"Hubert? What had he to recover from?" "The
malicious tongues of Thrigsby and living with a woman
who had lived with Andrew." "Abominable ! He's cor-
rupted you, James. You can't touch pitch without being
defiled." "You can't touch a human being without be-
coming more human." "I will not argue with you."
"No. You had better not."
Another silence. Tom finally exploded: "You seem
to think you have only yourself to consider. Have my
mother's wishes, have her feelings no weight with you?
Are you as cold as the snow out there? I have to fetch
you from the society of your pimps and harlots "
Jamie slid his Shelley into his pocket and pursed his
lips and scanned Tom's face, behind which was a storm
of indignant fury. "Have a care, Tom," he said. "I
value my friends and I do not choose them for the
advantage they may bring me. If I were as drunken
as poor Burns and you took it upon yourself to upbraid
me I would strike the words from your lips. We're
brothers, can we not make room for each other ? I made
room for you in Andrew's business, at home, and in the
town I have never stood in your way." He would have
said more but shyness overcame him. He was not used
to exposing his thoughts and feelings to his brother.
2 3 o THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
"What I mean to say is," said Tom, equally shy, "that
mud thrown at you clings to us." Jamie replied with
a chuckle: "But you'd never let me share your halo.
And I'll be as loyal to my Hubert as you are to your
Andrew." "If you can," said Tom, "remember that
Andrew is dying."
They had reached Thrigsby. Here the snow was al-
ready dirty slush, bitterly cold to the feet. It had been
very cold in the train ; a most dismal ending to a festive
Christmas; and here was old Thrigsby at its foulest.
The streets were empty except for an occasional drunken
man. Jamie appreciated the contrast and, glaring at his
brother, wondered if he never found anything amusing.
Tom had cultivated an erect carriage, stiff as Peter Leslie
engrossed in churchwardenship. His body hardly moved
as his legs swung in their long stride, as regular as a
pendulum. Tick-tock! Tick-tock! The Cartesian man
in Thrigsby! Jamie felt that his own walk was a mere
shamble and to assert himself he felt that he must run,
rather as Mrs. Leslie used to break into a trot when she
was out walking with her husband. "It's the same old
Tommy," thought Jamie, "and there'll be no stopping
him. Those thin legs of his would walk through any-
thing that got in his way. He must have shin-bones like
razors." "I say, Tom," said he, "when you're mayor
I hope you'll have the streets cleaned." "I shall see to
it that the whole city is clean mentally, morally and
physically." "God save us," thought Jamie, "the man's
When they reached home they found Tibby awaiting
them. Margaret had gone off with John. "How is
she?" asked Jamie. "In a terrible way. She must go,
and would not stay, though I told her he was dead."-
"Dead?" cried Tom. "As the sun went down," said
ANDREW'S WILL 231
Tibby. "Did they send?" asked Tom. "No. They
didna send." "She knew it," said Jamie, his eyes meet-
ing Tibby's, and he felt also that she knew where he had
been. What did she think of him? He knew that too.
She was with him, on his side.
Tom went upstairs to get his Bible. Jamie told Tibby
about the party. "I often look through the lighted win-
dows," said Tibby. "They are like a play to me."
"Did she want us to go after her?" asked he. Tibby
gave her strange grim smile: "Aye," she said, "she'll
want you to have a sight of his corpse." "I've never seen
one," said Jamie in a whisper. "I saw my father,"
answered Tibby, "and he was noble." "If I'd loved the
man, I would like it better," said Jamie.
No such scruple tormented Tom. He had his Bible
and umbrella and marched away, Jamie following in his
wake, rather like a dog that is not certain of being
wanted. As he caught him up Tom said : "But for you
I should not have been too late." Tick-tock went his
legs and Jamie shambled along by his side, reduced to
silence. They made the journey by the three omnibuses
and came to Clibran Hall. There the butler admitted
them and gave them cake and Madeira wine in the din-
ing-room exactly as he used to do when they called;
only he broke his habitual silence by saying: "He was
a good master." "Yes, yes," said Tom, sitting with his
Bible open on his knee, a glass of wine in his hand and
his mouth full of cake.
Margaret came in. Jamie went to her and kissed her
cheek. "He found you then?" she said. "Christmas
day. I thought you would have been at home." Jamie
thought of the actors' Christmas, and how different and
unfestal the feast had been in his own boyhood. "I
had promised my friends," he said. With his mouth full
232 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
Tom said : "I found him with Hubert." Margaret drew
away, and cast her eyes up to the ceiling. Old Andrew
lay in the room above. Jamie could find nothing to
say. "Did Tibby tell you? She knew. I did not be-
lieve her but she knew. He was my eldest brother.
