not that Henry is really a sensible man. Well, now,
then â I want to ask you this. Don't these facts point
to a rather â remarkable â combination ? You assist me
in the job that I was born for. I have been fortunate
enough to be able to put into your hands the job that
you apparently were bom for. And you will forgive me
lor saying that it might have been difficult for you to
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 267
find it without my aid. Nature â that is â seems to have
endowed you not only with a remarkable head for Greek,
but also with the capacity for dealing with the kind of
people who drive me distracted â agents and timber-
merchants, and stuck-up county officials, whom I want
to slay. And you combine your job with an idealism â
just as I do mine. You say " it's for the country " or
" for the army," as you did just now. And I scribble
and collect â for art's sake â for beauty's sake â for the
honour of human genius â what you like ! What then
could be more reasonable â more natural ' â the Squire
drew himself up gravely â ' than that you and I should
join forces â permanently ? That I should serve your
ideas â and you should serve mine ? '
The Squire broke off, observing her. Elizabeth had
listened to this extraordinary speech with growing
bewilderment. She had dreaded lest the Squire â in
proposing to marry her â should make love to her. But
the coolness of the bargain actually suggested to her,
the apparent absence from it of any touch of sentiment,
took her completely aback. She was asked, in fact, to
become his slave â his bailiff and secretary for life â and
the price was offered.
Her face spoke for her, before she could express her
feeling in words. The Squire, watching her, hurriedly
' I put it Uke an idiot ! What I meant was this. If
I could induce you to marry me â and put up with me â I
believe both our lives might be much more interesting
and agreeable ! '
The intensity of the demand expressed in his pale
hazel eyes and frowning brow struck full upon her.
But Elizabeth slowly shook her head.
268 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' I am very grateful to you, Mr. Mannering, but ' â
a rather ironical smile showed itself â ' I think you hardly
understand me. We should never get on.'
' Why ? '
' Because our temperaments â our characters â are so
' You can't forgive me about the war ? '
' Well, that hurts me,' she said, after a moment,
' but I leave that to Mr. Desmond. No ! I am thinking
of myself and you. What you propose does not attract
me at all. Marriage â in my view â wants something â
deeper â to build on than you suggest.'
' Inconsistent woman ! ' cried the inner voice, but
Elizabeth silenced it. She was not inconsistent. She
would have resented love-making, but feeling â some-
thing to gild the chain ! â that she had certainly expected.
The absence of it humiliated her.
The Squire's countenance fell.
' Deeper ? ' he said, with a puzzled look. ' I wonder
what you mean ? I haven't anything " deeper." There
isn't anything " deep " about me.'
Was it true ? Elizabeth suddenly recalled those
midnight steps on the night of Desmond's departure.
' You know,' he resumed, ' for you have worked with
me now for six months â you know at least what kind
of a man I am. I assure you it's at any rate no worse
than that ! And if I ever annoyed you too much,
why, you could always keep me in order â by the mere
threat of going away ! I could have cut my throat
any day with pleasure during those weeks you were
absent ! '
Again Elizabeth hid her face in her hands and
laughed â rather hysterically. There was something in
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 269
this last appeal that touched her â some note of ' the
imperishable child,' which indeed she had always
recognised in the Squire's strange personality.
The Squire waited â frowning. When she looked up
at last she spoke in her natural friendly voice.
' I don't think, Mr. Mannering, we had better go
on talking like this. I can't accept what you offer
'Again I can't think why,' he interrupted vehemently;
' you have given me no sort of explanation. Why must
you refuse ? '
' Because I don't feel like it,' she said, smiling. ' That's
all I need say. Please don't think me ungrateful.
You've offered me now a position and a home â and
you've given me my head all this time. I shall never
forget it. But I'm afraid '
' That now I've made such an ass of myself you'll
have to go ? '
She thought a moment.
' I don't know that I need say that â if â I could be
' Of what ? Name your conditions ! '
His face suddenly lightened again. And again a
quick compunction struck her.
She looked at him gently.
' It's only â that I couldn't stay here â you will see
of course that I couldn't â unless I were quite sure that
this was dead and buried between us â that you would
forget it entirely â and let me forget it ! '
Was it fancy, or did the long Don Quixotish counte-
nance quiver a little ?
