W. Somerset Maugham.

Of human bondage : a novel online

. (page 1 of 59)
Online LibraryW. Somerset MaughamOf human bondage : a novel → online text (page 1 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


^rf'



^




University of California • Berkeley

From the Collection of

Edward Hellman Heller

and

Elinor Raas Heller



WORKS BY

William Somerset Maugham



THE LAND OF THE BLESSED

VIRGIN

SKETCHES AND IMPRESSIONS IN

ANDALUSIA. DemySvo. 68 net.

NOVELS
Price 68 net

THE EXPLORER*
THE MAGICIAN*
THE MERRY-GO-ROUND
MRS. CRADDOCK

*Can also be supplied in cheap
Cloth Edition, 7d net

PLAYS

Cloth, 2s 6d : Paper. Is 6d

THE EXPLORER

JACK STRAW

LADY FREDERICK

LANDED GENTRY

A MAN OF HONOUR

MRS. DOT

PENELOPE

SMITH

THE TENTH MAN

LONDON:WILLIAM HEINEMANN



OF HUMAN BONDAGE

W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM



New Six Shilling Novels

THE FREELANDS

By JOHN GALSWORTHY

MUSLIN

By GEORGE MOORE

OFF SANDY HOOK

By RICHARD DEHAN

THE LITTLE ILIAD

By MAURICE HEWLETT. Illustrated
by Sir Philip Bume-Jones

CARFRAE'S COMEDY

By GLADYS PARRISH

THE IMMORTAL GYMNASTS

By MARIE SCHERR

THE BOTTLE FILLERS

By EDWARD NOBLE

THE PUSH ON THE S.S. GLORY

By FREDERICK NIVEN. Illiutrated
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINBMANN



OF HUMAN BONDAGE

A Novel



BY



W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM




LONDON
WILLIAM HEINEMANN



London William Heinemann 1916



OF HUMAN BONDAGE



The day broke gray and dull. The clouds hung heavily, and
there was a rawness in the air that suggested snow. A woman
servant came into a room in which a child was sleeping aind drew
the curtains. She glanced mechanically at the house opposite, a
stucco house with a portico, and went to the child's bed.

" Wake up, Philip," she said.

She pulled down the bed-clothes, took him in her arms, and
carried him downstairs. He was only half awake.

" Your mother wants you," she said.

She opened the door of a room on the floor below and took the
child over to a bed in which a woman was lying. It was his
mother. She stretched out her arms, and the child nestled by her
side. He did not ask why he had been awakened. The woman
kissed his eyes, and with thin, small hands felt the warm body
through his white flannel nightgown. She pressed him closer to
herself.

" Are you sleepy, darling ? " she said.

Her voice was so weak that it seemed to come already from a
great distance. The child did not answer, but smiled comfortably.
He was very happy in the large, warm bed, with those soft arms
about him. He tried to make himself smaller still as he cuddled
up against his mother, and he kissed her sleepily. In a moment
he closed his eyes and was fast asleep. The doctor came forwards
and stood by the bed-side.

" Oh, don't take him away yet," she moaned.

The doctor, without answering, looked at her gravely. Know-
ing she would not be allowed to keep the child much longer, the
woman kissed him again; and she passed her hand down his body
till she came to his feet; she held the right foot in her hand and
felt the five small toes; and then slowly passed her hand over the
left one. She gave a sob.

" What's the matter? " said the doctor. " You're tired."

She shook her head, unable to speak, and the tears rolled down
her cheeks. The doctor bent down. ^

"Let me take him."

She was too weak to resist his wish, and she gave the child up.
The doctor handed him back to his nurse.



2 OF HUMAN BONDAGE

" You'd better put him back in his own bed."

" Very well, sir."

The little boy, still sleeping, was taken away. His mother sobbed
now broken-heartedly.

" What will happen to him, poor child ? "

The monthly nurse tried to quiet her, and presently, from
exhaustion, the crying ceased. The doctor walked to a table on
the other side of the room, upon which, under a towel, lay the
body of a still-born child. He lifted the towel and looked. He
was hidden from the bed by a screen, but the woman guessed what
he was doing.

" "Was it a girl or a boy ? " she whispered to the nurse.

" Another boy."

The woman did not answer. In a moment the child's nurse
came back. She approached the bed.

" Master Philip never woke up," she said.

There was a pause. Then the doctor felt his patient's pulse
once more.

" I don't think there's anything I can do just nqw," he said.
" I'll call again after breakfast."

" I'll show you out, sir," said the child's nurse.

