The Fortunate Youth
William J. Locke
Part 2 out of 6
Rowlatt laughed and pocketed the coin. "All right," said he, with a
playful bow. "I'm exceedingly indebted to your courtesy."
Barney Bill gave Paul an approving glance. "Good for you, boy. Never
take money you've not earned. Good day to you, sir"--he touched
his cap. "And"--with a motion toward the empty mugs--"thank you
Rowlatt strolled with them to the van, Barney Bill limping a pace or
two ahead. "Remember what I told you, my young friend," said he in a
low voice. "I don't go back upon my word. I'll help you. But if
you're a wise boy and know what's good for you, you'll stick to Mr.
Barney Bill and the freedom of the high-road and the light heart of
the vagabond. You'll have a devilish sight more happiness in the
But Paul, who already looked upon his gipsy self as dead as his
Bludston self, and these dead selves as stepping-stones to higher
things, turned a deaf ear to his new friend's paradoxical
philosophy. "I'll remember," said he. "Mr. W. W. Rowlatt, 4, Gray's
The young architect watched the van with its swinging, creaking
excrescences lumber away down the hot and dusty road, and turned
with a puzzled expression to his easel. Joy in the Little Bear Inn
had for the moment departed. Presently he found himself scribbling a
letter in pencil to his brother, the Royal Academician.
"So you see, my dear fellow," he wrote toward the end of the
epistle, "I am in a quandary. That the little beggar is of startling
beauty is undeniable. That he has got his bill agape, like a young
bird, for whatever food of beauty and emotion and knowledge comes
his way is obvious to any fool. But whether, in what I propose, I'm
giving a helping hand to a kind of wild genius, or whether I'm
starting a vain boy along the primrose path in the direction of
everlasting bonfire, I'm damned if I know."
But Paul jogged along by the side of Barney Bill in no such state of
dubiety. God was in His Heaven, arranging everything for his
especial benefit. All was well with the world where dazzling
destinies like his were bound to be fulfilled.
"I've heard of such things," said Barney Bill with a reflective
twist of his head, when Paul had told him of Mr. Rowlatt's
suggestion. "A cousin of mine married a man who knew a gal who used
to stand in her birthday suit in front of a lot of young painter
chaps-and I'm bound to say he used to declare she was as good a gal
as his own wife, especially seeing as how she supported an old
father what had got a stroke, and a houseful of young brothers and
sisters. So I'm not saying there's any harm in it. And I wouldn't
stand in your way, sonny, seeing as how you want to get to your
'igh-born parents. You might find 'em. on the road, and then again
you mightn't. And thirty bob a week at fourteen-no-it would be
flying in the face of Providence to say 'don't do it! But what licks
me is: what the blazes do they want with a little varmint like you?
Why shouldn't they pay thirty bob a week to paint me?"
Paul did not reply, being instinctively averse from wounding
susceptibilities. But in his heart rose a high pity for the common
though kindly clay that was Barney Bill.
WHEN they reached London in November, after circuitous wanderings,
Barney Bill said to Paul: "You've seed enough of me, matey, to know
that I wish yer good and not harm. I've fed yer and I've housed
yer-I can't say as how I've done much toward clothing yer-and three
months on the road has knocked corners off the swell toggery yer
came to me in; but I ain't beat yer or cussed yer more than yer
deserved"--whereat Paul grinned-"and I've spent a lot of valuable
time, when I might have been profitably doing nothing, a-larning yer
of things and, so to speak, completing yer eddication. Is that the
truth, or am I a bloomin' liar?"
Paul, thus challenged, confirmed the absolute veracity of Barney
Bill's statement. The latter continued, bending forward, his lean
brown hand on the boy's shoulder, and looking at him earnestly: "I
took yer away from your 'appy 'ome because, though the 'ome might
have been 'appy in its own sweet way, you wasn't. I wanted to set
yer on the track of yer 'ighborn parents. I wanted to make a man of
yer. I want to do the best for yer now, so I put it to yer straight:
If yer likes to come along of me altogether, I'll pay yer wages on
the next round, and when yer gets a little older I'll take yer into
partnership and leave yer the business when I die. It's a man's life
and a free life, and I think yer likes it, don't yer?"
"Ay," said Paul, "it's foine."
"On the other hand, as I said afore, I won't stand in yer way, and
if yer thinks you'll get nearer to your 'igh-born parents by
hitching up with Mr. Architect, well--you're old enough to choose.
I leave it to you."
But Paul had already chosen. The Road had its magical fascination,
to which he would have surrendered all his boyish soul, had not the
call of his destiny been more insistent. The Road led nowhither.
Princes and princesses were as rare as hips and haws in summer-time.
Their glittering equipages did not stop the van, nor did they stand
at the emblazoned gateways of great parks waiting patiently for
long-lost sons. He knew that he must seek them in their own social
world, and to this he would surely be raised by his phantasmagorial
income of thirty shillings a week.
"You won't object to my keeping a friendly eye on yer for the next
year or two?" asked Barney Bill, with twisted mouth and a kindly,
Paul flushed. He had the consciousness of being a selfish,
self-centered little beast, not half enough grateful to Barney Bill
for delivering him out of the House of Bondage and leading him into
the Land of Milk and Honey. He was as much stung by the delicately
implied rebuke as touched by the solicitude as to his future
welfare. Romantic words, such as he had read in the story-books,
surged vaguely in his head, but he could find none to utter. He kept
silent for a few moments, his hand in his breeches pocket. Presently
he drew it forth rather slowly, and held out the precious cornelian
heart to his benefactor.
"I 'ud like to give it thee," said Paul.
Barney Bill took it. "Thank 'ee, sonny. I'll remember that you gave
it to me. But I won't keep yer talisman. 'Ere, see--" he made a
pretence to spit on it--"that's for luck. Barney Bill's luck, and
So Paul pocketed the heart again, immensely relieved by his friend's
magnanimity, and the little sentimental episode was over.
A month later, when Barney Bill started on his solitary winter
pilgrimage in the South of England, he left behind him a
transmogrified Paul, a Paul, thanks to his munificence, arrayed in
decent garments, including collar and tie (insignia of caste) and an
overcoat (symbol of luxury), for which Paul was to repay him out of
his future earnings; a Paul lodged in a small but comfortable
third-floor-back, a bedroom all to himself, with a real bed,
mattress, pillow, sheets, and blankets all complete, and a
looking-glass, and a stand with ewer and basin so beautiful that, at
first, Paul did not dare wash for fear of making the water dirty; a
Paul already engaged for a series of sittings by Mr. Cyrus Rowlatt,
R.A., his head swimming with the wonder of the fashionable painter's
studio; a Paul standing in radiant confidence upon the brink of
"Sonny," said Barney Bill, when he said good-bye, "d'yer see them
there lovely lace-up boots you've got on?"
"Ay," said Paul, regarding them complacently.
"Well, they've got to take yer all the way up the hill, like the
young man what's his name?--Excelsure--in the piece of poetry
you recite; but they'll only do it if they continues to fit. Don't
get too big for 'em. At any rate, wait till they're worn out and yer
can buy another pair with yer own money."
Paul grinned, because he did not know what else to do, so as to show
his intellectual appreciation of the parable; but in his heart, for
all his gratitude, he thought Barney bill rather a prosy moralizer.
It was one of the disabilities of advanced old age. Alas! what can
bridge the gulf between fourteen and fifty?
"Anyhow, you've got a friend at the back of yer, sonny, and don't
make no mistake about it. If you're in trouble let me know. I can't
say fairer than that, can I?"
That, for a season, was the end of Barney Bill, and Paul found
himself thrillingly alone in London. At first its labyrinthine
vastness overwhelmed him, causing him to feel an unimportant atom,
which may have been good for his soul, but was not agreeable to his
vanity. By degrees, however, he learned the lay of the great
thoroughfares, especially those leading to the quarters where
artists congregate, and, conscious of purpose and of money jingling
in his pocket, he began to hold his head high in the crowded
streets. In the house in Barn Street, off the Euston Road, where he
lodged, he was called "Mr. Paul" by his landlady, Mrs. Seddon, and
her thirteen-year-old daughter, Jane, which was comforting and
stimulating. Jane, a lanky, fair, blue-eyed girl, who gave promise
of good looks, attended to his modest wants with a zeal somewhat out
of proportion to the payment received. Paul had the novel sensation
of finding some one at his beck and call. He beckoned and called
often, for the sheer pleasure of it. So great was the change in his
life that, in these early days, it seemed a3 if he had already come
into his kingdom. He strutted about, poor child, like the prince in
a fairy tale, and, in spite of Barney Bill's precepts-lie outgrew
his boots immediately. Mrs. Seddon, an old friend of Barney Bill,
whom she addressed and spoke as Mr. William, kept a small shop in
which she sold newspapers and twine and penny bottles of ink. In the
little back-parlour Mrs. Seddon and Tane and Paul had their meals,
while the shop boy, an inconsiderable creature with a perpetual cold
in his head, attended to the unexpected customer. To Paul, this boy,
with whom a few months ago he would have joyously changed places,
was as the dust beneath his feet. He sent him on errands in a lordly
way, treating him as, indeed, he had treated the youth of Budge
Street after his triumph over Billy Goodge, and the boy obeyed
meekly. Paul believed in himself; the boy didn't. Almost from the
beginning he usurped an ascendancy over the little household. For
all their having lived in the great maelstrom of London, he found
his superficial experience of life larger than that of mother and
daughter. They had never seen machinery at work, did not know the
difference between an elm and a beech and had never read Sir Walter
Scott. Mrs. Seddon, thin, careworn and slackly good-natured, ever
lamented the loss of an astonishingly brilliant husband; Jane was
markedly the more competent of the two. She had character, and, even
while slaving for the romantic youth, made it clear to him that for
no other man alive would she so demean herself. Paul resolved to
undertake her education.
The months slipped by golden with fulfilment. News of the beautiful
boy model went the round of the studios. Those were simpler times
(although not so very long ago) in British art than the present, and
the pretty picture was still in vogue. As Mr. Rowlatt, the young
architect, had foretold, Paul had no difficulty in obtaining work.
