleasure to the poor creatures or not.
I should say so most assuredly, the vicar replied, his eyes
twinkling with fun. What other purpose could you have?
Miss Tibbits cleared her throat. I have always understood, she
said primly, that the sewing club was instituted to make useful
garments for deserving persons, who were, perhaps, so much occupied by
family cares that they had little time available for needle-work.
That is, said the vicar solemnly, the laudable object of the
But I don't suppose, Mrs Grantly remarked briskly, still standing
draped in the obnoxious material, that there is any bye-law to the
effect that the garments should be of an odious and humiliating
Of course not, the ladies chorussed, smiling. They were beginning,
all but Miss Tibbits, who was furious, to enjoy Mrs Grantly.
Then let us, Mrs Grantly's voice suddenly became soft and
seductive, and she flung the folds of material from her, give them
something pretty. They don't have much, poor things, and it's just as
easy to make them pretty as ugly. Ladies, I've been to a good many
sewing meetings in my life, and I always fight for the same thing, a
present should be just a little bit differentdon't you thinknot
hard and hideous and ordinary. . . .
That material is bought and paid for, Miss Tibbits interrupted,
it must be used.
It shall be used, cried Mrs Grantly, I'll buy it, and I'll make
it into dusters for which purpose it was obviously intended, and every
woman in Redmarley shall have two for Christmas as an extra. A good
strong duster never comes amiss.
Perhaps, Miss Tibbits said coldly, you will undertake to procure
Certainly, said Mrs Grantly, but I'll buy it in blouse lengths,
and every one different. Why should a whole village wear the same thing
as though it was a reformatory?
It appeared that the vicar had called with his list of the
deserving poor. In five minutes Mrs Grantly had detached each person,
and made a note of her age and circumstances. She had only been in the
village a week, and she already knew every soul in it.
She whirled off the vicar in a gale of enthusiasm, nobody else got a
word in edgewise. Finally she departed with him into the hall, and saw
him out at the front door, and her last whispered words were
You've let that Tibbits woman bully you for twenty years, now I'm
going to bully you for a bit instead, and between us we'll give those
poor dears a bit of cheer this Christmas.
From that moment the vicar was Mrs Grantly's slave.
Nobody knew how the affair leaked out, but the whole thing was known
in the village before a week had passed, with the result that fifteen
women visited the vicar, one after the other, and after much
circumlocution intimated that If so be as 'e would be so kind, they'd
be glad if 'e'd 'int to the ladies as they 'adn't nearly wore out last
Christmas petticoat, and, if it were true wot they'd 'eard as they was
talkin' of givin' summat different, might Mrs Mustoe, Gegg, Uzzel, or
Radway, etc., have anything they did choose to make as warn't a
There was a slump in petticoats.
In despair he went to Mrs Grantly, and she undertook to see the
It's absurd, Mrs Grantly remarked to her daughter, in a little
place like this where one knows all the people, and exactly what
they're like, to make things all the same size. Fancy me trying to get
into a blouse that would fit that skinny Miss Tibbits! A little common
sense is what's needed in this sewing society, and, Marjory, my dear,
I'm going to do my best to supply it.
* * * * * *
Throughout the years that followed, Mrs Grantly continued to supply
common sense to the inhabitants of Redmarley. She found places for
young servants, both in her own household and those of her friends,
till gradually there were many links between the village and 'Orse and
Field and Garrison.
More than one Redmarley damsel married a gunner on the strength.
Had the intending bridegroom been anything else, Mrs Grantly would
herself have forbidden the banns!
CHAPTER XI. CHRISTMAS AT REDMARLEY
That year Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, and on the Saturday
afternoon Eloquent drove out from Marlehouse to Redmarley to spend the
week-end with his aunt. She was out when he arrived, and he went
straight to the vicarage, asked for the vicar, and was shown into the
study, where Mr Molyneaux sat smoking by the fire in a deep-seated
Even as he entered the room, Eloquent was conscious of the
pleasurable thrill that things beautiful and harmonious never failed to
evoke. The windows faced west; the red sun, just sinking behind
Redmarley Woods, shone in on and was reflected from walls covered from
floor to ceiling with books; books bound for the most part in mellow
brown and yellow calf, that seemed to give forth an amber light as from
sun-warmed turning beeches.
The vicar had discarded his clerical coat, and wore a shabby
grey-green Norfolk jacket frayed at the cuffs; nevertheless, Eloquent
sincerely admired him as he rose to give courteous greeting to his
The old vicar was stout and bald, and the grey hair that fringed his
head was decidedly rumpled. A long face, with high, narrow forehead and
pointed beard, cheeks heavy and creased, straight nose, with strongly
marked, sensitive nostrils. The mouth, full-lipped and shutting firmly
under the grey moustache, cut straight across the upper lip; the eyes,
rather prominent blue eyes, had once been bold and merry, and were
still keen. A fine old face, deeply lined and sorrowful, bearing upon
it the impress of great possibilities that had remainedpossibilities.
He was somehow in keeping with his room, this warm, untidy, comfortable
room that smelt of tobacco and old leather, where there was such a
curious jumble of things artistic and sporting: a few pictures and
bas-reliefs, nearly all of the pre-Renaissance Italian School, a big
stuffed trout in a glass case, a fox's brush and mask, an old faded
cricket cap; and over the carved mantelshelf, the portrait of a
Georgian beauty in powder and patches, whose oval face, heavy-lidded
eyes, and straight features were not unlike the vicar's own.
There was in the vicar's manner the welcoming quality that puts the
shyest person at his ease. He was secretly much surprised that young
Gallup should call upon him; but no hint of this appeared in his
manner, and Eloquent found no difficulty in stating the object of his
visit with business-like directness.
I came to ask you, he remarked with his usual stiff solemnity, if
you would care for me to read the lessons at morning service to-morrow.
. . . I do not read badly. . . . I have studied elocution.
The humorous lines round the old vicar's eyes deepened, but he
answered with equal gravity, That is very good of you, and I
gratefully accept your kind offer. General Grantly has promised to read
the first lesson, but I shall be glad if you will read the second. Will
you do both at the afternoon service? There's no evensong on Christmas
This was rather more than Eloquent had bargained for, but . . . she
might come to the afternoon service as well. I shall be most happy,
he said meekly, to do anything I can to assist.
The vicar rang for tea, but Eloquent arose hastily, saying he had
promised to have tea with his aunt. He had no desire to prolong the
interview with this urbane old gentleman now that its object was
achieved. Mr Molyneux saw him to the front door and watched him for a
moment as he bustled down the drive. So that, he said to himself, as
he went back to the warm study, is our future member . . . for
everyone says he will get in. Why does he want to read the lessons, I
wonder? It will certainly do him no good with his dissenting
constituents, and it is they who will get him inwhat can his object
The Ffolliot family formed quite a procession as they marched up the
aisle on Christmas morning. General and Mrs Grantly were there; Reggie,
Mr and Mrs Ffolliot, and the six young Ffolliots. They overflowed into
the seat behind, and the Kitten, whom nothing ever awed or subdued, was
heard to remark that since she couldn't sit with Willets, the keeper,
who always had such instasting things in his pottets, she'd sit
between the Ganpies. Reggie, Mary, and her four brothers filled the
second seat: Mary sat at the far end, and Ger nearest the aisle, that
he might gaze entrancedly at his grandfather while he read the lesson.
Reggie came next to Ger, and Grantly separated Uz and Buz, so that
Eloquent only caught an occasional glimpse of Mary's extremely flat
back between the heads of other worshippers.
Oh come, all ye faithful! the choir sang lustily as it started in
procession round the church, and the faithful responded vigorously. The
Kitten pranced on her hassock, and always started the new verse before
everyone else in the clearest of pure trebles. The Ffolliot boys
shouted, and for once Mr Ffolliot forebore to frown on them. No woman
with a houseful of children can remain quite unmoved on Christmas
morning during that singularly jubilant invocation, and Mrs Grantly and
Margery Ffolliot ceased to sing, for their eyes were full of tears. Mr
Ffolliot fixed his monocle more firmly, and bent forward to look at the
Kitten, and to catch her little pipe above the shouts of her brothers
The Kitten sang words of her own composition during the Psalms, her
grandparents both singing loudly themselves in their efforts not to
hear her, for the Kitten's improvisations were enough to upset the
gravity of a bench of bishops.
The General read the first lesson in a brisk and business-like
monotone, and when he had finished his grandsons applauded noiselessly
under the book-board.
The Kitten was very much to the fore during Praise him and magnify
him for ever, and then came the second lesson.
Eloquent walked up the aisle and took his stand at the lectern with
the utmost unconcern. Shy and awkward he might be in ordinary social
intercourse, but whenever it was a matter of standing up before his
fellow-creatures and haranguing them, his self-consciousness dropped
from him like a discarded garment, and he instantly acquired a mental
poise and serene self-confidence wholly lacking at other times.
The second lesson on Christmas morning contains the plainest
possible statement of a few great facts, and Eloquent proclaimed them
in a singularly melodious voice with just exactly the emphatic
simplicity they demanded.
The perfect sincerity of great literature is always impressive. All
over the church heads were turned in the direction of the lectern, and
when the short lesson ended the Kitten demanded in a quite audible
voice, Why did he stop so soon for?
Eloquent looked at Mary as he passed down the aisle to his place,
half-hoping she might meet his glance with the frank confident smile he
found so disturbing and delicious. But her eyes were bent upon her
prayer-book and she appeared quite unconscious that someone had just
been reading the Bible exceptionally well.
He felt chilled and disappointed. It is quite possible, he
reflected bitterly, that in this out-of-the-way old church they don't
know good reading from bad.
There is no sermon at Redmarley on Christmas morning, and people who
have been at the early service get out soon after twelve o'clock.
Eloquent waited in the churchyard and watched the young Ffolliots and
Reggie Peel come out. Mary saw him and nodded cheerfully, but she did
not, as he felt might have been expected, come up to him and exclaim,
How beautifully you read!
No one did.
Such of the congregation as had already been to early service
hurried home to look after the dinner; or, as in the case of the young
Ffolliots, to deposit prayer-books and take violent exercise until
In the afternoon Eloquent read the lessons to a very meagre
assembly. The Manor House seats were empty and his enthusiastic desire
to be of assistance to the vicar cooled considerably. His aunt during
dinner announced with the utmost frankness that wild horses would not
drag her to church of an afternoon; she liked her forty winks
peaceable. She, however, further informed him that he read very
nice; but as she had said the same thing of Grantly Ffolliot's
performance, her nephew could not feel uplifted by her praise.
The vicar poured a little balm on his wounded spirit by hastening
after him as he walked slowly and gloomily homewards, to thank him with
warm urbanity for his kind help, but he made no remark upon his
reading. They parted at the vicarage gate, and Eloquent pursued his way
He felt restless and curiously disappointed. Everything was exactly
as it had been before, and somehow he had expected it to be different.
So far he had encountered no special desire on the part of the
upper classes to cultivate him. He was quite shrewd enough to
perceive that those he had metthe Campions at Marlehouse and the few
who had offered him hospitality in Londonhad done so purely on
Only one, so far, had shown any kindness to him, the shy, wistfully
self-conscious young man, hungry for sympathy and comprehension. Only
one, Mary Ffolliot, had seemed to recognise in him other possibilities
than those of party: but had she?
Anyway, here was he in the same village with her not a mile away,
and yet a gulf stretched between them apparently impassable as a river
in flood to a boatless man who could not swim.
That evening Miss Gallup decided that her nephew did not possess
much general conversation.
CHAPTER XII. MISS ELSMARIA
The twins were not in the least alike, either in disposition or
appearance, but they were inseparable. They were known to their large
circle of friends and still more numerous censors as Uz and Buz,
but their real names were Lionel and Hilary, a fact they rigidly
suppressed at all times.
Buz was tall for his age, slender and fair, with regular, Grantly
features, and eyes like his mother's. Uz was short and chubby,
tirelessly mischievous, and of an optimistic cheerfulness that neither
misfortune nor misunderstanding could diminish. Buz was the reading
Ffolliot, imaginative, and easily swayed by what he read; and his was
the fertile brain that created and suggested all manner of wrong-doing
to his twin. Just then the mania of both was for impersonation. To
dress up, and if possible to mislead their fellow-creatures as to
their identity, was their chief aim in life. Here, the prettiness
that in his proper person Buz deplored and abhorred came in useful. He
made a charming girl, his histrionic power was considerable, and on
both accounts he was much in demand at school theatricals; moreover,
his voice had not yet broken, and when he desired to do so he could
speak with lady-like softness and precision.
Who's the chap that read the second lesson? he asked Ger, who
proudly walked between the twins on their way from church. Ger adored
He's the muddy young man who came last Sunday, Ger answered
promptly. Proud to be able to afford information, he continued, His
aunt's our nice Miss Gallup, and he's going to get in at the Election,
Oh, is he? cried Uz, whose political views were the result of
strong conviction unbiassed by reflection. We'll see about that.
I feel, Buz murmured dreamily, that it is my duty to find out
that young man's views on Female Suffrage. The women in this district
appear to me sadly indifferent as to this important question. It's
doubtful if any of them will tackle him. Now I'm well up in it Just
now, owing to that rotten debate last term.
When that long-winded woman jawed for nearly an hour, d'you mean?
asked Uz Exactly. I never dreamt she would come in useful, but you
Shall you call? Uz gurgled delightedly. Where'll you get the
clothes? Mary's would be too big, besides everyone about here knows
'em, they're so old, and she'd never lend you anything decent.'
I shouldn't ask her if I really wanted them; but in this instance I
scorn the mouldy garments of Sister Mary.
Whose'll you get? Uz asked curiously.
My son, Buz rejoined, I shall be like the king's daughter in the
Psalms. Never you fear for my appearance. As our dear French prose book
would remark: 'The grandmother of the young man so attractive has a
maid French, of the heart excellent, and of the habits most chic.'
You mean Adèle will lend them?
You bet. She says I speak her tongue to the marvel, is it not?
On Boxing-Day Eloquent called upon as many of the vote-possessing
inhabitants of Redmarley as could be got in before his aunt's early
dinner. He found but few at home, for on that morning there is always a
meet in the market-place at Marlehouse, and the male portion of the
inhabitants is sporting both by inclination and tradition. He found the
wives, however, and on the whole they were gracious to him. His visit
pleased, for the then member, Mr Brooke, had not been near Redmarley
for years, and left the whole constituency to his agent, who was nearly
as slack as the member for Marlehouse himself.
Eloquent, who had by no means made up his mind as to Female
Suffrage, was much relieved that not a single woman in Redmarley had so
much as breathed its name. His inclinations led him to follow where Mr
Asquith led, but his long training in the doctrines of expediency gave
him pause. He decided that he could not yet range himself alongside of
the anti-suffrage party. As his old father was wont to remark
cautiously, You must see where you are first, and as yet Eloquent had
not clearly discovered his whereabouts.
He ate his cold turkey with an excellent appetite, feeling that he
had spent a useful if arduous morning. The give-and-take of ordinary
conversation was always a difficult matter for Eloquent, but on this
occasion he related his experiences to his aunt, and was quite
talkative; so that, to a certain extent, she revised her unfavourable
impression as to his conversational powers, and became more hopeful for
his success in the Election. His gloom and taciturnity on Christmas Day
had filled her with forebodings.
In the afternoon he devoted himself to his correspondence. His aunt
gave up the parlour to him and went out to see her friends, while he
sat in stately solitude at a table covered with papers plainly
parliamentary in kind.
For about an hour he worked on undisturbed. Presently he heard the
front gate creak, and looking up beheld a bicycle, a lady's bicycle,
propped against the garden wall. Someone rapped loudly at the front
door, and whoever it was had hard knuckles, for there was no knocker.
Presently Em'ly-Alice, Miss Gallup's little maid, appeared holding a
card between her finger and thumb, and announcedA young lady come to
see you, please, sir.
For one mad moment Eloquent thought it might perhaps be Mary with
some message for his aunt, but the card disillusioned him. It was a
very shiny card, and on it was written in ink in round, very distinct
Miss Elsmaria Buttermish.
He had barely time to take this in before Miss Buttermish herself
I'm glad to have found you at home, Mr Gallup, she announced
easily; I come on behalf of our beloved leaders to obtain a clear
statement of your views as to 'Votes for Women,' for on those views a
great deal depends. Kindly state them as clearly and concisely as you
Miss Buttermish drew up a chair to the table, sat down and produced
a note-book and pencil; while Eloquent, speechless with astonishment
and dismay, stood on the other side of it holding the shiny
visiting-card in his hand.
Miss Buttermish tapped with her pencil on the table and regarded him
Apparently quite young, she was also distinctly pleasing to the eye.
She wore an exceedingly well cut, heavily braided black coat and skirt,
the latter of the tightest and skimpiest type of a skimpy period. Her
hat was of the extinguisher order, entirely concealing her hair, except
that just in the front a few soft curls were vaguely visible upon her
forehead. A very handsome elderly-looking black fox stole threw up the
whiteness of her rounded chin in strong relief, and her eyes looked
large and mysterious through the meshes of her most becoming veil.
Eloquent was conscious of a certain familiarity in her appearance. He
was certain that he had seen her before somewhere, and couldn't recall
either time or place.
I'm waiting, Mr Gallup, she remarked pleasantly. You must have
made up your mind one way or other upon this important question, and it
will save both my time and your own if you state your viewsmay I say,
as briefly as possible.
Eloquent gasped . . . I fear, he said, that I have by no means
made up my mind with any sort of finalityit is such a large question.
. . . I have not yet had time to go into it as thoroughly as I could
wish. . . . There is so much to be said on both sides.
There, Miss Buttermish interrupted, you are mistaken; there is
nothing to be said for the 'antis.' Their arguments are
positively . . . footling.
I cannot, Eloquent said stiffly, agree with you.
Sit down, Mr Gallup, Miss Buttermish said kindly, at the same time
getting up and seating herself afresh on a corner of the sofa. We've
got to thresh this matter out, and you've got to make up your mind
whether you are for or against us. You are young, and I think that you
hardly realise the forces that will be arrayed against you if
you join hands with Mr Asquith on this question.
Miss Buttermish sat up very stiff and straight on the end of the
sofa, and Eloquent, still standing with the table between them, felt
rather like a naughty boy in the presence of an accusing governess. The
allusion to his youth rankled. He did not sit down, but stood where he
was, staring darkly at his guest. After a very perceptible pause he
It is impossible for me to give you a definite opinion . . .
It's not an opinion I want, Miss Buttermish interrupted
scornfully, it's a definite guarantee. Otherwise, young man, you may
make up your mind to incessant interruption and . . . to various other
annoyances which I need not enumerate. We don't care a bent pin whether
you are a Liberal or a Tory or a red-hot Socialist, so long as you are
sound on the Suffrage question. If you are in favour of 'Votes for
Women,' then we'll help you; if not . . . I advise you to put up your
Eloquent flushed angrily and, strangely enough, so did Miss
Buttermish at the same moment. In fact, no sooner had she spoken the
last sentence than she looked extremely hot and uncomfortable.
I see no use, he said coldly, in prolonging this interview. I
cannot give you the guarantee you wish for. It is not my custom to make
up my mind upon any question of political importance without
considerable research and much thought. Intimidation would never turn
me from my course if, after such investigation, I should decide against
your cause. Nor would any annoyance your party may inflict upon me now,
affect my support of your cause should I, ultimately, come to believe
in its justice.
Miss Buttermish rose. Mr Gallup, she said solemnly, there is at
present a very wide-spread discontent among us. Till we get the vote we
shall manifest that discontent, and I warn you that the lives of
members of Parliament and candidates who are not avowedly on our side
will be madehere Miss Buttermish swallowed hastily . . . most
unpleasant. Those that are not for us are against us, and . . . we are
very much up against them. I am sorry we should part in anger . . .
Pardon me, Eloquent interrupted, there is no anger on my side. I
respect your opinions even though as yet I may not wholly share them.
Miss Buttermish shook her head. I'm really sorry for you, she
murmured; you are young, and you little know what you are letting
yourself in for.
Eloquent opened the parlour door for her with stiff politeness, and
she passed out with bent head and shoulders that trembled under the
heavy fur. Surely this militant young person was not going to cry!
He followed her in some anxiety down to the garden gate, held it
open for her to pass through, which she did in absolute silence, and he
waited to watch her mount her bicycle.
This she did in a very curious fashion. She started to run with it,
leapt lightly on one pedal, and then, to Eloquent's amazement, essayed
to throw her other leg over like a boy.
The lady's skirt was tight, the Redmarley roads were extremely
muddy, the unexpected jerk caused the bicycle to skid, and lady and
bicycle came down sideways with considerable violence.
Damn! exclaimed Miss Buttermish.
Oh, those modern girls! thought the shocked Eloquent as he ran
forward to assist. He pulled the bicycle off Miss Buttermish, and stood
it against the wall. She sat up, her hat very much on one side.
Do you know, she said rather huskily, I do believe I've broken my
She held out her left hand to Eloquent, who pulled her to her feet.
Her right arm hung helpless, and even through her bespattered veil he
could see that she was very white.
Pray come in and rest for a little, he said concernedly, and we
can see what has happened.
I'm sure it's broken, I heard the beastly thing snap the girl
stumbled blindly, Eloquent caught her in his arms, and saw that she had
fainted from pain.
He carried her into the house and laid her on the horsehair sofa,
put a cushion under her arm, and seizing the large scissors that his
orderly aunt kept hanging on a hook at the side of the fire, cut her
jacket carefully along the seam from wrist to shoulder. She wore a very
mannish, coloured flannel shirt. This sleeve, too, he cut, and
disclosed a thin arm, extremely brown nearly to the elbow, and very
fair and white above, but the elbow was distorted and discoloured; a
bad break, Eloquent decided, with mischief at the joint as well
probably. He had studied first-aid at classes, and he shook his head.
It did not occur to him to call the little servant to assist him. With
his head turned shyly away he removed the young lady's hat and loosened
her heavy furs. Then he flew for water and a sponge, thinking the while
of her curious Christian name Elsmaria. She looked pathetically young
and helpless lying there. Eloquent forgot her militancy and her
shocking language in his sorrow over her pain. As he knelt down by the
sofa to sponge her face he started so violently that he upset a great
deal of the water he had brought.
It was already growing dark, but even in the dim light as he looked
closely at Miss Buttermish without her hat, her likeness to Mary
Ffolliot was striking. She wore her hair cropped close. Could she have
been in prison? thought Eloquent, remembering how light she was when
he carried her in.
With hands that trembled somewhat he pushed the wet curly hair back
from the forehead so like Mary's. There were the same wide brow, the
same white eyelids with the sweeping arch and thick dark lashes, the
delicate high-bridged nose and well-cut, kindly mouth; the same pure
oval in the line of cheek and chin.
Certainly an extraordinary resemblance. She must at least be a
cousin; and, in spite of his sincere commiseration of the young lady's
suffering, he felt a jubilant thrill in the reflection that this
accident must bring him into further contact with the Ffolliots.
There was no brandy in the house, for both he and his aunt were
total abstainers, so he fetched a glass of water and held it to the
young lady's lips as she opened her eyes. She drank eagerly, looked
searchingly at him, then she glanced down at her bare arm and the cut
sleeve. The colour flooded her face, and with real horror in her voice
she exclaimed, You've never gone and cut that jacket!
I had to. Your arm ought to be set at once, and goodness knows
where the doctor may be to-day. You'd best be taken to Marlehouse
Infirmary, I think; it's a bad break.
But it's her best coat, quite new, Miss Buttermish persisted
fretfully, quite new; you'd no business to go and cut it. I promised
to take such care of it.
I'm very sorry, Eloquent replied meekly; but it really was
necessary that your arm should be seen to at once, and I dared not jerk
Can it be mended, do you think, so that it won't show? There was
real concern in her voice.
I'm sure of it, he answered, much astonished at this fuss about a
coat at such a moment; I cut it carefully along the seam.
I say, exclaimed Miss Buttermish, I must get out of thisand
she prepared to swing her feet off the sofarather big feet, he noted,
in stout golfing shoes. Forcibly he held her legs down.
Please don't, he implored. You must not jar that arm any more
than can be helped. Shall I go up to the Manor House and get them to
send a conveyance for you?you really mustn't think of walking, and I
don't know where else we could get one to-day.
Miss Buttermish closed her eyes and frowned heavily. Then in a faint
How do you know I'm from the Manor House?
Well, for one thing, you're very like . . . the family.
All of them? she asked anxiously.
You are very like certain members of the family I have seen, he
said cautiously. May I go? I'll send the servant to sit with you
Miss Buttermish clutched at him violently with her left hand,
exclaiming, No, nodon't send anybody yet; I must get out of this
beastly skirt before anyone comes. . . . Look here, you're a very
decent chap and I'm sorry I rotted youwill you play the game when you
go home and hide these beastly clothes before anyone comes? The blessed
thing hooks at the side, see; it's coming undone now; if you'll just
give a pull I can wriggle out without getting up. . . . Oh, confound .
. . I'm Buz, you know, I dressed up on purpose to rot you . . . but if
you could not mention it . . .
Her head fell back and she nearly fainted again from pain. Eloquent
divested her of her skirt, and with it the last remnant of Miss
Buttermish disappeareda slim slip of a boy in running shorts, with
bare knees, and a gym-belt lay prone on the sofa, very pale and
In absolute silence Eloquent folded the skirt and the coat, and
laying hat and furs on the top, placed them in a neat heap on a chair
in the corner.
