the wide range of his mind. Much more easily than
usual ā she realised it in a little glow of self -flattery
ā she comprehended him all through a long and
intricate disquisition. Yet lurking somewhere in her
dream-consciousness was the feeling that there was
an all -important topic on which he did not touch.
A part of her tried to identify that topic and failed.
The failure worried her. He talked of travel, of a
trip into Germany through the Black Forest, across
Lake Constance into Austria and the Tyrol. Of
course ! That was to be their honeymoon tour. In
the days before ā before what ? ā before something ā
they had often talked about it. They were not even
officially engaged then ā she remembered how they
used to laugh together over these distant projects
that were treated as imminent facts. They had even
132 THE OTHER SIDE
had a little quarrel over the choice of two alternative
stopping places. She came back to his voice.
" Listen ! " he said. " Listen ! "
A nightingale was singing with supernatural
power. Loud, thrillingly resonant under the stars
that now powdered the sky, the song welled out to
them. Its burden, mysteriously comprehended by
them to esoteric depths, was sorrow ā the sorrow of
all the world, here completely expressed, transmuted
into so strange a beauty that the listener held his
breath. The deep sobs, shudderingly repeated, that
threw off the magic runs of crystal sound, pervaded
the atmosphere about them with a mystic spell,
evoked an immense pity in them. They could have
wept. Suddenly they were conscious of a perfidy
in this magically induced compassion ā a danger,
common to both, implied in it, imminent. He flung
his arms about her to protect her, shielding her
" You are mine, dearest ! ā mine ! ā only mine ! "
His words went ringing through the stars, passed
out of hearing, but were not silenced. She felt kisses
of intense fervour upon her mouth ā responded.
" I am ! " she cried. Her words also rolled away
endlessly, as though permuted into imperishable
brass. " I am yours alone ! "
She half- woke in the feeling of a near presence, then
sank again into a sleep that remembers not its dreams.
She awoke in the morning obsessed by the baffling
sense of an occurrence she could not recall. Then
THE OTHER SIDE 133
the memory, the realisation of her loss flooded in on
her ā harshly predominant in those first empty
moments as yet unlinked to the distractions of the
day. She wept, uncontrollable tears. " Ronald !
Ronald ! " she cried in a low voice, her face buried
in the soft pillow. Then she remembered. Her
tears were checked. The details of her dream opened
one by one, stirred in her a curious, subtle fear she
felt unworthy of her. The vividness of it woke an
atavistic emotion, the shrinking reaction of primitive
humanity from the influence of those dead to this
world. Yet a more recent growth in her tried to
glory in the contact ā impelled by an obscure senti-
ment of duty. " I do love you, Ronald ! " she mur-
mured again to the pillow. " I am yours alone ! M
The saying of the words seemed to merge her dream-
life into unison with the actual.
There was much to do in the long, freshly-aerated
ward that morning. As one by one each bed had its
sheets turned back, exposing the gashed, perforated
or fractured bodies of men who winced with pain,
the crude other side of war was laid bare. Into
strong relief, too, was thrown the complementary
phase of the other side of the vast catastrophe where
the noblest are proudly conscious of the wounds they
inflict. With tender care, the utmost solicitude not
to cause one unnecessary pang of suffering, the khaki -
clad doctors, the grey-uniformed, white-coifed and
aproned nurses, laboured to save and heal.
Sister Braithwaite thrust herself utterly into her
daily task of dressing wounds, of soothing pain, of
bringing a cheerful smile on to the face of the sufferer.
134 THE OTHER SIDE
So doing, she eluded for quite long periods the obses-
sion which haunted her.
Number Ten was once more the focus of interest
in the ward. His condition had grown worse during
the night. To-day he was in a dangerous fever. The
doctor was grave. Sister Braithwaite watched over
him with unremitting care, found herself passionately
fighting off death. In the early afternoon the crisis
passed. He woke from a quiet sleep, looked up to
the Sister standing by his bed.
" You have saved me, Sister," he said in a weak
voice. " I could feel it "
" Hush, Captain Lavering. Go to sleep. We are
all trying to get you well."
" It was you," he said faintly, as his eyes closed
The silence of the ward was suddenly broken by a
merry peal of bells floating in through the open
windows. In the little village church tucked away in
a near-by hollow of the moor a wedding was being
solemnised. Sudden tears, a strange emotion, surged
up in Sister Braithwaite.
