THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Mrs. HUMPHRY WARD
LONDON : 48 PALL MALL
W. COLLINS SONS & CO. LTD.
GLASGOW MELBOURNE AUCKLAND
THE DEAR AND GALLANT MEMORY
T. S. A.
PASSCHENDAELE, OCTOBER II, 19^7
This book was finished in April 19 18,
and represents the mood of a supremely-
critical moment in the War.
M. A. W.
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' Remember, Slater, if I am detained, that I am ex-
pecting the two gentlemen from the War Agricultural
Committee at six, and Captain Mills of the Red Cross
is coming to dine and sleep. Ask Lady Chicksands to
look after him in case I am late — and put those Tribunal
papers in order for me, by the way. I really must go
properly into that Quaker man's case — horrid nuisance !
I hope to be back in a couple of hours, but I can't be
sure. Hullo, Beryl ! I thought you were out.'
The speaker. Sir Henry Chicksands, already mounted
on his cob outside his own front door, turned from his
secretary, to whom he had been giving these directions,
to see his only daughter hurrying through the inner hall
with the evident intention of catching her father before
he rode off.
She ran down the steps, but instead of speaking at
once she began to stroke and pat his horse's neck, as
though doubtful how to put what she had to say.
' Well, Beryl, what's the matter ? ' said her father
impatiently. The girl, who was slender and delicate
in build, raised her face to his.
' Are you — are you really going to Mannering,
father ? '
2 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' I am — worse luck ! '
' You'll handle him gently, won't you ? ' There
was anxiety in the girl's voice. ' But of course you will
— I know you will.'
Chicksands shrugged his shoulders.
' I shall do my best. But you know as well as I do
that he's a queer customer when it comes to anything
connected with the war.'
The girl looked behind her to make sure that the old
butler of the house had retired discreetly out of earshot.
' But he can't quarrel with you, father ! '
' I hope not — for your sake.'
' Must you really tackle him ? '
' Well, I thought I was the person to do it. It's
quite certain nobody else could make anything of it.'
Privately Beryl disagreed, but she made no comment.
' Aubrey seems to be pretty worried,' she said, in a
depressed tone, as she turned away.
' I don't wonder. He should have brought up his
father better. Well, good-bye, dear. Don't bother
She waved her hand to him as he made off, and stood
watching him from the steps — a gentle, attaching figure,
her fair hair and the pale oval of her face standing out
against the panelled haU behind her.
Her father went his way down a long winding hill
beyond his own grounds, along a country road hned
with magnificent oaks, through a village where his prac-
tised eye noted several bad cottages with disapproval,
tiU presently he slackened his horse's pace, as he passed
an ill-looking farm about half a mUe beyond the village.
' Not a decent gate in the whole place ! ' he said to
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 3
himself with disgust. ' And the farm buildings only
fit for a bonfire. High time indeed that we made
Mannering sit up ! '
He paused also to look over the neighbouring hedge
at some fields literally choked with weeds.
' And as for Gregson — lazy, drunken fellow ! Why
didn't he set some village women on ? Just see what
they've done on my place ! Hullo, here he is ! Now
I'm in for it ! ' For he saw a slouching man coming
rapidly towards him from the farmyard, with the evident
intention of waylaying him. The man's shabby, untidy
dress and blotched complexion did not escape Sir
Henry's quick eye. ' Seems to have been making a
night of it,' was his inward comment.
' Good -day, Sir Henry,' said the farmer, laying a
hand on Chicksands' bridle, ' I wanted a word with you,
sir. I give you fair warning, you and your Committee,
you'll not turn me out without a fight ! I was never
given no proper notice — and there are plenty as '11 stand
The voice was thick and angry, and the hand shook.
Sir Henry drew his horse away, and the man's hold
' Of course you had every notice,' said Sir Henry drily.
' I hadn't,' the man persisted. ' If the letters as they
talk of were sent, I never saw 'em. And when the
Committee came I was out — on business. Can't a man
be out on his lawful business, Sir Henry, instead of
dancin' attendance on men as know no better than he ?
The way this Government is doing things — you might
as weU"^Jive under the Czar of Russia as in this country.
It's no country this for free men now, Sir Henry.'
' The Czar of Russia has come to grief, my man,
4 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
for the same reason that you have,' said Sir Henry,
gathering up the reins, ' for shirking his duty. All very
well before the war, but now we can't afford this kind of
' And so you've told the Squire to turn me out ? '
said the man fiercely, his hands on his sides.
