The Satyr by
Myra Larose was a good governess, capable, and highly certificated.
At Salston Hill School they rewarded her services with forty pounds
per annum, and board and lodging during term-time. She had often been
fortunate enough to secure private pupils for the holidays, and she
knew a stationer who bought hand-painted Christmas cards. At the end of
four years' work she had thirty-five pounds saved and in the Post
Office. And then Aunt Jane, the last of her relatives, died, and left
her a fine two hundred and fifty. This meant another ten pounds per
Things were not so bad, but they did not, of course, justify the
very mad idea that came into her pretty heada head that, so far, had
proved itself sane and practical.
The girls of the school considered that Miss Larose was strict but
just, and that she had nice eyes. The principal, Mrs Dewlop, when
prostrate from the horrible Davenant scandal, had declared that she
would never think highly of any human being again; but she did think
highly of Myra, even to the extent of considering the possibility of an
increase of salary. Myra's fellow-teachers thought her sensible, and
chaffed her mildly at times about her economies and her accumulation of
wealth. No one would have supposed her capable of anything wild and
Possibly a book that she had been reading put the idea into her
head. Then there was the accident that nearly all her clothes were new
simultaneously. Her eyes fell on the advertisement which showed her the
advantages of hiring a petrol landaulet by the day in London. Thoughts
of the theatre swam into her head. She loved the theatre, and had not
been in one for years. She might lunch at the Ritz. She might deny
herself nothingfor one day. Grey routine and miserable economies
suddenly found her insurgent. Yes, she would have one great dayone
day during which she would live at the rate of two thousand a year.
So, on one splendid morning, at the station of her northern suburb,
she had occasion to be severe with the booking-clerk. (I said first
returnnot third. You should pay more attention.) She bought a
sixpenny periodical to read on the way up, and when she reached King's
Cross she deliberately left the valuable magazine in the carriage
behind her. That struck the high, reckless note. How often had she
nursed a halfpenny paper through the whole of a traffic-distracted day
that she might read the feuilleton at night!
Taxi, miss? suggested the porter when he had ascertained that she
had no luggage.
I think not, said Myra. I believe my car's waiting for me. She
felt that she had said it perfectlywithout obvious pleasure, and
without that air of intense languor that is always accepted on the
stage as indicative of aristocracy, and never seen elsewhere.
She could tell the porter how to recognise the carinformation
supplied to her by the company from whom she had hired itand the
porter brought it up for her. Her first thought was that it looked
splendid. Her second thought was that beyond a doubt she had recognised
the face of the liveried driver.
She gave the porter a shilling, and sent him away. (Her usual tips
for porters had varied from nothing to twopence, with a preference for
the former.) Then she turned to the driver, a young man, with a
handsome, clean-shaven face and dark, rebellious eyes.
I know you, she said. You are Mr Davenant.
Quite true, Miss Larose. But that need make no difference. You have
bought my services for the day, you know. You will find me just as
attentive and respectful as any other servant. Where to, miss?
No, no. I want to talk to you. I must. Oh, it's too awful that you
should have come down to this. Mrs Dewlop must have been vindictive
She was certainly angry. He smiled reminiscentlyhe had a
charming smile. She had every right to be.
Look here, she said impulsively, what is to prevent you from
lunching with me?
Your plans for the daythis carand, for the matter of that, my
I have no appointments, and no fixed plans. I was going to amuse
myself just anyhow. I shall like this far better. Oh, can't you arrange
it for me?
I should like it, too, and I can arrange it all very easily if you
don't mind waiting half an hour.
Of course I'll waitwait here, if you like.
You would find the National Gallery more interesting, and I can
take you there in a few minutes.
Yes, that's better. Thanks awfully. This is splendid.
At the National Gallery she looked at certain pictures with
appreciative intelligence. Then she sat down and half-closed her eyes,
and saw a picture from the gallery of her memory.
It was the big classroom at Salston Hill School. At one end of the
room Myra Larose took the elementary class in drawing. At the other
end, much older girls took the lesson in advanced drawing from a master
who was, as the prospectus stated, an exhibitor at the Royal Academy.
His name was Hilary Davenant, and in the bills he was charged extra.
The older girls were ten in number, and were provided with easels,
charcoal, and stumps. They formed the circumference of a circle of
which the centre was a life-size cast with a blackboard adjacent.
Myra watched as she saw Davenant going from one drawing-board to
another, and noted the waning of patience and the growth of irritation.
He went to the blackboard and addressed the entire class on the anatomy
of the hand, illustrating his remarks by rapid drawings on the
blackboard. They were admirable drawings in their wayswift, right,
certain, slick. And suddenly he flung the chalk to the floor and spake
with his tongue. He also used gesturea foreign and reprehensible
You poor, silly idiots! Not one of you will ever do it, except
perhaps Miss Stenson. And if you did, it wouldn't be the real thing.
He checked himself, and went on in a nice, suave schoolmaster's voice.
I was joking, of course. As I said, this cast presents considerable
difficulties to some of you. But you must face your difficulties and
overcome them. You must not let yourselves be discouraged. And so on.
Dora Stenson, aged sixteen, blushed and put her hand over her eyes.
The other pupils smiled in a weak, wan way. They had been told that it
was a joke, and they believed everything they were told, and did their
best. At the other end of the room Myra Larose developed a good deal of
interest in Hilary Davenant.
An incident which occurred two days later formed another picture in
the memory-gallery. Myra, with other assistants, had been summoned with
every circumstance of solemnity to the principal's private study.
