that the father, a cunning old Greek merchant, had
compelled him to marry her. Threats of exposure, and
all the rest ! The brother officer hinted at a plot â that
the poor fellow had been trapped, and was more sinned
against than sinning. However, there it was. He was
married to the Greek girl ; Miss Bremerton's letters were
returned ; and the thing was at an end. Our friend
says she behaved splendidly. She went on with her
work in the War Trade Department â shirked nothing
and no one â till suddenly, about six months ago, she
had a bad breakdown '
' What do you mean ? ' said the Squire abruptly.
' She was m ? '
' A combination of overwork and influenza, I should
think ; but no doubt the tragedy had a good deal to do
with it. She went down to stay for a couple of "months
with an uncle in Dorsetshire, and got better. Then
the family lost some money, through a solicitor's mis-
management â enough anyway to make a great deal of
difference. The mother too broke down in health.
142 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Miss Bremerton came home at once, and took everything
on her own shoulders. You remember, she heard of
your secretaryship from that Balliol man you wrote to â
who had been a tutor of hers when she was at Somerville ?
She determined to apply for it. It was more money
than she was getting in London, and she had to provide
for her mother and to educate her young sister. Plucky
woman ! AU this interested me very much, I confess.
I have formed such a high opinion of her ! And I
thought it would interest you.'
' I don't know what we any of us have to do with it,'
grumbled the Squire.
The Rector drew himself up a little, resenting the
' I hope I don't seem to you to be carrying gossip
for gossip's sake,' he said, rather indignantly. ' Nothing
was further from my intention. I like and admire Miss
Bremerton a great deal too much.'
' Well, I don't know what we can do,' said the Squire
testily. ' We can't unmarry the man.'
The Rector pulled up short, and offered a chilly
good-bye. As he hurried on towards the village â little
knowing the obstacles he would encounter in his path-
he said to himself that the Squire's manners were reaUy
past endurance. One could hardly imagine that Miss
Bremerton would be long able to put up with them.
The Squire meanwhile pursued the rest of his way,
wrapped in rather disagreeable reflections. He was
not at all grateful to the Rector for telling him the
story â quite the reverse. It altered his mental attitude
towards his secretary ; introduced disturbing ideas,
which he had no use for. He had taken for granted
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 143
that she was one of those single women of the present
day whose intellectual interests are enough for them,
who have never really felt the call of passion, and can be
trusted to look at life sensibly without taking love and
marriage into account. To think of Miss Bremerton as
having suffered severely from a love-affair â broken her
heart, and injured her health over it â was most dis-
tracting. If it had happened once â why, of course, it
might happen again. She was not immune ; in spite of
all her gifts, she was susceptible, and it was a horrid
He went home aU on edge, what with the adventure
of the gates, the encounter with the engineer fellow, and
now the revelations of the Rector.
As he approached the house, he saw from the old
clock in the gable of the northern front that it was two
o'clock. He was half-an-hour late for lunch. Luncheon,
in fact, must be over. And indeed, as he passed along
the library windows, he saw Elizabeth's figure at her
desk. It annoyed him that she should have gone back
to work so soon after her meal. He had constantly made
it plain to her that she was not expected to begin work
of an afternoon tiU four o'clock. She would overdo it ;
and then she would break down again as she had done
before. In his selfishness, his growing dependence on
her companionship and her help, he began to dread the
How agreeable, and how fruitful, their days of work
had been lately ! He had been, of course, annoyed
sometimes by her preoccupation with the war news of
the morning. Actually, this Caporetto business, the
Italian disaster, had played the mischief with her for a
day or two â and the news from Russia. Any bad news,
144 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
indeed, seemed to haunt her ; her colour faded away ;
and if he dictated notes to her, they would be occasionally
inaccurate. But that was seldom. In general, he felt that
he had made great strides during the preceding weeks ;
that, thanks to her, the book he was attempting was
actually coming into shape. She had suggested so much
â sometimes by her knowledge, sometimes by her ignor-
ance. And always so modest â so teachable â so docile.
