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of a Puritan education, which compelled her
against her desires to go to church on Sundays.
She was fond of gambling ; gambled badly and
superstitiously, with a keen enjoyment ; objected
to people believing that she did so at all ; sus-
pected the " bank " of knowing a little too much
when she lost ; bore her losses, as she bore
physical pain, with the stoicism of early educa-
tion ; expected the same stoicism, multiplied,
in her niece. Without knowing it, she was a
perfect mistress of the art of avoiding wrinkles.

If you scratch a Russian you come to a
Tartar, if you scratch a human being you come
to an animal ; only in some cases you scratch
more, in others less. In Mrs. Travis's case
you scratched less. She suggested nothing so
much as a large Persian cat.

With her bright, quickly -moving, greenish
eyes she observed many things, conveying them


as far as the shell which covered her reasoning
powers — if she had any. She had much in-
stinct, no logic.

She was frequently heard to say to her niece,
" You ought to think of other people, my dear."
And she did so herself — just so far as it suited
her own convenience. She only said it to her
niece in the impunity of close relationship ; in
other cases she became the sublime martyr in
a smooth sulk. For the rest, she was entirely
devoid of '' inwardness," was hospitable, and a
widow with no children, loved shopping and
dress, collected silver, and did it all well and
economically. She did not talk much, but
smiled a great deal, a pleasant smile ; when
she was agitated she puffed her lips.

She puffed them now, saying to Jocelyn —
" We shall lose our train, my dear, and we
ought to play before dinner, you know, I'm
never so lucky after." She linked her arm in
the girl's, and walked down the terrace steps,
Giles following in a feeble endeavour to recon-
cile her bonnet with her boots. He was given
to dissection, and Mrs. Travis was tough under
the knife.


JOCELYN Ley's mother died when she was born.
She was an only child, and her father, who was
in the army, began immediately to idolise her
with an abrupt and well-bred idolatry.

He came into some property shortly after his
wife's death, and, leaving the service, took a
place in the country, where he used to spend
the winters in hunting. In the spring and
summer he would go to London, or on a round
of visits, sometimes taking Jocelyn with him.
She grew up in rather a lonely way, with dogs
and horses for her companions, and her educa-
tion was of a desultory nature. She was a mar-
vellously quick child, the joy and despair of her
governesses, who were always exceedingly fond
of her, and who found themselves perpetually
obliged to leave at the most promising moments,
because Major Ley wanted his daughter to be
with him. She grew from a roundabout romp,


who could never stay on her feet, and came
continually to grief, into a slim sensitive girl,
very easily hurt, shrinking like a tender plant
from anything rough or unpleasant, with a
love for animals, and an innate distrust of her
own kind.

When she was eighteen her father died, leav-
ing her independent, and very desolate.

In default of better things, he had entrusted
her to his sister, for whom he had a certain
contemptuous affection. The two ladies, mar-
vellously dissimilar, got on fairly well together
— perhaps because they never remained for long
at a time in one place, perhaps because neither
expected to understand the other, nor required
much at her hands. They had spent most of
the four years since Major Ley's death abroad,
in Italy, Spain, Germany, and above all in Paris,
which Mrs. Travis loved because of the garments
to be obtained.

Jocelyn hated the grey monotony of English
skies. She had a fierce love of the sun, of
lands where the colouring hit the eye, where
life seemed to throb with a fuller pulse.

From her mother, in whose family there was


a tradition of gipsy blood, she had inherited a
restless, moody nature, which ordained that she
should wander, just as it decreed that she should
be a slave to the ebb and flow of her emotions.
She had a vast capacity for living in the passing
moment, which indicated a nature very respon-
sive to outward influences, and to her own
physical condition.

In her, qualities, and the negations of those
qualities, seemed to swing with a beat and recoil
as absolutely weighed and regulated as that of
a pendulum ; they balanced each other in the
scales of her mind. She herself recognised
the perpetual equation, standing apart from her
moods in a detached consciousness, regretfully
indulgent, making no attempt to control or
check, rather gauging them with a peculiar
pessimism, a sympathetic insight, a tender desire
to be good to herself. She extended this desire
to all the world — she loved generously to appre-
ciate and to be appreciated, investing herself
thereby with a great quality of attraction, not
lessened by the essential pride which forbade
her to ask a favour from God or man. She
never stirred a finger to attract admiration or


affection, yet without appreciation she drooped
as a flower without water. . . .

