Pamela, suddenly choking, ' you'll tell us at once ? '
' Trust me. He's never out of my mind.'
On that her good-night was less cold than it would
have been five minutes before. But he walked home
through the moonlit streets both puzzled and distressed
ā till he reached his club in Pall Mall, where the news
coming through on the tape quickly drove everything
out of his soldier's mind but the war.
Mrs. Gaddesden was sitting as usual in the hall at
Mannering. A mild February was nearly out. It would
be the first of March on the morrow.
Every moment she expected to hear the Fallerton
taxi draw up at the front door ā ^bringing Elizabeth
Bremerton back to Mannering. She had been away
more than a month. Mrs. Gaddesden went back in
thought to the morning when it had been announced to
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 235
the Squire by his pale and anxious secretary that she had
had bad news of her invaUd mother, and must go home
at once. The Squire ā his daughter could not deny it ā
had behaved abominably. But of all his fume and fret,
his unreasonable complaints and selfish attempts to
make her fix the very day and hour of her return,
EHzabeth had taken no notice. Go she would, at once ;
and she would make no promises as to the exact date
of her return. But on the morning before she went
she had worked superhumanly to put things in order,
whether for her typist, or Captain Dell, or Pamela, who
must at least take over the housekeeping. The relations
between her and Miss Bremerton that morning had
struck Mrs. Gaddesden as odd ā certainly not cordial.
But there was nothing to complain of in Pamela's
conduct. She would do her best, she said, and sat
listening while Elizabeth gave her instructions about
food cards, and servants, and the rest.
Then, when the taxi had driven away with the
Dictator, what temper on the Squire's part ! Mrs.
Gaddesden had very nearly gone home to London ā but
for the fear of raids, and the fact that two of her most
necessary servants had joined the W.A.A.C.'s. Pamela,
on the other hand, had gone singing about the house.
And reaUy the child had done her best. But how
could any one expect her to manage her father and the
house, especially on the scraps of time left her by her
V.A.D. work ? The Squire had been like a fractious
child over the compulsory rations. Nobody was less
of a glutton ā he pecked like a bird ; but the proper
food to peck at must be always there, or his temper was
unbearable. Pamela made various blunders ; the
household knew hunger for the first time ; and the
236 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
servants began to give warning. Captain Dell could
do nothing with his employer, and the timber business
was hung up.
Then came Pamela's outbreak after a tirade from
the Squire bitterly contrasting his lost secretary's per-
formances, in every particular, with those of his daughter.
The child had disappeared, and a message from the
station was all that remained of her. Well, who could
wonder ? Mrs. Gaddesden reflected, with some com-
placency, that even she had spoken her mind to her
father that night, conveniently forgetting some anno5dng
retorts of his about herself, and the custom she had
developed of sitting for hours over the fire pretending
to knit, but really doing nothing. After her enormous
exertions in the cause of the war ā she was accustomed
to say ā of the year before, she was in need of a rest.
She was certainly taking it. Since Pamela left, indeed,
she had been obliged to do the housekeeping, and
considered it very hard work. She had never yet been
able to calculate the food coupons correctly.
So she, like all the rest, was looking eagerly for
Yes ! ā that was the cracked horn of the village taxi.
Mrs. Gaddesden poked the fire with energy and rang
for Forest. But his quick ears had heard the signal
before hers, and he was already hurrying through the
hall to the front door.
And there was the library door opening, so her father
too had been on the watch. Voices in the vestibule,
and as the outer door of the hall opened, the Squire
appeared at the further end. Alice Gaddesden had an
odd feeling that something important ā decisive ā was
going to happen.
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 237
Yet nothing could have been more unassuming than
Elizabeth's entry. It was evident, indeed, that Forest
was overjoyed to see her. He shouldered her modest
boxes and bags with a will, and a housemaid, all smiles,
came running half way downstairs to take some of his
burden from him. Elizabeth followed the butler and
took Mrs. Gaddesden's hand.
' My train was late. I hope you've not waited tea ? '
' Why, of course we have,' said the Squire's voice.
' Forest ! ā tea at once.'
Elizabeth, not having perceived his approach in the
dimness of the February twilight, turned with a start
ta greet the Squire. He looked, to her eyes, lankier,
and thinner and queerer than ever. But it was a dis-
tinguished queerness. Elizabeth had forgotten that the
brow and eyes were so fine, and the hair so glistening
white. The large nose and small captious chin passed
unnoticed. She was astonished at her own throb of
pleasure in seeing her employer again.