' You've had no notice from Mr. Mannering yet ? '
' Not a word.'
' But you've heard from the Inspection Committee ? '
The man nodded.
' But it's not they as can turn me out, if the Squire
There was a note of surly defiance in his voice.
' I don't know about that,' said Sir Henry, whose
horse was getting restive. ' My advice to you, Gregson,
is to take it quietly, pull yourself together, and get some
other work. There's plenty going nowadays.'
' Thank you for nothing, Sir Henry. I've got plenty
to advise me — people as I set more store by. I've got
a wife and children, sir, and I shan't give in without a
fuss — you may be sure of that. Good-day to you.'
Sir Henry nodded to him and rode off.
' He'll go, of course,' reflected the rider. ' Our
powers are quite enough. But if I can't get Mannering
to send the notice, it'll be a deal more trouble. Hullo,
here's some one else ! This is another pair of boots ! '
He had scarcely turned the corner beyond the farm
when another man came running down the sloping field,
calling to him. Sir Henry pulled up his horse again. But
his aspect had changed, and his voice took another note.
' Did you want to speak to me, Adam ? A nice day,
isn't it ? '
' I saw you, Sir Henry, from the top of the field.
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 5
talking to Gregson in the road, and I thought perhaps
you'd let me have a few words with you. You know,
sir, this is awfully hard lines.'
Sir Henry looked impatient, but the man who had
spoken to him was a fine specimen of young manhood —
broad-shouldered, clear-eyed, with a natural dignity of
manner, not at all a person to be brushed aside.
' I'm sure you can't defend Gregson, Adam,' said Sir
Henry, ' you — one of the best farmers in the district !
I wish they had put you on the Inspection Committee.'
' Well, they didn't,' said the other, perhaps with a
sUght emphasis. ' And there's many of us feel, I can
assure you, as I do. Gregson's a poor creature, but
he hasn't had quite fair play. Sir Henry — that's what
we feel. And he's been fifteen years on his place.' The
man spoke hesitatingly, but strongly. There was a
queer, suppressed hostility in his pleasant blue eyes.
' Fifteen years too long,' interrupted Sir Henry. ' I
tell you, Adam, we can't afford now to let men Uke
Gregson spoil good land while the country's likely to go
hungry ! The old happy-go-lucky days are done with.
I wonder whether even you recognise that we're fighting
for our Hves ? '
' I know we are. Sir Henry. But if the war makes
slaves of us what good wiU it do if we do win it ? '
Sir Henry laughed. ' Well, Adam, you were always
a Radical and I was always a Conservative. And I
don't like being managed any more than you do. But
look at the way I'm managed in my business ! — harried
up and down by a parcel of young fellows from the
Ministry that often seem to me fools ! But we've all got
to come in. And this country's worth it ! '
' You know I'm with you there, sir. But why don't
6 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
you get at the Squire himself. What good have he or
his agent ever been to anybody ? You're a landlord
worth living under ; but '
' Ah ! don't be in too great a hurry, Adam, and
you'll see what you will see ! ' And with a pleasant
salute, his handsome face twitching between frowns and
smiles, Sir Henry rode on. ' What trade unionists we
all are — high and low ! That man's as good a farmer
as Gregson's a vile one. But he stands by his like, as
I stand by mine.'
Then his thoughts took a different turn. He was
entering a park, evidently of wide extent, and finely
wooded. The road through it had long fallen out of
repair, and was largely grass-grown. A few sheep were
pasturing on it, and a few estate cottages showed here
and there. Sir Henry looked about him with quick
eyes. He understood that the Inspection Sub-Com-
mittee, constituted under the Com Production Act,
and on the look-out for grass-land to put under the
plough, had recommended the ploughing up of all this
further end of Mannering Park. It carried very few
sheep under its present management ; and the herd of
Jersey cattle that used to graze it had long since died
out. As for the game, it had almost gone — ^before the
war. No use, either for business or play !
Then — on this early autumn day of 1917 — Sir Henry
feU to musing on the vast changes coming over
England in consequence of the war. ' Who would
ever have believed that we — we should put ourselves to
school as we have done ? MiHtary service, rations, food-
prices, all our businesses " controlled," and now our
land looked after ! How much of it has come to stay ?
