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long gettin' down, but I 'd time to think of Slocum,
an' my old mother, and Rose, and the child, before
I touched bottom with the flat o ' my back. Aye, an '
more, too. Funny as it seem, I fancied along with
all that as I was a penny on the toss, an' that it
was boun' to finish me whether I come down 'ead
or tail. Then a thud, with not a bit o' pain in it,

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The Yellow Van

that put me to sleep for four days, till I woke up
'ere."

He stopped as though he expected some defense
of the providential order ; but the duchess said never
a word.

"They riveted me together never mind that. But
they can't move me, and 'ere I 've laid ever sence.
When I come to she was at the bedside. ' Doan ' you
worry, boy,' she whispers, bendin' over me. 'I 've got
work lots of it washin' ; an' 'ired a mangle. Can't
go at it fast enough. But I got time for babby, all
the same, so there 's more washin' to do when the
other 's done, an' it 's 'im that comes last of all.
Then I kiss 'is little pink body all over, an' put him
to bed, an' say my prayers over him. It 's only a
short prayer, boy, but it 's a good un, for it 's got to
last me all the twenty- four hours. An' 'e sends 'is
love to father, an' an' ' Oh ! "

He hid his face with the disengaged arm, that
moved in one piece like a semaphore, and Augusta
hid hers.

' ' That went on for weeks an ' weeks, and me layin '
'ere all the while. Then one day she come, just same
as usual, but she wouldn't give me 'er 'and when I
feel for it; an' when she gave it, it was the left.
Then I stuck out for the other, an' found it done
up like a dolly under 'er shawl. Crushed in the
mangle ! Too eager about it, I s 'pose my fault over
again. It drawed 'er finger in, like, when she 'ap-
pened to turn 'er 'ead to chirrup to the kid in the
.cot.

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The Yellow Van

" 'No pain, boy,' she says, 'till I put it under the
tap to stop the bleedin', an' nearly well again now.'

"No pain! Ten times wuss than anything as had
'appened to me, if you measure it by the square inch.

" 'Rose,' I said, 'we got to give in, my dear.
Write a letter to Allonby. God A 'mighty 's lookin'
the other way.'

" 'Not yet, boy. I can do beautiful by leanin'
my wrist ag'in' the side o' the tub. Got all the
washin' 'ome Monday, jest the same 's before.'

"But 'ow could I 'elp seeing it? Faster 'n I got
better, she was gettin' worse."

"Where is she?" cried Augusta, impatiently, and
reverting even to the peculiarities of idiom. "I 've
got to see that woman right away."

"It 's visitin' day," he said, "an' she may be 'ere
any moment. She might be 'ere now."

"Go on, then."

"Weeks an' weeks more, an' me still 'ere. An'
one day she come in all smilin', an' when I take 'er
left 'and, same 's before, she laughs. ' Where 's your
manners?' she says, an' draws it back an' lays her
right hand in mine. 'Cured; an' God bless both my
boys ! '

"Cured! 'Baled, if you like; but no more prizes
for fine sewin' for my gal. She split her finger,"
he added childishly, while another tear rolled down
his cheek, yet with a sluggish flow. "No cure for
my Rose. She comes reg'lar very visitin' day; but
the fight 's tellin' on her life : I can see that. Every
time I miss somethin' a bit o' the color from her

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The Yellow Van

cheek, a bit o' the roundness from her arm. And
the work done without break all this awful time. Oh,
we ain't ekal to 'em, we ain't ekal to 'em! They 're
nearer the next world nor we ! "

Then he stopped, and a piteous trouble came on
his face. "Where is she now?" he wailed. " 'Alf
an 'our late never like that before ! What are we
chatterin' 'ere about, payin' compliments?"

Augusta could bear it no longer. ' ' What, indeed ?
Tell me where she is, this instant. Or, stay" as she
saw him sink back with exhaustion; "I '11 send the
nurse to you, and get it from her. ' '



346



XXXIX




MOMENT more and she was hur-
rying on her dismal errand through
the dismal streets. The very cab-
man was at fault in the labyrinth
of squalor. But at length he
found his way to a cottage stand-
ing in its own garden such as may sometimes be
seen in the most densely populated quarters. This
one was evidently a relic of an earlier state of settle-
ment, when the place was a suburb, and the cockney
seeking his pleasure in the green fields paused here
for his draught of milk. It had once been white-
washed, its roof had once been tiled, and the slates
with which it was now covered had once been whole.
Still, even in its ruin it had the waywardness of the
cottage style. There was a rudimentary gable, with
a pleasant confusion of angles in the ground-plan.
What had been the garden was now a network of
clothes-lines, with things hanging to dry. A board
bore the legend: "Star Laundry. R. Herion."

