find that kind of thing enough — a great many of them.
I mean to find it enough. A fig for marrying ! '
All the same, as she returned to her schemes both
for regenerating the estate and managing the Squire —
schemes which were beginning to fascinate her, both by
their difficulty and their scale — she found her thoughts
oddly interfered with, first by recollections of the past
— bitter, ineffaceable memories — and then by reflec-
tions on the recent course of her relations with the
He had greeted her that morning without a single
112 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
reference to the incidents of the night before, had seemed
in excellent spirits, and before going up to town had
given her in twenty minutes, a propos of some difficulty
in her work, one of the most brilliant lectures on certain
points of Homeric archaeology she had ever heard — and
she was a connoisseur in lectures.
Intellectually, as a scholar, she both admired and
looked up to him — with reverence, even with enthusiasm.
She was eager for his praise, distressed by his censure.
Practically and morally, patriotically, above all, she
despised him, thought him ' a worm and no man ' !
There was the paradox of the situation ; and as full
of tingling challenge and entertainment as paradoxes
At this point she became aware of a group on the
high road far to her right. A pony-cart — a girl driving
it — a man in khaki beside her ; with a second girl-figure,
and another khaki-clad warrior, walking near.
She presently thought she recognised Pamela's pony
and Pamela herself. Desmond, who was going off that
very evening to his artillery camp, had told her that
' Pam ' was driving Aubrey over to Chetworth, and that
he, Desmond, was ' jolly well going to see to it that
neither old Aubrey nor Beryl were bullied out of their
lives by father,' if he could help it. So no doubt the
second girl-figure was that of Beryl Chicksands, and the
other gentleman in khaki was probably Captain Chick-
sands, for whom Desmond seemed to cherish a boyish
hero-worship. They had been all lunching together at
Chetworth, she supposed.
She watched them coming, with a curious mingling
of interest in them and detachment from them. She
was to them merely the Squire's paid secretary. Were
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 113
they anything to her ? A puckish thought crossed her
mind, sending a flash of shghtly cynical laughter through
her quiet eyes. If Mrs. Gaddesden's terrors — for she
supposed they were terrors — ^were suddenly translated
into fact, why, all these people would become in a
moment related to her ! — their lives would be mixed up
with hers — she and they would matter intimately to
each other !
She sat smiling and dreaming a few more minutes,
the dimples playing about her firm mouth and chin.
Then, as the sound of wheels drew nearer, she rose and
went towards the party.
The party from Chetworth soon perceived Elizabeth's
approach. ' So this is the learned lady ? ' said the
Captain in Pamela's ear. She had brought him in her
pony-carriage so far, as he was not yet able for much
physical exertion, and he and Beryl were to walk back
from Holme Wood Hill.
He put up his eye-glass, and examined the figure as
it came nearer.
' She's just come up, I suppose, from the farm,' said
Pamela, pointing to some red roofs among the trees, in
the wide hollow below the hill.
' " Athene Ageleie " ! ' murmured the Major, who
had been proxime for the Ireland, and a Balliol man.
' She holds herself well — ^beautiful hair ! '
' Beryl, this is Miss Bremerton,' said Aubrey Manner-
ing, with a cordial ring in his voice, as he introduced
his iiancee to Elizabeth. The two shook hands, and
Ehzabeth thought the girl's manner a little stand-off,
and wondered why.
The pony had soon been tied up, and the party spread
114 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
themselves on the grass of the hill-side ; for Holme
Wood Hill was a famous point of view, and the sunny
peace of the afternoon invited loitering. For miles to
the eastward spread an undulating chalk plain, its pale
grey or purplish soil showing in the arable fields where
the stubbles were just in process of ploughing, its mono-
tony broken by a vast wood of oak and beech into which
the hill-side ran down — a wood of historic fame, which
had been there when Senlac was fought, had furnished
ship -timber for the Armada, and sheltered many a
cavalier fugitive of the Civil Wars.
The wood indeed, which belonged to the Squire, was
a fragment of things primeval. For generations the
trees in it had sprung up, flourished, and fallen as they
pleased. There were corners of it where the north-west
wind sweeping over the bare down above it had made
pathways of death and ruin ; sinister places where the
fallen or broken trunks of the great beech trees, as they
had crashed down-hill upon and against each other, had
assumed all sorts of grotesque and phantasmal attitudes,
as in a trampled melee of giants ; there were other parts
where slender, plumed trees, rising branchless to a great
height above open spaces, took the shape from a distance
of Italian stone palms, and gave a touch of southern
or romantic grace to the English midland scene ; while
at their feet, the tops of the more crowded sections of the
wood lay in close, billowy masses of leaf, the oaks vividly
green, the beeches already aflame.