' Very well. I will never speak of it again. Will
that do ? ' There was a long pause. The Squire's stick
270 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
attacked a root of primroses closely, prised it out of
the damp ground, and left it there. Then he turned to
his companion with a changed aspect. ' Well, now,
then â we are as we were â and ' â with a long half-
indignant breath â ' remember I have signed that
contract ! '
He rose from his seat as he spoke.
They walked home together through the great wood,
and across the park. They were mostly silent. The
Squire's words ' we are as we were ' echoed in the
ears of both. And yet both were secretly aware that
something irrevocable had happened.
Then, suddenly, beating down all the personal trouble
and disquiet in Elizabeth's mind, there rushed upon her
afresh, as she walked beside the Squire, that which
seemed to shame all personal feeling â the renewed
consciousness of England's death - grapple with her
enemy â the horror of its approaching crisis. And this
strange being at her elbow was still deaf and blind to it !
They parted in the hall.
' Shall I expect you at six ? ' said the Squire formally.
' I have some geographical notes I should like you to
She assented. He went to his study, and shut himself
in. For a long time he paced up and down, flinging
himself finally into a chair in front of Desmond's
portrait. There his thoughts took shape.
' Well, my boy, I thought I'd won some trenches â
but the counter-attack has swept me out. Where are
you ? Are you still alive ? If not, I shan't be long
after you. I'm getting old, my boy â and this world,
as the devil has made it, is not meant for me.'
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 271
He remained there for some time, his hands on his
knees, staring into the bright face of his son.
EHzabeth too went to her room. On her table lay
the Times. She took it up and read the telegrams again.
Raid and counter-raid all along the front â and in every
letter and telegram the shudder of the nearing event,
ghastly hints of that incredible battlefield to come, that
hideous hurricane of death in which Europe was to see
once more her noblest and her youngest perish.
' Oh, why, why am I a woman ? ' she clasped her hands
above her head in a passion of revolt. ' What does one's
own Ufe matter ? Why waste a thought â an hour
upon it ! '
In a second she was at her table putting together the
notes she had made that morning in the wood. About
a hundred and fifty more ash marked in that wood
alone ! â thanks to Sir Henry. She rang up Captain
Dell, and made sure that they would be offered that
night direct to the Government timber department â
the Squire's ash, for greater haste, having been now
expressly exempted from the general contract. Canadians
were coming down to fell them at once. They must be
housed. One of the vacant farms, not yet let, was to
be got ready for them. She made preliminary arrange-
ments by telephone. Then, after a hasty lunch, at
which the Squire did not appear, and Mrs. Gaddesden was
more than usually languid and selfish, Elizabeth rushed
off to the village on her bicycle. The hospital Com-
mandant was waiting for her, with such workpeople
as could be found, and the preparation of the empty
house for fifty more beds was well begun. Elizabeth
was frugal, but resolute, with the Squire's money. She
had leave to spend. But she would not abuse her
272 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
power ; and all through her work she was conscious of
a queer remorseful gratitude towards the man in whose
name she was acting.
Then she bicycled to the School, where a group of
girls whom she had captured for the land were waiting
to see her. Their uniforms were lying ready on one of
the schoolroom tables. She helped the girls to put them
on, laughing, chatting, admiring â ready besides with a
dozen homely hints on how to keep well â how to fend
for themselves, perhaps in a lonely cottage â how to get
on with the farmer â above all, how to get on with the
farmer's wife. Her sympathy made everything worth
while â put colour and pleasure into this new and strange
adventure, of women going out to break up and plough
and sow the ancient land of our fathers, which the
fighting men had handed over to them. Elizabeth
decked the task with honour, so that the girls in their
khaki stood round her at last glowing, though dumb ! â
and felt themselves â as she bade them feel â the com-
rades-in-arms of their sweethearts and their brothers.
Then with the March twilight she was again at
Mannering. She changed her bicycling dress, and six
o'clock found her at her desk, obediently writing from
the Squire's dictation.
