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me what you meant to do with our life ? "

"With my life? What 's the use ? It's
finished now." Sophie looked up quickly
from the Bay of Naples. " As far as busi-
ness goes. I shall have to live on my rents
like that architect at San Moritz."

" You '11 get better if you don't worry ;
and even if it takes time, there are worse
things than— How much have you ? "

" Between four and five million ; but it
is n't the money. You know it is n't. It *s
the principle. How could you respect me ?
You never did, the first year after we mar-
ried, till I went to business like the others.
Our tradition and upbringing are against
it. We can't accept those ideals."



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"Well, I suppose I married you for
some sort of ideal," she answered, and
they retiuned to their forty-third hotel.

In England they missed the alien tongues
of Continental streets that reminded them
of their own polyglot cities. In England
all men spoke one tongue, speciously like
American to the ear, but on cross-exami-
nation incomprehensible.

" Ah, but you have not seen England,"
said a lady with iron-gray hair. They had
met her in Vienna, Florence, and Bayreuth,
and were grateful to find her again at Cla-
ridge's, for she commanded situations, and
knew where prescriptions are most care-
fully made up. "You ought to take an
interest in the home of our ancestors— -as
I do."

" I Ve tried for a week, Mrs. Shonts,"
said Sophie. " But I never get any further
than tipping German waiters."

"These are not the true type," Mrs.
Shonts went on. "I know where you
should go."

Chapin pricked up his ears, anxious to
run anywhere from the streets on which
quick men something of his kidney did the
business denied to him.

" We hear and we obey, Mrs. Shonts,"
said Sophie, feeling his unrest as he drank
the loathed British tea.

Mrs. Shonts smiled and took them in
hand. She wrote widely and telegraphed
far on their behalf, till, armed with her letter
of introduction, «he drove them into that
wilderness which is reached from an ash-
barrel of a station called Charing Cross.
They were to go to Rocketts,— the farm of
one Cloke, in the southern counties,—
where she assured them they would meet
the genuine England of folk-lore and song.

Rocketts they found after some hours,
four miles from a station, and, so far as they
could judge in the bumpy darkness, twice
as many from a road. Trees, kine, and the
outlines of bams showed shadowy about
them when they alighted, and Mr. and
Mrs. Cloke, at the open door of a deep
stone-floored kitchen, made them shyly
welcome. They lay in an attic beneath a
wavy whitewashed ceiling, and because it
rained, a wood fire was made in an iron
basket on a brick hearth, and they fell
asleep to the chirping of mice and the
whimper of flames.

When they woke it was a fair day, full



of the noises of birds, the smell of box,
lavender, and fried bacon, mixed with an
elemental scent they had never met be-
fore.

" This," said Sophie, nearly pushing out
the thin casement in an attempt to see
round the comer, " is— what did the hack —
cabman say to the railway porter last night
about my trunk— 'quite on the top ' ? "

"No; 'a little bit of all right' I feel
farther away from anywhere than I 've
been in my life. We must find out where
the telegraph office is."

" Who cares ? " said Sophie, wandering
about, hair-brush in hand, to admire the
illustrated weekly pictures pasted on door
and cupboard.

But there was no rest for the Ameri-
can's soul till he had made sure of the tele-
graph office. He asked the Clokes* daugh-
ter, lajring breakfast, while Sophie plunged
her face in the lavender-bush outside the
low window.

" Go to the stile a-top o' the Bara field,"
said Mary, "and look across Pardons to
the next spire. It 's directly under. You
can't miss it— not if you keep to the foot-
path. My sister 's telegraphist there. But
you 're in the three-mile radius, sir. The
boy delivers telegrams directly to the door
from Pardons village."

" One has to take a good deal on trust
in this country," he miumured.

Sophie looked at the close turf, scarred
only with last night's wheels, at two ruts
which wound round a rickyard, and at the
circle of still orchard about the half-tim-
bered house.

" What 's the matter with it ? " she said.
" Telegrams delivered to the Vale of A va-
lon, of course " ; and she beckoned in an
eamest-eyed hound of fascinating manners
and no engagements, who answered, at
times, to the name of Rambler. He led
them, after breakfast, to the rise behind the
house where the stile stood against the
sky-line, and " I wonder what we shall find
now," said Sophie, frankly prancing with
joy on the grass.

It was a slope of gap-hedged fields pos-
sessed to their centers by clumps of bram-
bles. Gates were not, and the rabbit-
mined, cattle-rubbed posts leaned out and
in. A narrow path doubled among the
bushes, scores of white tails twinkled be-
fore the racing hound, and a hawk rose
whistling shrilly.



