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rain in the night," says Brown. "It was only just over the third
step after lunch yesterday." We have a little argument about it,
Miss Robinson being convinced that she stood on the second step
after breakfast, and Miss Smith repeating that it looks exactly
the same to her this morning. By and by two or three others
stroll up, and we all make measurements together. The general
opinion is that there has been a lot of rain in the night, and
that 43 in. in three weeks must be a record. But, anyhow, it is
fairly fine now, and what about a little lawn tennis? Or golf? Or
croquet? Or - -? And so the arrangements for the morning are made.

And they can be made more readily out of doors; for - supposing it
is fine - the fresh air calls you to be doing something, and the
sight of the newly marked tennis lawn fills you with thoughts of
revenge for your accidental defeat the evening before. But
indoors it is so easy to drop into a sofa after breakfast, and,
once there with all the papers, to be disinclined to leave it
till lunch-time. A man or woman as lazy as this must not be
rushed. Say to such a one, "Come and play," and the invitation
will be declined. Say, "Come and look at the pond," and the worst
sluggard will not refuse such gentle exercise. And once he is out
he is out.

All this for those delightful summer days when there are fine
intervals; but consider the advantages of the pond when the rain
streams down in torrents from morning till night. How tired we
get of being indoors on these days, even with the best of books,
the pleasantest of companions, the easiest of billiard tables.
Yet if our hostess were to see us marching out with an umbrella,
how odd she would think us. "Where are you off to?" she would
ask, and we could only answer lamely, "Er - I was just going to -
er - walk about a bit." But now we tell her brightly, "I'm going
to see the pond. It must be nearly full. Won't you come too?" And
with any luck she comes. And you know, it even reconciles us a
little to these streaming days to reflect that it all goes to
fill the pond. For there is ever before our minds that great
moment in the future when the pond is at last full. What will
happen then? Aldenham may know, but we his guests do not. Some
think there will be merely a flood over the surrounding paths and
the kitchen garden, but for myself I believe that we are promised
something much bigger than that. A man with such a broad and
friendly outlook towards rain-gauges will be sure to arrange
something striking when the great moment arrives. Some sort of
fete will help to celebrate it, I have no doubt; with an open-air
play, tank drama, or what not. At any rate we have every hope
that he will empty the pond as speedily as possible so that we
may watch it fill again.

I must say that he has been a little lucky in his choice of a
year for inaugurating the pond. But, all the same, there are now
45 in. of rain in it, 45 in. of rain have fallen in the last
three weeks, and I think that something ought to be done about

A Seventeenth-Century Story

There is a story in every name in that first column of The Times-
-Births, Marriages, and Deaths - down which we glance each
morning, but, unless the name is known to us, we do not bother
about the stories of other people. They are those not very
interesting people, our contemporaries. But in a country
churchyard a name on an old tombstone will set us wondering a
little. What sort of life came to an end there a hundred years

In the parish register we shall find the whole history of them;
when they were born, when they were married, how many children
they had, when they died - a skeleton of their lives which we can
clothe with our fancies and make living again. Simple lives, we
make them, in that pleasant countryside; "Man comes and tills the
field and lies beneath"; that is all. Simple work, simple
pleasures, and a simple death.

Of course we are wrong. There were passions and pains in those
lives; tragedies perhaps. The tombstones and the registers say
nothing of them; or, if they say it, it is in a cypher to which
we have not the key. Yet sometimes the key is almost in our
hands. Here is a story from the register of a village church -
four entries only, but they hide a tragedy which with a little
imagination we can almost piece together for ourselves.

The first entry is a marriage. John Meadowes of Littlehaw Manor,
bachelor, took Mary Field to wife (both of this parish) on 7th
November 1681.

There were no children of the marriage. Indeed, it only lasted a
year. A year later, on l2th November 1682, John died and was

Poor Mary Meadowes was now alone at the Manor. We picture her
sitting there in her loneliness, broken-hearted, refusing to be
comforted. ...

Until we come to the third entry. John has only been in his grave
a month, but here is the third entry, telling us that on l2th
December 1682, Robert Cliff, bachelor, was married to Mary
Meadowes, widow. It spoils our picture of her. ...

