In the Wilderness
Part 13 out of 15
which was troubling her.
"I am very glad you have come to Liverpool," he said at length. "Very
He smiled, and she, without exactly knowing why, smiled back at him.
And as she did so she felt extraordinarily simple, almost like a
"How long are you going to stay?"
"Till I know whether I can do any good," she said, "till I have done
it, if that is possible."
"Without mentioning any names, may I, if I think it wise, tell Mrs.
Leith of the change in her husband?"
"Oh, but would it be wise to say exactly what the nature of the change
is? I've always heard that she is a woman with ideals, an
exceptionally pure-natured woman. She might be disgusted, even
revolted, perhaps, if--"
"Forgive me!" Father Robertson interrupted, rather abruptly. "What was
your intention then? What did you mean to tell Mrs. Leith if you saw
"Of his great wretchedness, of his broken life--I suppose I--I should
have trusted to my instinct what to do when I saw her."
"But I can leave it to you," she said, but still with a faint note of
hesitation, of doubt. "You know her."
"Yes, I know her."
He paused. Then, with an almost obstinate firmness, a sort of
pressure, he added, "Have I your permission--I may not do it--to tell
Mrs. Leith that her husband has been unfaithful to her with some one
Lady Ingleton slightly reddened; she looked down and hesitated.
"It may be necessary if your purpose in coming here is to be
achieved," said Father Robertson, still with pressure.
"You may do whatever you think best," she said, with a sigh.
He got up to go.
"Would you mind very much staying on here for two or three days, even
for a week, if necessary?"
"A whole week of Liverpool!" he said.
"How many years have you been here?"
"A good many. I'm almost losing count."
When he was gone Lady Ingleton sat for a long while before the fire.
The sad influence of the blackness of rainy Liverpool had lifted from
her. Her impulse had received a welcome which had warmed her.
"I love that man," she thought. "Carey would love him too."
He had said very little, and how loyal he had been in his silence, how
loyal to the woman she had attacked. In words he had not defended her,
but somehow he had conveyed to Lady Ingleton a sense of his protective
love and immense pity for the woman who had been bereft of her child.
How he had conveyed this she could not have said. But as she sat there
before the fire she was aware that, since Father Robertson's visit,
she felt differently about Dion Leith's wife. Mysteriously she began
to feel the sorrow of the woman as well as, and side by side with, the
sorrow of the man.
"If it had been my child?" she thought. "If my husband had done it?"
[Page missing in original book.]
Since the death of Robin and Rosamund's arrival in Liverpool, Father
Robertson had made acquaintance with her sister and with the mother of
Dion. And both these women had condemned Rosamund for what she had
done, and had begged him to try to bring about a change in her heart.
Both of them, too, had dwelt upon the exceptional quality of Dion's
love for his wife. Mrs. Leith had been unable to conceal the
bitterness of her feeling against Rosamund. The mother in her way, was
outraged. Beatrice Daventry had shown no bitterness. She loved and
understood her sister too well to rage against her for anything that
she did or left undone. But this very love of her sister, so clearly
shown, had made her condemnation of Rosamund's action the more
impressive. And her pity for Dion was supreme. Through Beatrice Father
Robertson had gained an insight into Dion's love, and into another
love, too; but of that he scarcely allowed himself even to think.
There are purities so intense that, like fire, they burn those who
would handle them, however tenderly. About Beatrice Father Robertson
felt that he knew something he dared not know. Indeed, he was hardly
sincere about that matter with himself. Perhaps this was his only
With his friend, Canon Wilton, too, he had spoken of Rosamund, and had
found himself in the presence of a sort of noble anger. Now, in his
little room, as he knelt in meditation, he remembered a saying of the
Canon's, spoken in the paneled library at Welsley: "Leith has a great
heart. When will his wife understand its greatness?"
Father Robertson pressed his thin hands upon his closed eyes. He
longed for guidance and he felt almost distressed. Rosamund had
submitted herself to him, had given herself into his hands, but
tacitly she had kept something back. She had never permitted him to
direct her in regard to her relation with her husband. It was in
regard to her relation with God that she had submitted herself to him.
How grotesque that was!
Father Robertson's face burned.
Before Rosamund had come to him she had closed the book of her married
life with a frantic hand. And Father Robertson had left the book
closed. He saw his delicacy now as cowardice. In his religious
relation with Rosamund he had been too much of a gentleman! When Mrs.
Leith, Beatrice, Canon Wilton had appealed to him, he had said that he
would do what he could some day, but that he felt time must be given
to Rosamund, a long time, to recover from the tremendous shock she had
undergone. He had waited. Something imperative had kept him back from
ever going fully with Rosamund into the question of her separation
from her husband. He had certainly spoken of it, but he had never
discussed it, had never got to the bottom of it, although he had felt
that some day he must be quite frank with her about it.
Some day! No doubt he had been waiting for a propitious moment, that
moment which never comes. Or had his instinct told him that anything
he could say upon that subject to Rosamund would be utterly impotent,
that there was a threshold his influence could not cross? Perhaps
really his instinct had told him to wait, and he was not a moral
coward. For to strive against a woman's deep feeling is surely to beat
against the wind. When men do certain things all women look upon them
with an inevitable disdain, as children being foolish in the dark.
Had he secretly feared to seem foolish in Rosamund's eyes?
He wondered, genuinely wondered.
On the following morning he wrote to Rosamund and asked her to come to
the vicarage at any hour when she was free. He had something important
to say to her. She answered, fixing three-thirty. Exactly at that time
she arrived in Manxby Street and was shown into Father Robertson's
Rosamund had changed, greatly changed, but in a subtle rather than a
fiercely definite way. She had not aged as many women age when
overtaken by sorrow. Her pale yellow hair was still bright. There was
no gray in it and it grew vigorously upon her classical head as if
intensely alive. She still looked physically strong. She was still a
young and beautiful woman. But all the radiance had gone out from her.
She had been full of it; now she was empty of it.
In the walled garden at Welsley, as she paced the narrow walks and
listened to the distant murmur of the organ, and the faint sound of
the Dresden Amen, in her joy she had looked sometimes almost like a
nun. She had looked as if she had the "vocation" for religion. Now, in
her "sister's" dress, she had not that inner look of calm, of the
spirit lying still in Almighty arms, which so often marks out those
who have definitely abandoned the ordinary life of the world for the
dedicated life. Rosamund had taken no perpetual vows; she was free at
any moment to withdraw from the Sisterhood in which she was living
with many devoted women who labored among the poor, and who prayed, as
some people work, with an ardor which physically tired them. But
nevertheless she had definitely retired from all that means life to
the average woman of her type and class, with no intention of ever
going back to it. She had taken a step towards the mystery which many
people think of casually on appointed days, and which many people
ignore, or try to ignore. Yet now she did not look as if she had the
vocation. When she had lived in the world she had seemed, in spite of
all her /joie de vivre/, of all her animation and vitality, somehow
apart from it. Now she seemed, somehow, apart from the world of
religion, from the calm and laborious world in which she had chosen to
dwell. She looked indeed almost strangely pure, but there was in her
face an expression of acute restlessness, perpetually seen among those
who are grasping at passing pleasures, scarcely ever seen among those
who have deliberately resigned them.
This was surely a woman who had sought and who had not found, who was
uneasy in self-sacrifice, who had striven, who was striving still, to
draw near to the gates of heaven, but who had not come upon the path
which led up the mountain-side to them. Sorrow was stamped on the
face, and something else, too--the seal of that corrosive disease of
the soul, dissatisfaction with self.
This was not Rosamund; this was a woman with Rosamund's figure, face,
hair, eyes, voice, gestures, movements--one who would be Rosamund but
for some terrible flaw.
She was alone in the little study for a few minutes before Father
Robertson came. She did not sit down, but moved about, looking now at
this thing, now at that. In her white forehead there were two vertical
lines which were never smoothed out. An irreligious person, looking at
her just then, might have felt moved to say, with a horrible irony,
"And can God do no more than that for the woman who dedicates her life
to His service?"
The truth of the whole matter lay in this: that whereas once God had
seemed to stand between Rosamund and Dion, now Dion seemed to stand
between Rosamund and God.
But even Father Robertson did not know this.
Presently the door opened and the Father came in.
Instantly Rosamund noticed that he looked slightly ill at ease,
almost, indeed, embarrassed. He shook hands with her in his gentle way
and made a few ordinary remarks about little matters in which they
were mutually interested. Then he asked her to sit down, sat down near
her and was silent.
"What is it?" she said, at last.
He looked at her, and there was something almost piercing in his eyes
which she had never noticed in them before.
"Last night," he said, "when I came home I found here a note from a
stranger, asking me to visit her at the Adelphi Hotel where she was
staying. She wrote that she had come to Liverpool on purpose to see
me. I went to the hotel and had an interview with her. This interview
"Concerned me?" said Rosamund.
Her voice did not sound as if she were actively surprised. There was a
lack of tone in it. It sounded, indeed, almost dry.
"Yes. Did you ever hear of Lady Ingleton?"
After an instant of consideration Rosamund said:
"Yes. I believe I met her somewhere once. Isn't she married to an
"To our Ambassador at Constantinople."
"I think I sang once at some house where she was, in the days when I
used to sing."
"She has heard you sing."
"That was it then. But what can she want with me?"
"Your husband is in Constantinople. She knows him there."
