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brown honeycomb as it clustered up to the castle. Like
stripes down the hill went the steep, narrow streets, ma-
king silver shadows along the walls that were yellow and
dull like dirty gold. They discussed the city a little.
Then Fenor showed his acquaintance with Spanish liter-
ature, with Ibanez and Perez Galdos; he spoke of the
drama of Benavente and Echegaray. Little by little it
was time for dinner. But Grace had had to make a few
purchases in the town and Fenor had stood aimlessly,
chafing a little, in the perfumer's shop and at the shoe-
maker's, while, it seemed, she took endless time to buy
what she wanted; she made him translate incomprehen-
sible reasons why this did not suit, and explain what she
did want only to have it shown, then to say again that
that was not what she wanted. He chafed badly. He
was a man that was not his way of shopping. Time
passed, and anxiety seized him. It was hardly after seven
and yet he was haunted by the idea that she might miss
her train. Another night no, not that. For two hours
the thought lay heavy upon him, and as the minutes sped
he found that he was hurrying her, until at last she turned
on him.

" There's no hurry," she said, " we've got an hour and
a half."

" Oh, well," he said, ashamedly, " there are so few
trains, you see."

They did not speak for a while. They hated each other
and themselves because each one could not bear the thought
of missing the train, and could bear still less the idea that
the other one feared that the train might be missed.

Dinner was abominable, for Gerona, it seemed, was not
ready for visitors. They entered the restaurant at a quar-
ter past seven, and by twenty-five past even hors d'&uvres
had not yet come. Fenor called the waiter only to b
soothed and, he felt, lied to. Then there was a long pause.
The waiter, summoned again, merely remarked that the
fish was being fried. They sat, anxious and raging, hear-


ing in the distance the faint sounds of the frying which
it seemed would never cease. There were breaks in the
conversation, which was polite and strained. They watched
the clock and neither suggested that this could not go on.
A vile thing, a rump steak the waiter called it, about a
quarter of an inch thick, was served dripping with olive
oil. Still they waited and waited until the clock pointed to
ten past eight and Fenor lost his temper, asked the waiter
whether they were digging for the potatoes in the gar-

It was horrible because neither of them had the courage
to say: " Let us go." They had to be dignified to the
end, and because they were dignified they had to torture
each other and be courteous.

Then they were on the platform, waiting for the train.
They had ten minutes to wait and nothing to do. " Oh,"
thought Fenor, " if only there were luggage to register,
or something! " But there was nothing to do except to
wait. There was not even a crowd to notice, no curious
native; there was nobody winding up a private affair:
just two or three black-clad men, probably commercial
travellers, sitting stodgily by the side of their bags, and
an old couple upon a bench, almost asleep. So they stood
on that platform as on an island, horribly alone. They
were alone and they suffered from it, they who had risked
so much to be alone. Then they heard a clicking: the
signal! And suddenly a wave of excitement passed
through them. At last ! The station became busy, officials
appeared, porters made noises. It was better now, for
the strain was over and both of them were invaded by
a shameful joy because now there was to be no more wait-
ing, but action. Then, in that last minute, a sorrow fell
upon them, not the bitter blinding sorrow that brings
tears, but something soft that was almost sweet. They
held each other's hands, looked into each other's eyes.

" Good-bye," Grace murmured. " "We've been very
happy, haven't we? " He nodded. He did not want to
speak. Grace was more anxious. " Good-bye,*' she said.
Then after a pause: " Enoch, say you won't forget me."


He shook his head; being a man he feared himself.
It was all right for her to talk. If she cried it wouldn't
matter, but how ridiculous he would be if he didn't keep
a stiff lip to the end. In the distance they heard a sound,
a rumble, low and growing. They listened. Yes, there
was not a minute left.

' ' Good-bye, ' ' said Grace again, very close to him.

Fenor spoke, very close to her. " Must we? " he mur-
mured. Then, answering himself : ' ' Yes, of course. ' '
They remained so standing for a moment as slowly the
train pulled up in front of them

A few minutes later Grace sat alone in the carriage,
her hands loose upon her lap, trembling, for she still felt
about her the last clasp of his arms, and that last kiss upon
her cheek, so soft and so violent that she could still feel
it hurting her.


