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" You and Eunice must amuse each other to-day. Rey-
nolds won't let me get up. Reynolds is growing into a
tyrant. I have given in to her too much, but I will change
all that when we get back to Marley."



Desmond thought she remained in bed because she wanted
to leave the sitting-room of the hotel free for them, it was a
wet day and they did not need to go out.

At Marley great preparations were being made. Andrew
came up to the hotel in the afternoon and told her all the
details. Already the town was decorated, and the village gay
with bunting; triumphal arches had been erected and the
carriage would be drawn up to the Court by men, not horses.

"He knows nothing about it?" Andrew asked.

" Nothing definite. I think a liint may have reached him,
for he suggested just now we should go by the morning instead
of the afternoon train."

Then she told her good news.

"We planned and planned, like fools. But Providence
planned better."

Andrew did not think they had planned like fools, Michael
would have made a good husband to the girl, and looked after
the estate.

" She will never know anything of that episode in his life,"
Agatha went on contentedly.

" You still think that wise? "

"You should see their happiness together. Then you
would not question the wisdom. If she thought she had not
always been first with him "

" But supposing it came out ? "

" It never will come out. The woman was well paid, she
has nothing to gain by revealing it. Besides, they will settle
down at Marley. She will never seek him out there."

Lady Grindelay was impatient of a doubt cast upon the
wisdom of her decision, and Andrew had no desire to vex her.
She told him of Desmond's wish, and her own, that there
should be no undue delay, and gave him promptly, and as if
she had it all cut and dried, the instructions for settlements.
Desmond must, of course, be master of the estate, but Eunice
was to have her jointure.

" You seem to have thought it well over.''

Andrew was struck by her precision, by the clearness of
her instructions.


" I have thought of nothing else since I knew he had been

They went dovra to Marley the next day. In the train
Lady Grindelay told Desmond something of what he might
expect on his arrival, she did not wish him to be wholly un-
prepared. He had been already struck by the number of
Marley faces he had seen on the platform at Paddington, and
the way they had seemed to surround them. He fumed over
what she told him nevertheless, and said " What rot ! "

"I am sure you will bear yourself becomingly, if your
tenants or your neighbours wish to do you honour.'^

" It is such avrful rot," he repeated.

But Eunice agreed with his mother that it was only fitting
a reception should be given him.

" I am not expected to make a speech, am I ? ''

" If there is an address you will certainly have to reply."

" Good lord, mother, you don't mean to say there is likely
to be anything of that sort ! I feel like dropping out of the
train before it gets to Marley. I had no idea — ^you'll stand
by me, won't you? It's worse than going into action." He
got quite red.

And notwithstanding all they told liim he was not pre-
pared to find the station hung with flags and decorated
with bunting, to see the mayor in his robes on the platform
accompanied by a deputation, to have a little girl dressed in
white, the daughter of one of the town councillors, holding
out a basket of flowers to him shyly.

" But this isn't for me ? " he said.

She was small and bewildered, standing there, holding
the flowers out to him. He took the offering and passed it
on to his mother.

There was quite a crowd on the platform, and that seemed
the signal for a burst of cheering. All at once he found him-
self listening to that address he had feared; his mother and
Eunice on either side of him, and the men he had seen at
Paddington formed up behind him. The address was very
short. The mayor said his fellow-citizens had turned out to
welcome him home, because he had not only " covered himself


with glor}% but had brought honour to their town." Then he
said a word about those who had been left behind.

A sudden thought of Eric Elphinstone came to Desmond,
and he brushed his hand against his eyes.

" Those who had been left hehind."

He did not hear much more of the address after that.
He caught a word or two about his mother, and what she
represented, the old order that was passing away; feudalism.
The mayor and Lady Grindelay had met over many a relief
fund and work of charity; feudalism was the root word in
their vocabulary of social service.

"Little Marley is a model village; Great Marley owes
much to her benefactions. You are the worthy son of a most
worthy mother. She must be proud of you, and we, too, are
proud that you are our fellow-citizen. . , ."