He went to his bedroom, fetched the eiderdown off his own bed and
covered the boy with it. As he was tucking in the eiderdown at the side
Buz put out a cold left hand and held him by the coat sleeve, saying
curiouslyAre you in an awful bait? are you going to be really stuffy
Eloquent looked straight into the quizzical grey eyes that held his.
The boy's voice belied the eyes, for it was anxious.
Of course not, he said quite seriously, I'm only too sorry your
trick should have had such a disastrous conclusion. Who shall I ask for
up at the house, and what shall I do with the things?
Oh take them with youcould you? Give 'em to Fusby, and tell him
to put them in their roomsthe furs are granny's. He'll do it and
never say a word; decent old chap, Fusby. I say, I'm awfully sorry to
be such a nuisance. I'm certain I could walk home if you'll let me.
That you certainly must not do, I'll go at once. Here's the
hand-bell. I'll tell the maid that she is to come if you ring. I expect
my aunt will be in directlyI'll be as quick as I cancheer up.
Eloquent bustled about putting the remains of Miss Buttermish tidily
into his suit-case while the grey eyes followed his movements with
I'm most awfully obliged, said Buz in a very low voice; I do feel
such an ass lying here.
There was a murmur of voices in the passage. The front door was
closed with quiet decorum and the little sitting-room grew darker. Two
big tears rolled over and Buz sniffed helplessly, for his handkerchief
was in the pocket of the jacket lately worn with such gay impudence by
Miss Elsmaria Buttermish.
CHAPTER XIII. THE THIN END
Eloquent rode the bicycle left outside by Miss Buttermish, rode
carefully, bearing the suit-case in his left hand. The village was
quite deserted and he reached the great gates of the Manor House
unchallenged. The gates stood open and he entered the dark shadowy
drive without having encountered a living soul. Lights gleamed from the
lower windows of the house, but the porch was in darkness. He rang
loudly, and Fusby, the old manservant, switched on the light as he
opened the door and revealed a square, oak-panelled room and the
warning cards. The inner door leading to the hall was closed, but the
sound of cheerful voices reached Eloquent.
Fusby stood expectant, and in spite of his imperturbable and almost
benedictory manner he looked mildly surprised.
Is Mrs Ffolliot at home? Eloquent asked rather breathlessly.
She is, sir, Fusby answered, but in a tone that subtly conveyed
the unspoken to some people, fixing his eyes the while on the
Do you think she could speak to me here? Eloquent continued
I think not, sir; the mistress at present is dispensing tea to the
fam'ly. She does not as a rule see people at the door. Can I take a
I fear I must disturb her, said Eloquent, conscious all the time
that Fusby's mild gaze was concentrated on the suit-case. One of her
sonsfor the life of him he couldn't remember the boy's ridiculous
namehas broken his arm.
Master Buz, sir? asked Fusby, quite unmoved by the intelligence;
it's generally 'im.
Yes, Master Buz, and he asked me to give you this. . . . It's some
things of his. I'll send for the suit-caseput it out of the way
somewherehe was dressed up . . . these are the clothes
He will 'ave 'is frolic, Fusby murmured indulgently; a very
light-'earted young gentleman he isstep this way, please, sir.
Fusby opened a door behind him, and announced in the voice of one
issuing an edict, Mr Gallup.
There seemed to Eloquent crowds of people in the hall, mostly
gathered about a round table near the fire. He discerned Mrs Ffolliot
in the very act of dispensing tea and General Grantly standing on the
hearthrug warming his coat tails. Mary, too, he saw give a cup of tea
into her grandfather's hands, and he was conscious of the presence of
Mrs Grantly seated on an oaken settle at the other side of the fire
from Mrs Ffolliot. These four were clear to him as he came into the
hall. There was a fire of logs in the open fireplace and a good many
lights, and Eloquent, coming out of the soft darkness of that winter
afternoon, felt dazzled and intolerably hot.
The four people he saw first suddenly seemed to recede to an
immeasurable distance, and he became conscious of others whom he could
not focus. His tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, and he was
conscious that at his entrance dead silence had fallen upon the group
by the fire. Then Mrs Ffolliot rose and held out a kind fair hand to
him, and said something that he could not hear. Somehow he reached the
succouring hand and clung to it like a drowning man, mumbling the
while, Sorry to intrude upon you, but one of your sonsagain the
name eluded himhas broken his arm, and he's in my aunt's cottage.
Look at Ganpie's tea! exclaimed a shrill clear voice, and the
Kitten diverted attention from Eloquent to the General, who was calmly
pouring the tea from his newly filled cup upon the bear-skin hearthrug,
as he gazed fixedly at this bringer of ill-tidings.
Eloquent could never remember clearly what happened between the dual
announcement of the accident and the spilling of the General's tea,
till the moment when he found himself sitting on the settle beside Mrs
Grantly with a cup of tea of his own, which Mary had poured out.
Everyone else seemed to have melted away, Mrs Ffolliot to telephone to
the doctor, the General to order his motor, the Kitten and Ger to the
nursery, and the rest of the party to the four winds.
But he, Mrs Grantly, and Mary were still sitting at the fire, and
Mary had asked him if he took sugar.
Two lumps, he said.
So do I, said Mary, and it seemed a most wonderful coincidence of
In thinking it over afterwards it struck him that the whole family
took the accident very coolly. There was no fuss, very little
exclamation; and to Eloquent, sitting as a guest in that old hall
where, as a small boy, he had sometimes peeped wonderingly, there came
a curious feeling that either he had dreamt of this moment or that it
had all happened aeons of ages ago, and that if it was a dream then
Mary was in a dream too, that he had always wanted her, been conscious
of her, only then she was an immense way off; vaguely beautiful and
desirable, but set in a luminous haze of impossibilities, remote, apart
as a star.
Now she was friendly and approachable, only a few yards away,
looking across at him with frank kind eyes and the firelight shining on
her bright hair.
The time seemed all too short till Mrs Ffolliot, dressed for
driving, in a long fur coat, came back to tell them that the doctor was
at a case five miles off, at a house where there was no telephone, and
that she had arranged to take Buz into the Marlehouse Infirmary to have
the arm set there, and, if necessary, he must stay there till he could
be moved. . . .
Could they drive Mr Gallup back?
So there was nothing for it but to accompany the General and Mrs
Mr Ffolliot did not appear at all.
General Grantly went outside with the chauffeur, and Eloquent again
experienced the queer dream-like sense of doing again something he had
done already as he followed Mrs Ffolliot into the motor. He had never
lost his awestruck admiration for her, and it never occurred to him to
sit down at her side. He was about to put down one of the little seats
and sit on that, when she said, Oh, please, sit here, Mr Gallup, and
he sank into the seat beside her, confused and tremulous. Mary and Mrs
Grantly had come into the porch with them, and stood there now calling
out all sorts of messages and questions. The inner door stood open, and
the hall shone bright behind them.
The motor purred and slid swiftly down the drive.
Mrs Ffolliot switched off the light behind her head, and Eloquent
became conscious of a soft pervading scent of violets. The twenty years
that lay between her first visit to his father's shop and this
wonderful new nearness seemed to him but as one short link in a chain
of inevitable circumstances. Like a picture thrown on a screen he saw
the little boy standing at her knee, the giggling shop assistants, and
his father flushed and triumphant. And he knew that through all the
years he had always been sure that such a moment as this would come,
when he would sit beside her as an equal and a friend. . . . And here
he was, sitting with her in her father's motor, sharing the same fur
rug. What was she saying?
Something kind about the trouble he had taken . . . and the motor
stopped at his aunt's gate.
* * * * * *
Uz was in the midst of a large bite of plum-cake when Eloquent
announced his errand. Uz hastily took another bite, and just as the
Kitten drew attention to her grandfather's tea he quietly opened the
door of the hall, shut it after him softly, did the same by the front
door, and hatless, coatless, and in his pumpsfor his boots were
exceedingly dirty, and Nana had caught him and turned him back to
change before teahe started down the drive at a good swinging run.
His wind was excellent, and he reached Miss Gallup's gate in about five
minutes. Only once had he stopped, when the piece of cake he was
carrying broke off short and dropped in the mud; he peered about for it
during some four seconds, then gave it up and ran on.
The lamp was lit in Miss Gallup's sitting-room, but the blind was
not pulled down. He looked in at the window and saw his brother lying
on the sofa under the eiderdown, opened the front doorno one ever
locks a door in Redmarley unless they go out, and then the key is
always under the scraperand walked in.
Hullo, said Buz; isn't this rotten?
Little man's just come, so I did a bunk. I didn't wait to hear his
revelations about the lovely suffragette
I don't believe he'll tell, Buz said; he's not a bad little chap,
he wasn't a bit shirty, helped me out of those beastly clothes and
never said a word; took them with him too, so's they shouldn't be found
here. I say, by the way, tell Adèle to get the jacket mended and I'll
pay it whenever I can get any money. I'm frightfully sorry about
thathe cut the sleeve right up to get my arm out. Who got the togs?
I don't know, he hadn't 'em when he came in
Gave 'em to Fusby, I expect; he'll see they're properly
What happened, did you have a lark?
He rose like anything, Buz chuckled delightedly. Chuck us your
handkerchief, old chap, mine's in that coatI'm only sorry for one
I told him if he wouldn't declare for Votes for Women he'd better
put up his shutters, and I know he thought I meant to rub it in about
his father's shopI didn't, it would have been beastly; but I'm
certain he thought so by the way he flushed up. He's a game little
beggar, he wouldn't give in, or palaver or promise. . . . Hullo, here's
two more of the family
The two more were Reggie Peel and Grantly. The Ffolliots were not
demonstrative, but they always shared good-luck or ill, therefore
Reggie and Grantly made a bee-line for Miss Gallup's cottage whenever
they understood what had happened. They knew nothing of Miss
Buttermish, and neither of the younger boys enlightened them.
Miss Gallup returned to find her parlour full of Ffolliots; and just
after her came her nephew, accompanied by General Grantly and Mrs
Ffolliot, who bore Buz away in the motor to Marlehouse wrapped in a
blanket and with the broken arm in a sling.
When they had all gonethe motor towards Marlehouse, the three
others to the ManorEloquent stood at the open gate for a minute or
two and then went out, shutting it after him very softly, so that
neither the three walking up the road, nor his aunt waiting at her open
door, should hear. Then he, too, set off in the direction of
Marlehouse. He had no intention whatever of walking there, but he could
not face his aunt just then, nor bear the torrent of questions and
comments that he knew would submerge him.
The last hour had been for him an epoch-making, a profound
experience, and he wanted, as his aunt would have said, to squeege his
A course of action intensely irritating to Miss Gallup, who awaited
his return, after seeing the Ffolliots off, with the utmost impatience.
Wherever could he have got to?
Em'ly-Alice, however, was longing to be questioned, and Miss Gallup
How did the poor young gentleman break his arm?
Fell off 'is bike, 'e did, and it must 'ave bin but a minute or two
after the young lady'd gone
Young lady! What young lady? Miss Gallup demanded sternly.
A young lady as come to see Mr Gallup. Miss Buttermish was 'er
name; I remember it most pertikler, because I thought what a funny
Buttermish, Buttermish, Miss Gallup repeated; where did she come
That I can't tell you, Miss; I was in the kitchen polishing the
teapot for your tea when there comes a knock at the door, and when I
opens it, there stood the young lady. 'Can I see Mr Gallup?' she says,
and knowing he was in the parlour I as't her in. She didn't stop long
and no sooner was she gone than I hears Mr Gallup runnin' upstairs an'
in and out, and presently 'e called out, 'Master Ffolliot's broken 'is
arm,' and went off in ever such an 'urry. I see 'im run down the
garden, and 'e 'ad 'is portmanteau in 'is 'and
Nonsense, Miss Gallup said crossly; what would he be doing with a
That I can't say, mum, but 'e 'ad it, and when 'e'd gone I took the
lamp in to the poor young gentleman wot was lyin' all 'uddled up on the
sofa'e said 'thank you' in a muffled voice that mournful, and I made
up the fire and waited a minute but 'e didn't say no more, so I come
away, an' in a few minutes the 'ouse seemed chock-full o' people. Where
they come from passes me
Well, get tea now, as quick as you can. I can't think where Mr
Gallup can have got to.
Miss Gallup lit a candle and went straight upstairs to her nephew's
room. His clothes were still in the drawers as she, herself, had
arranged thembut the suit-case, the smart new leather suit-case, with
E. A. G. in large black letters upon its lid, was gone.
Miss Gallup sank heavily on a chair. What could it mean?
She immediately connected the advent of the strange young lady and
the disappearance of her nephew's suit-case.
She took off her bonnet and cloak and did not put them away, but
left them lying on her bed; a sure sign of perturbation with Miss
Gallup, who was the tidiest of mortals.
She sought Em'ly-Alice in the bright little kitchen. What was the
young lady like? she asked.
Oh a superior young person, Miss, all in black.
Young, was she? Miss Gallup remarked suspiciously.
Yes, Miss, quite young, I should sayabout my own age; I couldn't
see 'er face very well, but she did talk like the gentry, very soft and
Did Mr Gallup seem pleased to see her?
That I couldn't say, Miss, I'm sure. I left 'em together and come
out and shut the door.
Miss Gallup went back to the parlour shaking her head.
There's a lot of them will be after him now 'e's stood for
Parliament, she reflected grimly; but I did not think they'd
have the face to track him to his aunt's house. She's hanging about the
lanes for him now I'll warrant. Miss Buttermish indeed!
CHAPTER XIV. THE ELECTION
Eloquent had taken a small furnished house in Marlehouse, and was
installed there with a housekeeper and manservant for the fortnight
preceding the election. The Moonstone, chief, and in fact only, hotel
in the town, was blue, and although the proprietor would have been
glad enough to secure Eloquent's custom, it was felt better for all
parties that he should make his headquarters elsewhere. He worked hard
and unceasingly, his agent was equally tireless, and it was only at the
last that Mr Brooke's supporters awoke to the fact that if he was to
represent Marlehouse again no stone should be left unturned. But it was
too late: Mr Brooke, elderly, amiable, and lethargic, was quite
incapable of either directing or controlling his more ardent
supporters, and their efforts on his behalf were singularly devoid of
tact. The Tory and Unionist ladies were grievous offenders in this
respect. They started a house-to-house canvass in the town, and those
possessed of carriages or motors parcelled out the surrounding villages
and did them, their methods being the reverse of conciliatory.
Indeed, had Mr Brooke in the smallest degree realised how these zealous
supporters were injuring his cause, his smiling optimism would have
been sadly shaken.
The day after the accident Eloquent called at Marlehouse Infirmary
to ask for Buz, and was informed that the arm had been set
successfully, that it was a bad break, but that the Rontgen rays had
been used, and it was going on satisfactorily.
He wondered if he ought to send flowers or fruit to the invalid, but
a vivid recollection of the look in Buz's eyes as he watched him pack
his suit-case decided him that any such manifestation of sympathy would
be unsuitable. He then, although he was so rushed that he could hardly
overtake his engagements, hired a motor to drive out to the Manor
House, and so hurried the chauffeur that they fell straightway into a
police trap and were warned.
He asked for Mrs Ffolliot, and Fusby blandly informed him that she
was in Marlehouse with Master Buz.
Is Miss Ffolliot at home? Eloquent asked boldly.
Miss Ffolliot is out huntin' with the young gentlemen, Fusby
So Eloquent was fain to get into his motor again, and quite forgot
to look in on his aunt on the way back.
The night before the election there was a Liberal meeting in the
Town Hall, and a certain section of the Tory party, a youthful and
irresponsible section it must be confessed, had arranged to attend the
meeting, and if possible bring it to nought. The ringleader in this
scheme was a young man named Rabbich, whose people some years before
had bought a large property in a village about four miles from
Mr Rabbich, senr., was an extremely wealthy man with many irons in
the fire, a man so busy that he found little time to look after either
his property or his family, and though he, himself, was generally
declared to be a very decent sort with no nonsense or side about
him, and of a praiseworthy liberality in the matter of subscriptions,
his wife and children did not find equal favour either in the eyes of
the villagers or those of his neighbours.
Mrs Rabbich was a foolish woman whose fetich was society with a big
S, and she idolised her only son, a rather vacuous youth who had just
managed to scrape into Sandhurst.
On the night before the election then, young Rabbich gave a dinner
at the Moonstone to some twenty youths of his own age, and Grantly
Ffolliot was of the party. Grantly did not like young Rabbich, and as a
rule steered clear of him in the hunting-field and elsewhere, though
civil enough if actually brought into contact with him. But though
Grantly did not like young Rabbich, he dearly loved any form of rag,
and as party feeling ran very high just then, the chance of disturbing
the last Liberal meeting before the election was far too entrancing to
be missed. He obtained his father's permission to go to the dinner (Mr
Ffolliot was never difficult when his sons asked for permission to go
from home), told his mother he would be late, obtained the key of the
side door from Fusby, and quite unintentionally left his family under
the impression that he was dining at the Rabbich's.
Mine host of the Moonstone provided an excellent dinner, and young
Rabbich kept calling for more champagne, so that it was a very
hilarious and somewhat unsteady party that presently, in a solid
phalanx, got wedged in at the very back of the Town Hall, which was
filled to overflowing. Twenty noisy young men in evening clothes, and
all together, made a fairly conspicuous feature in the meeting, and the
crowd, which was almost wholly Liberal in its sympathies, guessed they
were out for trouble.
During the first couple of speeches, which were short and
introductory, they were fairly quiet, only indulging in occasional
derisive comments. When Eloquent arose to address the meeting he was
greeted by such a storm of cheering from his supporters, as quite
drowned the hisses and cat-calls of the knuts at the back of the
But when he started to speak, their interruptions were incessant,
irrelevant, and in the case of young Rabbich, offensive.
Eloquent, who was long-sighted, clearly perceived Grantly Ffolliot,
flushed, with rumpled hair and gesticulating arms, in the group at the
back of the hall. Young Rabbich, whose father had made the greater part
of his money in butter and bacon, kept urging Eloquent to go back to
the shop, inquired the present price of socks and pyjamas, and whether
the clothes he wore just then were made in Germany?
Eloquent saw Grantly Ffolliot frown and say something to his
companion as young Rabbich continued his questions, and then quite
suddenly the whole of that end of the hall was in a turmoil, and one by
one the interrupters were hauled from their seats and forcibly ejected
from the meeting, in spite of desperate resistance on their part. After
that, peace was restored, and Eloquent continued his speech amidst the
His supporters cheered him to his house, and then departed to parade
the town, while their band played Hearts of Oak, the chosen war-song
of the Yallows. Meanwhile the Rabbich party had returned to the
Moonstone to compare their bruises and to get more drinks, and then
they sallied forth again to join a Blue procession, headed by a band
that played Bonnie Dundee, which is the battle-cry of the Blues.
The rival bands met, the rival processions met and locked, and there
was a regular shindy. Eloquent, very tired and rather depressed, as a
man usually is on the eve of any great struggle, heard the distant
tumult and the shouting, and thought he had better go out and see what
He had hardly got outside his own front door, which was in a
little-frequented street not far from the police-station, when he saw
two policemen on either side of a hatless, dishevelled, and unsteady
youth, who held one of them affectionately by the arm while the other
Another glance and he perceived that the hatless one was Grantly
Hullo! cried Eloquent, what's to do here?
Gentleman very disorderly, sir, throwing stones at windows of your
committee-room, fighting and brawling, and resisted violentlyso we're
taking him to the station.
He seems quiet enough now, Eloquent suggested.
Grantly smiled at him sleepily. Good chaps, policemen, he
murmured; fine beefy chaps.
Look here, said Eloquent, I'd much prefer you didn't charge him.
His people are well known; it will only create ill-feeling. I'll look
after him if you leave him with me.
The policemen looked at one another. . . . Of course, said the one
to whom Grantly clung so lovingly, we couldn't swear as it was him who
threw the stones, though he was among them as did.
He's only a boy, Eloquent continued, and he's drunk . . . it
would be a pity to make a public example of him . . . just nowdon't
you think?If you could oblige me in this . . . I'm very anxious that
the election should be fought with as little ill-feeling as possible.
Something changed hands.
What about the other young gentlemen, sir? asked the younger
With the other young gentlemen, Eloquent said ruthlessly, you can
deal exactly as you please, but if it can be managed don't charge any
With difficulty policeman number one detached himself from Grantly's
embrace and handed him over to Eloquent.
Good-bye, old chap, Grantly called fondly as his late prop
departed, when I'm as heavy as you, you won't cop me so easyeh,
Eloquent took the boy firmly by the arm and led him in. His steps
were uncertain and his speech was thick, but he was quite biddable, and
brimming over with loving kindness for all the world.
Eloquent took him into the sitting-room and placed him in a large
arm-chair. Grantly pushed his hair off his forehead and gazed about the
room in rather bewildered fashion, at the round table strewn with
papers, at the tray with a glass of milk and plate of sandwiches
standing on the bare little sideboard, at his pale, fagged host, who
stood on the hearthrug looking down at him.
As he met Eloquent's stern gaze he smiled sweetly at him, and he was
so like Mary when he smiled that Eloquent turned his eyes away in very
shame. It seemed sacrilege even to think of her in connection with
anything so degraded and disgusting as Grantly's state appeared to him
at that moment. His Nonconformist conscience awoke and fairly shouted
at him that he should have interfered to prevent the just retribution
that had overtaken this miserable misguided boy . . . but he was her
brother; he was the son of that gracious lady who was set as a fixed
star in the firmament of his admirations; he could not hold back when
there was a chance of saving him from this disgrace. For to be charged
with being drunk and disorderly in the Police Court appeared to
Eloquent just then as the lowest depths of ignominy.
Now what in the world, he asked presently, am I to do with you?
You can't go home in that state.
Bed, my dear chap, bed's what I'm for, . . . so sleepy, can hardly
hold up my head . . . any shake-down'll do
Grantly's head fell back against the chair, and he closed his eyes
in proof of his somnolence.
All right, said Eloquent, you come with me.
With some difficulty he got Grantly upstairs and into his own room.
Before the meeting he had told the servants they need not sit up for
him; his own was the only other bed made up in the house. Grantly lay
down upon it, muddy boots and all, and turned sideways with a sigh of
satisfaction; but just before he settled off he opened his eyes and
I say, if I was you I wouldn't go about with young Rabbichhe's a
wrong 'unyou may take it from me, he really ishe'll do you no
goodDon't you be seen about with him.
Thank you, Eloquent said dryly, I will follow your advice.
That's right, Grantly murmured, never be 'bove taking advice.
And in another minute he was fast asleep. Eloquent covered him with
a railway rug, thinking grimly the while that it seemed to have become
his mission in life to cover up prostrated Ffolliots.
He went downstairs, made up the fire, and lay down on the hard sofa
in his dining-room, and slept an intermittent feverish sleep, in which
dreadful visions of Mary between two policemen, mingled with the
declaration of the poll, which proclaimed Mr Brooke to have been
elected member for Marlehouse by an enormous majority.
At six o'clock he got up. In half an hour his servants would be
stirring, and Grantly must be got out of the house before they
He went to the kitchen, got a little teapot and cups, and made some
tea. Then he went to rouse Grantly.
This was difficult, as he couldn't raise his voice very much because
of the servants, and Grantly was sleeping heavily. At last, by a series
of shakes and soft punches, he succeeded in making him open his eyes.
Eloquent had already turned up the gas, and the room was full of light.
There is a theory extant that a man shows his real character when he
is suddenly aroused out of sleep. That if he is naturally surly, he
will be surly then; if he is of an amiable disposition, he is
Grantly sat up with a start and swung his feet off the bed. Mr
Gallup, he said very gently, I can't exactly remember what I'm doing
here, but I do apologise.
That's all right, Eloquent said awkwardly. I thought perhaps
you'd like to get home before the servants were about, and it's six
o'clock. Come and have a cup of tea.
May I wash my face? Grantly asked meekly.
This accomplished, he went downstairs and drank the cup of tea
Eloquent had provided for him. His host lent him a bicycle and speeded
him on his way. At the door Grantly paused to say in a mumbling voice:
I don't know, sir, why you've been so awfully decent to me, but will
you remember this? that if ever I can do anything for you, it would be
very generous of you to tell mewill you remember this?
I will remember, said Eloquent.
As Grantly rode away Eloquent was filled with self-reproach, for he
had not said one word either of warning or rebuke, and he had been
brought up to believe in the value of the word in season.
Grantly pedalled as hard as he could through the dark deserted
roads, and though his head was racking and he felt, as he put it, like
nothing on earth, he covered the five miles between Marlehouse and
Redmarley in under half an hour. He went round to the side door and
felt for the key, as he hoped to slip in without meeting any of the
servants who were, he saw by stray lights, just astir.
That key was nowhere to be found.
He tried every pocket in his overcoat, his tail coat, his white
waistcoat, his trousers, all in vain. That key was gone; lost!
There was nothing for it but to try Mary's window. Parker slept in
her room, but Parker would never bark at any member of the family. All
the bedroom windows at Redmarley were lattice, and Mary's, at the back
of the house on the first floor, stood open about a foot.
Parker, Grantly called softly, Parker, old chap, rouse her up and
ask her to let me in.
An old wistaria grew under the window with thick knotted stems.
Grantly climbed up this, and although it was very dark he was aware of
something dimly white at the window. Parker, much longer in the leg
than any well-bred fox-terrier has a right to be, was standing on his
hind legs thrusting his head out in silent welcome.
Go and rouse her up, old chap, Grantly whispered. I want her to
open the window wide enough for me to get through.
All the windows at the Manor House, open or shut, had patent catches
that it was impossible to undo from the outside.