Grace looked out of the window of her little white bed-
room at the Hotel d'Angleterre. It was ten o'clock in
the morning; over the sea that was smooth and light as
aquamarine little barks with brown lateen sails chased
each other. She found herself without spirit; tired, she
thought. That was likely after fourteen hours in the train.
"I'd better lie down," she said aloud. She turned
towards her bed, but before she undressed she considered,
thinking vague thoughts. A big jar upon the dressing-
table was full of heavy, full-blown roses. They were very
beautiful. As she looked, a petal detached itself from
the greatest of the roses and fell silently upon the wood.
A little later another petal fell, as the rose blooming to
fullness began to bloom towards its end. Grace remained
standing for a long time, head down and hands clasped
behind her, watching the slow fall upon the wood of the
petals of the rose.



THE thin, grey rain had ceased to fall. It was October,
and the three sisters were gathered together in the draw-
ing-room of the house near Sevenoaks where Clara had
passed the last five months. The room opened out into
the garden. The gravel paths were strewn with dead
leaves, the gold of which had by rain been tarnished until
they made a brown carpet everywhere. In a big, sheltered
bush hung a spider's web, and in the midst a great, sulky
October spider, the light markings upon its back obscure.
It did not move, and its long limbs seemed drawn closer
to its body than the day before, as if it felt in the air
the -coming of winter and of death that made it languid
and careless.

Clara stretched her thin limbs upon the sofa, sat up to
look into the garden, and spoke half to herself :

" I shan't mind going back to town."

" No," said Mary, " I suppose it's been dull for you? "

" Well " said Clara, and hesitated, " I don't know.
It hasn't always rained, you see, and it's been rather fun
watching the dahlias, seeing them bud, and then become
flowers, and the flowers fall and all that."

Mary did not reply for a while, but examined very
carefully the piece of fancy-work which she was engaged
on. " So you haven't been bored," she said.

" No," said Clara, " I think I've been too tired to be
bored. ' ' Grace turned to looked at her sister. She thought
that Clara spoke queerly, considering what she had been;
somehow she would have expected her to say that she was
jolly glad to get back to town, not that she " wouldn't
mind." But then a complete nervous breakdown involv-


ing a convalescence of five months, during the first three
of which Lady Govan had not been allowed to receive a
letter or read a newspaper, must have worked a change.
A physical change she perceived: Clara, who had always
been slim, was now very thin. One could see clearly the
bones of her wrists, and over the woolly white coat she
was swaddled in the line of her jaw had almost a cutting
edge under the skin; the neck was stringy; the whole
face had changed; it had been reduced to its simplest ele-
ments of skin, tendon and bone, out of which the eyes
shone wonderfully blue, not like lobelias, so shy, but al-
most violet, very large in the shadow of the brows that
seemed to overhang more now that the eyeballs had receded
a little.

" D'you think you ought to go back yet? You don't
look very fit."

" I don't know," said Clara, " but I don't mind. The
doctor's sending me back I suppose it's all right. In
fact, he says I must get about a bit and not be slack."

Mary laughed contentedly. " Oh, he needn't have told
you that, Clara, you'll be on the run in a week." There
was a very long pause, and then Clara said: " Oh, no."
After another pause, Mary replied: " Oh, you'll have to;
London's so busy, it's catching. Why, I couldn't stop
if I wanted to."

" It's all right for you, Mary," said Grace, " with your
seven children, or is it eight? I really forget the number
of that August one."

" Don't be silly, G.," said Mary, still good-tempered,
while Clara gave a high little laugh at the elementary joke.

"I'm not being silly," said Grace, quietly. " You
think I'm joking, Mary, but I'm not. It's all right hav-
ing eight children (I make it eight until corrected) ; it
gives you something to do."

" Sure enough," said Mary. " Bother! This stitch is
too much for me."

For some time, while she struggled with the fancy-work,
Grace looked at her. Yes, Mary was all right. Then,
with a little sigh, she got up and went to the window.