Will you go up, one at a time ?" Jamie stole away.
Outside a door he came on an old dog, a fat, stupid,
cantankerous beast that Andrew had alternately overfed
and kicked. It gazed up at Jamie forlornly and tried
to follow him as he went in. He saw John, to his as-
tonishment, kneeling by the bedside. John rose. He was
genuinely moved. He muttered : "Something about the
old fellow. Intolerable loneliness, you know. May God
be good to his spirit." John stole out of the room, and
Jamie went over to the bed. He was shocked by the
dignity and power that had come into the old man's
face. It seemed incredible to him and false; a trick,
one last trick. He remembered Shelley's words. "No
love of his kind." Aloud, yet in a whisper, Jamie said :
"I hated you, my friend, and now there is neither love
nor hate, but only a bitter memory." John had been
taken in: dear, honest John, taken in by the trick of
death, the dignity of the body reasserted when its abuse
was at an end. Jamie was tortured with thoughts which
he could not articulate. He still believed in a next world,
and thought of Andrew already there beginning to scheme
and plot and plan for the exploitation of his fellow-
beings on that plane. Andrew's personality was so
vigorously and dominantly expressed in that room,
though death had transformed and disguised his body.
More and more torturing were his thoughts, until at last
tears came and Jamie stumbled away, out of the room,
and stood fondling the dog. "Poor dog!" he said.
ANDREW'S WILL 233
"Good dog! Fond of him, were you? I wish I could
Tom came up, went in and was out again in a moment.
"The greatness of the man is there," he said, "what he
really was, not what his unhappy life had made him."
Jamie choked with emotion and disgust. Was Tom
fool or hypocrite? Why had he not John's honesty and
They went down together to the cake and wine, when
it was agreed that John should see to the funeral ar-
rangements while Tom saw the lawyers and sent out the
invitations. Jamie, it appeared, was to be punished by
having nothing to do. Margaret would stay with John,
who lived quite near, until the funeral: Tom announced
his intention of remaining in the house; Jamie was to
go home and inform Tibby of their plans. He asked,
Was Tibby to come to the funeral? No, she was not.
What was she to Andrew or Andrew to her? Already
it was plain to see that Tom was feeling the burden of
his responsibilities. "It will be," he said, "on Monday."
-"It's over long for a corpse to lie," muttered Jamie.
"Tssh! Tssh!" clicked Tom. "His will be no ordinary
funeral and your journalist friends will be busy even
now with the obituaries." The sneer touched Jamie,
who said that his journalist friends were but little fleas
upon big fleas.
He was glad to escape from Clibran Hall and from
Tom so joyfully placing himself at the service of the
dead; to walk through the Thrigsby that Andrew had
helped to make; to feel that the live ass, himself, was
better than the dead lion, and that the ass's life was
more secure and easier for the lion's demise. He up-
braided himself for the selfishness of these thoughts and
tried to remember only the good in his successful and
234 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
distinguished kinsman. Having the privilege of Hubert's
view, he found that difficult and decided that it was
better left to the journalists. He found himself sud-
denly thinking quite simply of Andrew as a man, born
in the usual way, living in the usual structure of flesh,
bone and blood; endowed and troubled with the usual
organs, and subject to the usual emotions. And life
seemed large and easy and very nearly comprehensible.
In justice he could not but think of himself in the same
way: this was more difficult, but he wrestled with it.
It was very unpleasant because it took the charm and
colour away from Selina, and left him with a universe
in which only Hubert and Mrs. Bulloch were solid
figures. On the other hand there was that other universe
wherein his mother and Andrew were paramount. This
was becoming too complicated and he struggled back to
the theology of his youth in which only the Lord held
sway and human beings were as miserable vermin. He
floundered from one to the other and it was with a feel-
ing of touching solid ground once more that, when he
reached the house in Harporley Road, the front door
was opened to him and he saw Tibby's gaunt face ap-
parently hanging in the darkness of the passage. She
at any rate was real. She carried a whole mysterious
world with her. You had but to look into her strange
eyes to feel that she had a boundless knowledge. Aye,
she was as positive a thing as dead Andrew lying there.
Jamie hung up his hat on the peg assigned to his use.