His pleasure was boisterously evident, though
presently he showed it in his usual way by attacking
her. But first Mrs. Gaddesden made the proper in-
quiries after Elizabeth's invalid mother.
Elizabeth, looking extremely tired as she sat by the
fire, in the chair which the Squire ā most unwonted
attention ! ā had drawn up for her, said that her mother
was better, and volunteered nothing further. The
Squire, meanwhile, had observed her looks, and was
chafing inwardly against invalid relations who made
unjust claims upon their kith and kin and monstrously
insisted on being nursed by them. But he had the sense
to hold his tongue, and even to profess a decent
238 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Then, without any further preambk, he plunged into
his own affairs.
' Everything's gone to rack and ruin since you
left,' he said vehemently. ' Of course you knew it
would ! '
Ehzabeth's eyebrows lifted. The look, half tolerant,
half amused, with which she greeted sallies of this kind
was one of her attractions for the Squire.
' What's Captain Dell been doing ? ' she inquired.
' Marking time ! ' was the testy reply. ' He's been
no good by himself ā I knew he wouldn't be ā ^no more
use than old Hull.'
Elizabeth's expression showed her sceptical.
' And the timber ? '
' Just where you left it. The rascally fellows want
all sorts of conditions. You may accept them if you
like ā I won't. But I told them we'd meet them in the
woods to-morrow ā you, and Dell and I. And Chick-
sands, who likes poking his nose into everything, is
' Sir Henry ? ' asked Elizabeth in astonishment.
' Well, I thought you might like the old boy's
opinion, so I rang him up on that horrid thing you've
put into the office. I don't care about his opinion in
the least I '
A treat arranged for her return ! EUzabeth felt
as if she were being offered Sir Henry's head on a
' That will be a great help ! ' she said with rather
artificial enthusiasm, at which the Squire only shrugged
his shoulders. ' Has Sir Henry been over here '
' While you've been away ? Nothing of the sort.
He's not crossed the threshold since I turned him out
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 239
six months ago. But he's coming all the same ā as
mild as milk.'
' Very good of him 1 ' said Elizabeth with spirit.
' That's as you choose to look at it. And as to
everything else '
' The catalogue ? '
' Gone to the crows ! ' said the Squire gloomily.
' Levasseur took some references to look out last week,
and made twenty mistakes in as many lines. He's off I '
Elizabeth removed her hat and pressed her hands
to her eyes, half laughing, half aghast. Never had
anything been more welcome to the Squire than the
sheen of her hair in the semi-darkness. Mrs. Gaddesden
had once annoyed him by calling it red.
' And the farms ? '
' Oh, that I leave you to find out. I shovelled all the
letters on to your table, just as Pamela left them.'
' Pamela ! ' said EHzabeth, looking up. ' But where
is she ? '
The Squire held his peace. Mrs. Gaddesden drily
observed that she was staying with Mrs. Strang in town.
A bright colour spread in Elizabeth's cheeks and she
fell silent, staring into the fire.
' Hadn't you better take your things off ? ' said Mrs.
Elizabeth rose. As she passed the Squire, he said
' Of course you're not ready for any Greek before
dinner ? '
She smiled. ' But of course I am. I'll be down
In a few more minutes she was standing alone in her
room. The housemaid, of her own accord, had lit a
240 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
fire, and had gathered some snowdrops for the dressing-
table. EHzabeth's bags had been already unpacked,
and all her small possessions had been arranged just as
she liked them.
'They spoil me,' she thought, half pleased, half
shrinking. ' But why am I here ? Why have I come
back ? And what do I mean to do ? '
These questions ā ' Why did I come back ? ā What am
I going to do ? ' were still ringing through Elizabeth's
mind when, on the evening of her return, she entered
the library to find the Squire eagerly waiting for her.
But the spectacle presented by the room quickly
drove out other matters. She stood aghast at the
disorder which three weeks of the Squire's management
had brought about. Books on the floor and piled on
the chairs ā a dusty confusion of papers everywhere ā
drawers open and untidy ā her reign of law seemed to
have been wiped out.