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" No roads, no nothing ! " said Sophie,
her skirt caught by briers. " I thought all
England was a garden. There *s your
spire, George, across the valley. How
curious ! "

They walked toward it through an all-
abandoned land. Here they found the
ghost of a patch of lucerne that had re-
fused to die ; there a harsh fallow surren-
dered to yard-high thistles; and here a
breadth of rampant kelk feigning to be law-
ful crop. In the ungrazed pastures swaths
of dead stuff caught their feet, and the
ground beneath glistened with sweat. At
the bottom of the valley a little brook had
undermined its foot-bridge and frothed in
the wreckage. But there stood great woods
on the slopes beyond— old, tall, and bril-
liant, like unfaded tapestries about the
walls of a ruined house.

"All this within a hundred miles of
London," he said. " Looks as if it had
had nervous prostration, too." The foot-
path turned the shoulder of a slope, through
a thicket of rank rhododendrons, and
crossed what had once been a carriage-
drive, which ended in the shadow of two
gigantic holm-oaks.

" A house ! " said Sophie, in a whisper.
"A Colonial house!"

Behind the blue-green of the twin trees
rose a dark-bluish brick Georgian pile,
with a shell-shaped fan-light over its pil-
lared door. The hound had gone off on
his own foolish quests. Except for some
stir in the branches and the flight of four
startled magpies, there was not life nor
sound about the square house, but it looked
out of its long windows most friendlily.

"Cha-armed to meet you, I 'm sure,"
said Sophie, and curtsied to the ground.
" George, this is history I can understand.
We began here." She curtsied again.

The June sunshine twinkled on all the
lights. It was as though an old lady, wise
in three generations* experience, but for
the present sitting out, bent to listen to
her flushed and eager grandchild.

" I must look." Sophie tiptoed to a win-
dow and shaded her eyes with her hand.
" Oh, this room 's half full of cotton bales-
wool, I suppose! But I can see a bit of
a mantelpiece. George, do come!— Is n*t
that some one ? "

She fell back behind her husband. The
front door* opened slowly to show the
hoimd, his nose white with buttermilk, in



charge of an ancient of days clad in a
blue linen ephod, curiously gathered on
breast and shoulders.

" Certainly," said George, half aloud.
" Father Time himself. This is where he
lives, Sophie."

" We came," said Sophie, weakly. " Can
we see the house ? I *m afraid that 's our
dog."

" No ; *t is Rambler," said the old man.
"He *ve been in my dairy again. Staying
at Rocketts, be ye ? Come in. Ah ! You
runagate ! "

The hound broke from him, and he tot-
tered after it down the drive. They en-
tered the hall— just such a high, light hall
as such a house should own. A slim, bal-
ustered staircase, wide and shallow and
once creamy- white, climbed out of it, under
a long oval window. On either side deli-
cately molded doors gave on to wool-
Itmibered rooms whose sea-green mantel-
pieces were adorned with nymphs, scrolls,
and cupids in low relief.

"What 's the firm that makes these
things ? " cried Sophie, enraptured. " Oh,
I forgot! These must be our originals.
Adams? I never dreamed of anything
like that cut-steel fender. — ^Does he mean
us to go everywhere ? "

" He *s catching the dog," said George,
looking out. " We don't count."

They explored the first or ground floor,
delighted as children playing burglars.

"This is like all England," she said at
last. "Wonderful, but no explanation.
You 're expected to know it beforehand.
Now let 's try up-stairs."

The stairs never creaked under their
feet. From the broad landing they en-
tered a long, green-paneled room lighted
by three full-length windows, which over-
looked the forlorn wreck of a terraced
garden and wooded slopes beyond.

" The drawing-room, of course." Sophie
swam up and down it. "That mantel-
piece— Orpheus and Eurydice— is the best
of them all. Is n't it marvelous? Why,
the room seems furnished with nothing in
it ! How 's that, George ? "

" It 's the proportions. I Ve noticed it."

" I saw a Heppelwhite couch once — "
Sophie laid her finger to her flushed cheek
and considered. " With two of them— one
on each side— you would n't need any-
thing else. Except — there must be one
perfect mirror over that mantelpiece."



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"Look at that view. It 's a framed
Constable," her husband cried.

" No. It 's a Morland— a parody of a
Morland. But about that couch, George.
Don't you think Empire might be better
than Heppel white? Dull gold against
that pale green ? It *s a pity they don't
make spinets nowadays.'*

" I believe you can get them. Look at
that oak wood behind the pines ! "

"'While you sat and played toccatas
stately at the clavichord/ " Sophie hummed
and, head on one side, nodded to where
the perfect mirror should hang.