Indeed, it was fatally easy. Mr. Cyrus Rowlatt, R.A., had launched
him. Being fabulously paid, he thought his new profession the most
aristocratic calling in the world. In a remarkably short time he was
able to repay Barney Bill. The day when he purchased the postal
order was the proudest in his life. The transaction gave him a
princely feeling. He alone of boys, by special virtue of his origin,
was capable of such a thing. Again, his welcome in the painting
world confirmed him in the belief that he was a personage, born to
great things. Posed on the model throne, the object of the painter's
intense scrutiny, he swelled ingenuously with the conviction of his
supreme importance. The lazy luxury of the model's life appealed to
his sensuous temperament. He loved the warmth, the artistic setting
of the studios; the pictures, the oriental rugs, the bits of armour,
the old brocade, the rich cushions. If he had not been born to it,
why had he not remained, like all 'the youth of Bludston, amid the
filth and clatter of the factory? He loved, too, to hear the studio
talk, though at first he comprehended little of it. The men and
women for whom he sat possessed the same quality as his
never-forgotten goddess and Lady Chudley and the young architect--
a quality which he recognized keenly, but for which his limited
vocabulary could find no definition. Afterward he realized that it
was refinement in manner and speech and person. This quality he felt
it essential to acquire. Accordingly he played the young ape to
those who aroused his admiration.
One day when Jane entered the back-parlour he sprang from his seat
and advanced with outstretched hand to meet her: "My dear Lady Jane,
how good of you to come! Do let me clear a chair for you."
"What are you playing at?" asked Jane.
"That's the way to receive a lady when she calls on you.
"Oh!" said Jane.
He practised on her each newly learned social accomplishment. He
minced his broad Lancashire, when he spoke to her, in such a way as
to be grotesquely unintelligible. By listening to conversations he
learned many amazing social facts; among them that the gentry had a
bath every morning of their lives. This stirred his imagination to
such a pitch that he commanded Jane to bring up the matutinal
washtub to his bedroom. By instinct refined he revelled in the
resultant sensation of cleanliness. He paid great attention to his
attire, modelling himself, as far as he could, on young Rowlatt, the
architect, on whom he occasionally called to report progress. He
bought such neckties and collars as Rowlatt wore and submitted them
for Jane's approval. She thought them vastly genteel. He also
entertained her with whatever jargon of art talk he managed to pick
up. Thus, though the urchin gave himself airs and invested himself
with affectations, which rendered him intolerable to all of his own
social status, except the placid Mrs. Seddon and the adoring Jane,
he was under the continuous influence of a high ambition. It made
him ridiculous, but it preserved him from vicious and vulgar things.
If you are conscious of being a prince in disguise qualifying for
butterfly entrance into your kingdom, it behoves you to behave in a
princely manner, not to consort with lewd fellows and not to neglect
opportunities for education. You owe to yourself all the good that
you can extract from the world. Acting from this point of view, and
guided by the practical advice of young Rowlatt, he attended evening
classes, where he gulped down knowledge hungrily. So, what with
sitting and studying and backward and forward journeying, and
educating Jane, and practising the accomplishments of a prince, and
sleeping the long sound sleep of a tired youngster, Paul had no time
to think of evil. He was far too much absorbed in himself.
Meanwhile, of Bludston not a sign. For all that he had heard of
search being made for him, he might have been a runaway kitten.
Sometimes he wondered what steps the Buttons had taken in order to
find him. If they bad communicated with the police, surely, at some
stage of their journey, Barney Bill would have been held up and
questioned. But had they even troubled to call in the police? Barney
Bill thought not, and Paul agreed. The police were very unpopular in
Budge Street--almost as unpopular as Paul. In all probability the
Buttons were only too glad to be rid of him. If he found no favour
in the eyes of Mrs. Button, in the eyes of Button he was detestable.
Occasionally he spoke of them to Barney Bill on his rare appearances
in London, but for prudential motives the latter had struck Bludston
out of his itinerary and could give no information. At last Paul
ceased altogether to think of them. They belonged to a far-distant
past already becoming blurred in his memory.
So Paul lived his queer sedulous life, month after month, year after
year, known among the studios as a quaint oddity, drawn out
indulgently by the men, somewhat petted, monkey-fashion, by the
women, forgotten by both when out of their presence, but developing
imperceptibly day by day along the self-centring line. A kindly
adviser suggested a gymnasium to keep him in condition for
professional purposes. He took the advice, and in the course of time
became a splendid young animal, a being so physically perfect as to
be what the good vicar of Bludston had called him in tired jest--a
lusus naturae. But though proud of his body as any finely formed
human may honorably be, a far higher arrogance saved him from
Narcissus vanity. It was the inner and essential Paul and not the
outer investiture that was born to great things.
In his eighteenth year he gradually awoke to consciousness of
change. One of his classmates at the Polytechnic institute, with
whom be had picked a slight acquaintance, said one evening as they
were walking homeward together: "I shan't be coming here after next
week. I've got a good clerkship in the city. What are you doing?"
"I'm an artist's model," said Paul.
The other, a pale and perky youth, sniffed. His name was Higgins.
"Good Lord! What do you mean?"
"I'm a model in the life class of the Royal Academy School," said
"You stand up naked in front of all kinds of people for them to
"Of course," said Paul.
"How beastly!" said Higgins.
"What do you mean?"
"Just that," said Higgins. "It's beastly!"
A minute or two afterward he jumped on a passing the omnibus, and
thenceforward avoided Paul at the Polytechnic Institute.
This uncompromising pronouncement on the part of Higgins was a
shock; but together with other incidents, chiefly psychological,
vague, intangible phenomena of his spiritual development, it showed
Paul the possibility of another point of view. He took stock of
himself. From the picturesque boy he had grown into the physically
perfect man. As a model he was no longer sought after for subject
pieces. He was in clamorous demand at Life Schools, where he drew a
higher rate of pay, but where he was as impersonal to the intently
working students as the cast of the Greek torso which other students
were copying in the next room. The intimacy of the studio, the
warmth and the colour and the meretricious luxury were gone from his
life. On the other hand he was making money. He had fifty pounds in
the Savings Bank, the maximum of petty thrift which an
incomprehensive British Government encourages, and a fair, though
unknown, sum in an iron money-box hidden behind his washstand. Up to
now he had had no time to learn how to spend money. When he took to
smoking cigarettes, which he had done quite recently, he regarded
himself as a man.
Higgins's "How beastly!" rang in his head. Although he could not
quite understand the full meaning of the brutal judgment, it brought
him disquiet and discontent. For one thing, like the high-road, his
profession led nowhither. The thrill of adventure had gone from it.
It was static, and Paul's temperament was dynamic. He had also lost
his boyish sense of importance, of being the central figure in the
little stage. Disillusion began to creep over him. Would he do
nothing else but this all his life? Old Erricone, the patriarchal,
white-bearded Italian, the doyen of the models of London, came
before his mind, a senile posturer, mumbling dreary tales of his
inglorious achievements: how he was the Roman Emperor in this
picture and Father Abraham in the other; how painters could not get
on without him; how once he had been summoned from Rome to London;
how Rossetti had shaken hands with him. Paul shivered at the thought
of himself as the Erricone of a future generation.
The next day was Saturday, and he had no sitting. The morning he
spent in his small bedroom in the soothing throes of literary
composition. Some time ago he had thought it would be a mighty fine
thing to be a poet, and had tried his hand at verse. Finding he
possessed some facility, he decided that he was a poet, and at once
started an epic poem in rhyme on the Life of Nelson, the material
being supplied by Southey. This morning he did the Battle of the
He put the glass to his blind eye,
And said "No signals do I spy,"
wrote Paul. Poetry taken at the gallop like this was a very simple
affair, and Paul covered an amazing amount of ground.
In the afternoon he walked abroad with Jane, who, having lengthened
her skirts and put up her hair, was now a young woman looking older
than her years. She too had developed. Her lank figure had rounded
into pretty curves. Her sharp little Cockney face had filled out.
She had a pleasant smile and a capable brow, and, correcting a
tendency to fluffiness of hair of which she disapproved, and
dressing herself neatly, made herself by no means unattractive.
Constant association with Paul had fired her ambitions. Like him,
she might have a destiny, though not such a majestic one,
Accordingly she had studied stenography and typewriting, with a view
to earning her livelihood away from the little shop, which did not
offer the prospect of a dazzling career. At the back of her girlish
mind was the desire to keep pace with Paul in his upward flight, so
that he should not be ashamed of her when he sat upon the clouds in
glory. In awful secrecy she practised the social accomplishments
which Paul brought home. She loved her Saturday and Sunday
excursions with Paul--of late they had gone far afield: the Tower,
Greenwich, Ricmond--exploring London and making splendid
discoveries such as Westminster Abbey and a fourpenny tea garden at
Putney. She scarcely knew whether she cared for these things for
themselves; but she saw them through Paul coloured by his vivid
personality. Once on Chelsea Bridge he had pointed out a peculiarly
ugly stretch of low-tide mud, and said: "Look at that." She, by
unprecedented chance, mistaking his tone, had replied: "How lovely!"
And she had thought it lovely, until his stare of rebuke and
wonderment brought disillusion and spurting tears, which for the
life of him he could not understand. It is very foolish, and often
suicidal, of men to correct women for going into rapture. over mud
flats. On that occasion, however, the only resultant harm was the
conviction in the girl's heart that the presence of Paul turned mud
flats into beds of asphodel. Then, just as she saw outer things
through his eyes, she felt herself regarded by outer eyes through
him. His rare and absurd beauty made him a cynosure whithersoever he
went. London, vast and seething, could produce no such perfect
Apollo. When she caught the admiring glances of others of her sex,
little Jane drew herself up proudly and threw back insolent glances
of triumph. "You would like to be where I am, wouldn't you?" the
glance would say, with the words almost formulated in her mind. "But
you won't. You never will be. I've got him. He's walking out with me
and not with you. I like to see you squirm, you envious little cat."
Jane was not a princess, she was merely a child of the people; but I
am willing to eat my boots if it can be satisfactorily proved that
there is a princess living on the face of the earth who would not be
delighted at seeing another woman cast covetous eyes on the man she
loved, and would not call her a cat (or its homonym) for doing so.
On this mild March afternoon Paul and Jane walked in the Euston
Road, he in a loose blue serge suit, floppy black tie, low collar
and black soft felt hat (this was in the last century, please
remember--epoch almost romantic, so fast does time fly), she in
neat black braided jacket and sailor hat. They looked pathetically
"Where shall we go?" asked Jane.
Paul, in no mood for high adventure, suggested Regent's Park. "At
least we can breathe there," said he.
Jane sniffed up the fresh spring air, unconscious of the London
taint, and laughed. "Why, what's the matter with the Euston Road?"
"It's vulgar," said Paul. "In the Park the hyacinths and the
daffodils will be out."
What he meant he scarcely knew. When one is very young and out of
tune with life, one is apt to speak discordantly.
They mounted a westward omnibus. Paul lit a cigarette and smoked
almost in silence until they alighted by the Park gates. As they
entered, he turned to her suddenly. "Look here, Jane, I want to ask
you something. The other night I told a man I was an artist's model,
and he said 'How beastly!' and turned away as if I wasn't fit for
him to associate with. What was he driving at?"