And then the fourth entry. It is the fourth entry which reveals
the tragedy, which makes us wonder what is the story hidden away
in the parish register of Littlehaw - the mystery of Littlehaw
Manor. For here is another death, the death of Mary Cliff, and
Mary Cliff died on ... l3th December 1682.

And she was buried in unconsecrated ground. For Mary Cliff (we
must suppose) had killed herself. She had killed herself on the
day after her marriage to her second husband.

Well, what is the story? We shall have to make it up for
ourselves. Here is my rendering of it. I have no means of finding
out if it is the correct one, but it seems to fit itself within
the facts as we know them.

Mary Field was the daughter of well-to-do parents, an only child,
and the most desirable bride, from the worldly point of view, in
the village. No wonder, then, that her parents' choice of a
husband for her fell upon the most desirable bridegroom of the
village - John Meadowes. The Fields' land adjoined Littlehaw
Manor; one day the child of John and Mary would own it all. Let a
marriage, then, be arranged.

But Mary loved Robert Cliff whole-heartedly - Robert, a man of no
standing at all. A ridiculous notion, said her parents, but the
silly girl would grow out of it. She was taken by a handsome
face. Once she was safely wedded to John, she would forget her
foolishness. John might not be handsome, but he was a solid,
steady fellow; which was more - much more, as it turned out - than
could be said for Robert.

So John and Mary married. But she still loved Robert. ...

Did she kill her husband? Did she and Robert kill him together?
Or did she only hasten his death by her neglect of him in some
illness? Did she dare him to ride some devil of a horse which she
knew he could not master; did she taunt him into some foolhardy
feat; or did she deliberately kill him - with or without her
lover's aid? I cannot guess, but of this I am certain. His death
was on her conscience. Directly or indirectly she was responsible
for it - or, at any rate, felt herself responsible for it. But
she would not think of it too closely; she had room for only one
thought in her mind. She was mistress of Littlehaw Manor now, and
free to marry whom she wished. Free, at last, to marry Robert.
Whatever had been done had been worth doing for that.

So she married him. And then - so I read the story - she discovered
the truth. Robert had never loved her. He had wanted to marry the
rich Miss Field, that was all. Still more, he had wanted to marry
the rich Mrs. Meadowes. He was quite callous about it. She might
as well know the truth now as later. It would save trouble in the
future, if she knew.

So Mary killed herself. She had murdered John for nothing.
Whatever her responsibility for John's death, in the bitterness
of that discovery she would call it murder. She had a murder on
her conscience for love's sake - and there was no love. What else
to do but follow John? ...

Is that the story? I wonder.

Our Learned Friends

I do not know why the Bar has always seemed the most respectable
of the professions, a profession which the hero of almost any
novel could adopt without losing caste. But so it is. A
schoolmaster can be referred to contemptuously as an usher; a
doctor is regarded humorously as a licensed murderer; a solicitor
is always retiring to gaol for making away with trust funds, and,
in any case, is merely an attorney; while a civil servant sleeps
from ten to four every day, and is only waked up at sixty in
order to be given a pension. But there is no humorous comment to
be made upon the barrister - unless it is to call him "my learned
friend." He has much more right than the actor to claim to be a
member of the profession. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because
he walks about the Temple in a top-hat.

So many of one's acquaintances at some time or other have "eaten
dinners" that one hardly dares to say anything against the
profession. Besides, one never knows when one may not want to be
defended. However, I shall take the risk, and put the barrister
in the dock. "Gentlemen of the jury, observe this well-dressed
gentleman before you. What shall we say about him?"

Let us begin by asking ourselves what we expect from a
profession. In the first place, certainly, we expect a living,
but I think we want something more than that. If we were offered
a thousand a year to walk from Charing Cross to Barnet every day,
reasons of poverty might compel us to accept the offer, but we
should hardly be proud of our new profession. We should prefer to
earn a thousand a year by doing some more useful work. Indeed, to
a man of any fine feeling the profession of Barnet walking would
only be tolerable if he could persuade himself that by his
exertions he was helping to revive the neglected art of
pedestrianism, or to make more popular the neglected beauties of
Barnet; if he could hope that, after his three- hundredth
journey, inquisitive people would begin to follow him, wondering
what he was after, and so come suddenly upon the old Norman
church at the cross-roads, or, if they missed this, at any rate
upon a much better appetite for their dinner. That is to say, he
would have to persuade himself that he was walking, not only for
himself, but also for the community.