' Who says there's a war ? ' said Captain Chicksands,
sinking luxuriously into a sunny bed of dry leaves, con-
veniently placed in front of Elizabeth. ' Miss Bremerton,
you and I were, I understand, at the same University ? '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 115
' Is it your opinion that Universities are any good ? —
that after the war there are going to be any Universities ? '
' Only those that please the Labour Part}' ! ' put in
' Oh, I'm not afraid of the Labour Party — awfully
good fellows, many of them. The sooner they make
a Government the better. They've got to learn their
lesson like the rest of us. But I do want to know
whether Miss Bremerton thinks Oxford was any use —
before the war — and is going to be any use after the war ?
It's all right now, of course, for the moment, with the
Colleges full of cadets and wounded men. But would
you put the old Oxford back if you could ? '
He lay on his elbows looking up at her. Ehzabeth's
eyes sparkled a little. She realised that an able man
was experimenting on her, putting her through her paces.
She asked what he meant by ' the old Oxford,' and an
amusing dialogue sprang up between them as to their
respective recollections of the great University — the
dons, the lectures, the games, the Eights, ' Commem.'
and the like. The Captain presently declared that
Ehzabeth had had a much nicer Oxford than he, and
he wished he had been a female student.
' Didn't you — didn't you,' he said, his keen eyes
observing her, ' get a prize once that somebody had
given to the Women's Colleges for some Greek iambics ? '
' Oh,' cried Elizabeth, ' how did you hear of that ? '
* I was rather a dab at them myself,' he said lazily,
drawing his hat over his eyes as he lay in the sun, ' and
I perfectly remember hearing of a young lady — yes,
I believe it was you ! — whose translation of Browning's
" Lost Leader " into Greek iambics was better than
mine. They set it in the Ireland. You admit it ?
ii6 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Capital ! As to the superiority of yours, I was, of
course, entirely sceptical, though polite. Remind me,
how did you translate " Just for a ribbon to put on his
coat " ? '
With a laughing mouth, Elizabeth at once quoted
The Captain made a wry face.
' It sounds plausible, I agree,' he said slowly, ' but
I don't believe a Greek would have understood a word
of it. You remember that in the dim Victorian ages,
when one great Latin scholar gave, as he thought, the
neatest possible translation of " The path of glory leads
but to the grave," another great Latin scholar de-
clared that all a Roman could have understood by it
would have been " The path of a pubhc office leads to
the jaws of the hiUock " ? '
The old Oxford joke was new in the ears of this
Georgian generation, and when the laugh subsided,
Elizabeth said mildly :
' Now, please, may I have yours ? '
' What — my translation ? Oh — horribly unfair ! '
said the Captain, chewing a piece of grass. ' However,
here it is ! '
He gave it out — with unction.
Elizabeth fell upon it in a flash, dissected and
quarrelled with every word of it, turned it inside out in
fact, while the Captain, stiU chewing, followed her with
eyes of growing enjoyment.
' WeU, rU take a vote when I get back to the front,'
he said, when she came to an end. ' Several firsts in
Mods on our staff. I'U send you the result.'
The talk dropped. The mention of the front re-
minded every one of the war, and its bearing on their
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 117
own personal lot. Desmond was going into camp that
evening. In a few months he would be a fuU-blown
gunner at the front. Beryl, watching Aubrey's thin
face and nervous frown, prayed inwardly that the
Aldershot appointment might go on. And Elizabeth's
thoughts had flown to her brother in Mesopotamia.
Pamela, sitting apart, and deeply shaded by a great
beech with drooping branches that rose behind the
group, was sharply unhappy, and filled with a burning
jealousy of Elizabeth, who queened it there in the
middle of them — so self-possessed, agreeable, and com-
petent. How weU Arthur had been getting on with
her ! What a tiresome, tactless idiot she, Pamela,
must seem in comparison ! The memory of her talk
with him made her cheeks hot. So few chances of
seeing him ! — and when they came, she threw them
away. She felt for the moment as though she hated
Elizabeth. Why had her father saddled her upon
them ? Life was difficult enough before. Passion-
ately she began to think of her threat to Arthur. It
had been the merest ' idle word.' But why shouldn't
she realise it — why not ' run away ' ? There was work
to be done, and money to be earned, by any able-
bodied girl. And perhaps then, when she was on her
own, and had proved that she was not a child any
longer, Arthur would respect her more, take more
interest in her.
