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And her Grace hurried along in an opposite direction, to thank Cicely for
past favours and to express lively gratitude for the Tuesday to come.

The guests departed, with a rather irritating slowness, for which perhaps
the excellence of Cicely's buffet arrangements was partly responsible.
The great drawing-room seemed to grow larger and more oppressive as the
human wave receded, and the hostess fled at last with some relief to the
narrower limits of her writing-room and the sedative influences of a
cigarette. She was inclined to be sorry for herself; the triumph of the
afternoon had turned out much as she had predicted at lunch time. Her
idol of onyx had not been swept from its pedestal, but the pedestal
itself had an air of being packed up ready for transport to some other
temple. Ronnie would be flattered and spoiled by half a hundred people,
just because he could conjure sounds out of a keyboard, and Cicely felt
no great incentive to go on flattering and spoiling him herself. And
Ronnie would acquiesce in his dismissal with the good grace born of
indifference - the surest guarantor of perfect manners. Already he had
social engagements for the coming months in which she had no share; the
drifting apart would be mutual. He had been an intelligent and amusing
companion, and he had played the game as she had wished it to be played,
without the fatigue of keeping up pretences which neither of them could
have believed in. "Let us have a wonderfully good time together" had
been the single stipulation in their unwritten treaty of comradeship, and
they had had the good time. Their whole-hearted pursuit of material
happiness would go on as keenly as before, but they would hunt in
different company, that was all. Yes, that was all. . . .

Cicely found the effect of her cigarette less sedative than she was
disposed to exact. It might be necessary to change the brand. Some ten
or eleven days later Yeovil read an announcement in the papers that, in
spite of handsome offers of increased salary, Mr. Tony Luton, the
original singer of the popular ditty "Eccleston Square," had terminated
his engagement with Messrs. Isaac Grosvenor and Leon Hebhardt of the
Caravansery Theatre, and signed on as a deck hand in the Canadian Marine.

Perhaps after all there had been some shred of glory amid the trumpet
triumph of that July afternoon.




CHAPTER XV: THE INTELLIGENT ANTICIPATOR OF WANTS


Two of Yeovil's London clubs, the two that he had been accustomed to
frequent, had closed their doors after the catastrophe. One of them had
perished from off the face of the earth, its fittings had been sold and
its papers lay stored in some solicitor's office, a tit-bit of material
for the pen of some future historian. The other had transplanted itself
to Delhi, whither it had removed its early Georgian furniture and its
traditions, and sought to reproduce its St. James's Street atmosphere as
nearly as the conditions of a tropical Asiatic city would permit. There
remained the Cartwheel, a considerably newer institution, which had
sprung into existence somewhere about the time of Yeovil's last sojourn
in England; he had joined it on the solicitation of a friend who was
interested in the venture, and his bankers had paid his subscription
during his absence. As he had never been inside its doors there could be
no depressing comparisons to make between its present state and aforetime
glories, and Yeovil turned into its portals one afternoon with the
adventurous detachment of a man who breaks new ground and challenges new
experiences.

He entered with a diffident sense of intrusion, conscious that his
standing as a member might not be recognised by the keepers of the doors;
in a moment, however, he realised that a rajah's escort of elephants
might almost have marched through the entrance hall and vestibule without
challenge. The general atmosphere of the scene suggested a blend of the
railway station at Cologne, the Hotel Bristol in any European capital,
and the second act in most musical comedies. A score of brilliant and
brilliantined pages decorated the foreground, while Hebraic-looking
gentlemen, wearing tartan waistcoats of the clans of their adoption,
flitted restlessly between the tape machines and telephone boxes. The
army of occupation had obviously established a firm footing in the
hospitable premises; a kaleidoscopic pattern of uniforms, sky-blue,
indigo, and bottle-green, relieved the civilian attire of the groups that
clustered in lounge and card rooms and corridors. Yeovil rapidly came to
the conclusion that the joys of membership were not for him. He had
turned to go, after a very cursory inspection of the premises and their
human occupants, when he was hailed by a young man, dressed with
strenuous neatness, whom he remembered having met in past days at the
houses of one or two common friends.