Rosamund flushed to the roots of her yellow hair. When he saw that
painful wave of red go over her face Father Robertson looked away. All
the delicacy in him felt the agony of her outraged reserve. Her body
"I must speak about this," he said. "Forgive me if you can. But even
if you cannot, I must speak."
She looked down. Her face was still burning.
"You have let me know a great deal about yourself," he went on. "That
fact doesn't give me any right to be curious. On the contrary! But I
think, perhaps, your confidence has given me a right to try to help
you spiritually even at the cost of giving you great mental pain. For
a long time I have felt that perhaps in my relation to you I have been
morally a coward."
Rosamund looked up.
"You could never be a coward," she said.
"You don't know that. Nobody knows that, perhaps, except myself.
However that may be, I must not play the coward now. Lady Ingleton met
your husband in Turkey. She brings very painful news of him."
Rosamund clasped her hands together and let them lie on her knees. She
was looking steadily at Father Robertson.
"His--his misery has made such an impression upon her that she felt
obliged to come here. She sent for me. But her real object in coming
was to see you, if possible. Will you see her?"
"No, no; I can't do that. I don't know her."
"I think I ought to tell you what she said. She asked me if you had
ever understood how much your husband loves you. Her exact words were,
'Does his wife know how he loves her? Can she know it? Can she ever
have known it?'"
All the red had died away from Rosamund's face. She had become very
pale. Her eyes were steady. She sat without moving, and seemed to be
listening with fixed, even with strained, attention.
"And then she went on to tell me something which might seem to a great
many people to be quite contradictory of what she had just said--and
she said it with the most profound conviction. She told me that your
husband has fallen very low."
"Fallen----?" Rosamund said, in a dim voice.
"Just before she left Constantinople she saw him in Stamboul by
chance. She said that he had the dreadful appearance that men have
when they are entirely dominated by physical things."
"Dion!" she said.
And there was sheer amazement in her voice now.
After an instant she added:
"I don't believe it. It wasn't Dion."
"I must tell you something more," said Father Robertson painfully.
"Lady Ingleton knows that your husband has been unfaithful to you; she
knows the woman with whom he has been unfaithful. That unfaithfulness
continues. So she affirms. And in spite of that, she asks me whether
you can know how much your husband loves you."
While he had been speaking he had been looking down. Now he heard a
movement, a rustling. He looked up quickly. Rosamund was going towards
"Please--don't--don't!" she whispered, turning her face away.
And she went out.
Father Robertson did not follow her.
Early in the following morning he received this note:
"ST. MARY'S SISTERHOOD, LIVERPOOL,
"DEAR FATHER ROBERTSON,--I don't think I can see Lady Ingleton. I
am almost sure I can't. Perhaps she has gone already. If not, how
long does she intend to stay here?
The Father communicated with Lady Ingleton, and that evening let
Rosamund know that Lady Ingleton would be in Liverpool for a few more
When Rosamund read his letter she wished, or believed that she wished,
that Lady Ingleton had gone. Then this matter which tormented her
would be settled, finished with. There would be nothing to be done,
and she could take up her monotonous life again and forget this
strange intrusion from the outside world, forget this voice from the
near East which had told such ugly tidings. Till now she had not even
known where Dion was. She knew he had given up his business in London
and had left England; but that was all. She had refused to have any
news of him. She had made it plainly understood long ago, when the
wound was fresh in her soul, that Dion's name was never to be
mentioned in letters to her. She had tried by every means to blot his
memory out of her mind as she had blotted his presence out of her
life. In this effort she had totally failed. Dion had never left her
since he had killed Robin. In the flesh he had pursued her in the
walled garden at Welsley on that dark night of November when for her
the whole world had changed. In another intangible, mysterious guise
he had attended her ever since. He had been about her path and about
her bed. Even when she knelt at the altar in the Supreme Service he
had been there. She had felt his presence as she touched the water, as
she lifted the cup. Through all these months she had learnt to know
that there are those whom, once we have taken them in, we cannot cast
out of our lives.
Since the death of Robin, in absence Dion had assumed a place in her
life which he had never occupied in the days of their happiness.
Sometimes she had bitterly resented this; sometimes she had tried to
ignore it; sometimes, like a cross, she had taken it up and tried to
bear it with patience or with bravery. She had even prayed against it.
Never were prayers more vain than those which she put up against this
strange and terrible possession of herself by the man she had tried to
cast out of her life. Sometimes even it seemed to her that when she
prayed thus Dion's power to affect her increased. It was as if
mysteriously he drew nearer to her, as if he enveloped her with an
influence from which she could not extricate herself. There were hours
in the night when she felt afraid of him. She knew that wherever he
was, however far off, his mind was concentrated upon her. She grew to
realize, as she had never realized before, what mental power is. She
had separated her body from Dion's, but his mind would not leave her
alone. Often she was conscious of hostility. When she strove to give
herself absolutely and entirely to the life of religion and of charity
she was aware of a force holding her back. This force--so it seemed to
her--would not permit her to enter into the calm and the peace of the
dedicated life. She was like some one looking in at a doorway,
desirous of entering a room. She saw the room clearly; she saw others
enjoying its warmth and its shelter and its serene and guarded
tranquillity; but she was unable to cross the threshold.
That warm and sheltered room was not for her. And it was Dion's force
which held her back from entering it and from dwelling in it.
She could not give herself wholly to God because of Dion.
Of her struggle, of her frustration, of her mental torment in this
connexion she had never spoken to Father Robertson. Even in confession
she had been silent. He knew of her mother-agony; he did not know of
the stranger, more subtle agony beneath it. He did not know that
whereas the one agony with the lapse of time was not passing away--it
would never do that--but was becoming more tender, more full of tears
and of sweet recollections, the other agony grew harsher, more
Rosamund had gradually come to feel that Robin had been taken out of
her arms for some great, though hidden, reason. And because of this
feeling she was learning to endure his loss with a sort of
resignation. She often thought that perhaps she had been allowed to
have this consolation because she had made an immense effort. When
Robin died she had driven Dion, who had killed her child, out of her
life, but she had succeeded in saying to God, "Thy will be done!" She
had said it at first as a mere formula, had repeated it obstinately
again and again, without meaning it at all, but trying to mean it,
meaning to mean it. She had made a prodigious, a truly heroic effort
to conquer her powerfully rebellious nature, and, in this effort, she
had been helped by Father Robertson. He knew of the anger which had
overwhelmed her when her mother had died, of how she had wished to
hurt God. He knew that, with bloody sweat, she had destroyed that
enemy within her. She had wished to submit to the will of God when
Robin had been snatched from her, and at last she had actually
submitted. It was a great triumph of the spirit. But perhaps it had
left her exhausted. At any rate she had never been able to forgive
God's instrument, her husband. And so she had never been able to know
the peace of God which many of these women by whom she was surrounded
knew. In her misery she contemplated their calm. To labor and to pray
--that seemed enough to many of them, to most of them. She had known
calm in the garden at Welsley; in the Sisterhood she knew it not.
The man who was always with her assassinated calm. She felt strangely
from a distance the turmoil of his spirit. She knew of his misery
occultly. She did not deduce it from her former knowledge of what he
was. And his suffering made her suffer in a terrible way. He was her
victim and she was his.
/Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder./
In the Sisterhood Rosamund had learnt, always against her will and
despite the utmost effort of her obstinacy, the uselessness of that
command; she had learnt that those whom God hath really joined
together cannot be put asunder by man--or by woman. Dion had killed
her child, but she had not been able to kill what she was to Dion and
what Dion was to her. Through the mingling of their two beings there
had been born a mystery which was, perhaps, eternal like the sound of
the murmur in the pine trees above the Valley of Olympia.
She could not trample it into nothingness.
At first, after the tragedy of which Robin had been the victim,
Rosamund had felt a horror of Dion which was partly animal. She had
fled from him because she had been physically afraid of him. He had
been changed for her from the man who loved her, and whom she loved in
her different way, into the slayer of her child. She knew, of course,
quite well that Dion was not a murderer, but nevertheless she thought
of him as one thinks of a murderer. The blood of her child was upon
his hands. She trembled at the thought of being near him.
Nevertheless, because she was not mad, in time reason asserted itself
within her. Dion disappeared out of her life. He did not put up the
big fight for the big thing of which Lady Ingleton had once spoken to
her husband. His type of love was far too sensitive to struggle and
fight on its own behalf. When he had heard the key of his house door
turned against him, when, later, Mr. Darlington with infinite
precautions had very delicately explained to him why it had been done,
Rosamund had attained her freedom. He had waited on for a time in
England, but he had somehow never been able really to hope for any
change in his wife. His effort to make her see the tragedy in its true
light had exhausted itself in the garden at Welsley. Her frantic
evasion of him had brought it to an end. He could not renew it. Even
if he had been ready to renew it those about Rosamund would have
dissuaded him from doing so. Every one who was near her saw plainly
that "for the present"--as they put it--Dion must keep out of her
And gradually Rosamund had lost that half-animal fear of him,
gradually she had come to realize something of the tragedy of his
situation. A change had come about in her almost in despite of
herself. And yet she had never been able to forgive him for what he
had done. Her reason knew that she had nothing to forgive; her
religious sense, her conception of God, obliged her to believe that
Dion had been God's instrument when he had killed his child; but
something within her refused him pardon. Perhaps she felt that pardon
could only mean one thing--reconciliation. And now had come Lady
Ingleton's revelation. Instinctively as Rosamund left Father
Robertson's little room she had tried to hide her face. She had
received a blow, and the pain of it frightened her. She was startled
by her own suffering. What did it mean? What did it portend? She had
no right to feel as she did. Long ago she had abandoned the right to
such a feeling.