' Oh, what a dreadful muddle ! '
The Squire looked about him ā abashed.
' Yes, it's awful ā it's all that fellow Levasseur. I
ought to have turned him out sooner. He's the most
helpless, incompetent idiot. But it won't take you very
long to get straight ? I'll do anything you tell me.'
He watched her face appealingly, like a boy in a
scrape. Elizabeth shook her head.
' It '11 take me a full day. But never mind ; we
need not begin to-night.'
' No, we won't begin to-night ! ' said the Squire
emphatically. ' There ! ā I've found a chair for you.
Is that fire as you like it ? '
What astonishing amiability ! The attack of nerves
242 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
which had assailed Elizabeth upstairs began to disappear.
She took the chair the Squire offered her, cleared a small
table, and produced from the despatch-box she had
brought into the room with her a writing-block and a
' Do you want to dictate anything ? '
' Not at all ! ' said the Squire, ' I've got nothing
ready for dictating. The work I have done during your
absence I shall probably tear up.'
' But I thought '
' Well, I daresay ā but can't a man change his mind ?
Greek be hanged ! ' thundered the impatient voice. ' I
want some conversation with you ā if you will aUow me ? '
The last words slipped awkwardly into another note.
It was as though a man should exchange the trombone
for the flute. Elizabeth held her peace ; but her pulse
was beginning to quicken.
' The fact is,' said the Squire, ' I have been thinking
over a good many things ā in the last hour.' Then he
turned upon her abruptly. ' What was that you were
saying to Alice in the hall just now, about moving your
mother into better rooms ? '
Elizabeth's parted lips showed her surprise.
' We do want better rooms for her,' she said hesi-
tatingly, after a moment. ' My sister Joan, who is at
home just now, is looking out. But they are not easy
' Don't look out ! ' said the Squire impetuously. ' I
have a better plan to propose to you. In these horrible
days people must co-operate and combine. I know
many instances of families sharing a house ā and servants.
Beastly, I admit, in the case of a small house. One
runs up against people ā and then one hates them. I
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 243
do ! But in the case of a large house it is different.
Now what do you say to this. Bring your mother here ! '
' Bring ā my mother ā here ? ' repeated EHzabeth
stupidly. ' I don't understand.'
' It's very simple.' The Squire stood over her, his
thumbs in his waistcoat pockets, his eyes aU vivacity.
' This is a big house ā an old barn, if you like, but big
enough. Your mother might have the whole of the east
wing ā which looks south ā if she pleased ; and neither
she nor I need ever come in each other's way, any more
than people who have flats in the same building. I heard
you say she had a nurse. Well, there would be the nurse
ā and another servant perhaps. And the housekeeping
could be in common. Now do consider it. Be reason-
able ! Don't mock at it, because it isn't your own plan,'
said the Squire severely, perceiving the smile, which she
could not repress, spreading over Elizabeth's countenance.
' It's awfully good of you ! ' she began warmly ā
' but '
' But what ? '
Then Elizabeth's smile vanished, and instead he saw
a dimness in the clear blue eyes.
' My poor little mother is too ill ā much too ill,'
she said in a low voice. ' She may live a good while
yet ; but her mind is no longer clear.'
The Squire was checked. This possible aspect of the
case had not occurred to him. But he was not to be
' If you can move her from one house to another,
surely you could move her here ā in an invalid motor ?
It would only take an hour and a half.'
Elizabeth shook her head quietly, but decidedly.
' Thank you, but I am afraid it is impossible. She
244 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
would be troubled ā upset ā no, indeed, it is out of the
question ! '
' Will you ask your doctor ? ' said the Squire
' I know what he would say. Please don't think of
it, Mr. Mannering. It is very, very good of you.'
' It's not the least good,' said the Squire roughly.
' It's sheer, naked self-interest. If you're not at ease
about your mother, you'll be throwing up your work
here again some day, for good, and that'll be death and
damnation ! '
He turned frowning away, and threw himself into a
chair by the fire.
So the murder was out. Elizabeth must needs laugh.
But this clumsy way of showing her that she was in-
dispensable not only touched her feeling, but roused up
the swarm of perplexities which had buzzed around her
ever since her summons to her mother's bedside on the
morning after her scene with Pamela. And again she
asked herself, ' Why did I come back ? And what am
I going to do ? '
She looked in doubt at the fuming gentleman by the
fire, and suddenly conscience bade her be frank.