' What do you prophesy ? ' said Ehzabeth suddenly,
addressing Arthur Chicksands, who seemed to be asleep
in the grass. ' Will it end — by next summer ? '
' What, the war ? ' he said, waking up. ' Oh dear,
no. Next year wiU be the worst of any — the test
of us all — especially of you civilians at home. If we
ii8 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
stick it, we shall save ourselves and the world. If we
He shrugged his shoulders. His voice was full and
deep. It thrilled the girl sitting in the shade — partly
with fear. In three weeks or so, the speaker would be
back in the full inferno of the front, and because of her
father's behaviour she would probably not be able to
see him in the interval. Perhaps she might never see
him again. Perhaps this was the last time. And he
would go away without giving her a thought. Whereas,
if she had played her cards differently, this one last day,
he might at least have asked her to write to him. Many
men did — even with girls they hardly knew at all.
Just then she noticed a movement of Beryl's, and
saw her friend's small bare hand creep out and slip
itself into Aubrey Mannering's, as he sat beside her on
the grass. The man's hand enfolded the girl's — he
turned round to smile at her in silence. A pang of
passionate envy swept through Pamela. It was just
so she wished to be enfolded — to be loved.
It was Elizabeth — as the person who had business
to do and hours to keep — who gave the signal for the
break-up of the party. She sprang to her feet, with a
light, decided movement, and all the others fell into line.
Arthur and Beryl still accompanied the Mannering con-
tingent a short distance, the Captain walking beside
Elizabeth in animated conversation. At last Beryl
peremptorily recalled him to the pony-carriage, and the
group halted for good-byes.
Pamela stood rather stiffly apart. The Captain went
up to her.
' Good-bye, Pamela. Do write to me sometimes ! I
shall be awfully interested about the farms ! '
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 119
With vexation she felt the colour rush to her cheeks.
* I shan't have much to say about them,' she said
' I'm sure you will ! You'll get keen ! But write
about anything. It's awfully jolly to get letters at the
front ! '
His friendly, interrogating eyes were on her, as though
she puzzled him in this new phase, and he wanted to
understand her. She said hurriedly, ' If you like,'
hating herself for the coolness in her voice, and shook
hands, only to hear him say, as he turned finally to
Elizabeth, ' Mind, you have promised me " The Battle
of the Plough " ! I'm afraid you'll hardly have time to
put it into iambics ! '
So he had asked Miss Bremerton to write to him too !
Pamela vowed inwardly that in that case she would not
write him a line. And it seemed to her unseemly that
her father's secretary should be making mock of her
father's proceedings with a man who was a complete
stranger to her. She walked impetuously ahead of
Aubrey and Elizabeth. Towards the west the beautiful
day was dying, and the light streamed on the girl's
lithe young figure and caught her golden-brown hair.
Clouds of gnats rose in the mild air ; and a hght seemed
to come back from the bronzed and purple hedgerows,
making a gorgeous atmosphere, in which the quiet hill-
top and the thinning trees swam transfigured. A
green woodpecker was pecking industriously among some
hedgerow oaks, and Pamela, who loved birds and
watched them, caught every now and then the glitter
of his flight. The world was dropping towards sleep.
But she was burningly awake and alive. Had she ever
been really alive before ?
120 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
Then — suddenly she remembered Desmond. He was
to be home from some farewell visits between five and
six. She would be late ; he might want her for a
hundred things. His last evening ! Her heart smote her.
They had reached the park gates. Waving her hand to
the two behind, with the one word ' Desmond ! ' she
began to run, and was soon out of their sight.
Elizabeth and Aubrey were not long behind her.
