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The mistress of Marley so seldom saw there were two
sides to any question, her own and the other person's. Of
course, she had not wanted to wound the boy, but it had seemed
so wonderful that just at the most important moment of his
career he should be without that which might impede it.

" Go after him ; tell him I am sorr^^ I broke it so abruptly.
Let him know he is to do just as he likes about going over."
Eunice had already gone.

But Desmond would have done just as he liked without his
mother's message. And that was to get to Ireland as quickly
as train and steamer would carry him, with or without her
permission. He did not want Eunice to comfort him, nor that
she should see he had been crying. He locked his door against
her, commanded his voice enough to call out to her that she
was not to bother him, tKat he was packing.

" Get the dog-cart round ! Look up the trains ! "

" Can't I help you pack ? " she asked through the door.
" Let me in, Desmond. I want to be with you. I'm so sorry."

" I've no time for talking."

And no inclination. He wanted to be alone. When she
came back to tell him about the trains he still did not unlock
the door. She had to call out to him through it that he would
be able to catch a train for London in time for the Irish mail
if he could be ready in fifteen minutes.

" All right ! " was all the answer. He did not want to see
anyone with tiiis desolation upon him, and the tears he could
not keep from falliug. Why had he lingered on here? What
he wanted to do now was to get out of the house, to be on his
way to Ireland, that no one should speak to him.

And he accomplished it, or very nearly. Eunice, lying in
wait, gave him a hurried kiss, and whispered :


" I'm sorry if you're sorry, Desmond. I wish I were com-
ing with you to help and comfort you."

His mother was in the hall when he went through. She
knew now the less she said to him the better. The dog-cart
was at the door.

" Put my bag in front."

He was hurrying through; he did not want to speak.

" You will need money."

He had not given it a thought. It flashed through her
mind then that in some ways he was like his father, and the
knowledge was like a flame in the love that was beginning to
bum her. But for her forethought he would have gone to
Euston without the means to go farther.

"It is all I have in the house, but I think there is

He was not grateful ; he only wanted to get away from her
and that she should not see his red eyes. He said hastily :

" Thanks. I shall have to drive him all I know."

He did not stay to say good-bye to her or Eunice, but was
out of the door and in the dog-cart, had gathered up the
reins and was off, before it seemed possible.


It was 'Andrew McKay's opinion, expressed in a carefully
worded letter arriving in Marley the next day by the hand
of a special messenger, that Lady Grindelay should go over
to Ireland for her husband's funeral and be present at the
reading of the will, if there were a will — in any case, be on
hand to assert her rights to the guardianship, not only of
whatever property may have been left to her son, but of that
young man himself. Andrew McKay offered to accompany
her. She could take twenty-four hours to make up her mind,
he wrote, or even more. The funeral would not in any case
be before Friday.

The messenger who brought the letter was his own son,
young Michael McKay, just graduated in Edinburgh, and
already in his f atlier's office.

Lady Grindelay made the young man welcome, but took
time to consider the unpalatable advice he brought. Mean-
while Eunice did the honours of the house, and so well that
young Michael thought then, and never ceased to think in
the years that followed, that a sweeter chatelaine, or one more
fitted for the post she occupied, had never been. She took
him into the rose garden, and where the cultivated violets lay
at the foot of the sundial among the old lead figures; to see
the new puppies and Desmond's black mare. Michael had
been here as a boy with his father, but a series of accidental
circumstances had kept him away during the last three or
four years. Eunice and he renewed their acquaintance almost
as strangers.

Eunice understood her aunt wanted solitude and was to
be relieved of the young man. At lunch she heard he was
to stay the night, and that her aunt would go to London
with him in the morning. A telegram had already been
dispatched to his father.

After lunch she took him on the river.



It was so early in the spring that they had the river to
themselves. In many places it had overflowed its banks ; here
at Marley it was wide and full. They stood and watched it
together a little while when they came back from their row,
and Eimice thought of Desmond, and what a dull companion
Michael was in comparison. Then she was suddenly filled
with compunction lest she should fail in kindness towards
her guest. There was a climb before them, and a long walk
to the house. This part of Marley Wood sloping to the river
was far-lying.

" If you think you will be tired we can telephone from
the boat-house to the stables. Perhaps we had better; it is
getting late."