As the train droned sleepily on its way to
Monte Carlo, she leant forward in the dust-
coloured railway carriage to look at the curve
of the bay between Cap Martin and Roque-
brune. She was smiling unconsciously at the
blue sea gleaming in the sunlight, the feathery,
white edges of the tiny, tideless waves, the pine-
clothed cliffs rising sheer behind the tail of the
curving train, and the three sentinel palms on
the rocky point in front. Giles sat opposite
her, devouring her face with half-closed eyes.
Once with an abrupt movement she touched
his knees with her own ; and then it wanted all
of Mrs. Travis — expansive, leaning back, with
hands folded on her lap, and quickly-glancing
green eyes — to check the mad impulse suddenly
roused in him to take the girl in his arms. He
spent all the rest of the journey in wondering if
she knew of that touch.

They found Nielsen in the garden, fragrantly
shaded by a pepper tree. He was sitting on
a seat smoking a cigarette, and gravely con-
templating the doings of a man, who resembled


a Greek statue, and of a sheep-faced boy, who
might have stepped out of one of Jean Francois
Millet's pictures. These two seemed to be
committed to the levelling of a heap of earth,
which had been let fall from a cart drawn by
a large, intelligent-looking mule ; they con-
tinued, however, to seem, for they did ab-
solutely nothing. Nielsen greeted the ladies
with suave effusion ; he was a devoted admirer
of Jocelyn.

" Look at that man ! " he said plaintively,
pointing to the statue. " What a futile thing
civilisation is ! You know, I have seen much
more energetic South Sea Islanders, and de-
lightfully clean, except for palm oil, which, after
all, is only soap. But look at that attitude !
How beautiful ! He has been leaning on his
spade in six different attitudes, each more beau-
tiful than the last, all this quarter of an hour,
and now he is going to get himself a drrink."
For the statue moved away, and left the Millet
boy to drag his weedy limbs and sheep-like
face round and round the earth heap in a con-
scientiously monotonous, do-nothing shamble.

Nielsen continued. " He has no more any-


thing than the Fijian, except clothes and dirt ;
and yet we have the habit of calHng him a civi-
Hsed being, and the other a savage, don't you
see ? It is all a matter of habit, you know."

He flicked the dust off his boots mournfully
with a silk handkerchief.

Nielsen habitually gave people the impression
of being affected ; in reality he was not, it was
in his case merely the grafting of the English
manner upon the foreign ; he impressed one
as being cynical, in reality he was kind-hearted ;
he appeared to be mild, in reality he was
explosive ; he seemed to be continually dancing
in attendance, in reality he was an original.

He was a man of good birth, and he had
seen, in his forty years, a little of most things ;
he now lived by gambling on a "system." It
said much for him that he still lived, and well.
Many people who gambled themselves tabooed
him for that reason, oblivious of the fact, that,
to live in that way, requires a patience and
self-possession wanting in nine hundred and
ninety-nine people out of a thousand.

They walked together through the gardens
up to the Casino. There is a subtly peculiar


character about the Casino gardens at Monte
Carlo. They are not indeed particularly beau-
tiful — there are many more so — but there is a
subdued and fragrant naughtiness about them,
they are full of suggestion. The aroma, acrid
and penetrating, the atmosphere, vivid and
enticing, of many unrestrained personalities
seems to haunt them ; in the midst of abso-
lutely artificial surroundings one yet seems to
revert to first principles, to those mysterious
laws which make the world go round, hunting
the ostrich of civilisation as it buries a lofty
and well-intentioned head from the sight of its
implacably eternal pursuers.

Presently they approached the Casino steps.
Mrs. Travis was a little in advance, serenely
conscious of good clothes, and puffing her lips
in pleased anticipation. Jocelyn distraite, and
slightly bored, walked with Nielsen, who chat-
tered to her languidly, while Giles followed
moodily behind.

In front of them strolled two Englishmen with
a curiously jerky walk. Nielsen, commenting
on them in a whisper to his companion, said
gravely —


" Look, they are new arrivals- — they have the
Monte Carrlo walk — two steps and a scrratch,
don't you know ; all you English walk like that,
you know, when you first come, it is the drry air."