Docile ? The word passing through his mind again,
as it had in the morning, roused in him mingled laughter
and uneasiness. For outside their classical work
together, nothing indeed could be less docile than Miss
Bremerton. How she had withstood him in the matter
of the codicil ! He could see her still, as she stood there
with her hands behind her, defying him. And that
morning also, when she had spoken her mind on the
project of the gates.
Well, now, he had to go in and teU her that the deed
was done, and the park was closed.
He crept round to a side door, nervous lest she should
perceive him from the library, and made Forest get him
some lunch. Then he hung about the hall smoking.
It was ridiculous â nonsensical â but he admitted to
himself that he shrank from facing her.
At last a third cigarette put the requisite courage
into him, and he walked slowly to the library. As he
entered the room, Elizabeth rose from her chair.
She stood there waiting for his orders, or his report â
her quiet eyes upon him.
He told himself not to be a fool, and throwing away
his cigarette, he walked up to her, and said in a tone of
' Well, the barricades are up ! '
The Squire having shot his bolt, looked anxiously for
the effect of it.
Elizabeth, apparently, took it calmly. She was
standing with one hand on the table behind her, and the
autumn sun streaming in through the western windows
caught the little golden curls on her temples, and the
one or two small adornments that she habitually wore,
especially a Greek coin â a gold stater â hanging on a
slender chain round her neck. In the Squire's eyes, the
statel3'' figure in plain black, with the brilliant head and
hands, had in some way gathered into itself the signifi-
cance of the library. All the background of books, with
its pale and yet rich harmony of tone, the glass cases
with their bronzes and terra-cottas, the statues, the
papers on the tables, the few flowers that were never
wanting to Elizabeth's corner, the taste with which the
furniture had been re-arranged, the general elegance
and refinement of the big room in fact, since Elizabeth
had reduced it from chaos to order, were now related to
her rather than to him. He could not now think of the
room without her. She had become in this short time
so markedly its presiding spirit. ' Let there be order
and beauty ! ' she had said, instead of dirt and confusion ;
and the order and beauty were there.
But the presiding spirit was now surveying him, with
146 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
eyes that seemed to have been watchfully withdrawn,
under puckered brows.
' I don't understand,' said Elizabeth. ' You have
fastened up the gates ? '
' I have,' said the Squire jocularly. ' Mrs. Perley
believes the Committee will bring a tank ! That would
be a sight worth seeing.'
' You really want to stop them from ploughing up
that land ? '
' I do. I have offered them other land.'
' Don't you believe what the Government say, Mr.
Mannering ? '
' What do they say ? '
' That everything depends upon whether we shall
have food enough to hold out ? That we can't win the
war unless we can grow more food ourselves ? '
' That's the Government's affair.' The Squire sat
down at his own table and began to look out a pen.
' Well now, Miss Bremerton, I don't think we need
spend any more time over this tiresome business. I've
already lost the morning. Suppose we get on with the
work we were doing yesterday ? '
He turned an amicable countenance towards her. She
on her side moved a little towards a window near her
table, and looked out of it, as though reflecting. After
a minute or two he asked himself with a vague anxiety
what was wrong with her. Her manner was certainly
Suddenly she turned, and came half across the room
' May I speak to you, please, Mr. Mannering ? '
' By all means. Is there anything amiss ? '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 147
' I think we agreed on a month's notice, on either
side. I should be glad if you would kindly accept my
notice as from to-day.'
The Squire rose violently, and thrust back his chair.
' So that's what you have been cogitating in my
absence ? '
' Not at all,' said EHzabeth mildly. ' I have made a
complete list of the passages you asked for.'
She pointed to her table.
' Yet all the time you were planning this move â you
were making up your mind what to do ? '
" I was often afraid it would have to be done,' she
said at last.
' And pray may I ask your reasons ? ' The Squire's
tone was sarcastic. ' I should like to know in what I
have failed to satisfy you. I suppose you thought I
was rude to you this morning ? '
' Oh, that didn't matter,' she said hastily. ' The
fact is, Mr. Mannering,' she crossed her hands quietly
in front of her, ' you put responsibilities on me that I am
not prepared to carry. I feel I must give them up.'
' I thought you liked responsibility.'