Tibby softly shut the door and followed him into the
dining-room. "It's true," said Jamie. "He's dead.
My mother is to stay with John, and Tom is to take
charge at the house." "She'll be feeling it, will Mar-
garet," said Tibby. "Feeling what?" asked Jamie.
"Her own brother. He was much older than she, but
ANDREW'S WILL 235
she'll be feeling it, with John married and all." "My
feeling is," said Jamie, "that we couldn't be more foreign
to this place if it were Constantinople." "You'll want
your supper," muttered Tibby and she went out to come
back in a moment with ham, bread and coffee. He ate
and drank to please her but he was not hungry. He
asked her not to leave him, and she stood by the table
while he picked at his food and fidgeted in his chair.
"Tibby," he asked at length, "what do you think I am?"
"A true Lawrie," said she. "And the son of your
father." "And what will I be?" he asked as though
he were appealing to an oracle. "A grand man," said
she. "Then why," he asked expressively, "why am I
treated as though I were already half in disgrace?"
"You didn't stand by Andrew," said she, "and and
there's nothing that you do but we hear of it here. It's
been a grief to us that you, the best and cleverest of
the three, should be the least respected." "To you, Tib-
by?" "I'm no the one to be grieved." "Do you respect
me less?" "No." "He was respected; Andrew was
respected : you can buy respect." Jamie was in a great
rage: he felt the house full of tongues against him.
"Why do you listen?" he cried. "First it's one, then
it's another," replied Tibby. "The deafest ears could not
help but hear. The folk here think they are a model
to all the world and any wickedness there may be in the
town is not of their doing. They are all for work and
church-going and will countenance no other." "I do
my work and I go to church," said Jamie, "but I'm
damned if I'll make a song about it." "There's the
trouble," said Tibby, "and you may be sure they'll make
a song about the rest."
They talked far into the night and Jamie at last lighted
Tibby up to her room. "There are times," he said,
236 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
"when I feel as if I had no other friend in the world but
you. You alone seem not to laugh at me." "I wouldn't
be so sure of that," said she and she smiled. Jamie
laughed and caught her in his arms and kissed her. "I
shall laugh at you, if you do that," said she, and he felt
angry with himself. She was so bony, so ugly, that a
kiss with her was out of place.
There were two steps outside her door. She stood
above him with her candle in her hand, casting the
shadow of her great nose over the right side of her
face. "You're a strange man, Jamie," she said, "and
you will make a deal of trouble." "Let them talk," he
answered, "I've you for my friend and it does not matter
what kind of fool I make of myself. The man of inde-
pendent mind has the laugh of them all in the end. An-
drew's dead and I'll see him buried and I'll know the
truth of him against all the fools may say. He was a
hypocrite and a sentimentalist and a vile husband, and
the kind of fool who thinks that when he sees a fault
in a better man than himself he has him measured."-
Tibby astonished him by saying: "Don't be that kind
of fool yourself, Jamie, and don't do what you did
just now again." With that she slipped inside her door
and locked it. Jamie felt that he had a great deal more
to say. He tapped on the door but could get no answer.
A white figure appeared on the attic stairs above him,
calling in a frightened voice: "'Go's there?" It was
the little maid who assisted Tibby in the kitchen. "Go
to bed!" said Jamie. "Ooh! Mr. Lawrie, 'ow you did
frighten me." The white figure sped upstairs and Jamie
went to his room. The house was full of an ominous
dreariness for him: full of Andrew and the cold empti-
ness which his death had created in the lives of those
ANDREW'S WILL 237
who dwelt in it. His death? Had not his life created
it to be shaped and defined by death?
In the morning there came a note from Selina to chide
him for going away from Hubert's without saying good-
bye to her. At once Jamie sat down and wrote to her as
he had never done before, giving rein to his feelings.
He poured out praises of her charms, her beauty, par-
ticularly the dimple in her shoulder-blade, her art, her
subtle skill in the difficult and admirable business of
living, and he declared that she was his only joy and
comfort. Having said that much, his letter became a
love letter and he was hardly responsible for its further
composition. He posted it and received next morning
another note in which Selina informed him coldly that
Henry Acomb had invited her to go with him to London
and that she had promised to go. Jamie rushed out of
the house as Tibby was bringing in his breakfast and
arrived at Selina's lodgings before she was up. Mrs.