"He was a nasty cad," said Jane promptly.
"Of course he was," said Paul. "But why did he say it? Do you think
there's anything beastly in being a model?"
"Certainly not." She added in modification: "That is if you like
"Well, supposing I don't like it?"
She did not reply for a minute or two. Then: "If you really don't
like it, I should be rather glad."
"Why?" asked Paul.
She raised a piteous face.
"Yes, tell me," he insisted. "Tell me why you agree with that cad
"I don't agree with him."
They fenced for a while. At last he pinned her down.
"Well, if you want to know," she declared, with a flushed cheek, "I
don't think it's a man's job."
He bit his lip. He had asked for the truth and he had got it. His
own dark suspicions were confirmed. Jane glanced at him fearful of
offence. When they had walked some yards he spoke. "What would you
call a man's job?"
Jane hesitated for an answer. Her life had been passed in a sphere
where men carpentered or drove horses or sold things in shops.
Deeply impressed by the knowledge of Paul's romantic birth and high
destiny she could not suggest any such lowly avocations, and she did
not know what men's jobs were usually executed by scions of the
nobility. A clerk's work was certainly genteel; but even that would
be lowering to the hero. She glanced at him again, swiftly. No, he
was too beautiful to be penned up in an office from nine to
six-thirty every day of his life. On the other hand her feminine
intuition appreciated keenly the withering criticism of Higgins.
Ever since Paul had first told her of his engagements at the Life
Schools she had shrunk from the idea. It was all very well for the
boy; but for the man--and being younger than he, she regarded him
now as a man--there was something in it that offended her nice
sense of human dignity.
"Well," he said. "Tell me, what do you call a man's job?"
"Oh, I don't know," she said in distress; "something you do with
your hands or your brain."
"You think being a model is undignified."
"So do I," said Paul. "But I'm doing things with my brain, too, you
know," he added quickly, anxious to be seen again on his pedestal.
"I am getting on with my epic poem. I've done a lot since you last
heard it. I'll read you the rest when we get home."
"That will be lovely," said Jane, to whom the faculty of rhyming was
a never-ceasing wonder. She would sit bemused by the jingling lines
and wrapt in awe at the minstrel.
They sat on a bench by the flower-beds, gay in their spring charm of
belated crocus and hyacinth and daffodil, with here and there a
precocious tulip. Paul, sensitive to beauty, discoursed on flowers.
Max Field had a studio in St. John's Wood opening out into a garden,
which last summer was a dream of delight. He described it. When he
came into his kingdom he intended to have such a garden.
"You'll let me have a peep at it sometimes, won't you?" said Jane.
"Of course," said Paul.
The lack of enthusiasm in his tone chilled the girl's heart. But she
did not protest. In these days, in spite of occasional outspokenness
she was still a humble little girl worshipping her brilliant
companion from afar.
"How often could I come?" she asked.
"That," said he, in his boyish pashadom, "would depend on how good
Obedient to the thought processes of her sex, she made a bee line to
"Oh, Paul, I hope you're not angry."
"At what I said about your being a model."
"Not a bit," said he. "If I hadn't wanted to know your opinion, I
wouldn't have asked you."
She brightened. "You really wanted to know what I thought?"
"Naturally," said Paul. "You're the most commonsense girl I've ever
Paul walked soberly home. Jane accompanied him--on wings.
On Monday Paul went to the Life School and stripped with a heavy
heart. Jane was right. It was not a man's job. The fact, too, of his
doing it lowered him in her esteem, and though he had no romantic
thoughts whatever with regard to Jane, he enjoyed being Lord
Paramount in her eyes. He went into the studio and took up his pose;
and as he stood on the model throne, conspicuous, glaring, the one
startling central object, Higgins's "How beastly!" came like a
material echo and smote him in the face. He felt like Adam when he
first proceeded to his primitive tailoring. A wave of shame ran
through him. He looked around the great silent room, at the rows of
students, each in front of an easel, using his naked body for their
purposes. A phrase flashed across his mind--in three years his
reading had brought vocabulary--they were using his physical body
for their spiritual purposes. For the moment he hated them all
fiercely. They were a band of vampires. Habit and discipline alone
saved him from breaking his pose and fleeing headlong. But there he
was fixed, like marble, in an athlete's attitude, showing rippling
muscles of neck and chest and arms and thighs all developed by the
gymnasium into the perfection of Greek beauty, and all useless, more
useless even, as far as the world's work was concerned, than the
muscles of a racehorse. There he was fixed, with outstretched limbs
and strained loins, a human being far more alive than the peering,
measuring throng, far more important, called by a destiny infinitely
higher than theirs. And none of them suspected it. For the first
time he saw himself as they saw him. They admired him as a thing, an
animal trained especially for them, a prize bullock. As a human
being they disregarded him. Nay, in the depth of their hearts they
despised him. Not one of them would have stood where he did. He
would have considered it--rightly--as degrading to his manhood.
The head of the school snapped his fingers impatiently and fussed up
to the model-stand. "What's the matter? Tired already? Take it easy
for a minute, if you like."
"No," said Paul, instinctively stiffening himself. "I'm never
It was his boast that he could stand longer in a given pose than any
other model, and thereby he had earned reputation.
"Then don't go to pieces, my boy," said the head of the school, not
unkindly. "You're supposed to be a Greek athlete and not Venus
rising from the sea or a jelly at a children's party."
Paul flushed all over, and insane anger shook him. How dared the
mar. speak to him like that? He kept the pose, thinking wild
thoughts. Every moment the strain grew less bearable, the
consciousness of his degradation more intense. He longed for
something to happen, something dramatic, something that would show
the vampires what manner of man he was. He was histrionic in his
A fly settled on his back--a damp, sluggish fly that had survived
the winter--and it crawled horribly up his spine. He bore it for a
few moments, and then his over-excited nerves gave way and he dashed
his hand behind him. Somebody laughed. He raised his clenched fists
and glared at the class.
"Ay, yo' can laugh--you can laugh till yo' bust!" he cried,
falling back into his Lancashire accent. "But yo'll never see me,
here agen. Never, never, never, so help me God!"
He rushed away. The head of the school followed him and, while he
was dressing, reasoned with him.
"Nay," said Paul. "Never agen. Aw'm doan wi' th' whole business."
And as Paul walked home through the hurrying streets, he thought
regretfully of twenty speeches which would have more adequately
signified his indignant retirement from the profession.
PAUL'S model-self being dead, he regarded it with complacency and
set his foot on it, little doubting that it was another
He spoke loftily of his independence.
"But how are you going to earn your living?" asked Jane, the
"I shall follow one of the arts," Paul replied. "I think I am a
poet, but I might be a painter or a musician."
"You do sing and play lovely," said Jane.
He had recently purchased from a pawnshop a second-hand mandoline,
which he had mastered by the aid of a sixpenny handbook, and he
would play on it accompaniments to sentimental ballads which he sang
in a high baritone.
"I'll not choose yet awhile," said Paul, disregarding the tribute.
"Something will happen. The 'moving finger' will point--"
"What moving finger?"
"The finger of Destiny," said Paul.
And, as the superb youth predicted, something did happen a day or
They were walking in Regent Street, and stopped, as was their wont,
before a photographer's window where portraits of celebrities were
exposed to view. Paul loved this window, bad loved it from the
moment of discovery, a couple of years before. It was a Temple of
Fame. The fact of your portrait being exhibited, with your style and
title printed below, marked you as one of the great ones of the
earth. Often he had said to Jane: "When I am there you'll be proud,
And she had looked up to him adoringly and wondered why he was not
It was Paul's habit to scrutinize the faces of those who had
achieved greatness, Archbishops, Field-Marshals, Cabinet Ministers,
and to speculate on the quality of mind that had raised them to
their high estate; and often he would shift his position, so as to
obtain a glimpse of his own features in the plate-glass window, and
compare them with those of the famous. Thus he would determine that
he had the brow of the divine, the nose of the statesman and the
firm lips of the soldier. It was a stimulating pastime. He was born
to great things; but to what great things he knew not. The sphere in
which his glory should be fulfilled was as yet hidden in the mists
But this morning, instead of roving over the illustrious gallery,
his eye caught and was fascinated by a single portrait. He stood
staring at it for a long time, lost in the thrill of thought.
At last Jane touched his arm. "What are you looking at?"
He pointed. "Do you see that?"
"Yes. It's--" She named an eminent actor, then in the heyday of
his fame, of whom legend hath it that his photographs were bought in
thousands by love-lorn maidens who slept with them beneath their
Paul drew her away from the little knot of idlers clustered round
the window. "There's nothing that man can do that I can't do," said
"You're twenty times better looking," said Jane.
"I have more intelligence," said Paul.
"Of course," said Jane.
"I'm going to be an actor," said Paul.
"Oh!" cried Jane in sudden rapture. Then her sturdy common-sense
asserted itself. "But can you act?"
"I'm sure I could, if I tried. You've only got to have the genius to
start with and the rest is easy."
As she did not dare question his genius, she remained silent.
"I'm going to be an actor," said he, "and when I'm not acting I
shall be a poet."
In spite of her adoration Jane could not forbear a shaft of
raillery. "You'll leave yourself some time to be a musician, won't
He laughed. His alert and retentive mind had seized, long ago, on
Rowlatt's recommendation at the Little Bear Inn, and he had
developed, perhaps half consciously, a half sense of humour. A whole
sense, however, is not congruous with the fervid beliefs and soaring
ambitions of eighteen. Your sense of humour, that delicate
percipience of proportion, that subrident check on impulse, that
touch of the divine fellowship with human frailty, is a thing of
mellower growth. It is a solvent and not an excitant. It does not
stimulate to sublime effort; but it can cool raging passion. It can
take the salt from tears, the bitterness from judgment, the keenness
from despair; but in its universal manifestation it would
effectually stop a naval engagement.
Paul laughed. "You mustn't think I brag too much, Jane," said he.
"For anybody else I know what I say would be ridiculous. But for me
it's different. I'm going to be a great man. I know it. If I'm not
going to be a great actor, I shall be a great something else. God
doesn't put such things into people's heads for nothing. He didn't
take me from the factory in Bludston and set me here with you,
walking up Regent Street, like a gentleman, just to throw me back
into the gutter."
"But who said you were going back to the gutter?" asked Jane.
"Nobody. I wanted to get right with myself. But--that getting
right with oneself--do you think it egotistic?"
"I don't quite know what that is."
He defined the term.
"No," she said seriously. "I don't think it is. Everybody has got a
self to consider. I don't look on it as ego-what-d'-you-call-it to
strike out for myself instead of going on helping mother to mind the
shop. So why should you?"