Now Desmond found himself stammering out a few words
of thanks. He caught sight of Sir John and Lady Campden.
If it had not been for that, he thought, he could have ac-
quitted himself better. He would never see their cheery boys

" I didn't do anything different from the other fellows,
I only had better luck. If I've been any good at all to — ^to
the Empire, as you say, it's because of my mother. She —
she always thought such a lot of England." He knew he was
making an unmitigated ass of himself. He turned to the
men behind him in their khaki uniforms. " The honours, and
all that, should be for these chaps, not for me, not for the
officers. They followed us anywhere we led and fought like
heroes. It was they who did all the fighting."

" If we'd always had leaders like you ! " one of the men
said grufHy.

" I needn't say any more, need I ? " Desmond asked his
mother quickly. "We can get on now, can't we? Thank
you, and thank you again."

He drew her hand through his arm, and tried to pass. But
everyone wanted to shake hands with him, to say a personal
word. In his blue serge suit, with his bronzed face and blue
eyes, he looked very young and embarrassed as he tried to get


through the people who said they were proud of him. Lady
Campden, in her deep mourning, held her handkerchief to
her eyes; he caught the sound of her sobbing. One of the
boatmen from Eton rafts thrust his way to the front and
insisted upon shaking hands.

" God bless you, milord. You'll recollect my boy Jack,
who went out with you ; his last letter was full of your kind-
ness to him. His mother wanted to come up with me to
thank you. But when the time came she couldn't face it; him
being left behind. But I was to tell you she was grateful."

" That's all right, Evans. I'll come and see her one day,
tell her so."

He remembered young Evans, who went down at Magers-
fontein; the last he saw of him was bloodstained and be-
grimed, wounded to death, trying to raise himself, to pull a
trigger, to have one last shot at the enemy.

Desmond knew he should disgrace himself before all these
people if he began to think how many he had seen the last
of, and how they fell. It was all very well out there, but here
at home they were no longer only soldiers, these lost com-
rades of his, they were sons and brothers, sweethearts, hus-
bands. He could not face the womenfolk, he was seeing battle-
fields, the cries of the wounded came to him.

But his mother would not let him hurry. Many eyes were
wet with tears, but Lady Grindelay's old eyes shone as if they
were young again. This was the happiest hour of her life,
the proudest.

Outside the station there was a great crowd waiting.
Entrance to the station had been by ticket, and they were a
picked and decorous crowd. But outside there were the towns-
people and villagers, and many from Amersham and Beacons-
field, and the adjacent towns. When they caught sight of
Desmond they broke into cheering.

" * No Surrender Grindelay ! ' Three cheers for ' No Sur-
render Grindelay ! ' "

Hats were thrown in the air, voices shouted, the flags
floated in the breeze, and the military band played " See the
conquering hero comes."


They had difficulty in getting to the carriage. The horses
had been taken out and men were harnessed to it. The
procession formed and followed them, the soldiers in khaki,
the blaring band. All the slow way to the Court crowds were
cheering, bunting was flying, and they passed under triumphal
arches bearing legends, " Welcome Home ! " " England wel-
comes her heroes ! " " Long life to Marley Warriors ! "

Eunice's eyes were wet and misty. Agatha sat erect,
bowing right and left as if she were a queen. The scene may
have been a little ridiculous to anyone who did not know its
significance. Agatha felt a queen to-day, among her own
people, with this fine young son of hers beside her. It seemed
fitting they should all turn out to do him honour.

As for Desmond, he was very uncomfortable and supremely
embarrassed, and would have given anything to have been
able to escape.

At the village of Little Marley there were more speeches.
Little Marley could not boast a mayor and councillors, but
there were the schoolmaster and the oldest inhabitant, school
children and the rest. This time Desmond could only stammer
out that it was awfully good of them, that he was sure he
didn't deserve their welcome. He would not even stand up in
the carriage. Lady Grindelay felt impelled to take the task
out of his hands. When they saw she was going to speak, they
crowded round; but she was quite unembarrassed, and sat
well forward.

*' My dear son is too much moved by his reception to be
able to respond as he would wish. He bids me tell you that if
he fought well it was because he was fighting not only for
England but for Marley. There have always been Wansteads
here, as you know. And many of them have fought for their
country. His gallant brothers in arms, these Marley men,"
she looked at them, " rode by his side, and 30U know how
they acquitted themselves. If you and they are proud of
him, you can guess how much prouder I am — ^his mother."
She stopped there a minute, and they cheered her.