Augusta knocked at the door, but there was no
answer; and a second and a third summons had no
better effect. Then a slatternly figure, thrust half-
way out of a neighboring window, urged, "Try the
back."

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The Yellow Van

Augusta picked her way round to a narrow path
that led to the back door. It stood wide open, and
so did the first door in the narrow passage within
the house. She passed through, without further
ceremony, and found herself in a kind of best room,
poorly furnished, but quite neat, and at present in
the sole occupancy of a plump baby crowing in its
cot. It was a momentary relief to what was other-
wise the perfect stillness of the house. But the still-
ness more than held its own, until the child and a
little clock, between them, seemed to be but inef-
fectual protests against a reign of silence that was
charged with portent to the anxious visitor. Au-
gusta left the room, hastily called out, "Mrs. Herion !
Mrs. Herion!" without receiving any reply, and
then followed the track of a pungent odor of soap-
suds, which, in its promise of human labor, was also
a promise of a sign of life.

It was at once a true promise and a false one.
She was in the wash-house now, and a figure stood at
the wash-tub, bent to the task, and with its back to
the door. It was the house-mother, beyond doubt;
and Augusta called to her again: "Rose! Rose!
Don't you know me? Don't you hear?"

The figure never stirred, but kept rigid in the lines
of its slight stoop over the tub. One arm was bent ;
the other clutched at the left breast.

Augusta screamed, with a sense of dread fore-
boding, and ran forward. It was Rose, indeed, but
with head bowed, eyes fixed in a glassy stare, and
stone-dead at her post of duty and sacrifice.

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The Yellow Van

She was still beautiful even in this ruin. The
glorious wealth of dark hair was there, though it
was now streaked with gray. The wan face had lost
the unbroken oval of its line, the cheeks the color
from which she might have derived her name. The
poor hand, still clutching at the heart, was no longer
the hand of the dairymaid of Allonby. It was
bleached and wrinkled with the hot water and with
the chemical compounds ; and every wrinkle, stiffened
in death, looked as though it had been carved in
stone. Saddest of all marrings beauty ravaged by
toil and misery before its time.

So perished Rose Herion. "I relieve thee of the
burden of existence," whispers the Buddha, as he
bestows his boon of eternal sleep on the perfect man.
The Merciful, the Compassionate, had looked her
way at last.



349



XL




JOSE was buried in the great church-
yard of Slocum Magna. There was
at first an intention of laying her
in one of the London cemeteries,
but Augusta would not hear of
that. Her ideas of justice found
a sort of grim satisfaction in bringing back the
Herions to their own village, dead or alive.

Mr. Raif was only less disgusted with the change
of plan than the London undertaker. For him this
unedifying return of the prodigal with mortuary
honors was a humiliation for the system which had
driven her forth. It was a bad example for the vil-
lage. Poor Rose's coffin might be a Pandora's box
charged with all sorts of subversive ideas to taint the
country-side. A pauper's grave for it in distant Lon-
don might have furnished him with the matter for a
homily. As it was, he declined to take any part in
the ceremony, and willingly relinquished his share
in it to his colleague.

Augusta attended the funeral, and not by deputy,
but in her own person. The whole village was by
her side. All sorrowed, even those who, like Grim-
ber, saw in the occasion but the fulfilment of a pro-
phecy of doom. All had loved Rose. At his evening

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The Yellow Van

sitting Job called for another "mug o' yel" to toast
her memory. "She wur a good un, she wur died
at her post." There was a subflavor of bitterness
in the tribute. He could not but reflect that his
wife's devotion took the form rather of driving him
to his work than of dying to do it for him. His select
moral was not wanting. "It 's what I always say :
speak yer mind, an' you get the sack. You don't get
it for speakin': you get it, that 's all." It was the
peasant moral far and wide: "Lie low."