He put her through a stiff series of geographical notes,
including a number of quotations from Homer and
Herodotus, bearing on the spread of Greek culture in
the Aegean. During the course of them he broke out
once or twice into his characteristic sajdngs and illustra-
tions, racy or poetic as usual, and Elizabeth would lift
her blue eyes, with the responsive look in them, on which
he had begun to think all his real power of work depended.
But not a word passed between them on any other
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 273
subject ; and when it was over she rose, said a quiet
good-night, and went away. After she had gone, the
Squire sat over the fire, brooding and motionless, for
most of the evening.
One March afternoon, a few days later, the following
letter reached Pamela, who was still with her sister. It
was addressed in Desmond Mannering's large and boyish
' B.E.F., March.
' My dear Pamela â I am kicking my heels here at
an engineer's store, waiting for an engineer officer who
is wanted to plan some new dug-outs for our battery,
and as there is no one to talk to inside except the most
inarticulate Hielander I ever struck, I shall at last make
use of one of your little oddments, my dear, which are
mostly too good to use out here â and wiite you a letter
on a brand new pocket-pad, with a brand new stylo.
' I expect you know from Arthur about where we are.
It's a pretty nasty bit of the line. The snipers here are
the cleverest beasts out. There isn't a night they don't
get some of us, though our fellows are as sharp as needles
too. I went over a sniping school last week with a jolly
fellow who used to hunt lions in Africa. My hat ! â we
have learnt a thing or two from the Huns since we
started. But you have to keep a steady look-out, I can
tell you. There was a man here last night in a sniper's
post, shooting through a trench loophole, you under-
stand, which had an iron panel. Well, he actually went
to sleep with his rifle in his hand, having had a dog's
life for two or three nights. But, for a mercy, he had
pulled down his panel â didn't know he had ! â and the
next thing he knew was a bullet spattering on it â just
274 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
where his eye should have been. He was jolly quick in
backing out and into a dug-out, and an hour later he
got the man.
' But there was an awful thing here last night. An
officer was directing one of our snipers â stooping down
just behind him, when a Hun got him â right in the eyes.
I was down at the dressing-station visiting one of our
men who had been knocked over â and I saw him led in.
He was quite blind, â and as calm as anything â telling
people what to do, and dictating a post card to the padre,
who was much more cut up than he was. I can tell you,
Pamela, our Army is fine ! Well, thank God, I'm in it
â and not a year too late. That's what I keep saying
to myself. And the great show can't be far off now.
I wouldn't miss it for anything, so I don't give the Hun
any more chances of knocking me over than I can
' You always want to know what things look like, old
Pam, so I'll try and tell you. In the first place, it's
just a glorious spring day. At the back of the cranky
bit of a ruined farm where we have our diggings (by
the way, you may always go back at night and find half
your bedroom shot away â that happened to me the
other night â there was a tunic of mine still hanging on
the door, and when you opened the door, nothing but
a hole ten feet deep full of rubble â jolly luck, it didn't
happen at night-time !) there are actually some lilac
trees, and the buds on them are quite big. And somehow
or other the birds manage to sing in spite of the hell the
Huns have made of things.
' I'm looking out now due east. There's a tangled
mass of trenches not far off, where there's been some
hot raiding lately. I see an engineer officer with a
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 275
fatigue party working away at them â he's showing the
men how to lay down a new trench with tapes and pegs.
Just to my left some men are filling up a crater. Then
there's a lorry full of bits of an old corduroy road they're
going to lay down somewhere over a marshy place.
There are two sausage balloons sitting up aloft, and some
aeroplanes coming and going. Our front line is not more
than a mile away, and the German line is about a mile
and a quarter. Far off to my right I can just see a field
with tanks in it. Ah â there goes a shell on the Hun
line â another ! Can't think why we're tuning up at
this time of day. We shall be getting some of their
heavy stuff over directly, if we don't look out. It's
' And the sun is shining like blazes on it all. As I
came up I saw some of our men resting on the grass by
the wayside. They were going up to the trenches â but
it was too early â the sun was too high â they don't send
them in till dusk. Awfully good fellows they looked !