"Besides, I owe a duty to my parents, don't I?" he asked eagerly.
But here Jane took her own line. "I can't see that you do,
considering that they've done nothing for you."
"They've done everything for me," he protested vehemently. "They've
made me what I am."
"They didn't take much trouble about it," said Jane.
They squabbled for a while after the manner of boy and girl. At last
she cried: "Don't you see I'm proud of you for yourself and not for
your silly old parents? What have they got to do with me? And
besides, you'll never find them."
"I don't think you know what you're talking about," he said loftily.
"It is time we were getting home."
He walked on for some time stiffly, his head in the air, not
condescending to speak. She had uttered blasphemy. He would find his
parents, he vowed to himself, if only to spite Jane. Presently his
ear caught a little sniff, and looking down, saw her dabbing her
eyes with her handkerchief. His heart softened at once. "Never
mind," said he. "You didn't mean it."
"It's only because I love you, Paul," she murmured wretchedly.
"That's all right," he said. "Let us go in here"--they were
passing a confectioner's--"and we'll have some jam-puffs."
Paul went to his friend Rowlatt, who had already heard, through one
of his assistants who had a friend in the Life School, of the
dramatic end of the model's career.
"I quite sympathize with you," Rowlatt laughed. "I've wondered how
you stuck it so long. What are you going to do now?"
"I'm going on the stage."
"How are you going to get there?"
"I don't know," said Paul, "but if I knew an actor, he would be able
to tell me. I thought perhaps you might know an actor."
"I do--one or two," replied Rowlatt; "but they're just ordinary
actors--not managers; and I shouldn't think they'd be able to do
anything for you."
"Except what I say," Paul persisted. "They'll tell me how one sets
about being an actor."
Rowlatt scribbled a couple of introductions on visiting cards, and
Paul went away satisfied. He called on the two actors. The first, in
atrabiliar mood, advised him to sweep crossings, black shoes, break
stones by the roadside, cart manure, sell tripe or stocks and
shares, blow out his brains rather than enter a profession over
whose portals was inscribed the legend, Lasciate ogni speranza--he
snapped his finger and thumb to summon memory as if it were a dog.
"Voi che intrate," continued Paul, delighted at showing off the one
Italian tag he had picked up from his reading. And filled with one
of the purest joys of the young literary life and therefore
untouched by pessimistic counsel, he left the despairing actor.
The second, a brighter and more successful man, talked with Paul for
a long time about all manner of things. Having no notion of his
antecedents, he assumed him to be a friend of Rowlatt and met him on
terms of social equality. Paul expanded like a flower to the sun. It
was the first time he had spoken with an educated man on common
ground--a man to whom the great imaginative English writers were
familiar friends, who ran from Chaucer to Lamb and from Dryden to
Browning with amazing facility. The strong wine of allusive talk
mounted to Paul's brain. Tingling with excitement, he brought out
all his small artillery of scholarship and acquitted himself so well
that his host sent him off with a cordial letter to a manager of his
The letter opened the difficult door of the theatre. His absurd
beauty of face and figure, a far greater recommendation in the eyes
of the manager who had begun rehearsals for an elaborate romantic
production than a knowledge of The Faerie Queene, obtained for him
an immediate engagement--to walk on as a gilded youth of Italy in
two or three scenes at a salary of thirty shillings a week. Paul
went home and spread himself like a young peacock before Jane, and
said: "I am an actor."
The girl's eyes glowed. "You are wonderful."
"No, not I," replied Paul modestly. "It is my star."
"Have you got a big part?" asked Jane.
He laughed pityingly, sweeping back his black curls. "No, you silly,
I haven't any lines to speak"--he had at once caught up the phrase--
"I must begin at the beginning. Every actor has to do it."
"You'll get mother and me orders to come and see you, won't you?"
"You shall have a box," declared Paul the magnificent.
Thus began a new phase in the career of Paul Kegworthy. After the
first few days of bewilderment on the bare, bleak stage, where
oddments of dilapidated furniture served to indicate thrones and
staircases and palace doors and mossy banks; where men and women in
ordinary costume behaved towards one another in the most ridiculous
way and went through unintelligible actions with phantom properties;
where the actor-manager would pause in the breath of an impassioned
utterance and cry out, "Oh, my God! stop that hammering!" where
nothing looked the least bit in the world like the lovely ordered
picture he had been accustomed to delight in from the shilling
gallery--after the first few days he began to focus this strange
world and to suffer its fascination. And he was proud of the silent
part allotted to him, a lazy lute-player in attendance on the great
lady, who lounged about on terrace steps in picturesque attitudes.
He was glad that he was not an unimportant member of the crowd of
courtiers who came on in a bunch and bowed and nodded and pretended
to talk to one another and went off again. He realized that he would
be in sight of the audience all the time. It did not strike him that
the manager was using him merely as a piece of decoration.
One day, however, at rehearsal the leading lady said: "If my
lute-player could play a few chords here--or the orchestra for
him-it would help me tremendously. I've got all this long cross with
nothing to say."
Paul seized his opportunity. "I can play the mandoline," said he.
"Oh, can you?" said the manager, and Paul was handed over to the
musical director, and the next day rehearsed with a real instrument
which he twanged in the manner prescribed. He did not fail to
announce himself to Jane as a musician.
Gradually he found his feet among the heterogeneous band who walk on
at London theatres. Some were frankly vulgar, some were
pretentiously genteel, a good many were young men of gentle birth
from the public schools and universities. Paul's infallible instinct
drew him into timid companionship with the last. He knew little of
the things they talked about, golf and cricket prospects, and the
then brain-baffling Ibsen, but he listened modestly, hoping to
learn. He reaped the advantage of having played "the sedulous ape"
to his patrons of the studios. His tricks were somewhat exaggerated;
his sweep of the hat when ladies passed him at the stage door
entrance was lower than custom deems necessary; he was quicker in
courteous gesture than the young men from the universities; he bowed
more deferentially to an interlocutor than is customary outside
Court circles; but they were all the tricks of good breeding. More
than one girl asked if he were of foreign extraction. He remembered
Rowlatt's question of years ago, and, as then, he felt curiously
pleased. He confessed to an exotic strain: to Italian origin. Italy
was romantic. When he obtained a line part and he appeared on the
bill, he took the opportunity of changing a name linked with
unpleasant associations which he did not regard as his own.
Kegworthy was cast into the limbo of common things, and he became
Paul Savelli. But this was later.
He made friends at the theatre. Some of the women, by petting and
flattery, did their best to spoil him; but Paul was too ambitious,
too much absorbed in his dream of greatness and his dilettante
literary and musical pursuits, too much yet of a boy to be greatly
affected. What he prized far more highly than feminine blandishments
was the new comradeship with his own sex. Instinctively he sought
them, as a sick dog seeks grass, unconsciously feeling the need of
them in his mental and moral development. Besides, the attitude of
the women reminded him of that of the women painters in his younger
days. He had no intention of playing the pet monkey again. His
masculinity revolted. The young barbarian clamoured. A hard day on
the river he found much more to his taste than sporting in the shade
of a Kensington flat over tea and sandwiches with no matter how
sentimental an Amaryllis. Jane, who had seen the performance, though
not from a box, a couple of upper-circle seats being all that Paul
could obtain from the acting-manager, and had been vastly impressed
by Paul's dominating position in the stage fairy-world, said to him,
with a sniff that choked a sigh: "Now that you've got all those
pretty girls around you, I suppose you soon won't think of me any
Paul waved the dreaded houris away as though they were midges. "I'm
sick of girls," he replied in a tone of such sincerity that Jane
tossed her head.
"Oh? Then I suppose you lump me with the rest and are sick of me
"Don't worry a fellow," said Paul. "You're not a girl-not in that
sense, I mean. You're a pal."
"Anyway, they're lots prettier than what I am," she said defiantly.
He looked at her critically, after the brutal manner of obtuse
boyhood, and beheld an object quite agreeable to the sight. Her
Londoner's ordinarily colourless checks were flushed, her blue eyes
shone bright, her little chin was in the air and her parted lips
showed a flash of white teeth. She wore a neat simple blouse and
skirt and held her slim, half-developed figure taut. Paul shook his
head. "Jolly few of them--without grease-paint on."
"But you see them all painted up."
He burst into laughter. "Then they're beastly, near by! You silly
kid, don't you know? We've got to make up, otherwise no one in front
would be able to see our mouths and noses and eyes. From the front
we look lovely; but close to we're horrors."
"Well, how should I know that?" asked Jane.
"You couldn't unless you saw us--or were told. But now you know."
"Do you look beastly too?"
"Vile," he laughed.
"I'm glad I didn't think of going on the stage,"' she said, childish
yet very feminine unreason combining with atavistic puritanism. "I
shouldn't like to paint my face."
"You get used to it," said Paul, the experienced.
"I think it horrid to paint your face."
He swung to the door--they were in the little parlour behind the
shop--a flash of anger in his eyes. "If you think everything I do
horrid, I can't talk to you."
He marched out. Jane suddenly realized that she had behaved badly.
She whipped herself. She had behaved atrociously. Of course she had
been jealous of the theatre girls; but had he not been proving to
her all the time in what small account he held them? And now he had
gone. At seventeen a beloved gone for an hour is a beloved gone for
ever. She rushed to the foot of the stairs on which his ascending
steps still creaked.
"Come back! Do come back!"
Paul came back and followed her into the parlour.
"I'm sorry," she said.
He graciously forgave her, having already arrived at the mature
conclusion that females were unaccountable folk whose excursions
into unreason should be regarded by man with pitying indulgence.
And, in spite of the seriousness with which he took himself, he was
a sunny-tempered youth.
Barney Bill, putting into the Port of London, so to speak, in order
to take in cargo, also visited the theatre towards the end of the
run of the piece. He waited, by arrangement, for Paul outside the
stage door, and Paul, coming out, linked arms and took him to a
blazing bar in Piccadilly Circus and ministered to his thirst, with
a princely air.
"It seems rum," said Bill, wiping his lips with the back of his
hand, after a mighty pull at the pint tankard--"it seems rum that
you should be standing me drinks at a swell place like this. It
seems only yesterday that you was a two-penn'orth of nothing jogging
along o' me in the old 'bus."
"I've moved a bit since then, haven't I?" said Paul.
"You have, sonny," said Barney Bill. "But"-he sighed and looked
around the noisy glittering place, at the smart barmaids, the
well-clad throng of loungers, some in evening dress, the half-dozen
gorgeous ladies sitting with men at little tables by the window--
"I thinks as how you gets more real happiness in a quiet village
pub, and the beer is cheaper, and--gorblimey!"