Michael was in the mood to accede to anything she pro-
posed. They waited on the banks for the carriage, and she
tried to make conversation for him.

" There is a notice up about picnic parties and boats not
trespassing, but they come all the same in the summer and
tie up under the trees. I think it is nice to feel we are giving
people shade or shelter. I want auntie to take down the
notices, to let them land, and spread their teas, and walk in
the woods."

"But you would not know what sort of people might
come," he objected; "people from the East End of London,
trippers. You would find soiled paper lying about, and
empty bottles."

" I don't think that would matter at all. They could be
cleared away. And the poorer the people were, or the smaller
the homes they came from, the better it would seem to them
to be here."

" But you would not be able to come out alone."
" I never do come here alone as it is. When Desmond isn't
here, my governess comes with me, or auntie."

It seemed to him very fitting she should be so well chaper-
oned and guarded. At six and twenty, Michael was something
of a prig, thinking all his prejudices were principles. A tall
and well set-up young man, nevertheless, whose gravity be-
came him. He wore an eyeglass, but only because the sight


of one eye was really defective. It represented, nevertheless,
his outlook on life. It was all in tin boxes and iron safes,
docketed and labelled.

At dinner-time, however, he noticed that the girl's com-
plexion looked even fairer in the evening than by daylight.
He saw her small and slender hands, her instinctive grace,
the sympathetic way she looked at Lady Grindelay. The
occasion was a solemn one, or at least serious; the note of
the dinner-table fitted it, being subdued and quiet. So was
all the service, suiting his taste. He tried to remember her
age. She wore her hair down, but surely she must be seven-
teen. He began to think of his own age, and of all the exami-
nations he had passed so brilliantly, and to plume himself
on his LL.B. and gold medal.

He had not intended to marry until he was at least thirty
and a partner in the firm. But when he went to bed that
night he reconsidered the question. Twenty-seven was surely
a good age for matrimony. He would be out of his articles
next 3'ear; and there was his mother's money waiting for him.
So thinking, he fell asleep to dream of Eunice; the first of
many such nights.

He escorted Lady Grindelay to London next morning.
She had to get mourning, prepare for the ordeal in front of
her, although she did not guess what an ordeal it was to prove.

" Tell your father I will meet him at Euston. He is not
to bother about me until then. I have plenty to do."

" He told me to ask you if you would lunch with him in
the City or at home — I've only to let him know. Perhaps you
would allow me to give you lunch at my club ? "

" I should prefer not to make any appointments. It is
very kind of your father, and of you. I am quite all right

"And for lunch?"

"I shall get something to eat when I have finished my
shopping. There are plenty of places."

" Until to-night, then."

" Yes, if you are seeing us off."

Lady Grindelay bought mourning; she knew what was


the right thing to do. She might feel glad, inexpressibly
relieved, but she must not show it. She bought a widoVs
bonnet with long streamers, white lawn collars, cuffs and
caps. Now it was comparatively easy for her to pay respect
to her husband's memory. Whilst he was alive respect was
impossible. It was Andrew McKay's advice that slie should
go to Ireland for the funeral, but it accorded with her own
sense of the fitness of things.

It was perhaps unfortunate that his advice and her views
were the same. It would have been so much better had she
stayed at Murley, better for herself as well as for Desmond
if she had never attended the obsequies of that deceased,
somewhat beloved, but never respected nobleman, Patrick
Canning Warner Foulds, late Lord Grindelay.

What she found at Languedoc Castle, besides the corpse —
which to the great scandal of the household and outdoor ser-
vants, and the tenantry who got to know of it, she never
visited at all — was very much what she had left in high
disgust some twenty years before. Dirt, disorder and
discomfort beyond the telling. Wild trees unpruned, great
hedges undipped, cattle straying up to the very door where
the dilapidated coach and odd horses drew her and Andrew;
fallen masonry outside, and inside, bare walls and oddly
carpeted floors, upholstered furniture in the first stage of
decay and carved furniture in the last stage of ill-treatment,
and absence of baths or even hot water, of light other than
guttering candles, of servants other than garrulous or sullen,
of service, in the way she understood the word, trained and
competent; of even decency in a house of mourning, as
decency is understood on the other side of the Channel.