Hubert Herlton's parents had brought him into the world, and some twenty-
one years later had put him into a motor business. Having taken these
pardonable liberties they had completely exhausted their ideas of what to
do with him, and Hubert seemed unlikely to develop any ideas of his own
on the subject. The motor business elected to conduct itself without his
connivance; journalism, the stage, tomato culture (without capital), and
other professions that could be entered on at short notice were submitted
to his consideration by nimble-minded relations and friends. He listened
to their suggestions with polite indifference, being rude only to a
cousin who demonstrated how he might achieve a settled income of from two
hundred to a thousand pounds a year by the propagation of mushrooms in a
London basement. While his walk in life was still an undetermined
promenade his parents died, leaving him with a carefully-invested income
of thirty-seven pounds a year. At that point of his career Yeovil's
knowledge of him stopped short; the journey to Siberia had taken him
beyond the range of Herlton's domestic vicissitudes.

The young man greeted him in a decidedly friendly manner.

"I didn't know you were a member here," he exclaimed.

"It's the first time I've ever been in the club," said Yeovil, "and I
fancy it will be the last. There is rather too much of the fighting
machine in evidence here. One doesn't want a perpetual reminder of what
has happened staring one in the face."

"We tried at first to keep the alien element out," said Herlton
apologetically, "but we couldn't have carried on the club if we'd stuck
to that line. You see we'd lost more than two-thirds of our old members
so we couldn't afford to be exclusive. As a matter of fact the whole
thing was decided over our heads; a new syndicate took over the concern,
and a new committee was installed, with a good many foreigners on it. I
know it's horrid having these uniforms flaunting all over the place, but
what is one to do?"

Yeovil said nothing, with the air of a man who could have said a great
deal.

"I suppose you wonder, why remain a member under those conditions?"
continued Herlton. "Well, as far as I am concerned, a place like this is
a necessity for me. In fact, it's my profession, my source of income."

"Are you as good at bridge as all that?" asked Yeovil; "I'm a fairly
successful player myself, but I should be sorry to have to live on my
winnings, year in, year out."

"I don't play cards," said Herlton, "at least not for serious stakes. My
winnings or losings wouldn't come to a tenner in an average year. No, I
live by commissions, by introducing likely buyers to would-be sellers."

"Sellers of what?" asked Yeovil.

"Anything, everything; horses, yachts, old masters, plate, shootings,
poultry-farms, week-end cottages, motor cars, almost anything you can
think of. Look," and he produced from his breast pocket a bulky note-
book illusorily inscribed "engagements."

"Here," he explained, tapping the book, "I've got a double entry of every
likely client that I know, with a note of the things he may have to sell
and the things he may want to buy. When it is something that he has for
sale there are cross-references to likely purchasers of that particular
line of article. I don't limit myself to things that I actually know
people to be in want of, I go further than that and have theories,
carefully indexed theories, as to the things that people might want to
buy. At the right moment, if I can get the opportunity, I mention the
article that is in my mind's eye to the possible purchaser who has also
been in my mind's eye, and I frequently bring off a sale. I started a
chance acquaintance on a career of print-buying the other day merely by
telling him of a couple of good prints that I knew of, that were to be
had at a quite reasonable price; he is a man with more money than he
knows what to do with, and he has laid out quite a lot on old prints
since his first purchase. Most of his collection he has got through me,
and of course I net a commission on each transaction. So you see, old
man, how useful, not to say necessary, a club with a large membership is
to me. The more mixed and socially chaotic it is, the more serviceable
it is."

"Of course," said Yeovil, "and I suppose, as a matter of fact, a good
many of your clients belong to the conquering race."