He heard Parker jump on Mary's bed and probably lick her face, then
a sleepy What is it, old dog, what's the matter? and a soft movement
as Mary raised herself on her elbow and switched on the light.
Mary, in a penetrating whisper, let me in, I've lost that
In a moment Mary was over at the window, undid the catches, and
Grantly scrambled through.
Grantly! Mary exclaimed. What on earth is the matter? You look
Grantly caught sight of himself in her long glass and agreed with
He was covered with mud from head to foot, his overcoat was torn,
his white tie was gone, his beautiful smooth hair, with the neat ripple
at the temples, stood on end in ragged locks; in fact he was as unlike
the Knut of ordinary life as he could well be.
Get into bed, Mary, he said, you'll catch cold . . .
Mary, looking very tall in her straight white nightgown, turned
slowly and got into bed. Now tell me, she said.
Grantly went and sat at the end of her bed and Parker joined him,
cuddling up against him and trying to lick his face. It mattered
nothing to Parker that he was ragged and dirty and disreputable;
nothing that he might have committed any crime in the rogues' calendar.
He was one of the family, he was home, he had evidently been in
trouble, he needed comfort, therefore Parker made much of him. Grantly
felt this and was vaguely cheered.
Now, said Mary again, and switched off the light; you can have
the eiderdown if you're cold.
Well, if you must know, said Grantly, we went to the Radical
meeting and got chucked out.
Who went? I thought you were dining with the Rabbiches.
Not the Rabbiches, a Rabbich, and an insufferable
bounder at that; but he gave us a jolly good dinner, champagne flowed.
And you got drunk? Oh, Grantly!
Well, no; I shouldn't describe it thus crudelylike the Irishman,
I prefer to say 'having drink taken.'
Well, 'having drink taken'then?
After we were chucked out for interrupting (it was a rag) we
went back to the Moonstone.
To the Moonstone, Mary repeated; why there?
Because we dined there, my dear. Young Rabbich gave the feast; it
was all arranged beforehand. We meant to spoil that meeting, but we
began too soon, and they were too strong for us, and . . . he's an ass,
and shouted out all sorts of things he shouldn'twe deserved what we
I'm not very clear what happened then, except that there was the
most tremendous shindy in the street, and fur was flying like anything,
and the next I know was two bobbies had got me, and your friend Gallup
squared them and took me home and put me to bed . . . and here I am.
Mr Gallup, Mary repeated incredulously; you've been to bed in his
You've got it, my sister; lay on his bed just as I am . . . and he
woke me at six and sent me home on his bicycle.
But whywhy should he have interfered? I should have thought he'd
have been glad for you to be taken up, interrupting his meeting
and being on the other side . . . and everything.
Well, anyway, that's what he did, and whatever his motives may have
been it was jolly decent of him . . . and . . . here Grantly lowered
his voice to the faintest mumble, he never said a word of reproof or
exhortation . . . I tell you he behaved like a gentleman. What's to be
Nothing, said Mary decidedly. You've played the fool, and by the
mercy of Providence you've got off uncommonly cheap. It would worry
mother horribly if she knew, and as for father . . . well you know what
he thinks of people who can't carry their liquor like gentlemen,
and grandfather too . . . and . . . oh, Grantlyfather's not going
South till the very end of January; he decided to-night that as the
weather was so mild he'd wait till then. So it would never do if
it was to come out, your life would be unbearable, all of our lives;
he'd say it was the Grantly strain coming outyou know how he blames
every bit of bad in us on mother's people.
I know, groaned Grantly, I know.
Well, anyway, Mary said in quite a different tone, there's one
thing we've got to remember, and that is we must be uncommonly civil to
that young man if we happen to meet himhe's put us under an
I know . . . I know, that's what I feel, and I shall never have an
easy minute till I've done something for him . . . and I don't see
anything I can do with the pater like he is and all. Isn't it a
beastly state of things?
In the darkness Mary leant forward and stroked the tousled head bent
down over Parker.
Poor old boy, she said softly, poor old boy, and Parker licked
something that tasted salt off the end of his nose.
When Grantly left his sister's room Parker went with him.
* * * * * *
Eloquent's housekeeper found the missing key under his bed, and he
sent it out to the Manor House that morning, addressed to Grantly, in a
sealed envelope by special messenger.
In the evening the poll was declared in Marlehouse, and the Liberal
candidate was elected by a majority of three hundred and forty-nine
CHAPTER XV. OF THINGS IN GENERAL
The result of the election was no surprise to the defeated party.
The honest among them acknowledged that they deserved to be beaten, and
they felt no personal rancour against Eloquent.
If Marlehouse was unfortunate enough to be represented by a Radical,
they preferred that the Radical should be a Marlehouse man and not some
carpet-bagger imported from South Wales. Eloquent's bearing, both
during the contest and afterwards, was acknowledged to be modest and
suitable. If he was lacking in geniality and address, he was, at all
events, neither bumptious nor servile. His lenity towards the youths
who had done their best to break up his meeting and wreck his committee
rooms had leaked out, and gained for him, if not friends, at least
toleration among several leading Conservatives who had been his
Mary, Grantly, and Buz Ffolliot all felt a sneaking satisfaction
that he had got in. A satisfaction they in no wise dared to
express, for Mr Ffolliot was really much upset at the result of the
election; feeling it something of a personal insult that one so closely
associated with a ready-made clothes' shop, a shop in his own nearest
town, should represent him in Parliament. Mr Ffolliot would have
preferred the carpet-bagger.
Mary, who cared as little as she knew about politics, was pleased.
Because Eloquent had been decent to Grantly, she was glad he had got
what he wanted, though why he should ardently desire that particular
thing she did not attempt to understand. Grantly was sincerely grateful
to Eloquent for getting him out of what would undoubtedly have been a
most colossal row, had any hint of his conduct at Marlehouse on the eve
of the election reached his father's ears.
Neither Grantly nor Mary knew anything of the Miss Buttermish
episode. For Buz, since the accident, was basking in the sympathy of
his family, and had no intention of diverting the stream of favours
that flowed over him by any revelations they might not wholly approve.
Buz, therefore, had his own reasons, unshared by anyone but Uz (who was
silent as the grave in all that concerned his twin), for gratitude to
Eloquent. Grantly and Buz unconsciously shared a rather unwilling
admiration for the little, common-looking man who could do a good turn
and hold his tongue, evidently expecting neither recognition nor
remembrance. For Eloquent expected neither, and yet he could not forget
the real earnestness of Grantly Ffolliot's parting words.
Could such a foolish youth be trusted to mean what he said? or was
it only the surface courtesy that seemed to come so easily to the
classes Eloquent still regarded with mistrust and suspicion?
He longed to test Grantly Ffolliot.
An opportunity came sooner than he expected. Parliament did not meet
till the end of the month, and although he went to London a good deal
on varied business, he kept on the little house in his native town,
wrote liberal cheques for all the charities, opened a Baptist bazaar,
and generally did his duty according to his lights and the instructions
of his agent.
In the third week of January he was asked to kick off at a
soccer match to be held in Marlehouse. This was rather an event, as
two important teams from a distance were for some reason or other to
play there. The Marlehouse folk played Rugger as a rule, but this
match was regarded in the light of a curiosity; people would come in
from miles round, and hordes of mechanics would flock over from
Garchester, the county town. It was considered quite a big sporting
event, and his agent informed Eloquent that a great honour had been
Eloquent appeared duly impressed and accepted the invitation.
Then it occurred to him that never in his life had he seen a
football match of any kind.
Games were not compulsory at the Grammar School, and Eloquent had no
natural inclination to play them. When a little boy he had generally
gone for a walk with his father or his aunt on a half-holiday. As he
grew older he either attended extra classes at the science school or
read for himself notable books bearing upon the political history of
the last fifty years. Games had no place in his scheme of existence.
His father, most certainly, had never played games and had no desire
that Eloquent should do so; as for going to watch other people play
themsuch a proceeding would have been dismissed by the elder Mr
Gallup as foolhardy nonsense. Serious-minded men had no time for such
Nevertheless it became increasingly evident to Eloquent that a large
number of his constituentswhether they actually took part in what he
persisted in calling these pastimes or notwere very keenly
interested in watching others do so, and Eloquent was consumed by
anxiety as to how he was to discover what it was he was expected to do.
There were plenty of his political supporters who were not only able
but would have been most willing to solve his difficulty, but he
dreaded the inevitable confession of his ignorance. They would be kind
enough, he was sure of that, but would they make game of his ignorance
afterwards? Would they talk?
He was pretty sure they would.
Eloquent hated talk. Grantly and Buz Ffolliot had each recognised
and admired that quality in him, and it is possible that he had vaguely
discerned a kindred reticence in these feather-brained boys.
He distrusted all his political allies in Marlehouse in this matter
of the kick-off.
Why then should Grantly Ffolliot occur to him as a person able and
likely to help him in this dilemma?
He was pretty sure that Grantly played football. Soldiers did these
things, and Grantly was going to be a soldier. A soldier, in Eloquent's
mind, epitomised all that was useless, idle, luxurious, and
destructive. Mr Gallup and his friends had disapproved of the Transvaal
War; our reverses did not affect them personally, for they had no
friends at the front, and our long-deferred victories left them cold.
The flame of Eloquent's enthusiasm was fanned at school, only to be
quenched at home by the wet blanket of his father's disapproval. Sturdy
Miss Gallup snapped at them both, and knitted helmets and mittens and
sent socks and handkerchiefs and cocoa to the Redmarley men in South
Africa; and her brother gave her the socks and handkerchiefs out of
stock, but under protest.
Eloquent knew no soldiers, either officers or in the ranks. He had
been taught to look upon the private as almost always drawn from the
less reputable of the working classes, and although he acknowledged
that officers might, some of them, be hard-working and intelligent, he
was inclined to regard them with suspicion.
Suppose he did ask Grantly Ffolliot about this ridiculous kick-off,
and Grantly went about making fun of him afterwards?
Then I shall know, he said to himself. All the same it appeared to
him that Grantly Ffolliot was the only possible person to ask.
It came about quite easily. One morning he was coming down the steps
of the bank in Marlehouse and saw Grantly on horseback waiting at the
curb till someone should turn up to hold his horse while he went in. He
had ridden in to cash a cheque for his mother. The main street was very
empty and no available loafer was to be seen.
As Grantly caught sight of Eloquent descending the steps he smiled
his charming smile. Hullo, I've never seen you since the election.
Heartiest grats, the boy called cheerily. Eloquent went up to him and
held out his hand. He looked up and down the street, no one was within
earshot. I've a favour to ask you, Mr Ffolliot, he said in a low
tone, but you must promise to refuse at once if you have any
Grantly leant down to him, smiling more broadly than ever. That's
awfully decent of you, he said, and he meant it.
Again Eloquent cast an anxious look up and down the street. They've
asked me to kick-off at the match on Saturday, and . . . you'll think
me extraordinarily ignorant . . . I've no idea what one does. Can I
learn in the time?
Eloquent's always rosy face was almost purple with the effort he had
Grantly, on the contrary, appeared quite unmoved. He fixed his eyes
on his horse's left ear and said easily: It's the simplest thing in
the world. All we want is a field and a ball, and we've got both at
home. At least . . . not a soccer ballbut I don't think that matters.
When will you come?
When may I come?
Meet me this afternoon in the field next but one behind the church.
There's never anyone there, and we'll fix it up.
All right, said Eloquent. Many thanks . . . I suppose you think
it very absurd? he added nervously.
This time Grantly did not look at Mafeking's left ear, he looked
straight into Eloquent's uplifted eyes, saying slowly:
I don't see that I'm called upon to think anything about it. You've
done another kind thing in asking me. Why should you think I don't see
And in spite of himself Eloquent mumbled, I beg your pardon.
This afternoon then, at three-thirty sharpgood-day.
A loafer hurried up at this moment and Grantly swung off his horse
and ran up the steps into the bank.
Eloquent looked after the graceful figure in the well-cut riding
clothes and sighed
If I'd been like himself he'd have asked me to hold his horse while
he went in, but things being as they are, he wouldn't, he reflected
* * * * * *
Only one belonging to a large family knows how difficult it is to do
anything by one's self.
That afternoon it seemed to Grantly that each member of the Manor
House party wanted him for something, and he offended every one of them
by ungraciously refusing to accompany each one in turn.
His mother and Mary were driving into Marlehouse and wanted him to
come and hold the horse while they went into the different shops, but
he excused himself on the score of his morning's errand, and Uz was
told off for the duty, greatly to his disgust. Reggie asked Grantly to
ride with him, but Grantly complained of fatigue, and Reggie, who knew
perfectly well that the excuse was invalid, called him a slacker and
started forth huffily alone, mentally animadverting on the edge
displayed by the new type of cadet.
Nearly ten years' service gave Reggie the right to talk regretfully
of the stern school he had been brought up in.
Ger, on the previous day, had been sent to his grandparents at
Woolwich by command; and the Kitten was going with Thirza to a
children's party. She was therefore made to lie down for an hour after
lunchso she was disposed of. There remained only Buz, and Buz was on
the prowl seeking someone to amuse him. His arm was still in a sling
and he expected sympathy. He shadowed Grantly till nearly half-past
three, when that gentleman appeared in the back passage clad in sweater
and shorts, with a Rugger ball under his arm.
Hullo, cried Buz, where are you off to?
I'm going to practise drop-kicks . . . by myself, Grantly answered
Why can't I come? I could kick even if I can't use this beastly
No, it's too cold for you to stand about.
Bosh; I can wrap myself in a railway rug if it comes to that.
It needn't come to that. You go for a sharp walk or else take a
book and amuse yourself. I must be off.
Well you are a selfish curmudgeon, Buz exclaimed in real
astonishment. Why this sudden passion for solitude?
Grantly banged the door in Buz's face, regardless of the warning
cards, and set off to run. Buz opened the door and looked after him,
noted the direction, nodded his head thrice and nipped upstairs to
Grantly's room, where he abstracted his field-glasses from their case
hanging on a peg behind the door. He hung them round his neck by the
short black strap, tied a sweater over his shoulders, and went out by
the side door in quite a different direction from that taken by his
* * * * * *
Oblivious of the surgeon's strict injunctions that he was on no
account to run or risk a fall of any kind, holding the glasses with his
free hand so that they shouldn't drag on his neck, directly he was
clear of the house he broke into the swinging steady trot that had won
him the half-mile under fifteen in the last school sports; climbed two
gates and jumped a ditch, finally arriving at the top of a small hill,
the very highest point on the Manor property. From this eminence he
surveyed the country round, and speedily, without the aid of the
field-glasses, discerned his brother kicking a football well into the
centre of the field, while the Liberal member for Marlehouse ran after
it and tried somewhat feebly to kick it back.
Well I'm jiggered! Buz exclaimed in breathless astonishment; so
he knows him too. Whatever are they playing at?
He fixed the field-glasses, watching intently, then dropped them and
rubbed his eyes, took them up again and gazed fixedly, and so absorbed
was he that he positively leapt into the air when he heard his father's
voice close beside him asking mildly, What are you watching so
The lovely winter afternoon had tempted Mr Ffolliot out. Usually Mrs
Ffolliot accompanied him on his rare walks, but this afternoon he only
decided to go out after she had left for Marlehouse. Like Buz, he
sought the highest point of his estate, in his case that he might
complacently survey its many acres.
Buz dropped the glasses so that they hung by their strap and swung
round, facing his father with his back to the distant figures with the
football, seized the glasses again and gazed into the copse, exclaiming
eagerly, A fox, sir; perhaps you could see him if you're quick,
pulled the strap over his head, gave the glasses a dextrous twist,
entirely destroying their focus, and handed them to his father, who
fiddled about for some time before he could see anything at all.
A fox, Mr Ffolliot repeated, in the copse. We had better go and
warn Willets to look out for his ducks and chickens.
I don't suppose he'll stay, sir, but perhaps it would be as well.
Shall I take the glasses, father, they're rather heavy?
But Mr Ffolliot had got them focussed and was leisurely surveying
the distant scene; gradually turning so that in another moment he would
bear directly on the field where Grantly and Eloquent were now to be
seen standing in earnest conversation.
There he is, shouted the mendacious Buz, seizing his father by the
arm so violently that he almost knocked him down, over there towards
the house; don't you see him? a big dog fox with a splendid brush
Imperceptibly Buz had propelled his father down the slope on the
side farthest from his brother.
My dear Hilary, Mr Ffolliot exclaimed, straightening his hat,
which had become disarranged in the violence of his son's impact, one
would think no one had ever seen a fox before; why be so excited about
But didn't you see him, sir? Buz persisted. There he goes close
by the garden wall; oh, do look.
Mr Ffolliot looked for all he was worth. He twiddled the glasses and
put them out of focus, but naturally he failed to behold the mythical
fox which was the product of his offspring's fertile brain.
They were at the bottom of the slope now, and Buz gave a sigh of
I thought I saw two youths in the five-acre field, Mr Ffolliot
remarked presently; what were they doing?
Practising footer, I fancy, Buz said easily, thankful that at last
he could safely speak the truth.
Ah, said Mr Ffolliot, it is extraordinary what a lot of time the
working classes seem able to spend upon games nowadays. Still, I'm
always glad they should play rather than merely watch. It is that
watching and not doing that saps the moral as well as the physical
strength of the nation.
It's Thursday, you see, fatherearly closing, Buz suggested.
Well, well, I'm glad they should have their game. Shall we stroll
round and have a look at them?
Oh I wouldn't, if I were you, father, they'd stop directly. These
village chaps are always so shy. It would spoil their afternoon.
Would it? Mr Ffolliot asked dubiously; would it? I should have
thought they would have found encouragement in the fact that their
Squire took an interest in their sports.
I don't think so, Buz said decidedly; they hate to be looked at
when they're practising.
Very well, very well, if you think so, Mr Ffolliot said with
surprising meekness; we'll go and see Willets instead, and tell him
about that fox.
I don't think I'd bother him, the fox is miles away by now.
Well, where shall we go? Mr Ffolliot demanded testily; I've come
out to walk with you, and you do nothing but object to every direction
Let us, said Buz, praying for inspiration, let us go straight on
till we come to a cleaner bit.
Mr Ffolliot looked ruefully at his boots. It is wet, he remarked,
mind you don't slip with that arm of yours.
Shall I take the glasses, father? Buz asked politely.
Yes, do, though I'm not sure that I wholly approve of Grantly
lending these expensive glasses to you younger ones. I must speak to
him about it.
Buz sighed heavily.
* * * * * *
Just once more did Eloquent see Mary before Parliament met. It was
in a shop in Marlehouse the day after he had received his lesson in
kicking off, and he was buying ties. Eloquent was critical about ties,
he had by long apprenticeship penetrated to the true inwardness of
their importance, and this afternoon he was very difficult to please.
Many boxes were laid upon the counter before him, the counter was
strewn with neckwear, and yet he had only found one to his liking.
While the assistant was away seeking others from distant shelves,
Eloquent busied himself in arranging the scattered ties carefully in
their proper boxes. For him it was a perfectly natural thing to do, but
he happened to look into the mirror that faced the counter, and in it
he beheld Mary Ffolliot seated at the counter behind him, and she was
watching him with fascinated interest. Buz was with her and they were
buying socks. Eloquent's deft hands dropped to his sides and he turned
furiously red. For no one knew better than he that it is not usual for
a customer to arrange goods in a shop.
The young lady in the mirror had discreetly turned her head away,
the assistant came back, Eloquent bought two ties without having the
least idea what they were like, and then he heard a voice behind him
saying, How do you do, Mr Gallupwe've not seen you since the
election to congratulate you, and Mary was standing at his side
holding out her hand.
He shook hands with Mary, he shook hands with Buz, he mumbled
something incoherent, and they were gone.
The Liberal member for Marlehouse rushed from the shop in an
opposite direction without taking or paying for his ties, and the
astute assistant packed them up, having added three that Eloquent did
not buy, for the good of the trade.
CHAPTER XVI. MAINLY ABOUT REGINALD
The holidays had started badly, there was no doubt about that. All
the young Ffolliots were agreed about it. First Buz broke his arm on
Boxing-day. That was upsetting in itself, and Buz, as an invalid, was a
terrible nuisance. Then the Ganpies had to return to Woolwich much
sooner than they had expected: another matter for gloom and woe. And
finally came the crushing intelligence that Mr Ffolliot did not intend
to start for his oasis till the beginning of February, after the twins
had gone back to school and Grantly to the Shop. And this was
considered the very limit. Fate had done its worst.
No party: no relaxation of the rules as to absence of noise and
presence of perfect regularity and punctuality at meals: no cheerful
gathering together of neighbouring families for all sorts of
junkettings; in fact, none of the usual features of the last fortnight
of the Christmas holidays. And yet, in looking back afterwards, the
young Ffolliots, with, perhaps, the exception of the unfortunate Buz,
would have confessed that on the whole they had had rather a good time.
Mary, in particular, would have owned frankly, had she been asked, that
she had never enjoyed a holiday more.
For one thing, the big boys had been so nice to her, and by the
big boys she meant Grantly and Reggie Peel.
She and Grantly had always been great allies. When they were little
they did everything together, for the three and a half years that
separated Mary from the twins seemed, till they should all get into the
twenties, an immeasurable distance. But Grantly hitherto had been no
more polite and considerate than the average brother. He was both
critical and plain-spoken, and poor Mary had suffered many things at
his hands . . . till this holiday; and it never occurred to her that
this agreeable change in Grantly's attitude might be due to some
alteration in herself rather than in him.
Mary was far too interested in life with a big L to waste any time
upon self-analysis or introspection. Neither she nor Grantly had ever
referred to the night of young Rabbich's dinner at the Moonstone, but
since that night she had been distinctly conscious of a slightly more
respectful quality in his manner towards her. The tendency was
indefinable, illusive, but it was there, and simple-minded Mary only
reflected gratefully that Grantly was growing up awfully nice.
Regarding Reggie Peel, however, she did venture to think that she
must be rather more attractive than she used to be; and complacently
attributed his new gentleness to the fact that she had put up her hair
since she last saw him.
Gentleness was by no means one of Reggie's chief characteristics. He
was ruthless where his own ends were concerned, tirelessly hard
working, amusing, and of a caustic tongue: a cheerful pessimist who
expected the very least of his fellow-creatures, until such time as
they had given some proof that he might expect more. Yet there were a
favoured few, a very few, whom he took for granted thankfully, and Mary
had long known that her mother was one of those few. Lately she had
realised with a startled thrill of gratification that she, too, had
stepped out of the rank and file to take her place among those chosen
ones, for Reggie had confided to her a secret that none of the others,
not even her mother, knew.
Among the many serious periodicals of strictly Imperial tone that Mr
Ffolliot read, was one that from time to time indulged its readers with
exceptionally well-written short stories. Quite recently a couple of
these stories had dealt with military subjects, and were signed
Ubique. The stories were striking, strong, and evidently from the pen
of one who knew his ground. Mr Ffolliot admired them, and graciously
drew the attention of his family to them. One had appeared in the
January number, and Mrs Ffolliot and Mary fell foul of it because it
was too painful. They thought it pitiless, even savage, in its
inexorable disregard of the individual and deification of the Cause.
Grantly, of course, upheld the writer. The male of the species prides
itself on inhumanity in youth. Mr Ffolliot approved the story from the
artistic standpoint, and the General defended it on the score of its
absolute truth. Reggie, quite contrary to custom, gave no opinion at
all till he was asked by Mary, one day when they were riding together.
As she expected, he defended the writer's stern realism. But what
she did not expect was that he seemed to make a personal matter of it,
almost imploring her to see eye to eye with him, which she wholly
failed to do.
I think he must be a terribly hard man, that 'Ubique,' she said at
last, with no toleration or compassion. He talks as though
incompetence were an unpardonable crime.
So it is; if you undertake a job you ought to see that you're fit
to carry it out.
You can't always be sure. . . . You may do your best and . . .
I grant you some people's best is a very poor best, but in this
case the man let a flabby humanitarianism take the place of his
judgment, and he caused far more misery in the end. Can't you see
All the same, Mary said decidedly, I wouldn't like to fall into
the hands of that man, the Ubique man I mean, not the failure. He must
be a cold-blooded wretch, or he couldn't write such things. It makes me
And Mary shivered as she spoke.
He must be a beast, she added.
They were walking their horses along the turf at the side of the
road skirting the woods. Reggie pulled up and Mary stopped also a
little in front.
Got a stone? she asked carelessly.
Reggie did not answer or dismount, and she turned in her saddle to
look at him, to meet his crooked, whimsical smile. Suddenly he dropped
his reins and beat his breast, exclaiming melodramatically: And Nathan
said unto David, 'Thou art the man.'
What on earth do you mean? Mary asked, bewildered. What man? do
you mean you'd behave like the man in the story, or you wouldn't, or .
. . Oh, Reggie, you don't mean to say you wrote it yourself?
You have spoken.
You must be awfully clever! Mary ejaculated with awe-struck
My cleverness will not be of much comfort to me if you persist in
your wrong-headed opinion that the man who wrote that story is a
Oh, that's different. I know you, you see, and you're not a beast.
You aren't really like that.
But I am. That's the real me. It is truly; the real, deep-down me,
the me that's worth anything.
No, said Mary, shaking her head, I don't believe it; you have
some consideration for other people.
Not in that sense; if there was anything, any big thing, I had to
put throughno one should stand in my way. And it's the same with
anything I want very much. I go straight for it, and it matters nothing
to me who gets knocked down on the route . . . and so you'll find,
Reggie added very low.
They were looking each other straight in the face, Mary a little
breathless and wondering: And so you'll find, Reggie repeated a
little louder, and there was a look in his eyes that caused Mary to
drop hers, and she rode on.