HOPE 429

Once more the rain had begun to fall and she could hear
it very gentle, drop by drop, making sodden the wet leaves.
Beyond the garden she saw the side of a quarry, all white,
with ruddy brown streaks of clay flashing through it, and
a veil of rain that slowly grew across it, thicker and
thicker ; she watched the veil become dense, turn the white
of the quarry into grey, then blot it out. When she could
see nothing before her save the pall of rain that was now
like a tenuous wall, bluish and in its higher parts pearly,
she ceased to see the world without and was able to look
within herself. She was calm and she was not unhappy.
She was in that state which is the common ease of man,
between joy and misery. It was not suffering, that was
all over; indeed she was conscious of a health, a strength
she did not quite understand. It was not boisterous
health; she had no desire to sing or play tricks on any-
body. She just had a sensation of setness ; of being there
and knowing that she was there.

" It's funny," she thought, " I feel so established, like
the Albert Memorial." She smiled at herself. " Some-
how it 's as inconceivable that I should move as that the
august monument could be blown up by the suffragettes. ' '
She turned to Clara. " I wonder " she said, then she
stopped a little guiltily, but Lady Govan was no longer
pettish and did not say in an injured tone: " Oh, do stop
wondering. ' '

Grace missed the repartee; as a result, she found that
she did not know what she was wondering about, and
almost told herself : ' ' "Well, what are you wondering about
now? " Still, after a time, Mary said:

" You wonder what? "

" Well," said Grace, " I hardly know."

" Then," said Mary, comfortably, " there's nothing to
wonder about, G., unless you're wondering what you're
going to do now."

" Now? " said Grace, and her voice sounded a little
frightened. " Oh, I don't know, don't let's talk about
it. Let's talk about something interesting; about you."

"I'm sure that's not interesting," said Mary, " except


to me." Both her sisters laughed at the naive egotism.
" I suppose you think that's very smug," said Mary.
" But still, it's like that, we all do think about ourselves;
we only pretend not to just because we're polite."

" Or because we're fat," said Clara, with a touch of
her old aggressiveness.

" Perhaps," said Mary, " I like being fat. In a sort
of way, d'you know, I think one's happier when one's

Grace smiled. " There may be something in your the-
ory, Mary. I know I've lost a few pounds in weight this
summer, but you look happy enough."

" Yes," said Mary, seriously, "I'm all right; I suppose
I always have been never had much time to be anything
else. Oh, it hasn't been exciting, but all those babies, one
after another well, it's been rather fun. And the way
Tom goes on with Jack it's like the monkey house."

" It's a good thing you got Jack," said Grace.

" Yes," said Mary, " though in a way I was sorry to
have him because if I 'd lost him think what Tom would
have felt. Fortunately there's Elba now."

" How's Elba? " asked Clara, listless, alluding to the
new baby-boy.

" Splendid," said Mary, enthusiastically. " D'you
know? he weighed ten and a half pounds when he was

" Is that very much? " asked Clara.

Mary gave an audible sniff at her sister's ignorance.
" Of course it is. You surprise me sometimes, Clara."
Lady Govan did not reply and Mary returned to the thread
of her idea. " Yes, it makes a difference having Jack and
Elba. Still, it makes me feel more comfortable. It would
never have done for Tom to have had only one boy and
then lost him; he'd never have got over it."

After a long pause Grace said: " Is that quite true,
Mary? Can't one have had something precious and lost
it and get over it ? "

Mary looked up quickly; for a moment her face looked
sorrowful. " Yes," she said, hurriedly, " I was wrong

HOPE 431

it's better to have something and lose it than not to have
had it." Then, after a pause, as if with an effort: " You
may not think so, G., but you're not so much to be pitied
after all."

" Pitied," said Grace. " Who knows? I thought so
at the time, six months ago. I thought Oh, dreadful

Clara looked up, interested. " What sort of things,

' ' I hardly know. Drugs and well, you see I
thought that if I began to take veronal one day I might
take too much everybody 'd have thought it was an ac-

Mary shivered. " Don't even talk like that; it's worse
than silly, it's wrong."

" Yes, I suppose it is wrong, but then I'd done such a
lot of things that were wrong. I felt I might as well do
another and be done with all complication."

" Two wrongs don't make a right," said Mary, sagely.
' ' There was only one thing for you to do after that,
and that was to go on and make the best of it, the only
way to put things right."

" So you don't think I did wrong? " cried Grace, log-
ically, for the Puritanism that was deep in her soul and
had survived three years of illicit passion made her ask
for approval.

Mary did not raise her eyes from her fancy-work. At
last she said: " You know what I mean; you know quite
well you did wrong. But then people are like that and
the only thing is to go on as if nothing had happened."