It seems to me, then, that a profession is a noble or an ignoble
one, according as it offers or denies to him who practises it the
opportunity of working for some other end than his own
advancement. A doctor collects fees from his patients, but he is
aiming at something more than pounds, shillings, and pence; he is
out to put an end to suffering. A schoolmaster earns a living by
teaching, but he does not feel that he is fighting only for
himself; he is a crusader on behalf of education. The artist,
whatever his medium, is giving a message to the world, expressing
the truth as he sees it; for his own profit, perhaps, but not for
that alone. All these and a thousand other ways of living have
something of nobility in them. We enter them full of high
resolves. We tell ourselves that we will follow the light as it
has been revealed to us; that our ideals shall never be lowered;
that we will refuse to sacrifice our principles to our interests.
We fail, of course. The painter finds that "Mother's Darling"
brings in the stuff, and he turns out Mother's Darlings
mechanically. The doctor neglects research and cultivates instead
a bedside manner. The schoolmaster drops all his theories of
education and conforms hastily to those of his employers. We
fail, but it is not because the profession is an ignoble one; we
had our chances. Indeed, the light is still there for those who
look. It beckons to us.

Now what of the Bar? Is the barrister after anything other than
his own advancement? He follows what gleam? What are his ideals?
Never mind whether he fails more often or less often than others
to attain them; I am not bothering about that. I only want to
know what it is that he is after. In the quiet hours when we are
alone with ourselves and there is nobody to tell us what fine
fellows we are, we come sometimes upon a weak moment in which we
wonder, not how much money we are earning, nor how famous we are
becoming, but what good we are doing. If a barrister ever has
such a moment, what is his consolation? It can only be that he is
helping Justice to be administered. If he is to be proud of his
profession, and in that lonely moment tolerant of himself, he
must feel that he is taking a noble part in the vindication of
legal right, the punishment of legal wrong. But he must do more
than this. Just as the doctor, with increased knowledge and
experience, becomes a better fighter against disease, advancing
himself, no doubt, but advancing also medical science; just as
the schoolmaster, having learnt new and better ways of teaching,
can now give a better education to his boys, increasing thereby
the sum of knowledge; so the barrister must be able to tell
himself that the more expert he becomes as an advocate, the
better will he be able to help in the administration of this
Justice which is his ideal.

Can he tell himself this? I do not see how he can. His increased
expertness will be of increased service to himself, of increased
service to his clients, but no ideal will be the better served by
reason of it. Let us take a case - Smith v. Jones. Counsel is
briefed for Smith. After examining the case he tells himself in
effect this: "As far as I can see, the Law is all on the other
side. Luckily, however, sentiment is on our side. Given an
impressionable jury, there's just a chance that we might pull it
off. It's worth trying." He tries, and if he is sufficiently
expert he pulls it off. A triumph for himself, but what has
happened to the ideal? Did he even think, "Of course I'm bound to
do the best for my client, but he's in the wrong, and I hope we
lose?" I imagine not. The whole teaching of the Bar is that he
must not bother about justice, but only about his own victory.
What ultimately, then, is he after? What does the Bar offer its
devotees - beyond material success?

I asked just now what were a barrister's ideals. Suppose we ask
instead, What is the ideal barrister? If one spoke loosely of an
ideal doctor, one would not necessarily mean a titled gentleman
in Harley Street. An ideal schoolmaster is not synonymous with
the Headmaster of Eton or the owner of the most profitable
preparatory school. But can there be an ideal barrister other
than a successful barrister? The eager young writer, just
beginning a literary career, might fix his eyes upon Francis
Thompson rather than upon Sir Hall Caine; the eager young
clergyman might dream dreams over the Life of Father Damien more
often than over the Life of the Archbishop of Canterbury; but to
what star can the eager young barrister hitch his wagon, save to
the star of material success? If he does not see himself as Sir
Edward Carson, it is only because he thinks that perhaps after
all Sir John Simon's manner is the more effective.