The information Lady Ingleton had brought outraged Rosamund. Anger and
a sort of corrosive shame struggled for the mastery within her.
She felt humiliated to the dust. She felt dirty, soiled.
Dion had been unfaithful to her.
The white face of Mrs. Clarke came before Rosamund in the murky
street, two wide-open distressed and intent eyes started into hers.
The woman was Mrs. Clarke.
Mrs. Clarke--and Dion. Mrs. Clarke had succeeded in doing what long
ago she had designed to do. She had succeeded in taking possession of
"Because I threw him away! Because I threw him away!"
Rosamund found herself repeating those words again and again.
"I threw him away, I threw him away. Otherwise----"
She reached the Sisterhood and went to her little room. How she got
through the remaining duties of that day she never remembered
afterwards. The calmness of routine flagellated her nerves. She felt
undressed and feared the eyes of the sisters. After the evening
service in the little chapel attached to the Sisterhood she was unable
either to meditate, to praise, or to pray. During the long pause for
silent prayer she felt like one on a galloping horse. In the intense
silence her ears seemed to hear the beating of hoofs on an iron road.
And the furious horse was bearing her away into some region of
darkness and terror.
There was a rustling movement. The sisters slowly rose from their
knees. Again Rosamund was conscious of feeling soiled, dirty, in the
midst of them. As they filed out, she with them, a burning hatred came
to her. She hated the woman who was the cause of her feeling dirty.
She wanted to use her hands, to tear something away from her body--the
dirt, the foulness. For she felt it actually on her body. Her physical
purity was desecrated by--she wouldn't think of it.
When she was alone in her little sleeping-room, the door shut, one
candle burning, her eyes went to the wooden crucifix beneath which
every night before getting into her narrow bed she knelt in prayer,
and she began to cry. She sat down on the bed and cried and cried. All
her flesh seemed melting into tears.
"My poor life! My poor life!"
That was the interior cry of her being, again and again repeated--"My
poor life--stricken, soiled, crushed down in the ooze of a nameless
Childless and now betrayed! How terrible had been her happiness on the
edge of the pit! The days in Greece--Robin--Dion's return from the
war! And she had wished to live rightly; she had loved the noble
things; she had had ideals and she had tried to follow them. Purity
before all she had----
She sickened; her crying became violent. Afraid lest some of the
sisters should hear her, she pressed her hands over her face and sank
down on the bed.
Presently she saw Mrs. Clarke before her, the woman whom she had
thought to keep out of her life--the fringe of her life--and who had
found the way into the sacred places.
She cried for a long while, lying there on the bed, with her face
pressed against her hands, and her hands pressed against the pillow;
but at least she ceased from crying. She had poured out all the tears
of her body.
She sat up. It was long past midnight. The house was silent. Slowly
she began to undress, hating her body all the time. She bathed her
face and hands in cold water, and, when she felt the water, shivered
at the thought of the stain. When she was ready for bed she looked
again at the crucifix. She ought to pray, she must pray. She went to
the crucifix and stood in front of it, but her knees refused to bend.
Her pride of woman had received a terrific blow that day, and just
because of that she felt she could not humble herself.
"I cannot pray--I won't pray," she whispered.
And she turned away, put out the light and got into bed.
That Dion should have done that, should have been able to do that!
And she remembered what it was she had first loved in Dion, the thing
which had made him different from other men; she remembered the days
and the nights in Greece. She saw two lovers in a morning land
descending the path from the hill of Drouva, going down into the green
recesses of quiet Elis. She saw Hermes and the child.
All that night she lay awake. In the morning she sent the note to
She could not see Lady Ingleton and yet she dreaded her departure. She
wanted to know more, much more. A gnawing hunger of curiosity assailed
her. This woman had been with Dion--since. This woman knew of his
infidelity; yet she affirmed his love for his wife. But the one
knowledge surely gave the lie to the other.
Why did she care? Why did she care so much? Rosamund asked herself the
question almost with terror.
She found no answer.
But she could not pray. Whenever she tried to pray Mrs. Clarke came
before her, and a man--could it be Dion?--stamped with the hideous
imprint of physical lust.
* * * * *
Father Robertson was startled by the change in Rosamund's appearance
when she visited him two days after she had sent him the note. She
looked physically ill. Her color had gone. Her eyes were feverish and
sunken, and the skin beneath them was stained with that darkness which
betokens nights without sleep. Her lips and hands twitched with a
nervousness that was painful. But that which distressed him more than
any other thing was the expression in her face--the look of shame and
of self-consciousness which altered her almost horribly. Even in her
most frantic moments of grief for Robin there had always been
something of directness, of fearlessness, in her beauty. Now something
furtive literally disfigured her, and she seemed trying to cover it
with a dogged obstinacy which suggested a will stretched to the
uttermost, vibrating like a string in danger of snapping.
"Has Lady Ingleton gone?" she asked, directly she was inside the room.
"No, not yet. You remember I wrote to you that she would stay on for a
"But she might have gone unexpectedly."
"She is still here."
"I believe I shall have to see her," Rosamund said, with a sort of
hard abruptness and determination.
"Go to see her," said Father Robertson firmly. "Perhaps she was sent
"Sent here?" said Rosamund, with a sharpness of sudden suspicion.
"Oh, my child,"--he put his hand on her arm, and made her sit down,--
"not by a human being."
Rosamund looked down and was silent.
"Before you go, if you are going," Father Robertson continued, sitting
down by the deal table on which he wrote his letters, "I must do what
I ought to have done long ago; I must speak to you about your
Rosamund did not look up, but he saw her frown, and he saw a movement
of her lips; they trembled and then set together in a hard line.
"I know what he was, not from you but from others; from his mother,
from your sister, and from Canon Wilton. I'm going to tell you
something Wilton said to me about you and him after you had separated
Father Robertson stopped, and fidgeted for a moment with the papers
lying in disorder on his table. He hated the task he had set himself
to do. All the tenderness in him revolted against it. He knew what
this woman whom he cared for very much had suffered; he divined what
she was suffering now. And he was going to add to her accumulated
misery by striking a tremendous blow at the most sacred thing, her
pride of woman. Would she be his enemy after he had spoken? It was
possible. Yet he must speak.
"He said to me--'Leith has a great heart. When will his wife
understand its greatness?'"
There was a long silence. Then, without changing her position or
lifting her head, Rosamund said in a hard, level voice:
"Canon Wilton was right about my husband."
"He loved you. That's a great deal. But he loved you in a very
beautiful way. And that's much more."
"Who told you--about the way he loved me?"
"Your sister, Beatrice."
"Beattie! Yes, she knew--she understood."
She bent her head a little lower, then added:
"Beattie is worth more than I am."
"You are worth a great deal, but--but I want to see you rise to the
heights of your nature. I want to see you accomplish the greatest task
"Conquer the last citadel of your egoism. /Ego dormio et cor meum
vigilat/--Send the insistent I to sleep. I said it to you long ago
before I knew you. I say it to you now when I do know you, when I know
the deep waters you have passed through, and the darkness that has
beset you. Fetter your egoism. Release your heart and your spirit in
one great action. Don't let him go down forever because of you. I
believe your misery has been as nothing in comparison with his. If he
has fallen--such a man--why is it?"
"I know why," she almost whispered.
"You can never mount up while you are driving a soul downwards. Do you
remember those words in the Bible: 'Where thou goest I will go'?"
"Perhaps they might be changed in respect of you and the man who loved
you so much and in such a beautiful way. You were linked; can the link
ever be broken? You have tried to break it, but have you succeeded?
And if not, wouldn't it be true, drastically true, if you said--Where
thou goest I /must/ go? If he goes down because of you I think you'll
go down with him."
Rosamund sat absolutely still. When Father Robertson paused again
there was not a sound in the little room.
"And one thing more," he said, not looking towards her. "There's the
child, your child and his. Is it well with the child?"
Rosamund moved and looked up. Then she got up from her chair.
She stopped. Her eyes were fixed on Father Robertson. He looked up and
met her eyes, and she saw plainly the mystic in him.
"What do we know?" he said. "What do we know of the effects of our
actions? Can we be certain that they are limited to this earth? Is it
well with the child? I say we don't know. We dare not affirm that we
know. He loved his father, didn't he?"
Rosamund looked stricken. He let her go. He could not say any more to
That evening Lady Ingleton called in Manxby Street and asked for
Father Robertson. He happened to be in and received her at once.
"I've had a note from Mrs. Leith," she said.
"I am not surprised," said Father Robertson. "Indeed I expected it."
"She wishes to see me to-morrow. She writes that she will come to the
hotel. How have you persuaded her to come?"
"I don't think I have persuaded her though I wish her to see you. But
I have told her of her husband's infidelity."
"You have told her----!"
Lady Ingleton stopped short. She looked unusually discomposed, even
nervous and agitated.
"I said you might," she murmured.
"It was essential."
"If Cynthia knew!" said Lady Ingleton.
"I mentioned no name."