" But something has happened," said Grace. " You
know quite well I can't wipe out those three years, even
if I wanted to, unless " She paused, and a hot flush
dyed her cheeks.

" Unless what? " asked Clara, listlessly.

" I sometimes feel I can't go on like this, hiding it.
You know all about it, you two, and if you hadn't known
it might have gone on. But just as I used to feel that
nobody ought to know because it was going on, now I


seem to think that everybody ought to know because it'*

She shivered, for it seemed as if a very soft, caressing
voice, coming from low down in a man's throat, had mur-
mured to her: " Braggart! " But she closed her ears to
the voice and went on : " Sometimes I feel I 'd like to tell

" What! " cried Clara, this time genuinely excited.

" Don't be silly," said Mary.

" Yes," said Grace, courageously; " sometimes I feel I
ought to. What's the good of hiding things? They only
stay inside you and get inflamed."

Mary looked at her steadily. " Sometimes they do,"
she said, " But this isn't getting inflamed in you. It's
just there and, little by little, you'll forget "

" Never! " said Grace.

" No, not all you'll forget some of it all the bad
parts. But you mustn't tell Edward; of course not.
He's much too happy, he's going to take silk soon, isn't
he? "

" Yes," said Grace, "it's about time; he's dreadfully
pleased about it."

" Well," said Mary, " let him be pleased. Because
you've done him a wrong it's no reason that you should
do him another."

"Would I? " said Grace.

" Yes," said Mary, "he's so fond of you, you see, and
he thinks such a lot of you."

" When he thinks of me," said Grace, rather hard.

" Yes," said Mary, " when he thinks of you, as you say.
Perhaps you expect him to think too much of you. Have
you ever thought as much of him as you did of well,
you know who I mean."

Grace shook her head. " No," she said, " and so you
think I mustn't hurt him. I've done something which I
knew to be wrong and only now and then I thought it was
right, and you say I ought to hide it so as not to hurt

" Yes," said Mary, " you mustn't hurt him. It would

HOPE 433

do him no good. After all, it seems to me that all you
can do in life is to suffer what you've got to and to enjoy
what you can."

" Mary," said Clara, from the sofa, " you're quite
immoral. ' '

" Perhaps I am," said Mary. " When one's got seven
children to look after, one hasn't time to think of how
one ought to do it; one just does it, and then somehow
the day is done."

Grace was thinking while she spoke of the phrase which
she unconsciously made more epigrammatic : suffer all you
need and enjoy all you can. She had enjoyed and now
she suffered, or rather had suffered. "Well, that was all
right, and perhaps it had been worth it. She considered
her sisters. For a moment she thought of Mary, white,
serene, and triumphant. Mary had done nothing in those
years. But had she not? At once Grace realised that
Mary, apparently quiescent, had travelled along the road
of life just as fast or as slowly as her sisters; she saw
that nothing one could do hastened or retarded the flight
of time; and here was Mary, not very happy, not very
unhappy, but established and content, having preserved
her dignity, set off her pains against her pleasures. She
was queen of the hive; certainly she had suffered less.
Perhaps she had found the better way. Then Grace aban-
doned Mary, concentrated upon Clara.

" Clara," she said, " I suppose you've enjoyed your-
self in your own way? "

" I suppose I have," said Clara.

" You must have enjoyed all those politics, and influence
and aU that? "

A flicker of animation came into the big violet eyes,
then quickly died. " Yes, you did," said Grace, " I saw
it in your eyes just for a moment."

" Well, I'm not going back to it," said Clara. "It's
not that I can't; I expect I shall be quite well enough
in a few months. I don't want to, somehow. It's all a
bit of the past."

" A bit of the past! " said Grace. " All our life, I sup-


pose, is just made up of bits of past Why, the moment
we perceive a delight, it's just past. We're already sep-
arated from it by that tiny little moment of time which
is necessary for us to feel it. It seems almost as if there
was no present at all, but just the past and we remem-
bering it."

It was a long time before Mary replied and then she

" Tou were both happy, you two, each in your own
way. I don't quite understand you, G., your talk's too
clever for me, but I think I know what you mean: that
you had your good time, both of you."