Reggie caught her up.
Are you sorry, Mary? he asked gently.
Well . . . about everything. The story, and my ferocious mental
attitude, and all the rest of it.
He laid his hand on her horse's neck, and leaned forward to look in
her face. They were riding very close together, and Mary was too near
the hedge to put more distance between them.
I can't be sorry you write so well, she said slowly, it is very
excitingis the news for publication or not?
I'd be grateful if you'd say nothing as yetyou see I've only done
these two, and what's a couple of short stories? Besides, it's not
really my job, only it's amusing, and one can rub it in that way, and
reach a larger class than by the strictly military articleno one
knows anything about it except the editor of The Point of View
and youI'd rather you didn't mention it, if you don't mind.
Of course I shan't mention it, but I shall look out for 'Ubique'
with much greater interest.
And still think him a beast?
That depends on what he writes.
I'm not so much concerned about what you think of Ubique as that
you should remember that I mean what I say.
You say a good many absurd things.
Yes, but this is not absurdwhen I want a thing very much . . .
Oh, you needn't say all that again. Be a silent, strong man like
the heroes in Seton Merriman, they're much the best kind.
I'm not particularly silent, but I flatter myself that . . .
It's a shame to crawl over this lovely grasscome on and have a
canter, said Mary.
That night Reggie Peel sat long by his bedroom fire. The bedroom
fire was a concession to his acknowledged grown-upness. The young
Ffolliots were allowed no bedroom fires. Only when suffering from bad
colds or in the very severest weather was a fire granted to any child
out of the nursery. But Reggie, almost a captain now, was popular with
the servants, especially with the stern Sophia, head-housemaid, and she
decreed that he had reached the status of a visitor, and must,
therefore, have a fire in his bedroom at night. He sat before it now,
swinging the poker which had just stirred it to a cheerful blaze. He
had carefully switched off the light, for they were very economical of
the electric light at Redmarley. It had cost such a lot to put in.
Five years ago he and General Grantly between them had supervised
its installation, and the instruction of the head-gardener in the
management of the dynamo-room; each going up and down, as often as they
could get away, to share the discomfort with Mrs Ffolliot, and look
after the men. Mrs Grantly was, for once, almost satisfied, for she had
carried off all the available children. Mr Ffolliot had decreed that
the work should be done while he was in the South of France, and
expressed a strong desire that all should be in order before his
return; and it was finished, for he stayed away seven weeks.
And Reggie sat remembering all this, five years ago; and how just
before the children were sent to their grandmother Mary used to want to
sit on his knee, and how he would thrust her off with insulting remarks
as to her weight and her personal appearance generally.
She was a good deal heavier now, he reflected, and yet
Reggie had come to the parting of the ways, and had decided which he
Like most ambitious young men he had, so far, taken as his motto a
couplet, which, through over-usage, has become a platitude
High hopes faint on a warm hearth-stone,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.
Reggie had accepted this as an incontrovertible truth impossible to
dispute; but then he had never until lately felt the smallest desire to
travel through life accompanied by any one person. He had fallen in and
out of love as often as was wholesome or possible for so hard-working a
young man, and always looked upon the experience as an agreeable
relaxation, as it undoubtedly is. But never for one moment did he allow
such evanescent attachments to turn him a hair's breadth out of his
course. Now something had happened to him, and he knew that for the
future the platitude had become a lie, and that the only incentive
either to high hopes or their fulfilment lay in the prospect of a
hearth-stone shared by the girl who a few hours ago declared that she
would not like to fall into that man's hands.
Reggie was very modern. He built no altar to Mary in his heart nor
did he set her image in a sacred shrine apart. He had no use for anyone
in a shrine. He wanted a comrade, and he craved this particular comrade
with all the intensity of a well-disciplined, entirely practical
nature. He was not in the least conceited, but he knew that if he lived
he would get there, and the fact that he never had had, or ever would
have, sixpence beyond the pay he earned did not deter him in his quest
a single whit. Mary wouldn't have sixpence either. He knew the
Redmarley rent-roll to a halfpenny. Mrs Ffolliot frankly talked over
her affairs with him ever since he left Woolwich, and more than once
his shrewd judgment unravelled some tangle which Mr Ffolliot's
singularly unbusiness-like habits had created. He knew very well that
were it not for General Grantly the boys could never have got the
chance each was to get. That General Grantly was spending the money he
would have left his daughter at his death in helping her children now
when they needed it most. Mary and he were young and strong. They could
rough it at first. Afterwardshe had no fears about that afterwards if
But would Mary care?
Reggie felt none of the qualms of a more sensitive man in making
love to a very young girl who might certainly, both as regarded looks
and social position, be expected to make an infinitely better marriage.
He was assailed by no misgivings as to what might be thought of the man
who made use of his position as almost a son of the house to make love
to this girl hardly out of the schoolroom.
It was Mr Ffolliot's business to guard against such possibilities.
If, however, he might be called unscrupulous on that score, his
sense of fairness was stronger than his delicacy; for where the latter
proved no obstacle, the former decided him that it would not be playing
the game to make open love to Mary till she had been out a bit, and
he laid down the poker with a smothered oath.
He had gone further than he intended that afternoon and he was
sorrybut not very sorry. There's no harm in letting her know I'm in
the running, he reflected. I hope it will sink in. Otherwise she
might stick me down in the same row with Grantly and the twins, which
is the last thing in the world I want.
He was glad he had told her about that story, even if it revealed
him in an unfavourable light. If she ever cares for me, and God help
me if she doesn'tshe must care for me as I really am, an ugly devil
with some brains and a queer temper. I'll risk no disillusionment
afterwards. She must see plenty of other chaps firstconfound them;
but if any one out of the lot shows signs of making a dart I'll cut in
first, I won't wait another minute, I'm damned if I will.
And suddenly conscious that he had spoken aloud, Reggie undressed
and went to bed, knowing full well that even though the hearth-stone
should be eternally cold, and the high hopes flattened beyond all
possible recognition, there yet remained to him something passing the
love of women.
For Reggie was not without an altar and a secret shrine, though not
even the figure of the woman he loved best would ever fill it. The
sacred fire of his devotion burned with a steady flame that illumined
his whole life, though not even to himself did he confess the vows he
One must choose one's own mystery: the great thing is to have one.
And if prayer be the daily expression to the soul of the desire to do
the right thing, then Reggie prayed without ceasing that he might do
his WORK, and do it well. His profession was his God, and he served
faithfully and with a single heart.
* * * * * *
Mary had no fire to sit over, but all the same she dawdled
throughout her undressing and, unlike Reggie, wasted the precious
electric light. She had a great deal to think about, for Grantly and
Reggie were not the only people to confide in Mary that holiday. The
day before he left, General Grantly had taken her for a walk, sworn her
to secrecy, and then had sprung upon her a most astounding project. No
other than that he and Mrs Grantly should take her mother with them
when they went to the South of France for Marchtheir mother without
any of them.
She has never had a real holiday by herself since she was married,
the General said, and my idea is that she should come with us directly
your father gets back. The boys will be at schoolGrantly at the Shop.
There will only be the two little ones and your father to consider, and
you could look after them. I'd like to take you too, my dear, but I
don't fancy your mother could be persuaded to leave your father unless
there was someone to see to things for him.
She'd never leave father alone, Mary said decidedly; but she
might, oh, she might go now I'm really grown up. I should love her to
go. Don't you thinkMary's voice was very wistfulthat she's been
looking a little tired lately . . . not quite so beautiful . . . as
Ah, you've noticed it toothat settles itnot a word, mind; if
it's sprung upon her at a few days' notice it may come off. If she has
time to think she'll discover insurmountable difficulties. Strategy, my
dear, strategy must be our watchword.
But father, Mary suggested dubiously, who's going to manage him?
I think, the General said grimly, I think we may safely leave
your father in Grannie's hands. She has undertaken to square him, and,
what she undertakesI have never known her fail to put through.
It will be most extraordinary to have mother go off for quite a
long time by herself, Mary said thoughtfully.
She won't be by herself, she'll be with her father and
mother; has it never occurred to you as possible that sometimes we
might like our daughter to ourselves?
Mary turned an astonished face towards her grandfather, exclaiming
No, Ganpy, it certainly never has . . . before.
CHAPTER XVII. THE RAM-CORPS ANGEL
Grannie was writing letters. Grandfather had gone into London to the
War Office, and it was only ten o'clock. Grannie was safe for an hour
or two, for she was sending out notices about something, and that
always took a long time.
Ger was rather at a loose end, but with the admirable spirit of the
adventurous for making the best of things, he decided to go forth and
see what he could see. No one was in the hall to question him as he
went out, and he made straight for the common, where something exciting
was always toward. He had forgotten to put on a coat, and the wind was
cold, so he ran along with his hands in the pockets of his jacket. His
cap was old, his suit, a descended suit, was old, and his face,
though it was still so early in the day, was far from clean.
For once the common was almost deserted; but far away in front of
the Shop a thin line of khaki proclaimed the fact that some of the
cadets were drilling.
Ger loved the Shop. He had been there on several occasions,
accompanied by one or other of his grandparents, to see Grantly, and he
knew that he must not go in alone, or his brother would, as he put it,
get in a bate. But there could be no objection to his standing at the
gate and looking in at the parade ground. He knew the porter, a nice
friendly chap who would not drive him away.
He turned off the common into the road that runs up past the Cadet
Hospital. He knew the Cadet Hospital, for once he had gone there with
Grannie to visit a kind of cousin who had broken his collar-bone in
the riding-school. As he passed Ger looked in at the open door. A
little crowd of rather poor-looking people stood in the entrance, among
them a boy about his own age, with a great pad of cotton-wool fastened
over his ear by a bandage.
A crowd of any sort had always an irresistible fascination for Ger.
He skipped up the path and pushed in among the waiting people to the
side of the boy with the tied-up head.
Got a sore ear? he murmured sympathetically.
Wot's it to you wot I got? was the discouraging reply.
Well, I'm sorry, you know, said Ger with obvious sincerity.
The boy looked hard at him and grunted.
What are you here for? Ger whispered.
The Myjor, 'e got to syringe it, the boy mumbled, but this time
his tone was void of offence.
Does it hurt?
'E don't 'urt, not much, 'e is careful; 'e's downright afraid of
urtin' ya'. . . . An' if 'e does 'urt, it's becos 'e can't 'elp it, an'
so, here he wagged his head impressively, ya' just doesn't let on . .
. see? Wots the matter wiv you?
Here was a poser. Yet Ger was consumed by a desire to see this
mysterious myjor who syringed ears and didn't hurt people. He had
fallen upon an adventure, and he was going to see it out.
I don't know exactly, he whispered mysteriously, but I've got to
P'raps they've wrote about ya', the bandaged boy suggested.
Ger thought this was unlikely, but let the suggestion pass
unchallenged. He watched the various people vanish into a room on the
right, saw them come out again, heard the invariable Next please
which heralded the seclusion of a new patient, till everybody had gone
and come back and gone forth into the street again save only the
bandaged boy and himself.
You nip in w'en I comes out, the boy said encouragingly, it's a
bit lyte already, but 'e'll see ya' if yer slippy.
It seemed a long time to Ger as he waited. The little crowd of women
and children had melted away. Men in blue cotton jackets passed to and
fro across the hall, Sister, in a curious headdress and scarlet cape,
looking like a picture by Carpaccio, came out of another room, went up
the staircase and vanished from view. No one spoke to him or asked his
business, and Ger stood in a dark corner holding his cap in his hands
At last the boy came back with a clean bandage and a big new pad of
cotton-wool over the syringed ear.
'Urry up, he whispered as he passed. I told 'im as there was one
Once inside that mysterious door he started violently, for a tall
figure clad in a long white smock was standing near a sink brushing his
nails. He wore a black band round his head, and on his forehead,
attached to the band, was a round mirror. The very brightest mirror Ger
had ever seen.
So this was the Myjor.
The uniform was quite new to Ger.
The eyes under the mirror were very blue, and for the rest this
strangely clad tall man had a brown moustache and a pleasant voice as
he turned, and drying his hands the while, said:
Well, young shaver, what's the matter with you?
In his eight years Ger had had but few aches and pains save such as
followed naturally upon falls or fights, but he knew that if this
interview was to be prolonged he must have something, so he hazarded an
I've a muzzy feeling in my head sometimes, sir, a sort of ache, not
bad, you know.
The Myjor looked very hard at Ger as he spokeevidently the little
boy's voice and accent were in some way unexpected.
He sat down and drew him forward close to his knees. The round
mirror on his forehead flashed into Ger's eyes and he winced.
Headache, eh? said the Myjor cheerfully. You don't look as though
you ought to get headaches. Can you read?
No, sir, that's just what I can't do, and there's awful rows about
it. I can't seem to read, I don't want to much, but I do try . . . I do
really, but it's so muddly.
How long have you been learning?
Years and years, said Ger mournfully. They say Kitten 'll read
before me, and she's only four.
Um, said the Myjor, that will never do. We can't have Kitten
stealing a march on us that way. This must be seen into. By the way,
what's your name?
Gervais Folaire Ffolliot, Ger answered solemnly, as though he were
saying his catechism.
Ffolliot . . . Ffolliot . . . where d'you live?
Redmarley . . . it's a long way from here.
What are you doing here, then?
I'm stopping with grannie and grandfather.
And who is grandfather?
General Grantly, Ger answered promptly, smiling broadly. He always
felt that his grandfather was a trump card anywhere, but in Woolwich
most of all, and he's got such a lot of medals, teeny ones, you know,
like the big ones. I can read them, he added proudly. I know
them all. Grannie taught me.
But why have you come to me? And why on earth do you come in among
the wives and children of the Shop servants?
The door was open, Ger explained, and I talked to the ear boy,
and he said you were most awfully gentle and didn't hurt and hated if
you had toso I knew you were kind, and I'm awfully fond of kind
people, so I wanted to see youyou're not cross, are you? he asked
Um, again remarked the Myjor, and stared at Ger thoughtfully.
Well, he said at last, since you are here, what is it you find so
hard about reading?
It's so muddly, Ger complained, nasty little letters and all so
Exactly so, said the Myjor.
Then he drew down the blinds.
Ger's heart beat fast. Here was an adventure indeed, and when you
were once well in for an adventure all sorts of queer things happened.
Unprecedented things happened to Ger, but he was never very clear
afterwards as to what they were. So many things were done to him that
he became quite confused. Lights flashed into eyes, lights so brilliant
that they quite hurt. Curious spectacles with heavy frames and glasses
that took in and out were placed upon his nose, and he was only allowed
to use one eye at a time, the other being blotted out by a black disk
in the spectacles. At last he looked through with both eyes together at
letters on a card, letters that were blacker and clearer than any he
had ever seen before . . . and the blinds were drawn up.
Will you please tell me, Ger asked politely, what is that curious
uniform you wear? I don't seem to have seen it before, an' I've seen a
The Myjor laughed. It's my working kit; don't you like it?
Very much, said Ger, I think you look like an angel.
Really, said the Myjor. I haven't met any, so I don't know.
I haven't exactly met any, said Ger, but I've seen portraits of
two, and . . . I know a lot about them.
Now, young man, you listen to me, said the Ram-Corps Angel. Eyes
are not my job really, but I'm glad you looked in to see me, for I'll
send you to someone who'll put you right and you'll read long before
the Kitten. She'll never catch you. Right away you'll go, she won't be
in the same field. You'd better go back now, or Mrs Grantly will be
wondering where you arecheer up about that reading.
Will I? Ger asked breathlessly. Shall I be able to get into the
Shop? They pill you for eyes, you know.
Your eyes will be all right by the time you're ready for the Shop.
You see crooked just now, you knowand it wants correcting, that's
What? cried Ger despairingly. Do I squint?
Bless you, no; the sight of your two eyes is different, that's
allwhen you get proper glasses you'll be right as rain. Lots of
people have it . . . if you'd been a Board School you'd have been seen
to long ago, he added, more to himself than to Ger.
Then Ger shook hands with the Ram-Corps Angel and walked rather
slowly and thoughtfully across the common to grandfather's house though
the wind was colder than ever. He forgot to look in at the Shop gate,
but the parade ground was empty. The cadets had finished drilling. Ger
had been so long in that darkened room.
He had lunch alone with his grannie, for grandfather was lunching at
his club. There was no poking of the Ffolliot children into schoolrooms
and nurseries for meals when they stayed with the ganpies. His face was
clean and his hair very smooth, and he held back Mrs Granny's chair for
her just as grandfather did. She stooped and kissed the fresh, friendly
little face and told him he was a dear, which was most pleasant.
He was hungry and the roast mutton was very good, moreover he was
going to the Zoo that afternoon directly after lunch, grannie's French
maid was to take him. They were to have a taxi from Charing Cross, and
lunch passed pleasantly, enlivened by the discussion of this enchanting
Presently he asked, apropos of nothing: Do all the Ram-Corps
officers look like angels?
Like angels! Mrs Grantly repeated derisively. Good gracious, no!
Very plain indeed, some of them I've seen.
The one at the Cadet Hospital does, Ger said positively, like a
great big angel and a dear.
Who? Major Murray? Mrs Grantly inquired, looking puzzled; where
have you seen him?
But at this very moment someone came to tell Ger it was time to get
ready, and in the fuss and excitement of seeing him off, his grannie
forgot all about the Ram Corps and its angelic attributes.
It was her day. Guest after guest arrived, and she was pretty tired
by the time she had given tea to some five and twenty people.
The General never came in at all till the last guest had gone. Then
he sought his wife, and standing on the hearth-rug with his back to the
fire he told her that Major Murray had been to see him, and had
recounted Ger's visit of the morning, and the result of his
Mrs Grantly, which was unusual, never interrupted once.
So you can understand, the General concluded, I didn't feel like
facing a lot of people.
I shall write at once to Margie, Mrs Grantly cried breathlessly,
and tell her she is a fool.
I wouldn't do that, the General said gently; poor Margie, she has
a good deal on her shoulders.
All the samedo you remember that that unfortunate child has been
punishedpunished because he was considered idle and obstinate over
his lessons . . . punished . . . little Gerfriendly, jolly little Ger
. . . I can't bear it, and Mrs Grantly burst into tears.
The General looked very much as though he would like to cry too.
It's an unfortunate business, he said huskily, but you see, none of
us have ever had any eye trouble, and the other children have all such
good sight . . . it never occurred to me . . . I must confess . . . of
course it can be put right very easily; you're to take him to the
oculist to-morrow; I've telephoned and made the appointment.
Mrs Grantly dried her eyes.
We're all to blame, she exclaimed, I'm just as much to blame as
Margie . . . she'll be fearfully upset I don't know how to tell her.
Tell you what, exclaimed the General, I'll write to Ffolliot . .
. I'll do it now, this instant, and the letter will catch the 7.30 post
. . .
At the door he paused and added more cheerfully, I shall enjoy
writing to Ffolliot.
CHAPTER XVIII. WHAT FOLLOWED
As General Grantly had predicted, Mrs Ffolliot was very much upset
when she heard about Ger's eyes, and was for rushing up to London
herself, there and then to interview the oculist. But Mr Ffolliot
dissuaded her. For one thing, he hated Redmarley without her even for a
single night. For another, he considered such a journey a needless
expense. This, however, he did not mention, but contented himself with
the suggestion that it would seem a reflection upon Mrs Grantly's
competence to do anything of the kind; and that consideration weighed
heavily with his wife where the other would have been brushed aside as
immaterial and irrelevant. I can't understand it, the Squire remarked
plaintively; I did not know there had ever been any eye trouble in
There never has, so far as I know; but surely, and Mrs Ffolliot
spoke with something less than her usual gentle deference, we needn't
seek far to find where Ger gets his.
Do you mean that he inherits it from ME?
Well, my dear Larrie, surely you've got defective sight,
else why the monocle?
But Ger isn't a bit like me. He is all Grantly. In character, I
sometimes think he resembles your mother, he is so fond of society; in
appearance he's very like the others, except the Kitten. Now, if the
Kitten's sight had been astigmatic . . .
We must take care that she doesn't suffer from neglect like poor
little Ger, Mrs Ffolliot interrupted rather bitterly. I shall write
at once to their house-master to have the twins' eyes tested. I'll run
no more risks. We know Grantly's all right because he passed his
medical so easily. Poor, poor little Ger.
It certainly is most unfortunate, said Mr Ffolliot.
He was really concerned about Ger, but mingled with his concern was
the feeling that the little boy had taken something of a liberty in
developing that particular form of eye trouble. It seemed an unfilial
reflection upon himself. Moreover, there was something in the General's
letter plainly stating the bare facts that he did not exactly like. It
was, he considered, rather brusque. He started for the South, of
France four days earlier than he had originally intended.
Ger was taken to the great oculist in London, who confirmed the
Myjor's diagnosis of his case, and he was forthwith put into large
round spectacles. When he got them, his appearance brought the tears to
his grandmother's eyestears she rigidly repressed, for Ger was so
enormously proud of them. The first afternoon he wore them he went with
his grandfather to see Grantly playing in a football match at the Shop,
and among those watching on the field he espied his friend the
Ram-Corps Angel. Ger knew him at once, although he wore no white
garment, not even khaki, just a plain tweed suit like his
While the General was deep in conversation with the Commy, Ger
slipped away and sought his friend.
Hullo, said the 'Myjor,' so you've got 'em on.
Yes, sir, said Ger, saluting solemnly, and I'm very much obliged.
It's lovely to see things so nice and clear. Please may I ask you
The Major stepped back out of the crowd and Ger slipped a small hand
confidingly into his. Ger had not been to school yet, so there were
excuses for him.
Do you think, he asked earnestly, that if I'm very industr'us and
don't turn out quite so stupid as they expected, that by-and-by I might
get into the Ram Corps?
Major Murray looked down very kindly at the anxious upturned face
with the large round spectacles.
But I thought the Shop was the goal of your ambition?
So it was, sir, at first. Then I gave it up because it seemed so
difficult, and I talked it over with Willets, and he said he'd
never had a great deal of book-learnin'though he writes a beautiful
hand, far better than fatherand then I thought I'd be a gamekeeper.
And what did Willets think?
Well, he didn't seem to be very sureand now I come to think of
it, I'm not very fond of killing things . . . so if there was just a
chance . . .
I'd go into the Ram Corps if I were you, said Major Murray; by
the time you're ready, gamekeepersif there are anywill have to pass
exams, like all the other poor beggars. You bet your boots on that.
Some Board of Forestry or other will start 'em, you see if they don't.
Oh, well, if there's to be exams, that settles it. I certainly
shan't be one, Ger said decidedly; I've been thinking it over a
Oh, you have, have you?
An' it seems to me . . .
Yes, it seems to you?
That pr'aps you get to know people better if you mend all their
accidents and things. I'm awfully fond of people, they're so
intrusting, I'd rather know about them than anything.
What sort of people?
The men you know, and their wives and children; they're awfully
nice, the ones I knowand if you see after them when they're ill and
that, they're bound to be a bit fond of you, aren't they?
Major Murray gave the cold little hand in his a squeeze. It seems
to me, he said, that you're just the sort of chap we want. You stick
Is it very hard to get in?
Well, it isn't exactly easy, but it's dogged as does it, and if you
start nowwhy, you've plenty of time.
That's settled then, said Ger, and when you're Medical
Inspector-General or some big brass hat like the fat old gentleman who
came to see Ganpy yesterdayyou'll say a good word for me, won't you?
I will, Major Murray promised, I most certainly will.
You see, Ger continued, beaming through his spectacles, if
there's war I should be bound to go, they can't get on without the Ram
Corps then, and I'd be doing things for people all day long. Oh, it
would be grand.
It strikes me, said Major Murray, more to himself than to Ger,
that you stand a fair chance of getting your heart's desiremore than
I'm very partikler about my nails now, said Ger. I saw you
scrubbing yours that day at the Cadet Hospital.
When he got home Mrs Ffolliot retired to her room and cried long and
heartily, but Ger never knew it. His spectacles to him were a joy and a
glory, and he confided to the Kitten that his guardian angel,
Sergeant-Major Spinks, did sentry beside them every night so that they
shouldn't get lost or broken.
My angel's in prizzen, the Kitten announced dramatically.
In prison! exclaimed Ger, whatever for?
For shooting turkeys, the Kitten replied, an' he's all over
Why did he shoot turkeys for?
'Cause he wanted more feathers for his wings.
But that wouldn't give him chicken-spots.
No, that didn'the got them at a pahty, like you did last
Poor chap, said Ger, but I can't see why he stays in prison when
he could fly away.
They clipped his wings, the Kitten said importantly, an' I'm
glad; he can't come and bother me no more now.
I hope Spinks won't go shooting fowls and things in his off-time,
Ger said anxiously. I must warn him.
Pheasants wouldn't matter so much, the Kitten said leniently, I
asked Willets; but turkeys is orful.
Not at all sporting to shoot turkeys, Ger agreed, though they are
so cross and gobbly.
In the middle of February Mrs Ffolliot fell a victim to influenza,
and she was really very ill.
At first she would not allow anyone to tell her husband about it,
but when she became too weak to write herself, Mary took it upon her to
inform her father of her mother's state. The doctor insisted on sending
a nurse, as three of the servants had also collapsed, and Mrs Grantly
came down from Woolwich to see to things generally; though when she
came, she acknowledged that Mary had done everything that could be
Mr Ffolliot curtailed his holiday by a week, and returned at the end
of February, to find his wife convalescent, but thin and pale and weak
as he had never before seen her during their married life.
He decided that he would take her for a fortnight to Bournemouth.