Then they found bedrooms with dressing-
rooms and powdering- closets and steps
leading up and down— boxes of rooms,
round, square, and octagonal, with enriched
ceilings and chased door-locks.

" Now about servants. Oh ! " She had
darted up the last stairs to the checkered
darkness of the top floor, where loose tiles
lay among broken laths, and the walls
were scrawled with names, sentiments, and
hop records. "They 've been keeping
pigeons here," she cried.

" And you could drive a buggy through
the roof anywhere," said George.

"That 's what / say," the old man
cried below them on the stairs. "Not a
dry place for my pigeons at all."

" But why was it allowed to get like
this ? " said Sophie.

" 'T is with housen as teeth," he replied.
" Let 'em go too far and there 's nothing
to be done. Time was they was minded to
sell her, but none would buy. She was too
far away along from any place. Time was
they 'd ha' lived here theyselves, but they
took and died."

" Here ? " Sophie moved beneath the
light of a hole in the roof.

" Nah— none dies here excep' fallin' off
ricks and such. In London they died."
He plucked a lock of wool from his blue
smock. " They was no staple — neither the
Elphicks nor the Moones. Shart and brittle
all of 'em. Dead they be seventeen year,
for I 've been here caretakin* twenty-five."

" Who does all the wool belong to down-
stairs ? " George asked.

" To the estate. I '11 show ye the back
parts if ye like. You 're from America,
ain't ye? I 've had a son thefe once
myself." They followed him down the
main stairway. He paused at the tirni
and swept one hand toward the wall.



" Plenty room here for your coffin to come
down. Seven foot and three men at each
end would n't brish the paint If I die in
my bed, they '11 *ave to up-end me like a
milk-can. *T is all luck, d' ye see."

He led them on and on through a maze
of back-kitchens, dairies, larders, and scul-
leries, that melted along covered ways into
a farm-house, visibly older than the main
building, which again rambled out among
barns, bjrres, pig-pens, stalls, and stables
to the dead fields behind.

"Somehow," said Sophie, sitting ex-
hausted on an ancient well-curb— "some-
how one would n't insult these lovely old
things by filling them with hay."

George looked at long stone walls up-
holding reaches of silvery-oak weather-
boarding; buttresses of mixed flint and
bricks; outside stairs, stone upon arched
stone; curves of thatch where grass
sprouted; roundels of house-leeked tiles,
and a huge paved yard populated by two
cows and the repentant Rambler. He had
not thought of himself or of the telegraph
office for two and a half hours.

" But why," said Sophie, as they went
back through the crater of stricken fields—
" why is one expected to know everything
in England ? Why do they never tell ? "

" You mean about the Elphicks and the
Moones ? " he answered.

" Yes— and the lawyers and the estate.
Who are they?— I wonder whether those
painted floors in the green room were real
oak. Don't you like us exploring things
together— better than Pompeii ? "

George turned once more to look at the
view. " Eight hundred acres go with the
house— the old man told me. Five farms
altogether. Rocketts is one of 'em."

" I like Mrs. Cloke. But what is the old
house called ? "

George laughed. "That 's one of the
things you 're expected to know. He never
told me."

The Clokes were mote communicative.
That evening and thereafter for a week
they gave the Chapins the official history,
as one tells it to lodgers, of Friars Pardon
— the hoase and its five farms. But Sophie
asked so many questions, and George was
so humanly interested, that, as confidence
in the alien grew, they launched, with ob-
served and acquired detail, into the lives
and deaths and doings of the Elphicks
and the Moones and their collaterals, the



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Haylings and the Torrells. It was a tale
told serially by Cloke in the bam or his
wife in the dairy, the last chapters reserved
for the kitchen o* nights by the big lire,
when the two had been half the day ex-
ploring about the house, where old Ig-
gulden, of the blue smock, cackled and
chuckled to see them. The motives that
swayed the characters were beyond their
comprehension ; the fates that shifted them
were gods they had never met; the side-
lights Mrs. Cloke threw on act and inci-
dent were more amazing than an3rthing in
the record. Therefore the Chapins listened
delightedly and blessed Mrs. Shonts.

"But why — why— w/[;'— did so-and-so
do so-and-so?" Sophie would demand
from her seat by the pothook ; and Mrs.
Cloke would answer, smoothing her knees,
" For the sake of the place."

" I give it up," said George one night
in their own room. " People don't seem
to matter in this cotmtry beside the places
they live in. ITie way she tells it, Friars
Pardon was a sort of Moloch."