"Well, you see, they are the people who have got the money," said
Herlton; "I don't mean to say that the invading Germans are usually
people of wealth, but while they live over here they escape the crushing
taxation that falls on the British-born subject. They serve their
country as soldiers, and we have to serve it in garrison money, ship
money and so forth, besides the ordinary taxes of the State. The German
shoulders the rifle, the Englishman has to shoulder everything else. That
is what will help more than anything towards the gradual Germanising of
our big towns; the comparatively lightly-taxed German workman over here
will have a much bigger spending power and purchasing power than his
heavily taxed English neighbour. The public-houses, bars, eating-houses,
places of amusement and so forth, will come to cater more and more for
money-yielding German patronage. The stream of British emigration will
swell rather than diminish, and the stream of Teuton immigration will be
equally persistent and progressive. Yes, the military-service ordinance
was a cunning stroke on the part of that old fox, von Kwarl. As a
civilian statesman he is far and away cleverer than Bismarck was; he
smothers with a feather-bed where Bismarck would have tried to smash with
a sledge-hammer."

"Have you got me down on your list of noteworthy people?" asked Yeovil,
turning the drift of the conversation back to the personal topic.

"Certainly I have," said Herlton, turning the pages of his pocket
directory to the letter Y. "As soon as I knew you were back in England I
made several entries concerning you. In the first place it was possible
that you might have a volume on Siberian travel and natural history notes
to publish, and I've cross-referenced you to a publisher I know who
rather wants books of that sort on his list."

"I may tell you at once that I've no intentions in that direction," said
Yeovil, in some amusement.

"Just as well," said Herlton cheerfully, scribbling a hieroglyphic in his
book; "that branch of business is rather outside my line - too little in
it, and the gratitude of author and publisher for being introduced to one
another is usually short-lived. A more serious entry was the item that
if you were wintering in England you would be looking out for a hunter or
two. You used to hunt with the East Wessex, I remember; I've got just
the very animal that will suit that country, ready waiting for you. A
beautiful clean jumper. I've put it over a fence or two myself, and you
and I ride much the same weight. A stiffish price is being asked for it,
but I've got the letters D.O. after your name."

"In Heaven's name," said Yeovil, now openly grinning, "before I die of
curiosity tell me what D.O. stands for."

"It means some one who doesn't object to pay a good price for anything
that really suits him. There are some people of course who won't
consider a thing unless they can get it for about a third of what they
imagine to be its market value. I've got another suggestion down against
you in my book; you may not be staying in the country at all, you may be
clearing out in disgust at existing conditions. In that case you would
be selling a lot of things that you wouldn't want to cart away with you.
That involves another set of entries and a whole lot of cross
references."

"I'm afraid I've given you a lot of trouble," said Yeovil drily.

"Not at all," said Herlton, "but it would simplify matters if we take it
for granted that you are going to stay here, for this winter anyhow, and
are looking out for hunters. Can you lunch with me here on Wednesday,
and come and look at the animal afterwards? It's only thirty-five
minutes by train. It will take us longer if we motor. There is a two-
fifty-three from Charing Cross that we could catch comfortably."

"If you are going to persuade me to hunt in the East Wessex country this
season," said Yeovil, "you must find me a convenient hunting box
somewhere down there."

"I have found it," said Herlton, whipping out a stylograph, and hastily
scribbling an "order to view" on a card; "central as possible for all the
meets, grand stabling accommodation, excellent water-supply, big
bathroom, game larder, cellarage, a bakehouse if you want to bake your
own bread - "

"Any land with it?"

"Not enough to be a nuisance. An acre or two of paddock and about the
same of garden. You are fond of wild things; a wood comes down to the
edge of the garden, a wood that harbours owls and buzzards and kestrels."

"Have you got all those details in your book?" asked Yeovil; "'wood
adjoining property, O.B.K.'"

"I keep those details in my head," said Herlton, "but they are quite
reliable."

"I shall insist on something substantial off the rent if there are no
buzzards," said Yeovil; "now that you have mentioned them they seem an
indispensable accessory to any decent hunting-box. Look," he exclaimed,
catching sight of a plump middle-aged individual, crossing the vestibule
with an air of restrained importance, "there goes the delectable
Pitherby. Does he come on your books at all?"