He ran his finger between his stringy neck and the frayed stand-up
collar that would have sawn his head off but for the toughness of
his hide. To do Paul honour he had arrayed himself in his best--a
wondrously cut and heavily-braided morning coat and
lavender-coloured trousers of eccentric shape, and a funny little
billycock hat too small for him, and a thunder-and-lightning
necktie, all of which he had purchased nearly twenty years ago to
grace a certain, wedding a. which he had been best man. Since then
he had worn the Nessus shirt of a costume not more than half-a-dozen
times. The twisted, bright-eyed little man, so obviously ill at ease
in his amazing garb, and the beautiful youth, debonair in his
well-fitting blue serge, formed a queer contrast.
"Don't you never long for the wind of God and the smell of the
rain?" asked Barney Bill.
"I haven't the time," said Paul. "I'm busy all day long."
"Well, well," said Barney Bill, "the fellow wasn't far wrong who
said it takes all sorts to make a world. There are some as likes
electric light and some as likes the stars. Gimme the stars." And in
his countryman's way he set the beer in his tankard swirling round
and round before he put it again to his lips.
Paul sipped his beer reflectively. "You may find happiness and peace
of soul under the stars," said he, sagely, "and if I were a free
agent I'd join you tomorrow. But you can't find fame. You can't rise
to great things. I want to--well, I don't quite know what I want
to do," he laughed, "but it's something big."
"Yuss, my boy," said Barney Bill. "I understand. You was always like
that. You haven't come any nearer finding your 'igh-born
parents?"--there was a twinkle in his eyes--"'ave yer?"
"I'm not going to bother any more about them, whoever they are,"
said Paul, lighting a cigarette. "When I was a kid I used to dream
that they would find me and do everything for me. Now I'm a man with
experience of life, I find that I've got to do everything for
myself. And by George!"--he thumped the bar and smiled the radiant
smile of the young Apollo--"I'm going to do it."
Barney Bill took off his Luke's iron crown of a billycock hat and
scratched his cropped and grizzled head. "How old are you, sonny?"
"Nearly nineteen," said Paul.
"By Gosh!" said Barney Bill.
He put on his hat at a comfortable but rakish angle. He looked like
a music-hall humourist. A couple of the gorgeous ladies giggled.
"Yuss," said he, "you're a man with an experience of life--and
nobody can do nothing for you but yerself. Poor old Barney Bill has
been past helping you this many a year."
"But I owe everything to you!" cried Paul, boyishly. "If it hadn't
been for you, I should still be working in that factory at
Bill winked and nodded acquiescence as he finished his tankard.
"I've often wondered--since I've grown up--what induced you to
take me away. What was it?"
Bill cocked his head on one side and regarded him queerly. "Now
you're arsking," said he.
Paul persisted. "You must have had some reason."
"I suppose I was interested in them parents of yours," said Barney
And that was all he would say on the subject.
The days went on. The piece had run through the summer and autumn,
and Paul, a favourite with the management, was engaged for the next
production. At rehearsal one day the author put in a couple of
lines, of which he was given one to speak. He now was in very truth
an actor. Jane could no longer taunt him in her naughty moods
(invariably followed by bitter repentance) with playing a dumb part
like a trained dog. He had a real part, typewritten and done up in a
brown-paper cover, which was handed to him, with lack of humour, by
the assistant stage manager.
In view of his own instantaneous success he tried to persuade Jane
to go on the stage; but Jane had no artistic ambitions, to say
nothing of her disinclination to paint her face. She preferred the
prosaic reality of stenography and typewriting. No sphere could be
too dazzling for Paul; he was born to great things, the
consciousness of his high destiny being at once her glory and her
despair; but, as regards herself, her outlook on life was cool and
sober. Paul was peacock born; it was for him to strut about in
iridescent plumage. She was a humble daw and knew her station. It
must be said that Paul held out the stage as a career more on
account of the social status that it would give to Jane than through
a belief in her histrionic possibilities. He too, fond as he was of
the girl with whom he had grown up, recognized the essential
difference between them. She was as pretty, as sensible, as helpful
a little daw as ever chattered; but the young peacock never for an
instant forgot her daw-dom.
Jane's profound common-sense reaped its reward the following spring
when she found herself obliged to earn her livelihood. 'Her mother
died, and the shop was sold, and an aunt in Cricklewood offered Jane
a home, on condition that she paid for her keep. This she was soon
able to do when she obtained a situation with a business firm in the
city. The work was hard and the salary small; but Jane had a brave
heart and held her head high. In her simple philosophy life was
work, and dreaming an occasional luxury. Her mother's death grieved
her deeply, for she was a girl of strong affections, and the
breaking up of her life with Paul seemed an irremediable
"It's just as well," said her aunt, "that there's an end of it, or
you'd be making a fool of yourself over that young actor chap with
his pretty face. I don't hold with any of them."
But Jane was too proud to reply.
On their last night together in the Barn Street house they sat alone
in the little back-parlour as they had done for the last six years--all
their impressionable childish days. It was the only home that
Paul had known, and he felt the tragedy of its dissolution. They sat
on the old horsehair sofa, behind the table, very tearful, very
close together in spirit, holding each other's hands. They talked as
the young talk--and the old, for the matter of that. She trembled
at his wants unministered to in his new lodgings. He waved away
prospective discomfort: what did it matter? He was a man and could
rough it. It was she herself whose loss would be irreparable. She
sighed; he would soon forget her. He vowed undying remembrance by
all his gods. Some beautiful creature of the theatre would carry him
off. He laughed at such an absurdity. Jane would always be his
confidante, his intimate. Even though they lived under different
roofs, they would meet and have their long happy jaunts together.
Jane said dolefully that it could only be on Sundays, as their
respective working hours would never correspond--"And you haven't
given me your Sundays for a year," she added. Paul slid from the
dark theme and, to comfort her, spoke glowingly of the future, when
he should have achieved his greatness. He would give her a beautiful
house with carriages and servants, and she would not have to work.
"But if you are not there, what's the good of anything?" she said.
"I'll come to see you, silly dear," he replied ingenuously.
Before they parted for the night she threw her arms round his neck
impulsively. "Don't quite forget me, Paul. It would break my heart.
I've only you left now poor mother's gone."
Paul kissed her and vowed again. He did not vow that he would be a
mother to her, though to the girl's heart it seemed as if he did.
The little girl was aching for a note in his voice that never came.
Now, ninety-nine youths in a hundred who held, at such a sentimental
moment, a comely and not uncared-for maiden in their arms, would
have lost their heads (and their hearts) and vowed in the desired
manner. But Paul was different, and Jane knew it, to her sorrow. He
was by no means temperamentally cold; far from it. But, you see, he
lived intensely in his dream, and only on its outer fringe had Jane
her place. In the heart of it, hidden in amethystine mist, from
which only flashed the diadem on her hair, dwelt the exquisite, the
incomparable lady, the princess who should share his kingdom, while
he knelt at her feet and worshipped her and kissed the rosy tips of
her calm fingers. So, as it never entered his head to kiss the
finger tips of poor Jane, it never entered his head to fancy himself
in love with her. Therefore, when she threw herself into his arms,
he hugged her in a very sincere and brotherly way, but kissed her
with a pair of cast lips of Adonis. Of course he would never forget
her. Jane went to bed and sobbed her heart out. Paul slept but
little. The breaking up of the home meant the end of many precious
and gentle things, and without them he knew that his life would be
the poorer. And he vowed once more, to himself, that he would never
prove disloyal to Jane.
While he remained in London he saw what he could of her, sacrificing
many a Sunday's outing with the theatre folk. Jane, instinctively
aware of this, and finding in his demeanour, after examining it with
femininely jealous, microscopic eyes, nothing perfunctory, was duly
grateful. and gave him of her girlish best. She developed very
quickly after her entrance into the worid of struggle. Very soon it
was the woman and not the child who listened to the marvellous
youth's story of the wonders that would be. She never again threw
herself into his arms, and he never again called her a "little
silly." She was dimly aware of change, though she knew that the
world could hold no other man for her. But Paul was not.
And then Paul went on tour.
PAUL had been four years on the stage. Save as a memory they had as
little influence on the colour of his after-life as his years at
Bludston or his years in the studios. He was the man born to be
king. The attainment of his kingdom alone mattered. The intermediary
phases were of no account. It had been a period of struggle,
hardship and, as far as the stage itself was concerned, disillusion.
After the first year or so, the goddess Fortune, more fickle in
Theatreland, perhaps, than anywhere else, passed him by. London had
no use for his services, especially when it learned that he aspired
to play parts. It even refused him the privilege of walking on and
understudying. He drifted into the provinces, where, when he
obtained an engagement, he found more scope for his ambitions. Often
he was out, and purchased with his savings the bread of idleness. He
knew the desolation of the agent's dingy stairs; he knew the
heartache of the agent's dingy outer office.
He was familiar, too, with bleak rehearsals, hours of listless
waiting for his little scenes; with his powerlessness to get into
his simple words the particular intonation required by an overdriven
producer. Familiar, too, with long and hungry Sunday railway
journeys when pious refreshment rooms are shut; with little mean
towns like Bludston, where he and three or four of the company
shared the same mean theatrical lodgings; with the dirty, insanitary
theatres; with the ceaseless petty jealousies and bickerings of the
ill-paid itinerant troupe. The discomforts affected Paul but
little, he had never had experience of luxuries, and the life
itself was silken ease compared with what it would have been but for
Barney Bill's kidnapping. It never occurred to him to complain of
nubbly bed and ill-cooked steak and crowded and unventilated
dressing rooms; but it always struck him as being absurd that such
should continue to be the lot of one predestined to greatness. There
was some flaw in the working of destiny. It puzzled him.
Once indeed, being out, but having an engagement ahead, and waiting
for rehearsals to begin, he had found himself sufficiently
prosperous to take a third-class ticket to Paris, where he spent a
glorious month. But the prosperity never returned, and he had to
live on his memories of Paris.
During these years books were, as ever, his joy and his consolation.
He taught himself French and a little German. He read history,
philosophy, a smattering of science, and interested himself in
politics. So aristocratic a personage naturally had passionate Tory
sympathies. Now and again--but not often, for the theatrical
profession is generally Conservative--he came across a furious
Radical in the company and tasted the joy of fierce argument. Now
and again too, he came across a young woman of high modern
cultivation, and once or twice narrowly escaped wrecking his heart
on the Scylline rock of her intellect. It was only when he
discovered that she had lost her head over his romantic looks, and
not over his genius and his inherited right to leadership, that he
began to question her intellectual sincerity. And there is nothing
to send love scuttling away with his quiver between his legs like a
note of interrogation of that sort. The only touch of the morbid in
Paul was his resentment at owing anything to his mere personal
appearance. He could not escape the easy chaff of his fellows on his
"fatal beauty." He dreaded the horrible and hackneyed phrase which
every fresh intimacy either with man or woman would inevitably
evoke, and he hated it beyond reason. There was a tour during which
he longed for small-pox or a broken nose or facial paralysis, so
that no woman should ever look at him again and no man accuse him in
He played small utility parts and understudied the leading man. On
the rare occasions when he played the lead, he made no great hit.