But Mrs Grantly had other views.
She, Mary, and Mr Ffolliot were sitting at breakfast the day after
his return, when he suggested the Bournemouth plan with what Willets
would have called his most Emp'rish air.
Mrs Grantly looked across at Mary and the light of battle burned in
her bright brown eyes.
I don't think Bournemouth would be one bit of good for Margie, she
said briskly, you can't be sure of sunshineit may be mild, but it's
morally certain to rain half the time, and Margie needs cheerful
surroundingssunshineand the doctor says . . . a complete change of
scene and people.
Where would you propose that I should take her? Mr Ffolliot asked,
fixing his monocle and staring steadily at his mother-in-law.
To tell you the truth, Hilary, I don't propose that you
should take her anywhere. What I propose is that her father and I
should take her to Cannes with us a week to-day.
To Cannes, Mr Ffolliot gasped, in a week. I don't believe she
could stand the journey.
Oh yes, she could. Her father will see that she does it as
comfortably as possible, and I shall take Adèle, who can look after
both of us. We'll stay a night in Paris, and at Avignon if Margie shows
signs of being very tired. You must understand that Margie will go as
Mr Ffolliot dropped his monocle and leant back in his chair. It is
most kind of you and the General, he said politely, but I doubt very
much if she can be persuaded to go.
Oh she's going, Mrs Grantly said easily, while Mary, with scarlet
cheeks, looked at her plate, knowing well that the subject had never
been so much as touched upon to her mother. You see, Hilary, she has
had a good deal of Redmarley, and the children and you, during the last
twenty years, and it will do her all the good in the world to get away
from you all for a bit. Don't you agree with me, Mary?
Mary lifted her downcast eyes and looked straight at her father.
The doctor says it's mother's only chance of getting really strong,
she said boldly, to get right away from all of us.
You, my dear Hilary, Mrs Grantly continued in the honeyed tones
her family had long ago learnt to recognise as the precursor of verbal
castigation for somebody, would not be the agreeable and well-informed
person you are, did you not go away by yourself for a fairly long time
during every year. I don't think you have missed once since Grantly was
born. How often has Margie been away by herself, even for a couple of
Margie has never expressed the slightest wish to go away, Mr
Ffolliot said reproachfully. I have often deplored her extreme
devotion to her children.
Somebody had to be devoted to her children, said Mrs Grantly.
Mr Ffolliot ignored this thrust, saying haughtily, Since I
understand that this has all been settled without consulting me, I
cannot see that any good purpose can be served in further discussion of
the arrangement now, and he rose preparatory to departure.
Wait, Hilary, Mrs Grantly rose too. I don't think you quite
understand that the smallest objection on your part to Margie would at
once render the whole project hopeless. What you've got to do is to
smile broadly upon the scheme
Here Mary gasped, the broad smile of the Squire upon anything or
anybody being beyond her powers of imagination.
Otherwise, Mrs Grantly paused to frown at Mary, who softly
vanished from the room, you may have Margie on your hands as an
invalid for several months, and I don't think you'd like that.
But who, Mr Ffolliot demanded, will look after things while she's
Why you and Mary, to be sure. My dear Hilary, Mrs Grantly said
sweetly, a change is good for all of us, and it will be wholesome for
you to take the reins into your own hands for a bit. I confess I've
often wondered how you could so meekly surrender the whole management
of this big place to Margie. It's time you asserted yourself a little.
Mr Ffolliot stared gloomily at Mrs Grantly, who smiled at him in the
friendliest fashion. You see, she went on, you are, if I may say so,
a little unobservant, or you would perhaps have personally investigated
what made Ger, an otherwise quite normally intelligent child, so very
stupid over his poor little lessons.
I've always left everything of that sort to his mother.
I know you havebut do you think it was quite fair? And for a long
time Margie has been looking thin and fagged. Her father was most
concerned about it at Christmasbut I never heard you remark upon it.
She never complains, Mr Ffolliot said feebly.
Complains, Mrs Grantly repeated scornfully. We're not a
complaining family. But I should have thought you with your
strong love of the beautiful would at least have remarked how she has
gone off in looks.
She hasn't, said Mr Ffolliot with some heat.
She looks her age, every day of it, Mrs Grantly persisted. When
we bring her back she'll look like Mary's sister!
How long do you propose to be away?
Oh, three weeks or a month; at the most a fortnight less than you
have had every year for nineteen years.
Mr Ffolliot made no answer; he took out his cigarette case and lit a
cigarette with hands that were not quite steady.
You quite understand then, Hilary, that you are to put the whole
weight of your authority into the scale that holds France for Margie?
I thought you said it was settled?
My dear man, you know what a goose she is; if she thought you hated
it, nothing would induce her to goyou must consider her for
I really must protest, Mr Ffolliot said stiffly, against your
gratuitous assumption that I care nothing for Margie's welfare.
Not at all, Mrs Grantly said smoothly, I only ask for a modest
manifestation of your devotion, that's all.
Shall I go to her now? said Mr Ffolliot with the air of a lamb led
to the slaughter.
Certainly notshe'll probably be trying to get up lest you should
want her for anything. I'll go and keep her in bed till
luncheon. You may come and see her at eleven.
When Fusby came in for the breakfast tray, Mr Ffolliot was still
standing on the hearth-rug immersed in thought.
CHAPTER XIX. MARY AND HER FATHER
In the lives of even the strongest and most competent among us,
there will arise moments when decision of any kind has become
impossible, and it is a real relief to have those about us who settle
everything without asking whether we like it or not. Such times are
almost always the result of physical debility, when the enfeebled body
so reacts upon brain and spirit that no matter how vigorous the one or
valorous the other, both seem atrophied.
It is at such times that we have cause to bless the doctor who is a
strong man, and fears not to give orders or talk straight talk; and the
relations who never so much as mention any plan till it has been
decided, taking for granted we will approve the arrangements they have
We are generally acquiescent, for it is so blessed to drift
passively in the wake of these determined ones, till such time as, with
returning physical strength, the will asserts itself once more.
Thus it fell out that Mrs Ffolliot was surprisingly submissive when
she was told by the doctor, a plain-spoken country doctor, who did not
mince his words, that she must seize the chance offered of going to the
South of France with her parents, or he wouldn't answer for the
You are, he said, looking yellow and dowdy, and you are feeling
blue and hysterical; if you don't go away at once you'll go on doing
both for an interminable time.
Mrs Ffolliot laughed. Then I suppose for the sake of the rest of
the family I ought to goand she went.
If Mr Ffolliot did not take Mrs Grantly's advice and look after
things himself, he certainly was forced to attend to a good many
tiresome details in the management of things outside the Manor House
than had ever fallen to his lot before. Mary saved him all she could,
but Willets and Heaven and Fusby seemed to take a malicious delight in
consulting him about trivial things that he found himself quite unable
to decide one way or other.
At first he tried to put them off with Ask Miss Mary, but Willets
shook his head, smiled kindly, and said firmly, Twouldn't be fair,
sir, 'twouldn't really.
Ger and the Kitten had never seemed so tiresome and ubiquitous
before, coming across his path at every turn; and Ger certainly
nullified any uneasiness on the Squire's part regarding his eyes by
practising, in and out of season, upon a discarded bugle. A bugle
bought for him by one of his friends in the Royal 'Orse for the sum of
three and ninepence. Ger had amassed three shillings of this sum, and
the good-natured gunner never mentioned the extra ninepence.
Ger had a quick ear and could already pick out little tunes on the
piano with one finger, though, so far, he had found musical notation as
difficult as every other kind of reading.
But he took to the bugle like a duck to water, and on an evil day
someone in Woolwich had taught him the peace call, Come to the
The inhabitants of Redmarley were summoned to the cook-house door
from every part of the village, from the woods, from the riverside, and
from the churchyard.
He played the bugle in the nursery and in the stableyard, he played
it in the attics and outside the servants' hall when the servants'
dinner was ready.
He was implored, threatened and punished, but all without avail, for
Ger had tasted the joys of achievement. He had found what superior
persons call the expression of his essential ego, and just then his
cosmos was all bugle.
Not even his good-natured desire to oblige people was proof against
this overwhelming desire to call imaginary troops to feed together on
every possible and impossible occasion. He did try to keep a good way
from the house, or to choose moments in the house when he knew his
father was out, but he made mistakes. He could not discover by applying
his eye to the keyhole of the study door whether his father was in the
room or not, and, as he remarked bitterly, Father always sat so
beastly still it was impossible to hear.
He looked upon the Squire's objections as a cross, but the dread of
his father's anger was nothing like so strong as his desire to play the
bugle, and even the Squire perceived that short of taking the bugle
away from him, which would have broken his heart, there was nothing for
it but to frown and bear itin moderation.
Mrs Grantly's very direct assault had made a small breach in the
wall of Mr Ffolliot's complacency; and a fairly vivid recollection of
the shilling episode inclined him to deal leniently with Ger while his
mother was away. He rang the bell furiously for Fusby whenever the most
distant strains of Come to the Cook-house Door smote upon his ears,
and sent him post haste to stop that infernal braying and bleating;
but beyond such unwelcome interruptions Ger tootled in peace.
Mary was lonely and the days seemed long; she saw no one but her
father, the servants, the two children and Miss Glover, the meek little
governess, who seemed to spend most of her time in hunting for Ger
among outhouses and gardens, and was scorned by Nana in consequence.
When her mother was at home Mary was accustomed to wander about
Redmarley unchallenged and unaccompanied save by the faithful Parker.
But Mr Ffolliot took his duties as chaperon most seriously and expected
that Mary should never stir beyond the gardens unless accompanied by
Miss Glover. He even seemed suspicious as to her most innocent
expeditions, and every morning at breakfast demanded a minute
time-table planning her day.
Mary didn't mind this. It was easy enough to say that after she had
interviewed the cook (there was no housekeeper now at Redmarley) she
would practise, or read French with Miss Glover; or go into Marlehouse
accompanied by Miss Glover for a music lesson; or drive with Miss
Glover and the children to Marlehouse to do the weekly shopping; or go
with Miss Glover to the tailor to be fitted for a coat and skirt. All
that was easy enough to reel off in answer to the Squire's inquiries.
It was the afternoons that were difficult. She had been used to go into
the village and visit her friends, Willets, Miss Gallup, the
laundry-maid's mother, everybody there in fact, and now this seemed to
be forbidden her unless Miss Glover went too, which spoiled everything.
Sometimes she walked with the Squire and tried to feel an
intelligent interest in Ercole Ferrarese, whose work Mr Ffolliot
greatly admired. In fact he was just then engaged on a somewhat lengthy
monograph concerning both the man and his work.
Mary, in the hope of making herself a more congenial companion to
her father, even went as far as to look up Ercole in Vasari's
Lives. But Vasari was not particularly copious in details as to
Ercole Ferrarese, and the particulars he did give which impressed Mary
were just those most calculated to annoy her father. As, for instance,
that Ercole had an inordinate love of wine and was frequently
intoxicated, in so much that his life was shortened by this habit.
The difficulties that may arise from such an inordinate affection
had been brought home to her quite recently, and in one of their walks
together after a somewhat prolonged silence she remarked to her
It was a pity that poor Ercole drank so much, wasn't it?
Why seize upon a trifling matter of that sort when we are
considering the man's work? Mr Ffolliot asked angrily. For heaven's
sake, do not grow into one of those people who only perceive the
obvious; whose only knowledge of Cromwell would be that he had a wart
on his nose.
I shouldn't say it was a very trifling matter seeing it killed
himdrink I mean, not Cromwell's wart, Mary responded with more
spirit than usual. Vasari says so.
It is quite possible that he does, but it is not a salient
A wart on the nose would be a very salient feature, Mary ventured.
Exactly, that is what you would think and that is what I complain
of. It is a strain that runs through the whole of youexcept perhaps
the Kittena dreadful narrowness of visiondon't tell me your sight
is goodI'm only referring to your mental outlook. It is the fatal
frivolous attitude of mind that always remembers the wholly irrelevant
statement that the Earl of Warwick, the King-maker, was born when his
mother was fourteen.
Was he? Mary exclaimed with deep interest; how very young to have
Mr Ffolliot glared at her: and nothing else, he continued,
ignoring the interruption.
Oh, but I do remember other things about Ercole besides being a
drunkard, she protested; he hated people watching him work, I can
understand that, and he was awfully kind and faithful to his master.
All quite useless and trifling in comparison with what I, myself,
have told you of his work, which you evidently don't remember. It is a
man's work that matters, not little peculiarities of temperament and
I think, Mary said demurely, that little peculiarities of
temperament and character matter a good deal to the people who have to
live with them.
That is possible but quite unimportant. It is a man's intellect
that is immortal, not his temperament.
Again a long silence till Mary said suddenly: Mother has never
written anything or painted anything or done anything very remarkable,
and yet she seems to matter a great deal to a lot of people besides us.
I never go outside the gates but people stop me and ask all sorts of
questions about her. Surely character can matter too?
Mr Ffolliot's scornful expression changed. He looked at his daughter
with interest. Do you know, Mary, he said quite amiably, that
sometimes I think you can't be quite as stupid as you make yourself
That was on Friday. On Saturday Mary was in dire disgrace.
Nana had taken the children to a cinematograph show in Marlehouse.
Miss Glover went with them in the bucket to visit a friend there. The
Squire had affixed a paper to the outside of the study door saying that
he was not to be disturbed till five o'clock, and it was a lovely
afternoon. The sort of afternoon when late March holds all the promise
of May, when early daffodils shine splendidly in sheltered corners, and
late snowdrops in a country garden look quite large and solemn. When
trodden grass has a sweet sharp smell, and all sorts of pretty things
peep from the crannies of old Cotswold walls: those loose grey walls
that are so infinitely various, so dear and friendly in their constant
Mary saw the nursery party go, and stood and waved to them till they
were out of sight, when a faint and distant summons to the cook-house
door proved that Ger had begun to play the instant the bucket had
turned out of the gates.
Mary called Parker and went out.
Down the drive she went, through the great gates and over the bridge
to Willets' cottage. Willets was out, but Mrs Willets was delighted to
see her. Mrs Willets was a kind, comfortable person, who brewed
excellent home-made wines which she loved to bestow upon her friends.
Mary partook of a glass of ginger wine, very strong and very gingery,
and having given the latest news of the mistress (she, herself, was
our young lady now), received in return the mournful intelligence
that Miss Gallup had had a touch of bronchitis, reely downright bad
she'd bin, and now she was about but weak as a kitten, and very low in
her mind; if you'd the time just to call in and see 'er, I'm sure she'd
take it very kind, with your ma away, and all.
So Mary hied her to Miss Gallup at the other end of Redmarley's one
long lopsided street. Her progress was a slow one, for at every cottage
gate she was stopped with exclamations: Why we thought you was lost,
or gone to furrin parts with the mistress; none on us seen you since
Church last Sunday.
At last she reached Two Ways, Miss Gallup's house, and Eloquent,
of all people in the world, opened the door to her.
Mary merely thought How nice of him to come and see his aunt, and
Ah, Mr Gallup, I'm glad to see you've come to look after the
invalid, I've only just heard of her illness. May I come in? Will it
tire her to see me?
And Eloquent could find no words to greet her except, Please step
this way, and he was nevertheless painfully aware that exactly so
would he have addressed her half a dozen years ago had he been leading
her to the haberdashery department of the Golden Anchor.
Poor Eloquent was thrown off his mental balance altogether, for to
him this was no ordinary meeting.
Picture the feelings of a young man who thinks he is opening the
door to the baker and finds incarnate spring upon the threshold. Spring
in weather-beaten, well-cut clothes, with a sweet, friendly voice and
adorable, cordial smile.
There she was, sitting opposite Miss Gallup on one slippery
horsehair easy chair, while her hostess, much beshawled, cushioned
and foot-stooled, sat on the other.
My dear, Miss Gallup said confidentially, Em'ly-Alice has gone to
the surgery for my cough mixture and some embrocation, and she takes
such a time. I'm certain she's loitering and gossiping, and she knows I
like my cup of tea at four, and you here, and all; if it wasn't that my
leg's seem to crumble up under me I'd go and get it myself.
Dear Miss Gallup, don't be hard on Em'ly-Alice, Mary pleaded;
it's such a lovely afternoon I don't wonder she doesn't exactly hurry.
As for tea, let me get you some tea
I could, Eloquent interposed hastily, I'm sure I could, and rose
somewhat vaguely to go to the kitchen.
Let us both get it, Mary cried gaily, we'll be twice as quick.
And before Miss Gallup could protest they had gone to the kitchen
and she could hear them laughing.
Mary was thoroughly enjoying herself. For three weeks she had poured
out tea for her father solemnly at five o'clock and been snubbed for
Here were two people who liked her, who were glad to see her, who
thought it kind of her to come. No girl can be wholly unconscious of
admiration; nor, when it is absolutely reverential, can she resent it,
and Mary felt no displeasure in Eloquent's.
They could neither of them cut bread and butter. It was a plateful
of queerly shaped bits that went in on the tray; but there was an egg
for Miss Gallup, and the tea was excellent.
Miss Gallup began to feel more leniently disposed towards
Em'ly-Alice. She's done for me pretty well on the whole, she told
Mary. Doctor, he wanted me to have the parish nurse over to Marle
Abbas, but I don't hold with those new-fangled young women.
She's a dear, said Mary; mother thinks all the world of her.
May be, may be, Miss Gallup said dryly; but when you come to my
time of life you've your own opinion about draughts. And as for that
constant bathin' and washin', I don't hold with it at all. A bed's a
bed, I says, and not a bath, and if you're in bed you should stay there
and keep warm, and not have all the clothes took off you to have your
legs washed. How can your legs get dirty if you're tucked in
with clean sheets, in a clean room, in a clean house. When I haves a
bath I like it comfortable, once a week, at night in front of the
kitchen fire, and Em'ly-Alice safe in bed. No, my dear, I don't hold
with these new-fangled notions, and Nurse Jones, she worries me to
death. I 'ad 'er once, and I said, never againwhiskin' in and
whiskin' out, and opening windows and washin' me all over, like I 'was
a babymost uncomfortable I call it.
The clock on the mantelpiece struck five, Mary jumped up. I must
fly, she exclaimed, it's time for father's tea; I've been enjoying
myself so much I forgot all about the time.
You see Miss Mary as far as the gates, Miss Gallup said to her
nephew. Em'ly-Alice is in, I 'eard 'er pokin' the fire the wasteful
way she has.
Mary did not want Eloquent, for she greatly desired to run, but he
followed with such alacrity she had not the heart to forbid him. He
walked beside her, or, more truly, he trotted beside her, through the
village street, for Mary went at such a pace that Eloquent was almost
breathless. He found time, however, to tell her that he had paired at
the House on Friday, and took the week-end just to look after Miss
Gallup, who had seemed rather low-spirited since her illness. They did
the distance in record time, and outside the gates they found Mr
I've been to see Miss Gallup, father, she has been ill, and I
looked in to inquire. . . . I don't think you know Mr Gallup.
Mr Ffolliot bowed to Eloquent with a frigidity that plainly proved
he had no desire to know him.
I regret, Mr Ffolliot said in an impersonal voice, that Miss
Gallup has been ill. Do you know, Mary, that it is ten minutes past
Good evening, Miss Ffolliot, Eloquent said hastily; it was most
kind of you to call, and it did my aunt a great deal of good.
Good-evening, Mr Ffolliot. He lifted his hat and turned away.
Mr Ffolliot stood perfectly still and looked his daughter over. From
the crown of her exceedingly old hat to her admirable boots he surveyed
Don't you want your tea, father? Mary asked nervously, or have
you had it?
I did want tea, at the proper hour, and I have not had it; but what
I want much more than tea is an explanation of that young man's
presence in your society.
I told you, father, I went to see Miss Gallup, who has had
bronchitis, and he had come down from London for the week-end to see
her, and so he walked back with me.
Did you know he was there?
Of course not, Mary flushed angrily, I didn't know Miss Gallup
had been ill till Mrs Willets told me. I haven't been outside the
grounds for a fortnight except in the bucket, so I've heard no village
And why did you take it upon yourself to go outside the grounds
to-day without consulting me?
I was rather tired of the garden, father, and it was such a lovely
day, and it seemed rather unkind never to go near any of the people
when mother was away.
None of these reasonsif one can call them reasonsthrows the
smallest light upon the fact that you have been parading the village
with this fellow, Gallup. I have told you before, I don't wish to know
him, I will not know him. His politics are abhorrent to me, and his
antecedents. . . . Surely by this time you know, Mary, that I do not
choose my friends from among the shopkeepers in Marlehouse.
I'm sorry, father, but this afternoon it really couldn't be helped.
I couldn't be rude to the poor man when he came with me. He seemed to
take it for granted he should; Miss Gallup suggested it. I daresay he
didn't want to come at all. But they both meant it kindlywhat could I
What you can do, and what you must do, is to obey my orders. I will
not have you walk anywhere in company with that bounder
He isn't a bounder, father. You're wrong there; whatever he may be
he isn't that.
Mr Ffolliot turned slowly and entered the drive. Mary followed, and
in silence they walked up to the house.
He looked at his tall daughter from time to time. She held her head
very high and her expression was rebellious. She really was an
extremely handsome girl, and, in spite of his intense annoyance, Mr
Ffolliot felt gratification in this fact.
At the hall door he paused. I must ask you to remember, Mary, that
you are no longer a child, that your actions now can evoke both comment
and criticism, and I must ask you to confine your friendships to your
I shall never be able to do that, Mary answered firmly; I love
the village people far too much.
That is a wholly different matter, and you know very well that I
have always been the first to rejoice in the very friendly relations
between us andermy good tenants. This Gallup person is not one of
them. There is not the smallest necessity to know him, and what's more,
I decline to know him. Do you understand?
No, father, I don't. I can't promise to cut Mr Gallup or be rude to
him if I happen to meet him; he has done nothing to deserve it. You
don't ask us to cut that odious Rabbich boy, who is a bounder,
if you like.
I know nothing about the Rabbich boy, as you call him. If he is
what you say, I should certainly advise you to drop his acquaintance;
but I must and do insist that you shall not further cultivate the
acquaintance of this young Gallup.
He's going back to London to-morrow afternoon, father. What is
there to worry about?
Mr Ffolliot sighed. I shall be glad, he exclaimed, when your
So will everybody, said Mary.
CHAPTER XX. THE GRANTLY STRAIN
Easter, that year, fell in the second week of April, and both
Grantly and the twins were home for it. Mrs Ffolliot was back too. The
Riviera had done wonders for her, and she returned beautiful and gay,
and immensely glad to have her children round her once more.
To celebrate Mrs Ffolliot's return, it was decided to give a
dinner-party. Dinner-parties were rare occurrences at the Manor. The
Squire allowed about two a year, and grumbled a good deal over each. If
he would have left the whole thing to Mrs Ffolliot, she and everyone
else would have enjoyed it; but he would interfere. Above all, he
insisted on supervising the list of guests, and settling who was to go
in with whom. This time they were to number fourteen in all, and as
Grantly and Mary were to be of the party, that left ten people to be
It was arranged with comparative ease till about a week before the
day fixed the bachelor intended for Mary broke his leg out hunting.
Mary had been allowed a new dress for the occasion; it would be the
first time she had been at a real party in her father's house, and to
be left out would have been a cruel disappointment.
Bachelors in that neighbourhood, even elderly bachelors, who came up
to the standard required by Mr Ffolliot were few, and there was
comparatively little time.
The four elder children, their father, and mother were sitting at
lunch; they had reached the cheese stage. Fusby and his attendant maid
had departed, and the question of a man for Mary occupied the
attention of the family. When Mrs Ffolliot quite innocently discharged
a bomb into their midst by exclaiming, I've got it. Let's ask Mr
Gallup. He's our member; he was very kind in coming to tell me about
poor Buz's accident, very kind to him, too, I remember. It would be a
friendly thing to do. The Campions are coming, they'd be pleased.
Had Mrs Ffolliot not been gazing straight at her husband, she might
have noticed that three pairs of startled eyes looked up at the same
moment, and then were bent sedulously on the table.
Uz alone curiously regarded his brethren. Mr Ffolliot paused in the
very act of pouring himself out another glass of marsala and set the
decanter on the table with a thump, the glass only half-full.
Impossible, he said coldly, absolutely out of the question.
But why? Mrs Ffolliot asked; there's nothing against the young
man, and it would be a friendly thing to do.
That's why I won't have it done, Mr Ffolliot said decidedly. It
would give a false impression. He might be disposed to take liberties.
Oh no, Larrie; why should you think anything of that sort? It seems
to me such a pity people in the county shouldn't be friendly. The
Campions speak most highly of him.
My dearMr Ffolliot spoke with evident self-restraintI do not
care to ask my friends to meet Mr Gallup as an equal. How could you ask
any lady of your own rank to go in to dinner with him? The thing is
I was going to send him in with Mary, Mrs Ffolliot said
innocently. We must get somebody, and I know he's in the
neighbourhood, for I saw him to-day.
If he were in Honolulu he would not be more impossible than he is
at present, said the Squire irritably. Don't discuss it any more, my
dear, I beg of you. It is out of the question.
And Mr Ffolliot rose from the table and took refuge in his study.
I'm sorry, Mrs Ffolliot sighed, I should have liked to ask him,
and then she suddenly awoke to the fact that her entire family looked
perturbed and miserable to the last degree.
Grantly pushed back his chair. May I go, mother, he said, I've
something I must say to father.
Not now, Grantly, and Mrs Ffolliot laid a gentle detaining hand
upon his arm as he passed, not just when he's feeling annoyedif
there's anything you have to tell him let it waitdon't go and worry
Grantly lifted his mother's hand off his arm very gently. I must,
mummy dear, it can't wait.