There may be other answers to the questions I have asked than the
answers I have given, but it is no answer to ask me how the law
can be administered without barristers. I do not know; nor do I
know how the roads can be swept without getting somebody to sweep
them. But that would not disqualify me from saying that road-
sweeping was an unattractive profession. So also I am entitled to
my opinion about the Bar, which is this. That because it offers
material victories only and never spiritual ones, that because
there can be no standard by which its disciples are judged save
the earthly standard, that because there is no place within its
ranks for the altruist or the idealist - for these reasons the Bar
is not one of the noble professions.

A Word for Autumn

Last night the waiter put the celery on with the cheese, and I
knew that summer was indeed dead. Other signs of autumn there may
be - the reddening leaf, the chill in the early-morning air, the
misty evenings - but none of these comes home to me so truly.
There may be cool mornings in July; in a year of drought the
leaves may change before their time; it is only with the first
celery that summer is over.

I knew all along that it would not last. Even in April I was
saying that winter would soon be here. Yet somehow it had begun
to seem possible lately that a miracle might happen, that summer
might drift on and on through the months - a final upheaval to
crown a wonderful year. The celery settled that. Last night with
the celery autumn came into its own.

There is a crispness about celery that is of the essence of
October. It is as fresh and clean as a rainy day after a spell of
heat. It crackles pleasantly in the mouth. Moreover it is
excellent, I am told, for the complexion. One is always hearing
of things which are good for the complexion, but there is no
doubt that celery stands high on the list. After the burns and
freckles of summer one is in need of something. How good that
celery should be there at one's elbow.

A week ago - ("A little more cheese, waiter") - a week ago I
grieved for the dying summer. I wondered how I could possibly
bear the waiting - the eight long months till May. In vain to
comfort myself with the thought that I could get through more
work in the winter undistracted by thoughts of cricket grounds
and country houses. In vain, equally, to tell myself that I could
stay in bed later in the mornings. Even the thought of after-
breakfast pipes in front of the fire left me cold. But now,
suddenly, I am reconciled to autumn. I see quite clearly that all
good things must come to an end. The summer has been splendid,
but it has lasted long enough. This morning I welcomed the chill
in the air; this morning I viewed the falling leaves with
cheerfulness; and this morning I said to myself, "Why, of course,
I'll have celery for lunch." ("More bread, waiter.") "Season of
mists and mellow fruitfulness," said Keats, not actually picking
out celery in so many words, but plainly including it in the
general blessings of the autumn. Yet what an opportunity he
missed by not concentrating on that precious root. Apples,
grapes, nuts, and vegetable marrows he mentions specially - and
how poor a selection! For apples and grapes are not typical of
any month, so ubiquitous are they, vegetable marrows are
vegetables pour rire and have no place in any serious
consideration of the seasons, while as for nuts, have we not a
national song which asserts distinctly, "Here we go gathering
nuts in May"? Season of mists and mellow celery, then let it be.
A pat of butter underneath the bough, a wedge of cheese, a loaf
of bread and - Thou.

How delicate are the tender shoots unfolded layer by layer. Of
what, a whiteness is the last baby one of all, of what a
sweetness his flavour. It is well that this should be the last
rite of the meal - finis coronat opus - so that we may go straight
on to the business of the pipe. Celery demands a pipe rather than
a cigar, and it can be eaten better in an inn or a London tavern
than in the home. Yes, and it should be eaten alone, for it is
the only food which one really wants to hear oneself eat.
Besides, in company one may have to consider the wants of others.
Celery is not a thing to share with any man. Alone in your
country inn you may call for the celery; but if you are wise you
will see that no other traveller wanders into the room. Take
warning from one who has learnt a lesson. One day I lunched alone
at an inn, finishing with cheese and celery. Another traveller
came in and lunched too. We did not speak - I was busy with my
celery. From the other end of the table he reached across for the
cheese. That was all right; it was the public cheese. But he also
reached across for the celery - my private celery for which I
owed. Foolishly - you know how one does - I had left the sweetest
and crispest shoots till the last, tantalizing myself pleasantly
with the thought of them. Horror! to see them snatched from me by
a stranger. He realized later what he had done and apologized,
but of what good is an apology in such circumstances? Yet at
least the tragedy was not without its value. Now one remembers to
lock the door.