They found the house indeed pervaded with Desmond,
and Desmond's going. Aubrey also was going up to
town, but of him nobody took any notice. Pamela and
Forest were in attendance on the young warrior, who
was himself in the wildest spirits, shouting and whistling
up and downstairs, singing the newest and most shocking
of camp songs, chaffing Forest, and looking with mis-
chievous eyes at the various knitted ' comforts ' to
which his married sisters were hastily putting the last
' I say, Pam — do you see me in mittens ? ' he said to
her in the hall, thrusting out his two splendid hands with
a grin. ' And as for that jersey of Alice's — why, I should
stew to death in it. Oh, I know — I can give it to my
batman. The fellows tell me you can always get rid of
things to your batman. It's like sending your wedding-
presents to the pawn-shop. But where is father ? '
The boy looked discontentedly at his watch. ' He
vowed he'd be here by five. I must be off by a few
minutes after eight.'
' The train's late. He'll be here directly,' said
Pamela confidently ; ' and I say — don't you hurt
Alice's feelings, old man.'
' Don't you preach, Pam ! ' said the boy, laughing.
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 121
And a few minutes afterwards Pamela, passing the open
door of the drawing-room, heard him handsomely
thanking his elder sisters. He ran into her as he emerged
with his arms full of scarves, mittens, and the famous
jersey which had taken Alice Gaddesden a year to knit.
' Stuff 'em in somewhere, Pam ! ' he said in her ear.
' They can go up to London anyway.' And having
shovelled them all off on to her, he raced along the
passage to the library in search of Elizabeth.
' I say, Miss Bremerton, I want a book or two.'
Elizabeth looked up smiling from her table. She
was already of the same mind as everybody outside and
inside Mannering — that Desmond did you a kindness
when he asked you to do him one.
' What kind of a book ? '
' Oh, I've got some novels, and some Nat Goulds, and
Pamela's given me some war-books. Don't know if I
shall read 'em ! — ^Well, I'd like a small Horace, if you can
find one. " My tutor " was an awfully good hand at
Horace. He really did make me like the old chap !
And have you got such a thing as a Greek Anthology
that wouldn't take up much room ? '
Elizabeth went to the shelves to look. Desmond as
the possessor of literary tastes was a novelty to her.
But, after all, she understood that he had been a half in
the Sixth at Eton, before his cadet training began. She
found him two small pocket editions, and the boy
thanked her gratefully. He began to turn over the
Anthology, as though searching for something.
' Can I help you to find anything ? ' she asked him.
' No — it's something I remember,' he said absently,
and presently hit upon it, with a look of pleasure.
' They did know a thing or two, didn't they ? That's
122 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
fine anyway ? ' He handed her the book. ' But I
forget some of the words. Do you mind giving me a
construe ? ' he said humbly.
Ehzabeth translated, feeling rather choky.
' " On the Spartans at Thermopylae.
' " Him " '
' That's Xerxes, of course,' put in Desmond.
' " Him, who changed the paths of earth and sea,
who sailed upon the mainland, and walked upon the
deep — him did Spartan valour hold back, with just three
hundred spears. Shame on you, mountains and seas ! " '
' Well, that's all right, isn't it ? ' said the boy simply,
looking up. ' Couldn't put it better if you tried, could
you ? ' Then he said, hesitating a little as he turned
down the leaf, and put the book in his pocket, ' Five of
the fellows who were in the Sixth wdth me this time
last 3'ear are dead by now. It makes you think a bit,
doesn't it ? — Hullo, there is father ! '
He turned joyously, his young figure finely caught
in the light of Elizabeth's lamp against the background
of the Nike.
' Well, father, you have been a time ! I thought
you'd forgotten altogether I was off to-night.'
' The train was abominably late. Travelling is
becoming a perfect nuisance ! I gave the station-
master a piece of my mind,' said the Squire angrily.
' And I expect he said that you civilians jolly well
have to wait for the munition trains ! '
' He muttered some nonsense of that sort. I didn't
listen to him.' The Squire threw himself down in an
arm-chair. Desmond perched on the corner of a table
near. Elizabeth discreetly took up her work and
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 123
' How much time have you got ? ' asked the Squire
' Oh, a few minutes. Aubrey and I are to have
some supper before I go. But Forest 11 come and tell
' Everything ready ? Got money enough ? '
' Rather ! I shan't want anything for an age. Why,
I shall be buying war-loan out of my pay ! '
He laughed happily. Then his face grew suddenly
' Look here, father — I want awfully to say something.
Do you mind ? '
' If you want to say it, I suppose you will say it.'
The Squire was sitting hunched up, looking old and
tired, his thick white hair piled fantastically above his
Desmond straightened his shoulders with the air of
one going over the parapet.
