H. G. (Herbert George) Wells.

Love and Mr. Lewisham; the story of a very young couple online

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Love and

Mr T



H. G. Wells




Love and


The Story of a Very Young Couple


H. G. Wells

Author of "The Time Machine," "The Wonderful
Visit," and "When the Sleeper Wakes."

" Great Spirits and Great Businesse doe keepe out this weak Passion
. . . yet Love can finde Entrance not only into an open Heart but
also into a Heart well fortified, if Watch be not well kept." — Bacon

Second Edition.


Jfteto gorfe


— ]

Copyright, 1899, by







I. Introduces Mr. Lewisham i

II. "As the Wind Blows" n

III. The Wonderful Discovery 22

IV. Raised Eyebrows 28

V. Hesitations 37

VI. The Scandalous Ramble 43

VII. The Reckoning 58

VIII. The Career Prevails 70

IX. Alice Heydinger 78

X. In the Gallery of Old Iron 85

XI. Manifestations 91

XII. Lewisham is Unaccountable 106

XIII. Lewisham Insists . „ 109

XIV. Mr. Lagune's Point of View 119

XV. Love in the Streets 126

XVI. Miss Heydinger's Private Thoughts 136

XVII. In the Raphael Gallery 141

XVIII. The Friends of Progress Meet 147

XIX. Lewisham' s Solution 162

XX. The Career is Suspended 171

XXI. Home ! 181

XXII. Epithalamy 184

XXIII. Mr. Chaffery at Home 191

XXIV. The Campaign Opens 216

XXV. The First Battle 226

XXVI. The Glamour Fades 247




XXVII Concerning a Quarrel 256

XXVIII. The Coming of the Roses 272

XXIX. Thorns and Rose Petals 282

XXX. A Withdrawal 297

XXXI. In Battersea Park 309

XXXII. The Crowning Victory 318




The opening chapter does not concern itself
with Love — indeed that antagonist does not cer-
tainly appear until the third — and Mr. Lewisham
is seen at his studies. It was ten years ago, and in
those days he was assistant master in the Whortley
Proprietary School, Whortley, Sussex, and his
wages were forty pounds a year, out of which he had
to afford fifteen shillings a week during term time
to lodge with Mrs. Munday, at the little shop in
the West Street. He was called " Mr." to dis-
tinguish him from the bigger boys, whose duty it
was to learn, and it was a matter of stringent regula-
tion that he should be addressed as " Sir."

He wore ready-made clothes, his black jacket of
rigid line was dusted about the front and sleeves with
scholastic chalk, and his face was downy and his
moustache incipient. He was a passable-looking


youngster of eighteen, fair-haired, indifferently
barbered and with a quite unnecessary pair of
glasses on his fairly prominent nose — he wore these
to make himself look older, that discipline might
be maintained. At the particular moment when
this story begins he was in his bedroom. An attic
it was, with lead-framed dormer windows, a slanting
ceiling and a bulging wall, covered, as a number of
torn places witnessed, with innumerable strata of
florids old-fashioned paper.

To judge by the room Mr. Lewisham thought
little of Love but much on Greatness. Over
the head of the bed, for example, where good
folks hang texts, these truths asserted themselves,
written in a clear, bold, youthfully florid hand : —
" Knowledge is Power/' and " What man has done
man can do," — man in the second instance re-
ferring to Mr. Lewisham. Never for a moment
were these things to be forgotten. Mr. Lewisham
could see them afresh every morning as his head
came through his shirt. And over the yellow-
painted box upon which — for lack of shelves — Mr.
Lewisham's library was arranged, was a " Schema."
(Why he should not have headed it " Scheme," the
editor of the Church Times, who calls his miscella-
neous notes " Varia" is better able to say than I).
In this scheme, 1892 was indicated as the year in
which Mr. Lewisham proposed to take his B. A.


degree at the London University with " hons. in all
subjects," and 1895 as the date of his " gold medal."
Subsequently there were to be " pamphlets in the
Liberal interest," and such like things duly dated.
" Who would control others must first control him-
self," remarked the wall over the wash-hand stand,
and behind the door against the Sunday trousers
was a portrait of Carlyle.