A case that had made good progress was removed
from the ward, a newly-arrived, severely-wounded
man brought in.
" If only it were Ronald ! " The neat, prim
figure of the Sister, supervising the orderlies busy
lifting the casualty into the bed, gave no indication
of the desperate agonised prayer.
" Mine at last, my beloved ā really mine ! "
THE OTHER SIDE 135
The familiar voice thrilled through her, very close,
" Yours ! Always yours ! " she heard herself
She took her head from the darkness that obscured
her vision ā it was his coat against which she had been
nestling ; she saw the little white touzled-up hairs
of the rough tweed ere her gaze stretched to longer
focus. She looked to his face, met his vivid eyes ā
looked round at her surroundings.
They were alone in the first-class compartment of
a railway train that rocked and roared. His lips were
pressed on hers. " The great day, dearest ! " he said.
Her mind leaped to the allusion. Their wedding-
day ! They had been married that morning ā she
could hear still the joyous peal of bells ā were going
away on their honeymoon. The tweed suit he wore
was quite new ā something like the old. She was in
a travelling-dress that he had already admired. Of
course ! It all came back to her as if she had just
awakened from a little sleep.
The train rushed on. She lived through all the
cinematograph-like pictures of the journey. A halt
and descent ā little anxieties about the luggage ā
then ā after an interlude which was vague ā another
train, another long journey ā all was a continuous
long experience. She thrilled at a surreptitious
squeeze of his hand ā ah, yes, there were other people
in the carriage now ā rounded her lips at him in a
provoking similitude of a kiss, daringly profiting by
the inattention of their fellow-travellers. A yearning
for him ā induced by the naughty little act ā filled
136 THE OTHER SIDE
her breast, persisted. There was bustle, confusion.
They were in a throng of travellers who hurried.
Hurry ! They must not lose the boat. It lay there
before them, only its upper works seen, its two great
funnels leaning backward, belching black smoke.
The black smoke spread over the sky. It was night.
They were on board the boat, cradled in an easy
motion, sensible of the throb of the engines. On
and on they journeyed, linked in a very close com-
munion of eyes that spoke, of hands that squeezed
each other. She tasted a thousand little kindnesses.
How good he was ! How loving !
And still the journey went on. Yet more trains.
She must have slept. She woke to a great city, filled
with innumerable inhabitants, all very busy. They
spoke a strange language very rapidly to one another.
She could not understand a word. But he, Ronald,
understood ā conversed with them in their foreign
tongue. How clever he was ! There was music
somewhere ā from a lighted cafe that flooded a damp
street with radiance.
She was bewildered in a variety of new and strange
impressions, leaned on him, soul and body. He led
her, sure of himself. Her love for him seemed to
increase at this revelation of his unfailing self-reliance.
Yet she knew that she loved him with all her being,
had always loved him so.
" And how do you like Brussels, dearest ? " his
ringing voice asked. Brussels ? Of course ! As
though a veil had fallen from her eyes she saw that
they were in the middle of the Grand' Place, lights
playing, Rembrandtesque, on the carved stonework
THE OTHER SIDE 137
of the ancient buildings. She recognised it at once
ā how accurate the picture postcards had been !
Brussels ā the honeymoon journey ! She thrilled
with happiness, leaning on his strong arm.
The dream continued .
All through the next day its vividness haunted
her. At times she had to will herself to live in the
actual world. She scarcely spoke. The Medical
Officer in charge of her ward stopped her, asked her
if she were all right, his eyes searching her face. He
sympathised with her in her loss so kindly and gently
that she loved him for it.
Number Ten was still the great preoccupation.
He claimed incessant care. But he was in the faint
beginnings of good progress. Strangely, it seemed
that when she tended him there was a conflict in
some obscure part of her. There seemed to be an
inarticulate voice, immensely remote, vaguely mina-
tory, not explicit. Captain Lavering insisted that
she was his rescuer, his eyes more eloquent than his
words. It made her feel awkward, curiously shame-
faced. His reiteration threw her out of that smile-
armoured impersonal professional relation to the
patient which alone makes continuous hospital work
possible. She masked her face with a gentle severity.