George was brought back to the village as soon as
he could bear the journey, and properly provided
for. The child of course came with him, and the two
mothers were there to look after both. All this was
Augusta's care. It was what the blacksmith called
making a clean job of it. The village hardly knew
how to look at the matter. A few thought that the
injured man was lucky in the prospect of being ' ' kep '
for life," and that a paralyzed spinal system was no
excessive price to pay for the luxury. These con-
sequently were free to regard him as the victor in
the long struggle with the castle. The agent nat-
urally had other views. The crippled man, the or-
phaned child, were awful object-lessons of the folly
of resistance to the system. Who could have a doubt
as to the winning side, with this withered thing sun-
ning itself in its bandages at the cottage door, by
the duke's leave, this child learning to cry "mammy"
to its grandams, and with the mother it was begin-
ning to forget in the churchyard? The village, on
the whole, was much of this way of thinking. The

35 1



The Yellow Van

muttered moral of the fireside and the ale-bench
might have been expressed in the terms of the catch,
' ' Hold thy peace, thou knave ! ' ' All who have given
up the struggle with circumstance come to that,
from the Trappist to the Russian peasant, that lotus-
eater of submission and despair. "Leave it alone;
don't trouble: it won't last long. And then, still
keeping quiet, quiet, you '11 be carted you know
where; and dust will be the end of it. The busy
arm, the busy tongue all vanity; and nothing
helps."

So the old stillness settles down upon Slocum, and
the grass gets time to grow upon Rose's grave. The
village resumes its eternal order of things, if that
can be resumed which has never suffered check or
pause. For the real order is that Slocum shall some-
times struggle, but always suffer defeat; that the
Herions and Spurrs shall unfailingly return to heel
after futile divagations, and the Grimbers, Gurts,
and Sketts never leave the path. Generations reared
in dependence and submission find it easiest to go on
in that way.

So thinks Mr. Kisbye as he sits musing in his li-
brary to-day over a binding and a cigarette so, and
otherwise. The victory over George is as much his
victory as the castle's. Brain has won in this skir-
mish, as it is going to win in the final battle. The
money-lender is sure that he has made a wise choice
in living from a single organ. He has found it pay
to be without heart and, except on the rare occasions
on which he has to call himself a fool, without con-

352



The Yellow Van

science. Money has given him all he needs. His
want of ruth is quite consistent with taste, both in
life and art. He knows a painting as well as here
and there a one, and will live to the end amid the
harmonies of sense. He touches literature in rare
covers, and sometimes, though not without a sort of
derision, in the matter they contain. In all, he has
realized to the full that prevalent conception of
life as a conflict of forces for the wise satisfaction
of a set of appetites. He is as unpitying at need
as a spike-nosed fish ripping up another for a meal.
He loves all good things in sheer technical perfec-
tion as manifestations of power good music, good
talk, good eating and drinking ; and he loathes more
heartily than ever all who try to give them an ethical
import. Canvas and printed page alike, as things
said, are nothing to him. They exist but for the way
of saying it. He reads in many languages; and in
ours, it may be suspected, not as a mother-tongue.
He has just bought Milton's greatest poem in a two-
hundred-and-fifty-guinea edition, and he is now dip-
ping into it to find refreshment in its principal char-
acter, and the luxury of contempt in its dialogues
on the all-sufficiency of virtue. "Pa ta tra! and
that 's dog French for it ! " he chuckles as he closes
the book with a snap.

His disdain of the lowly is chiefly induced by their
interested chatter, as born fools, about the right and
the wrong. His wrath against George, dating from
the fateful outburst on the night of the meeting, has
never cooled. He despises Liddicot as a weakling.

23 353



The Yellow Van

He hopes to win Mary yet by sheer force of will.
He feels sure that the reversion of the honors and the
pride and power of feudalism is to his order. To
them the country-side must ultimately come, by right
of that modern lordship of gold that has taken the
place of the lordship of the sword.

His next victory promises to be at the expense
of the Duke of Allonby. He has finally consented
to sell, and on extremely reasonable terms, the piece
of land which has so long spoiled the view from The
Towers. The real price is an invitation to dinner.
The solicitors have met once more, and Mr. Kisbye 's
have suggested that his client may be found tractable
on these terms. The duke has undertaken to see
what can be done, and has even sounded his wife.
Augusta said never a word.



354



XLI




T is nearly a year since Mr. Gooding
left. Now he is at Liddicot again,
and crossing the moat on his way
to luncheon with the squire. He
found the invitation waiting for
him on his arrival at Allonby last
night.

