Phyllis of Philistia
Frank Frankfort Moore
Part 4 out of 5
Why, simply, that while she was putting on that supreme toilet which
she had prepared for the delight of the eyes of her lover (feeling
herself to be a modern Cleopatra), that lover of hers was sitting on
the cushions of a first-class carriage, flying along to Southampton;
and while she had been lying among the cushions of her drawing room,
waiting tremulously, nervously, ecstatically, for the dreary minutes
to crawl on until the clock should chime the hour of nine, he was
probably lighting his first pipe aboard the yacht /Water Nymph/. What
did it matter that she had lifted her hot face from her cushions and
had fled in wild haste to the arms of Phyllis Ayrton? The fact
remained the same; it was he who had run away from her.
That was a terrible reflection. Hitherto she had never felt
humiliated. She had not felt that he had insulted her by his kisses;
she had given him kiss for kiss. She had but to hold up her finger and
he was ready to obey her. But now--what was she to think of him? Had
ever man so humiliated woman? She had offered him, not her heart but
her soul--had he not told her a few days before that he meant her to
give him her soul? and when she had laid heart and soul at his feet--
that was how she put it to herself--he had not considered it worth his
while to take the priceless gift that she offered to him.
"He will answer to me for that," she said, as she thought over her
humiliation, in front of her dressing-glass that morning, while her
maid was absent from the room.
Her wish was now not that her prayer had been less earnest, but that
it had not been uttered at all. It was necessary for her to meet him
again in order that he might explain to her how it came that he had
preferred the attractions incidental to a cruise with Lord Earlscourt
and his friends to all that she had written to offer him.
And yet when her husband, after having quite finished with his paper,
"It's very awkward that Herbert Courtland is not in town,"
She merely raised her shoulders an inch, saying:
"I suppose that he has a right to take a holiday now and then. If you
didn't telegraph to him from Paris, you cannot complain."
"I felt certain that I should find him here," said the husband.
"Here?" said the wife, raising her eyebrows and casting an offended
glance at her husband. "Here?"
He smiled in the face of her offended glance.
"Here--in London, I mean, of course. Heavens, Ella! did you fancy for
a moment that I meant---- Ah, by the way, you have seen him recently?"
"Oh, yes; quite recently--on Tuesday, I think it was, we met at the
Ayrton's dinner party--yes, it was Tuesday. There was some fuss, or
attempted fuss, about his adventures in New Guinea, and a question was
being asked about the matter in the House of Commons. Mr. Ayrton got
rid of some of his superfluous cleverness in putting a counter
question--you know the way."
"Oh, perfectly well! And that is how you met on Tuesday--if it was
"Yes; he went to thank Mr. Ayrton, and Mr. Ayrton asked him to dinner.
It was a small party, and not very brilliant. Herbert came here with
me afterward--for five minutes."
"Ah! To get the taste of the party off his mouth, I suppose? He didn't
say anything to you then about being tired of his London season?"
"Not a word. He seemed tired of the dinner party. He yawned."
"And I'm sure that you yawned in sympathy. When a man so far forgets
himself as to yawn in the presence of a woman, she never fails to
respond with one of more ample circumference. When a woman so far
remembers herself as to yawn in the presence of a man, he tries to say
"Yes, when the woman is not his wife. If she is his wife, he asks her
if she doesn't think it's about time she was in bed."
"I dare say you're right; you have observed men--and women, for that
matter--much more closely than I have had time to do. It's very
awkward that he isn't here. I must bring him back at once."
She felt a little movement at her heart; but she only said:
"I wouldn't do that, if I were you. Why shouldn't he be allowed to
enjoy his holiday in peace?"
"It's a matter of business; the mine, I told you."
"What's wrong with the mine that could be set right by his coming back
at once? Are you not making enough out of it?"
"We're making quite as much as is good for us out of it. But if we can
get a hundred and fifty thousand pounds for a few yards of our claim
further east, without damaging the prospects of the mine itself, I
don't think we should refuse it--at any rate, I don't think that we
should refuse to consider the offer."
"What is a hundred and fifty thousand pounds?" said she.
"I wonder why you dressed yourself as you did last night?" said he.
The suddenness of the words did not cause her to quail as the guilty
wife quails--yes, under a properly managed lime-light. She did not
even color. But then, of course, she was not a guilty wife.
She lay back on her chair and laughed.
He watched her--not eagerly, but pleasantly, admiringly.
"My dear Stephen, if you could understand why I dressed myself that
way you would be able to give me a valuable hint as to where the
connection lies between your mine and my toilet--I need such a hint,
now, I can assure you."
She was sitting up now looking at him with lovely laughing eyes.
(After all, she was no guilty wife.)
"What, you can't see the connection?" he said slowly. "You can sew
over your dress about fifty thousand pounds' worth of diamonds, and
yet you don't see the connection between the wearing of that dress and
the development of a gold mine by your husband?"
"I think I see it now--something of a connection. But I don't want any
more diamonds; I don't care if you take all that are sewed about the
dress and throw them into the river. That's how I feel this morning."
"I heard some time ago of a woman who had something of your mood upon
her one day. She had some excellent diamonds, and in one of her moods,
she flung them into the river. She was a wife and she had a lover who
disappointed her. The story reads very smoothly in verse."
"I have no lover," she said--was it mournfully? "I have a husband, it
is true; but he is not exactly of the type of King Arthur--nor Sir
Galahad, for that matter. I hope you found Paris as enjoyable as
"Quite. I never saw at Paris a more enrapturing toilet than yours of
last night. You are, I know, the handsomest woman of my acquaintance,
and you looked handsomer than I had ever before seen you in that
costume. I wonder why you put it on."
"Didn't someone--was it Phyllis?--suggest that it was an act of
inspiration; that I had a secret, mysterious prompting to put it on to
achieve the object which--well, which I did achieve."
"Object? What object?"
"To make my husband fall in love with me again."
"Ah! In love there is no again. I wonder where a telegram would find
"Don't worry yourself about him. Let him enjoy his holiday."
"Do you fancy he is enjoying himself with Earlscourt and his boon
companions? They'll be playing poker from morning till night--
certainly from night till morning."
"Why should he go on the cruise if he was not certain to enjoy
"Ah, that question is too much for me. Think over it yourself and let
me know if you come to a solution, my dear."
He rose and left the room before she could make any answer--before she
could make an attempt to find out in what direction his thoughts
regarding the departure of Herbert Courtland were moving.
She wondered if he had any suspicion in regard to Herbert and herself.
He was not a man given to suspicion, or at any rate, given to allowing
whatever suspicion he may have felt, to be apparent. He had allowed
her to drive and to ride with Herbert Courtland during the four months
they had been together, first at Egypt, then at Florence, Vienna,
Munich, and Paris, and he could not have but seen that Herbert and she
had a good many sympathies in common. Not a word had been breathed,
however, of a suspicion that they were more than good friends to each
(As a matter of fact, they had not been more than good friends to each
other; but then some husbands are given to unworthy suspicions.)
Could it be possible, she asked herself, that some people with nasty
minds had suggested to him in Paris that she and Herbert were together
a great deal in London, and that he had been led to make this sudden
visit, this surprise visit to London, with a view of satisfying
himself as to the truth of the nasty reports--the disgraceful
calumnies which had reached his ears?
If he had done so, all that could be said was that he had been
singularly unfortunate in regard to his visit. "Unfortunate" was the
word which was in her mind, though, of course /"fortunate"/ was the
word which should have occurred to her. It was certainly a fortunate
result of his visit--that tableau in the drawing room of Mr. Ayrton:
Ella and her dearest friend standing side by side, hand in hand, as he
entered. A surprise visit, it may have been, but assuredly the
surprise was a pleasant one for the husband, if he had listened to the
voice of calumny.
And then, after pondering upon this with a smiling face, her smile
suddenly vanished. She was overwhelmed with the thought of what might
have been the result of that surprise visit--yes, if she had not had
the strength to run away to the side of Phyllis; yes, if Herbert had
not had the weakness to join that party of poker-players aboard the
She began to wonder what her husband would have done if he had entered
the house by the aid of his latch-key, and had found her sitting in
that lovely costume by the side of Herbert Courtland? Would he have
thought her a guilty woman? Would he have thought Herbert a false
friend? Would he have killed her, or would he have killed Herbert?
Herbert would, she thought, take a good deal of killing from a man of
the caliber of her husband; but what could she have done?
Well, what she did, as the force of that thought crushed her back upon
her chair, was to bring her hands together in a passionate clasp, and
to cry in a passionate gasp:
"Thank God--thank God--thank God!"
She dined alone with her husband that night, and thought it well to
appear in another evening toilet--one that was quite as lovely, though
scarcely so striking, as that which her husband had so admired the
previous night. He clearly appreciated her efforts to maintain her
loveliness in his eyes, and their little dinner was a very pleasant
He told her that he had learned that the yacht /Water Nymph/ would put
in to Leith before crossing the North Sea, and that he had written to
Herbert Courtland at that port to return without delay.
"You did wrong," said she; and she felt that she was speaking the
"I don't think so," he replied. "At any rate, you may rest perfectly
certain that Herbert will receive my letter with gratitude."
And Mr. Linton's judgment on this point was not in error. Herbert
Courtland received, on the evening of the third day after leaving
Southampton, the letter which called him back to London, and he
contrived to conceal whatever emotion he may have felt at the prospect
of parting from his shipmates. They accompanied him ashore, however--
they had worn out six packs of cards already, and were about to buy
another dozen or two, to see them safely through the imposing scenery
of the Hardanger Fjord.
The next day he was in London, and it was on the evening of that same
day that he came face to face with the Rev. George Holland outside
Miss Ayrton's drawing room.