The company did not, after the generous way of theatre folks,
surround him, when the performance was over, with a chorus of
congratulation. The manager would say, "Quite all' right, my boy, as
far as it goes, but still wooden. You must get more life into it."
And Paul, who knew himself to be a better man in every way than the
actor whose part he was playing, just as in his childhood days he
knew himself to be a better man than Billy Goodge, could not
understand the general lack of appreciation. Then he remembered the
early struggles of the great actors: Edmund Kean, who on the eve of
his first appearance at Drury Lane cried, "If I succeed I shall go
mad!"; of Henry Irving (then at his zenith) and the five hundred
parts he had played before he came to London; he recalled also the
failure of Disraeli's first speech in the House of Commons and his
triumphant prophecy. He had dreams of that manager on his bended
knees, imploring him, with prayerful hands and streaming eyes, to
play Hamlet at a salary of a thousand a week and of himself
haughtily snapping his fingers at the paltry fellow.
Well, which one of us who has ever dreamed at all has not had such
dreams at twenty? Let him cast at Paul the first stone.
And then, you must remember, Paul's faith in his vague but glorious
destiny was the dynamic force of his young life. Its essential
mystery kept him alert and buoyant. His keen, self-centred mind
realized that his search on the stage for the true expression of his
genius was only empirical. If he failed there, it was for him to try
a hundred other spheres until he found the right one. But just as in
his childish days he could not understand why he was not supreme in
everything, so now he could not appreciate the charge of wooden
inferiority brought against him by theatrical managers.
He had been on the stage about three years when for the first time
in his emancipated life something like a calamity befell him. He
lost Jane. Like most calamities it happened in a foolishly
accidental manner. He received a letter from Jane during the last
three weeks of a tour--they always kept up an affectionate but
desultory correspondence--giving a new address. The lease of her
aunt's house having fallen in, they were moving to the south side of
London. When he desired to answer the letter, he found he had lost
it and could not remember the suburb, much less the street and
number, whither Jane had migrated. A letter posted to the old
address was returned through the post. The tour over, and he being
again in London, he went on an errand of inquiry to Cricklewood,
found the house empty and the neighbours and tradespeople ignorant.
The poorer classes of London in their migrations seldom leave a
trail behind them. Their correspondence being rare, it is not within
their habits of life to fill up post-office forms with a view to
the forwarding of letters. He could not write to Jane because he did
not in the least know where she was.
He reflected with dismay that Jane could, for the same reason, no
longer write to him. Ironic chance had so arranged that the landlady
with whom he usually lodged in town, and whose house he used as a
permanent address, had given up letting lodgings at the beginning of
the tour, and had drifted into the limbo of London. Jane's only
guide to his whereabouts had been the tour card which he had sent
her as usual, giving dates and theatres. And the tour was over. On
the chance that Jane, not hearing from him, should address a letter
to the last theatre on the list, he communicated at once with the
local management. But as local managements of provincial theatres
shape their existences so as to avoid responsibilities of any kind
save the maintenance of their bars and the deduction of their
percentages from the box-office receipts, Paul knew that it was
ludicrous to expect it to interest itself in the correspondence of
an obscure member of a fourth-rate company which had once played to
tenth-rate business within its mildewed walls. Being young, he wrote
also to the human envelope containing the essence of stale beer,
tobacco and lethargy that was the stage doorkeeper. But he might
just as well have written to the station master or the municipal
gasworks. As a matter of fact Jane and he were as much lost to one
another as if the whole of England had been primaeval forest.
It was a calamity which he regarded with dismay. He had many friends
of the easy theatrical sort, who knew him as Paul Savelli, a
romantically visaged, bright-natured, charming, intellectual, and
execrably bad young actor. But there was only one Jane who knew him
as little Paul Kegworthy. No woman he had ever met--and in the
theatrical world one is thrown willy-nilly into close contact with
the whole gamut of the sex--gave him just the same close, intimate,
comforting companionship. From Jane he hid nothing. Before all
the others he was conscious of pose. Jane, with her cockney
common-sense, her shrewdness, her outspoken criticism of follies,
her unfailing sympathy in essentials, was welded into the very
structure of his being. Only when he had lost her did he realize
this. Amidst all the artificialities and pretences and
pseudo-emotionalities of his young actor's life, she was the one
thing that was real. She alone knew of Bludston, of Barney Bill, of
the model days the memory of which made him shiver. She alone (save
Barney Bill) knew of his high destiny--for Paul, quick to
recognize the cynical scepticism of an indifferent world, had not
revealed the Vision Splendid to any of his associates. To her he
could write; to her, when he was in London, he could talk; to her he
could outpour all the jumble of faith, vanity, romance, egotism and
poetry that was his very self, without thought of miscomprehension.
And of late she had mastered the silly splenetics of childhood. He
had an uncomfortable yet comforting impression that latterly she had
developed an odd, calm wisdom, just as she had developed a calm,
generous personality. The last time he had seen her, his quick
sensitiveness had noted the growth from girl to woman. She was
large, full-bosomed, wide-browed, clear-eyed. She had not worried
him about other girls. She had reproved him for confessed follies in
just the way that man loves to be reproved. She had mildly soared
with him into the empyrean of his dreams. She had enjoyed
whole-heartedly, from the back row of the dress-circle, the play to
which he had taken her--as a member of the profession he had, in
Jane's eyes, princely privileges--and on the top of the
Cricklewood omnibus she had eaten, with the laughter and gusto of
her twenty years, the exotic sandwiches he had bought at the
delicatessen shop in Leicester Square. She was the ideal sister.
And now she was gone, like a snow-flake on a river. For a long while
it seemed absurd, incredible. He went on all sorts of preposterous
adventures to find her. He walked through the city day after day at
the hours when girls and men pour out of their honeycombs of offices
into the streets. She had never told him where she was employed,
thinking the matter of little interest; and he, in his careless way,
had never inquired. Once he had suggested calling for her at her
office, and she had abruptly vetoed the suggestion. Paul was too
remarkable a young man to escape the notice of her associates; her
feelings towards him were too fine to be scratched by jocular
allusion. After a time, having failed to meet her in the human
torrents of Cheapside and Cannon Street, Paul gave up the search.
Jane was lost, absolutely lost--and, with her, Barney Bill. He
went on tour again, heavy-hearted. He felt that, in losing these
two, he had committed an act of base ingratitude.
He had been four years on the stage and had grown from youth into
manhood. But one day at three-and-twenty he found himself as poor in
pence, though as rich in dreams, as at thirteen.
Necessity had compelled him to take what he could get. This time it
was a leading part; but a leading part in a crude melodrama in a
fit-up company. They had played in halls and concert rooms, on pier
pavilions, in wretched little towns. It was glorious July Weather
and business was bad--so bad that the manager abruptly closed the
treasury and disappeared, leaving the company stranded a hundred and
fifty miles from London, with a couple of weeks' salary unpaid.
Paul was packing his clothes in the portmanteau that lay on the
narrow bed in his tiny back bedroom, watched disconsolately by a
sallow, careworn man who sat astride the one cane chair, his hat on
the back of his head, the discoloured end of a cigarette between his
"It's all very well for you to take it cheerfully," said the latter.
"You're young. You're strong. You're rich. You've no one but
yourself. You haven't a wife and kids depending on you."
"I know it makes a devil of a difference," replied Paul,
disregarding the allusion to his wealth. As the leading man, he was
the most highly paid member of the disastrous company, and he had
acquired sufficient worldly wisdom to know that to him who has but a
penny the possessor of a shilling appears arrogantly opulent. "But
still," said he, "what can we do? We must get back to London and try
"If there was justice in this country that son of a thief would get
fifteen years for it. I never trusted the skunk. A fortnight's
salary gone and no railway fare to London. I wish to God I had never
taken it on. I could have gone with Garbutt in The White Woman--
he's straight enough--only this was a joint engagement. Oh, the
He rose with a clatter, threw his cigarette on the floor and stamped
on it violently.
"He's a pretty bad wrong 'un," said Paul. "We hadn't been going a
fortnight before he asked me to accept half salary, swearing he
would make it up, with a rise, as soon as business got better. Like
an idiot, I consented."
His friend sat down again hopelessly. "I don't know what's going to
become of us. The missus has pawned everything she has got, poor old
girl! Oh, it's damned hard! We had been out six months."
"Poor old chap!" said Paul, sitting on the bed beside his
portmanteau. "How does Mrs. Wilmer take it?"
"She's knocked endways. You see," cried Wilmer desperately, "we've
had to send home everything we could scrape together to keep the
kids--there's five of them; and now--and now there's nothing
left. I'm wrong. There's that." He fished three or four coppers from
his pocket and held them out with a harsh laugh. "There's that after
twenty years' work in this profession."
"Poor old chap!" said Paul again. He liked Wilmer, a sober, earnest,
ineffectual man, and his haggard, kindly-natured wife. They had put
on a brave face all through the tour, letting no one suspect their
straits, and doing both him and other members of the company many
little acts of kindness and simple hospitality. In the lower
submerged world of the theatrical profession in which Paul found
himself he had met with many such instances of awful poverty. He had
brushed elbows with Need himself. That morning he had given, out of
his scanty resources, her railway fare to a tearful and despairing
girl who played the low-comedy part. But he had not yet come across
any position quite so untenable as that of Wilmer. Forty odd years
old, a wife, five children, all his life given honestly to his
calling--and threepence half-penny to his fortune.
"But, good God I" said he, after a pause, "your kiddies? If you have
nothing--what will happen to them?"
"Lord knows," groaned Wilmer, staring in front of him, his elbows on
the back of the chair and his head between his fists.
"And Mrs. Wilmer and yourself have got to get back to London."
"I've got the dress suit I wear in the last act. It's fairly new. I
can get enough on it."
"But that's part of your outfit--your line of business; you'll
want it again," said Paul.
Wilmer had played butlers up and down the land for many years. Now
and again, when the part did not need any special characterization,
he obtained London engagements. He was one of the known stage
"I can hire if I'm pushed," said he. "It's hell, isn't it? Something
told me not to go out with a fit-up. We'd never come down to it
before. And I mistrusted Larkins--but we were out six months.