They walked downstairs in silence. In the hall the doctor stopped.

"You've sent for Mrs. Carey's brother-in-law, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir."

" D'you know at what time he'll be here ? "

" No, sir, I'm expecting a telegram."

"What about the little boy? I should think he'd be better out
of the way."

" Miss Watkin said she'd take him, sir."

"Who's she?"

" She's his godmother, sir. D'you think Mrs. Carey will get
over it, sir ? "

The doctor shook his head.



II

It was a week later. Philip was sitting on the floor in the
drawing-room at Miss Watkin's house in Onslow Gardens. He
was an only child and used to amusing himself. The room
was filled with massive furniture, and on each of the sofas were
three big cushions. There was a cushion too in each arm-chair.
All these he had taken and, with the help of the gilt rout chairs,
light and easy to move, had made an elaborate cave in which he
could hide himself from the Red Indians who were lurking behind
the curtains. He put his ear to the floor and listened to the herd
of buffaloes that raced across the prairie. Presently, hearing the
door open, he held his breath so that he might not be discovered;
but a violent hand pulled away a chair and the cushions fell down.

" You naughty boy. Miss Watkin will be cross with you."

" Hulloa, Emma ! " he said.

The nurse bent down and kissed him, then began to shake out
the cushions, and put them back in their places.

" Am I to come home ? " he asked.

" Yes, I've come to fetch you."

" You've got a new dress on."

It was in eighteen-eighty-five, and she wore a bustle. Her gown
was of black velvet, with tight sleeves and sloping shoulders,
and the skirt had three large flounces. She wore a black bonnet
with velvet strings. She hesitated. The question she had expected
did not come, and so she could not give the answer she had pre-
pared.

" Aren't you going to ask how your mamma is ? " she said at
length.

" Oh, I forgot. How is mamma ? "

Now she was ready.

" Your mamma is quite well and happy."

" Oh, I am glad."

"Your mamma's gone away. You won't ever see her any
more."

Philip did not know what she meant.

"Why not?"

"Your mamma's in heaven."

She began to cry, and Philip, though he did not quite under-

3



4 OF HUMAN BONDAGE

stand, cried too. Emma was a tall, big-boned woman, with fair
hair and large features. She came from Devonshire and, notwith-
standing her many years of service in London, had never lost the
breadth of her accent. Her tears increased her emotion, and she
pressed the little boy to her heart. She felt vaguely the pity of
that child deprived of the only love in the world that is quite un-
selfish. It seemed dreadful that he must be handed over to strang-
ers. But in a little while she pulled herself together.

" Your Uncle William is waiting in to see you," she said. " Go
and say good-bye to Miss Watkin, and we'll go home."

"I don't want to say good-bye," he answered, instinctively
anxious to hide his tears.

" Very well, run upstairs and get your hat."

He fetched it, and when he came down Emma was waiting for
him in the hall. He heard the sound of voices in the study behind
the dining-room. He paused. He knew that Miss Watkin and
her sister were talking to friends, and it seemed to him — he was
nine years old — that if he went in they would be sorry for him.

" I think I'll go and say good-bye to Miss Watkin."

" I think you'd better," said Emma.

** Go in and tell them I'm coming," he said.

He wished to make the most of his opportunity. Ermna knocked
at the door and walked in. He heard her speak.

" Master Philip wants to say good-bye to you, miss."

There was a sudden hush of the conversation, and Philip limped
in. Henrietta Watkin was a stout woman, with a red face and
dyed hair. In those days to dye the hair excited comment, and
Philip had heard much gossip at home when his godmother's
changed colour. She lived with an elder sister, who had resigned
herself contentedly to old age. Two ladies, whom Philip did not
know, were calling, and they looked at him curiously.

" My poor child," said Miss Watkin, opening her arms.

She began to cry. Philip understood now why she had not been
in to luncheon and why she wore a black dress. She could not
Bpeak.

'' I've got to go home," said Philip, at last.

He disengaged himself from Miss Watkin's arms, and she kissed
him again. Then he went to her sister and bade her good-bye
too. One of the strange ladies asked if she might kiss him, and
he gravely gave her permission. Though crying, he keenly
enjoyed the sensation he was causing; he would have been glad to
stay a little longer to be made much of, but felt they expected him
to go, so he said that Emma was waiting for him. He went out



OF HUMAN BONDAGE 5

of the room. Emma had gone downstairs to speak with a friend in
the basement, and he waited for her on the landing. He heard
Henrietta Watkin's voice.