' It â it depends what sort. I begin to see now that
my principles â and opinions â are so different from yours
that, if we go further, I shall either be disappointing you
or â doing what I think wrong.'
' You can't conceive ever giving up your opinion to
mine ? '
' No ! ' Elizabeth shook her head with decision. ' No !
that I really can't conceive ! '
' Upon my word ! ' said the Squire, fairly taken aback.
148 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
They confronted each other. EUzabeth began to look
disturbed. Her eyelids flickered once or twice.
' I think we ought to be quite serious/ she said
hurriedly. ' I don't want you to misunderstand me.
If you knew how I have valued this opportunity of doing
this classical work with you ! It is wonderful ' â her
voice wavered a little, or the Squire fancied it â ' what
you have taught me even in this short time. I am proud
to have been your secretary â and your pupil. If it
were only that ' â she paused â ' but you have also been
so kind as to â to take me into your confidence â to let
me do things for you, outside what you engaged me for.
I see plainly that â if I go on with this â I shaU become
your secretary â your agent in fact â for a great many
things besides Greek.'
Then she made an impetuous step forward.
' Mr. Mannering ! â the atmosphere of this house
chokes me ! '
The Squire dropped back into his chair, watching
her vn\h eyes in which he tried â not very successfully â
to keep dignity alive.
' Your reasons ? '
' I am with the country ! ' she said, not without signs
of agitation ; ' and you seem to me to care nothing
about the country ! '
Disputation was never unwelcome to the Squire.
' Of course, we mean entirely different things by the
She threw back her head slightly, with a gesture of
' We might argue that, if it were peace-time. But
this is war ! Your country â my country â has the
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 149
German grip at her throat. A few months â and we are
saved â or broken ! â the country that gave us birth
â all we have â all we are ! ' Her words came short
and thick, and she had turned very white. ' And in
this house there is never, in your presence, a word of
the war ! â of the men who are dying by land and sea â
dying, that you and I may sit here in peace â that you
may talk to me about Greek poetry, and put spokes in
the wheel of those who are trjdng to feed us â and defend
us â and beat off Germany. Nothing for the wounded !
â nothing for the hospitals ! And you won't let Pamela
do anything ! Not a farthing for the Red Cross ! You
made me write a letter last week refusing a subscription.
And then, when they only ask you to let your land grow
food â that the German pirates and murderers ma5m't
starve us into a horrible submission â then you bar
your gates â you make endless trouble, when the country
wants every hour of every man's time â you, in your
position, give the lead to every shirker and coward !
No ! I can't bear it any more ! I must go. I have
had happy times here â I love the work â I am very glad
to earn the money, for my people want it. But I must
go. My heart â my conscience won't let me stay ! '
She turned from him, with an unconscious gesture
which seemed to the Squire to be somehow mingled with
that of the great Victory towering behind her, and went
quickly back to her table, where she began with trembling
hands to put her papers together.
The Squire tried to laugh it off.
' And all this,' he said with a sneer. ' because I tied
up a few gates ! '
She made no reply. He was conscious of mingled
dismay and fury.
150 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' You will stay your month ? ' he inquired at last,
coldly. ' You don't propose, 1 imagine, to leave me at
a moment's notice ? '
She was bending over her table, and did not look up.
' Oh yes, I will stay my month.'
He sat speechless, watching her. She very quickly
finished what she was doing, and taking up her
notebook, and some half-written letters, she left the
' A pretty state of things I ' said the Squire, and
thrusting his long hands into his pockets he began to
pace the library, in the kind of temper that may be
imaginedâ given the man and the circumstances.
The difference, however, between this occasion and
others lay in the fact that the penalties of temper had
grown so unjustly heavy. The Squire felt himself
hideously aggrieved. Abominable ! â that he should be
hindered in his just rights and opinions by this indirect
pressure from a woman, whom he couldn't wrestle with
and floor, as he would a man, because of her sex. That
was always the way with women. No real equality â
no give and take â in spite of all the suffrage talk. Their
weakness was their tyranny. Weakness indeed ! They
were much stronger than men. God help England when
they got the vote ! The Greeks said it â Euripides said
it. But, of course, the Greeks have said everything !