"She must have guessed. It's odd, when I told you I didn't feel
treacherous--not really! But now I feel a brute. I've never done
anything like this before. It's against all my code. I've come here,
done all this, and now I dread meeting Mrs. Leith. I wish you could be
there when she comes."
She sent him a soft glance out of her Italian eyes.
"You make me feel so safe," she added.
"You and she must be alone. Remember this! Mrs. Leith must go out to
"Leave the Sisterhood! Will she ever do that?"
"You came here with the hope of persuading her, didn't you?"
"A hope was it? A forlorn hope, perhaps."
"Bring it to fruition."
"But Cynthia! If she ever knows!"
Suddenly Father Robertson looked stern.
"If what you told me is true----"
"It is true."
"Then she is doing the devil's work. Put away your fears. They aren't
worthy of you."
As she took his hand in the saying of good-by she said:
"Your code is so different from ours. We think the only possible thing
to do--where a friend is concerned--is to shut the eyes and the lips,
and to pretend, and to keep on always pretending. We call that being
"Poor things!" said Father Robertson.
But he pressed her hand as he said it, and there was an almost tender
smile on his lips.
"But your love of truth isn't quite dead yet," he added, on the
threshold of the door, as he let her out into the rain. "You haven't
been able to kill it. It's an indomitable thing, thank God."
"I wish I--why do you live always in Liverpool?" she murmured.
She put up her little silk umbrella and was gone.
There was a fire in her sitting-room on the following-morning. The day
was windy and cold, for March was going out resentfully. Before the
fire lay Turkish Jane on a cushion, blinking placidly at the flames.
Already she had become reconciled to her new life in this unknown
city. Her ecstasy of the journey had not returned, but the surprise
which had succeeded to it was now merged in a stagnant calm, and she
felt no objection to passing the remainder of her life in the Adelphi
Hotel. She supposed that she was comfortably settled for the day when
she heard her mistress call for Annette and give the most
"Please take Jane away, Annette," said Lady Ingleton.
"I don't want her here this morning. I'm expecting a visitor, and Jane
might bark. I don't wish to have a noise in the room."
Annette, who looked decidedly sulky, approached the cushion, bent
down, and rather abruptly snatched the amazed doyenne of the Pekinese
from her voluptuous reveries.
"We shall probably leave here to-morrow," Lady Ingleton added.
Annette's expression changed.
"We're going back to London, Miladi?"
"I think so. I'll tell you this afternoon."
She glanced at her watch.
"I don't wish to be disturbed for an hour. Don't leave Jane in my
bedroom. Take her away to yours."
"Very well, Miladi."
Annette went out looking inquisitive, with Turkish Jane on her arm.
When she was gone Lady Ingleton took up "The Liverpool Mercury" and
tried to read the news of the day. The March wind roared outside and
made the windows rattle. She listened to it and forgot the chronicle
of the passing hour. She was a women who cared to know the big things
that were happening in the big world. She had always lived among men
who were helping to make history, and she was intelligent enough to
understand their efforts and to join in their discussions. Her husband
had often consulted her when he was in a tight place, and sometimes he
had told her she had the brain of a man. But she had the nerves and
the heart of a woman, and at this moment public affairs and the news
of the day did not interest her at all. She was concentrated on
woman's business. Into her hands she had taken a tangled love skein.
And she was almost frightened at what she had ventured to do. Could
she hope to be of any use, of any help, in getting it into order? Was
there any chance for the man she had last seen in Stamboul near Santa
Sophia? She almost dreaded Rosamund Leith's arrival. She felt nervous,
strung up. The roar of the wind added to her uneasiness. It suggested
turmoil, driven things, the angry passions of nature. Beyond the
Mersey the sea was raging. She had a stupid feeling that nature and
man were always in a ferment, that it was utterly useless to wish for
peace, or to try to bring about peace, that destinies could only be
worked out to their appointed ends in darkness and in fury. She even
forgot her own years of happiness for a little while and saw herself
as a woman always anxious, doubtful, and envisaging untoward things.
When a knock came on the door she started and got up quickly from her
chair. Her heart was beating fast. How ridiculous!
"Come in!" she said.
A waiter opened the door and showed in Rosamund
Lady Ingleton looked swiftly at the woman coming in at the doorway
clad in the severe, voluminous, black gown and cloak, and black and
white headgear, which marked out the members of the Sisterhood of St.
Mary's. Her first thought was "What a cold face!" It was succeeded
immediately by the thought, "But beautiful even in its coldness." She
met Rosamund near the door, took her hand, and said:
"I am glad you were able to come. I wanted very much to meet you. I
came here really with the faint hope of seeing you. Let me take your
umbrella. What a day it is! Did you walk?"
"I came most of the way by tram. Thank you," said Rosamund, in a
contralto voice which sounded inflexible.
Lady Ingleton went to "stand" the umbrella in a corner. In doing this
she turned away from her visitor for a moment. She felt more
embarrassed, more "at a loss" than she had ever felt before; she even
felt guilty, though she had done no wrong and was anxious only to do
right. Her sense of guilt, she believed, was caused by the fact that
in her heart she condemned her visitor, and by the additional, more
unpleasant fact that she knew Rosamund was aware of her condemnation.
"It's hateful--so much knowledge between two women who are strangers
to each other!" she thought, as she turned round.
"Do sit down by the fire," she said to Rosamund, who was standing near
the writing-table immediately under a large engraving of "Wedded."
She wished ardently that Rosamund wore the ordinary clothes of a well-
dressed woman of the world. The religious panoply of the "sister's"
attire, with its suggestion of a community apart, got on her nerves,
and seemed to make things more difficult.
Rosamund went to a chair and sat down. She still looked very cold, but
she succeeded in looking serene, and her eyes, unworldly and pure, did
not fall before Lady Ingleton's.
Lady Ingleton sat down near her and immediately realized that she had
placed herself exactly opposite to "Wedded." She turned her eyes away
from the large nude arms of the bending man and met Rosamund's gaze
fixed steadily upon her. That gaze told her not to delay, but to go
straight to the tragic business which had brought her to Liverpool.
"You know of course that my husband is Ambassador at Constantinople,"
"Yes," said Rosamund.
"You and I met--at least we were in the same room once--at Tippie
Chetwinde's," said Lady Ingleton, almost pleading with her visitor. "I
heard you sing."
"Yes, I remember. I told Father Robertson so."
"I dare say you think it very strange my coming here in this way."
In spite of the strong effort of her will Lady Ingleton was feeling
with every moment more painfully embarrassed. All her code was
absolutely against mixing in the private concerns of others uninvited.
She had a sort of delicate hatred of curiosity. She longed to prove to
the woman by the fire that she was wholly incurious now, wholly free
from the taint of sordid vulgarity that clings to the social busybody.
"I've done it solely because I'm very sorry for some one," she
continued; "because I'm very sorry for your husband."
She looked away from Rosamund, and again her eyes rested on the
engraving of "Wedded." The large bare arms of the man, his bending,
amorous head, almost hypnotized her. She disliked the picture of which
this was a reproduction. Far too many people had liked it; their
affection seemed to her to have been destructive, to have destroyed
any value it had formerly had. Yet now, as she looked almost in
despite of herself, suddenly she saw through the engraving, through
the symbol, to something beyond; to the prompting conception in the
painter's mind which had led to the picture, to the great mystery of
the pathetic attempt of human beings who love, or who think they love,
to unite themselves to each other, to mingle body with body and soul
with soul. She saw a woman in the dress of a "sister," the woman who
was with her; she saw a man in an Eastern city; and abruptly courage
came to her on the wings of a genuine emotion.
"I don't know how to tell you what I feel about him, Mrs. Leith," she
said. "But I want to try to. Will you let me?"
"Yes. Please tell me," said Rosamund, in a level, expressionless
"Remember this; I never saw him till I saw him in Turkey, nor did my
husband. We were not able to draw any comparison between the unhappy
man and the happy man. We were unprejudiced."
"I quite understand that; thank you."
"It was in the summer. We were living at Therapia on the Bosporus. He
came to stay in a hotel not far off. My husband met him in a valley
which the Turks call Kesstane Dereh. He--your husband--was sitting
there alone by a stream. They talked. My husband asked him to call at
our summer villa. He came the next day. Of course I--I knew something
of his story"--she hurried on--"and I was prepared to meet a man who
was unhappy. (Forgive me for saying all this.)"
"But, please, I have come to hear," said Rosamund, coldly and
"Your husband--I was alone with him during his first visit--made an
extraordinary impression upon me. I scarcely know how to describe it."
She paused for a moment. "There was something intensely bitter in his
personality. Bitterness is an active principle. And yet somehow he
conveyed to me an impression of emptiness too. I remember he said to
me, 'I don't quite know what I am going to do. I'm a free agent. I
have no ties.' I shall never forget his look when he said those words.
I never knew anything about loneliness--anything really--till that
moment. And after that moment I knew everything. I asked him to come
on the yacht to Brusa, or rather to Mudania; from there one goes to
Brusa. He came. You may think, perhaps, that he was eager for society,
for pleasure, distraction. It wasn't that. He was making a tremendous,
a terrible effort to lay hold on life again, to interest himself in
things. He was pushed to it."