LIES! LIES! LIES!
"You should have come a little sooner," said Phyllis quite pleasantly.
"Mr. Courtland was giving me such an amusing account of his latest
voyage. Will you have tea or iced coffee?"
"Tea, if you please," said George Holland, also quite pleasantly. "Has
Mr. Courtland been on another voyage of discovery? What has he left
himself to discover in the world of waters?"
"I think that what he discovered on his latest voyage was the effect
of a banjo on the human mind," laughed Phyllis. "He was aboard Lord
Earlscourt's yacht, the /Water Nymph/. Some other men were there also.
One of them had an idea that he could play upon the banjo. He was
wrong, Mr. Courtland thinks."
"A good many people are subject to curious notions of the same type.
They usually take an optimistic view of the susceptibilities of
enjoyment of their neighbors--not that there is any connection between
enjoyment and a banjo."
"Mr. Courtland said just now that when Dr. Johnson gave it as his
opinion that music was, of all noises, the least disagreeable, the
banjo had not been invented."
"That assumes that there is some connection between music and the
banjo, and that's going just a little too far, don't you think?"
"I should like to hear Dr. Johnson's criticism of Paderewski."
"His criticism of Signor Piozzi is extant: a fine piece of eighteenth
"I sometimes long for an hour or two of the eighteenth century. You
remember Fanny Burney's reference to the gentleman who thought it
preposterous that Reynolds should have increased his price for a
portrait to thirty guineas, though he admitted that Reynolds was a
good enough sort of man for a painter. I think I should like to have
an hour with that man."
"I long for more than that. I should like to have seen David Garrick's
reproduction, for the benefit of his schoolfellows, of Dr. Johnson's
love passages with his very mature wife. I should also like to have
heard the complete story of old Grouse in the gun room."
"Told by Squire Hardcastle, of course?"
"Of course. I question if there was anything very much better aboard
the /Water Nymph/. By the way, Lady Earlscourt invited me to join the
yachting party. She did not mention it to her husband, however. She
thought that there should be a chaplain aboard. Now, considering that
Lord Earlscourt had told me the previous day that he was compelled to
take to the sea solely on account of the way people were worrying him
about me, I think that I did the right thing when I told her that I
should be compelled to stay at home until the appearance of a certain
paper of mine in the /Zeit Geist Review/."
"I'm sure that you did the right thing when you stayed at home."
"And in writing the paper in the /Zeit Geist/? You have read it?"
"Oh, yes! I have read it."
"You don't like it?"
"How could I like it? You have known me now for sometime. How could
you fancy that I should like it--that is, if you thought of me at all
in connection with it? I don't myself see why you should think of me
He rose and stood before her. She had risen to take his empty cup from
"Don't you know that I think of you always, Phyllis?" he said, in that
low tone of his which flowed around the hearts of his hearers, and
made their hearts as one with his heart. "Don't you know that I think
of you always--that all my hopes are centered in you?"
"I am so sorry if that is the case, Mr. Holland," said she. "I don't
want to give you pain, but I must tell you again what I told you long
ago: you have passed completely out of my life. If you had not done so
before, the publication of that article in the /Zeit Geist/ would
force me to tell you that you had done so now. To me my religion has
always been a living thing; my Bible has been my guide. You trampled
upon the one some months ago, you have trampled on the other now. You
shocked me, Mr. Holland."
"I have always loved you, Phyllis. I think I love you better than I
ever did, if that were possible," said he. "I am overwhelmed with
grief at the thought of the barrier which your fancy has built up
"Your fancy, dear child. I feel that the barrier which you fancy is
now between us is unworthy of you."
"What? Do you mean to say that you think that my detestation--my--my
horror of your sneers at the Bible, which I believe to be the Word of
God--of the contempt you have heaped upon the Church which I believe
to be God's agent on earth for the salvation of men's souls--do you
think that my detestation of these is a mere girlish fancy?"
"I don't think that, Phyllis. What I think is, that if you had ever
loved me you would be ready to stand by my side now--to be guided by
me in a matter which I have made the study of my life."
"In such matters as these--the value or the worthlessness of the
Bible; the value or the worthlessness of the Church--I require no
guide, Mr. Holland. I do not need to go to a priest to ask if it is
wrong to steal, to covet another's goods, to honor my father---- Oh, I
cannot discuss what is so very obvious. The Bible I regard as
precious; you think that you are in a position to edit it as if it
were an ordinary book. The Church I regard as the Temple of God upon
the earth; you think that it exists only to be sneered at? and yet you
talk of fanciful barriers between us!"
"I consider it the greatest privilege of a man on earth to be a
minister of the Church of Christ."
"Why, then, do you take every opportunity of pointing to it as the
greatest enemy to Christianity?"
"The Church of to-day represents some results of the great
Reformation. That Reformation was due to the intelligence of those men
who perceived that it had become the enemy to freedom; the enemy to
the development of thought; the enemy to the aspirations of a great
nation. The nation rejoiced in the freedom of thought of which the
great charter was the Reformation. But during the hundreds of years
that have elapsed since that Reformation, some enormous changes have
been brought about in the daily life of the people of this great
nation. The people are being educated, and the Church must sooner or
later face the fact that as education spreads church-going decreases.
Why is that, I ask you?"
"Because men are growing more wicked every day."
"But they are not. Crime is steadily decreasing as education is
spreading, and yet people will not go to church. They will go to
lectures, to bands of music, to political demonstrations, but they
will not go to church. The reason they will not go is because they
know that they will hear within the church the arguments of men whose
minds are stunted by a narrow theological course against every
discovery of science or result of investigation. You know how the best
minds in the Church ridiculed the discoveries of geology, of biology,
ending, of course, by reluctantly accepting the teachings of the men
whom they reviled."
"You said all that in your paper, Mr. Holland, and yet I tell you that
I abhor your paper--that I shuddered when I read what you wrote about
the Bible. The words that are in the Bible have given to millions of
poor souls a consolation that science could never bring to them."
"And those consoling words are what I would read to the people every
day of the week, not the words which may have a certain historical
signification, but which breathe a very different spirit from the
spirit of Christianity. Phyllis, it is to be the aim of my life to
help on the great work of making the Church once more the Church of
the people--of making it in reality the exponent of Christianity and
Judaism. That is my aim, and I want you to be my helper in this work."
"And I tell you that I shall oppose you by all the means in my power,
paltry though my power may be."
Her eyes were flashing and she made a little automatic motion with her
hands, as if sweeping something away from before her. He had become
pale and there was a light in his eyes. He felt angry at this girl who
had shown herself ready to argue with him,--in her girlish fashion, of
course,--and who, after listening to his incontrovertible arguments,
fell back resolutely upon a platitude, and considered that she had got
the better of him.
She had got the better of him, too; that was the worst of it; his
object in going to her, in arguing with her, was to induce her to
promise to marry him, and he had failed.
It was on this account he was angry. He might have had a certain
consciousness of succeeding as a theologian, but he had undoubtedly
failed as a lover. He was angry. He was as little accustomed as other
clergymen to be withstood by a girl.
"I am disappointed in you," said he. "I fancied that when I--when
I----" It was in his mind to say that he had selected her out of a
large number of candidates to be his helpmeet, but he pulled himself
up in time, and the pause that he made seemed purely emotional. "When
I loved you and got your promise to love me in return, you would share
with me all the glory, the persecution, the work incidental to this
crusade on behalf of the truth, but now---- Ah! you can never have
"Perhaps you are right, indeed," said she meekly. She was ready to
cede him this point if he set any store by it.
"Take care," said he, with some measure of sternness. "Take care, if
you fancy you love another man, that he may be worthy of you."
"I do not love another man, Mr. Holland," said she gently; scarcely
"Do you not?" said he, with equal gentleness. "Then I will hope."
"You will do very wrong."
"You cannot say that without loving someone else. I would not like to
hear of your loving such a man as Herbert Courtland."
She started at that piece of impertinence, and then, without the
slightest further warning, she felt her body blaze from head to foot.
She was speechless with indignation.
"Perhaps I should have said a word of warning to you before." He had
now assumed the calm dignity of a clergyman who knows what is due to
himself. "I am not one to place credence in vulgar gossip; I thought
that your father, perhaps, might have given you a hint. Mrs. Linton is
undoubtedly a very silly woman. God forbid that I should ever hear
rumor play with your name as I have heard it deal with hers."
His assumption of the clergyman's solemn dignity did not make his
remark less impertinent, considering that Ella Linton was her dearest
friend. And yet people were in the habit of giving George Holland
praise for his tact. Such persons had never seen him angry, wounded,
and anxious to wound.
There was a pause after he had spoken his tactless words. It was
broken by a thrice-repeated cry from Phyllis.
"Lies! Lies! Lies!" she cried, facing him, the light of scorn in her
eyes. "I tell you that you have listened to lies; you, a clergyman,
have listened to lying gossip, and have repeated that lying gossip to
me. You have listened like a wicked man, and you should be ashamed of
your behavior, of your words, your wicked words. If Ella Linton were
wicked, you would be responsible for it in the sight of God. You, a
clergyman, whose duty it is to help the weak ones, to give counsel to
those who stand on the brink of danger; you speak your own
condemnation if you speak Ella Linton's. You have spent your time not
in that practical work of the Church--that work which is done silently
by those of her priests who are desirous of doing their duty; you have
spent your time, not in this work, but in theorizing, in inventing
vain sophistries to put in a book, and so cause people to talk about
you; whether they talk well or ill of you, you care not so long as
they talk; you have been doing this to gratify your own vanity,
instead of doing your duty as a clergyman on behalf of the souls which
have been intrusted to your keeping. Go away--go away! I am ashamed of
you; I am ashamed of myself that I was ever foolish enough to allow my
name to be associated with yours even for a single day. I shall never,
never again enter the church where you preach. Go away! Go away!"