' I would like to stay here, Mr. Mannering, and go on
with my work. I have told you so before. I will stay
ā as long as I can. But I mustn't burn my boats. I
mustn't stay indefinitely. I have come to see that
would not be fair '
' To whom ? ' cried the Squire, raising himself ā
' to whom ? '
' To Pamela,' said EHzabeth firmly.
' Pamela ! ' The Squire leapt from his seat. ' What
on earth has Pamela got to do with it ! '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 245
' A very great deal. She is the natural head of your
house, and it would be very difficult for me to go on
hving here ā after ā perhaps ā I have just put a few
things straight for you, and catalogued the pots ā without
getting in her way, and infringing her rights ! '
Elizabeth was sitting very erect and bright-eyed.
It seemed to her that some subliminal self for which she
was hardly responsible had suddenly got the better of
a hair-splitting casuistical self, which had lately been
in command of her, and that the subliminal self had
spoken words of truth and soberness.
But instead of storming, the Squire laughed con-
' Pamela's rights ? Well, I'll discuss them when she
remembers her duties ! I remonstrated with her one
morning when the servants were aU giving warning ā
and there was nothing to eat ā and she had made a
hideous mess of some instructions of mine about a letter
to the County Council ā and I pointed out to her that
none of these things would have happened if you had
' Oh, poor Pamela ! ' exclaimed Elizabeth ā ' but
still more, poor me ! '
' " Poor me " ? ' said the Squire. ' What does that
mean ? '
' You see, I have a weakness for being liked ! ' said
Elizabeth after a moment. ' And how can Pamela like
anybody that is being thrown at her head Uke that ? '
She looked at her companion reproachfully. But the
Squire was not to be put down.
' Besides,' he continued, without noticing her interrup-
tion, ' Pamela writes to me this morning that she wants
my consent to her training as an Army nurse.'
246 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' Oh no,' cried Elizabeth ā ' not yet. She is too
young ! '
Her face showed her distress. So she was really
driving this poor child, whom she would so easily have
loved had it been allowed her, out of her home ! No
doubt Pamela had seized on the pretext of her ' row '
with her father to carry out her threat to Elizabeth of
' running away,' and before Elizabeth's return to
Mannering, so that neither the Squire nor any one else
should guess at the real reason. But how could Elizabeth
Yet if she revealed the story of Pamela's attack upon
her to the Squire, what would happen ? Only a widening
of the breach between him and his daughter. EUzabeth,
of course, might depart, but Pamela would be none the
more likely to return to face her father's wrath. And
again for the hundredth time Elizabeth said to herself,
in mingled pain and exasperation ā ' What did she
mean ? ā and what have I ever done that she should
behave so ? '
Then she raised her eyes. Something impelled her ā
as it were a strong telepathic influence. The Squire
was gazing at her. His expression was extraordinarily
animated. It seemed to her that words were already
on his lips, and that at all costs she must stop them
But fortune favoured her. There was a knock at the
library door. The Squire irritably said, ' Come in ! '
and Forest announced, ' Captain DeU.' The Squire,
with some muttered remark, walked across to his own
The agent entered with a beaming countenance. All
that he knew was that the only competent person in a
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 247
rather crazy household had returned to it, and that
business was now hkely to go forward. He had brought
some important letters, and he laid them nominally
before his employer, but really before EHzabeth. He
and she talked ; the Squire smoked and listened,
morosely aloof. Yet by the end of the agent's visit a
grudging but definite consent had been given to the
great timber deal ; and Elizabeth hurried off as Captain
Dell departed ā thankful for the distant sound of the
first bell for dinner.
Sitting up in bed that night, with her hands behind
her head, while a westerly wind blew about the house,
EHzabeth again did her best to examine both her con-
science and her situation.
The summons which had taken her home had been
a peremptory one. Her mother, who had been ill for
a good many months, had suddenly suffered some brain
injury, which had reduced her to a childish helplessness.
She did not recognise EHzabeth, and though she was
very soon out of physical danger, the mental disaster
remained. A good nurse was now more to her than the
daughter to whom she had been devoted. A good nurse
was in charge, and EHzabeth had persuaded an elderly
cousin, living on a smaU annuity, to come and share
her mother's rooms. Now what was more necessary
than ever was ā money 1 EHzabeth's salary was in-
Was she to aUow fine feeHngs about Pamela to drive
her out of her post and her earnings ā to the jeopardy
not only of her mother's comfort, but of the good ā the
national ā work open to her at Mannering ?