"Pushed to it!" said Rosamund, still in the hard level voice. "Who
"I can only tell you it was as I say," said Lady Ingleton, quickly and
with embarrassment. "We were very few on the yacht. Of course I saw a
good deal of your husband. He was absolutely reserved with me. He
always has been. You mustn't think he has ever given me the least bit
of confidence. He never has. I am quite sure he never would. We are
only acquaintances. But I want to be a friend to him now. He hasn't a
friend, not one, out there. My husband, I think, feels rather as I do
about him, in so far as a man can feel in our sort of way. He would
gladly be more intimate with your husband. But your husband doesn't
make friends. He's beyond anything of that kind. He tried, on the
yacht and at Brusa. He did his utmost. But he was held back by his
misery. I must tell you (it's very uninteresting)"--her voice softened
here, and her face slightly changed, became gentler, more intensely
feminine--"that my husband and I are very happy together. We always
have been; we always shall be; we can't help it. Being with us your
husband had to--to contemplate our happiness. It--I suppose it
She stopped; she could not bring herself to say it. Again her eyes
rested upon "Wedded," and, in spite of her long conviction of its
essential banality--she classed it with "The Soul's Awakening,"
"Harmony," and all the things she was farthest away from--she felt
what it stood for painfully, almost mysteriously.
"One day," she resumed, speaking more slowly, and trying to banish
emotion from her voice, "I went out from the hotel where we stayed at
Brusa, quite alone. There's a mosque at Brusa called Jeshil Jami, the
Green Mosque. It stands above the valley. It is one of the most
beautiful things I know, and quite the most beautiful Osmanli
building. I like to go there alone. Very often there is no one in the
mosque. Well, I went there that day. When I went in--the guardian was
on the terrace; he knows me and that I'm the British Ambassadress, and
never bothers me--I thought at first the mosque was quite empty. I sat
down close to the door. After I had been there two or three minutes I
felt there was some one else in the mosque. I looked round. Before the
Mihrab there was a man. It was your husband. He was kneeling on the
matting, but--but he wasn't praying. When I knew, when I heard what he
was doing, I went away at once. I couldn't--I felt that----"
Again she paused. In the pause she heard the gale tearing at the
windows. She looked at the woman in the sister's dress. Rosamund was
sitting motionless, and was now looking down. Lady Ingleton positively
hated the sister's dress at that moment. She thought of it as a sort
of armor in which her visitor was encased, an armor which rendered her
invulnerable. What shaft could penetrate that smooth black and white,
that flowing panoply, and reach the heart Lady Ingleton desired to
pierce? Suddenly Lady Ingleton felt cruel. She longed to tear away
from Rosamund all the religion which seemed to be protecting her; she
longed to see her naked as Dion Leith was naked.
"I didn't care to look upon a man in hell," she said, in a voice which
had become almost brutal, a voice which Sir Carey would scarcely have
recognized if he had heard it.
Rosamund said nothing, and, after a moment, Lady Ingleton continued:
"With us on the yacht was one of my husband's secretaries of Embassy,
Cyril Vane, who had just become engaged to be married. He is married
now. In his cabin on the yacht he had a photograph of the girl. One
night he was walking up and down on deck with your husband, and your
husband--I'd just told him about Vane's engagement--congratulated him.
Vane invited Mr. Leith into the cabin and showed him the photograph.
Vane told me afterwards that he should never forget the look on your
husband's face as he took the photograph and gazed at it. When he put
it down he said to Vane, 'I hope you may be happy. She looks very
kind, and very good, too; but there's no cruelty on earth like the
cruelty of a good woman.'" (Did the sister's dress rustle faintly?)
"Vane--he's only a boy--was very angry for a moment, though he's
usually imperturbable. I don't know exactly what he said, but I
believe he made a rather strong protest about knowing his fiancee's
character /au fond/. Anyhow, your husband took hold of his arm and
said to him, 'Don't love very much and you may be happy. That's the
only chance for a man--not to love the woman very much.' Vane came to
me and told me. I remember it was late at night and my husband was
there. When Vane was leaving us Carey said to him, 'Forget the advice
that poor fellow gave you. Love her as much as you can, my boy. Dion
Leith speaks out of the bitterness that is destroying him. But very
few men can love as he can, and very few men have been punished by
their love as he has been punished by his. His sorrow is altogether
exceptional, and has made him lose the power of moral vision. His soul
has been poisoned at the source.' My husband was right."
"You came here to tell me that?" said Rosamund, lifting her head and
speaking coldly and very clearly.
"I didn't know what I was going to tell you. At the time I am speaking
of I had no thought of ever trying to see you. That thought came to me
"I'm a happy woman. In my happiness I've learnt to respect love very
much, and I've learnt to recognize it at a glance. Your husband is the
victim of a great love, Mrs. Leith. I feel as if I couldn't stand by
and see him utterly destroyed by it."
"Father Robertson tells me----" said Rosamund.
And then she was silent. All this time she was struggling almost
furiously against pride and an intense reserve which seemed trying to
suffocate every good impulse within her. She held on to the thought of
Father Robertson (she was unable to hold on to the thought of God);
she strove not to hate the woman who was treading in her sanctuary,
and whose steps echoed harshly and discordantly to its farthest, its
holiest recesses; but she felt herself to be hardening against her
will, to be congealing, turning to ice. Nevertheless she was resolute
not to leave the room in which she was without learning all that this
woman had to tell her.
"Yes?" said Lady Ingleton.
And the thought went through her mind:
"Oh, how she is hating me!"
"Father Robertson told me there was someone else."
"Yes, there is. Otherwise I might never have come here. I'm partly to
blame. But I--but I can't possibly go into details. You mustn't ask me
for any details, please. Try to accept the little I can say as truth,
though I'm not able to give you any proof. You must know that women
who are intelligent, and have lived long in the--well, in the sort of
world I've lived in, are never mistaken about certain things. They
don't need what are called proofs. They know certain things are
happening, or not happening, without holding any proofs for or
against. Your husband has got into the wrong hands."
"What do you mean by that?" said Rosamund steadily, even obstinately.
"In his misery and absolute loneliness he has allowed himself to be
taken possession of by a woman. She is doing him a great deal of harm.
In fact she is ruining him."
She stopped. Perhaps she suspected that Rosamund, in defiance of her
own denial of proofs, would begin asking for them; but Rosamund said
"He is going down," Lady Ingleton resumed. "He has already
deteriorated terribly. I saw him recently by chance in Stamboul (he
never comes to us now), and I was shocked at his appearance. When I
first met him, in spite of his bitterness and intense misery I knew at
once that I was with a man of fine nature. There was something
unmistakable, the rare imprint; that's fading from him now. You know
Father Robertson very well. I don't. But the very first time I was
with him I knew he was a man who was seeking the heights. Your husband
now is /seeking/ the depths, as if he wanted to hide himself and his
misery in them. Perhaps he hasn't found the lowest yet. I believe
there is only one human being who can prevent him from finding it. I'm
quite sure there is only one human being. That's why I came here."
She was silent. Then she added:
"I've told you now what I wished to tell you, all I can tell you."
In thinking beforehand of what this interview would probably be like
Lady Ingleton had expected it to be more intense, charged with greater
surface emotion than was the case. Now she felt a strange coldness in
the room. The dry rattling of the window under the assault of the gale
was an interpolated sound that was in place.
"Your husband has never mentioned your name to me," she said,
influenced by an afterthought. "And yet I've come here, because I know
that the only hope of salvation for him is here."
Again her eyes went to "Wedded," and then to the sister's dress and
close-fitting headgear which disguised Rosamund. And suddenly the
impulsiveness which was her inheritance from her Celtic and Latin
ancestors took complete possession of her. She got up swiftly and went
"You hate me for having come here, for having told you all this. You
will always hate me, I think. I've intruded upon your peaceful life in
religion--your peaceful, comfortable, sheltered life."
Her great dark eyes fixed themselves upon the cross which lay on
Rosamund's breast. She lifted her hand and pointed to it.
"You've nailed /him/ on a cross," she said, with almost fierce
intensity. "How can you be happy in that dress, worshiping God with a
lot of holy women?"
"Did I tell you I was happy?" said Rosamund.
She got up and stood facing Lady Ingleton. Her face still preserved
something of the coldness, but the color had deepened in the cheeks,
and the expression in the eyes had changed. They looked now much less
like the eyes of a "sister" than they had looked when she came into
"Take off that dress and go to Constantinople!" said Lady Ingleton.
Rosamund flushed deeply, painfully; her mouth trembled, and tears came
into her eyes, but she spoke resolutely.
"Thank you for telling me," she said. "You were right to come here and
to tell me. If I hate you, as you say, that's my fault, not yours."
She paused. It was evident that she was making a tremendous effort to
conquer something; she even shut her eyes for a brief instant. Then
she added in a very low voice;
And she put out her hand.
Tears started into Lady Ingleton's eyes as she took the hand. Rosamund
turned and went quickly out of the room.
Some minutes after she had gone Lady Ingleton heard rain beating upon
the window. The sound reminded her of the umbrella she had "stood" in
the corner of the room when Rosamund came in. It was still there.
Impulsively she went to the corner and took it up; then, realizing
that Rosamund must already be on her way, she laid it down on the
table. She stood for a moment looking from "Wedded" to the damp
Then she sat down on the sofa and cried impetuously.