The scene was pretty much the same as before
the visitor on the drawbridge, Mary in espial at the
turret window. The squire did the honors of recep-
tion, with his son at hand. It would have been im-
possible to exceed their cordiality. Tom, now nearly
well, has raised the young American to the highest
grade in his esteem. He has announced his de-
liberate conviction that Mr. Gooding is "a sports-
man." Beyond this, notoriously, it is impossible to
go, as it includes the lower degree of one who "plays
the game." He means the game of life, though his
praise might be more precious if he meant the game
of polo.

He is quite happy once more, and has returned to
his old cheery conception of the terrestrial sphere
as a picnic for persons of position. Mary has been
busy with him in loving care of his convalescence,
and for him in promoting an inquisitorial examina-

355



The Yellow Van

tion of his affairs by the family solicitors. Messrs.
Stallbrass, Stallbrass, Fruhling, Jenkins & Prothero
have succeeded in bringing Kisbye to something that
may be called terms. Tom is going to lead a new life.
It is a pleasant illusion for him and for his relatives.
These total changes of heart and conduct belong to
the imaginative literature of resolve.

Delighted as she was, Mary met her old friend
with something of embarrassment. She was no
longer the rather critical young person trying to
classify him for her pigeon-holes of character. He
had established a kind of mastery over her spirit,
just because he never made the vestige of a claim.
There he was, always efficient in an emergency, and,
to all appearance, as indeed very much in reality,
never in the least degree aware of it. Mary began
to wonder how she could carry it through, and to
arrange her commonplaces in advance a fatal por-
tent of discomfiture in encounters of this description.

His tact, or perhaps only the mere human nature
in him, saved them both. They had been separated
long enough to have memories in common ; and, when
they found themselves alone in a walk after luncheon,
he, without the slighest effort, became the boy again.
It gave her immense relief by putting her, at least
for the moment, on their old footing. He had struck
the note of the "chatter of irresponsible frivolity"
as between boy and girl.

"And the good old automatic supply?" he asked.
"Still going strong?"

"Now please be intelligible."

35 6



The Yellow Van

"Raif ' s village penny in the slot, and the figures
work. ' '

"Don't be irreverent."

' ' And the worst of it is, they work best when you
put in pebbles. But there, I 'm not bound to crim-
inate myself."

"That 's a confession. Now I know who brought
Grimb'er and Job together on that awful day."

"I can prove an alibi. I was under Augusta's
eye all the time."

"I hope you have n't come back to upset any more
apple-carts, even Mr. Kaif's."

"No; duty before pleasure when the bell rings."

A certain change in him had not escaped Mary's
eye. He was very much the man now. She liked
him the better for it, yet it made their present foot-
ing of mere banter hard to maintain.

"Poor little Slocum you won't care for it any
more. ' '

"More than ever, perhaps, in a way."

"But you are going back soon to look after your
own villagers."

"My villagers!" he laughed.

"What have I said wrong now?"

"Nothing at all. And all I mean to say is that
they 're not exactly taking any just now."

"Any what?"

"Looking after."

"How do they manage, I wonder?"

"They manage for themselves, I fancy," he said.

"What a funny country!"

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The Yellow Van

"Oh, it 's just their way. You see, they are all
so many little Dukes of Allonby, ownership and all ;
and you can 't imagine the extent of their investments
in false pride."

"Five hundred villagers, five hundred masters.
Does n 't it seem simpler, now, to cut down the mas-
ters by four hundred and ninety-nine?"

"Simpler for the one?" he said. "But it would
be sheer depopulation: the villagers would have to
follow suit. Ah, you must travel if you want to see
sights. I always call Slocum my new world."

"I know why you came," she said slyly. "Au-
gusta told me. You 're the American invasion."

He gave a little start, then laughed. "What 's
that?"

"Don't look so innocent. You want to buy up
things here. You '11 never do it; we won't sell."

"Not even your match factories and your steam
lines?"

"Oh, things of that sort!"

"What other things, Miss Mary?"

"Well, the fine things Westminster Abbey, for
instance. ' '

"We don't bid even for the pulpit, in spite of
the Christian Science and the wisdom of the East
that now go with the lot."

"Allonby Castle, perhaps?"

The vein of irony was so unusual with her that
she grew discursive with the novelty of the sensation.
"The land will soon be about the only thing we have
left. Why not try that?"