" His mother was my greatest friend. I can't bear to think that
she's dead."

^' You oughtn't to have gone to the funeral, Henrietta," said her
sister. " I knew it would upset you."

Then one of the strangers spoke.

"Poor little boy, it's dreadful to think of him quite alone in
the world. I see he limps."

" Yes, he's got a club-foot. It was such a grief to his mother."

Then Emma came back. They called a hansom, and she told
the driver where to go.



Ill

When they reached the house Mrs. Carey had died in — it was
in a dreary, respectable street between Netting Hill Gate and
High Street, Kensington — Emma led Philip into the drawing-
room. Plis uncle was writing letters of thanks for the wreaths
which had been sent. One of them, which had arrived too late
for the funeral, lay in its cardboard box on the hall-table.

" Here's Master Philip," said Emma.

Mr. Carey stood up slowly and shook hands with the little boy.
Then on second thoughts he bent down and kissed his forehead.
He was a man of somewhat less than average height, inclined to
corpulence, with his hair, worn long, arranged over the scalp so
as to conceal his baldness. He was clean-shaven. His features
were regular, and it was possible to imagine that in his youth he
had been good-looking. On his watch-chain he wore a gold cross.

"You're going to live with me now, Philip," said Mr. Carey.
"Shall you like that?"

Two years before Philip had been sent down to stay at the
vicarage after an attack of chicken-pox; but there remained with
him a recollection of an attic and a large garden rather than of
his uncle and aunt.

" Yes."

" You must look upon me and your Aunt Louisa as your father
and mother."

The child's mouth trembled a little, he reddened, but did not
answer.

" Your dear mother left you in my charge."

Mr. Carey had no great ease in expressing himself. When the
news came that his sister-in-law was dying, he set off at once for
London, but on the way thought of nothing but the disturbance in
his life that would be caused if her death forced him to undertake
the care of her son. He was well over fifty, and his wife, to whom
he had been married for thirty years, was childless; he did not
look forward with any pleasure to the presence of a small boy
who might be noisy and rough. He had never much liked his
sister-in-law.

" I'm going to take you down to Blackstable tomorrow," he
said.



OF HUMAN BONDAGE 7

"With Emma r'

The child put his hand in hers, and she pressed it.

" I'm afraid Emma must go away," said Mr. Carey.

"But I want Emma to come with me."

Philip began to cry, and the nurse could not help crying too.
Mr. Carey looked at them helplessly.

" I think you'd better leave me alone with Master Philip for a
moment."

" Very good, sir."

Though Philip clung to her, she released herself gently. Mr.
Carey took the boy on his knee and put his arm round him.

" You mustn't cry," he said. " You're too old to have a nurse
now. We must see about sending you to school."

" I want Emma to come with me," the child repeated.

"It costs too much money, Philip. Your father didn't leave
very much, and I don't know what's become of it. You must look
at every penny you spend."

Mr. Carey had called the day before on the family sol\pitor.
Philip's father was a surgeon in good practice, and his hospital
appointments suggested an established position; so that it was
a surprise on his sudden death from blood-poisoning to find that
he had left his widow little more than his life insurance
and what could be got for the lease of their house in Bruton
Street. This was six months ago; and Mrs. Carey, already in
delicate health, finding herself with child, had lost her head
and accepted for the lease the first offer that was made. She
stored her furniture, and, at a rent which the parson thought
outrageous, took a furnished house for a year, so that she might
suffer from no inconvenience till her child was bom. But she had
never been used to the management of money, and was unable to
adapt her expenditure to her altered circumstances. The little she
had slipped through her fingers in one way and another, so that
now, when all expenses were paid, not much more than two thou-
sand pounds remained to support the boy till he was able to earn
his own living. It was impossible to explain all this to Philip and
he was sobbing still.

"You'd better go to Emma," Mr. Carey said, feeling that she
could console the child better than anyone.

Without a word Philip slipped off his uncle's knee, but Mr.
Carey stopped him.

"We must go tomorrow, because on Saturday I've got to pre-
pare my sermon, and you must tell Emma to get your things ready
today. You can bring all your toys. And if you want anything



8 OF HUMAN BONDAGE

to remember your father and mother by you can take one thing
for each of them. Everything else is going to be sold."

The boy slipped out of the room. Mr. Carey was unused to
work, and he turned to his correspondence with resentment. On
one side of the desk was a bundle of bills, and these filled him with
irritation. One especially seemed preposterous. Immediately after
Mrs. Carey's death Emma had ordered from the florist masses of
white flowers for the room in which the dead woman lay. It was
sheer waste of money. Emma took far too much upon herself.
Even if there had been no financial necessity, he would have dis-
missed her.