It was the month of May. Already there had been several unusually hot
days in Constantinople, and Mrs. Clarke was beginning to think about
the villa at Buyukderer. She was getting tired of Pera. She had
fulfilled her promise to Dion Leith. She had given up going to England
for Jimmy's Christmas holidays and had spent the whole winter in
Constantinople. But now she had had enough of it for the present,
indeed more than enough of it.
She was feeling weary of the everlasting diplomatic society, of the
/potins/ political and social, of the love affairs and intrigues of
her acquaintances which she knew of or divined, of the familiar voices
and faces. She wanted something new; she wanted to break away. The
restlessness that was always in her, concealed beneath her pale aspect
of calm, was persecuting her as the spring with its ferment drew near
to the torrid summer.
The spring had got into her veins and had made her long for novelty.
One morning when Sonia came into Mrs. Clarke's bedroom with the coffee
she brought a piece of news.
"Miladi Ingleton arrived at the Embassy from England yesterday," said
Sonia, in her thick, soft voice.
The apparent recovery of Lady Ingleton's mother had been a deception.
She had had a relapse almost immediately after Lady Ingleton's return
from Liverpool to London; an operation had been necessary, and Lady
Ingleton had been obliged to stay on in England several weeks. During
this time Mrs. Clarke had had no news from her. Till Sonia's
announcement she had not known the date fixed for her friend's return.
She received the information with her usual inflexibility, and merely
"I'll go to see her this afternoon."
Then she took up a newspaper which Sonia had brought in with her and
began to sip the coffee.
As soon as she was dressed she sent a note to the British Embassy to
ask if her friend would be in at tea-time.
Lady Ingleton drew her brows together when she read it. She was
delighted to be again in Constantinople, for she had missed Carey
quite terribly, but she wished that Cynthia Clarke was anywhere else.
Ever since her visit to Liverpool she had been dreading the inevitable
meeting with the friend whose secret she had betrayed. Yet the meeting
must take place. She would be obliged some day to look once more into
Cynthia Clarke's earnest and distressed eyes. When that happened would
she hate herself very much for what she had done? She had often
wondered. She wondered now, as she read the note written in her
friend's large upright hand, as she wrote a brief answer to say she
would be in after five o'clock that day.
She was troubled by the fact that her visit to Liverpool had not
yielded the result she had hoped for. Rosamund Leith had not sought
her husband. But she had taken off the sister's dress and had given up
living in the north.
Lady Ingleton knew this from Father Robertson, with whom she
corresponded. She had never seen Rosamund or heard from her since the
interview in the Adelphi Hotel. And she was troubled, although she had
recently received from Father Robertson a letter ending with these
"Pressure would be useless. I have found by experience that one
cannot hurry the human soul. It must move at its own pace. You
have done your part. Try to leave the rest with confidence in
other hands. Through you she knows the truth of her husband's
condition. She has given up the Sisterhood. Surely that means that
she has taken the first step on the road that leads to
But now May was here with its heat, and its sunshine, and its dust,
and Lady Ingleton must soon meet the eyes of Cynthia Clarke, and the
man she had striven to redeem was unredeemed.
She sighed as she got up from her writing-table. Perhaps perversely
she felt that she would mind meeting Cynthia Clarke less if her
treachery had been rewarded by the accomplishment of her purpose. A
useless treachery seemed to her peculiarly unpardonable. She hated
having done a wrong without securing a /quid pro quo/. Even if Father
Robertson was right, and Rosamund Leith's departure from the
Sisterhood were the first step on the road to Constantinople, she
might arrive too late.
Although she was once more with Carey, Lady Ingleton felt unusually
Soon after five the door of her boudoir was opened by a footman, and
Mrs. Clarke walked slowly in, looking Lady Ingleton thought, even
thinner, even more haggard and grave than usual. She was perfectly
dressed in a gown that was a marvel of subtle simplicity, and wore a
hat that drew just enough attention to the lovely shape of her small
"Certainly she has the most delicious head I ever saw," was Lady
Ingleton's first (preposterous) thought. "And the strongest will I
ever encountered," was the following thought, as she looked into her
friend's large eyes.
After they had talked London and Paris for a few minutes Lady Ingleton
changed the subject, and with a sort of languid zest, which was
intended to conceal a purpose she desired to keep secret, began to
speak of Pera and of the happenings there while she had been away.
Various acquaintances were discussed, and presently Lady Ingleton
arrived, strolling, at Dion Leith.
"Mr. Leith is still here, isn't he?" she asked. "Carey hasn't seen him
lately but thinks he is about."
"Oh yes, he is still here," said Mrs. Clarke's husky voice.
"What does he do? How does he pass his time?"
"I often wonder," replied Mrs. Clarke, squeezing a lemon into her cup,
which was full of clear China tea.
She put the lemon, thoroughly squeezed, down on its plate, looking
steadily at her friend, and continued:
"You remember last summer when I asked you to be kind to him, and told
you why I was interested in him, poor fellow?"
"I really thought at that time it would be possible to assist him to
get back into life, what we understand by life. You helped me like a
"Oh, I really did nothing."
"You enabled me to continue my acquaintance with him here," said Mrs.
Lady Ingleton was silent, and Mrs. Clarke continued:
"You know what I did, my efforts to interest him in all sorts of
things. I even got Jimmy out because I knew Mr. Leith was fond of him,
threw them together, even tried to turn Mr. Leith into a sort of
holiday tutor. Anything to take him out of himself. Later on, when
Jimmy went back to England, I though I would try hard to wake up Dion
"Did you?" said Lady Ingleton, in her most languid voice.
"I took him about in Stamboul. I showed him all the interesting things
that travelers as a rule know nothing about. I tried to make him feel
Stamboul. I even spent the winter here chiefly because of him, though,
of course, nobody must know that but you."
"Entendu, ma chere!"
"But I've made a complete failure of it all."
"You meant that Mr. Leith can't take up life again?"
"He simply doesn't care for the things of the mind. He has very few
mental resources. I imagined that there was very much more in him to
work upon than there is. If his heart receives a hard blow, an
intellectual man can always turn for consolation to the innumerable
things of art, philosophy, literature, that are food for the mind. But
Mr. Leith unfortunately isn't an intellectual man. And another
She had been speaking very quietly; now she paused.
"Yes?" said Lady Ingleton.
"Jimmy came out for the Easter holidays. It was absurd, because
they're so short, but I had to see him, and I couldn't very well go to
England. Well, Jimmy's taken a violent dislike to Mr. Leith."
"I thought Jimmy was very fond of him."
"He was devoted to him, but now he can't bear him. In fact, Jimmy
won't have anything to do with Dion Leith. I suppose--boys of that age
are often very sharp--I suppose he sees the deterioration in Mr. Leith
and it disgusts him."
"Deterioration!" said Lady Ingleton, leaning forward, and speaking
more impulsively than before.
"Yes. It is heart-rending."
"And it makes things difficult for me."
"I'm sorry for that."
There was a moment of silence; then, as Mrs. Clarke did not speak, but
sat still wrapped in a haggard immobility, Lady Ingleton said:
"When do you go to Buyukderer?"
"I shall probably go next week. I've very tired of Pera."
"You look tired."
"I didn't mean physically. I'm never physically tired."
"Extraordinary woman!" said Lady Ingleton, with a faint, unhumorous
smile. "Come and see some Sevres I picked up at Christie's. Carey is
delighted with it, although, of course, horrified at the price I paid
She got up and went with Mrs. Clarke into one of the drawing-rooms.
Dion Leith was not mentioned again.
That evening the Ingletons dined alone. Sir Carey said he must insist
on a short honeymoon even though they were obliged to spend it in an
Embassy. They had dinner in Bohemian fashion on a small round table in
Lady Ingleton's boudoir, and were waited upon by Sir Carey's valet, a
middle-aged Italian who had been for many years in his service and who
had succeeded, in the way of Italian servants, in becoming one of the
family. The Pekinese lay around solaced by the arrival of their
mistress and of their doyenne.
When dinner was over and Sir Carey had lit his cigar, he breathed a
sigh of contentment.
"At last I'm happy once more after all those months of solitude!"
He looked across at his wife, and added:
"But are you happy at being with me again?"
"Yes," he said, "I know, of course."
"Then why do you ask?"
"Well, I'm a trained observer, like every competent diplomatist, and--
there's something. I see in the lute of your happiness a tiny rift.
It's scarcely visible, but--I see it."
"I'm not quite happy to-night."
"And you won't tell me why, on our honeymoon?"
"I want to tell you but I can't. I have no right to tell you."
"You only can judge of that."
"I've done something that even you might think abominable, something
treacherous. I had a great reason--but still!" She sighed. "I shall
never be able to tell you what it is, because to do that would
increase my sin. To-night I'm realizing that I'm not at all sorry for
what I have done. And that not being sorry--as well as something else
--makes me unhappy in a new way. It's all very complicated."
"Like Balkan politics! Shall we"--he looked round the room
meditatively--"shall we set the dogs at it?"
"Even they couldn't drive my /tristesse/ quite away. You have more
power with me than many dogs. Read me something. Read me 'Rabbi ben
Sir Carey went to fetch the exorcizer.
The truth was that Lady Ingleton's interview with Cynthia Clarke had
made her realize two things: that since she had come to know Father
Robertson, and had betrayed to him the secret of her friend's life,
any genuine feeling of liking she had had for Cynthia Clarke had died;
and that Cynthia Clarke was tired of Dion Leith.