He stood before her with his hands by his sides as a man suddenly
paralyzed might stand. He had never recovered from the shock produced
by her crying of the word "lies! lies! lies!" He was dazed. He was
barely conscious of the injustice which she was doing him, for he felt
that he was not actuated by vanity, but sincerity in all that he had
hitherto preached and written regarding the Church. Still he had not
the power to interrupt her in her accusation; he had not the power to
tell her that she was falsely accusing him.
When her impassioned denunciation of him had come to an end, and she
stood with flaming face, one outstretched hand pointing to the door,
he recovered himself--partially; and curiously enough, his first
thought was that he had never seen a more beautiful girl in a more
graceful attitude. She had insulted him grossly; she had behaved as
none of the daughters of Philistia would behave in regard to him--him,
a clergyman of the Church of England; but he forgot her insults, her
injustice, and his only thought was that she was surely the most
beautiful woman in the world.
"I am amazed!" he found words to say at last. "I am amazed! I felt
certain that you at least would do me justice. I thought--"
"I will not listen to you," she cried. "Every word you utter increases
my self-contempt at having heard you say so much as you have said. Go
away, please. No, I will go--I will go."
And she did go.
He found himself standing in the middle of an empty room.
Never before had he been so treated by man or woman; and the worst of
the matter was that he had an uneasy feeling that he had deserved the
scorn which she had heaped upon him. He knew perfectly well that he
had no right to speak to her as he had spoken regarding her friend,
Ella Linton. Rumor--what right had he to suggest to her, as he had
certainly done, that the evil rumors regarding her friend were
believed by him at least?
Yes, he felt that she had treated him as he deserved; and when he
tried to get up a case for himself, so to speak, by dwelling upon the
injustice which she had done him in saying that he had been actuated
by vanity, whereas he knew that he had been sincere, he completely
But his greatest humiliation was due to a consciousness of his own
want of tact. Any man may forget himself so far as to lose his temper
upon occasions; but no man need hope to get on in the world who so far
forgets himself as to allow other people to perceive that he has lost
What was he to do?
What was left for him to do but to leave the house with as little
delay as possible?
He went down the stairs, and a footman opened the hall door for him.
He felt a good deal better in the open air. Even the large drawing
room which he had left was beginning to feel stuffy. (He was a
singularly sensitive man.)
On reaching the rectory he found two letters waiting for him. One from
the bishop requesting an early interview with him. The other was
almost identical but it was signed "Stephen Linton."
DID HE SAY SOMETHING MORE ABOUT RUTH?
Herbert Courtland had found his way to her drawing room on the
afternoon of his return to London; and it was upon this circumstance
rather than upon her own unusual behavior in the presence of George
Holland that Phyllis was dwelling so soon as she had recovered from
her tearful outburst on her bed. (She had, of course, run into her
bedroom and thrown herself upon the bed the moment that she had left
the presence of the man whom she had once promised to marry.) She had
wept in the sheer excitement of the scene in which she had played the
part of leading lady; it had been a very exciting scene, and it had
overwhelmed her; she had not accustomed herself to the use of such
vehement language as she had found necessary to employ in order to
adequately deal with Mr. Holland and that was how it came about that
she was overwhelmed.
But so soon as she had partially recovered from her excitement, and
had dried her eyes, she began to think of the visit which had been
paid to her, not by George Holland, but by Herbert Courtland. She
dwelt, moreover, less upon his amusing account of the cruise of the
/Water Nymph/ than upon the words which he had said to her in regard
to his last visit. She had expressed her surprise at seeing him. Had
he not gone on a yachting cruise to Norway? Surely five days was under
rather than over the space of time necessary to thoroughly enjoy the
fine scenery of the fjords.
He had then laughed and said that he had received a letter at Leith
making his immediate return absolutely necessary.
"How disappointed you must have felt!" she suggested, with something
like a smile upon her face.
His smile was broader as he said:
"Well, I'm not so sure that my disappointment was such as would tend
to make me take a gloomy view of life for an indefinite time. Lord
Earlscourt is a very good sort of fellow; but----"
"Yes; I quite agree with you," said she, still smiling. "Knowing what
follows that 'but' in everyone's mind, we all thought it rather
strange on your part to start on that cruise. And so suddenly you
seemed to make up your mind, too. You never hinted to me that
afternoon that you were anxious to see Norway under the personal
conductorship of Lord Earlscourt."
"It would have been impossible for me to give you such a hint," said
he. "I had no idea myself that I wanted greatly to go to Norway, until
I met Earlscourt."
"So we gathered from what papa told us when he came in about midnight,
bringing Mr. Linton with him," said Phyllis. "Ella had come across to
me before nine, to ask me to go with her to 'Romeo and Juliet' at
Covent Garden, forgetting that I was dining with Lady Earlscourt."
"But you had not returned from the dinner party at nine," he
suggested. She had certainly succeeded in arousing his interest, even
in such ordinary details as those she was describing.
"Of course not; but Ella waited for me; I suppose she did not want to
return to her lonely house. She seemed so glad when I came in that she
made up her mind to stay with me all night."
"Oh! But she didn't stay with you?"
"Of course not, when her husband appeared. It was so funny--so
"So funny--so startling! Yes, it must have been--funny."
"Ella was wearing such a lovely frock--covered with diamonds. I wish
that you had seen her."
"I never saw anything so lovely. I told her that it was a bridal
"A bridal toilet?"
"We thought it such a pity that it should be wasted. She didn't go to
the opera, of course."
"And it was wasted--wasted?"
"Oh, no! When her husband came in with papa, about midnight, we
laughed and said that her dressing herself in that way was an
inspiration; that something told her that he was returning."
"Probably a telegram from Paris had told her; that was the source of
"Oh, no! what was so funny about the matter was that Mr. Linton's
servant bungled sending the telegram, so that Ella knew nothing of his
"You have not seen Ella since your return?"
"No; I have been with her husband on business all day, however."
"And of course he would not have occasion to refer to so casual an
incident as his wife's wearing a new toilet."
"Of course not. The word inspiration has no place in a commercial
vocabulary, Miss Ayrton."
"But it is a good word elsewhere, Mr. Courtland.
"Yes, it has its meaning. You think that it may be safely applied to
the wearing of an effective toilet. I wonder if you would think of
applying it to the words you said to me on the last evening I was
It was in a very low tone, and after a long pause, that she said:
"I hope if what I told you Mrs. Haddon said was an inspiration, it was
a good one. I felt that I must tell you, Mr. Courtland, though I fear
that I gave you some pain--great pain. I know what it is to be
reminded of an irreparable loss."
"Pain--pain?" said he. Then he raised his eyes to hers. "I wonder if
you will ever know what effect your words had upon me, Miss Ayrton?"
he added. "I don't suppose that you will ever know; but I tell you
that it would be impossible for me ever to cease to think of you as my
She flushed slightly, very slightly, before saying:
"How odd that Ella should call me her good angel, too, on that same
"And she spoke the truth, if ever truth was spoken," he cried.
Her face was very serious as she said:
"Of course I don't understand anything of this, Mr. Courtland."
"No," he said; "it would be impossible for you to understand anything
of it. It would be impossible for you to understand how I feel toward
you--how I have felt toward you since you spoke those words in this
room; those words that came to me as the light from heaven came to
Saul of Tarsus; words of salvation. Believe me, I shall never forget
"I am so glad," said she. "I am glad, though, as I say, I understand
Then there had been a long interval of silence before she had asked
him something further regarding the yachting party.
And now she was lying on her bed trying to recall every word that he
had spoken, and with a dread over her that what he had said would bear
out that terrible suspicion which she had prayed to God to forgive her
for entertaining on that night when Ella had gone home with her
No rumor had reached her ears regarding the closeness of the intimacy
existing between Mr. Courtland and Mrs. Linton; and thus it was that
when that suspicion had come upon her, after Ella had left her, she
felt that she was guilty of something akin to a crime--a horrible
breach of friendship, only to be expiated by tears and prayers.
That terrible thought had been borne upon her as a suggestion to
account for much that she could not understand in the words and the
behavior of Ella during that remarkable evening; and, in spite of her
remorse and her prayers, she could not rid herself of it. It left its
impression upon her mind, upon her heart. Hitherto she had only heard
about the way an unlawful passion sweeps over two people, causing them
to fling to the winds all considerations of home, of husband, of
religion, of honor; and she felt it to be very terrible to be brought
face to face with such a power; it seemed to her as terrible as to be
brought face to face with that personal Satan in whom she believed.
It only required such a hint as that which had come from George
Holland to set her smoldering suspicion--suspicion of a suspicion--in
a flame. It had flamed up before him in those words which she had
spoken to him. If Ella were guilty, he, George Holland, was to be held
responsible for her guilt.
But Ella was not guilty; Herbert Courtland was not guilty.
"No, no, no!" she cried, in the solitude of her chamber. "She did not
talk as a guilty woman would talk; and he--he went straight out of the
room where I had told him what Mrs. Haddon said about his mother, his
sister--straight aboard the yacht; and she----"
All at once the truth flashed upon her; the truth--she felt that it
was the truth; and both of them were guiltless. It was for Herbert
Courtland that Ella had put on that lovely dress; but she was
guiltless, he was guiltless. (Curiously enough, she felt quite as
happy in the thought that he was guiltless.) Yes, Ella had come to her
wearing that dress instead of waiting for him, and he---- Ah, she now
knew what he had meant when he had called her his good angel. She had
She flung herself on her knees in a passion of thanksgiving to God for
having made her the means of saving a soul from hell--yes, for the
And then she began to think what she should do in order that that soul
should be saved forever.