Paul, my boy, chuck it. You're young; you're clever; you've had a
swell education; you come of gentlefolk--my father kept a small
hardware shop in Leicester--you have"--the smitten and generally
inarticulate man hesitated--it well, you have extraordinary
personal beauty; you have charm; you could do anything you like in
the world, save act--and you can't act for toffee. Why the blazes
do you stick to it?"
"I've got to earn my living just like you," said Paul, greatly
flattered by the artless tribute to his aristocratic personality and
not offended by the professional censure which he knew to be just.
"I've tried all sorts of other things-music, painting, poetry,
novel-writing--but none of them has come off."
"Your people don't make you an allowance?"
"I've no people living," said Paul, with a smile--and when Paul
smiled it was as if Eros's feathers had brushed the cheek of a
Praxitelean Hermes; and then with an outburst half sincere, half
braggart--"I've been on my own ever since I was thirteen."
Wilmer regarded him wearily. "The missus and I have always thought
you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth."
"So I was," Paul declared from his innermost conviction. "But," he
laughed, "I lost it before my teeth came and I could get a grip on
"Do you mean to say," exclaimed Wilmer, "that you're not doing this
"Fun?" cried Paul. "Fun? Do you call this comic?" He waved his hand
comprehensively, indicating the decayed pink-and-purple wall-paper,
the ragged oil-cloth on the floor, the dingy window with its dingier
outlook, the rickety deal wash-stand with the paint peeling off, a
horrible clothless tray on a horrible splotchy chest of drawers,
containing the horrible scraggy remains of a meal. "Do you think I
would have this if I could command silken sloth? I long like hell,
old chap, for silken sloth, and if I could get it, you wouldn't see
Wilmer rose and stretched out his hand. "I'm sorry, dear boy," said
he. "The wife and I thought it didn't very much matter to you. We
always thought you were a kind of young swell doing it for amusement
and experience--and because you never put on side, we liked you."
Paul rose from the bed and put his hand on Wilmer's shoulder. "And
now you're disappointed?"
He laughed and his eyes twinkled humorously. His vagabond life had
taught him some worldly wisdom. The sallow and ineffectual man
looked confused. His misery was beyond the relief of smiles.
"We're all in the same boat, old chap," said Paul, "except that I'm
alone and haven't got wife and kids to look after."
"Good-bye, my boy," said Wilmer. "Better luck next time. But chuck
it, if you can."
Paul held his hand for a while. Then his left hand dived into his
waistcoat pocket and, taking the place of his right, thrust three
sovereigns into Wilmer's palm. "For the kiddies," said he.
Wilmer looked at the coins in his palm, and then at Paul, and the
tears spurted. "I can't, my boy. You must be as broke as any of
us--you--half salary--no, my boy, I can't. I'm old enough to be
your father. It's damned good of you--but it's my one pride
left--the pride of both of us--the missus and me--that we've never
"But it isn't borrowed, you silly ass," cried Paul cheerfully. "It's
just your share of the spoils, such as they are. I wish to God it
was more." With both hands he clasped the thin, ineffectual fingers
over the coins and pushed the man' with his young strength out of
the door. "It's for the kiddies. Give them my love," he cried, and
slammed the door and locked it from the inside.
"Poor old chap!" said he.
Then he went through his pockets and laid the contents on the narrow
mantel-piece. These were a gold watch and chain, a cornelian heart
fixed to the free end of the chain, a silver cigarette case, a
couple of keys, one sovereign, four shillings, three pennies and two
half-pennies. A trunk already fastened and filled with books and
clothes, and the portmanteau on the bed, contained the rest of his
possessions. In current coin his whole fortune amounted to one
pound, four shillings and fourpence. Luckily he had paid his
landlady. One pound four and fourpence to begin again at
three-and-twenty the battle of life on which he had entered at
thirteen. He laughed because he was young and strong, and knew that
such reverses were foreordained chapters in the lives of those born
to a glorious destiny. They were also preordained chapters in the
lives of those born to failure, like poor old Wilmer. He was
conscious of the wide difference between Wilmer and himself. Good
Heavens! To face the world at forty-three, with wife and children
and threepence-halfpenny, and the once attendant hope replaced by
black-vestured doom! Poor Wilmer! He felt certain that Wilmer had
not been able to pay his landlady, and he felt that he had been mean
in keeping back the other sovereign.
The sudden loss, however, of three-fourths of his fortune brought
him up against practical considerations. The more he had in his
pocket when he arrived in London, the longer could he subsist. That
was important, because theatrical engagements are not picked up in a
hurry. Now; the railway fare would swallow a goodly number of
shillings. Obviously it was advisable to save the railway fare; and
the only way to do this was to walk to London. His young blood
thrilled at the notion. It was romantic. It was also inspiring of
health and joy. He had been rather run down lately, and, fearful of
the catastrophe which had in fact occurred, he had lived this last
week very sparingly---chiefly on herrings and tea. A hundred and
fifty miles' tramp along the summer roads, with bread and cheese and
an occasional glass of beer to keep him going, would be just the
thing to set him up again. He looked in the glass. Yes, his face was
a bit pinched and his eyes were rather too bright. A glorious tramp
to London, thirty or forty miles a day in the blazing and beautiful
sunshine, was exactly what he needed.
Joyously he unpacked his trunk and took from it a Norfolk jacket
suit and stockings, changed, and, leaving his luggage with his
landlady, who was to obey further instructions as to its disposal,
marched buoyantly away through the sun-filled streets of the little
town, stick in hand, gripsack on shoulder, and the unquenchable fire
of youth and hope in his heart.
MISS URSULA WINWOOD, hatless, but with a cotton sunshade swinging
over her shoulder, and with a lean, shiny, mahogany-coloured Sussex
spaniel trailing behind, walked in her calm, deliberate way down the
long carriage drive of Drane's Court. She was stout and florid, and
had no scruples as to the avowal of her age, which was forty-three.
She had clear blue eyes which looked steadily upon a complicated
world of affairs, and a square, heavy chin which showed her capacity
for dealing with it. Miss Ursula Winwood knew herself to be a
notable person, and the knowledge did not make her vain or crotchety
or imperious. She took her notability for granted, as she took her
mature good looks and her independent fortune. For some years she
had kept house for her widowed brother, Colonel Winwood,
Conservative Member for the Division of the county in which they
resided, and helped him efficiently in his political work. The
little township of Morebury--half a mile from the great gates of
Drane's Court--felt Miss Winwood's control in diverse ways.
Another town, a little further off, with five or six millions of
inhabitants, was also, through its newspapers, aware of Miss
Winwood. Many leagues, societies, associations, claimed her as
President, Vice-President, or Member of Council. She had sat on
Royal Commissions. Her name under an appeal for charity guaranteed
the deserts of the beneficiaries. What she did not know about
housing problems, factory acts, female prisons, hospitals, asylums
for the blind, decayed gentlewomen, sweated trades, dogs' homes and
Friendly Societies could not be considered in the light of
knowledge. She sat on platforms with Royal princesses, Archbishops
welcomed her as a colleague, and Cabinet Ministers sought her
For some distance from the porch of the red-brick, creeper-covered
Queen-Anne house the gravel drive between the lawns blazed in the
afternoon sun. For this reason, the sunshade. But after a while came
an avenue of beech and plane and oak casting delectable shade on the
drive and its double edging of grass, and the far-stretching riot of
flowers beneath the trees, foxgloves and canterbury bells and
campanulas and delphiniums, all blues and purples and whites, with
here and there the pink of dog-roses and gorgeous yellow splashes of
celandine. On entering the stately coolness, Miss Winwood closed her
sunshade and looked at her watch, a solid timepiece harboured in her
belt. A knitted brow betrayed mathematical calculation. It would
take her five minutes to reach the lodge gate. The train bringing
her venerable uncle, Archdeacon Winwood, for a week's visit would
not arrive at the station for another three minutes, and the two fat
horses would take ten minutes to drag from the station the landau
which she had sent to meet him. She had, therefore, eight minutes to
spare. A rustic bench invited repose. Graciously she accepted the
Now, it must be observed that it was not Miss Winwood's habit to
waste time. Her appointments were kept to the minute, and her
appointment (self-made on this occasion) was the welcoming of her
uncle, the Archdeacon, on the threshold of Drane's Court. But Miss
Winwood was making holiday and allowed herself certain relaxations.
Her brother's health having broken down, he had paired for the rest
of the session and gone to Contrexeville for a cure. She had
therefore shut up her London house in Portland Place, Colonel
Winwood's home while Parliament sat, and had come to her brother's
house, Drane's Court, her home when her presence was not needed in
London. She was tired; Drane's Court, where she had been born and
had lived all her girlhood's life, was restful; and the seat in the
shade of the great beech was cunningly curved. The shiny,
mahogany-coloured spaniel, prescient of siesta, leaped to her side
and lay down with his chin on her lap and blinked his yellow eyes.
She lay back on the seat, her hand on the dog's head, looking
contentedly at the opposite wilderness of bloom and the glimpses,
through the screen of trees and shrubs, of the sunlit stretches of
park beyond. She loved Drane's Court. Save for the three years of
her brother's short married life, it had been part of herself. A
Winwood, a very younger son of the Family--the Family being that of
which the Earl of Harpenden is Head (these things can only be
written of in capital letters)--had acquired wealth in the dark
political days of Queen Anne, and had bought the land and built the
house, and the property had never passed into alien hands. As for
the name, he had used that of his wife, Viscountess Drane in her own
right,--a notorious beauty of whom, so History recounts, he was
senilely enamoured and on whose naughty account he was eventually run
through the body by a young Mohawk of a paramour. They fought one
spring dawn in the park--the traditional spot could be seen from
where Ursula Winwood was sitting.
Ursula and her brother were proud of the romantic episode, and would
relate it to guests and point out the scene of the duel. Happy and
illusory days of Romance now dead and gone! It is not conceivable
that, generations hence, the head of a family will exhibit with
pride the stained newspaper cuttings containing the unsavoury
details of the divorce case of his great-great-grandmother.
This aspect of family history seldom presented itself to Ursula
Winwood. It did not do so this mellow and contented afternoon.