358



The Yellow Van

He was silent. It was a good shot. His trust was
actually meditating the greatest venture of all the
purchase of a huge tract of land in England for the
experiment of farming under modern conditions and
on the grand scale. Farming as an industry was
their watchword, not as the mere labor test of a
pauper caste. And, for their principle, they held
that not the English land, but only the English land
system, had broken down. Fields laid out, plowed,
sown, and reaped by the square mile, with good
wages for good workers, each man straining to do his
best under the inducements of hope ; the farm-house
a laboratory; the farm-hands chemist's assistants;
the barn an engineer's shop; the hall abolished as
only a more glittering poorhouse; the best tools, the
best brains, the best men everywhere; the market-
place a real exchange, with the railways brought into
line, by purchase, too, if need be, as parts of the
wondrous plan. And, for the glorious outcome, Eng-
land fed without protection from her own fields, and
the surplus exported at a profit to the United States.

''Uncle Sam as the 'squoire,' " she continued
"tail-coat, straps, and all. A second conquest of
England."

' ' Why conquer when you can buy ? ' '

' ' Dear old Allonby ! Dear old Liddicot ! ' '

"Dear old China!"

"Now I wonder what that means ! I don't see the
point."

"I was thinking of the worship of ancestors," he
said.

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The Yellow Van

"Well, I don't mind telling you I was thinking
of our poor aristocracy and gentry. ' '

"Same thing."

"We don't worship them; we respect them for
having made England what it is."

"Indeed they have."

"That 's a sneer," said Mary.

"It is, and I ask your pardon. But please con-
sider the provocation not from you ; oh, never from
you ! ' ' And he went on with a vehemence, albeit de-
liberate and restrained, that she had never seen in
him before : ' ' Such a country going to such waste !
Such a system for running England without the co-
operation of the English people! Training them
down to the level of their position, not up to the
level of their powers and their rights. Their educa-
tion, high and low, still a joke for the competing
foreigner, and a clerical one at that! The infinite
littleness of the whole thing, the poverty of the
issues, the inaccessibility to ideas!"

"We are not going to have our country ruled on
'business principles,' " she faltered.

"Why not, Miss Mary? Business principles are
honor, honesty, justice from man to man. What 's
the matter with them?"

"Wooden nutmegs there!" cried Mary, seizing
the first missile that came to hand.

"Remounts," he retorted, breaking into a hearty
laugh. "The men who managed that business have
not much to learn from anybody."

360



The Yellow Van

But Mary was not beaten yet. She remembered
what she had heard from the squire as to the humble-
ness of Mr. Gooding's origin. Her pride of birth
came to her aid. To think of it this person with
his masterful way with his betters, separated by only
two generations from a peasant of one of her fa-
ther's fields!

"You must not talk to me like that," she said in
her grandest manner the manner which she had
caught less by precept than by the mere example of
the picture-gallery at Liddicot.

The real sting of the rebuke was entirely lost on
the young man. It had never occurred to him that
he might not approach her on a footing of perfect
social equality. The only degrees he knew of in his
dealings with his fellow-creatures were those of sense,
energy, and courage faculty, in a word, with, of
course, a due allowance for the voluntary service of
homage where women were concerned. Her tone now
made him keenly apprehensive that he might have
been wanting in the last.

"I am afraid I have failed in respect," he said.
"Please forgive me again."

"It is nothing for which you need care to have
my forgiveness," said Mary, coldly, quite misun-
derstanding him still.

"I would not say anything displeasing to you for
the world."

' ' I am afraid you would, ' ' said Mary, still with a
good deal of heat beneath the surface of ice.

361



The Yellow Van

"Is not that rather ungenerous?"

"It is not meant so, I assure you. You might
sometimes fail to understand, that is all."

"That is it," he said, with the same innocent
audacity as before. "One does not take the proper
account of ways of thinking, ways of life. ' '

It was an apology to the woman still, not to the
squire's daughter.

"We are not exactly your inferiors please re-
member that," she said, by way of putting him on
the right track.

"I know little of the others, but I shall always
consider myself yours. ' '

She began to think that he had caught her mean-
ing at last, but she was woefully mistaken.

"Do you suppose that I could so long have had
the privilege of your companionship without feeling
the superiority of your goodness, of your devotion to
your father and your brother, the charm of ' '

If he saved himself from a still more personal com-
pliment, it was only by a hair's-breadth.

Mary began to understand at last, and she left
the society of her ancestors and came back to her
own time. The mention of her brother turned the
whole current of her thoughts as with a pang of the
sense of ingratitude.

"My devotion ! Can I ever forget yours the long
journey ' '

"An outing."

And in that train of thoughts came the memory


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