When he slept she was unreasonably glad. But she
liked tending him. The contact with actual life,
pain-stricken though it was, obliterated to some
extent the haunting memory of that dream world from
which she shrank, vaguely frightened.
138 THE OTHER SIDE
She forced herself to live only in the long, quiet,
bright ward ; in the chattering society of the Sisters'
messroom when off duty.
Her dream linked itself onto its predecessor. The
honeymoon was finished. She looked back down a
long vista of travel, of happy days. She had really
lived through all those experiences. She picked them
one by one from her memory like rare pieces from a
jewel-case, contemplated them with a smile. Each
expanded into a picture. The day they had walked
together down the rugged path of the tiny valley
imprisoned in the wooded hills, a fierce little stream
outpacing them as it dashed against great boulders,
and had come upon a sunny meadow where children
garlanded with flowers laughed and danced in a ring ;
a wonderful blue lake on whose shores were yellow
houses with red roofs and ancient cypresses on a
greensward near the water's edge ā the melancholy
reiterated note of a church bell beat like a pulse
through the scene ; an old, old town with gabled
houses leaning in close confidence, rich carvings ā
the grotesque ; in all was a pervading peace, rich
quiet life that thrives sleepy with well-being from
year to year ; over all was the ecstasy of mutual love
through which they had beheld the world.
Another memory came to her ā early morning in
the Alps, a sea of wild narcissi all about them and,
beyond, the great white peaks glittering in the sun
of a blue sky. They went on and on, up and up. The
flowers were left behind ā and she remembered she
THE OTHER SIDE 139
had regretted leaving them, had grudged the effort
to climb for the sake of climbing ā but he had insisted.
They stood at last high up, dazzlingly white snowfields
stretching away on every side, a summer sun beating
hot upon them. The air was rarefied, induced in
them a subtle ecstasy as they stood marvelling at
the brilliant austere beauty of the great peaks lifting
themselves into the sky, their robes slipping from
their rocky shoulders in a miracle of purity. He
encircled her waist with his arm, spoke in the voice
that stirred mysterious depths in her.
" Dearest," he said. " Not a flower but snow is
the true emblem of love. White as the essential soul,
how soon on the lower levels it is denied, disappears !
But on the heights it endures stainless for ever, no
matter how hot the kiss of the sun."
And she had kissed him, speechlessly.
But all this was past. She was at home now, wait-
ing for him to come back from his work. Their home,
the home they had always planned, was all around
her. The very pieces of furniture they had regarded
in shop windows with longing eyes, had calculated
the cost of, were there. That quaint old table in the
centre of the room, half covered with the embroidered
openwork white linen laid for tea ā how covetously
they had once looked on it ! How depressed they
had been at the dealer's price ! But it was there,
after all. Ronald had bought it, he who never rested
until he attained his heart's desire. How purposeful
he was ! How strong ! How loving-kind ! She
closed her eyes, leaned back in a swimming ecstasy of
140 THE OTHER SIDE
There he was ! She heard his footstep at the other
side of the door. He entered, was radiant, enfolded
her in that wonderful embrace where she was a sur-
rendered thing. He had a little parcel, handed it to
her. Tremblingly she opened it, certain of delight.
It was a framed enlargement of a photograph they
had taken that morning in the high Alps. With a
little happy cry she gazed once more on the long
smooth slopes of snow, stretching up to the dark-
patched peaks. Once more his arm encircled her, his
deep voice spoke.
" So shall we live, darling, always ā ever upon the
She lay awake in her bed, ere it was day, and under-
stood in a great tremulous awe. In her dreams she
and Ronald were living precisely the life they would
have lived had there been no war. The honeymoon
ā their home ā all would have been accomplished
ere this. Had there been no war ! Exactly as she
had dreamed they would have travelled together ā
his arm would have enfolded her ā in long, long hap-
piness they would have lived. She burst into a
passion of tears, stifled in the pillow. Then she
turned her head, wondering, feeling as if her heart
had stopped. Would this dream continue ? Was it
ā in some mysterious way ā real ? Her lips moved
in a prayer, but she scarcely knew what she
She was glad to escape into the busy actual life of
the ward, into the light of day.