But there was worse than that, infinitely worse, that neither
she nor Andrew had anticipated.

They had thought to be met by the new Lord Grindelay,
by Desmond. Eton and Marley must have acquainted him
with the proprieties. She anticipated, and Andrew also, that
the boy would stand between her and the humours or ameni-
ties of this out of date Irish household.

But neither on the night she arrived nor the next morning


was anything to be seen of Desmond. '' Mr. Desmond, God
bless him," was there, so she was told, but no one " would be
for fetchin' him from his father's room." " It's not himself
he is entoirely," was a euphemism she did not understand.
She was outside her son's mind, knowing nothing of the
agony of self-reproach that had accompanied him here,
nothing of the thirty-six hours he had spent in the chamber
of Death, almost without sleep, listening to the story of how
his father's end had come about. He was young and impres-
sionable, remorseful, miserable. She thought him wanting
in respect, affection, because he neither met her at the station
nor came to her when she arrived. She was hurt, and thought
she was angry, speaking bitterly of him to Andrew and of his
father's influence. But it was not that he lacked respect or
affection, only that she was not in his mind at all.

His father had asked for him all those three days of his
illness; he could have been there, seen him once more, heard
his last words. But he had stayed away. He even forgot what
had detained him, and could remember nothing but that he
had been thoughtless and selfish. Biddy, who had been his
own nurse, and Larry, who was Lord Grindelay's body-
servant, tried to console him.

" An' didn't we kape tellin' him if ye'd only known, ye'd
have bin over any minit, an' that it wasn't you didn't care
for him nor the want of the warm heart. But nothin' served.
I saw the tears row! down his cheeks. * I shan't see him agin,'

he sed. ' She's got him, the ; an' she'll kape him, bad

cess to her.' But I mustn't tell ye the words he put to yer
lady mother. It wasn't him that was mealy-mouthed, as you'll
remimber. * She's got him an' she'll kape him,' he sed;
* there's no use telegraphin'. Though me eyes are achin' for
a soight of his face, she'll not let him come.' He was begin-
ning his dyin', thin, but as clear in his mind as you or me.
' She'll sind it up to the law3^er'8 office, an' all I'll get '11 be
printin' from Andrew McKay, God curse him,' he said."

" You might have wired."

" An' so I might ; ye're right there. But it all came about
so quick, an' me fingers had got soddened with the powltices.


The bit of a girl at the post office would maybe have written
for me, but I was hearin' she wasn't there any more by ray son
of them havin' got a bhoy instid, an impident bit of a clerk.
We were cheerin' him an' tellin' him to give over talkin' and
coughin', an' we'd pull liim through, an' there'd be the foine
toimes you an' he'd be afther havin' together whin ye did
come. An' whiniver the docthor wint away we jist give him
the whisky, an' hoped for the best."

And then Biddy would start wailing, and Larry would
join in, so that Mr. Desmond would not know what a sad
best it was, this death the whisky could no longer keep away.

" Shure he jist hiccoughed himsilf into hell — as Father
Malone would have it," Larry sobbed at the end of the telling ;
*' cursin' your mother, an' himsilf because he was gettin' out
of the way, an' she'd have ye to hersilf whin he was gone.
He knew the hatred she had against him, the foine, liberal,
noble gintleman that he was."

The boy was red-eyed from want of sleep, from crying,
and because of his remorse.

" It wasn't she that kept me ; it was for my own pleasure
I stayed away." But they did not believe him.

" What are ye afther tellin' us ? Don't we know it's here
ye had the foine times? At the very last his moind was
wanderin'. He kep' sayin' she'd turned you aginst him, an'
that you'd grow up a wather dhrinker, an' not be able to
hould yer glass, nor tell a story, nor sing a song, an' that
it was not an Irishman ye'd come back at all, at all, wid no
love in yer heart for the ould place nor the ould ways. But
we didn't belave him, did we, Biddy ? We kep' tellin' him to
have done, an' givin' him the whisky."

But Biddy and Larry were not only repeating their late
master's words. With national craft and an eye to the future,
they poured out their voluble patriotism. What was to be-
come of them all if it were true that the new Lord Grind«l«.y
was taken up with English ways?