Well, it won't affect me much ! Ah ! is that the Rector? '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 7
For a hundred yards ahead of him he perceived a
clerical figure, spare and taU, in a wideawake hat, swing-
ing towards him. The September sun was westering,
and behind the approaching man lay broad stretches of
wood, just showing here and there the first bronze and
purple signs of autumn.
The Rector, recognising the solitary rider, waved his
hand in welcome, and Sir Henry pulled up. The two
men, who were evidently personal friends, exchanged
' You're going to the HaU, Sir Henry ? ' said the Rector.
Sir Henry described his business.
The Rector shook his head reflectively.
' You haven't announced yourself, I hope ? '
' No, I took that simple precaution. I suppose he's
already pretty savage ? '
' With whom ? The Committee ? Yes, you won't
find him easy to deal with. But just at present there's
a distraction. His new secretary arrived some weeks
ago, and he now spends his whole time, from morning
till night, dictating to her and showing her his things.'
' Secretary ? A woman ? Good heavens ! Who is
she ? '
' A great sweU, I understand. Oxford, First Class in
Mods, Second in Greats. I've only just seen her. A
' Why isn't she in France, or doing munition work ? '
growled Sir Henry.
' I don't know. I suppose she has her reasons. She
seems patriotic enough. But I've only exchanged a few
words with her, at a very hurried luncheon, at which,
by the way, there was a great deal too much to eat.
She and Pamela disappeared directly afterwards.'
8 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' Oh, so Pamela's at home ? What's the name of the
new woman ? I suppose she's to chaperon Pamela ? '
' I shouldn't wonder. Her name is Miss Bremerton.'
' Beryl declares that Pamela is going to be a beauty —
and clever besides. She used to be a jolly child. But
then they go to school and grow up quite different. I've
hardly seen her for a year and a half.'
' Well, you'U judge for yourself. Good luck to you !
I don't envy you your job.'
' Good Lord, no ! But you see I'm Chairman of this
blessed show, and they all fixed on me to beU the cat.
We want a hundred acres of the Park, a new agent,
notices for three farmers, et cetera ! '
The Rector whistled. ' I shall wait, on tiptoe, to see
what happens ! What are your powers ? '
' Oh, tremendous ! '
' So you have him ? Well, good-day.'
And the Rector was passing on. But Sir Henry
stooped over his horse's neck — ' As you know, perhaps,
it would be very inconvenient to my poor little Beryl if
Mannering were to make a quarrel of it with me.'
' Ah, I gathered that she and Aubrey were engaged,'
said the Rector cordially. ' Best congratulations ! Has
the Squire behaved well ? '
' Moderately. He declares he has no money to give
' And yet he spent eighteen hundred pounds last
week at that Christie sale ! ' said the Rector with a
laugh. ' And now I suppose the new secretary will add
fuel to the flame. I saw Pamela for a minute alone,
and she said Miss Bremerton was " just as much gone
on Greek things as father," and they were like a pair of
lunatics when the new vases came down.'
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 9
' Oh, blow the secretary I ' said Sir Henry with
exasperation. ' And meanwhile his daughters can't
get a penny out of him for any war purpose whatever !
Well, I must go on.'
They parted, and Sir Henry put his cob into a sharp
trot which soon brought him in sight of a distant building
— ^low and irregular — surrounded by trees, and by the
wide undulating slopes of the park.
' Dreadfully ugly place,' he said to himself, as the
house grew plainer ; ' rebuilt at the worst time, by a man
with no more taste than a broomstick. Still, he was
the sixteenth owner, from father to son. That's some-
And he fell to thinking, with that half-ironic deprecia-
tion which he allowed to himself, and would have stood
from no one else, of his own brand-new Georgian house,
built from the plans of a famous American architect, ten
years before the war, out of the profits of an abnormally
successful year, and furnished in what he believed to be
faultless taste by the best professional decorator he
' Yet compared to a Mannering, what do I mean to
the people here ? You scarcely begin to take root in
this blessed country under half a century. Mannering
is exceedingly unpopular ; the people think him a
selfish idler ; but if he chose he could whistle them
back with a hundredth part of the trouble it would take
me ! And if Aubrey wanted to go into Parliament,
he'd probably have his pick of the county divisions.
Curious fellow, Aubrey ! I wonder exactly what Beryl
sees in him ? '
His daughter's prospects were not indeed very clear
to a mind that liked everything cut and dried. Aubrey
10 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Mannering was the Squire's eldest son ; but the Squire
was not rich, and had been for years past wasting his
money on Greek antiquities, which seemed to his neigh-
bours, including Sir Henry Chicksands, a very dubious
investment. If Aubrey should want to sell, who was
going to buy such things at high prices after the war ?