Bulloch appeared in a pink flannel dressing-gown with
her hair in curl-papers torn out of the last number of
The Critic. Jamie could see his nom de plume Quintus
Flumen waving over her right eyebrow. "Tell Selina
I must see her," he cried. "I could have told you what
would happen," said Mrs. Bulloch, standing at the bottom
of the stairs and blinking at Jamie as he fidgeted in the
doorway of the sitting-room, "leaving her like that."
"But I wrote to explain. My brother ""Not all
the brothers in Christendom are any excuse when it's a
question of a girl's fancy." "I want to see Selina."
"She's asleep, poor lamb, and has been crying these three
days. We were at our wits' end what to do until Henry
thought of London." Jamie was too much excited to
take that hint as to what had happened. Just as he
had decided in his own mind that his passion for Selina
238 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
was the one bright spot in an otherwise darkened exist-
ence she was spirited away from him. "I must and will
see her," he declared, "if I have to wait until nightfall."
"I'll get dressed," cried Mrs. Bulloch. As she spoke
there was a loud rat-tat on the door, which she opened
to admit Henry Acomb, pale of face and wilder of eye
than ever. "How is she?" he asked, and drew up sharp
on seeing Jamie. "You have the effrontery?" he
snapped, "you have broken my poor girl's heart and you
have the effrontery!" He folded his arms and glared.
Mrs. Bulloch shuffled upstairs taking great care not to
expose her legs. "Come inside," said Jamie, "and tell
me what has happened." "I will not come inside," said
Acomb. "I will not bandy words with you. You have
trampled on a young and innocent, not to say ardent,
affection and I have charged myself with the burden of
your sin, though how the devil we are to get to London
I don't know." "Nonsense," said Jamie, "there is some
absurd mistake. I have come to explain." Acomb was
wildly excited by the part he was playing. He had been
up all night. He had spent the day before with the
weeping Selina in his arms. He had convinced himself
and her that they had lighted one of the great passions
of the world and though, to Selina, Jamie had become
only a stepping-stone, to Acomb he was now an impedi-
ment and an offence. "I have done nothing," said Jamie,
"for which I am not prepared to make ample reparation."
Acomb spat in his face and roared : "Beast ! Beast !
Take your filthy lusts hence. The theatre, degraded
though it is, shall not be the seraglio of you and such
as you." "Good God!" thought Jamie, utterly bewil-
dered, "what have they been doing? Is the whole world
tumbling down upon my head?" He had no thought
ANDREW'S WILL 239
of retaliation, as he wiped his face. Acomb was mad :
there could be no contest.
From upstairs came Selina's clear voice calling: "Is
that you, Henry?" Acomb bounded up three stairs at
Mrs. Bulloch returned half dressed. She requested
Jamie to fasten her up behind and he did so. "Now,"
he said, "will you tell me what I have done?" "Lor'
bless your simple heart," said Mrs. Bulloch. "It ain't
what you've done. It had to be and when you went away
it only needed Henry to promise London, and the trick
was done." "But they can't go to London without a
penny in the world." "Ho! Can't they? I'm going
too, contracted though I am for ten more weeks. This
is no place for the likes of them with their ambitions."
Jamie could not help seeing that the old woman was
coupling Selina and Acomb as easily as she had coupled
Selina and himself. His dignity was rather outraged,
though he had begun faintly to see the affair from her
point of view and to understand that as the intruder into
this strange world he was naturally ejected. But there
remained his letter to Selina, the passion of which had
flooded all his relations with her. That was not so lightly
to be surrendered. She was, he believed she was, his
only comfort. It had not struck him that Selina might
desire to be more than that. He was filled with a sort
of nausea and suffered terribly. "I can explain," he
said. "My brother came. Terrible news. My uncle was
dying. I can explain, everything. It is absurd for her
to go to London before her talent is formed." "Henry
Acomb," replied Mrs. Bulloch, "says she has genius."
"But / said she had something like genius, years ago,"
cried Jamie. "Do go and ask her to see me. There's a
dear good old Ma ! Tell her I'm in an agony of distress."
240 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
"My poor young man," answered Mrs. Bulloch, "can't
you see that it isn't the least little bit of good? It's 'Go/
with Selina. If you'd said 'Go' to her she'd have gone,
even if it were to the Brazils. But you've left it to a
better man than yourself to say 'Go,' and she's going."
Jamie gulped, and he began to perceive stome meaning
in his misfortunes. He was humiliated. "Critics," said
Mrs. Bulloch, "are all the same. They think because
they write about us they know all there is to know.