These were no mere threats against the universe ;
operations had begun. Jostling Shakespeare,
Emerson's Essays, and the penny Life of Con-
fucius, there were battered and defaced school
books, a number of the excellent manuals of the
Universal Correspondence Association, exercise
books, ink (red and black) in penny bottles, and an
india-rubber stamp with Mr. Lewisham's name.
A trophy of bluish green South Kensington certif-
icates for geometrical drawing, astronomy, physi-
ology, physiography, and inorganic chemistry,
adorned his further wall. And against the Carlyle
portrait was a manuscript list of French irregular

Attached by a drawing-pin to the roof over the
wash-hand stand, which — the room being an attic —
sloped almost dangerously, dangled a Time-Table,
Mr. Lewisham was to rise at five, and that this was
no vain boasting, a cheap American alarum clock by
the books on the box witnessed. The lumps of


mellow chocolate on the papered ledge by the bed-
head, indorsed that evidence. " French until eight,"
said the time-table curtly. Breakfast was to be eaten
in twenty minutes ; then twenty-five minutes of "lit-
erature " to be precise, learning extracts (preferably
pompous) from the plays of William Shakespeare —
and then to school and duty. The time-table further
prescribed Latin Composition for the recess and the
dinner hour, ("literature," however, during the meal),
and varied its injunctions for the rest of the twenty-
four hours according to the day of the week. Not
a moment for Satan and that " mischief still " of his.
Only three-score and ten has the confidence, as
well as the time, to be idle.

But just think of the admirable quality of such a
scheme ! Up and busy at five, with all the world
about one horizontal, warm, dreamy-brained or stu-
pidly hullish, if roused, roused only to grunt and
sigh and roll over again into oblivion. By eight
three hours' clear start, three hours' knowledge
ahead of everyone. It takes, I have been told by
an eminent scholar, about a thousand hours of sin-
cere work to learn a language completely — after
three or four languages much less — which gives you,
even at the outset, one each a year before break-
fast. The gift of tongues — picked up like mush-
rooms ! Then that " literature " — an astonishing
conception ! In the afternoon mathematics and the


sciences. Could anything be simpler or more mag-
nificent ? In six years Mr. Lewisham will have his
five or six languages, a sound, all-round education,
a habit of tremendous industry, and be still but four
and twenty. He will already have honour in his
university and ampler means. One realises that
those pamphlets in the Liberal interests will be no
obscure platitudes. Where Mr. Lewisham will be
at thirty stirs the imagination. There will be mod-
ifications of the Schema, of course, as experience
widens. But the spirit of it — the spirit of it is a
devouring flame !

He was sitting facing the diamond-framed win-
dow, writing, writing fast, on a second yellow
box that was turned on end and empty, and the
lid was open, and his knees were conveniently
stuck into the cavity. The bed was strewn
with books and copygraphed sheets of instruc-
tions from his remote correspondence tutors.
Pursuant to the dangling time-table he was,
you would have noticed, translating Latin into

Imperceptibly the speed of his writing diminished.
" Urit vie Glycerce nitor " lay ahead and troubled
him. " Urit me," he murmured, and his eyes trav-
elled from his book out of window to the vicar's
roof opposite and its ivied chimneys. His brows
were knit at first and then relaxed. " Urit vie ! "


He had put his pen into his mouth and glanced
about for his dictionary. Urare ?

Suddenly his expression changed. Movement
dictionary-ward ceased. He was listening to a light
tapping sound — it was a footfall — outside.

He stood up abruptly, and, stretching his neck,
peered through his unnecessary glasses and the dia-
mond panes down into the street. Looking acutely
downward he could see a hat daintily trimmed with
pinkish white blossom, the shoulder of a jacket, and
just the tips of nose and chin. Certainly the stranger
who sat under the gallery last Sunday next the
Frobishers. Then, too, he had seen her only
obliquely. . . .

He watched her until she passed beyond the win-
dow frame. He strained to see impossibly round
the corner. . . .

Then he started, frowned, took his pen from
his mouth. " This wandering attention ! " he said.
" The slightest thing ! Where was I ? Tcha ! "
He made a noise with his teeth to express his irrita-
tion, sat down, and replaced his knees in the up-
turned box. " Urit me," he said, biting the end of
his pen and looking for his dictionary.