He looked rather pale but his eyes were steady, and she thought with
a little thrill of pride how like his grandfather he was growing.
He went straight to the study. Mr Ffolliot was seated by the fire
with Gaston Latour open in his hand.
Grantly shut the door, crossed to the fireplace and stood on the
hearth-rug looking down at his father. I've come to say, father, that
I think we ought to ask Mr Gallup to dinner.
You think we ought to . . . the Squire paused in breathless
Yes, sir, I do. And I hope you'll think so too when you hear what
I've got to say.
Go on, said Mr Ffolliot, laying down his book. Go on.
It wasn't very easy. Grantly swallowed something in his throat, and
began rather huskily: You see, sir, we're under an obligation to
Gallup. We are really.
We are under an obligation. What on earth do you mean?
Well I am, father, anyway. You remember the night before the
I don't, the Squire interrupted, why in the world should I?
Well, sir, it was like this . . . I went to dinner with young
Rabbich at the Moonstone, and I got drunk
Yougotdrunk? the pauses between each word were far more
emphatic than the words themselves.
Yes, sir, we all had more than was good for us, and we went to the
Radical meeting and made an awful row, and got chucked out and
Look here, Grantly, what has all this to do with young Gallup? It
was idiotic of you to go to his meeting, and the conduct of a vulgar
blockhead to get drunk; but in what way . . .
That's not all, sir; after the meeting the bands came into
collision, and I got taken up.
You got taken up?
Two policemen, sir, taking me to the station, and Mr Gallup got me
out of it and gave me a bed in his house.
Mr Ffolliot sat forward in his chair. You accepted his
hospitalityyou slept the night in his house?
If I hadn't I'd have slept the night in the lock-up, and it would
have been in the papers.
But whywhy should he have intervened to protect you?
Do you think, sirGrantly's voice was very shythat it might be
because we both come from the same place?
He doesn't belong to the village.
In a way he does; there have been Gallups in Redmarley nearly as
long as us.
Mr Ffolliot said nothing. He sat staring at his tall young son as if
he were a new person.
Grantly fidgetted and flushed and paled under this steady
contemplation, saying at last: You do see what I mean, don't you,
That we ought to do something friendly?
He has certainly, through your idiotic fault, contrived to put us
under an obligation. Why, I cannot think, but the fact remains. I do
not know anything that could have annoyed me more.
Grantly ventured to think that perhaps a paragraph in the police
reports of the local newspaper might have tried the Squire even more
severely, but he did not say so. He waited.
Does your mother know of all this?
Oh no, father, it would make her so sorry. Must we tell her?
Your tenderness for her feelings in no way restrained you at the
time; why this solicitude now?
I'd rather she knew than seem to go back on Gallup.
You may go, Grantly, and leave me to digest this particularly
disagreeable intelligence. I have long reconciled myself to your lack
of intellectual ability, but I did not know that you indulged in such
Fatherdid you never do anything of that kind when you were
Most truthfully I can answer that I never did. It would not have
amused me in the least.
It didn't amuse me, Grantly said ruefully; I can't
remember much about it.
Go, said Mr Ffolliot, and Grantly went, looking rather like Parker
with his tail between his legs.
Hardly had Mr Ffolliot realised the import of what Grantly had told
him when the door was opened again and Buz came in.
Buz, too, made straight for the hearth-rug, and standing there faced
his bewildered parent (these sudden invasions were wholly without
precedent), saying: I've come to tell you, sir, that I think we
ought to ask Mr Gallup to dinner.
Had Mr Ffolliot been a man of his hands he would have fallen upon
Buz and boxed his ears there and then; as it was, he replied bitterly:
I am not interested in your opinion, boy, on this or any other
subject. Leave the room at once.
But Buz, to his father's amazement, stood his ground.
You must hear me, father, else you can't understand.
If you've come to say anything about Grantly you may spare yourself
the pains, he has told me himself.
About Grantly, Buz repeated stupidly, why should I want to talk
about Grantly?it's about him and me I want to talk.
Him and you? Mr Ffolliot echoed desperately.
Yes, I rotted him that night and he was awfully decent
The night I broke my armthey said at the Infirmary that if he
hadn't been so careful of me it would have been much worse.
You refer, I suppose, to Gallup?
Yes, father, and it really was decent of him, because I went
dressed up as a suffragette and had no end of a rag; he might have been
awfully shirty, and he wasn'the never told a soul. Don't you think we
ought to ask him?
Does your mother know about this?
Of course not, nobody knew except Uz and, Buz added truthfully,
Leave me, said Mr Ffolliot feebly, I've had about as much as I
can bear this afternoonGo.
You do see, sir, that it makes a difference, pleaded the
Go, thundered the exasperated Squire.
All right, father, I'm going, but you do see, don't you?
said Buz from the door.
CHAPTER XXI. A RETROSPECT AND A
Mr Ffolliot was really a much-tried man. Those interviews with
Grantly and Buz caused his nerves to vibrate most unpleasantly.
So unhinged was he that for quite half an hour after Buz's departure
he kept looking nervously at the door, fully expectant that it would
open to admit Uz, primed with some fresh reason why Eloquent Gallup
should be asked to dinner; and that he would be followed by Ger and the
Kitten bent on a similar errand.
However, no one else invaded his privacy. The Manor House was very
still; the only occasional sound being the soft swish of a curtain
stirred by the breeze through the open window.
Mr Ffolliot neither read Gaston Latour nor did he write,
though his monograph on Ercole Ferrarese was not yet completed.
Wrapped in thought he sat quite motionless in his deep chair, and
the subject that engrossed him was his own youth; comparing what he
remembered of it with these queer, careless sons of his, who seemed
born to trouble other people, Mr Ffolliot could not call to mind any
occasion when he had been a nuisance to anybody. He honestly tried and
Such persons as have been nourished in early youth on Mr Thackeray's
inimitable The Rose and The Ring will remember how at the
christening of Prince Giglio, the Fairy Blackstick, who was his
godmother, said, My poor child, the best thing I can send you is a
Now the Fairy Blackstick had evidently absented herself from Hilary
Ffolliot's christening, for his youth was one long procession of
brilliant successes. It is true that his father, an easy-going, amiable
clergyman, died during his first term at Harrow, but that did not
affect Hilary's material comfort in any way. It left his mother
perfectly free to devote her entire attention to him.
He was a good-looking, averagely healthy boy, who carried all before
him at preparatory school. Easily first in every class he entered, he
was quite able to hold his own in all the usual games, and he left for
Harrow in a blaze of glory, having obtained the most valuable classical
Throughout his career at school he never failed to win any prize he
tried for, and when he left, it was with scholarships that almost
covered the expenses of his time at Cambridge. Moreover, he was head of
his house and a member of the Eleven.
His mother, a gentle and unselfish lady, felt that she could not do
enough to promote the comfort of so brilliant and satisfactory a son.
Hilary's likes and dislikes in the matter of food, Hilary's preference
for silk underwear, Hilary's love of art and music, were all matters of
equal and supreme importance to Mrs Ffolliot, and in every way she
fostered the strain of selfishness that exists even in the best of us.
At the university he did equally well. He took a brilliant degree,
and then travelled for a year or so, devoting himself to the study of
Italian art and architecture; and finally accepted (he never seemed to
try for things like other people) a clerkship in the Foreign Office.
When he was eight and twenty his uncle died, and he inherited
His conduct had always been blameless. He shared the ordinary
pleasures of upper-class young men without committing any of their
follies. He was careful about money, and never got into debt. He
accepted kindnesses as his right, and felt under no obligation to
He could not be said ever to have worked hard, for all the work he
had hitherto undertaken came so easily to him. He possessed a large
circle of agreeable acquaintances, and no intimate friends.
He met Marjory Grantly in her second season, and for the first time
in his life fell ardently and hopelessly in love.
Now was the chance for the Fairy Blackstick!
But she evidently took no interest in Hilary Ffolliot, for Marjory,
instead of sending him about his business, and perhaps thus rendering
him for a space the most miserable of men, fell in love with him, and
they were married in three months.
The General, it is true, had misgivings, and remarked to Mrs Grantly
that Ffolliot seemed too good to be true. But there was no disproving
it; and Hilary was so much in love that for a while, for nearly a year,
he thought more about Marjory's likes and dislikes than his own.
And Marjory's likes included such a vast number of other people.
But the chance, the hundred-to-one chance, of turning him into an
ordinary human beingloving, suffering, understandingwas lost.
Once more in Life's Market he had got what he wanted at his own
price, and with the cessation of competitive examinations all ambition
seemed dead in him.
And what of Marjory?
Nobody, not even her father and mother who loved her so tenderly,
ever knew what Marjory felt. She had chosen her lot. She would abide by
it. No doubt she saw her husband as he was, but as time went on she
realised how few chances he had had to be anything different. She was
an only child herself. She, too, had adoring parents, but their
adoration took a different form from the somewhat abject and wholly
blind devotion of Hilary's mother. General and Mrs Grantly saw to it
from the very first that they should love their daughter because she
was lovable, and not only because she was theirs. They had troops of
friends, and exercised a large hospitality that entailed a constant
giving out of sympathy for and interest in other people. That there was
much suffering, and sadness, and sin in the world was never concealed
from Marjory in her happy girlhood; that it had not touched her
personally was never allowed to foster the belief that it did not
exist. That there was also much happiness, and gaiety, and kindness was
abundantly manifest in her own home, and every scope was given her for
the development of the social instincts which were part of her charm.
She went to her husband at twenty handled and made, and twenty years
of married life had only perfected the work.
As a girl she was perhaps intellectually intolerant. Stupid people
annoyed her, and she possessed all youth's enthusiastic admiration for
achievement, for people who did things, who had arrived. Hilary
Ffolliot was a new type to her. His brilliant record impressed her. His
cultivated taste and extraordinary versatility attracted her, and his
evident admiration gratified her girlish vanity.
She was a proud woman, and if she had made a mistake she was not
going to let it spoil her life. Only once did she come near showing her
heart even to her mother. It was a year after the Kitten was born, when
the General had just got the command at Woolwich, and Mrs Grantly once
more came back to the assaulther constant plea that she should have
Ger given over to her entirely.
You really are, Margie, a greedy, grasping woman. Here are you with
six children, four of them sons. And here am I with only one child, a
miserable, measly girl, and you won't let me have even one of the
The miserable, measly girl referred to laughed and knelt down at her
mother's knee. Dearest, you really get quite as much of the children
as is good for youor them
You can't say I spoil them; I didn't spoil you, and you were only
I'm sorry I couldn't be more, Mrs Ffolliot said contritely; but
you see, mother dear, it's like this, it's just because I was only one
I want the children to have as much as possible of each other . . .
while they are young . . . I want them to grow up . . . Mrs Ffolliot
sat down on the floor and leant her head against Mrs Grantly's knees so
that her face was hidden. I want them to realise what a lot of other
people there are in the world, all with hopes and fears and likes and
dislikes and joys and sorrows . . . and that each one of them is only a
very little humble atom of a great wholeand that's what they can
teach each otherI can't do ityou can't do itbut they can manage
it amongst them.
Mrs Grantly did not answer; quick as she was in repartee, she had
the much rarer gift of sympathetic silence. She laid a kind hand on her
daughter's bent head and softly stroked it.
The clock struck four, and still Mr Ffolliot sat on in his chair
with Gaston Latour unopened, held loosely in his long slender
A dignified presence with every attribute that goes to make the
scholar and the gentleman; though one who judged of character from
external appearance might have misdoubted the thin straight lips, the
rather pinched nostrils, the eyes too close together, and above all,
the headhigh and intellectual, but almost devoid of curve at the
back. A clean-cut, ascetic, handsome face, as a rule calm and judicial
in its dignified repose.
This afternoon, though, the Squire lacks his usual serene poise. His
self-confidence has been shaken, and it is his young sons who have
disturbed its delicately adjusted equilibrium.
He was puzzled.
It is a mistake to imagine that selfish and ungrateful people fail
to recognise these qualities in others. Not only are they quick to
perceive incipient signs of them, but they demand the constant exercise
of their opposites in their fellow men.
Mr Ffolliot was puzzled.
Among the words he used most constantly, both on paper and in
conversation, were fine shades and fineness in its most
psychological sense. Fineness was a quality he was for ever
belauding: a quality that he believed was only to be found in persons
of complex character and unusually sensitive organisation.
And yet he grudgingly conceded that he had, that afternoon, been
confronted by it in two of his own quite ordinary children.
What rankled, however, was that Buz, at all events, seemed doubtful
whether he, the Squire, possessed it. The dubious and thrice-repeated
you do understand, don't you, father? rang in his ears.
How was it that Buz, the shallow and mercurial, seemed to fear that
what was so plain to him might be hidden from his father?
Undesired and wholly irrelevant there flashed into his mind that
walk with Mary, a short ten days ago, when he had reproached her with
her limitations, her power to grasp only the obvious. And it was
suddenly revealed to Mr Ffolliot that certain obligations were obvious
to his children that were by no means equally clear to him.
Why was this?
As if in answer came his own phrase, used so often in contemptuous
explanation of their more troublesome vagariesthe Grantly Strain.
He was fair-minded and he admired courage. He in no way underrated
the effort it must have been for Grantly and Buz to come and confess
their peccadillos to him. And he knew very well that only because they
felt someone else was involved had they summoned up courage to do so.
If their evil-doings were discovered, they did not lie, these noisy,
blundering children of his; but they never showed the smallest desire
to draw attention to their escapades.
His mind seemed incapable of concentration that afternoon, for now
he began to wonder how it was that the children lately had managed to
emerge from the noun of multitude and each had assumed a separate
identity with marked and definite characteristics.
There was Mary . . .
Mr Ffolliot frowned. If it hadn't been for Mary he really would have
been quite glad to ask young Gallup to dinner. But Mary complicated
matters; for he had instantly divined what had struck none of the
others, a connection between the Liberal member's amiability to his
sons and the fact that those sons possessed a sister.
Presently Fusby came in to make up the fire. Do you happen to know,
Fusby, if your mistress is in the house and disengaged?
I saw the mistress as I came through the 'all, sir, sitting in a
window reading a book. She was quite alone, sir.
Ah, said Mr Ffolliot, thank you, I will go to her.
As the door was closed behind his master, Fusby arose from brushing
the hearth and shook his fist in that direction.
Go, I should think you would go, you one-eyed old image you. Did
you think I was going to fetch her to wait your pleasure?
Mrs Ffolliot laid down her book as her husband came across the wide
old hall. She made room for him on the window-seat beside her. She
noticed that he was flushed and that his hair was almost shaggy.
Have you got a headache, Larrie? she asked in her kind voice. I
hope Grantly had nothing disturbing to relate.
Yes, no, Mr Ffolliot replied vaguely; I've been thinking things
over, my dear, and I've come round to your opinion that perhaps it
would be the right thing to ask young Gallup to dinner on the
twenty-first. There will be the Campions and the Wards to keep him in
I'm so glad you see it as I do, Mrs Ffolliot said gently, looking,
however, much surprised. After all, he may not come, you know.
He'll come, and his wife wondered why the Squire laid such grim
emphasis upon the words.
By the way, Mr Ffolliot said in quite a new tone, you were saying
something the other day about your mother's very kind offer to have
Mary for some weeks after the May drawing-room. I think it would be a
good thing. You don't want the fag and expense of going up to town so
soon after you've come home. Let her stay with her grandmother for a
bit and go outsee that she has proper clothesthey will enjoy having
the child, and she will see something of the world. Let her have her
flingdon't hurry her.
Why, Hilary, what a volte-face! When I spoke to you about it
before I was ill you said it was out of the question . . .
My dear, said Mr Ffolliot testily, only stupid people think that
they must never change their minds. I have decided that it will be good
for Mary to leave Redmarley for a bit. You must remember that I have
been carefully observing her for the last few weeks. She will grow
narrow and provincial if she never meets anyone except the Garsetshire
people. Surely you must see that?
May I tell Mary? It's such fun when you're young to look forward to
Certainly tell Mary, and let her go as soon as her grandmother will
have her. She'd better get what clothes she wants in town.
She can go up with Grantly when he goes back to the Shop. It is
nice of you, Larrie.
I suppose she must stay for this tiresome dinner? Why not let her
go beforehand? It's always very easy to get an odd girl.
That wouldn't do, Mrs Ffolliot said decidedly, the child would be
disappointedbesides I want her.
Mr Ffolliot sighed. As you will, my dear, he said meekly, but
she'd better go directly it is over.
CHAPTER XXII. THE DREAM GOES ON
Aunt Susan, will you give me a bed on Thursday night?
Eloquent, who was spending the Easter recess at Marlehouse, had
bicycled out to tea with Miss Gallup.
You know as I'm always pleased to give you a bed any time. What do
you want it then for? Are you coming to stop a bit?
Because, Eloquent took a deep breath and watched his aunt closely,
I'm dining at the Manor that night.
Then, said Miss Gallup sharply, you don't have a bed here.
Why ever not? and in his astonishment Eloquent dropped into the
Garsetshire idiom he was usually so careful to avoid.
Because, Miss Gallup was flushed and tremulous, no one shall ever
say I was as a drag on you.
But, Aunt Susan, no one could say it, and if they did, what would
it matter? and what in the world has that to do with giving me a bed?
My dear, said Miss Gallup, I know my place if you don't. When you
goes to dinner with Squire Ffolliot you must go properly from
Marlehouse like anybody elseyou must drive out, or hire a motor and
put it up there, same as other people do, and go back again to your own
house where you're known to beit's in the paper. There's no sort of
use draggin' me in. I always knew as you'd get there some day,
and now you've got there and no one's pleasder than me. Do show me the
Eloquent took a note from his breast-pocket and handed it to his
aunt, who put on her spectacles and read aloud, slowly and
Dear Mr Gallup,If you have no other engagement, will you come and
dine with us on the twenty-first at eight o'clock. It will give us
great pleasure if you can.Yours sincerely,
H'm, now that's not what I should have expected, Miss Gallup said
in a disappointed tone. I should have thought she'd 'a said,
'Mr and Mrs Ffolliot presents their compliments to Mr Gallup, and
requests the pleasure of his company at a dinner-party'I know there
is a party, for Dorcas did tell Em'ly-Alice there was going to be one;
only last night she was talking about itit's downright blunt that
noteI call it
Eloquent laughed. All the same I've accepted, and now do explain
why I can't sleep here instead of trailing all the way back into
Marlehouse at that time of night.
If you can't see, why you must just take my word for it. You
and me's in different walks of life, and it's my bounden duty to see as
you don't bemean yourself. I'm always pleased to see you in a quiet
way, but there's no use in strangers knowing we're relations.
What nonsense, Eloquent exclaimed hotly, I've only got one aunt
in the world, and I'm very proud of her, so let there be an end of this
Miss Gallup wiped her eyes. In some ways, Eloquent, she said
huskily, with all your politics an' that, you're no better than a
I'm hanged if I can see what you're driving at, Eloquent exclaimed
in great irritation. Once more, Aunt Susan, will you give me a bed on
Don't ask me, my dear, don't ask me. It's for your good as I
refuse. I can see the difference between us if you can't, and
when you took on so with politics, and then your father left all that
fortune so as you could leave the likes of the Golden Anchor, I said to
myself, 'Now, Martha Gallup, don't you interfere. Don't you go
intrudin' on your brother's child. If he sees fit to keep friendly it
shows he's a good heart, but you keep your place.' . . . An' I've kep'
it; never have I been near you in Marlehouse, as you knowNot but what
you've as't me, and very pleased I was to be as't . . .
And very displeased I was that you would never come, Eloquent
I know my place, Miss Gallup persisted. I don't mind the likes of
the Ffolliots knowing we're related. . . . They're bound to know, and
they're not proud, none of 'em exceptin' Squire, that is to say, and he
wouldn't think it worth while to be proud to the likes of me. But I
don't want to hang on and keep you down, and there's some as would
think less of you for me bein' your aunt, so where's the use of
flaunting an old-fashioned piece like me in their faces. . . . If
you'll come out next day and tell me all about the party, I'd take it
most kind of you, Eloquent, that I should.
Why shouldn't I come here straight that night? I shouldn't have
forgotten anything by then.
No, Miss Gallup said firmly. I'd much rather you didn't come to
me from that 'ouse nor go there from me. You go back 'ome like a good
boy. It isn't as if you couldn't afford a chaise to bring you.
Eloquent saw that she really meant what she said. He was puzzled and
rather hurt, for it had never occurred to him that his aunt was
anything but his aunt: a kindly garrulous old lady who had always been
extremely good to him, whom it was his duty to cherish, who looked upon
him in the light of a son.
He was a simple person and never realised that this simplicity and
directness had a good deal to do with the undoubted cordiality of
certain persons, who, apart from politics, were known to be very
exclusive in the matter of their acquaintance; and that it was largely
owing to the fact that he never showed the smallest false shame as to
his origin, that members of his party who had at first consented to
know him solely for political reasons, continued to know him when the
Liberal Government was for a second time firmly established. They
perceived his primness, were faintly amused by his immense earnestness,
and they respected his sincerity.
The manner of his arrival on the fateful night was settled for him
by Sir George Campion, who, meeting him in the street, offered him a
seat in their motor. Eloquent never knew that Mrs Ffolliot had asked
Sir George to do this, thinking that it would make things easier and
pleasanter for the guest who was the one stranger to the assembled
On the night of the dinner Mary was dressed early and went to her
mother's room to see if she could help her.
Mrs Ffolliot was standing before her long glass and Sophia was
shaking out the train of her dress, a soft grey-blue dress full of
purple shadows and silvery lights.
She turned and looked at her tall young daughter, critically,
fondly, with the pride and fear and wonder a woman, above all a
beautiful woman, feels as she realises that for her child everything is
yet to come; the story all untold.
You may go, Sophia, she said gently. I think Miss Mary looks
nice, don't you? It's her first real evening frock, you know.
Sophia looked from the one to the other and her severe face relaxed
a little. It fits most beautiful, she vouchsafed.
Mother, Mary said when Sophia had gone, I wanted to catch you
just a minuteI've seen Mr Gallup since that night he came to tell us
about Buz . . .
You've met? Mrs Ffolliot exclaimed, where? and why have you never
It was while you were away. Miss Gallup had been ill and I went to
ask for her and he was there, and he walked home with me . . .
Mrs Ffolliot raised her eyebrows.
Oh, you think it funny too? It couldn't be helpedold Miss Gallup
seemed to think it was the proper thing and sent himand father was
waiting for me at the gate and was awfully cross. . . . Mother, how
did you persuade him to let you ask Mr Gallup?
Mrs Ffolliot turned to her dressing-table and began to collect fan
and handkerchief. She looked in the glass and saw Mary behind her,
eager, radiant, slim, upright, and gloriously young. She began to see
why father was so awfully cross. There was more excuse than usual.
Why don't you answer me, mother? didn't you hear what I said?
I heard, my darling. Father needed no persuasion. He simply changed
his mind; but I can't think why you never told me you had met Mr Gallup
Mary blushed. The warm colour dyed forehead and neck and ears, and
faded into the exceedingly white chest and shoulders, revealed to the
world for the first time.
Mrs Ffolliot saw all this in the glass, wondered if she could have
imagined it, and turned to face her daughter.
Motherwhat honest eyes the child had, to be sureit wasn't the
first time I'd spoken to him.
Really, Mary, you are very mysterious
I met him in the woods once before Christmas, and he was lost, and
I showed him the way out, and father saw us . . . and was just as
Mrs Ffolliot felt more in sympathy with her husband than usual. But
all she said was, Well, well, it's evident you don't need an
introduction. I forgot you'd seen him when he called. I'm glad you told
me in time to prevent it, or he would have thought it so oddcome, my
child, we must go down.
You aren't cross, are you, mother? Mary asked wistfully.
Cross! Mrs Ffolliot repeated, at your first party. What is there
to be cross about? Yes, my child, that dress is quite charmingfather
was right, you can stand that dead whitebut it's trying to some
The Campions called for Eloquent, and he found himself seated side
by side with Sir George on one of the little seats, while Lady Campion
and a pretty niece called Miss Bax sat opposite. Miss Bax was disposed
to be friendly and conversational, but to Eloquent the fact that he was
going to Redmarley was no ordinary occurrence, and he would infinitely
have preferred to have driven out alone, or, better still, to have
walked through the soft spring night from his aunt's house to the
Manor, which still held something of the glamour that had surrounded it
in his childhood.
For him it was still the Manshun, immense, remote, peopled by
inhabitants fine and strange, and far removed from ordinary life. A
house whose interior common folk were, it is true, occasionally allowed
to see, walking on tiptoe, speaking in whispers, led and instructed by
an important rustling old lady who wore an imposing cap and a silk
apron; a strange, silent house where none save servants ever seemed to
come and go. He had not yet quite recovered from the shock it was to
him to hear voices and laughter in that old panelled hall which he had
known in childhood as so vast and shadowy. He liked to remember all
this, and to feel that he was going there as THEIR guest, to be with
THEM on intimate friendly terms. It was wonderful, incredible; it was
part of the dream.
. . . don't you think so, Mr Gallup? asked Miss Bax, and Eloquent
woke with a start to realise that he had not heard a word his pretty
neighbour was saying. He was thankful that the motor was dark and that
the others could not notice how red he was.
I beg your pardon, he said loudly, leaning forward, I didn't
catch what you said.