And I passed a company of Bantams, little Welsh chaps,
as fit as mustard. Also a poor mad woman, with a
basket of cakes and chocolate. She used to live in the
village where I'm sitting now â on a few bricks of it, I
mean. Then her farm was shelled to bits and her old
husband and her daughter killed. And nothing will
persuade her to go. Our people have moved her away
several times â but she always comes back â and now
they let her alone. Our soldiers indeed are awfully good
to her, and she looks after the graves in the little cemetery.
But when you speak to her, she never seems to under-
stand, and her eyes â well, they haunt one.
' I'm beginning to get quite used to the lifeâ and
lately I have been doing some observation work with an
276 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
F.0.0. (that means Forward Observation Officer), which
is awfully exciting. Your business on these occasions is
to get as close to the Germans as you can, without being
seen, and you take a telephonist with you to send back
word to the guns, and, by Jove, we do get close some-
' Well, dear old Pam, there's my engineer coming
across the fields, and I must shut up. Mind â if I don't
come back to you â you're just to think, as I told you
before, that it's all right. Nothing matters â nothing â
but seeing this thing through. Any day we may be in
the thick of such a fight as I suppose was never seen
in the world before. Or any night â hard luck ! one
may be killed in a beastly little raid that nobody will
ever hear of again. But anyway it's all one. It's
' Your letters don't sound to me as though you were
particularly enjoying life. Why don't you ever give me
news of Arthur ? He writes me awfully jolly letters,
and always says something nice about you. Father has
written to me three times â decent, I call it, â though he
always abuses Lloyd George, and generally puts some
Greek in I can't read. I wonder if we were quite right
about Broomie ? You never say anything about her
either. But I got a letter from Beryl the other day, and
what Miss B. seems to be doing with Father and the
estate is pretty marvellous.
' All the same I don't hear any gossip as to what you
and I were afraid of. I wonder if I was a brute to answer
her as I did â and after her nice letter to me ? Anyway,
it's no wonder she doesn't write to me any more. And
she did tell me such a lot of news.
' Good-bye. Your writing-pad is really ripping.
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 277
Likewise pen. Hullo, there go some more shells. I
really must get back and see what's up. â Your loving,
Meanwhile in the seething world of London, where
the war-effort of an Empire was gathered up into one
mighty organism, the hush of expectancy grew ever
deeper. Only a few weeks or days could now divide
us from the German rush on Paris and the coast. Behind
the German Unes all was movement and vast prepara-
tion. Any day England might rise to find the last
Yet morning after morning all the news that came
was of raids, endless raids, on both sides â a perpetual
mosquito fight, buzzing now here, now there, as in-
formation was wanted by the different Commands.
Many lives were lost day by day, many deeds of battle
done. But it all seemed as nothing â less than nothing â
to those whose minds were fixed on the clash to come.
Then one evening, early in the second week in March,
a telegram reached Aubrey Mannering at Aldershot.
He rushed up to town, and went first to the War Office,
where Chicksands was at work.
Chicksands sprang up to meet him.
' You've heard ? I've just got this. I made his
Colonel promise to wire me if '
He pointed to an open telegram on his table :
' Desmond badly hit in raid last night. Tell his
people. Authorities will probably give permission to
come. Well looked after,'
The two men looked at each other.
' I have wired to my father,' said Mannering, ' and
278 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
am now going to meet him at King's Cross. Can you
go and tell Pamela to get ready â or Margaret ? But
he'll want Pamela 1 '
Neither was able to speak for a moment, till Mannering
said, ' I'll bring my father to Margaret's, and then
I'll go and see after the permits.'
He lingered a moment.
' I â I think it means the worst.'
Chicksands' gesture was one of despair.
Then they hurried away from the War Office together.
It was afternoon at Mannering.
Elizabeth was walking home from the village through
the park. Still the same dry east-wind weather â very
cold in the wind, very warm in the sun. If the German
offensive began while these fine days held, they would
have the luck of weather as we had never had it. Think
of the drenching rains and winds of the Passchendaele
attack ! In the popular mind the notion of ' a German
God ' was taking actual concrete shape. A huge and
monstrous form, sitting on a German hill, plotting with
the Kaiser, and ordering the weather precisely as the
Kaiser wished â it was thus that Enghsh superstition,
aided by Imperial speeches and telegrams, began to be
Yet the world was still beautiful â the silvery stems
of the trees, the flitting of the birds, the violet carpets
underfoot. On the fighting line itself there was probably
a new crop of poets, hymning the Spring with Death for
listener, as JuUan Grenfell and Rupert Brooke had
hymned it, in that first year of the war that seems now
an eternity behind us.