You never made a greater mistake in your life." Jamie
took up his hat. He said humbly: "Will you tell her
that if she wishes to see me I will come at any time?"
"You couldn't say fairer than that," replied Mrs. Bul-
loch, "and I always did think well of you." "Tell her,"
said he, "I wish her every happiness. Is he is he
going to marry her?" "Marry, no. There's a Mrs.
Acomb in Wigan eating up half his earnings though she
keeps a shop and makes a good thing of it." That
finished it for Jamie. The affair became entirely fan-
tastic. He was left rueful but not altogether sorry for
his emotional failure. He began to see how easily with
more bluster and theatricality he could have carried the
day. Acomb was so excited that he could easily have
been outmatched, but a Selina who could be won on such
terms was not worth the winning. "I have made a fool
of myself," said Jamie, "but I do not repent of one
moment of it." He shook Mrs. Bulloch warmly by the
hand, wished her all the luck in the world and plenty of
fat parts and then walked over to see his brother John.
He found his mother and his brothers arguing as to
whether the Allison-Greigs, who had remained friendly
with Hubert, should be invited to the funeral. As Tom
had already invited them the matter seemed to be beyond
argument, and Sophia was saying so. Being pregnant
ANDREW'S WILL 241
she had come to regard herself as precious, as John's
behaviour had led her to think she was. It was her
opportunity to assert herself and she had seized it. John's
exaggerated attentiveness showed that he disliked the
change in his household, but once Sophia had taken to
the enormous horsehair sofa (Tom's wedding present)
there was no getting her off it. She engaged another
servant to look after her and John gave up tobacco.
She presided. For the first time she had the pleasure of
receiving her mother-in-law instead of yielding to her
and giving up the house to her. She revelled in it and
it gave her an acute pleasure to cut into their argument
with the question: "Have you asked them, Tom?"
The Lawries had to abandon their argument and that was
the situation when Jamie came in upon them from his
Sophia then directed conversation towards Andrew's
will. How much had he left? John thought a hundred
thousand, but Jamie, who was in a position to know more
about it, doubled that figure. "He won't have forgotten
you, mother," said Tom. "He was very pleased with
your spirit in paying off all your pension money." Mar-
garet, who had gone back to her deepest widow's weeds,
sighed with satisfaction. "I'm sure," she said, "there
are others who need it more than I do, who have not
such good sons." "If I were he," said Jamie, "I
should leave it all to Donald Greig who is the richest of
his kinsmen. It could make no difference to him and
would save a deal of recrimination." "I suppose you
think," growled Tom heavily, "you are left out of it."
"I'm sure I am," said John cheerfully, "though he may
have remembered Sophia. Not that I care very much
for I shall soon have shaken the dust of Thrigsby from
my feet." "Dust of Thrigsby?" cried Jamie. "What
242 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
do you mean?" "As you are all here," replied John,
"I may as well tell you. Murdochs have asked me to
go out to Australia to open up a branch there." "Aus-
tralia!" said Margaret. "Why, they are all gaol-birds
out there!" "Only in Botany Bay. I'm to go to Vic-
toria," answered John. "As soon as Sophia is ready we
shall take ship and make the voyage." Jamie's eyes
shone with envy. "Round the Good Hope?" he asked.
"Round the Good Hope," said John and he produced
an atlas and laid it on Sophia's sofa where they all
pored over it and learned the exact whereabouts of Aus-
tralia. "I suppose," said Margaret, "my wishes are not
to be consulted." John was rather annoyed with her.
"If you wish to have me dead," he said, "then tell me
to stay. It is not only for the material advantage.
Thrigsby is killing me. I saw the doctor the other day
and he tells me I have only a lung and a half."-
"John !" cried Margaret. Sophia looked maliciously and
defiantly at her mother-in-law. Jamie met Tom's eyes.
They were hard, hostile and inquisitive and in them
Jamie read his own thought: "I'm all right, but what
about you?" "It was a great stroke of luck," said
John, "the firm making that move just when they did."
"Luck ! Yes," said Tom. "It almost looks like direct
interposition. They pay you more, of course." "Twice
as much. So that, you see, I am not particularly inter-
ested in the old man's will." "Of course," said Mar-
garet, "I am glad to see you all getting on so well, and,
Heaven knows, it is not my wish to stand in your way,
but you are all working for other men and not doing as
the Keiths did in their day." "That, my dear mother,"
said Jamie, "is because we have to undo a good deal
of what the Keiths did in their day." "Nonsense,