" I mean something much more than that," said Grace,
dreamily, " it's just striking me that if it's always the
past that delights us, what does it matter if it's a second
old or ten years? It's only a question of remembering
enough and well enough."

" I don't quite know what you mean," said Mary,
stupidly. " I suppose I too remember things, nice ones
most of them one forgets the others, or even the nasty
ones seem nice when you think of them, because they're
over. But there, I won't bother myself with those things;
I suppose I haven't been very happy or very unhappy:
I married, I've had children, and, after all, marriage
being what it is "

There was a very long break during which Grace aban-
doned the general question and thought of Enoch Fenor.
He had completely disappeared from her life, and for a
long time she had missed him in a peculiar way. Accus-
tomed to the quickening influence of his mind, she had
been bored; that had been the main feeling, and she had
been ashamed of herself because she was bored instead of
being heart-broken.

" I suppose," she thought, " that the modern young
lady indulges in intellectual atrophy instead of going into
a decline, as they used to do in the days of Trollope."
But she knew that was not quite true, for there had been
many moments, the moments most empty of mental stim-
ulus, when she had wanted him and needed him, when

HOPE 435

she had stood alone in a field and called for him like
a lioness roaring for her mate.

But that was all over, and now she was as used to not
having him as she had once been used to having him.
He was the past, the glowing, beautiful past. And as
she thought this, some warm current seemed to flood her
veins. She was filled with a splendid realisation that it
had all been so fine, so clean, so bold up to the end, that
together when the thing which the world hated was ex-
posed to the world they had smashed it rather than allow
it to become mean. She had loved and she had piled up
memories which would inflame her life, irradiate the fu-
ture. It was as if she had turned her back upon a light
so brilliant that still it shone upon her and still lighted
her path as she plodded on away from it. So much had
she loved that love must always be present with her, al-
ways be significant, and never abandon her. And now,
whatever happened, when she saw young lovers, she could
always tell herself that she too had been in Arcadia. Per-
haps in an Arcadia so splendid that, in their first fervour,
they could never hope to enter such an one. " Yes," she
thought, " I am marked just as if I had been branded
with a hot iron. I have had love, and so much and so
strong that nothing ever can take it away from me, that
it is always with me, that it is not a memory at all, that
it is something actual which I carry, something that folds
me in like a warm mantle that cannot wear out." Then
she spoke aloud: " It was perhaps the best for me," she
said, " just as what happened was the best for you,
Clara." Clara threw her a surprised look. " I mean what
happened to me and to you, Clara: my man and your
success. ' '

" There's not much left of my success," said Clara.
" Here am I, lying on my back on a sofa and nobody
bothering much about me. Not that I care. I don't want
to take up those things again."

" You don't understand," said Grace. " Didn't you
have splendid moments? Not only the big ones like the
meeting at the Albert Hall, but all sorts of other little


moments: the first time you took the chair, and that day
when the Premier said to you that he wished you had
married a man on his own side."

Clara smiled. " Yes, it was rather fun now and then."

" Don't you ever think of it? "

"Perhaps I do sometimes quite a lot." Her smile
broadened. " Yes," she said, almost sentimentally,
" those three or four years, they were really rather good
but they're over."

Grace's voice came suddenly loud. " Over? Of course
they're not over, Clara. Those three or four years of
yours, your successes, all that it's all with you now,
piled up inside you ready to cheer you up. Oh ! Can 't you
see it ? You tell me you think about it now and then quite
a lot. It's your reserve of happiness, your reserve of glad
memories that you're drawing on just as I do on mine.
Don't you think so, Mary? "

Mary did not raise her face. Then she remarked:
" Well, thank heaven, there's not much more to do in
this stitch."

Grace did not notice, for now she was speaking aloud
to herself. " All that is life," she said, " the real thing.
There's a difference, you know, between riding a bicycle
and remembering the day when you rode a bicycle. You
do all those things after and you like 'em and so you
go on "

' ' You go on doing the same thing over and over again, ' '
said Clara.

Grace shook her head. " No, life isn't a circle. People
are always saying that, but it isn't true. You change,
and every time you see things a little differently. That's
why the things we used to suffer from we won't suffer
from them again We go through them to become
well, bigger and finer. You, Clara, you too, you had to
have a bad time to want things and to have them, and

Online LibraryWalter Lionel GeorgeThe second blooming → online text (page 34 of 35)