Jocelyn smiled at him, and answered in low

Giles, who had not caught the words of the
whispered conversation, felt a sudden pang ;
he grew very pale, and dropped a little further
behind. As Jocelyn went up the steps, she
turned round and looked back for him.

The subdued strains of music came through
the open doors of the concert-room ; and in
the outer hall and corridors people moved up
and down with a prowling motion slightly sug-
gestive of beasts at the Zoo ; every now and
then one would slip back again into the playing-
rooms. Inside there was a hushed, jinghng
sound, a subdued light, a faint scent of patch-
ouli. People shifted continually from room to
room and round the tables, singly, or in groups
of two and three talking in low voices. A ring
of faces circled each table, and watchful crou-
piers at the ends and sides shepherded them
apathetically with incessant energy. Their rakes


clacked against coins on the green cloths, and
the drawl " 7'ien ii!va plus " went continually up
to the vault of the painted ceiling.

The endless motion of fans gave an impres-
sion of great insects hovering between the
players. The faces were for the most part
grave, there was no laughter ; and the walls of
the rooms stared baldly at them in bright
colours, covered with painted nymphs ; on
couches, here and there, people sat, idly talk-
ing, or gazing wearily in front of them. Now
and then a hum would swell up from one of the
tables, and die down again into monotony.

Mrs. Travis, who always played roulette be-
cause it afforded her the luxury of more vacilla-
tion for her money, selected a table, and waited
till she could sit down next to a friendly and
clean Austrian croupier, whom she had habi-
tuated by a long and careful interchange of
badly pronounced '^ Bonjours" to supervise the
placing of her stakes. She proceeded to put
purse, fan, and handkerchief beside her, and to
take from her pocket pencil and cards whereon
to mark the numbers. Her lips moved inces-
santly, her eyes glanced restlessly from the table


to her cards and back again, and occasionally
she gave quick looks at the players round — she
seemed to see everything. She marked her
cards carefully, consulted them much — fingered
her stakes before placing them, often drawing
them back again at the last moment. When
she won, she smiled — when she lost, she
frowned ; she was beautifully unconscious that
she did any of these things. As she played, the
lines deepened in her face, the colour faded — in
short, she returned to first principles — a gam-
bler pure and simple.

Jocelyn's proceedings were in curious con-
trast. She took the first empty seat. Her eye-
lids dropped, her chin tilted up, her face assumed
a mask of indifference. She pushed her stakes
on with the rake, carelessly, as if they did not
belong to her, she raked them in carelessly in
the same way. She backed her luck and cut her
losses with nonchalance in an orthodox fashion
— gambling because other people gambled.

Giles, standing at the same table, staked
feverishly on every spin of the wheel. He kept
his eyes all the time on Jocelyn. He won a
good deal, put it in his pocket, and made a


motion towards her, but, receiving no sign of
invitation, went back to his place, and played
with his eyes still upon her, till he had lost all
he had with him. Then he turned away with
an air of relief, and, going round, stood behind
her chair, where now and again his coat sleeve
would brush against her shoulder. He had
played for a distraction without finding it.

Nielsen sat at a given table, watching the
game ; he looked sad, expressionless. He
played from the marked cards in his hands and
the figures in his head ; he awaited combina-
tions. He staked rarely, content with a five
per cent, profit upon his outlay of the afternoon.
Presently some one appropriated his stake — he
looked at the man, mildly hurt, but said no-
thing ; shortly afterwards some one appropriated
his neighbour's stake — he at once exploded in
defence ; with words he cudgelled the appro-
priator, he cudgelled the croupiers, he brought
the table about his ears, his face grew white, his
eyes red, he held on to his point and gained it,
then became once more sad and expressionless.
For the rest he gambled undeviatingly — a mere
matter of business.


Presently they came away, leaving Nielsen
waiting patiently for a certain combination. As
Jocelyn passed his chair he leant back, and twisted
his rather short neck round to say, in a pathetic
whisper, and with a shrug of his shoulders —

" (^a ne va pas, ce soir, I wait and wait, but
the brread and butter does not come, and now
you are going away, that is drreadful, don't you
know." He had to twist back again in a hurry
to mark his card with the last number.

Jocelyn, looking back, thought that he re-
sembled a well-groomed seal watching a hole
for fish.