It was a Wednesday half-holiday late in March,
a spring day glorious in amber light, dazzling white
clouds and the intensest blue, casting a powder of
wonderful green hither and thither among the trees


and rousing all the birds to tumultuous rejoicings,
a rousing day, a clamatory insistent day, a veritable
herald of summer. The stir of that anticipation
was in the air, the warm earth was parting above the
swelling seeds, and all the pine-woods were full of
the minute crepitation of opening bud scales. And
not only was the stir of Mother Nature's awakening
in the earth and the air and the trees, but also in
Mr. Lewisham's youthful blood, bidding him rouse
himself to live — live in a sense quite other than that
the Schema indicated.

He saw the dictionary peeping from under a paper,
looked up " Urit me," appreciated the shining
" nitor " of Glycera's shoulders, and so fell idle again
to rouse himself abruptly.

" I can't fix my attention," said Mr. Lewisham.
He took off the needless glasses, wiped them, and
blinked his eyes. This confounded Horace and his
stimulating epithets ! A walk?

" I won't be beat," he said — incorrectly — replaced
his glasses, brought his elbows down on either side
of his box with resonant violence, and clutched the
hair over his ears with both hands. . . .

In five minutes' time he found himself watching?
the swallows curving through the blue over the
vicarage garden.

" Did ever man have such a bother with himself
as me?" he asked vaguely but vehemently. " It's


self-indulgence does it— sitting down's the beginning
of laziness."

So he stood up to his work, and came into perma-
nent view of the village street. " If she has gone
round the corner by the post office, she will come
in sight over the palings above the allotments," sug-
gested the unexplored and undisciplined region of
Mr. Lewisham's mind. . . .

She did not come into sight. Apparently she
had not gone round by the post office after all. It
made one wonder where she had gone. Did she go
up through the town to the avenue on these
occasions ? . . . Then abruptly a cloud drove across
the sunlight, the glowing street went cold and Mr.
Lewisham's imagination submitted to control. So
" Mater saeva cupidinum" " The untameable mother
of desires," — Horace (Book II. of the Odes) was the
author appointed by the university for Mr. Lewis-
ham's matriculation — was, after all, translated to its
prophetic end.

Precisely as the church clock struck five Mr.
Lewisham, with a punctuality that was indeed
almost too prompt for a really earnest student, shut
his Horace, took up his Shakespeare, and descended
the narrow, curved, uncarpeted staircase that led
from his garret to the living room in which he had
his tea with his landlady, Mrs. Munday. That good
lady was alone, and after a few civilities Mr. Lewis-


ham opened his Shakespeare and read from a mark
onward — that mark, by-the-bye, was in the middle
of a scene — while he consumed mechanically a
number of slices of bread and whort jam.

Mrs. Munday watched him over her spectacles and
thought how bad so much reading must be for the
eyes, until the tinkling of her shop-bell called her
away to a customer. At twenty-five minutes to six
he put the book back in the window-sill, dashed a few
crumbs from his jacket, assumed a mortar-board cap
that was lying on the tea-caddy, and went forth to
his evening " preparation duty."

The West Street was empty and shining golden
with the sunset. Its beauty seized upon him, and
he forgot to repeat the passage from Henry VIII.
that should have occupied him down the street.
Instead he was presently thinking of that insubor-
dinate glance from his window and of little chins
and nose-tips. His eyes became remote in their
expression. . . .

The school door was opened by an obsequious
little boy with " lines" to be examined.

Mr. Lewisham felt a curious change of atmos-
phere on his entry. The door slammed behind him.
The hall with its insistent scholastic suggestions,
its yellow marbled paper, its long rows of
hat-pegs, its disreputable array of umbrellas, a
broken mortar-board and a tattered and scattered


Principia, seemed dim and dull in contrast with the
luminous stir of the early March evening outside.
An unusual sense of the greyness of a teacher's life,
of the greyness indeed of the life of all studious
souls, came and went in his mind. He took the
" lines," written painfully over three pages of exer-
cise book, and obliterated them with a huge G. E.
L., scrawled monstrously across each page. He
heard the familiar mingled noises of the playground
drifting in to him through the open schoolroom



A FLAW in that pentagram of a time-table, that
pentagram by which the demons of distraction were
to be excluded from Mr. Lewisham's career to
Greatness, was the absence of a clause forbidding
study out of doors. It was the day after the trivial
window peeping of the last chapter that this gap in
the time-table became apparent, a day if possible
more gracious and alluring than its predecessor, and
at half-past twelve, instead of returning from the
school directly to his lodging, Mr. Lewisham
escaped through the omission and made his way —
Horace in pocket — to the park gates and so to the
avenue of ancient trees that encircles the broad
Whortley domain. He dismissed a suspicion of his
motive with perfect success. In the avenue — for
the path is but little frequented — one might expect
to read undisturbed. The open air, the erect atti-
tude, are surely better than sitting in a stuffy, ener-
vating bedroom. The open air is distinctly healthy,

hardy, simple. . . .