It was time for her to dress for dinner before she had finished
working out that great question, possibly the greatest question that
ever engrossed the attention of a young woman: how to save the soul of
a man, not temporarily, but eternally.
And all the time that she was in her room alone she had not a single
thought regarding the scene through which she had passed with the Rev.
George Holland. She had utterly forgotten him and his wickedness--his
vain sophistries. She had forgotten all that he had said to her--his
monstrous calumny leveled against her dearest friend; she even forgot
her unjust treatment of George Holland and her rudeness--her
unparalleled rudeness toward him. She was thinking over something very
much more important. What was a question of mere etiquette compared to
the question of saving a man's soul alive?
But when she dined opposite to her father it was to the visit of
George Holland she referred rather than to the visit of Herbert
"What had George Holland got to say that was calculated to interest
you?" her father inquired. The peaches were on the table and the
servant had, of course, left the room.
"He had nothing to say of interest to me," she replied.
"Nothing, except, of course, that his respectful aspiration to marry
you----" suggested Mr. Ayrton.
"You need not put the 'except' before that, my papa," said she.
"And yet I have for some years been under the impression that even
when a man whom she recoils from marrying talks to a young woman about
his aspirations in the direction of marriage, she is more interested
than she would be when the man whom she wishes to marry talks on some
"At any rate, George Holland didn't interest me so long as he talked
of his aspirations. Then he talked of--well, of something else, and
I'm afraid that I was rude to him. I don't think that he will come
here again. I know that I shall never go to St. Chad's again."
"Heavens above! This is a pretty story to tell a father. How were you
rude to him? I should like to have a story of your rudeness, merely to
hold up against you for a future emergency."
"I pointed to the door in the attitude of the heroine of one of the
old plays, and when he didn't leave at once, I left the room."
"You mean to say that you left him standing in the middle of the room
while you went away?"
"I told you that I was rude."
"Rude, yes; but it's one thing to omit to leave cards upon a hostess,
and quite another to stare her in the face when she bows to you in the
street. It's one thing to omit sending a man a piece of your
bridescake, and quite another to knock off his hat in the street.
Rude, oh, my dear Phyllis!"
"If you knew what he said about--about someone whom I love--if you
knew how angry I was, you would not say that I acted so atrociously,
"Oh! Did he say something more about Ruth?"
"He said too much--far too much; I cannot tell you. If any other man
said so much I would treat him in the same way. You must not ask me
anything further, please."
"Rude and unrepentant, shocking and not ashamed. This is terrible. But
perhaps it's better that you should be rude when you're young and
beautiful; later on, when you're no longer young, it will not be
permitted in you. I'll question you no further. Only how about
"I have promised Ella to go with her party to The Mooring for a week."
"That will get over the matter of the church, but only for one Sunday.
How about the next Sundays--until the prorogation? Now, don't say the
obvious 'sufficient unto the Sunday is the sermon thereof.' "
"I certainly will not. I have done forever with St. Chad's, unless the
bishop interferes and we get a new rector."
"Then that's settled. And so we can drink our coffee in the drawing
room with easy minds. Rude! Great Heavens!"
THAT'S WHY WOMEN DO NOT MAKE GOOD PHILOSOPHERS.
She had prayed to God that he might be kept away from her; but
immediately afterward, as has already been stated, when she began to
think over the situation of the hour, she came to the conclusion that
she had been a little too precipitate in her petition. She felt that
she would like to ask him how it had come about that he had played
that contemptible part. Such a contemptible part! Was it on record,
she wondered, that any man had ever played that contemptible part? To
run away! And she had designed and worn that wonderful toilet; such a
toilet as Helen might have worn (she thought); such a toilet as
Cleopatra might have worn (she fancied); such a toilet as--as Sarah
Bernhardt (she was certain) would wear when impersonating a woman who
had lost her soul for the love of a man. Oh, had ever woman been so
humiliated! She thought of the way Sarah Bernhardt would act the part
of one of those women if her lover had run away from her outstretched
arms,--and such a toilet,--only it was not on record that the lover of
any one of them had ever run away. The lovers had been only too
faithful; they had remained to be hacked to pieces with a mediaeval
knife sparkling with jewels, or to swallow some curious poison out of
a Byzantine goblet. She would have a word or two to say to Herbert
Courtland when he returned. She would create the part of the woman
whose lover has humiliated her.
This was her thought until her husband told her that he had sent that
letter to Herbert Courtland, and he would most likely dine with them
on the evening of his return.
Then it was it occurred to her that Herbert Courtland might by some
curious mischance--mischances occurred in many of Sarah Bernhardt's
plays--have come to hear that she had paid that rather singular visit
to Phyllis Ayrton, just at the hour that she had named in that letter
which she had written to him. What difference did that make in regard
to his unparalleled flight? He was actually aboard the yacht /Water
Nymph/ before she had rung for her brougham to take her to Phyllis'.
He had been the first to fly.
Then she began to think, as she had thought once before, of her
husband's sudden return,--the return of a husband at the exact hour
named in the letter to a lover was by no means an unknown incident in
a play of Sarah Bernhardt's,--and before she had continued upon this
course of thought for many minutes, she had come to the conclusion
that she would not be too hard on Herbert Courtland.
She was not too hard on him.
He had an interview with Mr. Linton at the city offices of the great
Taragonda Creek Mine. (The mine had, as has already been stated, been
discovered by Herbert Courtland during his early explorations in
Australia, and he had acquired out of his somewhat slender resources--
he had been poor in those days--about a square mile of the wretched
country where it was situated, and had then communicated his discovery
to Stephen Linton, who understood the science and arts necessary for
utilizing such a discovery, the result being that in two years
everyone connected with the Taragonda Mine was rich. The sweepings of
the crushing rooms were worth twenty thousand pounds a year: and
Herbert Courtland had spent about ten thousand pounds--a fourth of his
year's income--in the quest of the meteor-bird to make a feather fan
for Ella Linton.) And when the business for which he had been summoned
to London had been set /en train/, he had paid a visit to his
publishers. (They wondered could he give them a novel on New Guinea.
If he introduced plenty of dialect and it was sufficiently
unintelligible it might thrust the kail yard out of the market; but
the novel must be in dialect, they assured him.) After promising to
give the matter his attention, he paid his visit to Phyllis, and then
went to his rooms to dress; for when Stephen Linton had said:
"Of course you'll dine with us to-night: I told Ella you would come."
He had said, "Thanks; I shall be very pleased."
"Come early; eight sharp," Mr. Linton had added.
And thus it was that at five minutes to eight o'clock Herbert found
himself face to face alone with the woman whom he had so grossly
Perhaps she was hard on him after all: she addressed him as Mr.
Courtland. She felt that she, at any rate, had returned to the
straight path of duty when she had done that. (It was Herbert
Courtland who had talked to Phyllis of the modern philosopher--a
political philosopher or a philosophical politician--who, writing
against compromise, became the leading exponent of that science, and
had hoped to solve the question of a Deity by using a small g in
spelling God. On the same principle Ella had called Herbert "Mr.
He felt uneasy. Was he ashamed of himself, she wondered?
"Stephen will be down in a moment, Mr. Courtland," she said.
He was glad to hear it.
"How warm it has been all day!" she added. "I thought of you toiling
away over figures in the city, when you might have been breathing the
lovely air of the sea. It was too bad of Stephen to bring you back."
"I assure you I was glad to get his letter at Leith," said he. "I was
thinking for the two days previous how I could best concoct a telegram
to myself at Leith in order that I might have some excuse for running
"That is assuming that running away needs some excuse," said she.
There was a considerable pause before he said, in a low tone:
"Ella, Ella, I know everything--that night. We were saved."
At this moment Mr. Linton entered the room. He was, after all, not
late, he said: it wanted a minute still of being eight o'clock. He had
just been at the telephone to receive a reply regarding a box at
Covent Garden. In the earlier part of the day none had been vacant, he
had been told; but the people at the box office promised to telephone
to him if any became vacant in the course of the afternoon. He had
just come from the telephone, and had secured a good enough box on the
first tier. He hoped that Ella would not mind "Carmen"; there was to
be a new /Carmen/.
Ella assured him that she could not fail to be interested in any
/Carmen/, new or old. It was so good of him to take all that trouble
for her, knowing how devoted she was to opera. She hoped that Herbert
--she called him Herbert in the presence of her husband--was in a
"I'm always in a mood to study anything that's unreservedly savage,"
"There's not much reservation about our little friend /Carmen/," said
Mr. Linton. "She tells you her philosophy in her first moment before
He hummed the habanera.
"There you are: /Misteroso e l'amore/--that's the philosophy of your
pretty savage, Herbert."
"Yes," said Herbert; "it's that philosophy which consists in an
absence of philosophy--not the worst kind, either, it seems to me.
It's the philosophy of impulse."
"I thought that the aim of all philosophy was to check every impulse,"
"So it is; that's why women do not make good philosophers," said her
"Or, for that matter, good mothers of philosophers," said Herbert.
"That's rather a hard saying, isn't it?" said the other man.
"No," said his wife; "it's as transparent as air."
"London air in November?" suggested her husband.
"He means that there's no such thing."
"As air in London in November? I'm with him there."
"He means that there's no such thing as a good philosopher."
"Then I hope he has an appetite for dinner. The man without philosophy
The butler had just announced dinner.