But Philip went to her, and hid his face in her bosom, and
wept as though his heart would break. And she, feeling that he
was almost her own son — she had taken him when he was a
month old — consoled him with soft words. She promised that she
would come and see him sometimes, and that she would never
forget him; and she told him about the country he was going to
and about her own home in Devonshire — her father kept a turn-
pike on the high-road that led to Exeter, and there were pigs in
the sty, and there was a cow, and the cow had just had a calf —
till Philip forgot his tears and grew excited at the thought of his
approaching journey. Presently she put him down, for there was
much to be done, and he helped her to lay out his clothes on the
bed. She sent him into the nursery to gather up his toys, and in
a little while he was playing happily.

But at last he grew tired of being alone and went back to the
bed-room, in which Emma was now putting his things into a big
tin box; he remembered then that his uncle had said he might
take something to remember his father and mother by. He told
Emma and asked her what he should take.

" You'd better go into the drawing-room and see what you
fancy."

" Uncle William's there."

"Never mind that. They're your own things now."

Philip went downstairs slowly and found the door open. Mr.
Carey had left the room. Philip walked slowly round. They had
been in the house so short a time that there was little in it that
had a particular interest to him. It was a stranger's room, and
Philip saw nothing that struck his fancy. But he knew which
were his mother's things and which belonged to the landlord, and
presently fixed on a little clock that he had once heard his mother
say she liked. With this he walked again rather disconsolately up-
stairs. Outside the door of his mother's bed-room he stopped and



OF HUMAN BONDAGE 9

listened. Though no one had told him not to go in, he had a
feeling that it would be wrong to do so; he was a little fright-
ened, and his heart beat uncomfortably; but at the same time
something impelled him to turn the handle. He turned it very
gently, as ,if to prevent anyone within from hearing, and then
slowly pushed the door open. He stood on the threshold for a
moment before he had the courage to enter. He was not frightened
now, but it seemed strange. He closed the door behind him. The
blinds were drawn, and the room, in the cold light of a January
afternoon, was dark. On the dressing-table were Mrs. Carey's
brushes and the hand mirror. In a little tray were hairpins.
There was a photograph of himself on the chimney-piece and one
of his father. He had often been in the room when his mother
was not in it, but now it seemed different. There was something
curious in the look of the chairs. The bed was made as though
someone were going to sleep in it that night, and in a case on the
pillow was a night-dress.

Philip opened a large cupboard filled with dresses and, stepping
in, took as many of them as he could in his arms and buried his
face in them. They smelt of the scent his mother used. Then
he pulled open the drawers, filled with his mother's things, and
looked at them: there were lavender bags among the linen, and
their scent was fresh and pleasant. The strangeness of the room
left it, and it seemed to him that his mother had just gone out for
a walk. She would be in presently and would come upstairs to
have nursery tea with him. And he seemed to feel her kiss on his
lips.

It was not true that he would never see her again. It was not
true simply because it was impossible. He climbed up on the bed
and put his head on the pillow. He lay there quite still.



IV

Philip parted from Emma with tears, but the journey to Black-
stable amused him, and, when they arrived, he was resigned and
cheerful. Blackstable was sixty miles from London. Giving their
luggage to a porter, Mr. Carey set out to walk with Philip to the
vicarage; it took them little more than five minutes, and, when
they reached it, Philip suddenly remembered the gate. It was red
and five-barred: it swung both ways on easy hinges; and it was
possible, though forbidden, to swing backwards and f )rwards on it.
They walked through the garden to the front-door. This was only
used by visitors and on Sundays, and on special occasions, as when
the Vicar went up to London or came back. The traffic of the house
took place through a side-door, and there was a back door as well for
the gardener and for beggars and tramps. It was a fairly large
house of yellow brick, with a red roof, built about five and twenty
years before in an ecclesiastical style. The front-door was like a
church porch, and the drawing-room windows were gothic.

Mrs. Carey, knowing by what train they were coming, waited
in the drawing-room and listened for the click of the gate. "When
she heard it she went to the door.

" There's Aunt Louisa," said Mr. Carey, when he saw her. " Run
and give her a kiss."

Philip started to run, awkwardly, trailing his club-foot, and then
stopped. Mrs. Carey was a little, shrivelled woman of the same
age as her husband, with a face extraordinarily filled with deep
wrinkles, and pale blue eyes. Her gray hair was arranged in ring-
lets according to the fashion of her youth. She wore a black
dress, and her only ornament was a gold chain, from which hung
a cross. She had a shy manner and a gentle voice.