Mrs. Travis, playing her new " system " with
assiduous ignorance, had lost all her own money,
had borrowed Jocelyn's, and lost that. She left
the " Rooms " stiff with anger, erect, annoyed
with her croupier, whom she believed capable
of predicting the coming numbers if he would,
strongly convinced that if she had brought more
money she must have won, secretly ruffled with
Jocelyn for not having more to lend her.

Very little was said on the return journey ;
Mrs. Travis's quick green eyes seemed restlessly
on the watch for something to resent, Jocelyn


was tired, Giles moody. Only when they neared
the hotel, he touched her sleeve gently, saying —

" You know we are off to-morrow ? "

" Yes," she answered, " I am so sorry."

She stopped, and a faint colour came into
her cheeks.

" I shall miss our walks dreadfully, and Shika
— poor boy : he won't get his cake. Will you
remember to give it him every afternoon ? "

" No," said Giles shortly, " I'll bring him over
for you to give it."

" Oh ! " she said, drawing little circles in the
dust with the end of her parasol. He was
standing in front of her, tall and straight, with
his hat off, and a very grave face. She looked
up at him quickly, and held out her hand with
a smile.

" We are dining out," she said, " I don't sup-
pose I shall see you again. Good-bye, Giles."
He took her hand in his, and held it a moment,
looking very hard into her face ; then he let it
go, and stood quite still while she climbed the
terrace steps. She turned her head once, and
he caught a side glimpse of a tired, rather sad,
little face under a shady hat.


The Legards left Mentone very early the fol-
lowing day ; it was necessary for Irma to drive
the five miles to the villa in the cool of the
morning. Giles had failed to see Jocelyn again ;
he delayed the departure as much as he could,
but she was not down when they left. During
the drive he sat silently calm opposite his wife,
but with a feeling of rage and despair in his
heart. He took the greatest care of her, chang-
ing her cushions continually, and making the
man drive with the utmost caution. They
arrived without incident. He had hoped that
he would find some relief and distraction in
the familiar surroundings of the villa, but he
found instead that they only maddened him by
bringing to his mind more forcibly the bar set
between him and Jocelyn. He asked himself,
a hundred times a day, what he was doing ?
what he meant to do ? and he could give him-


self no ans^r. His conscience, his sense of
balance, his honour, whatever name best fitted
that feeling which struggled with his passion,
exacted from him a dying remonstrance. He
tried to give himself no time to think, to keep
himself busy all day and every day, riding,
walking, or with affairs in the house ; he was
particularly attentive to his wife, and he felt all
the time that she knew what was passing in his
heart ; and all his efforts were of no use — Jocelyn's
face was ever before him. He wrote a note to
her, in which he said that he had business which
would take him to Genoa. He went there, and
stayed two days, at the end of which time he re-
turned more miserable than ever. In this way
a week passed without his going to Mentone.

Jocelyn missed him ; she had become so used
to his companionship in those two months.
She had no idea, until he had gone, how much
she had depended on him for enjoyment. She
felt quite lost without him and the greyhound.
He seemed to her so different from the men,
Germans, Frenchmen, Poles, or Russians with
whom she had been thrown during her wander-
ings. They had danced with her, ridden with


her, paid her compliments, even a^ed to marry
her, and one and all she had distrusted them,
with the native distrust peculiar to her. She
had always felt as if she understood Giles. It
was not because he was her countryman, it was
for no defined reason ; yet it had been good to
be with him ; to find some one who loved, like
herself, the sun and the flowers, music, the hot,
sweet-scented air, the clack of many foreign
tongues in the glowing light, and on starry
evenings the murmur of the deep-hearted sea.
To know that there was some one near who felt
the spirit moving in these 'things- who lived in
them, to whom they were not, as to her aunt,
merely the chance outside ministers ^q|. a bodily
ease. . . . After he had gone, she would some-
times go into the garden with her lips pursed
up in a dumb whistle, expecting every minute
to see Shikari uncoil his snake-like body from
under the shade of some shrub, and come
lolloping across the grass with arched back to
lick her hands ; or to see Giles sitting in the
sun with a Panama hat over his eyes, and his
long legs crossed. Sometimes, as she sat in-
doors alone, or with her aunt, she would fancy


she smelt the smoke of his cigar on the terrace,
and she would get up and look through the
shutters. She ceased to go for walks — it was
so dull by herself, and she no longer cared to
go over to Monte Carlo. She played to her-
self a good deal, but she found that she missed
Giles's grave face looking at her, and a habit,
which he had, of coming up from behind and
touching her on the shoulder, saying, *' Play
that again." She wanted somebody to like her
music. It was no good playing when there was
nobody to care whether she played badly or well.