THE OTHER SIDE 141
From now onwards her life definitely assumed this
In the hospital she was the Sister Braithwaite that
all had known, diligent, bravely smiling, conscientious
in her duty. Those about her remarked only that
there was sometimes a curious stillness in her mien,
spoke pityingly among themselves of the sad loss of
her soldier lover. But death in a hospital is no rare
catastrophe and none lingered on the topic. There
was much to do, a continual stream of new arrivals
from the distant conflict, the doubtful fate of many
of those already long suffering. There were deaths,
recoveries, operations of professional interest.
Number Ten went slowly but steadily towards
health. Sister Braithwaite deliberately avoided all
contact with him save the professional. When she
chatted with a patient in the ward it was not with
him. His gaze was reproachful, and she would not
see it. Sometimes when she approached him he
would, half-jokingly, reiterate that she had saved
him. She would not hear. A strange sense of in-
security disturbed her in his presence. She half
divined that he nursed a project . She fled the
glance of the steady, resolute eyes in the strong face.
When at last he had made such progress that he could
be removed to a convalescent ward she was glad at
At night she passed into another world. There
was no war in that life ā never had been war. From
dream to dream she lived through a continuous
existence ā the wife of Ronald. It was all vividly
real. It was the life they would have led ā it played
142 THE OTHER SIDE
itself out now in what to her daytime consciousness
was a realm of shadows. Not always did she dream,
or rather not always did her consciousness register
the events through which she passed. But later
dreams had dream-memories in them and the record
had no gaps. Time passed in that dream-world
without relation to the terrestrial days. In one night
she frequently lived through long periods. He was
always kind to her, always loving. She, too, loved
him passionately, with all her soul.
But in the daytime her being shrank from that
shadow-life. She was afraid ā mysteriously, primi-
tively afraid. She could not mourn as she would
have liked to mourn. Sometimes she asked herself
whether she was not ceasing to love her dead affianced.
She tried to evoke his image ā and often, to her dis-
tress, succeeded not. The strongly masculine features
of Number Ten, Captain Lavering, rose before her
mental vision, would not be banished. Then she
despised herself bitterly. In remorse she willed
herself forward to the night, bade herself not shrink,
and when the hour came gave herself to the darkness
tremulously, like a slave of the harem who goes into
the chamber of her lord. The portal passed she was
happy, completely happy ā as happy as she would
have been the wife of Ronald in the dainty little
home that never could be other than the home of
her dreams. With strange, almost terrifying, com-
pleteness the shadow-life evolved. The house she
lived in she knew in all its details, had its rooms that
she preferred, views from its windows that she loved
or veiled. The presence of her husband was a reality
THE OTHER SIDE 143
that filled it. She knew his footsteps, heard his voice.
(It rang often in her ears when her eyes unclosed in
the little matchboarded cubicle suddenly unfamiliar.)
They had long, long conversations together ā wonder-
ful little interludes where their always underlying
love blossomed into delicate flower. She saw his face
clearly, saw that it was changing slightly, growing
more set, less boyish. There were difficulties ā the
difficulties of real life ā to be encountered. An
anguished struggle with bills and finances that would
not meet wrung her soul all one night. She pledged
herself to such brave economies ! But the difficulties
were overcome, the memory of them lost in the em-
brace of her lover. Rarely, rarely was she unhappy
until she woke.
And day by day, not keeping pace with her other
life, her life of work in the hospital went on. Week
linked into week, month into month. The great open
moors around her changed their hue, were often
shrouded in mist. In December the first frosts
glassed the pools. Many were the patients who had
come and gone. The little cemetery under the hill
was fuller. Other sufferers were more fortunate.
Captain Lavering was fully convalescent, nearing his
discharge. She saw him often at a distance, avoided
him when he tried to approach her. She could not
have explained why, even to herself. Somewhere
deep down in her, the virility of his aspect set a chord
vibrating. She was always extremely, almost pain-
fully, conscious of his propinquity. For many weeks
they had not exchanged a word.
There came a night wonderful above all others.
144 THE OTHER SIDE
She thrilled with a strange new ecstasy, drawn from
deep springs. It was the quiet, speechless ecstasy of
some mysterious fulfilment. She was filled with a
great tenderness that welled up and overflowed like
a source. There was something warm against her
heart. She looked down and saw that it was a new-
born babe. She was in bed. Then, in a great surge
of deeply flowing joy, she understood. She was a
mother ā the mother of Ronald's child ! She could
have cried for joy that lacked expression. Her
fingers stroked thin silky hair on a tiny head.