Larry and Biddy touched all the chords in Desmond's
sensitive and ravaged heart, found where he was tender, and
struck the tenderness to sound as if it had been a harp and


theirs the fingers that could play upon it. Desmond spent the
first night here on his knees by poor Pat's coffin; he hadn't
to hide his eyes from these old servants nor show any self-
i^estraint. Travel-stained, exhausted with tears and remorse,
truly he was not himself. He sobbed that he was an Irishman,
and that everything for which his father cared he would care
for too and preserve.

"An' God bless ye, Mr. Desmond — milord, for it's a
thrue Foulds ye are an' yer father's son, for all yer foreign

Biddy brought him the food that choked him to eat, and,
when he put it on one side, coaxed him to his milk and
potheen that went down so much easier.

« « « « «

There was a constant coming and going in that great room
where the coffin stood on its high trestles, the old servants
keening and crying, and the black bottle going round. A
disgraceful scene, some would have called it ; but the note of
grief was genuine, and the boy found comfort in it. His
brain grew confused, but his trouble was solaced. Everybody
here loved his father. He could not face his mother's indif-
ference or coldness. Not Just yet. He had not been with his
father when he called for him, but he would stay with him to
the end, and among these dear familiar people who were keen-
ing for him.

It was true that he was not himself on the day of the
funeral. Women with streaming eyes and aprons thrown over
their heads, men in scarecrow clothes, ragged girls and boys,
murmured their sympathy. The house was full on the morn-
ing of the funeral, when his mother saw him for the first
time. He had been beside the coffin until then, in the darkened

Lord Grindelay was to be borne to his last resting place
by none but those who loved him. There were more than
enough to be found in Languedoc, friends and neighbours.
Desmond was to walk at the head of the procession. Lady
Grindelay, who had been informed but not consulted as to the


arrangements, was impatient of it all, of the dreadful memories
that came to her. Time had obscured them, hut now they
thronged about her again. Every day of her married life
here her sensitiveness had been shocked, her taste violated,
her traditions outraged. She wanted the funeral to be over,
to get away, to take Desmond vrith her, and forget he had ever
had another parent than herself. In the future there would
be no one between them.

Desmond was not in the great hall when, in her conven-
tional widow's weeds, she came down from her bed-room.
Andrew, from an indistinguishable crowd of people, curious
or resentful, came forward to meet her; but Desmond was not
there. The hall door stood open, and beyond it, in the driz-
zling rain, were people and yet more people, a black and
moving crowd. She could see the coffin and clergy; men in
high hats, women with aprons over their heads, everyone but
her son.

Andrew offered her his arm.

" Tliey are going to start."

" And Desmond ? "

" Desmond is one of the bearers. I haven't been able to
speak to him ; he is out there with the others."

She went on Andrew's arm to follow the procession that
had already been formed. But it was not until they were half-
way to the mausoleum that she saw Desmond.

Could that be Desmond? Her Desmond? The young
Etonian who had left Marley in his clothes made by Brown,
and his straw hat with the blue and black ribbon? He was
dressed in mourning, shiny and ridiculous, hastily made by
the village tailor. His shoulder supported the comer of the
coffin; he looked neither to left nor right, plodding on with
the others.

The whole scene was strange, the slow-moving procession,
the shiny black hats in the rain, the tramp of many feet, and
the voices of the wailing women. It seemed endless hours
that she walked, too, her hand on Andrew McKay's arm, but
never speaking to him. Alien to them both was the scene,
the prayers and the wild cries when the coffin was placed in


the mausoleum, the funeral service sounding strange in the
brogue, the immediate change of mood when it was all over;
the almost festive air of the now straggling multitude.

" Are they all coming back vrith us ? " she asked Andrew
in dismay.

"There is a big feast spread in the dining-room; they
seem to have been busy at it for days. Many of the neigh-
bours come from a long distance," he added apologetically.

" You know I have not seen Desmond since I have been
here. He has never been near me."

'^He is surroimded now by his father's friends and re-

He wanted to prepare her. But no preparation could dis-
guise the truth. Andrew had seen that Desmond stumbled
as he walked, the coffin resting on his shoulder. But there
were nine others to support it, and Larry was by the side of
his dead master's son. Andrew still hoped Agatha had seen

Lady Grindelay, apart from the mourners, in her well-
cut black, veil down, a black-edged handkerchief in her hand,
was dry-eyed, as everyone could see. There was a feeling
against her in the crowd that overflowed the grounds,
although it was kept from breaking into demonstration by
the occasion. But here a word and there a word escaped, and
they were loud in Desmond's ears.