The day was breezy, and there was a perpetual
rustling, a going and coming in the budding trees.

The network of the beeches was full of golden
sunlight, and all the lower branches were shot with
horizontal dashes of new-born green.

" Tu, nisi ventis
Debes ludibrium, cave"

was the appropriate matter of Mr. Lewisham's
thoughts, and he was mechanically trying to
keep the book open in three places at once, at the
text, the notes, and the literal translation, while he
turned up the vocabulary for ludibriutn, when his
attention, wandering dangerously near the top of
the page, fell over the edge and escaped with in-
credible swiftness down the avenue. . . .

A girl wearing a straw hat adorned with white
blossom, was advancing towards him. Her occupa-
tion, too, was literary. Indeed, she was so busy
writing that evidently she did not perceive him :

Unreasonable emotions descended upon Mr.
Lewisham — emotions that are unaccountable on the
mere hypothesis of a casual meeting. Something
was whispered ; it sounded suspiciously like " It's
her!" He advanced with his fingers in his book,
ready to retreat to its pages if she looked up, and
watched her over it. Ludibrium passed out of his
universe. She was clearly unaware of his nearness,


he thought, intent upon her writing, whatever that
might be. He wondered what it might be. Her
face, foreshortened by her downward regard, seemed
infantile. Her fluttering skirt was short, and showed
her shoes and ankles. He noted her graceful, easy
steps. A figure of health and lightness it was, sun-
lit, and advancing towards him, something, as he
afterwards recalled with a certain astonishment,
quite outside the Schema.

Nearer she came and nearer, her eyes still down-
cast. He was full of vague, stupid promptings to-
wards an uncalled-for intercourse. It was curious
she did not see him. He began to expect almost
painfully the moment when she would look up,
though what there was to expect — ! He thought
of what she would see when she discovered him, and
wondered where the tassel of his cap might be hang-
ing — it sometimes occluded one eye. It was of
course quite impossible to put up a hand and inves-
tigate. He was near trembling with excitement.
His paces, acts which are usually automatic, became
uncertain and difficult. One might have thought
he had never passed a human being before. Still
nearer, ten yards now, nine, eight. Would she go
past without looking up ? . . .

Then their eyes met.

She had hazel eyes, but Mr. Lewisham being
quite an amateur about eyes, could find no words


for them. She looked demurely into his face. She
seemed to find nothing there. She glanced away
from him among the trees, and passed, and nothing
remained in front of him but an empty avenue, a
sunlit, green-shot void.

The incident was over.

From far away the soughing of the breeze swept
towards him, and in a moment all the twigs about
him were quivering and rustling and the boughs
creaking with a gust of wind. It seemed to urge
him away from her. The faded dead leaves that
had once been green and young sprang up, raced
one another, leapt, danced and pirouetted, and then
something large struck him on the neck, stayed for
a startling moment, and drove past him up the

Something vividly white ! A sheet of paper — the
sheet upon which she had been writing !

For what seemed a long time he did not grasp the
situation. He glanced over his shoulder and under-
stood suddenly. His awkwardness vanished. Hor-
ace in hand, he gave chase, and in ten paces had
secured the fugitive document. He turned towards
her, flushed with triumph, the quarry in his hand.
He had as he picked it up seen what was written,
but the situation dominated him for the instant.
He made a stride towards her, and only then under-
stood what he had seen. Lines of a measured


length and capitals ! Could it really be — ? He
stopped. He looked again, eyebrows rising. He
held it before him, staring now quite frankly. It
had been written with a stylographic pen. Thus it
ran :

" Come ! Sharp's the word''

And then again,

" Come ! Sharp's the word**

And then,

" Come ! Sharp's the word**

" Come ! Sharp's the word,"

And so on all down the page, in a boyish hand
uncommonly like Frobisher ii.'s.