Suddenly she was aware that Ronald was looking
down on her. She yearned up to him, but as she did
so she was conscious that her allegiance was divided.
Not all of her, as heretofore, reached out to him un-
dividedly his. There was a dumb insistent claim at
her breast. She smiled to disguise it.
But it seemed that he understood. His face was
troubled, the vivid eyes reproachful. He leaned
" Dearest," he said. " I cannot share you. The
child must never be more than the symbol of our
love. You must be mine ā always mine. Promise
me that you will always be mine alone ! "
His jealousy flattered her. A gush of affection for
the strong lover admitting her power, mingled
with the mother-craving for protection for self
and child, was a fresh impulse revivifying the old
" Always yours, dearest ā always yours ! "
He looked at her searchingly, his head seeming like
a carven figure of destiny, strangely significant.
THE OTHER SIDE 145
" I could annihilate the thing that comes between
us," he said, and she was a little frightened at his
voice. It rolled away big, superhuman ā she harked
back, in a flitting thought, to an earlier dream-
He turned to a picture on the wall, pointed to it.
It was the Alpine scene.
" You and I," he said. " Always together ā alone
upon the heights."
" Yes ! Yes ! " she said, only half understanding.
" Always ā always yours ! "
She woke with a start, her own voice ringing in her
ears. Night was still a blackness in the little cubicle.
She put out her hand, touched the matchboard wall
to assure herself of her surroundings.
When she woke again it was to look through the
window and see the world white with snow. She
remembered with some pleasure that she was off
duty, had the day to herself. She wanted to be alone.
Her head was a whirl of troubled thoughts. The
emotions of her dream were still in her blood. Her
arms felt vacant as though an infant had just been
taken from them. A new longing came up in her ā
a craving for motherhood. She linked it to her dead
lover. " Oh, Ronald ! " she murmured. " If only
we had been married before you went to the war "
she left the thought unfinished. The craving per-
sisted, apart from his memory. She ached for a real,
living affection in this world of men and women.
Strange thoughts haunted her while she dressed.
As soon as possible she escaped from the hospital,
went out upon the moor that stretched in suave
146 THE OTHER SIDE
contours of dazzling white. A pale blue sky sank
into its mists. A cold wind hurried over it, whirling
up little columns of dusty, frozen snow. She walked
far into its solitudes, she hardly knew whether to
escape from her thoughts or to be alone with
At last she turned back. She had climbed out of
a little hollow, was descending a featureless slope
when suddenly she perceived the figure of a man,
dark against the snow. He walked towards her
quickly. Simultaneous with her recognition of him
was the flush of blood to her face, a peculiar nervous
thrill. It was Captain Lavering. She half hesitated.
Then she strode forward, an insidiously victorious
temptation masquerading as strong will. Why
should she not pass him ? It was absurd. He might
think She hoped that she was not blushing,
or that the keen wind which fluttered her veil would
be the self-evident excuse.
They met. He stopped, made a gesture of
" Good morning, Captain Lavering." She was
glad to hear her own voice, had been afraid that she
could not bring it to utterance. What was there so
troubling about this man ? She avoided his eyes.
" I'm pleased to see you walking about again." The
crisis was successfully surmounted. She made as if
to continue her way.
" I saw you in the distance, Sister," he said
She did not find the commonplace remark for
which she sought. He blocked her pathway.
THE OTHER SIDE 147
" I have been waiting to speak to you for a long
time, Sister," he continued, as though he knew there
was no necessity for a trite beginning. ' ' Ever since you
saved my life. You did ā we won't discuss that."
She stared at him, speechless. " But I have waited
until I was sure that I was quite well again. You
know what I am going to say. For a long time you
have felt what was in my mind. You must be my
He was strong and real ā vividly actual. She felt
as she did sometimes when her eyes opened from
a dream into the solid surroundings of her cubicle.
He barred off the other world.
"No ā no," she breathed, dodged past him, hurried
over the snow.
He was by her side, keeping pace easily with
" You can't escape me like that," he said. There