No doubt prices at Christie's — for good stuff — had been
keeping up very weU. That was because of war profits.
People were throwing money about now. But when the
war industries came to an end ? and the national biUs
had to be paid ?
' The only thing that can't go down is land,' thought
Sir Henry, with the cheerful consciousness of a man who
had steadily year by year increased what had originally
been a very modest property to something Uke a large
Mannering had plenty of that commodity. But how
far had he dipped the estate ? It must be heavily
mortgaged. By decent management anybody, no doubt,
might still bring it round. ' But Aubrey's not the
man. And since he joined up at the beginning of the
war the Squire won't let him have a voice in anything.
And now Desmond — ^by George, the twins are nineteen
this month ! — Desmond '11 be off directly. And then his
father will be madder than ever.'
By this time the ugly house was near at hand, and
the thick woods which surrounded it had closed about
the horse and rider.
' Splendid timber,' thought Sir Henry, as he rode
through it, measuring it with a commercial eye, ' but
all past its prime, and abominably neglected. . . .
Hullo ! that looks like Pamela, and the new woman —
the secretary ! '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH ii
For two ladies were coming down the drive towards
him, with a big white and tan collie jumping round them.
One of them, very tall and erect, was dressed in a dark
coat and skirt, reasonably short, a small black toque,
and brown boots and leggings. The close-fitting coat
showed a shapely but quite substantial figure. She
carried a stick, and walked with a peculiarly rapid and
certain step. The young girl beside her seemed by
comparison a child. She wore a white dress, in keeping
with the warm September day, and with it a dark blue
sports coat, and a shady hat. Her dress only just
passed her knees, and beneath it the slender legs and
high heels drew Sir Henry's disapproving eye. He
hated extravagance in anything. Beryl managed to
look fashionable, without looking outree, as Pamela did.
But he reined up to greet her with ready smiles.
' Well, Pamela, joUy to see you at home again ! My
word, you've grown ! Shall I find your father in ? '
' Yes, we left him in the library. May I introduce
Miss Bremerton — Sir Henry Chicksands.' The girl
spoke with hurried shyness, the quick colour in her
cheeks. The lady beside her bowed, and Sir Henry
took off his hat. Each surveyed the other. ' A strong-
minded female ! ' thought Sir Henry, who was by no
means advanced in his views of the other sex.
' The strong-minded female,' however, was not, it
seemed, of the talkative kind. She remained quite
silent while Pamela and Sir Henry exchanged some
family gossip, with her ungloved hand caressing the
nose of the colHe, who was pressing against her with
intrusive friendliness. But her easy self-possession as
contrasted with Pamela's nervousness was all the time
making an impression on Sir Henry, as was also the fact
12 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
of her general good looks. Not a beauty — not at all ;
but, as the Rector had said, ' striking.'
As for Pamela, what was the matter with the child ?
Until Beryl's name was mentioned, there was not a smile
to be got out of her. And it was a very fleeting one
when it came. Desmond's name fared a little better.
At that the girl did at last raise her beautiful eyes, which
till then she had hardly allowed to be seen, and there
was a ray in them.
' He's here on leave,' she said ; ' a few days. He's
just got his Commission and been accepted for the
artillery. He goes into camp next week. He thinks
he'll be out by January.'
' We must certainly manage to see him before he
goes,' said Sir Henry heartily. Then turning to Miss
Bremerton with the slightly over-emphatic civility of
a man who prides himself on his manners in all con-
tingencies, he asked her if she was already acquainted
with the Mannering neighbourhood.
Miss Bremerton replied that it was quite unknown
to her. ' You'll admire our trees,' said Sir Henry.
' They're very fine.'
' Are they ? ' said the lady rather absently, giving
a perfunctory glance to the woods sloping away on her
right towards a little stream winding in the hollow.
Sir Henry felt a slight annoyance. He was a good
fellow, and no more touchy as to personal dignity than
the majority of men of his age and class. But he was
accustomed to be treated with a certain deference,
and in Miss Bremerton's manner there was none
' Well, good-bye, Pamela. I mustn't miss your
father. When are you coming over to see Beryl ? '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 13
' How am I to get there ? ' said the girl with a sudden
' Oh, I see, you've got no petrol allowance ? '
' How should we ? Nobody's doing any war work
There was an odd note in the speaker's voice.