That day Mrs. Clarke's hypocrisy had, perhaps, for the first time,
absolutely disgusted, and even almost horrified, Lady Ingleton. For
years Lady Ingleton had known of it, but for years she had almost
admired it. The cleverness, the subtlety, the competence of it had
entertained her mind. She had respected, too, the courage which never
failed Mrs. Clarke. But she was beginning to see her with new eyes.
Perhaps Father Robertson had given his impulsive visitor a new moral
During the conversation that afternoon at certain moments Lady
Ingleton had almost hated Cynthia Clarke--when Cynthia had spoken of
trying to wake up Dion Leith's mind, of his not being an intellectual
man, of Jimmy Clarke's shrinking from him because of his
deterioration. And when Cynthia had said that deterioration was
"heart-rending" Lady Ingleton had quite definitely detested her. This
feeling of detestation had persisted while, in the drawing-room,
Cynthia was lovingly appreciating the new acquisition of Sevres. Lady
Ingleton sickened now when she thought of the lovely hands sensitively
touching, feeling, the thin china. There really was something
appalling in the delicate mentality, in the subtle taste, of a woman
in whom raged such devastating physical passions.
Lady Ingleton shuddered as she remembered her conversation with her
"friend." But it had brought about something. It had driven away any
lingering regret of hers for having spoken frankly to Father
Robertson. Cynthia was certainly tired of Dion Leith. Was she about to
sacrifice him as she had sacrificed others? Lady Ingleton dreaded the
future. For during the interview at the Adelphi Hotel she had realized
Rosamund's innate and fastidious purity. To forgive even one
infidelity would be a tremendous moral triumph in such a woman as
Rosamund. But if Cynthia Clarke threw Dion Leith away, and he fell
into promiscuous degradation, then surely Rosamund's nature would rise
up in inevitable revolt. Even if she came to Constantinople then it
would surely be too late.
Lady Ingleton had seen clearly enough into the mind of Cynthia Clarke,
but there was hidden from her the greater part of a human drama not
Combined with the ugly passion which governed her life, Mrs. Clarke
had an almost wild love of personal freedom. As much as she loved to
fetter she hated to be fettered. This hatred had led her into many
difficulties during the course of her varied life, difficulties which
had always occurred at moments when she wanted to get rid of people.
Ever since she had grown up there had been recurring epochs when she
had been tormented by the violent desire to rid herself of some one
whom she had formerly longed for, whom she had striven to bind to her.
Until now she had always eventually succeeded in breaking away from
those who were beginning to involve her in weariness or to disgust
her. There had sometimes been perilous moments, painful scenes, bitter
recriminations. But by the exercise of her indomitable power of will,
helped by her exceptional lack of scruple, she had always managed to
accomplish her purpose. She had always found hitherto that she was
more pitiless, and therefore more efficient, than anyone opposed to
her in a severe struggle of wills. But Dion Leith was beginning to
cause her serious uneasiness. She had known from the beginning of
their acquaintance that he was an exceptional man; since his tragedy
she had realized that the exceptional circumstances of his life had
accentuated his individuality. In sorrow, in deterioration, he had
broken loose from restraint. She had helped to make him what he had
now become, the most difficult man she had ever had to deal with. When
he had crossed the river to her he had burnt all the boats behind him.
If he had sometimes been weak in goodness, in those former days long
past, in what he considered as evil--Mrs. Clarke did not see things in
white and black--he had developed a peculiar persistence and
determination which were very like strength.
Looking back, Mrs. Clarke realized that the definite change in Dion,
which marked the beginning of a new development, dated from the night
in the garden at Buyukderer when Jimmy had so nearly learnt the truth.
On that night she had forced Dion to save her reputation with her
child by lying and playing the hypocrite to a boy who looked up to him
and trusted in him. Dion had not forgotten his obedience. Perhaps he
hated her because of it in some secret place of his soul. She was sure
that he intended to make her pay for it. He had obeyed her in what she
considered as a very trifling matter. (For of course Jimmy had to be
deceived.) But since then he had often shown a bitter, even sometimes
a brutal, disposition to make her obey him. She could not fully
understand the measure of his resentment because she had none of his
sense of honor and did not share his instinctive love of truth. But
she knew he had suffered acutely in tricking and lying to Jimmy.
On that night, then, he had burnt his boats. She herself had told him
to do it when she had said to him, "Give yourself wholly to me." She
was beginning to regret that she had ever said that.
At first, in her perversity, she had curiously enjoyed Dion's misery.
It had wrapped him in a garment that was novel. It had thrown about
him a certain romance. But now she was becoming weary of it. She had
had enough of it and enough of him. That horrible process, which she
knew so well, had repeated itself once more: she had wanted a thing;
she had striven for it; she had obtained it; she had enjoyed it (for
she knew well how to enjoy and never thought that the game was not
worth the candle). And then, by slow, almost imperceptible degrees,
her power of enjoyment had begun to lessen. Day by day it had lost in
strength. She had tried to stimulate it, to deceive herself about its
decay, but the time had come, as it had come to her many times in the
past, when she had been forced to acknowledge to herself that it was
no longer living but a corpse. Dion Leith had played his part in her
life. She wished now to put him outside of her door. She had made
sacrifices for him; for him she had run risks. All that was very well
so long as he had had the power to reward her. But now she was
beginning to brood over those risks, those sacrifices, with
resentment, to magnify them in her mind; she was beginning to be angry
as she dwelt upon that which distortedly she thought of as her
After Jimmy had left Turkey to go back to Eton, and the summer had
died, Mrs. Clarke had fulfilled her promise to Dion. She had settled
at Pera for the winter, and she had arranged his life for him. From
the moment of Jimmy's departure Dion had given himself entirely to
her. He had even given himself with a sort of desperation. She had
been aware of his fierce concentration, and she had tasted it with a
keenness of pleasure, she had savored it deliberately and fully in the
way of an epicure. The force of his resolution towards evil--it was
just that--had acted upon her abominably sensitive temperament as a
strong tonic. That period had been the time when, to her, the game was
worth the candle, was worth a whole blaze of candles.
Already, then, Dion had begun to show the new difficult man whom she,
working hand in hand with sorrow, had helped to create within him; but
she had at first enjoyed his crudities of temper, his occasional
outbursts of brutality, his almost fierce roughness and the hardness
which alternated with his moments of passion.
She had understood that he was flinging away with furious hands all
the baggage of virtue he had clung to in the past, that he was
readjusting his life, was reversing all the habits which had been
familiar and natural to him in the existence with Rosamund. So much
the better, she had thought. The fact that he was doing this proved to
her her power over him. She had smiled, in her unsmiling way, upon his
efforts to do what she had told him to do, to cut away the cancer that
was in him and to cut away all that was round it. Away with the old
moralities, the old hatred of lies and deceptions, the old love of
sanity and purity of life.
But away, too, with the old reverence for, and worship of, the woman
Dion had taken to heart a maxim once uttered to him by Mrs. Clarke in
the garden at Buyukderer. Mention had been made of the very foolish
and undignified conduct of a certain woman in Pera society who had
been badly treated by a young diplomat. In discussing the matter Dion
had chanced to say:
"But if she does such things how can any man respect her?"
Mrs. Clarke's reply, spoken with withering sarcasm, had been:
"Women don't want to be /respected/ by men."
Dion had not forgotten that saying. It had sunk deep into his heart.
He had come to believe it. Even when he thought of Rosamund still he
believed it. He had respected her, and had shown his respect in the
most chivalrous way at his command, and she had never really loved
him. Evidently women were not what he had thought they were. Mrs.
Clarke knew what they were and a thousand things that he did not know.
He grasped at her cynicism, and he often applied it, translated
through his personality, to herself. He even went farther in cynicism
than she had ever gone, behaving like a convert to a religion which
had the charm of novelty. He praised her for her capacities as a liar,
a hypocrite, a subtle trickster, a thrower of dust in the eyes of her
world. One of his favorite names for her was "dust-thrower." Sometimes
he abused her. She believed that at moments he detested her. But he
clung to her and he did not mean to give her up. And she knew that.
After that horrible night when Jimmy had waked up she had succeeded in
making Dion believe that he was deeply loved by her. She had really
had an ugly passion for him, and she had contrived easily enough to
dress it up and present it as love. And he clung to that semblance of
love, because it was all that he had, because it was a weapon in his
hand, and because he had made for it a sacrifice. He had sacrificed
the truth that was in him, and he had received in part payment the
mysterious dislike of the boy who had formerly looked up to him.
Jimmy had never been friendly with Dion since the night of their
search for his mother in the garden.
His manner towards his mother had changed but little. He was slightly
more reserved with her than he had been. Her faint air of sarcasm
when, in Sonia's room, he had shown her his boyish agitation, had made
a considerable impression upon him. He was unable to forget it. And he
was a little more formal with his mother; showed her, perhaps, more
respect than before. But the change was trifling. His respect for
Dion, however, was obviously dead. Indeed he had begun to show a
scarcely veiled hostility towards Dion in the summer holidays, and in
the recent Easter holidays, spent by him in Pera, he had avoided Dion
as much as possible.
"That fellow still here!" he had said, with boyish gruffness, when his
mother had first mentioned Dion's name immediately after his arrival.
And when he had seen Dion he had said straight out to his mother that
he couldn't "stand Leith at any price now." She had asked him why,
fixing her eyes upon him, but the only reply she had succeeded in
getting had been that he didn't trust the fellow, that he hadn't
trusted Leith for a long time.