When she received his note she was surprised,
and a little hurt, not at the news it contained,
but at the wording — it seemed to her so formal
and precise.

She sat down, and wrote him a friendly letter
in return, then tore it up in a sudden fit of
childish irritation, and wrote to Irma instead,
telling her what a good time she was having.

Just a week after the Legards had gone, she
found herself with Mrs. Travis at a party given
by a certain German baroness at her hotel in the
East Bay. The hot, airless rooms, opening into
each other, were filled with a cosmopolitan crowd


of people, raising a gabble of words and laughter.
The majority of them discussed the health of
themselves and of their friends ; a German profes-
sor, sitting at the piano, now and then struck a
chord upon it to illustrate an argument he was
carrying on ; a fat, brown poodle begged in-
cessantly, all over the room, for cakes ; in a
corner two Russians with parted beards disputed
in low tones over a " system " ; and an old Eng-
lish lady, stolidly eating an ice, complained of
toothache to a Colonial bishop, who stood beside
her with his hat clasped to his stomach. On
the gravel walk outside, people paraded vaguely,
smelling at the flowers, or turning to stare at
new arrivals. There were present, in fact, all the
ingredients of hotel society on the Riviera.

Mrs. Travis, seated in a cool corner of the
room, was fanning herself, and listening with
an occasional ample wriggle to the conversation
of an anaemic curate, who was endeavouring to
expound his own, and to elicit her views upon
art. Having no views, she was finding it best
to agree with everything he said, while her
quick eyes took in a large amount of informa-
tion about the dress and appearance of her


neighbours. She smiled a great deal at him,
however, so that he was quite pleased — con-
sidering himself appreciated — and presently
brought her some tea.

In the centre of the room a knot of people
surrounded Jocelyn, two of them talking to her
eagerly in spasmodic and heavy-shouldered sen-
tences ; they were both Germans — Jocelyn had
a peculiar fascination for Germans, they came
round her like flies round honey. One of them
would say —

" Do you that gomposer zo much like, ach ? "
The other : " Has he not veeling, ach ? " and
Jocelyn contrived always to convince each of
them that she had answered him first. She
did not wish to attract them, but only to avoid
hurting their feelings. She appeared delicious
to them, with her vivid yet mysterious face, and
the absolute daintiness of her gestures and her
dress. Every now and then she turned to the
only other lady in the group, and tried to draw
her into the talk, and, curiously enough, she
seemed delicious to her also, having the faculty,
given to a few attractive women, of not arousing
the jealousy of her own kind. The Germans


were pressing her to play, and she was turning
to the piano when her eyes fell upon the figure
of Giles. He was standing outside one of the
French windows with his hands in his pockets,
watching her. She gave an abrupt little move-
ment, and sat down at the piano feeling sud-
denly hot. She began turning the leaves of
some music hastily, with the idea, without
knowing why, that she must hide her eyes
from people. She played a mazurka of Chopin's,
while the German professor, leaning over, re-
garded her admiringly through his smoked
spectacles. When she had finished, she got up,
saying, in answer to a buzz of remonstrance,
" It's too hot to play," and walked away to a
chair, with a sudden impatience of the people
around her. She was thinking, " Why doesn't
Giles come and talk to me ? " The German
professor, who had followed her from the win-
dow, began a commentary upon composers ;
Jocelyn, leaning back in her chair, listened
languidly, while her eyes wandered to the
window. A tall, good-looking woman in pink
was talking to Giles, who was listening with a
smile on his face. Jocelyn wondered who she


was, and made an absent remark to the pro-
fessor. She observed the look of mild surprise
that lurked behind his spectacles, and caught
herself up with her habitual quickness ; but the
moment he began to talk again her eyes went
back to the window. Giles, bending a little for-

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Online LibraryJohn GalsworthyJocelyn → online text (page 2 of 14)