" Good old Polly Providence ! " one shouted.

" And there is another proud one here," she indicated


Eunice, "almost equally well known to you all, a Wanstead
too, who is soon to be his wife "

She was not allowed to go on.

" Long life to them both."

She wanted to make her announcement at that dramatic
moment, and they caught her intention quickly. It had
always been expected, but they cheered and cheered. Eunice
was a little overcome, and Desmond, seeing her turn pale,
bent forward from his seat and took her hand. They cheered
that too, and he relinquished it quickly.

There seemed some little confusion or disorder at the back
of the crowd. They caught a glimpse of a woman without a
bonnet, red-faced and dishevelled, with grey hair. Then the
crowd closed up and shut her out from their sight.

" She's drunk his health once too often," one of the men
beside the carriage said, laughingly. "There'll be many of
them in that way to-night."

Lady Grindelay motioned to the men to go on after she
had made her speech.

"You did not mind my speaking for you?" she asked

" Good heavens, no! Isn't the thing nearly over? Can't
we have the horses put to, or get out and walk ? Haven't we
had enough ? "

" Don't be ungrateful. It is only for a little while longer.
Be patient."

They were drawn right up to the lodge gate. Desmond
could not be restrained then, he jumped out.

" Come along," he called to Eunice.

" May I ? " she asked her aunt, but hardly waited for the
answer. There were flags on the lodge too.

Late that evening, after dinner, when all had been dis-
cussed, the arches and speeches admired, and every incident
remembered and magnified, all to Desmond's honour, Eunice

" I wonder what became of that poor woman, the one they
said was drunk, I hope someone took care of her, that she


wasn't crushed or trampled upon. I wonder who she was?
I seem to remember her, to have heard her voice before."

Neither Desmond nor Lady Grindelay had seen or heard
anything but a slight scuffle or confusion.

" I'll go down to the village if you like, after dinner,"
Desmond said, " and inquire."

" The club house is to be kept open until twelve. We are
entertaining the men there. They would appreciate your
visit, you would have quite an ovation."

" Then I'm hanged if I go. I've had enough of ovations,"
he added hastily, " unless you want me to go ? " He spoke
to both the women.

Eunice was not anxious he should leave the house unless
she went with him. Lady Grindelay thought it permissible
that Desmond should remain quietly at home with them that
first evening. As for the woman of whom Eunice spoke,
nothing serious could have happened to her or they would
surely have heard.

" Her voice was strangely familiar to me," Eunice said
again. "And yet I don't seem to have heard it for a long
time. She seemed to be angry about something, or scolding.
It was as if I remember her always scolding or grumbling."

But the impression was a faint one, and faded quickly be-
fore Lady Grindelay's next speech.

" Those children will have to be marshalled differently
before the wedding. They just stood about anyhow and stared.
They must go in twos, dropping flowers."

She began to plan the wedding festivities.

" I shall do it all from Marley. The marquee on the lawn,
and the refreshments."


Desmond and Eunice pleaded for a holiday when the morrow
came. They wanted a day by themselves, a day in the woods,
to be let off all visits of ceremony and echoes fi-om yesterday's
fete. Lady Grindelay was doubtful, and thought it a little
irregular. People might call, and Desmond ought to be there
to receive them. But she could deny Desmond nothing, was
unable to say " No " to him.

The next few days hardly need chronicling. Lady Grin-
delay was kept up by circumstances. Everything seemed to
be shaping to her wishes. Even the Odontoglossum showed
symptoms of flowering, and Sanders was watching it by night
and day. All the preparations were being pushed forward.
Desmond had persuaded her to shorten the waiting time by a
week. She had attacks of pain, but her courage overrode them.
Dr. Eeid was in constant attendance; but he and Reynolds
kept the secret well. The young people were to go to Switzer-
land for their honeymoon. Lady Grindelay promised to nurse
herself wliilst they were away. If a second operation were
unavoidable, she would go through with it then. Their
home was to be at Marley, of course. A suite of rooms was to
be re-fumished, bathrooms were to be added; already work-
men were coming and going, measurements being made, papers
and tiles being chosen. There were to be modern comforts,
but without any alterations in the main features of the rooms.
There was talk of an electric installation; but carvings and
mouldings had to be considered.