"An' he might have bin alive if she'd had the warmth
in her heart to warm him."

" He was a fine jintleman, an' not a tear in her eye for

Desmond felt that which kept him from going to his
mother, although he was in no condition for thinking. Andrew
went to him when they got back to the house, and tried to
draw him apart.

" Will you come with me now to your mother ? She has
gone to her room."

Larry whispered, " She's goin' to tell ye not to fret for

" Perhaps it would be better if you sat quietly with her


for a little, if you did not appear in the dining-room."
Andrew had not guessed Desmond to be so far gone as now
he saw him. " Will you come with me ? "

" I suppose you think I'm drunk ? " said Desmond sud-
denly and unexpectedly. " There is nothing at all the matter
with me." He pushed away Larry, who was standing close
beside him.

"Be aisy, thin."

Desmond stood upright, but lurched and laid hold of him
again. " I'm not drunk. I've had no breakfast this morn-
ing." He was defending himself stupidly.

*' I am sure you are not drunk."

" Of course I shall go into the dining-room."

"It's not in respect for Ms mimry ye'U be wantin',"
Larry interrupted admiringly.

" I'll speak to my mother now." His condition gave him
courage. " Wliere is she ? You come too, Larry. Of course
I'm going into the dining-room."

Andrew could not control, he could only follow, him,
hoping to soften or shorten the impending scene.

Lady Grindelay was in her own room, and now he was
here at her door. She saw him, where so often his father had
stood to laugh at or insult her. Desmond was red-eyed, dressed
in those horrible village-made clothes, his hat had streamers.
But it was not the village-made clothes nor the streamers
that sent that hot and surging anguish through her, that
shock of remembrance.

" Mother ! "

His voice was thick, his feet unsteady as he lurched for-
word towards her. " McKay says you don't want me to dine
with my father's friends "

" I never said so."

" You need not put out your hands to keep me off." She
had not done so, but he read in her face, for all he saw so
unsteadily, that it was revulsion he roused in her. He was
not of an age, nor in a condition, to know that the root of
the revulsion was love — love, sick and shaken with shame.
Agatha wanted to put her arms about him and hold him,


hiding him from all the world. But instead of him it was
herself she hid.

" I'm not coming near you. I shall pay him the last

"Of imitation ? " she said, unhappily. He was not too
far gone to understand her meaning.

" You think I'm drunk/' he answered unsteadily.

" To be shure an' you're not/' said Larry, supporting him.
" It's the throuble he's in," he said to Agatha. She put her
hands before her face. No one could guess what the shock
was to her, seeing him like this, and what dreadful memories
were evoked.

But the difference was that she loved this slender, swaying
figure and the thick voice. Her conscience seared her and
told her all the fault was hers. He was the fruits of her
incredible marriage — like this from no fault of his own.
Love, pity and remorse overwhelmed her, she covered her
face with her hands.

Then every'thing he had heard about her came into Des-
mond's fuddled mind, and he forgot how differently he knew
her. There came upon him the garrulity and loose speech of
the half-intoxicated, denials, excuses, explanations, and even

" You never understood him. There's a gulf between the
English and the Irish. If he drank it was out of the light
heart. I know what I'm talking about. I'm not drunk, what-
ever you may think. You never cared for him ; he often told
me you'd set yourself against him." In the loosened speech
were tears. " I'll be lonely in the world without him. Didn't
he love me with the great warm heart of him, and never a
word of criticism? I'm not clever enough for you, but he
didn't care what I did. . . ."

If there was arraignment there was also appeal. He was
lonely, death had shaken him. The mist between them,
through which they could not see each other's face or heart,
was the mist of tears. Her heart was crying for this poor
son, and yet she could not answer him. So he went on, mis-
judging her.


" You are as cold as ice to me/' he cried. " I'm not as
bad as you think ; it's only because I've had no food. If you

Online LibraryJulia FrankauFull swing → online text (page 6 of 27)