" Poor old thing ! " They had been walk-
ing round the farms as usual before tea.
"No wonder they loved it. Think of the
sacrifices they made for it. Jane Elphick
married the yoimger Torrell to keep it in
the family. That octagonal room with the
molded ceiling next to the big bedroom
was hers. Now what did he tell you while
he was feeding the pigs ? " said Sophie.

"About the Torrell cousins and the
uncle who died in Java. They lived at
Burnt House— behind High Pardons,
where that brook is all blocked up."

" No ; Burnt House is under High Par-
dons Wood, before you come to Gale An-
stey," Sophie corrected.

"Well, >4^ said-"

Sophie threw open the door and called
into the kitchen, where the Clokes were
covering the fire :

" Mrs. Cloke, is n*t Burnt House under
High Pardons?"

"Yes, my dear, of course," the soft
voice answered absently. A cough. "I
beg your pardon, madam. What was it
you said ? "

"Never mind. I prefer it the other
way," Sophie laughed, and George retold
the missing chapter as she sat on the
bed.

" Here to-day an' gone to-morrow," said
Cloke, wamingly. "They Ve paid their



first month, but we 've only that Mrs.
Shonts* letter for guarantee."

" None she sent never cheated us yet.
It slipped out before I thought. She 's a
most humane yoimg lady. They '11 be go-
ing away in a little. An* you 've talked a
lot, too, Alfred."

"Yes, but the Elphicks are all dead.
No one can bring my loose talking home
to me. But why do they stay on and stay
on so ? "

In due time George and Sophie asked
each other that question and put it aside.
They argued that the climate— a pearly
blend, unlike the hot and cold ferocities of
their native land— stdted them, as the
thick stillness of the nights certainly suited
George. He was saved even the sight of
a metaled road, which, as presimiably
leading to business, wakes desire in a man ;
and the telegraph office at the village of
Friars Pardon, where they sold picture
post-cards and peg-tops, was two walking
miles across the fields and woods. For all
that touched his past among his fellows,
or their remembrance of him, he might
have been in another planet ; and Sophie,
whose past had been very largely spent
among husbandless wives of lofty ideals,
had no wish to leave this present of God.
The unhurried meals, the foreknowledge
of deliciously empty hours to follow, the
breadths of soft sky under which they
walked together and reckoned time only
by their hunger or thirst, the good grass
beneath their feet that cheated the miles ;
their discoveries, always together, amid
the farms — Griff ons, Rocketts, Burnt
House, Gale Anstey, and the Home Farm
where Iggulden of the blue smock-frock
would waylay them, and they would ran-
sack the old house once more; the long
wet afternoons when they tucked up their
feet on the bedroom's deep window-sill
over against the apple-trees, and talked to-
gether as never till then had they found
time to talk— these things contented her
soul, and her body throve.

" Have you realized," she asked, " that
we 've been here absolutely alone for the
last thirty-four days ? "

" Have you counted them ?" he said.

" Did you like them ? " she replied.

"I must have. I did n't think about
them. Yes, I have. Six months ago I
should have fretted myself sick. Remem-
ber at Cairo ? I 've only had two or three



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bad times. Am I getting better, or is it
senile decay ? "

" Climate, all climate." Sophie swimg her
new-bought English boots, as she sat on
the stile overlooking Friars Pardon, be-
hind the Clokes' bam.

" One must take hold of things, though,"
he said, " if it 's only to keep one's hand
in." His eyes did not flicker now as they
swept the empty fields. " Must n't one ? "

" Lay out a Morristown links over Gale
Anstey. I dare say you could hire it."

" No ; I 'm not as English as that— nor
as Morristown. Cloke says all the farms
here could be made to pay," he mur-
mured.

" Well, I 'm Anastasia in * The Treasure of
Franchard.' I 'm content to be alive and
purr. There 's no hurry."

" No." He smiled. " All the same, I 'm
going to attend to my mail."

"You promised you would n't have
any."

" There 's some business coming through
that 's amusing me. Honest. It does n't
get on my nerves at all."

" Want a secretary ? "

" No, thanks, old thing ! Is n't that quite
English?"

"Too English! Go away." But none
the less in broad daylight she returned the
kiss. "I 'm off to Pardons. I have n't
been to the house for nearly a week."

" How 've you decided to furnish Jane
Elphick's bedroom ? " he laughed, for it
had come to be a permanent Castle in
Spain between them.