* Why don't you join Beryl in her canteen work ? '
said Sir Henry abruptly.
' I don't know.'
' She wants help badly. She passes your gate on
her way to Fallerton. She could pick you up, and bring
' Yes,' said Pamela. There was a pause.
' Well, good-bye, dear,' said Sir Henry again, and with
a ceremonious bow to Pamela's companion, he rode on
— meditating on many things.
* The Squire's in, Sir Henry, but — weU, he's very
' Never mind. Forest. I must see him. Can you
find some one to take my horse round ? '
The grey-haired butler looked perplexed.
' I've only got my own small boy, Sir Henry. There's
two more of our men gone this morning. I don't know
if you'U trust him. He's a good boy.'
' Send him along, Forest. My beast's a lamb — you
know him. But look here. Forest ' — Sir Henry dis-
mounted, bridle in hand. ' Don't give the Squire
notice that I'm here, if you can help it, till you
The butler, who, in spite of his grey hair, was a
square-set, vigorous-looking fellow, might be said, in
reply, to have given the Squire's visitor a wink. At
14 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
any rate a look of understanding passed between the
two. The butler went quickly back into the house, and
re-emerged with a boy, who was the small image of his
father, to whom Sir Henry cheerfully gave up his cob.
But as Forest led the way through the outer hall he
stopped to say :
' The Squire's not alone, sir. There was a gentleman
arrived just as Miss Pamela went out. But I don't
think he'll stay long.'
' Who is he ? '
' Can't say, sir. He's lodging in the village, and
comes to see the Squire's collections sometimes.'
They were now in a long passage running along the
eastern front of the house to a large room which had
been added to its southern end, in order to hold the
Squire's library and collections. Midway the butler
' You've heard. Sir Henry, about Mr. Desmond ? '
' Yes, Miss Pamela told me.'
' Mr. Desmond says he'U be in France by January.
He's as pleased as possible, but it's a deal sooner than
Mr. Mannering hoped.'
' WeU, we've all got to take our chance in this war,'
said Sir Henry gravely. ' And the artillery is a bit
safer than the infantry. You know my son Arthur's a
' I hope he's all right, sir ? '
' Well, he's still on light work. He comes home this
week for a bit. He was gassed at Ypres a year and a
half ago, and had a bullet taken out of his chest about
two months since. But he is nearly fit again.'
The butler expressed his sympathy with a complete
absence of shyness or servility, then threw open a door
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 15
at the end of the passage, announcing, ' Sir Henry
'D — mn ! ' said a voice loudly within.
Sir Henry gave an involuntary start. Another look
passed between him and Forest, amused or interrogative
on the visitor's part, non-committal on the butler's.
The library of Mannering Hall as Sir Henry Chick-
sands entered it presented a curious spectacle. It was
a long, barn-like room, partly lined with books, and
partly with glass cases, in which Greek vases, Tanagra
figures, and other Greek and Etruscan antiquities, aU
carefully marked and labelled, were displayed. A few
large tables stood at intervals on the shabby carpet,
also laden with books and specimens. They conveyed
an impression of dust and disorder, as though no house-
maid had been allowed to touch them for weeks — with
one exception. A table, smaller than the rest, but
arranged with scrupulous neatness, stood at one side of
the room, with a typewriter upon it, certain books, and
a rack for stationery. A folded duster lay at one comer.
Pens, pencils, a box of clips, and a gum-pot stood where
a careful hand had placed them. And at a comer
corresponding to the duster was a small vase of flowers
— autumnal roses — the only flowers in the room.
But the various untidy accumulations, most of which
seemed to be of old standing, had been evidently just
added to by some recent arrivals. Four large packing-
cases, newly opened, took up much of what free space
was left on the floor. The straw, paper, and cotton-
wool, in which their contents had been packed, had been
tossed out with a careless or impatient hand, and httered
the carpet. Among the litter stood here and there some
i6 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Greek vases of different sizes ; in particular, a superb
pair, covered with figures ; beside which stood the
owner of Mannering, talking to an apparently young
man with an eye-glass, who was sitting on the floor
closely examining the vases. The Squire turned a
furrowed brow towards his approaching visitor, and
putting down a smaU bronze he had been holding raised
a warning hand.
' How do you do, Chicksands ? Very sorry, but