Hecuba to Agamemnon, for instance, when she is
planning the murder of the Thracian King :
' Leave it to me ! â and my Trojan women ! '
And Agamemnon's scoffing reply â poor idiot ! â
' How can women get the better of men ? '
And Hecuba's ghastly low-voiced ' In a crowd we
are terrible ! ' â Seivov to TrXr^^o? â as she and her
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 151
women turn upon the Thracian, put out his eyes, and
tear his children Hmb from Umb.
But one woman might be quite enough to upset a
quiet man's way of Hving ! The moral pressure of it
was so iniquitous ! Your convictions or your life ! It
was the language of a footpad.
To pull down the hurdles, and tamely let in Chick-
sands and his minions â how odious ! To part with
Elizabeth Bremerton and to be reduced again to the old
chaos and helplessness â how still more odious ! As to
the war â so like a woman to suppose that any war was
ever fought with unanimity by any country ! Look at
the Crimea ! â the Boer War ! â the Napoleonic Wars
themselves, if it came to that ! Why was Fox a patriot,
and he a traitor ? Let her answer that !
And aU the time, Elizabeth's light touch upon his
will was like the curb on a stubborn horse. Once as he
passed her table angry curiosity took him to look at
some finished work that was lying there. Perfection !
Intelligence, accuracy, the clearest of scripts ! All his
hints taken â and bettered in the taking. Beside it lay
some slovenly manuscript of Levasseur's. He could
see the comers of Miss Bremerton's mouth go up as she
looked it through. Well, now he was to be left to
Levasseur's tender mercies â after all he had taught
her ! And the accounts, and the estate, and these
infernal rations, that no human being could under-
The Squire's self-pity rose upon him like a flood.
Just at the worst, he heard a knock at the library door.
Before he could say ' Come in,' it was hurriedly opened,
and his two married daughters confronted him â Pamela,
too, behind them.
152 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' Father ! ' cried Mrs. Gaddesden, ' you must please
let us come and speak to you ! '
What on earth was wrong with them ? Alice â for
whom her father had more contempt than affection â
looked merely frightened ; but Margaret's eyes were
angry, and Pamela's reproachful. The Squire braced
himself to endurance.
' What do you want with me ? '
' Father ! â we never thought you meant it seriously !
And now Forest says all the gates are closed, and that
the village is up in arms. The labourers declare that
if the County plough is turned back to-morrow, they'll
break them down themselves. And when we're all
hkely to be starving in six months ! '
' You reaUy can't expect working-folk to stand quietly
by and see such a thing ! ' said Margaret in her intensest
voice. ' Do, father, let me send Forest at once to tell
the gardeners to open aU the gates.'
The Squire defied her to do any such thing. What
was all the silly fuss about ? The County people
could open the gates in half-an-hour if they wanted.
It was a demonstration â a protest â a case to go
to the Courts on. He had principles â if no one else
had. And if they weren't other people's principles,
what did it matter ? He was ready to stand by
them, to go to prison for them. He folded his arms
Pamela laughed excitedly, and shook her head.
' Oh no, father, you won't be a hero â only a
laughing-stock ! That's what Desmond minds so much.
They won't send you to prison. Some tiresome old
Judge wiU give you a talking-to in Court, and you won't
be able to answer him back. And then they'll fine you â
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 153
and we shall be a little more boycotted than we were
before ! That's all that'll happen ! '
' " Boycotted " ? â what do you mean ? ' said the
' Oh, father, can't you feel it ? ' cried Pamela.
' As if one man could pit himself against a nation ! '
said Mrs. Strang, in that manner of controlled emotion
which the Squire detested. He rarely felt emotion, but
when he did, he let it go.
Peremptorily he turned them all out, giving strict
orders that nothing he had done should be interfered
with. Then he attempted to go on with some work of
his own, but he could not bring his mind to bear.
Finally he seized his hat and went out into the park to
see if the populace were really rising. It was a cold
October evening, with a waxing moon, and a wind that
was rapidly bringing the dead leaves to earth. Not a
soul was to be seen ! Only once the Squire thought he
heard the sound of distant guns ; and two aeroplanes
crossed rapidly overhead sailing into the western sky.