Is the man deaf? Miss Bax wondered, for the motor was a
Rolls-Royce and singularly smooth and noiseless. I was saying, she
went on aloud, that it will probably be my lot to go in to dinner with
Grantly Ffolliot, and that cadets as a class are badly in need of
snubbing; don't you agree with me?
I haven't met any except young Mr Ffolliot, Eloquent said primly,
and I must say he did not strike me as a particularly conceited young
He isn't, Sir George broke in, he's an exceedingly nice boy, they
all are. Their mother has seen to that.
Boys are so difficult to talk to, Miss Bax lamented; their range
is so limited, and my enthusiasm for football is so lukewarm.
Try him on his profession, Lady Campion suggested.
That would be worse. Cadets do nothing but tell you how hard they
are worked, and what a fearful block there is in the special branch of
the army they are going in for. Is young Ffolliot going to be a Sapper
by any chance? for they're the worst of allconsidering themselves, as
they do, the brains of the army.
I don't think so, said Sir George; he's not clever enough. He's
only got moderate ability and an uncommonly pretty seat on a horse.
He'll get Field all right. But why are you so sure, my dear, that he'll
be your fate? Why not Gallup here? and you could try and convert him to
your views on the Suffrage question? He'd be some use, you know. He
has a vote.
Again Eloquent blessed the darkness as he coloured hotly and brought
his mind back to the present with a violent wrench. He knew he ought to
say something, but what? He fervently hoped they would not assign him
to this severe self-possessed young lady who thought cadets conceited
and had political views. Heavens! she might be another Elsmaria
Buttermish with no blessed transformation later on into something human
I'm afraidhe heard Miss Bax talking as it were an immense way
off as he floated away on the wings of his dreamthat my views would
startle Mr Gallup.
The motor turned in at the drive gates, they had reached the door.
Eloquent was right in the middle of his dream.
He followed Lady Campion and Miss Bax across the hall and down a
corridor to a room he had never been in when he was a child.
Fusby threw open a door and announced loudly, Sir George and Lady
Campion, Miss Bax, Mr Gallup.
They were the last of the guests.
For a little while he was less conscious of his dream. This light,
bright room with white panelled walls and furniture covered with gay
chintzes, soft blurred chintz in palest pinks and greens, with pictures
in oval frames, and people, ordinary people that he had seen before,
all talking and laughing together. This was not the Redmarley that he
knew, grave and beautiful and old.
This was not the Redmarley of his dream. It came back to him as Mrs
Ffolliot gave him her hand in welcome, presenting him to her husband
and one or two other people. It left him as she turned away and Grantly
came forward and greeted him. Grantly, tall and irreproachably well
dressed, cheerful withal and quite at his ease.
Sir George had pulled Mary into the very middle of the room and held
her at arm's length with laughing comments. How could men find the
courage for that sort of thing? He heard him ask what she had done with
her sash, and then Mrs Ffolliot said, I think you know my daughter, Mr
Gallup; will you take her in to dinner?
And once more he was well in the middle of his dream, for he found
himself in the corridor he knew, side by side with Mary, part of a
procession moving towards the dining-room.
Her hand was on his arm, but the exquisite moment was a little
marred by the discovery that she was quite an inch taller than he.
Eloquent had been to a good many public dinners; he had even dined
with certain Cabinet Ministers, but always when there were only men. He
had never yet dined with people of the Ffolliots' class in this
intimate, friendly way, and he found everything a little different from
what he expected. He had read very little fiction, and such mental
pictures as he had evolved were drawn from his inner consciousness. As
always, he wondered how they contrived to be so gay, to talk such
nonsense, and to laugh at it. Seated between Mary and witty Mrs Ward,
whose husband was one of his ardent supporters in the county, he did
his best to join in the general conversation, but he found it hard.
Miss Bax, whose premonition regarding her fate was justified, seemed to
have overcome her objection to cadets. She and Grantly were just
opposite to him, and he noticed with regret that Grantly was drinking
champagne. It would have been better, Eloquent thought, if the boy had
abstained altogether after his experience at the election. Mary, too,
drank champagne, but Eloquent condoned this weakness in her case, she
drank so little. Everyone drank champagne except Sir George, who
preferred whisky, and Eloquent himself, who drank Apollinaris.
Do you suffer from rheumatism? Mary asked innocently. Do you
think it would hurt you once in a way?
I am not in the least rheumatic, Eloquent protested, but I have
never tasted anything intoxicating.
Then you don't know whether you'd like it or not. Why not try some
and see? Mary suggested hospitably.
Eloquent shook his head. Better not, he said, you don't know what
effect it might have on me.
He ate whatever was put before him, wholly unaware of its nature,
and in spite of Mary's efforts to keep the conversational ball rolling
gaily, he was very silent.
The dream had got him again, for he knew this room with the dark oak
panelling and great old portraits of departed Ffolliots, some of them
with eyes that followed you. He knew the room, but as he knew it, the
long narrow table, like the table in a refectory, was bare and polished
and empty; or with a little cloth laid just at one end for old Mr
What did they think of it now, these solemn pictured people?this
long, narrow strip of brilliant light and flowers and sparkling glass
and silver, surrounded by well-dressed cheerful persons, all,
apparently, laughing and talking at the same time.
They had reached dessert, and he was handing Mary a dish of sweets;
she took four. Do take some, she whispered, take lots, and what you
don't want give to me; you can put them in my bridge-bag under the
table, I want them for the children. I promised Ger.
Bewildered, but only too happy to do anything she asked him,
Eloquent helped himself largely.
Now, Mary whispered, holding a little white satin bag open under
the table, and if they come round again, take some more.
It was my grandfather began it, she explained; he used always to
save sweets for us when we stayed with him, and now it's a ruleif we
dine downstairsif there are anythere aren't always, you knowand
Fusby's so stingy, if there are any left he takes them and locks them
up in a box till next time. You watch Grantly, he's got some too, but
he hasn't got anywhere to put them, like me. I must go round behind him
when mother collects eyes, then I'll nip up to Ger, for he'll never go
to sleep till I've been . . .
You see, she went on confidentially, they will take them to
Willets to-morrow. He loves good sweets and he never gets any unless
they take them to him. They'll make a party of it, and Mrs Willets will
give them each a weeny glass of ginger-wine. They'll have a lovely
timedo you know Willets?
By sight, I think . . . he's your keeper, isn't he? From all I can
hear to-night he seems a very remarkable person, everyone is talking
Oh, you ought to know him, he's the greatest dear in Redmarley.
Everyone who knows us knows Willets, and dukes and people have tried to
get him away, he's such a good sportsman, but he won't leave us. We
love him so much we couldn't bear it. He couldn't either. He's been
keeper here nearly twenty-three years. Before mother came he was here,
and now there's all of us he'll never leave.
Have you got enough? Won't they want some for themselves as well as
Thanks to you, I've got a splendid lot. One can't always ask
people, you know, but I thought you wouldn't mind.
Shall I demand some more in a loud voice? there are some at the end
of the table, Eloquent murmured; I'm very shy, but I can be bold in a
Mary looked at him in some surprise. Would you really? Ah, it's too
late, there's mother
Eloquent watched her with breathless interest as she went round the
longest way and received new spoils from Grantly as she passed. How
curious they were about their servants these people, where Fusby seemed
to control the supplies and the children of the house secretly saved
sweets for the keeper.
The men did not sit long over their wine, and it was to the hall
they went and not to the white-panelled room that Eloquent
unconsciously resented as an anachronism; and in the hall bridge-tables
were set out.
This was a complication Eloquent had not foreseen. Among his
father's friends cards were regarded as the Devil's Books, and he did
not know the ace of spades from the knave of hearts.
Would they force him to play, he wondered. Would he cover himself
with shame and ignominy? and what if he said it was against his
principles to play for money?
He braced himself to be faithful to the traditions in which he had
been trained, only to find that on his saying he never had
played bridge no one expressed the smallest desire that he should do
In fact it seemed to him that three tables were arranged with almost
indecent haste, cryptic remarks about cutting in were bandied about,
and in less than five minutes he was sitting on the oak settle by the
fire with Mrs Ffolliot, who talked to him so delightfully that the
dream came back.
Here on the high-backed settle he found courage to tell her how
clearly he remembered that first time he had seen her in his father's
shop; and plainly she was touched and interested, and drew him on to
speak of his queer lonely childhood and the ultimate goal that had been
kept ever before his eyes.
He was very happy, and it seemed but a short time till somebody at
one of the tables exclaimed game and rub, and Mary came over to the
settle saying, Now, mother, you must take my place. I've been awfully
lucky, I've won half a crown.
She sat down beside him on the settle asking, Would you care to
watch, or shall we just sit here and talkwhich would you rather?
What Eloquent wanted to do was to stare: to gaze and gaze at the
gracious young figure sitting there in gleaming white flecked with
splashes of rosy light from the dancing flames, but he could hardly say
I'm afraid it would be of no use for me to watch; I have never
played cards, and don't understand them in the least.
You mean you don't know the suits?
What are suits?
This must be seen to, said Mary; you don't smoke, you drink
nothing festive, you don't know one card from another; you can't go
through life like this. It's not fair. We won't waste another minute,
I'll teach you the suits now.
She made him fetch a little table, she produced a pack of cards. She
spread them out and she expounded. He was a quick study. By the time Mr
Ffolliot came to take Mary's place he knew all the suits. By the time
Mr Ffolliot had thoroughly confused him by a learned disquisition on
the principles of bridge, Lady Campion's motor was announced, and he
departed in her train.
Surely Mr Gallup is a very absent-minded person, Miss Bax remarked
to her aunt when they had deposited Eloquent at his door.
I expect he's shy, said Lady Campion, who was sleepy and not
particularly interested; but wasn't Mary nice to him?I do like that
girlshe's so natural and unaffected.
She always strikes me as being a mere child, said Miss Bax, so
very unformed; is she out yet, or is she still in the schoolroom?
Sir George chuckled. She's on her way out, he said, and, I fancy,
on her way to an uncommonly good time as well. That girl is a sight to
make an old man young.
She certainly is handsome, said Miss Bax.
Sir George chuckled again. Unformed, he repeated, there's some of
us likes 'em like that.
Eloquent sat long in his orderly little dining-room where the glass
of milk and tray of sandwiches awaited him on the sideboard. His head
was in a whirl. She drank champagne. She gambled. She seemed to think
it was perfectly natural and right to do these things. It probably was
if she thought so. She . . .
Heavens! what an adorable wife she would be for a young Cabinet
CHAPTER XXIII. WILLETS
Had Eloquent ever taken the smallest interest in country pursuits he
must have come across Willets, for in that part of the Cotswolds
Willets was as well known as the Marle itself.
A small thick-set man with a hooky nose, and with bright,
long-sighted brown eyes and strong, sensitive hands, wrists tempered
and supple as a rapier, and a tongue that talked unceasingly and well.
Sporting people wondered why Willets, with his multifarious
knowledge of wood and river craft, should stay at Redmarley: a
comparatively small estate, whose owner was known to preserve only
because it was a tradition to do so, and not because he cared in the
least about the sport provided. Willets was wasted, they said, and it
is possible that at one time Willets, himself, agreed with them.
He came originally of Redmarley folk, and his wife from a
neighbouring village. He got on and became one of the favourite
keepers on a ducal estate in the North, much liked both by the noble
owner and his sporting friends; a steady, intelligent man with a real
genius for the gentle craft. He could charm trout from water where,
apparently, no trout existed; he could throw a fly with a skill and
precision beautiful to behold, and he was well read in the literature
of his pursuits. Much converse with gentlemen had softened the
asperities of his Cotswold speech, he expressed himself well, wrote
both a good hand and a good letter, and was very popular with those he
served. Life looked exceedingly rosy for Willetsfor he was happy in
his marriage and a devoted father to his three little girlswhen the
hand of fate fell heavily upon him. There came a terribly severe winter
in that part of Scotland, and one after another the little girls got
bronchitis and died; the three in five months.
He and his wife could bear the place no longer, and came South. The
Duke was really sorry to lose him, and took considerable trouble to
find him something to do in the Cotswold country whence he came.
It happened that just then old Mr Ffolliot was looking for a keeper
who would see after things in general at the Manor, and the fishing in
particular; so Willets accepted the situation merely as a make-shift
for a short time, till something worthier of his powers should turn up.
It was pleasant to be in the old county once more. There was help
and healing in the kind grey houses and the smiling pastoral country.
His wife was pleased to be near her people, and his work was of the
lightest. But Willets was not yet forty, he had ambitions, and the
wages were much smaller than what he had been getting. It would do,
perhaps, for a year or two, and he knew that whenever he liked, his
late master would be glad to have him back and would give him a post in
the Yorkshire dales.
Old Mr Ffolliot died, and his nephew, Hilary, reigned in his stead.
Willets announced to his wife that their time in Redmarley would be
The young Squire married and in the bride's train came General
Grantly with all the patience and enthusiasm and friendly anecdotal
powers of your true angler; and in his train came like-minded brother
officers to whom, it must be conceded, Hilary Ffolliot was always ready
to offer hospitality.
Things livened up a bit at Redmarley, and Willets decided to stay a
Margery Ffolliot liked the Willets and was passionately sorry for
them about the little girls; but it was the Ffolliot children who wove
about Willets an unbreakable charm, binding him to his native village.
One by one, with toddling steps and high, clear voices, they stormed
the little house by the bridge and took its owners captive.
Saving only their mother, Willets had a good deal more to do with
the upbringing of the young Ffolliots in their earliest years than
anybody else. Singly and collectively, they adored him, tyrannised over
him, copied him, learnt from him, and wasted his time with a
prodigality a more sporting master than the Squire might have resented
Thus it fell out that offers came to Willets, good offers from
places far more important than Redmarley, where there were
possibilities both in the way of sport and of tipsthere was a sad
scarcity of tips at Redmarleyand yet he passed them by.
Sometimes his wife would be a little reproachful, pointing out that
they were saving nothing and he was throwing away good money.
Willets had always some excellent reason for not leaving just then.
Redmarley had possibilities; it would be a nice place by the time
Master Grantly was grown up and brought his friends. No one else would
take quite the same interest in it that he did; he was proud of the
children, and money wasn't everything, and so Willets stayed on.
With the arrival of the Kitten his subjugation was completed, and a
seal was set upon the permanence of his relations with the Manor House.
From the days when the Kitten in a white bonnet and woolly gaiters
would struggle out of her nurse's arms to be taken by Willets, sitting
on his knee and gazing at him with wine-coloured bright eyes not unlike
his own, occasionally putting up a small hand encased in an absurd
fingerless glove to turn his face that she might see it better, Willets
was her infatuated and abject slave. When on these occasions he
attempted to restore her to her nurse she would clutch him fiercely and
scream, so that it ended in his carrying her up to the house and up the
backstairs to the nursery, whence he only escaped by strategy.
No day passed without a visit from the Kitten and although he was
not wholly blind to the defects in her character, he was sure she was
the peartest, sauciest, cleverest little baggage in the British
Of course the fact that Eloquent had been asked to dine at the Manor
House was much canvassed in the village. Miss Gallup trumpeted the
matter abroad, and naturally it was discussed exhaustively by what Mr
Ffolliot would have called his retainers.
Willets was not sure that he approved. I've no doubt, he said
leniently to Mrs Willets as they were sitting at tea, that he's a
smart young chap and he's got on wonderfully, but I don't altogether
trust that pushing kind myself, and he's that sort. Why, I saw him,
with my own eyes, walk past this house with our Miss Mary as bold as
brass. I'll warrant if Squire had seen him he'd have been put out.
He was her partner at dinner last night, Fusby was saying, and
what's more, here Mrs Willets lowered her voice mysteriously, he says
as he looked at her that loving, he's sure he's after her.
After your grandmother! Willets said rudely, his hawk's eyes
bright with anger. As if Miss Mary would so much as look at him! Let
him seek a mate in his own class.
That's just what he won't do; Miss Gallupshe's that set-up and
silly about himsays he must marry a lady, one who'll be able to help
him now he's got so high up. I'm surprised, I own it, at Squirebut
probably it was the Mistress, she's all for friendliness always. But
I'll warrant they'd both be in a pretty takin' if they thought he was
after Miss Mary.
I tell you he's nothing of the kind, Willets shouted, thumping the
table so violently that he hurt his hand. It's scandalous to say such
things, and so I'll tell Fusby the first time I see himgossiping old
Now, William, it's no good going on against Fusby. He was as upset
as you could be yourself, an' he only told me when he looked in this
afternoon because he felt worried like. He wouldn't care a bit if it
wasn't that she seems taken with 'im. He says he saw them whisperin' at
dinner, and young Gallup he give something to Miss Mary under the
table. Fusby saw them.
I don't believe it, Willets said stoutly. It's all some
foolishness Fusby's gone and made up. I don't hold with such cackle,
and I'm surprised at you, my dear, allowing him to say such things.
How could I stop him? He was worried, I tell you. You talk to him
about it yourself and see what he says.
I'm not going to talk about Miss Mary to anyone, let alone Fusby.
There's nothing but mischief happens when people begins talking about a
young lady. I've seen it over and over again. If, which I can't
believe, young Gallup's got the cheek to be after our Miss Mary, he'll
be choked off, and pretty quick too.
Who's going to do the chokin'? He's in parlyment, he's got plenty
money, there's nothing against him as I know of, and they've asked him
to their house. Who's going to do the chokin?
Mrs Willets paused, breathless and triumphant. She seemed to take a
malicious delight in considering the possibility of such a courtship.
Willets looked at her steadily. We shan't have far to seek, he
said, and that old fool Fusby's got a maggot in his head. Why, the
fellow's gone to London; Parliament meets to-morrow, I saw it in the
Mrs Willets nodded, as who should say I could an' I wouldaloud
she remarked, And Miss Mary's going to London to her granpa for a long
visit, beautiful new clothes she's gettin', and going to see the King
and Queen and all, so they're certain to meet. It's quite like a story
Willets frowned. He had once spent two days in London. He realised
what a big place it was, but he also remembered that during those two
days he had met seven people he knew in other parts of the country.
CHAPTER XXIV. CROSS CURRENTS
Reggie kept his word as to not interfering with Mary till such time
as she should have seen a little more of the world. How much of the
world in general, and the male portion of it in particular, he was
willing she should see, he could not make up his mind. Sometimes he
thought a very little would sufficiently salve his conscience and make
a definite course of action possible. Reggie was not one of those who
feared his fate. He was always eager to put it to the touch. Inaction
was abhorrent to him. To desire a thing and to do nothing to obtain it
seemed to him sheer foolishness. Whether any amount of effort would get
for him what he desired just now was on the knees of the gods. But it
was the waiting that tried him far more than the uncertainty. He was
not conceited. He was confident, ready to take risks and to accept
responsibility, but that is quite another thing.
Just before her birthday he sent her a little necklet under cover to
Mrs Ffolliot, asking that it might be put with Mary's other presents on
her plate that morning. And she had written to thank him for it, but he
did not answer the letter. He had always been by way of writing to her
from time to time; letters, generally embellished with comic sketches
and full of chaff and nonsense, which were shared by the family. Lately
he had not felt in the mood to write such letters. He wanted to see her
with an unceasing ache of longing intense and persistent; and if he
wrote he wanted to write, not a love letterReggie did not fancy he'd
be much of a hand at love lettersbut something intimate and revealing
that would certainly be unsuitable for family reading.
Then he got two letters from Redmarley that seemed to him to need an
These were the letters:
DEAR REGGIE,We were all very excited to see it in the Gazette
this morning, though of course we knew it was coming. The children took
the Times down to Willets at tea-time, and Fusby was at special
pains to ask mother after lunch if there was any chance of Captain Peel
coming down soon. Is there? You won't find me here unless it's very
soon, for I'm actually to be allowed to stay with grannie for quite a
long time. After swearing that I should only go up for the
drawing-room, and that it was nonsense to talk of my going out at all
till mother could take me, the pater has suddenly veered round,
and I am to go up to Woolwich on May-Day, and what's more, he is taking
me up himself. At first I thought I was to go with Grantly when he went
back to the Shop, but that wouldn't do seemingly, Grantly wasn't enough
chaperon, so father's coming just for one night.
Last night we had a dinner-party and the Liberal member took me in.
He is such an odd little man. Very, very good, I should think; very
kindnot hard-hearted and ruthless like some people who write cruel
stories about warhe is a nonconformist of sorts and doesn't do any of
the usual things, so it's a little difficult to talk to him, but mother
managed itto make him talk, I mean. I heard him murmuring away like
anything while we were playing bridge. She likes him too. He has an odd
way of looking at you as if you were a picture and not a person. Don't
you think it's fun to be going to town on May-Day and to have proper
dinner every night whether there are people or not. I hope there will
be lots of people. Do come to Woolwich while I'm there, and mind you
treat me with great respect.
When is the new story coming out? I wish they'd hurry up. It will be
so exciting to hear people talk about it and to think I know who wrote
it and they don't. Clara Bax came with the Campions last nightdo you
remember her? She is very pretty and so clever, understands all
about politics and things like that. Fancy, she sells newspapers in the
street for the Cause. She asked me if I'd help her, and I thought it
would be great fun, but fatheryou know how he pouncesheard from the
other end of the table, and though just a minute before he'd been ever
so sympathetic with Miss Bax, at once interfered, and said I was much
too ignorant to take any active part as yet, and Grantly frowned at me
across the table. Would you buy a newspaper from me, I wonder?
When father pounces I always feel that I could almost marry an
impossible person just to annoy him; but the worst of it is that I
should have the impossible person always, and I might get rather tired
of it. Why should Miss Bax steal a horse and father beam and pay her
compliments, and yet if I so much as look over the fence he shoos me
away with a pitch-fork.
I wonder if you will get out to India, as you wish? In a way I hope
you won't, because you'd go out in the autumn, wouldn't you? and if you
are stationed anywhere at home you could come sometimes for a few days'
hunting; but of course if you want it very much I want you to have it.
This is a very long letter. Good-bye, Reggie, and heaps of grats.
You a captain and me grown up: we are coming on.Yours:
MARY B. FFOLLIOT.
P.S.Some fiend in human shape sent Ger a little red book, trumpet,
and bugle notes for the army, and he makes Miss Glover play them and
then practises. There's one thing, it's a little change from the
eternal cook-house door, but it's very dreadful all the same.
BRIDGE HOUSE, REDMARLEY,
DEAR SIR,Excuse the liberty I take in writing to offer you my
congratulations on the announcement in the paper yesterday. Master Ger
and Miss Kitten came to tea with my wife, and the mistress, with her
usual kindness, sent me the paper. When I first knew you, sir, you were
very much the size Master Ger is now, and yet it seems but yesterday
when I was teaching you to throw a fly just beyond the bridge here. I
always look on you as one of our young gentlemen, for you've come
amongst us so many years now and always been so free and pleasant, and
I hope I may have the pleasure of going out with you often in the
future, though Master Ger did say he'd heard that you were thinking of
India. If that is so, I hope you'll make a point of coming down for a
few days early in June, when the fly will be at its best. If this mild
weather continues we ought to get some very sizeable fish.
It's funny to me to think how I've been here twenty-three years come
Michaelmas, and when the present Squire came I never thought I should
stop, he not being fond of sport. If I may say so, you, sir, had a good
deal to do with me stopping on that first summer, me being very fond of
children, and then when they came at the Manor House and the mistress
always sent them down to be shown to us as soon as ever they went out,
I began to feel I'd taken root here, and so I suppose I have.
Master Ger is becoming a first-rate performer on the bugle, he
played for us yesterday, quite wonderful it was. My wife begs to join
with me in respectful congratulations.Your obedient servant,
He wrote to Willets at once, promising to come down at the end of
May for a week-end, even if he couldn't get more. He was frightfully
busy, for he was one of the instructors at Chatham, and had many other
irons in the fire as well. He waited till he knew Mary was in Woolwich
and then he wrote to her:
It was nice of you to send me such pretty grats, and I am truly
appreciative. I also had the jolliest letter from old Willets. He
promises good sport very shortly, and I shall make a point of turning
up at Redmarley when the fly is on the water, if only for a couple of
nights, for when Willets foretells sizeable fish you know you're in
for a first-class thing. It will be queer to be at the Manor House and
you away. Only once has that happened to me, the year you were at
school, and now all that's shuv be'ind you and you're out and dancing
about. I shall certainly have urgent private affairs in Woolwich during
the next month. Talk of respect! When was I ever anything but
grovelling? And once I have gazed upon your portrait in train and
feathers I shall be reduced to such a state of timidity you won't know
The other day I met your friend Clara Bax selling Votes for Women
at the Panton Street corner of Leicester Square, and she hadn't at all
a Hurrah face on. I greeted her and bought one of the beastly little
papers, and went on my way. But something caused me to look back, and I
beheld Miss Bax seemingly in difficulties with two young
feller-me-lads, who evidently had no intention of going on. There was
no policeman handybesides, there's a coolness at present between
members of the force and the fair militantsso I went back and dealt
faithfully with Miss Bax's admirers, and they departed, I regret to
Miss Bax seemed rather shaken, the type was evidently new to her,
and I suggested that she should quit her pitch for the moment and come
and have lunch with me; so we went together to the Petit Riche,
where we consumed an excellent omelette; and the bundle of papers,
which I, Mary, had nobly carried through the streets of London, sat on
a chair between us and did chaperon.
Personally, I see no reason why women should not have votes if they
want 'em, but I see every reason why no woman, and above all no young
woman, should sell papers anywhere, more especially in Leicester
Square. I'd like to give the Panks, and the Peths, and the Hicemen a
bit of my mind on the subject. The mere thought of you ever indulging
in such unseemly vagaries fills me with horror unspeakable. Talk of the
Squire! Pouncing and pitchforks wouldn't be in it with me, I can tell
you, and yet Miss Bax isn't an orphan.