There was not much talk among them of philosophy so long as the
footmen were floating round them like mighty tropical birds. They
talked of the House of Commons instead. A new measure was to be
introduced the next night: something that threatened beer and
satisfied no party; not even the teetotalers--only the wives of the
teetotalers. Then they had a few words regarding George Holland's
article in the /Zeit Geist/. Mr. Linton seemed to some extent
interested in the contentions of the rector of St. Chad's; and Herbert
agreed with him when he expressed the opinion that the two greatest
problems that the Church had to face were: How to get people with
intelligence to go to church, and what to do with them when they were
In an hour they were in their box at Covent Garden listening to the
sensuous music of "Carmen," and comparing the sauciness of the
charming little devil who sang the habanera, with the piquancy of the
last /Carmen/ but three, and with the refinement of the one who had
made so great a success at Munich. They agreed that the savagery of
the newest was very fascinating,--Stephen Linton called it womanly,--
but they thought they should like to hear her in the third act before
pronouncing a definite opinion regarding her capacity.
Then the husband left the box to talk to some people who were seated
"You know everything?" she said.
"Everything," said Herbert. "Can you ever forgive me?"
"For running away? Oh, Bertie, you cannot have heard all."
"For forcing you to write me that letter--can you ever forgive me?"
"Oh, the letter? Oh, Bertie, we were both wrong--terribly wrong. But
we were saved."
"Yes, we were saved. Thank God--thank God!"
"That was my first cry, Bertie, when I felt that I was safe--that we
both had been saved: Thank God! It seemed as if a miracle had been
done to save us."
"So it was--a miracle."
"I spent the night praying that you might be kept away from me, Bertie
--away for ever and ever. I felt that I was miserably weak; I felt
that I could not trust myself; but now that you are here beside me
again I feel strong. Oh, Bertie, we know ourselves better now than we
did a week ago--is it only a week ago? It seems months--years--a
"Yes, I think that we know each other better now, Ella. That night
aboard the yacht all the history of the past six months seemed to come
before me. I saw what a wretch I had been, and I was overwhelmed with
"It was all my fault, dear Bertie. I was foolish--vain--a mere woman!
Do not say that I did not take pride in what I called, in my secret
moments, my conquest. Oh, Bertie! I had sunk into the depths. And then
that letter! But we were saved, and I feel that we have been saved
forevermore. I feel strong by your side now. And you, I know, feel
"I have awakened from my dream, Ella. You called her your good angel
too. Surely it was my good angel that sent me to her that evening!"
Ella was staring at him. He said that he knew everything. It appeared
that she was the one who was not in the fortunate position of knowing
"Phyllis Ayrton--you were with her?"
"For half an hour. She was unconscious of the effect her words had
upon me,--the words of another woman,--leading me back to the side of
those who have gone forever. I listened to her, and then it was that I
awoke. She did not know. How could she tell that the light of heaven
was breaking in upon a soul that was on the brink of hell? She saved
"She told me nothing of that." There was a curious eagerness in her
voice. "She told me nothing. Oh, how could she tell me anything? She
knew nothing of it herself. She looked on you as an ordinary visitor.
She told you that I fled to her. Oh, Bertie, Bertie! those hours that
I passed--the terrible conflict. But when I felt her arms about me I
knew that I was safe. Then Stephen entered. I thought that we were
lost--you and I; that he had returned to find you waiting. I don't
know if he had a suspicion. At any rate we were saved, and by her--
dear Phyllis. Oh, will she ever know, I wonder, what it is to be a
woman? Bertie, she is my dearest friend--I told you so. I thought of
her and you--long ago. Oh, why should you not think of her now that
you have awakened and are capable of thought--the thought of a sane
He sat with an elbow resting on the front of the opera box, his head
upon his hand. He was not looking at her, but beyond her. He seemed to
be lost in thought.
Was he considering that curious doctrine which she had propounded,
that if a man really loves a woman he will marry her dearest friend?
He made no reply to her. The point required a good deal of thought,
"You hear me, Bertie--dear Bertie?" she said.
He only nodded.
She remembered that, upon a previous occasion, when she had made the
same suggestion to him, he had put it aside as unworthy of comment--
unworthy of a moment's thought. How could it be possible for him,
loving her as he did, to admit the possibility of another's
attractiveness in his eyes? The idea had seemed ludicrous to him.
But now he made no such protest. He seemed to consider her suggestion
and to think it--well, worthy of consideration; and this should have
been very pleasing to her; for did it not mean that she had gained her
"You will think over it, Bertie?" she said. Her voice was now scarcely
so full of eagerness as it had been before. Was that because she did
not want to weary him by her persistence? Even the suggestion to a man
that he should love a certain woman should, she knew, be made with
"I have been thinking over it," he said at last; but only after a long
"Oh, I am so glad!"
And she actually believed that she was glad.
"I thought about her aboard the yacht."
"Did you? I fancied that you would think of---- But I am so glad!"
"I thought of her as my good angel. Those words which she said to
"She has been your good angel, and I--"
"Ella, Ella, she has been our good angel--you said so."
"And don't you think that I meant it? Some women--she is one of them--
are born to lead men upward; others---- Ah, there, it is on the stage:
/Carmen/, the enchantress, /Michaela/, the good angel. But I am so
glad! She is coming to stay with us up the river; you must be with us
too. You cannot possibly know her yet. But a week by her side--you
will, I know, come to perceive what she is--the sweetest--the most
Still he made no reply. He was looking earnestly at the conductor, who
was pulling his musicians together for the second act.
"You will come to us, Bertie?" she whispered.
He shook his head.
"I dare not promise," said he. "I feel just now like a man who is
still dazed, on being suddenly awakened. I have not yet begun to see
things as they are. I am not sure of myself. I will let you know later
Then the conductor tapped his desk, and those of the audience who had
left their places returned. Stephen Linton slipped into his chair; his
wife took up her lorgnette as the first jingle of the tambourines was
heard, and the curtain rose upon the picturesque tawdriness of the
company assembled at the /Senor Lois Pastia's/ place of entertainment.
Ella gave all her attention to the opera--to that tragedy of the
weakness of the flesh, albeit the spirit may be willing to listen to
good. Alas! that the flesh should be so full of color and charm and
seduction, while the spirit is pale, colorless, and set to music in a
/Carmen/ flashed about the stage under the brilliant lights, looking
like a lovely purple butterfly--a lovely purple oriole endowed with
the double glory of plumage and song, and men whose hearts beat in
unison with the heart-beats of that sensuous music through which she
expressed herself, loved her; watched her with ravished eyes; heard
her with ravished ears--yes, as men love such women; until the senses
recover from the intoxication of her eyes and her limbs and her voice.
And in the third act the sweet /Michaela/ came on with her song of the
delight of purity, and peace, and home. She sang it charmingly,
everyone allowed, and hoped that /Carmen/ would sing as well in the
last act as she had sung in the others.
Ella Linton kept her eyes fixed upon the stage to the very end of all.
THE CHURCH IS NOT NEUROTIC.
When George Holland received his two letters and read them he laid
them side by side and asked himself what each of them meant.
Well, he could make a pretty good guess as to what the bishop's meant.
The bishop meant business. But what did Mr. Linton want with him? Mr.
Linton was a business man, perhaps he meant business too. Business men
occasionally mean business; they more frequently only pretend to do
so, in order to put off their guard the men they are trying to get the
He would have an interview with the bishop; so much was certain; and
that interview was bound to be a difficult one--for the bishop. It was
with some degree of pride that he anticipated the conflict. He would
withdraw nothing that he had written. Let all the forces of the earth
be leagued against him, he would abate not a jot--not a jot. (By the
forces of the earth he meant the Bench of Bishops, which was scarcely
doing justice to the bishops--or to the forces of the earth.)
Yes, they might deprive him of his living, but that would make no
difference to him. Not a jot--not a jot! They might persecute him to
the death. He would be faithful unto death to the truths he had
endeavored to spread abroad. He felt that they were truths.
But that other letter, which also asked for an interview at his
earliest convenience the next day, was rather more puzzling to George
Holland. He had never had any but the most casual acquaintance with
Mr. Linton--such an acquaintance as one has with one's host at a house
where one has occasionally dined. He had dined at Mr. Linton's house
more than once; but then he had been seated in such proximity to Mrs.
Linton as necessitated his remoteness from Mr. Linton. Therefore he
had never had a chance of becoming intimate with that gentleman. Why,
then, should that gentleman desire an early interview with him?
It was certainly curious that within a few minutes of his having
referred to Mrs. Linton, in the presence of Phyllis Ayrton, in a way
that had had a very unhappy result so far as he was concerned, he
should receive a letter from Mrs. Linton's husband asking for an early
He seated himself in his study chair and began to think what the
writer of that letter might have to say to him.
He had not to ask himself if it was possible that Mr. Linton might
have a word or two to say to him, respecting the word or two which he,
George Holland, had just said about Mrs. Linton; for George knew very
well that, though during the previous week or two he had heard some
persons speaking lightly of Mrs. Linton, coupling her name with the
name of Herbert Courtland, yet he had never had occasion to couple
their names together except during the previous half hour, so that it
could not be Mr. Linton's intention to take him to task, so to speak,
for his indiscretion--his slander, Phyllis might be disposed to term
Upon that point he was entirely satisfied. But he was not certain that
Mr. Linton did not want to consult him on some matter having more or
less direct bearing upon the coupling together of the names of Mrs.
Linton and Mr. Courtland. People even in town are fond of consulting
clergymen upon curious personal matters--matters upon which a lawyer
or a doctor should rather be consulted. He himself had never
encouraged such confidences. What did he keep curates for? His curates
had saved him many a long hour of talk with inconsequent men and
illogical women who had come to him with their stories. What were to
him the stories of men whose wives were giving them trouble? What were
to him the stories of wives who had difficulties with their housemaids
or who could not keep their boys from reading pirate literature? His
curates managed the domestic department of his church for him. They
could give any earnest inquirer at a moment's notice the addresses of
several civil-spoken women (elderly) who went out as mother's helps by
the day. They were very useful young men and professed to like this
work. He would not do them the injustice to believe that they spoke
the truth in that particular way.