" Did you walk, William ? " she said, almost reproachfully, as
she kissed her husband.

" I didn't think of it," he answered, with a glance at his nephew*

"It didn't hurt you to walk, Philip, did it?" she asked the
child.

" No. I always walk."

He was a little surprised at their conversation. Aunt Louisa
told him to come in, and they entered the hall. It was paved
with red and yellow tiles, on which alternately were a Greek Cross

10



OF HUMAN BONDAGE 11

and the Lamb of God. An imposing staircase led out of the
hall. It was of polished pine, with a peculiar smell, and had been
put in because fortunately, when the church was reseated, enough
wood remained over. The balusters were decorated with emblems
of the Four Evangelists.

" I've had the stove lighted as I thought you'd be cold after
your journey," said Mrs. Carey.

It was a large black stove that stood in the hall and was onljr
lighted if the weather was very bad and the Vicar had a cold.
It was not lighted if Mrs. Carey had a cold. Coal was expensive.
Besides, Mary Ann, the maid, didn't like fires all over the place.
If they wanted all them fires they must keep a second girl. In
the winter Mr. and Mrs. Carey lived in the dining-room so that one
fire should do, and in the summer they could not get out of the
habit, so the drawing-room was used only by Mr. Carey on Sunday
afternoons for his nap. But every Saturday he had a fire in the
study so that he could write his sermon.

Aunt Louisa took Philip upstairs and showed him into a tiny
bed-room that looked out on the drive. Immediately in front of
the window was a large tree, which Philip remembered now because
the branches were so low that it was possible to climb quite high
up it.

" A small room for a small boy," said Mrs. Carey. " You won't
be frightened at sleeping alone ? "

" Oh, no."

On his first visit to the vicarage he had come with his nurse,
and Mrs. Carey had had little to do with him. She looked at him
now with some uncertainty.

" Can you wash your own hands, or shall I wash them for you ? "

" I can wash myself," he answered firmly.

" Well, I shall look at them when you come down to tea," said
Mrs. Carey.

She knew nothing about children. After it was settled that
Philip should come down to Blackstable, Mrs. Carey had thought
much how she should treat him; she was anxious to do her duty;
but now he was there she found herseK just as shy of him as he
was of her. She hoped he would not be noisy and rough, because
her husband did not like rough and noisy boys. Mrs. Carey made
an excuse to leave Philip alone, but in a moment came back and
knocked at the door; she asked him, without coming in, if he
could pour out the water himseK. Then she went downstairs and
rang the bell for tea.

The dining-room, large and well-proportioned, had windows on



12 OF HUMAN BONDAGE

two sides of it, with heavy curtains of red rep; there was a big
table in the middle ; and at one end an imposing mahogany side-
board with a looking-glass in it. In one corner stood a harmonium.
On each side of the fireplace were chairs covered in stamped
leather, each with an antimacassar; one had arms and was
called the husband, and the other had none and was called the
wife. Mrs. Carey never sat in the arm-chair : she said she preferred
a chair that was not too comfortable; there was always a lot
to do, and if her chair had had arms she might not be so ready to
leave it.

Mr. Carey was making up the fire when Philip came in, and he
pointed out to his nephew that there were two pokers. One was
large and bright and polished and unused, and was called the
Vicar; and the other, which was much smaller and had evidently
passed through many fires, was called the Curate.

"What are we waiting for?" said Mr. Carey.

" I told Mary Ann to make you an egg. I thought you'd be
hungry after your journey."

Mrs. Carey thought the journey from London to Blackstable
very tiring. She seldom travelled herself, for the living was only
three hundred a year, and, when her husband wanted a holiday,
since there was not money for two, he went by himself. He was
very fond of Church Congresses and usually managed to go up to
London once a year ; and once he had been to Paris for the exhibi-
tion, and two or three times to Switzerland. Mary Ann brought
in the egg, and they sat down. The chair was much too low for
Philip, and for a moment neither Mr. Carey nor his wife knew
what to do.

" I'll put some books under him," said Mary Ann.

She took from the top of the harmonium the large Bible and
the prayer-book from which the Vicar was accustomed to read
prayers, and put them on Philip's chair.

" Oh, William, he can't sit on the Bible," said Mrs. Carey, in



Online LibraryW. Somerset MaughamOf human bondage : a novel → online text (page 1 of 59)