And, of course, there was the trousseau. Boxes of under-
clothes came down from town, and all the needle-women in
the village were already employed. Madame Pariset herself,
with two assistants, came from London, and took orders for
twelve dresses, the wedding-gown amongst them.

Lady Grindelay saw to all details herself; there was no
end to what she wished to do for them. She asked whether



they liked this or that, approved of this or the other. Her
anxiety to please them, or rather Desmond, was touching.
But they only really wanted each other, to enjoy together the
days in the mellow woods, or afloat on the quiet river. They
were so happy that they could hardly speak of the future.
The woods were a cathedral where their love became sanc-
tified. Oak and ash and elm interlaced their boughs and
soughed in benediction, fluttering down their leaves. The
birds delayed their flight, twittering wedding songs, and the
skylark sang its psean over their heads, pouring it out like a
triumph. The long days were all too short. Each night when
they parted his eyes said that such partings would soon be at
an end. And hers downcast, or the faint flush that came into
her cheek, or the way her hands clung to his, answered that
she too knew it. And Agatha watched them. Whether they
were in her sight, or by themselves in the woods, or on the
river, she watched them. She had made so many mistakes.
Looking back, it seemed her life had been one long mistake.
Her conduct to her step-mother, her rejection of Andrew, the
way she had failed in obtaining Monica's confidence, then her
own hasty and ill-considered marriage. But now, now every-
thing was coming right, and when her time came she could
go in peace.

She would not have the announcement of the engagement
in the London papers. Andrew believed she had a vague idea
that Gabrielle Radlett might see it there, and he found occa-
sion to let her know that Gabrielle Eadlett was still in South

There is no doubt she is feathering her nest well out
there. I hear she has the Duke of Illminster in tow now.
Some South African paper announced an engagement be-
tween them. His mother is hurrying out to them.'*

" But the woman's husband is still alive ! "

*' No. He died in prison a few weeks before his release.
But you need not have any misgiving. She is flying at higher
game now than Desmond."

Agatha said indignantly that she had no misgiving, never
had had a misgiving. Nevertheless, the preparations were


hurried on, and, through that conversation with Andrew,
Desmond secured his extra week. Three altogether, and one
and a half of them were already gone, when, at the dinner
table, Eunice, like a stone into still waters, dropped her
irrelevant remark.

" Oh, Desmond, I forgot to tell you, I have remembered
whose voice that woman's reminded me of. Isn't it funny?
I dreamt of her last night. And when I woke this morning
I remembered quite well. Didn't Desmond have an Irish
nurse, auntie; when he was quite a small boy? Usen't she to
quarrel with mine? It was of Desmond's old Irish nurse
she reminded me."

" What, Biddy ! You can't remember Biddy. She hasn't
been here since I was seven years old."

He appealed to his mother.

" She can't remember Biddy, can she, mother ? She
couldn't have been more than four years old at the time. I
wrote to poor old Biddy from South Africa, she was awfully
devoted to me. Mother, it wouldn't be possible, would it?
If it were possible I'd like to have her and Larry at the wed-
ding. It wouldn't be too much of an undertaking for them
to come over, do you think ? Biddy must be nearly seventy.
A good old sort."

"I believe she is here, that she came over to see your
triumphant entry. I'm sure I knew her voice," Eunice in-

" Eunice certainly could not remember Biddy — a drunken
and disreputable old woman." Lady Grindelay spoke with
unusual difficulty, and both of them looked at her with sur-
prise. She tried to command herself. " She had a very bad
influence on you."

Desmond caught her meaning and flushed. So much had
been forgotten, now it seemed that that scene at Languedoc,
at his father's funeral, was still remembered. But he could
not be disloyal.

" It wasn't Biddy's fault," he said quickly.

" I never want to hear her name again," his mother an-
swered heavily. And then, noting his expression, added : " I


would rather not send for any of your old Irish pen-
sioners "

" Of course not, not if you don't want to. I'm sorry I
mentioned it." He was surprised at the way she had met his
request, quite an idle one. He never guessed what was at the
back of her refusal, or, if he guessed, he guessed wrongly.
He thought the memory of his conduct at Languedoc still hurt
her. He was angry with himself for having revived the past,
and showed his regret all through the evening by being almost
demonstratively affectionate.