"Since when?" she had said.
"Can't remember," had been the non-committal answer.
It seemed as if Jimmy had seen through Dion's insincerity in the
garden at Buyukderer. Yet there was nothing to show that he had not
accepted his mother's insincerity in Sonia's room at its face value.
Even Mrs. Clarke had not been able to understand exactly what was in
her boy's mind. But Jimmy's hostility to Dion had troubled her
obscurely, and had added to her growing weariness of this intrigue
something more vital. Her intelligence divined, rather than actually
perceived, the coming into her life of a definite menace to her
happiness, if happiness it could be called. She felt as if Jimmy were
on the track of her secret, and she was certain that Dion was the
cause of the boy's unpleasant new alertness. In the past she had taken
risks for Dion. But she had had the great reason of what she chose to
call passion. That reason was gone now. She was resolved not to take
the greatest of all risks for a man whom she wanted to get rid of.
She was resolved; but she encountered now in Dion a resolve which she
had not suspected he was capable of, and which began to render her
Lady Ingleton's remark, "you look tired," had struck unpleasantly on
Mrs. Clarke's ears, and she came away from the Embassy that day with
them in her mind. She was on foot. As she came out through the great
gateway of the Embassy she remembered that she had been coming from it
on that day in June when she had seen Dion Leith for the first time in
Pera. A sharp thrill had gone through her that day. He had come. He
had obeyed the persistent call of her will. What she had desired for
so long would be. And she had been fiercely glad for two reasons; one
an ordinary reason, the other less ordinary. A mysterious reason of
the mind. If her will had played her false for once, had proved
inadequate, she would have suffered strangely. When she knew it had
not she had triumphed. But now, as she walked onward slowly, she
wished she had never seen Dion Leith in Pera, she wished that her will
had played her false. It would have been better so, for she was in a
difficult situation, and she foresaw that it was going to become more
difficult. She was assailed by that recurring desire which is the
scourge of the sensualist, the desire to rid herself violently,
abruptly and forever of the possession she had schemed and made long
efforts to obtain. Her torch was burnt out. She wished to stamp out
the flame of another torch which still glowed with a baleful fire.
"And Delia has noticed something!" she thought.
The thought was scarcely out of her mind when she came face to face
with Dion Leith. He stopped before her.
"Have you been to the Embassy?" he said.
"Yes. Delia Ingleton came back yesterday. You aren't going to call
"Of course not. I happened to see you walking in that direction, so I
thought I would wait for you."
With the manner of a man exercising a right he turned to walk back
with her. A flame of irritation scorched her, but she did not show any
emotion. She only said quietly:
"You know I am not particularly fond of being seen with men in the
"Very well. If you like, I'll come to your flat by a round-about way.
I'll be there five minutes after you are."
Before she had time to say anything he was gone, striding through the
Mrs. Clarke walked on and came into the Grande Rue.
She lived in a flat in a street which turned out of the Grande Rue on
the left not very far from the Taxim Garden. As she walked on slowly
she was trying to make up her mind to force a break with Dion. She had
great courage and was naturally ruthless, yet for once she was beset
by indecision. She did not any longer feel sure that she could
dominate this man. She had bent him to her will when she took him; but
could she do so when she wished to get rid of him?
When she reached the house, on the second floor of which was her flat,
she found him there waiting for her.
"You must have walked very quickly, Dion," she said.
"No, I didn't," he replied bruskly. "You walked very slowly."
"I feel tired to-day."
"I thought you were never tired."
"Every woman is tired sometimes."
They began to ascend the staircase. There was no lift.
"Are you going out to-night?" she heard him say behind her.
"No. I shall go to bed early."
"I'll stay till then."
"You know you can't stay very late here."
She heard him laugh.
"When you've just said you are going to bed early!"
She said nothing more till they reached the flat. He followed her in
and put his hat down.
"Will you have tea?"
"No, thanks; nothing."
"Go into the drawing-room. I'll come in a moment."
She left him and went into her bedroom.
He waited for her in the drawing-room. At first he sat down. The room
was full of the scent of flowers, and he remembered the strong flowery
scent which had greeted him when he visited the villa at Buyukderer
for the first time. How long ago that seemed--aeons ago! A few minutes
passed, registered by the ticking of a little clock of exquisite
bronze work on the mantelpiece. She did not come. He felt restless. He
always felt restless in Constantinople. Now he got up and walked about
the room, turning sharply from time to time, pausing when he turned,
then resuming his walk. Once, as he turned, he found himself exactly
opposite to a mirror. He stared into it and saw a man still young, but
lined, with sunken eyes, a mouth drooping and bitter, a head on which
the dark hair was no longer thick and springy. His hair had retreated
from the temples, and this fact had changed his appearance, had
lessened his good looks, and at the same time had given to his face an
odd suggestion of added intellectuality which was at war with the
plain stamp of dissipation imprinted upon it. Even in repose his face
was almost horribly expressive.
As he stared into the glass he thought:
"If I cut off my mustache I should look like a tragic actor who was a
thorough bad lot."
He turned away, frowning, and resumed his walk. Presently he stood
still and looked about the room. He was getting impatient.
Irritability crept through him. He almost hated Mrs. Clarke for
keeping him waiting so long.
"Why the devil doesn't she come?" he thought.
He stood trying to control his nervous anger, clenching his muscular
hands, and looking from one piece of furniture to another, from one
ornament to another ornament, with quickly shifting eyes.
His attention was attracted by something unusual in the room which he
had not noticed till now. On a writing-table of ebony near one of the
windows he saw a large photograph in a curious frame of ruddy arbutus
wood. He had never before seen a photograph in any room lived in by
Mrs. Clarke, and he had heard her say that photographs killed a room,
and might easily kill, too, with their staring impotence, any
affection one felt for the friends they represented. Whose photograph
could this be which triumphed over such a dislike? He walked to the
table, bent down and saw a standing boy in flannels, bare-headed, with
thick, disordered hair and bare arms, holding in his large hands a
cricket bat. It was Jimmy, and his eyes looked straight into Dion's.
A door clicked. There was a faint rustling. Mrs. Clarke walked into
Dion turned round.
"What's this photograph doing here?" he asked roughly.
"Yes. You hate photographs. I've heard you say so."
"Jimmy gave it to me on my birthday just before he left for England.
It's quite a good one."
"You are going to keep it here?"
"Yes. I am going to keep it here. Come and sit down."
He did not move.
"Jimmy loathes me," he said.
"He does. Through you he has come to loathe me, and you keep his
"I don't allow any one to criticize what I do in my own drawing-room,"
she interrupted. "You are really childish to-day."
His intense irritability had communicated itself to her. She felt an
almost reckless desire to get rid of him. His look of embittered
wretchedness tormented her nerves. She wondered how it had ever been
able to interest her, even to lure her. She was amazed at her own
"I cannot allow you to come here if you are going to try to interfere
with my arrangements," she added, with a sort of fierce coldness.
"I have a right to come here."
"You have not. You have no rights over me, none at all. I have made a
great many sacrifices for you, far too many, but I shall never
sacrifice my complete independence for you or for any one."
"Sacrifices for me!" he exclaimed.
He snatched up the photograph, held it with both his hands, exerted
his strength, smashed the glass, broke the frame, tore the photograph
in half, and threw it, the fragments of red wood and the bits of glass
on the table.
"You've made your boy hate me, and you shan't have him there," he said
"How dare you!" she exclaimed, in a low, hoarse voice.
She flung out her hands. In snatching at the ruined photograph she
picked up with it a fragment of glass. It cut her hand slightly, and a
thin thread of blood ran down over her white skin.
"Oh, your hand!" exclaimed Dion, in a changed voice. "It's bleeding!"
He pulled out his handkerchief.
"Leave it alone! I forbid you to touch it!"
She put the fragments of the photograph inside her dress, gently,
tenderly even. Then she turned and faced him.
"To-morrow I shall telegraph to England for another photograph to be
sent out, and it will stand here," she said, pointing with her
bleeding hand at the writing-table. "It will always stand on my table
here and in the Villa Hafiz."
Then she bound her own handkerchief about her hand and rang the bell.
"I've stupidly cut my hand, Sonia. Come and tie it up. Mr. Leith is
going in a moment, and then you shall bathe it."
Sonia looked at Dion, and, without a word, adjusted the handkerchief
deftly, and pinned it in place with a safety-pin which she drew out of
her dress. Then she left the room with her flat-footed walk. As she
shut the door Dion said doggedly:
"You'd better let her bathe it now, because I'm not going in a
"When I ask you to go you will go."
"Sit down. I must speak to you."
He pointed to a large sofa. She went very deliberately to a chair and
"Why don't you sit on the sofa?"
"I prefer this."
He sat on the sofa.
"I must speak to you about Jimmy."
"What's the matter with him? What have you been up to with him?"
"Then why should he turn against me and not against you?"
"I don't understand what you mean."
"You do. It's since that night in the garden when you made me lie to
him. Ever since that night he's been absolutely different with me. You
"I can't help it."
"He believed your lies to him, apparently. Why doesn't he believe
"Of course he believed what you told him."
"He didn't, or he wouldn't have changed. He hates your having anything
to do with me. He's told you so. I'm sure of it."
"Jimmy would never dare to do that."
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