I have to inform you, ladies, said Mrs Dewlop, that owing to
circumstances which have come to my knowledge, I have been compelled to
dismiss Mr H. Davenant at a moment's notice. She readjusted her
pince-nez, and her refined face squirmed. Mr Davenant is not a man: he
is a satyr. I have sufficiently indicated the nature of his offence,
which he admitted; and I do not care to dwell upon the subject further.
This has been a great shock to me. One can only hope in time to live it
down. That, she added tragically, is all.
It had happened six months before, and at the time had filled Myra
with curiosity and also with a touch of horror. Was it wise of her to
make appointments with a man who had been so described? Had not her
feeling of compassion for an old colleagueone, moreover, whom she had
found sympatheticcarried her too far? This was not at all the kind of
thing she had come out to do. Butwell, she had done it. And if the
satyr added punctuality to his other vices, he would be waiting outside
He was there. He had changed his car as well as his clothes. He did
not look poor. He looked as if he owned that car and a good deal of the
rest of the earth.
I hope you don't mind, he said. I thought this open car might be
useful. If you would be kind enough to take the seat beside me we could
talk as we go. I thought, as it was such a ripping morning, you might
like to drive into the country somewhere for lunch. But that must be
just as you like, of course.
It is exactly what I like. Let's see. We've got lots of time before
lunch. You shall choose where we go.
If you don't mind lunching a little late, we might do Brighton.
Yes, we lunch at Brighton, she said decisively. The spirit of
adventure was hot within her. She had meant the day to be rather
exciting. It was more than fulfilling expectations.
As they crawled through the traffic she asked him how he had
persuaded his firm to let her have the open car instead of the other.
She was told that it was the policy of his people to oblige a customer
in every possible way, and that they had made no trouble. Then she
spoke of things she had seen at the National Gallery, and found him
just as enthusiastic about art as she had done once in the old days at
the school, when chance gave them a few minutes' talk together. But it
was not till they sat at lunch in a good little hotel overlooking the
sea that they became confidential.
I gather, he said, that you knew that Mrs Dewlop sacked me.
She told all of us.
Did she say why?
Not exactly. She said that you were a satyr. II didn't believe
Well, I'll tell you exactly what I did. I kissed Dora Stenson.
This was a blow. I don't think I want to hear about it, said Myra
It's all very well, said Davenant mournfully, but I'd had very
little experience as a teacher. What do you do yourself when a girl
begins to cry?
If she's quite a child, I try to comfort her. If it's one of the
older girls, I tell her that I dislike hysteria, and that she had
better go away until she has recovered. But it rarely happens with the
older girls. What made Dora Stenson cry?
All my own faultthe whole thing. You know the beauties I had to
teach. Dora was the only one that had any gift. As for the rest, you
might as well have tried to teach blind pigs to draw. What was the
consequence? I gave Dora most of the teaching, and I was harder on her
than I was on the others. I judged her by a different standard, and I
drove her as hard as I could. Well, one day, at the end of the hour,
she brought me up some bad work. She'd taken no trouble. It was rotten.
All the same, if any of the others had shown me anything nearly as
good, I should have been more than satisfied. As it was Dora, I lost my
wool and told her what I thought. Classes were dismissed. You went out.
I was left alone in the room. Back came Dora to pick up some truck
she'd left behind, and she was cryingcrying like anything. Well, I
couldn't stand it. I'd never meant to be a brute, and there was that
girlvery pretty she is, toocrying like anything. I began to talk to
her, and, before I knew where I was, I had kissed her. I'm making a
clean breast of the whole thingI kissed her two or three times.
Miss Myra Larose, who had not wanted to hear about it, had listened
with breathless interest, and now put in a shrewd question.
And did Dora kiss you?
As I was saying, where I was wrong was in
All right, I know. If she had not kissed you, you would have said
so. But, seeing that she did kiss you, why on earth did she complain to
She never did. She wrote a letter to a girl friend of hers, and
left it lying about. Mrs Dewlop read it. Now, what do you think?
Myra considered a moment. I think, she said deliberately, that
Dora was a braggart, and that Mrs Dewlop was a sneak, andernot very
wise, and that you
Do you also think me a satyr?
Of course not. You were all wrong, but you were just a baby.
He gave a sigh of relief.
It makes me angry, said Myra impulsively. What right had that
woman to ruin you, and turn you into a cab-driver?
I must explain further. It is true that she refused me any kind of
a character, and that my teaching career was closed. But I am not
exactly a cab-driver. When I was turned out I had to give up the idea
of making a living by art. I could no longer teach, and modern pictures
sell seldom and badly. But I had another string to my bow. I understand
motors, and I had had plenty of driving experience. An uncle of mine is
in the motor business to some considerable extent. Amongst other
things, he is a director and principal share-holder in the company from
which you hired your car. He has often asked me to join him, and now I
did so. He is a thorough sort of man, and he insisted that I should go
through every side. I've washed cars; for three months I was an
ordinary mechanic; I've been in the office; the last few weeks I've
been driving these privately let cars, and picking up some interesting
information as to the amount of tips that the drivers get. Next week I
shall be a manager. Well, now, I saw your order when it came in. I
remembered you very wellvery well, indeed. I determined to drive you
myselfto be your good servant, if that was all that was possible, but
to be as much more as you would let me be.
As the car purred smoothly through the dusk in the direction of the
northern suburb where Myra had her inexpensive lodging, Davenant said:
Then you will give notice that you leave at the end of next term,
And she said: Yes, dearest.