Yes, I can face the winter with calm. I suppose I had forgotten
what it was really like. I had been thinking of the winter as a
horrid wet, dreary time fit only for professional football. Now I
can see other things - crisp and sparkling days, long pleasant
evenings, cheery fires. Good work shall be done this winter. Life
shall be lived well. The end of the summer is not the end of the
world. Here's to October - and, waiter, some more celery.

A Christmas Number

The common joke against the Christmas number is that it is
planned in July and made up in September. This enables it to be
published in the middle of November and circulated in New Zealand
by Christmas. If it were published in England at Christmas, New
Zealand wouldn't get it till February. Apparently it is more
important that the colonies should have it punctually than that
we should.

Anyway, whenever it is made up, all journalists hate the
Christmas number. But they only hate it for one reason - this
being that the ordinary weekly number has to be made up at the
same time. As a journalist I should like to devote the autumn
exclusively to the Christmas number, and as a member of the
public I should adore it when it came out. Not having been asked
to produce such a number on my own I can amuse myself here by
sketching out a plan for it. I follow the fine old tradition.
First let us get the stories settled. Story No. 1 deals with the
escaped convict. The heroine is driving back from the country-
house ball, where she has had two or three proposals, when
suddenly, in the most lonely part of the snow-swept moor, a
figure springs out of the ditch and covers the coachman with a
pistol. Alarms and confusions. "Oh, sir," says the heroine,
"spare my aunt and I will give you all my jewels." The convict,
for such it is, staggers back. "Lucy!" he cries. "Harold!" she
gasps. The aunt says nothing, for she has swooned. At this point
the story stops to explain how Harold came to be in
knickerbockers. He had either been falsely accused or else he had
been a solicitor. Anyhow, he had by this time more than paid for
his folly, and Lucy still loved him. "Get in," she says, and
drives him home. Next day he leaves for New Zealand in an
ordinary lounge suit. Need I say that Lucy joins him later? No;
that shall be left for your imagination. The End.

So much for the first story. The second is an "i'-faith-and-stap-
me" story of the good old days. It is not seasonable, for most of
the action takes place in my lord's garden amid the scent of
roses; but it brings back to us the old romantic days when
fighting and swearing were more picturesque than they are now,
and when women loved and worked samplers. This sort of story can
be read best in front of the Christmas log; it is of the past,
and comes naturally into a Christmas number. I shall not describe
its plot, for that is unimportant; it is the "stap me's" and the
"la, sirs," which matter. But I may say that she marries him all
right in the end, and he goes off happily to the wars.

We want another story. What shall this one be about? It might be
about the amateur burglar, or the little child who reconciled old
Sir John to his daughter's marriage, or the ghost at Enderby
Grange, or the millionaire's Christmas dinner, or the accident to
the Scotch express. Personally, I do not care for any of these;
my vote goes for the desert-island story. Proud Lady Julia has
fallen off the deck of the liner, and Ronald, refused by her that
morning, dives off the hurricane deck - or the bowsprit or
wherever he happens to be - and seizes her as she is sinking for
the third time. It is a foggy night and their absence is
unnoticed. Dawn finds them together on a little coral reef. They
are in no danger, for several liners are due to pass in a day or
two and Ronald's pockets are full of biscuits and chocolate, but
it is awkward for Lady Julia, who had hoped that they would never
meet again. So they sit on the beach back to back (drawn by Dana
Gibson) and throw sarcastic remarks over their shoulders at each
other. In the end he tames her proud spirit - I think by hiding
the turtles' eggs from her - and the next liner but one takes the
happy couple back to civilization.

But it is time we had some poetry. I propose to give you one
serious poem about robins, and one double-page humorous piece,

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