"I should say!" exclaimed Herlton fervently. "The delectable P.
nourishes expectations of a barony or viscounty at an early date. Most
of his life has been spent in streets and squares, with occasional
migrations to the esplanades of fashionable watering-places or the
gravelled walks of country house gardens. Now that noblesse is about to
impose its obligations on him, quite a new catalogue of wants has sprung
into his mind. There are things that a plain esquire may leave undone
without causing scandalised remark, but a fiercer light beats on a baron.
Trigger-pulling is one of the obligations. Up to the present Pitherby
has never hit a partridge in anger, but this year he has commissioned me
to rent him a deer forest. Some pedigree Herefords for his 'home farm'
was another commission, and a dozen and a half swans for a swannery. The
swannery, I may say, was my idea; I said once in his hearing that it gave
a baronial air to an estate; you see I knew a man who had got a lot of
surplus swan stock for sale. Now Pitherby wants a heronry as well. I've
put him in communication with a client of mine who suffers from
superfluous herons, but of course I can't guarantee that the birds'
nesting arrangements will fall in with his territorial requirement. I'm
getting him some carp, too, of quite respectable age, for a carp pond; I
thought it would look so well for his lady-wife to be discovered by
interviewers feeding the carp with her own fair hands, and I put the same
idea into Pitherby's mind."

"I had no idea that so many things were necessary to endorse a patent of
nobility," said Yeovil. "If there should be any miscarriage in the
bestowal of the honour at least Pitherby will have absolved himself from
any charge of contributory negligence."

"Shall we say Wednesday, here, one o'clock, lunch first, and go down and
look at the horse afterwards?" said Herlton, returning to the matter in
hand.

Yeovil hesitated, then he nodded his head.

"There is no harm in going to look at the animal," he said.




CHAPTER XVI: SUNRISE


Mrs. Kerrick sat at a little teak-wood table in the verandah of a low-
pitched teak-built house that stood on the steep slope of a brown
hillside. Her youngest child, with the grave natural dignity of nine-
year old girlhood, maintained a correct but observant silence, looking
carefully yet unobtrusively after the wants of the one guest, and
checking from time to time the incursions of ubiquitous ants that were
obstinately disposed to treat the table-cloth as a foraging ground. The
wayfaring visitor, who was experiencing a British blend of Eastern
hospitality, was a French naturalist, travelling thus far afield in quest
of feathered specimens to enrich the aviaries of a bird-collecting Balkan
King. On the previous evening, while shrugging his shoulders and
unloosing his vocabulary over the meagre accommodation afforded by the
native rest-house, he had been enchanted by receiving an invitation to
transfer his quarters to the house on the hillside, where he found not
only a pleasant-voiced hostess and some drinkable wine, but three brown-
skinned English youngsters who were able to give him a mass of
intelligent first-hand information about the bird life of the region. And
now, at the early morning breakfast, ere yet the sun was showing over the
rim of the brown-baked hills, he was learning something of the life of
the little community he had chanced on. "I was in these parts many years
ago," explained the hostess, "when my husband was alive and had an
appointment out here. It is a healthy hill district and I had pleasant
memories of the place, so when it became necessary, well, desirable let
us say, to leave our English home and find a new one, it occurred to me
to bring my boys and my little girl here - my eldest girl is at school in
Paris. Labour is cheap here and I try my hand at farming in a small way.
Of course it is very different work to just superintending the dairy and
poultry-yard arrangements of an English country estate. There are so
many things, insect ravages, bird depredations, and so on, that one only
knows on a small scale in England, that happen here in wholesale fashion,
not to mention droughts and torrential rains and other tropical
visitations. And then the domestic animals are so disconcertingly
different from the ones one has been used to; humped cattle never seem to
behave in the way that straight-backed cattle would, and goats and geese
and chickens are not a bit the same here that they are in Europe - and of
course the farm servants are utterly unlike the same class in England.
One has to unlearn a good deal of what one thought one knew about stock-
keeping and agriculture, and take note of the native ways of doing
things; they are primitive and unenterprising of course, but they have an
accumulated store of experience behind them, and one has to tread warily
in initiating improvements."