Surely ! " I say ! " said Mr. Lewisham, struggling
with the new aspect and forgetting all his manners
in his surprise. . . . He remembered giving the im-
position quite well : — Frobisher ii. had repeated the
exhortation just a little too loudly — had brought the
thing upon himself. To find her doing this jarred
oddly upon certain vague preconceptions he had
formed of her. Somehow it seemed as if she had
betrayed him. That of course was only for the

She had come up with him now. " May I have
my sheet of paper, please ? M she said with a catch-
ing of her breath. She was a couple of inches less
in height than he. Do you observe her half-open
lips, said Mother Nature in a noiseless aside to Mr.


Lewisham — a thing he afterwards recalled. In her
eyes was a touch of apprehension.

" I say," he said, with protest still uppermost,
"You oughtn't to do this."

" Do what ? "

" This. Impositions. For my boys."

She raised her eyebrows, then knitted them mo-
mentarily, and looked at him. " Are you Mr. Lew-
isham ? " she asked with an affectation of entire
ignorance and discovery.

She knew him perfectly well, which was one rea-
son why she was writing the imposition, but pretend-
ing not to know gave her something to say.

Mr. Lewisham nodded.

" Of all people ! Then " — frankly — " you have
just found me out."

" I am afraid I have," said Lewisham. " I am
afraid I have found you out."

They looked at one another for the next move.
She decided to plead in extenuation.

" Teddy Frobisher is my cousin. I know it's
very wrong, but he seemed to have such a lot to do
and to be in such trouble. And I had nothing to
do. In fact, it was /who offered. ..."

She stopped and looked at him. She seemed to
consider her remark complete.

That meeting of the eyes had an oddly discon-
certing quality. He tried to keep to the business


of the imposition. " You ought not to have dorke
that," he said, encountering her steadfastly.

She looked down and then into his face again.
" No," she said, " I suppose I ought not to. I'm
very sorry."

Her looking down and up again produced another
unreasonable effect. It seemed to Lewisham that
they were discussing something quite other than
the topic of their conversation ; a persuasion pat-
ently absurd and only to be accounted for by the
general disorder of his faculties. He made a serious
attempt to keep his footing of reproof.

" I should have detected the writing, you know."

" Of course you would. It was very wrong of me
to persuade him. But I did — I assure you. He
seemed in such trouble. And I thought — "

She made another break, and there was a faint
deepening of colour in her cheeks. Suddenly, stu-
pidly, his own adolescent cheeks began to glow. It
became necessary to banish that sense of a duplicate
topic forthwith.

" I can assure you," he said, now very earnestly,
11 1 never give a punishment, never, unless it is mer-
ited. I make that a rule. I — er — always make that
a rule. I am very careful indeed."

" I am really sorry," she interrupted with frank
contrition. " It zuas silly of me."

Lewisham felt unaccountably sorry she should


have to apologise, and he spoke at once with the
idea of checking the reddening of his face. " I
don't think that" he said with a sort of belated alac-
rity. " Really, it was kind of you, you know —
very kind of you indeed. And I know that — I can
quite understand that — er — your kindness. . . ."

" Ran away with me. And now poor little Teddy
will get into worse trouble for letting me. . . ."

" Oh no," said Mr. Lewisham, perceiving an op-
portunity and trying not to smile his appreciation
of what he was saying. " I had no business to read
this as I picked it up — absolutely no business.
Consequently. . . ."

" You won't take any notice of it ? Really ! "

" Certainly not," said Mr. Lewisham.

Her face lit with a smile, and Mr. Lewisham's re-
laxed in sympathy. " It is nothing — it's the proper
thing for me to do, you know."

" But so many people wouldn't do it. School-
masters are not usually so — chivalrous."

He was chivalrous ! The phrase acted like a spur.
He obeyed a foolish impulse.

" If you like — " he said.


" He needn't do this. The Impot., I mean. I'll
let him off."

" Really ? "

" I can."


" It's awfully kind of you."

" I don't mind," he said. " It's nothing much. If
you really think. . . ."

He was full of self-applause for this scandalous
sacrifice of justice.

" It's awfully kind of you," she said.

" It's nothing, really," he explained, " nothing."

" Most people wouldn't — "

" I know."


" It's all right," he said. " Really."

He would have given worlds for something more to
say, something witty and original, but nothing came.

The pause lengthened. She glanced over hef
shoulder down the vacant avenue. This interview
— this momentous series of things unsaid was com-
ing to an end ! She looked at him hesitatingly and

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Online LibraryH. G. (Herbert George) WellsLove and Mr. Lewisham; the story of a very young couple → online text (page 1 of 17)