Everywhere the war ! â the cursed, cursed obsession
For the first time there was a breach in the Squire's
defences, which for three years he had kept up almost
intact. He had put literature, and art, and the joys
of the connoisseur between himself and the measureless
human ill around him. It had spoilt his personal life,
had interfered with his travels, his diggings, his friend-
ships with foreign scholars. Well, then, as far as he
could he would take no account of it, would shut it
out, and rail at the men and the forces that made it.
He barely looked at the newspapers ; he never touched
a book dealing with the war. It seemed to him a
154 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
triumph of mind and intelligence when he succeeded in
shutting out the hurly-burly altogether. Only, when
in the name of the war his private freedom and
property was interfered with, he had flamed out into
hysterical revolt. Old aristocratic instincts came to
the aid of passionate will, and, perhaps, of an uneasy
And now in the man's vain but not ignoble soul there
stirred a first passing terror of what the war might do
with him, if he were forced to feel it â to let it in. He
saw it as a veiled Presence at the Door â and struggled
with it blindly.
He was just turning back to the house, when he saw a
figure approaching in the distance which he recognised.
It was that of a man, once a farmer of his, and a decent
fellow â oh, that he confessed ! â with whom he had had
a long quarrel over a miserable sum of money, claimed
by the tenant when he left his farm, and disputed by the
The dispute had gone on for two years. The Squire's
law-costs had long since swallowed up the original money
Then Miss Bremerton, to whom the Squire had
dictated some letters in connection with the squabble,
had quietly made a suggestion â had asked leave to
write a letter on approval. For sheer boredom with the
whole business, the Squire had approved and sent the
Then, this very morning, a reply from the farmer.
Grateful astonishment ! ' Of course I am ready to meet
you, sir â I always have been. I will get my solicitor
to put what you propose in your letter of this morning
into shape immediately, and will leave it signed at your
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 155
door to-night. I trust this trouble is now over. It has
been a great grief to me.'
And now there was the man bringing the letter. One
worry done with ! How many more the same patient
hand might have dealt with, if its exacting owner hadn't
thrown up her work â so preposterously !
The Squire gave an angry sigh, slipped out of the
visitor's way through a shrubbery, and returned to his
library. Fires had begun, and the glow of the burning
logs shone through the room. The return to this home
of his chief studies and pursuits during many dehghtful
years was always, at any hour of the day or year, a
moment of pleasure to the Squire. Here was shelter,
here was escape â both from the troubles he had brought
upon himself, and from the world tumult outside, the
work of crazy politicians and incompetent diplomats.
But if there was any season when the long crowded room
was more attractive than at any other, it was in these
autumn evenings when firelight and twilight mingled,
and the natural ' homing ' instinct of the Northerner,
accustomed through long ages to spend long winters
mostly indoors, stirred in his blood.
His books, too, spoke to him ; and the beautiful
dim forms of bronzes and terra-cottas, with all their
suggestions of high poetry and consummate art, breath-
ing from the youth of the world. He understood â
passionately â the jealous and exclusive temper of the
artist. It was his own temper â though he was no
practising artist â and accounted largely for his actions.
What are politics â or social reform â or religion â or
morals â compared to art ? The true artist, it has
been pleaded again and again, has no country. He
foUows Beauty wherever she pitches her tent â ' an
156 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
hourly neighbour.' Woe to the interests that conflict
with this interest ! He simply drives them out of doors,
and turns the key upon them !
This, in fact, was the Squire's defence of himself,
whenever he troubled to defend himself. As to the
pettinesses of a domineering and irritable temper,
cherished through long years, and flying out on the
smallest occasions â the Squire conveniently forgot
them, in those rare moments of self-vision which were
all the gods allowed him. Of course he was master in
his own house and estate â why not ? Of course he
fought those who would interfere with him, war or no
war â why not ?
He sat down to his table, very sorry for himself, and
hotly indignant with an unreasonable woman. The
absence of her figure from the table on the further side
of the room worked upon his nerves. She had promised
at least to stay her month. These were working hours.
What was she doing ? She could hardly be packing
He tried to give his attention to the notes he had