That very day I met a lugubrious procession of females, encased in
large sandwich-boards proclaiming a meeting somewhere. They were
dismally dodging the traffic, and looked about as dejected as they
could lookladies every one of them. I begin to think old England's no
place for women when they're reduced to that sort of thingwhat do you
say to India for a change?
The story will be out next month, but you won't like ittoo
I hope young Grantly's doing some work. This term counts a lot, and
he mustn't pass out low for the honour of the family.
My salaams to the General and Mrs Grantly, and to youmy
remembrances. Do you, by the way, remember our last ride together in
January? When shall we have another? Would the General let us ride in
the park one day if I could get off?Yours,
P.S.Why the kind and blameless member for Marlehouse? Has the
Squire changed his politics? It's all very well for you to say the
young man looked at you as if you were a picture. We've another name
for that sort of sheep's eyes where I come from. He'd better not let me
catch him at it.
Eloquent came to the conclusion that it is very difficult to pay
court to a girl who belongs to what his father was wont to call the
classes. He wondered how they managed it. Such girls, it seemed to
him, were never left alone for a minute. One's only chance was to see
them at parties in a crowd, and if you did dine at their houses, there
was always bridge directly after dinner, when conversation was
restricted to I double hearts, or with you, or No. He studied the
rules of bridge industriously, for he found on inquiry that even
Cabinet Ministers did not disdain it as a recreation. Therefore Dalton
shared with blue-books the little table by his bed.
It's a far cry from Westminster to Woolwich, and in spite of
indefatigable spade-work on his part, it was well on in the third week
in May before he so much as caught a glimpse of Mary Ffolliot.
Then one morning he saw her in Bond Street with her grandmother. She
was on the opposite side of the street rather ahead of him, but he knew
that easy strolling walk, the flat back, and proud carriage of the
head: that head with its burnished hair coiled smoothly under a
bewitching hat. They stopped to look in at Asprey's window, and he
dashed across the road in the full stream of traffic. Two indignant
taxi-drivers swore, and he reached the curb breathless, but uninjured,
just as they went into the shop.
He stood staring at the window, keeping at the same time a sharp
look-out on the door.
What an age they were!
He had just decided that the only thing to do was to go in and buy
something, when they came out.
Mary saw him at once, and his round face looked so wistful that she
greeted him with quite unnecessary warmth. She recalled him to Mrs
Grantly, who, remembering vaguely that he was a young man who had
risen from the ranks, was also more cordial than the occasion
He walked up Bond Street with them, piloted them across Piccadilly,
and turned with them down Haymarket, so plainly delighted to see them,
so nervous, so pathetically anxious to please, that Mrs Grantly's
hospitable instincts, fatally easy to rouse where pity played a part,
overcame her discretion. Her husband and her daughter used to declare
that she had a perfect genius for encumbering herself with impossible
peopleand repenting afterwards. With dismay she realised that
Eloquent had, apparently, attached himself to them. Short of cruelly
wounding his feelings, she saw herself walking about London all day,
accompanied by this painfully polite young man. It seemed impossible to
call a taxi, and leave him desolate there on the pavement unless . . .
Mrs Grantly's heart was hopelessly soft where animals were concerned,
and just then Eloquent reminded her of nothing so much as an
affectionate dog, allowed to frisk gaily to the front door, and cruelly
shut in on the wrong side, as she said
We've got to meet my husband at the Stores, Mr Gallup, perhaps
you'll kindly get us a taxi, as I'm rather tired.
His woebegone face was too much for her, and she added, We're
always at home on Sunday afternoons.
Mary rather wondered at her grannie.
The taxi drove away and Eloquent walked down Haymarket as though he
were treading on air. To-day was Friday. Sunday, oh blessed day! was
the day after to-morrow.
There were clovers nodding in her hat, a wide-brimmed fine straw hat
that threw soft shadows over her blue eyes and turned them dark as the
clear water underneath Redmarley Bridge. And he would see her again on
That lady, that handsome portly lady, he had been afraid of her at
first, she looked so large and imposing, but how kind she was! How
wonderfully kind and hearty she had been. It was she who had invited
him. We are always at home on Sundays, she said. Surely that meant he
might go more than once?
That night he made his maiden speech in the House.
* * * * * *
Reggie went down to Redmarley at the beginning of June from Saturday
afternoon till Sunday evening. The Squire had a bad cold and was
confined to the house. His nerves vibrated, so did the tempers of other
people, but Reggie did not care. He joined Willets at the river and
fished till dinner-time. Directly after dinner he went out again and
they had splendid sport till nearly ten. Willets walked with him back
to the house, and Reggie had a curious feeling that Willets wanted to
tell him something and couldn't come to the point. So strong was this
feeling that as they parted he said, I shan't go to bed yet, Willets.
It's such a perfect nightmay stroll down to the bridge, and if you're
still up we might have a cigar together.
He went into the house, chatted a while to Mrs Ffolliot and the
Squire, and when they went to bed let himself out very quietly and
strolled down the drive and out of the great gates to the bridge. The
perfect peace of the warm June night, the yellow moonlight on the quiet
water, the wide-spanned bridge, the long straggling street of irregular
gabled houses so kindly and so sheltering with their overhanging eaves,
the dear familiar charm of it all seemed to grip Reggie by the throat
and caused an unwonted smarting in his eyes.
The village was absolutely deserted save for one motionless figure
sitting on the wall at the far end of the bridge.
Hullo, Willets, Reggie called, not in bed yet?
I'm always a bit wakeful when the fly's up, sir; the river seems to
draw me, and I can't leave it.
Have a cigar, said Reggie, and sat down beside him.
They smoked in silence for a few minutes till Willets said
Seen anything of Miss Mary up there, sir?
No, Willets, I haven't been able to get away for a minute till now,
but I may manage to run down to Woolwich next week just to buck to the
General about my catch. You'll have him down then post hasteI
I suppose, sir, said Willets, with studied carelessness, you
never happened to come across the young man that's member for these
What, young Gallup? I believe I saw him once. He's making quite a
name for himself I hear, his maiden speech was in all the papers. By
the way though, I did hear of him the other day in a letter I
had from Miss Mary. They'd all been to dine at the House of Commons
with him, and had no end of a time.
Well I am damned! said Willets.
He said it seriously, almost devoutly, and Reggie turned right round
to stare at him.
I beg your pardon, sir, I'm sure, but I really was fairly
He stood up sturdy and respectful in a patch of moonlight, and his
keen brown eyes raked Reggie's as though they would read his very soul.
It wasn't an easy soul to read, and Reggie knew that Willets had
something on his mind, so he waited.
I beg your pardon, sir, Willets said again. He had never got over
the feeling that Reggie was one of the young gentlemen, and that it
behoved him to be careful of his language in front of him.
Reggie Peel laughed. Look here, Willets, he said, what's your
objection? Why shouldn't they go to the House of Commons to dine with
Gallup if it amuses them?
I don't know, sir, I'm sure, but I was took aback. An' in a small
place like this it's certain to make talk. That old Miss Gallup, now,
she'll be boasting everywhere that our Miss Mary went to dine with her
nephew, just as she did when he went to a dinner party up at the house,
and for us as belongs to the housewell, we don't relish it. I
hope, sir, Willets went on in quite a different tone, that you'll
make it convenient to go up and see after Miss Mary?
The hawk's eyes were fixed unwinkingly on Reggie's face, so lean and
sallow and set; the moonlight accentuated the rather hollow cheeks. and
cast black shadows round his eyes, which looked green and sinister.
Suddenly he smiled, and when Reggie smiled, his whole face altered.
Out with it, Willets, he said, what maggot have you got in your
head now? You're worried about something; you may as well tell me. I'm
safe as a church.
I'd like to know, sir, Willets remarked in a detached impersonal
tone, what's your opinion of mixed marriages?
What sort of marriages?
Well marriages where one of the parties has had a different
bringing up to the other. Now suppose, sirdo you know Miss
Shipwayover to Marlehouse; her father's got that big shop top of the
market-place full of bonnets and mantles and suchgood-looking girl
I'm afraid I don't know the lady, Willets; why?
Well, sir, it's this way. She'll have a tidy bit of money when old
Shipway dies; her mother was cook at the Fleece, but they've got on.
Well now, sir, suppose you was to go after Miss Shipway-
Reggie's eyes twinkled. It might be a most sensible proceeding on
my parta poor devil like meif as you say she's a nice girl and will
have a lot of money. Will you give me an introduction?
I'm not jokin', sir, nor taking the liberty to propose anything of
the sort; it's only
A hypothetical case?
That's it, sir. I mean suppose a gentleman like yourself was to
marry a girl like her, do you think you'd be happy?
Surely it would all depend on whether they liked each otherand
liked the same things
Ah, sir, that's it. Would you like the same things, do you
Well, Willets, I don't see that you've any cause to worry.
Unfortunately I don't know the young lady, so I can't see how I'm to
get any forrader.
Suppose, sir, a young lady, like what the Mistress was,
should marry a man in quite a different rank from herself, do you think
they'd be happy?
It depends, said Reggie, what sort of a chap he was. People rise,
Well, suppose he did, would they happy?
I couldn't say, Willets, I'm sure. Is it any particular young lady
you're worried about?
Willets sat down on the wall. In my time, he said slowly, I've
seen a good bit; and all I have seen, seems to me to show that it's
safest for ladies and gentlemen to stick to their own class. But I
thought I'd like to have your opinion, sir.
For five minutes they sat in silence, then Willets remarked, And
you think you'll be going up to town next week, sir?
I think so. I shall try anyway.
Would you be so good, sir, as to say to General Grantly that he'd
better not put off much longer if he wants the best of the fishing.
I'll be sure and tell him, Willets. I suppose we must go to bed.
Many thanks for the splendid sport. I have to get back to Chatham
to-morrow, worse luck, and with the Sunday trains it takes a deuce of a
Good-night, sir, I'm glad you managed to come, even though it was
for but one night.
Reggie let himself in very quietly and went up to his room.
He lit his pipe and went to the window to smoke it.
The moonlight was so brilliant that he drew a letter from his pocket
and read it easily:
Dear Reggie, it ran, yours was a lovely long letter. I'm glad you
rescued poor Clara, and you needn't be afraid of me selling papers or
carrying sandwich boards. I'm much too busy having a lovely time. Oh
never have I had such a time, but I grieve to tell you that both
Ganpy and I are very shocked at the behaviour of Grannie. She is having
an outrageous flirtation with young Mr Gallup, our member. It's all
very well for her to say she is forming him. She is undermining all his
most cherished principles, and if his nonconformist constituents hear
of his goings on I don't believe they'll ever have him again.
She has taught him auction: he played with her last Sunday
afternoon because it was too wet to be out in the garden. She has sent
him to lots of plays: he came with us one night to the Chocolate
Soldier; she talks politics to him by the hour and demolishes his pet
theories. She tells him that he has, up to now, thought so many things
wrong that he can't possibly have any sense of proportion, or properly
discriminate what really matters and what doesn't; and she is so brisk
and masterful and delightfully amusingyou know Grannie's waythat
the poor young man doesn't know whether he's on his head or his heels,
and simply follows blindly wherever that reckless woman leads. He gave
a dinner for us in the House the other night and got Ganpy a seat in
the Stranger's Gallery. He couldn't get us into the Ladies' Gallery
because of the silly rule about only wives and sisters or near
relations made since the suffragette fusses, but he showed us all about
and it was simply fascinating. Of course Grannie met lots of members
she knew, and we enjoyed ourselves awfully. We are going to tea on the
Terrace next week. The dance at the Shop was ripping, and you needn't
think I only danced with cadets. I danced with majors and colonels, and
a beautiful captain in the Argyle and Sutherland, but I've come to the
conclusion that the jolliest thing is to be Ganpy's wife on these
occasions. You never saw such court as gets paid to Grannie. She never
has a dull minute.
Grantly went home on Sat. just for the night, and he says it's all
too beautiful for words. Sometimes I feel wicked to be missing it, and
I get homesick for mother and the children; but I do enjoy it all. When
are you coming up to play about too? You stern, industrious young man.
Reggie folded the letter and put it back in his pocket.
So that's what old Willets was driving at, he thought. He leaned
out again to shake the ash out of his pipe. In the far east there was a
pearly streak. Daylight, he muttered, and by Jove I see it.
CHAPTER XXV. MEN'S MEAL, FIRST
Mrs Grantly was interested in Eloquent. He was quite unlike any of
the innumerable young men she had had to do with before. His simplicity
and directness appealed to her; she admired his high seriousness even
while she seemed to deride it, and though violently opposed to his
party, she shared that party's belief in his political future.
The General shook his head; not over what he and Mary called
Grannie's infatuation for Mr Gallup, but over the possible results of
this friendliness and intimacy to Mr Gallup. For the General saw
precisely the same possibilities that Mr Ffolliot had seen, and didn't
like what he saw one whit better than did the Squire.
Eloquent never saw Mary alone. Generally he was wholly taken
possession of by Mrs Grantly, or such friends of hers as would be
bothered with him. Yet his golden dream was with him continually, and
in the dear oasis of his fancy he walked in an enchanted garden with
Mary. In his waking moments, his sane practical moments, he would
realise that it was sheer absurdity to imagine that she ever could care
for him. He did not expect her to care, butand here he drifted across
the desert of plain possibilities into the merciful mirage of things
hoped forif she would condescend to let him serve her, he might take
heart of grace.
He watched her carefully.
It did not seem to him that there was anybody else. There were
crowds: crowds of dreadful, well-dressed, good-looking, cheerful men,
who chaffed and laughed and quaffed any drinks that happened to be
going; but he did not fear the enemy in battalions, and so far it
appeared that her besiegers always attacked in companies.
Sometimes he was sure that she knew how he felt, and was trying in
gentle, delicately pitiful ways to show him that it was of no use. Then
again he would dismiss this thought as absurd and conceited. How should
Mary know? How could she try to show him she didn't care when he had
never shown her that he did? How could he show her?
It was this desire to show her, this hope of familiarising her with
the idea that caused Eloquent to resort to every possible place where
he might see her. He went down to Woolwich as often as decency would
permit, which wasn't often. He inundated Mrs Grantly with invitations
to the House, and he haunted the theatres, generally in vain, in the
hope of seeing her at the play. He would often reflect bitterly how
easy things were for the young shopman in these matters. He met his
girl and took her for a walk, and no one thought any the worse of
either of them. There was none of this nerve-racking, heartrending
uncertainty, this difficulty of access, this sense of futility, in
Of the many mysterious attributes of the classes, there was none
to be so heartily deplored as their entire success in secluding their
young women, while apparently they gave them every possible opportunity
for amusement of all kinds.
* * * * * *
Reggie went down to Woolwich once while Mary was with her
grandparents, but it was not, from her point of view, a very
satisfactory visit. Reggie was grumpy, and looked very tired and
overworked. Moreover, Mary, though she could not have confessed it for
the world, was just a trifle hurt that he never reminded her of that
last ride together.
Just as he was leaving on the Sunday night, and they were all in the
garden, he walked with her a little way down a winding path that hid
them from the others, saying abruptly
Shall I let you know directly if they are going to send me to the
Of course I should like to know, but . . . India is a long way off,
Reggie, why do you want to go so far?
Because, my dear, it means work and promotion, and one's chance,
and lots of things; one being quite decent pay. Besides, I like India,
I shall be glad to go back, if . . .
They had followed the path, and it led them out to the lawn again,
where the others were standing. He didn't finish his sentence
Say you want me to get out there, Mary.
Of course I want you to go if you really wish it.
I'll let you know then. I shall know myself early in July, I fancy
. . . perhaps I'll run down to Redmarley; you'll be back then?
They joined the others; Reggie made his farewells and left.
Mary went and took her grandfather's arm, and made him walk round
the garden with her. She developed an intelligent interest in
geography, and made searching inquiries as to the healthiness of India
It was comforting to walk arm and arm with grandfather. She didn't
know why, but she felt a little frightened, a little homesick. How
clearly one can see some people's faces when they are not there. What
unusual eyes Reggie had, so green in some lights. He was looking
dreadfully thin, poor boy, downright ill he looked, and yet everyone
said he was very strong. No one else shook hands quite like Reggie: he
had nice hands, strong and gentle; thin, but not hard and nubbly. Why
is a summer night often so sad? Night-scented stock has a sad smell,
though it is so sweet. He shouldn't work so hard. He was overdoing it.
Surely if he went to India they'd give him some leave . . . it might be
years before he came back. Three years he was away once.
Mary clasped both her hands over her grandfather's arm. I do love
you so, Ganpy, she said; there's nobody like you in the world, no one
The General smiled in the twilight, and pressed the arm in his
against his side. He said nothing at all, yet Mary felt vaguely
In the beginning of July she went back to Redmarley, and everyone
was very glad to see her again. One Saturday morning when the Squire
and Mrs Ffolliot had started in the victoria to lunch with neighbours
on the other side of Marlehouse, Mary called Parker and went to walk in
the woods. It was a grey morning, warm and sunless and still. She
wandered about quite aimlessly. She was restless and unsettled, and had
a good deal to think over.
Just before she left Woolwich, Eloquent Gallup had called one
afternoon when both the General and Mrs Grantly were out; but he asked
boldly for Mary. She was at home, and he was shown into the cool, shady
garden, where she was lying in a hammock reading a novel.
This was Eloquent's chance and he took it. He did not stay long. He
left before tea, but during the time he did stay he contrived to let
Mary see . . . what it must be confessed she had already suspected. He
said nothing definite. He was immensely distant in his reverence, but a
much humbler girl than Mary could hardly have mistaken his meaning. He
was so pathetically diffident it was impossible to snub him, and she
had no desire to snub him. Always she was immensely sorry for himwhy,
she did not know.
He was plain. He was insignificant. He was not a gentleman by birth,
but he wasand Mary's standard was fairly highso far as she could
see, a thorough gentleman in feeling and in action. Moreover, he had
ability, and an immense capacity for hard work, both of them qualities
that appealed to Mary.
So she allowed herself to dally vaguely with the idea. It was very
pleasant to be set in a shrine; to be worshipped; to be served in a
prayerful attitude of adoration. To be able by a kind word, a kind
glance, to raise a fellow creature to a dizzy height of happiness. How
could anyone be unkind to that excellent little man? Suppose . . . this
was a daring supposition, and Mary grew hot all over as she entertained
itsuppose, in the dim and distant future, when Reggie . . . Reggie
had never written after he went back to Chatham, nothing had happened
then about India; but suppose he did go for years and years, and forgot
her . . . perhaps he had never wanted to remember her in that
particular way, and she had magnified quite little things that meant
nothing at all. . . . Suppose she ultimately, years hence, could bring
herself to marry Mr Gallup. How angry her father would be! But that was
a prospective contingency that only amused Mary. He would be angry
whoever she married. He would be exceedingly angry if she got engaged
to . . . that young man at Chatham who was so taciturn and neglectful .
. . who didn't seem to want to get engaged to anyone. Clara Bax said it
would be dreadfully dull to marry anyone you'd known all your life.
Would it? Clara Bax said it would be tiresome in the extreme to marry
anybody. But about that Mary was not sure.
Westminster is certainly the nicest part of London; there are bits
of it that remind one of Redmarley. It would be pleasant to be rich and
important, and feel that you are helping to pull the wires that control
destinies; helping to make history. Ah, that was what Reggie called it.
He would do it. She was sure of that; but Reggie's wife would have no
hand in it.
With clear intuition she saw that of these two men, only one could
be influenced by his wife in anything that concerned his work. Reggie's
wife would be outside all that. Eloquent's wife, if she were the
right woman, would share everything: and at that moment Parker
began to bark, and Mary found that she had walked into a part of the
wood called the Forty Firs, and that Eloquent Gallup was standing right
on the very same spot, where seven months ago she had assisted him to
rise from a puddle.
Parker didn't like Eloquent upright a bit better than he had liked
Eloquent prone, and he made a great yapping and growling and bouncing
and skirmishing around about the two of them, until he finally subsided
into suspicious sniffing at Eloquent's ankles.
Has Parliament risen then? Mary asked, when she had soothed Parker
No, Miss Ffolliot, I came downEloquent's eyes were fixed
hungrily on her face, and she noticed that his was nothing like so
round as it used to be, and that he was very palebecause I couldn't
Mary said nothing. There seemed nothing to say.
Miss Ffolliot, Eloquent said again, I think you must know why I
have come down, what I feel about you, what I have felt about you since
the first minute I saw you in this very place, when I was so ridiculous
and you so beautiful and kind. I have travelled a good way since then,
but I know that in caring for you as I do I am still ridiculous, and it
is only because you are so beautiful and kind, although you are so far
above me, that I dare to tell you what I feel . . . but I would like
your leave to think about you. Somehow, without it, it seems an
impertinence, and, God knows, no man ever felt more worship for a woman
than I feel for you. Do you give me that leave?
Mary was very much touched, very much shaken. Eloquent's power lay
in his immense earnestness. She no longer saw him small and
insignificant and common. She saw the soul of him, and recognised that
it was a great soul. For one brief moment she wondered if she could . .
Through the woods rang the notes of a bugle. Ger was playing Come
to the cook-house door. Mary's heart seemed to leap up and turn right
Come to the cook-house door is not by any means one of the most
beautiful of the bugle sounds of the British Army. It is rather jerky
at the best of times, and as performed by Ger it was wheezy as well.
But for Mary just then it was a clear call to consciousness.
Pity and sympathy and admiration are not love: and Mary knew it, and
in that moment she became a woman.
Eloquent had taken her hand, taken it with a respect and gentleness
that affected her unspeakably. She gave a little sob. She did not try
to draw it away. Oh dear, she sighed, I am so sorry, for it's all no
use, and the tears ran down her cheeks.
Eloquent lifted her hand and kissed it.
Don't cry, my dear, he said, don't cry. I'm glad I've known you
and loved you. . . .
Again through the woods there rang that first call so dear to the
heart of Ger.
Good-bye, Mr Gallup, I mustn't stay . . . try to forgive me, and .
Forgive, Eloquent repeated scornfully, what have I to forgive?
That is for you.
Mary turned and walked swiftly away, and Eloquent watched her till
she was out of sight.
Parker kept close at her side, but every now and then he jumped up
and tried to lick her face. Parker knew all was not right with Mary and
he was uneasy.
Mary knew full well that it was to no comfortable cook-house door
that Ger had summoned her. That wheezy bugle called her to the outposts
of the world; to a life of incessant acerbating change, where there was
no certainty, no stability, no sweet home peace, or that proud fixity
of tenure that is the heritage of those who own the land on which they
live. She had no illusions. Not in vain had she lived with her
grandmother at Woolwich and heard the lamentations of the officers'
wives when plans were changed at the last moment, and the fair prospect
of a few years at home was blotted out by the inexorable orders for
foreign service. And the Sappers were worst of all, for except at a
very few stations they hadn't even a mess, and there was not the
friendly fellowship of the Regiment to count upon.
The yard was quite deserted, for the men had gone to dinner. She
paused at the gate and looked long and lovingly at the clustering
chimneys, and lichened, grey-green roofs she loved: and as she looked a
new sound broke the stillness. Three loud reports and then the
touf-touf, spatter-dash-spatter-dash of a motor bicycle.
Mary opened the gate, went through, shut it behind her and leant
against it, for her knees were as water.
The noise came on, it passed the house, turned into the back drive,
came round, and someone in overalls, covered with dust from head to
foot, swept into the deserted yard; saw Mary, pulled up short, and
pushed the bike against a wall.
This dusty person tore off his goggles. It was Captain Reginald
Peel, R.E., and he came across the yard towards her.
Hullo, Mary, he said, I told you I'd let you know whenever I
heard. The A.A.G.'s a brick, I'm going to India. Marching orders came
Mary's lips trembled and her voice died in her throat. Reggie took
out a large silk handkerchief and mopped his dusty face.
He came on towards her and took both her hands.
Mary, he said, can you leave all this? Can you face it? Will you
come with me and help me to build bridges and make roads and dig
drains. . . . Will you come so that we can have the rest of our lives .
. . together?
They looked straight into one another's eyes.
I will, said Mary, and she said it as solemnly as if she were
repeating a response in the Marriage Service.
Reggie loosed one of her hands. Again he polished his face.
I should like awfully to kiss you, he said, but I'm so fearfully
dustydo you mind?
I think, said Mary, with a queer choky laugh, that I'd rather
And just at that moment Willets appeared at a gate leading from the
garden. He didn't see them, and opened the gate, which squeaked
abominably, came through and let it shut with a clang, but they,
apparently, heard nothing.
Willets stood transfixed, for he saw the motor-bike and the dusty
young man in overalls, and clasped close in the arms of the said dusty
young man was Miss Mary!
Willets gave one quick glance, smote his hands softly together, and
turned right round with his back to them. He leaned on the gate and
gazed steadfastly into the distant garden. It was a squeaky gate, that
gate. If he opened it, it might disturb them, and bless you, they were
but young, and one is only young once.
So kindly Willets stared, with eyes that were not quite so keen as
usual, at the bit of garden he could see; and there, delphiniums were
blooming. The sun came out just at that moment, and they looked
particularly blue and tall and splendid.
It seemed to Willets that he admired those delphiniums for hours and
hours, but it was really only a few minutes till he heard a rather
husky voice behind him saying, It's all right, Willets, you may turn
round and congratulate us.
And there they were both standing as bold as brass he said
afterwards, and the delphiniums he had just been studying so closely
were not as blue as Mary's eyes.