Starlings mindful of a second brood chattered in the old walnut
trees far away on the lawn; thrushes sang their deep-throated
bugle-calls; finches twittered. A light breeze creeping up the
avenue rustled the full foliage languorously. Ursula Winwood closed
her eyes. A bumble-bee droned between visits to foxglove bells near
by. She loved bumble-bees. They reminded her of a summer long ago
when she sat, not on this seat--as a matter of fact it was in the
old walled garden a quarter of a mile away--with a gallant young
fellow's arms about her and her head on his shoulder. A bumble-bee
had droned round her while they kissed. She could never hear a
bumble-bee without thinking of it. But the gallant young fellow had
been killed in the Soudan in eighteen eighty-five, and Ursula
Winwood's heart had been buried in his sandy grave. That was the
beginning and end of her sentimental history. She had recovered from
the pain of it all and now she .Loved the bumble-bee for invoking
the exquisite memory. The lithe Sussex spaniel crept farther on her
lap and her hand caressed his polished coat. Drowsiness
disintegrated the exquisite memories. Miss Ursula Winwood fell
The sudden plunging of strong young paws into her body and a series
of sharp barks and growls awakened her with a start, and, for a
second, still dazed by the drowsy invocation of the bumble-bee, she
saw approaching her the gallant fellow who had been pierced through
the heart by a Soudanese spear in eighteen eighty-five. He was dark
and handsome, and, by a trick of coincidence, was dressed in loose
knickerbocker suit, just as he was when he had walked up that very
avenue to say his last good-bye. She remained for a moment tense,
passively awaiting co-ordination of her faculties. Then clear awake,
and sending scudding the dear ghosts of the past, she sat up, and
catching the indignant spaniel by the collar, looked with a queer,
sudden interest at the newcomer. He was young, extraordinarily
beautiful; but he staggered and reeled like a drunken man. The
spaniel barked his respectable disapproval. In his long life of
eighteen months he had seen many people, postmen and butcher boys
and casual diggers in kitchen gardens, whose apparent permit to
exist in Drane's Court had been an insoluble puzzle; but never had
he seen so outrageous a trespasser. With unparalleled moral courage
he told him exactly what he thought of him. But the trespasser did
not hear. He kept on advancing. Miss Winwood rose, disgusted, and
drew herself up. The young man threw out his hands towards her,
tripped over the three-inch-high border of grass, and fell in a
sprawling heap at her feet.
He lay very still. Ursula Winwood looked down upon him. The shiny
brown spaniel took up a strategic position three yards away and
growled, his chin between his paws. But the more Miss Winwood
looked, and her blue eyes were trained to penetrate, the more was
she convinced that both she and the dog were wrong in their
diagnosis. The young man's face was deadly white, his cheeks gaunt.
It was evidently a grave matter. For a moment or so she had a qualm
of fear lest he might be dead. She bent down, took him in her
capable grip and composed his inert body decently, and placed the
knapsack he was wearing beneath his head. The faintly beating heart
proved him to be alive, but her touch on his brow discovered fever.
Kneeling by his side, she wiped his lips with her handkerchief, and
gave herself up to the fraction of a minute's contemplation of the
most beautiful youth she had ever seen. So there he lay, a new
Endymion, while the most modern of Dianas hung over him, stricken
with great wonderment at his perfection.
In this romantic attitude was she surprised, first by the coachman
of the landau and pair as he swung round the bend of the drive, and
then by the Archdeacon, who leaned over the door of the carriage.
Miss Winwood sprang to her feet; the coachman pulled up, and the
"My dear Uncle Edward"--she wrung his hand--"I'm so glad to see
you. Do help me grapple with an extraordinary situation."
The Archdeacon smiled humorously. He was a spare man of seventy,
with thin, pointed, clean-shaven face, and clear blue eyes like Miss
Winwood's. "If there's a situation, my dear Ursula, with which you
can't grapple," said he, "it must indeed be extraordinary."
She narrated what had occurred, and together they bent over the
unconscious youth. "I would suggest," said she, "that we put him
into the carriage, drive him up to the house, and send for Dr.
"I can only support your suggestion," said the Archdeacon.
So the coachman came down from his box and helped them to lift the
young man into the landau; and his body swayed helplessly between
Miss Winwood and the Archdeacon, whose breeches and gaiters were
smeared with dust from his heavy boots. A few moments afterwards he
was carried into the library and laid upon a sofa, and Miss Winwood
administered restoratives. The deep stupor seemed to pass, and he
began to moan.
Miss Winwood and the housekeeper stood by his side. The Archdeacon,
his hands behind his back, paced the noiseless Turkey carpet. "I
hope," said he, "your doctor will not be long in coming."
"It looks like a sunstroke," the housekeeper remarked, as her
mistress scrutinized the clinical thermometer.
"It doesn't," said Miss Winwood bluntly. "In sunstroke the face is
either congested or clammy. I know that much. He has a temperature
"Poor fellow!" said the Archdeacon.
"I wonder who he is," said Miss Winwood.
"Perhaps this may tell us," said the Archdeacon.
From the knapsack, carelessly handled by the servant who had brought
it in, had escaped a book, and the servant had laid the book on the
top of the knapsack. The Archdeacon took it up.
"Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici and Urn Burial. On the flyleaf,
'Paul Savelli.' An undergraduate, I should say, on a walking tour."
Miss Winwood took the book from his hands--a little cheap reprint.
"I'm glad," she said.
"Why, my dear Ursula?"
"I'm very fond of Sir Thomas Browne, myself," she replied.
Presently the doctor came and made his examination. He shook a grave
head. "Pneumonia. And he has got it bad. Perhaps a touch of the sun
as well." The housekeeper smiled discreetly. "Looks half-starved,
too. I'll send up the ambulance at once and get him to the cottage
Miss Winwood, a practical woman, was aware that the doctor gave wise
counsel. But she looked at Paul and hesitated. Paul's destiny,
though none knew it, hung in the balance. "I disapprove altogether
of the cottage hospital," she said.
"Eh?" said the doctor.
The Archdeacon raised his eyebrows. "My dear Ursula, I thought you
had made the Morebury Cottage Hospital the model of its kind."
"Its kind is not for people who carry about Sir Thomas Browne in
their pocket," retorted the disingenuous lady. "If I turned him out
of my house, doctor, and anything happened to him, I should have to
reckon with his people. He stays here. You'll kindly arrange for
nurses. The red room, Wilkins,--no, the green--the one with the
small oak bed. You can't nurse people properly in four-posters. It
has a south-east aspect"--she turned to the doctor--"and so gets
the sun most of the day. That's quite right, isn't it?"
"Ideal. But I warn you, Miss Winwood, you may be letting yourself in
for a perfectly avoidable lot of trouble."
"I like trouble," said Miss Winwood.
"You're certainly looking for it," replied the doctor glancing at
Paul and stuffing his stethoscope into his pocket. "And in this
case, I can promise you worry beyond dreams of anxiety."
The word of Ursula Winwood was law for miles around. Dr. Fuller,
rosy, fat and fifty, obeyed, like everyone else; but during the
process of law-making he had often, before now, played the part of
an urbane and gently satirical leader of the opposition.
She flashed round on him, with a foolish pain through her heart that
caused her to catch her breath. "Is he as bad as that?" she asked
"As bad as that," said the doctor, with grave significance. "How he
managed to get here is a mystery!" Within a quarter-of-an-hour the
unconscious Paul, clad in a suit of Colonel Winwood's silk pyjamas,
lay in a fragrant room, hung with green and furnished in old, black
oak. Never once, in all his life, had Paul Kegworthy lain in such a
room. And for him a great house was in commotion. Messages went
forth for nurses and medicines and the paraphernalia of a luxurious
sick-chamber, and-the lady of the house being absurdly anxious--
for a great London specialist, whose fee, in Dr. Fuller's quiet
eyes, would be amusingly fantastic.
"It seems horrible to search the poor boy's pockets," said Miss
Winwood, when, after these excursions and alarms the Archdeacon and
herself had returned to the library; "but we must try to find out
who he is and communicate with his people. Savelli. I've never heard
of them. I wonder who they are."
"There is an historical Italian family of that name," said the
"I was sure of it," said Miss Winwood.
"That his people--are--well--all right."
"Why are you sure?"
Ursula was very fond of her uncle. He represented to her the fine
flower of the Church of England--a gentleman, a scholar, an ideal
physical type of the Anglican dignitary, a man of unquestionable
piety and Christian charity, a personage who would be recognized for
what he was by Hottentots or Esquimaux or attendants of wagon-lits
trains or millionaires of the Middle West of America or Parisian
Apaches. In him the branch of the family tree had burgeoned into the
perfect cleric. Yet sometimes, the play of light beneath the surface
of those blue eyes, so like her own, and the delicately intoned
challenges of his courtly voice, exasperated her beyond measure.
"It's obvious to any idiot, my dear," she replied testily. "Just
look at him. It speaks for itself."
The Archdeacon put his thin hand on her plump shoulder, and smiled.
The old man had a very sunny smile. "I'm sorry to carry on a
conversation so Socratically," said he. "But what is 'it'?"
"I've never seen anything so physically beautiful, save the statues
in the Vatican, in all my life. If he's not an aristocrat to the
finger tips, I'll give up all my work, turn Catholic, and go into a
nunnery--which will distress you exceedingly. And then"--she
waved a plump hand--"and then, as I've mentioned before, he reads
the Religio Medici. The commonplace, vulgar young man of to-day no
more reads Sir Thomas Browne than he reads Tertullian or the
"He also reads," said the Archdeacon, stuffing his hand into Paul's
knapsack, against whose canvas the stiff outline of a book revealed
itself--"he also reads"--he held up a little fat duodecimo--
"the Chansons de Beranger."
"That proves it," cried Miss Winwood.
His blue eyes twinkled. Having a sense of humour, she laughed and
flung her great arm round his frail shoulders. "It proves, my
venerable and otherwise distinguished dear, that I am right and you
"My good Ursula," said he, disengaging himself, "I have not advanced
one argument either in favour of, or in opposition to, one single
proposition the whole of this afternoon."
She shook her head at him pityingly.
The housekeeper entered carrying a double handful of odds and ends
which she laid on the library table--a watch and chain and
cornelian heart, a cigarette case bearing the initials "P.S.," some
keys, a very soiled handkerchief, a sovereign, a shilling and a
penny. Dr. Fuller had sent them down with his compliments; they were
the entire contents of the young gentleman's pockets.
"Not a card, not a scrap of paper with a name and address on it?"
cried Miss Winwood.
"Not a scrap, miss. The doctor and I searched most thoroughly."
"Perhaps the knapsack will tell us more," said the Archdeacon.
The knapsack, however, revealed nothing but a few toilet
necessaries, a hunk of stale bread and a depressing morsel of
cheese, and a pair of stockings and a shirt declared by the
housekeeper to be wet through. As the Beranger, like the Sir Thomas
Browne, was inscribed "Paul Savelli," which corresponded with the
initials on the cigarette case, they were fairly certain of the
young man's name. But that was all they could discover regarding
"We'll have to wait until he can tell us himself," said Miss Winwood
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