He could not fancy for what purpose Mr. Linton wished to see him. But
he made up his mind that, if Mr. Linton was anxious that his wife
should be remonstrated with, he, George Holland, would decline to
accept the duty of remonstrating with her. He was wise enough to know
that he did not know very much about womankind; but he knew too much
to suppose that there is any more thankless employment than
remonstrating with an extremely pretty woman on any subject, but
particularly on the subject of a very distinguished man to whom she
considers herself bound by ties of the truest friendship.
But then there came upon him with the force of a great shock the
recollection of what Phyllis had said to him on this very point:
"/If Ella Linton were wicked, you should be held responsible for it in
the sight of God/."
Those were her words, and those words cut asunder the last strand of
whatever tie there had been between him and Phyllis.
His duty as a clergyman intrusted with the care of the souls of the
people, he had neglected that, she declared with startling vehemence.
He had been actuated by vanity in publishing his book--his article in
the /Zeit Geist Review/--she had said so; but there she had been
wrong. He felt that she had done him a great injustice in that
particular statement, and he tried to make his sense of this injustice
take the place of the uneasy feeling of which he was conscious, when
he thought over her other words. He knew that he was not actuated by
vanity in adopting the bold course that was represented by his
writings. He honestly believed that his efforts were calculated to
work a great reform in the Church. If not in the Church, outside it.
But his duty in regard to the souls of the people---- Oh! it was the
merest sophistry to assume that such responsibility on the part of a
clergyman is susceptible of being particularized. It should, he felt,
be touched upon, if at all, in a very general way. Did that young
woman expect that he should preach a sermon to suit the special case
of every individual soul intrusted (according to her absurd theory) to
The idea was preposterous; it could not be seriously considered for a
moment. She had allowed herself to be carried away by her affection
for her friend to make accusations against him, in which even she
herself would not persist in her quieter moments.
He found it quite easy to prove that Phyllis had been in the wrong and
that he was in the right; but this fact did not prevent an
intermittent recurrence during the evening of that feeling of
uneasiness, as those words of the girl, "/If Ella Linton were wicked,
you would be held responsible for it in the sight of God/," buzzed in
"Would she have me become an ordinary clergyman of the Church of
England?" he cried indignantly, as he switched on the light in his
bedroom shortly before midnight--for the rushlight in the cell of the
modern man of God is supplied at a strength of so many volts. "Would
she have me become the model country parson, preaching to the squire
and other yokels on Sunday, and chatting about their souls to wheezy
Granfer this, and Gammer that?" He had read the works of Mr. Thomas
Hardy. "Does she suppose that I was made for such a life as that? Poor
Phyllis! When will she awake from this dream of hers?"
Did he fancy that he loved her still? or was the pain that he felt,
when he reflected that he had lost her, the result of his wounded
vanity--the result of his feeling that people would say he had not had
sufficient skill, with all his cleverness, to retain the love of the
girl who had promised to be his wife?
Before going to bed he had written replies to the two letters. The
bishop had suggested an early hour for their interview--he had named
eleven o'clock as convenient to himself, if it would also suit Mr.
Holland. Two o'clock was the hour suggested by Mr. Linton, if that
hour would not interfere with the other engagements of Mr. Holland; so
he had written agreements to the suggestions of both his
At eleven o'clock exactly he drove through the gates of the Palace of
the bishop, and with no faltering hand pulled the bell. (So, he
reflected for an instant,--only an instant,--Luther had gone,
somewhere or other, he forgot at the moment what was the exact
locality; but the occasion had been a momentous one in the history of
He was cordially greeted by the bishop, who said:
"How do you do, Holland? I took it for granted that you were an early
riser--that's why I ventured to name eleven."
"No hour could suit me better to-day," said George, accepting the seat
--he perceived at once that it was a genuine Chippendale chair
upholstered in old red morocco--to which his lordship made a motion
with his hand. He did not, however, seat himself until the bishop had
occupied, which he did very comfortably, the corresponding chair at
the side of the study desk.
"I was anxious to have a chat with you about that book, and that
article of yours in the /Zeit Geist/, Holland," said the bishop. "I
wish you had written neither."
"/Litera scripta manet/," said George, with a smile.
One may quote Latin in conversation with a bishop without being
thought a prig. In a letter to the /Times/ and in conversation with a
bishop are the only two occasions in these unclassical days when one
may safely quote Latin or Greek.
"That's the worst of it," said the prelate, with a shake of his head
that was Early Norman. "Yes, you see a book isn't like a sermon.
People don't remember a man's sermons against him nowadays; they do
his books, however."
"I am quite ready to accept the conditions of modern life, my lord,"
"I was anxious to give you my opinion as early as possible," resumed
the bishop, "and that is, that what you have just published--the book
and the /Zeit Geist/ article--reflect--yes, in no inconsiderable
measure--what I have long thought."
"I am flattered, indeed, my lord."
"You need not be, Holland. I believe that there are a large number of
thinking men in the Church who are trying to solve the problem with
which you have so daringly grappled--the problem of how to induce
intellectual men and women to attend the services of the church. I'm
afraid that there is a great deal of truth in what you say about the
Church herself bearing responsibility for the existence of this
"There is no setting aside that fact, my lord."
"Alas! that short-sighted policy has been the Church's greatest enemy
from the earliest period. You remember what St. Augustine says? Ah,
never mind just now. About your book--that's the matter before us just
now. I must say that I don't consider the present time the most
suitable for the issue of that book, or that article in the /Zeit
Geist/. You meant them to be startling. Well, they are startling.
There are some complaints--nervous complaints--that require to be
startled out of the system; that's a phrase of Sir Richard's. He made
use of it in regard to my neuralgia. 'We must surprise it out of the
system,' said he, 'with a large dose of quinine.' The phrase seemed to
me to be a very striking one. But the Church is not neurotic. You
cannot apply the surprise method to her system with any chance of
success. That is wherein the publication of your article seems to me
to be--shall we call it premature? It is calculated to startle; but
you cannot startle people into going to church, my dear Holland, and
that is, of course, the only object you hope to achieve. Your book and
your article were written with the sole object of bringing intelligent
people to church. But it occurs to me, and I think it will occur to
you also, that if the article be taken seriously,--and it is meant to
be taken seriously,--it may be the means of keeping people away from
the Church rather than bringing them to church. It may even be the
means of alienating from that fond, if somewhat foolish old mother of
ours, many of her children who are already attached to her. I trust I
don't speak harshly."
"Your lordship speaks most kindly; but the truth--"
"Should be spoken as gently as possible when it is calculated to
wound, Holland; that is why I trust I am speaking gently now. Ah,
Holland! there are the little children to be considered as well as the
Scribes and Pharisees. There are weaker brethren. You have heard of
the necessity for considering the weaker brethren."
"I seem to have heard of nothing else since I entered the Church; all
the brethren are the weaker brethren."
"They are; I am one of the weaker brethren myself. It is all a
question of comparison. I don't say that your article is likely to
have the effect of causing me to join the band of non-church-goers. I
don't at this moment believe that it will drive me to golf instead of
Gospel; but I honestly do believe that it is calculated to do that to
hundreds of persons who just now require but the smallest grain of
argument to turn the balance of their minds in favor of golf. Your aim
was not in that direction, I'm sure, Holland."
"My aim was to speak the truth, my lord."
"In order to achieve a noble object--the gathering of the stragglers
into the fold."
"That was my motive, my lord."
"You announce boldly that this old mother of ours is in a moribund
condition, in order that you may gather in as many of her scattered
children as possible to stand at her bedside? Ah, my dear Holland! the
moribund brings together the wolves and the vultures and all unclean,
hungry things to try and get a mouthful off those prostrate limbs of
hers--a mouthful while her flesh is still warm. I tell you this--I who
have from time to time during the last fifty years heard the howl of
the hyena, seen the talons of the vulture at the door of her chamber.
They fancied that the end could not be far off, that no more strength
was left in that aged body that lay prone for the moment. But I have
heard the howling wane into the distance and get lost in the outer
darkness when the old Church roused herself and went forth to face the
snarling teeth--the eager talons. There is life in this mighty old
mother of ours still. New life comes to her, not as it did to the
fabled hero of old, by contact with the earth, but by communing with
heaven. The bark of the wolf, the snarl of the hyena, may be heard in
the debate which the Government have encouraged in the House of
Commons on the Church. Philistia rejoices. Let the movers in this
obscene tumult look to themselves. Have they the confidence of the
people even as the Church has that confidence? Let them put it to the
test. I tell you, George Holland, the desert and the ditch, whose
vomit those men are who now move against us in Parliament, shall
receive them once more before many months have passed. The Church on
whom they hoped to prey shall witness their dispersal, never again to
return. I know the signs. I know what the present silence throughout
the country means. The champion of God and the Church has drawn his
breath for the conflict. His teeth are set--his weapon is in his hand
--you will see the result within a year. We shall have a government in
power, a government whose power will not be dependent on the faddists
and the self-seekers--the ignorant, the blatant bellowers of pitiful
platitudes, the platform loafers who call themselves labor-leaders,
but whom the real laborers repudiate. Mark my words, their doom is
sealed; back to the desert and the ditch! My dear Holland, pardon this
digression. I feel that I need say nothing more to you than I have
already said. The surprise system of therapeutics is not suited to the
existing ailments of the Church. Caution is what is needed if you
would not defeat your own worthy object, which, I know, is to give
fresh vitality to the Church."