Moving along a path converging on her own, Elizabeth
perceived the Squire. For the first time that morning
he had put off their joint session; and she had not seen
him all day. Her mind was now always uneasily aware
28o THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
of him â aware, too, of some change in him, for which
in some painful way she felt herself responsible. He had
grown strangely tame and placable, and it was generally
noticed that he looked older. Yet he was more absorbed
than ever in the details of Greek research and the labour
of his catalogue. Only, of an evening, he read the
Times for a couple of hours, generally in complete
silence, while Elizabeth and Mrs. Gaddesden talked and
An extraordinary softness â an extraordinary com-
passion â was steadily invading Ehzabeth's mind in
regard to him. Something suggested to her that he
had come into life maimed of some essential element of
being, possessed by his feUow-men, and that he was now
conscious of the lack, as a Greek Faun might be conscious
of the difference between his hfe and that of struggling
and suffering men. Nothing, indeed, could less suggest
the bhthe nature-Ufe which Greek imagination embodied
in the Faun, than the bizarre and restless aspect of the
Squire. This spare white-haired man, with his tempers
and irritations, was far indeed from Greek joyousness.
And yet the Greek sense of beauty, half intellectual,
half sensuous, had always seemed to her the strongest
force in him. Was it now besieged by something else ? â
was the Faun in him, at last, after these three years,
beginning to feel the bitter grip of humanity ?
' " Deeper " ? I don't know what you mean. There
is nothing " deep " in me ! ' She often recalled that
saying of his, and the look of perplexity which had
To herself of late he had been always courteous
and indulgent ; she had hardly had an uncivil word
from him ! But it seemed to her that he had also
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 281
begun to avoid her, and the suspicion hurt her amaz-
ingly. If indeed it were true, then leave Mannering she
He came up with her at a cross-road, and threw her
a look of enquiry.
' You have been to the village ? '
' To the hospital. Thirty fresh wounded arrived last
' I have just seen Chicksands,' said the Squire abruptly.
* Arthur tells him the German attack must be launched
in a week or two, and may come any day. A million
men, probably, thrown against us.'
' So â the next few months wiU decide,' said EUzabeth,
' My God ! â why did we ever go into this war ? '
cried the man beside her suddenly, in a low, stifled
voice. She glanced at him in astonishment. The new
excuses, the new tenderness for him in her heart made
* It was for honour,' she breathed â ' for freedom ! '
' Words â ^just words. They don't stop bombs ! '
But there was nothing truculent in the tone.
' You had a line from Mr. Desmond this morning ? '
' Yes â a post card. He was all right.'
Silence dropped between them. They walked on
through the beautiful wooded park. Carpets of prim-
roses ran beside them, and masses of wild cherry blossoms
were beginning to show amid the beeches. EUzabeth
was vaguely conscious of beauty, of warm air, of heavenly
sun. But the veil upon the face of all nations was upon
her eyes also.
When they reached the house, the Squire said,
' I looked up the passage in the Persae that
282 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
occurred to me yesterday. Will you come and take
it down ? '
They went into the library together. On a special
table in front of the Squire's desk there stood a magnifi-
cent Greek vase of the early fifth century B.C. A king
â Persian, from his dress â was sitting in a chair of state,
and before him stood a small man apparently delivering
a message. "A77e\o9 was roughly written over his head.
The Squire walked up and down with a text of the
Persae in his hand.
' " This vase," he dictated, " may be compared with
one signed by Xenophantos, in the Paris collection, the
subject of which is the Persian king, hunting. Here
we have a Persian king, identified by his dress, apparently
receiving a message from his army. We may illustrate
it by the passage in the Persae of Aeschylus, where Atossa
receives from a messenger the account of the battle of
Salamis â a passage which contains the famous lines
describing the Greek onslaught on the Persian fleet :