The Frenchman looked round at the brown sun-scorched hills, with the
dusty empty road showing here and there in the middle distance and other
brown sun-scorched hills rounding off the scene; he looked at the lizards
on the verandah walls, at the jars for keeping the water cool, at the
numberless little insect-bored holes in the furniture, at the heat-drawn
lines on his hostess's comely face. Notwithstanding his present
wanderings he had a Frenchman's strong homing instinct, and he marvelled
to hear this lady, who should have been a lively and popular figure in
the social circle of some English county town, talking serenely of the
ways of humped cattle and native servants.

"And your children, how do they like the change?" he asked.

"It is healthy up here among the hills," said the mother, also looking
round at the landscape and thinking doubtless of a very different scene;
"they have an outdoor life and plenty of liberty. They have their ponies
to ride, and there is a lake up above us that is a fine place for them to
bathe and boat in; the three boys are there now, having their morning
swim. The eldest is sixteen and he is allowed to have a gun, and there
is some good wild fowl shooting to be had in the reed beds at the further
end of the lake. I think that part of the joy of his shooting
expeditions lies in the fact that many of the duck and plover that he
comes across belong to the same species that frequent our English moors
and rivers."

It was the first hint that she had given of a wistful sense of exile, the
yearning for other skies, the message that a dead bird's plumage could
bring across rolling seas and scorching plains.

"And the education of your boys, how do you manage for that?" asked the
visitor.

"There is a young tutor living out in these wilds," said Mrs. Kerrick;
"he was assistant master at a private school in Scotland, but it had to
be given up when - when things changed; so many of the boys left the
country. He came out to an uncle who has a small estate eight miles from
here, and three days in the week he rides over to teach my boys, and
three days he goes to another family living in the opposite direction. To-
day he is due to come here. It is a great boon to have such an
opportunity for getting the boys educated, and of course it helps him to
earn a living."

"And the society of the place?" asked the Frenchman.

His hostess laughed.

"I must admit it has to be looked for with a strong pair of
field-glasses," she said; "it is almost as difficult to get a good bridge
four together as it would have been to get up a tennis tournament or a
subscription dance in our particular corner of England. One has to
ignore distances and forget fatigue if one wants to be gregarious even on
a limited scale. There are one or two officials who are our chief social
mainstays, but the difficulty is to muster the few available souls under
the same roof at the same moment. A road will be impassable in one
quarter, a pony will be lame in another, a stress of work will prevent
some one else from coming, and another may be down with a touch of fever.
When my little girl gave a birthday party here her only little girl guest
had come twelve miles to attend it. The Forest officer happened to drop
in on us that evening, so we felt quite festive."

The Frenchman's eyes grew round in wonder. He had once thought that the
capital city of a Balkan kingdom was the uttermost limit of social
desolation, viewed from a Parisian standpoint, and there at any rate one
could get cafe chantant, tennis, picnic parties, an occasional theatre
performance by a foreign troupe, now and then a travelling circus, not to
speak of Court and diplomatic functions of a more or less sociable
character. Here, it seemed, one went a day's journey to reach an
evening's entertainment, and the chance arrival of a tired official took
on the nature of a festivity. He looked round again at the rolling
stretches of brown hills; before he had regarded them merely as the
background to this little shut-away world, now he saw that they were
foreground as well. They were everything, there was nothing else. And
again his glance travelled to the face of his hostess, with its bright,
pleasant eyes and smiling mouth.

"And you live here with your children," he said, "here in this
wilderness? You leave England, you leave everything, for this?"

His hostess rose and took him over to the far side of the verandah. The
beginnings of a garden were spread out before them, with young fruit
trees and flowering shrubs, and bushes of pale pink roses. Exuberant
tropical growths were interspersed with carefully tended vestiges of
plants that had evidently been brought from a more temperate climate, and
had not borne the transition well. Bushes and trees and shrubs spread
away for some distance, to where the ground rose in a small hillock and
then fell away abruptly into bare hillside.

"In all this garden that you see," said the Englishwoman, "there is one
tree that is sacred."

"A tree?" said the Frenchman.

"A tree that we could not grow in England."

The Frenchman followed the direction of her eyes and saw a tall, bare
pole at the summit of the hillock. At the same moment the sun came over
the hilltops in a deep, orange glow, and a new light stole like magic


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