"That is certainly my object, my lord; only let me say that--"
"My dear Holland, I will not let you say anything. I asked you to come
here this morning in order that you might hear me. That is all that is
necessary for the present. Perhaps, upon some future occasion, I may
have the privilege of hearing you in a discourse of some greater
length than that which I have just inflicted upon you. I have given
you my candid opinion of your writings, and you know that is the
opinion of a man who has but one object in life--you know that it is
the opinion of an old man who has seen the beginning and the end of
many movements in society and in the Church, and who has learned that
the Church, for all her decrepitude, is yet the most stable thing that
the world has seen. I have to thank you for coming to me, Holland."
"Your lordship has spoken to me with the greatest kindness," said
George Holland, as his spiritual father offered him his hand.
In a few minutes he was in his hansom once more.
I KNOW THAT IT DOESN'T MATTER MUCH TO GOD WHAT A MAN THINKS ABOUT
HIMSELF OR HIS SOUL.
For the next hour and a half the Rev. George Holland had an
opportunity of considering his position as a clergyman of the Church
of England, and as one whose chief desire was to advance the interests
of the Church. His bishop had assumed that he had been single-minded
in his aims--that his sole object in writing that book and that paper
had been to cure the complaint from which the old Church was
suffering. His lordship had done him justice where Phyllis had done
him a gross injustice. What would Phyllis have said he wondered, if
she had heard that concession, made not under pressure, but
voluntarily by probably the highest authority in the world, to his,
George Holland's, singleness of aim?
But it was so like a girl to jump at conclusions--to assume that he
had been actuated by vanity in all that he had just done; that he was
desirous only of getting people to talk about him--being regardless
whether they spoke well of him or ill. He only wished that she could
have heard the bishop. He felt as a man feels whose character has just
been cleared in a court of law from an aspersion that has rested on it
for some time. He wondered if that truly noble man whom he was
privileged to call his Father in God, would have any objection to give
him a testimonial to the effect that in his opinion,--the opinion of
his Father in God,--there was no foundation for the accusation against
him and his singleness of aim.
But the bishop knew that it was not vanity which had urged him to
write what he had written. The bishop understood men.
He was right; the bishop understood men so well as to be able to
produce in a few words upon the man who had just visited the palace,
the impression that he believed that that man had been impelled by a
strong sense of duty without a touch of vanity. He understood man so
well as to cause that same visitor of his to make a resolution never
again to publish anything in the same strain as the /Zeit Geist/
article, without first consulting with the bishop. George Holland had
pulled the bell at the palace gates with the hand of a Luther; but he
had left the presence of the bishop with the step of a Francis of
Assisi. He felt that anyone who would voluntarily give pain to so
gentle a man as the bishop could only be a brute. He even felt that
the bishop had shown himself to be his, George Holland's superior in
judgment and in the methods which he employed. The bishop was not an
For a full hour in the silence and solitude of the reading room of his
club he reflected upon the excellence of the bishop, and it was with a
sign of regret that he rose to keep his other appointment. He would
have liked to continue for another hour or two doing justice to that
good man out of whose presence he had come.
Mr. Linton's office was not quite in the City. Twenty minutes drive
brought George Holland into the private room of Ella Linton's husband.
"It is very good of you to come to me, Mr. Holland," said Stephen.
"There seems to be a general idea that a clergyman should be at the
beck and call of everyone who has a whim to--what do they call it in
Ireland--to make his soul? That has never been my opinion; I have
never given any trouble to a clergyman since I was at school."
"It is the privilege of a minister to be a servant," said the Rev.
"We were taught that at school--in connection with the Latin verb
/ministro/," said Mr. Linton. "Well, Mr. Holland, I am glad that you
take such a view of your calling, for I am anxious that you should do
me a great service."
George Holland bent his head. He wondered if Mr. Linton wished to
intrust him with the duty of observing his wife.
"The fact is, Mr. Holland," resumed Stephen Linton, "I have read your
book and your paper in that review. The way you deal with a difficult
question has filled me with admiration. You will, I need scarcely say,
be outside the Church before long."
"I cannot allow you to assume that, Mr. Linton," said George gravely.
"I should be sorry to leave the Church. I cannot see that my leaving
it is the logical sequence of anything that I have yet written. My aim
is, as doubtless you have perceived, to bring about such reasonable
and, after all, not radical changes in the Church system as shall make
her in the future a more potent agency for good than she has ever yet
been, splendid though her services to humanity have been."
"Still you will find yourself outside the walls of your Church, Mr.
Holland. And you will probably adopt the course which other sons of
the Church have thought necessary to pursue when the stubborn old
thing refused to be reformed."
"If you suggest that I shall become a Dissenter, Mr. Linton--"
"I suggest nothing of the sort, though you dissent already from a good
many of the fundamental practices of the Church, if I may be permitted
the expression. Now, I should like to make a provision for your
future, Mr. Holland."
"My dear sir, such a proposition seems to me to be a most
extraordinary one. I hope you will not think me rude in saying so
much. I have not suggested, Mr. Linton, as other clergymen might, that
you mean an affront to me, but I don't think that anything would be
gained by prolonging--"
"Permit me to continue, and perhaps you may get a glimmer of gain. Mr.
Holland, I am what people usually term a doomed man. So far as I can
gather I have only about six months longer to live."
"Perhaps it is merciful on the part of Heaven to destroy a man when he
has reached the age of forty. We'll not go into that question just
now. I was warned by a doctor two years ago that I had not long to
live. It appears that my heart was never really a heart--that is to
say, it may have had its affections, its emotions, its passions, but
pneumatically it is a failure; it was never a blood-pump. Six months
ago I was examined by the greatest authority in Europe, and he
pronounced my doom. Three days ago I went to the leading specialist in
London, and he told me I might with care live six months longer."
"My dear Mr. Linton, with what words can I express to you my deep
feeling for you?"
George Holland spoke after a prolonged pause, during which he stared
at the white-faced man before him. A smile was upon that white face.
George was deeply affected. He seemed to have stepped out of a world
of visions--a world that had a visionary Church, visionary preachers,
visionary doctrines--all unsubstantial as words, which are but breath
--into a world of realities--such realities as life and death and----
Ah, there were no other realities in existence but the two: life and
And Mr. Linton continued smiling.
"You may gather that I wrote to you in order that you may help me to
make my soul. What a capital phrase! I didn't do that, Mr. Holland. I
have never been sanguine about man and his soul. I know that it
doesn't matter much to God what a man thinks about himself or his
soul. It really doesn't matter much whether he believes or not that he
has a soul: God is the Principle of Right--the Fountain of Justice,
and I'm willing to trust myself to God."
"That is true religion, Mr. Linton," said the clergyman.
"But I agree with those people who think that the world cannot get on
without a Church. Now, I am sanguine enough to believe that a Church
founded on your ideas of what is orthodox would be the means of doing
a great deal of good. It would do a great deal of good to my wife, to
start with. She does not know that she is so soon to be a widow. Were
she to know, the last months of my life would be miserable to both of
us. I have noticed with some pain, or should I say amusement? perhaps
that word would be the better--I have noticed, I say, that her life is
one of complete aimlessness, and that, therefore, she is tempted to
think too much about herself. She is also tempted to have longings for
--well, for temptation. Ah, she is a woman and temptation is in the
way of women. /Qui parle d'amour, fait l'amour/: temptation comes to
the woman who thinks about being tempted. Now, I want to give her
something to think about that shall lead her out of the thoughts of
temptation which I suppose come naturally to a daughter of Eve--the
first woman who thought about temptation and was therefore tempted. My
wife is a perfectly good woman, and you will be surprised to find out
when I am dead how fond of me she was--she will be the most surprised
of all. But she is a woman. If she were not so much of a woman I don't
suppose I should ever have cared so much for her as I do. I cared so
much for her, Mr. Holland, that I remained away from her in Paris for
three months so that I might school myself to my fate, making no sign
that would lead her to suspect the truth. Why should she have six
months' additional misery? I have strayed. The Church. I want to give
my wife an aim in life; to make her feel that she is doing something
worthy--to keep her from thinking of less worthy things. Now, I think
you will agree with me that there is nothing women are really so fond
of as a Church of some sort. To be devout is as much a part of a
woman's disposition as to love--the passion of devoutness sometimes
takes the place of the passion of love in her nature. Now, I want to
give her this idea of a Church to work out when I am dead. I want you
to carry out as joint trustee with her your theories in regard to the
ritual, the art, the sermon; and for this purpose I should of course
provide an ample endowment--say three or four thousand a year;
anything you may suggest: I shall leave a great deal of money behind
"Your project startles me, Mr. Linton," said George Holland. "It
startles me as greatly as the first revelation you made to me did.
They may be mistaken--the doctors; I have known cases where the
highest authorities were ludicrously in error. Let us hope that."
"Well, we may hope; I may live long enough to lay the foundation stone
of the Church myself. But I am most anxious that you should give the
whole matter your earnest attention."
"I am quite dazed. Do you suggest that I should leave the Church of
"By no means. That is a question which I leave entirely to your own
decision. My own idea is that you would like a free hand. You will
have to leave the Church sooner or later. A man with your advanced
ideas cannot regulate your pace to that of an old woman. In twenty
years the Church will think precisely as you think to-day. That is the
way with the Church. It opposes everything in the way of an
innovation. You stated the case very fairly in your paper. The Church
opposes every discovery and every new thing as long as possible. It
then only accepts grudgingly what all civilization has accepted
cordially. Oh, yes, you'll find it impossible to remain in the Church,
Mr. Holland. 'Crabbed age and youth,' you know."
"I should part from the Church with the greatest reluctance, Mr.