But there was a much more agitating question
248 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
behind. She had only trifled with it till now. But on
the night of her return it pressed. And as a reasonable
woman, thirty years of age, she proceeded to look it
in the face.
When Captain Dell so opportunely ā or inconveniently
ā knocked at the library door, Mr. Mannering was on
the point of asking his secretary to marry him. Of that
Elizabeth was sure.
She had just escaped, but the siege would be renewed.
How was she going to meet it ?
Why shouldn't she marry the Squire ? She was poor,
but she had qualities much more valuable to the Squire
than money. She could rescue him from debt, put his
estate on a paying footing, restore Mannering, rebuild
the village, and all the time keep him happy by her
sympathy with and understanding of his classical studies
And thereby she would be doing not only a private
but a public service. The Mannering estate and its
owner had been an offence to the patriotism of a whole
neighbourhood. Ehzabeth could and would put an end
to that. She had already done much to modify it.
In her Greek scholarship, and her ready wits, she
possessed all the spells that were wanted for the taming
of the Squire.
As to the Squire himself ? She examined the matter
dispassionately. He was fifty-two ā sound in wind and
limb ā a gentleman in spite of all his oddities and tempers
ā and one of the best Greek scholars of his day. She
could make her own terms. ' I would take his name ā
give him my time, my brains, my friendship ā in time,
no doubt, my affection.' He would not ask for more.
The modern woman, no longer young, an intellectual,
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 249
with a man's work to do, can make of marriage what she
pleases. The possibihties of the relations between men
and women in the future are many, and the psychology
of them unexplored. Elizabeth was beginning to think
her own case out, when, suddenly, she felt the tears
running over her cheeks.
She was back in past days. Mannering had vanished.
Oh ā for love ! ā for youth ! ā for the broken faith and
the wounded trust ! ā for the first fresh wine of life that,
once dashed from the lips, the gods offer no more ! She
found herself sobbing helplessly, not for her actual lost
lover, who had passed out of her hfe, but for those
beautiful ghosts at whose skirts she seemed to be clutch-
ing ā youth itself, love itself.
Had she done with them for good and all ? That
was what marrying the Squire meant.
A business marriage ā on her side, for an income,
a home, a career ; on his, for a companion, a secretary,
an agent. Well, she said to herself as she calmed
down, that she could face ; but supposing, after all,
that the Squire was putting more into the scales than
she ? A sudden fear grew strong in her ā fear lest this
man should have more heart, more romance in him, than
she had imagined possible ā that while she was thinking
of a business partnership, the Squire was expecting, was
about to offer, something quite different.
The thought scared and repelled her. If that were
indeed the case, she would bid Mannering a long and
But no ! ā she reassured herself ; she recalled the
Squire's passionate absorption in his archaeological
pursuits ; how his dependence upon her, his gratitude to
her, his surprising fits of docility, were all due to the
250 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
fact that she helped him to pursue them ā that his mind
sharpened itself against hers ā that her hand and brain
were the slaves of his restless intelligence.
That was all ā that must, that should be all. She
thought vigorously of the intellectual comradeships of
history ā beginning with Michael Angelo and Vittoria
Colonna. They were not certainly quite on all fours
with her own situation ā but give modern life and the
new woman time !
Suppose, then, these anxieties set at rest, and that
immediately, within twenty-four hours, or a week, the
Squire were to ask her to marry him, and were ready to
understand the matter as she did ā what else stood in
the way ?
Then, slowly, in the darkness of the room, there rose
before her the young figures of the twins, with their
arms round each other's necks, as she had often seen
them ā Desmond and Pamela. And they looked at her
with hostile eyes !
' Cuckoo ! ā intriguer ! ā we don't want you ! ā we
won't accept you ! '
But after all, as Elizabeth reflected not without
a natural exasperation, she was not ā consciously ā a
cuckoo ; she was not an intriguer ; there was nothing
of the Becky Sharp about her at all ; it would have
been so very much simpler if there had been ! To
swallow the Squire and Mannering at one gulp, to turn