' Well, it's this, father. I do wish you'd give up that
row about the park ! '
The Squire sat up impatiently.
* That's not your business, Desmond. It can't
matter to you.'
' Yes, but it does matter to me ! ' said the boy with
energy. ' It'll be in aU the papers — the fellows will gas
about it at mess — it's awfully hard lines on me. It
makes me feel rotten ! '
The Squire laughed. He was reminded of a Fourth
of June years before, when Desmond had gone through
agonies of shame because his father was not, in his eyes,
properly ' got-up ' for the occasion — how he had dis-
appeared in the High Street, and only joined his people
again in the crowd at the fireworks.
124 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
' I recommend you to stick it, Desmond. It won't
last long. I've got my part to play, and you've got
yours. You fight because they make you.'
' I don't ! ' said the boy passionately. ' I fight
Then his words broke down. He descended from the
' Well, aU right, father. I suppose it's no good
talking. Only if you think I shan't mind if you get
yourself put in quad, you're jolly well mistaken. Hullo,
Forest ! I'm coming ! '
He hurried off, the Squire moving slowly after him.
In the hour before the boy departed he was the spoilt
darling of his sisters and the servants, who hung round
him, and could not do enough for him. He endured
it, on the whole, patiently, dashing out at the very end
to say good-bye to an old gardener, once a keeper, with
whom he used to go ferreting in the park. To his
father alone his manner was not quite as usual. It was
the manner of one who had been hurt. The Squire
As to his elder son, he and Aubrey parted without
any outward sign of discord, and on the way to London
Aubrey, with the dry detachment that was natural to
him in speaking of himself, told the story of the preceding
twenty-four hours to the eager Desmond's sympathetic
ears. ' Well done, Broomie ! ' was the boy's exultant
comment on the tale of the codicil.
The house, after Desmond's departure, settled
dreamily down. Pamela, with red eyes, retreated to
the schoolroom, and began to clear up the debris left
by the packing ; Alice Gaddesden went to sleep in the
drawing-room ; Mrs. Strang wrote urgent letters to
THE WAR AND ELIZABETH 125
registry of&ces, who now seldom answered her ; the
Squire was in the hbrary, and EHzabeth retreated
early to her own room. She spent a good deal of
time in writing up a locked diary, and finishing up a
letter to her mother. Then she saw to her astonish-
ment that it was nearly one o'clock, and began to feel
The night was warm, and before undressing she put
out her light, and threw up her window. There was a
moon nearly at the full outside, and across the misty
stretches of the park the owls were caUing.
Suddenly she heard a distant footstep, and drew back
from the window. A man was pacing slowly up and
down an avenue of pollarded Hmes which divided the
rose-garden from the park. His figure could only be
intermittently seen ; but it was certainly the Squire.
She drew the curtains again without shutting the
window ; and for long after she was in bed she still
heard the footstep. It awakened many trains of thought
in her — of her own position in this household where she
seemed to have become already mistress and indispens-
able ; of Desmond's last words with her ; of the relations
between father and son ; of Captain Chicksands and his
most agreeable company ; of Pamela's evident dislike
of her, and what she could do to mend it.
As to Pamela, EUzabeth's thoughts went oddly
astray. She was vexed with the girl for what had
seemed to the elder woman her young rudeness to a
gallant and distinguished man. Why, she had scarcely
spoken a word to him during the sitting on the hill ! In
some way, EHzabeth supposed, Captain Chicksands had
offended her — had not made enough of her perhaps ?
But girls must learn now to accept simpler and blunter
126 THE WAR AND ELIZABETH
manners from their men friends. She guessed that
Pamela was in that self-conscious, exalte mood of first
youth which she remembered so well in herself — fretting
too, no doubt, poor child ! over the parting from
Desmond. Anyway she seemed to have no particular
interest in Arthur Chicksands, nor he in her, though his
tone in speaking to her had been, naturally, familiar
and intimate. But probably he was one of those able
men who have little to say to the young girl, and keep
their real minds for the older and experienced woman.
At any rate, Elizabeth dismissed from her mind
whatever vague notion or curiosity as to a possible
love-affair for Pamela in that direction might have been
lurking in it. And that being so, she promptly, and
without aniere pensee of any sort, allowed herself the
pleasant recollection of half an hour's conversation
which had put her intellectually on her mettle, and
quickened those infant ambitions of a practical and
patriotic kind which were beginning to rise in her.