"Then don't part from it, only don't place yourself in its power.
Don't be beholden to it for your income. Don't go to the heads of the
Church for orders. Be your own master and in plain words, run the
concern on your own lines. The widow of the founder will have no power
to interfere with you in the matter of such arrangements."
"I shall have to give the matter a good deal of thought. I should
naturally have to reform a good deal of the ritual."
"Naturally. The existing ritual is only a compromise. And as for the
hymns which are sung, why is it necessary for them to be doggerel
before they are devotional?"
"The hymns are for the most part doggerel. We should have a first-rate
choir and anthems--not necessarily taken from the Bible. Why should
not Shakspere be sung in churches--Shakspere's divine poetry instead
of the nonsense-rhymes that people call hymns? Shakspere and Milton;
Shelley I would not debar; Wordsworth's sonnets. But the scheme will
require a great deal of thought."
"A great deal; that is why I leave it in your hands. You are a
thinking man--you are not afraid of tradition."
"Tradition--tradition! the ruts made in the road by the vehicles that
have passed over it in years gone by!"
"The road to the Church is sadly in need of macadamizing, Mr. Holland
--or, better still, asphalting. Make a bicycle road of it, and you are
all right. Now, come with me to my club and have lunch. We'll talk no
more just now about this matter."
They went out together.
THERE IS NO ONE I LIKE BETTER THAN PHYLLIS.
Phyllis Ayrton had spent a considerable time pondering over that
problem of how best to save a man and a woman from destruction--
social, perhaps; eternal, for certain. She felt that it had been laid
upon her to save them both, and she remembered the case of one Jonah,
a prophet, who, in endeavoring to escape from the disagreeable duty
with which he had been intrusted, had had an experience that was
practically unique, even among prophets. She would not try to evade
her responsibility in this matter.
A few days after Herbert Courtland had witnessed by the side of Ella
the representation of "Carmen," he had met Phyllis at an At Home. He
had seen her in the distance through a vista of crowded rooms, and had
crushed his way to her side. He could scarcely fail to see the little
light that came to her face as she put out her hand to him, nor could
her companion of the moment--he was one of the coming men in science,
consequently like most coming men, he had been forced into a prominent
place in the drawing room--fail to perceive that his farewell moment
with that pretty Miss Ayrton had come. She practically turned her back
upon him when Herbert Courtland came up.
For some moments they chatted together, and then it occurred to him
that she might like some iced coffee. His surmise proved correct, and
as there was at that moment a stream of people endeavoring to avoid
the entertainment of the high-class pianoforte player which was
threatened in a neighboring apartment, Phyllis and her companion had
no trouble in slipping aside from the panic-stricken people into the
It was a sultry day, and the French windows of the room were open. It
was Phyllis who discovered that there was a narrow veranda, with iron-
work covered with creepers, running halfway round the house from
window to window; and when he suggested to her that they might drink
their coffee on this veranda, she hailed the suggestion as a very
happy one. How did it come that none of the rest of the people had
thought of that? she wondered.
In another instant they were standing together at the space between
the windows outside, the long-leaved creepers mingling with the
decorations of her hat, and making a very effective background for his
For the next half-hour people were intermittently coming to one of the
windows, putting their heads out and then turning away, the girls with
gentle little pursings of the mouth and other forms that the sneer
feminine assumes; the men with winks and an occasional chuckle,
suggestive of an exchange of confidence too deep for words.
One woman had poked her head out--it was gray at the roots and golden
at the tips--and asked her companion in a voice that had a large
circumference where was Mrs. Linton.
Now, Herbert Courtland had not lived so long far from the busy haunts
of men (white) as to be utterly ignorant of the fact that no young
woman but one who is disposed to be quite friendly with a man, would
adopt such a suggestion as he had made to her, and spend half an hour
drinking half a cup of iced coffee by his side in that particular
place. The particular place might have accommodated six persons; but
he knew, and he knew that she knew also, that it was one of the
unwritten laws of good society that such particular places are
overcrowded if occupied by three persons. It was on this account the
old men and maidens and the young men and matrons--that is how they
pair themselves nowadays--had avoided the veranda so carefully,
refusing to contribute to its congestion as a place of resort.
Herbert Courtland could not but feel that Phyllis intended to be
friendly with him--even at the risk of being within audible distance
of the strong man who was fighting a duel /a outrance/ with a grand
piano; and as he desired to be on friendly terms with a girl in whom
he was greatly interested, he was very much pleased to find her
showing no disposition to return to the tea room, or any other room,
until quite half an hour had gone by very pleasantly. And then she did
so with a start: the start of a girl who suddenly remembers a duty--
and regrets it.
That had pleased him greatly; he felt it to be rather a triumph for
him that by his side she had not only forgotten her duty but was glad
she had forgotten it.
"Oh, yes!" she said, in answer to his question, "I have two other
places to go to. I'm so sorry."
"Sorry that you remembered them?" he had suggested.
She shook her head smiling.
"What would happen if--I had continued forgetting them?" she asked.
"That is the most interesting question I have heard in some time. Why
not try to continue forgetting them?"
"I'm too great a coward," she replied, putting out her hand to him,
for now her victoria had drawn up and the footman was standing ready
to open the door.
"Good-by," said he.
"Oh, no! only /au revoir/," she murmured.
"With all my heart--/au revoir/ at The Mooring," said he.
That /au revoir/ had reference to the circumstance that they were to
be fellow-guests at Mrs. Linton's house at Hurley-on-Thames, known as
The Mooring. Phyllis had told him that she was about to pay that
visit, and when he said:
"Why, I am going as well," she had raised her eyes to his face, an
unmistakable look of pleasure on her own, as she cried:
"I am so glad! When do you go?"
"I go on Tuesday--two days sooner."
The tone in which she spoke made him feel that she had said:
"What on earth shall I do during those dreary two days?" or else he
had become singularly conceited.
But even if she had actually said those words they would not have made
him feel unduly vain. He reflected upon the fact which he had more
than once previously noticed--namely, that the girl, though wise as
became a daughter of a Member of Parliament to be (considering that
she had to prevent, or do her best to prevent, her father from making
a fool of himself), was in many respects as innocent and as natural as
a girl should be. She had only spoken naturally when she had said that
she was glad he was to be of the riverside party--when she had implied
by her tone that she was sorry that two whole days were bound to pass
before he should arrive.
What was there in all that she had said, to make such a man as he vain
--in all that she had implied? If she had been six years old instead
of twenty-three, she would probably have told him that she loved him.
The innocence of the child would have made her outspoken; but would
his vanity have been fostered by the confession? It was the charming
naturalness of the girl that had caused her to speak out what it was
but natural she should feel. She and he had liked each other from the
first, and it was quite natural that she should be glad to see him at
That was what he thought as he strolled to his rooms preparatory to
dressing for some function of the night. He flattered himself that he
was able to look at any situation straight in the face, so to speak.
He flattered himself that he was not a man to be led away by vanity.
He was, as a rule, on very good terms with himself, but he was rather
inclined to undervalue than overestimate the distinction which he
enjoyed among his fellow-men. And the result of his due consideration
of his last meeting with Phyllis was to make him feel that he had
never met a girl who was quite so nice; but he also felt that, if he
were to assume from the gladness which she had manifested not merely
at being with him that day, but at the prospect of meeting him up the
river, that he had made an impression upon her heart, he would be
assuming too much.
But all the same, he could not help wishing that Ella had asked him to
go to The Mooring on Tuesday rather than Thursday; and he felt when
Tuesday arrived that the hot and dusty town with its ceaseless roll of
gloomy festivities contained nothing for him that he would not
willingly part withal in exchange for an hour or two beside the still
waters of the Thames in the neighborhood of Hurley.
Stephen Linton had bought The Mooring when his wife had taken a fancy
to it the previous year, when she had had an attack of that river
fever which sooner or later takes hold upon Londoners, making them
ready to sell all their possessions and encamp on the banks of the
Thames. It had been a great delight to her to furnish that lovely old
house according to her taste, making each room a picture of
consistency in decoration and furniture, and it had been a great
delight to her to watch the garden being laid out after the most
perfect eighteenth-century pattern, with its green terraces and
clipped hedges. She had gone so far as to live in the house for close
upon a whole fortnight the previous autumn. Since that time the
caretaker had found it a trifle too cold in the winter and too hot in
the summer, he had complained to Mrs. Linton. But she knew that there
is no pleasing caretakers; she had not been put out of favor with the
place; she hoped to spend at least a week under its roof before the
end of the season, and perhaps another week before starting for
Scotland in the autumn.
She suddenly came to the conclusion one day that her husband was not
looking well--a conclusion which was certainly well founded. She
declared that a few days up the river was precisely what would restore
him to robust health. (But here it is to be feared her judgment was in
error.) He had been thinking too much about the new development of the
mine and the property surrounding it at Taragonda Creek. What did his
receiving a couple of hundred thousand pounds matter if his health
were jeopardized, she inquired of him one day, wearing the anxious
face of the Good Wife.
He had smiled that curious smile of his,--it was becoming more curious
every day,--and had said:
"Up the river we shall go, and I'll get Phyllis to come with us to
amuse you--you know that you like Phyllis," his wife cried.
"There is no one I like better than Phyllis," he had said.
And so the matter had been settled.
But during the day or two that followed this settlement, Ella came
upon several of her friends who she found were looking a trifle fagged
through the pressure of the season, and she promptly invited them to
The Mooring, so that she had a party of close upon a dozen persons
coming to her house--some for a day, some for as long as three days,
commencing with the Tuesday when she and Phyllis went off together.
Mr. Linton had promised to join the party toward the end of the week.
And that was how it came about that Herbert Courtland found himself
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