It was no reminiscence of Languedoc or his father's funeral
that had distressed Lady Grindelay. But Andrew had told
her Gabrielle Radlett's baby had been sent to Biddy ! An
indefinable fear seized upon her. Afterwards in the big
drawing-room with the William and Mary furniture, embroid-
ered covers, and heavy curtains, she regained her self-posses-
sion. Biddy could not be at Marley, impossible that any
danger could threaten ! Only nine more days to the wed-
ding. Yet, for the first time, a doubt assailed her. Why had
she been so anxious Eunice should know nothing of Des-
mond's story? The girl would have some day to bear her
woman's burden of disillusionment. Should she learn it
now, at this late hour, her trust complete and her faith un-
bounded, would it not be more painful than if she had known
it when his absence had invested him with so much romance
that in the blaze of it even this might have been obscured?
In any case, it was too late now. She had imposed her will
upon both Andrew and Desmond, and if she had any mis-
giving neither of them must know it.

" I am sorry I had to oppose you about having your old
nurse over," she said to Desmond after Eunice had left them.
Desmond answered quickly :

" Never mind, mother. Don't give it another thought."

" I don't want you to think me prejudiced, but she was
always very difficult, and not sober."

"I know. I wish I had not asked it; it was only an idle
thought. Forget it, mother. You've been so good to me, and
you've forgotten so much."


" You were so young/"" she said.

" Everybody is so good to me. Sometimes it seems impos-
sible I can be so happy," he broke out, surprising her by his
impetuosity and emotion. But he was convinced now of her
sympathy. " I want to call in the whole world to see. But
not Biddy, or Larry, if 3^ou don't wish it." He put his hand
on hers. " I'm growing more what you wanted me to be,
mother, aren't I ? " His tone asked that her emotion should
meet his, her sympathy overflow in words.

" I have no fault to find with you."

" I'd like to make up to you for everything."

" There is very little for which you have not compen-
sated me," she answered. And she had hardly before said so
much as that to him, although she had known it so well.
It had been for him, more than for Eunice, that she had im-
posed secrecy upon them all ; that no one should find fault
with or condemn him.

" Have I ? Have I ? When we began to talk of Biddy it
reminded me. . . ."

'' Of what neither of us wished to remember." He caught
the agitation in her voice.

"We won't talk of it again, then. But it was curious
that Eunice should have thought she recognised Biddy's
voice, wasn't it ? "

" Very strange."

" Not possible, you tliink ? "

" Quite impossible."

And then that faint, indefinable misgiving came over her

" I cannot bear to think of her in the same town with you,
with either of you," she said involuntarily.

Desmond did not, of course, know the secret of her intol-
erance' of Biddy's presence in Marley.

" You're not going to have- a bad night, are you ? There's
no need. Biddy can't be at Marley without our knowing of it.
Eunice is imaginative, she often had strange dreams, you
know. She thinks of me all the time. Mother, isn't it beau-
tiful the way she thinks of me, and knew I should come back


although everybody else thought I was dead ? I m not nearly
good enough for her. I'm so glad now that you wouldn't let
me tell her about — about that. She could never have under-
stood. She's so innocent, living here all her days by you, and
in the woods. Oh ! mother, if I should fail her ! "

" You won't fail her."

" I failed you both once." His voice was low.

" She will never know."

" If the McKays had not found out that it was no mar-
riage ! "

" Be thankful they did. Forget it ! "

" I've never been anything but thankful ; overwhelmed
sometimes when I think of what might have been. I couldn't
face life without Eunice, I want her in every way. Some-
times I can't believe it is true, that in nine days we shall
be married, that we are going away tc^ether. How good you've
been to us ! "

She had never been gentler, nor spoken to him more
openly than to-night.

" I am being good to myself too, I want you both here.
It seems like a dream to me, too, sometimes. Such a good
dream to stay with me whilst you are honeymooning. Mar-
ley, with both of you to come after me ! You will have chil-
dren. I want to see your children running about in the
garden. It seems only yesterday when you and Eunice played
there. I did not understand having a son then."

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