" Black Chinese furniture and yellow silk
brocade," she answered, and ran downhill.
She scattered a few cows at a gap with
a floiuish of a ground-ash that Iggulden
had cut for her a week ago, and, singing
as she passed under the holm-oaks, sought
the farm-house at the back of Friars Par-
don. The old man was not to be found,
and she knocked on his half -opened door,
for she needed him to fill her idle fore-
noon. A blue-eyed sheep-dog, a new friend
and Rambler's old enemy, crawled out
and besought her to enter.

Iggulden sat in his chair by the fire, a
thistle-spud between his knees, his head
drooped. Though she had never seen
death before, her heart, that missed a beat,
told her that he was dead. She did not
speak or cry, but stood without the door,
and the dog licked her hand. When he



threw up his nose, she heard herself say-
ing : " Don't howl ! Please don't begin to
howl, Scottie, or I shall run away ! " -

She held her ground while the shadows
in the rickyard moved toward noon ; sat
after a while on the steps by the door, her
arms round the dog's neck, waiting till
some one should come. She watched the
smokeless chimneys of Friars Pardon slash
its roofs with shadow, and the smoke of
Iggulden's last lighted fire gradually thin
and cease. Against her will she fell to
wondering how many Moones, Elphicks,
and Torrells had been swung round the
turn of the broad hall stairs. Then she re-
membered the old man's fear of being
" up-ended like a milk-can," and buried her
face on Scottie's neck. At last a horse's
feet clinked upon flags, rustled in the old
gray straw of the rickyard, and she found
herself facing the vicar— a figure she had
seen at church declaiming impossibilities
(Sophie was a Unitarian) in an unnatural
voice.

" He 's dead ! " she said without preface.

"Old Iggulden? I was coming for a
talk with him." He passed in, uncovered.
" Ah," she heard him say. " Heart ! How
long have you been here ? "

" Since a quarter to eleven." She looked
at her watch earnestly, and saw that her
hand did not shake.

" I '11 sit with him now till the doctor
comes. D* you think you could tell him,
and— yes, Mrs. Betts in the cottage with
the wistaria next the blacksmith's? I 'm
afraid this has been rather a shock to
you."

Sophie nodded, and fled toward the vil-
lage. Her body failed her for a moment ;
she dropped beneath a hedge and looked
back at the great house. In some fashion
its silence and stolidity steadied her for
her errand.

Mrs. Betts, small, black-eyed, and dark,
was almost as unconcerned as Friars
Pardon.

" Yiss, yiss, of course. Dear me I Well,
Iggulden he had had his day in my father's
time. Muriel, get me my little black bag,
please. Yiss, miss. They come down like
ellum-branches in still weather. No warn-
in* at all. Muriel, my bicycle 's be'ind the
hen-house. I '11 tell Dr. Dallas, ma'am."

She trundled off on her wheel like a
brown bee, while Sophie— heaven above
and earth beneath changed— walked



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stiffly home, to fall over George at his
letters in a muddle of laughter and tears.

" It 's all quite natural for them** she
gasped. "They come down like ellum-
branches in still weather. Yiss, miss.—
No, there was n't cmything in the least
horrible, only— only— Oh, George, that
poor shiny stick of his between his poor
thin knees ! I could n't have borne it if
Scottie had howled.— I did n't know the
vicar was so— so sensitive. He said he
was afraid it was ra-rather a shock. Mrs.
Betts told me to go home, and I wanted
to collapse on her floor. But I did n't
disgrace myself.— I — I could n't have left
him— could I?"

" You 're sure you 've took no 'arm ? "
cried Mrs. Cloke, who had heard the news
by farm-telegraphy, which is older but
swifter than Marconi's.

" No ; I 'm perfectly well," Sophie pro-
tested.

"You lay down till tea-time." Mrs.
Cloke patted her shoulder. " TTiey *ll be
very pleased, though she 'as 'ad no imder-
standin' for twenty years."

" ITiey " came before twilight— a black-
bearded man, in moleskins, and a little pal-
sied old woman who chirruped like a wren.

" I 'm his son," said the man to Sophie,
among the lavender-bushes. "We 'ad a
difference— twenty year back. But I 'm
his son all the same, and we thank you for
the watching."

"I 'm only glad I happened to be
there," she answered, and from the bottom
of her heart she meant it.

"He spoke a lot o' you — one time an'
another since you came. We thank you
kindly," the man added.

" Are you the son that was in America ? "
she asked.

"Yes, ma'am. On my uncle's farm, in
Connecticut He was what they call road-
master there."

" Whereabouts in Connecticut ? " asked
George, over her shoulder.



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